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26651  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: May 20, 2010, 11:17:05 AM
26652  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Naturalized citizen sent money to AQ on: May 20, 2010, 02:46:40 AM
Kansas City Man Admits to Funding Al Qaeda
Khalid Ouazzani, a Moroccan-Born U.S. Citizen and Auto Parts Dealer, Pleads Guilty in Federal Court

(AP)  A Kansas City used car and auto parts dealer admitted Wednesday in federal court to sending money to al Qaeda, prosecutors said.

Khalid Ouazzani, 32, a Moroccan-born naturalized U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty to several terrorism-related charges, telling a judge that he sent $23,500 to the terrorist organization through a bank in the United Arab Emirates between August and November 2007, prosecutors said. He also admitted that in June 2008, he swore to an unnamed coconspirator an oath of allegiance to al Qaeda, prosecutors said.

Court records said Ouazzani "used various techniques to disguise their communications about their plans and assistance to support" al Qaeda.

Ouazzani also pleaded guilty to money laundering and bank fraud in a scheme to steal more than $174,000 from a bank using false and fraudulent financial information, prosecutors said.

Ouazzani has "acknowledged the wrongfulness of his acts," his attorneys said in a statement.

"He deeply regrets what he has done, and is taking steps to atone, to the extent he can, for his crimes. He will continue to do so," the statement read. His lawyers declined to comment further about the case and their client.

Ouazzani faces up to 65 years in prison without parole, prosecutors said. No sentencing date has been set.
26653  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What raprochement would look like? on: May 20, 2010, 02:38:57 AM
What a U.S.-Iran Entente Would Look Like
AT STRATFOR WE TRY TO KEEP TRACK OF minute details related to global events. At the same time though, we do not allow ourselves to get bogged down in the proverbial weeds or trees. Instead we focus on the forest as a whole and what the forest will look like over a temporal horizon.

So, while everyone else Tuesday was obsessing over the latest U.S. plans for a fresh round of sanctions against Iran, we were trying to understand what the world would look like if the United States and Iran brought three decades of hostility to an end. Most people would deem the exercise as ludicrous given Tuesday’s events. But STRATFOR has long been saying that with no viable military options to attempt to curb Iranian behavior, and an inability to put together an effective sanctions regime, Washington has only one choice, and that is to negotiate with Tehran on the issues that matter most to both countries.

We are not just talking about the nuclear issue, but rather the key problem of the balance of power between a post-American Iraq and the entire Persian Gulf region. The agreement signed in Tehran by the leaders of Iran, Turkey and Brazil is the first public evidence that the two sides could agree to disagree in roughly the same way the United States and China did in the early 1970s.

While both Washington and Tehran have a lot to gain from a detente, an end to their hostile relationship — which at the moment is far from assured — would have immense implications for a number of players in the region and around the world. This is a subject that has been intensely discussed among our analysts who cover the various regions of the world. Rather than craft a flowing narrative on their ruminations, STRATFOR presents them here in raw form.

An Iran with normalized relations with the United States is a challenge for both Washington and Tehran. The former more so than the latter because it is about the United States according recognition upon a state not because it has accepted to align itself with U.S. foreign policy for the region, but because there are no other viable options for dealing with Tehran. The United States can live with Iran driving its own agenda because of geography, but geography becomes the very reason why many U.S. allies are worried about an internationally rehabilitated Tehran. These include the Arab states, particularly those on the southern shores of the Persian Gulf, and Israel. Iran already has the largest military force in the region — which will only grow more powerful once Tehran is no longer encumbered by sanctions. It will, however, be some time before Iran is able to meaningfully project or sustain conventional military force, though it already exercises considerable influence via regional proxies. Even now, despite all the restrictions, it is still able to finance its regional ambitions — a situation that would only improve once foreign investments pour into the Iranian energy sector.

“While both Washington and Tehran have a lot to gain from a detente, an end to their hostile relationship would have immense implications for a number of players in the region and around the world.”
For the Persian Gulf Arab states, Iran’s return to the global energy market is as much a threat as its military power. Israel is already dealing with the rise of hostile Arab non-state actors, an emergent Turkey and an Egypt in transition, so from its point of view a rehabilitated Iran only makes matters worse for Israel’s national security. To a lesser degree, the Turks and the Pakistanis are concerned about Iran returning to the comity of nations. Ankara wants to be the regional hegemon and does not want competition from anyone — certainly not its historic rival. The Pakistanis do not wish to see competition in Afghanistan, nor do they want their relationship with the United States affected.

The United States has been hobbled by the memories of the 1979 hostage crisis for a generation now, while the importance of oil to the global system makes security in the Persian Gulf an unavoidable commitment for American forces. During the Cold War, when the United States did not have to worry about Gulf security or Iranian ambition, the United States was emotionally, militarily and diplomatically free to encircle the Soviets, parlay with the Chinese, induce the Europeans to cooperate, dominate South America and use Israel to keep the Middle East in check. We are in a radically different world now. But once the United States lets go of the expensive and unwieldy security and emotional baggage caused by Iran, Washington’s ability to reshape the international system should not be underestimated. And that says nothing of what an Iran with a free hand would do to its backyard.

The trajectory of this hypothesized rapprochement coincides with the trajectory of increasing U.S. military capacity. Though U.S. ground combat forces remain heavily committed now, this will change in the years to come. This trajectory is already taking shape, but a U.S.-Iranian entente would accelerate the process. A United States with a battle-hardened military accustomed to a high deployment tempo without the commitments that defined the first decade of the 21st century will have immense capability to deploy multiple brigades to places like Poland, the Baltic states or Georgia. Its naval deployments will be able to spend less time in the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf and more time loitering in places like the South China Sea. These capabilities will certainly create friction with states like Russia and China. The United States is on this trajectory with or without Iran, but with a U.S.-Iranian rapprochement, it is possible on a more rapid timetable and to a greater degree.

An Iranian-U.S. rapprochement would be a relief to Europe. The Europeans are exhausted by having to keep up with U.S.-Middle Eastern problems, and while the Iranian imbroglio has not forced the Europeans to commit any troops, they are worried that it may in the future. Europeans, especially the French and the Germans, would welcome a Tehran-Washington reconciliation from an economic perspective as well. Both want to use Iran as a market for high-tech products, and France has its sights set on the South Pars natural gas field in the Gulf. Iranian natural gas reserves, estimated to be the second largest in the world, would potentially fill the Nabucco pipeline and give Europe an alternative to Russian energy exports.

Russia has no interest in seeing the United States and Iran come to terms with each other. Iran may be a historic rival to Russia, but it’s a rivalry the Russians have been able to manipulate rather effectively in dealing with the United States. Building Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant and threatening to sell S300 strategic air defense systems to Iran are Russia’s way of capturing Washington’s attention in a region that has consumed U.S. power since the turn of the century. Moscow may be willing to give small concessions over Iran to the United States, but its overall interest is to keep Washington’s focus on Tehran. The more distracted the United States is, the more room Russia has to entrench itself in the former Soviet space and keep Europe under its thumb. If the United States manages to work out an understanding with Tehran and rely more heavily on an ally like Turkey to tend to issues in the Islamic world, then it can turn to the pressing geopolitical issue of how to undermine Russian leverage in Eurasia.

East Asia’s major powers would, in general, favor a U.S. rapprochement with Iran. Japan, China and South Korea, the world’s second, third and 13th biggest economies respectively are all major importers of oil and natural gas. If the United States were to lend its support to Iran as a preeminent power in the Middle East, it would not only open up Iran’s energy sector for greater opportunities in investment and production, but also relieve the Asian states of some of their anxiety about instability in the region as a whole, especially in the vulnerable Persian Gulf choke point through which their oil supplies are shipped. Moreover, these states would leap at new opportunities for their major industrial giants to get involved in construction, energy, finance and manufacturing in Iran, which would all be facilitated by American approval. A U.S.-Iranian entente would pose a problem only to China. Not only would it bring yet another of China’s major energy suppliers into the U.S. orbit and strengthen U.S. influence over the entire Middle East, it would also shrink China’s advantage as a non-U.S. aligned state when it comes to working with non-U.S. aligned Iran. Nevertheless, the economic possibilities of China working with Iran without provoking American aggression would likely outweigh the concerns over U.S.-Iranian vulnerabilities. That is unless an Iranian-facilitated withdrawal from Washington’s wars resulted in the United States putting more pressure on China.
26654  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wattenburg on: May 20, 2010, 02:32:37 AM
This piece is a point-counter-point with the Buchanan piece of my previous post:

Ben Wattenberg: Immigration Is Good
year: 2002

Many leading thinkers tell us we are now in a culture clash that will determine the course of history, that today's war is for Western civilization itself. There is a demographic dimension to this "clash of civilizations." While certain of today's demographic signals bode well for America, some look very bad. If we are to assess America's future prospects, we must start by asking, "Who are we?" "Who will we be?" and "How will we relate to the rest of the world?" The answers all involve immigration. 

As data from the 2000 census trickled out, one item hit the headline jackpot. By the year 2050, we were told, America would be "majority non-white." The census count showed more Hispanics in America than had been expected, making them "America's largest minority." When blacks, Asians, and Native Americans are added to the Hispanic total, the "non-white" population emerges as a large minority, on the way to becoming a small majority around the middle of this century.

The first thing worth noting is that these rigid racial definitions are absurd. The whole concept of race as a biological category is becoming ever-more dubious in America. Consider:

Under the Clinton administration's census rules, any American who checks both the black and white boxes on the form inquiring about "race" is counted as black, even if his heritage is, say, one eighth black and seven eighths white. In effect, this enshrines the infamous segregationist view that one drop of black blood makes a person black.

Although most Americans of Hispanic heritage declare themselves "white," they are often inferentially counted as non-white, as in the erroneous New York Times headline which recently declared: "Census Confirms Whites Now a Minority" in California.

If those of Hispanic descent, hailing originally from about 40 nations, are counted as a minority, why aren't those of Eastern European descent, coming from about 10 nations, also counted as a minority? (In which case the Eastern European "minority" would be larger than the Hispanic minority.)

But within this jumble of numbers there lies a central truth: America is becoming a universal nation, with significant representation of nearly all human hues, creeds, ethnicities, and national ancestries. Continued moderate immigration will make us an even more universal nation as time goes on. And this process may well play a serious role in determining the outcome of the contest of civilizations taking place across the globe.

And current immigration rates are moderate, even though America admitted more legal immigrants from 1991 to 2000 than in any previous decade?between 10 and 11 million. The highest previous decade was 1901-1910, when 8.8 million people arrived. In addition, each decade now, several million illegal immigrants enter the U.S., thanks partly to ease of transportation.

Critics like Pat Buchanan say that absorbing all those immigrants will "swamp" the American culture and bring Third World chaos inside our borders. I disagree. Keep in mind: Those 8.8 million immigrants who arrived in the U.S. between 1901 and 1910 increased the total American population by 1 percent per year. (Our numbers grew from 76 million to 92 million during that decade.) In our most recent decade, on the other hand, the 10 million legal immigrants represented annual growth of only 0.36 percent (as the U.S.  went from 249 million to 281 million).

Overall, nearly 15 percent of Americans were foreign-born in 1910. In 1999, our foreign-born were about 10 percent of our total. (In 1970, the foreign-born portion of our population was down to about 5 percent. Most of the rebound resulted from a more liberal immigration law enacted in 1965.) Or look at the "foreign stock" data. These figures combine Americans born in foreign lands and their offspring, even if those children have only one foreign-born parent. Today, America's "foreign stock" amounts to 21 percent of the population and heading up. But in 1910, the comparable figure was 34 percent?one third of the entire country?and the heavens did not collapse.

We can take in more immigrants, if we want to. Should we? 

Return to the idea that immigrants could swamp American culture. If that is true, we clearly should not increase our intake. But what if, instead of swamping us, immigration helps us become a stronger nation and a swamper of others in the global competition of civilizations?

Immigration is now what keeps America growing. According to the U.N., the typical American woman today bears an average of 1.93 children over the course of her childbearing years. That is mildly below the 2.1 "replacement" rate required to keep a population stable over time, absent immigration. The "medium variant" of the most recent Census Bureau projections posits that the U.S. population will grow from 281 million in 2000 to 397 million in 2050 with expected immigration, but only to 328 million should we choose a path of zero immigration. That is a difference of a population growth of 47 million versus 116 million. (The 47 million rise is due mostly to demographic momentum from previous higher birthrates.) If we have zero immigration with today's low birthrates indefinitely, the American population would eventually begin to shrink, albeit slowly.

