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27551  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The C. vs. seats for DC on: February 25, 2009, 03:14:45 PM
The House of Representatives seems set to grow by two Members, to 437, after next year's election. Yesterday the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act passed a key procedural vote in the Senate, making passage of the legislation, which President Obama supports, all but certain. The only thing standing in the way may be the Constitution.

The District of Columbia is reliably and overwhelmingly Democratic, and most of the bill's sponsors are Democrats. But one Republican is conspicuous among its sponsors: Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. That is because the legislation also creates a new House seat for Mr. Hatch's state, which in 2000 lost out to North Carolina for the 435th seat because the Census Bureau declined to count Mormon missionaries temporarily overseas as Utah residents.

Utah is one of the most Republican states in the country, but this is still a bad trade for the GOP. Whereas the new District of Columbia seat is permanent, and Democratic dominance in D.C. is as permanent as such things can be, the other new seat will be Utah's for only two years. Thereafter, like all other Congressional seats, it will be reassigned every 10 years as part of reapportionment. It could just as easily go to a Democratic state as to a Republican one.

More important, the legislation runs afoul of the plain language of the Constitution, which provides that House members shall be chosen "by the People of the several States" and stipulates that the District of Columbia is not a state.

In 1960, Congress proposed a Constitutional amendment giving residents of the capital the right to vote for President. The 23rd Amendment was ratified the following year. The District already sends a nonvoting delegate to the House, but if Congress wishes to grant it full representation, it should do so by amending, not ignoring, the Constitution.
27552  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: BO's pick for NIE on: February 25, 2009, 02:45:54 PM
It keeps getting worse and worse , , ,

During the presidential campaign, a constant refrain of Barack Obama and other Democratic candidates was that the Bush administration had severely politicized intelligence, resulting in such disasters as the war in Iraq.

Chinese President Hu Jintao, left, greets Chas Freeman Jr., right, at a reception prior to a dinner in his honor in Washington, April 2006.
The irony of course is that, if anything, President Bush badly failed at depoliticizing a CIA that was often hostile to his agenda. Witness the repeated leaks of classified information that undercut his policies. It now appears Mr. Obama has appointed a highly controversial figure to head the National Intelligence Council, which is responsible for producing National Intelligence Estimates. The news Web site yesterday reported that it could confirm rumors that a former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Charles "Chas" Freeman Jr., has been appointed chairman. (My calls to the White House and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence produced neither confirmation nor denial.)

Without question, Mr. Freeman has a distinguished résumé, having served in a long list of State and Defense Department slots. But also without question, he has distinctive political views and affiliations, some of which are more than eyebrow-raising.

In 1997, Mr. Freeman succeeded George McGovern to become the president of the Middle East Policy Council. The MEPC purports to be a nonpartisan, public-affairs group that "strives to ensure that a full range of U.S. interests and views are considered by policy makers" dealing with the Middle East. In fact, its original name until 1991 was the American-Arab Affairs Council, and it is an influential Washington mouthpiece for Saudi Arabia.

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As Mr. Freeman acknowledged in a 2006 interview with an outfit called the Saudi-US Relations Information Service, MEPC owes its endowment to the "generosity" of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia. Asked in the same interview about his organization's current mission, Mr. Freeman responded, in a revealing non sequitur, that he was "delighted that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has, after a long delay, begun to make serious public relations efforts."

Among MEPC's recent activities in the public relations realm, it has published what it calls an "unabridged" version of "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" by professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt. This controversial 2006 essay argued that American Jews have a "stranglehold" on the U.S. Congress, which they employ to tilt the U.S. toward Israel at the expense of broader American interests. Mr. Freeman has both endorsed the paper's thesis and boasted of MEPC's intrepid stance: "No one else in the United States has dared to publish this article, given the political penalties that the Lobby imposes on those who criticize it."

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Freeman has views about Middle East policy that differ rather sharply from those held by supporters of the state of Israel. More surprisingly, they also differ rather sharply from the views -- or at least the views stated during the campaign -- of the president who has invited him to serve.

While President Obama speaks of helping the people of Israel "search for credible partners with whom they can make peace," Mr. Freeman believes, as he said in a 2007 address to the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs, that "Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians; it strives instead to pacify them." The primary reason America confronts a terrorism problem today, he continued, is "the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation that is about to mark its fortieth anniversary and shows no sign of ending."

Although initial reaction to Mr. Freeman's selection has focused on his views of the Middle East, that region is by no means Mr. Freeman's only area of interest. He has pronounced on a wide variety of other subjects, including China, where he has attempted to explain away the scale and scope of the starkly intensive buildup of the People's Liberation Army. The specter of a Chinese threat, he remarked during a China forum at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in October 2006, is nothing more than "a great fund-raiser for the hyper-expensive advanced weaponry our military-industrial complex prefers to make and our armed forces love to employ."

On the massacre at Tiananmen Square in 1989, Mr. Freeman unabashedly sides with the Chinese government, a remarkable position for an appointee of an administration that has pledged to advance the cause of human rights. Mr. Freeman has been a participant in ChinaSec, a confidential Internet discussion group of China specialists. A copy of one of his postings was provided to me by a former member. "The truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities," he wrote there in 2006, "was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud." Moreover, "the Politburo's response to the mob scene at 'Tiananmen' stands as a monument to overly cautious behavior on the part of the leadership, not as an example of rash action." Indeed, continued Mr. Freeman, "I do not believe it is acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government, however appealing to foreigners their propaganda may be."

We have already seen a string of poorly vetted appointments from the Obama White House, like those of Tom Daschle and Bill Richardson, that after public scrutiny were tossed under the bus. The chairmanship of the National Intelligence Council differs from those cases, for it does not require Senate confirmation. If someone with such extreme views has been appointed to such a sensitive position, is this a reflection of Mr. Obama's true predilections, or is it proof positive that the Obama White House has never gotten around to vetting its own vetters?

Either way, if those complaining loudest about politicized intelligence have indeed placed a China-coddling Israel basher in charge of drafting the most important analyses prepared by the U.S. government, it is quite a spectacle. The problem is not that Mr. Freeman will shade National Intelligence Estimates to suit the administration's political views. The far more serious danger is that he will steer them to reflect his own outlandish perspectives and prejudices.

Mr. Schoenfeld, a resident scholar at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J., is writing a book about secrecy and national security.
27553  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strat: The long arm of the lawless. on: February 25, 2009, 02:41:00 PM
Nice find Tom.

By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
Last week we discussed the impact that crime, and specifically kidnapping, has been having on Mexican citizens and foreigners visiting or living in Mexico. We pointed out that there is almost no area of Mexico immune from the crime and violence. As if on cue, on the night of Feb. 21 a group of heavily armed men threw two grenades at a police building in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero state, wounding at least five people. Zihuatanejo is a normally quiet beach resort just north of Acapulco; the attack has caused the town’s entire police force to go on strike. (Police strikes, or threats of strikes, are not uncommon in Mexico.)

Mexican police have regularly been targeted by drug cartels, with police officials even having been forced to seek safety in the United States, but such incidents have occurred most frequently in areas of high cartel activity like Veracruz state or Palomas. The Zihuatanejo incident is proof of the pervasiveness of violence in Mexico, and demonstrates the impact that such violence quickly can have on an area generally considered safe.

Significantly, the impact of violent Mexican criminals stretches far beyond Mexico itself. In recent weeks, Mexican criminals have been involved in killings in Argentina, Peru and Guatemala, and Mexican criminals have been arrested as far away as Italy and Spain. Their impact — and the extreme violence they embrace — is therefore not limited to Mexico or even just to Latin America. For some years now, STRATFOR has discussed the threat that Mexican cartel violence could spread to the United States, and we have chronicled the spread of such violence to the U.S.-Mexican border and beyond.

Traditionally, Mexican drug-trafficking organizations had focused largely on the transfer of narcotics through Mexico. Once the South American cartels encountered serious problems bringing narcotics directly into the United States, they began to focus more on transporting the narcotics to Mexico. From that point, the Mexican cartels transported them north and then handed them off to U.S. street gangs and other organizations, which handled much of the narcotics distribution inside the United States. In recent years, however, these Mexican groups have grown in power and have begun to take greater control of the entire narcotics-trafficking supply chain.

With greater control comes greater profitability as the percentages demanded by middlemen are cut out. The Mexican cartels have worked to have a greater presence in Central and South America, and now import from South America into Mexico an increasing percentage of the products they sell. They are also diversifying their routes and have gone global; they now even traffic their wares to Europe. At the same time, Mexican drug-trafficking organizations also have increased their distribution operations inside the United States to expand their profits even further. As these Mexican organizations continue to spread beyond the border areas, their profits and power will extend even further — and they will bring their culture of violence to new areas.

Burned in Phoenix
The spillover of violence from Mexico began some time ago in border towns like Laredo and El Paso in Texas, where merchants and wealthy families face extortion and kidnapping threats from Mexican gangs, and where drug dealers who refuse to pay “taxes” to Mexican cartel bosses are gunned down. But now, the threat posed by Mexican criminals is beginning to spread north from the U.S.-Mexican border. One location that has felt this expanding threat most acutely is Phoenix, some 185 miles north of the border. Some sensational cases have highlighted the increased threat in Phoenix, such as a June 2008 armed assault in which a group of heavily armed cartel gunmen dressed like a Phoenix Police Department tactical team fired more than 100 rounds into a residence during the targeted killing of a Jamaican drug dealer who had double-crossed a Mexican cartel. We have also observed cartel-related violence in places like Dallas and Austin, Texas. But Phoenix has been the hardest hit.

Narcotics smuggling and drug-related assassinations are not the only thing the Mexican criminals have brought to Phoenix. Other criminal gangs have been heavily involved in human smuggling, arms smuggling, money laundering and other crimes. Due to the confluence of these Mexican criminal gangs, Phoenix has now become the kidnapping-for-ransom capital of the United States. According to a Phoenix Police Department source, the department received 368 kidnapping reports last year. As we discussed last week, kidnapping is a highly underreported crime in places such as Mexico, making it very difficult to measure accurately. Based upon experience with kidnapping statistics in other parts of the world — specifically Latin America — it would not be unreasonable to assume that there were at least as many unreported kidnappings in Phoenix as there are reported kidnappings.

At present, the kidnapping environment in the United States is very different from that of Mexico, Guatemala or Colombia. In those countries, kidnapping runs rampant and has become a well-developed industry with a substantial established infrastructure. Police corruption and incompetence ensures that kidnappers are rarely caught or successfully prosecuted.

A variety of motives can lie behind kidnappings. In the United States, crime statistics demonstrate that motives such as sexual exploitation, custody disputes and short-term kidnapping for robbery have far surpassed the number of reported kidnappings conducted for ransom. In places like Mexico, kidnapping for ransom is much more common.

The FBI handles kidnapping investigations in the United States. It has developed highly sophisticated teams of agents and resources to devote to investigating this type of crime. Local police departments are also far more proficient and professional in the United States than in Mexico. Because of the advanced capabilities of law enforcement in the United States, the overwhelming majority of criminals involved in kidnapping-for-ransom cases reported to police — between 95 percent and 98 percent — are caught and convicted. There are also stiff federal penalties for kidnapping. Because of this, kidnapping for ransom has become a relatively rare crime in the United States.

