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25351  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Old Jews telling jokes on: June 23, 2009, 11:40:18 AM
http://oldjewstellingjokes.com/
25352  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Retired woman cop chokes bank robber on: June 23, 2009, 11:38:44 AM
Woman puts man in sleeper hold, stops bank heist

Monday, June 22, 2009

(06-22) 20:09 PDT Mission Viejo, Calif. (AP) --
Cyndi Orel worked as a police officer for 25 years and never caught a bank robber. She was apparently saving that hobby for retirement.

The retired Long Beach police officer foiled a bank robbery at a grocery store Saturday when she put a 220-pound bank robber in a chokehold until he passed out. Orel is about 5 feet 7 inches and 128 pounds

"I never caught a bank robber," Orel said Monday at press conference held by the Orange County sheriff's office. "This was pretty exciting just because of the nature. You don't have time to think about it. You just react."

Orel was at the Mission Viejo Albertsons store when a bank employee shouted that a man with a gun was trying to rob the branch. As another shopper scuffled with the robber, Orel put a sleeper hold on him, blocking blood to his brain and making him pass out twice. Later, they discovered the man did not have a gun. (NOTE: certainly the possibility of things turning out differently was quite possible had he been armed).


Orel credited the man who helped subdue the robber, but sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said she was "being modest because if it wasn't for the control hold that she placed on him he would not have been rendered unconscious."

Orel said she learned the move at the police academy 28 years earlier, and only used it a few times during her years on patrol. She retired in 2006 but said she keeps active by running laps and lifting small weights.
Deputies arrested Tony Fennell, 52, of Las Vegas, who they believe committed eight to 10 bank robberies, Amormino said.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/06/22/state/n200930D89.DTL
25353  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Stephens-- religion of peace on: June 23, 2009, 09:01:29 AM
It isn't always that the words Allahu Akbar sound this sweet to Western ears.

It's a muggy Friday afternoon and I'm standing curbside right outside Iran's Permanent Mission to the U.N. in New York City. Preaching in Farsi is a turbaned Shiite imam named Mohsen Kadivar. Hours earlier, in Tehran, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had delivered a bullying sermon at Tehran University, warning the opposition that they would be "responsible for bloodshed and chaos" if they continued to march. Mr. Kadivar's sermon -- punctuated by the Allahu Akbars of 20 or so kneeling worshippers -- is intended as a direct riposte. Allahu Akbar has also become the rallying cry of the demonstrators in Iran.

Mr. Kadivar, 50, is a well-known quantity in Iran. As a young engineering student he was arrested by the Shah's police for agitating against the regime. He later became a seminarian in Qom, where he studied under the increasingly liberal-leaning Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri. Like his teacher, who had once been the Ayatollah Khomeini's designated successor, Mr. Kadivar ran afoul of the regime. In 1999, he was arrested a second time and jailed for 18 months. He credits Mir Hossein Mousavi -- then a university faculty colleague of his -- for helping to spring him free. He's now teaching at Duke.

 
Iranian reformist clergyman Mohsen Kadivar.
Mr. Kadivar's chief claim to fame rests on a three-part work of political philosophy titled "The Theories of the State in Shiite Jurisprudence." At heart, it is a devastating theological critique of the Ayatollah Khomeini's notion of "the rule of the jurist" (Velayat e Faqih), which serves as the rationale for the near-dictatorial powers enjoyed by the Supreme Leader.

"The principle of Velayat e-Faqih is neither intuitively obvious nor rationally necessary," Mr. Kadivar wrote. "It is neither a requirement of religion nor a necessity for denomination. It is neither a part of Shiite general principles nor a component of detailed observances. It is, by near consensus of the Shiite Ulama, nothing more than a jurisprudential minor hypothesis."

Or, as Mr. Kadivar simplified it for me in an interview in the back of his van, "There are two interpretations of Islam. The aggressive Islam of Ahmadinejad, or the mercy Islam of Mousavi."

Why is this significant? Take a look at the color Mr. Mousavi's supporters have chosen for their movement: Green is the color of Islam, meaning the demonstrators are taking on the regime on its own terms. Part of that challenge is to Iran's republican pretensions, mocked by voter turnout that the regime itself admits exceeded 100% in some 50 districts.


Global View columnist Bret Stephens describes the path to democracy.
Those pretensions were mostly a farce to begin with, given the nature of a system rigged to produce an "Islamic" result. But they also served as a thin edge of the wedge, creating the opening through which a theocratic state can be challenged on theological grounds. In so doing, they exposed what might be described as the twin paradoxes of the Islamic Revolution.

The first is that any revolution carried out in the name of God is also susceptible to being challenged in the name of God -- and God has many names. As with the Communist revolutions of the 20th century, which were ultimately answerable to the verdict of History in which they placed so much stock, the ideological foundation of the Islamic Revolution rests with the prevailing views of a Shiite clerisy. Thanks to people like Mr. Kadivar, those views now tilt increasingly against the regime: So far, he notes, two of Iran's four major seminaries have refused to endorse Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's "victory."

The second paradox involves the nature of revolution itself. All political revolutions involve liberation, at least from whatever came before. But liberation is not a synonym for liberty and is often antithetical to it. In 1979, Iran was "liberated" from the Shah's oppressive rule, but it did not gain any measure of liberty. Thirty years on, what the demonstrators in Tehran's streets seek is to join the liberationist impulses of the regime's founding with the liberal aspirations of the revolution's children.

Whether they'll succeed will depend partly on their willingness to continue their protests -- possibly through crippling work stoppages -- but mostly on the willingness of the regime to enforce its will. Mr. Kadivar is convinced a large segment of the regime's all-important Revolutionary Guards side with the demonstrators. But they have their own perquisites to look after, and liberal revolutionaries are often crippled by their own innate distaste of violence.

Which makes it all the more essential that a regime that has lost its legitimacy in the eyes of its people not recover it through international recognition. Mr. Kadivar praises President Obama's "no meddling" stance so far, but insists the president not recognize Mr. Ahmadinejad's government once its second term officially begins in August. He shouldn't hold his breath. As for the green revolutionaries, they will soon find out what consolation, or strength, they draw from knowing God is on their side, with or without America.
25354  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton on: June 23, 2009, 08:36:41 AM
"[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, 1788
25355  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: June 23, 2009, 08:34:53 AM
Nice piece Rachel-- though the curmudgeon in me notes IIRC that the man the young in Teheran are supporting was a key founder in the nuke program which may well be intended to wipe out Israel.

Anyway, enjoy your vacation, we look forward to your return.

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

By Tzvi Freeman
The history of humankind is not about the rise and fall of empires, their wars and their conquests. It is about a different sort of war, a singular one: The battle over whether the Creator of this place belongs here or in some heaven above.

That is the battle each one of us fights, and that is the story of all humanity's journey. And that is all that really matters. For that is all there is to any human being.
25356  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Palo Canario on: June 23, 2009, 01:31:23 AM
Claro que si'.  Lo buscare' en buena resolucion.

Las tres proximas semanas seran dificiles.  Parece que Cindy estara' escogida para "jury duty" (los 12 personas quienes deciden inocente o culpable) en un caso de invasion de casa y matanza-- por lo cual yo estare' responsables para nuestros hijos.
25357  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm): The Running Dog Game on: June 23, 2009, 01:21:20 AM
http://maxiitheblindwatchmaker.blogspot.com/2009/06/kali-tudo-2-tm-running-game-vs-guard.html
25358  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Team Kali Tudo on: June 23, 2009, 12:41:35 AM
I too am enjoying this class greatly.  Its nice to see people moving forward briskly.  cool

SS: Poi,  I forgot to mention today that Kevin sends his apologies for not making it.
====================

Today we deepened our understanding of the "half carrot dodger dracula".  As we began drilling briskly with gloves, it became apparent that we needed to clean up the precision of our silat elbows, so the middle section of the class when to some KT clinch work and the combination which we use to teach the movements.  Having cleaned the movement up, we brought it back to "half carrot dodger-dracula" and all reported feeling pleased at the greater and safer efficiency of the attack developed by the clinch training patterns.  As a teacher I felt very , , , crafty.
25359  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Second today from Stratfor on: June 23, 2009, 12:18:04 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Iran's Battles on the Streets and Behind the Scenes
June 22, 2009
Over the past 72 hours, the city of Tehran has become a glass house. The windows are a bit dirty due to media censorship, but through Web sites like YouTube and Twitter — and simply by word of mouth — the world has gotten a decent glimpse of threats to the Islamic Republic being met with an iron fist.

Most of the Western media coverage of the demonstrations in Tehran has been emotion-driven and focused on a segment of the Iranian population — dominated by educated, young urban elites — that has dared to cross a line by shouting “death to the dictator” against the president and supreme leader, and in calling for a Green Revolution to bring down the system established by the Islamic Revolution. This somewhat distorted coverage not only fails to seriously consider Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s significant and legitimate popularity in the country, but also spreads a perception that a mass revolution has taken root. However, evidence points to the contrary.

A good measure of a revolution is its response to repression. As the weekend progressed, the state’s tools of repression were put to work, and the demonstrations dwindled in size. Just as important, the people protesting on Sunday were from the same social group as those protesting from the beginning. In other words, the bazaar merchants, the socially and religiously conservative lower classes, the labor groups and others lacked a reason for or interest in joining a movement of urban youths.

The world may not be witnessing an overnight revolution, but there is no doubt that the regime is greatly unnerved by the demonstrations. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued an ultimatum at Friday prayers, calling for protesters to end the demonstrations and accept Ahmadinejad as president. That demand was openly defied and only increased the protesters’ fervor. In the longer term, it will become increasingly difficult for the regime to keep a lid on this dissent, but the state has all the tools it needs to put down such uprisings for now.

What is far more concerning for Khamenei is what is happening behind the scenes, among the clerical and military elite. Ahmadinejad has been the catalyst for a political brawl among highly influential figures in the clerical establishment, including Assembly of Experts Chairman Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani. These prominent politicians and clerics, among others who hail from the holy city of Qom, view Ahmadinejad — a non-clerical, firebrand president who happens to have the backing of the supreme leader — as a major threat not only to their own political careers, but also to the unity and power of the wealthy clerical establishment.

Each of these figures has battled Ahmadinejad in his own way: Mir Hossein Mousavi, a member of the Expediency Council, has had (relatively speaking) the least to lose as a branded reformist, and therefore put a lot on the line by assuming leadership of the demonstrations on Saturday. Now, Mousavi is nowhere to be found. Rafsanjani has stayed out of sight, but has been extremely active in pressuring Khamenei and using as leverage his position in the Assembly of Experts — an institution that has the power to dismiss the supreme leader. Larijani has moved much more carefully. With visible reluctance, he sat next to Ahmadinejad during last Friday’s sermon, in a demonstration of solidarity requested by the supreme leader himself. However, he has not backed down from demanding probes into violence committed by Basij militiamen against protesters, and on Sunday, he accused the Guardians Council outright of being biased toward Ahmadinejad in this election. Meanwhile, senior cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri (who long was expected to be the successor to Islamic Republic founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini) has been trying to energize demonstrators and is rumored to be calling for a national strike.

This power struggle also appears to be nipping at the non-clerical security establishment. Figures like defeated presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaie — who was head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for 16 years — and Yayha Rahim Safavi, who commanded the IRGC for 10 years and is now military adviser to Khamenei, are staunch opponents of Ahmadinejad. Given their tenures, they also wield a great deal of influence among those whose duty it is to defend the Islamic Republic. STRATFOR is also getting some indications that fissures are emerging within the military over the election fallout, though the degree of the tension remains unclear.

Altogether, this battle — taking place far from the world of Twitter — is the more immediate threat to Iran’s stability. The level of infighting in the regime’s upper levels is unprecedented and represents a litmus test for a supreme leader who, for two decades, has attempted to rule by consensus among the clerics and military elite. Ahmadinejad looks to have shaken things up more than Khamenei anticipated, and there is no guarantee that Khamenei’s clout will be enough to subdue this growing anti-Ahmadinejad coalition.

Things are looking rocky for the supreme leader, but political warfare among elites is not unique to Iran by any means. Such infighting is part and parcel of any politically competitive environment. Still, the Islamic Republic has never witnessed such deep schisms in the institutions that are designed to safeguard the Islamic Revolution. Khamenei has made a conscious choice in defending Ahmadinejad, but the price of that choice is creeping upward by the day.
25360  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: June 22, 2009, 04:16:09 PM
By George Friedman

Related Link
The Geopolitics of Iran: Holding the Center of a Mountain Fortress
Related Special Topic Page
Ongoing Coverage and Updates
Successful revolutions have three phases. First, a strategically located single or limited segment of society begins vocally to express resentment, asserting itself in the streets of a major city, usually the capital. This segment is joined by other segments in the city and by segments elsewhere as the demonstration spreads to other cities and becomes more assertive, disruptive and potentially violent. As resistance to the regime spreads, the regime deploys its military and security forces. These forces, drawn from resisting social segments and isolated from the rest of society, turn on the regime, and stop following the regime’s orders. This is what happened to the Shah of Iran in 1979; it is also what happened in Russia in 1917 or in Romania in 1989.

Revolutions fail when no one joins the initial segment, meaning the initial demonstrators are the ones who find themselves socially isolated. When the demonstrations do not spread to other cities, the demonstrations either peter out or the regime brings in the security and military forces — who remain loyal to the regime and frequently personally hostile to the demonstrators — and use force to suppress the rising to the extent necessary. This is what happened in Tiananmen Square in China: The students who rose up were not joined by others. Military forces who were not only loyal to the regime but hostile to the students were brought in, and the students were crushed.

A Question of Support
This is also what happened in Iran this week. The global media, obsessively focused on the initial demonstrators — who were supporters of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s opponents — failed to notice that while large, the demonstrations primarily consisted of the same type of people demonstrating. Amid the breathless reporting on the demonstrations, reporters failed to notice that the uprising was not spreading to other classes and to other areas. In constantly interviewing English-speaking demonstrators, they failed to note just how many of the demonstrators spoke English and had smartphones. The media thus did not recognize these as the signs of a failing revolution.

Later, when Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke Friday and called out the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, they failed to understand that the troops — definitely not drawn from what we might call the “Twittering classes,” would remain loyal to the regime for ideological and social reasons. The troops had about as much sympathy for the demonstrators as a small-town boy from Alabama might have for a Harvard postdoc. Failing to understand the social tensions in Iran, the reporters deluded themselves into thinking they were witnessing a general uprising. But this was not St. Petersburg in 1917 or Bucharest in 1989 — it was Tiananmen Square.

In the global discussion last week outside Iran, there was a great deal of confusion about basic facts. For example, it is said that the urban-rural distinction in Iran is not critical any longer because according to the United Nations, 68 percent of Iranians are urbanized. This is an important point because it implies Iran is homogeneous and the demonstrators representative of the country. The problem is the Iranian definition of urban — and this is quite common around the world — includes very small communities (some with only a few thousand people) as “urban.” But the social difference between someone living in a town with 10,000 people and someone living in Tehran is the difference between someone living in Bastrop, Texas and someone living in New York. We can assure you that that difference is not only vast, but that most of the good people of Bastrop and the fine people of New York would probably not see the world the same way. The failure to understand the dramatic diversity of Iranian society led observers to assume that students at Iran’s elite university somehow spoke for the rest of the country.

Tehran proper has about 8 million inhabitants; its suburbs bring it to about 13 million people out of Iran’s total population of 70.5 million. Tehran accounts for about 20 percent of Iran, but as we know, the cab driver and the construction worker are not socially linked to students at elite universities. There are six cities with populations between 1 million and 2.4 million people and 11 with populations of about 500,000. Including Tehran proper, 15.5 million people live in cities with more than 1 million and 19.7 million in cities greater than 500,000. Iran has 80 cities with more than 100,000. But given that Waco, Texas, has more than 100,000 people, inferences of social similarities between cities with 100,000 and 5 million are tenuous. And with metro Oklahoma City having more than a million people, it becomes plain that urbanization has many faces.