Is more population good for America? When it comes to potential global power and influence, numbers can matter a great deal. Taxpayers, many of them, pay for a fleet of aircraft carriers. And on the economic side it is better to have a customer boom than a customer bust. (It may well be that Japan's stagnant demography is one cause of its decade-long slump.) The environmental case could be debated all day long, but remember that an immigrant does not add to the global population?he merely moves from one spot on the planet to another.

But will the current crop of immigrants acculturate? Immigrants to America always have. Some critics, like Mr. Buchanan, claim that this time, it's different. Mexicans seem to draw his particular ire, probably because they are currently our largest single source of immigration.

Yet only about a fifth (22 percent) of legal immigrants to America currently come from Mexico. Adding illegal immigrants might boost the figure to 30 percent, but the proportion of Mexican immigrants will almost surely shrink over time. Mexican fertility has diminished from 6.5 children per woman 30 years ago to 2.5 children now, and continues to fall. If high immigration continues under such circumstances, Mexico will run out of Mexicans.

California hosts a wide variety of immigrant groups in addition to Mexicans. And the children and grandchildren of Koreans, Chinese, Khmer, Russian Jews, Iranians, and Thai (to name a few) will speak English, not Spanish. Even among Mexican-Americans, many second- and third-generation offspring speak no Spanish at all, often to the dismay of their elders (a familiar American story).

Michael Barone's book The New Americans theorizes that Mexican immigrants are following roughly the same course of earlier Italian and Irish immigrants. Noel Ignatiev's book How the Irish Became White notes that it took a hundred years until Irish-Americans (who were routinely characterized as drunken "gorillas") reached full income parity with the rest of America.

California recently repealed its bilingual education programs. Nearly half of Latino voters supported the proposition, even though it was demonized by opponents as being anti-Hispanic. Latina mothers reportedly tell their children, with no intent to disparage the Spanish language, that "Spanish is the language of busboys"?stressing that in America you have to speak English to get ahead. 

The huge immigration wave at the dawn of the twentieth century undeniably brought tumult to America. Many early social scientists promoted theories of what is now called "scientific racism," which "proved" that persons from Northwest Europe were biologically superior. The new immigrants?Jews, Poles, and Italians?were considered racially apart and far down the totem pole of human character and intelligence. Blacks and Asians were hardly worth measuring. The immigration wave sparked a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, peaking in the early 1920s. At that time, the biggest KKK state was not in the South; it was Indiana, where Catholics, Jews, and immigrants, as well as blacks, were targets.

Francis Walker, superintendent of the U.S. Bureau of the Census in the late 1890s, and later president of MIT, wrote in 1896 that "The entrance of such vast masses of peasantry degraded below our utmost conceptions is a matter which no intelligent patriot can look upon without the gravest apprehension and alarm. They are beaten men from beaten races. They have none of the ideas and aptitudes such as belong to those who were descended from the tribes that met under the oak trees of old Germany to make laws and choose chiefs." (Sorry, Francis, but Germany did not have a good twentieth century.)

Fast-forward to the present. By high margins, Americans now tell pollsters it was a very good thing that Poles, Italians, and Jews emigrated to America. Once again, it's the newcomers who are viewed with suspicion. This time, it's the Mexicans, Filipinos, and people from the Caribbean who make Americans nervous. But such views change over time. The newer immigrant groups are typically more popular now than they were even a decade ago.

Look at the high rates of intermarriage. Most Americans have long since lost their qualms about marriage between people of different European ethnicities. That is spreading across new boundaries. In 1990, 64 percent of Asian Americans married outside their heritage, as did 37 percent of Hispanics. Black-white intermarriage is much lower, but it climbed from 3 percent in 1980 to 9 percent in 1998. (One reason to do away with the race question on the census is that within a few decades we won't be able to know who's what.) 

Can the West, led by America, prevail in a world full of sometimes unfriendly neighbors? Substantial numbers of people are necessary (though not sufficient) for a country, or a civilization, to be globally influential. Will America and its Western allies have enough people to keep their ideas and principles alive?

On the surface, it doesn't look good. In 1986, I wrote a book called The Birth Dearth. My thesis was that birth rates in developed parts of the world?Europe, North America, Australia, and Japan, nations where liberal Western values are rooted?had sunk so low that there was danger ahead. At that time, women in those modern countries were bearing a lifetime average of 1.83 children, the lowest rate ever absent war, famine, economic depression, or epidemic illness. It was, in fact, 15 percent below the long-term population replacement level.

Those trendlines have now plummeted even further. Today, the fertility rate in the modern countries averages 1.5 children per woman, 28 percent below the replacement level. The European rate, astonishingly, is 1.34 children per woman?radically below replacement level. The Japanese rate is similar. The United States is the exceptional country in the current demographic scene.

As a whole, the nations of the Western world will soon be less populous, and a substantially smaller fraction of the world population. Demographer Samuel Preston estimates that even if European fertility rates jump back to replacement level immediately (which won't happen) the continent would still lose 100 million people by 2060. Should the rate not level off fairly soon, the ramifications are incalculable, or, as the Italian demographer Antonio Golini likes to mutter at demograph-ic meetings, "unsustainable?unsustainable." (Shockingly, the current Italian fertility rate is 1.2 children per woman, and it has been at or below 1.5 for 20 years?a full generation.)

The modern countries of the world, the bearers of Western civilization, made up one third of the global population in 1950, and one fifth in 2000, and are projected to represent one eighth by 2050. If we end up in a world with nine competing civilizations, as

Samuel Huntington maintains, this will make it that much harder for Western values to prevail in the cultural and political arenas.

The good news is that fertility rates have also plunged in the less developed countries?from 6 children in 1970 to 2.9 today. By the middle to end of this century, there should be a rough global convergence of fertility rates and population growth. 

Since September 11, immigration has gotten bad press in America. The terrorist villains, indeed, were foreigners. Not only in the U.S. but in many other nations as well, governments are suddenly cracking down on illegal entry. This is understandable for the moment. But an enduring turn away from legal immigration would be foolhardy for America and its allies.

If America doesn't continue to take in immigrants, it won't continue to grow in the long run. If the Europeans and Japanese don't start to accept more immigrants they will evaporate. Who will empty the bedpans in Italy's retirement homes? The only major pool of immigrants available to Western countries hails from the less developed world, i.e. non-white, and non-Western countries.

The West as a whole is in a deep demographic ditch. Accordingly, Western countries should try to make it easier for couples who want to have children. In America, the advent of tax credits for children (which went from zero to $1,000 per child per year over the last decade) is a small step in the direction of fertility reflation. Some European nations are enacting similar pro-natal policies. Bur their fertility rates are so low, and their economies so constrained, that any such actions can only be of limited help.

That leaves immigration. I suggest America should make immigration safer (by more carefully investigating new entrants), but not cut it back. It may even be wise to make a small increase in our current immigration rate. America needs to keep growing, and we can fruitfully use both high- and low-skill immigrants. Pluralism works here, as it does in Canada and Australia.

Can pluralism work in Europe? I don't know, and neither do the Europeans. They hate the idea, but they will depopulate if they don't embrace pluralism, via immigration. Perhaps our example can help Europeans see that pluralism might work in the admittedly more complex European context. Japan is probably a hopeless case; perhaps the Japanese should just change the name of their country to Dwindle.

Our non-pluralist Western allies will likely diminish in population, relative power, and influence during this century. They will become much grayer. Nevertheless, by 2050 there will still be 750 million of them left, so the U.S. needs to keep the Western alliance strong. For all our bickering, let us not forget that the European story in the second half of the twentieth century was a wonderful one; Western Europeans stopped killing each other. Now they are joining hands politically. The next big prize may be Russia. If the Russians choose our path, we will see what Tocqueville saw: that America and Russia are natural allies.

We must enlist other allies as well. America and India, for instance, are logical partners?pluralist, large, English-speaking, and democratic. We must tell our story. And our immigrants, who come to our land by choice, are our best salesmen. We should extend our radio services to the Islamic world, as we have to the unliberated nations of Asia through Radio Free Asia. The people at the microphones will be U.S. immigrants.

We can lose the contest of civilizations if the developing countries don't evolve toward Western values. One of the best forms of "public diplomacy" is immigration. New immigrants send money home, bypassing corrupt governments?the best kind of foreign aid there is. They go back home to visit and tell their families and friends in the motherland that American modernism, while not perfect, ain't half-bad. Some return home permanently, but they bring with them Western expectations of open government, economic efficiency, and personal liberty. They know that Westernism need not be restricted to the West, and they often have an influence on local politics when they return to their home countries.

Still, because of Europe and Japan, the demographic slide of Western civilization will continue. And so, America must be prepared to go it alone. If we keep admitting immigrants at our current levels there will be almost 400 million Americans by 2050. That can keep us strong enough to defend and perhaps extend our views and values. And the civilization we will be advancing may not just be Western, but even more universal: American.
26655  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pat Buchanan on: May 19, 2010, 08:15:16 PM
If his attitudes towards Jews are any indicator, PB can be a bit of a bigot so read the following interesting piece from 2002 with care:

a Cause of the Clash of Civilizations . . .Or a Solution to it?
Patrick Buchanan vs. Ben Wattenberg

Patrick Buchanan: Shields up!   

 In 1821, a newly independent Mexico invited Americans to settle in its northern province of Texas?on two conditions: Americans must embrace Roman Catholicism, and they must swear allegiance to Mexico. Thousands took up the offer. But, in 1835, after the tyrannical General Santa Anna seized power, the Texans, fed up with loyalty oaths and fake conversions, and outnumbering Mexicans in Texas ten to one, rebelled and kicked the tiny Mexican garrison back across the Rio Grande.

Santa Anna led an army north to recapture his lost province. At a mission called the Alamo, he massacred the first rebels who resisted. Then he executed the 400 Texans who surrendered at Goliad. But at San Jacinto, Santa Anna blundered straight into an ambush. His army was butchered, he was captured. The Texans demanded his execution for the Alamo massacre, but Texas army commander Sam Houston had another idea. He made the dictator an offer: his life for Texas. Santa Anna signed. And on his last day in office, Andrew Jackson recognized the independence of the Lone Star Republic.

Eight years later, the U.S. annexed the Texas republic. An enraged Mexico disputed the American claim to all land north of the Rio Grande, so President James Polk sent troops to the north bank of the river. When Mexican soldiers crossed and fired on a U.S. patrol, Congress declared war. By 1848, soldiers with names like Grant, Lee, and McClellan were in the city of Montezuma. A humiliated Mexico was forced to cede all of Texas, the Southwest, and California. The U.S. gave Mexico $15 million to ease the anguish of amputation.

Mexicans seethed with hatred and resentment, and in 1910 the troubles began anew. After a revolution that was anti-church and anti-American, U.S. sailors were roughed up and arrested in Tampico. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson ordered the occupation of Vera Cruz by U.S. Marines. As Wilson explained to the British ambassador, "I am going to teach the South Americans to elect good men." When the bandit Pancho Villa led a murderous raid into New Mexico in 1916, Wilson sent General Pershing and 10,000 troops to do the tutoring.

Despite FDR's Good Neighbor Policy, President Cardenas nationalized U.S. oil companies in 1938- an event honored in Mexico to this day. Pemex was born, a state cartel that would collude with OPEC in 1999 to hike up oil prices to $35 a barrel. American consumers, whose tax dollars had supported a $50 billion bailout of a bankrupt Mexico in 1994, got gouged. 

The point of this history? Mexico has an historic grievance against the United States that is felt deeply by her people. This is one factor producing deep differences in attitudes toward America between today's immigrants from places like Mexico and the old immigrants from Ireland, Italy, and Eastern Europe. With fully one-fifth of all people of Mexican ancestry now residing in the United States, and up to 1 million more crossing the border every year, we need to understand these differences.

1. The number of people pouring in from Mexico is larger than any wave from any country ever before. In the 1990s alone, the number of people of Mexican heritage living in the U.S. grew by 50 percent to at least 21 million. The Founding Fathers wanted immigrants to spread out among the population to ensure assimilation, but Mexican Americans are highly concentrated in the Southwest.

2. Mexicans are not only from another culture, but of another race. History has taught that different races are far more difficult to assimilate than different cultures. The 60 million Americans who claim German ancestry are fully assimilated, while millions from Africa and Asia are still not full participants in American society.

3. Millions of Mexicans broke the law to get into the United States, and they break the law every day they remain here. Each year, 1.6 million illegal aliens are apprehended, almost all of them at our bleeding southern border.

4. Unlike the immigrants of old, who bade farewell to their native lands forever, millions of Mexicans have no desire to learn English or become U.S. citizens. America is not their home; they are here to earn money. They remain proud Mexicans. Rather than assimilate, they create their own radio and TV stations, newspapers, films, and magazines. They are becoming a nation within a nation.