Most kidnapping for ransom that does happen in the United States occurs within immigrant communities. In these cases, the perpetrators and victims belong to the same immigrant group (e.g., Chinese Triad gangs kidnapping the families of Chinese businesspeople, or Haitian criminals kidnapping Haitian immigrants) — which is what is happening in Phoenix. The vast majority of the 368 known kidnapping victims in Phoenix are Mexican and Central American immigrants who are being victimized by Mexican or Mexican-American criminals.

The problem in Phoenix involves two main types of kidnapping. One is the abduction of drug dealers or their children, the other is the abduction of illegal aliens.

Drug-related kidnappings often are not strict kidnappings for ransom per se. Instead, they are intended to force the drug dealer to repay a debt to the drug trafficking organization that ordered the kidnapping.

Nondrug-related kidnappings are very different from traditional kidnappings in Mexico or the United States, in which a high-value target is abducted and held for a large ransom. Instead, some of the gangs operating in Phoenix are basing their business model on volume, and are willing to hold a large number of victims for a much smaller individual pay out. Reports have emerged of kidnapping gangs in Phoenix carjacking entire vans full of illegal immigrants away from the coyote smuggling them into the United States. The kidnappers then transport the illegal immigrants to a safe house, where they are held captive in squalid conditions — and often tortured or sexually assaulted with a family member listening in on the phone — to coerce the victims’ family members in the United States or Mexico to pay the ransom for their release. There are also reports of the gangs picking up vehicles full of victims at day labor sites and then transporting them to the kidnapping safe house rather than to the purported work site.

Drug-related kidnappings are less frequent than the nondrug-related abduction of illegal immigrants, but in both types of abductions, the victims are not likely to seek police assistance due to their immigration status or their involvement in illegal activity. This strongly suggests the kidnapping problem greatly exceeds the number of cases reported to police.

Implications for the United States
The kidnapping gangs in Phoenix that target illegal immigrants have found their chosen crime to be lucrative and relatively risk-free. If the flow of illegal immigrants had continued at high levels, there is very little doubt the kidnappers’ operations would have continued as they have for the past few years. The current economic downturn, however, means the flow of illegal immigrants has begun to slow — and by some accounts has even begun to reverse. (Reports suggest many Mexicans are returning home after being unable to find jobs in the United States.)

This reduction in the pool of targets means that we might be fast approaching a point where these groups, which have become accustomed to kidnapping as a source of easy money — and their primary source of income — might be forced to change their method of operating to make a living. While some might pursue other types of criminal activity, some might well decide to diversify their pool of victims. Watching for this shift in targeting is of critical importance. Were some of these gangs to begin targeting U.S. citizens rather than just criminals or illegal immigrants, a tremendous panic would ensue, along with demands to catch the perpetrators.

Such a shift would bring a huge amount of law enforcement pressure onto the kidnapping gangs, to include the FBI. While the FBI is fairly hard-pressed for resources given its heavy counterterrorism, foreign counterintelligence and white-collar crime caseload, it almost certainly would be able to reassign the resources needed to respond to such kidnappings in the face of publicity and a public outcry. Such a law enforcement effort could neutralize these gangs fairly quickly, but probably not quickly enough to prevent any victims from being abducted or harmed.

Since criminal groups are not comprised of fools alone, at least some of these groups will realize that targeting soccer moms will bring an avalanche of law enforcement attention upon them. Therefore, it is very likely that if kidnapping targets become harder to find in Phoenix — or if the law enforcement environment becomes too hostile due to the growing realization of this problem — then the groups may shift geography rather than targeting criteria. In such a scenario, professional kidnapping gangs from Phoenix might migrate to other locations with large communities of Latin American illegal immigrants to victimize. Some of these locations could be relatively close to the Mexican border like Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, San Diego or Los Angeles, though they could also include locations farther inland like Chicago, Atlanta, New York, or even the communities around meat and poultry packing plants in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic states. Such a migration of ethnic criminals would not be unprecedented: Chinese Triad groups from New York for some time have traveled elsewhere on the East Coast, like Atlanta, to engage in extortion and kidnapping against Chinese businessmen there.

The issue of Mexican drug-traffic organizations kidnapping in the United States merits careful attention, especially since criminal gangs in other areas of the country could start imitating the tactics of the Phoenix gangs.
27554  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: February 25, 2009, 02:11:49 PM
This guy is going to make Jimmy Carter look like a warmongering genius.  We just threw away everything Israel just accomplished.    cry cry cry
27555  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Recommended by an astute Indian friend on: February 25, 2009, 02:09:38 PM
For those intertested in Af-Pak-India affairs two perceptive sites...which have a good track record...
27556  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Divisions amongst the Palestinians on: February 25, 2009, 01:48:41 PM
Geopolitical Diary: Public Divisions Among the Palestinians
February 24, 2009

Hamas said on Monday that a delegation led by the group’s No. 2 official, Moussa Abu Marzouk, would attend Egyptian-sponsored talks with rival group Fatah in Cairo on Tuesday. In addition to the Hamas-Fatah negotiations, Cairo will be hosting a conference of 13 Palestinian factions who will discuss the future of the Fatah-dominated Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Even as Hamas and Fatah prepared for the talks, relations between the two remained tense, with Hamas accusing the Fatah-dominated Palestinian National Authority of collaborating with Israel during the recent Gaza offensive.

There has been, in effect, a civil war within the Palestinian community for years, pitting two radically different visions of Palestine against each other. The older tradition represented by Fatah was secular and socialist, and above all, pan-Arab. Islam was incidental to what it believed, and in some ways it was hostile to Islam, and to Islamic states like Saudi Arabia. Fatah derived its existence from Egypt under Gamal Abdul Nasser and was part of his historic alignment with the Soviet Union. Indeed, during the 1970s in particular, Fatah itself was closely aligned with the Soviet Union. It represented a very different Palestine from the one Hamas has in mind.

Hamas’ roots run to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the largest opposition movement in Egypt. Hamas is not in any way secular or socialist or pan-Arab. It sees itself as religious, supporting traditional society, and celebrating an Islamism that goes beyond the Arab world. It sees the traditional enemies of Fatah — the conservative monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula — as its friends.

Apart from sharing a Palestinian identity and hostility to Israel, Hamas and Fatah have little in common and much to divide them. For Fatah, the struggle for statehood is part of a secular ideological imperative. Therefore, there is an element of flexibility built into its attitude. In the end, its mission does not come from Allah. Hamas’ mission does come from Allah, and this limits what they can concede and bargain away.

But more than that, Hamas is a movement in Gaza; Fatah now dominates the West Bank. These are two utterly different environments. Gaza is a city, not a region. It is a vast slum which has a minimal economy and which, in the end, survives on charity and foreign aid. The Palestinians in Gaza have little room to maneuver, little room for compromise and less to lose. They are trapped in an untenable position, and surrounded by two enemies: Israel and Egypt. Gaza is a natural fit for Hamas.

The West Bank, for all of its shortcomings, is a very different place. It is a region with distinct towns and villages, many with diverse outlooks and interest. There is a vast chasm between Hebron’s militancy and Jericho’s relative quiet. Governing the West Bank is a complex balancing act with multiple players that need to be satisfied. It would be wrong to say that the region is inherently moderate; it isn’t. But it is a region whose politics are sufficiently complex that it can be governed only with flexibility. It is also a region that is not devoid of options with regard to Israel or its other enemy, Jordan.

Therefore, the difference between Hamas and Fatah is partly a difference in ideology but also a difference in geography. It is ironic to think of Fatah as moderate, given its role from Munich to Beirut. But at the same time, Fatah was never locked into a position the way Hamas is.

The current tensions between Fatah and Hamas are not new; the two sides have been at war for years. Though a stalemate of sorts exists between them, Hamas wants to supplant Fatah. It is unlikely that Hamas can do that. Hamas is at home in Gaza. It is far less at home in the West Bank. What Hamas has done, however, is give Israel precisely what it wanted. There is now a very public civil war between the two Palestinian regions and factions. Hamas clearly thinks it has an opening, given the aging leadership of Fatah and the movement’s lack of charisma. But Fatah is a mature and wily entity. It won’t go gently into that good night — and it has the support, ironically, of Israel and many Arab countries worried about the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood-type Islamism.

Hamas will not defeat Fatah quickly — and the longer the struggle continues, the more Israel benefits.
27557  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 25, 2009, 01:47:22 PM
Very interesting.
27558  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: February 25, 2009, 01:02:48 PM
If America and the American Creed are to survive, those of us who still "get it" must stand strong and make the case.  When others lose their heads, we must keep ours and make the case.    The gathering clusterfcuk will cure a lot of people of believing in the liberal fascist tooth fairy-- we must be able to show that we saw what was happening, called it, and stood by our principles-- and show them the way to apply them to our situations.

I hope this forum contributes to our cause.
27559  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jindall on: February 25, 2009, 12:58:04 PM
"Democratic leaders say their legislation will grow the economy. What it will do is grow the government, increase our taxes down the line and saddle future generations with debt. Who among us would ask our children for a loan, so we could spend money we do not have, on things we do not need? That is precisely what the Democrats in Congress just did. It's irresponsible. And it's no way to strengthen our economy, create jobs or build a prosperous future for our children." --Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in his rebuttal to Obama's address Tuesday night
27560  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Webster on: February 25, 2009, 12:45:58 PM
"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States."

--Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, 10 October 1787
27561  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin on: February 25, 2009, 12:18:49 PM
Good piece BBG!

Here's this on the white version of Oreos  cheesy
27562  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Grandfathers Speak Vol. 2: Sonny Umpad on: February 25, 2009, 11:59:41 AM
The pics of Maestro Sonny and me are from Dieter Knuetel (sp?) and Alfred Plath's big shindig several years ago in Dusseldorf Germany (A "20 masters under one roof for one weekend" sort of thing).    Great fun!  Given the nature of such an event, it was expenses only for us and Germany is a long trip from Los Angeles.  I can honestly say that seeing that Maestro Sonny would be there was the key factor in my decision to go.  I had heard rumors that intrigued me and made sure to schedule my day so that I could check him out.

He recognized me and was very kind and gracious.  A very gentle demeanor.  His "pendulum" training method is conceptually quite similar to our "metronome" and so we were able to achieve a base level of training rapport quite quickly.  He gracefully and effortlessly established some serious angles on me.  The amount of distance he could glide was quite amazing.  When we did knife he did standard grip reverse edge-- which I had never before experienced in the hands of someone who knew what he was doing.  shocked

I asked if he would teach me and he laughed and said he would rather exchange techniques.  I think I may have blushed a tad. cheesy
He gave me his address, but in one of the larger stupidities of my life I failed to follow up.  I was in LA and he was in Oakland and as the years went by it was always "I'll get to this next month". cry

I got word of his lung cancer from one of his students.  In such a moment one wants to be sure to not intrude or be the ghoul, and at the same time, it is a last opportunity.  I had his student ask if he would be interested in doing a Grandfathers 2 with us and was informed he was quite eager to begin.

