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27101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: September 14, 2010, 03:08:27 AM
EXACTLY SO shocked shocked shocked

By the way, did I hear correctly today that China is sending a rocket/satellite/manned landing to the moon in 2010?

27102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India and India-afpakia (and China?) on: September 14, 2010, 03:07:02 AM
I continue to entertain the possibility that solutions will entail recognizing the reality of Pashtunistan, forming alliance with India, and breakiing down the contradiction currently known as Pakistan while bringing central Asian gas down to the sea.
27103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: CUBA on: September 14, 2010, 03:04:41 AM
I was there for about ten days and because of my comfort level in Spanish and my general way of going about things, most days I was able to escape the Potemkin tours (for those of you educated by progressives, google the term Potemkin Village) and wound up running with a bunch of musicians.  One of them, Roberto, a dancer in the national folklore company, escaped during the Mariel exodus and looked me up in NYC.  He asked me if there were any decent salsa clubs in NY.  I said why yes, we had a few and took him to one.  The band playing was Ticpica 73 with Alfredo de la Fey on electric violin and Nicky Marreror on timbales.  We walked in and they knew my friend from when they toured Cuba on a cultural exchange a few years prior!  Roberto chose the hottest chick dancing on the floor and began to dance with her.  It was like a movie; he was so good the whole floor cleared for the two of them.  Then the band invited us backstage to hang out and thus began an interesting chapter in my life.
27104  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Seattle, Sept 11-12, 2010 on: September 14, 2010, 02:57:12 AM

It was a pleasure meeting you.  I really like your sword and shield game and enjoyed your interations with Tricky Dog.  The way you use the shield is quite formidable.

That is a very interesting story and the honesty with which you engage yourself with your AAR (after action report) is exemplary.   FWIW, my sense of good panhandling etiquette is to not approach too close, especially on someone who is seated and not aware of your approach.    Perhaps this fellow will hav better manners next time wink

I am very, very glad that the material we trained in the seminar-- nto only the physical but the MUC (managaing unknown contacts) made its appearance and served you well.

Thank you for sharing.

The Adventure continues!
27105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China Bubble readying to burst? on: September 13, 2010, 11:10:39 PM

Pop go the weasels , , ,
27106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India and India-afpakia (and China?) on: September 13, 2010, 11:08:36 PM
As best as I can tell, our current strategy in Afg is completely untenable and we do not seem to be thinking outside the box to change it; therefore it seems to me that things may well evolve along the lines/variables that Stratfor describes.  IMHO this piece deserves considerable contemplation.
27107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 13, 2010, 11:06:10 PM
FWIW, the US's strategy in the mid-east has always been divide e.g. Kissinger-Nixon using the Shah's Iran against Iraq, then using Iraq against Khomeni's Iran.  Now that we have been outplayed and out testosteroned by Iran and its nuke program, we strengthen the Arabs (Saudi's et al) vs. the Aryans (the Iranians).  Note the serious rumors btw that the Saudis were willing to greenlight an Israeli strike on Iran via their airspace.

I agree though Israel and we patriotic citizens had best keep an eye on the Manchurian Candidate in Chief though , , ,
27108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: CUBA on: September 13, 2010, 11:01:29 PM
When next we meet ask me about my trip to Cuba , , , in January 1980 IIRC. (For the record folks, the trip was entirely legal and above board-- it was during a brief opening under Carter and was organized by my law school.  It turned out to be about 2 months before the Port Mariel exodus.
27109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy; the Internet is spying on: September 13, 2010, 10:58:33 PM
Haven't had a chance yet to read today's posts yet but a preliminary skim indicates they seem worthy of a good focused read.  Indeed, the material therein could well belong on the Constitutional Law thread.  In that regard I would note the 9th Amendment's "all rights not otherwise enumerated etc" and submit the proposition that privacy was/is such an obvious concept that our Founding Fathers saw no need to mention it any more than the right of self-defense.  The analysis I saw proferred that privacy is limited to the 4th (which was the position held by Judge Bork until he was , , , borked) is one with which I disagree for the reasons I just gave.

If someone would like to move/continue this on the Constitutional Law thread we can continue it there.  It IS a very important subject.

Anyway, here's this:

The internet is spying on you

Every time you go online, sophisticated data miners are tracking your every move. What do they know about you?

How to fight back against data miners

How frequently am I followed online?
Constantly. Your computer leaves a unique digital trail every time you visit a website, post a comment on a blog, or add a photo to your Facebook wall. A growing number of companies follow that trail to assemble a profile of you and your affinities. These profiles can contain shocking levels of detail—including your age, income, shopping habits, health problems, sexual proclivities, and ZIP code—right down to the number of rooms in your house and the number of people in your family. Although trackers don’t identify their subjects by name, the data they compile is so extensive that “you can find out who an individual is without it,” says Maneesha Mithal of the Federal Trade Commission.

How does the technology work?
The moment you land on a website, it installs a unique electronic code on your hard drive. Owners of websites originally placed “cookies,” the simplest such codes, on computers for users’ convenience, in order to remember things like the contents of online shopping carts. But a cookie placed by one site can also serve as a tracking device that allows marketers to identify an individual computer and follow its path on every Web visit. It’s like a clerk who sells you a pair of jeans at one store, then trails you around the mall, recording every store you visit and every item of clothing you try on. “Beacons” are super-cookies that record even computer keystrokes and mouse movements, providing another layer of detail. “Flash cookies” are installed when a computer user activates Flash technology, such as a YouTube video, embedded on a site. They can also reinstall cookies that have been removed. Such “persistent cookies,” says Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, make it “virtually impossible for users to go online without being tracked and profiled.”

Who’s doing the spying?
Marketers, advertisers, and those whose businesses depend on them. Most websites install their own cookies and beacons, both to make site navigation easier and to gather user information. (Wikipedia is a rare exception.) But third parties—advertisers and the networks that place online ads, such as Google and iAds—frequently pay site hosts to install their own tracking technology. Beacons are even sometimes planted without the knowledge of the host site. Comcast, for example, installed Flash cookies on computers visiting its website after it accepted Clearspring Technologies’ free software for displaying slide shows. Visitors who clicked on a slide show at wound up loading Clearspring’s Flash cookies onto their hard drives, which Comcast said it had never authorized.

How is personal data used?
It’s collected and sold by companies like Clearspring. Such information can be sold in large chunks—for example, an advertiser might pay $1 for 1,000 profiles of movie lovers—or in customized segments. An apparel retailer might buy access to 18-year-old female fans of the Twilight movie series who reside in the Sunbelt. “We can segment it all the way down to one person,” says Eric Porres of Lotame, which sells these profiles. Advertisers use the profiles to deliver individualized ads that follow users to every site they visit. Julia Preston, a 32-year-old software designer from Austin, recently saw how this works firsthand when she started seeing lots of Web ads for fertility treatments. She had recently researched uterine disorders online. “It’s unnerving,” she says.

Is all this snooping legal?
So far, yes. While an e-commerce site can’t sell to third parties the credit card numbers it acquires in the course of its business, the legality of various tracking technologies—and the sale of the personal profiles that result—has never been tested in court. Privacy advocates say that’s not because there aren’t abundant abuses, but because the law hasn’t kept pace with advancing technology. “The relevant laws,” says Lauren Weinstein of People for Internet Responsibility, an advocacy group, “are generally so weak—if they exist at all—that it’s difficult to file complaints.”

Can you avoid revealing yourself online?
Aside from abandoning the Internet altogether, there’s virtually no way to evade prying eyes. Take the case of Ashley Hayes-Beaty, who learned just how exposed she was when The Wall Street Journal shared what it had learned about her from a data miner. Hayes-Beaty’s computer use identified her as a 26-year-old female Nashville resident who counts The Princess Bride and 50 First Dates among her favorite movies, regularly watches Sex and the City, keeps current on entertainment news, and enjoys taking pop-culture quizzes. That litany, which advertisers can buy for about one-tenth of a cent, constitutes what Hayes-Beaty calls an “eerily precise” consumer profile. “I like to think I have some mystery left to me,” says Hayes-Beaty, “but apparently not.”


