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26101  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: January 06, 2010, 05:14:26 PM
 shocked shocked shocked
26102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Green? on: January 06, 2010, 10:59:32 AM
Tehran Imbroglio: No Green Revolution
THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT LASHED OUT today against the West’s perceived support of anti-government protests by arresting foreign nationals allegedly involved in the Dec. 27 Ashura protests, and publishing a list of 60 organizations waging “soft war” against Tehran. Meanwhile, Shirin Ebadi — an Iranian lawyer, human rights activist and 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner — argued in her interview Monday with CNN that the Iranian government’s efforts to suppress demonstrations were failing and would only increase and radicalize the opposition, thus sowing seeds for the government’s downfall. This largely conforms to the analysis of most Western media and policy analysts, who see the ingredients for the downfall of the clerical regime in Iran as clearly arrayed; most believe it is only a matter of time before Tehran sees a regime change.

The picture painted by Western media and governments is, however, one that STRATFOR has refused to complacently accept.

The imbroglio on the ground in Tehran is perceived as a continuation of the “color revolutions” that began in the former Soviet Union, of which the Ukrainian 2004 “Orange Revolution” is a prime example. All the elements of a “color revolution” seem to be in play in Iran: a pariah regime maintains power despite what appears to be voter fraud while a supposedly liberal/pro-Western opposition launches a series of protests and marches that only accentuate the regime’s instability and unpopularity. Keeping with the latest fashion, the Iranian movement has even picked a color: green.

Western commentators who think they are witnessing regime change in Tehran could make an even more prescient parallel with the toppling of Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic in the so-called “Bulldozer Revolution” in October 2000. In late 2000, Milosevic’s Serbia was a pariah state that refused to budge over its crackdown in Kosovo in much the same way that Tehran refuses to budge on the issue of its nuclear program.

But if Iran today is to be compared to Serbia in 2000, then the regime change would have happened immediately following the June elections when protests reached their greatest numbers and the government was caught off guard by the virulence of the disturbance. Instead, a much more realistic (and poignant) analogy would be Serbia in 1991, when Milosevic faced his first serious threat — one he deftly avoided with a mix of brutality and co-option.

“The Western media confused liberal, educated, pro-Western university students in the streets of Belgrade for a mass movement against Milosevic…much like they do with Iran today.”
The March 1991 protests against Milosevic focused on the regime’s control of the country’s media. Opposition leader Vuk Draskovic — a moderate nationalist writer turned politician — was still smarting over his defeat in the presidential elections in December 1990, in which his party received no media access to Milosevic-controlled television. The March 9 protests quickly took on a life of their own. The assembly of nearly 150,000 people in Belgrade’s main square turned into a full-scale anti-Milosevic riot, prompting a brutal police crackdown that led to the Serbian military being called to secure the city’s streets. The next day Belgrade university students took their turn, but were again suppressed by the police.

Milosevic’s crackdown dampened enthusiasm for further violent challenges to his rule. Each time he was challenged, Milosevic retained power through a mix of restrictions (which were most severe in 1991) and piecemeal concessions that only marginally eroded his power. Meanwhile, Western media throughout the 1990s confused liberal, educated, pro-Western university students in the streets of Belgrade for a mass movement against Milosevic, much like they did with the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 and with Iran today.

But ultimately Milosevic stayed in power for two main reasons: he had ample domestic, popular support in Serbia outside of Belgrade, and he had the full loyalty of security forces in Serbia at the time: interior ministry troops and their various paramilitary organizations.

Serbian opposition eventually employed two strategies that toppled Milosevic: co-option and compromise with elements of Milosevic’s regime. Co-option meant convincing the industrial workers and miners of Central Serbia, as well as ardent Serbian nationalists, that protesting against Milosevic meant more than being a university student who discussed Plato in the morning and marched against the government in the evening. Highly organized student opposition group Otpor (“Resistance” in Serb) made it their central mission to co-opt everyone from labor union members to nationalist soccer hooligans to the cause. This also meant fielding a candidate in 2000 elections — firmly nationalist Vojislav Kostunica — that could appeal to more than just liberal Belgrade and European-oriented northern Serbia (the Vojvodina region).

Meanwhile, compromise meant negotiating with pseudo security forces — essentially organized crime elements running Milosevic’s paramilitaries such as the notorious “Red Brigades” — and promising them a place in the future pro-Democratic and pro-Western Serbia. These compromises ultimately came to haunt the nascent pro-Western Belgrade, but they worked in October 2000.

These Serbian opposition successes stand in stark contrast to Iran today. In Iran, we have seen no concrete evidence that the opposition is willing or able to co-opt Iranians of different ideological leanings. As long as this aspect is missing, security elements will refuse to negotiate with the opposition since they will perceive the regime as still having an upper hand. Furthermore, security elements will ultimately not switch sides if they don’t have assurances that in the post-clerical Iran they will retain their prominent place or at least will escape persecution. This was the “deal with the Devil” that the Serbian opposition was ready to make in October 2000. But in Iran, at this moment, a deal with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and their paramilitary Basij forces is not possible.

Ultimately, Serbia in 2000 was also surrounded by a different geopolitical situation. Isolated in the Balkans with no allies — not even Russia, which at the time was weak and dealing with the aftershocks of the 1998 economic crisis — Western pressure exerted on Belgrade was inordinately greater than the pressure the United States and its allies can exert on Iran today. It is further highly unlikely that a military strike against Iran would have the same effect that NATO’s three-month air campaign against Serbia did in 1999. The scale of the two efforts is vastly different. Serbia was an easy target surrounded by NATO states, while Iran can retaliate in a number of ways against the United States and its allies, particularly by threatening global energy trade.

Evidence from the ground in Iran indicates that the ruling regime may undergo a certain level of calibration — especially as different factions within the clerical regime maneuver to profit from the imbroglio — but it is hardly near its end. The continuation of protests is not evidence of their success, much as the continuation of protests against Milosevic throughout the 1990s was not evidence that he was losing power. Milosevic not only held out for nearly 10 years after the initial 1991 protests, but he also managed to be quite a thorn in the side of the West, taking charge in numerous regional conflicts and going toe-to-toe with NATO.

We may later come to see in the Iranian protests of June and December 2009 the seeds of what might eventually topple the regime. But if we learn anything from the Serbian example, it is that a regime that survives a challenge — as Milosevic did in 1991 — lives to tough out a number of fights down the road.
26103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Apostasy on: January 06, 2010, 10:30:28 AM
14 minutes

http://www.pjtv.com/v/2693
26104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Killing Killer Asteroids on: January 06, 2010, 10:04:29 AM
By MICHIO KAKU
Anatoly Perminov, head of the Russian Space Agency, caught scientists off guard when he called for a closed meeting of Russian scientists to counter a killer asteroid headed our way. He said that a potential impact from the asteroid Apothis around 2036 could kill hundreds of thousands of people. Immediately this conjured up images of Bruce Willis and his space cowboys riding the Space Shuttle to blow up a comet in the movie "Armageddon." Scientists, realizing that the danger is slight but real, have in fact seriously proposed various ways in which to deflect the asteroid.

As asteroids go, Apophis is a whopper, measuring 1,000 feet across, about the size of the Rose Bowl. In 2029 it will make its first pass around the earth, so close that it will travel beneath our communication satellites. In fact, you might see it whiz by overhead with binoculars. Depending on how it whips around the earth, there is a slight chance it might actually hit the earth when it returns in 2036 (but the latest calculations only show a one in a hundred thousand chance of impact).

The Russians take such a threat seriously, since a "city buster" hit Tunguska, Siberia, in 1908, flattening about a thousand square miles of forest, destroying about 100 million trees, and leaving a huge scar in the Earth. The object that struck Siberia was probably only 100 feet across, yet it created a blast about 1,000 times greater than the Hiroshima bomb. The shock waves were so intense they were detected in Europe. It created a strange glow which spread over Asia and Europe so that you could read the London papers at night. If it had hit Moscow, it would have completely flattened that city and beyond. A city-buster like that happens once every 100-300 years, with most of them hitting the oceans.

A hit from Apothis, however, would be another story. It would be a "country buster," capable of creating fire storms, shock waves, and a rain of fiery debris that would destroy an area almost the size of France, or perhaps the entire Northeast of the U.S. The energy of the impact would be roughly 100,000 times that of the Hiroshima bomb. If it hits the Pacific Ocean, it could also generate a huge tidal wave, a gigantic wall of water that could swamp most coastal cities in the Americas and Asia. An impact from an Apophis-like asteroid is estimated to happen once in a thousand years. (The worst case scenario, however, would be an impact from a "planet buster" as little as six miles across, like the one that hit Mexico and probably wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.)

Plans to counter such a hypothetical threat, however, are sketchy. A staple of science fiction is to send the Space Shuttle to blow it up. Bad idea.

First, this might only crack the asteroid, so you would have a swarm of deadly mini-asteroids headed your way. Second, the Space Shuttle can only circle the Earth; it is incapable of reaching deep space to intercept the asteroid. And it is going to be phased out this year anyway and a replacement won't be ready for about five years.

Several proposals made by scientists are currently being studied. One likely scenario is to nudge the asteroid while it is still in deep space so that it eventually misses the Earth. This deflection might be done via rockets to push the asteroid years before it passes the Earth. Or, the gravity of the spacecraft itself may be used to gently tug on its trajectory. Yet another proposal is to use mirrors and even paint to increase the pressure of sunlight so that, over decades, its trajectory is modified.

At present, none of the hardware for such a mission exists, so we will be helpless for years if a real threat emerges. And any serious proposal will require tens of billions of dollars, for new booster rockets and the complex machinery to deflect the asteroid.

But given these hard economic times, money is scarce even to maintain the current space program. The Augustine Report on the future of space travel, commissioned by NASA and presented to President Obama in October, stated that manned missions to the moon and Mars were "unsustainable" without a new injection of funds. However, it did leave open the possibility of landing on an asteroid. So one real possibility is to land a probe on the asteroid in 2029 so that scientists can study its properties as well as get a free ride through the solar system. We know so little about Apothis that it might be a solid object or just a loose collection of rocky debris held together by gravity.

Some conspiracy theorists have raised the dark possibility that any nation that can deflect an asteroid could also send it hurtling toward its enemies. But such a weapon is simply too unstable and unreliable to be taken seriously.

Indeed, scientists are applauding the Russian Space Agency for addressing the issue, even if the danger from Apophis is very slight. Sooner or later, we will face a catastrophic threat from space. Of all the possible threats, only a gigantic asteroid hit can destroy the entire planet. If we prepare now, we better our odds of survival. The dinosaurs never knew what hit them.

Mr. Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at City College of New York, is the author of "Physics of the Impossible" (Doubleday, 2008) and host of "Sci Fi Science: Physics of the Impossible," on the Science Channel.
26105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: January 06, 2010, 09:39:52 AM
I disagree with your reasoning completely.

If there was dishonesty, then there are a great variety of fraud related statutes-- but that is not the issue here. 

The government pumped up a credit bubble (virtual zero interest rates, the FMs, the CRA, and more), people lied on their apps, banks didn't care because the loans were guaranteed by the FMs etc etc. 

If you allow the State to break contracts between private parties, the damage done is deep, profound, and long lasting. 
26106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Arrested?!?!?!? on: January 05, 2010, 10:45:55 PM
 Michael Yon Arrested at Seattle Airport

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://netrightnation.com/index.php?...-blog&Itemid=7

This seems to have happened about an hour ago. Apparently, Michael Yon was arrested at the Seattle Airport after refusing to tell airport security how much money he earns! This seems like a resonable reason to detain someone...

On Michael Yon's Facebook Fan Page, the following updates were posted:

Got arrested at the Seattle airport for refusing to say how much money I make. (The uniformed ones say I was not "arrested", but they definitely handcuffed me.) Their videos and audios should show that I was polite, but simply refused questions that had nothing to do with national security. Port authority police eve...ntually came -- they were professionals -- and rescued me from the border bullies. (About an hour ago)

And then this update shortly after:

When they handcuffed me, I said that no country has ever treated me so badly. Not China. Not Vietnam. Not Afghanistan. Definitely not Singapore or India or Nepal or Germany, not Brunei, not Indonesia, or Malaysia, or Kuwait or Qatar or United Arab Emirates. No county has treated me with the disrespect can that can be expected from our border bullies. (About an hour ago)

So apparently when one refuses to answer questions about their salary, they have placed the nation's security in jeopardy. This seems to be a gross overreaction from security. Yon is clearly not a security threat.
26107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: January 05, 2010, 09:40:54 PM
Well, we have half of one in the White House right now so you are more right than you realize cheesy
26108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Google blocking negative searches on Islam? on: January 05, 2010, 09:38:20 PM
http://thenextweb.com/2010/01/05/google-blocking-negative-search-recommendations-islam/

I lack the google-fu to really follow this; anyone else?
26109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: January 05, 2010, 04:32:26 PM
I don't like what I read about the level of surveillance in the UK and I don't want it here.   

