Dog Brothers Public Forum

HOME | PUBLIC FORUM | MEMBERS FORUM | INSTRUCTORS FORUM | TRIBE FORUM

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
June 26, 2016, 06:45:50 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
95521 Posts in 2314 Topics by 1081 Members
Latest Member: Martel
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 ... 545 546 [547] 548 549 ... 740
27301  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Alignment on: March 21, 2009, 09:27:29 PM
Forgive me a moment of shamelss marketing here, but one of the Vid-lessons available to DBMAA member is based upon the Bando two man yoga with a stick for shoulder health. 

"the shoulder/scapula/thoracic chest wall system."

EXACTLY so.
27302  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Nobel Laureate Gary Becker on: March 21, 2009, 01:53:52 AM
By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY
"What can we do that would be beneficial? [One thing] is lower corporate taxes and businesses taxes and maybe taxes in general. Particularly, you want to lower the tax on capital so you raise the after-tax return to investing and get more investing going on."

Gary Becker, the winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, is in New York to speak to a special meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society on the global meltdown. He has agreed to sit down to chat with me on the subject of his lecture.

 
Ismael RoldanSlumped in a soft chair in a noisy hotel coffee lounge, the 78-year-old University of Chicago professor is relaxed and remarkably humble for a guy who has achieved so much. As I pepper him with the economic and financial riddles of our time, I am impressed by how many times his answers, delivered in a pronounced Brooklyn accent, include an "I think" and sometimes even an "I don't know the answer to that." It is a reminder of why he is so highly valued. In contrast to a number of other big-name practitioners of the dismal science, he is a solid empiricist genuinely in search of answers -- not the job as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. What he sees is what you get.

What Mr. Becker has seen over a career spanning more than five decades is that free markets are good for human progress. And at a time when increasing government intervention in the economy is all the rage, he insists that economic liberals must not withdraw from the debate simply because their cause, for now, appears quixotic.

As a young academic in 1956, Mr. Becker wrote an important paper against conscription. He was discouraged from publishing it because, at the time, the popular view was that the military draft could never be abolished. Of course it was, and looking back, he says, "that taught me a lesson." Today as Washington appears unstoppable in its quest for more power and lovers of liberty are accused of tilting at windmills, he says it is no time to concede.

Mr. Becker sees the finger prints of big government all over today's economic woes. When I ask him about the sources of the mania in housing prices, the first culprit he names is the Fed. Low interest rates, he says, were "partly, maybe mainly, due to the Fed's policy of keeping [its] interest rates very low during 2002-2004." A second reason rates were low was the "high savings rates primarily from Asia and also from the rest of the world."

"People debate the relative importance of the two and I don't think we know exactly," Mr. Becker admits. But what is clear is that "when you have low interest rates, any long-lived assets tend to go up in price because they are based upon returns accruing over many years. When interest rates are low you don't discount these returns very much and you get high asset prices."

On top of that, Mr. Becker says, there were government policies aimed at "extending the scope of homeownership in the United States to low-credit, low-income families." This was done through "the Community Reinvestment Act in the '70s and then Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac later on" and it put many unqualified borrowers into the mix.

The third effect, Mr. Becker says, was the "bubble mentality." By this "I mean that much of the additional lending and borrowing was based on expectations that prices would continue to rise at rates we now recognize, and should have recognized then, were unsustainable."

Could this behavior be considered rational? "There is a lot of debate in economics about whether we can understand bubbles within a rational framework. There are models where you can do it, but it's not easy," he says. What he does seem sure about is that "the lending would not have continued unless there was this expectation that prices would continue to rise and therefore one could refinance these assets through the higher prices." That mentality was at least partly related to Fed action, he says, because the low interest rates "generated an increase in prices and I think that helped generate some of this excess of optimism."

Mr. Becker says that the market-clearing process, so important to recovery, is well underway. "Construction in new residential housing is way down and prices are way down. Maybe 25% down. Lower prices stimulate demand, reduced construction reduces supply."

That's the good news. But he complains about "counterproductive" government policies "designed to lower mortgage rates to stimulate demand." He says he was against the Bush Treasury's idea of capping mortgage rates (which was only floated) and he has "opposed the mortgage plan of President Obama." "It goes against both these adjustments . . . it would hold up prices and increase construction. I think that's a bad idea at this time."

Yet the professor is no laissez-faire ideologue. He says we have to think about what the government can do to "moderate the hit to the real economy," and he says it should start with "the first law of medicine: Do no harm." Instead it has done harmful things, and chief among them has been the "inconsistent policies with the large institutions . . . We let some big banks fail, like Lehman Brothers. We let less-good banks, big [ones] like Bear Stearns, sort of get bailed out and now we bailed out AIG, an insurance company."

Mr. Becker says that he opposed the "implicit protection" that the government gave to Bear Stearns bondholders to the tune of "$30 billion or so." So I wonder if letting Lehman Brothers go belly up was a good idea. "I'm not sure it was a bad idea, aside from the inconsistency." He points out that "the good assets were bought by Nomura and a number of other banks," and he refers to a paper by Stanford economics professor John Taylor showing that the market initially digested the Lehman failure with calm. It was only days later, Mr. Taylor maintains, that the market panicked when it saw more uncertainty from the Treasury. Mr. Becker says Mr. Taylor's work is "not 100% persuasive but it sort of suggest that maybe the Lehman collapse wasn't the cause of the eventual collapse" of the credit markets.

He returns to the perniciousness of Treasury's inconsistency. "I do believe that in a risky environment which is what we are in now, with the market pricing risk very high, to add additional risk is a big problem, and I think this is what we are doing when we don't have consistent policies. We add to the risk."

On the subject of recovery, Mr. Becker repeats his call for lower taxes, applauds the Fed's action to "raise reserves," (meaning money creation, though he said this before the Fed's action a few days ago), and he says "I do believe one has to try to do something more directly to help with the toxic assets of the banks."

How about getting rid of the mark-to-market pricing of bank assets [that is, pricing assets at the current market price] that some say has destroyed bank capital? Mr. Becker says he prefers mark-to-market over "pricing by cost because costs are often completely out of whack with what the real prices are." Then he adds this qualifier: "But when you have a very thin market, you have to be very careful about what it means to mark-to-market. . . . It's a big problem if you literally take mark-to-market in terms of prices continuously based on transactions when there are very few transactions in that market. I am a mark-to-market person but I think you have to do it in a sensible way."

However that issue is resolved in the short run, there will remain the problem of institutions growing so big that a collapse risks taking down the whole system. To deal with the "too big to fail" problem in the long run, Mr. Becker suggests increasing capital requirements for financial institutions, as the size of the institution increases, "so they can't have [so] much leverage." This, he says, "will discourage banks from getting so big" and "that's fine. That's what we want to do."

Mr. Becker is underwhelmed by the stimulus package: "Much of it doesn't have any short-term stimulus. If you raise research and development, I don't see how it's going to short-run stimulate the economy. You don't have excess unemployed labor in the scientific community, in the research community, or in the wind power creation community, or in the health sector. So I don't see that this will stimulate the economy, but it will raise the debt and lead to inefficient spending and a lot of problems."

There is also the more fundamental question of whether one dollar of government spending can produce one and a half dollars of economic output, as the administration claims. Mr. Becker is more than skeptical. "Keynesianism was out of fashion for so long that we stopped investigating variables the Keynesians would look at such as the multiplier, and there is almost no evidence on what the multiplier would be." He thinks that the paper by Christina Romer, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, "saying that the multiplier is about one and a half [is] based on very weak, even nonexistent evidence." His guess? "I think it is a lot less than one. It gets higher in recessions and depressions so it's above zero now but significantly below one. I don't have a number, I haven't estimated it, but I think it would be well below one, let me put it that way."

As the interview winds down, I'm thinking more about how people can make pretty crazy decisions with the right incentives from government. Does this explain what seems to be a decreasing amount of personal responsibility in our culture? "When you get a larger government, when you have the government taking over Social Security, government taking over health care and with further proposals now for the government to take over more activities, more entitlements, the rational response is to have less responsibility. You don't have to worry about things and plan on your own as much."

That suggests that there is a risk to the U.S. system with more people relying on entitlements. "Well, they become an interest group," Mr. Becker says. "The more you have dependence on the government, the stronger the interest group of people who want to maintain it. That's one reason why it is so hard to get any major reform in reducing government spending in Scandinavia and it is increasingly so in the United States. The government is spending -- at the federal, state and local level -- a third of GDP, and that share will go up now. The higher it is the more people who are directly or indirectly dependent on the government. I am worried about that. The basic theory of interest-group politics says that they will have more influence and their influence will be to try to maintain this, and it will be hard to go back."

Still, there remain many good reasons to continue the struggle against the current trend, Mr. Becker says. "When the market economy is compared to alternatives, nothing is better at raising productivity, reducing poverty, improving health and integrating the people of the world."

Ms. O'Grady writes the Journal's Americas column.
27303  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bolton on: March 21, 2009, 01:36:22 AM
By JOHN BOLTON

While President Obama's unanticipated Nowruz holiday greeting to Iran generated considerable press attention, his video wasn't really this week's big news related to the Islamic Republic. Far more important was that a senior defector -- Iran's former Deputy Minister of Defense Ali Reza Asghari -- disclosed Tehran's financing of Syria's nuclear weapons program. That program's centerpiece was a North Korean nuclear reactor in Syria. Israel destroyed it in September 2007.

At this point, it is impossible to ignore Iran's active efforts to expand, improve and conceal its nuclear weapons program in Syria while it pretends to "negotiate" with Britain, France and Germany (the "EU-3"). No amount of video messages will change this reality. The question is whether this new information about Iran will sink in, or if Washington will continue to turn a blind eye toward Iran's nuclear deceptions.

That the Pyongyang-Damascus-Tehran nuclear axis went undetected and unacknowledged for so long is an intelligence failure of the highest magnitude. It represents a plain unwillingness to allow hard truths to overcome well-entrenched policy views disguised as intelligence findings.

Key elements of our intelligence community (IC) fought against the idea of a Syrian nuclear program for years. In mid-2003, I had a bitter struggle with several IC agencies -- news of which was leaked to the press -- concerning my testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee about the Syrian program. Then Sen. Joe Biden made the Syria testimony an issue in my 2005 confirmation battle to become ambassador to the United Nations, alleging that I had tried to hype concern about Syria's nuclear intentions. (In fact, my testimony, in both its classified and unclassified versions, was far more anodyne than the facts warranted.)

Key IC agencies made two arguments in 2003 against the possibility of a clandestine Syrian nuclear weapons program. First, they argued that Syria lacked the scientific and technological capabilities to sustain such a program. Second, they said that Syria did not have the necessary economic resources to fund a program.

These assertions were not based on highly classified intelligence. Instead, they were personal views that some IC members developed based on public information. The intelligence that did exist -- which I thought warranted close observation of Syria, at a minimum -- the IC discounted as inconsistent with its fixed opinions. In short, theirs was not an intelligence conclusion, but a policy view presented under the guise of intelligence.

How wrong they were.

As for Syria's technical expertise, North Korea obviously had the scientific and technological ability to construct the reactor, which was essentially a clone of the North's own at Yongbyon. Moreover, it is entirely possible that Syria's nuclear program -- undertaken with Pyongyang's assistance -- is even more extensive. We will certainly never know from Syria directly, since Damascus continues to deny it has any nuclear program whatever. It's also stonewalling investigation efforts by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

As for Syria's ability to finance a nuclear program, Iran could easily supply whatever Syria might need -- even in a time of fluctuating oil prices. Moreover, given Iran's hegemony over Syria, it is impossible to believe Syria would ever undertake extensive nuclear cooperation with North Korea without Iran's acquiescence. Iran was likely an active partner in a three-way joint venture on the reactor, supplying key financial support and its own share of scientific knowledge. Cooperation on ballistic missile programs between Pyongyang and Tehran is longstanding and well-advanced, and thereby forms a basis of trust for nuclear cooperation. Moreover, both Iran and North Korea share a common incentive: to conceal illicit nuclear weapons programs from international scrutiny. What better way to hide such programs than to conduct them in a third country where no one is looking?

