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25301  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gilder on: June 08, 2011, 08:45:01 AM
http://spectator.org/archives/2011/06/08/the-economics-of-settlement
 
 
By George Gilder from the June 2011 issue

The root cause of Middle Eastern turmoil, according to a broad consensus of the international media and the considered cerebrations of the deepest-thinking movie stars, is Israeli settlers in what are described as the "occupied territories" on the West Bank of the Jordan River. Even such celebrated and fervent supporters of Israel as Alan Dershowitz and Bernard-Henri Lévy put the settlers beyond the pale of their Zionist sympathies. Remove the settlers, according to these sage analyses of the scene, and the problems of the region become remediable at last............................
25302  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on Humala's victory in Peru on: June 08, 2011, 01:41:54 AM
Peru has been a rare Latin American success story, a growing economy in an Andes region deteriorating under left-wing populism. Peruvians have now taken a big gamble with that success by electing their own Peronist manque, in the form of national-socialist candidate Ollanta Humala. We'll soon find out how far left his turn will be.

Mr. Humala narrowly defeated Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori, who began Peru's economic reform from 1990 to 2000. His government ended hyperinflation and improved property rights and fiscal accountability. Peru's economic growth averaged 6.5% a year from 2002 to 2010, and poverty is half what it was 20 years ago. But growth can often be taken for granted, and Mr. Humala tarred Ms. Fujimori with some of the rougher law and order practices that her father used to defeat Communist rebels.

The question now is which Mr. Humala will decide to govern in Lima. Until about two months ago he opposed the kind of democratic capitalism that has made Peruvians better off. In 2000, Comandante Humala, as he is sometimes known, led an unsuccessful military coup against the democratically elected Mr. Fujimori. In 2005 his brother Antauro led his own coup, which Mr. Humala endorsed from his post at the time as Peru's military attaché in Seoul.

Those incidents may seem like ancient history, but Mr. Humala's 198-page original party platform, dated December 2010, was in the same mold. It referred to market economics as "predatory" and called for the nationalization of strategic "activities." It also railed against "a foreign economic minority" that exploits natural resources and promised to "revise" free trade agreements that "oppose the exercise of our sovereign will." One of those trade deals is with the U.S.

Yet when Mr. Humala found himself in a runoff against Ms. Fujimori, he had some new advisers generate a more moderate, less detailed agenda. This agenda promised stable prices and responsible fiscal policy. It includes socialist vows to redistribute wealth and start a national airline, but it also promises to promote the rule of law, respect the division of government power and "reestablish public ethics and combat corruption and the squandering of public funds."

This pledge to govern with "honesty" seems to have been a deciding factor for many who associated Ms. Fujimori's father with graft. On election night, as it began to look like Mr. Humala had won, his spokesman told the world that private property would be respected.

Perhaps it will. The last decade has seen two kinds of left-wing populists come to power in Latin America. Those in the mold of Hugo Chávez—in Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia—have politicized their economies and undermined democratic institutions to enhance their power. On the other hand, Brazil's Lula da Silva and Peru's current President Alan Garcia also had hard-left resumes, but they came to understand that free markets and property rights are crucial for growth that reduces poverty. Mr. Humala will now make his choice.

25303  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO, Hillary, & Harold Koh working under the radar screen on: June 07, 2011, 11:50:01 PM
http://blogs.forbes.com/larrybell/2011/06/07/u-n-agreement-should-have-all-gun-owners-up-in-arms/
Larry Bell
Jun. 7 2011 - 2:04 pm
It may not come as surprising news to many of you that the United Nations doesn’t approve of our Second Amendment. Not one bit. And they very much hope to do something about it with help from some powerful American friends. Under the guise of a proposed global “Small Arms Treaty” premised to fight “terrorism”, “insurgency” and “international crime syndicates” you can be quite certain that an even more insidious threat is being targeted – our Constitutional right for law-abiding citizens to own and bear arms.
What, exactly, does the intended agreement entail?

While the terms have yet to be made public, if passed by the U.N. and ratified by our Senate, it will almost certainly force the U.S. to:

Enact tougher licensing requirements, creating additional bureaucratic red tape for legal firearms ownership.
Confiscate and destroy all “unauthorized” civilian firearms (exempting those owned by our government of course).
Ban the trade, sale and private ownership of all semi-automatic weapons (any that have magazines even though they still operate in the same one trigger pull – one single “bang” manner as revolvers, a simple fact the ant-gun media never seem to grasp).
Create an international gun registry, clearly setting the stage for full-scale gun confiscation.
In short, overriding our national sovereignty, and in the process, providing license for the federal government to assert preemptive powers over state regulatory powers guaranteed by the Tenth Amendment in addition to our Second Amendment rights
Have no doubt that this plan is very real, with strong Obama administration support. In January 2010 the U.S. joined 152 other countries in endorsing a U.N. Arms Treaty Resolution that will establish a 2012 conference to draft a blueprint for enactment. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has pledged to push for Senate ratification.

Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton has cautioned gun owners to take this initiative seriously, stating that the U.N. “is trying to act as though this is really just a treaty about international arms trade between nation states, but there is no doubt that the real agenda here is domestic firearms control.”

More from contributor Larry Bell

Although professing to support the Second Amendment during her presidential election bid, Hillary Clinton is not generally known as a gun rights enthusiast. She has been a long-time activist for federal firearms licensing and registration, and a vigorous opponent of state Right-to-Carry laws. As a New York senator she ranked among the National Rifle Association’s worst “F”-rated gun banners who voted to support the sort of gunpoint disarmament that marked New Orleans’ rogue police actions against law-abiding gun owners in the anarchistic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

President Obama’s record on citizen gun rights doesn’t reflect much advocacy either. Consider for example his appointment of anti-gun rights former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels as an alternate U.S. representative to the U.N., and his choice of Andrew Traver who has worked to terminate civilian ownership of so-called “assault rifles” (another prejudicially meaningless gun term) to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Then, in a move unprecedented in American history, the Obama administration quietly banned the re-importation and sale of 850,000 collectable antique U.S.-manufactured M1 Garand and Carbine rifles that were left in South Korea following the Korean War. Developed in the 1930s, the venerable M1 Garand carried the U.S. through World War II, seeing action in every major battle.

As an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama was an aggressive advocate for expanding gun control laws, and even voted against legislation giving gun owners an affirmative defense when they use firearms to defend themselves and their families against home invaders and burglars. He also served on a 10-member board of directors of the radically activist anti-gun Joyce Foundation in Chicago during a period between 1998-2001when it contributed $18,326,183 in grants to anti-Second Amendment organizations.

If someone breaks into your home when you are there, which would you prefer to have close at hand: 1) a telephone to call 911, or 2) a loaded gun of respectable caliber? That’s a pretty easy question for me to answer. I am a long-time NRA member, concealed firearms license holder and a regular weekly recreational pistol shooter. And while I don’t ordinarily care to target anything that has a mother, will reluctantly make an exception should an urgent provocation arise. I also happen to enjoy the company of friends who hunt, as well as those, like myself, who share an abiding interest in American history and the firearms that influenced it.


There are many like me, and fewer of them would be alive today were it not for exercise of their gun rights. In fact law-abiding citizens in America used guns in self-defense 2.5 million times during 1993 (about 6,850 times per day), and actually shot and killed 2 1/2 times as many criminals as police did (1,527 to 606). Those civilian self-defense shootings resulted in less than 1/5th as many incidents as police where an innocent person was mistakenly identified as a criminal (2% versus 11%).

Just how effectively have gun bans worked to make citizens safer in other countries? Take the number of home break-ins while residents are present as an indication. In Canada and Britain, both with tough gun-control laws, nearly half of all burglaries occur when residents are present. But in the U.S. where many households are armed, only about 13% happen when someone is home.

Recognizing clear statistical benefit evidence, 41 states now allow competent, law-abiding adults to carry permitted or permit-exempt concealed handguns. As a result, crime rates in those states have typically fallen at least 10% in the year following enactment.

So the majority in our Senate is smart enough to realize that the U.N.’s gun-grab agenda is unconstitutional, politically suicidal for those who support it, and down-right idiotic—right? Let’s hope so, but not entirely count on it. While a few loyal Obama Democrats are truly “pro-gun”, many are loathe to vote against treaties that carry the president’s international prestige, causing him embarrassment.

Also, don’t forget that Senate confirmation of anti-gun Obama nominee Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Many within the few who voted against her did so only because of massive grassroots pressure from constituents who take their Constitutional protections very seriously.

Now, more than ever, it’s imperative to stick by our guns in demanding that all Constitutional rights be preserved. If not, we will surely lose both.

25304  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: June 07, 2011, 09:35:00 PM
This is my understanding as well.
25305  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: States Rights on: June 07, 2011, 09:32:52 PM
OK, what about the Retained Sovereignty of the States?
25306  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: How to cut government spending on: June 07, 2011, 09:31:28 PM
Diagree.  Non-dsicretionary spending is only because some previous Congress said so and some previous president signed it.  We can do the same and make it descretionary again.

If you are not an activist president in this regard you will fail in solving the problem.
25307  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Stay or go? 2.0 and Stratfor on Russia and India's interests , , , on: June 07, 2011, 05:38:15 PM
YA, your thoughts on these two?  There seems to be considerable divergence between the two.
==========================================================================

By KIMBERLY KAGAN AND FREDERICK KAGAN
It's been 18 months since President Obama announced the Afghan troop surge, and now July 2011—the date at which he promised that a withdrawal would begin—is nearly upon us. Washington still hasn't decided whether withdrawals will be "modest," as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is encouraging, or more substantial, as leaks to the media suggest the White House may prefer. What's clear from Afghanistan, though, is that nothing about conditions on the ground justifies the withdrawal of any U.S. or coalition forces.

The fight is approaching its peak, progress remains fragile and under assault, and we need every soldier we have—U.S., coalition and Afghan—to maintain momentum. The risks of a small withdrawal (say, 5,000 troops) are probably manageable. But any such withdrawal would be driven by politics rather than strategy.

Progress in the fight is undeniable. Coalition forces have driven the Taliban from their major safe havens in southern Afghanistan and are continuing to press into lesser enemy strongholds. The Taliban have launched operations to retake the ground they have lost, but so far to no avail.

Their tactics, moreover, indicate their weakness. Having long eschewed suicide bombings and direct attacks against Afghan civilians for fear of alienating the population, the Taliban are increasingly carrying out such attacks. The attacks, in turn, are driving a wedge between the enemy and the population, a phenomenon we have seen in Iraq and elsewhere.

There is every reason to believe that coalition forces and their increasingly effective Afghan partners can hold the gains in the south through this fighting season (that is, until November). This would allow them to create meaningful security zones around all of the major population centers in the south for the first time since 2001, but only if they have the resources and the time to do it.

Aggressive operations have managed to preserve a great degree of security in Kabul and are slowly expanding out from there. But the enemy still has safe havens within eastern Afghanistan that must be cleared before they are turned over to Afghan responsibility. So must the Haqqani network—which operates from eastern Afghanistan and is closely linked to al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, with international aspirations—be defeated.

It hasn't been possible so far to undertake such clearing operations in the east because the surge was limited to about 30,000 troops. Without the full-force package requested by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commanders first had to focus on southern Afghanistan, which was in imminent danger of falling to the Taliban in 2009. Removing U.S. forces prematurely will deny the coalition and the Afghans the ability to shift their forces to eastern Afghanistan. Afghan security forces, although holding and fighting well, are not yet able to meet the Taliban threat on their own.

Above all, the Afghan population needs confidence before it really commits to resisting the Taliban and supporting the government. It can gain such confidence only by seeing that the coalition and Afghan forces will successfully fight off the coming Taliban counterattack.

A successful fighting season this year would permit decisive operations in eastern Afghanistan in 2012. The same rules will apply to those operations, however: If the coalition can clear remaining safe havens in the east in 2012, the enemy is likely to counterattack in 2013, and the coalition and the Afghans will have to defeat that counterattack to demonstrate to the local people that the insurgents have lost and are not coming back.

This timeline of operations is fully consistent with the 2014 deadline, announced by President Obama and the NATO allies in Lisbon last year, for transferring security control to the Afghans and reducing the American footprint to whatever is required for sustained training and counterterrorism operations. This timeline would also likely permit the beginning of substantial reductions in forces in 2013, assuming that progress continues in the south as we defeat enemy counterattacks in the east.