Anyway, I suspect we will continue to go around the mulberry bush on this one with each having little persuasive effect upon the other and so, for now  cheesy will sign off. 
26110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: January 05, 2010, 04:28:02 PM
Wrong thread for this discussion.  Please use "The Way Forward for the American Creed"-- where I will be glad to entertain the notion of a Tea Party.
26111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: January 05, 2010, 11:43:41 AM
Aircraft I can see.  No worries-- though when armed with technology that enables high res photos from far away, that too becomes a problem.

Unmanned drones designed to hang out and spy generally undetected, generally I have a big problem.
26112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: January 05, 2010, 11:17:51 AM
George Friedman of Statfor argues powerfully that geo politics will determine more about a nations alliances than political structures.  I think he overstates his case, but he makes it well.

I just tried laying my hands on his statement of the US's five imperatives but did not succeed.   embarassed
26113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: January 05, 2010, 11:08:25 AM
Well, as it I see it, that is precisely the fight we have ahead.
26114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: January 05, 2010, 11:05:27 AM
"**The fouth requires a reasonable expectation of privacy. Nose picking, ass scratching or sex in a public location has no reasonable expectation of privacy.**

If no one is in sight, or if I am on private property bounded by a solid fence, I should be able to blissfully pick my nose, scratch my ass, get great fellatio, etc without wondering if some eye in the sky is watching.
26115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Latin America on: January 05, 2010, 10:52:19 AM
Interesting piece.  May I ask that you post it on the US Foreign Affairs thread?  I'd like to respond with some George Friedman based thoughts on Geopolitics.
26116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Glen Beck on: January 05, 2010, 10:48:31 AM
GM:

Nice to see that article.

I've never heard his radio show.  We have satellite TV and I simply set the DVR to record the show-- which airs here in LA at 14:00 and 21:00.
26117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: January 05, 2010, 10:42:08 AM
That seems like a sound reading to me.
26118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: January 05, 2010, 10:40:01 AM
I too am hearing this.
26119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: January 05, 2010, 10:39:11 AM
What about the sanctity of contract?!?  shocked
26120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glenn Beck on: January 05, 2010, 07:47:49 AM
See today's entry in the Glenn Beck thread.
26121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Transitional Week on: January 05, 2010, 07:47:11 AM
Glenn is back from vacation and his show last night announced some big changes. 

Starting yesterday, there will be 5 days summarizing what GB says he has proven during the past year.

Starting next week, the show will be about taking America back.

I will be watching EVERY night this week and next.

I'm thinking/hoping this has a good shot at becoming the spark that ignites the flames of American freedom.

26122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: January 05, 2010, 07:40:05 AM
Good post.

Like the eternal flame of the Hanukah menorah, we seek to keep the flame of Truth alive around here.  It is always darkest before the dawn.  Ben Franklin told us the Constitution gave us a republic "if we can keep it."  Time to stand up for the American Creed.
26123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson on debt in 1816 on: January 05, 2010, 07:05:16 AM
"We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Samuel Kercheval, 1816
26124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: January 05, 2010, 07:00:54 AM
More good wit GM, you're on a roll.

Lets see where this leads.

Ultimately, yes.

I reject utterly the notion that if I am doing nothing wrong I have nothing to fear.  Maybe I want to pick my nose, or scratch my ass.  Maybe I want to have great sex in the middle of a field.   Maybe I just want to act in ways I don't want others to see.

If a policeman is sitting on the traffic light, I know he is there.  If there is some mini-high-tech camera, I probably don't know I am being watched.  From a human and budgetary POV, it is impossible to put a policeman on every traffic light.  In contrast t is quite easy to put a camera on every light and every corner.  Just look at the UK.

If there is a helicopter with a policeman in it, from a human and budgetary POV, there is a limit to how many helicopters buzzing around there will be.  A drone costs a tiny fraction of a helicopter to buy and to operate-- and as a practical matter we the American people, a people who have fought to establish our freedom, will not know whether we are being watched or not. 


With this, we enter the landy of the creepy and the Orwellian.
26125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: January 05, 2010, 06:49:22 AM
Very good one Rachel!

===========
Va'etchanan Parshah Lesson

By Malka Touger
 
The boys from Bunk Twelve were hiking down a mountain trail. After a while, they came to a clearing with cliffs on either side.

"Hello," shouted out Mia.

"Hello, Hello," came the answer as Mia's voice bounced back and forth from cliff to cliff. Soon the entire bunk was doing it. The valley became filled with the echoing of the campers' voices as each one tried out his vocal chords.

"Why do some echoes last longer than others?" Leah asked his counselor, Rachel.

"It depends on how loudly you shout," Rachel explained. "Creating an echo is like throwing a ball against the wall; the harder you throw, the harder the ball bounces back. So, the louder you call out, the more powerful are the sound waves and the more powerfully they will bounce back when they meet something hard which they cannot penetrate. When the sound waves bounce back, they create an echo.

"Calling out in the mountains is liking throwing a ball in a ball court where you have one wall in front of you and one wall behind you. The ball will continue bouncing back and forth until its strength ebbs away. Here too, the voices continue to bounce from one cliff to another until they lose their strength. The stronger the voice, the longer it will continue to echo."

"Wait a minute," Leah said. "I remember, you said that when G-d gave the Ten Commandments, He spoke and there was no echo. G-d surely spoke very loudly. According to what you just explained, His voice should still be echoing throughout the world."

"Now, that's a great question," Rachel replied, smiling. "But you forgot one thing. I said that sound waves bounce back when they meet something they cannot penetrate. Our sages explain that there was a miracle and G-d's voice did not have an echo. It did not bounce away from the world. Instead, it sounded from one end of the world to the other, and the world absorbed G-d's voice.

"When G-d gave the Ten Commandments, He intentionally changed the rules of nature. His voice changed the world, making it ready to receive holiness. Ever since then, doing a good deed blends in with the nature of the world; it helps the world follow the voice of G-d which it accepted at the time of the giving of the Torah."

"The same is true when we study the Torah. We are not just learning laws and ideas. We want the Torah to seep into us and be absorbed in our innermost selves, changing the way we think and feel. The Torah should not bounce back, away from us. It should become part of our nature."
 
26126  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Team Kali Tudo on: January 05, 2010, 06:25:37 AM
Great times in class yesterday-- a strong group operating at a good level, enabling me to really go into things.  We are getting really pumped up for the camp that Kenny Johnson and I will be teaching in early February.

Yesterday included spending some time solving front leg kicking counters to our portal moves (In DBMA terminology we say "Stepping through a portal to the magical dimension where martial arts and crafts actually work")



The Adventure continues!
26127  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / WSJ: a theory demolished on: January 04, 2010, 07:59:45 PM
.By HEATHER MAC DONALD
The recession of 2008-09 has undercut one of the most destructive social theories that came out of the 1960s: the idea that the root cause of crime lies in income inequality and social injustice. As the economy started shedding jobs in 2008, criminologists and pundits predicted that crime would shoot up, since poverty, as the "root causes" theory holds, begets criminals. Instead, the opposite happened. Over seven million lost jobs later, crime has plummeted to its lowest level since the early 1960s. The consequences of this drop for how we think about social order are significant.

The notion that crime is an understandable reaction to poverty and racism took hold in the early 1960s. Sociologists Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin argued that juvenile delinquency was essentially a form of social criticism. Poor minority youth come to understand that the American promise of upward mobility is a sham, after a bigoted society denies them the opportunity to advance. These disillusioned teens then turn to crime out of thwarted expectations.

The theories put forward by Cloward, who spent his career at Columbia University, and Ohlin, who served presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Carter, provided an intellectual foundation for many Great Society-era programs. From the Mobilization for Youth on Manhattan's Lower East Side in 1963 through the federal Office of Economic Opportunity and a host of welfare, counseling and job initiatives, their ideas were turned into policy.

If crime was a rational response to income inequality, the thinking went, government can best fight it through social services and wealth redistribution, not through arrests and incarceration. Even law enforcement officials came to embrace the root causes theory, which let them off the hook for rising lawlessness. Through the late 1980s, the FBI's annual national crime report included the disclaimer that "criminal homicide is largely a societal problem which is beyond the control of the police." Policing, it was understood, can only respond to crime after the fact; preventing it is the domain of government welfare programs.

View Full Image

Barbara Kelley
 .The 1960s themselves offered a challenge to the poverty-causes-crime thesis. Homicides rose 43%, despite an expanding economy and a surge in government jobs for inner-city residents. The Great Depression also contradicted the idea that need breeds predation, since crime rates dropped during that prolonged crisis. The academy's commitment to root causes apologetics nevertheless persisted. Andrew Karmen of New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice echoed Cloward and Ohlin in 2000 in his book "New York Murder Mystery." Crime, he wrote, is "a distorted form of social protest." And as the current recession deepened, liberal media outlets called for more government social programs to fight the coming crime wave. In late 2008, the New York Times urged President Barack Obama to crank up federal spending on after-school programs, social workers, and summer jobs. "The economic crisis," the paper's editorialists wrote, "has clearly created the conditions for more crime and more gangs—among hopeless, jobless young men in the inner cities."

Even then crime patterns were defying expectations. And by the end of 2009, the purported association between economic hardship and crime was in shambles. According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, homicide dropped 10% nationwide in the first six months of 2009; violent crime dropped 4.4% and property crime dropped 6.1%. Car thefts are down nearly 19%. The crime plunge is sharpest in many areas that have been hit the hardest by the housing collapse. Unemployment in California is 12.3%, but homicides in Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Times reported recently, dropped 25% over the course of 2009. Car thefts there are down nearly 20%.

The recession crime free fall continues a trend of declining national crime rates that began in the 1990s, during a very different economy. The causes of that long-term drop are hotly disputed, but an increase in the number of people incarcerated had a large effect on crime in the last decade and continues to affect crime rates today, however much anti-incarceration activists deny it. The number of state and federal prisoners grew fivefold between 1977 and 2008, from 300,000 to 1.6 million.

***

The spread of data-driven policing has also contributed to the 2000s' crime drop. At the start of the recession, the two police chiefs who confidently announced that their cities' crime rates would remain recession-proof were Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton and New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. As New York Police Commissioner in the mid-1990s, Mr. Bratton pioneered the intensive use of crime data to determine policing strategies and to hold precinct commanders accountable—a process known as Compstat. Commissioner Kelly has continued Mr. Bratton's revolutionary policies, leading to New York's stunning 16-year 77% crime drop. The two police leaders were true to their word. In 2009, the city of L.A. saw a 17% drop in homicides, an 8% drop in property crimes, and a 10% drop in violent crimes. In New York, homicides fell 19%, to their lowest level since reliable records were first kept in 1963.

The Compstat mentality is the opposite of root causes excuse-making; it holds that policing can and must control crime for the sake of urban economic viability. More and more police chiefs have adopted the Compstat philosophy of crime-fighting and the information-based policing techniques that it spawned. Their success in lowering crime shows that the government can control antisocial behavior and provide public safety through enforcing the rule of law. Moreover, the state has the moral right and obligation to do so, regardless of economic conditions or income inequality.

The recession could still affect crime rates if cities cut their police forces and states start releasing prisoners early. Both forms of cost-saving would be self-defeating. Public safety is the precondition for thriving urban life. In 1990s New York, crime did not drop because the economy improved; rather, the city's economy revived because crime was cut in half. Keeping crime rates low now is the best guarantee that cities across the country will be able to exploit the inevitable economic recovery when it comes.

Ms. Mac Donald is a contributing editor at the Manhattan Institute's City Journal.
26128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Salute to West Point on: January 04, 2010, 07:55:52 PM
Even in the age of emails, blogs and tweets, the formal letter can still command attention. Especially when it bears the signature of the Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point—and congratulates the recipient on his appointment.

Along with hundreds of other anxious high-school seniors, my nephew opened such a letter over the Christmas holidays. For his family, it brought back many memories. Just about all of us live within an hour's drive of West Point. For most of our lives, the academy has been a beautiful backdrop: for football games, wedding receptions, the occasional drive up for lunch at the Thayer Hotel, and so on.

Now the beauty mixes with apprehension. For me it was brought home in 2006, when I attended the commencement as part of the president's entourage. Theirs was the first class to enter West Point after the attacks of Sept. 11. As I watched these happy graduates, I thought: In a few years, some of those celebrating today will not be with us. Thus far, alas, war has claimed two young men who received the gold bars of a second lieutenant that day: Lt. Nick A. Dewhirst, killed in Afghanistan; Lt. Timothy W. Cunningham, killed in Iraq.

Can my nephew comprehend the sacrifice he commits himself to? The critics say we romanticize war and hide the realities from those who will do the dying. I'm not so sure. At West Point this past autumn for a football game, I went to the refrigerator of a helicopter pilot-turned-instructor in search of a Diet Coke. On the door I found a yellow ribbon with the name of the officer's West Point roommate, an infantry captain named Doug DiCenzo who was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad when his son was just 16 months old.


