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25301  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: April 28, 2010, 06:51:59 AM
Three Points of View: The United States, Pakistan and India
April 28, 2010




By Peter Zeihan

In recent weeks, STRATFOR has explored how the U.S. government has been seeing its interests in the Middle East and South Asia shift. When it comes down to it, the United States is interested in stability at the highest level — a sort of cold equilibrium among the region’s major players that prevents any one of them, or a coalition of them — from overpowering the others and projecting power outward.

One of al Qaeda’s goals when it attacked the United States in 2001 was bringing about exactly what the United States most wants to avoid. The group hoped to provoke Washington into blundering into the region, enraging populations living under what al Qaeda saw as Western puppet regimes to the extent that they would rise up and unite into a single, continent-spanning Islamic power. The United States so blundered, but the people did not so rise. A transcontinental Islamic caliphate simply was never realistic, no matter how bad the U.S. provocation.

Subsequent military campaigns have since gutted al Qaeda’s ability to plot extraregional attacks. Al Qaeda’s franchises remain dangerous, but the core group is not particularly threatening beyond its hideouts in the Afghan-Pakistani border region.

As for the region, nine years of war have left it much disrupted. When the United States launched its military at the region, there were three balances of power that kept the place stable (or at least self-contained) from the American point of view. All these balances are now faltering. We have already addressed the Iran-Iraq balance of power, which was completely destroyed following the American invasion in 2003. We will address the Israeli-Arab balance of power in the future. This week, we shall dive into the region’s third balance, one that closely borders what will soon be the single largest contingent of U.S. military forces overseas: the Indo-Pakistani balance of power.

Pakistan and the Evolution of U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan
U.S. strategy in Afghanistan has changed dramatically since 2001. The war began in the early morning hours — Pakistan time — after the Sept. 11 attacks. Then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell called up then-Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to inform him that he would be assisting the United States against al Qaeda, and if necessary, the Taliban. The key word there is “inform.” The White House had already spoken with — and obtained buy-in from — the leaders of Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, Israel and, most notably, India. Musharraf was not given a choice in the matter. It was made clear that if he refused assistance, the Americans would consider Pakistan part of the problem rather than part of the solution — all with the blessings of the international community.





(click here to enlarge image)
Islamabad was terrified — and with good reason; comply or refuse, the demise of Pakistan was an all-too-real potential outcome. The geography of Pakistan is extremely hostile. It is a desert country. What rain the country benefits from falls in the northern Indo-Pakistani border region, where the Himalayas wring moisture out of the monsoons. Those rains form the five rivers of the Greater Indus Valley, and irrigation works from those rivers turn dry areas green.

Accordingly, Pakistan is geographically and geopolitically doomed to perpetual struggle with poverty, instability and authoritarianism. This is because irrigated agriculture is far more expensive and labor-intensive than rain-fed agriculture. Irrigation drains the Indus’ tributaries such that the river is not navigable above Hyderabad, near the coast — drastically raising transport costs and inhibiting economic development. Reasonably well-watered mountains in the northwest guarantee an ethnically distinct population in those regions (the Pashtun), a resilient people prone to resisting the political power of the Punjabis in the Indus Basin. This, combined with the overpowering Indian military, results in a country with remarkably few options for generating capital even as it has remarkably high capital demands.

Islamabad’s one means of acquiring breathing room has involved co-opting the Pashtun population living in the mountainous northwestern periphery of the country. Governments before Musharraf had used Islamism to forge a common identity for these people, which not only included them as part of the Pakistani state (and so reduced their likelihood of rebellion) but also employed many of them as tools of foreign and military policy. Indeed, managing relationships with these disparate and peripheral ethnic populations allowed Pakistan to stabilize its own peripheral territory and to become the dominant outside power in Afghanistan as the Taliban (trained and equipped by Pakistan) took power after the Soviet withdrawal.

Thus, the Americans were ordering the Pakistanis on Sept. 12, 2001, to throw out the one strategy that allowed Pakistan to function. Pakistan complied not just out of fears of the Americans, but also out of fears of a potentially devastating U.S.-Indian alignment against Pakistan over the issue of Islamist terrorism in the wake of the Kashmiri militant attacks on the Indian parliament that almost led India and Pakistan to war in mid-2002. The Musharraf government hence complied, but only as much as it dared, given its own delicate position.

From the Pakistani point of view, things went downhill from there. Musharraf faced mounting opposition to his relationship with the Americans from the Pakistani public at large, from the army and intelligence staff who had forged relations with the militants and, of course, from the militants themselves. Pakistan’s halfhearted assistance to the Americans meant militants of all stripes — Afghan, Pakistani, Arab and others — were able to seek succor on the Pakistani side of the border, and then launch attacks against U.S. forces on the Afghan side of the border. The result was even more intense American political pressure on Pakistan to police its own militants and foreign militants seeking shelter there. Meanwhile, what assistance Pakistan did provide to the Americans led to the rise of a new batch of homegrown militants — the Pakistani Taliban — who sought to wreck the U.S.-Pakistani relationship by bringing down the government in Islamabad.

The Indian Perspective
The period between the Soviet collapse and the rise of the Taliban — the 1990s — saw India at a historical ebb in the power balance with Pakistan. The American reaction to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks changed all that. The U.S. military had eliminated Pakistan’s proxy government in Afghanistan, and ongoing American pressure was buckling the support structures that allowed Pakistan to function. So long as matters continued on this trajectory, New Delhi saw itself on track for a historically unprecedented dominance of the subcontinent.

But the American commitment to Afghanistan is not without its limits, and American pressure was not sustainable. At its heart, Afghanistan is a landlocked knot of arid mountains without the sort of sheltered, arable geography that is likely to give rise to a stable — much less economically viable — state. Any military reality that the Americans imposed would last only so long as U.S. forces remained in the country.

The alternative now being pursued is the current effort at Vietnamization of the conflict as a means of facilitating a full U.S. withdrawal. In order to keep the country from returning to the sort of anarchy that gave rise to al Qaeda, the United States needed a local power to oversee matters in Afghanistan. The only viable alternative — though the Americans had been berating it for years — was Pakistan.

If U.S. and Pakistan interests could be aligned, matters could fall into place rather quickly — and so they did once Islamabad realized the breadth and dangerous implications of its domestic insurgency. The five-year, $7.5 billion U.S. aid package to Pakistan approved in 2009 not only helped secure the arrangement, it likely reflects it. An unprecedented counterinsurgency and counterterrorism campaign conducted by the Pakistani military continues in the country’s tribal belt. While it has not focused on all the individuals and entities Washington might like, it has created real pressure on the Pakistani side of the border that has facilitated efforts on the Afghan side. For example, Islamabad has found a dramatic increase in American unmanned aerial vehicle strikes tolerable because at least some of those strikes are hitting Pakistani Taliban targets, as opposed to Afghan Taliban targets. The message is that certain rules cannot be broken without consequences.

Ultimately, with long experience bleeding the Soviets in Afghanistan, the United States was inherently wary of becoming involved in Afghanistan. In recent years, it has become all too clear how distant the prospect of a stable Afghanistan is. A tribal-ethnic balance of power overseen by Pakistan is another matter entirely, however. The great irony is that such a success could make the region look remarkably like it did on Sept. 10, 2001.

This would represent a reversal of India’s recent fortunes. In 10 years, India has gone from a historic low in the power balance with Pakistan to a historic high, watching U.S. support for Pakistan shift to pressure on Islamabad to do the kinds of things (if not the precise actions) India had long clamored for.

But now, U.S. and Pakistani interests not only appear aligned again, the two countries appear to be laying groundwork for the incorporation of elements of the Taliban into the Afghan state. The Indians are concerned that with American underwriting, the Pakistanis not only may be about to re-emerge as a major check on Indian ambitions, but in a form eerily familiar to the sort of state-militant partnership that so effectively limited Indian power in the past. They are right. The Indians also are concerned that Pakistani promises to the Americans about what sort of behavior militants in Afghanistan will be allowed to engage in will not sufficiently limit the militants’ activities — and in any event will do little to nothing to address the Kashmiri militant issue. Here, too, the Indians are probably right. The Americans want to leave — and if the price of departure is leaving behind an emboldened Pakistan supporting a militant structure that can target India, the Americans seem fine with making India pay that price.
25302  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Kettlebells y Artes Marciales on: April 28, 2010, 06:44:36 AM
Yo los uso de vez en cuando.
25303  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: April 28, 2010, 06:26:00 AM



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"On every question of construction carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, 1823
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"[T]he true key for the construction of everything doubtful in a law is the intention of the law-makers. This is most safely gathered from the words, but may be sought also in extraneous circumstances provided they do not contradict the express words of the law." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Albert Gallatin, 1808

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"The construction applied ... to those parts of the Constitution of the United States which delegate Congress a power ... ought not to be construed as themselves to give unlimited powers, nor a part to be so taken as to destroy the whole residue of that instrument." --Thomas Jefferson, Draft Kentucky Resolutions, 1798

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"[T]he Constitution ought to be the standard of construction for the laws, and that wherever there is an evident opposition, the laws ought to give place to the Constitution. But this doctrine is not deducible from any circumstance peculiar to the plan of convention, but from the general theory of a limited Constitution." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 81

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"What a glorious morning this is!" --Samuel Adams, to John Hancock at the Battle of Lexington, Massachusetts, 1775
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"The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it." --James Wilson, Of the Study of Law in the United States, 1790

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"The plain import of the clause is, that congress shall have all the incidental and instrumental powers, necessary and proper to carry into execution all the express powers. It neither enlarges any power specifically granted; nor is it a grant of any new power to congress. But it is merely a declaration for the removal of all uncertainty, that the means of carrying into execution those, otherwise granted, are included in the grant." --Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

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"All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth-that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid?" --Benjamin Franklin, To Colleagues at the Constitutional Convention
25304  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ron Paul on: April 28, 2010, 12:22:42 AM
What Ron Paul "corporatism" I call "fascism":

===============
Lately many have characterized this administration as socialist, or having strong socialist leanings. I differ with this characterization. This is not to say Mr. Obama believes in free-markets by any means. On the contrary, he has done and said much that demonstrates his fundamental misunderstanding and hostility towards the truly free market. But a closer, honest examination of his policies and actions in office reveals that, much like the previous administration, he is very much a corporatist. This in many ways can be more insidious and worse than being an outright socialist.

Socialism is a system where the government directly owns and manages businesses. Corporatism is a system where businesses are nominally in private hands, but are in fact controlled by the government. In a corporatist state, government officials often act in collusion with their favored business interests to design polices that give those interests a monopoly position, to the detriment of both competitors and consumers.

 
A careful examination of the policies pursued by the Obama administration and his allies in Congress shows that their agenda is corporatist. For example, the health care bill that recently passed does not establish a Canadian-style government-run single-payer health care system. Instead, it relies on mandates forcing every American to purchase private health insurance or pay a fine. It also includes subsidies for low-income Americans and government-run health care “exchanges.” Contrary to the claims of the proponents of the health care bill, large insurance and pharmaceutical companies were enthusiastic supporters of many provisions of this legislation because they knew in the end their bottom lines would be enriched by Obamacare.

