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26051  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Internet and related technology on: February 22, 2011, 01:54:22 PM
CCP:  That is very interesting.  I consider changing my position on this subject.
26052  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Other Arab countries on: February 22, 2011, 09:11:11 AM
What a pathetic statement yesterday from Secy Clinton on Libya-- in contrast to BO et al on Mubarak, she simply denounced "violence" as Kadaffy Duck starts gunning his people down.
26053  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: February 22, 2011, 09:09:34 AM
Kostas:

Glad to have you with us to help evaluate the article about Greece and to aid our understanding of your country.

BTW, I hereby nominate you for the Understatement of the Year Award:

"Obama is perceived as not quite so ready to resort to military action, as was his predecessor and those around him (Cheney, et al)."

 cheesy

26054  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: February 21, 2011, 11:52:35 PM
Your general point about ISI is well-taken, but here the article says it was US government officials.  Do you doubt the POTH on this point?  And, if not, who the hell on our team would want to leak this? Qui bono?!?
26055  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: American History on: February 21, 2011, 11:49:39 PM
Very much so.  An imperfect student in these things that I value so highly, I am grateful for your extensive knowledge and perspective in these matters and your integrity in how you present the various POVs.
26056  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Libya on: February 21, 2011, 04:31:52 PM
 
   
Dispatch: Crisis in Libya
February 21, 2011 | 1856 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:



Analyst Reva Bhalla examines Libya’s spreading unrest and the threat of civil war.

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

Libya is facing its biggest internal crisis to date with reports trickling out of the country indicating that unrest is now spreading to the capital of Tripoli. Government buildings are being attacked, prisons are being broken into and energy firms like BP are evacuating their personnel.

The ability of the Libyan regime to hold itself together depends on two key factors: the loyalty of the tribes and the loyalty the army to the regime. Now those are the two factors that are the most in flux and the threat of civil war is thus very real.

Late last night, one of Gadhafi sons Seif al-Islam gave a long, rambling and impromptu speech in which he said that Libya is not another Egypt or Tunisia and that his father Moammar Gadhafi, who has ruled the country for more than four decades, is not another Ben Ali are Mubarak. In other words, Seif al-Islam was saying that the military is not about to drop the regime’s leader and Gadhafi was not about to flee the country. But Seif al-Islam has long been at odds with the military old guard of the regime and thus he can’t be seen as the one to necessarily hold the army together. Saif al-Islam has long avoided the political spotlight preferring to use his charity organization to push for ideas on political, social and economic reforms, which he saw as the key to the long-term survivability of the regime.

For a long time, however, Seif al-Islam and his allies like the National Oil Company Chairman Shokri Ghanem have been pushed against a wall by the military old guard, which is led by his brother Mutassim, the national security advisor who has the trust of many within the army elite. Now with the country in crisis, Seif al-Islam is trying to present himself as the untarnished face of the regime, but with reports of unrest now spreading to the capitol of Tripoli, it seems as though many Libyans just view Seif al-Islam as another Gadhafi that needs to be ousted.

The problem with that scenario is that there is no real alternative to the Gadhafi regime that has ruled for more than four decades. This is not a situation like Egypt or even Tunisia where the Army as an institution is in a position to step in and seize control of the situation. In fact there are already signs of the Army splitting, with reports of army defections in the East, where the regime has had a lot of trouble holding onto support in the past and with reports of even the army chief being placed under house arrest. If the regime can not pull the loyalty the army, then power in the country falls to the tribes, many of which have already reportedly been turning on the regime in the past couple days. Seif al-Islam specifically warned in his speech that the fall of the regime could lead to civil war. Given how serious the situation has become and given the signs of the army splitting, that is a threat should be taken very seriously.

 
26057  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: February 21, 2011, 04:28:13 PM
Praying for insight into a pattern , , ,
26058  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Anti-RFID wallet on: February 21, 2011, 04:25:16 PM


http://www.stewartstand.com/pages/rfid-blocking
26059  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: American History on: February 21, 2011, 04:18:19 PM
Thank you BD.

May I ask you please to expand upon the basis for thinking Lincoln's waging of the war unconstitutional?
26060  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How does Pravda on the Hudson know this, and why on: February 21, 2011, 04:15:21 PM
are they publishing it?

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Mon, February 21, 2011 -- 12:14 PM ET
-----

American Held in Pakistan Shootings Worked With the C.I.A.

The American arrested in Pakistan after shooting two men at a
crowded traffic stop was part of a covert, C.I.A.-led team of
operatives conducting surveillance on militant groups deep
inside the country, according to American government
officials.

Working from a safe house in the eastern city of Lahore, the
detained American contractor, Raymond A. Davis, a retired
Special Forces soldier, carried out scouting and other
reconnaissance missions for a Central Intelligence Agency
task force of case officers and technical surveillance
experts, the officials said.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/22/world/asia/22pakistan.html?emc=na
26061  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: February 21, 2011, 04:12:59 PM
I will keep my eye out for more on this man.
26062  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Padilla's Bivens based claim loses on: February 21, 2011, 11:23:18 AM
Judicial modesty in the war on terror is rare, so it's a pleasure to highlight this week's vindication of the principle that government officials can't be sued for their national security decisions. South Carolina District Judge Richard Mark Gergel dismissed all claims against a group of Bush Administration officials, including Donald Rumseld and Robert Gates, in a case brought by a terrorist and his lawyers at the ACLU and the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School.

Jose Padilla was arrested in Chicago in 2002 amid a suspected plot to detonate a dirty bomb on U.S. soil. President Bush named him an enemy combatant—a decision that was exhaustively litigated, and the Bush Justice Department won in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2006 Padilla was transferred into civilian custody, granted every due process protection, convicted in a Miami court, sentenced to 17 years—and then filed civil lawsuits from his maximum-security prison cell claiming his constitutional rights had been violated.

Congress has never created a private right of action for damages against government officials for alleged constitutional deprivations, so Padilla and his white-shoe lawyers sued under the Supreme Court's 1971 Bivens decision. Bivens applied to an unlawful search, but since the mid-1980s the courts have declined to apply this standard to new contexts. In order to create new remedies, judges have to find extraordinary circumstances and then weigh the costs to government institutions and society at large.

Judge Gergel declined, writing that "one could easily imagine a massive discovery assault on the intelligence agencies of the United States Government," including subpoenas and depositions of officials with the highest national-security clearances. Litigation, he writes, risks exposing intelligence sources and methods and "A trial on the merits would be an international spectacle with Padilla, a convicted terrorist, summoning America's present and former leaders to a federal courthouse to answer his charges."

That is precisely the goal of the legal anti-antiterror left, which is using sham tort claims to intimidate anyone who believes terrorists should be treated differently than common criminals. Their goal is to abuse the courts to bankrupt the Bush officials who played key roles in the war on terror—the only option left for them, having failed to persuade a Democratic Congress and now even President Obama. Since our friends on the left will want to know, we don't mind reporting that Judge Gergel was nominated by Mr. Obama.

The reason government officials have broad legal immunity (save for criminal acts) is so they can carry out their duties in the best interest of the country without fear of personal liability. If political appointees can be sued later for their decisions, the government will be run by trial lawyers, not elected officials. Yet Padilla's lawsuit on similar grounds against former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo was waved through by a California district court and is now on appeal before the Ninth Circuit.

Judge Gergel deserves credit for choking off this agenda before it does any more damage, but Mr. Yoo may not be so lucky given the political inclinations on the left coast. We'll decline to speculate on the reasons so many in the media and political class seem to favor a terrorist who keeps losing over a former official who acted in good faith to defend America.

26063  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Morocco on: February 21, 2011, 11:17:47 AM
By MARC CHAMPION
Five people died as a result of looting that accompanied demonstrations demanding changes to the constitution in Morocco, the country's interior minister said Monday, as the thousand year old North African monarchy became the latest government subject to demands for greater democracy that are sweeping the region.

The protests attracted 37,000 people around the country Sunday and were generally peaceful, Interior Minister M. Taieb Cherqaoui said at a press conference. He said looters had damaged more than 100 buildings, including a bank in the port town of Al Hoceima, where five people died in a fire. He also said 128 people were wounded, mostly police. It wasn't possible to verify those figures independently Monday.

Several thousand people rallied in Moroccan cities on Sunday demanding political reform and limits on the powers of King Mohammed VI, the latest protests demanding change that have rocked the region. Video courtesy of AFP.

In Rabat, the capital, a crowd of as many as 10,000 people marched through the streets Sunday chanting: "Down with autocracy" and "The people want to change the constitution," as well as slogans against the government, corruption and state television.

Smaller crowds also gathered in Casablanca, the nation's business center. Video clips uploaded to Youtube overnight showed what purported to be protesters in Tangier, Fes, Marrakesh and other cities. A clip from Al Hoceima, a port in northern Morocco, showed a building gutted by fire and young men milling around among broken glass from the blown-out windows. A clip from Sefrou, near Tangier, showed a group of police severely beating one protester with clubs.

Morocco is one of the last of the so-called Maghreb countries of Northern Africa where protesters have taken to the streets in the wake of the fall of Tunisia's president this year, and many analysts had predicted it would prove an exception.

Indeed, as protests began Sunday, there was virtually no visible uniformed police presence in Rabat. By 4 p.m., there was no sign of the state violence witnessed in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain or Iran, and the crowd had dwindled to around 1,000.

Stores were largely unshuttered and cafés open along the protesters' route toward the parliament, as patrons watched from their sidewalk tables sipping café au lait in the partly Francophone capital.

Yet Sunday's demonstrations, triggered as in Egypt by a Facebook campaign, underscore the potential for political tension. Morocco has seen some steps toward democracy over the past decade, including two elections that international observers declared largely free and fair, but most powers remain with the king and his appointees.

A crowd that included Islamists, leftists carrying Che Guevara banners and the apolitical uniformly stopped short of calling for the removal of King Mohammed VI. The king, who took the throne in 1999 and dramatically improved Morocco's once notorious record on torture, as well as on women's rights and some other areas, is widely popular. There were similar protests Sunday in Casablanca, Morocco's much larger business center.