Winning the Election With or Without Fraud
We continue to believe two things: that vote fraud occurred, and that Ahmadinejad likely would have won without it. Very little direct evidence has emerged to establish vote fraud, but several things seem suspect.

For example, the speed of the vote count has been taken as a sign of fraud, as it should have been impossible to count votes that fast. The polls originally were to have closed at 7 p.m. local time, but voting hours were extended until 10 p.m. because of the number of voters in line. By 11:45 p.m. about 20 percent of the vote had been counted. By 5:20 a.m. the next day, with almost all votes counted, the election commission declared Ahmadinejad the winner. The vote count thus took about seven hours. (Remember there were no senators, congressmen, city council members or school board members being counted — just the presidential race.) Intriguingly, this is about the same time in took in 2005, though reformists that claimed fraud back then did not stress the counting time in their allegations.

The counting mechanism is simple: Iran has 47,000 voting stations, plus 14,000 roaming stations that travel from tiny village to tiny village, staying there for a short time before moving on. That creates 61,000 ballot boxes designed to receive roughly the same number of votes. That would mean that each station would have been counting about 500 ballots, or about 70 votes per hour. With counting beginning at 10 p.m., concluding seven hours later does not necessarily indicate fraud or anything else. The Iranian presidential election system is designed for simplicity: one race to count in one time zone, and all counting beginning at the same time in all regions, we would expect the numbers to come in a somewhat linear fashion as rural and urban voting patterns would balance each other out — explaining why voting percentages didn’t change much during the night.

It has been pointed out that some of the candidates didn’t even carry their own provinces or districts. We remember that Al Gore didn’t carry Tennessee in 2000. We also remember Ralph Nader, who also didn’t carry his home precinct in part because people didn’t want to spend their vote on someone unlikely to win — an effect probably felt by the two smaller candidates in the Iranian election.

That Mousavi didn’t carry his own province is more interesting. Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett writing in Politico make some interesting points on this. As an ethnic Azeri, it was assumed that Mousavi would carry his Azeri-named and -dominated home province. But they also point out that Ahmadinejad also speaks Azeri, and made multiple campaign appearances in the district. They also point out that Khamenei is Azeri. In sum, winning that district was by no means certain for Mousavi, so losing it does not automatically signal fraud. It raised suspicions, but by no means was a smoking gun.

We do not doubt that fraud occurred during Iranian election. For example, 99.4 percent of potential voters voted in Mazandaran province, a mostly secular area home to the shah’s family. Ahmadinejad carried the province by a 2.2 to 1 ratio. That is one heck of a turnout and level of support for a province that lost everything when the mullahs took over 30 years ago. But even if you take all of the suspect cases and added them together, it would not have changed the outcome. The fact is that Ahmadinejad’s vote in 2009 was extremely close to his victory percentage in 2005. And while the Western media portrayed Ahmadinejad’s performance in the presidential debates ahead of the election as dismal, embarrassing and indicative of an imminent electoral defeat, many Iranians who viewed those debates — including some of the most hardcore Mousavi supporters — acknowledge that Ahmadinejad outperformed his opponents by a landslide.

Mousavi persuasively detailed his fraud claims Sunday, and they have yet to be rebutted. But if his claims of the extent of fraud were true, the protests should have spread rapidly by social segment and geography to the millions of people who even the central government asserts voted for him. Certainly, Mousavi supporters believed they would win the election based in part on highly flawed polls, and when they didn’t, they assumed they were robbed and took to the streets.

But critically, the protesters were not joined by any of the millions whose votes the protesters alleged were stolen. In a complete hijacking of the election by some 13 million votes by an extremely unpopular candidate, we would have expected to see the core of Mousavi’s supporters joined by others who had been disenfranchised. On last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, when the demonstrations were at their height, the millions of Mousavi voters should have made their appearance. They didn’t. We might assume that the security apparatus intimidated some, but surely more than just the Tehran professional and student classes posses civic courage. While appearing large, the demonstrations actually comprised a small fraction of society.

Tensions Among the Political Elite
All of this not to say there are not tremendous tensions within the Iranian political elite. That no revolution broke out does not mean there isn’t a crisis in the political elite, particularly among the clerics. But that crisis does not cut the way Western common sense would have it. Many of Iran’s religious leaders see Ahmadinejad as hostile to their interests, as threatening their financial prerogatives, and as taking international risks they don’t want to take. Ahmadinejad’s political popularity in fact rests on his populist hostility to what he sees as the corruption of the clerics and their families and his strong stand on Iranian national security issues.

The clerics are divided among themselves, but many wanted to see Ahmadinejad lose to protect their own interests. Khamenei, the supreme leader, faced a difficult choice last Friday. He could demand a major recount or even new elections, or he could validate what happened. Khamenei speaks for a sizable chunk of the ruling elite, but also has had to rule by consensus among both clerical and non-clerical forces. Many powerful clerics like Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani wanted Khamenei to reverse the election, and we suspect Khamenei wished he could have found a way to do it. But as the defender of the regime, he was afraid to. Mousavi supporters’ demonstrations would have been nothing compared to the firestorm among Ahmadinejad supporters — both voters and the security forces — had their candidate been denied. Khamenei wasn’t going to flirt with disaster, so he endorsed the outcome.

The Western media misunderstood this because they didn’t understand that Ahmadinejad does not speak for the clerics but against them, that many of the clerics were working for his defeat, and that Ahmadinejad has enormous pull in the country’s security apparatus. The reason Western media missed this is because they bought into the concept of the stolen election, therefore failing to see Ahmadinejad’s support and the widespread dissatisfaction with the old clerical elite. The Western media simply didn’t understand that the most traditional and pious segments of Iranian society support Ahmadinejad because he opposes the old ruling elite. Instead, they assumed this was like Prague or Budapest in 1989, with a broad-based uprising in favor of liberalism against an unpopular regime.

Tehran in 2009, however, was a struggle between two main factions, both of which supported the Islamic republic as it was. There were the clerics, who have dominated the regime since 1979 and had grown wealthy in the process. And there was Ahmadinejad, who felt the ruling clerical elite had betrayed the revolution with their personal excesses. And there also was the small faction the BBC and CNN kept focusing on — the demonstrators in the streets who want to dramatically liberalize the Islamic republic. This faction never stood a chance of taking power, whether by election or revolution. The two main factions used the third smaller faction in various ways, however. Ahmadinejad used it to make his case that the clerics who supported them, like Rafsanjani, would risk the revolution and play into the hands of the Americans and British to protect their own wealth. Meanwhile, Rafsanjani argued behind the scenes that the unrest was the tip of the iceberg, and that Ahmadinejad had to be replaced. Khamenei, an astute politician, examined the data and supported Ahmadinejad.

Now, as we saw after Tiananmen Square, we will see a reshuffling among the elite. Those who backed Mousavi will be on the defensive. By contrast, those who supported Ahmadinejad are in a powerful position. There is a massive crisis in the elite, but this crisis has nothing to do with liberalization: It has to do with power and prerogatives among the elite. Having been forced by the election and Khamenei to live with Ahmadinejad, some will make deals while some will fight — but Ahmadinejad is well-positioned to win this battle.
25361  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Man bites dog!!! on: June 22, 2009, 04:01:17 PM

Sarkozy says burqas are 'not welcome' in France

1 hr 25 mins ago
PARIS – President Nicolas Sarkozy said the Muslim burqa would not be welcome in France, calling the full-body religious gown a sign of the "debasement" of women.

In the first presidential address to parliament in 136 years, Sarkozy faced critics who fear the burqa issue could stigmatize France's Muslims and said he supported banning the garment from being worn in public.

"In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity," Sarkozy said to extended applause at the Chateau of Versailles, southwest of Paris.
"The burqa is not a religious sign, it's a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement — I want to say it solemnly," he said. "It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic."

Dozens of legislators have called for creating a commission to study a possible ban in France, where there is a small but growing trend of wearing the full-body garment despite a 2004 law forbidding it from being worn in public schools.  France has Western Europe's largest Muslim population, an estimated 5 million people, and the 2004 law sparked fierce debate both at home and abroad.  Even the French government has been divided over the issue, with Immigration Minister Eric Besson saying a full ban would only "create tensions," while junior minister for human rights Rama Yade said she was open to a ban if it was aimed at protecting women forced to wear the burqa.

The terms "burqa" and "niqab" often are used interchangeably in France. The former refers to a full-body covering worn largely in Afghanistan with only a mesh screen over the eyes, whereas the latter is a full-body veil, often in black, with slits for the eyes.
A leading French Muslim group, the French Council for the Muslim Religion, has warned against studying the burqa, saying it would "stigmatize" Muslims.

Sarkozy was due to host a state dinner Monday with Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani of Qatar, where women wear Islamic head coverings in public — whether while shopping or driving cars.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090622/...arkozy_burqa_3
25362  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The desk story on: June 22, 2009, 03:52:52 PM
A Good Teacher

A lesson that should be taught in all schools . . And colleges
 
Back in September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a social studies school teacher at Robinson High School inLittle Rock, did something not to be forgotten.
 
On the first day of school, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she removed all of the desks out of her classroom.   When the first period kids entered the room they discovered that there were no desks.
 
'Ms. Cothren, where're our desks?'
 
She replied, 'You can't have a desk until you tell me how you earn the right to sit at a desk.'
 
They thought, 'Well, maybe it's our grades..'
 
'No,' she said..
 
'Maybe it's our behavior.'
 
She told them, 'No, it's not even your behavior.'
 
And so, they came and went, the first period, second period, third period. Still no desks in the classroom.   By early afternoon television news crews had started gathering in Ms.Cothren's classroom to report about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of her room.
 
The final period of the day came and as the puzzled students found seats on the floor of the deskless classroom, Martha Cothren said, 'Throughout the day no one has been able to tell me just what he/she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in this classroom. Now I am going to tell you.'
 
At this point, Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it.
 
Twenty-seven (27) U.S. Veterans, all in uniforms, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. The Vets began placing the school desks in rows, and then they would walk over and stand alongside the wall. By the time the last soldier had set the final desk in place those kids started to understand, perhaps for the first time in their lives, just how the right to sit at those desks had been earned.
 
Martha said, 'You didn't earn the right to sit at these desks. These heroes did it for you. They placed the desks here for you. Now, it's up to you to sit in them. It is your responsibility to learn, to be good students, to be good citizens. They paid the price so that you could have the freedom to get an education. Don't ever forget it.'
 
By the way, this is a true story.


Please consider passing this along so others won't forget that the freedoms we have in this great country were earned by U. S. Veterans.
 

http://www.snopes.com/glurge/nodesks.asp

25363  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Govt health care violates 9th? on: June 22, 2009, 08:10:37 AM
By DAVID B. RIVKIN JR. and LEE A. CASEY
Is a government-dominated health-care system unconstitutional? A strong case can be made for that proposition, based on the same "right to privacy" that underlies such landmark Supreme Court decisions as Roe v. Wade.

The details of this year's health-care reform bill are still being hammered out. But the end result is sure to be byzantine in complexity. Washington will have immense say over how, when and through whom Americans are treated. Moreover, despite the administration's public pronouncements about painless cuts in wasteful spending, only the most credulous believe that some form of government-directed health-care rationing can be avoided as a means of controlling costs.

The Supreme Court created the right to privacy in the 1960s and used it to strike down a series of state and federal regulations of personal (mostly sexual) conduct. This line of cases began with Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965 (involving marital birth control), and includes the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

The court's underlying rationale was not abortion-specific. Rather, the justices posited a constitutionally mandated zone of personal privacy that must remain free of government regulation, except in the most exceptional circumstances. As the court explained in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), "these matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and the mystery of human life."

It is, of course, difficult to imagine choices more "central to personal dignity and autonomy" than measures to be taken for the prevention and treatment of disease -- measures that may be essential to preserve or extend life itself. Indeed, when the overwhelming moral issues that surround the abortion question are stripped away, what is left is a medical procedure determined to be "necessary" by an expectant mother and her physician.

If the government cannot proscribe -- or even "unduly burden," to use another of the Supreme Court's analytical frameworks -- access to abortion, how can it proscribe access to other medical procedures, including transplants, corrective or restorative surgeries, chemotherapy treatments, or a myriad of other health services that individuals may need or desire?

This type of "burden" analysis will be especially problematic for a national health system because, in the health area, proper care often depends upon an individual's unique physical and even genetic history and characteristics. One size clearly does not fit all, but that is the very essence of governmental regulation -- to impose a regularity (if not uniformity) in the application of governmental power and the dispersal of its largess. Taking key decisions away from patient and physician, or otherwise limiting their available choices, will render any new system constitutionally vulnerable.

It is true, of course, that forms of rationing already exist in our current system. No one who has experienced the marked reluctance to treat aggressively lethal illnesses in the elderly can doubt that. However, what may be permissible for private actors -- including doctors and insurance companies -- is not necessarily lawful when done by the government.

Obviously, the government does not have to pay for any and all services individual citizens may desire. And simply refusing to approve a procedure or treatment under applicable reimbursement rules, as under the government-run Medicare and Medicaid, does not make the system unconstitutional. But if over time, as many critics fear, a "public option" health insurance plan turns into what amounts to a single-payer system, the constitutional issues regarding treatment and reimbursement decisions will be manifold.

The same will be true of a quasi-private system where the government claims a large role in defining acceptable health-insurance coverage and treatments. There will be all sorts of "undue burdens" on the rights of patients to receive the care they may want. Then the litigation will begin.

Anyone who imagines that Congress can simply avoid the constitutional issues -- and lawsuits -- by withdrawing federal court jurisdiction over the new health system must think again. A brief review of the Supreme Court's recent war-on-terror decisions, brought by or on behalf of detained enemy combatants, will disabuse that notion. This area of governmental authority was once nearly immune from judicial intervention. Over the past five years, however, the Supreme Court (supposedly the nonpolitical branch) has unapologetically transformed itself into a full-fledged, policy-making partner with the president and Congress.

In the process, the justices blew past specific congressional efforts to limit their jurisdiction and involvement like a hot rod in the desert. Questions of basic constitutionality (however the court may define them) cannot now be shielded from judicial review.

It is, of course, impossible to predict how and when the courts will ultimately rule on the new health system. Much depends on the details and the extent to which reasonable and practical private alternatives to the national plan remain. In crafting the law, however, its White House and congressional sponsors must keep privacy -- that near absolute right to personal autonomy they have so often praised and promoted -- squarely before them. The only thing that is certain today is that the courts, and not Congress, will have the last word.

Messrs. Rivkin and Casey worked in the Justice Department under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
25364  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Is it Constitutional? on: June 22, 2009, 08:09:57 AM
By DAVID B. RIVKIN JR. and LEE A. CASEY
Is a government-dominated health-care system unconstitutional? A strong case can be made for that proposition, based on the same "right to privacy" that underlies such landmark Supreme Court decisions as Roe v. Wade.

The details of this year's health-care reform bill are still being hammered out. But the end result is sure to be byzantine in complexity. Washington will have immense say over how, when and through whom Americans are treated. Moreover, despite the administration's public pronouncements about painless cuts in wasteful spending, only the most credulous believe that some form of government-directed health-care rationing can be avoided as a means of controlling costs.

The Supreme Court created the right to privacy in the 1960s and used it to strike down a series of state and federal regulations of personal (mostly sexual) conduct. This line of cases began with Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965 (involving marital birth control), and includes the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

The court's underlying rationale was not abortion-specific. Rather, the justices posited a constitutionally mandated zone of personal privacy that must remain free of government regulation, except in the most exceptional circumstances. As the court explained in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), "these matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and the mystery of human life."

It is, of course, difficult to imagine choices more "central to personal dignity and autonomy" than measures to be taken for the prevention and treatment of disease -- measures that may be essential to preserve or extend life itself. Indeed, when the overwhelming moral issues that surround the abortion question are stripped away, what is left is a medical procedure determined to be "necessary" by an expectant mother and her physician.

If the government cannot proscribe -- or even "unduly burden," to use another of the Supreme Court's analytical frameworks -- access to abortion, how can it proscribe access to other medical procedures, including transplants, corrective or restorative surgeries, chemotherapy treatments, or a myriad of other health services that individuals may need or desire?