 
Similarly, Obama's “cap-and-trade” legislation provides subsidies and specials privileges to large businesses that engage in “carbon trading.” This is why large corporations, such as General Electric support cap-and-trade.

To call the President a corporatist is not to soft-pedal criticism of his administration. It is merely a more accurate description of the President’s agenda.

When he is a called a socialist, the President and his defenders can easily deflect that charge by pointing out that the historical meaning of socialism is government ownership of industry; under the President’s policies, industry remains in nominally private hands. Using the more accurate term – corporatism – forces the President to defend his policies that increase government control of private industries and expand de facto subsidies to big businesses. This also promotes the understanding that though the current system may not be pure socialism, neither is it free-market since government controls the private sector through taxes, regulations, and subsidies, and has done so for decades.

Using precise terms can prevent future statists from successfully blaming the inevitable failure of their programs on the remnants of the free market that are still allowed to exist. We must not allow the disastrous results of corporatism to be ascribed incorrectly to free market capitalism or used as a justification for more government expansion. Most importantly, we must learn what freedom really is and educate others on how infringements on our economic liberties caused our economic woes in the first place. Government is the problem; it cannot be the solution.

See the Ron Paul File

April 27, 2010

Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

The Best of Ron Paul
25305  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: April 28, 2010, 12:14:19 AM
When push comes to shove, a fundamental question is whether one believes on the whole that people are assets or liabilities.  Certainly some people are clearly one or the other, but on the whole, are people assets or liabilities?

America has taken the tired, the huddled poor masses (messing up my quote here, sorry! embarassed ) and done wondrous things by applying the inspired principles of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.  Now that we veer off course into Liberal and Corporate Fascism, well things aren't working out so well.

Much of Europe's problems originate in its declining population, so too Russia, and a surprising list of many other countries too.  Without Latino birth rates, the US would be declining too.  Over loaded with entitlements and a shrinking (i.e. aging) population is a losing strategy for sure.  LETS PLEASE THINK ABOUT THIS AND OFFER OUR THOUGHTS.
25306  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: April 27, 2010, 07:37:12 AM
By AYAAN HIRSI ALI
'South Park" is hilarious, right? Not any more.

Last week, Zachary Adam Chesser—a 20-year-old Muslim convert who now goes by the name Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee—posted a warning on the Web site RevolutionMuslim.com following the 200th episode of the show on Comedy Central. The episode, which trotted out many celebrities the show has previously satirized, also "featured" the Prophet Muhammad: He was heard once from within a U-Haul truck and a second time from inside a bear costume.

For this apparent blasphemy, Mr. Amrikee warned that co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone "will probably end up" like Theo van Gogh. Van Gogh, readers will remember, was the Dutch filmmaker who was brutally murdered in 2004 on the streets of Amsterdam. He was killed for producing "Submission," a film that criticized the subordinate role of women in Islam, with me.

There has been some debate about whether Mr. Stone and Mr. Parker should view the Web posting as a direct threat. Here's Mr. Amrikee's perspective: "It's not a threat, but it really is a likely outcome," he told Foxnews.com. "They're going to be basically on a list in the back of the minds of a large number of Muslims. It's just the reality." He's also published the home and office addresses of Messrs. Stone and Parker, as well as images of Van Gogh's body.

According to First Amendment experts, technically speaking this posting does not constitute a threat. And general opinion seems to be that even if this posting was intended as a threat, Mr. Amrikee and his ilk are merely fringe extremists who are disgruntled with U.S. foreign policy; their "outrage" merits little attention.

This raises the question: How much harm can an Islamist fringe group do in a free society? The answer is a lot.

Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim first thought to have been a minor character in radical circles, killed Theo van Gogh. Only during the investigation did it emerge that he was the ringleader of the Hofstad Group, a terrorist organization that was being monitored by the Dutch Secret Service.

The story was very similar in the case of the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The cartoons, drawn by Kurt Westergaard, were published in September 2005 to little notice but exploded five months later into an international drama complete with riots and flag-burnings. The man behind this campaign of outrage was an Egyptian-born radical imam named Ahmed Abu-Laban.

Prior to this conflagration, Mr. Abu-Laban was seen as a marginal figure. Yet his campaign ended up costing Denmark businesses an estimated $170 million in the spring of 2006. And this doesn't include the cost of rebuilding destroyed property and protecting the cartoonists.

So how worried should the creators of "South Park" be about the "marginal figures" who now threaten them? Very. In essence, Mr. Amrikee's posting is an informal fatwa. Here's how it works:

There is a basic principle in Islamic scripture—unknown to most not-so-observant Muslims and most non-Muslims—called "commanding right and forbidding wrong." It obligates Muslim males to police behavior seen to be wrong and personally deal out the appropriate punishment as stated in scripture. In its mildest form, devout people give friendly advice to abstain from wrongdoing. Less mild is the practice whereby Afghan men feel empowered to beat women who are not veiled.

By publicizing the supposed sins of Messrs. Stone and Parker, Mr. Amrikee undoubtedly believes he is fulfilling his duty to command right and forbid wrong. His message is not just an opinion. It will appeal to like-minded individuals who, even though they are a minority, are a large and random enough group to carry out the divine punishment. The best illustration of this was demonstrated by the Somali man who broke into Mr. Westergaard's home in January carrying an axe and a knife.

Any Muslim, male or female, who knows about the "offense" may decide to perform the duty of killing those who insult the prophet. So what can be done to help Mr. Parker and Mr. Stone?

The first step is for them to consult with experts on how to stay safe. Even though living with protection, as I do now in Washington, D.C., curtails some of your freedom, it is better than risking the worst.

Much depends on how far the U.S. government is prepared to contribute to their protection. According to the Danish government, protecting Mr. Westergaard costs the taxpayers $3.9 million, excluding technical operating equipment. That's a tall order at a time of intense fiscal pressure.

One way of reducing the cost is to organize a solidarity campaign. The entertainment business, especially Hollywood, is one of the wealthiest and most powerful industries in the world. Following the example of Jon Stewart, who used the first segment of his April 22 show to defend "South Park," producers, actors, writers, musicians and other entertainers could lead such an effort.

Another idea is to do stories of Muhammad where his image is shown as much as possible. These stories do not have to be negative or insulting, they just need to spread the risk. The aim is to confront hypersensitive Muslims with more targets than they can possibly contend with.


Another important advantage of such a campaign is to accustom Muslims to the kind of treatment that the followers of other religions have long been used to. After the "South Park" episode in question there was no threatening response from Buddhists, Christians and Jews—to say nothing of Tom Cruise and Barbra Streisand fans—all of whom had far more reason to be offended than Muslims.

Islamists seek to replace the rule of law with that of commanding right and forbidding wrong. With over a billion and a half people calling Muhammad their moral guide, it is imperative that we examine the consequences of his guidance, starting with the notion that those who depict his image or criticize his teachings should be punished.

In "South Park," this tyrannical rule is cleverly needled when Tom Cruise asks the question: How come Muhammad is the only celebrity protected from ridicule? Now we know why.

Ms. Ali, a former member of the Dutch parliament, is the author of "Nomad: From Islam to America—A Personal Journey through the Clash of Civilizations," which will be published next month by Free Press.
25307  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Richard Clarke's book on: April 27, 2010, 07:19:56 AM
The Attack Coming From Bytes, Not Bombs
By MICHIKO KAKUTANI
Published: April 26, 2010

 
Blackouts hit New York, Los Angeles, Washington and more than 100 other American cities. Subways crash. Trains derail. Airplanes fall from the sky.

CYBER WAR
The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It

By Richard A. Clarke and Robert K. Knake

290 pages. Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers. $25.99.

Gas pipelines explode. Chemical plants release clouds of toxic chlorine. Banks lose all their data. Weather and communication satellites spin out of their orbits. And the Pentagon’s classified networks grind to a halt, blinding the greatest military power in the world.

This might sound like a takeoff on the 2007 Bruce Willis “Die Hard” movie, in which a group of cyberterrorists attempts to stage what it calls a “fire sale”: a systematic shutdown of the nation’s vital communication and utilities infrastructure. According to the former counterterrorism czar Richard A. Clarke, however, it’s a scenario that could happen in real life — and it could all go down in 15 minutes. While the United States has a first-rate cyberoffense capacity, he says, its lack of a credible defense system, combined with the country’s heavy reliance on technology, makes it highly susceptible to a devastating cyberattack.

“The United States is currently far more vulnerable to cyberwar than Russia or China,” he writes. “The U.S. is more at risk from cyberwar than are minor states like North Korea. We may even be at risk some day from nations or nonstate actors lacking cyberwar capabilities, but who can hire teams of highly capable hackers.”

Lest this sound like the augury of an alarmist, the reader might recall that Mr. Clarke, counterterrorism chief in both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, repeatedly warned his superiors about the need for an aggressive plan to combat al Qaeda — with only a pallid response before 9/11. He recounted this campaign in his controversial 2004 book, “Against All Enemies.”

Once again, there is a lack of coordination between the various arms of the military and various committees in Congress over how to handle a potential attack. Once again, government agencies and private companies in charge of civilian infrastructure are ill prepared to handle a possible disaster.

In these pages Mr. Clarke uses his insider’s knowledge of national security policy to create a harrowing — and persuasive — picture of the cyberthreat the United States faces today. Mr. Clarke is hardly a lone wolf on the subject: Mike McConnell, the former director of national intelligence, told a Senate committee in February that “if we were in a cyberwar today, the United States would lose.”

And last November, Steven Chabinsky, deputy assistant director for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s cyber division, noted that the F.B.I. was looking into Qaeda sympathizers who want to develop their hacking skills and appear to want to target the United States’ infrastructure.

Mr. Clarke — who wrote this book with Robert K. Knake, an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations — argues that because the United States military relies so heavily upon databases and new technology, it is “highly vulnerable to cyberattack.” And while the newly established Cyber Command, along with the Department of Homeland Security, is supposed to defend the federal government, he writes, “the rest of us are on our own”:

“There is no federal agency that has the mission to defend the banking system, the transportation networks or the power grid from cyberattack.” In fact, The Wall Street Journal reported in April 2009 that the United States’ electrical grid had been penetrated by cyberspies (reportedly from China, Russia and other countries), who left behind software that could be used to sabotage the system in the future.

For more than a decade now, Mr. Clarke has been warning about “an electronic Pearl Harbor,” and he is familiar with the frustrations of a political bureaucracy. He notes that pressure from both the right and left over the hot-button issues of regulation and privacy have made it difficult for the government to get individual corporations (which control vital services like electricity, Internet access and transportation) to improve their ability to defend themselves against cyberattack.

Meanwhile, Mr. Clarke says, China has developed “the ability to disconnect all Chinese networks from the rest of the global Internet, something that would be handy to have if you thought the U.S. was about to launch a cyberwar attack on you.” After the first gulf war, he explains, the Chinese “began to downsize their military” — which reportedly has about one-eighth of the Pentagon’s budget (before adding in the costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) — and invest in new technologies, which they believed could give them an asymmetric advantage over the United States, despite America’s overwhelming conventional arsenal.

