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26151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: December 02, 2010, 11:29:57 AM
IMHO GM most of us here are of above average IQ.  I'm even vain enough to include myself in that. smiley
26152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: December 02, 2010, 11:19:05 AM
Thank you for that Rachel.

Anyone have the Adam Sandler version?
26153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 02, 2010, 11:13:39 AM

Grannis does say that there will be some (i.e. too much) inflation.
26154  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Vancouver January 29-20 on: December 02, 2010, 11:12:35 AM
Amen to that about Tricky Dog and the Vancouver crew and other Canadian folks.  Also, Rob Crowley and some of the Seattle folks should be coming too  cool
26155  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Dan Inosanto on: December 02, 2010, 11:10:02 AM
I certainly would be nothing without my training and time with him.
26156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 02, 2010, 04:34:45 AM
I too have a high opinion of Wesbury (and, in a similar vein, Scott Grannis) but find myself quite torn between Glenn Beck et al and them.  I recently signed up for missives from Wesbury and will be posting some of it here-- I think we need to stay in touch with intelligent non-apocalyptic lines of thought, even though we may disagree cheesy
26157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: December 02, 2010, 04:31:06 AM
I read Baer's book several years ago and remember the passage about being ready to go on the coup.  Truly a moment of tragedy in that so much more tragedy could have been averted.  That said, a fair case can be made that the CIA has created a lot of problems with some of its unleashed forays.
26158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: December 01, 2010, 11:12:24 PM

a) If you have a chance, would you please post your relevant posts here on the Evolutionary Psychology/Biology thread as well?  I am familiar with some of them, but others are new to me.

b) I will take a stab at offering an example:  Eskimos.  Also, if I have a chance I will check some resource materials (e.g. R. Wright's "Non-zero Sum, the logic of human destiny") concerning the Native Americans of the Northwest before the white man came.

26159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: December 01, 2010, 11:00:46 PM
I'm not seeing an ad hominem there at all; it seems like an analogy to me.

""Libertarians. Providing simplistic non-answers to complex problems since 1971!**"  While no doubt there are times that this is so, sometimes simplicity is the highest level.
26160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: December 01, 2010, 08:06:58 PM
Yes, the difference being that intuitively it seems like something needs to be done about this SOB.  How do we go about that yet retain the ability to find out about nefarious deeds of our government?
26161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Happy Hanukah! on: December 01, 2010, 05:57:27 PM
May we be the Macabees of our time!
26162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: December 01, 2010, 05:55:50 PM
OK, that helps clarify things.  So, what do we do when our government is doing something secret/illegal/etc and doesn't want we the people to know about it?
26163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: December 01, 2010, 03:00:17 PM
My apologies, I confess I have not enough time to read every thing you post embarassed

Here's the WSJ's take on all this:

"Regarding the latest WikiLeaks dump of U.S. secrets ... [it] does less immediate harm than the previous leaks did to the lives of Afghans and Iraqis who have cooperated with us on the battlefield, but it certainly will damage U.S. foreign policy. In most cases, of course, the leaks merely pull back the curtain on disputes and the character of global leaders that are already widely known. That the Turkish government of the AK Party is an unreliable ally, or is chock full of Islamists, will not surprise anyone who's been paying attention. The private rage of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak against Iraqi democracy is also no shocker; a modern Pharaoh doesn't like the voter precedent. Yet in some cases the damage will be real because effective policy often requires secrecy about detail. Foreign officials will only speak candidly to U.S. emissaries if they believe their words won't be splashed all over the world's front pages. ... One lesson is that it is much harder to keep secrets in the Internet age, so our government is going to have to learn to keep fewer secrets and confine them to fewer people. It is amazing to discover that so many thousands of cables might have been accessible by Private First Class Bradley Manning, who is suspected of being the main source for the Wikileaks documents. The bureaucratic excuse is that the government was trying to encourage more cross-agency cooperation post-9/11, but why does an Army private need access to the details of a conversation between Yemen's dictator and General David Petraeus? ... If [Julian Assange] were exposing Chinese or Russian secrets, he would already have died at the hands of some unknown assailant. As a foreigner (Australian citizen) engaged in hostile acts against the U.S., Mr. Assange is certainly not protected from U.S. reprisal under the laws of war. ... For all of his self-justification as an agent of 'pure' transparency, Mr. Assange is not serving the interest of free societies. His mass, indiscriminate exposure of anything labeled secret that he can lay his hands on is a hostile act against a democracy that is fighting a war against forces bent on killing innocents. Surely, the U.S. government can do more to stop him than send a stiff letter." --The Wall Street Journal

26164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury on: December 01, 2010, 02:57:06 PM
Non-farm productivity (output per hour) rose at a 2.3% annual rate in the third quarter To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 12/1/2010

Non-farm productivity (output per hour) rose at a 2.3% annual rate in the third quarter and is up 2.5% versus last year.

Real (inflation-adjusted) compensation per hour in the non-farm sector increased at a 0.8% annual rate in Q3 and is up 0.2% versus last year. Unit labor costs declined at a 0.1% rate in Q3 and are down 1.1% versus a year ago.
In the manufacturing sector, the Q3 growth rate for productivity (0.6%) was much lower than among non-farm businesses as a whole. Output grew faster in manufacturing but the growth of hours worked was higher as well, resulting in slower growth in output per hour. Real compensation (0.1%) was softer in manufacturing but unit labor costs (1.0%) were stronger than in the non-farm business sector, a function of slower productivity growth.
Implications:  Productivity growth was revised up for Q3, exactly as the consensus expected. This is a solid rebound from its decline in Q2, which had some analysts worried. Productivity has increased in six of the last seven quarters and we believe the trend will continue. In the past year, productivity has grown at a 2.5% annual rate despite the fact that hours worked have increased in each of those quarters as well.  Even as output rebounds, technology will continue to increase efficiency, allowing workers to do more per hour.  In other news this morning, the ADP Employment index, a measure of private-sector payrolls, increased 93,000 in November, the largest gain so far in the recovery.  In the past six months, on average, the ADP index has underestimated growth in the official Labor Department measure of private payrolls by 55,000.  It has a long way to go, but the recovery in the labor market is well underway. In other recent news, the Case-Shiller index, a measure of home prices in the 20 largest metro areas around the country, declined 0.8% in September (seasonally-adjusted), the third straight monthly decline.  However, smoothing out the upswing and downswing related to the homebuyer credit, national average prices are still up 0.6% versus a year ago.  Prices are still 3.2% above the bottom in May 2009 and we do not anticipate going below that level.
26165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / RBCN on: December 01, 2010, 02:28:25 PM
Disclosure:  I have what is for me a fairly substantial position in RBCN (see my post of 11/22 fopr additional details):

Kaufman Bros initiates coverage of Rubicon/RBCN with a target of $30.

Firm believes:
1) Industry overcapacity concerns are unwarranted.
2) Nearly 60% of the float in shares are short the stock, which represents nearly 15 days to cover and could be subject to a (short) squeeze.

According to Kaufman Bros, the large short interest appears to be almost exclusively hinged on potential oversupply in LED chips, particularly for LED TVs. Firm believes this concern is largely overblown as it is already being reflected in early retail reports post-Black Friday. Even more importantly, the shorts likely miss the advent of the general lighting cycle ramp in LEDs.

26166  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Bilateralism on guitar on: December 01, 2010, 10:36:18 AM
Impressive display here of bilateralism on guitar
26167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Terror cases strain relations on: December 01, 2010, 10:23:07 AM
Its POTH, so caveat lector:

Terror Cases Strain Ties With Some Who Can Help
Published: November 30, 2010
PORTLAND, Ore. — The arrest in a plot to bomb a popular Christmas tree-lighting ceremony here has renewed focus on the crucial but often fragile relationship that many Muslim communities have with federal law enforcement agencies.

Many Muslim leaders nationwide say they are committed to working with the authorities to fight terrorist threats and applauded the work in Portland. But some say cases like the one in Oregon, in which undercover agents said they helped a teenager plan the attack, risk undermining the trust of Muslim communities that federal agents say is essential to doing their jobs.
The failed Portland plot is one of several recent cases, from California to Washington, D.C., in which undercover agents helped suspects pursue terrorist plans. Some Muslims say the government appears to be enabling and even sensationalizing threats that can lead to backlashes against Muslim communities.

On Sunday, a mosque in Corvallis, Ore., was firebombed. It had been attended by the Portland suspect, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, a naturalized American citizen from Somalia.

“Unlike the so-called plot at Pioneer Square, that was a real terrorist attack, against a house of worship,” said a man who attends the Islamic Center of Portland and Masjed As-Saber, another mosque where Mr. Mohamud worshiped.

“What the F.B.I. did can be seen in Corvallis,” the man said, one of several people who spoke with a reporter but refused to give their names out of concern that they would bring negative attention to the mosque.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. defended the Oregon investigation and others this week as part of what he called a “forward-leaning way” that law enforcement is “trying to find people who are bound and determined to harm Americans and American interests around the world.”

Hussam Ayloush, the executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said law enforcement was going too far.

“ ‘Forward-leaning’ seems to be basically if someone has not crossed the bridge, we will push them forward, we will tip them over the edge,” he said. “And that is not how a government should be treating its citizens.”

“My worry would be that the F.B.I. is pushing to a point where it becomes difficult to trust the F.B.I.,” said Mr. Ayloush, who added that he was a graduate of an F.B.I. Citizens’ Academy. “When people start doubting, then they might feel like, ‘Well, maybe it might make things worse if I call,’ and we don’t want this.”

Amid the tension, Muslim leaders say their communities are doing more than ever to help in investigations — a fact they say is overlooked by many Americans.

A November report by the Muslim Public Affairs Council said Muslim communities had helped law enforcement agencies foil almost 4 of every 10 Qaeda-related terrorism plots since the Sept. 11 attacks. The report is based on information the group draws from news media accounts, affidavits, academic studies and other sources.

