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27551  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison; Federalist 14 on: December 13, 2009, 09:34:50 AM
"Is it not the glory of the people of America, that whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience? To this manly spirit, posterity will be indebted for the possession, and the world for the example of the numerous innovations displayed on the American theatre, in favor of private rights and public happiness." --James Madison, Federalist No. 14
27552  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US shifts position on: December 13, 2009, 09:11:26 AM
This is Pravda on the Hudson writing here about exactly the sort of subject where it can be and often is at its most deceptive, so caveat lector.  That said, I have no knowledge of these issues and cannot tell if this is simply the Obama people desperately giving up things they shouldn't be giving up (e.g. as they are currently doing in nuke negotiations with Russia) or whether there is something actually of merit going on here.  I also note that the article does not mention China, which I understand to see our dependence on things cyper as a weak link in our military capabilities; and that they therefore are sedulously at work on their capabilities to seriously fcuk up our military comm capabilities.  If we are busy keeping an agreement with the Russians, does that leave us more vulnerable to the Chinese?
================================

In Shift, U.S. Talks to Russia on Internet Security Recommend
JOHN MARKOFF and ANDREW E. KRAMER
Published: December 12, 2009
The United States has begun talks with Russia and a United Nations arms control committee about strengthening Internet security and limiting military use of cyberspace.

American and Russian officials have different interpretations of the talks so far, but the mere fact that the United States is participating represents a significant policy shift after years of rejecting Russia’s overtures. Officials familiar with the talks said the Obama administration realized that more nations were developing cyberweapons and that a new approach was needed to blunt an international arms race.

In the last two years, Internet-based attacks on government and corporate computer systems have multiplied to thousands a day. Hackers, usually never identified, have compromised Pentagon computers, stolen industrial secrets and temporarily jammed government and corporate Web sites. President Obama ordered a review of the nation’s Internet security in February and is preparing to name an official to coordinate national policy.

Last month, a delegation led by Gen. Vladislav P. Sherstyuk, a deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council and the former leader of the Russian equivalent of the National Security Agency, met in Washington with representatives from the National Security Council and the Departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security. Officials familiar with these talks said the two sides made progress in bridging divisions that had long separated the countries.

Indeed, two weeks later in Geneva, the United States agreed to discuss cyberwarfare and cybersecurity with representatives of the United Nations committee on disarmament and international security. The United States had previously insisted on addressing those matters in the committee on economic issues.

The Russians have held that the increasing challenges posed by military activities to civilian computer networks can be best dealt with by an international treaty, similar to treaties that have limited the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The United States had resisted, arguing that it was impossible to draw a line between the commercial and military uses of software and hardware.

Now there is a thaw, said people familiar with the discussions.

“In the last months there are more signs of building better cooperation between the U.S. and Russia,” said Veni Markovski, a Washington-based adviser to Bulgaria’s Internet security chief and representative to Russia for the organization that assigns Internet domain names. “These are signs that show the dangers of cybercrime are too big to be neglected.”

Viktor V. Sokolov, deputy director of the Institute of Information Security in Moscow, a policy research group run by General Sherstyuk, said the Russian view was that the American position on Internet security had shifted perceptibly in recent months.

“There is movement,” he said. Before, bilateral negotiations were limited to the relevant Russian police agency, the Bureau of Special Technical Operations, the Internet division of the Ministry of Interior, and the F.B.I.

Mr. Sokolov characterized this new round of discussions as the opening of negotiations between Russia and the United States on a possible disarmament treaty for cyberspace, something Russia has long sought but the United States has resisted.

“The talks took place in a good atmosphere,” he said. “And they agreed to continue this process. There are positive movements.”

A State Department official, who was not authorized to speak about the talks and requested anonymity, disputed the Russian characterization of the American position. While the Russians have continued to focus on treaties that may restrict weapons development, the United States is hoping to use the talks to increase international cooperation in opposing Internet crime. Strengthening defenses against Internet criminals would also strengthen defenses against any military-directed cyberattacks, the United States maintains. An administration official said the United States was seeking common ground with the Russians.

The United Nations discussions are scheduled to resume in New York in January, and the two countries also plan to talk at an annual Russia-sponsored Internet security conference in Garmisch, Germany.

The American interest in reopening discussions shows that the Obama administration, even in absence of a designated Internet security chief, is breaking with the Bush administration, which declined to talk with Russia about issues related to military attacks using the Internet.

Many countries, including the United States, are developing weapons for use on computer networks that are ever more integral to the operations of everything from banks to electrical power systems to government offices. They include “logic bombs” that can be hidden in computers to halt them at crucial times or damage circuitry; “botnets” that can disable or spy on Web sites and networks; or microwave radiation devices that can burn out computer circuits miles away.

The Russians have focused on three related issues, according to American officials involved in the talks that are part of a broader thaw in American-Russian relations known as the "reset" that also include negotiations on a new nuclear disarmament treaty. In addition to continuing efforts to ban offensive cyberweapons, they have insisted on what they describe as an issue of sovereignty calling for a ban on “cyberterrorism.” American officials view the issue differently and describe this as a Russian effort to restrict “politically destabilizing speech.” The Russians have also rejected a portion of the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime that they assert violates their Constitution by permitting foreign law enforcement agencies to conduct Internet searches inside Russian borders.

In late October at a luncheon during a meeting on Security and Counter Terrorism at Moscow State University, General Sherstyuk told a group of American executives that the Russians would never sign the European Cybercrime Treaty as long as it contained the language permitting cross-border searches.
27553  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Palin surprises Shatner on: December 12, 2009, 10:15:46 AM
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2009/12/sarah-palin-conan-obrien-surprise-nbc.html
27554  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTB on: December 12, 2009, 09:45:49 AM
 NEW YORK Judge: Keep funding ACORN A federal judge has ruled the U.S. government's move to cut off funding to ACORN is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon issued the preliminary...
27555  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Health Care Market -- Jonathan Bush on: December 12, 2009, 08:42:00 AM
By JOSEPH RAGO
Watertown, Mass.

'It's a little bit like talking to a young prince," says Jonathan Bush, chairman and CEO of Athenahealth, a major player in information technology services for physicians, of his recent visits to Capitol Hill. "'So—tell me about this market thing that your people use,'" he says, mimicking the political royalty with a grin and extending his forearm. "'Wait: I must catch my falcon!'"

Athenahealth's headquarters, on the banks of the Charles River outside Boston, is a world away from D.C., and it's clear, as he continues his metaphor, that Mr. Bush enjoys the distance: "And these princes, they mean well and they're lovely," he says, "but they're living in this alternate universe where there's no such thing as a market in health care and they don't understand why one might be remotely useful."

He pauses. "That's weird to me."

Mr. Bush is an outlier in the generally buttoned-down world of the health industry. He's exuberant, hyperactive, speaking in frenetic running monologues; it's not hard to see why the political class might be taken aback: "I still have to keep going to Washington and sucking up," he says, switching metaphors. "Because the problem is when you have a baby with an Uzi, right, they might accidentally mow you down. But here's the thing . . . they're brilliant people. It's just that the idea of a market in health care never occurred to them."

As Mr. Bush sees it, the profound problem with U.S. health care is that there's "no landscape of choices, or choosers." Due to the complexity of America's third-party laundromat for health dollars—your doctor's clerical staff bills your treatment to an insurance company picked by your employer, and it pays him with your money via premiums or foregone wages—"few doctors in America know the actual value of the services they render."

Athena's core business helps them manage their practices and get paid, but the larger purpose of the company, which he and board member Todd Park co-founded in 1997, is to try to shore up health care's resemblance to a normal market. It has grown into one of the country's most innovative health IT firms.

Athena began as a San Diego birthing clinic and floundered because it couldn't cope with back-office volatility. All transactions were conducted on paper. No one understood how to navigate the dense and bewildering coding rules for dozens of different insurers or the fee schedules for government payers like Medicaid. Claims were denied with no explanation or vaporized in purgatory. The clinic went bankrupt in 18 months.

With Mr. Park (who has joined the Obama administration), Athena designed a program to digitize records and automate billing. It now colonizes the wilderness of paperwork and habitual financial chaos that defines running a doctors office, and it is also moving into clinical record-keeping for individual patients. Some 15,000 physicians in 43 states use Athena as a virtual office, a number that is growing at an annual 30% clip.

It is a massive logistical undertaking. Athena's main facility is housed in a decommissioned World War II arsenal on the Charles, where 30,000 pounds of paper is processed every month, most of the tonnage being paper checks. Incredibly, doctors also receive on average 1,185 faxes each month—mostly lab results—and those are handled too.

State Medicaid programs, by the way, are easily the worst payers, according to Athena's annual ranking. In New York, for instance, claims must be tendered on a dead-tree form instead of electronically and in blue ink—black is grounds for rejection—and then go on to spend a full 161 days, or almost a half year, in accounts receivable.

View Full Image

Zina Saunders
 .While streamlining this disorder frees up time for the company's clients to treat patients, it also throws off vast data, which are fed in central servers, aggregated and analyzed. This "athenanet" system is among the few health-tech offerings based on "cloud computing"—in the sense that the applications are accessed on the Web, instead of a computer's hard drive, allowing constant updates and refinements. If a regulation changes or an insurer adjusts a payment policy, it is reflected on athenanet almost in real time; on the clinical side, the program can adapt at the same rapid pace as medicine itself.

Mr. Bush thinks the main benefit is the "collective intelligence" that he is starting to weave together from the 87% of American physicians who practice solo or in groups of five doctors or fewer. "We found one of the last few remaining crowds in health care, which are these independent practices. Now you can argue that this decentralization is not the best thing in the world," but what's most important, he argues, is that "they're still allowed to go and make their own decisions."

In effect, as the network gets bigger, it gets smarter, while opening the space for innovations to feed off one another and spread. There really can be "radical improvement" in health care, Mr. Bush says, but only if there are "radical improvers" able to set themselves apart and lead the forward advance. "No one ever says, 'Here's to the average,'" he declares pointedly.

The Athena model is superior to most electronic medical record systems, or EMRs, which are generally based on static software that are inflexible, can't link to other systems, and are sold by large corporate vendors like General Electric. One reason the digital revolution has so far passed over the health sector is sheer bad product. The adoption of EMR in health systems across the country has been dogged by cumbersome interfaces, error propagation and other drawbacks. In 2003, for instance, Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles dumped a $34 million proprietary system after doctors staged a revolt.

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.Athena also stands in marked contrast to most of the wider health-care market, which Mr. Bush argues is homogenized and rigid, and getting more so. The problem is "easily fixed by releasing some power into the arms of consumers and cutting employers and certainly the government out of it," he says, turning to ObamaCare. "Certainly I'm not commenting on the amount of wealth redistribution that we should do as a society. Fundamentally I believe we need some, and whether the amount we're doing today is enough or too much or not enough, that's not my thing. If we feel like rich people should pay more for not-rich people's health insurance, that's fine.

"But just give them the money," he cries. "It's totally inefficient wealth redistribution because they can't get creative with it. They're not allowed by law to get creative with it."

What Mr. Bush means is that the government imposes standardized rules and mandates with no concern for how much they will cost or who will bear the burden. Given the choice, consumers might decide on cheaper policies that cover some services but not others, or decide to run more risk.

Yet for all the talk about expanding coverage, Mr. Bush says the real problem is that "You can't buy what you want." Another way of putting it is that "America will have one car. Everyone will have access to transportation, which means that everyone will have a black Escalade, with spinners. That's it. There's no Hyundais, no bicycles, no nothing."

And it's scandalously unfair. "These poor people who clip the things off the backs of cans to make the tomatoes cheaper are subsidizing the hypochondriac who gets his shoulder done with an arthroscope because it clicks when he serves at tennis."

Under ObamaCare, Mr. Bush says, "everyone is going to get health care according to the wise-men benefit panel, who will tell you exactly what it is, and then they'll run out of money, so every year the wise panel will just squish the benefit a little. People will start to say, well, that's not going to work for me." For this reason he doesn't think central health planning will have any longevity, and eventually people "will start leaking out into the [private] market once we run out of Obama energy."

His company, he thinks, will play an important role in such a world, where individuals would have more responsibility for weighing trade-offs—which, he believes, is the only lasting way to enforce discipline in health spending: "Today it's so complicated that the average consumer—and this is what the academics say—you can't put the average consumer in charge, it's too complicated. Yeah it's too complicated! So let's make it not complicated," he says. Athenanet generates "clean information," the basic price signals about health care that "a regular old consumer could look at and say, 'That's worth it' or 'I'd rather do this one on the other side of Route 128 that does it cheaper.'"

Mr. Bush is less sanguine about the White House cost-control approach of better living through technocracy and "Benthemite micromanagement." As an illustration he singles out the idea of dispensing bonus payments to hospitals that find ways to reduce Medicare spending. If the bonus is higher than what the hospital would have been paid under the status quo, then Medicare is worse off—but if the bonus is less than what the hospital would have earned otherwise, in what sense is it an incentive to change? In other words, "I'm going to give you a dollar bill for every 10-dollar bill you give me?" Mr. Bush asks incredulously.

The irony is that Athena will likely benefit from the Project Mayhem that is about to begin. "It's probably terrible that all this new bureaucracy is being created," Mr. Bush says. "But there's going to be 50 new Medicaid-type plans in these insurance exchanges, run by the same insurance commissioners, these same sort of glazed-over-looking state secretaries of health. You know, just not really the brightest bulbs in the chandeliers of the world. Medicaid, the worst payer in the country by a factor of four! Mother of pearl! So I feel a little bit like a robber baron. I am going to make oil money dealing with them."

The double irony is that Athena—while Mr. Bush might not put it in such an impolitic way, but then again, maybe he would—is also showing that the status quo for all its flaws is capable of organic change and real progress without the blunt-force trauma Congress is likely to inflict. Or in spite of it.

Take the nearly $47 billion in stimulus cash the White House has budgeted to prime the pump for health IT adoption. Mr. Bush says he's glad his industry is getting more attention from the bully pulpit, but that "It is kind of too bad that all these software companies that we're really close to putting out of business, these terrible legacy companies, with code that was written in the '70s, are going to get life support. That's why I call it the Sunny von Bülow bill. What it is, basically, is a federally sponsored sale on old-fashioned software."

"It's designed like a box-buying campaign," he continues. "You get this fixed chunk of money for a few years, you get to pay off your EMR, like its a thing. People in Washington think in terms of things that we'll buy and then they'll be there. Buildings. Roads. Tanks. What Lockheed Martin makes. Things.

"And this isn't that. This is a market: its a set of agreements, it's a language. What's needed is a way of exchanging value and making choices, that's ethical—and, you know, nobody, nobody, not nobody, has said a word about that.

Mr. Rago is a senior editorial page writer at the Journal.
27556  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 300 arrested on: December 12, 2009, 08:30:04 AM

POTH acts as an advocate for BO's illegal immigration policies:


Immigration Officials Arrest 300 in California
By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD
Published: December 11, 2009
LOS ANGELES — Nearly 300 illegal immigrants who had committed serious crimes were deported or detained this week by federal agents in a demonstration of what immigration officials pledged was a new resolve to zero in on the most egregious lawbreakers.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials called the three-day sweep in California their largest operation ever aimed at illegal immigrants with criminal records.

More than 80 percent had convictions for serious or violent crimes and at least 100 have been removed from the country, with the others awaiting deportation proceedings.

John Morton, an assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security who is in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Friday that focusing on serious criminals helped improve public safety.

“These are not people who we want walking our streets,” Mr. Morton said at a news conference here, a day after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made much the same point at a Congressional hearing.

The Department of Homeland Security has been criticized by immigrant advocates and civil libertarians in recent years for rounding up hundreds of people whose only offense was being in the country without proper documents, sometimes at the cost of breaking up families.

President Obama had campaigned on a promise of a more compassionate approach to immigration enforcement that would focus on ridding the country of felons and cracking down on employers who deliberately hire illegal workers.

Mr. Morton, citing limited resources, said, “We are going to focus on those people who choose to pursue a life of crime in the United States rather than pursue the American dream of education, hard work and success.”

Last year, 136,126 illegal immigrants with criminal records were deported, a record number, officials said. While department officials trumpeted the mass arrests this week, they could not say how many serious criminal offenders who are in the country illegally remain on the streets.

The Immigrants’ Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union reacted skeptically to the announcement, noting that despite assurances that serious criminals were the target, previous sweeps have turned out to capture large numbers of people with no such records.

“We would welcome more effective targeting than in the past but it is not yet clear that is the case here,” said Caroline Cincotta, a fellow at the project, who also questioned whether the swift deportations had allowed people to have full due process.

ICE officials said just six of those arrested had no record at all, and they sought to play up the serious nature of the offenses of those who were apprehended.

Those arrested included a Guatemalan man with ties to a Los Angeles gang who had committed first-degree robbery, a Mexican man convicted of lewd acts with a child and a Mexican man with a rape conviction.

Of the 286 people arrested, 63 had previously been deported. At least 17 face prosecution for re-entering the country without proper documents.

The agents and officers tracked down most of those arrested through tips and a review of immigration files, court and public records. Many people arrested this week were never deported after serving prison time for their offenses because they fell through the cracks.

Mr. Morton said the immigration agency was improving cooperation with local and state jailers, and is rolling out a “Secure Communities” program that by 2012 is expected to permit all local jails nationwide to check the immigration status of inmates.

The deportees represented 31 countries, though the majority, 207, were from Mexico.
27557  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: December 12, 2009, 08:22:24 AM
Geothermal Project in California Is Shut Down


By JAMES GLANZ
Published: December 11, 2009
The company in charge of a California project to extract vast amounts of renewable energy from deep, hot bedrock has removed its drill rig and informed federal officials that the government project will be abandoned.


AltaRock Energy has told the Department of Energy it has removed its drill rig, shown above in May, from a Northern California site and abandoned the project. The project by the company, AltaRock Energy, was the Obama administration’s first major test of geothermal energy as a significant alternative to fossil fuels and the project was being financed with federal Department of Energy money at a site about 100 miles north of San Francisco called the Geysers.  But on Friday, the Energy Department said that AltaRock had given notice this week that “it will not be continuing work at the Geysers” as part of the agency’s geothermal development program.

The project’s apparent collapse comes a day after Swiss government officials permanently shut down a similar project in Basel, because of the damaging earthquakes it produced in 2006 and 2007. Taken together, the two setbacks could change the direction of the Obama administration’s geothermal program, which had raised hopes that the earth’s bedrock could be quickly tapped as a clean and almost limitless energy source.

The Energy Department referred other questions about the project’s shutdown to AltaRock, a startup company based in Seattle. Reached by telephone, the company’s chief operations officer, James T. Turner, confirmed that the rig had been removed but said he had not been informed of the notice that the company had given the government. Two other senior company officials did not respond to requests for comment, and it was unclear whether AltaRock might try to restart the project with private money.

In addition to a $6 million grant from the Energy Department, AltaRock had attracted some $30 million in venture capital from high-profile investors like Google, Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

“Some of these startup companies got out in front and convinced some venture capitalists that they were very close to commercial deployment,” said Daniel P. Schrag, a professor of geology and director of the Center for the Environment at Harvard University.

