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26151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Liberal Fascism on: August 07, 2009, 11:29:44 AM
Good thing we have His Glibness rolling back the Bush era angry angry angry

This is fascism.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWs12ccbOiE

 angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry
26152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Corruption on: August 07, 2009, 09:49:23 AM
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090807/ts_nm/us_bankofamerica_lawmaker

Reuters) – A leading Democrat in the House of Representatives who has rebuffed Republican efforts to subpoena records of a mortgage program for favored borrowers at Countrywide Financial Corp got home loans from that lender, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Representative Edolphus Towns, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, obtained two loans from Countrywide, which was bought last year by Bank of America, the newspaper said, citing information from the lawmaker's mortgage documents.

Towns has turned down calls from the committee's ranking Republican, Darrell Issa, for the panel to subpoena mortgage records showing who received loans through Countrywide's VIP program, the journal said.

The program offered loans to politically influential figures and other favored borrowers at more attractive terms than were available to the general public.

The mortgage documents on the loans to Towns contain a Countrywide address and branch number that correspond to the VIP program, the Journal reported.

Towns told the paper through a spokeswoman that his decision not to subpoena the VIP records "has nothing to do with his mortgages" and that if the mortgages came through the VIP program "it was without his knowledge."

Towns was not immediately available for comment outside regular U.S. office hours.

In June, Issa wrote to Bank of America asking it to disclose any special mortgage terms the bank's Countrywide unit gave to politically influential customers over an eight-year period. Bank of America bought Countrywide last year after the mortgage lender collapsed under the weight of bad mortgages and defaults.

Countrywide's VIP program of preferential mortgage rates was also known as the "Friends of Angelo" program, after Countrywide founder Angelo Mozilo.

In February, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, a Democrat, said he would refinance two mortgages that he took out in 2003 under Countrywide's VIP program. (Reporting by Santosh Nadgir in Bangalore, editing by Vicki Allen)
26153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Fisher Ames; Hamilton on curing heresies on: August 07, 2009, 09:14:12 AM
Freki:  Jefferson was one wise man!

==========
"I am commonly opposed to those who modestly assume the rank of champions of liberty, and make a very patriotic noise about the people. It is the stale artifice which has duped the world a thousand times, and yet, though detected, it is still successful. I love liberty as well as anybody. I am proud of it, as the true title of our people to distinction above others; but ... I would guard it by making the laws strong enough to protect it." --Fisher Ames, letter to George Richard Minot, 1789

"In politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution." --Alexander Hamilton
26154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Both ways on: August 07, 2009, 09:12:48 AM
Another gem Rachel- thank you. 
===============
Both Ways


One who loves must learn fear. One who fears must learn love.

The thinker must do. The doer must think. The pacifist must fight, the fighter must find peace.

If you flow as a river, burn as a fire. If you burn as a furnace, flow as a river.

If you fly as a bird, sit firm as a rock. If you sit firmly, then fly as a bird.

Be a fire that flows. A rock that flies. Love with fear and fear with love.

For we are not fire, not water, not air, not rocks, not thoughts, not deeds, not fear, not love. We are G-dly beings.
26155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: August 06, 2009, 03:46:55 PM
Our family enjoys the products (but not the prices!!!) at the neighborhood Whole Foods supermarket.

Often there are petitioners/fundraisers of various left-liberal-new agey causes there. 

My wife reports that today there was someone a little different.   cheesy  A couple of Lyndon LaRouchers with a giant sign with a picture of His Glibness with a Hitler mustache and a caption about impeaching him over his "Nazi health plan".  My wife tells me there was quite an uproar from the clientele.   cheesy The police were called!  cheesy They were entering the store as it was time for my wife to leave.   I will look into this tomorrow  cheesy

PS:  For the record LR is fascist scum incarnate and I strongly suspect him of being a front for nefarious interests.  Still, quite a chuckle to hear of the sheeple getting in a snit over free speech.
26156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: August 06, 2009, 12:54:00 PM
Ultimately the survival and flourishing of the American Creed is up to us:

http://blip.tv/play/AYGJ5h6YgmE     
26157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / You might have missed this on: August 06, 2009, 12:51:56 PM
amongst the coverage of Michael Jackson:

http://blip.tv/play/AYGJ5h6YgmE
26158  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Respect! A hero returns home on: August 06, 2009, 12:48:15 PM
http://blip.tv/play/AYGJ5h6YgmE     
26159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives/the American Creed on: August 06, 2009, 12:12:25 PM
Doug:

Although you make good points, my realities simply do not permit.

BBG:

Exactly so.
26160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-Georgia, Turkey, Caucasus on: August 06, 2009, 12:07:12 PM
Indications of War Preparations
Stratfor Today » August 5, 2009 | 2139 GMT
Summary

Aug. 5, 2009, is looking eerily similar to Aug. 5, 2008, in the Caucasus as the first anniversary of the Russo-Georgian war creeps closer. Just like last year, STRATFOR is closely watching the region for any signs that another war could break out.

Analysis
In August 2008, war broke out between Russia and Georgia. Though the two countries had been rattling sabers for years, several key geopolitical and technical indicators convinced STRATFOR that war would indeed break out between Georgia and Russia in the summer of 2008.


Geopolitical Diary: Shades of a Second War

Aug. 5, three days before the anniversary of the start of that war, similar activity is evident. Another fracas in the Caucasus is far from inevitable, but the geopolitical conditions are ripe for Russia to make another move against Georgia. Thus, several triggers need to be monitored in the days and weeks ahead.

What follows is a list of indicators STRATFOR has been following in the Caucasus that could mean preparations for war are under way. We have also listed a few key indicators that we saw in 2008 but have yet to see this year. STRATFOR will follow up with a more analytical examination of Russia’s deeper motives for creating another crisis in the Caucasus.

In place since the August 2008 war:

Russian troops have remained inside Georgia’s secessionist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia since August 2008. Russia has established facilities and a military presence consisting of roughly 1,000 troops (though the actual numbers are disputed) in each breakaway province. With these troops stationed inside Georgia, within striking distance of the country’s major east-west road and rail infrastructure and the capital city, Moscow has established a military reality in Georgia that not even the United States is currently disposed to alter. In 2008, a military exercise in North Ossetia (in Russia proper) preceded the invasion of Georgia, with the units involved in the initial thrust in a heightened state of readiness when hostilities began. Depending on the current disposition of Russian troops and their military objectives, some mobilization might be necessary for an invasion of Georgia. However, given the proximity of Russian troops to Georgia proper and the dearth of firm intelligence out of the region, such mobilization might not be detected or recognized until hostilities have already broken out.

In the last month:

STRATFOR has received unconfirmed reports that possibly 10,000 troops from Chechnya loyal to the Kremlin are in the republic of Ingushetia, which borders Chechnya, following a separate security situation in the region. Though this is not directly related to Georgia, the troops are conveniently located just 31 miles from the Roki Tunnel, which is where Russia began its operations — including funneling soldiers and tanks into South Ossetia, and later Georgia — in 2008.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited Georgia in late July in what was overall an embarrassment for the Georgians, since the United States did not give any noticeable meaningful support for Georgia and said it refused to sell weapons to or provide monitors for Tbilisi. However, after this trip, Biden gave an interview in which he came out verbally swinging against Moscow, stating that Russia is on a demographic and economic decline and will ultimately have to face its withering geopolitical position. This did not go unnoticed by Moscow.
While Biden was in Georgia, key Russian security and defense officials, including First Deputy Chief of Staff Vladislav Surkov and Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, were in South Ossetia to meet with the breakaway republic’s leadership. Several military intelligence officials also attended the meeting.


The past two weeks have seen the most noise on the South Ossetian-Georgian border since the August 2008 war. Though tensions never fully ended — gunfire has been traded sporadically across the border — there have been reports recently of mortar fire from both sides, something rarely seen since 2008.
The Georgians allegedly have planned a civilian march from Tbilisi to the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, rumored to coincide with the Aug. 8 anniversary of the war. However, it should be mentioned that plans for such a march have been made several times in previous months but failed to materialize. The South Ossetians have said any such march would be seen as an “attempted invasion.” The secessionist region has closed its border.
Russia said July 29 that this week, it could deploy unmanned aircraft in Georgia that could carry out attacks 6-15 miles inside the country. Russia also said it could send Antonov An-2 and An-3 aircraft, which are capable of carrying people and supplies to small, primitive airstrips.

