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27451  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: May 05, 2007, 06:36:36 AM
A Beautiful Mine
Published: May 5, 2007
Rowdy, Ky.

MY home state contains the largest contiguous forests in southern Appalachia, which is home to the most biologically diverse landscape in North America. To sit quietly in such a place is an extraordinary thing to do. I have heard ovenbirds and black-and-white warblers, sometimes a wood thrush, as steep ridgelines rose around me, mountains older than the Himalayas. There is a lot to see in this forest: 250 different songbirds, 70 species of trees, bears, bobcats and my favorite nonspeaking mammal, the Southern flying squirrel.

Alas, many of these species are vanishing because their habitat is vanishing. A form of strip mining called mountaintop removal has ripped apart all of the ridgelines that surround this forest, leaving miles of lifeless gray plateaus, lunar wastelands. Mountaintop removal entails the blasting of entire summits to rubble in an effort to reach, as quickly and inexpensively as possible, thin seams of bituminous coal. Trees, topsoil and sandstone are dumped into the valleys below. More than 1,000 miles of streams have been buried in this way, and an Environmental Protection Agency study found that 95 percent of headwater streams near mines have been contaminated by heavy metals leeching from the sites.

When it comes to mountaintop removal, a certain fatalism seems to take hold in Appalachia — the coal companies are too powerful, the politicians are corrupt, the regulators won’t regulate and the news media don’t care. But we cannot give up on rehabilitating Appalachia. While most efforts to reclaim the land destroyed by strip-mining have done little to restore the landscape or improve the region’s economy, one effort holds out special promise. It is a three-year-old program within the United States Office of Surface Mining called the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, and it is based on decades of research.

Pioneering foresters found that the best way to grow trees on a strip mine is not to compact the soil, as has been done on most strip mine sites, where regrowth has been scant and slow, but simply to plant saplings in the loose mix of sandstone and shale, known as spoil, that mines leave behind. High-value hardwoods will grow twice as fast in this loose rubble as in their native forest, because there is plenty of room below ground for the roots to take hold, and no competition from taller trees above ground. The porous spoil acts like a sponge during heavy rainfalls and greatly reduces the flooding caused by compacted strip mines.

Last spring I took a ride with Patrick Angel, the initiative’s point man in Kentucky, to a large mountaintop removal site called Bent Mountain. It was covered with mounded sandstone where foot-high saplings grew. On one acre, 1,000 disease-resistant American chestnuts waved like lawn flags in the gray rock. More small trees grew in the loosened spoil. Mr. Angel told me that the trees’ survival rate was 75 percent to 90 percent.

Then Mr. Angel drove me to one of the state’s largest strip jobs, the Starfire Mine. We pulled away from the heavy machinery and cratered landscape, toward a test site established nine years ago. Back then it looked like Bent Mountain. Nine years later, we were wandering among 30-foot tall poplar and 20-foot tall white ash. The trees had already developed a canopy. If I hadn’t heard the sounds of mining in the distance, I could almost imagine myself in a young forest.

“A culture,” wrote the poet W. H. Auden, “is no better than its woods.” Over a million acres have been strip-mined in Kentucky since 1980, and the numbers in West Virginia are worse. Mountaintop removal sites across Appalachia will soon reach the size of Delaware. And much of that acreage has been “reclaimed” as pasture: companies spray the mines with a layer of grass seed and hope it takes.

But to replace the forest with a grassland monoculture does not reclaim what has been lost. A forest sequesters 20 times more carbon than a grassland, prevents flooding and erosion, purifies streams, turns waste into food and insures species survival. Reforesting wasted mine sites would replace failed industrial methods with a system that mimics nature. Toward that goal, foresters have planted two million high-value trees on 2,700 acres of abandoned mine land.

Appalachia’s land is dying. Its fractured communities show the typical symptoms of hopelessness, including OxyContin abuse rates higher than anywhere in the country. Meanwhile, 22 states power houses and businesses with Kentucky coal. The people of central and southern Appalachia have relinquished much of their natural wealth to the rest of the country and have received next to nothing in return.

To right these wrongs, first we need federal legislation that will halt the decapitation of mountains and bring accountability to an industry that is out of control. Then we need a New Deal for Appalachia that would expand the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, or create a similar program, to finally return some of the region’s lost wealth in the form of jobs and trees, rebuilt topsoil and resuscitated communities. Financing should come from a carbon tax on Appalachian coal bought and burned by utility companies across the country — a tax that would also discourage the wasteful emissions of greenhouse gases. Such a project would educate and employ an entire generation of foresters and forest managers, who would be followed by locally owned wood-product industries and craftsmen like Patrick Angel’s brother Mike, who makes much sought-after hardwood chairs just like ones his grandfather fashioned.

We know that our species, and most other species, will survive only in a future that burns no coal or oil. The question now is whether we have the nerve to get there before the world’s oldest mountains are gone.

Erik Reece is the author of “Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness.”
27452  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Darwin, Intelligent Design, Creationism in Christianity on: May 05, 2007, 06:07:33 AM
NY Times

A Split Emerges as Conservatives Discuss Darwin
Published: May 5, 2007
Evolution has long generated bitter fights between the left and the right about whether God or science better explains the origins of life. But now a dispute has cropped up within conservative circles, not over science, but over political ideology: Does Darwinian theory undermine conservative notions of religion and morality or does it actually support conservative philosophy?

On one level the debate can be seen as a polite discussion of political theory among the members of a small group of intellectuals. But the argument also exposes tensions within the Republicans’ “big tent,” as could be seen Thursday night when the party’s 10 candidates for president were asked during their first debate whether they believed in evolution. Three — Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas; Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas; and Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado — indicated they did not.

For some conservatives, accepting Darwin undercuts religious faith and produces an amoral, materialistic worldview that easily embraces abortion, embryonic stem cell research and other practices they abhor. As an alternative to Darwin, many advocate intelligent design, which holds that life is so intricately organized that only an intelligent power could have created it.

Yet it is that very embrace of intelligent design — not to mention creationism, which takes a literal view of the Bible’s Book of Genesis — that has led conservative opponents to speak out for fear their ideology will be branded as out of touch and anti-science.

Some of these thinkers have gone one step further, arguing that Darwin’s scientific theories about the evolution of species can be applied to today’s patterns of human behavior, and that natural selection can provide support for many bedrock conservative ideas, like traditional social roles for men and women, free-market capitalism and governmental checks and balances.

“I do indeed believe conservatives need Charles Darwin,” said Larry Arnhart, a professor of political science at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, who has spearheaded the cause. “The intellectual vitality of conservatism in the 21st century will depend on the success of conservatives in appealing to advances in the biology of human nature as confirming conservative thought.”

The arguments have played out in recent books, magazine articles and blogs, as well as at a conference on Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. There Mr. Arnhart was grouped with John Derbyshire, a contributing editor at National Review, against John G. West and George Gilder, who both are associated with the Discovery Institute, which advocates intelligent design.

Mr. Derbyshire, who has described himself as the “designated point man” against creationists and intelligent-design proponents at National Review, later said that many conservatives were disturbed by positions taken by the religious right.

“There are plenty of people glad to call themselves conservatives,” he said, “who don’t see any reason not to support stem cell research.”

The reference to stem cells suggests just how wide the split is. “The current debate is not primarily about religious fundamentalism,” Mr. West, the author of “Darwin’s Conservatives: The Misguided Quest” (2006), said at Thursday’s conference. “Nor is it simply an irrelevant rehashing of certain esoteric points of biology and philosophy. Darwinian reductionism has become culturally pervasive and inextricably intertwined with contemporary conflicts over traditional morality, personal responsibility, sex and family, and bioethics.”

The technocrats, he charged, wanted to grab control from “ordinary citizens and their elected representatives” so that they alone could make decisions over “controversial issues such as sex education, partial-birth abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research and global warming.”

Advances in biotechnology — and pressure on elected Republicans to curb them — are partly responsible for the surge of interest in linking evolutionary and political theory, said those in the thick of the debate.

The fledgling field of evolutionary psychology also spurred some conservatives to invoke Darwinism in the 1990s. In “The Moral Sense” (1993), followed by “The Marriage Problem: How Our Culture Has Weakened Families” (2002), James Q. Wilson used evolution to explain the genesis of morality and to support traditional family and sex roles. Conservative thinkers from Francis Fukuyama to Richard Pipes have drawn on evolutionary psychology to support ideas like a natural human desire for private property and a biological basis for morality.

Debates over Darwinism became more pointed in 2005, however, as school districts considered teaching intelligent design, and President Bush stated that it should be taught along with evolution. The conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer wrote in Time magazine that to teach intelligent design “as science is to encourage the supercilious caricature of America as a nation in the thrall of a religious authority.” George F. Will wrote that Kansas school board officials who favored intelligent design were “the kind of conservatives who make conservatism repulsive to temperate people.”

Page 2 of 2)

Mr. Arnhart, in his 2005 book, “Darwinian Conservatism,” tackled the issue of conservatism’s compatibility with evolutionary theory head on, saying Darwinists and conservatives share a similar view of human beings: they are imperfect; they have organized in male-dominated hierarchies; they have a natural instinct for accumulation and power; and their moral thought has evolved over time.

The institutions that successfully evolved to deal with this natural order were conservative ones, founded in sentiment, tradition and judgment, like limited government and a system of balances to curb unchecked power, he explains. Unlike leftists, who assume “a utopian vision of human nature” liberated from the constraints of biology, Mr. Arnhart says, conservatives assume that evolved social traditions have more wisdom than rationally planned reforms.

While Darwinism does not resolve specific policy debates, Mr. Arnhart said in an interview on Thursday, it can provide overarching guidelines. Policies that are in tune with human nature, for example, like a male military or traditional social and sex roles, he said, are more likely to succeed. He added that “moral sympathy for the suffering of fellow human beings” allows for aid to the poor, weak and ill.

To many people, asking whether evolution is good for conservatism is like asking if gravity is good for liberalism; nature is morally neutral. Andrew Ferguson in The Weekly Standard and Carson Holloway in his 2006 book, “The Right Darwin? Evolution, Religion and the Future of Democracy,” for example, have written that jumping from evolutionary science to moral conclusions and policy proposals is absurd.

Skeptics of Darwinism like William F. Buckley, Mr. West and Mr. Gilder also object. The notion that “the whole universe contains no intelligence,” Mr. Gilder said at Thursday’s conference, is perpetuated by “Darwinian storm troopers.”

“Both Nazism and communism were inspired by Darwinism,” he continued. “Why conservatives should toady to these storm troopers is beyond me.”

Of Mr. Arnhart, he said, “Larry has a beautiful Darwinism, a James Dobson Darwinism” — referring to the chairman of the Christian organization Focus on the Family — “a supply-side Darwinism.” But in capitalism, he added, “the winners don’t eat the losers.” Mr. West made a similar point, saying you could find justification in Darwin for both maternal instinct and for infanticide.

It is true that political interpretations of Darwinism have turned out to be quite pliable. Victorian-era social Darwinists like Herbert Spencer adopted evolutionary theory to justify colonialism and imperialism, opposition to labor unions and the withdrawal of aid to the sick and needy. Francis Galton based his “science” of eugenics on it. Arguing that cooperation was actually what enabled the species to survive, Pyotr Kropotkin used it to justify anarchism.

Karl Marx wrote that “Darwin’s book is very important and serves me as a basis in natural science for the class struggle in history.” Woodrow Wilson declared, “Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice.”

More recently the bioethicist and animal rights activist Peter Singer’s “Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution, and Cooperation” (1999) urged people to reject the notion that there is a “fundamental difference in kind between human beings and nonhuman animals.”

At the American Enterprise Institute’s conference, the tension between the proponents of intelligent design and of evolution was occasionally on display. When Mr. Derbyshire described himself as a “lapsed Anglican,” which he compared to “falling out of a first-floor window,” Mr. Gilder piped up, “Did you fall on your head?”

What both sides do agree on is that conservatives who have shied away from these debates should speak up. Mr. Arnhart said that having been so badly burned by social Darwinism, many conservatives today did not want “to get involved in these moral and political debates, and I think that’s evasive.”

Yet getting involved is more important than ever, after “the disaster” of “President Bush’s compassionate conservatism,” he said, because the only hope for Republicans is a “fusion of libertarianism and traditionalism, and Darwinian nature supports that conservative fusion.”

Mr. West agreed that “conservatives who are discomfited by the continuing debate over Darwin’s theory need to understand that it is not about to go away”; that it “fundamentally challenges the traditional Western understanding of human nature and the universe.”

“If conservatives want to address root causes rather than just symptoms,” he said, “they need to join the debate over Darwinism, not scorn it or ignore it.”

As for Mr. Derbyshire, he would not say whether he thought evolutionary theory was good or bad for conservatism; the only thing that mattered was whether it was true. And, he said, if that turns out to be “bad for conservatives, then so much the worse for conservatism.”
27453  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The US Congress; Congressional races on: May 05, 2007, 05:45:16 AM
The following article helped me realize we need a thread specifically for the doings/shenanigans of our elected representatives


Air Force Might Cut Pay for Surge  |  By Christian Lowe  |  April 25, 2007
The Air Force’s top officer said Wednesday that if nearly $1 billion in personnel funds taken from the service to pay for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan isn’t restored by the end of the summer, Airmen and civilian employees might not get their pay.

Due to a congressional delay in approving a wartime supplemental funding bill this year, the Pentagon pulled about $880 million from the Air Force’s personnel accounts to make up for a shortfall it warned lawmakers would come in mid-April.

Poll: Should Air Force personnel be used to man Army billets in Iraq?
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael “Buzz” Moseley said at a breakfast meeting with reporters today that the money is coming out of the military personnel account earmarked for the last four months of the year.

“Somebody’s going to have to pay us back,” Moseley said. “You have to pay people every day when they come to work.”

“A: it’s the right thing to do, and B: it’s kind of the law,” he added.

Alert: Tell your public officials how you feel about this issue.

The shortfall could delay permanent change of station moves, temporary duty expenses and other pays that “take care of people,” he said.

On April 15, the Army announced it would have to cut training, depot repair, and maintenance of non war-related gear because funding for the surge in Iraq, combat operations in Afghanistan and other Global War on Terrorism costs was running dry.

The Army also requested that about $1.6 billion be diverted from the Air Force and Navy personnel accounts to help put the wartime funding tab in the black.

With Congress locked in a political battle with the Bush administration over withdrawal deadlines and troop rotation schedules, the $100 billion wartime spending bill to pay for operations through the end of the fiscal year has yet to be signed into law.

Though both the Senate and House have submitted the supplemental bill to the floor for a vote this week, President Bush has vowed a veto over withdrawal deadlines inserted into the law.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace has said if the wartime funds aren’t in place by mid-May, even more drastic cuts will have to be made, including reductions in training for forces on their way to Iraq, which will force the Pentagon to extend the deployments of units already there.

“The comptroller now has a check that they’re going to have to give us back to pay for [personnel] as we get closer to the end of the summer,” Moseley explained, putting the screws to Pentagon and administration budgeteers to recoup the loss.

“I don’t want to have any concerns about getting that money back,” he said. “It would be a breach of faith to take mil-pers money out of a service and then fast forward a couple of quarters and then just say ‘eat it.’”

Moseley said he’ll resist providing Airmen to man jobs the Army and Marine Corps can’t fill due to high operational tempo and increased demand, insisting his service is “drawing some red lines” to deny ground commanders’ requests.

About 20,000 Air Force personnel have filled shortfalls in the ground services’ manning – dubbed “in lieu of taskings” – including convoy and base security operations and even detainee handling jobs. As early as 2005, Air Force security personnel began augmenting Army detainee-handling troops at Camp Bucca prison near Baghdad and have continued to man prison jobs in Iraq.

“We don’t guard prisoners, we don’t even have a prison,” Moseley said. “To take out people and train them to be a detainee-guarding entity requires time away from their normal job.”

Some U.S.-based Air Force commands have as many as 25 percent of their personnel deployed to Iraq and are still executing their home station duties. For example, the San Angelo, Texas-based 17th Training Wing has its crash, fire, and rescue teams and security force units deployed “and we’re still operating the wing,” Moseley said.  

Moseley said he’s happy to provide personnel with job skills the Air Force has in abundance, including drivers and information technology specialists. But “I am less supportive of things outside of our competencies,” he said.

“We’ve drawn some red lines on some of the ‘in lieu of’ taskings to get away from the tasking of our folks that is incredibly outside the competencies.”

27454  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: May 05, 2007, 05:39:57 AM
Woof Tom:

Your "Happy Cuatro de Mayo" reminds me of when today, the first Saturday of May, used to be the date of our Spring Gatherings when we held them at the park across from where I lived in Hermosa Beach.   Indeed it would be most excellent if we could hold a Gathering there again, but it appears that such is not to be. 

Life moves forward and there are considerable benefits to being in an environment where one can exclude people who need to be excluded and this was not possible in a public park. 

Assuming all goes well with OP/Nat Geo, the June Gathering will be at a warehouse in Glendale belonging to OP.  I have seen it and think it will be tres cool.

The Adventure continues!
27455  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: May 04, 2007, 05:55:04 PM
Newt Analyzes the First GOP Debate
Hannity and Colmes
Fox News Transcripts 
Sean Hannity   Alan  Colmes   Newt Gingrich   
ALAN COLMES: Welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes."

The Republican candidates' first debate in California is happening now, but the conservative that everybody wants to hear from tonight, right here, only on "Hannity & Colmes." Former speaker of the House, FOX News contributor, author of "Rediscovering God," Newt Gingrich joins us.

Mr. Speaker, do you wish you were on that stage tonight?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No. If anything would convince me to lean away from running, it was watching all of those guys with too little time, with too many Mickey Mouse questions from the reporters. It's exactly the wrong way to pick a president, and I think it doesn't help the country much.

Some of them I think did very well in brief moments. Senator McCain and Governor Tommy Thompson both were very, very eloquent on Iraq and offered very good ideas about Iraq. Governor Romney was very good in talking about health care, where he knows a great deal. Mayor Giuliani was very good about having controlled crime, having turned New York around.

But think about -- you know, you have 10 people up there. You have a couple of news media types being self-important. Towards the close of the debate, we get this absolutely childish question: How would you feel about Senator Clinton being in the White House? I mean, why would you waste the time of the American people and the 10 candidates when it's obvious that every single Republican is going to say that Senator Clinton shouldn't be in the White House?

Compare this for a minute, Alan, with the debate the French had last night. The French presidential runoff is Sunday. And last night, two candidates went head-to-head with almost no interference from the two moderators, and they went at each other. It was emotional; it was direct; it was aggressive.

And people had a chance to see the real personalities come out. I think, if they eliminated the moderators, and allowed the candidates to ask each other questions and kept the entire process between the candidates, it would be fascinating to see how an evening like this would evolve.

COLMES: By the way, is this why, in all the speculation about you, that you have decided, if you get in, it will be later in the process, is this example Exhibit A as to why that would be the case, so you don't have to go through this particular kind of gauntlet? And if you do get in, it will be after this part of the process?

GINGRICH: It's not a gauntlet. It's boring. Look, I have great respect for the people who are running. They're working very, very hard. They're on the road every day.

My hunch is Governor Thompson, by the time this was done, will have been in every town in Iowa 12 times. Governor Romney has done a great job of raising money. Senator McCain has been campaigning now for years and has built a huge national network. These are serious people doing serious things. You know, Mayor Giuliani, as you know, is the front-runner.

But what I'm struck with is, we as a country need to have a serious dialogue about a lot of things. This is not about Newt Gingrich. It's something, as you know, Governor Cuomo and I have talked about. Governor Cuomo recently wrote two articles talking about this and suggesting that the Democrats would be much better off to have a longer debate in an open, free form, to really talk things out.

But there's a second part of this, Alan, that really worries me. You have people sitting around in May of this year trying to describe what they would do in January of 2009. And now, let's say the world changes. Something different happens, and so somebody changes their position in September, October, November. Suddenly they'll have seven reporters, 16 blog sites, all saying, "Ah, this person switched." And you suddenly freeze people into defending positions that they took a year and a half or two years before they're ever going to be in office.

SEAN HANNITY: All right, I'm a little intrigued, because we're friends, Mr. Speaker, and you're going to hate me for going down this road, but when you said this would make you lean away more, I think people would like a little bit more definitive an answer about you.

GINGRICH: Well, I've told you, and I've told everybody that American Solutions is going to have a nationwide workshop on September 27th on the Internet, available to everybody in the country, in both Democrat, Republican, independent, and we're going to try to explain how you could change and dramatically improve government at every level. There are 511,000 elected offices in America; only one of them is the Oval Office.

But we have an amazing number of elected officials in this country. After we're done with that, we'll have a second workshop on Saturday the 29th of September. And then I'll look at it. But I am absolutely not going to think about this until then.

If it weren't for my friendship with you two and my willingness to come on tonight and talk about this, I wouldn't even be talking about the debate tonight. I mean, I think that it is so absurd to have this much attention paid to an office that doesn't get filled until January of 2009, that I really think this is exactly the wrong model for this country.

HANNITY: Well, I agree with you, and I like the debate that you mentioned in France that took place. I love the free-for-all. This is basically a joint press conference, where you end up getting like four minutes each in the course of an hour-and-a-half debate, so I think your criticism is valid. And you don't really have the substance that either one of us would like.

Do you glean anything -- the two issues that are picking news out of this debate, one has to do with Mayor Giuliani and his comments that it would be OK to repeal Roe v. Wade, it would be OK if a strict constructionist viewed it as precedent, and Senator McCain saying the Bush administration had terribly mismanaged the war.

Your reaction to both of those moments, which will make all the news here tonight?

GINGRICH: Well, I mean, I do think that, if Mayor Giuliani's position tomorrow clarifies what he just said, that would be a remarkable change from what I understood his position to be. So I think that will certainly lead to several days of conversation, probably more news out of that one item than everything that happened at the Democratic debate a week ago.

In the case of Senator McCain's position, I think he has been -- you have to give him enormous credit. He has been in Iraq over and over again. He has been deeply concerned for years. He has been public about his concerned about this war.

He has served very, very ably in a very senior position in the Senate on this. He's a graduate of Annapolis. As you know, he was a prisoner of war. I mean, Senator McCain has as much authority as any person in this country to render judgment on the mismanagement of the war in Iraq, and I think it's an act of courage on his part to simply tell the truth.

I mean, I don't care how much you like President Bush or how loyal you are to the Republican Party. This is clearly not where we wanted to be and not where we thought we would be in 2003 when the war began.

HANNITY: Is that what you're saying then yourself, Mr. Speaker, that the war is terribly mismanaged? Because I know you've had criticisms, but...

GINGRICH: Look, I said, in December of 2003, publicly in "Newsweek" and on several TV shows, that we went off a cliff in June of 2003 when Ambassador Bremer changed all the plans, abandoned the Iraqi army, failed to go through with having an Iraqi governing council, took over the administration, and made it an American administration. I spoke out as -- if you go back and look at what I said at that time, I was as clear and as direct as I could be that we were on a disastrous path and it was going to cause us an enormous amount of trouble.

Recently, I testified in the Senate in front of Senator Biden's committee, and I outlined 18 additional changes over and above the surge that I thought we needed. And I'm very, very concerned, Sean. I mean, as you know, I think that being defeated in Iraq, which clearly many Democrats in the House and Senate would like to see happen, will be a terrible blow to the United States and to the cause of freedom. And I think it is very, very dangerous for us to contemplate being defeated and think that's going to make life easier.

I think it's doubly dangerous to have the Congress imposing defeat on the United States in a way that will resonate around the world. But I am also very troubled. I believe very deeply in General Petraeus, as I believed earlier in General Abizaid. I think both of them are superb people, and I think that, had their advice been followed more carefully, we'd be in dramatically better shape today.