This type of "burden" analysis will be especially problematic for a national health system because, in the health area, proper care often depends upon an individual's unique physical and even genetic history and characteristics. One size clearly does not fit all, but that is the very essence of governmental regulation -- to impose a regularity (if not uniformity) in the application of governmental power and the dispersal of its largess. Taking key decisions away from patient and physician, or otherwise limiting their available choices, will render any new system constitutionally vulnerable.

It is true, of course, that forms of rationing already exist in our current system. No one who has experienced the marked reluctance to treat aggressively lethal illnesses in the elderly can doubt that. However, what may be permissible for private actors -- including doctors and insurance companies -- is not necessarily lawful when done by the government.

Obviously, the government does not have to pay for any and all services individual citizens may desire. And simply refusing to approve a procedure or treatment under applicable reimbursement rules, as under the government-run Medicare and Medicaid, does not make the system unconstitutional. But if over time, as many critics fear, a "public option" health insurance plan turns into what amounts to a single-payer system, the constitutional issues regarding treatment and reimbursement decisions will be manifold.

The same will be true of a quasi-private system where the government claims a large role in defining acceptable health-insurance coverage and treatments. There will be all sorts of "undue burdens" on the rights of patients to receive the care they may want. Then the litigation will begin.

Anyone who imagines that Congress can simply avoid the constitutional issues -- and lawsuits -- by withdrawing federal court jurisdiction over the new health system must think again. A brief review of the Supreme Court's recent war-on-terror decisions, brought by or on behalf of detained enemy combatants, will disabuse that notion. This area of governmental authority was once nearly immune from judicial intervention. Over the past five years, however, the Supreme Court (supposedly the nonpolitical branch) has unapologetically transformed itself into a full-fledged, policy-making partner with the president and Congress.

In the process, the justices blew past specific congressional efforts to limit their jurisdiction and involvement like a hot rod in the desert. Questions of basic constitutionality (however the court may define them) cannot now be shielded from judicial review.

It is, of course, impossible to predict how and when the courts will ultimately rule on the new health system. Much depends on the details and the extent to which reasonable and practical private alternatives to the national plan remain. In crafting the law, however, its White House and congressional sponsors must keep privacy -- that near absolute right to personal autonomy they have so often praised and promoted -- squarely before them. The only thing that is certain today is that the courts, and not Congress, will have the last word.

Messrs. Rivkin and Casey worked in the Justice Department under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
25365  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Wilson on: June 22, 2009, 07:42:22 AM
"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, Circa, 1790
25366  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Afghan fight shows challenge for US troops on: June 21, 2009, 11:02:55 PM
Afghan fight shows challenge for U.S. troops
Bloody summer in forecast as Washington tries to turn around the war
The Associated Press
updated 11:44 a.m. PT, Sun., June 21, 2009


NOW ZAD, Afghanistan - Missiles, machine guns and strafing runs from fighter jets destroyed much of a Taliban compound, but the insurgents had a final surprise for a pair of U.S. Marines who pushed into the smoldering building just before nightfall.

As the two men walked up an alley, the Taliban opened fire from less than 15 yards, sending bullets and tracer fire crackling inches past them. They fled under covering fire from their comrades, who hurled grenades at the enemy position before sprinting to their armored vehicles.

The assault capped a day of fighting Saturday in the poppy fields, orchards and walled compounds of southern Afghanistan between newly arrived U.S. Marines and well dug-in Taliban fighters. It was a foretaste of what will likely be a bloody summer as Washington tries to turn around a bogged-down, eight-year-old war with a surge of 21,000 troops.

"This was the first time we pushed this far. I guess they don't like us coming into their back door," said Staff Sgt. Luke Medlin, who was sweeping the alley for booby traps as Marine Gunner John Daly covered him from behind when the Taliban struck.

"And now they know we will be back," said Medlin, from Richmond, Ind.

Symbol of what went wrong
The fighting was on the outskirts of Now Zad, a town that in many ways symbolizes what went wrong in Afghanistan and the enormous challenges facing the United States. It is in Helmand province, a center of the insurgency and the opium poppy trade that helps fund it.

Like much of Afghanistan, Now Zad and the surrounding area were largely peaceful after the 2001 invasion. The United Nations and other Western-funded agencies sent staff to build wells and health clinics.

But in 2006 — with American attention focused on Iraq — the insurgency stepped up in the south. Almost all the city's 35,000 people fled, along with the aid workers.

British and Estonian troops, then garrisoned in Now Zad, were unable to defeat the insurgents. They were replaced last year by a small company of about 300 U.S. Marines, who live in a base in the center of the deserted town and on two hills overlooking it.

The Taliban hold much of the northern outskirts and the orchards beyond, where they have entrenched defensive positions, tunnels and bunkers.

The Marines outnumber the Taliban in the area by at least 3-to-1 and have vastly superior weapons but avoid offensive operations because they lack the manpower to hold territory once they take it. There are no Afghan police or troops here to help.

"We don't have the people to backfill us. Why clear something that we cannot hold?" said Lt. Col. Patrick Cashman, head of the battalion in charge of Now Zad and other districts in Helmand and Farah provinces, where some 10,000 Marines are slowly spreading out in the first wave of the troop surge.

'A bad situation'
Cashman said the Marines did not intend to allow the Taliban free rein in parts of Now Zad, but was unable to give any specific plans or time frame for addressing what he acknowledged is "a bad situation."


Saturday's mission was aimed at gathering intelligence and drawing a response from enemy positions close to a street called "Pakistani alley" because of one-time reports suggesting fighters from across the border had dug in there.

"We're bait," one Marine said as the convoy of five vehicles left the base at 8 a.m. and trundled north.

It quickly came across a roadside bomb — the kind which killed a member of the company on June 6 and has wounded at least seven others in the four weeks since the company has been stationed here. An engineer was dispatched and came back an hour later carrying the parts of the bomb — two 82mm mortar shells attached to a pressure plate.


Heading to inspect suspected tunnel
The vehicles were heading to inspect a suspected tunnel when the Taliban struck, firing mortars that landed close by. Machine gunners atop the vehicles and troops in an open-sided truck scanned the scene for plumes from weapons fire.

"We're taking fire from both sides here!" Lance Cpl. James Yon yelled.

"Hit 'em Yon!" came the call from below.

Hours of exchanges followed, with the Taliban opening fire with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, machine-gun fire and rockets from the orchards or inside walled compounds.

A mortar punctured the tire of a Humvee; a grenade swooshed just over a troop truck.

"That was close," Daly said. "If they were a better shot, we'd be canceling Christmas."

Each time the insurgents attacked, the Marines returned fire if they could spot their foes or radioed in coordinates for air strikes.

"Bombs are away," a voice crackled over the radio as Dutch fighter jets dropped laser-guided bombs on a compound, sending clouds of dust mushrooming into the air. The planes then strafed the position, leaving a line of fire and destruction 50 yards long. Other times mortar teams back at the base in Now Zad pummeled enemy positions.

Final close call
The Marines left their vehicles twice. Each time, they came under attack as they entered maze-like, high-walled compounds with ill-fitting, aging wooden doors and small windows, ideal for sniper positions.

In the late afternoon, U.S. forces fired two missiles from 55 miles away to hit a compound being used by the attackers. Minutes later, Marine Harrier jets strafed the compound, setting fire to a wheat field outside it but sparing a poppy patch — an irony not lost on the troops.

The Marines got their final close call as they assessed the compound for damage.

After blowing a hole through the wall, Medlin and Daly were met by a hail of bullets as they pressed up an alley.

"Gunner, are you good? You need to come back!" one Marine shouted into the gathering gloom. "I'll cover you!"

The two man leapt to safety. Daly sprained his ankle as he leapt from a wall, but that was the only Marine injury.

Twenty minutes after the troops withdrew, two Cobra helicopters fired a Hellfire missile that streaked at a 45-degree angle across the night sky into the building, then bombed and strafed it, igniting a blaze.


"Payback time," one Marine muttered in the dark of a truck; cheers erupted in another vehicle.

There were no confirmed Taliban casualties, but observers later spotted a funeral, and video images suggested others were killed in the aerial attacks.

Capt. Zachary Martin said such sustained contact sent the militants a message that they were not safe anywhere and bought the Marines — and the few civilians in the area — some "security space."

"We kicked the snot out of these guys," he told the Marines on their return to base, some 14 hours after they left.

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

June 22, 2009

With a Plan and a Rope, Captives Escaped Taliban

By ADAM B. ELLICK
KABUL, Afghanistan


An Afghan journalist who was held captive by the Taliban for more than seven months along with a New York Times reporter revealed details on Sunday of a nighttime escape that included weeks of careful plotting, taking advantage of weary guards and dropping down a 20-foot wall with a rope.

The Afghan journalist, Tahir Ludin, 35, said in an interview that the escape early Saturday from the second floor of a Taliban compound in North Waziristan, in Pakistan’s tribal areas, was a desperate attempt by two severely demoralized reporters who believed that the Taliban were not seriously negotiating and would hold them indefinitely.

Mr. Ludin and David Rohde, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist at The Times, along with their driver, Asadullah Mangal, were abducted outside Kabul on Nov. 10 as Mr. Rohde traveled to interview a Taliban commander for a book he was writing about Afghanistan.

Mr. Ludin said that he and Mr. Rohde had been threatened with death by their captors. The past two to three months were so “hopeless,” Mr. Ludin said, that he considered committing suicide with a large knife. Mr. Rohde, who was reuniting with his family on Sunday, confirmed the accuracy of Mr. Ludin’s account but declined to comment further.

The three men were abducted on a road just a few minutes from where they planned to meet the Taliban commander, known as Abu Tayeb, in Logar Province, southeast of Kabul.

Mr. Ludin had previously escorted two other foreign journalists to safe interviews with the commander, and during those meetings the two established a degree of trust. Mr. Ludin said Mr. Tayeb had betrayed that trust by directly orchestrating the kidnapping.

The reporters and the driver were shuttled to various houses in Pakistan’s tribal areas while they were imprisoned, Mr. Ludin said.

As their captivity dragged on, he said, he and Mr. Rohde began plotting their escape by surveying the compound and its surroundings.

Once, Mr. Ludin said, he faked illness to visit a doctor outside the complex. Other times he asked his captors if he could watch local cricket matches — a sport he pretended to adore — so that he could study potential escape routes.

Still, it seemed impossible to escape from a town controlled by Taliban and foreign militants.

On Friday evening, in a planned bid to keep their captors awake as late as possible to ensure that the men would eventually sleep soundly, Mr. Ludin challenged the militants who slept beside them in the same room to a local board game.

When at last the games ended at midnight, the journalists waited for the militants to fall asleep.

At 1 a.m., Mr. Rohde woke Mr. Ludin and sneaked out of the room. Mr. Ludin recited several verses of the Koran and followed him. They made their way to the second floor, and Mr. Ludin got to the top of a five-foot-high wall.

When Mr. Ludin looked down, he said, he was greeted by an unnerving view: a 20-foot drop.

Mr. Rohde handed Mr. Ludin a rope that he had found two weeks earlier and had hidden from the guards. They fastened the rope to the wall, and Mr. Ludin lowered himself along the rope before unclenching his fists for good.

He crashed to the ground, leaving him with a sprained right foot and other injuries. He cut his foot, he said, pointing to his swollen and heavily bruised ankle and his bandaged big toe.

Mr. Rohde then lowered himself along the wall and jumped down without injury, Mr. Ludin said.

When asked why their captives did not hear the thump of their impact with the ground, Mr. Ludin said they waited to make the escape attempt on a night when the city had electrical power. At night, an old, noisy air-conditioner that ran masked the sound.

As the two men walked away, dogs barked at them from nearby compounds. At one point, barking stray dogs rushed at them in the darkness. To their surprise, no Taliban members emerged from nearby houses.

After 15 minutes, Mr. Ludin said, they arrived at a Pakistani militia post that he had spotted during one of his daytime trips outside the house. In the darkness, a half-dozen guards who suspected they were suicide bombers aimed rifles at them and shouted for them to raise their hands and not move.

“They said, ‘If you move, we are going to shoot you,’ ” he said.

Mr. Ludin said he was shivering in the darkness, and it took 15 minutes of anxious conversation to convince the guards that he had been kidnapped along with an American journalist — who hardly looked the part, with his long beard and Islamic attire.

The men were eventually allowed in the compound, ordered to take off their shirts, searched, blindfolded and taken to the base’s headquarters. After Pakistani officials confirmed their identities, they were treated well. Later that day, they were transferred to Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, and to an American military base outside Kabul.

While telling his story, Mr. Ludin showed flashes of his exuberant personality, as when he waved his arms and proclaimed “the food was excellent,” or when he joked about the gray hairs he had grown since his abduction. He spoke with his seven children gathered around him.

But more often than not, Mr. Ludin spoke in a burst of sentences and alluded several times to being in a confused mental state. On three occasions, he mistakenly referred to a visiting journalist as “David.”

Mr. Ludin said the driver, Mr. Mangal, appeared to be overwhelmed by fear of his captors and had not participated in the planning or the escape.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/22/wo...2tahir.html?hp
25367  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: toronto dbma training camp featuring Crafty Dog, Top Dog and Sled Dog Aug 21-23 on: June 21, 2009, 10:57:54 PM
@ Jeff:  Awesome you will be there  cool

@ Rene:  Still waiting for that info so I can post it on our Seminar page.
25368  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Team Kali Tudo on: June 20, 2009, 09:10:20 AM
Looking forward to a rocking good time on Monday!
25369  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: June 20, 2009, 09:09:00 AM
Fox News.com - 19 June 2009

The U.S. military is preparing for a possible intercept of a North Korean flagged ship suspected of proliferating weapons material in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution passed last Friday, FOX News has learned.

The USS John McCain, a Navy destroyer, is positioning itself in case it gets orders to intercept the ship Kang Nam as soon as it leaves the vicinity off the coast of China, according to a senior U.S. defense official. The order to inderdict has not been given yet, but the ship is moving into the area.

"Permission has not been requested. Nor is it clear it will be," a military source told FOX News. "This is a very delicate situation and no one is interested in precipitating a confrontation."

The ship left a port in North Korea Wednesday and appears to be heading toward Singapore, according to a senior U.S. military source. The vessel, which the military has been tracking since its departure, could be carrying weaponry, missile parts or nuclear materials, a violation of U.N. Resolution 1874, which put sanctions in place against Pyongyang.

The USS McCain was involved in an incident with a Chinese sub last Friday - near Subic Bay off the Philippines. The Chinese sub was shadowing the destroyer when it hit the underwater sonar array that the USS McCain was towing behind it.

This is the first suspected "proliferator" that the U.S. and its allies have tracked from North Korea since the United Nations authorized the world's navies to enforce compliance with a variety of U.N. sanctions aimed at punishing North Korea for its recent nuclear test.

The ship is currently along the coast of China and being monitored around-the-clock by air.

The apparent violation raises the question of how the United States and its allies will respond, particularly since the U.N. resolution does not have a lot of teeth to it.

The resolution would not allow the United States to board the ship forcibly. Rather, U.S. military would have to request permission to board -- a request North Korea is unlikely to grant.

North Korea has said that any attempt to board its ships would be viewed as an act of war and promised "100- or 1,000-fold" retaliation if provoked.
State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said that the resolution allows states to seek permission to inspect cargo.

"If permission is not granted, then the flag state, the owner of the ship, is instructed to send that ship to a port for -- for a formal inspection to be made," Kelly said, adding that he would not go into any details of any particular ship or the way inspections are conducted.

"We would hope that -- that North Korea would -- would comply with international law and -- and allow the inspection," he said.

Since the U.S. does not expect to be granted permission, it expects to be asked to interdict that it will have to shadow the ship until it runs out of fuel. At that point, the ship would likely have to be towed into the port.

The U.S. military may request that the host country not provide fuel to the ship when it enters its port. North Korean merchant ships usually need fuel as they approach Singapore and the ports of eastern India. When tipped off, Indian port authorities are stringent enforcers of UN sanctions against ships carrying contraband.