Protesters march during a protest and wave the Moroccan flag in Rabat, Morocco Sunday Feb. 20, 2011. At least 2,000 people are marching in Morocco's capital to demand a new constitution that would bring greater democracy in the North African kingdom.
But as elsewhere in the Middle East and the Maghreb, a younger generation is demanding systemic change. If granted, it would transform the distribution of power in this nation of 32 million, stripping influence from what a U.S. diplomat described as Morocco's "monarchical autocracy" in a 2008 U.S. State Department cable published by WikiLeaks.

"People don't take part in elections in Morocco, they are meaningless. We want a monarchy, but like in Spain or England," said Aharahi Fawzi, a 30-year-old IT specialist with a university degree, who has been unemployed for three years—a common complaint in Morocco. Spain and England both have largely ceremonial monarchs who have limited powers.

Bystanders, generally older, looked on with disapproval. "This king works for the people. He has done a lot for the poor," said a 67-year-old who said he was a landscape artist and gave his name only as Mohammed. "I don't know what these young people want, we who are older have seen a lot."

Protest organizers put out a video to promote the demonstrations, in which a group of young people, one after the other, say in a single sentence why they want to take part. The reasons include "so that I can get a job without bribing," and "so we can hold accountable those who ruined this country."

The government's main spokesman had said it looked on the prospect of demonstrations with "serenity." Protests in Morocco are relatively common.

But the government appears to have been rattled. Several government ministers sought to taint protest leaders as foreign agents, homosexuals or other claims in public comments; Twitter campaigns sprang up apparently spontaneously to persuade young people not to attend; and an online rumor was spread that the protests had been canceled. Protest organizers put out a second video to counter that rumor.

Many diplomats and analysts, as well as ratings agencies, have predicted that Morocco would prove the least susceptible country in the region to unrest, a prediction still supported by Sunday's light police presence. They cited the comparative tolerance of a regime where thousands of nonprofit organizations operate freely, and where there have been relatively free elections over the past decade.

"This just isn't the same country as 10-15 years ago," said Robert M. Holley, a retired U.S. diplomat and executive director of the American Moroccan Center for Policy, a lobby in Washington, D.C. "The point is that if people want to change the government in Morocco, they just have to wait a couple of years until elections and do it."

Morocco scores the highest of all countries in the region on Freedom House's indexes of political representation and civil liberties. At the same time it scores among the lowest on economic indicators, ranking 114th in the 2010 United Nations Human Development Report, compared with Egypt at 101st, and Bahrain at 39th. Morocco's gross national income per capita of $2,770 and literacy rate 56%, according to World Bank data, are particularly low. Libya, Iran, Jordan and Bahrain have GNI per capita ranging from $4,000 to $25,000, and all have literacy rates above 80%.

There is growing frustration at the slow, and some say slowing, pace of political reform in Morocco. Though parliaments are elected, the king appoints the prime minister, as well as the ministers of justice, foreign affairs, defense, interior and religious affairs, as well as all regional governors. He also has the right to block laws.

As a result, election turnouts have fallen steadily, dropping to 37% at the 2007 parliamentary elections, from 58% 10 years earlier. Similarly the PJD, an Islamist party that chose to participate in the democratic process and didn't take part in Sunday's demonstrations, has lost support to the harder-line Justice & Charity movement.

"People in the U.S. and Europe always say Morocco is free. But if you look here, it isn't true. We want real elections where the people get to choose what they want," said Nabil, a 24-year-old protester and supporter of Justice & Charity, who declined to give his surname. He said he feared reprisal.

26064  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We hope this is true! on: February 21, 2011, 11:11:45 AM
From the Op-ed page of today's POTH:

IT is hard to tell when momentum shifts in a counterinsurgency campaign, but there is increasing evidence that Afghanistan is moving in a more positive direction than many analysts think. It now seems more likely than not that the country can achieve the modest level of stability and self-reliance necessary to allow the United States to responsibly draw down its forces from 100,000 to 25,000 troops over the next four years.

The shift is most obvious on the ground. The additional 30,000 troops promised by President Obama in his speech at West Point 14 months ago are finally in place and changing the trajectory of the fight.

One of us, Nathaniel, recently flew into Camp Leatherneck in a C-130 transport plane, which had to steer clear of fighter bombers stacked for tens of thousands of feet above the Sangin District of Helmand Province, in southwestern Afghanistan. Singly and in pairs, the jets swooped low to drop their bombs in support of Marine units advancing north through the Helmand River Valley.

Half of the violence in Afghanistan takes place in only 9 of its nearly 400 districts, with Sangin ranking among the very worst. Slowly but surely, even in Sangin, the Taliban are being driven from their sanctuaries as the coalition focuses on protecting the Afghan people in key population centers and hubs of economic activity, and along the roads that connect them. Once these areas are cleared, it will be possible to hold them with Afghan troops and a few American advisers — allowing the United States to thin its deployments over time.

A significant shift of high-tech intelligence resources from Iraq to Afghanistan, initiated by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former top commander, is also having benefits. The coalition led by the United States and NATO has been able to capture or kill far more Taliban leaders in nighttime raids than was possible in the past.

The United States certainly can’t kill its way to victory, as it learned in Vietnam and Iraq, but it can put enough pressure on many Taliban fighters to encourage them to switch their allegiance, depriving the enemy of support and giving the coalition more sources of useful intelligence.

Afghan Army troop strength has increased remarkably. The sheer scale of the effort at the Kabul Military Training Center has to be seen to be appreciated. Rows of new barracks surround a blue-domed mosque, and live-fire training ranges stretched to the mountains on the horizon.

It was a revelation to watch an Afghan squad, only days from deployment to Paktika Province on the Pakistani border, demonstrate a fire-and-maneuver exercise before jogging over to chat with American visitors. When asked, each soldier said that he had joined the Army to serve Afghanistan. Most encouraging of all was the response to a question that resonates with 18- and 19-year-old soldiers everywhere: how does your mother feel? “Proud.”

These changes on the ground have been reinforced by progress on three strategic and political problems that have long stymied our plans.

The first is uncertainty about how long America and its allies will remain committed to the fight. The question is still open, but President Obama and the NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, have effectively moved the planned troop withdrawal date from July 2011 to at least 2014, with surprisingly little objection. Congress and the American public seem to have digested without a murmur the news that far fewer troops will be withdrawn in 2011 than will remain. NATO is not collapsing because of Afghanistan. In fact, the International Security Assistance Force continues to grow, with one-quarter of the world’s countries on the ground in Afghanistan with the United States.

Two more vexing problems are the corruption of the Afghan government and the complicity of some Pakistanis with the insurgency. While it is safe to assume that neither the Afghan nor Pakistani leaders will fundamentally alter their policies any time soon, we are changing ours. Previously, our policy options with Presidents Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Asif Ali Zardari were limited to public hectoring and private pleading, usually to little effect.

Now, however, the coalition’s military and civilian leaders are taking a new approach to the Afghan and Pakistani governments. We are establishing a task force to investigate and expose corruption in the Afghan government, under the leadership of Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster. We are also shoring up the parts of the border that the Taliban uses by thickening the line with Afghan forces, putting up more drones and coordinating more closely with Pakistani border guards.

Not since the deterioration in conditions in Iraq that drew our attention away from Afghanistan have coalition forces been in such a strong position to force the enemy to the negotiating table. We should hold fast and work for the day when Afghanistan, and our vital interests there, can be safeguarded primarily by Afghans.

That day is coming, faster than many Americans think.


Nathaniel Fick, a former Marine captain, is the chief executive of the Center for a New American Security. John Nagl, a former Army lieutenant colonel, is the president of the center.


26065  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A useless editorial from POTH (Pravda on the Hudson) on: February 21, 2011, 11:08:56 AM


With the Middle East roiling, the alarming news about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons buildup has gotten far too little attention. The Times recently reported that American intelligence agencies believe Pakistan has between 95 and more than 110 deployed nuclear weapons, up from the mid-to-high 70s just two years ago.

Related
Times Topic: PakistanPakistan can’t feed its people, educate its children, or defeat insurgents without billions of dollars in foreign aid. Yet, with China’s help, it is now building a fourth nuclear reactor to produce more weapons fuel.

Even without that reactor, experts say, it has already manufactured enough fuel for 40 to 100 additional weapons. That means Pakistan — which claims to want a minimal credible deterrent — could soon possess the world’s fifth-largest arsenal, behind the United States, Russia, France and China but ahead of Britain and India. Washington and Moscow, with thousands of nuclear weapons each, still have the most weapons by far, but at least they are making serious reductions.

Washington could threaten to suspend billions of dollars of American aid if Islamabad does not restrain its nuclear appetites. But that would hugely complicate efforts in Afghanistan and could destabilize Pakistan.

The truth is there is no easy way to stop the buildup, or that of India and China. Slowing and reversing that arms race is essential for regional and global security. Washington must look for points of leverage and make this one of its strategic priorities.

The ultimate nightmare, of course, is that the extremists will topple Pakistan’s government and get their hands on the nuclear weapons. We also don’t rest easy contemplating the weakness of Pakistan’s civilian leadership, the power of its army and the bitterness of the country’s rivalry with nuclear-armed India.

The army claims to need more nuclear weapons to deter India’s superior conventional arsenal. It seems incapable of understanding that the real threat comes from the Taliban and other extremists.

The biggest game-changer would be for Pakistan and India to normalize diplomatic and economic relations. The two sides recently agreed to resume bilateral talks suspended after the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. There is a long way to go.

India insists that it won’t accept an outside broker. There is a lot the Obama administration can do quietly to press the countries to work to settle differences over Afghanistan and the disputed region of Kashmir. Pakistan must do a lot more to stop insurgents who target India.

Washington also needs to urge the two militaries to start talking, and urge the two governments to begin exploring ways to lessen the danger of an accidental nuclear war — with more effective hotlines and data exchanges — with a long-term goal of arms-control negotiations.

Washington and its allies must also continue to look for ways to get Pakistan to stop blocking negotiations on a global ban on fissile material production.

The world, especially this part of the world, is a dangerous enough place these days. It certainly doesn’t need any more nuclear weapons.

