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25251  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Doctors choosing prison work on: December 24, 2009, 12:02:44 AM

http://money.cnn.com/2009/12/23/news/economy/healthcare_doctors_in_prison/index.htm
25252  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Need Help Getting back into the swing of things on: December 24, 2009, 12:01:30 AM
This is excellent advice-- note particularly the season of resting (hibernation).
25253  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Video-Clips de DBMA en espanol on: December 23, 2009, 07:32:42 PM
En ese momento nuestro "editor" (?Como se dice "editor") esta' metido profundamente con unos otros proyectos para nosotros; pero al completirlos, el se eonfocara' de nuevo en eso.
25254  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Interpol above American Law? on: December 23, 2009, 04:16:20 PM

Pasting here GM's post from the Issues in American Creed thread:

http://hotair.com/archives/2009/12/23/did-obama-exempt-interpol-from-same-legal-constraints-as-american-law-enforcement/

Did Obama exempt Interpol from same legal constraints as American law-enforcement?
posted at 2:55 pm on December 23, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

During his presidency, Ronald Reagan granted the global police agency Interpol the status of diplomatic personnel in order to engage more constructively on international law enforcement.  In Executive Order 12425, Reagan made two exceptions to that status.  The first had to do with taxation, but the second was to make sure that Interpol had the same accountability for its actions as American law enforcement — namely, they had to produce records when demanded by courts and could not have immunity for their actions.
Barack Obama unexpectedly revoked those exceptions in a change to EO 12425 last month, as Threats Watch reports:
Last Thursday, December 17, 2009, The White House released an Executive Order “Amending Executive Order 12425.” It grants INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organization) a new level of full diplomatic immunity afforded to foreign embassies and select other “International Organizations” as set forth in the United States International Organizations Immunities Act of 1945.
By removing language from President Reagan’s 1983 Executive Order 12425, this international law enforcement body now operates – now operates – on American soil beyond the reach of our own top law enforcement arm, the FBI, and is immune from Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests. …
After initial review and discussions between the writers of this analysis, the context was spelled out plainly.
Through EO 12425, President Reagan extended to INTERPOL recognition as an “International Organization.” In short, the privileges and immunities afforded foreign diplomats was extended to INTERPOL. Two sets of important privileges and immunities were withheld: Section 2© and the remaining sections cited (all of which deal with differing taxes).

And then comes December 17, 2009, and President Obama. The exemptions in EO 12425 were removed.
Section 2c of the United States International Organizations Immunities Act is the crucial piece.
Property and assets of international organizations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, unless such immunity be expressly waived, and from confiscation. The archives of international organizations shall be inviolable. (Emphasis added.)
Inviolable archives means INTERPOL records are beyond US citizens’ Freedom of Information Act requests and from American legal or investigative discovery (“unless such immunity be expressly waived.”)
Property and assets being immune from search and confiscation means precisely that. Wherever they may be in the United States. This could conceivably include human assets – Americans arrested on our soil by INTERPOL officers.
Actually, that last argument overreaches.  American law does not consider people as “assets.”  It does mean, though, that Interpol officers would have diplomatic immunity for any lawbreaking conducted in the US at a time when Interpol nations (like Italy) have attempted to try American intelligence agents for their work in the war on terror, a rather interesting double standard.
It also appears to mean that Americans who get arrested on the basis of Interpol work cannot get the type of documentation one normally would get in the discovery process, which is a remarkable reversal from Obama’s declared efforts to gain “due process” for terrorists detained at Gitmo.  Does the White House intend to treat Americans worse than the terrorists we’ve captured during wartime?
Andy McCarthy wonders the same thing:
Interpol’s property and assets are no longer subject to search and confiscation, and its archives are now considered inviolable. This international police force (whose U.S. headquarters is in the Justice Department in Washington) will be unrestrained by the U.S. Constitution and American law while it operates in the United States and affects both Americans and American interests outside the United States.
Interpol works closely with international tribunals (such as the International Criminal Court — which the United States has refused to join because of its sovereignty surrendering provisions, though top Obama officials want us in it). It also works closely with foreign courts and law-enforcement authorities (such as those in Europe that are investigating former Bush administration officials for purported war crimes — i.e., for actions taken in America’s defense).
Why would we elevate an international police force above American law? Why would we immunize an international police force from the limitations that constrain the FBI and other American law-enforcement agencies? Why is it suddenly necessary to have, within the Justice Department, a repository for stashing government files which, therefore, will be beyond the ability of Congress, American law-enforcement, the media, and the American people to scrutinize?
I seem to recall the Left getting hysterical over the Patriot Act extensions that Obama finally backed.  This gives Interpol a much wider operational latitude than anything contemplated in the Patriot Act, and with no accountability at all.
25255  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: Revenge on: December 23, 2009, 10:44:17 AM
MEXICO CITY — It had been an elaborate farewell to one of Mexico’s fallen heroes.

The mother of a slain Mexican sailor, Irma Córdova Palma, center right, and his aunt, Josefa Angulo Flores, center, attended his funeral on Monday. Hours later, gunmen killed the women.

Mexican troops on Tuesday surrounded a home in Villahermosa where gunmen killed four relatives of a Mexican sailor who died last week in a special forces assault that killed a drug lord.

Ensign Melquisedet Angulo Córdova, a special forces sailor killed last week during the government’s most successful raid on a top drug lord in years, received a stirring public tribute in which the secretary of the navy presented his mother with the flag that covered her son’s coffin.

Then, only hours after the grieving family had finished burying him in his hometown the next day, gunmen burst into the family’s house and sprayed the rooms with gunfire, killing his mother and three other relatives, officials said Tuesday.

It was a chilling epilogue to the navy-led operation that killed the drug lord, Arturo Beltrán Leyva, and six of his gunmen. And it appeared to be intended as a clear warning to the military forces on the front line of President Felipe Calderón’s war against Mexico’s drug cartels: not only you, but your family is a target as well.

Prosecutors, police chiefs and thousands of others have been killed in the violence gripping Mexico, with whole families sometimes coming under attack during a cartel’s assassination attempt. But going after the family of a sailor who had already been killed is an exceedingly rare form of intimidation, analysts say, and illustrates how little progress the government has made toward one of its most important goals: reclaiming a sense of peace and order for Mexicans caught in the cross-fire.

“There will be more reprisals, both symbolic ones and strategic ones,” said Guillermo Zepeda, a security expert with the Center of Research for Development, in Mexico City. “They will take revenge against not only the top people, but anybody who participates.”

The military and police forces who have been fighting the drug war typically cover their faces with ski masks to protect their identities. But the government generally releases the names of police officers and soldiers who have been killed in the drug war.

Responding to the killings on Tuesday, Mr. Calderón said, “These contemptible events are proof of how unscrupulously organized crime operates, attacking innocent lives, and they can only strengthen us in our determination to banish this singular cancer.”

The gunmen killed Ensign Angulo’s mother, Irma Córdova Palma, and his sister Yolidabey, 22, just after midnight on Tuesday as they slept, said Tabasco State officials. An aunt, Josefa Angulo Flores, 46, died on her way to the hospital and Ensign Angulo’s brother Benito died shortly after he was admitted to the hospital. Another sister, who was not identified, was injured.

Ensign Angulo, 30, was killed Dec. 16 when military forces surrounded an upscale apartment complex in the city of Cuernavaca, an hour’s drive south of Mexico City, and cornered Mr. Beltrán Leyva, who American and Mexican officials say was one of Mexico’s most violent drug lords.

Although Mr. Calderón called the death of Mr. Beltrán Leyva a significant victory in the drug war, federal officials warned almost immediately that it could spawn more violence.

Attorney General Arturo Chávez Chávez told reporters the morning after the raid against Mr. Beltrán Leyva that his subordinates would battle among one another to take his place at the head of the cartel that bears his name.

But what officials did not expect was that among the first victims would be the innocent.

Throughout the three-year-old drug war, Mexican officials have argued that only a tiny percentage of the dead are noncombatants. Indeed, the vast majority of the dead are believed to be members of drug gangs settling scores. Half of the bodies are not even claimed by their families, government officials have said.

But the government has also proved to be powerless to protect many of its own forces in the drug war, much less innocent bystanders. In just one case in July, gunmen suspected of being cartel members killed 12 federal police officers in the western state of Michoacán in retaliation for the arrest of one of their leaders.

The killings on Tuesday underscore how vulnerable civilians are. Many local police forces are corrupted by drug money, officials say, and even when they are not, they are no match for the drug gangs’ firepower.

In one of the most frightening attacks directed at civilians, suspected cartel members threw grenades into a crowd celebrating Independence Day in the president’s hometown in 2008, killing eight people. It seemed to crystallize the fear that the cartels could strike wherever and whenever they wanted, despite the deployment of thousands of troops against them.

Analysts said that new levels of narcoterrorism were possible as the drug gangs tried to spread fear among those fighting them.

“Any objective could be vulnerable,” Mr. Zepeda, the security expert, said. “The state should be expecting it.”

Antonio Betancourt contributed reporting.
25256  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH on: December 23, 2009, 10:33:59 AM
Its Pravda on the Hudson writing a PC article.  Caveat Lector!

Is the statement in the article that the Constitution calls for "residents", not just "citizens" to be counted true? 

MIAMI — Fearing that millions of illegal immigrants may not be counted in the 2010 census, Latino leaders are mobilizing a nationwide drive to urge Hispanics to participate in the survey, including an intense push this week in evangelical Christian churches.

Latino groups contend that there was an undercount of nearly one million Latinos in the 2000 census, affecting the drawing of Congressional districts and the distribution of federal money. Hispanic organizations are far better organized for next year’s census, but they say that if illegal immigrants — an estimated eight million of whom are Latino — are not included, the undercount could be much greater.

One study suggests that Congressional delegations in eight states with large Hispanic populations could grow if all Latinos — the nation’s largest minority at some 47 million — are counted.

But the obstacles to an accurate count are significant. Many illegal immigrants are likely to be reluctant to fill out a government form that asks for their names, birthdates and telephone numbers. And the count comes three years into an immigration crackdown that was initiated by President George W. Bush but has continued apace, though less visibly, under President Obama.

Several of the nation’s largest associations of Hispanic evangelical churches have agreed to join the census campaign. But it has caused dissension among others, with one evangelical pastor leading a call for a boycott of the census, saying it would put pressure on the Obama administration and on Congress to grant legal status to illegal immigrants.

Some Roman Catholic leaders, moreover, have said they are reluctant to urge Latino parishioners to participate without greater assurances from the administration that illegal immigrants will not be identified or detained through the census.

The Constitution calls for all residents to be counted, and last month the Senate rejected a measure by Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, that would have included only United States citizens in the official tally.

In October, census officials said they would not ask the Department of Homeland Security to suspend immigration raids during the census period, reversing a policy from 2000, when an immigration moratorium was observed. But census officials say there is no change in a longstanding policy that they do not share identity data with the Department of Homeland Security or any other agency.

Latino political leaders see full participation in the census as the culmination of heightened activism that began in the spring of 2006, when hundreds of thousands of Latinos marched in the streets to protest legislation then in Congress that would have toughened laws against illegal immigration. In 2007 they held a nationwide campaign to have Latino immigrants become United States citizens. That was followed last year with a huge voter registration drive.

“We want to tap into that same spirit,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, known as Naleo, a bipartisan group that is a main organizer of the census drive. “We have to go back to everybody and say, ‘Just as you marched, just as you naturalized, just as you voted, now you have to be counted.’ ”

One strategy is to encourage Latino immigrants to return the census forms by mail, rather than waiting for a census taker’s knock on the door, which could frighten illegal immigrants wary of immigration agents.

To that end, groups like Naleo, the National Council of La Razaand others are moving to tap the expanding social networks and the power of persuasion of evangelical churches, which have seen huge growth among Latinos in the last decade. At a recent meeting with religious leaders in Miami, Naleo unveiled a poster for churches to use during the Christmas season to talk up the census. It depicts Mary and Joseph, recalling that they went to Bethlehem to participate in a census.

“Así nació Jesus,” the poster says. “That’s how Jesus was born.”

Evangelical leaders said last Wednesday that the poster would be displayed in more than 7,000 evangelical churches this week.

Among the evangelicals to embrace the effort is the Rev. Samuel Rodríguez Jr., a pastor from California who is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which includes more than 25,000 evangelical churches.

“I believe we pastors have a moral responsibility to educate our flock in an action that will help our communities move forward on the path of political empowerment,” Mr. Rodríguez said.

A new ally in Miami is Pastor José Victor Dugand, who can be found most days in his church in the southwest part of the city singing Christian rock music with a Latin lilt and expounding bilingually on the Bible.

Even on hectic weeknights, worshipers come by the hundreds to pray at his Ekklesia Global Church, bringing worries about lost jobs in South Florida’s battered economy as well as fears of immigration authorities. Lately, Mr. Dugand tells his followers they can increase their political influence and draw federal money to the community by participating in the census.

“I think we need to come to the light — we need to be counted,” he said. “Right now, I believe the government is totally off in the figures. We need to have a number that is closer to reality, so we can have better representation politically.”

When illegal immigrants in his church express worries, Mr. Dugand advises them that they should trust the census. “I tell them, ‘Don’t flee, don’t just escape,’ ” he said. “Help us build something here for our children.”

But the Rev. Miguel Angel Rivera, a New Jersey pastor who heads a smaller coalition of evangelical clergy, has called for a boycott of the census.

“We need to empower the undocumented immigrants by asking them not to participate,” Mr. Rivera said, “as a way to protest the lack of commitment from this Congress to do what is right and moral, which is comprehensive immigration reform.”

He is touring the country with his boycott call, and he has gained the support of some community leaders, including Nativo López, a Mexican-American activist in Los Angeles.

Nearly 12 million Latinos voted in November 2008, an increase of two million votes over 2004, according to an analysis by Andres Ramirez, a researcher at NDN, a Democratic advocacy organization. Now, in the first census since Hispanics passed blacks to become the second-largest population group in the United States, Hispanics want to extend that voting power with a census count that would support more elected representatives for their communities.

An analysis by NDN and America’s Voice, an immigrant advocacy group, projected that a full count of Hispanics would lead to a significant redrawing of the Congressional map, with six states picking up one Congressional seat (Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina and Utah), while Arizona would add two and Texas as many as four.
25257  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: December 23, 2009, 10:19:30 AM
My initial thoughts run along the lines of personality types:  Logic is the dominant modality in only 10% of the population whereas, IIRC, emotion is the dominant modality for LOTS more people (the other two are Sensation and Intuition).  How do we speak effectively to call to the heart on this issue?
 
Separately, though not directly on point but perhaps tangentially of interest is a technique I used the last time I ran for Congress (1992).  Whenever I would get asked one of those wooly-headed "caring" based questions I would answer with the following story, telling it as if it were literally true-- the punch line giving away that it had been a parable all along:
 
"I was sitting in the _________ restaurant during the afternoon, having a late lunch with a friend.  The only other people there were three people at a nearby table.  They finished and when they received their bill they got up and came over to us and gave it to us.  "What on earth do you think you are doing?"  I asked. 
 
They answered "There's three of us and two of you.  We had a vote.  You're paying."
 
And for the rest of the debate, anytime someone proposed some sort of govt. meddling/program, all I had to do was say as I looked at the crowd.  "They had a vote.  You're paying."
 
This seemed very effective.
========
PS:  It is spelled "Villa", not Via (pronounced (Vee-ya)
25258  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: December 22, 2009, 11:50:35 PM
How does one effectively counter this debating methodolgy?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNfG8gwamKM&feature=player_embedded
25259  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: December 22, 2009, 11:48:26 PM
Upon reflection, I am going to take this over to "The Way Forward" thread.
25260  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Need some help finding a topic on: December 22, 2009, 11:43:31 PM
Maxx:

Her name is Ashley.  She trains with Dino , , , last name slips my mind, sorry , , , They were using the name Team Ruthless at the time, but may have changed their name since then.  Try searching for "Ashley" or "Team Ruthless".

Her form in strength work is exceptional, and so are her numbers.
25261  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Kali Tudo Working Examples on: December 22, 2009, 11:40:28 PM
C-Guard Dog:

What fight?  When?  Who?  What round?
25262  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm) Training Camp Feb 6-7 on: December 22, 2009, 11:37:43 PM
So, if you're not there then you're , , , whipped? evil cheesy
25263  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: December 22, 2009, 08:34:47 PM
How does one handle this debating method?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNfG8gwamKM&feature=player_embedded
25264  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: December 22, 2009, 02:56:37 PM
OY to the world (Christmas in Boca)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'Twas the night before Christmas
and down here in Boca,
I was sitting at Starbucks,
drinking my mocha.



