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27601  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lieberman on: May 29, 2009, 08:38:44 PM
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that it is imperative that the world prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. She pledged that the Obama administration's engagement with Iran to achieve that end would be carried out "with eyes wide open and under no illusions."

Mrs. Clinton is right. Iran's illicit nuclear activities represent a uniquely dangerous and transformational threat to the United States and the rest of the world -- a threat that demands a response of open-eyed realism.

A realistic response requires that we first recognize that the danger posed by the Islamic Republic's nuclear activities cannot be divorced from its broader foreign policy ambitions and patterns of behavior -- in particular, its longstanding use of terrorist proxies to destabilize and weaken its Arab neighbors and Israel, to carve out spheres of Iranian influence in the Mideast, and to tilt the region toward extremism.

The Iranians have supported Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian territories, and Shiite militias in Iraq. They have sponsored terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds of American soldiers and thousands of innocent Muslims throughout the region. They have also exploited the plight of the Palestinians in a cynical attempt to put a wedge between moderate Arab governments and their people.

Consider how the balance of power and the prospects for peace in the Middle East would change if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons -- and its extremist proxies could attack moderate Arab regimes, Israel and us under the protection of Tehran's nuclear umbrella, which they would use to deter conventional military retaliation in response to their aggression.

Engaging Iran with open-eyed realism also requires that we take seriously the violent words of the Iranian regime, and its acts of domestic repression. I know there are some who dismiss Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's calls for Israel to be wiped off the map as little more than political rhetoric. Others urge us not to hear Iran's rulers when they lead crowds in chanting "Death to America." Still others argue that the Iranian regime's mistreatment of its own citizens should not interfere in our diplomacy. If we ever accept that counsel, it would be at our grave peril.

As the Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov once said, "A country that does not respect the rights of its own people will not respect the rights of its neighbors." There is no better proof of this than Iran today.

I am not opposed to pursuing direct engagement with the Iranians. It is certainly the preferred way to end Iran's nuclear program. But engagement is a tactic, not a strategy. What we need is a multipronged strategy that employs all of the elements of our national power. Such a strategy would include a clear and credible set of benchmarks by which we can judge Iran's response to our outreach, a timeline by which to expect results, and a set of carrots and sticks that both sides understand. We must make clear to the Iranians and the region that engagement will not be a process without end, but rather a means to a clearly identified set of ends.

And we must build a consensus domestically and internationally. Just as steps forward by the Iranians will justify continued and rewarding engagement, a lack of progress will be met with what Mrs. Clinton characterized before the House Foreign Affairs Committee as "crippling" sanctions.

With the goal of giving President Barack Obama the authority to impose precisely such sanctions, a bipartisan coalition of senators, organized by Sens. Evan Bayh, Jon Kyl and me, recently introduced legislation that would empower the president to sanction companies that are involved in brokering, shipping or insuring the sale of gasoline and other refined petroleum products to Iran.

During last year's campaign, Mr. Obama expressed interest in using Iran's dependence on imported gasoline as leverage in our nuclear standoff. However, under current law, his authority to do so is uncertain. Our legislation would eliminate this ambiguity and enable the president to tell companies involved in this trade that they must choose between doing business with Iran or doing business with America.

I am especially proud of the breadth of the coalition that introduced this bill. It includes some of the most liberal and most conservative members of the U.S. Senate, and it should send an unambiguous message of unity, strength and resolve from America to Iran and the rest of the world.

We should likewise seek to build greater unity among our friends abroad. In the Middle East today, there is an unprecedented convergence of concerns about Iran among Arabs and Israelis alike. The question is whether we can seize this moment to help usher into place a new strategic architecture for the Middle East -- keeping in mind that some of the strongest alliances in history have been forged among old antagonists when confronted by a new, common threat.

Iran's easiest path to a nuclear weapon is clear: It is by dividing the rest of us, Europeans from Americans, the Russians and Chinese from the West. It is by pitting Arabs against Arabs in Lebanon, Iraq, the Palestinian Authority and the Gulf, and by stirring up hatred between Muslims and Jews. It is by dividing the Iranian people from the American people when we are otherwise natural allies. It is by dividing us here at home -- Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals.

The best way to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons is equally clear: It is by recognizing that whatever differences divide us on other matters, our shared interest in stopping the Iranian government from getting nuclear weapons is far greater. This is why we must urgently unite to prevent that dangerous result.

Mr. Lieberman is an Independent Democratic senator from Connecticut. This article is adapted from a speech he delivered at the American Enterprise Institute.

27602  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Don't tax you, don't tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree on: May 29, 2009, 08:35:24 PM
Politicians wouldn't be politicians if they didn't trim their sails to the prevailing winds. Even so, the emerging 180-degree turn by Democrats on taxes and health insurance is one for the record books.

 Democrats have spent years arguing that proposals to equalize the tax treatment of health insurance are an outrage against the American people. Workers pay no income or payroll taxes on the value of job-based plans, but the same hand isn't extended to individuals who must buy coverage on their own. Last year liberals mauled John McCain for daring to touch the employer-based exclusion to finance more coverage for the individually uninsured. He was proposing "a multitrillion-dollar tax hike -- the largest middle-class tax hike in history," said Barack Obama, whose TV ads were brutal.

But now Democrats need the money to finance $1.2 trillion or more for their new health insurance entitlement. Last week Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus released his revenue "policy options" and high on the list is . . . taxing health benefits. Or listen to White House budget director Peter Orszag, who recently told CNN's John King that the exclusion "was not in the President's campaign plan, it wasn't in our budget. Clearly, some Members of Congress are putting it on the table and we are going to have to let this play out."

Mr. King tried again. "Let this play out. But would the President sign a bill that includes a pretty significant tax increase? That would be a tax increase." Mr. Orszag: "We're not going to be -- I think it's premature to be commenting on individual items . . . There are lots of ideas that are being put on the table." Translation: You betcha he'd sign it.

The tax exclusion is such a big revenue prize because Mr. Baucus is scrubbing every other tax nook and cranny and only coming up with rounding errors. A sampler:

- Impose an excise tax on hard alcohol, beer and some kinds of wine. That would be in addition to a sin tax on beverages sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, such as soda. Mr. Baucus doesn't offer revenue estimates, though the Congressional Budget Office says a $16 per proof gallon alcohol tax might raise $60 billion over 10 years, and another $50.4 billion at three cents per 12 ounces of sugary drink.

- End or limit the tax-exempt status of charitable hospitals, which only costs currently a mere $6 billion a year.

- Make college students in work-study programs subject to the payroll tax. Also targeted are medical residents, perhaps on the principle that they'll one day be "rich" doctors. CBO has no score on these.

- Reducing Medicare reimbursement rates for supposedly "over valued physician services," such as diagnostic imaging. CBO says that requiring doctors to get prior clearance could save $1 billion in 10 years.

- For individuals with high-deductible insurance plans, contributions to health savings accounts would no longer be tax deductible. That would penalize patients who choose plans that encourage them to be informed consumers. CBO says that banning HSA payments entirely would yield all of $10 billion.

By contrast, the employer-based exclusion offers a huge money pot -- an estimated $226 billion in 2008. Yet as liberal MIT economist Jonathan Gruber recently told Mr. Baucus's committee, "no health expert today would ever set up a health system with such an enormous tax subsidy to a particular form of insurance" (his emphasis). It creates a coverage gap between workers who receive it from their employers and those who pay -- or can't afford to pay -- with after-tax money.

The tax exclusion is also one reason health costs continue to rise. It encourages workers to take an extra dollar of compensation in fringe benefits instead of cash while also routing low-deductible health spending through third parties. Some 84 cents of every medical dollar is spent by someone other than the patient. The insured have no incentives to make cost-conscious decisions about care.

So reforming the exclusion would inject a dose of discipline into American medicine. But for most Democrats the goal isn't to create a more rational health-insurance market. They simply want the revenue for another government program. Mr. Baucus won't target gold-plated employer insurance plans in general, because union-negotiated benefits are usually gold-plated. Rather, he may cap or phase out the exclusion by income, starting with workers earning more than $200,000. Insurance options that don't conform to government diktats (health savings accounts) would also lose any tax advantage. This would do nothing for market efficiency, but it would be one more stealth tax increase.

Democrats owe an apology to Mr. McCain, and it'll be fascinating to see if they will now suffer a political backlash of their own making. Having told the country that this tax reform is really a tax increase, Democrats are opening themselves to the same attacks they leveled against Republicans.

They could avoid that fate if they used the tax exclusion money to finance, say, a tax credit for the uninsured. That would be a genuinely bipartisan reform. But liberals won't accept that because they want to take one giant step toward government-run health care. And the only way they can pay for it is by taxing everything in sight, including your current health insurance.

27603  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud (ACORN et al), corruption etc. on: May 29, 2009, 08:33:48 PM
Moving GM's post to this thread:
27604  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kurds on: May 29, 2009, 03:59:29 PM
Geopolitical Diary: The Reality of Iraqi Geopolitics
May 29, 2009 | 0010 GMT
Iraq’s oil ministry has announced plans for oil exports to Turkey, from newly developed fields in the northern autonomous Kurdish region, to begin on Sunday. The Taq Taq and Tawke fields in Dahuk province will be the first new fields brought online in Iraq in more than three decades. Together, they will yield 100,000 barrels per day (bpd), with production growing to 450,000 bpd by 2011.

Though the Kurds are already celebrating the occasion, this is a bittersweet moment for Sunni and Shiite leaders in Baghdad. Iraq’s Shiite-dominated central government has long been in a fierce contest with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over oil reserves in the north. On a strategic level, Iraqi Arabs — as well as Iraq’s neighbors — have a core interest in keeping the Kurds on a leash and quelling separatist hopes. The central government is doing its part to keep the Kurds boxed in: It wants to ensure that Baghdad gets sign-off on any oil deals the Kurds make with foreign companies to develop their energy fields, and that all oil revenues go through the central government before being distributed to the regional governorates.

But after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the Kurds knew they had limited time to secure their influence before being ganged up on by an array of rivals (which is happening now.) The KRG signed production-sharing agreements left and right with foreign firms, giving companies 10-20 percent of the profit and partial ownership of the fields, to rush in investment. The Iraqi oil ministry, however, has declared all of these deals void, insisting that Baghdad must be the one to approve agreements and that all deals must be based on less attractive, fixed-fee service contracts, which deny foreign companies ownership of energy fields.

The row between the KRG and Baghdad is ongoing, and it remains to be seen how the foreign companies developing the fields will end up getting paid. But with oil production stagnating at just under 2 million bpd, the Kurds have found a way to exploit the central government’s vulnerability. With the budget in danger, Baghdad reluctantly agreed to get these fields pumping, in order to raise exports and generate more cash for government coffers. The Kurds are getting a nice break, but they are still beholden to central government-controlled infrastructure and the interests of their rivals, like Turkey, to continue exporting oil from KRG territory.