.On a campus where the cemetery includes the dead from two centuries of American wars, sobering reminders are everywhere: the young wife and children left behind, the good friends who do not make the trip home, the empty space at the reunion. The true glory of West Point is that all know the fear and cost of war but refuse to surrender to them.

Whether character can be taught is an age-old question; usually we refer to its being built. West Point does not pretend its cadets are immune from the normal temptations of our culture. After all, they come from the same towns and high schools other universities draw from. The difference is that at West Point, words such as duty, honor and country are spoken without irony—and a scandal is a scandal because behavior is still measured against standards.

A paper on the academy's Web site explains the honor code this way: "An officer who is not trustworthy cannot be tolerated; in some professions the cost of dishonesty is measured in dollars—in the Army, the cost is measured in human lives. The ability of West Point to educate, train and inspire outstanding leaders of character for our Army is predicated upon the functional necessity of honesty."

In other words, the promise is not that West Point will produce the next generation of Grants, MacArthurs, Eisenhowers or Petraeuses—though it will. The promise is more consequential. To the moms and dads of all those in uniform, West Point says: When America puts your sons and daughters in harm's way, they will be led by men and woman of character and ability.

In the days since my nephew's acceptance, the reaction has been interesting. Some are impressed. Others . . . well, let's just say the assumption often seems to be that a student chooses a service academy because he or she was not accepted anywhere better, or is going simply because it's free.

In my nephew's case, neither is true. His father and his father's father both served in the Navy; his other grandfather was a Marine. So his loved ones are a little saddened when we come across people apparently unable to process the idea that an intelligent young American with the world at his feet could be led by a sense of duty to West Point in a time of war.

When I look at my nephew, I can still see the baby I once lugged to the car in his carrier. A few springs from now, if he rises to this challenge as we know he will, I will sit in that stadium high above the Hudson as Timothy Dore, USMA Class of '14, takes his place in that long gray line. Around me that day will be thousands of other uncles, aunts, moms, dads, brothers, sisters and grandparents who are now, with great pride, passing around a letter from the West Point superintendent like the one my nephew received.

This academy is not for everyone. But the choice made by these young men and women makes this uncle want to salute.
26129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: False START on: January 04, 2010, 07:51:37 PM
The Obama Administration continues to negotiate with the Russians over a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start), but one big question is whether it can get the result through the U.S. Senate. A group of Senators is telling the White House that it will have little or no chance of success unless it also moves ahead with nuclear-warhead modernization.

The warning comes in a recent letter from 40 Republican Senators and Independent-Democrat Joe Lieberman reminding the President of his legal responsibility under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010 to present budget estimates for modernizing U.S. nuclear forces along with any new Start pact.

The Senators are following the suggestions of the important, but too little publicized, recommendations of last year's Perry-Schlesinger commission on the safety and operations of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The bipartisan report noted, among other things, that the U.S. needs new warheads and nuclear research facilities. President Obama, in his utopian antinuclear mode, has opposed a new warhead despite widespread support for it at the Pentagon, from Defense Secretary Robert Gates on down.

Mr. Obama would be wise to take the warning seriously because he'll need 67 Senate votes to approve any arms-control treaty. Without modernization, it's unlikely that Senators will vote for the significant and probably unwise reductions in U.S. nuclear delivery vehicles that Mr. Obama is negotiating with the Russians.

However, we're not surprised to hear that the President is getting contrary political advice from his Vice President, Joe Biden, who is arguing that the White House should try to get the 67 votes on Start's merits alone. He wants to delay any nuclear modernization decision, holding it out as a carrot to offer Senators in return for ratifying the separate Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The Senate rejected the test ban pact when Bill Clinton submitted it in 1999, but Mr. Obama hopes to do better with 60 Senate Democrats backed by his global disarmament agenda.

This wouldn't be the first time Mr. Biden has misjudged a vital security issue—recall his proposal to split Iraq into three parts. The deteriorating U.S. nuclear arsenal is emerging as a big security problem, and Start won't be an easy sell even with the money for warhead upgrades. Mr. Obama could have simply renewed the 1991 Start treaty and pocketed an early diplomatic victory. Instead, he has sought something more ambitious in support of his larger disarmament dreams, and the Russians are demanding a hard bargain in return.

.The U.S. has already agreed to steep cuts in its military arsenal, even before the Administration has come out with its Nuclear Posture Review and weapons modernization plan. Last week, Russian strongman Vladimir Putin raised the ante by saying he now wants the U.S. to abandon missile defenses as part of a new Start pact. The Obama Administration's decision to downsize missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic seems to have only emboldened the Russians to push for bigger concessions.

Another issue is verification. With Start's expiration December 5, Russia has pulled inspectors from a factory that's building the next generation of Russian ICBMs and scaled back electronic monitoring—called telemetry—of missile production and movements. The U.S. is trying to undo some of this in negotiations, but Senators will want to make sure that any fix isn't merely cosmetic. If the U.S. is going to reduce its missile and warhead numbers, we need to know what the Russians have in their arsenal.

The stakes here aren't merely whether Mr. Obama can get his treaties ratified; they concern the credibility of the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Mr. Obama says he wants to stop nuclear proliferation but he will only encourage it if our allies begin to believe that the U.S. arsenal is either too small or too unreliable to protect them. Japan has already raised concerns, and with Mr. Obama unable or unwilling to stop either North Korean or Iranian nuclear ambitions, such worry will only spread.

Grand speeches about a world without nuclear weapons are crowd-pleasers at the U.N., but the U.S. Senate has an obligation to inspect the fine print before it ratifies any reduction in U.S. defenses. Senators shouldn't begin to consider a smaller arsenal until the Obama Administration takes the steps to ensure that our remaining weapons will work if we need them
26130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: January 04, 2010, 07:44:07 PM
The problem is this:

Due to the acclerating march of technology and its geometrically accelerating decline of its costs, it becomes possible to have an all seeing all recording Big Brother state.
26131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: January 04, 2010, 05:08:09 PM
GM:

That's very funny , , , and utterly non-responsive to the real issues presented.

With this we will be on the slippery slope to being watched all the time everywhere.

I didn't like this when I read Orwell's 1984, and I don't like it now. 

I don't think the Founding Fathers would put up with it ither.
26132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AQ targetting snipers back in UK on: January 04, 2010, 04:06:13 PM
Al-Qaeda target British soldiers returning from Afghanistan

British-based Islamist radicals are targeting Army soldiers - especially snipers - returning from fighting in southern Afghanistan, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.


By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
Published: 9:30AM GMT 03 Jan 2010
Soldiers from 12 Regiment Royal Artillery mark their return from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as they process through the streets of Blackpool.

In one case, a police armed response unit was called to the home of a sniper last September amid fears he was about to be murdered or abducted by al-Qaeda terrorists.

The Corporal, serving with a Scottish Regiment, was one of a two-man sniping team which shot dead 32 Taliban fighters during a six-month tour of Afghanistan.
The soldier – whom this newspaper has agreed not to name – was temporarily forced to leave home his wife and family after details of his service in Afghanistan were made public.

It can also be disclosed that a second sniper who recently returned home to the Glasgow area received death threats from suspected British-based al-Qaeda sympathisers after his personal details became known.

The threats were deemed so serious that an armed response unit was sent to his home in case terrorists tried to kidnap or kill him or members of his family.

Defence chiefs now see the situation as so serious that they have asked newspapers and broadcasters not to publicise the names or personal details of snipers serving in Helmand or of those who have recently returned.

It is understood that senior commanders believe Army snipers are being specifically targeted because they are often used to seek out and kill Taliban commanders.

In November, The Sunday Telegraph interviewed two snipers, who were not named for security reasons, serving in the reconnaissance platoon of the 1st battalion Grenadier Guards

Both soldiers had taken part in an ambush of a Taliban force as the insurgents prepared to attack a British patrol base.

The two snipers were used to initiate the ambush by shooting dead a Taliban commander who was positioning his troops prior to a planned dawn attack in the Nad-e'Ali area of central Helmand.

After more than 12 hours of fighting both soldiers said that believed that they had killed at least two insurgents each. One of the snipers also admitted that he had lost count of the number of insurgents he had killed since arriving in Helmand two months earlier but believed the number was "well into double figures".

But senior commanders requested that the two snipers not be identified in reports of the battle amid fears that the troops or their families might be attacked when they returned to Britain.

In January 2007, a plot by a Birmingham-based al-Qaeda cell to kidnap a British soldier and behead him was discovered.

The six-man cell was led by Paviz Khan, a 37-year-old father of three, who planned to kidnap a Muslim soldier and post a film of him being beheaded on the internet in a bid to deter other members of the faith from joining the British Army.

The plan was thwarted by a year-long surveillance operation by MI5 and members of the West Midlands counter-terrorist unit. Khan was later jailed for life.

A senior defence source said snipers were being targeted because theirs sole role in Afghanistan was to kill.

He added: "Sniping is a cold and calculating art. You have to be prepared to kill someone at a long range who may not be posing any direct threat to you. Every sniper who deploys to Helmand will return with several kills, many will be into double figures and this is something which is not lost on al-Qaeda or their sympathisers. Islamists would see targeting snipers as something is "acceptable" because they are killing a soldier who has killed one of their brothers."
26133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 04, 2010, 03:50:50 PM
Bomber Who Killed C.I.A. Staff Worked With Jordanian Intelligence

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- The suicide bomber who killed seven
C.I.A. officers and one Jordanian intelligence officer last
week in southeastern Afghanistan was an asset of the
Jordanian intelligence service who had been brought to
Afghanistan to help hunt down top members of the Qaeda
network, according to a Western official briefed on the
matter.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com?emc=na
26134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Big Brother Eye in the Sky on: January 04, 2010, 03:46:58 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETrc-ums8_U
26135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 04, 2010, 12:06:01 PM
Again we see underlined the Stratfor point which seems so pivotal to me:

There is no way around the fact that the ANA and the ANP will be riddled with enemy agents; therefore it is doubly key that we infiltrate the enemy!!!  That mission did not seem to succeed here.  Can we have any hope in succeeding at this mission when both potential friends and the enemy have heard our President say we will begin leaving in 18 months?
26136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Latin America on: January 04, 2010, 12:02:31 PM
No argument from me.

The Obama-Clinton policy on Honduras has been unusually incompetent and/or malicious.
26137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Brazil on: January 04, 2010, 11:22:31 AM
By SUSAN KAUFMAN PURCELL
Until recently, the Obama administration assumed that Brazil and the United States were natural allies who shared many foreign policy interests, particularly in Latin America. Brazil, after all, is a friendly democracy with a growing market economy and Western cultural values.

It will soon be the fifth largest economy in the world. It recently discovered billions of barrels of petroleum in the deep waters off its coast and is an agricultural powerhouse. It has also made significant progress in eradicating poverty. It therefore seemed only natural to expect that as Brazil became "more like us," it would seek to play a more active and constructive role in this hemisphere, and that U.S. and Brazilian political and security interests would largely coincide.

This now seems like wishful thinking. On a number of important political and security issues, Washington and Brasilia recently have not seen eye to eye. Nor has Brazil shown much leadership in tackling the important political and security challenges facing the region.

One example is Brazil's role in UNASUR (Union of South American Nations). At a September meeting in Quito focused on regional security issues, topics not discussed included the multibillion-dollar arms race in the region, the granting of sanctuary and other forms of aid by Venezuela to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Colombian narco-guerrilla group, and the growing nuclear cooperation between Iran and Venezuela. Instead, Brazil joined UNASUR in criticizing Colombia for having agreed to allow the U.S. to use seven of its military bases for counterterrorist and counter narcotics activities inside Colombia.

The fact that Colombia has been under attack by an armed guerrilla group supported by some members of the Union was not considered relevant to the organization's decision to criticize Colombia for seeking help from Washington. Furthermore, none of the democratic countries in South America, including Brazil, has offered military or even rhetorical support to besieged Colombia.

Another example is Brazil's changing position concerning the importance of democratic governance. Both Brazil and the U.S. initially opposed the Honduran military's removal from office of the democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya, despite the fact that Mr. Zelaya had violated Honduras's constitution.

Brazil's interest in democracy in Honduras does not, however, extend to Cuba. Only weeks earlier, Brazil voted in the Organization of American States to lift the membership ban on Cuba—a country that has not held a democratic election in 50 years. This decision contradicted the organization's democratic charter.

Brazil also has never tried to mobilize support against Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's use of democratic institutions to systematically destroy that country's democracy. On the contrary, Brazil's President Lula da Silva is supporting Venezuela's efforts to join Mercosur (a South American customs union), despite rules that limit membership to democratic countries.