The U.S. Navy does not need to enforce the sanctions. Instead, it could "poison the host," a move that entails working behind the scenes with Indian Ocean port authorities to inspect and confiscate illegal cargos.

This move worked last year when U.S. officials reportedly warned Indian officials in advance of a North Korean transport aircraft that had requested permission to fly through Indian airspace on the way to Iran after stopping in Burma to refuel. The Indians refused to allow the aircraft to fly through their airspace. The aircraft reportedly was carrying gyroscopes for ballistic missiles.

The Kang Nam is known to be a ship that has been involved in proliferation activities in the past -- it is "a repeat offender," according to one military source. The ship was detained in October 2006 by authorities in Hong Kong after the North Koreans tested their first nuclear device and the U.N. imposed a subsequent round of sanctions.

"North Korea does not export anything other than weapons," a U.S. official told FOX News. "And this ship is presumed to be carrying something illicit given its past history."

The latest tension follows a Japanese news report that North Korea may fire a long-range ballistic missile toward Hawaii in early July.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday the military is "watching" that situation "very closely," and would have "some concerns" if North Korea launched a missile in the direction of Hawaii. But he expressed confidence in U.S. ability to handle such a launch.

Gates said he's directed the deployment of the Theater High Altitude Area Defense, a mobile missile defense system used for knocking down long- and medium-range missiles.

"The ground-based interceptors are clearly in a position to take action. So, without telegraphing what we will do, I would just say ... I think we are in a good position, should it become necessary, to protect the American territory."
25370  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Will resume after Labor Day on: June 20, 2009, 08:45:08 AM
Woof All:

I just realized I forgot to post here that my Saturday class at the Inosanto Academy is suspended for the summer and will resume after Labor Day.

TAC!
Guro Crafty
25371  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Founding Fathers as fathers on: June 20, 2009, 07:54:58 AM
By BARBARA DAFOE WHITEHEAD
Barack Obama is a doting father who says that one of the greatest pleasures of his presidency is eating dinner with his daughters on the nights when he is in town.

Some of the nation's Founding Fathers were not so lucky. Doting dads though they were, patriotic service forced them to live apart from their families for years at a time. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the three Founders who spent the most time abroad, missed milestone events. Franklin was a no-show at his daughter's wedding and his wife's funeral. Adams was in Philadelphia when his wife, Abigail, gave birth to a stillborn daughter. While in France, Jefferson received word that his 2-year-old daughter had died of whooping cough. The news came seven months after her funeral.

Trans-Atlantic separations proved too painful to bear. Whenever possible, the Founders took their children with them or sent for the children once they had established a household abroad. John Adams set off on his maiden voyage to England accompanied by his 9-year-old son, John Quincy. On a second crossing he brought along sons John Quincy and Charles. His teenage daughter, Abigail, arrived in France with her mother a few years later. Benjamin Franklin's son, William, and his two grandsons, Temple Franklin and Benny Bache, were part of the Franklin overseas ménage at various times. A new widower, Jefferson took his elder daughter, Patsy, along with him on his diplomatic mission to France and later sent for his younger daughter, Polly.

The children were not always thrilled to go. Charles Adams sobbed inconsolably as he boarded the ship with his father. Eight-year-old Polly begged her father to let her remain at home in Virginia with her beloved aunt: "I am very sorry you sent for me," she bravely wrote. "I don't want to go to France." Still she went, accompanied on the journey by a 14-year-old babysitter named Sally Hemings. Upon arrival in London, the homesick girl spent the next month in the temporary care of Abigail Adams until her father sent a French-speaking manservant to fetch her. Abigail pointedly reminded Jefferson that the experience was traumatic for the child who, once again, was faced with separation from a mother figure and sent off to live with a father she did not know.

Nor was the arrangement a piece of cake for their fathers. In addition to the all-consuming diplomatic responsibilities of winning allies and funders for the Revolution, these lone fathers had to raise Revolutionary Kids. Chief among their responsibilities was securing an elite European education for their young offspring while protecting them from the temptations and dissipations of living abroad. The Founders' children and grandchildren kept company with an aristocratic power elite, savored Continental fads and fashions, and learned to speak fluent French.

It was all too easy, their fathers worried, for the Revolutionary Kids to abandon the republican virtues of industry and frugality and, even worse, to lose their native language. "It is a mortification to me," John Adams wrote to John Quincy, "that you write better in a foreign language than in your mother tongue."

To protect their children from corrupting influences, therefore, the Founding Fathers had to part with them again. Franklin dispatched his 9-year-old grandson, Benny Bache, to school in Switzerland for five years. The Adams sons attended schools in Holland. The Jefferson daughters were placed in a convent in Paris.

Yet no matter how devoted, the Founding Fathers were not inclined, as today's parents are, to lavish their students with praise. "Good job" was not in their vocabulary. "Take care you never spell a word wrong," Jefferson admonished his younger daughter. "Remember too . . . not to go out without your bonnet because it will make you very ugly and then we should not love you so much."

Nor did the Founding Fathers leave it up to their children to "make good choices." Instead, they moralized endlessly on the perils of indolence, time-wasting and thriftlessness. Jefferson reproved Patsy: "If at any moment, my dear, you catch yourself in idleness, start from it as you would from the precipice of a gulph." John Adams lectured John Quincy, hardly a slouch of a student, to "lose no Time. There is not a moral Percept of clearer Obligation or of greater Import."

When Benny Bache asked his grandfather for a gold watch, Franklin responded tartly: "You should remember that I am at a great Expence for your education . . . and you should not tease me for things that can be of little or no Service to you."

Even the profligate Thomas Jefferson embraced the virtue of frugality. When Patsy appealed for extra money, her father refused: "The rule I wish to see you governed by is of never buying anything which you have not money in your pocket to pay for. Be assured that it gives much more pain to the mind to be in debt, than to do without any article whatever which we may seem to want."

Judged by today's psychological standards, these 18th century fathers sound harsh and unfeeling. Yet to see the Founding Fathers as flesh-and-blood dads, to glimpse their struggles to rear their children at a time of grave uncertainty and peril, is to appreciate their service and sacrifice anew. Founding a nation meant more than winning a war. It also called upon the nation's Founders to pass on the passion for freedom, educational excellence and civic virtue to their children and grandchildren.

John Adams said it best in a letter to Abigail: "The education of our children is never out of my Mind . . . Fire them with Ambition to be useful and make them disdain to be destitute of any useful or ornamental knowledge or accomplishment. Fix their Ambition upon great and solid objects."

Ms. Whitehead is director of the John Templeton Center for Thrift and Generosity at the Institute for American Values and co-editor of "Franklin's Thrift: The Lost History of a American Virtue," just published by Templeton Press
25372  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ammo control begins in CA on: June 19, 2009, 03:43:13 PM
Commencing July 1, 2010, it will be illegal for anyone in CA to privatley transfer more than 50 rounds of handgun ammunition....



quote:
(3) Commencing July 1, 2010, a vendor shall not sell or otherwise
transfer ownership of any handgun ammunition without at the time of
delivery legibly recording the following information on a form that
is in a format to be prescribed by the department:
(A) The date of the sale or other transaction.
(B) The purchaser's or transferee's driver's license or other
identification number and the state in which it was issued.
(C) The brand, type, and amount of ammunition sold or otherwise
transferred.
(D) The purchaser's or transferee's signature.
(E) The name of the salesperson who processed the sale or other
transaction.
(F) The right thumbprint of the purchaser or transferee on the
above form.
(G) The purchaser's or transferee's full residential address and
telephone number.
(H) The purchaser's or transferee's date of birth.




http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/...amended_asm_v98.html
25373  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in India reports-2 on: June 19, 2009, 01:06:13 PM

Even today the Pak army is focussing only on the "bad talibunnies". problem is that the "good talibs" from the puki perspective, are bad from the US perspective..so I can see no benefit from the continued drain of US money in Pukistan. Pak needs to focus on all Talibs. As a reminder the bad Talibs are anti-Pak and active inside Pak, the good Talibs (eg Haqqani group) are against the US and active in Afghanistan. From one of the blogs I frequent...
If Estimates of Taliban Forces Are Correct, Pakistan Cannot Win

 

For many years, each time the Pakistan Army has said it lacks the resources to fight the Taliban, at Orbat.com we've engaged in rude sniggering. The Pakistan Army has close to 30 division-equivalents worth of troops, 80% infantry. It is one of the largest armies in the world. Its men are long-service professionals - long service means 10, 15, and 20 years for the soldiers and NCOs. It is well-trained, reasonably well equipped by Third World standards and well led.

How then could Pakistan claim it cannot fight the Taliban?

Of course, it didn't/doesn't want to fight the Taliban because even today with the exception of Baitullah Mesud whom the Pakistan Army says it is hunting, the other three major commanders are pro-Government, as are a host of minor commanders.

But from www.longwarjournal.org June 17, 2009 we learn that this Mesud gentleman has 30,000 fighters under his command and another 20,000 in allied/associated groups. The three other major commanders have 50,000 fighters. AQ in Pakistan has 10,000. This makes 110,000 fighters, and it doesn't take too much math to calculate that at 600 fighters per Pakistan army battalion (rifle and weapons companies) the Pakistan army has 130,000 infantry to the Taliban's 100,000. Of course, that doesn't count the Pakistan Army's approximately 130 or so towed artillery battalions and the approximately 300 or so fighter aircraft in the Pakistan Air Force.

No one can argue that the Pakistan Army has firepower superiority. But the Taliban's forces, for all they operate in units as large as brigades, do not fight a conventional fight when facing the Pakistan Army. They are guerrillas, and while that firepower comes in handy if the Taliban commander makes a mistake, it is of basically no help except to make holes in the ground and kill civilians.

So Pakistan could send every single soldier it has facing India to the west, it is absolutely, completely, totally not in a position to fight the Taliban and win. Even the US, for all its phenomenal surveillance, reconnaissance, intelligence, mobility, and firepower resources cannot win at such odds.

So - something we'd better get used to as a concept - even if Pakistan suddenly got religion and decided to go after the Taliban, it is not going to win. You are going to get one ghastly mess that will, within a year's of fighting, destroy what remains of Pakistan's economy and unity because all out wars inflict unbearable stress on any country, leave alone a 3rd world nation riven by ethnic divides on every side.

Now, Pakistan is not going to get religion. It's going after the Mesud because the US has given the 10-centimer diameter steel shaft and because it seems the Pakistan Army has decided to come down on the Government's side - at least for now. You must keep in mind the Army's leadership is totally opportunistic. At any rate, its not going to go after the other commanders because they are vital strategic assets against the US in Afghanistan and India.

The prospect of taking on the Mesud and his 50,000 own/allied fighters is bad enough, AQ will have to join in because the Pakistan Army is intruding into its safe havens. Now here's what's really scary: the Pakistanis are doing their level to keep the "good" Taliban out of this battle and perhaps even get some of them to help with eliminating Mesud. But, as Bill Roggio at LWJ says, basing his opinion on local information and media the good Taliban are tied by promises and ethnic loyalties to the Mesud fellow. The Pakistan army can say all it wants "we are only targeting an anti-Pakistan person", and it is true in the Frontier money does run thicker than blood, but if for no reason other than that the "good" Taliban have to wonder if Mesud is knocked out the Pakistan state is not going to go after them to bring them under control they way they were under control before the fall of Kabul in 1996.

So: to sum up. Mesud and AQ have 60,000 fighters which is way too many for the entire Pakistan Army to take on to begin with. The whole kit and kaboodle has 110,000 fighters. This is not a winning situation no matter which way anyone looks at it.

Here's more bad news: according to the Indians, Pakistan has deployed 22 brigades against the Taliban. That's almost a third of its infantry, and people, you have to realize that so far the Taliban haven't really put up up a fight. For all the drama the ISPR tries to keep going, if 390 Pakistan soldiers/Frontier Corps have been killed, that's 65 a week. That's not a war, its a bunch of skirmishes.

As someone who has closely studied the Pakistan Army for forty years, Editor can testify that by its lights, the Pakistan army is doing what it can.

Because - please don't forget - there's the equivalent of 40 powerful Indian divisions sitting to the East of the Kashmir Cease Fire Line and International Border, excluding the minimum defense against China and the 70,000 specialized CI troops - who are all regular soldiers, by the way, not paramilitary. You want paramilitary, India can deploy 500,000 against Pakistan if it needs to.

Beyond a point, if anyone thinks the US is going to be able to restrain India indefinitely so that Pakistan can shift all its infantry to the west is plain dreaming. Study the history of the subcontinent for just the last 1000 years and you will see this is just the right time for Delhi to start preparing to bring India's fractious and turbulent northwest under control. In case someone doesn't get it, India's northwest includes ALL of Pakistan.

The Pakistanis would have to be absolute lunatics to even think of moving many more troops to the west. Now if an Editor as an Indian citizen is saying that, think what the Pakistanis will say if the US wants them to move more troops. And that's if they want an all-out war with the Taliban that they cannot win. And they don not want such a war.

 
===============
My best guess is, we can slow the pace, but not the outcome (talibanization of Pak). What frustrates me is that we are not seeking genuine change from Pak, but are satisfied with cosmetic change to show the US populace that Obama is getting things done. So what exactly is being achieved in Pak. A few random thoughts.
1. IDP's (internally displaced people): About 2 million IDP's have been generated, their homes have been flattened by indiscriminate use of Pak fire power, more civilians have been killed than Taliban. It is guaranteed that these 2 million will form the seed for the next generation of talibunny recruits.
2. Many of the soldiers who fight the Taliban have their homes in the pashtoon areas. They do not appreciate seeing their homes blown up. If Pak instead utilises punjabi troops (pakjabi in Indian vernacular), then it generates a punjabi-pashtoon ethnic divide. Of note the army is considered to be mostly Punjabi. This is corroborated by reports in the media (India Today) that many are deserting their units.
3. The claimed victories in Swat, remain to be confirmed. They are fighting a guerilla force, who disappear into the mountains when the going gets tough. Its guaranteed that the Talibs will be back, once the army withdraws. I dont see the army maintaining a perpetual presence in NWFP.
4. The US is asking Pak to go after the "bad guys". This is against Pak national interest. Their military doctrine talks about strategic depth in Afganistan and the use of proxies to fight their wars with India. This is not going to happen, unless the US is willing to threaten break up of Pak.
5. Note the motto of the Pak army "Iman, Taqwa, Jihad fi Sabilillah", translated as "Faith, Piety and Fight in the path of God". The army is doing jihad, the talib's are doing jihad. So the question to the common abdul is, who is the purest of them all. Also of note "pakistan" means land of pure. In this contest of purity, the Talibs are considered purer. Is it then any wonder that the Pak army hesitates to fight the Taliban mano a mano, but rather just lobs bombs on them from a distance.
6. If we look at the madarassa curriculum, its full of hateful propaganda. Unless they can change the curriculum, there will be no shortage of little mujahids. There is no one in Pak who is powerful enough to do that.
7. Look at the internal contradictions in Pakistan, Balochistan is simmering, The NWFP/FATA appears lost.
 
We cannot win the AFPak war this way. We got out of Iraq with atleast a semblance of a draw or perhaps even a victory. The difference was that in Iraq, the US did the heavy lifting and the fighting. In the FakAp region, we are using the Pukes as our proxy. If history is any guide, the Pukes will take the money, and do the minimum necessary. They will never go for the kill. Why would they kill the golden goose ?. If they knock off the Talibs, who will pay them for holding a gun to their head ?.
25374  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WTF?!? on: June 19, 2009, 11:42:39 AM


U.S., Russia: Washington's Latest Offer to Moscow
Stratfor Today » June 18, 2009 | 1939 GMT

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev (L) and U.S. President Barack Obama in London on April 1Summary
Ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s trip to Russia, STRATFOR has received unconfirmed information indicating that Washington could be willing to yield to Moscow on the issue of ballistic missile defense in Eastern Europe if Moscow gives Washington assurances on issues related to Afghanistan and Iran. It could be that the United States is willing to make a deal with Russia in the short term, but overall Washington has made it clear that Afghanistan and Iran take priority over Eastern Europe.