26066  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / NYTimes: Duerson's suicide message on: February 21, 2011, 11:01:27 AM
When the former football player Andre Waters shot himself in the head in late 2006, the few recoverable pieces of brain tissue, which later showed the same degenerative disease previously associated only with boxers, made the health risks of football a national conversation.

Football’s ramifications so concerned the former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson that, after deciding to kill himself last Thursday, he shot himself in the chest, apparently so that his brain could remain intact for similar examination.
This intent, strongly implied by text messages Duerson sent to family members soon before his death, has injected a new degree of fear in the minds of many football players and their families, according to interviews with them Sunday. To this point, the roughly 20 N.F.L. veterans found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy — several of whom committed suicide — died unaware of the disease clawing at their brains, how the protein deposits and damaged neurons contributed to their condition.

Duerson, 50, was the first player to die after implying that brain trauma experienced on the football field would be partly responsible for his death.

Retired and current players roundly noted on Sunday that they could not know what Duerson’s mind-set was and what other events in his life had contributed to his actions. Yet the gunshot from Duerson’s home in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., and the final wishes for his brain shook players around the nation.

“Oh my God — he might have been aware of what was happening to himself?” the former Giants running back Tiki Barber said when informed of the circumstances. After taking a moment to collect himself, Barber continued: “It feels like this was calculated and thought-out to some extent. It was almost with a purpose.”

Randy Cross, a former San Francisco 49ers lineman, said, “It ought to terrify anyone that’s played the game.”

Players who began their careers knowing the likely costs to their knees and shoulders are only now learning about the cognitive risks, too. After years of denying or discrediting evidence of football’s impact on the brain — from C.T.E. in deceased players to an increasing number of retirees found to have dementia or other memory-related disease — the N.F.L. has spent the last year addressing the issue, mostly through changes in concussion management and playing rules.

The N.F.L. has also donated $1 million to Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, the research group that will soon examine Duerson’s brain.

Duerson sent text messages to his family before he shot himself specifically requesting that his brain be examined for damage, two people aware of the messages said. Another person close to Duerson, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Duerson had commented to him in recent months that he might have C.T.E., an incurable disease linked to depression, impaired impulse control and cognitive decline. Members of Duerson’s family declined an interview request through a family friend.

Duerson was a four-time Pro Bowl safety, primarily for the Bears. He won Super Bowls with the Bears and the Giants and retired in 1993.

For the past several years, Duerson served on the six-person panel that considers retired players’ claims through the league’s disability plan and the 88 Plan, a fund founded in 2007 to help defray families’ costs of caring for players with dementia. So Duerson would have been familiar with the stories of hundreds of retirees with mental issues ranging from impaired short-term memory to outright dementia.

“You know he’s been sitting in the disability meetings and the applications, so I’m sure he’s seen a lot of disability applications that have to do with brain injury,” said Ben Lynch, a center for the 49ers from 1999 to 2002. “Having seen all those things come across in front of him, and for him to make the request about his brain, it’s something that must have been really on his mind. It’s unbelievable to me that this happened. The fact that he shot himself in chest, and not the head, it’s really eerie.”

Matt Birk, a center for the Baltimore Ravens, is one of 6 current N.F.L. players and 103 in all who have pledged to donate their brain to the Boston University center for analysis after their death. He said that Duerson’s requesting the same before shooting himself in a way punctuated the first era of the investigation.

“It’s almost now to the point that — not that it’s not tragic — but now it’s almost becoming common, some former players with some form of brain problems,” Birk said. “Is it something that I think about? Yeah, absolutely. There’s a little bit of, ‘Well, it’s not going to happen to me.’ ”

Duerson was successful in private food-related business after he retired, but he had encountered financial and family problems in recent years. In 2005, he resigned from the Notre Dame board of trustees after he was charged with pushing his wife, Alicia. The next year, he sold most of his company’s assets at auction. In 2007, the Duersons filed for divorce, and their home in Highland Park, Ill., went into foreclosure, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.

Duerson relocated to Florida and remained heavily involved with issues regarding former N.F.L. players. Last spring, he attended a gathering of veterans in Fort Lauderdale held by the Gay Culverhouse Players’ Outreach Program, founded by Culverhouse, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers president, to help league retirees apply for medical and pension benefits. Mitchell Welch, the organization’s vice president, said that when discussion that day turned to the 88 Plan — the program for players with dementia — some veterans’ minds wandered, some appearing as if the topic of mental decline did not apply to them. Duerson walked to the front of the room and asked to say some words to the players, which Welch, in an interview Sunday, said he now would never forget.

“I’m Dave Duerson,” Welch recalled Duerson saying. “Pay attention to what this guy’s telling you. Because it’s stuff you’re going to need to know.”
26067  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Tunisia on: February 21, 2011, 10:56:14 AM
An interesting report squarely on point of the subject of this thread , , , from a suspect source cheesy
==========================

TUNIS — The Tunisian revolution that overthrew decades of authoritarian rule has entered a delicate new phase in recent days over the role of Islam in politics. Tensions mounted here last week when military helicopters and security forces were called in to carry out an unusual mission: protecting the city’s brothels from a mob of zealots.

Police officers dispersed a group of rock-throwing protesters who streamed into a warren of alleyways lined with legally sanctioned bordellos shouting, “God is great!” and “No to brothels in a Muslim country!”

Five weeks after protesters forced out the country’s dictator, President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisians are locked in a fierce and noisy debate about how far, or even whether, Islamism should be infused into the new government.

About 98 percent of the population of 10 million is Muslim, but Tunisia’s liberal social policies and Western lifestyle shatter stereotypes of the Arab world. Abortion is legal, polygamy is banned and women commonly wear bikinis on the country’s Mediterranean beaches. Wine is openly sold in supermarkets and imbibed at bars across the country.

Women’s groups say they are concerned that in the cacophonous aftermath of the revolution, conservative forces could tug the country away from its strict tradition of secularism.

“Nothing is irreversible,” said Khadija Cherif, a former head of the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women, a feminist organization. “We don’t want to let down our guard.”

Ms. Cherif was one of thousands of Tunisians who marched through Tunis, the capital, on Saturday demanding the separation of mosque and state in one of the largest demonstrations since the overthrow of Mr. Ben Ali.

Protesters held up signs saying, “Politics ruins religion and religion ruins politics.”

They were also mourning the killing on Friday of a Polish priest by unknown attackers. That assault was also condemned by the country’s main Muslim political movement, Ennahdha, or Renaissance, which was banned under Mr. Ben Ali’s dictatorship but is now regrouping.

In interviews in the Tunisian news media, Ennahdha’s leaders have taken pains to praise tolerance and moderation, comparing themselves to the Islamic parties that govern Turkey and Malaysia.

“We know we have an essentially fragile economy that is very open toward the outside world, to the point of being totally dependent on it,” Hamadi Jebali, the party’s secretary general, said in an interview with the Tunisian magazine Réalités. “We have no interest whatsoever in throwing everything away today or tomorrow.”

The party, which is allied with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, says it opposes the imposition of Islamic law in Tunisia.

But some Tunisians say they remain unconvinced.

Raja Mansour, a bank employee in Tunis, said it was too early to tell how the Islamist movement would evolve.

“We don’t know if they are a real threat or not,” she said. “But the best defense is to attack.” By this she meant that secularists should assert themselves, she said.

Ennahdha is one of the few organized movements in a highly fractured political landscape. The caretaker government that has managed the country since Mr. Ben Ali was ousted is fragile and weak, with no clear leadership emerging from the revolution.

The unanimity of the protest movement against Mr. Ben Ali in January, the uprising that set off demonstrations across the Arab world, has since evolved into numerous daily protests by competing groups, a development that many Tunisians find unsettling.

“Freedom is a great, great adventure, but it’s not without risks,” said Fathi Ben Haj Yathia, an author and former political prisoner. “There are many unknowns.”

One of the largest demonstrations since Mr. Ben Ali fled took place on Sunday in Tunis, where several thousand protesters marched to the prime minister’s office to demand the caretaker government’s resignation. They accused it of having links to Mr. Ben Ali’s government.

Tunisians are debating the future of their country on the streets. Avenue Habib Bourguiba, the broad thoroughfare in central Tunis named after the country’s first president, resembles a Roman forum on weekends, packed with people of all ages excitedly discussing politics.

The freewheeling and somewhat chaotic atmosphere across the country has been accompanied by a breakdown in security that has been particularly unsettling for women. With the extensive security apparatus of the old government decimated, leaving the police force in disarray, many women now say they are afraid to walk outside alone at night.

Achouri Thouraya, a 29-year-old graphic artist, says she has mixed feelings toward the revolution.

She shared in the joy of the overthrow of what she described as Mr. Ben Ali’s kleptocratic government. But she also says she believes that the government’s crackdown on any Muslim groups it considered extremist, a draconian police program that included monitoring those who prayed regularly, helped protect the rights of women.

“We had the freedom to live our lives like women in Europe,” she said.

But now Ms. Thouraya said she was a “little scared.”

She added, “We don’t know who will be president and what attitudes he will have toward women.”

Mounir Troudi, a jazz musician, disagrees. He has no love for the former Ben Ali government, but said he believed that Tunisia would remain a land of beer and bikinis.

“This is a maritime country,” Mr. Troudi said. “We are sailors, and we’ve always been open to the outside world. I have confidence in the Tunisian people. It’s not a country of fanatics.”

26068  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington's slaves on: February 21, 2011, 10:52:27 AM
Now, there is a pithy rejoinder!  cheesy

Anyway, posting this piece from POTH/NY Times, but the main subject presented on this thread at the moment should remain the Napolitano piece:
=============
MOUNT VERNON, George Washington’s bucolic estate in Northern Virginia, has been an American shrine since his death in 1799. But after the Civil War, when its historic restoration began, the image of the first president began to be outshone by that of the 16th, Abraham Lincoln.

True, Washington’s portrait still adorned classrooms from Maine to Mississippi, and his birthday remained an unofficial national holiday. But Washington seemed “formal, statue-like, a figure for exhibition,” wrote Representative Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio, the future president, who visited Mount Vernon in 1866.

Lincoln, on the other hand, appeared more human, a man who had paid with his life to reunify the country and free millions of slaves. “Lincoln is overshadowing Washington,” Hayes declared.

