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27601  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO goes to Moscow on: July 07, 2009, 01:02:55 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Obama Goes to Moscow
July 6, 2009
U.S. President Barack Obama left for Moscow on Sunday for his summit with Russian leaders. The meetings have both a personal and geopolitical dimension, and in this case the two intersect, at least for the short run. The Russians have let it be known through multiple channels that they view Obama as a weak leader. The Russians don’t have any idea what kind of leader Obama is, but they are trying to goad him.

The context for this, of course, is the famous summit between John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna in 1961. Tradition has it that Kennedy came to the meeting unprepared and retreated in the face of pressure from Khrushchev. Khrushchev decided that Kennedy would be a weak adversary, and this caused Khrushchev to become more aggressive, culminating in the Cuban missile crisis. Whether it happened this way is subject to dispute, but it sets the stage for this summit. Obama has been compared to Kennedy. That is not a great comparison when dealing with the Russians, so Obama has to go to Moscow to prove he is no Kennedy.

As far as the Russians are concerned, the audience for this summit is not limited to the Americans. Russia is far more interested in the European — particularly the German — perception of the summit. If Obama comes across as too weak, the Russians can tell the Germans that he is a weak champion. If he comes across as too aggressive, they can tell the Germans that he is dragging them into another Cold War. At this point, the core of Russian strategy is to deepen tensions between the Americans and the Germans. The Russians are not betting on personalities to carry the day, but this is one step in the long resurrection process the Russians have put into play.

Obama has tried to open the summit with his own head games. After saying that former Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is too deeply enmeshed in Cold War thinking, the Americans started implying that President Dmitri Medvedev — Putin’s putative boss — was a much more reasonable person and that they were much more interested in dealing with him than with Putin. If Obama’s Achilles’ heel is Europe and the Europeans’ wariness of him, the Russian vulnerability might lie in the fact that Medvedev could be developing ambitions of his own. More likely, the vulnerability is in Putin’s nascent paranoia about Medvedev’s intentions. In either case, the Americans have tried to set up the meeting in such a way that Putin might feel excluded.

Such games have limited value, but they become more important as chances that the summit will achieve anything substantial decline. The Americans charged that Putin was enmeshed in Cold War thinking. The Russians shot back that it isn’t the Russians that are building the NATO bloc — the ultimate Cold War tool — and expanding it wherever it can go. Washington then said that on the key question of ballistic missile defense in Poland, the Russians must understand that the missiles would be there against Iran and not against Russia. The Russians, of course, understand this fully, though they might not agree with it. Their problem is not who the missiles are directed against, but that they would be present in Poland. And Obama’s problem is that if he gives them up without major concessions in return, he will appear exactly as he can’t afford to: weak.

Just before take-off, the Russians gave Obama a present: an offer to allow the United States to transport weapons across Russian territory to troops in Afghanistan. That is not a trivial concession, but it is not one the United States really needs at the moment, nor is the United States likely to want to become dependent on routes that could be closed easily.

Three major issues remain: U.S. relations with states of the former Soviet Union, the status of Poland as a forward U.S. base or a neutral zone, and Russian support for the U.S. stance on Iran.
27602  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 06, 2009, 10:20:59 PM

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2009/06/27/

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2009/06/28/
27603  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Honduras on: July 06, 2009, 10:18:54 PM


http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2009/07/03/
27604  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / WSJ on: July 06, 2009, 08:24:17 AM
Disculpen por favor el ingles del siguiente:
===============

Hundreds of emails from Hondurans flooded my in-box last week after I reported on the military's arrest of President Manuel Zelaya, as ordered by the Supreme Court, and his subsequent banishment from the country.

Mr. Zelaya's violations of the rule of law in recent months were numerous. But the tipping point came 10 days ago, when he led a violent mob that stormed a military base to seize and distribute Venezuelan-printed ballots for an illegal referendum.

All but a handful of my letters pleaded for international understanding of the threat to the constitutional democracy that Mr. Zelaya presented. One phrase occurred again and again: "Please pray for us."

 
Associated Press
 
Raul Castro, left, Manuel Zelaya, center, and Hugo Chavez in Managua, Nicaragua, June 29.
Hondurans have good cause for calling on divine intervention: Reason has gone AWOL in places like Turtle Bay and Foggy Bottom. Ruling the debate on Mr. Zelaya's behavior is Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez, who is now the reigning international authority on "democracy."

Mr. Chávez is demanding that Mr. Zelaya be reinstated and is even threatening to overthrow the new Honduran president, Roberto Micheletti. He's leading the charge from the Organization of American States (OAS). The United Nations and the Obama administration are falling in line.

Is this insane? You bet. We have fallen through the looking glass and it's time to review how hemispheric relations came to such a sad state.

The story begins in 2004, when Mr. Chávez was still an aspiring despot and the U.S. pursued a policy of appeasement toward him. Not surprisingly, that only heightened his appetite for power.

Mr. Chávez had already rewritten the Venezuelan Constitution, taken over the judiciary and the national electoral council (CNE), militarized the government, and staked out an aggressive, anti-American foreign policy promising to spread his revolution around the hemisphere.

The Americas in the News
Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal's Americas page.
Many Venezuelans were alarmed, and the opposition had labored to collect signatures for a presidential recall referendum permitted under the constitution. As voting day drew near, Mr. Chávez behaved as if he knew his days were numbered. The European Union refused to send an observer team, citing lack of transparency. The OAS did send observers, and in the months and weeks ahead of the vote mission chief Fernando Jaramillo complained bitterly about the state's intimidation tactics against the population. Mr. Chávez gave OAS Secretary General César Gaviria an ultimatum: Either get Mr. Jaramillo out of the country or the referendum would be quashed. Mr. Chávez was appeased. Mr. Jaramillo was withdrawn.

The Carter Center was also invited to "observe," and former President Jimmy Carter was welcomed warmly by Mr. Chávez upon his arrival in Venezuela.

A key problem, beyond the corrupted voter rolls and government intimidation, was that Mr. Chávez did not allow an audit of his electronic voting machines. Exit polls showed him losing the vote decisively. But in the middle of the night, the minority members of the CNE were kicked out of the election command center. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Chávez claimed victory. There was never a credible audit of the paper ballots against the tallies in the voting machines.

Mr. Carter's approval notwithstanding, the proper U.S. and OAS response was obvious: The process had been shrouded in state secrets and therefore it was impossible to endorse or reject the results. Venezuelan patriots begged for help from the outside world. Instead, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, Roger Noriega, and the OAS blessed the charade.

There was never any explanation for the blind endorsement, but behind the scenes there were claims that Mr. Chávez threatened to call his militia to the streets and spill blood. The oil fields were to be burned. To this day, the opposition contends that the U.S. and Mr. Gaviria made a cold calculation that caving in to Mr. Chávez would avoid violence.

Predictably, Washington's endorsement of the flawed electoral process was a green light. Mr. Chávez grew more aggressive, emboldened by his "legitimate" status. He set about using his oil money to destabilize the Bolivian and Ecuadorean democracies and to help Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega and Argentina's Cristina Kirchner get elected. Soviet-backed Fidel Castro was able to intimidate his neighbors in the 1960s and '70s, and Mr. Chávez has done the same thing in the new millennium. This has given him vast power at the OAS.

Hondurans had the courage to push back. Now Chávez-supported agitators are trying to stir up violence. Yesterday afternoon airline service was suspended in Tegucigalpa when Mr. Zelaya tried to return to the country and his plane was not permitted to land. There were reports of violence between his backers and troops.

This is a moment when the U.S. ought to be on the side of the rule of law, which the Honduran court and Congress upheld. If Washington does not reverse course, it will be one more act of appeasement toward an ambitious and increasingly dangerous dictator.
27605  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Las eleciones de ayer on: July 06, 2009, 08:16:44 AM
?Comentarios sobre las eleciones de ayer?
27606  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Yesterday's elections on: July 06, 2009, 08:15:28 AM
By DAVID LUHNOW
WSJ
MEXICO CITY -- Mexico's former ruling party made a strong comeback in midterm elections Sunday, defeating President Felipe Calderón's conservative party and setting the stage for more gridlock in a country already politically divided, early returns showed.

With roughly a third of the votes counted, the former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, won 35% of the vote compared with 27% for Mr. Calderón's National Action Party, or PAN, in the race for 500 congressional seats, 565 mayors and six governorships.

The biggest loser on the day was the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, which came within a hair of winning the presidency in 2006. Early returns showed it winning just 12% of the vote. Smaller parties and blank votes made up the rest of the tally.

"It's a big victory for us and sets us up well for 2012" presidential elections, said PRI official Pedro Joaquin Coldwell.

Mr. Calderón congratulated the PRI and called on all parties to put aside their own interests and work for the country. "We have to be able to raise our heads and look beyond ... our party or personal interests," he said.

The PRI, written off by pundits after a third-place finish in the 2006 presidential vote, did well largely thanks to voter apathy and its well-oiled party machinery at the local level. If early returns held, the PRI was expected to gain more than 100 seats in the lower house at the expense of the PRD and PAN.

The election came at a time when Mexico seems down in the dumps. Mexico's economy has been one of the world's hardest hit from the global recession because of its reliance on the U.S. as a market for manufacturing exports. Mexico's economic output is expected to drop at least 5.5% this year compared with last year -- the biggest decline since the aftermath of the country's peso crash in 1995.

Adding to a sense of trouble, the country is in the grips of an all-out war between the government and drug cartels. The violence has claimed 12,000 lives since Mr. Calderón took power in December, 2006. Throw in the recent outbreak of the A/H1N1 flu, falling oil output, a steady stream of corruption scandals at all levels, and a struggling national soccer team -- and you get a recipe for malaise.

"I'm voting for the least bad option given our poor choices," said Ana Luisa Torres, a 57-year-old homemaker who was casting her ballot for Mr. Calderón's PAN. "Mexico is not doing well, and we aren't changing things here fast enough."

Another voter, 65-year-old retiree Luis Peña, said he voted for the PRI because the PAN "showed it doesn't know what to do with power."

As a sign of voter disillusion, as many as 7% of the ballots cast were left intentionally blank as a protest against all major parties. Leading intellectuals had organized the drive as a message to the parties to put aside rivalries.

Mexico's Green Party snared 7% of the votes, but not from any environmental proposal. Its campaign was based on support for instituting the death penalty.

Mr. Calderón's party would have suffered a bigger defeat were it not for his war on drug cartels, which has involved sending 45,000 army troops to various states. The drive remains popular among voters, despite the violence.

"Mexicans are willing to put up with the violence in the short term if they feel the government is dedicated to stopping the narcos," said Roy Campos, head of polling firm Consulta Mitofksy.

Analysts say the election outcome actually has more to do with the dynamics of Mexico's political system than a referendum on Mr. Calderón. Simply put, voters in Mexican midterm elections focus on local issues and candidates, and parties tend to revert to their historic average for results.

"When turnout is low for midterms, it benefits the PRI, because they have the biggest party structure in Mexico," says Luis de la Calle, a former Mexican trade official and political consultant.

The contest was a lot more quiet than the presidential election of 2006, which resulted in a vote that was "too close to call" for days. When Mr. Calderón was finally declared the winner, his losing opponent, Andres Manuel López Obrador of the PRD, refused to concede and took to the streets with his supporters.

In the time since, Mr. López Obrador has yet to call Mr. Calderon "president," and has alienated many voters with his hard-line stance. Squabbling between rival factions has also hurt the party.

Mr. López Obrador's antics have helped pave the way for the return of the PRI. Although the former ruling party has yet to change its stripes out of power and remains dominated by special interests and backroom deals, polls show it is no longer the least admired major party, as it was for several years. That dubious distinction now belongs to the PRD, Mr. Campos says.

After the vote, whether Mexico can get unstuck again will largely depend on the inner workings of the PRI, itself a collection of interests and different groups vying for power. Several key PRI leaders may decide that to compete effectively in the presidential vote of 2012, the party needs to show voters it can govern responsibly.

"There may be incentives for things to get better," says Mr. de la Calle. Mr. "Calderón will be under pressure to show he's not a lame duck, and PRI needs to show it can accomplish something."
27607  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt Gingrich on: July 06, 2009, 08:07:42 AM
Dear Marc,

Will you be around this Thursday night, July 9, for an hour? We ask because we'd like to invite you, and a few of your friends if they want, to join us for a live Tele-Townhall from 7-8pm EDT.

We'll be holding a special strategy session on a topic that's been central to our efforts recently - energy.

It is completely free; all you need to do is tell us what number to call, and be by the phone. I'll be talking for the first few minutes, and then I'll open it up to listen to your ideas and answer your questions.

You can sign up here:

http://www.americansolutions.com/energytax/2009/07/energytownhall.php?memberid=0038000000a7kgDAAQ

In our fight for a real American energy policy, there are two big fronts right now.

One was revealed two weeks ago when the U.S. House passed the National Energy Tax. This vote was a clear sign of how far our opposition will go in trying to restrict and drive up the cost of American energy.

The second front is one we're very familiar with, especially after last summer's "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" campaign, and that is the effort to find and develop more American oil and natural gas.

This Tele-Townhall is especially timely because July 14 will mark the one year anniversary of President Bush lifting the executive ban on offshore drilling. Since the Obama administration has only taken us backwards since then, this is the time to re-launch our "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" campaign, and we want to talk with you specifically about how you can help in a simple way.

We have some serious work to do on energy, but we can succeed if we work together.

That's why we want you to join us on Thursday, July 9th from 7-8pm EDT, and we encourage you to invite some friends as well.

Again, here's the link to sign up:

http://www.americansolutions.com/energytax/2009/07/energytownhall.php?memberid=0038000000a7kgDAAQ

Thank you, and we look forward to talking with you soon.

Your friend,

Newt Gingrich
General Chairman
American Solutions
27608  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton on: July 06, 2009, 07:56:17 AM
 
"When occasions present themselves, in which the interests of the people are at variance with their inclinations, it is the duty of the persons whom they have appointed to be the guardians of those interests, to withstand the temporary delusion, in order to give them time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection."

--Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 71
 
27609  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 05, 2009, 09:51:57 PM
Hi Rachel:

George Gilder has quite a bit more going for him than a recommendation from Rush Limbaugh.

He was one of the house intellectuals of the Reagan Revolution, wrote a rather amazing book called "Wealth and Poverty" and then self taught himself high tech stuff to where he hangs out with multi-phds in stuff I don't even know how to describe.  He's made (and lost!) huge amounts of money advising in investments in high-tech stocks (including I might add making a lot of money for me, and then losing me quite a bit more). 

Anyway, I think you have dialed on a key weak link of his-- which is to have a clever insight and then to overuse it.  Nonetheless, the insight is, IMHO, exactly that.

Marc
27610  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Republic or Democracy on: July 05, 2009, 07:51:42 PM
America: Republic or Democracy?

http://www.wimp.com/thegovernment/
27611  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 05, 2009, 03:30:22 PM
Good post.