Geothermal enthusiasts asserted that drilling miles into hard rock, as required by the technique, could be done quickly and economically with small improvements in existing methods, Professor Schrag said. “What we’ve discovered is that it’s harder to make those improvements than some people believed,” he added.

In fact, AltaRock immediately ran into snags with its drilling, repeatedly snapping off bits in shallow formations called caprock. The project’s safety was also under review at the Energy Department after federal officials said the company had not been entirely forthcoming about the earthquakes produced in Basel in making the case for the Geysers project.

The results of that review have not yet been announced, but the type of geothermal energy explored in Basel and at the Geysers requires fracturing the bedrock then circulating water through the cracks to produce steam. By its nature, fracturing creates earthquakes, though most of them are small.

On Friday, the Energy Department, which has put some $440 million into its geothermal program this year alone, said that despite the latest developments, it remained confident of the technology’s long-term prospects. Many geothermal methods do not require drilling so deep or fracturing bedrock.

“The Department of Energy believes that geothermal energy holds enormous potential to heat our homes and power our economy while decreasing our carbon pollution,” said Stephanie Mueller, a spokeswoman.

AltaRock has also received some $25 million in federal money for a project in Oregon, and some scientists speculated on Friday that after the spate of problems at the Geysers, the company wanted to focus on a new site.

But the company, whose project at the Geysers was located on land leased from the federal government by the Northern California Power Agency, has held information about its project tightly. Not even the power agency has been informed of AltaRock’s ultimate intentions at the site, said Murray Grande, who is in charge of geothermal facilities for the agency.

“They just probably gave up, but we don’t know,” Mr. Grande said. “We have nothing official from them at all.”

But a resident of the nearby town of Anderson Springs, which is already shaken by quakes generated by less ambitious geothermal projects, reacted with jubilation when told it appeared the new project was ending.

“How I feel is beyond anything that words can express,” said the resident, Jacque Felber, who added that an unnerving quake had rattled her property the night before. “I’m just so relieved, because with this going on, I’m afraid one of these days it’s going to knock my house off the hill.”
27558  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Ed Rothstein on: December 12, 2009, 08:19:04 AM
Exhibition Review | 'The Red Book of C. G. Jung: Creation of a New
Cosmology'
Jung's Inner Universe, Writ Large
By EDWARD ROTHSTEIN
Published: December 11, 2009

We know the archetype; we cherish the myth. The hero, like the world around
him, is in a state of crisis. And in seeking to restore himself and the
shattered cosmos, he valiantly passes through a vale of despair, descending
into darkness. He risks his life and psyche in perilous encounters with
dreams or dragons and finally emerges into the light, spiritually
transformed, ushering in a new age.

From "The Red Book" by C. G. Jung (W. W. Norton & Company), via Rubin Museum
of Art
An image on display in a new exhibition of work by Carl G. Jung at the Rubin
Museum of Art. More Photos »

That restoration may be like Odysseus' epic journey home or like the return
of the Israelites to Canaan. It may be like Siegfried braving his way to the
side of the sleeping Brünnhilde or like ... well, perhaps like the journey
that Carl G. Jung tried to outline in a private chronicle he kept for 16
years that until recently had scarcely been seen by anyone outside the
extended family of his descendants. It's an elaborately designed scripture,
filled with his fantasies and surreal imaginings, known as "The Red Book."
The title is not a metaphorical allusion to blood's primal coloration nor
does it require elaborate symbolic explication. The book really is red, and
you can see it until mid-February, lying open in a glass case in an
exhibition mounted in its honor at the Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea: "The
Red Book of C. G. Jung: Creation of a New Cosmology."

Jung, who by the time he began work on this tome had already broken with
Freud and was developing his mythically suffused conception of the human
psyche, made certain that the book's significance would not be overlooked by
future acolytes. Bound in crimson leather, it is an enormous folio, more
than 600 pages, bearing the formal title "Liber Novus" ("New Book"). Jung
gave it all the trappings of antique authority and stentorian consequence,
presenting it as a Newer New Testament.

He wrote it out himself, using a runic Latin and German calligraphy. Its
opening portion, which begins with quotations from Isaiah and the Gospel
according to John, is inked onto parchment, each section beginning with an
initial illuminated as if by a medieval scribe with a taste for eyes,
castles and scarabs.

The book's accounts of Jung's visions, fantasies and dreams are also
punctuated with his paintings (some of which are on display in the
exhibition), images executed during the years of World War I and the decade
after that now appear as uncanny anticipations of New Age folk art of the
late 20th century. They display abstract, symmetrical floral designs Jung
came to identify as mandalas, along with almost childlike renderings of
flames, trees, dragons and snakes, all in striking, bold colors.

But what is particularly strange about this book is not its pretense or
pomposity but its talismanic power. It was stashed away in a cabinet for
decades by the family, then jealously withheld from scholarly view because
of its supposedly revealing nature. Since being brought into the open,
partly through the efforts of the historian and Jung scholar Sonu Shamdasani
(who is also curator of this exhibition), it has become a sensation.

A meticulously reproduced facsimile, published in October by W. W. Norton &
Company, with detailed footnotes and commentary by Mr. Shamdasani (who also
contributed to the volume's accompanying translation), "The Red Book,"
costing $195, is in its fifth printing.

This modest show, in which the book is supplemented by displays of the
author's notes, sketches and paintings, is now scheduled to travel to the
Hammer Museum in Los Angeles from April to June, and then to the Library of
Congress in Washington.

The book really is a remarkable object, and not just because it so
eccentrically insists on its own significance. It represents Jung's thinking
during a period when he was developing his notion of "archetype" and a
"collective unconscious," positing a substratum of the human mind that
shapes language, image and myth across all cultures. And as he was
developing his ideas about psychological therapy as a form of
self-knowledge, he seemed to have been engaging in just such a
self-analysis: the book provides a bewildering, seemingly uncensored path
into Jung's inner life. Mr. Shamdasani writes, "It is nothing less than the
central book in his oeuvre."

That is something students of Jung's life and work can ponder as they try to
put these gnomic tales into intellectual and biographical context. As Jung
himself warned in an unfinished 1959 epilogue to this unfinished book, "To
the superficial observer, it will appear like madness." Perhaps even to the
nonsuperficial observer.

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

Page 2 of 2)



The narrator is a stand-in for Jung; he splits into multiple parts, engaging
in cryptic dialogue with alternative souls. He is often in the company of a
being named Philemon, an old man with the horns of a bull, a creature, Jung
said, who evolved out of the biblical character Elijah. Philemon is a
 "pagan" who carries with him "an Egypto-Hellenic atmosphere with a Gnostic
coloration."

Nearly every visitation has some such mix of exotico-mythico-primitivo
coloration. One painting on display here shows a centipedesque dragon, its
jaws opened to swallow a yellow ball.
Jung's explanation: "The dragon wants to eat the sun, and the youth
beseeches him not to. But he eats it nevertheless." An inscription goes into
more detail, naming figures in the story without explaining them:
"Atmavictu," "a youthful supporter," "Telesphorus," "evil spirit in some
men."

Confusion about the meaning of it all was apparently shared by Jung, who
transcribed these visions and then reflected on them in streams of
semiconsciousness, invoking death, sacrifice, love and acceptance, sounding
at times like a Greek priestess moaning from the bowels of the earth. He
wanders in the desert, he cries aloud, he eats the liver of a sacrificed
girl, her head "a mash of blood with hair and whitish pieces of bone."

The temptation, after numbingly turning these pages, is to react finally
like the psychiatrist Spielvogel at the end of Philip Roth's "Portnoy's
Complaint," and say: "So. Now vee may perhaps to begin. Yes?" Maybe that was
Jung's reaction too, which is why he abandoned the project in 1930. He
couldn't even complete the epilogue, some 30 years later, breaking off in
midsentence.

Now it may be, of course, that Jung was speaking profoundly in tongues, and
that more devoted souls may stumble on the key to all these mythologies.
Perhaps. Jung himself, after all, was engaged in more compelling systematic
work about the primal forces of the psyche during this period (ideas that
may have also influenced the late speculations of Freud). Yet right now the
lure of the book comes not from within, but from without, not from what it
deciphers, but from what it signals about our own mythological
predilections.

Mr. Shamdasani argues that "the overall theme of the book is how Jung
regains his soul and overcomes the contemporary malaise of spiritual
alienation." And as he points out, Jung undertook his strange project after
a series of apocalyptic visions in 1913 and 1914 that he later believed were
prophesies of an imminent world war. He looked out a window, he said, and
"saw blood, rivers of blood." Jung felt it within himself as well, the
"menace of psychosis."

And so he began this enterprise of self-examination, a ruthless overturning
of the rational Western mind, submerging himself in a pilgrimage through the
pagan land of his own psyche. This project was his belated answer to Freud's
"Interpretation of Dreams," which had also presented itself as the account
of a heroic self-analytical descent into the maelstrom of the unconscious.

We are lured by that archetype still, even if it does not seem to shed the
illumination Jung claimed. Go see this book and the exhibition, though, to
glimpse an extraordinary relic of a particular way of thinking about the
mind and its history. Then, cued by a 13th-century Tibetan mandala here that
Jung owned, go upstairs and see the Rubin's astonishing show of these
ancient Tibetan designs, each enclosing an encyclopedic universe,
encompassing desire, venality, wisdom, ecstasy and passion. Maybe "The Red
Book" deserves a diagnosis: Jung had mandala envy.
27559  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / If POTH is worried , , , on: December 12, 2009, 08:05:28 AM
New Cases Test Optimism on Extremism by U.S. Muslims
 
Sargodha Police Department, via Associated Press
The Americans arrested Wednesday in Pakistan were, from left, Waqar Khan, Ramy Zamzam, Umer Farooq, Ahmed Abdullah Minni, and Aman Hassan Yemer.

By SCOTT SHANE
Published: December 11, 2009

WASHINGTON — As the years passed after Sept. 11, 2001, without another major attack on American soil and with no sign of hidden terrorist cells, many counterterrorism specialists reached a comforting conclusion: Muslims in the United States were not very vulnerable to radicalization.

American Muslims, the reasoning went, were well assimilated in diverse communities with room for advancement. They showed little of the alienation often on display among their European counterparts, let alone attraction to extremist violence.

But with a rash of recent cases in which Americans have been accused of being drawn into terrorist scheming, the rampage at Fort Hood, Tex., last month and now the alarming account of five young Virginia men who went to Pakistan and are suspected of seeking jihad, the notion that the United States has some immunity against homegrown terrorists is coming under new scrutiny.

It is a concern that President Obama noted in passing in his address on the decision to send 30,000 more American troops to Afghanistan, and one that has grown as the Afghan war and the hunt for Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan intensifies.

“These events certainly call the consensus into question,” said Robert S. Leiken, who studies terrorism at the Nixon Center, a Washington policy institute, and wrote the forthcoming book “Europe’s Angry Muslims.”

“The notion of a difference between Europe and United States remains relevant,” Mr. Leiken said. But the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the American operations like drone strikes in Pakistan, are fueling radicalization at home, he said.

“Just the length of U.S. involvement in these countries is provoking more Muslim Americans to react,” Mr. Leiken said.

Concern over the recent cases has profoundly affected Muslim organizations in the United States, which have renewed pledges to campaign against extremist thinking.

“Among leaders, there’s a recognition that there’s a challenge within our community that needs to be addressed,” said Alejandro J. Beutel, government liaison at the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Washington, and main author of a report by the council on radicalization and how to combat it.

Mr. Beutel, a Muslim convert from New Jersey, said the council started a grass-roots counterradicalization effort in 2005, but acknowledged that “for a while it was on the back burner.” He said, “Now we’re going to revive it.”

F.B.I. investigators were in Pakistan on Friday questioning the five Virginia men. But it remained unclear whether the men would be deported to the United States, and whether they had broken any laws in either Pakistan or the United States.

At a news conference Friday at the small Virginia mosque where the men had been youth group regulars, mosque officials expressed bewilderment at claims that the men wanted to join the jihad against American troops in Afghanistan.

“I never observed any extreme behavior from them,” said Mustafa Maryam, who runs the youth group and said he had known the young men since 2006. “They were fun-loving, career-focused children. They had a bright future before them.”

Also at the press briefing, asked about reports that the five men had contacted a Pakistani militant via the Web, Mahdi Bray, the head of the Freedom Foundation of the Muslim American Society, told reporters that YouTube and social networking sites had become a dangerous recruiting tool for militants.

“We are determined not to let religious extremists exploit the vulnerability of our children through this slick, seductive propaganda on the Internet,” said Mr. Bray, who is organizing a youth meeting later this month in Chicago to address the issue.

“Silence in cyberspace is not an option for us,” he said.

The detention of the Virginia men — ranging in age from late teens to mid-20s — would have prompted soul-searching no matter when it occurred. But it comes after a series of disturbing cases that already had terror experts speculating about a trend.

There were the November shootings that took 13 lives at Fort Hood, with murder charges pending against Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an American-born Muslim and an Army psychiatrist.

There was the arrest of Najibullah Zazi, born in Afghanistan but the seeming model of the striving immigrant as a popular coffee vendor in Manhattan, accused of going to Pakistan for explosives training with the intention of attacking in the United States.

There was David Coleman Headley, (why does no one mention his name change from a Muslim name ?) a Pakistani-American living in Chicago, accused of helping plan the killings in Mumbai, India, last year and of plotting attacks in Denmark.

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

Page 2 of 2)



There was Bryant Neal Vinas, a Muslim convert from Long Island who participated in a rocket attack on American troops in Afghanistan and used his knowledge of commuter trains in New York to advise Al Qaeda about potential targets.

There were the Somali-Americans from Minnesota who had traveled to Somalia to join a violent Islamist movement.

And there were cases of would-be terrorists who plotted attacks in Texas, Illinois and North Carolina with conspirators who turned out to be F.B.I. informants.

Bruce Hoffman, who studies terrorism at Georgetown University, said the recent cases only confirmed that it was “myopic” to believe “we could insulate ourselves from the currents affecting young Muslims everywhere else.”

Like many other specialists, Mr. Hoffman pointed to the United States’ combat in Muslim lands as the only obvious spur to many of the recent cases, especially those with a Pakistani connection.

“The longer we’ve been in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said, “the more some susceptible young men are coming to believe that it’s their duty to take up arms to defend their fellow Muslims.”

A few analysts, in fact, argue that Mr. Obama’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan — intended to prevent a terrorist haven there — could backfire.

Robert A. Pape, a University of Chicago political scientist, contends that suicide attacks are almost always prompted by resentment of foreign troops, and that escalation in Afghanistan will fuel more plots.

“This new deployment increases the risk of the next 9/11,” he said. “It will not make this country safer.”

Yet amid the concern about the five Virginia men and the impact of the wars on Muslim opinion, Audrey Kurth Cronin of the National War College in Washington said she found something to take comfort in.

“To me, the most interesting thing about the five guys is that it was their parents that went immediately to the F.B.I.,” she said. “It was members of the American Muslim community that put a stop to whatever those men may have been planning.”
27560  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Default, then rent on: December 11, 2009, 08:01:31 PM
Second post of the day

REAL ESTATE DECEMBER 10, 2009
American Dream 2: Default, Then Rent
By MARK WHITEHOUSE
Interactive graphics:


1) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126040517376983621.html#project%3DRECOVER0912%26articleTabs%3Dinteractive


2) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126040517376983621.html#project%3DSTRATEGIC_DEFAULTS_0912%26articleTabs%3Dinteractive




PALMDALE, Calif. -- Schoolteacher Shana Richey misses the playroom she decorated with Glamour Girl decals for her daughters. Fireman Jay Fernandez misses the custom putting green he installed in his backyard.

But ever since they quit paying their mortgages and walked away from their homes, they've discovered that giving up on the American dream has its benefits.

Both now live on the 3100 block of Club Rancho Drive in Palmdale, where a terrible housing market lets them rent luxurious homes -- one with a pool for the kids, the other with a golf-course view -- for a fraction of their former monthly payments.

"It's just a better life. It really is," says Ms. Richey. Before defaulting on her mortgage, she owed about $230,000 more than the home was worth.

People's increasing willingness to abandon their own piece of America illustrates a paradoxical change wrought by the housing bust: Even as it tarnishes the near-sacred image of home ownership, it might be clearing the way for an economic recovery.

Thanks to a rare confluence of factors -- mortgages that far exceed home values and bargain-basement rents -- a growing number of families are concluding that the new American dream home is a rental.

Some are leaving behind their homes and mortgages right away, while others are simply halting payments until the bank kicks them out. That's freeing up cash to use in other ways.

Ms. Richey's family of five used some of the money to buy season tickets to Disneyland, and plans to take a Carnival cruise to Mexico in March. Mr. Fernandez takes his girlfriend out to dinner more frequently. "We're saving lots of money," Ms. Richey says.

The U.S home-ownership rate has charted its biggest decline in more than two decades, falling to 67.6% as of September from a peak of 69.2% in 2004. And more renters are on the way: Credit firm Experian and consulting firm Oliver Wyman forecast that "strategic defaults" by homeowners who can afford to pay are likely to exceed one million in 2009, more than four times 2007's level.

Stiffing the bank is bad for peoples' credit, and bad for banks. Swelling defaults could also mean more losses for taxpayers through bank bailouts.

Analysts at Deutsche Bank Securities expect 21 million U.S. households to end up owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth by the end of 2010. If one in five of those households defaults, the losses to banks and investors could exceed $400 billion. As a proportion of the economy, that's roughly equivalent to the losses suffered in the savings-and-loan debacle of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The flip side of those losses, though, is massive debt relief that can help offset the pain of rising unemployment and put cash in consumers' pockets.

For the 4.8 million U.S. households that data provider LPS Applied Analytics estimates haven't paid their mortgages in at least three months, the added cash flow could amount to about $5 billion a month -- an injection that in the long term could be worth more than the tax breaks in the Obama administration's economic-stimulus package.

"It's a stealth stimulus," says Christopher Thornberg of Beacon Economics, a consulting firm specializing in real estate and the California economy. "The quicker these people shed their debts, the faster the economy is going to heal and move forward again."

As the stigma of abandoning a mortgage wanes, the Obama administration could face an uphill battle in its effort to keep people in their homes by pressuring banks to cut their mortgage payments. Some analysts argue that's not always the right approach, particularly if it prevents people from shedding onerous debts and starting afresh.

"The effect of these programs is often to lead homeowners to make decisions that are not in their economic best interests," says Brent White, a law professor at the University of Arizona who has studied mortgage defaults.

Few places in the U.S. were better suited to attract true believers in home ownership than Palmdale. A farming community that expanded in the 1950s to accommodate the aerospace industry around nearby Edwards Air Force Base, the city more than doubled its population from 1990 to the present as it became the final frontier for Los Angeles-area workers looking to buy.

About half of Palmdale's 147,000 residents endure a daily commute that can extend to two hours or more one way. In return, they get a homestead in a high-desert locale of haunting beauty, with Joshua trees dotting the landscape, and real-estate developments locked into a master grid of streets with anonymous names such as Avenue O-8 or Avenue M-4.