Pressure for withdrawal is driven largely by concerns about the U.S. budget, frustration with Afghanistan's government, anger at Pakistan, and irrational exuberance about the impact of Osama bin Laden's death. But bin Laden's death isn't significant to the situation on the ground in Afghanistan today because it has no meaningful effect on popular attitudes about the likelihood of insurgent victory or defeat.

As for the other problems, premature withdrawal will make them all worse. The Afghan government will behave more counterproductively the more it believes that the U.S. isn't serious about succeeding. The Pakistani military is much more likely to double down on its support for insurgent proxies in Afghanistan if Mr. Obama reinforces its decades-long conviction that America will inevitably abandon the region. And Pakistani failures to address terrorist bases on their own territory will be compounded by the re-emergence of such sanctuaries in Afghanistan.

The economic argument for withdrawing troops faster makes even less sense. The marginal savings of pulling an additional 5,000 or even 15,000 troops out of Afghanistan 12 or 18 months early is trivial compared to the cost of failure in this effort. If we defeat ourselves in Afghanistan now, we will have to choose later whether to accept likely attacks on the U.S. homeland or to intervene militarily once again—at a much higher price than we could hope to save now. Withdrawal is a penny-wise but pound-foolish approach to an enduring national security problem.

If Mr. Obama announces the withdrawal of all surge forces from Afghanistan in 2012, the war will likely be lost. Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and other global terrorist groups will almost certainly re-establish sanctuaries in Afghanistan. The Afghan state would likely collapse and the country would descend into ethnic civil war. The outcome of this policy would be far worse than Nixon's decision to accept defeat in Vietnam, for it would directly increase the threat to the American homeland.

Americans may be tired of war, but war is not tired of us. Thousands of people around the world wake up every morning and think about how to kill Americans and destroy the American way of life. Right now, we have the momentum against those enemies in Afghanistan. This is the time to press the fight.

Ms. Kagan is president of the Institute for the Study of War. Mr. Kagan is director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute. They have spent about 10 months in Afghanistan since 2009.

===============
Russia's Concern in a Post-U.S. Afghanistan

Russian National Security Adviser Nikolai Patrushev, while on a visit to the Indian capital Monday, said there was no military solution to the situation in Afghanistan. Patrushev, who is the former long-time head of the Russian Federal Security Service and the second most influential intelligence official after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, explained that the problems of terrorism and drug trafficking in the southwest Asian nation would continue without some sort of negotiated settlement in the country that could allow for socio-economic development. Afghan forces on their own could not accomplish such tasks, and Russia is willing to provide the necessary assistance, the secretary of the Kremlin’s National Security Council said.

“Knowing that the Americans are unlikely to achieve some form of political resolution before they leave Afghanistan, the Russians are trying to step in and find with regional players some enduring strategy in the otherwise dysfunctional country.”
Patrushev’s remarks reflect Moscow’s growing concerns at the increasingly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, especially as the United States and its NATO allies approach the endgame. The Americans have the choice of walking away from Afghanistan while it remains a threat, albeit one that is not so close to home. For the Russians, however, given their interests in Central Asia and the Caucuses, Afghanistan in a state of anarchy — or worse, dominated by the Taliban — represents a clear and present danger due to terrorism, drugs, and political and regional destabilization.

Knowing that the Americans are unlikely to achieve some form of political resolution before they leave Afghanistan, the Russians are trying to step in and find with regional players some enduring strategy in the otherwise dysfunctional country. India and Russia, along with Iran, share similar concerns, and have long been supportive of anti-Taliban forces. But each of these powers realizes that the Taliban are a reality and thus need to be contained through engagement.

Iran already has significant ties to the Afghan jihadist militia, cultivated over the years since the Taliban began their resurgence. The Russians also have their own connections, a legacy from their involvement in the 1980s. India remains the weak link in this chain because of its rivalry with Pakistan and Taliban linkages to Islamabad, despite its having the most overt business relationship, and a recently announced training deal with Afghan security forces.

The Russians, who have been in communication with the Pakistanis, especially as U.S.-Pakistani relations have suffered, understand the need to work with Islamabad. This would explain Patrushev’s statement that the joint fight against terrorism could help normalize relations between India and Pakistan. “India and Pakistan have specific relations, and we do not see it as our role to try to change them,” he said. “However, there is a threat which affects everyone, international terrorism, and there is an understanding by the sides that this needs to be resolved together.”

However, the Indian-Pakistani rivalry is not the only thing that Russia has to be concerned about vis-a-vis Afghanistan. U.S. influence on the Indians has created a disconnect between India and Iran, preventing India from being able to purchase crude from Tehran. Tightening U.S.-led measures against doing business with the Iranians has left the Indians without a means by which to pay for the crude.

In the past couple of days there have been reports that Saudi Arabia is willing to make up for the amount of oil that the Indians have not been getting from Iran due to American-led sanctions. It is not clear if India can use Saudi Arabia to substitute this shortfall, but it creates problems between India and Iran as Tehran is at loggerheads with both Washington and Riyadh.

As Russia gets more nervous about what will come from the aftermath of the U.S. pullout in Afghanistan, it will seek assistance to engineer some direction in the country. Ultimately, if the Russians are to come up with a way to deal with Afghanistan, then they must have reach a consensus with the key regional players, especially Pakistan and Iran — the two countries with the most influence in Afghanistan and with problems with India.

25308  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ Epstein & Loyola: States Rights challenge to Obamacare on: June 07, 2011, 05:22:19 PM

By RICHARD A. EPSTEIN And MARIO LOYOLA
The constitutional battle over ObamaCare has largely focused on the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Namely, does forcing individuals to buy health insurance violate the commerce clause? But as the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals prepares to hear Florida v. United States, a second issue is of equal importance: Was District Court Judge Roger Vinson correct to rule that the federal government can force states to expand their Medicaid programs as a precondition for continuing to receive matching federal funds for the program?

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, states have a choice: Expand their Medicaid rolls or bear the full cost of caring for their state's current Medicaid population, while continuing to subsidize the Medicaid programs of other states. The constitutional danger of such a scheme has long been recognized. In 1936, the Supreme Court warned in U.S. v. Butler that if conditional federal grants were not restrained, the taxing and spending power "could become the instrument for the total subversion of the governmental powers reserved to the individual states."

And yet the government is comparing this Medicaid requirement to a "voluntary" contract. Does anyone believe that a person is entitled "voluntarily" to continue his journey so long as he pays for all poor people who use the roads? The government's action is plainly coercive because it necessarily conditions the exercise of one right upon the conscious surrender of a second.

VUnfortunately, the Supreme Court's decision in South Dakota v. Dole (1987) confused matters. Dole let Congress condition 5% of federal highway funds on the states raising their drinking age to 21. The Court argued that this modest penalty was mere persuasion—not coercion—but cautioned that "in some circumstances, the financial inducement offered by Congress might be so coercive as to pass the point at which 'pressure turns into compulsion.'"

The question, then, is where that point is. Judge Vinson denied that any such point exists because the federal courts have routinely ignored the Court's warning in Dole by approving virtually every conditional federal grant program—no matter how intrusive.

The reason why the analysis in Dole has failed to offer any protection for state autonomy is that it is fundamentally wrong to think of coercion as a matter of degree. The government always engages in coercion when it taxes away money from the citizens of several states, only to return it to those states that abide by certain conditions.

The Medicaid provision of ObamaCare spells the death knell to competition among the states. States cannot function as "laboratories of democracy"—as the 10th Amendment intended—if the federal government can use its power to tax and spend to bludgeon all states into conformity.

In New York v. United States (1992), the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government cannot require state governments to take ownership of nuclear waste that citizens could not otherwise dispose of safely. And in Printz v. United States (1997), the Court held that the U.S. could not compel local law enforcement officers to conduct background checks on prospective handgun owners without their consent, because such commandeering of state public officials is contrary to the federal structure of our Constitution.

In neither New York nor Printz did the result turn on the "level" of coercion, nor should it do so in the current case. The constant backdrop of the federal taxing power makes a mockery of the claim that state participation under ObamaCare is voluntary. The only way to prevent this grave intrusion on state autonomy is to strike down the Medicaid provisions of the health-reform law.

Mr. Epstein is a professor of law at New York University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. Mr. Loyola is director of the Center for Tenth Amendment Studies at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which filed an amicus brief in Florida v. United States
25309  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iranian Subs in Red Sea and Iran's play for the mid-east on: June 07, 2011, 05:03:30 PM
Iran has reportedly deployed submarines to the Red Sea in what appears to be another highly symbolic and low-cost power projection move. The timing of this deployment comes at a particularly tense time in the region, but if you take a hard look at Iranian capabilities beyond the symbolic actions and rhetoric, you’ll find that Iran is still facing a number of very large limitations.

Iran state-run Fars News Agency reported today that Iranian submarines have made their way to the Red Sea and are being accompanied by the Iranian navy’s 14th fleet. Now, we saw a similar move by the Iranians back in February when Iran deployed two warships through the Suez Canal on its way to Syria in the Mediterranean. That was the first such deployment since 1979.

The U.S. response to these Iranian military maneuvers has been pretty consistent and can be summed up in as many words as “no big deal.” The United States is making a concerted effort to deny Iran the attention it’s seeking through these military posturing moves.

Obviously, Iran and has a big opportunity on its hands and are lying in wait to fill a power vacuum in Iraq once the U.S. leaves. The site of Sadrite militiamen marching through the streets of Baghdad sends a very powerful message by the Iranians to the Arab states as well as to the United States that it has militant proxies that are ready to go to war if the United States even thinks about extending its stay in Iraq. This is all about Iran calling dibs on the Mesopotamian sphere of influence.

At the same time, you have uprisings across the region creating very real problems for long-standing Arab monarchies. Bahrain is a prime example. Today, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, and I’m paraphrasing, that the real problem in Bahrain is not between the people and the rulers of Bahrain, it’s with the U.S. military presence in Bahrain. Ahmadinejad added that Iran has a formula for the settlement of the Bahraini crisis, but it would only introduce that formula when the conditions were ripe.

Ahmadinejad is issuing a very explicit ultimatum to the GCC states. Basically he’s saying, “Look, you guys have internal problems. You accuse us of meddling in your internal affairs and inflaming those internal problems. That may be the case but let’s talk and we can help make those problems go away. The price of that is going to be for you to kick the United States out.”

Now the real question is: does Iran have the leverage to be making these kinds of threats and ultimatums? Certainly, Iran has a robust set of nonconventional capabilities to bring to bear and we seen after Hezbollah in Lebanon, through its militant assets in Iraq and even through its links to the Shiite opposition in Bahrain. But the GCC states, much less the United States, are not entirely convinced that Iran has what it takes to reshape the politics of the region.

Therefore, even as Iran is trying to coerce its Arab neighbors and the United States to negotiate on its terms and reach a solution that would aim to recognize Iran’s sphere of influence while limiting U.S. influence in the region, the more likely effect is that the GCC states, along with the United States, will band together in search of ways to try to keep the Iranians contained.

25310  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Home on: June 07, 2011, 12:01:25 PM
Home Iyar 29, 5771 · June 2, 2011
By Tzvi Freeman


A home is more than a house,
it is a state of being.

A home provides space and shelter,
not just for bodies, but for the human spirit.

Who creates this space?
Mainly the woman.

As it says, "A woman's wisdom builds her home."


25311  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison, 1792 Universal Peace on: June 07, 2011, 11:14:35 AM
"A universal peace, it is to be feared, is in the catalogue of events, which will never exist but in the imaginations of visionary philosophers, or in the breasts of benevolent enthusiasts." --James Madison, essay in the National Gazette, 1792
25312  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / WSJ: MovNat (paleolithic training) on: June 07, 2011, 11:10:43 AM
A few times a week, Ret Taylor can be spotted dangling upside down from a tree branch about 20 feet in the air in New York's Central Park.

View Interactive

Brian Harkin for The Wall Street Journal
 
Ret Taylor lifts a found log while working out in Central Park.
."A lot of little old ladies stop and look concerned," he says.

The 32-year-old Mr. Taylor isn't channeling his grade-school jungle-gym skills. He's trying to mimic how our ancestors might have exercised before the advent of high-tech gyms and yoga studios.