5. These waves of Mexican immigrants are also arriving in a different America than did the old immigrants. A belief in racial rights and ethnic entitlements has taken root among America's minorities and liberal elites. Today, ethnic enclaves are encouraged and ethnic chauvinism is rife in the barrios. Anyone quoting Calvin Coolidge's declaration that "America must remain American" today would be charged with a hate crime. 

Harvard professor Samuel P. Huntington, author of The Clash of Civilizations, calls migration "the central issue of our time." He has warned in the pages of this magazine: 

If 1 million Mexican soldiers crossed the border, Americans would treat it as a major threat to their national security.... The invasion of over 1 million Mexican civilians...would be a comparable threat to American societal security, and Americans should react against it with vigor. 
Mexican immigration is a challenge to our cultural integrity, our national identity, and potentially to our future as a country. Yet, American leaders are far from reacting "with vigor," even though a Zogby poll found that 72 percent of Americans want less immigration, and a Rasmussen poll in July 2000 found that 89 percent support English as America's official language. The people want action. The elites disagree?and do nothing. Despite our braggadocio about being "the world's only remaining superpower," the U.S. lacks the fortitude to defend its borders and to demand, without apology, that immigrants assimilate to its society.
Perhaps our mutual love of the dollar can bridge the cultural chasm, and we shall all live happily in what Ben Wattenberg calls the First Universal Nation. But Uncle Sam is taking a hellish risk in importing a huge diaspora of tens of millions of people from a nation vastly different from our own. It is not a decision we can ever undo. Our children will live with the consequences. "If assimilation fails," Huntington recognizes, "the United States will become a cleft country with all the potentials for internal strife and disunion that entails." Is that a risk worth taking?

A North American Union of Canada, Mexico, and the United States has been proposed by Mexican President Fox, with a complete opening of borders to the goods and peoples of the three countries. The Wall Street Journal is enraptured. But Mexico's per capita GDP of $5,000 is only a fraction of America's?the largest income gap on earth between two adjoining countries. Half of all Mexicans live in poverty, and 18 million people exist on less than $2 a day, while the U.S. minimum wage is headed for $50 a day. Throw open the border, and millions could flood into the United States within months. Is America nothing more than an economic system?

Our old image is of Mexicans as amiable Catholics with traditional values. There are millions of hard-working, family-oriented Americans of Mexican heritage, who have been quick to answer the call to arms in several of America's wars. And, yes, history has shown that any man or woman, from any country on the planet, can be a good American.

But today's demographic sea change, especially in California, where a fourth of the residents are foreign-born and almost a third are Latino, has spawned a new ethnic chauvinism. When the U.S. soccer team played Mexico in  Los Angeles a few years ago, the "Star-Spangled Banner" was jeered, an American flag was torn down, and the U.S. team and its few fans were showered with beer bottles and garbage.

In the New Mexico legislature in 2001, a resolution was introduced to rename the state "Nuevo Mexico," the name it carried before it became a part of the American Union. When the bill was defeated, sponsor Representative Miguel Garcia suggested to reporters that "covert racism" may have been the cause.

A spirit of separatism, nationalism, and irredentism has come alive in the barrio. Charles Truxillo, a professor of Chicano Studies at the University of New Mexico, says a new "Aztlan," with Los Angeles as its capital, is inevitable. Jose Angel Gutierrez, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Arlington and director of the UTA Mexican-American Study Center, told a university crowd: "We have an aging white America. They are not making babies. They are dying. The explosion is in our population. They are shitting in their pants in fear! I love it."

More authoritative voices are sounding the same notes. The Mexican consul general Jos? Pescador Osuna remarked in 1998, "Even though I am saying this part serious, part joking, I think we are practicing La Reconquista in California." California legislator Art Torres called Proposition 187, to cut off welfare to illegal aliens, "the last gasp of white America."

"California is going to be a Mexican State. We are going to control all the institutions. If people don't like it, they should leave," exults Mario Obledo, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, and recipient of the Medal of Freedom from President Clinton. Former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo told Mexican-Americans in Dallas: "You are Mexicans, Mexicans who live north of the border." 

Why should nationalistic and patriotic Mexicans not dream of a reconquista?  The Latino student organization known by its Spanish acronym MEChA states, "We declare the independence of our mestizo nation. We are a bronze people with a bronze culture. Before the world, before all of North America?we are a nation." MEChA demands U.S. "restitution" for "past economic slavery, political exploitation, ethnic and cultural psychological destruction and denial of civil and human rights."

MEChA, which claims 4,000 campus chapters across the country, is unabashedly racist and anti-American. Its slogan?Por la Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada.?translates as "For our race, everything. For those outside our race, nothing." Yet it now exerts real power in many places. The former chair of its UCLA chapter, Antonio Villaraigosa, came within a whisker of being elected mayor of Los Angeles in 2001.

That Villaraigosa could go through an entire campaign for control of America's second-largest city without having to explain his association with a Chicano version of the white-supremacist Aryan Nation proves that America's major media are morally intimidated by any minority that boasts past victimhood credentials, real or imagined. 

Meanwhile, the invasion rolls on. America's once-sleepy 2,000-mile border with Mexico is now the scene of daily confrontations. Even the Mexican army shows its contempt for U.S. law. The State Department reported 55 military incursions in the five years before an incident in 2000 when truckloads of Mexican soldiers barreled through a barbed-wire fence, fired shots, and pursued two mounted officers and a U.S. Border Patrol vehicle. U.S. Border Patrol agents believe that some Mexican army units collaborate with their country's drug cartels.

America has become a spillway for an exploding population that Mexico is unable to employ. Mexico's population is growing by 10 million every decade. Mexican senator Adolfo Zinser conceded that Mexico's "economic policy is dependent on unlimited emigration to the United States." The Yanqui-baiting academic and "onetime Communist supporter" Jorge Caste?ada warned in The Atlantic Monthly six years ago that any American effort to cut back immigration "will make social peace in?Mexico untenable.... Some Americans dislike immigration, but there is very little they can do about it." With Se?or Caste?ada now President Fox's foreign minister and Senator Zinser his national security adviser, these opinions carry weight.

The Mexican government openly supports illegal entry of its citizens into the United States. An Office for Mexicans Abroad helps Mexicans evade U.S. border guards in the deserts of Arizona and California by providing them with "survival kits" of water, dry meat, Granola, Tylenol, anti-diarrhea pills, bandages, and condoms. The kits are distributed in Mexico's poorest towns, along with information on where illegal aliens can get free social services in California. Mexico is aiding and abetting an invasion of the United States, and the U.S. responds with intimidated silence and moral paralysis.

With California the preferred destination for this immigration flood, sociologist William Frey has documented an out-migration of African Americans and Anglo Americans from the Golden State in search of cities and towns like the ones in which they grew up. Other Californians are moving into gated communities. A country that cannot control its borders isn't really a country, Ronald Reagan warned some two decades ago.

Concerns about a radical change in America's ethnic composition have been called un-American. But they are as American as Benjamin Franklin, who once asked, "Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them?" Franklin would never find out if his fears were justified, because German immigration was halted during the Revolutionary War.

Theodore Roosevelt likewise warned that "The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities."

Immigration is a subject worthy of national debate, yet it has been deemed taboo by the forces of political correctness. Like the Mississippi, with its endless flow of life-giving water, immigration has enriched America throughout history. But when the Mississippi floods its banks, the devastation can be enormous. What will become of our country if the levees do not hold? 

Harvard economist George Borjas has found no net economic benefit from mass migration from the Third World. In his study, the added costs of schooling, health care, welfare, prisons, plus the added pressure on land, water, and power resources, exceeded the taxes that immigrants pay. The National Bureau of Economic Research put the cost of immigration at $80 billion in 1995. What are the benefits, then, that justify the risk of the balkanization of America?

Today there are 28.4 million foreign-born persons living in the United States. Half are from Latin America and the Caribbean, one fourth from Asia. The rest are from Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. One in every five New Yorkers and Floridians is foreign-born, as is one of every four Californians. As the United States allots most of its immigrant visas to relatives of new arrivals, it is difficult for Europeans to be admitted to the U.S., while entire villages from El Salvador have settled here easily.

? A third of the legal immigrants who come to the United States have not finished high school. Some 22 percent do not even have a ninth-grade education, compared to less than 5 percent of our native-born.

 ? Of the immigrants who have arrived since 1980, 60 percent still do not earn $20,000 a year.

? Immigrant use of food stamps, Supplemental Security Income, and school lunch programs runs from 50 percent to 100 percent higher than use by the native born.

? By 1991, foreign nationals accounted for 24 percent of all arrests in Los Angeles and 36 percent of all arrests in Miami.

 ? In 1980, federal and state prisons housed 9,000 criminal aliens. By 1995, this number had soared to 59,000, a figure that does not include aliens who became citizens, or the criminals sent over from Cuba by Fidel Castro in the Mariel boat lift.

Mass emigration from poor Third World countries is good for business, especially businesses that employ large numbers of workers at low wages. But what is good for corporate America is not necessarily good for Middle America. When it comes to open borders, the corporate interest and the national interest do not coincide; they collide. Mass immigration raises more critical issues than jobs or wages?immigration is ultimately about America herself. Is the U.S. government, by deporting scarcely 1 percent of illegal aliens a year, failing in its Constitutional duty to protect the rights of American citizens? 

Most of the people who leave their homelands to come to America, whether from Mexico or Mauritania, are good, decent people. They seek the same freedom and opportunities our ancestors sought.

But today's record number of immigrants arriving from cultures that have little in common with our own raises a question: What is a nation? Some define a nation as one people of common ancestry, language, literature, history, heritage, heroes, traditions, customs, mores, and faith who have lived together over time in the same land under the same rulers. Among those who pressed this definition were Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, who laid down these conditions on immigrants: "They must cast off the European skin, never to resume it. They must look forward to their posterity rather than backward to their ancestors." Woodrow Wilson, speaking to newly naturalized Americans in 1915 in Philadelphia, declared: "A man who thinks of himself as belonging to a particular national group in America has yet to become an American."

But Americans no longer agree on values, history, or heroes. What one half of America sees as a glorious past, the other views as shameful and wicked. Columbus, Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, and Lee?all of them heroes of the old America?are under attack. Equality and freedom, those most American of words, today hold different meanings for different Americans.

Nor is a shared belief in democracy sufficient to hold a people together. Half the nation did not even bother to vote in the Presidential election of 2000. Millions cannot name their congressman, senator, or the justices of the Supreme Court. They do not care. We live in the same country, we are governed by the same leaders. But are we one nation and one people?

It is hard to believe that over one million immigrants every year, from every country on earth, a third of them entering illegally, will reforge the bonds of our disuniting nation. John Stuart Mill cautioned that unified public opinion is "necessary to the working of representative government." We are about to find out if he was right.
26656  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud (ACORN et al), corruption etc. on: May 19, 2010, 08:07:43 PM
Excellent follow up on this BBG.  Thank you.
26657  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: May 19, 2010, 06:18:20 PM
6.67 miles today with 45 pounds at Bluff Cove.
26658  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: May 19, 2010, 04:17:44 PM
Although this article is thoughtful and well-informed, I think the better point is to throw out these laws altogether as violations of the First Amendment.

Editor's note: The following article is co-authored by former Federal Election Commissioners Joan Aikens, Lee Ann Elliott, Thomas Josefiak, David Mason, Bradley Smith, Hans A. von Spakovsky, Michael Toner and Darryl R. Wold:

As former commissioners on the Federal Election Commission with almost 75 years of combined experience, we believe that the bill proposed on April 30 by Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Chris Van Hollen to "blunt" the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC is unnecessary, partially duplicative of existing law, and severely burdensome to the right to engage in political speech and advocacy.

Moreover, the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act, or Disclose Act, abandons the longstanding policy of treating unions and businesses equally, suggesting partisan motives that undermine respect for campaign finance laws.

At least one of us served on the FEC at all times from its inception in 1975 through August 2008. We are well aware of the practical difficulties involved in enforcing the overly complex Federal Election Campaign Act and the problems posed by additional laws that curtail the ability of Americans to participate in the political process.

As we noted in our amicus brief supporting Citizens United, the FEC now has regulations for 33 types of contributions and speech and 71 different types of speakers. Regardless of the abstract merit of the various arguments for and against limits on political contributions and spending, this very complexity raises serious concerns about whether the law can be enforced consistent with the First Amendment.

