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26951  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Huckabee in WSJ on: August 19, 2007, 09:21:26 AM
Contender?
Arkansas's former governor offers a strange brew of populism and environmentalism.

BY BRIAN M. CARNEY
Saturday, August 18, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

NEW YORK--"Are you with Mike?"

The question is not a political one. Your correspondent has arrived at NPR's studios in midtown Manhattan, there to squeeze in an interview with former Arkansas governor and current presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Mr. Huckabee is in the studio, but he arrived alone, and the slightly flummoxed receptionist asks everyone who comes through the door if he's one of Mike's people. None of them are.

Mr. Huckabee arrived late for the radio taping--he couldn't find a taxi at Penn Station--so I settle into a chair to wait for the candidate to emerge.

A week ago, Mike Huckabee was having trouble getting potential donors to return his calls. But after coming in a surprise second in the Iowa straw poll last weekend, the former Arkansas governor is on a media and fund-raising blitz. The man who greets me, with a firm handshake and a warm smile, is physically unassuming and seems slightly too small for the suit he's wearing--which he may be, having famously lost more than 100 pounds after being diagnosed with Type II diabetes a few years back.

Mr. Huckabee settles into a chair in NPR's 19th-floor conference room as I ask him why he's running for president. He offers some preliminaries about his executive experience in Arkansas and his ability in that state to work across the aisle to get things done with a Democratic state Assembly. Then he goes for the heart of the matter as he sees it:

"If the Republicans have a chance next year," Mr. Huckabee says, "the criteria are: No. 1, someone who can communicate our message to the people of our country and win them back, because we've lost a lot of them.

"No. 2, it's someone who has consistency on the principles and the core values that have caused people to be Republican. That includes the sanctity of life, it includes fiscal conservativism. It certainly includes an adherence to the traditional concept of marriage. It means respect for the Second Amendment. Those are issues that caused a lot of middle America and the South to go Republican." In other words, in line with the media sound bite about Mr. Huckabee, he represents the Republican wing of the Republican Party, the so-called social conservatives that the front-runners are said to have a hard time rallying to their cause.

But Mr. Huckabee doesn't stop there. Instead, he outlines, in broad strokes, a quite different, and somewhat surprising, vision of the Republican Party of the future. Rallying the base to the old standard, Mr. Huckabee says, isn't enough anymore. "A new Republican generation has also got to speak to issues of the environment, education, health care." We'll get back to that. But now Mr. Huckabee is on a roll, and he shifts seamlessly into a critique of his party that seems, oddly, to accept much of his political opposition's criticism of the GOP, and the Bush administration in particular:

"We have to show that we are also problem-solvers, not just ideologues. People are not going to tolerate a government that just is led by people who just believe something. They want a government that is led by people who can do something. And all the beliefs in the world don't change the dynamics if we're unable to function and function effectively." This is Mr. Huckabee-as-triangulator, as pragmatist.





One central theme of Mr. Huckabee's campaign that he hasn't mentioned yet is his support for the Fair Tax, a proposal to replace the federal income tax with a sales tax of either 23% or 30%, depending on how you count. So I ask him if he really expects the repeal of the 16th Amendment, the one that granted the federal government the authority to levy income taxes in the first place. "I hope we would [repeal it]. That's the whole point." But hope, of course, is not a plan. Does he have one? "I'd go directly to the people, sell it to them, and then ask them to sell it to Congress."
So much for taxes. Since he brought up the environment, what is his view on climate change? "My view is that we have allowed it to become a political issue rather than an issue about being responsible inhabitants of earth. . . . The one thing that's, to me, indisputable, is that we have a responsibility to be better stewards of the environment. So why we have any problems is to me of less importance than that we clearly need cleaner air, clean water, good soil. Anything we do that does in fact curb and contain CO2 emissions is a good thing. Because it simply means that there's a cleaner, fresher, more sustainable environment."

So Mr. Huckabee is in favor of curbing carbon-dioxide emissions. Does he have a preferred policy tool to accomplish the goal? "My first thought is that a tax is not the ideal way to try to change behaviors." No carbon tax, then. What about a cap-and-trade system, in which industries are given emissions credits that they can either use or sell? "I sometimes think that this whole idea of carbon credits, it seems to me a bit like buying indulgences from the ancient church. I find that just almost bizarre--that that's the answer, that I can waste all the energy I want and then justify it by writing a check and saying, 'Oh, I bought up some credits.' "

With a carbon tax off the table and cap-and-trade theologically unsound, what's left? "I think every citizen can take some steps. I drive a flex-fuel car. We've replaced most of our light fixtures with fluorescents. . . . I didn't have to do that. The government didn't tell me to do that. It just seems to me a better use of energy and my money." That may be virtuous, but it falls somewhat short of an environmental platform for the new Republican generation. So I ask the former governor whether he approves of the current legislative fad of requiring more ethanol in our gasoline. "I'm from an agricultural state, so I tend to like biofuels and think that they're a very important part of the future of energy."

But the production of ethanol for fuel is itself energy-intensive; at best it offers modest improvements to our current energy dependence. Right?

"It's not as efficient [as gas] right now. But as the technology evolves, it's already far more efficient than it was a few years ago. But I think the answer's going to be a combination of many sources: solar; nuclear; hydrogen, hydrogen cells, which are different than ammonia-based hydrogen; I think wind."





That may be what Mr. Huckabee thinks. But what should the government be doing, if anything, to bring this future about? "The best thing the government could do," Mr. Huckabee replies, "is eliminate any type of penalties on productivity and innovation. One of the reasons that I support the Fair Tax is that it turns all sectors of the economy loose." With Mr. Huckabee, I was beginning to suspect, most roads lead to the Fair Tax.
But he'd mentioned the economy, so I asked what he made of the recent turmoil in the markets. The answer surprised with its populist fervor. "You know, a lot of the folks that are worried now are experiencing maybe a little bit of what the average American worries about every day when they go to work and they're not sure whether any of these hedge-fund managers and their $100 million bonuses are going to sell off the jobs of the people out there in middle America to China, and they're going to lose their paychecks and their pensions."

Is our trade deficit with China something we should be worried about then? "I think we've got to be worried about the trade deficit." Why? "If they were to devalue the dollar through their actions, it would have a dramatically negative impact on our economy." I want to point out that devaluing the dollar relative to the Chinese yuan is precisely what those decrying the trade deficit would like to see happen, but he presses on: "I've also said we don't have free trade if you don't have fair trade and it's not fair trade if they're not abiding by the same rules and regulations that we are."

Fair trade is a hobbyhorse of the left more often than the right, not least because unions view imposing our labor and environmental standards on poor countries as a way of making them less cost-competitive. But Mr. Huckabee isn't done. "We can't even trust toothpaste [from China]. We have contaminated food and now contaminated toys that are coming here because they're so just adamant about making profits and producing enormous levels of goods and getting them into our marketplace that they haven't been as careful, making sure those products have the same level of safety that they would if they were manufactured here."

We should all be able to trust our toothpaste and our baby toys, to be sure. To that end, Senator Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) wants to inspect every container from China for lead-painted children's toys. Is this the sort of thing Mr. Huckabee has in mind?

"I think the Dick Durbin idea is a little bit extreme . . . but there needs to be a greater level of scrutiny." That sounds safe enough, if somewhat vague, but suddenly Mr. Huckabee veers off-target. "I think we ought to know where our food comes from. I'm particularly concerned about the growing incidence of imported food. And part of it is I believe there are three things a country has got to do to be free: It's got to feed itself; it has to be able to fuel itself and it's got to be able to fight for itself. And if it can't do those things, then it's only as free as the nations who provide those things will allow it to be. So if we're dependent on anyone, whether it's the Chinese or the Europeans, for our food, the day they decide to cut off our food supply is the day we cease to have the freedom we currently enjoy."

Food independence was, it is true, long considered a strategic asset, but it seems a quaint goal, at best, in a globalizing world. And our current fixation on plowing under food crops to grow "biofuels" is already driving up food prices in this country. How, then, do we achieve energy and food independence simultaneously? Is it even possible?

Not at the moment, Mr. Huckabee says. "But I believe we can get there." How? "The same way that we developed an atom bomb in really a relatively small period of three years, when science was not nearly as advanced as it is now. The same way we went to the moon eight years from the time John F. Kennedy said we would go."

Is the candidate proposing a federally funded Manhattan Project to achieve food and energy independence from the world? "It doesn't even have to be federally funded as much as it has to be a federally turned-loose innovation in the private sector. Imagine the potential profits out there for those who can develop the clean, sustainable and replaceable domestically produced energy sources." That is code, I take it, for the Fair Tax again.





Until recently, Mr. Huckabee has been mostly an unknown quantity, despite his months-long presence in the race. His second-place finish in Iowa last weekend has brought him a new degree of media attention and scrutiny. The question for Republicans and for his campaign is, now that Mr. Huckabee is getting a closer look, will GOP voters like what they see?
Mr. Carney is a member of the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal.

 
26952  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nature on: August 19, 2007, 09:04:53 AM
Lions and human friends:

http://clipaday.com/videos/lion-reunited-with-humans-after-years

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/femail/article.html?in_article_id=452820&in_page_id=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2y90H77aPt0
26953  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: August 19, 2007, 08:52:38 AM
Buz:

Glad to see you hammering with the Sheppard piece-- this story is one that needs to be saved from being sent down the memory whole.

Concerning nuclear power:

1) I confess to being someone who is deeply uneasy about nuke power.  I remember the case of the Diablo Canyon reactor here in CA.  The idiots, excuse me the "experts" built it on an earthquake fault.  I gotta say that this strikes me as rather fcuking foolish and my gut reaction to litigation preventing it from being put on line is one of relief. 

2) The subject of waste: Are you saying that new plants will not produce ANY waste?  I'm not impressed yet with "the experts" plan for that mountain in Nevada.

3)  I wonder if Flight 93 was headed for the plant at Three Mile Island in PA on 911?

TAC,
Marc
26954  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: August 18, 2007, 05:31:56 PM
Marquez vs. Vasquez:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sw9Hntr9M7g
26955  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: August 18, 2007, 09:30:41 AM
Is anyone familiar with this group? http://www.woundedwarriors.org/ Do they make effective use of the monies the receive?  Any other recommended groups?
26956  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: August 18, 2007, 09:19:53 AM
I always find it interesting to get the perspective of Indians on the situation in Afg/Pak.  Due to their long history of problems between Pak and them, they tend to be quite informed and thoughtful.
=============

Pakistan Tribal Unrest Intensifies- International Terrorism Monitor- Paper No. 267

By B. Raman.

Anti-Musharraf and anti-US anger continues to run high in the Pashtun tribal areas of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan.
 

2.The fresh wave of anger, which initially started after the raid of the Pakistani Army commandoes on the Lal Masjid in Islamabad between July 10 and 13,2007, has further intensified after the death of Abdullah Mehsud, a pro-Taliban tribal leader of South Waziristan and a former detenu at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba, at Zhob in Balochistan on July 23,2007 . According to the Pakistan Army, he blew himself up when he was surrounded by the security forces. But, his supporters allege that he was shot dead at point-blank range by the security forces.

3. The intensified anger has not only led to many more clashes between the tribals and the security forces, but also to a boycott of the celebration of Pakistan's 60th Independence Day anniversary in many tribal villages.

4.The "Daily Times" of Lahore reported as follows on August 15,2007: " Many people in the tribal areas marked August 14 as a "black day", in protest at the stepped up military presence in the region near the Pak-Afghan border. Many tribesmen in Khyber Agency and 25 disputed villages adjacent to Mohmand Agency observed the 60th Independence Day by hoisting black flags on their homes. Similarly, tribesmen in South Waziristan, North Waziristan and Bajaur
agencies did not observe Independence Day due to the military's operations in the tribal areas. "For the first time in the country's history, numerous tribesmen did not celebrate Independence Day. There were no selling and buying of national flags and other relevant things in North Waziristan," Haji Gul Noor from Miranshah told Daily Times. "This could be a reaction to military operations and the Taliban may have forbidden tribesmen to celebrate the day," he added."

5.On August 17,2007, seven soldiers and 15 tribals were reportedly killed in clashes in Chackmalai and adjacent areas of North Waziristan. Eleven soldiers were also injured. The clashes occurred when a military convoy came under attack and the security forces retaliated. On August 16,2007, 10 tribals were killed and many injured when Pakistan Army gunship helicopters retaliated after an attack on a military convoy near the same area. In the attack on the convoy, three soldiers were killed and six others injured. On August 14, 2007, the beheaded body of one of the 16 paramilitary Frontier Corps soldiers, kidnapped by militants in the South Waziristan agency a week ago, was found on the Tank-Jandola road. A note left on the body warned that the remaining soldiers would be punished in the same fashion if the tribals' demand for the release of 10 tribal detenus (reportedly Mehsuds) was not met by the Army.
 

6.Is Pakistan a jihadi volcano waiting to erupt?

7.That is the question which has been worrying the minds of many intelligence analysts, Congressmen and policy-makers in the US.

8.They may differ in their assessment of the ground situation in Iraq.

9.But they are all agreed that the ground situation in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region does not bode well for the success of the so-called war on global jihadi terrorism.

10.Recent testimonies by senior intelligence and military officers and non-governmental analysts before Congressional committees and recent debates among aspirants for the Presidential race next year have revealed a convergence of views on both sides of the political spectrum that there has been a worrisome resurgence of Al Qaeda from new sanctuaries in the Pakistani territory.

11.According to them, its command and control, which was badly disrupted by the post-9/11 US military operations in Afghanistan, has been repaired and revamped. It has set up a new jihadi training infrastructure in the North Waziristan area in replacement of its previous infrastructure in Afghan territory, which was destroyed by the US security forces. New recruits have started flowing in---- Arabs as well as non-Arabs. Recruits from the Pakistani diaspora in the West have been in the forefront of the flow of new non-Arab volunteers.

12.The determination and motivation of Al Qaeda and its mix of leaders of old vintage such as Osama bin Laden and his No.2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the crop of new post-9/11 recruits remain as strong as ever despite the losses in leadership, cadre strength and resources suffered by it in 2002 and 2003.

13.There is an apparent realization----not yet openly expressed---- that Pakistan's President Gen.Pervez Musharraf has not been such a sincere front-line ally in the war against jihadi terrorism as he was projected to be. He made brave statements on his determination to act against jihadi extremists and terrorists, but his actions on the ground belied his statements.

14.He promised action against the madrasas producing terrorists, but refrained from action against them. He was reluctant to act even against the Lal Masjid, which had set up a jihadi GHQ right under his nose in Islamabad. He was forced to act not by US threats, but by Chinese unhappiness over the kidnapping of six Chinese women by the girl students of the Masjid's madrasa for girls, who accused them of loose morals.

15.He claimed to have effectively sealed the Pakistan-Afghanistan border by deploying thousands of extra troops in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to prevent the ingress of the Neo Al Qaeda and Neo Taliban elements from Afghanistan to set up new bases in Pakistani territory. These troops, instead of fighting the terrorists, made peace with them---initially in South Waziristan in 2005 and then in North Waziristan in 2006.

16.He assured the international community that his peace agreements were meant to encourage the local people to rise against the Neo Al Qaeda and the Neo Taliban. Instead of doing so, they joined hands with them and helped them set up new training bases in North Waziristan.

17.The realization is slowly dawning on US intelligence analysts and policy-makers that Musharraf is either unable to act or insincere or both.

18.All this has been taking place at a time when Musharraf's authority has been weakening due to his ill-advised confrontation with the judiciary and the lawyers' fraternity, which ended in an embarrassing loss of face for him when the Supreme Court unanimously ordered the reinstatement of the suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury. The public rallies in support of the wronged Chief Justice demonstrated the extent of the growing alienation against the General.

19.Balochistan continues to burn. There is a growing clamour for his discarding the post of the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) to which he continues to cling due to fears that he may not be able to control the Army effectively if he ceased to be the COAS. His uniform gives him the power to intimidate his people and opponents. Once he discards it, he may lose his power of intimidation. So he apprehends.

20.He does not have the confidence that his political supporters in the Pakistan Muslim League (Qaide Azam), who are in a majority in the present National Assembly, may be able to retain their majority in the new Assembly to be elected later this year. If his detractors secure a majority, his hopes of continuing as the President for a second term may be belied. Hence, his desperate anxiety to have himself re-elected by the present National Assembly before it is dissolved.