While keeping a close eye on the Kurds, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is also busy picking out scapegoats for the fall in Iraqi oil production. He recently launched a massive anti-corruption drive that has brought down the trade minister and is now targeting the oil and electricity ministers, who could end up getting axed in a widely rumored cabinet reshuffle. Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani, who has close ties to Tehran, is expected to be summoned by the Parliament soon to explain why his mismanagement of the ministry (never mind the effects of the global economic crisis) has prevented production increases.

Al-Maliki is doing this for several reasons. He needs to blame someone for the economic pressure Iraq is under, but he also needs to clean house, consolidate power and prepare his government for the day that U.S. forces leave Iraq and Baghdad will have to fend for itself against a host of powerful neighbors — who all feel they have some stake in Iraq. The Turks are on a resurgent path and are privately discussing with the United States their desire to move into the north to contain the Kurds. The Iranians harbor aspirations about carving out Shiite-dominated southern Iraq for themselves. And Saudi Arabia and other Arab states see themselves as the defenders of Iraq’s Sunnis against the Shia; they do not regard al-Maliki as a legitimate leader or even see Iraq as a legitimate country.

Al-Maliki is on a mission to revive Iraq’s standing as a strong Arab state — only this time, under Shiite leadership. Iraq is already an extremely fractious country, split geographically, ethnically and politically among Shia, Sunnis and Kurds. What al-Maliki wants to avoid is a “Lebanonization” of Iraq that would brand the country as paralyzed, fractured and sufficiently vulnerable to be preyed upon by outside powers. The only way to overcome these internal weaknesses is to impose some level of authoritarianism at home.

Al-Maliki is the leader of the Arab world’s newest democracy, but some of his statements hint at an authoritarian strain of thought. He said recently that in the first stage of post-Hussein Iraq, “consensus was necessary for us.” “But,” he continued, “if this continues it will become a problem, a flaw, a catastrophe. The alternative is democracy, and that means majority rule … From now on, I call for an end to that degree of consensus.” Al-Maliki also has begun standing up to Iraq’s neighbors — telling the Saudis, who among other Arab powers continue to snub him at regional summits, that “Iraq has no intention of making new goodwill gestures towards Saudi Arabia because my initiative has been interpreted in Riyadh as a sign of weakness.”

Contrary to popular perception, this behavior is not necessarily a reflection of al-Maliki’s personality. Whether the person at the helm of Iraqi politics is al-Maliki or anyone else, Baghdad will see a need for the Kurds to be contained and — depending on who has the upper hand — for either the Shia or the Sunnis to rule with an iron fist. Such is the reality of Iraqi geopolitics.
27605  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: May 29, 2009, 03:04:36 PM
Grateful for Adventure!
27606  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Team Kali Tudo on: May 29, 2009, 03:03:38 PM
Night Owl may need a ride down. Would you check in with him please?
27607  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Boortz on: May 29, 2009, 03:02:43 PM
27608  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Charges against Black Panther type thugs dropped on: May 29, 2009, 01:56:21 PM
Well this is certainly a naked exercise of political prerogative.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Charges brought against three members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense under the Bush administration have been dropped by the Obama Justice Department, FOX News has learned.

The charges stemmed from an incident at a Philadelphia polling place on Election Day 2008 when three members of the party were accused of trying to threaten voters and block poll and campaign workers by the threat of force -- one even brandishing what prosecutors call a deadly weapon.

The three black panthers, Minister King Samir Shabazz, Malik Zulu Shabazz and Jerry Jackson were charged in a civil complaint in the final days of the Bush administration with violating the voter rights act by using coercion, threats and intimidation. Shabazz allegedly held a nightstick or baton that prosecutors said he pointed at people and menacingly tapped it. Prosecutors also say he "supports racially motivated violence against non-blacks and Jews."

The Obama administration won the case last month, but moved to dismiss the charges on May 15.

The complaint says the men hurled racial slurs at both blacks and whites.

A poll watcher who provided an affidavit to prosecutors in the case noted that Bartle Bull, who worked as a civil rights lawyer in the south in the 1960's and is a former campaign manager for Robert Kennedy, said it was the most blatant form of voter intimidation he had ever seen.

In his affidavit, obtained by FOX News, Bull wrote "I watched the two uniformed men confront voters and attempt to intimidate voters. They were positioned in a location that forced every voter to pass in close proximity to them. The weapon was openly displayed and brandished in plain sight of voters."

He also said they tried to "interfere with the work of other poll observers ... whom the uniformed men apparently believed did not share their preferences politically," noting that one of the panthers turned toward the white poll observers and said "you are about to be ruled by the black man, cracker."

A spokesman for the Department of Justice told FOX News, "The Justice Department was successful in obtaining an injunction that prohibits the defendant who brandished a weapon outside a Philadelphia polling place from doing so again. Claims were dismissed against the other defendants based on a careful assessment of the facts and the law. The department is committed to the vigorous prosecution of those who intimidate, threaten or coerce anyone exercising his or her sacred right to vote."
27609  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / This could get interesting on: May 29, 2009, 01:50:38 PM
Trouble Brewing for AIG and Federal Government; Challenge of AIG Bailout Allowed to Proceed

May 27, 2009

ANN ARBOR, MI – Proclaiming that times of crisis do not justify departure from the Constitution, Federal District Court Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff allowed the lawsuit against Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the Federal Reserve Board challenging the AIG bailout to proceed. The lawsuit was filed last December by the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and attorney David Yerushalmi, an expert in security transactions and Shariah-compliant financing.

In his well-written and detailed analysis issued yesterday, Judge Zatkoff denied the request by the Obama administration’s Department of Justice to dismiss the lawsuit. The request was filed on behalf of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the Federal Reserve Board – the named defendants in the case. In his ruling, the judge held that the lawsuit sufficiently alleged a federal constitutional challenge to the use of taxpayer money to fund AIG’s Islamic religious activities.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commented, “It is outrageous that AIG has been using taxpayer money to promote Islam and Shariah law, which potentially provides support for terrorist activities aimed at killing Americans. Shariah law is the same law championed by Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban. It is the same law that prompted the 9/11 terrorist attacks on our soil that killed thousands of innocent Americans. We won this skirmish. But the war to stop the federal government from funding Islam and Shariah-compliant financing is far from over.”

In its request to dismiss the lawsuit, the DOJ argued that the plaintiff in the case, Kevin Murray, who is a former Marine and a federal taxpayer, lacked standing to bring the action. And even if he did have standing, DOJ argued that the use of the bailout money to fund AIG’s operations did not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The court disagreed, noting, in relevant part, the following:

In this case, the fact that AIG is largely a secular entity is not dispositive: The question in an as-applied challenge is not whether the entity is of a religious character, but how it spends its grant. The circumstances of this case are historic, and the pressure upon the government to navigate this financial crisis is unfathomable. Times of crisis, however, do not justify departure from the Constitution. In this case, the United States government has a majority interest in AIG. AIG utilizes consolidated financing whereby all funds flow through a single port to support all of its activities, including Sharia-compliant financing. Pursuant to the EESA, the government has injected AIG with tens of billions of dollars, without restricting or tracking how this considerable sum of money is spent. At least two of AIG’s subsidiary companies practice Sharia-compliant financing, one of which was unveiled after the influx of government cash. After using the $40 billion from the government to pay down the $85 billion credit facility, the credit facility retained $60 billion in available credit, suggesting that AIG did not use all $40 billion consistent with its press release. Finally, after the government acquired a majority interest in AIG and contributed substantial funds to AIG for operational purposes, the government co-sponsored a forum entitled “Islamic Finance 101.” These facts, taken together, raise a question of whether the government’s involvement with AIG has created the effect of promoting religion and sufficiently raise Plaintiff’s claim beyond the speculative level, warranting dismissal inappropriate at this stage in the proceedings.

Click here to read Judge Zatkoff’s entire ruling.

The lawsuit, which was filed in December of last year in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, is a constitutional challenge to that portion of the “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008” (EESA) that appropriated $40 billion in taxpayer money to fund and financially support the federal government’s majority ownership interest in AIG, which engages in Shariah-based Islamic religious activities that are anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish.

According to the lawsuit, “The use of these taxpayer funds to approve, promote, endorse, support, and fund these Shariah-based Islamic religious activities violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Murray, a former Marine who served honorably in harm’s way in Iraq to defend our country against Islamic terrorists. Murray objects to being forced as a taxpayer to contribute to the propagation of Islamic beliefs and practices predicated upon Shariah law, which is hostile to his Christian religion. He is being represented by Thomas More Law Center Trial Counsel Robert Muise and by David Yerushalmi, an associated attorney who is an expert in Shariah law and Shariah-compliant financing, as well as general counsel to the Center for Security Policy.

According to the lawsuit, through the use of taxpayer funds, the federal government acquired a majority ownership interest (nearly 80%) in AIG, and as part of the bailout, Congress appropriated and expended an additional $40 billion of taxpayer money to fund and financially support AIG and its financial activities. AIG, which is now a government owned company, engages in Shariah-compliant financing which subjects certain financial activities, including investments, to the dictates of Islamic law and the Islamic religion. This specifically includes any profits or interest obtained through such financial activities. AIG itself describes “Sharia” as “Islamic law based on the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet [Mohammed].”

With the aid of taxpayer funds provided by Congress, AIG employs a “Shariah Supervisory Committee,” which is comprised of the following members: Sheikh Nizam Yaquby from Bahrain, Dr. Mohammed Ali Elgari from Saudi Arabia, and Dr. Muhammed Imran Ashraf Usmani from Pakistan. Dr. Usmani is the son, student, and dedicated disciple of Mufti Taqi Usmani, who is the leading Shariah authority for Shariah-compliant finance in the world and the author of a book translated into English in 1999 that includes an entire chapter dedicated to explaining why a Western Muslim must engage in violent jihad against his own country or government. According to AIG, the role of its Shariah authority “is to review our operations, supervise its development of Islamic products, and determine Shariah compliance of these products and our investments.”

An important element of Shariah-compliant financing is a form of obligatory charitable contribution called zakat, which is a religious tax for assisting those that “struggle [jihad] for Allah.” The amount of this tax is between 2.5% and 20%, depending upon the source of the wealth. The zakat religious tax is used to financially support Islamic “charities,” some of which have ties to terrorist organizations that are hostile to the United States and all other “infidels,” which includes Christians and Jews.

The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, an example of an Islamic “charity” that qualifies for receipt of the zakat, was recently convicted by a federal jury for providing millions of dollars to Islamic terrorist organizations. As a direct consequence of the taxpayer funds appropriated and expended to purchase and financially support AIG, the federal government is now the owner of a corporation engaged in the business of collecting religious taxes to fund interests adverse to the United States, Christians, Jews, and all other “infidels” under Islamic law.
27610  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Team Kali Tudo on: May 29, 2009, 12:14:56 PM
27611  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson on the Judiiciary on: May 29, 2009, 08:53:17 AM
"The Constitution ... is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary which they may twist and shape into any form they please."