COLMES: We can debate whether Democrats really want defeat, but I'd rather talk about the debates. I don't see it that way, and many Democrats don't see it that way.

But I want to get back to John McCain, because when John McCain said it's been mismanaged, the other part of what he said tonight was, "But now we're on the right track." Most Americans, Quinnipiac poll out today, says 31 percent don't agree with Bush's Iraq policy. Most Americans don't see it that way. So I wonder if Senator McCain hurt himself by somehow saying we're now on the right track, when many of us, most Americans, don't see a difference.

GINGRICH: Well, look, I think Senator McCain has decided that it's his duty to be honest about what he honestly believes. And I think that's actually a very courageous thing for him to be doing.

I think, on the issue of Iraq, that John McCain is not going to look at any polling. He's not going to listen to any advisors. This is a field where he has spent his lifetime serving his country. He believes in his own knowledge. He knows very, very well the senior military leaders. He has been on the ground. And I think he is telling us what he believes to be the case.

Now, I don't think he's telling us we're going to win the war next Tuesday. I don't think he's telling us that bombings are going to go away. But what he is saying is that the team that General Petraeus has assembled, the strategy that they're following, gives us a better chance of defeating the terrorists than anything we've done up until now.

And, Alan, what we have to face up to as a country is this is very hard and very painful, but the alternative may be worse. And I think that it's very important to have a conscious national dialogue about, what's the world going to look like if the Congress mandates defeat, forces the U.S. to withdraw, and we end up with the entire world seeing us as having been defeated?

COLMES: If that's what it is. You know, most of the candidates, most of the Republican candidates who either want to stay in Iraq, or support a surge, or support the continuation of this war, and I include some Democrats in this, are out of synch with what most of the American public is now saying. So how would the American public vote for somebody who wants to continue any of the Bush policies for which most Americans don't agree?

GINGRICH: Look, I think the question is, what do the American people think after six weeks of discussing the consequences of defeat? I think what we've had -- look, I've not been happy, and I've been pretty public about the fact that I think there are a lot of changes we ought to have in how the American government works. There are a lot of changes we ought to have in what we've been doing in Iraq. I have always been against using American forces in the streets of big cities, because I don't think that they're very effective as policemen. I think they should be the reinforcers of Iraqi troops, rather than enforcers.

So I'm not sitting here as a pie in the sky, let's salute and march forward stubbornly. But I am saying, it's one thing to try to find a way to be patient and determined and to ultimately find a way to victory. It's another thing to say, "Let's set a deadline. Let's guarantee that the U.S. Congress will legislate defeat," and not talk about the consequences, Alan.

All I'm saying is, let's have a national debate about what the world is going to look like a year after the United States is publicly defeated, and the terrorists publicly are in triumph, and countries around the world look at us as a country that doesn't have the will to keep its word and doesn't have the will to protect its friends. I think, after that debate, you might be surprised how many Americans say, "Well, let's go a little slow with this legislative defeat process."

HANNITY: You know, Mr. Speaker, I'm listening to you, and what you're describing is so consequential. And I'm listening to the comments of Senator McCain here tonight and what you're saying here. And I can't imagine, especially in light of the veto that took place, and, you know, the slow bleed strategy that has emerged from the Democrats, and, you know, Harry Reid saying the war is lost, meanwhile we have troops over there in harm's way that are fighting and trying to win this whole thing.

And it seems what you've hit on here is the one thing that nobody has ever thought of: What happens if we lose Iraq? What does the world think? We create a safe haven for Al Qaeda and Iran inside of Iraq, and the world is a less dangerous place. And with all the criticism -- and I guess there's a lot to go around -- it seems that nobody has thought of that and nobody is thinking about that. And I don't think anyone's stopping to do so.

GINGRICH: You know, it's as though our neighbor's house was on fire, to quote Franklin Delano Roosevelt, somebody who I assume Alan would approve of...

HANNITY: At times.

GINGRICH: ... it's as though our neighbor's house was on fire, and we were getting tired of fighting the fire, and we said, you know, let's just give up. This is too hard. The house is going to burn down. And nobody has stopped to say, "Well, what if the fire spreads to our house?"

Yesterday, in Great Britain, five terrorists were sentenced to prison for life, and the judge said to them, "Do not expect to ever be back on the street, because you are ruthless, dangerous, evil men." I just want to suggest to you, the British weren't doing that as some kind of political ploy. They know that they are in a serious, long war and that the terrorists out there want to destroy us, if they can.

So all I think we have to ask is, let's have a national dialogue about, how are we going to manage the Middle East? How are we going to manage America's role in the world? Why would any of our allies trust us, if the Congress decides to legislate defeat and if we, in fact, leave in defeat?

HANNITY: Let me ask you this question.

GINGRICH: I'm not saying this is easy. I am not saying this is a happy time. I'm not saying this is a positive thing we should feel good about. I'm saying that Senator McCain tonight and Governor Thompson both had positive ideas.

HANNITY: What are the troops thinking? We're running out of time. What are the troops thinking when they hear Senator McCain, the Republican, say that? What are they thinking when they hear Senator Reid say that it's lost? What do they think when they have slow bleed strategies and other strategies emerging to cut off bullet supplies and armor? What are these guys thinking, you know, out there?

GINGRICH: There's no question -- I was just told today by somebody who has a son who's serving at Fort Bragg -- that the level of demoralization and confusion among the younger troops watching the Congress, watching the news, watching the debates, watching the maneuvering, these guys want to serve their country. They're willing to risk their lives. They sure wish the political class would get them the money, have the policy fights, but don't mess up the military while you're doing it.

COLMES: The confusion might be because of policy, not because of free speech in the United States, Mr. Speaker.

We thank you very much for being with us tonight. Thank you for your time.

27456  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gonzales at it again! on: May 04, 2007, 05:44:22 PM
BELLEVUE, WA – Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ troubling support of legislation that would allow him and future attorneys general the arbitrary power to block firearms purchases without due process is cause for him to step down as the nation’s highest ranking law enforcement officer, the Second Amendment Foundation said today.

The bill, S. 1237, was introduced last week at the Justice Department’s request by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), one of the most extreme anti-gunners in Congress. Called the “Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2007,” this legislation would give the Attorney General discretionary authority to deny the purchase of a firearm or the issuance of a firearm license or permit because of some vague suspicion that an American citizen may be up to no good.

“This bill,” said SAF founder Alan Gottlieb, “raises serious concerns about how someone becomes a ‘suspected terrorist.’ Nobody has explained how one gets their name on such a list, and worse, nobody knows how to get one’s name off such a list.

“The process by which someone may appeal the Attorney General’s arbitrary denial seems weak at best,” Gottlieb suggested, “and there is a greater concern. When did we decide as a nation that it is a good idea to give a cabinet member the power to deny someone’s constitutional right simply on suspicion, without a trial or anything approaching due process?

“We’re not surprised that General Gonzales has found an agreeable sponsor in Frank Lautenberg,” Gottlieb observed. “The senator from New Jersey has never seen a restrictive gun control scheme he did not immediately embrace, and S. 1237 is loaded with red flags. It would allow an appointed bureaucrat the authority to suspend or cancel someone’s Second Amendment right without even being charged with a crime.

“Attorney General Gonzales has no business asking for that kind of power over any tenet in the Bill of Rights,” Gottlieb said. “He took an oath to uphold the Constitution, not trample it. Perhaps it is time for him to go.”
27457  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: KALI TUDO (tm) Article on: May 04, 2007, 03:59:27 PM
Woof All:

Just a quick yip to say that we are looking to shoot KT2 and maybe KT3 in August.  We haven't decided how to organize it, but subject areas are:

KT for the Clinch
KT against the Guard
KT Guard

Guro Crafty
27458  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: May 04, 2007, 02:39:33 PM

The Burgeoning Extortion Racket along the U.S.-Mexico Border
U.S. authorities are investigating what appears to be a new extortion scheme that involves the threat of bodily harm to attorneys, bankers and their families in Laredo, Texas. This is yet another sign that the extortion racket is expanding and escalating along the U.S.-Mexico border. Left unchecked, this criminal activity could escalate into violence on the U.S. side, similar to what is occurring now south of the border.

Since mid-April, at least a dozen attorneys and an unknown number of bankers have received phone calls from a man threatening to harm them or their families unless money is paid immediately. The caller, who speaks with a Spanish accent, provides a significant amount of personal information about the targets, such as names, addresses, habits and the birthdates and schools of family members.

The caller then orders the targets to wire a certain amount of money to various Western Union offices in Mexico, threatening that "bad things" will happen if they fail to pay. The amount of the extortion demand is unclear, but the victims are given just 30 minutes to send the money. They are told that if the money is even one minute late, they and their families will suffer the consequences -- a tactic designed to prevent targets from thinking rationally, and thus to increase the chances that they will pay. The tactic apparently has worked, as some victims reportedly have complied with the demands and transferred money.

These calls are very similar to the virtual kidnapping
schemes that are common in Mexico. Both exploit the fear generated by the frequent kidnappings in Mexico and the violence that occurs on both sides of the border. While a typical kidnapping requires the victim to be housed and fed -- and thus usually requires a group of accomplices to successfully execute -- crimes of the virtual nature are cheap and easy to commit, requiring very little physical risk and infrastructure. In essence, this crime takes far less effort than one involving an actual kidnap victim.

It is unclear whether the calls in this latest scheme are originating from the United States or Mexico, and whether the scheme is being perpetrated by a lone criminal or an extortion ring. The tactics, however, are similar to other extortion schemes targeting business owners along the border. The targets of those schemes have had connections to both sides of the border, such as a Mexico resident who owns property in Texas. In one case, a Mexican business owner was shown evidence that the criminals threatening him had surveilled his home in Brownsville, Texas. Considering that bankers and lawyers are the targets of this latest scheme, it appears the extortionists are focusing on those who have the ability to pay higher sums than earlier victims.

In most extortion schemes, the problem often is more widespread than it appears on the surface because victims can be reluctant to involve law enforcement authorities on either side of the border for reasons that include distrust of authorities, fear of the consequences and a desire to avoid publicity. This reluctance already has been seen in cases involving trucking companies operating between the United States and Mexico. Evidence suggests that, when threatened with the hijacking of their shipments, many truckers have found it easier and less damaging to their bottom line to simply pay the criminals rather than involve the authorities.

Unlike in extortion cases involving truckers, or even small-business owners and shopkeepers, however, lawyers have better access to law enforcement assistance -- and are more likely to use it. By targeting this group, then, the extortionists appear fearless of law enforcement involvement. This is cause for concern, especially considering that the extortion payments are being directed to Mexico, where drug cartels and other criminals often have killed lawyers and judges. Having already demonstrated a disregard for the law -- and the attorneys who practice it -- these extortionists could progress to more violent means to influence them.
27459  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: May 04, 2007, 02:37:25 PM
The Burgeoning Extortion Racket along the U.S.-Mexico Border

U.S. authorities are investigating what appears to be a new extortion scheme that involves the threat of bodily harm to attorneys, bankers and their families in Laredo, Texas. This is yet another sign that the extortion racket is expanding and escalating along the U.S.-Mexico border. Left unchecked, this criminal activity could escalate into violence on the U.S. side, similar to what is occurring now south of the border.

Since mid-April, at least a dozen attorneys and an unknown number of bankers have received phone calls from a man threatening to harm them or their families unless money is paid immediately. The caller, who speaks with a Spanish (CD: Mexican?) accent, provides a significant amount of personal information about the targets, such as names, addresses, habits and the birthdates and schools of family members.

The caller then orders the targets to wire a certain amount of money to various Western Union offices in Mexico, threatening that "bad things" will happen if they fail to pay. The amount of the extortion demand is unclear, but the victims are given just 30 minutes to send the money. They are told that if the money is even one minute late, they and their families will suffer the consequences -- a tactic designed to prevent targets from thinking rationally, and thus to increase the chances that they will pay. The tactic apparently has worked, as some victims reportedly have complied with the demands and transferred money.

These calls are very similar to the virtual kidnapping
schemes that are common in Mexico. Both exploit the fear generated by the frequent kidnappings in Mexico and the violence that occurs on both sides of the border. While a typical kidnapping requires the victim to be housed and fed -- and thus usually requires a group of accomplices to successfully execute -- crimes of the virtual nature are cheap and easy to commit, requiring very little physical risk and infrastructure. In essence, this crime takes far less effort than one involving an actual kidnap victim.

It is unclear whether the calls in this latest scheme are originating from the United States or Mexico, and whether the scheme is being perpetrated by a lone criminal or an extortion ring. The tactics, however, are similar to other extortion schemes targeting business owners along the border. The targets of those schemes have had connections to both sides of the border, such as a Mexico resident who owns property in Texas. In one case, a Mexican business owner was shown evidence that the criminals threatening him had surveilled his home in Brownsville, Texas. Considering that bankers and lawyers are the targets of this latest scheme, it appears the extortionists are focusing on those who have the ability to pay higher sums than earlier victims.

In most extortion schemes, the problem often is more widespread than it appears on the surface because victims can be reluctant to involve law enforcement authorities on either side of the border for reasons that include distrust of authorities, fear of the consequences and a desire to avoid publicity. This reluctance already has been seen in cases involving trucking companies operating between the United States and Mexico. Evidence suggests that, when threatened with the hijacking of their shipments, many truckers have found it easier and less damaging to their bottom line to simply pay the criminals rather than involve the authorities.

Unlike in extortion cases involving truckers, or even small-business owners and shopkeepers, however, lawyers have better access to law enforcement assistance -- and are more likely to use it. By targeting this group, then, the extortionists appear fearless of law enforcement involvement. This is cause for concern, especially considering that the extortion payments are being directed to Mexico, where drug cartels and other criminals often have killed lawyers and judges. Having already demonstrated a disregard for the law -- and the attorneys who practice it -- these extortionists could progress to more violent means to influence them.
27460  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: May 04, 2007, 12:58:27 PM

From the Staff For the story behind the story...
Friday, May 4, 2007 11:39 a.m. EDT
Hamas Calls for 'Extermination of Jews'

The Palestinian militant organization Hamas not only wants the elimination of the state of Israel, but also the extermination of the Jews, according to the group’s newspaper.

"The extermination of Jews is Allah’s will and is for the benefit of all humanity, according to an article in the Hamas paper Al-Risalah,” the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reports.

"The author of the article, Kan’an Ubayd, explains that the suicide operations carried out by Hamas are being committed solely to fulfill Allah’s wishes. Furthermore, Allah demanded this action, because ‘the extermination of the Jews is good for the inhabitants of the worlds.’”

PMW points out that Hamas’ justification for the extermination of the Jews echoes Adolph Hitler’s words in "Mein Kampf”: "Thus I believe today that I am acting according to the will of the almighty Creator: when I defend myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”

Another Hamas statement monitored by the PMW called Judaism "a faith that is based on murder.”

And in a televised speech, Dr. Ahmad Bahar, Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, called for the killing of Americans as well as Jews.

Bahar said his people were "afflicted by the cancerous lump, that is the Jews, in the heart of the Arab nation,” according to a transcript provided by the PMW.

"Be certain that America is on its way to disappear. America is wallowing [in blood] today in Iraq and Afghanistan. America is defeated and Israel is defeated . . . Allah, take hold of the Jews and their allies. Allah, take hold of the Americans and their allies . . . Allah, count them and kill them to the last one and don’t leave even one.”

© NewsMax 2007. All Rights Reserved.


Added on Saturday evening, what seems to be a better report from another forum:

Here is a fuller report of Bahr's speach. If you want to pass it around Marc, this is probably a better version: Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST May. 1, 2007

Sheik Ahmad Bahr, acting Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, declared during a Friday sermon at a Sudan mosque that America and Israel will be annihilated and called upon Allah to kill Jews and Americans "to the very Last One". Following are excerpts from the sermon that took place last month, courtesy of MEMRI.

Ahmad Bahr began: "You will be victorious" on the face of this planet. You are the masters of the world on the face of this planet. Yes, [the Koran says that] "you will be victorious," but only "if you are believers." Allah willing, "you will be victorious," while America and Israel will be annihilated. I guarantee you that the power of belief and faith is greater than the power of America and Israel. They are cowards, who are eager for life, while we are eager for death for the sake of Allah. That is why America's nose was rubbed in the mud in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Somalia, and everywhere.

Bahr continued and said that America will be annihilated, while Islam will remain. The Muslims "will be victorious, if you are believers." Oh Muslims, I guarantee you that the power of Allah is greater than America, by whom many are blinded today. Some people are blinded by the power of America. We say to them that with the might of Allah, with the might of His Messenger, and with the power of Allah, we are stronger than America and Israel.

The Hamas spokesperson concluded with a prayer, saying: "Oh Allah, vanquish the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them all, down to the very last one. Oh Allah, show them a day of darkness. Oh Allah, who sent down His Book, the mover of the clouds, who defeated the enemies of the Prophet defeat the Jews and the Americans, and bring us victory over them."
27461  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: May 04, 2007, 11:53:17 AM

See the May 4th entry by Gilder's daughter scientifically ripping Al Gore a new butthole so big that he is going to need "Depends"  cheesy

27462  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 04, 2007, 10:31:03 AM
Second post of the morning:


By Hoshyar Zebari
Friday, May 4, 2007; A23

Last weekend a traffic jam several miles long snaked out of the Mansour district in western Baghdad. The delay stemmed not from a car bomb closing the road but from a queue to enter the city's central amusement park. The line became so long some families left their cars and walked to enjoy picnics, fairground rides and soccer, the Iraqi national obsession.

Across the city, restaurants are slowly filling and shops are reopening. The streets are busy. Iraqis are not cowering indoors. The appalling death tolls from suicide attacks are often high because of crowding at markets. These days you are as likely to hear complaints about traffic congestion as about the security situation. Across Baghdad there is a cacophony of sirens from ambulances, firefighters and police providing public services. You cannot even escape the curse of traffic wardens ticketing illegally parked cars.

These small but significant snippets of normality are overshadowed by acts of gross violence, which fuel the opinion of some that Iraq is in a downward spiral. The Iraqi people are indeed suffering tremendous hardships and making grave sacrifices -- but daily life goes on for 7 million Baghdadis struggling to take back their capital and country.

Today, at an international summit on the future of Iraq in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, my government will ask the international community to maintain its engagement in our country to help us achieve our goals of security and stability. We recognize that our request conflicts with a plethora of voices decrying the situation in Iraq and those in the British and American publics who seek an expeditious withdrawal from a war they claim is all but lost.

So why should the world remain engaged in Iraq?

There is no denying the difficulties Iraq faces, and no amount of good news can obscure the demons of terrorism and sectarianism that have risen in my country. But there is too much at stake to risk failure, and everything to gain by helping us protect our hard-won democratic achievements and emerge as a stable, self-sustaining country.

We remain determined in spite of our losses. Spectacular attacks may dominate foreign headlines, but they cannot change the reality that Iraq has made steady political, economic and social progress over the past four years. We continue to strengthen our nascent democratic institutions, pursue national reconciliation and expand Iraqi security forces. The Baghdad security plan was conceived to give us breathing space to expedite political and economic development by "securing and holding" neighborhoods across the capital. There is no quick fix, but there have been real results: Winning public confidence has led to a spike in intelligence, a disruption of terrorist networks and the capture of key leaders, as well as the discovery of weapons caches. In Anbar province, Sunni sheikhs and insurgents have turned against al-Qaeda and to the side of Iraqi security forces. This would have been unthinkable even six months ago.

Contrary to popular belief, most government ministries are located outside the Green Zone, and employees drive to work every day despite death threats and attacks on colleagues and families. We government ministers are always at risk of assassination. When a suicide bomber attacked parliament last month, the legislators sat in defiance in an extraordinary session the following day. I am particularly inspired by the commitment of the young diplomats in the Foreign Ministry, a diverse mix of Sunni, Shiite, Christian, Arab and Kurdish men and women who serve their country without subscribing to religious or sectarian divisions.

Iraqis are standing up every day, and we persevere because there is no other option. We will not surrender our country to terrorists. They have failed to cripple the elected government, and they have failed to intimidate us into submission. Iraqis reject their vision of a future whose hallmarks are bloodshed and hatred.

Those calling for withdrawal may think it is the least painful option, but its benefits would be short-lived. The fate of the region and the world is linked with ours. Leaving a broken Iraq in the Middle East would offer international terrorism a haven and ensure a legacy of chaos for future generations. Furthermore, the sacrifices of all the young men and women who stood up here would have been in vain.

Iraqis, for all our determination and courage, cannot succeed alone. We need a healthy and supportive regional environment. We will not allow our country to be a battleground for settling scores in regional and international conflicts that adversely affect stability inside our borders. Only with continued international commitment and deeper engagement from our neighbors can we establish a stable democratic, federal and united Iraq. The world should not abandon us.

The writer is foreign minister of Iraq.
27463  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / FDA vs. medical freedom on: May 04, 2007, 08:52:43 AM
Drug Czars
May 4, 2007; Page A15

The Food and Drug Administration recently argued in the D.C. Court of Appeals that it has the power to ban meat and vegetables without violating anyone's fundamental rights. The agency chose this bizarre position in an attempt to counter arguments made by patients and their advocates in Abigail Alliance v. von Eschenbach. This groundbreaking case challenges the agency's refusal to grant access to investigational drugs, even as a last resort for terminally ill patients.

Last year, a three-judge panel decided that the FDA is violating the due- process rights of terminally ill patients by denying them access to promising investigational drugs. In response the FDA moved for a rehearing by the full court, hoping to prevent a lower court-supervised examination of whether its draconian policies actually serve a narrowly tailored compelling governmental interest. In layman's terms, this means the FDA would have to show its policies toward terminal patients are so critical to the well-being of society that they supersede (in broad and highly imperfect fashion) the fundamental right of an individual to pursue life free of undue government interference. The FDA knows their policies will not survive this test, and doesn't want the question asked.

Consider the FDA's handling of Genasense, a new drug for melanoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), two often terminal forms of cancer. The drug is being developed by Genta, a small, innovative company with only one approved drug and limited financial resources. Despite compelling evidence that Genasense is making progress in fighting both diseases, the FDA appears determined to kill the drug.

In the case of the melanoma application, instead of reviewing the clinical-trial data in accordance with usual methods (which showed positive results), the FDA chose a nonstandard statistical approach aimed at discrediting the results. The agency used this analysis in its briefing to its advisory committee, claiming that the drug might not be effective. The committee then relied on that information to vote against approval.

Now, Genta has found a serious mathematical error in the FDA's analysis, rendering its results meaningless. Genta is filing a complaint under the Federal Data Quality Act to correct the record. But in the meantime, the drug remains unapproved and melanoma patients continue to wait.

Genasense was also shown in a well-run, randomized clinical trial (the FDA's gold standard) to cause a complete disappearance of disease in 17% of patients with advanced CLL when combined with two older drugs. Just 7% of patients in a control group who received only the older drugs experienced similar benefit. The responders to Genasense have seen their relief last an average of 36 months, while those using other drugs saw their cancer return, on average, in 22 months.

Following these results, the Director of the FDA's cancer division, Dr. Richard Pazdur, again convened a public meeting of his advisory committee. After an agency presentation designed to elicit a negative outcome, the panel voted 7 to 3 against approval, triggering an immediate reaction of surprise and dismay among many CLL experts.

But the committee vote is less surprising if one knows that the FDA appointed several voting consultants to the committee (none of them CLL experts), and recused from the meeting the only sitting member of the committee who is an expert in CLL. Perhaps even more troubling, two of the voting committee members worked behind the scenes as undisclosed consultants for the FDA on Genasense, then without disclosure voted in the open meeting.