21.The Supreme Court, headed by a Chief Justice who was sought to be humiliated by the General, may come in the way. Nawaz Sharif, the former Prime Minister, has already challenged the various executive orders passed by Musharraf against him. If the Supreme Court upholds Nawaz's petition, it might severely weaken the legal basis of Musharraf's rule.

22.Musharraf has for the present given up the idea of imposing a State of Emergency in order to escape the consequences of his sins of commission and omission. But, he may still use that sword. If he does, there may be violent street protests against him.

23.Public disenchantment on the one side and the spreading Talibanisation and jihadi anger on the other. That is the situation facing Musharraf today. The US is not yet prepared to write him off, but is already considering fall-back options if it has to. Inducting Benazir Bhutto as the Prime Minister to soften the arbitrary image of Musharraf is unlikely to work. She is not very popular among the Mohajirs, the Balochs and even large sections of the Sindhis, despite her being from Sindh. Large sections of senior Army officers do not feel comfortable with her. Moreover, it is doubtful how effective a woman Prime Minister will be against the jihadis, who would look upon her as apostate.

24.Pakistan is not Iran. An Islamic revolution of the Iranian model of 1979 is unlikely. But its FATA and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) are no different from Afghanistan. The Pashtun tribes, who inhabit these areas, are strongly anti-US and anti-Musharraf. The 9/11 terrorist strikes came from the Pashtun areas of Southern and Eastern Afghanistan. If there is a repeat of 9/11, it would have originated in the Pashtun areas of Pakistan.

25.The anger against both Musharraf and the US is so intense in the Pashtun belt on both sides of the Durand Line that no precise human intelligence has been forthcoming from the people of the area. The communications security of the Neo Al Qaeda is so strong that the available technical intelligence is weak. Despite nearly four years of its operations, the US' intelligence agencies have not been able to establish wherefrom As-Sahab, the Neo Al Qaeda's Psychological Warfare unit, has been operating and silence it.

26.The US is thus in a dilemma. It is not in a position to act on its own due to inadequate intelligence. Nor is it in a position to depend on Musharraf due to his insincerity and ineffectiveness.

27.This dilemma is likely to continue for some time till the capability of the US for the collection of precise intelligence improves. Fears of instability in Pakistan due to political factors and insecurity due to the uncontrolled activities of the Neo Al Qaeda and the Neo Taliban would continue to confront the US policy-makers. Their bold statements of their intention to act are just whistling in the dark in the absence of precise intelligence.

28.There is no end in sight to the US military operations against the Neo Al Qaeda and the Neo Taliban even almost six years after the operations started. This is nothing to be surprised about. Victory in the war is not for tomorrow or the day after. There is no doubt that the US will one day ultimately prevail over the jihadi terrorists. It has to in order to protect its homeland. But that day is still far off.

29.The time has come for the US to have a revamped policy on Pakistan and to make it clear to Musharraf that the days of lollipops are over. That is what the recently passed Congressional Resolution seeking to tie future military and economic assistance to his actions against the jihadis does. This is a good beginning. This has to be followed by pressing him to hold free and fair elections and seek a new mandate from a new Assembly and not from the present one in which his followers have an engineered majority. The lollipops should be withheld if he does not do so.

30.India cannot remain unaffected by these developments. Some of the associates of Al Qaeda in the International Islamic Front (IIF) such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) are active in India for many years. The developing Indian relations with the US and the increasing US presence in India are a cause for provocation for Al Qaeda. Its intention to target India is already being reflected increasingly in the statements of its leaders. Al Qaeda as an Arab terrorist organization has not yet carried out a terrorist strike in Indian territory. But it is wanting to do so. India should take Al Qaeda's threats seriously and avoid an Al Qaeda orchestrated Pearl Harbour in its territory.


(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com)
26957  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: August 18, 2007, 09:16:45 AM
Tom:

My apologies for not having time at the moment to offer a full reply.  Perhaps tomorrow or Monday.

Marc
26958  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: August 17, 2007, 05:17:15 PM
"We made Iraq the war zone it is today.....I'am willing to admit that are you?"

ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!  IMHO the thought process that comes up with that conclusion is quite unsound.
26959  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Emergency in Peru on: August 17, 2007, 02:19:02 PM
All:

Some of you may know that my mom for the last five years my mom has lived in southern Peru helping the village of Humay, population about  200.  Humay is about 18 miles east of Pisco, pictures of which have figured prominently in the fotos in the news reports the last few days about the huge 8.0 earthquake in Peru.  Humay is about 10 miles from the epicenter of that 8.0 earthquake.  Since then there have been 14 follow-up quakes above 5.0, with most of those being above 5.5.  The devastation is extensive.

On a personal note, my mom, who is a post-youthful 75 years old, with the help of the cook had to smash her way through her living room window as debris rained down blocking the door.  There is a substantial breach in the adobe wall around her property and most of Humay is leveled.  People are sleeping in the streets and are hungry.  Water supplies are rapidly exhausting and people are thirsty.  The two small stores are closed for fear of looting.  There is no electricity and the road to the main road is out of commission.   Social order hangs in the balance.

What about the government?  Well, the Peruvian Army briefly landed a helicopter on the soccer field, unloaded four boxes of shampoo and left.

My mom is carefully husbanding what remains of her gasoline for the generator.  A wall to the prison up the road collapsed during the earthquake and 680 hardened criminals, a number of whom mom put in there, have escaped.  Newspapers are reporting 500 deaths already and the number is sure to climb substantially from there.  In short, the situation is bad.

Some friends of mom in Lima are buying the supplies that they can and are going to see if they can get through.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post-- what you can do:  I am asking each and every person here to donate as generously as they can.  Rarely in this life will you get a chance to get as much bang for the buck as here.  THERE IS NO ORGANIZATIONAL OVERHEAD.  The money will go 100% to my mom, who will spend 100% of it helping the people of Humay.  Five years ago she left her life in the USA behind to go help this village and is perfectly positioned to know what needs to be done, and who should be doing it.

Please make checks out to the "Judy H Foundation" and send them to
Judy H Foundation
c/o Arista Investment Advisors, Ltd
255 Washington Ave. Ext. #106
Albany, NY 12205

If the funds are to be wired, please use the following information:
Citibank NA
111 Wall Street
New York, NY   10043
ABA #:  021000089
FBO:  Charles Schwab & Co. Inc.
A/C #:  40553953
For the benefit of:  Judy H Foundation
Account: # 7107-3796

For tax receipt purposes, please ask those wiring funds to let us know who they are and how much they wired.  They can email my mother's financial advisor Jerry Schwartz at (gnfps@aol.com) or Chris in Albany (aristaadv1@aol.com) or call 518-464-0319 and leave the information.  The identities do not come through with the wire, only the amounts received.

For any who want to check out the Foundation, please go to
www.guidestar.org and search under "Judy H Foundation."
Thanks for all you can do.

Marc
26960  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: August 17, 2007, 02:16:57 PM
No, this kitty BS cheesy has been rejected cheesy Fights are 2 minutes minimum.  They run longer when the ringmaster (usually me) thinks its a good fight.
26961  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Emergency in Peru on: August 17, 2007, 02:14:44 PM
All:

Some of you may know that my mom for the last five years my mom has lived in southern Peru helping the village of Humay, population about  200.  Humay is about 18 miles east of Pisco, pictures of which have figured prominently in the fotos in the news reports the last few days about the huge 8.0 earthquake in Peru.  Humay is about 10 miles from the epicenter of that 8.0 earthquake.  Since then there have been 14 follow-up quakes above 5.0, with most of those being above 5.5.  The devastation is extensive.

On a personal note, my mom, who is a post-youthful 75 years old, with the help of the cook had to smash her way through her living room window as debris rained down blocking the door.  There is a substantial breach in the adobe wall around her property and most of Humay is leveled.  People are sleeping in the streets and are hungry.  Water supplies are rapidly exhausting and people are thirsty.  The two small stores are closed for fear of looting.  There is no electricity and the road to the main road is out of commission.   Social order hangs in the balance.

What about the government?  Well, the Peruvian Army briefly landed a helicopter on the soccer field, unloaded four boxes of shampoo and left.

My mom is carefully husbanding what remains of her gasoline for the generator.  A wall to the prison up the road collapsed during the earthquake and 680 hardened criminals, a number of whom mom put in there, have escaped.  Newspapers are reporting 500 deaths already and the number is sure to climb substantially from there.  In short, the situation is bad.

Some friends of mom in Lima are buying the supplies that they can and are going to see if they can get through.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post-- what you can do:  I am asking each and every person here to donate as generously as they can.  Rarely in this life will you get a chance to get as much bang for the buck as here.  THERE IS NO ORGANIZATIONAL OVERHEAD.  The money will go 100% to my mom, who will spend 100% of it helping the people of Humay.  Five years ago she left her life in the USA behind to go help this village and is perfectly positioned to know what needs to be done, and who should be doing it.

Please make checks out to the "Judy H Foundation" and send them to
Judy H Foundation
c/o Arista Investment Advisors, Ltd
255 Washington Ave. Ext. #106
Albany, NY 12205

If the funds are to be wired, please use the following information:
Citibank NA
111 Wall Street
New York, NY   10043
ABA #:  021000089
FBO:  Charles Schwab & Co. Inc.
A/C #:  40553953
For the benefit of:  Judy H Foundation
Account: # 7107-3796

For tax receipt purposes, please ask those wiring funds to let us know who they are and how much they wired.  They can email my mother's financial advisor Jerry Schwartz at (gnfps@aol.com) or Chris in Albany (aristaadv1@aol.com) or call 518-464-0319 and leave the information.  The identities do not come through with the wire, only the amounts received.

For any who want to check out the Foundation, please go to
www.guidestar.org and search under "Judy H Foundation."
Thanks for all you can do.

Marc
26962  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Peru on: August 17, 2007, 02:13:37 PM


All:

Some of you may know that my mom for the last five years my mom has lived in southern Peru helping the village of Humay, population about  200.  Humay is about 18 miles east of Pisco, pictures of which have figured prominently in the fotos in the news reports the last few days about the huge 8.0 earthquake in Peru.  Humay is about 10 miles from the epicenter of that 8.0 earthquake.  Since then there have been 14 follow-up quakes above 5.0, with most of those being above 5.5.  The devastation is extensive.

On a personal note, my mom, who is a post-youthful 75 years old, with the help of the cook had to smash her way through her living room window as debris rained down blocking the door.  There is a substantial breach in the adobe wall around her property and most of Humay is leveled.  People are sleeping in the streets and are hungry.  Water supplies are rapidly exhausting and people are thirsty.  The two small stores are closed for fear of looting.  There is no electricity and the road to the main road is out of commission.   Social order hangs in the balance.

What about the government?  Well, the Peruvian Army briefly landed a helicopter on the soccer field, unloaded four boxes of shampoo and left.

My mom is carefully husbanding what remains of her gasoline for the generator.  A wall to the prison up the road collapsed during the earthquake and 680 hardened criminals, a number of whom mom put in there, have escaped.  Newspapers are reporting 500 deaths already and the number is sure to climb substantially from there.  In short, the situation is bad.

Some friends of mom in Lima are buying the supplies that they can and are going to see if they can get through.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post-- what you can do:  I am asking each and every person here to donate as generously as they can.  Rarely in this life will you get a chance to get as much bang for the buck as here.  THERE IS NO ORGANIZATIONAL OVERHEAD.  The money will go 100% to my mom, who will spend 100% of it helping the people of Humay.  Five years ago she left her life in the USA behind to go help this village and is perfectly positioned to know what needs to be done, and who should be doing it.

Please make checks out to the "Judy H Foundation" and send them to
Judy H Foundation
c/o Arista Investment Advisors, Ltd
255 Washington Ave. Ext. #106
Albany, NY 12205

If the funds are to be wired, please use the following information:
Citibank NA
111 Wall Street
New York, NY   10043
ABA #:  021000089
FBO:  Charles Schwab & Co. Inc.
A/C #:  40553953
For the benefit of:  Judy H Foundation
Account: # 7107-3796

For tax receipt purposes, please ask those wiring funds to let us know who they are and how much they wired.  They can email my mother's financial advisor Jerry Schwartz at (gnfps@aol.com) or Chris in Albany (aristaadv1@aol.com) or call 518-464-0319 and leave the information.  The identities do not come through with the wire, only the amounts received.

For any who want to check out the Foundation, please go to
www.guidestar.org and search under "Judy H Foundation."
Thanks for all you can do.

Marc
26963  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Emergency Request: on: August 17, 2007, 02:11:56 PM
All:

Some of you may know that my mom for the last five years my mom has lived in southern Peru helping the village of Humay, population about  200.  Humay is about 18 miles east of Pisco, pictures of which have figured prominently in the fotos in the news reports the last few days about the huge 8.0 earthquake in Peru.  Humay is about 10 miles from the epicenter of that 8.0 earthquake.  Since then there have been 14 follow-up quakes above 5.0, with most of those being above 5.5.  The devastation is extensive.

On a personal note, my mom, who is a post-youthful 75 years old, with the help of the cook had to smash her way through her living room window as debris rained down blocking the door.  There is a substantial breach in the adobe wall around her property and most of Humay is leveled.  People are sleeping in the streets and are hungry.  Water supplies are rapidly exhausting and people are thirsty.  The two small stores are closed for fear of looting.  There is no electricity and the road to the main road is out of commission.   Social order hangs in the balance.

What about the government?  Well, the Peruvian Army briefly landed a helicopter on the soccer field, unloaded four boxes of shampoo and left.

My mom is carefully husbanding what remains of her gasoline for the generator.  A wall to the prison up the road collapsed during the earthquake and 680 hardened criminals, a number of whom mom put in there, have escaped.  Newspapers are reporting 500 deaths already and the number is sure to climb substantially from there.  In short, the situation is bad.

Some friends of mom in Lima are buying the supplies that they can and are going to see if they can get through.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post-- what you can do:  I am asking each and every person here to donate as generously as they can.  Rarely in this life will you get a chance to get as much bang for the buck as here.  THERE IS NO ORGANIZATIONAL OVERHEAD.  The money will go 100% to my mom, who will spend 100% of it helping the people of Humay.  Five years ago she left her life in the USA behind to go help this village and is perfectly positioned to know what needs to be done, and who should be doing it.

Please make checks out to the "Judy H Foundation" and send them to
Judy H Foundation
c/o Arista Investment Advisors, Ltd
255 Washington Ave. Ext. #106
Albany, NY 12205

If the funds are to be wired, please use the following information:
Citibank NA
111 Wall Street
New York, NY   10043
ABA #:  021000089
FBO:  Charles Schwab & Co. Inc.
A/C #:  40553953
For the benefit of:  Judy H Foundation
Account: # 7107-3796

For tax receipt purposes, please ask those wiring funds to let us know who they are and how much they wired.  They can email my mother's financial advisor Jerry Schwartz at (gnfps@aol.com) or Chris in Albany (aristaadv1@aol.com) or call 518-464-0319 and leave the information.  The identities do not come through with the wire, only the amounts received.

For any who want to check out the Foundation, please go to
www.guidestar.org and search under "Judy H Foundation."
Thanks for all you can do.