--Thomas Jefferson, letter to Judge Spencer Roane, September 6, 1819
27612  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sotomayor on: May 29, 2009, 08:42:04 AM
Well, now it makes sense and this could be serious.  La Raza IS a racist and a seditious organizatin IMHO.  Also to be noted IMHO is that IMHO, this particular source "World Net Daily" often hyperventilates, omits pertinent facts, and in general is not my idea of a reliable source in its own right-- though, as appears to be the case here, it can serve to flag an important issue/question for worthier sources to investigate.
27613  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: May 29, 2009, 08:32:36 AM
I would love to see a serious analysis of recent velocity number and a comparison of them to other periods , , ,

Anway, here's this:

The Week /The Incredibly Uneven Recovery
Rich Karlgaard, Digital Rules (5/26/09): Prior to this
recession, the most notable feature of the late 20th/early 21st century
economy was its volatility. The silicon chip, the Internet and globalism
were accelerants to the renaissance of entrepreneurial capitalism that
began in the late 1970s. Around the world, the storyline was familiar. New
products, services, distribution paths and business models would appear
out of nowhere and cause damage to the old and slow.

The global consultant, McKinsey & Co., summarized this effect in a famous
2005 paper called "Extreme Competition" (published in McKinsey Quarterly).
"Extreme Competition" said top companies, across all industries, faced a
20% to 30% probability of falling out of leadership in a five-year period.
The chance of toppling from the top ranks had tripled in a generation.

Will this pace of disruption and churn continue during the recession and
recovery? I think so. It is tempting to see a recession as a yellow
caution flag that slows all cars in the field. But in fact, recessions
tend to shake out the old, slow and bloated that masked their decline in
flusher times. The 1973-74, 1980 and 1982 recessions dealt death blows to
the incoherent conglomerates created during the 1960s. The 1990-91
recession killed off the minicomputer industry and nearly did in IBM. The
recession of 2007-09 has shredded the Michigan auto industry. Big city
dailies are falling everywhere. Were they killed by the recession or
Craigslist? (By both.)

Recovery from this recession is likely to be weak. Rising oil prices
amidst increasing supply and falling demand is proof of U.S. dollar
weakness and portends stagflation. Real growth for the American economy
when recovery starts will be in the 1% to 2% range, instead of the usual
3%. It will be the 1970s again.

But remember: GDP growth is an aggregate number. Peel back this pedestrian
top line figure, and what you'll see is a jagged landscape of booms and
busts. Some companies, industries, cities, regions and skill sets were
never hurt much and will experience a robust recovery. Others will be
mired in permanent depression.

As one example, the New York Times columnist, Bob Herbert, points out the
disproportionate problems of uneducated young males: "The Center for Labor
Market Studies is at Northeastern University in Boston. A memo that I
received a few days ago from the center's director, Andrew Sum, notes that
'no immediate recovery of jobs' is anticipated, even if the recession
officially ends, as some have projected, by next fall

The memo said: 'Since unemployment cannot begin to fall until payroll
growth hits about 1%--and payroll growth will not hit 1% until [gross
domestic product] growth hits at least 2.5%  to 3%--we may not see any
substantive payroll growth until late 2010 or 2011, and unemployment could
rise until that time.'

"We've already lost nearly 5.7 million jobs in this recession. Those
losses, the center says, 'have been overwhelmingly concentrated among male
workers, especially among men under 35.'"

As another example, today's Wall Street Journal has a fascinating tale of
two Michigan cities, Ann Arbor and Warren: "The divide between Ann Arbor,
with a population of 116,000, and Warren, population 126,000, is large and
widening. Ann Arbor's unemployment rate of 8.5% in March trailed the
nationwide rate of 9% and was well below Michigan's overall rate of 13.4%,
based on nonseasonally adjusted figures. By contrast, Warren's
unemployment rate of 17.3% is among the highest in the state. The average
family income in Ann Arbor was $106,599 in 2007, compared with $69,193
nationally and $60,813 in Warren.

"That economic gulf wasn't always there. In 1979, the average family in
Warren made $28,538 annually, not much below Ann Arbor's average of
$29,840. But in the past 30 years, the U.S. economy has undergone a
sweeping transformation that has benefited cities like Ann Arbor and hurt
manufacturing hubs like Warren.

"Warren is suffering from its reliance on the auto industry.

"As transportation and communication costs fell, and countries like Japan
and, now, China, increased their manufacturing capability, Michigan's
advantages have faded. Those same forces of globalization benefited
educated workers--an area where Michigan largely fell short.

The science fiction writer, William Gibson, likes to say: "The future is
already here--it is just unevenly distributed."

Likewise, the economic recovery has already started. But its distribution
will be highly uneven.
27614  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sotomayor on: May 29, 2009, 02:09:21 AM
Ummm, , , why is this piece in this thread?  Wouldn't this better belong in Immigration Issues or American Creed over on our SCH forum?
27615  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: May 27, 2009, 07:34:13 PM
Russia fears Korea conflict could go nuclear


By Oleg Shchedrov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is taking security measures as a precaution against the possibility tension over North Korea could escalate into nuclear war, news agencies quoted officials as saying on Wednesday.

Interfax quoted an unnamed security source as saying a stand-off triggered by Pyongyang's nuclear test on Monday could affect the security of Russia's far eastern regions, which border North Korea.

"The need has emerged for an appropriate package of precautionary measures," the source said.

"We are not talking about stepping up military efforts but rather about measures in case a military conflict, perhaps with the use of nuclear weapons, flares up on the Korean Peninsula," he added. The official did not elaborate further.

North Korea has responded to international condemnation of its nuclear test and a threat of new U.N. sanctions by saying it is no longer bound by an armistice signed with South Korea at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Itar-Tass news agency quoted a Russian Foreign Ministry official as saying the "war of nerves" over North Korea should not be allowed to grow into a military conflict, a reference to Pyongyang's decision to drop out of the armistice deal.


"We assume that a dangerous brinkmanship, a war of nerves, is under way, but it will not grow into a hot war," the official told Tass. "Restraint is needed."

The Foreign Ministry often uses statements sourced to unnamed officials, released through official news agencies, to lay down its position on sensitive issues.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has condemned the North Korean tests but his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has warned the international community against hasty decisions.  Russia is a veto-wielding permanent member of the U.N. Security Council which is preparing to discuss the latest stand-off over the peninsula.

In the past, Moscow has been reluctant to support Western calls for sanctions. But Russian officials in the United Nations have said that this time the authority of the international body is at stake.  Medvedev told South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who called him on Wednesday, that Russia was prepared to work with Seoul on a new U.N. Security Council resolution and to revive international talks on the North Korean nuclear issue.

"The heads of state noted that the nuclear test conducted by North Korea on Monday is a direct violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution and impedes international law," a Kremlin press release said.
27616  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sotomayor on: May 27, 2009, 10:17:52 AM
Cases that get to the Supreme Court are USUALLY difficult ones-- although sometimes they get there simply to smackdown some really bad decision, so I would be careful with reversal rate arguments.

"[J]udges, therefore, should be always men of learning and experience in the laws, of exemplary morals, great patience, calmness, coolness, and attention. Their minds should not be distracted with jarring interests; they should not be dependent upon any man, or body of men." --John Adams

"We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force." --author Ayn Rand (1905-1982)

"The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded." --French political philosopher C. L. De Montesquieu (1689-1755)

"The soundest argument will produce no more conviction in an empty head than the most superficial declamation; as a feather and a guinea fall with equal velocity in a vacuum." --English cleric and writer Charles Colton (1780-1832)

Judge Sotomayor descends from on high to bestow "empathy" upon us
"In making Sonia Sotomayor his first nominee for the Supreme Court yesterday, President Obama appears to have found the ideal match for his view that personal experience and cultural identity are the better part of judicial wisdom. This isn't a jurisprudence that the Founders would recognize, but it is the creative view that has dominated the law schools since the 1970s and from which both the President and Judge Sotomayor emerged. In the President's now-famous word, judging should be shaped by 'empathy' as much or more than by reason. In this sense, Judge Sotomayor would be a thoroughly modern Justice, one for whom the law is a voyage of personal identity. 'Experience being tested by obstacles and barriers, by hardship and misfortune; experience insisting, persisting, and ultimately overcoming those barriers,' Mr. Obama said yesterday in introducing Ms. Sotomayor. 'It is experience that can give a person a common touch of compassion; an understanding of how the world works and how ordinary people live. And that is why it is a necessary ingredient in the kind of Justice we need on the Supreme Court.' ...[Sotomayor] is a judge steeped in the legal school of identity politics. This is not the same as taking justifiable pride in being the first Puerto Rican-American nominated to the Court, as both she and the President did yesterday. ... Judge Sotomayor's belief is that a 'Latina woman' is by definition a superior judge to a 'white male' because she has had more 'richness' in her struggle. The danger inherent in this judicial view is that the law isn't what the Constitution says but whatever the judge in the 'richness' of her experience comes to believe it should be. ... As the first nominee of a popular President and with 59 Democrats in the Senate, Judge Sotomayor is likely to be confirmed barring some major blunder. But Republicans can use the process as a teaching moment, not to tear down Ms. Sotomayor on personal issues the way the left tried with Justices Clarence Thomas and Sam Alito, but to educate Americans about the proper role of the judiciary and to explore whether Judge Sotomayor's Constitutional principles are as free-form as they seem from her record." --The Wall Street Journal

"[L]ike conventional liberals, [Sonia Sotomayor] embraces identity politics, including the idea of categorical representation: A person is what his or her race, ethnicity, gender or sexual preference is, and members of a particular category can be represented -- understood, empathized with -- only by persons of the same identity." --columnist George Will

"Why make this complicated? President Obama prefers Supreme Court justices who will violate their oath of office. And he hopes Sonia Sotomayor is the right Hispanic woman for the job." --columnist Jonah Goldberg

"Since when did securing a Supreme Court seat become a high hurdles contest? The White House and Democrats have turned Second Circuit Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination into a personal Olympic event. Pay no attention to her jurisprudence. She grew up in a Bronx public housing project. She was diagnosed with childhood diabetes at 8. Her father died a year later. And, oh, by the way, did you hear that she was poor? It's a 'compelling personal story,' as we heard 20,956 times on Tuesday." --columnist Michelle Malkin

"If you were going to have open heart surgery, would you want to be operated on by a surgeon who was chosen because he had to struggle to get where he is or by the best surgeon you could find-- even if he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and had every advantage that money and social position could offer?" --economist Thomas Sowell

"Sotomayor believes that law, like beauty, is entirely in the eye of the beholder. It is therefore of vital importance which beholders are sitting on the Supreme Court. Judicial philosophy is irrelevant, in this view; the only true judicial philosophy is personal philosophy." --columnist Ben Shapiro

"Senate Republicans must take a stand and vocally oppose this nomination, not on the basis of partisan politics, but in defense of the rule of law and the proper role of the judiciary, principles the president is only pretending to honor." --columnist David Limbaugh

27617  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: May 27, 2009, 09:26:13 AM
What’s the difference?
Same-sex marriage does make a difference to wider society, especially when the force of the state is behind it.
"What difference,” goes the refrain from same-sex marriage supporters, “ does the marriage of two men or two women make in your life or your marriage?”
Well truth be told, very little because I am Roman Catholic. My marriage is a sacramental union; a union blessed in God’s eyes. The state has very little to do with it and a wedding between two men or two women is as valid in my eyes as a quickie wedding between two drunks at a Vegas love chapel; which means not at all.

