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27401  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Federalist 55 on: July 27, 2009, 08:54:29 AM
Freki:  Great to have you adding to the mix.
==================

"In all very numerous assemblies, of whatever character composed, passion never fails to wrest the sceptre from reason. ... Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob." --Federalist No. 55, February 15, 1788
27402  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Vernon Forrest on: July 27, 2009, 08:41:15 AM
July 27, 2009

Forrest, Ex-Boxing Champ, Is Killed

By DERRICK HENRY
Vernon Forrest, a former middleweight boxing champion also known for his charitable work, was shot and killed Saturday night in Atlanta. The police said that he had apparently been robbed and then exchanged gunfire with his assailant.

Forrest, 38, is the third prominent boxer to die this month. Arturo Gatti, a super featherweight and light welterweight, was found dead July 11 at a Brazilian resort. Alexis Argüello, a champion in the lightweight divisions, was found dead on July 1 at his home in Managua, Nicaragua. He had been elected mayor of Nicaragua’s capital last year.

Last September, Forrest reclaimed his World Boxing Council title at 154 pounds by beating Sergio Mora, an opponent 10 years younger. Forrest, who had a 41-3 career record with 29 knockouts, had been sidelined by injury and vacated his crown. In 2002, he twice defeated Shane Mosley and was named Ring Magazine’s Fighter of the Year.

Forrest, who lived in Atlanta, had stopped at a gas station on Whitehall Street in central part of the city to put air into the tires of his Jaguar when a man robbed him at gunpoint, the police said. Forrest, who also was armed, chased the man several hundred feet, toward a nearby intersection. The two exchanged gunfire, Atlanta Police Det. Lt. Keith Meadows told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Forrest suffered seven to eight shots to the back, the police said. Lt. Meadows said there was evidence that Forrest had used his weapon, but the police did not know if the assailant had been shot.

An 11-year-old boy who was in Forrest’s vehicle gave police a description of the assailant. The boy, the son of Forrest’s girlfriend, did not witness the shootings, the police said.

An autopsy was planned for Sunday, The Associated Press reported.

Forrest, a former W.B.C. super welterweight champion, was just as noted for his work outside the ring. In 1998, he started Destiny’s Child, a foundation for people with mental disabilities in Atlanta.

Forrest said he thought of starting the foundation after seeing an autistic child struggle to tie his shoes. “If you sit there and watch a person take about an hour to tie his shoestrings, then you realize that whatever problems you got ain’t that significant,” he said in a 2006 New York Times interview. “A light just turned on in my head.”

The foundation set up group homes in the Atlanta area.

“We teach mathematics and how to count money,” Forrest said in a 2003 Times interview. “We had this one 18-year-old boy to whom all money looked the same. He had trouble with quarters and nickels. Then one day, he said, ‘Uncle Vernon, I got it, I got it.’ ”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/27/sp...7boxer.html?hp
27403  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 26, 2009, 08:51:28 PM
Does anyone offer insurance that does not allow cancelation?
27404  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty Saturday class on: July 26, 2009, 04:06:15 PM
I'm suspecting that there are not many places where you can find on tangent on Aristotle on a thread announcing a class  cheesy  Crazy Cossack, please feel free to expound  smiley

@All:

The class met yesterday at the park where we used to hold our Gatherings of the Pack and had a fine time.  After a tangent on apply our 6 foot staff method to lacrosse, we focused on Kali Tudo starting with the low cross of the Trigg 101 as a portal to angular crashing drives.

Due to my seminar schedule in August and the desire to take a family vacation, we decided to resume training on Saturday September 5th.

TAC!
Guro Crafty
27405  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Now that's a knife! on: July 26, 2009, 03:51:42 PM
Apparently wee-hours street confrontation focused on who had bigger knife
By Kate Paul, KTVZ.COM

A would-be victim of a knife-wielding burglar on a southeast Bend street early Saturday morning turned the tables - pulling out a larger knife of his own - and the assailant then ran away, the teen told police.

Officers responded around 2:30 a.m. to the area of Southeast Third Street and Vine Lane (north of Wilson) on the report of an attempted armed robbery with a knife, said Sgt. Tom Pine.

The victim, Jeremy Meade, 18, of Bend, reported being confronted by an unknown suspect with a knife who demanded his wallet, Pine said.
But the teen refused to comply with demands.

Sgt. Andy Homan told NewsChanel 21, "When the subject confronted him, he had what (Meade) called a smaller knife. And apparently, our victim was carrying a larger knife, and he brandished it back - I'm guessing in (self) defense - and apparently that thwarted the robbery."
"And the suspect thought twice and ran off," Homan said.

The suspect ran north toward the Third Street underpass, and Meade called 911, Homan said, but police were unable to locate the suspect. Pine said he faces likely charges of first-degree attempted robbery, unlawful use of a weapon and menacing.

The suspect description is limited - a white male adult, about 6 feet tall, with medium build. Anyone with information that could help in the case was asked to contact police.
27406  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Euro Gathering 2009 on: July 26, 2009, 07:16:20 AM
Lonely Dog read this at the opening of the Gathering:
===============

A Howl of Greeting to All:

Due to the change of date of the Euro Gathering to a date which conflicts
with family commitments, I am not able to be there with you this time.

It certainly feels very strange and unsettling to not be at a Gathering, but
upon reflection I realize that the fact that my vision of the Dog Brothers
which began so long ago has gotten to a point where I CAN miss a day is
really a sign of tremendous progress towards the birth of a tribe which will
outlive us all.  For this, I am deeply happy.

Lonely Dog will be in touch with me during these days concerning Council of
Elders matters, so know that I will be a part of any asecensions and matters
of that sort.  Speaking of which-- there is the matter of an ascension to
full Dog Brother left over from last time.  I would like to suggest to
Lonely that he take care of it in this moment.  smiley

(Ceremony for Marcus:  By the powers invested in us by us we dub
thee___________.)

For those of you fighting for the first time and are worried about whether
you will fight well, allow me to ask you a three part question:

Remember the first time you had sex?  Were you any good at it?  Have you
gotten better since then?

What matters is that you keep on being here in this space-- for these are
days in which you will create and install in your spirit the place where you
are forever young so that you will walk as a warrior for all your days.

As you step out into the magical space, feel the gift of your aliveness and
be present in the moment.

The Learning that takes place in the adrenal state is some of the deepest
and highest that there is.  The greater the adrenal state, the profounder
the Learning. The greater the state of Play, the better the result. The more
that one can move in both directions simultaneously, the better. "The
greater the dichotomy, the profounder the transformation. Higher
consciousness through harder contact." (c)

See you all next time.

Crafty Dog
Guiding Force of the Dog Brothers.

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

I spoke a little while ago with Lonely and he reports two days of outstanding fighting and DB spirit.    The Tribe grows stronger every day.
27407  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Intelligence and Psychology on: July 26, 2009, 06:43:46 AM
Scientists worry machines may outsmart man
By JOHN MARKOFF
Published: July 25, 2009
A robot that can open doors and find electrical outlets to recharge itself. Computer viruses that no one can stop. Predator drones, which, though still controlled remotely by humans, come close to a machine that can kill autonomously.

Impressed and alarmed by advances in artificial intelligence, a group of computer scientists is debating whether there should be limits on research that might lead to loss of human control over computer-based systems that carry a growing share of society’s workload, from waging war to chatting with customers on the phone.

Their concern is that further advances could create profound social disruptions and even have dangerous consequences.

As examples, the scientists pointed to a number of technologies as diverse as experimental medical systems that interact with patients to simulate empathy, and computer worms and viruses that defy extermination and could thus be said to have reached a “cockroach” stage of machine intelligence.

While the computer scientists agreed that we are a long way from Hal, the computer that took over the spaceship in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” they said there was legitimate concern that technological progress would transform the work force by destroying a widening range of jobs, as well as force humans to learn to live with machines that increasingly copy human behaviors.

The researchers — leading computer scientists, artificial intelligence researchers and roboticists who met at the Asilomar Conference Grounds on Monterey Bay in California — generally discounted the possibility of highly centralized superintelligences and the idea that intelligence might spring spontaneously from the Internet. But they agreed that robots that can kill autonomously are either already here or will be soon.

They focused particular attention on the specter that criminals could exploit artificial intelligence systems as soon as they were developed. What could a criminal do with a speech synthesis system that could masquerade as a human being? What happens if artificial intelligence technology is used to mine personal information from smart phones?

The researchers also discussed possible threats to human jobs, like self-driving cars, software-based personal assistants and service robots in the home. Just last month, a service robot developed by Willow Garage in Silicon Valley proved it could navigate the real world.

A report from the conference, which took place in private on Feb. 25, is to be issued later this year. Some attendees discussed the meeting for the first time with other scientists this month and in interviews.

The conference was organized by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, and in choosing Asilomar for the discussions, the group purposefully evoked a landmark event in the history of science. In 1975, the world’s leading biologists also met at Asilomar to discuss the new ability to reshape life by swapping genetic material among organisms. Concerned about possible biohazards and ethical questions, scientists had halted certain experiments. The conference led to guidelines for recombinant DNA research, enabling experimentation to continue.

The meeting on the future of artificial intelligence was organized by Eric Horvitz, a Microsoft researcher who is now president of the association.

Dr. Horvitz said he believed computer scientists must respond to the notions of superintelligent machines and artificial intelligence systems run amok.

The idea of an “intelligence explosion” in which smart machines would design even more intelligent machines was proposed by the mathematician I. J. Good in 1965. Later, in lectures and science fiction novels, the computer scientist Vernor Vinge popularized the notion of a moment when humans will create smarter-than-human machines, causing such rapid change that the “human era will be ended.” He called this shift the Singularity.

This vision, embraced in movies and literature, is seen as plausible and unnerving by some scientists like William Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems. Other technologists, notably Raymond Kurzweil, have extolled the coming of ultrasmart machines, saying they will offer huge advances in life extension and wealth creation.

“Something new has taken place in the past five to eight years,” Dr. Horvitz said. “Technologists are replacing religion, and their ideas are resonating in some ways with the same idea of the Rapture.”

The Kurzweil version of technological utopia has captured imaginations in Silicon Valley. This summer an organization called the Singularity University began offering courses to prepare a “cadre” to shape the advances and help society cope with the ramifications.

“My sense was that sooner or later we would have to make some sort of statement or assessment, given the rising voice of the technorati and people very concerned about the rise of intelligent machines,” Dr. Horvitz said.

The A.A.A.I. report will try to assess the possibility of “the loss of human control of computer-based intelligences.” It will also grapple, Dr. Horvitz said, with socioeconomic, legal and ethical issues, as well as probable changes in human-computer relationships. How would it be, for example, to relate to a machine that is as intelligent as your spouse?

Dr. Horvitz said the panel was looking for ways to guide research so that technology improved society rather than moved it toward a technological catastrophe. Some research might, for instance, be conducted in a high-security laboratory.

The meeting on artificial intelligence could be pivotal to the future of the field. Paul Berg, who was the organizer of the 1975 Asilomar meeting and received a Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1980, said it was important for scientific communities to engage the public before alarm and opposition becomes unshakable.

“If you wait too long and the sides become entrenched like with G.M.O.,” he said, referring to genetically modified foods, “then it is very difficult. It’s too complex, and people talk right past each other.”

Tom Mitchell, a professor of artificial intelligence and machine learning at Carnegie Mellon University, said the February meeting had changed his thinking. “I went in very optimistic about the future of A.I. and thinking that Bill Joy and Ray Kurzweil were far off in their predictions,” he said. But, he added, “The meeting made me want to be more outspoken about these issues and in particular be outspoken about the vast amounts of data collected about our personal lives.”

Despite his concerns, Dr. Horvitz said he was hopeful that artificial intelligence research would benefit humans, and perhaps even compensate for human failings. He recently demonstrated a voice-based system that he designed to ask patients about their symptoms and to respond with empathy. When a mother said her child was having diarrhea, the face on the screen said, “Oh no, sorry to hear that.”

A physician told him afterward that it was wonderful that the system responded to human emotion. “That’s a great idea,” Dr. Horvitz said he was told. “I have no time for that.”

Ken Conley/Willow Garage
27408  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Once again on: July 26, 2009, 06:00:34 AM
Repeating my post of the 23rd:

Question 1: What is done and what should be done about people with pre-existing conditions looking for health care?

Question 2:  Is/should an insurance company be allowed to discontinue someone who develops a problem?

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

My favorite cartoon strip-- highly recommended as a daily read!
http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/
27409  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Thomas Friedman: The Losers hang on on: July 26, 2009, 05:32:32 AM
A tad sunny  cheesy with regard to Afpakia I think (see e.g. the "Michael Yon in Afg" thread and the Afg-Pak thread here) but some points worth consideration.

=========================================
The Losers Hang On Sign in to Recommend
 
After spending a week traveling the frontline of the “war on terrorism” — from the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Ronald Reagan in the seas off Iran, to northern Iraq, to Afghanistan and into northwest Pakistan — I can comfortably report the following: The bad guys are losing.