Uncovering the North Korean reactor in Syria was a grave inconvenience for the Bush administration. It enormously complicated both the failing six-party talks on North Korea and the EU-3's diplomatic efforts with Iran, which Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice so actively supported.

Mr. Asghari's revelations about Iranian financing of Syria's nuclear program -- if borne out -- will have precisely the same negative impact on Obama administration policies, since they track Mr. Bush's so closely. In fact, the two administrations' approaches differ only to the extent that Mr. Obama is poised to pursue policies, like face-to-face negotiations with Iran, that the second term Bush State Department wanted to do, but faced too much internal dissonance to implement.

The Nowruz video reflects the dominant view within the Obama administration that its "open hand" will be reciprocated. It's likely Iran will respond affirmatively to the near-plaintive administration request to "engage."

And why not? Such dialogue allows Iran to conceal its true intentions and activities under the camouflage of negotiations, just as it has done for the past six years with the EU-3. What's more, Iran will see it as confirmation of U.S. weakness and evidence that its policies are succeeding.

There is very little time for Mr. Obama to change course before he is committed to negotiations. He could start by following Iran's money trail.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations" (Simon & Schuster, 2007).

27304  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Quotes of note: on: March 21, 2009, 01:10:09 AM
"Separation of economics and State"  Ayn Rand
27305  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The Haqqani Network on: March 21, 2009, 01:07:24 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The Haqqani Network and Negotiations With Afghan Jihadists
March 20, 2009

A report in the Christian Science Monitor on Thursday said that Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government has begun preliminary negotiations with a key jihadist faction, the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network. According to the report, Kabul’s emissaries met with representatives of Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani, who have agreed in principle to steps toward an ultimate political settlement. The first stage of the roadmap entails a halt to U.S. military raids on the group’s facilities and the release of its prisoners — provided the group stops burning schools and targeting reconstruction teams. If these initial conditions are met, the next stages involve working on a new system of government for Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces.

Though this development is in line with U.S. efforts to explore options for a political settlement in Afghanistan, it is strange in that the last time the Haqqani network made headlines, it was in September 2008 — when U.S. drones launched missiles at Haqqani’s residential compound in Pakistan’s tribal belt. Some two dozen members of his family were killed, although Haqqani and his sons survived the attack. The air strike occurred a little over two months after the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, which senior U.S. military and intelligence officials believed was the work of the Haqqani network acting in concert with officials from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.

Therefore, before examining the pros and cons of negotiating with the Haqqani network, it is important to understand the network’s place in the jihadist landscape and its relationship with Pakistan’s security establishment. Although it is part of the Afghan Taliban movement, the Haqqani network has maintained distinct autonomy. It is closely allied with al Qaeda and is responsible for the bulk of suicide bombings in Afghanistan.

With its zone of operations in the eastern Afghan provinces along the border with Pakistan, Haqqani’s group wields disproportionate influence among Taliban forces on both sides of the Durand Line. Haqqani’s eldest son, Sirajuddin — who now runs the group because of his father’s advanced age — has been involved in persuading Pakistani Taliban forces to end their attacks inside Pakistan and focus on fighting Western forces in Afghanistan. At a time when Pakistan faces a growing Pashtun jihadist insurgency, the Haqqani network is one of the Taliban factions with which Islamabad retains considerable influence.

In other words, the Haqqani network is well positioned between al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Pakistan. This has implications for any move to negotiate with jihadist insurgents, especially since the U.S. objective is to drive a wedge between Afghan jihadists (the Taliban) and the transnational jihadists of al Qaeda. Haqqani is a critical player in the insurgency, and engaging him in negotiations could help to achieve that objective and undercut the insurgencies in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Conversely, al Qaeda’s leadership also could use its relationship with the Haqqani network, which dates back approximately 20 years, to counter the campaign against the transnational jihadists.

The case of the Haqqani network underscores the excruciatingly complex and difficult task that the Obama administration faces in its efforts to seek a negotiated settlement of the insurgency in Afghanistan.

27306  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizens defend themselves/others. on: March 21, 2009, 01:05:08 AM
Please keep us informed on development's in your ex-BiL's case Dog Tom.
27307  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: March 21, 2009, 01:04:10 AM
Thank you for the inspiration Scurvy Dog!  cool
27308  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: March 21, 2009, 01:03:04 AM
Nice find.  No I haven't.  I note that there is something quite similar in Peru.
27309  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Arte marcial en Mexico y cosas semajantes on: March 21, 2009, 01:00:40 AM

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8kxox_big-mexican-punchup_sport
27310  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Posse Comitatus Act on: March 21, 2009, 12:49:49 AM
GM:

Thank you for a serious piece on this important subject.

Marc
27311  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: March 20, 2009, 10:45:04 PM
A tragically plausible hypothesis.  Safe us buying/reading the book.  What does it say?
27312  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Class at Inosanto Academy on: March 20, 2009, 03:50:59 PM
Thanks to Frankfurter and to Stephen Cho for filling in for me the last two weeks.

Looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow.
27313  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Posse Comitatus Act on: March 20, 2009, 03:33:30 PM
http://cnsnews.com/public/content/ar...x?RsrcID=45206

Army Investigating How and Why Troops Were Sent Into Alabama Town After Murder Spree
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
By Pete Winn, Senior Writer/Editor




(CNSNews.com) - The U.S. Army has launched an inquiry into how and why active duty troops from Fort Rucker, Ala., came to be placed on the streets of Samson, Ala., during last week's murder spree in that tiny South Alabama community. The use of the troops was a possible violation of federal law.

“On March 10, after a report of an apparent mass murder in Samson, Ala., 22 military police soldiers from Fort Rucker, Ala., along with the provost marshal, were sent to the city of Samson,” Harvey Perritt, spokesman for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) at Fort Monroe, Va., told CNSNews.com on Monday.

“The purpose for sending the military police, the authority for doing so, and what duties they performed is the subject of an ongoing commander’s inquiry--directed by the commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Gen. Martin Dempsey.”

TRADOC is the headquarters command for Ft. Rucker.

“In addition to determining the facts, this inquiry will also determine whether law, regulation and policy were followed,” Perritt added. “Until those facts are determined, it would be inappropriate to speculate or comment further.”

Jim Stromenger, a dispatcher at the Samson Police Department, confirmed the MP’s presence in the town, telling CNSNews.com that the troops “came in to help with traffic control and to secure the crime scene”--and the department was glad for the help.

“We’ve been getting a lot of calls,” Stromenger said. “They weren’t here to police, let me make that clear. They were here to help with traffic and to control the crime scene--so people wouldn’t trample all over (it).”

Stromenger said the town needed help--calls had gone out to all police departments in the area.

“We only have a five-man police department,” he told CNSNews.com. “We had officers from all surrounding areas helping out. There were a lot of streets to be blocked off and there had to be someone physically there to block them off. That’s what these MPs were doing. I don’t think they were even armed. The troops helped keep nosy people away.”

But Stromenger said it wasn’t the Samson Police Department that called for the troops.

“I don’t know who called Fort Rucker. But someone did. They wouldn’t have been able to come if someone hadn’t,” he added.

Under Whose Authority?

The troops were apparently not deployed by the request of Alabama Gov. Bob Riley -- or by the request of President Obama, as required by law.

When contacted by CNSNews.com, the governor’s office could not confirm that the governor had requested help from the Army, and Gov. Riley's spokesman, Todd Stacy, expressed surprise when he was told that troops had been sent to the town.

No request from President Obama, meanwhile, was issued by the White House--or the Defense Department.

Wrongful use of federal troops inside U.S. borders is a violation of several federal laws, including one known as the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, Title 18, Section 1385 of the U.S. Code.

“Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both,” the law states.

David Rittgers, legal policy analyst at the Cato Institute, said there are other laws barring use of federal troops outside of federal property, as well.

“Title 18, Section 375 of the U.S. Code is a direct restriction on military personnel, and it basically precludes any member of the army in participating in a ‘search, seizure, arrest or other similar activity, unless participation is otherwise authorized by law,’  The security of a crime scene is something I think that would roll up in the category of a ‘search, seizure or other activity,’” Rittgers added.

In addition, there is the Insurrection Act of 1808, as amended in 2007, (Title 10, Section 331 of the U.S. Code) under which the president can authorize troops “to restore order and enforce the laws of the United States” in an insurrection.

“Whenever there is an insurrection in any State against its government, the President may, upon the request of its legislature or of its governor if the legislature cannot be convened, call into federal service such of the militia of the other States, in the number requested by that State, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to suppress the insurrection,” the law states.

In 2007, Congress expanded the list to include “natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition” as situations for which the president can authorize troops, provided that “domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the state or possession are incapable of maintaining public order.”

Congress has been clear that the use of U.S. troops for civilian police purposes is forbidden.

“One of the statutes explicitly says that military brigs can’t even be used to detain domestic criminals,” Rittgers said. “It really is supposed to be a black and white line.”

The U.S. Department of Justice, meanwhile, would have prosecuting authority, if any violation is deemed to have occurred. The Justice Department did not comment for this story.

Ft. Rucker, located in Southern Alabama, is the home of Army Aviation.
27314  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: March 20, 2009, 03:32:09 PM
And the solution is , , ,
27315  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Posse Comitatus Act on: March 20, 2009, 03:27:04 PM
A new thread for an issue likely to become quite important:

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


U.S. Army Puts Soldiers on the Street in Alabama in Response to Shootings

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

U.S. Army Puts Soldiers on the Street in Alabama in Response to Shootings


March 11, 2009

The U.S. Army dispatched soldiers to patrol the streets of Samson, Alabama, a small southern town where a rampaging gunman killed 10 people on Tuesday. This obvious violation of the Posse Comitatus Act prohibiting the federal uniformed services from exercising state and local law enforcement was completely ignored by the corporate media with the exception of Reuters and the London Telegraph (see photo and video).






From Reuters: “U.S. Army soldiers from Ft. Rucker patrol the downtown area of Samson, Alabama after a shooting spree March 10, 2009.”


On September 30, 2008, the Army Times reported the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, a component of Northern Command, would be “on-call” in response to “natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.” The Army Times article reported the military would be used for “crowd and traffic control” and be issued “nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.” According to the article, “expectations are that another, as yet unnamed, active-duty brigade will take over and that the mission will be a permanent one..” (Emphasis added.)

In early 2006, the 109th Congress passed a bill containing controversial provisions granting the president the ability to use federal troops inside the United States in emergency situations. These changes (in Section 1076) were included in the John Warner Defense Appropriation Act for Fiscal Year 2007.



In 2008, Congress restored many of the earlier limitations on the president’s ability to deploy troops within the United States, but Bush issued a signing statement indicating he was not bound by the changes.

“The story of how Section 1076 became law vivifies how expanding government power is almost always the correct answer in Washington,” James Bovard wrote for the American Conservative on April 23, 2007. “Some people have claimed the provision was slipped into the bill in the middle of the night. In reality, the administration clearly signaled its intent and almost no one in the media or Congress tried to stop it.”

The dispatch of troops to Alabama in response to a local law enforcement situation represents a further erosion of Posse Comitatus and the continued federalization of state and local law enforcement.

A Telegraph video on the shootings in Alabama propagandizes against the right to own
firearms in the United States and the Second Amendment.

Finally, the corporate media in Britain has exploited the situation in an effort to denigrate the Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights. In a transparent propaganda piece (see video above), the Telegraph states that “mass shootings have become a feature of life in the U.S. in recent years. Guns are widely available for purchase in a country that prides itself on the right to own weapons for self defense and hunting.” Britain has some of the most restrictive gun legislation in the world.