View Full Image

Martin Kozlowski
 .Those regulatory burdens often fall hardest not on large-scale players in the political world but on spontaneous grass-roots movements, upstart, low-budget campaigns, and unwitting volunteers. Violating the law by engaging in forbidden political speech can land you in a federal prison, a very un-American notion. The Disclose Act exacerbates many of these problems and is a blatant attempt by its sponsors to do indirectly, through excessively onerous regulatory requirements, what the Supreme Court told Congress it cannot do directly—restrict political speech.

Perhaps the most striking thing about the Disclose Act is that, while the Supreme Court overturned limits on spending by both corporations and unions, Disclose seeks to reimpose them only on corporations. The FEC must constantly fight to overcome the perception that the law is merely a partisan tool of dominant political interests. Failure to maintain an evenhanded approach towards unions and corporations threatens public confidence in the integrity of the electoral system.

For example, while the Disclose Act prohibits any corporation with a federal contract of $50,000 or more from making independent expenditures or electioneering communications, no such prohibition applies to unions. This $50,000 trigger is so low it would exclude thousands of corporations from engaging in constitutionally protected political speech, the very core of the First Amendment. Yet public employee unions negotiate directly with the government for benefits many times the value of contracts that would trigger the corporate ban.

This prohibition is supposedly needed to address concerns that government contractors might use the political process to steer contracts their way; but unions have exactly the same conflict of interest. So do other recipients of federal funds, such as nonprofit organizations that receive federal grants and earmarks. Yet there is no ban on their independent political expenditures.

Disclose also bans expenditures on political advocacy by American corporations with 20% or more foreign ownership, but there is no such ban on unions—such as the Service Employees International Union, or the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers—that have large numbers of foreign members and foreign nationals as directors.

Existing law already prohibits foreign nationals, including corporations headquartered or incorporated outside of the U.S., from participating in any U.S. election. Thus Disclose does not ban foreign speech but speech by American citizen shareholders of U.S. companies that have some element of foreign ownership, even when those foreigners have no control over the decisions made by the Americans who run the company.

For example, companies such as Verizon Wireless, a Delaware corporation headquartered in New Jersey with 83,000 U.S. employees and 91 million U.S. customers, would be silenced because of the British Vodafone's minority ownership in the corporation. But competing telecommunications companies could spend money to influence elections or issues being debated in Congress.

The new disclosure requirements are unnecessary, duplicating information already available to the public or providing information of low value at a significant cost in reduced clarity for grass-roots political speech. In many 30-second ads, Disclose would require no fewer than six statements as to who is paying for the ad (the current law already requires one such statement). These disclaimers would take up as much as half of every ad.

The Disclose Act also creates new disclosure requirements for nonprofit advocacy groups that speak out. These groups already have to disclose their sponsorship, but Disclose requires them to go further and provide the government with a membership list. This infringes on the First Amendment rights of private associations recognized by the Supreme Court in NAACP v. Alabama. Groups can avoid this only by creating a new type of political action committee called a "campaign related activities account."

The result of these overly complex and unnecessary provisions is to force nonprofits to choose between two options that have each been found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court: Either disclose their members to the government or restrict their political spending to the campaign related activities account. This runs contrary to the explicit holding in Citizens United that corporations (and unions) may engage in political speech using their general treasuries.

These requirements will be especially burdensome to small businesses and grass-roots organizations, which typically lack the resources for compliance. So the end effect of all of this "enhanced disclosure" will be to ensure that only large corporations, unions and advocacy groups can make political expenditures—the exact opposite of what the sponsors claim to desire.

While the Disclose Act does include an exemption for major media corporations, it does not include websites or the Internet, which means the government can regulate (and potentially censor) political dialogue on the Web. Additionally, the law would require any business or organization making political expenditures to create and maintain an extensive, highly sophisticated website with advanced search features to track its political activities.

As a result, small businesses, grass-roots organizations, and union locals that maintain only basic websites would be discouraged from making any expenditures for political advocacy, because doing so would require them to spend thousands of dollars to upgrade their websites and purchase software to report information that is already readily available to the public from the FEC. Large companies and unions could probably meet this requirement, so once again the bill benefits large, institutional players over small businesses and grass-roots organizations.

The Disclose Act's abandonment of the historical matching treatment of unions and corporations will cause a substantial portion of the public to doubt the law's fairness and impartiality. It makes election law even more complex, more incomprehensible to ordinary voters, and more open to subjective enforcement by those seeking partisan gain.
26659  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The First Amendment on: May 19, 2010, 04:16:08 PM
The subject matter of this thread will now be handled in the "Issues in the American Creed" thread on the SCH forum.
26660  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: May 19, 2010, 04:14:15 PM

That is a very nice article and very practical for citing.  Good find!
26661  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / BJ Penn with Guro Dan Inosanto on: May 18, 2010, 03:27:10 PM
26662  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Zo! on: May 18, 2010, 01:43:44 PM
26663  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hospital visitation denied? on: May 18, 2010, 01:36:30 PM
26664  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, & the US Dollar on: May 18, 2010, 11:52:44 AM
Said with love, but I think you have been distracted by matters that are essentially irrelevant.  Fed announcements about interest rate policy and all the rest of it ultimately are not the point.

The point is this:  We are living beyond our means.  Government spending is out of control, and it is already in the entitlement pipeline that it will be more out of control.    If we cut it back, then all will be well.  If we don't, it won't.

26665  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 18, 2010, 11:47:43 AM
@GM:  Well, back in my hippy dippy days in the 60s the numbers were far, far smaller AND I was , , , dippy.  Stil,l I did notice that Nixon's anti-pot campaign against Mexico had the effect of jump-starting the cocaine trade which now poisons everything in Mexico.  Shrewd, real shrewd  rolleyes   In the 70s, I discovered that my anti-authorian nature was more at home on the right than the left (my micro and macro econ courses at U. Penn played a big role here) and I began seriousl travel and study in Mexico and about Mexico at Penn.  My studies at Penn educated me inter alia about the demographics of the Mexican population growth rate and the political-economics of its economy.  In the 1980's I regarded Reagan's amnesty as a reasonable compromise that would solve the growing problem.  In the 1990s I saw that the Feds did not keep the promise of the Reagan compromise to defend the border in return for amnesty.  So, now, in this millenium I apply the saying "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice shame on me."

I like Mexico.  I like Mexicans.  Mexico was my focus country when I majored in International Relations at U. of PA.  I speak Spanish, rather well I might add, when I go to Mexico.  I only get into Mexico when they let me do so and as required by Mexican law I carry my tourist visa with me when I am there.  When I spent the summer after my first year of law school working for the largest law firm in Mexico (I had spent a semester at a Mexican law school between getting my BA at U Penn and entering Columbia law school here in the US) I had to comply with Mexican law in order to do so.


JDN's post plants the question fairly, and I think GM answers it well.   PC nails the disingenuous nature of the POTH piece.
26666  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues on: May 18, 2010, 11:21:24 AM

The irony there is extraordinary.

We'll need to see the actual agreement before passing judgment I suppose, but ultimately, as we have noted here all along, sanctions are more a tactic to keep Israel from acting than a genuine strategy for stopping Iran from going nuclear.  Still, if there is anything of this sanctions agreement, it will be interesting to see how, given its editorial which I posted earlier this morning, the WSJ reacts.


Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Tue, May 18, 2010 -- 10:39 AM ET

Clinton Says U.S., China and Russia Have Deal on New Iran Sanctions

The Obama administration announced Tuesday morning that it
has struck a deal with other major powers, including Russia
and China, to impose new sanctions on Iran, a sharp
repudiation of the deal Tehran offered just a day before to
ship its nuclear fuel out of the country.

"We have reached agreement on a strong draft with the
cooperation of both Russia and China," Secretary of State
Hillary Rodham Clinton told a Senate committee. "We plan to
circulate that draft resolution to the entire Security
Council today. And let me say, Mr. Chairman, I think this
announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts
undertaken in Tehran over the last few days as any we could

The announcement came just a day after Iran said it would
ship roughly half of its nuclear fuel to Turkey in a bid to
assuage concerns about its program.

Read More:
26667  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: May 18, 2010, 08:44:53 AM
President Obama guaranteed Americans that after health reform became law they could keep their insurance plans and their doctors. It's clear that this promise cannot be kept. Insurers and physicians are already reshaping their businesses as a result of Mr. Obama's plan.

The health-reform law caps how much insurers can spend on expenses and take for profits. Starting next year, health plans will have a regulated "floor" on their medical-loss ratios, which is the amount of revenue they spend on medical claims. Insurers can only spend 20% of their premiums on running their plans if they offer policies directly to consumers or to small employers. The spending cap is 15% for policies sold to large employers.  This regulation is going to have its biggest impact on insurance sold directly to consumers—what's referred to as the "individual market." These policies cost more to market. They also have higher medical costs, owing partly to selection by less healthy consumers. Finally, individual policies have high start-up costs. If insurers cannot spend more of their revenue getting plans on track, fewer new policies will be offered.

This will hit Wellpoint, one of the biggest players in the individual market, particularly hard. The insurance company already has a strained relationship with the White House: Earlier this month Mr. Obama accused Wellpoint of systemically denying coverage to breast cancer patients, though the facts don't bear that out.

Restrictions on how insurers can spend money are compounded by simultaneous constraints on how they can manage their costs. Beginning in 2014, a new federal agency will standardize insurance benefits, placing minimum actuarial values on medical policies. There are also mandates forcing insurers to cover a lot of expensive primary-care services in full. At the same time, insurers are being blocked from raising premiums—for now by political jawboning, but the threat of legislative restrictions looms.

One of the few remaining ways to manage expenses is to reduce the actual cost of the products. In health care, this means pushing providers to accept lower fees and reduce their use of costly services like radiology or other diagnostic testing.

To implement this strategy, companies need to be able to exert more control over doctors. So insurers are trying to buy up medical clinics and doctor practices. Where they can't own providers outright, they'll maintain smaller "networks" of physicians that they will contract with so they can manage doctors more closely. That means even fewer choices for beneficiaries. Insurers hope that owning providers will enable health policies to offset the cost of the new regulations.

Doctors, meanwhile, are selling their practices to local hospitals. In 2005, doctors owned more than two-thirds of all medical practices. By next year, more than 60% of physicians will be salaried employees. About a third of those will be working for hospitals, according to the American Medical Association. A review of the open job searches held by one of the country's largest physician-recruiting firms shows that nearly 50% are for jobs in hospitals, up from about 25% five years ago.

Last month, a hospital I'm affiliated with outside of Manhattan sent a note to its physicians announcing a new subsidiary it's forming to buy up local medical practices. Nearby physicians are lining up to sell—and not just primary-care doctors, but highly paid specialists like orthopedic surgeons and neurologists. Similar developments are unfolding nationwide.

Consolidated practices and salaried doctors will leave fewer options for patients and longer waiting times for routine appointments. Like the insurers, physicians are responding to the economic burdens of the president's plan in one of the few ways they're permitted to.

For physicians, the strains include higher operating costs. The Obama health plan puts expensive new mandates on doctors, such as a requirement to purchase IT systems and keep more records. Overhead costs already consume more than 60% of the revenue generated by an average medical practice, according to a 2007 survey by the Medical Group Management Association. At the same time, reimbursement under Medicare is falling. Some specialists, such as radiologists and cardiologists, will see their Medicare payments fall by more than 10% next year. Then there's the fact that medical malpractice premiums have risen by 10%-20% annually for specialists like surgeons, particularly in states that haven't passed liability reform.

The bottom line: Defensive business arrangements designed to blunt ObamaCare's economic impacts will mean less patient choice.

Dr. Gottlieb, a former official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a practicing internist. He's partner to a firm that invests in health-care companies.
26668  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: on: May 18, 2010, 08:40:09 AM
What a fiasco. That's the first word that comes to mind watching Mahmoud Ahmadinejad raise his arms yesterday with the leaders of Turkey and Brazil to celebrate a new atomic pact that instantly made irrelevant 16 months of President Obama's "diplomacy." The deal is a political coup for Tehran and possibly delivers the coup de grace to the West's half-hearted efforts to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb.

Full credit for this debacle goes to the Obama Administration and its hapless diplomatic strategy. Last October, nine months into its engagement with Tehran, the White House concocted a plan to transfer some of Iran's uranium stock abroad for enrichment. If the West couldn't stop Iran's program, the thinking was that maybe this scheme would delay it. The Iranians played coy, then refused to accept the offer.

But Mr. Obama doesn't take no for an answer from rogue regimes, and so he kept the offer on the table. As the U.S. finally seemed ready to go to the U.N. Security Council for more sanctions, the Iranians chose yesterday to accept the deal on their own limited terms while enlisting the Brazilians and Turks as enablers and political shields. "Diplomacy emerged victorious today," declared Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, turning Mr. Obama's own most important foreign-policy principle against him.