Upcoming indicators and potential triggers:

Aug. 6: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will travel to Turkey to meet with his counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. These two leaders — well aware of each other’s resurgent position — must thoroughly discuss any possible moves that either will make in the region, including moves in Georgia.
Aug. 8: The anniversary of the start of the 2008 Russo-Georgian war.
Aug. 9: The 10-year anniversary of Putin’s coming into power.
While the above indicators are firmly in place and eerily reminiscent of the lead-up to the 2008 war, there are two crucial indicators from 2008 that STRATFOR has yet to see this year:

Before hostilities erupted into full-scale war last year, the Russians dropped leaflets by air into South Ossetia and Abkhazia warning of “Georgian aggressions.” This, in effect, led to the second indicator:
There was a mass movement of civilians from South Ossetia and Abkhazia into Russia, mainly into the republic of North Ossetia. While Russia could be warning the breakaway provinces’ populations of impending conflict by other means (considering Russia now maintains a significant troop presence in both regions), STRATFOR sources in Abkhazia have yet to witness such developments on the ground.
26161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: August 06, 2009, 10:33:08 AM
Michael Yon throws his weight behind a search for SF soldiers to fight habeas corpus in Afpakia.


http://www.michaelyon-online.com/disturbing-developments.htm
26162  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty 8/1-2 Fort Hood, TX on: August 06, 2009, 07:23:53 AM
FWIW here's a local article on the seminar.  As is often the case, there are some errors of fact and understanding.

http://www.forthoodsentinel.com/story.php?id=1533
26163  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: August 06, 2009, 07:11:36 AM
Wish I was young enough to develop this , , ,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x98jCBnWO8w&feature=player_embedded
26164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: August 06, 2009, 06:10:28 AM
"[T]he government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government." --James Madison

"The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy." --Benjamin Franklin, Emblematical Representations, 1774

"With respect to the two words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators." --James Madison

"Our struggle for nationhood, our unrelenting fight for freedom, our very existence -- these have all rested on the assurance that you must be free to shape your life as you are best able to, that no one can stop you from reaching higher or take from you the creativity that has made America the envy of mankind." --Ronald Reagan

"We lay it down as a fundamental, that laws, to be just, must give a reciprocation of right; that, without this, they are mere arbitrary rules of conduct, founded in force, and not in conscience." --Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the state of Virginia, 1782

"[W]here there is no law, there is no liberty; and nothing deserves the name of law but that which is certain and universal in its operation upon all the members of the community." --Benjamin Rush, letter to David Ramsay, circa April 1788

"An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation." --John Marshall

26165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: August 06, 2009, 06:04:10 AM
"[R]espected economists like Donald Marron, Keith Hennessey, Bruce Bartlett and Kevin Hassett have all carefully chronicled the fact that the Obama stimulus package does not feature any real fiscal multipliers. They say the bulk of the package consists of transfer payments to individuals and states, along with tax credits that will produce no real incentive effects to spur economic growth. But the fact remains that numerous signs are now pointing to economic recovery. And the GOP needs to craft a smart political response to this. Obama and Biden will surely take credit for the better economic news, just as any White House would. It's the way the political game is played. But Republicans have to play the game, too. A tremendous summer rally is going on in stocks, and it's being driven by better corporate profits and improved leading indicators -- including a possible upturn in housing starts and sales, and a major downward spike in weekly initial jobless claims. So you have to believe the stock market is calling the tune for recovery. And while politics is not everything, I do believe that the shrinking prospects for Obamacare have been a big contributor to the stock market's recent surge. This sweeping new government insurance plan would lead to high-tax-and-spend-and-borrow-and-regulate nationalized health care, a big economic negative. Ditto for nationalizing energy through cap-and-trade-and-tax. If these initiatives fail, it is very bullish for stocks and the economy. ... But the White House is going to take credit for economic recovery anyway, and that's the newest political challenge for the GOP." --economist Lawrence Kudlow
26166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives/the American Creed on: August 06, 2009, 05:36:38 AM
I am deeply honored by your offer of support.  I think I would like very much to mount a serious campaign to win. 

Unfortunately, I am reminded of a nearly two hour conversation I had (in 1985 IIRC) with then Congressman Dan Lungren of the district (the 42d?) now held by Dana Rohrabacker (sp?).  Lungren had just helped his brother run in the neighboring district against long-time pork barrel Dem Congressman Glenn Anderson who headed the "Public Works Committee".  In my run as a Libertarian in 1984 against Anderson I caught the eye of his top aide, retired Col. Mike Gravel.  Col. Gravel set up the meeting with Lungren.

Long story short-- if I had $100,000 of my own money to kick off my campaign (and the ability to support myself while campaigning), Lungren would support my candidacy.   This was in the context of a House of Representatives that at the time had an imcumbency rate of over 98%  shocked and a district that was so outrageously gerrymandered that its silhouette was regularly featured in WSJ editorials (this when the editorial page of the WSJ was still a genuine intellectual heavyweight and not like it is now that Murdoch bought it out) on the subject of gerrymandering and the Congress's shockingly low rate of turnover.   

In short, I would have to cough up $100,000 of my own money (remember, this was in 1985 dollars) in order to surely lose-- and support my single self.  Now, I am a family man and I still don't have a spare $100k (or probably a spare million at this point).




26167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: August 05, 2009, 06:53:23 PM
To quote my mocking description of the demogogues philosophy during my most recent run for Congress (in 1992)

"We had a vote.  You're paying."
26168  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Interesting legal article on: August 05, 2009, 03:21:00 PM
http://www.nacdl.org/public.nsf/698c98dd101a846085256eb400500c01/f587d7d10c34fff2852572b90069bc3c?OpenDocument
26169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Another report is in on: August 05, 2009, 12:41:26 PM


Another great report from MY

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/common-scenes-common-thoughts.htm
26170  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty 8/1-2 Fort Hood, TX on: August 05, 2009, 10:58:22 AM
Pasted from the thread at "Warrior Talk":

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


 We just finished a great weekend of Dog Brothers Martial Arts training here in Central Texas y'all.

Crafty was, as usual, at his very best.
 
To all who attended, thank you so much for making this such a fantastic training event.

I honestly cannot remember attending any previous seminars where so much laughter and camaraderie was shared by all.
It was definitely great seeing some familiar faces and making new friends in the process too.
 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Although there's much that I could say about what we trained on I will excuse now myself and leave this open for the other attendees, especially those fortunate enough to have trained this material for the first time, to post their impressions.
 
 S.
 
 --------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
 It was a great weekend!

It's only to be expected, though, when an outstanding presenter (Marc Denny) is hosted for his seminar by top notch people (Gus and Steve). All of whom, in turn, draw the kind of attendees you really do want to train with!   From guys that knew a lot, to guys that knew little (me), they were all there to learn, with good humor and no attitude, that I could see. Thanks to all for making it what it was.
 
If you haven't trained with Marc, and you get to in the future, you are in for a treat. Not only is he knowledgeable and able to convey that knowledge, but he is entertaining as all get out. It really keeps your interest to hear the stories and listen for perhaps the thousandth time to "Oh, I'm sorry....did I step on your foot??" as another classmate hits the floor. Strange how little sorry Marc looked......
 
 And when he pulled out the electroshock knife , did any of you other guys notice how often there was collateral damage to innocent bystanders??

 Big thanks to those who volunteered for Demonstration Dummy, especially John, who took more abuse than most, I think. It's a class with hitting....and John happily took some hits for the team.   How's the jaw, John?

 Gus, what can I say? You're the driving force, making us all welcome and motivated. Have you always had this much energy??

Steve, the night vision lecture "after hours" was a lot of fun, and informative. The extra time you put in to present it to us was above and beyond. And to Frankdude72 for the "extras" he brought for us to look at, as well. Even Twodogstyx, who couldn't attend the regular class, came and shared his stuff with us that night....Like I said, guys you want to train with.
 
 Not only interested and knowledgeable, but with toys!!

     Greg

> --------------------------------------------------------------------------

The important takeaway from this seminar is the importance of using footwork to develop angles that will give you the advantage and allow you to keep it.
 
Thanks to Gus and Steve for putting this on and doing all the HARD work to make it successful.

 --------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
      I'm at work now, so I'll keep this short. But it was a great weekend of training and meeting new friends and seeing old ones. Crafty has given me a ton of information to work on. My brain was information overloaded a  couple of times. But it will come back to me.
 
     I noticed that egos were not present, everyone got along, Crafty was patient, and no one got injured that Motrin and relaxation won't take care of.
 
I only wish that I spoke Spanish, as I really would have liked to conversed with the three gentlemen from Columbia. I could tell that they all knew their stuff!
 
 Greg gets my tip of the hat. Everyone in attendance knows what I'm talking about.
 
It was a diverse group from all walks of life and "day jobs". That's what I like about private sector training.
 
I'd like to thank Marc for coming to Texas and, once again, Gus and Steve for putting this all together and giving me the weekly training so I was prepared for this.

      "Walk as a Warrior for all of your days"!

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

Great time training, and I only thought I was sore yesterday! This morning was a full blown case of, "Where did THAT bruise come from?"
 
There is nothing like being the training dummy to show you what NOT to do!!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
 Hey John I hear ya. I found hondo1911's shoestring/laces imprinted in a beautiful shade of blue/black on my left leg, along with a silver dollar size "owie" on my chest/heart But that means it was great training!

 --------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
 Thanks to all you gentlemen for your kind words and patience.    (And to those I physically trained with, I know I'm quite clumsy on a  good day. So many kudos for putting up with me.)

 Thanks of course to Guro Crafty for sharing his knowledge,  perspectives, and immense skill.
 
 Steve and Gus, many thanks for all the time, effort and money you contributed.

Steve, the night vision class had some superb pieces within. I learned a lot.  (Oh and Gus, when next we meet, I'll make sure to have a book handy. Thanks for all your encouragement.)
 
 I'm so very glad I attended.

 Guro Crafty did a fantastic job both articulating and executing his art.  Was so cool to see all the principles like:

      *proper angles within footwork,
      *consistent movement across weapons categories,
      *not putting yourself in a worse position if your technique doesn't work,
      *not getting too tied up with your opponent when on the ground (due to him possibly having friends),
      *Always being covered (via physical position and hand/weapon orientation) against the follow up strike as you move in,
     *Maintaining 360 awareness,
      *How correct foot/muscles/hand/hip/back/etc. alignment eases efficiency of motion
      *Working towards methods that allow "martial arts and crafts" techniques to function in "the adrenal state"
      *etc.
 
These are principles I've been often directed to value before, and it  was a treat to not only see them so proficiently employed, but to see it  done so with techniques and movement almost totally foreign to the way I've seen such a mindset emerge as a fighting style in the past.

Absolute treat, gentlemen.
 
Gregford, the offer is always on the table to train. I'm only a PM away, sir.   I have a great group of talented martial arts guys to beat on me but only one or two can seem to metabolize the mindset WT-ers seem have been bestowed by the grace of God.
It'd be awesome to regularly meet with a guy who also understands the need to work within "the adrenal state".
 
 Hope to see (and train with) all of y'all soon.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
An Awesome weekend of training. I want to say thanks to Steve and Gus for all the work they did in putting this weekend together and bringing Crafty to Central Texas. I know that the two of you put in alot of your time to make this happen.
 
