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25851  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: March 28, 2011, 03:51:51 PM
see
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1973.0

cf
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1753.0
25852  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / McCain and Lieberman on: March 28, 2011, 11:19:01 AM
Is it true they are calling for NFZ's over Yemen and Syria?!?
25853  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury on the VIX on: March 28, 2011, 11:08:59 AM
The Shorts Get Whipsawed by the VIX To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 3/28/2011


The VIX – a (tradable) measure of equity price volatility – tends to spike when the US equity market falls. As a result, short-sellers (who see Black Swans everywhere) like it. It has also become a popular tool for equity investors who want buy some insurance on their long positions.

In early March, Japan’s triple whammy of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear troubles, along with ongoing political uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East caused the VIX to spike. Short-sellers were in heaven. They anticipated a significant correction, or maybe even the next leg down in what they still think is a secular bear market.
 
According to the Wall Street Journal (here), the VIX peaked at 31.28 on March 16 – well below the Mt. Everest-like highs of about 80 that we saw during the Panic of 2008 – but still the highest since mid-2010. Then it collapsed, falling 45% in seven trading days – its fastest seven-day swoon on record. It now stands near 18.
 
The shorts have been shellacked like this many times in the past two years. The reasons are simple to understand. The world is not about to come to an end. It is true that some parts of the economy, especially housing and employment, are lagging, but the rest of it is doing just fine, thank you.
 
And Friday’s numbers on corporate profits support the optimistic outlook. Overall profits hit a record high at the end of 2010, tracing out a perfect V-shaped recovery from the Panic of 2008 (see chart here). Profits were up at a 10% annualized rate in Q4 and up 18% from a year before.
 
We use a capitalized profits model to value stocks. We start by taking overall corporate profits and dividing them by the 10-year Treasury yield. Then we compare the result to the actual market in each quarter for the past 60 years and use it to find an average fair value for stocks today.
 
If we assume profits increase another 2% in Q1 and use a 10-year Treasury yield of 3.5%, the model gives us a fair value estimate for the Dow of 22,800. We think this is too high because we believe the Fed is holding interest rates artificially low. So, in our official model we use a 10-year T-note yield of 5%. This generates a “fair value” estimate of 16,000 on the Dow and 1715 for the S&P 500.
 
In other words, getting to fair value would require the US equity markets to rise 31% from Friday’s close. And that assumes no further gain in profits after Q1. We think these results are pretty robust. If we stress test for rising rates, the 10-year Treasury yield would need to rise to 6.5%, with no intervening increase in profits for the model to show equities are at fair value already.
 
We stand by the forecast we made at the start of the year that the Dow should hit 14,500 by year-end 2011, while the S&P 500 strikes 1575. In other words, short the shorts – equities are still cheap. And watch out for the VIX, too.



25854  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Train like a man!!! on: March 28, 2011, 11:07:54 AM
Not that I agree with every single point or example here, but a great rant nonetheless:

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/train_like_a_man?sms_ss=facebook&at_xt=4d8bbce17a57f7fc%2C0
Train Like a Man!
by Martin Rooney – 3/24/2011 

The Fall of T
America is becoming the poster-child for low testosterone levels. Men today are becoming increasingly more feminine, fussing about their eyebrows, spray tanning, and booking mani-pedis.

There are many potential explanations for the drop in testosterone and subsequent increase in American Idol voters. Skeptics will argue that it's simply our aging population that's to blame for our country's collective low T. Yet that fails to explain the feminine leanings of the younger guys. I believe their shockingly low T scores are due in large part to poor lifestyle choices.

Obesity, stress, prescription meds, staying up late, and poor food choices all affect T to varying degrees, but in a weird way, a low T lifestyle is almost glorified.

The 25 year-old guy with the muffin-top waistline due to the stressful job that keeps him up late is essentially what college prepares most "successful" people for. Follow that lifestyle too long and voila – self-induced castration, a gut you can't seem to lose, and an iPod chocked full of Kenny G.

But here's the kicker: castration has infiltrated and infected the one spot you might think immune to low T levels – the gym.


Castration in the Gym?
What do squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses, and dips have in common? Answer: They're all compound exercises that can be loaded to produce extreme amounts of testosterone-building tension.

Sadly, a lot of people answer: "They're all dangerous exercises that yogagirl127 posted on Facebook can hurt you and should be outlawed!"

Dangerous? To whom exactly? And what isn't "dangerous?"

Look, I'm not only a trainer, I'm also a physical therapist, and I respect the importance of proper biomechanics and injury prevention, but those basic exercises are not inherently dangerous.

Everything you do in the gym has some potential for injury, as do most things in life. Reading is bad for the eyes, door handles are caked with germs, and pesticides are sprayed on virtually every stitch of produce at the grocery store.

Are you going to stop reading, opening doors, and eating vegetables? Before we outlaw the overhead press, let's crack down on texting-while-driving and we'll really start making the world a safer place.

Safety in my training is paramount, but so is common sense – which isn't always common in the fitness industry. Over the last 20 years, I've watched bizarre trends in fitness information dictate the actual training that occurs inside the gym.

After the rise of the internet, articles written by any "expert" that could type had you in a full sweat-suit to stay warm during your dynamic warm-up and pre-habbed on the foam roller before you rehabbed with your corrective exercises.

In short, as information became more plentiful, more had to be written about the minutia. Once the minutia was deeply covered, the only thing left was to write about what everyone was doing wrong and the risks involved with just about every exercise.

Fact is, most stuff I see talked about today is about what we supposedly can't or shouldn't do. My goal is to remind us all that life is often better when you take the "t" off your can't.

This information overload leads us first on a quest for something safer, then moves us to something either more time consuming or boring, then moves us to skipping that new thing all together due to a lack of time or interest. Ultimately, we're unable to go back to the old exercise that worked and kept us stimulated because we're now convinced that it's bad for us!

Knowledge is power? No, knowledge is only power when we put action behind it. Today, I believe knowledge is often paralyzing.

Here are a few examples of "castrating" training trends and exercises.


Kettlebells vs. Dumbbells
 
Kettlebells are a great tool, but since the explosion of the kettlebell cults, dumbbells have taken a backseat in training. Funny, but no one ever takes a picture with a dumbbell, yet I see more shots every day of people carrying a kettlebell like it was his or her first-born.

I have nothing against kettlebells and use them in my training. I just wonder if the KB explosion would've ever happened without the internet? Kettlebell shirts, kettlebell necklaces...

Poor dumbbells, I'll miss them.


Bands vs. Chin-ups
 Chin-ups are one of the all-time great upper-body exercises (and I include the abdominal area in that too). But they're difficult to perform, which turns people off.

So some genius discovered that a band originally designed for stretching also works great to make chin-ups easier by removing all the testosterone-producing tension. Now you have rooms full of guys doing sissy chin-ups thinking they're Olympic gymnasts.

Dump the bands. Do your chin-ups. And hurry up, because even though they haven't been outlawed yet, I'm sure someone is already working on an article called "Why Chin-Ups Are Bad For You."


Glute-Ham Raise vs. 45-Degree Back Extension
Back extensions are a great exercise, especially when you hold as many plates as you can across your chest.

Too bad some "efficiency expert" discovered that by just having a glute-ham raise bench you didn't need a back extension or a lying leg curl machine because the GHR effectively trains both knee flexion and hip extension. So now, both the back extension and leg curl are falling into exercise obscurity.

Turns out the joke is on them. Glute-ham raises are difficult and about as comfortable as a muay thai kick to the quads, so no one does them. So now, no one does anything, except of course occasionally working the triceps while wiping the dust off the GHR.


Prowler Pushes vs. Suicides
 
I love the Prowler, but this idea that you need a special piece of equipment for conditioning is bunk.

Unfortunately, we've learned to value exercises either by their novelty or their ability to produce soreness or fatigue. I'm not sure there are many sports or activities that you need to prepare for by either passing out or puking in training, but hey, while we're lowering our testosterone levels, might as well find a way to crush our nervous and immune systems, too.

Want a really new exercise that no one is doing? It's called sprinting.

The biomechanics of sprinting is essential to our basic mobility, but it's also very much a "use it or lose it" skill. If you're 27 and haven't sprinted since high school, you need to get out to the field and start doing it. It's slowly leaving you, every day – and that means you're only racing faster toward the big dirt nap. (Maybe they should call being fat and sedentary a "suicide" instead?)

Notice I said "sprinting" not treadmill running, elliptical training, or texting your friend while you ride the recumbent bike. Each one of those pieces has castrated the thing we all need to make progress: impact. Oddly, biomechanists spend a whole lot of time trying to remove impact from our lives.


Lateral Raises vs. Shoulder Pressing
What's more functional than pushing something heavy overhead? I'm all for the YMCA dance and whatever else we do with ten-pound dumbbells to activate our lower trap, but there's nothing scary about a proper overhead press. It's a fantastic way to challenge significant musculature and load the spine.

Yeah, these can bother you if you have poor mobility, strength, or movement issues, but what wouldn't bother you in that case?


Pushdowns vs. Dips
 
Dips ruin the shoulders, right? That's why I see countless athletes in my facility with fantastic physiques complaining about shoulder problems from performing dips up to one hundred times per week.

Oh wait, that's right... I don't. And by the way, some of these athletes are girls I call "gymnasties" that often out-chin and out-dip the guys.

Pushdowns are great, but strap a 100-pound dumbbell around your waist and see if you can replicate the tension at the cable station.


Planks vs. Spinal Flexion
In the last few years, bending forward at the waist has been under siege. The firefight is all over the internet, and although I've adopted many anti-rotation, anti-flexion, and anti-everything else exercises to stimulate the core, I admit I still throw in some spinal flexion. Somehow I've still produced pretty solid results.

I will agree that a poorly performed sit-up isn't great for your back or neck, but you know what the absolute worst thing is for your back and neck? Sitting slumped over your desk surfing the internet for the latest plank variation.

Sit-ups aren't the biggest problem – it's sit-ting. Let's figure out how to stop people from doing that before we figure out any more things we shouldn't do.


Step-ups and Split Squats vs. Squats and Deadlifts
Step-ups and split squats are great exercises, but for building muscle they aren't in the same league as squats and deadlifts. Tension wise, they don't even come close. But because they're less "scary" than the big lifts, they're making a single-legged run at it.

Here's the irony: because they're unilateral, they also take twice as long to do, so people find them boring. So after a few weeks, nobody does anything. And then they sit in their chair and tell you to watch your back if you dare to deadlift?


Active Warm-Up vs. Static Stretching
Static stretching has been beaten down so hard it's barely breathing. Dynamic flexibility during an active warm-up is a wonderful thing and something I personally use daily, but static stretching definitely has its place in training.

Just about everybody has dropped static stretching in favor of dynamic movement, but here's the thing: dynamic flexibility during a warm-up is time consuming and sometimes complex, so many trainees simply skip it.

Now people are doing no flexibility training at all, and the result is they no longer have the mobility to squat or deadlift properly. So instead of performing some simple static stretches before performing the dynamic movements, we have immobile guys confined to doing planks on an Airex pad in the squat rack.

Stretch out, then warm-up, and then pick up something heavy!


80/20. Not 20/80.
Getting tension back into your workouts doesn't mean you have to kill yourself or get injured. It means scaling things back so that most of the time you spend in the gym is doing stuff that's actually productive.

The 80-20 rule never fails. If 80% of your time is spent straining under good old-fashioned barbells and dumbbells, with 20% spent doing pre-hab, rehab, and "potentiation work" then you'll probably look more fit and have a handful of calluses.

If that split is more like 20-80, then you likely have a problem that includes veggie hotdogs, waxing, and a dream to someday fit into those damn skinny jeans.




25855  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Did Newt Gingrich flip flop or is it a bum rap? on: March 28, 2011, 10:26:38 AM
Did Newt flip flop or is it a bum rap?  I'm guessing most of us have seen the footage of Newt calling for a NFZ and then saying he wouldn't have intervened.  Sure looks like a flip flop, but is it?

I watched Newt get interviewed by Chris Wallace last night.  CW is a quintessential Washington insider reporter (watch his clueless interview with Glenn Beck and you will see what I mean) and he is a very good one.  I thought his questioning of Newt last night to be aggressive yet fair, and respectful of Newt as a human being.

In addition to several direct questions on Newt's personal issues and foibles (which were gracefully and graciously introduced) CW went right after Newt to ask the flip flop question.

If I have it right, Newt said that once Obama called for ousting Kadaffy, then as a good bipartisan American putting politics aside at the water's edge he supported doing it whole-heartedly and not in some half-assed manner, but that he would not have made the call to take Kadaffy down.  This sounds reasoned to me, but he certainly is going to have one helluva time beating the flip flop rap on this one.
25856  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / LATimes (POTB) US Vulnerable to Cyber War on: March 28, 2011, 10:14:11 AM
The U.S. is vulnerable to a cyber attack, with its electrical grids, pipelines, chemical plants and other infrastructure designed without security in mind. Some say not enough is being done to protect the country.

Reporting from Washington—

When a large Southern California water system wanted to probe the vulnerabilities of its computer networks, it hired Los Angeles-based hacker Marc Maiffret to test them. His team seized control of the equipment that added chemical treatments to drinking water — in one day.

The weak link: County employees had been logging into the network through their home computers, leaving a gaping security hole. Officials of the urban water system told Maiffret that with a few mouse clicks, he could have rendered the water undrinkable for millions of homes.

"There's always a way in," said Maiffret, who declined to identify the water system for its own protection.

The weaknesses that he found in California exist in crucial facilities nationwide, U.S. officials and private experts say.

The same industrial control systems Maiffret's team was able to commandeer also run electrical grids, pipelines, chemical plants and other infrastructure. Those systems, many designed without security in mind, are vulnerable to cyber attacks that have the potential to blow up city blocks, erase bank data, crash planes and cut power to large sections of the country.

Terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda don't yet have the capability to mount such attacks, experts say, but potential adversaries such as China and Russia do, as do organized crime and hacker groups that could sell their services to rogue states or terrorists.

U.S. officials say China already has laced the U.S. power grid and other systems with hidden malware that could be activated to devastating effect.

"If a sector of the country's power grid were taken down, it's not only going to be damaging to our economy, but people are going to die," said Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), who has played a lead role on cyber security as a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Some experts suspect that the U.S. and its allies also have been busy developing offensive cyber capabilities. Last year, Stuxnet, a computer worm some believe was created by the U.S. or Israel, is thought to have damaged many of Iran's uranium centrifuges by causing them to spin at irregular speeds.

In the face of the growing threats, the Obama administration's response has received mixed reviews.

President Obama declared in a 2009 speech that protecting computer network infrastructure "will be a national security priority." But the follow-through has been scant.

Obama created the position of federal cyber-security "czar," and then took seven months to fill a job that lacks much real authority. Several cyber-security proposals are pending in Congress, but the administration hasn't said publicly what it supports.

"I give the administration high marks for doing some things, but clearly not enough," Langevin said.

The basic roadblocks are that the government lacks the authority to force industry to secure its networks and industry doesn't have the incentive to do so on its own.

Meanwhile, evidence mounts on the damage a cyber attack could inflict. In a 2006 U.S. government experiment, hackers were able to remotely destroy a 27-ton, $1-million electric generator similar to the kind commonly used on the nation's power grid. A video shows it spinning out of control until it shuts down.

In 2008, U.S. military officials discovered that classified networks at the U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, had been penetrated by a foreign intelligence service using malware spread through thumb drives.

That attack led to the creation in 2009 of U.S. Cyber Command, a group of 1,000 spies and hackers charged with preventing such intrusions. They also are responsible for mounting offensive cyber operations, about which the government will say next to nothing.

The head of Cyber Command, Gen. Keith Alexander, also leads the National Security Agency, the massive Ft. Meade, Md.-based spy agency in charge of listening to communications and penetrating foreign computer networks.

Together, the NSA and Cyber Command have the world's most advanced capabilities, analysts say, and could wreak havoc on the networks of any country that attacked the U.S. — if they could be sure who was responsible.

It's easy to hide the source of a cyber attack by sending the malware on circuitous routes through computers and servers in third countries. So deterrence of the sort relied upon to prevent nuclear war — the threat of massive retaliation — is not an effective strategy to prevent a cyber attack.

Asked in a recent interview whether the U.S. could win a cyber war, Alexander responded, "I believe that we would suffer tremendously if a cyber war were conducted today, as would our adversaries."

Alexander also is quick to point out that his cyber warriors and experts are legally authorized to protect only military networks. The Department of Homeland Security is charged with helping secure crucial civilian infrastructure, but in practice, the job mostly falls to the companies themselves.

That would've been akin to telling the head of U.S. Steel in the 1950s to develop his own air defenses against Soviet bombers, writes Richard Clarke, who was President George W. Bush's cyber-security advisor, in his 2010 book, "Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It."

The comparison underscores the extent to which the U.S. lacks the laws, strategies and policies needed to secure its cyber infrastructure, experts say.

"If we don't get our act together, the consequences could be dire," said Scott Borg, who heads the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit, which analyzes the potential damage from various scenarios.

