Dog Brothers Public Forum


Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
December 16, 2017, 07:16:33 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
106226 Posts in 2398 Topics by 1094 Members
Latest Member: Ice Dog
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 ... 553 554 [555] 556 557 ... 835
27701  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: September 27, 2010, 11:36:15 PM
As someone pointed out, the current trajectory seems to lead to us being run off of our alliance with Taiwan; perhaps in the aftermath of our , , , departure from Iraq and Afghanistan.   
27702  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: September 27, 2010, 09:12:17 PM
Prudent?  Yeah that's what was said with Alsace-Lorraine, Sudentland (sp?) and Austria too.

Hell, maybe we could crank up the printing press and pay off all the bonds they hold.  Of course then no one would lend us money any more , , , which could be a good thing.  cheesy
27703  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Never fear, UNOOSA is ready! on: September 27, 2010, 08:37:43 PM
UN to appoint Earth contact for aliens

THE United Nations was set today to appoint an obscure Malaysian astrophysicist to act as Earth’s first contact for any aliens that may come visiting.

Mazlan Othman, the head of the UN's little-known Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa), is to describe her potential new role next week at a scientific conference at the Royal Society’s Kavli conference centre in Buckinghamshire.

She is scheduled to tell delegates that the recent discovery of hundreds of planets around other stars has made the detection of extraterrestrial life more likely than ever before - and that means the UN must be ready to coordinate humanity’s response to any “first contact”.

During a talk Othman gave recently to fellow scientists, she said: “The continued search for extraterrestrial communication, by several entities, sustains the hope that some day humankind will receive signals from extraterrestrials.

"When we do, we should have in place a coordinated response that takes into account all the sensitivities related to the subject. The UN is a ready-made mechanism for such coordination.”

Professor Richard Crowther, an expert in space law and governance at the UK Space Agency and who leads British delegations to the UN on such matters, said: “Othman is absolutely the nearest thing we have to a ‘take me to your leader’ person.”

However, he thinks humanity’s first encounter with any intelligent aliens is more likely to be via radio or light signals from a distant planet than by beings arriving on Earth. And, he suggests, even if we do encounter aliens in the flesh, they are more likely to be microbes than anything intelligent.

Read more:
27704  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 9/22 Energy subsidies withdrawn on: September 27, 2010, 11:02:40 AM
Iran's Subsidy Issue Adds to Domestic, International Tensions

The Iranian government withdrew energy subsidies without prior notice of the exact date the subsidies would end, leaving many Iranian consumers taken aback by hefty electricity bills, Reuters reported on Tuesday. According to the report, some households claimed their bills were as much as 1,000 percent higher than the previous month’s. This development follows a government move to hold off on cutting gasoline subsidies for at least one month.

The latest round of sanctions (from the United Nations, United States and European Union) has not led Tehran to capitulate to Western pressure. That said, Iran is ending subsidies on essential goods and services, and Tehran would not be carrying out such an initiative if it was not essential for the country’s economic health, especially given the significant risk of public backlash.

“It appears as though the Islamic republic has reached an impasse with itself.”
The manner in which the subsidies on power supplies were pulled after the delay in ending the subsidies on fuel shows that the regime is concerned about domestic unrest. It was only this past February that the regime was able to contain the eight-month upheaval created by the Green Movement following the controversial re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Though Iranian authorities put an end to street agitation, the regime continues to face a much more serious problem: infighting between Ahmadinejad and his opponents spread across the entire Iranian political establishment.

Officials representing both sides can be seen daily using Iran’s various official and semi-official media organs to attack each other. It appears as though the Islamic republic has reached an impasse with itself. What makes this even more significant is that Iran is also at a major crossroads internationally, given the controversy over its nuclear program, the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan and other regional matters.

Iran sees an historic opportunity to consolidate its influence in its immediate abroad, from where the United States is trying to withdraw militarily. In Iraq, Washington needs to be able to reach a settlement with Tehran on a balance of power in Baghdad that is acceptable to both sides. In Afghanistan, where the United States is trying to create the conditions for as early an exit as possible, Iran also holds significant influence.

Washington, for its part, wants to be able to reach an understanding with Iran so that it can withdraw from the countries to both the west and east of the Islamic republic. But it wants to be able to do so in such a way that Iranian ambitions for regional dominance are kept in check. As long as Tehran can negotiate from a position of relative strength this is not possible.