Yes, the dominos you see falling in the Muslim world today are the extremist Islamist groups and governments. They have failed to persuade people by either their arguments or their performances in power that their puritanical versions of Islam are the answer. Having lost the argument, though, the radicals still hang on thanks to gun barrels and oil barrels — and they can for a while.

Because, while the radicals have failed miserably, our allies — the pro-Americans, the Muslim modernists, the Arab moderates — have not really filled the void with reform and good government of their own. They are winning by default. More on that later.

For now, though, it is obvious that everywhere they have won or seized power, the Islamists — in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Algeria, Lebanon or Gaza — have overplayed their hands, dragged their societies into useless wars or engaged in nihilistic violence that today is producing a broad backlash from mainstream Muslims.

Think of this: In the late-1970s, two leaders made historic trips — President Anwar Sadat flew from Egypt to Israel and Ayatollah Khomeini flew from Paris to Tehran. For the last 30 years, politics in the Middle East and the Muslim world has, in many ways, been a struggle between their competing visions.

Sadat argued that the future should bury the past and that Arabs and Muslims should build their future based on peace with Israel, integration with the West and embracing modernity. Khomeini argued that the past should bury the future and that Persians and Muslims should build their future on hostility to Israel, isolation from the West and subordinating modernity to a puritanical Islam.

In 2009, the struggle between those two trends tipped toward the Sadatists. The fact that Iran’s ruling theocrats had to steal their election to stay in power and forcibly suppress dissent by millions of Iranians — according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Iran has surpassed China as the world’s leading jailer of journalists, with 41 now behind bars — is the most visible sign of this. The Taliban’s burning down of secular schools that compete with its mosques, and its peddling of heroin to raise cash, are also not exactly signs of intellectual triumph.

The same day that President Obama spoke to the Muslim world from Cairo University, Osama bin Laden released a long statement on Islamic Web sites and on Al Jazeera. As the Egyptian Middle East expert Mamoun Fandy noted: “Obama beat Osama hands down. Ask anyone about the content of Obama’s speech and they will tell you. Ask them what Osama said and most people will say, ‘Did he give a speech?’ ”

In Iraq’s elections last January, nationalist and moderate Muslim parties defeated the sectarian, radical religious parties, while in Lebanon, a pro-Western coalition defeated one led by Hezbollah.

Here in Pakistan, the backlash against the Taliban has been building among the rising middle class. It started in March when a mobile-phone video of a teenage girl being held down and beaten outside her home by a Taliban commander in Pakistan’s Swat Valley spread virally across this country. In May, the Pakistani Army began an offensive against Taliban militants who had taken control of key towns in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), and appeared to be moving toward the capital, Islamabad.

I followed Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when he visited a vast, choking-hot and dust-covered refugee tent camp in Jalozai, where some 116,000 refugees have fled the NWFP, as the Pakistani Army moved into their hometowns to smash the Taliban in a popular operation.

“People are totally against them, but the Taliban don’t care,” a Pakistani teacher, Abdul Jalil, 41, told me while taking a break from teaching the Urdu alphabet to young boys in a sweltering tent. “They are very cruel. They chopped people’s heads off.”

To the extent that the radical Islamists have any energy today, it comes not from the power of their ideas or examples of good governance, but by stoking sectarian feuds. In Afghanistan, the Taliban play on Pashtun nationalist grievances, and in Iraq, the Sunni jihadists draw energy from killing Shiites.

The only way to really dry up their support, though, is for the Arab and Muslim modernists to actually implement better ideas by producing less corrupt and more consensual governance, with better schools, more economic opportunities and a vision of Islam that is perceived as authentic yet embracing of modernity. That is where “our” allies in Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have so consistently failed. Until that happens, the Islamist radicals will be bankrupt, but not out of business.
27410  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 26, 2009, 04:09:45 AM
Pg 22 of the HC Bill MANDATES the govt. will audit books of ALL EMPLOYERS that self insure!!

Pg 30 Sec 123 of HC bill - THERE WILL BE A GOVT COMMITTEE that decides what treatments/benefits you get.

Pg 29 lines 4-16 in the HC bill - YOUR HEALTHCARE IS RATIONED!!!


Pg 42 of HC Bill - The Health Choices Commissioner will choose your HC Benefits for you. YOU have no choice!

PG 50 Section 152 in HC bill - HC will be provided to ALL non US citizens, illegal or otherwise

Pg 58 HC Bill - Govt will have real-time access to individual's finances & a National ID Healthcard will be issued! [Mark of the Beast? Rev 13]

Pg 59 HC Bill lines 21-24 Govt will have direct access to your bank accounts for elective funds transfer

PG 65 Sec 164 is a payoff subsidized plan for retirees and their families in labor unions & community organizations [such as ACORN].

Pg 72 Lines 8-14 Govt is creating an HC Exchange to bring private HC plans under Govt control.

PG 84 Sec 203 HC bill - Govt mandates ALL benefit packages for private HC plans in the Exchange

PG 85 Line 7 HC Bill - Specifies Benefit Levels for all Plans [The Govt will ration your Healthcare].

PG 91 Lines 4-7 HC Bill - Govt mandates linguistic services. Example - Translation for illegal aliens

Pg 95 HC Bill Lines 8-18 The Govt will use groups i.e., ACORN & Americorps to sign up individuals For Govt HC plan

PG 85 Line 7 HC Bill - Specifics of Benefit Levels for Plans. [AARP members - your health care WILL be rationed]

-PG 102 Lines 12-18 HC Bill - Medicaid Eligible Individuals (redefined elsewhere as all those under 133% of poverty level) will be automatically enrolled in Medicaid. [No choice]

Pg 124 lines 24-25 HC No company can sue Govt for price fixing. No "judicial review" against Govt Monopoly.

Pg 127 Lines 1-16 HC Bill - Doctors/ AMA - The Govt will tell you what you can earn.

Pg 145 Line 15-17 An Employer MUST auto enroll employees into public option plan. [NO CHOICE]

Pg 126 Lines 22-25 Employers MUST pay for HC for part time employees AND their families. (this will cut a lot of jobs)

Pg 149 Lines 16-24 ANY Employer with payroll of 400k & above who does not provide public option Pays 8% additional tax on all payroll.

Pg 150 Lines 9-13 Business w payroll between 251k & 400k who doesn't provide public option pays 2-6% additional tax on all payroll

Pg 167 Lines 18-23 ANY individual who doesn't have acceptable (who decides what is acceptable?) HC according to Govt will be taxed additional 2.5% of income

Pg 170 Lines 1-3 HC Bill Any NONRESIDENT Alien is exempt from individual Taxes. [however, Americans will pay]

Pg 195 HC Bill -officers & employees of HC Administration [GOVT] will have access to ALL Americans' finance/personal records

PG 203 Line 14-15 HC - "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax" [Yes, it says that]

Pg 239 Line 14-24 HC Bill Govt will reduce physician services for Medicaid, Seniors, low income, poor, affected [Pay attention seniors]

Pg 241 Line 6-8 HC Bill - Doctors, doesn't matter what specialty you have, you'll all be paid the same salary

PG 253 Line 10-18 Govt sets value of Dr's time, professional judgment, etc. [literally value of humans].

PG 265 Sec 1131Govt mandates & controls productivity for private HC industries

PG 268 Sec 1141 Fed Govt regulates rental & purchase of power driven wheelchairs

PG 272 SEC. 1145. TREATMENT BY CERTAIN CANCER HOSPITALS - [Cancer patients - welcome to rationing!]

Page 280 Sec 1151 The Govt will penalize hospitals for what Govt deems preventable readmissions.

Pg 298 Lines 9-11 Drs, treat a patient during initial admission that results in a readmission-Govt will penalize you.

Pg 317 L 13-20 PROHIBITION on ownership/investment. Govt tells Drs. what/how much they can own.

Pg 317-318 lines 21-25,1-3 PROHIBITION on expansion- Govt is mandating hospitals cannot expand

Pg 321 2-13 Hospitals have opportunity to apply for exception BUT community input required. [govt permission]

Pg335 L 16-25 Pg 336-339 - Govt mandates establishment of outcome based measures. [HC the way they want. Rationing]

Pg 341 Lines 3-9 Govt has authority to disqualify Medicare Advantage Plans, HMOs, etc. Forcing people into Govt plan

Pg 354 Sec 1177 - Govt will RESTRICT enrollment of Special needs people [such as Downs Syndrome]

Pg 379 Sec 1191 Govt creates more bureaucracy - Telehealth Advisory Committee. [HC by phone?]

PG 425 Lines 4-12 Govt mandates Advance Care Planning Consult. [Think Senior Citizens: end of life]

Pg 425 Lines 17-19 Govt will instruct & consult regarding living wills, durable powers of atty. Mandatory!

PG 425 Lines 22-25, 426 Lines 1-3 Govt provides approved list of end of life resources, guiding you in death [think mandatory Kervorkian]

PG 427 Lines 15-24 Govt mandates program for orders for end of life. The Govt has a say in how your life ends

Pg 429 Lines 1-9 An "advocate care planning consult" will be used frequently as patients health deteriorates

PG 429 Lines 10-12 "advocate care consultation" may include an ORDER for end of life plans. [An ORDER from GOV]

Pg 429 Lines 13-25 - The govt will specify which Doctors can write an end of life order.

PG 430 Lines 11-15 The Govt will decide what level of treatment you will have at end of life

Pg 469 - Community Based Home Medical Services = Non profit organizations. [ACORN Medical Services]

Page 472 Lines 14-17 PAYMENT TO COMMUNITY-BASED ORG. Monthly payment to a community-based organization. [like ACORN]

PG 489 Sec 1308 The Govt will cover Marriage & Family therapy. [Which means they will insert Govt into your marriage]

Pg 494-498 Govt will cover Mental Health Services including defining, creating, rationing those services.

Here's the full Health Care bill that sits in the House.

http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-...=f:h3200ih.pdf
27411  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 25, 2009, 09:52:45 PM
Smartass cheesy
27412  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 25, 2009, 01:51:35 PM
GM:

I am 56.

 grin
27413  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 25, 2009, 11:05:44 AM
When I was in my early 20s, I was the only white guy in a 9 man band.  We had three percussion players and did originals, Santana, Jimi Hendrix, and the Funkadelics and played gigs where I was the only white person in the room.  Also during this era I shared an apartment with a friend who was black.  All this was in Philadelphia.

In this context, even though white, I experienced racially tinged stops on several occasions.  For example, calm driving, calm behavior when stopped, yet dragged out of the car and searched.  It REALLY does happen and it is a bummer.
27414  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Operation AC on: July 25, 2009, 09:29:41 AM
http://www.michaelyon-online.com/michael-s-dispatches/

Michael's Dispatches
SatComms for Soldiers
  25 July 2009
Sangin, Afghanistan

Have been out with British forces in the area of Sangin in northern Helmand Province.  This area appears to be turning into the main effort of the current fight in Afghanistan, but this is unclear to me at the moment.  I do know that air assets are heavy.  During our mission yesterday, a B-1 could be seen overhead, though it was miles high.  On the ground, this place is loaded with IEDs and there were many firefights during yesterday’s mission.   My section of eight soldiers did not fire a single round; we did not come into direct contact, though bullets sometimes zipped overhead.  Nearly all missions are conducted on foot and the soldiers like it that way.  I am with the British battalion called 2 Rifles.  The last mission I did with 2 Rifles was in Iraq, and they killed maybe 26-27 JAM members during that fight.  Yesterday they only killed two Taliban (Predator actually made the shot), but the mission was well run, and morale here is very high.  Everybody is ready to roll again and missions are near continuous.  I’ll ask British commanders to let me stay, though that might not be necessary because there are so few helicopters.  More likely I am stuck here.  FOB Jackson is probably going to be my Hotel California, but that’s all good because these are great soldiers, in the thick of it, and I want to stay.

More broadly speaking, our forces are spread to the high winds across desolate stretches of Afghanistan, sometimes in tiny “bases” with as few as a half-dozen soldiers.  Last December, I spent some time with a group of such soldiers in Zabul Province, but hardly wrote a word about them, yet. They were deep in wild country and it took two days for us to drive out to a paved road.  Those soldiers had no access to Internet, and said that on one occasion they didn’t even get mail for three months.

Until December, I used a satellite antenna called a “Regional BGAN” (R-BGAN) HNS-9101 to transmit dispatches from remote areas.  These small, portable systems are expensive; during a fifteen-day period last year, I spent almost exactly $5,000.  (Prices based on bandwidth usage.)

During late 2008, when I saw the group of a half-dozen American soldiers, out there in the boondocks, two days from a road and once going three months without mail, I told Mrs. Frankie Mayo, who runs Operation AC.  Frankie and Operation AC had sent loads of gear to Iraq, including air conditioners and generators.  When I told Frankie about the isolated soldiers, she got to work with Hughes to send R-BGANs to Afghanistan.

Lucky for me, with the old R-BGAN no longer usable, Hughes, through Frankie, shipped a newer model, the Hughes 9201 BGAN Inmarsat Terminal.  Many of this year’s dispatches will come through the 9201.