Things were set up and Ron "Night Owl" Gabriel and I drove up.  As we entered his living room/training hall, I was moved to see that he had a picture of the two of us together in Dusseldorf.

It was a very special day as is students came to perform for him one last time.

Maestro Sonny's dignity and composure throughout the day moved me greatly-- off the top of my head I cannot think of a greater lesson than that.

The Adventure continues, , ,
Crafty Dog
27563  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Team Dog Brothers MMA? on: February 25, 2009, 11:42:20 AM
Welcome to our campfire Blackwolf.
27564  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Stratfor on: February 25, 2009, 11:39:14 AM
?Se puede entender esas traducciones de computadora?

El Memorándum de la Seguridadde México: Febrero. 23, 2009
El 23 de febrero de 2009 | 2248 GMT

•   Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
El convoy del gobernador de chihuahua atacó

Cuando violencia organizada de crimen-relacionó continuó a través de México esto semana pasada, el número de víctimas del país para los primeros 51 días de 2009 subió arriba 1.000, según marcas mantenidas por salidas mexicanas de noticias. Mientras esto es el más temprano en un año común que la 1.000 marca ha sido alcanzada, representa un ligeramente más despacio ritmo que los meses finales de 2008, cuando el número de homicidios subió de 3.000 a 4.000 en 48 días y de 4.000 a 5.000 en 42 días.

La violencia continuó en ciudades mexicanas por la frontera de EEUU y en otra parte; un incidente especialmente digno de mención ocurrió en chihuahua, estado de chihuahua, cuando varios hombres armados cambiaron disparo de fusil con guardaespaldas que protegen al gobernador de estado de chihuahua. El incidente ocurrió la tarde de febrero. 22 como el gobernador conducía a su casa después de hacer una visita personal, que él fue descrito haciendo como todos los domingos nocturno. El gobernador conducía supuestamente su propio vehículo blindado y fue acompañado por un viajes de detalle de seguridad en dos otros vehículos.

Según información soltada por el gobernador, como su convoy se acercó una luz de detención, uno de los guardas de seguridad del gobernador parados aproximadamente cinco hombres armados que viajan en dos vehículos cerca. Los funcionarios dijeron que después de los guardaespaldas paraban los dos vehículos sospechosos e identificaban a sí mismo como policías — los agentes no como protectores asignaron al gobernador — Los hombres en los vehículos sospechosos abrieron fuego sobre ellos. Durante el tiroteo el gobernador logró marcharse ileso, pero el cambio de disparo de fusil dejó por lo menos un agente protector muerto y dos herido. Varios informes indican que todos los pistoleros lograron escapar, aunque por lo menos uno fue creído haber sido herido durante el tiroteo.

Basado en la información disponible, es difícil de concluir que esto fue de hecho un ataque en el gobernador. Verdaderamente, el gobernador acentúa que sus agentes protectores identificaron a sí mismo como policías parecidos pensaron implicar que los pistoleros pensaron que ellos atacaban simplemente a policías — apenas excepcional en chihuahua — Y fueron ignorante que el gobernador estuvo cerca. Que el vehículo del gobernador aparentemente no fue atacado presta creencia a esta teoría, aunque soporta mencionar que en muchos asesinato anterior procura en México que detalles de la seguridad del objetivo fueron neutralizados antes los objetivos fueron atacados.

A pesar de estos detalles, varios aspectos de este caso sugieren que fue mucho más que coincidencia. Que el gobernador pareció haber seguido una pauta rutinaria de viaje lo habría hecho vulnerable atacar en aquel momento. Además, el gobernador había recibido varias amenazas en el pasado, inclusive banderas que parecieron fuera de su residencia el año pasado lo denominando y el fiscal general apoyando como a rivales del cártel de Sinaloa. Los incidentes como este oso vigilancia cuidadosa, especialmente en el contexto de ataques de cártel contra funcionarios del estado de alto rango en México, que ha dejado muchos federal, el estado y funcionarios locales muertos pero tiene mas reclamar la vida de un gobernador.

Trafico de drogas marítimo de droga

La marina mexicana soltó nueva información esto semana pasada con respecto al febrero. 12 toma de un barco pesquero de mexicano Señaló cargado con unos 7 toneladas de cocaína. Según funcionarios, el barco fue discernido inicialmente y fue parado por el Servicio de guardacostas de EEUU a más de 700 millas la costa mexicana. Las autoridades del Servicio de guardacostas de EEUU abordar el buque sospechoso, lo inspeccionó, descubrió la cocaína y custodia transferida del barco y cuatro miembros de tripulación mexicanos a la marina mexicana en aguas territoriales mexicanas. Los funcionarios indicaron aún más que cuatro miembros de tripulación fueron del estado de Sinaloa, y que el barco fue registrado en el puerto de Mazatlan, estado de Sinaloa. Los funcionarios dijeron el barco navegado de Mazatlan durante los primeros pocos días de febrero.

Este incidente soporta varias similitudes a la última toma marítima a gran escala de cocaína de la costa de México. Durante el incidente anterior, en septiembre 2008, la marina mexicana prohibió un barco pesquero de Mazatlan-Registró tripulado por mexicano nacional y cargó con unos 4 toneladas de cocaína de la costa de estado de Oaxaca. Cuando en el incidente más reciente, el barco fue captado dentro de semanas de la vela de Mazatlan.

En ambos casos es poco claro donde los barcos habían viajado, aunque la cantidad de cocaína a bordo de sugiere que ellos recibieron sus cargas en un país de fuente — como Perú o Colombia — Y no un pasillo de tránsito como América Central. Otra posibilidad probable no es que los barcos habían recibido sus embarques en la tierra pero en el mar, habiendo transferido la cocaína de otro barco — Quizás un buque media sumergible colombiano. Varios tales barcos han sido sabidos entregar embarques directamente a puertos mexicanos, mientras otros hacen con frecuencia entregas en aguas internacionales. Es difícil de dibujar ninguna conclusión sin más información en la gama de los buques y capacidades de velocidad, pero en el tiempo corto entre la salida de los barcos de México y su captura sugiere que ellos no habrían tenido suficiente tiempo de viajar completamente a Sudamérica.

Asumir que el mismo cártel mexicano de droga participó en ambos casos, parece que a pesar de la pérdida del embarque de septiembre, los negociantes lograron poseer los recursos, las conexiones y el consentimiento para continuar utilizar los métodos semejantes de contrabando y rutas. Además, estos incidentes subrayan el enfoque diversificado que negociantes mexicanos toman a contrabando cocaína de Sudamérica a México; envío aún como terrestre por América Central ha aumentado durante los últimos 18 meses, estos incidentes lo hacen vacía ese trafico de drogas marítimo de droga se queda vivo y bien.

Febrero. 16
•   Un funcionario del estado de Guadalupe, estado de chihuahua, se murió cuando ella fue muchas veces de disparo en una tienda.

Febrero. 17
•   Un tiroteo en Reynosa, estado de Tamaulipas, Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, Dejó por lo menos siete personas muertas. Varios informes sugieren que miembro de cártel de Golfo Hector Manuel Sauceda Gamboa se murió durante el incidente. El tiroteo ocurrió el mismo día esas protestas anti militar — supuestamente organizado droga-traficar con drogas organizaciones — Sucedió en Tamaulipas y dos otros estados.
•   A El jefe de la policía del diputado en Ciudad Juarez, estado de chihuahua, se murió cuando él fue muchas veces de disparo. Dos de sus guardaespaldas también se murieron durante el ataque.
•   A Custodie a comandante en Cardenas, estado de Tabasco, se murió cuando él fue disparo varias veces por hombres armados en dos vehículos como él llegó en su casa.
•   A La serie de tiroteos en Torreon, estado de Coahuila, dejó a unos seis personas muertas. La policía dijo que los varios incidentes parecen implicar el mismo grupo de criminales que viajan en un vehículo.

Febrero. 18
•   Varios hombres armaron con rifles de asalto disparó y mató a un hombre no identificado en Reynosa, estado de Tamaulipas, como él salió su vehículo.
•   Authorities En Zihuatanejo, estado de Guerrero, encontró los cuerpos de dos hombres no identificados envueltos en mantas dentro de un coche.
•   Police Culiacan cercano, estado de Sinaloa, encontró el cuerpo de un hombre no identificado con varios escopetazos que están luego a dos vehículos abandonados del lujo.

Febrero. 19
•   Por lo menos siete personas fueron informadas matado en el estado de chihuahua, inclusive cuatro en Ciudad Juarez. Las matanzas traen el suma del estado para febrero a 160, superando el suma de enero de 159.

Febrero. 20
•   Dos hombres fueron detenidos Tuxtla Gutierrez cercano, estado de Chiapas, en la posesión de 66 granadas de fragmentación, que ellos dijeron que ellos planeaban transportar a Morelia, estado de Michoacan. Las granadas parecidas haber sido fabricadas por Israel y vendidos al gobierno guatemalteco.
•   Two Los hombres abrieron fuego sobre un vehículo que pertenece al comité eléctrico federal en Comitan, estado de Chiapas.
•   At Menos cuatro hombres fueron informados matado en incidentes separados en Tijuana, estado de Baja California. En un caso, el cuerpo de un hombre con varios escopetazos fue encontrado dentro de un vehículo.
•   The Custodie a jefe en Ciudad Juarez, estado de chihuahua, dimitió de su posición entre amenazas que más policías serían matados si él se quedó en su posición.

Febrero. 21
•   Un grupo de hombres mucho armados tiró dos granadas en un edificio de policía en Zihuatanejo, estado de Guerrero, hiriendo por lo menos cinco personas.
•   A El tiroteo entre dos grupos criminales en Nuevo pueblo, estado de Durango, dejó a unos 10 personas muertas.

27565  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: February 25, 2009, 11:34:42 AM
Mexico Security Memo: Feb. 23, 2009
Stratfor Today » February 23, 2009 | 2248 GMT
Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
Chihuahua governor’s convoy attacked

As organized crime-related violence continued throughout Mexico this past week, the country’s death toll for the first 51 days of 2009 rose above 1,000, according to tallies maintained by Mexican news outlets. While this is the earliest in a calendar year that the 1,000 mark has been reached, it represents a slightly slower pace than the final months of 2008, when the number of homicides rose from 3,000 to 4,000 in 48 days and from 4,000 to 5,000 in 42 days.

Violence continued in Mexican cities along the U.S. border and elsewhere; one particularly noteworthy incident occurred in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state, when several armed men exchanged gunfire with bodyguards protecting the Chihuahua state governor. The incident occurred the evening of Feb. 22 as the governor was driving to his home after making a personal visit, which he was described as doing every Sunday evening. The governor reportedly was driving his own armored vehicle and was escorted by a security detail traveling in two other vehicles.

According to information released by the governor, as his convoy approached a stoplight, one of the governor’s security guards stopped approximately five armed men traveling in two vehicles nearby. Officials said that after the bodyguards stopped the two suspect vehicles and identified themselves as police officers — not as protective agents assigned to the governor — the men in the suspect vehicles opened fire on them. During the firefight the governor managed to drive off unhurt, but the exchange of gunfire left at least one protective agent dead and two wounded. Several reports indicate that all of the gunmen managed to escape, though at least one was believed to have been wounded during the firefight.