This is where both the intra-elite struggle in Tehran and the subsidies issue are of immense potential significance. Both issues are so complex that it is difficult to predict their outcome, but if either issue evolves unfavorably for Tehran, it could undermine the Islamic republic’s bargaining power and give the United States an opening to exploit.
27705  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Tajikstan Attacks and Islamist Militancy in Central Asia on: September 27, 2010, 11:00:47 AM
The Tajikistan Attacks and Islamist Militancy in Central Asia
September 23, 2010

By Ben West

Militants in Tajikistan’s Rasht Valley ambushed a military convoy of 75 Tajik troops Sept. 19, killing 25 military personnel according to official reports and 40 according to the militants, who attacked from higher ground with small arms, automatic weapons and grenades. The Tajik troops were part of a nationwide deployment of security forces seeking to recapture 25 individuals linked to the United Tajik Opposition militant groups that had escaped from prison in Dushanbe on Aug. 24. The daring prison break was conducted by members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), and saw five security guards killed and the country put on red alert. According to the Tajik government, after the escape, most of the militants fled to the Rasht Valley, an area under the influence of Islamist militants that is hard to reach for Tajikistan’s security forces and thus rarely patrolled by troops.

Sunday’s attack was one of the deadliest clashes between militants and the Tajik government since the Central Asian country’s civil war ended in 1997. The last comparable attack was in 1998, when militants ambushed a battalion of Interior Ministry troops just outside Dushanbe, killing 20 and kidnapping 110. Sunday’s incident was preceded by a Sept. 3 attack on a police station that involved a suicide operative and a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) in the northwest Tajik city of Khujand that killed four police officers. Suicide attacks are rare in Tajikistan, and VBIEDs even more so. The Khujand attack also stands out as it occurred outside militant territory. Khujand, Tajikistan’s second-largest city after the capital, is located at the mouth of the Fergana Valley, the largest population center in Central Asia.

This represents a noticeable increase in the number and professionalism of militant operations in Tajikistan. Regardless of whether the September attacks can be directly linked to the Aug. 24 jailbreak in Dushanbe, the sudden re-emergence of attacks in Tajikistan after a decade of quiet in Central Asia deserves our attention. In short, something is percolating in the valleys of Central Asia that has reawakened militant groups more or less dormant for a decade. This unrest will likely continue and possibly grow if Tajik security forces can’t get control of the situation.

The Central Asian Core’s Divided Geography

Greater Central Asia, which encompasses southern Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and western China, comprises the northeastern frontier of the Muslim world. A knot of mountain ranges defines the geography of the region’s core, which forms a buffer between the Chinese and Russian spheres of influence. The region’s rugged terrain acts as a force multiplier for local populations seeking their own sovereignty, complicating foreign powers’ efforts to control the region.

(click here to enlarge image)
The Fergana Valley is the best-suited land in Central Asia for hosting a large population. Soviet leader Josef Stalin split the valley up between the Soviet republics that would become the countries of Central Asia to ensure the region remained divided, however. Uzbekistan controls most of the basin itself; Tajikistan controls the most accessible entrance to the valley from the west; and Kyrgyzstan controls the high ground around the valley. Uzbekistan also controls several exclaves within Kyrgyzstan’s portion of the valley, affording the Uzbek government and Uzbek citizens (including militants) access fairly deep into Kyrgyz territory. Meanwhile, the Rasht Valley follows the Vakhsh River across the Tajik-Kyrgyz border, giving locals (again including militants) a passage through the mountainous border region south of the Fergana Valley. These complex geographic and political divisions ensure that no one country can dominate Central Asia’s core, and hence Central Asia itself.

The Militants of Central Asia

An often-confusing assortment of militant groups has called Central Asia home since the end of the Soviet Union, many of which have split or joined up with one another. The most significant players in the region’s militant landscape include:

Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP). Founded in 1990, it was the first Islamist political party to gain Soviet recognition. After it was banned throughout Central Asia in 1992, many of its members resorted to violence.
Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT). The Tajik branch of the IRP, the IRPT was active during the Tajik civil war of 1992-97 but has since turned to the political sphere.
United Tajik Opposition (UTO). UTO was an umbrella organization for the groups that fought against the Moscow-backed Tajik government during the Tajik civil war, but most of its members turned to politics at the end of the war. UTO derived much of its strength from constituent Islamist groups like the IRP, but it also encompassed the Democratic Party of Tajikistan and the ethnic Gharmi group.
Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT). Founded in East Jerusalem in 1953, HT seeks to establish a worldwide caliphate. The group is present in more than 40 countries; its Central Asian base is Uzbekistan. The group promotes ideological extremism, though it does not directly engage in violence. Even so, the region’s security forces have targeted it.
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). A militant Islamic group aligned with al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, IMU was formed in 1998 after the UTO turned to politics. Its ultimate aim was to transform Uzbekistan into an Islamic state. IMU leaders since have spread to Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Islamic Jihad Union/Group (IJU). The IJU split off from IMU; it has a small presence in Europe.
Movement for the Islamic Revival of Uzbekistan (MIRU). MIRU was formed in 1994 and was incorporated into the IMU in 1998.
East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). A group primarily focused on independence for the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang, ETIM is thought to have ties with the IMU.
Islamic Movement of Turkistan (IMT). Like ETIM, IMT is thought to have ties with the IMU.