Without such a terminal, large numbers of Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors will be without regular communications for much or most of their time in Afghanistan.  The infrastructure is Spartan to non-existent.  Life here is tougher than it was in Iraq, and the fighting will be tougher still.  Yes, there are the gigantic bases—as in Iraq—where everything is available, but little of the war is being fought from the larger bases.

Extended battlefield journalism from Afghanistan is relatively non-existent.  Broadly speaking, folks at home will not know how their loved ones are doing unless they can communicate directly.  To learn more about the effort to send satellite communications gear to troops downrange, please see Operation AC.

http://www.operationac.com/index.html

 
27415  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Michael Yon in Afghanistan on: July 25, 2009, 09:28:52 AM
http://www.michaelyon-online.com/michael-s-dispatches/

Michael's Dispatches
SatComms for Soldiers
  25 July 2009
Sangin, Afghanistan

Have been out with British forces in the area of Sangin in northern Helmand Province.  This area appears to be turning into the main effort of the current fight in Afghanistan, but this is unclear to me at the moment.  I do know that air assets are heavy.  During our mission yesterday, a B-1 could be seen overhead, though it was miles high.  On the ground, this place is loaded with IEDs and there were many firefights during yesterday’s mission.   My section of eight soldiers did not fire a single round; we did not come into direct contact, though bullets sometimes zipped overhead.  Nearly all missions are conducted on foot and the soldiers like it that way.  I am with the British battalion called 2 Rifles.  The last mission I did with 2 Rifles was in Iraq, and they killed maybe 26-27 JAM members during that fight.  Yesterday they only killed two Taliban (Predator actually made the shot), but the mission was well run, and morale here is very high.  Everybody is ready to roll again and missions are near continuous.  I’ll ask British commanders to let me stay, though that might not be necessary because there are so few helicopters.  More likely I am stuck here.  FOB Jackson is probably going to be my Hotel California, but that’s all good because these are great soldiers, in the thick of it, and I want to stay.

More broadly speaking, our forces are spread to the high winds across desolate stretches of Afghanistan, sometimes in tiny “bases” with as few as a half-dozen soldiers.  Last December, I spent some time with a group of such soldiers in Zabul Province, but hardly wrote a word about them, yet. They were deep in wild country and it took two days for us to drive out to a paved road.  Those soldiers had no access to Internet, and said that on one occasion they didn’t even get mail for three months.

Until December, I used a satellite antenna called a “Regional BGAN” (R-BGAN) HNS-9101 to transmit dispatches from remote areas.  These small, portable systems are expensive; during a fifteen-day period last year, I spent almost exactly $5,000.  (Prices based on bandwidth usage.)

During late 2008, when I saw the group of a half-dozen American soldiers, out there in the boondocks, two days from a road and once going three months without mail, I told Mrs. Frankie Mayo, who runs Operation AC.  Frankie and Operation AC had sent loads of gear to Iraq, including air conditioners and generators.  When I told Frankie about the isolated soldiers, she got to work with Hughes to send R-BGANs to Afghanistan.

Lucky for me, with the old R-BGAN no longer usable, Hughes, through Frankie, shipped a newer model, the Hughes 9201 BGAN Inmarsat Terminal.  Many of this year’s dispatches will come through the 9201.

Without such a terminal, large numbers of Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors will be without regular communications for much or most of their time in Afghanistan.  The infrastructure is Spartan to non-existent.  Life here is tougher than it was in Iraq, and the fighting will be tougher still.  Yes, there are the gigantic bases—as in Iraq—where everything is available, but little of the war is being fought from the larger bases.

Extended battlefield journalism from Afghanistan is relatively non-existent.  Broadly speaking, folks at home will not know how their loved ones are doing unless they can communicate directly.  To learn more about the effort to send satellite communications gear to troops downrange, please see Operation AC.

http://www.operationac.com/index.html

 
27416  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Affliction finished. Fedor to UFC? on: July 25, 2009, 08:08:59 AM
Affliction folds promotion, will sponsor UFC
By Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports

  After promoting two critically acclaimed but financially disastrous mixed martial arts cards, Affliction on Friday first canceled its pay-per-view card scheduled for Aug. 1 and then opted to get out of the promotional business.

Affliction released a statement Friday evening in which it announced “a collaboration with the UFC.” It confirmed that it will cease operations as a fight promoter and that its clothing division will become a UFC sponsor.

“Our brand is synonymous with the ‘Live Fast’ approach to life and UFC is the perfect venue for us to market our brand. We have come to an agreement with the UFC which we feel will be the best for the sport and will help the UFC continue delivering the highest caliber of fights.” said Eric Foss, co-founder of Affliction.

Affliction had a card slated for Aug. 1 with a main event of Fedor Emelianenko, the No. 2 fighter in the Yahoo! Sports mixed martial arts rankings, against former UFC champion Josh Barnett at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

But Barnett tested positive for an anabolic steroid and on Tuesday was denied a license to fight by the California State Athletic Commission.

That left Affliction scrambling to find a replacement for Emelianenko. With no viable alternatives – the best was former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort, who was already down to 195 pounds for a scheduled middleweight fight – Affliction early Friday opted to scrap the show.

Later in the day, Affliction came to terms on a deal with the UFC in which it would quit promoting fight cards. The UFC is likely to absorb the contracts of all Affliction fighters except Emelianenko.

Emelianenko’s contractual status is not known, though UFC president Dana White said Friday he is trying to negotiate a deal with the Russian.

Multiple sources had indicated to Yahoo! Sports that Affliction was on the verge of a deal with Strikeforce for some sort of merger, but that fell apart in the last 24-48 hours. That’s when talks began anew between White and Affliction. They had spoken earlier in July about such a scenario, but were unable to come to a deal.
27417  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 25, 2009, 02:02:18 AM
As best as I can tell IMHO the Blue Dogs and the Reps are playing what was once said of Republican Sen. Bob Dole-- "tax collector for the welfare state".

In this case, they are trying to eliminate the worst stupidities but the cost is that they too become tied to this process-- AND they "improve" it for His Glibness.  The acede to the continuing trend to statism.

I would much rather they take up the ideological battle for free market orientation. 
27418  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 24, 2009, 05:53:49 PM
Also part the mix I think is that inside he feels the insecurity of the oreo.
27419  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Happy Birthday Guro Dan Inosanto on: July 24, 2009, 05:13:28 PM
Love, Honor, and Respect.  Always.
27420  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BP Agent Robert Rosas on: July 24, 2009, 02:15:22 PM
Acting Commissioner’s Message: Death of BPA Robert Rosas

It is with great sadness that Chief Aguilar and I share with you the tragic news of the murder of Border Patrol Agent Robert Rosas. Agent Rosas, age 30, entered on duty with the U.S. Border Patrol on May 22, 2006, and was assigned to the Campo Station in the San Diego Sector.

On July 23, 2009, Agent Rosas was shot and killed by unidentified assailants near Campo, California, after responding to suspicious activity in an area notorious for alien and drug smuggling.

Early reports indicate that Agent Rosas exited his vehicle approximately 18 miles east of the Tecate Port of Entry, near the Shockey Truck Trail, a short distance from the border. Agents working nearby heard gun shots and tried to contact Agent Rosas. When he did not respond, his fellow Agents rushed to the area to locate him, and found his body on the ground near his vehicle.

At this time, it is unknown where the shots originated or the whereabouts of the assailants. An international effort involving the FBI, ICE, the San Diego Sheriff’s Office, the Government of Mexico, and other partners is underway to locate and bring to justice the perpetrators of this atrocious act.

Agent Rosas is survived by his wife, Rosalie; a son, Robert, age 2; a daughter, Kayla Alisa, 11 months; and other family members.

The wearing of mourning bands is authorized and all CBP flags should be flown at half-staff from now until interment. Funeral arrangements are pending and will be relayed once confirmed.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Rosas family and all the friends and colleagues Agent Rosas leaves behind.

Jayson P. Ahern
Acting Commissioner
27421  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT editorial on Antibiotics fed to animals on: July 24, 2009, 10:03:57 AM
Even though this is the NYT, it makes sense to me.
====================================

Farms and Antibiotics Sign in to Recommend
          Published: July 23, 2009

The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that 70 percent of the antibiotics used in this country are fed to farm animals. These animals do not receive these drugs the way humans do — as discrete short-term doses. Agricultural antibiotics are a regular feed supplement intended to increase growth and lessen the chance of infection in crowded, industrial farms.

These practices are putting both humans and animals increasingly at risk. In an environment where antibiotics are omnipresent, as they are in industrial agriculture, antibiotic-resistant strains of diseases quickly develop, reducing the effectiveness of common drugs like penicillin and tetracycline.

Despite that danger, the Food and Drug Administration had been reluctant to restrict routine agricultural use of antibiotics. The F.D.A.’s principal deputy commissioner, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, signaled a welcome change in direction recently, testifying on behalf of a new bill, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act. It would allow veterinarians to prescribe antibiotics to treat individual animals or prevent disease, but it would sharply restrict the routine feeding of antibiotics to farm animals — the practice most closely associated with the development of drug-resistant pathogens.

The legislation is drawing strong opposition from the farm lobby since the restrictions would make it much harder for industrial farms to crowd thousands of animals together in confined, inhumane and unhealthy quarters. But the current practice is dangerously self-defeating: treating more and more animals with less and less effective drugs and in turn creating resistant strains of disease that persist in the soil and water. Congress should stop this now before an entire class of drugs becomes useless.
27422  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / OTC supplements said to contain steroids on: July 24, 2009, 10:00:35 AM
y MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT and NATASHA SINGER
Published: July 23, 2009
Two over-the-counter dietary supplements that anti-doping officials say are popular among high school football players contain steroids, according to court papers filed by federal authorities on Thursday.

The supplements, Tren Xtreme and Mass Xtreme, are manufactured by American Cellular Labs and marketed as a “potent legal alternative to” steroids. But authorities alleged in search warrants executed on Thursday that the supplements contain illegal man-made steroids, also known as designer steroids. One of the substances is Madol, which was first identified six years ago during the investigation into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative.

The authorities said that Max Muscle, a walk-in supplement store with about 100 locations nation-wide, paid American Cellular Labs to be the exclusive retailer of these products, which could also be purchased on the Internet.

Maurice Sandoval, identified in the court documents as American Cellular’s chief executive, said in a telephone interview that he never personally sold steroids but declined to comment on whether the company had sold steroids. He said he sold the company last year but that a paperwork error kept his name on the company.

Someone who answered the phone Thursday at Max Muscle’s corporate office in Anaheim, Calif., said no one was available to comment on how many Max Muscle stores carried the American Cellular products. “This is not our product,” said the man, who would not give his name and hung up.

On Thursday, the Web site of a Max Muscle outlet in Des Moines was offering a promotion of Tren Xtreme for free, but a salesman who answered the phone there said the store no longer sold the brand.

Travis Tygart, the head of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, said the substance helped athletes quickly gain muscle mass and strength.

“This is the supplement of choice for high school football players, and we have heard that from more than one source,” Tygart said. “It’s one of the more popular dietary supplements for these athletes because it works.”

Tygart declined to estimate how many high school athletes had used the product.

The investigation into American Cellular Labs is led by Jeff Novitzky, an agent for the Food and Drug Administration, and prosecutors from the United States attorney’s office for the Northern District of California. Since 2002, Novitzky has become the face of the government’s investigations into the distribution of performance-enhancing drugs.

The F.D.A. did not return calls seeking comment on the investigation.

The search warrants were executed at a Muscle Max store in the Castro section of San Francisco and at Sandoval’s residence in Pacifica, Calif. Another search warrant was executed on the office of WVM Global Incorporated, in Lake Forest, Calif., which authorities believe is an associated business to American Cellular.

The F.D.A. has jurisdiction over dietary supplements, defined as products that can offer general health benefits but cannot claim to treat specific diseases or symptoms.

Manufacturers of dietary supplements are responsible for ensuring and documenting the safety and efficacy claims of their products. According to the law governing dietary supplements, the F.D.A. is empowered to act only in cases when it identifies a harmful or adulterated product that is already on sale.

But if federal authorities find a supplement to contain an undeclared active pharmaceutical ingredient like a steroid, the agency considers the product to be an illegal, unapproved drug.

Illegal steroids are of particular concern in preteen and teenage boys, doctors said, because artificially high levels of testosterone can stop their bones from growing.

Steroids are organic compounds, like hormones, naturally produced by the body. They are also used as legal drugs to treat conditions like testosterone deficiency. Athletes have also used illegal forms of steroids for performance enhancement.

Investigators grew concerned over sports products made by American Cellular Labs after the F.D.A. received reports of severe liver and kidney problems in people who had used the two products, according to court documents.

In one case, a liver transplant doctor reported that a 38-year-old male patient who had used these products was later hospitalized with severe liver dysfunction and acute kidney failure which needed to be treated with dialysis, the documents said.

