Dog Brothers Public Forum

HOME | PUBLIC FORUM | MEMBERS FORUM | INSTRUCTORS FORUM | TRIBE FORUM

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
June 25, 2016, 02:29:08 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
95520 Posts in 2314 Topics by 1081 Members
Latest Member: Martel
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 ... 491 492 [493] 494 495 ... 740
24601  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Narco State? on: February 09, 2010, 05:54:47 PM
Drug cartels tighten grip; Mexico becoming 'narco-state'
Rising lawlessness echoes state of '90s-era Colombia
by Chris Hawley - Feb. 7, 2010 12:00 AM
Republic Mexico City Bureau .
MEXICO CITY - For months, the leaders of Tancitaro had held firm against the drug lords battling for control of this central Mexican town.

Then one morning, after months of threats and violence from the traffickers, they finally surrendered.


Before dawn, gunmen kidnapped the elderly fathers of the town administrator and the secretary of the City Council. Within hours, both officials resigned along with the mayor, the entire seven-member City Council, two department heads, the police chief and all 60 police officers. Tancitaro had fallen to the enemy.

Across Mexico, the continuing ability of traffickers to topple governments like Tancitaro's, intimidate police and keep drug shipments flowing is raising doubts about the Mexican government's 3-year-old, U.S.-backed war on the drug cartels.

Far from eliminating the gangs, the battle has exposed criminal networks more ingrained than most Americans could imagine: Hidden economies that employ up to one-fifth of the people in some Mexican states. Business empires that include holdings as everyday as gyms and a day-care center.

And the death toll continues to mount: Mexico saw 6,587 drug-related murders in 2009, up from 5,207 in 2008 and 2,275 in 2007, according to an unofficial tally by the respected newspaper Reforma.

Cartels have multiplied, improved their armament and are perfecting simultaneous, terrorist-style attacks.

Some analysts are warning that Mexico is on the verge of becoming a "narco-state" like 1990s-era Colombia.

"We are approaching that red zone," said Edgardo Buscaglia, an expert on organized crime at the Autonomous Technological University of Mexico. "There are pockets of ungovernability in the country, and they will expand."

For the past decade, he said, parts of Mexico have been sliding toward the lawlessness that Colombia experienced, in which traffickers in league with left-wing rebels controlled small towns and large parts of the interior through drug-funded bribery and gun-barrel intimidation.

In the latest sign of the cartels' grip, on Wednesday the National Action Party of President Felipe Calderón announced it was calling off primary elections in the northern state of Tamaulipas because drug traffickers had infiltrated politics.

And in Chihuahua, the government is redeploying troops from the embattled city of Juarez to the countryside because of fears that the cartels are cementing their control in smaller border towns.

Even Calderón, who a year ago angrily rebutted suggestions that Mexico was becoming a "failed state," is now describing his crackdown as a fight for territory and "the very authority of the state."

"The crime has stopped being a low-profile activity and has become defiant . . . . plainly visible and based on co-opting or intimidating the authorities," he told a group of Mexican ambassadors last month. "It's the law of the 'bribe or the bullet.' "


Towns on the ropes

In places like Tancitaro, population 26,000, the battle already may be lost.

In the past year, gunmen killed seven police officers, murdered a top town administrator and kidnapped others, said Martin Urbina, a city official. The reasons were unclear - most of the town leaders are in hiding and could not be reached for comment - but the drug traffickers were apparently demanding the removal of certain police officers, Urbina said.

When the traffickers kidnapped the two officials' fathers on Nov. 30, it was the last straw.

"If someone comes and puts a pistol to your head, what are you going to do?" said Gustavo Sánchez, who was appointed by the Michoacan state governor as interim mayor after the mass resignation. "It's happening in all of the states, not just here."

In Vicente Guerrero, in Durango state, 34 of 38 police resigned after the police chief and four officers were kidnapped. The victims have not been found.

In the border town of Puerto Palomas, the police chief fled to the United States and asked for asylum in March, saying Mexican officials could not protect him. In October, traffickers killed the town administrator in Puerto Palomas.

In the northern town of Namiquipa, traffickers killed the mayor and two top town officials last year. Police there are woefully outgunned, police Chief Jesus Hinojosa said. There are only 15 weapons for 39 police officers.

Often the cartels target city officials they believe are cooperating with federal authorities, said Juan Manuel Bautista, the City Council secretary in the western town of Novolato, where traffickers have killed 25 police, two city councilmen and a town administrator in the past two years.

Other times, they are simply lashing back at the most convenient targets, he said.

"In these small-town governments, everyone knows your business and who you are," Bautista said. "If they want to take revenge on you, it's easy."

Even when governments replace police chiefs, mayors and town councils, it's often only a matter of time before the replacements are bribed, intimidated at the barrel of a gun or killed, and the scenario repeats itself, said Bernardo Gonzalez Arechiga, an expert on crime at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Advanced Studies.

In May, federal officials arrested 10 mayors in Michoacan state on charges of protecting smugglers.

In June, Mauricio Fernández, a mayoral candidate in the wealthy Monterrey suburb of San Pedro Garza Garcia, was recorded telling a meeting of supporters that he had negotiated a truce with the Beltrán Leyva gang as a way of guaranteeing security in the town. Fernández later denied any contact with the gang. He easily won the July 2 election.


Financial octopus

The attempt to dismantle the cartels has created a new appreciation for how deep their financial networks go, said Joel Kurtzman, a senior fellow at the Milken Institute, an economic think tank in Santa Monica, Calif.

In many towns, smugglers pay for playgrounds and other things the government cannot afford. Bank loans are expensive and hard to get in Mexico, a lingering effect of the country's bank crises during the 1990s, so traffickers have stepped in to provide small-business loans.

"What people did not recognize in Mexico was how deeply ingrained in both the economy and society the drug trade was," Kurtzman said. "So it's not as if the drug traders are unpopular - they're looked at in many cities like Robin Hoods."

Since 2006, the number of Mexican citizens and companies on the U.S. Treasury's blacklist of suspected drug smugglers has nearly doubled, from 188 to 362.

They are as varied as a day-care center in Culiacan, a gym in Hermosillo and an electronics company in Tijuana. There are meat packing plants, horse stables, dairies, hotels, a mining company and gasoline stations.

Dozens of those companies are still operating because Mexican prosecutors lack few legal tools to shut them down, Buscaglia said.

In March, the financial magazine Forbes included Joaquín "Chapo" Guzmán in its list of the world's billionaires for the first time. Guzmán, the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, was listed at No. 701 with a net worth of about $1 billion.

In fact, Guzmán's cartel and other gangs probably bring in $3.8 billion just to Sinaloa state alone, said Guillermo Ibarra, an economist who used bank and government statistics to compile an estimate this year.

That is 20 percent of the state's economy, twice as much as all of its factories put together. The drug trade employs about a fifth of the state's 2.6 million population, either directly or indirectly, he said.

"It trickles down to construction, to car sales, you name it," Ibarra said. "Drug money ends up everywhere."

The cartels' criminal activities also are becoming more diverse, Buscaglia said.

La Familia Michoacana, which produces methamphetamine at clandestine laboratories in Michoacan state, has broadened into prostitution, protection rackets and software piracy.

Street vendors in Mexico now sell music CDs and DVDs stamped with "FM," the gang's logo.

Likewise, the Zetas, once the elite hit men of the Gulf Cartel, now run kidnapping-for-ransom rings in Mexico City and steal gasoline from government pipelines. Pemex, the state-run oil company, says it lost $747 million in stolen fuel in 2008.


Gangs going strong

The cartels also have found ways to defend their core drug business by moving marijuana farms to U.S. national parks, finding new smuggling routes through Africa and into Europe, and strengthening their supply lines in Central America.

Drug prices and purity in the United States, the main measure of trafficking, shows the crackdown is having only mixed results.

Cocaine prices in the United States jumped from $132 a gram to $182 a gram from September 2007 to September 2008, the latest date for which the Drug Enforcement Administration has released numbers.

But during the same period, methamphetamine got stronger and cheaper, dropping from $213 per gram to $184 per gram.

To offset tighter border security, Mexican traffickers are setting up marijuana farms on public lands in California, Washington and Oregon, a U.S. Department of Justice report said in July. The number of marijuana plants seized in the United States soared from 3.2 million in 2004 to 8 million in 2008.

Their product is also improving, the report said: Marijuana potency in 2008 was the highest it has ever been.

The cartels also are expanding into new territory.

Since 2008, Mexican drug smugglers have been arrested in Australia, New Zealand and the African nations of Sierra Leone and Togo. U.S. prosecutors say the Gulf Cartel has struck deals with the New York mob and the Ndrangheta Mafia of Italy to smuggle cocaine into Europe.

In the United States, cartel operatives have been detected in 195 cities, as distant as Anchorage, Alaska, and as small as Ponca City, Okla., a report by the U.S. Justice Department said.

In Arizona, the Sinaloa Cartel has operations in Phoenix, Tucson, Douglas, Glendale, Naco, Nogales, Peoria, Sasabe, Sierra Vista and Yuma. The Gulf Cartel also has some operatives in Nogales, and the Juarez Cartel has outposts in Phoenix, Tucson and Douglas, the report said.

Buscaglia said his research has turned up links to Mexican traffickers in 47 countries worldwide.

"Mexico has become an exporter of instability," he said.

At the same time, the cartels are acquiring weapons that are "increasingly more powerful and lethal," the U.S. Government and Accountability Office said in a June report.

Five rocket launchers, 271 grenades, 2,932 assault rifles, a submarine loaded with cocaine, and an anti-aircraft gun complete with blast shield were all seized by Mexican authorities between March 2008 and August 2009.

In September, traffickers fired an anti-tank rocket at soldiers while trying to free a comrade who had been detained.

The gangs also are getting better at carrying out coordinated, military-style operations.

On July 11 and 12, La Familia launched 15 attacks in eight cities on police stations and a police bus, killing 14 officers.

And on May 16, Gulf Cartel gunmen freed 53 prisoners in a commando-style raid on a prison in Zacatecas state.


Prolonged war

Calderón and the Obama administration insist that the Mexican government still has the upper hand against the cartels.

"We have a serious problem, but the good news is that we're confronting it, and better yet, we're making progress," Calderón told the ambassadors last month.

But in the past year, doubts have been growing.

A report by the U.S. Joint Forces Command warned in January 2009 that Mexico was ripe for a "rapid and sudden collapse" because of the drug cartels. And in a report to the West Point military academy, former U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey said the cartels could "overwhelm the institutions of the state and establish de facto control over broad regions of northern Mexico" within eight years.

Former President Ernesto Zedillo, writer Carlos Fuentes, former foreign minister Jorge Castañeda and the former chief of Calderón's National Action Party have publicly questioned the president's strategy.

In Colombia, the government was able to re-establish control in rural areas by eliminating a "demilitarized" zone that had been granted to the leftist guerrillas, renewing attacks on them and spraying coca fields with pesticides. The United States has helped with $5.8 billion in aid since 2000.

But in Mexico, the government needs to focus on the prosecution of crimes instead of flooding the streets with troops, Buscaglia said.

Only about half of detainees are ever convicted, and most are low-level thugs, not the money launderers, accountants and managers who keep the cartels running.

Of the more than 53,000 arrests since the crackdown began, only 941 are in Sinaloa, despite the fact that that state is the heart of one of the biggest smuggling empires, Buscaglia said.

The government also needs laws allowing authorities to shut down suspected money-laundering operations and seize their assets without going through a criminal trial, he said.

Only three things could change the balance, said Ray Walser, an expert on Latin America at the conservative Heritage Foundation: a massive increase in U.S. drug aid, a large addiction-treatment program in the United States or the legalization of drugs in the United States.

None of these measures seems to be on the horizon, Walser said.

"The problem that Calderón has in winning this war will be that he can't offer the citizens courts, mayors and policemen that are safe and honest and not corrupt," Kurtzman said.

"As a result, this is likely to remain a stalemate with a lot of killing on both sides for a long time."
24602  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Warning shot across our bow on: February 09, 2010, 05:45:02 PM
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6183KG20100209
24603  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fg French on: February 09, 2010, 05:15:54 PM
France has agreed to sell Russia an advanced amphibious warship and is considering a Russian request for three more, French defense officials said Monday. It would be the first major arms deal between Russia and a NATO member.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy approved the sale of one Mistral assault ship after months of discussions, but then Russian naval officials submitted a request for three more, said Jacques de Lajugie, head of international development at the French arms agency DGA.

"We are in the process of examining" this request, de Lajugie said at a news conference, predicting a decision in the coming weeks. He said the new request came not at the "political level" but from the general staff of the Russian Navy.

No details about price were released.

The Mistral can anchor in coastal waters and deploy troops on land, a capacity the Russian navy now lacks. Russia's navy chief said last year that a ship like the Mistral would have allowed the Russian navy to mount a much more efficient action in the Black Sea during the Georgia-Russia war. He said the French ship would take just 40 minutes to do the job that the Russian Black Sea Fleet vessels did in 26 hours.

The deal is richly symbolic for Russia, seeking to modernize an aging navy reliant on Soviet-era technology and to project its power abroad more effectively — and more impressively. The sale has alarmed some of Russia's former Soviet bloc neighbors, including those now in NATO, especially after the Russia-Georgia war in 2008.

Possessing a Mistral, which can carry 16 attack helicopters and dozens of armored vehicles, would significantly increase the Russian military's capability to mount quick offensives. France sent a Mistral, which weighs 23,700 tons and is 980 feet long, to visit St. Petersburg last year in a clear sign of interest in a potential sale.

France's Defense Minister Herve Morin, meeting in Paris with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said Monday that France hopes to contribute to European stability.

"I understand that for some central and eastern European countries, that the wounds are still there. France wants a new relationship and that means it needs to go through new exchanges," he told reporters.

Gates said he and Morin discussed the French warship sale to Russia and had "a good and thorough exchange of views." He would not comment further.

NATO members and Russia have had some small, country-to-country technology deals in the past but this would be the first sale of a major piece of equipment by a NATO nation to Moscow.

"The Mistral is packed with electronics, it also serves as a command ship and a communications hub. That will allow the Russia to obtain modern naval technologies," Alexander Golts, an independent Russian military analyst, said in a telephone interview.