Islam and Militants in Central Asia

Historically, the moderate form of Islam known as Sufism predominated in Central Asia, with Salafism (a far more conservative form of Islam also called Wahhabism) being very much in the minority. Islam was strongly suppressed during Russian, and later Soviet, rule, however. Soviet security forces frequently raided mosques and madrassas, and Muslim religious leaders were routinely arrested. Generations of religious repression saw Sufism’s role in the region decline as Central Asians became more secular. Salafism was able to capitalize on this vacuum as the Central Asian Soviet republics gained independence in 1991, aided materially and in manpower by their co-religionists beyond the Soviet sphere. Sufism, by contrast, was much more localized and could not draw on such resources.

By 1991, when Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan all got independence, many Salafists in Central Asia (and elsewhere) had incorporated violence into their ideology, classifying them as jihadists. With growing influence, groups like the IRPT (although banned in 1993) allied with secular opposition groups to fight the government during Tajikistan’s five-year civil war. During this time, radical Islamists who turned to violence attacked Dushanbe from their bases in the Rasht and Tavildara valleys in northern Tajikistan as well as from Kunduz and Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, where they relied on the large population of Tajik-Afghans (some of whom had ties to the Taliban and al Qaeda) for support. After the civil war, many IRPT leaders joined the political process, leaving only a hardened remnant in the valleys to the north or in Afghanistan.

Later, the IMU began its campaign to bring down the Uzbek government in 1998. Uzbek President Islam Karimov used a heavy hand against the IMU and other Islamists. The IMU accordingly found it easier to operate in neighboring Kyrgyzstan, including the Uzbek exclaves of So’x and Shohimardon.

By 2000, militants faced government crackdowns throughout Central Asia, though they could still operate in Tajikistan and across the border in Afghanistan. The IMU, for example, was largely wiped out after 9/11 and the subsequent U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in the battle of Kunduz. The Taliban and IMU had decided to make a stand against the Northern Alliance and U.S. forces in Kunduz, but the Taliban withdrew, leaving the IMU to fend for itself. The IMU lost one of its two founding members and leaders, Juma Namangani, in the subsequent crushing defeat. While the IMU managed a few more large-scale attacks in Tashkent, including suicide attacks on the Israeli and U.S. embassies and the Uzbek prosecutor general’s office in 2004, this did not signal a resurgence. Its remaining members relocated along with other fractured militant groups to northwestern Pakistan, where they took advantage of smuggling opportunities to raise funds. In August 2009, the IMU’s other founder and leader, Tahir Yuldashev, died in a suspected U.S. missile strike in Pakistan. The involvement of Yuldashev and his fighters in the Islamist insurgency in Pakistan shows just how far the IMU had deviated from its original goal of toppling the Uzbek government. While the Uzbek and Tajik governments routinely blame attacks such as the Sept. 19 raid on the IMU, the group is no longer the coherent movement it was in the late 1990s.

Islamist Militant Fragmentation

Now, governments frequently use the IMU as a catchall phrase for Islamists in Central Asia who would like to overthrow the regions’ governments. In reality, various factors divide the region’s militants, and continuing to use convenient labels like IMU frequently masks real shifts and complexities in Central Asia’s militant landscape. These groups are divided by the particular conditions of their areas of operation, by ethnicity and tribe, and by their particular cause.

Groups like the IMU depend on commanders of militants in places like the Rasht, Tavildara or Fergana valleys to carry out the attacks. The situations in each valley are quite different. For example, the increasing Tajik military presence in the Rasht Valley means militant commanders there will have different missions from commanders in the Fergana Valley, to say nothing of the IMU members fighting NATO forces in Afghanistan or smuggling drugs in Pakistan. The name IMU to a large degree has become a generic label for Islamic militant activity in a similar fashion to how the devolution of al Qaeda has shifted the original understanding of the group and its name.

Ethnicity and tribal structures also complicate the picture. Central Asia is a hodge-podge of ethnicities, including Tajiks, Uzbeks, Kyrgyzs, Turkmen, Kazakhs and Uighurs. They speak different languages and have different customs, leading to highly localized, clan-based loyalties. Various groups and subgroups frequently cross national borders, making the activities of some factions more transnational in their ambitions or more interested in creating their own state rather than taking power from the government of the day.

And militants’ shifting causes vary considerably. In hostile terrain like that of Central Asia, it is difficult enough to survive, much less adhere to consistent ideological goals. Groups like the IRPT frequently started as peaceful political groups, fractured, and then became more militant during the Tajik civil war, only to rejoin the political process.