“There is an enormous countertrend that has emerged within the last few years,” said Alejandro Beutel, the author of the report. “People are saying: ‘This is a serious issue, and we are dealing with this. We are not tolerating this.’ ”

Even as federal law enforcement officials have been criticized, they say their investigations have been strengthened by their outreach efforts and good relations with Muslims, including here in Oregon.

Leaders of mosques, including those attended by Mr. Mohamud, regularly attend meetings with law enforcement officials. And Mr. Mohamud’s father, Osman Barre, provided information before his son’s arrest about his increasing radicalization, officials have said.

Dwight C. Holton, the United States attorney for Oregon, said he would travel to Washington next week to meet with Mr. Holder to discuss Oregon’s participation in a new Justice Department program called Enhanced Muslim Community Outreach.

“The minute I heard about this program, I signed Oregon up,” Mr. Holton said, adding that the meeting was scheduled before Mr. Mohamud’s arrest. “It’s so important to do this outreach, and this program will allow us to do even more work, to do more face-to-face meetings with not just the community leaders but with members of the community.”

The events in Oregon have put many Muslims in unexpected and uncomfortable roles.

Shahriar Ahmed is a jovial 55-year-old engineer and a self-described member of a group of “nerdy folks” with postgraduate degrees living in suburban Portland. He is also the president of his local mosque, Bilal Masjid, with skills that he said leaned more toward fund-raising than faith-building.

“I’m not a theologian by trade,” said Mr. Ahmed, who knows only enough Arabic to get through his prayers. “I’m just good at begging for money.”

But with the arrest of Mr. Mohamud and then the fire in Corvallis, Mr. Ahmed has been fielding questions on topics ranging from Islam in general to how the aftermath could affect worshipers at his mosque. For him, the broader questions are not necessarily the most pressing.

“My 11-year-old son started crying in the back of the car,” Mr. Ahmed said, recalling a conversation about the fire. “I could not make him stop. He was saying: ‘Is our mosque going to get burned? Is our mosque going to get burned?’ ”

Colin Miner contributed reporting from Portland, Ore.; Isolde Raftery from Eugene, Ore.; and Malia Wollan from San Francisco.

26168  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: The Right to be forgotten on: December 01, 2010, 10:15:46 AM
A EU official tries to articulate a right , , ,

By John W. Miller

Senior European Union officials campaigned publicly for the first time Tuesday for an online “right to be forgotten.” Viviane Reding, EU commissioner for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, introduced the idea earlier this month. Her proposed rules, which now face 12 to 18 months of debate before they can become EU law, would force companies like Facebook to offer users the right to permanently delete photos, contact info and messages posted on websites.

She was the keynote speaker on Tuesday morning at the 2010 European Data Protection and Privacy Conference.

Welcoming “an opportunity to explain this publicly for the first time,” Mrs. Reding, rather unusually for a European politician, invoked the Almighty: “God forgives and forgets, but the web never does.”

That should change, she said. “There are great sites where you can share information with friends, but it may be one day that you don’t want to share that information any more.”

Privacy lawyers say they aren’t so sure the EU is on firm legal ground. “If you voluntarily give information to a private company, it’s pretty clear they own that information,” says a senior partner at a major U.S. law firm.

“We still need to work out the details, but I support the right to be forgotten,” said Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Article 29 Working Party, an alliance of national data supervisors. “Personally, I’ve done things, we’ve all done things we’d like to be forgotten.”

Like Mrs. Reding, he also argued the philosophical: “One of the most fundamental things in human life is to grow, to change, to be an individual, to remove the stamp that defines you.”

26169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: December 01, 2010, 10:02:30 AM
Glad to have BD with us.

"when elected judges are more likely to execute than non-elected judges, then there is no equal protection of the laws, and that IS unconstitutional."

The inference being that electing judges is to blame?  Can we not equally say that unelected judges abusing the power which is in their hands to insert their own opinions are the unconstitutional ones?

26170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: December 01, 2010, 08:57:19 AM
OK, so conspiracy can be the basis, but what then of things that we WANT revealed?  Governments often lie and coverup, and that includes ours.  Is stamping everything "secret" and prosecuting whistle blowers and their publishers the solution for The State in covering up?
26171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 30, 2010, 11:03:26 PM

Several points in there that are as excellent as they are overlooked , , , and obivous-- which did not prevent me from missing them until I read this. 
26172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: November 30, 2010, 10:54:11 PM
Yes, there are-- and IIRC the Pentagon Papers decision of the Supreme Court says that those that publish cannot be punished-- only those that violated their duty by giving them the secret material can be prosecuted.    So, question presented:  What is to be done with Assange?
26173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: November 30, 2010, 10:51:55 PM
That seems reasoned to me.
26174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Portland wannabe on: November 30, 2010, 06:06:37 PM
Worth noting is that the Portland wannabe was first brought to the FBI's attention by his father.
26175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Govt Motors on: November 30, 2010, 06:05:27 PM
Craig Coffey, a retiree in Nevada who invested $55,000 in bonds in the old GM that are now worthless, was outraged that the union is on its way to recovering all its money before investors get even a cent of compensation.

Mr. Coffey has had to make ends meet by finding odd jobs, which can be difficult in the hard-hit Las Vegas area. He said it wasn't only the union that benefited from getting full repayment to its pension trust fund under the White House bankruptcy plan.

"That was a way for the government to avoid having the liability put on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation," he said. Bankruptcy courts often discharge corporate pension obligations to the government insurance fund.




GM's union recovering after stock sale

Taxpayers and investors not as fortunate as UAW
By Patrice Hill

-The Washington Times

7:24 p.m., Thursday, November 25, 2010

General Motors Co.'s recent stock offering was staged to start paying back the government for its $50 billion bailout, but one group made out much better than the taxpayers or other investors: the company's union.

Thanks to a generous share of GM stock obtained in the company's 2009 bankruptcy settlement, the United Auto Workers is well on its way to recouping the billions of dollars GM owed it — putting it far ahead of taxpayers who have recouped only about 30 percent of their investment and further still ahead of investors in the old GM who have received nothing.

The boon for the union fits the pattern established when the White House pushed GM into bankruptcy and steered it through the courts in a way that consistently put the interests of the union ahead of many suppliers, dealers and investors — stakeholders that ordinarily would have fared as well or better under the bankruptcy laws.

"Priority one was serving the interests of the UAW" when the White House's auto task force engineered the bankruptcy, said Glenn Reynolds, an analyst at CreditSights. The stock offering served to show once again how the White House has handsomely rewarded its political allies, he said.

The union's health care and pension trust fund earned $3.4 billion through the sale of one-third of its shares in GM last week. Analysts estimate that it would break even if it sells the remaining two-thirds of its shares at an average price of $36 — close to where the stock traded shortly after the offering hit the market. GM shares closed at $33.45 on Wednesday.

For taxpayers to break even, by contrast, the stock would have to rise to at least $52 and by some estimates as high as $103 — levels that would take years to achieve.

In any event, after selling one-third of its shares last week, the U.S. Treasury has agreed not to sell any more of its GM stock for another six months, while the union fund is free to keep selling its shares.

Through the offering, the Treasury recouped $13.7 billion of its $49.5 billion cash infusion in GM, with another $1.8 billion possible by the end of the year. GM is repaying another $9.5 billion in loans from the Treasury, but that still leaves taxpayers a long way from breaking even.

Union claims ordinarily do not receive such special treatment in bankruptcies.

The generous share of GM stock given to the union trust fund under the White House deal puts it not only ahead of the Treasury but on a par with secured creditors such as banks, which normally receive the most favorable treatment from bankruptcy courts.

Perhaps the biggest losers are the investors in the old GM. None of the bankrupt company's previous stockholders got any money, while the claims of thousands of investors who purchased the company's bonds are still being kicked around in a Manhattan bankruptcy court.

"It gives outraged flashbacks to the old GM bondholders," who remain mired in the bankruptcy proceedings and are unlikely to recover more than 30 percent of their investments, Mr. Reynolds said.

He compared the deal to the corrupt crony capitalism in Russia under President Vladimir Putin.

The White House "took a page out of the Putin political asset reallocation and reward system" when it engineered the deal, he said.

Mr. Reynolds also described the White House deal as a combination of "Boss Tweed on steroids" and "Hugo Chavez on meds," as far as the bondholders are concerned.

Craig Coffey, a retiree in Nevada who invested $55,000 in bonds in the old GM that are now worthless, was outraged that the union is on its way to recovering all its money before investors get even a cent of compensation.

"We just sat and watched [the stock offering]. We got nothing," he said. "Screwed again."

Mr. Coffey has had to make ends meet by finding odd jobs, which can be difficult in the hard-hit Las Vegas area. He said it wasn't only the union that benefited from getting full repayment to its pension trust fund under the White House bankruptcy plan.

"That was a way for the government to avoid having the liability put on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation," he said. Bankruptcy courts often discharge corporate pension obligations to the government insurance fund.

"They dodged a bullet there and pushed it back to the union," Mr. Coffey said. "Now, they've made them whole and screwed the bondholders."

Steve Rattner, the White House auto czar who engineered the deal, repeated the position he took throughout the bankruptcy — that the bondholders would have ended up with nothing if the government hadn't intervened.

"I think everybody was treated fairly," he told Bloomberg News last week. "If we had not saved General Motors, those bonds would be worth exactly zero."

UAW President Bob King celebrated the success of the stock offering last week. "We know that for the long-term viability and success of our membership, General Motors has to be successful," he said.

He hinted that the union in the next round of collective bargaining that begins next summer may seek to recoup still more of the concessions it made in bankruptcy, given GM's growing profitability.

"The best outcome is a successful GM that then shares fairly with our membership," he said.

John Paul McDuffie, a professor at the Wharton School of Business, said the full funding of the union's pension and health care trust fund through the bankruptcy process represents progress because it helped solve one of most "persistent and difficult" bones of contention between GM and its union.