"My main thought is that I don't believe with any certainty that a surge could or would have had the same success if only it had been ordered earlier.  The strategy and success was built on information/intelligence/knowledge on the ground that we didn't necessarily have earlier.  Unfortunately we didn't know who was blowing up Mosques and setting explosives for American troops until they blow up Mosques and set off road bombs, repeatedly, and until our troops developed relationships and trust with witnesses and civilians enough to tell us what they know about the insurgents and locations."

"The small footprint, 100,000 in a country of 25 million, limited our ability to get the job done, but a larger footprint might also have flailed away in the early insurgency. A larger footprint would have meant more targets early on for the enemy, possibly more loss of American life during the worst parts of the war, and perhaps more collateral Iraqi civilian damage, turning them even more against us.  In other words, to have gone stronger - earlier - with the wrong strategy would have had its own consequences."

MARC:  Please allow me to clarify that I was not saying that these additional troops that should have been raised should have been sent to Iraq.  My intended point was that we were using up too large of a % of our bandwidth on Iraq-- ESPECIALLY given the policies we were following viz the Russians.

"I blame others more than I blame Bush-Rumsfeld.  I blame our so-called allies who for the most part were absent, starting with Turkey who IIRC blocked a key entry/supply route right from the beginning.  I blame our domestic opposition who while troops were in harm's way were constantly sending the message that the American commitment was fragile and temporary.  Our troops fought through the domestic political bullshit bravely, but the enemy was certainly energized by it, causing more loss of life on both sides than was otherwise necessary.   And I blame our media for the same.  They overplayed the death toll and terror accomplishments of the enemy (was a ground war in the heart of the middle east supposed to be easy?) and they missing the real story line (Michael Yon was almost the sole exception to this) of what a brave, amazing, wonderful and historic accomplishment we were actually in the process of achieving by deposing this thug and leaving behind a republic if they choose to keep it.  JMHO."

We are in complete agreement.  I would give a medal of dishonor to the French in particular.
27612  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The American Creed/Limited Government on: July 05, 2009, 03:25:05 PM
A quick yip of guidance for this thread.  I'd like that this thread be FOR the articulation of the American Creed and the myriad examples to the contrary be placed more in threads such as Fascism; Poltical Economics; Programs; Tax Policy; etc.
27613  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel denies Saudi airspace clearance given on: July 05, 2009, 10:47:47 AM
Israel denies Saudis gave IDF airspace clearance for Iran strike 
 
By Haaretz Service 
 
Tags: Saudi Arabia, Mossad
 

Saudi Arabia has indicated to Israel that it would not protest use of its airspace by Israeli fighter jets in the event the government resolves to launch a military assault against Iran, according to a report which appeared in the British newspaper The Sunday Times.

The Prime Minister's office issued a statement in response Sunday morning, saying that "the Sunday Times report is fundamentally false and completely baseless."

According to The Sunday Times, Mossad chief Meir Dagan held secret meetings with Saudi officials, who gave their tacit approval to Israel's use of the kingdom's airspace.
 Advertisement
 

"The Saudis have tacitly agreed to the Israeli air force flying through their airspace on a mission which is supposed to be in the common interests of both Israel and Saudi Arabia," The Sunday Times quoted a diplomatic source as saying last week.

The report also quoted John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as saying that it would be "entirely logical" for Israeli warplanes to fly over Saudi Arabia en route to bombing nuclear targets in Iran.

Though any Israeli attack would be roundly condemned by Mideast leaders at the UN, Bolton said Arab leaders have privately expressed trepidation at the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran.

"None of them would say anything about it publicly but they would certainly acquiesce in an overflight if the Israelis didn't trumpet it as a big success," Bolton told The Sunday Times.
27614  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / "Green shoots" becoming yellow weeds? on: July 05, 2009, 09:27:48 AM
U.S. Job Report Suggests that Green Shoots are Mostly Yellow Weeds
 

Nouriel Roubini | Jul 2, 2009

The June employment report suggests that the alleged ‘green shoots’ are mostly yellow weeds that may eventually turn into brown manure. The employment report shows that conditions in the labor market continue to be extremely weak, with job losses in June of over 460,000. With the current rate of job losses, it is very clear that the unemployment rate could reach 10 percent by later this summer, around August or September, and will be closer to 10.5 percent if not 11 percent by year-end. I expect the unemployment rate is going to peak at around 11 percent at some point in 2010, well above historical standards for even severe recessions.

It’s clear that even if the recession were to be over anytime soon – and it’s not going to be over before the end of the year – job losses are going to continue for at least another year and a half. Historically, during the last two recessions, job losses continued for at least a year and a half after the recession was over. During the 2001 recession, the recession was over in November 2001, and job losses continued through August 2003 for a cumulative loss of jobs of over 5 million; this time we are already seeing more than 6 million job losses and the recession is not over.

The details of the unemployment report are even worse than the headline. Not only are there large job losses right now, but as a way of sharing the pain, firms are inducing workers to reduce hours and hourly wages. Therefore, when we’re looking at the effect of the labor market on labor income, we should consider that the total value of labor income is the product of jobs, hours, and average hourly wages – and that all three elements are falling right now. So the effect on labor income is much more significant than job losses alone.

The details also suggest that other aspects of the labor markets are worsening. If you include discouraged workers and partially-employed workers, the unemployment rate is already above 16 percent. If you consider also that temporary jobs are falling now quite sharply, labor market conditions are becoming worse. And the average duration of unemployment now is at an all-time high. So people not only are losing jobs, but they’re finding it harder to find new jobs. So every element of the labor market is worsening.

The unemployment rate rose only marginally from 9.4 percent to 9.5 percent, but that’s because so many people are discouraged that they exited the labor force voluntarily, and therefore are not counted in the official unemployment rate.

The other element of the report that must be considered is that, for the summer, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is still adding between 150,000 and 200,000 jobs based on the birth/death model. We know the distortions of the birth/death model – that in a recession jobs created within firms are much smaller than those created by firms that are dying. So that’s distorting downward the number of job losses. Based on the initial claims for unemployment benefits, it’s more likely that the job losses are closer to 600,000 per month rather than the figures officially reported.

These job losses are going to have a significant effect on consumer confidence and consumption in the months ahead. We’ve also seen extreme weakness in consumption. There was a boost in retail sales and real personal consumption-spending in January and February, sparked by sales following the holiday season, but the numbers from April, May, and now June are extremely weak in real terms. In April and May you saw a significant increase in real personal income only because of tax rebates and unemployment benefits. In April, there was a sharp fall in real personal spending, and in May the increase was only marginal in real terms.

This suggests that the most of the tax rebates are being saved rather than consumed. The same thing happened last year. Last year, with a $100 billion tax rebate, only thirty cents on the dollar were spent while seventy cents on the dollar were saved. Last year, people expected the tax rebate to stimulate consumption through September. Instead, there was an increase in April, May, and June, with the increase fizzling out by July.

This year it’s even worse. We have another $100 billion in tax rebates in the pipeline. But the numbers suggest that in April, real consumption fell. And in May it was practically flat. So this year households are even more worried than they were last year about jobs, income, credit cards and mortgages. Most likely only around 20 cents on the dollar – rather than 30 cents last year – of that increase of income is going to be spent. In any case, that increase in income is just temporary and is going to fizzle out by the summer. So you can expect a significant further reduction in consumption in the fall after the effects of the tax rebates fade.

The other important aspect of the labor market is that if the unemployment rate is going to peak around 11 percent next year, the expected losses for banks on their loans and securities are going to be much higher than the ones estimated in the recent stress tests. You plug an unemployment rate of 11 percent in any model of loan losses and recovery rates and you get very ugly losses for subprime, near-prime, prime, home equity loan lines, credit cards, auto loans, student loans, leverage loans, and commercial loans – much bigger numbers than what the stress tests projected.

In the stress tests, the average unemployment rate next year was assumed to be 10.3 percent in the most adverse scenario. We’ll be already at 10.3 percent by the fall or the winter of this year, and certainly well above that and close to 11% at some point next year.

So these very weak conditions in the labor market suggest problems for the U.S. consumer, but also significant increasing problems for the banking system as these sharp increases in job losses lead to further delinquencies on loans and securities and lower than expected recovery rates.

The latest figures – published this week - on mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures suggest a spike not only in subprime and near-prime delinquencies, but now also on prime mortgages. So the problems of the economy are significantly affecting the banking system. Even if for a couple of other quarters banks are going to use the new Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) rules and under-provisioning for loan losses to report better-than-expected results, by Q4, with unemployment rates above 10 percent, that short-term accounting fudging will have a significant impact on reported earnings.  And this will show the underlying weakness in the economy. So banks may fudge it for a couple of other quarters, but eventually the effects of very sharp unemployment rates and still sharply falling home prices are going to drag down earnings and have a sharp effect on losses and capital needs of the banks and of the entire financial system.

Essentially, the results today suggested that there are not as many green shoots.  These green shoots, as we’ve argued, are mostly yellow weeds that may even turn into brown manure if a double dip W-shaped recession occurs in 2010-2011. And it’s not just the employment situation. Real consumption and retail sales remain weak. Industrial production remains weak. The housing market, in terms of price adjustment, remains weak, even if the quantities - demand and supply - may be closer to bottoming out. Indeed, the inventory of unsold new homes is so large that you could stop producing new homes for almost a year to get rid of that inventory.  Moreover, about 50% of existing home sales are distressed sales (short sales and foreclosed homes).

The labor market conditions may have a significant effect on how long it takes for the housing market to bottom out. It’s already estimated that by the end of this year, there will be about 8.4 million people who have a mortgage who have lost jobs, and therefore have essentially little income. Therefore, the number of people who will have difficulties servicing their mortgages is going to rise very sharply.

Home prices have already fallen from their peak by about 27 percent. Based on our analysis, they are going to fall by at least another 40 percent, and more likely 45 percent, before they bottom out. They are still falling at an annualized rate of over 18 percent. That fall of at least 40-45% percent of home prices from their peak is going to imply that about half of all households that have a mortgage – about 25 million of the 51 million that have mortgages – are going to be underwater with negative equity in their homes, and therefore will have a significant incentive to just walk away from their homes.

The job market report is essentially the tip of the iceberg. It’s a significant signal of the weaknesses in the economy. It affects consumer confidence. It affects labor income. It affects consumption. It affects the willingness of firms to start increasing production. It has significant consequences of the housing market. And it has significant consequences, of course, on the banking system.

Overall, it’s an extremely weak report and suggests that weakness in the labor markets is going to continue, and that the recession is more likely to continue through the end of the year and the beginning of next year. It also suggests that recovery will be anemic, subpar, below trend. We are still estimating that U.S. growth next year is going to be 1 percent above the 2009 level, well below a potential growth rate of 3 percent.  This is because there is little deleveraging of households, corporate firms and financial institutions while there is a massive re-leveraging of the public sector with sharply rising deficits and debts as many of the private losses have been socialized.

There are also signs that there may be forces leading to a double-dip recession, sometime toward the second half of next year or towards 2011. If oil prices rise too much, too fast, too soon, that’s going to have a negative effect on trade and real disposable income in oil-importing countries (US, Europe, Japan, China, etc.). Also concerns about unsustainable budget deficits are high and are going to remain high, with growth anemic and unemployment rising. These deficits are already pushing long-term interest rates higher as investors worry about medium- to long-term stability. If these budget deficits are going to continue to be monetized, eventually, toward the end of next year, you are going to have a sharp increase in expected inflation - after three years of deflationary pressures - that’s going to push interest rates even higher.

For the time being, of course, there are massive deflationary pressures in the economy: the slack in the goods markets, with demand falling relative to supply-and-excess capacity. The rising slack in labor markets, which are controlling wages and labor costs and pushing them down, implies that deflationary pressures are going to be dominant this year and next year.

But eventually, large budget deficits and their monetization are going to lead – towards the end of next year and in 2011 – to an increase in expected inflation that may lead to a further increase in ten-year treasuries and other long-term government bond yields, and thus mortgage and private-market rates. Together with higher oil prices driven up in part by this wall of liquidity rather than fundamentals alone, this could be a double whammy that could push the economy into a double-dip or W-shaped recession by late 2010 or 2011. So the outlook for the US and global economy remains extremely weak ahead.  The recent rally in global equities, commodities and credit may soon fizzle out as an onslaught of worse- than-expected macro, earnings and financial news take a toll on this rally, which has gotten way ahead of improvement in actual macro data.

http://www.rgemonitor.com/

27615  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Inside Workers on: July 05, 2009, 09:20:27 AM
Inside Workers


By Tzvi Freeman
When you look at a human being, you see his hands working, his feet walking, his mouth talking. You don't see his heart, his brain, his lungs and kidneys. They work quietly, inside. But they are the essential organs of life.

The world, too, has hands and feet -- those who are making the news and effecting change. The heart, the inner organs, they are those who work quietly from the inside, those unnoticed. Those who do a simple act of kindness without knowing its reward.
27616  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Marriage on: July 04, 2009, 02:32:42 PM
Rachel:

That is a utterly remarkable piece.

Thank you for bringing it here.

Marc
27617  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: July 03, 2009, 06:05:30 PM
Amen CCP.

@Anyone:

  Any word on the sit rep with that NK tanker we are shadowing?
27618  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-- Europe on: July 03, 2009, 06:04:32 PM
Huss:

You know I consider you a brother in arms, so forgive a moment of smart-assedness, but I gather your response means you are backing off your claim of the Russians opening bases in Latin America, and therefore acknowledging the point implicit in my question about how we might feel about a Russian base/alliance of mutual defense with Russia-- yes?

Turning to the situation in Georgia:  What you report is quite consistent with what I read in Stratfor and elsewhere.  Sucks for the Georgians!!!  And yes the Russkis are being their bad old KGB, imperialistic, butthole selves.  That said-- my question about Bush's judgment in getting us involved and getting the Georgians to rely upon us is questionable.   To harp on a point I have made several times before, in the 2004 election even his weenie opponent was calling for expanding the US military by 50,000 troops-- but Bush-Rumbo, still too proud to admit that what was going on in Iraq was more than a bunch of Saddamite remnants, refused to admit that we needed to expand our military.

I have nothing inherently against trying to knock out the Russkis as a major power while they were down, but it seems distinctly unsound to try it with all our bandwidth used up.  As best as I can tell, Bush showed very poor judgment here and left us badly overextended.
27619  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 03, 2009, 04:45:49 PM
Some news about the ongoing "Iran Caper"
Last update - 14:49 03/07/2009     
 
 
Israeli sub sails Suez sending message to Iran 
By Reuters 
Tags: Israel news, Suez, submarine   
 
An Israeli submarine sailed the Suez Canal to the Red Sea as part of a naval drill last month, defense sources said on Friday, describing the unusual maneuver as a show of strategic reach in the face of Iran.

Israel long kept its three Dolphin-class submarines, which are widely assumed to carry nuclear missiles, away from Suez so as not to expose them to the gaze of Egyptian harbormasters.