Based on the available information, it is difficult to conclude that this was in fact an attack on the governor. Indeed, the governor’s emphasizing that his protective agents identified themselves as police officers seemed intended to imply that the gunmen thought they were simply attacking police officers — hardly unusual in Chihuahua — and were unaware that the governor was nearby. That the governor’s vehicle was apparently not attacked lends credence to this theory, though it bears mentioning that in many previous assassination attempts in Mexico the target’s security details were neutralized before the targets were attacked.

Despite these details, several aspects of this case suggest it was much more than coincidence. That the governor appeared to have been following a routine travel pattern would have made him vulnerable to attack at that time. In addition, the governor had received several threats in the past, including banners that appeared outside his residence last year naming him and the attorney general as supporting rivals of the Sinaloa cartel. Incidents such as this bear careful monitoring, especially in the context of cartel attacks against high-ranking government officials in Mexico, which have left many federal, state and local officials dead but have yet to claim the life of a governor.

Maritime drug trafficking

The Mexican navy released new information this past week regarding the Feb. 12 seizure of a Mexican-flagged fishing boat loaded with some 7 tons of cocaine. According to officials, the boat was initially detected and stopped by the U.S. Coast Guard more than 700 miles off the Mexican coast. U.S. Coast Guard authorities boarded the suspect vessel, inspected it, discovered the cocaine and transferred custody of the boat and four Mexican crew members to the Mexican navy in Mexican territorial waters. Officials further stated that all four crew members were from Sinaloa state, and that the boat was registered in the port city of Mazatlan, Sinaloa state. Officials said the boat sailed from Mazatlan during the first few days of February.

This incident bears several similarities to the last large-scale maritime seizure of cocaine off the coast of Mexico. During the previous incident, in September 2008, the Mexican navy interdicted a Mazatlan-registered fishing boat manned by Mexican nationals and loaded with some 4 tons of cocaine off the coast of Oaxaca state. As in the most recent incident, the boat was captured within weeks of sailing from Mazatlan.

In both cases it is unclear where the boats had traveled, though the quantity of cocaine aboard suggests that they received their loads in a source country — such as Peru or Colombia — and not a transit corridor like Central America. Another likely possibility is that the boats had received their shipments not on land but at sea, having transferred the cocaine from another boat — perhaps a Colombian semi-submersible vessel. Several such boats have been known to deliver shipments directly to Mexican ports, while others frequently make deliveries in international waters. It is difficult to draw any conclusions without more information on the vessels’ range and speed capabilities, but the short time between the boats’ departure from Mexico and their capture suggests that they would not have had enough time to travel all the way to South America.

Assuming that the same Mexican drug cartel was involved in both cases, it appears that despite the loss of the September shipment, the traffickers managed to possess the resources, connections and willingness to continue using the similar smuggling methods and routes. Furthermore, these incidents underscore the diversified approach that Mexican traffickers take to smuggling cocaine from South America to Mexico; even as overland shipping through Central America has increased during the last 18 months, these incidents make it clear that maritime drug trafficking remains alive and well.

Click to view map

Feb. 16
A government official from Guadalupe, Chihuahua state, died when she was shot multiple times in a store.

Feb. 17
A gunbattle in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, left at least seven people dead. Several reports suggest that Gulf cartel member Hector Manuel Sauceda Gamboa died during the incident. The firefight occurred the same day that anti-military protests — allegedly organized by drug-trafficking organizations — took place in Tamaulipas and two other states.
A deputy police chief in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, died when he was shot multiple times. Two of his bodyguards also died during the attack.
A police commander in Cardenas, Tabasco state, died when he was shot several times by armed men in two vehicles as he arrived at his home.
A series of firefights in Torreon, Coahuila state, left some six people dead. Police said the various incidents appear to involve the same group of criminals traveling in a vehicle.

Feb. 18
Several men armed with assault rifles shot and killed an unidentified man in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, as he exited his vehicle.
Authorities in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero state, found the bodies of two unidentified men wrapped in blankets inside a car.
Police near Culiacan, Sinaloa state, found the body of one unidentified man with several gunshot wounds lying next to two abandoned luxury vehicles.

Feb. 19
At least seven people were reported killed in Chihuahua state, including four in Ciudad Juarez. The killings bring the state’s total for February to 160, surpassing January’s total of 159.

Feb. 20
Two men were arrested near Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas state, in possession of 66 fragmentation grenades, which they said they planned to transport to Morelia, Michoacan state. The grenades appeared to have been manufactured by Israel and sold to the Guatemalan government.
Two men opened fire on a vehicle belonging to the federal electrical committee in Comitan, Chiapas state.
At least four men were reported killed in separate incidents in Tijuana, Baja California state. In one case, the body of a man with several gunshot wounds was found inside a vehicle.
The police chief in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, resigned from his position amid threats that more police officers would be killed if he remained in his position.

Feb. 21
A group of heavily armed men threw two grenades at a police building in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero state, wounding at least five people.
A firefight between two criminal groups in Pueblo Nuevo, Durango state, left some 10 people dead.
27566  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Looking for fighters for stickfighting TV series on: February 25, 2009, 11:28:07 AM
Sounds like you are assuming the show will be "TUF with sticks".  While that certainly is one of the ideas under consideration, there are  , , , others. wink grin
27567  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / 3 smiling bodies on: February 24, 2009, 06:57:47 PM
Three dead bodies turn up at the morgue, all with very big smiles on their


The coroner calls the police to tell them what has happened.

The Coroner tells the Inspector, "First body is a 72 year old Frenchman.

He died of heart failure while with his mistress.

Hence the enormous smile."

"Second body is an Irishman, 25 years of age.

He won a thousand dollars on the lottery and spent it all on whiskey.

Died of alcohol poisoning, hence the smile.

Inspector asked, "What of the third body?"

"Ah," says the coroner, "This is the most unusual one.

Nancy Pelosi, Democrat, Speaker of the House, 66, struck by lightning."

"Why is she smiling then?" inquires the Inspector.

"Thought she was having her picture taken."
27568  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Team Dog Brothers MMA? on: February 24, 2009, 06:55:00 PM
Woof All:

I'm pulling on my own leash with regard to this lest I get too excited too soon, but this is something for which I have been WAITING for quite some time now , , ,

The Adventure continues!
Guro Crafty
27569  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / With nary a blip on the radar, the derangement continues , , , on: February 24, 2009, 04:24:13 PM

Looks like BO-Clinton are going to give $.9 Billion to Hamas/Gaza.   shocked angry cry

The madness continues , , ,  cry
27570  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Grannis! on: February 24, 2009, 01:44:05 PM
Several calm and reasoned and well researched posts from Scott Grannis on his blog-- which is always a must read:

For the record, I am not sure I agree, I fear the lunacies of His Glibness are driving things into deep and dangerous waters, but Scott is always to be considered seriously.
27571  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: KALI TUDO (tm) Article on: February 24, 2009, 01:37:41 PM
My good friend the Poz was a nationally competitive wrestler, unusually strong even by the standards of wrestling, and part of the backyard crew when the Gracies and the Machados were still together.  He was a professional bounty hunter, a man of much adventure, and is a BB under Rigan Machado.  More than particular technique, what I have learned from the Poz comes from stories he has shared and conversations we have had.
27572  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / An eye for an eye on: February 24, 2009, 01:30:28 PM
Sorry I don't have a URL for this. 

Reactions anyone?

She turned around and was startled to see Movahedi. A moment later came the agonizing pain. Movahedi had thrown something over her. What felt like fire on her face was acid searing through her skin.

"I was just yelling, 'I'm burning! I'm burning! For God's sake, somebody help me!' "

The acid seeped into Bahrami's eyes and streamed down her face and into her mouth. When she covered her face with her hands, streaks of acid ran down her fingers and onto her forearms.

Two weeks after the attack, Movahedi turned himself in to police and confessed in court. He was convicted in 2005 and has been behind bars all along.

Bahrami's lawyer, Ali Sarrafi, said Movahedi had never shown any remorse. "He says he did it because he loved her," Sarrafi said.

Attack victims in Iran usually accept "blood money": a fine in lieu of harsh punishment. With no insurance and mounting medical bills, Bahrami could've used the cash, but she said no.

"I told the judge I want an eye for an eye," Bahrami said. "People like him should be made to feel my suffering."

Bahrami's demand has outraged some human rights activists. Criticizing acid-attack victims is almost unheard of, but some Internet bloggers have condemned Bahrami's decision.

"We cannot condone such cruel punishment," wrote one blogger. "To willingly inflict the same treatment on a person under court order is a violation of human rights."

Late last year, an Iranian court gave Bahrami what she asked for. It sentenced Movahedi to be blinded with drops of acid in each eye. This month, the courts rejected Movahedi's appeal.

Bahrami's lawyer, Sarrafi, said the sentencing might be carried out in a matter of weeks. He said he doesn't think Bahrami will change her mind. Neither does Bahrami.
27573  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: The Coming Swarm on: February 24, 2009, 01:25:35 PM
With three Afghan government ministries in Kabul hit by simultaneous suicide attacks this week, by a total of just eight terrorists, it seems that a new “Mumbai model” of swarming, smaller-scale terrorist violence is emerging.

The basic concept is that hitting several targets at once, even with just a few fighters at each site, can cause fits for elite counterterrorist forces that are often manpower-heavy, far away and organized to deal with only one crisis at a time. This approach certainly worked in Mumbai, India, last November, where five two-man teams of Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives held the city hostage for two days, killing 179 people. The Indian security forces, many of which had to be flown in from New Delhi, simply had little ability to strike back at more than one site at a time.

While it’s true that the assaults in Kabul seem to be echoes of Mumbai, the fact is that Al Qaeda and its affiliates have been using these sorts of swarm tactics for several years. Jemaah Islamiyah — the group responsible for the Bali nightclub attack that killed 202 people in 2002 — mounted simultaneous attacks on 16 Christian churches in Indonesia on Christmas Eve in 2000, befuddling security forces.

Even 9/11 itself had swarm-like characteristics, as four small teams of Qaeda operatives simultaneously seized commercial aircraft and turned them into missiles, flummoxing all our defensive responses. In the years since, Al Qaeda has coordinated swarm attacks in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen and elsewhere. And at the height of the insurgency in Iraq, terrorists repeatedly used swarms on targets as small as truck convoys and as large as whole cities.

This pattern suggests that Americans should brace for a coming swarm. Right now, most of our cities would be as hard-pressed as Mumbai was to deal with several simultaneous attacks. Our elite federal and military counterterrorist units would most likely find their responses slowed, to varying degrees, by distance and the need to clarify jurisdiction.

While the specifics of the federal counterterrorism strategy are classified, what is in the public record indicates that the plan contemplates having to deal with as many as three sites being simultaneously hit and using “overwhelming force” against the terrorists, which probably means mustering as many as 3,000 ground troops to the site. If that’s an accurate picture, it doesn’t bode well. We would most likely have far too few such elite units for dealing with a large number of small terrorist teams carrying out simultaneous attacks across a region or even a single city.