GM and the UAW had been at loggerheads for years over how to deal with GM's so-called "legacy" costs — funding the generous worker health care and retirement benefits it promised in earlier eras.

The bankruptcy settlement enabled GM to proceed with a hard-won 2007 plan it negotiated with the union to spin off those huge liabilities and let them be funded in the future by the trust fund that received the stock.

Mr. McDuffie said the bankruptcy also proved useful in forcing the company to learn to survive in turbulent times.

© Copyright 2010 The Washington Times, LLC

26176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wikileaks on: November 30, 2010, 03:12:35 PM
This piece faces questions that must be asked.

Whether it addresses the matter of the law of unintended consequences is another matter. 
26177  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Health and Healing on: November 30, 2010, 08:42:49 AM
NY Times on Accupuncture

Published: November 29, 2010
Stretched out on a massage table in his Long Island City condominium, Jets fullback Tony Richardson closed his eyes. Over the next hour, he groaned and grimaced and eventually fell asleep, as Lisa Ripi, the traveling N.F.L. acupuncturist, went to work.

Lisa Ripi, working with the Jets’ Tony Richardson, is gone 20 days each month, working abut 96 hours a week as the N.F.L.’s traveling acupuncturist.
The Jets’ Tony Richardson finds acupuncture uncomfortable but said it made an immediate 10 percent difference.
Ripi poked and prodded Richardson on a recent Tuesday, using blue and pink needles, until his body resembled a road map marked with 120 destinations. “SportsCenter” provided mood music. Afterward, Richardson said his soreness had mostly vanished.

“They always tell me I’m their little secret,” Ripi said. “I feel like the little mouse who takes the thorns out of their feet.”

Professional football players partake in a violent game, and as the season progresses, they spend more time in training rooms than on practice fields. They visit chiropractors and massage therapists, practice yoga, undergo electronic stimulation and nap in hyperbaric chambers.

Yet relatively few receive acupuncture, which brings smiles to the faces of Ripi’s clients. They remain fiercely territorial. They fight over Fridays because it is closest to their games. They accuse one another of hogging, or trying to steal her.

All swear by Ripi’s technique, which she described as closer to Japanese-style acupuncture than to traditional Chinese methods. She focuses less on established points and more on sore areas, using needles to increase blood flow, relaxing muscles tightened in the weight room.

Players say her sessions are their most important treatment. They feel more loose, more flexible. Richardson finds acupuncture uncomfortable but said it made an immediate 10 percent difference. For sculptured bodies tuned like racecars, 10 percent constitutes a significant improvement.

As Pittsburgh linebacker James Farrior said: “I’m not the same if I don’t have it. It’s like getting the game plan. You can’t go into the week without either one.”

Ripi, 46, travels at least 20 days each month during the season, treating 40 players on five teams (the Ripi Division: Jets, Giants, Steelers, Bengals and Dolphins). She flies to Miami on Sunday, Pittsburgh on Monday, New York on Tuesday, Cincinnati on Wednesday, back to Pittsburgh on Thursday and back to New York on Friday. She works 96 hours a week and naps mostly on airplanes. By Friday, even her assistant sends “hate texts,” Ripi said.

In 13 years of working with N.F.L. players, Ripi said proudly, she never missed an appointment. She did miss dozens of holidays, did have three marriages end in divorce, did make abundantly clear her first priority.

“Think of the impact she has every Sunday,” Richardson said. “And it’s funny, because she’s not really a football fan, or really recognized. But we know her importance.”

Raised in a traditional Italian family on Long Island, Ripi lived in a healthy household, at the directive of her father, John: no white bread, no soda and an abundance of vitamins.

Ripi took a winding path into acupuncture: art school, aerobics instruction, massage therapy and body building, in which she qualified for several national competitions. Despite standing 5 feet 3 inches, she squatted and dead-lifted 250 pounds.

In 1996, a friend suggested that acupuncture would alleviate Ripi’s shoulder pain, and after two sessions, it disappeared. So Ripi went to school for acupuncture and Chinese pharmacology and finished the five-year program in four years.

Soon after, while visiting another friend in Costa Rica, Ripi met the actor Woody Harrelson, who asked for treatment “posthaste,” she said. She slipped a business card into Harrelson’s luggage, which led to two years of traveling with and treating him, and to other celebrity clients like the singer Mariah Carey.

Back in New York in March 1998, Ripi was referred to Jumbo Elliott, an injured offensive tackle for the Jets. She knew nothing about football and assumed Elliott was a body builder until she saw his Jets memorabilia. He later offered to take her to training camp and introduce her to his teammates.

She met her core group of clients that summer in Hempstead, N.Y., and as the players switched teams — Farrior to Pittsburgh and Chad Pennington to Miami — her business and travel expanded.

Players require individualized treatment. Steelers linebacker James Harrison takes more than 300 needles, and Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora begs for fewer than 40. Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis hates needles and grips the table as if under attack.

Ripi views the players more as brothers than clients. She saw the world with Cincinnati linebacker Dhani Jones for his Travel Channel show. She stores tables at the players’ houses; travels to training camps, Super Bowls and Pro Bowls; works every Christmas and Thanksgiving. Ripi’s services are not cheap. She charges $220 for one treatment or $1,200 each day, and expenses.

She spends roughly 12 hours each Thursday treating at least 10 players at Farrior’s house, where the Steelers hold their men’s “spa night” featuring acupuncture. Ripi cooks dinner for them, and they play cards while they wait turns. She starts with nose tackle Casey Hampton at 3:30 p.m. and finishes with Harrison roughly 12 hours later.

Ripi can tell the position each plays simply on the location of the pain: wide receiver (legs, shoulders), offensive lineman (elbows, back), quarterback (throwing shoulder), defensive lineman (back), running back (hamstring).

On Sundays, she sometimes watches football. But Ripi’s clients often face one another, prompting conflicting emotions, especially when a defensive client mauls an offensive client, and she ponders how she will treat the resulting pain.

Depending on their tolerance (or honesty), players described acupuncture as painful, slightly painful or not painful; as a pinch or a burning sensation. They said the groin and the back of the knee hurt the most. Jets offensive tackle Damien Woody said, “She’s kind of lethal with it.”

Ripi performs a combination of massage with acupuncture to relax players and find sore spots and trigger points. She does use established points, too, to increase the flow of what she called stuck blood. This season, Revis went to Ripi for his injured hamstring, and she stuck one needle atop his head.

“She might hit a nerve, and you might get a zap,” Jones said. “Or she’ll put one in your groin, and pain might shoot into the big toe.”

Recently, Deadspin reported that Ripi oversaw the Jets’ massage therapist program when two therapists were sent inappropriate text messages from the former quarterback Brett Favre. The Web site said Ripi urged the therapists to remain silent. Ripi declined to comment on the report, but she is considering hiring a lawyer. (She does not oversee the massage program.)

Her clients wonder why most teams ignore less traditional methods like acupuncture, with all that they invest in healing players’ battered bodies. Farrior, wearing his team president hat, said he would require it.

Ripi says that more teams and athletes across all sports will eventually turn to acupuncture. Her clients do not seem so sure. Some teams do not even have massage therapists or nutritionists on staff, Jones said. But Ripi has faith because she still treats retired players, because even front-office types like Bill Parcells tried her table, because, she insisted, acupuncture works.

John Ripi described his daughter as softhearted and giving, and over the years, he learned to accept her absence at family gatherings. He came to understand how all the dots connected, from Harrelson in the jungle, to Thursday nights at Farrior’s house, to a life spent healing football players without fanfare.

“I take what I do seriously,” Ripi said. “It’s a euphoric, spontaneous feeling. They come first. Before anything. Before me.”

With that, Ripi went home to pack. The traveling N.F.L. acupuncturist had a flight to catch.
26178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gore- ethanol a mistake on: November 30, 2010, 08:22:06 AM

In Greece earlier this month, Al Gore made a startling admission: "First-generation ethanol, I think, was a mistake." Unfortunately, Americans have Gore to thank for ethanol subsidies. In 1994, then-Vice President Gore ended a 50-50 tie in the Senate by voting in favor of an ethanol tax credit that added almost $5 billion to the federal deficit last year. And that number doesn't factor the many ways in which corn-based ethanol mandates drive up the price of food and livestock feed.

Sure, he meant well, but as Reuters reported, Gore also said, "One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president."

In sum, Gore demonstrated that politicians are lousy at figuring out which alternative fuels make the most sense. Now even enviros like Friends of the Earth have come to believe that "large-scale agro-fuels" are "ecologically unsustainable and inefficient." That's a polite way of saying that producers need to burn through a boatload of fossil fuels to make ethanol.

Gore also showed that most D.C. politicians can't be trusted to put America's interests before those of Iowa farmers. But there is one pursuit in which homo electus excels: spending other people's money.

Beware politicians when they promise you "the jobs of the future." Last week, the Washington Post ran a story about a federal grant program in Florida designed to retrain the unemployed for jobs in the growing clean-energy sector. Except clean tech isn't growing as promised. Officials told the Post that three-quarters of their first 100 graduates haven't had a single job offer.

In May, President Obama came to a Fremont, Calif., solar plant where he announced, "The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra." This month, Solyndra announced it was canceling its expansion plans. The announcement came after voters rewarded the green lobby by defeating Proposition 23 -- which would have postponed California's landmark greenhouse gas reduction law AB32 -- because voters bought the green-jobs promise.

Back to Gore. There is a movement in Washington to end Gore's mistake. Republican Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina have proposed ending the 45-cent-per-gallon subsidy on corn ethanol, which is set to expire on Dec. 31 unless Congress extends it.

As DeMint explained in an e-mail to the Washington Post's Greg Sargent, "Government mandates and tax subsidies for ethanol have led to decreased gas mileage, adversely effected the environment and increased food prices. Washington must stop picking winners and losers in the market, and instead allow Americans to make choices for themselves."

That's what free-market types who oppose corporate welfare -- like me -- have been saying for years.