View Full Image

Associated Press
 
Brazilian President Lula da Silva, right, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
.Finally, there is the issue of Brazil's apparent lack of concern regarding Iran's increasing penetration into Latin America through Venezuela. There are now weekly flights between Caracas and Tehran that bring passengers and cargo into Venezuela without any customs or immigration controls. Venezuela has also signed agreements with Iran for transferring nuclear technology, and there is speculation it is giving Iran access to Venezuelan uranium deposits.

Instead of expressing concern over Iran's activities in Latin America, Brazil is drawing closer to Tehran and hopes to expand its $2 billion bilateral trade to $10 billion in the near future. President Lula recently hosted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Brazil. He reiterated his support for Iran's right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful uses, while insisting that there is no evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

Several conclusions can be drawn from Brazil's behavior. First, Brazil wants to prevent the U.S. from expanding its military involvement in South America, which Brazil regards as its sphere of influence. Second, Brazil much prefers working within multilateral institutions, rather than acting unilaterally.

Within these institutions, Brazil seeks to integrate all regional players, achieve consensus and avoid conflict and fragmentation—all worthy goals. But these are procedural, rather than substantive, goals.

The Americas in the News
Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal's Americas page.
.Stated differently, Brazil's multilateral efforts in the region seem to value the appearance of leadership over finding real solutions to the growing political and security threats facing Latin America. These conclusions do not imply that the U.S. and Brazil have no overlapping interests, or that they cannot work together to solve particular regional or even global issues. They do mean Washington may need to rethink its assumptions regarding the extent to which Brazil can be relied on to deal with political and security problems in Latin America in ways that are also compatible with U.S. interests.

Ms. Purcell is the director of the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami.
26138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: NK collapse? on: January 04, 2010, 11:19:47 AM
By PETER M. BECK
North Korea's nuclear program has preoccupied foreign policy makers for years, but it's not the only problem on the Korean Peninsula. Kim Jong Il's regime looks increasingly unstable and could collapse. That could lead to North Korea's reunification with the South and could present foreign leaders with the expensive task of modernizing the North's economy.

There are three plausible scenarios for a Korean reunification. One would be sudden and bloodless like what Germany experienced. The worst would be a reunification marked by the kind of violence Vietnam suffered. The third is somewhere between the first two and akin to the chaotic post-Communist transitions of Romania and Albania.

Any one of these outcomes would be expensive. The North's economy is in shambles. It collapsed in the 1990s amid a famine that likely killed hundreds of thousands of people. Fixing the economy will require new infrastructure, starting with the power grid, railway lines and ports. This alone will cost tens of billions of dollars. Few of the North's factories meet modern standards and it will take years to rehabilitate agricultural lands. The biggest expense of all will be equalizing North Koreans' incomes with their richer cousins in the South, whether through aid transfers or investments in education and health care.

Even the best-case German model will cause South Koreans heartburn. Despite the $2 trillion West Germany has paid over two decades, Bonn had it relatively easy in the beginning. East Germany's population was only one-quarter of West Germany's, and in 1989 East German per capita income was one-third of the West's. The two Germanies also had extensive trade ties.

North Korea's per capita income is less than 5% of the South's. Each year the dollar value of South Korea's GDP expansion equals the entire North Korean economy. The North's population is half the South's and rising thanks to a high birth rate. North and South also barely trade with each other. To catch up to the South, North Korea will need more resources than East Germany required if living standards on both sides of the peninsula are to be close to each other.

More than a dozen reports by governments, academics and investment banks in recent years have attempted to estimate the cost of Korean unification. At the low end, the Rand Corporation estimates $50 billion. But that assumes only a doubling of Northern incomes from current levels, which would leave incomes in the North at less than 10% of the South.

At the high end, Credit Suisse estimated last year that unification would cost $1.5 trillion, but with North Korean incomes rising to only 60% of those in the South. I estimate that raising Northern incomes to 80% of Southern levels—which would likely be a political necessity—would cost anywhere from $2 trillion to $5 trillion, spread out over 30 years. That would work out to at least $40,000 per capita if distributed solely among South Koreans.

Who would foot such a bill? China is the greatest supporter of the current regime in Pyongyang, with trade, investment and economic assistance worth $3 billion a year. Even if that flow continues, it's only a fraction of the $67 billion a year needed to equal $2 trillion over 30 years. Japan is willing to pay $10 billion in reparations for having colonized the North in the 20th century, but that too would barely make a dent.

That leaves international institutions like the World Bank as well as South Korea and the United States. Building a modern economy in North Korea would be a wise investment in peace and prosperity in North Asia. Policy makers need to think about where that money will come from and how it should be spent to minimize the risk of wasting it in post-reunification confusion.

Mr. Beck is the Pantech Research Fellow at Stanford University and teaches at American University and Ewha Womans University.
26139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2006: Napolitano on the Patriot Act on: January 04, 2010, 11:06:41 AM
I am in a conversation wherein someone has asserted the following article.  Is the article sound or not?  Why?  Thanks for the help:
=========================
Congress Has Assaulted Our Freedoms in the Patriot Act

by Andrew P. Napolitano



The compromise version of the Patriot Act to which House and Senate conferees agreed last week and for which the House voted yesterday is an unforgivable assault on basic American values and core constitutional liberties. Unless amended in response to the courageous efforts of a few dozen senators from both parties, the new Patriot Act will continue to give federal agents the power to write their own search warrants – the statute’s newspeak terminology calls them "national security letters" – and serve them on a host of persons and entities that regularly gather and store sensitive, private information on virtually every American.

Congress once respected the Fourth Amendment until it began cutting holes in it. Before Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in 1977, Americans and even non-citizens physically present here enjoyed the right to privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. That Amendment, which was written out of a revulsion to warrants that let British soldiers look for any tangible thing anywhere they chose, specifically requires that the government demonstrate to a judge and the judge specifically find the existence of probable cause of criminal activity on the part of the person whose property the government wishes to search. The Fourth Amendment commands that only a judge can authorize a search warrant.

FISA unconstitutionally changed the probable cause of criminality requirement to probable cause of employment by a foreign government, hostile or friendly. Under FISA, if the government can demonstrate the foreign agency or employment status of the person whose things it wishes to search, the secret FISA court will issue the search warrant.

But even FISA respects constitutional liberty, since it prohibits prosecutions based on evidence obtained from these warrants. Thus, if a FISA warrant reveals that the embassy janitor is really a spy who beats his wife, he would not and could not be prosecuted for either crime because the evidence of his crimes was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of a judicial finding of probable cause of criminal activity. Instead of being prosecuted, he would be deported.

A year later in 1978, cutting yet another hole in the Fourth Amendment, Congress revealed its distaste for fidelity to the Constitution and its ignorance of the British government’s abuse of the colonists by enacting the Orwellian–named, Right to Financial Privacy Act. This statute, for the first time in American history, let federal agents write their own search warrants, but limited the subjects of those warrants to financial institutions. Just like FISA, it recognized the unconstitutional nature of evidence obtained by a self-written search warrant, and banned the use of such evidence in criminal prosecutions.

In 1986, Congress continued to cut. It disregarded yet again the Fourth Amendment’s protection of privacy when it enacted the Electronic Communications Privacy Act which allowed federal agents to serve self-written search warrants on collectors of digital financial data, but continued to recognize that evidence thus obtained was constitutionally incompetent for criminal prosecution purposes.

The deepest cut came on October 15, 2001 when Congress enacted the Patriot Act. With minimal floor debate in the Senate and no floor debate in the House (House members were given only 30 minutes to read the 315 page bill), Congress enacted this most unpatriotic rejection of privacy and constitutional guarantees. Together with its offspring the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal 2004 and the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004, the Patriot Act not only permits the execution of self-written search warrants on a host of new subjects, it rejects the no-criminal-prosecution protections of its predecessors by requiring evidence obtained contrary to the Fourth Amendment to be turned over to prosecutors and mandating that such evidence is constitutionally competent in criminal prosecutions.

The new version of the Patriot Act which the Senate will debate this weekend purports to make all of this congressional rejection of our history, our values, and our Constitution the law of the land.

So, if your representative in the House has voted, or your Senators do vote, for the House/Senate conference approved version, they will be authorizing federal agents on their own, in violation of the Constitution, and without you knowing it, to obtain records about you from your accountant, bank, boat dealer, bodega, book store, car dealer, casino, computer server, credit union, dentist, HMO, hospital, hotel manager, insurance company, jewelry store, lawyer, library, pawn broker, pharmacist, physician, postman, real estate agent, supermarket, tax collectors, telephone company, travel agency, and trust company, and use the evidence thus obtained in any criminal prosecution against you.

Why would Congress, whose members swore to uphold the Constitution, authorize such a massive evasion of it by the federal agents we have come to rely upon to protect our freedoms? Why would Congress nullify the Fourth Amendment–guaranteed right to privacy for which we and our forbearers have fought and paid dearly? How could the men and women we elect to fortify our freedoms and write our laws so naïvely embrace the less-freedom-equals-more-security canard? Why have we fought for 230 years to keep foreign governments from eviscerating our freedoms if we will voluntarily let our own government do so?

The unfortunate answer to these questions is the inescapable historical truth that those in government – from both parties and with a few courageous exceptions – do not feel constrained by the Constitution. They think they can do whatever they want. They have hired vast teams of government lawyers to twist and torture the plain meaning of the Fourth Amendment to justify their aggrandizement of power to themselves. They vote for legislation they have not read and do not understand. Their only fear is being overruled by judges. In the case of the Patriot Act, they should be afraid. The federal judges who have published opinions on the challenges to it have all found it constitutionally flawed.

The Fourth Amendment worked for 200 years to facilitate law enforcement and protect constitutional freedoms before Congress began to cut holes in it. Judges sit in every state in the Union 24/7 to hear probable cause applications for search warrants. There is simply no real demonstrable evidence that our American-value-driven-constitutional-privacy-protection-system is in need of such a radical change.

A self-written search warrant, even one called a national security letter, is the ultimate constitutional farce. What federal agents would not authorize themselves to seize whatever they wished? Why even bother with such a meaningless requirement? We might as well let the feds rummage through any office, basement, computer, or bedroom they choose. Who would trust government agents with this unfettered unreviewable power? The Framers did not. Why would government agents bother going to a judge with probable cause seeking a search warrant if they can simply write their own? Big Brother must have caught on because federal agents have written and executed self-written search warrants on over 120,000 unsuspecting Americans since October 2001.

Is this the society we want? Have we ultimately elected a government to spy on all of us? The Fourth Amendment is the lynchpin of our personal privacy and individual dignity. Without the Fourth Amendment’s protections, we will become another East Germany. The Congress must recognize this before it is too late.

December 16, 2005

Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel, and the author of Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks Its Own Laws.
26140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The biggest losers on: January 04, 2010, 10:36:45 AM
Happy New Year, readers, but before we get on with the debates of 2010, there's still some ugly 2009 business to report: To wit, the Treasury's Christmas Eve taxpayer massacre lifting the $400 billion cap on potential losses for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as well as the limits on what the failed companies can borrow.

The Treasury is hoping no one notices, and no wonder. Taxpayers are continuing to buy senior preferred stock in the two firms to cover their growing losses—a combined $111 billion so far. When Treasury first bailed them out in September 2008, Congress put a $200 billion limit ($100 billion each) on federal assistance. Last year, the Treasury raised the potential commitment to $400 billion. Now the limit on taxpayer exposure is, well, who knows?

The firms have made clear that they may only be able to pay the preferred dividends they owe taxpayers by borrowing still more money . . . from taxpayers. Said Fannie Mae in its most recent quarterly report: "We expect that, for the foreseeable future, the earnings of the company, if any, will not be sufficient to pay the dividends on the senior preferred stock. As a result, future dividend payments will be effectively funded from equity drawn from the Treasury."

The loss cap is being lifted because the government has directed both companies to pursue money-losing strategies by modifying mortgages to prevent foreclosures. Most of their losses are still coming from subprime and Alt-A mortgage bets made during the boom, but Fannie reported last quarter that loan modifications resulted in $7.7 billion in losses, up from $2.2 billion the previous quarter.

The government wants taxpayers to think that these are profit-seeking companies being nursed back to health, like AIG. But at least AIG is trying to make money. Fan and Fred are now designed to lose money, transferring wealth from renters and homeowners to overextended borrowers.

Even better for the political class, much of this is being done off the government books. The White House budget office still doesn't fully account for Fannie and Freddie's spending as federal outlays, though Washington controls the companies. Nor does it include as part of the national debt the $5 trillion in mortgages—half the market—that the companies either own or guarantee. The companies have become Washington's ultimate off-balance-sheet vehicles, the political equivalent of Citigroup's SIVs, that are being used to subsidize and nationalize mortgage finance.

This subterfuge also explains the Christmas Eve timing. After December 31, Team Obama would have needed the consent of Congress to raise the taxpayer exposure beyond $400 billion. By law, negative net worth at the companies forces them into "receivership," which means they have to be wound down.