Mr. Taylor was inspired by a program called MovNat, short for "Move Naturally," founded by France's Erwan Le Corre in 2008. The idea is simple: Turn nature into your gym. Get out in the sunlight and run in fresh air. Rocks become dumbbells and tree branches become pull-up bars.

..Before he embraced natural movement, the founder of R. E. Taylor Associates Inc., a sales and consulting firm for the hospitality furniture- and fixture-manufacturing industry, logged about 70 miles a week training for marathons and ultramarathons (races longer than 26.2 miles). After nearly seven years of marathon training, Mr. Taylor had developed plantar fasciitis, an irritation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot that causes heel pain. He also had constant pain in his shins.

In December, Mr. Taylor got a wake-up call after a pick-up basketball game with friends. "I had crazy blisters, and my legs were killing me," he says. Despite his prime cardiovascular shape, he realized the long-distance running only worked a few muscles. "If I wanted to be a well-rounded athlete, I had to focus more on the rest of my body," he says.

View Full Image

Brian Harkin for The Wall Street Journal
 
New York's Central Park serves as a fully equipped gym for Ret Taylor, who follows a workout style focused on natural movement.
.He had read a magazine article about MovNat a few weeks earlier and decided to give it a try.

Mr. Taylor hasn't missed a weekend of MovNat-inspired workouts since. About a month ago, Mr. Taylor formed a group on meetup.com called Natural Movement NYC. Now, about 20 people meet on weekends to run, jump and climb through Central Park.

He says his runner's aches have disappeared since he started natural-movement runs and cut his overall mileage.

The Workout
Mr. Taylor works out seven days a week, training each Saturday with the group in Central Park. His workout lasts two hours, but others might stay for less time. "But I'm there until the last person wants to be done," he says.

Au Naturel, or Almost
The fitness philosophy of natural movement combined with the buzz around Christopher McDougall's best-selling book "Born to Run" have spurred a growing curiosity about barefoot, or near-barefoot, running.

In turn, this has inspired a new category of running shoe known as minimalist or natural shoes. Minimalist shoes have a very slight heel and arch support and mimic the naked foot hitting the ground.

Runners say they like the new shoes' extremely light weight. The shoes also appeal to runners' desires to strengthen foot muscles, attain a more efficient running gait and cut the risk of injury.

John Pagliano, a runner, podiatrist and clinical professor at the Long Beach Memorial Medical Center Podiatric Surgery program in California, says the design of the minimalist shoes changes a runner's gait.

"The idea is that you run more forward on your foot, rather than back on your heel," he says. This prompts you to take shorter, more frequent strides and to land more softly than with conventional running shoes.

Whether that prevents injury or makes you faster is debatable. "There is no specific evidence that runners [using minimalist shoes] have fewer foot injuries or ankle sprains," he says. However, "there are some studies that show that barefoot conditions increased muscle strength," Dr. Pagliano adds.

Warren Greene, a Runner's World magazine editor known as the shoe guru, says starting out running too much, too soon in minimalist shoes can cause problems. "Most people will experience really bad calf or Achilles pain." He advises wearing minimalist shoes for short periods a few days a week before gradually ramping up the mileage.

Irene Davis, director of the Spaulding National Running Center at Harvard Medical School, says up to 75% of runners get injured each year from a running-related injury. "I believe we were designed to run so we shouldn't be getting injured at this rate," says Dr. Davis, who has been running barefoot since 2009 and hasn't had any injuries beyond a blister from hot pavement.

--Jen Murphy
.The group covers three to six miles of running, stopping every half mile or so for push-ups or crunches, often using objects in the park like they are gym equipment. "Every three minutes we're doing something else," he says, adding each person works at his or her own pace. "I might do 12 pull-ups, and someone else might do 20, and someone else might do four."

Mr. Taylor works out the other six days a week on his own. Weekday mornings he jogs barefoot on a grassy area before doing sprints. He does a series of jumping jacks, high kicks, jump-rope intervals and push-ups. He also works out for an hour or two at night.

The Diet
Mr. Taylor says he eats fairly healthily now, but he has gradually been adopting the Paleo Diet, which is based on foods available to early humans. It focuses on protein, vegetables and fruit. "The idea is to think about what people had before agriculture," says Mr. Taylor. "So I stay away from sugar, salt, dairy and really anything you couldn't hunt or gather."

Gear
Rather than go barefoot, Mr. Taylor wears minimalist shoes that have a very slight heel and arch support. Mr. Taylor bought his Vibram FiveFingers shoes three years ago after reading the book, "Born to Run," about the Tarahumara, an indigenous people in Mexico famed for their barefoot long-distance running.

He eased his way into the minimalist shoes, starting with short runs on grass or gravel. "I could feel my feet getting stronger." He says they often inspire just as many inquisitive stares in the park as tree climbing.

Fitness Tip
"It's all about improvising and not knowing what's around the next corner. You can work anything into it, be it a bench or a curb or a staircase," Mr. Taylor says.

Write to Jen Murphy at workout@wsj.com

.View Full Image

Vibram
 
Vibram FiveFingers Bikila
.Vibram FiveFingers Bikila
$100; vibramfivefingers.com

The first of Vibram's 'toe shoes' for running has a 7 millimeter heel height. The shoe mimics being barefoot with a thin, flexible bottom and individually pocketed toes. Thin padding protects the ball of the foot.

.View Full Image

Reebok
 
Reebok RealFlex
.Reebok RealFlex
$89.98; reebok.com.

Reebok's first foray in the natural-movement category has 76 multidirectional rubber nodes built into the sole to give a near-barefoot feel. The heel is 20% lower to the ground than a traditional running shoe.

.View Full Image

New Balance
 
New Balance MT10 Minimus Trail
.New Balance MT10 Minimus Trail
$100; newbalance.com

This trail-running shoe was designed to be worn with or without socks. The shoes weigh 7.1 ounces. New Balance collaborated with Vibram to develop the shoes.

.View Full Image

Nike
 
Nike Free Run +2
.Nike Free Run +2
$90; nikerunning.com

The updated version of the original Nike Free, one of the first minimalist shoes, has an upper design inspired by the anatomy of the foot. Deep flex grooves along the outer sole allow a natural range of motion.

25313  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: June 07, 2011, 11:08:23 AM
Some good fights on the finals show of TUF I thought, though my recorder cut off just before that actual finals.  Great showing by Clay Guida!

Too bad about Lesnar's diverticulitis.  I disliked him before the TUF season began, and disliked him more as the season went by.  I would have liked to see Junior Dos Santos kick his ass.  Tis a thought without evidence beyond the curiosity of the timing, but I find myself wondering at the timing of the re-appearance of his diverticulitis , , ,  I read Lesnar as a bully and when a bully gets his ass thoroughly kicked as BL did by CV, the psychological implications for the bully's ego can be very challenging indeed.

Great face time for Erik Paulsen as the trainer for Team Lesnar!
25314  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The Palestinian Move on: June 07, 2011, 10:55:43 AM


   
The Palestinian Move
June 7, 2011


By George Friedman

A former head of Mossad, Meir Dagan, has publicly criticized the current Israeli government for a lack of flexibility, judgment and foresight, calling it “reckless and irresponsible” in the handling of Israel’s foreign and security policies. In various recent interviews and speeches, he has made it clear that he regards the decision to ignore the 2002 Saudi proposal for a peace settlement on the pre-1967 lines as a mistake and the focus on Iran as a diversion from the real issue — the likely recognition of an independent Palestinian state by a large segment of the international community, something Dagan considers a greater threat.

What is important in Dagan’s statements is that, having been head of Mossad from 2002 to 2010, he is not considered in any way to be ideologically inclined toward accommodation. When Dagan was selected by Ariel Sharon to be head of Mossad, Sharon told him that he wanted a Mossad with “a knife between its teeth.” There were charges that he was too aggressive, but rarely were there charges that he was too soft. Dagan was as much a member of the Israeli governing establishment as anyone. Therefore, his statements, and the statements of some other senior figures, represent a split not so much within Israel but within the Israeli national security establishment, which has been seen as being as hard-line as the Likud.

In addition, over the weekend, when pro-Palestinian demonstrators on the Golan Heights tried to force their way into Israeli-held territory, Israeli troops opened fire. Eleven protesters were killed in the Golan, and six were killed in a separate but similar protest in the West Bank. The demonstrations, like the Nakba-day protests, were clearly intended by the Syrians to redirect anti-government protests to some other issue. They were also meant to be a provocation, and the government in Damascus undoubtedly hoped that the Israelis would open fire. Dagan’s statements seem to point at this paradox. There are two factions that want an extremely aggressive Israeli security policy: the Israeli right and countries and militant proxies like Hamas that are actively hostile to Israel. The issue is which benefits more.


3 Strategic Phases

Last week we discussed Israeli strategy. This week I want us to consider Palestinian strategy and to try to understand how the Palestinians will respond to the current situation. There have been three strategies on Palestine. The first was from before the founding of Israel until 1967. In this period, the primary focus was not on the creation of a Palestinian state but on the destruction of Israel by existing Arab nation-states and the absorption of the territory into those states.

Just a few years before 1967, the Palestine Liberation Army (PLO) came into existence, and after Israel’s victory in the June 1967 war, the Arab nations began to change their stance from simply the destruction of Israel and absorption of the territories into existing nation-states to the creation of an independent Palestinian state. The PLO strategy at this time was a dual track divided between political and paramilitary operations and included terrorist attacks in both Israel and Europe. The political track tried to position the PLO as being open to a negotiated state, while the terrorist track tried to make the PLO seem extremely dangerous in order to motivate other nations, particularly European nations, to pressure Israel on the political track.

The weakness of this strategy was that the political track lost credibility as the terrorist track became bound up with late Cold-War intrigues involving European terrorist groups like Italy’s Red Brigade or Germany’s Red Army Faction. Their networks ranged from the Irish Republican Army to the Basque terrorist group ETA to Soviet bloc intelligence services. The PLO was seen as a threat to Europe on many levels as well as a threat to the Arab royal houses that they tried to undermine.

For the Palestinians, the most significant loss was the decision by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to shift from the Soviet alliance and make peace with Israel. This isolated the Palestinian movement from any significant regional support and made it dependent on the Soviets. With the Cold War winding down, the PLO became an orphan, losing its sponsorship from the Soviets as it had lost Jordanian and Egyptian support in the 1970s. Two main tendencies developed during this second phase. The first was the emergence of Hamas, a radically new sort of Palestinian movement since it was neither secular nor socialist but religious. The second was the rise of the internal insurrection, or intifada, which, coupled with suicide bombings and rocket fire from Gaza as well as from Hezbollah in Lebanon, was designed to increase the cost of insurrection to the Israelis while generating support for the Palestinians.

Ultimately, the split between Hamas and Fatah, the dominant faction of the PLO that had morphed into the Palestinian National Authority, was the most significant aspect of the third strategic phase. Essentially, the Palestinians were simultaneously waging a civil war with each other while trying to organize resistance to Israel. This is not as odd as it appears. The Palestinians had always fought one another while they fought common enemies, and revolutionary organizations are frequently split. But the Hamas-Fatah split undermined the credibility of the resistance in two ways. First, there were times in which one or the other faction was prepared to share intelligence with the Israelis to gain an advantage over the other. Second, and more important, the Palestinians had no coherent goal, nor did anyone have the ability to negotiate on their behalf. Should Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas engage in negotiations with Israel he could not deliver Hamas, so the whole point of negotiations was limited. Indeed, negotiations were likely to weaken the Palestinians by exacerbating intra-communal tensions.


Post Cold-War Weakness

One of the significant problems the Palestinians had always had was the hostility of the Arab world to their cause, a matter insufficiently discussed. The Egyptians spent this period opposed to Hamas as a threat to their regime. They participated in blockading Gaza. The Jordanians hated Fatah, having long memories about the Black September rising in 1970 that almost destroyed the Hashemite regime. Having a population that is still predominantly Palestinian, the Hashemites fear the consequences of a Palestinian state. The Syrians have never been happy with the concept of an independent Palestinian state because they retain residual claims to all former Syrian provinces, including Lebanon, Israel and Jordan. When they invaded Lebanon in 1976, they were supporting Maronite Christians and trying to destroy the PLO. Finally, the constant attempts by Fatah and the PLO to overthrow the royal houses of Arabia — all of which failed — created massive mistrust between a number of Arab regimes and the fledgling Palestinian movement.