      Watching Crafty demonstrate the various techniques was great. Like John I too suffered from information overload (I have become a slow learner it seems) but I came away form this weekend with alot of good useful information and techniques to practice on. Thanks Crafty for coming to Texas.
 
 Everyone who attended was great, a great bunch of warriors.  Hey John sorry for the shoe bruise on your leg, I guess that is
 payback for the stick to my head, and the finger in my eye.
 
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------


 
 Guys, hopefully I can drag one or 2 of my compatriots down to Killeen to train with y'all some time.
 
 The more I think about this weekend, the more methods of changing the methodology of my training arise.
Thanks so much.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

 
 Wow, what a weekend. First off, I have to say thanks to all the CenTex WTers who joined us for this seminar, and to Crafty Dog for delivering on the training.
 
 Also thanks to Jeff who, despite his recent back surgery, joined us to take over two-thousand pictures during the seminar. I will now show the pictures that best summarize the weekend's training:
 
Shdwdncr being lifted to higher conciousnes:
 
 John a moment before his first concussion of the weekend:
 
And yours truly after being knocked head-over-heels by the "Dodger-Dracula":
 
I really had a great time. For me, the highlight was the Kali Tudo material. Crafty has obviously put alot of good effort into developing this material and it is both truly unique and potent.
 
 The Saturday evening class was so "WT". I hadn't asked anyone to bring their rifles, yet sneaky bags started opening and AKs began being passed around before the class even began. And we had more night vision devices in that class than most infantry squads. I didn't realize so many of us are running around with PVS-14s, I need to get with the program. Also got to
check out one local Wer's impressive carry rig which I detailed in this thread: ____________________
 
Tonight at our Central Texas Combatives Training Group meeting we went over alot of the stickfighting material fom the seminar. My observation is that it's in the post-seminar review and practice that material is really learned. Again, any Wter is welcome to train with us. In fact we just had Avenger2616 join us in class for the first time tonight.
 
      "The adventure continues..."
26171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: August 05, 2009, 10:22:58 AM
Huss:

What do your know about the author of that piece?
26172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-Russia on: August 05, 2009, 10:16:18 AM
Well, what DO you think he/we should do?
26173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Set my criminals free! on: August 05, 2009, 10:13:55 AM
August 5, 2009
My suggegstion, first to be released should be those for pot "crimes".  Indeed criminalizing drug use is a great foolishness IMHO.
===================


California Prisons Must Cut Inmate Population

By SOLOMON MOORE
LOS ANGELES — A panel of federal judges ordered the California prison system on Tuesday to reduce its inmate population of 150,000 by 40,000 — roughly 27 percent — within two years.

The judges said that reducing prison crowding in California was the only way to change what they called an unconstitutional prison health care system that causes one unnecessary death a week.

In a scathing 184-page order, the judges said state officials had failed to comply with previous orders to fix the prison health care system and reduce crowding.

The judges left it to state officials to come up with a specific plan within 45 days, saying there was “no need for the state to release presently incarcerated inmates indiscriminately in order to comply with our order.” They recommended remedies including imprisoning fewer nonviolent criminals and reducing the number of technical parole violators.

The order is the largest state prison reduction ever imposed by a federal court over the objection of state officials, legal experts said.

It comes as the state has emerged from a long battle to close a $26 billion budget gap. The latest budget includes severe cuts to social welfare programs, schools and health care. The governor planned to slash spending by reducing the prison population by 27,000 inmates, but law enforcement and victims’ rights groups stopped that.

Attorney General Jerry Brown said in a telephone interview Tuesday that he intended to appeal the ruling. “Eventually, we’re going to have to go to the Supreme Court because I think the California prisons are spending about $14,000 per year per inmate,” Mr. Brown said, adding that the changes the judges ordered would cost more money, which the state does not have.

The special three-judge panel described a chaotic system where prisoners were stacked in triple bunk beds in gymnasiums, hallways and day rooms; where single guards were often forced to monitor scores of inmates at a time; and where ill inmates died for lack of treatment.

“In these overcrowded conditions, inmate-on-inmate violence is almost impossible to prevent, infectious diseases spread more easily, and lockdowns are sometimes the only means by which to maintain control,” the panel wrote. “In short, California’s prisons are bursting at the seams and are impossible to manage.”

Mr. Brown, who is raising money for a possible run for governor, said that some sort of settlement might be negotiated, but he added that he did not believe the court has the authority to cap the state’s prison system.

“California is facing real financial challenges and at the same time the court is ordering standards of care that exceed the standard required under the Constitution,” he said.

The case began as the result of class action lawsuits addressing inadequate medical and mental health care in the prison system. Those lawsuits were resolved years ago. The medical care case ended up with a federal receiver overseeing the system, and the mental health care case with a special master.

“It’s an extraordinary form of federal involvement,” Kara P. Dansky, the executive director of the Stanford University Criminal Justice Center, said of the ruling. “I’m not aware of any other case in which a federal court has entered a prison release of this magnitude over the objection of a state defendant.”

Such federal interventions have become increasingly rare under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, which restricts inmates’ access to courts and prohibits federal courts from imposing population caps on prisons except as a last resort.

Prison reform advocates said Tuesday that the state would probably lose any appeal of the reduction order.

“These are cases that have been going on for more than 15 years,” said David Fathi, the director of the United States program for Human Rights Watch. Mr. Fathi added, “The record in regard to constitutional violations is massive, and the judges have tried other less intrusive remedies before.”

Although the state spent millions of dollars on court-ordered changes, the judges ruled Tuesday that the system still violates the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has shifted between supporting the court-ordered changes and, as state deficits grew and political pressures intensified, fighting them. In June, Mr. Schwarzenegger reneged on a deal with the federal receiver that would have provided $3 billion to build two prison hospitals and renovate other facilities to create 5,000 beds for ill inmates. An earlier plan was for the state to pay $8 billion for 10,000 prison hospital beds.

The governor has also pushed his own prison construction plan and a parole overhaul as ways to reduce prison crowding and to fix inmate health care services without federal intrusion.

But the court pointed out on Tuesday that the state had not committed enough money toward the governor’s prison construction plan and that even if that money was provided, it would take years for the state to build its way out of the overpopulation crisis.

The judges on the panel were Stephen Reinhardt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and two Federal District Court judges from California, Lawrence K. Karlton and Thelton E. Henderson.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/05/us/05calif.html
26174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Astronomy on: August 04, 2009, 12:59:56 AM
BBG:

The diversity of your reading impresses.
26175  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty 8/1-2 Fort Hood, TX on: August 04, 2009, 12:13:05 AM
Warrior Talk-- Gabe Suarez's forum.

Had a blast this weekend.  Lots of military (one from Fort Carson CO and two from Fort Polk LA) various LEOs and a goodly number of quasi-normal citizens. wink    I was invited to the Army's Combatives tournament that began today on the base-- 250 fighters or so and was asked to do a demo.  Good times.   Good to see the good work that DBMA Group Leader SFC Gus Reina is doing and looking forward to the next time.

26176  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knife for Self Defense on: August 04, 2009, 12:02:43 AM
Just a quick yip from Texas:

Very interesting conversation and thanks to Maxx for sharing.

Concerning not accessing his knife:  Why would he?  He was not aware that the man had accessed a weapon and was using it.
26177  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: August 03, 2009, 11:53:10 PM
And profoundly grateful for your brotherly friendship and what you bring to our Tribe.

Grateful for the trip to Killeen, Texas this past weekend and for the Combatives tournament at Fort Hood today and all the fine soldiers I have met these past few days.  America is in your debt.
26178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: July 31, 2009, 06:35:22 AM
Out of town for a seminar until Tuesday night.  Don't know how much posting I will be doing in the meantime.

TAC!
26179  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty 8/1-2 Fort Hood, TX on: July 31, 2009, 05:25:27 AM
Leaving in a few hours-- really pysched to see Gus, his crew, all the WTers, and meet new friends.
26180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Federalist 57 on: July 31, 2009, 05:11:53 AM
"If it be asked what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer, the genius of the whole system, the nature of just and constitutional laws, and above all the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America, a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it." --Federalist No. 57, February 19, 1788
26181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 31, 2009, 03:41:24 AM
BBG:

Good to have a thorough piece on that subject.  Thanks.
26182  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Lonely Dog's Report on: July 30, 2009, 09:25:29 PM
Posted on behalf of Lonely Dog:

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

Hi Marc

I'm sitting here on the floor in our new and empty apartment.  We just moved in yesterday.  Today we clean the old apartment and I will unplug my computer in the next minutes.  I will have no internet access for the next days. so I took the opportunity to write a short Gathering report...

Please post it for me on the forum.

thanks
Wuff
Benjamin

-----------

Gathering 2009 in Bern

This year we had like last year 2 days of fighting. The “Tribal Gathering” on Friday and the “Regular Gathering” on Saturday. On Friday we had 40 fighters, and on Saturday even some more. The fighters came from various countries (Switzerland, Germany, England, Scotland, Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Poland and USA).

Unfortunately this year Guro could not be with us  so I had to host the event by myself.   I have to admit that I was quite nervous… I would like to thank Guro Marc for the trust in me.

After I open the day with the magic words, I continued with reading a letter that Guro Marc sent me. While reading the letter I wore Marc’s famous jeans jacket, which he gave me after he promoted me to Guro. With wearing that jacket I wanted to underline that in spirit he is here with us all.
     
“A Howl of Greeting to All:
Due to the change of date of the Euro Gathering to a date which conflicts with family commitments, I am not able to be there with you this time.

It certainly feels very strange and unsettling to not be at a Gathering, but upon reflection I realize that the fact that my vision of the Dog Brothers which began so long ago has gotten to a point where I CAN miss a day is really a sign of tremendous progress towards the birth of a tribe which will outlive us all.  For this, I am deeply happy.”