The 3100 block of Club Rancho Drive, built by Beazer Homes mostly in 2002, captures the essence of Palmdale's appeal. Winding along the southern edge of the Rancho Vista golf course just south of Avenue N-8, its spacious homes, verdant lawns and imported birch and sycamore trees exude a sense of middle-class tranquility.

Club Rancho became a solid community of owner-occupiers, many of whom stretched their finances to the limit. As of the end of 2007, total mortgage debt attached to the 13 houses on the block for which records are available had reached $4.5 million.

Fast-forward to the end of 2009, and the picture changes radically. Thanks to a 50% drop in home prices, at least two owners on the block now owe between $60,000 and $160,000 more on their mortgages than their houses are worth. Four more homes have already passed through foreclosure into the hands of new owners.

In the process, the block's total mortgage debt has fallen 37%, to $2.7 million.

Much of Club Rancho also has converted to rentals, a shift mirrored across Palmdale. Five homes on the 3100 block are now occupied by renters, up from only two in 2007. In the past six months, at least three families have moved into those rentals after walking away from other homes.

Ms. Richey, the teacher, arrived in Palmdale in 1999. In 2004, she and her husband, Timothy, bought a two-story home on Caspian Drive, near Avenue O-8, with a no-down-payment loan. They took pride in the amenities they installed: a powder room with granite countertops, a backyard pool and play area, and the purple-and-turquoise fantasy playroom upstairs for their three daughters.

But the value of the house plunged to less than $200,000 in 2009. Their $430,000 mortgage, with its $3,700 monthly payment, began to look more like an unwanted burden. By May, amid troubles getting tenants for two rental properties she also owned, Ms. Richey decided the time had come to cut a deal with America's Servicing Co., a unit of Wells Fargo & Co. servicing the mortgage on the house.

After three months of wrangling, she says she finally received a modification approval. The new monthly payment: about $3,300, far more than she had hoped. A Wells Fargo spokesman confirmed the bank offered Ms. Richey a modification under the Obama administration's Making Home Affordable program, and said, "The Richeys turned down the lowest payment we could offer."

Ms. Richey and her husband had already been working on Plan B -- exploring the neighborhood's "For Rent" signs.

On one trip, they drove by the house at 3152 Club Rancho Drive. It was bigger than their house on Caspian, had a pool with three waterfalls, and boasted a cascading staircase that Ms. Richey says she could picture her daughters descending on prom night. The rent was $2,195 a month.

The situation presented Ms. Richey with a quandary now facing more than 10 million U.S. homeowners who owe more on their mortgages than their houses are worth.

On one hand, walking away from her home would be easy. California is one of 10 states that largely prevent mortgage lenders from going after the other assets of borrowers who default. But she also had to consider the negatives. Her credit could be tarnished for years and, perhaps most importantly, she feared her friends and neighbors might ostracize her.

"It was scary," she says, noting that people tended to keep such decisions to themselves for fear of being stigmatized. "It's still very hush-hush."

Tom Sobelman, whose family of four lives across the street from Ms. Richey, at 3127 Club Rancho Drive, sees mortgages as a moral as well as financial obligation. He's still paying the mortgage on an investment property he owns nearby, despite the fact that the rent is about $1,000 a month short of covering his costs.

Mr. Sobelman, 37, argues that people who choose to default are unfairly benefiting at the expense of taxpayers, who have put trillions of dollars at risk to bail out struggling banks. "All these people are gaming the system, and I'm paying for it," he says. "My kids are going to be paying it off."

Mr. Sobelman has plenty of company. In a recent study of people who owe more on their mortgages than their houses are worth, economists Luigi Guiso, Paola Sapienza and Luigi Zingales found that about four out of five believe defaulting on a mortgage is morally wrong if one can afford to pay it. But they also found that the people become 82% more likely to say they'll default if they know someone else who defaulted.

Moral or not, the individuals who want to shed their mortgage debts are quickly transforming the Palmdale real-estate market.

Adam Robbins, who runs the local Realty World franchise and manages about 80 properties, says about 90% of his prospective tenants are people in Ms. Richey's situation. So he and other rental managers are loosening rules to accept people who have been through foreclosures.

"Those are all good people," he says. "They just got bad loans or bought at the wrong time."

Ms. Richey and her family made the move to Club Rancho Drive in August, when she was already several months behind on the mortgage. With Mr. Robbins's help, she recently sold the house on Caspian Drive for $195,000, money that the bank will accept to settle the $430,000 mortgage debt. She's also considering walking away from the mortgages on her two rental properties.

Showing a visitor the personal touches in her new home, including a $1,800 dining set she bought with some of her newly available income, she notes the advantages of being a renter rather than an owner.

"You take a risk for the American dream," she says. "I don't have to worry about paying property tax, homeowners' insurance, the landscaping, cleaning the pool or any repairs."

Others on Ms. Richey's block have made similar moves. Mr. Fernandez, the firefighter, moved into 3139 in July, after stopping the $4,800 monthly payments on the home he owned around the corner on Champion Way.

Mr. Fernandez says he made four attempts to modify the larger of the two mortgages on his home, which add up to $423,000. Ultimately, he was offered a monthly payment that, together with back taxes, was higher than what he had been paying. Today he's working to partially reimburse his lenders, IndyMac Bank (now OneWest Bank) and American First Credit Union, by selling the home, which he expects to fetch about $300,000.

A spokeswoman for OneWest Bank said the bank "offered Mr. Fernandez the lowest payment possible under the [Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.] loan modification guidelines." A spokesman for American First said the company always seeks to help clients stay in their homes.

With an income of about $8,300 a month and a rent of $2,200, Mr. Fernandez says he now has the wherewithal to do things he couldn't when he was stretching to pay the mortgage. He recently went to concerts by Rob Thomas and Mat Kearney. He also kept his black BMW 6 Series coupe, which has payments of about $700 a month.

"I don't know if I'll buy another house again, because it's such a huge headache," he says.
27561  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hanukah on: December 11, 2009, 03:33:16 PM
http://www.jewishmag.com/16MAG/BATTLE/battle.htm


Much is known about the miracle of Chanukah and its subsequent impact on Jewish life. However, little is known about the battles that were fought by Judah the Maccabee and his sons. The Maccabean revolt began in 167 BCE and were at a time that there was no organized Jewish force that had engaged in any warfare. Judah the Maccabee used his genius in a manner radically different from his predecessors.

In order to fully understand the genius of Judah the Maccabee, we must understand the state of warfare which was used in those times. Greek and Roman armies were powerful, well trained, well financed, and disciplined. The Jews in that time period were basically farmers, they had lived in relative peace and had not resorted to any form of an army. Yet, after a decree was made that pigs be slaughter, offered to the Greek gods, and eaten, the revolt ensued. Mattisyahu, the Jewish priest was ordered to perform this sacrifice and to eat from the pig. Instead, with fury, he and his sons slew the Jewish traitors (who supported the Greeks) and Greek unit that had come to enforce the decree against the Jews. The Jews took refuge in the hills and mountain sides of the Modiin region, some 25 miles distant from Jerusalem. There a small group, estimated at 200 organized as a guerrilla group.

This small group reaffirmed the principles of Judaism with willingness to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their G-d. In what they lacked in supplies and training, they made up with there devotion. They worked on strengthening their contacts among the Jewish settlements, maintaining supplies and intelligence gathering. Soon, Judah, the son of Mattisyahu, was designated as the leader.

The Greek army was well trained, well organized and tried in battle. Their ranks were composed of heavy and light infantry, heavy and light cavalry, chariots, elephant units and engines for hurling huge stones. Their weapons included swords, javelins, spears bows, slings and battering rams. The Jews small group had such home made primitive weapons such as the sling and the mace. Here is where Judah’s genius came to even the sides.

The Greeks enjoyed the overwhelming superiority in manpower and arms. However they were trained for battle in a conventional fighting form. The core of the Greek army was the tactical infantry formation, a group of soldiers drawn up in close order. The troops advanced towards the enemy in a tight mass. The men in each rank shoulder to shoulder and close on the heels of the rank in front. This company comprised of some 250 men. They would march toward the enemy in close quarter with 16 men is each row and sixteen rows. Four such units comprised some one thousand men. This was the smallest fighting group that the Greeks employed.

As the unit approached the enemy force, the first five rows held their spears horizontally towards the enemy. The remaining rows held them vertically. Their large shields protected them from all sides and overhead. All men of that unit were ready to engage the enemy not as independent warriors, but as a tightly knit war machine. The entire unit would press against the enemy once battle was joined. The thundering forward crush, demolished every thing in its path. This infantry unit was protected on the flanks by cavalry and light forces which skirmished before the main forces. Judah saw that to engage the Greeks head on was insane. He realized that that the weakness in this method of warfare was in the cumbersome conventional movement of the organized units. Due to their rigid discipline and the tight internal organization of the warring units, they could not employ the element of surprise. The progress of a marching unit was powerful, yet slow and tedious. When two forces met in battle, both sides were in full view of the other. When battle was enjoined, it was in accordance to certain fixed tactical principles. The concept of using original tactics did not exist.

Judah saw the advantages to be gained from refusing to allow the enemy to dictate the field and style of battle. The Greeks were no match if challenged on flat land in a direct battle during the daylight hours. Yehuda’s strength was in the agility of his men to move quickly, quietly and independently and their desire to prevail. They possessed intimate knowledge of the local terrain therefore attacks could be carried out at night. He therefore chose to utilize the rocky and hilly slopes of the Modiin region, together with the element of surprise.

Judah decided to attack the Greeks as they were marching thought a narrow pass that winds uphill for several miles. With one group who would meet the Greeks head on, Judah split his men into other groups. One group was assigned the task of sealing off the narrow pass to prevent retreat. Two other groups hid on the hill side and waited for the first group to engage in battle. As the Greeks met the surprise attack from the front and directed their attention to the certain slaughter of these renegades, the second group attacked from one side. Turning to ward off this surprise, and as their attention was caught between two sides, they were attacked from the third side. Untrained for battle in a non-orthodox form, they were unaware of the trick that was being unfolded upon them. The Jewish warriors swept down from the sides and decimated the Greek troops. The entire Greek force was totally destroyed. The Jews wasted no time in collecting the enemy’s weapons and equipment.

This surprise victory had electrifying effects on the whole of Israel. The popular support that the Maccabean warriors had enjoyed was increased dramatically. The disgraced Greek army was forced to withdraw. Yet although the Greek army tried several times again to battle the small Jewish army, each time increasing the Greek army, they lost in a most profound manner. Judah’s genius manifest itself in utilizing the natural elements that were given to his side, and by utilizing his natural G-d given talents. He refusing to accept the enemy’s dictation of battle in any mode of conflict. We too, can learn from this, as we must deal with our enemies. We do not have to accept other modes of thought as the given, nor do we have to fight with them in their chosen conventional form (which they choose to use). Rather, we must utilize that natural and native Jewish intelligence which G-d has given us. That, together with our devotion, will help us succeed in all of our battles.
27562  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pat Pulatie article on: December 11, 2009, 03:13:06 PM
http://iamfacingforeclosure.com/blog/2009/12/01/anatomy-of-a-government-abetteded-fraud-why-indymaconewest-always-forecloses/

Interesting article by a friend of mine.

The latest insight on the foreclosure crisis — and help for those in need.
Today is Friday, December 11th, 2009
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Patrick Pulatie is the CEO for Loan Fraud Investigations (LFI). LFI is a Forensic/Predatory Lending Audit company in Antioch CA, and has been doing homeowner audits since Nov 07. LFI works daily with Attorneys throughout California, assisting homeowners in the fight to save their homes. He and Attorneys are constantly developing new strategies to counter foreclosure efforts by lenders.

See All Posts by This Author

Anatomy of a Government-Abetted Fraud: Why Indymac/OneWest Always Forecloses
December 1st, 2009 • Related • Filed Under
Filed Under: Avoid Foreclosure • FDIC • HAMP • IndyMac/OneWest • facing foreclosure • featured • government-abetted fraud
Several times per week, I get phone calls from attorneys. These calls all start out the same. “I am unable to get loan modifications done through a lender. What can I do?” The first question I ask is if the lender is Indymac/One West. Invariably, it is.

I also field the same type of calls from homeowners and from loan modification companies. Everyone is having the problem of Indymac not cooperating with regard to doing loan modifications. Furthermore, if I google the issue or check out loan modification forums, the same is true on the internet.

What is going on with Indymac/One West? Why aren’t they doing loan modifications? This article will try and bring together the known facts for a better understanding of the situation, and discuss what the Indymac situation means for foreclosures in general — and the government’s response to the crisis. First, to understand the situation today, one must have an understanding of the recent history of Indymac.

History
Indymac was a national bank in the U.S. It was insured by the FDIC. On July 11, 2008, Indymac failed and was taken over by the FDIC.

Indymac offered mortgage loans to homeowners. A large number of these loans were Option ARM mortgages using stated income programs. The loans were offered by Indymac retail, and also through Mortgage Bankers would fund the loans and then Indymac would buy them and reimburse the Mortgage Banker. Mortgage Brokers were also invited to the party to sell these loans.

During the height of the Housing Boom, Indymac gave these loans out like a homeowner gives out candy at Halloween. The loans were sold to homeowners by brokers who desired the large rebates that Indymac offered for the loans. The rebates were usually about three points. What is not commonly known is that when the Option ARM was sold to Wall Street, the lender would realize from four to six points, and the three point rebate to the broker was paid from these proceeds. So the lender “pocketed” three points themselves for each loan.

When the loans were sold to Wall Street, they were securitized through a Pooling and Servicing Agreement. This Agreement covered what could happen with the loans, and detailed how all parts of the loan process occurred.

Even though Indymac sold off most loans, they still held a large number of Option ARMs and other loans in their portfolio. As the Housing Crisis developed and deepened, the number of these loans going into default or being foreclosed upon increased dramatically. This reduced cash and reserves available to Indymac for operations.

In July, 2008, the FDIC came in and took over Indymac. The FDIC looked for someone to buy Indymac and after negotiations, sold Indymac to One West Bank.

OneWest Bank and its Sweetheart Deal
OneWest Bank was created on Mar 19, 2009 from the assets of Indymac Bank. It was created solely for the purpose of absorbing Indymac Bank. The principle owners of OneWest Bank include Michael Dell and George Soros. (George was a major supporter of Barack Obama and is also notorious for knocking the UK out of the Euro Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992 by shorting the Pound).

When OneWest took over Indymac, the FDIC and OneWest executed a “Shared-Loss Agreement” covering the sale. This Agreement covered the terms of what the FDIC would reimburse OneWest for any losses from foreclosure on a property. It is at this point that the details get very confusing, so I shall try to  simplify the terms. Some of the major details are:

OneWest would purchase all first mortgages at 70% of the current balance
OneWest would purchase Line of Equity Loans at 58% of the current balance.
In the event of foreclosure, the FDIC would cover from 80%-95% of losses, using the original loan amount, and not the current balance.
How does this translate to the “Real World”? Let us take a hypothetical situation. A homeowner has just lost his home in default. OneWest sells the property. Here are the details of the transaction:

The original loan amount was $500,000. Missed payments and other foreclosure costs bring the amount up to $550,000. At 70%, OneWest bought the loan for $385,000
The home is located in Stockton, CA, so its current value is likely about $185,000 and OneWest sells the home for that amount. Total loss for OneWest is $200,000. But this is not how FDIC determines the loss.
‘FDIC takes the $500,000 and subtracts the $185,000 Purchase Price. Total loss according to the FDIC is $315,000. If the FDIC is covering “ONLY” 80% of the loss, then the FDIC would reimburse OneWest to the tune of $252,000.
Add the $252,000 to the Purchase Price of $185,000, and you have One West recovering $437,000 for an “investment” of $385,000. Therefore, OneWest makes $52,000 in additional income above the actual Purchase Price loan amount after the FDIC reimbursement.
At this point, it becomes readily apparent why OneWest Bank has no intention of conducting loan modifications. Any modification means that OneWest would lose out on all this additional profit.

Note: It is not readily apparent as to whether this agreement applies to loans that IndyMac made and Securitized but still Services today. However, I believe that the Agreement does apply to Securitized loans. In that event, OneWest would make even more money through foreclosure because OneWest would keep the “excess” and not pay it to the investor!

Pooling And Servicing Agreement
When OneWest has been asked about why loan modifications are not being done, they are responding that their Pooling and Servicing Agreements do not allow for loan modifications. Sheila Bair, head of the FDIC has also stated the same. This sounds like a plausible explanation, since few people understand the Pooling and Servicing Agreement.  But…

Parties Involved
Here is the”dirty little secret” regarding Indymac and the Pooling and Servicing Agreement. The parties involved in the Agreement are:

The Sponsor for the Trust was…………Indymac
The Seller for the Trust was……………Indymac
The Depositor for the Trust was………..you guessed it………….Indymac
The Issuing Entity for the Trust was……………….(drumroll)……………….Indymac
The Master Servicer for the Trust was……..once again………Indymac
In other words, Indymac was the only party involved in the Pooling and Servicing Agreement other than the Ratings Agency who rated these loans as `AAA’ products.

To make matters worse, Indymac wrote the Agreement in order to protect itself from liability for these garbage loans. By creating  separate Indymac Corporations — which the Depositor, Sponsor, and other entities were — Indymac created a bankruptcy-remote vehicle that could not come back to them in terms of liability. However, they did not count on certain MBS securities and portfolio loans coming back to bite them and force them under.

Now, the questions become:

If Indymac was responsible for Securitization at every step in the Process, and was responsible for writing the Pooling and Servicing Agreement, can they be held accountable for the loans that they are foreclosing on?
Since Indymac was the Issuing Entity, can they actually modify loans, but refuse to do so because they can make money for OneWest Bank by refusing to do so?
Does Indymac have to “buy back” the loan from the Indymac Trust in order to do a loan modification?
These are questions that I have no answer for. All I know is that at every step of the way, Indymac was involved in the process, and have taken steps to protect themselves from liability for loans that should never have been made.

Loan Modifications
As referred to earlier, the Agreement covers all aspects of the Securitization Process. With respect to Loan Modifications, the Agreement for Indymac INDA Mortgage Loan Trust 2007 – AR5, states on Page S-67:

Certain Modifications and Refinancings

The Servicer may modify any Mortgage Loan at the request of the related mortgagor, provided that the Servicer purchases the Mortgage Loan from the issuing entity immediately preceding the modification.

Page S-12 states the same “policy”:

The servicer is permitted to modify any mortgage loan in lieu of refinancing at the request of the related mortgagor, provided that the servicer purchases the mortgage loan from the issuing entity immediately preceding the modification. In addition, under limited circumstances, the servicer will repurchase certain mortgage loans that experience an early payment default (default in the first three months following origination). See “Servicing of the Mortgage Loans—Certain Modifications and Refinancings” and “Risk Factors—Risks Related To Newly Originated Mortgage Loans and Servicer’s Repurchase Obligation Related to Early Payment Default” in this prospectus supplement.