A shocked Genta quickly requested a meeting with the FDA to seek clarity on the agency's position, and to present additional information from patient follow-up. On the referral of an eminent leukemia expert, Genta asked if we would attend the meeting as witnesses in our capacity as patient advocates. No compensation was offered, requested or received.

Most of the meeting was consumed by getting the FDA to admit the obvious: The long-lasting, complete disappearance of CLL and its symptoms constituted "clinical benefit." Making these arguments were two cancer-medicine professors at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the recused ODAC member and an immediate past president of the American Society of Hematology -- all experts in CLL. None were employees of Genta and collectively represented a far more qualified advisory committee than the one that the FDA had convened.

The FDA's inane answer to the CLL experts was that the long-lasting disappearance of disease in patients taking Genasense was a "theoretical construct" and not grounds for approval.

The experts explained to the FDA that complete responses in advanced CLL patients are the medical equivalent of the Holy Grail. The FDA finally agreed, but was unimpressed with emerging data showing responders to Genasense living longer than responders in the control group.

The experts were unanimous in advising that Genasense should be approved, but the FDA was unmoved. The agency's Dr. Pazdur suggested that Genta could make the drug available as an unapproved treatment through an expanded access program -- this from a regulator fond of stating that the best way to get a drug to patients in need is through approval! In this case the agency was saying to Genta: We are not going to approve your drug, but any patient who needs it can have it so long as you give it away.

Genta responded that nonapproval would be a denial of patient access to Genasense because they could not afford to give it away in an expanded access program. Twice, Dr. Pazdur referred to that logic as a "business decision."

Less than 48 hours later, the FDA rejected Genasense. Within days Genta made a "business decision," laying off a third of its staff in a cost cutting move aimed at keeping the doors open long enough to appeal the FDA's decision. The appeal was filed in early April. Genta's announcement of the filing included a statement from one of the expert physicians: "It is puzzling that they would deny approval to a drug that met its primary and key secondary endpoint, especially since these findings were observed in the only randomized controlled trial that has ever been conducted in patients with relapsed CLL."

The FDA's handling of Genasense lays bare the all too common, aggressive incompetence of the FDA's cancer-drug division and should lead to an immediate examination of its policies and leadership, followed by swift corrective action.

As for the FDA's belief that their power to control us and even deny us the pursuit of life itself is unlimited under the Constitution, we can only hope the appeals court disagrees. An agency that blocks progress against deadly diseases -- while arguing that its power to do so is above challenge -- is in dire need of a court supervised review.

Mr. Walker is co-founder and chief adviser for the Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs . He receives no compensation for his work as an advocate, nor has he ever received compensation from any private or public-sector entity involved in drug development, approval or marketing.
27464  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Negroponte on: May 04, 2007, 08:44:52 AM


1. Special Issues Arise When Buying a Laptop
2. Why What You Have Is Never Enough
3. Battle for ABN Hits Legal Snag
4. Ohio Town Plans for Population Decline
5. Obama Runs Into Dust-Up on MySpace

 Personalized Home Page Setup
 Put headlines on your homepage about the companies, industries and topics that interest you most. 
What's Going Right in Iraq
May 4, 2007; Page A15

By now it goes without saying that sectarian conflict and extremism in Iraq cannot be solved by military means alone -- it will take national reconciliation, economic reform and development, and international support as well. And as a former ambassador to Iraq, I know how difficult it is to create an alternative to coercive violence in a country that has lived under these conditions for decades.

In 2004 the U.N. Security Council laid out an arduous agenda for Iraq when it regained its sovereignty. This included setting up an interim government and electing a transitional government, writing and adopting a constitution, electing a permanent government, and developing national reconciliation based on the rule of law, tolerance and pluralism.

Despite horrific violence, much of that agenda has been implemented, though not national reconciliation. Nonetheless, the Iraqis have come a long way in what has been a short time for them. Pressing them to continue moving ahead on national reconciliation and reform is well-justified. But imposing fixed deadlines would be ill-advised.

Fixed deadlines would empower the obstructionists, stiffening their resolve to resist and delay by showing them where to concentrate their efforts. It would also weaken the moderates who -- forced to face a near-term future without us -- would hedge their bets and be less willing to broker hard political compromises. This could provoke even greater violence and insecurity, the opposite effect of that presumably intended by those advocating deadlines. That is why President Bush just issued only the second veto of his administration.

The fact is that critically important economic, political and diplomatic progress is being made; we must not allow the fog of war to obscure major developments that are fundamental to stability in Iraq and the region. These developments are more powerful than bombs -- they are the stuff of which modern nation states are made and the basis upon which they survive and thrive.

The U.S. has spent more than 84% of its major reconstruction appropriation in 11 sectors. Despite some missteps, inevitable given the chaotic conditions, these projects have brought significant benefits to the Iraqi people and will continue to do so for decades.

Now we are shifting toward increasing the capacity of Iraqis to meet their own needs. This is critical to Iraq's prospects for effective self-governance. In 2006 we began a ministerial capacity development program and completed the initial rollout of our Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) program. We're on track to double the number of PRTs from 10 to 20, deploying specialists to support moderates in local government, civil society and business.

Without question, oil is the most important and contentious economic sector. The Iraqis are making progress on a legislative package that is extremely important for national reconciliation. That this will prompt a great deal of debate should surprise no one. Such debate is healthy. Politically and economically, the stakes are high.

Iraq's financial position is improving, and the government is making budget execution a priority for 2007. The $1 billion that the Ministry of Finance released upon enactment of the budget has been delivered. Thus far, 94 of 128 spending units have opened the capital expenditure accounts needed for the full Iraqi budget to be disbursed. Some key ministries like Oil have not performed well. Others -- such as Communications, which has allocated 90% of its capital budget already -- are making good headway.

The International Compact with Iraq -- a road map for what Iraq will need to do over the next five years to achieve economic self-sufficiency -- is another step forward. Iraq has produced this credible package of economic reforms in 10 short months. There's no package like this anywhere else in the region.

Another positive development is that the IMF Board of Directors has approved the combined third and fourth reviews of Iraq's Stand-By Arrangement, keeping Iraq on track for the final 20% of Paris Club debt relief due in 2008. As part of this arrangement, Iraq has cut fuel subsidies, increased hard currency reserves to $18 billion, and mitigated inflationary pressure by appreciating the Iraqi dinar against the U.S. dollar and raising interest rates. These are tough measures. Countries less troubled than Iraq have balked or failed when trying to take similar steps.

Iraq's national reconciliation, reconstruction and stability depend not only on its internal policies but also on its relations with its neighbors. The Neighbors Conference being held this week in Sharm el-Sheikh is giving Iraq an important opportunity to improve those relations. We strongly support this effort.

As Gen. Petraeus explained last week, security is a necessary condition for sustained progress in the political, economic and diplomatic dimensions. By the same token, political, economic and diplomatic progress is necessary for achieving improved security. The two go hand-in-hand.

When I was ambassador to Iraq two years ago, the country had no permanent government, no Council of Representatives, no constitution, no IMF Stand-By Arrangement, no hydrocarbon laws in draft or otherwise, no willingness to cut subsidies, no International Compact with Iraq, and no forum for constructive dialogue with its neighbors and international community leaders. Now all that exists. It is what the Iraqis and we are fighting for, and what the terrorists and extremists are fighting against.

Mr. Negroponte is the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State.
27465  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Politica-Economia en Latino America on: May 04, 2007, 08:42:36 AM
Losing Latin America
May 4, 2007; Page A14
Wall Street Journal
A popular theme among Democrats running for President is their pledge to make America better liked around the world. Hillary Clinton says she'll even dispatch her husband as a kind of ambassador to the world. Well, he might start in Latin America, where our allies are getting stiffed by Democrats in Congress on trade and security.

We're referring in particular to Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, who has been in Washington this week, making his case for the U.S.-Colombia free-trade agreement and for continued U.S. help against terrorism. Colombia, Peru and Panama have all negotiated trade accords with the U.S. that, pending Congressional approval, would raise living standards and expand American influence.

A defeat for any of the three would do great harm to the Andean region, where democrats are battling Hugo Chávez's neo-socialist populism. Mr. Uribe, Peruvian President Álan Garcia and Panamanian President Martin Torrijos have all bet their futures on opening their economies to the U.S. If they're rebuffed, the local disciples of Mr. Chávez will say they were right not to trust the capitalist Yankees. The consequences won't look good on Nancy Pelosi's resume.

On economic grounds alone, the U.S. has everything to gain by approving these trade deals. Most Peruvian and Colombian exports already have duty-free access to the U.S. market through the Andean Trade Preferences Act. But U.S. manufacturing and farm exports heading south still face high tariff and non-tariff barriers. The regional financial center of Panama is especially attractive for U.S. services but is likewise a protected market.

The larger goal is spurring development and improving the investment climate in all three countries. While Colombia and Peru have duty-free access to U.S. markets, that privilege must be renewed every few years. The FTAs end this uncertainty. Even if Latin producers lose some protection, new access to imports means they can use help from abroad to innovate and grow more competitive. This is how Chile became an export powerhouse and reduced poverty. Maybe that's why Chile's Socialist President Michelle Bachelet has endorsed the deals.

None of this matters to some Democrats, whose loyalty to the AFL-CIO trumps their concern for the poor. Having won assurances that our Latin trading partners would enforce their labor and environmental laws at home, such Democrats as Michigan's Sander Levin are now asking for more. They're threatening to block the Latin FTAs unless the U.S. accepts language that would force U.S. companies to adhere to International Labor Organization "core principles." These "principles" have never passed Congress, in part because they'd put "right-to-work" states in legal jeopardy. Republicans won't support a trade pact with such a provision, which suggests that Mr. Levin intends it as a poison pill.

All of this is taking place while Venezuela's Mr. Chávez is working to reduce American influence in the Western Hemisphere. He's doing energy deals with China while confiscating U.S. oil assets. And he's pressing to supplant the U.S. goal of hemispheric free trade with a high-tariff South American customs union that he would run. Bolivia and Ecuador have already been captured by versions of chavismo, though Peru and Colombia have so far escaped thanks to their political leadership.

Colombia is especially vulnerable, as Mr. Chávez provides aid and comfort to that country's narco-trafficking guerrillas. This is why Mr. Uribe is also asking for continued U.S. assistance to fight organized crime. The State Department has certified that Colombia has held up its commitment to human rights under this "Plan Colombia" agreement.

But now that they control Congress again, Democrats are putting this policy in doubt. Mr. Levin says the Colombia FTA should be blocked on human rights grounds, claiming that Mr. Uribe's impressive record of reducing murder, kidnapping and terrorism isn't good enough. Vermont Senator Pat Leahy has put a hold on $55 million in new Plan Colombia funding because of false human rights charges coming from Mr. Uribe's political enemies in Bogotá. Mr. Leahy's grandstanding is all the more embarrassing because U.S. demand for cocaine is the largest source of financing for the criminal networks that have killed so many innocent Colombians.

If Democrats want to make more enemies in Latin America, this is the way to do it. The twice-elected Mr. Uribe is the most far-sighted leader Colombia has had in decades, and his FTA is an attempt to align his country's future firmly with the hemisphere's free-market democracies. Peru, Panama and Colombia are saying they want to be America's political and economic partners. Do Democrats in Congress want to drive them into the arms of Mr. Chávez?
27466  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gagging Shaha Riza on: May 04, 2007, 08:27:13 AM
Gagging Shaha Riza
Why won't the World Bank let her have her say?
Friday, May 4, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Since the misnamed "Wolfowitz scandal" broke last month, enemies of the World Bank president have engaged in selective press leaks and calculated smears intended to oust him. Most of these leaks have come from within the bank itself, not that we've seen any effort by the institution to stop them.

Meanwhile, the bank bureaucracy has systematically sought to prevent Mr. Wolfowitz and his girlfriend Shaha Riza from telling their side of the story. Exhibit A is the bank's refusal to allow Ms. Riza--whose raise and promotion are the central issue--to defend herself even in a newspaper op-ed.

That was the order she received this week from one W. Paatii Ofosu-Amaah, a longtime bank bureaucrat from Ghana who serves as its vice president and corporate secretary. Both Ms. Riza and her lawyer declined to comment and were not our sources, but others who've seen the letter tell us that Mr. Ofosu-Amaah cited the bank's disclosure policies regarding board proceedings to forbid Ms. Riza from taking her case to the public.

That's more than odd, given that Ms. Riza currently works at a State Department affiliate; her salary continues to be paid by the bank as part of an agreement to avoid a "conflict of interest" claimed by the bank's own ethics committee. Bank sources also tell us that Mr. Ofosu-Amaah was among those who opposed letting Mr. Wolfowitz and Ms. Riza testify on Monday to the "ad hoc committee" investigating the case. One source adds that, "like several other vice presidents, Paatii took the position that a verdict could be reached through the documentary evidence alone."

Maybe that explains why this kangaroo court was prepared last week to reach a guilty verdict against Mr. Wolfowitz before either he or Ms. Riza had been given a chance to appear, according to "three senior bank officials" cited on Saturday by the Washington Post. Mr. Ofosu-Amaah's office didn't return our calls, naturally.
27467  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: May 03, 2007, 05:29:44 PM

'Goat Man' of Sudan Becomes a 'Widower'

Thursday , May 03, 2007

Charles Tombe just may be the world's most unique widower.

The Sudanese man's bizarre story first came to light more than a year ago when a newspaper in his hometown of Juba reported that he had been caught having sexual relations with... a goat.

Tombe was arrested, and later told a Sudanese judge that he was drunk at the time and didn't realize what he'd done.

The judge, however, relying on tribal law, passed judgment and equated Tombe's crime with that of a man caught sleeping with an unmarried girl, who would be ordered to marry her immediately to protect her honor and that of her family.

The judge, therefore ordered Tombe to pay the owner of the goat — named Rose — a dowry of 15,000 Sudanese dinars (about $50 at the time) — and marry the goat.

Hand-and-hoof, the two returned to Tombe's home.

"The idea was to publicly embarrass the man," says Tom Rhodes, editor of the Juba Post, which first ran the story.

Shortly after Tombe brought Rose back to his Juba home, the black-and-white goat gave birth to a male kid.

Villagers, meanwhile, started calling Tombe "The Goat Man," a title he so loathed that he kept to himself, allowing Rose to roam local streets, where it is believed she ate a plastic bag, choked and died this week.

Unlike the Anna Nicole Smith custody battle, however, there's no controversy involving the "couple's" offspring: Tombe gets to keep the kid.
27468  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: May 03, 2007, 04:42:33 PM
Second post of the day:

The American Century
May 3, 2007; Page A17

If one had to pinpoint the birth of globalization, a good bet would be Aug. 15, 1971, when President Richard Nixon dropped the U.S. dollar's convertibility to gold. This led to an irreversible breakdown of fixed exchange rates, initiated the modern era of globalization, and provided the rationale for the launch of financial futures by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).

As the world left the gold standard in favor of the information standard, the U.S. had the so-called "first mover advantage." For the next three decades we dominated the world's capital markets, dwarfing everyone. With derivatives, the CME, Chicago Board of Trade and New York Mercantile Exchange initiated the modern futures era. In over-the-counter, financial engineers created a vast array of financial instruments. In securities, Chicago Board Options Exchange stock options were born, and the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, as well as other American exchanges grew without equal -- deeper and more liquid than anywhere else.

Merton Miller, Nobel Laureate in economics, liked to say the period between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s was unique. In his view, no other 20-year period in recorded American history witnessed even a tenth of the financial innovation of those two decades. But time marched on. Suddenly, American first mover advantage was over. The growth track the U.S. maintained in the decades after the onset of globalization has been steadily leveling off, while the growth track of other industrial nations has ramped up. The U.S., its commercial enterprises and its exchanges are facing serious competition from other capital markets.

Recently three major studies, one led by Glenn Hubbard and John Thornton, another by Sen. Charles Schumer and Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the third by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, have concluded that America is losing its dominance in world securities markets. These studies were a wake-up call. But reducing the Sarbanes-Oxley regulatory requirements, as these studies suggested, while a good idea, will by itself not alter the dynamic. Nor will we fix the problem with populist demagoguery advocating a protectionist agenda. "America First" solutions have been tried before and are self-defeating. In today's globalized marketplace, such remedies would be devastating to both U.S. capital markets and the American standard of living.

To find a solution one must first recognize the cause of the problem. We have entered a new era in the global marketplace. The industrial world has caught up with us. It has learned the value of Milton Friedman's free-market precepts, adopted them and put them to work. All major capital markets have modern trading capabilities, competent securities and derivatives exchanges, cutting-edge technology and banks that are as solid as our own. We are beginning to feel the competitive pinch from the Asian giants China and India. Within a decade their competitive presence will be felt in every segment of the marketplace. Needless to say, we were excellent teachers and our students learned well.

To remain competitive in the 21st century, the U.S. must first accept the reality of the modern global paradigm. We cannot pretend or assume that things will ever again be as they were. In the future, our private sector will have to fight for business flows on a world stage. It will require our best efforts and brightest minds. Similarly, U.S. government officials must accept the fact that U.S. businesses face competitors from across the ocean rather than across the river.

The old road map is history. The new map necessitates continued deregulation to promote continued innovation, reduction of burdensome compliance costs, containment of baseless litigation and open markets for goods. Beyond that, we must redouble our efforts to sustain the academic excellence that helped give us our first-mover advantage in the first place.

The fruit of our labor resulting from a three-decade, first-mover advantage is a priceless intellectual legacy -- a unique reservoir of knowledge, ideas and experience that can become an arsenal of competitive weaponry for the future. This, coupled with the constitutional and cultural birthright that encourages Americans to think freely, experiment and create, gives us an endowment of extraordinary potency.

Mr. Melamed is chairman emeritus of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
27469  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Shadow Candidates on: May 03, 2007, 04:38:16 PM
The Shadow Candidates
The art of not running for president.

Thursday, May 3, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Tonight 10 Republicans go on stage to trade sound bites in a debate at the Reagan Library in Los Angeles. But a lot of media oxygen is being used up by the "noncandidate candidates"--those who might want to be president, but haven't yet officially jumped into the race.

In every election some conventional wisdom is swept aside. Be it that third party candidates can't influence the race (Ross Perot won 19% of the popular vote in 1992), that sitting presidents have to wait for their opposing party to pick a candidate (Bill Clinton ran negative ads more than a year before the 1996 election and went on to be the first Democrat to win re-election since FDR in 1944) or that an Internet-based campaign can't threaten an establishment candidate (Howard Dean surged, if briefly, past everyone in 2004), conventional wisdom is only right until it turns out to be wrong. This year, the assumption that the best way to run for president is to, well, run for president might go by the boards.

Everyone agrees on the negatives of being a noncandidate. Rivals scoop up cash, campaign talent and endorsements while noncandidates sit and wait. But for the already well-known, there are advantages to being "outside the ring." While official candidates are scrutinized relentlessly for gaffes and battered by "independent" opposition groups, noncandidates can be selective in their media exposure and appear high-minded.
Playing hard-to-get also creates allure and curiosity. Today noncandidates appeal to both parties. Depending on the poll, between one-third and three-fifths of Republicans are dissatisfied with their current crop of candidates. Last month, a straw poll at the Oklahoma Republican Party's convention saw noncandidates Fred Thompson and Newt Gingrich top the field with a majority of the votes between them. Democrats are more happy with their field, but persistent doubts about Hillary Clinton's electability or Barack Obama's seasoning fuels speculation that Al Gore or some other savior will enter the race.

Mr. Gingrich is touring the country touting his ideas without the scrutiny and legal constraints that an official candidate's fund-raising team would get. His aim is to offer "solutions so compelling that if voters say I have to be the president, it will happen." He will make up his mind in September, but in the meantime his audiences are larger, his influence greater and his exposure on TV even more ubiquitous.

The same is true for Mr. Gore. Only a noncandidate could get the praise and royal treatment he enjoyed testifying before Congress in March. This summer, he is both losing weight and keeping his name in the headlines by promoting his new book and environmentally themed rock concerts. Even if he doesn't win the Nobel Peace Prize this fall, he could parachute into the presidential race. He has trained thousands of people to present his global-warming film in every state, a cast of supporters who could easily be converted into campaign volunteers. A Quinnipiac Poll of three battleground states shows that Mr. Gore polls better against leading Republicans than either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama.

Mr. Thompson, whose movies and network appearances are a fixture on TV screens, is clearly being helped for now by not being part of the candidate pack. The day after tonight's GOP debate he will appear before a large GOP audience in Orange County, 75 miles south of the Reagan Library. C-Span and CNN will cover the event live. His solo act may get as many viewers as tonight's debate. Pollsters John Zogby and Doug Schoen both agree that Mr. Thompson could shake up the GOP race.

Another candidate who could transform the race is popular New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, a client of Mr. Schoen's. He has already told friends he could easily spend $500 million of his own money on an independent run and could snap up middle-of-the-road voters from both parties.

Whoever runs, looking over this year's shadow candidates it is clear that they are changing the rules of American politics. "Americans love having more choices," says Peter Brown, an analyst with the Quinnipiac Poll. "They'll now even give noncandidates a real look to see if there's something there they're missing in the others."
In 2000, blogger Mickey Kaus refined the Feiler Faster Thesis, which holds that though news cycles are constantly getting faster, "people are comfortable processing that information with what seems like breathtaking speed." This rapid pace may be transforming presidential politics. Voters aren't waiting for pundits to tell them who is running for president, and shadow candidates can run low-cost guerilla campaigns using the Internet, talk shows and word-of-mouth. "Candidates have been running so long already it opens up opportunities for late entries," says Glenn Reynolds of "We may not like it, but voter boredom may now be a driver of politics."

Modern presidential campaigns started in 1960 when the first Kennedy-Nixon debate established the primacy of television. This upcoming race could mark similar dramatic changes in the pace, shape and tone of elections to come.

27470  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: May 03, 2007, 04:05:10 PM

You are right.


You too.

27471  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Intellectual Property theft on: May 03, 2007, 10:59:35 AM
The tenor of this piece is vintage NY Slimes, but it does report something of interest to those who seek to protect their intellectual property.

In Web Uproar, Antipiracy Code Spreads Wildly
Published: May 3, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO, May 2 — There is open revolt on the Web.

Jim Wilson/The New York Times
Does encryption of media files unfairly limit consumer freedom?

Sophisticated Internet users have banded together over the last two days to publish and widely distribute a secret code used by the technology and movie industries to prevent piracy of high-definition movies.

The broader distribution of the code may not pose a serious threat to the studios, because it requires some technical expertise and specialized software to use it to defeat the copy protection on Blu-ray and HD DVD discs. But its relentless spread has already become a lesson in mob power on the Internet and the futility of censorship in the digital world.

An online uproar came in response to a series of cease-and-desist letters from lawyers for a group of companies that use the copy protection system, demanding that the code be removed from several Web sites.

Rather than wiping out the code — a string of 32 digits and letters in a specialized counting system — the legal notices sparked its proliferation on Web sites, in chat rooms, inside cleverly doctored digital photographs and on user-submitted news sites like

“It’s a perfect example of how a lawyer’s involvement can turn a little story into a huge story,” said Fred von Lohmann, a staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group. “Now that they started sending threatening letters, the Internet has turned the number into the latest celebrity. It is now guaranteed eternal fame.”

The number is being enshrined in some creative ways. Keith Burgon, a 24-year-old musician in Goldens Bridge, N.Y., grabbed his acoustic guitar on Tuesday and improvised a melody while soulfully singing the code. He posted the song to YouTube, where it was played more than 45,000 times.

“I thought it was a source of comedy that they were trying so futilely to quell the spread of this number,” Mr. Burgon said. “The ironic thing is, because they tried to quiet it down it’s the most famous number on the Internet.”