The problem, though, is "there's nothing that everyone agrees on," said James Lewis, cyber-security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

For example, Lewis and other experts believe the government should mandate cyber-security standards for water systems, electric utilities and other crucial infrastructure. Some contend that major U.S. Internet service providers should be required to monitor patterns in Internet traffic and stop malware as it transits their servers.

But both ideas are viewed with suspicion by a technology industry that wants the government out of its business, and by an Internet culture that sees such moves as undermining privacy.

"There are a whole lot of things that can't be legislated," said Bob Dix, vice president of government affairs for Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Juniper Networks Inc., which makes routers and switches.

Yet Washington may be reaching a moment when the seriousness of the threat trumps political resistance. Sources familiar with the negotiations say the White House has promised Senate leaders that it will offer its own cyber-security legislation in a month. But any proposal that calls for far-reaching regulations would face an uphill battle.

CIA Director Leon E. Panetta told Congress recently that he worried about a cyber Pearl Harbor. Yet many who follow the issue believe that's what it will take to force Americans to awaken to the threat.

"The odds are we'll wait for a catastrophic event," said Mike McConnell, former director of National Intelligence and cyber-security specialist, "and then overreact."

25857  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Gurkhas and their Kukris on: March 27, 2011, 07:57:30 PM
So, what is the URL of The Times interview?
25858  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libya and on: March 27, 2011, 04:32:26 PM
AL-QAEDA'S offshoot in North Africa has snatched surface-to-air missiles from an arsenal in Libya during the civil strife there, Chad's President says. Idriss Deby Itno did not say how many surface-to-air missiles were stolen, but told the African weekly Jeune Afrique that he was "100 per cent sure" of his assertion.

"The Islamists of al-Qaeda took advantage of the pillaging of arsenals in the rebel zone to acquire arms, including surface-to-air missiles, which were then smuggled into their sanctuaries in Tenere," a desert region of the Sahara that stretches from northeast Niger to western Chad, Deby said in the interview.

"This is very serious. AQIM is becoming a genuine army, the best equipped in the region," he said.

His claim was echoed by officials in other countries in the region who said that they were worried that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) might have acquired "heavy weapons", thanks to the insurrection.

"We have sure information. We are very worried for the sub-region," a Malian security source who did not want to be named said.

AQIM originated as an armed Islamist resistance movement to the secular Algerian government.

It now operates mainly in Algeria, Mauritania, Mali and Niger, where it has attacked military targets and taken civilian hostages, particularly Europeans, some of whom it has killed.

"We have the same information," about heavy weapons, including SAM 7 missiles, a military source from Niger said.

"It is very worrying. This overarming is a real danger for the whole zone," he added  "AQIM gets the weapons in two ways; people go and look for the arms in Libya to deliver them to AQIM in the Sahel, or AQIM elements go there themselves."

Elsewhere in the interview, Chad's president backed the assertion by his neighbour and erstwhile enemy Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi that the protests in Libya have been driven in part by al-Qaeda.

"There is a partial truth in what he says," Deby said.

"Up to what point? I don't know. But I am certain that AQIM took an active part in the uprising."

After years of tension between the two nations, which were at war during part of the 1980s, Deby has more recently maintained good relations with Gaddafi.

The Chadian leader described the international military intervention in Libya, launched a week ago by the United States, France and Britain, as a "hasty decision".

"It could have heavy consequences for the stability of the region and the spread of terrorism in Europe, the Mediterranean and the rest of Africa," he cautioned.

Deby denied assertions that mercenaries had been recruited in Chad to fight for Gaddafi, though some of the several thousand Chad nationals in Libya may have joined the fight "on their own".

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/al-qaeda-snatched-missiles-in-libya/story-e6frfku0-1226028543204#ixzz1Hq0hlwXS
25859  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Syria on: March 27, 2011, 08:35:50 AM
By AHED AL HENDI
A few days ago, my friend Hussam Melhim, a Syrian blogger jailed for writing a poem criticizing Bashar al-Assad, was released after five years in prison. I too was jailed by Assad's regime. After 40 days of isolation and torture—punishment for my political activism—I was released in 2007.

Despite the fact that the regime has killed more than 100 protesters in the past few days, those of us who have fought for a democratic Syria have reason for optimism. Each day there are new demonstrations breaking out all over the country, even in small towns like Hajar Aswad. In the southern city of Daraa, the whole city is rebelling against the regime.

On Wednesday, Assad's special forces stormed Daraa. They honed in on the mosque where protesters had gathered—but only after the regime had cut electricity, Internet and land-lines, and banned reporters from entering the city.

I called a couple of friends based in Daraa, and I was able to hear the shooting and the voices of protesters screaming.

The call for these protests began on Facebook. The main organizers have chosen to remain anonymous—but one thing is clear: They are not Islamists. On the Facebook group Syrian Revolution Against Bashar al-Assad, which has 60,000 members so far, Fadi Edlbi posted the slogan "National unity, all for freedom, Muslims and Christians!" Another member, Shadi Deeb, wrote: "Not Sunni, not Allawite, all chant for freedom!"

The movement that began on computer screens has spread to the most unexpected places. On March 18, a friend who had gone to the main mosque in Damascus for Friday prayers said that when the imam finished his sermon someone in the crowd started chanting "Freedom, freedom!" As he chanted, he held up a paper with the sign of the cross and crescent as a symbol of unity. Within seconds, the hundreds of people gathered in the Umayyad Mosque began to chant along with him. Minutes later, the security forces stormed the mosque and started to beat the worshippers. These plain-clothed security forces added insult to injury by entering the mosque with their shoes on.

Protests that Friday weren't limited to Damascus. Syrians demonstrated in Homs City, Dair Al Zour, the coastal city of Banias, and Daraa. While in the other cities the demonstrations didn't last longer than an hour, in Daraa the protesters persist and the crowds remain large.

Why are those in Daraa so determined? There, Syrians watched as 15 children were arrested earlier this month simply for drawing graffiti on the wall of their school that said, "The people want to take down the regime." The kids that did this were in the fourth grade. They had no idea that this tiny act of rebellion would lead to their arrest by the secret services—from their classrooms.

On Wednesday, they were released after more than two weeks of being detained. My friend who saw them told me, "It's horrible. There were scars all over their bodies. And their nails were pulled from their hands."

Yesterday, in response to the most widespread demonstrations so far, the regime killed at least 20 people in Daraa, three in Damascus, and four in the coastal town of Latakia. Protesters all over the country shouted: "We sacrifice our souls and blood for you, Daraa." Everyone I speak to says protests will continue. I don't expect them to let up.

Mr. Al Hendi is the Arabic program coordinator for the U.S.-based human rights organization Cyberdissidents.org

25860  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Robert Gates Interview on: March 27, 2011, 08:31:03 AM
By BRET STEPHENS
ABOARD THE NATIONAL AIRBORNE OPERATIONS CENTER—Robert Gates is a compact and unassuming man, but a U.S. Secretary of Defense does not travel in compact or unassuming ways. The National Airborne Operations Center, a.k.a. the "doomsday plane," is a giant, windowless fortress of an aircraft built during the Cold War and designed to survive a nuclear war. In just five days the 67-year-old Secretary has flown it to St. Petersburg, Moscow, Cairo, Tel Aviv (with a stop in Ramallah) and Amman, and held parleys with two presidents, three prime ministers, three ministers of defense and a king.

By the time it's my turn to step into the plane's conference room, Mr. Gates, tieless and in blue jeans, looks bushed. He has just wrapped up a nearly two-hour phone call on Libya with President Obama and the National Security Council. NATO is about to assume primary responsibility for enforcing the no-fly zone. Benghazi has been saved by Western intervention but it's far from clear whether other besieged cities will have equal luck.

I begin by asking Mr. Gates the same question House Speaker John Boehner recently put to Mr. Obama: Is it acceptable for Moammar Gadhafi to remain in power after the military mission concludes?

"This mission was never about regime change," Mr. Gates says. "Certainly it was not one of the military objectives." He recites the mandate of U.N. Security Council resolutions—to establish a no-fly zone and protect civilians—and concludes: "I think we've come pretty close to accomplishing those objectives."

Does that mean "Mission Accomplished"? Even as we spoke, the besieged Libyan city of Misurata was without water and electricity and running low on food and medicine. Yet Mr. Gates is sanguine, though perhaps less about the outcome for Libya than for the U.S. The imposition of the no-fly zone, he says proudly, was "a textbook case."

He appears even more pleased by the benefits to the Pentagon of the transition to NATO control: "The resources that we're going to commit to it are, I think, almost certainly going to diminish," he says, describing a U.S. support role that includes "electronic warfare" and "tanking fighters [aerial refueling] from other countries."

But where does all this leave the Libyan people? Twice Mr. Gates stresses that "at the end of the day this needs to be settled by the Libyans themselves," adding that "I don't think we ever had illusions about the ability to reverse the gains [Gadhafi had made] on the ground, other than stopping him from doing more and stopping him from slaughtering civilians." But he also says that if Gadhafi "were to send a big column toward Benghazi there would be the authority to take it out." The suggestion here is that NATO will not do very much to help the rebels to win, but it will backstop them to keep them from losing.

View Full Image

Zina Saunders
 .It's hard to deny the virtues of this approach: It does not overcommit the West, either militarily or financially; it stems the bloodletting even if it doesn't halt it; and it asks the Libyans to win their own freedom. But it's equally difficult to deny its drawbacks, not the least of which is that the longer Gadhafi hangs on to power the longer the crisis will roil Western politics and consume Western resources.

Here again Mr. Gates seems fairly optimistic. "The idea that [Gadhafi] needs to go . . . goes without saying," he says. "But how long it takes, how it comes about, remains to be seen. Whether elements of the army decide to go to the other side, as some small elements have, whether the family cracks—who knows how this is going to play out."

He is less persuasive when he starts naming the various nonmilitary tools, such as economic sanctions and indictments from the International Criminal Court, that the West could use to bring further pressure on Gadhafi. Saddam Hussein survived a dozen years under sanctions and a no-fly zone, and Sudan's Omar Bashir has more or less laughed off the ICC indictments against him for genocide.

A larger consideration for Mr. Gates is how the crisis in Libya fits into American interests. "There are American national security interests and American vital interests where, in my view, we need to act decisively and if necessary act unilaterally," he says. "This is not one of them."

Then again, neither does Mr. Gates think that the crisis in Libya amounts to little more than a strictly humanitarian tragedy, on a par with, say, last year's earthquake in Haiti. "It is a concern of ours if more than a million Egyptians in Libya decide they have to immigrate home. It is a concern if civil war contributes to destabilization in either Tunisia or Egypt." Libya, he concludes, "is not a vital national interest of the United States. But it is an interest."

Mention of Egypt turns the interview to the subject of the broader changes taking place throughout the Middle East. Mr. Gates call them "tectonic . . . frozen for 60 years and now all of a sudden they're all moving." His counsel is to deal with countries as they are and situations as they come—"our reaction in Libya will be very different than our reaction in Tunisia or in Egypt or Bahrain"—but he also sees lessons.

"Maybe the Syrians can take a lesson out of what happened in Egypt, where the army stood aside and let the people demonstrate," he says when I ask what he makes of the growing domestic opposition to the regime of Bashar Assad. But as for whether he would favor regime change in Damascus, he strikes a more cautious note: "No, I'm not going to go that far."

Mr. Gates also rejects the view that the ultimate winner from the upheavals throughout the Middle East is Iran. He notes the "very stark" contrast between the "repression of any dissent, any protest, compared with what is going on in any number of other countries in the region." Over the longer term, he says, "this is a hugely negative message in terms of Iran and what Iran is trying to do."

Still, Mr. Gates awards the Biggest Loser trophy to al Qaeda, which he believes is "being rendered irrelevant, at least in a political sense." Al Qaeda's basic political pitch, and the source of its popular appeal, rests on the idea that the only way of replacing corrupt Muslim governments with better ones is through violence. Now, the examples of Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere "show that these are countries that are tolerating demonstrations." In that sort of atmosphere, Mr. Gates seems to think, the appeal of the bullet or bomb is bound to wane, while the appeal of the ballot box will grow.

More Gates optimism. Is it justified? Al Qaeda has never lacked for excuses, or recruits, to mount terrorist attacks, whether against despotisms or democracies. In Egypt, last week's referendum on a package of constitutional reforms that pave the way toward early parliamentary and presidential elections was a huge win for the Muslim Brotherhood, which stands to gain from going to the polls before its secular opponents can organize. The Iranian "political model" may be out of vogue on the Arab street, but that doesn't mean that all of Tehran's regional ventures—including support for Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon—are unsuccessful or unpopular.

As our interview nears its end, I turn to a speech Mr. Gates gave last month to the cadets at West Point. In widely quoted remarks, he said that "Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should 'have his head examined,' as Gen. MacArthur so delicately put it." I ask him whether that line should be taken to suggest that the United States should never have entered the wars it is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"To tell you the truth, I wish I hadn't even had that sentence in the speech," he confesses. "I should have taken it out because it was a distraction from the larger message in the speech, which was the importance of the flexibility of the American military to deal with a range of threats."

Mr. Gates clearly seems pained by the subject and eager to clear the record. "I'm the guy who not only increased the end strength of the Army and the Marine Corps, but pressed for the increase in the number of troops in Afghanistan. I totally believe in the mission that we're in in Afghanistan. And so, you know, I was really dismayed to see that what I had said was interpreted as questioning the mission in Afghanistan, because I absolutely do not. I totally believe in it."

Again, Mr. Gates circles back to his point: "I believe we have a winning strategy. So I am totally committed in that respect. And just to repeat, I was just really dismayed that what I said was misinterpreted that way."

Mr. Gates has made it clear that his tenure as secretary will end this year, and his trip last week—particularly in St. Petersburg, where he addressed naval officers and reminisced about the Cold War—had a wistful, valedictory quality. It seems appropriate to ask him to define his legacy.

"I have a feeling I'm going to get asked this question a lot," Mr. Gates says, laughing.

His answer comes in two parts. "When I took this job," he says, everybody—meaning journalists, politicians and so on—had said I would be judged on the outcome in Iraq, and I testified my agenda in this job is Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. And so I think that the partnership with [General] Dave Petraeus and having Iraq be the place it is—that'll be one of the principal evaluations that I think are made of my time in office."

Then he comes to the second part: "The thing that would mean the most to me when I leave this job is if those kids in uniform remember they had a secretary of defense who, from the first day, they knew had their back."


Mr. Stephens writes the Journal's Global View column.

25861  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A serious read: 12 Warning Signs of US Hyperinflation on: March 27, 2011, 08:11:55 AM


12 Warning Signs of U.S. Hyperinflation
 
One of the most frequently asked questions we receive at the National Inflation Association (NIA) is what warning signs will there be when hyperinflation is imminent. In our opinion, the majority of the warning signs that hyperinflation is imminent are already here today, but most Americans are failing to properly recognize them. NIA believes that there is a serious risk of hyperinflation breaking out as soon as the second half of this calendar year and that hyperinflation is almost guaranteed to occur by the end of this decade.
 
In our estimation, the most likely time frame for a full-fledged outbreak of hyperinflation is between the years 2013 and 2015. Americans who wait until 2013 to prepare, will most likely see the majority of their purchasing power wiped out. It is essential that all Americans begin preparing for hyperinflation immediately.
 
Here are NIA's top 12 warning signs that hyperinflation is about to occur:
 
1) The Federal Reserve is Buying 70% of U.S. Treasuries. The Federal Reserve has been buying 70% of all new U.S. treasury debt. Up until this year, the U.S. has been successful at exporting most of its inflation to the rest of the world, which is hoarding huge amounts of U.S. dollar reserves due to the U.S. dollar's status as the world's reserve currency. In recent months, foreign central bank purchases of U.S. treasuries have declined from 50% down to 30%, and Federal Reserve purchases have increased from 10% up to 70%. This means U.S. government deficit spending is now directly leading to U.S. inflation that will destroy the standard of living for all Americans.
 
2) The Private Sector Has Stopped Purchasing U.S. Treasuries. The U.S. private sector was previously a buyer of 30% of U.S. government bonds sold. Today, the U.S. private sector has stopped buying U.S. treasuries and is dumping government debt. The Pimco Total Return Fund was recently the single largest private sector owner of U.S. government bonds, but has just reduced its U.S. treasury holdings down to zero. Although during the financial panic of 2008, investors purchased government bonds as a safe haven, during all future panics we believe precious metals will be the new safe haven.
 
3) China Moving Away from U.S. Dollar as Reserve Currency. The U.S. dollar became the world's reserve currency because it was backed by gold and the U.S. had the world's largest manufacturing base. Today, the U.S. dollar is no longer backed by gold and China has the world's largest manufacturing base. There is no reason for the world to continue to transact products and commodities in U.S. dollars, when most of everything the world consumes is now produced in China. China has been taking steps to position the yuan to be the world's new reserve currency.
 