Analysis

In the lead-up to U.S. President Barack Obama’s July 6-8 visit to Russia, a flurry of public negotiations is taking place. However, one of the tougher subjects being negotiated more privately is Russia’s demand that the United States abandon its plans to place ballistic missile defense (BMD) installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. STRATFOR has received unconfirmed information on what the United States may be considering conceding to the Russians in order to gain assurances on other critical issues — like Iran and Afghanistan — from Moscow.

In the negotiations between Moscow and Washington, there are myriad issues on the table — some of which Russia feels confident in handling, like NATO expansion to Georgia and Ukraine or renegotiating START. Then there are other issues that Russia considers more difficult, like the BMD plans. For Russia, this issue is about more than BMD; it is about an actual U.S. military presence on the former Soviet border. When Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev met in April, Russia was prepared to push its demand to keep BMD installations out of Poland, but the United States held firm on the issue.

However, since April, Washington has become more concerned with its war in Afghanistan, the destabilization of neighboring Pakistan, and more recently the post-election situation in Iran. Enmity between Washington and Moscow could make all of these situations more difficult. The United States knows Russia has some very old but powerful ties to Afghanistan and its Islamist groups. There is little proof yet that Russia has been meddling in Afghanistan, but there is potential. With Pakistan entrenched in chaos, the United States is still interested in using supplementary logistical routes for military supplies bound for Afghanistan, and the only real alternative to Pakistan is Russia’s turf in Central Asia — and even Russia itself — though Russia has frozen all talks on the use of such routes.

And then there is Iran. Russia has given Iran rhetorical backing in recent years. Russia also helped to build Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant and continually threatened the West with further military deals with Tehran (though it has consistently abstained from selling Iran strategic air defense systems). But Obama seems committed to negotiating with Iran, even though its anti-U.S. president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad most likely will serve a second term, and Washington does not need Russia to interfere or escalate tensions.


For quite some time, STRATFOR has noted that with U.S. foreign policy focused on fighting the Afghan war and on negotiations with Iran, the question regarding Russia’s resurgence has not been whether the United States will make concessions to the Russians, but how much and how publicly.

STRATFOR sources in Moscow have said that the latest offer from the Americans reportedly entails abandoning the Polish/Czech Republic arrangement and instead incorporating existing Russian radars into the existing U.S. BMD architecture. This proposal has advantages and disadvantages both technically and geopolitically.

From a technical perspective, the matter is problematic. U.S. ballistic missile defenses rely upon X-band radar for tracking and plotting intercepts. Russia’s Gabala early warning radar in Azerbaijan — one of the radar systems being considered for U.S. use — is of the older Pechora type, and operates at a different frequency than the X-band. While the Gabala radar would certainly be useful for early warning and monitoring Iranian missile tests, it is also oriented toward the Indian Ocean, so that an Iranian ballistic missile launched at Western Europe or the continental United States would quickly pass out of its field of view. The territory of Azerbaijan would also be too close to Iran for basing ground-based midcourse defense interceptors.

A newer, next-generation Voronezh-DM type radar at Armavir in the Russian Caucasus was activated and put on alert in February. The newer radar is thought to have more direct applicability to U.S. BMD efforts, but is still fixed in orientation — in this case toward Africa — so that while Iran and Western Europe both fall within its coverage, an Iranian missile launch directed at the United States would likely be on the periphery of the radar’s field of vision. More study would likely be necessary to determine its precise utility and how exactly it would fit into an overall scheme. But from a technical perspective, it could likely only serve as a complement to — not a replacement for — the fixed X-band radar slated for the Czech Republic.

That said, there are alternatives to placing an X-band radar in the Czech Republic. The United States also has a mobile deployable X-band radar (though the one currently in place in Israel reportedly experienced some technical issues during emplacement), and BMD-capable Aegis-equipped warships could be parked in the Black and Mediterranean seas as well as the North Sea east of the United Kingdom.

There also remains the issue of basing for interceptors. The ground-based midcourse defense interceptors slated for Poland require fixed concrete silos. Poland is about as good a spot as any, though an alternative site could be considered. In addition, it has been suggested that an Iranian missile caught with sufficient warning and with proper tracking data could be engaged by an interceptor based in Alaska.

Ultimately, from a purely technical standpoint, doing a deal with the Russians that sacrifices the Poland and Czech Republic sites in exchange for some access to Russian radar data does not seem particularly compelling. But the United States’ issues with Russia are much larger and more complex than BMD meant to defend against Iran. Washington could still decide that using alternative methods to guard against Iranian ballistic missiles is sufficient, and a larger deal with Moscow is worth the sacrifice.

There is also the possibility that the United States is striking a deal with Russia in the short term in order to get its house in order over Afghanistan and Iran, while in the longer term keeping its door open with Poland and the Czech Republic (though as BMD technology continues to mature, Washington will field increasingly flexible and mobile systems; the need for a fixed installation is fleeting). But such a scheme would be tricky since Moscow does not entirely trust Washington, and Warsaw will most likely not be pleased that the United States has abandoned it, even temporarily, in order to appease the Russians.

But from a geopolitical viewpoint, the United States has made it clear that its priorities are Afghanistan and Iran at the moment, not Russia or its resurgence. Conceding on Poland would not only create a more amiable Russia that could help with Afghanistan and Iran, it would also prevent the Afghan and Iranian situations from getting more difficult for the United States.

This plan seems reasonable geopolitically, but many within the administration are not on board, as they know the ramifications of a deal with Moscow. Such a deal could lose the faith of those NATO allies that depend on the United States to protect them from a resurgent Russia (not just Poland, but many former Soviet states that continue to feel pressure from Moscow). It would also mean effectively surrendering ground to Russia that — even when the United States has more room to maneuver — could be difficult to win back. Both of these consequences are something Moscow wants, so the Kremlin is closely examining the latest offer regarding BMD. Russia is concerned that Washington could rescind the offer because of the plan’s technical shortcomings and because the implications for the perception of America’s commitment to its NATO allies are very apparent to some within the administration.
25375  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Fox News piece on Survivalists on: June 19, 2009, 11:32:50 AM


http://www.foxnews.com/video2/video08.html?maven_referralObject=6106775&maven_referralPlaylistId=&sRevUrl=http://www.foxnews.com/index.html
25376  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: June 19, 2009, 09:59:10 AM
From which island is that?
25377  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Khamenei lays down the word on: June 19, 2009, 09:25:25 AM
Summary
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke to the Iranian people during Friday prayers June 19, siding with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and ordering protesters to end their demonstrations. Khamenei has decided that using force to suppress the uprising is worth the risk, even if it leads to greater infighting among the power brokers of the system. It remains unclear if Ahmadinejad’s opponents will stage a showdown, but the protests have grown enough in size and energy to take on a life of their own.

Analysis

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivered a rare but critical Friday sermon prayer June 19 in which he addressed the continuing public unrest in the wake of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory in the June 12 presidential election, as well as the schism among the country’s political leadership. As expected, he took a clear position in favor of the president, rejecting accusations of electoral fraud and framing the conflict in terms of foreign powers exploiting the Islamic republic’s internal troubles. More importantly, he warned both the protesters and their leaders to halt the demonstrations and that they would be responsible for any bloodshed.

Khamenei has clearly opted for the forcible suppression of the uprising. STRATFOR had pointed out in a previous report that the country’s elite ideological military force, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has taken command of domestic law enforcement in Tehran. Consequently, from today forward, we can expect to see security forces crush protests. That the two main defeated challengers of Ahamdinejad, former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi and former speaker of parliament Mehdi Karroubi did not attend the prayer session shows that they are not about to accept the verdict.

At the same time, Mousavi and Karroubi cannot be perceived as openly defying the supreme leader and they have an interest in the preservation of the cleric-led political system. Furthermore, their supporters on the streets are far more radical than they are because Mousavi and Karroubi are part and parcel of the system (something which Khamenei pointed out when he said that that all four candidates in the recent presidential election belonged to Iran’s Islamic establishment). Therefore, they will have a hard time balancing between the need to sustain their opposition to the results of the election and controlling the protesters on the streets, especially during a major security crackdown. Regardless of whether the opposition leaders choose to take charge of the demonstrations, the protests have swelled enough in size and energy to take on a life of their own.

Khamenei’s speech also telegraphed to Ahmadinejad’s opponents that he is fully behind the president. He said, “Differences of opinion do exist between officials which is natural. But it does not mean there is a rift in the system. Ever since the last presidential election there existed differences of opinion between Ahmadinejad and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (the second most powerful cleric in the state). Of course my outlook is closer to that of Ahmadinejad in domestic and foreign policy.” Khamenei also spoke of the difference between him and Rafsanjani, but also praised him as being “close” to the revolution.

This puts Rafsanjani and his pragmatic conservative allies — including the powerful speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani and former IRGC chief and presidential candidate, Mohsen Rezaie — in a difficult spot. On one hand, they cannot accept Ahmadinejad because he is a threat to their political interests. On the other, they cannot openly defy Khamenei as that could lead to the unraveling of the regime. This would explain why Larijani, along with Judiciary Chief Shahroudi and Tehran’s mayor Mohammed Baqer Ghalibaf — who are all key pragmatic conservatives who oppose the president — attended the sermon along with the president and his cabinet. Rezaie did not attend the sermon, but wrote a letter to Khamenei, signaling that he wanted to resolve the issues amicably under the leadership of Khamenei.

Rafsanjani is therefore likely to face great difficulties in his efforts to build a consensus among the clerics against the president because now it is no longer simply about Ahmadinejad. Instead, his moves will be seen as facing off against the supreme leader. As the head of the Assembly of Experts, the most powerful institution in the country, which has the power to remove the supreme leader, he can make a move against Khamenei. That has never been done in the history of the Islamic republic. Therefore, it is unclear whether Rafsanjani is ready to escalate matters to such a level. The split amongst the political leadership is also manifesting itself in the country’s security apparatus with reports of arrests of several IRGC commanders who do not agree with Ahmadinejad.

The stage is now set for a major confrontation, but it is unclear who will emerge victorious. Regardless of which political faction wins, Khamenei has decided that it is worth the risk to bring in the IRGC. Though the Iranian state security apparatus is adept at extinguishing protests, it is still a risky gamble that will further fuel the fire of discontent.
25378  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bonner: The third and final stage on: June 19, 2009, 09:20:02 AM
Bill Bonner
Provided as a courtesy of Agora Publishing & The Daily Reckoning
Jun 18, 2009

 

<<The United States has entered the third and final stage in the life and death of a great country.

America's history can be divided into three broad stages. The first stage was industrialization. This is what took the United States from a marginal nation of settlers, explorers, farmers, entrepreneurs and religious refugees to become the world's richest and most powerful country. The source of its wealth and power was its factories... and its people. The factories were the best in the world. And the people how labored in them were accustomed to hard work, saving, and self-discipline. There were no free lunches in America during this period. The fastest growing cities of the time were manufacturing centers - Chicago, Gary, Detroit, Pittsburg, and Birmingham. Thanks to its smokestacks and assembly lines, the US could make things better, cheaper and faster than any other country, with the possible exception of Germany before WWI and Japan after WWII. That is how the US became the world's largest creditor - by selling US-made goods to foreigners. And it's how the United States won WWI and WWII too. American factories could turn out more tanks, more planes, more guns and more butter than any other nation. And the United States had an abundant source of fuel too; "Texas Tea" they called it.

After WWII America enjoyed its glory days. It was on top of the world... in practically every sense. The United States was #1.

Nothing fails like success. The New Deal had fundamentally changed Americans' relationship to the state. Federal meddlers began playing a larger and larger role in the economic life of the country. Soon, American attitudes evolved to fit the circumstances. With the world's reserve currency... a huge lead over its competitors... and a government that promised to take care of its wants and needs, the US workforce relaxed. Gradually, it shifted from making things to buying them... while industry turned its focus from production to sales... and then, financing. Then, the United States entered the second stage: financialization.

In this second stage, the center of gravity shifted from the wealth-producing factories to the financial centers - mainly Manhattan. Prices of real estate in New York soared. Wall Street came to be seen not merely as a place to invest the proceeds of honest toil... but a way to create wealth. The most ambitious college graduates turned from engineering and manufacturing first to sales and marketing and later to finance; because that's where the money was. At the peak, in the Bubble Epoch, 2003-2007, Wall Street was drawing in the world's leading scholars in mathematics and statistics... These people were creating the biggest debt bombs in history... exotic, complicated financial concoctions... that eventually blew up in their faces.

Detroit went into a decline as early as the late '60s. GM continued to make cars, but it looked to financing as a way of make money. GMAC became the major source of GM's profits. Still mills along the Monongahela River began to rust in the '70s. Ships began to come to the US laden with goods in the '80s and '90s... and to go back empty. The US Fed tried to stimulate the US economy on several occasions, but it had a strange effect. It put more credit in the hands of US consumers - who used the money to buy goods from overseas. In effect, the US Fed was stimulating manufacturing in China!

But in 2007-2008 the bubble in consumer debt blew up. GM went broke in May of '09. The financialization stage ended. In its place comes a new stage: politicization, the third and fatal phase of a great nation.

Where is the money now? It took the train from Grand Central Station in Manhattan down to Union Station in Washington, DC. Want money? Ask Washington. It's pledged an amount equal to three times what it spent in WWII to the fight against deflation.

Where is the power now? Just ask Chrysler bondholders; in the end it didn't matter what their contracts said... when the US government turned against them, their goose was cooked. The Obama Administration, owner of GM, now sets top salaries and determines what kind of cars the company will make. Washington also determines which businesses will be kept alive - AIG - and which will die - Lehman Bros. Now it's the politicians, not Wall Street, nor investors, who decide the allocation of big capital...

And when ambitious young people buy a ticket to begin their careers, are they going to Milwaukee... to Manhattan... or to the lobbyists' mecca in Northern Virginia?>>

Jun 18, 2009
Bill Bonner
25379  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IDF training on: June 19, 2009, 09:11:31 AM
Last update - 01:49 19/06/2009     
 
 
How an IDF colonel trains infantrymen to think, as well as charge 
 
By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent 
 
Tags: Israel News, IDF, Infantry 
 
 

During the final exercise for Battalion 906, which ends a week-long program for squad leaders at the infantry combat training school, the Brigade Commander, Colonel Yaron Boim, as well as his small group of command officers, run at least twice as much as the soldiers participating in the training. Brigade commanders normally oversee the big picture and large unit movements under their command, but in this case Boim runs alongside the companies and the platoons, simulating counter-attacks against hills in the mountains of the northern Negev.

He feels it's important to operate with the lowest levels, that of the foot soldiers in the field and the junior officers. During the exercise Boim barely talks to the officers, but appears behind the squads; as shots ring out, he fires questions at those who in a few weeks will lead fresh squads in IDF infantry units. He points out the slightest details in terms of managing their fire, and how they should move in the terrain. When a soldier exposes himself to the fire of an imaginary foe, Boim does not hesitate to "drop" them as wounded, thus delaying the entire squad that now must evacuate an injured man to the rallying point.

"With this kind of exercise we force the trainees to stop thinking only as a soldier that needs to rush forward and shoot on his own, but to look around, get a feel of his position on the ground and a sense of where the other elements of the force are, choose a path for progress and a direction for the assault," Boim says. "We ask them to plan the exercise, prepare the commands, and offer various ways for conquering targets."
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The IDF decided to hold a battalion-size exercise at the completion of the course for infantry squad commanders. Part of the purpose of this exercise is to prevent the possibility that young squad commanders in infantry brigades would move to their next assignments without having experienced a large-scale exercise in command.

Combining ground forces with air power

Even though most of the large exercises, starting at battalion level, have been held regularly since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, great emphasis is placed on combining the various types of ground forces with an element of air power. As such, it is not uncommon to now have infantry, armor, combat engineers and artillery participating in combined training operations with helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and air strike units.

All participants are trained in various command skills, navigation, using the terrain, and all the specializations of infantry soldiers. The exercise begins a short while before midnight, with a slow advance of infantry carrying their equipment through rough terrain, along dry river beds. At about 2:30 AM, they form into units at their assault points; half an hour before sunrise, heavy machine guns begin firing from selected positions prepared ahead of time. They are then followed by a gradual wave assault, carried out by three companies.