There are ways to minimize your exposure to data miners. One of the most effective is to disrupt profile-building by clearing your computer browser’s cache and deleting all cookies at least once a week. In addition, turning on the “private browsing” feature included in most popular Web browsers will block tracking technologies from installing themselves on your machine. For fees ranging from $9.95 to $10,000, companies like ReputationDefender can remove your personal information from up to 90 percent of commercial websites. But it’s basically impossible to eradicate personal information, such as property records and police files, from government databases. “There’s really no solution now, except abstinence” from the Internet, says Lt. Col. Greg Conti, a computer science professor at West Point. “And if you choose not to use online tools, you’re really not a member of the 21st century.”
27110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India and India-afpakia (and China?) on: September 13, 2010, 09:12:13 PM

That is true, including strengthening nuclear relations even though India is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Agreement.


I suspect the Paks see their nukes as a counter to India's military superiority/numbers; my greater concern is into whose hands the Pak's nukes, technology, and/or materials may wind up.
27111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-Georgia, Turkey, Caucasus on: September 13, 2010, 09:08:51 PM

Good subject and nice follow up-- I had not seen what Microsoft has done.

That said, I'm thinking of our various threads on different aspects of Russia, this one might be a better place to continue it:

27112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: September 13, 2010, 08:40:31 PM
 shocked shocked shocked
27113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India and India-afpakia (and China?) on: September 13, 2010, 05:54:08 PM
I just reread the Stratfor piece I posted in this thread on the 10th and there is a lot there worthy of consideration.  One thought of many:  Strong alliance with India seems to make sense in many ways.
27114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: September 13, 2010, 05:30:21 PM
Just a sentence or three to help people decide whether it is of sufficient interest to them to go to that site is all we are hoping for  smiley
27115  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Seattle, Sept 11-12, 2010 on: September 13, 2010, 05:26:58 PM
I want videos of your next cage fight Ryan so I can compare the difference from you previous fight  grin
27116  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog (Canine) Training on: September 13, 2010, 05:25:00 PM
Concerning the similarities and differences between dogs and wolves, a Zapata story:

We were at about 7,000 feet on the tallest mountain in Baja California-- which tops out over 10,000.  A VERY remote area. Some folks were trying to sell me about 30 acres of land which included a spring.  I wanted to see where the spring originated and so Zapata and I started climbing up the mountain side.  It was full of large boulders, heavy mesquite brush, and such.  Eventually it got too much for Zapata and so I told him to go back to the fifth wheel camper that served as the "cabin" on the property-- don't ask me how I told him, but he understood me anyway.  It was about a mile away.  He turned and headed back as I continued climbing.  When he got to the "cabin" he gave a big wolf howl to let me know that he had arrived at the cabin.

Only time in his life he ever did that.

Only time he ever needed to.

God, I loved that dog.

27117  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Door Work, Bouncing, Bodyguarding on: September 13, 2010, 05:07:53 PM
Sgt Mac:

I remember reading about that study at the time.

A variation of your tag line:

"Speak softly, and carry a big stick"  grin
27118  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: September 13, 2010, 04:59:46 PM
Grateful to be home!
27119  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: September 13, 2010, 04:59:05 PM
Quoting myself, "Intelligence is the amount of time it takes to forget a lesson." 

Lets see how long you remember this one  cheesy
27120  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Open Gathering Sept 19, 2010 on: September 13, 2010, 04:57:36 PM
C-HD, may I ask you to be in charge of keep count?  Either here or on the DBMAA forum, would you please keep a running count so I can best decide which restaurant we should use?
27121  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Seattle, Sept 11-12, 2010 on: September 12, 2010, 10:29:15 PM
One of the most enjoyable seminars ever for me.  Outstanding group with great vibes.  Tricky Dog and crew made it down.  Focus on Kali Tudo and DLO, with some stick work on occupying strikes using the "Salt & Pepper" variations as the vehicle for the concept.
27122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: September 12, 2010, 10:24:01 PM
Thank you.
27123  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog (Canine) Training on: September 12, 2010, 10:22:10 PM
At 10 months (about 90 pounds) I was till taking my second Akita to the dog park.  One day an Irish Wolfhound (about 170, think large hairy Great Dane) that had bullied him when he was 6 months old (about 70 pounds) came in.  Naturally my boy remembered him and his body language told me he was going to settle accounts.  I gave him the stop command but he ignored me.  The fight was over very quickly.  He knocked the Irish Wolfhound across the entire park for about ten seconds with the IW just totally folding mentally.  Finally I caught up to him and grabbed him as the IW ran off.  I picked up up by the scruff of the neck and the loose skin at the base of the tail and carried him across the length of the park and out the gate.  We were clear between each other thereafter.

OTOH my first Akita, Zapata, the one in our logo, was a VERY dominant Akita.  Instead of trying me he dominated a couple of formidable men; one who had gotten on his excrement list by raising his voice to me and then on another occasion violating the dog's personal space (Z. pinned him to the wall by the testicles) and the other a bodybuilder on steroids.  I'm guessing Zapata took the smell of the testosterone to be a challenge so he rose up and put his paws on the guy's shoulders (he was about 5 foot 6 inch and very thick) rumbled in his face and humped him twice--not in a neurotic poodle way, but in a prison way so as to establish dominance.
27124  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: September 12, 2010, 10:10:18 PM
Grateful for a wonderful seminar this weekend in Seattle and time with my friends Rob, Tracy, and the two children Mitchell and Duncan.
27125  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Open Gathering Sept 19, 2010 on: September 12, 2010, 10:08:49 PM

Lets no get too hung up on the numbers.  There's always some last minute cases of vaginitis , , ,  cheesy
27126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: September 12, 2010, 10:03:09 PM
Sincere question:

So what about accessing them from a cyber cafe or a public library?
27127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: September 12, 2010, 09:46:38 PM

Invariably you have excellent judgement in what you share, but may I ask for a bit more description to accompany the URLs?  Thank you.
27128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A 21st Century GOP on: September 12, 2010, 09:44:38 PM
A Twenty-First-Century GOP
Republicans need to win back tech-savvy, educated voters. Here’s how.

With President Obama’s job-approval ratings in free fall, Republicans feel
justifiably confident about the 2010 congressional elections. But even if
the GOP has recovered some swagger, the party’s long-term political fortunes
require it to recover something else: the votes of well-educated,
well-compensated elites. Over the past decade and a half, Republicans have
watched scientists, high-tech workers, doctors, financial leaders, and
academics in engineering and business abandon the party in favor of the
Democrats. This exodus has weakened the GOP politically and left it
dependent on white evangelical voters. But the elites’ home could again be
the Republican Party—if the Republicans welcome them back.

An interviewer once asked Karl Rove to define the Democratic Party’s base.
“Anyone with a doctorate,” he responded. This wasn’t true in the past. Back
in 1975, Everett Ladd and Seymour Lipset found that university professors in
the hard sciences leaned somewhat Republican, unlike their colleagues in the
humanities. Ladd and Lipset also discovered that while 64 percent of
social-science professors were liberals, only 24 percent of engineering
professors and 23 percent of business professors were. In fact, when Ladd
and Lipset looked at the 1968 and 1972 elections, the Republican
candidate—none other than Richard Nixon, the scourge of humanities
profs—managed to “command solid majorities among professors of business,
engineering, and agriculture.” Overall, 43 percent of faculty members backed

The conservative foothold in faculty lounges began to loosen as the
seventies ended, and by the new millennium, academic Republicans had become
much harder to spot, even in traditionally conservative disciplines. In the
2004 election, pollster Gary Tobin reported, John Kerry secured 72 percent
of the faculty vote, with the candidate also getting 72 percent among
science and math professors and even managing to win half of the business
and management faculty. The trend of scientists voting Democratic has gone
beyond the campus: according to a 2009 poll, only 6 percent of all American
scientists called themselves Republicans, compared with 55 percent
self-identifying as Democrats.