The People's Bank of China stated earlier this month, in a story that went largely unreported by the mainstream media, that it would respond to overseas demand for the yuan to be used as a reserve currency and allow the yuan to flow back into China more easily. China hopes to allow all exporters and importers to settle their cross border transactions in yuan by the end of 2011, as part of their plan to increase the yuan's international role. NIA believes if China really wants to become the world's next superpower and see to it that the U.S. simultaneously becomes the world's next Zimbabwe, all China needs to do is use their $1.15 trillion in U.S. dollar reserves to accumulate gold and use that gold to back the yuan.
 
4) Japan to Begin Dumping U.S. Treasuries. Japan is the second largest holder of U.S. treasury securities with $885.9 billion in U.S. dollar reserves. Although China has reduced their U.S. treasury holdings for three straight months, Japan has increased their U.S. treasury holdings seven months in a row. Japan is the country that has been the most consistent at buying our debt for the past year, but that is about the change. Japan is likely going to have to spend $300 billion over the next year to rebuild parts of their country that were destroyed by the recent earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, and NIA believes their U.S. dollar reserves will be the most likely source of this funding. This will come at the worst possible time for the U.S., which needs Japan to increase their purchases of U.S. treasuries in order to fund our record budget deficits.
 
5) The Fed Funds Rate Remains Near Zero. The Federal Reserve has held the Fed Funds Rate at 0.00-0.25% since December 16th, 2008, a period of over 27 months. This is unprecedented and NIA believes the world is now flooded with excess liquidity of U.S. dollars.
 
When the nuclear reactors in Japan began overheating two weeks ago after their cooling systems failed due to a lack of electricity, TEPCO was forced to open relief valves to release radioactive steam into the air in order to avoid an explosion. The U.S. stock market is currently acting as a relief valve for all of the excess liquidity of U.S. dollars. The U.S. economy for all intents and purposes should currently be in a massive and extremely steep recession, but because of the Fed's money printing, stock prices are rising because people don't know what else to do with their dollars.
 
NIA believes gold, and especially silver, are much better hedges against inflation than U.S. equities, which is why for the past couple of years we have been predicting large declines in both the Dow/Gold and Gold/Silver ratios. These two ratios have been in free fall exactly like NIA projected.
 
The Dow/Gold ratio is the single most important chart all investors need to closely follow, but way too few actually do. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) itself is meaningless because it averages together the dollar based movements of 30 U.S. stocks. With just the DJIA, it is impossible to determine whether stocks are rising due to improving fundamentals and real growing investor demand, or if prices are rising simply because the money supply is expanding.
 
The Dow/Gold ratio illustrates the cyclical nature of the battle between paper assets like stocks and real hard assets like gold. The Dow/Gold ratio trends upward when an economy sees real economic growth and begins to trend downward when the growth phase ends and everybody becomes concerned about preserving wealth. With interest rates at 0%, the U.S. economy is on life support and wealth preservation is the focus of most investors. NIA believes the Dow/Gold ratio will decline to 1 before the hyperinflationary crisis is over and until the Dow/Gold ratio does decline to 1, investors should keep buying precious metals.
 
6) Year-Over-Year CPI Growth Has Increased 92% in Three Months. In November of 2010, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS)'s consumer price index (CPI) grew by 1.1% over November of 2009. In February of 2011, the BLS's CPI grew by 2.11% over February of 2010, above the Fed's informal inflation target of 1.5% to 2%. An increase in year-over-year CPI growth from 1.1% in November of last year to 2.11% in February of this year means that the CPI's growth rate increased by approximately 92% over a period of just three months. Imagine if the year-over-year CPI growth rate continues to increase by 92% every three months. In 9 to 12 months from now we could be looking at a price inflation rate of over 15%. Even if the BLS manages to artificially hold the CPI down around 5% or 6%, NIA believes the real rate of price inflation will still rise into the double-digits within the next year.
 
7) Mainstream Media Denying Fed's Target Passed. You would think that year-over-year CPI growth rising from 1.1% to 2.11% over a period of three months for an increase of 92% would generate a lot of media attention, especially considering that it has now surpassed the Fed's informal inflation target of 1.5% to 2%. Instead of acknowledging that inflation is beginning to spiral out of control and encouraging Americans to prepare for hyperinflation like NIA has been doing for years, the media decided to conveniently change the way it defines the Fed's informal target.
 
The media is now claiming that the Fed's informal inflation target of 1.5% to 2% is based off of year-over-year changes in the BLS's core-CPI figures. Core-CPI, as most of you already know, is a meaningless number that excludes food and energy prices. Its sole purpose is to be used to mislead the public in situations like this. We guarantee that if core-CPI had just surpassed 2% and the normal CPI was still below 2%, the media would be focusing on the normal CPI number, claiming that it remains below the Fed's target and therefore inflation is low and not a problem.
 
The fact of the matter is, food and energy are the two most important things Americans need to live and survive. If the BLS was going to exclude something from the CPI, you would think they would exclude goods that Americans don't consume on a daily basis. The BLS claims food and energy prices are excluded because they are most volatile. However, by excluding food and energy, core-CPI numbers are primarily driven by rents. Considering that we just came out of the largest Real Estate bubble in world history, there is a glut of homes available to rent on the market. NIA has been saying for years that being a landlord will be the worst business to be in during hyperinflation, because it will be impossible for landlords to increase rents at the same rate as overall price inflation. Food and energy prices will always increase at a much faster rate than rents.
 
Cool Record U.S. Budget Deficit in February of $222.5 Billion. The U.S. government just reported a record budget deficit for the month of February of $222.5 billion. February's budget deficit was more than the entire fiscal year of 2007. In fact, February's deficit on an annualized basis was $2.67 trillion. NIA believes this is just a preview of future annual budget deficits, and we will see annual budget deficits surpass $2.67 trillion within the next several years.
 
9) High Budget Deficit as Percentage of Expenditures. The projected U.S. budget deficit for fiscal year 2011 of $1.645 trillion is 43% of total projected government expenditures in 2011 of $3.819 trillion. That is almost exactly the same level of Brazil's budget deficit as a percentage of expenditures right before they experienced hyperinflation in 1993 and it is higher than Bolivia's budget deficit as a percentage of expenditures right before they experienced hyperinflation in 1985. The only way a country can survive with such a large deficit as a percentage of expenditures and not have hyperinflation, is if foreigners are lending enough money to pay for the bulk of their deficit spending. Hyperinflation broke out in Brazil and Bolivia when foreigners stopped lending and central banks began monetizing the bulk of their deficit spending, and that is exactly what is taking place today in the U.S.
 
10) Obama Lies About Foreign Policy. President Obama campaigned as an anti-war President who would get our troops out of Iraq. NIA believes that many Libertarian voters actually voted for Obama in 2008 over John McCain because they felt Obama was more likely to end our wars that are adding greatly to our budget deficits and making the U.S. a lot less safe as a result. Obama may have reduced troop levels in Iraq, but he increased troops levels in Afghanistan, and is now sending troops into Libya for no reason.
 
The U.S. is now beginning to occupy Libya, when Libya didn't do anything to the U.S. and they are no threat to the U.S. Obama has increased our overall overseas troop levels since becoming President and the U.S. is now spending $1 trillion annually on military expenses, which includes the costs to maintain over 700 military bases in 135 countries around the world. There is no way that we can continue on with our overseas military presence without seeing hyperinflation.
 
11) Obama Changes Definition of Balanced Budget. In the White House's budget projections for the next 10 years, they don't project that the U.S. will ever come close to achieving a real balanced budget. In fact, after projecting declining budget deficits up until the year 2015 (NIA believes we are unlikely to see any major dip in our budget deficits due to rising interest payments on our national debt), the White House projects our budget deficits to begin increasing again up until the year 2021. Obama recently signed an executive order to create the "National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform", with a mission to "propose recommendations designed to balance the budget, excluding interest payments on the debt, by 2015". Obama is redefining a balanced budget to exclude interest payments on our national debt, because he knows interest payments are about to explode and it will be impossible to truly balance the budget.
 
12) U.S. Faces Largest Ever Interest Payment Increases. With U.S. inflation beginning to spiral out of control, NIA believes it is 100% guaranteed that we will soon see a large spike in long-term bond yields. Not only that, but within the next couple of years, NIA believes the Federal Reserve will be forced to raise the Fed Funds Rate in a last-ditch effort to prevent hyperinflation. When both short and long-term interest rates start to rise, so will the interest payments on our national debt. With the public portion of our national debt now exceeding $10 trillion, we could see interest payments on our debt reach $500 billion within the next year or two, and over $1 trillion somewhere around mid-decade. When interest payments reach $1 trillion, they will likely be around 30% to 40% of government tax receipts, up from interest payments being only 9% of tax receipts today. No country has ever seen interest payments on their debt reach 40% of tax receipts without hyperinflation occurring in the years to come.

25862  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What could go wrong? on: March 27, 2011, 07:33:52 AM

Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...eda-links.html



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In an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Mr al-Hasidi admitted that he had recruited "around 25" men from the Derna area in eastern Libya to fight against coalition troops in Iraq. Some of them, he said, are "today are on the front lines in Adjabiya".

Mr al-Hasidi insisted his fighters "are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists," but added that the "members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader".

His revelations came even as Idriss Deby Itno, Chad's president, said al-Qaeda had managed to pillage military arsenals in the Libyan rebel zone and acquired arms, "including surface-to-air missiles, which were then smuggled into their sanctuaries".

Mr al-Hasidi admitted he had earlier fought against "the foreign invasion" in Afghanistan, before being "captured in 2002 in Peshwar, in Pakistan". He was later handed over to the US, and then held in Libya before being released in 2008.

US and British government sources said Mr al-Hasidi was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, or LIFG, which killed dozens of Libyan troops in guerrilla attacks around Derna and Benghazi in 1995 and 1996.
Even though the LIFG is not part of the al-Qaeda organisation, the United States military's West Point academy has said the two share an "increasingly co-operative relationship". In 2007, documents captured by allied forces from the town of Sinjar, showed LIFG emmbers made up the second-largest cohort of foreign fighters in Iraq, after Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this month, al-Qaeda issued a call for supporters to back the Libyan rebellion, which it said would lead to the imposition of "the stage of Islam" in the country.

British Islamists have also backed the rebellion, with the former head of the banned al-Muhajiroun proclaiming that the call for "Islam, the Shariah and jihad from Libya" had "shaken the enemies of Islam and the Muslims more than the tsunami that Allah sent against their friends, the Japanese".
25863  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Zito: GOP Foolishly Ignores Recall Battle in Wisconsin on: March 27, 2011, 06:16:14 AM
For weeks the national media focused on union protests in Wisconsin.  Aging hippies trashed the state capital, union members were bused in from across the country in color-coded T-shirts, and Democratic state senators hid in an Illinois motel.

Each little drama was an organized response to Republican Governor Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill that negated labor’s influence with state employees. You could not turn to any cable or network newscast without seeing Walker, or see other states’ Republican governors and legislators copying him. Then, through a legislative maneuver, Walker outfoxed the Democrats and passed his budget bill.

The TV crews’ klieg lights went out. The political circus packed up. Our attention turned to Japan and Libya.

Perhaps we all looked away too quickly.

The story that no one talks about, that has the biggest impact on the 2012 election, is slowly brewing – with Republicans barely paying attention.  The two sides in Wisconsin did not drop their weapons. They just settled into high-stakes trench warfare.

Wisconsin has what can only be described as a screwy recall law; get enough signatures on a petition, and you can trigger new elections. (Why is this screwy?--Marc)  Democrats hope to use this law to undo the statehouse majority.

Recall elections possibly can begin as early as June for 16 Wisconsin senators who are being targeted – eight Republicans for their votes in favor of the law that ends most collective bargaining powers for public-employee unions, and eight Democrats for running and hiding in Illinois in what turned out to be a failed attempt to stop the GOP from voting on the measure.

When Republicans won big in 2010, Wisconsin was the best example of that midterm wave and the most significant warning to President Obama’s re-election campaign: Three-term U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., went down, and the GOP took the governor’s mansion, two more congressional seats, and state legislative majorities. All in a state that Al Gore, John Kerry and Barack Obama won as the Democrats’ presidential candidates.

While Wisconsin’s story fell off the front page, the left – fueled by unions, the Democratic Governors Association, and MoveOn.org – have begun a multimillion-dollar TV campaign to support the audacious recall effort.

The only Republican strategy- and money-machine that really seems to understand the potential effect is the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), headed by former national GOP chairman Ed Gillespie. The RSLC is so worried that it is making an unusual mid-cycle investment of money that it could have used in 2012.

Unions and the left are far outspending pro-business interests and the right on recall ads.

Democrats are wise to see more is at stake than a single state’s senate majority and a new political map that could unseat two freshmen Republican congressmen. They know this is the first battle of 2012 – their version of 2010’s surprise election of Scott Brown, R-Mass., who won a blue-state U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Democrat Ted Kennedy.

Republicans won in Massachusetts because conservatives around the country poured money into Brown's campaign; he raised a million bucks a day and couldn't spend it all.  His opponent, Democrat Margaret Coakley, was strapped and forced to beg money from Washington lobbyists in the last 10 days of the race, which Brown quickly used in a commercial against her.

Massachusetts Democrats got ambushed. Will Republicans let that happen to them in Wisconsin?

Make no mistake, this will have a chilling effect on every other state dealing with public-employee collective bargaining or pensions in the next two years – which is just about all of them.  If Walker and other governors cannot tame public pensions and union contracts, you will see tax hikes across the country enacted under freshmen GOP governors in the next few years. It is simple math.

If Republicans don't engage with real cash in Wisconsin, they could lose the state senate in advance of redistricting this summer, embolden unions, and scare hell out of Republicans in statehouses everywhere.

Walker may have won on policy – yet Republicans could face massive losses nationally if they don’t win those state recalls.

Just because the Democrats came back from Illinois doesn’t mean the left surrendered.
25864  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 26, 2011, 02:21:54 PM
Those comments would also fit in the Fascism thread btw, for this sort of nonsense is exactly what one gets with the Mussolini approach to economics.

Anyway, speaking of GE, also worth noting is that it has a rather hideous record of doing business with Iran involving technology that it might not be a good idea for the Iranians to have.  Sorry I don't have any citations on this, but someone with good google fu could find it I bet.
25865  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Review request on: March 26, 2011, 12:36:35 PM
Woof All:

I was just wandering through our Public Store/Catalog and noticed that we can use some more reviews on our DVDs and other products.   

So, if you have purchased from us please allow me to humbly request you submit review(s).

Thank you very much,
Crafty Dog
25866  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen. Kerry: The Case for on: March 26, 2011, 09:58:41 AM


By JOHN KERRY
The seas of people who thronged Cairo's Tahrir Square are gone now. But walking across its now-celebrated ground this week, I couldn't help but remember the inspiring scenes of Egyptians from all walks of life peacefully demanding freedom and dignity. The world watched in awe as the protesters and their young leaders changed the direction of a country and, together with Tunisians, perhaps the whole Arab world.

On Monday I shook hands with young Egyptians and listened to them speak of their hopes for their country. At a town-hall meeting I could sense some questioning whether the United States would really be there when it counted. I was proud that our answer came this week in Libya.

Everything I believe about the proper use of American force and the ability of the community of nations to speak with one voice was reaffirmed when the world refused to stand by and accept a bloody final chapter of the uprisings sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East. With a mandate from the Arab League and the Gulf states, the United Nations Security Council approved a limited military intervention to avoid a massacre. Multilateralism may be messy, but it's powerful when diplomacy pays off.

Make no mistake, neither the U.N. nor any nation should be drawn into military intervention lightly. But there were legitimate reasons for establishing a no-fly zone over Libya and forcing Gadhafi to keep his most potent weapons out of the fight. If you slice through the fog of misinformation and weigh the risks and benefits alongside our values and interests, the justification is clear and compelling.

What is happening in the Middle East could be the most important geostrategic shift since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Absent U.N./NATO resolve, the promise that the pro-democracy movement holds for transforming the Arab world could have been crushed.

Other dictators would have seen the world's failure to challenge Gadhafi as a license to act with impunity against their own people. The vast majority of the protesters in these countries are crying out for the opportunity to live a decent life, get a real job, and provide for a family. Abandoning them would have betrayed not only the people seeking democratic freedoms but the core values of the U.S. and other democratic nations. It would have reinforced the all-too-common misperception on the Arab street that America says one thing and does another.

View Full Image

AFP/Getty Images
 
A Libyan man takes part in a march in Benghazi to show support for the no-fly zone, March 23.
.We are already spending billions of dollars to fight increasing extremism in many parts of the world. We didn't choose this fight; it was forced on us, starting with 9/11. To fail to see the opportunity of affirming the courageous demand of millions of disenfranchised young people for jobs, respect and democracy would be ignorant, irresponsible and short-sighted. It would ignore our real national security interests and help extend the narrative of resentment toward the U.S. and much of the West that is rooted in colonialism and furthered by our own invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Remember, the pleas for help came not just from the Libyan rebels, but from the Arab League and the Gulf states. Silently accepting the deaths of Muslims, even at the hand of their own leader, could have set back relations for decades. Instead, by responding and giving the popular uprising a chance to take power, the U.S. and our allies sent a message of solidarity with the aspirations of people everywhere that will be remembered for generations. Rather than be forced to debate "who lost Libya?" the free world is poised to say "remember Tripoli" every time demagogues question our motives.