These sections would appear to suggest that the only way that OneWest could modify the loan would be as a result of buying the loan back from the Issuing Trust. However, there may be an out. Page S-12 also states:

Required Repurchases, Substitutions or Purchases of Mortgage Loans

The seller will make certain representations and warranties relating to the mortgage loans pursuant to the pooling and servicing agreement. If with respect to any mortgage loan any of the representations and warranties are breached in any material respect as of the date made, or an uncured material document defect exists, the seller will be obligated to repurchase or substitute for the mortgage loan as further described in this prospectus supplement under “Description of the Certificates—Representations and Warranties Relating to Mortgage Loans” and “—Delivery of Mortgage Loan Documents .”

The above section may be the key for litigating attorneys to fight Indymac. If fraud or other issues can be raised that will show a violation of the Representations and Warranties, then this could potentially force Indymac to modify the loan.

HAMP
At this point, it becomes important to note that Indymac/OneWest signed aboard with the HAMP program in August 2009. Even though they became a part of the program, they are still refusing to do most loan modifications. Instead, they persist in foreclosing on almost all properties. And even when they say that they are attempting to do loan modifications, they are fulfilling all necessary requirements so that they can foreclose the second that they “decide” the homeowner does not meet HAMP requirements, — which, since they can make more money by foreclosing on the property, meets the HAMP requirements for doing what is in the best interests of the “investor”.

Why did Indymac even sign up for HAMP, if they have no intention of executing loan modifications?  Clearly, just for appearances.

One Final Question
It now becomes incumbent upon me to ask one final question. The Shared-Loss Agreement states the following:

2.1 Shared-Loss Arrangement.

(a) Loss Mitigation and Consideration of Alternatives. For each Shared-Loss Loan in default or for which a default is reasonably foreseeable, the Purchaser shall undertake, or shall use reasonable best efforts to cause third-party servicers to undertake, reasonable and customary loss mitigation efforts in compliance with the Guidelines and Customary Servicing Procedures. The Purchaser shall document its consideration of foreclosure, loan restructuring (if available), charge-off and short-sale (if a short-sale is a viable option and is proposed to the Purchaser) alternatives and shall select the alternative that is reasonably estimated by the Purchaser to result in the least Loss. The Purchaser shall retain all analyses of the considered alternatives and servicing records and allow the Receiver to inspect them upon reasonable notice.

Such agreements are usually considered to be interpreted to the benefit of the homeowner, as with HAMP and other programs. In legalese, it is called “Intent”.

What was the “Intent” of the Shared-Loss Agreement? Was the intent to provide OneWest Bank solely with a profitable incentive to take over Indymac Bank? If so, then OneWest has been truly successful in every manner.

Or was the intent to offer to OneWest Bank a way to be compensated for losses for foreclosures, but with the primary goal to assist homeowners in trouble? If this was the intent, then OneWest has failed miserably in its actions. And if so, could OneWest be actionable by the Federal Government for fraud?

In fact the true “Intent” was to limit losses to the Treasury Department. Each and every loan modification done would save the Treasury, and the tax payer, from 80-95 cents on every dollar.

Since, technically, One West would get 5-20 cents of any savings, it should have been an incentive to use foreclosure alternatives. But the reality is  that the quick turnaround on foreclosure seems to give OneWest a better return. As a result, OneWest appears to simply ignore the intent and just foreclose (as far as I can tell).

So, OneWest’s failure to modify loans may actually amount to fraud on the Treasury and US taxpayers.

Conclusion
I have presented the story of Indymac/OneWest and what is happening today. But the story does not end with OneWest. There are over 50 different lenders and servicers who have Shared-Loss Agreements executed with the FDIC. Each Agreement offers essentially the same terms. Though other Lenders do not appear to be acting as flagrantly as OneWest, they are all still engaging in the same actions.

What is the solution for this problem?

For homeowners individually, the most successes are being achieved by borrowers who are getting knowledgeable attorneys who will not just threaten litigation, but are also willing to act and file the necessary lawsuits. That tends to bring OneWest Bank to the table.
For the country as a whole, and homeowners in mass, the problem must be brought to the attention of your local Congress Critters. You must hold their feet to the fire. They must know that if they do not respond to what OneWest and other lenders are doing, then they are subject to being voted out of their nice and cushy Congressional Offices.
Will this be easy? No way. After all, the lenders have the money and the ears of Congress. But if we do not draw the line here, then
27563  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Shovel ready excrement on: December 11, 2009, 12:10:44 PM
http://coburn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=a28a4590-10ac-4dc1-bd97-df57b39ed872
27564  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson 1801 on: December 11, 2009, 11:14:11 AM
"The steady character of our countrymen is a rock to which we may safely moor; and notwithstanding the efforts of the papers to disseminate early discontents, I expect that a just, dispassionate and steady conduct, will at length rally to a proper system the great body of our country. Unequivocal in principle, reasonable in manner, we shall be able I hope to do a great deal of good to the cause of freedom & harmony." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, 1801
27565  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / End TARP vote-- call now! on: December 11, 2009, 10:53:57 AM
We just learned that the House Republicans are going to force a vote on Friday to end the TARP program, and use all the unspent TARP funds to reduce our national debt.

Please pick up the phone, and urge your representative to support this measure.

To be exact, tell your representative to vote for the motion to recommit on H.R. 4173.

Here's the number for the main switchboard: 202-224-3121.

Or, you can go here to track down your individual representative.

Thanks for all you do.

Sincerely,

Dan Varroney
Chief Operating Officer
American Solutions
27566  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: December 11, 2009, 10:49:53 AM
 cool cool cool
27567  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 11, 2009, 10:28:39 AM
Fascinating article.  It is from Pravda on the Beach (LA Times) so caveat lector.

Note the timidity of US officials, and the appearance of CAIR and Ibrahim Cooper-- in a good light according to POTB.  Also, note that the families appear to have done the right thing.
=================

Reporting from Washington and Islamabad, Pakistan - A close-knit group of five American Muslims from suburban Virginia had been trying to join a militant group in the Al Qaeda stronghold of northwestern Pakistan when they were arrested this week, Pakistani authorities said Thursday.

Laptop computers, maps and extremist literature recovered in a raid on a house owned by the family of one of the five in Sargodha, in eastern Pakistan, suggest that the Americans wanted to train for jihad, or holy war, authorities said.

The young men had communicated with a militant group and may have intended to travel to Miran Shah, in the North Waziristan region dominated by Al Qaeda and the Taliban, authorities said.

"They were definitely planning jihad activity," said Usman Anwar, the top police official in Sargodha. "The planning was almost complete, but we arrested them and their plot has failed."

U.S. authorities were cautious about characterizing the latest in a series of cases in which American Muslims are suspected of seeking to join militant networks.

A U.S. anti-terrorism official said it did not appear that the men had been on the verge of violence.

The men, whose arrests were confirmed by authorities Wednesday, have not been charged with a crime, officials pointed out.

FBI agents based in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, have talked to the men, who were in Pakistani custody, a U.S. official said Thursday.

"I would describe it right now as a fact-finding mission because American citizens have been arrested in a foreign country," said the U.S. official, who requested anonymity because of the continuing investigation. "They are still trying to determine exactly what happened."

Conversations were underway about having the men turned over to the FBI, officials said.

A Pakistani Embassy spokesman in Washington said that on their visa applications, the Americans cited the wedding of a friend and sightseeing as their reasons for visiting Pakistan.

"One cannot say who their connections were, what was their purpose, what they were intending to do," spokesman Nadeem Kiani said.

The men flew into the southern port city of Karachi on Nov. 30, traveled to Lahore on Saturday and then to Sargodha before they were arrested after raising suspicions, Kiani said earlier.

Three of the men seemed emotionally overwhelmed by their arrest, said the anti-terrorism official, citing communications from investigators in Pakistan.

"I think they realized they were in deeper than they thought. They really want to get out of there and come home," said the official, who requested anonymity because the case remains open.

The five men are U.S. citizens of Pakistani, African and Egyptian descent and range in age from 18 to 24.

They worshiped together and lived in a working-class, ethnically mixed area of suburban Alexandria near a retail strip where a Mexican restaurant abuts a Chinese restaurant and an African American hair salon.

Their families became alarmed when the five left Washington for Karachi via London on Nov. 28, officials said.

Relatives found a videotape that depicted scenes of American casualties and a speech by one of the men talking about the need to defend Muslims, officials said.

The worried family members then contacted the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based Muslim group, which set up a meeting with the FBI on Dec. 1, according to Ibrahim Hooper, the group's national communications director.


===========
The U.S. is more cautious, with an official saying the five Muslims from suburban Virginia apparently weren't on the verge of violence. They may be handed over to the FBI.
"To varying degrees [the parents] were upset, devastated and frightened about what they were imagining might be happening," Hooper said. "At that point we had no idea what was going on. We had warning flags that they had possibly gone overseas without their parents."

A U.S. law enforcement official described the families as models of cooperation. In addition to sounding the alarm, they shared their sons' computers and other electronic devices with FBI agents from the Washington field office, the official said.

One urgent avenue of inquiry for U.S. investigators is how the men might have been radicalized and encouraged to go to Pakistan. A U.S. intelligence official said there was no immediate evidence of any U.S.-based accomplices or recruiters.

CAIR leaders said they hoped this case could be a turning point in a sometimes "strained" relationship between American Muslims and the FBI.

"The FBI was unaware of this case and unsure this had taken place," said Nihad Awad, CAIR's executive director. "It shows the importance of partnerships between parents and organizations like CAIR and law enforcement authorities. . . . We see it as a success story."

U.S. anti-terrorism officials said they believe the leader of the detainees is Ramy Zamzam, 22, an Egyptian-born dental student at Howard University. He is a former president of the Muslim Student Assn. in the Washington, D.C., area. Zamzam arrived in the United States at an early age and became a citizen in 1999, officials said.

Another member of the group, Umar Farooq Chaudhry, 24, born in Pakistan and naturalized three years ago, apparently provided a place for them to stay.

Pakistani police said the house where the group was captured in Sargodha belongs to Fahim Farooq, who is Farooq Chaudhry's uncle. But U.S. officials said they believe the house belongs to Farooq Chaudhry's father. The father is in Pakistan and has been trying to help the jailed men, the U.S. anti-terrorism official said.

The other men were all born in the United States, U.S. officials said. Pakistani American Waqar Khan, 22, is the only one with a criminal record, the anti-terrorism official said. In 2006, he was convicted of misdemeanor embezzlement and received a 12-month suspended sentence, the official said.

Amin Yemer, 18, is of Ethiopian descent and lived for a time in Seattle, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials. Ahmad Minni, 20, is apparently the son of Ethiopian immigrants, a Pakistani official said.

The group lived in modest houses, townhomes and apartments within a few blocks of one another. They were apparently roommates at different points, officials said.

Hooper, of CAIR, said the council was exploring the Internet as a prime source of extremist viewpoints that may have helped radicalize the men.

"That's why," he said, "we're putting together, over the next few weeks, a nationwide campaign challenging religious extremism and offering a mainstream viewpoint."

rotella@latimes.com
27568  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: December 11, 2009, 10:14:21 AM
I was surprised at how little answer he had to kicks on his front leg.   

Also, my eyesight is not what it used to be, but does the man have completely fallen arches?
27569  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Pre-order form! on: December 10, 2009, 05:34:12 PM


http://dogbrothers.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=39&products_id=151
27570  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: DBMA para Policia on: December 10, 2009, 12:10:50 PM

"Die Less Often 3"
featuring Guro Crafty Dog
assisted by Poi Dog
$40

In the triple disc "Die Less Often"
http://www.dogbrothers.com/pages/multimedia.html
we began sharing our take on "the Interface of Gun, Knife, and Empty Hand".    We introduced threat management, "the Kali Fence", weapon access issues, pre-emption/interception tactics and techniques, reactive techniques ("the Dog Catcher"),  and tested them all full force in Force-on-Force drills using people who had trained in the material for only a day and a half in order to show that the material had a practical primal state foundation that could be installed to good effect in remarkably short order.

In DLO 2,
http://www.dogbrothers.com/pages/multimedia.html
the focus shifted to accessing a gun during a knife attack.  Here the focus discerning whether one needed to deal with the knife attack before accessing the gun, or whether to use range control, angle, and certain footwork to go for the gun before the knife attack arrived.  Again, this was tested in Force-on-Force drills.

Having shown dynamic testing of the fundamentals structures, in DLO 3 we turn to a deeper study of the particulars of managing unknown contacts/threat management, the Kali Fence, the angular brachial stun, how to start the fight by getting to your intended attacker's back while denying/controlling his potential for weapon access, weapon neutralization, (capture, disarm, and/or receiver grip) and much more.

DLO 1 showed the big picture of some material we think to be pretty sharp and really practical -- now DLO 3 gives the little details and fill in your matrix of options that deepen your understanding and raise your ability to apply the material in ever more challenging situations. 

If you are in the military and dealing with potential hostiles up close, in law enforcement, corrections work, security work, door work, or if you simply want to have these understanding for yourself as you "walk as a warrior for all your days".

27571  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Description on: December 10, 2009, 11:48:33 AM
Well , , , maybe later today embarassed cheesy

Anyway, here's this:

"Die Less Often 3"
featuring Guro Crafty Dog
assisted by Poi Dog
$40

In the triple disc "Die Less Often" we began sharing our take on "the Interface of Gun, Knife, and Empty Hand".    We introduced threat management, "the Kali Fence", weapon access issues, pre-emption/interception tactics and techniques, reactive techniques ("the Dog Catcher"),  and tested them all full force in Force-on-Force drills using people who had trained in the material for only a day and a half in order to show that the material had a practical primal state foundation that could be installed to good effect in remarkably short order.

In DLO 2, the focus shifted to accessing a gun during a knife attack.  Here the focus discerning whether one needed to deal with the knife attack before accessing the gun, or whether to use range control, angle, and certain footwork to go for the gun before the knife attack arrived.  Again, this was tested in Force-on-Force drills.

Having shown dynamic testing of the fundamentals structures, in DLO 3 we turn to a deeper study of the particulars of managing unknown contacts/threat management, the Kali Fence, the angular brachial stun, how to start the fight by getting to your intended attacker's back while denying/controlling his potential for weapon access, weapon neutralization, (capture, disarm, and/or receiver grip) and much more.

DLO 1 showed the big picture of some material we think to be pretty sharp and really practical -- now DLO 3 gives the little details and fill in your matrix of options that deepen your understanding and raise your ability to apply the material in ever more challenging situations. 

If you are in the military and dealing with potential hostiles up close, in law enforcement, corrections work, security work, door work, or if you simply want to have these understanding for yourself as you "walk as a warrior for all your days".
27572  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Iran's Democratic Moment on: December 10, 2009, 11:12:02 AM

By AMIR TAHERI
A month ago, Gen. Muhammad-Ali Aziz Jaafari, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, vowed to stop further antiregime demonstrations in Iran and break what he termed "this chain of conspiracies." But this week the "chain" appeared to be as strong as ever: Students across the nation defied the general and his political masters by organizing numerous demonstrations on and off campus.

The various opposition groups that constitute the pro-democracy movement have already called for another series of demonstrations on Dec. 27, a holy day on the Muslim Shiite calendar. Meanwhile, the official calendar of the Islamic Republic includes 22 days during which the regime organizes massive public demonstrations to flex its muscles. Since the controversial presidential election last June, the pro-democracy movement, in a jujitsu-style move, has used the official days to undermine the regime.

View Full Image

Getty Images
 
Antigovernment demonstrators at Tehran University, Dec. 7.
.On Jerusalem Day, Sept. 18, officially intended to express anti-Semitism, the opposition showed that Iranians have no hostility toward Jews or Israel. One popular slogan was "Neither Hamas nor Hezbollah! I give my life for Iran!" Another was "Forget about Palestine! Think about our Iran!"

On Nov. 4, the anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979, the opposition distanced itself from the regime's anti-American rhetoric. The democrats instead expressed anger against Russia and China, which are perceived as allies of the Islamic Republic. One slogan was "The Russian Embassy is a nest of spies!"

Most significantly, the movement that started as a protest against the alleged rigging of the election that gave a second term to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been evolving. The crowds' initial slogan was "Where Is My Vote?" and the movement's accidental leaders, including former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, tried hard to keep the protest confined to demands such as a recount of the votes and, ultimately, a runoff in accordance with the law.

The slogans of the protestors are no longer about election fraud. Today they include "Death to the Dictator," "Freedom Now," and "Iranian Republic, Not Islamic Republic!" One slogan is a direct message to President Barack Obama: "Obama, Are You With Us or With Them?"

OpinionJournal Related Stories:
Mark Bowden: How Iran's Revolution Was Hijacked
Akbar Atri and Mariam Memarsadeghi: The President Snubs Iran's Democrats
James Shinn: 'NATO Has the Watches, We Have the Time'
.In short, the protestors no longer regard the present regime as the legitimate government of the country.

Both Mr. Mousavi and Ayatollah Mahdi Karroubi, another defeated presidential candidate, tried to prevent attacks on the "Supreme Guide" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the hope of eventually making a deal with him. As part of such a deal, they promised to defend the Islamic Republic's nuclear program, according to sources close to the opposition. The crowds have rejected that by shouting: "Abandon uranium enrichment! Do something about the poor!"

It is clear the democracy movement is in no mood for deals with Mr. Khamenei, who they castigate for having betrayed his constitutional role of arbiter by siding with Mr. Ahmadinejad even before the official results of the election were declared. The demonstrators now burn his effigies, tear up posters showing his image, and chant violent slogans against him. One popular slogan goes: "Khamenei is a murderer! His guardianship is invalid!"

By cracking down ruthlessly on the protestors, the regime has only radicalized the movement. Even such notorious dealmakers as Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president now opposed to Mr. Ahmadinejad, have made it clear they would not accept any formula that would leave the "landslide winner" in place.

Last week, Mr. Rafsanjani refused to attend a much-publicized "reconciliation event" concocted by Ali Ardeshir Larijani, the speaker of Iran's ersatz parliament. The reason? Mr. Rafsanjani did not wish to be seen under the same roof as Mr. Ahmadinejad. Later, in a speech in Mash'had, Mr. Rafsanjani spoke of the regime's "long, deep and, potentially lethal crisis."

To judge by their most popular slogans, demonstrators across Iran are bent on regime change. Even rumors that the regime is working on scenarios for ditching Mr. Ahmadinejad—ostensibly on "health grounds"—after the Iranian New Year in March, have failed to halt the spread of regime-change sentiments.

Given the nation's mood, Messrs. Mousavi and Karroubi have abandoned their earlier talk of "realizing the full potentials of the existing constitution." An adviser to Mr. Mousavi tells me that "They wanted to make an omelet without breaking eggs. They now realize that [the people] have moved faster than imagined." More significantly, perhaps, Mr. Mousavi appears to have put his plans for an ill-defined "green organization" on the backburner. He is beginning to understand that the antiregime movement is too wide to fit into a centrally controlled framework.

Over the past six months, thousands of people have been arrested and hundreds killed in the streets. And yet, despite promises to squash the movement by Gen. Jaafari, it persists. To make matters worse for the regime, the Shiite clergy, often regarded as the backbone of the Islamic Republic, is beginning to distance itself from the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad tandem. Some ayatollahs, such as Messrs. Montazeri, Bayat, San'ei, Borujerdi and Zanjani, are especially annoyed at Mr. Ahmadinejad's claim of being in contact with the "Hidden Imam"—a messiah-like figure of Shiism whose second coming is supposed to occur at the end of times.