While reading the last 2 sentences I really had goose bumps… the letter continued with:
 
”For those of you fighting for the first time and are worried about whether you will fight well, allow me to ask you a three part question:
Remember the first time you had sex?  Were you any good at it?  Have you gotten better since then?

What matters is that you keep on being here in this space-- for these are days in which you will create and install in your spirit the place where you are forever young so that you will walk as a warrior for all your days.

As you step out into the magical space, feel the gift of your aliveness and be present in the moment.

The Learning that takes place in the adrenal state is some of the deepest and highest that there is.  The greater the adrenal state, the profounder the Learning. The greater the state of Play, the better the result. The more that one can move in both directions simultaneously, the better. "The greater the dichotomy, the profounder the transformation. Higher consciousness through harder contact." (c)

See you all next time.
Crafty Dog
Guiding Force of the Dog Brothers.”

Now everybody was very motivated to start the day.

As last year we decided go without the warm up knife rounds, so it was again a almost stick only day. As usual most fights were done with single sticks or double stick. Although we had also some nice fights with some exotic weapons. “Dog” Andy Hommel who trained and explored the last years a lot with flexible weapons had some great fights with: Nunchaku, Flail, and 3 sectional staff.

On both days, we had a lot of great fights. It was amazing to see the progress that many fighters did since the last year. Most fights were very technical and ones could recognize that the fighters followed game plans and strategies. We saw many fights on a high level and with great spirit. Although the fights were though we had only a few injuries.

Both days I organized a barbeque for the fighters, so we could sit around the Campfire and chat about the this adventure and that it will continued…

After I had a council of elders meeting through phone call with Marc, I had the permission to do the “Dog Dubbing” on Sunday during the seminar.

The “Council of Elders” is proud to announce the new members of the Tribe.

Marcus "Giri Dog" Schillinger

Andy "C-Flexi Dog" Hommel
Jerome “C-Frisbee Dog” Challon
Peter "C-Grumpy Dog" Fray
Thomas "C-Sword Dog" Rickert
Torben "C-Old Dog" Lorenian
Chris “C-Rogue Dog” Smith
Martin “C-? Dog” Blatter (Tinu asked me to give him a name, still need some time to find a good one)

Lynn "C-Psycho Bitch " Brown
"Cat" Heather Kerr

"Dog" Davide Musi
"Dog" Heiko Zauske
"Dog" Manfred Schilka
"Dog" Shanu Singh
"Dog" Stefan Ramsauer
"Dog" Thorsten Picker
"Dog" Thomas Britschgi
"Dog" Simon Godsland

All in all it was a very exciting and successful event. And we all are looking forward with anticipation to the next Euro Gathering in July 2010.

Wuff
Guro Benjamin “Lonely Dog” Rittiner
26183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Denial of a Taliban truce on: July 30, 2009, 08:22:35 AM
I found this piece by Stratfor particularly fascinating-- are we actually beginning to have the semblance of a strategy?


Geopolitical Diary: Denial of a Taliban Truce
July 28, 2009
An official spokesman for the Afghan Taliban movement has denied a claim by President Hamid Karzai that the Afghan government negotiated a truce with the insurgent movement in western Badghis province.

The denial on Monday came only hours after a presidential spokesman announced the truce: Siamak Herawi had claimed that 20 days of talks with local tribal elders had concluded on July 25 with the signing of a cease-fire agreement, which led to militants pulling out of three areas in Bala Murghab district and the withdrawal of Afghan National Army units from compounds captured from militants in the region. The subsequent Taliban denial was accompanied by violence: Two militants were killed and two police wounded during an insurgent ambush of a police patrol in Bala Murghab district.

The details suggest that the Karzai government might have reached some form of agreement with local Taliban leaders somewhere in Badghis province. If so, it would be the first such deal between Kabul and the Pashtun jihadists since the insurgency began in late 2001. Truces are indeed part of the overall U.S. counterinsurgency strategy, which is why Herawi described the alleged July 25 agreement as “a model that other provinces and areas are also trying to use.”

But even if an actual truce was achieved, it certainly didn’t last long, and it was reported to have been in effect in only one of seven districts in the province, which itself is a remote Taliban outpost on the border with Turkmenistan, in a region dominated by the Hazara and Aimak ethnic minorities. A backwater in the war, Badghis province has seen little in the way of Taliban activity compared to areas in southern, eastern and northern Afghanistan.

While there might have been a short-lived truce — and such deals are part of the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan — a great many obstacles remain before Washington or Kabul will be able to engage in any meaningful dialogue with the Taliban.

Any truce in Bala Murghab district was likely the work of local insurgents who were promptly overruled by the central Taliban leadership, which is most concerned about insulating local Taliban elements from U.S. and NATO efforts to co-opt the insurgency.

This could be one reason why Mullah Mohammad Omar issued a Taliban code-of-conduct manual, as reported by Al Jazeera on Monday. The manual quotes Mullah Omar as forbidding the creation of new jihadist units, and it calls upon his commanders to disband unofficial factions that refuse to subordinate to the central Taliban leadership.

Mullah Omar is clearly trying to consolidate his hold over the various commanders across Afghanistan, who have enjoyed a great degree of autonomy in almost eight years of war. Along with the central shura, Mullah Omar has been in hiding for years. The Taliban, who have the upper hand in Afghanistan’s conflict, have no need at present to negotiate for a slice of the political pie: They can create a new one after, as they expect, they force Western troops out of Afghanistan. But at the same time, the Taliban realize that the United States and NATO are not about to leave the country as long as it remains a sanctuary for al Qaeda-led transnational jihadists who dream of striking at the West.

STRATFOR has learned that Mullah Omar is actually open to the idea of disassociating from al Qaeda as part of a negotiated settlement that would result in Western forces leaving Afghanistan. The collapse of the Badghis truce, if there was one, does not mean the Taliban are not interested in negotiations or cease-fires. They are — but only under certain circumstances. While the government in Kabul and its Western backers see cease-fire deals with local militants as a means of weakening the Taliban (by bypassing the central leadership), Mullah Omar wants any cease-fire talks to be held with the central leadership. He has outlined certain conditions that would make that possible.

These include the Taliban’s removal from the international terrorist list, the release of Taliban prisoners and the freedom of the Taliban to function as a legal political movement. The leaders want to be able to see progress on these demands before they move forward on other issues. For the United States, however, these are unacceptable demands, especially while the insurgents have the upper hand in the fighting and as the United States struggles to develop the intelligence needed to distinguish between reconcilable and irreconcilable elements among the Taliban.

Even the Taliban are not exactly in a condition to come quickly to the table. They have a host of internal issues that must be sorted out, including challenges from hard-line factions allied with al Qaeda — especially the one led by Haji Mansour Dadullah (brother of Mullah Dadullah, who was killed in a U.S. air strike). There is also the matter of dealing with Taliban factions across the border, whose war against the Pakistani state is seen by the Afghan Taliban as undermining the insurgency in Afghanistan.

The idea of a truce with the Taliban is not an improbable notion, but it is not likely to be meaningful if negotiated only on a local level. And given the problems facing both sides in the Afghan war, a real truce or even meaningful talks are unlikely anytime soon.
26184  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Gathering Report from Lonely Dog on: July 30, 2009, 07:12:48 AM
Euro Gathering report inadvertently posted here.  Deleted.
26185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Vaccine for dogs for snake bite on: July 30, 2009, 06:59:22 AM


Is there a snake bite vaccine for dogs?

There is a vaccine against rattlesnakes for dogs. For more information, see http://www.redrockbiologics.com/
26186  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Snake and other venomous bites on: July 30, 2009, 06:55:52 AM


http://lomalindahealth.org/medical-center/our-services/emergency/programs-and-divisions/venom-er/about-us/index.html
26187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Paine: taxation on: July 30, 2009, 06:32:47 AM
"If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced stage of improvement, we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised, to furnish new pretenses for revenues and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without tribute." --Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791
26188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: July 29, 2009, 08:31:42 PM
A year or so from now I may well be a Californian no longer, but nonetheless, here's this:

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-karako26-2009jul26,0,757702.story
 
 
 
Opinion
Putting California back together
The state's Constitution needs a rewrite -- and the federal Constitution should be the model.
By Tom Karako
July 26, 2009
If this year's budget quagmire in Sacramento has you thinking there must be a better way, there is. To the extent that California is ungovernable today, it is partly because its legislative and executive branches are too weak and dysfunctional to resist entrenched special interests and non-elected bureaucracies. Fixing these problems requires constitutional change. It won't be easy, but the time has come to do it.

Over the last 130 years, California's Constitution has assumed the size of a textbook. The ease of amendment by initiative and referendum has produced endless gimmicks that diffuse accountability, confuse the public and produce thoroughly dysfunctional governance. People from across the political spectrum are calling for a constitutional convention.


If Californians do rewrite the Constitution, it should be revised to resemble more closely the concise federal Constitution: more responsible legislators and executives, stronger control of the bureaucracy and less direct democracy.

Of the many reforms being circulated, the Founding Fathers might approve these six.

Part-time Legislature: Forty-three states have part-time legislative sessions, and California should too. Freed from a yearlong legislative cycle, legislators would spend less time conspiring to make government increasingly complicated and intrusive, and more time in their districts meeting constituents. A part-time Legislature does not mean a part-time government. The execution of laws is constant, but the making of those laws can be done in advance.


A part-time Legislature should not be a "citizen legislature" resembling jurors who legislate as a kind of hobby. With the economy and geography of a small nation, California merits professional legislators to master the job we hire them to do. Salaries should remain the same, lest legislators be limited to the affluent, the corrupt and the amateur.

Hard spending cap: In 1979, voters passed the so-called Gann Amendment by a wide margin, imposing a severe formula of fiscal restraint tied to increases in population, inflation and economic growth. Unfortunately, Gann was eviscerated in 1988 when teachers unions pushed through Proposition 98 by a razor-thin margin, mandating huge increases in education spending.