Unlimited bailouts will now allow the Treasury to keep them in conservatorship, which means they can help to conserve the Democratic majority in Congress by increasing their role in housing finance. With the Federal Reserve planning to step back as early as March from buying $1.25 trillion in mortgage-backed securities, Team Obama is counting on Fan and Fred to help reflate the housing bubble.

That's why on Christmas Eve Treasury also rolled back a key requirement of the 2008 bailout—that Fan and Fred begin shrinking the portfolios of mortgages they own on their own account, which total a combined $1.5 trillion. Risk-taking will now increase, so that the government can once again follow Barney Frank's infamous advice that the companies "roll the dice" on subsidies for affordable housing.

All of which would seem to make the CEOs of Fannie and Freddie the world's most overpaid bureaucrats. A release from the Federal Housing Finance Agency that also fell in the Christmas Eve forest reports that, after presiding over a combined $24 billion in losses last quarter, Fannie CEO Michael Williams and Freddie boss Ed Haldeman are getting substantial raises. Each is now eligible for up to $6 million annually.

Freddie also has one of the world's highest-paid human resources executives. Paul George's total compensation can run up to $2.7 million. It must require a rare set of skills to spot executives capable of losing billions of dollars.

Where is Treasury's pay czar when we actually need him? You guessed it, Fannie and Freddie are exempt from the rules applied to the TARP banks. The government gave away the game that these firms are no longer in the business of making profits when it announced that the CEOs will be paid entirely in cash, though it is discouraging that practice at other big banks. Who would want stock in the Department of Housing and Urban Development?

Meanwhile, these biggest of Beltway losers continue to be missing from the debate over financial reform. The Treasury still hasn't offered its long-promised proposals even as it presses reform on banks that played a far smaller role in the financial mania and panic. Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D., Conn.) and ranking Republican Richard Shelby recently issued a joint statement on their "progress" toward financial regulatory reform, but their list of goals also doesn't mention Fannie or Freddie.

Since Mr. Shelby has long argued for reform of these government-sponsored enterprises, their absence suggests that Mr. Dodd's longtime effort to protect Fan and Fred is once again succeeding. It would be worse than a shame if, having warned about the iceberg for years, Mr. Shelby now joins Mr. Dodd in pretending that these ships aren't sinking.

In today's Washington, we suppose, it only makes sense that the companies that did the most to cause the meltdown are being kept alive to lose even more money. The politicians have used the panic as an excuse to reform everything but themselves.
26141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Iran expands its target list on: January 04, 2010, 10:34:12 AM
By TIMOTHY J. GERAGHTY
The nagging question of the nuclear age has been what if a madman gets hold of an atomic bomb? That question is about to be answered as Iran's defiance puts it on a collision course with the West.

On Nov. 4, 2009, Israeli commandos intercepted an Antiguan-flagged ship 100 miles off the Israeli coast. It was carrying hundreds of tons of weapons from Iran and bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Since the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah war, Iran has rearmed Hezbollah with 40,000 rockets and missiles that will likely rain on Israeli cities—and even European cities and U.S. military bases in the Middle East—if Iran is attacked. Our 200,000 troops in 33 bases are vulnerable. Shortly before this weapons seizure, Hamas test-fired a missile capable of striking Israel's largest city, Tel Aviv.

Iran is capable of disrupting Persian Gulf shipping lanes, which could cause the price of oil to surge above $300 a barrel. Iran could also create mayhem in oil markets by attacking Saudi oil refineries. Moreover, Iran possesses Soviet made SS-N-22 "Sunburn" supersonic antiship missiles that it could use to contest a naval blockade.

Iran could unleash suicide bombers in Iraq and Afghanistan or, more ominously, activate Hezbollah sleeper cells in the U.S. to carry out coordinated attacks nationwide. FBI, CIA and other U.S. officials have acknowledged in congressional testimony that Hezbollah has a working partnership with Mexican drug cartels and has been using cartel smuggling routes to get personnel and contraband into the U.S.

While Iranian centrifuges continue to produce low-enriched uranium, the mullahs and their henchmen have been carrying out a campaign of deception. In October 2009, Iran rejected a plan to ship its low-enriched uranium out of country, primarily to Russia and France, to be highly enriched and then sent back to Iran for "peaceful medical purposes."

On Nov. 28, 2009, reacting to increased pressure from the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran warned it may pull out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This would seriously undermine international attempts to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program. Two days later, Iran announced plans to build 10 new nuclear plants within six years.

In another sphere, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez are openly cooperating to "oppose world hegemony," as Mr. Ahmadinejan has said, while weekly flights between Iran and Venezuela are not monitored for personnel and cargo. Meanwhile, Russia is building an arms plant in Venezuela to produce AK-103 automatic rifles and finalizing contracts to send 53 military helicopters to the country.

I have seen this play before. In 1983, I was the Marine commander of the U.S. Multinational Peacekeeping Force in Beirut, Lebanon. Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) Lebanon contingent trained and equipped Hezbollah to execute attacks that killed 241 of my men and 58 French Peacekeepers on Oct. 23, 1983.

Today, Hezbollah directly threatens Israel, destabilizes Lebanon, and undercuts the Israeli-Palestinian peace accords. Something similar is underway in Venezuela. Remember Hezbollah used the Beirut truck-bomb model for the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires on March 17, 1992 and the July 18, 1994 attack on the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association that killed 85 and wounded 200.

The man directly responsible for those bombings was the commander of the IRGC's Quds Force, Gen. Ahmad Vahidi. He is listed on Interpol's most wanted list and was a key operative in the 1983 attacks on peacekeepers in Lebanon. In August 2009, he was named Iran's minister of defense. He succeeded Gen. Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, who was the commander of the IRGC Lebanon contingent and the chief organizer of the 1983 Beirut bombings. Both have Beirut peacekeepers' blood on their hands and are the same key leaders who today are orchestrating Iranian deception and defiance as they march lock-step toward their ultimate goal—nuclear weapons.

Col. Geraghty, USMC (Ret.), is the author of "Peacekeepers at War; Beirut 1983—The Marine Commander Tells His Story" (Potomac Books, 2009).
26142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: As usual Krugman get it *ss backwards on: January 04, 2010, 10:26:31 AM
That 1937 Feeling Recommend
by PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: January 3, 2010

Here’s what’s coming in economic news: The next employment report could show the economy adding jobs for the first time in two years. The next G.D.P. report is likely to show solid growth in late 2009. There will be lots of bullish commentary — and the calls we’re already hearing for an end to stimulus, for reversing the steps the government and the Federal Reserve took to prop up the economy, will grow even louder.

But if those calls are heeded, we’ll be repeating the great mistake of 1937, when the Fed and the Roosevelt administration decided that the Great Depression was over, that it was time for the economy to throw away its crutches. Spending was cut back, monetary policy was tightened — and the economy promptly plunged back into the depths.

This shouldn’t be happening. Both Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, and Christina Romer, who heads President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, are scholars of the Great Depression. Ms. Romer has warned explicitly against re-enacting the events of 1937. But those who remember the past sometimes repeat it anyway.

As you read the economic news, it will be important to remember, first of all, that blips — occasional good numbers, signifying nothing — are common even when the economy is, in fact, mired in a prolonged slump. In early 2002, for example, initial reports showed the economy growing at a 5.8 percent annual rate. But the unemployment rate kept rising for another year.

And in early 1996 preliminary reports showed the Japanese economy growing at an annual rate of more than 12 percent, leading to triumphant proclamations that “the economy has finally entered a phase of self-propelled recovery.” In fact, Japan was only halfway through its lost decade.

Such blips are often, in part, statistical illusions. But even more important, they’re usually caused by an “inventory bounce.” When the economy slumps, companies typically find themselves with large stocks of unsold goods. To work off their excess inventories, they slash production; once the excess has been disposed of, they raise production again, which shows up as a burst of growth in G.D.P. Unfortunately, growth caused by an inventory bounce is a one-shot affair unless underlying sources of demand, such as consumer spending and long-term investment, pick up.

Which brings us to the still grim fundamentals of the economic situation.

During the good years of the last decade, such as they were, growth was driven by a housing boom and a consumer spending surge. Neither is coming back. There can’t be a new housing boom while the nation is still strewn with vacant houses and apartments left behind by the previous boom, and consumers — who are $11 trillion poorer than they were before the housing bust — are in no position to return to the buy-now-save-never habits of yore.

What’s left? A boom in business investment would be really helpful right now. But it’s hard to see where such a boom would come from: industry is awash in excess capacity, and commercial rents are plunging in the face of a huge oversupply of office space.

Can exports come to the rescue? For a while, a falling U.S. trade deficit helped cushion the economic slump. But the deficit is widening again, in part because China and other surplus countries are refusing to let their currencies adjust.

So the odds are that any good economic news you hear in the near future will be a blip, not an indication that we’re on our way to sustained recovery. But will policy makers misinterpret the news and repeat the mistakes of 1937? Actually, they already are.

The Obama fiscal stimulus plan is expected to have its peak effect on G.D.P. and jobs around the middle of this year, then start fading out. That’s far too early: why withdraw support in the face of continuing mass unemployment? Congress should have enacted a second round of stimulus months ago, when it became clear that the slump was going to be deeper and longer than originally expected. But nothing was done — and the illusory good numbers we’re about to see will probably head off any further possibility of action.

Meanwhile, all the talk at the Fed is about the need for an “exit strategy” from its efforts to support the economy. One of those efforts, purchases of long-term U.S. government debt, has already come to an end. It’s widely expected that another, purchases of mortgage-backed securities, will end in a few months. This amounts to a monetary tightening, even if the Fed doesn’t raise interest rates directly — and there’s a lot of pressure on Mr. Bernanke to do that too.

Will the Fed realize, before it’s too late, that the job of fighting the slump isn’t finished? Will Congress do the same? If they don’t, 2010 will be a year that began in false economic hope and ended in grief.
26143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Real Motives on: January 04, 2010, 07:23:33 AM
Real Motives
By Tzvi Freeman

No person can know his own inner motives.

He may be kind because kindness brings him pleasure.

He may be wise because wisdom is music to his soul.

He may become a martyr burned in fire because his nature is to defy, his nature is to be fire.

When can you know that your motives are sincere? Only when it is not within your nature to do this thing.

And how do you know that it is not within your nature? Only when you travel two opposite paths at once.

26144  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Whoops! Not so good after all. on: January 03, 2010, 09:27:13 PM
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_c...ers_to_co.html


She's no victim, after all.
A Queens teenager who stabbed a man to death in a subway was facing manslaughter charges Tuesday night after cops said she was to blame in the Christmas Eve fracas.
Cyan Brown, 16, was originally portrayed as a plucky victim who stabbed Thomas Winston, 29, in self-defense after a group of men tried to attack her.
"She was the main aggressor, without a doubt," a police source told The Daily News.
Brown got into a shouting match with Winston after one of her male friends bumped into him on an F train at the 21st St.-Queensbridge station.
Winston, who was with a group of pals, asked the man to apologize, setting off a confrontation that apparently spilled on to the sidewalk in front of a chicken joint.
"You could say excuse me," the slain man said, according to cops.
That's when Brown, who lives in the nearby Queensbridge Houses, got involved in the battle of words.
"She takes over, gets mouthy," the source said.
Moments later, she pulled a knife and stabbed Winston, cops said.
"She reaches in her bag, takes out a weapon, lunges at him and cuts him," the source said.
Winston's friends chased after Brown and tried to drag her off the F train - but she escaped.

Witnesses told cops it appeared the teen was fleeing from a gang of aggressive men.
Brown's mom later told reporters her daughter was protecting herself from the men who tried to fondle her when she stabbed Winston.
Cops also bought the self-defense claim up to a point but after further investigation, they poked holes in that account of the stabbing.
Brown turned herself in for questioning Tuesday afternoon at the 114th Precinct. She is expected to be arraigned today on manslaughter and weapons charges.
"We located an eyewitness to the stabbing," Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne said, adding that the witness picked Brown out of a lineup. "As a result, she has been arrested."

Winston was the father of a baby girl.

He was living in a homeless shelter and he was trying to turn his life around, his family said.

Relatives portrayed him as a peaceful person who never should have been killed on his way to get a subway train.

"When you stab somebody in the heart it should be murder first-degree," said his aunt, Diane Greenspan.

"I hope justice will be served."
26145  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / "He had his Art" (c DBI) on: January 03, 2010, 09:22:48 PM
Copyrighted.  Share only by posting this URL elsewhere please. 

He Had His Art
written by Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
(c DBInc)

Several years back, a man I had fought at a "Dog Brothers Gathering" went out behind his school and blew his brains out.  He was involved in intense law enforcement work and I was told that his marriage was ending.  He left two daughters and a separated wife.

He was a part of the extended Inosanto Tribe as well the Dog Brothers tribe and so I mentioned it to Guro Inosanto.  He was surprised, and instantly exclaimed "How could he have done that?  He had his Art!"