Nightmare possibilities include synchronized assaults on several shopping malls, high-rise office buildings or other places that have lots of people and relatively few exits. Another option would be to set loose half a dozen two-man sniper teams in some metropolitan area — you only have to recall the havoc caused by the Washington sniper in 2002 to imagine how huge a panic a slightly larger version of that form of terrorism would cause.

So how are swarms to be countered? The simplest way is to create many more units able to respond to simultaneous, small-scale attacks and spread them around the country. This means jettisoning the idea of overwhelming force in favor of small units that are not “elite” but rather “good enough” to tangle with terrorist teams. In dealing with swarms, economizing on force is essential.

We’ve actually had a good test case in Iraq over the past two years. Instead of responding to insurgent attacks by sending out large numbers of troops from distant operating bases, the military strategy is now based on hundreds of smaller outposts in which 40 or 50 American troops are permanently stationed and prepared to act swiftly against attackers. Indeed, their very presence in Iraqi communities is a big deterrent. It’s small surprise that overall violence across Iraq has dropped by about 80 percent in that period.

For the defense of American cities against terrorist swarms, the key would be to use local police officers as the first line of defense instead of relying on the military. The first step would be to create lots of small counterterrorism posts throughout urban areas instead of keeping police officers in large, centralized precinct houses. This is consistent with existing notions of community-based policing, and could even include an element of outreach to residents similar to that undertaken in the Sunni areas of Iraq — even if it were to mean taking the paradoxical turn of negotiating with gangs about security.

At the federal level, we should stop thinking in terms of moving thousands of troops across the country and instead distribute small response units far more widely. Cities, states and Washington should work out clear rules in advance for using military forces in a counterterrorist role, to avoid any bickering or delay during a crisis. Reserve and National Guard units should train and field many more units able to take on small teams of terrorist gunmen and bombers. Think of them as latter-day Minutemen.

Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and Yemen all responded to Qaeda attacks with similar “packetizing” initiatives involving the police and armed forces; and while that hasn’t eliminated swarm attacks, the terrorists have been far less effective and many lives have been saved.

As for Afghanistan, where the swarm has just arrived, there is still time to realize the merits of forming lots of small units and sprinkling them about in a countrywide network of outposts. As President Obama looks to send more troops to that war, let’s make sure the Pentagon does it the right way.

Yes, the swarm will be heading our way, too. We need to get smaller, closer and quicker. The sooner the better.

John Arquilla teaches in the special operations program at the Naval Postgraduate School and is the author of “Worst Enemy: The Reluctant Transformation of the American Military.”

27574  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Swiss about to self-castrate? on: February 24, 2009, 12:20:20 PM
Swiss soldiers face loss of right to store guns at home
Story Highlights
Swiss soldiers could lose their famous right to store their weapons at home

Coalition of groups get enough signatures for referendum on gun laws

They want weapons stored on bases and a national register
Next Article in World »

(CNN) -- Switzerland's part-time soldiers could lose their famous right to store their weapons at home.

Switzerland's part-time soldiers could lose the right to store their weapons at home.

A coalition led by the country's Social Democrat party and the Greens has collected nearly 120,000 signatures to force a national referendum on whether the weapons should be stored at military bases.

The coalition of 74 groups says the weapons are involved in too many suicides and murders in the country and tighter controls are needed.

Switzerland's armed forces consist of just a few thousand permanent full-time staff, with the rest essentially a militia.

Service in the militia is compulsory for men aged between 19 and 31 and in between call-ups they store their weapons at home. There are currently around 220,000 conscripts.

However, a 2007 law change banned the storage of ammunition in homes. The coalition is looking to extend this, control the purchase of military weapons and set up a national gun register.

Green lawmaker Josef Lang said more than 1.5 million unused weapons were kept in Swiss homes.

Lang said their presence "at the heart" of the population could not be justified.

He said a national register had to be created to keep track of the weapons, something police had long been seeking.

Lang said the weapons had to be "banished" from homes.

Barbara Weil, of the Swiss Medical Association, said it had been scientifically proven that if the guns were less freely available the number of suicides would drop.

The studies had also shown that other methods of suicide did not increase in countries who had brought in stricter gun controls.

The coalition estimates that 300 deaths annually are connected to gun use.
27575  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mayor of Juarez hiding in US. on: February 24, 2009, 12:06:05 PM
EL PASO - The El Paso Police Department is investigating alleged threats against Juárez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz, who reportedly moved his family to El Paso for safety reasons, Det. Carlos Carrillo said Monday.

"We received information that the Juárez mayor lives in El Paso, and that possibly they were going to come to El Paso to get him," Carrillo said. "He has not asked us for our help, but it's our duty to protect any resident of our city who may be under threat."

Juárez police said written threats against Reyes Ferriz and his family were left in different parts of Juárez after ex-police chief Roberto Orduña Cruz resigned Friday.

The threats were written on banners the Juárez drug cartel has used to send messages to the police and others.

In light of the threats, Juárez city spokesman Sergio Belmonte said the mayor has increased security for himself and other city officials.

Chihuahua state officials said they are going to call a news conference later Monday to provide more details about Sunday's shooting attack that killed one of Chihuahua Gov. Jose Reyes Baeza Terrazas' bodyguards.

The bodyguard who was killed while defending another state official was identified as Alejandro Chaparro Coronel.

Officials said one of the armed men who allegedly killed Chaparro was injured and taken to a hospital. The Chihuahua governor, who drove his own vehicle, with the bodyguards behind him, said earlier he did not know whether the attack was against him or stemmed from a traffic-related dispute between his guards and the armed suspects.

"We cannot speculate and will comment only about what we know," the governor said.

Fernando Alvarez Monge, Chihuahua state coordinator of Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) called for "a speedy, transparent and efficient investigation into the attack against the Chihuahua governor's security convoy."

Reyes Baeza and Reyes Ferriz belong to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

In 2001, Patricio Martinez Garcia, the Chihuahua state governor at the time, survived an assassination attempt by the Juárez drug cartel.

The FBI had warned him in advance about the cartel's plans, and then President Vicente Fox blamed the cartel for the attack on Martinez. A Chihuahua state policewoman was imprisoned in connection with the attack.
27576  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Team Dog Brothers MMA? on: February 24, 2009, 11:53:30 AM
Straw Dog:

We'd be delighted to have you.

Guro Crafty
27577  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Wow! Good News! on: February 24, 2009, 09:24:36 AM
27578  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: September 20, 2009 Gathering on: February 24, 2009, 09:17:56 AM
Outstanding. cool  We'll be here for you.
27579  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 24, 2009, 01:07:12 AM
I disagree with this piece.  I disagree with "stimulus" in general.

Want to turn things around in a flash?

Abolish the capital gains tax.

Cut the corporate tax rate down to the level of other major economies (from 34% to low 20s) , or LESS!

Put the auto companies through Chapter 7-- let the unions make the same money as the workers at the Japanese factories here in America.

Let bankrupt banks go bankrupt.  Keep the depositers whole via the FDIC, let the bond holder and the stockholders be wiped out.

Repeal the BO-Pelosi "Stimulus" law.

Done.  Next problem?
27580  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: February 23, 2009, 11:53:35 PM
Thank you for bringing things back to the subject matter of the thread.
27581  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Philippines on: February 23, 2009, 11:11:10 PM
Glad to see you post this one Terry.  America has been long, long overdue.
27582  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Victim kills with attacker's knife on: February 23, 2009, 07:01:16 PM

BART holdup victim grabs knife, kills robber
Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, February 21, 2009

(02-20) 11:29 PST OAKLAND -- A 23-year-old visitor from the East Coast had just gotten money from an ATM when he told his friend on a cell phone that he had a bad feeling about two men approaching him at the Fruitvale BART Station in Oakland.

His worst fears were realized when one suspect, Victor Veliz, 18, held a folding knife with a 5-inch blade to his neck and the other, Christopher Gonzalez, 18, threatened to shoot him Thursday night, authorities said. In a blind panic, he lashed out at his attackers, grabbing the knife from one of them and punching the other as his friend listened in horror on the phone.

Without realizing it, authorities say, the man stabbed Gonzalez in the chest. Gonzalez stumbled to his family's home around the corner, collapsed into his father's arms and died.

Veliz, who is affiliated with a gang, was arrested at Gonzalez's home after police allegedly found him with the East Coast visitor's cell phone. He will be charged with murder in the death of his accomplice, along with a robbery count, prosecutors said.

The robbery victim suffered only cuts in fighting off his assailants. He ran from the station, flagged down an Oakland police officer on Fruitvale Avenue and turned over the bloody knife. His name was not released.

The man was "scared senseless" when he was attacked about 9:30 p.m. Thursday, said Allison Danzig, an Alameda County deputy district attorney. He acted in self-defense and will not be charged, she said. When police told him that Gonzalez had died, "he was very saddened and very upset," Danzig said.

Gonzalez's father, Javier Gonzalez, said Friday that his son had cried out for his parents and sister when he burst into his home on San Leandro Street. He died there.

Javier Gonzalez sobbed at the loss of his son, who worked with him in his roofing business and at Oakland Raiders games. "I'm angry at both of them," he said of the robbery victim and Veliz. "They took my son away from me. He was a hard-working kid." He added, "My son is dead. I want somebody to pay for this."

The incident wasn't the only violence near a BART station Thursday night. In Daly City, police said, a triple shooting outside the BART station that left one man dead and two others wounded may have resulted from a mistaken belief that the victims were gang members.

Two of the four men who were in a 1995 Buick Regal when the car was sprayed with bullets were wearing red baseball caps, and the color red is associated with a Latino gang, said Daly City police Lt. Jay Morena. But the victims were not gang members, Morena said. The dead man, a 21-year-old from San Francisco, has not been identified, and no arrests have been made.
27583  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Team Dog Brothers MMA? on: February 23, 2009, 06:20:18 PM
I'm thinking all individuals involved should be screened by me , , , lets take this to email or the next time we meet (Sunday?)
27584  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Uh, nevermind , , , on: February 23, 2009, 05:59:25 PM
Death to the Infidels! Uh, Never Mind.

London's Daily Telegraph reports that one of the founding fathers of contemporary Islamist terrorism has had a change of heart:

Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, who goes by the nom de guerre Dr Fadl, helped bin Laden create al-Qaeda and then led an Islamist insurgency in Egypt in the 1990s.  But in a book written from inside an Egyptian prison, he has launched a frontal attack on al-Qaeda's ideology and the personal failings of bin Laden and particularly his Egyptian deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Twenty years ago, Dr Fadl became al-Qaeda's intellectual figurehead with a crucial book setting out the rationale for global jihad against the West.

Today, however, he believes the murder of innocent people is both contrary to Islam and a strategic error. "Every drop of blood that was shed or is being shed in Afghanistan and Iraq is the responsibility of bin Laden and Zawahiri and their followers," writes Dr Fadl.
The Telegraph notes that terrorist movements often go through a "process of disintegration" that "begins with a senior leader publicly denouncing his old colleagues. Dr Fadl's missives may show that al-Qaeda has entered this vital stage." Vital would seem the wrong choice of adjective, though, wouldn't it?