I know we're all Jewish,
but was wondering still,
if Santa would come here
and give us a thrill.


On my way home,
no Christmas lights did I see,
on the houses, the windows,
not even the trees.


What a strange feeling.
Not a decoration in sight.
Was it really December
or a warm summer's night?


I drove past Toojay's,
there were lines out the door.
People were waiting
for kishka and more.


The restaurants were busy,
Christmas dinners not planned.
Never, not here
we're in Boca Land.


At home all was quiet.
I left out Kosher wine,
In case Santa came to Boca
for the very first time.


Snoozing came easy
to me Christmas Eve.
I wasn't waiting for presents
to be left under a tree.


I could hope all I want.
I could fuss and then see,
if Santa would make time
for little old me.


Then all of a sudden
he pulled up in his Jag,
with a sack full of presents
each sporting a tag.


Oh Bloomies, oh Saks
Oh Nieman's and more.
He knows where to shop,
he frequents my stores!


He looked for the lox,
the bagels and deli.
He came to Boca first
to fill up his belly!


"I have a long night ahead,
I want you to know.
From Boca I leave
for New York and the snow."


He stayed for a while,
he chatted and ate.
Then he left in a flash
before it got late.


What a great night
I thought with a sigh.
That jolly old Santa
is a really nice guy.


As I cleared off the table
I heard with delight
"Shalom to you all,
and OY, what a night
25265  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Unemployment funds going broke on: December 22, 2009, 11:04:46 AM
Unemployment funds going broke

December 22, 2009 - 5:23am

WASHINGTON - Joblessness is becoming such a drain on state unemployment funds that 40 states will go broke within two years.


Those states need $90 billion in loans to keep issuing benefit checks, The Washington Post reports.

The projection comes from Department of Labor estimates.

Twenty five states have already run out of benefit money and had to borrow $24.2 billion from the government. Virginia is among those states.
The options may be to cut unemployment benefits or raise payroll taxes, something that industry and business groups oppose.

Experts say the problems have occurred because states failed to prepare for the economic downturn.
(Copyright 2009 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
__________________
25266  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Michael Yon in Afghanistan on: December 22, 2009, 10:43:40 AM
Have you checked out today's reports yet?
25267  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: December 22, 2009, 10:40:45 AM
It is as much "the lesser of two evils" as it is "the evil of two lessers".  Character, integrity, and fidelity to certain ideals are both necessary-- and lacking in both the Patricians and the Demogogues.  The point is not "to win", the point is to speak, to persuade, and to act on behalf of what one believes.  I believe in the American Creed of our Founding Fathers, in the Declaration of Independence, and in our Consitution.

I have no interest in Republicans who seek to out-slut the Dems in destroying our country.
25268  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Prager: The accelerating decline on: December 22, 2009, 10:34:07 AM
Democrats Ensure America Will No Longer Be the Last Best Hope of Earth
Dennis Prager
Tuesday, December 22, 2009

As the passage of the bill that will start the process of nationalizing health care in America becomes almost inevitable, so, too, the process of undoing America's standing as The Last Best Hope of Earth will have begun.

That description of America was not, as more than a few Americans on the left believe, made by some right-wing chauvinist. It was made by President Abraham Lincoln in an address to Congress on Dec. 1, 1862.

The bigger the American government becomes, the more like other countries America becomes. Even a Democrat has to acknowledge the simple logic: America cannot at the same time be the last best hope of earth and increasingly similar to more and more countries.

Either America is unique, in which case it at least has the possibility of uniquely embodying hopes for mankind -- or it is not unique, in which case it is by definition not capable of being the last best hope for humanity -- certainly no more so than, let us say, Sweden or the Netherlands.

Indeed, President Obama acknowledged this in April, when asked by a European reporter if he believes in American exceptionalism. The president's response: "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."

The president was honest. In his view, as in the view of today's Democratic party, America is special only in the same way we parents regard our children as "special." We all say it and we all believe it, but we know that it is meaningless except as an emotional expression of our love for our children. If every is child is equally special, none can be special, in fact. If every country is exceptional, then no country is exceptional, or at least no more so than any other.

With the largest expansion of the American government and state since the New Deal, the Democratic party -- alone -- is ending a key factor in America's uniqueness and greatness: individualism, which is made possible only when there is limited government.

The formula here is not rocket science: The more the government/state does, the less the individual does.

America's uniqueness and greatness has come from a number of sources, two of which are its moral and social value system, which is a unique combination of Enlightenment and Judeo-Christian values, and its emphasis on individual liberty and responsibility.

Just as the left has waged war on America's Judeo-Christian roots, it has waged war on individual liberty and responsibility.

Hillel, the most important rabbi of the Talmud (which, alongside the Hebrew Bible, is Judaism's most important book), summarized the human being's obligations in these famous words: "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?"

What does this mean in the present context? It means that before anything else, the human being must first take care of himself. When people who are capable of taking care of themselves start relying on the state to do so, they can easily become morally inferior beings. When people who could take care of their family start relying on the state to do so, they can easily become morally inferior. And when people who could help take care of fellow citizens start relying on the state to do so, the morally coarsening process continues.

There has always been something profoundly ennobling about American individualism and self-reliance. Nothing in life is as rewarding as leading a responsible life in which one has not to depend on others for sustenance. Little, if anything, in life is as rewarding as successfully taking care of oneself, one's family and one's community. That is why America has always had more voluntary associations than any other country.

But as the state and government have gotten bigger, voluntary associations have been dying. Why help others if the state will do it? Indeed, as in Scandinavia, the attitude gradually becomes: why even help myself when the state will do it?

Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are right about one thing -- they are indeed making history. But their legacy will not be what they think. They will be known as the people who led to the end of America as the last best hope of earth.

Lincoln weeps.

Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.
25269  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: States Rights on: December 22, 2009, 10:31:57 AM
My thoughts exactly.  My initial impression is that this seems like a genuine and soundly thought out idea with understanding of the underlying gestalt of our Constitution.
25270  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: People's Revolt? on: December 21, 2009, 09:29:11 PM
The foundation stones of Iran's Islamic Republic were shaken again yesterday, showing that the largest antigovernment movement in its 30 years may be one of the biggest stories of next year as well. Now imagine the possibilities if the Obama Administration began to support Iran's democrats.

The perseverance of the so-called Green Movement is something to behold. Millions of Iranians mobilized against the outcome of June's fraudulent presidential election, and their protests were violently repressed. But the cause has only grown in scope, with the aim of many becoming nothing less than the death of a hated system.

Yesterday offered a glimpse into the regime's crisis of legitimacy. As in the waning days of the Shah in the late 1970s, Iranians merely need an excuse to show what they think of their rulers. The funeral of a leading Shiite cleric who'd inspired and guided the opposition brought out tens to hundreds of thousands to Iran's religious capital of Qom. Media coverage is severely restricted, but the demonstration's size was impossible to deny.

View Full Image

Associated Press
 
Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri
.Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who died Sunday, was no ordinary religious figure. He stood alongside the leader of the Islamic Revolution, his mentor Ayatollah Khomeini, and he was handpicked to replace him. But Montazeri broke with the ruling mullahs in the late 1980s, criticizing their violence and repression. And in recent months, he became a spiritual leader to the opposition.

He knew the regime intimately: "A political system based on force, oppression, changing people's votes, killing, closure, arresting and using Stalinist and medieval torture, creating repression, censorship of newspapers, interruption of the means of mass communications, jailing the enlightened and the elite of society for false reasons, and forcing them to make false confessions in jail, is condemned and illegitimate," he wrote.

Ailing at his death, Montazeri leaves behind a legacy Iranian modernizers can build on. Like the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Iraq, he believed that the Shiite clergy should stay out of democratic politics. He also helped shape views on Iran's nuclear program. In October, Montazeri issued a fatwa against developing an Iranian bomb. His statement confirmed the view among Green Movement figures who believe an atomic weapon will only consolidate the regime's hold on power and isolate Iran.

OpinionJournal Related Stories:
Review & Outlook: Iranian Scorecard
Review & Outlook: The Disarmament President
Review & Outlook: 500,000 Centrifuges
.Absent religious legitimacy for the so-called Islamic Republic, the current rulers must rely on blunt means of preservation, such as the elite Revolutionary Guards and the Basiji militias. Thus Iran seems to be morphing into a military dictatorship, not unlike the Poland of Wojciech Jaruzelski after the "workers"—the supposed communist vanguard—turned against that regime.

Relying on thugs carries risks. During the summer protests, many protestors were killed, tortured and raped in the regime's jails. Among the dead is the son of a prominent conservative parliamentarian. Supreme leader Ali Khamenei sought to damp public outrage by closing the most notorious prison at Kahrizak, but pressure has continued to build. Reversing months of denials, the government on Saturday acknowledged the abuses, bringing charges against 12 military officials for the murder of three young protestors this summer.

Previously a neutral broker in Iranian politics, Khamenei undermined himself by siding so openly with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after June's elections. The decision to prosecute, which he would have had to sign off on, may be another miscalculation. A trial could help expose the corruption at the heart of this system.

(Another Polish parallel comes to mind: The 1984 trial of the secret policemen who murdered the pro-Solidarity priest, Father Jerzy Popieluszko, that further hurt that government's credibility.)

Which brings us to President Obama. Throughout this turbulent year in Iran, the White House has been behind the democratic curve. When the demonstrations started, Mr. Obama abdicated his moral authority by refusing to take sides, while pushing ahead with plans to negotiate a grand diplomatic bargain with Mr. Ahmadinejad that trades recognition for suspending the nuclear program.

Mr. Obama has since moved at least to embrace "universal values," and in his Nobel address this month he mentioned the democracy protestors by name. The White House yesterday sent condolences to Montazeri's friends and family, which is what passes for democratic daring in this Administration.

But the White House is also still pleading for talks even as its December deadline passes without any concession from Tehran. Meantime, the Iranian opposition virtually begs Washington not to confer any legitimacy on the regime, and the democracy demonstrators crave American support. Iran's civil society clock may now be ticking faster than its nuclear clock. However hard it may be to achieve, a new regime in Tehran offers the best peaceful way to halt Iran's atomic program. Shouldn't American policy be directed toward realizing that goal?
25271  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Dark Matter? on: December 21, 2009, 09:27:01 PM
By LAWRENCE KRAUSS
In early December, the Cold Dark Matter Search (CDMS) experiment located in the deep Soudan Mine in northern Minnesota leaked a tantalizing hint that they may have discovered something remarkable. The experiment is designed to directly detect new elementary particles that might make up the dark matter known to dominate our own Milky Way galaxy, all galaxies, and indeed all mass in the universe—so news of a possible breakthrough was thrilling.

The actual result? Two pulses were detected over the course of almost a year that might have been due to dark matter, CDMS announced on Dec. 17. However, there is a 25% chance that the pulses were actually caused by background radioactivity in and around the detector.

Physicists remain fascinated by the possibility that the events at CDMS, reported on the back pages of the world's newspapers, might nevertheless be real. If they are, they will represent the culmination of one of the most incredible detective stories in the history of science.

Beginning in the 1970s, evidence began to accumulate that there was much more mass out there than meets the eye. Scientists, mostly by observing the speed of rotation of our galaxy, estimated that there was perhaps 10 times as much dark matter as visible material.

At around the same time, independent computer calculations following the possible gravitational formation of galaxies supported this idea. The calculations suggested that only some new type of material that didn't interact as normal matter does could account for the structures we see.

Meanwhile, in the completely separate field of elementary particle physics, my colleagues and I had concluded that in order to understand what we see, it is quite likely that a host of new elementary particles may exist at a scale beyond what accelerators at the time could detect. This is one of the reasons there is such excitement about the new Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. Last month, it finally began to produce collisions, and it might eventually directly produce these new particles.

Theorists who had proposed the existence of such particles realized that they could have been produced during the earliest moments of the fiery Big Bang in numbers that could account for the inferred abundance of dark matter today. Moreover, these new particles would have exactly the properties needed for such material. They would interact so weakly with normal matter that they could go through the Earth without a single interaction.

Emboldened by all of these arguments, a brave set of experimentalists began to devise techniques by which they might observe such particles. This required building detectors deep underground, far from the reach of most cosmic rays that would overwhelm any sensitive detector, and in clean rooms with no radioactivity that could produce a false signal.

So when the physics community heard rumors that one of these experiments had detected something, we all waited with eager anticipation. A convincing observation would vindicate almost half a century of carefully developed, if fragile, arguments suggesting a whole new invisible world waiting to be discovered.

For the theorist working at his desk alone at night, it seems almost unfathomable that nature might actually obey the delicate theories you develop on pieces of paper. This is especially true when the theories involve ideas from so many different areas of science and require leaps of imagination.

Alas, to celebrate would be premature: The reported results are intriguing, but less than convincing. Yet if the two pulses observed last week in Minnesota are followed by more signals as bigger detectors turn on in the coming year or two, it will provide serious vindication of the power of human imagination. Combined with rigorous logical inference and technological wizardry—all the things that make science worth celebrating—scientists' creativity will have uncovered hidden worlds that a century ago could not have been conceived.

If, on the other hand, the events turn out to have been mere background radioactivity, physicists will not give up. It will only force us to be more clever and more energetic as we try to unravel nature's mysteries.

Mr. Krauss is director of the Origins Institute at Arizona State University, and a theoretical physicist who has been involved in the search for dark matter for 30 years. His newest book, "Quantum Man," will appear in 2010.
25272  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Proposed Amendment on: December 21, 2009, 09:23:21 PM
By DAVID B. RIVKIN JR. AND LEE A. CASEY
For nearly a hundred years, federal power has expanded at the expense of the states—to a point where the even the wages and hours of state employees are subject to federal control. Basic health and safety regulations that were long exercised by states under their "police power" are now dominated by Washington.

The courts have similarly distorted the Constitution by inventing new constitutional rights and failing to limit governmental power as provided for in the document. The aggrandizement of judicial power has been a particularly vexing challenge, since it is inherently incapable of correction through the normal political channels.

There is a way to deter further constitutional mischief from Congress and the federal courts, and restore some semblance of the proper federal-state balance. That is to give to states—and through them the people—a greater role in the constitutional amendment process.

The idea is simple, and is already being mooted in conservative legal circles. Today, only Congress can propose constitutional amendments—and Congress of course has little interest in proposing limits on its own power. Since the mid-19th century, no amendment has actually limited federal authority.

But what if a number of states, acting together, also could propose amendments? That has the potential to reinvigorate the states as a check on federal power. It could also return states to a more central policy-making role.

OpinionJournal Related Stories:
Randy Barnett: The Case for a Federalism Amendment
Clarence Thomas: How to Read the Constitution
.The Framers would have approved the idea of giving states a more direct role in the amendment process. They fully expected that the possibility of amendments originating with the states would deter federal aggrandizement, and provided in Article V that Congress must call a convention to consider amendments anytime two-thirds of the state legislatures demand it. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist Papers of this process: "[W]e may safely rely on the disposition of the state legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority."

What the Framers did not anticipate, however, was the profound reaction to their own "runaway" convention in 1787. By junking the Articles of Confederation in favor of a new Constitution, they gave us strong and stable government. They also showed exactly what constitutional conventions can do. As a result, no similar body has ever been assembled, and even suggesting a new convention can freeze the marrow in constitutional lawyers.

The answer is to amend the Constitution to permit two-thirds of the states to propose amendments directly. To do so, of course, means that the states would have to first call for a constitutional convention—at which they could propose such a change.

What about the risk of a runaway convention? We think that risk is very small. In the first place, the Constitution is not the Articles of Confederation, which were ratified only six years before they were replaced.

By contrast, the American people are profoundly attached to the Constitution. It cannot and will not be replaced by an amending convention. In any event, nothing proposed at such a convention—including a change to the current amendment process—could be adopted without three-fourths of the state legislatures agreeing.

Even to propose such a course might seem imprudent—but then again, the Framers of the U.S. Constitution never thought the balance of powers between states and the federal government would ever get so profoundly distorted. James Madison dismissed claims that the new federal government could displace the states as "chimerical fears," assuring his readers in The Federalist Papers that "[t]he powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite." Indeed, the Framers considered a "vertical" separation of powers—between federal and state authority—just as important as guaranteeing the success of liberty as the "horizontal" separation of powers between the president, Congress and the courts.

True enough, re-establishing a proper balance—where, as Madison wrote in The Federalist Papers, Washington is responsible "principally [for] external objects" and the states for "all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people"—will not be easy.