It was unclear when last month the vessel left the Mediterranean. One source said the voyage was planned for months and so was not related to unrest after the June 12 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whom the Israelis see as promoting the pursuit of nuclear weapons to threaten them.
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Sailing to the Gulf without using Suez would force the diesel-fueled Israeli submarines, normally based in the Mediterranean, to circumnavigate Africa - a weeks-long voyage.

That would have limited use in signaling Israel's readiness to retaliate should it ever come under an Iranian nuclear attack.

Shorter-term, the submarines' conventional missiles could also be deployed in any Israeli strikes on Iran's atomic sites, which Tehran insists have only civilian energy purposes.

A defense source said the Israeli navy held an exercise off Eilat last month and that a Dolphin took part, having traveled to the Red Sea port though Suez. Israel has a naval base at Eilat, a 10-km (6-mile) strip of coast between Egypt and Jordan, but officials say it has no submarine dock there.

"This was definitely a departure from policy," said the source, who declined to give further details on the drill or say whether the Dolphin had undergone Egyptian inspections in the canal, through which the submarine sailed unsubmerged.

A military spokeswoman had no immediate comment on the voyage, first reported on Friday by the Jerusalem Post.

Egyptian officials at Suez said they would neither confirm nor deny reports regarding military movements. One official said that if there was such a passage by Israelis in the canal, it would not be problematic as Egypt and Israel are not at war.

Egypt is one of only two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel, but relations remain cool. However, Arab states that are allies of the United States appear to share some of Israel's concerns about non-Arab Iran's nuclear program.

Israel is assumed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal, but does not discuss this under an "ambiguity" policy billed as deterring its enemies while avoiding provocations.

Another Israeli defense source with extensive naval experience said the drill "showed that we can far more easily access the Indian Ocean, and the Gulf, than before".

But the source added: "If indeed our subs are capable of doing to Iran what they are believed to be capable of doing, then surely this is a capability that can be put into action from the Mediterranean?"

Each German-made Dolphin has 10 torpedo tubes, four of them widened at Israel's request - to accommodate, some independent analysts believe, nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. But there have been questions about whether these would have the 1,500-km
(1,000-mile) range needed to hit Iran from the Mediterranean.

Israel plans to acquire two more Dolphins early next decade. Naval analysts say this could allow it to set up a rotation whereby some of the submarines patrol distant shores while others secure the Israeli coast or dock to undergo maintenance.
 
27620  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-- Europe on: July 03, 2009, 12:03:50 PM
I saw about the joint exercises, but as far as the logic of the point goes, were they or we doing this first?

As far as opening bases goes, when?  Where?

You are a serious student of this part of the world (Georgia, etc) so I would be particularly glad to get your assessment of my additional questions/points.
27621  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Marriage on: July 03, 2009, 09:41:13 AM
Not a perfect fit for this thread, but I didn't know where else to put it.
==============================

By KAY S. HYMOWITZ
Is marriage in the midst of the social equivalent of the financial meltdown? The first inkling -- the Bear Stearns moment, if you will -- came almost a year ago when the National Enquirer reported that John Edwards appeared to be the father of a love child. The full-scale crisis hit in the past weeks with les affaires Ensign, Sanford and (at least according to rumor) reality-show star Jon Gosselin. Adding to the sense of a Great Marital Depression was a much discussed article in the Atlantic by performer and writer Sandra Tsing Loh about her own infidelity and ultimate separation from her husband, titled "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off."

Yes, marriage is suffering a full-scale crisis of consumer confidence. Some say that marriage is an outdated institution. Others argue that humans are not designed for long-term monogamy, especially these days. "Our life expectancy has shot from 47 to 77," Ms. Loh observes, "isn't the idea of lifelong marriage obsolete?" Responding to Ms. Loh's article in the online magazine Double X, Kerry Howley proposed that we relieve ourselves of the ideal of permanence that has been a defining characteristic of the institution since men and women began tilling the earth. Ms. Loh, Ms. Howley noted, had been married for 20 years and produced two children. That's a pretty good run, isn't it? People change, life moves on, new love calls. And for skeptics who point out that children might quibble with this sort of deregulation, you could still argue, OK, give the kids 18 years and then you can call the whole thing off.

In any crisis, people tend to panic and forget basic facts. This meltdown is no exception. First and foremost, marital breakdown is not rampant across the land. It is concentrated among low-income and black couples. Americans seem to have a lot of trouble grasping this fact, probably because so much public space is taken up by politicians, celebrities and journalists with marriages on the skids. But in actuality, the divorce rate for college-educated women has been declining since 1980. Out-of-wedlock childbearing among the educated class remains rare. The bottom line is that higher-income, college-educated couples are far more likely to get married and stay married than their less-educated and lower-income peers. We shouldn't go so far as to call Ms. Loh and Mr. Sanford, if he decides to return to the heart he left in Buenos Aires, outliers. But they do nothing to clarify a key problem facing the country, which remains the apartheid state of marriage.

The seemingly reasonable notion that marriage is crashing because we're likely to live till 80 also doesn't hold up. The typical divorce is not of a midlife couple bored with finishing each other's sentences; it's of a twosome who have just written the last thank-you note for wedding gifts. More than one-fifth of marriages break up within five years. The median age at first divorce is 30.5 for males and 29 for females. The risk of break-up goes up after one year of marriage and peaks at 4½ years. That's right. A lot of Americans barely wait till the paint is dry in the new family room before setting out for more promising territory.

But if recent high-profile break-ups don't tell us much about our systemic failure, they do illustrate a paradox of marriage as it has evolved in the post-boomer era. On the one hand, despite their sophistication, the marrying classes still want love with a capital L. The New York Times nuptials pages, once simple status announcements about Muffy Branford marrying J.W.R. Witherspoon, now include details of how the couple met and found a full-tilt, love-of-my-life connection. People may admit that passion fades a bit, but soul-mate idealism is a defining part of contemporary marriage. So is the "relationship work" that is supposedly required to sustain it. On the other hand, the college-educated marrying kind believes -- correctly, judging from the considerable research on the subject -- that their children will be better off growing up with their father and mother in the house. In this sense, they take a practical view; marriage is an investment in their children's future.

The cruel joke for the good investor, though, is that the latter practical goal -- kids -- undermines the former idealistic one: love. Kids tend to decrease marital satisfaction, social scientists tell us. It starts with the first child and goes downhill from there. Yes, all couples, including the childless, find their ardor cooling over time. And couples with children still enjoy lots of things together, especially, as Arthur Brooks, the author of "Gross National Happiness," has quipped, "spending time away from kids."

But children take a toll on a twosome expecting to maintain an intense, soulful love bond. They suck up all the oxygen that used to be spent, um, communicating. Ms. Loh tells us that her husband is a "good man . . . a decent man." She just didn't feel the connection anymore. No doubt marrieds have long suffered after the thrill was gone and marriage was about the kids needing shoes or the grass requiring mowing; their disappointment gave birth to the "midlife crisis." But the disillusioned Soul Mater, his or her lofty dreams dashed, is especially vulnerable. It just wasn't supposed to be like this. We're different from our parents and grandparents. We don't have to compromise. We can leave. (Long pause.) Can't we?

It doesn't help that the Soul Mate seeker likely suffers from the American disease of restlessness. The essence of the marriage vow is to stay still. But as a group, Americans are an especially flighty bunch, always looking for a better opportunity, a bigger home, a second chance. We're no less fidgety in our mating habits, as Andrew Cherlin demonstrates in his recent book, "Marriage-Go-Round." Americans divorce and "repartner" far more than do people in other Western countries, either by remarrying or shacking up. True, the educated classes are less inclined to actually hop on the go-round. But that does not mean that they don't hear the barker calling: You can start over, you can do better.

Those who maintain that long-term, monogamous unions are at odds with nature are surely on to something. But it's worth remembering that the first human beings didn't spend 9 to 5 in an office cubicle or, for that matter, wear clothes. Marriage is a human invention designed to create order and some semblance of permanence out of natural chaos in order to rear the next generation.

One of the many ironies of the institution is that marriage seems more satisfying to those who no longer have children in the house. If people simply grew more tired of each other over time, then we would expect that couples unloading the Explorer at the college dorm would head directly to the lawyer's office. On the contrary, marital happiness increases once the kids are gone, despite the prospect of decades of dreary, pass-the-Maalox-dear evenings. A few years ago the AARP warned of a growing trend in "gray divorce"; others cautioned about the coming of "Viagra divorce," as older men came to realize that, with a little chemical help, they could restart their engines. Didn't happen. Empty-nesters still stay together for the duration, just as they did 40 years ago.

Perhaps it's the declining hormones of late middle age. Perhaps it's the joint pride of a difficult task completed. Maybe they're satisfied with their investment, after all.

Ms. Hymowitz is the author of "Marriage and Caste in America" and a contributing editor to City Journal.
27622  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: American History on: July 03, 2009, 09:31:41 AM
second post of the morning

By WILLIAM J. BENNETT and JOHN CRIBB
'I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence." This statement from Abraham Lincoln in Philadelphia in 1861 was no staff-manufactured line. It was an expression from a man filled with deep emotion at finding himself standing in the hall where a courageous band of rebels pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to a high and dangerous purpose -- American independence. We celebrate them on July Fourth.

Lincoln revered the Declaration and its ideals of liberty and equality. In an 1858 speech in Chicago, he said it was "the father of all moral principle" in the American republic, and its spirit "the electric cord . . . that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together."

He spent much time pondering the hardships endured by those who had fought for independence. In that speech he called them "iron men." As a boy, he read accounts of the patriots' battlefield struggles in Parson Weems's "Life of Washington" and thought, as he told the New Jersey state Senate in 1861, that "there must have been something more than common that those men struggled for."

Yet in Lincoln's time, the Declaration and its spirit was under attack. Proponents of slavery insisted that the Founders did not intend for the God-given right to liberty in the Declaration to apply to all people. The notion that "all men are created equal" was belittled by John C. Calhoun in 1848 as "the most false and dangerous of all political error."

The Declaration had its detractors abroad as well. Across Europe, members of privileged classes sneered at the thought of people ruling themselves. Many a nobleman viewed the Civil War as proof that the American democratic experiment would fail.

British statesman John Bright took them to task: "Privilege thinks it has a great interest in this contest, and every morning, with blatant voice, it . . . curses the American Republic. Privilege has beheld an afflicting spectacle for many years past. It has beheld thirty millions of men, happy and prosperous, without emperor, without king . . . Privilege has shuddered at what might happen to old Europe if this grand experiment should succeed."

Lincoln understood that if the American experiment of self-government were to succeed, the country must be saved on the basis of the Declaration of Independence. It was no accident that in the first sentence of the Gettysburg Address, he quoted the Declaration, reminding Americans that from the beginning the nation had been dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Lincoln also understood that the struggle over the Declaration was part of an eternal struggle between two principles at the basis of all government. "They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time, and will ever continue to struggle," as he put it in one of his famous debates with Stephen A. Douglas. "The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings."

The struggle continues today. Terrorists and dictators hate the United States for its founding principles. They prefer to rob people of liberty, subjugate women, and spread their power by the sword. Yet America still has iron men and women who stand up to such tyrants. These iron men are now fighting on battlefields in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Declaration of Independence is not a legal document in the same sense as the Constitution. No one talks about a law being "undeclarational," or opines about their "declarational rights." Yet it remains the first and in some ways most universal of our great founding documents. As Lincoln said in Philadelphia in February 1861, there is "something in that Declaration giving liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but hope to the world for all future time."

As long as the United States stands fast for the moral principles of July 4, 1776, we will continue to be the bulwark of freedom, the last best hope of earth.

Messrs. Bennett and Cribb are the authors of the "American Patriot's Almanac" (Thomas Nelson, 2008).
27623  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 03, 2009, 09:17:48 AM
Exactly so. angry
27624  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fall of Capitalism, Rise of Islam conference in Chicago on: July 03, 2009, 09:16:32 AM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8Wg3j6MTJg

So, who are these folks?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5H79kwO128&NR=1
27625  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: American History on: July 03, 2009, 08:54:10 AM
Monday, July 1, was heavy and hot, and a full-scale summer storm passed through the city late in the morning. John Dickinson of Pennsylvania rose to speak. He knew he was endangering the respect in which he was broadly held, his "popularity," but he once again counseled caution: Slow down, separation from Britain is "premature," to declare independence now would be "to brave the storm in a skiff made of paper." When he sat down, "all was silent except for the rain that had begun spattering against the widows."

Then John Adams rose. He wished he had the power of the ancient orators of Greece and Rome, he said; surely they had never faced a question of greater human import.

 
Getty Images
 He made, again, the case for independence. Now is the time, the facts are inescapable, the people are for it, we are not so much declaring as acknowledging reality. "Looking into the future [he] saw a new nation, a new time, all much in the spirit of lines he had written in a recent letter to a friend: '. . . We are in the very midst of revolution, the most complete, unexpected, and remarkable of any in the history of the world.' " Outside the wind picked up and the storm struck hard with thunder and lightning. Storms had in the past unnerved Adams, but he spoke steadily, logically and compellingly for two hours.

After nine hours of debate, the voting commenced. The yeses were in the majority, but there were more noes than expected. Someone moved a final vote be taken the next morning. Adams and the rest hastily agreed.

That night word reached Philadelphia that the British fleet, a hundred ships, had been sighted off New York.

The next day, July 2, the final voting began. It went quickly. This was a pivotal moment in the political history of man. A creative, imaginative, historically conscious person in the middle of a thing so huge and full of consequence will try to notice things, to keep them forever in his eyes and pass them on. Here is a thing John Adams would never forget:

At 9 in the morning, just as the doors to the Congress were to be closed, "Caesar Rodney, mud spattered, 'booted and spurred,' made his dramatic entrance. The tall, thin Rodney—the 'oddest-looking man in the world,' Adams once described him—had been made to appear stranger still, and more to be pitied, by a skin cancer on one side of his face that he kept hidden behind a scarf of green silk. But, as Adams had also recognized, Rodney was a man of spirit, of 'fire.' Almost unimaginably, he had ridden eighty miles through the night, changing horses several times, to be there in time to cast his vote."

All of these quotes are from David McCullough's "John Adams." More on Mr. McCullough in a moment.

The vote was completed: 12 for independence, New York abstaining, no one opposing. "The break was made, in words at least: on July 2, 1776, in Philadelphia, the American colonies declared independence. If not all 13 clocks had struck as one, twelve had, and with the others silent the effect was the same."

On July 3, Congress argued over the wording and exact content of the formal Declaration. An indictment of the slave trade was dropped. In all, Thomas Jefferson saw roughly 25% of what he'd written wind up on the floor.

On July 4, discussion ended, debate was closed, a vote on the final draft of the Declaration of Independence was called, and the results were as on July 2. Congress ordered the document be printed. They'd sign it in a month. For now, John Hancock and one other, Charles Thompson, fixed their signatures.

Those present thought the great day had been July 2—the vote for independence itself. John Adams, who'd emoted over the 2nd in letters to Abigail, didn't even mention the 4th , and Thomas Jefferson famously went shopping that afternoon for ladies' gloves.