Yet something tells me that answer would not satisfy homosexual activists pushing for same-sex marriage, because despite the cry of live and let live, the modus operandi appears to be, live like I say or feel the power of the state.

Earlier this week legislators in New Hampshire rejected a second attempt to pass a bill legalising same-sex marriage, not because the bill did not exempt religious groups from having to join in the celebration of gay marriage, but because it did. Radical supporters of the push for gay marriage joined with opponents to kill off amendments aimed at protecting religious freedom.

The New Hampshire House of Representatives had earlier passed a bill aimed at making same-sex marriage legal. Democratic Governor John Lynch said he would veto any bill that did not include additional protections for religious groups, their employees, and the services they offered, from having to perform, promote, or participate in same-sex weddings.

The New York Times reports on the actions of Republican Steve Vaillancourt, a homosexual member of the House, “During the floor debate on the amendment, Representative Steve Vaillancourt, a Republican who voted for the [original] same-sex marriage bill, accused Mr. Lynch of using bullying tactics, a House spokeswoman said. Mr. Vaillancourt then voted against the proposed changes.”

Vaillancourt is quoted by The Nashua Telegraph as saying, "This bill enshrines homophobia in statute, and I won't ever support something that does that.''

Vaillancourt wants anyone not okay with gay marriage to be out of the marriage business, it has already happened elsewhere. In Canada, private individuals who were licensed by the government to perform civil weddings were forced to hand in their marriage commissioner licenses if they would not perform same-sex weddings. The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal order, was taken to a human rights commission for backing out of renting their hall for a lesbian wedding reception. The Knights say they didn’t know the wedding was for a lesbian couple and once they realized that fact, they returned the deposit and tried to help the ladies find a new venue. Unfortunately for the Knights, British Coloumbia, the province where the stand off took place, declared the Knights in violation of B.C.’s human rights code and fined the group.

It is situations like this that New Hampshire Governor John Lynch is trying to avoid and it is situations like this that gay activists like Rep. Vaillancourt want to provoke; he wants to ensure that Knights of Columbus halls in New Hampshire are open to him and his friends so they can celebrate their weddings in grand Catholic style.

Live and let live sounds nice; too bad it’s not true.

Meanwhile in Britain, the Labour government, not happy with having forced Catholic adoption agencies out of business (agencies which were running long before government became involved in the game), is now set to force churches to hire homosexuals, trans-gendered or anyone else feeling grieved by having those moralistic bastards in the church tut-tut their “lifestyle”.

According to The Daily Telegraph, deputy equality minister Maria Eagle broke the news to churches at a conference on religious matters, well, it was a religious conference in the extremely progressive “accept my sexuality” sort of religious sense. Speaking at the Faith, Homophobia, Transphobia and Human Rights conference in London, the minister said, “The circumstances in which religious institutions can practice anything less than full equality are few and far between. While the state would not intervene in narrowly ritual or doctrinal matters within faith groups, these communities cannot claim that everything they run is outside the scope of anti-discrimination law.”

Not content to simply foist her view of equality and human rights upon churches through the blunt instruments of the state, Ms. Eagle is also seeking members of what I am sure she would regard as “homophobic” and “transphobic” churches to speak out against discrimination against the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Trans-gendered) community. "Members of faith groups have a role in making the argument in their own communities for greater LGBT acceptance,” she says. “But in the meantime the state has a duty to protect people from unfair treatment."

So you can hire your homophobic priest or imam but if your organ master makes Liberace look like a country club Republican or your cantor wants to celebrate his sexuality in drag, you’ll have to take it or face charges.

Live and let live, huh?

I truly believe that when it comes to basic requirements of life, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is right regarding homosexuals, “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

Is refusing to hire an active homosexual, engaged to his boyfriend Bill, to act as youth group leader for the local Catholic parish a form of “just discrimination?” You’d better believe it! While the activists in Ms. Eagle’s office obviously can’t wait to work for sub-par wages in the parish office in Lutton, something tells me they won’t be hiring Cardinal Arizne to work as co-ordinator for the next conference on Faith, Homophobia, Transphobia and Human Rights. Something also tells me that if a faithful Muslim was to apply for a job with the local branch of the Rainbow Coalition, his application would get lost in the files. This kind of discrimination is likely perfectly fine with Ms. Eagle.

What’s a traditional religious person to do? I don’t think recoiling into religious seclusion is an option, especially not for Christians called to live out a public witness. The idea that faith can be private and kept to the home just does not wash for Christians who are called to have their faith touch all aspects of their life. As the late Richard John Neuhaus wrote in his book The Naked Public Square, “Christ is Lord of all or he is Lord not at all.” Asking someone to act one way in public and another in private is asking them to lead contradictory and disjointed lives. Isn’t that what homosexual activists, until recently at least, had been saying they were fighting for, the ability to be themselves? Now they want us to be them as well.

Patrick Thompson teaches and writes near Buffalo, New York.
27618  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sotomayor on: May 27, 2009, 09:01:50 AM
OK, lets give her her own thread:

From John Perazzo's article today:

The common thread in Sotomayor’s decisions is her view that discrimination remains pervasive in the United States, and that the role of a judge is to “level the playing field,” even if it means rewarding the less-qualified and punishing the deserving, while ignoring the law in the process.
In May 2009 a video surfaced of Sotomayor speaking at a 2005 panel discussion for law students. In that video, she said that a “court of appeals is where policy is made”—a candid rejection of the notion that a judge’s proper role is to interpret the law rather than to create it. Then, remembering that the event was being recorded, Sotomayor added immediately: “And I know — I know this is on tape, and I should never say that because we don’t make law. I know. O.K. I know. I’m not promoting it. I’m not advocating it. I’m — you know.” Her tone was unmistakably that of a person uttering, with a wink and a nod, words that she did not, even for a moment, believe.
Such judicial activism, founded on the twin premises that the Constitution is a “living document” subject to constant reinterpretation, and that the legal system should give certain compensatory advantages to people who are allegedly victimized by society’s inherent inequities, is “the critical ingredient” that Barack Obama identified, even during the 2008 presidential campaign, as the chief “criterion” by which he would select the next Supreme Court justice. He has proven to be true to his word.


I also gather she is quite bad on property rights and has written a decision that goes further than Kelo.
27619  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: CA SCt respects Prop 8 on: May 27, 2009, 04:38:39 AM
"It bears emphasis . . . that our role is limited to interpreting and applying the principles and rules embodied in the California Constitution, setting aside our own personal beliefs and values." That sigh of judicial restraint was actually issued by the California Supreme Court, which yesterday upheld Proposition 8, last year's ballot initiative prohibiting same-sex marriage in the state.

The gay rights lobby is apoplectic, though we suspect the decision will eventually be seen as a victory for gay rights -- precisely because it respected the ordinary rhythms of democratic debate. That wasn't the case in 2008, when the same court created a right to gay marriage by reading it into the state constitution. Yet when moral and social disputes are "settled" by the judiciary, they inevitably become even more divisive than before, inspire a political backlash and in any case are denied the durability that comes from popular consent.

Gay activists appealed Prop. 8 on the arcane grounds that it was a "revision" to the state constitution requiring a two-thirds vote, not a constitutional amendment requiring the 52% majority it received. The good news is that they can still achieve their goals the old-fashioned way: by changing the laws through politics. (Alas, that is not now the case with abortion.) Next year's election will almost certainly see another ballot initiative to overturn Prop. 8. If California voters don't have a change of heart, gays will have to live with the compromises of democratic life -- which in most places means the legal benefits of marriage in all but name.

The California Supreme Court's bow to the ballot box still preserves the 18,000 gay marriages that were recognized before Prop. 8 passed. Meanwhile, states across the country are experimenting with civil unions and same-sex marriage, even if the latter has so far only emerged from a single legislature: Vermont's.

As this democratic evolution continues, a growing question is whether the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act -- which says that states need not adhere to same-sex marriage laws in other states -- violates the U.S. Constitution's Full Faith and Credit clause. This issue is probably headed to the Supreme Court, and it would not be to anyone's advantage if gay marriage were imposed by judicial fiat.

27620  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 27, 2009, 04:37:08 AM
Many excellent fotos
27621  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Shrimp between two whales on: May 27, 2009, 03:57:37 AM
This piece strikes me as a bit glib-- but still worthy of the read:

Geopolitical Diary: North Korea's Nuclear Program in the Past and Future
May 26, 2009
North Korea conducted a nuclear test on Monday, a little more than two and a half years after its first such test in October 2006. Since the early 1990s, North Korea has been engaged in a public balancing act between nuclear development and negotiations with the international community — particularly the United States. One of the key factors driving the North’s nuclear program is its own insecurity when faced with the United States’ full might. At its core, the nuclear program is about regime survival — not only now, but into the future.

Pyongyang’s focus on a nuclear program is rooted in its history. The Korean War showed North Korea how quickly the U.S. military could reverse a situation, pushing the North’s forces from their nearly complete conquering of the Korean Peninsula back up to the Yalu River line in a matter of weeks. But even before the vast difference in military capability between North Korea and the United States was reinforced by that war, North Korea, the united Korea before it and even the earlier Korean kingdoms occupied a rather insecure geographical position in Asia.

The Korean Peninsula traditionally has been an invasion route and contested territory between the two regional competitors, China and Japan. It has developed a limited repertoire of tactics to deal with this unchosen geographic position: It can attempt isolation (the so-called “Hermit Kingdom”); play regional competitors against one another (a similar strategy was employed, ultimately to failure, as Korea sought to avoid the push of colonialism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries); or find a third-party sponsor to provide protection from its neighbors (for example, as the United States provided protection for South Korea in the second half of the 20th century).