The double embarrassment is that the U.S. had encouraged Lula's diplomacy as a step toward winning his support for U.N. sanctions. Brazil is currently one of the nonpermanent, rotating members of the Security Council, and the U.S. has wanted a unanimous U.N. vote. Instead, Lula used the opening to triangulate his own diplomatic solution. In her first game of high-stakes diplomatic poker, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leaving the table dressed only in a barrel.

So instead of the U.S. and Europe backing Iran into a corner this spring, Mr. Ahmadinejad has backed Mr. Obama into one. America's discomfort is obvious. In its statement yesterday, the White House strained to "acknowledge the efforts" by Turkey and Brazil while noting "Iran's repeated failure to live up to its own commitments." The White House also sought to point out differences between yesterday's pact and the original October agreements on uranium transfers.

Good luck drawing those distinctions with the Chinese or Russians, who will now be less likely to agree even to weak sanctions. Having played so prominent a role in last October's talks with Iran, the U.S. can't easily disassociate itself from something broadly in line with that framework.

Under the terms unveiled yesterday, Iran said it would send 1,200 kilograms (2,646 lbs.) of low-enriched uranium to Turkey within a month, and no more than a year later get back 120 kilograms enriched from somewhere else abroad. This makes even less sense than the flawed October deal. In the intervening seven months, Iran has kicked its enrichment activities into higher gear. Its estimated total stock has gone to 2,300 kilograms from 1,500 kilograms last autumn, and its stated enrichment goal has gone to 20% from 3.5%.

If the West accepts this deal, Iran would be allowed to keep enriching uranium in contravention of previous U.N. resolutions. Removing 1,200 kilograms will leave Iran with still enough low-enriched stock to make a bomb, and once uranium is enriched up to 20% it is technically easier to get to bomb-capable enrichment levels.

Only last week, diplomats at the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran has increased the number of centrifuges it is using to enrich uranium. According to Western intelligence estimates, Iran continues to acquire key nuclear components, such as trigger mechanisms for bombs. Tehran says it wants to build additional uranium enrichment plants. The CIA recently reported that Iran tripled its stockpile of uranium last year and moved "toward self-sufficiency in the production of nuclear missiles." Yesterday's deal will have no impact on these illicit activities.

The deal will, however, make it nearly impossible to disrupt Iran's nuclear program short of military action. The U.N. is certainly a dead end. After 16 months of his extended hand and after downplaying support for Iran's democratic opposition, Mr. Obama now faces an Iran much closer to a bomb and less diplomatically isolated than when President Bush left office.

Israel will have to seriously consider its military options. Such a confrontation is far more likely thanks to the diplomatic double-cross of Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazil's Lula, and especially to a U.S. President whose diplomacy has succeeded mainly in persuading the world's rogues that he lacks the determination to stop their destructive ambitions.
26669  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Doomsayers Beware on: May 18, 2010, 08:06:55 AM
Doomsayers Beware, a Bright Future Beckons
Published: May 17, 2010
Long before “sustainable” became a buzzword, intellectuals wondered how long industrial society could survive. In “The Idea of Decline in Western History,” after surveying predictions from the mid-19th century until today, the historian Arthur Herman identifies two consistently dominant schools of thought.

The first school despairs because it foresees inevitable ruin. The second school is hopeful — but only because these intellectuals foresee ruin, too, and can hardly wait for the decadent modern world to be replaced by one more to their liking. Every now and then, someone comes along to note that society has failed to collapse and might go on prospering, but the notion is promptly dismissed in academia as happy talk from a simpleton. Predicting that the world will not end is also pretty good insurance against a prolonged stay on the best-seller list. Have you read Julian Simon’s “The State of Humanity”? Indur Goklany’s “The Improving State of the World”? Gregg Easterbrook’s “Sonic Boom”?

Good books all, and so is the newest addition to this slender canon, “The Rational Optimist,” by Matt Ridley. It does much more than debunk the doomsaying. Dr. Ridley provides a grand unified theory of history from the Stone Age to the better age awaiting us in 2100.

It’s an audacious task, but he has the intellectual breadth for it. A trained zoologist and former editor at The Economist, Dr. Ridley has established himself in previous books, like “The Origins of Virtue” and “Genome,” as the supreme synthesist of lessons from anthropology, psychology, molecular genetics, economics and game theory. This time he takes on all of human history, starting with our mysteriously successful debut. What made Homo sapiens so special? Dr. Ridley argues that it wasn’t our big brain, because Neanderthals had a big brain, too. Nor was it our willingness to help one another, because apes and other social animals also had an instinct for reciprocity.

“At some point,” Dr. Ridley writes, “after millions of years of indulging in reciprocal back-scratching of gradually increasing intensity, one species, and one alone, stumbled upon an entirely different trick. Adam gave Oz an object in exchange for a different object.”

The evidence for this trick is in perforated seashells from more than 80,000 years ago that ended up far from the nearest coast, an indication that inlanders were bartering to get ornamental seashells from coastal dwellers. Unlike the contemporary Neanderthals, who apparently relied just on local resources, those modern humans could shop for imports.

“The extraordinary promise of this event was that Adam potentially now had access to objects he did not know how to make or find; and so did Oz,” Dr. Ridley writes. People traded goods, services and, most important, knowledge, creating a collective intelligence: “Ten individuals could know between them ten things, while each understanding one.”

As they specialized and exchanged, humans learned how to domesticate crops and animals and sell food to passing merchants. Traders congregated in the first cities and built ships that spread goods and ideas around the world.

The Phoenician merchants who sailed the Mediterranean were denounced by Hebrew prophets like Isaiah and Greek intellectuals like Homer. But trading networks enabled the ancient Greeks to develop their alphabet, mathematics and science, and later fostered innovation in the trading hubs of the Roman Empire, India, China, Arabia, Renaissance Italy and other European capitals.

Rulers like to take credit for the advances during their reigns, and scientists like to see their theories as the source of technological progress. But Dr. Ridley argues that they’ve both got it backward: traders’ wealth builds empires, and entrepreneurial tinkerers are more likely to inspire scientists than vice versa. From Stone Age seashells to the steam engine to the personal computer, innovation has mostly been a bottom-up process.

“Forget wars, religions, famines and poems for the moment,” Dr. Ridley writes. “This is history’s greatest theme: the metastasis of exchange, specialization and the invention it has called forth, the ‘creation’ of time.”

You can appreciate the timesaving benefits through a measure devised by the economist William D. Nordhaus: how long it takes the average worker to pay for an hour of reading light. In ancient Babylon, it took more than 50 hours to pay for that light from a sesame-oil lamp. In 1800, it took more than six hours of work to pay for it from a tallow candle. Today, thanks to the countless specialists producing electricity and compact fluorescent bulbs, it takes less than a second. That technological progress, though, was sporadic. Innovation would flourish in one trading hub for a while but then stagnate, sometimes because of external predators — roving pirates, invading barbarians — but more often because of internal parasites, as Dr. Ridley writes:

“Empires bought stability at the price of creating a parasitic court; monotheistic religions bought social cohesion at the expense of a parasitic priestly class; nationalism bought power at the expense of a parasitic military; socialism bought equality at the price of a parasitic bureaucracy; capitalism bought efficiency at the price of parasitic financiers.”

Progress this century could be impeded by politics, wars, plagues or climate change, but Dr. Ridley argues that, as usual, the “apocaholics” are overstating the risks and underestimating innovative responses.

“The modern world is a history of ideas meeting, mixing, mating and mutating,” Dr. Ridley writes. “And the reason that economic growth has accelerated so in the past two centuries is down to the fact that ideas have been mixing more than ever before.”

Our progress is unsustainable, he argues, only if we stifle innovation and trade, the way China and other empires did in the past. Is that possible? Well, European countries are already banning technologies based on the precautionary principle requiring advance proof that they’re risk-free. Americans are turning more protectionist and advocating byzantine restrictions like carbon tariffs. Globalization is denounced by affluent Westerners preaching a return to self-sufficiency.

But with new hubs of innovation emerging elsewhere, and with ideas spreading faster than ever on the Internet, Dr. Ridley expects bottom-up innovators to prevail. His prediction for the rest of the century: “Prosperity spreads, technology progresses, poverty declines, disease retreats, fecundity falls, happiness increases, violence atrophies, freedom grows, knowledge flourishes, the environment improves and wilderness expands.”

If you’re not ready to trust an optimist, if you still fear a reckoning is at hand, you might consider the words of Thomas B. Macaulay, a British poet, historian and politician who criticized doomsayers of the mid-1800s.

“We cannot absolutely prove,” he wrote, “that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us, and with just as much apparent reason.”
26670  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / NYT: A new clue to explain existence on: May 18, 2010, 07:58:30 AM
A New Clue to Explain Existence
Published: May 17, 2010

Physicists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory are reporting that they have discovered a new clue that could help unravel one of the biggest mysteries of cosmology: why the universe is composed of matter and not its evil-twin opposite, antimatter. If confirmed, the finding portends fundamental discoveries at the new Large Hadron Collider outside Geneva, as well as a possible explanation for our own existence.

In a mathematically perfect universe, we would be less than dead; we would never have existed. According to the basic precepts of Einsteinian relativity and quantum mechanics, equal amounts of matter and antimatter should have been created in the Big Bang and then immediately annihilated each other in a blaze of lethal energy, leaving a big fat goose egg with which to make stars, galaxies and us. And yet we exist, and physicists (among others) would dearly like to know why.

Sifting data from collisions of protons and antiprotons at Fermilab’s Tevatron, which until last winter was the most powerful particle accelerator in the world, the team, known as the DZero collaboration, found that the fireballs produced pairs of the particles known as muons, which are sort of fat electrons, slightly more often than they produced pairs of anti-muons. So the miniature universe inside the accelerator went from being neutral to being about 1 percent more matter than antimatter.

“This result may provide an important input for explaining the matter dominance in our universe,” Guennadi Borissov, a co-leader of the study from Lancaster University, in England, said in a talk Friday at Fermilab, in Batavia, Ill. Over the weekend, word spread quickly among physicists. Maria Spiropulu of CERN and the California Institute of Technology called the results “very impressive and inexplicable.”

The results have now been posted on the Internet and submitted to the Physical Review.

It was Andrei Sakharov, the Russian dissident and physicist, who first provided a recipe for how matter could prevail over antimatter in the early universe. Among his conditions was that there be a slight difference in the properties of particles and antiparticles known technically as CP violation. In effect, when the charges and spins of particles are reversed, they should behave slightly differently. Over the years, physicists have discovered a few examples of CP violation in rare reactions between subatomic particles that tilt slightly in favor of matter over antimatter, but “not enough to explain our existence,” in the words of Gustaaf Brooijmans of Columbia, who is a member of the DZero team.

The new effect hinges on the behavior of particularly strange particles called neutral B-mesons, which are famous for not being able to make up their minds. They oscillate back and forth trillions of times a second between their regular state and their antimatter state. As it happens, the mesons, created in the proton-antiproton collisions, seem to go from their antimatter state to their matter state more rapidly than they go the other way around, leading to an eventual preponderance of matter over antimatter of about 1 percent, when they decay to muons.

Whether this is enough to explain our existence is a question that cannot be answered until the cause of the still-mysterious behavior of the B-mesons is directly observed, said Dr. Brooijmans, who called the situation “fairly encouraging.”

The observed preponderance is about 50 times what is predicted by the Standard Model, the suite of theories that has ruled particle physics for a generation, meaning that whatever is causing the B-meson to act this way is “new physics” that physicists have been yearning for almost as long.

Dr. Brooijmans said that the most likely explanations were some new particle not predicted by the Standard Model or some new kind of interaction between particles. Luckily, he said, “this is something we should be able to poke at with the Large Hadron Collider.”

Neal Weiner of New York University said, “If this holds up, the L.H.C. is going to be producing some fantastic results.”

Nevertheless, physicists will be holding their breath until the results are confirmed by other experiments.

Joe Lykken, a theorist at Fermilab, said, “So I would not say that this announcement is the equivalent of seeing the face of God, but it might turn out to be the toe of God.”
26671  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: States Rights on: May 18, 2010, 07:32:51 AM
Should I have said Miss USA instead of Miss America?
26672  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: May 18, 2010, 07:29:51 AM
I must say that I feel sick to my stomach at the environmental disaster that is unfolding in slow motion in the Gulf.

26673  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: May 18, 2010, 07:24:56 AM
Wow, just wow.

For those who don't remember this clip, it was of Senator Boxer laying into a General for calling her "Ma'am", instead of "Senator".  She really came off looking quite bad.