But on the morning of July 5, the people of Philadelphia started getting their hands on independently printed copies of the Declaration, and the impact was electric: My God, look what they said yesterday—"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." And on the 6th, a local newspaper carried the text of what had been agreed upon on the 4th. And so the celebration of the Fourth of July as one of the signal moments in the history of human freedom, was born. And so we mark it still.

* * *

 
Getty Images
 
David McCullough.
On David McCullough: Almost all the details in the above come from his "John Adams" and "1776". He is America's greatest living historian. He has often written about great men and the reason may be a certain law of similarity: He is one also. His work has been broadly influential, immensely popular, respected by his peers (Pulitzer Prizes for "Truman" and "John Adams," National Book Awards for "The Path Between the Seas" and "Mornings on Horseback") and by the American public. It is not often—it is increasingly rare—that the academy shares the views of the local dry cleaner, the student flying coach and the high school teacher, but all agree on Mr. McCullough, as they did half a century ago on, say, Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg. He is admired by normal people and esteemed by the intellectual establishment.

Why? Here are a few reasons. He has the eye of a gifted reporter and the depth of a historian. He sees and explains the true size of an incident or endeavor, he factors in, always, the fact that we are human, and he captures the detail that is somehow so telling—it was a scarf of green silk, not soft muslin, that Rodney wore to the vote on American independence. He writes like a dream, of course. He is broad gauged and has range—the Johnstown flood, the building of the Panama Canal, the founders.

Mr. McCullough betrays no need to be contrarian but is only too happy to knock down history's clichés, to wit George III, the mad doofus, who was in fact "tall and rather handsome" and played both the violin and piano. "His favorite composer was Handel, but he adored also the music of Bach." He rendered "quite beautiful architectural drawings," assembled a distinguished art collection, collected books that in time constituted "one of the finest libraries in the world," loved astronomy, was nonetheless practical, and had a gift for putting people at their ease. He impressed even crusty old Samuel Johnson, who after meeting him called him "the finest gentleman I have ever seen." As for the famous madness, he suffered not during the American Revolution but later in life from what appears to have been "prophyria, a hereditary disease not diagnosed until the twentieth century."

One can't know if Mr. McCullough is correct in his judgment here, or fully so. One can know he inspected the available data, pondered it, and attempted a fair-minded assessment. He is reliable. (Of how many can that be said?) And he loves America. His work has gone to explaining it to itself, to telling its story.

More Peggy Noonan
Read Peggy Noonan's previous columns.

And click here to order her new book, Patriotic Grace. Almost two years ago, I was lucky enough to tour Mount Vernon with a dozen people including him. (If I were David McCullough I would know the date and time. But I know the weather.) At the bottom of a stairway leading to the second floor, we chatted for a moment, and I asked him how he accounted in his imagination for the amazing fact of the genius cluster that founded our nation. How did so many gifted men, true geniuses, walk into history at the same time, in the same place, and come together to pursue so brilliantly a common endeavor? "I think it was providential," he said, simply.

Well, so do I. If you do too, it's part of what you're celebrating today.

Later, after dusk, an unforgettable moment. The Mount Vernon Ladies Association, led by Gay Gaines, retiring after three years as one of its greatest regents—she'd worked herself like a rented mule to solidify and expand the operation—gave us dinner on a long table on the piazza, the veranda overlooking the unchanged Potomac. It is where President and Mrs. Washington dined. It was hot, and now dark, and David McCullough rose to speak of Washington, of his courage and leadership. A storm had been gathering all day. Now it broke, and as he spoke of Valley Forge there was, literally, a sudden roar of thunder, and lightning lit the clouds over the river. Mr. McCullough continued, with his beautiful voice, and we all got a chill: What kind of moment is this? What could we possibly have done to deserve it?

Nothing of course. Some gifts are just given.

That's what Mr. McCullough's work has been, a gift, one big enough for a nation. So thanks today to the memory of John and Tom and George, and old Ben, and John Dickinson, and Caesar Rodney too. Good work, gentlemen. You too, David.
27626  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Donors find a home on: July 03, 2009, 08:40:05 AM
BO seems to be within normal ranges on this:
============

WSJ

By JONATHAN WEISMAN and YUKA HAYASHI

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo has seen its share of luminaries in the ambassador's suite. Former Vice President Walter Mondale, former Senate Majority Leaders Mike Mansfield and Howard Baker and former House Speaker Tom Foley are among those who have brokered relations with a complex and critical ally in a region bristling with military and trade tensions.

 Obama Beholden to Campaign Donors?

WSJ's White House Correspondent Jonathan Weisman discusses President Obama's pick for the U.S. Ambassador post in Japan -- San Francisco Bay Area lawyer and Obama's chief Silicon Valley fundraiser John Roos, who has no diplomatic experience and no Japanese.
President Barack Obama's pick for the post is from a different mold: John Roos, a San Francisco Bay area lawyer, was the president's chief Silicon Valley fundraiser and contributions "bundler." He has no diplomatic experience.

Mr. Obama's choice of Mr. Roos, along with other political boosters -- from former investment banker Louis B. Susman, known as the "vacuum cleaner" for his fundraising prowess, to Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney -- has raised eyebrows among some who thought the president would extend his mantra of change to the diplomatic corps.

"We're not only insulting nations [that] we're appointing these bundlers to, we're risking U.S. diplomatic efforts in these key countries," said Craig Holman, a government-affairs lobbyist at watchdog group Public Citizen.

This tension can be traced back to Mr. Obama's claim during last year's campaign that President George W. Bush engaged in an "extraordinary politicization of foreign policy." Mr. Obama said he instead would ensure that hires are based on merit, rather than party or ideology. The American Academy of Diplomacy, an association of former diplomats, seized on the comments in lobbying him to lower the portion of ambassadors drawn from outside the foreign-service establishment to as little as 10% from the 30% average since President John F. Kennedy's tenure. (Mr. Bush's score was 33%.)

Foto caption: Entertainment executive Charles Rivkin is among major fund-raisers tapped for top ambassadorial postings.

Of the Obama administration's 55 ambassadorial nominees so far, 33 -- or 60% -- have gone to people outside the foreign-service ranks, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

That ratio is almost certain to tilt back toward career diplomats as dozens of the remaining posts are filled.

"The president said in January that he would nominate extremely qualified individuals like Mr. Roos, former Congressman Tim Roemer, and Miguel Diaz, who didn't necessarily come up through the ranks of the State Department, but want to serve their country in important diplomatic posts," said White House spokesman Tommy Vietor.

Mr. Obama has chosen some diplomatic heavy hitters. Diplomacy experts have praised the experience of Christopher Hill, ambassador to Iraq; Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, ambassador to Afghanistan; and United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice.

Representatives of Mr. Roos and other ambassadorial nominees said they wouldn't comment before confirmation, a customary position for all nominees, White House aides said.

Ronald E. Neumann, president of the Academy and a retired Foreign Service officer, cautioned that it is far too early to tell how the Obama lineup will look. When administrations turn over, the first ambassadors to leave their posts often are the prior president's political appointees; those spots are first to be filled, in turn, with new political appointees. Mr. Roos's predecessor in Tokyo, in fact, was a former business partner of Mr. Bush, although he had served as ambassador to Australia before the Japan post.

The president's slate of nominees thus far, Mr. Neumann said, "tells you it's not change, but it doesn't yet tell you what it is."

Mr. Obama's ambassadorial nominees include Kentucky Internet executive Matthew Barzun, an Obama fundraiser, for Sweden; Colorado businessman Vinai Thummalapally, the president's roommate at Occidental College, for Belize; and Howard W. Gutman, who pulled together a half million dollars in Obama contributions, for Belgium.

The Court of St. James's in London would get Mr. Susman, the former investment banker, who bundled at least $100,000 from donors for Mr. Obama's presidential run and $300,000 for his inauguration celebration, according to Public Citizen. Mr. Rooney, tapped for Ireland, threw his weight behind Mr. Obama ahead of the Pennsylvania primary. And Charles H. Rivkin, who if confirmed will be heading for Paris, is chief executive of entertainment company W!LDBRAIN Inc. and former president of Jim Henson Co., creator of the Muppets.

White House officials say the term "political appointee" often undersells a nominee's qualifications. Mr. Diaz, a professor at St. John's University and the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota, may not have diplomatic experience, but he would be the first theologian to be U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. Mr. Roemer, nominated as ambassador to India, also has no Foreign Service experience, but he was a prominent member of the 9/11 Commission.

Mr. Susman wasn't among the biggest fund-raisers for Mr. Obama, but he worked in Chicago at the epicenter of the Obama political apparatus. People familiar with his nomination attribute it to his role as an influential businessman and lawyer in the president's hometown.

Mr. Rivkin developed a connection with France and its language while his father was U.S. ambassador to Senegal and Luxembourg, both French-speaking countries, people familiar with the nomination say. Since 1968, the family has presented the annual Rivkin Award honoring constructive dissent in the Foreign Service. Mr. Gutman, a former Supreme Court clerk, served presidents of companies and countries for more than two decades at the Washington office of law firm Williams & Connolly.

The Swiss media aired some concerns about the choice of car-dealership magnate Don Beyer for the Geneva posting. The hope was for someone seasoned in financial issues, given White House pressure on Switzerland to make its banking system more transparent, according to Mr. Holman of Public Citizen.

Many in Japan, meanwhile, were surprised and even disappointed at the choice of Mr. Roos -- in part because it had been rumored in local media that the choice was to be Joseph Nye, a Harvard University professor of international relations and former assistant secretary of defense. Some commentators suggested the Roos nomination showed Mr. Obama's lack of interest in relations with Japan.

The Japanese now appear to be making the best of Mr. Roos's eventual arrival. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun business daily said the U.S.-Japan relationship has grown so mature that it doesn't require a big name as a go-between.

A White House official offered Tokyo some reassuring words: "John Roos is very close to the president, and having that can be very important."

Write to Jonathan Weisman at jonathan.weisman@wsj.com and Yuka Hayashi at yuka.hayashi@wsj.com

27627  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-- Europe on: July 03, 2009, 02:22:56 AM
Many good points in this article.

That said, I find myself wishing its thinking were placed more into a historical context. 

Did not President Clinton promise that we would not take NATO into eastern Europe?

What was the point of our supporting the creation of a breakaway country in the former Yugoslavia against extremely strong Russian discontent on the point? (for reasons of the implications in international law for regions on their periphery IIRC)

How would we feel about Mexico forming military alliance with Russia?

Was it not a major error of President Bush to start something with Russia that we were not in a position to back up?  We still have 130,000 troops in Iraq, and our generals in Afpakia have been told not to ask for any more troops, even though they need them.  If Pakistan goes down the toilet, how will we supply our troops in Afg?  President BO seems to think cutting a deal with Putin et al is the way to go.  (The blithering stupidity of such a course of action I trust is apparent to all here.)  The Russians continue to play balance of power politics pitting us and the Iranians with occasional support for Iranian nukes and militarization.

Good rule:  Don't finish what you can't start.

Led as we are at the moment, with our economy rapidly spiraling into serious vortexes, are we up to this?
27628  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: America's Indivisible Imperatives on: July 03, 2009, 01:22:28 AM
Geopolitical Diary: America's Indivisible Imperatives
July 2, 2009
Americans will celebrate the Fourth of July holiday on Saturday. For STRATFOR, this is a time to reflect on just how the world came to look the way it does today.

In the late 18th century, Britain was the most powerful country in the world for two reasons: first, it was an island, and second, the height of human technology at the time was deepwater navigation. Combining advancements in naval operations with the protection of the English Channel, Britain could focus all of its efforts on maritime-based imperial expansion, while its European peers were forced to fight for dominance on land. The result was a far-flung and remarkably lucrative empire with which no one could compete.

Eventually, Britain’s American colonies grew too large in land area, wealth and population to control from afar, and a revolution wrested them from the Crown’s control. Since that development, five core rules – what we call “geopolitical imperatives” — have determined the behavior of the colonies that became the United States.

The first imperative was to secure strategic depth for the new nation. One of the most successful tactics employed by the British during the American Revolutionary War was the coastal raid. Britain’s superior navy proved able not only to blockade the fledgling country’s coast, but also to move men and materiel up and down the coast much faster than the Americans could over land. That combination of economic and military disadvantages almost cost the nascent United States the revolution — and gravely threatened it again in the War of 1812, when the new country lost its capital for a short time. Thus, in its early years, the United States aggressively pushed inland to establish economic centers that were less exposed to naval power. By moving across the Appalachians, the United States opened up vast tracts of territory to absorb all the immigrants that Europe could supply.

The second U.S. imperative was to secure North America. Depth — particularly that acquired in the Louisiana Purchase — gave the United States insulation from the sea, but it also put the country into direct contact with land-based powers. This was partially resolved immediately after the War of 1812, when the United States and Canada forged agreements that would gradually loosen Canada’s ties to mother Britain.

But the much larger event was settled in Texas. During Texas’s battle for independence, the forces of Mexican general Santa Ana crossed north of the Chihuahuan Desert and sacked the Alamo. From there, they marched east to pursue retreating Texican forces in a series of battles that, at the time, the Mexicans seemed fated to win. Had Santa Ana succeeded in subduing the Texas rebellion, he would have been within reach of the very lightly defended New Orleans. (And after the agony of crossing the deserts and mountains of Chihuahua, this would have been a cakewalk.)

Santa Ana’s intent is lost to history, but if he had chosen to seize New Orleans, history would have turned out very differently. The Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Red and Tennessee River basins — all the territory of the Louisiana Purchase, in addition to that ceded by Britain to the United States at the end of the Revolutionary War — would have been held hostage by Mexican forces, which would have controlled the only point of sea access. As fate had it, Santa Ana did not make it that far; Texican forces defeated his army at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836, achieving independence for Texas and pushing Mexican forces back through the desert. The United States quickly annexed Texas in the aftermath (1845), largely to secure New Orleans, and a mere year later prosecuted a war with Mexico to underscore the point. North America — or at least the really useful bits — belonged to the United States.

With North America largely secure from land invasion and coastal raiding, the third step for the United States was to gain control of the ocean approaches. This was accomplished in two phases.

First, the United States took over the Sandwich Islands (aka Hawaii), the only territory in the Pacific that lay within an easy sail of the West Coast, in 1898. That pretty much sealed up the Pacific.

The Atlantic — which contained European assets in the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Canada and South America — was more complicated. The United States seized Puerto Rico and Cuba from Spain in 1898. But the breaking point here did not occur until the early days of World War II, when the United States allowed the United Kingdom to borrow some mothballed destroyers in exchange for almost every naval base the British owned in the Western Hemisphere. What had been the world’s largest navy for three centuries was suddenly a nonpower in half the globe.