Republicans have started to lose Wall Street, too. From 1998 to 2007,
reports the activist group Wall Street Watch, 55 percent of commercial
banks’ campaign contributions went to Republicans. George W. Bush beat Al
Gore in Wall Street dollars—$4 million to $1.4 million in 2000—and he nearly
doubled Kerry’s $4 million take in 2004. But these leads have disappeared
over the last few years, with the Democrats gaining a majority of Wall
Street contributions in 2008.

Doctors, like Wall Street execs, have a Republican history, but there are
signs that they, too, are moving away from the party. From 1998 through
2006, Republicans garnered 67 percent of all campaign contributions from the
American Medical Association; but by 2008, Democrats were pulling in 56
percent, and the AMA proceeded to support President Obama’s health-care
overhaul. While the AMA represents only 29 percent or so of American
doctors, this is a troubling development for the GOP.

Republicans are also failing to secure the votes of an emerging group that
should naturally align with the party: libertarian-leaning workers in
Silicon Valley and other high-tech enclaves. Despite the Valley’s
entrepreneurial, leave-us-alone spirit, two-thirds of tech-industry
contributions went to Democrats in the 2008 election cycle, according to

What’s behind the Republican Party’s poor performance with these key groups?
After all, they are often pro-innovation and anti-regulation, tend to favor
lower taxes, and frequently prefer what works to bromides about what might
be. Various factors explain the disaffection. Scientists particularly
disliked George W. Bush, believing the misleading arguments about a
Republican “war on science.” Silicon Valley and Wall Street executives have
not seen enough pro-growth policies from the GOP to overcome their dislike
of the party’s social policies. And doctors have seen far too few Republican
proposals to improve our health-care system. This unfortunate silence helped
build momentum among doctors for the health-care bill—even though, as Scott
Gottlieb recently argued in the Wall Street Journal, the bill is driving
many to abandon private practice for the apparent safety of HMOs and large
hospital networks.

These elite groups share an important characteristic: a deep attachment to
science and technology. So a serious, technology-friendly Republican agenda
could begin to reverse the party’s losses and could do so, moreover, without
alienating the GOP’s evangelical base. The agenda would have five
commonsense components.

First, Republicans should encourage innovation, especially in areas, like
health care, that provide benefits to millions of Americans. During the
health-reform debate, Republicans were eager to discuss how Democratic
proposals would harm innovation, but they failed to explain how they
themselves would help it. One way would be to promote the development of
lifesaving and life-extending products by offering clearer pathways to FDA
approval of new drugs and treatments. In addition, tort reform could help
reduce what the Pacific Research Institute estimates is $367 billion that
American companies lose in product sales each year by fighting litigation
instead of developing new products.

Second, Republicans should work to ensure that America has access to the
world’s best technological minds. Throughout our history, we’ve done this by
both nurturing native-born brainpower (like Thomas Edison’s) and attracting
great minds from elsewhere (like Albert Einstein’s). Our legal immigration
system currently emphasizes family reunification. Refocusing it to award
residency to people with desirable skills, as countries like Australia and
Canada do, would help us attract more of the best and brightest. Another
good step would be granting green cards to foreign nationals who earn
advanced technical degrees in math, science, or medicine from accredited
American institutions—instead of requiring them to leave the country and
apply for reentry, as we do now. This change would take advantage of
America’s top-flight universities and mask the weakness of our K–12
educational system. According to *U.S. News and World Report*, America has
13 of the world’s best 20 universities, and students from around the world
clamor to attend them.

The failed Kennedy-McCain immigration-reform bill of 2005 did create a
points system for those with certain education or employment credentials.
Unfortunately, the skills-based features of the bill were lost in the larger
battle over *illegal* immigration. Republicans should try to divorce this
issue—which divides the party—from the potentially unifying one of
encouraging skilled legal immigrants. The GOP could then draw a sharp
contrast with Democrats, who tend to oppose skills-based immigration.

The third way that Republicans can regain the elite, tech-friendly votes
that they’ve lost is recommitting themselves to free trade. In the past,
Republicans were overwhelmingly in favor of free trade and could find enough
like-minded Democrats to pass multilateral and bilateral trade agreements,
NAFTA being the most famous example. Nowadays, Democrats generally resist
free trade and cooperate with enough protectionist Republicans to block
free-trade agreements, regardless of who controls Congress.

President Bush must take some of the blame for this reversal, especially by
imposing steel tariffs during his first term, fulfilling a campaign promise
made in West Virginia. On the other hand, he did promote bilateral
agreements to jump-start free trade while cumbersome multilateral
negotiations like the World Trade Organization’s Doha round dragged on.
President Obama, for his part, has been largely unfriendly to free trade,
imposing a fee on imported tires from China, for example. According to
Post*, the Chinese unsurprisingly saw this as “a political concession to
U.S. labor unions” and retaliated, worsening trade tensions between the two
countries. Incidents like these have given Republicans an opportunity to
rediscover their inner David Ricardo.

Fourth, Republicans should capitalize on the Democrats’ recent spending
spree, which has opened the door for a message about fiscal discipline. It’s
true that cutting personal income taxes no longer has the resonance it once
did, since only 47 percent of Americans pay any federal income tax. (When I
served in the Bush White House, I worked on policy papers bragging that the
president’s tax cuts took 5 million Americans off the income-tax rolls; what
the papers didn’t say was that this change made 5 million more Americans
uninterested in what had been the GOP’s strongest talking point.) But the
party should not retreat on other questions of taxation and especially
budgets. Innovation-centered voters understand that our current fiscal path
of $1.4 trillion deficits is unsustainable. Republicans need to issue a mea
culpa for their past contributions to the nation’s fiscal problems and
articulate a serious plan for digging us out of our crushing debt hole.

At the same time, Republicans should promote tax simplification, as
President Reagan did in 1986. Administering the 67,500-page federal
income-tax code requires 100,000 IRS employees and costs our economy between
2 and 5 percent of GDP in lost efficiency, according to the Government
Accountability Office. Limiting the number of rates and loopholes, while
increasing the standard deduction, would help reduce these inefficiencies
and costs. Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire have
created a bipartisan proposal along these lines, and Republicans should make
sure that they remain out front with other tax-simplification proposals.

Fifth, Republicans should put improving our educational system front and
center, so that we can increase the number of high-skilled workers. One way
to do this is to use Title I, which is supposed to help educate 10 million
poor children and to promote flexibility and better educational outcomes.
Republicans used to support Title I “portability”—that is, attaching Title I
dollars to students rather than linking them to a bureaucratic formula that
rewards specific schools, regardless of performance. Republicans dropped
this idea as a concession to Democrats during the No Child Left Behind
negotiations, but they can pick it up again. Having Title I’s $14 billion
follow our neediest children will encourage schools to be accountable to
parents and allow parents to direct money to schools that work best, whether
public or private.

This reform would have a number of political advantages. The recently
oversubscribed school choice experiment in the District of Columbia shows
that parents, regardless of their ideology, want more of a say in the kind
of education their children receive. As many as four in ten parents already
send a child to a school other than their local public one. More to the
point for political purposes is that well-educated voters, including
business leaders, recognize how our deficient K–12 system harms American
competitiveness by consigning poor kids to failing schools.