"The Mistral would offer a capability to project power to distant areas, something that both France and Russia like to have," Golts said.

Some other analysts have been skeptical that buying Mistral will help the Russian navy modernize because the ship sold to Russia may be stripped of its most sensitive and valuable systems.

"I believe that it's not a good idea to sell such ship to a country that has occupied another nation's territory," Temur Yakobashvili, a Georgian cabinet minister for reintegration who is in charge of issues related to separatist regions, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview after the French announcement.

Russian and NATO officials did not immediately comment Monday on the French announcement.

Among outstanding questions in the deal are where the Mistral would be built, de Lajugie said.

Russian officials have repeatedly said they want the technology, not just the ships. They emphasized that Russia wants to buy the first ship and build more under license, something France has reportedly been hesitant to allow.
24604  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Now, why didn't we think of this before? on: February 09, 2010, 12:23:41 PM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRgRz3nSG7o&feature=player_embedded#
24605  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: February 09, 2010, 08:03:26 AM
Bolton is right I fear.  I would add that this , , , farce in which we are currently are engaged, what Krauthammer calls a "Kabuki Theater", is designed to pass the time until Iran has nukes.

Our deadline of September and then the "we are really serious this time deadline of 12/31" of have come and gone.

I saw SecDef Gates last night say our really big next move is to get a UN resolution shocked rolleyes cry  as if Iran's violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty which it signed were not enough.  PATHETIC.

That said, I certainly am not hearing any eagerness from our military for a military solution and Iran is not an easy nut to crack as those who glibly envision an Osirak 2 seem to think.   Are there non-nuclear solutions?  Anyone?  Anyone here calling for nukes?

It is more than worth noting that this farce began during the Bush administration and of the Euros that the Germans in particular bear the responsibility for the consequences for undercutting the economic pressures on Iran until it is now too late.  Also worth noting is that the Chinese depend on Iran for much of their energy and now that we have given them such huge claims upon us and our resources that we are in no position to  pressure them or blow them off.

24606  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: February 09, 2010, 07:52:20 AM
BBG:

Nice find.
24607  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Membership on: February 09, 2010, 07:49:17 AM
Kaju:

I sent word to Pretty Kitty.  She just caught the kooties from our daughter last night, so it may take her a day or three.
24608  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: February 09, 2010, 07:47:58 AM
Grateful for two days of training this past weekend with Kenny Johnson and a fine group at our Camp.

The Adventure continues!
24609  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: February 08, 2010, 09:01:24 AM
Special Forces Assassins Infiltrate Taliban Stronghold in Afghanistan

Sunday , February 07, 2010

American and British forces poised to assault the Taliban stronghold of Marjah, in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province, have begun targeting insurgent leaders for assassination, The Sunday Times reported.

Special forces have been infiltrating the town on "kinetic" missions — jargon for armed attacks.

"Special forces guys have been going in on assassination missions with the aim of decapitating the Taliban force," a military source told the Sunday Times.

At U.S. Marine base Camp Leatherneck and the adjoining British base of Camp Bastion, troops and munitions have been airlifted in by night to avoid enemy rockets. In a break from traditional military secrecy, American, British and Afghan commanders have revealed that Marjah, the last town in Helmand under Taliban control, will in fact be the site of fighting in the near future.

Though Operation Moshtarak —Operation Together — has been widely publicized by top military leaders, the timeline for the offensive has not been revealed.

The success of the planned campaign depends on how quickly troops and civilian development workers can get public services up and running once the Taliban have been driven away, the top U.S. and NATO commander said Sunday.

The military has widely publicized the upcoming offensive in Marjah — the biggest Taliban-held community in the south — although the precise date for the attack in Helmand province remains classified.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal said the element of surprise is not as important as letting Marjah's estimated 80,000 residents know that an Afghan government is on its way to replace Taliban overlords and drug traffickers.

"We're trying to create a situation where we communicate to them that when the government re-establishes security, they'll have choices," McChrystal said.

Establishing functioning government has been messy even in the relatively safe parts of Afghanistan. NATO forces and international diplomats have to balance the need to increase security with the desire to build up Afghan institutions that have too-often been corrupt or ineffective.

24610  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / I'm having a hard time understanding this , , , on: February 08, 2010, 08:11:55 AM
and I mean that quite seriously huh

Today's edition of the WSJ reports Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will begin this week to lay out a blueprint for a credit tightening, to be followed once the Fed decides the economy has recovered sufficiently. The centerpiece will be a new tool Congress gave the central bank in October 2008: an interest rate the Fed pays banks on money they leave on reserve at the central bank. Known as "interest on excess reserves," this rate is now 0.25%.


The Fed is still at least several months away from raising interest rates or beginning to drain the flood of money it poured into the financial system in 2008 and 2009. But looking ahead to when the economy is strong enough to warrant tightening credit, officials have been discussing for months which financial levers to pull, when to start and how best to communicate their intent. When the Fed is ready to tap the brakes, it plans to raise the rate paid on excess reserves, according to Fed officials in interviews and recent speeches. The higher rate would entice banks to tie up money they otherwise might lend to customers or other banks. The Fed expects such a maneuver to pull up other key short-term rates, including the federal-funds rate at which banks lend to each other overnight—long the main tool for steering the economy.
24611  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Tea Party on: February 08, 2010, 07:34:41 AM

http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/THE TEA PARTY
"It's a leaderless movement" former House majority leader Dick Armey

The Tea Party movement in the US is an open source political protest.  It emerged due to a substantial loss of government legitimacy (primarily from the mishandling of the global financial crisis) and continues to percolate as legitimacy continues to drain away from the government (health care, banking reform, unemployment, foreclosures, bankruptcy, deficit, etc.).  Here's what open source means in this context:


•Lots of small local groups (and individuals), with a plethora of different motivations for action. 
•No barriers to entry.  Anybody can label themselves or their actions as part of the Tea Party.
•Lots of networked activity and cross movement communication.

As a movement, it is very similar to open source warfare and therefore shares many of the same dynamics.  Here are a few of them: 


•Its main value is systems disruption.  It can slow political processes.  It can say no (the name, "Tea Party" is derived from an act of disruptive, albeit non-violent, domestic terrorism directed at the government).
•There are lots of people trying to control it (grab the baton to lead the parade) and form it into a cohesive whole.  All of these efforts will fail.  Every attempt at control will be attacked and defeated by a majority of Tea Party groups/members.
•Swarms.  Groups will rapidly converge on attractive protest targets (typically signaled by media coverage via stigmergy). 
Traditionally, a failure by the government would result in a gain by the opposition party.  However, the peculiar dynamics of the two party system in the US works against this.  The two parties have converged into a single dominant party with roughly similar agendas.  Further, these parties have rigged the system to prevent third party formation.  As a result, there isn't a structured process to absorb this movement into the political system.  Here are some potential outcomes:


•It will merely damage the political party in power, preventing any action by saying no to everything (regardless of which political party is in power).  A future Republican government presiding over more loses of government legitimacy would yield movement growth and mutation.
•The Republicans will run an open source counter-insurgency against it, co-opting some of its member groups (not all) and using them to fight against the rest.  The result will be dissipation through infighting which will allow the Republicans to pick up former members.
•A new plausible promise emerges that allows it to grow and morph into something else (more of an insurgency than a political protest).  It's unclear if the environment is ripe for this yet.  A second financial crisis or recession downdraft may afford it.  Once it is ripe, all it takes is for one subgroup to demonstrate the plausible promise through action (for example:  a real and not a metaphorical Tea Party).
24612  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: February 08, 2010, 07:33:35 AM




"Your love of liberty -- your respect for the laws -- your habits of industry -- and your practice of the moral and religious obligations, are the strongest claims to national and individual happiness." --George Washington, letter to the residents of Boston, 1789

"Nothing is more certain than that a general profligacy and corruption of manners make a people ripe for destruction. A good form of government may hold the rotten materials together for some time, but beyond a certain pitch, even the best constitution will be ineffectual, and slavery must ensue." --John Witherspoon, The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men, 1776

"It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigor. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution." --Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia Query 19, 1781

"The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men." --Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, 1775

"[N]either the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt." --Samuel Adams, essay in The Public Advertiser, 1749

"In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate - look to his character...." --Noah Webster, Letters to a Young Gentleman Commencing His Education, 1789

"If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Cooper, 1802

"No compact among men ... can be pronounced everlasting and inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no Wall of words, that no mound of parchment can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the one side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other." --George Washington, draft of first Inaugural Address, 1789
24613  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Palo Venezolano on: February 08, 2010, 07:21:35 AM
Hola Spike:

Tienes email.

Crafty Dog
24614  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Unsustainable is the new normal on: February 08, 2010, 07:08:12 AM
Unsustainable the New Normal

By Mark Steyn

 

At the National Prayer Breakfast, Barack Obama singled out for praise Navy Corpsman Christian Bouchard. Or, as the president called him, "Corpseman Bouchard." Twice.



Hey, not a big deal. Throughout his life, the commander in chief has had little contact with the military, and less interest. And, when you give as many speeches as this guy does, there's no time to rehearse or read through: You just gotta fire up the prompter and wing it. But it's revealing that nobody around him in the so-called smartest administration of all time thought to spell it out phonetically for him when the speech got typed up and loaded into the machine. Which suggests that either his minders don't know that he doesn't know that kinda stuff, or they don't know it, either. To put it in Rumsfeldian terms, they don't know what they don't know.



Which is embarrassingly true. Hence, the awful flop speeches, from the Copenhagen Olympics to the Berlin Wall anniversary video to the Martha Coakley rally. The palpable whiff given off by the White House inner circle is that they're the last people on the planet still besotted by Barack Obama, and that they're having such a cool time starring in their own reality-show remake of "The West Wing" they can only conceive of the public – and, indeed, the world – as crowd-scene extras in "The Barack Obama Show." They expect you to cheer and wave flags when the floor manager tells you to, but the notion that, in return, he should be able to persuade you of the merits of his policies seems entirely to have eluded them.



But, since Obama's mispronunciation is a pithier summation of the State of the Union than any of the dreary 90-minute sludge he paid his speechwriters for, let us consider it: Is America a Corpseman walking?



Well, we're getting there. National Review's Jim Geraghty sums up Obama's America thus: "Unsustainable is the new normal." Indeed. The other day, Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, described current deficits as "unsustainable." So let's make them even more so. The president tells us, with a straight face, that his grossly irresponsible profligate wastrel of a predecessor took the federal budget on an eight-year joyride, so the only way his sober, fiscally prudent successor can get things under control is to grab the throttle and crank it up to what Mel Brooks in "Spaceballs" (which seems the appropriate comparison) called "Ludicrous Speed."\



Obama's spending proposes to take the average Bush deficit for the years 2001-08, and double it, all the way to 2020. To get out of the Bush hole, we need to dig a hole twice as deep for one-and-a-half times as long. And that's according to the official projections of his Economics Czar, Ms. Rose Colored-Glasses. By 2015, the actual hole may be so deep that even if you toss every Obama speech down it on double-spaced paper you still won't be able to fill it up. In the spendthrift Bush days, federal spending as a proportion of GDP averaged 19.6 percent. Obama proposes to crank it up to 25 percent as a permanent feature of life.



But, if they're "unsustainable," what happens when they can no longer be sustained? A failure of bond auctions? A downgraded government debt rating? Reduced GDP growth? Total societal collapse? Mad Max on the New Jersey Turnpike?



Testifying to the House Budget Committee, Director Elmendorf attempted to pull back from the wilder shores of "unsustainable": "I think most observers expect that the government will act, that the unsustainability will be resolved through action, not through witnessing some collapse down the road," he said. "If literally nothing is done, then eventually something very, very bad happens. But I think the widespread view is that you and your colleagues will take action."



Dream on, you kinky fantasist. The one thing that can be guaranteed is that a political class led by Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, a handful of reach-across-the-aisle Republican accomodationists and an economically illiterate narcissist in the Oval Office is never going to rein in unsustainable spending in any meaningful sense. That leaves Director Elmendorf's alternative scenario. What was it again? Oh, yeah:



"Some collapse down the road."



Speaking of roads, I see that, according to USA Today, when the economic downturn began the U.S. Department of Transportation had just one employee making over $170,000. A year and a half later, it has 1,690.



Happy days are here again!



Did you get your pay raise this year? What's that, you don't work for the government? Yes, you do, one way or another. Good luck relying on Obama, Pelosi, Frank and the other Emirs of Kleptocristan "taking action" to "resolve" that. In the past month, the cost of insuring Greece's sovereign debt against default has doubled. Spain and Portugal are headed the same way. When you binge-spend at the Greek level in a democratic state, there aren't many easy roads back. The government has introduced an austerity package to rein in spending. In response, Greek tax collectors have walked off the job.



Read that again slowly: To protest government cuts, striking tax collectors are refusing to collect taxes. In a sane world, this would be an hilarious TV comedy sketch. But most of the Western world is no longer sane. It's tough enough to persuade the town drunk to sober up, but when everyone's face down in the moonshine, maybe it's best just to head for the hills. But where to flee? America is choosing to embrace Greece's future when even the Greeks have figured out you can't make it add up. Consider the opening paragraph of Martin Crutsinger, "AP Economics Writer":



"WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama sent Congress a $3.83 trillion budget on Monday that would pour more money into the fight against high unemployment, boost taxes on the wealthy and freeze spending for a wide swath of government programs."



What language is that written in? How can a $3.83 trillion budget "freeze spending"? And where's the president getting all this money to "pour" into his "fight" against high unemployment? Would it perchance be from the same small businesses that might be hiring new workers if the president didn't need so much money to "pour" away? Heigh-ho. Maybe we can all be striking tax collectors. It seems a comfortable life. If unsustainable is the new normal, it should also be the new national anthem. Take it away, Natalie Cole:



"Unsustainable

That's what you are

Unsustainable

Though near or far[/

Like a ton of debt you've dropped on us

How the thought of you has flopped on us

Never before Has someone spent more … ."

It's not the "debt" or the "deficit," it's the spending. And the only way to reduce that is with fewer government agencies, fewer government programs, fewer government employees, lower government salaries.