Legal steroid drugs come with health risks. But unknowingly taking supplements that contain illegal compounded steroids is even riskier because such drugs entail unknown risks, said Dr. Pieter Cohen, an instructor at the Harvard Medical School who is studying the dangers of adulterated dietary supplements.

For example, when doctors prescribe testosterone for men who have a testosterone deficiency, physicians monitor the patients closely because such steroids can lead to higher-than-normal hormone levels, potentially putting patients at risk for prostate cancer.

But taking designer steroids in a sports supplement is even more dangerous for people, he said, because these compounds have not been studied for safety.

“It’s placing the consumer at very serious risk of harm because there is absolutely no research showing that this new compound is safe in humans,” said Cohen, a general internist at the Cambridge Health Alliance, a network of public hospitals in Massachusetts. “We do have evidence that, in the past, analogs of pharmaceutical compounds have led to unexpected life-threatening disease such as liver failure that required transplantation.”
27423  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: Elections in Afg. on: July 24, 2009, 09:53:34 AM
HERAT, Afghanistan — When Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the main election challenger to President Hamid Karzai, arrived here to campaign last weekend, thousands of supporters choked the six-mile drive from the airport. Cars were plastered with his posters. Motorbikes flew blue banners. Young men wearing T-shirts emblazoned with his face leapt aboard his car to embrace him to ecstatic cheers.


Top, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the main challenger to President Hamid Karzai, arriving in Herat last Friday to campaign. Thousands turned out to greet him, in a sign of his growing support.

 
A presidential rival has support in Herat and in the north.

With only a month to go, Dr. Abdullah has started his campaign late, but in its first two weeks he has canvassed six provinces and drawn growing support and larger crowds than expected. Rapturous welcomes like this one have suddenly elevated him to the status of potential future president.

“I have no doubt that people want change,” Dr. Abdullah said in an interview after a tumultuous day campaigning in Herat, in western Afghanistan, adding that his momentum was just building. “Today they are hopeful that change can come.”

Mr. Karzai is still widely considered the front-runner in the campaign for the Aug. 20 presidential election. But Dr. Abdullah, who has the backing of the largest opposition group, the National Front, is the one candidate among the field of 41 who has a chance of forcing Mr. Karzai into a runoff, a contest between the top two vote-getters if no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the votes in the first balloting.

Already well known among most Afghans, Dr. Abdullah, 48, an ophthalmologist, has a background that includes years of resistance to Soviet and Taliban rule as well as a crucial role in the formation of the new democratic government after the American intervention.

A dapper dresser, wearing traditional Afghan clothes under a variety of Western tailored jackets, he combines solidarity with the former resistance fighters with the moderation of the Afghan intellectual, giving him potentially broad appeal.

After serving as foreign minister in Mr. Karzai’s government for five years, he left in 2006 and has since become a strong critic of the president’s leadership. He refused an offer to become Mr. Karzai’s running mate, and he contends that the president practices a policy of divide and rule that has polarized the country.

Today, Dr. Abdullah, with a diplomat and a surgeon as his running mates, is seen as part of a younger generation of Afghans keen to move away from the nation’s reliance on warlords and older mujahedeen leaders and to clean up and recast the practice of governing.

To do that, he advocates the devolution of power from the strong presidency built up under Mr. Karzai to a parliamentary system that he says will be more representative. He is also calling for a system of electing officials for Afghanistan’s 34 provinces and nearly 400 districts as a way to build support for the government.

Those provincial governors are now appointed from Kabul, and many have been criticized for cronyism and corruption. Influential Shiite clerics here in Herat, who supported Mr. Karzai in the last election in 2004, are now so fed up with corrupt appointees that they have said they will back Dr. Abdullah this time.

Re-engaging the people is essential to reverse the lawlessness and insecurity that have reached a critical point in much of the country, Dr. Abdullah said. “They have managed to lose the people,” he said of the current government. “In fighting an insurgency, you lose the people and you lose the war.”

Before several thousand people in Herat’s sports stadium, he raised the biggest cheer with his promise to build up Afghan institutions so that foreign troops could go home soon.

He also promised to curb the rampant corruption and review foreign assistance programs to ensure that they focused on grass-roots development and addressed poverty and unemployment. In his public meetings, he emphasized support for the rights of women, the unemployed, the disabled and the victims of war.

He said he would work seriously toward reconciliation with the Taliban, calling the current process a “joke.” Yet in an interview he retained his longtime opposition to the Taliban leadership and said he doubted that the Taliban leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, was ready to negotiate for peace.

This is only the second national presidential election in Afghanistan’s history, and political analysts warn that it is virtually impossible to predict how the election will go or to read voters’ intentions. Diplomats calculating the numbers of the various factions that have come out in support of Mr. Karzai say that he will just scrape back in, thanks largely to the support from the largest ethnic group, his fellow Pashtuns.

Yet two opinion polls conducted this year suggested that Mr. Karzai had lost considerable support since his 2004 victory with 55 percent of the vote. One of those polls, conducted in May by the International Republican Institute, a nonprofit pro-democracy group, showed that Mr. Karzai’s support was down to 31 percent. While only 7 percent said they would vote for Dr. Abdullah, the poll indicated that the election would have to go to a second round.

People interviewed in Herat also spoke of a shift in the public mood. “Karzai has governed for eight years and all the problems have increased, not decreased,” said Hosseini, 47, a farmer who uses one name and who traveled to the city to hear Dr. Abdullah speak.

Although Dr. Abdullah has significant support in the north and the large population centers, he will have difficulty campaigning in the south, where the insurgency makes movement virtually impossible.

And although he may tap into the desire for change after nearly eight years of Mr. Karzai’s rule, supporters and analysts say Mr. Karzai will still dominate in his Pashtun homeland in Kandahar, in the south.

Dr. Abdullah also claims heritage from Kandahar through his father, Ghulam Muhayuddine Khan, a Pashtun who was a senator in the 1970s. Yet he is far better known for his connection to the northern Panjshir Valley, through his mother and his close relationship with the famous resistance commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, who fought both the Russian occupation and the Taliban.

Dr. Abdullah dismissed suggestions that he could not raise support in the Pashtun south and said that support for Mr. Karzai in the area had dropped drastically as security had worsened and more people had joined the insurgency. “Southern Afghanistan has nearly announced jihad against Karzai,” he said.
27424  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Michael Yon in Afghanistan on: July 24, 2009, 08:34:07 AM
Greetings,

Am back in the thick of it.  The area of Sangin, in Helmand Province, is very dangerous.  British officers say there are more IEDs here than anywhere else in Afghanistan.  Many casualties from this immediate vicinity.  One soldier that I talked with today got knocked down two days ago by an IED.  I have to shout while talking with him.  He can hardly hear a thing.  He's been blasted four times: twice in Iraq, and that was his second time here.  Will be walking back into combat with him.

Am with an excellent British unit that I was with in Basra, Iraq.  Anticipate immediate combat.  Resupply helicopter was shot down here in last week or so, just near the perimeter.  Soldiers here saw the helicopter crash and burn, killing all aboard.  My helicopter flight made it in with no problems, but this remains a potentially hot LZ.

Meanwhile, please see the final photo-dispatch from Ghor Province.

Your support is crucial.

--
Very Respectfully,

Michael Yon
27425  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 24, 2009, 02:27:18 AM
Interesting.

Is there any "health status insurance" currently available?
27426  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: July 24, 2009, 02:25:22 AM
BBG: 

I particularly liked the Over-criminalization post(s).
27427  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Inquiring minds want to know , , , on: July 24, 2009, 02:23:31 AM
Open Letter to President Obama on Healthcare and the Economy


Dear Mr. President,

Wednesday evening we heard you address the nation on health care and the economy. I was hoping to hear some tough answers to tough questions. Instead we were treated to one hour of tap dancing on eggshells where it seemed your primary intent was not to break any eggs.

You spoke of the need for sacrifices but failed to mention any. You said Medicare benefits would not be reduced and everyone would be covered.

Mr. President where are the sacrifices? By who? (sic)

The press seemed concerned with a fear of rationed health care. Some republicans have raised the issue as well.

Mr. President I am concerned there will be no rationing of health care. It is axiomatic that there is unlimited demand for free services.

Here are some tougher questions I am sure everyone would like to know.



Will the plan cover a transplant procedure with a $50,000 cost for someone who is 80 years old with a life expectancy of two years? One year? Who decides? Or is everything free for everyone regardless of the odds of success?

Will the plan cover fertility treatments? Abortion?
Will the plan address issues that arose in the Terri Schiavo case?
To what extent must doctors provide generics instead of prescription drugs?


Mr. President, is health care free or subsidized for illegal aliens? Aren't free services one of the primary reasons we have such a problem in the first place?

Mr. President, unless something is done to rein in costs taxpayers will be footing the bill for a lot of things they shouldn't. In every country that has a single payer system, there is some degree of rationing.

Somehow you have us believe benefits will not be reduced, everything will be covered for everyone, there will be no rationing and somehow health care will cost less because of reduced paperwork. Mr. President, no one believes that, not even the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Mr. President, to prevent costs from spiraling out of control rationing is mandatory. Unfortunately, you do not have the courage to admit it. Yet until you do, it can't happen.

Mr. President, a heart operation in the US might cost $100,000 whereas the same operation in India, in a world class hospital might cost $20,000. Will we fly people to India for non-emergency medical operations if they save taxpayer money? If not, why not? Shouldn't the primary concern be getting the most benefits for the least cost?

Mr. President, you noted that the AARP and doctor's groups were in favor of your plan. You failed to mention the $245 billion "sweetener" it took to get them to do so. Moreover, you did not even count that $245 billion while calling your plan "budget neutral".

Mr. President, with numerous states blowing up over the issue, it should be clear the US cannot afford the defined benefit programs promised government workers. Starting with Congress, what is your proposal pension reform?

Similarly, when does Congress share the pain of this recession?

Mr. President, you called the cancellation of additional F-22 planes a victory. This strikes me as odd given the Pentagon does not even want more of them. Why is canceling a military program that the military does not want such a big victory?

Mr. President, the savings on the F-22 program is $2 billion. The 2010 Pentagon budget is $534 billion, a $21 billion, four percent increase over 2009. Total defense spending is $780 billion. Mr. President, is this sustainable?

Mr. President, history is replete with examples of great nations spending themselves into oblivion attempting to maintain their empires. It should be crystal clear the US can no longer afford to be the world's policeman. So, Mr. President, when will you start bringing the troops home from Europe, Japan, and the Mid-East?

Mr. President, I did not vote for you nor did I vote for Senator McCain. I voted for Ron Paul. However, I did expect and frequently said that I expected you to get some things correct.

Instead, I see you carrying out the same failed stimulus and bailout plans of President Bush. You promised transparency on spending and did not deliver.

The proposal to Audit The Fed is languishing in Congress even though it has overwhelming support of both Congress and the public. You broke a promise to release details of military torture. Where are significant charges against anyone? I was positive you would handle the torture issue correctly, but I was wrong.

Mr. President, you placed your faith in the same set of folks at the Fed and Treasury as President Bush, in spite of the fact they all failed to see this coming.

Mr. President it frequently appears as if Goldman Sachs is running your administration just as it ran the last.

Mr. President, other than a sketchy health care plane with no details and no cost constraints, exactly what change have you delivered?

Thank you Mr. President, now can we have some answers please?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
27428  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 23, 2009, 05:34:17 PM
Isn't there a separation of powers issue here too?
27429  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tw questions on: July 23, 2009, 05:12:35 PM
Question 1: What is done and what should be done about people with pre-existing conditions looking for health care?

Question 2:  Is/should an insurance company be allowed to discontinue someone who develops a problem?
27430  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: September 20, 2009 Gathering on: July 23, 2009, 12:58:38 PM
Ryoga Vee of Baltic Dog's Bay Area Clan of the DBs is now registered.
27431  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Not sure what to make of this , , , on: July 23, 2009, 12:52:23 PM
Hello,

My name is Kristen and I am a Casting Producer for the ABC hit reality show 'Wife Swap.' We are currently casting for our fifth season and we are looking for Ultimate Fighters and their families. We want to feature a family with at least one member is on or dreams of being on UFC Circuit. We think this is a great opportunity to feature the sport and have fun for the whole family.

The premise of Wife Swap is simple: for seven days, two wives from two different families with very different values exchange husbands, children and lives (but not bedrooms) to discover what it's like to live a different family's life. It's an interesting social experiment and a great way to see your family in a whole new light. It is shot as a documentary series, so NO scripts and no set. It's just one camera that is documenting your life.

Families that appear on the show will receive a financial honorarium for lost wages, time and commitment. And if you refer a family that appears on the show you would receive $1000.Here at 'Wife Swap' we look for a two-parent home with at least one child between the ages of 6 and 17 living at home full time.

If you are interested, please email me your contact information and tell me a little about your family. Or if you would like to refer a family, please email me their contact information and I will be in touch.

Thank you!