The gain will be substantial. Although it seems that permitting the states to propose amendments is a small thing, especially because ratification would still require three-fourths of the states to agree, it would shift the power calculus—and create a potential for action that the president, Congress and courts could never ignore as they consider the proper boundaries of their own authority.

Moreover, the effort to enable the states to check Washington's power would provide a constructive outlet for much of the growing anger—specially evident in phenomena such as the "tea party" movement—toward the political elites of both parties. It is not a partisan proposal and is difficult to oppose. The purpose is to move significant authority closer to the electorate, but in a measured, "conservative" manner that is in no sense "populist."

Opponents would have no fig leaf. They would have to openly argue that any effort to limit Washington's reach is a bad thing. And that is an argument they are likely to lose.

Messrs. Rivkin and Casey, Washington, D.C.-based attorneys, served in the Department of Justice during the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.
25273  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Change no one believes in on: December 21, 2009, 09:07:06 PM
From the WSJ today.   
 
Change Nobody Believes In
A bill so reckless that it has to be rammed through on a partisan vote on Christmas eve
And tidings of comfort and joy from Harry Reid too. The Senate Majority Leader has decided that the last few days before Christmas are the opportune moment for a narrow majority of Democrats to stuff ObamaCare through the Senate to meet an arbitrary White House deadline. Barring some extraordinary reversal, it now seems as if they have the 60 votes they need to jump off this cliff, with one-seventh of the economy in tow.
Mr. Obama promised a new era of transparent good government, yet on Saturday morning Mr. Reid threw out the 2,100-page bill that the world's greatest deliberative body spent just 17 days debating and replaced it with a new "manager's amendment" that was stapled together in covert partisan negotiations. Democrats are barely even bothering to pretend to care what's in it, not that any Senator had the chance to digest it in the 38 hours before the first cloture vote at 1 a.m. this morning. After procedural motions that allow for no amendments, the final vote could come at 9 p.m. on December 24.
Even in World War I there was a Christmas truce.
 
The rushed, secretive way that a bill this destructive and unpopular is being forced on the country shows that "reform" has devolved into the raw exercise of political power for the single purpose of permanently expanding the American entitlement state. An increasing roll of leaders in health care and business are looking on aghast at a bill that is so large and convoluted that no one can truly understand it, as Finance Chairman Max Baucus admitted on the floor last week. The only goal is to ram it into law while the political window is still open, and clean up the mess later.
***
• Health costs. From the outset, the White House's core claim was that reform would reduce health costs for individuals and businesses, and they're sticking to that story. "Anyone who says otherwise simply hasn't read the bills," Mr. Obama said over the weekend. This is so utterly disingenuous that we doubt the President really believes it.
The best and most rigorous cost analysis was recently released by the insurer WellPoint, which mined its actuarial data in various regional markets to model the Senate bill. WellPoint found that a healthy 25-year-old in Milwaukee buying coverage on the individual market will see his costs rise by 178%. A small business based in Richmond with eight employees in average health will see a 23% increase. Insurance costs for a 40-year-old family with two kids living in Indianapolis will pay 106% more. And on and on.
These increases are solely the result of ObamaCare—above and far beyond the status quo—because its strict restrictions on underwriting and risk-pooling would distort insurance markets. All but a handful of states have rejected regulations like "community rating" because they encourage younger and healthier buyers to wait until they need expensive care, increasing costs for everyone. Benefits and pricing will now be determined by politics.
 
As for the White House's line about cutting costs by eliminating supposed "waste," even Victor Fuchs, an eminent economist generally supportive of ObamaCare, warned last week that these political theories are overly simplistic. "The oft-heard promise 'we will find out what works and what does not' scarcely does justice to the complexity of medical practice," the Stanford professor wrote.
• Steep declines in choice and quality. This is all of a piece with the hubris of an Administration that thinks it can substitute government planning for market forces in determining where the $33 trillion the U.S. will spend on medicine over the next decade should go.
 
This centralized system means above all fewer choices; what works for the political class must work for everyone. With formerly private insurers converted into public utilities, for instance, they'll inevitably be banned from selling products like health savings accounts that encourage more cost-conscious decisions.
 
Unnoticed by the press corps, the Congressional Budget Office argued recently that the Senate bill would so "substantially reduce flexibility in terms of the types, prices, and number of private sellers of health insurance" that companies like WellPoint might need to "be considered part of the federal budget."
 
With so large a chunk of the economy and medical practice itself in Washington's hands, quality will decline. Ultimately, "our capacity to innovate and develop new therapies would suffer most of all," as Harvard Medical School Dean Jeffrey Flier recently wrote in our pages. Take the $2 billion annual tax—rising to $3 billion in 2018—that will be leveled against medical device makers, among the most innovative U.S. industries. Democrats believe that more advanced health technologies like MRI machines and drug-coated stents are driving costs too high, though patients and their physicians might disagree.
"The Senate isn't hearing those of us who are closest to the patient and work in the system every day," Brent Eastman, the chairman of the American College of Surgeons, said in a statement for his organization and 18 other speciality societies opposing ObamaCare. For no other reason than ideological animus, doctor-owned hospitals will face harsh new limits on their growth and who they're allowed to treat. Physician Hospitals of America says that ObamaCare will "destroy over 200 of America's best and safest hospitals."
 
• Blowing up the federal fisc. Even though Medicare's unfunded liabilities are already about 2.6 times larger than the entire U.S. economy in 2008, Democrats are crowing that ObamaCare will cost "only" $871 billion over the next decade while fantastically reducing the deficit by $132 billion, according to CBO.
 
Yet some 98% of the total cost comes after 2014—remind us why there must absolutely be a vote this week—and most of the taxes start in 2010. That includes the payroll tax increase for individuals earning more than $200,000 that rose to 0.9 from 0.5 percentage points in Mr. Reid's final machinations. Job creation, here we come.
 
Other deceptions include a new entitlement for long-term care that starts collecting premiums tomorrow but doesn't start paying benefits until late in the decade. But the worst is not accounting for a formula that automatically slashes Medicare payments to doctors by 21.5% next year and deeper after that. Everyone knows the payment cuts won't happen but they remain in the bill to make the cost look lower. The American Medical Association's priority was eliminating this "sustainable growth rate" but all they got in return for their year of ObamaCare cheerleading was a two-month patch snuck into the defense bill that passed over the weekend.
 
The truth is that no one really knows how much ObamaCare will cost because its assumptions on paper are so unrealistic. To hide the cost increases created by other parts of the bill and transfer them onto the federal balance sheet, the Senate sets up government-run "exchanges" that will subsidize insurance for those earning up to 400% of the poverty level, or $96,000 for a family of four in 2016. Supposedly they would only be offered to those whose employers don't provide insurance or work for small businesses.
As Eugene Steuerle of the left-leaning Urban Institute points out, this system would treat two workers with the same total compensation—whatever the mix of cash wages and benefits—very differently. Under the Senate bill, someone who earned $42,000 would get $5,749 from the current tax exclusion for employer-sponsored coverage but $12,750 in the exchange. A worker making $60,000 would get $8,310 in the exchanges but only $3,758 in the current system.
 
For this reason Mr. Steuerle concludes that the Senate bill is not just a new health system but also "a new welfare and tax system" that will warp the labor market. Given the incentives of these two-tier subsidies, employers with large numbers of lower-wage workers like Wal-Mart may well convert them into "contractors" or do more outsourcing. As more and more people flood into "free" health care, taxpayer costs will explode.
 
• Political intimidation. The experts who have pointed out such complications have been ignored or dismissed as "ideologues" by the White House. Those parts of the health-care industry that couldn't be bribed outright, like Big Pharma, were coerced into acceding to this agenda. The White House was able to, er, persuade the likes of the AMA and the hospital lobbies because the federal government will control 55% of total U.S. health spending under ObamaCare, according to the Administration's own Medicare actuaries
Others got hush money, namely Nebraska's Ben Nelson. Even liberal Governors have been howling for months about ObamaCare's unfunded spending mandates: Other budget priorities like education will be crowded out when about 21% of the U.S. population is on Medicaid, the joint state-federal program intended for the poor. Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman calculates that ObamaCare will result in $2.5 billion in new costs for his state that "will be passed on to citizens through direct or indirect taxes and fees," as he put it in a letter to his state's junior Senator.
 
So in addition to abortion restrictions, Mr. Nelson won the concession that Congress will pay for 100% of Nebraska Medicaid expansions into perpetuity. His capitulation ought to cost him his political career, but more to the point, what about the other states that don't have a Senator who's the 60th vote for ObamaCare?
***
"After a nearly century-long struggle we are on the cusp of making health-care reform a reality in the United States of America," Mr. Obama said on Saturday. He's forced to claim the mandate of "history" because he can't claim the mandate of voters. Some 51% of the public is now opposed, according to National Journal's composite of all health polling. The more people know about ObamaCare, the more unpopular it becomes.
 
The tragedy is that Mr. Obama inherited a consensus that the health-care status quo needs serious reform, and a popular President might have crafted a durable compromise that blended the best ideas from both parties. A more honest and more thoughtful approach might have even done some good. But as Mr. Obama suggested, the Democratic old guard sees this plan as the culmination of 20th-century liberalism.
So instead we have this vast expansion of federal control. Never in our memory has so unpopular a bill been on the verge of passing Congress, never has social and economic legislation of this magnitude been forced through on a purely partisan vote, and never has a party exhibited more sheer political willfulness that is reckless even for Washington or had more warning about the consequences of its actions.
 
These 60 Democrats are creating a future of epic increases in spending, taxes and command-and-control regulation, in which bureaucracy trumps innovation and transfer payments are more important than private investment and individual decisions. In short, the Obama Democrats have chosen change nobody believes in—outside of themselves—and when it passes America will be paying for it for decades to come.
 
Regards,
Larry N. Smith, M.D.
25274  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm) Training Camp Feb 6-7 on: December 21, 2009, 06:22:44 PM
Cindy is in full Christmas frenzy right now.    Not to worry, there are plenty of agreeable options-- the gym is in walking distance to the beach-- and Cindy will let you know of your options post Christmas frenzy.
25275  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Force Science News: Sleep and the Midnight Shift on: December 21, 2009, 01:20:20 PM
www.ForceScienceNews.com
 


   
Midnight shift and health risks: New study tells sobering truths

Officers who predominately work midnights are at greater risk of developing severe health problems than civilians and other cops, especially if they average more than about 90 minutes of overtime per week and have trouble sleeping.

This is established in a new study by an 8-member team of health experts, headed by Dr. John Violanti, a former state trooper and now a research associate professor at the State University of New York-Buffalo.

In an ongoing series of groundbreaking investigations, Violanti and cohorts have previously explored shift work and its relationship to suicidal thoughts and to problems of sleep quality. In one earlier study, they found that retired LEOs in general tend to die some 6 years sooner than other retired civic workers.

"The newest findings confirm one more way that policing endangers those who serve," says Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Research Center, which was not involved in the team's discoveries.

"Inescapably, some officers are forced to work undesirable hours, due to the 'round-the-clock nature of law enforcement. Now, knowing their special risks, it becomes all the more important for those on late shifts to rally their personal defenses against the potential assaults on their well-being."

Violanti agrees. "This is the first time that working officers have been examined from this particular perspective," he told Force Science News. "We hope these findings create an awareness of the importance of health education for police. Shift work is not going away. Officers need to learn how to adjust to it and come out alive."

The researchers' test group consisted of 61 male and 37 female volunteers randomly chosen from an eastern city with more than 900 sworn officers. Blood samples, blood pressure readings, and other pertinent data were collected from them at a medical clinic, and their shift assignments and overtime hours were confirmed from payroll records.

Day shift assignments were considered to be those that started between 4 AM and 11:59 AM; afternoon, starting between noon and 7:59 PM; and midnights beginning between 8 PM and 3:59 AM. The officers, who all worked 10-hour shifts, were categorized according to which shift they most often worked during the 5-year period preceding the study.

As a measurement of the officers' health risks, the researchers screened them for abdominal obesity (more than a 40.2-in. waistline in men, 34.6 inches in women); elevated triglycerides (above 150); reduced HDL ("good") cholesterol (less than 40 for men, less than 50 for women); glucose intolerance; and hypertension (blood pressure higher than 130/85).

A combination of any 3 of these "abnormalities" is said to constitute "metabolic syndrome," a condition that carries an increased risk of such health perils as stroke, cardiovascular disease, and Type 2 diabetes.

"In most individual categories, officers in the midnight-shift classification ranked the worst," one of the researchers, Dr. Bryan Vila, a member of the CJ faculty at Washington State University in Spokane, told FSN.

For example, 55% on midnights showed "elevated waist circumference," more than double the percentage found in the other 2 shifts. Half had sub-desirable levels of "good" cholesterol, compared to 30% on days and 44% on afternoons, and 25% had high blood pressure, compared to 15% on days and 9% on afternoons. (Figures are rounded here to avoid fractions.)

In measurement of triglycerides and glucose intolerance, midnight officers fared slightly better than their afternoon counterparts, but in no category were late-shift officers found to be in better shape than officers working days.

Over all, 30% of midnight officers had metabolic syndrome, versus 11% on days and about 15% on afternoon shifts.

"This is a very significant finding for a couple of reasons," Vila says. "First of all, studies of the general population have found that about 22% exhibit metabolic syndrome, and that includes sick people, old people, and others who might be expected to have a negative impact on the number. Cops at least have been screened for good overall physical and mental health when they joined the force.

"Besides that, officers in our study who worked midnights tended to be younger than those working days by an average of 6 years. You would expect younger officers to be less susceptible to the risk factors for serious diseases."

Midnight officers took additional hits when sleep and overtime were factored into the study.

The researchers report: "Officers who worked midnight shifts and [averaged] less than 6 hours sleep had a significantly higher mean number of metabolic syndrome components" than those who worked day and afternoon shifts. Indeed, their mean number of risk factors was more than 4 times that of day officers and more than 2 ? times that of those working afternoons.

Overtime, too, seems to impact midnight officers more negatively than those on other shifts. Among officers averaging more than 1..7 hours of overtime per week, those working midnights had a "significantly higher" mean number of metabolic syndrome factors--more than 4 times higher than day officers and more than twice the number for afternoon shifters.

The study notes in brief: "horter sleep duration and more overtime combined with midnight shift work may be important contributors to the metabolic syndrome."

The researchers did not attempt to document the specific causes of the link between midnights and health dangers, but Violanti and Vila offer observations about a couple of likely suspects: eating habits and sleep patterns.

On late shifts, officers may feel more dependent on restaurants and vending machines that "point them more toward candy, Cokes, coffee, donuts, and fast foods than toward nutritious meals," Vila explains. In short, Violanti notes, "Diet on the night shift basically stinks."

Plus, he says, "Endocrine function and body balance are disturbed by circadian [daily rhythm] disruption. Working nights, especially on a job that's highly stressful, can cause significant wear and tear on the body."

"Sleep times for officers on midnights tend to be outside the normal range," Vila explains, "so they customarily get not only less sleep but sleep of lesser quality." This produces fatigue and sets up a vicious cycle. Insufficient sleep causes hormonal changes that, in effect, make the body crave quick energy bursts. "This triggers an appetite for the kind of foods that result in weight gain, bad cholesterol, and strain on the organs that help you metabolize sugars. In turn, being overweight makes you more susceptible to sleep apnea and other problems that interfere with restorative sleep."

If midnight officers want assurance of nutritious meals while working, they can pack their own, making sure what they eat is low in processed sugar and high in complex carbohydrates, he suggests.

"You'll sleep better," he says, "if you end vigorous physical activity 2 or more hours before you want to sleep. Minimize your caffeine consumption the last 4 hours of your shift, because it takes about 6 hours to diminish caffeine in the blood to a level where it won't interfere with sleep. And don't eat a big meal just before bedtime." Darkening the room when you have to sleep during daylight hours also helps.

"Make an agreement with your family that sleep for you is an important priority," Violanti suggests, so they can help minimize disturbances.

If you have persistent sleep problems, arrange to be screened for sleep disorders. "More than 40% of cops have serious sleep disorders, and these can usually be treated," Vila says. On the website of the nonprofit National Sleep Foundation [www.sleepfoundation.org] you can locate a sleep professional near you, as well as access helpful tips on better sleeping, books on the subject, and sleep aids.

Lewinski notes that the National Institutes of Health recommend the following for preventing or managing metabolic syndrome:

• Eating a diet low in fat, with a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain products
• Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise almost every day
• Losing weight so that your body mass index is less than 25
• Controlling blood pressure and blood sugar
• Not smoking
• Including fish, preferably oily fish, in your diet at least twice a week.