As for North Korea, Mr. Clarke says, it employs an Olympics-like approach to creating cyberwarriors, selecting “elite students at the elementary-school level to be groomed as future hackers.” North Korea is suspected of being behind the cyberattacks of July 2009 that took down the Web servers of the Treasury, Secret Service, Federal Trade Commission and Transportation Department and is thought to have placed “trapdoors” — code that allows hackers future access to a network — on computer networks on at least two continents.

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Page 2 of 2)



Trapdoors are just one device that rival nation states and cyberterrorists can use. There are also “logic bombs” (code that can set off malicious functions when triggered), Distributed Denial of Service (D.D.O.S.) attacks (in which a site or server is flooded with more requests for data than it can process), and foreign-manufactured software and hardware that might have been tampered with before being shipped to the States.

CYBER WAR

The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It

By Richard A. Clarke and Robert K. Knake

290 pages. Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers. $25.99.

The Defense Department, Mr. Clarke says, began to embrace the cost-saving idea of using commercial off-the-shelf software (instead of applications custom-made in-house) in the ’90s, and it “brought to the Pentagon all the same bugs and vulnerabilities that exist on your own computer.” He says, for instance, that in 1997, when the Windows system on a retrofitted “smart ship” called the U.S.S. Yorktown crashed, “the cruiser became a floating i-brick, dead in the water.”

The United States’ lack of an effective cyberdefense system, Mr. Clarke ominously warns, “will tempt opponents to attack in a period of tensions,” and it could also tempt America to take pre-emptive action or escalate a cyberconflict very rapidly if attacked. Were such a war to start, it could easily jump international boundaries, causing cascades of collateral damage to unspool around the world.

How best to address this alarming situation? Mr. Clarke reports that a 2009 meeting of some 30 cyberspace “old hands” — former government officials, current bureaucrats, chief security officers of major corporations, academics and senior information technology company officials — came to the conclusion that critical infrastructure should be separated from “the open-to-anyone” Internet. They also came out in favor of more government involvement in cyber research and development and a heightened emphasis on building “resilience” into systems so as to enable recovery, post-attack.

In addition to these suggestions, Mr. Clarke adds some fairly common-sense — but not so easily achieved — recommendations of his own. He argues that America needs to “harden the important networks that a nation-state attacker would target” by putting automated scanning systems in place to look for malware. Also, it needs to make sure that the Pentagon enhances the security of its own networks; and to work toward cyberarms-control agreements with other nations.

“The reality is that a major cyberattack from another nation is likely to originate in the U.S.,” Mr. Clarke says, noting that logic bombs and trapdoors are quite likely already in place, “so we will not be able to see it coming and block it with the systems we have now or those that are planned. Yes, we may be able to respond in kind, but our nation will still be devastated by a massive cyberattack on civilian infrastructure that smacks down power grids for weeks, halts trains, grounds aircraft, explodes pipelines and sets fire to refineries.”

And should America then decide to cross the line from cyberwarfare to conventional warfare, he says near the end of this chilling book, the highly advanced technology in our military arsenal “may suddenly not work.”
25308  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Panopticon; the Surveillance Society on: April 27, 2010, 07:01:15 AM
Are we sleepwalking into a surveillance society?
Although it is undoubtedly useful, personal identity technology could potentially lend itself to the gradual erosion of democracy and support for an authoritarian, protective state.



Personal Identity technology (ID-tech) is the complex of devices and techniques by which the identity of individuals is established and/or verified. It largely consists of biometric systems, that is, automated technical systems that measure physical human characteristics, some of them dynamically and in real time. The biometric device matches the input sample against a stored template, in order to include or exclude an individual from some action or activity. It is used for verifying who you are (with smart card, username or ID number) or identifying who you are. The data so collected could be used for purposes other than those initially intended.

Fingerprint biometrics were first used at the 2004 Olympic Summer Games, Athens. In the USA, Australia, UK, EU and other countries biometrics are being introduced into passport and visa control. For example, citizens of Brazil have their signature, photo, and 10 rolled fingerprints collected by passport requests. There is a very wide variety of uses e.g. in immigration, customs, ATMs, retail, schools, policing, and intelligence.

While ID-Tech has many uses and conveniences it poses risks to privacy, and most significantly is a technology that could lend itself to government tracking and profiling of individuals on a wider than acceptable scale. In a nutshell the convergence and synchronising of of ID-tech capabilities lends itself to the potential for a ‘Panopticon State’, one that has the policing powers to profile any citizen almost continuously and simultaneously in several dimensions of life, anywhere on the globe.

Both physiological and behavioural traits can be measured and recorded by biometrics systems. The former include fingerprinting, face identity, facial thermogram, hand and footprints, iris, retina, ear canal, DNA, and even personal odour and scent. The latter include computer keystroke dynamics, signature and writing, speech, voice (speaker), and gait. We should also note the potential of RFID (radio frequency identification) implants and body scans.

The benefits of biometric systems

Biometric systems have benefits in the prevention and reduction of crime generally, especially fraud and impersonation, and terrorism. They may also help to solve crime, including ‘cold cases’, and stop the evasion of arrest. It is often claimed, and may be true in many instances, that such systems make for an efficient use of resources (creating new demands, however). In the Super Bowl event of 2001 Florida police used the facial recognition software FaceIt to search the crowd for criminals, and found 19 people on arrest warrants. In the case of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann (2007), the UK police asked visitors at the Resort in Portugal in the two weeks prior to child’s disappearance to provide any photographs of passers-by for use in a biometric facial recognition system. Since 2001 a retinal system has helped apprehend thousands of persons re-entering the wealthy UAE with fraudulent travel documents.

How reliable are they?

There are many issues of technical reliability, and these will raise worries about misidentification. A biometric identification system is expected to be universally applicable, whereas some individuals may not qualify e.g. missing limbs, burns, loss of organ, injury-related changes to gait, and cataract. They must be capable of unique identification, whereas there is always some (very small) margin of fuzziness, especially with family relatives and twins. They should be resistant to the ageing of the individual; but faces etc. change with age, illness, and injury and cosmetic surgery.  There is also the problem of ‘data collection’ being affected by overload and noise, e.g. in a crowd. The efficiency and effectiveness may be in doubt because there will be thresholds of definition (eg, a face at a distance), too slow a response of the device, poor light, and software deficiencies. Biometric data will ‘ideally’ be correlatable with other individual data, whereas these may not be available or be compatible. There are also issues of standardisation and interoperability.

With all these difficulties, and the inevitable dose of human incompetence, one may give a sigh of relief for the future of individual freedom and privacy. However, great efforts and resources are being put into resolving them. Ultimately, developers of such technologies know that their techniques must be socially acceptable, whereas public may reject. We have recently seen that there have been human rights concerns about airport body scans (admittedly, a detection technology rather than an ID one).

The Hydra Effect

In any case, history has shown that technologies will be implemented, sometimes widely, even when there are known difficulties (as well as difficulties that emerge in practice). In this case a fundamental issue is that the identity of the ‘target’ person may be compromised. There is the impersonation issue: the system depends on the individual who is the subject of the test being correctly identified at original enrolment. If a biometric profile is stored for person ‘A’ then that data becomes definitive even if this person is not in fact A. This is fundamental, and has little to do with how sophisticated the technology is, and yet there is a tendency in some quarters to assume that the technology cannot be wrong. But if the ‘input’ is wrong, then the technology will simply process it efficiently.

There are least another two fundamental problems. Firstly, there is the possibility of someone using as a test input what is in fact a hacked copy of the stored template. (Some suggest a way around this is to technically exclude any absolutely ‘perfect match’.) Secondly, an ID device does not ‘know’ what it is looking at. For example, face recognition systems are fooled with a high-quality photograph of a face instead of a real face, so are unsuitable for unsupervised applications such as door access. There is a similar problem with fingerprints and iris patterns.

There are genuine concerns about the security of storage of biometric data.  It should be obvious, but is often forgotten, that a security system is only as trustworthy as the people operating it, from low level operatives to high level authorities. Malicious verifiers may wish to steal templates from the database (although it has been suggested this could discouraged with ‘reverse engineering’ technique). Then there is the possibility of the ‘secondary use’ of biometric data: a user who accesses two systems with the same fingerprint may allow another person to ‘impersonate’ him. Most of these problems, evidently, have to do with human not technological weakness. Technology does not make people better.

You may think that internal hacking is unlikely. Yet, to give one example, in 2007 tens of millions of credit card users were put at risk by financial-transactions company Heartland Payment Systems (USA) when malicious software was installed inside the system.

If dependency on such systems grows then permanent identity loss is not impossible. A system must retain the uniqueness of the trait template unchanged (changed within narrow range), over the lifetime of the individual. This ‘life-time’ property brings a risk. If biometric data obtained by unauthorized users (eg, compromised from a database) then the owner loses control over the data and loses his identity. Lost passwords can be changed, but e.g. if someone’s face is compromised from a database, they cannot cancel it or reissue it. A proposed solution is the ‘cancellable biometrics’ technique which distorts the biometric image before matching. But for every solution there is another problem. A criminal employee could undistort the template with knowledge of the distortion key. If we distrust the employees sufficiently to require a distortion key, why would we trust them with the distortion key?

There is what I call a ‘Hydra Effect’ in technology. In Greek mythology whenever the Hydra beast was decapitated it grew two more heads. Similarly, every technical solution creates at least one more problem, which is often trickier to solve. A technical solution is eventually found at great cost, and then more problems appear. There may well be diminishing returns on the resources being put into this ceaseless round of technical innovations that ultimately cannot overcome the fundamental issue of human weakness and failure.

Can we preserve our privacy?

We may take privacy to be the state of being free from unsanctioned intrusion into one’s personal life. It is a value that is embodied in human rights, national laws and diverse regulations. ID-technology gives rise to the possibility of the misuse (real or perceived) of personal biometric information for gainful intrusion. Examples of known misuses are surveillance videos of vehicle licence plates being used to record license plates to blackmail people, to stalk women and to track estranged spouses. In some cases it has been police officers who have been guilty of these offences.

Fingerprint recognition for the ignition of your car might seem like the latest desirable innovation in hi-tech protection. But one may forget the human factor. In 2005 Malaysian car thieves cut off the finger of the driver of a Mercedes S-Class car so that they could steal his car. If he had not had a sophisticated biometric device in the ignition he would at least still have his finger. In the USA and EU some fear that biometric information can be ‘skimmed’ and sold to criminals to identify individuals for ransom-kidnapping and the like. In even worse scenarios a racist or totalitarian government ( Hitler, Pol Pot, etc.) could use data to determine unwanted traits in humans for population control

The Panopticon state?

One future scenario that does not receive enough serious attention is the convergence of different ID-technologies into one (more or less) interconnected system. Intelligence services world-wide are well on their way. We could already be witnessing an information cascade, held back only by lack of harmonisation, human incompetence and poor communications. Public protest is not yet a major hindrance.

The utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham conceived a plan in 1791 for a new kind of prison, the Panopticon, the novelty of which was that any prison could be seen from anywhere at any time. A variety of modern technologies, including those based on biometrics, may be converging towards the possibility of a Panopticon State, in which any citizen can be tracked and a life-profile composed without their ever knowing. Body scans, bank details, credit card trails, Google, RFID, fingerprints, face and iris, recognition, GPS, health records, mobile phone use, bus and train cameras, spy satellites, street cameras, wire taps and now body scans could, in theory, be brought together in various configurations. Perhaps only the political will stands in the way.

Biometric information may be shared or different databases may be networked, eg, telebiometric systems join biometrics with telecommunications. There is the possibility of tracking individuals. For example, security cameras can be linked to a facial recognition system or a public transport system using biometry. At the moment, in most cases the information from different sensors generate differently encrypted outcomes so cannot be compared, but this can be overcome. The unification of different biometric outcomes by means of data exposure or through global or regional standardisation is not impossible. Already there are some public concerns about ‘leakage’ of fingerprint data from schools to health, insurance and other agencies with a discriminatory effect on access to services.

Sir Ken MacDonald QC,  the UK's Director of Public Prosecutions (2003-08) has said, "We need to take very great care not to fall into a way of life in which freedom's back is broken by the relentless pressure of a security State.” Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner is reported as saying “My anxiety is that we don’t sleepwalk into a surveillance society”. He was thinking mainly of the UK’s National Identity Scheme. These two people are hardly radicals, and know ‘from the inside’ what they are talking about.

We may think the main issue is National ID cards, but they have a lesser role than the database they are linked to, i.e. the National Identity Register.  A new law specifies 50 categories of information that the Register can hold on each citizen, including up to 10 fingerprints, digitised facial scan and iris scan, current and past UK and overseas places of residence, throughout their lives and with indices to other Government databases which would allow them to be connected into a personal profile. The legislation also says that any further information can be added. The amount of data which can be recorded on the scheme’s Register is unlimited. Still, the good news is that fingerprints are not yet being taken, and plans to take iris scans have been dropped, although not ruled out.

This is not the place to go into the detail of the scheme but the Home Office forecasts that 265 government departments and as many as 48,000 accredited private sector organisations would have access to the database, and that 163 million identity verifications or more may take place each year. The cost of the scheme is variously put at between 5 and 15 billion pounds over 10 years.

Naturally, the Commission for Racial Equality and ethnic/religious minorities are expressing concerns about discrimination. If one thinks this is far-fetched or alarmist one should recall that in the USA not so long ago the FBI head J. Edgar Hoover (and his vast fingerprint records) pursued not only  criminals, but people he chose to classify as "security risks," "subversives," "agitators," "deviants," "black nationalists," and "peaceniks."

Provisions for consent to biometric schemes

Public acceptance of the national ID scheme has been mixed and controversial (but not controversial enough), with diminishing support after reports of the loss of  millions of items of public service information  in several quarters (See the NGO called “NO2ID”). Meanwhile, some UK parents have been protesting school fingerprinting since 2001. These are used for purposes of registration, truancy control,  parental payments, replacements of library or meal cards, and possibly for exam ID.

Protests sometimes take a more colourful form. The Chaos Computer Club of hackers published a fingerprint of the German Minister of the Interior, Wolfgang Schäuble, in its magazine Datenschleuder (March 2008). The magazine included the fingerprint on a film for readers to give them access to whatever the Minister had access to. If they can do it, criminals can do it, and undemocratic governments can do it.

A particular focus for protest in the UK has been school fingerprinting without consent. One surprising facet of this is that the Data Protection Act does not explicitly require schools to gain consent. The Act is, apparently, about information, not images. More research also needs to be given to how the Human Rights Act and the Freedom of Information Act relate to the storage and transmission of ‘data’ which is perhaps not ‘information’ in the sense of text. A democratic future depends on asking many questions that are currently not even being conceived, let alone asked.

Professor Geoffrey Hunt teaches at St Mary's University College in London. This article by Professor Hunt was originally published on the website of BioCentre, a think-tank focusing on emerging technologies and their ethical, social and political implications.

25309  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A libertarian analysis: Bankrupt Empire on: April 26, 2010, 10:50:01 PM
There are several substantive points in the following piece with which I disagree, but the piece presents its points in a fair and reasoned way.

These are themes worthy of our consideration.  Lets discuss:

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




Bankrupt Empire
by Doug Bandow
The United States government is effectively bankrupt. Washington no longer can afford to micromanage the world. International social engineering is a dubious venture under the best of circumstances. It is folly to attempt while drowning in red ink.

Traditional military threats against America have largely disappeared. There’s no more Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, Maoist China is distant history and Washington is allied with virtually every industrialized state. As Colin Powell famously put it while Chairman of the Joint Chiefs: “I’m running out of enemies. . . . I’m down to Kim Il-Sung and Castro.” However, the United States continues to act as the globe’s 911 number.

Unfortunately, a hyperactive foreign policy requires a big military. America accounts for roughly half of global military outlays. In real terms Washington spends more on “defense” today than it during the Cold War, Korean War and Vietnam War.

U.S. military expenditures are extraordinary by any measure. My Cato Institute colleagues Chris Preble and Charles Zakaib recently compared American and European military outlays. U.S. expenditures have been trending upward and now approach five percent of GDP. In contrast, European outlays have consistently fallen as a percentage of GDP, to an average of less than two percent.

The difference is even starker when comparing per capita GDP military expenditures. The U.S. is around $2,200. Most European states fall well below $1,000. Adding in non-Pentagon defense spending—Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Department of Energy (nuclear weapons)—yields American military outlays of $835.1 billion in 2008, which represented 5.9 percent of GDP and $2,700 per capita.

Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations worries that the increased financial obligations (forget unrealistic estimates about cutting the deficit) resulting from health-care legislation will preclude maintaining such oversize expenditures in the future, thereby threatening America’s “global standing.” He asks: Who will "police the sea lanes, stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, combat terrorism, respond to genocide and other unconscionable human rights violations, and deter rogue states from aggression?"

Of course, nobody is threatening to close the sea lanes these days. Washington has found it hard to stop nuclear proliferation without initiating war, yet promiscuous U.S. military intervention creates a powerful incentive for nations to seek nuclear weapons. Armored divisions and carrier groups aren’t useful in confronting terrorists. Iraq demonstrates how the brutality of war often is more inhumane than the depredations of dictators. And there are lots of other nations capable of deterring rogue states.

The United States should not attempt to do everything even if it could afford to do so. But it can’t. When it comes to the federal Treasury, there’s nothing there. If Uncle Sam was a real person, he would declare bankruptcy.

The current national debt is $12.7 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office figures that current policy—unrealistically assuming no new spending increases—will run up $10 trillion in deficits over the coming decade. But more spending—a lot more spending—is on the way.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac remain as active as ever, underwriting $5.4 trillion worth of mortgages while running up additional losses. The Federal Housing Administration’s portfolio of insured mortgages continues to rise along with defaults. Exposure for Ginnie Mae, which issues guaranteed mortgage-backed securities, also is jumping skyward. The FDIC shut down a record 140 banks last year and is running low on cash. Last year the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation figured its fund was running a $34 billion deficit. Federal pensions are underfunded by $1 trillion. State and local retirement funds are short about $3 trillion.

Outlays for the Iraq war will persist decades after the troops return as the government cares for seriously injured military personnel; total expenditures will hit $2 trillion or more. Extending and expanding the war in Afghanistan will further bloat federal outlays.

Worst of all, last year the combined Social Security/Medicare unfunded liability was estimated to be $107 trillion. Social Security, originally expected to go negative in 2016, will spend more than it collects this year, and the “trust fund” is an accounting fiction. Medicaid, a joint federal-state program, also is breaking budgets. At their current growth rate, CBO says that by 2050 these three programs alone will consume virtually the entire federal budget.

Uncle Sam’s current net liabilities exceed Americans’ net worth. Yet the debt-to-GDP ratio will continue rising and could eventually hit World War II levels. Net interest is expected to more than quadruple to $840 billion annually by 2020.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says: “It’s not something that is ten years away. It affects the markets currently.” In March, Treasury notes commanded a yield of 3.5 basis points higher than those for Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

Moody’s recently threatened to downgrade federal debt: “Although AAA governments benefit from an unusual degree of balance sheet flexibility, that flexibility is not infinite.” In 2008, Tom Lemmon of Moody’s warned: “The underlying credit rating of the U.S. government faces the risk of downgrading in the next ten years if solutions are not found to our growing Medicare and Social Security unfunded obligations.”

This is all without counting a dollar of increased federal spending due to federalizing American medicine.

The United States faces a fiscal crisis. If America’s survival was at stake, extraordinary military expenditures would still be justified. But not to protect other nations, especially prosperous and populous states well able to defend themselves. Boot warns: “it will be increasingly hard to be globocop and nanny state at the same time.” America should be neither.

The issue is not just money. The Constitution envisions a limited government focused on defending Americans, not transforming the rest of the world. Moreover, if Washington continues to act as globocop, America’s friends and allies will never have an incentive to do more.

The United States will be a world power for decades. But it can no afford to act as if it is the only power. America must begin the process of becoming a normal nation with a normal foreign policy.
25310  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: April 26, 2010, 05:58:29 PM
Bright, hard working, educated people who want to become Americans are a big net plus for America.
25311  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spring 2010 DB Tribal Gathering on: April 26, 2010, 05:56:53 PM
I suspect everyone is still in the altered space after two days of outstanding fighting.
25312  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: April 26, 2010, 10:46:50 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqwMzQiXlK0

See entry number 169 from July 2008
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1002.msg19722;topicseen#msg19722
25313  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Higher consciousness on: April 26, 2010, 12:27:47 AM
Read a book every day. Books are concentrated sources of wisdom. The more books you read, the more wisdom you expose yourself to. What are some books you can start reading to enrich yourself? Some books I’ve read and found useful are Think and Grow Rich, Who Moved My Cheese, 7 Habits, The Science of Getting Rich and Living the 80/20 Way. 

Learn a new language. Learning a language is a whole new skill altogether and the process of acquainting with a new language and culture is a totally a mind-opening experience.

Pick up a new hobby. Beyond just your usual favorite hobbies, is there something new you can pick up? Any new sport you can learn? Examples are fencing, golf, rock climbing, football, canoeing, or ice skating. Your new hobby can also be a recreational hobby; for example, pottery, Italian cooking, dancing, wine appreciation, web design, etc.  Learning something new requires you to stretch yourself in different aspects, whether physically, mentally or emotionally.

Take up a new course. Is there any new course you can join? Courses are a great way to gain new knowledge and skills. It doesn’t have to be a long-term course – seminars or workshops serve their purpose too. I’ve been to a few workshops and they have helped me gain new insights which I had not considered before.

Create an inspirational room. Your environment sets the mood and tone for you. If you are living in an inspirational environment, you are going to be inspired every day.

Overcome your fears. All of us have fears. Fear of uncertainty, fear of public speaking, fear of risk… All our fears  keep us in the same position and prevent us from growing. Recognize that your fears reflect areas where you can grow. I always think of fears as the compass for growth. If I have a fear about something, it represents something I’ve yet to address, and addressing it helps me to grow.