Today, of course, Washington is again at the center of the presidential pantheon. For that he can thank an unlikely group of allies: former slaves who worked at Mount Vernon in the late 19th century and who helped shape our modern beliefs about him — but only by hiding his complicated views on slavery behind the illusion of an Old South plantation.

Everything about the restored Mount Vernon was designed to render Washington a noble but approachable figure. Visitors could wander through his dining room and peer into the second-story bedchamber where he died. Another floor up, they saw the room where Martha Washington supposedly spent the rest of her life after his death, gazing out the window at her beloved husband’s gravesite.

The estate was governed by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association of the Union, but much of the daily work was performed by African-Americans who had been owned by Washington’s descendants. They guarded the premises, sold souvenirs and refreshments and spoke with visitors about bygone days.

Gray-haired Edmund Parker, who had been brought to Mount Vernon as a teenage slave in 1841, stood at the tomb, recounting Washington’s last days and the history of his final resting place. At the old kitchen, Parker’s niece Sarah Johnson sold glasses of milk.

Parker, Johnson and others fostered an image of Mount Vernon as an antebellum Eden, complete with happy, welcoming slaves, an impression that sat well with post-Reconstruction America, where civil rights had taken a back seat to sectional reconciliation.

Living links to the past, they held forth with visitors on a range of subjects — but not the painful realities of slavery. Parker never mentioned the grueling field labor he had once performed, or that he had run away to Union lines during the Civil War. Sarah Johnson didn’t explain that Washington’s heirs had sold her and her 6-month-old child in the first year of the war.

And they did not disclose that their ancestors had not belonged to Washington at all; rather, they had come to Mount Vernon after the president died, brought by Washington’s nephew and great-nephews, who had inherited the place. When asked about their origins, the former slaves would simply reply, “Belonged to the family.”

These and other omissions helped paper over Washington’s views on slavery, including his hope that the institution would one day disappear. Black employees sold copies of his last will and testament, but they never mentioned that Washington had used that will to free his own slaves.

However, if Parker and Johnson played down Washington’s anti-slavery legacy for white visitors, they honored it privately by building new, financially secure lives for themselves. When Hayes returned as president for an overnight stay in 1878, Johnson served him a simple meal in Washington’s small dining room. Earlier that day, she and her husband had managed the estate’s crowded lunchroom, coordinating a team of waiters and collecting money.

A few miles off the historic grounds, the black employees of Mount Vernon sent their children to public school, attended a new church and shopped for staples in town. And they saved their earnings to purchase land of their own: when Johnson left Mount Vernon in 1892, she owned four acres just up the road.

Washington probably would have appreciated the sight of freed slaves pursuing their own goals on his estate. As an innovative farmer and astute observer of human nature, he had no wish to make Mount Vernon a shrine to a bygone past. He might instead have challenged white tourists to question why, in an era of supposed racial equality, its black employees felt the need to mask their life stories and aspirations behind a veil of old-style servitude.

The new Mount Vernon humanized Washington, but only by eclipsing the true meaning of him and his home for a changing nation: not a refuge from modernity but an incubator of it.


Scott Casper, a professor of history at the University of Nevada, Reno, is the author of “Sarah Johnson’s Mount Vernon: The Forgotten History of an American Shrine.”


26069  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Libya on: February 21, 2011, 10:38:53 AM
Clashes In Tripoli
February 21, 2011 | 1118 GMT
Emerging reports early Feb. 21 indicate the unrest in Libya might have spread from eastern Libya to the capital of Tripoli. According to initial reports, heavy gunfire was heard in central Tripoli and in other districts with Al Jazeera reporting 61 people killed in Tripoli on Feb. 21. Other unconfirmed reports say that protesters attacked the headquarters of Al-Jamahiriya Two television and Al-Shababia as well as other government buildings in Tripoli overnight. According to Saudi-owned al-Arabiya, the government-owned People’s Conference Centre where the General People’s Congress (parliament) meets when it is in session in Tripoli was set on fire. U.K. energy firm British Petroleum reportedly said it would evacuate its personnel from Libya and suspend its activities due to massive unrest. Spain’s Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez said on Feb. 21 that the EU member states are coordinating possible evacuations of European nationals from Libya. A Turkish Airlines flight was arranged to evacuate Turkish citizens from Benghazi but was denied the opportunity to land by Libyan authorities and returned to Turkey.

Details are sketchy as to the number of protesters and severity of the clashes in Tripoli. Clashes have been going on between the protesters and security forces in mostly eastern cities of the country and in Benghazi in particular, where opposition against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is concentrated. Signs of protests spreading to Tripoli emerged late Feb. 20 and apparently intensified following a speech made by Ghaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam In that speech, Seif al-Islam was attempting to present himself as the new and untarnished face of the regime, reiterating the political, social and economic reforms that he has long advocated were needed to hold Libya’s tribal society together. Though in his speech Seif al-Islam carefully distanced himself from old-regime tactics, protesters in Tripoli reportedly rejected the young Libyan leader and began chanting slogans against Seif al-Islam’s address.

Critically, Seif al-Islam implied in his speech that he had the the approval of his father and elements within the military, and that the army and national guard would be relied on to crack down on “seditious elements” spreading unrest. However, unconfirmed reports of army defections in Benghazi and Baida in eastern Libya from Feb. 20 and now spreading unrest to Tripoli Feb. 21 is casting some doubt on the regime’s ability to count on the full loyalty and ability of the army to contain the situation.

26070  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Support our troops on: February 21, 2011, 10:33:06 AM


https://www.saluteheroesproject.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=87&custom_1=CHR7NAAE&custom_3=E073P
26071  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Napolitano on: February 21, 2011, 10:25:05 AM
Is Napolitano correct that the C. was formed by the States?  Or was it formed by the American people?  Is the claim that slavery in The South was susceptible to withering away as it did elsewhere correct?  Was succession triggered by the entry of non-slave states into the Union, thus leading slave states to demand more slave states?  What of the federalism principles in light of the Dred Scott decision's imposition of requiring northern states to enforce southern slave claims within their (northern) territories?

Maybe BigDog will weigh in here , , ,
===============================
Judge Napolitano on Lincoln
by Thomas J. DiLorenzo

The recent discussions in the media about Ron Paul's comments regarding Lincoln and his political legacy got me to thinking, wouldn't it be great if Judge Andrew Napolitano, the Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst, would weigh in on the subject. I had this thought because Judge Napolitano included a chapter entitled "Dishonest Abe" in his brilliant book, The Constitution in Exile. Judge Napolitano is a very busy man, hosting a radio show as well as appearing on television, making speeches all around the country, writing books, and practicing law — in addition to (hopefully) having a private family life. Since I am a big fan of his writing I thought I would try to pique our readers' interest in what the judge has to say on this subject.
The first two sentences of the "Dishonest Abe" chapter of The Constitution in Exile are hard hitting: "The Abraham Lincoln of legend is an honest man who freed the slaves and saved the Union. Few things could be more misleading." He then goes on to say exactly what Ron Paul told the Washington Post, and which seemed to mystify and confuse Tim Russert in his "Meet the Press" interview with Congressman Paul: "In order to increase his federalist vision of centralized power, ‘Honest' Abe misled the nation into an unnecessary war. He claimed that the war was about emancipating slaves, but he could have simply paid slave owners to free their slaves . . . . The bloodiest war in American history could have been avoided." And, as Ron Paul would likely add, all the other countries of the world that ended slavery in the nineteenth century, including Britain, Spain, France, Denmark, the Dutch, did so without a war. This, by the way, included the Northern states in the U.S. There were no "civil wars" to free the slaves in Massachusetts, New York (where slavery existed for over 200 years), or Illinois.
Lincoln's "actions were unconstitutional and he knew it," writes Napolitano, for "the rights of the states to secede from the Union . . . [are] clearly implicit in the Constitution, since it was the states that ratified the Constitution . . ." Lincoln's view "was a far departure from the approach of Thomas Jefferson, who recognized states' rights above those of the Union." Judge Napolitano also reminds his readers that the issue of using force to keep a state in the union was in fact debated — and rejected — at the Constitutional Convention as part of the "Virginia Plan."
He also discusses Lincoln's Confiscation Act of 1862, under which "any slaves behind the Union lines were captives of war who were to be freed and transported to countries in the tropics. This was in keeping with Dishonest Abe's lifelong position (his "White Dream," according to Ebony magazine managing editor Lerone Bennett, Jr, author of Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream) of deporting all blacks from the U.S. "Colonization" was the euphemism that was used for this.
"The Confiscation Acts," writes Judge Napolitano, "show that Lincoln did not have much concern for the slaves. He did not suggest to Congress that freed slaves should be granted civil rights or citizenship in Northern states. Once the freed slaves were transported out of the United States, they would no longer be Lincoln's problem." This is also why Lincoln tinkered with proposals for compensated emancipation in the border states while they were under U.S. military occupation during the war. These proposals included immediate deportation of any freed slaves. He saw the occupation of the border states during the war as an opportunity to begin ridding the country of "The Africans," as he referred to black people, as though they were from another planet. Judge Napolitano quotes Lincoln in one of his debates with Stephen Douglas as saying what he repeatedly said throughout his adult life: "I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races — that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes." "Lincoln was more concerned about the failure of [the seceding] states to collect tariffs than he was about slavery, " says Napolitano.
Unlike all those hopelessly miseducated neocon pundits who sneered at Ron Paul's statements regarding how Lincoln did tremendous damage to the principles of the American founders, Judge Napolitano is well schooled in constitutional history. He writes of Lincoln's complete trashing of the Constitution by "murdering civilians, declaring martial law, suspending habeas corpus, seizing . . . private property without compensation (including railroads and telegraphs), conducting a war without the consent of Congress, imprisoning nearly thirty thousand Northern citizens without trial, shutting down . . . newspapers, and even deporting a congressman (Clement L. Vallandigham from Ohio) because he objected to the imposition of an income tax."
"Saying that Lincoln abolished slavery and calling him the ‘Great Emancipator' are grossly inadequate mischaracterizations," writes the judge. "Lincoln was interested in promoting his political agenda of centralizing government power, and freeing the slaves was only a means of advancement of that end."
Lincoln destroyed the union of the founding fathers. He "replaced a voluntary association of states with a strong centralized government. The president and his party eagerly lifted the floodgates to the modern thuggish style of ruling that the U.S. government now employs" (emphasis added). This "opened the door to more unconstitutional acts by the government in the 1900s through to today."
The next time you see Lincoln's portrait on a five-dollar bill, the judge concludes, "remember how many civil liberties he took away from you."
26072  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Grannis on: February 21, 2011, 10:13:29 AM
The preceding chart and several more of great interest and clarity are to be found on the most recent entry by Scott Grannis:

http://scottgrannis.blogspot.com/
26073  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion and theocratic politics on: February 21, 2011, 10:01:36 AM
US will become Muslim:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfJD2BvSRkc&feature=youtube_gdata_player+
26074  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gene Prescott; accountant on: February 21, 2011, 09:48:07 AM


http://taxtechcpa.blogspot.com/2011/02/federal-tax-share-by-of-income-over.html
===============================================================
Additional comments from FB:

Joey Rich Let me get this straight. Ten per cent of taxpayers (not citizens in general, but just taxpayers) pay 70% of all income taxes paid. Right? The top 1% (of taxpayers, not of the general population) looks to pay about 40% of income taxes. ...All the while, the top tax rate has actually dropped.