The particular nature of the mad man who was vowing to "show no mercy" to the "dogs" who dared challenge his rule demanded that his threats be taken seriously. Gadhafi is after all the man behind the bombing of Pan Am 103, which claimed the lives of 189 Americans.

The military intervention in Libya sends a critical signal to other leaders in the region: They cannot automatically assume they can resort to large-scale violence to put down legitimate demands for reform without consequences. U.N. resolve in Libya can have an impact on future calculations. Indeed, the leaders of Iran should pay close attention to the resolve exhibited by the international community.

Every potential conflict is unique, and there is no simple formula for when to weigh in with force. It is fair to ask, why Libya and not other humanitarian situations? The truth is that we must weigh our ideals, our interests and our capabilities in each case when deciding where to become involved.

We must not get involved in another lengthy conflict in a Muslim country. With French and British willingness to lead, we do not need to take on the primary ownership of this conflict—and the Obama administration has made clear we will not. (With the burden we are already carrying in Afghanistan and across the globe, no one can legitimately doubt America's sacrifice.) So the risks are manageable and, in my view, the rewards are potentially enormous.

The military intervention was not directly intended to force Gadhafi from power, but the international community will remain united in maintaining diplomatic and economic pressure on a thug who has lost any legitimacy he ever possessed. There are many options and tools available to us to achieve our ultimate desire of seeing Gadhafi go. While it is impolitic perhaps to suggest it, I'd underscore that destroying his Soviet-era military capacity has been the biggest step towards that goal.

By supporting the Libyan opposition and keeping alive the hopes of reformers across the Arab world, we can counter the violent extremism of al Qaeda and like-minded groups, encourage a new generation of Arab youth to pursue democracy, and transform the way the U.S. is perceived by Muslims world-wide. This is a moment where we are able to advance our values and protect our interests at the same time.

The Arab awakening began in Tunisia and flowered in Egypt. Saving lives in Libya is the least we can do to give those dreams the opportunity to flourish and change the history of the entire region—as well as our relationship with its people.

Mr. Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts, is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

25867  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Peggy Noonan: The Speech Obama hasn't given on: March 26, 2011, 09:48:13 AM
It all seems rather mad, doesn't it? The decision to become involved militarily in the Libyan civil war couldn't take place within a less hospitable context. The U.S. is reeling from spending and deficits, we're already in two wars, our military has been stretched to the limit, we're restive at home, and no one, really, sees President Obama as the kind of leader you'd follow over the top. "This way, men!" "No, I think I'll stay in my trench." People didn't hire him to start battles but to end them. They didn't expect him to open new fronts. Did he not know this?

He has no happy experience as a rallier of public opinion and a leader of great endeavors; the central initiative of his presidency, the one that gave shape to his leadership, health care, is still unpopular and the cause of continued agitation. When he devoted his entire first year to it, he seemed off point and out of touch.

This was followed by the BP oil spill, which made him look snakebit. Now he seems incompetent and out of his depth in foreign and military affairs. He is more observed than followed, or perhaps I should say you follow him with your eyes and not your heart. So it's funny he'd feel free to launch and lead a war, which is what this confused and uncertain military action may become.

What was he thinking? What is he thinking?

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Barbara Kelley
 .Which gets me to Mr. Obama's speech, the one he hasn't given. I cannot for the life of me see how an American president can launch a serious military action without a full and formal national address in which he explains to the American people why he is doing what he is doing, why it is right, and why it is very much in the national interest. He referred to his aims in parts of speeches and appearances when he was in South America, but now he's home. More is needed, more is warranted, and more is deserved. He has to sit at that big desk and explain his thinking, put forward the facts as he sees them, and try to garner public support. He has to make a case for his own actions. It's what presidents do! And this is particularly important now, because there are reasons to fear the current involvement will either escalate and produce a lengthy conflict or collapse and produce humiliation.

Without a formal and extended statement, the air of weirdness, uncertainty and confusion that surrounds this endeavor will only deepen.

The questions that must be answered actually start with the essentials. What, exactly, are we doing? Why are we doing it? At what point, or after what arguments, did the president decide U.S. military involvement was warranted? Is our objective practical and doable? What is America's overriding strategic interest? In what way are the actions taken, and to be taken, seeing to those interests?

 Matthew Kaminski of the editorial board explains America's role in the Libyan campaign.
.From those questions flow many others. We know who we're against—Moammar Gadhafi, a bad man who's done very wicked things. But do we know who we're for? That is, what does the U.S. government know or think it knows about the composition and motives of the rebel forces we're attempting to assist? For 42 years, Gadhafi controlled his nation's tribes, sects and groups through brute force, bribes and blandishments. What will happen when they are no longer kept down? What will happen when they are no longer oppressed? What will they become, and what role will they play in the coming drama? Will their rebellion against Gadhafi degenerate into a dozen separate battles over oil, power and local dominance?

What happens if Gadhafi hangs on? The president has said he wants U.S. involvement to be brief. But what if Gadhafi is fighting on three months from now?

On the other hand, what happens if Gadhafi falls, if he's deposed in a palace coup or military coup, or is killed, or flees? What exactly do we imagine will take his place?

Supporters of U.S. intervention have argued that if we mean to protect Libya's civilians, as we have declared, then we must force regime change. But in order to remove Gadhafi, they add, we will need to do many other things. We will need to provide close-in air power. We will probably have to put in special forces teams to work with the rebels, who are largely untrained and ragtag. The Libyan army has tanks and brigades and heavy weapons. The U.S. and the allies will have to provide the rebels training and give them support. They will need antitank missiles and help in coordinating air strikes.


Once Gadhafi is gone, will there be a need for an international peacekeeping force to stabilize the country, to provide a peaceful transition, and to help the post-Gadhafi government restore its infrastructure? Will there be a partition? Will Libyan territory be altered?

None of this sounds like limited and discrete action.

In fact, this may turn out to be true: If Gadhafi survives, the crisis will go on and on. If Gadhafi falls, the crisis will go on and on.

Everyone who supports the Libyan endeavor says they don't want an occupation. One said the other day, "We're not looking for a protracted occupation."

Protracted?

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.Mr. Obama has apparently set great store in the fact that he was not acting alone, that Britain, France and Italy were eager to move. That's good—better to work with friends and act in concert. But it doesn't guarantee anything. A multilateral mistake is still a mistake. So far the allied effort has not been marked by good coordination and communication. If the conflict in Libya drags on, won't there tend to be more fissures, more tension, less commitment and more confusion as to objectives and command structures? Could the unanticipated results of the Libya action include new strains, even a new estrangement, among the allies?

How might Gadhafi hit out, in revenge, in his presumed last days, against America and the West?

And what, finally, about Congress? Putting aside the past half-century's argument about declarations of war, doesn't Congress, as representative of the people, have the obvious authority and responsibility to support the Libyan endeavor, or not, and to authorize funds, or not?

These are all big questions, and there are many other obvious ones. If the Libya endeavor is motivated solely by humanitarian concerns, then why haven't we acted on those concerns recently in other suffering nations? It's a rough old world out there, and there's a lot of suffering. What is our thinking going forward? What are the new rules of the road, if there are new rules? Were we, in Libya, making a preemptive strike against extraordinary suffering—suffering beyond what is inevitable in a civil war?

America has been through a difficult 10 years, and the burden of proof on the need for U.S. action would be with those who supported intervention. Chief among them, of course, is the president, who made the decision as commander in chief. He needs to sit down and tell the American people how this thing can possibly turn out well. He needs to tell them why it isn't mad.

25868  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Civil War death numbers on: March 26, 2011, 09:38:17 AM


By CAMERON MCWHIRTER
RALEIGH, N.C.—Josh Howard is playing with fire here in the heart of the old Confederacy, with a scholarly finding that could rewrite the history of the Civil War.

For more than a century, North Carolina has proudly claimed that it lost more soldiers than any other Southern state in the nation's bloodiest conflict. But after meticulously combing through military, hospital and cemetery records, the historian is finding the truth isn't so clear-cut.

Official military records compiled in 1866 counted 40,275 North Carolina soldiers who died in uniform. Though known to be faulty, those records have gone largely unchallenged. With most of his research done, Mr. Howard has confirmed only about 31,000 deaths. "It's a number we can defend with real documents," he says. He expects to confirm a few thousand more by the time he finishes this summer, but the final tally will most certainly fall short of the original count, he says.

Across the state border in Virginia, traditionally believed to have the fourth-highest number of war deaths in the Confederacy, librarian Edwin Ray has identified about 31,000 Virginia soldiers who died in the war—more than double the Old Dominion's once-accepted number of 14,794. And he still has more to add.

"It's going to be close," says Mr. Ray, a 55-year-old Air Force veteran who works at the Library of Virginia. "Josh and I are sure of that. It's going to come down to a very small number."

With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War beginning in mid-April, that small number could spark a big controversy between two states with rivalries that date back to the great conflict. Some Civil War buffs in North Carolina have already accused Mr. Howard of attempting to diminish the state's heroism and the hardship it suffered. "Records were a whole lot fresher 150 years ago," says Thomas Smith Jr., commander of the North Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans, who is suspicious of Mr. Howard's new count.

"I don't care if Virginia has two people more who died, or a hundred more," says Michael Chapman, a 55-year-old videographer from Polkton, N.C., who used to head up the local Sons of Confederate Veterans camp. He calls the recounts "irrelevant."

The research by Messrs. Howard and Ray has the potential to rewrite part of the history of the war that redefined America.

History books maintain that about 620,000 soldiers died in the war, when giant armies clashed in battles on a scale never seen before or since on the North American continent. Yet the 1866 counts, compiled by the federal government, were based on scattered and inconsistent Union and Confederate records.
The war was a chaotic affair, with armies that grew large and quickly, and rudimentary bureaucracies that were incapable of tallying the losses. Neither side had any reliable way to accurately record the overwhelming numbers of war deaths. Soldiers didn't wear dog tags for identification, as they do today. Record-keeping fell apart as the war progressed, especially in the South, say historians.

The new counts aren't likely to unseat the Civil War as this nation's most devastating conflict. The second-highest toll of American military losses came in World War II, with more than 405,000 deaths, according to a congressional research report. Still, historians say, the overall Civil War death toll could change by tens of thousands if every state were to conduct a count. It could also revise historians' understanding of which states suffered the heaviest losses.

To opponents of recounts, that's a slippery slope. "Some have had a mindset that you are just trying to downplay all that is Confederate," says Keith Hardison, co-chair of North Carolina's Civil War 150th anniversary committee, which ordered Mr. Howard's study. When the recount was announced, Mr. Howard received angry emails, letters and calls. "One hundred and fifty years later, there are people on both sides of the aisle who have made up their mind and don't want to be confused by the facts," Mr. Hardison says.

Others say getting an accurate number might be a lost cause. Harvard University president and Civil War scholar Drew Gilpin Faust commends "the impetus to count" as an act of paying homage to the fallen. But records were so poorly kept at the time and afterward that no one will ever really know how many people actually died, she says.
Messrs. Howard, Ray and other supporters of recounting say the digitization of service records, the creation of searchable databases and other technological innovations make it much easier—and enticing—for historians to produce more accurate counts. The two researchers are using electronic records, but also traditional sources like archives, diaries, church records and newspaper accounts, to figure out more precisely who died where, how and on which side.

Neither Mr. Howard nor Mr. Ray wants to start a war between the states. "I'm not interested in fighting it out over who lost the most," says Mr. Howard, a 31-year-old North Carolinian. "I'm interested in getting it as accurate as possible."

Still, the two men know they're stirring up trouble. "When you research the Civil War, you are going to have backlash, no matter what," Mr. Howard says.

Indeed, the new numbers add fuel to a long-simmering rivalry between Virginia, which was home to the Confederacy's capital in Richmond, and North Carolina, which claimed more losses for the Southern cause.

The two states often jousted over which units had fought harder, and the arguing continued after the war was over, says John Coski, chief historian for the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond. He remembers arguing with boys at camp in the 1970s about which state lost more soldiers.


 "It was just like sports teams today," says Henry Kidd, 60, a re-enactor from Colonial Heights, Va., who has ancestors who fought from both states.

In Virginia, troops often saw themselves as the Confederacy's crack fighters because they were led by its best strategists, including Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. In numerous publications and speeches during the war and after, North Carolinians prided themselves on fighting the hardest. For generations, North Carolinians claimed their soldiers were among the first to fight, got the farthest on the battlefield at Gettysburg, and were the last to fight near Appomattox Court House, where Gen. Lee's army surrendered.

John C. Inscoe, a history professor at the University of Georgia and an expert on the Civil War in North Carolina, says Tar Heels may have had a political motive in amplifying their numbers. The state had an inferiority complex after the war, because its units were known for high desertion rates, he says.

Not so, says Greg Mast, a 62-year-old re-enactor and retired postal worker from Timberlake, N.C. Mr. Mast says he has researched desertion among various units to explore that claim, and found Tar Heel rates weren't any higher than those of other units. "The more you study the war, the less true the received wisdom about the war seems to be," he says.

Mr. Howard says North Carolina troops did desert in large numbers toward the end of the war, but he says it made sense, since many soldiers wanted to get back to their families when they heard that Union forces under Gen. William T. Sherman had entered their state.

North Carolina and Virginia are the only two Southern states currently conducting official recounts. But a devoted handful of amateurs are doing their own counts. Bing Chambers, a 63-year-old retiree and amateur historian from Columbia, S.C., has spent at least 17 years researching his state's war dead. He thinks his new research will raise his state's toll to about 22,000 from an earlier estimate of 17,682. He has long wondered about North Carolina's claim. "Frankly, 40,000 always seemed like a lot," he says, adding that his research has proved a longstanding Palmetto State claim that not one white South Carolinian fought for the federal government during the war.

Civil War death tolls from more populous Northern states still surpass Southern losses, as the North fielded a larger army that suffered staggering casualties in a grueling war of attrition. New York reported the most deaths of any state—46,534, according to the 1866 federal report.
But in the South, the 1866 report established an interstate hierarchy of loss. North Carolina's death toll overwhelmed all other Confederate states; South Carolina trailed as a distant second. Mississippi was third with 15,265, and Virginia fourth.

The war generally doesn't evoke the same public interest in the North, Midwest and the West as it does in the defeated South, where most of the battles were fought and the land was devastated. For generations, whites in the region also migrated less frequently than those in the North—where immigrants with no ties to the Civil War flooded industrialized cities—so more people retained a family connection to those who fought.

Mr. Howard, whose expertise is the American Revolution, had no intention of working on the Civil War when he joined the North Carolina Office of Archives & History in 2007. But when his boss went looking for someone to gather data for a book commemorating the 150th anniversary, Mr. Howard's experience with military records made him an obvious choice.

In an office amid a warren of cubicles, Mr. Howard has spent most days since last June poring over thousands of records. He checks military documents, hospital files, prisoner-of-war camp records, postwar pension applications, court martial proceedings, battle reports and other material to try to determine whether each soldier who served from North Carolina died in combat, or by execution or from disease, which count as a war-related death.

He often starts with a name off a muster roll—a monthly record kept by army clerks to figure out soldiers' pay—and tries to track what happened to each soldier. If it isn't immediately clear, he searches further, looking at census data, pension records, diaries, cemetery records, hospital records and other material.

Mr. Howard, his tie loosened, sat slumped at his desk in front of his computer on a recent day. An image of a Confederate hospital record was illuminated on the screen. He looked for a notation clarifying whether the patient was discharged or died. The soldier was discharged, but it wasn't clear from these records what happened to him, whether he went back into combat or left the army.


The work sometimes leads down fascinating paths that illuminate the war in ways he never expected. He found one man who fought for the Confederacy, was taken prisoner and then joined the Union army and commanded black troops. There were men taken prisoner who never returned to North Carolina. Their wives assumed they were dead, but census records showed they took up new families in other states. He found Confederate prisoners of war who agreed to fight Native Americans out West in exchange for being released.

Many cases are straightforward. If Mr. Howard finds a report that marks an individual "killed in action" at a particular battle, or one that shows a soldier died in a hospital or prison, he adds it to his list of men who died in uniform.

Many died in battle. Others died of illnesses like chronic diarrhea or typhoid. A few died from spider bites. One was shot by a fellow soldier after allegedly being mistaken for a bear. But for thousands of other soldiers, Mr. Howard can find no way to tell when, where or how they died. Many disappear along the paper trail.

Confederate Private Solomon Willis, Company F, 55th, North Carolina Infantry, enlisted at age 32 in 1862, and was captured by federal forces in April 1865, according to records Mr. Howard found. A report shows that Mr. Willis, in good health, was released from prison in June of that year. But Mr. Howard couldn't find a record showing that the soldier returned to his wife in North Carolina. She filed for a state veteran's pension in 1901, claiming Mr. Willis was killed in action. Without proof of death, Mr. Howard couldn't put Mr. Willis on his list.

Mr. Ray, a research librarian at the state Library of Virginia, started looking at Virginia military deaths from colonial times to the present about nine years ago. The result of his effort is an online database. The Civil War remains the largest and most difficult part of his database because of its size and the poor records, he says, and he expects a more complete tally will take several more years.