If I have this right, it now it looks like Youtube has participated in sending this embarassment to a powerful Progressive politician down the memory hole.

Wow, just wow  cry cry cry angry angry angry

We fight for our country, to protect and preserve our Constitution.
26674  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Here is POTH's spin on things on: May 18, 2010, 07:18:27 AM
MIAMI — Meaghan Patrick, a junior at New College of Florida, a tiny liberal arts college in Sarasota, says discussing immigration with her older relatives is like “hitting your head against a brick wall.”

“I just feel like it’s unfair what the government does to immigrants.” ANDREA BONVECCHIO, 17-year-old U.S.-born daughter of a naturalized citizen.
Cathleen McCarthy, a senior at the University of Arizona, says immigration is the rare, radioactive topic that sparks arguments with her liberal mother and her grandmother.
“Many older Americans feel threatened by the change that immigration presents,” Ms. McCarthy said. “Young people today have simply been exposed to a more accepting worldview.”

Forget sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll; immigration is a new generational fault line.

In the wake of the new Arizona law allowing the police to detain people they suspect of entering the country illegally, young people are largely displaying vehement opposition — leading protests on Monday at Senator John McCain’s offices in Tucson, and at the game here between the Florida Marlins and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Meanwhile, baby boomers, despite a youth of “live and let live,” are siding with older Americans and supporting the Arizona law.

This emerging divide has appeared in a handful of surveys taken since the measure was signed into law, including a New York Times/CBS News poll this month that found that Americans 45 and older were more likely than the young to say the Arizona law was “about right” (as opposed to “going too far” or “not far enough”). Boomers were also more likely to say that “no newcomers” should be allowed to enter the country while more young people favored a “welcome all” approach.

The generational conflict could complicate chances of a federal immigration overhaul any time soon. “The hardening of this divide spells further stalemate,” said Roberto Suro, the former head of the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center.

And the causes are partly linked to experience. Demographically, younger and older Americans grew up in vastly different worlds. Those born after the civil rights era lived in a country of high rates of legal and illegal immigration. In their neighborhoods and schools, the presence of immigrants was as hard to miss as a Starbucks today.

In contrast, baby boomers and older Americans — even those who fought for integration — came of age in one of the most homogenous moments in the country’s history.

Immigration, which census figures show declined sharply from the Depression through the 1960s, reached a historic low point the year after Woodstock. From 1860 through 1920, 13 percent to 15 percent of the country was foreign born — a rate similar to today’s, when immigrants make up about 12.5 percent of the country.

But in 1970, only 4.7 percent of the country was foreign born, and most of those immigrants were older Europeans, often unnoticed by the boomer generation born from 1946 to 1964.

Boomers and their parents also spent their formative years away from the cities, where newer immigrants tended to gather — unlike today’s young people who have become more involved with immigrants, through college, or by moving to urban areas.

“It’s hard for them to share each others’ views on what’s going on,” said William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution. “These older people grew up in largely white suburbs or largely segregated neighborhoods. Young people have grown up in an interracial culture.”

The generation gap is especially pronounced in formerly fast-growing states like Arizona and Florida, where retirees and new immigrants have flocked — one group for sun, the other for work.

In a new report based on census figures titled “The State of Metropolitan America,” Mr. Frey found that Arizona has the largest “cultural generation gap,” as he calls it, between older Americans who are largely white (83 percent in Arizona’s case) and children under 18 who are increasingly members of minorities (57 percent in Arizona’s case).

Florida ranks sixth on Mr. Frey’s cultural generation gap list, with a 29 percentage point difference between the percentage of white people among its older residents and the percentage that whites make up of its children.

That very different makeup of the young and the old can lead t0 tensions. Demographers say it has the potential to produce public policy that alienates the young because older people are more likely to vote and less likely to be connected to the perspectives of youth — especially the perspectives of young people of different races and national origins.

“Short term, politically, the age divide heightens polarization,” Mr. Suro said “Long term,” he added, “there’s the challenge of whether older citizens will pay for the education of the children of immigrants.”


(Page 2 of 2)

Some older Americans acknowledge that how they grew up has shaped their opinions. Mike Lombardi, 56, of Litchfield, Ariz. — one of 1,079 respondents in the Times/CBS poll conducted from April 28 to May 2 — said his support for his state’s new law stemmed partly from the shock of seeing gaggles of immigrants outside Home Depot, who he assumed were illegal. Comparing the situation to his youth in Torrance, Calif., in a follow-up interview, he said, “You didn’t see anything like what you see now.”

Maggie Aspillaga, 62, a Cuban immigrant in Miami, had more specific concerns: a risk of crime from illegal immigrants and the costs in health care and other services. “They’re taking resources,” she said.
Some young people agree, of course, just as many baby boomers support more open immigration policies. In the poll, a majority of Americans in all age groups described illegal immigration as a “very serious” problem.

Still, divisions were pronounced by age: for instance, while 41 percent of Americans ages 45 to 64 and 36 percent of older Americans said immigration levels should be decreased, only 24 percent of those younger than 45 said so.

Ms. Patrick, 22, said the gap reflected what each group saw as normal. In her view, current immigration levels — legal and illegal — represent “the natural course of history.”

As children, after all, her generation watched “Sesame Street” with Hispanic characters, many of them sat in classrooms that were a virtual United Nations, and now they marry across ethnic lines in record numbers. Their children are even adopting mixed monikers like “Mexipino,” (Mexican and Filipino) and “Blaxican” (black and Mexican).

That “multiculti” (short for multicultural) United States is not without challenges. Aparna Malladi, 31, a graduate student at Florida International University originally from India, said that when she first entered laboratories in Miami, it took a while for her to learn the customs.

“I didn’t know that when I enter a room, I have to greet everyone and say goodbye when I leave,” Ms. Malladi said. “People thought I was being rude.”

Still, in interviews across the nation, young people emphasized the benefits of immigrants. Andrea Bonvecchio, 17, the daughter of a naturalized citizen from Venezuela, said going to a high school that is “like 98 percent Hispanic” meant she could find friends who enjoyed both Latin music and her favorite movie, “The Parent Trap.”

Nicole Vespia, 18, of Selden, N.Y., said older people who were worried about immigrants stealing jobs were giving up on an American ideal: capitalist meritocracy.

“If someone works better than I do, they deserve to get the job,” Ms. Vespia said. “I work in a stockroom, and my best workers are people who don’t really speak English. It’s cool to get to know them.”

Her parents’ generation, she added, just needs to adapt.

“My stepdad says, ‘Why do I have to press 1 for English?’ I think that’s ridiculous,” Ms. Vespia said, referring to the common instruction on customer-service lines. “It’s not that big of a deal. Quit crying about it. Press the button.”
26675  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The World Wide Crack Up Boom on: May 18, 2010, 12:35:36 AM
and, here's this:

The Worldwide Crack Up Boom, According to Ludwig Von Mises
By Bill Bonner • June 26th, 2007 • Related Articles • Filed Under
About the AuthorBest-selling investment author Bill Bonner is the founder and president of Agora Publishing, one of the world's most successful consumer newsletter companies. Owner of both Fleet Street Publications and MoneyWeek magazine in the UK, he is also author of the free daily e-mail The Daily Reckoning.
See All Articles by This Author

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Filed Under: Market
The Worldwide Crack Up Boom, According to Ludwig Von Mises9.6108
A kiss is still a kiss. A sigh is still a sigh. And a bubble is still a bubble.

When a kiss is over, it's over. When a bubble pops...well...that's all she wrote! All kisses end - even the wettest "French" kisses. And so do all bubbles - even sloppy mega-bubbles of liquidity. This one will be no exception. But of course, it's not the certainties that make life's the uncertainties - the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns, as Mr. Rumsfeld says. We are all born of woman and end up where all men born of women end up - dead. But that doesn't mean we can't have some fun between baptism and last rites.

You'll remember we said that this worldwide financial bubble is both worldlier, and more financial than any in history.

And, for the moment, it is very much alive. So much alive that the media can hardly keep up with it. Forbes magazine, for example, tries to estimate the wealth of the world's richest people. But the rich don't typically give out their balance sheets, telephone numbers and home addresses. So, there's a fair amount of guesswork in the calculations.

But when it came to guesstimating the net worth of Stephen Schwarzman, founder of Blackstone, the Forbes crew wandered off into fiction. They put his wealth at about $2 billion. Recent filings in connection with the new Blackstone IPO show he earned that much in a single year!

In this phase of the bubble, it is as if your neighbors were throwing a wild party - and you weren't invited. You detest them... envy them... and want to join them, all at once. A very small part of the population is having a ball; everyone else is getting restless and wondering when the noise will stop.

We wish we knew. And we've given up guessing.

Meanwhile, the experts, commentarists, kibitzers and analysts are saying that there is a whole new phase of the giant bubble about to unfold; things could get a whole lot crazier. Even many of our respected colleagues are pointing to a text by the great Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises, for a clue. What we have here, they say, is what Mises described as a "Crack-Up Boom."

Before we go on, readers should be aware that the "Austrian school" of economics is probably the best theory about the way the world works. Like The Daily Reckoning, it is suspicious of efforts to control the natural workings of an economy, in general...and suspicious of central banking, in particular. The fact that it was a one-time "Austrian," Alan Greenspan, who became the most celebrated central banker in history, only increases our suspicions. He was able to master central banking, we imagine, because he understood what it really is - a swindle.

What is a "Crack-Up Boom?" Von Mises explains (with thanks to Ty Andros for reminding us):

"'This first stage of the inflationary process may last for many years. While it lasts, the prices of many goods and services are not yet adjusted to the altered money relation. There are still people in the country who have not yet become aware of the fact that they are confronted with a price revolution which will finally result in a considerable rise of all prices, although the extent of this rise will not be the same in the various commodities and services. These people still believe that prices one day will drop. Waiting for this day, they restrict their purchases and concomitantly increase their cash holdings. As long as such ideas are still held by public opinion, it is not yet too late for the government to abandon its inflationary policy.'
"But then, finally, the masses wake up. They become suddenly aware of the fact that inflation is a deliberate policy and will go on endlessly. A breakdown occurs. The crack-up boom appears. Everybody is anxious to swap his money against 'real' goods, no matter whether he needs them or not, no matter how much money he has to pay for them. Within a very short time, within a few weeks or even days, the things which were used as money are no longer used as media of exchange. They become scrap paper. Nobody wants to give away anything against them.

"It was this that happened with the Continental currency in America in 1781, with the French mandats territoriaux in 1796, and with the German mark in 1923. It will happen again whenever the same conditions appear. If a thing has to be used as a medium of exchange, public opinion must not believe that the quantity of this thing will increase beyond all bounds. Inflation is a policy that cannot last."

Mises is describing the lunatic phases of a classic inflationary cycle.

At first, no one can tell the difference between a real dollar - one that is earned, saved, invested or spent - and one that just came off the printing presses. They figure that the new dollar is as good as the old one. And then, prices rise...and people don't know what to make of it. Later, they begin to catch on...and all Hell breaks loose.

You see, if you could really get rich by printing more currency, Zimbabweans would all be as rich as Midas, since the Mugabe government runs the presses night and day.

Von Mises died in 1973 - long before this boom really got going - let alone cracked up. He may never have heard of a hedge fund...or even a derivative, for that matter. A world money system without gold? He probably couldn't have imagined it. People spending millions of dollars for a Warhol? Twenty million for a house in Mayfair? Chinese stocks at 40 times earnings? He would have chuckled in disbelief. He understood how national currency bubbles expand and how they pop, but he probably never would have imagined how insane things could get when you have a whole world monetary system in bubble mode.

He'd have recognised the beginning of this bubble...and he'd have recognised the end, but the middle...or the beginning of the end - that would have dumbfounded him. During his lifetime he saw a Crack Up Boom in Germany in the '20s...and a few more here...but he never saw a worldwide Crack Up Boom.

No one, anywhere, has ever seen a worldwide Crack Up Boom. We're the first, ever. Pretty exciting, huh?