27585  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 23, 2009, 05:27:11 PM
Good call.  We are now at levels not seen since 1997.  cry  Look out below! shocked
27586  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Team Dog Brothers MMA? on: February 23, 2009, 05:21:25 PM
If you guys would like to meet in the South Bay area, I think I could put together a couple of options (Boxing Works, Rigan's place, a couple of other things).
27587  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Team Dog Brothers MMA? on: February 23, 2009, 02:08:27 PM
Sisco is gently alluding to the interaction that Lyotto and I had together at RAW a few years ago. wink
27588  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: February 23, 2009, 12:47:21 PM

I see that our generals have asked for 34,000 or so additional troops and that President Barack Carter Obama is giving them 17,000 and today the NY Slimes reports that he will be looking to pay for the stimulus by cutting costs in Iraq and Afg.

What do you make of this?


Last year, Pakistanis in the northern Malakand district voted overwhelmingly for the country's secular parties, including the Pakistan People's Party of President Asif Ali Zardari. Last week, Mr. Zardari repaid the favor by agreeing to the imposition of Shariah law in the area and suspending military operations against an encroaching Taliban.

We would call this terrifying, but that may understate matters for the people of the region. For several years, the Taliban and its allies have sought to gain control of the district, particularly its scenic Swat valley, once a popular tourist destination. Gaining control, Taliban-style, meant fighting the Pakistani military to a standstill. It also meant blowing up 180 girls schools and publicly beheading locals who offended them, including barbers who dared trim customer beards.

The deal was struck with longtime insurgent leader Sufi Mohammed, who has been fighting to impose Shariah law for 40 years. Sufi Mohammed is said to be at loggerheads with his even more radical son-in-law, the Taliban-connected Maulana Fazlullah, and the government hopes that the concession of Shariah law could marginalize Fazlullah while the Pakistan Army girds for more fighting in the spring. The Pakistan government portrays the deal as little more than a tactical concession and, according to Information Minister Sherry Rahman, is "in no way a sign of the state's weakness."

Yet no sooner was the deal signed than a Pakistani journalist was murdered while covering a "peace march" organized by Sufi Mohammed -- the 20th journalist killed around Swat in two years. Fazlullah has also refused to honor the government's cease-fire beyond a 10-day period that expires later this week. Local residents who had reluctantly acquiesced in hopes of gaining some kind of peace may soon find themselves living with Shariah, without peace.

This cease-fire smacks of a similar deal the previous government of Pervez Musharraf arranged in Pakistan's tribal areas in 2006. That deal created a Taliban sanctuary and led to sharp increases in terrorist attacks, both in Afghanistan and the Pakistan heartland. Sufi Mohammed has signed three previous pacts with various Pakistani governments extending the writ of Islamic law. None mollified the extremists; each invited the next round of violent demands.

"Now that the Taliban have pressured the Frontier's provincial government and Islamabad into acquiescence in one part of the country, what is to stop them from replicating their designs elsewhere?" asks Murtaza Razvi, an editor with the Dawn newspaper. Good question. It doesn't induce confidence that the government capitulated even when it was fielding 10,000 troops against a Taliban force estimated at 2,000. If Pakistan's military can't defeat a militia 100 miles from Islamabad, its reputation as the country's one competent institution and guarantor of security will fast evaporate.

Mr. Zardari's government has heretofore shown a willingness to fight the Taliban and has taken an openly pro-American line since gaining power last year. It has also allowed the CIA's Predator strikes, which have reportedly killed 11 top al Qaeda leaders. Pakistanis have also consistently repudiated Islamists at the ballot box.

This makes it all the more crucial that Mr. Zardari not squander this public support by backing down against Islamist terrorism. The longer the Swat cease-fire lasts, the more likely the region will become another safe haven for extremists inside Pakistan -- and an existential threat to Mr. Zardari's government and moderate Pakistani Muslims.
27589  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: WOD a failure on: February 23, 2009, 12:39:11 PM
The war on drugs has failed. And it's high time to replace an ineffective strategy with more humane and efficient drug policies. This is the central message of the report by the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy we presented to the public recently in Rio de Janeiro.

A soldier stands next to packages containing marijuana at an army base in Cali, Colombia, August 2008.
Prohibitionist policies based on eradication, interdiction and criminalization of consumption simply haven't worked. Violence and the organized crime associated with the narcotics trade remain critical problems in our countries. Latin America remains the world's largest exporter of cocaine and cannabis, and is fast becoming a major supplier of opium and heroin. Today, we are further than ever from the goal of eradicating drugs.

Over the last 30 years, Colombia implemented all conceivable measures to fight the drug trade in a massive effort where the benefits were not proportional to the resources invested. Despite the country's achievements in lowering levels of violence and crime, the areas of illegal cultivation are again expanding. In Mexico -- another epicenter of drug trafficking -- narcotics-related violence has claimed more than 5,000 lives in the past year alone.

The revision of U.S.-inspired drug policies is urgent in light of the rising levels of violence and corruption associated with narcotics. The alarming power of the drug cartels is leading to a criminalization of politics and a politicization of crime. And the corruption of the judicial and political system is undermining the foundations of democracy in several Latin American countries.

The first step in the search for alternative solutions is to acknowledge the disastrous consequences of current policies. Next, we must shatter the taboos that inhibit public debate about drugs in our societies. Antinarcotic policies are firmly rooted in prejudices and fears that sometimes bear little relation to reality. The association of drugs with crime segregates addicts in closed circles where they become even more exposed to organized crime.

In order to drastically reduce the harm caused by narcotics, the long-term solution is to reduce demand for drugs in the main consumer countries. To move in this direction, it is essential to differentiate among illicit substances according to the harm they inflict on people's health, and the harm drugs cause to the social fabric.

In this spirit, we propose a paradigm shift in drug policies based on three guiding principles: Reduce the harm caused by drugs, decrease drug consumption through education, and aggressively combat organized crime. To translate this new paradigm into action we must start by changing the status of addicts from drug buyers in the illegal market to patients cared for by the public-health system.

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We also propose the careful evaluation, from a public-health standpoint, of the possibility of decriminalizing the possession of cannabis for personal use. Cannabis is by far the most widely used drug in Latin America, and we acknowledge that its consumption has an adverse impact on health. But the available empirical evidence shows that the hazards caused by cannabis are similar to the harm caused by alcohol or tobacco.

If we want to effectively curb drug use, we should look to the campaign against tobacco consumption. The success of this campaign illustrates the effectiveness of prevention campaigns based on clear language and arguments consistent with individual experience. Likewise, statements by former addicts about the dangers of drugs will be far more compelling to current users than threats of repression or virtuous exhortations against drug use.

Such educational campaigns must be targeted at youth, by far the largest contingent of users and of those killed in the drug wars. The campaigns should also stress each person's responsibility toward the rising violence and corruption associated with the narcotics trade. By treating consumption as a matter of public health, we will enable police to focus their efforts on the critical issue: the fight against organized crime.

A growing number of political, civic and cultural leaders, mindful of the failure of our current drug policy, have publicly called for a major policy shift. Creating alternative policies is the task of many: educators, health professionals, spiritual leaders and policy makers. Each country's search for new policies must be consistent with its history and culture. But to be effective, the new paradigm must focus on health and education -- not repression.

Drugs are a threat that cuts across borders, which is why Latin America must establish dialogue with the United States and the European Union to develop workable alternatives to the war on drugs. Both the U.S. and the EU share responsibility for the problems faced by our countries, since their domestic markets are the main consumers of the drugs produced in Latin America.

The inauguration of President Barack Obama presents a unique opportunity for Latin America and the U.S. to engage in a substantive dialogue on issues of common concern, such as the reduction of domestic consumption and the control of arms sales, especially across the U.S.-Mexico border. Latin America should also pursue dialogue with the EU, asking European countries to renew their commitment to the reduction of domestic consumption and learning from their experiences with reducing the health hazards caused by drugs.

The time to act is now, and the way forward lies in strengthening partnerships to deal with a global problem that affects us all.

Mr. Cardoso is the former president of Brazil. Mr. Gaviria is a former president of Colombia. Mr. Zedillo is a former president of Mexico.

27590  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: February 23, 2009, 12:36:34 PM
Iran announced on Sunday that it plans to “pre-commission” its nuclear power plant at Bushehr this week. The ceremony is to be attended by Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Russia’s state nuclear company. This announcement came two days after Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Mostafa Mohammad Najjar completed a five-day trip to Russia. The Iranians were not clear on what a “pre-commissioning” is, but they did say it would lead to launching the reactor (though no timetable for the launch was given). The pre-commissioning process appears to be some sort of operational simulation. That is less important than the politics of the matter.

During the Munich security meetings, the question of the U.S. ballistic missile defense (BMD) system in Poland and the Czech Republic came up, with the United States indicating that the deployment was going to proceed, pending discussions with the Russians. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton then floated the idea that if the Russians were to help rein in Iran’s nuclear program, the need for the deployment would be eliminated. The Russians’ decision to send Kiriyenko to the pre-commissioning signals that the proposal did not immediately excite the Russians and that they are going forward with at least the civilian side of Iranian nuclear power development. There is a distinction between the civilian and military side, but coming on the heels of a German delegation’s visit to Iran to discuss the program — and to float the idea of the internationalization of Iran’s nuclear development — Kiriyenko’s plan to attend the ceremony clearly indicates that the Russians are not ready to cooperate.

The reasons for that are fairly simple. For the United States, Iran’s nuclear program represents a major challenge and a priority issue. For the Russians, the BMD system in Poland is an irritant, but it is not by itself a fundamental national security issue. The United States was asking the Russians to help solve a major problem in return for Washington getting rid of a minor problem for Russia. Not surprisingly, the Russians signaled this weekend that this proposal, as it stands, is not enough to stop them from cooperating with Iran.

Iran is a significant lever for the Russians in managing their relations with the Americans. It is the one sure way to get Washington’s attention and some flexibility in other areas. The Russians are not eager to lose that lever — and if they do give it up, it will have to be for substantially more than BMD in Poland. For the Russians, BMD is not a threat. They are fully aware that they can overwhelm it with a tiny fraction of their systems. What is a threat is the idea of the United States arming Poland and moving U.S. forces into Poland.

The Russians want a buffer in Poland. If they accept BMD there, they know that in due course, they will see a highly militarized Poland. Thus, the Russians don’t simply want BMD gone from Poland; they want much firmer guarantees about the future of that country. The Russians want the Americans to abandon NATO expansion into the former Soviet Union. Indeed, they want the Americans to work in the former Soviet Union through Moscow, rather than through bilateral relations with individual countries — a point that was just demonstrated in Kyrgyzstan in the context of the Manas air base, which the Americans were told to leave.

The Russians are not going to help shut down the Iranian nuclear program simply for a concession on BMD. They will want a lot more for it. That is why they agreed to attend a pre-commissioning at Bushehr. Indeed, that is why a pre-commissioning is taking it place. It allows a Russian government official to attend the ceremony, thereby signaling to the Obama administration that Clinton’s offer did not even come close to the Russian price. And Iran was likely quite happy to arrange a pre-commissioning in order to send this message, given its own interests in negotiating with the United States.