During his work break on Tuesday, James Bertelson, an engineer in Vancouver, Wash., joined the movement and created a Web page featuring nothing but the number, obscured in an encrypted format that only insiders could appreciate. He then submitted his page to Digg, a news site where users vote on what is important. Despite its sparse offerings, his submission received nearly 5,000 votes and was propelled onto Digg’s main page.

“For most people this is about freedom of speech, and an industry that thinks that just because it has high-priced lawyers it has the final say,” Mr. Bertelson said.

Messages left for those lawyers and the trade organization they represent, the Advanced Access Content System Licensing Administrator, which controls the encryption system known as A.A.C.S., were not answered. In an e-mail message, a representative for the group said only that it “is looking into the matter and has no further comment at this time.”

The organization is backed by technology companies like I.B.M., Intel, Microsoft and Sony and movie studios like Disney and Warner Brothers, which is owned by Time Warner.

The secret code actually stopped being a secret in February, when a hacker ferreted it out of his movie-playing software and posted it on a Web bulletin board. From there it spread through the network of technology news sites and blogs.

Last month, lawyers for the trade group began sending out cease-and-desist letters, claiming that Web pages carrying the code violated its intellectual property rights under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Letters were sent to Google, which runs a blog network at, and the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

The campaign to remove the number from circulation went largely unnoticed until news of the letters hit Digg. The 25-employee company in San Francisco, acting on the advice of its lawyers, removed posting submissions about the secret number from its database earlier this week, then explained the move to its readers on Tuesday afternoon.

The removals were seen by many Digg users as a capitulation to corporate interests and an assault on free speech. Some also said that the trade group that promotes the HD-DVD format, which uses A.A.C.S. protection, had advertised on a weekly Digg-related video podcast.

On Tuesday afternoon and into the evening, stories about or including the code swamped Digg’s main page, which the company says gets 16 million readers each month. At 9 p.m. West Coast time, the company surrendered to mob sentiment.

“You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company,” wrote Kevin Rose, Digg’s founder, in a blog post. “We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.” If Digg loses, he wrote, “at least we died trying.”

Jay Adelson, Digg’s chief executive, said in an interview that the site was disregarding the advice of its lawyers. “We just decided that it is more important to stand by our users,” he said. Regarding the company’s exposure to lawsuits he said, “we are just going to prepare and do our best.”

The conflict spilled over to Wikipedia, where administrators had to restrict editing on some entries to keep contributors from repeatedly posting the code.

The episode recalls earlier acts of online rebellion against the encryption that protects media files from piracy. Some people believe that such systems unfairly limit their freedom to listen to music and watch movies on whatever devices they choose.

In 1999, hackers created a program called DeCSS that broke the software protecting standard DVDs and posted it on the hacker site The Motion Picture Association of America sued, and Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court in Manhattan, citing the 1998 digital copyright act, sided with the movie industry.

The DVD code disappeared from the 2600 site, but nevertheless resurfaced in playful haiku, on T-shirts and even in a movie in which the code scrolled across the screen like the introductory crawl in “Star Wars.”

In both cases, the users who joined the revolt and published the codes may be exposing themselves to legal risk. Chris Sprigman, an associate professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, said that under the digital copyright act, propagating even parts of techniques intended to circumvent copyright was illegal.

However, with thousands of Internet users now impudently breaking the law, Mr. Sprigman said that the entertainment and technology industries would have no realistic way to pursue a legal remedy. “It’s a gigantic can of worms they’ve opened, and now it will be awfully hard to do anything with lawsuits,” he said.

NY Times
27472  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: May 03, 2007, 10:19:08 AM
Good questions SB Mig.

This analysis from Stratfor I think does a good job of showing just how complicated all this is.

The Iraq Security Conference: Hanging a Deal on Faulty Assumptions
By Kamran Bokhari

After weeks of playing hard to get, Iran announced April 29 that Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki will attend the May 3-4 conference in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, where Iraq's neighboring states and major world powers will explore ways to stabilize Iraq. The same day, Iranian national security chief Ali Larijani traveled to Baghdad on a surprise three-day visit apparently aimed at discussing security and the upcoming conference with Iraqi officials.

The United States welcomed Iran's decision to attend the conference, calling it a "positive" development. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hinted before Iran's announcement at the possibility of meeting directly with Mottaki on the sidelines of the conference. President George W. Bush later explained that Rice and Mottaki could engage in bilateral talks within the context of the multilateral event, though he ruled out separate public-level talks between Tehran and Washington. Things still could go wrong before May 3, and Mottaki could decide against attending the conference, but for now it looks like he will show up. Deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Mostafavi said May 1 that, while Iran is ready to hold "discussions" with the United States, the conditions are not appropriate for negotiations.

The potential open engagement between the United States and Iran at the foreign ministry level would be the culmination of back-channel negotiations that started even before the United States led the invasion of Iraq. In other words, the Bush administration -- long after having scrapped its original deal with Tehran on the makeup of a post-war Iraqi government -- has reached a preliminary understanding with Iran's clerical regime on how the two sides will proceed with regard to stabilizing Iraq in the wake of the unexpected Sunni insurgency, the subsequent sectarian war and the involvement of Arab Sunni states in the fray.

The Sharm el-Sheikh conference, then, represents the launch of the formal process of hammering out a complex, multi-party deal to piece together the Humpty Dumpty that is Iraq.

The U.S.-Iranian back-channel talks were never going to result in a deal on how to divide Iraq; rather, they were a way for Washington and Tehran to work out their respective concerns about a future post-Baathist Iraq before taking the problem to the wider forum. The back-channel talks, which provide the context for the multilateral conference, will continue -- though the real deal will likely emerge from this wider forum.

Throughout the years of behind-the-scenes talks, the two sides have been unable to reach an understanding that balances the concerns of both with regard to Iraq's future. Iran does not want an Iraq with close ties to the United States -- one that threatens Iranian national security and Tehran's regional aspirations. Conversely, the United States does not want to see an Iraq dominated by Iran -- a situation that would allow Tehran to threaten the Arab states in the Persian Gulf/Arabian Peninsula, and thus U.S. regional interests. Moreover, the involvement of Sunni Arab states that feel threatened by the rise of Iran and its Shiite Arab allies has further complicated U.S.-Iranian dealings. Saudi Arabia, which has emerged as the leader of the Arab world, has been spearheading the move to counter Iran.

Complications aside, the Saudi efforts to insert themselves into the equation have given Washington a tool with which to counter Iranian moves. In fact, just as the Bush administration has used the Iraqi Sunni card to rein in the country's Shia (Washington has signaled to the Shia that it is willing to cut deals with the Sunnis, especially the Baathists), it has leveraged its alignment with the Arab states to contain the Iranians. While the United States needs Iranian cooperation to stabilize Iraq, the Iranians also need the United States to ensure that the Arab states and their Iraqi Sunni allies will not threaten Iranian interests.

The upcoming conference, therefore, is immensely important to all sides. The meeting represents a formal acknowledgement by all parties of the sphere of influence the Iranians and the Saudis will have in Iraq. Both Riyadh and Tehran want assurances that each other's respective proxies -- the Shiite militias and the Sunni insurgents -- will be restrained from creating security issues for them. In recent weeks, the Iranians have demonstrated they can get Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr's militia, the Mehdi Army, to more or less go along with the security plan. On the other hand, the Saudi announcement of the arrests of jihadist militants and the seizure of large sums of cash and weapons was meant as a reciprocating message that Riyadh, too, can rein in the jihadists who threaten the Shia -- and, by extension, the Iranian position in Iraq.

The general understanding has been that a U.S.-Saudi-Iranian deal could help stabilize Iraq -- the assumption being that Riyadh and Tehran have the ability to rein in their respective militias and insurgents in Iraq. Although ending the violence is beyond either country's ability, the Saudis and the Iranians are letting on that they can contain their fighters -- for a price. The Saudis want to ensure that Iraq's Sunni community has a sufficient share of the political pie in Baghdad so that, even with Shiite domination of the Iraqi state, the Iranians could not use Iraq as a military springboard into the Arabian Peninsula. For their part, the Iranians want assurances that the Sunni minority in Iraq never again will be in a position to threaten Iran's national security. More than that, however, the Islamic republic would like to be able to use its influence to pull strings within the Iraqi Shiite-dominated government.

This is the dilemma that faces the United States and the Sunni Arab states. They want to figure out how to acknowledge Iranian influence in Iraq's affairs, but still prevent Tehran from using such influence to enhance its power. Iraq's ethno-sectarian demography -- it is only approximately 20 percent Sunni -- is what scares Washington and its Arab allies. They are hoping, then, that ensuring the Sunnis a sufficient share of the Iraqi government will serve to check the Iranian/Shiite rise. To achieve that goal, however, the United States and Saudi Arabia would have to make a major reciprocal concession: acknowledging that a larger share of the pie will be in the hands of the Shia. This is one of the key reasons why reining in the Shiite militias has become a prerequisite for containing the Sunni insurgency.

This brings us back to the Sharm el-Sheikh conference, where Tehran is hoping the United States and its Arab allies acknowledge Iranian interests in Iraq in exchange for Iran's willingness to restrain the Shiite militias. The Arabs are willing to give Tehran the recognition it wants, though they are operating from a position of relative weakness and cannot trust that Iran would not use a relatively stable Iraq to extend its influence across the Persian Gulf.

Furthermore, although the Bush administration is downplaying the possibility, the Arabs are concerned that the political pendulum in the United States is swinging heavily in favor of an early pullout -- or major drawdown -- of coalition forces from Iraq. Since, in the long run, they cannot trust Washington to underwrite a deal with the Iranians, the Arabs are hesitant to sign a document that would effectively give Iran the room to maneuver as it pleases. This is the root of the Saudi reluctance to use its influence among the Iraqi Sunnis to help contain sectarian violence.

More important, however, Iraq's Sunni and Shiite communities are so internally factionalized (the Shia to a greater extent) that neither Tehran nor Riyadh is likely to succeed in shutting down the militancy. Moreover, the multiplicity of Shiite political and militant factions makes it difficult for Iran to keep all of them happy -- and thus on board with any deal it might be willing to cut. The continuing strife in the Shiite south, especially in the oil-rich city of Basra, is but one example of the problems the Iranians face in this regard.

Similarly, the Saudis cannot claim to speak for all the Sunnis. But even more problematic for Riyadh is that its best weapon against the Iranians is the jihadists, especially those affiliated with al Qaeda -- precisely those who pose a major national security threat to the Saudi kingdom.

The question, then, is whether the Saudis and the Iranians can actually deliver on a triangular deal involving each of them and the third main state actor in Iraq -- the United States. It would appear that their fears over their respective interests have forced them to deal with one another despite their apprehensions.

Ultimately, however, the three big players are negotiating a security deal that rests on the faulty assumptions that each side has enough sway over the various factions inside Iraq to make an agreement actually work.
27473  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Smartest/Nuttiest Futurist on Earth on: May 02, 2007, 11:37:39 PM

The smartest (or the nuttiest) futurist on Earth
Ray Kurzweil is a legendary inventor with a history of mind-blowing ideas. Now he's onto something even bigger. If he's right, the future will be a lot weirder and brighter than you think.
By Brian O'Keefe, Fortune senior editor
May 2 2007: 11:08 AM EDT

(Fortune Magazine) -- If you went around saying that in a couple of decades we'll have cell-sized, brain-enhancing robots circulating through our bloodstream or that we'll be able to upload a person's consciousness into a computer, people would probably question your sanity. But if you say things like that and you're Ray Kurzweil, you get invited to dinner at Bill Gates' house - twice - so he can pick your brain for insights on the future of technology. The Microsoft chairman calls him a "visionary thinker and futurist."

Kurzweil is an inventor whose work in artificial intelligence has dazzled technological sophisticates for four decades. He invented the flatbed scanner, the first true electric piano, and large-vocabulary speech-recognition software; he's launched ten companies and sold five, and has written five books; he has a BS in computer science from MIT and 13 honorary doctorates (but no real one); he's been inducted into the Inventor's Hall of Fame and charges $25,000 every time he gives a speech - 40 times last year.

Still life with innovator: Kurzweil at his home near Boston.
Everybody loves Raymond: Kurzweil is a major tech conference draw, commanding $25,000 a speech.
The power of technology will keep growing exponentially. By 2050, you'll be able to buy a device with the computational capacity of all mankind for the price of a nice refrigerator.
A ROM machine: A $14,600 contraption that provides a workout so intense that it takes just four minutes.

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And now, if anything, he's gaining momentum as a cultural force: He has not one but two movies in the works - one a documentary about his career and ideas and the other an adaptation of his recent bestseller, The Singularity Is Near, which he's writing and co-producing (he's talking about a distribution deal with the people who brought you "The Day After Tomorrow").

When Kurzweil isn't giving keynote addresses or reading obscure peer-review journals, he's raising money for his new hedge fund, FatKat (Financial Accelerating Transactions from Kurzweil Adaptive Technologies). He's already attracted a roster of blue-ribbon investors that includes venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, former Microsoft CFO Mike Brown, and former Flextronics-CEO-turned-KKR-partner Michael Marks.

Life imitates TV
Being a hedge fund manager may seem an odd pursuit for an expert in AI, but to Kurzweil it's perfectly natural. The magic that has enabled all his innovations has been the science of pattern recognition - and what is the financial market, he postulates, but a series of patterns?

Kurzweil, however, has something bigger on his mind than just making money - after half a lifetime studying trends in technological change, he believes he's found a pattern that allows him to see into the future with a high degree of accuracy.

The secret is something he calls the Law of Accelerating Returns, and the basic idea is that the power of technology is expanding at an exponential rate. Mankind is on the cusp of a radically accelerating era of change unlike anything we have ever seen, he says, and almost more extreme than we can imagine.

What does that mean? By the time a child born today graduates from college, Kurzweil believes, poverty, disease, and reliance on fossil fuels should be a thing of the past. Speaking of which, don't get him started on global-warming hype.

"These slides that Gore puts up are ludicrous," says the man who once delivered a tech conference presentation as a singing computer avatar named Ramona. (That stunt was the inspiration for the 2002 Al Pacino movie "Simone.") "They don't account for anything like the technological progress we're going to experience."

Great big cell phones in the sky
He has plenty more ideas that may seem Woody Allen - wacky in a "Sleeper" kind of way (virtual sex as good as or better than the real thing) and occasionally downright disturbing à la "2001: A Space Odyssey" (computers will achieve consciousness in about 20 years). But a number of his predictions have had a funny way of coming true.

Back in the 1980s he predicted that a computer would beat the world chess champion in 1998 (it happened in 1997) and that some kind of worldwide computer network would arise and facilitate communication and entertainment (still happening). His current vision goes way, way past the web, of course. But at least give the guy a hearing. "We are the species that goes beyond our potential," he says. "Merging with our technology is the next stage in our evolution."

In mid-April, Kurzweil traveled to the Island hotel in Newport Beach, Calif., as one of the featured speakers at a two-day World Innovation Forum. The roster of luminaries included Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen and Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet, now at Google (Charts, Fortune 500). But Kurzweil was the only one followed around by a team of documentary-film makers.

He took the stage wearing a brown houndstooth sports coat and navy checked tie and began toggling through his PowerPoint slides. He's about 5-foot-7, and in regular conversation he tends to speak in a monotone. But he comes alive onstage, mixing in reliable one-liners with his bigger point: Don't underestimate the power of technological change. "Information technologies are doubling in power every year right now," he tells the crowd of 400 or so attendees. "Doubling every year is multiplying by 1,000 in ten years. It's remarkable how scientists miss this basic trend."

Kurzweil's crusade, if you will, is to get across that most of us (even scientists) fail to see the world changing exponentially because we are "stuck in the intuitive linear view." To hammer home his point, Kurzweil packs his presentations with charts that show, for instance, supercomputer power doubling consistently over time.

He explains that Moore's Law - the number of transistors on a chip will double every two years - is but one excellent example of the Law of Accelerating Returns. One of Kurzweil's favorite illustrations of exponential growth is the Human Genome Project. "It was scheduled to be a 15-year project," he says. "After seven years only 1% of it was done, and the critics said it would be impossible. But if you double from 1% every year over seven years, you get 100%. It was right on schedule."

He believes humanity is near that 1% moment in technological growth. By 2027, he predicts, computers will surpass humans in intelligence; by 2045 or so, we will reach the Singularity, a moment when technology is advancing so rapidly that "strictly biological" humans will be unable to comprehend it.

A corporate governance gadfly irks CEOs
Everything will be subject to his Law of Accelerating Returns, Kurzweil says, because "everything is ultimately becoming information technology." As we are able to reverse-engineer and decode our own DNA, for instance, medical technology can be converted to bits and bytes and zoom along at the same fantastic rate. That will enable overlapping revolutions in genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics. Which is how you end up with nanobots living in your brain.

Kurzweil, 59, declared his career as an inventor at age 5. He grew up in Queens, New York, one of two children (he has a younger sister named Enid) of Fredric and Hannah Kurzweil, Viennese Jews who fled the Nazis in 1938. His parents encouraged their son's ambition. "Ideas were the religion of our household," he says. "They saw science and technology as the way of the future and a way to make money and not struggle the way they did." Fredric, a composer and conductor, died of heart disease at 58, an event that would have a lasting impact on his son.

Kurzweil discovered computers at age 12, and quickly demonstrated an amazing facility with technology. At 14 he wangled a job as the computer programmer at the research department of Head Start, the federal government's early-childhood-development program. While there he wrote software that was later distributed by IBM (Charts, Fortune 500) with its mainframes.

Going beyond 'Moneyball'
At 17 he won an international science contest by building a computer that analyzed the works of Chopin and Beethoven to compose music; that trick landed him on the TV show "I've Got a Secret," hosted by Steve Allen. At MIT he started a company that used a computer to crunch numbers and match high school students with the best college choice; he sold it for $100,000 plus royalties.

After graduating from MIT, he founded Kurzweil Computer Products in 1974, and his initial breakthrough came later that year when he created the first optical-character-recognition program capable of reading any font. After he happened to sit next to a blind man on a plane, he decided to apply the technology to building a reading machine for the sight-impaired. To make it work he invented the flatbed scanner and the text-to-speech synthesizer, and introduced a reader in 1976.

When his first reader customer - Stevie Wonder - later complained about the limitations of electronic keyboards, Kurzweil used pattern-recognition science to invent the first keyboard that could realistically reproduce the sound of pianos and other orchestra instruments. Thus was born Kurzweil Music Systems. (When his name is recognized today, it's still often as "that keyboard guy.")

Kurzweil never left the Boston area after college. He and his wife, Sonya, live in a suburb about 20 minutes west of the city in a house they bought 25 years ago. Both of his children are grown and out of the house - Ethan, 28, is at Harvard Business School and Amy, 20, is at Stanford - so it's just the two of them and 300 or so cat figurines. (Kurzweil says he likes the way cats always seem to be "calmly thinking through their options.")

Kurzweil won't say how much he's worth, but he's never had the kind of payday that made so many of his peers centimillionaires or better. He sold Kurzweil Computer Products to Xerox (Charts, Fortune 500) in 1980 for $6.25 million. Kurzweil Music Systems was in bankruptcy when Korean piano maker Young Chang bought it in 1990 for $12 million.

From NBA to MBA: Shaq suits up for business
Kurzweil Applied Intelligence introduced a series of speech-recognition products and went public in 1993, but was tarnished by an accounting-fraud scandal in 1995. Kurzweil, who was co-CEO, was not implicated. "I was focusing on the technology," he says. "There was this small conspiracy, which was deeply shocking." KAI was sold in 1997 for $53 million.

If Kurzweil hasn't made the big score, he's done well enough to keep funding his new ventures. Former Microsoft (Charts, Fortune 500) CFO Brown has invested in a few of Kurzweil's businesses and says he's impressed. "There's a certain smart kind of person who can get all the way from the big picture down to the little kernel and back," he says. "He's extremely adaptive that way. His businesses in my experience have always been well run and successful. He's grown them until they get to be a certain size and typically sold them to somebody who has a bigger distribution network."

These days Kurzweil organizes his business interests - including FatKat and Ray & Terry's Longevity Products, which sells supplements - under the umbrella of Kurzweil Technologies. The company takes up all of one floor and half of another in a nondescript office-park building in Wellesley Hills, Mass. In the reception area on the second floor is an antique Ediphone, one of Thomas Edison's dictation machines.

On a table filled with plaques noting Kurzweil's achievements is a photo of him receiving the National Medal of Technology from President Clinton. There's a pipe-smoking mannequin with a ribbon that reads I AM AN INVENTOR on its chest. In the basement is a supercomputer processing millions of bits of market-related data.

Kurzweil is hoping that FatKat will prove to be as spectacular an achievement as his early inventions, only a lot more lucrative. When describing his approach, he refers to the success of fellow MIT board member and hedge fund manager James Simons of Renaissance Technologies, whose $6 billion fund Medallion has averaged 36% returns annually after fees since 1988 and who, according to the hedge fund trade magazine Alpha, was the highest-paid hedgie last year, with a take-home of $1.7 billion.

Kurzweil says he is applying Simons-like quantitative analysis to take advantage of market inefficiencies. And he's confident that, just as he trained computers to recognize patterns in human speech or the sound of a violin, he can do the same with currency fluctuations and stock-ownership trends. The ultimate goal is to create the first fully artificially intelligent quant fund - a black box that can learn to monitor itself and adjust. Although he started the company back in 1999, the fund has only been trading for about a year.

How's he doing? Kurzweil won't say, citing SEC rules, nor will his investors. "I view Ray as one of the best pattern-recognition people in the world," says Khosla, when asked why he put money into FatKat. "I am a happy investor in Ray's company. A very happy investor."

As respected as Kurzweil is, to some of his peers his ideas have a persistent whiff of the too-good-to-be-true. One intellectual equal who takes exception to Kurzweil's views is Mitch Kapor, the co-founder and former CEO of Lotus Development. In 2002, Kapor made a much publicized $20,000 bet with Kurzweil that a computer would not be able to demonstrate consciousness at a human level by 2029.

But his quibbles with Kurzweil run much deeper than that debate. He rejects Kurzweil's theories about the implications of accelerating technology as pseudo-evangelistic bunk. "It's intelligent design for the IQ 140 people," he says. "This proposition that we're heading to this point at which everything is going to be just unimaginably different - it's fundamentally, in my view, driven by a religious impulse. And all of the frantic arm-waving can't obscure that fact for me, no matter what numbers he marshals in favor of it. He's very good at having a lot of curves that point up to the right."

Even technologists who take Kurzweil seriously don't necessarily echo his optimism. It was after a conversation with him that Bill Joy wrote an apocalyptic cover story for Wired magazine in 2000 about nanotechnology run amok.

Kurzweil, who's always careful to acknowledge the possibility that everything could go haywire, says his outlook is about math, not religion. And he's not planning to go anywhere until he bears witness to humankind's ultimate destiny, even if it takes him forever.

Note that by "forever" we mean "forever": The man literally intends not to die. With an acute memory of his father's early death, he's been getting weekly blood tests and intravenous treatments. He also takes pills - lots of pills, more than 200 vitamins, antioxidants, and other supplements every day. It's all part of his effort to "reprogram" his body chemistry and stop growing old. "I've slowed down aging to a crawl," he claims. "By most measures my biological age is about 40, and I have some hormone and nutrient levels of a person in his 30s."

Tuesday night in Newport Beach, after his talk at the Innovation Forum, Kurzweil is having dinner at an upscale seafood restaurant with one of his true believers, Peter Diamandis. The 45-year-old Diamandis is best known as the creator of the X Prize, a $10 million bounty for the first privately built, manned rocket launched into space. (Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's team won in 2004.)