So the question is: Will this new batch of Republicans have the intestinal fortitude to buck the farm lobby and agribusiness by weaning them from the public teat? Or are they no better than the farm-lobby-pandering Al Gore?
26179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: November 30, 2010, 08:01:07 AM
Apparently amongst the Wili-leak revelations is that China was transhipping Nork nuke and missile tech to Iran.

What conclusions should be drawn from this for US foreign policy and what specific actions should be taken?
26180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 29, 2010, 05:29:43 PM
The last sentence there is a point worth noting.
26181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: It is a self-sustaining recovery on: November 29, 2010, 11:54:14 AM
This is a very different take than much of what is posted around here, but Brian Wesbury is a superb supply side economist with an outstanding record with his predictions.

It's a Self-Sustaining Recovery
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 11/29/2010

In the four months between June and October, retail sales surged 10.2% at an annual rate and are up 7.3% over the past 12 months. Still, consumers get no respect from the majority of analysts and economists, who during the summer and early fall, could not stop talking about a double dip recession.

But instead of going wobbly, consumers seem to be standing strong. ComScore says online sales versus last year were up 28% on Thanksgiving Day, 9% on Black Friday, and 13% so far in November. Coremetrics, another online data gatherer, reports sales from Thanksgiving Day thru Saturday are up 14%. The National Retail Federation (NRF) reported 8.7% more people visited stores this year versus last year and the average shopper spent 6.4% more than a year ago.
The only report that was “remotely negative” came from ShopperTrak (and its network of 70,000 US malls) – sales were up 0.3% versus a year ago. However, the ShopperTrak data have a weakness - free-standing big box stores are not classified as malls. Clearly, this could lead to underestimating sales.
Meanwhile, more data is coming this week. Car and light truck sales probably totaled more than 12-million at an annual rate for the second month in a row – the fastest pace since September 2008, except for during “cash-for clunkers.”
This is not just “pent-up demand.” Nor is it a “new normal.” The surge in consumer spending has its roots in improving fundamentals. Private sector wages and salaries are up 4% in the past year and small business income is up 5.8%. Productivity is boosting incomes for workers and companies.
In addition, the jobs picture is steadily getting brighter, with private sector payrolls up an average of 106,000 per month over the past six months. At 407,000, initial jobless claims have fallen to their lowest level in years, which points to continued improvement in payroll growth.
Meanwhile, consumers are still paying down debts, but they are doing it more slowly, leaving more money to spend than a year ago. And the share of after-tax earnings that households need to service their debts and make other recurring payments (rent, car leases, property taxes, etc.) has fallen below its long-run average and will soon be back to 1995 levels.
As we have said over-and-over again, things are far from perfect. Unemployment is still too high, government growth is creating uncertainty, the financial situation in Europe seems precarious, and fear seems to be an investment strategy. Nonetheless, a self-sustaining recovery is underway.
The Fed is easy, productivity is strong, the “panic” is over, and government policy (in the US and abroad) has taken a turn for the better. As a result, economic growth will surprise to the upside. As this strength becomes more self evident, confidence in equity markets will grow. Look out above.
26182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Emperor's Nuclear Clothes on: November 29, 2010, 10:56:55 AM
Enough is enough. Every day, the events of the real world reveal that the American foreign policy establishment is wearing nothing but the emperor's new clothes—policies that make proper people murmur "how Nobel-worthy" while looking around to see if anyone else notices something odd.

Respectable wise men, in and out of government, talk of the importance of arms control and a nuclear-free world, when the reality is that Iran, North Korea and other countries have made the acquisition of nuclear weapons their highest priority. The government of Russia has committed itself to a military posture in which tactical nuclear weapons play a larger role in war fighting and war termination.

The bitter truth is that a world with fewer nuclear weapons really is in the interest of the United States. That is why it won't happen: Too many countries believe that a nuclear-free world will leave the conventional military superiority of the U.S. unchallengeable.

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David Gothard
 .The wise men call on China to help us restrain the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran, while the Chinese official press praises North Korea for its toughness after its artillery attacks. American officials piously intone that we will not reward bad behavior. They point to the deployment of carrier forces that everyone knows are determined not to fire one round in anger. Meanwhile, the U.S. government prepares the ground for new rounds of talks in which rewards for North Korea will be carefully discussed.

The relative decline and overextension of American military power makes the prospect of using military power against U.S. allies increasingly a matter of "It just might work," rather than "Don't even think about it." American allies must, as reasonable men and women, consider whether to strike out on their own, either by increasing their own military power or by seeking accommodations with those who oppose the U.S.

So what is to be done? We have no good options, we are told, with the subtext being "Get used to North Korean and Iranian nuclear weapons." But we do have options.

In the near term, we must allow our allies to acquire the weapons they need for their own defense. The U.S. government should reverse its decision not to sell F-22s to Japan. It should aid the expansion of the Japanese submarine force by transferring relevant military technologies, and it also should encourage Japanese production of anti-missile interceptors for foreign sale.

If we deploy American military power, we must do it like we mean it. If North Korea and Iran want nuclear weapons, and China does nothing to stop them, we can reintroduce tactical nuclear weapons onto American aircraft carriers and attack submarines in the Pacific. We should put on round-the-clock shifts the production lines of weapons that would be needed in the event of war with Iran or North Korea (such as the long-range version of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile).

The U.S. can also ask the United Nations for a resolution authorizing air strikes against North Korea in the event of any future attack on the people or territory of South Korea or Japan. China will then stand up and be counted on one side or the other.

Such measures would provide some immediate reassurance to our allies that we will fight if we must, if they are attacked again. Of course, they won't make the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs go away. To deal with those, we must have a longer-term program.

The U.S. will need offensive as well as defensive forces that can thwart foreign aggression, even though aggressors have nuclear weapons. This is neither impossible nor paradoxical. Countries have defeated the U.S. since we developed nuclear weapons. Israel has been attacked repeatedly even though it has had nuclear weapons since 1967. What is very hard, and may be impossible, is to get other countries to allow the U.S. military to use bases on their territory when their enemies have nuclear weapons and they do not.

Over the next 10 years, the U.S. needs to increase its ability to conduct non-nuclear war from undersea, from ships out of range of missile attack, and from bases on American soil by means of long-range missiles and aircraft, manned or unmanned. The U.S. must be able to use cyber warfare and other unconventional means, and to defend itself from retaliatory attacks in kind. The U.S. military must also be prepared to operate in an environment in which other countries have used nuclear weapons. This means having not only missile defenses, but also protection against the electromagnetic pulses generated by nuclear weapons, which can paralyze modern electronics.

This will not be cheap, but it will be less expensive if we help our democratic allies arm themselves—by transferring technologies to them, by working with them, and by encouraging them to help each other.

This isn't a recipe for World War III with China or anybody else. It is a realistic response to a world in which countries are developing nuclear weapons not to fight other countries but to coerce them. Our goal should be a world in which countries can live peacefully without fear of being coerced militarily. It is an old-school response that doesn't seek war, but that also doesn't aspire to utopian goals.

Mr. Rosen is professor of national security and military affairs at Harvard.

26183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Reagan on: November 29, 2010, 10:51:44 AM
"We warned of things to come, of the danger inherent in unwarranted government involvement in things not its proper province. What we warned against has come to pass. And today more than two-thirds of our citizens are telling us, and each other, that social engineering by the federal government has failed. The Great Society is great only in power, in size and in cost. And so are the problems it set out to solve. Freedom has been diminished and we stand on the brink of economic ruin. Our task now is not to sell a philosophy, but to make the majority of Americans, who already share that philosophy, see that modern conservatism offers them a political home. We are not a cult, we are members of a majority. Let's act and talk like it. The job is ours and the job must be done. If not by us, who? If not now, when?" --Ronald Reagan

26184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Nigel Farage on: November 28, 2010, 06:48:29 PM
Euro Parliament rants

And from last year
26185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: November 28, 2010, 03:16:38 PM
Thank you.  Delighted to hear it, but , , , how on earth is that new?
26186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: November 28, 2010, 11:00:10 AM
Our man no longer in Iraq comments:
Once one sees how wild many Iraqis drive, in situations where not driving wildly would be the self-survival oriented thing to do, this becomes no surprise:

26187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rarick on: November 28, 2010, 10:59:33 AM
Woof Rarick:

There is a glitch on the PMs of the forum that prevents me from answering your PM.  Would you please email me at

thank you,
26188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: November 28, 2010, 10:45:52 AM

I am not as in touch with legal issues as I once was.  Would you please flesh out the term "New Judicial Federalism" for me please?

26189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Robots on: November 28, 2010, 10:38:20 AM
26190  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Video Clips de interes on: November 27, 2010, 11:43:34 AM
Espera lo inesperado:
26191  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Capoeria MMA KTFO on: November 27, 2010, 11:41:49 AM
26192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Major busts in SA on: November 27, 2010, 10:59:05 AM
I can't find it on the LA Times's website, but in my paper this morning there was an article about well over 100 arrests of AQ folks in Saudi Arabia.
26193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: Arbitration on: November 27, 2010, 10:51:42 AM
Even though it is POTH, this editorial sounds reasonable to me.

Unexpected wireless charges are a chronic affliction of life on the grid. The industry triggers more complaints from consumers than any other. AT&T Mobility, by consumer rankings, is the worst. Its performance in a case the Supreme Court heard recently has done nothing to improve that reputation.

This is the latest in the arbitration war — a battle over whether the United States will increasingly have a privatized system of justice that bars people from enforcing rights in court and, if so, what will be considered fair in that system. It would be grossly unfair for the court to let the corporation get away with what it wants to in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion — a case that involves a small amount of money and a huge principle.

When Vincent and Liza Concepcion signed up for AT&T cellphone service, they received two new phones in exchange for making a two-year agreement. To their consternation, AT&T charged them $30.22 in sales tax for the phones. The Concepcions sued the company for fraud in Federal District Court and their case and another were consolidated as a class action.