North Korea has employed varieties of these tactics — from playing the Russians and Chinese off one another during the Cold War (and exploiting both powers’ fears of a U.S. occupation of the entire peninsula) to developing a fortress mentality, closing itself off to outside ideas and influence. Even North Korea’s nuclear program, in some ways, has been used at times to draw U.S. attention and maintain U.S. involvement in part to ensure the peninsula doesn’t end up once again stuck between an aggressive China and expansionist Japan.

But the nuclear program, as it developed, also was a manifestation of North Korea’s “Juche” self-reliance philosophy — a philosophy born from centuries of having to rely on others and almost always being sorely disappointed in the end. By developing a nuclear capability, even if in the early stages, North Korea is moving closer to a point where neither its neighbors nor the United States have many options for threatening it without facing a deadly response.

For decades, Pyongyang maintained a massive conventional military, replete with short- and medium-range missiles, rockets and artillery aimed at the nearby South Korean capital, Seoul, as a deterrent to any military action against the North. But this was not seen as a sufficient deterrent to the United States — which continued to carry out military operations around the world against seemingly powerful regimes that ultimately were unable to respond in a manner that truly threatened Washington or even made it think twice. Pyongyang could not be sure that Washington would always consider Seoul as the deciding factor, its threats to turn the city into a “sea of fire” notwithstanding.

Pyongyang’s nuclear and long-range missile programs, then, were part of an effort to demonstrate that North Korea would be able to respond to the United States or other distant aggressors. Initially, Pyongyang was willing to trade away its developing capability in return for more concrete assurances from Washington (whether through a formal peace accord or normalized relations) that Pyongyang would not end up in the U.S. military’s gun sights. But Pyongyang quickly found that its conventional deterrent, coupled with the very different views found among its neighbors and the United States (Beijing rarely agreed to the most stringent sanctions, Seoul was often conflicted about risking destabilizing the North, and Japan opposed concessions), meant that it could escalate a threat, then partly back down in exchange for an economic or political reward — all without really halting its nuclear and missile progress.

The 2006 nuclear test, part of a concerted effort to draw the United States back to the bargaining table, triggered a perhaps surprisingly soft response. In essence, the United States and others gave Pyongyang a sound talking to, and then returned to negotiations. This convinced some among the North Korean elite, particularly in the military, that not only would North Korea never have to give up its nuclear deterrent, but it also could accelerate development with little risk of backlash. This thinking came to the fore again after Kim Jong Il suffered a stroke in 2008, without a clear line of succession. The situation set off intensified maneuvering in Pyongyang as various factions — including the military — sought to take advantage and gain strength.

North Korea’s attempted satellite launch last month and the nuclear test on Monday are both as much about demonstrating Kim Jong Il’s continued strength at home as they are about warning the world (and particularly the United States) not to mess with Pyongyang while the reorganization of top leaders is under way. But it is also an attempt by Pyongyang to show the world that North Korea is both willing to follow through on its threats and not afraid of the consequences (perhaps because it has seen how ineffectual the “consequences” of past actions were).

In essence, North Korea is saying that it does not need to rely on anyone else — that is has found another way to ensure the security of the Korean Peninsula from its neighbors, without relying on outside exploitation. This is, of course, not entirely true: North Korea remains heavily dependent upon China for energy, food and cash, and has grown used to periodic food and fuel aid handouts from the international community, South Korea and the United States.

But to summarize the North Korean behavior as mere attempts to attract U.S. attention or to bargain fails to take into consideration the deep-rooted insecurities of North Korea and its predecessor states on the Korean Peninsula. What the “shrimp between two whales” is trying to do is find a way to avoid being crushed or eaten. It may not fit exactly with international norms, but it has worked for Pyongyang so far.
27622  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: May 27, 2009, 03:25:47 AM
Which looks pretty much exactly like the straight blast as taught by Guro Inosanto and then popularlized by Paul Vunak in the early to mid 80s if not sooner.
27623  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: May 26, 2009, 10:37:57 PM
Humor is good.

Now take a dozen deep breaths and start FRESH with NO backward looking cracks please!!!
27624  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: May 26, 2009, 10:20:31 AM
 angry cry angry cry angry angry
27625  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: May 26, 2009, 10:18:30 AM
Do you ever read your own manure?  You should; it's good for a laugh.

I expect more hip waders are donned reading your inanities.

OK folks, taking a poll here:  Any suggestions for the tone the conversation seems to be establishing?

a) Its the internet, what else do you expect
b) continue to call to their better nature
c) or?
27626  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pak fights Taliban in Swat valley on: May 25, 2009, 06:23:22 PM
Pakistani army fights street by street to banish Taliban from Swat valley

Declan Walsh in Islamabad and Sana ul Haq in Barikot
Sunday 24 May 2009 21.32 BST

Pakistani troops and Taliban fighters battled street by street through Mingora, the main town of the Swat valley, today as an army operation to sweep the militants from their mountain stronghold entered a critical phase.

Smoke rose from the city as the army reported early victories, saying it had captured seven major locations including Green Square, previously dubbed "slaughterhouse square" by locals after the Taliban started to dump the bodies of headless victims there.

Following on from more than two weeks of air and artillery strikes, it was the second day of a ground assault on the city, which the army warned could take weeks to complete. "Everyone is sniping one another," a spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas, said on Saturday.

Fears grew for civilians trapped in the crossfire. Government officials estimate that between 10,000 and 20,000 people are still living in the hill town, which until recently had a population of about 200,000. With food and fuel rations dwindling, some have resorted to scavenging for food during lulls in fighting. Yesterday the army used FM radio to urge residents to report Taliban movements, even though phone lines to the city have been cut.

Last week, residents of some districts said the Taliban had said they would be killed if they obeyed army orders to flee.

The fight for Mingora has become a test of Pakistan's resolve and ability to roll back the Taliban advance across North-West Frontier province and the adjoining tribal belt that has worried western allies.

For three weeks the Taliban have been preparing for a battle in Mingora, setting up rooftop gun positions and laying landmines on roads and bridges. Until now the war against militancy has been largely limited to remote, mountainous areas.

Yesterday the army said it had captured Qamber, a hamlet at the entrance to Mingora and the home town of Shah Doran, a notorious Taliban commander. A Guardian reporter who visited Qamber last week saw Taliban fighters manning newly dug, heavily defended trenches in mountain slopes 50 metres above the main road.

Yesterday in Barikot, a town six miles to the south, a fleeing Qambar resident said he had seen a destroyed army tank after intense fighting.

So far, however, the casualties have been lighter than expected. The army said yesterday it had killed five militants and captured 14 in 24 hours in Mingora. It also reported the deaths of three soldiers.

Western diplomats in Islamabad believe that army casualty figures from Swat are considerably higher than reported.

The president, Asif Ali Zardari, has indicated the Swat campaign could be the start of a wider summer war against the Taliban in the province. A western official said a new offensive was expected to follow in South Waziristan, home of the Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud.

Combat is already spreading across the province. Yesterday army helicopter gunships pounded militant targets in Orakzai tribal agency, west of Peshawar. Meanwhile in Charsadda, a district south of Swat where many people have fled, police announced the arrest of a Taliban commander and six militants.

In Mingora, it is unclear whether the Taliban will hold firm or flee into the hills. Mingora backs on to mountains that could provide an easy escape route and allow them to regroup for guerrilla attacks.

South of the city, along the river Swat, residents reported seeing Taliban fighters going back and forth across the river.

The army is under pressure for a quick resolution. More than two million people have been displaced over three weeks, placing an immense strain on the areas to which they have fled. While about 200,000 people are sheltering in organised camps, at least 1.7 million are squeezed into the homes of friends and relatives, as many as 100 people per house.
27627  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Newsletter on: May 25, 2009, 06:09:45 PM
Woof Marc ,
Yesterday while up at the Inosanto Academy I noticed a quote up on the board that caught my attention:

"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts."John Wooden.

How very true!  In a similar vein we began our "Kali Tudo: Running Dog Game" with this quote:

  "The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, continents and the oceans was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge."Daniel J. Boorstin

In contrast, in MMA today, many tend think like this:  "If we don't see it in the cage, it must not be valid because if it were valid, we would see it in the cage."   The illusion of insight contained in this tautology presents a tremendous challenge in our mission of establishing "Kali Tudo"(tm) as having worthy contributions to real MMA.   I underline at this moment that the true mission of KT is not the young male ritual hierarchical combat of MMA, but to test the idioms of fighting movements, tactics, and strategies that we seek to use for the street wherein where weapons (concealed or otherwise) and uneven numbers of players (concealed or otherwise) or part of the reality.

As founder/head instructor of Dog Brothers Martial Arts, my thought is that MMA simply is a subset wherein we test and install in the adrenal state our Kali Silat idioms of movement in a pure empty hand context.  Kali claims the movements of the empty hand are like those of the weapons.  Is this claim true, or is it simply fantasy martial arts and crafts?  We search for Truth, and when the facts prove us wrong, we change our minds.  My research so far, persuades me deeply of the validity of Kali/Kali Silat/"Kali Tudo" for MMA.

In "Kali Tudo 1" I sought to establish some understandings of footwork that would reach both pure MMA types as well as practitioners more grounded in the FMA.   Some people really got it and raved, and others were more... "well, I like Guro Crafty, but for me this one was a bit of a let down."  I suspect that in part this was because they were not seeing the kind of trapping and destructions as seen in hubud and other similar training methods.

I made a deliberate choice that to include such motions in the KT-1 would be a bridge too far for too many viewers and left that next step to KT2: The Running Dog Game.   The RDG does show Kali limb destructions, trapping and non-thrusting/boxing strikes against the guard.  Why against the guard? Because with the ground behind the opponent, he cannot move away very easily and it is easier to maintain trapping range-- and this IMHO has been one of the two primary missing links for FMA people who have looked to apply Kali empty hands.

Thus it is in Kali Tudo 3 (working title: Blending the Arfful Dodger and the Dracula) that we will put it together for standing striking-- the Kali/Kali Silat/Kali Tudo destructions and striking methods against an opponent who can move around.

My larger point is this:  What you have seen so far in KT-1 and KT-2: The Running Dog Game, are building blocks of something in which I believe has a lot of merit and that more is coming.  I am very excited to have started a "Dog Brothers Team Kali Tudo" group in Hermosa Beach

Thus it is a great pleasure when I receive emails such as those from Max, the author of this blog
sharing with me something of his explorations with our KT material.  I particularly appreciate that he a) gives credit and b) does not seek to give away our "trade secrets" that I offer in our DVDs c) and instead encourages people to come to DBMA for them.