Violanti would like to see law enforcement agencies provide training on diet and sleep, but he points out that "in the end, we are responsible for our own health. We can't depend on an organization to take care of us. Taking our own simple steps to improve lifestyle--eating better, sleeping better, exercising--is the best way to deal with this problem."

With the new metabolic study serving as a baseline, Violanti and his team are planning longer-term monitoring of 460 officers to see if continued exposure to midnight service makes results worse and, hopefully, to pinpoint specific causes of related health problems.

Meanwhile, Vila says, more than a dozen research papers are in development as a part of Violanti's broad-based studies. "We are trying to look one piece at a time at why police work is such an unhealthy profession and what can be done about that."

As more becomes known, Force Science News will keep you updated.

Meanwhile, our strategic partner PoliceOne.com this week posted a news article you may find interesting, concerning a Maryland officer who is suing his county for compensation for heart problems that he claims arose because of his police service.

According to this report, "Maryland law presumes that if public safety officials develop heart diseases, then it was their jobs that caused it and the officials should be eligible for worker's compensation claims, regardless of other possible contributing factors like obesity, smoking habits, and family medical history."

Click here to check it out.

A full report on the newest study, "Atypical Work Hours and Metabolic Syndrome Among Police Officers," appears in the journal Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health, vol. 64, #3, 2009 and is available online for a fee. Click here to go to the report.
 
25276  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Global Police on: December 21, 2009, 12:37:01 PM
Interpol and U.N. Back ‘Global Policing Doctrine’

By DOREEN CARVAJAL
Published: October 11, 2009
http://www10.nytimes.com/2009/10/12/...rpol.html?_r=5


PARIS — Interpol and the United Nations are poised to become partners in fighting crime by jointly grooming a global police force that would be deployed as peacekeepers among rogue nations riven by war and organized crime, officials from both organizations say.

On Monday, justice and foreign ministers from more than 60 countries, including the United States and China, are gathering in Singapore for a meeting hosted by the two international organizations.

It is the first step toward creating what Interpol calls a “global policing doctrine” that would enable Interpol and the United Nations to improve the skills of police peacekeepers, largely by sharing a secure communications network and a vast electronic trove of criminal information, including DNA records, fingerprints, photographs and fugitive notices.

“We have a visionary model,” said Ronald K. Noble, secretary general of Interpol and the first American to head the international police organization, which is based in Lyon. More than 187 member nations finance the organization.

“The police will be trained and equipped differently with resources,” Mr. Noble said. “When they stop someone, they will be consulting global databases to determine who they are stopping.”

Modern peacekeeping has evolved dramatically since the blue-helmeted U.N. military force won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1988. Since 2005, the number of police officers within the total force of 95,400 peacekeepers has more than doubled from about 6,000 to 12,200 in 17 countries.

U.N. police are already battling kidnappings and drug crime in Haiti and illicit lumber trading in Liberia. The aim of the joint effort is to increase the ability to track the movement of criminals around the world by sharing resources and common standards, according to Mr. Noble. He is also pressing ahead with plans for special electronic passports for the agency’s staff of more than 600 Interpol investigators to speed border crossings.

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is contributing more than $2 million to finance the development of international global policing standards, according to Andrew Hughes, an Australian who currently heads the U.N.’s force of police officers.

The ambition is to create a series of networks to counter borderless organized criminal operations, Mr. Hughes said. Women, in particular, are being recruited, with a goal of reaching 20 percent of the U.N. force and the development of all-female units like the group of 140 peacekeepers from Bangladesh that is about to be deployed.

“We’re working with refugees,” Mr. Hughes said. “Many of the victims of atrocities are women, and they’ve had enough of men with guns and uniforms.”

He said that among the most critical tasks for a global police force were combating illegal arms and drug trafficking. His own officers in West Africa have watched the growth of cocaine smuggling by Colombian and Venezuelan drug cartels through weakened countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia to the lucrative consumer markets in Europe.

The United States remains the biggest market for cocaine, according to the U.N.’s annual report on drugs and crime. But in the past three years, South American cartels have moved more drugs to Europe using transit points like Guinea Bissau, where the president and the head of the military were killed in sophisticated bombing attacks in March. Each year, at least 50 tons of cocaine from Andean countries passes through West Africa to the streets of Europe, where the drugs are worth almost $2 billion, according to the U.N. report.

“Organized crime is a business that looks for opportunity to expand their market enterprise,” Mr. Hughes said. “When you have a breakdown in police and courts and corrections, organized crime is ripe. We also see the toxic effect of corruption, because they are able to corrupt officials, which makes it difficult to build a functioning society.”

In Afghanistan, where heroin and hashish trafficking is also a thorny issue, NATO announced plans this month to start training the local police — a move it has avoided in the past to concentrate on military responsibilities.

But Mr. Noble of Interpol says he takes a dim view of transforming warriors into beat cops, because the mind-sets are so different.

“We caution on making the delegation of civil police development tasks to military structures,” Mr. Noble said, citing the example of an attack that freed hundreds of Taliban from a prison in Kandahar, Afghanistan, last year. Although Interpol immediately asked for information about the missing prisoners, he said, “we were really shocked and dismayed to learn there were no fingerprints and photographs despite billions spent to train police there.”

With the meeting of justice ministers on Monday, which coincides with a general assembly of Interpol police members, the group is expected to debate the global police issue and to craft a declaration that would lead to an action plan for international police peacekeeping within 12 months.
25277  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Looking for fighters for stickfighting TV series on: December 21, 2009, 09:52:21 AM
Should we get to that point, the job is yours grin
25278  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: December 21, 2009, 09:51:31 AM
I certainly suspect so, but if anyone wants to continue the conversation, please take it over to the relevant thread.
25279  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Twas the night on: December 20, 2009, 06:53:14 PM
Twas the night before Christmas

By "Dangerous" Dave Workman

`Twas the night before Christmas, cold, dark and foreboding,
As I sat at the work bench, quite busy reloading.
The empties from autumn were polished so clear
For primers and powder, and bullets from Speer

And Hornady softpoints, and Nosler's Partitions
(MY bench ain't no place for brand name omissions!)
All sat in their boxes, right next to the press
With dies from Pacific, and RCBS

When all of a sudden there came such a jolt,
I grabbed for my Mossberg, and whipped out my Colt.
As I spilled Hodgdon's powder all over the shelf
I scrambled for cover, just to protect myself

From up on the rooftop, came hoofbeats and snorting
Like the noise out of L'il Rock, from Clinton's cavorting!
I eased off the safety, to press-check my auto
With 230-hardball, I'd knock 'em all blotto

Were these rogue federal agents, sent by Schumer and Reno?
Or a staggering Ted Kennedy, in bad need of Beano?
My question was answered with a knock, and some sneezing,
"It's Santa, you moron, lemme in, I'm freezing!"

I flipped off the dead-bolt and threw the door wide,
To find St. Nick a'shivering, Rudolph by his side
He eyeballed my Springfield, with a nod of approval
"You're all set," he said, "for dirtball removal."

"But this is no raid, we're not here to harm you
Or persecute, prosecute or even disarm you"
Instead, said dear Santa, he needed to borrow
My .357, 'till day after tomorrow

"It's okay," he assured me, with a hint of frustration.
"I'm enrolled in the National Rifle Association"
He showed me his card, 'twas a Life Member rating
"I've had this since me and the missus were dating!"

"And you see, Dave ol' buddy, I've gotten real nervous
"Since Feinstein was elected, with a promise to serve us
"So henceforth as I'm out there, my presents a'stackin'
"I want to assure you, I'm legally packin'

"And my gift for you this year, should give you a hoot
"I've told the Supreme Court to give Brady the boot!
"Now, Rudy and I must be on our way"
He said, as he climbed back on the seat of his sleigh

With the reins in his hand, and my Smith in his pocket
He jingled the sleighbells and was off like a rocket
With a pair of speedloaders, and ammo to spare
I knew he'd be safe, he was loaded for bear

As he faded from view, I could still hear him calling
"From D.C., where 'P.C.' is already falling
"To bad guys in L.A., Detroit and Atlanta
"I'm licensed to carry. Don't be messin' with Santa!"


. . . and then, The Sequel . . .

'Twas the day after Christmas when Santa returned
He was looking quite happy, all trim and sunburned
His sleigh had been emptied, and I'll bet you're all
guessin'
If he did the same thing to his borrowed Smith & Wesson

Well the fact of the matter is in need of reporting,
Like the press oughta do about Clinton's cavorting!
Seems Santa encountered some trouble 'long the way,
'Cause some not-too-bright dirtbags tried to hijack his sleigh

When he left Christmas Eve, he was ready for action
And he made real good time, thanks to reindeer hoof traction
He had rag dolls, and capguns, baseballs and bats.
New dresses, toy airplanes, and a few dogs and cats.

Seems these wannabe grinches thought they were hot shooters
So's a bunch of 'em tried to be Christmas gift looters
But the one thing they hadn't expected to meet
Was a licensed St. Nick, packin' full magnum heat.

The night was still young, when these dipwits appeared
Their caps all turned backwards; at least one had a beard.
They were trying to look vicious, as they stood in his path
He could tell in an instant that they needed a bath

One fool made a grab for Comet and Cupid,
But froze when St. Nick had yelled "Hold it, there, stupid!"
When he leveled my sixgun at this crazy-eyed fellow
The snow at his feet turned a pale shade of yellow

"It was over real quick," Santa said with a chuckle
As he hauled out my Smith from behind his belt buckle
"Never fired a shot, never pulled back the hammer
"Got the cops on my cell phone, and sent 'em all to the slammer"

After that much excitement, 'twas a rest Santa needed
So with his gift-giving, he quickly proceeded
And when he was finished, Santa issued this order:
"Rudolph, old pal, take us south of the border!"

So now he was rested, and this stop was his last one
And he made it real clear, that it must be a fast one
With my piece back in lockup, he said "Thanks for the loan
"Next year, rest assured, I'll be packin' my own"

And just what, did I wonder, might then Santa unlimber?
A Colt, Sig or Taurus, a Glock or a Kimber?
Perhaps Heckler & Koch, a Kahr or a Ruger?
A wheelgun from Rossi, a Walther or Luger?

"I'm not sure," replied Santa, as he scoped out the weather,
"But I'll contact your buddy, Mitch Rosen, for leather.
"And now, I must leave you, until late next December
"But Dave, I assure you, I will always remember

"You did me a favor, and that's one I owe you
"So when I get my own gat, I'll be certain to show you
"In the meantime, ol' buddy, I'll scream it, I'll shout it
"If you're licensed to carry, don't you leave home without it!"

Dave Workman
Senior Editor
GUN WEEK
25280  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Work will set you free on: December 20, 2009, 09:30:28 AM


http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/auschwitz-arbeit-macht-frei-sign-stolen-1844856.html
25281  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Support our troops on: December 20, 2009, 08:49:39 AM
I awoke this Saturday morning at PT time (0430), and looked at my surroundings.  The worst winter storm in DC for a number of years had arrived in force.  Snow, and lots of it.  Roads are closed, planes are grounded, and people are huddled comfortably inside their homes or foolishly out trying to learn how to drive in snow.

Rather than roll over, I put some warm clothes on, leashed the dogs, and out we went for some exercise and introspection. As I walked, I was trying to imagine being in those winter camps and fights so long ago.
I thought of Washington's Christmas raid at Trenton, and his last, lonely winter camp.  I thought of the soldiers at Fort Niagara. I thought of the bitter cold of the Argonne, the Huertgen Forest and Bastogne, the Aleutians, the Chosin Reservoir, the Sava River, and Tora Bora.

As I thought of those heroes of our past, those legendary Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen that we regularly honor and pay tribute to, I thought of those quiet professionals in current fights that we don't speak of often enough.

Look around on any forward operating base or outpost in Afghanistan, the Philippines or Iraq.  Watch the Soldiers passing through our airports coming home on or returning from R&R.  Listen to speeches during a deployment or redployment ceremony.  Stand silently and render honors to one of our fallen (something which is hardly more sincere than on Disney Road and at that airfield!).

Modern American heroes (not our over-indulged athletes or actors) are hardly given their due.  They walked or still pass quietly among us, never seeking acknowledgement or fame, but simply doing their duty as they have sworn oaths to do.  We already know some of their names:

- Smith, Murphy, Monsoor, Dunham, McGinnis - Medal of Honor;
- Hollenbaugh, Cooper, Nein, Sanford, Coffman - Distinguished Service Cross;
- Hester, Birch, Roundtree, Kandarian, LaFrenz - Silver Star;
- Kopp, Shumney, Kuban, DeLeon, Gentry - Bronze Star for Valor;
- Biggs, Carbone, Turecheck, Rushing, Berwald - Army Commendation for Valor.

And, I submit, for every warrior we acknowledge in a ceremony, there are a hundred or a thousand more who are never acknowledged for the difference they make every day.

So as I finished my peaceful walk in the snow, I thought of the Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors that are carrying the fight away from home so that I could have this walk in peace, and I am forever grateful.  I thought of those in MRAPs slowly searching roadways for hidden dangers, others working with local police to secure a village, and yet others moving quietly and quickly to eliminate or capture a hidden enemy, and I am filled with pride.

Wherever you are, and whatever you do or did to continue to guarantee my safety and freedom, I thank each of you in, headed to, returning from, or supporting the fight.  You are my heroes, and I thank you.

CSM Jeff Mellinger
25282  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Michael Yon in Afghanistan on: December 20, 2009, 08:45:36 AM
Michael now does much of his reporting via Facebook.

http://www.facebook.com/MichaelYonFanPage
25283  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DLO in Afg. on: December 20, 2009, 08:42:17 AM
"DLO came in handy in Afghanland... Love you Guro Crafty. I've had a lot going on lately. Sorry I haven't been able to fill you in but I'll fill you in soon."

"Naturally I am bursting with curiousity about DLO coming in handy! , , ,"

"short version... the whole thing took about 10 seconds anyway... dogcatcher w/headbutt vs. improvised beer bottle blade heading my direction = awesome!!! ninja takedown moves... sweet. but i ended up between a fence on my right and a vehicle on my left and on my back with an angry samoan contractor on top of me w/an iron grip around my throat ... See Moreand and a fist bashing my face (bad position for me) so i felt the urgent need to draw my blade (benchmade auto). i figured that the top of the head is the least lethal option (didn't want to kill the guy since he wasn't really a bad guy (terrorist asshole) and we're good friends now. the end"
25284  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lockerbie bomber release on: December 20, 2009, 08:34:49 AM
from Foxnews.com

Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxnews
Mystery surrounded the Lockerbie bomber Tuesday after he could not be reached at his home or hospital in Libya.
Libyan officials could say nothing about the whereabouts of Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, and his Scottish monitors could not contact him by telephone. They will try again to speak to him today but if they fail to reach him, the Scottish government could face a new crisis.

Under the terms of his release from jail, the bomber cannot change his address or leave Tripoli, and must keep in regular communication with East Renfrewshire Council.

Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic and relatives of the 270 people who died in the 1988 bombing expressed anger about al-Megrahi’s disappearance. Richard Baker, Labour's justice spokesman in the Scottish Parliament, said the whole affair was turning into a shambles and putting Scotland's reputation at risk. "This flags up just how ludicrous it is that East Renfrewshire Council, a local council thousands of miles away from Libya, is responsible for supervising al-Megrahi’s conditions of licence," he said.

Eliot Engel, a New York congressman, said: "I think it was a tremendous mistake to let him out in the first place. I don’t think a convicted terrorist has any integrity to abide by any type of agreement."

Relatives of the victims were furious in August when Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Secretary, released al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds because he was expected to die of prostate cancer within three months.


==============
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,580349,00.html


Quote:
Local authority staff from the East Renfrewshire Council had been concerned after attempts to contact Abdel Baset al-Megrahi failed yesterday.

There were also reports that mystery surrounded the bomber's whereabouts after he could not be contacted either at his home or in hospital.

Earlier this year Megrahi, who has prostate cancer, was granted compassionate release from the life sentence he was serving in a Scottish jail.

Criminal justice social work staff from the council are charged with monitoring him, and usually call Megrahi in Tripoli every two weeks.

They had not been scheduled to contact Megrahi this week but they tried to contact him yesterday after The Times of London had been unable to speak to the bomber.

Those attempts failed but today council staff were able to speak to him. 