Marc
26964  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hez's Dark Genius on: August 17, 2007, 10:11:05 AM
A year after the 2006 Lebanon War, recognizing Hezbollah’s dark genius
By Jonathan Kay (bio)

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the end of the 2006 Lebanon War. In strictly numerical terms, it was a tiny conflict. Fewer than 2,000 people died, a tiny fraction of the number killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nor did the war result in any territory changing hands, or the regional balance of power shifting permanently in a significant way. But the battle will nonetheless be remembered as an important milestone in the Long War between the West and militant Islam. While the Taliban and al-Qaeda are alienating their would-be followers with nihilistic violence, Hezbollah has developed a far more complex strategy that combines terrorism with sophisticated guerilla warfare, state-of-the-art weaponry, savvy public relations, charismatic leadership and state sponsorship. In fact, the group’s surprisingly strong effort a year ago highlighted at least a half-dozen important innovations in Islamist war-making:

Public relations. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are shadowy organizations that occasionally emit videos full of rambling apocalyptic speechifying. Hezbollah, on the other hand, operates a full-function satellite channel, Al-Manar Television, that the Israeli air force was never able to put out of commission. Throughout the 2006 Lebanon War, Hezbollah’s charismatic chairman, Hassan Nasrallah, kept up his media profile from undisclosed locations. When Israeli bombs went astray and killed civilians — as they did, most tragically, in the town of Qana on July 30 — Hezbollah media handlers quickly descended on the scene to manage the way the story was reported. Thus was Hezbollah — which had started the war by kidnapping two Israeli soldiers — able to turn world opinion against Israel by the end of the conflict.
Massive state sponsorship. Since its creation in the early 1980s, Hezbollah has been armed, trained and financed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Even during the war itself, IRGC officers assisted Hezbollah, and ensured that supply routes through Syria remained open for the group’s fighters. At the United Nations, Iran exerted pressures on its veto-wielding trade partners, China and Russia, to water down any action against Hezbollah. Damascus and Tehran also constrained Israel’s strategy by threatening to bring the Jewish state into a wider regional war.
Missiles. Hezbollah’s use of thousands of Iranian-supplied missiles to bombard northern Israel during the 2006 Lebanon War represented an unprecedented tactic: Until this time, no guerrilla force had made use of such long-range weapons in waging a sustained campaign against enemy population centers. While the missiles had little military effect, they had enormous psychological impact, sending hundreds of thousands of Israelis fleeing southward.
Battlefield weaponry. Iran supplied Hezbollah with not only missiles, but state-of-the-art tactical weapons. Especially effective were guided, shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons, which Hezbollah ambush crews used to attack Israeli vehicles and troop concentrations. Hezbollah fighters were also equipped with modern night-vision equipment, erasing the night-time advantage that Western armies have come to take for granted.
The creation of a wholesale terrorist mini-state in southern Lebanon. This innovation permitted Hezbollah fighters to act entirely unconstrained by Lebanon’s army and government. It also complicated Israel’s response by turning the conflict into a three-way affair, in which Lebanon itself was cast as an innocent bystander being made to suffer for Hezbollah’s actions. By separating its jihadi cause from any particular sovereign, geographical entity, Hezbollah enjoyed the benefit of territorial control without the obligations and vulnerabilities that go with governance.
Cleverly concocted righteous fury. Hezbollah has always styled itself as a Lebanese “resistance” group.” When Israel evacuated its forces from Lebanon in 2000, this raison d’être was eliminated. But Hezbollah managed to keep its “resistance” campaign alive by insisting that the uninhabited Israeli-controlled Shebaa Farms border region is actually Lebanese territory. Unlike Islamist fanatics in other countries, moreover, Hezbollah has paid proper attention to domestic Muslim politics. From the beginning, the group has presented itself as the champion of Lebanon’s long-suffering Shiites. In the aftermath of last year’s war, Hezbollah turned the local destruction to its own advantage by funnelling Iranian cash into distressed Shiite areas.
Terrorists may be evil, but they aren’t stupid. As the migration of suicide bombers from Iraq to Afghanistan shows, they copy what works. And so in coming years, we should expect to see terrorists trying to import these Hezbollah innovations to Pakistan, the horn of Africa, Kashmir, Gaza, the West Bank and other parts of the Muslim world. As tiny as the 2006 Lebanon War was, it may have a gigantic impact on the defining struggle of our times.
26965  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: August 17, 2007, 09:56:31 AM
NY Times:

Liberties Advocates Fear Abuse of Satellite Images
 
By ERIC SCHMITT
Published: August 17, 2007
WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 — For years, a handful of civilian agencies have used limited images from the nation’s constellation of spy satellites to track hurricane damage, monitor climate change and create topographical maps.

But a new plan to allow emergency response, border control and, eventually, law enforcement agencies greater access to sophisticated satellites and other sensors that monitor American territory has drawn sharp criticism from civil liberties advocates who say the government is overstepping the use of military technology for domestic surveillance.

“It potentially marks a transformation of American political culture toward a surveillance state in which the entire public domain is subject to official monitoring,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists.

At issue is a newly disclosed plan that Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence, approved in May in a memorandum to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, which puts some of the nation’s most powerful intelligence-gathering tools at the disposal of domestic security officials as early as this fall.

The uses include enhancing seaport and land-border security, improving planning to mitigate natural disasters, and determining how best to secure major events, like the Super Bowl or national political conventions. Eventually, state and local law enforcement officials could be allowed to tap into the technology on a case-by-case basis, once legal guidelines are worked out, administration officials said.

Spy satellites, which provide higher-resolution photographs than commercial satellite imagery, and in real time, have traditionally been used overseas to monitor terrorist movements and nuclear tests. Their expanded use in domestic surveillance marks a new era in intelligence gathering, conjures up images of “Big Brother in the sky,” and raises civil liberties concerns.

“This touches so many Americans, it can’t be allowed to be discussed behind closed doors,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The new data sharing comes as Congress passed legislation this month that broadened the Bush administration’s authority to eavesdrop without warrants on some Americans’ international communications.

Administration officials say that in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, the government has been looking for ways to use spy satellites and other sensors to strengthen the nation’s defenses against terrorism.

“The view after Sept. 11 was that we ought to move this to homeland security and broaden the domain,” Charles E. Allen, the Department of Homeland Security’s top intelligence officer, said Thursday in a telephone interview. “We obviously believe this is a good expansion.”

The new plan largely follows recommendations included in a 2005 independent study group led by Keith R. Hall, a former head of the National Reconnaissance Office who is a vice president of the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

“Today, policies and practices governing the use of I.C. capabilities, many of which predate 9/11, discourage rather than encourage use by domestic users especially law enforcement,” the report said. The abbreviation I.C. refers to the intelligence community.

“The ultimate effect is missed opportunities to collect, exploit and disseminate domestic information critical to fighting the war on terrorism, preparing for, responding to, and recovering from disasters natural and man-made,” the report said.

The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prohibits the active-duty military forces from conducting law enforcement missions on American soil, and Mr. Allen underscored that the new information-sharing would not violate that ban.

Mr. Allen said that the new program would be especially useful for disaster planning, and for policing land and seaports. He said the effort might eventually share information with domestic law enforcement officials but only after a careful review that would take several months.

“We are not going to be penetrating buildings, bunkers or people’s homes with this,” Mr. Allen said. “I view that as absurd. My view is that no American should be concerned.”

A new office within the Homeland Security Department, called the National Applications Office, will be responsible beginning in October for coordinating requests from civilian agencies for spy satellite information.

The Homeland Security Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence would be responsible for overseeing the program. Reviews would be conducted by agency lawyers, inspectors general and privacy officers.

Civil liberties advocates complained that the agencies could not be trusted to supervise themselves, and that Congress needed to play a larger oversight role.

An official with the House Intelligence Committee said the panel had been notified of the program last spring but had not been given details of the data-sharing, and would ask for a full briefing when lawmakers returned in September from their summer recess.

“Crystal-clear rules on the use of such information are needed to protect the privacy of the American people,” said Representative Jane Harman, a California Democrat who heads the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment.
26966  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Peru on: August 17, 2007, 09:49:15 AM
NY Times

LIMA, Peru, Aug. 16 — A day after a powerful earthquake devastated cities along Peru’s southern coast, government officials put the death toll at 437, with at least 17,000 people displaced and with wide areas without power, telephone service or road access on Thursday night.


 
Mariana Bazo/Reuters
A coffin being carried through debris on Thursday in Pisco, a port city where at least 300 victims of Wednesday’s earthquake died. More Photos »


A boy offered comfort at a makeshift hospital opened in Pisco. The quake was one of the worst ever recorded in Peru. More Photos >
At least 300 of the dead were in Pisco, a port city about 125 miles south of Lima, and more were thought to be buried in rubble, local officials said. Dozens were inside the San Clemente cathedral, which was full for Mass when the quake caused it to cave in around 6:40 p.m. on Wednesday. Witnesses said the spire bell clanged horribly in the seconds before it tumbled down.

“I am a real man, but last night I was scared,” said Luis Chávez, 31, who was in the main square when the cathedral collapsed. “There was so much dust that all I could think of was the World Trade Center pictures.”

The mayor of Pisco, Juan Mendoza Uribe, said the quake had destroyed as much as 70 percent of the city. “So much effort and our city is destroyed,” he said, crying audibly, in comments broadcast on the radio station RPP in Lima.

Power and water service were still out in Pisco on Thursday night, and many residents said they would sleep outside again, afraid that aftershocks could topple more structures. In the city center, the wreckage of dozens of old adobe homes lay in the streets. Rescuers, working well into the night, were often forced to walk far out of their way as they carried bodies, sometimes in shouldered coffins, toward a makeshift morgue at the hospital.

In nearby Chincha Alta, a wall collapsed at the Tambo de Mora prison, and about 680 prisoners escaped, according to Manuel Aguilar, vice president of the National Institute of Penitentiaries. About 29 were recaptured and sent to another jail, he said. An Associated Press Television News cameraman in Chincha Alta reported seeing at least 30 bodies laid out on a hospital balcony.

Judith Luna Victoria, a spokeswoman for the National Civil Defense Institute, said that the number of confirmed dead was 437 and the number of injured was more than 800, but the toll was expected to rise.

Officials with the United States Geological Survey on Thursday raised their initial estimate of the strength of the earthquake to a magnitude of 8.0, making it one of the biggest quakes to strike Peru in decades. Throughout the day Thursday, dozens of aftershocks kept rolling through the area, with at least 14 rated at a magnitude of 5 or larger.

Across the region, neighboring governments rushed to offer aid to Peru, including Chile, which on Monday had recalled its ambassador from Peru over a continuing maritime territorial dispute. President Bush offered his condolences, and his spokesman, Gordon D. Johndroe, said a team from the Agency for International Development was in Lima.

President Alan García declared a state of emergency and flew in to visit Pisco and Ica, another hard-hit city to the south. “There has been a good international response even without Peru asking for it, and they’ve been very generous,” he told The Associated Press in Pisco.

The president of the Peruvian Congress, Luis Gonzales Posada, called on large companies to donate water, food, blankets and even coffins to aid in the rescue and reconstruction efforts.

It was one of the worst earthquake tolls recorded in Peru, which is no stranger to the disasters given the major fault line running off its coast. In 2001, a magnitude 8.4 quake struck at Arequipa, killing 138 people. In 1868, a magnitude 9 quake struck and was followed by a tsunami that killed several thousand more people, creating the worst disaster in Peru’s history.

In Lima, the capital, witnesses described the main earthquake as having come in two main waves. Some houses collapsed in the middle of the city, and the quake collapsed many power lines and broke windows across the capital. One person was reported killed on Wednesday.

Fernando Calderon, an American in Lima, said he was in his hotel when the quake struck. In a telephone interview with CNN, he described seeing buildings swaying from right to left as the ground shook.

“Finally we started hearing glass breaking and things falling out of the building, and that’s when everybody started screaming, praying, children crying,” he said. “It was just awful.”

In Ica, dozens of buildings collapsed in the earthquake and aftershocks. The local morgue had received at least 57 bodies as of Thursday, The Associated Press reported.

The quake cracked roads and brought down rocks and soil. The main road through the area, the Pan-American Highway, had only one usable lane over a stretch of more than 20 miles, and traffic was backed up for miles past.

To visit the worst-hit towns, officials, including President García, had to use helicopters.

In Pisco, many of the survivors were in shock, wandering the streets and crowding around the overwhelmed hospital, desperate for reports about loved ones or distraught after receiving the worst kind of news.

“There are corpses all over the place,” Luis García, a reporter for the Lima newspaper El Comercio, said in a telephone interview from Pisco. “The bodies are thrown everywhere and every family is mourning over the loss of a loved one, friend, neighbor or family member.”

He added: “The people need help to remove the rubble. They need tents, water and food, because there is nothing; everything is blocked off, destroyed.”

Reporting was contributed by Ana Cecilia Gonzales Vigil from Pisco, Peru; Jenny Carolina Gonzales from Bogotá, Colombia; Laura Puertas from Lima; and Daniel Cancel from Caracas, Venezuela.
26967  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: August 17, 2007, 09:34:12 AM
Tom:

What is the basis for your claim that we are flattening Iraq?

As for what our strategy is, what did you think of the content of my previous post?
26968  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: August 17, 2007, 09:29:55 AM
The Padilla Verdict
August 17, 2007; Page A12
It took a Miami jury merely a day and a half to convict Jose Padilla, alias Abdullah al-Muhajir, and two co-defendants of terrorism charges that carry a sentence of life imprisonment.

The quick verdict yesterday suggests that the prosecution's evidence in the three-month trial was overwhelming and unambiguous. It ought to quiet opponents of the war on terror who claimed that the reason Padilla was originally held as an enemy combatant -- because he was believed to have been involved in a plot to set off a radioactive "dirty bomb" in a U.S. city -- was a figment of President Bush's or John Ashcroft's imagination.

Of course, it won't. Watch instead as they cite Padilla's conviction as evidence for another favorite claim: that the civilian criminal-justice system is adequate to the task of preventing terrorism, and thus the military shouldn't be holding enemy combatants at all.

In fact, Padilla's case demonstrates the opposite. Before yesterday's verdict, war foes were sneering that prosecutors weren't even charging him in the dirty-bomb plot. That is true, but the reason he wasn't charged for that crime is that the case was procedurally deficient: The military didn't read Padilla his Miranda rights or provide him a lawyer when it interrogated him. Padilla was convicted instead of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people overseas. That means that if war opponents had their way, and if Padilla had been guilty only of planning to kill Americans on U.S. soil, he would walk free today.

This problem may be remediable in a similar future case. No doubt the next time a terrorist is picked up at O'Hare International Airport, FBI agents will read him his rights and make sure to honor them. But it is unreasonable to expect soldiers, Marines and intelligence officers on foreign battlefields to follow police procedures at the same time they're dodging bullets and trying to extract information to prevent attacks on Americans back home. The Padilla decision is reassuring in many respects, but it is not a model for the future handling of enemy combatants.

WSJ
26969  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: August 17, 2007, 09:22:36 AM
http://www.aish.com/literacy/jewishhistory/Napoleon_And_The_Jews.asp

Some interesting history about Napoleon and the Jews.
26970  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: August 17, 2007, 08:13:05 AM
Indeed. In this regard I am often reminded of Orwell's analysis in 1984.
26971  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The intent of the Founding Fathers on: August 17, 2007, 08:10:59 AM
"The whole of that Bill [of Rights] is a declaration of the
right of the people at large or considered as individuals...t
establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and
which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of."

-- Albert Gallatin (letter to Alexander Addison, 7 October 1789)

Reference: That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution
of a Constitutional Right, Halbrook; original MS. in
N.Y. Hist. Soc.-A.G. Papers, 2
26972  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: August 17, 2007, 08:09:11 AM
Woof All:

It was Baltic Dog that brought us to the attention of Original Productions/Nat Geo.

TAC,
CD
======================================================

National Geographic Channel (also on their HD (High Definition) channel)
Taboo Season IV: "Proving Ground"
Wednesday, August 22, 2007, 10pm
Thursday, August 23, 1am
Saturday, August 25, 3pm

In some cultures men prove their manhood by enduring pain. Get a pass into
an American Fight Club, where some successful, educated males engage in
physical combat to test their manhood, using anything to attack - blunt
knives, sticks, chairs, even soda cans. On the remote Indonesian island of
Sumba, hundreds of men take part in a time-honored event known as the
Pasola. Facing off in two teams on horseback, they charge toward each other
hurling spears.

Schedule:
http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/ET/daily/20070822.html

26973  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: August 17, 2007, 08:00:04 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The Limits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

The annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) broke in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on Thursday after several hours of photo-ops and grandstanding. On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Hu Jintao will attend military exercises in the Chelyabinsk region in Russia's Ural Mountains. Some 6,000 Russian and Chinese troops, dozens of aircraft and hundreds of armored vehicles and other heavy weapons will participate -- the first such joint drills on Russian soil.

Moscow is most certainly on the move. In the past few months, Russia has pushed against the Baltics and the Caucasus, and it is spinning up for a major effort to bring Ukraine firmly back into its orbit. The United States is distracted by Iraq and unable to act as a check on Russian ambition. The political battle lines along Russia's western frontier are hardening; the question there is, will the United States will be too distracted to push back? And will anyone in Europe dare move against Russia without the Americans at their back?