A spending cap similar to Gann would again be prudent. If it resulted in a surplus, extra revenue could be returned to taxpayers or saved in a rainy-day fund, provided it could not be too easily raided by legislators.

Two-year budgeting cycle: The Legislature should be restricted to figuring out a budget one year, and only in the second year could it consider other legislation.

Eliminate the two-thirds supermajority requirement for budgets: A more controversial but necessary reform would be to reduce the two-thirds supermajority vote to pass state budgets, while retaining that requirement for tax increases. The current system, requiring two-thirds for both, has diffused responsibility without protecting the state from excessive spending. If voters want to give a clear majority of their representation to one party, let the majority prevail -- and let the people judge the consequences. Only three other states require a supermajority for budgets, but 15 require a supermajority to raise taxes.

Unified executive branch: When Americans elected Barack Obama, he got to fill his Cabinet not with a hodgepodge of John McCain and Obama appointees working at cross purposes but with nominees who would implement the president's policies. Similar unity would improve government in a state as large as California.

It is dysfunctional to have executive officers separately elected and in competition with one another, as are many executive officers in California.

The governor should also have greater latitude in firing and controlling non-elected bureaucrats and public employee unions that pursue their own agendas at taxpayer expense.

Repeal ballot-box budgeting: Budget-making is a complicated process that involves priorities and trade-offs. It is not well-suited to direct democracy, when the people can only register an up-or-down vote.

California's decades of ballot-box budgeting has helped to produce a monstrous Constitution, with mandates for specific amounts of spending that inevitably tie the hands of the Legislature and limit flexibility.

The need for flexibility was seen when Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) offered up two of his favored programs, in Propositions 1D and 1E on the May ballot, redirecting their surplus billions to pay bills from the general fund. That would have saved the state $1 billion this year alone. But voters' anger at Proposition 1A's tax increases understandably doomed 1D and 1E, precluding nuance.

A better system would be to repeal all past ballot-box budgeting and put the programs under the general fund. Legislators would be able to set priorities, and the people would judge the results.

The genius of representative government, James Madison wrote, is excluding the people in their collective capacity from the direct business of governing. Hand the task of budgets back to our elected representatives, the ones we hired to make these hard decisions.

California needs constitutional reform before we can expect sustained fiscal reform. Whether that comes from a package of initiatives or a constitutional convention, it should focus on strong, responsible political institutions and draw on the wisdom of the U.S. Constitution.

Tom Karako directs the Claremont Institute's Golden State Center.
26189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: July 29, 2009, 08:20:20 PM
An elderly man in Louisiana had owned a large farm for several years. He
had a large pond in the back. It was properly shaped for swimming, so he
fixed it up nice with picnic tables, horseshoe courts, and some apple, and
peach trees.

One evening the old farmer decided to go down to the pond, as he hadn't
been there for a while, and look it over. He grabbed a five-gallon bucket
to bring back some fruit.
As he neared the pond, he heard voices shouting and laughing with glee. As
he came closer, he saw it was a bunch of young women skinny-dipping in his
pond. He made the women aware of his presence and they all went to the
deep end. One of the women shouted to him, 'we're not coming out until you
leave!'


The old man frowned, 'I didn't come down here to watch you ladies swim naked
or make you get out of the pond naked.'

Holding the bucket up he said, 'I'm here to feed the alligator.'

Some old men can still think fast.
26190  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Lacrosse Staff on: July 29, 2009, 04:16:38 PM
"© Barbara K. Adamski" barbadamski.com.

Lacrosse (excerpt) by Barb Adamski. The Canadian Encyclopedia. © 2009 Historica Foundation of Canada
http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0004453 <http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0004453>


Men's Field Lacrosse

Men's field lacrosse is played by two teams of 10 on an outdoor field. The most noticeable difference between field lacrosse and other forms is the use of much longer sticks by the three defencemen on each team. The World
Lacrosse Championships take place every four years. In 2006, Canada won its first championship in nearly three decades when it defeated the United States of America 15-10. Many players on Canada's national field lacrosse
team play box lacrosse as well.

Women's Field Lacrosse

Women's field lacrosse is a non-contact sport played with 12 players per team. Ball movement and effective stick handling are key elements of the sport, and the shallowness of the stick's pocket makes catching and maintaining control of the ball more challenging. The first game of women's field lacrosse took place in Scotland in 1890.

Box Lacrosse

Box lacrosse was developed in the 1930s as a way to take advantage of hockey arenas left vacant during the summer months. Boxla (as it is also known) is sometimes referred to as the fastest sport on two feet. Rebounds and checks off the boards make the game exciting to watch, and a 30-second shot clock that requires a team to either score in half a minute or relinquish the ball to their opponent leads to a high-scoring game. Box lacrosse is usually played on a cement surface.

Professional indoor lacrosse is similar to box lacrosse in many ways, including the number of players per side (6), its use of the 30-second clock and the existence of boards surrounding the playing surface. Professional indoor lacrosse is played on a turf carpet.

Inter-Crosse

Inter-crosse, the newest form of lacrosse, is a low-risk activity, designed for schools and recreation programs. The easy-to-play indoor game uses molded plastic sticks and a soft, lightweight ball, and teaches participants
the fundamentals of lacrosse: scooping, carrying, passing, and catching the ball.
26191  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: July 29, 2009, 04:15:46 PM
The Role of the Mexican Military in the Cartel War
July 29, 2009




By Stephen Meiners and Fred Burton

Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske is in the middle of a four-day visit this week to Mexico, where he is meeting with Mexican government officials to discuss the two countries’ joint approach to Mexico’s ongoing cartel war. In prepared remarks at a July 27 press conference with Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora, Kerlikowske said Washington is focused on reducing drug use in the United States, supporting domestic law enforcement efforts against drug traffickers and working with other countries that serve as production areas or transshipment points for U.S.-bound drugs.

Absent from his remarks was any mention of the U.S. position on the role of the Mexican military in the country’s battle against the drug cartels. Kerlikowske’s visit comes amid a growing debate in Mexico over the role that the country’s armed forces should play in the cartel war. The debate has intensified in recent weeks, as human rights organizations in Mexico and the United States have expressed concern over civil rights abuses by Mexican troops assigned to counternarcotics missions in various parts of the country.

The director of Mexico’s independent National Human Rights Commission, for example, has encouraged the new legislature to re-examine the role of the Mexican military in the country’s cartel war, saying that the current approach is clearly not working. The number of citizen complaints against soldiers has increased over the last few years as the troops have become actively engaged in counternarcotics operations, and the commission director has expressed hope for greater accountability on the part of the armed forces.

Citing similar concerns, and the fact that such citizen complaints are handled by the military justice system — which has reportedly not successfully prosecuted a case in years — the independent U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her not to certify Mexico’s human rights record to Congress, which would freeze the disbursement of a portion of the funds for the Merida Initiative, a U.S. counternarcotics aid package for Mexico.

More important than any possible funding freeze from Washington, though, is the potential response from the Mexican government. President Felipe Calderon has emphasized that the use of the military is a temporary move and is necessary until the country’s federal police reforms can be completed in 2012. Legislative leaders from both main opposition parties complained last week that Calderon’s approach has unnecessarily weakened the armed forces, while the leader of the Mexican senate — a member of Calderon’s National Action Party — said the legislature will examine the role of the military and seek to balance the needs of the cartel war with the civil rights of the Mexican people. In addition, the president of Mexico’s supreme court has said the court plans to review the appropriateness of military jurisdiction in cases involving citizen complaints against soldiers.

Domestic debate and international criticism of Calderon’s use of the military are not necessarily new. Indeed, Calderon was defending his approach to representatives of the United Nations back in early 2008. However, the renewed debate, combined with recent changes in the Mexican legislature, have set the stage for a general re-examination of the Mexican military’s role in the cartel war. And while it is still unclear exactly where the re-examination will end up, the eventual outcome could drastically change the way the Mexican government fights the cartels.

More than Just Law Enforcement
Since taking office in December 2006, Calderon’s decision to deploy more than 35,000 federal troops in security operations around the country has grabbed headlines. While previous presidents have used the armed forces for counternarcotics operations in isolated cases, the scope and scale of the military’s involvement under Calderon has reached new heights. This approach is due in no small part to the staggering level of corruption among federal police. But primarily, the use of the military is a reflection of the many tasks that must be performed under Calderon’s strategy, which is far more complex than simply putting boots on the ground and requires more than what traditional law enforcement agencies can provide.