Therefore, the strategic position of the Palestinians has been extremely weak since the end of the Cold War. They have been able to put stress on Israel but not come anywhere close to endangering its survival or even forcing policies to change. Indeed, their actions tended to make Israel even more rigid. This did not displease the Palestinians as an outcome. The more rigid the Israelis were, the more intrusive they would be in the Palestinian community and the more both Fatah and Hamas could rely on Palestinian support for their policies. In a sense, the greatest threat to the Palestinian movement has always been the Palestinians losing interest in a Palestinian state in favor of increased economic wellbeing. The ability to force Israel to take aggressive measures increased public loyalty to each of the two groups. During a time of inherent civil conflict between the two, provoking Israel became a means of assuring support in the civil war.

From Israel’s point of view, so long as the suicide bombings were disrupted and Gaza was contained, they were in an extraordinarily secure position. The Arab states were indifferent or hostile (beyond public proclamations and donations that frequently wound up in European bank accounts); the United States was not prepared to press Israel more than formally; and the Europeans were not prepared to take any meaningful action because of the United States and the Arab countries. The Israelis had a problem but not one that ultimately threatened them. Even Iran’s attempt to meddle was of little consequence. Hezbollah was as much concerned with Lebanese politics as it was with fighting Israel, and Hamas would take money from anyone. In the end, Hamas did not want to become an Iranian pawn, and Fatah knew that Iran could be the end of it.

In a sense, the Palestinians have been in checkmate since the fall of the Soviet Union. They were divided, holding on to their public, dealing with a hostile Arab world and, except for the suicide bombings that frightened but did not weaken Israel, they had no levers to change the game. The Israeli view was that the status quo, which required no fundamental shifts of concessions, was satisfactory.


A New 4th Phase?

As we have said many times, the Arab Spring is a myth. Where there have been revolutions they have not been democratic, and where they have appeared democratic they have not been in any way mass movements capable of changing regimes. But what they have been in the past is not necessarily what they will be in the future. Certainly, this round has bought little democratic change, and I don’t think there will be much. But I can make assumptions that the Israeli government can’t afford to make.

One does not have to believe in the Arab Spring to see evolutions in which countries like Egypt change their positions on the Palestinians, as evidenced by Egypt’s decision to open the Rafah border crossing. In Egypt, as in other Arab countries, the Palestinian cause is popular. A government that would make no real concessions to its public could afford to make this concession, which costs the regime little and is an easy way to appease the crowds. With the exception of Jordan, which really does have to fear a Palestinian state, countries that were hostile to the Palestinians could be more supportive and states that had been minimally supportive could increase their support.

This is precisely what the Palestinians want, and the reason that Hamas and Fatah have signed a grudging agreement for unity. They see the risings in the Arab world as a historic opportunity to break out of the third phase into a new fourth phase. The ability to connect the Palestinian cause with regime preservation in the Arab world represents a remarkable opportunity. So Egypt could, at the same time, be repressive domestically — and even maintain the treaty with Israel — while dramatically increasing support for the Palestinians.

In doing that, two things happen: First, Europeans, who are important trading partners for Israel, might be prepared to support a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders in order to maintain relations in the Arab and Islamic world on an issue that is really of low cost to them. Second, the United States, fighting wars in the Islamic world and needing the support of intelligence services of Muslim states and stability in these countries, could support a peace treaty based on 1967 borders.

The key strategy that the Palestinians have adopted is that of provocation. The 2010 flotilla from Turkey presented a model: select an action that from the outside seems benign but will be perceived by the Israelis as threatening; orchestrate the event in a way that will maximize the chances for an Israeli action that will be seen as brutal; shape a narrative that makes the provocation seem benign; and use this narrative to undermine international support for the Israelis.

Given the rigid structure of Israeli policy, this strategy essentially puts the Palestinians or other groups in control of the Israeli response. The Palestinians understand Israeli limits, which are not dynamic and are predictable, and can trigger them at will. The more skillful they are, the more it will appear that they are the victims. And the conversation can shift from this particular action by Israel to the broader question of the Israeli occupation. With unrest in the Arab world, shifting evaluations of the situation in the West and a strategy that manages international perceptions and controls the tempo and type of events, the Palestinians have the opportunity to break out of the third phase.

Their deepest problem, of course, is the split between Hamas and Fatah, which merely has been papered over by their agreement. Essentially, Fatah supports a two-state solution and Hamas opposes it. And so long as Hamas opposes it, there can be no settlement. But Hamas, as part of this strategy, will do everything it can — aside from abandoning its position — to make it appear flexible on it. This will further build pressure on Israel.

How much pressure Israel can stand is something that will be found out and something Dagan warned about. But Israel has a superb countermove: accept some variation of the 1967 borders and force Hamas either to break with its principles and lose its support to an emergent group or openly blow apart the process. In other words, the Israelis can also pursue a strategy of provocation, in this case by giving the Palestinians what they want and betting that they will reject it. Of course, the problem with this strategy is that the Palestinians might accept the deal, with Hamas secretly intending to resume the war from a better position.

Israel’s bet has three possible outcomes. One is to hold the current position and be constantly manipulated into actions that isolate Israel. The second is to accept the concept of the 1967 borders and bet on the Palestinians rejecting it as they did with Bill Clinton. The third outcome, a dangerous one, is for the Palestinians to accept the deal and then double-cross the Israelis. But then if that happens, Israel has the alternative to return to the old borders.

In the end, this is not about the Israelis or the Palestinians. It is about the Palestinian relationship with the Arabs and Israel’s relationship with Europe and the United States. The Israelis want to isolate the Palestinians, and the Palestinians are trying to isolate the Israelis. At the moment, the Palestinians are doing better at this than the Israelis. The argument going on in Israel (and not with the peace movement) is how to respond. Benjamin Netanyahu wants to wait it out. Dagan is saying the risks are too high.

But on the Palestinian side, the real crisis will occur should Dagan win the debate. The center of gravity of Palestinian weakness is the inability to form a united front around the position that Israel has a right to exist. Some say it, some hint it and others reject it. An interesting gamble is to give the Palestinians what the Americans and Europeans are suggesting — modified 1967 borders. For Israel, the question is whether the risk of holding the present position is greater than the risk of a dramatic shift. For the Palestinians, the question is what they will do if there is a dramatic shift. The Palestinian dilemma is the more intense and interesting one — and an interesting opportunity for Israel.

 
25315  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Pawlenty announces budget, tax plan on: June 07, 2011, 10:35:16 AM


By PATRICK O'CONNOR
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty proposed significant reductions in the corporate and individual tax rates on Tuesday while calling for deep spending cuts that could see the federal government abandon its role delivering the mail or backstopping home loans.

The proposals are part of an economic plan Mr. Pawlenty unveiled in remarks at the University of Chicago business school. The plan is tailored to the business community and fiscal conservatives as he seeks the Republican presidential nomination, but its impact on the deficit is unclear, given the potential drop in tax revenue.

Mr. Pawlenty wants to reduce the corporate tax rate to 15% from 35% and create just two tax brackets for individuals and families: a 10% rate on the first $50,000 of income for individuals, or $100,000 for married couples, and a 25% rate for all other income. In addition, he will call for the elimination of taxes on capital gains, dividends, interest income and inheritance.

One challenge for Mr. Pawlenty is to show that his plan would not explode a deficit that is expected to top $1.6 trillion, given that cutting rates so steeply could prompt a falloff in tax revenues.

The plan could expose Mr. Pawlenty to criticism from Democrats or even rivals for the Republican presidential nomination who have all made deficit-reduction a hallmark of the primary fight.

Indeed, Democrats quickly made just that claim. "No one should be surprised that a failed former governor who left his state with a massive projected budget deficit in the billions of dollars is now proposing to massively explode the deficit at the federal level," said Brad Woodhouse, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee.

In order to offset any lost tax revenue, and to tackle the deficit, Mr. Pawlenty referred to something called "The Google Test" to determine whether the government should be involved in a program.

"If you can find a good or service on the Internet, then the federal government probably doesn't need to be doing it," Mr. Pawlenty says. "The post office, the government printing office, Amtrak, Fannie [Mae] and Freddie [Mac], were all built in a time in our country when the private sector did not adequately provide those products. That's no longer the case."

He calls on Congress to freeze spending at current levels and impound 5% of spending until the budget is balanced. "If they won't do it…I will," he said.

The former governor called for terminating all federal regulations, unless Congress votes to keep them individually.

Mr. Pawlenty didn't address any reforms to federal entitlement programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security—a major sticking point in federal negotiations over paring the deficit.

The proposals included in this platform would put Mr. Pawlenty on a collision course with President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats over the vision for government, if Republican primary voters give him that opportunity.

"Regrettably, President Obama is a champion practitioner of class warfare," Mr. Pawlenty said. "Elected with a call for unity and hope, he has spent three years dividing our nation, fanning the flames of class envy and resentment to deflect attention from his own failures and the economic hardship they have visited on America."

25316  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: June 07, 2011, 10:28:44 AM
Gentlemen:

It occurs to me that we already have a thread with many ideas on cutting spending, (see nearby) where I have just posted.  I would like to ask that we continue this conversation there so as to take advantage of the accumulated wisdom already to be found there.  As for the post already here, please feel free to repost them there or incorporate them by reference.
25317  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: How to cut government spending on: June 07, 2011, 10:23:18 AM
I'm going to answer BD's proposed budget on this thread, which, now that I think about it seems to me a better place for discussing his proposal (and the rest of ours to come no doubt  wink ) because it will encourage us to tap into what we already have on this thread:

BD writes:

"about 60% of the discretionary budget is military.  Therefore, we have to start there."

I have two major disagreements with this:

1) National Defense spending in my opinion is of a different category.  Indeed, in my opinion, it is the essence of non-discretionary.  If it needs to be spent, it should be apart from budegetary considerations.  If not, it shouldn't.

2) I disagree with the syllogism in and of itself.  The great majority of our problems are PRECISELY because of what we define as ENTITLEMENTS!!! (i.e. non-discretionary) and then mask with BASELINE BUDGETING.
25318  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: GBTV on: June 07, 2011, 05:28:07 AM


Glenn Beck is planning to charge his fans a monthly subscription for his daily talk show online starting this summer, as he makes the move from being a Fox News host to the owner of his own Internet network.

Glenn Beck's new Internet venture avoids violations of his exit agreement with Fox News.

On Tuesday, Mr. Beck will announce a first-of-its-kind effort to take a popular — but also fiercely polarizing — television show and turn it into its own subscription enterprise. It is an adaptation of the business models of both HBO and Netflix for one man’s personal brand — and a huge risk, as he and his staff members acknowledged in interviews in recent days.
“I think we might be a little early,” Mr. Beck said of his plan for the Internet network, called GBTV, which will cost $5 to $10. “But I’d rather be ahead of the pack than part of it.”

The business decision by Mr. Beck’s company, Mercury Radio Arts, hinges on an expectation that more and more people will figure out how to view online shows on their TV sets through set-top boxes and video game consoles — and that they will subscribe directly to their favorite brands.

Eventually, Mr. Beck said, his goal is to have an array of scripted and unscripted shows alongside his own daily show, which will simply be titled “Glenn Beck” and will run for two hours on weekday afternoons.

“If you’re a fan of Jon Stewart, you’re going to find something on GBTV that you’re going to enjoy,” Mr. Beck said. “If you’re a fan of ‘24,’ you’re going to find something on GBTV that you’re going to enjoy.”

What GBTV will not be, he and his associates emphasized, is a news channel.

Mr. Beck is leaving the Fox News Channel, a unit of the News Corporation, on June 30 after two and a half years of regular clashes with management. One Fox executive, Joel Cheatwood, is moving with him to GBTV; Mr. Cheatwood, who started at Mercury in April, will be the Internet network’s president for programming.

Mr. Cheatwood said he was attracted by the chance to pioneer “a different platform of media.” The Web, he said, “really is where the growth exists.”

GBTV will be accessible starting Tuesday when Mr. Beck talks about it on his three-hour radio show (which he will keep doing). One of its first features will be a behind-the-scenes show about the making of the network, somewhat akin to the behind-the-scenes show on Oprah Winfrey’s cable channel about the final season of her syndicated talk show.