===========
Lockerbie Bomber Had Secret Swiss Bank Account

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,580666,00.html

The Lockerbie bomber had £1.8m ($2.9 million USD) in a Swiss bank account when he was convicted eight years ago, it has been revealed.

The Crown Office, Scotland’s equivalent of the Crown Prosecution Service, has confirmed it refused to grant bail to Abdel Baset al-Megrahi as recently as November last year because of concerns he might try to gain access to the money.

The existence of such a large sum in a personal account casts doubt on claims by the Libyan government that Megrahi was a low-ranking airline worker.

The disclosure also raises further questions about the wisdom of the Scottish government in releasing the bomber, who has terminal prostate cancer, on compassionate grounds in August.

Sources close to Megrahi’s defense team said they were aware of the bank account and had several explanations prepared ahead of his trial in the Netherlands in 2000.
25285  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: December 20, 2009, 07:54:36 AM
I fear even with a major Tea Party type of a groundswell in the coming elections, deep lasting damage has been done.  Without such a groundswell, I fear we ARE done.
================
An e-conversation amongst some friends:

Crocodile Tears For Primary Care
The Top 10 Most Overblown Health Stories of the Past Decade
By Richard N. Fogoros, M.D., About.com Guide

Updated December 08, 2009

About.com Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by our Medical Review Board

 

We are in the midst of a contentious debate over the future of our healthcare system, in which the opposing parties find almost nothing in common. But there is one thing everybody agrees upon - Republicans and Democrats, Keynsians and Reaganites, Buckeyes and Wolverines alike. Namely, robust primary care medicine is the backbone of healthcare, and whatever else we may end up doing, we need to re-invigorate primary care and restore it to the position of central importance it deserves.

To the notion that primary care medicine is vitally important to American patients, DrRich says hooray. To the notion that anyone with authority in our healthcare system actually wants to fix primary care, however, DrRich says hooey.
The fact of the matter is that in recent years, our healthcare system has taken exquisite pains to make primary care a completely untenable proposition for American doctors. Consider the plight of the modern primary care physician (PCP):

 

Their pay is determined arbitrarily by Acts of Congress, not by what they’re worth to their patients or to the market, and indeed in this way PCPs have a lot in common with workers in the old Soviet collectives.
They are directed to “practice medicine” by guidelines handed down from on high; guidelines which, being forcibly based on what is called “evidence-based medicine,” necessarily address the average response of some large group of patients to the treatment being considered and do not allow much if any latitude for an individual patient’s needs; and which are often promulgated less to assure the excellent care of patients than to further the agenda of various interest groups, professional, governmental and otherwise.
They are limited to 7.5 minutes per "patient encounter," and the content of those 7.5 minutes is scripted in advance by Pay for Performance checklists, strictly limiting any exchanges between doctor and patient that do not meet the approved agenda.
Their every move must be carefully documented according to incomprehensible rules, on innumerable forms and documents, that confound patient care but that greatly further the convenience of healthcare accountants and other stone-witted bureaucrats.
They are expected to operate flawlessly under a system of federal rules, regulations and guidelines that cover hundreds of thousands of pages distributed in countless volumes that are never available in any readily accessible form, and if they fail to do so, they are guilty of the federal crime of healthcare fraud. Furthermore, the specific meanings of these rules, regulations and guidelines are not merely opaque and difficult to ascertain, but indeed they are fundamentally indeterminate. So, PCPs operate under a massive quantum cloud of rules as best they can, but their actual status (regarding healthcare fraud) is, like Schrodinger’s cat, fundamentally unknowable - until the “box is opened” (typically through criminal prosecution), whereupon the meaning of the rules is finally crystallized in a court of law, and doctors who had been practicing in good faith find that they have at least a 50- 50 chance (like the cat) of learning that they are actually professionally dead.
Worst of all, PCPs have been charged with the duty of covertly rationing their patients’ healthcare at the bedside, and they have been pressed to nullify the classic doctor-patient relationship, by the healthcare bureaucracy that determines their professional viability, by the United States Supreme Court, and by the bankrupt, new-age ethical precepts of their own profession.

The healthcare system has (intentionally, DrRich argues) rendered primary care medicine such a soul-wrenching, personally and professionally demeaning endeavor that it has pushed most PCPs beyond mere anger, frustration, or resignation. Most American PCPs over the age of 50 with any measurable degree of self-respect are desperately looking for a way to retire early, and the ones under 50 are looking for some feasible way to change careers. Current medical trainees have learned to avoid primary care in droves.

The idea that the central authorities of healthcare are going to cede back to PCPs any degree of professionalism or independent thought - when strictly controlling the behavior of PCPs is Job One in their effort to reduce costs, and when they've worked so hard to put the PCPs where they've now got them - is laughable.

 

The plan, DrRich believes, is to give PCPs a few perks - a small increase in their paltry pay, for instance - to entice them to not to quit just yet, while they "train up" a new class of professionals who eventually will take over the job of primary care from the physicians, and who (they think) will be more malleable and controllable than physicians ever could be. At the moment, nurse practitioners have been identified as a likely PCP replacement.

 

Indeed, the House healthcare reform bill (HR 3692, Section 1303) specifically enumerates nurse practitioners as members of the category "PCPs" (a term now defined as "primary care practitioner," and not "primary care physician"). So soon, nurses will be, by law, functionally equivalent to doctors practicing primary care.

 

DrRich happens to greatly admire nurses, counts some of them among the finest healthcare professionals he has known, and believes that nurses' commitment to doing what's best for patients is at least equivalent to physicians'. Furthermore, he is convinced that nurses can function just fine as primary care practitioners, as the central authorities have now fashioned that profession. To the degree that nurses will chafe less than doctors at the forced restrictions, they may even function better.

 

Indeed, DrRich's respect for nurses is so great that he predicts most of them will forego the opportunity to become PCPs for the same reason doctors are - doing this job as it is now laid out, they will find, is an insult to their professional integrity.

But whether the central planners' vision comes to pass or not, DrRich finds their current lamentations for the plight of PCPs (a plight they engineered) to be just a tad disingenuous, and certainly overblown.
 


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  ==============================

  I was talking to a urologist from an academic center in St. Louis whose wife is an internist.  He stated that his wife made $90000 and his wife's NP made $95000 and that the only way that most of the primary care physicians get by in the academic centers is by being the spouse of the specialty physicians.  One of the many problems with our system is that instead of insuring that everyone has access to a minimum level of care, at least for the Medicare population, the make sure that no one has access to the maximum level of care.  For a physician to accept Medicare payments as a non-participating physician, they are limited to billing 115% of the Medicare fee schedule, which makes it hardly worth the trouble and added financial risk that the payment from Medicare which will go to the patient in that situation doesn't get passed back to the physician but covers some other essential needs for the patient like cigarettes and cellphone service.  In order to completely break from the Medicare system and work on a cash basis, a physician cannot even see Medicare patients for 2 years.  The bar is set so high for withdrawal that it is difficult to make a living while you are waiting for the 2 years to pass.  You also have to have a fairly well to do clientele to make that scheme work.  The free market has been stripped from the healthcare system.  You can be the very best of your specialty but get paid no more than some slub who barely made it out of training.

John
=====================
"""The free market has been stripped from the healthcare system"""
 
Healthcare has been surviving - for decades - under a price control regime.  Government pricing of medical services is hiding under the pretense of being based on a "scientific" approach, but that's bullsh*t.  In reality it's arbitrary, decided by a few bureaucrats sitting on a committee.  Over time this, of course, resulted in huge dislocations.
 
Real reform would be a combination of tort reform (which would be a good first step in a fight against the culture of defensive medicine), AND massive deregulation.  Instead, we are due for even more pervasive regulation.
 
As far as Primary Care is concerned, I think that over the next few years we will experience a shortage which will be severe beyond anyone's expectations.  Think about it -- Traditionally, aging Docs would continue working in their practice well into their 60's, 70's and even 80's.  They would slow down, work part time, fewer hours, BUT - they would continue working.  The way things stand today, it is hard to make a living in private practice even when one works full blast.  Forget about part time low volume work.  All those older baby boomer docs will have no choice but to retire - in large numbers.       
 
The way things are going, I wouldn't be surprised if the government will use the shortages as an exuse for a total takeover.  Collectivist solutions appear to be shockingly acceptable and even popular... these days.
 
Ol' Fred Hayek must be turning in his grave.
================

"The free market has been stripped from the healthcare system."


I am sure there exist individual exceptions, many here included, but doctors have no one to blame but themselves for this turn of affairs. Really, if true, it could not happen to a more deserving profession. Their greed, insensitivity, and rude and imperious treatment of their patients (read: customers) begged to be countered.


And now it has, or is. Good.

=============
The Anti Nationalized Health Care Resource
The problem with the U.S. Health Care system is a combination of third party payments, government regulations and an artificial limited supply of doctors. Since the average person does not directly pay for their health care they do not care about the costs. Medical insurance encourages unnecessary procedures and waste due to the illusion of it being "free" via a co-pay. In a true free market, direct price competition would drive down prices and encourage others to enter the market, further reducing costs. The problem is government regulation and organizations such as the AMA (American Medical Association) have created an artificial scarcity of doctors, limiting the supply. This is done by limiting the number of medical schools, medical licenses and increasing requirements. Thus the excessive demand cannot be met by normal market forces. Most people are well aware that a limited supply of a good or service increases it's value (cost). Few are aware that attempting to restrict a good or service's price (price controls) limits it's supply causing shortages. It is thus impossible for government controls to either increase the supply of medical care or lower it's price. Government can only "fix" the U.S. health care system by getting out of the way.


===========
D.

   If that is truly the way you feel then you must have had some bad doctors, but one of the reasons that physicians are in the place they are in is because they generally are not greedy and are sensitive to their patient's needs.  We have been more interested in our patient's welfare than the economics of medicine.  One of the dilemma's in my practice is whether to continue seeing Medicaid and Indigent patients in our office.  We have always done so  because there was enough fat in the system to soften the blow even though we knew we were taking a loss, but if the Medicare cuts come through then we will probably have to stop seeing those patients.  We are the only game in town and they will have to travel 50 miles to the state hospital for care even though they as a group are the least likely to be able to afford transportation.  In my experience, at least in my town, the rude, greedy, insensitive physician is the exception as opposed to the rule.  I am sorry that you have become so jaded against my profession.

J.
25286  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Kali Tudo Working Examples on: December 20, 2009, 07:43:40 AM
I was rewatching Rua vs. Machida yesterday and saw Rua use the same Zirconia type punch he used to knock out Chuck Liddell.  Here too it was more of a hook than a jab and here too he did not cut the corner to complete the diamond, but I do submit is as an example of the underlying principle.
25287  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: December 20, 2009, 07:40:34 AM
Grateful for a chance.
25288  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Looking for fighters for stickfighting TV series on: December 20, 2009, 07:39:40 AM
At the moment it looks like this thing may not be dead afterall , , , The Adventure continues!!!
25289  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Where's our spine? on: December 18, 2009, 02:34:49 PM
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. Text  .In his Inaugural address, President Obama promised the world's dictators—with Iran plainly in mind—that he would "extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." Here's a status report on the mullahs' knuckles:

• Weapons of mass destruction. On Wednesday, Iran tested a new version of its Sajjil-2 medium-range ballistic missile, a sophisticated solid-fuel model with a range of 1,200 miles—enough to target parts of Eastern Europe.

Also this week came news that Western intelligence agencies have an undated Farsi-language document titled "outlook for special neutron-related activities over the next four years." It concerns technical aspects of a neutron initiator, which is used to set off nuclear explosions and has no other practical application. The document remains unauthenticated, and Iran denies working on a nuclear weapon. But it squares with accumulating evidence, from the International Atomic Energy Agency and other sources, that Iran continues to pursue nuclear weapons design and uranium enrichment.

• Support for terrorists. Iran also continues to supply Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon with weapons and money, and there's reason to suspect the help extends to Colombia's terrorist FARC. Centcom Commander David Petraeus told ABC News Wednesday that Iran "provides a modest level of equipment, explosives and perhaps some funding to the Taliban in western Afghanistan." As for Iraq, he says, "there are daily attacks with the so-called signature weapons only made by Iran—the explosively formed projectile, forms of improvised explosive devices, etc."

• Political gestures. Isolated regimes sometimes signal their desire for better relations through seemingly small gestures: ping-pong tournaments, for instance. Tehran has taken a different tack.

On Monday, it announced that three American hikers arrested along its border with Iraq in July would be put on trial. The charge? "Suspicious aims." New charges were also brought last month against Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh, who was already sentenced to at least 12 years in prison on espionage charges. The regime has been going after other foreign nationals, including French teacher Clotilde Reiss, who is living under house arrest in the French embassy in Tehran. Christopher Dickey notes in Newsweek that "since [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad took over four years ago, some 35 foreign nationals or dual nationals have been imprisoned for use as chump change in one sordid deal or another."

View Full Image

Associated Press
 
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
.• Diplomacy. In October, the U.S. and its allies offered to enrich Iran's uranium in facilities outside the country, supposedly for the production of medical isotopes. The idea was that doing so would at least reduce Iran's growing stockpile of uranium and thus postpone the day when it would have enough to rapidly build a bomb.

Tehran finally came back with a counterproposal late last week, in which no uranium would leave Iranian soil. Even Hillary Clinton admits it's a nonstarter: "I don't think anyone can doubt that our outreach has produced very little in terms of any kind of positive response from the Iranians," the Secretary of State told reporters.

Given those remarks, we would have imagined that Mrs. Clinton would take it as good news that on Tuesday the House voted 412-12 in favor of a new round of unilateral sanctions on Iran. The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act would forbid any company that does energy business with Iran from having access to U.S. markets.

Instead, last week Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg wrote to Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry urging that the Senate postpone taking up the House bill. "I am concerned that this legislation, in its current form, might weaken rather than strengthen international unity and support for our efforts," wrote Mr. Steinberg.

So let's see: Iran spurns every overture from the U.S. and continues to develop WMD while abusing its neighbors. In response, the Administration, which had set a December deadline for diplomacy, now says it opposes precisely the kind of sanctions it once promised to impose if Iran didn't come clean, never mind overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. For an explanation of why Iran's behavior remains unchanged, look no further.
25290  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 17, 2009, 06:11:49 PM
Second post

NOTE the UAV capability upgrades:  "By next spring, a single pod on a UAV could track 13 separate people as they leave a meeting place. The capability will expand to 65 people by 2012 and eventually to perhaps as many as 150 image feeds from a single UAV combat air patrol."



Black UAV Performs In Afghanistan
Dec 11, 2009

David A. Fulghum and Bill Sweetman
The U.S. has been flying a classified, stealthy, remotely piloted aircraft in Afghanistan. That single fact reveals the continued development of low-observable UAVs, hidden aspects of the surveillance buildup in Afghanistan, the footprint of an active “black aircraft world” that stretches to Southwest Asia, and links into the Pentagon’s next-generation recce bomber.

The mystery aircraft—once referred to as the Beast of Kandahar and now identified by the U.S. Air Force as a Lockheed Martin Skunk Works RQ-170 Sentinel—flew from Kandahar’s airport, where it was photographed at least twice in 2007. It shared a hangar with Predator and Reaper UAVs being used in combat operations. On Dec. 4, three days after declassification was requested, Aviation Week revealed the program on its web site. Like Predator and Reaper, the Sentinel is remotely piloted by aircrews—in this case the 30th Reconnaissance Sqdn. (RS) at Tonopah Test Range Airport in the northwest corner of the Nevada Test and Training Range.

The confirmation came the same week as the Air Force’s top intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) officer called for a new, stealth, jet-powered strike-reconnaissance aircraft that can meet the requirements of both irregular and conventional conflicts and strategic, peacetime information-gathering.

The demands of fighting an irregular war do not change the critical operational need for a stealthier, strategic-range, higher-payload, strike-reconnaissance aircraft, says Air Force Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula, deputy chief of staff for ISR.

The battle will be to balance the way the military wants to fight in Afghanistan now against how it wants to fight elsewhere in the future. Air Force officials want to keep those two needs from becoming widely divergent points in geography, technology and operational techniques. For the next 18 months, about 150,000 U.S. and allied troops will try to break the offensive capabilities of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghan istan, and new technologies will be brought into play.

“Don’t get enamored with current conditions,” Deptula cautions. “We don’t know what the future will bring.” While operations in Afghanistan will be “more complex than ever,” the future is “not only going to be about irregular warfare.”

Beyond 2011, the Air Force’s first priority and the destination of the next dollar to be spent “if I were king for a day,” Deptula says, “would be for long-range [reconnaissance and] precision strike. That’s the number-one need.