How many "taxpayers" are there in a given year on average? Has that number increased or decreased significantly over that 30 years?See More
3 hours ago · LikeUnlike.Gene Prescott First Part: Yes, top tax rate, alone, does not generate the most tax. More optimum tax rates produce more tax revenue.

Second Part: Due to population and increase in work force, the number of returns would have increased. Due to tax law ...change, many lower earners, are no longer required to file. I'll try to find stats (apt to be 2008 and before).

I changed narrative to correct error on my blog.See More
2 hours ago · LikeUnlike.Joey Rich Thanks! I'm no accountant (although, I have to admit I'm the son of one...LOL).
2 hours ago · LikeUnlike.Gene Prescott It appears that many assume that the "middle" tier of taxpayers contribute the largest portion of total tax revenue.
about an hour ago · LikeUnlike.Joey Rich I hear that a lot...usually from people who want to "soak the rich." I've seen similar numbers to yours before but usually not as clearly laid out.

I would have no idea where to start but it would be interesting to see the total amount of t...axes paid when you combine income taxes, capital gains taxes and sales taxes with things like corporate taxes, which consumers pay for corporations via increased prices and various government fees, the cost of which companies pass on to consumers as well.See More
53 minutes ago · LikeUnlike.Gene Prescott Scott, who generally produces clear graphs, has posted often over time.

http://scottgrannis.blogspot.com/
26075  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Music on: February 21, 2011, 09:39:49 AM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtCfgwTOOrA&feature=player_embedded#at=13
26076  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: R.I.P. C-Desert Dog on: February 21, 2011, 09:29:52 AM
As soon as we have contact info for the family, we will be organizing an effort to raise money through donations as well.
26077  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: May 14-15: "Dog Brothers Tribal Gathering of the Pack" on: February 21, 2011, 09:28:51 AM
 cheesy

You best hope your woman does not read this thread  cheesy
26078  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: February 20, 2011, 07:29:38 PM
Fair enough  grin
26079  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Other Arab countries on: February 20, 2011, 07:28:39 PM
Amen to that!

Also worth noting that the Libyan case would seem to refute the notion that what is going on throughout the region is all a reaction to the US.  Ditto Iran.
26080  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: February 20, 2011, 06:52:11 PM
GM:

Blessing upon you for undertaking this  smiley smiley smiley
26081  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: What are some indications your finger is broken? on: February 20, 2011, 06:49:53 PM
It is his left index finger folks, not a good thing for a righty guitarist shocked
26082  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / R.I.P. C-Desert Dog on: February 20, 2011, 02:10:32 PM
A Sad Howl:

I just received a tragic phone call from Lonely Dog.

C-Desert Dog is dead, at 40-something years old.  He leaves a wife and 3 (?) children.

Information is sparse at this time.  What Lonely told me is that at a light sparring day C-Desert Dog, who always came fit and ready (his stick skill impressed me at the August '10 Gathering) sparred a few matches and, saying he wasn't feeling well, sat down.  I am told that a) it was truly a light sparring day and b) he did not receive any head shots. 

Regardless, shortly thereafter he began to have an elevated pulse and rapid, shallow breathing.  His eyes rolled back in his head and he passed out.  Immediate resuscitation measures were applied.  EMTs were there in 5 minutes and tried reviviing him for two hours, to no avail.

This is all the info we have at present.  C-Desert was a member of Cro Dog's clan in Germany.   I have emailed Cro Dog for additional information.  Lonely and I will be soliciting donations on behalf of the family.

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
GF
26083  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH Progressive Frank Rich on: February 20, 2011, 01:29:29 PM


SIX weeks after that horrific day in Tucson, America has half-forgotten its violent debate over the power of violent speech to incite violence. It’s Gabrielle Giffords’s own power of speech that rightly concerns us now. But all those arguments over political language did leave a discernible legacy. In the aftermath of President Obama’s Tucson sermon, civility has had a mini-restoration in Washington. And some of the most combative national figures in our politics have been losing altitude ever since, much as they did after Bill Clinton’s oratorical response to the inferno of Oklahoma City.

Glenn Beck’s ratings at Fox News continued their steady decline, falling to an all-time low last month. He has lost 39 percent of his viewers in a year and 48 percent of the prime 25-to-54 age demographic. His strenuous recent efforts to portray the Egyptian revolution as an apocalyptic leftist-jihadist conspiracy have inspired more laughs than adherents.

Sarah Palin’s tailspin is also pronounced. It can be seen in polls, certainly: the ABC News-Washington Post survey found that 30 percent of Americans approved of her response to the Tucson massacre and 46 percent did not. (Obama’s numbers in the same poll were 78 percent favorable, 12 percent negative.) But equally telling was the fate of a Palin speech scheduled for May at a so-called Patriots & Warriors Gala in Glendale, Colo.

Tickets to see Palin, announced at $185 on Jan. 16, eight days after Tucson, were slashed to half-price in early February. Then the speech was canceled altogether, with the organizers blaming “safety concerns resulting from an onslaught of negative feedback.” But when The Denver Post sought out the Glendale police chief, he reported there had been no threats or other causes for alarm. The real “negative feedback” may have been anemic ticket sales, particularly if they were to cover Palin’s standard $100,000 fee.

What may at long last be dawning on some Republican grandees is that a provocateur who puts her political adversaries in the cross hairs and then instructs her acolytes to “RELOAD” frightens most voters.

Even the Rupert Murdoch empire shows signs of opting for retreat over reload. Its newest right-wing book imprint had set its splashy debut for Jan. 18, with the rollout of a screed, “Death by Liberalism,” arguing that “more Americans have been killed by well-meaning liberal policies than by all the wars of the last century combined.” But that publication date was 10 days after Tucson, and clearly someone had second thoughts. You’ll look in vain for the usual hype, or mere mentions, of “Death by Liberalism” in other Murdoch media outlets (or anywhere else). Even more unexpectedly, Murdoch’s flagship newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, ran an op-ed essay last week by the reliably conservative Michael Medved trashing over-the-top Obama critiques from Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Dinesh D’Souza as “paranoid” and “destructive to the conservative cause” — the cause defined as winning national elections.

If the next step in this declension is less face time for Palin on Fox News, then we’ll have proof that pigs can fly. But a larger question remains. If the right puts its rabid Obama hatred on the down-low, what will — or can — conservatism stand for instead? The only apparent agendas are repealing “Obamacare” and slashing federal spending as long as the cuts are quarantined to the small percentage of the budget covering discretionary safety-net programs, education and Big Bird.

This shortfall of substance was showcased by last weekend’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, a premier Republican rite that doubles as a cattle call for potential presidential candidates. Palin didn’t appear — CPAC, as the event is known, doesn’t pay — and neither did her fellow Fox News personality Mike Huckabee. But all the others were there, including that great white hope of un-Palin Republicans, Mitt Romney. What they said — and didn’t say — from the CPAC podium not only shows a political opposition running on empty but also dramatizes the remarkable leadership opportunity their fecklessness has handed to the incumbent president in post-shellacking Washington.

As it happened, CPAC overlapped with the extraordinary onrush of history in the Middle East. But the Egyptian uprising, supposedly a prime example of the freedom agenda championed by George W. Bush, was rarely, and then only minimally, mentioned by the parade of would-be presidents. Indeed, with the exception of Ron Paul — who would let the Egyptians fend for themselves and cut off all foreign aid — the most detailed discussions of Egypt came from Ann Coulter and Rick Santorum.

Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator who lost his 2006 re-election bid by a landslide of 17 percentage points, believes he can be president despite being best known for having likened homosexuality to “man on dog” sex. Even less conversant in foreign affairs than canine coitus, he attacked Obama for deserting Hosni Mubarak, questioning the message it sent to America’s “friends.” But no one (with the odd exception of George Will) takes Santorum’s presidential ambitions seriously. Romney, on the other hand, is the closest thing the G.O.P. has to a front-runner, and he is even more hollow than Santorum. Indeed, his appearance at CPAC on the morning of Friday, Feb. 11, was entirely consistent with his public image as an otherworldly visitor from an Aqua Velva commercial circa 1985.

That Friday was the day after Mubarak’s bizarre speech vowing to keep his hold on power. At 9:45 a.m. that morning, as a rapt world waited for his next move, CNN reported that there would soon be a new statement from Mubarak — whose abdication was confirmed around 11 a.m. But when Romney took the stage in Washington at 10:35, he made not a single allusion of any kind to Egypt — even as he lambasted Obama for not having a foreign policy. His snarky, cowardly address also tiptoed around “Obamacare” lest it remind Tea Partiers of Massachusetts’s “Romneycare.” He was nearly as out of touch with reality as Mubarak the night before.