As the saying goes, integrity is what you do when no one is looking and I thank Max for his.  Also see his review at:

I sincerely hope that other people out there will do the same thing (explore the material, give credit, protect the trade secrets for our benefit, and send people our way).  In particular, the Kali Tudo thread on our forum would be a good place to share too.  And, if I may be indulged a moment of shameless marketing, best of all would be to join the Dog Brothers Martial Arts Ass'n:

"Walk as a warrior for all your days!"
Guro Crafty
27628  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: May 25, 2009, 12:42:23 PM
Nice find.  I wonder why not only is there no checking hand at media/corto range, but they keep the live hand behind the back , , ,
27629  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Estudio: Una matanza por cuchillo en el metro on: May 25, 2009, 12:28:29 PM
Buen comienzo al comentario Mauricio.  Me sorprende que no haya mas comentario-- y hay mucho por analizar aqui.  Por ejemplo, ?hubo senales (signs?) de advertencia? ?Hubiera servido un "pared" (fence) como el "Kali Fence"? ?Como se calcula como actuar cuando hay grupos de actores?
27630  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: May 25, 2009, 12:22:38 PM
Also to be remembered here is the presence Iranian scientists at these things, the NK nuke operation in Syria neutralized by Israel, recent reports that Pak is upgrading its nuke program-- probably with US money!!!--  The Gathering Perfect Clusterfcuk gains momentum. cry angry
27631  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / I want a cheeseburger on: May 25, 2009, 07:58:21 AM
A crusty old biker out on a long summer ride in the country pulls up to a tavern in the middle of no where, parks his bike and walks inside.

As he passes through the swinging doors, he sees a sign hanging over the bar:

COLD BEER: $2.00




HAND JOB: $50.00

Checking his wallet to be sure he has the necessary payment, the ole' biker walks up to the bar and beckons to the exceptionally attractive female bartender who is serving drinks to a couple of sun-wrinkled farmers.

She glides down behind the bar to the ole biker.

"Yes?" she inquires with a wide, knowing smile, "may I help you?"

The ole biker leans over the bar, "I was wondering young lady," he whispers, "are you the one who gives the hand-jobs?"

She looks into his eyes with that wide smile and purrs "Why yes, yes, I sure am".

The ole' biker leans closer and into her left ear whispers softly, "Well, wash your hands real good, cause I want a cheeseburger".
27632  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: May 24, 2009, 12:18:16 PM
"Emphasizing discursive power and the ambiguity of gender, third-wave theory usually incorporates elements of queer theory, transgender politics and a rejection of the gender binary, anti-racism and women-of-color consciousness, womanism, post-colonial theory, critical theory, postmodernism, transnationalism, ecofeminism, libertarian feminism, and new feminist theory."

Well, that went right over my head with nary a look back , , ,  cheesy cheesy cheesy
27633  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: May 24, 2009, 11:42:08 AM
Helluva afterdinner conversation here gentlemen , , ,  angry
27634  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: May 24, 2009, 10:28:26 AM
Does anyone have youtube URL of the fight?
27635  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 23, 2009, 09:51:47 PM
Agreed, I will be looking at it again.

The most recent post's premise about a building backlash seems to me a very promising development, as does the fact of a serious operation against the opium trade.
27636  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: May 23, 2009, 06:05:47 PM
Well, didn't Sweden just let Saab go under? cheesy 

Also, see the Islam in Europe thread, it appears there is an argument to be made that Sweden, perhaps in part due to the burdens of its nanny state, seems to lack the will to defend itself from Lebanonization.
27637  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 23, 2009, 09:14:50 AM
Good news!  Well done!

Were you part of this operation?
27638  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Team Kali Tudo on: May 22, 2009, 03:12:52 PM
Due to Memorial Day, next session will be Monday June 1 at 11:00
27639  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: May 22, 2009, 02:57:25 PM
Woof All:

I would us to remember the rule of the road about friends having a good conversation after dinner.   IMHO recently most of us (including me) have tended towards pasting articles of interest.  We have a good crew here and these articles of interest indeed are interesting, but I would sure like seeing more commentary and conversation as part of the mix.

27640  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Woman on: May 22, 2009, 01:23:57 PM
Quote of the Day   


"Whatever  you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she'll give you  a baby. If you give her a house, she'll give you a home. If you give her  groceries, she'll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she'll give you her  heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So, if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of shit."


27641  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: May 21, 2009, 04:48:21 PM
The Class of '44
"I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means...." --John Adams

Dartmouth Seal, c1773
Dartmouth College is one of our nation's finest academic institutions. This iconic Ivy League school in Hanover, New Hampshire, was established in 1769 and is one of nine Colonial Colleges founded prior to the American Revolution.

Dartmouth was named in honor of William Legge, the Second Earl of Dartmouth and, like Harvard, Princeton and Yale, was established as a Christian institution. Legge was a primary benefactor of the ministry of Dartmouth's founder, Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, who established the institution "for the education and instruction of Youth of the Indian Tribes in this Land ... and also of English Youth and any others."

Dartmouth has produced many notable graduates over the years, including 164 members of the U.S. House and Senate, and a long list of cabinet secretaries and jurists.

But among the most distinguished of Dartmouth's graduates would be those of the Class of 1944. Although they will observe their 65th reunion this year, the Class of '44 never walked for a commencement. Neither did the Class of '43 before them, or '45 after them.

World War II interrupted their lives.

In 1940, there were 699 freshmen enrolled for Dartmouth's Class of '44, but in the years prior to their scheduled commencement, the entire class departed -- most to serve in WW II or in some capacity with the war-related industrial surge. By 1944, the Navy had requisitioned most of Dartmouth's teaching space for training its own personnel.

I have a particular reverence for the members of Dartmouth's Class of '44 because my father is one of them.

Dad joined the U.S. Navy in 1942. He was called to active duty in '43 and spent two years training to become a Naval Aviator. His two brothers also joined the armed services -- one left Princeton to become an Army officer and their younger brother joined the Marines.

My grandfather was among the first Naval Aviators, and he offered my Dad this essential advice when on final approach for a carrier trap: "If you have to sneeze, do it with your eyes open."

My father says that while most fighter pilots were certain they were bullet proof (that has not changed), he realized early on how dangerous and sometimes unforgiving the war birds they flew could be.

While leading a flight of six Wildcats out for their first carrier trials, the pilot ahead of him in the landing order experienced some difficulty, veered sharply to the left and crashed into the water. Dad took an automatic wave-off and said that the time it took him to come around for another approach was sobering.

Dad received his Wings of Gold and his ensign commission in early '45 and shortly thereafter transitioned to the F4U Corsair (a difficult plane to fly but one which had given the Navy an 11:1 kill ratio over the Pacific). He and his fellow aviators prepared for their Pacific Fleet assignment in advance of "Operation Downfall," the anticipated Allied invasion of Japan, which U.S. war planners feared might cost as many as a half-million casualties.

Dad knew that odds were he would be one of them.

Thankfully, two months before the planned invasion, a top-secret weapon was deployed over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While the atomic bombs dropped on Japan killed more than 200,000 enemy combatants and civilians, it is estimated that as many as 750,000 casualties, both Allied and Japanese, were avoided by using those weapons.

I did not fully understand how strongly my father felt about those bombings until their 50th anniversary, when the Smithsonian Institution prepared a major exhibit to commemorate the events. There was a movement afoot to water down the exhibit so as to not offend Japanese visitors. My father was infuriated by the thought of a politically correct whitewash. I share his contempt for historical revisionism, but inquired about his reaction just the same, and he responded, "Because if not for those bombs, I would likely not be here; thus neither would you."

I owe a great debt of gratitude to the Class of '44 and all of the Greatest Generation, but also to naval aviation. You see, back stateside shortly after the Japanese surrendered, my Dad took leave (actually he was AWOL, having asked one of his Corsair squadron wingmen to complete his PT and flights). He went to visit his sister at a nearby college. While there, he looked up the sister of that wingman who was filling for him, and later married her. Ten years later, she delivered me into the world.

Though God called my mom to His side in 1989, my dad, now 86, continues to live every day with an irrevocable spirit of optimism and has been blessed with a second wife who honors the first through her love and devotion to my father and our family.

Two weeks ago, Dad was, again, staring at his own fate, the result of a serious infection. But as I sat with him in those touch-and-go days, I watched him cling tenaciously to that optimism, which has characterized his entire life. He did not waver once, and showed no fear. I know he is grateful for the life he has lived, and the one waiting on him, and he was content to have his fate in God's hands.

Selfishly, I am very thankful that, by the Grace of God in answer to the prayers of many, he pulled through and is recovering well. Selfish I say, because I want as many more days with him as our Creator will allow.

Dad is a tough old guy, and I have no doubt that he'll be in attendance at his Class of '44 reunion this summer. Of his original 699 classmates, most went on to complete their degrees after the war. Amazingly, some 226 are still with us today, and many of them will be at that reunion.

Notably, however, some never had a chance to complete their degrees after WWII.

George Barton was killed in action over England. Roger Blood was KIA in the Pacific. Joel Coffin was KIA in Italy. Earle Cunningham was killed in a training flight over Arizona. Richard Dargle was KIA over France. Richard Farnsworth was KIA over the Pacific. Juels Finnell was killed in a carrier crash landing in the Atlantic. George Galbraith was killed in a training flight over Mississippi. Kevin Gough was KIA over Germany. James Hays was killed in a training flight over California. Robert Holman was KIA over England. Stephen Holmes was KIA at Iwo Jima. Houghton Letts was KIA in Europe. Edwin McGowan was MIA over the Pacific. William Mackoff was KIA at Iwo Jima. Robert Mulhern was KIA in North Africa. Richard Redington was killed in a transport crash in Iceland. John Shellenberger was killed in a training flight over Georgia. George Slusser was KIA over Ryukyus. Henry Urion was killed in a training flight over Tennessee. Ray Wilken was KIA over Germany. Frederick Wulfekuhler was KIA in New Caledonia. Lloyd Wyatt was KIA at Okinawa.

There are many others from the Class of '44 about whose sacrifice I do not know.

Indeed, theirs was the Greatest Generation, not only because of their enormous sacrifice during WWII, but because those who survived came home and, in the wake of that catastrophic event, set about building the mightiest powerhouse of economic and political liberty in the history of the world -- much of which has been squandered by recent generations.


In 2009, Dartmouth had 4,300 undergraduate students enrolled in liberal arts curricula and 1,200 students in graduate programs. The College will hold its 235th commencement in June and will award approximately 1,000 undergraduate and 500 advanced degrees.

It is my fervent prayer that on this and every Memorial Day, each of those young people, and all of our countrymen, will renew their gratitude for every generation of American Patriots who have bequeathed to us a legacy of liberty defended with great "toil and blood and treasure."

Indeed, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." (Luke 12:48)

Please join our PatriotPost.US editors and staff, and millions of Patriots across our great nation, by dedicating some time this Memorial Day for reverence and prayer. Flags should be flown at half-staff until noon, your local time.
27642  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: May 21, 2009, 10:54:18 AM

Let us return to the merits of the subject at hand please!!!