27591  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: February 23, 2009, 11:46:49 AM
Monday Brief
Vol. 09 No. 08
23 February 2009

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." --The Declaration of Independence

We are "a nation of cowards," says Eric Holder
"Hey, black folks, do you know any white folks? Good. OK, I want you to go up to them right now and, as politely as you can, start sharing your most deeply held racial views. Hey, white folks, you're not off the hook. I want you to go and do likewise with any black people you know. Don't want to do that? Really? Well, then, you're a coward. That's the short version of Attorney General Eric Holder's speech this week celebrating Black History Month. Holder says we are 'a nation of cowards' because we're unwilling to discuss race to his satisfaction. ... Usually, when I hear a liberal call for a national conversation on race, I translate it as: 'People who disagree with me need to be instructed why they are wrong.' Indeed, in a sense it's no wonder America is a nation of cowards when it comes to race, because so many of us are terrified of being called racist the moment we step out of line with liberal orthodoxy. ... [Holder] says of the debate over affirmative action ... that, 'This debate can, and should, be nuanced, principled and spirited. But the conversation we now engage in as a nation on this and other racial subjects is too often simplistic and left to those on the extremes, who are not hesitant to use these issues to advance nothing more than their own narrow self-interest.' Perhaps. Or perhaps calling views you disagree with 'extreme' and accusing those who hold them of having dishonorable motives is just a clever way of saying that you don't want an 'honest conversation' at all." --National Review editor Jonah Goldberg

"The problem is not that we talk too little about race but that our discussion is often irrelevant to the problems at hand. When Holder and Clinton talk about confronting racial issues, what they really want is a national therapy session in which whites admit that their prejudice and discrimination -- past and present -- is responsible for all the ills that beset blacks today. Well, sorry, it just isn't so. ... If Attorney General Holder is really interested in improving the status of blacks, he could begin by addressing the issue of personal responsibility. The decision to have a child out of wedlock has enormous consequences for single moms and the children they bring into the world. If there is one factor above others that explains the huge differences between the well-being of whites and blacks in this society, it is that so many black children grow up in homes with no fathers. Those children do more poorly in school, are more likely to get in trouble with the law, and become single parents themselves, thus perpetuating a destructive cycle of despair. So, by all means, let's have some honesty in our discussions of race during Black History Month. Let's begin by having our most prominent black elected and appointed officials show a little courage by speaking out on the real problems in the black community, not the chimera of white oppression and unacknowledged guilt." --columnist Linda Chavez

"You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot lift the wage-earner by pulling down the wage-payer. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot establish security on borrowed money. You cannot build character and courage by taking away men's initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves." --Presbyterian minister William J.H. Boetcker (1873-1962)

"Government has only two ways of getting money other than raising taxes. It can go into the money market and borrow, competing with its own citizens and driving up interest rates, which it has done, or it can print money, and it's done that. Both methods are inflationary." --Ronald Reagan


"America is not great because of the size of our government, but because of the vision and values of our people. I am convinced that those who believe in big government have little faith in self-governance. Their philosophy says that government should do what a man can't -- or won't -- do for himself. Perhaps I'm jaded, but I believe that the gush of taxpayer dollars issuing forth from Washington is not driven by compassion, but from an unspoken belief that Americans are not smart enough to govern their own lives, strong enough to take some risk or compassionate enough to help neighbors in need. Conservatism has gotten a black eye over the past few years, not because our core principles are less true, but because so many of our leaders lost their way. When conservatives forget the values that got them elected and morph into big-spending, favor-trading politicians, voters will simply vote for whoever offers change, and, in 2008, they did. I don't think such an outcome dictates a redefinition of conservatism. If anything, it is a stark reminder that we need to return to our fiscally conservative roots. Not just in Washington, D.C., but in every state in the nation." --Texas Gov. Rick Perry

"[C]reating jobs is not difficult for government. What is difficult for government is creating jobs that produce wealth. Pyramids, holes in the ground and war do not produce wealth. They destroy wealth. They take valuable resources and convert them into something less valuable. Instead of iPods, great art, cures for diseases and machines that replace back-breaking work, we get the equivalent of digging holes and filling them up. Under President Obama's 'stimulus' plan, jobs will be created to weatherize buildings, construct schools and wind turbines, and repair roads and bridges. But outside the market process, there is no way to know whether those are better uses of scarce capital than whatever would have been produced had it been left in the private economy. Since government services are paid for through the compulsion of taxes, they have no market price. But without market prices, we have no way of knowing the importance that free people would place on those services versus other things they want. So although we'll see the government putting people to work and even some new schools and bridges, we won't be able to calculate how much wealth we've lost because scarce resources were misallocated by the politicians. Nevertheless, we can be sure we will have lost. If the government's projects were truly worthwhile, they would be undertaken by private efforts, and in their quest for profits, entrepreneurs would handle them more efficiently. Remember this when President Obama begins to boast about how successful his stimulus plan is." --ABC's 20/20 co-anchor John Stossel

"[N]ot all jobs are created equal. Valuable jobs provide products and services the free market supports; useless jobs provide products and services the free market would not support. Valuable jobs provide products and services that enrich quality of life, making it cheaper to live better; useless jobs provide products and services that have minor impact on quality of life. Here's the magic of private sector jobs. Imagine Bill owns a fruit stand. He sells his fruit for $2 per pound. Herman sees that Bill is doing well, and decides to open a fruit stand of his own. He figures he can undercut Bill and live on less of a profit margin, so he sells his fruit at $1 per pound. Pretty soon, Herman runs Bill out of business. It's tough for Bill. But meanwhile, customers are spending $1 less for their fruit than they were. They're spending that extra money at Bob's clothing store, keeping Bob employed -- and Bob can now hire Bill. The bottom line is this: The power of free enterprise creates competition that raises production, lowers prices, and makes lives better for consumers and producers. And that's true even if employment declines in the fruit stand business." --columnist Ben Shapiro

"[W]hat is the driving force that explains how millions of people manage to cooperate to get 60,000 different items to your supermarket? Most of them don't give a hoot about you and me, some of them might hate Americans, but they serve us well and they do so voluntarily. The bottom line motivation for the cooperation is people are in it for themselves; they want more profits, wages, interest and rent, or to use today's silly talk -- people are greedy. Adam Smith, the father of economics, captured the essence of this wonderful human cooperation when he said, 'He (the businessman) generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. ... He intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain.' Adam Smith continues, 'He is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. ... By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.' And later he adds, 'It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.' If you have doubts about Adam Smith's prediction, ask yourself which areas of our lives are we the most satisfied and those with most complaints. Would they be profit motivated arenas such supermarkets, video or clothing stores, or be nonprofit motivated government-operated arenas such as public schools, postal delivery or motor vehicle registration? By the way, how many of you would be in favor of Congress running our supermarkets?" --George Mason University economics professor Walter E. Williams

27592  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: February 23, 2009, 11:12:24 AM
Sorry to have to report this, but we search for Truth.


Probe finds Army charity is hoarding millions

Military's biggest charity is stockpiling cash, rather than using it for aid

Feb. 22, 2009

FORT BLISS, Texas - As soldiers stream home from Iraq and Afghanistan, the biggest charity inside the U.S. military has been stockpiling tens of millions of dollars meant to help put returning fighters back on their feet, an Associated Press investigation shows.

Between 2003 and 2007 — as many military families dealt with long war deployments and increased numbers of home foreclosures — Army Emergency Relief grew into a $345 million behemoth. During those years, the charity packed away $117 million into its own reserves while spending just $64 million on direct aid, according to an AP analysis of its tax records.

Tax-exempt and legally separate from the military, AER projects a facade of independence but really operates under close Army control. The massive nonprofit — funded predominantly by troops — allows superiors to squeeze soldiers for contributions; forces struggling soldiers to repay loans — sometimes delaying transfers and promotions; and too often violates its own rules by rewarding donors, such as giving free passes from physical training, the AP found.

Founded in 1942, AER eases cash emergencies of active-duty soldiers and retirees and provides college scholarships for their families. Its emergency aid covers mortgage payments and food, car repairs, medical bills, travel to family funerals, and the like.

Army charity lent out emergency aid

Instead of giving money away, though, the Army charity lent out 91 percent of its emergency aid during the period 2003-2007. For accounting purposes, the loans, dispensed interest-free, are counted as expenses only when they are not paid back.

During that same five-year period, the smaller Navy and Air Force charities both put far more of their own resources into aid than reserves. The Air Force charity kept $24 million in reserves while dispensing $56 million in total aid, which includes grants, scholarships and loans not repaid. The Navy charity put $32 million into reserves and gave out $49 million in total aid.

AER executives defend their operation, insisting they need to keep sizable reserves to be ready for future catastrophes.
"Look at the stock market," said retired Col. Dennis Spiegel, AER's deputy director for administration. Without the large reserve, he added, "We'd be in very serious trouble."

But smaller civilian charities for service members and veterans say they are swamped by the desperate needs of recent years, with requests far outstripping ability to respond.
While independent on paper, Army Emergency Relief is housed, staffed and controlled by the U.S. Army.

That's not illegal per se. Eric Smith, a spokesman for the Internal Revenue Service, said the agency can't offer an opinion on a particular charity's activities. But Marcus Owens, former head of IRS charity oversight, said charities like AER can legally partner closely with a government agency.
However, he said, problems sometimes arise when their missions diverge. "There's a bit of a tension when a government organization is operating closely with a charity," he said.

Some reserves are prudent

Most charity watchdogs view 1-to-3 years of reserves as prudent, with more than that considered hoarding. Yet the American Institute of Philanthropy says AER holds enough reserves to last about 12 years at its current level of aid.

Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, said that AER collects money "very efficiently. What the shame is, is they're not doing more with it."
National administrators say they've tried to loosen the purse strings. The most recent yearly figures do show a tilt by AER toward increased giving.
Still, Borochoff's organization, which grades charities, gives the Army charity an "F" because of the hoarding.

The AP findings include:

*Superior officers come calling when AER loans aren't repaid on time. Soldiers can be fined or demoted for missing loan payments. They must clear their loans before transferring or leaving the service.

*Promotions can be delayed or canceled if loans are not repaid.

*Despite strict rules against coercion, the Army uses pushy tactics to extract supposedly voluntary contributions, with superiors using language like: "How much can we count on from you?"

*The Army sometimes offers rewards for contributions, though incentives are banned by program rules. It sometimes excuses contributors from physical training — another clear violation.

AER screens every request for aid, peering into the personal finances of its troops, essentially making the Army a soldier's boss and loan officer.
"If I ask a private for something ... chances are everyone's going to do it. Why? Because I'm a lieutenant," says Iraq war veteran Tom Tarantino, otherwise an AER backer. "It can almost be construed as mandatory."