Instead, all four are rocketing up: We are incentivizing unsustainability, and, when it comes to "some collapse down the road," you'll be surprised how short that road is.
24615  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / second post on: February 07, 2010, 09:36:03 PM
The Deadly Gonorrhea Lectim Strain


The United States Center for Contagious Disease Control has issued a level 1 warning about a new virulent strain that has been quickly spreading. The disease is contracted through dangerously high-risk behavior.  The disease is called Gonorrhea Lectim, and is pronounced "gonna re-elect them."  Research has confirmed that most victims contracted this dangerous and destructive disease after having been screwed in November 2008.  Naturalists and epidemiologists are amazed at how destructive this disease has become and have further learned that it is easily cured .... by simply voting out all incumbents!  In spite of the perils, Pelosi, Reid and Obama are working in secret legislation to place Gonorrhea Lectim on the endangered species list to assure its survival.
24616  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spring 2010 DB Tribal Gathering on: February 07, 2010, 09:20:57 PM
INDEED!

I had no hesitation in turning down Salty Dog's invitation in this regard several years ago.

BTW, Tricky has emailed me that he has sustained a serious achilles injury.  More on this shortly.
24617  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm) Training Camp Feb 6-7 on: February 07, 2010, 09:19:16 PM
Good times cool cool cool

Outstanding contributions from Kenny Johnson.

Night Owl directed a two camera shoot.  DLO-3 coming  , , , soon!
24618  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Italian confession on: February 07, 2010, 09:17:48 PM
*_Italian Confession_*

  An elderly Italian man who lived on the outskirts of Rimini, Italy,
  went to the local church for confession.  When the priest slid open
  the panel in the confessional, the man said:

   "Father.. During World War II, a beautiful Jewish woman from our   neighborhood knocked urgently on my door and asked me to hide her
  from the Nazis.  So I hid her in my attic."

   The priest replied: "That was a wonderful thing you did, and you
  have no need to confess that."

   "There is more to tell, Father.. She started to repay me with
  sexual favors.    This happened several times a week, and sometimes
  twice on Sundays."

   The priest said, "That was a long time ago and by doing what you
  did, you placed the two of you in great danger, but two people under
  those circumstances can easily succumb to the weakness of the
  flesh.  However, if you are truly sorry for your actions, you are
  indeed forgiven."

   "Thank you, Father. That's a great load off my mind.  I do have one
  more question."

   "And what is that?" asked the priest..

   "Should I tell her the war is over?''
24619  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm) Training Camp Feb 6-7 on: February 06, 2010, 10:52:09 AM
Door opens 09:30.
24620  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: February 05, 2010, 05:30:21 PM
Tomorrow, Sat the 6th, is President Reagan's 99th birthday.  Happy Birthday President Reagan.  Thank you for everything.
24621  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm) Training Camp Feb 6-7 on: February 05, 2010, 04:38:28 PM
Yay!
24622  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Promo clip on: February 05, 2010, 03:33:21 PM
The promo clip is up!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvF_iDurNEk
24623  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Dog Brothers Open Gathering Sept 19, 2010 on: February 05, 2010, 12:43:33 AM
Woof All:

Just opening this thread.

"HCTHC" (c)
Crafty Dog
Guiding Force
24624  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm) Training Camp Feb 6-7 on: February 05, 2010, 12:41:36 AM
Woof All:

I should mention that for those so inclined there will be a dinner at local restaurant on Saturday night.  Subject to confirmation by the group there on Saturday, the idea is to start a bit earlier on Sunday so as to facilitate the Superbowl for those so inclined.
24625  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nuclear Power on: February 04, 2010, 10:50:20 AM
So, spell it out for us simple folks-- are you saying we are running out of storage even as we decide to build more?
24626  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: February 04, 2010, 10:46:05 AM
The Reagan Model for Restoration
"No man can well doubt the propriety of placing a president of the United States under the most solemn obligations to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution." --Joseph Story

Commander and ChiefThis week, we observe the anniversary of Ronald Wilson Reagan's birthday -- Reagan Day as it is known around our office.

Ronald Reagan was, and remains, the North Star of the last great conservative revolution -- and the next -- if more Republicans will abide by their oaths to Support and Defend our Constitution and abide by their own political party platform.

At the most recent Republican National Committee confab, some members proposed a "Unity Principle for Support of Candidates" resolution, which identified 10 conservative principles, at least eight of which Republican candidates must support in order to receive RNC funding.

The measure failed, perhaps because more than a few of the current crop of politicos who call themselves "Republican" could not pass muster.

Subsequent to that failed motion, some Leftist intellectuals (an oxymoron, I know, but play along) opined that, based on Reagan's record, not even he would have passed the test.

Of course, as Leftists are prone to do, they are contorting the record so it will comport with their hypothesis, or as Reagan said famously, "The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so."

What is clear about the Reagan record is that he both campaigned and governed on our First Principles, Constitutional Rule of Law and the basic tenets of Essential Liberty.

Unfortunately, at no time did President Reagan have Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, much less a super majority. Because of this, his conservative credentials were sometimes undermined by the opposition. This is most notable in the House's failure to abide by negotiated government spending cuts to social programs commensurate with the tax cuts and increased defense spending that Reagan enacted.

Reagan resurrected supply-side economics -- the real-world-tested fiscal policy that reductions in tax rates and government spending will invigorate the private sector economy, elevate GDP, resulting, ironically, in additional tax revenues even at the lower rates of taxation. But the principle works best only if reduced tax rates are accompanied by comparable reductions in government spending.

Democrats refused to cut spending, all while belittling Reagan's efforts as "trickle-down economics."

However, supply-side economics is so powerful that even though Democrat-controlled House budgets led to record deficits, Reagan's economic policies resulted in the largest peacetime economic surge in American history. This, of course, is in stark contrast to the "trickle-up poverty" of the current administration's past, present and proposed "economic recovery" plans.

 
Click Here 

 Trickle Up Poverty sticker
Our high quality vinyl bumper sticker, sporting Obama's campaign logo, speaks for itself. Measures 3" x 9"
 

Typical of great statesmen, Ronald Reagan took no credit for our nation's economic recovery under his tenure. He was called "The Great Communicator" because of his ability to remind us of our nation's values, its character, its soul and its confidence, a far cry from the incessant apologizing and the political chicanery that characterize the Obama presidency.

"I wasn't a great communicator," President Reagan said in his farewell address, "but I communicated great things, and they didn't spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation -- from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries."

And what were those principles?

Back in 1964, shortly after Reagan parted ways with the Democrat Party ("I did not leave the Democrat Party. The Democrat Party left me."), he delivered a timeless challenge to conservatives entitled "A Time for Choosing": "You and I are told we must choose between a left or right," Reagan said, "but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right, There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream -- the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order -- or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism."

In 1977, Reagan outlined a plan for "The New Republican Party," stating, "The principles of conservatism are sound because they are based on what men and women have discovered through experience in not just one generation or a dozen, but in all the combined experience of mankind. When we conservatives say that we know something about political affairs, and what we know can be stated as principles, we are saying that the principles we hold dear are those that have been found, through experience, to be ultimately beneficial for individuals, for families, for communities and for nations -- found through the often bitter testing of pain, or sacrifice and sorrow."

He continued: "We, the members of the New Republican Party, believe that the preservation and enhancement of the values that strengthen and protect individual freedom, family life, communities and neighborhoods and the liberty of our beloved nation should be at the heart of any legislative or political program presented to the American people.

"Families must continue to be the foundation of our nation. Families -- not government programs -- are the best way to make sure our children are properly nurtured, our elderly are cared for, our cultural and spiritual heritages are perpetuated, our laws are observed and our values are preserved. ... We fear the government may be powerful enough to destroy our families; we know that it is not powerful enough to replace them.

"Extreme taxation, excessive controls, oppressive government competition with business ... frustrated minorities and forgotten Americans are not the products of free enterprise. They are the residue of centralized bureaucracy, of government by a self-anointed elite.

"Our party must be based on the kind of leadership that grows and takes its strength from the people. ... And our cause must be to rediscover, reassert and reapply America's spiritual heritage to our national affairs. Then with God's help we shall indeed be as a city upon a hill with the eyes of all people upon us."

In his 1981 inaugural address, President Reagan assured the nation: "The economic ills we suffer ... will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we, as Americans, have the capacity now, as we have had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom. In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."

Ronald Wilson Reagan appealed to the best in us.

His final words at the 1992 Republican convention reflect that appeal: "And whatever else history may say about me when I'm gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty's lamp guiding your steps and opportunity's arm steadying your way. My fondest hope for each one of you -- and especially for young people -- is that you will love your country, not for her power or wealth, but for her selflessness and her idealism. May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will make the world a little better for your having been here. May all of you as Americans never forget your heroic origins, never fail to seek divine guidance, and never lose your natural, God-given optimism. And finally, my fellow Americans, may every dawn be a great new beginning for America and every evening bring us closer to that shining city upon a hill."

On the other hand, Barack Hussein Obama appeals to the worst in his constituents -- their fears, doubts, dependence on the state, greed and envy, brokenness, pessimism and sense of helplessness. He has twisted JFK's inaugural appeal to read: "Ask what your country can do for you, not what you can do for your country."

Ronald Reagan provided a timeless template for the restoration of our nation's economic and moral prosperity, and a return to First Principles and the Rule of Law. Once again, it is time for action, time to choose.
24627  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Reagan's map for us on: February 04, 2010, 10:45:40 AM
The Reagan Model for Restoration
"No man can well doubt the propriety of placing a president of the United States under the most solemn obligations to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution." --Joseph Story

Commander and ChiefThis week, we observe the anniversary of Ronald Wilson Reagan's birthday -- Reagan Day as it is known around our office.

Ronald Reagan was, and remains, the North Star of the last great conservative revolution -- and the next -- if more Republicans will abide by their oaths to Support and Defend our Constitution and abide by their own political party platform.

At the most recent Republican National Committee confab, some members proposed a "Unity Principle for Support of Candidates" resolution, which identified 10 conservative principles, at least eight of which Republican candidates must support in order to receive RNC funding.

The measure failed, perhaps because more than a few of the current crop of politicos who call themselves "Republican" could not pass muster.

Subsequent to that failed motion, some Leftist intellectuals (an oxymoron, I know, but play along) opined that, based on Reagan's record, not even he would have passed the test.

Of course, as Leftists are prone to do, they are contorting the record so it will comport with their hypothesis, or as Reagan said famously, "The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so."

What is clear about the Reagan record is that he both campaigned and governed on our First Principles, Constitutional Rule of Law and the basic tenets of Essential Liberty.

Unfortunately, at no time did President Reagan have Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, much less a super majority. Because of this, his conservative credentials were sometimes undermined by the opposition. This is most notable in the House's failure to abide by negotiated government spending cuts to social programs commensurate with the tax cuts and increased defense spending that Reagan enacted.

Reagan resurrected supply-side economics -- the real-world-tested fiscal policy that reductions in tax rates and government spending will invigorate the private sector economy, elevate GDP, resulting, ironically, in additional tax revenues even at the lower rates of taxation. But the principle works best only if reduced tax rates are accompanied by comparable reductions in government spending.

Democrats refused to cut spending, all while belittling Reagan's efforts as "trickle-down economics."

However, supply-side economics is so powerful that even though Democrat-controlled House budgets led to record deficits, Reagan's economic policies resulted in the largest peacetime economic surge in American history. This, of course, is in stark contrast to the "trickle-up poverty" of the current administration's past, present and proposed "economic recovery" plans.

 
Click Here 

 Trickle Up Poverty sticker
Our high quality vinyl bumper sticker, sporting Obama's campaign logo, speaks for itself. Measures 3" x 9"
 

Typical of great statesmen, Ronald Reagan took no credit for our nation's economic recovery under his tenure. He was called "The Great Communicator" because of his ability to remind us of our nation's values, its character, its soul and its confidence, a far cry from the incessant apologizing and the political chicanery that characterize the Obama presidency.

"I wasn't a great communicator," President Reagan said in his farewell address, "but I communicated great things, and they didn't spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation -- from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries."

And what were those principles?

Back in 1964, shortly after Reagan parted ways with the Democrat Party ("I did not leave the Democrat Party. The Democrat Party left me."), he delivered a timeless challenge to conservatives entitled "A Time for Choosing": "You and I are told we must choose between a left or right," Reagan said, "but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right, There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream -- the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order -- or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism."

In 1977, Reagan outlined a plan for "The New Republican Party," stating, "The principles of conservatism are sound because they are based on what men and women have discovered through experience in not just one generation or a dozen, but in all the combined experience of mankind. When we conservatives say that we know something about political affairs, and what we know can be stated as principles, we are saying that the principles we hold dear are those that have been found, through experience, to be ultimately beneficial for individuals, for families, for communities and for nations -- found through the often bitter testing of pain, or sacrifice and sorrow."

He continued: "We, the members of the New Republican Party, believe that the preservation and enhancement of the values that strengthen and protect individual freedom, family life, communities and neighborhoods and the liberty of our beloved nation should be at the heart of any legislative or political program presented to the American people.

"Families must continue to be the foundation of our nation. Families -- not government programs -- are the best way to make sure our children are properly nurtured, our elderly are cared for, our cultural and spiritual heritages are perpetuated, our laws are observed and our values are preserved. ... We fear the government may be powerful enough to destroy our families; we know that it is not powerful enough to replace them.

"Extreme taxation, excessive controls, oppressive government competition with business ... frustrated minorities and forgotten Americans are not the products of free enterprise. They are the residue of centralized bureaucracy, of government by a self-anointed elite.

"Our party must be based on the kind of leadership that grows and takes its strength from the people. ... And our cause must be to rediscover, reassert and reapply America's spiritual heritage to our national affairs. Then with God's help we shall indeed be as a city upon a hill with the eyes of all people upon us."

In his 1981 inaugural address, President Reagan assured the nation: "The economic ills we suffer ... will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we, as Americans, have the capacity now, as we have had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom. In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."

Ronald Wilson Reagan appealed to the best in us.