After Britain’s government banned guns in 1997, the rate of violent crime more than doubled. “A recent study of all the countries of western Europe has found that in 2001 Britain had the worst record for killings, violence and burglary, and its citizens had one of the highest risks in the industrialized world of becoming victims of crime,” historian Joyce Lee Malcolm wrote for the fall 2004 issue of Journal on Firearms & Public Policy.



http://news.yahoo.com/nphotos/slides...719956714.jpg/

http://www.bild.de/BILD/news/bild-en...-massacre.html


http://www.infowars.com/us-army-puts...-to-shootings/
27316  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran financed Syrian nuke plans on: March 20, 2009, 03:16:14 PM
Report: Iran financed Syrian nuke plans
Tip from defector said to lead to Israeli strike on suspected reactor in '07
The Associated Press
updated 12:29 p.m. PT, Thurs., March. 19, 2009
GENEVA - A top-ranked Iranian defector told the United States that Iran was financing North Korean moves to make Syria into a nuclear weapons power, leading to the Israeli air strike that destroyed a suspected secret reactor, a report said Thursday.

The article in the daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung goes into detail about an Iranian connection and fills in gaps about Israel's Sept. 6, 2007, raid that knocked out Syria's nearly completed Al Kabir reactor in the country's eastern desert.

Ali Reza Asghari, a retired general in Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards and a former deputy defense minister, "changed sides" in February 2007 and provided considerable information to the West on Iran's own nuclear program, said the article, written by Hans Ruehle, former chief of the planning staff of the German Defense Ministry.

"The biggest surprise, however, was his assertion that Iran was financing a secret nuclear project of Syria and North Korea," he said. "No one in the American intelligence scene had heard anything of it. And the Israelis who were immediately informed also were completely unaware."

Ruehle, who did not identify the sources of his information, publishes and comments on security and nuclear proliferation in different European newspapers and broadcasts and has held prominent roles in German and NATO institutions.

U.S. intelligence had detected North Korean ship deliveries of construction supplies to Syria that started in 2002, and American satellites spotted the construction as early as 2003, but regarded the work as nothing unusual, in part because the Syrians had banned radio and telephones from the site and handled communications solely by messengers — "medieval but effective," Ruehle said.

Ship intercepted
Intensive investigation followed by U.S. and Israeli intelligence services until Israel sent a 12-man commando unit in two helicopters to the site in August 2007 to take photographs and soil samples, he said.

"The analysis was conclusive that it was a North Korean-type reactor," a gas graphite model, Ruehle said.

Other sources have suggested that the reactor might have been large enough to make about one nuclear weapon's worth of plutonium a year.

Just before the Israeli commando raid, a North Korean ship was intercepted en route to Syria with nuclear fuel rods, underscoring the need for fast action, he said.

"On the morning of Sept. 6, 2007, seven Israeli F-15 fighter bombers took off to the north. They flew along the Mediterranean coast, brushed past Turkey and pressed on into Syria. Fifty kilometers from their target they fired 22 rockets at the three identified objects inside the Kibar complex.

"The Syrians were completely surprised. By the time their air defense systems were ready, the Israeli planes were well out of range. The mission was successful, the reactor destroyed," Ruehle said.

No comment from Israel
Israel estimates that Iran had paid North Korea between $1 billion and $2 billion for the project, Ruehle said.

Israel has refused from the beginning to comment on, confirm or deny the strike, but after a delay of several months Washington presented intelligence purporting to show the target was a reactor being built with North Korean help.

Iranian officials were not available for comment because of a national holiday. In general, Iran has been silent about the Syrian facility bombed by Israel. Syrian officials could not be reached for comment. But Syria has denied the facility was a nuclear plant, saying it was an unused military building. It has also denied any nuclear cooperation with North Korea or Iran.

The International Atomic Energy Agency earlier this year said U.N. inspectors had found processed uranium traces in samples taken from the site.

Syria has suggested the traces came from Israel ordnance used to hit the site, but the IAEA said the composition of the uranium made that unlikely. Israel has denied it was the source of the uranium.

Syria has told diplomats that it built a missile facility over the ruins of the site.
27317  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Curtescine Lloyd takes matters in hand on: March 20, 2009, 01:12:45 PM
Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Matters in Hand


News article by Mike Royko for the Chicago Tribune

We've had the year of the woman and it is still going on, with females being elected to high office and named to the Cabinet posts, and the power of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
But what about Curtescine Lloyd? You never heard of her? Well, she is my choice as one of the most amazing and heroic women of recent years. Ms. Lloyd is a middle-aged nurse who lives with an elderly aunt in the rural hamlet of Edwards, Miss., near Jackson This is her story, most of it taken from the court transcript.

One night, Ms. Lloyd was awakened by a sound. She thought it was her aunt going to the bathroom. Suddenly a man stepped into her bedroom. Terrified, she sat up. He shoved her back down and said: "Bitch, you better not turn on a light. You holler, you're dead. You better not breathe loud." He declared his intentions, which were to rob her and to commit sexual assault. Of course, he phrased it far more luridly. He then took off most of his clothing and jumped into bed.

Here is what happened next, according to court records: Ms. Lloyd: "I got it. I grabbed it by my right hand. And then I grabbed it, I gave it a yank. And when I yanked it, I twisted all at the same time." (Need I explain what Ms. Lloyd meant by "it"? I think not.) "He hit me with his right hand a hard blow beside the head, and when he hit me I grabbed hold of his scrotum with my left hand and I was twisting it the opposite way. He started to yell and we fell to the floor and he hit me a couple more licks, but they were light licks. He was weakening some then." With Ms. Lloyd still hanging on with both hands, squeezing and twisting the fellow's pride and joy, they somehow struggled into the hallway.
"He was trying to get out, and I'm hanging onto him; and he was throwing me from one side of the hall wall to the other. I was afraid if I let him go, he was going go kill me" "So I was determined I was not going to turn it loose. So we were going down the hallway, falling form one side to the other, and we got into the living room and we both fell. He brought me down in front of the couch and he leaned back against the couch, pleading with me." "I said, 'Do you think I'm stupid enough to turn you loose and call the police?' He said, 'Well, what am I gonna do?' I said, 'You're gonna get the hell out of my house.' He said, 'How can I get out of your house if you won't let me go? How can I get out? I can't get out.' "
Ms. Lloyd, still twisting and squeezing, dragged the lout to the front door, which had two locks, and told him to unbolt them. It was a difficult process because he kept collapsing to the floor and she kept hauling him back to his feet. Ms. Lloyd, now confident that she had the upper hand (or should I say the lower hands?) and a full grasp of the situation, said: "When I turn you loose, I'm going to get my gun and I'm going to blow your (obscenity) brains out, you nasty stinking, low-down dirty piece of (obscenity), you."
"And when I did that, I gave it a twist, and I turned him loose. And he took a couple of steps and fell off the steps and he jumped up and grabbed his private parts and made a couple of jumps across the back of my aunt's car." "And I ran into my aunt's room, got her pistol from underneath the nightstand, ran back to the screen door and I fired two shots down the hill the way I saw him go. And then I ran back into the house and dialed 911."

The police came and examined the man's clothing. Inside the trousers was written the name Dwight Coverson. They found Coversion, 29, at home, in considerable pain and wondering if he could ever be a daddy. A one-day jury trial was held. As coverson's court-appointed lawyer put it: "The jury was out 10 minutes. Long enough or two of them to go to the bathroom." And the judge gave him 25 years in prison.
27318  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / McCain-Lieberman call for victory on: March 20, 2009, 12:43:15 PM
Our Must-Win War
The 'Minimalist' Path Is Wrong for Afghanistan

U.S. soldiers on patrol this month outside Bagram, Afghanistan. (By Rafiq Maqbool -- Associated Press)
TOOLBOX
 Resize Print E-mail Yahoo! BuzzSave/Share + DiggNewsvinedel.icio.usStumble It!RedditFacebookmyspaceNewsTrust
COMMENT
washingtonpost.com readers have posted 381 comments about this item.
View All Comments »

POST A COMMENT
You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register
 Why Do I Have to Log In Again?
Log In Again? CLOSEWe've made some updates to washingtonpost.com's Groups, MyPost and comment pages. We need you to verify your MyPost ID by logging in before you can post to the new pages. We apologize for the inconvenience.



 Discussion PolicyYour browser's settings may be preventing you from commenting on and viewing comments about this item. See instructions for fixing the problem.
Discussion Policy CLOSEComments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

Who's Blogging» Links to this article 
By John McCain and Joseph Lieberman
Thursday, March 19, 2009; Page A15

Later this month, the Obama administration will unveil a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan. This comes as most important indicators in Afghanistan are pointing in the wrong direction. President Obama's decision last month to deploy an additional 17,000 U.S. troops was an important step in the right direction, but a comprehensive overhaul of our war plan is needed, and quickly.

This Story
Our Must-Win War
Civilians to Join Afghan Buildup
Getting It Right in Afghanistan
As the administration finalizes its policy review, we are troubled by calls in some quarters for the president to adopt a "minimalist" approach toward Afghanistan. Supporters of this course caution that the American people are tired of war and that an ambitious, long-term commitment to Afghanistan may be politically unfeasible. They warn that Afghanistan has always been a "graveyard of empires" and has never been governable. Instead, they suggest, we can protect our vital national interests in Afghanistan even while lowering our objectives and accepting more "realistic" goals there -- for instance, by scaling back our long-term commitment to helping the Afghan people build a better future in favor of a short-term focus on fighting terrorists.

The political allure of such a reductionist approach is obvious. But it is also dangerously and fundamentally wrong, and the president should unambiguously reject it. Let there be no doubt: The war in Afghanistan can be won. Success -- a stable, secure, self-governing Afghanistan that is not a terrorist sanctuary -- can be achieved. Just as in Iraq, there is no shortcut to success, no clever "middle way" that allows us to achieve more by doing less. A minimalist approach in Afghanistan is a recipe not for winning smarter but for losing slowly at tremendous cost in American lives, treasure and security.


Yes, our vital national interest in Afghanistan is to prevent it from once again becoming a haven for terrorists to plan attacks against America and U.S. allies. But achieving this narrow counterterrorism objective requires us to carry out a far broader set of tasks, the foremost of which are protecting the population, nurturing legitimate and effective governance, and fostering development. In short, we need a comprehensive civil-military counterinsurgency approach backed by greatly increased resources and an unambiguous U.S. political commitment to success in Afghanistan over the long haul.

A narrow, short-term focus on counterterrorism, by contrast, would repeat the mistakes made for years in Iraq before the troop surge, with the same catastrophic consequences. Before 2007 in Iraq, U.S. Special Forces had complete freedom of action to strike at terrorist leaders, backed by more than 120,000 conventional American forces and overwhelming air power. Although we succeeded in killing countless terrorists -- including the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- the insurgency continued to grow in strength and violence. It was not until we changed course and applied a new approach -- a counterinsurgency strategy focused on providing basic security for the people and improving their lives -- that the cycle of violence was at last broken.

Those who argue for simply conducting targeted counterterrorist strikes in Afghanistan also fail to grasp that by far the best way to generate the intelligence necessary for such strikes is from Afghan civilians, who will risk their lives to help us only if they believe we are committed to staying and protecting them from the insurgents and helping to improve their lives.

Loose rhetoric about a minimal commitment in Afghanistan is counterproductive for another reason: It exacerbates suspicions, already widespread in South Asia, that the United States will tire of this war and retreat. These doubts about our staying power deter ordinary Afghans from siding with our coalition against the insurgency. Also important is that these suspicions are a major reason some in Pakistan are reluctant to break decisively with insurgent groups, which, in a hedging strategy, they view as integral to positioning Pakistan for influence "the day after" the United States gives up and leaves Afghanistan. That is why it is so important for the president to reject the temptations of minimalism in Afghanistan and instead adopt a fully resourced, comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy, backed by an unambiguous American commitment to success over the long term. In doing so, he must invest the political capital to remind Americans why this fight is necessary for our national security, speak openly and frankly to our nation about the difficult path ahead, and -- most of all -- explain clearly to our fellow citizens why he is confident that we can prevail.

As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama called Afghanistan "the war we must win." He was absolutely right. Now it is time to win it -- and we and many other members of both political parties stand ready to give him our full support in this crucial fight.

John McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona, was the 2008 Republican nominee for president. Joe Lieberman, an Independent Democratic senator from Connecticut, was the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2000.
27319  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: March 20, 2009, 12:38:45 PM
Turkey, U.S.: Strengthening Ties as Ankara Rises
STRATFOR Today » March 19, 2009 | 1837 GMT

ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoganSummary
U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Turkey on April 6-7 and meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The United States and Turkey have many areas of mutual interest, including Iraq, Middle Eastern diplomatic efforts, Iran and Central Asia. Obama’s visit indicates that his administration recognizes Turkey’s growing prominence, and it gives the United States a chance to coordinate policy with a rising power.

Analysis
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed late March 18 that U.S. President Barack Obama will be visiting Turkey on April 6-7. In an interview with Turkish news channel Kanal 7, Erdogan said he had invited Obama to attend a meeting of the Alliance of Civilizations initiative in Istanbul on April 7, but “did not expect” Obama to arrive a day early for an official state visit to Ankara. “Combining the two occasions is very meaningful for us,” he added. Obama’s trip to Turkey will follow a visit to London for the G-20 summit on the global financial crisis, a NATO summit in Strasbourg, France, and a trip to Prague to meet with EU leaders.

Obama’s decision to visit Turkey this early in the game highlights his administration’s recognition of Turkey’s growing prominence in the region. The Turks have woken up after 90 years of post-Ottoman hibernation and are in the process of rediscovering a sphere of influence extending far beyond the Anatolian Peninsula. The Americans, on the other hand, are in the process of drawing down their presence in the Middle East in order to free up U.S. military capabilities to address pressing needs in Afghanistan. With the Turks stepping forward and the Americans stepping back, there are a number of issues of common interest that Obama and Erdogan will need to discuss.

The first order of business is Iraq. The United States is putting its exit strategy into motion and is looking to Turkey to serve as an exit route for U.S. troops and equipment from Iraq. The Turks would not have a problem with granting the United States such access, but they also want to make sure that U.S. withdrawal plans will not interfere with Turkey’s intentions of keeping Iraqi Kurdistan in check. With key Kurdish leader and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani retiring soon and Kurdish demands over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk intensifying, the Turks want to make clear to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq that Ankara promptly will shut down any attempts to expand Kurdish autonomy. Turkey will not hesitate to use the issue of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters hiding out in northern Iraq as a pretext for future military incursions should the need arise to pressure the KRG in a more forceful way, but such tactics could run into complications if the United States intends to withdraw the bulk of its forces through northern Iraq. Therefore, the decision on where to base U.S. troops during the withdrawal process will be a political one, and one that will have to address Turkish concerns over the Kurds. Washington likely will see this as a reasonable price to pay, as it has other problems to handle.

Related Special Topic Page
Turkey’s Re-Emergence
Beyond Iraq, the United States is looking to Turkey as the Muslim regional heavyweight to take the lead in handling some of the knottier issues in the Middle East. The Israeli-Syrian peace talks that went public in 2008 were a Turkish initiative. These negotiations are now in limbo, with the Israelis still working to form a new government, but the Turks are looking to revive them in the near future. Turkey, Israel, the United States and the Arab states all share an interest in bringing Syria into a Western alliance structure, with the aim of depriving Iran of its leverage in the Levant. However, the Syrians are setting an equally high price for their cooperation: Syrian domination over Lebanon. These negotiations are packed with potential deal breakers, but Turkey intends to take on the challenge in the interest of securing its southern flank.

Iran is another critical area where the United States and Turkey see eye to eye. The fall of Saddam Hussein and the rise of the Shia in Iraq have given Iran a platform for projecting influence in the Arab world. But the Turks far outpace the Iranians in a geopolitical contest and will be instrumental in keeping Iranian expansionist goals in check. Erdogan’s outburst over Israel’s Gaza offensive was just one of many ways Turkey has been working to assert its regional leadership, build up its credibility among Sunnis in the Arab world and override Iranian attempts to reach beyond its borders. At the same time, the Turks carry weight with the Iranians, who view Turkey as a fellow great empire of the past and non-Arab partner in the Middle East. Washington may not necessarily need the Turks to mediate in its rocky negotiations with Iran, but it will rely heavily on Turkish clout in the region to help put the Iranians in their place.

Some problems may arise, however, when U.S.-Turkish talks venture beyond the Middle East and enter areas where the Turkish and Russian spheres of influence overlap. Turkey’s influence extends into Central Asia and deep into the Caucasus, where the Turks have a strong foothold in Azerbaijan and ties to Georgia, and are in the process of patching things up with the Armenians. As the land bridge between Europe and Asia, Turkey is also the key non-Russian energy transit hub for the European market, and through its control of the Bosporus, it is the gatekeeper to the Black Sea. In each of these areas, the Turks bump into the Russians, another resurgent power that is on a tight timetable for extracting key concessions from the United States on a range of issues that revolve around Russia’s core imperative of protecting its former Soviet periphery from Western meddling.

The U.S. administration and the Kremlin have been involved in intense negotiations over these demands. Washington is still sorting out which concessions it can make in return for Russian cooperation in allowing the United States access to Central Asia for supply routes to Afghanistan, and in applying pressure on Iran. As part of these negotiations, Obama will be meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev at the G-20 summit and later in the summer in Moscow. Though it is still unclear just how much the United States is willing to give the Russians at this juncture — and how flexible the Turks will be in challenging Russia — Washington wants to make sure its allies, like Turkey, are on the same page.

But as STRATFOR has discussed in depth, Russia and Turkey now have more reason to cooperate than collide, and recent diplomatic traffic between Moscow and Ankara certainly reflects this reality. In areas where the United States will want to apply pressure on Russia, such as on energy security for the Europeans, the Turks likely will resist rocking the boat with Moscow. The last thing Turkey wants at this point is to give Russia a reason to politicize its trade relationship with Ankara, cause trouble for the Turks in the Caucasus or meddle in Turkey’s Middle Eastern backyard. In short, there are real limits to what the United States can expect from Turkey in its strategy against Russia.

Obama and Erdogan evidently will have plenty to talk about when they meet in Ankara. Though the United States and Turkey have much to sort out regarding Iraq, Syria, Iran and Russia, this visit will give Obama the stage to formally recognize Turkey’s regional prowess and demonstrate a U.S. understanding of Turkey’s growing independence. Washington can see that the Turks are already brimming with confidence in conducting their regional affairs, and can expect some bumps down the road when interests collide. But the sooner the Americans can start coordinating policy with a resurgent power like Turkey, the better equipped Washington will be for conducting negotiations in other parts of the globe.
27320  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: March 20, 2009, 12:26:31 PM
Three civilians — including one Norwegian tourist — were wounded March 19 in Taxco, Mexico, as two men armed with assault rifles abducted an unidentified man near the city’s main plaza. During the kidnapping, which occurred near a Red Cross fundraising event, the gunmen fired indiscriminately into the air and in the direction of the crowd, presumably to force them to scatter so the gunmen could drive away. Two of the three wounded civilians apparently had been struck directly by bullets or ricochets, while the third appeared to have injured her leg while escaping from the kidnappers’ vehicle as it drove off. Such scenes have become commonplace in Mexico over the last few years, and collateral damage is really nothing new. This incident in Taxco, however, highlights the risks associated with foreign tourists visiting Mexico as it experiences a deteriorating security situation.

STRATFOR has warned of the violent situation in Mexico and the risk of foreign tourists getting caught in the crossfire. The perpetrators behind the March 19 incident certainly were not targeting foreigners specifically; their target appears to have been a local man outside a nearby silver retailer, possibly an employee. While there is always the chance that the man was somehow involved in drug trafficking and was targeted for failure to pay a debt or for working for a rival cartel, it is also possible that he was simply one of the thousands of victims picked up annually by Mexico’s many kidnapping gangs.

But the rampant violence carried out by gangs of all professional levels is exactly the kind of threat foreigners can fall victim to. The incident on March 19 is reminiscent of a similar one in that occurred in February 2007, when a Canadian couple was injured in Acapulco as gunmen opened fire on a man walking near the hotel where the couple was staying. Injuring foreign tourists raises the international profile of Mexico’s violent drug war and rampant kidnapping problem, as the problem rises above the level of just gang-on-gang violence or “those who had it coming to them.” The negative publicity is bad for both the government and the country’s organized crime groups. This incident, however, underscores the potential for foreigners to unintentionally get caught in the crossfire during the daily violence that occurs throughout the entire country.
27321  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sgt Malone on: March 20, 2009, 12:20:35 PM
Profiles of Valor: U.S. Army Sgt. Malone
 
Malone
United States Army Sergeant First Class Ed Malone was serving with the 3rd Platoon, Grim Troop, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in 2005 and was conducting a joint combat patrol with the Iraqi Army in the extremely hostile Surai district of Tal'Afar, when the unit was attacked. Without immediate direct fire support from his Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Malone ordered his men to take a defensive position and return fire. He directed his grenadier to eliminate several enemy targets firing from a rooftop. Malone also repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire -- once to retrieve important equipment, another time to evacuate women and children caught in the crossfire, and finally to drag a wounded soldier out of the line of fire. His actions sped medical treatment and evacuation, saving the soldier's life. Malone refused to give ground until reinforcements arrived, and he and his unit held their position for more than an hour. He led a three-man team to clear a courtyard of enemy fighters, relieving pressure on his unit. There, while administering aid to an enemy combatant, Malone was shot in the foot. For his brave actions that day, Malone was awarded the Bronze Star with combat "V" for valor.
27322  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / S. Adams; Hamilton on: March 20, 2009, 11:59:38 AM
"Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust must be men of unexceptionable characters." --Samuel Adams

 
"A fondness for power is implanted, in most men, and it is natural to abuse it, when acquired."

--Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, 23 February 1775
 
27323  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Case dismissed on: March 20, 2009, 11:58:05 AM
By JOEL MILLMAN
An Arizona court on Wednesday dismissed the case against a gun-store owner accused of looking the other way while front men purchased weapons to deliver to Mexico's drug cartels.

The trial, which began earlier this month, had been heralded as an example of U.S. authorities working to stanch the flow of weapons to Mexico, where a recent war among drug gangs is believed to have killed more than 6,000 people.

At the heart of the case was the X-Caliber gun store, where prosecutors alleged more than 700 high-powered rifles were sold to purchasers whom the owner, 47-year-old George Iknadosian, should have known were acting as so-called straw buyers for Mexican customers. Sales of most weapons to non-U.S. citizens north of the border are severely constrained, as is gun possession by civilians in Mexico.

To get around those restrictions, Arizona officials alleged, Mr. Iknadosian allowed Arizonans with clean criminal records to buy weapons they would resell in Mexico, first by falsifying forms attesting that the firearms were for the purchasers' personal use. Witnesses in the case included several of these alleged straw buyers, who have pleaded guilty to charges that bring a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment.

Yet in dismissing the 21 counts against Mr. Iknadosian, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Gottsfield ruled that the evidence prosecutors presented wasn't "material," and therefore didn't support charges against the defendant.

"The state's case is based upon testimony of individuals who [alleged]...that they were the actual purchaser of the firearms when they were not," Judge Gottsfield wrote. He then indicated that such testimony, by itself, failed to establish that any additional unlawful conduct transpired.

"There is no proof whatsoever that any prohibited possessor ended up with the firearm," the judge said.

To be considered "material," he explained, testimony about falsifying government forms must further demonstrate that the act "resulted in an unlawful person ending up with the guns, which has not been proven."

View Full Image

Associated Press
George Iknadosian's closed shop, X-Caliber Guns in Phoenix, was deserted in January.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, briefing reporters at the agency's Washington headquarters Wednesday, declined to comment on the ruling.

State and federal authorities, including a task force supervised by the Phoenix office of the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, worked for 11 months with local police building a case against X-Caliber. According to law-enforcement officials in Phoenix, the investigation included sending undercover agents posing as buyers to Mr. Iknadosian's shop, where agents not only purchased weapons, but boasted of plans to resell them in Mexico.