Mr. Ahmadinejad claims that the "return" is imminent and that he, as one of the "pegs" designated by the Hidden Imam to prepare the ground for the advent, has a mission of chasing the "Infidel" out of Muslim lands and liberating Palestine from "Zionist occupiers." In a speech in Isfahan last week, Mr. Ahmadinejad claimed that the pro-democracy movement was created by the Americans to sabotage his mission and thus prevent the return of the "Hidden Imam."

In response, a mid-ranking cleric in Qom tells me: "The way Ahmadinejad talks, he must be a sick man . . . by backing such a man, Khamenei has doomed the regime."

The Ahmadinejad-Khamenei tandem is also coming under attack for its alleged incompetence. The regime is now plagued by double-digit inflation, a massive flight of capital, and unprecedented levels of unemployment. Divisions within the ruling clique mean that the president has been unable to fill scores of key posts at middle levels of government. Rapidly losing its popular base, the regime is becoming increasingly dependent on its coercive forces, especially the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

Revolutionary Guard commanders appear on TV almost every night, presenting themselves as "guardians of the system." Gen. Jaafari himself says he is attracted by the "Turkish model" in which the army acts as a bulwark of the republic.

However, the general may not have all the time in the world to ponder his next move. The pro-democracy movement is deepening and growing. Much work is under way to connect it to independent trade unions and hundreds of formal and informal associations that lead the civil society's fight against the evil of the Islamic Republic.

Iran has entered one of those hinge moments in history. What is certain is that the status quo has become untenable.

Mr. Taheri's new book, "The Persian Night: Iran Under the Khomeinist Revolution," is published by Encounter Books.
27573  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Recruit levels responsive to pay raise on: December 10, 2009, 10:50:40 AM
December 10, 2009

Recruits Pour In After Afghan Army Offers a Raise

By ELISABETH BUMILLER
KABUL, Afghanistan


The American commander in charge of training the Afghan security forces said Wednesday that there had been a recent wave of recruits for the Afghan Army, most likely because of a pay increase that he said put salaries close to those of Taliban fighters.

The commander, Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, said that an Afghan soldier in a high-combat area like Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan would now make a starting salary of $240 a month, up from $180. General Caldwell said that the Taliban often paid insurgents $250 to $300 a month.

The Afghan Army pay increase was announced 10 days ago, General Caldwell said. In the first seven days of December, more than 2,600 Afghans signed up — a striking change, he said, from September, when there were 831 Afghans recruits for the entire month, or November, when there were 4,303 recruits.

General Caldwell was at Camp Eggers in Kabul, the headquarters of the American effort to train the Afghans. He was speaking to reporters traveling with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who was on his second day of a trip to Afghanistan focusing in part on Afghan training.

General Caldwell acknowledged the serious difficulties ahead in training the Afghan security forces, which the United States hopes to increase in size — from nearly 192,000 to as high as 282,000 — as well as in efficiency before President Obama’s goal of beginning to withdraw American troops in July 2011. The obstacles were outlined in a recent series of internal administration reviews that describe the Afghan Army and police as largely illiterate, often corrupt and poorly led.

However, other responsibilities will linger: on Tuesday, President Hamid Karzai said Afghanistan would not be able to pay for its own security until at least 2024.

General Caldwell expressed cautious optimism over the new recruiting.

“Seven days doesn’t prove anything yet, but it’s a positive step,” he said, adding, “I would never make the leap to say, ‘Therefore we’re going to fix this.’ ” Later, he said that success in Afghanistan would require far more than military might, and that “we’ll never kill our way to victory.” ....... "

The article continues with current rehash etc

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/10/wo...ef=global-home

27574  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Unified Kurdish Army? on: December 10, 2009, 10:26:44 AM
Summary
Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani has announced his intention to establish a unified Kurdish army in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region. Combining Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan forces will not be an easy task, but Iraq’s Kurdish leaders have a strategic imperative to band together in dealing with their Arab rivals in the Iraqi central government. The Kurdish proposal signals a potential revival of militia building in Iraq, which carries significant implications for the U.S. exit strategy.

Analysis
As sectarian tensions flare ahead of Iraq’s parliamentary elections in early 2010, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the north has announced plans to build its own army. KRG President Massoud Barzani said Nov. 22 that he intends to establish a unified Kurdish army in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region by outlawing the areas’ private militias (peshmerga) and bringing them under the direct jurisdiction of the Ministry of Peshmerga. The KRG leaders hope this initiative will mend a political rift within Iraqi Kurdistan and give the KRG more strength in battling its Arab rivals in Iraq’s central government.





(Click here to read a STRATFOR translation of the proposed law taken from the Kurdistan National Assembly’s Web site)
Iraq’s Kurds inhabit a mountainous region in the country’s north. While this terrain has protected them from foreign invasion, it has also nurtured deep-seated tribal rivalries. These rivalries are so strong that Kurds have often sided with a common enemy (like Iran, Turkey or Baathist Iraq) to undermine each other. However, in 2003, rivals Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) put aside their differences and formed a unified regional government to represent Kurdish interests in Iraq’s post-Saddam Hussein government. The alliance has remained intact through a series of formal agreements that have roughly divided power between the parties.

Barzani is hoping the creation of a unified army will consolidate the KDP and PUK and insure the integrity of their alliance. Barzani saw the alliance threatened most recently in July, in the Kurdish provincial election, with the rise of the Goran (“Change”) party. Goran — which campaigned on an anti-corruption, reformist platform — did particularly well in the PUK’s stronghold in Iraqi Kurdistan’s east, claiming 25 parliamentary seats and winning nearly a quarter of the popular vote.

The erosion of PUK’s power has become obvious. Already Jalal Talabani, head of the PUK, has acquiesced to several KDP demands. For example, the KDP has held the KRG’s premiership since 2005 when, according to the KDP-PUK agreement, it should have relinquished control of the post in 2007. However, the KDP does not want to see the PUK deteriorate any further. The KDP is aware of the PUK’s fragile unity, especially following the political turmoil the PUK experienced in the past year, and is concerned that any further weakening will exacerbate existing fissures and splinter the group. Barzani is loath to see a political vacuum develop in the north — especially one that might be filled by Goran, whose demands for a more transparent government and the establishment of the rule of law directly challenge the delicate power balance between the KDP and PUK.

Barzani’s bid to consolidate peshmerga forces is also a direct response to the Kurds’ uncertain relationship with its neighbors. The KRG’s relationship with Baghdad has deteriorated significantly in recent months. As the presence of U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq diminishes, and as the country readies itself for its second post-Hussein parliamentary elections early next year, the nation’s ethno-sectarian tensions have started bubbling to the surface again. In November, Barzani announced that the Kurds will boycott the upcoming election unless the election laws are amended to increase Kurdish representation in the national parliament. Furthermore, Iraq’s upcoming round of oil auctions has reignited the debate over the distribution of oil revenues from Iraq’s northern fields (the Iraqi central government’s November statement that it would not honor oil contracts signed by the KRG is an example of the strife over oil revenues).

Not only is Baghdad working to contain Iraqi Kurdistan’s economic gains, it also does not want to see the region gain influence in security issues. Starting in 2005, Iraq’s central government, with a strong push from the United States, half-heartedly announced several steps to heal the country’s ethno-sectarian wounds by integrating Kurdish and Sunni militias into the Shiite-dominated army and police force. The plan, however, has not been fully realized. Kurds currently compose 7.2 percent of the Iraqi army, well below the 18-20 percent mandated by the country’s constitution. Nearly 200,000 peshmerga have yet to be integrated into the Iraqi army. Furthermore, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s announcement in November that he would prioritize reconstruction over security could provide him the cover to impede the integration of Kurdish and Sunni forces into the country’s military and maintain the Shiite’s dominance of the army. Baghdad has also dragged its feet on its promise to create two Kurdish brigades in the KRG and recently shut down two military colleges located in the Zakho and Qalachwalan districts in the Kurdistan region.

The slow progress is in no small part due to the Shiite-dominated government’s reluctance to share its security responsibilities with its ethno-sectarian rivals, but the Kurdish leadership is just as wary of relinquishing control of its entire security apparatus to the central government. The KDP and PUK each control about 100,000 peshmerga. Iraq’s army currently numbers just under 260,000 soldiers. If the PUK and KDP can work out their internal differences to create an umbrella group, the Kurds will be able to better resist their Arab rivals in Baghdad, not to mention the Kurds’ array of external rivals in Turkey, Iran and Syria.

While the idea for a unified Kurdish army came from the KDP, the PUK will control the Ministry of Peshmerga — an indication that the plan enjoys at least some high-level support from both parties. However, implementing the plan will be difficult. The KDP and the PUK each control their own police, security and intelligence peshmerga, and it is uncertain how effectively the Ministry of Peshmerga can streamline its operations and overcome substantial issues of distrust. Also, the KRG, which is running a budget deficit of more than $500,000,000 according to some reports, will be hard-pressed to find funding for this plan: The estimated cost of funding a Kurdish army is more than $100 million a month. The KRG’s prime minister and Iraq’s finance minister met Dec. 8 to discuss a host of financial issues, but given the tensions between the KRG and the Iraqi central government, Baghdad is not likely to be willing to bail out the KRG.

The KRG’s proposal that would legalize the plan for a unified army notably specifies that this force will “defend Kurdistan and protect the security of Kurdistan-Iraq, its soil, and the Kurdish people and law.” In previous bills, the KRG has referred to its jurisdiction as “Iraqi Kurdistan.” The shift to “Kurdistan-Iraq” signifies that the Kurds’ ambitions have become more nationalistic. This type of rhetoric is bound to worry Baghdad as well as Turkey, Iran and Syria, all of whom have significant Kurdish populations.

With ethno-sectarian tensions reaching a fever pitch, Iraq’s rival factions can be expected to rely more heavily on their traditional insurance policy: private militias. As the Shiite-dominated government continues to block the integration of its rivals into the security apparatus, the Kurds are unifying their peshmerga while many of Iraq’s Sunnis continue to use the threat of an insurgency as leverage in getting their demands met. Should Iraq witness a resurgence of private militias amidst rising ethno-sectarian tensions, the U.S. exit strategy for Iraq could face serious complications.
27575  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: December 10, 2009, 10:22:37 AM
Any comments on Kimbo in TUF this past season?
27576  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: December 10, 2009, 10:00:18 AM
Grateful to have seen yesterday a very good friend for the first time in a long time.
27577  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA DVD: "The Bolo Game" on: December 10, 2009, 09:59:15 AM
Looking forward to my next trip there Pau. smiley
27578  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Other solutions , , , on: December 10, 2009, 09:57:42 AM
Some correspondence amongst friends:
========================

One very easy solution to this type of problem is to change the tax laws. Take away the huge incentive for everyone to get their insurance from their employer, and people would end up getting their own policies from day one. They could keep these policies forever, as long as they paid for them. Nobody would lose his coverage because he or she lost his job. You could even buy insurance against losing your job, so that your insurance premium would still be paid. There is absolutely no reason I can see for the US government to reorganize the entire healthcare system in order to address the problems that a relatively small number of people like this have.

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

Yes, yes, yes.


And given this kind of freedom, people would tend to actually buy "insurance" -- protection against catastrophic medical bills -- instead of prepaid medical plans. With people actually paying for their own routine health care, they would take an interest in the cost of diagnostic medicine and many of today's abuses would disappear.
===========================

Your similar suggestions -- to focus on the insurance portion of an extended equation -- is a good first step... but only that, a first step.


Look there is so much (what's the word I want here: collusion? No, too emotional. Games-playing? How about...) linkage between vendors: insurance companies, doctors, government, and employers. Whether the issue is capitation counts (gee, tell me again why the doctor fails to respect MY time), balance billing, negotiated prices, the bottom line (pun intended) falls to that constituency left out of the loop: patients (consumers).


Some additional steps to your first step:
1) Abolish the AMA. Its primary purpose (though it will claim otherwise) is to limit the number of doctors and thus drive up, or provide a floor, on doctors' pricing. Let the winds of competition flow through that guild.
2) Reform the tort laws. However, make transparent (public) claims against the doctor for malpractice, whether arbitrated, mediated, or heard in a court.
3) Doctors MUST provide transparent pricing. Place prominently a placard that betrays prices for many common procedures. (No different from pricing at auto repair shops -- even though that is a sham.)
4) End the cozy relationship between the ethical and proprietary drug manufacturers and doctors. Really, how many scandals can one profession endure before consumers cry, "Enough!" (Well, apart from the Catholic church. smiley


Some flesh on my bullet points:
Patient A requires a procedure. Dr charges $1,000. Patient A has insurance so he or she pays a co-pay, insurance company pays its portion of a negotiated amount between, simplistically, Dr A and the insurance company. Balance is either billed to patient or 'eaten' by Dr A.  We all are savvy to the fact that in any 'negotiation' you inflate your price to settle on a lower, perhaps more realistic charge, and everyone leaves the table happy: doctor, insurance company, and consumer... Right? Now consider Patient B, who requires the same procedure, but because he lacks insurance he must pay 100% of the Dr's inflated $1,000 fee. Hmmm. I understand that volume offers discounted pricing, but the assessed cost is not a true cost; instead it is a sham between doctor and insurance company as opening offer in a negotiation. Even so, this result on its face sure argues for single payer as one option among many.


A patient requires a procedure. His Dr says the cost will be $1,800, but his insurance company will cover only 100% of the first $1,000. Patient is thus on the hook for a balance of $800. With competition comes greater transparency; in such a universe, patients could open his procedure to bids, best price wins. Of course, the doctors (AMA) will warn that quality trumps price... but those same doctors will not, and do not, provide quality ratings in their performance. Why not? Patients (consumers) should trust doctors are well-trained and professional. But, then, why so many malpractice claims...?


I am no fan of the medical-industrial complex (to paraphrase Eisenhower); I make no secret of my feelings in this regard. Whether the issue be the drug manufacturers that hide study results (Vytorin or Zetia, anyone?), doctors who offer zero transparency re their practice and pricing, employers who tweak their company plan to make it affordable (seemingly affordable; most employees -- consumers! -- look only at price and not the lessened coverages, etc, that result from the tweaks and/or the or insurance companies that deny coverage for this or that reason (examples on request), seemingly arbitrarily that smacks of capriciousness.


The oddity for me is that I invest heavily in this sector, especially medical technology, despite my disgust. One of my most profitable positions was/is Intuitive Surgical/ISRG. I ask myself, though, whether in the world I hope for -- complete transparency for and by all constituencies-- such a company would even exist. Oh well, that is not a problem I will ever have to worry about.

27579  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hockey sticks everywhere on: December 10, 2009, 09:51:36 AM
Hockey stick?  No, hockey sticks!

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/09/hockey-stick-observed-in-noaa-ice-core-data/#more-13939
27580  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: December 10, 2009, 09:10:40 AM
"Finding Out The Hard Way (tm) is usually too expensive."

What's up with the (tm) on a common phrase?
27581  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison; Federalist 14 on: December 10, 2009, 09:09:10 AM
"Is it not the glory of the people of America, that whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience? To this manly spirit, posterity will be indebted for the possession, and the world for the example of the numerous innovations displayed on the American theatre, in favor of private rights and public happiness." --James Madison, Federalist No. 14
27582  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA DVD: "The Bolo Game" on: December 09, 2009, 10:39:12 PM
Hat tip to Night Owl for his astute good eye with the boxing footage.

"Roger Tinkoff suggests "Female-American Slap" as the modern American euphemism."

Please tell him that is the most wickedly funny thing I have heard in a long, long time. cheesy cool
27583  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm) Training Camp Feb 6-7 on: December 09, 2009, 02:39:34 PM
"Hi Marc. I was curious as to what demographic you are looking for to attend this camp. Will this be a more beginner-intermediate class for those with some to moderate martial arts experience or is it geared more for those with substantial experience? Thanks for any information."

"If past experience is any guide, we will be a varied group.  There will be some young studs, there will be some middle-aged farts looking for some crafty outside of the box stuff to use on the young studs back at home, and there will be some martial arts types looking for "portals into the magical dimension where martial arts and crafts actually work" (c DBI)"
27584  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB in the media on: December 09, 2009, 11:30:15 AM
I am told this is an article of us in a Japanese magazine, but I can't see diddly:

http://www.fnlweb.com/blog/2009/10/fightlife1023.php

Help?
27585  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More Taliban attacks on ISI on: December 09, 2009, 10:31:57 AM
Stratfor

Summary

Pakistan’s premier intelligence service was once again a Taliban target, this time in an attack Dec. 8 in the city of Multan in southern Punjab province. This latest attack comes on the heels of several others in Pakistan’s heartland, highlighting an intensification of the jihadist insurgency in the Punjab core. Unless the state is able to achieve a major breakthrough in its counterinsurgency, such attacks could spread even further south to the urban areas of Sindh province.

Analysis
Yet another multi-man assault team of the Taliban rebel group Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) struck a facility of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate Dec. 8, killing 12 people and wounding 47 others in the city of Multan, in the southern part of Punjab province. In keeping with TTP’s hybrid tactic of combining suicide bombings with small arms fire, as many as four militants reached a security post and fired rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles at the ISI facility, then got close enough to detonate a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, which badly damaged the building.

This is the third attack against an ISI facility in the last six months — all intended to show the vulnerability of the country’s most powerful security agency, which is expected to be the front line of defense against internal and external enemies of the state. On Nov. 12, a suicide bomber in a vehicle blew himself up near ISI’s provincial headquarters in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) in Peshawar, destroying a large part of the building. The most brazen attack against the ISI occurred on May 27, when the Taliban struck the directorate’s much larger Punjab provincial headquarters in Lahore, killing a number of ISI officials.

The Dec. 8 attack is the first Taliban assault in Multan, which is the farthest south that the insurgents have been able to strike to date. Thus far, Taliban attacks have been limited to the northern half of Punjab. By attacking Multan, the Taliban are demonstrating their expanding geographical reach and their ability to intensify their strikes in Punjab — the core of Pakistan. The Multan attack also follows several attacks in the last week in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Lahore — the three most strategic cities in Punjab province — and in the NWFP capital of Peshawar. On Oct. 17, when the army launched its ground offensive in the TTP heartland and Mehsud tribal areas of South Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the expectation was that the ability of the TTP to strike in urban areas in Punjab would be reduced. This has not been the case.

Instead the number of attacks has actually increased. Since the beginning of the ground offensive, which has allowed Pakistani troops to take control of significant chunks of TTP territory and cut off remaining militant areas from the outside world, there have been two waves of Taliban attacks separated by a lull in early November.
A key reason for the TTP’s ability to continue to project power into Punjab and increase the number of attacks is the group’s command and control structure, which relocated northward in the tribal belt long before the army began its offensive. While the Mehsud tribal area in South Waziristan was the group’s home base, the TTP and its Pakistani and transnational allies maintain infrastructure throughout FATA and the Pashtun areas of NWFP (and to a lesser degree in Punjab). Being able to push southward has been facilitated by a pre-existing social support network in southern Punjab that until now had remained dormant. The FATA-based TTP’s Punjabi allies had been facilitating the reach of the Pashtun jihadists into the northern part of the province.