The course for squad leaders lasts 13 weeks and includes training in all the specializations of infantry soldiers - including navigation in open terrain, urban warfare, and indoctrination and morale classes that revolve around Zionism.

Boim says the assault on the Gaza Strip in January, as part of Operation Cast Lead, proved that the course is effective in training infantry squad leaders. Lessons from the operation have already been adopted into the second part of the training, which involves 30 different classes for training infantry troops in using various types of weapons and driving armored vehicles.

"From the operation [in Gaza] we learned to place emphasis on the use of mortars, especially on how to locate and pinpoint targets," Boim says. On a number of occasions during Cast Lead, mortars were fired against mistaken locations, injuring IDF troops and Palestinian civilians. In most of these cases, the issues stemmed from problems in relaying target data to the units operating the mortars.

Since the Second Lebanon War, the IDF has invested a great deal in the infantry Brigades, including acquiring new combat gear that no longer requires . Plans to acquire new armored personnel carriers, which have been delayed for budgetary reasons for nearly 20 years, are now being implemented in the form of the Namer tank, modeled on the chassis of the Mercava main battle tank.

The level of investment is also evident in the infrastructure at the base, where classrooms are air-conditioned, and there are computer rooms where the trainees undergo testing. The troops are also housed in permanent structures, rather than the typical tents. "It does not make the soldiers soft," Boim assures us. "We still go out to the field a great deal and we sleep in tents under difficult conditions, but the new means are force multipliers. Think of the time saved when we can now check the trainees' tests with computers rather than manually," he adds. 
25380  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 23 State Attorney Generals on: June 18, 2009, 03:44:27 PM
BBG:

EXCELLENT find!  I am spreading it around.

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

Here's this:

23 State Attorneys General To Attorney General Holder: "No Semi-Auto Ban"

Friday, June 12, 2009

On June 11, the top law enforcement officials of nearly half the states signed a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, expressing their opposition to reinstatement of the federal ban on semi-automatic firearms.

"We share the Obama Administration's commitment to reducing illegal drugs and violent crime within the United States. We also share your deep concern about drug cartel violence in Mexico. However, we do not believe that restricting law-abiding Americans' access to certain semi-automatic firearms will resolve any of these problems," the letter said.

The letter notes congressional opposition to bringing back the ban, and calls for increasing enforcement of existing laws.

We encourage NRA members to let these state officials know we appreciate them standing up to the incessant clamor for gun control that is currently coming from anti-gun groups and their media allies.

The 23 state Attorneys General, in alphabetical order, by state, are:

Arkansas – The Honorable Dustin McDaniel
Alabama - The Honorable Troy King
Colorado - The Honorable John W. Suthers
Florida - The Honorable Bill McCollum
Georgia - The Honorable Thurbert E. Baker
Idaho - The Honorable Lawrence G. Wasden
Kansas - The Honorable Steve Six
Kentucky - The Honorable Jack Conway
Louisiana - The Honorable James D. Caldwell
Michigan - The Honorable Mike Cox
Missouri - The Honorable Chris Koster
Montana - The Honorable Steve Bullock
Oklahoma - The Honorable W.A. Edmonson
Nebraska - The Honorable Jon Bruning
Nevada - The Honorable Catherine Cortez Masto
New Hampshire - The Honorable Kelly A. Ayotte
North Dakota - The Honorable Wayne Stenehjem
South Carolina - The Honorable Henry McMaster
South Dakota - The Honorable Lawrence Long
Texas - The Honorable Greg Abbott
Utah - The Honorable Mark L. Shurtleff
Wisconsin – The Honorable J.B. Van Hollen
Wyoming - The Honorable Bruce A. Salzburg



To read the letter in its entirety, please click here.
25381  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Incorp'g the 2d via Citizenship clause? on: June 18, 2009, 03:37:44 PM
Hat tip to BBG:
=================================

Will Second Amendment Be Incorporated Through Citizenship Clause?
Posted Jun 17, 2009, 06:49 am CDT   
By Debra Cassens Weiss

Federal appeals courts hearing gun rights cases after the Supreme Court’s Second Amendment ruling last year in District of Columbia v. Heller are confronting an old issue: whether the amendment applies to restrict state and local laws under the incorporation doctrine.

Heller found that the Second Amendment protected an individual right to own a gun in the District of Columbia, a federal enclave. New suits challenging state and local laws have resulted in a split. Two federal appeals courts refused to apply the Second Amendment to local laws without express Supreme Court authorization. A third disagreed.

University of Texas law professor Sanford Levinson told the New York Times that the case could present a dilemma for some conservative justices who scoffed at incorporation arguments in the past. Because of the touchy issues, he says he would be surprised if the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear new cases on the issue.

Yale law professor Akhil Reed Amar told the Times that incorporation fell out of favor after the 1960s, but it’s being resurrected by liberal scholars. Most of the Bill of Rights have been applied to the states under liberal Warren Court rulings that found the 14th Amendment required incorporation. One exception is the Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial, which has not been applied to the states.

“The precedents are now supportive of incorporation of nearly every provision of the Bill of Rights,” Amar told the Times. “Now what’s odd is that the Second Amendment doesn’t apply to the states.”

He believes the justices will support incorporation. A post at the Volokh Conspiracy after the Heller ruling cited evidence that Justice Antonin Scalia may be on board.

Scalia’s Heller opinion highlights the importance to the newly freed slaves of the right to keep and bear arms in the home—the kind of evidence used to support incorporation. One Scalia passage hints that he believes the amendment could be incorporated through the 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause, rather than due process safeguards, says the Volokh Conspiracy writer, University of Minnesota law professor Dale Carpenter.

http://www.abajournal.com/news/will_second_amendment_be_incorporated_through_citizenship_clause
25382  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Grannis et al on: June 18, 2009, 03:35:12 PM
Well, here's three bright people, including Scott Grannis offering their thoughts on this:  See the transcript of their conversation at
http://seekingalpha.com/article/143495-live-discussion-the-dollar-inflation-and-protecting-your-portfolio

While you are there, surf around a bit and click on some of the pieces there.
25383  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: June 18, 2009, 12:15:23 PM

The case for the economy coming out of recession is very well made here by my friend supply side economist Scott Grannis:

http://www.scottgrannis.blogspot.com/

I recommend this blog for regular reading in the highest terms.
25384  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Yes Senator Boxer! on: June 18, 2009, 12:12:56 PM
What a ____!  rolleyes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryEGmkjv8R8
25385  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Security, Executive Protection, Bodyguard, Surveillance issues on: June 18, 2009, 06:49:08 AM
Security at Places of Worship: More Than a Matter of Faith
June 17, 2009




By Scott Stewart and Fred Burton

In recent months, several high-profile incidents have raised awareness of the threat posed by individuals and small groups operating under the principles of leaderless resistance. These incidents have included lone wolf attacks against a doctor who performed abortions in Kansas, an armed forces recruitment center in Arkansas and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Additionally, a grassroots jihadist cell was arrested for attempting to bomb Jewish targets in the Bronx and planning to shoot down a military aircraft at an Air National Guard base in Newburgh, N.Y.

In addition to pointing out the threat posed by grassroots cells and lone wolf operatives, another common factor in all of these incidents is the threat of violence to houses of worship. The cell arrested in New York left what they thought to be active improvised explosive devices outside the Riverdale Temple and the Riverdale Jewish Community Center. Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed in the lobby of the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita. Although Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad conducted his attacks against a Little Rock recruiting center, he had conducted preoperational surveillance and research on targets that included Jewish organizations and a Baptist church in places as far away as Atlanta and Philadelphia. And while James von Brunn attacked the Holocaust Museum, he had a list of other potential targets in his vehicle that included the National Cathedral.

In light of this common thread, it might be instructive to take a more detailed look at the issue of providing security for places of worship.

Awareness: The First Step
Until there is awareness of the threat, little can be done to counter it. In many parts of the world, such as Iraq, India and Pakistan, attacks against places of worship occur fairly frequently. It is not difficult for religious leaders and members of their congregations in such places to be acutely aware of the dangers facing them and to have measures already in place to deal with those perils. This is not always the case in the United States, however, where many people tend to have an “it can’t happen here” mindset, believing that violence in or directed against places of worship is something that happens only to other people elsewhere.

This mindset is particularly pervasive among predominantly white American Protestant and Roman Catholic congregations. Jews, Mormons, Muslims and black Christians, and others who have been targeted by violence in the past, tend to be far more aware of the threat and are far more likely to have security plans and measures in place to counter it. The Jewish community has very well-developed and professional organizations such as the Secure Community Network (SCN) and the Anti-Defamation League that are dedicated to monitoring threats and providing education about the threats and advice regarding security. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has taken on a similar role for the Muslim community and has produced a “Muslim community safety kit” for local mosques. (I have written to Stratfor complaining of the credibility it gives here to this nefarious organization-Marc)The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) also has a very organized and well-connected security department that provides information and security advice and assistance to LDS congregations worldwide.

There are no functional equivalents to the SCN or the LDS security departments in the larger Catholic, evangelical Protestant and mainline Protestant communities, though there are some organizations such as the recently established Christian Security Network that have been attempting to fill the void.

Following an incident, awareness of the threat seems to rise for a time, and some houses of worship will put some security measures in place, but for the most part such incidents are seen as events that take place elsewhere, and the security measures are abandoned after a short time.

Permanent security measures are usually not put in place until there has been an incident of some sort at a specific house of worship, and while the triggering incident is sometimes something that merely provides a good scare, other times it is a violent action that results in tragedy. Even when no one is hurt in the incident, the emotional damage caused to a community by an act of vandalism or arson at a house of worship can be devastating.

It is important to note here that not all threats to places of worship will emanate from external actors. In the midst of any given religious congregation, there are, by percentages, people suffering from serious mental illnesses, people engaged in bitter child-custody disputes, domestic violence situations and messy divorces. Internal disputes in the congregation can also lead to feuds and violence. Any of these situations can (and have) led to acts of violence inside houses of worship.

Security Means More than Alarms and Locks

An effective security program is more than just having physical security measures in place. Like any man-made constructs, physical security measures — closed-circuit television (CCTV), alarms, cipher locks and so forth — have finite utility. They serve a valuable purpose in institutional security programs, but an effective security program cannot be limited to these things. Devices cannot think or evaluate. They are static and can be observed, learned and even fooled. Also, because some systems frequently produce false alarms, warnings in real danger situations may be brushed aside. Given these shortcomings, it is quite possible for anyone planning an act of violence to map out, quantify and then defeat or bypass physical security devices. However, elaborate planning is not always necessary. Consider the common scenario of a heavy metal door with very good locks that is propped open with a trashcan or a door wedge. In such a scenario, an otherwise “secure” door is defeated by an internal security lapse.

However, even in situations where there is a high degree of threat awareness, there is a tendency to place too much trust in physical security measures, which can become a kind of crutch — and, ironically, an obstacle to effective security.

In fact, to be effective, physical security devices always require human interaction. An alarm is useless if no one responds to it, or if it is not turned on; a lock is ineffective if it is not engaged. CCTV cameras are used extensively in corporate office buildings and some houses of worship, but any competent security manager will tell you that, in reality, they are far more useful in terms of investigating a theft or act of violence after the fact than in preventing one (although physical security devices can sometimes cause an attacker to divert to an easier target).

No matter what kinds of physical security measures may be in place at a facility, they are far less likely to be effective if a potential assailant feels free to conduct preoperational surveillance, and is free to observe and map those physical security measures. The more at ease someone feels as they set about identifying and quantifying the physical security systems and procedures in place, the higher the odds they will find ways to beat the system.

A truly “hard” target is one that couples physical security measures with an aggressive, alert attitude and sense of awareness. An effective security program is proactive — looking outward to where most real threats are lurking — rather than inward, where the only choice is to react once an attack has begun to unfold. We refer to this process of proactively looking for threats as protective intelligence.

The human interaction required to make physical security measures effective, and to transform a security program into a proactive protective intelligence program, can come in the form of designated security personnel. In fact, many large houses of worship do utilize off-duty police officers, private security guards, volunteer security guards or even a dedicated security staff to provide this coverage. In smaller congregations, security personnel can be members of the congregation who have been provided some level of training.

However, even in cases where there are specially designated security personnel, such officers have only so many eyes and can only be in a limited number of places at any one time. Thus, proactive security programs should also work to foster a broad sense of security awareness among the members of the congregation and community, and use them as additional resources.

Unfortunately, in many cases, there is often a sense in the religious community that security is bad for the image of a particular institution, or that it will somehow scare people away from houses of worship. Because of this, security measures, if employed, are often hidden or concealed from the congregation. In such cases, security managers are deprived of many sets of eyes and ears. Certainly, there may be certain facets of a security plan that not everyone in the congregation needs to know about, but in general, an educated and aware congregation and community can be a very valuable security asset.

Training

In order for a congregation to maintain a sense of heightened awareness it must learn how to effectively do that. This training should not leave people scared or paranoid — just more observant. People need to be trained to look for individuals who are out of place, which can be somewhat counterintuitive. By nature, houses of worship are open to outsiders and seek to welcome strangers. They frequently have a steady turnover of new faces. This causes many to believe that, in houses of worship, there is a natural antagonism between security and openness, but this does not have to be the case. A house of worship can have both a steady stream of visitors and good security, especially if that security is based upon situational awareness.

At its heart, situational awareness is about studying people, and such scrutiny will allow an observer to pick up on demeanor mistakes that might indicate someone is conducting surveillance. Practicing awareness and paying attention to the people approaching or inside a house of worship can also open up a whole new world of ministry opportunities, as people “tune in” to others and begin to perceive things they would otherwise miss if they were self-absorbed or simply not paying attention. In other words, practicing situational awareness provides an excellent opportunity for the members of a congregation to focus on the needs and burdens of other people.

It is important to remember that every attack cycle follows the same general steps. All criminals — whether they are stalkers, thieves, lone wolves or terrorist groups — engage in preoperational surveillance (sometimes called “casing,” in the criminal lexicon). Perhaps the most crucial point to be made about preoperational surveillance is that it is the phase when someone with hostile intentions is most apt to be detected — and the point in the attack cycle when potential violence can be most easily disrupted or prevented.

The second most critical point to emphasize about surveillance is that most criminals are not that good at it. They often have terrible surveillance tradecraft and are frequently very obvious. Most often, the only reason they succeed in conducting surveillance without being detected is because nobody is looking for them. Because of this, even ordinary people, if properly instructed, can note surveillance activity.

It is also critically important to teach people — including security personnel and members of the congregation — what to do if they see something suspicious and whom to call to report it. Unfortunately, a lot of critical intelligence is missed because it is not reported in a timely manner — or not reported at all — mainly because untrained people have a habit of not trusting their judgment and dismissing unusual activity. People need to be encouraged to report what they see.

Additionally, people who have been threatened, are undergoing nasty child-custody disputes or have active restraining orders protecting them against potentially violent people need to be encouraged to report unusual activity to their appropriate points of contact.

As a part of their security training, houses of worship should also instruct their staff and congregation members on procedures to follow if a shooter enters the building and creates what is called an active-shooter situation. These “shooter” drills should be practiced regularly — just like fire, tornado or earthquake drills. The teachers of children’s classes and nursery workers must also be trained in how to react.

Liaison

One of the things the SCN and ADL do very well is foster security liaison among Jewish congregations within a community and between those congregations and local, state and federal law enforcement organizations. This is something that houses of worship from other faiths should attempt to duplicate as part of their security plans.

While having a local cop in a congregation is a benefit, contacting the local police department should be the first step. It is very important to establish this contact before there is a crisis in order to help expedite any law enforcement response. Some police departments even have dedicated community liaison officers, who are good points of initial contact. There are other specific points of contact that should also be cultivated within the local department, such as the SWAT team and the bomb squad.

Local SWAT teams often appreciate the chance to do a walk-through of a house of worship so that they can learn the layout of the building in case they are ever called to respond to an emergency there. They also like the opportunity to use different and challenging buildings for training exercises (something that can be conducted discreetly after hours). Congregations with gyms and weight rooms will often open them up for local police officers to exercise in, and some congregations will also offer police officers a cup of coffee and a desk where they can sit and type their reports during evening hours.