Authorities also relentlessly publicized the link between X-Caliber and Mexican drug cartels by claiming weapons purchased in Mr. Iknadosian's store had been recovered at Mexican crime scenes. One special weapon -- a handgun inlaid with $35,000 worth of diamonds -- purportedly was captured late last year after the assassination of a top Mexican policeman.

"We are all taking this pretty hard," said Anne Hilby, spokeswoman for Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard. Mr. Goddard released a statement disagreeing with Judge Gottsfield's analysis of the case, adding, "We are reviewing the ruling to determine how best to respond."

Messages left for Mr. Iknadosian's attorney and at the defendant's home weren't returned.

Write to Joel Millman at joel.millman@wsj.com
27324  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / States' Rights on: March 20, 2009, 11:57:21 AM
BTW I would like to note my approval of the BO Administration's decision to respect States' right to decriminalize pot.
27325  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: on: March 20, 2009, 11:49:36 AM
By FOUAD AJAMI
We face today the oddest and most unexpected of spectacles: On its sixth anniversary, the Iraq war has been vindicated, while the war in Afghanistan looks like a hopeless undertaking in an impossible land.

This is not what the opponents of the Iraq war had foreseen. After all, Afghanistan was the good war of necessity whereas Iraq was the war of "choice" in the wrong place.

The Afghan struggle was in truth a rod to be held up in the face of the Bush administration's quest in Iraq. Some months ago, Democratic Party strategist Robert Shrum owned up to this fact. "I was part of the 2004 Kerry campaign which elevated the idea of Afghanistan as the 'right war' to conventional Democratic wisdom. This was accurate as criticism, but also reflexive and perhaps by now even misleading as policy."

 
Getty ImagesThe opponents of the American project in Iraq did not know much about Afghanistan. They despaired of Iraq's sectarianism and ethnic fragmentation, but those pale in comparison with the tribalism and ethnic complications of Afghanistan. If you had your fill with the Kurds and the Sunnis and the Shiites of Iraq, welcome to the warring histories of the Pashtuns, the Uzbeks, the Tajiks, and the Hazara Shiites of Afghanistan.

In their disdain for that Iraq project, the Democrats and the liberal left had insisted that Iraq was an artificial state put together by colonial fiat, and that it was a fool's errand to try to make it whole and intact. Now in Afghanistan, we are in the quintessential world of banditry and tribalism, a political culture that has abhorred and resisted central authority.

Speak of colonial fiat: It was the Pax Britannica that drew the Durand Line of 1892 across the lands of the Pashtuns and marked out a meaningless border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It should have taken no great literacy in the theories and the history of "state-building" to foresee the favorable endowments of Iraq and the built-in disadvantages of Afghanistan.

Man battled the elements in Mesopotamia, and the desert and its ways of plunder and raiding pushed against urban life, but the land gave rise to powerful kingdoms: the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Sumerians, the Abbasids. In more modern times, oil and the central treasury knit the place together, often in terror, but kept it together nonetheless.

Contrast this with Afghanistan's impassable mountains and anarchic ways, and with the poppy cultivation and its culture of warlords and bandits. A Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad can dispense of oil largess and draw the provinces toward the capital; a Hamid Karzai in Kabul is what foreign donors and benefactors make of him and enable him to do.

The flattering cliché that Afghanistan is the "graveyard of empires" is a hollow boast. Empires that wandered there did so by default, for there never was anything in Afghanistan -- save for geography -- that outsiders coveted. It was the primitiveness of the place -- the landscape that evoked the imagined early centuries of Islam's beginnings -- and its age-old way of extracting booty from outsiders that had drawn the Arab jihadists, and their financiers and handlers, to Afghanistan.

Now the Democrats own this Afghan struggle. They have to explain and defend it in the midst of a mood of introversion in our national life. It is hard to sound the trumpet at a time of economic distress. Plainly, our country has been living on its nerves since 9/11. It had not willed an Islamic imperium, but it had gotten one. It was bequeathed this terrible duty by the upheaval in the lands of the Arab-Islamic world, and by the guile and cunning of a generation of jihadists and their enablers, who deflected the wrath of their people onto distant American power.

George W. Bush answered history's call -- as he saw fit. The country gave him its warrant and acceptance, and then withdrew it in the latter years of his presidency. Say what you will about his call to vigilance, he had a coherent worldview. He held the line when the world of Islam was truly in the wind and played upon by ruinous temptations. He took the war on terror into the heart of the Arab world. It was Arabs -- with oil money, and with the prestige that comes with their mastery of Arabic, the language of the Quran, among impressionable Pakistanis and Afghans -- who had made Afghanistan the menace it had become. Without Arab money and Arab doctrines of political Islam, the Taliban would have remained a breed of reactionary seminarians, a terror to their own people but of no concern beyond. It thus made perfect strategic sense to take the fight to the Arab heartland of Islam. Saddam Hussein had drawn the short straw.

President Barack Obama -- another "decider" with an expanded view of the presidency's power -- faces a wholly different challenge. It was the economic distress that delivered the state into his stewardship. A cerebral man, he has presented himself as a "realist" in foreign affairs. Not for him is the Bush "heat" about liberty in distant lands.

By the appearance of things, Mr. Obama is undecided about Afghanistan. He has neither embraced this war, nor ditched it. In a perfect world, that AfPak theater (Afghanistan/Pakistan) would hold still as the administration struggles with AIG, the crisis in Detroit, and the selling of the budget. But the world rarely obliges, and sooner or later the administration will have used up the luxury of indecision. It will not be easy for this president to summon this nation to a bigger endeavor in Afghanistan. Set aside his fear that his domestic agenda could be compromised by a bold undertaking far from home. The foreign world simply does not beckon this president.

In fairness to him, his hesitancy in the face of foreign challenges is a fair reflection of the country's fatigue with causes beyond its borders. He could link Afghanistan with 9/11 and with the wider war on terror, but he put forth the word that the vigilance and zeal of that struggle is best forgotten. By his admonition, we are not to speak of the global war on terror. The world is full of reconcilables and deal-makers, bazaaris one and all in Damascus and Tehran and Palestine. In the Obama worldview, it is now time for diplomatic accommodations.

The president is on the horns of a dilemma of his own making. In his determination to be the "un-Bush," he has declared his intention to repair what some have called "Brand America" and to pursue a nonideological foreign policy of multilateralism and moderation. His aloofness from what played out in Iraq is a hindrance to him when it comes to issuing any call to arms in Afghanistan.

He can't build on the Iraq victory, because he has never really embraced it. The occasional statement that we can win over the reconcilables and the tribes in Afghanistan the way we did in the Anbar is lame and unconvincing. The Anbar turned only when the Sunni insurgents had grown convinced that the Americans were there to stay, and that the alternative to accommodation with the Americans, and with the Baghdad government, is a sure and widespread Sunni defeat. The Taliban are nowhere near this reckoning. If anything, the uncertain mood in Washington counsels patience on their part, with the promise of waiting out the American presence.

Mr. Obama does not have to offer the Iraq campaign post facto vindication. But as he does battle in the same wider theatre of that Greater Middle East, he will have to draw the proper lessons of the Iraq campaign. This Afghan war can't be waged in stealth, and in silence. Half-measures will not do. This war will have to be explained -- or explained away. For it to have any chance, it will have to be claimed and owned up to even in the midst of our economic distress. It's odd that so articulate a president has not yet found the language with which to describe this war, and the American stakes in it.

Mr. Ajami is professor of Middle East Studies at The Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies and an adjunct senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.
27326  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Affirmative action in action? on: March 20, 2009, 11:43:03 AM

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1161/why_women_shouldnt_be_cops/
27327  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fed becomes Treasury's b*tch on: March 20, 2009, 11:11:11 AM
WSJ:

In case there was any residual doubt, the Bernanke Fed threw itself all in this week to unlock financial markets and spur the economy. With its announced plan to make a mammoth purchase of Treasury securities, the Fed essentially said that the considerable risks of future inflation and permanent damage to the Fed's political independence are details that can be put off, or cleaned up, at a later date. Whatever else people will say about his chairmanship, Ben Bernanke does not want deflation or Depression on his resume.

It's important to understand the historic nature of what the Fed is doing. In buying $300 billion worth of long-end Treasurys, it is directly monetizing U.S. government debt. This is what the Federal Reserve did during World War II to finance U.S. government borrowing, before the Fed broke the pattern in a very public spat with the Truman Administration during the Korean War. Now the Bernanke Fed is once again making itself a debt agent of the Treasury, using its balance sheet to finance Congressional spending.

 
Corbis
William McChesney Martin Jr.
It is also monetizing U.S. debt indirectly with the huge expansion of its direct purchase program of mortgage-backed securities (MBS). It was $500 billion, and now it will add $750 billion more "this year." Foreign governments have been getting out of Fannie and Freddie MBSs in recent months and going into Treasurys. Thus the Fed is essentially substituting as these foreign governments finance U.S. debt by buying presumably safer Treasurys.

The purpose of these actions is to keep rates low on both Treasurys and MBSs, and to keep the cost of funds low for banks and especially for home buyers. It worked on Tuesday; long bond and mortgage rates fell.

The case for doing all this is that the Fed needs to supply dollars at a time when money velocity is low and the world demand for dollars is high amid the global recession. As long as the world keeps demanding dollars, the Fed can get away with this extraordinary credit creation. That said, bear in mind that the Fed's balance sheet has more than doubled since September -- to $1.9 trillion from $900 billion. These latest commitments mean it may more than double again, close to $4 trillion. That would be about 30% of GDP, up from about 7%.

The market reaction clearly showed the implied risks, with gold leaping and the dollar taking a dive the past two days. As the economy improves, and thus as the velocity of money increases, the risk of inflation will soar. Mr. Bernanke says the Fed can remove the money fast, but central bankers always say that and rarely do. The Fed statement isn't reassuring on that point. It says, "the Committee sees some risk that inflation could persist for a time below rates that best foster economic growth and price stability in the longer term." The Fed seems to be saying it wants a little inflation, which we know from history can easily become a big inflation or another asset bubble. The last time the Fed cut rates to very low levels to fight "deflation," we ended up with the housing bubble and mortgage mania.

The other great, and less appreciated, danger is political. The Bernanke Fed has now dropped even the pretense of independence and has made itself an agent of the Treasury, which means of politicians. With its many new credit facilities -- the TALF and the others -- it is making credit allocation decisions across the economy. If a business borrower qualifies for one of these facilities, it gets cheaper money. If it doesn't, it's out of luck. Thus the scramble by so many nonbanks to become bank holding companies, so they can tap the Fed's well of cheap credit.

The question is how the Fed will withdraw from all of this unchartered territory now that it has moved into it. How will it wean companies off easy credit, especially since some companies may need it to survive? What happens when Members of Congress lobby the Fed to keep credit loose for auto loans to help Detroit, or credit cards to help Amex? House Speaker Pelosi yesterday gave a taste, saying the AIG bailout was the Fed's idea "without any prior notification to us." Mr. Bernanke, meet your new partners.

Above all, the Treasury and Congress won't be happy if the Fed decides to stop buying Treasurys and the result is a big increase in government borrowing costs. This was the source of the dispute between the Federal Reserve and the Truman Treasury. The Fed wanted to raise rates amid rising inflation, while the Truman Treasury wanted cheap financing for Korea and its domestic priorities. The Fed prevailed in the famous "Accord" of 1951, thanks to a young assistant secretary of the Treasury named William McChesney Martin. He would go on to become Fed Chairman and create the modern era of Fed independence. The U.S. and the Fed are going to need another Martin, sooner rather than later.

Please add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.
27328  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michael Yon on: March 20, 2009, 11:09:47 AM


20 March 2009

Before I lived in Germany and Poland for about six years, the Army taught me German and some Polish.  And so there were countless conversations with older Germans and Poles, and I heard earfuls of stories.  The older Germans were very respectful toward our "Greatest Generation," but pretty much hated the Russians because of their brutality.  The theme nearly always drifted to the very humane treatment we afforded German prisoners, while the Russians killed them off.  We even had German prisoners working on farms, and after the war, many Germans returned and married American women!  But the Poles didn't like the Germans or the Russians because of the very same reasons.  They had been mistreated, but the Poles have great respect for America because we treated them well.  Americans are extremely welcome in Poland, but that place sure is cold.