Then, on Sept. 12, “Glenn Beck” will begin. The two-hour show will be scheduled for 5 p.m. Eastern time, the same time as Mr. Beck’s current show on Fox, putting him in direct competition with whoever replaces him at the cable news channel. But because it will stream only over the Internet, and not be shown on television, it is not a violation of his exit agreement with Fox. And Mr. Beck’s representatives note that the show will be available on-demand on the Internet, further reducing the competitive element.

The on-demand nature of an Internet network was one of the appeals to Mr. Beck and the president of Mercury, Chris Balfe.

Also appealing, Mr. Balfe said, was not having to worry about whether the shows that lead into and out of Mr. Beck’s show have “exactly the same sort of tone.” (That was perceived to be a problem at Fox, since Mr. Beck’s conservative sermons and speeches at 5 p.m. were followed by a straightforward political newscast at 6 p.m.)

The lead-in and lead-outs do not matter, Mr. Balfe said, because “we’re not trying to keep viewers, we’re trying to please subscribers.”

Mr. Beck pointed out another potential advantage: “It’s my network, so if I want the show to run 2 hours and 15 minutes one night, it will.”

Fox has declined to comment about what program or host will replace Mr. Beck in the 5 p.m. time slot.

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

(Page 2 of 2)



In 2009, Mr. Beck more than doubled the ratings in the time slot when he moved to Fox from HLN, a unit of Time Warner that was previously known as Headline News. But he also created many headaches for Fox, and the split, announced in April, was said to be mutual.

The exit agreement between Fox and Mr. Beck is so strict that his representatives said they could not talk about Fox in any detail. But Mr. Balfe said of the Internet network plan, “I think if we were still at Headline News at this point, we would have been thinking about leaving at the end of this deal and creating our own thing. This wasn’t about being at Fox, this was about doing something different.”
Earlier this year, at the same time Mr. Beck and his representatives considered starting a full-fledged Internet network, they considered taking over part or all of a cable channel. Mr. Balfe said some informal conversations about such a takeover took place this spring. He did not rule out such a move in the future, but there are no indications that Mr. Beck has any immediate television plans, beyond the occasional special.

To power GBTV, Mr. Beck’s company has teamed with MLB Advanced Media, the interactive arm of Major League Baseball, which streams hundreds of games to online users each year. It also has a deal with Clear Channel, its radio partner, to promote the online network.

GBTV will cost $4.95 a month for subscribers who want to watch only Mr. Beck’s two-hour show, and $9.95 a month for subscribers who want access to all of GBTV. “We want to create a network that has more than just Glenn’s show,” Mr. Balfe said, talking generally but ambitiously about acquiring scripted programming in the future — assuming enough subscribers sign up to justify the costs.

Richard Greenfield, a media analyst for BTIG Research who was briefed on Mercury’s plans, said that while “GBTV may sacrifice the near-term financial rewards that working in the traditional ecosystem provide, full ownership — no longer beholden to the content gatekeepers at the major media companies — and complete creative control to exploit content across all platforms globally could create far more value over time for Glenn and his company.”
25319  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Turkish charter schools on: June 07, 2011, 05:23:03 AM
According to POTH the Turkish charter schools in question are of a moderate form of Islam:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/07/education/07charter.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha2

I've read only the first of 7 pages so far.
25320  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More Project Gunrunner on: June 06, 2011, 10:13:14 PM

House Democrats Urge President to End Stonewalling on "Gunrunner"
Friday, June 03, 2011

Today, 31 U.S. House members -- all Democrats -- wrote to President Barack Obama, urging him to end Administration stonewalling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' "Project Gunrunner," and the "Fast and Furious" program under which border state dealers were encouraged to sell thousands of guns to suspicious buyers.

In the letter, spearheaded by Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa., the lawmakers called the investigative tactics "extremely troubling" and found the Justice Department's failure to provide information to congressional investigators "equally troubling." Saying that Americans deserve "prompt and complete answers," the letter concluded with a call for the administration to help "get to the bottom of this serious allegation of federal law enforcement misconduct."

To read the letter, click here [link to http://www.nraila.org/media/PDFs/Pro...S3June2011.pdf ] —and if your representative signed it, please be sure to thank him for taking this stand for strong congressional oversight of this disastrous program. 

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

CBS News has learned that the recent case of a Mexican military helicopter forced to land after it was fired upon is linked to the ATF Fast and Furious "gunwalker" operation.

Drug cartel suspects on the ground shot at Mexican government helicopters two weeks ago in western Mexico, forcing one chopper to land. Authorities seized more than 70 assault rifles and other weapons from the suspects.
===========


Among the seized weapons are guns sold to suspects as part of the ATF sting operation, sources say. That information came from traces of serial numbers.

"Shooting at an aircraft is a terrorist act," says one U.S. law enforcement source. "What does that say if we're helping Mexican drug cartels engage in acts of terror? That's appalling if we could have stopped those guns."

The Department of Justice provided no information or comment when asked about the incident by CBS News.
===========================
Congress set for first 'gunwalker' hearing



Quote:
The first in a series of Congressional hearings into the so-called "gunwalker" scandal is set for Monday, June 13th. The title:"Obstruction of Justice: Does the Justice Department Have to Respond to a Lawfully Issued and Valid Congressional Subpoena?"

As CBS News reported on April 1, the House Oversight Committee subpoenaed documents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). House investigators say that instead of complying with the subpoena, the Justice Department (which oversees ATF) showed them a "handful of highly redacted documents" and provided additional documents already in the public record.

"They didn't comply with terms of the subpoena," says a House oversight staffer. 
25321  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hi-speed or lo-speed departure on: June 06, 2011, 06:04:49 PM
Looks like the YA-Crafty Strategy is not under consideration:
===============================================
Stratfor

During the final visit of U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to Afghanistan the drawdown set to begin in July loomed large. The commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus is in the process of formulating his recommendations to the White House for those drawdowns. While Petraeus has insisted that these numbers are still being formulated internally, the idea of reductions of U.S. forces in the order of 3,000-5,000 have been discussed in recent weeks.

There are currently nearly 100,000 U.S. troops and some 40,000 additional allied forces in the country. Responsibility for security across the country is slated to be turned over to Afghan hands by 2014, at which point all combat forces are expected to be withdrawn. Reports have begun to emerge that the White House is considering more significant reductions. With the killing of Osama bin Laden, a symbolic event, and the very real movement of Gen. Petraeus to the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the White House has at least given itself more room to maneuver in terms of adjusting timetables and modifying objectives, especially as the costs of the war continue to mount. Vice President Joe Biden and others advocated since at least 2009 for a more counterterrorism-focused and training-focused mission that would entail fewer troops, less combat and a lighter footprint.

In the end a Pentagon push for the surge that took place won out. But either way, the pressure to show demonstrable gains in security in an increasingly short time continues to mount. It’s really all about a question of what is achievable and how much should be invested in achieving that. On the one hand, there’s a push to really roll back the Taliban under the current counterinsurgency-focused strategy and reshape the security environment in the country before the U.S. withdraws. On the other side are skeptics that this can really be achieved or that achieving it is really worth the price in blood and treasure that the United States and its allies have been paying. On both sides it’s about an exit strategy, it’s about a withdrawal. The question is the pace and the risk that the United States is willing to accept in terms of the security environment it leaves behind as it withdraws. In terms of the Afghan security forces the question is what is good enough and how much more can be achieved before the U.S. begins to pull back in a big way as the 2014 deadline nears.

Click for more videos

25322  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / D-Day Anniversary on: June 06, 2011, 05:34:41 PM
President Reagan nails it:  6/6/84

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/ronaldreaganddayaddress.html
25323  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: June 06, 2011, 01:38:41 PM
"No country upon earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings than United America. Wondrously strange, then, and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect the means and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to so plainly." --George Washington

Liberty

This is what bread and circuses get you"The president and his supporters call for tax increases as a means to cover the deficit, but higher tax revenues cannot eliminate the deficit. Controlling for inflation, federal tax revenue today is 23 times greater than it was in 1960, but congressional spending is 42 times greater. During the last half-century, except for five years, the nation has faced a federal budget deficit. It's just simple math. If tax revenues soar, but congressional spending soars more, budget deficits cannot be avoided. People ask what can be done to save our nation from decline. To ask that represents a misunderstanding of history and possibly a bit of arrogance. After all, how different are Americans from the Romans, Spaniards, French and the English? These were once mighty nations standing at the top of civilization. At the height of these nation's prosperity, no one would have predicted that they'd become third-rate nations, especially England. ... One chief causal factor for the decline of these former great nations is what has been described as 'bread and circuses,' where government spends money for the shallow and immediate wants of the population, and civic virtue all but disappears. For the past half-century, our nation has been doing precisely what brought down other great nations. We might have now reached the point of no return. If so, do we deserve it?" --economist Walter E. Williams

The Gipper
"With an emphasis on enterprise, investment, and work, on jobs and opportunity, we turned around economic decline and national malaise and set in motion one of the longest periods of peacetime economic growth and job creation in postwar history. The pundits ... told us that we couldn't expect to get anything accomplished, even before we got to Washington. Now, they're trying to bring the curtain down before the show is over. ... The notion that government controls, central planning, and bureaucracy can provide cost-free prosperity has now come and gone the way of the hula-hoop, the Nehru jackets, and the all-asparagus diet. Throughout the world the failure of socialism is evident." --Ronald Reagan

For the Record
"Can America's defense budget be cut? Yes. Unfortunately, President Obama is going about it exactly backwards. He has asked the Pentagon to identify $400 billion in savings. But coming up with an arbitrary figure and telling our military to find some way to hit it isn't the smart -- or safe -- way to make the necessary cuts. ... Never mind that cutting-edge weaponry is a key component to ensuring that our military is the best in the world. It's not simply next-generation programs that fall by the wayside. The military also tries to cuts costs by forgoing upgrades and by extending the life of equipment that might otherwise be replaced. ... Readiness aside, we're setting ourselves up for big expenses down the road when, eventually, we have to rebuild. It's happened before: in the 1980s, after the procurement holiday of the Carter years, and again after the post-Cold War cuts of the Clinton era. In the long run, we spend more than if we'd never made the cuts to begin with. And in the meantime, we grapple with an over-stretched military and needless vulnerabilities. ... Like any area of government, defense has waste that could be eliminated. But we need to start by taking a hard look at our defense programs... Mission first. Then cuts. That's the only way to ensure that we both spend wisely and keep ourselves safe." --Heritage Foundation president Ed Feulner

 
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 U.S. Marine Corps bandana
Semper Fi! Give your Marine a little something to tuck into a pocket or use as a headcover! Made from 100% cotton, bandana measures approximately 22" square.
 