His final words at the 1992 Republican convention reflect that appeal: "And whatever else history may say about me when I'm gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty's lamp guiding your steps and opportunity's arm steadying your way. My fondest hope for each one of you -- and especially for young people -- is that you will love your country, not for her power or wealth, but for her selflessness and her idealism. May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will make the world a little better for your having been here. May all of you as Americans never forget your heroic origins, never fail to seek divine guidance, and never lose your natural, God-given optimism. And finally, my fellow Americans, may every dawn be a great new beginning for America and every evening bring us closer to that shining city upon a hill."

On the other hand, Barack Hussein Obama appeals to the worst in his constituents -- their fears, doubts, dependence on the state, greed and envy, brokenness, pessimism and sense of helplessness. He has twisted JFK's inaugural appeal to read: "Ask what your country can do for you, not what you can do for your country."

Ronald Reagan provided a timeless template for the restoration of our nation's economic and moral prosperity, and a return to First Principles and the Rule of Law. Once again, it is time for action, time to choose.
24628  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: February 04, 2010, 10:42:08 AM
Summary
U.S. Marines, British troops and Afghanistan’s national army are making preparations for assaulting the town of Marjah in Helmand province. The town is a key Taliban stronghold and logistical hub; and because it lies at the center of a provincial breadbasket, it also is populated and surrounded by open terrain. Indeed, there is probably no better ground in Helmand on which to fight a defensive battle than the Marjah area.

The U.S. Marine-led effort in Afghanistan’s Helmand province is about to get more kinetic. Marines, along with British troops and units of the Afghan national army, are preparing to begin a major assault on the Taliban stronghold of Marjah, which is touted as the “last holdout” of the Mullah Omar-led Quetta Shura Council in the province and is known to be a major logistical hub that the Taliban have controlled for years.

With British, Canadian and Dutch forces seeing some of the toughest fighting in Afghanistan in Regional Command South, which encompasses the southwestern quadrant of the country, the United States began surging troops into the region in 2008 with the deployment of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. More Marines have poured in (the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force is now in place), and NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is now trying to hold key population centers in the Helmand River valley.

Most recently, U.S. Marines assaulted the town of Now Zad as part of Operation Cobra’s Anger, an ongoing attempt to disrupt Taliban logistics. Perhaps even more central to breaking the group’s hold on the province is Marjah, but the impending assault is no secret — and Taliban fighters have been preparing.

The town is at the center of a large irrigation project built by the United States in the 1950s, leaving large swaths of open terrain and clear fields of fire that assaulting elements will have to traverse. The irrigation canals also will be difficult to maneuver across and may channelize assaulting forces, though some breaching efforts can be expected. The town is at the center of a key breadbasket for the province, so the area is also populated, which could compound the challenges of the assault. In short, there is probably no better ground in Helmand on which to fight a defensive battle than the Marjah area.

And though the Taliban have begun to shy away from large, direct-fire engagements like the one against a small outpost in Wanat in Nuristan province in 2008, their use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) has increased dramatically in recent years; and there is little doubt that the approaches to the town and the town itself are laced with mines and IEDs. Resistance is expected to be considerably heavier than it was in Now Zad, but the forces the Taliban are dedicating to the town’s defense remain to be seen. Estimates have varied from 400 fighters to 1,000 or more — perhaps as much as two battalions.



The U.S. Marine Corps’ Assault Breacher VehicleWhile Marjah offers good defensive ground, the assault is likely to include cordoning off of the area, so many of the fighters dedicated to its defense will probably be forced to fight to the death or surrender. If they choose to stay and fight in numbers, the Taliban could try and exact a heavy cost on the assaulting force, but they likely would lose those fighters in the process. And lately, the Taliban have shown a proclivity for attacks that are low-risk and likely to preserve the forces committed.

The Marines already have brought in new, heavy Assault Breaching Vehicles for use in Now Zad, and they have no illusions about the Taliban’s heavy preparations in Marjah. With assaults on Fallujah and Ramadi in Iraq under their belts, the Marines are experienced with this sort of urban assault. The extent to which IEDs can be managed and the number of Taliban forces dedicated to the town’s defense will be pivotal to the battle’s outcome.
24629  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Prison iman smuggles boxcutters into prison on: February 04, 2010, 08:51:05 AM
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news...-1225826570886

Chaplain smuggled bo'x-cutter into jail'(sic)
A MUSLIM chaplain for the New York City Department of Correction (DOC) was arrested today for allegedly trying to smuggle three box-cutters into a lower Manhattan jail.
The imam, Imam Zul-Quarnain Shahid, has worked as a DOC jail chaplain for three years, according to department sources.
Several sources said Shahid was caught attempting to bring three box-cutters into the jail, known as the Tombs, during a visit there. It was not known why he was visiting the jail.
A DOC spokesman had no immediate comment.

and again at:
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/m...#ixzz0eVCefyjJ

Muslim chaplain 'smuggled' box cutters into jail

By REUVEN BLAU and DAN MANGAN
Last Updated: 4:09 PM, February 3, 2010
Posted: 2:11 PM, February 3, 2010
A Muslim chaplain for the city Department of Correction was arrested this morning for allegedly trying to smuggle in three box-cutter razor blades to a lower Manhattan jail, The Post has learned.
The chaplain, Zul-Qarnain Shahid, has worked as a DOC jail chaplain for the past three years, department sources said.
Several sources said Shahid was caught this morning attempting to bring the three blades into the jail known as the Tombs during a visit there. It was not known why the Muslim cleric, who has the title imam, was visiting the jail.
A DOC spokesman had no immediate comment.
According to New York State Corrections Department records, a now-58-year-old man with the same name as Shahid was sentenced to 15-years-to-life in prison for second-degree murder and first-degree robbery in 1979. That man was paroled in 1993 after serving nearly 14 years, and remained on parole until August 2001.
A DOC chaplain assigned to the Tombs – politically connected rabbi Leib Glanz – resigned last year after The Post exclusively revealed that he had organized a bar mitzvah party within the jail’s walls for the son of an inmate. The bar mitzvah featured catered food and a live band, as well as dozens of non-inmate guests.
A Department of Investigation probe into that incident has dragged on for months, with no official result.
24630  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: February 04, 2010, 08:43:39 AM
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100204/ap_on_he_me/us_health_care_government_role_1;_ylt=AmE.saQYdwidM0OYXkG9N9.yQLN_;_ylu=X3oDMTE2Z2Zxc242BHBvcwMxBHNlYwN5bi1yLWItbGVmdARzbGsDZXYtZ292J3R0b3Bh

We often see criticisms that Obamacare will mean the govt is taking over 16% of GDP.  Actually this is rather misleading-- even without BO Care, the govt will shortly be paying over 50% of health care-- and the Medicaid and Medicare disasters are still coming down the rails.  We are in denial.  We consume more than we produce.  Entitlements already in the pipeline are accelerating the speed and momentum of the impending disaster.  We are lemmings headed for a cliff.

Prepare to have your assumptions shattered.
24631  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Unsustainable Model on: February 03, 2010, 11:12:00 PM
China's Unsustainable Economic Model
CHINA RELEASED THE BREAKDOWN of its economic growth statistics on Tuesday. Bottom line: falling exports weighed heavily on growth and nearly canceled out the GDP gains of domestic consumption. Investment — mostly in infrastructure and public services — comprised over 90 percent of growth.

These results capture the essence of everything STRATFOR has said about the Chinese economy over the past year. Like many countries affected by the recent economic crisis, China resorted to government stimulus to make up for the sudden loss in private demand. But unlike other states that use such measures in emergencies, China’s growth has always been fueled by massive infusions of government funds and credit from a state-controlled banking system. The endless stream of loans nourishes the businesses that employ China’s enormous population. Exports play an important role because they bring in new money to be redistributed by the banks as directed by the government.

Of course, the redistribution process creates divisions between the haves and the have-nots, but such divisions can be elided when times are good. It is only when exports slump that it becomes evident that China’s consumers are too poor to buy all the goods the country produces, and the weight of maintaining growth falls squarely upon the financial system. This setup is particularly problematic because a centrally controlled financial system that endlessly transfers wealth from efficient internationally-linked sectors to inefficient state sectors will eventually collapse under the weight of bad loans.

“Chinese leaders rarely have the coincidence of political and economic momentum necessary to launch major reforms more than once.”
Chinese leaders are well aware that this economic model is unsustainable and have periodically pushed for major restructuring. The primary goal is to increase domestic consumption, shifting reliance off exports, and transitioning into a consumer-driven economic model that is more capable of steady and long-term growth, albeit at a slower pace. Prominent leaders are now calling for such reforms. Knowing that the stimulus cannot last forever, Beijing is attempting to find ways to slightly moderate lending, lower provincial growth targets and cool down the real estate sector while reinvesting government funds in rural areas to boost consumption.

The problem is that the first steps are exceedingly painful, because they involve weaning state businesses from their addiction to cheap credit. A period of slower growth is the price for reforming an economy, and slower growth is exponentially more troublesome in a country with China’s regional differences, wealth disparities and large population. Such reforms are also always obstructed by the inertia in the system then cut short before the finish, usually due to the onset of a new emergency. Chinese President Hu Jintao initiated restructuring reforms in the mid-2000s, but the financial crisis erupted in late 2008, forcing him back into the time-tried solution of credit expansion.

Chinese leaders rarely have the coincidence of political and economic momentum necessary to launch major reforms more than once. With the Communist Party preparing for a leadership transition in 2012, Hu does not have time for another major reform push. No leader in his final years in power wants to mar his legacy with dramatic changes that could destabilize the system.

Moreover, China’s primary export markets have not recovered to the point that China can securely phase out its stimulus programs. Exports only showed positive signs in December 2009, and it is not yet clear where they will go in the coming months. Demand in Europe remains weak due to its own economic woes. The United States is seeing economic life return, but a weak labor market has ensured that households continue to save rather than spend. The United States has also begun pressuring Beijing on a host of disagreements and is brandishing a big stick when it comes to trade protections. In other words, exports are Beijing’s only short-term hope, and they are highly uncertain.

All of this leaves China with little option but to continue using the financial tools it has for as long as they will work, and recentralizing power where necessary to prevent instability. This may mean a China that is more sensitive to perceived external threats, and more reactive politically. It may also mean that foreigners will start thinking twice before doing business in China.
24632  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran's web on: February 03, 2010, 02:50:14 PM
   
Iranian Proxies: An Intricate and Active Web
February 3, 2010




By Scott Stewart

For the past few years, STRATFOR has been carefully following the imbroglio over the Iranian nuclear weapons program and efforts by the United States and others to scuttle the program. This situation has led to threats by both sides, with the United States and Israel discussing plans to destroy Iranian weapons sites with airstrikes and the Iranians holding well-publicized missile launches and military exercises in the Persian Gulf.

Much attention has been paid to the Iranian deterrents to an attack on its nuclear program, such as the ballistic missile threat and the potential to block the Strait of Hormuz, but these are not the only deterrents Iran possesses. Indeed, over the past several years, Iran has consistently reminded the world about the network of proxy groups that the country can call upon to cause trouble for any country that would attack its nuclear weapons program.

Over the past several weeks, interesting new threads of information about Iranian proxies have come to light, and when the individual strands are tied together they make for a very interesting story.


Iran’s Proxies

From almost the very beginning of the Islamic republic, Iran’s clerical regime has sought to export its Islamic revolution to other parts of the Muslim world. This was done not only for ideological purposes — to continue the revolution — but also for practical reasons, as a way to combat regional adversaries by means of proxy warfare. Among the first groups targeted for this expansion were the Shiite populations in Iraq, the Persian Gulf and, of course, Lebanon. The withdrawal of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) from Lebanon in 1982 left behind a cadre of trained Shiite militants who were quickly recruited by agents of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). These early Lebanese recruits included hardened PLO fighters from the slums of South Beirut such as Imad Mughniyah. These fighters formed the backbone of Iran’s militant proxy force in Lebanon, Hezbollah, which, in the ensuing decades, would evolve from a shadowy terrorist group into a powerful political entity with a significant military capability.

One of the most impressive things about these early proxy efforts in Lebanon is that the IRGC and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security were both very young institutions at the time, and they were heavily pressured by the 1980 invasion of Iran by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which was backed by the Gulf states and the United States. The Iranians also had to compete with the Amal movement, which was backed by Libya and Syria and which dominated the Lebanese Shiite landscape at the time. Projecting power into Lebanon under such conditions was quite an amazing feat, one that many more mature intelligence organizations have not been able to match.

Though these institutions were young, the Iranians were not without experience in intelligence tradecraft. The years of operating against the Shah’s intelligence service, a brutal and efficient organization known as the SAVAK, taught the Iranian revolutionaries many hard-learned lessons about operational security and clandestine operations, and they incorporated many of these lessons into their handling of proxy operations. For example, it was very difficult for the U.S. government to prove that the Iranians, through their proxies, were behind the bombings of the U.S. Embassy (twice) and Marine barracks in Beirut or the kidnapping of Westerners in Lebanon. The use of different names in public statements such as the Islamic Jihad Organization, Revolutionary Justice Organization and the Organization of the Oppressed on Earth, when combined with very good Iranian operational security, served to further muddy the already murky waters of Lebanon’s militant landscape. Iran has also done a fairly good job at hiding its hand in places like Kuwait and Bahrain.

While Iran has invested a lot of effort to build up Shiite proxy groups such as Hezbollah and assorted other groups in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, the Iranians do not exclusively work with Shiite proxies. As we discussed last week, the Iranians also have a pragmatic streak and will work with Marxist groups like the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, Sunni groups like Hamas in Gaza and various militant groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan (they sought to undermine the Taliban while that group was in power in Afghanistan but are currently aiding some Taliban groups in an effort to thwart the U.S. effort there). In an extremely complex game, the Iranians are also working with various Sunni and Kurdish groups in Iraq, in addition to their Shiite proxies, as they seek to shape their once-feared neighbor into something they can more-easily influence and control.