Hitting Multan also has symbolic value. Both the country’s prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, and its foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, are from the area. Multan is also the headquarters of the army’s II Corps, one of six in the province, and the southern-most major town before the province of Sindh, which thus far has not seen attacks by Taliban rebels, though there is ample evidence of their presence there.

By being able to hit a sensitive facility in Multan, the Taliban want to not only show that all of Punjab is within their reach but that they could expand into Sindh as well. A key concern has been the threat of attacks in Karachi, which is Pakistan’s largest urban center and hub of economic and financial activity, its major port city, and the country’s primary access point for the outside world. An attack there could have huge repercussions for the country’s economy.

Further complicating this scenario are ethnic tensions between the city’s Muhajir and Pashtun communities that the jihadists would like to exploit in their efforts to expand unrest to Karachi, which could facilitate their efforts to overwhelm an already weak state. The city’s ruling Mutahiddah Qaumi Movement is already extremely nervous about Taliban accessibility to the city via the several million Pashtuns that reside in Karachi. At a time when the state is dealing with a growing list of security, economic and political problems, violence in Karachi — whether jihadist or ethnic — is the last thing the state wants to see.

Still, the war maintains a kind of painful balance. While the jihadists are indeed trying to overwhelm the state, they know they are nowhere close to being in a position to overthrow the government. And it is also true that the state has not been able to make a decisive dent in jihadists’ war-making capabilities. The bar is much higher for the state, which has to impose its writ all across the country, thereby denying the militants space to operate. In sharp contrast, all the jihadists have to do is pull off attacks periodically in a variety of areas to show that the state’s writ is weakening. By widening the scope of their operations, the Taliban are trying to get the state to expand its counter-insurgency so as to stretch its resources and widen the battlefield. But by expanding its target set, the TTP has increased its attacks on soft targets, which will alienate the population.

The TTP and its allies are thus in a race against time. They want to be able to exploit political and ethnic differences, an incoherent counterinsurgency strategy and deep financial problems to create sufficient anarchy before the state can gain an advantage in the war against jihadism. Meanwhile, as they strategically allocate their limited resources, the jihadists will continue their periodic attacks across the country, hitting targets hard and soft.
27586  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Partners on: December 09, 2009, 09:06:19 AM
http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=514693
27587  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: Millions drink contaminated water on: December 09, 2009, 06:56:24 AM
second post

Millions in U.S. Drink Dirty Water, Records Show

CHARLES DUHIGG
Published: December 7, 2009
More than 20 percent of the nation’s water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data.


The water system in Ramsey, N.J., has illegal concentrations of arsenic and the solvent tetrachloroethylene, both linked to cancer.

Related
Times Topics: Water Pollution
Series: Toxic Waters »
 Takeaway With Charles Duhigg
That law requires communities to deliver safe tap water to local residents. But since 2004, the water provided to more than 49 million people has contained illegal concentrations of chemicals like arsenic or radioactive substances like uranium, as well as dangerous bacteria often found in sewage.

Regulators were informed of each of those violations as they occurred. But regulatory records show that fewer than 6 percent of the water systems that broke the law were ever fined or punished by state or federal officials, including those at the Environmental Protection Agency, which has ultimate responsibility for enforcing standards.

Studies indicate that drinking water contaminants are linked to millions of instances of illness within the United States each year.

In some instances, drinking water violations were one-time events, and probably posed little risk. But for hundreds of other systems, illegal contamination persisted for years, records show.

On Tuesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works committee will question a high-ranking E.P.A. official about the agency’s enforcement of drinking-water safety laws. The E.P.A. is expected to announce a new policy for how it polices the nation’s 54,700 water systems.

“This administration has made it clear that clean water is a top priority,” said an E.P.A. spokeswoman, Adora Andy, in response to questions regarding the agency’s drinking water enforcement. The E.P.A. administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, this year announced a wide-ranging overhaul of enforcement of the Clean Water Act, which regulates pollution into waterways.

“The previous eight years provide a perfect example of what happens when political leadership fails to act to protect our health and the environment,” Ms. Andy added.

Water pollution has become a growing concern for some lawmakers as government oversight of polluters has waned. Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, in 2007 asked the E.P.A. for data on Americans’ exposure to some contaminants in drinking water.

The New York Times has compiled and analyzed millions of records from water systems and regulators around the nation, as part of a series of articles about worsening pollution in American waters, and regulators’ response.

An analysis of E.P.A. data shows that Safe Drinking Water Act violations have occurred in parts of every state. In the prosperous town of Ramsey, N.J., for instance, drinking water tests since 2004 have detected illegal concentrations of arsenic, a carcinogen, and the dry cleaning solvent tetrachloroethylene, which has also been linked to cancer.

In New York state, 205 water systems have broken the law by delivering tap water that contained illegal amounts of bacteria since 2004.

However, almost none of those systems were ever punished. Ramsey was not fined for its water violations, for example, though a Ramsey official said that filtration systems have been installed since then. In New York, only three water systems were penalized for bacteria violations, according to federal data.

The problem, say current and former government officials, is that enforcing the Safe Drinking Water Act has not been a federal priority.

“There is significant reluctance within the E.P.A. and Justice Department to bring actions against municipalities, because there’s a view that they are often cash-strapped, and fines would ultimately be paid by local taxpayers,” said David Uhlmann, who headed the environmental crimes division at the Justice Department until 2007.

“But some systems won’t come into compliance unless they are forced to,” added Mr. Uhlmann, who now teaches at the University of Michigan law school. “And sometimes a court order is the only way to get local governments to spend what is needed.”

A half-dozen current and former E.P.A. officials said in interviews that they tried to prod the agency to enforce the drinking-water law, but found little support.

“I proposed drinking water cases, but they got shut down so fast that I’ve pretty much stopped even looking at the violations,” said one longtime E.P.A. enforcement official who, like others, requested anonymity for fear of reprisals. “The top people want big headlines and million-dollar settlements. That’s not drinking-water cases.”

The majority of drinking water violations since 2004 have occurred at water systems serving fewer than 20,000 residents, where resources and managerial expertise are often in short supply.

It is unclear precisely how many American illnesses are linked to contaminated drinking water. Many of the most dangerous contaminants regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act have been tied to diseases like cancer that can take years to develop.



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



Millions in U.S. Drink Dirty Water, Records Show



Published: December 7, 2009
(Page 2 of 2)



But scientific research indicates that as many as 19 million Americans may become ill each year due to just the parasites, viruses and bacteria in drinking water. Certain types of cancer — such as breast and prostate cancer — have risen over the past 30 years, and research indicates they are likely tied to pollutants like those found in drinking water.

Skip to next paragraph
Related
Times Topics: Water Pollution
Series: Toxic Waters »
 Takeaway With Charles Duhigg
A blog about energy, the environment and the bottom line.

The violations counted by the Times analysis include only situations where residents were exposed to dangerous contaminants, and exclude violations that involved paperwork or other minor problems.
In response to inquiries submitted by Senator Boxer, the E.P.A. has reported that more than three million Americans have been exposed since 2005 to drinking water with illegal concentrations of arsenic and radioactive elements, both of which have been linked to cancer at small doses.

In some areas, the amount of radium detected in drinking water was 2,000 percent higher than the legal limit, according to E.P.A. data.

But federal regulators fined or punished fewer than 8 percent of water systems that violated the arsenic and radioactive standards. The E.P.A., in a statement, said that in a majority of situations, state regulators used informal methods — like providing technical assistance — to help systems that had violated the rules.

But many systems remained out of compliance, even after aid was offered, according to E.P.A. data. And for over a quarter of systems that violated the arsenic or radioactivity standards, there is no record that they were ever contacted by a regulator, even after they sent in paperwork revealing their violations.

Those figures are particularly worrisome, say researchers, because the Safe Drinking Water Act’s limits on arsenic are so weak to begin with. A system could deliver tap water that puts residents at a 1-in-600 risk of developing bladder cancer from arsenic, and still comply with the law.

Despite the expected announcement of reforms, some mid-level E.P.A. regulators say they are skeptical that any change will occur.

“The same people who told us to ignore Safe Drinking Water Act violations are still running the divisions,” said one mid-level E.P.A. official. “There’s no accountability, and so nothing’s going to change.”
27588  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / NYT: Millions drink contaminated water on: December 09, 2009, 06:54:45 AM
Millions in U.S. Drink Dirty Water, Records Show

CHARLES DUHIGG
Published: December 7, 2009
More than 20 percent of the nation’s water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data.


The water system in Ramsey, N.J., has illegal concentrations of arsenic and the solvent tetrachloroethylene, both linked to cancer.

That law requires communities to deliver safe tap water to local residents. But since 2004, the water provided to more than 49 million people has contained illegal concentrations of chemicals like arsenic or radioactive substances like uranium, as well as dangerous bacteria often found in sewage.

Regulators were informed of each of those violations as they occurred. But regulatory records show that fewer than 6 percent of the water systems that broke the law were ever fined or punished by state or federal officials, including those at the Environmental Protection Agency, which has ultimate responsibility for enforcing standards.

Studies indicate that drinking water contaminants are linked to millions of instances of illness within the United States each year.

In some instances, drinking water violations were one-time events, and probably posed little risk. But for hundreds of other systems, illegal contamination persisted for years, records show.

On Tuesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works committee will question a high-ranking E.P.A. official about the agency’s enforcement of drinking-water safety laws. The E.P.A. is expected to announce a new policy for how it polices the nation’s 54,700 water systems.

“This administration has made it clear that clean water is a top priority,” said an E.P.A. spokeswoman, Adora Andy, in response to questions regarding the agency’s drinking water enforcement. The E.P.A. administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, this year announced a wide-ranging overhaul of enforcement of the Clean Water Act, which regulates pollution into waterways.

“The previous eight years provide a perfect example of what happens when political leadership fails to act to protect our health and the environment,” Ms. Andy added.

Water pollution has become a growing concern for some lawmakers as government oversight of polluters has waned. Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, in 2007 asked the E.P.A. for data on Americans’ exposure to some contaminants in drinking water.

The New York Times has compiled and analyzed millions of records from water systems and regulators around the nation, as part of a series of articles about worsening pollution in American waters, and regulators’ response.

An analysis of E.P.A. data shows that Safe Drinking Water Act violations have occurred in parts of every state. In the prosperous town of Ramsey, N.J., for instance, drinking water tests since 2004 have detected illegal concentrations of arsenic, a carcinogen, and the dry cleaning solvent tetrachloroethylene, which has also been linked to cancer.

In New York state, 205 water systems have broken the law by delivering tap water that contained illegal amounts of bacteria since 2004.

However, almost none of those systems were ever punished. Ramsey was not fined for its water violations, for example, though a Ramsey official said that filtration systems have been installed since then. In New York, only three water systems were penalized for bacteria violations, according to federal data.

The problem, say current and former government officials, is that enforcing the Safe Drinking Water Act has not been a federal priority.

“There is significant reluctance within the E.P.A. and Justice Department to bring actions against municipalities, because there’s a view that they are often cash-strapped, and fines would ultimately be paid by local taxpayers,” said David Uhlmann, who headed the environmental crimes division at the Justice Department until 2007.

“But some systems won’t come into compliance unless they are forced to,” added Mr. Uhlmann, who now teaches at the University of Michigan law school. “And sometimes a court order is the only way to get local governments to spend what is needed.”

A half-dozen current and former E.P.A. officials said in interviews that they tried to prod the agency to enforce the drinking-water law, but found little support.

“I proposed drinking water cases, but they got shut down so fast that I’ve pretty much stopped even looking at the violations,” said one longtime E.P.A. enforcement official who, like others, requested anonymity for fear of reprisals. “The top people want big headlines and million-dollar settlements. That’s not drinking-water cases.”

The majority of drinking water violations since 2004 have occurred at water systems serving fewer than 20,000 residents, where resources and managerial expertise are often in short supply.

It is unclear precisely how many American illnesses are linked to contaminated drinking water. Many of the most dangerous contaminants regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act have been tied to diseases like cancer that can take years to develop.



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



Millions in U.S. Drink Dirty Water, Records Show



Published: December 7, 2009
(Page 2 of 2)



But scientific research indicates that as many as 19 million Americans may become ill each year due to just the parasites, viruses and bacteria in drinking water. Certain types of cancer — such as breast and prostate cancer — have risen over the past 30 years, and research indicates they are likely tied to pollutants like those found in drinking water.

Skip to next paragraph
Related
Times Topics: Water Pollution
Series: Toxic Waters »
 Takeaway With Charles Duhigg
A blog about energy, the environment and the bottom line.

The violations counted by the Times analysis include only situations where residents were exposed to dangerous contaminants, and exclude violations that involved paperwork or other minor problems.
In response to inquiries submitted by Senator Boxer, the E.P.A. has reported that more than three million Americans have been exposed since 2005 to drinking water with illegal concentrations of arsenic and radioactive elements, both of which have been linked to cancer at small doses.

In some areas, the amount of radium detected in drinking water was 2,000 percent higher than the legal limit, according to E.P.A. data.

But federal regulators fined or punished fewer than 8 percent of water systems that violated the arsenic and radioactive standards. The E.P.A., in a statement, said that in a majority of situations, state regulators used informal methods — like providing technical assistance — to help systems that had violated the rules.

But many systems remained out of compliance, even after aid was offered, according to E.P.A. data. And for over a quarter of systems that violated the arsenic or radioactivity standards, there is no record that they were ever contacted by a regulator, even after they sent in paperwork revealing their violations.

Those figures are particularly worrisome, say researchers, because the Safe Drinking Water Act’s limits on arsenic are so weak to begin with. A system could deliver tap water that puts residents at a 1-in-600 risk of developing bladder cancer from arsenic, and still comply with the law.

Despite the expected announcement of reforms, some mid-level E.P.A. regulators say they are skeptical that any change will occur.

“The same people who told us to ignore Safe Drinking Water Act violations are still running the divisions,” said one mid-level E.P.A. official. “There’s no accountability, and so nothing’s going to change.”
27589  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel ups the threat on: December 09, 2009, 06:36:29 AM
Israel Upping the Iranian Nuclear Threat
ISRAELI BRIG. GEN. YOSSI BAIDATZ, the head of Israel’s Military Intelligence research division, told a closed session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that Iran had the technical capability to build a nuclear bomb and that it would only take a political decision in Tehran to follow through with these plans. He specified that Iran had successfully enriched 1800 kg of uranium, which he claimed was enough to build more than one nuclear bomb, and that Iran had spent the past year upgrading its military arsenal with missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons that could reach Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also spoke at the same Knesset meeting, where he said that Iran had lost its legitimacy in the international community and that preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear capabilities was Israel’s central problem.

Though Iran relies heavily on denial and deception tactics to conceal the true status of its nuclear weapons program, Baidatz is likely stretching the truth a bit in describing Iran’s nuclear capabilities. There is an enormous difference between being able to enrich uranium to levels between 5 and 20 percent (what Iran is believed to be currently capable of) and enriching uranium to 80 or 90 percent, which would be considered weapons-grade highly enriched uranium (HEU). Should Iran develop the capability to produce weapons-grade HEU, it would only need a fraction of Baidatz’s claimed 1800 kg of properly enriched uranium to have sufficient raw material for a bomb. In that case, Baidatz’s claim of a political decision being the only thing keeping Iran from the bomb would carry more weight.

These statements are much more an indication of Israeli intentions in dealing with Iran than an accurate reflection of Iranian nuclear capabilities. That the statements of this closed Knesset session were leaked in the first place is particularly revealing of the message that Israel wishes to send Iran and the international community at this point in time. That message, to put it bluntly, is “time’s up.”

“Baidatz is likely stretching the truth a bit in describing Iran’s nuclear capabilities.”
Israel has kept quiet as the United States has made attempt after attempt to extend the proverbial diplomatic hand to the Iranians without success. From Israel’s point of view, the diplomatic chapter is closing this month, and the New Year, if Israel has anything to do with it, will bring a variety of unpleasantries to Iran’s doorstep, including the threat of military action.

But Israel is also operating on a different timeline than that of the United States. Whereas U.S. President Barack Obama would much rather avoid a military conflagration in the Persian Gulf while he attempts to sew up Iraq, make over the Afghanistan war and nurse the U.S. economy back to health, Israel is dealing with a matter of state survival. And that, from the Israeli point of view, takes precedence over its relationship with the United States. This statement from Baidatz is thus likely one of many signals Israel will be sending in the coming weeks to accentuate the Iranian nuclear threat.

Iran, however, still may have a few more tools up its sleeve to take some of the steam out of Israel’s pressure campaign. Obama hosted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House Monday. Just before traveling to Washington, Erdogan hosted Saeed Jalili, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council secretary. That meeting followed a recent visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu to Tehran, where he delivered a proposal to store Iranian enriched uranium on Turkish soil under international safeguards. This was yet another compromise on the enrichment issue intended to ease the tension in Iran’s nuclear negotiations with the West.

It is unlikely that Iran will take Turkey’s proposal seriously, but it can certainly entertain such proposals to buy more time in negotiations and complicate any move toward sanctions or military action. Turkey, meanwhile, has a strategic interest in inserting itself as a key mediator in the Iranian nuclear dispute to not only boost its foreign policy credentials, but also stave off a crisis in its backyard. The Israelis can see through such proposals for what they are — delay tactics — and, most likely, so too can the Americans. But the Americans may not mind giving Turkish mediation a shot if it gives Washington another option to restrain Israeli action and another chance to firm up America’s currently uneasy relations with the region’s rising power: Turkey.

But how many times will Israel allow its tolerance to be tested? As long as Iran appears compromising, even on a surface level, the Russians, the Chinese and even the Europeans can skirt around sanctions talk. And as long as the sanctions haven’t been seriously attempted, Israel cannot easily claim that the sanctions have failed in order to justify military action. This is an uncomfortable space for Israel to be in, but the Iranians, Turks and even the Americans don’t exactly mind seeing Israel in a tight spot right now.
27590  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: December 09, 2009, 06:32:05 AM
I'm against the govt distorting, managing, directing, "partnering with" the economy.  Period.  smiley
27591  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Giving peace a chance on: December 09, 2009, 06:30:09 AM
Richard T. Antoun, a respected Binghamton University anthropology professor
who grew up in Shrewsbury, spent his entire career seeking peace. His work
focused on bridging the divide between religions and cultures, particularly
in the Middle East.
 
But the 77-year-old professor's life ended violently Friday when he was
stabbed multiple times in his campus office, allegedly by a graduate student
 whom he was advising on his doctoral thesis.
 
 The student, Abdulsalam S. al-Zahrani, 46, was from Saudi Arabia. Mr. Antoun
 was serving on the dissertation committee for Mr. Zahrani's graduate thesis
 and apparently had known him for quite some time, according to news reports.
 The university's Web site says Mr. Zahrani's doctoral thesis is called
 "Sacred Voice, Profane Sight: The Senses, Cosmology, and Epistemology in
 Early Arabic Culture."
 
 Mr. Zahrani was immediately arrested and charged with second-degree murder
 and is being held without bail. The motive for the attack is unclear.
 
 Linda Miller of Holden, Mr. Antoun's youngest sister, said she has many
 positive memories of her brother, a man who strove for peace in all things.
 