Government
"More than two months ago, President Obama abruptly took the nation to war against Libya, a country that had not attacked us or threatened us. ... [P]residents of both parties have often trampled over their original limits, and Congress has usually let them. This has not gone over well with all lawmakers -- like the senator who said in 2007 that the president has no right to go to war on his own, barring an actual or potential attack. His name was Barack Obama. But President Obama has thoroughly repudiated the naive and simplistic notions voiced by Sen. Obama. ... A rare attempt by Congress to reassert its authority came in 1973, when it passed a law called the War Powers Resolution. It places mild restrictions on the president, requiring him to report to Congress when he puts American forces 'into hostilities.' If Congress doesn't give approval of the operation within 60 days, the law says, he has to bring it to a swift conclusion. But the 60th day came and went last month.... Can someone direct me to the provision of the Constitution that blesses 'limited military engagements' authorized by the White House in conjunction with NATO? Or the section in the War Powers Resolution that says, 'Invalid in cases when the president claims a national interest'? The Constitution says the president 'shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.' But when Obama executed this law, he did it with a firing squad." --columnist Steve Chapman

Opinion in Brief
"For tens of millions of Americans, Memorial Day is a time for remembrance of the huge sacrifices made by servicemen and women on the battlefield. The president did pay his respects in the morning, laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, but later in the day traveled to Fort Belvoir to play golf. ... Does it matter if the president chooses to play golf on Memorial Day, and for the second time in his presidency (he did so as well in 2009)? I think it does, and it displays extraordinarily bad judgment, not only by Obama himself but also by his advisers. ... President Obama is not just any American but Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces. The United States is currently engaged in a major war in Afghanistan with over 100,000 troops on the ground, and more than 1,500 have already laid down their lives for their country. The least the president can do on Memorial Day is spend the whole day with veterans and servicemen's families while acknowledging their sacrifice. ... The president's actions smack of poor taste, as well a lack of empathy and support for the US military, hardly the kind of leadership the White House should be projecting at a time of war." --columnist Nile Gardiner

Faith & Family
"For the first time in history, less than half of Americans now live in married-couple households. The new finding by the Census Bureau reflects the most profound change in the nature of American society ever to have occurred, yet practically no one talks about it. Only 48 percent of American households are made up of married couples. ... What all this means is that increasing numbers of children are growing up without two parents, and few policymakers seem to care, even though the societal consequences bode ill for the future. Myriad studies have documented that children who grow up without two parents are more likely to do worse in school, drop out, commit crimes, and earn less during their lifetimes than those who are raised with both parents, even adjusting for economic status and race. They are also far less likely to have stable relationships and marriages as adults, thus fueling the cycle of marriage breakdown. Perhaps the most alarming result of this family breakdown comes from a new analysis of longitudinal data from a large cohort of young children -- primarily bright, white children born to middle-class and affluent parents -- who were followed throughout their lives. The study found that even relatively privileged children suffered when their parents divorced. ... In the end, it's the children who pay for the devastating effects of divorce. It's time we start putting our kids first." --columnist Linda Chavez


Culture
"Take the 'tea parties,' which have been accused of racism by the NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus, mainstream media outlets and entertainer-activists such as Janeane Garofalo, who proclaimed they are 'about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up.' So, after nearly two years of 'experts' telling us that the typical tea party member is two holes in a white sheet shy of being a Klansman, guess who is arguably the most popular tea party candidate for president? Herman Cain, a black businessman. Perhaps the most telling sign of the changing racial landscape comes with voting patterns, though not at the ballot box. Blacks -- particularly among the young and educated -- are voting with their feet by leaving cities like New York, Chicago and Detroit in huge numbers and moving to places like Atlanta, Charlotte and Dallas. Clement Price, a Rutgers history professor, told the New York Times, 'The black urban experience has essentially lost its appeal with blacks in America.' ... For years, liberals have glibly smeared the GOP as racist because it is disproportionately Southern. Obviously there are historical reasons behind the charge, but in 2011? If the region is so racist, why are blacks so eager to flee to the less 'progressive' South?" --columnist Jonah Goldberg

25324  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Attacks on Michele Bachman's credibility on: June 06, 2011, 01:34:09 PM


http://www.factcheck.org/tag/michele-bachmann/
http://www.politifact.com/personalities/michele-bachmann/
25325  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 06, 2011, 01:26:50 PM
Although this is obviously of intense interest to Israel, would you please post this in either the Iran thread or the Nuclear War thread?  TIA
25326  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Economic Rapture? on: June 06, 2011, 01:25:16 PM
Economic Rapture? To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 6/6/2011


Radio-host Harold Camping predicted the Biblical end-times (specifically, the “rapture’) would begin on May 21st. Forget the theological meaning of all this. For most people, Camping’s prediction was simplified to mean the "end of the world" as we know it. Obviously, that did not happen.  Or, did it?

Let’s imagine that the world really did end. Let’s imagine that we’re now living in an artificial world. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is making the sun rise with monetary policy. Federal spending is generating oxygen and enormous increases in federal debt are making water. Everything seems relatively normal, but it’s all ultimately just a mirage, created by artificial means, and it can't last forever.
 
Of course this is an extreme example, but that's what it seems many believe about the economy today.
 
It all goes back to 2008 when the economy crashed, supposedly all by itself, in what was called "the worst crisis since the Great Depression." The pundits said capitalism had failed. Many predicted the complete collapse of the economy, a worthless dollar, and a “new normal” – it was the “end of the world” as we knew it.
 
 And while the economy could be doing better, real GDP has expanded for seven straight quarters – we’re now in the eighth. Corporate profits are at a record; the S&P 500 is up 100% from the bottom; consumer spending is $450 billion above its pre-panic 2008 peak, and private sector payrolls have expanded for 15 straight months.
 
So, which is it – fake, or real? Did the economy crash and burn, only to be supported in an artificial state by government actions? Or, was all that “end of the world” talk a prediction that did not come true? Are all the same old real world things – like creative destruction, supply and demand, innovation, or trial and error – still happening like they always have?
 
If the former – the artificial state – then there is lots to worry about. QE2 will end this month. Stimulus spending has wound down and politicians are debating large spending reductions. The political class seems to have gotten “religion” about federal debt. In other words, to those in the artificial camp, things don’t look good.
 
In contrast, if the world really did not end back in 2008, if we are experiencing a relatively normal recovery, things look a great deal better. This is what we believe.
 
We do not believe that capitalism failed and that the world as we knew it is over. The crisis was caused by a failure of government policy. The bubble in housing was caused by low Fed rates and housing subsidies. The Panic of 2008 was caused by a set of misguided reactions to the bursting of that bubble (mark-to-market accounting and TARP).
 
In our view, quantitative easing has had little impact – the money supply (M1 or M2) is not expanding as rapidly as many think. Moreover, and this is key, the massive increase in government spending has been a drag on growth, not a boost. In other words, the end of quantitative easing, spending cuts and a new focus on government debt reduction are things to rejoice about.
 
We are not in the majority, nor are we ignoring our economic problems. We just believe the economy did not come to an end back in 2008 and we do not believe recent growth has been created artificially.
 
But a large, loud and sincere group is still convinced the economy is broken and fragile. They see the recent slowdown in economic growth – real GDP growth looks to be growing at only a 1.5% annual rate in Q2 – as another sign that it really has been the end of the economic world. Gloom and doom are back on the table.
 
Never mind that much of the slowdown is so obviously tied to temporary Japan-related disruptions in manufacturing and tornado-related dips in home building. That doesn’t matter if you really believe the end is near.
 
But, when we move through these temporary problems, when auto production overcomes the parts-related slowdown and spikes back up at about a 100% annual rate in Q3, real GDP will sharply accelerate again.
 
At that point, we suppose that those predicting the end of the economy will postpone their forecast once again.
25327  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / David Gordon says on: June 06, 2011, 11:26:51 AM
I brought this thread to David's attention and he is kind enough to share the following:

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

The stock market continues the price correction that began 2-4 May, worsened somewhat on Friday after the disappointing labor statistics released pre-opening. The S&P 500 E-min Futures/ES, now 1298, could drop to the 1285-1266 range over the course of this week.

And yet, and yet… empirical data sources – such as major sentiment surveys, put/call ratios, and liquidity measures – remain and continue to suggest that the market is closer to the end of a correction than the beginning (of one). With sentiment data in a relatively supportive position, I would continue to buy relatively strong positions and stocks that remain in respective wave-4s in anticipation of a climactic low over the next few sessions to week. iow, the market’s decline of the past 4-6 weeks, seemingly terrible on its surface, in fact nears its end on a price and time basis — and increasingly manifests as a positive pattern and setup, short and intermediate term. Frustrating short term, I am sure, but even a cursory glance would reveal the increasing abundance of long side opportunities.

A sprinkling of specifics...

25328  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Noah Webster 1788 on: June 06, 2011, 08:29:18 AM
"Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country." --Noah Webster, On the Education of Youth in America, 1788

25329  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: June 06, 2011, 08:23:45 AM
I dislike the term "crony capitalism".  The correct name IMHO is economic fascism and using the word "capitalism" in this context helps smear the name. 

"With secured debt, the creditor’s rights are determined during the bankruptcy process and vary with the realized liquidation value of the collateral. Secured creditors are subject to dilution in bankruptcy at the Court's discretion."

Citation for this JDN?  I thought "secured" meant "secured".

25330  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 06, 2011, 08:15:39 AM
Gentlemen:  Please take this to the US-China thread.  Thank you.
25331  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: June 05, 2011, 09:25:04 PM
"So, even under your plan, someone who sold meth to children would face having law enforcement serve a search warrant on his home and arrest him for dealing drugs?"

Give this man a cigar for reading comprehension! cheesy
25332  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: June 05, 2011, 09:22:44 PM
Over to you JDN grin
25333  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: June 05, 2011, 09:19:47 PM
That can be debated, but the point remains that your commentary about extending American C'l rights to outside the US was non-responsive.
25334  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / And a child shall lead them on: June 05, 2011, 06:54:29 PM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6ybwW8jqjs
25335  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: June 05, 2011, 06:49:24 PM
GM:

Regulated by whom?  State?  County? City?

How to get a prescription/referral?  Liability?  Law defines standards (e.g age, no liability for provider, etc)

Really, this is a matter for discussion by our elected officials, so I'm not going to get into all the details.  I've given a rough outline of what occurs to me off the top of my head to refute your imputations of meth to children and other childish arguments.

25336  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: June 05, 2011, 06:37:50 PM
JDN:  I would be very surprised if a secured loan could be interfered with.  Anyone have anything definitive on this?
25337  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: June 05, 2011, 06:35:22 PM
BBG as quoted by you on May 28:

 lot of inferences and suppositions here, but I think they are on to something. My guess is that, among other things, domestic spooks are tracking terror suspects via cell phone locational data, noting what other cells are proximate to suspects as they go about their day, then looking for patterns within that locational data post facto. This leads to a couple scary conclusions: first, if you find yourself stopped at a light next to a suspect of some sort, your locational data likely now has someone's interest piqued. Say you work at a college with several active Muslim organizations on it; there is likely no way not to end up next to someone who's phone is being tracked.

Secondly, there is no way these sorts of associational searches are being run in real time. That strongly implies that all "business record" (see below) locational data for all cell phones are being obtained and archived somewhere, with the situational searches run after the fact. If true that means ever citizen owning something with locational tracking ability has all their movements stored somewhere by who knows who, with who knows what kind of shelf life, accessible for who knows what reason, to who knows what end. Oversight would appear negligible in the vacuum within which all this is occurring. A massive infringement on constitutional protections as I understand them, in other words, one sure to be answered to some day.


25338  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: June 05, 2011, 02:30:06 PM
But our complaint concerns tracking us here in the US!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
25339  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: June 05, 2011, 02:27:36 PM
A "secured creditor" is a creditor who loan is secured by defined assets.  Period.

I suppose I could be wrong, but my clear understanding is that this is something that a bankruptcy judge cannot interfere with.  Period.   

Thought experiment.  Someone declares bankruptcy.  He has a home with a mortgage by a bank in which is in in default.  Do his other creditors get to take a piece of what the home sells for?
25340  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / June 30th on: June 05, 2011, 02:23:00 PM
Glen has announced that his last day on Fox will be June 30th.

I look forward to where he goes and what he does next! 

The Adventure continues!
25341  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: June 05, 2011, 12:16:52 PM
http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2011/05/31/ and http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2011/06/01/ on the race baiting tactics of the left
25342  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Friedman on: June 05, 2011, 12:03:24 PM


Colin: Attempts to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict have hit another brick wall. Nothing really new at that, but with instability all around Israel’s neighborhood, where does that leave Israel’s future?

Colin: Welcome to this special edition of Agenda on Israel. With me is George Friedman. George, picture a typical young couple who’ve just visited their siblings in Israel and finding a country that’s alone in a region of increasing turmoil and, to some extent, isolated from its traditional friends. After talking to strategists and having read a lot, including your book, what would they see as its medium-term future?

George: Well, in the medium term Israel is a very secure country. Its greatest threat of a full peripheral war in attacks of the Jordan River line and from Egypt aren’t there, even though there’s unrest in Egypt, even though it’s possible Egypt might up abrogate peace treaty. Egypt isn’t about the surge into the Sinai because they can’t. They’re heavily dependent on American contractors to maintain their military. They have primarily American military equipment; the Americans will turn off the spigot very quickly if the Egyptians become aggressive; Egypt can’t wage war I suspect for a generation. There could be an uprising in Israel but the Israelis are ultimately able to handle that. There have been two intifadas. A third is not to destabilize them. They had trouble dealing with Hezbollah to the north but they could manage them in the end. There is increasing diplomatic isolation but to a great extent that’s more paper than reality, so whether someone recognizes the Palestinian state or not doesn’t change the reality on the ground.