Because of an arbitration clause in its customer agreement, AT&T insisted that the Concepcions had to submit their claim to individual arbitration. The federal district judge said no. The judge ruled that the agreement is “unconscionable” under California law — imposed by the company harshly, coerced and not consented to. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit forcefully upheld the decision.

The issue before the Supreme Court is the Federal Arbitration Act, which recognizes some kinds of arbitration agreements as enforceable obligations — and whether that pre-empts the California law. The court must decide if the state law applies only to arbitration agreements, and not contracts generally, or if it hinders Congressional desire to treat arbitration agreements and other contracts similarly and promote speedy resolution of claims.

California says that its law does neither and the appellate court agrees. AT&T contends that California law isn’t what the state says it is. AT&T is asking the Supreme Court to intrude on California’s sovereignty and second-guess interpretation of state law by state courts.

During the recent argument in the Supreme Court, Justice Elena Kagan asked AT&T’s lawyer, “Now, who are we to say that the state is wrong about that?” Justice Antonin Scalia asked a similar question: “Are we going to tell the State of California what it has to consider unconscionable?” When the lawyer answered yes, Justice Stephen Breyer said rhetorically: “Why, why, why?”

The lawyer’s best shot at victory was to portray California law as extreme. Unfortunately for him, courts applying law of at least 19 other states have reached the same conclusion as California, including five federal appeals courts. Under California law, an agreement isn’t enforceable if it requires a customer to submit to individual arbitration that can’t be effective. It can’t be effective, as in this case, if the payoff is so paltry that it takes away incentive to challenge fraud or deception. AT&T’s arbitration agreement supposedly assures customers “a minimum recovery of $7,500, plus double attorneys’ fees, if the arbitrator awards them more than” an offer from AT&T. Translated: AT&T can pay the claim’s value — here, $30.22 — before an arbitrator is picked.

The Ninth Circuit said this “artifice” has “the practical effect of rendering” AT&T “immune from individual claims.” AT&T’s arbitration clause is unconscionable. The Supreme Court should say so.

26194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Russia on: November 27, 2010, 10:46:32 AM
MOSCOW — A well-known television personality on Thursday used the occasion of an awards ceremony to deliver a blistering critique of Russian television, saying its journalists had bent so completely to the will of the government that they were “not journalists at all but bureaucrats, following the logic of service and submission.”

Leonid G. Parfyonov’s speech was especially remarkable because of its venue: an elegant dinner organized by Channel One, Russia’s leading channel, to honor the memory of a television host who was gunned down in 1995. Looking out at a glittering crowd that included many of the most powerful figures in the Russian media, Mr. Parfyonov said they had taken on the docile posture of the Soviet-era Central Television.

On federal channels, he said, one cannot hear “critical, skeptical or ironic discussions” of either President Dmitri A. Medvedev or Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin.

“The highest authorities are beginning to look like the dear departed, of whom one says good things or nothing at all,” said Mr. Parfyonov, who was visibly nervous as he accepted his award. “This, despite the fact that the audience is obviously demanding different opinions; what a furor arose around that single exception, the televised dialogue between Yuri Shevchuk and Vladimir Putin.”

Mr. Shevchuk, a Russian rock star, exchanged views with Mr. Putin at a dinner for the Russian cultural elite, capitalizing on the occasion to lecture the increasingly irritated prime minister on press freedom, government corruption and police abuse, among other things.

Mr. Parfyonov was accepting the first annual Vladislav Listyev television award, which comes with a prize of one million rubles, or about $32,000. Video of the speech, which could be found on Channel One’s Web site, was viewed many thousands of times on Friday, particularly in media circles. A prominent blogger, Rustam Adagamov, called it “an epitaph for modern Russian television.”

Mr. Parfyonov sketched out the recent history of Russian broadcasting, starting with Mr. Putin’s ousting of media moguls whose channels were critical of the government and the demand for national unity that came in the wake of terrorist attacks. Journalists in Russia saw their work shearing into two categories: suitable for television, or not suitable for television. While newspaper reporters can still occasionally confront Mr. Putin with uncomfortable questions, television newscasters “guess the authorities’ goals and aims, their moods, their friends and enemies,” when tackling delicate subjects, he said.

“I have no right to blame any one of my colleagues, since I am not a fighter and I do not expect heroic deeds from others, but it is necessary to call things by their names,” he said. As media independence drains away, Russians are increasingly contemptuous of journalism in general and shrug their shoulders when journalists are beaten for their work, he said.

“People do not understand that journalists take risks because of their audience,” he said. “They do not attack journalists because they wrote something, or said something, or filmed something, but because people read it, or heard it, or saw it.”

Vladimir V. Pozner, a veteran television host who was serving as the event’s master of ceremonies, said the speech was startling precisely because Mr. Parfyonov is a cautious man who “has always been part of the corporate structure.”

“It’s not as much criticism of television as criticism of what the government has done to television,” Mr. Pozner said. “Everyone knows that’s the way things stand. Ever since Putin came in, the big channels have been tightly controlled, and everyone knows what you can say or not say.” But, he added, they do not say so in public.

“It’s a little bit like our friend Hans Christian Andersen, and the little boy who said, ‘But the king is naked!’ ” he said.

26195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Doug Casey on Hopium on: November 26, 2010, 08:58:33 PM
The most recent Doug Casey has this pithy summary of problems not being dealt with:

"Among those issues are historic levels of debt, the long-lasting consequences of a deflating housing bubble, trillions of dollars of toxic paper on the balance sheets of banks and governments here and abroad, unsupportable trade deficits, unpayable entitlements, artificially low interest rates and the likelihood of a self-feeding interest rate death spiral, the high costs of implementing universal health care and the other large programs passed in the last two years, a negative demographic trend, persistent unemployment, and, of course, the escalating race to the bottom for the fiat currencies that is increasingly seen as the only way out for desperate governments around the globe."

Other than that, we are fine.
26196  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / LA Times: Olga Kotelko-2 on: November 26, 2010, 02:30:24 PM
The conundrum for masters athletes — though it seems Kotelko’s great fortune to have largely escaped the phenomenon — is this: Big physiological benefits from exercise are there for the taking. You just have to keep exercising. But you can’t exercise if the body breaks down. To avoid injuries, aging track athletes are often advised to keep to their old routines but to lower the intensity. The best advertisement for that strategy was a race turned in five years ago by a 73-year-old from Ontario. Age-graded, Ed Whitlock’s 2:54 marathon (the equivalent of a 20-year-old running 2:03.57) was the fastest ever run. When people collared him afterward to find out his training secret, they learned that he ran every day, slowly, for hours, around the local cemetery.

Kotelko herself speaks often of the perils of getting carried away. “If you undertrain, you might not finish,” she says. “If you overtrain, you might not start.” But there’s some evidence that, in trying to find the sweet spot between staying in race shape and avoiding the medical tent, a lot of seniors athletes aren’t training hard enough — or at least, aren’t training the right way to maximally exploit what their body can still do.

Recently, Scott Trappe, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., published a study on weightlessness and exercise in The Journal of Applied Physiology. Using M.R.I. and biopsy data from NASA, he looked at the exercise program of nine astronauts from the International Space Station. In many ways, an astronaut in zero gravity is undergoing an experiment in accelerated aging — muscles atrophy, bone-density declines. That’s what these astronauts were finding too, even though they were using a treadmill, a stationary bike and a resistance machine.

Trappe concluded the regime wasn’t nearly hard-core enough. His prescription for NASA: heavier loads and explosive movements. “It’s pretty clear that intensity wins up there,” he says. “And I would predict this to be the case as we age. Part of the challenge is the mind-set or dogma that we need to slow down as we get older.” For example, the belief that aging joints and tendons can’t take real weight-training is dead wrong; real weight-training is what might just save them. Seniors can work out less frequently, Trappe reckons, as long as they really bring it when they do.

Kotelko used to train like that — spurred on by her severe Hungarian coach. Strangely though, since easing off the throttle the last few years, she’s getting some of the best results of her life. It’s hard to know what to conclude from that, except perhaps that the gene-shifting theory is true, and Kotelko is still enjoying the compound interest from that earlier sweat equity. “What I do now seems adequate,” she reasons. “It must be. I keep getting world records.”

THE DAY AFTER the treadmill test, Kotelko was ushered into the free-weight gym at McGill University. She lay down at the bench press. Taivassalo was interested in the composition of Kotelko’s muscle fibers. We all have Type 1 muscle (slow-twitch, for endurance) and a couple of varieties of Type 2 (fast-twitch, used for power). Most people are born with roughly half of Type 1 and half of Type 2. Around age 70, fast-twitch muscle begins to stop responding, followed by the decline of slow-twitch a decade later. Power drains away. Trappe calls this the “fast-twitch-fiber problem.” It helps explain the frustration that aging sprinters feel when their times drop off despite their dogged efforts. And no matter how high-tech their exercise program, how strong their will, how good their genes, nobody escapes. Often, the drop-off happens too gradually to notice. But sometimes little moments of perspective pop up.

In Kamloops, Kotelko jumped 5.5 feet to trump her own indoor long-jump world record. Afterward, the sexagenarian pentathletes took to the pit. Among them was Philippa (Phil) Raschker, a 63-year-old from Marietta, Ga., legendary on the masters track circuit. Raschker holds, or has held, more than 200 national and world records — sprints, jumps, hurdles. She was competing in nine events in Kamloops. (This despite being pretty much exhausted from working late into the night filing clients’ taxes for days on end. She’s an accountant; it was March.) When I first saw her high jumping, from a distance, I thought she could have been 25. You could see, below her stretch top, the six-pack. But it wasn’t how Raschker looked that arrested; it was the way she moved. Raschker Fosbury-flopped over the bar like water pouring from a jug. The flop allows you to jump higher than other methods do because your center of gravity never actually clears the bar. But the severe back arch demands a suppleness that’s alien to the aging body, which is why pretty much no one over 65 does it. Kotelko was already too old to flop when she took up track at age 77. Instead, she sort of bestrides the bar. Her world record of 2.7 feet is just a little higher than the superfoamy mat. Overall, Kotelko’s high jump gives the impression of someone taking a run at a hotel-room bed.