But the local police department is not the only agency with which liaison should be established. Depending on the location of the house of worship, the state police, state intelligence fusion center or local joint terrorism task force should also be contacted. By working through state and federal channels, houses of worship in specific locations may even be eligible for grants to help underwrite security through programs such as the Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Areas Security Initiative Nonprofit Security Grant Program.

The world is a dangerous place and attacks against houses of worship will continue to occur. But there are proactive security measures that can be taken to identify attackers before they strike and help prevent attacks from happening or mitigate their effects when they do.
25386  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Greg Mortenson on: June 18, 2009, 05:59:08 AM
http://pr-usa.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=224172&Itemid=33

Best-selling Co-author of “Three Cups of Tea” and Noble Peace Prize Nominee to Hold Event on the U.S.S. Midway Museum-

Greg Mortenson, co-author of the New York Times best-selling book “Three Cups of Tea” and current Nobel Peace Prize nominee, will be in San Diego on Wednesday night, July 1st, to continue his bridge building efforts with the military community by addressing a largely military audience on the U.S.S. Midway Museum. The event will also be open to the general public with proceeds donated to the Central Asia Institute, Greg’s non-profit organization, with the mission to promote and support community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

A former world-class mountain climber who has devoted the past 16 years to building schools in Central Asia, Mortenson has attracted the notice (and the readership) of both General David Petraeus and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

With the situation in both Afghanistan and Pakistan becoming more problematic, the military leadership is increasingly gravitating to Mortenson’s advice on how to build stronger relationships with tribal leaders and village elders – a key to winning the “hearts and minds” aspect of the conflict in the region.

Since 1993, Mortenson has built 78 schools, which are currently educating over 28,000 children with an emphasis on teaching girls. “If you educate a boy,” says Mortenson, “you educate an individual, but if you educate a girl, you educate a community.”

Mortenson has had more than his share of close calls while leading this unique effort. In 1996, he survived an eight-day kidnapping and in 2003, managed to escape a firefight between feuding Afghan warlords by hiding for eight hours under a pile of putrid animal hides. Readers of his best-selling book (122 weeks on the NYT best seller list, #1 for 41 weeks, translated into 29 languages, with a children and Young Readers edition available as well) gain an intimate look into his efforts and challenges and no doubt feel an admiration for his passion and persistence.

In the past two years, the Taliban have shut down 500 schools in Afghanistan and 175 in Pakistan, almost all of them schools for girls. But only one school built by Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute has been attacked. That school was reopened after two days via a counterattack by a warlord whose own daughters were attending students. The key difference has been in Mortenson’s approach to building and maintaining the schools – with a keen understanding and respect for local culture and authority.

“Education is a long-term solution to fanaticism,” says Colonel Christopher Kolenda, who commanded an Army brigade in a part of eastern Afghanistan where Mortenson founded two schools. “As Greg points out so well, ignorance breeds hatred and violence.”

Initially resistant to working with the military, despite being an Army veteran himself, Mortenson has rethought his approach. “I get criticism from the NGO community, who tell me I shouldn’t talk to the military at all,” he said. “But the military has a willingness to change and adapt that you don’t see in other parts of the government.”

Tickets for the event will be $25.00 purchased in advance at www.tix.com. Search on keyword “Mortenson” and click on the July 1 event. Active duty and retired military personnel can reserve Free tickets by e-mailing July1Midway@gmail.com This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it by June 24th (military ID will be required).

For more information, visit:
http://www.gregmortenson.com – Greg Mortenson
http://www.threecupsoftea.com - book
http://www.ikat.org - Central Asia Institute

Photo Editors:
Free editorial images available on. https://www.ikat.org/media-and-press/image-gallery/

Literary/Book Editors:
"Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace and Build Nations ... One School At A Time," by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin; ISBN: 0670034827/Viking/Hardcover/338 pages/$25.95.

Contact information:
Event contact: Gretchen Breuner, GJBB@COX.NET This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Press contact: Cynthia Guiang, CG Communications, 858-793-2471, Cynthia@cgcommunications.com This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
25387  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Paine on: June 18, 2009, 05:17:48 AM
"As parents, we can have no joy, knowing that this government is not sufficiently lasting to ensure any thing which we may bequeath to posterity: And by a plain method of argument, as we are running the next generation into debt, we ought to do the work of it, otherwise we use them meanly and pitifully. In order to discover the line of our duty rightly, we should take our children in our hand, and fix our station a few years farther into life; that eminence will present a prospect, which a few present fears and prejudices conceal from our sight."

--Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776
25388  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: June 18, 2009, 05:16:34 AM
Its an idea that a economic fascist would love.
25389  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We have lost a player on: June 18, 2009, 04:46:08 AM
Woof All:

We have lost JDN as a player here due to a lack of the "after dinner" tone of some recent comments.

I know he irritated some, but this bit about the after dinner tone matters, regardless of the POV and whether responses are  , , , responsive.   

TAC,
Marc
25390  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / More on sunspots on: June 18, 2009, 04:25:49 AM


The article starts talking about low wheat production due to the weather, then discusses the role of sunspots on the earths temperature.  The sunspot issue was first flagged here quite some time ago, but now begins to getting wider notice.

http://www.minyanville.com/articles/canada-commodities-wheat-dba-MOO/index/a/23113
25391  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The death and life of HC reform on: June 17, 2009, 07:15:11 AM
The following is a draft of a speech titled "The Obama Years: A Reappraisal" that mysteriously was never delivered at the 2070 national meeting of the Institute of Advanced Obamalogy:

So it came to pass in the waning days of the health-care wars that Democrats learned the American people really didn't want a nationalized health-care industry.

The Obama administration's "public option," which all knew to be a vote for a government takeover, proved a drink too stiff for four or five Democratic senators whose re-election was not in the bag.

President Obama applauded himself for achieving "85% of what we set out to accomplish." But pundits and wonks were in despair. They retreated to their watering holes and cried into their Stoli martinis. The cause of their lives was over. A once-in-a-generation opportunity had been muffed. Without a massive bill in Congress, with many titles and subtitles and subchapters, they moaned, there was no hope for fixing all that ailed the American health-care system.

 
But politics went on, and while the armies of wonkdom mourned, three little-known congressmen (Eric Paul, Ryan Cantor and Kemp Newtley) discovered an unexpected public enthusiasm for a flat tax.

Through incessant Twittering over the heads of the media, they persuaded millions of voters they'd be better off with lower rates even if it meant giving up tax-free employer provided health insurance. It didn't hurt, either, that the wailing of insurance and medical lobbyists was over-the-top -- convincing voters that the tax benefit really was just a form of corporate welfare disguised as a mostly illusory benefit for individuals.

Though the realization was slow in dawning, policy experts would eventually rediscover what they had known all along (but had conveniently forgotten in order to lend their voices to "solutions" that required ever more government spending) -- that tax reform, in the American context, is health-care reform.

And, lo, it proved true, as 100 million intelligent, well-educated employees of Corporate America were allowed to see for the first time what "tax free" health insurance was really costing them. They saw how it distorted their behavior and caused them to allocate far more of their incomes to the medical-industrial complex than they would have chosen for themselves.

Eyes newly opened, they demanded cheaper insurance options, covering fewer services (cancer wigs, family counseling, in-vitro fertilization), and opted for plans with higher deductibles and co-pays in return for much lower monthly rates.

Because consumers were now spending their "own" money on health care, doctors and hospitals found it necessary to publish and even advertise their prices. A hospital that specialized in heart surgery, performing thousands of procedures a year, found it had both the highest quality and lowest cost -- and now marketed itself as such. Ditto specialists in cancer, diabetes and other conditions.

For the first time, Americans spent less and got more. Spending fell overnight by 13%, which happened to be exactly what economists had predicted if the price tags were restored to health care and consumers were allowed to see clearly what they were getting (or not getting) for their money. As predicted, too, spending thereafter rose only in line with incomes.

What's more, many fewer people remained voluntarily uninsured now that health insurance was no longer a gold-plated extravagance affordable only by those in the top brackets who could slough off 40% of the cost on other taxpayers. Existing programs for the needy, in turn, could be downsized and revamped into voucher programs. The federal budget benefited twice over -- from fewer claimants and from medical care that was less costly. Fiscal wreck was avoided.

In truth, President Obama had been little involved to this point. Following his early domestic "successes," he was spending more and more time abroad sharing his matchless eloquence with previously unblessed audiences from Ulan Bator to Ouagadougou.

A highly symbolic moment, however, came when Mr. Obama, who had put on weight in office and now tipped the scales at nearly 300 pounds, returned from a speaking tour on the virtues of nonproliferation to audiences in the Islamic Republic of Palau. Having overindulged in local delicacies, he was surprised when the White House medical office handed him a Wal-Mart debit card and sent him to a nearby Wal-Mart supercenter boasting "Everyday Low Prices on Gastric Bypass Surgery."

Emerging afterward to the usual crowd of ululating network reporters and bloggers, Mr. Obama pronounced himself entirely pleased and satisfied with the "success of my health-care reforms."

And so it came to pass that historians and Obamalogists would count health-care reform among the incomparable triumphs of the Obama administration, and lost to history would be the names of Eric Paul, Ryan Cantor and Kemp Newtley.
25392  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Webster on: June 17, 2009, 06:28:15 AM
"Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country."

--Noah Webster, On the Education of Youth in America, 1788
25393  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Destabilizing from within? on: June 17, 2009, 12:20:59 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Islamic Republic Destabilizing From Within?
June 16, 2009
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Tehran on Monday to protest results of the June 12 election, which returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to office. State broadcasters reported that seven people were killed in shooting that erupted after the Basij militia opened fire on protesters, who hurled rocks at a Basij compound near the main protest. The protests have now spread beyond Tehran to several other cities.

Clearly, the situation on the streets has escalated exponentially since the initial weekend protests in Tehran, when the number of demonstrators was much lower. Violent clashes between security forces and protesters are likely to lead to greater unrest in the days ahead; such events tend to feed off one another and build in intensity. The last time Iran experienced so great a level of unrest was during the 1979 revolution, which brought the current regime to power. Consequently, questions are being raised about the stability of the Islamic Republic.

These questions are not being raised only by outside observers. In fact, we are told that the most powerful figures within the clerical establishment — including the second most powerful cleric, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani — have warned Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that the situation could metastasize and lead to the collapse of the regime unless election results are annulled and a fresh vote ordered. Rafsanjani is joined by many other powerful conservatives, who are working behind the scenes to steer the country away from what appears to be an increasingly explosive situation.

Rafsanjani and those who agree with him are obviously concerned about the almost unprecedented unrest on the streets and the possibility that it could destabilize the regime from within. But the radical advice of these conservatives to the Supreme Leader is being driven by the threat to their own political interests that comes not from the public, but from Ahmadinejad and his allies — who would like to use their election win to set the stage for an eventual purge of Rafsanjani and those like him. In other words, Ahmadinejad’s enemies within the system would like to use the current crisis to launch a preemptive strike and neutralize the threat they face from his re-election.

Khamenei, who has long acted as the ultimate arbiter between factions in Tehran, is therefore in the biggest quandary of his political career. He does not want to see the Islamic Republic collapse on his watch. But he has little room to maneuver: He can neither contain the unrest in the streets without a brutal crackdown that could radicalize both the opposition and key government factions, nor can he move easily toward a fresh vote. Ahmadinejad and his allies will not back down after winning what was, ostensibly, a landslide election in their favor.

While many compelling arguments have been made about the improbability of Ahmadinejad winning the election by several million votes, there is insufficient empirical evidence to support the claim of fraud. Foul play on such a large scale would not be possible without the involvement of a very large number of people. Furthermore, requests for the kind of data that could corroborate such fraud have been ignored.

Iran’s powerful Guardians Council, which must certify the election results, has begun a probe into the matter, and therefore it is quite possible that in the next several days such evidence may emerge. But what is stunning is how, thus far, there have been no leaks to the press on the details of the alleged vote tampering. So long as there is no clear evidence of wrongdoing, Ahmadinejad’s opponents cannot make a convincing case against his government.

At this stage, it is difficult to predict the trajectory of events — but this election has clearly resulted in a breach within the Islamic Republic that could prove difficult to mend, regardless of the outcome of the clash between the president and his opponents. Until Friday’s vote, Iran had proven quite resilient — weathering a devastating eight-year war, decades of international sanctions, multiple rebel groups, and a long confrontation with the United States. In the last four days, the regime has found that the greatest threat to its existence comes from within.
25394  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: toronto dbma training camp featuring Crafty Dog, Top Dog and Sled Dog Aug 21-23 on: June 16, 2009, 09:05:39 PM
Woof Dog Rene:

Would you please post here EXACTLY what you want us to post on our seminar page.

Thank you,
Guro C.
25395  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Delphi on: June 16, 2009, 12:50:03 PM
The Obama Administration's fast-track sale of bankrupt auto-parts supplier Delphi hit a speed bump late last week when Judge Robert Drain ordered that Delphi conduct an open auction for its assets. That has a number of distressed-debt investors circling. It may also mean that the public will get some answers about the curiously structured sale that GM had quietly put forward the same day it filed for bankruptcy protection itself.

Under that deal, a bankrupt GM -- which is to say, taxpayers -- was set to provide most of the funding for Delphi's exit from bankruptcy, with private-equity firm Platinum Equity throwing in some cash and getting a sizable equity stake in return. The investors who have so far provided most of the debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing during Delphi's four-year bankruptcy case would have gotten as little as 20 cents on the dollar -- almost unheard-of in bankruptcy cases.

Those investors cried foul, pointing out that DIP financers generally have the right to take control of the company if they can't be paid in full. GM and the government at first threatened to play hardball, claiming that Platinum was the only buyer acceptable to GM and so its deal was the only one on the table. Judge Drain wasn't buying it, however. "I don't know what makes Platinum acceptable to GM and why Platinum is unique," he said. "Unless I hear more, there's something going on here that doesn't to me make sense."

That's putting it mildly. When the government arranged the Chrysler and GM bankruptcies, it noted with some justification that, as the DIP financer for the cases, it had wide latitude to determine the companies' fates and ownership structure. But when it comes to Delphi's private DIP lenders, it has taken a very different position, apparently in the interests of wrapping up Delphi's case as quickly as possible to speed GM's own exit from bankruptcy. Taxpayers and investors alike deserve to know more about what looks like a sweetheart deal for one favored group of investors, and Judge Drain deserves kudos for putting on the brakes.
25396  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: June 16, 2009, 11:02:24 AM
Good source of economic charts and other data:

http://zimor.com/
25397  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Netanyahu's speech on: June 16, 2009, 08:53:50 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Netanyahu's Speech and the Peace Process
June 15, 2009
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday gave his long-awaited speech, which was in effect a response to U.S. President Barack Obama’s demand that Israel stop expanding its settlements in the West Bank. Netanyahu framed his response in the context of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election victory. His argument was essentially that the problem was not the presence of Israeli troops in the West Bank, but rather the attitude of Palestinians, Arabs and Iranians to Israel. In doing this, Netanyahu is trying to transform the discussion of the Palestinian peace process, particularly in the United States.

Netanyahu argued that the occupation was not the problem. First, he pointed out that Palestinians had rejected peace with Israel prior to 1967, just as much as after. He went on to say, “Territorial withdrawals have not lessened the hatred, and to our regret, Palestinian moderates are not yet ready to say the simple words: Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and it will stay that way.” In other words, the U.S. demand for a halt to settlement expansions misses the point. There was no peace before Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza, and there was no peace when Israel withdrew or offered to withdraw from those territories.

Therefore, he argued, the problem is not what Israel does, but what the Palestinians do, and the core of the problem is the refusal of the Palestinians and others to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Essentially, the problem is that the Palestinians want to destroy Israel — not that Israel is occupying Palestinian territories.

The prime minister went on to make an offer that is radically different from the traditional concept of two states. He accepted the idea of a Palestinian state — but only as a disarmed entity, with Israel retaining security rights in the territories. Having defined the problem as Palestinian hostility, he redefined the solution as limiting Palestinian power.