The Regional Outlook

The past has shown that violence in one country can quickly spread to its neighbors. Thus, while Uzbekistan has largely mitigated the militant threat through strict security measures, it remains vulnerable due to its proximity to the chaotic countries of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and the geographically distorted borders around the Fergana Valley.

The Afghan question also looms large. With the United States and NATO set to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in less than a year, Central Asian countries will face a much less restrained Taliban in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s relative weakness in northern Afghanistan will mitigate this threat, but the region will nonetheless be in limbo after NATO withdraws. For their part, Central Asia’s militants hope the Western withdrawal and the hoped-for Taliban rise to power will restore Afghanistan as a militant safe haven from which to pursue their home-country ambitions. And this prospect, of course, makes Central Asian governments quite uneasy.

Complicating matters, Russia is moving to protect its interests in Central Asia by moving up to 25,000 troops to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to increase security at its military installations there. Central Asian states are looking to balance their security needs in light of a destabilizing Afghanistan by accepting more Russian troops.

Between increasing militant activity in Tajikistan after years of relative quiet, the impending Western withdrawal from Afghanistan and a resurgent Russia, Central Asia faces challenging times ahead.
27706  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Detroit on: September 27, 2010, 10:52:49 AM
Pasting here Gorden's email seeking kindred spirits in the Detroit area.
Hey guys,

I'm Gorden.  I'm from Hannover,Germany.  I excercised with jörg Beier,Christian Eckert,Stephan from munich,grumpy dog from mainz,etc and one time in a year with lonely dog at the loreley summer camp since Three Years.

Now i'm in the US during the Next two Weeks to visit a friend of Mine in Detroit.

I would like to tso some exercise here with dogs from the US,but i didn't find anything in the Web in the Area of Detroit or Michigan. Can you Support me with some contact Data of Brothers?

Hope, you can help me.  I would really appreciate to hear from you guys!

ake Care.  Have a good Time.

Gorden Linnemann
Hannover, Germany
27707  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Breathe deeply three times on: September 27, 2010, 10:41:59 AM
second post of the morning:,0
27708  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Silenced hits on: September 27, 2010, 10:26:05 AM
Our man in Iraq reports today as follows:

"A few weeks back I told some of you I noticed a trend towards silenced pistols in hits.  Well I spoke today to somebody who works closely with the Ministry of Interior, and he said attacks by silenced pistols are off the charts and are now a more likely occurrence than a non-silenced pistol.
"Since the jihadist movement learns from each other, and adopts each other's effective tactics, and since we know stuff happening stateside is only a matter of time, keep this in mind even in the homeland."
27709  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq returns-4 on: September 27, 2010, 10:24:50 AM
Second post of the day:

A few weeks back I told some of you I noticed a trend towards silenced pistols in hits.  Well I spoke today to somebody who works closely with the Ministry of Interior, and he said attacks by silenced pistols are off the charts and are now a more likely occurrence than a non-silenced pistol.
Since the jihadist movement learns from each other, and adopts each other's effective tactics, and since we know stuff happening stateside is only a matter of time, keep this in mind even in the homeland.
27710  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pebble Bed Reactors on: September 27, 2010, 08:26:14 AM
27711  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: September 27, 2010, 08:07:16 AM , , , though I think the example of ending the Iran-Iraq War well wide of the mark , , , et seq
27712  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Day by Day on: September 27, 2010, 08:06:08 AM
27713  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Soldiers' Angels on: September 27, 2010, 07:50:22 AM
From Michael Yon, who has this site's full support:

Dear Friend,
I have just returned to Afghanistan and I’m writing to tell you about a new book project I’m working on and an important organization that I’m backing with this book. I hope you will too.
Soldiers’ Angels is a volunteer-led nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the American soldier in the field.  Morally, materially, and spiritually. Its volunteers number over 200,000.  In my opinion, SA is the most effective of all civilian support groups. You’ve read about them in some of my dispatches as I have been a champion of their heroic efforts for years.
Soldier’s Angels has a number of great projects, including Adopt a Soldier, which matches one soldier in the field to one supporter or family at home who sends a letter every week and a care package at least once a month. But their most important contribution is also one of the most expensive is theFirst Response Backpack.
U.S. military personnel who are injured or wounded are moved out to treatment so fast that sometimes their gear and personal items never catch up with them.  Evacuated in the clothing damaged or removed during treatment, these soldiers often find themselves without basic supplies. A Soldiers’ Angels First Response Backpack provides comfortable clothing, a full set of travel-sized toiletries and accessories, an international calling card the soldier can use to phone home, and a handmade Blanket of Hope. To date, Soldiers’ Angels has distributed more than 15,000 backpacks to the wounded.
I’ve seen the great impact Soldiers’ Angels has in the field, so you won’t be surprised that I want to help them. Or that I’m asking you to join me in that effort.
I am currently at work on a new book called IRAQ: INSIDE THE INFERNO. It will cover my years reporting in the field from 2005-2008. It will tell, with words and pictures, the dramatic story of how we won the war in Iraq – not primarily with our overwhelming technology, not with shock and awe destruction, but with the far more important force of American values.
The book will assemble some two hundred of the most powerful, telling, and dramatic photographs I have taken in Iraq (many never before published). With my publisher, Richard Vigilante Books, we have enlisted an award-winning documentary producer from Discovery Channel, Karen Kraft, and her handpicked team to create the book.  Pictures of American warriors at work, engaged in killing terrorists or rebuilding a school or a shattered neighborhood. My intent is to combine the best of my pictures with the best of my writing to create an entirely new type of experience. And for the final product to have the enduring memorial value of the most treasured, well-crafted volume in a great library.
IRAQ: INSIDE THE INFERNO will come off the press for shipment late this year before the holidays, but my publisher is not going to ship the regular version to bookstores until Spring. Why?  Because we want to raise $50,000 to help Soldiers’ Angels.
To meet this goal, my publisher is creating a limited number of boxed, signed, and numbered deluxe editions of the book to be offered exclusively to my supporters and both of us are contributing a portion of our proceeds to Soldier’s Angels.
This 220 page, full color book will be printed on the finest paper used for art books and bound using timeless techniques of the book-makers’ craft. Here are some of the details:

- The pages will be Smythe sewn, not just glued the way most books are today.
- The paper is acid free and guaranteed to last 800 years without yellowing or deterioration.
-  The beautiful cloth cover – not plastic or some other synthetic fabric – will be gold stamped on both front and spine.
- And each book will be encased in a cloth-covered, gold stamped slipcase.
I will personally sign and hand-number each copy of this special edition and enclose a certificate, suitable for framing, to memorialize your support of my mission and of Soldiers’ Angels.
The cost for each signed, numbered deluxe copy is $49.95, plus shipping.  A lot of money, but here is the bottom line:  The money we raise from sales of this book is crucial not only to support my own mission but for our goal of raising at least $50,000 for Soldiers’ Angels. That’s why we have tried so hard to create a work that expresses our gratitude for your support. As you know, I have returned to Afghanistan just days ago and my arrangement with my publisher provides book royalties to me earlier than a traditional publishing arrangement in order to assist me with my mission.
My publisher is now accepting pre-orders for IRAQ: INSIDE THE INFERNO. Pre-ordering will guarantee you a copy – we can print this special edition only once – and within days of the book coming off the press. If our experience with the special signed edition of my last book, A Moment of Truth in Iraq, is any guide, it will sell out, so the only way to absolutely guarantee you will be able to get a copy is to pre-order.
More importantly, pre-orders will help us raise funds for Soldiers’ Angels more quickly. I’d be thrilled if we could raise all of the $50,000 we have targeted for Soldiers’ Angels on pre-orders of the special edition alone. If we can do that, then we can raise even more.
I think you’ll love the book and hope you’ll pre-order today. It makes a great gift, especially because it is also a gift to the American soldier, who, as I said in A Moment of Truth In Iraq, ‘is not only the most dangerous man in the world, but the best man, too.’

Very Respectfully,
Michael Yon
27714  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Littering with water bottles? on: September 27, 2010, 07:26:08 AM
BUENOS AIRES NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, Ariz. — In this remote, semidesert landscape along the United States-Mexico border, water is a precious commodity — and a contentious one, too.

Two years ago, Daniel J. Millis was ticketed for littering after he was caught by a federal Fish and Wildlife officer placing gallon jugs of water for passing immigrants in the brush of this 118,000-acre preserve.
“I do extreme sports, and I know I couldn’t walk as far as they do,” said Mr. Millis, driving through the refuge recently. “It’s no surprise people are dying.”

Mr. Millis, 31, was not the only one to get a ticket. Fourteen other volunteers for Tucson-based organizations that provide aid to immigrants crossing from Mexico to the United States were similarly cited. Most of the cases were later dropped, but Mr. Millis and another volunteer for a religious group called No More Deaths were convicted of defacing the refuge with their water jug drops.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit weighed in on Mr. Millis’s appeal this month, ruling that it was “ambiguous as to whether purified water in a sealed bottle intended for human consumption meets the definition of ‘garbage.’ ” Voting 2-to-1, a three-judge panel overturned Mr. Millis’s conviction.