More than Foot Stomping

For several years now, every time there is talk of a possible attack on Iran there is a corresponding threat by Iran to use its proxy groups in response to such an attack. Iran has also been busy pushing intelligence reports to anybody who will listen (including STRATFOR) that it will activate its militant proxy groups if attacked and, to back that up, will periodically send operatives or proxies out to conduct not-so-subtle surveillance of potential targets. Hezbollah and Hamas have both stated publicly that they will attack Israel if Israel launches an attack against Iran’s nuclear program, and such threats are far more than mere rhetorical devices. Iran has taken many concrete steps to prepare and arm its various proxy groups:

On Dec. 11, 2009, authorities seized an Ilyushin-76 cargo plane in Bangkok that contained 35 tons of North Korean-produced military weapons that were destined for Iran (though Iran, naturally, denies the report). The weapons, which included man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), were either equivalent to, or less advanced than, weapons Iran produces on its own. This fact raised the real possibility that the Iranians had purchased the North Korean weapons in order to distribute them to proxies and hide Iran’s hand if those arms were recovered after an attack.
In November 2009, Israeli naval commandos seized a ship off the coast of Cyprus that was loaded with hundreds of tons of weapons that were apparently being sent from Iran to Hezbollah. The seizure, which was the largest in Israel’s history, included artillery shells, rockets, grenades and small-arms ammunition.
In August 2009, authorities in the United Arab Emirates seized a ship carrying 10 containers of North Korean weapons disguised as oil equipment. The seized cache included weapons that Iran produces itself, like rockets and rocket-propelled grenade rounds, again raising the probability that the arms were intended for Iran’s militant proxies.
In April 2009, Egyptian authorities announced that they had arrested a large network of Hezbollah operatives who were planning attacks against Israeli targets inside Egypt. It is likely, however, that the network was involved in arms smuggling and the charges of planning attacks may have been leveled against the smugglers to up the ante and provide a warning message to anyone considering smuggling in the future.
In January 2009, a convoy of suspected arms smugglers in northern Sudan near the Egyptian border was attacked by an apparent Israeli air strike. The arms were reportedly destined for Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and were tied to an Iranian network that, according to STRATFOR sources in the region, had been purchasing arms in Sudan and shipping them across the Sinai to Gaza.
As illustrated by most of the above incidents (and several others we did not include for the sake of brevity), Israeli intelligence has been actively attempting to interdict the flow of weapons to Iran and Iranian proxy groups. Such Israeli efforts may explain the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, whose body was discovered Jan. 20 in his room at a five-star hotel in Dubai. Al-Mabhouh, a senior commander of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, lived in exile in Damascus and was reportedly the Hamas official responsible for coordinating the transfer of weapons from Iran to Hamas forces in Gaza. A STRATFOR source advised us that, at the time of his death, al-Mabhouh was on his way to Tehran to meet with his IRGC handlers. The operation to kill al-Mabhouh also bears many similarities to past Israeli assassination operations. His status as an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades commander involved in many past attacks against Israel would certainly make him an attractive target for the Israelis.

Of course, like anything involving the Iranians, there remains quite a bit of murkiness involving the totality of their meddling in the region. Hezbollah sources have told STRATFOR that they have troops actively engaged in combat in Yemen, with the al-Houthi rebels in the northern province of Saada along the Saudi border, and have lost several fighters there. Hezbollah also has claimed that its personnel have shot down several Yemeni aircraft using Iranian-manufactured Misagh-1 MANPADS.

The governments of Yemen and Saudi Arabia have very good reason to fear Iran’s plans to expand its influence in the Gulf region, and the Yemenis in particular have been very vocal about blaming Iran for stirring up the al-Houthi rebels. Because of this, if there truly were Hezbollah fighters being killed in Saada and signs of Iranian ordnance (like MANPADS) being used by Hezbollah fighters or al-Houthi rebels, we believe the government of Yemen would have been documenting the evidence and providing the documentation to the world (especially in light of Yemen’s long and unsuccessful attempt to gain U.S. assistance for its struggle against the al-Houthi insurgency). That said, while Hezbollah MANPADS teams are not likely to be running around Saada, there is evidence that the Iranians have been involved in smuggling weapons to the al-Houthi via Yemen’s rugged Red Sea coast. Indeed, such arms smuggling has resulted in a Saudi naval blockade of the Yemeni coast. Reports of al-Houthi militants being trained by the IRGC in Lebanon and Iran are also plausible.

Iran has long flirted with jihadist groups. This support has sporadically stretched from the early days of al Qaeda’s stay in Sudan, where Hezbollah bomb makers instructed al Qaeda militants in how to make large vehicle bombs, to more recent times, when the IRGC has provided arms to Iraqi Sunni militants and Taliban factions in Afghanistan. Iran has also provided weapons to the now-defunct Supreme Islamic Courts Council in Somalia and one of its offshoots, al Shabaab.

Over the past several months we have also heard from a variety of sources in different parts of the Middle East that the Iranians are assisting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Some reports indicate that a jihadist training camp that had previously been operating in Syria to train and send international fighters to Iraq had been relocated to Iran, and that with Iranian assistance, the jihadists were funneling international militants from Iran to Yemen to fight with AQAP. Other reports say the Iranians are providing arms to the group. While some analysts downplay such reports, the fact that we have received similar information from a wide variety of sources in different countries and with varying ideological backgrounds suggests there is indeed something to these reports.

One last thing to consider while pondering Iran’s militant proxies is that, while Iranian missiles will be launched (and mines laid) only in the case of open hostilities, Iranian militant proxies have been busily at work across the region for many years now. With a web of connections that reaches all the way from Lebanon to Somalia to Afghanistan, Iran can cast a wide net over the Middle East. If the United States has truly begun to assume a defensive posture in the Gulf, it will have to guard not only against Iranian missile strikes but also against Iran’s sophisticated use of proxy militant groups.

 
24633  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 03, 2010, 11:38:32 AM
Newt Gingrich.

24634  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: February 03, 2010, 11:36:45 AM
Any concerns over the creation of a new "protected class"?  IMHO the history of PC (see e.g. the Fort Hood affair where tons of people knew the jihadi killer was exactly that yet said nothing) gives me concerns.

Separate question:  How would you feel to share a foxhole with someone who got a woodie for you or was flashing a soaped up butt at you in the showers?

Separate question:  What if there are a coupled pair of gay soldiers in the same unit?  Do "coupled gays" get housing for married couples?

Separate question:  What happens if a unit becomes a predominantly gay unit?  What happens to military discipline if the barracks become a SF bath house or a branch of the YMCA?  How does the straight soldier handle that?
24635  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Just walk away on: February 03, 2010, 11:20:19 AM
By DAVID STREITFELD
Published: February 2, 2010
In 2006, Benjamin Koellmann bought a condominium in Miami Beach. By his
calculation, it will be about the year 2025 before he can sell his modest
home for what he paid. Or maybe 2040.


Benjamin Koellmann paid $215,000 for his apartment in Miami Beach in 2006,
but now units are selling in foreclosure for $90,000. “There is no financial
sense in staying,” he said.

New research suggests that when a home’s value falls below 75 percent of the
amount owed on the mortgage, the owner starts to think hard about reneging
on a home loan.

“People like me are beginning to feel like suckers,” Mr. Koellmann said.
“Why not let it go in default and rent a better place for less?”

After three years of plunging real estate values, after the bailouts of the
bankers and the revival of their million-dollar bonuses, after the Obama
administration’s loan modification plan raised the expectations of many but
satisfied only a few, a large group of distressed homeowners is wondering
the same thing.   New research suggests that when a home’s value falls below
75 percent of the amount owed on the mortgage, the owner starts to think
hard about walking away, even if he or she has the money to keep paying.  In
a situation without precedent in the modern era, millions of Americans are
in this bleak position. Whether, or how, to help them is one of the biggest
questions the Obama administration confronts as it seeks a housing policy
that would contribute to the economic recovery.

“We haven’t yet found a way of dealing with this that would, we think, be
practical on a large scale,” the assistant Treasury secretary for financial
stability, Herbert M. Allison Jr., said in a recent briefing.

The number of Americans who owed more than their homes were worth was
virtually nil when the real estate collapse began in mid-2006, but by the
third quarter of 2009, an estimated 4.5 million homeowners had reached the
critical threshold, with their home’s value dropping below 75 percent of the
mortgage balance.  They are stretched, aggrieved and restless. With figures
released last week showing that the real estate market was stalling again,
their numbers are now projected to climb to a peak of 5.1 million by June —
about 10 percent of all Americans with mortgages.

“We’re now at the point of maximum vulnerability,” said Sam Khater, a senior
economist with First American CoreLogic, the firm that conducted the recent
research. “People’s emotional attachment to their property is melting into
the air.”

Suggestions that people would be wise to renege on their home loans are at
least a couple of years old, but they are turning into a full-throated
barrage. Bloggers were quick to note recently that landlords of an
11,000-unit residential complex in Manhattan showed no hesitation, or shame,
in walking away from their deeply underwater investment.

“Since the beginning of December, I’ve advised 60 people to walk away,” said
Steve Walsh, a mortgage broker in Scottsdale, Ariz. “Everyone has lost hope.
They don’t qualify for modifications, and being on the hamster wheel of
paying for a property that is not worth it gets so old.”

Mr. Walsh is taking his own advice, recently defaulting on a rental property
he owns. “The sun will come up tomorrow,” he said.

The difference between letting your house go to foreclosure because you are
out of money and purposefully defaulting on a mortgage to save money can be
murky. But a growing body of research indicates that significant numbers of
borrowers are declining to live under what some waggishly call “house
arrest.”  Using credit bureau data, consultants at Oliver Wyman calculated
how many borrowers went straight from being current on their mortgage to
default, rather than making spotty payments. They also weeded out owners
having trouble paying other bills. Their estimate was that about 17 percent
of owners defaulting in 2008, or 588,000 people, chose that option as a
strategic calculation.  Some experts argue that walking away from mortgages
is more discussed than done. People hate moving; their children attend the
neighborhood school; they do not want to think of themselves as skipping out
on a debt. Doubters cite a Federal Reserve study using historical data from
Massachusetts that concludes there were relatively few walk-aways during the
1991 bust.

The United States Treasury falls into the skeptical camp.

“The overwhelming bulk of people who have negative equity stay in their
homes and keep paying,” said Michael S. Barr, assistant Treasury secretary
for financial institutions.

It would cost about $745 billion, slightly more than the size of the
original 2008 bank bailout, to restore all underwater borrowers to the point
where they were breaking even, according to First American.   Using
government money to do that would be seen as unfair by many taxpayers, Mr.
Barr said. On the other hand, doing nothing about underwater mortgages could
encourage more walk-aways, dealing another blow to a fragile economy.

“It’s not an easy area,” he said.

Walking away — also called “jingle mail,” because of the notion that
homeowners just mail their keys to the bank, setting off foreclosure
proceedings — began in the Southwest during the 1980s oil collapse, though
it has never been clear how widespread it was.

In the current bust, lenders first noticed something strange after real
estate prices had fallen about 10 percent.

An executive with Wachovia, one of the country’s biggest and most aggressive
lenders, said during a conference call in January 2008 that the bank was
bewildered by customers who had “the capacity to pay, but have basically
just decided not to.” (Wachovia failed nine months later and was bought by
Wells Fargo. )

=========

(Page 2 of 2)



With prices now down by about 30 percent, underwater borrowers fall into two
groups. Some have owned their homes for many years and got in trouble
because they used the house as a cash machine. Others, like Mr. Koellmann in
Miami Beach, made only one mistake: they bought as the boom was cresting.

It was April 2006, a moment when the perpetual rise of real estate was
considered practically a law of physics. Mr. Koellmann was 23, a management
consultant new to Miami.
Financially cautious by nature, he bought a small, plain one-bedroom
apartment for $215,000, much less than his agent told him he could afford.
He put down 20 percent and received a fixed-rate loan from Countrywide
Financial.

Not quite four years later, apartments in the building are selling in
foreclosure for $90,000.

“There is no financial sense in staying,” Mr. Koellmann said. With the
$1,500 he is paying each month for his mortgage, taxes and insurance, he
could rent a nicer place on the beach, one with a gym, security and valet
parking.

Walking away, he knows, is not without peril. At minimum, it would ruin his
credit score. Mr. Koellmann would like to attend graduate school. If an
admission dean sees a dismal credit record, would that count against him?
How about a new employer?

Most of all, though, he struggles with the ethical question.

“I took a loan on an asset that I didn’t see was overvalued,” he said. “As
much as I would like my bank to pay for that mistake, why should it?”

That is an attitude Wall Street would like to encourage. David Rosenberg,
the chief economist of the investment firm Gluskin Sheff, wrote recently
that borrowers were not victims. They “signed contracts, and as adults
should also be held accountable,” he wrote.

Of course, this is not necessarily how Wall Street itself behaves, as
demonstrated by the case of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. An
investment group led by the real estate giant Tishman Speyer recently
defaulted on $4.4 billion in debt that it had used to buy the two apartment
developments in Manhattan, handing the properties back to the lenders.

Moreover, during the boom, it was the banks that helped drive prices to
unrealistic levels by lowering credit standards and unleashing a wave of
speculative housing demand.

Mr. Koellmann applied last fall to Bank of America for a modification,
noting that his income had slipped. But the lender came back a few weeks ago
with a plan that added more restrictive terms while keeping the payments
about the same.

“That may have been the last straw,” Mr. Koellmann said.

Guy D. Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance magazine, says he does
not hear much sympathy from lenders for their underwater customers.

“The banks tell me that a lot of people who are complaining were the ones
who refinanced and took all the equity out any time there was any
appreciation,” he said. “The banks are damned if they will help.”

Joe Figliola has heard that message. He bought his house in Elgin, Ill., in
2004, then refinanced twice to get better terms. He pulled out a little
money both times to cover the closing costs and other expenses. Now his
place is underwater while his salary as circulation manager for the local
newspaper has been cut.

“It doesn’t seem right that I can rent a place somewhere for half of what I’m
paying,” he said. “I told my bank, ‘Just take a little bite out of what I
owe. That would ease me up. Isn’t that why the president gave you all this
money?’ ”

Bank of America did not agree, so Mr. Figliola, who is 48, sees no recourse
other than walking away. “I don’t believe this is the right thing to do,” he
said, “but I’ve got to survive.”
24636  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH With Raw Recruits, ANP build up falters on: February 03, 2010, 09:08:58 AM
Restating matters:  The President says that our war with man-made disasters in Afg is a vital and necessary war of self-defense which we must win.  Therefore we will leave it up to the Afghan Army and the Afghan Police in 16 months.