Kristen Phelan

Casting Associate Producer
RDF Media USA
100 6th Ave, 3rd Floor,Suite 3-29
NY, NY 10013
P: 646.747.7936
E: Casting.Kristen@gmail.com

 
27432  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison; Federalist 51 on: July 23, 2009, 10:00:26 AM
Good one there from Madison Freki.


"How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?" --James Madison

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

"Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and ever will be pursued until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit."

--Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788
27433  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Study: 3 vs. 1 in BC on: July 21, 2009, 11:54:36 AM
Here's the second link I meant to post:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WB3JUGqc5k4

For the moment I offer this to the mix:
===========


How long has fight been going on? What we see here is 2:10, but fight is already in progress. (interview sheds a bit of light) Once again we see importance of conditioning. Several minutes of adrenal pump against three guys out of the clear blue is not something any Joe Blow can do. Black Guy, a lefty (right lead) seems to have some experience with boxing lateral footwork. How many untrained people would produce this? Pretty good job of positioning so that only one White Guy can get to him at a time. Lack of will to close by WGs certainly helps. Is there anything he can do better?


0:51 Three abreast by WGs with stage right shut off presents B. with trouble for a moment. He must exert himself here. Good conditioning. Breaks left and is in empty parking space between two cars.

1:00 Shirt forces the range. Could B. have angled better here with Left Lead?

1:10 et seq. Would B. have been better continuing away from camera? Or is he trying to work his way home?

1:15 B. gets caught by left lead jab. Shirt loses shoe on kick.

1:17 How should B. have gotten up in this moment? As Wolf Pack closes, B. seems to think about a take down. Training? Instinctive?.

1:22 The dog (some sort of terrier?) which has been barking and randomly seen on camera throughout, gets within biting range. With his head on the other side of WG on ground, how aware is B. of dog? Good thing he doesn't actually bite!

1:30 Two cars enter scene. By accident or on purpose? Either way, this seems to tip WGs into leaving. Should B. have followed them at this point? As he approaches he catches a right hook at the car door AND he leaves his back to shirt (who has been putting his shoe back on.

1:36 Dog engages to little effect. Good thing he is too short to bite B's genitals.

1:40 B. declares that this is his turf? Shirt, shoe now on, starts to approach but his buds are ready to leave and call their dog into truck at 1:49

1:57 Fat woman approaches? Known? Unknown? If unknown, how should B handle her at this point?
 
 
 

27434  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 21, 2009, 10:37:04 AM
By the way, speaking of Cheney CCP, remember how the Dems and the Pravdas went after him for "secret meetings with Big Oil"?

Where are they now that Big Pharma and His Glibness are meeting in private to discuss the health care plan?
27435  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Latin America on: July 21, 2009, 10:34:15 AM
I see that Hillary made a phone call to the Honduran president telling him he better negotiate with the wannabe strongman that they threw out or we will cut off all sorts of aid. 

I'm so glad we elected His Glibness and no longer interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.
27436  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington on: July 21, 2009, 08:13:58 AM
"The best and only safe road to honor, glory, and true dignity is justice."

--George Washington letter to Marquis de Lafayette, September 30, 1779
27437  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Sun spots on: July 21, 2009, 07:53:22 AM

ANOTHER VIEW These photographs show an ultraviolet view of the Sun on the same days: July 19, 2000, left, and March 18, 2009, right. Most solar physicists do not think anything odd is going on with the Sun.

Ever since Samuel Heinrich Schwabe, a German astronomer, first noted in 1843 that sunspots burgeon and wane over a roughly 11-year cycle, scientists have carefully watched the Sun’s activity. In the latest lull, the Sun should have reached its calmest, least pockmarked state last fall.

Indeed, last year marked the blankest year of the Sun in the last half-century — 266 days with not a single sunspot visible from Earth. Then, in the first four months of 2009, the Sun became even more blank, the pace of sunspots slowing more.

“It’s been as dead as a doornail,” David Hathaway, a solar physicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., said a couple of months ago.

The Sun perked up in June and July, with a sizeable clump of 20 sunspots earlier this month.

Now it is blank again, consistent with expectations that this solar cycle will be smaller and calmer, and the maximum of activity, expected to arrive in May 2013 will not be all that maximum.

For operators of satellites and power grids, that is good news. The same roiling magnetic fields that generate sunspot blotches also accelerate a devastating rain of particles that can overload and wreck electronic equipment in orbit or on Earth.

A panel of 12 scientists assembled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now predicts that the May 2013 peak will average 90 sunspots during that month. That would make it the weakest solar maximum since 1928, which peaked at 78 sunspots. During an average solar maximum, the Sun is covered with an average of 120 sunspots.

But the panel’s consensus “was not a unanimous decision,” said Douglas A. Biesecker, chairman of the panel. One member still believed the cycle would roar to life while others thought the maximum would peter out at only 70.

Among some global warming skeptics, there is speculation that the Sun may be on the verge of falling into an extended slumber similar to the so-called Maunder Minimum, several sunspot-scarce decades during the 17th and 18th centuries that coincided with an extended chilly period.

Most solar physicists do not think anything that odd is going on with the Sun. With the recent burst of sunspots, “I don’t see we’re going into that,” Dr. Hathaway said last week.

Still, something like the Dalton Minimum — two solar cycles in the early 1800s that peaked at about an average of 50 sunspots — lies in the realm of the possible, Dr. Hathaway said. (The minimums are named after scientists who helped identify them: Edward W. Maunder and John Dalton.)

With better telescopes on the ground and a fleet of Sun-watching spacecraft, solar scientists know a lot more about the Sun than ever before. But they do not understand everything. Solar dynamo models, which seek to capture the dynamics of the magnetic field, cannot yet explain many basic questions, not even why the solar cycles average 11 years in length.

Predicting the solar cycle is, in many ways, much like predicting the stock market. A full understanding of the forces driving solar dynamics is far out of reach, so scientists look to key indicators that correlate with future events and create models based on those.

For example, in 2006, Dr. Hathaway looked at the magnetic fields in the polar regions of the Sun, and they were strong. During past cycles, strong polar fields at minimum grew into strong fields all over the Sun at maximum and a bounty of sunspots. Because the previous cycle had been longer than average, Dr. Hathaway thought the next one would be shorter and thus solar minimum was imminent. He predicted the new solar cycle would be a ferocious one.

Instead, the new cycle did not arrive as quickly as Dr. Hathaway anticipated, and the polar field weakened. His revised prediction is for a smaller-than-average maximum. Last November, it looked like the new cycle was finally getting started, with the new cycle sunspots in the middle latitudes outnumbering the old sunspots of the dying cycle that are closer to the equator.

After a minimum, solar activity usually takes off quickly, but instead the Sun returned to slumber. “There was a long lull of several months of virtually no activity, which had me worried,” Dr. Hathaway said.


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The idea that solar cycles are related to climate is hard to fit with the actual change in energy output from the sun. From solar maximum to solar minimum, the Sun’s energy output drops a minuscule 0.1 percent.

But the overlap of the Maunder Minimum with the Little Ice Age, when Europe experienced unusually cold weather, suggests that the solar cycle could have more subtle influences on climate.

One possibility proposed a decade ago by Henrik Svensmark and other scientists at the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen looks to high-energy interstellar particles known as cosmic rays. When cosmic rays slam into the atmosphere, they break apart air molecules into ions and electrons, which causes water and sulfuric acid in the air to stick together in tiny droplets. These droplets are seeds that can grow into clouds, and clouds reflect sunlight, potentially lowering temperatures.

The Sun, the Danish scientists say, influences how many cosmic rays impinge on the atmosphere and thus the number of clouds. When the Sun is frenetic, the solar wind of charged particles it spews out increases. That expands the cocoon of magnetic fields around the solar system, deflecting some of the cosmic rays.

But, according to the hypothesis, when the sunspots and solar winds die down, the magnetic cocoon contracts, more cosmic rays reach Earth, more clouds form, less sunlight reaches the ground, and temperatures cool.

“I think it’s an important effect,” Dr. Svensmark said, although he agrees that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that has certainly contributed to recent warming.

Dr. Svensmark and his colleagues found a correlation between the rate of incoming cosmic rays and the coverage of low-level clouds between 1984 and 2002. They have also found that cosmic ray levels, reflected in concentrations of various isotopes, correlate well with climate extending back thousands of years.

But other scientists found no such pattern with higher clouds, and some other observations seem inconsistent with the hypothesis.

Terry Sloan, a cosmic ray expert at the University of Lancaster in England, said if the idea were true, one would expect the cloud-generation effect to be greatest in the polar regions where the Earth’s magnetic field tends to funnel cosmic rays.

“You’d expect clouds to be modulated in the same way,” Dr. Sloan said. “We can’t find any such behavior.”

Still, “I would think there could well be some effect,” he said, but he thought the effect was probably small. Dr. Sloan’s findings indicate that the cosmic rays could at most account for 20 percent of the warming of recent years.

Even without cosmic rays, however, a 0.1 percent change in the Sun’s energy output is enough to set off El Niño- and La Niña-like events that can influence weather around the world, according to new research led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

Climate modeling showed that over the largely cloud-free areas of the Pacific Ocean, the extra heating over several years warms the water, increasing evaporation. That intensifies the tropical storms and trade winds in the eastern Pacific, and the result is cooler-than-normal waters, as in a La Niña event, the scientists reported this month in the Journal of Climate.

In a year or two, the cool water pattern evolves into a pool of El Niño-like warm water, the scientists said.

New instruments should provide more information for scientists to work with. A 1.7-meter telescope at the Big Bear Solar Observatory in Southern California is up and running, and one of its first photographs shows “a string of pearls,” each about 50 miles across.

“At that scale, they can only be the fundamental fibril structure of the Sun’s magnetic field,” said Philip R. Goode, director of the solar observatory. Other telescopes may have caught hints of these tiny structures, he said, but “never so many in a row and not so clearly resolved.”

Sun-watching spacecraft cannot match the acuity of ground-based telescopes, but they can see wavelengths that are blocked by the atmosphere — and there are never any clouds in the way. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s newest sun-watching spacecraft, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, which is scheduled for launching this fall, will carry an instrument that will essentially be able to take sonograms that deduce the convection flows generating the magnetic fields.

That could help explain why strong magnetic fields sometimes coalesce into sunspots and why sometimes the strong fields remain disorganized without forming spots. The mechanics of how solar storms erupt out of a sunspot are also not fully understood.

A quiet cycle is no guarantee no cataclysmic solar storms will occur. The largest storm ever observed occurred in 1859, during a solar cycle similar to what is predicted.

Back then, it scrambled telegraph wires. Today, it could knock out an expanse of the power grid from Maine south to Georgia and west to Illinois. Ten percent of the orbiting satellites would be disabled. A study by the National Academy of Sciences calculated the damage would exceed a trillion dollars.

But no one can quite explain the current behavior or reliably predict the future.

“We still don’t quite understand this beast,” Dr. Hathaway said. “The theories we had for how the sunspot cycle works have major problems.”
27438  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: Iqbal case makes for important changes on: July 21, 2009, 07:23:27 AM
The most consequential decision of the Supreme Court’s last term got only a little attention when it landed in May. And what attention it got was for the wrong reason.

But the lower courts have certainly understood the significance of the decision, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, which makes it much easier for judges to dismiss civil lawsuits right after they are filed. They have cited it more than 500 times in just the last two months.

“Iqbal is the most significant Supreme Court decision in a decade for day-to-day litigation in the federal courts,” said Thomas C. Goldstein, an appellate lawyer with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington.

On its face, the Iqbal decision concerned the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. The court ruled that a Muslim man swept up on immigration charges could not sue two Bush administration officials for what he said was the terrible abuse he suffered in detention.

But something much deeper and broader was going on in the decision, something that may unsettle how civil litigation is conducted in the United States. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who dissented from the decision, told a group of federal judges last month that the ruling was both important and dangerous. “In my view,” Justice Ginsburg said, “the court’s majority messed up the federal rules” governing civil litigation.

For more than half a century, it has been clear that all a plaintiff had to do to start a lawsuit was to file what the rules call “a short and plain statement of the claim” in a document called a complaint. Having filed such a bare-bones complaint, plaintiffs were entitled to force defendants to open their files and submit to questioning under oath.

This approach, particularly when coupled with the American requirement that each side pay its own lawyers no matter who wins, gave plaintiffs settlement leverage. Just by filing a lawsuit, a plaintiff could subject a defendant to great cost and inconvenience in the pre-trial fact-finding process called discovery.

Mark Herrmann, a corporate defense lawyer with Jones Day in Chicago, said the Iqbal decision will allow for the dismissal of cases that would otherwise have subjected defendants to millions of dollars in discovery costs. On the other hand, information about wrongdoing is often secret. Plaintiffs claiming they were the victims of employment discrimination, a defective product, an antitrust conspiracy or a policy of harsh treatment in detention may not know exactly who harmed them and how before filing suit. But plaintiffs can learn valuable information during discovery.

The Iqbal decision now requires plaintiffs to come forward with concrete facts at the outset, and it instructs lower court judges to dismiss lawsuits that strike them as implausible.

“Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the five-justice majority, “requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.”

Note those words: Plausible. Common sense.

The old world was mechanical. A lawsuit that mouthed the required words was off and running. As the Supreme Court said in 1957 in Conley v. Gibson, a lawsuit should be allowed to go forward “unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.” Things started to change two years ago, when the Supreme Court found a complaint in an antitrust suit implausible.

In the new world, after Iqbal, a lawsuit has to satisfy a skeptical judicial gatekeeper.

“It obviously licenses highly subjective judgments,” said Stephen B. Burbank, an authority on civil procedure at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. “This is a blank check for federal judges to get rid of cases they disfavor.”

Courts applying Iqbal have been busy. A federal judge in Connecticut dismissed a disability discrimination suit this month, saying that Iqbal required her to treat the plaintiff’s assertions as implausible. A few days later, the federal appeals court in New York dismissed a breach of contract and securities fraud suit after concluding that its account of the defendants’ asserted wrongdoing was too speculative.

The judge hearing the claims of the falsely accused Duke lacrosse players has asked for briefing on whether their lawsuit against Durham, N.C., can pass muster under Iqbal. But the judge considering a case against John C. Yoo, the former Bush administration lawyer, said it could move forward despite Iqbal because the suit contained specific allegations about Mr. Yoo’s conduct in justifying the use of harsh interrogation methods.

In the Iqbal case itself, Javaid Iqbal, a Pakistani Muslim who was working as a cable television installer on Long Island, said he was subjected to intrusive searches and vicious beatings after being arrested on identity fraud charges two months after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Justice Kennedy said Mr. Iqbal’s suit against two officials had not cleared the plausibility bar. All Mr. Iqbal’s complaint plausibly suggested, Justice Kennedy wrote, “is that the nation’s top law enforcement officers, in the aftermath of a devastating terrorist attack, sought to keep suspected terrorists in the most secure conditions available.”

Justice David H. Souter, said the majority had adopted a crabbed view of plausibility and had in the process upended the civil litigation system.

In his dissent in Iqbal, Justice Souter wrote that judges should accept the accusations in a complaint as true “no matter how skeptical the court may be.”

“The sole exception to this rule,” Justice Souter continued, “lies with allegations that are sufficiently fantastic to defy reality as we know it: claims about little green men, or the plaintiff’s recent trip to Pluto, or experiences in time travel.”

But that is no longer the law. Under the Iqbal decision, federal judges will now decide at the very start of a litigation whether the plaintiff’s accusations ring true, and they will close the courthouse door if they do not.
27439  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Home Burial on: July 21, 2009, 07:19:22 AM
PETERBOROUGH, N.H. — When Nathaniel Roe, 92, died at his 18th-century farmhouse here the morning of June 6, his family did not call a funeral home to handle the arrangements.


The home funeral for Nathaniel Roe, 92, who died in Peterborough, N.H., on June 6. His family handled the arrangements.

Instead, Mr. Roe’s children, like a growing number of people nationwide, decided to care for their father in death as they had in the last months of his life. They washed Mr. Roe’s body, dressed him in his favorite Harrods tweed jacket and red Brooks Brothers tie and laid him on a bed so family members could privately say their last goodbyes.

The next day, Mr. Roe was placed in a pine coffin made by his son, along with a tuft of wool from the sheep he once kept. He was buried on his farm in a grove off a walking path he traversed each day.

“It just seemed like the natural, loving way to do things,” said Jennifer Roe-Ward, Mr. Roe’s granddaughter. “It let him have his dignity.”

Advocates say the number of home funerals, where everything from caring for the dead to the visiting hours to the building of the coffin is done at home, has soared in the last five years, putting the funerals “where home births were 30 years ago,” according to Chuck Lakin, a home funeral proponent and coffin builder in Waterville, Me.

The cost savings can be substantial, all the more important in an economic downturn. The average American funeral costs about $6,000 for the services of a funeral home, in addition to the costs of cremation or burial. A home funeral can be as inexpensive as the cost of pine for a coffin (for a backyard burial) or a few hundred dollars for cremation or several hundred dollars for cemetery costs.

The Roes spent $250.

More people are inquiring about the lower-cost options, said Joshua Slocum, director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, a nonprofit watchdog group. “Home funerals aren’t for everybody, but if there’s not enough money to pay the mortgage, there certainly isn’t enough money to pay for a funeral,” Mr. Slocum said.

Baby boomers who are handling arrangements for the first time are particularly looking for a more intimate experience.

“It’s organic and informal, and it’s on our terms,” said Nancy Manahan of Minneapolis, who helped care for her sister-in-law, Diane Manahan, after she died of cancer in 2001, and was a co-author of a book, “Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully,” about the experience. “It’s not having strangers intruding into the privacy of the family. It’s not outsourcing the dying process to professionals.”

While only a tiny portion of the nation’s dead are cared for at home, the number is growing. There are at least 45 organizations or individuals nationwide that help families with the process, compared with only two in 2002, Mr. Slocum said.

The cost of a death midwife, as some of the coaches call themselves, varies from about $200 for an initial consultation to $3,000 if the midwife needs to travel.

In Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska and New York, laws require that a funeral director handle human remains at some point in the process. In the 44 other states and the District of Columbia, loved ones can be responsible for the body themselves.

Families are typically required to obtain the death certificate and a burial transit permit so the body can be moved from a hospital to a cemetery, or, more typically, a crematory.

But even in states where a funeral director is required, home funerals are far less expensive.

“I think with our economy being the way that it currently is, and it’s getting worse, that many people who may not have chosen to do these types of things may be forced to because of the finances,” said Verlene McLemore, of Detroit, who held a home funeral for her son, Dean, in 2007. She spent about $1,300 for a funeral director’s services.

Some families, like the Roes, choose burial on private land, with a town permit. In most states, those rules are an issue of local control. “Can Grandma be buried in the backyard? Yes, for the most part if the backyard is rural or semirural,” said Mr. Slocum.

(Some members of Michael Jackson’s family have spoken of making Neverland Ranch near Santa Barbara the singer’s final resting place, but officials say no one has submitted an application to the California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau, which would have to approve the home burial.)

Recently, some states, with the backing of the funeral industry, have considered restricting the practice of home funerals. Oregon legislators last month passed a bill that would require death midwives to be licensed, something no state currently does.

Many death midwives are like Jerrigrace Lyons, who was asked to participate in the home funeral of a close friend, a 54-year-old woman who died unexpectedly in 1994. Ms. Lyons was initially frightened at the prospect of handling the body, but she participated anyway.

The experience was life changing, she said, and inspired her to help others plan home funerals. She opened Final Passages in Sebastopol, Calif., in 1995 and said she had helped more than 300 families with funerals. Weekend workshops for those interested in home funerals have a waiting list.

Ms. Lyons educates the bereaved about the realities of after-death care: placing dry ice underneath the body to keep it cool, tying the jaw shut so it does not open.

Mr. Lakin, a woodworker, makes coffins specifically for home funerals. Ranging in price from $480 to $1,200, they double as bookcases, entertainment centers and coffee tables until they need to be used.

He became interested in home funerals after his father died 30 years ago and he felt there was a “disconnect” during the funeral process. Mr. Lakin is now a resource for funeral directors in central Maine and a local hospice.

His coffins are sold to people like Ginny Landry, 77, who wants a home funeral one day but is content to use her coffin to showcase the quilts she makes. It once stood in her bedroom, but her husband, Rudolph, made her move it to a guest room because he pictured her in the coffin every time he laid eyes on it.

“It’s very comforting to me, knowing I have it there so my children won’t have to make a decision as to where I’m going to go,” Ms. Landry said.

During her battle with cancer, Diane Manahan also requested a home funeral, and the family did not know then how much it would help them with their grief.

“There’s something about touching, watching, sitting with a body that lets you know the person is no longer there,” Nancy Manahan said. “We didn’t even realize how emotionally meaningful those rituals are, doing it ourselves, until we did it.”
27440  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / G. Friedman: Iran-Russia? on: July 20, 2009, 04:25:31 PM
At Friday prayers July 17 at Tehran University, the influential cleric and former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani gave his first sermon since Iran’s disputed presidential election and the subsequent demonstrations. The crowd listening to Rafsanjani inside the mosque was filled with Ahmadinejad supporters who chanted, among other things, “Death to America” and “Death to China.” Outside the university common grounds, anti-Ahmadinejad elements — many of whom were blocked by Basij militiamen and police from entering the mosque — persistently chanted “Death to Russia.”

Death to America is an old staple in Iran. Death to China had to do with the demonstrations in Xinjiang and the death of Uighurs at the hands of the Chinese. Death to Russia, however, stood out. Clearly, its use was planned before the protesters took to the streets. The meaning of this must be uncovered. To begin to do that, we must consider the political configuration in Iran at the moment.

The Iranian Political Configuration
There are two factions claiming to speak for the people. Rafsanjani represents the first faction. During his sermon, he spoke for the tradition of the founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who took power during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Rafjsanjani argued that Khomeini wanted an Islamic republic faithful to the will of the people, albeit within the confines of Islamic law. Rafsanjani argued that he was the true heir to the Islamic revolution. He added that Khomeini’s successor — the current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — had violated the principles of the revolution when he accepted that Rafsanjani’s archenemy, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had won Iran’s recent presidential election. (There is enormous irony in foreigners describing Rafsanjani as a moderate reformer who supports greater liberalization. Though he has long cultivated this image in the West, in 30 years of public political life it is hard to see a time when has supported Western-style liberal democracy.)

The other faction is led by Ahmadinejad, who takes the position that Rafsanjani in particular — along with the generation of leaders who ascended to power during the first phase of the Islamic republic — has betrayed the Iranian people. Rather than serving the people, Ahmadinejad claims they have used their positions to become so wealthy that they dominate the Iranian economy and have made the reforms needed to revitalize the Iranian economy impossible. According to Ahmadinejad’s charges, these elements now blame Ahmadinejad for Iran’s economic failings when the root of these failings is their own corruption. Ahmadinejad claims that the recent presidential election represents a national rejection of the status quo. He adds that claims of fraud represent attempts by Rafsanjani — who he portrays as defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi’s sponsor — and his ilk to protect their positions from Ahmadinejad.

Iran is therefore experiencing a generational dispute, with each side claiming to speak both for the people and for the Khomeini tradition. There is the older generation — symbolized by Rafsanjani — that has prospered during the last 30 years. Having worked with Khomeini, this generation sees itself as his true heir. Then, there is the younger generation. Known as “students” during the revolution, this group did the demonstrating and bore the brunt of the shah’s security force counterattacks. It argues that Khomeini would be appalled at what Rafsanjani and his generation have done to Iran.

This debate is, of course, more complex than this. Khamenei, a key associate of Khomeini, appears to support Ahmadinejad’s position. And Ahmadinejad hardly speaks for all of the poor as he would like to claim. The lines of political disputes are never drawn as neatly as we would like. Ultimately, Rafsanjani’s opposition to the recent election did not have as much to do with concerns (valid or not) over voter fraud. It had everything to do with the fact that the outcome threatened his personal position. Which brings us back to the question of why Rafsanjani’s followers were chanting “Death to Russia”?

Examining the Anomalous Chant
For months prior to the election, Ahmadinejad’s allies warned that the United States was planning a “color” revolution. Color revolutions, like the one in Ukraine, occurred widely in the former Soviet Union after its collapse, and these revolutions followed certain steps. An opposition political party was organized to mount an electoral challenge the establishment. Then, an election occurred that was either fraudulent or claimed by the opposition as having been fraudulent. Next, widespread peaceful protests against the regime (all using a national color as the symbol of the revolution) took place, followed by the collapse of the government through a variety of paths. Ultimately, the opposition — which was invariably pro-Western and particularly pro-American — took power.

Moscow openly claimed that Western intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA, organized and funded the 2004-2005 Orange Revolution in Ukraine. These agencies allegedly used nongovernmental organizations (human rights groups, pro-democracy groups, etc.) to delegitimize the existing regime, repudiate the outcome of the election regardless of its validity and impose what the Russians regarded as a pro-American puppet regime. The Russians saw Ukraine’s Orange Revolution as the break point in their relationship with the West, with the creation of a pro-American, pro-NATO regime in Ukraine representing a direct attack on Russian national security. The Americans argued that to the contrary, they had done nothing but facilitate a democratic movement that opposed the existing regime for its own reasons, demanding that rigged elections be repudiated.

In warning that the United States was planning a color revolution in Iran, Ahmadinejad took the Russian position. Namely, he was arguing that behind the cover of national self-determination, human rights and commitment to democratic institutions, the United States was funding an Iranian opposition movement on the order of those active in the former Soviet Union. Regardless of whether the opposition actually had more votes, this opposition movement would immediately regard an Ahmadinejad win as the result of fraud. Large demonstrations would ensue, and if they were left unopposed the Islamic republic would come under threat.