Once a nation controls its approaches, the next logical step — the fourth imperative — is to reach farther and control the oceans themselves. In this endeavor, the battles of World War II proved pivotal. The United States seized direct control of places like Micronesia in the Pacific, and the Azores and Iceland in the Atlantic. At the war’s conclusion, the United States’ containment strategy first and foremost included courting island and naval powers. Some, like Australia and Norway, proved to be new friends. The United Kingdom and Japan, onetime rivals, became regional lynchpins. But there was a deep commonality among these powers: They all controlled maritime chokepoints and were situated at or near the world’s major shipping lanes. Leveraged by U.S. naval power, their strategic locations ensured American dominance of the waves. In the years since, alliances with states like Singapore, Denmark and Taiwan have sealed the United States’ maritime dominance.

The only way to challenge a country that controls a continent-sized mass is to control an even bigger one. To prevent that from happening, the United States works to keep Eurasia divided. World Wars I and II both were fought in large part to prevent a single power from rising to dominance. After these wars, the United States developed a much more nuanced approach to its fifth imperative; rather than fighting battles directly, the Americans assisted states that were in a position to — and wanted to — resist local hegemons. The strategy most famous in this regard was containment of the Soviet Union — ringing a hostile power with a necklace of willing allies that feared the Soviets every bit as much as the Americans did. That strategy has been repeated with other powers ever since — backing Taiwan against China, Yugoslavia against the Soviet Union, Pakistan against India, Iraq against Iran, and more recently, Kuwait against Iraq.

These five strategic imperatives are not found anywhere in the Constitution or laws of the United States. But every one of the country’s 44 presidents, regardless of intention, has conformed to them, compelled by the inexorable logic of geography. In yesterday’s wars, under George W. Bush, U.S. forces stormed into Afghanistan and Iraq to preclude the formation of a unified, jihadist-inspired Muslim empire. In preparation for tomorrow’s conflict with a resurgent Russia, Barack Obama is attempting to recruit Poland and Turkey as active checks on Russian power. And the same geopolitical imperatives that drove these actions will shape American efforts into the future — just as they have since 1776.
27629  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: July 03, 2009, 01:17:55 AM
Congratulations!!!
27630  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine on: July 03, 2009, 01:17:21 AM
That pack you gave me is one of the most awesome presents any one has ever given me.

I do confess to being a bit intimidated by it though embarassed cheesy

I need flight time with it , , ,
27631  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: toronto dbma training camp featuring Crafty Dog, Top Dog and Sled Dog Aug 21-23 on: July 02, 2009, 11:14:08 PM
Quite delighted to see who is coming  cool
27632  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Thought crimes on: July 02, 2009, 10:03:28 PM
Holder: Whites and Ministers will not be protected by proposed hate crimes legislatio

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

http://muffledoar.blogspot.com/

Attorney General Eric Holder testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 25 and gave startling testimony that means Christian ministers and whites will not be protected under the hate crimes statute proposed by the Department of Justice. Holder says that the proposed statute would only protect “traditional” victims of hate crimes, and then he goes on to name a series of Democratic Party constituencies.

Senator Sessions asks Holder about the scope of the protected classes. (Beginning at 58:43 – running through 60:09) Sessions presents a hypothetical where a minister gives a sermon, quotes the Bible about homosexuality and is thereafter attacked by a gay activist because of what the minister said about his religious beliefs and what scripture says about homosexuality.

Holder: “Well the statute would not necessarily cover that. On the other hand, I think the concern that actually has been expressed is if the action was reversed. . . . We are talking about, if in fact the person, we are talking about crimes that have a historic basis. Groups who have been targeted for violence as a result of their skin color, sexual orientation, that is what this legislation is designed to cover. The fact that someone might strike somebody as a result of pure speech, again, . . . we don’t have the indication that somebody was motivated to strike at somebody because they were in one of these protected classes. That would not be covered by the statute.”

Later, Senator Tom Coburn asks Holder if the muslim radical who killed army recruiter Pvt. Long committed a hate crime. Holder’s equivocation was disturbing. “There is a certain element of hate in that, I suppose.” He would suppose. You can see him “suppose” at minute 73:00.

Then Holder goes on to list the only groups intended to be protected by the proposed law. This is racial identity politics taking a sinister turn. Holder explicitly says the proposed law only protects classes “where there is a history” of violence against those groups. “What we are looking for here in terms of expansion of the statute are instances where there is a historic basis. See, groups of people who are singled out for violence perpetrated against them because of who they are. I don’t know if we have the same historical record to say members of our military have been targeted in the same way that people who are African American, people who are Jewish, people who are gay, have been targeted over the many years.” (minute 73:00-74:00)

Based on Holder’s testimony, it is clear that the law would not protect white victims who were attacked because of their race by racial minorities. Holder’s testimony explicitly excluded prosecution of the gay activist who attacks a Christian minister or priest because of his sermon on homosexuality, but the legislation protects the gay activist when he is attacked. This is a dangerous development to our laws and our nation. One of the most fundamental principles in the founding of this nation was that all are created equal. A bloody Civil War was fought to sustain it. No group enjoys privileged status over the other. Once the Department can decide to protect certain individuals for crimes, and not others, those not protected will lose faith in the system. Loss of faith in the system is more than a simple inconvenience. Confidence that laws are enforced fairly and equally preserves peace and prosperity. Lawlessness ensues when the law is perceived as a weapon against certain groups for the benefit of other groups. It is not enough to simply point to a bundle of statistics or history, or to Matthew Sheppard, to justify unfairness in the law.
__________________
If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”—Samuel Adams
27633  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Long Legged Mack Daddy and Riotin' White People on: July 02, 2009, 06:26:07 PM


The unique Dr. Manning  cheesy cheesy cheesy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hFiab7fjak
27634  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Waziristan on: July 02, 2009, 02:37:25 PM
My third post of the day:

Pakistan: Expanding the Waziristan Offensive
Stratfor Today » July 1, 2009 | 2112 GMT

ROSHAN KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
A Pakistani soldier at a checkpoint outside of Wana, South Waziristan on June 22Summary
The Pakistani military distributed pamphlets in the restive agency of North Waziristan urging locals to cooperate in the fight against Taliban militants. The move comes as the military seeks to launch a narrowly focused operation against the Pakistani Taliban network of Baitullah Mehsud rather than the broader jihadist movement operating within Pakistan’s borders. The Mehsud network, however, will do all they can to force the military to broaden its operation, thereby stretching it to the limit.

Analysis
Pakistani army helicopters dropped pamphlets July 1 in Miramshah, the capital of North Waziristan Agency, urging locals to fully cooperate with the military against local Taliban elements. The pamphlet stressed that the Pakistani army has no plans to expand its military offensive to North Waziristan, but that it does reserve the right to attack militants who target the army. The text added, “The army guarantees protection from internal and external enemies and its security is the security of Islamic Republic of Pakistan; therefore, you should support Pakistan Army.”

Pakistan has ample reason to be concerned about North Waziristan right now. The Pakistani army is still engaged in intensive cleanup operations in Swat and surrounding areas within the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik has formed a habit of making rather sensational claims that the Swat, Malakand, Mingora, Kalam and Buner areas have been cleared completely of Taliban as part of a wider propaganda effort by the state to bolster public support for military operations. But the reality on the ground is much more complex, and Pakistani troops currently have limited capacity to hold their ground in the NWFP and at the same time turn their attention to the next big offensive in the lawless tribal area of South Waziristan along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.





Click image to enlarge
South Waziristan is where top Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud’s Tehrik-i-Taliban network is based, along with a number of al Qaeda-linked jihadists. Afghan Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani also uses this area as a launchpad for attacks against U.S., NATO and Afghan forces in southern Afghanistan. In the Waziristan operation, named Operation Rah-i-Nijat (Salvation Path), Pakistan is primarily concerned with Mehsud and his Pakistani Taliban allies who have turned against the state and have demonstrated a capability to reach beyond the autonomous tribal areas to carry out spectacular suicide attacks in the heart of Pakistan, including the urban areas of Lahore.

Though the United States would prefer otherwise, the Pakistani army has no intentions of expanding its military offensive to the Haqqani network and other Afghan Taliban whose militant focus lies across the border in Afghanistan. The Pakistani military has long sought to distinguish between a “good” and “bad” Taliban to avoid having every Pashtun in its northwest become a potential enemy. As far as Islamabad is concerned, there are still Islamist militants operating in Pakistani borders who can be considered assets rather than enemies of the state.

Operation Rah-i-Nijat is thus designed to be extremely limited in scope. This is a significant contrast to the Swat operation in the NWFP, which borders the Punjabi heartland and is still formally integrated into Pakistan’s provincial structure. Whereas the Pakistani military now understands the need to flush the Taliban out of the NWFP, the autonomous tribal regions to the west pose a far greater challenge in terms of political, social and economic integration. Moreover, Pakistani Taliban have done their part to eliminate scores of pro-government tribal elders and chiefs whom Islamabad desperately needs to carry out these military operations and bar the Taliban from setting up parallel governments. In spite of these obstacles, the Pakistani military understands the need at the very least to target Mehsud’s network to protect the Pakistani core from the country’s largest and most capable Taliban grouping.

The Pakistani military is currently focused on the first phase of the operation, the intelligence war, against Mehsud in Waziristan. This involves Pakistani military and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officers mapping out which tribal chiefs and elders it can count on to support a conventional assault in the region so the army can whittle down Mehsud’s base of operations and his escape routes. One such escape route would run through the mountains of North Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan’s restive Khost province, where the Pakistani army has much stronger relationships with tribal chieftains than it does in South Waziristan. As long as the Pakistani army can lock down support in North Waziristan, the more capable it will be in interdicting the flow of fleeing Taliban from the southern areas.

But major flaws in this strategy are already coming to light. Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur scrapped a peace deal June 30 signed in mid-February 2008 with the state. That peace deal had the approval of a grand jirga consisting of 286 tribal elders from the Dawar and Wazir subtribes of the Utmanzai tribe in North Waziristan, thus providing the Pakistani military with a tribal barrier to Taliban infiltration. Mehsud and his Taliban brethren, however, were two steps ahead of the army and appear to have succeeded in bringing Gul Bahadur back to their side. Three major attacks in the area — a massive kidnapping of more than 500 students from the Razmak Cadet college June 1, two ambushes on military convoys with improvised explosive devices on Miramshah-Mir Ali road June 26 and another major attack on a 250-member convoy in North Waziristan’s Madakhel area June 28 — all bear Gul Bahadur’s fingerprints. It thus comes as no surprise that the Taliban commander called off the peace deal June 30 to drive home the message to the Pakistani military that the military’s support network in North Waziristan is no longer intact.

Seeing its South Waziristan operation in danger, the Pakistani military has now gone into high gear to try and salvage public support in North Waziristan. The pamphlets are just one of several ways the army is trying to reassure locals that it has no intentions of expanding the offensive to their area and that they are better off remaining on the state’s side.

Speculation is already spreading that the army may have no choice but to expand the scope of the Waziristan operation to the north now that Gul Bahadur has drawn a line in the sand. Still, the Pakistani military would greatly prefer to keep North Waziristan out of artillery range. Expanding the operation to North Waziristan, Balochistan and Kurram agency — all areas where militants are likely to flee — will only stretch the military in multiple directions. And this is exactly what Mehsud’s network is aiming for.

From Mehsud’s point of view, having the government expand its operation not only will take some heat off of his own militant enclaves, it also could well turn tribal loyalties against the state. Moreover, stretching the military operation in the tribal belt also could compel battle-hardened Afghan Taliban hiding out in Pakistan to back up their Pakistani Taliban brethren once they see their own strongholds come under direct threat.

Between cleaning up in and around Swat and struggling to lay the groundwork for an offensive in Waziristan, the problems are mounting for the Pakistani military. Mehsud is clearly waging his own intelligence war to protect key escape routes, divert the military’s focus and transform the state’s allies into enemies. Meanwhile, Pakistani forces are up against the clock to knock the legs out from under Mehsud while public morale is still swinging in favor of the military. While this operation was designed to be narrow in scope, the Pakistani Taliban network has every intent of stretching the military to the limit.
27635  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / South Bay Tea Party on: July 02, 2009, 12:44:36 PM
South Bay Tea Party Web Site
1. JULY 17th Event
2. Letter from Nathan
3. Action Item from California Tea Party Patriots.
July 17th - Demonstrate our Support of Free Market Health Care:
We have nation changing issues of Socialized Medicine at a cost that will enslave your children for a generation. OR if the government limits the price (salaries) artificially then who is going to study for 7 to 14 years to become a doctor when they could do something else, so we will have much worse health care in the end. OR they will have to limit procedures, so less needed health care and only to those that the government approves of.




When: July 17, 2009, 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM Friday evening rush hour.

Where:

On the sidewalk in front of Jane Harman's Office

2321 E. Rosecrans Avenue

El Segundo, CA 90245

What: Bring signs protesting Socialized Medicine, and in support.

How: Obey all peace officers. But make a difference. Bring a friend. Parking is all around, and you can even pay to park in Jane's building.




Click Here To Respond for the Event and to Take a Survey

Have your friends sign up to our email notifications here

Note from Nathan Mintz:
Dear Tea Party Patriots,

Liberals in Washington have already begun spinning up their plans for passing socialized medicine quietly through congress in coming weeks. Like our health care was being auctioned off to the most inefficient bidder, we have stood by and watched as the (lowball) price tag for this has risen from 600 billion, to 1 trillion, to now 1.6 trillion. With this on top of the 10 trillion dollars in printed money we have to look forward to in the next 10 years, Barack Obama seems determined to ensure his place in history as the nationalizer-in-chief.

With Democrats holding a near filibuster proof majority in the Senate and some moderate Republicans,like Susan Collins of Maine, in danger of waffling on this most critical issue, what can be done to confront this seemingly unstoppable Juggernaut?

As Tea Party organizers, we won't stand idly by and watch as Liberals try to ruin an industry that works well for 80% of Americans, by replacing it with a clinical DMV. We know that the real problem with health care is largely one created by government, which is already responsible for between 45% to 56% of US health care spending. That's right- the government is the largest spender on health care already, so its hard to see how getting them more involved will reduce the cost.

We need your help: Doctors, Nurses, health care professionals, we know that you face the real problems in health care everyday. We need your words, stories and anecdotes to help make the public case that in this case, government is not the solution, but part of the problem. We need your participation in a push across local print media to help voice vehement opposition against this usurpation of another critical American industry and help do our part locally to oppose this horrible plan.

Please contact either Nathan or Gary with your thoughts or desire to help.

Thanks,

Nathan Mintz

Chairman

South Bay Tea Party

California Tea Party Patriots Organization:
This is an emergency request for all California Tea Party Patriots to speak out through massive phone calls and prevent the legislature from passing huge tax increases. We defeated them at the polls, and now they intend to just circumvent us. The disdain they have for us is palpable, and they intend to shove taxes down our throats whether we support them or not.




So we have a plan...


CALL YOUR LEGISLATOR! BIG VOTE ON HIGHER TAXES IMMINENT

Our contacts in the Capitol say that they are being bombarded with calls, visits and emails from unions and various types of welfare recipients and labor union shills demanding higher taxes. A vote is expected to take place TOMORROW or WEDNESDAY. We need to make our voices heard too.

THE PROPOSAL
As if the politicians have suddenly forgotten that California voters just rejected higher taxes by nearly 2 to 1, Democrats in the legislature are now pushing for higher car taxes, tobacco taxes, oil taxes and more.