This broad range of tasks can be grouped into three categories:

The first involves duties traditionally carried out by the armed forces in Mexico, such as technical intelligence collection and maritime and aerial monitoring and interdiction. These tasks are well-suited to the armed forces, which have the equipment, training and experience to perform them. These are also key requirements in the country’s counternarcotics strategy, considering that Mexico is the primary transshipment point for South American-produced cocaine bound for the United States, the world’s largest market for the drug.
The second category includes traditional civilian law enforcement and judicial duties. Specifically, this includes actions such as making arrests, prosecuting and convicting defendants and imposing punishment. With the exception of the military routinely detaining suspects and then turning them over to law enforcement authorities, the tasks in this second category have remained mainly in the hands of civilian authorities.
The final category is more of a gray area. It involves tasks that overlap between Mexico’s armed forces and law enforcement agencies, and it is the area over the last few years in which the Mexican military has become increasingly involved. It is also the area that has caused the most controversy, primarily due to the fact that it has brought the troops into closer contact with the civilian population.
Some of the most noteworthy tasks in this final “gray” category include:

Drug-crop eradication and meth-lab seizures. In addition to being the main transit point for U.S.-bound cocaine, Mexico is also estimated to be the largest producer of marijuana and methamphetamines consumed in the United States. The U.S. National Drug Intelligence Center estimates that more than 17,000 tons of marijuana were produced in Mexico during 2007, most of which was smuggled into the United States. Similarly, seizures of so-called meth superlabs in Mexico over the last few years — some capable of producing hundreds of tons annually — underscore the scale of meth production in Mexico. The destruction of marijuana crops and meth production facilities is a task that has been shared by both the military and law enforcement under Calderon.
Immigration and customs inspections at points of entry and exit. Thorough inspections of inbound and outbound cargo and people at Mexico’s borders have played a key role in some of the more noteworthy drug seizures during the last few years, including the country’s largest cocaine seizure at the Pacific port of Manzanillo in November 2007. Similar inspections elsewhere have led to significant seizures of weapons and precursor chemicals used in the production of meth. In many cases, the Mexican armed forces have played a role in either stopping or inspecting suspect cargo.
Raids and arrests of high-value cartel targets. Beyond simply stopping the flow of drugs and weapons into and out of Mexico, the federal government has also sought to disrupt the powerful organizations that control the drug trade by arresting drug cartel members. Given the federal police’s reputation for corruption, highly sensitive and risky operations such as the arrest of high-ranking cartel leaders have more often than not been carried out by the military’s elite Special Forces Airmobile Group (GAFE). In most cases, the suspects detained by GAFE units have been quickly handed over to the attorney general’s office, though in some cases military personnel have been accused of holding suspects for longer than necessary in order to extract information themselves.
General public safety and law enforcement. The rise in organized crime-related violence across Mexico over the last few years has been a cause for great concern both within the government and among the population. A central part of the federal government’s effort to curb the violence has been the deployment of military forces to many areas, where the troops conduct such actions as security patrols, traffic stops and raids as well as man highway checkpoints. In some cities, the military has been called upon to assume all public-safety and law-enforcement responsibilities, disarming the local police force while looking for police links to organized crime. Another part of this militarization of law enforcement has involved the appointment of military officers — many of whom resign their commission a day before their appointment — to law enforcement posts such as police chief or public safety consultant.
It is this final trend that has led to most of the concerns and complaints regarding the military’s role in the cartel war. The federal government has been mindful of these concerns from the beginning and has tried to minimize the criticism by involving the federal police as much as possible. But it has been the armed forces that have provided the bulk of the manpower and coordination that federal police agencies — hampered by rampant corruption and a tumultuous reform process — have not been able to muster.

A Victim of its Own Success
The armed forces’ greater effectiveness, rapid deployment capability and early successes in some public security tasks made it inevitable that its role would evolve and expand. The result has been a classic case of mission creep. By the time additional duties were being assigned to the military, its resources had become stretched too thin to be as effective as before. This reality became apparent by early 2008 in public-safety roles, especially when the military was tasked with security operations in cities as large and as violent as Ciudad Juarez.

Even though the Mexican military was not designed or trained for law-enforcement duties or securing urban areas, it had been generally successful in improving the security situation of the smaller cities to which it had been deployed throughout 2007. But by early 2008, when soldiers were first deployed to Ciudad Juarez en masse, it became clear that they simply had too much on their plate. As the city’s security environment deteriorated disastrously during the second half of 2008, the military presence there proved incapable of controlling it, an outcome that has continued even today, despite the unprecedented concentration of forces that are currently in the city.

In addition to the military’s mission failures, it has also struggled with increasing civil rights complaints from citizens. In particular, soldiers have been accused of unauthorized searches and seizures, rough treatment and torture of suspects (which in some cases have included police officers), and improper rules of engagement, which have led several times to civilian deaths when soldiers mistook them for hostile shooters. In many cities, particularly in northern and western Mexico, exasperated residents have staged rallies and marches to protest the military presence in their towns.

While the military has certainly not acted flawlessly in its operations and undoubtedly bears guilt for some offenses, these complaints are not completely reliable records of the military’s performance. For one thing, many cartel enforcers routinely dress in military-style clothing and travel in vehicles painted to resemble military trucks, while many also have military backgrounds and operate using the tactics they were taught. This makes it difficult for residents, during the chaos of a raid, to distinguish between legitimate soldiers and cartel members. More important, however, is the fact that the Mexican drug cartels have been keenly aware of the threat posed to them by the military and of the controversy associated with the military’s involvement in the cartel war. For this reason, the cartels have been eager to exploit this vulnerability by paying residents to protest the military presence and spread reports of military abuses.

Outlook
As the Mexican congress and supreme court continue the debate over the appropriateness of the military in various roles in the cartel war, it is important to recall what the armed forces have done well. For all its faults and failures, the military remains the most reliable security tool available to the Mexican government. And continued problems with the federal police reforms mean that the military will remain the most reliable and versatile option for the foreseeable future.

Any legislative or judicial effort to withdraw the armed forces from certain tasks will leave the government with fewer options in battling the cartels and, ultimately, in an even more precarious position than it is in now. The loss of such a valuable tool in some areas of the cartel war would force the government to fundamentally alter its strategy in the cartel war, most likely requiring it to scale back its objectives.

26192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strat: Mex Mil in the Cartel War on: July 29, 2009, 04:07:11 PM
The Role of the Mexican Military in the Cartel War
July 29, 2009




By Stephen Meiners and Fred Burton

Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels

U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske is in the middle of a four-day visit this week to Mexico, where he is meeting with Mexican government officials to discuss the two countries’ joint approach to Mexico’s ongoing cartel war. In prepared remarks at a July 27 press conference with Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora, Kerlikowske said Washington is focused on reducing drug use in the United States, supporting domestic law enforcement efforts against drug traffickers and working with other countries that serve as production areas or transshipment points for U.S.-bound drugs.

Absent from his remarks was any mention of the U.S. position on the role of the Mexican military in the country’s battle against the drug cartels. Kerlikowske’s visit comes amid a growing debate in Mexico over the role that the country’s armed forces should play in the cartel war. The debate has intensified in recent weeks, as human rights organizations in Mexico and the United States have expressed concern over civil rights abuses by Mexican troops assigned to counternarcotics missions in various parts of the country.

The director of Mexico’s independent National Human Rights Commission, for example, has encouraged the new legislature to re-examine the role of the Mexican military in the country’s cartel war, saying that the current approach is clearly not working. The number of citizen complaints against soldiers has increased over the last few years as the troops have become actively engaged in counternarcotics operations, and the commission director has expressed hope for greater accountability on the part of the armed forces.

Citing similar concerns, and the fact that such citizen complaints are handled by the military justice system — which has reportedly not successfully prosecuted a case in years — the independent U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her not to certify Mexico’s human rights record to Congress, which would freeze the disbursement of a portion of the funds for the Merida Initiative, a U.S. counternarcotics aid package for Mexico.

More important than any possible funding freeze from Washington, though, is the potential response from the Mexican government. President Felipe Calderon has emphasized that the use of the military is a temporary move and is necessary until the country’s federal police reforms can be completed in 2012. Legislative leaders from both main opposition parties complained last week that Calderon’s approach has unnecessarily weakened the armed forces, while the leader of the Mexican senate — a member of Calderon’s National Action Party — said the legislature will examine the role of the military and seek to balance the needs of the cartel war with the civil rights of the Mexican people. In addition, the president of Mexico’s supreme court has said the court plans to review the appropriateness of military jurisdiction in cases involving citizen complaints against soldiers.

Domestic debate and international criticism of Calderon’s use of the military are not necessarily new. Indeed, Calderon was defending his approach to representatives of the United Nations back in early 2008. However, the renewed debate, combined with recent changes in the Mexican legislature, have set the stage for a general re-examination of the Mexican military’s role in the cartel war. And while it is still unclear exactly where the re-examination will end up, the eventual outcome could drastically change the way the Mexican government fights the cartels.

More than Just Law Enforcement
Since taking office in December 2006, Calderon’s decision to deploy more than 35,000 federal troops in security operations around the country has grabbed headlines. While previous presidents have used the armed forces for counternarcotics operations in isolated cases, the scope and scale of the military’s involvement under Calderon has reached new heights. This approach is due in no small part to the staggering level of corruption among federal police. But primarily, the use of the military is a reflection of the many tasks that must be performed under Calderon’s strategy, which is far more complex than simply putting boots on the ground and requires more than what traditional law enforcement agencies can provide.

This broad range of tasks can be grouped into three categories:

The first involves duties traditionally carried out by the armed forces in Mexico, such as technical intelligence collection and maritime and aerial monitoring and interdiction. These tasks are well-suited to the armed forces, which have the equipment, training and experience to perform them. These are also key requirements in the country’s counternarcotics strategy, considering that Mexico is the primary transshipment point for South American-produced cocaine bound for the United States, the world’s largest market for the drug.
The second category includes traditional civilian law enforcement and judicial duties. Specifically, this includes actions such as making arrests, prosecuting and convicting defendants and imposing punishment. With the exception of the military routinely detaining suspects and then turning them over to law enforcement authorities, the tasks in this second category have remained mainly in the hands of civilian authorities.
The final category is more of a gray area. It involves tasks that overlap between Mexico’s armed forces and law enforcement agencies, and it is the area over the last few years in which the Mexican military has become increasingly involved. It is also the area that has caused the most controversy, primarily due to the fact that it has brought the troops into closer contact with the civilian population.
Some of the most noteworthy tasks in this final “gray” category include:

Drug-crop eradication and meth-lab seizures. In addition to being the main transit point for U.S.-bound cocaine, Mexico is also estimated to be the largest producer of marijuana and methamphetamines consumed in the United States. The U.S. National Drug Intelligence Center estimates that more than 17,000 tons of marijuana were produced in Mexico during 2007, most of which was smuggled into the United States. Similarly, seizures of so-called meth superlabs in Mexico over the last few years — some capable of producing hundreds of tons annually — underscore the scale of meth production in Mexico. The destruction of marijuana crops and meth production facilities is a task that has been shared by both the military and law enforcement under Calderon.
Immigration and customs inspections at points of entry and exit. Thorough inspections of inbound and outbound cargo and people at Mexico’s borders have played a key role in some of the more noteworthy drug seizures during the last few years, including the country’s largest cocaine seizure at the Pacific port of Manzanillo in November 2007. Similar inspections elsewhere have led to significant seizures of weapons and precursor chemicals used in the production of meth. In many cases, the Mexican armed forces have played a role in either stopping or inspecting suspect cargo.
Raids and arrests of high-value cartel targets. Beyond simply stopping the flow of drugs and weapons into and out of Mexico, the federal government has also sought to disrupt the powerful organizations that control the drug trade by arresting drug cartel members. Given the federal police’s reputation for corruption, highly sensitive and risky operations such as the arrest of high-ranking cartel leaders have more often than not been carried out by the military’s elite Special Forces Airmobile Group (GAFE). In most cases, the suspects detained by GAFE units have been quickly handed over to the attorney general’s office, though in some cases military personnel have been accused of holding suspects for longer than necessary in order to extract information themselves.
General public safety and law enforcement. The rise in organized crime-related violence across Mexico over the last few years has been a cause for great concern both within the government and among the population. A central part of the federal government’s effort to curb the violence has been the deployment of military forces to many areas, where the troops conduct such actions as security patrols, traffic stops and raids as well as man highway checkpoints. In some cities, the military has been called upon to assume all public-safety and law-enforcement responsibilities, disarming the local police force while looking for police links to organized crime. Another part of this militarization of law enforcement has involved the appointment of military officers — many of whom resign their commission a day before their appointment — to law enforcement posts such as police chief or public safety consultant.
It is this final trend that has led to most of the concerns and complaints regarding the military’s role in the cartel war. The federal government has been mindful of these concerns from the beginning and has tried to minimize the criticism by involving the federal police as much as possible. But it has been the armed forces that have provided the bulk of the manpower and coordination that federal police agencies — hampered by rampant corruption and a tumultuous reform process — have not been able to muster.

A Victim of its Own Success
The armed forces’ greater effectiveness, rapid deployment capability and early successes in some public security tasks made it inevitable that its role would evolve and expand. The result has been a classic case of mission creep. By the time additional duties were being assigned to the military, its resources had become stretched too thin to be as effective as before. This reality became apparent by early 2008 in public-safety roles, especially when the military was tasked with security operations in cities as large and as violent as Ciudad Juarez.

Even though the Mexican military was not designed or trained for law-enforcement duties or securing urban areas, it had been generally successful in improving the security situation of the smaller cities to which it had been deployed throughout 2007. But by early 2008, when soldiers were first deployed to Ciudad Juarez en masse, it became clear that they simply had too much on their plate. As the city’s security environment deteriorated disastrously during the second half of 2008, the military presence there proved incapable of controlling it, an outcome that has continued even today, despite the unprecedented concentration of forces that are currently in the city.

In addition to the military’s mission failures, it has also struggled with increasing civil rights complaints from citizens. In particular, soldiers have been accused of unauthorized searches and seizures, rough treatment and torture of suspects (which in some cases have included police officers), and improper rules of engagement, which have led several times to civilian deaths when soldiers mistook them for hostile shooters. In many cities, particularly in northern and western Mexico, exasperated residents have staged rallies and marches to protest the military presence in their towns.

While the military has certainly not acted flawlessly in its operations and undoubtedly bears guilt for some offenses, these complaints are not completely reliable records of the military’s performance. For one thing, many cartel enforcers routinely dress in military-style clothing and travel in vehicles painted to resemble military trucks, while many also have military backgrounds and operate using the tactics they were taught. This makes it difficult for residents, during the chaos of a raid, to distinguish between legitimate soldiers and cartel members. More important, however, is the fact that the Mexican drug cartels have been keenly aware of the threat posed to them by the military and of the controversy associated with the military’s involvement in the cartel war. For this reason, the cartels have been eager to exploit this vulnerability by paying residents to protest the military presence and spread reports of military abuses.

Outlook
As the Mexican congress and supreme court continue the debate over the appropriateness of the military in various roles in the cartel war, it is important to recall what the armed forces have done well. For all its faults and failures, the military remains the most reliable security tool available to the Mexican government. And continued problems with the federal police reforms mean that the military will remain the most reliable and versatile option for the foreseeable future.

Any legislative or judicial effort to withdraw the armed forces from certain tasks will leave the government with fewer options in battling the cartels and, ultimately, in an even more precarious position than it is in now. The loss of such a valuable tool in some areas of the cartel war would force the government to fundamentally alter its strategy in the cartel war, most likely requiring it to scale back its objectives.
26193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq-9 on: July 29, 2009, 03:45:10 PM
So I just heard that DynCorp has been told by the Iraqi government that they have to bring all 60 of their PSD vehicles down at the same time to be formally  documented so as to allow their continued presence and operation in Iraq. They will have to pay a 5% import surcharge per vehicle.
 
These armored Suburbans can run about $200K.  So say the tax is $10K per vehicle.  That would be about $600,000.
 
And that's just DynCorp.
26194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Coxe on: July 29, 2009, 07:43:09 AM
"As our president bears no resemblance to a king so we shall see the Senate has no similitude to nobles." --Tench Coxe, An American Citizen, No. 2, 1787
26195  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Lacrosse Staff on: July 29, 2009, 07:03:16 AM
A one handed version can be seen at 2:42 (I think) by the player in the green shirt:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PklCh7KPfm4

To get a bit more sense of the game:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlX0UUeohaQ&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6BjA_zjGBU&feature=fvw lousy music but really good attack stick

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8K3oyo9Tzw&feature=related

A fair amount of contact is allowed:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9WSMxQ7uJw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQ1Rm4KaTns a bit grainier, but a lot of good hits
26196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Talking with the Taliban on: July 28, 2009, 09:35:20 PM
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/27/britain-us-talks-taliban-afghanistan
26197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sacha Baron Cohen on: July 28, 2009, 10:28:10 AM
Brüno star Sacha Baron Cohen threatened by Gaza militant group over 'mocking' interview

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 2:06 PM on 28th July 2009


Brüno star Sacha Baron Cohen has been threatened by a terrorist organisation that he ridiculed in the hit satire.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a coalition of Palestinian militias in the West Bank, released a statement saying it was 'very upset' at how it is portrayed in the film.

The group is responsible for dozens of suicide bombings and shootings and has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and United States.

'The movie was part of a conspiracy against the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades,' a spokesman told Jerusalem-based journalist Aaron Klein.

'We reserve the right to respond in the way we find suitable against this man.'

In the film, Baron Cohen's Austrian character, an outrageous gay fashionista, attempts to get himself kidnapped during a meeting with Ayman Abu Aita, who is identified in the film as the leader of the Martyrs' Brigades.

Brüno is shown telling Mr Abu Aita: 'I want to be famous. I want the best guys in the business to kidnap me. Al-Qaeda is so 2001.'

Before Mr Abu Aita can respond, Brüno suggests that he remove his moustache, explaining: 'Because your king Osama looks like a kind of dirty wizard or homeless Santa.'

A spokesman for 37-year-old Baron Cohen refused to comment on the threat.

Mr Klein, the WorldNet reporter who received the statement from the Martyrs' Brigades, said today: 'These are terrorists who are fundamentalist Islamists. They are against feminism, gay rights and abortion.

'Once I asked them what would they do if they found out one of their members was a homosexual. They said they would cut off his head.'

Mr Abu Aita himself has threatened to sue Baron Cohen. He claims he was tricked into appearing in the film and has insisted that he is no longer involved in the Martyrs' Brigades.

Baron Cohen is reported to have received death threats in America and Kazakhstan after his previous box office hit, Borat.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worl...nterview.html#
26198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hunches on: July 28, 2009, 10:09:15 AM
By BENEDICT CAREY
Published: July 27, 2009
The sight was not that unusual, at least not for Mosul, Iraq, on a summer morning: a car parked on the sidewalk, facing opposite traffic, its windows rolled up tight. Two young boys stared out the back window, kindergarten age maybe, their faces leaning together as if to share a whisper.

Jennifer Murphy, a psychologist at the Army Research Institute, demonstrated a test used to determine the characteristics of service members who might have exceptional abilities at detecting roadside bombs.

For all that scientists have studied it, the brain remains the most complex and mysterious human organ — and, now, the focus of billions of dollars’ worth of research to penetrate its secrets.

This is the third article in a series that is looking in depth at some of the insights these projects are producing.

“One afternoon I remember turning down a road in Baghdad we were very familiar with, and there’s no one out — very creepy for that time of day.” Sgt. Dan Gomez, speaking about when he and others sensed something was amiss and ended up avoiding a roadside bomb.

The soldier patrolling closest to the car stopped. It had to be hot in there; it was 120 degrees outside. “Permission to approach, sir, to give them some water,” the soldier said to Sgt. First Class Edward Tierney, who led the nine-man patrol that morning.

“I said no — no,” Sergeant Tierney said in a telephone interview from Afghanistan. He said he had an urge to move back before he knew why: “My body suddenly got cooler; you know, that danger feeling.”

The United States military has spent billions on hardware, like signal jamming technology, to detect and destroy what the military calls improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s, the roadside bombs that have proved to be the greatest threat in Iraq and now in Afghanistan, where Sergeant Tierney is training soldiers to foil bomb attacks.

Still, high-tech gear, while helping to reduce casualties, remains a mere supplement to the most sensitive detection system of all — the human brain. Troops on the ground, using only their senses and experience, are responsible for foiling many I.E.D. attacks, and, like Sergeant Tierney, they often cite a gut feeling or a hunch as their first clue.

Everyone has hunches — about friends’ motives, about the stock market, about when to fold a hand of poker and when to hold it. But United States troops are now at the center of a large effort to understand how it is that in a life-or-death situation, some people’s brains can sense danger and act on it well before others’ do.