Page 5 of 6)

The difference between the world’s greatest 60-year-old and the world’s greatest 90-year-old was clear. On view was the march of “sarcopenia” — the loss of muscle, the theft of that once-explosive power that makes the very old seem subject to a different set of physical laws.

It is irresistible to think of Olga Kotelko and Phil Raschker as twins separated by time. Except that Raschker has the potential advantage of a much earlier head start on the track. Given all that extra compounding interest, might she in 30 years become a kind of super-Olga?

“Hard to say,” Hepple says. “She’s obviously at a point that precedes many of the big changes that usually happen. And we don’t know how resistant she is — and that resistance is something we do think sets Olga apart.” Those extra decades of pounding might break Raschker down or burn her out.

Motivation may ultimately be the issue. Finding reasons to keep exercising is a universal challenge. Even rats seem to bristle, eventually, at voluntary exercise, studies suggest. Young rats seem intrinsically driven to run on the wheels you put in their cages. But one day those wheels just stop turning. The aging athlete must manufacture strategies to keep pushing in the face of plenty of perfectly rational reasons not to: things hurt, you’ve achieved a lot of your goals and the friends you used to do it for and with are disappearing.

But competition can spur people on. “Maintaining your own records in the face of your supposed decline, providing evidence that you’re delaying the effects of aging — these are strong motives,” says Bradley Young, a kinesiology and sports psychology professor at the University of Ottawa. Young studies the factors that make track athletes want to continue competing into old age. A big one is training partners and family — both the encouragement they offer, and the guilt you’d feel letting them down if you quit. But the strongest motivating driver, Young found, was one’s spouse.

In this way, too, Kotelko is unique. She has no husband, and though she does have some family — her daughter Lynda and son-in-law Richard, with whom she lives in Vancouver — they are not involved in her training.

IN ONE OF HER last duties to science on the Montreal trip, Kotelko lay serenely, under local anesthetic, on an examining table in the storied Montreal Neurological Institute, where Wilder Penfield mapped the human brain. “Contract your thigh muscle, please,” Dr. José Morais said. The muscle shrugged up visibly when she tensed. The doctor began to draw out a little plug of tissue with a gleaming silver instrument that looked a bit like a wine corker. The sample would be frozen, and the fibers would later be examined.

Muscle is a decent barometer for the general health of a body. It contains what Hepple calls biomarkers of aging — changes over time in its structure, biochemistry, protein expression. These mark the body’s decreasing ability to withstand the stresses it encounters — “some from outside us, like infections, and some from inside us,” like the cellular trash that builds up through normal body functions like breathing and metabolism. “In essence, they tell us how well Olga has handled the very things that cause most of us to age and die at or around age 80.”

Hepple, in Kotelko’s tissue sample, would be looking for the little angular muscle fibers that typically stop working as people age because they have come unplugged from the motor neurons, nerve cells that tell them to fire. Many researchers assume the problem is within the muscle cells. Hepple disagrees. He says those neighboring motor neurons aren’t activating the muscle as they should, and he speculated that more of Kotelko’s would be functioning properly.

Ideally, these two scientists would like to run a sample through genetic testing. Perhaps there are clues in Kotelko’s genome that will help explain the thing that is so singular about her — not speed or power or prowess in any one event, but the resilience to endure all the stress of hard physical activity, year after year, without a hint of breakdown, and no end to the pattern in sight. “There could be a lot we find out in that biopsy,” Taivassalo said, “that tells us what to ask next.” Taivassalo intends to put together a larger sample size, at least 20 or 30 subjects, all old athletes. At that point the information starts becoming statistically significant, and patterns emerge. If the prospect of 30 more nominal Olgas spraying data points into unmapped space is enough to set the hearts of gerontologists aflutter, to Kotelko, the idea that there may be, somewhere, even one more older track star — a genuine rival — is tantalizing. She yearns, she insists, with semiplausible conviction, to be pushed. There’d be no talk of low-hanging fruit and meaningless medals if there were someone she could race close and beat in real time. “I’d love that,” she told me more than once.


Page 6 of 6)

She may get her wish. Mitsu Morita, an 88-year-old from Japan, is faster than Kotelko was at that age and is breaking all of Kotelko’s records in that age bracket. A Nike ad featuring Morita made her a minor phenomenon in Japan; there are clips of her orbiting the track, followed by laughing teenagers trying to keep up. In the 200, Morita’s world-record time is almost 10 seconds faster than Kotelko’s time in the 90-to-95 category. She claims she gets her strength from eating eel.

Morita is not a big traveler. If she can be persuaded to come to America for the world outdoor championships in Sacramento next summer, Kotelko will have her hands full.

In October, the first of Kotelko’s muscle samples came back from the lab. The results were compelling. In a muscle sample of a person over the age of 65, you would expect to see at least a couple of fibers with some mitochondrial defects. But in around 400 muscle fibers examined, Taivassalo said, “we didn’t see a single fiber that had any evidence” of mitochondrial decay. “It’s remarkable,” she added.

As the data on Kotelko gather, it’s hard to avoid a conclusion. “Olga has done no more training than many athletes, and yet she’s the one still standing,” Hepple says. “Why? In my mind, it has everything to do with her innate physiological profile.”

This sounds like discouraging news: she is not like us. But understanding Kotelko’s uniqueness may provide benefits for others. We could learn a lot about why, for example, nerve cells die by studying someone in whom, for whatever reason, they seem to live on. And that, Taivassalo explains, may have implications for neuromuscular diseases like ALS — for which no current therapies have a meaningful impact. Drugs might be developed to, for example, somehow dial up the signals at that junction where the neurons are supposed to be telling muscles to move. Small molecular agents could target specific problem areas in aging muscles to make them more resilient. “At this stage it’s all speculation,” Hepple says. “But that’s the direction we’re moving. Because all the usual things don’t seem to apply.”

Presumably, at least some of the interventions that emerge will help mimic, for ordinary people entering their very old years, if not exactly Kotelko’s performance on the track, at least something approaching the quality of her life.

This is the other story of the future of aging. When the efforts of medical science converge to simply prolong existence, you envision Updike’s golfer Farrell, poking his way “down the sloping dogleg of decrepitude.” But scientists like Taivassalo and Hepple have a different goal, and exercise — elixir not so much of extended life as extended youthfulness — may be the key to reaching it. James Fries, an emeritus professor at Stanford School of Medicine, coined the working buzz phrase: “compression of morbidity.” You simply erase chronic illness and infirmity from the first, say, 95 percent of your life. “So you’re healthy, healthy, healthy, and then at some point you kick the bucket,” Tarnopolsky says. “It’s like the Neil Young song: better to burn out than to rust.” You get a normal life span, but in Olga years. Who wouldn’t take it?
26197  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / LA Times: Olga Kotelko-1 on: November 26, 2010, 02:29:43 PM
On the third floor of the Montreal Chest Institute, at McGill University, Olga Kotelko stood before a treadmill in the center of a stuffy room that was filling up with people who had come just for her. They were there to run physical tests, or to extract blood from her earlobe, or just to observe and take notes. Kotelko removed her glasses. She wore white New Balance sneakers and black running tights, and over her silver hair, a plastic crown that held in place a breathing tube.

STRENGTH Kotelko holds the world indoor shot-put record for women 90 and over.

Olga Kotelko’s Record:16.1 ft.
High-School Record, Women’s: 54 ft.
World Record, Women’s: 74.3 ft.
Tanja Taivassalo, a 40-year-old muscle physiologist, adjusted the fit of Kotelko’s stretch-vest. It was wired with electrodes to measure changes in cardiac output — a gauge of the power of her heart. Taivassalo first met Kotelko at last year’s world outdoor masters track championships in Lahti, Finland, the pinnacle of the competitive season for older tracksters. Taivassalo went to watch her dad compete in the marathon. But she could hardly fail to notice the 91-year-old Canadian, bespandexed and elfin, who was knocking off world record after world record.

Masters competitions usually begin at 35 years, and include many in their 60s, 70s and 80s (and a few, like Kotelko, in their 90s, and one or two over 100). Of the thousands who descended on Lahti, hundreds were older than 75. And the one getting all the attention was Kotelko. She is considered one of the world’s greatest athletes, holding 23 world records, 17 in her current age category, 90 to 95.

“We have in masters track ‘hard’ records and ‘soft’ records,” says Ken Stone, editor of — the main news source of the growing masters athletic circuit. “Soft records are like low-hanging fruit,” where there are so few competitors, you’re immortalized just for showing up. But Stone doesn’t consider Kotelko’s records soft, because her performances are remarkable in their own right. At last fall’s Lahti championship, Kotelko threw a javelin more than 20 feet farther than her nearest age-group rival. At the World Masters Games in Sydney, Kotelko’s time in the 100 meters — 23.95 seconds — was faster than that of some finalists in the 80-to-84-year category, two brackets down. World Masters Athletics, the governing body of masters track, uses “age-graded” tables developed by statisticians to create a kind of standard score, expressed as a percentage, for any athletic feat. The world record for any given event would theoretically be assigned 100 percent. But a number of Kotelko’s marks — in shot put, high jump, 100-meter dash — top 100 percent. (Because there are so few competitors over 90, age-graded scores are still guesswork.)

In Lahti, watching Kotelko run fast enough that the wind blew her hair back a bit, Taivassalo was awed on a personal level (she’s a runner) and tantalized on a professional one. She hoped to start a database of athletes over 85, testing various physiological parameters.

Scientifically, this is mostly virgin ground. The cohort of people 85 and older — the fastest-growing segment of the population, as it happens — is increasingly being studied for longevity clues. But so far the focus has mostly been on their lives: the foods they eat, the air they breathe, the social networks they maintain and, in a few recently published studies, their genomes. Data on the long-term effects of exercise is only just starting to trickle in, as the children of the fitness revolution of the ’70s grow old.