This just in from the NY branch of Pravda.

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

With Raw Recruits, Afghan Police Buildup Falters
By ROD NORDLAND
Published: February 2, 2010
NYT
KABUL, Afghanistan — The NATO general in charge of training the Afghan police has some tongue-in-cheek career advice for the country’s recruits.

Italian paramilitary Carabinieri officers train Afghan police recruits. On average, 5 percent of recruits cannot pass firearms tests.

“It’s better to join the Taliban; they pay more money,” said Brig. Gen. Carmelo Burgio, from Italy’s paramilitary Carabinieri force.

That sardonic view reflects a sobering reality. The attempts to build a credible Afghan police force are faltering badly even as officials acknowledge that the force will be a crucial piece of the effort to have Afghans manage their own security so American forces can begin leaving next year.

Though they have revamped the program recently and put it under new leadership, Afghan, NATO and American officials involved in the training effort list a daunting array of challenges, as familiar as they are intractable.

One in five recruits tests positive for drugs, while fewer than one in 10 can read and write — a rate even lower than the Afghan norm of 15 percent literacy. Many cannot even read a license plate number. Taliban infiltration is a constant worry; incompetence an even bigger one.

After eight weeks of training, an average of 5 percent of recruits cannot pass firearms tests — but are given a gun and sent out to duty. Unsurprisingly, the Afghan National Police have the highest casualty rates of all the security forces fighting the Taliban; 646 died last year, compared with 282 Afghan Army soldiers and 388 NATO troops, according to NATO figures.

The death rate, poor pay and lack of equipment are among the reasons that a fourth of the officers quit every year, making the Afghan government’s lofty goals of substantially building up the police force even harder to achieve.

“They say the numbers prove ‘the Afghan National Police are in the fight,’ ” said General Burgio, quoting a frequently heard mantra from NATO officials. “This is not true. Usually the police are killed in ambushes, not because they were sent out to fight, but because they have no armored vehicles, for instance.”

The list of reasons for the failures is almost as lengthy as the list of problems officials cite with the police force.

General Burgio said the countries that were supposed to be building up Afghanistan’s security had not followed through on their promises to send enough qualified instructors. But even when the instructors arrive, he said, the countries involved seem unable to agree on a uniform training protocol.

The United States has recognized the problems and has begun making significant changes.

Under orders from the American military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, control of police training is being shifted from the State Department to the military.

DynCorp, the American company that provided retired police officers to do much of the training, has been told its contract will not be renewed. But it has appealed that decision, holding up the changeover until the appeal is decided, by March 24.

That has left NATO struggling to augment the police trainers with active-duty police officers from European countries.

“As of Jan. 12, we require 4,245 trainers to meet our goal of training 134,000 police by 2011,” said Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Armed Services Committee, during a visit here on Jan. 13. “I think it’s inexcusable.”

General Burgio declined to say which countries had yet to contribute. He contended that one of the biggest failings of the training program was the State Department’s overreliance on private contractors, whom he described as often over age and undermotivated, and expensive.

“For the cost of 10 DynCorp, I can put 30 Carabinieri trainers in and save money,” he said. He warned that if DynCorp won its challenge, it would “set us back six to nine months.

A spokesman for DynCorp, Douglas Ebner, said, “DynCorp is proud of its work in Afghanistan training and mentoring the Afghan National Police.”

The international nature of the NATO-led training program has resulted in a welter of 20 different programs run by half a dozen countries and agencies with widely varying methodologies and standards. Officials are now trying to write a nationwide instruction program that will be more standardized.

“We’ve lost so much time,” General Burgio said.

There have been some positive changes recently. Police pay is increasing to $165 a month, and police officers assigned to hostile areas can make as much as $240 a month, according to Brig. Gen. Anne F. Macdonald, the American in charge of police training and program development at the ministerial level.

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

Page 2 of 2)



That is better than the pay for Taliban insurgents, who typically make $200 a month. But even the new pay is lower than the cost of living for a typical Afghan family, encouraging corruption among many officers, NATO officials say.

In the new program of mandatory drug screening, General Macdonald said, 15 percent of police recruits test positive — a figure that may be low because recruits know in advance about the testing.
Divided loyalties are another problem. Most of the recruits are first hired locally, and then sent to regional or national training centers for their eight-week course.

“I don’t agree with the word ‘national’ in Afghan National Police,” the head of the Central Training Center, Brig. Gen. Khudadad Agah, said. “They’re all local police, and the problem with that is, one has a brother who is with the Taliban, another has an uncle. We go on an operation and one brother calls another and they know we’re coming.”

By comparison, army troops are recruited nationally. Their units are mixed ethnically and geographically so soldiers are not posted in their own communities.

Taliban infiltration of the Afghan National Police has had tragic consequences even for NATO soldiers: five British soldiers who were training a police unit in Helmand Province were killed by one of their trainees last November. The Taliban claimed credit for the attack. It was one of at least two instances in which police officers or recruits turned on their trainers or other NATO soldiers.

That explains why when recruits from the last class of 560 at the Central Training Center go to the firing range, as they did last month, they are allowed to put only 10 rounds at a time in the magazines of their automatic rifles, Hungarian-made variants of the AK-47. A team of Gurkha private security guards are on duty, too, watching the recruits carefully, as well as their own backs.

The recruits’ visit to the range comes during the seventh week of their eight-week course, and they have three days to qualify by managing to hit a man-size target 42 times out of 60 shots, a bit more than two-thirds of the time. If they cannot, they still graduate — with a certificate that says they are not competent to shoot — but are issued a weapon anyway.

“They’ll be out there on a checkpoint with an automatic weapon in a couple weeks,” said one of the trainers, who did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the press. “I wouldn’t want to be an innocent civilian downrange of them.”

A few of the recruits were crack shots, hitting their targets 60 times out of 60. One scored 62 out of 60, apparently thanks to a neighbor’s errant fire. Because so few of the recruits can read, the target numbers are written on their hands by the instructors, so the recruits can compare them and figure out which targets to shoot at.

Their Afghan firearms instructor, Lt. Ahmed Zay Mirweis, was contemptuous. “These guys wear the uniform of a policeman,” he said, “but that is all that is police about them.”

Saudi Terms for Role in Talks

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabian officials said Tuesday during a visit by President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan that they would not get involved in peacemaking in his country unless the Taliban severed all ties with Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

Mr. Karzai is hoping that the Saudis will agree to play an active role in his plan to persuade Taliban militants to switch sides. He is to meet with Saudi officials on Wednesday after performing the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.

The Saudi conditions for participating in talks with the Taliban are not new, but Saudi leaders are making them clear amid a new international push to work with the Afghan militants.
24637  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nuclear Power on: February 03, 2010, 09:02:36 AM
I was shocked to see BO in his SOTU speech call for nuclear power.  IIRC the Yucca Mountain option for waste is dead.  What is the current Sit Rep on waste disposal?
24638  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WTF: Woman deported by fake Marshal on: February 03, 2010, 08:59:56 AM
Police: Woman deported by fake marshal


03:13 PM PST on Tuesday, February 2, 2010

By JOHN ASBURY
The Press-Enterprise

Authorities are investigating a Hemet man suspected of posing as a United States marshal to kidnap a woman and falsely deport her to the Philippines, according to a Hemet police report. Hemet police arrested Greg Raymond Denny Jr., 37, last month on suspicion of kidnapping and impersonating an officer. Federal authorities also are investigating claims that he used a fake badge to bypass San Diego airport security and put the woman on a plane to her home country, where she remains. Her U.S. immigration status is unclear, even to her.

"The Transportation Security Administration is aware of and reviewing an incident where an individual allegedly presented falsified law enforcement credentials at San Diego's Lindbergh Field," according to a statement from the TSA.

Denny, who is a distant cousin of the woman's husband, Craig Hibbard, is now free on $50,000 bond. Police arrested him three days after the incident when he came in for questioning at the police station, wearing a fake marshal's badge and a replica of a pistol on his hip. Authorities said they aren't sure what the motive was. But Denny told police that Craig Hibbard's father called him to report that the woman was in the country illegally and having problems at their home, said Hemet police Lt. Duane Wisehart. Denny said Monday by phone that the kidnapping claims were false, but did not elaborate.


"I do think the story is true and just took a while for the family to let it sink in and realize something wasn't right," Wisehart said. "I think this guy thought he was doing a favor because they wanted her deported and he went about it the wrong way."

No other arrests have been made or are expected soon, Wisehart said. According to police, Denny entered the woman's home Jan. 15. Wearing a shirt that said "U.S. Marshal," Denny flashed a circled-star badge quickly and declared he was there to deport her, said Hemet police Lt. Mark Richards. Police said Denny handcuffed Cherriebelle Hibbard at gunpoint and took her from the home on Stepstone Court. At the time, Hibbard's family believed Denny was a marshal, even though he refused to show them the immigration paperwork.

Federal marshals are presidentially appointed, and the agency employs about 3,340 deputies and investigators nationwide. Marshals usually are tasked with finding federal fugitives, guarding federal judges and transporting federal prisoners.

Craig Hibbard said in a telephone interview that he agreed to cooperate after Denny threatened to put his wife in jail. Hibbard said he had only met his cousin twice. Three days after his wife, who is a citizen of the Philippines, was put on the plane, he called the U.S. Marshal's Service, and officials told him Denny was not an agent, Craig Hibbard said. After that, he called Hemet police.

"I didn't question it," Craig Hibbard said. "He had the shirt on and a badge and everything. He looked real and had an ID that said, 'U.S. Marshal.' "


The U.S. Marshal's Service is investigating, said spokesman Brian Valladarez. The case is also under review by the Riverside County district attorney's office, which could file charges or refer the case to the U.S. Attorney's office. Hemet police said they have forwarded the case to the San Diego FBI. Special Agent Darrell Foxworth said the FBI could not confirm or deny whether an investigation is under way.

Stuck in Manila
Reached by phone Monday in Manila, Cherriebelle Hibbard, said she doesn't know whether she is allowed to come back to the United States.
Her husband said she is five months pregnant and that they have been married for three years. He said that she canceled her green card last year in a dispute with him, saying she wanted to go home to the Philippines. The couple later reconciled, and she tried to renew her immigration documents prior to the confrontation with Denny, he said. Craig Hibbard said they were told by immigration officials in San Bernardino at the time that the green card was being processed and she was allowed to stay in the United States. Cherriebelle Hibbard said she had never met Denny and didn't realize he was her husband's cousin until after she was deported. She said she had no prior knowledge about the plot to deport her.

"Honestly no. I had no idea. ... He just only knock on door so hard and when he get inside the house, he say, 'Where is she, where is she?' I know I'm the one he's been looking for," Cherriebelle Hibbard said. "I can't do anything about it. I'm pregnant and don't want to take the kids away from my husband."

Denny left with Cherriebelle Hibbard, saying he was going to take the woman to the U.S. Border Patrol station in Murrieta in Southwest Riverside County. He returned with her an hour later, saying border agents wouldn't take his prisoner, according to the police report. He then said he was going to take her to the San Diego airport. Police said Denny forced Craig Hibbard to buy his wife a plane ticket and have his mother drive Denny and Cherriebelle to the airport. Hibbard's mother told police that Denny was wearing his holstered weapon and showed his badge to three airport security officers. He was cleared to proceed through security and put Cherriebelle Hibbard on a plane to San Francisco en route to Manila, according to the police report. Denny told police he walked the woman to the gate, took off the handcuffs and watched her board the plane. At the airport in San Francisco, Cherriebelle Hibbard said she was told by Customs agents that there was no deportation record on file. She said she told them that she had to go to the Philippines because she gave Denny her U.S. entry visa form and she feared going to prison if she didn't comply. Police said Denny returned from the airport to Hemet and left the Hibbard home.

Blown cover
Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Lori Haley said she was unfamiliar with the case Monday. Haley said federal marshals do not carry out deportation orders. When an immigration hold is found, only ICE Agents or FBI agents carry out an arrest. The defendant is then permitted to a due process hearing before an immigration issues a deportation order.

Denny was called by Hemet police for questioning Jan. 18. He entered the Hemet police station wearing a fake gun in his holster, with a T-shirt that read "Federal Agent" and the fake marshal's badge around his neck, Lt. Richards said. Denny identified himself as a marshal and offered knowledge related to the agency's leadership organization and his training, Richards said. Police checked Denny's records and found he was never employed by the Marshal's Service or any law enforcement agency. He listed his profession with police as working in fugitive apprehension for Absolute Bail Bonds. Denny admitted to impersonating a marshal and verified the family's account, Richards said. Deputy U.S. Marshal Omar Castillo said impersonating a federal agent usually carries federal felony charges. Though cases of impersonating agents are rare, Castillo said it does occur occasionally.

"It depends on the circumstances surrounding it," Castillo said. "If he's wearing a weapon or a handgun, then he's likely facing serious charges. And if he deported someone, that's basically kidnapping."

http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/s...3.2abde9d.html
24639  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / "Who is that knocking at my door?" on: February 03, 2010, 08:39:33 AM
When I was about 10 years old at summer camp in Maine, we were entranced by a very long and by the standards of the time very vulgar song about "Barnacle Bill the Sailor".

It began something like this:

""Who is that knocking at my door? (sung 3x)" cried the young fair maiden.
"Open the door and lay on the floor!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor."

The following article reminded me of that song's opening line.
=============================================

Ex-convicts in District flock to apply for census jobs

By Carol Morello
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 29, 2010; B01

The word had spread, in churches and parole offices and halfway houses. The federal government is hiring for the 2010 Census, and tests for applicants were being given in a District neighborhood where unemployment is rampant.

Hundreds of men and women began lining up on the sidewalks outside Allen Chapel AME Church in Southeast Washington two hours before the doors opened one day last week. Most have criminal records involving drugs, stolen cars, burglary and the like. But they'd been told that the census would consider hiring them anyway, if not as census takers then as clerks.

Most of those bundled against the chill of a January morning were in their 40s and 50s. They said they just want to find work and get on with their lives. Some have been out of prison and job-hunting for years, some for months. All are familiar with the change in an interviewer's eyes when they acknowledge that they have a record, and they leave knowing a follow-up call will never come.