It’s in the long run, the very long run, that Israel has its greatest problem, which is that, in the end, Israel is exactly what it says it is - a very small country surrounded by enemies. Many Israelis draw from this conclusion that they must be vigilant, which is true, and fairly rigid in their foreign policy. The problem is that, as a small country surrounded by enemies, there may arise circumstances in which they will be unable to resist. They are heavily dependent on the United States to be willing to support them because in the end Israel’s national security requirements outstrip their national security capabilities. The United States must support them in an extreme case. Any country that’s dependent on another country for their long-term survival is always vulnerable to shifts in that country’s policy. The United States at the moment shows no inclination to shift its underlying policy toward Israel, but in any worst-case scenario, which is what military planning is about, you really can’t tell. You therefore have a situation in which, if the conservatives in Israel are correct and they say the Palestinians will never make peace, Israel is a small country and it is surrounded by enemies, you have now described a long-run picture of extreme danger.

Colin: Extreme danger?

George: Here is the paradox in Israel: those who feel that the Arabs are absolutely implacable and that Israel is small and vulnerable and therefore it must not change are really the ones who were painting the bleakest picture of the future of Israel because they’re simply asserting that in the long-run, no matter how weak they are and how implacable their enemies, they can resist and win. That’s an improbable outcome. And therefore the real problem that Israel has is this: in the long-run, if it reaches no accommodation with the Palestinians either because they won’t or because the Palestinians won’t, Israel faces an existential threat. Israel, as the Israelis like to say, has very little room for error, to which the answer is always inevitable that Israel will commit an error, either an error as being too weak or an error of being too assertive. The real crisis that Israel has is if you accept the premise that they are weak, small and surrounded by enemies, you have also basically said that given the margin of error, Israel is in mortal danger in the long-run. Therefore Israel must somehow redefine the game either becoming more powerful, and many point to its nuclear capability as being that power, although I don’t see it as useful as others do, or reaching some sort of more dynamic diplomatic relationship. Can Israel do that? It’s a question of domestic political politics. But again, and this is really important point I want to make, if you believe the position of someone like Avigdor Lieberman, who was the foreign minister and the most aggressive, if you will, who asserts most vigorously the implacability of the Arabs and the vulnerability of Israel, it seems to me that his foreign policy of rigidity is ultimately, at some point, going to get Israel in deep trouble.

Colin: You say the United States at present shows no inclination to shift its policy towards Israel, but in your new book, you say the two countries’ interests are diverging.

George: The United States has interests in the Middle East beyond Israel and that includes good relations with Muslim countries. And the United States sees what the administration wrongly calls the Arab Spring as an opportunity. Israel has a very different set of interests in terms of establishing their position on the West Bank and in building settlements. These are two countries with different interests; they have an underlying interest in common in resisting certain tendencies in the Islamic world but not in others. It’s a complex relationship. The United States has already pulled away from Israel, as president Obama’s speech really made clear, whatever he said afterwards. The Israelis certainly have pulled away from the United States. They are not prepared to follow the American lead on a whole bunch of issues. This is a divergent relationship and it has to be recognized.

In the end, I think the divergence in a relationship puts Israel in substantial danger. I think that in the end Israel is the lesser power that is going to have to accommodate itself to the United States. But Israel, on the one hand, seems not to think that it’s in that much danger and can afford this and, on the other hand, thinks it is in so much danger that it can’t afford any flexibility whatsoever. Either one of Israel’s positions leads it to the same place: a fairly inflexible foreign policy, which is a perfectly good idea unless you hit the margin of error and something goes terribly wrong. It’s interesting that those who believe that there’s a margin of error, a very small margin of error, for Israel are those who argue that they’re the safest by being the most rigid and assertive. That may be true but small margin of error could exist on both sides of the equation. It’s hard to predict where it is. The key is that there is a small margin of error and Israel, I think, makes it smaller by taking positions that alienate it from the United States, no matter how unreasonable the United States appears to be. Ultimately Israel needs the strategic reserve that the United States represents.

Colin: Is it then inevitable Israel has to resolve the Palestinian question or could it find some accommodation elsewhere?

George: Israel has reached an accommodation with its neighboring countries in spite of its inability to settle the Palestinian dispute. Egypt has a peace treaty, has had a peace treaty for over 30 years, and that’s a very viable one. Israel has a very close working relationship with a Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Israel has many allies inside of Lebanon. Israel even has a quiet understanding with the Syrians, or has had one, concerning Lebanon and Syria’s assertion of control over Hezbollah. It’s been a complex relationship. It’s not really a question of Israel not having decent relations with its neighbors. But the real problem is these relationships change. We have the possibility of Egypt changing its foreign policy. Many things can shift. The worst-case scenario for Israel would be a conventional war along its frontiers and simultaneously an uprising among the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and perhaps in Israel itself. That’s the worst-case scenario and a scenario that really is frightening because it’s one that is difficult for Israel to survive and certainly difficult to stop with nuclear weapons. What are you going to do with nuclear weapons? Even if you wipeout Cairo or Damascus, it’s very difficult to use them against armies because your own armies are so close to them. You really are in an interesting situation and that’s why the Palestinian issue, if it can be settled, needs to be settled. Israel is in the potential position, it’s not there now but in the potential position, where it’s facing significant foreign threats and a massive uprising simultaneously. It’s hard to imagine anything worse than that, and therefore finding some settlement with the Palestinians is in their interests. Of course it has to be remembered that for all the discussion of a settlement with the Palestinians, a substantial number of Palestinians adhere to Hamas. Hamas opposes the existence of the state of Israel. Hamas’ position on any sort of a settlement is that it’s only an interim settlement and in the long-run the conflict will continue. So it’s very difficult to understand how Israel creates a peace treaty with the Palestinians when the Palestinians are so widely divided between Fatah and Hamas and where Hamas commands so much respect among the Palestinians and where Hamas simply opposes the existence of Israel. In looking at all of this, whereas you can point to what Israel should do, you also have to point at what can it do when the question of the survival of Israel is not a principle that the Palestinians will accept. This does not mean that Israel doesn’t have a problem, that the solution is not a Palestinian state. The problem is that the Israelis have is the danger that arises if the Palestinians are as implacable as they appear to be. And if you have a massive political shift over the next generation in the states bordering Israel, then Israel is truly in a strategic bind.

25343  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: June 05, 2011, 11:10:54 AM
C'mon GM, you are too bright for this.  Our concern has been expressed in terms of American Constitutional rights.  Posting as if we are trying to extend American C'l rights to the whole planet is , , , tedious.
25344  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: June 05, 2011, 10:44:49 AM
So why the nonsense about non-Americans having Constitutional rights?
25345  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: More on anti-circumcission efforts in CA on: June 05, 2011, 10:43:37 AM


SANTA MONICA, Calif. — When a group of activists proposed banning circumcision in San Francisco last fall, many people simply brushed them aside. Even in that liberal seaside city, it seemed implausible that thousands of people would support an effort to outlaw an ancient ritual that Jews and Muslims believe fulfills a commandment issued by God.

But last month, the group collected the more than 7,100 signatures needed to get a measure on the fall ballot that would make it illegal to snip the foreskin of a minor within city limits. Now a similar effort is under way in Santa Monica to get such a measure on the ballot for November 2012.

If the anticircumcision activists (they prefer the term “intactivists”) have their way, cities across the country may be voting on whether to criminalize a practice that is common in many American hospitals. Activists say the measures would protect children from an unnecessary medical procedure, calling it “male genital mutilation.”

“This is the furthest we’ve gotten, and it is a huge step for us,” said Matthew Hess, an activist based in San Diego who wrote both bills.

Mr. Hess has created similar legislation for states across the country, but those measures never had much traction. Now he is fielding calls from people who want to organize similar movements in their cities.

“This is a conversation we are long overdue to have in this country,” he said. “The end goal for us is making cutting boys’ foreskin a federal crime.”

Jewish groups see the ballot measures as a very real threat, likening them to bans on circumcision that existed in Soviet-era Russia and Eastern Europe and in ancient Roman and Greek times. The circumcision of males is an inviolable requirement of Jewish law that dates back to Abraham’s circumcision of himself in the Book of Genesis.

They say the proposed ban is an assault on religious freedom that could have a widespread impact all over the country. Beyond the biblical, there are emotional connections: checking for circumcision was one of the ways Jewish children could be culled from their peers by Nazis and the czar’s armies.

“People are shocked that it has reached this level because there has never been this kind of a direct assault on a Jewish practice here,” said Marc Stern, associate general counsel for the American Jewish Committee, an advocacy group. “This is something that American Jews have always taken for granted — that something that was so contested elsewhere but here, we’re safe and we’re secure.”

Mr. Hess also writes an online comic book, “Foreskin Man,” with villains like “Monster Mohel.” On Friday, the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement saying the comic employed “grotesque anti-Semitic imagery.”

Jena Troutman, the mother of two young boys who is promoting the ballot measure in Santa Monica, said she did not think of herself as a crusader against religion. Instead, she views her work as a chance to educate would-be parents against a procedure that “can really do serious damage to the child.”

“I am just a mom trying to save the little babies,” Ms. Troutman said. “I’d rather be on the beach, but nobody is talking about this, so I have to.”

Ms. Troutman has run the Web site wholebabyrevolution.com for two years, and she is fond of rattling off sayings like “Your baby is perfect, no snipping required.” Well versed in the stories of circumcisions gone awry, she said the recent death of a New York City toddler who was circumcised at a hospital convinced her that she should push for the ballot measure.

Ms. Troutman, who has worked as a lactation educator and a doula, said she often approached women on the beach to warn them about the dangers of circumcising, but she has declined to answer questions about her own children.

Although precise numbers are not known, several studies have indicated that circumcision rates have been declining in the United States for the past several years and now range from 30 percent to 50 percent of all male infants.

Many medical groups take a neutral approach, saying that the practice is not harmful and that there is not enough scientific evidence to conclude that it is necessary, and leave the decision to parents and their doctor. Several studies have linked circumcision with a reduction in the spread of H.I.V. Roughly half of the 694 baby boys born in the Santa Monica-U.C.L.A. Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital in 2010 were circumcised before they left the hospital, officials there said.

Dr. David Baron, a family physician, certified mohel — someone who performs ritual circumcision — and former chief of staff at Santa Monica-U.C.L.A., said that he would not press any parent to circumcise a son but that he viewed the effort to ban the procedure as “ridiculous and dishonest.”

“To say it is mutilation is wrong from the get-go,” Dr. Baron said. “It is a perfectly valid decision to say that it is not what you want for your child. Any doctor who says it is needed is not being honest, but to say that it needs to be banned is shocking.”

If the ballot measure passed, it would certainly face legal challenges. But several legal experts said it was far from certain that it would be struck down in a court. Ms. Troutman said she considered putting religious exemptions in the measure, but then decided, “Why should only some babies be protected?”

Rabbi Yehuda Lebovics, an Orthodox mohel based in Los Angeles who says he has performed some 20,000 circumcisions over several decades, said he often had to soothe nervous mothers.

“I am now doing the sons of the boys I did 30 years ago,” Rabbi Lebovics said. “So I turn to the new mother and ask, ‘Do you have any complaints in the way it turned out?’ ”

25346  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Bob Doll is bullish on America on: June 04, 2011, 11:07:36 PM
By JAMES FREEMAN
It's been a dreary week for economic news: slow job creation, falling home prices, lagging auto and consumer sales, and a sell-off in stocks. So it seems like a good moment to check in with one of Wall Street's leading perma-optimists, BlackRock Chief Equity Strategist Bob Doll, to see if he's still bullish on America.

To my considerable relief, he doesn't disappoint. "Credit markets are sound. Money growth is good," says Mr. Doll, whose optimism has been the right market call since March 9, 2009, when stocks hit their post-crisis lows. The Dow has since risen more than 85%, and Mr. Doll expects the slow economic expansion to continue.

As intriguing in this moment of U.S. pessimism is the 56-year-old uber-investor's long-term bullishness on American companies and U.S. competitiveness. "You could say we're the best house in a bad neighborhood," says the man who has spent 28 years managing money. "We have fewer problems and more solutions than Europe or Japan."

Mr. Doll is sitting in a conference room at one of BlackRock's two giant offices in midtown Manhattan. While his company remains obscure to most Americans, and has only existed since 1988, it is now the world's largest money manager.

Born as a subsidiary of the private equity firm Blackstone, the company went public in 1999 and after a series of mergers and acquisitions, BlackRock now keeps watch on more than $3.6 trillion of client money. Mr. Doll's job is to allocate almost $30 billion among shares of large U.S. corporations and to advise clients on the most compelling opportunities for equity investment.