The issue remains far from settled, though. The court ruled that Mr. Millis probably could have been charged under a different statute, something other than littering. And the Fish and Wildlife Service continues to forbid anyone to leave gallon jugs of water in the refuge — a policy backed by this state’s immigration hardliners, who say comforting immigrants will only encourage them to cross.

From 2002 to 2009, 25 illegal immigrants died while passing through the refuge’s rolling hills, which are flanked by mountains and are home to pronghorns, coyotes, rattlesnakes and four different kinds of skunks. Throughout southern Arizona, the death toll totaled 1,715 from 2002 to 2009, with this year’s hot temperatures putting deaths at a record-breaking pace.

The Border Patrol has installed rescue beacons in remote areas along the border, including several in the Buenos Aires refuge, to allow immigrants in distress to call for help. Those who are injured and have been left behind by their guides are often so desperate they no longer fear deportation.

Still, the federal government has acknowledged that additional steps are needed to keep deaths down on its land. In 2001, it gave another aid group, Humane Borders, a permit to keep several large water drums on the refuge, each of them marked by a blue flag and featuring a spigot to allow immigrants to fill their water bottles for the long trek north.

Last year, the government considered but ultimately decided against allowing No More Deaths to tether gallon jugs to trees to allow immigrants in more remote areas to drink without taking the jugs on their way.

Right now, even after the court decision, there is what amounts to a standoff. This month, the federal government said it was willing to allow more 55-gallon drums on main pathways in the refuge. It said it would not permit any gallon jugs.

But the water jugs continue to appear.

Last week, Gene Lefebvre, a retired minister who co-founded No More Deaths, hiked along a path popular among immigrants until he reached a clearing where volunteers for his organization had recently left some jugs.

Each bottle had markings on it noting the date it was left and the exact location on the group’s GPS mapping software. There were also signs of encouragement for the immigrants: a heart and a cross on one bottle and the words, “Good luck, friends,” on another.

“We’d give water to anyone we found in the desert, even the Border Patrol,” Mr. Lefebvre said.

But opponents say the water drops are encouraging immigrants to continue to come across the border illegally. The critics say there ought to be Border Patrol agents stationed near the water stations to arrest those who are crossing illegally as soon as they finish drinking. So furious are some at the practice of aiding immigrants that they have slashed open the water jugs, crushed them with their vehicles or simply poured the water into the desert.

The Buenos Aires refuge is among the most troubled of the 551 refuge areas across the country, the federal government says. The reason is its location, adjacent to the border.

“Since its establishment in 1985, refuge staff have worked diligently to protect species such as the endangered masked bobwhite quail and pronghorn, as well as offer meaningful visitor recreational opportunities,” a recently released government report on the water controversy said. “However, over the past decade an increasing amount of refuge time and energy has been required to address the growing issue of illegal traffic entering the U.S. across refuge lands.”

In 2006 and 2007, an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 illegal immigrants crossed the refuge annually, along with Border Patrol agents pursing them, federal officials say. “As a result, refuge lands have been marred by illegal trails and roads, litter and degraded habitat,” said a government report on the problem.

The numbers have dropped in recent years, to 31,500 in 2008 and about 20,000 in 2009. “This still averages approximately 50 to 60 illegal immigrants traveling through the refuge daily,” the government report said.

Mr. Millis, a former high school Spanish teacher who now works for the Sierra Club, disputes the notion that leaving out water jugs is luring more immigrants. He said it was border enforcement efforts that had pushed those seeking to cross into dangerous desert areas.

As for spoiling the environment, he said he collected as many jugs as he left behind. He also recounts how he found the dead body of a 14-year-old Salvadoran girl near the refuge days before he was ticketed.

“People are part of the environment,” he said.
27715  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: Free market bites minimum wage in ass on: September 27, 2010, 07:15:36 AM
NEWCASTLE, South Africa — The sheriff arrived at the factory here to shut it down, part of a national enforcement drive against clothing manufacturers who violate the minimum wage. But women working on the factory floor — the supposed beneficiaries of the crackdown — clambered atop cutting tables and ironing boards to raise anguished cries against it.

Thoko Zwane, 43, who has worked in factories since she was 15, lost her job in Newcastle when a Chinese-run factory closed in 2004. More than a third of South Africans are jobless.

“Why? Why?” shouted Nokuthula Masango, 25, after the authorities carted away bolts of gaily colored fabric.

She made just $36 a week, $21 less than the minimum wage, but needed the meager pay to help support a large extended family that includes her five unemployed siblings and their children.

The women’s spontaneous protest is just one sign of how acute South Africa’s long-running unemployment crisis has become. With their own industry in ruinous decline, the victim of low-wage competition from China, and too few unskilled jobs being created in South Africa, the women feared being out of work more than getting stuck in poorly paid jobs.