His database lists 27,520 Civil War military deaths from Virginia. But he has yet to check all of his records against National Archives data and census records. He has found roughly another 4,000 Union deaths from West Virginia, which was part of Virginia until 1863, and expects to find more war dead from cemetery records and county histories.

While Mr. Ray plays down the rivalry with North Carolina, he is confident Virginia eventually will be declared the leader in war deaths within the Confederacy. "The odds are, when we look at it it's going to make sense that Virginia would have the larger numbers," he says.

Responds Mr. Howard: "We'll see when we're done."
25869  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Dilema on: March 26, 2011, 09:00:10 AM
The Israeli Dilemma

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates met with his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Barak, Thursday. There was no shortage of issues for the defense officials to discuss amid what appears to be an impending Israeli military operation in Gaza; gradually building unrest in Syria; and the fear of an Iranian destabilization campaign spreading from the Persian Gulf to the Levant. Any of these threats developing in isolation would be relatively manageable from the Israeli point of view, but when taken together, they remind Israel that the past 32 years of relative quietude in Israel’s Arab backyard is anything but the norm.

Israel is a small country, demographically outnumbered by its neighbors and thus unable to field an army large enough to sustain long, high-intensity conflicts on multiple fronts. Israeli national security therefore revolves around a core, strategic need to sufficiently neutralize and divide its Arab neighbors so that a 1948, 1967 and 1973 scenario can be avoided at all costs. After 1978, Israel had not resolved, but had greatly alleviated its existential crisis. A peace agreement with Egypt, ensured by a Sinai desert buffer, largely secured the Negev and the southern coastal approaches to Tel Aviv. The formalization in 1994 of a peace pact with Jordan secured Israel’s longest border along the Jordan River. Though Syria remained a threat, by itself it could not seriously threaten Israel and was more concerned with affirming its influence in Lebanon anyway. Conflicts remain with the Palestinians and with Hezbollah in Lebanon along the northern front, but these do not constitute a threat to Israeli survival.

The natural Israeli condition is one of unease, but the past three decades were arguably the most secure in modern Israeli history. That sense of security is now being threatened on multiple fronts.

To its west, Israel risks being drawn into another military campaign in the Gaza Strip. A steady rise in rocket attacks penetrating deep into the Israeli interior over the past week is not something the Israeli leadership can ignore, especially when there exists heavy suspicion that the rocket attacks are being conducted in coordination with other acts of violence against Israeli targets: the murder of five members of an Israeli family in a West Bank settlement less than two weeks ago, and the Wednesday bombing at a bus station in downtown Jerusalem. Further military action will likely be taken, with the full knowledge that it will invite widespread condemnation from much of the international community, especially the Muslim world.

“The natural Israeli condition is one of unease, but the past three decades were arguably the most secure in modern Israeli history. That sense of security is now being threatened on multiple fronts.”
The last time Israel Defense Forces went to war with Palestinian militants, in late 2008/early 2009, the threat to Israel was largely confined to the Gaza Strip, and while Operation Cast Lead certainly was not well received in the Arab world, it never threatened to cause a fundamental rupture in the system of alliances with Arab states that has provided Israel with its overall sense of security for the past three decades. This time, a military confrontation in Gaza would have the potential to jeopardize Israel’s vital alliance with Egypt. Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and others are watching Egypt’s military manage a shaky political transition next door. The military men running the government in Cairo are the same men who think that maintaining the peace with Israel and keeping groups like Hamas contained is a smart policy, and one that should be continued in the post-Mubarak era. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, part of an Islamist movement that gave rise to Hamas, may have different ideas about the treaty; it has even indicated as much during the political protests in Egypt. An Israeli military campaign in Gaza under the current conditions would be fodder for the Muslim Brotherhood to rally the Egyptian electorate (both its supporters and people who may otherwise vote for a secular party) and potentially undermine the credibility of the military-led regime. With enough pressure, the Islamists in Egypt and Gaza could shift Cairo’s strategic posture toward Israel. This scenario is not an assured outcome, but it is likely to be on the minds of those orchestrating the current offensive against Israel from the Palestinian territories.

To the north, in Syria, the minority Alawite-Baathist regime is struggling to clamp down on protests in the southwest city of Deraa near the Jordanian border. As Syrian security forces fired on protesters who had gathered in and around the city’s main mosque, Syrian President Bashar al Assad, like many of his beleaguered Arab counterparts, made promises to order a ban on the use of live rounds against demonstrators, consider ending a 48-year state of emergency, open the political system, lift media restrictions and raise living standards – all promises that were promptly rejected by the country’s developing opposition. The protests in Syria have not reached critical mass due to the relative effectiveness of Syrian security forces in snuffing out demonstrations in the key cities of Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Hama. Moreover, it remains to be seen if the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, which led a violent uprising beginning in 1976 aiming to restore power to the Sunni majority, will overcome its fears and join the demonstrations in full force. The 1982 Hama crackdown, in which some 17,000 to 40,000 people were killed, forced what was left of the Muslim Brotherhood underground and is still fresh in the minds of many.

Though Israel is not particularly keen on the al Assad regime, the virtue of the al Assads, from the Israeli point of view, is their predictability. A Syria more concerned with wealth and exerting influence in Lebanon than provoking military engagements to its south, is far more preferable than the fear of what may follow. Like in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood branch in Syria remains the single largest and most organized opposition in the country, even though it has been severely weakened since the massacre at Hama.

To the east, Jordan’s Hashemite monarchy has a far better handle on its political opposition (the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Jordan is often referred to as the “loyal opposition” by many observers in the region,) but protests continue to simmer there and the Hashemite dynasty remains in fear of being overrun by the country’s Palestinian majority. Israeli military action in Gaza could also be used by the Jordanian MB to galvanize protesters already prepared to take to the streets.

Completing the picture is Iran. The wave of protests lapping at Arab regimes across the region has created an historic opportunity for Iran to destabilize its rivals and threaten both Israeli and U.S. national security in one fell swoop. Iranian influence has its limits, but a groundswell of Shiite discontent in eastern Arabia along with an Israeli war on Palestinians that highlights the duplicity of Arab foreign policy toward Israel, provides Iran with the leverage it has been seeking to reshape the political landscape. Remaining quiet thus far is Iran’s primary militant proxy, Hezbollah, in Lebanon. As Israel mobilizes its forces in preparation for another round of fighting with Palestinian militants, it cannot discount the possibility that Hezbollah and its patrons in Iran are biding their time to open a second front to threaten Israel’s northern frontier. It has been some time since a crisis of this magnitude has built on Israel’s borders, but this is not a country unaccustomed to worst case scenarios.

25870  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing Crisis Explained and Questions Answered on: March 25, 2011, 08:52:08 PM
Amen Reverend/Rabbi? Pat!
25871  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: March 25, 2011, 08:44:28 PM
Even though that would be better in the Libya thread, that was simply OUTSTANDING!!!
25872  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Richard Young Investment newsletter on: March 25, 2011, 08:36:56 PM
Equity Bull or Currency Bear?
March 25, 2011 by Jeremy Jones      Is it an equity bull market or a currency bear market? In U.S. dollars, the S&P 500 is up an impressive 25% since August 31, 2010, but in terms of Swiss francs and gold, the S&P 500 is up only 12% and 9% respectively. Over half of the stock market rally since August can be attributed to dollar debasement.

25873  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: March 25, 2011, 07:15:25 PM
Hell, look at the President's passionate statements of support today for the brave people standing up to Hassad.  "Hassad must go!" President Baraq Hussein Obama said.
25874  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: March 25, 2011, 07:09:46 PM
Where else would today be?  cheesy
25875  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / 400 rounds, 17 grenades, & a machine gun tripod on: March 25, 2011, 04:01:00 PM
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/400-rounds-17-grenades-30-enemies-soldier-single-handedly-beats-back-taliban-barrage/
25876  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Reagan and Grenada on: March 25, 2011, 02:31:53 PM
Hat tip to GM for this one:

A congressional study group concluded, after a three-day trip to Grenada, that Reagan's move had been justified. The 14 members of Congress, headed by Democrat Thomas Foley of Washington State, reported to House Speaker Tip O'Neill that most of them felt that the students had been possible targets for a Tehran-type taking of hostages. This caused O'Neill, who had denounced Reagan's decision, to reverse himself. Noting that "a potentially life-threatening situation existed on the island," the Speaker said that the invasion "was justified under these particular circumstances."


Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,926318-2,00.html

25877  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: March 25, 2011, 01:46:19 PM
JDN: I doubt if this comes as a surprise to anyone.

GM Would it surprise someone who has asserted that the jihad against Israel would stop if the "palestinians" were just treated better?

MARC:  This seems to me a well pin-pointed question.

25878  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post: Limbo in Libya on: March 25, 2011, 10:31:14 AM
"f we are to be told by a foreign Power ... what we shall do, and what we shall not do, we have Independence yet to seek, and have contended hitherto for very little." --George Washington


Consistent with his socialist, we-are-all-one agenda, Barack Obama used a non-unanimous 10-vote nod from the United Nations Security Council to justify commencing hostilities against Libya, bypassing Congress, the Constitution, the will of the American public and a couple hundred years' worth of precedents. Since none of these have mattered in the past, why should they now? After all, in the mind of Obama -- or "Our Son, His Excellency" as his erstwhile pal Moammar Gadhafi called him recently -- UN authority supersedes U.S. constitutional authority and sovereignty.

To be sure, a long list of reasons support America's desire to oust Gadhafi and his regime, especially his role in state-sponsored terrorism. It was Gadhafi that ordered the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270, most of whom were Americans. That said, a number of countervailing arguments counsel against intervening in Libya's civil war with this, as Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes euphemistically put it, "kinetic military action." This description was later revised by Press Secretary Jay Carney to "time-limited, scope-limited" military action. That clears things up.

For one, it is a civil war. U.S. policy -- at least ostensibly -- has been to refrain from engaging in conflicts where U.S. vital national interests are not at stake. Whatever interests the U.S. has in Libya, the term "vital" certainly does not apply.

Second, as a sovereign nation, the U.S. neither seeks nor is granted authority from a supra-national organization such as the UN to use American instruments of national power, including military force. Such authority must vest from within, and in the U.S. that mechanism is the Constitution. While the president has both the authority and duty to use force in protection of the United States from an actual or imminent attack, that is the extent of his unilateral authority. Congress alone has the authority to approve the use of military force in all other circumstances as it did in the wake of 9/11. In the case of both Afghanistan and Iraq, President George W. Bush specifically approached Congress, asked for and was granted a resolution authorizing the use of military force. His successor -- not so much.

Next, we have no idea whether the regime that replaces Gadhafi (if that happens) will actually be a change for the better. While the words "democracy" and "freedom" are bandied about indiscriminately, no one knows what Libya will look like post-Gadhafi. In fact, the rebels are self-described Islamic "holy warriors" who have at least the verbal backing of al-Qa'ida. This fact alone should advocate for restraint.

Moreover, as America nears the tenth anniversary of 9/11, we should pause to reflect upon the fact that our nation has been at war continuously for almost a decade. Should we -- or can we even afford to -- embark on a third commitment of manpower and resources, much less one that is undefined and open-ended? Supposedly, no "boots on the ground" were to be committed, but as we go to press 2,200 Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit are stationed just off the Libyan coast. In the first few days of this conflict alone, we have already lost a plane and spent hundreds of Tomahawk missiles -- are we prepared to commit to this effort to the point that we're willing to sacrifice American lives as well?

In 2007, both Barack Obama and his levelheaded sidekick Joe Biden believed that the president's authority to use military force is limited to repelling an imminent or ongoing attack on the U.S., and that Congress alone has the authority to authorize the use of military force in all other circumstances. "The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation," said Barack Obama then. Likewise, Joe Biden chimed in, "I made it clear to the president that if he takes this nation to war without congressional approval, I will make it my business to impeach him. That is a fact."

These claims were made when they were "Candidate Obama" and "Senator Biden," respectively -- that is, before either decided that their heartfelt words on the campaign trail or a TV talk show were never meant to be applied to themselves at some future point.

Finally, it's worth highlighting how utterly disagreeable is the military operation label "Odyssey Dawn." An odyssey is a very long, convoluted saga -- not an event wrapped up in a few days, as this effort has been promoted, thus far. We're hoping that the Pentagon has a good sense of humor and irony. Otherwise and unwittingly, it may have aptly coined the beginning of yet another endless military journey. It might be nice to rid the world of Moammar Gadhafi. But before we commit American lives and resources toward doing so, shouldn't we first pause to ask the question: At what cost?

Quote of the Week
"We don't know whether the current U.S. president is mindful of what he is uttering, or if he is unconscious and confused." --Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei

25879  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Russian solution on: March 25, 2011, 10:05:11 AM


http://somalilandpress.com/somalia-russia-executed-all-somali-pirates-spokesman-15559
25880  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Mexico on: March 25, 2011, 07:35:52 AM


$25 on line security/protection work in Mexico seminar tomorrow:

http://www.secforinternational.com/online-bodyguard-training.htm
25881  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: Chinese Pebble Bed nuke plants on: March 25, 2011, 06:08:06 AM
SHIDAO, China — While engineers at Japan’s stricken nuclear power plant struggle to keep its uranium fuel rods from melting down, engineers in China are building a radically different type of reactor that some experts say offers a safer nuclear alternative.

The technology will be used in two reactors here on a peninsula jutting into the Yellow Sea, where the Chinese government is expected to let construction proceed even as the world debates the wisdom of nuclear power.
Rather than using conventional fuel rod assemblies of the sort leaking radiation in Japan, each packed with nearly 400 pounds of uranium, the Chinese reactors will use hundreds of thousands of billiard-ball-size fuel elements, each cloaked in its own protective layer of graphite.

The coating moderates the pace of nuclear reactions and is meant to ensure that if the plant had to be shut down in an emergency, the reaction would slowly stop on its own and not lead to a meltdown.

The reactors will also be cooled by nonexplosive helium gas instead of depending on a steady source of water — a critical problem with the damaged reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant. And unlike those reactors, the Chinese reactors are designed to gradually dissipate heat on their own, even if coolant is lost.

If the new plants here prove viable, China plans to build dozens more of them in coming years.

The technology under construction here, known as a pebble-bed reactor, is not new. Germany, South Africa and the United States have all experimented with it, before abandoning it over technical problems or a lack of financing.

But as in many other areas of alternative energy, including solar panels and wind turbines, China is now taking the lead in actually building the next-generation technology. The government has paid for all of the research and development costs for the two pebble-bed reactors being built here, and will cover 30 percent of the construction costs.

Despite Japan’s crisis, China still plans to build as many as 50 nuclear reactors over the next five years — more than the rest of the world combined. Most of this next wave will be of more conventional designs.

But if the pebble-bed approach works as advertised, and proves cost effective, China hopes it can eventually adopt the technology on a broad scale to make nuclear power safer and more feasible as it deals with the world’s fastest growing economy and the material expectations of its 1.3 billion people.

Western environmentalists are divided on the safety of pebble-bed nuclear technology.

Thomas B. Cochran, the senior scientist on nuclear power for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an American group, said that such reactors would probably be less dangerous than current nuclear plants, and might be better for the environment than coal-fired plants.

“Over all, in terms of design,” he said, “it would appear to be safer, with the following caveat: the safety of any nuclear plant is not just a function of the design but also of the safety culture of the plant.”

The executives overseeing construction of the new Chinese reactors say that engineers are already being trained to oversee the extensively computerized controls for the plant, using a simulator at a test reactor that has been operating for a decade near Beijing, apparently without mishap.

But Greenpeace, the international environmentalist group, opposes pebble-bed nuclear reactors, questioning whether any nuclear technology can be truly safe. Wrapping the uranium fuel in graphite greatly increases the volume of radioactive waste eventually requiring disposal, said Heinz Smital, a Greenpeace nuclear technology specialist in Germany.

But he said the waste is far less radioactive per ton than spent uranium fuel rods — one of the big sources of trouble at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

China is building a repository for high-level nuclear waste, like conventional fuel rods, in the country’s arid west. But the far less radioactive spheres, or pebbles, like those from the Shidao reactors will not require such specialized storage; China plans to store the used pebbles initially at the power plants, and later at lower-level radioactive waste disposal sites near the reactors.

=========

Whatever fears the rest of the world may have about China’s nuclear ambitions, the environmental cost-benefit analysis contains at least one potential positive: More nukes would let China reduce the heavy reliance on coal and other fossil fuels that now make it the world’s biggest emitter of global-warming gases.

“China epitomizes the stark choices that we face globally in moving away from current forms of coal-based electricity,” said Jonathan Sinton, the top China specialist at the International Energy Agency in Paris. “Nuclear is an essential alternative” to coal, he said. “It’s the only one that can provide the same quality of electricity at a similar scale in the medium and long term.”
Chinese leaders have been largely unwilling to engage in the global debate on climate change. But they have made a priority of reducing urban air pollution — which kills thousands of people every year and is largely caused by burning coal — and of improving mine safety. Coal mining accidents killed more than 2,400 people in China last year alone.