Neither the Army nor Sgt. Major of the Army Kenneth Preston, an AER board member, responded to repeated requests for comment on the military's relationship with AER.
AER pays just 21 staffers, all working at its headquarters at Army Human Resources Command in Alexandria, Va. AER's other 300 or so employees at 90 Army sites worldwide are civilians paid by the Army. Also, the Army gives AER office space for free.
AER's treasurer, Ret. Col. Andrew Cohen, acknowledged in an interview that "the Army runs the program in the field." Army officers dominate its corporate board too.

Officers must recommend soldiers for aid

Charities linked to other services operate along more traditional nonprofit lines. The Air Force Aid Society sprinkles its board with members from outside the military to foster broad views. The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society pays 225 employees and, instead of relying on Navy personnel for other chores, deploys a corps of about 3,400 volunteers, including some from outside the military.

Army regulations say AER "is, in effect, the U.S. Army's own emergency financial assistance organization." Under Army regulations, officers must recommend whether their soldiers deserve aid. Company commanders and first sergeants can approve up to $1,000 in loans on their own say-so. Officers also are charged with making sure their troops repay AER loans.

"If you have an outstanding bill, you're warned about paying that off just to finish your tour of duty ... because it will be brought to your leadership and it will be dealt with," says Jon Nakaishi, of Tracy, Calif., an Army National Guard veteran of the Iraq war who took out a $900 AER loan to help feed his wife and children between paychecks.
In his case, he was sent home with an injury and never fully repaid his loan.

The Army also exercises its leverage in raising contributions from soldiers. It reaches out only to troops and veterans in annual campaigns organized by Army personnel.
For those on active duty, AER organizes appeals along the chain of command. Low-ranking personnel are typically solicited by a superior who knows them personally.

Spiegel, the AER administrator, said he's unaware of specific violations but added: "I spent 29 years in the Army, I know how ... first sergeants operate. Some of them do strong-arm."

Many violations uncovered

Army regulations ban base passes, training holidays, relief from guard duty, award plaques and "all other incentives or rewards" for contributions to AER. But the AP uncovered evidence of many violations.

Before leaving active duty in 2006, Philip Aubart, who then went to Reserve Officer Training Corps at Dartmouth College, admits he gave to AER partly to be excused from push-ups, sit-ups and running the next day. For those who didn't contribute the minimum monthly allotment, the calisthenics became, in effect, a punishment.

"That enticed lots and lots of guys to give," he noted. He says he gave in two annual campaigns and was allowed to skip physical training the following days.
Others spoke of prizes like pizza parties and honorary flags given to top cooperating units.

Make no mistake: AER, a normally uncontroversial fixture of Army life, has helped millions of soldiers and families. Last year alone, AER handed out about $5.5 million in emergency grants, $65 million in loans, and $12 million in scholarships. Despite the extra demands for soldiers busy fighting two wars, AER's management says it hasn't felt a need to boost giving in recent years.

But the AP encountered considerable criticism about AER's hoarding of its treasure chest.

Jack Tilley, a retired sergeant major of the Army on AER's board from 2000 to 2004, said he was surprised by AP's findings, especially during wartime.
"I think they could give more. In fact, that's why that's there," said Tilley, who co-founded another charity that helps families of Mideast war veterans, the American Freedom Foundation.

Accumulates stocks and bonds with its wealth

What does AER do with its retained wealth? Mostly, it accumulates stocks and bonds.
AER ended 2007 with a $296 million portfolio; last year's tanking market cut that to $214 million, by the estimate of its treasurer.

Sylvia Kidd, an AER board member in the 1990s, says she feels that the charity does much good work but guards its relief funds too jealously. "You hear things, and you think, "`They got all this money, and they should certainly be able to take care of this,'" she said. She now works for a smaller independent charity, the Association of the United States Army, providing emergency aid to some military families that AER won't help.

Though AER keeps a $25 million line of bank credit to respond to a world economic crisis, its board has decided to lop off a third of its scholarship money this year. "We're not happy about it," Spiegel says.
27593  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Hemet on Sunday March 1 on: February 23, 2009, 11:09:12 AM
What would you like to see?
27594  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizens defend themselves/others. on: February 23, 2009, 09:18:52 AM
Fast food giant McDonald's has denied workers compensation benefits to a minimum wage employee who was shot when he ejected a customer who had been beating a woman inside the restaurant.

A representative of the administrator for McDonald's workers compensation plan explained that "we have denied this claim in its entirety as it is our opinion that Mr. Haskett's injuries did not arise out of or within the course and scope of his employment."

Nigel Haskett, then aged 21, was working at a McDonald's in Little Rock, Arkansas last summer when he saw a patron, later identified as Perry Kennon, smacking a woman in the face. A surveillance video of the incident, which had been posted to YouTube, was taken down after McDonald's charged copyright infringement, but according to written descriptions of the video, Haskett tackled Kennon, threw him out, and then stood by the door to prevent him from reentering.

(Update: The video is now available in a news report from KARK4 in Little Rock, which is not subject to copyright claims and which can be seen below.)

Kennon went to his car, returned with a gun, and shot Haskett multiple times. Haskett staggered back into the restaurant and collapsed.

Kennon, who has a long criminal record, was arrested a few days later and charged with first-degree battery. The judge at his arraignment praised Haskett as a hero.

Haskett has since undergone three abdominal surgeries and has incurred over $300,000 in medical bills. McDonald's has declined to comment on their reasons for refusing his claim, because the case is still pending before the Workers Compensation Commission, but according to Haskett's lawyer, Philip M. Wilson:

"McDonald's position now is that during thirty-minute orientation Mr. Haskett and the other individuals going through the orientation were supposedly told that in the event of a robbery or anything like a robbery . . . not to be a hero and simply call 911. Mr. Haskett denies that anything like that was even mentioned during orientation or at any time during his employment with McDonald's."

McDonald's may be on shaky legal ground in their attempt to deny benefits. As explained by the blog "Joe's Union Review," courts have repeatedly ruled that injuries incurred in the course of "good samaritan" acts while on the job are entitled to compensation, especially if they result in good will towards the employer.

"McDonald’s is really living up to it’s reputation as an evil empire," another blog comments. "They’re no longer merely all about moving in on the little guy, or clogging your arteries with fry grease, or making kids big chunkers, but are also now turning on their employees."

This video was broadcast by KARK4 News and was posted at YouTube on February 22, 2009.


If you want to let McDs know what you think , , ,
27595  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Alignment on: February 23, 2009, 09:14:40 AM

Would love to see you and share what I think is a pretty slick and rather safe little program.   Please feel free to call me at your convenience.
27596  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Hemet on Sunday March 1 on: February 23, 2009, 09:10:37 AM
Family first Frankfurter.  Come by the house when your new schedule kicks in.
27597  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: February 23, 2009, 08:37:55 AM
"[W]hen the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, - who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia."

--George Mason, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 14 June 1778
27598  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: February 23, 2009, 01:43:46 AM
What can Israel do?

Even Bush in his final months is reputed to have denied permission to act.  Do you think they will fly over Iraq without BO's permission?!?  Syria?  Turkey? (there is a relationship there, but not enough for this!)

Other than their nuke capable subs, I can think of no option.

Does this writer suggest that Israel is about to pre-empt Iran with Nukes?!?

Sorry, IMHO more thinking needs to be done here.
27599  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / I dunno about this , , , on: February 22, 2009, 11:54:47 PM

Pakistan to arm village militias


ISLAMABAD – Authorities in a Pakistani border province plan to arm villagers with 30,000 rifles and set up an elite police unit to protect a region increasingly besieged by Taliban and al-Qaida militants, an official said Sunday.

Stiffer action in the North West Frontier Province could help offset American concern that a peace deal being negotiated in the Swat valley, a Taliban stronghold in the province, could create a haven for Islamist insurgents only 100 miles (160 kilometers) from the Pakistani capital.

Village militias backed by the United States have been credited with reducing violence in Iraq. Washington is paying for a similar initiative in Afghanistan.
The United States is already spending millions of dollars to train and equip Pakistani forces in the rugged region near the Afghan border but there was no sign it was involved in the militia plan. A U.S. Embassy spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Saturday he will try to "remove the apprehensions of the world community" about the Swat deal when he meets U.S. officials in Washington next week, state-run media reported.

But it was unclear if Sunday's announcement had the backing of national leaders or the powerful army — or if handing out more guns in an already heavily armed society was wise.

Mahmood Shah, a former head of security for Pakistan's tribal regions, said arming civilians could trigger civil war in the northwest, where tribal and political tension is at fever pitch.

Shah said authorities should focus on bolstering existing security forces.

"This is Pakistan, not Iraq or Afghanistan. There is complete anarchy in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that is not the case here," he said. "It is not going to help."

Haider Khan Hoti, chief minister of the provincial government, said authorities would distribute the guns only among "peaceful groups and individuals" so they could help police to guard their villages.

Officials would consult with local police chiefs before handing out the arms and would take them back if they were not used against "terrorists and troublemakers," Hoti's office said in a written statement.

Hoti said the guns were on hand, having been seized from "terrorists and anti-state elements." He said the province would meet the $40 million bill for the elite provincial police unit of 2,500 officers.

"The purpose of setting up this force is to combat terrorism and extremism effectively," he said.

The militia plan raises doubts about the coherence of Pakistani efforts to counter Taliban groups who have seized growing pockets of the northwest, forged links with al-Qaida and carried out a blur of suicide bombings.

Pakistani officials have encouraged residents to establish militias in the semiautonomous tribal areas sandwiched between North West Frontier Province and the Afghan border.

The pro-Western central government says it will come down hard on groups who refuse to renounce violence and stop supporting cross-border terrorism in return for reconciliation.  Federal officials insisted they have not handed out any weapons in the tribal areas, and appeared to be caught off guard by Sunday's announcement.

Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said it had not been consulted about giving weapons to village militias. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry, supposedly in charge of national law and order issues, also was unaware of the plan. The provincial government did not say when the weapons would be handed out, or if villagers would be armed in the Swat valley, where security forces and Taliban militants are observing a week-old cease-fire while seeking a peace accord.

Earlier Sunday, Taliban gunmen abducted a senior government official and six of his security guards in Swat, demonstrating their unbroken hold in the valley, where they have defied an army offensive, beheaded political opponents and torched some 200 girls' schools. A Taliban spokesman said the official, Khushal Khan, would be freed "soon," but that his abduction was a warning to the provincial authorities, who he alleged had arrested two Taliban members in violation of the cease-fire.

"We wanted to show the government that we can also taken action against it," spokesman Muslim Khan said.

He declined to comment on the village militia plan.

The provincial government has sent a hard-line cleric to try to persuade the Swat Taliban to renounce violence in return for the introduction of elements of Islamic law.
Officials say the legal concessions meet long-standing demands for speedy justice in Swat and fall far short of the harsh version of Islamic law favored by Taliban militants.
27600  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Hemet on Sunday March 1 on: February 22, 2009, 11:49:02 PM
lester griffin, school 951-654-0210 cell 951-492-8362


WHEN: sun. march first 2009 11:00A.M. TO 4:00 P.M.

WHERE: 775 S SAN JACINTO BVL. OR ST. san jacinto ca. 92583

COST : $60.00 PRE PAY OR $80.00 AT THE DOOR
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