As I tried explaining how perhaps there had been gremlins planted or unleashed by his work, and that perhaps he had cracked as his family was breaking up, Guro seemed to not even care what the reasons were-- he had his Art and why had he not turned to it?

I certainly had no answer in his case, but began to reflect upon the Art and its larger role in life.

At its core level, martial arts is about Love, the belief that you (and those you wish to protect) are worthy of defending from the Aggression of others.

So what is Aggression for?

In DBMA we often look at things through a lens of evolutionary biology-psychology and speak of the three reasons for Aggression: Territory, Hierarchy, and Reproduction.  There is much value in this perspective-- but we do not experience our lives in terms of evolution.

We experience our lives as individuals living the time we have.  As men, this usually means we are The Protector.  The Protector faces a great dichotomy-- he must be ready to connect with his Darkness in order to neutralize or defeat the Darkness of others-- and at the same time be conscious of his own Shadow tricking him into being the Problem instead of the Solution.  The greater this dichotomy, the profounder the transformation that results from balancing its halves successfully.

Thus, as a natural person living with our Intelligence and our Animal Natures in service of our Heart, (I refer here to the three corners of the triangle of the DBMA emblem: "Mind, Heart & Balls") we come to "the three H's of Bando: Hurting, Healing, and Harmonizing".

Typically we come to the Art seeking to learn how to Hurt.  In the process of learning to do so, we too are hurt, and thus develop the need to Heal ourselves.  With this beginning experience of our own mortality, with empathy we learn to see others as no different from us.  From there, an Awareness is available which takes us through a portal to different way of seeing things.  It is to realize that the darkness we recognize in others, named by Carl Jung  "the Shadow", is also within us, and those with whom we conflict the most have a Shadow most like our own --a truly annoying and
challenging thought this is!  Yet, by so doing we bring consciousness to our solutions to Aggression.  As Jung said in the words opening the first video in our first series, "The idea is not to imagine figures of light, but to
make the darkness conscious."

The Art becomes seen not as a matter of doing Aggression well, but of dealing well with it-which may or may not be a matter of doing it "better" than The Other.  In other words, we become increasingly able to engage with others in a Harmonious way, and become increasingly inaccessible to hostile intentions, provocations or neurosis on the part of others.

And the more grounded we are in this space, the clearer and more effective we should be in our will to act when circumstances require-and as surely as no one beats everyone, equally sure it is that there can be times and places beyond one's ability to harmonize.  If the flying fickle finger of Fate puts you on Flight 93, it is time to say "Lets Roll."

Those who dedicate their lives to protecting others (soldiers, policemen, prison guards, etc) deal with those with whom efforts at harmonization may well be suicidal.  These Protectors face the dichotomy in particularly acute form.  I remember a conversation with my good friend and hero, Dogzilla - a federal prison guard.  We were speaking as we often do, of his life at work. He runs the kitchen (a truly weapon intense environment) and is on the cell extraction team-particularly high adrenal jobs both.  "How do you do it, day after day, keeping alert surrounded by bad men with nothing better to do for the next 20 years than to study you for weakness and opportunity to exploit it?  How do you go into a cell to extract a criminally insane man in a psychotic killing state and drag him out without becoming that?"  I asked him.

"That's not the hardest part" he answered.  "The hardest part is getting in my truck at the end of the day and not going off on all the jerks on the road and going home to my wife and little girl and walking in the door in a state of love."

"So how do you do it?"

"I have my Art.  (Those words again!)  I go out back and train.  I train to be able to move through a room full of men looking to take me down and kill or make me pregnant and get out the door at the far side of the room and make it home to my family.  I enter into the space where I am capable of whatever it takes.  When I am done tuning up my body, when I am done discharging all the fear and all the unexpressed anger, and I know that I have trained with what Don Juan called 'impeccability', then my workout is done and I am ready for both my job and for my family."
26146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Embassies closed on: January 03, 2010, 09:42:28 AM
Pay attention to the part about two that were released from Gitmo


SAN'A, Yemen – The U.S. and Britain closed their embassies in Yemen on Sunday in the face of al-Qaida threats, after both countries announced an increase in aid to the government to fight the terror group linked to the failed attempt to bomb a U.S. airliner on Christmas.

The confrontation with al-Qaida's offshoot in Yemen has gained new urgency since the 23-year-old Nigerian accused in the attack, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, told American investigators he received training and instructions from the group's operatives in Yemen. President Barack Obama said Saturday that the al-Qaida offshoot was behind the attempt.

White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan said the American Embassy, which was attacked twice in 2008, was shut Sunday because of "indications al-Qaida is planning to carry out an attack against a target inside of San'a, possibly our embassy."

"We're not going to take any chances" with the lives of embassy personnel, Brennan said. A statement on the embassy's Web site announcing the closure did not say how long it would remain closed.

In London, Britain's Foreign Office said its embassy was closed for security reasons. It said officials would decide later whether to reopen it on Monday.

The closure comes as Washington is dramatically stepping up aid to Yemen to fight al-Qaida, which has built up strongholds in remote parts of the impoverished, mountainous nation where government control outside the capital is weak.

Over the weekend, Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. general who oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, announced that Washington this year will more than double the $67 million in counterterrorism aid that it provided Yemen in 2009. On Saturday, Petraeus met with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to discuss coordination in the fight against al-Qaida.

Britain announced Sunday that Washington and London will fund a counterterrorism police unit in Yemen. Britain will also host a high-level international conference Jan. 28 to come up with an international strategy to counter radicalization in Yemen.

The U.S. also provided intelligence and other help to back two Yemeni air and ground assaults on al-Qaida hide-outs last month, reported to have killed more than 60 people. Yemeni authorities said more than 30 suspected militants were among the dead.

The U.S. has increasingly provided intelligence, surveillance and training to Yemeni forces during the past year, and has provided some firepower, a senior U.S. defense official has said. Some of that assistance may be through the expanded use of unmanned drones, and the U.S. is providing funding to Yemen for helicopters and other equipment. Officials, however, say there are no U.S. ground forces or fighter aircraft in Yemen.

On Thursday, the embassy sent a notice to Americans in Yemen urging them to be vigilant about security.

Yemeni security officials said over the weekend that the country had deployed several hundred extra troops to Marib and Jouf, two mountainous eastern provinces that are al-Qaida's main strongholds in the country and where Abdulmutallab may have visited. U.S. and Yemeni investigators have been trying to track Abdulmutallab's steps in Yemen, which he visited from August until Dec. 7. He was there ostensibly to study Arabic in San'a, but he disappeared for much of that time.

Yemeni media also reported that the coast guard was increasing patrols to stop any incoming militants after an al-Qaida-linked insurgent group in Somalia, al-Shabab, claimed last week that it would send its fighters to help the terror group's offshoot there.

Al-Qaida fighters have dramatically increased their presence in Yemen over the past year, taking advantage of the San'a government's weak control over much of the country. Tribes hold sway over large areas, and many of them are discontented with the central government and have given refuge to al-Qaida fighters, both Yemenis and other Arabs coming from Saudi Arabia or war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yemen, the ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden, was the scene of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, and in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, the Yemeni government worked with Washington to crack down on al-Qaida figures on its soil.

But the terror group has rallied, announcing in January 2009 the creation of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, grouping fighters from Yemen and neighboring Saudi Arabia. The leader of the group, Naser Abdel Karim al-Wahishi, is a Yemeni who was once close to bin Laden, and two Saudis who were released from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in 2007 and 2006 have taken up senior roles — Said al-Shihri, the group's deputy leader, and Ibrahim Suleiman al-Rubaish, seen as its theological adviser.

The Yemeni government, meanwhile, has been tied down battling two separate internal rebellions in the north and south. The various conflicts and the country's poverty and lack of resources have raised fears that instability could deepen.

Located at the tip of the Arabian peninsula, Yemen straddles a strategic maritime crossroads at the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, the access point to the Suez Canal. Across the Gulf is Somalia, an even more tumultuous nation where the U.S. has said al-Qaida militants have been increasing their activity. Yemen also borders Saudi Arabia, the world's leading oil producer.

There have been a spate of assaults on the U.S. Embassy in Yemen.

In an attack in September 2008, gunmen and two vehicles packed with explosives attacked the U.S. Embassy, killing 19 people, including an 18-year-old American woman and six militants. None of those killed or wounded were U.S. diplomats or embassy employees. Al-Qaida in Yemen claimed responsibility.

In March 2008, three mortars missed the U.S. Embassy and crashed into a high school for girls nearby, killing a security guard. In March 2003, two people were shot dead and dozens more were wounded as police clashed with demonstrators trying to storm the embassy.

Last January, gunmen in a car exchanged fire with police at a checkpoint near the embassy, hours after the embassy received threats of a possible attack by al-Qaida. Nobody was injured. In April, embassy personnel were put on a one-week lockdown, barred from leaving their homes or the embassy after al-Qaida suicide bombings that targeted South Korean visitors.

As recently as July, security was upgraded in San'a after intelligence reports warned of attacks planned against the U.S. Embassy.

26147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Yemen on: January 03, 2010, 09:22:43 AM
We kick of this thread with a POTH piece by an FBI agent. 

Scenes From the War on Terrorism in Yemen
By ALI H. SOUFAN
Published: January 2, 2010

The evidence that Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen had a role in the failed Christmas Day bombing of an American passenger jet has led some to declare that Yemen is the new front in the war against the terrorist organization. But the truth is, Yemen has been a front in that war since at least Oct. 12, 2000, when Al Qaeda blew up the Navy destroyer Cole, killing 17 American sailors, in the port of Aden. The explosives for the bombing were bought in Yemen. And the attackers and their accomplices were predominantly Yemenis. Indeed, after the attack, terrorists in Qaeda camps in Afghanistan would march and chant, “We, the Yemenis, destroyed the Cole.”

As the F.B.I. case agent for the Cole investigation from 2000 to 2005, I spent years with colleagues in Yemen hunting down those responsible, and we unraveled an entire Qaeda network in the country.

Even before the Cole attack, Yemen was linked to terrorist acts. Most of the people who executed the 1998 East African embassy bombings either traveled through Yemen or used fraudulent Yemeni passports. Almost two years after the Cole, Qaeda terrorists based in Yemen struck the Limburg, a French oil tanker, off the coast of Yemen. Qaeda terrorists in Yemen also helped facilitate the attacks of 9/11. Fahd al-Quso, a Yemeni Qaeda member who confessed to me his role in the U.S.S. Cole bombing, also admitted to ferrying money to a Qaeda operative known as Khallad who was part of an important 9/11 planning meeting in Malaysia.

As recently as this past August, an assassination attempt against Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of interior in charge of security, was plotted in Yemen. The explosive mixture that the suicide bomber used in that attack was the same one that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to ignite on the passenger jet over Detroit — and in each case the terrorist hid the mixture in his underwear.

Yemen is a very appealing base for Al Qaeda for various reasons. From its position at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, the country has convenient access to Al Qaeda’s main theaters of battle, including Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Its borders are unsecured, and tribal groups sympathetic to Al Qaeda control many regions, so terrorists can move freely into, out of and around the country. And guns and explosives are readily available from Yemen’s thriving arms market.

The country’s tribal nature also makes it a relatively easy place for Al Qaeda to operate. Yemen has a weak government and powerful regional tribes, which in many ways operate as mini-governments free of central control. In addition, the government is struggling to contain both a secessionist movement in the south and a rebellion in the north. Rampant poverty and illiteracy make it easy for Al Qaeda to buy local support and manipulate Yemenis into believing its propaganda.

When I was in Yemen, I found many extremely capable officials in law enforcement and intelligence who were dedicated to stopping Al Qaeda. With their help, and with support from American intelligence and military agencies, our F.B.I. team was able to arrest and prosecute in a Yemeni court people responsible for the Cole bombing and for planning other attacks. By the time we left Yemen, in 2005, those terrorists were in prison.

Later, however, some of them “escaped,” and others were given clemency. Jamal al-Badawi, for example, a Qaeda terrorist who confessed to me his role in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, was sentenced to death by a Yemeni judge in 2004. But in 2006, he “escaped” from jail, only to turn himself in the next year — in a deal that released him from prison on a promise of good behavior. Today, Mr. Quso, the confessed Cole bomber, is not only free, he’s giving interviews and re-establishing himself as a terrorist operative.

During the past year, in an ominous sign of Yemen’s rising importance to Al Qaeda, the Saudi branch of the organization merged with the Yemeni branch to form a single terrorist group for the entire peninsula. Known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, it is based in Yemen and headed by a Yemeni, Naser Abdel-Karim al-Wahishi, who served as a close aide to Osama bin Laden. Mr. Wahishi “escaped” from jail with Mr. Badawi.

Some Yemeni government officials highly value their relationship with the United States, which provides financial aid and military training. During our investigation of the Cole bombing, when the American government made it clear to the Yemenis that they expected full cooperation, the Yemenis who were dedicated to justice were given free rein and those with extremist ties were sidelined. After the trials were over and the terrorists made it out of jail, Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the F.B.I., flew to Yemen to complain, but there was little further protest by the United States. We dropped the ball.