Not only would this five-part agenda appeal to the highly educated,
high-income voters who once backed the GOP; it also couldn’t be replicated
by the Democratic Party because of the interest-group politics that govern
so many Democratic policy choices. Democrats can’t back tort reform, for
example, because trial lawyers would balk. They can’t advocate free trade or
high-skilled immigration because of labor unions’ objections. School choice,
even within public schools, is anathema to the Democrat-supporting teachers’
unions. Budget discipline gets in the way of ambitious Democratic spending

An agenda that joins pro-technology voters to the GOP’s evangelical base
would make the party truly formidable electorally. And it would do something
far more important: it would help America maintain its technological
supremacy going forward.

*Tevi D. Troy, the former deputy secretary of health and human services and
a former senior White House domestic-policy aide, is a visiting senior
fellow at the Hudson Institute.*
27129  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Seattle, Sept 11-12, 2010 on: September 11, 2010, 11:01:39 PM
Good fun and games today with a good group of good level working on both Kali Tudo and DLO.

Looking forward to tomorrow!
27130  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Stretching on: September 11, 2010, 11:00:04 PM
I am sure you will get several good suggestions, but my contribution is to remind you to stretch your hip flexors too:
27131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India and India-afpakia (and China?) on: September 11, 2010, 10:07:20 AM
Absolutely correct JDN.

And a hat tip from me to GM for having spotted this a ways back.  I am up over 50% in  TIE and MCP thanks to his having drawn this to my attention grin grin grin
27132  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: September 11, 2010, 12:09:27 AM
Grateful for a wonderful mini-hike in a temperate rain forest today.
27133  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Open Gathering Sept 19, 2010 on: September 11, 2010, 12:08:02 AM
I count 39 fighters .
27134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: a big picture read on: September 10, 2010, 07:14:15 PM
Rumors are circulating on the Indian subcontinent over the reported presence of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, ostensibly to provide protection for aid and construction workers. STRATFOR sources in the area have indicated that these reports are overblown, but China’s growing reassertion of territorial claims in the region will not go ignored by India and will give New Delhi and Washington another cause for cooperation. The prospect of greater U.S.-Indian defense cooperation and waning U.S. interest in Afghanistan will meanwhile drive Pakistan closer to China, creating a series of self-perpetuating threats on the subcontinent.

U.S. Pacific Command head Adm. Robert F. Willard is on a two-day visit to India to meet with the Indian defense leadership Sept. 9-10. Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony will follow up his meetings with Willard when he meets with U.S. defense leaders in Washington at the end of September. With an arduous war being fought in Afghanistan and India’s fears growing over Pakistan-based militancy, there is no shortage of issues for the two sides to discuss. But there is one additional topic of discussion that is now elevating in importance: Chinese military moves on the Indian subcontinent.

Allegations over a major increase of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops in northern Kashmir have been circulating over the past several weeks, with an Op-Ed in The New York Times claiming that as many as 7,000 to 11,000 PLA troops have flooded into the northern part of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, known as the Gilgit-Baltistan region. This is an area through which China has been rebuilding the Karakoram Highway, which connects the Chinese region of Xinjiang by road and rail to Pakistan’s Chinese-built and funded ports on the Arabian Sea. Though Chinese engineers have been working on this infrastructure for some time, new reports suggest that several thousand PLA troops are stationed on the Khunjerab Pass on the Xinjiang border to provide security to the Karakoram Highway construction crews. Handfuls of militants have been suspected of transiting this region in the past to travel between Central Asia, Afghanistan and China’s Xinjiang province, and Chinese construction crews in Pakistan have been targeted a number of times by jihadists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. That said, a large Chinese troop presence in the region is likely to serve a larger purpose than simply stand-by protection for Chinese workers.

(click here to enlarge image)
Pakistan responded by describing the reports as fabricated and said a small Chinese presence was in the area to provide humanitarian assistance in the ongoing flood relief effort. Chinese state media also discussed recently how the Chinese government was shipping emergency aid to Pakistan via Kashgar, Xinjiang province, through the Khunjerab Pass to the Sost dry port in northern Pakistan. India expressed its concern over the reports of Chinese troops in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, said it was working to independently verify the claims, and then claimed to confirm at least 1,000 PLA troops had entered the region.

Such claims of troop deployments in the region are often exaggerated for various political aims, and these latest reports are no exception. STRATFOR is in the process of verifying the exact number of PLA troops in and around Pakistani-administered Gilgit-Baltistan and what percentage of those are combat troops. STRATFOR sources reported that a convoy of approximately 110 Chinese trucks recently delivered some 2,000 metric tons of mostly food aid through the Khunjerab Pass to the Gojal Valley, an area devastated by recent flooding and landslides. Chinese Bridges and Roads Co. (CBRC) has been working on expanding the Karakoram Highway for the past three years and has roughly 700 Chinese laborers and engineers working on the project. The highway expansion is expected to be completed by 2013, but the deadline is likely to be extended as a result of recent flooding.

Though STRATFOR’s on-ground reports so far track closest with the Chinese claims of flood relief operations, such relief and construction work can also provide useful cover for a more gradual buildup and sustained military presence in the region. This prospect is on the minds of many U.S. and Indian defense officials who would not be pleased with the idea of China reinforcing military support for Pakistan through overland supply routes.

Motives Behind the Buildup

Though Pakistan has reacted defiantly to the rumors, Islamabad has much to gain from merely having the rumor out in the open. Pakistan’s geopolitical vulnerability cannot be overstated. The country already faces a host of internally wrenching issues but must also contend with the fact that the Pakistani heartland in the Indus River Valley sits near the border with Pakistan’s much bigger and more powerful Indian rival, denying Islamabad any meaningful strategic depth to adequately defend itself. Pakistan is thus on an interminable search for a reliable, external power patron for its security, and its preferred choice is the United States, which has the military might and economic heft to buttress Pakistani defenses. However, Washington must maintain a delicate balance on the subcontinent, moving between its deepening partnership with India and keeping Pakistan on life support to avoid having India become the unchallenged South Asian hegemon.

Though Pakistan will do whatever it can to hold U.S. interest in an alliance with Islamabad — and keeping the militant threat alive is very much a part of that calculus — it will more often than not be left feeling betrayed by its allies in Washington. With U.S. patience wearing thin on Afghanistan, talk of a U.S. betrayal is naturally creeping up again among Pakistani policymakers as Pakistan fears that a U.S. withdrawal from the region will leave Pakistan with little to defend against India, a massive militant mess to clean up and a weaker hand in Afghanistan. China, while unwilling to put its neck out for Pakistan and provoke retaliation by India, provides Islamabad with a vital military backup that Pakistan can not only use to elicit more defense support against the Indians, but also to capture Washington’s attention with a reminder that a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan could open the door for Chinese military expansion in South Asia.

Chinese motives in the Kashmir affair are more complex. Even before the rumors, India and China were diplomatically sparring over the Chinese government’s recent refusal to issue a visa to a senior Indian army general on grounds that his command includes Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. Such diplomatic flare-ups have become more frequent over the past couple of years, as China has used visa issuances in disputed territory in Kashmir and in Arunachal Pradesh along the northern Indian border to assert its territorial claims while trying to discredit Indian claims. Even beyond Kashmir, China has injected life into its territorial claims throughout the East and South China seas, much to the consternation of the Pacific Rim states.

China’s renewed assertiveness in these disputed territories can be explained in large part by the country’s resource acquisition strategy. As China has scaled up its efforts to scour the globe for energy resources to sustain its elephantine economy, it has increasingly sought to develop a military that can safeguard vital supply lines running through the Indian Ocean basin to and from the Persian Gulf. Building the Karakoram Highway through Kashmir, for example, allows China to substantially cut down the time it takes to transit supplies between the Pakistani coast and China’s western front.