But looking eastward, as the cities of Europe give way to the steppes of Asia, the grand geopolitic of the Russian resurgence becomes less clearly defined. Unlike Europe, Russia's other border regions are not made up of relatively hostile alliances and economic groupings. The players are more opaque and resistance to Russia's whims is mushy.

Enter the SCO. The grouping was originally formed between China, Russia and a handful of former-Soviet Central Asian autocracies in order to manage the tangle of new borders resulting from the Soviet Union's demise. That the SCO achieved peacefully and successfully. Since then, the organization has groped about for a reason to exist. At times it seems a step away from becoming a framework for a Central Asian alliance; at other times it seems doomed to be reduced to a talk shop.

Thursday's summit -- at which bland promises about law enforcement cooperation and forming a common university were the main takeaways -- seems to fall into the latter category. About the only thing that the SCO can reliably agree on -- and this has become the SCO's perennial anchor point -- is that it does not want the United States mucking around in Central Asia.

Russia's problem in harnessing organizations such as the SCO to its needs are simple: There is another major power poking around in the region. That power, of course, is China. And as Moscow and Washington settle into dangerously familiar patterns, the question inevitably will be: which side is China on?

Russia and China are hardly hostile to one another, but there is certainly an inbuilt tension. The Chinese consider part of the Russian Far East to be their territory, and many of the native Central Asian and Siberian cultures are far more closely tied to Beijing than to Moscow. China needs masses of resources in order to continue developing -- resources that lie just across the border with Russia.

It is in Central Asia -- specifically under the aegis of the SCO -- where these two Asian giants meet and compete. While Russia is clearly the more aggressive power, it has been coasting on its imperial and Soviet links to maintain influence in the region, while the Chinese have been steadily and unobtrusively asserting their influence in subtle but effective ways. Nearly all of the Central Asian road, rail and energy infrastructure built before 1991 accesses the outside world via Russia -- nearly all built since then accesses the world via China.

The Russia-China disconnect is more than "simple" competition, and is both geopolitical and strategic in nature. Russia wants to push out and re-establish its empire; China wants to keep its head down and deal with its internal problems quietly.

But ultimately, the two cannot form a functional alliance because of a fundamental difference in mindset: Russia feels it is destined for a conflict with the United States, while China wants to avoid one at all costs. So long as that remains the case, the United States maintains the freedom to play the two powers against each other as the politics of the day demand -- just as it did for the last generation of the Cold War -- and the SCO will remain a place where Russian and Chinese differences are peaceably compared, but never really resolved.
26974  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: August 17, 2007, 12:08:56 AM
U.S.: Upping the Ante with Iran
August 15, 2007 14 08  GMT



Summary

The United States has just significantly upped the ante in negotiations with Iran over Iraq by threatening to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. The thought of designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization has been floating in the U.S. Congress for some time now, but Washington has a clear purpose in sending strong hints to Iran that the decision is imminent at this stage of the Iraq negotiations.

Analysis

The United States has just significantly upped the ante in negotiations with Iran over Iraq by threatening to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. The threat, leaked by anonymous U.S. officials to The Washington Post, is an intentional message to Iran.

The message is this: We are not content with your negotiating position, and if you think you are the only side that can ratchet up the level of pain in this situation, you are wrong.

Stratfor has long contended that the negotiations between Washington and Tehran are the key to any possible settlement on the Iraq issue, and that if a deal is to be reached, things will look like they are descending into chaos immediately prior. This is standard bargaining. Each side has to appear as though it is willing to walk away from the table, to the detriment of the other side.

The flip side to this gambit is that if a deal is not reached, Washington has just added much more fuel to the fire.

Sanctions are at best an imprecise tool, but Washington's heavy leaning on Europe has made them much more effective of late. The thought of designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization has been floating in the U.S. Congress for some time now, but Washington has a clear purpose in sending strong hints to Iran that the decision is imminent at this stage of the Iraq negotiations.

There are two implications to this designation. The first and most important right now is money. The United States has long grappled with the challenge of pressuring the international community -- which includes many of Tehran's major energy clients -- to enforce harmful sanctions against Iran. Instead of going through the formal U.N. Security Council sanctions process, Washington has focused instead on a financial strangulation policy that basically involves targeting a number of financial institutions worldwide. The message to these foreign businesses and banks is plain: Continue doing business with Iran and risk losing your business in the United States. Without major international banks' willingness to facilitate Iran's transactions, Tehran will have fewer and fewer options for making purchases without using actual cash. It simply is not possible to operate millions of dollars in transactions daily with suitcases full of cash.

Iran is genuinely suffering from the financial sanctions, which are generating significant domestic pressure on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. By designating the IRGC a terrorist organization, the United States has many more tools at its disposal to cut off funding to an international network that not only fights for Iran, but also finances its fighting through a number of business ventures, ranging from pipeline construction to pharmaceuticals. The current sanctions regime has been increasingly effective, and this new set of tools could put Iran's finances in lockdown. Labeling the IRGC as a terrorist entity, rather than an official state security apparatus, also could significantly hamper Iran's defense deals. By homing in on the wealthiest and most senior IRGC commanders, the United States is threatening the stability of the Islamic Republic and Ahmadinejad's support network.

There also is the symbolic aspect of further isolating Iran and making it appear as less of a legitimate player in the international community. Iran wants to be recognized as a legitimate regional power -- and it cannot be that when its Revolutionary Guard Corps is considered a terrorist organization.

The ball is in Iran's court now.
stratfor.com
26975  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Peru on: August 16, 2007, 10:31:27 PM
Un amigo en Lima escribe:

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

Hola Marc

los hechos actuales (21 00, un día despúes):
Mas de 500 muertos (siguen encontrando cadáveres)
Mas de 1300 heridos.
Ica y Pisco colabsaron (falta de agua, electricidad etc...)
La panamericana esta en algunas partes afectada y destrozada.
El gobierno reaccionó solo con llevar los 400 heridos mas graves vía aerea a
Lima. Ya pasó un día y no hubo ayuda directa del gobierno. No existe un plan
de emergencia. Se necesita agua, alimento, medicina, frazadas, carpas,
atención médica etc...
En Tambo de mora (Chincha) se fugaron 630 de 650 prisioneros despues de la
caída del muro de la carcel.
Se estan mobilisando y organisando muchas empresas y personas para
solidaridarse y dar fines materiales y tambien para ir personalmente a
apoyar a una institución o a defensa civil.
Hubo maretazos y en toda la costa entre Lima y Pisco hubo daño. Evacuaron la
noche pasada a mucha gente que vive cerca de la costa en Lima(Chorrillos,
Lima). Hasta ahora van mas de 700 replicas (movimientos sismicos).
La cosa esta fea en Pisco, Ica. Juntaron los cadáveres en la plaza de armas.
Se requiere de ayuda inmediata. Hay que trasladar los cadáveres, hay que
buscar por sobrevivientes etc...
No hay agua y no hay electricidad. Esperemos que mañana ya se vean avanzes
en la ayuda  gobernal  y apoyo de voluntarios.
En mi trabajo la gente ya se organizo para apoyar donando o siendo
voluntario.
Te mantengo al tanto...
26976  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / An excerpt from a very good read on: August 16, 2007, 06:30:39 PM
Tom:

I think this exposition of the why of our strategy is sound.

==========

The World in a nutshell

This is a presentation by Herbert Meyer. He was the first senior U.S. Government official to forecast the Soviet Union's collapse. For this, he awarded the U.S. National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, the highest honor that can be received from within intelligence community. This presentation was made to a symposium of Chief Executive Officers of several large international corporations, and as such, is directed at questions and answers for business. However, the points he makes are very much in tune with the points being made in many other discussions in the international political arena, and has some impact on the Shaping and IW issues. The business and demographic sections are pretty good.

U.S. Joint Forces Command, Joint Futures Lab

Subject: Four Major Transformations

"Currently, there are four major transformations that are shaping political, economic and world events. These transformations have profound implications for American business owners, our culture and our way of LIFE. "

1. The War in Iraq

There are three major monotheistic religions in the world: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. In the 16th century, Judaism and Christianity reconciled with the modern world. The rabbis, priests and scholars found a way to settle up and pave the way forward. Religion remained at the center of life, church and state became separate. Rule of law, idea of economic liberty, individual rights, human rights all these are defining points of modern Western civilization. These concepts started with the Greeks but didn't take off until the 15th and 16th century when Judaism and Christianity found a way to reconcile with the modern world. When that happened, it unleashed the scientific revolution and the greatest outpouring of art, literature and music the world has ever known.

Islam, which developed in the 7th century, counts millions of Moslems around the world who are normal people. However, there is a radical streak within Islam. When the radicals are in charge, Islam attacks Western civilization. Islam first attacked Western civilization in the 7th century, and later in the 16th and 17th centuries.

By 1683, the Moslems (Turks from the Ottoman Empire) were literally at the gates of Vienna. It was in Vienna that the climatic battle between Islam and Western civilization took place. The West won and went forward. Islam lost and went backward. Interestingly, the date of that battle was September 11. Since them, Islam has not found a way to reconcile with the modern world.

Today, terrorism is the third attack on Western civilization by radical Islam. To deal with terrorism, the U.S. is doing two things. First, units of our armed forces are in 30 countries around the world hunting down terrorist groups and dealing with them. This gets very little publicity. Second we are taking military action in Afghanistan and Iraq. These are covered relentlessly by the media. People can argue about whether the war in Iraq country-region is right or wrong.

However, the underlying strategy behind the war is to use our military to remove the radicals from power and give the moderates a chance. Our hope is that, over time, the moderates will find a way to bring Islam forward into the 21st century. That's what our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan i all about.

The lesson of 9/11 is that we live in a world where a small number of people can kill a large number of people very quickly. They can use airplanes, bombs, anthrax, chemical weapons or dirty bombs. Even with a first-rate intelligence service (which the U.S. does not have), you can't stop every attack. That means our tolerance for political horseplay has dropped to zero. No longer will we play games with terrorists or weapons of mass destruction.

Most of the instability and horseplay is coming from the Middle East. That's why we have thought that if we could knock out the radicals and give the moderates a chance to hold power; they might find a way to reconcile Islam with the modern world. So when looking at Afghanistan or Iraq, it's important to look for any signs that they are modernizing. For example, women being brought into the workforce and colleges in Afghanistan is good. The Iraqis stumbling toward a constitution is good. People can argue about what the U.S. is doing and how we're doing it, but anything that suggests Islam is finding its way forward is good.
, , ,

Implications Of The Four Transformations:

1. The War in Iraq

In some ways, the war is going very well. Afghanistan and Iraq have the ' start' of a modern government, which is a huge step forward. The Saudis are starting to talk about some good things, while Egypt and Lebanon are beginning to move in a good direction.

A series of revolutions have taken place in countries like Ukraine and Georgia. There will be more of these revolutions for an interesting reason. In every revolution, there comes a point where the dictator turns to the general and says, "Fire into the crowd." If the general fires into the crowd, it stops the revolution. If the general says "No," the revolution is over. Increasingly, the generals are saying "No" because their kids are in the crowd.

Thanks to TV and the Internet, the average 18-year old outside the U.S. is very savvy about what is going on in the world, especially in terms of popular culture. There is a huge global consciousness, and young people around the world want to be a part of it. It is increasingly apparent to them that the miserable government where they live is the only thing standing in their way. More and more, it is the well-educated kids, the children of the generals and the elite, who are leading the revolutions.

At the same time, not all is well with the war. The level of violence in Iraq is much worse and doesn't appear to be improving. It's possible that we're asking too much of Islam all at one time. We're trying to jolt them from the 7th century to the 21st century all at once, which may be further than they can go. They might make it and they might not. Nobody knows for sure. The point is, we don't know how the war will turn out. Anyone who says they know is just guessing.

The real place to watch is Iran. If they actually obtain nuclear weapons it will be a terrible situation. There are two ways to deal with it. The first is a military strike, which will be very difficult. The Iranians have dispersed their nuclear development facilities and put them underground. The U.S. has nuclear weapons that can go under the earth and take out those facilities, but we don't want to do that.

The other way is to separate the radical mullahs from the government, which is the most likely course of action.

Seventy percent of the Iranian population is under 30. They are Moslem but not Arab. They are mostly pro-Western. Many experts think the U.S. should have dealt with Iran before going to war with Iraq. The problem isn't so much the weapons; it's the people who control them. If Iran has a moderate government, the weapons become less of a concern.

We don't know if we will win the war in Iraq. We could lose or win. What we are looking for is any indicator that Islam is moving into the 21st century and stabilizing.

26977  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: August 16, 2007, 06:20:17 PM
The Windsor Hezbollah Billboard:CBS Violates Federal Law
2007-08-12 11:16am PT | Total Score: 67 points | Average Rating: 4.19 out of 5 | Post History | Visit Debbie Schlussel

By Debbie Schlussel
Thanks to the many readers who sent me the Windsor Star article about the Hezbollah CBS billboard in downtown Windsor, Ontario, Canada (right over the river from us here in Detroit). The Star is an excellent paper and used to be edited by a friend of mine. I read it regularly, as the same Sharia that is beginning to be instituted here and the same Islamicization we see is magnified ten-fold just a few miles away in another country.
 
CBS' Hezbollah Billboard in Canad

An unidentified party paid to post a pro-Hezbollah billboard, featuring photos of Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, as well as other Hezbollah officials. While that is disturbing, it really is not surprising if you've ever been to Windsor, especially lately. Hezbollah and HAMAS supporters who can't get in here, live freely over there. And others who can't get in here, regularly are smuggled through in car trunks from over there to here. And Hezbollah supporters here have training camps over there.
The billboard may be against the law in Canada, where free speech laws are less absolute, but it's definitely illegal under U.S. law for other reasons.

What's disturbing is that CBS owns the billboard and allowed it to be posted. This is a violation of federal law here in America. It makes no difference that the billboard is in Canada. Federal law prohibits providing material support, including communications (such as a billboard), to terrorist groups. Hezbollah is not only on the State Department Terrorist List, it is also a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity by the U.S. Department of Treasury.
Therefore, with the posting of this billboard supporting Hezbollah, CBS has gone beyond the bounds of free speech and entered the boundaries of illegality.
Unfortunately, nothing will likely happen to CBS for doing so. Who enforces the laws? Well, our spineless, wimpy, partial-to-Muslims Justice Department does. They will never pursue CBS for doing so. So, CBS will get away with it.

Conceivably, a victim of Hezbollah terrorism and his/her relatives could try to sue CBS over this material support, but it's a stretch. Such a suit, though, would be interesting because it would force CBS, through discovery, to disclose exactly who paid for the billboard, and let us know exactly who is working for Hezbollah in North America--at least, in connection with the billboard.
For now, you can contact CBS and protest this billboard. Ask CBS why they will allow their billboards (and who knows what other media outlets--CBS radio? CBS television network?) to be used as vessels for a terrorist group's propaganda . . . a terrorist group that murdered over 300 U.S. Marines and civilians in barracks and an embassy in Beirut, almost 100 people in the Buenos Aires Jewish Community Center and Israeli Embassy, and countless U.S. soldiers in Iraq against whom Hezbollah is producing IEDs.

And there is another thing not specified in the article. Windsor's Mayor, Eddie Francis, is a Lebanese Maronite Christian. He is generally a good guy, but he is under pressure from the Muslim community in Detroit, with whom he has broken bread. I'm glad to see he denounced the billboard. For him--a pro-Western Christian Arab in a city with a geometrically-growing Muslim Arab population--that was courageous and laudable. Compared to spineless politicians here, like Michael Chertoff--who regularly visits the open agents and supporters of Iran and Hezbollah--that is a breath of fresh air.