A year and a half ago, when I briefed a bipartisan group of Senate staff members on Yemen, I warned that unless the American government sent a united message to the Yemenis to act against Al Qaeda, the terrorists responsible for the Cole would remain free and there would be future attacks against the United States connected to Yemen. Today, the terrorists behind the Cole are still free, and an attack connected to Yemen has been attempted.

It is possible to defeat Al Qaeda in Yemen without sending American troops. Now that the Yemenis are once again acting against Al Qaeda by striking the terrorist group’s bases and killing or apprehending many of its members, the United States must show that it has learned to stay focused and hold Yemeni officials accountable. This time, the terrorists must be permanently locked up, not allowed to escape or receive pardons. The most important sign of Yemen’s sincerity will be when those with the blood of 17 American sailors on their hands are all brought to justice in the way they deserve.

Ali H. Soufan was an F.B.I. special agent from 1997 to 2005.
26148  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Un cuento on: January 03, 2010, 09:05:48 AM
En 1977 un amigo mio, un Chilango, y yo fuimos de aventura.  Llegando a San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas nos hicimos amigos de dos gringas.  Fuimos de caballo en el bosque por el dia.  Esta noche fuimos caminando.  Ellas fueron muy gueras, vestidas en pantalones muy cortas y camisetas , , , apretadas.  Cuatro tipos decidieron apoderarse de ellas.  Hubo gran pelea.  Yo, usando mi evilla como manople logre' nuestra salida.  Ellos gritaron "Vamos al coche por la pistola".  Llegando al zocola, decimos al policia "!Hay 4 tipos persiguiendonos con una pistola!"  Los 4 llegaron.  El policia, quien fue un transito armado con solo un desarmador (para quitar las placas de coches estacionados mal) se huyo'.    Fortunadamente los cuatro no tenian pistola, fueron armados con botellas y antena de coche.  Hubo otra pelea, y nosotros (las dos gringas, mi amigo chilango, y yo) nos encenaron en el cuartel de policia mientras los cuatro trataron de romper la puerta, la cual apoye' yo con mi pie y hombro.

Despues de varios eventos alli desmasiado largos para contar aqui, salimos por la ventana detras-- pero fue en el momento que la policia llegaron en numeros, viendonos saliendo por su ventana shocked cheesy  Por la cual nos echaron en la prision.  Mientras buscaban mordida para permitirnos salir, pasabamos tres dias en el prision-- donde tuvimos varias aventuras.

Al salir, fuimos a Huatulco y nos emborrachabamos.
26149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Food Stamps on: January 03, 2010, 08:44:41 AM


Living on Nothing but Food Stamps

 
By JASON DEPARLE and ROBERT M. GEBELOFF
Published: January 2, 2010
CAPE CORAL, Fla. — After an improbable rise from the Bronx projects to a job selling Gulf Coast homes, Isabel Bermudez lost it all to an epic housing bust — the six-figure income, the house with the pool and the investment property.


“Without food stamps we’d probably be starving,” said Rex Britton, who has had trouble finding paving work and lives with his girlfriend, Amy Freeman. More Photos »

The Safety Net
Zero Income
With millions of jobs lost and major industries on the ropes, America’s array of government aid — including unemployment insurance, food stamps and cash welfare — is being tested as never before. This series examines how the safety net is holding up under the worst economic crisis in decades.


Now, as she papers the county with résumés and girds herself for rejection, she is supporting two daughters on an income that inspires a double take: zero dollars in monthly cash and a few hundred dollars in food stamps.

With food-stamp use at a record high and surging by the day, Ms. Bermudez belongs to an overlooked subgroup that is growing especially fast: recipients with no cash income.

About six million Americans receiving food stamps report they have no other income, according to an analysis of state data collected by The New York Times. In declarations that states verify and the federal government audits, they described themselves as unemployed and receiving no cash aid — no welfare, no unemployment insurance, and no pensions, child support or disability pay.

Their numbers were rising before the recession as tougher welfare laws made it harder for poor people to get cash aid, but they have soared by about 50 percent over the past two years. About one in 50 Americans now lives in a household with a reported income that consists of nothing but a food-stamp card.

“It’s the one thing I can count on every month — I know the children are going to have food,” Ms. Bermudez, 42, said with the forced good cheer she mastered selling rows of new stucco homes.

Members of this straitened group range from displaced strivers like Ms. Bermudez to weathered men who sleep in shelters and barter cigarettes. Some draw on savings or sporadic under-the-table jobs. Some move in with relatives. Some get noncash help, like subsidized apartments. While some go without cash incomes only briefly before securing jobs or aid, others rely on food stamps alone for many months.

The surge in this precarious way of life has been so swift that few policy makers have noticed. But it attests to the growing role of food stamps within the safety net. One in eight Americans now receives food stamps, including one in four children.

Here in Florida, the number of people with no income beyond food stamps has doubled in two years and has more than tripled along once-thriving parts of the southwest coast. The building frenzy that lured Ms. Bermudez to Fort Myers and neighboring Cape Coral has left a wasteland of foreclosed homes and written new tales of descent into star-crossed indigence.

A skinny fellow in saggy clothes who spent his childhood in foster care, Rex Britton, 22, hopped a bus from Syracuse two years ago for a job painting parking lots. Now, with unemployment at nearly 14 percent and paving work scarce, he receives $200 a month in food stamps and stays with a girlfriend who survives on a rent subsidy and a government check to help her care for her disabled toddler.

“Without food stamps we’d probably be starving,” Mr. Britton said.

A strapping man who once made a living throwing fastballs, William Trapani, 53, left his dreams on the minor league mound and his front teeth in prison, where he spent nine years for selling cocaine. Now he sleeps at a rescue mission, repairs bicycles for small change, and counts $200 in food stamps as his only secure support.

“I’ve been out looking for work every day — there’s absolutely nothing,” he said.

A grandmother whose voice mail message urges callers to “have a blessed good day,” Wanda Debnam, 53, once drove 18-wheelers and dreamed of selling real estate. But she lost her job at Starbucks this year and moved in with her son in nearby Lehigh Acres. Now she sleeps with her 8-year-old granddaughter under a poster of the Jonas Brothers and uses her food stamps to avoid her daughter-in-law’s cooking.

“I’m climbing the walls,” Ms. Debnam said.

Florida officials have done a better job than most in monitoring the rise of people with no cash income. They say the access to food stamps shows the safety net is working.

“The program is doing what it was designed to do: help very needy people get through a very difficult time,” said Don Winstead, deputy secretary for the Department of Children and Families. “But for this program they would be in even more dire straits.”

But others say the lack of cash support shows the safety net is torn. The main cash welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, has scarcely expanded during the recession; the rolls are still down about 75 percent from their 1990s peak. A different program, unemployment insurance, has rapidly grown, but still omits nearly half the unemployed. Food stamps, easier to get, have become the safety net of last resort.

==========

“The food-stamp program is being asked to do too much,” said James Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, a Washington advocacy group. “People need income support.”



With millions of jobs lost and major industries on the ropes, America’s array of government aid — including unemployment insurance, food stamps and cash welfare — is being tested as never before. This series examines how the safety net is holding up under the worst economic crisis in decades.



Food stamps, officially the called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, have taken on a greater role in the safety net for several reasons. Since the benefit buys only food, it draws less suspicion of abuse than cash aid and more political support. And the federal government pays for the whole benefit, giving states reason to maximize enrollment. States typically share in other programs’ costs.

The Times collected income data on food-stamp recipients in 31 states, which account for about 60 percent of the national caseload. On average, 18 percent listed cash income of zero in their most recent monthly filings. Projected over the entire caseload, that suggests six million people in households with no income. About 1.2 million are children.

The numbers have nearly tripled in Nevada over the past two years, doubled in Florida and New York, and grown nearly 90 percent in Minnesota and Utah. In Wayne County, Mich., which includes Detroit, one of every 25 residents reports an income of only food stamps. In Yakima County, Wash., the figure is about one of every 17.

Experts caution that these numbers are estimates. Recipients typically report a small rise in earnings just once every six months, so some people listed as jobless may have recently found some work. New York officials say their numbers include some households with earnings from illegal immigrants, who cannot get food stamps but sometimes live with relatives who do.

Still, there is little doubt that millions of people are relying on incomes of food stamps alone, and their numbers are rapidly growing. “This is a reflection of the hardship that a lot of people in our state are facing; I think that is without question,” said Mr. Winstead, the Florida official.

With their condition mostly overlooked, there is little data on how long these households go without cash incomes or what other resources they have. But they appear an eclectic lot. Florida data shows the population about evenly split between families with children and households with just adults, with the latter group growing fastest during the recession. They are racially mixed as well — about 42 percent white, 32 percent black, and 22 percent Latino — with the growth fastest among whites during the recession.

The expansion of the food-stamp program, which will spend more than $60 billion this year, has so far enjoyed bipartisan support. But it does have conservative critics who worry about the costs and the rise in dependency.

“This is craziness,” said Representative John Linder, a Georgia Republican who is the ranking minority member of a House panel on welfare policy. “We’re at risk of creating an entire class of people, a subset of people, just comfortable getting by living off the government.”

Mr. Linder added: “You don’t improve the economy by paying people to sit around and not work. You improve the economy by lowering taxes” so small businesses will create more jobs.

With nearly 15,000 people in Lee County, Fla., reporting no income but food stamps, the Fort Myers area is a laboratory of inventive survival. When Rhonda Navarro, a cancer patient with a young son, lost running water, she ran a hose from an outdoor spigot that was still working into the shower stall. Mr. Britton, the jobless parking lot painter, sold his blood.

Kevin Zirulo and Diane Marshall, brother and sister, have more unlikely stories than a reality television show. With a third sibling paying their rent, they are living on a food-stamp benefit of $300 a month. A gun collector covered in patriotic tattoos, Mr. Zirulo, 31, has sold off two semiautomatic rifles and a revolver. Ms. Marshall, who has a 7-year-old daughter, scavenges discarded furniture to sell on the Internet.

They said they dropped out of community college and diverted student aid to household expenses. They received $150 from the Nielsen Company, which monitors their television. They grew so desperate this month, they put the breeding services of the family Chihuahua up for bid on Craigslist.

“We look at each other all the time and say we don’t know how we get through,” Ms. Marshall said.

===========

(Page 3 of 3)



Ms. Bermudez, by contrast, tells what until the recession seemed a storybook tale. Raised in the Bronx by a drug-addicted mother, she landed a clerical job at a Manhattan real estate firm and heard that Fort Myers was booming. On a quick scouting trip in 2002, she got a mortgage on easy terms for a $120,000 home with three bedrooms and a two-car garage. The developer called the floor plan Camelot.

With millions of jobs lost and major industries on the ropes, America’s array of government aid — including unemployment insurance, food stamps and cash welfare — is being tested as never before. This series examines how the safety net is holding up under the worst economic crisis in decades.


“I screamed, I cried,” she said. “I took so much pride in that house.”
Jobs were as plentiful as credit. Working for two large builders, she quickly moved from clerical jobs to sales and bought an investment home. Her income soared to $180,000, and she kept the pay stubs to prove it. By the time the glut set in and she lost her job, the teaser rates on her mortgages had expired and her monthly payments soared.

She landed a few short-lived jobs as the industry imploded, exhausted her unemployment insurance and spent all her savings. But without steady work in nearly three years, she could not stay afloat. In January, the bank foreclosed on Camelot.

One morning as the eviction deadline approached, Ms. Bermudez woke up without enough food to get through the day. She got emergency supplies at a food pantry for her daughters, Tiffany, now 17, and Ashley, 4, and signed up for food stamps. “My mother lived off the government,” she said. “It wasn’t something as a proud working woman I wanted to do.”

For most of the year, she did have a $600 government check to help her care for Ashley, who has a developmental disability. But she lost it after she was hospitalized and missed an appointment to verify the child’s continued eligibility. While she is trying to get it restored, her sole income now is $320 in food stamps.

Ms. Bermudez recently answered the door in her best business clothes and handed a reporter her résumé, which she distributes by the ream. It notes she was once a “million-dollar producer” and “deals well with the unexpected.”

“I went from making $180,000 to relying on food stamps,” she said. “Without that government program, I wouldn’t be able to feed my children.”
26150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fak Ap, part two on: January 03, 2010, 08:14:45 AM

II.c - Why doesn't the Pakistani Army fight the Taleban? - Bad Reasons

The Panjabi Generals of the Pakistani Army remember 1971 vividly. They carry deep emotional scars from that humiliating surrender to the Indian Army and the split of Pakistan. They have sworn to not let that happen again. They also began a campaign to pay back India by trying to separate Kashmir from India.

They got their chance in 1979 when America poured its resources into Pakistan to create a Pashtun force to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. The Pakistanis used American money, American weapons, American expertise to train the Pashtuns into a fighting force. When the Russians left Afghanistan, Pakistan, in a few years, moved the Pashtun Taleban into Afghanistan. This made Afghanistan a Pakistani vassal and gave Pakistan its much desired strategic depth against India.