Bill Bonner
The Daily Reckoning Australia
26676  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, & the US Dollar on: May 18, 2010, 12:33:51 AM
Good subject for conversation, but I dunno about those prescriptions.  I know I've heard Roach's name before but can't place him.  I have him vaguely filed as "wrong as a usual matter" but I could be wrong about that.  Regardless, what he calls for here sounds like an awful lot of forecasting and planning , , , by the very people who and institutions which didn't see all this coming.  tongue
     Volcker's actions (which I followed closely as a econ minor at the U of PA while taking a few courses at the Wharton Biz school) were in the context of high inflation, an economy which was running at a high % of capacity, a rapidly declining dollar, a federal government that was about 20-21% of GDP, competition between the private and public sectors to borrow money, lower entitlements with more people working and paying taxes per person taking entitlements, and a federal deficit that was, working from memory here about 3% of GDP and national debt was , , , 40%? of GDP.
     It is not clear to me that our current situation tracks that situation closely.  We have plenty of excess capacity, as the Euro falls, the dollar rises in relation to it, the Fed govt is about 26-28% of GDP, the banking sector is playing the carry trade, entitlements have expanded dramatically and the ratio of working people to entitled people is seriously bad and getting worse (e.g. 2.x people working for every one person on Social Security, which has already gone negative 6 years ahead of projections; and we have Federal deficits of some 10% of GDP as far as the eye can see and in a few years national debt will be 100% of GDP and we don't even think about unfunded liabilities.
    Any solution that does not confront that we are spending more than we make/create is irrelevant at best.
26677  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: May 18, 2010, 12:14:04 AM

At some point one suspects that the laws of gravity and of supply and demand will re-assert themselves.  What do you think happens then?
26678  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Busted! on: May 18, 2010, 12:05:05 AM

Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Senate Candidate From Connecticut, Misstated Service Record

Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat who is running for the United
States Senate from Connecticut, never served in Vietnam,
despite statements to the contrary. The Times has found that
he obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to
1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going
to war.

Read More:
26679  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: States Rights on: May 17, 2010, 06:56:51 PM
Good to see the continuing development of the re-awkening of States Rights, this time without the baggage.

BTW I saw today that the runner-up to Miss America was asked what she thought of the AZ law and she answered that she supported States' Rights!  Maybe that is why she is runner up, or maybe it was to politically perfect that the eventual winner was a Muslim, whom I must say looked quite hot in a lingerie foto on the 'net  wink
26680  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: May 17, 2010, 05:21:43 PM
That reminds me; I gather that May 20th is draw a picture of Mohammed Day, which was organized in the aftermath of the South Park dhimmitude.  Can someone direct me to the URL of where I can find some of the classic Mohammed cartoons?  I want to choose one for our front page on the 20th. 

Thank you.
26681  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: May 17, 2010, 05:16:02 PM
o==8   cheesy
26682  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: May 17, 2010, 05:10:53 PM
YOU will be on O'Reilly?  shocked  How very cool!  cool  We would love an AAR! grin
26683  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: May 17, 2010, 12:20:37 PM
"I would rather move toward decriminalization than legalization.  What you self-grow and self-consume on your own property would already be legal if the constitution was interpreted with any meaning or consistency.  As much as I want to move with you in a libertarian direction, I already don't appreciate Viagra/Cialis commercials during prime-time family television much less want to see the beginning of ad agencies glamorizing pot."

I would be quite comfortable with this.

Haven't read BBG's posts yet, I'm off to teach.
26684  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / G. Mason on: May 17, 2010, 12:17:16 PM
1) Many were against slavery, but had to compromise politically

2) Even those hypocritical on this point were divinely inspired-- they just didn't live up to it.

"Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of his constituents, as the certainty of returning to the general mass of the people, from whence he was taken, where he must participate in their burdens." --George Mason
26685  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 17, 2010, 11:34:37 AM

That is fg extraordinary, even for the Oboids.
26686  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: May 17, 2010, 11:27:23 AM
Concerning that 48% support:  FWIW I have this idea that "People think backwards" i.e. FIRST they choose the position that makes the statement about themselves that they wish to make, THEN the learn the facts and reasoning that support that position.  This is why so few people change their minds when confronted with facts to the contrary or clearer thinking.  BO's success is based upon his calling to things that people want to say about themselves: 

I care
I care about the planet
I care about the poor

Responses based upon
Too bad, so sad
Spotted Owls taste delicious
They desrve it

are not going fly well politically.
26687  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: May 17, 2010, 11:20:05 AM
Please post this in the States' Rights Thread or the Constitutional Law thread on the SCH forum too.  Thank you.
26688  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Meese on: May 17, 2010, 11:18:16 AM
"First and foremost, any nominee to a lifetime appointment to the United States Supreme Court must demonstrate a thorough fidelity to apply the Constitution as it was written, rather than as they would like to re-write it. Given Solicitor General Kagan's complete lack of judicial experience, and, for that matter, very limited litigation experience, Senators must not be rushed in their deliberative process. Because they have no prior judicial opinions to look to, Senators must conduct a more searching inquiry to determine if Kagan will decide cases based upon what is required by the Constitution as it is actually written, or whether she will rule based upon her own policy preferences. Though Ms. Kagan has not written extensively on the role of a judge, the little she has written is troubling. In a law review article, she expressed agreement with the idea that the Court primarily exists to look out for the 'despised and disadvantaged.' The problem with this view -- which sounds remarkably similar to President Obama's frequent appeals to judges ruling on grounds other than law -- is that it allows judges to favor whichever particular client they view as 'despised and disadvantaged.' The judiciary is not to favor any one particular group, but to secure justice equally for all through impartial application of the Constitution and laws. Senators should vigorously question Ms. Kagan about such statements to determine whether she is truly committed to the rule of law. Nothing less should be expected from anyone appointed to a life-tenured position as one of the final arbiters of justice in our country." --former Attorney General Ed Meese

26689  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Kali Tudo 4: The Dog Leg Game on: May 16, 2010, 09:09:43 PM
Not sure if I understand something here:  Are you saying that scenario training should assume EH on the part of the other?
26690  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Kali Tudo 4: The Dog Leg Game on: May 16, 2010, 06:27:22 PM

That's a very good questin JKDS.

Once of the core underlying concepts of DBMA is "consistency across categories" i.e. that our idioms of movement should be essentially the same no matter if we are unarmed or armed, and if armed, no matter the weapon.   In KT we look to bring our stick and knife fighing idioms of movement to empty hands in the adrenal state because DLO requires we respond with this idiom of movment whether the attacker is unarmed or armed precisely because often we do not know in timely manner whether he is armed or not.  However, if we have not tested these idioms of movement empty handed in the adrenal state, then probably we will not turn them in moments of true danger.

There is more, but this is all I have time for at the moment.
26691  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Well, here's one approach to it , , , on: May 15, 2010, 10:57:55 PM
 The Poet Versus the Prophet: On standing up to totalitarian Islam


Mark Goldblatt | May 14, 2010

I got to know the poet Allen Ginsberg towards the end of his life. Not very well, just a nodding acquaintance, but after he died I attended a memorial in his honor at the City University Graduate School. At that service, his personal assistant related a story about Ginsberg’s reaction to the death sentence pronounced on the novelist Salman Rushdie by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989. Rushdie’s “crime,” you’ll recall, was writing a provocative, perhaps even blasphemous novel inspired by the life of Muhammad called The Satanic Verses.

Though I might be screwing up a few details, the gist of the story was as follows: Soon after news of the fatwa broke, Ginsberg and his assistant climbed into the back seat of a taxi in Manhattan. After a glance at the cab driver’s name, Ginsberg politely inquired if he was a Muslim. When the cabbie replied that he was, Ginsberg asked him what he thought about the death sentence on Rushdie. The cabbie answered that he thought that Rushdie’s book was disrespectful of Islam, and that the Ayatollah had every right to do what he had done. At this point, according to his assistant, Ginsberg, one of the gentlest men ever to walk the planet, flew into a rage, screaming at the cabbie as he continued to drive, “Then I shit on your religion! Do you hear me? I shit on Islam! I shit on Muhammad! Do you hear? I shit on Muhammad!” Ginsberg demanded that the cabbie pull over. The cabbie complied, and, without paying the fare, Ginsberg and his assistant climbed out. He was still screaming at the cabbie as the car drove off.

I’ve had a couple of weeks now to think about Ginsberg cursing out that cabbie, and cursing out Islam and Muhammad. You see, I live in Manhattan, three blocks from Times Square. As near as I can determine, I was walking with a friend about thirty feet from the car bomb on May 1st right around the time it was supposed to detonate. Except for the technical incompetence of a Muslim dirtbag named Faisal Shahzad, I and my friend would likely be dead now. Note the phrase: “Muslim dirtbag.” Neither term by itself accounts for the terrorist act he attempted to perpetrate; both terms, however, are equally complicit in it. It might have been a crapshoot of nature and nurture that wrought a specimen like Shahzad, but it was Islam that inspired him, that gave his fecal stain of a life its depth and its justification. Why is that so difficult to admit?

Let me ask the question another way: Where’s the rage? Why won’t anyone say in public what Ginsberg said in the back seat of that cab? If Islam justifies, or is understood by millions of Muslims to justify, setting off a bomb in Times Square, then I shit on Islam.

There are times for interfaith dialogue, for mutual respect and compassion. This isn’t one of them. Shahzad’s car bomb was parked in front of the offices of Viacom, the parent company of the Comedy Central, which airs the program South Park. Last month, the creators of South Park decided to poke fun at the Prophet Muhammad—just as they’d poked fun at Moses and Jesus many times in the past. Death threats followed. It’s too early to connect the Times Square bomb plot to the South Park blasphemy, but police have not ruled it out.

If Shahzad was offended by an animated cartoon and decided to defend the Prophet’s name by killing hundreds of civilians—mothers with their babies in strollers, wide-eyed teenagers in tour groups, husbands and wives out for a night on the town—then I’ll say, along with the poet, I shit on Muhammad.

Americans characterize our collective deference towards the feelings of Muslims as “political correctness.” The phrase may be apt with respect to certain ethnic and religious minorities, but our tip-toeing around Islamic sensibilities is nothing more than plain, old-fashioned cowardice. MSNBC stooge Lawrence O’Donnell, for example, repeatedly slandered Mormonism during the 2008 presidential campaign as a sidebar to his creepily obsessive verbal jihad against then-candidate Mitt Romney. But when asked by radio host Hugh Hewitt whether he would insult Muhammad the way he’d insulted Joseph Smith, O’Donnell replied with rare candor: “Oh, well, I’m afraid of what the... that’s where I’m really afraid. I would like to criticize Islam much more than I do publicly, but I’m afraid for my life if I do.... Mormons are the nicest people in the world. They’ll never take a shot at me. Those other people, I’m not going to say a word about them.”

That’s the problem in a nutshell. But it’s not just O’Donnell’s problem. It’s our problem. America’s problem. The West’s problem. We lack the moral courage to walk the walk, to put our individual lives on the line in order to defend the principles of free thought and free expression—the very principles that allowed the Judeo-Christian West to leave the Islamic East in the dust, literally and figuratively, three centuries ago.

When Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered for producing a short movie critical of Islam’s treatment of women in 2004, where were the public screenings of the film? When Muslims in several countries rioted against pen and ink images of Muhammad printed in a Danish newspaper in 2005, where were the public billboards of those sketches? And when the creators of South Park trotted out the Prophet in a ridiculous bear costume, and received death threats in return, where were the mass-produced tee shirts of that image?

I’ll take a size-medium, cotton if possible, and I’ll wear it in Times Square.

Since 2001, many Americans have asked how they can contribute in a direct way to the war against totalitarian Islam. Now we have an answer. If it’s legal, and likely to offend the radicals, just do it. That seems straightforward enough. But how many of us will have the nerve to stand up to a million or so Muslim dirtbags, and to scores of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, of their fellow travelers and psychic enablers, and say in unison, “You want to kill the Enlightenment, you’re going to have to come through me.”

26692  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / You scare me on: May 15, 2010, 10:43:19 PM
By Lou Pritchett,   Procter & Gamble


Lou Pritchett is one of corporate America's true living legends- an
 acclaimed author, dynamic teacher and one of the world's highest
 rated speakers. Successful corporate executives  everywhere recognize
 him as the foremost leader in change management..  Lou changed the way
  America does business by creating an audacious  concept that came to
 be known as "partnering." Pritchett rose from soap  salesman to
 Vice-President, Sales and Customer Development for  Procter and
 Gamble and over the course of 36 years, made  corporate history.


 Dear President Obama:

 You are the thirteenth President under whom I have  lived and unlike
 any of the others, you truly scare me.

 You scare me because after months of exposure, I  know nothing about you.

 You scare me because I do not know how you paid for  your expensive
 Ivy League education and your upscale lifestyle and  housing with no
 visible signs of support.

 You scare me because you did not spend the formative  years of youth
 growing up in America and culturally you are not an  American.

 You scare me because you have never run a company or  met a payroll.

 You scare me because you have never had military  experience, thus
 don't understand it at its core.

 You scare me because you lack humility and 'class',  always blaming others.

 You scare me because for over half your life you  have aligned
 yourself with radical extremists who hate America   and you refuse to
 publicly denounce these radicals who wish to see  America fail..