Now on the table are these so-called “revenue enhancements”

$2 BILLION IN OIL TAXES. With gas prices already approaching $3 a gallon, this will hurt anyone who drives

$1.50 A PACK CIGARETTE TAX INCREASE. This scheme would try to make smokers pay for the politician’s mistakes. In reality, people will find ways around it or stop smoking. When the revenue does not materialize, then the pressure will be on to raise other taxes.

$15 CAR TAX HIKE. Car tax increases got Gray Davis recalled and were a part of the reason Prop. 1A was rejected. What part of "NO" don’t they understand? We the people spoke loud and clear, but they are still not listening!

There are also various accounting gimmicks and a proposal to drain the reserve fund. This is not the answer. We need real reforms to save our state. Cut the wasteful spending, trim the bloated bureaucracy, get rid of boards and commissions that do nothing, address a prison system that costs us twice as much per inmate as paid by other states.


HOW TO MAKE YOURSELF HEARD
Raising taxes requires a 2/3 vote. This protects taxpayers from the problem of two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. The Democratic legislators are all expected to support the tax increases, but they cannot go ahead with their plans without Republican support. We need to urge the Republican legislators to stay strong.

All legislators claim to welcome input from citizens, so feel free to share your opinions with the Democratic politicians as well. If you are a Democrat, be sure to tell them.

See the No New Taxes site for a list of legislators. Republican names are in red, Democrats are in blue.


FIND YOUR OWN LEGISLATOR
Click on this link, it will find out for you by asking for your zip code:

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html


Let them know that you OPPOSE ANY KIND OF TAX INCREASE and SUPPORT FUNDAMENTAL REFORMS THAT REIN IN SPENDING BY CUTTING OUT THE WASTE FRAUD AND ABUSE.


NO NEW TAXES WEBSITE TOTALLY OVERHAULED: CHECK OUT
http://www.nonewtaxes.net
The NNT site has been totally overhauled. Now, there is a wealth of news and press releases for you to read as well as a great video of an SEIU representative threatening the legislature.

If you have not yet seen it, see the Darrell Steinberg “translation” page where you can see a video of him and tell you what he is really saying. Direct link to that here: http://www.nonewtaxes.net/steinberg.htm

Please forward this to all of your local lists so that we make the maximum impact possible on the legislature, and prevent them from proceeding with this travesty.

Tea Party Patriots

www.TeaPartyPatriots.org

27636  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We still hold these truths , , , on: July 02, 2009, 11:54:43 AM
Independence Day 2009: We still hold these truths...
"Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" --Patrick Henry

As we celebrate the 233rd year of our Declaration of Independence, let us look at the common parlance associated with the polar spectrum of current political ideology (while such a review is still permitted by the state), and explore what is meant by "Left versus Right," "Liberal versus Conservative" and "Tyranny versus Liberty"?


Tyranny v. Liberty (poster available at PatriotShop.US)

First, a little history.

On July 4th of 1776, our Founders, assembled as representatives to the Second Continental Congress, issued a declaration stating most notably: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ... That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government..."

In other words, our Founders affirmed that our rights, which are inherent by Natural Law as provided by our Creator, can't be arbitrarily alienated by men like England's King George III, who believed that the rights of men are the gifts of government.

Our Founders publicly declared their intentions to defend these rights by attaching their signatures between July 4th and August 2nd of 1776 to the Declaration. They and their fellow Patriots pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor as they set about to defend the Natural Rights of man.

At the conclusion of the American War for Independence in 1783, our Founders determined the new nation needed a more suitable alliance among the states than the Articles of Confederation. After much deliberation, they proposed the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1787, ratified in 1788 and implemented in 1789 as subordinate guidance to our Declaration of Independence.

Since that time, generations of American Patriots have laid down their lives "to support and defend" our Constitution -- and I would note here that their sacred oath says nothing about a so-called "Living Constitution" as advocated by the political left.

Given that bit of history as a backdrop, consider the lexicography of our current political ideology.

On the dark side of the spectrum would be Leftists, liberals and tyrants.

(Sidebar: One should not confuse "classical liberalism" with "contemporary liberalism." The former refers to those, like Thomas Jefferson, who advocated individual liberty, while the latter refers to those, like Barack Hussein Obama, who advocate statism, which is the antithesis of liberty.)

Statism, as promoted by contemporary American liberals, has as its objective the establishment of a central government authorized as the arbiter of all that is "good" for "the people" -- and conferring upon the State ultimate control over the most significant social manifestation of individual rights, economic enterprise.

On the left, all associations between individuals ultimately augment the power and control of the State. The final expression and inevitable terminus of such power and control, if allowed to progress unabated, is tyranny.

The word "tyranny" is derived from the Latin "tyrannus," which translates to "illegitimate ruler."

Liberals, then, endeavor to undermine our nation's founding principles in order to achieve their statist objectives. However, politicians who have taken an oath to "support and defend" our Constitution, but then govern in clear defiance of that oath, are nothing more than illegitimate rulers, tyrants.

 
(Sidebar: Some Leftists contend that Communism and Fascism are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Properly understood, however, both of these forms of government are on the left, because both have as a common end the establishment of an omnipotent state led by a dictator.)

Over on the "right wing" of the political spectrum, where the light of truth shines, would be "conservatives," from the Latin verb "conservare," meaning to preserve, protect and defend -- in this case, our Constitution.

American conservatives are those who seek to conserve our nation's First Principles, those who advocate for individual liberty, constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and the promotion of free enterprise, strong national defense and traditional American values.

Contemporary political ideology is thus defined by tyrannus and conservare occupying the Left and Right ends of the American political spectrum, defining the difference between liberals and conservatives.

Though there are many devoted protagonists at both ends of this scale, the space in between is littered with those who, though they identify with one side or the other, are not able to articulate the foundation of that identity. That is to say, they are not rooted in liberal or conservative doctrine, but motivated by contemporaneous political causes associated with the Left or Right. These individuals do not describe themselves as "liberal" or "conservative" but as Democrat or Republican. Further, they tend to elect ideologically ambivalent politicians who are most adept at cultivating special interest constituencies.

That having been said, however, there is a major difference between those on the Left and the Right, as demonstrated by our most recent national elections. Those on the Left tend to form a more unified front for the purpose of electability; they tend to embrace a "win at all costs" philosophy, while those on the right tend to spend valuable political capital drawing distinctions between and among themselves.

I would suggest that this disparity is the result of the contest between human nature and Natural Law.

The Left appeals to the most fundamental human instincts to procure comfort, sustenance and shelter, and to obtain those basic needs by the most expedient means possible. The Left promises that the State will attain those needs equally, creating a path of least resistance for that fulfillment.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Right promotes the tenets of Natural Law -- individual liberty and its attendant requirements of personal responsibility and self-reliance.

Clearly, one of these approaches is far easier to sell to those who have been systematically dumbed down by government educational institutions and stripped of their individual dignity by the plethora of government welfare programs.

That easy sell notwithstanding, the threat of tyranny can eventually produce an awakening among the people and a reversal of trends toward statism. But this reversal depends on the emergence of a charismatic, moral leader who can effectively advocate for liberty. (Ronald Wilson Reagan comes to mind.)

For some nations, this awakening has come too late. The most notable examples in the last century are Russia, Germany, Italy and China, whose peoples suffered greatly under the statist tyrannies they came to embrace. In Germany and Italy, the state collapsed after its expansionist designs were forcibly contained. In Russia, the state collapsed under the weight of 70 years of economic centralization and ideological expansionism.

The Red Chinese regime, having witnessed the collapse of the USSR, has so far avoided its own demise by combining an autocratic government with components of a free enterprise economic system. (My contacts in China, including that nation's largest real estate developers and investment fund managers, believe the Red regime will be gone within five years.)

Of course, there exists an American option for the rejection of tyranny: Revolution. And it is an essential option, because the Natural Rights of man are always at risk of contravention by tyrants. At no time in the last century has our Republic faced a greater threat from "enemies, domestic" than right now.

"Our individual salvation," insists Barack Obama, "depends on collective salvation." In other words, BHO's tyranny, et al, must transcend Constitutional authority. And in accordance with his despotic ideals, Obama is now implementing "the fundamental transformation of the United States of America" that he promised his cadre of liberal voters.

It is yet to be seen whether the current trend toward statism will be reversed by the emergence of a great conservative leader, or by revolution, but if you're betting on another Ronald Reagan, I suggest you hedge your bet.

Our Declaration's author, Thomas Jefferson, understood the odds. He wrote, "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground," and he concluded, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Accordingly, George Washington advised, "We should never despair, our Situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new Exertions and proportion our Efforts to the exigency of the times."

Indeed we must.

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Publisher, PatriotPost.US
27637  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / We still hold these truths , , , on: July 02, 2009, 11:52:48 AM
Independence Day 2009: We still hold these truths...
"Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" --Patrick Henry

As we celebrate the 233rd year of our Declaration of Independence, let us look at the common parlance associated with the polar spectrum of current political ideology (while such a review is still permitted by the state), and explore what is meant by "Left versus Right," "Liberal versus Conservative" and "Tyranny versus Liberty"?


Tyranny v. Liberty (poster available at PatriotShop.US)

First, a little history.

On July 4th of 1776, our Founders, assembled as representatives to the Second Continental Congress, issued a declaration stating most notably: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ... That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government..."

In other words, our Founders affirmed that our rights, which are inherent by Natural Law as provided by our Creator, can't be arbitrarily alienated by men like England's King George III, who believed that the rights of men are the gifts of government.

Our Founders publicly declared their intentions to defend these rights by attaching their signatures between July 4th and August 2nd of 1776 to the Declaration. They and their fellow Patriots pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor as they set about to defend the Natural Rights of man.

At the conclusion of the American War for Independence in 1783, our Founders determined the new nation needed a more suitable alliance among the states than the Articles of Confederation. After much deliberation, they proposed the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1787, ratified in 1788 and implemented in 1789 as subordinate guidance to our Declaration of Independence.

Since that time, generations of American Patriots have laid down their lives "to support and defend" our Constitution -- and I would note here that their sacred oath says nothing about a so-called "Living Constitution" as advocated by the political left.

Given that bit of history as a backdrop, consider the lexicography of our current political ideology.

On the dark side of the spectrum would be Leftists, liberals and tyrants.

(Sidebar: One should not confuse "classical liberalism" with "contemporary liberalism." The former refers to those, like Thomas Jefferson, who advocated individual liberty, while the latter refers to those, like Barack Hussein Obama, who advocate statism, which is the antithesis of liberty.)

Statism, as promoted by contemporary American liberals, has as its objective the establishment of a central government authorized as the arbiter of all that is "good" for "the people" -- and conferring upon the State ultimate control over the most significant social manifestation of individual rights, economic enterprise.

On the left, all associations between individuals ultimately augment the power and control of the State. The final expression and inevitable terminus of such power and control, if allowed to progress unabated, is tyranny.

The word "tyranny" is derived from the Latin "tyrannus," which translates to "illegitimate ruler."

Liberals, then, endeavor to undermine our nation's founding principles in order to achieve their statist objectives. However, politicians who have taken an oath to "support and defend" our Constitution, but then govern in clear defiance of that oath, are nothing more than illegitimate rulers, tyrants.

 
(Sidebar: Some Leftists contend that Communism and Fascism are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Properly understood, however, both of these forms of government are on the left, because both have as a common end the establishment of an omnipotent state led by a dictator.)

Over on the "right wing" of the political spectrum, where the light of truth shines, would be "conservatives," from the Latin verb "conservare," meaning to preserve, protect and defend -- in this case, our Constitution.

American conservatives are those who seek to conserve our nation's First Principles, those who advocate for individual liberty, constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and the promotion of free enterprise, strong national defense and traditional American values.

Contemporary political ideology is thus defined by tyrannus and conservare occupying the Left and Right ends of the American political spectrum, defining the difference between liberals and conservatives.

Though there are many devoted protagonists at both ends of this scale, the space in between is littered with those who, though they identify with one side or the other, are not able to articulate the foundation of that identity. That is to say, they are not rooted in liberal or conservative doctrine, but motivated by contemporaneous political causes associated with the Left or Right. These individuals do not describe themselves as "liberal" or "conservative" but as Democrat or Republican. Further, they tend to elect ideologically ambivalent politicians who are most adept at cultivating special interest constituencies.

That having been said, however, there is a major difference between those on the Left and the Right, as demonstrated by our most recent national elections. Those on the Left tend to form a more unified front for the purpose of electability; they tend to embrace a "win at all costs" philosophy, while those on the right tend to spend valuable political capital drawing distinctions between and among themselves.

I would suggest that this disparity is the result of the contest between human nature and Natural Law.

The Left appeals to the most fundamental human instincts to procure comfort, sustenance and shelter, and to obtain those basic needs by the most expedient means possible. The Left promises that the State will attain those needs equally, creating a path of least resistance for that fulfillment.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Right promotes the tenets of Natural Law -- individual liberty and its attendant requirements of personal responsibility and self-reliance.

Clearly, one of these approaches is far easier to sell to those who have been systematically dumbed down by government educational institutions and stripped of their individual dignity by the plethora of government welfare programs.

That easy sell notwithstanding, the threat of tyranny can eventually produce an awakening among the people and a reversal of trends toward statism. But this reversal depends on the emergence of a charismatic, moral leader who can effectively advocate for liberty. (Ronald Wilson Reagan comes to mind.)

For some nations, this awakening has come too late. The most notable examples in the last century are Russia, Germany, Italy and China, whose peoples suffered greatly under the statist tyrannies they came to embrace. In Germany and Italy, the state collapsed after its expansionist designs were forcibly contained. In Russia, the state collapsed under the weight of 70 years of economic centralization and ideological expansionism.

The Red Chinese regime, having witnessed the collapse of the USSR, has so far avoided its own demise by combining an autocratic government with components of a free enterprise economic system. (My contacts in China, including that nation's largest real estate developers and investment fund managers, believe the Red regime will be gone within five years.)

Of course, there exists an American option for the rejection of tyranny: Revolution. And it is an essential option, because the Natural Rights of man are always at risk of contravention by tyrants. At no time in the last century has our Republic faced a greater threat from "enemies, domestic" than right now.

"Our individual salvation," insists Barack Obama, "depends on collective salvation." In other words, BHO's tyranny, et al, must transcend Constitutional authority. And in accordance with his despotic ideals, Obama is now implementing "the fundamental transformation of the United States of America" that he promised his cadre of liberal voters.

It is yet to be seen whether the current trend toward statism will be reversed by the emergence of a great conservative leader, or by revolution, but if you're betting on another Ronald Reagan, I suggest you hedge your bet.

Our Declaration's author, Thomas Jefferson, understood the odds. He wrote, "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground," and he concluded, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Accordingly, George Washington advised, "We should never despair, our Situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new Exertions and proportion our Efforts to the exigency of the times."

Indeed we must.