Level up your skills. If you have played video games especially RPGs, you’ll know the concept of leveling up – gaining experience so you can be better and stronger. As a blogger, I’m constantly leveling up my writing skills. As a speaker, I’m constantly leveling up my public engagement abilities. What skills can you level up?

Wake up early. Waking up early (say, 5-6am) has been acknowledged by many (Anthony Robbins, Robin Sharma, among other self-help gurus) to improve your productivity and your quality of life. I feel it’s because when you wake up early, your mindset is already set to continue the momentum and proactively live out the day. 

Have a weekly exercise routine. A better you starts with being in better physical shape. I personally make it a point to jog at least 3 times a week, at least 30 minutes each time. You may want to mix it up with jogging, gym lessons, and swimming for variation.

Start your life handbook. A life handbook is an idea I started 3 years ago. Basically, it’s a book which contains the essentials on how you can live your life to the fullest, such as your purpose, your values and goals. Sort of like your manual for your life. I started my life handbook since 2007 and it’s been a crucial enabler in my progress.

Write a letter to your future self. What do you see yourself as 5 years from now? Will you be the same? Different?  What kind of person will you be? Write a letter to your future self – 1 year from now will be a good start – and seal it. Make a date in your calendar to open it 1 year from now. Then start working to become the person you want to open that letter.

Get out of your comfort zone. Real growth comes with hard work and sweat. Being too comfortable doesn’t help us grow – it makes us stagnate. What is your comfort zone? Do you stay in most of the time? Do you keep to your own space when out with other people? Shake your routine up. Do something different. By exposing yourself to a new context, you’re literally growing as you learn to act in new circumstances.

Put someone up to a challenge. Competition is one of the best ways to grow. Set a challenge (weight loss, exercise, financial challenge, etc) and compete with an interested friend to see who achieves the target first. Through the process, both of you will gain more than if you were to set off on the target alone.

Identify your blind spots. Scientifically, blind spots refer to areas our eyes are not capable of seeing. In personal development terms, blind spots are things about ourselves we are unaware of. Discovering our blind spots help us discover our areas of improvement. One exercise I use to discover my blind spots is to identify all the things/events/people that trigger me in a day – trigger meaning making me feel annoyed/weird/affected. These represent my blind spots. 

Ask for feedback. As much as we try to improve, we will always have blind spots. Asking for feedback gives us an additional perspective. Some people to approach will be friends, family, colleagues, boss, or even acquaintances, since they will have no preset bias and can give their feedback objectively.

Stay focused with to-do lists. I start my day with a list of tasks I want to complete and this helps make me stay focused. In comparison, the days when I don’t do this end up being extremely unproductive. Since my work requires me to use my computer all the time, I use Free Sticky Notes to manage my to-do lists. It’s really simple to use and it’s a freeware.

Set Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs). I’m a big fan of setting BHAGs. BHAGs stretch you beyond your normal capacity since they are big and audacious – you wouldn’t think of attempting them normally. What are BHAGs you can embark on, which you’ll feel absolutely on top of the world once you complete them? Set them and start working on them.

Acknowledge your flaws. Everyone has flaws. What’s most important is to understand them, acknowledge them, and address them. What do you think are your flaws? What are the flaws you can work on now? How do you want to address them?

Get into action. The best way to learn and improve is to take action. What is something you have been meaning to do? How can you take action on it immediately? Waiting doesn’t get anything done. Taking action gives you immediate results to learn from.

Learn from people who inspire you. Think about people you admire. People who inspire you. These people reflect certain qualities you want to have for yourself too. What are the qualities in them you want to have for yourself? How can you acquire these qualities?

Quit a bad habit. Are there any bad habits you can lose? Oversleeping? Not exercising? Being late? Slouching? Nail biting? Smoking? Here’s some help on how you can quit a bad habit.

Cultivate a new habit. Some good new habits to cultivate include reading books (#1), waking up early (#8), exercising (#9), reading a new personal development article a day (#40) and meditating. Is there any other new habit you can cultivate to improve yourself?

Avoid negative people. As Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”. Wherever we go, there are bound to be negative people. Don’t spend too much of your time around them if you feel they drag you down.

Learn to deal with difficult people. There are times when there are difficult people you can’t avoid, such as at your workplace, or when the person is part of your inner circle of contacts. Learn how to deal with them. These people management skills will go a long way in working with people in the future.

Learn from your friends. Everyone has amazing qualities in them. It’s up to how we want to tap into them. With all the friends who surround you, they are going to have things you can learn from. Try thinking of a good friend right now. Think about just one quality they have which you want to adopt. How can you learn from them and adopt this skill for yourself? Speak to them if you need to – for sure, they will be more than happy to help!

Start a journal. Journaling is a great way to gain better self-awareness. It’s a self-reflection process. As you write, clarify your thought process and read what you wrote from a third person’s perspective, you gain more insights about yourself. Your journal can be private or an online blog.

Start a blog about personal development. To help others grow, you need to first be walking the talk. There are expectations of you, both from yourself and from others, which you have to uphold.

Get a mentor or coach. There’s no faster way to improve than to have someone work with you on your goals. Many of my clients approach me to coach them in their goals and they achieve significantly more results than if they had worked alone.

Reduce the time you spend on chat programs. I realized having chat programs open at default result in a lot of wasted time. This time can be much better spent on other activities. The days when I don’t get on chat, I get a lot more done. I usually disable the auto start-up option in the chat programs and launch them when I do want to chat and really have the time for it.

Learn chess (or any strategy game). I found chess to be a terrific game to learn strategy and hone your brainpower. Not only do you have fun, you also get to exercise your analytical skills. You can also learn strategy from other board games or computer games, such as Othello, Chinese Chess, WarCraft, and so on.

Stop watching TV. I’ve not been watching TV for pretty much 4 years and it’s been a very liberating experience. I realized most of the programs and advertisements on mainstream TV are usually of a lower consciousness and not very empowering. In return, the time I’ve freed up from not watching TV is now constructively used for other purposes, such as connecting with close friends, doing work I enjoy, exercising, etc.

Start a 30-day challenge. Set a goal and give yourself 30 days to achieve this. Your goal can be to stick with a new habit or something you’ve always wanted to do but have not. 30 days is just enough time to strategize, plan, get into action, review and nail the goal.

Meditate. Meditation helps to calm you and be more conscious. I also realized that during the nights when I meditate (before I sleep), I need lesser sleep. The clutter clearing process is very liberating.

Join Toastmasters (Learn public speaking). Interestingly, public speaking is the #1 fear in the world, with #2 being death. After I started public speaking as a personal development speaker/trainer, I’ve learned a lot about how to communicate better, present myself, and engage people. Toastmasters is an international organization that trains people in public speaking. Check out the Toastmaster clubs nearest to you here.

Befriend top people in their fields. These people have achieved their results because they have the right attitudes, skill sets, and know-how. How better to learn than from the people who have been there and done that? Gain new insights from them on how you can improve and achieve the same results for yourself.

Let go of the past. Is there any grievance or unhappiness from the past which you have been holding on? If so, it’s time to let it go. Holding on to them prevents you from moving on and becoming a better person. Break away from the past, forgive yourself, and move on.

Start a business venture. Is there anything you have an interest in? Why not turn it into a venture and make money while learning at the same time? Starting a new venture requires you to be learn business management skills, develop business acumen, and have a competitive edge. The process equips you with many skills, such as self-discipline, leadership, organization, and management.

Show kindness to people around you. You can never be too kind to someone. In fact, most of us don’t show enough kindness to people around us. Being kind helps us to cultivate other qualities such as compassion, patience, and love. Start exuding more kindness to the people around you, and see how they react. Not only that, notice how you feel as you behave kindly to others. Chances are, you will feel even better than yourself.

Reach out to the people who hate you. If you ever stand for something, you are going to get haters. It’s easy to hate the people who hate us. It’s much more challenging to love them back. Being able to forgive, let go, and show love to these people requires magnanimity and an open heart. Is there anyone who dislikes or hates you in your life? If so, reach out to them. Show them love. Seek a resolution and get closure on past grievances. Even if they refuses to reciprocate, love them all the same. It’s much more liberating than to hate them back.

Take a break. Have you been working too hard? Self-improvement is also about recognizing our need to take a break to walk the longer mile ahead. Take some time off for yourself every week. Relax, rejuvenate and charge yourself up for what’s up ahead.

Read at least 1 personal development article a day. Some of my readers make it a point to read at least one personal development article every day, which I think is a great habit. 

Commit to your personal growth. Make the decision to commit to your personal growth and embrace yourself to a life-long journey of growth and change. Kick off your growth by picking a few of the steps above and working on them. The results might not be immediate, but I promise you that as long as you keep to it, you’ll start seeing positive changes in yourself and your life.
25314  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cruise missiles in a box, from Russia with love on: April 26, 2010, 12:10:33 AM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/7632543/A-cruise-missile-in-a-shipping-box-on-sale-to-rogue-bidders.html
A cruise missile in a shipping box on sale to rogue bidders
Defence experts are warning of a new danger of ballistic weapons proliferation after a Russian company started marketing a cruise missile that can be launched from a shipping container.

By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent
Published: 6:30PM BST 25 Apr 2010

 Club - K container missile system. Stills from an animated film being used to market a missile system that allows cruise missles to be launched from a freight container. this can be loaded onto a lorry, ship, or train as desired tomove into position before launching missiles
It is feared that the covert Club-K missile attack system could prove "game-changing" in fighting wars with small countries, which would gain a remote capacity to mount multiple missiles on boats, trucks or railways.

Iran and Venezuela have already shown an interest in the Club-K Container Missile System which could allow them to carry out pre-emptive strikes from behind an enemy's missile defences.

Defence experts say the system is designed to be concealed as a standard 40ft shipping container that cannot be identified until it is activated. Priced at an estimated £10 million, each container is fitted with four cruise anti-ship or land attack missiles. The system represents an affordable "strategic level weapon".  Some experts believe that if Iraq had the Club-K system in 2003 it would have made it impossible for America to invade with any container ship in the Gulf a potential threat.
Club-K is being marketed at the Defence Services Asia exhibition in Malaysia this week.  Novator, the manufacturer, is an advanced missile specialist that would not have marketed the system without Moscow's approval. It has released an emotive marketing film complete with dramatic background music. It shows Club-K containers stowed on ships, trucks and trains as a neighbouring country prepares to invade with American style military equipment.  The enemy force is wiped out by the cruise missile counter attack. Russia has already prompted concern in Washington by selling Iran the sophisticated S-300 anti-aircraft missile system that would make targeting of Iranian nuclear facilities very difficult.

"This Club-K is game changing with the ability to wipe out an aircraft carrier 200 miles away. The threat is immense in that no one can tell how far deployed your missiles could be," said Robert Hewson, editor of Jane's Air-Launched Weapons, who first reported on the Club-K developments.

"What alerted me to this was that the Russians were advertising it at specific international defence event and they have marketed it very squarely at anyone under threat of action from the US."

Reuben Johnson, a Pentagon defence consultant, said the system would be a "real maritime fear for anyone with a waterfront".