It is extremely heartening that so many soldiers have reached out to me privately about the torture issue.  Most do not seem to want to enter the fray publicly, but most also seem to share my the same aversion to maltreatment of prisoners.  Not because any of us are softhearted about the enemy; I'll likely see dozens more enemy killed this year and I never feel bad for al Qaeda or Taliban.  They chose to fight.  They chose to attack us or help attack us on 9/11 and at other times.

Please see this article from a military professional from our Greatest Generation. He dealt with a fanatical country that sneak attacked us at Pearl Harbor, and who used suicide attackers.  And we won.


=============
Very interesting read

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/images/pdf/maj_sherwood_moran_usmcr_suggestions_for_japanese_interpreters_based_on_work_in_the_field.doc
27329  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The River Up on: March 20, 2009, 09:57:25 AM
The River Up
By Tzvi Freeman

When the Divine Light began its epic descent—a journey that conceived worlds lower and lower for endless worlds, condensing its unbounded state again and again into innumerable finite packages until focused to a fine, crystallized resolution—it did so with purpose: to bring forth a world of continuous ascent. Since that beginning, not a day has passed that does not transcend its yesterday.

Like a mighty river rushing to reach its ocean, no dam can hold it back, no creature can struggle against its current. Even we, its voyageurs, cannot turn back. We must only move on with the river, on in its relentless ascent to the sea.

We may appear to take a wrong turn, to lose a day in failure—it is our delusion, for we have no map to know the river's way. We see from within, but the river knows its path from Above. And to that place Above it is drawn.

We are not masters of that river— not of our ultimate destiny, not of the stops along the way, not even of the direction of our travel. We did not create the river—its flow creates us. It is the blood and soul of our world, its pulse and its very fibers.

Yet of one thing we have been granted mastery: Not of the journey, but of our role within it. How soon will we arrive? How complete? How fulfilled? Will we be the spectators? The props? Or will we be the heroes?

That is all. And that is all that counts.
27330  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 19, 2009, 11:51:16 PM
Fascinating.  Perhaps it would be better in the North Korea thread?
27331  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: March 19, 2009, 07:38:27 PM
Headmistress accused of 'Islamophobia' wins £400,000

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

Head accused of 'Islamophobia' wins £400,000 after being forced out by Muslim governors

By Andy Dolan, Matt Sandy and Nick Mcdermott
Last updated at 11:20 PM on 19th March 2009





A headmistress who was hounded out of her job after being falsely accused of racism was yesterday awarded more than £400,000 in compensation.

Erica Connor had run a 'happy and successful' primary school but was driven to a breakdown by the allegations.
The Daily Mail can reveal the school's troubles started when a local mosque decided to pack the governing body with Muslims.
Paul Martin - a Muslim convert - and Mumtaz Saleem began monopolising meetings with the aim of turning New Monument in Woking into an Islamic faith school.

The Surrey town is home to the first purpose-built mosque in the country - the Shah Jahan Mosque - which dates from 1889.
Mr Martin, a businessman, yesterday confirmed there had been a 'conscious effort' to increase the number of Muslims on the board.
But when Mrs Connor resisted the new governors' plans - such as the introduction of Islamic worship into the school - she became the target of a smear campaign.

An anonymous petition was circulated among parents, stating that those signing 'no longer have confidence in Erica Connor to educate our children in a way that respects and values our faith, culture and heritage'.
An accompanying document accused the headmistress of 'racism and Islamophobia'.

The accusations drove her to suffer from depression.

She eventually retired from the 300-pupil school because of illhealth in December 2006.
She is unlikely ever to return to teaching and now does voluntary work for a cancer charity.
A judge at the Royal Courts of Justice in London yesterday ordered Surrey County Council to pay Mrs Connor £407,781 in compensation.

He ruled that the local education authority had failed to support her properly against the unfounded accusations.
Deputy Judge John Leighton Williams said the council disregarded the 'health and welfare' of Mrs Connor because it was more concerned about being reported to the Commission for Racial Equality.

Erica Connor was headteacher of New Monument School in Woking (pictured) where 80 per cent of pupils are Muslim. She claimed she was forced to retire through ill health after a campaign of harrassment


After the case, Mrs Connor said the allegations 'attacked the core of my being and my values'.   She accused the council of cownorardice for failing to stand by her while the non-demoninational primary school - where around 80 per cent of the pupils are Muslim - was torn apart by the split in the governing body.

She had told the court earlier: 'I felt the LEA, because of the political sensitivity of the issue, were not addressing it.
'I felt - I will be honest - that this was racism towards me, because I felt that, had I been a Muslim head, things would have been conducted in a different way. I felt that they didn't have the courage to stand by me in this.'

The divorced mother of one was made headmistress in 1998 after joining the school four years earlier as the deputy head. In 2001 she was invited to a Downing Street reception after the school was named the second most improved in the country for SATs results.  Her problems started in 2003 when four Muslim governors, including Mr Martin, joined the board. He was appointed as a parent-governor, despite having no children at the school.

'It was tense': Paul Martin at home in Woking, Surrey

Shortly afterwards, Mr Saleem joined as one of two LEA-appointed Muslim governors.  Mr Martin also nominated another Muslim as parent-governor - Sofia Syed, who also had no prior connection to the school. Over the next two years Mrs Connor believed the governing body became 'dysfunctional' because of the conduct of Mr Martin and Mr Saleem, the court heard. In her witness statement, Mrs Connor said they 'effectively railroaded' meetings, repeatedly raising issues of religious education, content of assemblies and religious worship. They wanted more formal Islamic worship in the school and closer links with the local mosque.
From late 2003, Mr Martin, now 58, repeatedly complained about the school's policies and its stance towards Islam, as well as its links with the Muslim community and Mrs Connor's management.

His complaints resulted in an investigation. Its report acquitted the school of racism, Islamophobia and religious bias. Mr Martin was finally voted off the governing body in June 2005. He complained that he had been 'removed for blowing the whistle on institutional racism'.

The council wrote to parents saying it had no evidence that the allegations were true and reiterated the results of the investigation.
But at the start of the following school term in September, a second investigation - this time at the instigation of the council - concluded the school 'had not been responsive to the needs of the faith community'.

Mrs Connor went on sick leave suffering from stress and depression soon afterwards.

By then, the entire governing body had been disbanded. The following year the school was put in special measures by Ofsted.
Mrs Connor did not sue Mr Martin or Mr Saleem, but claimed that Mr Saleem had harassed her. Judge Williams cleared him of harassment, but ruled that he had been guilty of 'offensive verbal attacks' towards Mrs Connor.

The judge said of the two governors: 'I am satisfied that they sought to monopolise governing body meetings with a view to imposing their own agenda, and were prepared to do so regardless of the interests of the school and anyone who resisted that agenda. What was that agenda? It was at the very least to introduce an increasing role for the Muslim religion in New Monument School.'

The judge added that it was also 'not unreasonable' for Mrs Connor and the school's staff 'to consider that there was an agenda to convert New Monument to an Islamic faith school'.

The judge said the council's 'excessive tolerance' of the Muslim governors' behaviour, its 'misplaced sympathy' for Mr Martin - and its failure to provide Mrs Connor with proper support were the reasons for her depression. Last night, Mr Martin said that he and other governors had simply lobbied for an increase in the number of Islamic assemblies.
He said: 'There were many Muslims in the school and they should be properly represented. It is only fair and democratic.'
Mr Martin, who converted to Islam 28 years ago and was treasurer of the mosque, said he thought Mrs Connor 'became very defensive and it got very tense'.

Mrs Connor, who is believed to live with her partner Neil in Skenfrith, near Abergavenny in South Wales, said after the ruling she was 'thrilled that justice has prevailed'.

She added: 'I finally feel vindicated. I was subjected to dreadful pressures from a small group of individuals, unrepresentative of the local community, without the support I would have expected from Surrey County Council.'

Her damages claim covered sums for her pain and suffering and loss of income and pension.
A Surrey County Council spokesman said the authority was 'disappointed' with the decision
The council was refused permission to appeal, but could take the case to the Court of Appeal.


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...governors.html
27332  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The vortex beckons , , , on: March 19, 2009, 06:43:07 PM

IMF poised to print billions of dollars in 'global quantitative easing'

The International Monetary Fund is poised to embark on what analysts have described as "global quantitative easing" by printing billions of dollars worth of a global "super-currency" in an unprecedented new effort to address the economic crisis.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/recession/4986287/IMF-poised-to-print-billions-of-dollars-in-global-quantitative-easing.html
__________________
27333  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nuclear Power on: March 19, 2009, 06:36:22 PM
As a layman trying to think about a highly technical subject I look for things that seem to encapsulate a larger truth.  In my case I remember that the Diablo Canyon Reactor was built on an earthquake fault here in CA.

Have you ever lived through any earthquakes?  I have and that experts would build a reactor on a fault destroys my faith in them and their process.
27334  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: March 19, 2009, 02:41:00 PM
And so the spiral into economic fascism continues, , , ,

BTW, how much is the $180+billion we given to AIG?  Well, if I have my numbers right, total take on Capital Gains is somewhere around $225B.  Imagine what would have happened to the market if we had simply abolished the cap gains tax!
27335  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Home, ranging here at home, where the Islamo fascists will play, , , on: March 19, 2009, 01:56:48 PM
Guantanamo Detainees May Be Released in U.S.

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

By EVAN PEREZ

WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Eric Holder said some detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may end up being released in the U.S. as the Obama administration works with foreign allies to resettle some of the prisoners.

Mr. Holder, in a briefing with reporters, said administration officials are still reviewing individual cases of the approximately 250 detainees to determine which will be put on trial and which may be released to comply with plans to close the detention facility by next year.

Six weeks into his tenure, Mr. Holder is still trying to assemble much of the Justice senior leadership, with several nominees awaiting Senate confirmation. He said he has reviewed the department's handling of white-collar criminal cases in response to the financial crisis and is considering ways to increase coordination on financial fraud among federal prosecutors and state officials. He said he is trying to increase the budget dedicated to white-collar crime, while maintaining funding for national security.

European justice ministers met with Mr. Holder earlier this week and pressed for details on how many Guantanamo prisoners the U.S. planned to release domestically, as part of any agreement for allies to accept detainees. Mr. Holder said U.S. officials would work to respond to the questions European officials have over U.S. Guantanamo plans.

For "people who can be released there are a variety of options that we have and among them is the possibility is that we would release them into this country," Mr. Holder said. "That process is ongoing and we've not made any determinations or made any requests of anybody at this point."

Among the detainees whose fate remains undetermined are 17 ethnic Uighurs, from the Central Asian region of China, who have been ordered released by a judge. The U.S. has refused to turn the men over to China, which considers them part of an separatist group.

Mr. Holder is planning to visit Mexico next month to meet with his counterparts and discuss efforts to fight the trafficking of guns from the U.S. into Mexico and the drug trade from Mexico into the U.S.

"The Mexican government has been courageous in the way it has confronted the problems that now challenge it," Mr. Holder said, noting the violence that has resulted from battles against the drug cartels in Mexico.

Source The Wall St. Journal
27336  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: March 19, 2009, 12:38:37 PM
Dems opposed to BO-Holder's AWB!!!

http://www.nraila.org/media/PDFs/AWBLettertoHolder309.pdf
27337  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO backs down! on: March 19, 2009, 12:20:53 PM
Obama backs down on vets insurance billing

Marine Corps Times
By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Mar 18, 2009 19:35:13 EDT
The Obama administration waved a white flag of surrender Wednesday, dropping a budget proposal that would have billed private insurance companies for treatment of service-connected medical problems at Veterans Affairs Department hospitals and clinics.

“It was total capitulation,” one participant said at a meeting Wednesday with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in which 11 veterans groups vowed they would fight to the end to kill the proposal.