27643  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: May 21, 2009, 12:06:36 AM
Ummm , , , JDN , , , I was thinking of you less in the role of Socrates and more in the role of "a member of the group who asked questions seen by most of the rest of the group as foolish"  cheesy
27644  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Plot to use Stingers, C-4 etc busted on: May 20, 2009, 10:45:46 PM
4 Arrested in New York Terror Plot
By Sewell Chan
Updated, 11:34 p.m. | Federal authorities arrested four men on Wednesday night on charges of plotting to bomb a synagogue in the Riverdale section of the Bronx and to use antiaircraft missiles to shoot down military planes at a military base in Newburgh, N.Y., 60 miles north of New York City.

The charges, which include conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction in the United States and conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles, represent some of the most significant allegations of domestic terrorism in some time. They come months into a new presidential administration, and as President Obama grapples with the question of how to handle detainees at the Guantánamo naval base in Cuba.

The four defendants — whom federal authorities identified as James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen, all of Newburgh, in Orange County — are expected to appear in Federal District Court in White Plains, in Westchester County, on Thursday morning.

Though Mr. Cromitie, who is described as the lead defendant, is said to have told an F.B.I. informer that he had ties with Jaish-e-Muhammad, a jihadist group based in Pakistan, none of the defendants actually obtained weapons of mass destruction, according to the authorities. The men were, however, given an antiaircraft missile system that was incapable of being fired, as well as homemade bombs containing inert plastic explosives, as part of the undercover investigation, the authorities said.

• Text: Criminal Complaint (pdf)

• Text: U.S. Attorney’s Office Press Release (pdf)
According to the criminal complaint, Mr. Cromitie met the informer last June, and told the informer that his parents had lived in Afghanistan and that he was upset about the deaths of Muslims at the hands of United States military forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mr. Cromitie expressed interest in returning to Afghanistan and said that if he were to die a martyr he would go to paradise, according to the complaint, which states that Mr. Cromitie threatened to do “something to America.”

In July, according to the complaint, Mr. Cromitie and the informer discussed Jaish-e-Muhammad, and Mr. Cromitie claimed to be involved with the militant organization.

Starting in October, the informer began meeting Mr. Cromitie in a house in Newburgh that the F.B.I. had equipped with concealed video and audio equipment, the according to the complaint. In several meetings at that house, Mr. Cromitie and the other defendants discussed their desire to attack a synagogue in Riverdale — a heavily Jewish neighborhood in the northwestern Bronx — and to shoot down military aircraft at the Air National Guard Base in Newburgh.

Mr. Cromitie “asked the informant to supply surface-to-air guided missiles and explosives for the planned operations,” and the informer told Mr. Cromitie that he could provide him with C-4 plastic explosives, the complaint states.

Starting in April 2009, the complaint says, the four men selected the synagogue they intended to target — the Riverdale Jewish Center, at 3700 Independence Avenue — and conducted surveillance, including photographs, of military planes at the base.

Late that month, Mr. Cromitie and David Williams bought a 9-millimeter semi-automatic pistol to use in the planned attack, and then traveled to “a location from which they could shoot at the military planes using surface-to-air guided missiles,” the authorities said.

In early May, Mr. Cromitie, David Williams and Mr. Payen drove with the informer toward Stamford, Conn., to obtain what the three men were told would be a surface-to-air guided missile system and three improvised explosive devices containing C-4 plastic explosive material.

The informer gave the men “a Stinger surface-to-air guided missile provided by the F.B.I. that was not
capable of being fired,” as well as three improvised explosive devices, each containing more than 30 pounds of inert C-4 plastic explosives, telling the men that he had obtained them from Jaish-e-Muhammad, the authorities said.

The three men took the weapon materials back to Newburgh, and two days later, joined by Onta Williams, they met to inspect the materials and “further discuss the logistics of the operation,” the authorities said.

Lev L. Dassin, the acting United States attorney in Manhattan, said in a statement on Wednesday night that “the defendants wanted to engage in terrorist attacks.”

He added: “They selected targets and sought the weapons necessary to carry out their plans. Fortunately, the defendants sought the assistance of a witness cooperating with the government. While the weapons provided to the defendants by the cooperating witness were fake, the defendants thought they were absolutely real.”

Political leaders responded to the news of the arrests with statements expressing relief.

“While the bombs these terrorists attempted to plant tonight were – unbeknownst to them – fake, this latest attempt to attack our freedoms shows that the homeland security threats against New York City are sadly all too real and underscores why we must remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent terrorism,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said in a statement.

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said in a statement: “If there can be any good news from this terror scare it’s that this group was relatively unsophisticated, infiltrated early, and not connected to another terrorist group.”

Mr. Schumer added that he had spoken with the New York office of the F.B.I. and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, and said: “They have told me they have been monitoring this group for some time and that they did not have any connection to other terrorists.”
27645  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Counterintel to cartel corruption on: May 20, 2009, 06:11:26 PM
A Counterintelligence Approach to Controlling Cartel Corruption
May 20, 2009

By Scott Stewart and Fred Burton

Rey Guerra, the former sheriff of Starr County, Texas, pleaded guilty May 1 to a narcotics conspiracy charge in federal district court in McAllen, Texas. Guerra admitted to using information obtained in his official capacity to help a friend (a Mexican drug trafficker allegedly associated with Los Zetas) evade U.S. counternarcotics efforts. On at least one occasion, Guerra also attempted to learn the identity of a confidential informant who had provided authorities with information regarding cartel operations so he could pass it to his cartel contact.

In addition to providing intelligence to Los Zetas, Guerra also reportedly helped steer investigations away from people and facilities associated with Los Zetas. He also sought to block progress on investigations into arrested individuals associated with Los Zetas to protect other members associated with the organization. Guerra is scheduled for sentencing July 29; he faces 10 years to life imprisonment, fines of up to $4 million and five years of supervised release.

Guerra is just one of a growing number of officials on the U.S. side of the border who have been recruited as agents for Mexico’s powerful and sophisticated drug cartels. Indeed, when one examines the reach and scope of the Mexican cartels’ efforts to recruit agents inside the United States to provide intelligence and act on the cartels’ behalf, it becomes apparent that the cartels have demonstrated the ability to operate more like a foreign intelligence service than a traditional criminal organization.

Fluidity and Flexibility
For many years now, STRATFOR has followed developments along the U.S.-Mexican border and has studied the dynamics of the cross-border illicit flow of people, drugs, weapons and cash.

One of the most notable characteristics about this flow of contraband is its flexibility. When smugglers encounter an obstacle to the flow of their product, they find ways to avoid it. For example, as we’ve previously discussed in the case of the extensive border fence in the San Diego sector, drug traffickers and human smugglers diverted a good portion of their volume around the wall to the Tucson sector; they even created an extensive network of tunnels under the fence to keep their contraband (and profits) flowing.

Likewise, as maritime and air interdiction efforts between South America and Mexico have become more successful, Central America has become increasingly important to the flow of narcotics from South America to the United States. This reflects how the drug-trafficking organizations have adjusted their method of shipment and their trafficking routes to avoid interdiction efforts and maintain the northward flow of narcotics.

Over the past few years, a great deal of public and government attention has focused on the U.S.-Mexican border. In response to this attention, the federal and border state governments in the United States have erected more barriers, installed an array of cameras and sensors and increased the manpower committed to securing the border. While these efforts certainly have not hermetically sealed the border, they do appear to be having some impact — an impact magnified by the effectiveness of interdiction efforts elsewhere along the narcotics supply chain.

According to the most recent statistics from the Drug Enforcement Administration, from January 2007 through September 2008 the price per pure gram of cocaine increased 89.1 percent, or from $96.61 to $182.73, while the purity of cocaine seized on the street decreased 31.3 percent, dropping from 67 percent pure cocaine to 46 percent pure cocaine. Recent anecdotal reports from law enforcement sources indicate that cocaine prices have remained high, and that the purity of cocaine on the street has remained poor.

Overcoming Human Obstacles
In another interesting trend that has emerged over the past few years, as border security has tightened and as the flow of narcotics has been impeded, the number of U.S. border enforcement officers arrested on charges of corruption has increased notably. This increased corruption represents a logical outcome of the fluidity of the flow of contraband. As the obstacles posed by border enforcement have become more daunting, people have become the weak link in the enforcement system. In some ways, people are like tunnels under the border wall — i.e., channels employed by the traffickers to help their goods get to market.

From the Mexican cartels’ point of view, it is cheaper to pay an official several thousand dollars to allow a load of narcotics to pass by than it is to risk having the shipment seized. Such bribes are simply part of the cost of doing business — and in the big picture, even a low-level local agent can be an incredible bargain.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), 21 CBP officers were arrested on corruption charges during the fiscal year that ended in September 2008, as opposed to only 4 in the preceding fiscal year. In the current fiscal year (since Oct. 1), 14 have been arrested. And the problem with corruption extends further than just customs or border patrol officers. In recent years, police officers, state troopers, county sheriffs, National Guard members, judges, prosecutors, deputy U.S. marshals and even the FBI special agent in charge of the El Paso office have been linked to Mexican drug-trafficking organizations. Significantly, the cases being prosecuted against these public officials of all stripes are just the tip of the iceberg. The underlying problem of corruption is much greater.

A major challenge to addressing the issue of border corruption is the large number of jurisdictions along the border, along with the reality that corruption occurs at the local, state and federal levels across those jurisdictions. Though this makes it very difficult to gather data relating to the total number of corruption investigations conducted, sources tell us that while corruption has always been a problem along the border, the problem has ballooned in recent years — and the number of corruption cases has increased dramatically.

In addition to the complexity brought about by the multiple jurisdictions, agencies and levels of government involved, there simply is not one single agency that can be tasked with taking care of the corruption problem. It is just too big and too wide. Even the FBI, which has national jurisdiction and a mandate to investigate public corruption cases, cannot step in and clean up all the corruption. The FBI already is being stretched thin with its other responsibilities, like counterterrorism, foreign counterintelligence, financial fraud and bank robbery. The FBI thus does not even have the capacity to investigate every allegation of corruption at the federal level, much less at the state and local levels. Limited resources require the agency to be very selective about the cases it decides to investigate. Given that there is no real central clearinghouse for corruption cases, most allegations of corruption are investigated by a wide array of internal affairs units and other agencies at the federal, state and local levels.

Any time there is such a mixture of agencies involved in the investigation of a specific type of crime, there is often bureaucratic friction, and there are almost always problems with information sharing. This means that pieces of information and investigative leads developed in the investigation of some of these cases are not shared with the appropriate agencies. To overcome this information sharing problem, the FBI has established six Border Corruption Task Forces designed to bring local, state and federal officers together to focus on corruption tied to the U.S.-Mexican border, but these task forces have not yet been able to solve the complex problem of coordination.