Notably, his focus remains the United States, and he believes that the most important reason why America's house remains the nicest in the neighborhood of developed countries is that our family keeps getting bigger.

"Over the next 20 years, the U.S. work force is going to grow by 11%, Europe's going to fall by five, and Japan's going to fall by 17. This alone tells me the U.S. has a huge advantage over Europe and a bigger one over Japan for growth," he says. "And the reason for this is pretty simple. We have higher immigration than both of these, and we make more babies. We have a higher fertility rate. And they are the long-term determinants of population growth and therefore work force growth." Mr. Doll and his wife seem to be doing their part with three children.

But many Americans, whether they favor pundits on the right or the left, may have a hard time accepting that population growth and immigration are the keys to our prosperity. Mr. Doll explains the economics: "The long-term growth rate of any economy is the product of the change in the size of the work force multiplied by the productivity of the work force." Productivity is very hard to predict, he reports, but demographics is easy. "You count noses." And that tally shows a very healthy America.

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Christopher Serra
 .But doesn't Mr. Doll smell trouble on productivity? It rose just 1.3% in the first quarter compared to the same quarter last year. He says that U.S. productivity is "OK and better than lots of other places." This is a recurring theme of our discussion— that America is the least worst among the major developed economies.

Mr. Doll's optimism comes despite his skepticism about the last several years of heavy government intervention in the economy. His team at BlackRock calculated that, at most, half of the 2009 stimulus program was "true stimulus" for the economy. What about the rest? "Call your congressman and find out where the money went." More than a few readers may be tempted to call BlackRock and ask how they concluded that even half of it was spent effectively.

What about the impact of ObamaCare, the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, and the president's continuing advocacy of tax increases? "All three of them are retardants to growth," says Mr. Doll.

He also concedes that "we face formidable long-term structural problems that make the U.S. less attractive than it otherwise might be," and yet he has written in these pages about America remaining a "city upon a hill" in the vision of Puritan John Winthrop. Mr. Doll could be making the least inspiring case for American exceptionalism in the history of the republic. "You might say we win by default, which is not a fun way to win," he says.

But can we really win merely by staying ahead of Europe and Japan? So far the answer seems to be yes. People are invariably shocked when Mr. Doll tells them that in 1995 the U.S. produced roughly 25% of the world's goods and services and in 2010, after 15 years that included a tech bust, a terrorist attack and a housing bust that triggered a financial crisis, the U.S. was still producing that same 25% of global GDP.

How is this possible given the rapid rise of China and India? Mr. Doll says the increase in emerging markets' share of the world economy has come "at the expense of mostly Japan and a bit Europe. The U.S. has held its own, which I think is a statement of our ability to be productive in a tough world."

But an investor would still have more upside in developing countries than in the U.S., right? Mr. Doll says that if he were forced to lock up his money in one place for the next 10 or 20 years he would indeed select the developing world and specifically India over China.

China's population will grow only slightly faster than that of the U.S. between now and 2030, he says, whereas he expects India's population to increase 32%, suggesting robust GDP growth. "The one-child birth policy in China will eventually arrest the growth rate of China to a much smaller number."

But in the short run, Mr. Doll likes the U.S. equity market best of all and reports that this is where most of his personal investments are, largely in the funds he oversees. "The U.S. stock market and the U.S. economy are increasingly different animals. It used to be when U.S. economic growth went a certain direction, so did the stock market," because so much of the business done by these companies was domestic. But now 40% happens elsewhere. Mr. Doll estimates that, over the next five years, 70% of the incremental earnings growth of S&P 500 companies will come from outside the U.S.

Among the formidable U.S. companies that he thinks are attractively priced now are Applied Materials, which makes the machines that make computer chips, pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers, and Chevron. He also believes that Alcoa "fits the slowly expanding global economy," and he is "increasingly intrigued" by Microsoft, a "blue chip" tech company with a stagnant stock price.

Mr. Doll is less bullish on the future for U.S. jobs. "I hope the number is not as high as seven or eight [percent unemployment] but I think it's higher than five," he says. "Said differently, when I went to school, we studied that full employment was 3% unemployment and then I went into the work world and I never saw three. And I think with almost every passing cycle—for a lot of reasons, technology being cheaper and more reliable than most human beings, as an example—the structural unemployment rate slowly but surely has moved higher. And I think that continues. So I hope it's not seven or eight. I think it's a little lower than that, hopefully six or seven. . . . Sad but true. And that has political and social consequences that I don't think we even know what to do with yet."

Inflation will also be higher, though Mr. Doll doesn't expect the Fed to let it get out of hand. Regulation is still too much of a burden, especially on young companies trying to go public, he adds, and "We need a major overhaul of our tax system if we're going to create more incentives and more productivity."

But even with all our problems, he says, "I think the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the U.S." He argues that we are still the source of technological innovation and home to the greatest universities and the most creative businesses. He sees promising advances in health care and alternative energy technologies. By alternative he doesn't necessarily mean "green" energy, but simply new power sources given that he expects oil prices to keep rising.

Also, it should be noted that his outlook is premised on meaningful spending reductions in Washington. "I think we are moving in an austerity direction," he says. "Six months ago, no one had a plan that said, 'I'm going to be able to cut the deficit by X trillion over Y years." Now, with House passage of a bill by Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and the looming vote on the nation's debt limit, he hopefully notes that all sides are at least talking about "trillions over years."

Mr. Doll's optimism—or, more accurately, his lack of pessimism—has at times gotten the best of him, as in 2008. "We turned slightly to the negative side of neutral, but I never said, 'Get out,'" he recalls. "The severity and rapidity of the problems was beyond belief."

Now in 2011, his views may not strike anyone as wildly optimistic. But on Wall Street, Mr. Doll's sobering catalog of U.S. weaknesses is what passes for bullishness. With unemployment hitting 9.1%, Main Street can hardly be any more cheerful.

All of which suggests a political opportunity for someone who can present a credible plan to return to low unemployment and robust economic growth. Optimism about the future is implicit in America's high birth rate. Pundits may continue to try to convince voters to accept a new normal, but Americans are probably aiming higher than the best house in a bad neighborhood.

Mr. Freeman is assistant editor of The Journal's editorial page.

25347  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: June 04, 2011, 10:58:50 PM
Is that what we have been discussing?  I seem to have missed that , , ,
25348  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: President Chamberlin pressed to limit drone attacks on: June 04, 2011, 10:49:11 PM
WASHINGTON—Fissures have opened within the Obama administration over the drone program targeting militants in Pakistan, with the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan and some top military leaders pushing to rein in the Central Intelligence Agency's aggressive pace of strikes.

Such a move would roll back, at least temporarily, a program that President Barack Obama dramatically expanded soon after taking office, making it one of the U.S.'s main weapons against the Pakistan-based militants fighting coalition troops in Afghanistan.

The program has angered Pakistan, a key ally in the fight against Islamist militants. The debate over drones comes as the two sides try to repair relations badly frayed by the shooting deaths of two Pakistanis by CIA contractor Raymond Davis in January, a wave of particularly lethal drone strikes following Mr. Davis's release from Pakistani custody in March, and the clandestine U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2.

The White House National Security Council debated a slowdown in drone strikes in a meeting on Thursday, a U.S. official said. At the meeting, CIA Director Leon Panetta made the case for maintaining the current program, the official said, arguing that it remains the U.S.'s best weapon against al Qaeda and its allies.

The result of the meeting—the first high-level debate within the Obama administration over how aggressively to pursue the CIA's targeted-killing program—was a decision to continue the program as is for now, the U.S. official said.

Another official, who supports a slowdown, said the discussions about revamping the program would continue, alongside talks with Pakistan, which is lobbying to rein in the drone strikes.

Most U.S. officials, including those urging a slowdown, agree the CIA strikes using the pilotless aircraft have been one of Washington's most effective tools in the fight against militants hiding out in Pakistan. The weapons have killed some top al Qaeda and Taliban leaders and left militants off balance in a swath of mountainous territory along the Afghan border with Pakistan where they once operated with near impunity. No one in the administration is advocating an outright halt to the program.

 .Yet an increasingly prominent group of State Department and military officials now argue behind closed doors that the intense pace of the strikes aggravates an already troubled alliance with Pakistan and, ultimately, risks destabilizing the nuclear-armed country, said current and former officials familiar with the discussions.

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, backed by top military officers and other State Department officials, wants the strikes to be more judicious, and argues that Pakistan's views need to be given greater weight if the fight against militancy is to succeed, said current and former U.S. officials.

Defenders of the current drone program take umbrage at the suggestion that the program isn't judicious. "In this context, the phrase 'more judicious' is really code for 'let's appease Pakistani sensitivities,' " said a U.S. official. The CIA has already given Pakistani concerns greater weight in targeting decisions in recent months, the official added. Advocates of sustained strikes also argue that the current rift with the Pakistanis isn't going to be fixed by scaling back the program.

The debate has largely been muted until now, in part because the details of the program are classified and because drone strikes against militants have generally been popular with the White House and most Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

Pakistani officials have always publicly condemned the drone program; only in private have they consented to the campaign and acknowledged to having helped the CIA pinpoint targets.

Now Islamabad is lobbying Washington in public and private to curtail the strikes because of Pakistani complaints that they take a high civilian death toll.

Lt. Gen. Asif Yasin Malik, who commands Pakistani forces fighting militants in the country's northwest, said in an interview that drone strikes are making it harder to win allies among tribal leaders.

"It's a negative thing in my area of responsibility. It causes instability and impinges on my relationship with the local people," Gen. Malik said.

Advocates for reining in the program argue that the pace and scope of strikes have become politically unsustainable because of their unpopularity in Pakistan.

In a series of recent closed-door meetings, according to current and former U.S. officials, Ambassador Munter and some senior military officials argued that more selective targeting will maintain the strikes' effectiveness while easing the political blowback in Pakistan, making it easier for officials there to work with Washington.

"You can't take your foot off the gas completely—the drones have a suppressing effect on them," a U.S. official said of militant groups in the border areas. "On the other hand, the Pakistanis need some breathing space."

Pakistan has given some indications it would ramp up efforts to root out militants, following a renewed U.S. request to do so by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen during a visit to Pakistan last week.

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to discuss the covert program or any internal debate over its future.

"The president has issued a clear directive to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda, and the United States government is completely united behind that goal. I think the results speak for themselves," Mr. Vietor said.

The CIA's targeted killing program, ramped up by President George W. Bush in July 2008, was initially designed to target high-level al Qaeda leaders. Strikes averaged roughly one a week in the last half of 2008.

Mr. Obama has overseen a dramatic expansion of the program. The drones were originally used against specifically selected "high-value" targets, a list drawn up with Pakistani help.

But in the past year, the CIA has been targeting lower-level fighters after tracking their activities and movements.

The CIA last year conducted more than 100 strikes. The pace has slowed to roughly 30 in the first five months of 2011, partly over concerns about Pakistani reaction, a U.S. official said.

The latest drone strike came Friday, hitting three compounds in Pakistan's South Waziristan region and killing at least four people, according to an official familiar with the matter.

There is disagreement over how many civilian bystanders the strikes have killed. The Pakistanis say hundreds of civilians have died in the strikes, which is part of the reason they want them scaled back. The U.S. says 30 civilians have been slain. Both sides agree hundreds of militants have been killed.

The pushback by some U.S. officials against the drone program comes as U.S. diplomats and officials serving in Pakistan express dissatisfaction with what they see as the generally hostile tenor of the U.S.'s policy toward Pakistan.

These diplomats and officials say the deep vein of anti-Americanism that runs through Pakistani society forces its elected and military leaders, including army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, to distance themselves from Washington to avoid a popular backlash.

"What's worrying a lot of us is whether we're turning people who should be our natural allies into our adversaries," said a U.S. diplomat in Pakistan.

A senior U.S. official said the key is figuring out what level of drone strikes can satisfy U.S. security needs and at the same be tolerated by the Pakistanis. "I think we underestimate the importance of public opinion in Pakistan to our detriment," the official said. The Pakistanis have "a legitimate concern."

Islamabad has proposed narrowing the scope of the CIA program to target militants that have been agreed to by both sides, a Pakistani official said.

25349  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lara Logan speaks on: June 04, 2011, 04:51:28 PM


http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7364550n
25350  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: June 04, 2011, 04:43:08 PM
ROTFLMAO!!!  cheesy
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