AmVets Executive Director Jim King said he was glad the White House promised to kill the idea, which was distracting from the good news of the Obama administration’s proposed $4.9 billion increase in the VA budget, and which would have hurt disabled veterans, their families and maybe even employees at the same companies.

Billing private insurance to pay for veterans’ health care would make disabled veterans less desirable employees for companies worried about holding down health care costs, and could have led to veterans and their families paying higher premiums — even raising premiums for everyone working for the same company, King said.

Veterans groups met Monday with President Barack Obama to discuss the controversial proposal, but Obama promised only to look at the issue.
On Wednesday, Emanuel “said he was wrong” in his earlier support of the proposal, King said. “The 11 groups spoke with one voice, and he accepted that.”

The announcement of the reversal came from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., not from the White House.

“I feel something good happened for veterans,” King said, adding that the White House deserved criticism for proposing the idea in the first place but also credit for quickly dropping it.

Disabled American Veterans also commended the reversal. “The president was very open and candid when he met with veterans groups earlier this week, and we are pleased that he has heard our concerns and taken them to heart,” said David Gorman, executive director of DAV’s Washington office.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed the White House had changed its position.

“In considering the third party billing issue, the administration was seeking to maximize the resources available for veterans,” Gibbs said in a statement. However, the president “listened to concerns raised by the VSOs that this might, under certain circumstances, affect veterans and their families’ ability to access health care” and agreed with them. “The president has instructed that its consideration be dropped.”

In an effort that could be viewed as making up for some of the political damage caused by the controversy, Gibbs said that President Barack Obama “wants to continue a constructive partnership” with military and veterans groups and is “grateful” to the groups that worked with him on the proposal, even in opposition.

The White House is not talking about reversing current policy, which does bill the private insurers of some veterans for treatment not directly related to a service-connected injury, illness or disease. If anything, billing for nonservice-connected care could become even more aggressive in an effort to generate money for health care, which is what Emanuel told veterans groups was the whole reason for even considering expanding insurance billing.

The White House idea was not getting support in Congress. On Wednesday morning, before the change was announced, Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman, issued a statement saying he would not even consider such legislation.

“The Obama administration’s proposal to charge third-party insurance companies for service-connected medical treatment will not be taken up by the Veterans Affairs Committee,” Filner said. “Our budget cannot be balanced on the backs, or legs, or kidneys or hearts of our nation’s combat-wounded heroes,” he said.

The proposal gave Republicans an opening to question whether the Obama administration really wants to help veterans. Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, a decorated Air Force veteran and former prisoner of war in Vietnam, called the insurance billing idea “sad and shameful.”

“As a combat-wounded fighter pilot who served in two wars, I find the White House idea of charging wounded war heroes for care absurd, abhorrent and unconscionable,” he said in a speech on the House floor.

-----------------------
A forum comment: ""Seems to me it's kind of hard for him to push socialized medicine on all of us and at the same time admit that socialized medicine isn't up to the task of taking care of our troops."

ZANG!
27338  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: March 19, 2009, 11:40:41 AM
BBG, JDN, and GM may be coming to this thread and in preparation of their arrival I would like to offer the following:

SPEAK IN POSITIVES.

For me it looks like this:

The American Creed (see our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution) declares that our inalienable rights come from The Creator.   In other words, they are not subject to limitation by man or state.  Amongst them are Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness-- in short, Freedom of Choice.  Freedom of Choice is informed by Freedom of Speech.  Freedom of Speech is made real by Separation of Church and State.  Ultimately we the well-armed unorganized militia enforce our rights against all comers.

Anyone who is comfortable with this can be a good American and can be my friend.

It is up to the Muslim world to define itself.

I will accept whichever choice it makes. 

If it limits itself to religion, fine.   Indeed, there is much there to admire and in the absence of fascist thuggery and intimidation I would be glad of conversation.

OTOH if it seeks to blend religious belief with the coercive power of the state, it is a fascist political ideology and per se seditious to the American Creed.  We need to be utterly clear on this:  Freedom of Religion has nothing to do with this. 

TAC!
Marc
27339  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 19, 2009, 11:25:24 AM
Nice turn of conversation!

Lets take this to
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1280.0
27340  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / LA Times: Yuck to Yucca Mountain on: March 19, 2009, 11:20:39 AM
Although it is the LA Times, this makes sense to me.

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

Yucca Mountain on hold
The Obama administration is prudent to put the brakes on the nuclear waste repository in Nevada.
March 19, 2009


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has been called many things during his 22-year Senate career, but the name that sticks when the issue of nuclear power comes up is "NIMBY." That's because Reid has fought tirelessly to block construction of a national nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in his home state. There's a funny thing about his critics, though: Not one of them has ever suggested shipping the country's hazardous radioactive waste to his or her own state or district instead of Nevada.

The usual bleating about Reid's obstructionism and Nevadans' paranoia arose after the release of President Obama's proposed budget, which trims funding for the Yucca Mountain project to the minimum needed to keep the regulatory process involved in its construction alive -- a strong signal that there will be no further work done on the repository during Obama's term in office. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the administration is working on an alternative program that involves multiple interim and long-term waste storage facilities around the country.


Ads by Google
HUD Homes - $10,000

Buy HUD Home at huge 50% savings. Pay $1 to get listings in your area

www.HUDforeclosed.com

Nevada Corp Q&A Free Book

Strategies & secrets. 15 yrs. exp. Get "The Nevada Edge". A $20 value.

www.nchinc.com

Incorporate in Nevada

$31 Plus State Fees Is All It Takes Apply Online In Minutes. LLCs too.

www.SmallBiz.com
When it comes to highly radioactive nuclear waste, pretty much everybody is a NIMBY. Setting aside the factthat scientists have yet to develop the technology to safely store this waste for the thousands of years it takes to decay, there's the fact that it has to be transported to the disposal site -- mostly by train -- creating the opportunity for spills. Even if the nuclear dump isn't in your backyard, the train tracks might be, and the closer you live to the center of it all, the greater the danger. Little wonder that Nevadans aren't excited by the prospect of a glow-in-the-dark desert.

The depressing thing about Yucca Mountain is that for all its flaws, including the discovery that water flows through the mountain faster than previously thought and thus could contaminate nearby areas, it probably still represents the safest place in the country for a nuclear repository. Not only is seismic activity in the rangeminimal, but the mountain is in a remote and desolate region at the edge of a site used in the 1950s for atomic testing. If we can't dump the waste in a nuclear test zone, where can we? That, in a nutshell, is the problem with nuclear power.

Pro-nuclear activists, whose ranks are growing as the nation looks for non-carbon-emitting sources of energy, needn't fret too much about Obama's proposal, which tables but doesn't end the debate about Yucca Mountain. Yet the move probably would delay some pending applications for construction of nuclear plants, and may even stop some. That's all for the good. Nuclear power is much too risky and expensive to be seen as a reasonable solution to climate change.
27341  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / LA Times: Reckless antibiotics on: March 19, 2009, 11:15:47 AM
Even though this is the LA Times, this is close to my thinking on this.

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

A healthy resistance to antibiotics
The overuse of the medications in humans and animals is believed to be responsible for the rise of dangerous superbugs. Now the time may be right for some limits in agribusiness.
March 19, 2009


Ayear and a half ago, researchers found that a deadly form of staph infection was prevalent on Canadian pig farms. This year, the superbug was found in both swine and workers at U.S. farms.

The rise of bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, which kills more people in this country each year than AIDS, is believed to be a consequence of the overuse of antibiotics in humans and animals. Low doses of the medications have become ubiquitous in the livestock industry, mixed into feed to enhance growth and prevent the diseases that sweep through crowded pens.


Ads by Google
Farming Industry Study

Report finds risks to U.S. health, environment. Read more.

www.PewTrusts.org

"I cured my painful UTI"

Here's my urinary tract infection home cure that works in 12 hours...

AmysUTIcure.com

Antibiotics without a R-x

Amoxi, Zithro, Tetra & More! Low Prices - Overnight Shipping

www.rxonlinestore.com
A panel of experts found "clear evidence of adverse human health consequences due to resistant organisms resulting from nonhuman usage of antimicrobials," the World Health Organization reported in 2004. "These consequences include infections that would not have otherwise occurred, increased frequency of treatment failures (in some cases death) and increased severity of infections."

The European Union has already banned non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in farm animals, but each year lobbying by agribusiness in this country dooms legislation that would do the same. On Tuesday, Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.) introduced a bill that would restrict the use of antibiotics that are important to human health in farming operations. The medications could be used to treat illness, but not as a growth promoter or as a substitute for cleaner living conditions. The bill might have a better chance of passing now, with a stronger Democratic majority in Congress.

The timing is right in other ways as well. In January, the Department of Agriculture -- responsible for promoting the meat industry as well as consumer health -- reported that, except during the nursery stage for young pigs, the costs of using preventive or growth-promoting antibiotics slightly outweighed the economic benefits for farms. That's not counting the added costs to consumers in prescription prices for more exotic antibiotics or the $4 billion a year this country spends to combat resistant infections. Some farms are successfully using better sanitation and tracking of illnesses among their herds instead of preventive antibiotics.


It would be a mistake to delay restrictions on antibiotic use until the situation has a chance to reach dire proportions; there is no guarantee that specialized antibiotics could be developed in time to thwart a new wave of drug-resistant bacteria. Humans don't need antibiotics to treat common colds, which are caused by viruses rather than bacteria, and animals don't need them to grow.
27342  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: March 19, 2009, 10:49:01 AM
What Lies Inside
By Tzvi Freeman

Within each thing we behold, the moshiach dwells, like the embryo waiting to break out of its egg. In the rhythm of a dandelion shivering in the breeze, in the eyes of the children we raise, in the goals we make in life, in the machines we use and the art we create, in the air we breathe and the blood rushing through our veins.

When the world was made, the sages say, the moshiach was the wind hovering over all that would be.

Today, those who know to listen can hear his voice beckoning, "Do no let go of me after all these ages! For the fruit of your labor and the labor of your holy mothers and fathers is about to ripen."

The listening alone is enough to crack the shell of the egg.

27343  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: BO's latest trial balloon. Aides surprised war is expensive. on: March 19, 2009, 07:57:13 AM
THOM SHANKER and ERIC SCHMITT
Published: March 18, 2009

WASHINGTON — President Obama and his advisers have decided to significantly expand Afghanistan’s security forces in the hope that a much larger professional army and national police force could fill a void left by the central government and do more to promote stability in the country, according to senior administration and Pentagon officials.

The Afghan Army and other security forces would be greatly expanded under a plan developed by President Obama and his advisers in the hope of stabilizing the nation.

A plan awaiting final approval by the president would set a goal of about 400,000 troops and national police officers, more than twice the forces’ current size, and more than three times the size that American officials believed would be adequate for Afghanistan in 2002, when the Taliban and Al Qaeda appeared to have been routed.

The officials said Mr. Obama was expected to approve a version of the plan in coming days as part of a broader Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy. But even members of Mr. Obama’s national security team appeared taken aback by the cost projections of the program, which range from $10 billion to $20 billion over the next six or seven years.

By comparison, the annual budget for the entire Afghan government, which is largely provided by the United States and other international donors, is about $1.1 billion, which means the annual price of the program would be about twice the cost of operating the government of President Hamid Karzai.

Those figures include only the cost of training and establishing the forces, and officials are still trying to determine what the cost would be to sustain the security forces over the long term.

Administration officials also express concerns that an expanded Afghan Army could rival the corruption-plagued presidency of Mr. Karzai. The American commanders who have recommended the increase argued that any risk of creating a more powerful Afghan Army was outweighed by the greater risks posed by insurgent violence that could threaten the central government if left unchecked.

At present, the army fields more than 90,000 troops, and the Afghan National Police numbers about 80,000 officers. The relatively small size of the security forces has frustrated Afghan officials and American commanders who wanted to turn security over to legitimate Afghan security forces, and not local warlords, at a faster pace.