Another positive development: The Windsor Jewish community--to whom I once spoke and with whom I have a good relationship--is, unlike most Jewish communities here in America, especially in Detroitistan. They are a small community that fights against the pan-Islamist winds (in Detroit, the Jewish "leadership" embraces and bows down to those winds). They are less liberal and more proud to be Jews and Canadians. They've spoken out harshly against the billboard, whereas here in Detroit, the Jews would embrace it as a great thing (so-called Detroit Jewish "leaders," like Sharona Shapiro, regularly kiss the butts of Hezbollah's and Iran's agents and full-fledged supporters here).
And for those who keep telling me that most Muslims are against terrorism, please tell me why every Muslim intervied by The Windsor Star praised Hezbollah. Most Muslims may not be involved in terrorism. But most Muslims actively cheer it on. Wake up, Dhummis (not you the readers of this site).
More from The Windsor Star:
Members of the Jewish and Lebanese Christian communities in Windsor are outraged by the appearance of a billboard that appears to promote Hezbollah -- an organization the Canadian government considers terrorist.
"That organization is banned in Canada," said Harvey Kessler, executive director of the Windsor Jewish Community Centre. "How can that billboard be up in Windsor when it represents a terrorist organization which is banned under the laws of Canada?"
Located at the southwest corner of Marion Avenue and Wyandotte Street East, the billboard does not mention Hezbollah by name, but features a central image of Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the controversial political and military group. . . .
Kessler said he feels Nasrallah represents "the opposite of peace. It should be offensive to all people living in Windsor. It should be offensive not only to the Jewish community, but to any Canadian."
Emile Nabbout, president of the Windsor branch of the Lebanese Christian political group Kataeb, said he also thinks Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, and he feels the billboard creates a misconception of the views of Windsor's Lebanese community.
"We really are not in support or in favour of that billboard and it should be removed ASAP," Nabbout said. . . . "By just analyzing the picture, there is no doubt in my mind this is a Hezbollah activity," he added.
Printed in English on the left side of the billboard are the words: "Lebanese and Arab communities in Windsor city congratulate the Lebanese people for their steadfastness and endeavor to establish peace in Lebanon."
But Nabbout said that Arabic writing which appears on the right side of the billboard does not match the English translation. According to Nabbout, the Arabic writing makes a reference to fighting.
"What they mean by 'fight' is basically 'guerrilla' -- using arms and weapons," Nabbout said. "Basically, there is a very specific word... That is a definite difference between the Arabic and the English."
Contacted on Friday night, Mayor Eddie Francis said he was made aware of the billboard earlier in the day. Asked if he is concerned about its presence, Francis said: "The politics of Lebanon belong in Lebanon, not on the streets of Windsor."
Francis said he has no idea who was responsible for the billboard, but the city is now looking into whether its content violates any rules. . . .
According to [Muslim Windsor resident Sam] Ali, the accusations that Hezbollah is terrorist are untrue. "Hezbollah is freedom fighting. Whoever calls them terrorist is a liar," he said. . . .
Fellow Lebanese native and Muslim Ghina Maawie said she doesn't understand why anyone would be offended by the billboard. "When I saw it, I felt so happy and so proud of it," she said.
=====================

26978  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: August 16, 2007, 05:11:53 PM
David S. Broder: Shaking up presidential race
Sacramento Bee, Opinion


David S. Broder

When Fred Thompson makes his long-delayed entrance into the Republican presidential race, he will not tiptoe quietly.

Instead, he will try to shake up the establishment candidates of both parties by depicting a nation in peril from fiscal and security threats -- and prescribing tough cures he says others shrink from offering.

In a two-hour conversation over coffee at a restaurant near his Virginia headquarters, the former senator from Tennessee said that when he joins the battle next month, he "will take some risks that others are not willing to take, in terms of forcing a dialogue on our entitlement situation, our military situation and what it's going to cost" to assure the nation's future.

After spending most of the last few years on TV's "Law and Order," and starting a new family with two children under 4, the 65-year-old lawyer says he finds himself motivated for the first time to seek the White House.

"There's no reason for me to run just to be president," he said.

"I don't desire the emoluments of the office. I don't want to live a lie and clever my way to the nomination or election. But if you can put your ideas out there -- different, more far-reaching ideas -- that is worth doing." Thompson, like many of the others running, has caught a strong whiff of the public disillusionment with both parties in Washington -- and the partisanship that has infected Congress, helping to speed his own departure from the Senate.

But he says he thinks that the public is looking for a different kind of leadership. "I think a president could go to the American people and say, 'Here's what we need to be doing. and I'm willing to go half-way.' Now you have to make them (the opposition) go half-way." The approach Thompson says he's contemplating is one that will step on many sensitive political toes. When he says "we're getting a free ride" fighting a necessary war in Iraq with an undersized military establishment, "wearing out our people and equipment," it sounds like a criticism of the president and the Pentagon.

When he says he would have opposed adding the prescription drug benefit to Medicare, "a $17 trillion add-on to a program that's going bankrupt," he is fighting the bipartisan judgment of the last Congress.

When he says the FBI is perhaps incapable of morphing itself into the smart domestic security agency the country needs, he is attacking another sacred cow.

Thompson repeatedly cites two texts as fueling his concern about the country's future. One is "Government at the Brink," a two-volume report he issued as chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee at the start of the Bush administration in 2001 and handed to the new president's budget director as a checklist of urgent management problems in Washington.

The difficulties outlined in federal procurement, personnel, finances and information technology remain today, Thompson said, and increasingly "threaten national security." His second sourcebook contains the scary reports from Comptroller General David Walker, the head of the Governmental Accountability Office, on the long-term fiscal crisis spawned by the aging of the American population and the runaway costs of health care. Walker labels the current patterns of federal spending "unsustainable," and warns that unless action is taken soon to improve both sides of the government's fiscal ledger -- spending and revenues -- the next generation will suffer.

"Nobody in Congress or on either side in the presidential race wants to deal with it," Thompson said. "So we just rock along and try to maintain the status quo. Republicans say keep the tax cuts; Democrats say keep the entitlements. And we become a less unified country in the process, with a tax code that has become an unholy mess, and all we do is tinker around the edges." Thompson readily concedes that he does not know "where all those chips are going to fall" when he starts challenging members of various interest groups to look beyond their individual agendas and weigh the sacrifices that could assure a better future for their children.

But these issues -- national security and the fiscal crisis of an aging society with runaway heath care costs -- "are worth a portion of a man's life. If I can't get elected talking that way, I probably don't deserve to be elected."

Thompson says "I feel free to do it" his own way, and that freedom may just be enough to shake up the presidential race.
26979  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Peru on: August 16, 2007, 04:39:06 PM
Un email de un amigo en Lima:

felizmente en Lima no hubo tanta destrucción. El terremoto era de 8.0 scala
Richter. La peor parte
se llevó la region Pisco/Ica. En Lima se sintio y se veia como se movia la
calle, era una sensacion como
estar surfeando, el piso se movia en todas direcciones. En la región de Ica
hasta ahora hay 430 muertos y muchisima gente se quedo sin vivienda. 
Desgraciadamente van a haber aun mas muertos ya que falta regiones y puebles
alejados como Lunahuana etc...Despues del primer terrremoto hubo un segundo
menos fuerte, pero el primero fue de 2 minutos que nos pareció como media
hora. Despues hubieron 120 replicas que apenas se sentian. Se cayó tambien
toda comunicación, eso fue feo, porque nadie se pudo comunicar con sus
familias y casas y la gente en la calle llorando de la desesperación.
En Chincha (cerca de Ica) se escaparon 600 prisioneros de la carcel durante
el terremoto (agarraron recien a 3o).
Hay saqueos (robos), pero tambien mucha gente se esta yendo al Sur a ayudar
con víveres etc...
26980  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: August 16, 2007, 01:52:00 PM
Another red day for most, but LNOP is up nicely.
26981  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Particular Stocks on: August 16, 2007, 01:21:43 PM
David Gordon's comments are always worth careful consideration:

http://eutrapelia.blogspot.com/
26982  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Peru on: August 16, 2007, 12:30:42 PM
Acabo de recibir noticias.  Mi madre estaba en la sala cuando el grande terromoto (ahora se dice que fue 8.0) pego'.  El techo parcialmente se cayo' y con ello la puerta al exterior.  Fortunadamente una amiga estaba visitando y ella se le ayudo' a mi madre (quien tiene 75 anos) salir por una ventana.  Ellas se durmieron en el van con los perros (dos Rotts). 
26983  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Peru on: August 16, 2007, 12:09:09 PM
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/recenteqsww/Quakes/quakes_all.php
26984  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: August 16, 2007, 09:07:16 AM
http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/
26985  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Los Terremotos on: August 16, 2007, 08:50:40 AM
Todos:

Estoy MUY preocupado por mi madre, quien vive 25 km oriente de Pisco-- osea casi en el mero centro de muchos de los terremotos que acontecieron ayer y continuan aconteciniendo hoy.   Cuando trato de llamarla, la linea dice "ocupado" con el sonido que se hace cuando todas las lineas estan ocupados o descompuestos.

Cuando fui a dormir a noche, los datas que yo tenia eran que hubo un terremoto de 7.9  shocked y mas de 10 terremotos entre 5.5 y 6.0.

Recibimos una llamada que fue desconectado despues de un minuto de alguien quien trabaja para mi madre diciendo que la carretero entre Chincha y Pisco esta' j*dido completament y nadie puede pasar.   Tambien dijo que la mitad de Chincha esta' cayido.

Si unos de Uds tienen articulos sobre la situacion, por favor compartalos aqui.  He aqui uno en ingles:

La Aventura continua , , ,
=====================

LA Times:

CHINCHA, Peru (AP) -- The death toll from a powerful earthquake rose to at least 337 Thursday, a day after the magnitude-7.9 temblor shook Peru's coast, toppled buildings and shattered roads, officials said.

More than 827 people were reported injured and the Red Cross said the toll was expected to rise.

Rescue workers struggled to reach the center of the destruction, the port city of Pisco about 125 miles southeast of the capital, Lima. Pisco's mayor said at least 200 people were buried in the rubble of a church where they had been attending a service.

''The dead are scattered by the dozens on the streets,'' Mayor Juan Mendoza told Lima radio station CPN.

''We don't have lights, water, communications. Most houses have fallen, churches, stores, hotels, everything is destroyed,'' he said, sobbing.

An AP Television News cameraman who reached the city of Chincha, about 100 miles southeast of Lima, said he counted 30 bodies under bloody sheets on the floor of the badly damaged hospital.

Another church collapsed Wednesday evening in the city of Ica, 165 miles south of Lima, killing 17, according to cable news station Canal N.

The government rushed police, soldiers, doctors and aid to the stricken areas along the coast south of the capital but hundreds of vehicles were paralyzed on the Pan American Highway by giant cracks in the pavement and fallen power lines, the AP Television News cameraman reported from Chincha.

Giorgio Ferrario, head of the Peruvian International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, said teams from the Peruvian Red Cross arrived in Ica and Pisco after 7 1/2 hours, about three times as long as it would normally have taken because the earthquake had destroyed the roads to these areas.

He said that he expected the death toll to climb as rescue teams worked in the daylight.

News reports said dozens of people in Ica crowded hospitals that suffered cracks and other structural damage. The quake also knocked out telephone and mobile phone service in the capital and to the provinces, making it impossible to communicate with the Ica area.

Electricity also was cut to Ica and smaller towns along the coast south of Lima.

An Associated Press photographer said that some homes had collapsed in the center of Lima and that many people had fled into the streets for safety. The quake shook Lima furiously for more than two minutes.

''This is the strongest earthquake I've ever felt,'' said Maria Pilar Mena, 47, a sandwich vendor in Lima. ''When the quake struck, I thought it would never end.''

Antony Falconi, 27, was desperately trying to get public transportation home as hundreds of people milled on the streets flagging down buses in the dark.

''Who isn't going to be frightened?'' Falconi said. ''The earth moved differently this time. It made waves and the earth was like jelly.''

Firefighters were called to put out a fire in a shopping center. Police reported that large boulders shook loose from hills and were blocking the country's Central Highway, which heads east into the Andes mountains.

State doctors called off a national strike that began on Wednesday to handle the emergency. President Alan Garcia also said public schools would be closed Thursday because the buildings may be unsafe.

The Civil Defense death toll of 337 first appeared on its Web site, but the organization's spokesman, Dario Ariola, refused to confirm the figure, which was much higher than the numbers provided by the health minister. But minutes later Civil Defense Commander Aristides Mussio confirmed the toll on Peru's state television station, saying one person was killed in Lima and 336 in the region of Ica.

The U.S. Geological Survey said Wednesday's earthquake hit at 6:40 p.m. about 90 miles southeast of Lima at a depth of about 25 miles. Four strong aftershocks ranging from magnitudes of 5.4 to 5.9 were felt afterward.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for the coasts of Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama. A tsunami watch was issued for the rest of Central America and Mexico and an advisory for Hawaii.

The center canceled all the alerts after about two hours, but it said the quake had caused an estimated 10-inch tsunami near the epicenter.

The last time a quake of magnitude 7.0 or larger struck Peru was in September 2005, when a 7.5-magnitude earthquake rocked the country's northern jungle, killing four people. In 2001, a 7.9-magnitude quake struck near the southern Andean city of Arequipa, killing 71 people.

The region sits on two plates that are constantly shifting and Thursday's earthquake, like most earthquakes in the area, occurred when one plate dove under the other quickly, according to Amy Vaughan, a USGS geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo.

The plates are always ''moving slowly, but this was a sudden shift,'' Vaughan said.

Some of the world's biggest quakes, including the catastrophic Indian Ocean temblor in 2004 that generated deadly tsunami waves, are caused by a similar movement of plates.

26986  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: September 2007 Euro Gathering on: August 16, 2007, 08:11:34 AM
I'll be there in Old Dog mode. grin
26987  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Muay Thai on: August 16, 2007, 08:10:32 AM
Hola Jose:

!Tony Ja es tremendo! 

Habiendo dicho eso, sospecho que el hace muchas cosas en la pelicula precisamente porque se ven bonitos en el pantalla del cine.

CD
26988  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: August 16, 2007, 08:07:38 AM
The forces of pre-emptive Dhimmitude on the march again:

========

http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArti...71983050814540


Quote:
Backlash Overdue

Surrender: Scotland's National Health Services employees have been told
not to eat at their desks next month so they won't offend fasting Muslims. We regret to report this is not an isolated case of Euro cave-in.

In an e-mail "to all senior managers, giving guidance on religious
tolerance," the Scotsman said Monday, the NHS Equality and Diversity
Officer — a title that alone tells a story — has asked that staff members
refrain from eating at their desks, forgo working lunches and make sure
that food trolleys are not left in areas where Muslims work.

Why? It will soon be Ramadan, an Islamic observance beginning in
September during which Muslims fast for 30 days.

We have a hard time imagining the NHS or any other European government
agency carving out special dispensations for Christians who don't eat meat
on Fridays or fast during Lent.

What about prayer time for Christians in this nominal Christian nation?
Muslims, whose feelings are being protected as if they are an endangered
species, have been granted breaks to pray.

Despite appearances to the contrary, sensible people can still be found in
Europe.

"Frankly, this advice, well meaning as it may be, is total nonsense," Bill
Aitken, speaking for the Scottish Conservative Justice Party, told the
Scotsman. "This is the sort of thing that can stir up resentments rather
than result in good relations."

That is exactly what the forces of diversity, tolerance and political
correctness, so busy feeling morally superior, don't understand.

As we said, this is not an isolated case. While the Scottish NHS grovels
before Islam, across the North Sea in Belgium the mayor of Brussels is
refusing to let a group demonstrate on Sept. 11 — remember that date? —
against the introduction of Sharia laws in Europe.

This is not Nazis marching on Skokie, Ill., but Europeans from Great Britain,
Germany and Denmark who are alarmed by the Islamization of their
homelands. They want to take their protest through the streets of
Brussels to the European Parliament, where they will stop and honor the
9/11 victims with a moment of silence.

Clearly, they are being singled out.

The Brussels Journal, a blog of European journalists and writers, reports
that Brussels receives 500 and 600 protest applications a year and "with
very few exceptions permission is always granted. In the past five years
only six applications were turned down."

Mayor Freddy Thielemans, however, is saying no; he fears there will be
violence between marchers and local Muslims, which isn't exactly a
confirmation that Islam is the "religion of peace."

There might be more to the story, though. The Brussels Journal says
Thielemans "is an atheist who is fond of Muslims, not because he respects
religious people, but because he hates Christians."

He even publicly celebrated the news of Pope John Paul II's death, the
Journal reports.