"This is ballistic missile proliferation on a scale we have not seen before because now you cannot readily identify what's being used as a launcher because it's very carefully disguised.  Someone could sail off your shore looking innocuous then the next minute big explosions are going off at your military installations."
25315  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: April 25, 2010, 07:15:52 PM
As I understand the point of it, the purpose of the Draw Mohammed Day is that these two cartoonists do NOT stand alone.
25316  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spring 2010 DB Tribal Gathering on: April 25, 2010, 09:29:33 AM
Some awesome fights yesterday and the prospect is for more of the same in a few hours.  cool
25317  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Darw Mohammed Day on: April 25, 2010, 09:28:24 AM
As it so often does "Day by day" leads the way with a practice run for "Draw Mohammed Day"

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2010/04/25/
25318  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: April 25, 2010, 12:47:52 AM
"or , , , negotiate work papers to stay but preclude citizenship."

This might form the basis of a feasible compromise.
25319  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Everybody draw Mohammed Day on: April 25, 2010, 12:44:41 AM


http://www.mynorthwest.com/?nid=11&sid=313170
25320  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Case Study: A shooting in Philly on: April 25, 2010, 12:42:41 AM
Ah yes-- witnesses.  A point I picked up from Peyton Quinn several years ago was the importance of witness preparation e.g. choosing one's words wisely so as to pre-dispose witnesses to speak in your favor; e.g. "Leave me alone!" is better than "Fcuk off!"
25321  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Case Study: A shooting in Philly on: April 24, 2010, 10:37:46 AM
I like that formulation and articulation GM.
25322  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran's Military Exercises on: April 23, 2010, 06:54:17 PM
Thursday, April 22, 2010   STRATFOR.COM  Diary Archives 

How Iran's Military Exercises Impact the U.S.
THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS (IRGC), Iran’s elite military force, will stage a three-day exercise involving land, air and sea forces beginning Thursday. The deputy commander of the IRGC, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, made the announcement on state television Wednesday. The Iranian maneuvers will specifically highlight Iran’s indigenous missile capability, allegedly testing new weapons. Meanwhile, in response to a widely publicized report from the U.S. Department of Defense that said an Iranian missile could strike the continental United States by 2015, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said Iran had no plans to build a ballistic missile that could do so.

The exercises come at a time when the United States is rethinking its Iranian strategy; it faces a number of considerations that have it backing away from the potential of a military strike. First and foremost is the fact that Washington is preparing to exit Iraq and needs a sufficiently firm political compromise there to avoid a reversion to widespread sectarian violence, and preserve the regional balance of power. The Iranians, through their Shiite proxies in Iraq, have the capability to shatter any such compromise (though for their own regional ambitions would only do so as a last resort). A similar situation exists in Afghanistan. The United States is aware that its eventual withdrawal from Afghanistan is only politically feasible if it and the major neighboring powers — including Iran — make arrangements to prevent the country from relapsing into a haven for militants and a battleground for internal and external forces vying for influence.

Second, the American realization has been that striking Iran’s clandestine nuclear program would require better intelligence about the location and vulnerabilities of nuclear sites and unattainable levels of confidence in penetrating deeply buried and hardened facilities. More importantly, it would require managing the aftermath. To further deter an American attack, Iran has publicized its most critical retaliatory maneuver: deploying a variety of military tools to damage and threaten the Straits of Hormuz, through which about 40 percent of the world’s seaborne oil supply passes.

“The exercises come at a time when the United States is rethinking its Iranian strategy.”
Oil shocks at a time of global economic fragility are not tolerable for the United States. While Washington continues to assess the complexities of an air campaign that could (with limited confidence in success) neutralize Iran’s threats to the Persian Gulf, Tehran maintains a spectrum of capabilities — including missiles, mines and swarms of small, fast attack craft — that could cause considerable damage to commercial traffic, and raise uncertainties to the point that oil prices would climb even if attacks on oil-carrying vessels were relatively ineffective. This in turn would negatively impact economies from Greece to Cambodia, and everywhere in between.

At the same time the United States is aware that Iran is a rational player. Tehran would not resort to an internecine option like attacking Hormuz (which would incidentally cut off Iran’s own imports, including gasoline) unless it was convinced that an American attack was inevitable and imminent. The Iranians also want to see U.S. forces withdraw from Iraq so that they can get on with the business of configuring Iraq’s political make-up to favor Tehran’s interests. By doing so, they would pre-empt the possible re-emergence of Persia’s historic fears of a powerful Mesopotamian foe.

At a time when the United States is debating Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities and urging unilateral and multilateral sanctions, and Iran is threatening to blast the global economic recovery, both sides have reasons to consider bargaining. Though Washington’s desire to leave the region and maintain a balance of power against Iran is contradictory, a deal could be struck in which the United States could get its withdrawal free of Iranian sabotage, and Iran could get greater regional influence — possibly even nuclear-armed status. But relations are fraught with distrust and neither side can afford to look weak. The Iranian exercises are meant to drive home the point for Washington that attacking Iran is a far too risky solution, and accommodation is a much better choice.

25323  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington: Consolidation of Power on: April 23, 2010, 06:15:21 PM
"The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position." --George Washington
25324  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Case Study: A shooting in Philly on: April 23, 2010, 06:12:39 PM
d) And, following up on c) of my previous post, what is one to do with/about a girlfriend/date who is instigating things?
25325  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spring 2010 DB Tribal Gathering on: April 23, 2010, 03:13:47 PM
WOOF!

Tomorrow and Sunday the Adventure continues!

Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.
Thomas Jefferson

"The greater the dichotomy, the profounder the transformation.  Higher Consciousness through Harder Contact!" (c dbi)

Crafty Dog
GF
25326  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: April 23, 2010, 02:59:28 PM
A very perceptive comment Rarick.  It tracks quite closely with a lot of the evolutionary biology/psychology based analysis of Konrad Lorenz (see thread dedicated to EB/EP/ and KL).  The human animal evolved in social units where all were known to all, yet in the nano-second of human history that is the city, city dwellers now operate much of their lives in the dynamic of the anonymous horde-- a dynamic for which our evolutionary history leaves us woefully underprepared.
25327  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iranian Quds Force in Vz. on: April 23, 2010, 11:54:25 AM
Iran: Quds Force in Venezuela
April 22, 2010 | 2253 GMT
 Text Resize:   



AFP/Getty Images
Iranian Revolutionary Guard special forces participate in military exercises in 2006Summary
A recently published U.S. Department of Defense report claims that members of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force (IRGC-QF) currently are operating in Venezuela. STRATFOR sources claim that the relatively limited number of IRGC-QF in Venezuela are focused on intelligence operations, paramilitary training for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and security assistance for the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Though the IRGC-QF presence brings certain benefits to the Venezuelan government, Chavez also has an interest in keeping their proxy militant focus on Colombia.

Analysis
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates submitted a report to Congress in April on the current and future military strategy of Iran. Included in the report is a claim that the Quds Force, the overseas operations arm of Iran’s elite military force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has developed a significant presence in Latin America, particularly in Venezuela. STRATFOR sources connected to this Iranian military unit have confirmed a small but notable presence in Venezuela. Though IRGC-QF members in Venezuela are believed to be providing some security assistance to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan leader does not appear interested in incurring reprisals from the United States and is consequently trying to direct the anti-U.S. activities of the IRGC-QF toward neighboring Colombia.

As the Pentagon report states, IRGC-QF members usually are stationed in foreign embassies, charities and religious or cultural institutions as intelligence officers to develop ties with the Shiite diaspora and other potential allies. The U.S. military even has labeled incoming and outgoing Iranian ambassadors to Iraq as IRGC-QF members. On a more narrow scale, the IRGC-QF arms, funds and trains various paramilitary groups as an extension of Iran’s well-developed militant proxy arm. The IRGC-QF is believed to have worked with proxies to orchestrate major attacks against U.S. and U.S.-allied targets, including the 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia and a number of insurgent attacks targeting U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. By keeping this elite unit in reserve in various pockets of the globe, Iran has the ability to carry out attacks under plausible deniability. The reality of Iran’s retaliatory options — made possible by the IRGC-QF — has factored heavily into U.S. war-gaming exercises against Iran.

Joined by their mutually hostile relationship with the United States, Iran and Venezuela have grown to be close allies in the past several years. A good portion of this relationship consists of rhetoric designed to grab the attention of Washington, but significant forms of cooperation do exist between the two countries. STRATFOR sources have indicated many of the inflated economic deals signed between Iran and Venezuela and the establishment of the Banco Internacional de Desarrollo (an Iranian banking subsidiary headquartered in Caracas) are designed to facilitate Iran’s money laundering efforts while providing the Venezuelan government with an additional source of illicit revenue.

The Iranian-Venezuelan relationship also extends into the militant proxy world. Though this information has not been confirmed, STRATFOR sources claim the current IRGC-QF presence in Venezuela is limited to roughly 300 members. This estimate could well be on the high side, considering the likelihood that it includes all IRGC-QF paramilitary trainers and personnel working under diplomatic, business and religious cover. Many of these IRGC-QF members are focused on developing relationships with Venezuelan youth of Arab origin, who are viewed as potential intelligence and militant recruits. Some of these recruits are brought to Iran for training, and STRATFOR sources claim that several Hezbollah trainers are included among the IRGC-QF personnel. However, these efforts remain limited given the relatively small size of the Shiite community in Venezuela, believed to be less than one percent of Venezuela’s Muslims, which comprise roughly four percent of the population.

A portion of IRGC-QF members are believed to interact with militants belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombia’s largest paramilitary group. The Chavez government is widely believed to provide direct support for FARC rebels and smaller Colombian paramilitary groups, but the Venezuelan president also appears wary of the IRGC-QF interaction with these groups. A STRATFOR source has indicated that IRGC-QF links with FARC are designed to give Iran the option of targeting U.S. interests in Colombia should the need for retaliation arise (for example, in the event of a U.S. military strike on Iran). The source says the IRGC-QF does not have a presence in Colombia but supports FARC from the paramilitary group’s sanctuary along the Venezuelan border. While it remains highly doubtful that Iran would be able to exert the necessary influence over FARC to direct their attacks against U.S. targets, simply having FARC as the main culprit for attacks in Colombia could provide Iran with the plausible deniability it seeks in such attacks.

The Venezuelan government appears to be benefiting in part by hosting the IRGC-QF, but, like Iran, wants to ensure some level of plausible deniability. A STRATFOR source claims that some IRGC-QF members have been integrated into Venezuela’s National Guard and police force, where they provide assistance to the Chavez government in containing the opposition. IRGC-QF and Hezbollah personnel also are believed to be involved in irregular warfare training for some Venezuelan army units, in addition to FARC. Chavez has publicly endorsed the concept of “asymmetric warfare” in his restructuring of the Venezuelan army to guard against potential military threats from Colombia and the United States.