 "He was interested in bringing forth understanding between different
 cultures and religions," she said. "He tried to explain and help people
 understand current events, particularly in the Middle East."
 
 Mr. Antoun was "a sociocultural anthropologist who has conducted research
 among peasants in Jordan, urbanites in Lebanon, peasant-farmers in Iran, and
 migrants in Texas and Greece," according to the Web site for Binghamton
 University, which is part of the State University of New York system. He
 taught at the University of Chicago, Manchester University in England and
 Cairo University, according to his résumé, which is also posted on the site.
 
 Mr. Antoun had written six books focusing on the Middle East, and spent much
 of his long career educating people about the region and its people. His
 2001 book, "Understanding Fundamentalism: Christian, Muslim and Jewish
 Movements," was particularly timely, coming out just before the terrorist
 attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He retired from teaching at Binghamton University
 in 1999, but remained active on campus and within the anthropology
 department.
 
 Mrs. Miller said she last saw her brother in November, when he and his son
 Nicholas stayed at the Holden home she shares with her husband, David. Mr.
 Antoun and his son had dinner, and the next day attended a New England
 Patriots game. It was a ritual they performed every year.
 
 She last spoke to her brother on Thanksgiving.
 
 "There is going to be a big hole," she said of his death. "I am bent on
 keeping his memory alive."
 
 Mr. Antoun returned to his hometown regularly to visit family and speak
 about events in the Middle East.
 
 Speaking in 2001 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Worcester, where
 David Miller is minister emeritus, Mr. Antoun said that religious
 fundamentalism thrives when a government fails to provide for its people.
 
 "One reason fundamentalists are winning out is they are providing services
 the government is not," he said. The only way Afghans obtained an education,
 he said, was to go to a Taliban school, where they would not only receive an
 Islamic education but were fed as well.
 
 Mrs. Miller said her brother was scheduled to give a lecture at Assumption
 College in the spring, part of a course being offered by Worcester Institute
 for Senior Education. The course is called "Islam: Religion, History and
 Culture, an Overview." Mr. Antoun was scheduled to speak about the role of
 women in Islam, and then would be chairman of a panel discussion following
 the course.
 
 Born in Worcester, Mr. Antoun grew up in Shrewsbury, graduating from
 Shrewsbury High School in 1949. He attended Williams College, and earned a
 doctorate from Harvard University in 1963.
 
 Mrs. Miller said her older brother had an unquenchable passion for baseball,
 following the Boston Braves until they left for Milwaukee, and then the
 Boston Red Sox. She remembers quizzing him for hours on the statistics
 printed on the backs of his numerous baseball cards - information that never
 left her and has helped her to solve countless crossword puzzles.
 
 "He was an incredibly loving older brother, he nurtured me in that sense,"
 she said. When she was in high school, he would pull her essays apart to
 improve them. When she spent a semester abroad at 19, she went to Manchester
 University in England in part because her older brother was teaching there.
 
 "It's been a lifelong, supportive, happy relationship," she said.
 
 He leaves behind his wife of 17 years, Rosalyn, as well as two of her sons,
 his 40-year-old son, Nicholas, and their shared grandchildren.
 
 A memorial service for Mr. Antoun will be held on Friday at the Unitarian
 Universalist Church sanctuary in Binghamton, N.Y.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Just google "Zahrani Emails" to get a picture of the motive.  Another sudden jihadi.
27592  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Sundry on: December 09, 2009, 06:07:31 AM
"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred
as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice
to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence." --John Adams


"Every man who loves peace, every man who loves his country, every man who loves liberty ought to have it ever before his eyes that he may cherish in his heart a due attachment to the Union of America and be able to set a due value on the means of preserving it." --James Madison, Federalist No. 41

"We are firmly convinced, and we act on that conviction, that with nations as with individuals our interests soundly calculated will ever be found inseparable from our moral duties, and history bears witness to the fact that a just nation is trusted on its word when recourse is had to armaments and wars to bridle others." --Thomas Jefferson, Second Inaugural Address, 1805

"Let the American youth never forget, that they possess a noble inheritance, bought by the toils, and sufferings, and blood of their ancestors; and capacity, if wisely improved, and faithfully guarded, of transmitting to their latest posterity all the substantial blessings of life, the peaceful enjoyment of liberty, property, religion, and independence." --Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833
27593  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Lets do what Europe does (right!) on: December 09, 2009, 06:04:05 AM
Kill Jobs, Get Rich--What's Not to Like?
The EU Referendum blog has a fascinating story on how Cap'n Trade--or, as it's called in Europe, the "emission trading scheme"--works. It seems that the Corus Group, a London-based steel maker that is a subsidiary of India's Tata Group, is shutting down one of its plants--a plant the company bought just two years ago "as part of its strategy to give it better access to European (including UK markets) [sic]."

Closing the plant, the site explains, will give the company an ETS jackpot:

With redundancy and decommissions costs, very little of that can actually come from the process of closing down the Redcar plant. But, with a capacity of 3,000,000 tons of steel, closure of the plant will deliver further "savings" over 6 million tons of carbon dioxide, worth an additional £80 million per annum at current rates but around £200 million at expected market levels.
This, even for a company the size of Tara steel, is a considerable windfall, over and above the money it will already make from the EU scheme. But, with a little manipulation, the company can still double its money. By "offshoring" production to India and bringing emissions down – from over twice the EU level--to the level currently produced by the Redcar plant, it stands to make another £200 million per annum from the UN's Clean Development Mechanism.
Thus we see Indian plants being paid up to £30 a ton for each ton of carbon dixoide "saved" by building new plant, while the company which owns them also gets gets paid £30 for each ton of carbon dioxide not produced in its Redcar plant. That gives it an estimated £400 million a year from the closure of the Redcar plant up to 2012--potentially up to £1.2 billion. And that is over and above benefitting from cheaper production costs on the sub-continent.
So the company gets a windfall for moving jobs from Britain to India, and the new plant will produce no less carbon than before. Brilliant, isn't it? We can't wait till America has such a policy.
27594  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tina Brown on: December 09, 2009, 05:50:41 AM
Tina Brown at The Daily Beast, Dec. 3:


It's a strange paradox for a great wordsmith, but whenever Obama makes an important policy speech these days he leaves everyone totally confused. His first health-care press conference back in July triggered a season of raucous political Rorschach and left his hopeful followers utterly baffled about what they were being asked to support.

Now White House envoys are being dispatched all over the globe to explain what the president really meant about the date when troops will or won't be pulled out of Afghanistan. . . .

Does Obama create confusion on purpose? Is this his "process" based on his confession that he's a screen onto which people project things? Is it a strategy so that whatever bill trickles out of Congress or however many soldiers linger in Afghanistan, he can claim that the outcome is what he meant it all along? . . .

Or is it that there is so much subtext to every part of this message that the simple heads of the electorate are just not pointy enough to comprehend it?

I have come to the conclusion that the real reason this gifted communicator has become so bad at communicating is that he doesn't really believe a word that he is saying. He couldn't convey that health-care reform would be somehow cost-free because he knows it won't be. And he can't adequately convey either the imperatives or the military strategy of the war in Afghanistan because he doesn't really believe in it either.
27595  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Major Hasan and the Koran on: December 09, 2009, 05:47:16 AM
By SALAM AL-MARAYATI
Maj. Nidal Hasan's lawyer is considering an insanity plea as a strategy for his client. That might be the only legal option available to the man accused of the shooting rampage at Fort Hood. But Nidal Hasan should also consider a religious option: repentance.

He should take responsibility for his horrific act of violence. He should beg for forgiveness from God for murdering 13 people and injuring 31 more. He should apologize to the families of the victims. He should ask for forgiveness from his fellow members of the military, and from the American people, as he betrayed our entire nation—including Muslim-Americans who are paying the price for his shameful and un-Islamic actions.

Maj. Hasan is granted the presumption of innocence in our courts of law, be they civilian or military. His military-appointed lawyer will likely advise him not to confess to anything. Legally, that may be sound advice. But religiously that advice cuts against the grain of the divine value of justice. Maj. Hasan must take responsibility for committing two major sins in Islam—the murder of his fellow citizens and the violation of two oaths he took.

Maj. Hasan took an oath as a member of the U.S. military to defend our country. He also took a Hippocratic oath to protect his patients. The violation of these oaths is a violation of the Quranic principle which states that making a pledge to anyone is tantamount to making a pledge to God. The Quran states: "(Be not like those) who use their oaths as a means of deceiving one another" (16:92).

His now infamous PowerPoint presentation is rife with distortions of the Quran. Entitled "The Koranic Worldview As It Relates to Muslims in the U.S. Military," it provides anything but a Quranic perspective. Maj. Hasan's critical fault in understanding the Quran was his failure to distinguish between two very important categories of verses: those tied to the specific context of seventh-century Arabia, and those that are absolute and permanent.

He ignores the Quranic mandates, for example, to stand for justice even if it is against your own interest, and to avoid transgression in the pursuit of justice. Yet the most troubling part of his presentation are his conclusions. One of them is: "Muslims are moderate (compromising) but God is not." There are two critical flaws in this one sentence.

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.First, to make any kind of declaration about God being unforgiving violates Islam's central teachings of mercy and compassion. The Quran makes it clear that human beings are meant to embody God's generous spirit. To argue otherwise is to violate God's will and Islam's goal of peacemaking.

Second, being moderate is about upholding religious values while working with other members of society for the greater good. Extremists believe they are compromising their Islamic values when living in the West. This is not true. And Muslim-haters oblige them with the converse, when they argue that the West should not tolerate Muslims. This is not just.

Maj. Hasan's hodgepodge of verses from the Quran and quotes from extremists left out the most important Quranic verse in his section on enjoining peace and forgiveness: "God invites you into the abode of peace" (10:25). Nor did he include the admonition by the Prophet Muhammad never to harm the innocent and never to target noncombatants.

Nidal Hasan doesn't just need legal support; he needs religious consultation that could help him see the enormity of his situation when he faces his Creator. Unfortunately, he may become an icon for violent extremism, leading other young people and civilians to their deaths.

So what should the U.S. government do? Consider allowing Muslim-American religious leaders to meet with Nidal Hasan. Muslim leaders could encourage him to repent. And they could engage Maj. Hasan on his deeply flawed understanding of Islam, explaining that the Quran is an instrument to take people from darkness to light, not the opposite.

Nidal Hasan is reportedly reading letters. I hope he reads this article, for his sake and for the sake of our country.

Mr. Al-Marayati is executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
27596  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: the Rabbit Ears Wars on: December 09, 2009, 05:43:02 AM
You stupidly built a drive-in theater in the desert just as your customers were all deciding to stay home and watch HBO. Fortunately, the theater turns out to be sitting on a mountain of oil.

With a few asterisks, such is the situation of old-style TV broadcasters, whose viewers have fled to cable or satellite but whose spectrum is lusted after by the wireless industry. According to a much-noted study sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association, in the hands of the broadcasters, that spectrum is worth a mere $12 billion. In the hands of mobile phone carriers struggling to meet explosive growth for mobile broadband, it would be worth $62 billion.

To the Silicon Valley types who people the Obama administration, this suggests a rational policy: Pay broadcasters to give up some or all of the airwaves used to send signals to their dwindling rabbit-ear audience. Turn it over to mobile phone folks at a hefty markup.

Blair Levin, a veteran telecom analyst who heads the FCC's broadband efforts, has floated a Hindenburg of a trial balloon by broaching just such a deal with broadcasters. Virtually all agree that any such "grand bargain," to be politically deliverable, must enlist the willing, nay eager, participation of broadcast station owners. No problem—broadcasters would be the biggest winners, right?

Sadly, remember what happened to the original Hindenburg. Broadcasters, who have a keen sense of political realities, note that their broadcast licenses don't actually confer a property right, so whatever deal the FCC struck with them, Congress would certainly rewrite it to make sure Congress got all the money. Broadcasters would receive squat, and probably be vilified as bandits in the process.

"Pipe dream" was the verdict of Colleen Brown, chief of Fisher Communications, owner of 20 stations in the Pacific Northwest.

"Politically they would fall flat on their face," opined Sinclair Broadcasting's Mark Aitken, estimating the agency's chances selling a cash-for-spectrum deal to Congress.

But, hold on. We mentioned asterisks. The FCC and Mr. Levin are correct (and brave) in pointing out the need for a market mechanism to guide spectrum to its highest and best uses. But the FCC is in no position to know whether mobile broadband is that higher and better use. A reason is the regulatory straitjacket, including ownership limits, that for decades has prevented license holders themselves from exploring new broadcast business models.

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.For the truth is, broadcast offers impressive economies for distributing rich media content compared to the Internet. An infinity of users can be served by a single bitstream. It doesn't matter how many receivers tune into a TV broadcast. It never gets overloaded.

Consider a small company called Sezmi, now testing in Los Angeles a competitor to cable and satellite TV. Users get a box with a powerful HDTV antenna, allowing them to receive not just traditional over-the-air TV channels but also popular cable networks, broadcast locally using spare capacity leased from TV stations.

A separate broadband connection supplies on-demand movies and even material plucked from YouTube. And to help make the most of limited bandwidth, each also comes with a giant terabyte-sized disk drive capable of storing many hours of programming, automatically downloaded in advance based on a viewer's demonstrated habits and tastes.

All this, of course, would also yield a cornucopia of information with which to deliver the truly individualized advertising that TV ad buyers crave.

Who knows whether Sezmi will pan out technologically, and at the very-much-cheaper-than-cable price the company touts. The FCC quite properly worries about a coming mobile capacity crunch, with all those proliferating iPhones. But throwing spectrum at it won't be the only solution. Greater integration of fixed and wireless will help. Software innovation, cramming more bits into the same frequency, will help. So will usage-based pricing. And as Sezmi shows, local storage can substitute for bandwidth too.

The FCC is looking in the right direction, but we need more than just a "market solution" to liberate spectrum from the current government-approved incumbents. We need a market that can fully explore the potential of all the business models that might contest to find the highest and best use of that resource.

In the meantime, the agency's trial balloon is having a perverse effect, spurring broadcasters to new Potemkin feats to prove they are making full use of their existing spectrum, such as rolling out new digital "subchannels" that nobody watches. Some broadcasters even invoke the 1962 All-Channel Receiver Act and insist a new "golden age of broadcasting" is around the corner—just as soon as the FCC mandates that every smart phone be capable of receiving over-the-air TV signals.

In short, one picture is starting to come in clearly: The spectrum puzzle won't be solved by the clean and simple deal the agency envisioned just a month ago.
27597  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stimulus 3 on: December 09, 2009, 05:38:15 AM
"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere,
diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies" -- Groucho Marx

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

Stimulus III
Democrats want TARP to become a revolving line of political credit..

If at first fiscal stimulus doesn't succeed, spend, spend again. That's the motto President Obama embraced yesterday, even if he didn't use the word "stimulus," which has managed to set a political record in the speed with which it has become unpopular with voters. This time, the spending is being called "Proposals to Accelerate Job Growth and Lay the Foundation for Robust Economic Growth."

But wasn't that also supposed to be the point of last February's $787 billion stimulus, or for that matter of the Nancy Pelosi-George W. Bush $165 billion stimulus of February 2008?

Nearly two years after that first Keynesian stimulus that was supposed to prevent a recession, and nearly a year after the second that the White House said would keep the jobless rate below 8%, the President now feels obliged to propose a third. Like the joke about Paul Krugman having predicted seven of the last two recessions, sooner or later the White House is bound to get the political timing right.

This time around, the President is at least suggesting a couple of good ideas. One proposal would revive his 2008 campaign promise for a zero capital gains tax on new investments in small business stock. Mr. Obama dropped the idea from his first stimulus because liberals on Capitol Hill hate the words "capital gains," but yesterday he proposed a zero rate for one year.

View Full Image

Associated Press
 
Eight of the 18 California Conservation Corps workers were hired by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the federal stimulus plan.
.Another decent idea would extend enhanced expensing for small business that was otherwise set to expire at the end of this year. This will allow businesses to immediately expense up to $250,000 of certain investments, which should help with business cash flow.

Both ideas would reduce the cost of capital, and thus would partially counteract the many tax increases coming from the House and Senate that would raise the cost of capital and hiring. These tax reductions also recognize that the only source of real long-term job creation is private business.

Most of the rest of Mr. Obama's proposals are unfortunately a grab-bag of greatest Congressional mis-hits. They include a "new" tax credit for small business hiring that looks suspiciously like Jimmy Carter's jobs tax credit that led to few net new jobs and was abandoned after a year.

There's also a flood of new spending, with the amount presumably to come later from Congress (oh oh!), on highways and other public works. Perhaps you thought these "shovel-ready" projects had been included as part of Stimulus II. Alas, that was merely the sales pitch. In the event, the bulk of that money was shovel-readied to such transfer payments as Medicaid, welfare, community block grants, and cash for the clunkers who run failing public schools. This time, we're told, roads and bridges really will get the money—and you can bet they'll all be built with higher Davis-Bacon wage rates that will balloon their cost, too.

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.How will this all be paid for? Well, there are the huge tax increases to come in 2011, if not earlier, as well as more federal borrowing. This time, however, Mr. Obama is also proposing to use funds repaid by banks to the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. When Congress passed TARP a year ago, the Democrats who ran the joint vowed that the cash was intended to save the financial system and that any returns would promptly go to pay down the debt. As Candidate Obama put it, "every penny" would go "directly back to the American people." That was then.

Now, we're heading into a new election year and Treasury says it expects the bailout to cost $200 billion less than expected, and that it should be able to recover all but $42 billion of the $370 billion it has lent to financial firms. That ought to be cause for rejoicing—and for using the cash to reduce a federal deficit that reached $1.4 trillion in fiscal 2009 and after two months is on pace to be even higher in 2010.

Instead, TARP is now morphing into a revolving line of Democratic political credit. Barney Frank wants to divert at least $4 billion to bail out more home owners. Virginia Senator Mark Warner wants $50 billion for loans to small business. Mr. Obama proposed yesterday to use TARP to finance his own ideas as part of Stimulus III, and if he and fellow Democrats succeed the taxpayers will never see this cash again.

The President tried to recast his "every penny" promise yesterday by arguing that recycled TARP cash would create jobs and thus revenue to bring down the deficit. This is also Speaker Nancy Pelosi's new talking point. They're right that a strong economy is the best way to reduce deficits, but their spend and spend again policies only make closing those deficits more difficult.

One note of hope here is that the White House admits that the TARP statute restricts its use to the "stabilization" of the financial system. The law also specifies that repaid money must go to deficit reduction, a fact that allowed Mrs. Pelosi to gather enough votes to pass TARP last year. This means Democrats are going to have to rewrite the law to spend TARP on pork and green jobs, giving Senate Republicans some leverage and Blue Dog Democrats another chance to write the ad scripts for their 2010 opponents.

As the President gladly admitted yesterday, the economy is recovering and even the job market is healing. If Congress won't reduce taxes, the best stimulus now would be for Congress to stop scaring private job creators by promising to help them. Just do nothing at all.
27598  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / part 2 on: December 09, 2009, 05:23:10 AM


Boxing during Public Holidays

During the early 1910s, boxing was sometimes part of the festivities
associated with public holidays such as Fleet Week, New Year's, and the
Fourth of July. For instance, on July 9, 1910, Jim Hoao fought a military
boxer at Aloha Park in Honolulu.