China’s increasing reliance on the military to secure its supply lines for commercial interests, along with other trends, has thus given the PLA a much more prominent say in Chinese policymaking in recent years. This trend has been reinforced by the Chinese government’s need to modernize the military and meet its growing budgetary needs following a large-scale recentralization effort in the 1990s that stripped the PLA of much of its business interests. Over the past decade, the PLA has taken a more prominent role in maintaining internal stability — including responses to natural disasters, riots and other disturbances — while increasing its participation in international peacekeeping efforts. As the PLA’s clout has grown in recent years, Chinese military officials have gone from remaining virtually silent on political affairs to becoming commentators for the Chinese state press on issues concerning Chinese foreign policy.

The PLA’s political influence could also be factoring into the rising political tensions in Kashmir. After all, China’s naval expansion into the Indian Ocean basin for its primarily commercial interests has inevitably driven the modernization and expansion of the Indian navy, a process the United States supports out of its own interest to hedge against China. By both asserting its claims to territory in Arunachal Pradesh and Kashmir and raising the prospect of more robust Chinese military support for Pakistan, the Chinese military can benefit from having India’s military focus on ground forces, which require a great deal of resources to maintain a large troop presence in rough terrain, while reducing the amount of attention and resources the Indian military can give to its naval modernization plans.

The Indian Response

There may be a number of commercial, political and military factors contributing to China’s military extensions into South Asia, but India is not as interested in the multifaceted purposes behind China’s moves as it is in the actual movement of troops along the Indian border. From the Indian point of view, the Chinese military is building up naval assets and fortifying its alliance with Pakistan to hem in India. However remote the possibility may be of another futile ground war with China (recall the Sino-Indian war of 1962) across the world’s roughest mountainous terrain, India is unlikely to downplay any notable shifts in China’s military disposition and infrastructure development in the region. India’s traditional response is to highlight the levers it holds with Tibet, which is crucial buffer territory for the Chinese. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent visit with the Dalai Lama was certainly not lost on Beijing. Chinese media have already reported recently that India is reinforcing its troop presence in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, which flanks the Tibetan plateau. Singh also recently warned that India would have to “take adequate precautions” against Chinese “pinpricks” in Jammu and Kashmir, while maintaining hope of peaceful dialogue.

The Chinese relief work in the area so far does not appear to have reached the level of criticality that would prompt India to reinforce its troop presence in Kashmir. However, tensions are continuing to escalate in the region and any meaningful shift in India’s troop disposition would carry significant military implications for the wider region.

India has been attempting at least symbolically to lower its war posture with Pakistan and better manage its territorial claims by reducing its troop presence in select parts of Indian-administered Kashmir. If India is instead compelled to beef up its military presence in the region in reaction to Sino-Pakistani defense cooperation, Pakistan will be tempted to respond in kind, creating another set of issues for the United States to try to manage on the subcontinent. Washington has faced a persistent struggle in trying to convince Pakistan’s military to focus on the counterinsurgency effort in Pakistan and Afghanistan and leave it to the United States to ensure the Indian threat remains in check. Though the Pakistani security establishment is gradually adjusting its threat matrix to acknowledge the war right now is at home and not with India, Pakistan’s troop disposition remains largely unchanged, with 147,000 troops devoted to the counterinsurgency effort in northwestern Pakistan and roughly 150,000 troops in standard deployment formation along the eastern border with India.

The United States, like India, is keeping a watchful eye on China’s military movements on the subcontinent, providing another reason for the two to collaborate more closely on military affairs. Willard was quoted by the Indian state press Sept. 10 as saying that “any change in military relations or military maneuvers by China that raises concerns of India” could fall within U.S. Pacific Command’s area of responsibility, while also maintaining this is an issue for the Indian military to handle on its own. Though the United States is being exceedingly cautious in defining its role in this affair, it cannot avoid the fact that every time U.S. and Indian defense officials get together to discuss Pakistan and China, Islamabad’s fears of a U.S.-Indian military partnership are reinforced, drawing the Pakistanis closer to China. This combination of insecurities is creating a self-perpetuating threat matrix on the subcontinent with implications for U.S., Indian, Chinese and Pakistani defense strategy.
27135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 10, 2010, 12:47:18 AM
I did not see this coming.  Very interesting GM.
27136  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Kali Tudo 3 on: September 10, 2010, 12:38:06 AM
Very cool GD.

BTW, Cindy finished the box cover today and we should be shipping in about two weeks. 
27137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: September 09, 2010, 12:15:22 PM
My prediction:  China is a big bubble which will burst before then.  I might add that GS did not predict the bursting of our bubble (in public at any rate).
27138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: September 09, 2010, 08:17:17 AM
The West Bank Attack and Israel's Negotiating Strategy

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Washington on Tuesday for peace talks to be held on Thursday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Just three hours prior to his arrival, Palestinian gunmen opened fire on a car at the entrance of the Jewish settlement Kiryat Arba near the West Bank city of Hebron. Four Israelis — two men and two women (one of whom was pregnant) — were killed in the attack.

Hamas’ military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was the first group to claim responsibility for the attack, followed by Fatah’s armed wing, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and a new group calling itself Al Haq. Multiple claims for attacks and collaboration among groups is common in the Palestinian territories, but the claim itself does not matter as much as the political message the attack intended to convey.

” Israeli military activity in the West Bank would deliver another big blow to the Palestinian leader’s credibility.”
Hamas, in particular, is signaling to U.S. President Barack Obama and Israel that they are dealing with the wrong man. Abbas certainly cannot claim to speak for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and has questionable authority in his own Fatah-controlled West Bank. As the Tuesday attack illustrated, Abbas cannot control the Palestinian militant landscape whether he wants to or not. In other words, if Israel and the United States are really seeking peace with the Palestinians, they need to open a dialogue with Hamas.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak vowed that Israel would “exact a price” from those responsible for the killing of the four Israeli civilians. Hamas and its militant associates are hoping that price comes in the form of Israeli military operations in the West Bank. Abbas was already hanging by a thread politically, but Israeli military activity in the West Bank would deliver another big blow to the Palestinian leader’s credibility, potentially give Hamas an opportunity to regain influence in the West Bank and help derail Thursday’s peace talks.

But there wasn’t much to derail. The Palestinian territories are split geographically and politically between Hamas and Fatah, with no leader, political faction or militant group able to speak on behalf of the territories as a whole. Neither Israel nor the United States is blind to this reality. But every U.S. administration needs to take its turn at mediating Israeli-Palestinian talks, and though Obama has been preoccupied with more pressing issues since he began his presidency, he has found time to take another swing at brokering peace in the Middle East.

The more interesting question in our mind is what is compelling Israel to oblige with the U.S. wish for peace talks. Israel and the United States have been on rough footing since Obama took office, mainly due to Netanyahu’s failed attempt to pressure Washington into aligning with Israeli policy toward the Palestinians and Iran early on in the Obama presidency. The more Israel pushed, the more it came to realize that it simply cannot afford to alienate its only significant ally without bearing intolerable costs. Israel needed to find a way to clean up that diplomatic mess at low cost — hence the peace talks.