In the 16 years since the end of apartheid, South Africa has followed the prescriptions of the West, opening its market-based economy to trade, while keeping inflation and public debt in check. It has won praise for its efforts, and the economy has grown, but not nearly fast enough to end an intractable unemployment crisis.

For over a decade, the jobless rate has been among the highest in the world, fueling crime, inequality and social unrest in the continent’s richest nation. The global economic downturn has made the problem much worse, wiping out more than a million jobs. Over a third of South Africa’s workforce is now idle. And 16 years after Nelson Mandela led the country to black majority rule, more than half of blacks ages 15 to 34 are without work — triple the level for whites.

“The numbers are mind-boggling,” said James Levinsohn, a Yale University economist.

As the debate about unemployment intensifies, the government’s failure to produce a plan 16 months after President Jacob Zuma took office promising decent jobs has led analysts to question his leadership, though he has promised to act soon.

Experts debate the causes of the country’s gravest economic problem, with some contending that higher wages negotiated by politically powerful trade unions have suppressed job growth.

But most agree that the roots of the crisis lie deeper, in an apartheid past that consigned blacks to inferior schools, drove many from their land, homes and businesses and forced millions into segregated townships and rural areas where they remain cut off from the engines of the economy.

Then with the advent of democracy in 1994, the African National Congress-led government had to simultaneously rebuild an economy staggered by sanctions and prepare a disadvantaged black majority to compete in a rapidly globalizing world.

Further complicating matters, just as poorly educated blacks surged into the labor force, the economy was shifting to more skills-intensive sectors like retail and financial services, while agriculture and mining, which had historically offered opportunities for common laborers, were in decline.

The country’s leaders invested heavily in schools, hoping the next generation would overcome the country’s racist legacy, but the failures of the post-apartheid education system have left many poor blacks unable to compete in an economy where accountants, engineers and managers are in high demand. The shortage of skilled workers has constrained companies’ ability to expand, economists say, and in some cases, professionals from other African countries have taken the jobs.

The fall of tariff barriers since 1994 has also exposed industries like garment manufacturing to low-wage competition from Asia. As Chinese-made clothing has flooded the domestic market, the number of garment workers employed in South Africa has plummeted to 60,000 from 150,000 in 1996. If the more than 300 factories violating minimum wages ultimately close down, 20,000 more jobs could vanish.

“We’re at a crossroads,” said Leon Deetlefs, national compliance manager for the bargaining council of union and employer representatives that sets minimum wages for the garment manufacturing industry. “There are a huge number of workers who stand to lose their jobs.”

Last year, as South Africa’s economy contracted amid the global financial crisis, unions negotiated wage increases that averaged 9.3 percent. The International Monetary Fund hypothesized in a report last week that companies were unable to pass on higher labor costs during the country’s recession and laid off workers instead, contributing to job losses that were among the highest seen in the G20 industrialized nations.

Mr. Zuma promised last week at a national gathering of the governing party in Durban that the cabinet would act soon.

But it remains unclear how decisively he can move. His party, the African National Congress, conceded in a report last week that its alliance remained divided over what should be done. Eight months ago, Mr. Zuma proposed a wage subsidy to encourage the hiring of young, inexperienced workers. But it ran into vociferous opposition from Cosatu, the two-million-member trade union federation that is part of the governing alliance, which contended that it would displace established workers. The plan has stalled.

While officials wrangle, the unemployment crisis festers in places like Newcastle. During the rowdy protests at the factory last month, the police warned that the situation could turn violent, according to Mr. Deetlefs, the bargaining council official. The sheriff withdrew. The factory closed.


Page 2 of 2)

But broader resistance from Newcastle factory owners and concerns about large job losses led to a monthlong moratorium on factory shutdowns after 26 were closed nationally. Officials from the government and the bargaining council are now pushing offending factories to come up with plans to pay minimum wage.

The shuttered factory here has since reopened. When the clock strikes five, thousands of black women still pour from the factories here and line up at bus stands for the ride back to their townships. But workers fear the reprieve will not last.

Newcastle’s garment industry is a product of apartheid’s social engineering. The apartheid state sought to keep most blacks from moving to dynamic big cities reserved for whites by offering large subsidies to light industry to locate on the borderlands of rural areas.

The Taiwanese began opening clothing factories here in the 1980s. And since the end of apartheid, entrepreneurs from mainland China have joined them. Some of the more successful Chinese factory owners drive BMWs and Mercedes Benzes, but others operate on a shoestring. All say they must be allowed to pay wages on a lower scale to stay in business.

At the Wintong factory, proprietors Ting Ting Zhu and her husband, Hui Cong Shi, who are saving to put their only child through college, say they start a machinist at $36 a week, far less than the minimum wage. They themselves live in a single room in their red brick factory.