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Publisher, PatriotPost.US
27638  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Josh Koshchek on: July 02, 2009, 11:13:48 AM
Josh Koshchek:  Discuss strengths and weaknesses please.  Any footage of him fighting?

27639  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / French show some brass, AQ annoyed on: July 02, 2009, 09:21:09 AM
Al Qaeda vows revenge over France's plan to ban the burqa

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

Al Qaeda vows 'dreadful revenge' on France over plans to ban the burqa

By Ian Sparks
Last updated at 11:02 PM on 01st July 2009


Al Qaeda terrorists have vowed to 'wreak dreadful revenge' on France over its plans to ban the burkha.

The chilling warning comes after President Nicolas Sarkozy said the Islamic garment which covers the head and body 'debases women' and is not welcome in his country.

French MPs have set up a commission to decide if it should be made illegal for women to hide their faces in public.

Now leaders of Al Qaeda's North African network have called on French Muslims to react 'with the utmost hostility'.

One Islamic extremist website carried the message: 'We will seek dreadful revenge on France by all means at our disposal, for the honour of our daughters and sisters.

'Our Mujahadin followers must not remain silent in the face of such provocation and such injustice.'

The call for an inquiry into burkhas was made two weeks ago by Left-wing deputy Andre Gerin, who described them as 'mobile prisons'.

He said: 'We find it intolerable to see images of these imprisoned women when they come from Iran, Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia.

'Today in many cities, we see several Muslim women wearing the burkha, which covers and fully envelops the body and the head, or the niqab which allows only the eyes to be shown. They are totally unacceptable on the territory of the French republic.'

President Sarkozy supported a ban, saying: 'These head and body covers make women prisoners and deprive them of their identity.

'The burkha is not a religious sign, it's a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement.

'I say solemnly that it will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic.'

Paris Mosque leader Dalil Boubakeur supported the proposal for a commission, adding: 'There is a growing number of women wearing the burkha in France, which could be taken as a sign that some fundamentalist trends are gaining ground.

'But any official debate on this issue should be on the condition that they listen to what the experts on Islam have to say on the issue.'

In 2004, France - which is home to Europe's largest Muslim population of five million - banned school pupils from wearing veils and other religious symbols as part of the government's drive to defend secularism.

Last year, the country's highest court refused to grant French citizenship to a Moroccan woman who wears a burkha on the grounds that her Muslim practices were incompatible with French gender equality and secularism laws.

Reacting to the Al Qaeda terror threat, a French government spokesman said: 'Our security services will remain on their continuously high level of vigilance against any threat to security in France.'

The commission of 58 MPs is expected to announce its decision later this year on whether a law should be passed to ban the burkha.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worl...an-burqa.html#
27640  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Declaration of Independence on: July 02, 2009, 09:06:44 AM
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
hen in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
27641  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson and ciphers/codes on: July 02, 2009, 08:47:22 AM
second post
WSJ

By RACHEL EMMA SILVERMAN
For more than 200 years, buried deep within Thomas Jefferson's correspondence and papers, there lay a mysterious cipher -- a coded message that appears to have remained unsolved. Until now.

The cryptic message was sent to President Jefferson in December 1801 by his friend and frequent correspondent, Robert Patterson, a mathematics professor at the University of Pennsylvania. President Jefferson and Mr. Patterson were both officials at the American Philosophical Society -- a group that promoted scholarly research in the sciences and humanities -- and were enthusiasts of ciphers and other codes, regularly exchanging letters about them.

View Full Image

University of Pennsylvania Archives
 
Robert Patterson
In this message, Mr. Patterson set out to show the president and primary author of the Declaration of Independence what he deemed to be a nearly flawless cipher. "The art of secret writing," or writing in cipher, has "engaged the attention both of the states-man & philosopher for many ages," Mr. Patterson wrote. But, he added, most ciphers fall "far short of perfection."

To Mr. Patterson's view, a perfect code had four properties: It should be adaptable to all languages; it should be simple to learn and memorize; it should be easy to write and to read; and most important of all, "it should be absolutely inscrutable to all unacquainted with the particular key or secret for decyphering."

Mr. Patterson then included in the letter an example of a message in his cipher, one that would be so difficult to decode that it would "defy the united ingenuity of the whole human race," he wrote.

There is no evidence that Jefferson, or anyone else for that matter, ever solved the code. But Jefferson did believe the cipher was so inscrutable that he considered having the State Department use it, and passed it on to the ambassador to France, Robert Livingston.

The cipher finally met its match in Lawren Smithline, a 36-year-old mathematician. Dr. Smithline has a Ph.D. in mathematics and now works professionally with cryptology, or code-breaking, at the Center for Communications Research in Princeton, N.J., a division of the Institute for Defense Analyses.

A couple of years ago, Dr. Smithline's neighbor, who was working on a Jefferson project at Princeton University, told Dr. Smithline of Mr. Patterson's mysterious cipher.

Dr. Smithline, intrigued, decided to take a look. "A problem like this cipher can keep me up at night," he says. After unlocking its hidden message in 2007, Dr. Smithline articulated his puzzle-solving techniques in a recent paper in the magazine American Scientist and also in a profile in Harvard Magazine, his alma mater's alumni journal.

The "Perfect" Cipher?
View Interactive

The 1801 letter from Robert Patterson to Thomas Jefferson The code, Mr. Patterson made clear in his letter, was not a simple substitution cipher. That's when you replace one letter of the alphabet with another. The problem with substitution ciphers is that they can be cracked by using what's termed frequency analysis, or studying the number of times that a particular letter occurs in a message. For instance, the letter "e" is the most common letter in English, so if a code is sufficiently long, whatever letter appears most often is likely a substitute for "e."

Because frequency analysis was already well known in the 19th century, cryptographers of the time turned to other techniques. One was called the nomenclator: a catalog of numbers, each standing for a word, syllable, phrase or letter. Mr. Jefferson's correspondence shows that he used several code books of nomenclators. An issue with these tools, according to Mr. Patterson's criteria, is that a nomenclator is too tough to memorize.

Jefferson even wrote about his own ingenious code, a model of which is at his home, Monticello, in Charlottesville, Va. Called the wheel cipher, the device consisted of cylindrical pieces, threaded onto an iron spindle, with letters inscribed on the edge of each wheel in a random order. Users could scramble and unscramble words simply by turning the wheels.

But Mr. Patterson had a few more tricks up his sleeve. He wrote the message text vertically, in columns from left to right, using no capital letters or spaces. The writing formed a grid, in this case of about 40 lines of some 60 letters each.

Then, Mr. Patterson broke the grid into sections of up to nine lines, numbering each line in the section from one to nine. In the next step, Mr. Patterson transcribed each numbered line to form a new grid, scrambling the order of the numbered lines within each section. Every section, however, repeated the same jumbled order of lines.

The trick to solving the puzzle, as Mr. Patterson explained in his letter, meant knowing the following: the number of lines in each section, the order in which those lines were transcribed and the number of random letters added to each line.

The key to the code consisted of a series of two-digit pairs. The first digit indicated the line number within a section, while the second was the number of letters added to the beginning of that row. For instance, if the key was 58, 71, 33, that meant that Mr. Patterson moved row five to the first line of a section and added eight random letters; then moved row seven to the second line and added one letter, and then moved row three to the third line and added three random letters. Mr. Patterson estimated that the potential combinations to solve the puzzle was "upwards of ninety millions of millions."

 
Thomas Jefferson
After explaining this in his letter, Mr. Patterson wrote, "I presume the utter impossibility of decyphering will be readily acknowledged."

Undaunted, Dr. Smithline decided to tackle the cipher by analyzing the probability of digraphs, or pairs of letters. Certain pairs of letters, such as "dx," don't exist in English, while some letters almost always appear next to a certain other letter, such as "u" after "q".

To get a sense of language patterns of the era, Dr. Smithline studied the 80,000 letter-characters contained in Jefferson's State of the Union addresses, and counted the frequency of occurrences of "aa," "ab," "ac," through "zz."

Dr. Smithline then made a series of educated guesses, such as the number of rows per section, which two rows belong next to each other, and the number of random letters inserted into a line.

To help vet his guesses, he turned to a tool not available during the 19th century: a computer algorithm. He used what's called "dynamic programming," which solves large problems by breaking puzzles down into smaller pieces and linking together the solutions.

The overall calculations necessary to solve the puzzle were fewer than 100,000, which Dr. Smithline says would be "tedious in the 19th century, but doable."

After about a week of working on the puzzle, the numerical key to Mr. Patterson's cipher emerged -- 13, 34, 57, 65, 22, 78, 49. Using that digital key, he was able to unfurl the cipher's text:

"In Congress, July Fourth, one thousand seven hundred and seventy six. A declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. When in the course of human events..."

That, of course, is the beginning -- with a few liberties taken -- to the Declaration of Independence, written at least in part by Jefferson himself. "Patterson played this little joke on Thomas Jefferson," says Dr. Smithline. "And nobody knew until now."
27642  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / This sounds ominous on: July 02, 2009, 08:34:54 AM
By JACK GOLDSMITH
Published: July 1, 2009
Cambridge, Mass.
NY Times

OUR economy, energy supply, means of transportation and military defenses are dependent on vast, interconnected computer and telecommunications networks. These networks are poorly defended and vulnerable to theft, disruption or destruction by foreign states, criminal organizations, individual hackers and, potentially, terrorists. In the last few months it has been reported that Chinese network operations have found their way into American electricity grids, and computer spies have broken into the Pentagon’s Joint Strike Fighter project.

Acknowledging such threats, President Obama recently declared that digital infrastructure is a “strategic national asset,” the protection of which is a national security priority.

One of many hurdles to meeting this goal is that the private sector owns and controls most of the networks the government must protect. In addition to banks, energy suppliers and telecommunication companies, military and intelligence agencies use these private networks. This is a dangerous state of affairs, because the firms that build and run computer and communications networks focus on increasing profits, not protecting national security. They invest in levels of safety that satisfy their own purposes, and tend not to worry when they contribute to insecure networks that jeopardize national security.

This is a classic market failure that only government leadership can correct. The tricky task is for the government to fix the problem in ways that do not stifle innovation or unduly hamper civil liberties.

Our digital security problems start with ordinary computer users who do not take security seriously. Their computers can be infiltrated and used as vehicles for attacks on military or corporate systems. They are also often the first place that adversaries go to steal credentials or identify targets as a prelude to larger attacks.

President Obama has recognized the need to educate the public about computer security. The government should jump-start this education by mandating minimum computer security standards and by requiring Internet service providers to deny or delay Internet access to computers that fall below these standards, or that are sending spam or suspicious multiple computer probes into the network.

The government should also use legal liability or tax breaks to motivate manufacturers — especially makers of operating systems — to improve vulnerability-filled software that infects the entire network. It should mandate disclosure of data theft and other digital attacks — to trusted private parties, if not to the public or the government — so that firms can share information about common weapons and best defenses, and so the public can better assess which firms’ computer systems are secure. Increased information production and sharing will also help create insurance markets that can elevate best security practices.

But the private sector cannot protect these networks by itself any more than it can protect the land, air or water channels through which foreign adversaries or criminal organizations might attack us. The government must be prepared to monitor and, if necessary, intervene to secure channels of cyberattack as well.

The Obama administration recently announced that it would set up a Pentagon cybercommand to defend military networks. Some in the administration want to use Cybercom to help the Department of Homeland Security protect the domestic components of private networks that are under attack or being used for attacks. Along similar lines, a Senate bill introduced in April would give the executive branch broad emergency authority to limit or halt private Internet traffic related to “critical infrastructure information systems.”

President Obama has tried to soothe civil liberties groups’ understandable worries about these proposals. In the speech that outlined the national security implications of our weak digital defenses, the president said the government would not monitor private sector networks or Internet traffic, and pledged to “preserve and protect the personal privacy and civil liberties we cherish as Americans.”

But the president is less than candid about the tradeoffs the nation faces. The government must be given wider latitude than in the past to monitor private networks and respond to the most serious computer threats.

These new powers should be strictly defined and regularly vetted to ensure legal compliance and effectiveness. Last year’s amendments to the nation’s secret wiretapping regime are a useful model. They expanded the president’s secret wiretapping powers, but also required quasi-independent inspectors general in the Department of Justice and the intelligence community to review effectiveness and legal compliance and report to Congress regularly.

Many will balk at this proposal because of the excesses and mistakes associated with the secret wiretapping regime in the Bush administration. These legitimate concerns can be addressed with improved systems of review.

But they should not prevent us from empowering the government to meet the cyber threats that jeopardize our national defense and economic security. If they do, then privacy could suffer much more when the government reacts to a catastrophic computer attack that it failed to prevent.

Jack Goldsmith, a professor at Harvard Law School who was an assistant attorney general from 2003 to 2004, is writing a book on cyberwar.

27643  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Marines try to retake valley on: July 02, 2009, 08:17:04 AM
second post of morning

NY Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — Almost 4,000 United States Marines, backed by helicopter gunships, pushed into the volatile Helmand River valley in southwestern Afghanistan early Thursday morning to try to take back the region from Taliban fighters whose control of poppy harvests and opium smuggling in Helmand provides major financing for the Afghan insurgency.

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U.S. Marines waited for helicopter transport as part of an operation in Helmand Province on Thursday. More Photos »

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Four thousand troops entered the Helmand River valley. More Photos >
The Marine Expeditionary Brigade leading the operation represents a large number of the 21,000 additional troops that President Obama ordered to Afghanistan earlier this year amid rising violence and the Taliban’s increasing domination in much of the country. The operation is described as the first major push in southern Afghanistan by the newly bolstered American force.

Helmand is one of the deadliest provinces in Afghanistan, where Taliban fighters have practiced sleek, hit-and-run guerrilla warfare against the British forces based there.

British troops in Helmand say they rarely get a clear shot at Taliban attackers, who ambush them with improvised explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles. The explosive devices — some made with fertilizer distributed to Afghan farmers in an effort to wean them from opium production — are the most feared weapon. The Taliban favor ambushes in the morning and evening and do not often strike during the blazing afternoon heat.

In recent weeks some British troops have been setting up what are known as “blocking positions” on bridges over irrigation canals and at other locations, apparently to help stop the flow of insurgents during the main military operation and to establish greater security before the presidential election scheduled for August. The British forces, whose main base in Helmand is adjacent to the main Marine base, will continue to support the new operation.

The British have had too few troops to conduct full-scale counterinsurgency operations and have often relied on heavy aerial weapons, including bombs and helicopter gunships, to attack suspected fighters and their hideouts. The strategy has alienated much of the population because of the potential for civilian deaths.

Now, the Marines say their new mission, called Operation Khanjar, will include more troops and resources than ever before, as well as a commitment by the troops to live and patrol near population centers to ensure that residents are protected. More than 600 Afghan soldiers and police officers are also involved.

“What makes Operation Khanjar different from those that have occurred before is the massive size of the force introduced, the speed at which it will insert, and the fact that where we go we will stay, and where we stay, we will hold, build and work toward transition of all security responsibilities to Afghan forces,” the Marine commander in Helmand Province, Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, said in a statement released after the operation began.