The cost for Israel to proceed with talks following this attack is still low, since Israel knows it can make tough demands and not expect the Palestinian side to deliver. More important, Israel knows perfectly well that the peace process in and of itself will generate an increase in militant acts, and that will allow divisions to persist within the Palestinian territories and excuse Israel from having to make meaningful concessions. The cost on Tuesday was four Israeli lives, but on the strategic level, Hamas gave Israel exactly what it was seeking in the lead-up to Thursday’s peace talks: the status quo.
27139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Well, here's one approach on: September 09, 2010, 08:01:27 AM
Minister wants Obama to become Ameer-ul-Momineen
Published: September 02, 2010
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ISLAMABAD – In a development that could be duly termed as one and only of its kind, an incumbent Government’s Minister has urged US President Barrack Obama to offer Eid prayers at Ground Zero Mosque and become “Ameer-ul-Momineen” of Muslim Ummah.
Minister of State for Industries and former member Pakistan Ideological Council Ayatullah Durrani called TheNation on Wednesday to register his demand made to President Obama.
“The coming Eid would expectedly be observed on 9/11, this a golden opportunity for President Obama to offer Eid prayers at Ground Zero and become Amir-ul-Momineen or Caliph of Muslims. In this way, all the problems of Muslim World would be solved,” he thought.
Durrani argued that Muslim World was in “dire need” of a Caliph and the distinguished slot of Caliphate would earn President Obama the exemplary titles of what he termed, “Mullah Barrack Hussain Obama” or “Allama Obama.” “The time is approaching fast. Barrack Hussain Obama must act now. This is a golden opportunity, Muslims badly need it,” he added, saying that the elevation of President Obama to Muslim’s Caliphate would be the “key to success.”
27140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Barney on: September 09, 2010, 07:44:22 AM
By Neal Boortz @ September 8, 2010 9:05 AM Permalink | Comments (29) | TrackBacks (0)
Since we started off talking about the economy here ... once again it might be a good idea to remind you just what got us into this economic mess. As you know ... the entire economic crash was centered around a collapse in the U.S. real estate market. This collapse was cause by millions (tens of millions?) of homeowners suddenly finding themselves completely unable to make payments on their mortgage loans - payments that had increased due to adjustable rate mortgages.

I've gone through this explanation before ... but this time let me use the words of Thomas Sowell in this excellent column:

"Another political fable is that the current economic downturn is due to not enough government regulation of the housing and financial markets. But it was precisely the government regulators, under pressure from politicians, who forced banks and other lending institutions to lower their standards for making mortgage loans.

These risky loans, and the defaults that followed, were what set off a chain reaction of massive financial losses that brought down the whole economy.

Was this due to George W. Bush and the Republicans? Only partly. Most of those who pushed the lowering of mortgage lending standards were Democrats-- notably Congressman Barney Frank and Senator Christopher Dodd, though too many Republicans went along.

At the heart of these policies were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who bought huge amounts of risky mortgages, passing the risk on from the banks that lent the money (and made the profits) to the taxpayers who were not even aware that they would end up paying in the end.

When President Bush said in 2004 that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be reined in, 76 members of the House of Representatives issued a statement to the contrary. These included Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel.

If we are going to talk about "the policies that created this mess in the first place," let's at least get the facts straight and the names right."

As I've been telling you for well over a year now ... if you want to point the finger at the people most responsible for our current economy, figure out where Barney Frank and Chris Dodd are right now ... and point in that general direction.

And while we're at it ... just to increase the insensitivity here ... when are we going to really explore the role of Barney Frank's boyfriend in this mess? At the very same time that the Republicans were trying to rein in Fannie and Freddie Barney's lover was working for Fannie Mae ... working in the very Fannie Mae program that was encouraging these irresponsible loans. Does that bring up any questions as to why Barney opposed reform? Change the scenario just a bit and have a congressman protecting Fannie Mae while his girlfriend was working there. Do you think THEN someone might have suggested investigating the situation?

27141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: EMP Analysis on: September 09, 2010, 07:02:18 AM
Gauging the Threat of an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack
September 9, 2010

By Scott Stewart and Nate Hughes

Over the past decade there has been an ongoing debate over the threat posed by electromagnetic pulse (EMP) to modern civilization. This debate has been the most heated perhaps in the United States, where the commission appointed by Congress to assess the threat to the United States warned of the dangers posed by EMP in reports released in 2004 and 2008. The commission also called for a national commitment to address the EMP threat by hardening the national infrastructure.

There is little doubt that efforts by the United States to harden infrastructure against EMP — and its ability to manage critical infrastructure manually in the event of an EMP attack — have been eroded in recent decades as the Cold War ended and the threat of nuclear conflict with Russia lessened. This is also true of the U.S. military, which has spent little time contemplating such scenarios in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union. The cost of remedying the situation, especially retrofitting older systems rather than simply regulating that new systems be better hardened, is immense. And as with any issue involving massive amounts of money, the debate over guarding against EMP has become quite politicized in recent years.

We have long avoided writing on this topic for precisely that reason. However, as the debate over the EMP threat has continued, a great deal of discussion about the threat has appeared in the media. Many STRATFOR readers have asked for our take on the threat, and we thought it might be helpful to dispassionately discuss the tactical elements involved in such an attack and the various actors that could conduct one. The following is our assessment of the likelihood of an EMP attack against the United States.

Defining Electromagnetic Pulse

EMP can be generated from natural sources such as lightning or solar storms interacting with the earth’s atmosphere, ionosphere and magnetic field. It can also be artificially created using a nuclear weapon or a variety of non-nuclear devices. It has long been proven that EMP can disable electronics. Its ability to do so has been demonstrated by solar storms, lightning strikes and atmospheric nuclear explosions before the ban on such tests. The effect has also been recreated by EMP simulators designed to reproduce the electromagnetic pulse of a nuclear device and study how the phenomenon impacts various kinds of electrical and electronic devices such as power grids, telecommunications and computer systems, both civilian and military.

The effects of an EMP — both tactical and strategic — have the potential to be quite significant, but they are also quite uncertain. Such widespread effects can be created during a high-altitude nuclear detonation (generally above 30 kilometers, or about 18 miles). This widespread EMP effect is referred to as high-altitude EMP or HEMP. Test data from actual high-altitude nuclear explosions is extremely limited. Only the United States and the Soviet Union conducted atmospheric nuclear tests above 20 kilometers and, combined, they carried out fewer than 20 actual tests.

As late as 1962 — a year before the Partial Test Ban Treaty went into effect, prohibiting its signatories from conducting aboveground test detonations and ending atmospheric tests — scientists were surprised by the HEMP effect. During a July 1962 atmospheric nuclear test called “Starfish Prime,” which took place 400 kilometers above Johnston Island in the Pacific, electrical and electronic systems were damaged in Hawaii, some 1,400 kilometers away. The Starfish Prime test was not designed to study HEMP, and the effect on Hawaii, which was so far from ground zero, startled U.S. scientists.

High-altitude nuclear testing effectively ended before the parameters and effects of HEMP were well understood. The limited body of knowledge that was gained from these tests remains a highly classified matter in both the United States and Russia. Consequently, it is difficult to speak intelligently about EMP or publicly debate the precise nature of its effects in the open-source arena.

The importance of the EMP threat should not be understated. There is no doubt that the impact of a HEMP attack would be significant. But any actor plotting such an attack would be dealing with immense uncertainties — not only about the ideal altitude at which to detonate the device based on its design and yield in order to maximize its effect but also about the nature of those effects and just how devastating they could be.

Non-nuclear devices that create an EMP-like effect, such as high-power microwave (HPM) devices, have been developed by several countries, including the United States. The most capable of these devices are thought to have significant tactical utility and more powerful variants may be able to achieve effects more than a kilometer away. But at the present time, such weapons do not appear to be able to create an EMP effect large enough to affect a city, much less an entire country. Because of this, we will confine our discussion of the EMP threat to HEMP caused by a nuclear detonation, which also happens to be the most prevalent scenario appearing in the media.

Attack Scenarios

In order to have the best chance of causing the type of immediate and certain EMP damage to the United States on a continent-wide scale, as discussed in many media reports, a nuclear weapon (probably in the megaton range) would need to be detonated well above 30 kilometers somewhere over the American Midwest. Modern commercial aircraft cruise at a third of this altitude. Only the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China possess both the mature warhead design and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability to conduct such an attack from their own territory, and these same countries have possessed that capability for decades. (Shorter range missiles can achieve this altitude, but the center of the United States is still 1,000 kilometers from the Eastern Seaboard and more than 3,000 kilometers from the Western Seaboard — so just any old Scud missile won’t do.)