“We cannot move into a future without a platform that allows [us] to project power long distances and to meet advanced threats in a fashion that gives us an advantage that no other nation has,” he notes. “We can’t walk away from that capability.”

A next-generation design would be equally important as a stealthy ISR platform to greatly extend—through speed, endurance and stealth—the capability produced by putting electro-optical and infrared sensor packets on the B-1 and B-52 bombers for precise attacks on fleeting targets in Southwest Asia.

Surveillance aircraft can see a lot more (farther and better) with long-wave infrared if the platform can operate at 50,000 ft. or higher. The RC-135S Cobra Ball, RC-135W Rivet Joint and E-8C Joint Stars are all limited to flying lower than 30,000 ft. Moreover, the multispectral technology to examine the chemical content of rocket plumes has been miniaturized to fit easily on a much smaller aircraft. Other sensors of interest are electronically scanned array radars, low-probability-of-intercept synthetic aperture radars and signals intelligence.

In fact, combat in Afghanistan could have—if well planned—direct benefits for conventional wars. The target set for the new surge campaign includes “cohesive units without chains of command” that the U.S. and its allies need to “dominate and win [against] across the spectrum” of conflict, Deptula says.

That then brings the focus back to what has been going on at Tonopah.

The 30th RS falls under Air Combat Command’s 432nd Wing at Creech AFB, Nev., home of the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 training and remote operations facilities. Tonopah is where classified projects—such as the F-117 fighter—are kept when they are still secret but have grown to a point where they cannot be easily accommodated at the Air Force’s “black” flight-test center at Groom Lake. Its operations are restricted by the need to prevent personnel cleared into any one program from observing other “sight-sensitive” test aircraft. The squadron was activated as part of the 57th Operations Group on Sept. 1, 2005, and a squadron patch was approved on July 17, 2007. The activation—although not the full meaning of the event—was noted among those who watch for signs of activity in the classified world.

The RQ-170 is a tailless flying wing design from Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs. It has a single engine and pronounced compound sweep on the leading and trailing edges. It is difficult to estimate the aircraft’s size, but one report suggests that the wingspan is similar to that of the Reaper at 66 ft. The high degree of blending and center-body depth would suggest a greater takeoff weight and thrust than the RQ-3 DarkStar, Lockheed Martin’s earlier stealth UAV, which was powered by a 1,900-lb.-thrust Williams FJ44 engine and weighed 8,500 lb.

A number of features suggest that the RQ-170 is a moderately stealthy design, without the DarkStar’s or Northrop Grumman X-47B’s extreme emphasis on low radar cross section (RCS). The leading edges do not appear to be sharp—normally considered essential for avoiding strong RCS glints—and it appears that the main landing gear door’s front and rear edges are squared off rather than being notched or aligned with the wing edges.

In addition, the exhaust is not shielded by the wing, and the wing is curved rather than angular. That suggests the Sentinel has been designed to avoid the use of highly sensitive technologies. As a single-engine UAV, vehicle losses are a statistical certainty. Ultra-stealthy UAVs—such as the never-completed Lockheed-Boeing Quartz for which DarkStar was originally a demonstrator—were criticized on the grounds they were “pearls too precious to wear”—because their use would be too restricted by the risk of compromising technology in the event of a loss.

The medium-gray color, similar to the Reaper’s, is a clue to performance. At extreme altitudes (above 60,000 ft.), very dark tones provide the best concealment even in daylight because there is little lighting behind the vehicle while it is illuminated by light scattered from moisture and particles in the air below it. The RQ-170 is therefore a mid-altitude platform, unlikely to operate much above 50,000 ft. This altitude also would have simplified the use of an off-the-shelf engine. General Electric has been working on a classified variant of its TF34 engine that appears to fit the thrust range of the RQ-170.

The overwing housings for sensors or antennas are also significant. One could accommodate a satcom antenna; but if both housed sensors, they would cover the entire hemisphere above the aircraft.

An Air Force official tells Aviation Week that the service has been “developing a stealthy, unmanned aircraft system [UAS] to provide reconnaissance and surveillance support to forward-deployed combat forces.

“The fielding of the RQ-170 aligns with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’s request for increased . . . ISR support to the Combatant Commanders and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz’s vision for an increased USAF reliance on unmanned aircraft,” says the memorandum prepared for Aviation Week by the Air Force.

The RQ-170 designation is a correct prefix but numerically out of sequence to avoid obvious guesses of the program’s existence. Technically, “RQ” denotes an unarmed aircraft rather than the MQ prefix applied to the armed Predator and Reaper. A phrase in the memorandum, “support to forward-deployed combat forces,” when combined with visible details that suggest a moderate degree of stealth (including a blunt leading edge, simple nozzle and overwing sensor pods), suggests that the Sentinel is a tactical, operations-oriented platform and not a strategic intelligence-gathering design.

With its moderately low-observable design, the aircraft would be useful for flying along the borders of Iran and peering into China, India and Pakistan to gather useful information about missile tests and telemetry, as well as garnering signals and multispectral intelligence.

The RQ-170 has links to earlier Skunk Works designs such as the experimental DarkStar and Polecat. “DarkStar didn’t die when Lockheed Martin [retired the airframe],” said a former company executive last week. “It just got classified.”

Following the landing of a damaged Navy EP-3E in China in early 2001, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called a classified, all-day session of those with responsibilities for “sensitive reconnaissance operations” (AW&ST June 4, 2001, p. 30). They discussed how to avoid embarrassing and damaging losses of classified equipment, documents or aircrews without losing the ability to monitor the military forces and capabilities of important nations such as China. Their leading option was to start a new stealthy, unmanned reconnaissance program that would field 12-24 aircraft. Air Combat Command, which was then led by Gen. John Jumper, wanted a very-low-observable, high-altitude UAV that could penetrate air defense, fly 1,000 nm. to a target, loiter for 8 hr. and return to base.

During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a UAV described as a derivative of DarkStar was being prepared and was said by several officials to have been used operationally in prototype form (AW&ST Mar. 15, 2004, p. 35; July 7, 2003, p. 20).

“It’s the same concept as DarkStar; it’s stealthy and it uses the same apertures and data links,” said an Air Force official at the time. “Only it’s bigger,” said a Navy official. “It’s still far from a production aircraft, but the Air Force wanted to go ahead and get it out there.” The classified UAV’s operation caused consternation among U-2 pilots who noticed high-flying aircraft operating within several miles of their routes over Iraq. Flights of the mysterious aircraft were not coordinated with those of other manned and unmanned surveillance units.

There is great interest in how the U.S. now leverages its black- and white-world UAVs and remotely piloted aircraft to maintain a watch over the vast and rugged areas of Afghanistan that NATO’s force of about 100,000 troops will be unable to patrol. The revitalized conflict in Afghanistan will be largely a ground war with airpower serving as flying artillery and as a wide-ranging reconnaissance force.

Emphasis will be attached to manned MC-12W and unmanned surveillance and light-attack aircraft. New technologies such as the Gorgon Stare ISR pod will address ground commanders’ insatiable desire for full-motion video. By next spring, a single pod on a UAV could track 13 separate people as they leave a meeting place. The capability will expand to 65 people by 2012 and eventually to perhaps as many as 150 image feeds from a single UAV combat air patrol.

Along with its new ISR products, the U.S. will be providing close air support and helicopter airlift to its allies.

“I don’t know exactly when the NATO forces or non-U.S. forces will be flowing,” says Gates. “We do have some private commitments. There will be some additional announcements, I expect, [after the] London conference in January on Afghanistan.”

The rough plan so far is to divide operational responsibilities between the allies in the north and west and the U.S. in the east and south. The allies are expected to total “a brigade or two” comprising about 3,500-4,000 troops each, says Gates. Training of the Afghan troops will focus on partnering in combat with international personnel, rather than on basic training.

With Guy Norris in Los Angeles.

Illustration by Gregory Lewis/AW&ST
25291  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: December 17, 2009, 06:11:23 PM
second post

NOTE the UAV capability upgrades:  "By next spring, a single pod on a UAV could track 13 separate people as they leave a meeting place. The capability will expand to 65 people by 2012 and eventually to perhaps as many as 150 image feeds from a single UAV combat air patrol."



Black UAV Performs In Afghanistan
Dec 11, 2009

David A. Fulghum and Bill Sweetman
The U.S. has been flying a classified, stealthy, remotely piloted aircraft in Afghanistan. That single fact reveals the continued development of low-observable UAVs, hidden aspects of the surveillance buildup in Afghanistan, the footprint of an active “black aircraft world” that stretches to Southwest Asia, and links into the Pentagon’s next-generation recce bomber.

The mystery aircraft—once referred to as the Beast of Kandahar and now identified by the U.S. Air Force as a Lockheed Martin Skunk Works RQ-170 Sentinel—flew from Kandahar’s airport, where it was photographed at least twice in 2007. It shared a hangar with Predator and Reaper UAVs being used in combat operations. On Dec. 4, three days after declassification was requested, Aviation Week revealed the program on its web site. Like Predator and Reaper, the Sentinel is remotely piloted by aircrews—in this case the 30th Reconnaissance Sqdn. (RS) at Tonopah Test Range Airport in the northwest corner of the Nevada Test and Training Range.

The confirmation came the same week as the Air Force’s top intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) officer called for a new, stealth, jet-powered strike-reconnaissance aircraft that can meet the requirements of both irregular and conventional conflicts and strategic, peacetime information-gathering.

The demands of fighting an irregular war do not change the critical operational need for a stealthier, strategic-range, higher-payload, strike-reconnaissance aircraft, says Air Force Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula, deputy chief of staff for ISR.

The battle will be to balance the way the military wants to fight in Afghanistan now against how it wants to fight elsewhere in the future. Air Force officials want to keep those two needs from becoming widely divergent points in geography, technology and operational techniques. For the next 18 months, about 150,000 U.S. and allied troops will try to break the offensive capabilities of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghan istan, and new technologies will be brought into play.

“Don’t get enamored with current conditions,” Deptula cautions. “We don’t know what the future will bring.” While operations in Afghanistan will be “more complex than ever,” the future is “not only going to be about irregular warfare.”

Beyond 2011, the Air Force’s first priority and the destination of the next dollar to be spent “if I were king for a day,” Deptula says, “would be for long-range [reconnaissance and] precision strike. That’s the number-one need.

“We cannot move into a future without a platform that allows [us] to project power long distances and to meet advanced threats in a fashion that gives us an advantage that no other nation has,” he notes. “We can’t walk away from that capability.”

A next-generation design would be equally important as a stealthy ISR platform to greatly extend—through speed, endurance and stealth—the capability produced by putting electro-optical and infrared sensor packets on the B-1 and B-52 bombers for precise attacks on fleeting targets in Southwest Asia.

Surveillance aircraft can see a lot more (farther and better) with long-wave infrared if the platform can operate at 50,000 ft. or higher. The RC-135S Cobra Ball, RC-135W Rivet Joint and E-8C Joint Stars are all limited to flying lower than 30,000 ft. Moreover, the multispectral technology to examine the chemical content of rocket plumes has been miniaturized to fit easily on a much smaller aircraft. Other sensors of interest are electronically scanned array radars, low-probability-of-intercept synthetic aperture radars and signals intelligence.

In fact, combat in Afghanistan could have—if well planned—direct benefits for conventional wars. The target set for the new surge campaign includes “cohesive units without chains of command” that the U.S. and its allies need to “dominate and win [against] across the spectrum” of conflict, Deptula says.

That then brings the focus back to what has been going on at Tonopah.

The 30th RS falls under Air Combat Command’s 432nd Wing at Creech AFB, Nev., home of the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 training and remote operations facilities. Tonopah is where classified projects—such as the F-117 fighter—are kept when they are still secret but have grown to a point where they cannot be easily accommodated at the Air Force’s “black” flight-test center at Groom Lake. Its operations are restricted by the need to prevent personnel cleared into any one program from observing other “sight-sensitive” test aircraft. The squadron was activated as part of the 57th Operations Group on Sept. 1, 2005, and a squadron patch was approved on July 17, 2007. The activation—although not the full meaning of the event—was noted among those who watch for signs of activity in the classified world.

The RQ-170 is a tailless flying wing design from Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs. It has a single engine and pronounced compound sweep on the leading and trailing edges. It is difficult to estimate the aircraft’s size, but one report suggests that the wingspan is similar to that of the Reaper at 66 ft. The high degree of blending and center-body depth would suggest a greater takeoff weight and thrust than the RQ-3 DarkStar, Lockheed Martin’s earlier stealth UAV, which was powered by a 1,900-lb.-thrust Williams FJ44 engine and weighed 8,500 lb.

A number of features suggest that the RQ-170 is a moderately stealthy design, without the DarkStar’s or Northrop Grumman X-47B’s extreme emphasis on low radar cross section (RCS). The leading edges do not appear to be sharp—normally considered essential for avoiding strong RCS glints—and it appears that the main landing gear door’s front and rear edges are squared off rather than being notched or aligned with the wing edges.

In addition, the exhaust is not shielded by the wing, and the wing is curved rather than angular. That suggests the Sentinel has been designed to avoid the use of highly sensitive technologies. As a single-engine UAV, vehicle losses are a statistical certainty. Ultra-stealthy UAVs—such as the never-completed Lockheed-Boeing Quartz for which DarkStar was originally a demonstrator—were criticized on the grounds they were “pearls too precious to wear”—because their use would be too restricted by the risk of compromising technology in the event of a loss.

The medium-gray color, similar to the Reaper’s, is a clue to performance. At extreme altitudes (above 60,000 ft.), very dark tones provide the best concealment even in daylight because there is little lighting behind the vehicle while it is illuminated by light scattered from moisture and particles in the air below it. The RQ-170 is therefore a mid-altitude platform, unlikely to operate much above 50,000 ft. This altitude also would have simplified the use of an off-the-shelf engine. General Electric has been working on a classified variant of its TF34 engine that appears to fit the thrust range of the RQ-170.

The overwing housings for sensors or antennas are also significant. One could accommodate a satcom antenna; but if both housed sensors, they would cover the entire hemisphere above the aircraft.

An Air Force official tells Aviation Week that the service has been “developing a stealthy, unmanned aircraft system [UAS] to provide reconnaissance and surveillance support to forward-deployed combat forces.

“The fielding of the RQ-170 aligns with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’s request for increased . . . ISR support to the Combatant Commanders and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz’s vision for an increased USAF reliance on unmanned aircraft,” says the memorandum prepared for Aviation Week by the Air Force.

The RQ-170 designation is a correct prefix but numerically out of sequence to avoid obvious guesses of the program’s existence. Technically, “RQ” denotes an unarmed aircraft rather than the MQ prefix applied to the armed Predator and Reaper. A phrase in the memorandum, “support to forward-deployed combat forces,” when combined with visible details that suggest a moderate degree of stealth (including a blunt leading edge, simple nozzle and overwing sensor pods), suggests that the Sentinel is a tactical, operations-oriented platform and not a strategic intelligence-gathering design.

With its moderately low-observable design, the aircraft would be useful for flying along the borders of Iran and peering into China, India and Pakistan to gather useful information about missile tests and telemetry, as well as garnering signals and multispectral intelligence.

The RQ-170 has links to earlier Skunk Works designs such as the experimental DarkStar and Polecat. “DarkStar didn’t die when Lockheed Martin [retired the airframe],” said a former company executive last week. “It just got classified.”

Following the landing of a damaged Navy EP-3E in China in early 2001, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called a classified, all-day session of those with responsibilities for “sensitive reconnaissance operations” (AW&ST June 4, 2001, p. 30). They discussed how to avoid embarrassing and damaging losses of classified equipment, documents or aircrews without losing the ability to monitor the military forces and capabilities of important nations such as China. Their leading option was to start a new stealthy, unmanned reconnaissance program that would field 12-24 aircraft. Air Combat Command, which was then led by Gen. John Jumper, wanted a very-low-observable, high-altitude UAV that could penetrate air defense, fly 1,000 nm. to a target, loiter for 8 hr. and return to base.

During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a UAV described as a derivative of DarkStar was being prepared and was said by several officials to have been used operationally in prototype form (AW&ST Mar. 15, 2004, p. 35; July 7, 2003, p. 20).

“It’s the same concept as DarkStar; it’s stealthy and it uses the same apertures and data links,” said an Air Force official at the time. “Only it’s bigger,” said a Navy official. “It’s still far from a production aircraft, but the Air Force wanted to go ahead and get it out there.” The classified UAV’s operation caused consternation among U-2 pilots who noticed high-flying aircraft operating within several miles of their routes over Iraq. Flights of the mysterious aircraft were not coordinated with those of other manned and unmanned surveillance units.