That said, Chavez also is wary of IRGC-QF activities directed at the United States. According to the source, Chavez has strongly cautioned Iran against allowing IRGC-QF to target U.S. interests in Venezuela itself. Despite his heated rhetoric against the United States, the Venezuelan president does not wish to invite a strong U.S. reprisal and would rather keep their militant focus on Venezuela’s main regional rival, Colombia.
25328  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: April 23, 2010, 11:53:35 AM
Iran: Quds Force in Venezuela
April 22, 2010 | 2253 GMT
 Text Resize:   



AFP/Getty Images
Iranian Revolutionary Guard special forces participate in military exercises in 2006Summary
A recently published U.S. Department of Defense report claims that members of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force (IRGC-QF) currently are operating in Venezuela. STRATFOR sources claim that the relatively limited number of IRGC-QF in Venezuela are focused on intelligence operations, paramilitary training for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and security assistance for the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Though the IRGC-QF presence brings certain benefits to the Venezuelan government, Chavez also has an interest in keeping their proxy militant focus on Colombia.

Analysis
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates submitted a report to Congress in April on the current and future military strategy of Iran. Included in the report is a claim that the Quds Force, the overseas operations arm of Iran’s elite military force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has developed a significant presence in Latin America, particularly in Venezuela. STRATFOR sources connected to this Iranian military unit have confirmed a small but notable presence in Venezuela. Though IRGC-QF members in Venezuela are believed to be providing some security assistance to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan leader does not appear interested in incurring reprisals from the United States and is consequently trying to direct the anti-U.S. activities of the IRGC-QF toward neighboring Colombia.

As the Pentagon report states, IRGC-QF members usually are stationed in foreign embassies, charities and religious or cultural institutions as intelligence officers to develop ties with the Shiite diaspora and other potential allies. The U.S. military even has labeled incoming and outgoing Iranian ambassadors to Iraq as IRGC-QF members. On a more narrow scale, the IRGC-QF arms, funds and trains various paramilitary groups as an extension of Iran’s well-developed militant proxy arm. The IRGC-QF is believed to have worked with proxies to orchestrate major attacks against U.S. and U.S.-allied targets, including the 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia and a number of insurgent attacks targeting U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. By keeping this elite unit in reserve in various pockets of the globe, Iran has the ability to carry out attacks under plausible deniability. The reality of Iran’s retaliatory options — made possible by the IRGC-QF — has factored heavily into U.S. war-gaming exercises against Iran.

Joined by their mutually hostile relationship with the United States, Iran and Venezuela have grown to be close allies in the past several years. A good portion of this relationship consists of rhetoric designed to grab the attention of Washington, but significant forms of cooperation do exist between the two countries. STRATFOR sources have indicated many of the inflated economic deals signed between Iran and Venezuela and the establishment of the Banco Internacional de Desarrollo (an Iranian banking subsidiary headquartered in Caracas) are designed to facilitate Iran’s money laundering efforts while providing the Venezuelan government with an additional source of illicit revenue.

The Iranian-Venezuelan relationship also extends into the militant proxy world. Though this information has not been confirmed, STRATFOR sources claim the current IRGC-QF presence in Venezuela is limited to roughly 300 members. This estimate could well be on the high side, considering the likelihood that it includes all IRGC-QF paramilitary trainers and personnel working under diplomatic, business and religious cover. Many of these IRGC-QF members are focused on developing relationships with Venezuelan youth of Arab origin, who are viewed as potential intelligence and militant recruits. Some of these recruits are brought to Iran for training, and STRATFOR sources claim that several Hezbollah trainers are included among the IRGC-QF personnel. However, these efforts remain limited given the relatively small size of the Shiite community in Venezuela, believed to be less than one percent of Venezuela’s Muslims, which comprise roughly four percent of the population.

A portion of IRGC-QF members are believed to interact with militants belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombia’s largest paramilitary group. The Chavez government is widely believed to provide direct support for FARC rebels and smaller Colombian paramilitary groups, but the Venezuelan president also appears wary of the IRGC-QF interaction with these groups. A STRATFOR source has indicated that IRGC-QF links with FARC are designed to give Iran the option of targeting U.S. interests in Colombia should the need for retaliation arise (for example, in the event of a U.S. military strike on Iran). The source says the IRGC-QF does not have a presence in Colombia but supports FARC from the paramilitary group’s sanctuary along the Venezuelan border. While it remains highly doubtful that Iran would be able to exert the necessary influence over FARC to direct their attacks against U.S. targets, simply having FARC as the main culprit for attacks in Colombia could provide Iran with the plausible deniability it seeks in such attacks.

The Venezuelan government appears to be benefiting in part by hosting the IRGC-QF, but, like Iran, wants to ensure some level of plausible deniability. A STRATFOR source claims that some IRGC-QF members have been integrated into Venezuela’s National Guard and police force, where they provide assistance to the Chavez government in containing the opposition. IRGC-QF and Hezbollah personnel also are believed to be involved in irregular warfare training for some Venezuelan army units, in addition to FARC. Chavez has publicly endorsed the concept of “asymmetric warfare” in his restructuring of the Venezuelan army to guard against potential military threats from Colombia and the United States.

That said, Chavez also is wary of IRGC-QF activities directed at the United States. According to the source, Chavez has strongly cautioned Iran against allowing IRGC-QF to target U.S. interests in Venezuela itself. Despite his heated rhetoric against the United States, the Venezuelan president does not wish to invite a strong U.S. reprisal and would rather keep their militant focus on Venezuela’s main regional rival, Colombia.
25329  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Case Study: A shooting in Philly on: April 22, 2010, 09:16:18 PM
a) The judge's reasoning seems quite specious to me.

b) One might note that carrying a gun while drinking might be a real poor idea

c) Reading between the lines, does anyone infer that the girlfriend instigated things?



25330  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / South Park censored on: April 22, 2010, 09:12:14 PM
Hat tip to GM on this:

Dhimmitude in corporate media:

http://hotair.com/archives/2010/04/22/comedy-central-censors-all-references-to-mohammed-on-south-park/comment-page-1/#comments
25331  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spring 2010 DB Tribal Gathering on: April 22, 2010, 09:20:41 AM
Lonely and crew apparently have escaped from Europe and will be arriving today.  Tricky is brining 3 or 4 from the Vancouver clan.  The Tribe begins to gather.  THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES!

"Higher consciousness through harder contact"(c) !!!
25332  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: April 21, 2010, 08:14:08 PM
Great moment of baseball

http://video.yahoo.com/watch/7364830?fr=yvmtf
25333  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Case Study: A shooting in Philly on: April 21, 2010, 10:07:28 AM
Is this sound legal reasoning on the part of the judge?

"Despite arguments during the preliminary hearing from defense attorney Jack McMahon that Ung, 28, acted in self-defense after being confronted by four men, Philadelphia Municipal Judge David Shuter said his ruling was based on the number of bullets fired at vital body parts."
25334  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Tactical Gun Issues on: April 21, 2010, 08:07:45 AM
Woof All:

Kicking this thread off with something from Gabe Suarez:

TAC,
CD
===============
, , , The concern is that the good guy CCW taking out the tango might be misidentified by police and shot. Police shoot one of their own every 18 months around the nation so it is pretty likely.

Contributing factors seem to be as follows -

You are more likely to be mistakenly shot by police in areas where the carry of weapons by citizens is not common. Places like New York or Los Angeles immediately come to mind. The notion is only cops or criminals have guns.

You are more likely to be shot if the first thing the police see is the gun....specially if it is pointed in their direction.

You are more likely to be shot by police if when challenged, if challenged, you begin to turn toward them. This is problematic as it is a natural reaction to hearing a sound.

Solutions - Well clearly we will not stop carrying guns because of that risk, but it is infact a risk that cannot be ignored. The solutions seem to be in creating a moment of indecission for any responding officers about your misidentification as a bad guy. This is dangerous for them as hesitation kills, but from your perspective, hesitation also saves you by causing indecission.

First, forget low ready. Shoot the bad guy when you need to shoot him, and then do what you can to hide the image of the gun. That means you use Sul, or the Covered Sul we are now teaching as well. , , , (For those not familiar with this term, sul is a position wherein the gun hand point the gun downward, resting on the complementary hand, the palm of which is placed on the torso.  Although some gun people feel there are better alternatives for how to hold the gun while not aiming and shooting, sul does have the advantage of allowing one to turn to/through any direction without muzzle sweeping.  Here it is being offered as a way of lessening the visibility of your gun to someone just arriving.-- Crafty)  You can certainly still shoot additional bad guys if needed but it is not obvious.

Two, you do not need to cover the bad guy at gunpoint as you stand over him like TJ Hooker. Shoot what you need to shoot until you no longer need to shoot then haul ass to cover and hide.

If challenged, grip the barrel/slide of the pistol with your support hand and yell back loud as possible. "I am a good guy....I am a good guy. Don't Shoot. Don't Shoot" with an emphasis on DON'T. Raise your empty hand over your head and the barrel/slide gripped pistol in the other over your head. Alternatively you can also simply let the pistol fall.

Then do as you are told. It will all be sorted out, but you will be alive.
25335  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson: Construction of Constitution leads to blank paper on: April 21, 2010, 07:57:25 AM
"Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Wilson Nicholas, 1803


25336  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: April 21, 2010, 07:50:31 AM
In the article CCP posted it said:

"Most recently, we were warned that the FISA Court had somehow imposed a requirement that a warrant be obtained in order to intercept purely foreign telephone calls that were traveling through U.S. wires.  Anyone who understood the FISA law realized that this couldn’t possibly be right—and as Justice Department officials finally admitted under pressure, that wasn’t true either."

This "traveling through US wires" thing is something I have read and believed for several years.  Its been a lie?!?  angry angry angry  Does anyone have anything more on this?!?

=======
On the subject of the Constitution being "a living document", this seems pertinent to me:

"Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Wilson Nicholas, 1803


25337  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Glen Beck on: April 21, 2010, 07:43:38 AM
Exactly so.  Beck is consistently clear that he is not suitable material for being a candidate.  He is also consistently clear about religious tolerance and regularly uses a wonderful Ben Franklin quote about the American religion.

Nice show last night.  All last year the intro graphics for the show showed George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Martin Luther King.  IMHO it is brilliant and profound to include MLK as a Founding Father (btw, I have done the same on our Founding Fathers thread on the SCH forum , , , great minds think alike  cheesy )

 One of the three guests last night was MLKing's niece.  The other two were Ted Nugent and, said with love, a pointy head Princeton professor.  Its a helluva a new coalition that Beck is building IMHO.  Beck's theme and closing riff about the Anvil of Truth and the Hammer of Non-violence (MLK and Ghandi) is well and wisely chosen.
25338  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Super Shia Bloc forming? on: April 21, 2010, 07:34:05 AM
Tuesday, April 20, 2010   STRATFOR.COM  Diary Archives 

Considering a Possible Super Shia Bloc in Iraq
IRAQ SAW PERHAPS THE SINGLE BIGGEST potential speed bump yet since the March 7 parliamentary elections as the winners attempt to form a coalition government. By most measures, the Shia blocs of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law and the sectarian Iraqi National Alliance (which came in second and third in the polls, respectively) appear to be moving toward the formation of a “super Shia” bloc. The Kurdish bloc has pledged to join such an alliance. Taken as a whole, this presents the serious threat that Iraq’s Sunnis may again be politically marginalized.