China’s biggest electric company, the state-owned Huaneng Group, now aims to prove that the technology can work on a commercial scale by building the two pebble-bed reactors — each capable of meeting the residential power needs of an American city of 75,000 to 100,000 people. The reactors are expected to go into operation in about four years.

The plants’ foundations have already been laid, their steel reinforcing bars pointing skyward, on a desolate landscape dominated by thatch-roofed huts and last season’s cornfields. Chinese safety regulations require that all nuclear plants be located at least 30 miles from the nearest city, in this case Rongcheng, which has a population of one million.

It was only three days after a tsunami swamped Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant that China’s legislature approved its five-year plan calling for dozens of new nuclear reactors. As the severity of that crisis became evident, Beijing said it would “temporarily suspend“ the approval of new nuclear reactors, but would allow construction to proceed at more than two dozen other nuclear projects already under way.

By coincidence, China’s cabinet and its national energy bureau had both given final approval for the pebble-bed reactors here in Shidao in the two weeks before the earthquake, said Xu Yuanhui, the father of China’s pebble-bed nuclear program.

China’s nuclear safety agency has met since the Japanese earthquake and reviewed the Shidao’s project plans and site preparation, and has indicated it will be the next project to receive safety clearance.

“The conclusion is clear that it is all ready to start to pour concrete,” said Dr. Xu, a former Tsinghua University professor who is now the vice general manager of Chinergy, the contractor building the reactors here.

Germany led the initial research into pebble-bed nuclear reactors and built its own research version in the 1960s. That reactor closed after an accident, caused by a jammed fuel pebble that released traces of radiation — coincidentally nine days after the Chernobyl accident in 1986, at a time of greatly increased worry about nuclear safety. Dr. Xu said that China, learning from the German mishap, had designed its reactors to keep the pebbles from jamming.

South Africa tried hard until last summer to build a pebble-bed reactor but ran into serious cost overruns.

In the United States, the federal government and companies have spent heavily on pebble-bed research. But there has been little appetite for actually building new nuclear reactors — of any sort — since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979.

“The Chinese had a determination to build, to show the technology to work, and a commitment to get it done,” said Andrew Kadak, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology nuclear engineer specializing in pebble-bed reactors. “In the U.S. we didn’t have, and still don’t have, the commitment.”
25882  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH is shocked to discover that on: March 25, 2011, 05:57:18 AM
CAIRO — In post-revolutionary Egypt, where hope and confusion collide in the daily struggle to build a new nation, religion has emerged as a powerful political force, following an uprising that was based on secular ideals. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group once banned by the state, is at the forefront, transformed into a tacit partner with the military government that many fear will thwart fundamental changes.

It is also clear that the young, educated secular activists who initially propelled the nonideological revolution are no longer the driving political force — at least not at the moment.
As the best organized and most extensive opposition movement in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood was expected to have an edge in the contest for influence. But what surprises many is its link to a military that vilified it.

“There is evidence the Brotherhood struck some kind of a deal with the military early on,” said Elijah Zarwan, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. “It makes sense if you are the military — you want stability and people off the street. The Brotherhood is one address where you can go to get 100,000 people off the street.”

There is a battle consuming Egypt about the direction of its revolution, and the military council that is now running the country is sending contradictory signals. On Wednesday, the council endorsed a plan to outlaw demonstrations and sit-ins. Then, a few hours later, the public prosecutor announced that the former interior minister and other security officials would be charged in the killings of hundreds during the protests.

Egyptians are searching for signs of clarity in such declarations, hoping to discern the direction of a state led by a secretive military council brought to power by a revolution based on demands for democracy, rule of law and an end to corruption.

“We are all worried,” said Amr Koura, 55, a television producer, reflecting the opinions of the secular minority. “The young people have no control of the revolution anymore. It was evident in the last few weeks when you saw a lot of bearded people taking charge. The youth are gone.”

The Muslim Brotherhood is also regarded warily by some religious Egyptians, who see it as an elitist, secret society. These suspicions have created potential opportunities for other parties.

About six groups from the ultraconservative Salafist school of Islam have also emerged in the era after President Hosni Mubarak’s removal, as well as a party called Al Wassat, intended as a more liberal alternative to the Brotherhood.

In the early stages of the revolution, the Brotherhood was reluctant to join the call for demonstrations. It jumped in only after it was clear that the protest movement had gained traction. Throughout, the Brotherhood kept a low profile, part of a survival instinct honed during decades of repression by the state.

The question at the time was whether the Brotherhood would move to take charge with its superior organizational structure. It now appears that it has.

“The Brotherhood didn’t want this revolution; it has never been a revolutionary movement,” said Mr. Zarwan of the International Crisis Group. “Now it has happened; they participated cautiously, and they realize they can set their sights higher.”

But in these early stages, there is growing evidence of the Brotherhood’s rise and the overpowering force of Islam.

When the new prime minister, Essam Sharaf, addressed the crowd in Tahrir Square this month, Mohamed el-Beltagi, a prominent Brotherhood member, stood by his side. A Brotherhood member was also appointed to the committee that drafted amendments to the Constitution.

But the most obvious and consequential example was the recent referendum on the amendments, in the nation’s first post-Mubarak balloting. The amendments essentially call for speeding up the election process so that parliamentary contests can be held before September, followed soon after by a presidential race. That expedited calendar is seen as giving an advantage to the Brotherhood and to the remnants of Mr. Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, which have established national networks. The next Parliament will oversee drafting a new constitution.

Before the vote, Essam el-Erian, a Brotherhood leader and spokesman, appeared on a popular television show, “The Reality,” arguing for the government’s position in favor of the proposal. With a record turnout, the vote was hailed as a success. But the “yes” campaign was based largely on a religious appeal: voters were warned that if they did not approve the amendments, Egypt would become a secular state.

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

Page 2 of 2)



“The problem is that our country will be without a religion,” read a flier distributed in Cairo by a group calling itself the Egyptian Revolution Society. “This means that the call to the prayer will not be heard anymore like in the case of Switzerland, women will be banned from wearing the hijab like in the case of France,” it said, referring to the Muslim head scarf. “And there will be laws that allow men to get married to men and women to get married to women like in the case of America.”


A banner hung by the Muslim Brotherhood in a square in Alexandria instructed voters that it was their “religious duty” to vote “yes” on the amendments.
In the end, 77.2 percent of those who voted said yes.

This is not to say that the Brotherhood is intent on establishing an Islamic state. From the first days of the protests, Brotherhood leaders proclaimed their dedication to religious tolerance and a democratic and pluralist form of government. They said they would not offer a candidate for president, that they would contest only a bit more than a third of the total seats in Parliament, and that Coptic Christians and women would be welcomed into the political party affiliated with the movement.

None of that has changed, Mr. Erian, the spokesman, said in an interview. “We are keen to spread our ideas and our values,” he said. “We are not keen for power.”

He would not comment on whether the Brotherhood had an arrangement with the military, but he said the will of the people to shift toward Islam spoke for itself and was a sign of Egypt’s emerging democratic values. “Don’t trust the intellectuals, liberals and secularists,” Mr. Erian said. “They are a minor group crying all the time. If they don’t work hard, they have no future.”

But the more secular forces say that what they need is time.

“I worry about going too fast towards elections, that the parties are still weak,” said Nabil Ahmed Helmy, former dean of the Zagazig law school and a member of the National Council for Human Rights. “The only thing left right now is the Muslim Brotherhood. I do think that people are trying to take over the revolution.”

Egypt is still a work in progress. Ola Shahba, 32, a member of a group in the youth coalition behind the protests, said, “After the results of the referendum, we need to be humble.”

The coalition and others have said they see the overwhelming approval of the amendments and the rise of the Brotherhood as worrisome, and as evidence that more liberal forces need to organize in a more effective outreach campaign, and fast.

“Freedom is nice; so is democracy,” said Rifaat Abdul Massih, 39, a construction worker. “But I’m a Christian, and we are a bit worried about the future. I voted ‘no’ to give more time to the secular parties. I don’t want to have the Muslim Brotherhood here right away.”
25883  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mona Charen: Holder holding water for Islam on: March 25, 2011, 05:47:36 AM
The village of Berkeley, Ill., 15 miles west of Chicago, is small enough to proclaim its population (5,245) on its welcome sign. It is also small enough to escape mention in the national news -- most of the time.

But the village, which, according to The Washington Post, is majority African-American and Hispanic, has attracted the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice. The department is suing the Berkeley School District on behalf of a former teacher.

Here are the facts: Safoorah Kahn, 29, was hired to teach middle school math in November 2007. According to her lawyer, she was happy in her job, which included preparing sixth- through eighth-graders for state tests, and running the "math lab." After nine months on the job, Kahn requested a three-week leave of absence in order to perform the hajj -- the pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims are obliged to undertake at least once in their lives if they can afford it.

Employers are required by law to honor requests for religious accommodations provided that they do not impose "undue hardship" on the employer or other employees. Berkeley officials maintained that a three-week absence in December -- which would have denied the school its only math lab instructor right before exams -- was unreasonable and was not covered by the teachers' union contract. They denied her request. Kahn decided to make the trip anyway and submitted her resignation.

She also submitted a letter of complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charging that the school board's refusal to grant the 19-day leave amounted to religious discrimination.

"They put her in a position where she had to choose," her lawyer, Kamran A. Memon, told the Post, and this revealed "anti-Muslim hostility."

The town's former mayor disagreed. "The school district just wanted a teacher in the room for those three weeks," said Michael A. Esposito. "They didn't care if she was a Martian, a Muslim or a Catholic."

Now the Justice Department has taken up her case. Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez explains that he took the case in part to combat "a real head wind of intolerance against Muslim communities" and that Kahn's lawsuit seeks to ratify the "religious liberty that our forefathers came to this country for." Perez has spoken before of his belief, shared by Attorney General Eric Holder, that "our Muslim-American brothers and sisters" have been the victims of a post-9/11 backlash.

Now we see how Perez and Holder can assert that Muslim-Americans are suffering a "backlash." If they can see religious discrimination in Kahn's case, it's no wonder they see it under every mattress.

Reality check: Many first-year employees get no vacation days or time off. Teachers, depending upon their union-negotiated contracts, may get some. But to suggest that refusing a three-week leave at a crucial time of the school year is "discrimination" is just perverse. It's reaching to find a base motive for an obviously sensible decision.

Kahn's departure to fulfill a religious obligation that she has a lifetime to satisfy left her students bereft at a critical time. Doesn't Islam also forbid breaking a contract or leaving children in the lurch? Besides, Kahn is 29. The next scheduled hajj that will fall during a school vacation will be in eight years. Kahn will, God willing, be fully capable of making the trip then. But why accommodate your students and your employer when you can sue?

The selfishness of Kahn's behavior was so blatant that even The Washington Post was moved to look for other motives in the Justice Department's decision. "The Obama administration has gone to great lengths to maintain good relations with Muslims -- while endorsing tough anti-terrorism tactics."

This is the same month in which the Obama administration admitted that it won't be closing Guantanamo after all. And President Obama has deployed unmanned aerial vehicles pretty aggressively over Afghanistan and Pakistan. Is this a way to placate Muslim-Americans who may be unhappy about the war on terror?

It may be. Or it may just be another example of the reflex to genuflect before all claims of discrimination -- no matter how baseless. The United States government is asking for back pay, reinstatement, and money damages for Safoorah Kahn. When you elect a liberal Democrat to the White House, this is what you get.
25884  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kudlow on Cantor's proposal on: March 25, 2011, 05:43:42 AM
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Economic growth over the past ten years has been less than 2 percent annually. And this is a mighty soft economic recovery going on right now, following the very deep recession.

So it’s appropriate enough that Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor unveiled a strong pro-growth economic plan at Stanford’s Hoover Institution this week. Cantor is afraid the Republican budget-cutting message is a little too austere, so he’s attempting to balance the necessary budget cuts with a pro-growth, tax-and-regulatory reform message.

Cantor focuses especially on getting business tax rates down to at least 25 percent. He also proposes a tax holiday to repatriate the foreign earnings of U.S. companies. So many CEOs have made the same argument. And this was done successfully in 2004-05. If enacted, maybe $1 trillion in cash will flow back home for new investment and jobs.

But no sooner did Cantor make this speech, than the Treasury shot down any idea of a corporate-tax holiday. I guess this is the same Treasury that works for the Obama 2.0 pro-business president. Or not.

Cantor is completely right on this. He’s also right on his other proposals to lower trade barriers and put a freeze on regulatory burdens.

Mr. Cantor also has an interesting proposal to deal with the backlog of 700,000 patent requests in order to speed American innovation and small-business creation. He also believes the visa system should be streamlined to bring in high-skilled workers from abroad in order to create new jobs at home.

It will be interesting to see if Cantor’s growth message is taken up by other Republican leaders, most particularly Paul Ryan. Will Mr. Ryan include tax-and-regulatory reform with his tough budget-cutting proposals?

The only thing missing from Eric Cantor’s speech was a monetary hook to stabilize the dollar. The GOP needs a King Dollar policy. Otherwise, all the best tax cuts will be blunted by a sinking dollar and rising inflation.

But bravo to Eric Cantor for getting out a growth message. And let’s see if the GOP presidential wannabes pick up on the need for growth plan.
25885  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Charles Carroll on: March 25, 2011, 05:30:29 AM
Celebrated by his countrymen as a leading member of America’s Founding Fathers, especially as his long life surpassed those of his contemporaries, Charles Carroll (1737-1832) is long overdue for an historical appreciation.
For, of the men who founded the United States, it is unfortunate that only a few still figure in the hearts and minds of those of their countrymen who still care about the past: Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and Hamilton. The rest of these gallant men—not all of them equally important but all equally brave, having risked their property, including their necks, as traitors to the Crown—inhabit an historical shadow land clapped shut between the covers of dusty books disintegrating on university library shelves. Judging by the execrable state of American public education, that vast cauldron of political correctness, the average text-messaging child would be hard pressed to name the patriots just mentioned, let alone explain their individual significance to America's founding.

A thumbnail sketch of Carroll’s life proves that he is not a figure for either historian or thoughtful reader to thumb his nose at. A bastard son later legally recognized and made heir of colonial America’s wealthiest family, he was an aristocratic Catholic classically educated in France by Jesuits, from whom he learned an orthodox Christian defense of overthrowing one’s government. And from his youth to late middle-age, he was intimately engaged in the birthing and rearing of a young nation, though he often preferred working behind the scenes and within the newspapers as a propagandist in the best sense of the word: propagating the truth with clarity and conviction—two qualities abounding in this fine biography.

The only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, he also was the last surviving member of a brave group of men who risked their lives and fortunes to defend the freedoms they once enjoyed as Englishmen before George III, influenced by asinine advisors, began treating the colonials as second-class subjects. And he died a celebrated statesman and patriot, despite the stubborn, sometimes vitriolic anti-Catholicism of his times. Indeed, Charles Carroll was a deeply Catholic Christian, increasingly open about his faith as his lengthy years progressed. Yet his faith was expressed with a certain reserve that separated the tiny core of English Catholics in early America from their fellow faithful who came from countries spared the persecution of a Protestant majority.

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), America's premier purveyor of conservative thought in academia and public life, heroically works to correct historical ignorance. In its "Lives of the Founders" series, ISI Books, the publication wing of ISI, pays filial homage to Founding Fathers under-served by historians guilty either of scholarly neglect or abuse borne of ideological bias.

Charles Carroll, for example, has suffered from neglect more than abuse, though one could aver that the neglect stems from left-leaning historians uninterested in writing about Founding Fathers who lack radical chic, real or imagined. (A perennial favorite is Thomas Paine, the revolutionary pamphleteer who sealed his fame with "Common Sense" before falling out of vogue with his viciously anti-Christian tracts.) Were it not for the astute new appreciation of this "forgotten Founder" by Bradley Birzer, history professor at Hillsdale College, Carroll might remain best remembered for two things: being the only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence, and persevering into his tenth decade, the last signer to die.

None of his contemporaries would have considered him a mere side note, however, which is why the virtue of Birzer's book rests not upon novelty, but truth. The prose is strong yet graceful, the historical scholarship thoroughly engaging (there is a veritable treasure trove of early Americana drawn from original documents), and the personal portraits are rendered with the same luminosity with which Sir Joshua Reynolds painted the portrait of a young Charles Carroll, featured on the cover of the handsomely-designed dust jacket.

Indeed, Professor Birzer paints a portrait of the man in full with a depth that, rather than drowning the reader in detail, invites him to inspect the subject further. This is a portrait of Charles Carroll as known by his deeds as well as his personal life and character.

As for his deeds, he was pivotal to his beloved native Maryland, signing the Declaration of Independence and later ratifying the U.S. Constitution. He also was pivotal in dislodging, through politicking and the press, laws as well as attitudes that prevented Catholics and other Christians from enjoying full religious and political liberty.