There is great interest in how the U.S. now leverages its black- and white-world UAVs and remotely piloted aircraft to maintain a watch over the vast and rugged areas of Afghanistan that NATO’s force of about 100,000 troops will be unable to patrol. The revitalized conflict in Afghanistan will be largely a ground war with airpower serving as flying artillery and as a wide-ranging reconnaissance force.

Emphasis will be attached to manned MC-12W and unmanned surveillance and light-attack aircraft. New technologies such as the Gorgon Stare ISR pod will address ground commanders’ insatiable desire for full-motion video. By next spring, a single pod on a UAV could track 13 separate people as they leave a meeting place. The capability will expand to 65 people by 2012 and eventually to perhaps as many as 150 image feeds from a single UAV combat air patrol.

Along with its new ISR products, the U.S. will be providing close air support and helicopter airlift to its allies.

“I don’t know exactly when the NATO forces or non-U.S. forces will be flowing,” says Gates. “We do have some private commitments. There will be some additional announcements, I expect, [after the] London conference in January on Afghanistan.”

The rough plan so far is to divide operational responsibilities between the allies in the north and west and the U.S. in the east and south. The allies are expected to total “a brigade or two” comprising about 3,500-4,000 troops each, says Gates. Training of the Afghan troops will focus on partnering in combat with international personnel, rather than on basic training.

With Guy Norris in Los Angeles.

Illustration by Gregory Lewis/AW&ST
25292  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Looking for fighters for stickfighting TV series on: December 17, 2009, 02:53:16 PM
Haven't a clue.  Until I see something serious from these folks, its hard to take this seriously.
25293  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Time has come on: December 17, 2009, 11:35:53 AM
Alexander's Essay – December 17, 2009

The Time Has Come
"It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth -- and listen to the song of that syren, till she transforms us into beasts. ... Are we disposed to be of the number of those, who having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not?" --Patrick Henry
The 2008 presidential election was much more than a referendum on the two candidates; it was a referendum on the ability of a majority of Americans voters to discern between one candidate who possessed the character and integrity of a statesman, and one who did not.

A year ago, a majority of our countrymen were hoodwinked into electing a charlatan with dubious credentials to the highest constitutional office in the land. Since then, millions of Americans who had become complacent about the Leftist threat to our liberty have begun to realize that our Constitution is now suffering an unprecedented assault.

There were those of us who realized in 2004 -- back when Teddy Kennedy and John Kerry let him take center stage at the Democrat National Convention -- that Barack Hussein Obama was a Marxist. Nonetheless, too many of our countrymen were lulled into believing that no leftist politico with such abhorrent extra-constitutional views on the role of government could rise to be president of the United States.

The awakening that has occurred since November of '08 is like nothing I have witnessed since the first election of President Ronald Reagan in 1980. After the economic and foreign policy disasters created by the Carter administration, Americans were stirred to action. Yes, the election of Bill Clinton in 1992 resulted in a conservative takeover of the House two years later, but Clinton was far more moderate than Obama, and his election didn't inspire millions of Americans to arm themselves for the first time.

That Obama's election inspired a wave of conservative activism is good news.

The great news is that since last November, millions of Americans have joined our ranks.

And the momentum continues unabated.

I knew we were turning a corner a few months back, when an establishment Republican, typical of most such Republicans, told me that Obama's health care proposal "amounts to socialism." This same fellow told me a year earlier that calling Obama a Socialist was just too severe. When I reminded him of his earlier admonishment, he said simply, "My eyes are now open."

If Barack Obama has given us one thing of value, it is the opportunity to clearly discern between Left and Right, between rule of men and Rule of Law. He is the quintessential socialist, and his domestic and foreign policies present a contrast between tyranny and liberty that has rarely been so apparent. Many who have been hitherto reluctant to rise on behalf of liberty or have been too comfortable to be concerned by such conflict, are now making an ever-louder stand.

Benjamin Franklin aptly noted, "They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Indeed.

Obama is the personification of Leftist philosophy and dogma, and in a turn of irony, for the clarity he has provided to that end we owe him a debt of gratitude.

Despite the fact that the Leftists in media and academia have had a stranglehold on public opinion, seating one of their own as president, which they believe is a great prize, may well be their undoing.

The once noble Democrat Party is now led by those who have turned the wisdom of their iconic leaders upside down.

Then: "My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country." --John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, 1961

Now: "Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do for you."

Then: "I have a dream that my children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." --Martin Luther King, Address from the Lincoln Memorial, 1963

Now: "I have a dream that my children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the content of their character but by the color of their skin."

Today, Democrat Party Leftists deride the notion of individual rights. Instead, they advocate the supplanting of individual liberty with statism.

They promote the notion of a living constitution rather than the authentic Constitution our Founders established.

They despise free enterprise and advocate socialist redistribution of wealth, the ultimate goal of which is to render all people equally poor and dependent upon the state.

They loathe our military and our national sovereignty, and they propose to replace it with treaties that establish supranational governmental legal and policing authorities.

They detest traditional American values, and they support all manner of behavior resulting in social entropy.

Being debated right now is whether an additional 17 percent of the U.S. economy is going to be nationalized under ObamaCare, and whether the rest of the economy is going to be shackled by cap-and-trade taxes in addition to a plethora of other job-eliminating taxes on private sector employers.

Would it surprise you to know that, while Democrat impositions on lending practices are largely responsible for the fact that millions of Americans are now out of work, the number of government "workers" making over $100,000 per year has increased 30 percent since the beginning of the current recession? There are more than 10,000 bureaucrats earning more than $150,000 annually, and the average federal salary is $71,206, not including generous government benefits, while the average private sector salary is $40,331.

Obama and his Democrat Congress have endowed future generations, unless soon reversed, not with liberty but with historically unprecedented levels of debt, which will enslave them to hyperinflation.

Conservatives and liberals can argue various policy points ad nauseam, but the question Americans are asking in greater numbers is this: Are we a nation governed by Rule of Law or the contemporaneous opinions of men?

History provides us with repeated evidence that the terminus of nations that are governed by men rather than laws is tyranny. In the last century alone, hundreds of millions have been enslaved under statist dictators such as Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, Franco, Hitler, Mao, Kruschev, Pol Pot, Ho Chi, Idi Amin, Castro, Hussein, Mugabe, Kim Jong-Il, Chavez, Hu Jintao and others. Who might be next?

Surely not us?

Obama has clearly delineated the difference between individual rights and statism, between free enterprise and socialism.

Alexander Hamilton said, "In disquisitions of every kind there are certain primary truths, or first principles, upon which all subsequent reasoning must depend."

Today, more and more Americans are returning to the core principles upon which our nation was founded, which made it the freest and most productive in history. There is a renewed commitment to support and defend Essential Liberty.

John Adams wrote: "Human nature itself is evermore an advocate for liberty. There is also in human nature a resentment of injury, and indignation against wrong. A love of truth and a veneration of virtue. These amiable passions are the 'latent spark' ... If the people are capable of understanding, seeing and feeling the differences between true and false, right and wrong, virtue and vice, to what better principle can the friends of mankind apply than to the sense of this difference?"

I believe that a supermajority of us are fully capable of understanding the truth, if given the right information and opportunity.

As Thomas Paine noted, "Such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing."

Of course, Barack Obama and his liberal lawmaking brethren have done us great harm this past year, and it may take several election cycles, or a revolution, to turn that around. But, the fields are being plowed and seeds sown.

Ronald Reagan delivered an enduring 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."

Patriots, the time has come to choose.

Reagan also 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 that 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."

If Republicans want to regain majority status, the RNC must purge those who have forsaken the first principles of conservatism for power. In their stead they must lift up those who are devoted to the Rule of Law and Essential Liberty, those who incorporate Reagan's charge, and that of generations of Patriots before him. They must back real conservatives instead of arrogant pretenders (see Toomey v. Specter). Short of bold new leadership, what remains of the Republican Party will end up on the trash heap of political irrelevance.

Patriots take heart: Do not wither during these difficult times. For as George Washington advised, "We should never despair, our Situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new Exertions and proportion our Efforts to the exigency of the times."

Indeed, the next several years will be a vital test for Patriots and our countrymen. Let us choose to persevere, to make our cause that of all men, to make no peace with oppression.

In 1776, Peter Muhlenberg delivered a sermon, concluding, "There is a time for all things, a time to preach and a time to pray, but those times have passed away. There is a time to fight, and that time has now come." He removed his clerical robes and set out to command the 8th Virginia Regiment of the Continental Army.

Patriots, we have great opportunity before us, and once again the time has come to fight for it.

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Publisher, PatriotPost.US
25294  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Obsession on: December 17, 2009, 10:56:10 AM
Every Democratic president since FDR has failed to pass national health insurance. The current legislation in Congress is likely the last chance to enact it.
By DANIEL HENNINGER

If President Obama's health-care initiative fails, there is no longer a rationale for being a liberal in the United States. Everything else on liberalism's to-do list is footnotes.

Passing national health insurance has obsessed every Democratic president since Franklin Roosevelt. Even Harry Truman, for some conservatives a model of "moderate" Democratic politics, wanted it. Looking back, Truman wept and warned: "I've had some bitter disappointments as President, but the one that has troubled me most, in a personal way, has been the failure to defeat the organized opposition to a national compulsory health insurance program. But this opposition has only delayed and cannot stop the adoption of an indispensable federal health insurance plan."



No other issue has consumed more political energy in the U.S. than "health-care reform." Congress's half-year preoccupation with health care is only the latest blip in the Democrats' long march to a public option.

As we head to the final act, one element of this history stands out: The liberals' repeated failure to get it done.

The Democratic Mecca—a real national health insurance system available to all—has always encountered stiff resistance in Congress, notably as now from moderate Democrats. In the 1960s, Senate Finance Chairman Russell Long (of Mary Landrieu's Louisiana) railed publicly against Medicare's costs but as now, questions about cost were obliterated.

Frustrated at the failure to pass their "National Health Insurance" bill during the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower, the Democrats ratcheted back from the Euro-style idea of FDR and Truman to a plan that would cover only Social Security beneficiaries, the elderly. This was Medicare.

Medicare failed all its initial votes in 1960. A compromise known as Kerr-Mills, which limited federal coverage to the "indigent" elderly, passed the Senate by a vote of 91-2. Many said then that Kerr-Mills addressed the U.S.'s main problem, which was medicine for the poor. Ronald Reagan supported Kerr-Mills, arguing that people "worth millions of dollars" shouldn't be getting health care paid for by government.

For Democratic liberals, a lot is never enough. With John Kennedy's election, they resubmitted Medicare for the elderly regardless of income.

The Democrats still couldn't pass a health-care entitlement on the scale of Social Security. The politics they threw into the effort was massive. They put 20,000 elderly in Madison Square Garden to hear JFK's oratory. Rallies were held in 45 cities. Organized labor ran campaigns against members of the Ways and Means Committee in their home districts. For all this, in July 1962 the Senate voted 52-48 against Medicare. JFK denounced the vote on TV.

It is a familiar story that Lyndon Johnson got Medicare passed as part of the Kennedy legacy. But for LBJ in 1965, the political planets were in perfect alignment. He had an overwhelming victory in the 1964 presidential campaign and huge congressional majorities. He had a robust economy, a gift of the Kennedy tax cut passed in early 1964. Also, no House hearings were held that year on the 296-page bill, which Democratic Sen. Philip Hart of Michigan complained was "one of the most complex set of social security amendments ever brought before this body."

Oh, and let us not overlook the party's concurrent quest for money transfers. In a moment of glee over the 1965 bill, Rep. Phil Burton of California, a member of the liberal pantheon, intoned: "All in all, our fair state and its people in the first year will be favored to the tune of some $550 million, a not modest sum." (Norms of spending "modesty" have changed since.)

The Democrats' persistent problems with this issue, including the Clintons' Health Security Act in 1994, suggests a victory for ObamaCare is no sure thing.

Nearly every defeat of broad public health coverage has come amid some turbulence that scared the public or politicians.

For Truman it was the Korean War. For JFK it was a recession, Vietnam and the Cuban missile crisis. Walter Lippmann wrote of JFK that a too-confident president was exceeding the public's reach. The Social Security Administration's own history of the Kennedy effort notes, "Some experts still had doubts about the reliability of the cost estimates for the bill."

Now Democrats say this vote is about "history." No, it's about their history. As with past failures to federalize health care, the air in 2009 is full of static—high unemployment, Afghanistan, a terrorist prison in Illinois and a petulant White House. The Democrats' familiar problems with the politics of universal health care have turned the bill into one of the most degraded legislative exercises in congressional history. Left-wing Dems like Howard Dean are screaming "kill" the Senate bill, suggesting a progressive Jonestown over it. Public support is below 40%.

This is probably the final death struggle for universal health care. They may let Harry Reid's Senate seat itself go down in the bloodbath over the 70-year obsession. Anyone remotely opposed to this idea had better step forward. History says ObamaCare isn't a done deal til the fat lady votes.

Write to henninger@wsj.com
25295  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rove: B+? on: December 17, 2009, 10:02:22 AM
By KARL ROVE
Barack Obama has won a place in history with the worst ratings of any president at the end of his first year: 49% approve and 46% disapprove of his job performance in the latest USA Today/Gallup Poll.

There are many factors that explain it, including weakness abroad, an unprecedented spending binge at home, and making a perfectly awful health-care plan his signature domestic initiative. But something else is happening.

Mr. Obama has not governed as the centrist, deficit-fighting, bipartisan consensus builder he promised to be. And his promise to embody a new kind of politics—free of finger-pointing, pettiness and spin—was a mirage. He has cheapened his office with needless attacks on his predecessor.

Consider Mr. Obama's comment in his interview this past Sunday on CBS's "60 Minutes" that the Bush administration made a mistake in speaking in "a triumphant sense about war."



This was a slap at every president who rallied the nation in dark moments, including Franklin D. Roosevelt ("With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph"); Woodrow Wilson ("Right is more precious than peace and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts"); and John F. Kennedy ("Any hostile move anywhere in the world against the safety and freedom of peoples to whom we are committed . . . will be met by whatever action is needed").

This kind of attack gives Mr. Obama's words a slippery quality. For example, he voted for the bank rescue plan in September 2008 and praised it during the campaign. Yet on Dec. 8 at the Brookings Institution, Mr. Obama called it "flawed" and blamed "the last administration" for launching it "hastily."

Really? Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and New York Fed President Timothy Geithner designed it. If it was "flawed," why did Mr. Obama later nominate Mr. Bernanke to a second term as Fed chairman and make Mr. Geithner his Treasury secretary?

Mr. Obama also claimed at Brookings that he prevented "a second Great Depression" by confronting the financial crisis "largely without the help" of Republicans. Yet his own Treasury secretary suggests otherwise. In a Dec. 9 letter, Mr. Geithner admitted that since taking office, the Obama administration had "committed about $7 billion to banks, much of which went to small institutions." That compares to $240 billion the Bush administration lent banks. Does Mr. Obama really believe his additional $7 billion forestalled "the potential collapse of our financial system"?

About Karl Rove
Karl Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy-making process.

Before Karl became known as "The Architect" of President Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, nonpartisan causes, and nonprofit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden.

Karl writes a weekly op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, is a Newsweek columnist and is the author of the forthcoming book "Courage and Consequence" (Threshold Editions).

Email the author atKarl@Rove.comor visit him on the web atRove.com. Or, you can send a Tweet to @karlrove.

Mr. Obama continued distorting the record in his "60 Minutes" interview Sunday when he blamed bankers for the financial crisis. They "caused the problem," he insisted before complaining, "I haven't seen a lot of shame on their part" and pledging to put "a regulatory system in place that prevents them from putting us in this kind of pickle again."

But as a freshman senator, Mr. Obama supported a threatened 2005 filibuster of a bill regulating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He doesn't show "a lot of shame" that he and other Fannie and Freddie defenders blocked "a regulatory system" that might have kept America from getting in such a bad pickle in the first place.

The president's rhetorical tricks don't end there. Mr. Obama also claimed his $787 billion stimulus package "helped us [stem] the panic and get the economy growing again." But 1.5 million more people are unemployed than he said there would be if nothing were done.

And as of yesterday, only $244 billion of the stimulus had been spent. Why was $787 billion needed when less than a third of that figure supposedly got the job done?