He's developing a new X Prize for a 100-mile-a-gallon car, and considering others in cancer research and, with Kurzweil's help, AI. Diamandis says he buys completely into Kurzweil's Law of Accelerating Returns and everything that it implies. "The Singularity, for anyone who stops and thinks about it, is completely obvious," he says.

Diamandis, who has an MD, has also been profoundly affected by Kurzweil's 2004 book Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever and has adopted Kurzweil's dietary guidelines. Diamandis pulls out a plastic bag of supplement pills and explains he's up to about 30 a day. Kurzweil reaches into his jacket for some of his own supplements. "His pills are bigger than my pills!" says Diamandis.

Then, more seriously, he asks Kurzweil if he ever gets nosebleeds from the supplement regimen. Kurzweil doesn't. "I think it might be the memory pills," says Diamandis. The conversation morphs into a debate on why earthlings have been unable to detect extraterrestrial civilizations, because with the billions of star systems out there, surely the Law of Accelerating Returns must have taken root somewhere...

It's easy to ridicule a scene like this, and perhaps people will when the movie comes out. (The documentary crew was there.) It's currently unfashionable to be so positive in one's open-mindedness. But remember, Kurzweil has been right before. And frankly, he's delighted we haven't heard from anyone else in the universe yet - it just means we're further up the technology curve than the aliens. "I think it's exciting that we're in the lead," he says, fiddling with his half-eaten ahi tuna. "There's a lot ahead of us."

Reporter associates Doris Burke and Telis Demos contributed to this article.

From the May 14, 2007 issue
27474  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: May 02, 2007, 07:01:23 PM

As always, MY is a must read.
27475  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: May 02, 2007, 06:39:25 PM
Victor Davis HansonMay 2, 2007 8:48 AM The Crazy Middle East
All Eyes on Baghdad

All the pros and cons on the war have been aired. We’ve read all the tell-all books by Woodward, Ricks, Gordon, Trainor and the rest that now contradict the arguments and theses of what they wrote about the 1991 war—that then we should have done what we are doing now, which in turn should now be what we had done then.

All the once insider geniuses like Clark, Scheuer, O’Neil and Tenet have sold their tell-all accounts in which they were brilliant and all else obtuse. Feith has been called a dumb _____ by almost everyone in DC. Libby is facing jail for something or other, but most certainly not what the Special Prosecutor was supposed to be looking for; Wolfowitz faces an ouster: so much for bringing up to your board that you might have a conflict of interest down the road.

We’ve suffered through the distortions of Michael Moore and know that Cindy Sheehan once thanked President Bush for meeting with her. We’ve heard that the US military is akin to Saddam, Nazis, Pol Pot, or Stalin from the likes of Sens. Durbin and Kennedy, that America is a pariah from Sen. Kerry, that the war is lost from Sen. Reid and Howard Dean, and about everything imaginable from poor Sen. Biden.

We know that the Clintons once tried to restore their fides on national security by railing about Saddam’s WMD program, both before and after September 11. There has been a revolt of the generals and CIA operatives, that in addition to demonstrating opposition to the war, showed just how angry top brass are at our restructuring the military and /or intelligence agencies.

The Celebs have weighed in, and now we know that the Dixie Chicks, Sean Penn, Barbra Streisand, Rosie, the Donald, and Alec Baldwin are as ignorant as they are vehement and vicious in their pronouncements.

We’ve seen all the supposed landmark stories come and go: Dick Cheney’s shotgun, the supposed flushed Koran, the forged memos about Bush’s National Guard service, the doctored photos from Beirut, the slips from CNN brass about bias, the implosion of Dan Rather, the blood lust for Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Gonzalez, et. al. None of them did anything illegal; all of them were hounded by the press to resign—all of whom Republicans thought if these just go, the Left will stop, when in fact its appetite was only fed.

All that has come and gone, and we are left in the end with the verdict of the battlefield. The war will be won or lost, like it or not, fairly or unjustly, in the next six months in Baghdad. Either Gen. Petraeus quells the violence to a level that even the media cannot exaggerate, or the enterprise fails, and we withdraw. For all the acrimony and hysteria at home, that in the end is what we face—the verdict of all wars that ultimately are decided by the soldiers, and then either supported or opposed by the majority at home with no views or ideology other than its desire to conform to the narrative from the front: support our winners, oppose our losers. In the end, that is what this entire hysterical four years are about.

Win Iraq in the sense of a government stabilizing analogous to Kurdistan or Turkey, and even at this late hour, pundits and politicians will scramble around to dig up their 2002-3 quotes supporting the war, while Hollywood goes quiet and turns to more sermons on Darfur.

Sad, but true.

And the Palestinians wonder?

Polls show about 20% of Americans favor the Palestinians in their war against Israel, while about half the US population now expresses an unease with Muslims in general. Meanwhile a large minority of Muslims, according to polls, condones terrorist attacks on civilians, while a vast majority is vehemently anti-American. Their prejudice apparently is chalked up to our omnipresence—like saving Kuwait, feeding Somalia, stopping Muslims dying en masse in the Balkans, ridding Afghanistan of the Soviets, paying astronomical prices for their oil, and giving nearly $100 billion over the years to the Egyptians, Jordanians, and Palestinians.

Our prejudice surely could not be due to 19 Muslims slaughtering— to the delight of millions—3,000 Americans, nor to the news almost every hour of Christian-Muslim violence, Hindu-Muslim violence, Buddhist-Muslim violence, or secular-Muslim violence. And now the much circulated quote from Sheik Ahmad Bahr, acting Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council:

“You will be victorious” on the face of this planet. You are the masters of the world on the face of this planet. Yes, [the Koran says that] “you will be victorious,” but only “if you are believers.” Allah willing, “you will be victorious,” while America and Israel will be annihilated. I guarantee you that the power of belief and faith is greater than the power of America and Israel. They are cowards, who are eager for life, while we are eager for death for the sake of Allah. That is why America’s nose was rubbed in the mud in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Somalia, and everywhere… Oh Allah, vanquish the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them all, down to the very last one. Oh Allah, show them a day of darkness. Oh Allah, who sent down His Book, the mover of the clouds, who defeated the enemies of the Prophet defeat the Jews and the Americans, and bring us victory over them.”

And wait till these people get the bomb. So much for the war against Islamism being “over.”

What is it about the Palestinians?

Occupied Land? Are we speaking of Tibet? And why not worry about territorial disputes between Argentina and its neighbors, or Russia and Japan over the Kuriles, or a divided and Turkish-occupied Cyprus, or for that matter, Germany that lost historic homelands to postwar Poland? Or let us stop the earth’s rotation for Kashmir, which at least involves two large nuclear adversaries. Do the millions of Kurds in Turkey qualify as homeless or refugees or voiceless?


Are we talking of the 600,000 plus Jews that were expelled from the major Arab capitals following the 1967 war?

Or are we drawn to the millions in the Congo and Nigeria that have lost their homes?

If we are speaking of Palestinians, do we refer to the quarter-million plus expelled from Kuwait following the 1991 Gulf War?


Surely the world mourns the million lost in Rwanda? Or the tens of thousands now killed in Darfur? Or the million plus starved the last decade in North Korea?

So why just the Palestinians?

The truth is that the international media has created the entire Palestinian crisis, at least in terms of elevating it beyond all others of far worse magnitude.


Fear of international terrorists, going way back to the plane hijackings and Olympian killings of the 1970s.

Fear of oil price hikes, as if the Saudis might once again turn off the spigots in solidarity with Palestinians.

Demography? There are tens of millions of pro-Palestinian angry Muslims with a propensity toward supporting violent acts, and very few Jews who are busy writing scientific articles and discovering new products. So whom to fear?

And then there is the old anti-Semitism, old in the sense of both generated in Europe and as old as the Koran itself in the Middle East.

What to Do?

We should give not a cent to any government in Palestine. Americans might wish the people there well, but explain due to their vehement anti-American prejudices, we cannot accept any into this country, revoke the visas of those who are here, and politely ask them to settle their own differences with Israel.

Perhaps with Gulf oil money, they can one day forget Israel, create a just society, foster a vibrant, non-corrupt economy, and then with confidence negotiate with Israel about borders. But until then, there is no reason to have relations with this government or its populace.

Its mother’s milk is envy and jealousy that a displaced decimated people was placed down beside them in rock and scrub, and sixty years later built a humane, prosperous society that is a daily reminder to them that what they do—statism, gender apartheid, tribalism, feuding, religious intolerance, corruption, autocracy, polygamy, honor killings, etc.—lead to the very opposite sort of society in which nothing is invented, no discovery is found, no security or prosperity is achieved, and hand-outs are demanded but never appreciated.

But why discuss self-inflicted misery when the Jews are a few hundred yards away to blame, and guilt-ridden wealthy Westerners are easy marks for shake-downs, themselves anti-Semitic and fearful of hooded men with shaking fist and blood-curdling chants?

Don’t forget Syria.

Nancy Pelosi et al. gave sermons on the need to include Syria in regional discussions and to open a dialogue with this “key player.” Here’s what that olive branch won in reply, a boast from dictator Assad that Syria is essential to the killing of Americans in Iraq:

“To the east there is the resistance in Iraq, to the west there is the resistance in Lebanon and to the south there is the resistance of the Palestinian people…We, in Syria, are at the heart of all these events. Syria, the Arab region and the Middle East are going through a dangerous period. Destructive colonial projects are seeking to divide and reshape our region…Every Syrian citizen supports the Iraqi people who are resisting the American occupation.”

“Destructive colonial projects” means offering someone the right to vote and have some freedom of expression, in other words to say no to thugs like Assad, Ahmadinejad, or Khadafy.

Be careful what you wish for.

For years Arab intellectuals demanded from the West some concern for human rights, and a cessation of business as usual with their dictatorial strongmen. But post 2003 we are learning that such posturing was, well, posturing, and most of these hothouse plants are more angry at the democratization efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq than they are at their own autocrats. An unspoken truth in the post 9/11 climate is that Arab reformers have zero credibility. Most live in Europe and the United States (including members of the families of the Pakistani, Syrian, Lebanese, and Saudi autocrats and extremists). Most are far more critical of western governments that gave them refuge and a new life than they are of the illiberal regimes that drove them out.

Oil, father of us all

In the end, all reasoning and caclucation comes down to oil, not energy independce just a lessening of our need to import by about 5 million barrels or so on the world market. Let Brazil export duty-free ethanol; drill in Anwar and off our coasts; build 20 or so nuclear reactors to replace natural gas and power batteries at night of small commuter cars; up the fleet average gas mileage; develop oil tar and oil shale; use alternative energies—and do all that inclusively rather than in an either/or strategy, and we can collapse the world price, and with it the strategic importance of this dangerous, dysfunctional, and ultimately irrelevant part of the world.

Without oil and nukes, the Arab and Iranian Middle East has no hold on the world, no more than does Paraguay or the Ivory Coast or Bulgaria or Laos. We wish them well, but find Ahmadinejad, Nasrallah, the House of Saud, Hamas, Khadafy, and all the rest, well, all too retro-7th-century for our tastes.

27476  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: May 02, 2007, 05:43:50 PM
I wonder what lies underneath this cryptic paragraph?

IRAN: Former Iranian nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian is being detained on charges of espionage, Fars News Agency reported. Earlier reports did not indicate what charges had been brought against him. Mousavian was reportedly taken from his home April 30.
27477  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: I am new and have 3 questions. on: May 02, 2007, 05:21:23 PM
I'd love to see that essay on training with wood without it cracking.

Concerning hubud, it is part of the training in DBMA.  As a matter of fact I was training one of my private students in it rather heavily just this morning.

Concerning some of the negative commentary about it and similar training methods, see the thread "Tippy Tappy Drills-- thread or menace?" on this forum.

Of couse Guro Inosanto would be the best course of action for learning hubud!  (And of course, I second Gruhn's kind words about our "Kali Tudo"(c) DVD  grin )

Training hubud is great fun and in my opinion when connected with the proper understandings can be of tremendous fighting value.    If I may offer a suggestion-- learn it on your complementary side first (your left side if you are a righty) and ingrain it well, then learn it on your dominant side, then learn to fluidly flow between the two.
27478  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / LNOP on: May 02, 2007, 05:10:05 PM
Sent to me by a friend from my Gilder days-- Marc

For the record, I have what is for me a fairly solid size position.


For you LNOP shareholders, I enclose the following interview with Eli Fruchter, CEO, in an Israeli newspaper, Globes.  Right now, the company's annual revenue is $8 million.  By 2008-2009, the company should capture at least 50% market share of the $250 million market.  This is why I have recommended buying shares in this company.  We are looking at 1200% revenue growth from 2006 to 2009.
Shiri Habib 2 May 07 18:56

Two years ago, Eli Fruchter, President and CEO of EZchip Technologies Ltd. said that it was not inconceivable that the company would record revenue of $75 million in 2008. He was still optimistic when he talked to "Globes" last week although this time round he refuses to give figures. "The market we're targeting will reach $250 million in 2008-2009. I expect that we will have a sizeable chunk of it," he predicts.
Yokneam-based EZchip, which is controlled by LanOptics Ltd. (Nasdaq: LNOP; TASE:LNOP), is a fabless company that develops high-speed network processors. EZchip's chip sits in the router, and Fruchter describes it as the "Pentium of routers."

Most of EZchip's customers presently use its first generation NP-1c processor. The company began shipping the newer NP-2 to customers at the end of 2006. At the same time, it is also developing the next generations of processor, the NP-3 and NP-4.

EZchip's potential customers are telecommunications equipment manufacturers and the three largest companies in this sector are Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), which controls 50% of the market, Juniper Networks (Nasdaq: JNPR), and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). EZchip has more than 100 design wins, and two of the three companies just mentioned are its customers. Fruchter refuses to say who they are but describes them as the "crème-de-la-crème in the field."

One individual who has been forthcoming about this is tech stocks guru George Gilder, who has been following EZchip for several years. In his latest report, Gilder writes that EZchip's revenue is likely to increase thanks to the sales of NP-2 processors, followed by sales of the next generation of processors, NP-3, to Cisco and Juniper from the beginning of next year. He believes that revenue of $100 million or more for EZchip in 2009 is definitely possible. For the sake of comparison, the company ended 2006 with sales of $8.5 million.

"We began shipping NP-2 processors in the third quarter of 2006," says Fruchter. "Every router has many cards and every card has our chips. The previous generation of processors had one chip in each chassis, while the new generation can take up to 64 chips. The difference in price is such that the NP-2 costs about half of the NP-1, so even if you don't fill the chassis with our chips, the potential revenue from NP-2 is ten times that of NP-1."

Since the time from the announcement of a contract win to the launch of a completed product on the market can sometimes be two to three years, EZchip is now recognizing revenue from previous years. This fact should on the face of it give the company good visibility and the ability to publish forecasts, but it doesn't do this. "We have visibility for one quarter and that's not enough," says Fruchter. "The customers' products need to prove themselves on the market. In order to increase our visibility, we need more large customers that have reached the production stage." In any event, he adds the company should not be judged on a quarterly basis. "If anyone is expecting stable growth, it won't necessarily happen. There could be surges from one quarter to the next. At the annual level, 2007 should be a lot stronger than 2006."

Globes: And when will the profit come? You lost $12.3 million in 2006.

Fruchter: "We are spending just over $1 million a month, $12-13 million a year, and with an expenditure level like this and a profit margin of around 60%, a quarter in which we recorded $5.5 million in revenue would be a profitable one. I can't say exactly when this will happen, but it will."

As a start-up, EZchip was not required to publish its results, but it is controlled by LanOptics, which is a public company. LanOptics has a market cap of $211 million, reflecting a value for EZchip of $270 million, in which it has a 78% stake. EZchip is LanOptics' sole activity, and LanOptics recently decided to raise its stake in EZchip to outright ownership. Last December it increased its holding from 60% to 78% after it gave EZchip's minority shareholders its own shares in exchange for their holdings.

"The current structure does not give us any advantage," says Fruchter, who also serves as LanOptics chairman. "It started when EZchip needed a lot of money, and LanOptics didn't have enough. We raised a total of $60 million through venture capital funds, the last part of which was raised in 2005. The goal is to simplify the structure and return to full ownership by LanOptics. The problem here is not efficiency but simplicity - people like simple things."

Fruchter notes that today two funds remain investors in EZchip - Goldman Sachs and JK&B Capital. "They hold preference shares in EZchip, and if they convert them they will receive ordinary LanOptics shares," explains Fruchter. "I assume that once LanOptics's stock is at a certain price level, it'll be worthwhile for them to convert. I believe it is worthwhile for them now. There's a good chance that it will happen as early as next year." Once it does, Fruchter believes that LanOptics will change its name to EZchip and continue trading under its new name.

EZchip is already acting more and more like a public company. The company plans to hold a conference call following the publication of its financials for the first quarter, and a road show, and it also intends to work with an investor-relations company. "The main reason for this is that a lot of investors are interested in us, largely thanks to the "Gilder Reports," says Fruchter. The company currently does not have any coverage by investment houses.

Does EZchip's market cap give a fair reflection of the state of the company and the market?

"I'm not an analyst and I don't engage in calculations of profit multiples. It has transpired from conversations with investors that the fairly high value is derived from their view of EZchip as a growth company. This is typical of many companies at the early growth stages."

EZchip recently announced a collaboration with Marvell Technology Group (Nasdaq: MRVL), an announcement that sent LanOptics' stock up sharply, even though the collaboration was known before the official announcement was made. The two companies are collaborating on R&D, marketing, and sales of network processors to the Ethernet market. "The goal is to increase exposure to Tier 1 customers, a sector in which Marvell has a very strong grip," says Fruchter. "Marvell is active primarily in the enterprise solutions sector, and our chip is designed for service providers. The combination enables us to approach customers of both companies."

Do you mean customers that are apprehensive about working with a small company like EZchip?

"That's one good example."

The collaboration with Marvell was a form of response to Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), which entered EZchip's market after it acquired the privately-held Sandburst Corporation at the beginning of 2006. "Broadcom is our main competitor," says Fruchter. "Broadcom and Marvell are acting in a similar fashion to each other. They both came from the enterprise field and are trying to reach service providers, Broadcom by way of an acquisition, and Marvell through a collaboration."

Did Broadcom approach you or make an acquisition offer to you too before it acquired Sandburst?

"I'd rather not comment on that."

But do you feel that EZchip could still be an acquisition target?

"Yes, of course it could. Looking ahead, the most reasonable scenario is that LanOptics will buy the remaining holdings and reach 100% ownership, and that EZchip will continue to grow as a public company. Another option is that EZchip will be acquired, before or following a full merger with LanOptics. A third option, albeit highly unlikely, is that EZchip itself will make an offering, but there is no need for this at present."

Aside from Broadcom, EZchip faces another kind of competition, since there are companies that prefer to develop their chips in-house. One competitor now quitting the market is Intel Corporation (Nasdaq: INTC). "Intel announced that it would no longer be making any developments in the field," says Fruchter. "They're in the process of exiting the market. They developed low-speed processors, while we have been developing high-speed processors. I imaging that had they stayed in the market, they would have developed high-speed ones too." Fruchter believes that Intel decided that a market worth hundreds of millions of dollars in which other companies were also active, was not suited to a company of its size.

Fruchter notes the many changes that are now taking place in the market. "The standards are changing. The whole idea of processors is to replace chips, which are not flexible. This allows for changes to be made and the product's life to be extended when the market changes," he says. "The move to processors is a move to another technology and it takes time."

According to Fruchter, the market was worth less than $20 million in 2006, but it has grown. "Service providers have seen some dry periods," he says. "They didn't invest in new infrastructures and routers, things are now changing. There has also been a move to Internet services, which necessitates the replacement of old infrastructures, something that helps to push the processors."

Are there any other directions that EZchip could develop in?

"We began with large and expensive chips, and working our way down from that is easy. We're looking at further options, such as for example, entering the developing wireless market."

Fruchter says EZchip could also acquire companies for the purpose of growth, although the company wishes first to complete the move with LanOptics.

How will EZchip look in a few years from now?

"I don't want to commit myself as to figures, but the company will sell at levels that are a lot higher than those today. We'll take our technology to additional markets as well."
27479  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: May 02, 2007, 10:30:13 AM

Armored Vehicles for Iraq Delayed
Associated Press  |  April 30, 2007
CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq - The armored carrier has a grim black slash across its side, burn marks on the door and a web of cracks along the window.

Like most of the Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles in Anbar province, this one has been hit as many as three times by enemy fire and bomb blasts. Yet, to date, no American troops have died while riding in one.

But efforts to buy thousands more carriers - each costing about $1 million - could be delayed if the White House and Congress do not resolve their deadlock over a $124.2 billion war spending bill.

Take Action: Tell your public officials how you feel about this issue.

About $3 billion for the vehicles is tied up in the legislation. The spending plan has stalled because of a dispute over provisions that would set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

At a hearing last month, lawmakers urged the Army to get more of the carriers to the battlefront as quickly as possible. The vehicles, with their unique V-shaped hull that deflects blasts outward and away from passengers, are considered lifesavers against the No. 1 killer in Iraq - roadside bombs.

Military leaders say the carriers have reduced roadside bomb casualties in Iraq by as much as two-thirds. But they are not effective against the enemy's latest weapon - explosively formed penetrators, which hurl a fist-sized lump of molten copper capable of piercing armored vehicles.

Right now, there are at least 1,100 of the armored carriers on the battlefront in Iraq, including the 100 or so that rumble through Anbar province carrying troops and clearing roads of explosives.

The Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Special Operations forces want thousands more. The goal is more than 7,700, at a cost of about $8.4 billion.

The Army wants 2,500, at a cost of about $2.7 billion. The Marines are planning to buy 3,700 and would send about 3,000 to Iraq. There will be 525 in the country by the end of the year, said Brig. Gen. Mark Gurganus, ground combat commander for U.S. forces in western Iraq.

As the Pentagon scrapes to find the money to run the war in the midst of the budget impasse, the Pentagon says there is not enough cash to buy as many as commanders say they need.

"We can build what we can get the funds to build. It's strictly an issue of money," Gen. Peter Schoomaker, former Army chief of staff, told a Senate committee last month.

At the time, he said the Army had an unfunded requirement of about $2 billion. Lawmakers added some additional money to the bill, so that number would now be about $1.5 billion.

He said the Army believes "that not only do we need the MRAP immediately to give us better protection, but that we need to stay on a path to get an even better vehicle than the MRAP for the long haul, because the enemy is going to continue to adapt."

Senators pressed for more. "We're buying far too few of them," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. "If we have that capability, why would we not do everything to mobilize, to move as many of them into the field as is possible?

In January, the military approved contracts to buy 4,100 of the armored carriers, using nine different companies to fill the order. Although the Pentagon is shifting money around to cover war costs until the spending bill is signed, the Army said dollars already approved and in the pipeline for the vehicles will not be affected.

Additional orders cannot be placed until the disagreement over the war spending legislation is settled. That bill would give the Army ($1.2 billion), the Marines ($1.25 billion), the Navy ($154 million), the Air Force ($139 million) and special operations forces ($259 million) money to buy their own versions of the carriers, according to Bill Johnson-Miles, spokesman for the Marine Corps Systems Command.

The Defense Department has requested about $4.4 billion in the 2008 budget to buy more of the vehicles.

Out on the dusty roads in Anbar province, Marines say the carriers have proved their worth.

This month, Marine Staff Sgt. Tim Kessler said, Marines were riding in one and took a hit from a small roadside bomb. The blast blew a tire, and it took them more than 90 minutes to limp back to base, but no one was hurt. Days earlier, a carrier with six Marines was hit by two blasts; two Marines had broken bones, but they all survived.