Sophisticated Spotting
Efforts to corrupt officials along the U.S.-Mexican border are very organized and very focused, something that is critical to understanding the public corruption issue along the border. Some of the Mexican cartels have a long history of successfully corrupting public officials on both sides of the border. Groups like the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) have successfully recruited scores of intelligence assets and agents of influence at the local, state and even federal levels of the Mexican government. They even have enjoyed significant success in recruiting agents in elite units such as the anti-organized crime unit (SIEDO) of the Office of the Mexican Attorney General (PGR). The BLO also has recruited Mexican employees working for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, and even allegedly owned Mexico’s former drug czar, Noe Ramirez Mandujano, who reportedly was receiving $450,00 a month from the organization.

In fact, the sophistication of these groups means they use methods more akin to the intelligence recruitment processes used by foreign intelligence services than those normally associated with a criminal organization. The cartels are known to conduct extensive surveillance and background checks on potential targets to determine how to best pitch to them. Like the spotting methods used by intelligence agencies, the surveillance conducted by the cartels on potential targets is designed to glean as many details about the target as possible, including where they live, what vehicles they drive, who their family members are, their financial needs and their peccadilloes.

Historically, many foreign intelligence services are known to use ethnicity in their favor, heavily targeting persons sharing an ethnic background found in the foreign country. Foreign services also are known to use relatives of the target living in the foreign country to their advantage. Mexican cartels use these same tools. They tend to target Hispanic officers and often use family members living in Mexico as recruiting levers. For example, Luis Francisco Alarid, who had been a CBP officer at the Otay Mesa, Calif., port of entry, was sentenced to 84 months in federal prison in February for his participation in a conspiracy to smuggle illegal aliens and marijuana into the United States. One of the people Alarid admitted to conspiring with was his uncle, who drove a van loaded with marijuana and illegal aliens through a border checkpoint manned by Alarid.

Like family spy rings (such as the Cold War spy ring run by John Walker), there also have been family border corruption rings. Raul Villarreal and his brother, Fidel, both former CBP agents in San Diego, were arraigned March 16 after fleeing the United States in 2006 after learning they were being investigated for corruption. The pair was captured in Mexico in October 2008 and extradited back to the United States.

‘Plata o Sexo’
When discussing human intelligence recruiting, it is not uncommon to refer to the old cold war acronym MICE (money, ideology, compromise and ego) to explain the approach used to recruit an agent. When discussing corruption in Mexico, people often repeat the phrase “plata o plomo,” Spanish for “money or lead” — meaning “take the money or we’ll kill you.” However, in most border corruption cases involving American officials, the threat of plomo is not as powerful as it is inside Mexico. Although some officials charged with corruption have claimed as a defense that they were intimidated into behaving corruptly, juries have rejected these arguments. This dynamic could change if the Mexican cartels begin to target officers in the United States for assassination as they have in Mexico.

With plomo an empty threat north of the border, plata has become the primary motivation for corruption along the Mexican border. In fact, good old greed — the M in MICE — has always been the most common motivation for Americans recruited by foreign intelligence services. The runner-up, which supplants plomo in the recruitment equation inside the United Sates, is “sexo,” aka “sex.” Sex, an age-old espionage recruitment tool that fits under the compromise section of MICE, has been seen in high-profile espionage cases, including the one involving the Marine security guards at the U.S Embassy in Moscow. Using sex to recruit an agent is often referred to as setting a “honey trap.” Sex can be used in two ways. First, it can be used as a simple payment for services rendered. Second, it can be used as a means to blackmail the agent. (The two techniques can be used in tandem.)

It is not at all uncommon for border officials to be offered sex in return for allowing illegal aliens or drugs to enter the country, or for drug-trafficking organizations to use attractive agents to seduce and then recruit officers. Several officials have been convicted in such cases. For example, in March 2007, CBP inspection officer Richard Elizalda, who had worked at the San Ysidro, Calif., port of entry, was sentenced to 57 months in prison for conspiring with his lover, alien smuggler Raquel Arin, to let the organization she worked for bring illegal aliens through his inspection lane. Elizalda also accepted cash for his efforts — much of which he allegedly spent on gifts for Arin — so in reality, Elizalda was a case of “plata y sexo” rather than an either-or deal.

Corruption Cases Handled Differently
When the U.S. government hires an employee who has family members living in a place like Beijing or Moscow, the background investigation for that employee is pursued with far more interest than if the employee has relatives in Ciudad Juarez or Tijuana. Mexico traditionally has not been seen as a foreign counterintelligence threat, even though it has long been recognized that many countries, like Russia, are very active in their efforts to target the United States from Mexico. Indeed, during the Cold War, the KGB’s largest rezidentura (the equivalent of a CIA station) was located in Mexico City.

Employees with connections to Mexico frequently have not been that well vetted, period. In one well-publicized incident, the Border Patrol hired an illegal immigrant who was later arrested for alien smuggling. In July 2006, U.S. Border Patrol agent Oscar Ortiz was sentenced to 60 months in prison after admitting to smuggling more than 100 illegal immigrants into the United States. After his arrest, investigators learned that Ortiz was an illegal immigrant himself who had used a counterfeit birth certificate when he was hired. Ironically, Ortiz also had been arrested for attempting to smuggle two illegal immigrants into the United States shortly before being hired by the Border Patrol. (He was never charged for that attempt.)

From an investigative perspective, corruption cases tend to be handled more as one-off cases, and they do not normally receive the same sort of extensive investigation into the suspect’s friends and associates that would be conducted in a foreign counterintelligence case. In other words, if a U.S. government employee is recruited by the Chinese or Russian intelligence service, the investigation receives far more energy — and the suspect’s circle of friends, relatives and associates receives far more scrutiny — than if he is recruited by a Mexican cartel.

In espionage cases, there is also an extensive damage assessment investigation conducted to ensure that all the information the suspect could have divulged is identified, along with the identities of any other people the suspect could have helped his handler recruit. Additionally, after-action reviews are conducted to determine how the suspect was recruited, how he was handled and how he could have been uncovered earlier. The results of these reviews are then used to help shape future counterintelligence investigative efforts. They are also used in the preparation of defensive counterintelligence briefings to educate other employees and help protect them from being recruited.

This differences in urgency and scope between the two types of investigations is driven by the perception that the damage to national security is greater if an official is recruited by a foreign intelligence agency than if he is recruited by a criminal organization. That assessment may need to be re-examined, given that the Mexican cartels are criminal organizations with the proven sophistication to recruit U.S. officials at all levels of government — and that this has allowed them to move whomever and whatever they wish into the United States.

The problem of public corruption is very widespread, and to approach corruption cases in a manner similar to foreign counterintelligence cases would require a large commitment of investigative, prosecutorial and defensive resources. But the threat posed by the Mexican cartels is different than that posed by traditional criminal organizations, meaning that countering it will require a nontraditional approach.

27646  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: May 20, 2009, 10:21:17 AM
Not that I ever read them, but a HS friend who read the Cliff Notes version told me that in Plato's writings of the conversations with Socrates that there was a member of the group who asked questions seen by most of the rest of the group as foolish.   I wonder how Socrates dealt with his questions?
27647  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bolton on: May 20, 2009, 10:15:52 AM
Second post of the morning

The curtain is about to rise again on the long-running nuclear tragicomedy, "North Korea Outwits the United States." Despite Kim Jong Il's explicit threats of another nuclear test, U.S. Special Envoy Stephen Bosworth said last week that the Obama administration is "relatively relaxed" and that "there is not a sense of crisis." They're certainly smiling in Pyongyang.

In October 2006, North Korea witnessed the incredible diplomatic success it could reap from belligerence. Its first nuclear test brought resumption of the six-party talks, which gave Kim Jong Il cover to further advance his nuclear program.

Now, Kim is poised to succeed again by following precisely the same script. In April, Pyongyang launched a Taepodong-2 missile, and National Security Council official Gary Samore recently confirmed that a second nuclear test is likely on the way. The North is set to try two U.S. reporters for "hostile acts." The state-controlled newspaper calls America "a rogue and a gangster." Kim recently expelled international monitors from the Yongbyon nuclear complex. And Pyongyang threatens to "start" enriching uranium -- a capacity it procured long ago.

A second nuclear test is by no means simply a propaganda ploy. Most experts believe that the 2006 test was flawed, producing an explosive yield well below even what the North's scientists had predicted. The scientific and military imperatives for a second test have been strong for over two years, and the potential data, experience and other advantages of further testing would be tremendous.

What the North has lacked thus far is the political opportunity to test without fatally jeopardizing its access to the six-party talks and the legitimacy they provide. Despite the State Department's seemingly unbreakable second-term hold over President Bush, another test after 2006 just might have ended the talks.

So far, the North faces no such threat from the Obama administration. Despite Pyongyang's aggression, Mr. Bosworth has reiterated that the U.S. is "committed to dialogue" and is "obviously interested in returning to a negotiating table as soon as we can." This is precisely what the North wants: America in a conciliatory mode, eager to bargain, just as Mr. Bush was after the 2006 test.

If the next nuclear explosion doesn't derail the six-party talks, Kim will rightly conclude that he faces no real danger of ever having to dismantle his weapons program. North Korea is a mysterious place, but there is no mystery about its foreign-policy tactics: They work. The real mystery is why our administrations -- Republican and Democratic -- haven't learned that their quasi-religious faith in the six-party talks is misplaced.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently rejected "linkage" in Russia policy as "old thinking." Disagreement in one area, she argued, shouldn't prevent working on "something else that is of overwhelming importance." Whatever the merits of linkage vis-à-vis Russia, de-linking a second North Korean nuclear test from the six-party talks simply hands Pyongyang permission to proceed.

Even worse, Iran and other aspiring nuclear proliferators will draw precisely the same conclusion: Negotiations like the six-party talks are a charade and reflect a continuing collapse of American resolve. U.S. acquiescence in a second North Korean nuclear test will likely mean that Tehran will adopt Pyongyang's successful strategy.

It's time for the Obama administration to finally put down Kim Jong Il's script. If not, we better get ready for Iran -- and others -- to go nuclear.

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

27648  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: May 20, 2009, 08:56:17 AM
Arnold lost his initiative efforts a few years ago.  This was a true shame.  His effort to end gerrymandering would have been profoundly positive for the political process.  Instead we continue the ossification of Sacramento, legislators have lockholds on their respective districts.   He also lost his battle with the unions.  So he became kittywhipped and started acting/voting/talking like his wife.

IIRC real spending has increased 40% during Arnold's term!!!

We vote for seriously stupid stuff (e.g. the super train between LA and SF) all the time, can't vote out the bums, and so now we have this.

To punish us for our temerity, the first thing the ruling class will do will be to cut schools, and release criminals.  However, the high speed rail line, which makes no fcuking sense whatsoever but will cost billions of dollars, well, that will stay.
27649  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: May 20, 2009, 08:47:21 AM

May I draw you attention to  ?

27650  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: May 20, 2009, 08:07:44 AM
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