There was one serious speech at CPAC — an economic colloquy delivered that night by Mitch Daniels, the Indiana governor much beloved by what remains of mainstream conservative punditry. But Daniels was quickly thrashed: Limbaugh attacked him for his mild suggestion that the G.O.P. welcome voters who are not ideological purists, and CPAC attendees awarded him with only 4 percent of the vote in their straw poll. (The winners were Paul, with 30 percent, and Romney, with 23 percent.) Indeed, Daniels couldn’t even compete with the surprise CPAC appearance of Donald Trump, a sometime Democrat whose own substance-free Obama-bashing oration drew an overflow crowd. Apparently few at CPAC could imagine that Trump might be using them to drum up publicity for his own ratings-challenged television show, “Celebrity Apprentice,” which returns in just two weeks — or that he had contributed $50,000 to the Chicago mayoral campaign of no less an Obama ally than Rahm Emanuel.

THE G.O.P. has already reached its praying-for-a-miracle phase — hoping some neo-Reagan will emerge to usurp the tired field. Trump! Thune! T-Paw! Christie! Jeb Bush! Soon it’ll be time for another Fred Thompson or Rudy groundswell. But hardly had CPAC folded its tent than a new Public Policy Polling survey revealed where the Republican base’s heart truly remains — despite the new civility and the temporary moratorium on the term “job-killing.” The poll found that 51 percent of G.O.P. primary voters don’t believe that the president was born in America and that only 28 percent do. (For another 21 percent, the jury is still out, as it presumably is on evolution as well.)

The party leadership is no less cowed by that majority today than it was pre-Tucson. That’s why John Boehner, appearing on “Meet the Press” last weekend, stonewalled David Gregory’s repeated queries asking him to close the door on the “birther” nonsense. (“It’s not my job to tell the American people what to think,” Boehner said.) The power of the G.O.P.’s hard-core base may also yet deliver a Palin comeback no matter what the rest of the country thinks of her. In the CNN poll nearly two weeks after Tucson, Republicans still gave her a 70 percent favorable approval rating, just behind Huckabee (72 percent) and ahead of Romney (64 percent).

An opposition this adrift from reality — whether about Obama’s birth certificate, history unfolding in the Middle East or the consequences of a federal or state government shutdown — is a paper tiger. It’s a golden chance for the president to seize the moment. What we don’t know is if he sees it that way. As we’ve learned from his track record both in the 2008 campaign and in the White House, he sometimes coasts at these junctures or lapses into a pro forma bipartisanship that amounts, for all practical purposes, to inertia.

Obama’s outspokenness about the labor battle in Wisconsin offers a glimmer of hope that he might lead the fight for what many Americans, not just Democrats, care about — from job creation to an energy plan to an attack on the deficit that brackets the high-end Bush-era tax cuts with serious Medicare/Medicaid reform and further strengthening of the health care law. Will he do so? The answer to that question is at least as mysterious as the identity of whatever candidate the desperate G.O.P. finds to run against him.
26084  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: Unemployed need not apply on: February 20, 2011, 01:20:34 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/20/opinion/20sun2.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha211
26085  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Memory training on: February 20, 2011, 01:18:18 PM

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/02/20/magazine/mind-secrets.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha210
26086  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: February 20, 2011, 01:13:09 PM
Several of these charts do something that irks me greatly.  They massively increase the visual impression given by how they label the axis.

For example, a movement of 400 from 400 to 800 in 1980-1985 a movement of 100%, is given the same visual as a movement today from 3,200,000 to 3,600,000, a movement of 12.5%. 

The situation is godawful, no doubt about it, but visually misleading charts do not help our understanding.
26087  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More on REEs on: February 20, 2011, 12:50:26 PM

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-rare-earth-20110220,0,4161956.story
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703561604576150301821467250.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Rare-Earths-Stocks-Get-A-Lift-indie-1668243288.html?x=0&.v=1
26088  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: How to cut government spending on: February 20, 2011, 12:44:56 PM
Times are tough, will you do your part?
 


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

I HOPE YOU WILL PARTICIPATE AND DO YOUR PART!
 

The President has ordered the cabinet to cut $100 million from the $3.5 trillion federal budget.
 

I'm so impressed by this sacrifice that I have decided to do the same thing with my personal budget. I spend about $2000 a month on groceries, household expenses, medicine, utilities, etc, but it's time to get out the budget cutting ax, go line by line through my expenses, and cut back!
 

I'm going to cut my spending at exactly the same ratio -1/35,000 of my total budget.  After doing the math, it looks like instead of spending $2000 a month; I'm going to have to cut that number by six cents!   Yes, I'm going to have to get by with $1999.94, but that's what sacrifice is all about.  I'll just have to do without some things, that are, frankly, luxuries. (Did he actually think no one would do the math?)
 

John Q. Taxpayer
26089  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: February 19, 2011, 04:34:28 PM
Ah.
26090  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Where have the good men gone? on: February 19, 2011, 04:17:37 PM
Not so long ago, the average American man in his 20s had achieved most of the milestones of adulthood: a high-school diploma, financial independence, marriage and children. Today, most men in their 20s hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. This "pre-adulthood" has much to recommend it, especially for the college-educated. But it's time to state what has become obvious to legions of frustrated young women: It doesn't bring out the best in men.

 Between his lack of responsibilities and an entertainment media devoted to his every pleasure, today's young man has no reason to grow up, says author Kay Hymowitz. She discusses her book, "Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys."
."We are sick of hooking up with guys," writes the comedian Julie Klausner, author of a touchingly funny 2010 book, "I Don't Care About Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux-Sensitive Hipsters and Other Guys I've Dated." What Ms. Klausner means by "guys" is males who are not boys or men but something in between. "Guys talk about 'Star Wars' like it's not a movie made for people half their age; a guy's idea of a perfect night is a hang around the PlayStation with his bandmates, or a trip to Vegas with his college friends.... They are more like the kids we babysat than the dads who drove us home." One female reviewer of Ms. Kausner's book wrote, "I had to stop several times while reading and think: Wait, did I date this same guy?"

For most of us, the cultural habitat of pre-adulthood no longer seems noteworthy. After all, popular culture has been crowded with pre-adults for almost two decades. Hollywood started the affair in the early 1990s with movies like "Singles," "Reality Bites," "Single White Female" and "Swingers." Television soon deepened the relationship, giving us the agreeable company of Monica, Joey, Rachel and Ross; Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer; Carrie, Miranda, et al.

But for all its familiarity, pre-adulthood represents a momentous sociological development. It's no exaggeration to say that having large numbers of single young men and women living independently, while also having enough disposable income to avoid ever messing up their kitchens, is something entirely new in human experience. Yes, at other points in Western history young people have waited well into their 20s to marry, and yes, office girls and bachelor lawyers have been working and finding amusement in cities for more than a century. But their numbers and their money supply were always relatively small. Today's pre-adults are a different matter. They are a major demographic event.

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.What also makes pre-adulthood something new is its radical reversal of the sexual hierarchy. Among pre-adults, women are the first sex. They graduate from college in greater numbers (among Americans ages 25 to 34, 34% of women now have a bachelor's degree but just 27% of men), and they have higher GPAs. As most professors tell it, they also have more confidence and drive. These strengths carry women through their 20s, when they are more likely than men to be in grad school and making strides in the workplace. In a number of cities, they are even out-earning their brothers and boyfriends.

Still, for these women, one key question won't go away: Where have the good men gone? Their male peers often come across as aging frat boys, maladroit geeks or grubby slackers—a gender gap neatly crystallized by the director Judd Apatow in his hit 2007 movie "Knocked Up." The story's hero is 23-year-old Ben Stone (Seth Rogen), who has a drunken fling with Allison Scott (Katherine Heigl) and gets her pregnant. Ben lives in a Los Angeles crash pad with a group of grubby friends who spend their days playing videogames, smoking pot and unsuccessfully planning to launch a porn website. Allison, by contrast, is on her way up as a television reporter and lives in a neatly kept apartment with what appear to be clean sheets and towels. Once she decides to have the baby, she figures out what needs to be done and does it. Ben can only stumble his way toward being a responsible grownup.

So where did these pre-adults come from? You might assume that their appearance is a result of spoiled 24-year-olds trying to prolong the campus drinking and hook-up scene while exploiting the largesse of mom and dad. But the causes run deeper than that. Beginning in the 1980s, the economic advantage of higher education—the "college premium"—began to increase dramatically. Between 1960 and 2000, the percentage of younger adults enrolled in college or graduate school more than doubled. In the "knowledge economy," good jobs go to those with degrees. And degrees take years.

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Getty Images
 
WHY GROW UP? Men in their 20s now have an array of toys and distractions at their disposal, from videogames and sports bars to 'lad' magazines like Maxim, which makes Playboy look like Camus.
.Read More
Two Cheers for the Maligned Slacker Dude
.Another factor in the lengthening of the road to adulthood is our increasingly labyrinthine labor market. The past decades' economic expansion and the digital revolution have transformed the high-end labor market into a fierce competition for the most stimulating, creative and glamorous jobs. Fields that attract ambitious young men and women often require years of moving between school and internships, between internships and jobs, laterally and horizontally between jobs, and between cities in the U.S. and abroad. The knowledge economy gives the educated young an unprecedented opportunity to think about work in personal terms. They are looking not just for jobs but for "careers," work in which they can exercise their talents and express their deepest passions. They expect their careers to give shape to their identity. For today's pre-adults, "what you do" is almost synonymous with "who you are," and starting a family is seldom part of the picture.

Pre-adulthood can be compared to adolescence, an idea invented in the mid-20th century as American teenagers were herded away from the fields and the workplace and into that new institution, the high school. For a long time, the poor and recent immigrants were not part of adolescent life; they went straight to work, since their families couldn't afford the lost labor and income. But the country had grown rich enough to carve out space and time to create a more highly educated citizenry and work force. Teenagers quickly became a marketing and cultural phenomenon. They also earned their own psychological profile. One of the most influential of the psychologists of adolescence was Erik Erikson, who described the stage as a "moratorium," a limbo between childhood and adulthood characterized by role confusion, emotional turmoil and identity conflict.