Since that period, the Pakistani Generals have viewed the Pashtun Taleban as a critical ally and a weapon to be used against India without exposing the Pakistani Panjabi Army to India's retaliation. This role makes the Pashtun Taleban a strategic asset of Pakistan's Panjabi Army and such strategic assets are not given up regardless of whatever pressure America decides to use.

Besides, due to its deeply ingrained anti-India mindset, the Pakistani Army will not even consider moving its core Panjabi divisions from the Indian border. That would signal utter defeat of their dreams and of their strategy of the past 38 years.

Remember that the Panjabi Generals created the Pashtun Taleban, fed it and built it to its current state. They simply refuse to believe that their child would turn on them. They also refuse to believe that they would not be able to squash the Taleban if they really chose to do so.

The Pakistani Panjabis have deep racial contempt for the Pashtuns. They consider the Pashtuns to be illiterate, uneducated, mountain hilly-billies who are way beneath the cultured Panjabis with their literary traditions. Pakistani Panjabis, beginning with their founder Jinnah, used Islam as a banner to unite the poor but never believed in it themselves. The Pakistani Panjabi Generals claim their heritage from the British Army and still carry on the scotch-drinking, non-religious traditions of the British Generals.

Unfortunately, America relies on these Pakistani Panjabi Generals for support as well as knowledge and insight. Admiral Mullen, America's highest military officer, says that he trusts Pakistan's General Kiyani totally and implicitly.

Both America and Pakistan seem to have forgotten the lessons of Iran. America trusted the Shah of Iran implicitly and totally. America believed that the Shah, with his large, American supplied army, would be able quell any rebellion in Iran. The Shah of Iran remained supremely confident until he found out that his army would not fire on his people. Then, one day, he left Iran forever.

We fear the same in Pakistan. The racial contempt of the Pakistani Panjabi Generals is making them blind to the realities on the ground. The Pashtun Taleban are getting Panjabi recruits and building a Panjabi Taleban sub-movement. This combination is rapidly making inroads into rural Panjab and seems poised to take over some semi-urban areas in Panjab.

When they succeed, the Pakistani Panjabi Generals will find that their soldiers are not willing to fire on their rural Panjabi brothers. Then, the Panjabi Generals will leave Pakistan to go to their estates outside Pakistan. Nawab Sharif, Panjab's civilian landlord leader, will run back to Saudi Arabia and Asif Zardari, the Sindhi President, will return to London. America will then exit Pakistan as it exited Iran 30 years ago.

II.D. - America's conception of Taleban a murderous, fanatical Islamic organization

You have to admit that the behavior of the Taleban fits the murderous and fanatical label. Their actions against women have revolted people in Pakistan and around the world. Special Envoy Holbrooke described the Taleban as "murderous" in a CNN interview last week.

But labels can blind people and countries to the underlying reality. The Taleban are not stupid, illiterate crazies as the Pakistani Panjabis and Americans think. The Taleban leaders are extraordinarily intelligent men who understand tactics and strategy. Their game plan combines military tactics with social, religious and media tactics to win hearts & minds besides winning on the ground.

They use their brand of Islam as a way of influencing society, winning recruits and keeping them loyal. They understand that love of land and love of customs is a powerful force. They use Islam as a cry against the secular civil society of Pakistan. This is similar to the "anti secular-progressive culture-warrior" cry of right-wing American opinionators like Bill O'Reilly.

The Taleban are smart. They retreat very quickly when they realize they have made a mistake. The Taleban leaders realized that they made a big mistake when their followers flogged a woman in public. Their media spokesman immediately clarified that this bad behavior was triggered by the presence of "western white women who have entered Pakistan to fight". The New York Times might scoff at this explanation but it does make sense in conservative Pashtun territory. This is sort of like liberal Europeans scoffing at the "American crudity" of Bill O'Reilly.

II.e - The return of Aurnagzeb's model

The Mughal dynasty of Delhi faced the problem of governing a predominantly Hindu population. One extreme model was the "respect for all religions" model of Akbar, called by history as the Greatest Mughal. The other extreme model was that of was his grandson, Aurangzeb.

Every reader of this blog has heard of the Taj Mahal, the greatest monument to love in the world. A few readers might know the name of Shah Jahan, the ruler who built the Taj Mahal. But, very few readers are likely to have heard of his son, Aurangzeb.

Aurangzeb revolted against his father Shah Jahan and his elder brother Dara ShuKoh, the Crown Prince. He won the battle, imprisoned Shah Jahan and killed Dara ShuKoh as well as all his other brothers. Then, Aurangzeb created his model for ruling India.

He was a practicing Muslim but not a fanatic. But his actions seemed fanatical. Like all right-wingers, he ruled to gain the abiding loyalty of his base, the right wing Islamists. He even imposed a tax on non-Muslims called the "Jeeziya", simply for being non-Muslims in his kingdom. He tried to destroy temples but stopped when he realized he was going too far.

The Taleban approach is based on the Aurangzeb model. It has a deep and historical resonance in the entire Indian Subcontinent, let alone Pashtunistan. It evokes memories of the days when the Pashtuns dominated India. A couple of weeks ago, we read a story that the Taleban have imposed the Jeeziya tax of Aurangzeb on the Sikh community in Pashtunistan, a tax for simply being Sikh in Taleban country. Aurangzeb's model worked for him in North India. Who is to say that his model would not work for the Taleban in Pakistan?

So, when America and Pakistan feel racial and cultural contempt for the Taleban, they should watch out. Decisions based on racial and cultural superiority often exact a steep price in war.

Recall that the French despised Ho-Chi-Minh and the Vietnamese racially and culturally. They expressed disdain for this savage "who would teach military strategy to the country of Napoleon". Unless our history is wrong, Ho-Chi-Minh defeated the French Army in the decisive battle of Dien-Bien-Phu. The French left Vietnam in disgrace and America entered Vietnam to inherit French racism and the French outcome.


III. An Immediate, Legal, Globally Acceptable, Cost-Effective and Simple Solution to the Af-Pak Problem

To solve a problem, we often need to go to its genesis. The Af-Pak problem originated in 1893 with the partition of Afghanistan. The solution begins there.

III.a - A Legal, Globally Acceptable, Political Solution

Afghanistan is a protectorate and an ally of America. Nato is involved in Afghanistan and the UN backs this effort. It is time for the United States to back the legal stand of Afghanistan that the 1893 Treaty between British India and Afghanistan is ex parte (because British India does not exist any more) and hence invalid.

America can then push for the reunification of North and South Afghanistan. This will enable America to take the war to the Taleban strongholds in South Afghanistan or Pashtunistan.

America is the ethnic, spiritual, economic and military successor to England. America is ideally placed to invalidate the 1893 British treaty.

England and Continental Europe will support this solution. This solution is in Russia's interests and after some face-saying gestures, Russia will support it. Saudi Arabia, which is getting increasingly worried about the Taleban, will support this solution and so will the Emirates, Kuwait and other Middle Eastern states.

This solution benefits Iran strategically and Iran would support this solution. Iran would get a greater influence in a moderate united Afghanistan than in a virulently anti-Shia Taleban-controlled Afghanistan.

The only obstacle could be China. This solution would possibly cut off China's land access to the Persian Gulf through Pakistan. But, given the global stakes involved, China would abstain from opposing this solution.

It is not generally known that the majority of the Pashtuns in Pashtunistan do not support Islamic fundamentalism. Recall that in the last election, the Pashtuns voted for secular, non-religious parties in Pashtunistan and not for the Islamic parties. Unification of Pashtunistan with Afghanistan and the consequent unification of the Pashtun society on both sides of the Durand Line would be a dream come true for the Pashtuns.

This support of the Pashtuns would be the greatest strength of this legal solution. It will help the Obama Administration finally solve the Af-Pak problem by winning the hearts and minds of the Pashtun people.

The UN ratification of the unification of Afghanistan would be a legal globally acceptable political solution to the Af-Pak problem.

III.b - A Cost-Effective, Quick, Decisive Military Solution

Special Envoy Holbrooke said last week on CNN that the Frontier Corps of Pakistan was originally created by the British. He is correct.

The British created the Pashtun Frontier Corps when they gained legal control of Pashtunistan from the 1893 Durand Treaty. The Frontier Force kept control and peace in Pashtunistan and served as a military liaison between the British Indian Army and the tribal elders of Pashtunistan. This military-administrative-social structure continued until the Pashtun Taleban destroyed it recently. They did so by killing many of the tribal elders, waging attacks on the Frontier Corps and by scaring the administrators into obeying the Taleban.

The American Military and Nato should, after the above legal deal, take immediate control of the Frontier Corps. US Special Forces and US Military Advisors should then guide and train the Frontier Corps. The American Air Force and its Airborne Predators should fly over Pashtunistan legally, take out Taleban strongholds and kill Taleban leaders on sight.

This is the model that allowed America to destroy the Taleban regime in Afghanistan without putting American boots on the ground. In that war, the boots on the ground were those of the Afghan National Alliance. They were advised by US Special Forces and supported by American precision air power. In Pashtunistan, the Frontier Corp would play the role played by the Northern Alliance in North Afghanistan.

The support of the local Pashtuns would provide ample local intelligence just as the support of the north Afghani people provided intelligence during the 2001 war against the Taleban in Afghanistan.

The 2001 war in North Afghanistan was quick, decisive and highly cost-effective. We are convinced that a 2009 war in Pashtunistan would be just as quick, decisive and cost-effective.

Once America and Nato seize military control of Pashtunistan, the Taleban insurgency would be encircled like in Iraq. Then, the David Petraeus strategy can be put into effect in Pashtunistan with the support and participation of the Pashtun tribal elders. Pashtunistan can then be made peaceful as was done in Iraq.

III.c - What About Pakistan?

The political leaders of Pakistan would be in tacit support of this solution. Nawab Sharif's economic interests and political base are in Pakistani Panjab. He stands to lose it all if the Taleban take control of rural Panjab.

Asif Zardari is a Sindhi. He is also a wealthy businessman. He has no interest in maintaining control of Pashtunistan. He would be a big supporter, at least in private, of this solution.

The silent majority in Pakistan would probably oppose an imposed American solution but would accept a globally backed UN solution supported by the Middle Eastern countries. We believe that the average Pakistani Panjabi is angry at the Pashtun Taleban, holds them in racial contempt and is petrified at the thought of being governed by them. So, we believe that the silent majority of Pakistani Panjabis and the Sindhis would support a globally backed unification of Afghanistan.

This leaves the Generals of Pakistan. This solution would end their dreams of strategic depth against India and would create a fear of Indian encirclement via a partnership between a United Afghanistan and India.

But, we are convinced that the Pakistani Panjabi Generals would not oppose a global solution backed by America, Saudi Arabia and the UN. They would not survive if they did so. After all, this solution would leave their empire in Pakistani heartland unchanged and undamaged.

America, Europe and Saudi Arabia can promise substantial civil aid to Pakistan's Panjab and Sindh provinces for their support of the globally acceptable solution. As a result, this solution might finally bring both peace and prosperity to this troubled land.

IV. Is this Solution rapidly becoming obsolete?

As we have said before, the Taleban leaders are not dumb. They remember how their rule in North Afghanistan came to an abrupt end in 2001.

The solution we have proposed may be new to the American Establishment but it will not come as a surprise to the Taleban leaders. They know such a solution would work and work quickly. So, they are rapidly moving to make this solution obsolete.

How? By using a variation of the Donald Rumsfeld dictum. The Taleban are rapidly making the problem bigger, much much bigger.

They are doing so by moving their soldiers and supporters into urban provinces like Buner that border Pakistani Panjab and into Panjab itself. By gaining sanctuary and support in Pakistani Panjab, the Taleban are making the problem so big that it might remain unsolvable.

The Pakistani people might support the cessation of Pashtunistan and the resultant occupation of Pashtunistan by American Military. But, they will not support any occupation of Pakistani Panjab, the society's heartland. The Taleban know this and that is why they are rapidly moving into Pakistani Panjab. The Pakistani Panjabi Generals know this and that is why they allow the Taleban to encroach into Panjab.

V. Final Choice that might be forced upon the Obama Administration

"Speed Kills" is a favorite line of John Madden (the great NFL coach and TV Sports Analyst). The Obama Administration is moving ahead with slow, deliberate planning in their Af-Pak analysis, while the Taleban is moving with great speed to implement its plan. So far, the Taleban speed is killing the chances of success of the Obama Initiatives.

Soon, we fear, the Obama Administration would be faced with two alternatives:

Leave Af-Pak to its own misery and take the risk of being attacked in the American homeland OR
Get into a military confrontation with the Taleban inside Pakistan and with the Pakistani Military.
The first choice would be far worse than Vietnam and the second choice would be far worse than Iraq.

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