"It's an extremely survivable vehicle. I guarantee it saves lives," said Kessler. Pointing to the scars on the side of the MRAP, he added that had they been riding in a Humvee or something else, "they would all be dead."

27480  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: May 02, 2007, 08:14:08 AM
The NYTimes, which has betrayed America more than once in this war (e.g. revealing that we were tracking the enemy's financial transactions and more) is certainly of dubious credibility in all this, but a President who chose and stands by an Attorney General who doesn't belive that habeas corpus is a Constitutional right has credibility problems of his own too.


Spying on Americans
Published: May 2, 2007

For more than five years, President Bush authorized government spying on phone calls and e-mail to and from the United States without warrants. He rejected offers from Congress to update the electronic eavesdropping law, and stonewalled every attempt to investigate his spying program.

Suddenly, Mr. Bush is in a hurry. He has submitted a bill that would enact enormous, and enormously dangerous, changes to the 1978 law on eavesdropping. It would undermine the fundamental constitutional principle — over which there can be no negotiation or compromise — that the government must seek an individual warrant before spying on an American or someone living here legally.

To heighten the false urgency, the Bush administration will present this issue, as it has before, as a choice between catching terrorists before they act or blinding the intelligence agencies. But the administration has never offered evidence that the 1978 law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, hampered intelligence gathering after the 9/11 attacks. Mr. Bush simply said the law did not apply to him.

The director of national intelligence, Michael McConnell, said yesterday that the evidence of what is wrong with FISA was too secret to share with all Americans. That’s an all-too-familiar dodge. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, who is familiar with the president’s spying program, has said that it could have been conducted legally. She even offered some sensible changes for FISA, but the administration and the Republican majority in the last Congress buried her bill.

Mr. Bush’s motivations for submitting this bill now seem obvious. The courts have rejected his claim that 9/11 gave him virtually unchecked powers, and he faces a Democratic majority in Congress that is willing to exercise its oversight responsibilities. That, presumably, is why his bill grants immunity to telecommunications companies that cooperated in five years of illegal eavesdropping. It also strips the power to hear claims against the spying program from all courts except the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which meets in secret.

According to the administration, the bill contains “long overdue” FISA modifications to account for changes in technology. The only example it offered was that an e-mail sent from one foreign country to another that happened to go through a computer in the United States might otherwise be missed. But Senator Feinstein had already included this fix in the bill Mr. Bush rejected.

Moreover, FISA has been updated dozens of times in the last 29 years. In 2000, Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, who ran the National Security Agency then, said it “does not require amendment to accommodate new communications technologies.” And since 9/11, FISA has had six major amendments.

The measure would not update FISA; it would gut it. It would allow the government to collect vast amounts of data at will from American citizens’ e-mail and phone calls. The Center for National Security Studies said it might even be read to permit video surveillance without a warrant.

This is a dishonest measure, dishonestly presented, and Congress should reject it. Before making any new laws, Congress has to get to the truth about Mr. Bush’s spying program. (When asked at a Senate hearing yesterday if Mr. Bush still claims to have the power to ignore FISA when he thinks it is necessary, Mr. McConnell refused to answer.)

With clear answers — rather than fearmongering and stonewalling — there can finally be a real debate about amending FISA. It’s not clear whether that can happen under this president. Mr. Bush long ago lost all credibility in the area where this law lies: at the fulcrum of the balance between national security and civil liberties.
27481  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: May 02, 2007, 07:50:24 AM
The WSJ on recent events in Turkey:

Turkish Turmoil
May 2, 2007; Page A20
The Muslim world's liveliest democracy has long been a work in progress, but the stakes just got a lot higher for Turkey and the greater Mideast. Turkey's future as a pluralistic, free society is on the line.

Amid a presidential campaign marked by street protests and divisive rhetoric, the powerful military inserted itself into politics late Friday by threatening a coup. The generals and their secularist allies in the civil service and professions are trying to derail the ruling party's selection for president. Yesterday the country's highest court sided with the secularists.

The crisis erupted last week when the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, by virtue of its majority in Parliament, nominated one of its own for the presidency. The job is currently held by a secularist, and the AKP choice would give a party with roots in the Islamist movement control over all branches of government for the first time. Despite the belief of some secularists that the AKP's "secret agenda" is to implant political Islam in Turkey, its five years in power have done more to entrench democracy and free markets than have most previous governments.

The AKP's candidate, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, is a pro-Western moderate who spearheaded Turkey's political and economic reforms and helped secure an invitation to start membership talks with the European Union. But Mr. Gül got his political start in the Islamist movement and -- the greatest sin in secular eyes -- his wife wears a headscarf.

The battle came to a head Friday, when Mr. Gül failed by a slim margin to get the two-thirds needed to win. Then the military weighed in just before midnight with a statement posted on its home page. "It should not be forgotten that the Turkish armed forces takes sides in these debates and is the absolute defender of secularism," the missive read. "When necessary they will display their attitudes and actions very clearly." The message was lost on no Turk.

Yesterday the court annulled Friday's vote, ruling in favor of the opposition party that had boycotted the vote. The judges, all staunchly secular, ruled that a two-thirds quorum must be present in the legislature for a vote -- even though the constitution says nothing firmly about a quorum and past presidents were elected with less than two-thirds.

Turkey has done well under the political stability and sound economics brought by the AKP, which took office in late 2002, and party leader and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan may feel confident enough to keep pressing back. As a soft Islamist who has taken a few false steps -- pushing a law banning adultery and cozying up to Hamas -- he has stronger democratic credentials and more legitimacy than the secularists, who fall back on the generals.

The court decision, while unfortunate, could show a way out of the problem. The public demonstrations indicate that Mr. Erdogan continues to make a large chunk of the Turkish public uneasy. Though Mr. Gül is a capable politician, a different candidate may calm the public storms without compromising the AKP's right to choose that figure. Down the road, the AKP's oft-mooted ideas about a directly elected president could be part of a broader constitutional overhaul. Mr. Erdogan said yesterday that early parliamentary elections are likely.

The immediate need for anyone concerned about Turkey's future must be to get politics played by the rules and by the civilians. The military made important contributions to Westernizing the country, but its current behavior is a danger to Turkish progress. The best thing that can be said about the high court's decision is that early elections are better than tanks in the street. But the damage done to Turkey's institutions might have been avoided by sticking to the rules set down in the constitution.
27482  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: May 02, 2007, 07:40:39 AM
Glad to have you hear LawDog!
27483  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: May 02, 2007, 07:39:27 AM
While we are waiting, from the WT forum:
Ray "Boom Boom" Manicini-vs-Duku Kim

This was the fight that ended the 15 round championship fight due to Kim's death from brain damage. This is just the end of the fight but it was a brutal back and forth affair. This fight was as even as could be until the last few rounds. It was like a mirror image fight for the first 11 rounds.

One of the greatest knock down drag out brawls of all times.


What do you do when you have lost every minute of all fourteen rounds......and you have a great left hook?

Not a classic fight, but definitely classic

27484  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: the titles of the teachers in the fillipino martial arts on: May 02, 2007, 07:06:37 AM
Another post from the ED:

Tue, 1 May 2007 23:29:59 -0400
From: bgdebuque <>
Subject: Re: [Eskrima] Kali

I think you are on the right track.

It appears that the ancient martial art from South India of Kalaripayattu
have spawned several martial arts-based performing arts, all of which have

KOLKALI is particularly interesting.  According to Wikipedia:  "The dance
performers move in a circle, striking small sticks and keeping rhythm with
special steps. The circle expands and contracts as the dance progress."

Kalaripayattu is now highly-suspected as the possible origin of Shaolin Kung
Fu.  It would not be highly remote that it could also be the origin of the
FMA.  If that is really the case, the use of "Kali" to refer to the FMA
would not be without basis at all.

27485  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Good brief rant on: May 01, 2007, 12:35:22 PM

"As to why some of Capitol Hill's would-be war managers can't name more than a single Iraqi province, officers and journalists offer all kinds of theories.... But, then, expertise may be beside the point. Obliviousness, after all, has its uses.... Where all this leads is clear. Piece together a string of demonstrably false 'facts on the ground' from a suitably safe remove, and you're left with a scenario where we can walk away from Iraq without condition and regardless of consequence. You don't need to watch terrified Iraqis pleading for American forces to stay put in their neighborhoods. You don't need to read the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which anticipates that a precipitous U.S. withdrawal will end in catastrophe. Why, in the serene conviction that things are the other way around, you don't even need to read at all. Chances are, your congressman doesn't either" -- Lawrence Kaplan, writing in the New Republic, on the basic ignorance about Iraq displayed by Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Murtha and other Democratic leaders.
27486  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: May 01, 2007, 12:31:18 PM
How much is the fight?
27487  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The End of National Currency on: May 01, 2007, 12:17:26 PM

Historically, throughout the Balkans and Latin America , sovereign borrowers subjected themselves to considerable foreign control, at times enduring what were considered to be egregious blows to independence. Following its recognition as a state in 1832, Greece spent the rest of the century under varying degrees of foreign creditor control; on the heels of a default on its 1832 obligations, the country had its entire finances placed under French administration. In order to return to the international markets after 1878, the country had to precommit specific revenues from customs and state monopolies to debt repayment. An 1887 loan gave its creditors the power to create a company that would supervise the revenues committed to repayment. After a disastrous war with Turkey over Crete in 1897, Greece was obliged to accept a control commission, comprised entirely of representatives of the major powers, that had absolute power over the sources of revenue necessary to fund its war debt. Greece's experience was mirrored in Bulgaria, Serbia, the Ottoman Empire, Egypt, and, of course, Argentina .

There is, in short, no age of monetary sovereignty to return to. Countries have always borrowed, and when offered the choice between paying high interest rates to compensate for default risk (which was typical during the Renaissance) and paying lower interest rates in return for sacrificing some autonomy over their ability to default (which was typical in the nineteenth century), they have commonly chosen the latter. As for the notion that the IMF today possesses some extraordinary power over the exchange-rate policies of borrowing countries, this, too, is historically inaccurate. Adherence to the nineteenth-century gold standard, with the Bank of England at the helm of the system, severely restricted national monetary autonomy, yet governments voluntarily subjected themselves to it precisely because it meant cheaper capital and greater trade opportunities.


For a large, diversified economy like that of the United States , fluctuating exchange rates are the economic equivalent of a minor toothache. They require fillings from time to time -- in the form of corporate financial hedging and active global supply management -- but never any major surgery. There are two reasons for this. First, much of what Americans buy from abroad can, when import prices rise, quickly and cheaply be replaced by domestic production, and much of what they sell abroad can, when export prices fall, be diverted to the domestic market. Second, foreigners are happy to hold U.S. dollars as wealth.

This is not so for smaller and less advanced economies. They depend on imports for growth, and often for sheer survival, yet cannot pay for them without dollars. What can they do? Reclaim the sovereignty they have allegedly lost to the IMF and international markets by replacing the unwanted national currency with dollars (as Ecuador and El Salvador did half a decade ago) or euros (as Bosnia, Kosovo, and Montenegro did) and thereby end currency crises for good. Ecuador is the shining example of the benefits of dollarization: a country in constant political turmoil has been a bastion of economic stability, with steady, robust economic growth and the lowest inflation rate in Latin America. No wonder its new leftist president, Rafael Correa, was obliged to ditch his de-dollarization campaign in order to win over the electorate. Contrast Ecuador with the Dominican Republic , which suffered a devastating currency crisis in 2004 -- a needless crisis, as 85 percent of its trade is conducted with the United States (a figure comparable to the percentage of a typical U.S. state's trade with other U.S. states).

It is often argued that dollarization is only feasible for small countries. No doubt, smallness makes for a simpler transition. But even Brazil's economy is less than half the size of California's, and the U.S. Federal Reserve could accommodate the increased demand for dollars painlessly (and profitably) without in any way sacrificing its commitment to U.S. domestic price stability. An enlightened U.S. government would actually make it politically easier and less costly for more countries to adopt the dollar by rebating the seigniorage profits it earns when people hold more dollars. (To get dollars, dollarizing countries give the Federal Reserve interest-bearing assets, such as Treasury bonds, which the United States would otherwise have to pay interest on.) The International Monetary Stability Act of 2000 would have made such rebates official U.S. policy, but the legislation died in Congress, unsupported by a Clinton administration that feared it would look like a new foreign-aid program.

Polanyi was wrong when he claimed that because people would never accept foreign fiat money, fiat money could never support foreign trade. The dollar has emerged as just such a global money. This phenomenon was actually foreseen by the brilliant German philosopher and sociologist Georg Simmel in 1900. He surmised:

"Expanding economic relations eventually produce in the enlarged, and finally international, circle the same features that originally characterized only closed groups; economic and legal conditions overcome the spatial separation more and more, and they come to operate just as reliably, precisely and predictably over a great distance as they did previously in local communities. To the extent that this happens, the pledge, that is the intrinsic value of the money, can be reduced. ... Even though we are still far from having a close and reliable relationship within or between nations, the trend is undoubtedly in that direction."

But the dollar's privileged status as today's global money is not heaven-bestowed. The dollar is ultimately just another money supported only by faith that others will willingly accept it in the future in return for the same sort of valuable things it bought in the past. This puts a great burden on the institutions of the U.S. government to validate that faith. And those institutions, unfortunately, are failing to shoulder that burden. Reckless U.S. fiscal policy is undermining the dollar's position even as the currency's role as a global money is expanding.

Four decades ago, the renowned French economist Jacques Rueff, writing just a few years before the collapse of the Bretton Woods dollar-based gold-exchange standard, argued that the system "attains such a degree of absurdity that no human brain having the power to reason can defend it." The precariousness of the dollar's position today is similar. The United States can run a chronic balance-of-payments deficit and never feel the effects. Dollars sent abroad immediately come home in the form of loans, as dollars are of no use abroad. "If I had an agreement with my tailor that whatever money I pay him he returns to me the very same day as a loan," Rueff explained by way of analogy, "I would have no objection at all to ordering more suits from him."

With the U.S. current account deficit running at an enormous 6.6 percent of GDP (about $2 billion a day must be imported to sustain it), the United States is in the fortunate position of the suit buyer with a Chinese tailor who instantaneously returns his payments in the form of loans -- generally, in the U.S. case, as purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds. The current account deficit is partially fueled by the budget deficit (a dollar more of the latter yields about 20-50 cents more of the former), which will soar in the next decade in the absence of reforms to curtail federal "entitlement" spending on medical care and retirement benefits for a longer-living population. The United States -- and, indeed, its Chinese tailor -- must therefore be concerned with the sustainability of what Rueff called an "absurdity." In the absence of long-term fiscal prudence, the United States risks undermining the faith foreigners have placed in its management of the dollar -- that is, their belief that the U.S. government can continue to sustain low inflation without having to resort to growth-crushing interest-rate hikes as a means of ensuring continued high capital inflows.


It is widely assumed that the natural alternative to the dollar as a global currency is the euro. Faith in the euro's endurance, however, is still fragile -- undermined by the same fiscal concerns that afflict the dollar but with the added angst stemming from concerns about the temptations faced by Italy and others to return to monetary nationalism. But there is another alternative, the world's most enduring form of money: gold.

It must be stressed that a well-managed fiat money system has considerable advantages over a commodity-based one, not least of which that it does not waste valuable resources. There is little to commend in digging up gold in South Africa just to bury it again in Fort Knox. The question is how long such a well-managed fiat system can endure in the United States. The historical record of national monies, going back over 2,500 years, is by and large awful.

At the turn of the twentieth century -- the height of the gold standard -- Simmel commented, "Although money with no intrinsic value would be the best means of exchange in an ideal social order, until that point is reached the most satisfactory form of money may be that which is bound to a material substance." Today, with money no longer bound to any material substance, it is worth asking whether the world even approximates the "ideal social order" that could sustain a fiat dollar as the foundation of the global financial system. There is no way effectively to insure against the unwinding of global imbalances should China, with over a trillion dollars of reserves, and other countries with dollar-rich central banks come to fear the unbearable lightness of their holdings.

So what about gold? A revived gold standard is out of the question. In the nineteenth century, governments spent less than ten percent of national income in a given year. Today, they routinely spend half or more, and so they would never subordinate spending to the stringent requirements of sustaining a commodity-based monetary system. But private gold banks already exist, allowing account holders to make international payments in the form of shares in actual gold bars. Although clearly a niche business at present, gold banking has grown dramatically in recent years, in tandem with the dollar's decline. A new gold-based international monetary system surely sounds far-fetched. But so, in 1900, did a monetary system without gold. Modern technology makes a revival of gold money, through private gold banks, possible even without government support.


Virtually every major argument recently leveled against globalization has been leveled against markets generally (and, in turn, debunked) for hundreds of years. But the argument against capital flows in a world with 150 fluctuating national fiat monies is fundamentally different. It is highly compelling -- so much so that even globalization's staunchest supporters treat capital flows as an exception, a matter to be intellectually quarantined until effective crisis inoculations can be developed. But the notion that capital flows are inherently destabilizing is logically and historically false. The lessons of gold-based globalization in the nineteenth century simply must be relearned. Just as the prodigious daily capital flows between New York and California, two of the world's 12 largest economies, are so uneventful that no one even notices them, capital flows between countries sharing a single currency, such as the dollar or the euro, attract not the slightest attention from even the most passionate antiglobalization activists.

Countries whose currencies remain unwanted by foreigners will continue to experiment with crisis-prevention policies, imposing capital controls and building up war chests of dollar reserves. Few will repeat Argentina's misguided efforts to fix a dollar exchange rate without the dollars to do so. If these policies keep the IMF bored for a few more years, they will be for the good.

But the world can do better. Since economic development outside the process of globalization is no longer possible, countries should abandon monetary nationalism. Governments should replace national currencies with the dollar or the euro or, in the case of Asia, collaborate to produce a new multinational currency over a comparably large and economically diversified area.

Europeans used to say that being a country required having a national airline, a stock exchange, and a currency. Today, no European country is any worse off without them. Even grumpy Italy has benefited enormously from the lower interest rates and permanent end to lira speculation that accompanied its adoption of the euro. A future pan-Asian currency, managed according to the same principle of targeting low and stable inflation, would represent the most promising way for China to fully liberalize its financial and capital markets without fear of damaging renminbi speculation (the Chinese economy is only the size of California's and Florida's combined). Most of the world's smaller and poorer countries would clearly be best off unilaterally adopting the dollar or the euro, which would enable their safe and rapid integration into global financial markets. Latin American countries should dollarize; eastern European countries and Turkey, euroize. Broadly speaking, this prescription follows from relative trade flows, but there are exceptions; Argentina, for example, does more eurozone than U.S. trade, but Argentines think and save in dollars.

Of course, dollarizing countries must give up independent monetary policy as a tool of government macroeconomic management. But since the Holy Grail of monetary policy is to get interest rates down to the lowest level consistent with low and stable inflation, an argument against dollarization on this ground is, for most of the world, frivolous. How many Latin American countries can cut interest rates below those in the United States? The average inflation-adjusted lending rate in Latin America is about 20 percent. One must therefore ask what possible boon to the national economy developing-country central banks can hope to achieve from the ability to guide nominal local rates up and down on a discretionary basis. It is like choosing a Hyundai with manual transmission over a Lexus with automatic: the former gives the driver more control but at the cost of inferior performance under any condition.

As for the United States , it needs to perpetuate the sound money policies of former Federal Reserve Chairs Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan and return to long-term fiscal discipline. This is the only sure way to keep the United States' foreign tailors, with their massive and growing holdings of dollar debt, feeling wealthy and secure. It is the market that made the dollar into global money -- and what the market giveth, the market can taketh away. If the tailors balk and the dollar fails, the market may privatize money on its own.

Benn Steil is Director of International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations and a co-author of Financial Statecraft.
27488  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: May 01, 2007, 12:16:11 PM

From Foreign Affairs, May/June 2007

The End of National Currency
By Benn Steil


Summary: Global financial instability has sparked a surge in "monetary nationalism" -- the idea that countries must make and control their own currencies. But globalization and monetary nationalism are a dangerous combination, a cause of financial crises and geopolitical tension. The world needs to abandon unwanted currencies, replacing them with dollars, euros, and multinational currencies as yet unborn.


Capital flows have become globalization's Achilles' heel. Over the past 25 years, devastating currency crises have hit countries across Latin America and Asia , as well as countries just beyond the borders of western Europe -- most notably Russia and Turkey. Even such an impeccably credentialed pro-globalization economist as U.S. Federal Reserve Governor Frederic Mishkin has acknowledged that "opening up the financial system to foreign capital flows has led to some disastrous financial crises causing great pain, suffering, and even violence."

The economics profession has failed to offer anything resembling a coherent and compelling response to currency crises. International Monetary Fund (IMF) analysts have, over the past two decades, endorsed a wide variety of national exchange-rate and monetary policy regimes that have subsequently collapsed in failure. They have fingered numerous culprits, from loose fiscal policy and poor bank regulation to bad industrial policy and official corruption. The financial-crisis literature has yielded policy recommendations so exquisitely hedged and widely contradicted as to be practically useless.

Antiglobalization economists have turned the problem on its head by absolving governments (except the one in Washington) and instead blaming crises on markets and their institutional supporters, such as the IMF -- "dictatorships of international finance," in the words of the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz. "Countries are effectively told that if they don't follow certain conditions, the capital markets or the IMF will refuse to lend them money," writes Stiglitz. "They are basically forced to give up part of their sovereignty."

Is this right? Are markets failing, and will restoring lost sovereignty to governments put an end to financial instability? This is a dangerous misdiagnosis. In fact, capital flows became destabilizing only after countries began asserting "sovereignty" over money -- detaching it from gold or anything else considered real wealth. Moreover, even if the march of globalization is not inevitable, the world economy and the international financial system have evolved in such a way that there is no longer a viable model for economic development outside of them.

The right course is not to return to a mythical past of monetary sovereignty, with governments controlling local interest and exchange rates in blissful ignorance of the rest of the world. Governments must let go of the fatal notion that nationhood requires them to make and control the money used in their territory. National currencies and global markets simply do not mix; together they make a deadly brew of currency crises and geopolitical tension and create ready pretexts for damaging protectionism. In order to globalize safely, countries should abandon monetary nationalism and abolish unwanted currencies, the source of much of today's instability.


Capital flows were enormous, even by contemporary standards, during the last great period of "globalization," from the late nineteenth century to the outbreak of World War I. Currency crises occurred during this period, but they were generally shallow and short-lived. That is because money was then -- as it has been throughout most of the world and most of human history -- gold, or at least a credible claim on gold. Funds flowed quickly back to crisis countries because of confidence that the gold link would be restored. At the time, monetary nationalism was considered a sign of backwardness, adherence to a universally acknowledged standard of value a mark of civilization. Those nations that adhered most reliably (such as Australia, Canada , and the United States) were rewarded with the lowest international borrowing rates. Those that adhered the least (such as Argentina, Brazil , and Chile) were punished with the highest.

This bond was fatally severed during the period between World War I and World War II. Most economists in the 1930s and 1940s considered it obvious that capital flows would become destabilizing with the end of reliably fixed exchange rates. Friedrich Hayek noted in a 1937 lecture that under a credible gold-standard regime, "short-term capital movements will on the whole tend to relieve the strain set up by the original cause of a temporarily adverse balance of payments. If exchanges, however, are variable, the capital movements will tend to work in the same direction as the original cause and thereby to intensify it" -- as they do today.