"Imagine being 51 years old, with no marketable skills, an ex-felon and you're black, and trying to get a job," John Murphy said as he waited to take a census test. A barber before his 1999 burglary conviction, Murphy has secured only menial jobs since getting out of prison in 2006.

"I want to work," he said. "I don't want to commit any more crimes."

Job fairs to find census workers have attracted hundreds of ex-convicts in recent weeks, so many that the organizer wants to find a bigger site, such as the D.C. Armory.

Few with felony convictions are likely to get hired for the temporary jobs, which pay $20 an hour in the District. The Census Bureau has a list of crimes that would automatically disqualify a candidate. Job candidates convicted of less-severe transgressions, mostly misdemeanors, might get a second look from the bureau. Fernando Armstrong, director of the regional census office that includes the District and Maryland, said the agency might not be hiring by the time background checks on applicants with criminal histories are completed.

'I go in with hope'

Despite daunting odds, the applicants grasp at any straw of hope. The jobless rate in the District is at a high of 12 percent, according to numbers released last week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among the city's 16,000 ex-offenders being supervised by the courts, 50 percent cannot find work.

"I fill out a lot of applications," said Herbert Wood, 41, who spent eight years behind bars for running a chop shop. "I go to all the job sites. When I tell them I've got a record, I can see the change in their facial expressions. I go in with hope, and I lose it."

The job fairs are being organized by two people with records. Roach Brown, a laid-off film producer, was sentenced to life for murder, but his sentence was commuted by President Gerald R. Ford. The Rev. Yvonne Cooper is a former administrative law judge who was convicted of seven counts of taking bribes in 1995. Both have been active in helping former offenders reintegrate into society.

Brown said the 730 people who have taken the census test could be particularly effective working in hard-to-count neighborhoods where residents tend to be poor, minorities or immigrants. The Census Bureau tries to hire census takers in neighborhoods where they live, thinking people will be more likely to talk to someone they know.

"We have the opportunity to count thousands of people who have never been counted before," he said. Pointing to the milling applicants with a sweep of his hand, Brown added: "These people don't want to go back to jail. They don't want to hurt nobody. They want to take care of their families."

Although the Census Bureau has in the past hired people with criminal histories, critics say that could jeopardize the accuracy of the census. People who didn't mail in their forms might refuse to invite census takers into their homes and answer their questions. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has introduced a bill that would ban felons from being census takers.
"I don't want a convicted felon going to knock on Grandma's door," Chaffetz said. "With unemployment as high as it is, there are plenty of people who don't have criminal backgrounds who we can better trust to gather this personal, sensitive information."

This year, for the first time, the census will run FBI fingerprint checks on all temporary hires. In October, the Government Accountability Office reported that as many as 200 convicted criminals might have inadvertently been hired because their fingerprints could not be read. The Census Bureau has stepped up its training of employees who gather fingerprints and said it does not expect another lapse.

Robert M. Groves, director of the Census Bureau, said people with felony convictions for serious crimes -- murder, sex offenses, grand theft and child molestation -- are automatically ineligible to work for the census.
People convicted of less-heinous crimes, mostly misdemeanors, could be hired if they can demonstrate that they don't pose a risk to the public, he said. Any conviction within the past 10 or 15 years would necessitate a special review.

"There is a large set of minor crimes that, if they occurred earlier in your life, would keep you still in contention," Groves said.

'A fresh start'

Those who work with paroled criminals say that fingerprinting and background checks are sufficient to screen out dangerous criminals and that such jobs as the census ones are crucial in helping ex-offenders lead productive lives.

"All the research shows jobs equals a lack of recidivism," said Leonard Sipes, a spokesman for the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, whose parole officers have been told to suggest census jobs to parolees who might be eligible.

"Encountering them as census takers is part of day-to-day living," he said. "We interact with former offenders every day of our lives. We simply don't know it. If you go to the ballpark and talk to ticket takers, get your clothes dry-cleaned or eat a meal out, you're encountering them. I know former offenders who are now accountants and insurance salesmen."
Several of the census applicants spoke of how hard it is to get a new start, of being determined to stay away from criminal activity, the frustration created after dozens of unsuccessful job interviews and the humiliation of accepting help from relatives and girlfriends. And how a census job could be a steppingstone back into the mainstream.

"I need to find a job anyway I can," said Marlon Bassil, 33, who was released in November after serving four years for cocaine possession and lives in a halfway house. "I want this job so I can get a fresh start and start building references. I don't have any because I just got out."
__________________


It could be worse-- they could be from ACORN.
24640  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: February 03, 2010, 07:56:11 AM
Ah, now I get it, fragging.

So if I understand correctly (and given our conversation on this point that may well be a first  cheesy ) you argument is that not to worry about the issue because those endangered by rejected advances can always frag?!?
24641  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm) Training Camp Feb 6-7 on: February 03, 2010, 07:49:25 AM
Fencing mask and rattan sticks not necessary; padded sticks optional.  Mouth piece, not absolutely necessary but probably a good idea.  Shin guards not necessary, but if you have them you may as well bring them.
24642  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / AoC part 2 on: February 03, 2010, 07:43:56 AM
The United States in Congress assembled shall also have the sole and exclusive right and power of regulating the alloy and value of coin struck by their own authority, or by that of the respective States — fixing the standards of weights and measures throughout the United States — regulating the trade and managing all affairs with the Indians, not members of any of the States, provided that the legislative right of any State within its own limits be not infringed or violated — establishing or regulating post offices from one State to another, throughout all the United States, and exacting such postage on the papers passing through the same as may be requisite to defray the expenses of the said office — appointing all officers of the land forces, in the service of the United States, excepting regimental officers — appointing all the officers of the naval forces, and commissioning all officers whatever in the service of the United States — making rules for the government and regulation of the said land and naval forces, and directing their operations.

The United States in Congress assembled shall have authority to appoint a committee, to sit in the recess of Congress, to be denominated 'A Committee of the States', and to consist of one delegate from each State; and to appoint such other committees and civil officers as may be necessary for managing the general affairs of the United States under their direction — to appoint one of their members to preside, provided that no person be allowed to serve in the office of president more than one year in any term of three years; to ascertain the necessary sums of money to be raised for the service of the United States, and to appropriate and apply the same for defraying the public expenses — to borrow money, or emit bills on the credit of the United States, transmitting every half-year to the respective States an account of the sums of money so borrowed or emitted — to build and equip a navy — to agree upon the number of land forces, and to make requisitions from each State for its quota, in proportion to the number of white inhabitants in such State; which requisition shall be binding, and thereupon the legislature of each State shall appoint the regimental officers, raise the men and cloath, arm and equip them in a solid- like manner, at the expense of the United States; and the officers and men so cloathed, armed and equipped shall march to the place appointed, and within the time agreed on by the United States in Congress assembled. But if the United States in Congress assembled shall, on consideration of circumstances judge proper that any State should not raise men, or should raise a smaller number of men than the quota thereof, such extra number shall be raised, officered, cloathed, armed and equipped in the same manner as the quota of each State, unless the legislature of such State shall judge that such extra number cannot be safely spread out in the same, in which case they shall raise, officer, cloath, arm and equip as many of such extra number as they judge can be safely spared. And the officers and men so cloathed, armed, and equipped, shall march to the place appointed, and within the time agreed on by the United States in Congress assembled.

The United States in Congress assembled shall never engage in a war, nor grant letters of marque or reprisal in time of peace, nor enter into any treaties or alliances, nor coin money, nor regulate the value thereof, nor ascertain the sums and expenses necessary for the defense and welfare of the United States, or any of them, nor emit bills, nor borrow money on the credit of the United States, nor appropriate money, nor agree upon the number of vessels of war, to be built or purchased, or the number of land or sea forces to be raised, nor appoint a commander in chief of the army or navy, unless nine States assent to the same: nor shall a question on any other point, except for adjourning from day to day be determined, unless by the votes of the majority of the United States in Congress assembled.

The Congress of the United States shall have power to adjourn to any time within the year, and to any place within the United States, so that no period of adjournment be for a longer duration than the space of six months, and shall publish the journal of their proceedings monthly, except such parts thereof relating to treaties, alliances or military operations, as in their judgement require secrecy; and the yeas and nays of the delegates of each State on any question shall be entered on the journal, when it is desired by any delegates of a State, or any of them, at his or their request shall be furnished with a transcript of the said journal, except such parts as are above excepted, to lay before the legislatures of the several States.

Article X. The Committee of the States, or any nine of them, shall be authorized to execute, in the recess of Congress, such of the powers of Congress as the United States in Congress assembled, by the consent of the nine States, shall from time to time think expedient to vest them with; provided that no power be delegated to the said Committee, for the exercise of which, by the Articles of Confederation, the voice of nine States in the Congress of the United States assembled be requisite.

Article XI. Canada acceding to this confederation, and adjoining in the measures of the United States, shall be admitted into, and entitled to all the advantages of this Union; but no other colony shall be admitted into the same, unless such admission be agreed to by nine States.

Article XII. All bills of credit emitted, monies borrowed, and debts contracted by, or under the authority of Congress, before the assembling of the United States, in pursuance of the present confederation, shall be deemed and considered as a charge against the United States, for payment and satisfaction whereof the said United States, and the public faith are hereby solemnly pledged.

Article XIII. Every State shall abide by the determination of the United States in Congress assembled, on all questions which by this confederation are submitted to them. And the Articles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the Union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them; unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State.

And Whereas it hath pleased the Great Governor of the World to incline the hearts of the legislatures we respectively represent in Congress, to approve of, and to authorize us to ratify the said Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union. Know Ye that we the undersigned delegates, by virtue of the power and authority to us given for that purpose, do by these presents, in the name and in behalf of our respective constituents, fully and entirely ratify and confirm each and every of the said Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union, and all and singular the matters and things therein contained: And we do further solemnly plight and engage the faith of our respective constituents, that they shall abide by the determinations of the United States in Congress assembled, on all questions, which by the said Confederation are submitted to them. And that the Articles thereof shall be inviolably observed by the States we respectively represent, and that the Union shall be perpetual.

In Witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands in Congress. Done at Philadelphia in the State of Pennsylvania the ninth day of July in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Eight, and in the Third Year of the independence of America.

On the part and behalf of the State of New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
John Wentworth Junr. August 8th 1778

On the part and behalf of The State of Massachusetts Bay:
John Hancock
Samuel Adams
Elbridge Gerry
Francis Dana
James Lovell
Samuel Holten

On the part and behalf of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations:
William Ellery
Henry Marchant
John Collins

On the part and behalf of the State of Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
Oliver Wolcott
Titus Hosmer
Andrew Adams

On the Part and Behalf of the State of New York:
James Duane
Francis Lewis
Wm Duer
Gouv Morris

On the Part and in Behalf of the State of New Jersey, November 26, 1778.
Jno Witherspoon
Nath. Scudder

On the part and behalf of the State of Pennsylvania:
Robt Morris
Daniel Roberdeau
John Bayard Smith
William Clingan
Joseph Reed 22nd July 1778

On the part and behalf of the State of Delaware:
Tho Mckean February 12, 1779
John Dickinson May 5th 1779
Nicholas Van Dyke

On the part and behalf of the State of Maryland:
John Hanson March 1 1781
Daniel Carroll

On the Part and Behalf of the State of Virginia:
Richard Henry Lee
John Banister
Thomas Adams
Jno Harvie
Francis Lightfoot Lee

On the part and Behalf of the State of No Carolina:
John Penn July 21st 1778
Corns Harnett
Jno Williams

On the part and behalf of the State of South Carolina:
Henry Laurens
William Henry Drayton
Jno Mathews
Richd Hutson
Thos Heyward Junr

On the part and behalf of the State of Georgia:
Jno Walton 24th July 1778
Edwd Telfair
Edwd Langworthy
24643  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Articles of Confederation on: February 03, 2010, 07:43:12 AM
http://www.usconstitution.net/articles.html



The Articles of Confederation

Agreed to by Congress November 15, 1777; ratified and in force, March 1, 1781.
Preamble

To all to whom these Presents shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of the States affixed to our Names send greeting.

Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

Article I. The Stile of this Confederacy shall be "The United States of America."

Article II. Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.

Article III. The said States hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever.

Article IV. The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different States in this Union, the free inhabitants of each of these States, paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice excepted, shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several States; and the people of each State shall free ingress and regress to and from any other State, and shall enjoy therein all the privileges of trade and commerce, subject to the same duties, impositions, and restrictions as the inhabitants thereof respectively, provided that such restrictions shall not extend so far as to prevent the removal of property imported into any State, to any other State, of which the owner is an inhabitant; provided also that no imposition, duties or restriction shall be laid by any State, on the property of the United States, or either of them.

If any person guilty of, or charged with, treason, felony, or other high misdemeanor in any State, shall flee from justice, and be found in any of the United States, he shall, upon demand of the Governor or executive power of the State from which he fled, be delivered up and removed to the State having jurisdiction of his offense.

Full faith and credit shall be given in each of these States to the records, acts, and judicial proceedings of the courts and magistrates of every other State.

Article V. For the most convenient management of the general interests of the United States, delegates shall be annually appointed in such manner as the legislatures of each State shall direct, to meet in Congress on the first Monday in November, in every year, with a power reserved to each State to recall its delegates, or any of them, at any time within the year, and to send others in their stead for the remainder of the year.

No State shall be represented in Congress by less than two, nor more than seven members; and no person shall be capable of being a delegate for more than three years in any term of six years; nor shall any person, being a delegate, be capable of holding any office under the United States, for which he, or another for his benefit, receives any salary, fees or emolument of any kind.

Each State shall maintain its own delegates in a meeting of the States, and while they act as members of the committee of the States.

In determining questions in the United States in Congress assembled, each State shall have one vote.

Freedom of speech and debate in Congress shall not be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Congress, and the members of Congress shall be protected in their persons from arrests or imprisonments, during the time of their going to and from, and attendance on Congress, except for treason, felony, or breach of the peace.

Article VI. No State, without the consent of the United States in Congress assembled, shall send any embassy to, or receive any embassy from, or enter into any conference, agreement, alliance or treaty with any King, Prince or State; nor shall any person holding any office of profit or trust under the United States, or any of them, accept any present, emolument, office or title of any kind whatever from any King, Prince or foreign State; nor shall the United States in Congress assembled, or any of them, grant any title of nobility.