A super Shia bloc could outmaneuver al-Iraqiya, the centrist, non-sectarian grouping led by former interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. Al-Iraqiya had broad appeal across ethno-sectarian lines at the polls and won the most seats in the election. It was widely supported by the Sunnis, and so its success would bring them to the center of the political process, while its marginalization would risk another political disenfranchisement. In response to the prospects of the super Shia bloc, on Monday al-Iraqiya’s spokeswoman reportedly threatened to withdraw from “the entire political process, including withdrawal from the next Iraqi parliament, if some parliamentary blocs insist on concluding an alliance between them in an attempt to exclude or marginalize [al-Iraqiya].”

This may simply be political maneuvering, and al-Iraqiya is certainly not averse to a brinksmanship strategy if that is what it takes to ensure that it is brought into the ruling coalition. Parliamentary coalition building is often a particularly messy process, even in countries with a long history of it. In Baghdad, this is in many ways the first time it has ever been attempted; the Sunnis largely boycotted the 2005 polls. This led to their disenfranchisement and intensified the insurgency, but dramatically simplified the formation of a coalition government because an entire swath of the population was effectively uninvolved.

Al-Iraqiya could get shut out of the government. It could voluntarily choose to go into opposition. There is no shortage of potential scenarios in parliamentary coalition building, and the Iraqi case this year is particularly intricate.

“Iraq is moving from comparative post-election quietude into a phase of decisive maneuvering.”
The coalition-building process is the dynamic of central importance in Iraq right now. There is still room for all sides to maneuver, but as Iraq inches closer to a firm coalition, there will necessarily be winners and losers. There is little to suggest that the State of Law and Iraqi National Alliance blocs will not be able to agree upon the formation of a super Shia bloc, thus creating a sectarian Shia group rather than the more diverse al-Iraqiya, the single most powerful political entity in the country. With the Kurds’ imperative being to side with the winner, and having already pledged to join the super Shia bloc, al-Iraqiya getting shut out of the ruling coalition is a very real possibility.

And this strikes at the heart of the fate of Iraq. The Sunnis appeared to have made enormous political progress at the polls in March, compared to 2005. Now they face potentially being shut out of Iraqi politics yet again. The Sunnis in Iraq are fractious, and the downfall of al-Iraqiya would not necessarily lead to widespread violence. But the re-emergence of some levels of violence are certainly not outside the realm of possibility, even following the reported deaths of top al Qaeda leaders Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayub al-Masri in Iraq.

But Iraq’s fate is not the only issue in question. A super Shia bloc would provide Iran with substantial influence within the central government of Iraq — something the Turks, Saudis and other Arabs are aggressively attempting to counterbalance, namely by supporting al-Iraqiya. And they are not likely to take any potential marginalization of al-Iraqiya lightly either. After years of violence, most everyone in the region wants a more stable Iraq. But what sacrifices each player in the region is willing to make to facilitate Iraqi stability is another question entirely.

Meanwhile, the formation of the government and the durability of the fragile balance of power and hard-won stability in the country is of central importance for the looming U.S. drawdown of all combat troops, which would see current troop levels halved to 50,000 by the end of August. And even after that drawdown, the only thing that has counterbalanced Persian power in the region since 2003 has been the U.S. military. How Tehran will be managed, especially with what is sure to be a strong Shia presence in any governing coalition in Baghdad, remains an open question.

And so Iraq is moving from comparative post-election quietude into a phase of decisive maneuvering within the country and beyond that will define the existence of Iraq — and the wider region — for years to come.

25339  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Sand Dancer on: April 20, 2010, 05:34:42 PM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6ZqKmaN2qw
25340  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Case Study: A shooting in Philly on: April 20, 2010, 04:26:49 PM
Posted on Sat, Apr. 17, 2010

Temple law student ordered to trial in shooting

By MENSAH M. DEAN
Philadelphia Daily News
deanm@phillynews.com 215-854-5949

Gerald Ung, the third-year Temple University law school student charged with shooting a Villanova University graduate five times in front of the Fox29 studios in January, must go to trial, a Philadelphia judge said yesterday.
Despite arguments during the preliminary hearing from defense attorney Jack McMahon that Ung, 28, acted in self-defense after being confronted by four men, Philadelphia Municipal Judge David Shuter said his ruling was based on the number of bullets fired at vital body parts.

Ung, out on bail, is charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, possession of an instrument of crime, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person in the shooting of Edward DiDonato Jr. at 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 17.

Shuter dismissed two additional gun charges because Ung had a valid handgun permit from his home state of Virginia. Ung has withdrawn from law school and returned to live with his family in Arlington, Va., until his legal case is completed, McMahon said.

DiDonato, 23, son of Center City lawyer Edward DiDonato Sr. and nephew of city Republican leader Michael Meehan, is being treated at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital for paralysis of the bowels, bladder, sexual organs and left foot, said Assistant District Attorney Jan McDermott.

"This is a situation where the gun changes everything. Certainly, there was alcohol involved; both sides were drinking that night. "What years ago may have ended in a fistfight," she added, "unfortunately ended in the paralysis of a 23-year-old kid," she said.

McMahon contended that Ung - who was with two Temple University doctoral-candidate friends - was the victim of drunken bullies at 4th and Market streets.

"Four guys are drunk and they think they can bully anybody they want, say whatever they want and do whatever they want," McMahon said.
"He did not pull out any gun for a long period of time until he was rushed at by another individual," McMahon added.

Just one witness was called to testify yesterday - Seth Webster, one of DiDonato's three friends present at the shooting. After leaving an Old City bar, his group stopped at 4th and Market, where one friend started doing pull-ups on scaffolding, he said.

Ung and a female and male friend soon approached, and the female friend started doing pull-ups as well, Webster said.

Ung became upset and heated words were exchanged, Webster said.

One of the men, Tom Kelly, tried to rush Ung, but the woman with Ung stepped between them and was bumped, Webster said.

At this, Webster testified, Ung pulled his gun, pointed it at Kelly and waved it at him and DiDonato while saying, "Back the f--- up."

DiDonato said, "Who you gonna shoot?" and moved toward Ung, Webster said.

When Ung kicked at DiDonato to keep him back, DiDonato grabbed at Ung's leg, said Webster. As he fell backward, Ung began firing, according to Webster, and fired several more shots from the ground. After DiDonato had fallen, Ung appeared in shock, knelt beside the fallen man, touched his leg and called 9-1-1 on his cell phone, said Webster, who also called.
25341  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Three reads from a different state of mind on: April 20, 2010, 04:15:34 PM
http://catdir.loc.gov/catdir/samples/cam032/99088000.pdf

http://www.routledgestrategicstudies.com/books/Deterring-International-Terrorism-and-Rogue-States-isbn9780415771443

http://www.intelcenter.com/aqdocs.html
25342  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Dogs walk on sunshine on: April 20, 2010, 03:48:50 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=pkPNa4DBFHI
25343  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in NYC 6/19-20 on: April 20, 2010, 11:45:33 AM
TTT
25344  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Fannie and Freddie on: April 20, 2010, 10:37:05 AM
By PETER J. WALLISON
Now that nearly all the TARP funds used to bail out Wall Street banks have been repaid, the government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stand out as the source of the greatest taxpayer losses.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that, in the wake of the housing bubble and the unprecedented deflation in housing values that resulted, the government's cost to bail out Fannie and Freddie will eventually reach $381 billion. That estimate may be too optimistic.

Last Christmas Eve, Treasury removed the $400 billion cap on what the government might be required to invest in these two GSEs in the future, and this may tell the real story about the cost to taxpayers. In typical Washington fashion, everyone has amnesia about how this disaster occurred.

The story is all too familiar. Politicians in positions of authority today had an opportunity to prevent this fiasco but did nothing. Now—in the name of the taxpayers—they want more power, but they have never been called to account for their earlier failings.

One chapter in this story took place in July 2005, when the Senate Banking Committee, then controlled by the Republicans, adopted tough regulatory legislation for the GSEs on a party-line vote—all Republicans in favor, all Democrats opposed. The bill would have established a new regulator for Fannie and Freddie and given it authority to ensure that they maintained adequate capital, properly managed their interest rate risk, had adequate liquidity and reserves, and controlled their asset and investment portfolio growth.

These authorities were necessary to control the GSEs' risk-taking, but opposition by Fannie and Freddie—then the most politically powerful firms in the country—had consistently prevented reform.

The date of the Senate Banking Committee's action is important. It was in 2005 that the GSEs—which had been acquiring increasing numbers of subprime and Alt-A loans for many years in order to meet their HUD-imposed affordable housing requirements—accelerated the purchases that led to their 2008 insolvency. If legislation along the lines of the Senate committee's bill had been enacted in that year, many if not all the losses that Fannie and Freddie have suffered, and will suffer in the future, might have been avoided.

Why was there no action in the full Senate? As most Americans know today, it takes 60 votes to cut off debate in the Senate, and the Republicans had only 55. To close debate and proceed to the enactment of the committee-passed bill, the Republicans needed five Democrats to vote with them. But in a 45 member Democratic caucus that included Barack Obama and the current Senate Banking Chairman Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.), these votes could not be found.

Recently, President Obama has taken to accusing others of representing "special interests." In an April radio address he stated that his financial regulatory proposals were struggling in the Senate because "the financial industry and its powerful lobby have opposed modest safeguards against the kinds of reckless risks and bad practices that led to this very crisis."

He should know. As a senator, he was the third largest recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, behind only Sens. Chris Dodd and John Kerry.

With hypocrisy like this at the top, is it any wonder that nearly 80% of Americans, according to new Pew polling, don't trust the federal government or its ability to solve the country's problems?

Mr. Wallison is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
25345  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA versus Reality/Survival based skills on: April 20, 2010, 10:32:40 AM
IFWA: In Fight Weapon Access
25346  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: New to the forums.. on: April 20, 2010, 10:29:52 AM
Good to see you here BB  cool
25347  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Kali Tudo...hows it going in mma on: April 20, 2010, 10:29:12 AM
Posted by Minority of One on my FB page:

"People really need to get the Kali Tudo material if they haven't already. I've trained guys in MMA for a while now and have been in the martial arts for over 15 yrs......this Kali Tudo material is by far some of the most innovative stuff out right now in the MA world! It's open the doors of possibility and truly changes the game of fighting. Adding these concepts to my game has really caused new headaches for my sparring partners. "
25348  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Glen Beck on: April 20, 2010, 10:22:53 AM
As he did last night, Beck can look the camera in the eye and speak from the heart for an hour off the cuff.  Don't be fooled by his "regular Joe, self taught" spiel, IMHO the man actuall has a substantial grasp of quite a few issues and does a remarkable job of conveying complex issues to regular people. 

As for the religion thing, I think his larger point, made by being a bit ostentatious about it, is that we do better as individuals and as a people when we look to our spiritual values instead of our government for substance in how to live. 

I like Sarah and she certainly has the right enemies, but I doubt the intellectual heft or the life experiences to prepare for higher office.   Perhaps a term or two in the Senate could give her some more substance.
25349  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: April 20, 2010, 10:11:19 AM
It is not so much "his" point that I posted the piece for as for the reflections in us readers that it triggers.
25350  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Glen Beck on: April 20, 2010, 10:08:44 AM
What on earth is wrong with a prayer session?
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