But Brussels' socialist mayor doesn't have the last word. He can be
overruled by the Belgian Council of State. For the sake of free speech, the
right to assemble and Europe's future, we hope he is.
26989  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A conspiracy on: August 16, 2007, 08:04:53 AM
http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArti...71983205687357

A Muslim 'Mafia'?

Homeland Security: Forget everything you've been told about
"moderate" Muslim groups in America. New evidence that U.S. prosecutors
have revealed at a major terror trial exposes the facade.

Exhibit No. 003-0085 is the most chilling. Translated from Arabic by federal
investigators in the case against the Holy Land Foundation, an alleged
Hamas front, the secret document outlines a full-blown conspiracy by the
major Muslim groups in America — all of which are considered "mainstream"
by the media.

In fact, they are part of the "Ikhwan," or Muslim Brotherhood, the parent
organization of Hamas, al-Qaida and other major Islamic terror groups.
They have conspired to infiltrate American society with the purpose of
undermining it and turning it into an Islamic state.

Check out this quote from Page 7 of the 1991 document:

"The Ikwhan must understand that all their work in America is a kind of
grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from
within and sabotaging their miserable house by the hands of the believers
so that it is eliminated and Allah's religion is made victorious over all
religions."

Sounds like the latest screed from Osama bin Laden. But it comes from the
Muslim establishment in America.

The secret plan lists several Saudi-backed Muslim groups as "friends" of
the conspiracy.

They include the Islamic Society of North America — the umbrella
organization — and the North American Islamic Trust, which controls most
of the mosques in America and is the forerunner to the Council on
American-Islamic Relations, this country's most visible Muslim-rights group.

All three have been cited as unindicted co-conspirators in the case, with
all three sharing membership in the Muslim Brotherhood. Yet all have
claimed, in the wake of 9/11, to be moderate, even patriotic.

Another exhibit reveals their plan to create innocuous-sounding "front
groups" to hide their radical agenda.

Many in the media and politics have fallen for their deception and helped
bring them into the mainstream.

Now everyone knows the truth.

The Muslim establishment that publicly decries the radical fringe —
represented by Hamas and al-Qaida — may actually be a part of it. The
only difference is that they use words and money instead of bombs to
accomplish their subversive goals.

Over the past two decades they have constructed, with Saudi money, an
elaborate infrastructure of support for the bad guys — right under our
noses.

They even brag about putting "beehives" (Islamic centers) in every major
city.

These exhibits — which so far have been ignored by major media outside
the Dallas area, where the trial is under way — completely blow the
mainstream Muslim NGOs' cover as pro-American moderates. Many, if not
most, aren't.

This is their real agenda, spelled out in black and white. It should help
investigators build a RICO case to dismantle the entire terror-support
network in America.

Many have suspected it, but now we have proof that there is a secret
underworld operating inside America under the cover of fronts with
legitimate-sounding names.

It even uses charities to launder money for violent hits on enemies. It's
highly organized, with its own internal bylaws and security to avoid
monitoring from law enforcement.

Sounds like the Mafia.

But unlike the mob, this syndicate is religious in nature and protected by
political correctness.

More evidence like this should put an end to such nonsense.
 

26990  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: August 16, 2007, 07:52:02 AM
As we all know, Saudi Arabia is the home of the Muslim religion, and SA is the home of AQ.  Here is one particular take on the SA government and its relation with Islam:
=============


csmonitor.com - The Christian Science Monitor Online
from the August 15, 2007 edition -
http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0815/p09s02-coop.html

A tipping point in Saudi Arabia
By favoring merchants over clerics, Abdullah is making crucial reforms.
By Dana Moss and Zvika Krieger

Brussels; and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

When Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud was crown prince of Saudi Arabia, one
of his most infamous decisions was banning the use of camera phones in 2004
- a demand from the country's Wahhabi clergy who claimed the devices were
"spreading obscenity."

But the decision was quickly reversed when King Abdullah faced pressure from
his government ministers and, allegedly, from a cadre of foreign businessmen
who threatened to pull their companies from Saudi Arabia. "Abdullah was
presented with a choice between the Wahhabis and good business," says one
Riyadh-based businessman. "His decision [for the latter] was clear."

It is a decision that Abdullah has made time and again over the course of
his reign as king, which hit its two-year mark this month. By sidelining the
traditional clergy in favor of the merchant classes and more progressive
religious voices, Abdullah has been challenging the "great bargain" of the
Saudi state - namely the empowerment of the Wahhabi ulema (hard-line Islamic
scholars) in exchange for their sanction of the House of Saud.

This unlikely reformer, who has unofficially led the kingdom since King
Fahd's stroke in 1995, has propelled the country through a radical
transformation. From accession to the World Trade Organization to the
billion-dollar overhaul of the educational system to increased criticism of
the religious "police" who enforce a strict interpretation of Islamic sharia
law, the closed kingdom is beginning to crack open.

'The oil boom is over'

These reforms come at a critical time. Saudi Arabia is barreling toward an
economic and social crisis if it does not act fast. Almost 75 percent of
Saudi citizens are under age 30 and youth unemployment is approaching 30
percent - a potential breeding ground for terrorists and regime dissidents.
Current high oil prices are not enough to paper over the economic ravages of
the past two decades. "The oil boom is over and will not return," Abdullah
told his subjects. "All of us must get used to a different lifestyle."

Economic restructuring of the kingdom is no easy task, nor can it be
separated from social reform, such as increasing women's participation in
economic life and creating a business environment and laws suitable for
foreign companies.

Faced with resistance from the conservative official ulema, Abdullah has
adopted a strategy of "circumvention" to coerce these reforms - officially
toeing the Wahhabi line, but quietly giving more leeway to the private
sector.

Education, for example, had traditionally been firmly under Wahhabi control,
with a focus on creating more imams than businessmen. But this won't help a
country striving to become an international powerhouse. So private
universities - previously shunned by the religious elite because of their
relative independence - have recently been legalized, with a half-dozen
Western-style institutions slated to open soon. The new King Abdullah
University for Science and Technology, the kingdom's first coeducational
institution, is an Abdullah initiative to create a global leader in
technological innovation. He tasked the relatively secular Ministry of
Petroleum and Mineral Resources with running the project, keeping it away
from the fundamentalists.

By sidelining the ulema, Abdullah has been forced to find a new source for
religious legitimacy in order for him and his successors to rule over "the
land of the two holy mosques."

His strategy has been to allow a wider base of voices to speak for Islam,
both Sunni and Shiite. He instituted an annual forum titled "National
Dialogue," which invited a variety of prominent intellectuals to make their
views heard.

The forum included Sunni scholars such as Safar al Hawali, a former member
of an opposition grouping called the "Awakening Sheikhs," many of which had
been previously imprisoned for their biting criticism of palace policy.

Other invitees included prominent Shiite thinkers - a distinct change from
earlier years, when the highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia had
declared Shiites to be "apostates." Most important, the official ulema were
pointedly left off the guest list.

Some have criticized the weak translation of the forum's rhetoric into real
action. Yet even its existence is an accomplishment, and a new building has
been set up in Riyadh to host this forum. This is a sign, in the words of
Saudi Arabia expert Jean-François Seznec, of how the "National Dialogue" is
becoming "systematized and routinized," reflecting long-term changes in the
regime's attitude.

Of course, Abdullah's reforms have been highly limited when compared with
Western expectations.

The country is still an iron-fisted dictatorship: The much-heralded
municipal elections of 2005 excluded women, and the trumpeted majlis
(parliament) remains a body undemocratically appointed by the king. Women
can't drive, and religious freedom is nonexistent. Fundamentalist forces
also remain significant in the kingdom, with characters such as Prince Naif,
the ultra-conservative interior minister, still wielding enormous power.

Economic impetus for reform

At 83 years old, Abdullah's time left in office may be short, and it is
uncertain that those next in line to the throne will have the will or the
ability to continue making crucial reforms.

The challenges facing the desert kingdom require highly tuned maneuvering
skills. Reformers are counting on the durability of Abdullah's reforms
regardless of his successor. His legacy is likely to be protected by the new
economic elite he is helping to create.

"You can't bury your head in the sand and expect to become a global economic
power," said one administrator at a new Western-style university in Saudi
Arabia. "The king knows this, and he's ready to accept the consequences of
reform."

. Dana Moss is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the
Transatlantic Institute in Brussels. Zvika Krieger is a Middle East-based
special correspondent for Newsweek magazine.

26991  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: August 16, 2007, 07:48:04 AM
http://michaelyon-online.com/wp/into-the-sea.htm
26992  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / When the Excrement hits the Fan on: August 15, 2007, 03:26:50 PM
Woof All:

Kicking off this thread is a piece by Stratfor that while it has some big gaps (e.g. weaponry for social and criminal disorder) still serves as a well-organized starting point on the subject of this thread.

TAC,
CD
========

Personal Contingency Plans: More than an Ounce of Prevention
By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

U.S. counterterrorism sources remain concerned that an attack against the U.S. homeland will occur within the next two to three weeks. This is not surprising, considering that the drums have been beating loudly in Washington this summer about a potential attack -- first from Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and then in the form of a National Intelligence Estimate. More recently, several other reports have appeared concerning an impending attack, including an alert over the weekend in New York triggered by an alleged dirty bomb plot.

One of the reasons for the heightened concern is that most everyone, including Stratfor, is surprised that no major jihadist attack has occurred on U.S. soil since 9/11. Many plots have been disrupted, and it is only a matter of time before one of them succeeds. Simply put, attacks are not difficult to conduct and the government cannot stop them all.

Stratfor's assessment of the jihadist threat to the U.S. homeland is that al Qaeda and jihadists retain the ability to conduct tactical strikes against the United States, but lack the ability to pose a strategic threat. While this may be reassuring on one level, people can and will be killed in a tactical strike. The fact that an attack is not strategically significant will provide no immediate solace to those near the carnage and confusion of a tactical attack. Additionally, as we saw in Hurricane Katrina or the recent bridge collapse in Minneapolis, other disasters also can lead to chaos and disruption.

Given the current threat environment, this is an opportune time to examine again ways to avoid -- or at least mitigate -- the impact of that chaos and panic. The set of tools designed to do that is called personal contingency planning.

Chaos and Disruption

When disaster strikes, as in a terrorist attack, a number of things happen quickly and simultaneously. Often, panic erupts while people attempt to flee the scene of the attack. At the same time, police, fire and emergency medical units all attempt to respond to the scene, so there can be terrible traffic and pedestrian crowd-control problems. This effect can be magnified by smoke and fire, which can occlude vision, affect breathing and increase panic. Indeed, many of the injuries produced by terrorist bombings are not a direct result of the blast or even shrapnel, but of smoke inhalation and trampling.

In many instances, an attack or natural disaster will damage electrical lines, or else the electricity will be cut off as a precautionary measure. Elevators also could be reserved for firefighters. This means people are trapped in subway tunnels or in high-rise buildings, and might be forced to escape through the smoke-filled tunnels or stairwells. Depending on the incident, bridges, tunnels, subway lines and airports can be closed, or merely jammed to a standstill. This gridlock effect might be multiplied if the power is out to traffic signals.

In the midst of this confusion and panic, telephone and cell phone usage soars. Even if the main trunk lines and cell towers are not damaged or otherwise affected by the loss of electricity, this huge spike in activity quickly overloads the exchanges and cell networks. This means the ripples of chaos and disruption roll outward from the scene as people outside the immediate vicinity of the attack zone hear about the attack via the media and wonder what has become of loved ones who were near the site of the attack.

The Importance of Planning

Those in the vicinity of an attack have the best chance of escaping and reconnecting with loved ones if they have a personal contingency plan. Though such planning is critically important for people who live and work in close proximity to known terrorist targets such as Manhattan, Washington and Los Angeles, the recent bridge collapse in Minneapolis has demonstrated that such planning is important for people in other parts of the country as well. Sudden disasters, such as tornados, earthquakes, school shootings or the derailment of train cars carrying chlorine, can strike anywhere.

Emergency plans are vital not only for corporations and schools, but also for families and individuals. Such plans should be in place for each regular location -- home, work and school -- that an individual frequents, and should cover what that person will do and where he or she will go should an evacuation be necessary. This means establishing meeting points for family members who might be split up -- and backup points in case the first or second point also is affected by the disaster.

The lack of ability to communicate with loved ones because of circuit overload or other phone service problems can greatly enhance the sense of panic during a crisis. Perhaps the most value derived from having personal and family contingency plans is a reduction in the amount of stress that results from not being able to immediately contact a loved one. Knowing that everyone is following the plan frees each person to concentrate on the more pressing issue of evacuation. Additionally, someone who waits until he or she has contacted all loved ones before evacuating might not make it out.

It also is important to have a communication plan, which should include the contact information for the pre-chosen rallying site, as well as an alternate communications hub outside of the area. It might be difficult to communicate from Point A to Point B, but both A and B might be able to get through to a person at Point C. Alternative means of communication also should be included in the communications plan. If the phone lines and cell phones are clogged, many times text messages can still get through and Internet connections will work to send e-mail. The communications plan also will be helpful in case one member of the family is unable to evacuate immediately or finds it unwise to evacuate at all. In that case, he or she will know where the rest of the family is going and how to contact them once communications are restored.

Planning also is important because, when confronted with a dire emergency situation, many people simply do not know what to do. Not having determined their options in advance -- and in shock over the events of the day -- they are unable to think clearly enough to establish a logical plan, and instead wander aimlessly around. Having an established plan in place gives even a person who is in shock or denial and unable to think clearly a framework to lean on and a path to follow.

If You Must Evacuate

One of the keys to surviving a catastrophe is situational awareness. This means recognizing the threat at an early stage -- and taking measures to avoid it. Another element of situational awareness is to know where to go when an unforeseen disaster strikes. For example, if an improvised explosive device (IED) were to detonate in a subway car ahead of the car you are in, would you know how to get out of your car and in which direction to travel to get to safety? If your office building is hit by an IED or catches fire, do you know where the fire exits are located and where they lead? Could one fire exit take you out of the frying pan and into the fire? Situational awareness also involves knowing how to react. If a subway tunnel is filling with smoke, you must have the situational awareness to keep low in order to avoid being overcome.

In some cases, evacuation might not be the best idea. If there is no immediate threat to you at your current location, you could run a larger risk of being injured by joining the crowd of panicked people on the street. In some cases, it might be safest to just stay in place and wait for order to return -- especially if you are in a location where you have emergency stocks of food and water.

If you work in a high-rise building, frequently travel or take a subway, there are a couple of pieces of equipment that can assist you in case the need to evacuate arises. One of these is a smoke hood, a protective device that fits over the head and provides protection from smoke inhalation. Smoke hoods are relatively inexpensive devices that can be carried in a briefcase or purse and quickly donned in case of emergency. They will usually provide around 20-30 minutes of breathing time -- which could quite literally mean the difference between life and death in a smoke-filled hallway, stairway or subway tunnel. The second piece of equipment is a flashlight small enough to fit in a pocket, purse or briefcase. Such a light could prove to be invaluable in a crisis situation at night or when the power goes out in a large building or subway. Some of the small aluminum flashlights also can serve as a handy self-defense weapon.

If you live in an area likely to be hit by such an attack, it also might be prudent to prepare a small "fly-away" kit containing clothes, water, a first-aid kit, nutritional bars, medications and toiletry items for you and your family. It also is a good idea to include a battery-powered radio and other useful items, such as multi-tool knives and duct tape. The kit should be kept in convenient place, ready to grab on the way out. Even if it is impractical to keep all these items in constant readiness, keeping most of them together and using a prepared list to collect the other items quickly can help get you out the door in seconds. Maintaining important papers, such as vehicle titles, deeds, licenses, birth certificates, passports and credit card information, in a central file allows you to grab that file quickly and take it with you.

The Need for Flexibility

It is important to listen to authorities in the case of an emergency, though you cannot rely on the government to take care of you in every situation because the resources simply are not there to do so. You must have plans ready to take care of yourself and your family.

If you have pets, you will want to take them into consideration when you make your plans. Will Fluffy be taken to the evacuation site in the case of a dirty bomb attack, or not?