No two or more States shall enter into any treaty, confederation or alliance whatever between them, without the consent of the United States in Congress assembled, specifying accurately the purposes for which the same is to be entered into, and how long it shall continue.

No State shall lay any imposts or duties, which may interfere with any stipulations in treaties, entered into by the United States in Congress assembled, with any King, Prince or State, in pursuance of any treaties already proposed by Congress, to the courts of France and Spain.

No vessel of war shall be kept up in time of peace by any State, except such number only, as shall be deemed necessary by the United States in Congress assembled, for the defense of such State, or its trade; nor shall any body of forces be kept up by any State in time of peace, except such number only, as in the judgement of the United States in Congress assembled, shall be deemed requisite to garrison the forts necessary for the defense of such State; but every State shall always keep up a well-regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed and accoutered, and shall provide and constantly have ready for use, in public stores, a due number of filed pieces and tents, and a proper quantity of arms, ammunition and camp equipage.

No State shall engage in any war without the consent of the United States in Congress assembled, unless such State be actually invaded by enemies, or shall have received certain advice of a resolution being formed by some nation of Indians to invade such State, and the danger is so imminent as not to admit of a delay till the United States in Congress assembled can be consulted; nor shall any State grant commissions to any ships or vessels of war, nor letters of marque or reprisal, except it be after a declaration of war by the United States in Congress assembled, and then only against the Kingdom or State and the subjects thereof, against which war has been so declared, and under such regulations as shall be established by the United States in Congress assembled, unless such State be infested by pirates, in which case vessels of war may be fitted out for that occasion, and kept so long as the danger shall continue, or until the United States in Congress assembled shall determine otherwise.

Article VII. When land forces are raised by any State for the common defense, all officers of or under the rank of colonel, shall be appointed by the legislature of each State respectively, by whom such forces shall be raised, or in such manner as such State shall direct, and all vacancies shall be filled up by the State which first made the appointment.

Article VIII. All charges of war, and all other expenses that shall be incurred for the common defense or general welfare, and allowed by the United States in Congress assembled, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury, which shall be supplied by the several States in proportion to the value of all land within each State, granted or surveyed for any person, as such land and the buildings and improvements thereon shall be estimated according to such mode as the United States in Congress assembled, shall from time to time direct and appoint.

The taxes for paying that proportion shall be laid and levied by the authority and direction of the legislatures of the several States within the time agreed upon by the United States in Congress assembled.

Article IX. The United States in Congress assembled, shall have the sole and exclusive right and power of determining on peace and war, except in the cases mentioned in the sixth article — of sending and receiving ambassadors — entering into treaties and alliances, provided that no treaty of commerce shall be made whereby the legislative power of the respective States shall be restrained from imposing such imposts and duties on foreigners, as their own people are subjected to, or from prohibiting the exportation or importation of any species of goods or commodities whatsoever — of establishing rules for deciding in all cases, what captures on land or water shall be legal, and in what manner prizes taken by land or naval forces in the service of the United States shall be divided or appropriated — of granting letters of marque and reprisal in times of peace — appointing courts for the trial of piracies and felonies committed on the high seas and establishing courts for receiving and determining finally appeals in all cases of captures, provided that no member of Congress shall be appointed a judge of any of the said courts.

The United States in Congress assembled shall also be the last resort on appeal in all disputes and differences now subsisting or that hereafter may arise between two or more States concerning boundary, jurisdiction or any other causes whatever; which authority shall always be exercised in the manner following. Whenever the legislative or executive authority or lawful agent of any State in controversy with another shall present a petition to Congress stating the matter in question and praying for a hearing, notice thereof shall be given by order of Congress to the legislative or executive authority of the other State in controversy, and a day assigned for the appearance of the parties by their lawful agents, who shall then be directed to appoint by joint consent, commissioners or judges to constitute a court for hearing and determining the matter in question: but if they cannot agree, Congress shall name three persons out of each of the United States, and from the list of such persons each party shall alternately strike out one, the petitioners beginning, until the number shall be reduced to thirteen; and from that number not less than seven, nor more than nine names as Congress shall direct, shall in the presence of Congress be drawn out by lot, and the persons whose names shall be so drawn or any five of them, shall be commissioners or judges, to hear and finally determine the controversy, so always as a major part of the judges who shall hear the cause shall agree in the determination: and if either party shall neglect to attend at the day appointed, without showing reasons, which Congress shall judge sufficient, or being present shall refuse to strike, the Congress shall proceed to nominate three persons out of each State, and the secretary of Congress shall strike in behalf of such party absent or refusing; and the judgement and sentence of the court to be appointed, in the manner before prescribed, shall be final and conclusive; and if any of the parties shall refuse to submit to the authority of such court, or to appear or defend their claim or cause, the court shall nevertheless proceed to pronounce sentence, or judgement, which shall in like manner be final and decisive, the judgement or sentence and other proceedings being in either case transmitted to Congress, and lodged among the acts of Congress for the security of the parties concerned: provided that every commissioner, before he sits in judgement, shall take an oath to be administered by one of the judges of the supreme or superior court of the State, where the cause shall be tried, 'well and truly to hear and determine the matter in question, according to the best of his judgement, without favor, affection or hope of reward': provided also, that no State shall be deprived of territory for the benefit of the United States.

All controversies concerning the private right of soil claimed under different grants of two or more States, whose jurisdictions as they may respect such lands, and the States which passed such grants are adjusted, the said grants or either of them being at the same time claimed to have originated antecedent to such settlement of jurisdiction, shall on the petition of either party to the Congress of the United States, be finally determined as near as may be in the same manner as is before prescribed for deciding disputes respecting territorial jurisdiction between different States.
24644  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: February 03, 2010, 05:26:34 AM
I'm not sure yet if we are understanding each other.

The question I seek to raise is of a gay NCO or officer exerting sexual pressure (subtle or not) in an environment where he/she is in a position to put those who resist that pressure more in harm's way.
24645  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: February 03, 2010, 05:19:55 AM
This bears watching!!!  CCP, will you be the one to keep an eye on this for us?
24646  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Glen Beck on: February 03, 2010, 05:18:32 AM
Glenn reports that the Obama Administration has ordered the CIA to REDUCE shocked shocked shocked intel observation of Red China!?!  angry angry angry

In conjunction with the acceleration of our unsustainable debt, do we see the beginning of the endgame of this unsustainable dynamics in which we have placed ourselves???
24647  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: February 02, 2010, 11:38:38 PM
Woof Jkrenz:

Welcome home!

24648  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia tried fomenting Fannie-Freddie crisis on: February 02, 2010, 01:44:17 PM


Paulson claims Russia tried to foment Fannie-Freddie crisis
By Krishna Guha in Washington

Published: January 29 2010 21:06 | Last updated: January 29 2010 21:06

Russia proposed to China that the two nations should sell Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds in 2008 to force the US government to bail out the giant mortgage-finance companies, former US Treasury secretary Hank Paulson has claimed.

The allegation is in his memoir On the Brink in which he also suggests that Alistair Darling, the UK chancellor, blocked a rescue takeover of Lehman Brothers by Barclays Bank when he refused to support special treatment by UK regulators.

Mr Paulson said that he was told about the Russian plan when he was in Beijing for the Olympics in August 2008. Russia had gone to war with Georgia, a US ally, on August 8.

“Russian officials had made a top-level approach to the Chinese, suggesting that together they might sell big chunks of their GSE holdings to force the US to use its emergency authorities to prop up these companies,” he said.

Fannie and Freddie are known as GSEs or government sponsored enterprises.

“The Chinese had declined to go along with the disruptive scheme, but the report was deeply troubling,” he said. A senior Russian official told the Financial Times that he could not comment on the allegation.

Separately, Mr Paulson makes it clear that he believes that Mr Darling prevented a takeover of Lehman by Barclays out of fear that it would endanger the UK bank.

Mr Paulson said that Mr Darling telephoned him on Friday September 12 – as the US authorities were scrambling to find a buyer for Lehman – to express concern about a possible Barclays deal. Mr Paulson said that he did not realise at the time that this was a “clear warning”.

He was stunned to discover on Sunday September 14 that the UK Financial Services Authority would not approve the merger on an accelerated timetable or waive the requirement for a shareholder vote.

Tim Geithner, then president of the New York Fed, called Callum McCarthy, the head of the UK’s Financial Services Authority, to ask him to waive the vote requirement.

“But the FSA chief put the onus on Darling, saying that only the chancellor of the exchequer had the authority to do that,” Mr Paulson said.

He said that Mr Darling “made it clear, without a hint of apology in his voice, that there was no way Barclays would buy Lehman”. Lehman filed for bankruptcy the next day.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2010. Print a single copy of this article for personal use. Contact us if you wish to print more to distribute to others.

24649  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Team Kali Tudo on: February 02, 2010, 12:23:21 PM
Good work yesterday.  The guys are coming along nicely.
24650  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / First Amendment 451 on: February 02, 2010, 11:41:00 AM
ROBERT COSTA

JANUARY 29, 2010 4:00 A.M.
First Amendment 451
How one man irked Obama and won a historic victory for free speech.
 
David Bossie irritates President Obama. Bossie did not get the usual upturned chin or expletive-riddled call from Rahm Emanuel this week after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizens United, his non-profit corporation, in a landmark free-speech decision. Rather, Obama decided to take a potshot through a sharp-edged rant tucked into the State of the Union.

“With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections,” Obama said. “Well, I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.”

Bossie’s take on Obama’s finger-wagging was similar to what Justice Samuel Alito mouthed, and similar to the analysis Bradley A. Smith and Shannen Coffin have presented on the Corner: “Not true.” Foreign corporations, Bossie says, are prohibited from making contributions in connection with American elections, and that wasn’t even at issue in the case. The president’s anger over the Court’s 5–4 decision, he adds, actually reveals something more troubling: Obama doesn’t like it when someone tries to snatch power from the federal government and put it back in the hands of the American people.

“Our argument in the case wasn’t complicated,” says Bossie. “It was about freedom, and it ended up hinging on a very simple question: If the FEC is comfortable banning political films, like Citizens United’s Hillary: The Movie, around election time, would it also be fine with banning political books financed by corporations? The Justice Department’s attorney answered yes, the government did have the power to prohibit the publication of a book. When they admitted that, everything changed.”

“I think that answer sent a chill through the Court,” says Bossie. “It was that moment that was a catalyst for us, and gave us the opportunity to win on much bigger constitutional grounds than we anticipated. It became apparent that the government believed that they could ban anything: movies, books, pamphlets, the Kindle, you name it. It was a shocking revelation.”

Ted Olson, the former solicitor general who represented Citizens United before the Court, says that he’s not surprised at what Bossie has been able to accomplish. “I’ve known Dave for a decade,” he says. “I’ve always admired what he does. When we got together to discuss this case, I knew we could win. He had other attorneys before me, but for this last step, he brought me on. We spent a lot of time looking at the arguments from the court below, and realized after our oral argument in March 2009 that we could argue that precedents could be overturned. That’s when we knew we had traction.”

“President Obama and his party are worried that this decision means that big corporations will dominate politics. They’re wrong,” says Olson. “The Court’s decision was about opening up the political process to individual corporations and small corporations, to create a more favorable balance and open up free speech to everyone.”

So how did Bossie, an unknown outside the Beltway, become the new hero for political speech? It all starts with Bill and Hillary. Before becoming a producer of political films at Citizens United, Bossie was what the Clintons would call a card-carrying member of the vast right-wing conspiracy. He was the chief Whitewater investigator for the House GOP in the 1990s. He also investigated the foreign-fundraising problems in Bill Clinton’s 1996 reelection campaign.

Those experiences, says Ed Gillespie, Bossie’s old friend and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, helped to prepare him for a historic Supreme Court battle.. “Dave pushed this free-speech issue and saw opportunity when very few others did,” says Gillespie. “He understood its significance from the outset, and now he’s changed the political environment.”

Since the big win, Bossie has been assailed by the Left. Not that he cares. He doesn’t apologize for his past investigations into the Clintons, and shrugs off criticism that his motives for suing the FEC were purely political. “This case wasn’t just about me or Citizens United,” he says. “It was about standing up for the principles of our Founding Fathers.” He points to the support he garnered from the American Civil Liberties Union as an example of how this wasn’t about “conservative demagoguery.”

“When I heard the ACLU was supporting us, I had to question myself for a moment,” Bossie laughs. “I mean, wow, I’ve never had their support, ever. Think about this: One of our films was called ACLU: At War With America. To have them agreeing with us, plus the AFL-CIO and the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press — both not exactly bastions of conservatism — was a sign of how powerful our position was. I’m eternally grateful to all them for bringing forward a view of how important this was to groups across the political spectrum.”

“The FEC believed that they have a mandate to tell the American people what they can and cannot do when it comes to an election,” says Bossie. “We’ve always been under the impression that the FEC believes that it’s not necessarily an inherent right for the American people to speak during an election; it’s only by the grace of the FEC. The oral arguments in this case proved that all to be true. As they’ve taken more and more power, which Congress, via John McCain and Russ Feingold, has happily given them, they’ve encroached on the First Amendment..” Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy agreed, quoting a previous case that called political speech “indispensible to decision-making in a democracy and this is no less true because the speech comes from a corporation.”

“It’s a huge, huge symbolic win,” says Andrew Breitbart, the founder of BigGovernment.com. “The Left wants to scare people into thinking that more free speech will be harmful for democracy, but just watch, in five years we’ll laugh with contempt at such arguments. Thanks, in part, to Dave’s great work, Americans are becoming hip to how they’ve been muzzled by our politically correct Sharia system. Conservative opinions may be deemed toxic by the mainstream media, but this new ruling stops their ability to curb speech in this country.”

“Dave’s legal work,” adds Breitbart, “is like what I do with my websites: We’re trying to wrest control of media back from the Left, who have brilliantly taken control over the years and dominated our political and cultural narrative.”

With all due deference to President Obama, the floodgates are now open, not for special interests, but for free speech.

— Robert Costa is the William F. Buckley Jr. Fellow at the National Review Institute.
Pages: 1 ... 491 492 [493] 494 495 ... 740
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!