Honolulu in 1910. Photographer: Robert K. Bonine. Courtesy the Library of
Congress, Panoramic Photographs Collection, LC-USZ62-125408.

However, because of opposition from the US District Attorney, Jefferson
McCarn, there was no off-post boxing in Hawaii between July 4, 1913 (Young
Johnson versus Kaina Opo at Wailuku) and December 31, 1918.

The bout that got things started again was part of the New Year's
celebration at the Iolani Palace, and it featured a Chinese
("Happy-Go-Lucky", originally from Macao) against a Filipino (Raphael
Carpenterio, "the Manila Demon"). Although no admission was charged, the
Advertiser still called it "the first real stage affair of its kind held in
Honolulu since 'Old Rose' Jeff McCarn assassinated the sport in Hawaii." On
August 21, 1919, there were also boxing matches between soldiers and sailors
at Moili'ili Park. Non-military participants included Carpenterio, Young
Johnson, Akana, and En You Kau.

YMCA patronage was probably involved in this post-World War renaissance, as
on March 4, 1919, the Central YMCA of Honolulu organized a "stunt night"
that featured boxing, wrestling, sumo, and judo. The boxers included Jimmie
Flynn versus Jimmie White, Price versus Wilkinson; and the Wright brothers
against each other. All the boxers on this card were welterweights except
Wilkinson, who was a middleweight. Similarly, in September 1928, the Oahu
County YMCA organized a camp at which boys boxed. The athletic director at
the Y, Charles Pease, was a former soldier who based his program on World
War-era military training.

Additionally, veterans and fraternal groups sometimes organized smokers as
fund-raisers. For example, on May 13, 1922, the Veterans of Foreign Wars
hosted a bout featuring Dynamite Tommy Short and Kid Oba (Jack Osoi). Short
tried for the knockout, but ended up with a draw. Similarly, on August 29,
1925, the American Legion staged a smoker at the Hilo Armory.




Fight Clubs

During the 1920s, boxing left the vaudeville houses and public parks for
fight clubs.

On Big Island, the Women's Christian Temperance Union was strongly opposed
to boxing. Consequently, efforts to promote boxing in Hilo led to legal
action. To the disgust of the temperance leaguers, the court actions
eventually led to the legalization of boxing in the Territory, but
meanwhile, there was little organized boxing on the Big Island.

However, on Oahu, the Honolulu business community generally supported
organized boxing. For example, fans attending the fight between Battling
Bolo (Elias Cantere) and Alky Dawson at the Honolulu Armory on March 18,
1927 included the territorial governor (Star-Bulletin publisher Wallace
Farrington) and the Honolulu mayor (Charles Arnold). According to the
Advertiser (April 15, 1928), their official stance was that these bouts were
legal as long as admission was not charged at the gate and the fighters
received payment in private.

The Hawaiian fight clubs of the 1920s were usually warehouses with a ring in
one corner. To avoid legal problems, police got in free and boxing fans
bought daily memberships rather than tickets. Prices for daily memberships
ranged from 50¢ in the gallery to $2.00 in stage seating, and these
memberships had to be purchased in advance.

Ethnicity played an important role in these fight clubs. For example, many
Filipinos were inspired to become boxers by the victories of Pancho Villa,
the first Filipino to become a world boxing champion. Meanwhile, K. Oki, a
Honolulu businessman of Japanese descent, was inspired to provide financial
support to Honolulu boxing clubs after seeing Japanese college students
boxing at Tokyo's Hibiya Park during 1926.


A bout between boxers from Chuo University (left) and Hosei University in
Tokyo. Many Japanese collegiate boxers of the mid-1930s were ethnically
Korean. From Arthur Grix, Japans Sport in Bild und Wort (Berlin: Wilhelm
Limpert-Verlag, 1937).

For Filipinos living on Oahu, Honolulu's Rizal Athletic Club was an
important fight club. Rizal held its first smoker on July 8, 1922, and in
the main event, Kid Parco defeated Alky Dawson in six. The preliminaries
were supposed to feature Jackie Wright versus Cabayon, Hayward Wright versus
Pedro Suerta, Tommy Dawson versus Moniz, and Tommy Short versus Kid Oba.
Unfortunately, Kid Oba was a no-show, as he died of lockjaw on June 28,
1922. He was aged 17. Other boxers associated with Rizal Athletic Club
smokers include Patsy Fernandez, Battling Bolo, Young Malicio, Clever Feder,
Pedro Suerta, Moniz Santiago, and Cabayon.

For Portuguese, an important club was the Kewalo Athletic Club, managed by
A.K. Vierra. Portuguese boxing idols included Don "Lefty" Freitas and Jack
Silva.

For Chinese, it was the Chinese American Athletic Association, managed by
Chang Kau. Chang's brother Dick boxed professionally in California, and
later became a well-known Honolulu coach. Other Chinese boxers of the 1920s
included Jackie Young, Young Loo, Ah Bing, Smiling Ching, Lanky Lau, K.H.
Young, and Lefty Long.


Dick Chang posing with California boxer Paul de Hate around 1927. Note
16-ounce training gloves. Courtesy the Paul Lou collection.

In addition, there were fight clubs for Koreans such as Walter Cho, and for
Japanese such as Patsy Fukuda, Henry Kudo, and the brothers Spud and "K.O."
Kuratsu. Cho went on to become a well-known referee, while Fukuda became
coach of Hawaii's 1949 AAU boxing team.


Spud Kuratsu. The inscription reads, "To Paul Aloha, Spud Kuratsu." Courtesy
the Paul Lou collection.



Training Methods and Contests

Regardless of ethnicity, bootleg boxers used similar methods during
training. As a rule, they began hard training about three weeks before a
scheduled match. A typical training day included sparring 6-10 rounds before
work in the morning. In the afternoon, after work, the boxers ran about ten
miles uphill, and then walked back.

The gloves most boxers wore during both sparring and fighting weighed just 6
ounces. In addition, they did not wear headgear, as it had only just been
introduced. Thus, during sparring, boxers generally tried to avoid hurting
one another.

During contests, things could get heated. For example, Nelson Tavares
recalled Jack McFadden forcing him into clinches and then spitting in his
face (Advertiser, April 9, 1949).

As a rule, however, the goal was simply to give the crowd a lot of action.
For example, here is how William Peet (Advertiser, January 6, 1941) recalled
a Kewalo Athletic Club fight of the late 1920s:

The main event was to have been a six rounder between Kohala Lion [Modesto
Cabuag] and Big Bolo or Battling Bolo (Elias Cantere), a Filipino with a
murderous right. The Kohala Lion failed to show up, so J. Donovan Flint,
present chairman of the Territorial Boxing Commission, agreed to box three
fast rounds with Bolo as an exhibition, in order that the cash customers
would feel that they had not been cheated . they were not cheated as things
turned out.
Flint, a good boxer, one-time Pacific Coast collegiate champion [at
Stanford], was to have refereed the main scrap. He put on the gloves with
Bolo. The first round was fast and interesting. In the second round, Mr.
Flint forgot to pull his punches and tapped Bolo a stiff jab on the nose.
Bolo uncorked a right from the ring floor, the blow landed flush on the jaw,
and the lights went out for J. Donovan. He says he was only dazed, but I saw
the fight and helped Brother Flint come back to earth.

27599  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / The Arrival of the Bolo Punch in HI 1893-1920 on: December 09, 2009, 05:22:17 AM
Big hat tip to Chaz Siangco, who brought this wonderful piece to my
attention.  Note the reference to "the Battling Bolo" Elias Cantere in the
closing paragraphs.  Cantere was Chaz's "lolo".
=============
http://ejmas.com/jcs/jcsart_svinthetal_0303.htm

Journal of Combative Sport, Mar 2003
Western Boxing in Hawaii: The Bootleg Era, 1893-1929

By Joseph R. Svinth, with Curtis Narimatsu, Paul Lou, and Charles Johnston

Copyright © EJMAS 2003. All rights reserved.



On January 17, 1893, American settlers led by Sanford B. Dole overthrew the
Hawaiian monarchy. Dole and his friends then offered the Hawaiian Islands to
the United States. The US Congress wanted to accept Dole's offer, but
President, Grover Cleveland was an isolationist who disliked filibustering,
as causing insurrection for purposes of advancing American economic
interests was then known. Consequently, the US government rejected Dole's
offer. Nonplused, on July 4, 1894, Dole and his friends established the
Republic of Hawaii, with Dole as its president.

Three years later, William McKinley became President of the United States.
McKinley. McKinley was an expansionist, as imperialism was then known, and
so, in June 1898, the US government voted to annex Hawaii. The US Navy
landed troops at Honolulu in August 1898, and Hawaiian sovereignty
transferred to the United States.


Message from William McKinley nominating Sanford B. Dole as governor of
Hawaii. Note the letterhead, "Executive Mansion," rather than "White House."
Courtesy the Center for Legislative Archives, National Archives and Record
Administration, Anson McCook Collection of Presidential Signatures,
NWL-46-MCCOOK-3(11).

From August 1898 until December 1941, the Territory of Hawaii was under
joint military and civilian administration. However, following the Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the US Army put the Territory of
Hawaii under martial law. Because the Army's leadership did not trust people
of Japanese ancestry, martial law did not end until October 24, 1944. To
reduce the risk of undergoing extended martial law in future, Hawaii's
civilian leaders, many of whom were of Japanese ancestry, began pushing hard
for statehood, which was achieved on August 20, 1959.

Because of the confluence of social and political factors, the history of
Western boxing in Hawaii has three separate eras.

  a.. The first is the Bootleg Era. From 1893-1929, boxing was legal in
Hawaii only if sponsored by the military. In town, the police rarely tried
to enforce anti-boxing legislation, but the threat was always there. This
severely restricted civilian boxing.
  b.. The second is the Territorial Era. From 1929 to 1959, boxing was legal
throughout the Territory of Hawaii. A territorial commission supervised
bouts in town, but the US military continued to exert considerable control
over life in and around Honolulu. The YMCA, the Catholic Youth Organization,
and the Honolulu newspapers all supported boxing, and through their
patronage, the Territorial Era became the Golden Age of Hawaiian boxing.
  c.. The third is the Statehood Era. From 1959 to the present, boxing has
been legal in the State of Hawaii. The state boxing commission continued to
supervise bouts in town, but the military, church groups, and newspapers
gradually withdrew their patronage. Meanwhile, jet planes made it
unnecessary for boxers heading for Australia or Asia to spend a few days in
Honolulu en route, and network television broadcasts hurt local fight clubs
by introducing televised boxing from the Mainland. The professional market
withered, and so, since statehood, most Hawaiian boxers either have been
amateurs or made their reputations outside the state.
The following discusses the bootleg era, 1893-1929.



Military Boxing

In 1893, the US Navy began stationing warships at Honolulu, where their
sailors and Marines were used to prop up the Dole administration. There were
boxers aboard these warships. For example, during the winter of 1893-1894,
the future heavyweight champion Tom Sharkey, then serving aboard USS
Philadelphia, fought at least 14 bouts in Honolulu.


Boxing aboard USS New York, July 3, 1899. Photographer: Edward H. Hart.
Courtesy the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Detroit
Publishing Company Collection, LC-D4-32317.

The First New York Volunteer Infantry established the first Army camps in
Honolulu during the summer of 1898, and the Regular Army established its
first permanent post, Fort Shafter, in 1907. In January 1913, the War
Department transferred a black regiment, the 25th Infantry, to Fort Shafter.
Some of these soldiers were boxers. Thus, the Honolulu Advertiser wrote,
"The Twenty-fifth is proud of its colored ringmasters and particularly of
Hollie Giles, a welterweight of 155 pounds, who is described by the men as a
'whirlwind' fighter; Morgan, a heavyweight at 190 pounds; Carson, a light
heavyweight, and Ananias Harris, a light heavyweight."

In those days, military boxing was subject to Sections 320 and 321 of the US
Code. These statutes stated that exchanging blows for money or a thing of
any value, or for a championship, or for which admission was charged, or for
which money was wagered, was illegal. In 1915, the Army circumvented these
laws by ruling that soldiers could box in garrison if there were no
admission charges, no challenges from the ring, no decisions announced at
the end of fights, and no obvious gambling. The first smoker following this
decision took place at Schofield Barracks on October 9, 1915, and
subsequently, boxing exhibitions were common on holidays such as
Thanksgiving, New Year's, and the Fourth of July.

Early boxing promoters at Schofield Barracks included Major Edmund Butts,
whose publications included books and magazine articles touting the benefits
of boxing as a pastime for soldiers, and the regimental chaplain. During the
early 1920s, local promoters included Tommy Marlowe and Lieutenant Barnard
of the 5th US Cavalry, and Sergeant John Stone of the Ordnance Department.
At Fort_Derussy, promoters included Sergeant Anthony Biddle of the 17th US
Cavalry. Boxers assigned to Army units in Hawaii during the late 1910s
included the 25th Infantry's Henry Polk ("Rufus Williams") and Private
Settles ("the Kentucky Chap"), and the Signal Corps' Joseph Podimik ("Joe
Potts").

According to the Advertiser (November 27, 1915), the Schofield ring was "set
up on the cavalry parade and an abundance of chairs at the ringside, an
amphitheatre of bleachers, and seats on the adjoining troop quarters [gave]
better accommodations than [did] the seating arrangement of any hall on
post." Unfortunately, the Schofield bleachers provided no protection from
the afternoon rains, and without electric lights to illuminate the twilight,
the audience had a hard time seeing the last rounds of the main event.

During the 1910s, Pearl Harbor became a major US naval base, and in 1921,
Sub Base Pearl Harbor's Sharkey Theater became the first covered boxing
arena in Hawaii. [EN1] From 1918-1924, civilians often attended Pearl Harbor
bouts. However, this ended in 1924, when Rear Admiral John McDonald decided
to close Pearl Harbor boxing matches to civilians and soldiers. The reason
was that McDonald felt that it was ungentlemanly for the audience to boo and
make disparaging remarks about the contestants and referees.

Once Pearl Harbor closed to civilians, the Hawaii National Guard began
patronizing boxing. Guard boxing coaches included Jim Hoao and Bill Huihui,
both of whom had boxed professionally in Hawaii during the early 1900s.
Boxers trained by these men included Patsy Fukuda, Hiram Naipo, and Gus
Sproat. The Honolulu Armory was the usual venue for these fights.


Patsy Fukuda, circa 1930. Courtesy Patrick Fukuda.

Hawaii's most acclaimed military boxer of the bootleg era was probably
Sergeant Peniel R. "Sammy" Baker. Baker began his amateur career at
Schofield Barracks in 1922. At the time, he was 20 years old, and serving in
the 21st Infantry. Baker was the Hawaiian military welterweight champion in
1923 and 1924, and a runner-up in the selection for the US Olympic team in
May 1924. Following the Olympic tryouts, Baker transferred to Mitchel Field,
on Long Island. Baker obtained his discharge in September 1924, and by 1928,
he was ranked the fifth best welterweight in the world.




Civilian Boxing

Bill Huihui was among the earliest Hawaiian-born boxers. Born at Pauoa,
Oahu, in 1875, Huihui went to sea as a young man, and learned to box in San
Francisco. In 1902, he started boxing for Honolulu's Kapiolani Athletic
Club, and his first Hawaiian professional bout took place soon afterwards,
at the Orpheum Theater. This was a 4-round semi-main event, and the opponent
was Jack Latham. Subsequent opponents included Nelson Tavares, Jack Weedy,
Dick Sullivan, Kid De Lyle, and Tim Murphy. Huihui retired from the ring
around 1909, but continued coaching boxers until at least 1924. Because he
worked as a policeman, Huihui's local trainers may have included the
Honolulu Police Department boxing instructor, R.A. Wood, a Scot who settled
in Honolulu in the early 1900s.


Bill Huihui. From the Advertiser, September 10, 1904

Another early Hawaii-born boxer was Nelson Tavares, "the Punchbowl Demon."
Tavares claimed the Territorial lightweight championship from 1905 until
1908, and his opponents included the middleweights Cyclone Kelly, Dick
Sullivan, Tim Murphy, and Mike Patton, and the lightweights Charlie Riley,
Frankie Smith, Frank Rafferty, and Joe Leahy. After retiring from the ring,
Tavares became a garage owner on Bishop Street.


Nelson Tavares. From the Advertiser, June 17, 1908

During the 1910s, a few Hawaii-born boxers began establishing reputations on
the Mainland. For example, in October 1912, the Advertiser mentioned that
Manuel "Battling" Viera of Hilo was boxing in San Francisco. Viera was still
fighting in San Francisco in 1919, when he fought a four-round draw with Joe
"Young" Azevedo. Originally from Honolulu. Azevedo began boxing in Oakland
around January 1913, at which time he was aged 17. Azevedo's wins included
at least two victories over Tommy McFarland and another over former
lightweight champion Ad Wolgast. After a ring injury caused him to go blind
in one eye, Azevedo settled in Sacramento, where he died of a heart attack
on February 19, 1934.




Vaudeville Exhibitions

Until the 1910s, many Honolulu boxing matches took place inside vaudeville
theaters. To circumvent laws prohibiting prizefighting, these matches were
called exhibitions. For example, on May 28, 1904, Paddy Ryan organized a
boxing card at the New Chinese Theater on Hotel Street. The main event
featured Frank Nichols of Honolulu versus USS New York's Sailor Robinson.
Likewise, on June 22, 1911, the Honolulu Eagles hosted a show at the Bijou
Theater that featured "fun in boxing land." The main event featured Mike
Patton, who claimed to be the champion of the Far East. Finally, on June 11,
1913, Jim Hoao lost a 15-round decision to Private Morris Kilsner during a
bout held at Honolulu's Ye Liberty Theater. [EN2]

Famous champions sometimes took part in these exhibitions. For example,
during July 1894, John L. Sullivan was on a trip to Australia, and while in
Honolulu, he gave an exhibition at the Opera House. His opponent was a
sparring partner named Fitzsimmons (not Bob). Similarly, during November
1907, the visiting lightweight champion Jimmy Britt gave a demonstration to
the "sport-loving people of Honolulu." The Advertiser noted that the latter
exhibition was "of such character that women can safely attend." (In those
days, society discouraged women from attending fights, but some went anyway,
usually watching from backstage.)


John L. Sullivan. Lithograph by Scott C. Carbee, sometime between 1880 and
1910. Courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division,
LC-USZ62-119896.

Another way that vaudeville managers circumvented the law was by advertising
the boxing as part of a novelty act. For example, in December 1915, the
Welsh welterweight Fred Dyer, who advertised himself as "the singing boxer,"
appeared at the Popular Theater in Honolulu. Dyer was en route to California
from Australia, where his opponents included Fritz Holland and Les Darcy.

The vaudeville promoters generally arranged these fights without asking the
consent of either boxer. Instead, they simply told the men that they had a
fight lined up. Then the boxers either showed up or they didn't.

27600  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: December 09, 2009, 04:41:20 AM
 cheesy cheesy cheesy
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