This clearly puts Netanyahu on a collision course with the Obama administration. He rejected the call to stop the expansion of settlements. He has accepted the idea of a two-state solution — but on the condition that it includes disarmament for the Palestinians — and he has rejected the notion of “land for peace,” restructuring it as “land after peace.” This is not a new position by Netanyahu, and it will come no surprise to the United States.

The game Obama is playing is broader than the Israeli-Palestinian issue. He is trying to reshape the perception of the United States in the Islamic world. In his view, if he can do that, the threat to the United States from terrorism will decline and the United States’ ability to pursue its interests in the Muslim world will improve. This is the essential strategy Washington is pursuing, while maintaining a presence in Iraq and prosecuting the war in Afghanistan.

There is obviously a tension in U.S. policy. In order for this strategy to work, Obama must deliver something, and the thing that he believes will have the most value is a substantial Israeli gesture leading to a resumption of the peace process. That’s why Obama focused on settlements: It was substantial and immediate, and carried with it some pain for Israel.

Netanyahu has refused to play. He has rejected not only the settlements issue but also the basic concepts behind the peace process that the United States has been pushing for a generation. He has rejected land for peace and, in some ways, the principle of full Palestinian sovereignty. Rather than giving Obama what he wanted, Netanyahu is taking things off the table.

Netanyahu has said his piece. Now Obama must decide what, if anything, he is going to do about it. He has few choices other than to persuade Netanyahu to back off, sanction Israel or let it slide. Netanyahu cannot be persuaded, but he might be forced. Sanctioning Israel in the wake of the Iranian election would not be easy to do. Letting it slide undermines Obama’s wider strategy in the Muslim world.

Netanyahu has called Obama’s hand. All Obama can do is pass, fold or raise. According to Reuters, the White House has responded to Netanyahu’s speech by announcing that Obama “believes this solution can and must ensure both Israel’s security and the fulfillment of the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for a viable state.” Obama is trying to pass for the moment. The Arabs won’t let him do that for long.
25398  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Corruption, Skullduggery, and Treason on: June 16, 2009, 08:40:55 AM
Glenn Beck has done some good work bringing attention to this case:

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/Whats-behind-Obamas-sudden-firing-of-the-AmeriCorps-inspector-general-47877797.html


Today the WSJ jumps in:

President Obama swept to office on the promise of a new kind of politics, but then how do you explain last week's dismissal of federal Inspector General Gerald Walpin for the crime of trying to protect taxpayer dollars? This is a case that smells of political favoritism and Chicago rules.

A George W. Bush appointee, Mr. Walpin has since 2007 been the inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that oversees such subsidized volunteer programs as AmeriCorps. In April 2008 the Corporation asked Mr. Walpin to investigate reports of irregularities at St. HOPE, a California nonprofit run by former NBA star and Obama supporter Kevin Johnson. St. HOPE had received an $850,000 AmeriCorps grant, which was supposed to go for three purposes: tutoring for Sacramento-area students; the redevelopment of several buildings; and theater and art programs.

 
Associated Press
 
Gerald Walpin, Inspector General of the Corporation For National and Community Service, was fired by President Barack Obama.
Mr. Walpin's investigators discovered that the money had been used instead to pad staff salaries, meddle politically in a school-board election, and have AmeriCorps members perform personal services for Mr. Johnson, including washing his car.

At the end of May, Mr. Walpin's office recommended that Mr. Johnson, an assistant and St. HOPE itself be "suspended" from receiving federal funds. The Corporation's official charged with suspensions agreed, and in September the suspension letters went out. Mr. Walpin's office also sent a civil and/or criminal referral to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California.

So far, so normal. But that all changed last fall, when Mr. Johnson was elected mayor of Sacramento. News of the suspension had become public, and President Obama began to discuss his federal stimulus spending. A city-hired attorney pronounced in March that Sacramento might be barred from receiving stimulus funds because of Mr. Johnson's suspension.

The news caused a public uproar. The U.S. Attorney's office, which since January has been headed by Lawrence Brown -- a career prosecutor who took over when the Bush-appointed Attorney left -- had already decided not to pursue criminal charges. Media and political pressure then mounted for the office to settle the issue and lift Mr. Johnson's suspension. Mr. Walpin agreed Mr. Johnson should pay back money but objected to lifting the suspension. He noted that Mr. Johnson has never officially responded to the Corporation's findings and that the entire point of suspension is to keep federal funds from individuals shown to have misused them.

Mr. Brown's office responded by cutting off contact with Mr. Walpin's office and began working directly with the Corporation, the board of which is now chaired by one of Mr. Obama's top campaign fundraisers, Alan Solomont. A few days later, Mr. Brown's office produced a settlement draft that significantly watered down any financial repayment and cleared Mr. Johnson. Mr. Walpin told us that in all his time working with U.S. Attorneys on cases he'd referred, he'd never been cut out in such fashion.

Mr. Walpin brought his concerns to the Corporation's board, but some board members were angry over a separate Walpin investigation into the wrongful disbursement of $80 million to the City University of New York. Concerned about the St. HOPE mess, Mr. Walpin wrote a 29-page report, signed by two other senior members of his office, and submitted it in April to Congress. Last Wednesday, he got a phone call from a White House lawyer telling him to resign within an hour or be fired.

We've long disliked the position of inspectors general, on grounds that they are creatures of Congress designed to torment the executive. Yet this case appears to be one in which an IG was fired because he criticized a favorite Congressional and executive project (AmeriCorps), and refused to bend to political pressure to let the Sacramento mayor have his stimulus dollars.

There's also the question of how Mr. Walpin was terminated. He says the phone call came from Norman Eisen, the Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform, who said the President felt it was time for Mr. Walpin to "move on," and that it was "pure coincidence" he was asked to leave during the St. HOPE controversy. Yet the Administration has already had to walk back that claim.

That's because last year Congress passed the Inspectors General Reform Act, which requires the President to give Congress 30 days notice, plus a reason, before firing an inspector general. A co-sponsor of that bill was none other than Senator Obama. Having failed to pressure Mr. Walpin into resigning (which in itself might violate the law), the Administration was forced to say he'd be terminated in 30 days, and to tell Congress its reasons.

White House Counsel Gregory Craig cited a complaint that had been lodged against Mr. Walpin by Mr. Brown, the U.S. Attorney, accusing Mr. Walpin of misconduct, and of not really having the goods on Mr. Johnson. But this is curious given that Mr. Brown himself settled with St. HOPE, Mr. Johnson and his assistant, an agreement that required St. HOPE (with a financial assist from Mr. Johnson) to repay approximately half of the grant, and also required Mr. Johnson to take an online course about bookkeeping.

Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, a co-sponsor of the IG Reform Act, is now demanding that the Corporation hand over its communications on this mess. He also wants to see any contact with the office of First Lady Michelle Obama, who has taken a particular interest in AmeriCorps, and whose former chief of staff, Jackie Norris, recently arrived at the Corporation as a "senior adviser."

If this seems like small beer, keep in mind that Mr. Obama promised to carefully watch how every stimulus dollar is spent. In this case, the evidence suggests that his White House fired a public official who refused to roll over to protect a Presidential crony.
25399  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More Spengler on: June 16, 2009, 08:20:39 AM
second post

 Feb 24, 2009 
 
 
 
 Sex, drugs and Islam
By Spengler

Political Islam returned to the world stage with Ruhollah Khomeini's 1979 revolution in Iran, which became the most aggressive patron of Muslim radicals outside its borders, including Hamas in the Palestinian territories and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Until very recently, an oil-price windfall gave the Iranian state ample resources to pursue its agenda at home and abroad. How, then, should we explain an eruption of social pathologies in Iran such as drug addiction and prostitution, on a scale much worse than anything observed in the West? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it appears that Islamic theocracy promotes rather than represses social decay.

Iran is dying. The collapse of Iran's birth rate during the past 20 years is the fastest recorded in any country, ever. Demographers
have sought in vain to explain Iran's population implosion through family planning policies, or through social factors such as the rise of female literacy.

But quantifiable factors do not explain the sudden collapse of fertility. It seems that a spiritual decay has overcome Iran, despite best efforts of a totalitarian theocracy. Popular morale has deteriorated much faster than in the "decadent" West against which the Khomeini revolution was directed.

"Iran is dying for a fight," I wrote in 2007 (Please see Why Iran is dying for a fight, November 13, 2007.) in the literal sense that its decline is so visible that some of its leaders think that they have nothing to lose.

Their efforts to isolate Iran from the cultural degradation of the American "great Satan" have produced social pathologies worse than those in any Western country. With oil at barely one-fifth of its 2008 peak price, they will run out of money some time in late 2009 or early 2010. Game theory would predict that Iran's leaders will gamble on a strategic long shot. That is not a comforting thought for Iran's neighbors.

Two indicators of Iranian morale are worth citing.

First, prostitution has become a career of choice among educated Iranian women. On February 3, the Austrian daily Der Standard published the results of two investigations conducted by the Tehran police, suppressed by the Iranian media. [1]

"More than 90% of Tehran's prostitutes have passed the university entrance exam, according to the results of one study, and more than 30% of them are registered at a university or studying," reports Der Standard. "The study was assigned to the Tehran Police Department and the Ministry of Health, and when the results were tabulated in early January no local newspaper dared to so much as mention them."

The Austrian newspaper added, "Eighty percent of the Tehran sex workers maintained that they pursue this career voluntarily and temporarily. The educated ones are waiting for better jobs. Those with university qualifications intend to study later, and the ones who already are registered at university mention the high tuition [fees] as their motive for prostitution ... they are content with their occupation and do not consider it a sin according to Islamic law."

There is an extensive trade in poor Iranian women who are trafficked to the Gulf states in huge numbers, as well as to Europe and Japan. "A nation is never really beaten until it sells its women," I wrote in a 2006 study of Iranian prostitution, Jihads and whores.

Prostitution as a response to poverty and abuse is one thing, but the results of this new study reflect something quite different. The educated women of Tehran choose prostitution in pursuit of upward mobility, as a way of sharing in the oil-based potlatch that made Tehran the world's hottest real estate market during 2006 and 2007.

A country is beaten when it sells its women, but it is damned when its women sell themselves. The popular image of the Iranian sex trade portrays tearful teenagers abused and cast out by impoverished parents. Such victims doubtless abound, but the majority of Tehran's prostitutes are educated women seeking affluence.

Only in the former Soviet Union after the collapse of communism in 1990 did educated women choose prostitution on a comparable scale, but under very different circumstances. Russians went hungry during the early 1990s as the Soviet economy dissolved and the currency collapsed. Today's Iranians suffer from shortages, but the data suggest that Tehran's prostitutes are not so much pushed into the trade by poverty as pulled into it by wealth.

A year ago I observed that prices for Tehran luxury apartments exceeded those in Paris, as Iran's kleptocracy distributed the oil windfall to tens of thousands of hangers-on of the revolution. $35 billion went missing from state oil funds, opposition newspapers charged at the time. Corruption evidently has made whores of Tehran's educated women. (Please see Worst of times for Iran, June 24, 2008.)

Second, according to a recent report from the US Council on Foreign Relations, "Iran serves as the major transport hub for opiates produced by [Afghanistan], and the UN Office of Drugs and Crime estimates that Iran has as many as 1.7 million opiate addicts." That is, 5% of Iran's adult, non-elderly population of 35 million is addicted to opiates. That is an astonishing number, unseen since the peak of Chinese addiction during the 19th century. The closest American equivalent (from the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health) found that 119,000 Americans reported using heroin within the prior month, or less than one-tenth of 1% of the non-elderly adult population.

Nineteenth-century China had comparable rates of opium addiction, after the British won two wars for the right to push the drug down China's throat. Post-communist Russia had comparable rates of prostitution, when people actually went hungry. Iran's startling rates of opium addiction and prostitution reflect popular demoralization, the implosion of an ancient culture in its encounter with the modern world. These pathologies arose not from poverty but wealth, or rather a sudden concentration of wealth in the hands of the political class. No other country in modern history has evinced this kind of demoralization.

For the majority of young Iranians, there is no way up, only a way out; 36% of Iran's youth aged 15 to 29 years want to emigrate, according to yet another unpublicized Iranian study, this time by the country's Education Ministry, Der Standard adds. Only 32% find the existing social norms acceptable, while 63% complain about unemployment, the social order or lack of money.

As I reported in the cited essay, the potlatch for the political class is balanced by widespread shortages for ordinary Iranians. This winter, widespread natural gas shortages left tens of thousands of households without heat.

The declining morale of the Iranian population helps make sense of its galloping demographic decline. Academic demographers have tried to explain collapsing fertility as a function of rising female literacy. The problem is that the Iranian regime lies about literacy data, and has admitted as much recently.

In a recent paper entitled "Education and the World's Most Raid Fertility Decline in Iran [2], American and Iranian demographers observe:
A first analysis of the Iran 2006 census results shows a sensationally low fertility level of 1.9 for the whole country and only 1.5 for the Tehran area (which has about 8 million people) ... A decline in the TFR [total fertility rate] of more than 5.0 in roughly two decades is a world record in fertility decline. This is even more surprising to many observers when one considers that it happened in one of the most Islamic societies. It forces the analyst to reconsider many of the usual stereotypes about religious fertility differentials.
The census points to a continued fall in fertility, even from today's extremely low levels, the paper maintains.

Most remarkable is the collapse of rural fertility in tandem with urban fertility, the paper adds:
The similarity of the transition in both urban and rural areas is one the main features of the fertility transition in Iran. There was a considerable gap between the fertility in rural and urban areas, but the TFR in both rural and urban areas continued to decline by the mid-1990s, and the gap has narrowed substantially. In 1980, the TFR in rural areas was 8.4 while that of urban areas was 5.6. In other words, there was a gap of 2.8 children between rural and urban areas. In 2006, the TFR in rural and urban areas was 2.1 and 1.8, respectively (a difference of only 0.3 children).
What the professors hoped to demonstrate is that as rural literacy levels in Iran caught up with urban literacy levels, the corresponding urban and rural fertility rates also converged. That is a perfectly reasonable conjecture whose only flaw is that the data on which it is founded were faked by the Iranian regime.

The Iranian government's official data claim literacy percentage levels in the high 90s for urban women and in the high 80s for rural women. That cannot be true, for Iran's Literacy Movement Organization admitted last year (according to an Agence-France Presse report of May 8, 2008) that 9,450,000 Iranians are illiterate of a population of 71 million (or an adult population of about 52 million). This suggests far higher rates of illiteracy than in the official data.

A better explanation of Iran's population implosion is that the country has undergone an existential crisis comparable to encounters of Amazon or Inuit tribes with modernity. Traditional society demands submission to the collective. Once the external constraints are removed, its members can shift from the most extreme forms of modesty to the other extreme of sexual license. Khomeini's revolution attempted to retard the disintegration of Persian society, but it appears to have accelerated the process.

Modernity implies choice, and the efforts of the Iranian mullahs to prolong the strictures of traditional society appear to have backfired. The cause of Iran's collapsing fertility is not literacy as such, but extreme pessimism about the future and an endemic materialism that leads educated Iranian women to turn their own sexuality into a salable commodity.

Theocracy subjects religion to a political test; it is hard for Iranians to repudiate the regime and remain pious, for religious piety and support for political Islam are inseparable, as a recent academic study documented from survey data [3].

As in the decline of communism, what follows on the breakdown of a state ideology is likely to be nihilism. Iran is a dying country, and it is very difficult to have a rational dialogue with a nation all of whose available choices terminate in oblivion.

[1] Der Standard, Die Wahrheit hinter der islamischen Fassade
.

[2] Education and the World's Most Raid Fertility Decline in Iran
.

[3] Religiosity and Islamic Rule in Iran, by Gunes Murat Tezcur and Tagh Azadarmaki.

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25400  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson on: June 16, 2009, 07:47:14 AM
"It is the duty of every good citizen to use all the opportunities which occur to him, for preserving documents relating to the history of our country."

--Thomas Jefferson, letter to Hugh P. Taylor, October 4, 1823
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