Experience matters, of course: if you have seen something before, you are more likely to anticipate it the next time. And yet, recent research suggests that something else is at work, too.

Small differences in how the brain processes images, how well it reads emotions and how it manages surges in stress hormones help explain why some people sense imminent danger before most others do.

Studies of members of the Army Green Berets and Navy Seals, for example, have found that in threatening situations they experience about the same rush of the stress hormone cortisol as any other soldier does. But their levels typically drop off faster than less well-trained troops, much faster in some cases.

In the past two years, an Army researcher, Steven Burnett, has overseen a study into human perception and bomb detection involving about 800 military men and women. Researchers have conducted exhaustive interviews with experienced fighters. They have administered personality tests and measured depth perception, vigilance and related abilities. The troops have competed to find bombs in photographs, videos, virtual reality simulations and on the ground in mock exercises.

The study complements a growing body of work suggesting that the speed with which the brain reads and interprets sensations like the feelings in one’s own body and emotions in the body language of others is central to avoiding imminent threats.

“Not long ago people thought of emotions as old stuff, as just feelings — feelings that had little to do with rational decision making, or that got in the way of it,” said Dr. Antonio Damasio, director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California. “Now that position has reversed. We understand emotions as practical action programs that work to solve a problem, often before we’re conscious of it. These processes are at work continually, in pilots, leaders of expeditions, parents, all of us.”

Seeing What Others Miss

The patrol through Mosul’s main marketplace never became routine, not once, not after the 10th time or the 40th. A divot in the gravel, a slight shadow in a ditch, a pile of discarded cans; any one could be deadly; every one raised the same question: Is there something — anything — out of place here?

Clearing a road of bombs is one of the least glamorous and most dangerous jobs on the planet. It is also one of the most important. In May, coalition forces found 465 of them in Afghanistan and 333 in Iraq. The troops foiled more than half the traps over all — but about 10 percent of the bombs killed or maimed a soldier or a Marine.

“We had indicators we’d look for, but you’d really have to be aware of everything, every detail,” said Sergeant Tierney, whose unit was working with the Iraqi police in that summer of 2004.

In recent years, the bombs have become more powerful, the hiding places ever more devious. Bombs in fake rocks. Bombs in poured concrete, built into curbs. Bombs triggered by decoy bombs.

“On one route sweep mission, there was a noticeable I.E.D. in the middle of the road, but it was a decoy,” said Lt. Donovan Campbell, who in 2004 led a Marine platoon for seven months of heavy fighting in Ramadi and wrote a vivid book, “Joker One,” about the experience. “The real bomb was encased in concrete, a hundred meters away, in the midst of rubble. One of my Marines spotted it. He said, ‘That block looks too symmetrical, too perfect.’ ”

Lieutenant Campbell had the area cleared and the bomb destroyed.


“Unless you know what rubble in that part of Iraq looks like, there’s no way you’d see that,” he said. “I had two guys, one we called Hound Dog, who were really good at spotting things that didn’t fit.”

Soldiers looked for roadside bombs in Afghanistan. Troops, using only their senses and experience, are responsible for foiling many roadside bomb attacks.
Brain Power
The Gut Feeling
For all that scientists have studied it, the brain remains the most complex and mysterious human organ — and, now, the focus of billions of dollars’ worth of research to penetrate its secrets.

This is the third article in a series that is looking in depth at some of the insights these projects are producing.



The men and women who performed best in the Army’s I.E.D. detection study had the sort of knowledge gained through experience, according to a preliminary analysis of the results; but many also had superb depth perception and a keen ability to sustain intense focus for long periods. The ability to pick odd shapes masked in complex backgrounds — a “Where’s Waldo” type of skill that some call anomaly detection — also predicted performance on some of the roadside bomb simulations.

“Some of these things cannot be trained, obviously,” said Jennifer Murphy, a psychologist at the Army Research Institute and the principal author of the I.E.D. study. “But some may be; these are fighters who become very sensitive to small changes in the environment. They’ll clear the same road every day and notice ridiculously subtle things: this rock was not here yesterday.”

In a study that appeared last month, neuroscientists at Princeton University demonstrated just how sensitive this visual ability is — and how a gut feeling may arise before a person becomes conscious of what the brain has registered.

They had students try to pick out figures — people or cars — in a series of photos that flashed by on a computer screen. The pictures flashed by four at a time, and the participants were told to scan only two of them, either those above and below the center point, or those to the left and right. Eye-tracking confirmed that they did just that.

But brain scans showed that the students’ brains registered the presence of people or cars even when the figures appeared in photos that they were not paying attention to. They got better at it, too, with training.

Some people’s brains were almost twice as fast at detecting the figures as others’. “It appears that the brain primes the whole visual system to be strongly sensitive to categories of visual input,” kinds of things to look for, said Marius V. Peelen, a neuroscientist at Princeton and a co-author of the study with Li Fei-Fei and Sabine Kastner. “And apparently some people’s visual system processes things much faster than others’.”

Something in the Air

A soldier or Marine could have X-ray vision and never see most I.E.D.’s, however. Veterans say that those who are most sensitive to the presence of the bombs not only pick up small details but also have the ability to step back and observe the bigger picture: extra tension in the air, unusual rhythms in Iraqi daily life, oddities in behavior.

“One afternoon I remember turning down a road in Baghdad we were very familiar with, and there’s no one out — very creepy for that time of day,” said Sgt. Don Gomez, a spokesman for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, who took part in the invasion and later, in 2005, drove a general in and around Baghdad.

Trash was heaped in a spot along the street where Sergeant Gomez and other drivers in the convoy had not seen it before, so they gave it a wide berth.

“We later called it in to an explosives team and, sure enough, they found one and detonated it — the thing left a huge crater,” he said.

As the brain tallies cues, big and small, consciously and not, it may send out an alarm before a person fully understands why.

In a landmark experiment in 1997, researchers at the University of Iowa had people gamble on a simple card game. Each participant was spotted $2,000 and had to choose cards from any of four decks. The cards offered immediate rewards, of $50 or $100, and the occasional card carried a penalty. But the game was rigged: the penalties in two of the decks were modest and in the other two decks were large.

The pattern was unpredictable, but on average the players reported “liking” some decks better than others by the 50th card to the 80th card drawn before they could fully explain why. Their bodies usually tensed up — subtly, but significantly, according to careful measures of sweat — in a few people as early as about the 10th card drawn, according to the authors, Dr. Damasio; his wife, Dr. Hanna Damasio; Dr. Antoine Bechara; and Dr. Daniel Tranel.

In a study published in May, researchers at King’s College in London did brain scans of people playing the gambling game used in the University of Iowa study. Several brain regions were particularly active, including the orbitofrontal cortex, which is involved in decision making, and the insula, where the brain is thought to register the diverse sensations coming from around the body and interpret them as a cohesive feeling — that cooling sensation of danger. In some brains, the alarm appears to sound earlier, and perhaps more intensely, than average.

===========



Page 3 of 3)



Gut feelings about potential threats or opportunities are not always correct, and neuroscientists debate the conditions under which the feeling precedes the conscious awareness of the clues themselves. But the system evolved for survival, and, in some people, is apparently exquisitely sensitive, the findings suggest.

For all that scientists have studied it, the brain remains the most complex and mysterious human organ — and, now, the focus of billions of dollars’ worth of research to penetrate its secrets.

This is the third article in a series that is looking in depth at some of the insights these projects are producing.



Mastering the Fear

One thing did not quite fit on the morning of Sergeant Tierney’s patrol in Mosul. The nine soldiers left the police station around 9 a.m., but they did not get their usual greeting. No one shot at them or fired a rocket-propelled grenade. Minutes passed, and nothing.

The soldiers walked the road in an odd silence, scanning the landscape for evidence of I.E.D.’s and trying to stay alert for an attack from insurgents. In war, anxiety can run as high as the Iraqi heat, and neuroscientists say that the most perceptive, observant brain on earth will not pick up subtle clues if it is overwhelmed by stress.

In the Army study of I.E.D. detection, researchers found that troops who were good at spotting bombs in simulations tended to think of themselves as predators, not prey. That frame of mind by itself may work to reduce anxiety, experts say.

The brains of elite troops also appear to register perceived threats in a different way from the average enlistee, said Dr. Martin P. Paulus, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Diego, and the V.A. San Diego Healthcare System. At the sight of angry faces, members of the Navy Seals show significantly higher activation in the insula than regular soldiers, according to a just-completed study.

“The big question is whether these differences perceiving threat are natural, or due to training,” Dr. Paulus said.

That morning in Mosul, Sergeant Tierney gave the command to fall back. The soldier who had asked to approach the car had just time enough to turn before the bomb exploded. Shrapnel clawed the side of his face; the shock wave threw the others to the ground. The two young boys were gone: killed in the blast, almost certainly, he said.

Since then, Sergeant Tierney has often run back the tape in his head, looking for the detail that tipped him off. Maybe it was the angle of the car, or the location; maybe the absence of an attack, the sleepiness in the market: perhaps the sum of all of the above.

“I can’t point to one thing,” he said. “I just had that feeling you have when you walk out of the house and know you forgot something — you got your keys, it’s not that — and need a few moments to figure out what it is.”

He added, “I feel very fortunate none of my men were killed or badly wounded.”
26199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Price of Tyranny on: July 28, 2009, 09:58:49 AM
Once you get it started over there, I will delete it here.

This is a really great idea for a thread by the way and I am looking forward to it becoming one of our best and most important threads.

26200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Federalist 57 on: July 28, 2009, 08:47:53 AM
"The house of representatives ... can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as the great mass of society. This has always been deemed one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people together. It creates between them that communion of interest, and sympathy of sentiments, of which few governments have furnished examples; but without which every government degenerates into tyranny." --Federalist No. 57, February 19, 1788
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