The emergency plan also must be fluid and flexible. It is important to recognize that even a good contingency plan can be worthless if protective measures taken by authorities during an emergency impede execution of the plan, or if the catastrophe itself closes down a section of your route. For example, bridges and tunnels might be closed and streets blocked off or jammed with traffic, meaning you might not be able to travel to safety or pick up family members or coworkers. Those whose plan calls for a flight out of the city might be unable to get to the airport or helipad and, once there, find that air traffic has been grounded, as happened after the 9/11 attacks. For these reasons, it is best to have several alternate contingency plans that account for multiple scenarios and include various evacuation routes. Once the emergency is announced, it likely is too late to start devising a plan.

Plans must be reviewed periodically. A plan made following 9/11 might no longer be valid. Bridges and roads you included might now be closed for construction. If Uncle Al's place in West Virginia is your planned communications hub, then that needs to change when he moves to Texas.

Your equipment also should be checked periodically to ensure it is functional. Have you checked the batteries in your flashlight? Has your smoke hood become battered from being carried around for too many years? Have the power bars in your fly-away kit become fossilized?

Finally, while having a contingency plan on paper is better than having nothing, those that are tested in the real world are far superior. Running through an evacuation plan (especially during a high-traffic time such as rush hour) will help to identify weaknesses that will not appear on paper. It also will help to ensure that all those involved know what they are supposed to do and where they are supposed to go. A plan is of limited use if half of the people it is designed for do not understand their respective roles and responsibilities.

No plan is perfect, and chances are you will have to "shift on the fly" and change your plan in the event of an actual emergency. However, having a plan -- and being prepared -- will allow you to be more focused and less panicked and confused than those who have left their fate to chance. In life and death situations, an ounce of prevention is a good thing.
26993  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: November 18, 2007 Dog Bros Gathering of the Pack on: August 15, 2007, 01:00:10 PM
Woof All:

By the way, we thank RAW/R1 for our time there, but I think it is time for us to find a different location. 

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
GF
26994  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia-China Peace Mission on: August 15, 2007, 11:21:43 AM
'Peace Mission'
By RICHARD D. FISHER, JR.
August 15, 2007

The world will understandably have some questions this Thursday when Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian leader Vladimir Putin meet at Garrison Chebarkul in Russia to review troops from both their countries, as well as four states of former Soviet Central Asia. The event will mark the end of maneuvers called Peace Mission 2007, and it raises some important questions. Does this exercise signal a stepping up of already substantial military cooperation between Moscow and Beijing? And if it does, cooperation against what or whom?

 
On the march, but to what end?
The answer to the first question is clearly yes, cooperation is increasing. This year's Peace Mission in Russia involved about 4,000 troops and 100 aircraft from China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, a threefold increase in participants over Peace Mission 2005, held in China. This year's Peace Mission exercises, conducted from Aug. 8 to 17, included full-fledged conventional air-ground offensive maneuvers that stressed ground and airborne assault, and coordinated air strikes by attack aircraft and attack helicopters. Russian and Chinese reporting thus far indicates the maneuvers were directed against "terrorist" strongholds in rural and urban settings.

Less clear is against what or whom the show of force was directed. The military exercises are sponsored by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a intergovernmental group founded with Chinese help to promote worthy goals of cooperation and peace in former Soviet Central Asia. In practice, however, the organization's priorities have evolved over time, and its top mission now seems to be to stop overt Islamic identification among the peoples of the region, who are mostly ethnically Turkic and traditionally Muslim.

If one includes the currently Chinese-held territory of East Turkestan (Xinjiang), Central Asia covers nearly two million square miles in the strategic heart of Eurasia, populated by peoples who have never willingly accepted rule either from Moscow or Beijing. It is rich in resources, notably oil and natural gas. For now Central Asia's rulers are mostly former Soviet officials, as fearful of Islam as are China or Russia. But they are not secure. Change in an Islamic direction, which is possible -- even likely -- will spell trouble.

To begin with, then, Peace Mission 2007 is a cooperative exercise by the rulers of the Central Asian states, supported by China and Russia, designed to prevent political instability. But that is not all. "Peace Mission 2007" also reveals a worrying pattern of cooperation between Moscow and Beijing, broadly speaking, against the west and democratic ideas.

In July, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization decided to draw up a shared list of proscribed organizations, to include terrorists of course, but also, western human-rights advocates fear, democracy advocates. They have good reason to worry. At the Army Chief of Staffs' conference in Urumqi, in Chinese-controlled East Turkestan (Xinjiang), Russian Chief of the General Staff General Yuri Baluyevsky attacked "certain Western states" that advocate "the formation of the so-called 'true democratic' institutions of state and public management . . . which causes destabilisation of the situation in the states of the region."

Both Russian and Chinese officials have claimed the Peace Mission exercises are "not directed against any one country." But when the United States asked the Chinese government if it could send observers, hoping for a return of its generous hosting of People's Liberation Army (PLA) observers at the 2006 Valiant Shield, a large exercise involving the U.S. and its Asian allies, China said "no."

Beijing evidently wishes to minimize attention to its increasing long-distance force projection abilities, demonstrated in, but not limited to, Central Asia. The PLA's contingent included 1,600-1,700 airborne and ground troops plus associated light-weight armor and about 36 aircraft. Not large numbers to be sure, but this marks the first ever PLA foreign deployment of such a combined arms group. On July 30, PLA Senior Colonel (equivalent to a brigadier general) Lu Chuangang, told state media that Peace Mission would test their capability in "long distance mobility" and "long distance integrated support."

Most western analysts have been skeptical that Beijing harbored such large ambitions. The operations in Peace Mission suggest China does, a possibility supported by other evidence. China is refurbishing the former Russian aircraft carrier Varyag and planning its own carrier force. A military airlifter is being developed that could carry 60 tons of cargo, similar to the U.S. C-17. Last December, the PLA Navy launched a 20,000 ton landing platform dock amphibious assault ship. In May, a Chinese shipbuilding official admitted to me their development of a landing helicopter dock air-amphibious assault ship.

New PLA airlifters and new medium-weight wheeled airmobile fighting vehicles being produced by the PLA will give it a future army-airborne projection capability that would compliment nicely that of Russia's. Peace Mission 2007, in fact, resembled the coordinated operations needed to shore up a tottering dictatorship, much as Soviet forces did in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. This follows the 2005 Peace Mission exercises, which demonstrated air and naval capabilities the PLA needs to attack Taiwan.

But the SCO's ability to develop a deeper military alliance is not certain. Russian press reports note that China rejected Russia's proposal to co-host the exercises with the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization, indicating that currently coincidental Russian-Chinese security agendas could easily diverge. Russia-friendly Kazakhstan did not allow Chinese troops to travel across its territory, adding thousands of kilometers to their journey. The SCO must soon also face the question of whether or not to make full members of current observers India, Pakistan and Iran -- respectively, a nuclear-armed democracy, a nuclear-armed failed state and a future nuclear-armed rogue state.

All in all, Peace Mission 2007 provides plenty of reason for concern. It highlights the direct military interest Russia and China are taking in Central Asia, an area of which the U.S. and Europe know very little. Even more worrying, the Chinese role in the exercise provides yet more evidence of the dimensions of Chinese military ambitions and capabilities, the potential targets of which are by no means limited to Central Asian Muslims.

Mr. Fisher is a vice president with the International Assessment and Strategy Center in Alexandria, Virginia.

WSJ
26995  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Care Economics on: August 15, 2007, 11:17:24 AM
Second post of the morning:

WSJ
Cost Control for Dummies
By MERRILL MATTHEWS
August 15, 2007; Page A12

Reducing health-care spending isn't hard: Just give the government control over the national health-care budget and you'll see spending decline. Access to physicians and hospitals, the newest technology, important therapies and the best medications will also decline over time. But that's the trade-off society makes when the government controls health-care spending.

It's remarkable how gullible people are who claim, "Canada (or England, or France, etc.) manages to provide universal coverage for much less than the U.S. spends on health care." They seem to think these other countries have reached some sort of economic nirvana. These countries spend less -- usually between 8% to 10% of GDP versus nearly 16% in the U.S. -- simply because health-care spending isn't a function of consumer demand; it's a function of political demand.

Politicians in single-payer countries -- where the public pays higher taxes and the government pays most bills -- decide how much the country will spend on health care, and the prices that will be paid. Since they have to consider education, welfare, defense, etc., as well as the need to keep taxes low enough to encourage economic growth, there is never enough money to go around. There is not one government-run health-care system that is considered adequately funded by those who have to deal with it. In some countries, the rationing, lack of access and waiting lines are worse than others. But they all face these problems.

And virtually any U.S. reform proposal promising "universal coverage" will do the same thing. Why? Because Congress has a long and sordid history of support for health-care price controls.

Medicare reimbursements to hospitals have been price-controlled since 1983, and to physicians since 1992. If Medicare represented 1% or 2% of the health care market -- as the VA does with respect to prescription drugs -- price controls would create distortions, but they would likely be manageable. However, Medicare is the dominant insurer in the country. Its price controls become the benchmark.

Whenever the government controls prices, it arbitrarily determines who it will pay, how much, and for what. Vendors -- that is, providers of goods and services -- generally begin to work the system in order to maximize their gain -- or, more accurately when referring to doctors in Medicare, minimize their losses. When Medicare distorts a price -- and virtually all government-set prices are distorted -- the reverberations are felt throughout the health-care system.

Consider physician reimbursements. Every year, doctors face a cut in Medicare reimbursements, even though their costs for providing care continue to rise. The American Medical Association's lobbying effort has managed to keep current reimbursements about the same as they were in 2001, in part by backing the Medicare Modernization Act in 2003. That's six years without an increase. And unless Congress acts, doctors face a 10% cut in reimbursements in 2008, and a 40% cut by 2016.

At this point, we don't know where doctors' Medicare reimbursements will land; that issue has become a political football in the battle over reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (Schip). Democrats are dangling a slight increase in reimbursements, instead of that 10% cut, in exchange for the AMA's support for their massive expansion of Schip.

However, Democrats also want to cut reimbursements to health plans operating in the quickly growing Medicare Advantage program. And they are trying once again to give the federal government the ability to dictate prices -- which they inaccurately describe as a "negotiation" -- for prescription drugs.

All of this is being done in the name of "controlling costs." But does anyone really believe those price controls won't hurt access to quality care?

Increasingly, doctors are refusing to see new Medicare patients. A recent AMA survey found that 60% of responding doctors said they would stop accepting new Medicare patients if the 10% cut is imposed. Even if that figure is inflated by currently angry doctors, it could represent a significant decrease in seniors' access to care.

The situation is worse under Medicaid. It reimburses even less than Medicare, which will lead to more and more access problems for the elderly and the poor. It can also lead to doctors trying to see ever more patients in a given time period in order to keep the income from falling. Less time for each patient reduces the quality of care.

Because politicians want to keep health-care spending as low as possible, they have very little incentive to raise those reimbursement rates. Much easier to rail against "greedy physicians" or use them as pawns when they want to pass other pieces of legislation. You can expect even more political maneuvering if health-care "reform" gives the government increased control over prices and spending.

Either the market will set prices based on supply and demand, or the government will set prices based on budget priorities and bureaucrats' best guess at what specific goods and services should cost. That process may undermine the access to and quality of care, but at least government-run health care advocates can claim it keeps costs down.

Mr. Matthews is director of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance and a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation.
26996  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: August 15, 2007, 11:14:26 AM
Our Risky New Financial Markets
By HENRY KAUFMAN
August 15, 2007; Page A13

Tremors from America's quaking subprime mortgage market have spread throughout the financial world. This latest disturbance in global financial markets is neither isolated nor idiosyncratic. It points to deeper, enduring changes in the structure of our markets -- changes that have profoundly altered the behavior of market participants in ways that tend to encourage risk-taking beyond prudent limits. Just as troubling is the failure of official policy makers to effectively rein in such excesses, leaving our financial system vulnerable to similar turmoil in the future.

The principal structural driver behind this and similar financial tribulations is the massive growth of financial markets, combined with a plethora of new credit instruments. By any measure, current financial activity -- new financing or secondary market trading volume -- dwarfs the past. The outstanding volume of nonfinancial debt now exceeds nominal GDP by $15 trillion, compared with $6 trillion a decade ago. Traditional credit instruments such as stocks, bonds and money-market obligations have been joined by a long and diverse roster of new obligations, many of them extraordinarily complicated. Along with the arcane tranches of mortgages that recently garnered attention are a myriad of financial derivatives, ranging from those traded on exchanges to tailor-made products for the over-the-counter market.

Leading financial institutions have grown rapidly as well. More importantly, they have evolved to become integrated, diversified, global enterprises that bear little resemblance to traditional commercial banks, investment banks or insurance companies. As these giants grow and dominate the market, they carry enormous potential for conflicts of interest -- they simultaneously act as investors of their own massive assets and as dealmakers and consultants on behalf of their clients. And their reach into the financial system is so broad and deep that no central bank is willing to allow the collapse of one of these leviathans. They are deemed "too big to fail."

These structural and institutional changes have, in turn, encouraged a new understanding among market participants of liquidity. In the decades that followed World War II, liquidity was by and large an asset-based concept. For business corporations, it meant the size of cash and very liquid assets, the maturity of receivables, the turnover of inventory, and the relationship of these assets to total liabilities. For households, liquidity primarily meant the maturity of financial assets being held for contingencies along with funds that reliably would be available later in life. In contrast, firms and households today often blur the distinction between liquidity and credit availability. When thinking about liquid assets, present and future, it is now commonplace to think in terms of access to liabilities.

This new mindset has been abetted by the tidal wave of securitization -- the conversion of nonmarketable assets into marketable assets -- that swept across the financial world in recent decades. This flood of marketable assets not only has eroded traditional concepts of liquidity, it has stimulated risk appetites and fostered a belief that credit usually is available at reasonable prices.

Technological change also has bolstered the easy-credit outlook now commonplace among investors. As markets have been linked globally by information technology networks, financial information flows nearly instantaneously, computerized trading is spreading, and transactions are executed almost without delay. Investors can access financial data and participate in markets around the world and around the clock.

These two developments -- securitization and the seamless interconnectivity of markets -- have brought intricate quantitative risk modeling to the forefront of financial practices. Securitization generates market prices, while information technology offers the power to quantify pricing and risk relationships. Few recognize, however, that such modeling assumes constancy in market fundamentals. This is because modeling does not adequately account for underlying structural changes when attempting to calculate future risks and prices.

Nor can models take into account the impact of growing financial concentration in the making of markets and in the pricing of securities that are traded infrequently, or that have tailor-made attributes. And what about the risks to financial markets of a major military flare-up, the ravages of a pandemic flu, a terrorist attack that would immobilize computer networks, or even shifts in the broader monetary environment? Do the models quantify these and other profound risks in any meaningful way?

Then there is the question of asset pricing. An essential component of successful risk modeling is accurate pricing of the securities used in the analysis. Here, again, the strictly quantitative approach shows its weaknesses. Accurate pricing is a thorny challenge. In rapidly moving markets, the price of the last trade may be invalid for the next one. The price a dealer is prepared to quote may be no more than an indication of a potential trade. And the price quoted may be valid only for a small quantity of assets, not for the full amount in the investor's portfolio.

These problems are especially germane to securities of lower credit quality, where liquidity and marketability are often blurred in the mark-to-market process. Again, the subprime mortgage crisis is revealing: Quantitative modeling proved to work poorly in pricing those lower-quality assets. We can expect major problems of this kind in the below-investment-grade corporate bond market once corporate profits begin to decline.

Risk modeling -- with its clear-cut timeline and aura of certainty -- has encouraged investors to seek near-term profits while pushing aside more qualitative approaches to risk assessment that rely more heavily on judgment and reason. The appetite for near-term profits showed itself plainly in the environment leading up to the subprime mortgage debacle -- leading financial institutions were unwilling to pull back from aggressive lending and investing tactics. To do so, they feared, posed a number of risks, from loss of market share and underperforming earnings to shareholder discontent and a failure to meet the bonus expectations of employees.

The Federal Reserve cannot walk away from its responsibility to limit financial excesses. The central tenet of monetary policy is to achieve sustainable economic growth. Central bank policies and actions attempt to do this by providing just enough reserves to constrain the price of goods and services at acceptably low levels. But how can the Fed achieve this objective when widespread financial excesses are disrupting the functioning of financial markets and thus threatening economic prosperity?