In doing this, Ahmadinejad’s faction positioned itself against the actuality that such a rising would occur. If it did, Ahmadinejad could claim that the demonstrators were — wittingly or not — operating on behalf of the United States, thus delegitimizing the demonstrators. In so doing, he could discredit supporters of the demonstrators as not tough enough on the United States, a useful charge against Rafsanjani, whom the West long has held up as an Iranian moderate.

Interestingly, while demonstrations were at their height, Ahmadinejad chose to attend — albeit a day late — a multinational Shanghai Cooperation Organization conference in Moscow on the Tuesday after the election. It was very odd that he would leave Iran during the greatest postelection unrest; we assumed he had decided to demonstrate to Iranians that he didn’t take the demonstrations seriously.

The charge that seems to be emerging on the Rafsanjani side is that Ahmadinejad’s fears of a color revolution were not simply political, but were encouraged by the Russians. It was the Russians who had been talking to Ahmadinejad and his lieutenants on a host of issues, who warned him about the possibility of a color revolution. More important, the Russians helped prepare Ahmadinejad for the unrest that would come — and given the Russian experience, how to manage it. Though we speculate here, if this theory is correct, it could explain some of the efficiency with which Ahmadinejad shut down cell phone and other communications during the postelection unrest, as he may have had Russian advisers.

Rafsanjani’s followers were not shouting “Death to Russia” without a reason, at least in their own minds. They are certainly charging that Ahmadinejad took advice from the Russians, and went to Russia in the midst of political unrest for consultations. Rafsanjani’s charge may or may not be true. Either way, there is no question that Ahmadinejad did claim that the United States was planning a color revolution in Iran. If he believed that charge, it would have been irrational not to reach out to the Russians. But whether or not the CIA was involved, the Russians might well have provided Ahmadinejad with intelligence of such a plot and helped shape his response, and thereby may have created a closer relationship with him.

How Iran’s internal struggle will work itself out remains unclear. But one dimension is shaping up: Ahmadinejad is trying to position Rafsanjani as leading a pro-American faction intent on a color revolution, while Rafsanjani is trying to position Ahmadinejad as part of a pro-Russian faction. In this argument, the claim that Ahmadinejad had some degree of advice or collaboration with the Russians is credible, just as the claim that Rafsanjani maintained some channels with the Americans is credible. And this makes an internal dispute geopolitically significant.

The Iranian Struggle in a Geopolitical Context
At the moment, Ahmadinejad appears to have the upper hand. Khamenei has certified his re-election. The crowds have dissipated; nothing even close to the numbers of the first few days has since materialized. For Ahmadinejad to lose, Rafsanjani would have to mobilize much of the clergy — many of whom are seemingly content to let Rafsanjani be the brunt of Ahmadinejad’s attacks — in return for leaving their own interests and fortunes intact. There are things that could bring Ahmadinejad down and put Rafsanjani in control, but all of them would require Khamenei to endorse social and political instability, which he will not do.

If the Russians have in fact intervened in Iran to the extent of providing intelligence to Ahmadinejad and advice to him during his visit on how to handle the postelection unrest (as the chants suggest), then Russian influence in Iran is not surging — it has surged. In some measure, Ahmadinejad would owe his position to Russian warnings and advice. There is little gratitude in the world of international affairs, but Ahmadinejad has enemies, and the Russians would have proved their utility in helping contain those enemies.

From the Russian point of view, Ahmadinejad would be a superb asset — even if not truly under their control. His very existence focuses American attention on Iran, not on Russia. It follows, then, that Russia would have made a strategic decision to involve itself in the postelection unrest, and that for the purposes of its own negotiations with Washington, Moscow will follow through to protect the Iranian state to the extent possible. The Russians have already denied U.S. requests for assistance on Iran. But if Moscow has intervened in Iran to help safeguard Ahmadinejad’s position, then the potential increases for Russia to provide Iran with the S-300 strategic air defense systems that it has been dangling in front of Tehran for more than a decade.

If the United States perceives an entente between Moscow and Tehran emerging, then the entire dynamic of the region shifts and the United States must change its game. The threat to Washington’s interests becomes more intense as the potential of a Russian S-300 sale to Iran increases, and the need to disrupt the Russian-Iranian entente would become all the more important. U.S. influence in Iran already has declined substantially, and Ahmadinejad is more distrustful and hostile than ever of the United States after having to deal with the postelection unrest. If a Russian-Iranian entente emerges out of all this — which at the moment is merely a possibility, not an imminent reality — then the United States would have some serious strategic problems on its hands.

Revisiting Assumptions on Iran
For the past few years, STRATFOR has assumed that a U.S. or Israeli strike on Iran was unlikely. Iran was not as advanced in its nuclear program as some claimed, and the complexities of any attack were greater than assumed. The threat of an attack was thus a U.S. bargaining chip, much as Iran’s nuclear program itself was an Iranian bargaining chip for use in achieving Tehran’s objectives in Iraq and the wider region. To this point, our net assessment has been accurate.

At this point, however, we need to stop and reconsider. If Iran and Russia begin serious cooperation, Washington’s existing dilemma with Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its ongoing standoff with the Russians would fuse to become a single, integrated problem. This is something the United States would find difficult to manage. Washington’s primary goal would become preventing this from happening.

Ahmadinejad has long argued that the United States was never about to attack Iran, and that charges by Rafsanjani and others that he has pursued a reckless foreign policy were groundless. But with the “Death to Russia” chants and signaling of increased Russian support for Iran, the United States may begin to reconsider its approach to the region.

Iran’s clerical elite does not want to go to war. They therefore can only view with alarm the recent ostentatious transiting of the Suez Canal into the Red Sea by Israeli submarines and corvettes. This transiting did not happen without U.S. approval. Moreover, in spite of U.S. opposition to expanded Israeli settlements and Israeli refusals to comply with this opposition, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will be visiting Israel in two weeks. The Israelis have said that there must be a deadline on negotiations with Iran over the nuclear program when the next G-8 meeting takes place in September; a deadline that the G-8 has already approved. The consequences if Iran ignores the deadline were left open-ended.

All of this can fit into our old model of psychological warfare, as representing a bid to manipulate Iranian politics by making Ahmadinejad’s leadership look too risky. It could also be the United States signaling the Russians that stakes in the region are rising. It is not clear that the United States has reconsidered its strategy on Iran in the wake of the postelection demonstrations. But if Rafsanjani’s claim of Russian support for Ahmadinejad is true, a massive re-evaluation of U.S. policy could ensue, assuming one hasn’t already started — prompting a reconsideration of the military option.

All of this assumes that there is substance behind a mob chanting “Death to Russia.” There appears to be, but of course, Ahmadinejad’s enemies would want to magnify that substance to its limits and beyond. This is why we are not ready to simply abandon our previous net assessment of Iran, even though it is definitely time to rethink it.

27441  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CATO appeal on: July 20, 2009, 11:49:39 AM
second post of day

CATO Institute is a strong, high quality libertarian institute with a strong track record and a goodly amount of credibility.

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

This Thursday we will begin airing six radio ads (one linked here) and a space ad in major newspapers (albeit in black and white) across the nation challenging the idea that government-run healthcare is a good thing.  As with our ads on the “stimulus” plan and climate change, we believe this campaign can have a major impact on the direction of the debate over healthcare.  Increasingly, the public is growing aware of the fact that Obama’s cost savings will come through rationing of healthcare options – from doctors to procedures.  As you can see, our budget for this campaign is $510,000.  Thus far we’ve raised just short of $200,000.  I’m asking for your support and that of other Cato Sponsors to make sure the entire program is funded.  Actually, I like to raise an additional $124,000 to run the ad in the Wall Street Journal.  As it is, the ad will run in the Washington Post and the New York Times this week.  The timing is perfect and the venues are appropriate.  I hope you’re in a position to help us.  Please click here to send your support online or send a (tax-deductible) check to Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001. Please note on the check that it is for the healthcare ad campaign. We can win this battle.
 
Cordially, Ed
27442  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 20, 2009, 09:06:44 AM
It is only natural that the high numbers decline somewhat.  While I certainly hope that the trend continues and accelerates, IMHO it remains to be seen. 

Also worth noting is that the cowardice and incoherence of the Republican response is there for all to see.
27443  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CCW Full Faith & Credit on: July 20, 2009, 09:04:29 AM
Please click on the link below to send a pre-formatted e-mail to your two Senators supporting this amendment now pending in the Senate. It may be voted on as early as TODAY.  The bill would allow concealed-carry in any state if a citizen has a permit to carry in their home state.  This takes only 30 seconds:

http://capwiz.com/gunowners/issues/alert/?alertid=13750856

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

Obama's new Attorney General has already said this is one of his major issues.

 

This takes literally 2 clicks to complete. Please vote on this gun issue question with USA Today. It will only take a few seconds of your time.. Then pass the link on to all the pro gun folks you know. Hopefully these results will be published later this month. This upcoming year will become critical for gun owners with the Supreme Court accepting the District of Columbia case against the right for individuals to bear arms.
 

First - vote on this one.
 

Second - launch it to other folks and ask THEM vote.
 

Vote in the USA Today poll - click on the link below.
 

The Question is: "Does the Second Amendment give individuals the right to bear arms?"

Vote at link below and vote Yes!:  Please

USATODAY.com - Quick Question

Thanks,
Greg
27444  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: Prison Overhaul on: July 20, 2009, 08:17:15 AM
The NYT is often a suspect source, particularly on issues such as this one.  Caveat Lector
=====================

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan — A sweeping United States military review calls for overhauling the troubled American-run prison here as well as the entire Afghan jail and judicial systems, a reaction to worries that abuses and militant recruiting within the prisons are helping to strengthen the Taliban.

In a further sign of high-level concern over detention practices, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent a confidential message last week to all of the military service chiefs and senior field commanders asking them to redouble their efforts to alert troops to the importance of treating detainees properly.

The prison at this air base north of Kabul has become an ominous symbol for Afghans — a place where harsh interrogation methods and sleep deprivation were used routinely in its early years, and where two Afghan detainees died in 2002 after being beaten by American soldiers and hung by their arms from the ceiling of isolation cells.

Bagram also became a holding site for terrorism suspects captured outside Afghanistan and Iraq.

But even as treatment at Bagram improved in recent years, conditions worsened in the larger Afghan-run prison network, which houses more than 15,000 detainees at three dozen overcrowded and often violent sites. The country’s deeply flawed judicial system affords prisoners virtually no legal protections, human rights advocates say.

“Throughout Afghanistan, Afghans are arbitrarily detained by police, prosecutors, judges and detention center officials with alarming regularity,” the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in a report in January.

To help address these problems, Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone of the Marines, credited with successfully revamping American detention practices in Iraq, was assigned to review all detention issues in Afghanistan. General Stone’s report, which has not been made public but is circulating among senior American officials, recommends separating extremist militants from more moderate detainees instead of having them mixed together as they are now, according to two American officials who have read or been briefed on his report. Under the new approach, the United States would help build and finance a new Afghan-run prison for the hard-core extremists who are now using the poorly run Afghan corrections system as a camp to train petty thieves and other common criminals to be deadly militants, the American officials said. The remaining inmates would be taught vocational skills and offered other classes, and they would be taught about moderate Islam with the aim of reintegrating them into society, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the review’s findings had not been publicly disclosed. The review also presses for training new Afghan prison guards, prosecutors and judges.

The recommendations come as American officials express fears that the notoriously overcrowded Afghan-run prisons will be overwhelmed by waves of new prisoners captured in the American-led offensive in southern Afghanistan, where thousands of Marines are battling Taliban fighters.

President Obama signed an executive order in January to review policy options for detention, interrogation and rendition.

The Defense and Justice Departments are leading two government task forces studying those issues and are scheduled to deliver reports to the president on Tuesday. But administration officials said Sunday that the task forces — which are grappling with questions like whether terrorism suspects should be turned over to other countries and how to deal with detainees who are thought to be dangerous but who cannot be brought to trial — were likely to seek extensions on some contentious issues.

Last month The Wall Street Journal reported elements of General Stone’s review, but in recent days American military officials provided a more detailed description of the report’s scope, findings and recommendations. A spokesman for the Afghan Embassy in Washington, Martin Austermuhle, said he was unaware of the review, and did not know if the government in Kabul had been apprised of it.

Admiral Mullen felt compelled to issue his message last week after viewing photographs documenting abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan by American military personnel in the early years of the wars there, a senior military official said.  Mr. Obama decided in May not to make the photographs public, warning that the images could ignite a deadly backlash against American troops. The admiral urged top American field commanders to step up their efforts to ensure that prisoners were treated properly both at the point of capture and in military prisons. He told the service chiefs to emphasize detainee treatment when preparing and training troops who deploy to the Middle East and Southwest Asia.

“It is essential to who we are as a fighting force that we get this right,” Admiral Mullen said in the message. “We are better than what I saw in those pictures.”

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

Page 2 of 2)



American officials say many of the changes that General Stone’s review recommends for Bagram are already in the works as part of the scheduled opening this fall of a 40-acre replacement complex that officials say will accommodate about 600 detainees in a more modern and humane setting.