Though the world of masters track offers a compelling research pool, Taivassalo may seem like an unlikely scientist to be involved. Her area of expertise is mitochondrial research; she examines what happens to the body when mitochondria, the cell’s power plants, are faulty. Her subjects are typically young people who come into the lab with neuromuscular disorders that are only going to get worse. (Because muscle cells require so much energy, they’re hit hard when mitochondria go down.) Some researchers now see aging itself as a kind of mitochondrial disease. Defective mitochondria appear as we get older, and these researchers say that they rob us of endurance, strength and function. There’s evidence that for young patients with mitochondrial disease, exercise is a potent tool, slowing the symptoms. If that’s true, then exercise could also potentially be a kind of elixir of youth, combating the ravages of aging far more than we thought.


Published: November 25, 2010

(Page 2 of 6)

You don’t have to be an athlete to notice how ruthlessly age hunts and how programmed the toll seems to be. We start losing wind in our 40s and muscle tone in our 50s. Things go downhill slowly until around age 75, when something alarming tends to happen.

AGILITY She holds two world records in javelin for women over 85.

Olga Kotelko’s Record: 41 ft
High-School Record, Women’s: 176.5 ft.
World Record, Women’s: 237 ft.

“There’s a slide I show in my physical-activity-and-aging class,” Taivassalo says. “You see a shirtless fellow holding barbells, but I cover his face. I ask the students how old they think he is. I mean, he could be 25. He’s just ripped. Turns out he’s 67. And then in the next slide there’s the same man at 78, in the same pose. It’s very clear he’s lost almost half of his muscle mass, even though he’s continued to work out. So there’s something going on.” But no one knows exactly what. Muscle fibers ought in theory to keep responding to training. But they don’t. Something is applying the brakes.

And then there is Olga Kotelko, who further complicates the picture, but in a scientifically productive way. She seems not to be aging all that quickly. “Given her rather impressive retention of muscle mass,” says Russ Hepple, a University of Calgary physiologist and an expert in aging muscle, “one would guess that she has some kind of resistance.” In investigating that resistance, the researchers are hoping to better understand how to stall the natural processes of aging.

Hepple, who is 44 and still built like the competitive runner he used to be, met Taivassalo at an exercise-physiology conference. She did her Ph.D. on people with mitochondrial disease; he was better acquainted with rats. They married. In the room at McGill, Hepple leaned in to the treadmill, barking encouragement to Kotelko as needed as she jacked her heart rate up beyond 135. In the end, Kotelko’s “maxVO2” score — a strong correlate of cardiovascular endurance — topped out at 15.5. That’s about what you’d expect from a “trained athlete of 91,” if such a type existed.

In truth, there is no type. Though when you hear the stories of older senior athletes, a common thread does emerge. While most younger masters athletes were jocks in college if not before, many competitors in the higher brackets — say, older than age 70 — have come to the game late. They weren’t athletes earlier in life because of the demands of career and their own growing families. Only after their duties cleared could they tend that other fire.

That’s Kotelko’s story, too. She grew up, with parents of Ukrainian descent, on a farm in Vonda, Saskatchewan, No. 7 of 11 kids. In the morning, after the chickens were fed and the pigs slopped and the cows milked, the brood would trudge two miles to school, stuff a broken old softball with sand or rags and play ball. Kotelko loved the game and played through childhood, but as she got older, the opportunities just weren’t there.

As an adult she taught grades 1 through 10 in the one-room schoolhouse in Vonda, married the wrong man young and, realizing her mistake, fled for British Columbia in 1957 with two daughters and brought them up alone, earning her bachelor’s degree at night. Much of her adulthood had run through her fingers before she could even think again about sports.

She picked up softball again after retiring from teaching in 1984 — slow-pitch, but pretty competitive. (“We went for blood.”) And then one day when she was 77, a teammate suggested she might enjoy track and field.

She hooked up with a local coach, who taught her the basics. She found a trainer — a strict Hungarian woman who seemed as eager to push her as Kotelko was keen to be pushed. Juiced with enthusiasm, Kotelko hit the gym hard, three days a week in season. For up to three hours at a stretch, she performed punishing exercises like planks and roman chairs and bench presses and squats, until her muscles quivered and gassed out.

Though she still does some of these things — the push-ups (three sets of 10), the situps (three sets of 25) — she doesn’t push herself the same way anymore. Apart from Aquafit classes three times a week, she pretty much takes the whole dreary Vancouver winter off. Then, come spring, four weeks or so before the first competition of the season (she’ll usually enter five or six meets each year), she starts her routine. She carts her gear to the track at the high school. She dons her spikes, takes a spade and turns the middens of teenage recreation into long-jump pits. And then goes to it — alone. On the track she will often run intervals: slow for a minute, then full out for a minute. At the beginning of each year she figures out where to put her energy. This year it’ll be throws and jumps and the 100-meter dash — the only meaningful world record missing from her résumé. She says she may not run the 200 and 400 again until 2014, when she moves up into the 95-plus age category. (Her current world marks in those events, she reckons, will be safe for four more years.)

She does deep breathing and reflexology. She has developed a massage program, which she rolls out most nights, called the “O.K.” routine, after her own initials. It involves systematically kneading her whole body, from stem to gudgeon, while lying in bed. Sometimes she’ll work one part of her body while stretching another with a looped strap. (“I don’t like wasting time,” she says.)

Ken Stone calls her “bulletproof,” and her history even off the track bears the label out. Apart from two visits to give birth to her daughters, she has seen the inside of a hospital once in her life, for a hysterectomy.


Page 3 of 6)

Kotelko acknowledged her good luck as she put away a big plate of pasta and a glass of red wine one evening, midway through the world indoor championships in Kamloops, British Columbia, this spring.

“How old do you feel?” I asked her.

“Well, I still have the energy I had at 50,” she said. “More. Where is it coming from? Honestly, I don’t know. It’s a mystery even to me.”

The previous day, on a patch of grass tricked out as a javelin field, I watched Kotelko come forward for her turn to throw. Kotelko, who is five feet tall, took the javelin offered by an official with quiet dispatch, like a hockey player accepting a new stick from the bench. There was a bit of a crosswind; it didn’t affect her too much. She picked a cloud to aim at (a tip she first read about in a library book). Ritualistically, she touched the spear tip, rocked on the back foot and let fly, all momentum. It traveled 41 feet.

Later, in her favorite event, the hammer throw, Kotelko took her place on the pitch with the other competitors — younger women she competes alongside, though not strictly against, since at this meet she was the only woman in the 90-and-over category. She removed her glasses. She swung the seven-pound cannonball around her head — once, twice, three times — and the thing sailed, landing with a thud, 45.5 feet away. “If I spun I could throw it farther,” she admitted later, but after watching somebody very old fall that way, she has decided not to risk it.

EXERCISE HAS BEEN shown to add between six and seven years to a life span (and improve the quality of life in countless ways). Any doctor who didn’t recommend exercise would be immediately suspect. But for most seniors, that prescription is likely to be something like a daily walk or Aquafit. It’s not quarter-mile timed intervals or lung-busting fartleks. There’s more than a little suffering in the difference.

Here, though, is the radical proposition that’s starting to gain currency among researchers studying masters athletes: what if intense training does something that allows the body to regenerate itself? Two recent studies involving middle-aged runners suggest that the serious mileage they were putting in, over years and years, had protected them at the chromosomal level. It appears that exercise may stimulate the production of telomerase, an enzyme that maintains and repairs the little caps on the ends of chromosomes that keep genetic information intact when cells divide. That may explain why older athletes aren’t just more cardiovascularly fit than their sedentary counterparts — they are more free of age-related illness in general.

Exactly how exercise affects older people is complicated. On one level, exercise is a flat-out insult to the body. Downhill running tears quadriceps muscles as reliably as an injection of snake venom. All kinds of free radicals and other toxins are let loose. But the damage also triggers the production of antioxidants that boost the health of the body generally. So when you see a track athlete who looks as if that last 1,500-meter race damn near killed him, you’re right. It might have made him stronger in the deal.

Exercise training helps stop muscle strength and endurance from slipping away. But it seems to also do something else, maintains Mark Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario (who also happens to be a top-ranked trail runner). Resistance exercise in particular seems to activate a muscle stem cell called a satellite cell. With the infusion of these squeaky-clean cells into the system, the mitochondria seem to rejuvenate. (The phenomenon has been called “gene shifting.”) If Tarnopolsky is right, exercise in older adults can roll back the odometer. After six months of twice weekly strength exercise training, he has shown, the biochemical, physiological and genetic signature of older muscle is “turned back” nearly 15 or 20 years.

Whether we are doing really old folks any favors by prescribing commando-grade training, well, “that’s the million-dollar question,” Hepple says. “Olga can obviously handle it. But most people aren’t Olga.” In general, kidneys and other organs tend to have trouble managing the enzymes and byproducts produced when muscle breaks down. Inflammation, which produces that good kind of soreness weekend warriors are familiar with, “also damages a lot of healthy tissue around it,” notes Li Li Ji, an exercise physiologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “That’s why I usually discourage older people from being too ambitious.”

Yet if there’s a single trend in the research into exercise and gerontology, it’s that we have underestimated what old folks are capable of, from how high their heart rates can safely climb to how deeply into old age they can exercise with no major health risks.
26198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 26, 2010, 12:02:52 PM
a) As we have discussed in the privacy thread, IMHO the correct Constitutional analysis does not limit itself to the 4th; it includes the 9th, which IMO most certainly includes a right to privacy.  Your analytical model allows for everyone to be tracked and recorded everywhere they go whenever they step outside their door.

b) In the VP of Rapiscan interview, the Veep said that they WILL be coming out with this program, not that they have already done so.

c) I certainly hope you are right, but in my travels I have had to deal with some serious TSA cases of cranial rectal interface.