At the heart of the long-term underlying challenges that face the U.S. financial system is the question of how to enforce discipline. One way is to let competitive forces discipline market participants: The manager who performs well prospers, while those who do not fail. This is the central precept of free market economies. But this approach is compromised by the fact that advanced societies typically do not allow the process to follow through when it comes to very large financial institutions. The fear is that the failure of behemoth financial institutions will pose systemic risks both here and abroad.

Therefore, market discipline falls more heavily on smaller institutions, which in turn motivates them to merge into larger entities protected by the too-big-to-fail umbrella. This dynamic has driven financial concentration and will continue to do so for years to come. As financial concentration increases, it will undermine marketability, trading activity and effective allocation of financial resources.

If competition is not allowed to enforce market discipline, the most viable alternative is increased supervision over financial institutions and markets. In today's markets, there is hardly a clarion call for such measures. On the contrary, the markets oppose it, and politicians voice little if any support. For their part, central bankers do not possess a clear vision of how to proceed toward more effective financial supervision. Their current, circumspect approach seems objectively technical, whereas greater intervention, they fear, would seem intrusive, subjective, even excessive.

What is missing today is a comprehensive framework that pulls together financial-market behavior and economic behavior. The study of economics and finance has become highly specialized and compartmentalized within the academic community. This is, of course, another reflection of the increasingly specialized demands of our complex civilization. Regrettably, today's economics and finance professions have produced no minds with the analytical reach of Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes or Milton Friedman.

It is therefore urgent that the Fed take the lead in formulating a monetary policy approach that strikes the right balance between market discipline and government regulation. Until it does so, we will continue to see shocks of even greater intensity than the one now radiating outward from the quake in the U.S. subprime mortgage market.

Mr. Kaufman is president of Henry Kaufman & Company, Inc., and the author of "On Money and Markets: A Wall Street Memoir" (McGraw-Hill, 2000).
WSJ
26997  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Care Economics on: August 15, 2007, 10:48:10 AM
Arnold's Health Flop
August 15, 2007; Page A12
After Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled his universal health-care plan for California in January, almost everyone was laying down palms in Sacramento. Here was a Republican Governor putting aside political squabbling and "doing big things that Washington has failed to do," as Time magazine put it. What a change seven months later, with the plan on the cusp of collapse. There's a lesson here about health-care "bipartisanship" when it's merely a cover for bad policy.

The California legislature is now in the second month of the fiscal year without a budget. Deadlocks are routine because the state requires a two-thirds majority of each house to pass spending bills, though they rarely drag on this long or bitterly. Republicans are taking a hard line on spending and a $1.4 billion operating deficit; and even though the budget is just one Senate Republican vote shy of passage, a deal is unlikely before a recess ends on August 20.

Since the legislative session ends in September, that would mean it's curtains for Governor Schwarzenegger's health-care reform. The estimated $12 billion in new taxes that the plan requires also need a two-thirds majority of both houses. Which is unlikely when the legislature can't even agree on a budget without them. To get around that, the Governor calls them "levies," not taxes. Nice try.

The health-care plan is one reason for the gridlock, which speaks to a political as well as policy failure. In trying to round up Democrats, the Governor ended up alienating Republicans. No wonder: His plan was never that conservative or market-based. Like former Governor Mitt Romney's plan in Massachusetts, it turns on an individual mandate. That is, it requires all residents to buy insurance or get it from the state or their employers -- or otherwise face penalties such as garnished wages.

Once again, a state's universal health-care dreams have run up against fiscal realities. Besides the budget fight, the plan's viability was contingent on $3.7 billion in annual subsidies the Governor has been requesting to expand MediCal (Medicare) and "Healthy Families," part of the State Children's Health Insurance Program. This money is unlikely to materialize, given that the 2006 federal budget called for $4.6 billion in health-care cuts to California over the next decade.

The plan also ran into a buzzsaw because of the damage it would do to California's employment and insurance markets. In what's called "play or pay," businesses would have to cover their employees or pay a 3.5% payroll tax to fund a new state-run insurance program for low-income workers. Doctors would be required to pay 2% and hospitals 4% of gross revenues to fund the same -- assuming they could stay in practice at all.

Governor Schwarz-enegger's "bipartisanship" also provided an opening for state Democrats, who have long desired, but have usually been frustrated in passing, a liberal overhaul of the health-care system. They saw his plan and raised, proposing a 7.5% payroll tax -- another example of "play or pay" becoming "pay or pay." It would also compel onerous insurance regulations like mandated coverage levels and premium ceilings.

The Governor has tried to make the Democratic plan a selling point for his "less burdensome" alternative. But he would merely over-regulate insurance in other ways. He wants "guaranteed issue," which means insurers must accept all comers, allowing people to wait until they're sick to buy insurance. He also wants "community rating," which means that insurance premiums cannot vary based on age or health status. Cost-drivers like these are already a main reason between four million and 6.5 million Californians are uninsured now.

In beating the drum for his plan, Mr. Schwarzenegger has often deplored what he calls the "hidden tax" of the current health-care system. Supposedly that describes the extent to which the costs of treating the uninsured shift to those who have insurance, thus making an argument for universal care.

Yet researchers at Stanford led by Dan Kessler ran the figures and demolished this claim. The total burden of this "cost shifting" in California amounted to only 2.8% of premiums in the 2000s. That's not nothing, but in the Governor's hands this modest hidden tax is an excuse for larger unhidden taxes. Perhaps the puncturing of this argument will prevent it from being deployed in the 2008 health-care debate, though don't count on it.

If Arnold's plan does fail, it will join "universal" health-care dreams in Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and other states that were also unveiled to hosannas but flopped once the fine print and costs were exposed. Alas, the failure of these state reforms probably won't diminish political agitation for similar attempts that Democrats or Mr. Romney might propose in Washington. But it should.

26998  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: August 15, 2007, 09:59:44 AM
Iranian Unit to Be Labeled 'Terrorist'
U.S. Moving Against Revolutionary Guard


By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 15, 2007; A01

The United States has decided to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country's 125,000-strong elite military branch, as a "specially designated global terrorist," according to U.S. officials, a move that allows Washington to target the group's business operations and finances.
The Bush administration has chosen to move against the Revolutionary Guard Corps because of what U.S. officials have described as its growing involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as its support for extremists throughout the Middle East, the sources said. The decision follows congressional pressure on the administration to toughen its stance against Tehran, as well as U.S. frustration with the ineffectiveness of U.N. resolutions against Iran's nuclear program, officials said.

The designation of the Revolutionary Guard will be made under Executive Order 13224, which President Bush signed two weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to obstruct terrorist funding. It authorizes the United States to identify individuals, businesses, charities and extremist groups engaged in terrorist activities. The Revolutionary Guard would be the first national military branch included on the list, U.S. officials said -- a highly unusual move because it is part of a government, rather than a typical non-state terrorist organization.

The order allows the United States to block the assets of terrorists and to disrupt operations by foreign businesses that "provide support, services or assistance to, or otherwise associate with, terrorists."
The move reflects escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran over issues including Iraq and Iran's nuclear ambitions. Iran has been on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism since 1984, but in May the two countries began their first formal one-on-one dialogue in 28 years with a meeting of diplomats in Baghdad.

The main goal of the new designation is to clamp down on the Revolutionary Guard's vast business network, as well as on foreign companies conducting business linked to the military unit and its personnel. The administration plans to list many of the Revolutionary Guard's financial operations.

"Anyone doing business with these people will have to reevaluate their actions immediately," said a U.S. official familiar with the plan who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision has not been announced. "It increases the risks of people who have until now ignored the growing list of sanctions against the Iranians. It makes clear to everyone who the IRGC and their related businesses really are. It removes the excuses for doing business with these people."

For weeks, the Bush administration has been debating whether to target the Revolutionary Guard Corps in full, or only its Quds Force wing, which U.S. officials have linked to the growing flow of explosives, roadside bombs, rockets and other arms to Shiite militias in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Quds Force also lends support to Shiite allies such as Lebanon's Hezbollah and to Sunni movements such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Although administration discussions continue, the initial decision is to target the entire Guard Corps, U.S. officials said. The administration has not yet decided when to announce the new measure, but officials said they would prefer to do so before the meeting of the U.N. General Assembly next month, when the United States intends to increase international pressure against Iran.

Formed in 1979 and originally tasked with protecting the world's only modern theocracy, the Revolutionary Guard took the lead in battling Iraq during the bloody Iran-Iraq war waged from 1980 to 1988. The Guard, also known as the Pasdaran, has since become a powerful political and economic force in Iran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rose through the ranks of the Revolutionary Guard and came to power with support from its network of veterans. Its leaders are linked to many mainstream businesses in Iran.

"They are heavily involved in everything from pharmaceuticals to telecommunications and pipelines -- even the new Imam Khomeini Airport and a great deal of smuggling," said Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations. "Many of the front companies engaged in procuring nuclear technology are owned and run by the Revolutionary Guards. They're developing along the lines of the Chinese military, which is involved in many business enterprises. It's a huge business conglomeration."
The Revolutionary Guard Corps -- with its own navy, air force, ground forces and special forces units -- is a rival to Iran's conventional troops. Its naval forces abducted 15 British sailors and marines this spring, sparking an international crisis, and its special forces armed Lebanon's Hezbollah with missiles used against Israel in the 2006 war. The corps also plays a key role in Iran's military industries, including the attempted acquisition of nuclear weapons and surface-to-surface missiles, according to Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The United States took punitive action against Iran after the November 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, including the breaking of diplomatic ties and the freezing of Iranian assets in the United States. More recently, dozens of international banks and financial institutions reduced or eliminated their business with Iran after a quiet campaign by the Treasury Department and State Department aimed at limiting Tehran's access to the international financial system. Over the past year, two U.N. resolutions have targeted the assets and movements of 28 people -- including some Revolutionary Guard members -- linked to Iran's nuclear program.

The key obstacle to stronger international pressure against Tehran has been China, Iran's largest trading partner. After the Iranian government refused to comply with two U.N. Security Council resolutions dealing with its nuclear program, Beijing balked at a U.S. proposal for a resolution that would have sanctioned the Revolutionary Guard, U.S. officials said.
26999  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran on the Brink? on: August 14, 2007, 08:23:29 PM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On the Brink
Washington is a wonder on Iran.

By Michael Ledeen

President Bush is annoyed that Afghan President Karzai and Iraqi President Maliki are both speaking about Iran in words reserved for an ally, rather than the main engine driving the terror wars in their countries. But if you look at the world through their eyes, it is easy enough to understand. They fear that the Americans will soon leave, and the Iranians will still be there. They know that Iran is a mortal threat, and they are now making a down payment on the insurance costs that are sure to come if the Democrats in Washington have their way. For extras, Maliki has certainly noticed that the United States is paying off the Middle Eastern Sunnis, hoping that the Saudis, Jordanians, and Gulf States will manage to contain Iran in the future. This cannot be good news in Baghdad, where the Shiites are struggling to put together a government capable of managing the country’s myriad crises.

All of this has been superbly summarized in Michael Yon’s latest ruminations on the course of the battle for Iraq:

Our military has increasing moral authority in Iraq, but the same cannot be said for our government at home. In fact, it’s in moral deficit because many Iraqis are increasingly frightened we will abandon them to genocide. The Iraqis I speak with couldn’t care less what is said from Washington but large numbers of them pay close attention to what some Marine Gunny says, or what American battalion commanders all over Iraq say. Some of our commanders could probably run for local offices in Iraq, and win.
There are many reasons for the respect of Iraqis for our fighters, starting with the fact that the military is currently the best institution in America, and our military men and women are several notches above the politicians, intellectuals and journalists in moral fiber and bravery. You can see that in the way the military deals with the Iranian intrusion in Iraq and Afghanistan. The politicians, diplomats, and spooks downplay the Iranian role, reshaping the facts to fit their desire for a “negotiated solution” they know in their heart of hearts will never be accomplished. But our military officers, whose troops are being blown up by Iranian explosives or Iranian-trained suicide bombers or gunned down by Iranian-trained snipers, are laying out the facts for anyone who cares to know what’s going on. Happily, at least some folks are listening (thank you, Senator Lieberman). Most Iraqis know the truth; it’s the Americans who need the education.

That the Iranians are at the heart of the region’s violence is proven most every day. So while Karzai was publicly kissing up to Tehran, Colonel Rahmatullah Safi, the head of the border police along the Iranian frontier, told the London Times “it is clear to everyone that Iran is supporting the enemy of Afghanistan, the Taliban,” and U.S. Army Colonel Thomas Kelly confirmed that the infamous EPFs, the new generation of explosive devices that can penetrate most American armor, are now coming into Afghanistan. Col. Kelly notes that these devices “really are not manufactured in any other place to our knowledge than Iran.”

The same holds true in Iraq, where these devices accounted for a third of American combat deaths in July (99 such attacks were directed against us — an all-time high). General Odierno blamed 73 percent of attacks on Iranian-supported Shiite terrorists. As Michael Gordon reports for the New York Times,

American intelligence says that its report of Iranian involvement is based on a technical analysis of exploded and captured devices, interrogations of Shi’ite militants, the interdiction of trucks near Iran’s border with Iraq and parallels between the use of the weapons in Iran and in southern Lebanon by Hezbollah.

Some might suspect that our military leaders are presenting the case against Iran because they want to expand the war, and march on Tehran, but nothing of the sort is taking place. They are simply performing the task that theoretically lies with the so-called intelligence community. Our leaders have to be told the truth, even if it makes them scream. I have no doubt that Secretary of State Rice does not want to hear these things, because they give the lie to her claim that we are making progress in our talks with the Iranians. In fact, Iran has stepped up its terrorist activity in Iraq since we started talking to them. The actual words of Ambassador Crocker — who says he’s been very tough, and I’m inclined to believe him — don’t really matter to the mullahs; they say lots of things, too, and don’t expect them to be taken at face value. It’s the fact that (as they see it) we were compelled to come to them that matters.

In reality — for what little it matters nowadays, either here or in the Middle East — we are winning the battle of Iraq. The percentage increase in Iranian activity, combined with a drop in the number of attacks, is another way of saying that al Qaeda is being destroyed for a second time, and the Iranians are scrambling to fill the void. But they are on the run, just as is al Qaeda, as you can tell by the back-and-forth shuttling of their factotum Moqtadah al Sadr, between Iran and Iraq. If their scheme was working in Iraq, he’d sit still. He’s scrambling because they’re in trouble.

They’re in trouble at home, too. Indeed, things are so bad that the government itself has open fissures, the latest caused by the resignation of the minister of industry and mines, and by the public testimony of the minister of welfare:

The welfare minister, Abdol-Reza Mesri, appeared at the Majlis social committee on Saturday and announced that about 9.2 million Iranians live below the absolute poverty line. About 10.5 percent of residents in urban and 11 percent of residents in rural areas live below the absolute poverty line. Nevertheless, Mr. Mesri insisted that indicators used in computing the poverty line must be changed. The minister’s persistent suggestion to abandon internationally recognized methods of computing the poverty line has been met with the reaction of experts and professionals.
In simple English, there is so much poverty in Iran that the minister wants to change the reporting requirements so that nobody can really know the full dimensions of the Iranian people’s misery. Even their current language (what is “the absolute poverty line” anyway?) is designed to mislead.

Iranians are not stupid people; they know they are ruled by tyrannical incompetents. Listen to the words of one Reza Zarabi, in the August 5 Jerusalem Post: “Iranians have become accustomed to dictators, yet an incompetent despot that bases his economic policies on the future benevolence of the coming Islamic Messiah is another thing altogether...It is quite remarkable for such economic damage and global ridicule to be heaped upon a nation in (so) short a time. Yet the policies of the current Iranian administration have left nothing for the imagination.”

I ask you, is this not a perfect description of a revolutionary situation? And you reply: So why aren’t we doing anything about it? Which, I think, is precisely the question our military leaders in Iraq, and the people of Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, are aiming at Washington.

National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MDU5OTczMGU3NzRkZTJkNzFlMmFjNThkMDJiMDlhODE=
27000  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Umpad Corto-Kadena on: August 14, 2007, 08:15:07 PM
Done.
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