The problems at the existing American-run prison, the Bagram Theater Internment Facility, have been well documented. The prison is a converted aircraft hangar that still holds some of the decrepit aircraft-repair machinery left by the Soviet troops who occupied the country in the 1980s. Military personnel who know Bagram and the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, describe the Afghan site as tougher and more spartan. The prisoners have fewer privileges and virtually no access to lawyers or the judicial process. Many are still held communally in big cages.
In the past two weeks, prisoners have refused to leave their cells to protest their indefinite imprisonment.

In 2005, the Bush administration began trying to scale back American involvement in detention operations in Afghanistan, mainly by transferring Bagram prisoners to an American-financed high-security prison outside of Kabul guarded by American-trained Afghan soldiers. But United States officials conceded that the new Afghan block, at Pul-i-Charkhi prison, could not absorb all the Bagram prisoners. It now holds about 4,300 detainees, including some 360 from Bagram or Guantánamo Bay, Afghan prison officials said.

Officials from the general directorate for prisons complained about the lack of detention space based on international standards in provinces of Afghanistan. They said most of those prisons were rented houses and not suitable for detention.

Gen. Safiullah Safi, commander of the Afghan National Army brigade responsible for the section of Pul-i-Charkhi that holds the transferred inmates from Bagram and Guantánamo Bay, said his part of the prison had maintained good order and followed Islamic cultural customs. But last December, detainees in the other blocks of the prison staged a revolt in an attempt to resist a security sweep for hidden weapons and cellphones. Eight inmates died.

“There’s a general concern that the Afghan national prisons need to be rehabilitated,” said Sahr MuhammedAlly, a senior associate for law and security at Human Rights First, an advocacy group that is to issue its own report on Bagram on Wednesday.
27445  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: July 20, 2009, 08:09:08 AM
"Let justice be done though the heavens should fall."

--John Adams, letter to Elbridge Gerry, December 5, 1777
27446  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Drills on: July 19, 2009, 07:04:17 PM
Can I explain our "Prison Riot Drill"?

, , ,  drum roll , , ,

Yes I can.

 cheesy

, , , A little more seriously, it is both a warm up and a 360 multi-player training.
27447  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rest in Peace on: July 19, 2009, 01:27:19 PM
Ex-Mossad chief Meir Amit dies at 88
By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent, and The Associated Press

General (res.) Meir Amit, the former head of the Mossad who is credited with modernizing Israel's feared intelligence agency, died on Friday. He was 88 years old.

Amit, who headed the organization from 1963 to 1968, also served as the head of the Israel Defense Forces intelligence branch.

Amit, who was born Meir Slutzki in the town of Tiberias, grew up in a family that identified with the pre-state Labor movement. At a young age, he joined Kibbutz Alonim in the lower Galilee and enlisted in the Haganah. During the War of Independence, he served as an officer and commanded a company of soldiers. Following the war, he decided to leave the kibbutz to pursue a military career. He said he had convinced himself that the army, not just the kibbutz, is vital for the young state.

He commanded infantry and armored corps units before rising through the ranks and becoming a trusted aide to then-chief of staff Moshe Dayan. The relationship between the two men grew closer over the years, and Amit came to be regarded as a protege of one of the country's most charismatic military heroes.

By the end of the 1950s, he was sent to Columbia University in New York, where he completed a degree in economics. Upon his return, he was appointed head of Military Intelligence.

In 1963, after then-prime minister David Ben Gurion forced Isser Harel to resign the top post at the Mossad, he named Amit to head the organization. Amit was the only figure in Israel's history to hold the position of Mossad chief and head of military intelligence at the same time. He remained in the IDF for nine months after being tapped to run the Mossad before leaving the military and focusing solely on heading the agency.

During his tenure, he introduced new modes of operation and oversaw the transfer of a special unit which coordinated espionage activity in Arab states from military intelligence to the Mossad. Amit also contributed to the Mossad's standing as a key intelligence organ whose precise information aided in Israel's victory in the Six-Day War.

On the eve of the war, he was sent on a secret mission to brief top U.S. administration officials. Upon his return, he reported to the government that, in contrast with the assessments given by then-foreign minister Abba Eban, the administration would not oppose a pre-emptive military strike against the Egyptian army.

Other notable achievements of his term included the theft of a Mig-21 which was flown into Israel by a deserting Iraqi pilot, his efforts to reach a peace agreement with Egypt, the contacts and aid provided to the Kurdish rebellion in Iraq, and the expansion of Mossad's cooperation with foreign spy agencies.

"Generations of Israelis, entire generations of children owe Meir Amit a debt of gratitude for his immense contribution - a large part which remains secret - in building the strength and deterrence of Israel," President Shimon Peres said in a statement. "He was a natural leader, whom people trusted, and at the same time he was a visionary for the state."
27448  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Thomas Friedman: May we leave now? on: July 19, 2009, 01:23:42 PM
Marc: The Greg Mortenson book IMHO required reading for any serious student of the situation in Afg.

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

Thomas Friedman
Teacher, Can We Leave Now? No.

AfghanistanI confess, I find it hard to come to Afghanistan and not ask: Why are we here? Who cares about the Taliban? Al Qaeda is gone. And if its leaders come back, well, that’s why God created cruise missiles.

But every time I start writing that column, something stills my hand. This week it was something very powerful. I watched Greg Mortenson, the famed author of “Three Cups of Tea,” open one of his schools for girls in this remote Afghan village in the Hindu Kush mountains. I must say, after witnessing the delight in the faces of those little Afghan girls crowded three to a desk waiting to learn, I found it very hard to write, “Let’s just get out of here.”

Indeed, Mortenson’s efforts remind us what the essence of the “war on terrorism” is about. It’s about the war of ideas within Islam — a war between religious zealots who glorify martyrdom and want to keep Islam untouched by modernity and isolated from other faiths, with its women disempowered, and those who want to embrace modernity, open Islam to new ideas and empower Muslim women as much as men. America’s invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were, in part, an effort to create the space for the Muslim progressives to fight and win so that the real engine of change, something that takes nine months and 21 years to produce — a new generation — can be educated and raised differently.

Which is why it was no accident that Adm. Mike Mullen, the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — spent half a day in order to reach Mortenson’s newest school and cut the ribbon. Getting there was fun. Our Chinook helicopter threaded its way between mountain peaks, from Kabul up through the Panjshir Valley, before landing in a cloud of dust at the village of Pushghar. Imagine if someone put a new, one-story school on the moon, and you’ll appreciate the rocky desolateness of this landscape.

But there, out front, was Mortenson, dressed in traditional Afghan garb. He was surrounded by bearded village elders and scores of young Afghan boys and girls, who were agog at the helicopter, and not quite believing that America’s “warrior chief” — as Admiral Mullen’s title was loosely translated into Urdu — was coming to open the new school.

While the admiral passed out notebooks, Mortenson told me why he has devoted his life to building 131 secular schools for girls in Pakistan and another 48 in Afghanistan: “The money is money well spent. These are secular schools that will bring a new generation of kids that will have a broader view of the world. We focus on areas where there is no education. Religious extremism flourishes in areas of isolation and conflict.

“When a girl gets educated here and then becomes a mother, she will be much less likely to let her son become a militant or insurgent,” he added. “And she will have fewer children. When a girl learns how to read and write, one of the first things she does is teach her own mother. The girls will bring home meat and veggies, wrapped in newspapers, and the mother will ask the girl to read the newspaper to her and the mothers will learn about politics and about women who are exploited.”

It is no accident, Mortenson noted, that since 2007, the Taliban and its allies have bombed, burned or shut down more than 640 schools in Afghanistan and 350 schools in Pakistan, of which about 80 percent are schools for girls. This valley, controlled by Tajik fighters, is secure, but down south in Helmand Province, where the worst fighting is today, the deputy minister of education said that Taliban extremists have shut 75 of the 228 schools in the last year. This is the real war of ideas. The Taliban want public mosques, not public schools. The Muslim militants recruit among the illiterate and impoverished in society, so the more of them the better, said Mortenson.

This new school teaches grades one through six. I asked some girls through an interpreter what they wanted to be when they grow up: “Teacher,” shouted one. “Doctor,” shouted another. Living here, those are the only two educated role models these girls encounter. Where were they going to school before Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute and the U.S. State Department joined with the village elders to get this secular public school built? “The mosque,” the girls said.

Mortenson said he was originally critical of the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he’s changed his views: “The U.S. military has gone through a huge learning curve. They really get it. It’s all about building relationships from the ground up, listening more and serving the people of Afghanistan.”

So there you have it. In grand strategic terms, I still don’t know if this Afghan war makes sense anymore. I was dubious before I arrived, and I still am. But when you see two little Afghan girls crouched on the front steps of their new school, clutching tightly with both arms the notebooks handed to them by a U.S. admiral — as if they were their first dolls — it’s hard to say: “Let’s just walk away.” Not yet.
27449  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GM's post moved here on: July 19, 2009, 12:43:07 PM
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5j4PYGKun8FwQE1yOv3xp0SYIgM9AD99GNCF00

Obama losing some support among nervous Dems
By BETH FOUHY (AP) – 1 day ago

NEW YORK — Could it be that President Barack Obama's Midas touch is starting to dull a bit, even among members of his own party?
Conservative House Democrats are balking at the cost and direction of Obama's top priority, an overhaul of the nation's health care system. A key Senate Democrat, Max Baucus of Montana, complains that Obama's opposition to paying for it with a tax on health benefits "is not helping us."

Another Democrat, Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma, tells his local newspaper that Obama is too liberal and is "very unpopular" in his district.

From his first days in office, Obama's popularity helped him pass the landmark $787 billion stimulus package and fueled his ambitious plans to overhaul the nation's health care system and tackle global warming.

Obama continues to be comparatively popular. But now recent national surveys have shown a measurable drop in his job approval rating, even among Democrats. A CBS news survey out this week had his national approval rating at 57 percent, and his standing among Democrats down 10 percentage points since last month, from 92 percent to 82 percent.

With the economy continuing to sputter and joblessness on the rise, many of Obama's staunchest Democratic supporters are anxious for his agenda to start bearing fruit.

"We are eager and impatient, so you're seeing a little bit of that," said Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. "Elections have results, and those in the base are the most anxious to achieve what's promised in the election. That's why Democrats are showing some impatience in reaching our goal."

Obama won Ohio, a key swing state, by 4 percentage points in 2008 over Republican John McCain. But the one-time industrial powerhouse has been hit hard by the weak economy, and a Quinnipiac University poll released this month showed Obama with a lackluster approval rating of 49 percent.

Redfern argued that the stimulus program has begun to show tangible results in his state and people shouldn't expect the economy to turn around instantly.  A similar argument came from Nevada, another swing state Obama carried. Las Vegas City Councilman Steve Ross counseled patience, saying that voters in his state want Obama to succeed and that their support would be solidified once they saw stimulus-driven building projects under way.

"Generally, folks in Nevada are waiting to see the effects of the stimulus package," Ross said. "I think the president is probably just as impatient to get this money out in the country to employ people as anyone."

In Missouri, which Obama narrowly lost to McCain, Democratic strategist Steve Glorioso said hardcore base voters were as enthusiastic as ever for Obama but that there was a sense of disappointment about him among less committed Democrats and independents.

"People are scared," Glorioso said. "This is the worst economic time anyone under the age of 80 has ever experienced, and you can't discount people being afraid. Now that we are in July, the fear is turning to disappointment that the president hasn't fixed everything yet. I don't know why they thought he could change everything by now, but some did."

Glorioso said an open Senate race next year in Missouri, where Democrat Robin Carnahan is likely to face former Republican Rep. Roy Blunt, will be a crucial test of Obama's appeal.

"If the economy gets better and they pass a reasonable health care bill, his popularity will be way back up and Carnahan will win," Glorioso said. "If none of that happens, it's a moot point."

In Michigan, where the near-collapse of the auto industry has driven the unemployment rate to 14.1 percent, the nation's worst, the state's Democratic chairman, Mark Brewer, said support for Obama among Democrats has remained strong.

"People are very worried and concerned, I don't want to dispute that," Brewer said. "But they voted for the president in overwhelming numbers and want to support the things he's trying to do."

Obama traveled to Michigan this week to unveil a $12 billion program to help community colleges prepare people for jobs. There, he made an audacious declaration.

"I love these folks who helped get us in this mess and then suddenly say, 'Well, this is Obama's economy,'" the president said. "That's fine. Give it to me!"

Redfern, the Ohio Democratic Party chairman, said he welcomed that statement but cautioned it came with a price.

"When it's the president's economy, it's the president's trouble," Redfern said. "Americans are eager for the change that they voted into office. They support him, they just want to see results sooner rather than later."
27450  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Study: 3 vs. 1 in BC on: July 19, 2009, 02:33:21 AM

Please discuss:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIjG4OJEHnI

I'd like to suggest commenting after watching only one time (e.g. like you might have to do as a witness) then comment after watching as much as you like. AFTER you make your initial comments, you may wish to view this.

background info:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIjG4OJEHnI
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