The HEMP threat is nothing new. It has existed since the early 1960s, when nuclear weapons were first mated with ballistic missiles, and grew to be an important component of nuclear strategy. Despite the necessarily limited understanding of its effects, both the United States and Soviet Union almost certainly included the use of weapons to create HEMPs in both defensive and especially offensive scenarios, and both post-Soviet Russia and China are still thought to include HEMP in some attack scenarios against the United States.

However, there are significant deterrents to the use of nuclear weapons in a HEMP attack against the United States, and nuclear weapons have not been used in an attack anywhere since 1945. Despite some theorizing that a HEMP attack might be somehow less destructive and therefore less likely to provoke a devastating retaliatory response, such an attack against the United States would inherently and necessarily represent a nuclear attack on the U.S. homeland and the idea that the United States would not respond in kind is absurd. The United States continues to maintain the most credible and survivable nuclear deterrent in the world, and any actor contemplating a HEMP attack would have to assume not that they might experience some limited reprisal but that the U.S. reprisal would be full, swift and devastating.

Countries that build nuclear weapons do so at great expense. This is not a minor point. Even today, a successful nuclear weapons program is the product of years — if not a decade or more — and the focused investment of a broad spectrum of national resources. Nuclear weapons also are developed as a deterrent to attack, not with the intention of immediately using them offensively. Once a design has achieved an initial capability, the focus shifts to establishing a survivable deterrent that can withstand first a conventional and then a nuclear first strike so that the nuclear arsenal can serve its primary purpose as a deterrent to attack. The coherency, skill and focus this requires are difficult to overstate and come at immense cost — including opportunity cost — to the developing country. The idea that Washington will interpret the use of a nuclear weapon to create a HEMP as somehow less hostile than the use of a nuclear weapon to physically destroy an American city is not something a country is likely to gamble on.

In other words, for the countries capable of carrying out a HEMP attack, the principles of nuclear deterrence and the threat of a full-scale retaliatory strike continue to hold and govern, just as they did during the most tension-filled days of the Cold War.

Rogue Actors

One scenario that has been widely put forth is that the EMP threat emanates not from a global or regional power like Russia or China but from a rogue state or a transnational terrorist group that does not possess ICBMs but will use subterfuge to accomplish its mission without leaving any fingerprints. In this scenario, the rogue state or terrorist group loads a nuclear warhead and missile launcher aboard a cargo ship or tanker and then launches the missile from just off the coast in order to get the warhead into position over the target for a HEMP strike. This scenario would involve either a short-range ballistic missile to achieve a localized metropolitan strike or a longer-range (but not intercontinental) ballistic missile to reach the necessary position over the Eastern or Western seaboard or the Midwest to achieve a key coastline or continental strike.

When we consider this scenario, we must first acknowledge that it faces the same obstacles as any other nuclear weapon employed in a terrorist attack. It is unlikely that a terrorist group like al Qaeda or Hezbollah can develop its own nuclear weapons program. It is also highly unlikely that a nation that has devoted significant effort and treasure to develop a nuclear weapon would entrust such a weapon to an outside organization. Any use of a nuclear weapon would be vigorously investigated and the nation that produced the weapon would be identified and would pay a heavy price for such an attack (there has been a large investment in the last decade in nuclear forensics). Lastly, as noted above, a nuclear weapon is seen as a deterrent by countries such as North Korea or Iran, which seek such weapons to protect themselves from invasion, not to use them offensively. While a group like al Qaeda would likely use a nuclear device if it could obtain one, we doubt that other groups such as Hezbollah would. Hezbollah has a known base of operations in Lebanon that could be hit in a counterstrike and would therefore be less willing to risk an attack that could be traced back to it.

Also, such a scenario would require not a crude nuclear device but a sophisticated nuclear warhead capable of being mated with a ballistic missile. There are considerable technical barriers that separate a crude nuclear device from a sophisticated nuclear warhead. The engineering expertise required to construct such a warhead is far greater than that required to construct a crude device. A warhead must be far more compact than a primitive device. It must also have a trigger mechanism and electronics and physics packages capable of withstanding the force of an ICBM launch, the journey into the cold vacuum of space and the heat and force of re-entering the atmosphere — and still function as designed. Designing a functional warhead takes considerable advances in several fields of science, including physics, electronics, engineering, metallurgy and explosives technology, and overseeing it all must be a high-end quality assurance capability. Because of this, it is our estimation that it would be far simpler for a terrorist group looking to conduct a nuclear attack to do so using a crude device than it would be using a sophisticated warhead — although we assess the risk of any non-state actor obtaining a nuclear capability of any kind, crude or sophisticated, as extraordinarily unlikely.

But even if a terrorist organization were somehow able to obtain a functional warhead and compatible fissile core, the challenges of mating the warhead to a missile it was not designed for and then getting it to launch and detonate properly would be far more daunting than it would appear at first glance. Additionally, the process of fueling a liquid-fueled ballistic missile at sea and then launching it from a ship using an improvised launcher would also be very challenging. (North Korea, Iran and Pakistan all rely heavily on Scud technology, which uses volatile, corrosive and toxic fuels.)

Such a scenario is challenging enough, even before the uncertainty of achieving the desired HEMP effect is taken into account. This is just the kind of complexity and uncertainty that well-trained terrorist operatives seek to avoid in an operation. Besides, a ground-level nuclear detonation in a city such as New York or Washington would be more likely to cause the type of terror, death and physical destruction that is sought in a terrorist attack than could be achieved by generally non-lethal EMP.

Make no mistake: EMP is real. Modern civilization depends heavily on electronics and the electrical grid for a wide range of vital functions, and this is truer in the United States than in most other countries. Because of this, a HEMP attack or a substantial geomagnetic storm could have a dramatic impact on modern life in the affected area. However, as we’ve discussed, the EMP threat has been around for more than half a century and there are a number of technical and practical variables that make a HEMP attack using a nuclear warhead highly unlikely.

When considering the EMP threat, it is important to recognize that it exists amid a myriad other threats, including related threats such as nuclear warfare and targeted, small-scale HPM attacks. They also include threats posed by conventional warfare and conventional weapons such as man-portable air-defense systems, terrorism, cyberwarfare attacks against critical infrastructure, chemical and biological attacks — even natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and tsunamis.

The world is a dangerous place, full of potential threats. Some things are more likely to occur than others, and there is only a limited amount of funding to monitor, harden against, and try to prevent, prepare for and manage them all. When one attempts to defend against everything, the practical result is that one defends against nothing. Clear-sighted, well-grounded and rational prioritization of threats is essential to the effective defense of the homeland.

Hardening national infrastructure against EMP and HPM is undoubtedly important, and there are very real weaknesses and critical vulnerabilities in America’s critical infrastructure — not to mention civil society. But each dollar spent on these efforts must be balanced against a dollar not spent on, for example, port security, which we believe is a far more likely and far more consequential vector for nuclear attack by a rogue state or non-state actor.
27142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Seattle: Eid celebrations postponed on: September 09, 2010, 06:56:06 AM
27143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 09, 2010, 06:31:31 AM
Expectations and Reality in Afghanistan

Afghan officials told Reuters on Tuesday that President Hamid Karzai’s regime had frozen the assets of leading shareholders and borrowers at the country’s top bank. These include Kabul Bank’s former chairman, Sher Khan Farnood, and chief executive officer, Khalilullah Frozi — each of whom owns a 28 percent stake in the bank. Both reportedly resigned their positions last week, which apparently triggered the run on the financial institution because of fears that the bank was collapsing in the wake of illegal withdrawals by some of its owners. Karzai’s brother, Mahmood, is the third-largest shareholder, with a 7 percent stake, and First Vice President Mohammad Qasim Fahim’s brother, Mohammad Haseen, also has interests in Kabul Bank.