Anyway, here's this from Stratfor a few years ago:

The Case for Screening Air Passengers Rather than Belongings
August 18, 2006 | 2319 GMT
PRINT Text Resize:   
ShareThisIrish airline Ryanair issued an ultimatum to the British government Aug. 18 to restore normal airport security measures within a week or risk being sued by the company for compensation. Ryanair said it faces more than $3.7 million in losses from disrupted flight schedules in the aftermath of the plot to destroy aircraft in flight using liquid explosives. In announcing the foiled plot Aug. 10, the British government immediately banned passengers from bringing carry-on luggage and liquids of all kinds aboard planes originating in the United Kingdom.

Liquid explosives do pose a serious threat to airliners in flight, although a review of previous plots against planes indicates these types of explosives are not the only thing security services need to be concerned about. Moreover, militants can be expected to adapt to evolving airline security measures.

The British case is reminiscent of Operation Bojinka, a plot to use a modular explosive device made of a doll stuffed with nitrocellulose and augmented by a bottle of liquid explosive. North Korean agents used liquid explosive PLX, disguised as a fifth of liquor, to destroy KAL Flight 858 in 1987. A number of other powerful, commercially manufactured liquid explosives also could be used to attack an airliner, such as nitroglycerine and Astrolite. Improvised versions of these explosives also can be manufactured.

Creative bombmakers have hidden explosives in a number of imaginative ways, perhaps most notably the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), which did some outside-the-box thinking when it melted the explosives TNT and Composition B and cast them into a variety of shapes, including a tea set. PFLP-GC also hid Semtex and other plastic explosives in a variety of items, including running shoes and electronics.

In fact, electronics also have been a popular choice for bombmakers looking to smuggle an improvised explosive device (IED) aboard planes. Perhaps the most famous case is the Libyan-constructed device concealed inside a Toshiba radio cassette player that was used to bring down Pan Am Flight 103. Similar devices hidden in another model of Toshiba cassette player were found in a raid on a PFLP-GC safe house in Germany a few months before the Pan Am 103 bombing.

In the 1987 KAL case, the firing train and a small charge of C-4 hidden inside the radio were used to initiate the PLX. In a London case in 1986, Nezar Hindawi, a Jordanian who later acknowledged working for Syrian intelligence, gave his unwitting and pregnant Irish girlfriend an IED concealed in bag to take on an El Al flight from London to Tel Aviv. The timer and detonator for the device were concealed in a pocket calculator. El Al security detected the device before it could be taken aboard the plane, and Hindawi was quickly arrested. In 1996, Israelis used an IED concealed in a cell phone to assassinate Yahya Ayyash, aka “The Engineer,” an infamous Hamas bombmaker.

These are only past IED incidents involving airplanes, though it is important to point out that, as security measures change, terrorist tactics also will adapt, much as narcotics “mules” have adapted to efforts to prevent them from bringing narcotics aboard planes by using everything from body cavities to dead babies.

In addition to Richard Reid’s infamous shoe bomb, there are many other ways in which explosives could be “worn” onto a plane. In the bombing of Philippine Airlines Flight 434, Abdel Basit and his associates used nitrocellulose camouflaged inside a doll, though nitrocellulose also could be easily hidden in any number of clothing items that have fiber filling, such as mittens and winter coats. Additionally, the design of the ubiquitous suicide vests and belts could allow explosives to be walked through a magnetometer if all the metal components were removed. In August 2004, Israeli authorities found explosive underwear on a young Palestinian attempting to enter Israel at the Erez border crossing. Because of the Reid plot, all passengers must remove their shoes. Had the Palestinian been attempting to board a plane, there is no telling how the incident would now affect passengers at airline security checkpoints.

It is virtually impossible to use technical screening measures to absolutely prevent explosive material from being brought on board an aircraft. Prison authorities using magnetometers and strip searches have failed to completely prevent all contraband from slipping through. The need for a greater reliance on other methods — such as name checks, interviews and behavioral profiling — to keep airplanes safe seems apparent.

26199  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty's momentary ruminations on: November 26, 2010, 11:52:19 AM

For several months now my hip joints (especially the right one) and my sacral joint have been really annoyed and my usual methods for putting things right have been working very slowly. 

One of the things I like about the Powerplate that I mentioned in my previous post is that it allows me to release my quads in a way that for me other methods just don't get as well.

Lo and behold!  My hip and sacral joints are feeling quite a lot better and it occurs to me that perhaps the underlying problem all along included my quads being really tight-- perhaps induced by the downhill portion of the rucking training I was doing.
26200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: November 26, 2010, 11:41:47 AM
STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Colin Chapman: After defending your patch and securing shelter, food and water, a reliable source of energy is the most important policy goal. The two most populous countries - China and India - compete with Japan and the United States for energy. China’s energy consumption has more than doubled in the last decade and is now more than that of the United States. So how are these Asian giants going to secure their future energy?

Welcome to Agenda and to discuss this, I’m joined by STRATFOR’s Rodger Baker. Rodger, let’s start with China.

Rodger Baker: China has been ramping up its energy consumption and we’ve seen that the rate of consumption increased quite a bit in the past few years. One of the things they’re doing to try to alleviate some of that is increasing natural gas imports. That’s by pipelines from Central Asia, it’s by pipelines from Russia that they’re working on, as well as building LNG import terminals. (Marc:  Readers of the Afghanistan-Pakistan thread may remember my outside the box proposal for the US to do this for central Asia.)

The Chinese are looking at additional nuclear power as well - trying to set up more nuclear power plants, trying to increase the electricity that comes from that. They’re looking at alternative sources for energy - trying to spread out where they can get oil, where they can get gas, where they can even get coal or uranium. But in general, it’s it’s a very difficult proposition for the Chinese because of the speed and the pace at which energy consumption continues to rise.

Chapman: There’s a world shortage of natural gas at the moment, so this is a good time to do deals.

Baker: It’s certainly good to try to lock in deals for the Chinese at this time. They are a major consumer, and one of the advantages that they have is that they’re fairly close to several of the suppliers in Southeast Asia, in Australia, in Central Asia.

Chapman: Despite the failure of the Copenhagen Summit, China now seems to be at least thinking about clean energy. How serious is it?

Baker: Well, China’s energy and electricity production is almost 3/4 based on coal and is very hard to break away from coal. They’ve got massive domestic supply’s, although in recent years we’ve seen them have to shift to supplement with imports, particularly at peak times or when there’s transportation disruptions within the country.

Their green energy push has a couple of different focuses behind it. One is, of course, the idea that they want to improve the quality of energy that they produce. The other though is an attempt to draw in additional technology and additional payment from other countries, and the Chinese have been strong promoters of green energy, green energy technology and development. But they’ve hoped that a lot of the technology is going to come from the United States, from the Germans, from maybe the Japanese and the Koreans, and on that side they’re starting to find problems, and as we saw at the latest round of global talks on green energy, the Chinese initiative that we saw a year ago that seemed very strong is starting to pull back, starting to fade back, and they’re not really able to push forward as fast as they thought they would.

Chapman: Now the country with the second largest population is India. And it’s growing fast too. How is it going about securing its future energy supplies?

Baker: Like the Chinese, the Indians are looking at natural gas and trying to find ways to bring that in. The domestic infrastructure makes it very difficult in India to move a certain product to different locations of the country. Another thing with India, though, is that they are a fairly high user of a biomass and waste to produce energy. That’s been good for them in some ways in that it gives them domestic sources of energy that perhaps China and other countries don’t seem to take advantage of. On the other hand, the the polluting problems of those sorts of energy are starting to cause a backlash in India and starting to cause them to readjust the way in which they use those sorts of technologies.

Chapman: And then there’s Japan, which is the world’s third-largest economy. And an island state totally dependent on imports.

Baker: Japan is certainly one of the world’s largest economies despite years of economic malaise, and their energy consumption remains very high. But if you look at the charts - in the past - the Japanese were very good at implementing early on energy efficiency measures, and so that the importation of oil, the importation of natural gas didn’t continue to grow apace - where we saw the Chinese starting to rise in their consumptions.

The Japanese maintain their security of their supply lines by maintaining a very strong defense relationship with the United States, but we’ve also seen Tokyo start to dabble in developing its own ways of of ensuring supply lines. So we see them working closer with India, now we see them working in the Middle East. The Japanese have been working on what effectively is a base for their operations out of Djibouti, and these are ways that Japan, both from a security perspective and kind of a long-term interest perspective, is trying to strengthen their supply lines, particularly in the face of a China that seems to be not only more active but a China that is sucking up more and more resources.

Chapman: Of course, on the Pacific is Russia, which is a big energy supplier. Are they preparing to cash in on the huge increase in energy demand in the Pacific?

Baker: One of the problems that Russia faces in really breaking into this large East Asia demand for energy is location. The Russian energy resources aren’t near the borders are, not near the the coastal facilities except for maybe Sakhalin, and are not even near the Chinese border. So they have to run very long pipelines, they have to run the energy by rail and draw it out from really hostile territory inside Russia - based on the weather, based on how far north some of the territory is.

Another issue the Russians have is that they continue to be a little cautious about just where and how they supply their energy. For the longest time you would hear ideas that Russia was concerned that the Chinese were going to rush across the border and hold Siberia because they have a big population, and the Russians have a small population. That’s not really a concern at the moment. There’s no infrastructure there really to absorb the Chinese population or for the Chinese to do that.

The question becomes if you build these pipelines, if you bring in the Chinese investment to develop these energy fields does that change the equation on the way in which China looks at this Russia. So there’s a little bit of caution there. The Russians really have been pushing through their relationships and Central Asia to be able to feed into this region, but we certainly saw Moscow looking at substantially increasing its flow of energy products to the Pacific, to Asia over the next say 10 years.

Chapman: Rodger Baker, thanks very much for those insights on the Asian giants and the future of their energy security. That’s Agenda for this week. I’m Colin Chapman. Thanks very much for joining me.

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