A conservative of the mind as well as the heart, his similarity to Edmund Burke, whom he knew during his London days studying the law, is profound. Both championed the timeless and true, as manifested within time and place, kith and kin. For them, a “citizen of the world” was a sorry specimen of deracinated humanity, attached to everything and, therefore, nothing. Both were wary of abstract rights, pure democracy, and utopian idealism -- experiments which, from the French Revolution on, have been dragged back down to earth with bloody thuds, killing millions. Whereas Burke continues to influence conservative thought to this day, Carroll himself directly influenced an admiring houseguest, Alexis de Tocqueville. The young Frenchman’s magisterial Democracy in America spurns sugar-coating the dangers inherent in that form of government that was best expressed in ancient Athens—and that, not too well.

As for his personal life and character, Professor Birzer shows Carroll to be a man of strong, steadfast character who stuck to principle and showed himself smart and courageous in the political realm. In private, however, his aristocratic detachment must have made life less than charming for his family: at least for the son who died of alcoholism and the wife who, after bearing his children and dying young, seems to have died in a pain deeper and more hurtful than the pain dulled by the opium addiction she acquired during her illness.

Yet, Professor Birzer shows how Charles Carroll mellowed with age and deepened in personal understanding as decade passed into decade till he died in his tenth to great outpourings of national mourning. The reasons for such mourning deserve to be known once again—indeed, known even more deeply, this generation of Americans having no nostalgic connection to those among the first.

Matthew A. Rarey, a journalist living in Chicago, graduated from St. John’s College in Annapolis, where Charles Carroll spent much of his life. Any visitor to this most English of American cities will be imbued with the presence of Carroll, whose ancestral home is located next door to the Catholic church, steps up the street from the harbor.

25886  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Today's GB show: The plan is to dump Israel? on: March 24, 2011, 09:10:43 PM
Intriguing and scary show from GB today; like all of us, he is trying to make sense of a world that is no longer making sense.

He made a very plausible case that the secret plan is to dump Israel as an ally.  He went into this at length.  I suspect if someone were to search function here for Cass Sunstein's wife and BO Israel-Palestine advisor Samantha Powers you would see what she was saying before plucked into the inner circle by Baraq.  The gist of it is that we need to ignore certain powerful domestic constituencies, stop supporting Israel, and use the money to build up Palestine.

Not sure if I will get this right, but the same basis "the duty to prevent harm to civilians" for the intervention in Libya will be used against Israel to keep it from hurting the Palestinians-- GB named a WH aide to Baraq who is already making this case.  Egypt's army in alliance with Muslim Brotherhood, now that Baraq has eased Murbarak out the door, will be ready to assist.

Of course it is a coincidence that Jordan Air's map now shows Jordan including where Israel now is and that Turkey is planning anohter flotilla to break the Gaza embargo.

Separately he discussed Baraq's trip to Brazil, the US helping fund Petrobras's deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico while Cass Sunstein denies US companies permits to do the same thing with their money.  Of course it is just a coincidence that this comes after Soros has been trading in Petrobas.
25887  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: March 24, 2011, 08:57:41 PM
"However I just don't know that Iraq 2 will benefit this country in the long run.  I guess no one can know at this time."

1) My point is not that how it turned out was/is a good thing, but that it would have/could have been a good thing but for progressive perfidy; and

2) Thought exercise:  What would things look like now if we had NOT gone in?  What would SH be up to?  Would our troops still be in Saudi Arabia?  Where would Kadaffy be with his nuke program? etc etc etc



25888  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: March 24, 2011, 06:03:10 PM
A mystery to me why the market is going up , , ,  huh huh huh
25889  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: March 24, 2011, 05:58:04 PM
I stand by Iraq 2.  After some very poor leadership by Bush-Rumbo, we finally got it together only to have the constant drumbeat of defeatism, cowardice, anti-Americanism, and occasional treason of the American Left (progressives, liberals, dems, socialists, Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Kerry, Gore, NY Times-LA Times-and-the-other-Pravdas et al) sabotage us from within and abroad.  I AM NOT saying that many good patriotic Americans were not opposed!  I AM saying that many others crossed the line many times and sometimes crossed it very far.

It we had lost our will after the Surge worked, the whole dynamic we are looking at now would have an entirely different hue.

Instead the accumulating clusterfcuk headed our way began with going limp in Iraq, then Baraq's performancin in Afpakia, and the accumulating momentum of @$%#%^#%& since then.
 
25890  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: March 24, 2011, 05:48:30 PM
Doug:

I agree on points both small (e.g. Hannity is an ass) and large ("Parroting the Bush-haters, everything is an opportunity to attack Obama.  These candidates become the guests on these shows doing much of the same.  US policy and involvement in the Middle East and North Africa is more important than that.  A serious candidate needs to instead lay out a serious case for what criteria goes into all these questions,  who leads the coalition, whenr to go to congress, how to communicate what we are doing to the American people and what we want to communicate to others who will read something into our actions, such as the tyrants and rebels in other countries.")

EXACTLY SO.  Let this sentiment guide all of us here! 
25891  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: March 24, 2011, 05:43:09 PM
JDN: IMHO it is well worth the time.

CCP: It may get lively by the time I am scheduled to be in Israel!  cheesy
25892  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Ta da! The DBMA SP site is up! on: March 24, 2011, 12:07:39 PM


http://dbmaschoolprogram.com
25893  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Implications on: March 24, 2011, 11:30:31 AM
Dispatch: Implications of the Attacks in Israel
March 23, 2011 | 2013 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:



Analyst Reva Bhalla explains the regional consequences of the escalating violence in Israel and what this means for Iran and Egypt.


Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

A bombing struck a bus station in central Jerusalem on Tuesday wounding 34 people and killing one other. This apparent escalation by at least some Palestinian factions raises the potential for another military campaign by Israel in the Palestinian territories. This not only could produce another crisis for Egypt, but could also play to Iranian interests in the region.

This quite rare Jerusalem attack comes on the heels of a barrage of rocket attacks coming from Gaza Strip into population centers in southern Israel and the Negev Desert. It also comes a little less than two weeks after a particularly gruesome attack on a family in the West Bank in the Itamar settlement. We are clearly seeing an escalation by at least some Palestinian factions against Israel. Now who is actually behind the attacks is much less clear. Often you will find that a lot of groups will use contradicting claims and denials and new names to deliberately confuse the Israel security intelligence apparatus. Some of the more recent rocket attacks from Gaza were claimed by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which out of all the Palestinian militant groups is the closest to Iran.

We therefore need to put this latest attack in regional context. The killings in the West Bank were intentionally designed to provoke the Israelis. The Israelis, however, refused to be provoked. Then we saw a barrage of rocket attacks coming from Gaza now coordinated with an attack on a bus station in central Jerusalem.

This now could produce an enormous crisis for Egypt. The Egyptian government, now led by the military, is in a very delicate position in trying to manage this political transition at home while now also trying to deal with a war next door in Libya. On top of that, we’re seeing an escalation in the Palestinian territories, and whenever you have an Israeli military intervention in the Gaza Strip, which now seems very possible, you have an influx of refugees from Gaza into the Sinai Peninsula. That creates a security crisis on the Egyptians and the Egyptians often have to clamp down on the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and the Sinai.

This could allow Hamas in the Gaza Strip and, crucially, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which is the main opposition group in Egypt, to condemn the Egyptian military-led government and escalate anti-Israeli sentiment. That in turn could endanger the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, and this is a dynamic that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood couldn’t really capitalize on during the recent crisis, but it could do so now, especially if you have an Israeli military intervention in the Gaza Strip under the current circumstances.

When going beyond the Palestinian territories, we have a situation where the Iranians are pursuing a covert destabilization campaign in the Persian Gulf region, using Shia unrest to destabilize the regimes in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in particular. When looking at the unrest overall in the region, the one key ingredient that was missing was Israel. Israel is often the single unifying call for many on the Arab streets, and that is certainly something that a lot of Palestinian factions will be paying attention to right now. Watch for groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and others in the region to escalate attacks in an effort to provoke a military confrontation with Israeli forces, create a crisis for Egypt through the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and threaten Israel on multiple fronts. This is something that could well play to the Iranian agenda and escalate the regional unrest overall.

25894  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Kadaffy's terrorism options on: March 24, 2011, 10:49:42 AM
Libya's Terrorism Option
March 23, 2011


By Scott Stewart

On March 19, military forces from the United States, France and Great Britain began to enforce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, which called for the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya and authorized the countries involved in enforcing the zone to “take all necessary measures” to protect civilians and “civilian-populated areas under threat of attack.” Obviously, such military operations cannot be imposed against the will of a hostile nation without first removing the country’s ability to interfere with the no-fly zone — and removing this ability to resist requires strikes against military command-and-control centers, surface-to-air missile installations and military airfields. This means that the no-fly zone not only was a defensive measure to protect the rebels — it also required an attack upon the government of Libya.

Certainly, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has no doubt that the U.S. and European military operations against the Libyan military targets are attacks against his regime. He has specifically warned France and the United Kingdom that they would come to regret the intervention. Now, such threats could be construed to mean that should Gadhafi survive, he will seek to cut off the countries’ access to Libyan energy resources in the future. However, given Libya’s past use of terrorist strikes to lash out when attacked by Western powers, Gadhafi’s threats certainly raise the possibility that, desperate and hurting, he will once again return to terrorism as a means to seek retribution for the attacks against his regime. While threats of sanctions and retaliation have tempered Gadhafi’s use of terrorism in recent years, his fear may evaporate if he comes to believe he has nothing to lose.


History of Libyan Reactions

Throughout the early 1980s, the U.S. Navy contested Libya’s claim to the Gulf of Sidra and said the gulf was international water. This resulted in several minor skirmishes, such as the incident in August 1981 when U.S. Navy fighters downed two Libyan aircraft. Perhaps the most costly of these skirmishes for Libya occurred in March 1986, when a U.S. task force sank two Libyan ships and attacked a number of Libyan surface-to-air missile sites that had launched missiles at U.S. warplanes.

The Libyans were enraged by the 1986 incident, but as the incident highlighted, they lacked the means to respond militarily due to the overwhelming superiority of U.S. forces. This prompted the Libyans to employ other means to seek revenge. Gadhafi had long seen himself as the successor to Gamal Abdel Nasser as the leader of Arab nationalism and sought to assert himself in a number of ways. Lacking the population and military of Egypt, or the finances of Saudi Arabia, he began to use terrorism and the support of terrorist groups as a way to undermine his rivals for power in the Arab world. Later, when he had been soundly rejected by the Arab world, he began to turn his attention to Africa, where he employed these same tools. They could also be used against what Gadhafi viewed as imperial powers.

On April 2, 1986, a bomb tore a hole in the side of TWA Flight 840 as it was flying from Rome to Athens. The explosion killed four American passengers and injured several others. The attack was claimed by the Arab Revolutionary Cells but is believed to have been carried out by the Abu Nidal Organization (ANO), one of the Marxist terrorist groups heavily sponsored by Libya.

On the evening of April 5, 1986, a bomb detonated in the La Belle disco in Berlin. Two U.S. soldiers and one civilian were killed in the blast and some 200 others were injured. Communications between Tripoli and the Libyan People’s Bureau (its embassy) in East Berlin were intercepted by the United States, which, armed with this smoking gun tying Libya to the La Belle attack, launched a retaliatory attack on Libya the night of April 15, 1986, that included a strike against Gadhafi’s residential compound and military headquarters at Bab Al Azizia, south of Tripoli. The strike narrowly missed killing Gadhafi, who had been warned of the impending attack. The warning was reportedly provided by either a Maltese or Italian politician, depending on which version of the story one hears.

The Libyan government later claimed that the attack killed Gadhafi’s young daughter, but this was pure propaganda. It did, however, anger and humiliate Gadhafi, though he lacked the ability to respond militarily. In the wake of the attack on his compound, Gadhafi feared additional reprisals and began to exercise his terrorist hand far more carefully and in a manner to provide at least some degree of deniability. One way he did this was by using proxy groups to conduct his strikes, such as the ANO and the Japanese Red Army (JRA). It did not take Gadhafi’s forces long to respond. On the very night of the April 15 U.S. attack, U.S. Embassy communications officer William Calkins was shot and critically wounded in Khartoum, Sudan, by a Libyan revolutionary surrogates in Sudan. On April 25, Arthur Pollock, a communicator at the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, was also shot and seriously wounded by an ANO gunman.

In May 1986, the JRA attacked the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, with an improvised mortar that caused little damage, and the JRA conducted similar ineffective attacks against the U.S. Embassy in Madrid in February and April of 1987. In June 1987, JRA operatives attacked the U.S. Embassy in Rome using vehicle-borne improvised explosive device and an improvised mortar. In April 1988, the group attacked the USO club in Naples. JRA bombmaker Yu Kikumura was arrested on the New Jersey Turnpike in April 1988 while en route to New York City to conduct a bombing attack there. The use of ANO and JRA surrogates provided Gadhafi with some plausible deniability for these attacks, but there is little doubt that he was behind them. Then on Dec. 21, 1988, Libyan agents operating in Malta succeeded in placing a bomb aboard Pan Am Flight 103, which was destroyed in the air over Scotland. All 259 passengers and crew members aboard that flight died, as did 11 residents of Lockerbie, Scotland, the town where the remnants of the Boeing 747 jumbo jet fell. Had the jet exploded over the North Atlantic as intended instead of over Scotland, the evidence that implicated Libya in the attack most likely never would have been found.

But the United States has not been the only target of Libyan terrorism. While the Libyans were busy claiming the Gulf of Sidra during the 1980s, they were also quite involved in propagating a number of coups and civil wars in Africa. One civil war in which they became quite involved was in neighboring Chad. During their military intervention there, the Libyans suffered heavy losses and eventually defeat due to French intervention on the side of the Chadian government. Not having the military might to respond to France militarily, Gadhafi once again chose the veiled terrorist hand. On Sept. 19, 1989, UTA Flight 772 exploded shortly after taking off from N’Djamena, Chad, en route to Paris. All 156 passengers and 14 crew members were killed by the explosion. The French government investigation into the crash found that the aircraft went down as a result of a bombing and that the bomb had been placed aboard the aircraft in Brazzaville, the Republic of the Congo, by Congolese rebels working with the Libyan People’s Bureau there. Six Libyans were tried in absentia and convicted for their part in the attack.


The Current Situation

Today Libya finds itself once again being attacked by an opponent with an overwhelmingly powerful military that Gadhafi’s forces cannot stand up to. While Gadhafi did take responsibility for some of Libya’s past terrorist attacks and publicly renounced terrorism in 2003, this step was a purely pragmatic move on his part. It was not the result of some ideological epiphany that suddenly caused Gadhafi to become a kinder and gentler guy. From the late 1980s to the renunciation of terrorism in 2003, Gadhafi retained the capability to continue using terrorism as a foreign policy tool but simply chose not to. And this capability remains in his tool box.

Unlike his views of past crises, Gadhafi sees the current attacks against him as being far more dangerous to the survival of his regime than the Gulf of Sidra skirmishes or the French military operations in Chad. Gadhafi has always been quite cold and calculating. He has not hesitated to use violence against those who have affronted him, even his own people. Now he is cornered and fearful for his very survival. Because of this, there is a very real possibility that the Libyans will employ terrorism against the members of the coalition now implementing and enforcing the no-fly zone.

Gadhafi has a long history of using diplomatic staff, which the Libyans refer to as “revolutionary committees,” to conduct all sorts of skullduggery, from planning terrorist attacks to fomenting coups. Indeed, these diplomats have often served as agents for spreading Gadhafi’s revolutionary principles elsewhere. Because of this history, coalition members will almost certainly be  carefully monitoring the activities of Libyan diplomats within their countries — and elsewhere.

As illustrated by most of the above-mentioned terrorist attacks launched or commissioned by the Libyans, they have frequently conducted attacks against their targeted country in a third country. This process of monitoring Libyan diplomats will be greatly aided by the defection of a large number of diplomats in a variety of countries who undoubtedly have been thoroughly debriefed by security agencies looking for any hints that Gadhafi is looking to resume his practice of terrorism. These defectors will also prove helpful in identifying intelligence officers still loyal to Gadhafi and perhaps even in locating Libyan intelligence officers working under non-official cover.

But diplomats are not the only source Gadhafi can tap for assistance. As noted above, Gadhafi has a long history of using proxies to conduct terrorist attacks. Using a proxy provides Gadhafi with the plausible deniability he requires to continue to spin his story to the world that he is an innocent victim of senseless aggression. Perhaps more important, hiding his hand can also help prevent reprisal attacks. While most of the 1980s-era Marxist proxy groups the Libyans worked with are defunct, Gadhafi does have other options.

One option is to reach out to regional jihadist groups such as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), while another is to cultivate already improving relationships with jihadists groups in Libya such as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). Indeed, Gadhafi has released hundreds of LFIG members from prison, a process that continued even after the unrest began in February. It is doubtful that the LIFG really feels any affinity for Gadhafi — the group launched an insurgency against his regime in the mid-1990s and actually tried to assassinate him — but it could be used to funnel funds and weapons to regional groups like AQIM. Such groups certainly have no love for the French, Americans or British and might be willing to conduct attacks against their interests in exchange for weapons and funding from Libya. AQIM is desperate for resources and has been involved in kidnapping for ransom and drug smuggling to raise funds to continue its struggle. This need might help it overcome its disdain for Gadhafi.