The belief that globalization required hard money, something foreigners would willingly hold, was widespread. The French economist Charles Rist observed that "while the theorizers are trying to persuade the public and the various governments that a minimum quantity of gold ... would suffice to maintain monetary confidence, and that anyhow paper currency, even fiat currency, would amply meet all needs, the public in all countries is busily hoarding all the national currencies which are supposed to be convertible into gold." This view was hardly limited to free marketeers. As notable a critic of the gold standard and global capitalism as Karl Polanyi took it as obvious that monetary nationalism was incompatible with globalization. Focusing on the United Kingdom's interest in growing world trade in the nineteenth century, he argued that "nothing else but commodity money could serve this end for the obvious reason that token money, whether bank or fiat, cannot circulate on foreign soil." Yet what Polanyi considered nonsensical -- global trade in goods, services, and capital intermediated by intrinsically worthless national paper (or "fiat") monies -- is exactly how globalization is advancing, ever so fitfully, today.

The political mythology associating the creation and control of money with national sovereignty finds its economic counterpart in the metamorphosis of the famous theory of "optimum currency areas" (OCA). Fathered in 1961 by Robert Mundell, a Nobel Prize-winning economist who has long been a prolific advocate of shrinking the number of national currencies, it became over the subsequent decades a quasi-scientific foundation for monetary nationalism.

Mundell, like most macroeconomists of the early 1960s, had a now largely discredited postwar Keynesian mindset that put great faith in the ability of policymakers to fine-tune national demand in the face of what economists call "shocks" to supply and demand. His seminal article, "A Theory of Optimum Currency Areas," asks the question, "What is the appropriate domain of the currency area?" "It might seem at first that the question is purely academic," he observes, "since it hardly appears within the realm of political feasibility that national currencies would ever be abandoned in favor of any other arrangement."

Mundell goes on to argue for flexible exchange rates between regions of the world, each with its own multinational currency, rather than between nations. The economics profession, however, latched on to Mundell's analysis of the merits of flexible exchange rates in dealing with economic shocks affecting different "regions or countries" differently; they saw it as a rationale for treating existing nations as natural currency areas. Monetary nationalism thereby acquired a rational scientific mooring. And from then on, much of the mainstream economics profession came to see deviations from "one nation, one currency" as misguided, at least in the absence of prior political integration.

The link between money and nationhood having been established by economists (much in the way that Aristotle and Jesus were reconciled by medieval scholastics), governments adopted OCA theory as the primary intellectual defense of monetary nationalism. Brazilian central bankers have even defended the country's monetary independence by publicly appealing to OCA theory -- against Mundell himself, who spoke out on the economic damage that sky-high interest rates (the result of maintaining unstable national monies that no one wants to hold) impose on Latin American countries. Indeed, much of Latin America has already experienced "spontaneous dollarization": despite restrictions in many countries, U.S. dollars represent over 50 percent of bank deposits. (In Uruguay, the figure is 90 percent, reflecting the appeal of Uruguay's lack of currency restrictions and its famed bank secrecy.) This increasingly global phenomenon of people rejecting national monies as a store of wealth has no place in OCA theory.


Just a few decades ago, vital foreign investment in developing countries was driven by two main motivations: to extract raw materials for export and to gain access to local markets heavily protected against competition from imports. Attracting the first kind of investment was simple for countries endowed with the right natural resources. (Companies readily went into war zones to extract oil, for example.) Governments pulled in the second kind of investment by erecting tariff and other barriers to competition so as to compensate foreigners for an otherwise unappealing business climate. Foreign investors brought money and know-how in return for monopolies in the domestic market.

This cozy scenario was undermined by the advent of globalization. Trade liberalization has opened up most developing countries to imports (in return for export access to developed countries), and huge declines in the costs of communication and transport have revolutionized the economics of global production and distribution. Accordingly, the reasons for foreign companies to invest in developing countries have changed. The desire to extract commodities remains, but companies generally no longer need to invest for the sake of gaining access to domestic markets. It is generally not necessary today to produce in a country in order to sell in it (except in large economies such as Brazil and China ).

At the same time, globalization has produced a compelling new reason to invest in developing countries: to take advantage of lower production costs by integrating local facilities into global chains of production and distribution. Now that markets are global rather than local, countries compete with others for investment, and the factors defining an attractive investment climate have changed dramatically. Countries can no longer attract investors by protecting them against competition; now, since protection increases the prices of goods that foreign investors need as production inputs, it actually reduces global competitiveness.

In a globalizing economy, monetary stability and access to sophisticated financial services are essential components of an attractive local investment climate. And in this regard, developing countries are especially poorly positioned.

Traditionally, governments in the developing world exercised strict control over interest rates, loan maturities, and even the beneficiaries of credit -- all of which required severing financial and monetary links with the rest of the world and tightly controlling international capital flows. As a result, such flows occurred mainly to settle trade imbalances or fund direct investments, and local financial systems remained weak and underdeveloped. But growth today depends more and more on investment decisions funded and funneled through the global financial system. (Borrowing in low-cost yen to finance investments in Europe while hedging against the yen's rise on a U.S. futures exchange is no longer exotic.) Thus, unrestricted and efficient access to this global system -- rather than the ability of governments to manipulate parochial monetary policies -- has become essential for future economic development.

But because foreigners are often unwilling to hold the currencies of developing countries, those countries' local financial systems end up being largely isolated from the global system. Their interest rates tend to be much higher than those in the international markets and their lending operations extremely short -- not longer than a few months in most cases. As a result, many developing countries are dependent on U.S. dollars for long-term credit. This is what makes capital flows, however necessary, dangerous: in a developing country, both locals and foreigners will sell off the local currency en masse at the earliest whiff of devaluation, since devaluation makes it more difficult for the country to pay its foreign debts -- hence the dangerous instability of today's international financial system.

Although OCA theory accounts for none of these problems, they are grave obstacles to development in the context of advancing globalization. Monetary nationalism in developing countries operates against the grain of the process -- and thus makes future financial problems even more likely.


Why has the problem of serial currency crises become so severe in recent decades? It is only since 1971, when President Richard Nixon formally untethered the dollar from gold, that monies flowing around the globe have ceased to be claims on anything real. All the world's currencies are now pure manifestations of sovereignty conjured by governments. And the vast majority of such monies are unwanted: people are unwilling to hold them as wealth, something that will buy in the future at least what it did in the past. Governments can force their citizens to hold national money by requiring its use in transactions with the state, but foreigners, who are not thus compelled, will choose not to do so. And in a world in which people will only willingly hold dollars (and a handful of other currencies) in lieu of gold money, the mythology tying money to sovereignty is a costly and sometimes dangerous one. Monetary nationalism is simply incompatible with globalization. It has always been, even if this has only become apparent since the 1970s, when all the world's governments rendered their currencies intrinsically worthless.

Yet, perversely as a matter of both monetary logic and history, the most notable economist critical of globalization, Stiglitz, has argued passionately for monetary nationalism as the remedy for the economic chaos caused by currency crises. When millions of people, locals and foreigners, are selling a national currency for fear of an impending default, the Stiglitz solution is for the issuing government to simply decouple from the world: drop interest rates, devalue, close off financial flows, and stiff the lenders. It is precisely this thinking, a throwback to the isolationism of the 1930s, that is at the root of the cycle of crisis that has infected modern globalization.

Argentina has become the poster child for monetary nationalists -- those who believe that every country should have its own paper currency and not waste resources hoarding gold or hard-currency reserves. Monetary nationalists advocate capital controls to avoid entanglement with foreign creditors. But they cannot stop there. As Hayek emphasized in his 1937 lecture, "exchange control designed to prevent effectively the outflow of capital would really have to involve a complete control of foreign trade," since capital movements are triggered by changes in the terms of credit on exports and imports.

Indeed, this is precisely the path that Argentina has followed since 2002, when the government abandoned its currency board, which tried to fix the peso to the dollar without the dollars necessary to do so. Since writing off $80 billion worth of its debts (75 percent in nominal terms), the Argentine government has been resorting to ever more intrusive means in order to prevent its citizens from protecting what remains of their savings and buying from or selling to foreigners. The country has gone straight back to the statist model of economic control that has failed Latin America repeatedly over generations. The government has steadily piled on more and more onerous capital and domestic price controls, export taxes, export bans, and limits on citizens' access to foreign currency. Annual inflation has nevertheless risen to about 20 percent, prompting the government to make ham-fisted efforts to manipulate the official price data. The economy has become ominously dependent on soybean production, which surged in the wake of price controls and export bans on cattle, taking the country back to the pre-globalization model of reliance on a single commodity export for hard-currency earnings. Despite many years of robust postcrisis economic recovery, GDP is still, in constant U.S. dollars, 26 percent below its peak in 1998, and the country's long-term economic future looks as fragile as ever.

When currency crises hit, countries need dollars to pay off creditors. That is when their governments turn to the IMF, the most demonized institutional face of globalization. The IMF has been attacked by Stiglitz and others for violating "sovereign rights" in imposing conditions in return for loans. Yet the sort of compromises on policy autonomy that sovereign borrowers strike today with the IMF were in the past struck directly with foreign governments. And in the nineteenth century, these compromises cut far more deeply into national autonomy.
27489  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: May 01, 2007, 11:51:00 AM
Did they have actual content?  I got bored with the soap opera of it all on the first one I saw and haven't gone back.
27490  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: May 01, 2007, 08:55:03 AM
Well, HBO sure has been pushing it!

You have any predictions Porn Star Dog?  Anyone?
27491  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: the titles of the teachers in the fillipino martial arts on: May 01, 2007, 08:53:47 AM
Two posts from today's Eskrima Digest:

Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2007 07:12:18 -0700 (PDT)
From: ken jo <>
Subject: [Eskrima] Re: kali


I respect the opinions and some of the facts and
stories that Mr. Celestino C. Macachor and Ned
Nepangue M.D. presented in their individual papers
though this does not necessarily mean that I agree
with them..

in mindanao, the land where i was born, where i grew
up and the land that i love, we have friends among the
Muslims and they have informed us that the TAUSUG term
for their bladed weapons is indeed KALIS. (fyi: the
TAUSUGs are the most feared warrior tribe among Muslim
Filipinos - Nur Misuari, ARMM Governor Parouk Hussin
and Basilan Governor Wahab Akbar are some of the
noteworthy Tausug personalities). Most of the Tausugs
are based in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi.

In the Philippine military/para-military [Armed Forces
of the Philippines, ROTC, CMT/CAT, etc.], the term for
the ceremonial saber or any other bladed weapon/sword
is KALIS.. [Saludo Kalis! (Salute with the
Sword/Saber!)- or words to that effect..]

[[fyi: Placido Yambao wrote Mga Karunungan sa Larung
Arnis in 1957 - first book dedicated to the history
and practice of the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA).

According to Bot Jocano (2004): "It is probably this
book that is the source of many of the history
sections of most arnis books available in the market
today. This material is found in the chapter entitled
"Maikling Kasaysayan ng Arnis" and what was written by
Buenaventura Mirafuente, the editor of the book.

Mirafuente states that arnis was first known as KALI
during the early years of the Spanish conquest.

In particular, mention is made of the arrival of
Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1564 and how he was greeted
with demonstrations of the art by the local datu or
chieftains and their followers. Legazpi's reaction to
those demonstrations is presented in the following:

Sa gayon ay nawika ni Legazpi sa sarili na "ang KALI
ay hindi lamang larong libangan at pangpalipas ng
panahon kundi isang mabising sining ng pagtanggol sa
sarili sa larangan ng digmaan" (p.10)

(Consequently, Legazpi said to himself "KALI is not
only a game and a measure of passing time but also an
effective art of self-protection in the realm of
warfare".)" ]]

about that book  and its author - the controversial
piece "Maikling Kasaysayan ng Arnis" (actually an
introduction) was written by Buenaventura Mirafuente,
the editor of the book "Mga Karunungan sa Larung
Arnis" by Placido Yambao published in 1957. This was
the first book dedicated to the history and practice
of the Filipino Martial Arts. You can access it at the
UP Diliman Library..

now as to where Mr. Mirafuente got his info - that
would be the subject of debates - but it would seem
logical to assume that the use of that word has been
in existence long before the publishing of the book -
as the draft document, i heard, was 20-30 years in the
making - we can only surmise that the word KALI was in
existence at least in the 1900s or a minimum of 100++
years.. but if we are to be strict, legalistic, and
technical about it, then the published word KALI is at
least 50 years old this year.

ang matagal ko nang gustong itanong noon pa.. ano po
ba ang istilo ni manong mirafuente at manong yambao
noon at pumayag sila na bigyan pansin ang
terminolohiyang "kali" sa panahong 1957? --

sa japan kasi, 1936 lang naging "official Japanese
term" yung word na karate -- to cite (got this

In 1936, at nearly 70 years of age, Funakoshi Gichin
opened his own training hall. The decision of
Funakoshi Gichin to change the kanji used for writing
the name of the art - "karate" was confirmed at the
so-called "Meeting of the Masters", which included
Chojun Miyagi, Chomo Hanashiro, Kentsu Yabu, Chotoku
Kyan, Genwa Nakasone, Choshin Chibana, Choryo Maeshiro
and Shinpan Shiroma.

Gichin did this to get karate accepted by the Japanese
budo organisation Dai Nippon Butokukai . In a time of
rising Japanese nationalism (Japan was occupying
China), Funakoshi knew that a 'foreign' art would not
be accepted. Thus this body agreed to change the
original kanji which meant "Tang hand" from the
Chinese Tang dynasty or by extension, "Chinese hand" -
reflecting the Chinese influence on the style to the
current way of writing which means "empty hand" -
karate-do - thus meaning "the way of the empty hand."

..anyway just curious if this had an effect on how our
early manongs viewed the word "kali".. peace to all!
Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2007 12:20:16 EDT
Subject: [Eskrima] Re: Guru, masguru, James Sy. (Eskrima digest, Vol 14 #123 - 5

I wrote an article on the origin of the word kali in the June 2005 issue of 
Inside Kungfu. In my article I traced the origin of the word kalisin to kali. 
However, James Sy said the word kalisin has nothing to do with the FMA.
I would not fault Mr. Sy for not knowing the relationship between the two 
words. Even heads of systems such as Ben Largusa  couldn't explain the  origin
of the word kali. Chris (Sayoc Kali) couldn't explain it either. So  does Kali
Illustrisimo. None among those who use the word kali as part of  their
system's name could explain the word kali. They had at best theories that  does not
do anything but wing an explanation.
I did some research on the origin of Tagalog words - about 15 years at the 
big public library in Manhattan (NY). I pored through Sanskrit and Indian 
dictionaries to find which among the Tagalog words that I knew originated  from
Sanskrit. I found quite a few. (Indeed, a book was written on Tagalog and 
Sanskrit words back in 1898.)
Perhaps, it would help if I explain the relations between kalisin (meaning 
to scrape) and the word/fighting art kali.
Mr. Sy did a direct Tagalog to English translation. A direct translation is 
usually off the mark because something is lost in between. In his case, Mr. Sy
 couldn't see the relationship. Here is the relationship.
When a kali man or a FMA man fights, they try to remove (scrape) layers  of
defenses of the enemy so he can get to the enemy's body. This  should be
explanation enough.
Mr. Sy mentioned a few names of teachers in his email.
I was a former professor and board reviewer in Chemical Engineering at 
Adamson University in Manila from 1963 to 1973. Tagalog is my dialect. I speak 
both literary and contemporary Tagalog.
Best regards to all EDer's
APMarinas Sr.
27492  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Dark chocolate as good for blood pressure as drugs on: May 01, 2007, 08:11:04 AM
Remedies: Dark Chocolate Similar to Blood Pressure Drugs
Published: April 24, 2007
NY Times

Eating dark chocolate may be almost as effective at lowering blood pressure as taking the most common antihypertensive drugs, a review of studies has found. Tea, on the other hand, appears to be ineffective.

Effect of Cocoa and Tea Intake on Blood Pressure (Archives of Internal Medicine)The article says a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is healthy partly because plants contain chemical substances called polyphenols that help control blood pressure. In Western countries, the major sources of dietary polyphenols are tea and chocolate, but studies of their ties to blood pressure have had mixed results.

From more than 3,000 papers, researchers picked the largest randomized and controlled prospective studies and used statistical techniques to combine the data. The analysis included four studies of black tea, one of green tea and five of dark chocolate. It appears in the April 9 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine.

Four of the five studies on chocolate found reduced blood pressure after eating, but none of the tea studies showed significant benefit. The magnitude of the effect of eating three and a half ounces of dark chocolate a day was clinically significant, comparable to that of beta-blockers like atenolol, known by the brand name Tenormin, or propranolol, known as Inderal. The authors acknowledge that the studies were short and that results may not apply to habitual use.

Milk proteins prevent the absorption of polyphenols, so milk chocolate is not effective. “I’ve been eating a little more dark chocolate,” said Dr. Dirk Taubert, the lead author and a professor of pharmacology at University Hospital in Cologne, Germany. “And my blood pressure has gone down. But I have no dietary recommendations for others.”

NY Times
27493  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Remember the Alamo on: April 30, 2007, 11:54:12 PM
Internet friend Ed Rothstein writes for the NY Times.  As always I am impressed by the depth and breadth of his writing.  Here is his most recent column:

Remembering the Alamo Is Easier When You Know Its Many-Sided History

Published: April 30, 2007

SAN ANTONIO — With apologies to all Texians — as they were once called — before visiting San Antonio, I really didn’t remember the Alamo. I retained a vague impression from youth in which heroism, independence and Davy Crockett were major elements, and Mexicans were the bad guys, but that was about it. It was like a childhood fairy tale, barely recalled.

Skip to next paragraph

Enlarge This Image

Michael Stravato for The New York Times

Tourists talk with an Alamo Ranger outside the mission.

That’s fine for myths: they are not really meant to survive with photographic realism. That is one way they have such a broad effect on the mind and culture, creating impressions, molding perceptions, shaping expectations. That’s also why every demythologizing movement has an element of aggressive triumph over myth’s power, as if a mesmeric trance were being overturned.

But when it comes to the Alamo — particularly here in this Texas city where this old Spanish mission turned fort attracts nearly three million visitors a year — the history and its mythical meanings have been wrestled over almost as much as the blood-soaked terrain was in preceding centuries. “Remember the Alamo!” was the old battle cry; in recent decades the fight was over just what was being remembered.

Even now, the Alamo is often looked at by local Latinos as a relic of Anglo imperialism, with Mexico losing Texas in a land grab. For its advocates, though, the Alamo reflects a stubborn Texan drive for independence won from Mexico in 1836, just as that nation was losing its way in the mire of coups and tyranny. In this view, the Alamo is a tragic counterpart to Lexington and Concord, leading to the Republic of Texas — and ultimately bringing the entire Southwest into the orbit of the United States.

This also puts the Alamo at the center of a larger drama in which American history itself is the contested arena, a drama now shaping how American museums present the past. Dare we celebrate our past if it turns out, when seen in the harsh light of American middle age, that it was not as golden as we once imagined? (Jamestown, Va., in commemorating its forthcoming 400th anniversary, apparently thinks not.) But dare we mourn our past if it turns out that things were not as bad as they were elsewhere and held the promise of something far better? The Alamo’s current incarnation — its central exhibition was mounted by its curator, Richard Bruce Winders, in 2005 — may provide some perspective on the opposing traps of sanitized idealism and cynical self-disgust.

The mythic power of the place is plain in the bare outlines of Texas history. Before the 1820s, Texas had been a lightly populated province of Spanish-owned Mexico. Incentives and cheap land lured many settlers from the United States. Then, once Mexico won independence from Spain in 1821, creating a republic based on the federal system of the United States, the Texan region was joined with its stronger neighbor, Coahuila, to form a single Mexican state.

But the Mexican government proved less than stable, with 13 presidents in 15 years. Mexico increased tariffs and Texans began to feel poorly represented. Finally, in 1835, Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna suspended the constitution, declared himself president and made it clear that Texan yearnings deserved no more consideration than those of the Zacatecas rebels, who were first subdued and then massacred.

Some Texans sought accommodation, some hoped for Mexican statehood, but after General Santa Anna’s maneuvers, many sought independence. As the general’s army marched to Texas to crush resistance, fewer than 200 rebels armed themselves in the crumbling fort of the Alamo, where Mexicans had, not long before, suffered a temporary defeat. This time the Texans also happened to have at least two legends of the American West with them: Jim Bowie and Crockett.

The rebels hoped in vain for reinforcements as several thousand Mexican soldiers surrounded the Alamo. The Texans’ certain defeat took 13 days — with only a few scattered survivors — but their fight was so fierce that the Mexican army was significantly weakened. Within weeks, that army was beaten by Sam Houston leading the Texans. General Santa Anna was captured, and in ransoming his freedom, he granted Texas its independence.

That is the background to the heroic tale told in John Wayne’s 1960 film “The Alamo.” Similar valor is displayed in the 1988 Imax film “Alamo: The Price of Freedom,” shown continuously about a block from the fort. The focus on heroism has always been prevalent at the fort as well, which displays a lock of Crockett’s hair, along with Houston’s sword.

But after the 1970s, as James E. Crisp recounts in his fascinating 2004 book, “Sleuthing the Alamo,” “a new and radicalized generation of historians saw the origins of the conflict in the prejudices of Anglo-American bigots.” Race, for some historians, became the central issue in the revolution. Texan immigrants from the Southern United States relied on slavery, which was forbidden in Mexico, creating a major incentive for Texas independence and the application of a selective idea of liberty. Even Bowie was not just a war hero, expert with a hunting knife: he had made his fortune as a slave trader and shady land speculator. And D. W. Griffith’s 1915 silent film “Martyrs of the Alamo” may have gotten at more of the historical truth in Griffith’s racial condescension to the Mexicans than in his depiction of the battles fought.

As Mr. Crisp writes, “We should never allow even the most revered of our society’s ‘sacred narratives’ to be accepted as simple truths, nor to be mistaken for legitimate history.”

But these characterizations are simple truths: a set of opposing mythologies with their own assertions of moral superiority and injured outrage. As Mr. Crisp points out, more complicated truths require rejecting race as the primary issue in the Texan revolution. He also suggests that as far as Mexicans were concerned, real discrimination fully came into its own only at the beginning of the 20th century, when among other indignities, Texas public schools practiced segregation of its “white” pupils from citizens of Mexican descent. At the time of the revolution, relations between the groups were far different.

They were also never simple. Some wariness of outsiders came from the Mexicans themselves. As H. W. Brands’s history of Texas, “Lone Star Nation,” shows, one reason for Mexican nervousness about Texas’s future as a Mexican province was the crucial cultural differences between the North American colonists and the Mexican colonists. In an 1828 survey of the region for the Mexican government, Manuel de Mier y Terán outlined important distinctions in attitudes toward individualism that he believed would make it increasingly difficult for Mexico to control North American Texans.

Within the Alamo, Mr. Winders’s intelligent exhibition now treats those 13 days of battle as part of an extended civil war in Mexico over the ideas of liberty and federalism. But establishing a context for understanding history beyond the myth doesn’t diminish the myth’s power or its importance. “What is a shrine?” his exhibition asks. “A shrine is a place hallowed by its associations.”

And the Alamo is such a shrine, that for all the flaws and eccentricities of its inhabitants and its era left a heroic mark on the sluggish human trudge toward liberty. It still commands remembrance.

Connections, a critic’s perspective on arts and ideas, appears every other Monday.
27494  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / General Art Laffer's march to Georgia-- true tax reform on: April 30, 2007, 03:48:12 PM
From today's Political Journal of the WSJ

-- John Fund
A Peach of a Tax Plan

Just maybe, the model for a fundamental tax overhaul nation-wide has percolated up in the State of Georgia. On Wednesday, Glenn Richardson, speaker of Georgia's House of Representatives, filed a bill that would junk the state's existing tax code and replace it with a much simpler one.