The Marines will be pushing into areas where NATO and Afghan troops have not previously established a permanent presence. As part of the counterinsurgency strategy, the troops will meet with local leaders, help determine their needs and take a variety of actions to make towns and villages more secure, said Capt. Bill Pelletier, a spokesman for the Marines, according to The Associated Press.

“We do not want people of Helmand Province to see us as an enemy; we want to protect them from the enemy,” Captain Pelletier said, The A.P. reported.

The goal of the operation is to put pressure on the Taliban militants “and to show our commitment to the Afghan people that when we come in we are going to stay long enough to set up their own institutions,” he said.

The 21,000 additional American troops that Mr. Obama authorized after taking office in January almost precisely matches the original number of additional troops that President George W. Bush sent to Iraq two years ago. It will bring the overall American deployment in Afghanistan to more than 60,000 troops. But Mr. Obama avoided calling it a surge and resisted sending the full reinforcements initially sought by military commanders.

Instead, Mr. Obama chose to re-evaluate troop levels over the next year, officials said. The Obama administration has said that the additional American commitment has three main strategies for denying havens for the Taliban and Al Qaeda: training Afghan security forces, supporting the weak central Afghan government in Kabul and securing the population.

In late March, Mr. Obama warned Congressional leaders that he would need more than the $50 billion in his budget for military operations and development efforts.

Asked by lawmakers about the prospect of reconciliation with moderate members of the Taliban, officials said Mr. Obama replied that he wanted to sift out hard-core radicals from those who were fighting simply to earn money.

Eros Hoagland contributed reporting.
27644  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 02, 2009, 08:12:09 AM
Its the NY Times, so caveat lector:

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QASIM PULA, Pakistan — Islamist charities and the United States are competing for the allegiance of the two million people displaced by the fight against the Taliban in Swat and other parts of Pakistan — and so far, the Islamists are in the lead.

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Mehmood Hassa, president of Al-Khidmat Foundation, gave a speech to displaced people living with host families in Yar Hussain in Swabi District in June.

 
The New York Times
Two million people have been displaced by the fight against the Taliban in Swat and other parts of Pakistan.
Although the United States is the largest contributor to a United Nations relief effort, Pakistani authorities have refused to allow American officials or planes to deliver the aid in the camps for displaced people. The Pakistanis do not want to be associated with their unpopular ally.

Meanwhile, in the absence of effective aid from the government, hard-line Islamist charities are using the refugee crisis to push their anti-Western agenda and to sour public opinion against the war and the United States.

Last week, a crowd of men, the heads of households uprooted from Swat, gathered here in this village in northwestern Pakistan for handouts for their desperate families. But before they could even get a can of cooking oil, the aid director for a staunchly anti-Western Islamic charity took full advantage of having a captive audience, exhorting the men to jihad.

“The Western organizations have spent millions and billions on family planning to destroy the Muslim family system,” said the aid director, Mehmood ul-Hassan, who represented Al Khidmat, a powerful charity of the strongly anti-American political party Jamaat-e-Islami.

The Western effort had failed, he said, but Pakistanis should show their strength by joining the fight against the infidels.

The authorities’ insistence that the Americans remain nearly invisible reveals the deep strains that continue to underlie the American-Pakistani relationship, even as cooperation improves in the fight against the Taliban, and public support for the war grows in Pakistan.

Yet Islamist and jihadist groups openly work the camps.

“Because of the lack of international agencies, there is a vacuum filled by actors that are Islamist and more than that, jihadist,” said Kristele Younes, a senior advocate with Refugees International, a Washington group established in 1979.

One of the most prominent jihadist charity groups, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, had been barred from the camps, according to Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmad, the head of the Pakistani Army’s disaster management group. The group was designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations Security Council in December.

Nonetheless, it set up operations in Mardan under a new name, Falah-e-Insaniyat, according to Himayatullah Mayar, the mayor of Mardan. After the order to leave the area, Falah-e-Insaniyat went underground but still appeared to be operating to some extent, Mr. Mayar said.

Signs of the organizational strength and robust coffers of Islamist charities were easy to see around the camps, often in contrast to the lack of services offered by the government.

For example, Al Khidmat, Mr. Hassan’s group, arranged to bring in eye surgeons from Punjab to staff a free eye clinic for the displaced, offering cataract operations and eyeglasses.

“Government hospitals are nonexistent here, and we are able to treat not only the displaced but the whole community,” said one of the surgeons, Dr. Khalid Jamal.

Meanwhile, Mr. Hassan was busy checking new temporary schools, health clinics and four ambulances on 24-hour service that Al Khidmat had set up.

Every day, he said, he personally supervised the distribution of food at three different places — sometimes at a home, sometimes in a camp. So far, he said, he had covered 400 of 450 villages near the city of Swabi. Always, he said, before the food is distributed, he delivers his exhortation to jihad.

By contrast, although a substantial amount of American aid is getting through, it is not branded as American, and Pakistani authorities have insisted that it be delivered in a “subtle” manner, General Ahmad said.

The general said he had told American officials that there would be an “extremely negative” reaction if Americans were seen to be distributing aid, particularly if it was delivered by American military aircraft.

“I said they couldn’t fly in Chinooks, no way,” General Ahmad said, referring to American military helicopters. The United States, he said, was seen as “part of the problem.”

That is not what American officials had hoped for. At first, the exodus of people from Swat, many of whom had suffered from the brutality of the Taliban, seemed to present a chance for Washington to improve its image in Pakistan.

“There is an opportunity actually to provide services, much as we did with the earthquake relief, which had a profound impact on the perception of America,” Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who serves as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said at a hearing attended by the Obama administration’s special envoy, Richard C. Holbrooke, at the start of the exodus.

In an effort to highlight American concern for the refugees, Mr. Holbrooke visited the camps in June, sitting on the floor of a sweltering tent and talking to people about their plight. “President Obama has sent us to see how we can help you,” he said. One result of the trip was an effort to send Pakistani-American female doctors to assist women in the camps.

According to the State Department, the United States has pledged $110 million for food and logistical support. In late May, the Defense Department sent several flights to Islamabad carrying ready-to-eat meals, environmentally controlled tents and water trucks. But ideas of winning back popularity with a big show of airlifts of American assistance on the scale of American earthquake relief to Kashmir in 2005 were rebuffed, and not only by the Pakistanis.

American nongovernmental organizations in Pakistan discouraged high-profile deliveries of United States government aid because anti-American sentiment was too widespread and the security risk to Americans in the camps was too high, said the head of one of the groups, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. There were many Taliban in the displaced camps, and they believed the Pakistani military was fighting against them in Swat on orders from Washington, the official said.

The restrictions on American assistance are clear in the camps and in villages like this one deep in the countryside around Mardan and Swabi, where Pakistani families have opened their homes to large numbers of displaced people.

American officials and their consultants were barely able to move beyond the highly visible refugee camps set up along the main highway between Islamabad and Peshawar, said Mahboob Mahmood, a Pakistani-American businessman who has visited the area to help find ways to bring additional aid.

“They have been almost completely neutered,” he said.
27645  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: July 02, 2009, 07:46:15 AM
Grateful for time with my children.
27646  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Paine; Jefferson and music on: July 02, 2009, 07:17:31 AM
"The Sun never shined on a cause of greater worth."

--Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776
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By BARRYMORE LAURENCE SCHERER
July 4, 1826, was a significant anniversary in America's history. On that 50th jubilee of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Stephen Foster, who would widely be regarded as the nation's first popular songwriter, was born in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, in Quincy, Mass., one of the pre-eminent signatories to the Declaration, John Adams, died at age 90. According to tradition, the last words he spoke were "Thomas Jefferson still survives." But his old friend -- and former political rival -- had actually passed away that morning, at 83. And with Jefferson's death the nation lost not just one of its greatest statesmen but one of its cultural leaders.

Jefferson was a true Renaissance man. Law, diplomacy and politics were his profession, but his activities embraced virtually all the liberal arts and sciences: from mathematics and philosophy to economics, archaeology, ornithology, ichthyology, horticulture, architecture, art and music.

Music, however, was Jefferson's particular delight, "an enjoyment, the deprivation of which . . . cannot be calculated," he declared in 1785. From early boyhood, he pursued this "passion of my soul," studying the violin with a teacher in Williamsburg, Va. By the time he matriculated at the College of William and Mary in 1760, his playing was so fluent that he was invited for weekly chamber music gatherings with the royal governor of Virginia. Jefferson even purchased a "kit" -- a slender dance-master's pocket fiddle -- and had a case for it fashioned for his saddle so he could play and practice while traveling.

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Cryptologist Cracks Presidential Code Not surprisingly, music played an important role in his courtship of the charming young widow Martha Skelton, another Colonial music lover, who played keyboard instruments and guitar. According to Jefferson family lore, two of Jefferson's amatory rivals encountered one another on Mrs. Skelton's doorstep. While waiting to be received by her, they heard her singing a touching song to her own harpsichord accompaniment in an adjoining room. Then they heard a gentleman sing with her and play a violin obbligato. Knowing that Jefferson was the only violinist in the neighborhood, one suitor said to the other, "We are wasting our time," and they quietly left in defeat. Jefferson married Skelton on new year's day, 1772.

The future president's musical tastes -- which he imparted to his children -- were sophisticated and broadly rooted in popular composers from the 17th through the middle-18th centuries. He deemed Arcangelo Corelli his favorite composer, deeply admired Haydn and had a great love for French and Italian opera. Not surprisingly, violin, chamber and keyboard music formed a major part of his extensive music library, which he cataloged in 1783 and is now housed at the University of Virginia.

Among the volumes and music sheets are sonatas, concertos (with accompanying parts), overtures and other works by Corelli, Haydn, Gluck, Handel, Vivaldi, Pergolesi, Boccherini, Stamitz, Clementi and J.C. Bach (J.S. Bach's youngest son). There are also many works by contemporaneous names less familiar today, among them Padre Martini, Gaetano Pugnani, Ignaz Pleyel and the Italianized German Giovanni Adolfo Hasse. Vocal music abounds, including scores of Handel's "Messiah" and "Alexander's Feast," Handel's Coronation and Funeral Anthems, Haydn's solo cantatas, John Gay's "The Beggar's Opera," Purcell's song collection "Orpheus Brittanicus," and Thomas Arne's operas "Artaxerxes" and "Alfred" (with its finale, "Rule Britannia").

Surprisingly, however, there is scant Mozart. And while there are many solos, duos and trios for violin, cello and keyboard, there are no string quartets.

Jefferson also collected American music, both folk songs and those of emerging composers. To his fellow Declaration signer Francis Hopkinson, who ranks as the first American-born composer of art songs, he wrote in 1789: "Accept my thanks . . . and my daughter's . . . for the book of songs [Hopkinson's "Seven Songs" of c. 1784]. I will not tell you how much they have pleased us, nor how well the last of them merits praise for its pathos, but relate . . . that while my elder daughter was playing it on the harpsichord, I happened to the younger one all in tears. I asked her if she was sick. She said, 'no; but the tune was so mournful.'"

According to Jefferson's granddaughter Ellen Coolidge, whose bedroom at Monticello was above his, the former president could often be heard "humming old tunes, generally Scotch songs but sometimes Italian airs or hymns."

In old age, Jefferson wrote with typical insight that "music is invaluable where a person has an ear," continuing that "it furnishes a delightful recreation for the hours of respite from the cares of the day, and lasts us through life." Certainly, music helped the "Philosopher of Democracy" to bear exceptional responsibilities throughout a career in which he was successively a colonial revolutionary, our ambassador to France, our first secretary of state, our second vice president and one of our greatest chief executives.

Mr. Scherer writes about music and the fine arts for The Journal. He is the author of the award-winning book "A History of American Classical Music" (Sourcebooks, 2007).
27647  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq-8 on: July 02, 2009, 07:09:54 AM
The huge difference I see between June 29th and today is the much greater Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police presence inside the IZ.  There is some sort of machine gun plus armed military or police vehicle every 200 meters or so.  Occasionally you will see a convoy sized line of military or police vehicles pulled off to the side of the road.  There are more Iraqi Army guys walking around the vicinity of what is called "the GRD" (which stands for Gulf Regional Development) compound.
 
What you almost don't see any more is much in the way of U.S. military vehicles moving around.  They are not completely gone but you just don't see them like you used to.  The sense is that there is no more cavalry to come to the rescue anytime quickly.
 
Some of the Iraqi Army soldiers and Iraqi Police officers are their usual, typical, reasonably friendly selves.  They will wave and smile as they always have.  But others have that feeling their oats look in their eyes.
 
We live in interesting times here in the IZ...
27648  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AZ and Fed LEO units merging on: July 01, 2009, 08:20:53 PM
Posted here because of its implication for erasing federal-state boundaries.  Hard to argue with its logic though:
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http://www.azcentral.com:80/news/articles/2009/04/23/20090423taskforce0423-ON.html

The state police and federal marshals are merging their special units that track Arizona fugitives in a move to save money while dealing with the growing number of arrest warrants waiting to be served.

"Basically, it's getting everyone in one room in one building working together instead of occasionally discussing cases of mutual interest. It's a great force multiplier," U.S. Marshal David Gonzales said.

The aggregation of acronyms brings together the state Department of Public Safety's Violent Criminal Apprehension Team, called VCAT, and the Arizona Wanted task force of the U.S. Marshals Service. The merger formalizes a relationship among agencies to share information and manpower to track the 60,000 wanted fugitives in the state.
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and a long list of other police agencies are also involved. The Sheriff's Office is the repository of all of the warrants in the county, but individual agencies execute them.

DPS' Violent Criminal Apprehension Team was formed in 2008 in the midst of the ongoing argument over illegal immigration in the state on the order of then-Gov. Janet Napolitano. DPS set up the unit, and $1.6 million was pulled from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office that was being used to fight human smuggling. The Legislature later gave the money back to the Sheriff's Office.

But the apprehension team remained and says that since its formation, it has made 730 arrests, clearing 920 felony warrants. DPS says that near the end of March, there were 54,872 felony warrants in Arizona with a little more than 40,000 of them in Maricopa County and 450 to 500 new ones issued every week. The new setup deputizes DPS officers assigned to the combined unit as federal marshals, extending their enforcement range.

Tempe Police Chief Tom Ryff said another goal of the new system is to minimize politics and maximize results. "What this means to the cop on the street is they come to work every day with precise information about individuals who have committed crimes in our community," he said.

Everyone pays their own way. Gonzales acknowledged that in tough financial times, everyone has "taken major hits to their budgets." More could be on the way as governments work out their spending plans in the slumping economy.

Gonzales said combining the units should have happened earlier in view of the number of new warrants pouring out of the courts.

"We cannot arrest our way out of this problem."
27649  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / If you think health care on: July 01, 2009, 06:19:11 PM
is expensive now, just wait until the govt makes it free.

http://abcnews.go.com:80/video/playerIndex?id=4578691
27650  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / A recommended site on: July 01, 2009, 05:54:06 PM
http://chesshere.com/
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