Like adolescents in the 20th century, today's pre-adults have been wait-listed for adulthood. Marketers and culture creators help to promote pre-adulthood as a lifestyle. And like adolescence, pre-adulthood is a class-based social phenomenon, reserved for the relatively well-to-do. Those who don't get a four-year college degree are not in a position to compete for the more satisfying jobs of the knowledge economy.

But pre-adults differ in one major respect from adolescents. They write their own biographies, and they do it from scratch. Sociologists use the term "life script" to describe a particular society's ordering of life's large events and stages. Though such scripts vary across cultures, the archetypal plot is deeply rooted in our biological nature. The invention of adolescence did not change the large Roman numerals of the American script. Adults continued to be those who took over the primary tasks of the economy and culture. For women, the central task usually involved the day-to-day rearing of the next generation; for men, it involved protecting and providing for their wives and children. If you followed the script, you became an adult, a temporary custodian of the social order until your own old age and demise.

Unlike adolescents, however, pre-adults don't know what is supposed to come next. For them, marriage and parenthood come in many forms, or can be skipped altogether. In 1970, just 16% of Americans ages 25 to 29 had never been married; today that's true of an astonishing 55% of the age group. In the U.S., the mean age at first marriage has been climbing toward 30 (a point past which it has already gone in much of Europe). It is no wonder that so many young Americans suffer through a "quarter-life crisis," a period of depression and worry over their future.

Given the rigors of contemporary career-building, pre-adults who do marry and start families do so later than ever before in human history. Husbands, wives and children are a drag on the footloose life required for the early career track and identity search. Pre-adulthood has also confounded the primordial search for a mate. It has delayed a stable sense of identity, dramatically expanded the pool of possible spouses, mystified courtship routines and helped to throw into doubt the very meaning of marriage. In 1970, to cite just one of many numbers proving the point, nearly seven in 10 25-year-olds were married; by 2000, only one-third had reached that milestone.

American men have been struggling with finding an acceptable adult identity since at least the mid-19th century. We often hear about the miseries of women confined to the domestic sphere once men began to work in offices and factories away from home. But it seems that men didn't much like the arrangement either. They balked at the stuffy propriety of the bourgeois parlor, as they did later at the banal activities of the suburban living room. They turned to hobbies and adventures, like hunting and fishing. At midcentury, fathers who at first had refused to put down the money to buy those newfangled televisions changed their minds when the networks began broadcasting boxing matches and baseball games. The arrival of Playboy in the 1950s seemed like the ultimate protest against male domestication; think of the refusal implied by the magazine's title alone.

In his disregard for domestic life, the playboy was prologue for today's pre-adult male. Unlike the playboy with his jazz and art-filled pad, however, our boy rebel is a creature of the animal house. In the 1990s, Maxim, the rude, lewd and hugely popular "lad" magazine arrived from England. Its philosophy and tone were so juvenile, so entirely undomesticated, that it made Playboy look like Camus.

At the same time, young men were tuning in to cable channels like Comedy Central, the Cartoon Network and Spike, whose shows reflected the adolescent male preferences of its targeted male audiences. They watched movies with overgrown boy actors like Steve Carell, Luke and Owen Wilson, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Will Farrell and Seth Rogen, cheering their awesome car crashes, fart jokes, breast and crotch shots, beer pong competitions and other frat-boy pranks. Americans had always struck foreigners as youthful, even childlike, in their energy and optimism. But this was too much.

What explains this puerile shallowness? I see it as an expression of our cultural uncertainty about the social role of men. It's been an almost universal rule of civilization that girls became women simply by reaching physical maturity, but boys had to pass a test. They needed to demonstrate courage, physical prowess or mastery of the necessary skills. The goal was to prove their competence as protectors and providers. Today, however, with women moving ahead in our advanced economy, husbands and fathers are now optional, and the qualities of character men once needed to play their roles—fortitude, stoicism, courage, fidelity—are obsolete, even a little embarrassing.

Today's pre-adult male is like an actor in a drama in which he only knows what he shouldn't say. He has to compete in a fierce job market, but he can't act too bossy or self-confident. He should be sensitive but not paternalistic, smart but not cocky. To deepen his predicament, because he is single, his advisers and confidants are generally undomesticated guys just like him.

Single men have never been civilization's most responsible actors; they continue to be more troubled and less successful than men who deliberately choose to become husbands and fathers. So we can be disgusted if some of them continue to live in rooms decorated with "Star Wars" posters and crushed beer cans and to treat women like disposable estrogen toys, but we shouldn't be surprised.

Relatively affluent, free of family responsibilities, and entertained by an array of media devoted to his every pleasure, the single young man can live in pig heaven—and often does. Women put up with him for a while, but then in fear and disgust either give up on any idea of a husband and kids or just go to a sperm bank and get the DNA without the troublesome man. But these rational choices on the part of women only serve to legitimize men's attachment to the sand box. Why should they grow up? No one needs them anyway. There's nothing they have to do.

They might as well just have another beer.

—Adapted from "Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys" by Kay S. Hymowitz, to be published by Basic Books on March 1. Copyright © by Kay S. Hymowitz. Printed by arrangement with Basic Books.
26091  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: The Original American Idol on: February 19, 2011, 04:06:49 PM

By JOHN R. MILLER
Today we merge Washington's birthday with the birthdays of other presidents and submerge them all in clothing and appliance sales. But it was not always so. Americans in past centuries celebrated Washington's birthday as a winter version of the Fourth of July.

Americans in Cambridge, Williamsburg, Richmond and Milton, Conn., were already celebrating Washington's birthday even before the end of the Revolutionary War. After his death in 1799, hundreds of cities and towns held birthday events. Such celebrations briefly abated in the early 1800s, as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were, while admiring of Washington, also envious of the awe in which Americans held him.

By the 100th anniversary of Washington's birth in 1832, however, celebrations were once again held throughout the land. Pealing church bells, sermons, fireworks, marching bands and songs about Washington were all part of a holiday embraced without official sanction. Businesses closed, Washington's picture hung in school houses, and Feb. 22 was a day of national rejoicing.

Throughout the 19th century, activist groups of all stripes used Washington's birthday to further their causes. Antislavery activists claimed Washington since he had freed his slaves. Immigration supporters claimed him as a stalwart of religious, political and economic refugees. Advocates of Indian rights noted that after defeating the Iroquois in Revolutionary War battles, Washington restored their land and maintained their reservations. Striking Massachusetts shoemakers invoked his name as that of the first great American rebel. Temperance supporters praised his prudence, but given his fondness for Madeira, the connection there was less clear.

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The Gallery Collection/Corbis
 
A portrait of George Washington
.In 1880, Congress and President Chester Arthur proclaimed Washington's birthday as an official national holiday, but the 20th century saw a gradual ebbing of public interest. As our country grew, new heroes emerged.

In 1968, the public-employee unions, seeking a three-day weekend, convinced Congress to move the commemoration of Washington's birthday to the third Monday in February. This eventually led to what we now call Presidents Day, which marks the birthday not only of Washington but of Lincoln and all other presidents. By celebrating every birthday, we effectively celebrate none.

Washington's contemporaries hailed his Revolutionary War victories at Trenton and Yorktown, but they honored him more for risking his fame, fortune and life in taking on military responsibilities for which he wasn't paid—and then giving up command to return to his farm and family. The young American citizenry esteemed him for bringing together and presiding over the Constitutional Convention, but they honored him more for his steadfastness in holding the colonies together and facing down potential insurrectionists who might have seized the government and made him a military dictator. And while they appreciated him returning to public service as president, they honored him more for leaving an office that many expected him to hold for life.

Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries were unaware of, but they would not have been surprised by, what King George III supposedly said upon hearing that Washington, after winning the Revolutionary War, had refused to be king: "If that is true, he must be the greatest man in the world."

Today we expect our leaders to seek and hold power, to take credit for their accomplishments, to demonstrate empathy, and to be facile with their written and spoken words, either their own or those of a speechwriter. Like the great Greek and Roman leaders, however, Washington was ambitious but learned to control it. He was too proud, in a good sense, to take credit.

Washington took advice from privates and generals, citizens and cabinet members, but his reserve kept them from feeling that they were his friends. When pressed to orate—as in his farewell toast to his officers or when he returned his sword to Congress after the Revolutionary War—Washington uttered some fine phrases, but he didn't give a single speech to the Continental Congresses. The delegates chose him anyway as commanding general and gave him far-reaching powers. He also gave no speech to the Constitutional Convention, yet his presence moved the delegates to choose a presidential form of government, largely because they knew he would serve as the first chief executive.

Likewise, Washington was an able but not elegant writer. He never composed an essay on religious freedom. But his custom of attending church services of different Christian denominations, and his letter to the Jewish congregation of Newport, R.I., helped bring fractious religious groups together in the new country. He never wrote an essay on the evils of slavery. But by emancipating his slaves after his death and providing for their support and education, he set an example noted repeatedly in succeeding decades.

In the early republic, Americans idolized virtues molded and displayed over the years. Today we seem excited by new persons and talents every month.

Our ancestors expected that America would produce other great leaders. But they celebrated Washington's birthday because, as the Connecticut Courant observed in 1791, "Many a private man might make a great president; but will there ever be a President who will make so great a man as WASHINGTON?"

Mr. Miller, a former U.S. Ambassador at Large and visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies, is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute. He is writing a book about Washington and civilian supremacy over the military.

26092  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: February 19, 2011, 03:57:11 PM
The Nuclear War or the Mid-East War, Peace, and SNAFU threads would be a better place for this.
26093  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the MB on: February 19, 2011, 01:54:56 PM
Good to see the research on that GM.
===============
By AYAAN HIRSI ALI
Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." So goes the motto of the Muslim Brotherhood.

What's extraordinary about this maxim is the succinct way that it captures the political dimension of Islam. Even more extraordinary is the capacity of these five pillars of faith to attract true believers. But the most remarkable thing of all is the way the Brotherhood's motto seduces Western liberals.

Readers of this paper are familiar with the genesis of the Muslim Brotherhood: its establishment in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna; its history of terrorism; its violent offshoots such as al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamait Islamiya, Islamic Jihad, Hamas and others across the Muslim world. Readers may also recall the brutal crackdowns on the Brothers by autocratic regimes in the Middle East—particularly in Egypt under Nasser and in Syria during the Hama massacre of 1982.