In the long run groups like AQIM and LIFG certainly would pose a threat to Gadhafi, but facing the very real existential threat from the overwhelming military force now being arrayed against him, Gadhafi may view the jihadist threat as far less pressing and severe.

Other potential agents for Libyan terrorist attacks are the various African rebel and revolutionary groups Gadhafi has maintained contact with and even supported over the years. Many of the mercenaries that have reportedly fought on the side of the Libyan loyalist forces have come from such groups. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Gadhafi could call upon such allies to attack French, British, Italian or American interests in his allies’ respective countries. Such actors would have ready access to weapons (likely furnished by Libya to begin with), and the capabilities of host-country security services are quite limited in many African states. This would make them ideal places to conduct terrorist attacks. However, due to the limited capabilities exhibited by such groups, they would likely require direct Libyan oversight and guidance (the kind of direct Libyan guidance for African rebels demonstrated in the UTA Flight 772 bombing) if they were to conduct attacks against hardened targets in Africa such as foreign embassies.

Also, as seen in the wake of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s Christmas Day bomb plot in 2009, which originated in Ghana, passenger and cargo screening at African airports is not as stringent as it is elsewhere. When combined with Libya’s history of attacking aircraft, and placing bombs aboard foreign aircraft in third countries, the possibility of such an attack must surely be of grave concern for Western security officials.

Terrorism, however, has its limitations, as shown by Gadhafi’s activities in the 1980s. While the Libyans were able to launch several successful terrorist strikes, kill hundreds of people and traumatize many more through terror multipliers like the media, they were not able to cause any sort of lasting impact on the foreign policies of the United States or France. The attacks only served to harden the resolve of those countries to impose their will on Gadhafi, and he eventually capitulated and renounced terrorism. Those Libyan-sponsored attacks in the 1980s are also an important factor governing the way the world views Gadhafi — and today they may be playing a large part in the decision made by countries like France that Gadhafi must go. Of course, it is also this attitude — that Gadhafi must be forced out — that could lead him to believe he has nothing to lose by playing the terrorism card once again.

25895  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt, Barbor on: March 24, 2011, 10:41:58 AM
a) I saw that Newt apparently was for an invasion of Libya a few weeks ago, until now he was against it.

b) Pravda on the Beach (Left Angeles Times) reports this morning that Haley Barbor has been caught in a fib about not representing the Mexican govt as a lobbyist in its efforts to secure amnesty for its citizens here illegally or something like that.
25896  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: March 24, 2011, 08:30:41 AM
The quality of your commentary is appreciated BD.
25897  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Straight Blast on: March 24, 2011, 08:22:21 AM
FWIW, here is how I organize it

a) Wing Chun/early Jun Fan Straight Blast:  Done with shuffle footwork.  2-3 strikes per step. When the range is already closed and an opening is created by a hit, it can be very effective.  Potential drawbacks:  forward pressure may not be enough in many situations, temptation to start it from too far away/without a prior hit.  Given the great exposure of the jaw to a counter hook, Plan A had better work.

b) Later Jun Fan/JKD Straight Blast see e.g. Paul Vunak:  The difference here is that the footwork is a natural sprint, so forward pressure is far greater.  This is a good thing. Again 2-3 strikes per step.  Again Plan A had better work or a counter hook can be very bad.  Again the temptation to start from too far away/without a prior hit.  The temptation can be all the greater because it can often work without a prior hit.  Against an opponent who moves his head well, weave and shoot becomes a risk in addition to the hook.

c) The Boxing Blast: see e.g Vitor Belfort vs. Vanderlei Silva or the footage in this thread of Lyoto Machida or various current MMA fighters :  Same footwork/forward pressure as the JKD Straight Blast, but only one strike per step, but because the punch is a boxing type punch instead of a vertical punch, the shoulders naturally cover the jaw or more readily can flinch to cover the jaw.  see e.g. the Lyoto clip in this thread.

d) Recently I have developed what I call "the Rabid Blast".  Like the WC/JF and the JKD Straight Blasts it seeks to impose neurological overload by punching three strikes per step (well two strikes and a sector framing strike to be specific smiley ).  Like the JKD SB and the Boxing Blast it seeks to impose strong forward pressure, though the footwork prefers to zig zag ("sawtooth" in our terminology) unless the opponent is so on his heels that a straight line is required to keep up with him.  Like the Boxing Blast is seeks to keep the jaw protected; though in my opinion it does so to a greater degree.  Ideally weave and shoot counters are partially dealt with by using the angle created by the sawtooth footwork, often in conjunction with what we call a "silat gator roll".  Because of our concerns about striking the skull with our fists, the strikes are heel palm.  The nature of the strikes overlaps with old school boxing, but is neither vertical fist nor boxing.
The chambers from which they initiate are different (think the double stick chamber we call the Arf-arful Dodger) and rhythmically they are a bit different too;  I may be mistaken but at the moment I think the rhythm is in 6/8.
25898  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Stability Dilema on: March 24, 2011, 07:34:37 AM
'Stability" was the watchword of virtually all Middle East policy as far back as anyone can remember. Whether for purposes of avoiding war with Israel, protecting a primary source of world energy, or securing intelligence-sharing relationships to fight al Qaeda, stability had its reasons in the Middle East.

That model of stability ended its long run with the self-immolation of a Tunisian street vendor in December. It's not coming back.

The future holds three alternative models of stability: The first is Gadhafism, the stability of the fist; the second is the enforcements of Islam; and the last—and most desirable—is economic modernity.

Some in the anti-Gadhafi coalition from Europe and the U.S seem willing to accept an endgame in which Gadhafi retains power. Unrestrained Gadhafism will follow: The stability that the psychopathic colonel imposes after the coalition goes home will make previous repressions look like kindergarten exercises.

This may be an acceptable price to some realists in the Pentagon and Europe and to reluctant soldiers in the White House. The problem is that variants of Gadhafist stability, without the evil clown, are likely to be the new norm among the Middle East's surviving autocrats. This degree of repression is already standard in Iran, which hangs opponents with metronomic regularity.

This week, protests of almost unbelievable pluck and courage emerged in Syria of all places. But the Assad family, back to the Hama massacre of 1982, has a dishonorable tradition of stability through murder and imprisonment. With Saudi assistance, Bahrain's opposition is getting hammered hard.

One might even argue that Mubarak blinked. If Mubarak had known how tough it would be for the West to oppose Gadhafi's bombing of his own people, he might have loosed his army on the Cairo protesters and survived, once past a spate of pro-forma international denunciation. Yemen's President Saleh won't blink.

If Gadhafism survives and spreads, with the West's assent, its tens of millions of victims will have a more rational reason than "oil" to blame the West for their condition. They may go looking for targets.

Pre-modern Islam is eager to impose another form of stability. The snap referendum on constitutional amendments in Egypt showed that the Muslim Brotherhood is building a modus vivendi with the military. Egypt's brass are uncomfortable with the youth movement, whose complaints are mostly economic and thereby a threat to the military's cash flow from crony capitalism.

 
Associated Press
 
Moammar Gadhafi
.Some say that the Islamic nations of southeast Asia or even Turkey prove Middle Eastern Islam can co-exist with the world economy. But there is scant evidence. Read the translated sermons of the Brotherhood's current chairman, Mohammed Badie (at MEMRI.org) for a sense of his millennial obsessions.

Gadhafism or ascendant Islam make it likely that the U.S. military will have to return to the region on a large scale—either after another massively homicidal terrorist attack on a Western urban center or a bad miscalculation over Israel. Or when the next street vendor reignites the region.

For reasons of self-protection and self-respect, we need an alternative to the fake stability of Gadhafism or militant Islam. Why not economic modernity?

The protests in these nations are political and economic, but I think they are mostly economic. In a column last month, "Is Egypt Hopeless?" I argued that the autocrats' decades-old model of using public-sector jobs to placate their populations' economic aspirations was falling apart. More recently for National Review, Daniel Doron wrote a more complete summary (which our Pentagon brass should read) of how these nations have stumbled through Cold War socialism, nationalizations, the corruption of their elites, and the destruction of their middle classes to arrive at this year's multi-nation eruption of refusal.

The latest nerve-wracking basket-case is Yemen. Its unemployment rate the past 10 years has been about 35%. For Yemenis under 26, the current rate is 53%. Yemen produces about 300,000 mostly unemployable college graduates annually. No wonder the American-born Anwar al- Awlaki headed to Yemen to recruit.

The outside world has a self-interest in pushing the Middle East's economies toward the 21st century. Without economic upgrades, the underemployment bomb will tick and re-explode—there or here.

Rebuilding from economic failure isn't easy, but it isn't rocket science. One good, achievable idea suggested recently has been a free trade agreement between Egypt and the U.S. and Europe. But if the Obama team won't complete a free trade deal with Colombia, a friend and ally, then Egypt and the rest really are hopeless. Barack Obama's union base is looking like a national security issue.

Many people in U.S. public life don't want to get involved with this Middle East tangle. Alas, the gods do not ordain a timeline for crises. These insurrections—now spread across 11 separate nations—are a big, historic moment, similar in some ways to what happened around Eastern Europe before the Berlin Wall fell. The U.S. didn't blow that one. What's needed now is an equivalent level of leadership and strategic thinking to ensure we don't fall on the wrong side of this one.

Write to henninger@wsj.com

25899  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: NPR on: March 24, 2011, 07:27:05 AM
We search for Truth around here.  Does anyone have anything on the assertion here about The Blaze's saying that O'keefe misled?
================

By STEVE INSKEEP
On the day NPR chief executive Vivian Schiller lost her job, I was reporting from Egypt. That evening, I had dinner with employees from NPR's Cairo bureau. I wasn't eager to talk shop, but I didn't have to. The conversation barely touched on news from home.

Instead we spoke of Egypt's revolution. And we talked over the logistics of supplying our colleagues in nearby Libya with body armor.

When I had time to think about it, I noticed a contrast between the news that NPR reports from the Arab world and the news NPR has lately made at home. Each news story revealed the values of the people reporting it.

Here the story was reality TV. A video editor created a faux organization, set up a meeting, and secretly recorded the bone-headed remarks of an NPR executive. The editor, activist James O'Keefe, spliced together clips to suggest that NPR was prepared to take money from an Islamist group allegedly founded by members of the "Muslim Brotherhood in America."

Emails show that NPR refused the money, and the conservative website The Blaze discovered that the executive's remarks were repeatedly lifted out of context. Nevertheless, the executive and his CEO were dismissed.

I congratulate Mr. O'Keefe for upholding his values: faith in the power of video to mislead. As columnist Michael Gerson noted in the Washington Post, by selectively misquoting the executive's words, rearranging events, and other devices, Mr. O'Keefe made him sound sympathetic to Islamic radicals and unfairly tarnished NPR with "an elaborate, alluring lie."

At the same time, my NPR colleagues in the Arab world were reporting on the actual Muslim Brotherhood and many other players involved in the uprisings. My colleagues' reporting technique demonstrates their values. Suppose you're NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, one of the first reporters into Libya after its rebellion began. You need to know if the rebels are advancing. The only way to find out is to drive toward the front lines until the artillery shells exploding around you make it clear that they're not. Next, you figure out how to get back alive. Then you try to rest, because you'll do it again tomorrow.

With those values in mind, let's consider the fundamental question: the accusation of "liberal bias" at NPR, which drives many critics calling to eliminate its federal funding. It's not my job as a reporter to address the funding question. But I can point out that the recent tempests over "perceived bias" have nothing to do with what NPR puts on the air.

The facts show that NPR attracts a politically diverse audience of 33.7 million weekly listeners to its member stations on-air. In surveys by GfK MRI, most listeners consistently identify themselves as "middle of the road" or "conservative." Millions of conservatives choose NPR, even with powerful conservative alternatives on the radio.

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Getty Images
 .I've met an incredible variety of listeners in my travels. The audience includes students, peace activists, and American soldiers I met in Iraq. They're among many people in the military who rely on NPR's international coverage. When I was NPR's Pentagon correspondent, I discovered that it's a prize beat, because on every base you meet people who already know who you are. Many other Americans are listening in places like Indiana, my home state, or Kentucky, where I first worked in public radio. Not much of the media pays attention to the middle of the country, but NPR and its local stations do. Many NPR stations have added news staff as local newspapers have declined.

Members of Congress listen too: A few months ago I was interviewing a Republican lawmaker who quoted an NPR story he'd heard that morning. And there are people like the woman I met at a Sarah Palin debate party in 2008, in rural western Virginia. She said she listened during long drives required by her job with a railroad. The same programs she hears in Virginia have also reached an audience abroad. In Egypt last week, a young man told me he so admires the quirky reporting of my colleague Robert Krulwich that he plans to translate it into Arabic.

Conservatives in our diverse audience let us know when they disagree with our coverage—as do liberals, who've sent notes for years to advise me that I am conservative. Most listeners understand that we're all figuring out the world together, calmly and honestly, in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

NPR's audience keeps expanding because Americans want more than toxic political attacks. They want news. Think again of my colleagues in Libya, going forward to bear witness amid exploding shells. Is that liberal or conservative? Maybe it's neither. It's an honest and honorable effort to keep Americans informed.

Mr. Inskeep is co-host of NPR's "Morning Edition."

25900  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: An AF General's analysis on: March 24, 2011, 07:21:43 AM
By CHARLES A. HORNER
The military operations against the Gadhafi regime in Libya appear to be going well. But going where? To succeed, military leaders need clearly defined goals that can be achieved by the use of force. You need to know what you are tasked to accomplish, and then you can evaluate pertinent factors such as friendly and enemy capabilities, terrain and weather to define a strategy.

In 1990-91, coalition forces confronting Iraq had two objectives: to protect the Gulf Cooperation Council nations from Iraqi attacks, and to liberate occupied Kuwait. Some argue that these objectives were too narrow to do such things as topple Saddam's regime or bring representative government to Iraq, both desirable goals from a coalition standpoint. Regardless, we knew we could achieve the goals set forth by our political leadership with military force, and we went on to prove it during Operation Desert Storm.

The air strikes in Libya are aimed at the objective of "protecting civilians," but the U.S. has not defined whether the rebel forces are civilian, military or both. If they go on the offensive, do they deserve our protection (and inherent support)? Furthermore, our political leaders have stated that "Gadhafi must go," but they altered their pronouncements upon recognizing that ousting Gadhafi might not be achievable under the use-of-force rules set by the United Nations Security Council resolution.

Other unstated coalition goals likely relate to the fact that it is in the national interests of Britain and France to have continued access to Libyan oil. Disruption of the status quo in the Arab world may also work for or against the interests of Israel. So one's view of the desired outcome in Libya can hinge on factors independent of the best interests of the Libyan rebels. Failure to precisely define the objectives of military operations can lead to confusion regarding the best ways and means to achieve them.

Fortunately, because of the relative strength of the competing militaries, it may be possible to live with the current lack of focused political leadership.

The forces supporting Gadhafi are vulnerable to coalition air operations due to their weaknesses, the terrain and the weather. This was evident from the ease with which the coalition seized control of the air. While the coalition leaders announced that they will not provide air support to rebel ground forces, they have already done so during very effective operations at Ajdabiya. Finally, the command of air operations is coordinated but diffused, a situation that could not be tolerated if confronted by a more capable opponent.

U.N., NATO, European, Arab League and U.S. leaders may yet come to agreement on the objectives of our military operations in Libya. They are likely to include the need to protect civilians, replace the Gadhafi regime, and be willing to accept the uncertain end state that will come about.

In Afghanistan, we demonstrated that an inferior indigenous ground force can prevail if supported by modern air power. In Kosovo, we saw an undefeated Serbian army depart because of effective air power alone.

Air power in support of rebel ground forces can defeat Gadhafi's fielded forces. This will require putting tactical air-control parties on the ground to advise the rebel forces and control air strikes. This will also result in civilian casualties, an unfortunate side effect of any armed conflict. It may also result in an end state that we may come to regret. At a minimum, failure to define the operational objectives could result in the protracted conflict Gadhafi promised.

But the shooting has started, and now we must seek a strategy to end it. The Libyan army relies more on artillery and armor than on air power. The "no-fly zone" concept of operations deceptively promised to end civilian suffering but did not provide the range of options needed for coalition forces to do it. Apparently, the rebel forces are not capable of defeating the forces loyal to Gadhafi in the absence of overwhelming air support. It may not be sporting to take out tanks with precision munitions dropped from a stealth bomber above 25,000 feet, but it is effective.

Failure to fully unleash air power will allow Gadhafi to play for time, exploit tribal loyalties, and otherwise frustrate the coalition's attempts to protect Libyan civilians. The actions to date against Gadhafi have failed to bring about the desired end state. The start of this war was characterized by half-measures, ill-defined thinking, and conflicting political objectives. Now, to end it, we need to build on our remaining strengths.

Gen. Horner (Air Force, ret.) commanded coalition air forces during Desert Shield and Desert Storm and flew F-16 sorties in the southern no-fly zone over Iraq.

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