After resisting the idea for several years, the Bush administration last summer approved an increase that authorized the army to grow to 134,000 over the next three years, in a program that would cost about $12 billion.

The resistance had been a holdover from the early months after the rout of Taliban and Qaeda fighters in 2001, when it appeared that there was little domestic or external threat that required a larger security force.

The new proposal would authorize a doubling of the army, after the increase approved last summer, to about 260,000 soldiers. In addition, it would increase the number of police officers, commandos and border guards to bring the total size of the security forces to about 400,000. The officials who described the proposal spoke on condition of anonymity because they had not been authorized to discuss it publicly in advance of final approval by Mr. Obama.

Some European countries have proposed the creation of an Afghan National Army Trust Fund, which would seek donations from oil kingdoms along the Persian Gulf and other countries to pay for Afghanistan’s security forces.

Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, which would have to approve new American spending, endorsed the goal of expanding Afghan security forces, and urged commanders to place Afghans on the front lines to block the border with Pakistan to insurgents and terrorists.

“The cost is relatively small compared to the cost of not doing it — of having Afghanistan either disintegrate, or fall into the hands of the Taliban, or look as though we are dominating it,” Mr. Levin said in an interview late on Tuesday.

Administration officials and military experts cited recent public opinion polls in Afghanistan showing that the Afghan Army had eclipsed the respect given the central government, which has had difficulty exerting legitimacy or control much beyond the capital.

“In the estimation of almost all outside observers, the Ministry of Defense and the Afghan National Army are two of the most highly functional and capable institutions in the country,” said Lt. Gen. David W. Barno, who is retired and commanded American and coalition forces in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005.

General Barno, currently the director of Near East and South Asian security studies at National Defense University, dismissed concerns that the army or the Ministry of Defense would challenge the authority of elected officials in Kabul.

“They are respectful of civil governance,” he said. “If the government of Afghanistan is going to effectively extend security and the rule of law, it has to have more army boots on the ground and police shoes on the ground.”

Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the Obama administration now appeared “willing to accept risks and accept downsides it might not otherwise” have considered had the security situation not deteriorated.

Military analysts cite other models in the Islamic world, like Pakistan, Egypt and Turkey, where the United States supports democratically elected civilian governments but raises no objection to the heavy influence wielded by military forces that remain at least as powerful as those governments.

Martin Strmecki, a member of the Defense Policy Board and a former top Pentagon adviser on Afghanistan, told a Senate committee last month that the Afghan Army should increase to 250,000 soldiers and the national police force should add more than 100,000 officers. Mr. Strmecki said that only when Afghan security forces reached those numbers would they achieve “the level necessary for success in counterinsurgency.”

Military officers also see an added benefit to expanding Afghanistan’s security forces, if its growing rosters can offer jobs to unemployed young men who now take up arms for the insurgency for money, and not ideology.

“We can try and outbid the Taliban for ‘day workers’ who are laying I.E.D.’s and do not care about politics,” Mr. Biddle said, referring to improvised explosive devices. “But if we don’t control that area, the Taliban can come in and cut off the hands of anybody who is taking money from us.”

C.I.A. Chief in Overseas Trip

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon E. Panetta, is traveling to India and Pakistan this week to discuss the investigation into the Mumbai terrorist attacks, improved information-sharing to combat violent extremists and other intelligence issues, an American official said Wednesday.

Making his first overseas trip as C.I.A. director, Mr. Panetta was in India on Wednesday and was expected to travel to Pakistan and possibly another country in the following days, the official said.

David E. Sanger contributed reporting.

Correction: March 19, 2009
27344  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NY Slimes slimes Israel on: March 19, 2009, 07:52:50 AM
Well, the NY Slimes is at it as usual, particularly virulent form this time.  Poor Israel.

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

JERUSALEM — Israel, whose founding idea was branded as racism by the United Nations General Assembly in 1975 and which faced an Arab boycott for decades, is no stranger to isolation. But in the weeks since its Gaza war, and as it prepares to inaugurate a hawkish right-wing government, it is facing its worst diplomatic crisis in two decades.

Examples abound. Its sports teams have met hostility and violent protests in Sweden, Spain and Turkey. Mauritania has closed Israel’s embassy.

Relations with Turkey, an important Muslim ally, have suffered severely. A group of top international judges and human rights investigators recently called for an inquiry into Israel’s actions in Gaza. “Israel Apartheid Week” drew participants in 54 cities around the world this month, twice the number of last year, according to its organizers. And even in the American Jewish community, albeit in its liberal wing, there is a chill.

The issue has not gone unnoticed here, but it has generated two distinct and somewhat contradictory reactions. On one hand, there is real concern. Global opinion surveys are being closely examined and the Foreign Ministry has been granted an extra $2 million to improve Israel’s image through cultural and information diplomacy.

“We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theater companies, exhibits,” said Arye Mekel, the ministry’s deputy director general for cultural affairs. “This way you show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.”

But there is also a growing sense that outsiders do not understand Israel’s predicament, so criticism is dismissed.

“People here feel that no matter what you do you are going to be blamed for all the problems in the Middle East,” said Eytan Gilboa, a professor of politics and international communication at Bar Ilan University. “Even suicide bombings by Palestinians are seen as our fault for not establishing a Palestinian state.”

Of course, for Israel’s critics, including those who firmly support the existence of a Jewish state, the problem is not one of image but of policy. They point to four decades of occupation, the settling of half a million Israeli Jews on land captured in 1967, the economic strangling of Gaza for the past few years and the society’s growing indifference toward the creation of a Palestinian state as reasons Israel has lost favor abroad, and they say that no amount of image buffing will change that.

Israel’s use of enormous force in the Gaza war in January crystallized much of this criticism.

The issue of a Palestinian state is central to Israel’s reputation abroad, because so many governments and international organizations favor its establishment in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. And while the departing government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert negotiated for such a state, the incoming one of Benjamin Netanyahu says that item is not on its immediate agenda.

Javier Solana, foreign policy chief for the European Union, said in Brussels on Monday that the group would reconsider its relationship with Israel if it did not remain committed to establishing a Palestinian state.

Moreover, Mr. Netanyahu is expected to appoint Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, as his foreign minister. This alone has Israelis and their allies in Europe and the United States worried because of Mr. Lieberman’s views of Israeli Arabs that some have called racist.

Mr. Lieberman had campaigned on the need for a loyalty oath in Israel so that those who did not support a Jewish democratic state would lose their citizenship. One-fifth of Israeli citizens are Arabs, and many do not support defining the state as Jewish.

Mr. Lieberman also has few fans in Egypt, which has acted as an intermediary for Israel in several matters. Some months ago Mr. Lieberman complained that President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt had not agreed to come to Israel. “If he doesn’t want to, he can go to hell,” he added.

“Imagine that Hossein Mousavi wins the Iranian presidency this spring and he names Mohammad Khatami as his foreign minister,” said Meir Javedanfar, an Iran analyst in Israel, referring to two Iranian leaders widely viewed as in the pragmatist camp. “With Lieberman as foreign minister here, Israel will have a much harder time demonstrating to the world that Iran is the destabilizing factor in the region.”

Of course, all of this is being seen in the context of a new, Democratic administration in the United States that has announced a desire to press for a two-state solution. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has already criticized Israeli plans to demolish Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, and her department has criticized Israel’s banning of certain goods from Gaza.

This represents a distinct shift in tone from the Bush era. An internal Israeli Foreign Ministry report during the Gaza war noted that compared with others in the United States, “liberals and Democrats show far less enthusiasm for Israel and its leadership.”

The gap between Israelis and many liberal American Jews could be seen Tuesday in a blog by Bradley Burston, who writes on the Web site of the left-leaning newspaper Haaretz. He said that while visiting Los Angeles he faced many questions that amounted to “What is wrong with these people, your friends, the Israelis?”

He quoted an article by Anne Roiphe, an American Jewish liberal, which said that witnessing the popularity of Mr. Lieberman in Israel made her feel “as if my spouse had cheated on me with Mussolini.”

She added: “We here in America are waiting as of this writing for a government to emerge in Jerusalem, and most of us keep on hoping that its shape will not preclude the peace process, will not doom a two-state solution, will not destroy the hope that our new president brings to the table.”

Mr. Burston pointed to the thousands of rockets fired from Gaza into Sderot and other Israeli cities and towns and titled his piece “The Racist Israeli Fascist in Me.”

Some Israeli officials say they believe that what the country needs is to “rebrand” itself. They say Israel spends far too much time defending actions against its enemies. By doing so, they say, the narrative is always about conflict.

“When we show Sderot, others also see Gaza,” said Ido Aharoni, manager of a rebranding team at the Foreign Ministry. “Everything is twinned when seen through the conflict. The country needs to position itself as an attractive personality, to make outsiders see it in all its reality. Instead, we are focusing on crisis management. And that is never going to get us where we need to go over the long term.”

Mr. Gilboa, the political scientist, said branding was not enough.

“We need to do much more to educate the world about our situation,” he said. Regarding the extra $2 million budgeted for this, he said: “We need 50 million. We need 100 million.”
27345  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: March 19, 2009, 07:42:11 AM
Grateful for a conversation with my son.
27346  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington in 1753 on: March 19, 2009, 07:39:55 AM
"Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness."

--George Washington, Circular to the States, 9 May 1753
27347  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glenn Beck on: March 19, 2009, 02:01:23 AM
The few times I've caught Glenn Beck he has seemed to me a mental mediocrity, but this is one great rant.  Maybe I need to give him another look:

http://www.youdecidepolitics.com/2009/03/17/video-glenn-beck-breaks-down-aig-bonus-scandal/
27348  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 19, 2009, 01:38:06 AM
The WH or Geitner?
27349  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stop Loss on: March 19, 2009, 01:15:02 AM
By YOCHI J. DREAZEN
WASHINGTON -- The Army plans to phase out its deeply unpopular stop-loss program, which forces soldiers to remain in the military after their enlistments end.

The first Army units will deploy overseas without stop-loss soldiers in August. Barring a national-security emergency, the Army hopes to effectively eliminate the practice in 2011.

Pentagon officials said the move was meant to reduce the strains on soldiers and their families, and to help lower the alarmingly high rates of military suicide and divorce.

The move could also help defuse the anger in military circles over the Obama administration's aborted plan to make veterans' private health insurers reimburse the government for the cost of treating combat-related injuries. Amid a political furor, the White House dropped the proposal Wednesday.

 
Robert Gates
About 13,000 soldiers are being kept in the Army against their will because of the stop-loss program. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he hopes to cut that number in half by June 2010 and bring it down to the "scores, not thousands," by March 2011.

"I felt, particularly in these numbers, that it was breaking faith," Mr. Gates told reporters. "When somebody's end date of service comes, to hold them against their will...is just not the right thing to do."

Wednesday's announcement caps a multiyear controversy over the stop-loss program, created by Congress as part of the Army's transition to an all-volunteer force after the Vietnam War.

The policy affects soldiers whose units are set to deploy within three months of the end of their service commitment to the Army. Commanders say the policy helps maintain unit cohesion at a time of war and ensures that the Army doesn't face shortages of soldiers with specific skills.

The widespread use of the policy during the Iraq War became a heated political issue. In 2004, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry likened it to a "backdoor draft."

In the 2008 movie "Stop-Loss," an Iraq veteran makes plans to flee to Mexico or Canada after he receives notice that he is being kept in the military and sent back to Iraq.

Under the Army's plan, the Army Reserve will begin mobilizing units without stop-loss soldiers in August, and the National Guard will do the same in September. The active-duty Army will follow suit in January 2010.

Mr. Gates said the Army would also give all soldiers who are affected by stop-loss a $500-a-month bonus, with the payments made retroactive to soldiers serving involuntarily as of Oct. 1, 2008.

Write to Yochi J. Dreazen at yochi.dreazen@wsj.com
27350  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Shall Issue bill in CA!!! on: March 18, 2009, 11:47:21 PM
California Assemblyman introduces Shall Issue CCW bill.

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/...introduced.pdf
Pages: 1 ... 545 546 [547] 548 549 ... 740
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!