That Afghanistan’s largest private bank is in trouble is not as significant as the Western media coverage of the issue. The Western press is depicting it as a major crisis, with some saying it is a larger problem than the rapidly intensifying Taliban insurgency. This view does not take into account that modern financial institutions in a country like Afghanistan cannot be treated as they are in other countries and the West.

“There is an assumption that Afghanistan’s problems can be solved by imposing a Western-style political economy on the country, which is why there is a tendency to gauge progress or the lack thereof in Western terms.”
Most Afghans who live beyond the few urban enclaves in the country do not rely on these institutions in their day-to-day business. In other words, Afghanistan’s financial world has nowhere near as far to fall as the West’s, so even its utter collapse — not just a crisis of confidence in one bank — would not have the same geopolitical magnitude. Thus, the effects of the collapse are not as important as we are led to believe, especially when compared to Afghanistan’s more fundamental problems of insecurity.

This is not to suggest that Western efforts in Afghanistan do not depend on aid and development. But after nearly nine years and tens of billions of dollars of Western aid, Afghanistan has not shown progress in terms of becoming a functional economy and the primordial goal of security has become increasing elusive. More importantly, given the plethora of reports on corruption and graft in the country incessantly produced in the Western public domain, it is only to be expected that Afghanistan’s political elite will skim more than a little off the top of the coffers. In a country defined by the lack of rule of law where tribal, ethnic, and regional warlords reign supreme, graft is only natural. It is not necessary to control corruption to achieve good governance. Indeed, in most countries, control over corruption is the outcome of the maturing of a political system that evolves from a consensus among its stakeholders.

In any case, that the potential collapse of Kabul Bank has created so much anxiety in the West points to a deeper problem — one directly related to the failures of Western strategy for the country. There is an assumption that Afghanistan’s problems can be solved by imposing a Western-style political economy on the country, which is why there is a tendency to gauge progress or the lack thereof in Western terms. Such views are based on an utter disregard for the simple reality that Afghanistan, which has not existed as a nation — let alone a state — for more than three decades, does not operate by the same rules as do most other countries. This much should be obvious from the fact that the U.S.-led West will not be turning Afghanistan into anything resembling a modern Western-style state anytime soon — and definitely not within the narrow window the Obama administration has given itself.

And herein lies the strategic problem. The United States wants to exit the country militarily as soon as possible, which means it does not have the luxury of time to bring Afghanistan into the 21st century. This would explain the story in the Washington Post from over the weekend that — contrary to the political rhetoric condemning corruption and promising to address it — reported that the U.S. military leadership in country is in the process of assuming a more pragmatic attitude toward corruption. The United States appears to be coming to terms with the reality that graft is a way of life in Afghanistan and needs to be tolerated to the degree that allows Washington to work with local leaders (who are unlikely to be clean) in attempting to undermine the momentum of the Taliban insurgency.

At this stage it is not clear that such a strategy would produce the desired results. But Washington has no other choice. Because what is very clear is that Afghanistan does not even compare to Iraq where, despite the massive challenges that remain, the United States was able to get the various factions to at least agree to a political system.
27144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: September 08, 2010, 11:22:47 PM
Other things being roughly equal , , ,
27145  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: September 08, 2010, 11:21:08 PM
I pray for peace and wisdom in dealing with a matter of great emotional conflict and give gratitude for a wonderful wife.
27146  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Seattle, Sept 11-12, 2010 on: September 08, 2010, 11:18:39 PM
Leaving tomorrow (Thursday).  Happy Birthday Duncan!
27147  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: RIP Guro Patrick Davis on: September 08, 2010, 04:53:36 PM
I liked Pat a lot  cry cry cry

"The wood is consumed, but the fire burns on."
27148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: September 08, 2010, 04:31:56 PM
Intuitively that makes sense to me.
27149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Unverified on: September 08, 2010, 03:26:46 PM
This just came over the transom. I can not speak to its veracity nor have I ever heard of Wayne Madsen. At the same time the concept is quite believable.

August 27-29, 2010 -- Obama put on notice by Democratic money moguls

Informed sources in Washington, DC have told WMR that President Obama has been personally told by a delegation of top Democratic Party financiers that unless he radically changes his economic policies they will bolt from him for another Democratic candidate in 2012. The Democratic money moguls conveyed the warning to Obama in Martha's Vineyard, where the president and his family are spending their vacation.


There are various factions within the Democratic Party that see different scenarios to bail out what many Democrats see as an administration in deep trouble with the electorate. One would have Secretary of State Hillary Clinton move up to replace Vice President Joe Biden on the 2012 ticket with Senator John Kerry becoming Secretary of State. However, WMR has been told that Clinton personally loathes Obama and his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and may not want to be part of the 2012 president ticket playing second fiddle to Obama.

WMR has also learned that Obama's reported "severe narcissism" has a number of his cabinet officials and top Democratic fundraisers perplexed. Obama's refusal to change course because of his ego was discussed at the recent annual Bohemian Grove conclave in northern California, which brings together influential businessmen and politicians from both parties. Top U.S. business leaders openly complained about Obama's economic policies, with some stating that Obama is, for the business community, the worst president in anyone's lifetime.


They also complained about White House gatekeepers like Emanuel and policy advisers Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod who are preventing access to the Oval Office.

Although such complaints could be expected from Republican businessmen, we have learned that top Democratic businessmen at the Bohemian Grove have told Jarrett, Obama's chief liaison to them, that all she does is  shake them down" for campaign contributions and that the uncertainty on the costs for Obama programs on health care and taxes has prevented the hiring of workers.


WMR has also learned that rather than change course, the White House staff, who are keenly reading anything that is critical of the president, are more interested in exacting revenge for criticism than in changing course. "The White House staff are voracious readers who are obsessed with favorable coverage," one source said.

The Obama administration's interest in a favorable public image over all other interests has a number of Democrats running for re-election privately miffed. One change many Democratic politicians and fundraisers would like to see is the replacement of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner with someone with more gravitas and a better handle on fixes for the plummeting economy.


Some senior Democrats are also livid about Emanuel's constant selling out of Democratic Party interests for narrow political objectives. WMR has been told by a reliable source that Emanuel has privately conveyed to Florida independent Senate candidate Governor Charlie Crist that the White House will quietly support him if he caucuses with Senate Democrats. Crist has apparently cut a deal with the White House that would see lukewarm White House support for Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek, who recently won the Democratic nomination.


There are dark clouds on the horizon for Obama regardless of a sudden course correction, which some Democrats do not see coming. Certain Democrats see Obama as a liability and there has been a reported understanding reached with the U.S. Attorney for northern Illinois, Patrick Fitzgerald, that in the second trial of ex-Illinois Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich, Obama and his aides, particularly Emanuel, Jarrett, and Axelrod, will no longer enjoy protection from being called as witnesses.


The sudden dropping of federal corruption charges against Rob Blagojevich, the brother of the former governor, may be part of a deal worked out that would focus the trial more keenly on Blagojevich's dealings with Obama and his top aides, including the appointment of Obama's successor in the Senate and financial deals involving Tony Rezko, Stuart Levine, dubious property development in the north Chicago Fifth Congressional District formerly represented by Emanuel, real estate ventures involving the proposed 2016 Summer Olympics in Chicago, and Obama's mortgage with the failed Broadway Bank and his relationship with Rezko and U.S. Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, who was the vice president for loans at the bank at the time the mortgage loan was made.


If the scope of the investigation of corruption in Chicago expands beyond Blagojevich to the White House, we are told the word "impeachment" would begin to be on the lips of a number of Washington politicos.
27150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: September 08, 2010, 10:14:03 AM
But in one case, sexual role models modelled will be Darwinian errors and at variance with abouat 95% of the children in question.
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