Under the plan, all state and local property taxes would be eliminated. So would the estate tax, unemployment insurance and worker's compensation taxes, business and occupational fees, intangible taxes and insurance taxes. The entire structure would be replaced with a flat rate income tax of 5.75% and a flat 5.75% sales tax. The state's income tax is currently 6% and the sales tax is 4.5%.

The architect of the plan is the famous Reagan economist Arthur Laffer. "This would bring the focus of the entire country on Georgia," Mr. Laffer said in an interview. "States compete; they're like puppies bouncing around in a box at a pet store to get noticed. This is a way for Georgia to get noticed and set itself apart from all the rest of the states when it tries to sell itself to businesses and families."

House Speaker Richardson has been an ardent champion of tax reform in Georgia, which has become one of the reddest states in the nation. Georgia has a Republican legislature and, in Sonny Perdue, a Republican governor. "We must change the burdensome and antiquated tax system we currently have," Mr. Richardson says. He concedes that many business groups are likely to oppose the plan because it eliminates all the special favors, handouts and loopholes in the current Georgia code.

This plan would have to be approved by both houses of the legislature and then placed on the November 2008 ballot to be approved by voters. Mr. Laffer says the economic and jobs impact would be significantly positive because it increases "after-tax incentives to work, invest, produce and live in Georgia." Mr. Richardson adds: "I believe the House tax reform plan will be the talk of the nation." Who, knows the flat tax may finally get legs across America -- maybe even in Washington.

-- Stephen Moore
27495  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Case for Grenades on: April 30, 2007, 03:16:16 PM
Woof All:

With the author's blessing, I share the following piece here-- including its catchy title!


Another thread reminded me of a question that I have long pondered and been unable to answer. I view the National Firearms Act as clearly unconstitutional and a partial abridgment of the right to bear arms. It reduces the right to bear arms to the right to bear some arms. But the distinction between permitted and prohibited arms is seemingly arbitrary and without a connection to any real objective standard. How does a 14” barreled shotgun differ from a 18” barreled shotgun? If manufacturing a firearm that is compact and maneuverable is unlawful, then why can we still have handguns? If the power factor is the difference, then why can we have bullpups?

And yet there is something within the NFA that somehow seems reasonable to me. The Second Amendment was written as an absolute right, whereas the Fourth Amendment was written as a restriction against unreasonable searches and seizures. But—perhaps as the result of a faulty assumption within my worldview—I still wish to accept reasonable limits on the right to bear arms. Before ya’ll start looking for a length of rope, allow me to give some examples. I believe that it is reasonable to prohibit the civilian ownership of biological weapons such as ricin or anthrax. I believe it is reasonable to prohibit the civilian ownership of nuclear missiles. And yet these are arms, and we have a right to arms. If you view defense against a tyrannical government as a reason for possessing arms, then support for a right to own RPGs and nuclear submarines may be supportable. If you focus exclusively upon defense against street criminals, then the need for such weaponry falters.

Personally, I fear my government much more than street thugs. I have heard several liberal gun-grabbers bolster their argument for banning small arms by asserting the “futility of defense” theory, i.e. that our government is now so powerful that we can’t reasonably expect to defend ourselves with small arms anyway, so there is no real defense-against-tyranny support for the RKBA. I cannot completely dismiss this argument. But, rather than accepting their desire to confiscate everything, it just makes me think that we need more and bigger guns.

Somewhere between the pellet rifle and the Patriot missile, we must draw the line. What arms are reasonable? I first came to this question because I realized that I want hand grenades. Everyone scoffs at that. The most ardent defenders of the RKBA throw back their heads in laughter. It is viewed as an insane position. But why? What makes hand grenades different?

Discrimination. I have been told that it is because hand grenades are not discriminatory. That is incorrect—used properly, hand grenades are discriminatory. Soldiers don’t simply drop grenades everywhere they go. Grenades are chosen because the enemy is behind cover and otherwise unkillable. They are used only when they can be used to eliminate the enemy and simultaneously not present a threat to friendly troops. Used improperly, rifles are not discriminatory.

Training. I have been told that it is because it takes too much training to use a grenade. That is absurd. You first make sure that you are in a safe position from which to throw a grenade; that you have good cover so you don’t catch any of the shrapnel. Then you pull the pin and throw. That’s it. You have to know how far you can throw a grenade. How do you figure that out? Simple—grab a dummy and practice. Training is a red herring; just as much so for grenades as for CCW.

Danger. I have been told that grenades are just too dangerous. So what? Sharp sticks are dangerous. Guns are dangerous. A negligent discharge with a rifle can kill an innocent well over a mile away. A moron with a grenade presents virtually no danger to anyone one-hundred yards away. And what is the danger in doing nothing? What is more dangerous: lobbing a grenade or allowing the bad guy to continue shooting at me from around a corner?

The entire population of the free world seems to agree that my position on this issue is crazy. So please help me. What is the difference? What are the guiding principles that distinguish a grenade from a rifle? Why is the grenade not a legitimate tool of defense against both criminals and tyrants?

Historical Perspectives

To help formulate a position on this issue, I have looked at a variety of stances on the RKBA that have predominated throughout the history of our nation. This is my own work, and I have created these categories based upon the inferences and presuppositions that can be read into the works of various statutes, court documents, judicial decisions and scholarly articles covering the subject. If you are unable to locate other authors who have treated the subject in similar fashion, it is because I may be the first to have done so.

I have divided the dominant schools on the RKBA into six categories: 1) Civilized Warfare, 2) the 19th Century, 3) Miller, 4) the Police Model, 5) the NRA Model (also called the Modern View), and 6) Halbrook. The Civilized Warfare model recognizes a RKBA for the purpose of calling forth an armed militia to wage war upon a battlefield. The 19th Century Model is complete laissez faire; the RKBA exists for the militia, for defense against bandits or tyrants, for sport, for pleasure or any other lawful purpose (although in practice it was denied to minority groups). The Miller model is based upon a strict reading of the judicial decision handed down in U.S. v. Miller. The Police Model regards the RKBA from the position of personal defense from non-governmental criminals. The NRA model is merely representative of the “popular” or “modern” perspective upon the RKBA, and is based solely upon the majority approval it receives and not upon any principled set of criteria. The Halbrook model is based upon the support for the RKBA that is presented by a significant set of constitutional scholars, including the notable Stephen Halbrook. The ideology that supports each model is reflected in the types of arms that are protected under each model.

I also divided the subject arms into various categories, some of which will seem rather benign to you and some of which may disturb your conscience. The nine categories of arms that I considered are: 1) crew-served machineguns, 2) single infantryman machineguns, 3) assault weapons, 4) hunting rifles, 5) full-size handguns, 6) small or inexpensive handguns, 7) sporting shotguns, Cool .22 rifles and pistols, 9) grenades, bombs, mines and artillery. This list is not comprehensive and my definitions are very broad. Some groups are representative of guns that would not ordinarily fall within the strict categorization. As an example, a short-barreled shotgun would be viewed in like fashion with an assault weapon by all models except the NRA model (which is the only model which reflects popular opinion rather than demonstrable criteria).

The simplest and most permissive model is the 19th Century view. All of the categories of arms are allowed in this model. Anything goes. Men are responsible for their actions, but there are no prior restraints upon the ownership of any firearm or weapon.

The Civilized Warfare view (similar to the theory put forward by Saul Cornell) provides a RKBA only for arms that have a place in war. Small, inexpensive handguns have no place on a modern battlefield, and therefore can be regulated or prohibited at will by the legislature. The same applies to sporting shotguns. No one would choose to go to war armed with a Browning Citori and a Beretta Jetfire, therefore the 2nd Amendment wasn’t intended to protect these arms.

(Note: Unprotected arms may still be allowed by the Congress. The fact that the 2nd Amendment does not provide a right to possess an arm does not preclude the Congress from choosing to extend a privilege to own such arms. Additionally, all of these models presume a positivist position of the law—the idea that the 2nd Amendment creates a RKBA rather than merely recognizing a pre-existing and inalienable right.)

The Miller model is the most surprising to those with an introductory knowledge of Second Amendment jurisprudence. The Miller case is probably the most often mis-cited and misrepresented case in the Supreme Court’s history. It is lauded as the case which affirmed the federal government’s authority to regulate firearms. But the holding of the case is much more narrow than that which is normally cited. The majority decision, issued by Justice McReynolds, held only that the government was free to regulate those firearms which were “not part of any ordinary military equipment” and “could not contribute to the common defense.” U.S. v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174, 177 (1939). The firearm in question was a short-barreled shotgun. At the District Court, the judges took it under judicial notice that short-barreled shotguns had a military application. Those judges were veterans of the Great War, and had seen shotguns used to great effect in the trenches. The Supreme Court however was not comprised of men of valor. Justice McReynolds unilluminatingly states that there was “an absence of any evidence” that such an arm had an application to the military. (Id.) What the record fails to disclose was that no attorney represented the defendants in oral argument or in brief to the Supreme Court! There was no evidence in support of the defense because only the State put on any evidence. This is damning enough in and of itself, but even in this kangaroo court Justice McReynolds specifically limited the authority of the federal government to regulate those arms which had no relation to the military. This means that under Miller, as under the Civilized Warfare model, the government would be free to tax, regulate or (possibly) prohibit engraved double guns and Olympic target pistols, but that the people retained the right to any guns which had a place in warfare. This is still good precedent in the U.S., and logically should support ownership of M-16s, M-249s, M-2s, SAMs, grenades and any other item in the full complement of arms that our soldiers have to choose from. The Miller model may or may not protect the right to possess .22 rifles and pistols. Because these firearms are sometimes used to train troops, they may be protected.

The Police model embraces protection for those arms that can be effectively used to prevent crime. An individual infantryman’s machinegun would probably be protected (many agencies issue the M-16), but not a crew-served machinegun because it isn’t useful in a civilian police role (they are too cumbersome to be used for reactive defense). Unlike Miller or the Civilized Warfare models, the Police model recognizes a right to possess small or inexpensive handguns. But it still does not recognize a right to sporting shotguns or grenades/bombs/mines/artillery. The police model may require further refinement of the definitions, because it would actually support the ownership of flash-bang grenades, but would not protect fragmentation grenades. However, current federal law does not distinguish between the two.

The NRA model simply reflects the current assumptions. Machineguns—both individual and crew-served—are not protected. Grenades, et al, are not protected. Assault weapons must be further defined in this model. Guns that are merely cosmetically different from sporting rifles, but which have been modified so as to limit themselves to a reduced (semi-auto) rate of fire, are protected. But true military rifles which retain the ability to fire fully-automatic are not protected. Additionally, this model accepts the arbitrary barrel length determination of the NFA. A 16” barreled rifle is fine, while a 16” barreled shotgun is morally culpable. Unlike previous models, the NRA model or Modern view places great importance on the right to possess sporting arms which have no utility in war or defense. Firearms are lauded for their beauty and are protected for their ability to entertain us rather than to defend us.

The Halbrook model is closest to the NRA model, but reaches somewhat further in that it still looks to a military/defense use for arms, limiting this role though to an individual infantryman’s arms. The right to a machinegun is recognized, but not a crew-served machinegun. Additionally, unlike the NRA model, the protection of assault weapons would likely include short-barreled rifles and shotguns. Despite a connection being drawn to the individual infantryman, the Halbrook model still dismisses a right to grenades and explosives, despite the fact that these are standard kit for an infantryman.

There are currently no serious constitutional scholars supporting an inalienable right to bear arms that is inherent in man and which cannot be erased by legislative or judicial decree. Only a few of us Christian lunatics cling to this idea.

It may be that none of the models listed here are representative of your outlook. But you must be aware of your worldview and prior assumptions when you are addressing this question. Have you simply adopted the logically-inconsistent NRA view? If you base your support for the RKBA upon the Civilized Warfare or 19th Century model, then how can you not support a right to own grenades? If you believe that you have a right to own that high-polished, over-under quail gun, do you base that in a 19th Century view or the NRA view? In a country whose food problem is in having too much of it, can we distinguish the value of a sporting shotgun from that of a bicycle or racecar—aren’t they all just toys that we amuse ourselves with rather than tools which are necessary for sustenance or freedom?
Virtute et Armis,
J. Bradley
27496  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Colombia on: April 30, 2007, 02:26:16 PM


One Righteous Gringo
April 30, 2007; Page A14

Al Gore may not have known that he was taking the side of a former terrorist and ally of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez when he waded into Colombian politics 10 days ago. But that's not much consolation to 45 million Colombians who watched their country's already fragile international image suffer another unjust blow, this time at the hands of a former U.S. vice president.

The event was a climate-change conference in Miami, where Mr. Gore and Colombian President Álvaro Uribe were set to share the stage. At the last minute, Mr. Gore notified the conference organizers that he refused to appear with Mr. Uribe because of "deeply troubling" allegations of human- rights violations swirling around the Colombian government.

It is not clear whether the ex-veep knows that making unsubstantiated claims of human-rights violations has been a key guerrilla weapon for more than a decade, along with the more traditional practices of murdering, maiming and kidnapping civilians. Nor is it clear whether Mr. Gore knew that the recycled charges that caught his attention are being hyped by Colombian Sen. Gustavo Petro, a close friend of Mr. Chávez and former member of the pro-Cuban M-19 terrorist group. What we do know is that Mr. Gore's line of reasoning -- that Colombia is not good enough to rub shoulders with the righteous gringos -- is also being peddled by some Democrats in Congress, the AFL-CIO and other forces of anti-globalization. The endgame is all about killing the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

When Mr. Uribe got wind of Mr. Gore's decision to stand him up, he rightly interpreted its significance: Colombia is the victim of an international smear campaign that, if left unchecked, could undermine congressional support for the pending trade deal. Rather than let the whispering go on, Mr. Uribe elevated the matter, calling two press conferences over two days to refute the charges, which he says are damaging the country's interests. He also asked Mr. Gore to look "at Colombia closely" so he could see the progress that has been made.

The truth about Colombia's bloody struggle against criminal networks is not hard to discern. The tragedy originated more than five decades ago with ideological rebel warfare and was long supported by Fidel Castro. After Pablo Escobar was killed in 1993 and the Medellin and Cali drug cartels collapsed in the mid-1990s, the guerrillas moved into the narcotrafficking business and used this new source of financing to heighten the terror.

Mary Anastasia O'Grady discusses the implications of Al Gore's diplomatic "dis" of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
In a December 2001 monograph published by The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College, Latin American insurgency and counterinsurgency expert David Spencer described the costs of the guerillas' "predatory business": "The federation of cattle ranchers reported that in 1997 they suffered losses of $750 million, largely to guerrilla theft and extortion. The consequences of resisting these extortive taxes is severe and includes kidnapping, death, and destruction of property." As Mr. Spencer explained, the urban rich avoided much of the terrorism; the vulnerable were the "small, independent farmers, ranchers, professionals, and merchants."

Lacking resources and a plan of action, the state did little to protect innocents. So the rural population organized self-defense units that became known as paramilitaries. Many of these groups later morphed into criminal enterprises.

Mr. Uribe, whose father was murdered by guerrillas, was elected governor of the state of Antioquia in 1995. He inherited a mess. "Guerrillas were all over the state," he told me in a 1997 interview in Medellin. "They were kidnapping, drug trafficking, keeping illegal plantations. Against them were the paramilitary. Wherever guerrillas arrived in one place, sooner or later paramilitary arrived there too, committing many similar crimes."

To confront the chaos, the governor made increasing the presence of the state a priority and launched the "convivirs." These legal civic organizations were citizens' intelligence networks designed to help the army and police identify and pursue guerrillas, paramilitary groups, narcotraffickers and common criminals in the countryside.

It was later learned that some of the convivirs had links to paramilitaries. This shouldn't be surprising since both groups shared a common enemy. But to the extent that such collusion existed, one can hardly blame it on Mr. Uribe. The concept of engaging the public in helping to strengthen the state's law-enforcement capabilities is a perfectly defensible strategy. Of course, the guerrillas didn't like it. They suffered major setbacks while Antioquian peasants, farmers, ranchers, banana workers and rural weekenders all enjoyed newfound security.

Mr. Uribe ran for president in 2002 on a promise to defeat organized crime. He has produced impressive results. According to national police statistics, homicides dropped to 17,277 in 2006 from 28,837 in 2002. Kidnappings fell to 687 from 2,883 over the same period and terrorist attacks were cut by more than two-thirds. Since 2002, some 42,000 illegally armed combatants have put down their weapons and 1,342 paramilitary have been killed.

As to charges against his former intelligence chief, based mainly on the testimony of one rather dubious witness, the justice system is working. It is in no need of Mr. Gore's condescending prejudice.

Though Colombia is not yet pacified, voters have confidence in Mr. Uribe. The economy has recovered and the government is working to protect the environment against the degradation caused by coca growers destroying forests and cocaine labs polluting rivers. There is also a special program to provide security for members of labor unions. Mr. Uribe was re-elected last year and today maintains an approval rating of better than 70%.

Mr. Uribe's popularity is a source of much frustration for his adversaries, especially as the FTA -- considered his baby -- gains momentum. Colombians widely favor the deal and it is now sailing through the legislature. Thus the export of the tired, old allegations of human-rights violations from Mr. Petro. How ironic that Colombia's anti-American hard-left, normally obsessed with trashing Uncle Sam, is now rushing to Washington to get help in defeating the will of its own people.

Mr. Uribe will be in Washington this week to meet with members of Congress and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney to make his case for the FTA. In the end, it may turn out that Mr. Gore did him a favor by bringing this subject to the fore. Union activists who don't want any more U.S. free trade agreements have every right to lobby against them. But they should make their case on facts, not on politically motivated and unsubstantiated charges.

Write to O'
27497  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Paul's girl (the Wolfowitz affair) on: April 30, 2007, 11:05:44 AM
The WSJ continues its coverage of this:


Dutch Rub-Out
Wolfowitz and the World Bank's Euro-cabal.

Monday, April 30, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz faces an "ad hoc committee" investigating his alleged ethics violations today, but it seems the committee has reached its conclusions even before he has a chance to defend himself. This fits the pattern of what is ever more clearly a Euro-railroad job.

On Saturday, the Washington Post cited "three senior bank officials" as saying that the committee has "nearly completed a report" concluding that Mr. Wolfowitz "breached ethics rules when he engineered a pay raise for his girlfriend." The Post also reported that, "According to bank officials, the timing of the committee's report and its conclusions have been choreographed for maximum impact in what has become a full-blown campaign to persuade Wolfowitz to go." So there it is from the plotters themselves: Verdict first, trial later.

None of this is surprising when you consider that the "ad hoc committee" is dominated by Europeans who have been leading the campaign to oust Mr. Wolfowitz. Four of the committee's seven members are European, including its Dutch chairman, a Frenchman, Norwegian and Russian. The others hail from Ethiopia, Mexico and China, but the Europeans have the majority and are running this railroad.

The "ad hoc" chairman is Herman Wijffels, a Dutch politician who has his own blatant conflict of interest in the case. One of the main "witnesses" against Mr. Wolfowitz is Ad Melkert, another Dutch politician who had previously run the bank board's ethics committee that advised Mr. Wolfowitz to give the raise to his girlfriend that is now the basis for the accusations against him. Whom do you think Mr. Wijfells is going to side with: His fellow countryman, or an American reviled in Europe for wanting to depose Saddam Hussein?
Mr. Melkert has played an especially craven role by running from his own responsibility in the case. As head of the ethics committee in 2005, he refused to let Mr. Wolfowitz recuse himself from dealings with Shaha Riza, who had been long employed at the bank. Then Mr. Melkert advised him to ensure that Ms. Riza got a new job that included some kind of raise or promotion to compensate for the disruption to her career. Now, however, Mr. Melkert claims he was an innocent bystander who knew nothing about Ms. Riza's raise.

How very European. This is the same Ad Melkert, who on October 24, 2005, after Ms. Riza had been told of her new job and salary, wrote in a letter to Mr. Wolfowitz that "Because the outcome is consistent with the [Ethics] Committee's findings and advice above, the Committee concurs with your view that this matter can be treated as closed."

And it is the same Ad Melkert who absolved Mr. Wolfowitz after inspecting two whistleblower emails from an anonymous "John Smith" that circulated around the bank in early 2006 and charged malfeasance. A January 21 whistleblower email included a reference to Ms. Riza's "salary increase of around US$50,000" and was sent to the entire bank board.

On February 28, 2006, Mr. Melkert wrote to Mr. Wolfowitz, saying that he and the ethics committee had "reviewed two emails from 'John Smith'" as well as relevant "background documents." He went on to write that "On the basis of a careful review of the above-mentioned documents . . . the allegations relating to a matter which had been previously considered by the Committee did not contain new information warranting any further review by the Committee."

Either Mr. Melkert is lying now, or he was negligent when he wrote that letter. But there's no excuse for his current Sgt. Schultz routine from "Hogan's Heroes" that "I know nothing. Nothing!" Mr. Wijffels succeeded Mr. Melkert as the Dutch representative on the bank board, so he has a clear conflict of interest in judging his countryman's abdication. He also has a conflict because he's in a position to protect fellow board members who were also alerted to Ms. Riza's salary by the whistleblower email. Mr. Wijffels should resign from the ad hoc committee and be replaced by someone from outside the bank's Euro-cabal.

By the way, today's "ad hoc" bank meeting is designed to coincide with President Bush's summit with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose bank representative is among the anti-Wolfowitz ringleaders. The hope among the Euro-plotters is that Mr. Bush will bow to the European leaders on Mr. Wolfowitz in return for some other policy concession, and thus encourage him to resign. That would spare the Europeans a difficult bank vote. But it would only make Mr. Bush look even weaker than he already is if another of his appointees can be run out of town on a phony scandal.
Ms. Riza will also get her first hearing today in this kangaroo court, and she ought to blast them for the way the bank has violated its own rules in leaking details of her salary and damaged her career--all in the name of preventing a "conflict" that was no fault of her own. The real disgrace here isn't Mr. Wolfowitz or Ms. Riza but the bank itself and its self-protecting staff and European directors. Their only "ethic" is to oust an American reformer so they can get back to running the foreign aid status quo.

27498  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Die Less Often 2 trailer-- ruff edit on: April 29, 2007, 02:20:56 PM
Night Owl brought me the Fine Edit 1.3  wink yesterday and I will be mailing Gabe's copy to him tomorrow.

NO has done a fine job of editing this down to under two hours.

People have been asking us about the difference between DLO 1 and DLO 2.  I would say that DLO 1 offered an overview of the Interface Paradigm and introduced the Kali Fence and the Dog Catcher in the context of that paradigm.  In this context I did more of the teaching.  In DLO 2 the focus is more on the gun and Gabe does more of the teaching.  He takes Kali footwork intitiated frome the false lead of the Kali Fence and shows how to use it for CQ gunfighting.  He takes us through a drill progression designed to get people to understand during a knife attack when for their particular skill level they are in gun range and when they are in combatives range.  When it is combatives range I show additional understandings of applying the Dog Catcher with a focus on creating angle and distance to enable gun access.

27499  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Interest in a DBMA Class in Redondo Beach? on: April 29, 2007, 02:07:20 PM
This class is establishing itself very nicely cool
27500  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: April 29, 2007, 01:09:16 PM
Speaking only as a civilian Monday morning quarterback:

Respect for her courage in assaying the arrest herself.

Especially in view of the size and strenght disparity I thought that she did not do a good job of getting him spread on the car.  His feet should have been far enough from the car that his hands would be weight bearing and his feet should have been further spread.  Instead of standing behind him, she stands to his side.  There is even a moment at which she places both her hands behind her while he looks at her! 

As for gun retention technique, instinctive or not, I couldn't tell because of how the footage was edited.

The BG was succeeding in turning the gun on her when the unorganized militia man saved her.  Nice assist on the control for the cuffing from the large woman  grin
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