As a result of these crackdowns, the Brotherhood renounced violence in the 1970s (after Nasser's regime executed the Islamist philosopher Sayyid Qutb in 1966) and started a gradual process to participate in conventional politics. This renunciation—and the Brotherhood's involvement in the Egyptian uprising, neither violent nor dominant—has prompted some commentators to encourage the American government to engage with the Brothers as legitimate partners in Middle Eastern affairs.

Like a drug addict after years in rehab, the Brotherhood is now regarded as clean. Precisely because of its troubled past, so the argument goes, it can be counted on to help lead the people of Egypt into a new era of political reform.

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David Klein
 .These commentators claim the Brotherhood will be a better partner for the U.S. than the ousted President Hosni Mubarak because it is a grass-roots movement with a significant civic and economic role in Egyptian society. They liken the Brotherhood to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party, which is widely admired in the West for its moderate Islamism, offering Turks the attractive combination of economic development and religious identity. According to this view, moderate Islamism is like Christian democracy in postwar Western Europe.

In recent days, Essam El-Errian and Tariq Ramadan have expressed such views in the New York Times and the Herald Tribune. A member of the Brotherhood's Guidance Council, Mr. El-Errian wrote that his organization has an "unequivocal position against violence" and aims "to achieve reform and rights for all." According to his account, the Brotherhood has no desire to play a dominant role in a new government, and it won't put forward a candidate for the presidency.

Mr. Ramadan, the grandson of the Brotherhood's founder, predictably painted the group as peaceful. If it had ever done anything to make anyone doubt its peaceful credentials, he argued, it was the fault of the oppressive regimes supported by America and other Western powers.

Neither Mr. El-Errian nor Mr. Ramadan mentioned that the Muslim Brotherhood's motto is still in place, let alone its implications. At least Mr. El-Errian admitted that the movement does not want a Western-style secular liberal democracy, since such democracies reject the role of religion in public life.

These apologists for the Muslim Brotherhood are targeting two audiences. The first is the small but influential liberal elite in the U.S. and its larger counterpart in Europe, which has never been comfortable supporting the likes of Mr. Mubarak and would love to believe in a touchy-feely moderate Islamism.

Read More.The Post-Islamist Future
By Maajid Nawaz
.The second audience is the mainly young people who initiated the uprising and have kept it going with social-networking sites and other modern media tools. Young people in the streets of Cairo cannot help but be attracted to the force that has been the most tenacious and consistent opposition to the hated dictator. And they are mostly Muslims, after all.

Yet the youth also are not entirely ignorant of the drastic changes that Islamists impose on the societies that they end up governing—banning alcohol, music, movies, nightclubs. Muhammad Akef Mahdi, one of the supreme leaders of the Brotherhood in Egypt, has said in various interviews that the Brotherhood wants to purge the press of un-Islamic content and to seek conformity between the cinema and theater and the principles of Islam.

The Brotherhood's political skill is formidable and it seems to be achieving its goals—namely, insistence from gullible Westerners that there should be elections as soon as possible and at least tacit support from young Egyptians whose votes it will need to win.

Rather than running op-eds by the likes of Mr. Ramadan, the Western press would better serve Egyptians by exposing the Brotherhood's hidden agenda. Due to the limits on press freedom in Egypt, many educated Egyptians and other Arabs depend on the Western media for news and analysis. To deny them close scrutiny of the Brotherhood's past and future plans is unforgivable.

Instead of simply pushing for elections at the earliest opportunity, Western commentators should be pushing for more time—above all, to allow the drafting of a new Egyptian constitution. Such a constitution would introduce checks and balances, eliminate the one-party system, and guarantee the protection of human rights. In particular, it would safeguard Egypt against the imposition of Shariah law.

True, constitutions can be discarded by tyrants or religious fanatics if they assume power. But the introduction of a well-designed constitution would make it harder for them to do so. It would also make it easier for the U.S. and other foreign observers to ensure that any future elections are free and fair.

Anyone who believes that a truly democratic outcome in Egypt is the real goal of the Muslim Brotherhood has failed to understand—or purposefully ignored—the group's motto.

Ms. Ali, a former member of the Dutch parliament, is the author most recently of "Nomad: From Islam to America—A Personal Journey through the Clash of Civilizations" (Free Press, 2010) and is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

26094  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / An Arab rant on: February 19, 2011, 01:35:41 PM


http://v1.cache5.googlevideo.com/videoplayback?signature=21860F7497B3650E73AB92E1CF8EC3E916549B70.CBEE7BB927021E7995870DAE494DD017A466B309&sparams=id,itag,uaopt,ip,ipbits,expire&expire=1300718795&ipbits=0&ip=0.0.0.0&uaopt=no-save&itag=18&id=5c5a8f9f9e7facd4&key=yta1&el=videos&devkey=AX8iKz393pCCMUL6wqrPOZoO88HsQjpE1a8d1GxQnGDm&app=youtube_gdata&redirect_counter=2

26095  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion and theocratic politics on: February 19, 2011, 01:14:18 PM
Doug is right.  It looks like we are now seeing whether it will be a struggle between civilization and barbarism or between Islam and everyone else.
26096  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Chess on: February 19, 2011, 01:02:41 PM
Great comments-- what's a Benoni Defense?

Conrad always plays white against me.  For quite some time he has focused on a QP opening.  For a while I did well playing QB-4 in response, but eventually he solved that  cool

26097  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Big Brother seeks to track gold buyers on: February 19, 2011, 12:52:28 PM


Prepare To Give Up All Private Data For Any Gold Purchase Over $100
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/18/2011 20:59 -0500
www.zerohedge.com




A week ago, when we reported on a move by the Dutch central bank that
ordered a pension fund to forcibly reduce its gold holdings, we speculated
that "this latest gold confiscation equivalent event is most certainly
coming to a banana republic near you." And while we got the Banana republic
right, the event that we are about to describe is not necessarily identical.
It is much worse. A bill proposed in the State of Washington (House Bill
1716), by representatives Asay, Hurst, Klippert, Pearson, and Miloscia,
whose alleged purpose is to regulate secondhand gold dealers, seeks to
capture "the name, date of birth, sex, height, weight, race, and address and
telephone number of the person with whom the transaction is made" or said
otherwise, of every purchaser of gold in the state of Washington.
Furthermore, if passed, Bill 1716 will record "a complete description of the
property pledged, bought, or consigned, including the brand name, serial
number, model number or name, any initials or engraving, size, pattern, and
color or stone or stones" and of course price. But the kicker: if a
transaction is mode for an amount over $100, which means one tenth of an
ounce of golds, also required will be a "signature, photo, and fingerprint
of the person with whom the transaction is made." In other words, very soon
Washington state will know more about you than you know about yourself, if
you dare to buy any gold object worth more than a C-note. How this proposal
is supposed to protect consumers against vulture gold dealers we don't quite
get. Hopefully someone will explain it to us. We do, however, get how
Americans will part with any and all privacy if they were to exchange fiat
for physical. And in a police state like America, this will likely not be
taken lightly, thereby killing the gold trade should the proposed Bill pass,
and be adopted elsewhere.
26098  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Iran on: February 19, 2011, 12:08:24 AM
Concerns Over Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Iran

The Persian Gulf island of Bahrain was Thursday’s geopolitical focal point. The day began with domestic security forces storming an encampment of protesters in a central square in the capital of Manama — an operation that left five people dead and another 100-200 reportedly injured. While the army is trying to ensure against further protests, more unrest in the coming days cannot be ruled out. Manama’s trepidation can be gauged from the fact that Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa chaired an extraordinary session of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) foreign ministers.

Bahrain is unique in that it is the only country among the mostly wealthy Arab states on the Arabian Peninsula that is experiencing public unrest. However, public agitation is by no means new, as it has a lengthy tradition of pro-democracy mass risings. But in the wake of the toppling of presidents who long ruled Tunisia and Egypt, this latest wave of unrest in Bahrain is seen with a greater sense of urgency.

“From Riyadh’s perspective, the empowerment of Shia in neighboring Bahrain could very likely embolden its own Shiite minority…”
In addition to being the only GCC member state to experience demonstrations, the country’s location and sectarian demographic sets it apart from every other Arab nation. An overwhelming Shiite majority seeks a greater say in the country ruled by a Sunni royal family and in close proximity to Iran. Thus, the demand for democracy, which in the case of other Arab countries is seen by many around the world as a positive development, is a cause of regional and international concern for Bahrain.

This would explain why U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates talked by phone with Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa (also deputy commander of the country’s armed forces) to discuss the security situation. Washington is not only concerned about security and stability because it is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, but also because of the fear that Iran could potentially exploit the situation to its advantage. As it stands, Iran already has the upper hand in its struggle with the United States over Iraq and Lebanon.

The potential for the al-Khalifas to make concessions to the Shia is a frightening prospect for the Saudis, who are already trying to deal with the Shiite empowerment in Baghdad and Beirut. From Riyadh’s perspective, the empowerment of Shia in neighboring Bahrain could very likely embolden its own Shiite minority (20 percent of the kingdom’s population, concentrated in the kingdom’s oil rich Eastern province, which is in close proximity to Bahrain).

Even before the outbreak of regional unrest, Saudi Arabia has had a difficult time in light of the pending transition of the geriatric king and the top three princes. But now with the contagion that began in North Africa engulfing Saudi Arabia’s immediate neighborhood, there is a sense of alarm in the Saudi capital. A senior member of the House of Saud, Prince Talal bin Abdel-Aziz, who is close to King Abdullah, told BBC Arabic that the regional unrest threatened the kingdom unless it engaged in political reforms and the only one who could initiate the process is the country’s 86-year old ailing monarch.

But now with Bahrain in play, the Saudis are not just concerned about calls for democracy, but also the rise of Shia on the Arabian Peninsula and with it, a more assertive Iran.

26099  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: What are some indications your finger is broken? on: February 18, 2011, 04:47:36 PM
I thought people would be all over this thread  cheesy
26100  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: European “Gathering of the Pack” 2011 on: February 18, 2011, 04:46:55 PM
If you like, I can do both  evil
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