 You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the  'blame America '
 crowd and deliver this message abroad.

 You scare me because you want to change America to a  European style
 country where the government sector dominates  instead of the private sector.

 You scare me because you want to replace our health  care system
 with a government controlled one.

 You scare me because you prefer 'wind mills' to  responsibly
 capitalizing on our own vast oil, coal and shale  reserves.

 You scare me because you want to kill the American  capitalist goose
 that lays the golden egg which provides the highest  standard of
 living in the world.

 You scare me because you have begun to use  'extortion' tactics
 against certain banks and corporations.

 You scare me because your own political party  shrinks from
 challenging you on your wild and irresponsible  spending proposals.

 You scare me because you will not openly listen to  or even consider
 opposing points of view from intelligent  people.

 You scare me because you falsely believe that you  are both
 omnipotent and omniscient.

 You scare me because the media gives you a free pass  on everything
 you do.

 You scare me because you demonize and want to  silence the
 Limbaugh's, Hannitys, O'Reillys and Becks who offer  opposing,
 conservative points of view.

 You scare me because you prefer controlling over  governing.

 Finally, you scare me because if you serve a second  term I will
 probably not feel safe in writing a similar letter in 8 years.

 Lou Pritchett
 This letter was sent to the NY Times but they never  acknowledged it.
 Big  surprise. Since it hit the internet, however, it  has had over
 500,000 hits. Keep it going. All that is necessary for evil to succeed
 is that good men do nothing.. It's happening right  now.*
26693  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Kali Tudo 4: The Dog Leg Game on: May 15, 2010, 07:21:58 PM
I've been continuing to explore the Dog Leg Game in my Friday afternoon rolls during open mat time over at Rigan's place and my understanding is starting to come together.  I think Boo Dog really has something here.
26694  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Team Kali Tudo on: May 15, 2010, 07:19:53 PM
Class today:
1) Either I wasn't pronouncing it clearly or the punny name "the Arfful Dodger" was going over most people's heads so I modified the name to "the Arf-Arful Dodger" ("Arf Arf" for short) to make the dogginess of it more apparent
2) I showed the guys (good to see Jason's infant daughter is now old enough that he can rejoin us) the stickfighting foundation of the Arf Arfful Dodger, then we turned to its "Kali Tudo"(tm) application.    Normally the Arf Arf is easiest to apply by the taller man against the shorter, but today we also went into a drift shot of the Malayu portion of it for the shorter man against the taller man.
3) Also covered were:
   *intro to the Lost Dog Game
   *flying bong sao
   *Zirconia with a Dracula burger
26695  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Battle Scarf on: May 15, 2010, 03:11:34 PM
We had a fight at the DB Tribal Gathering between a Sarong with some sort of ball in it and nunchakus.  It was one of the more exciting fights of the weekend.
26696  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / General says military needs doctrine on: May 15, 2010, 02:12:45 PM

General Says Military Needs Cyberwar Doctrine
Seeks defined boundaries
By Eli Lake, The Washington Times

The military needs to better define the boundaries of cyberwarfare to allow cyber forces to go beyond defending computers and networks against numerous attacks, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Thursday.

Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright said in a speech that "we have an entire architecture globally that is based on defense only, point defense only."

"Our defense is our virus protection software and our firewall. So if you are in uniform, what you've basically said is, 'I want to have this fight at my boundaries, inside my country, and I am willing to wait for that and when it gets catastrophic, we'll address it.' "

The general did not advocate conducting offensive cyberwarfare retaliation against foreign or domestic attacks. However, the newly-created U.S. Cyber Command combines both offensive and defensive cyber operations under one military unit.

Currently, military doctrine is unclear on what constitutes a computer or cyber-attack and what the consequences would be for countries or people who launched one on U.S. critical infrastructure. Branches of the armed forces, and in particular the Air Force, have conducted defensive and offensive actions in the realm of electronic or cyberwarfare. Individual branches of the armed services have developed their own cyberwarfare doctrine.

Gen. Cartwright said he supports the idea of cutting wasteful defense programs.

He also said he expects the current war against al Qaeda and Islamic extremism will last another five to 10 years.

The remarks on cyberwar sounded an alarm on the need for better doctrine.

The general compared the current lack of a doctrine on cyberwarfare to the Maginot Line, the concrete fortifications and stationary guns the French erected in World War II that failed to repel the Nazi tank blitz in the German invasion of France.

"Do you believe this network environment we are living in is going to persist for years to come?," he asked "If you believe those things, then we have to start thinking about the validity of a Maginot Line approach to cyber."

The comments on cyberwarfare doctrine were made as the Senate approved by voice vote the promotion of Gen. Keith Alexander, currently director of the National Security Agency, as the first new four-star chief of U.S. Cyber Command, located near NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, Md.

In a speech this week to Ogilvy Public Relations group, James N. Miller, deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, said the Defense Department is currently drafting a new cyberwarfare doctrine. He suggested that the military could respond to a cyber-attack by using conventional armed forces.

Mr. Miller also said that the military has lost enough data to fill the Library of Congress many times over every year due to cyber-attacks.

"Our systems are probed thousands of times a day and scanned millions of times a day," Mr. Miller said, according to the Reuters News Agency.

A U.S. defense contractor, who asked not to be named, said, "We are sitting on our hands waiting for someone to pick a fight with us. And guess what, they do it every day."

Retired Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Ron Fogleman, speaking on a panel on defense in space and cyberspace, said that in the electronic realm, "it is very useful that every now and then you take a shot across the bow."
The military has said very little publicly about its offensive cyber operations.

According to U.S. officials, most modern militaries have both the ability to launch computer viruses or denial of service attacks.

However, because it is very difficult to trace the origins of such attacks most state-based cyber-attacks are still kept in secret. Military experts have said China, Russia, Iran and North Korea are among the states known to have military cyberwarfare programs.

John Rizzo, the recently retired CIA general counsel, said last week at a breakfast meeting of the American Bar Association that he was envious of the military's legal authorities to conduct attacks on computer networks.
He compared the CIA's cyber work to the military's Title 10 authority to "prepare the battlefield" the legal framework for most Pentagon cyber-attacks.

"I have always been envious of my colleagues at the Department of Defense, under the rubric of Title 10, of preparing the battlefield, they have always been able to operate to my lights with a much wider degree of discretion and autonomy than we lawyers at CIA have had to operate under," he said.
26697  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Privacy/Security risks of copiers on: May 15, 2010, 02:08:10 PM
26698  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / OTMs on: May 15, 2010, 12:37:21 PM
26699  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Food Chain and Food Politics on: May 15, 2010, 12:25:03 PM
I doubt an important part of this piece's argument because I suspect that GMO practices lead to de-diversication, thus setting us up for the inevitable mutation(s) that will lead to catastrophic results. Still I post it because it discusses this issue in a reasonable way.

A REPORT by the National Research Council last month gave ammunition to both sides in the debate over the cultivation of genetically engineered crops. More than 80 percent of the corn, soybeans and cotton grown in the United States is genetically engineered, and the report details the “long and impressive list of benefits” that has come from these crops, including improved soil quality, reduced erosion and reduced insecticide use.

Health Guide: Genetically Engineered FoodsIt also confirmed predictions that widespread cultivation of these crops would lead to the emergence of weeds resistant to a commonly used herbicide, glyphosate (marketed by Monsanto as Roundup). Predictably, both sides have done what they do best when it comes to genetically engineered crops: they’ve argued over the findings.

Lost in the din is the potential role this technology could play in the poorest regions of the world — areas that will bear the brunt of climate change and the difficult growing conditions it will bring. Indeed, buried deep in the council’s report is an appeal to apply genetic engineering to a greater number of crops, and for a greater diversity of purposes.

Appreciating this potential means recognizing that genetic engineering can be used not just to modify major commodity crops in the West, but also to improve a much wider range of crops that can be grown in difficult conditions throughout the world.

Doing that also requires opponents to realize that by demonizing the technology, they’ve hindered applications of genetic engineering that could save lives and protect the environment.

Scientists at nonprofit institutions have been working for more than two decades to genetically engineer seeds that could benefit farmers struggling with ever-pervasive dry spells and old and novel pests. Drought-tolerant cassava, insect-resistant cowpeas, fungus-resistant bananas, virus-resistant sweet potatoes and high-yielding pearl millet are just a few examples of genetically engineered foods that could improve the lives of the poor around the globe.

For example, researchers in the public domain have been working to engineer sorghum crops that are resistant to both drought and an aggressively parasitic African weed, Striga.

In a 1994 pilot project by the United States Agency for International Development, an experimental variety of engineered sorghum had a yield four times that of local varieties under adverse conditions. Sorghum, a native of the continent, is a staple throughout Africa, and improved sorghum seeds would be widely beneficial.

As well as enhancing yields, engineered seeds can make crops more nutritious. A new variety of rice modified to produce high amounts of provitamin A, named Golden Rice, will soon be available in the Philippines and, if marketed, would almost assuredly save the lives of thousands of children suffering from vitamin A deficiency.

There’s also a sorghum breed that’s been genetically engineered to produce micronutrients like zinc, and a potato designed to contain greater amounts of protein.

To appreciate the value of genetic engineering, one need only examine the story of papaya. In the early 1990s, Hawaii’s papaya industry was facing disaster because of the deadly papaya ringspot virus. Its single-handed savior was a breed engineered to be resistant to the virus. Without it, the state’s papaya industry would have collapsed. Today, 80 percent of Hawaiian papaya is genetically engineered, and there is still no conventional or organic method to control ringspot virus.

The real significance of the papaya recovery is not that genetic engineering was the most appropriate technology delivered at the right time, but rather that the resistant papaya was introduced before the backlash against engineered crops intensified.

Opponents of genetically engineered crops have spent much of the last decade stoking consumer distrust of this precise and safe technology, even though, as the research council’s previous reports noted, engineered crops have harmed neither human health nor the environment.

In doing so, they have pushed up regulatory costs to the point where the technology is beyond the economic reach of small companies or foundations that might otherwise develop a wider range of healthier crops for the neediest farmers. European restrictions, for instance, make it virtually impossible for scientists at small laboratories there to carry out field tests of engineered seeds.

As it now stands, opposition to genetic engineering has driven the technology further into the hands of a few seed companies that can afford it, further encouraging their monopolistic tendencies while leaving it out of reach for those that want to use it for crops with low (or no) profit margins.

The stakes are too high for us not to make the best use of genetic engineering. If we fail to invest responsibly in agricultural research, if we continue to allow propaganda to trump science, then the potential for global agriculture to be productive, diverse and sustainable will go unfulfilled. And it’s not those of us here in the developed world who will suffer the direct consequences, but rather the poorest and most vulnerable.

Pamela C. Ronald, a professor of plant pathology at the University of California, Davis, is the co-author of “Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics and the Future of Food.” James E. McWilliams, a history professor at Texas State University at San Marcos, is the author of “Just Food.”
26700  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH (NYT) editorial on: May 15, 2010, 12:13:40 PM

Given that the source (Pravda on the Hudson a.k.a. POTH a.k.a. The NY Times) is suspect I ask here whether this editorial makes a fair point:

A Hole in the Spring SkyPublished: May 14, 2010
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LinkedinDiggFacebookMixxMySpaceYahoo! BuzzPermalink. Twenty-five years ago this month, a small team of scientists discovered that the ozone layer above their Antarctic station was thinning more and more every spring. The layer protects life on earth from the sun’s ultraviolet light. The response to that discovery is a rare, happy environmental morality tale.

In 1996, an international accord banned the use of chlorofluorocarbons, or CFC’s — which were used as refrigerants in air-conditioners and propellants in aerosol spray cans — that were causing the ozone hole. The treaty has phased in slowly. And the hole, gaping widely every spring, is much larger today. But it would be far worse without the protocol, and there is good reason to expect that it will return to pre-1970 levels by 2080.

There is another lesson here, one that has nothing to do with citizen action or international accords or aerosol sprays. The discovery of the ozone hole would have been impossible without paying close, consistent attention to the world around us and having the personnel needed to decipher the results.

As Jonathan Shanklin, one of the scientists who discovered the hole notes, Halley Research Station had continuous ozone data reaching back nearly 40 years. Discovering the ozone hole was to a large extent a matter of processing and correlating that data and being open to the surprising results.

It’s a reminder that good science is patient, observant, careful and continuous. That kind of science — which is especially valuable for understanding climate change — requires long-term commitments in financing and education. It requires the ability to gather data accurately over the years and to educate the scientists who can turn that data into a new awareness of how this world works. That knowledge helped us to make the decision that aerosol sprays and other CFC’s are not worth a yawning void in the springtime Antarctic skies.
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