Mr. Obama also alleged on "60 Minutes" that health-care reform "will actually bring down the deficit" (which people clearly know it will not). He said his reform reduces "costs and premiums for American families and businesses" (though they will be higher than they would otherwise be). And he claimed 30 million more people will get coverage through "an exchange that allows individuals and small businesses" to purchase insurance (though 15 million of them are covered by being dumped into Medicaid and don't get private insurance).

Mr. Obama may actually believe it when he says, "I think that's a pretty darned good outcome" and congratulates himself that he could succeed where "seven presidents have tried . . . [and] seven presidents have failed."

But voters seem to have a different definition of success. And they are tiring of the president's blame shifting and distortions.

Mr. Obama may believe, as he told Oprah Winfrey in a recent interview, that he deserves a "solid B+" for his first year in office, but the American people beg to differ. A presidency that started with so much promise is receiving unprecedentedly low grades from the country that elected him. He's earned them.

Mr. Rove, the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, is the author of the forthcoming book "Courage and Consequence" (Threshold Editions).
25296  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Looking for fighters for stickfighting TV series on: December 17, 2009, 09:57:25 AM
After getting my chain yanked a few times too many, I recently asked to be released from the deal , , , so naturally they both said yes to the release AND expressed interest in the project once again , , , after they are done with their current one , , ,
25297  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Drones hacked for $26 on: December 17, 2009, 08:50:14 AM
I posted this in Military Science as well.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126102247889095011.html





DECEMBER 17, 2009
Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones
$26 Software Is Used to Breach Key Weapons in Iraq; Iranian Backing Suspected


By SIOBHAN GORMAN, YOCHI J. DREAZEN and AUGUST COLE

WASHINGTON -- Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.

Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes' systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber -- available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet -- to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter.

U.S. officials say there is no evidence that militants were able to take control of the drones or otherwise interfere with their flights. Still, the intercepts could give America's enemies battlefield advantages by removing the element of surprise from certain missions and making it easier for insurgents to determine which roads and buildings are under U.S. surveillance.

The drone intercepts mark the emergence of a shadow cyber war within the U.S.-led conflicts overseas. They also point to a potentially serious vulnerability in Washington's growing network of unmanned drones, which have become the American weapon of choice in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Obama administration has come to rely heavily on the unmanned drones because they allow the U.S. to safely monitor and stalk insurgent targets in areas where sending American troops would be either politically untenable or too risky.

The stolen video feeds also indicate that U.S. adversaries continue to find simple ways of counteracting sophisticated American military technologies.

U.S. military personnel in Iraq discovered the problem late last year when they apprehended a Shiite militant whose laptop contained files of intercepted drone video feeds. In July, the U.S. military found pirated drone video feeds on other militant laptops, leading some officials to conclude that militant groups trained and funded by Iran were regularly intercepting feeds.

In the summer 2009 incident, the military found "days and days and hours and hours of proof" that the feeds were being intercepted and shared with multiple extremist groups, the person said. "It is part of their kit now."

A senior defense official said that James Clapper, the Pentagon's intelligence chief, assessed the Iraq intercepts at the direction of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and concluded they represented a shortcoming to the security of the drone network.

"There did appear to be a vulnerability," the defense official said. "There's been no harm done to troops or missions compromised as a result of it, but there's an issue that we can take care of and we're doing so."

Senior military and intelligence officials said the U.S. was working to encrypt all of its drone video feeds from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but said it wasn't yet clear if the problem had been completely resolved.

Some of the most detailed evidence of intercepted feeds has been discovered in Iraq, but adversaries have also intercepted drone video feeds in Afghanistan, according to people briefed on the matter. These intercept techniques could be employed in other locations where the U.S. is using pilotless planes, such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, they said.

The Pentagon is deploying record numbers of drones to Afghanistan as part of the Obama administration's troop surge there. Lt. Gen. David Deptula, who oversees the Air Force's unmanned aviation program, said some of the drones would employ a sophisticated new camera system called "Gorgon Stare," which allows a single aerial vehicle to transmit back at least 10 separate video feeds simultaneously.

Gen. Deptula, speaking to reporters Wednesday, said there were inherent risks to using drones since they are remotely controlled and need to send and receive video and other data over great distances. "Those kinds of things are subject to listening and exploitation," he said, adding the military was trying to solve the problems by better encrypting the drones' feeds.

The potential drone vulnerability lies in an unencrypted downlink between the unmanned craft and ground control. The U.S. government has known about the flaw since the U.S. campaign in Bosnia in the 1990s, current and former officials said. But the Pentagon assumed local adversaries wouldn't know how to exploit it, the officials said.

Last December, U.S. military personnel in Iraq discovered copies of Predator drone feeds on a laptop belonging to a Shiite militant, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter. "There was evidence this was not a one-time deal," this person said. The U.S. accuses Iran of providing weapons, money and training to Shiite fighters in Iraq, a charge that Tehran has long denied.

The militants use programs such as SkyGrabber, from Russian company SkySoftware. Andrew Solonikov, one of the software's developers, said he was unaware that his software could be used to intercept drone feeds. "It was developed to intercept music, photos, video, programs and other content that other users download from the Internet -- no military data or other commercial data, only free legal content," he said by email from Russia.

Officials stepped up efforts to prevent insurgents from intercepting video feeds after the July incident. The difficulty, officials said, is that adding encryption to a network that is more than a decade old involves more than placing a new piece of equipment on individual drones. Instead, many components of the network linking the drones to their operators in the U.S., Afghanistan or Pakistan have to be upgraded to handle the changes. Additional concerns remain about the vulnerability of the communications signals to electronic jamming, though there's no evidence that has occurred, said people familiar with reports on the matter.

Predator drones are built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. of San Diego. Some of its communications technology is proprietary, so widely used encryption systems aren't readily compatible, said people familiar with the matter.

In an email, a spokeswoman said that for security reasons, the company couldn't comment on "specific data link capabilities and limitations."

Fixing the security gap would have caused delays, according to current and former military officials. It would have added to the Predator's price. Some officials worried that adding encryption would make it harder to quickly share time-sensitive data within the U.S. military, and with allies.

"There's a balance between pragmatics and sophistication," said Mike Wynne, Air Force Secretary from 2005 to 2008.

The Air Force has staked its future on unmanned aerial vehicles. Drones account for 36% of the planes in the service's proposed 2010 budget.

Today, the Air Force is buying hundreds of Reaper drones, a newer model, whose video feeds could be intercepted in much the same way as with the Predators, according to people familiar with the matter. A Reaper costs between $10 million and $12 million each and is faster and better armed than the Predator. General Atomics expects the Air Force to buy as many as 375 Reapers.

Write to Siobhan Gorman at siobhan.gorman@wsj.com, Yochi J. Dreazen at yochi.dreazen@wsj.com and August Cole at august.cole@dowjones.com

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A1
25298  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Drones hacked for $26 on: December 17, 2009, 08:49:26 AM
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126102247889095011.html





DECEMBER 17, 2009
Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones
$26 Software Is Used to Breach Key Weapons in Iraq; Iranian Backing Suspected


By SIOBHAN GORMAN, YOCHI J. DREAZEN and AUGUST COLE

WASHINGTON -- Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.

Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes' systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber -- available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet -- to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter.

U.S. officials say there is no evidence that militants were able to take control of the drones or otherwise interfere with their flights. Still, the intercepts could give America's enemies battlefield advantages by removing the element of surprise from certain missions and making it easier for insurgents to determine which roads and buildings are under U.S. surveillance.

The drone intercepts mark the emergence of a shadow cyber war within the U.S.-led conflicts overseas. They also point to a potentially serious vulnerability in Washington's growing network of unmanned drones, which have become the American weapon of choice in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Obama administration has come to rely heavily on the unmanned drones because they allow the U.S. to safely monitor and stalk insurgent targets in areas where sending American troops would be either politically untenable or too risky.

The stolen video feeds also indicate that U.S. adversaries continue to find simple ways of counteracting sophisticated American military technologies.

U.S. military personnel in Iraq discovered the problem late last year when they apprehended a Shiite militant whose laptop contained files of intercepted drone video feeds. In July, the U.S. military found pirated drone video feeds on other militant laptops, leading some officials to conclude that militant groups trained and funded by Iran were regularly intercepting feeds.

In the summer 2009 incident, the military found "days and days and hours and hours of proof" that the feeds were being intercepted and shared with multiple extremist groups, the person said. "It is part of their kit now."

A senior defense official said that James Clapper, the Pentagon's intelligence chief, assessed the Iraq intercepts at the direction of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and concluded they represented a shortcoming to the security of the drone network.

"There did appear to be a vulnerability," the defense official said. "There's been no harm done to troops or missions compromised as a result of it, but there's an issue that we can take care of and we're doing so."

Senior military and intelligence officials said the U.S. was working to encrypt all of its drone video feeds from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but said it wasn't yet clear if the problem had been completely resolved.

Some of the most detailed evidence of intercepted feeds has been discovered in Iraq, but adversaries have also intercepted drone video feeds in Afghanistan, according to people briefed on the matter. These intercept techniques could be employed in other locations where the U.S. is using pilotless planes, such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, they said.

The Pentagon is deploying record numbers of drones to Afghanistan as part of the Obama administration's troop surge there. Lt. Gen. David Deptula, who oversees the Air Force's unmanned aviation program, said some of the drones would employ a sophisticated new camera system called "Gorgon Stare," which allows a single aerial vehicle to transmit back at least 10 separate video feeds simultaneously.

Gen. Deptula, speaking to reporters Wednesday, said there were inherent risks to using drones since they are remotely controlled and need to send and receive video and other data over great distances. "Those kinds of things are subject to listening and exploitation," he said, adding the military was trying to solve the problems by better encrypting the drones' feeds.

The potential drone vulnerability lies in an unencrypted downlink between the unmanned craft and ground control. The U.S. government has known about the flaw since the U.S. campaign in Bosnia in the 1990s, current and former officials said. But the Pentagon assumed local adversaries wouldn't know how to exploit it, the officials said.

Last December, U.S. military personnel in Iraq discovered copies of Predator drone feeds on a laptop belonging to a Shiite militant, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter. "There was evidence this was not a one-time deal," this person said. The U.S. accuses Iran of providing weapons, money and training to Shiite fighters in Iraq, a charge that Tehran has long denied.

The militants use programs such as SkyGrabber, from Russian company SkySoftware. Andrew Solonikov, one of the software's developers, said he was unaware that his software could be used to intercept drone feeds. "It was developed to intercept music, photos, video, programs and other content that other users download from the Internet -- no military data or other commercial data, only free legal content," he said by email from Russia.

Officials stepped up efforts to prevent insurgents from intercepting video feeds after the July incident. The difficulty, officials said, is that adding encryption to a network that is more than a decade old involves more than placing a new piece of equipment on individual drones. Instead, many components of the network linking the drones to their operators in the U.S., Afghanistan or Pakistan have to be upgraded to handle the changes. Additional concerns remain about the vulnerability of the communications signals to electronic jamming, though there's no evidence that has occurred, said people familiar with reports on the matter.

Predator drones are built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. of San Diego. Some of its communications technology is proprietary, so widely used encryption systems aren't readily compatible, said people familiar with the matter.

In an email, a spokeswoman said that for security reasons, the company couldn't comment on "specific data link capabilities and limitations."

Fixing the security gap would have caused delays, according to current and former military officials. It would have added to the Predator's price. Some officials worried that adding encryption would make it harder to quickly share time-sensitive data within the U.S. military, and with allies.

"There's a balance between pragmatics and sophistication," said Mike Wynne, Air Force Secretary from 2005 to 2008.

The Air Force has staked its future on unmanned aerial vehicles. Drones account for 36% of the planes in the service's proposed 2010 budget.

Today, the Air Force is buying hundreds of Reaper drones, a newer model, whose video feeds could be intercepted in much the same way as with the Predators, according to people familiar with the matter. A Reaper costs between $10 million and $12 million each and is faster and better armed than the Predator. General Atomics expects the Air Force to buy as many as 375 Reapers.

Write to Siobhan Gorman at siobhan.gorman@wsj.com, Yochi J. Dreazen at yochi.dreazen@wsj.com and August Cole at august.cole@dowjones.com

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A1
25299  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Glen Beck on: December 17, 2009, 12:17:09 AM
I am already at (well, beyond) all reasonable time limits on what I put into this forum.  Any chance I could persuade someone to write up a daily summary of the show M-F to help kick off conversation?
25300  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China and the brewing Iranian Crisis on: December 16, 2009, 11:52:03 PM
This could have gone on the Nuclear War thread too , , ,

China and the Brewing Iranian Crisis
PRESSURE CONTINUED TO BUILD in the showdown over Iran’s nuclear program, with the end-of-the-year deadline approaching for international negotiations to yield concrete results or have Iran face U.S.-led sanctions (or possibly military strikes). Attempting to underscore the urgency of the matter for Israel, head of Israeli military intelligence Amos Yadlin claimed Tuesday that Tehran has gathered enough materials in the past year to build a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, conflicting reports have emerged in the past two days about a planned face-to-face meeting of the P-5+1 group of major negotiators — the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China and Germany. The meeting was allegedly to be held on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen on Dec. 18 or in Brussels on Dec. 22, but has been replaced with a conference call scheduled for the latter date. Interestingly, all reports agree that the change of plans came at the behest of Chinese diplomats, who have thus far played a neutral role in the negotiations. It is unclear whether the Chinese adjusted the meeting for genuine scheduling reasons or to avoid U.S. demands to adopt sanctions against Iran. With the deadline weeks away and Iranian defiance already fully demonstrated, perhaps Beijing felt it would be doing everyone a favor by deemphasizing a meeting doomed to produce no results.

“China’s interests require that it not incur the wrath of superior outside forces.”
Regardless, the uncertainty raises the subject of China’s involvement in the brewing Iranian crisis. China’s core interests lie in maintaining regime stability and internal security, primarily through a steadily growing economy that keeps its massive population fed and employed. In foreign policy, this interest means promoting international trade that benefits the export-driven Chinese economy, while taking trade-conducive, non-confrontational stances on controversies and developing a wide range of diplomatic partners.

More importantly, China’s interests require that it not incur the wrath of superior outside forces — for instance, the United States — that could deal crushing blows to the economy, whether through trade barriers against Chinese exports or naval power that could threaten critical supply lines of energy and raw materials.

Given these core interests, Beijing’s stance on U.S. involvement in the Middle East and South Asia makes sense. Beijing is content with the current configuration of U.S. forces in the region, as the wars and subsequent surges in Iraq and Afghanistan keep the United States tied down and constrained. Though ultimately the U.S. Navy, not land forces, poses the chief threat against China, the two wars nevertheless ensure that Washington continues the status quo with China rather than create unnecessary distractions for itself. This enables China to focus on managing its growing economy and allaying internal socio-political tensions without the United States breathing down its neck.

The Iranian crisis, however, poses a far less predictable threat than the Afghan surge. Beijing has repeatedly stated that it prefers diplomatic solutions and rejects sanctions and war. The Chinese have maintained this standard line throughout the latter part of 2009 when it became clear that a crisis — including a higher potential for U.S. and Israeli military strikes against Iran — was just around the corner. At the same time, Beijing participated in the latest round of negotiations (initiated by the Obama administration). Beijing has urged Iran to cooperate, and has endorsed the International Atomic Energy Agency’s resolution against Iran’s defiance of nuclear transparency.

In other words, the Chinese are playing it both ways. On one hand, they do not want war — or sanctions stringent enough to trigger war — that would further destabilize the inherently unstable Middle East. This is especially true of the Persian Gulf, the source of most of China’s crude oil. The commerce-threatening nature of any Iranian war would put pressure on China’s energy-hungry economy during an exceedingly inauspicious economic period.

On the other hand, the Chinese are not particularly fond of nuclear proliferation that would also destabilize the region, so they nudge Iran to negotiate. If the United States were to strike a deal with Russia bringing Moscow into a gasoline sanctions regime against Iran, then China would not make itself conspicuous (or anger the United States) by resisting. At present, however, the United States has not met Russia’s demands, and Russia has refused to join in sanctions. Therefore, China cannot be blamed for dashing Washington’s efforts. Beijing can claim there is no international consensus and continue to call for further dialogue.

The Chinese position is to gauge which way the wind is blowing and only then set off in that direction. It will not go out on a limb for Iran, nor will it do so for Israel or the United States. China is watching and waiting — a tactic it shares with Iran, the United States and Russia. The Israelis alone find the situation increasingly unbearable — and yet the Israelis have a guarantee from the United States to do something about Iran. There can be no doubt that a crisis is building.
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