The women who work for them, also striving for their families, have seen their industry wither. Some 7,000 people in Newcastle have lost their jobs in recent years as three large factories went out of business. Emily Mbongwa, 52, was one of the casualties. She lost her job in 2004. She never found another one.

“The factory passed away,” she explained sadly, as if describing a death in the family.

During the apartheid years, Ms. Mbongwa, who never learned to read or write, worked as a maid in the home of a white Afrikaaner family, rising at 6 a.m. to make breakfast and finishing at 9 p.m. after the dinner dishes were done. She tended the family’s two boys, but when they got to be 9 or 10 years old, they started called her derogatory names for a black woman.

After the family moved away, she went to work at a garment factory, where she said she was treated with respect. The hours there were shorter, the pay better and she started a small business selling shoes to other workers. She eventually earned enough to build her home.

Now, she is back to where she started, surviving by looking after other women’s children. She charges $14 a month for each of the five children she watches from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., five days a week. One recent morning, a woman arrived and passed her baby through the back door to Miss Mbongwa, who was wearing a loose house dress and black wool cap.

Holding the baby on her lap, she said wistfully, “Long ago, there was a lot more work in Newcastle.”
27716  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Sundry; States Rights, God, others on: September 27, 2010, 06:52:56 AM
Our thanks to Freki for having handled the responsibility of this thread for so long, but now other matters call upon him:
"[T]he importance of piety and religion; of industry and frugality; of prudence, economy, regularity and an even government; all ... are essential to the well-being of a family." --Samuel Adams, letter to Thomas Wells, 1780
"As parents, we can have no joy, knowing that this government is not sufficiently lasting to ensure any thing which we may bequeath to posterity: And by a plain method of argument, as we are running the next generation into debt, we ought to do the work of it, otherwise we use them meanly and pitifully. In order to discover the line of our duty rightly, we should take our children in our hand, and fix our station a few years farther into life; that eminence will present a prospect, which a few present fears and prejudices conceal from our sight." --Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776
"The great leading objects of the federal government, in which revenue is concerned, are to maintain domestic peace, and provide for the common defense. In these are comprehended the regulation of commerce that is, the whole system of foreign intercourse; the support of armies and navies, and of the civil administration." --Alexander Hamilton, remarks to the New York Ratifying Convention, 1788

"Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread." --Thomas Jefferson, autobiography, 1821
"While the constitution continues to be read, and its principles known, the states, must, by every rational man, be considered as essential component parts of the union; and therefore the idea of sacrificing the former to the latter is totally inadmissible." --Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, 1788
"This balance between the National and State governments ought to be dwelt on with peculiar attention, as it is of the utmost importance. It forms a double security to the people. If one encroaches on their rights they will find a powerful protection in the other. Indeed, they will  both be prevented from overpassing their constitutional limits by a certain rivalship, which will ever subsist between them." --Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, 1788
"[T]he States can best govern our home concerns and the general government our foreign ones. I wish, therefore ... never to see all offices transferred to Washington, where, further withdrawn from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly be bought and sold at market." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Judge William Johnson, 1823

"In the next place, the state governments are, by the very theory of the constitution, essential constituent parts of the general government. They can exist without the latter, but the latter cannot exist without them." --Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833


"When you assemble from your several counties in the Legislature, were every member to be guided only by the apparent interest of his county, government would be impracticable. There must be a perpetual accomodation and sacrifice of local advantage to general expediency." --Alexander Hamilton, Speech at the New York Ratifying Convention, 1788

"The true test is, whether the object be of a local character, and local use; or, whether it be of general benefit to the states. If it be purely local, congress cannot constitutionally appropriate money for the object. But, if the benefit be general, it matters not, whether in point of locality it be in one state, or several; whether it be of large, or of small extent." --Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833


"I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground that 'all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people.' To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, not longer susceptible of any definition." --Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank, 1791


"The proposed Constitution, so far from implying an abolition of the State governments, makes them constituent parts of the national sovereignty, by allowing them a direct representation in the Senate, and leaves in their possession certain exclusive and very important portions of sovereign power. This fully corresponds, in every rational import of the terms, with the idea of a federal government." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 9

"There is one transcendant advantage belonging to the province of the State governments... --I mean the ordinary administration of criminal and civil justice." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 17


"But as the plan of the convention aims only at a partial union or consolidation, the State governments would clearly retain all the rights of sovereignty which they before had, and which were not, by that act, EXCLUSIVELY delegated to the United States." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 32

"But ambitious encroachments of the federal government, on the authority of the State governments, would not excite the opposition of a single State, or of a few States only. They would be signals of general alarm... But what degree of madness could ever drive the federal government to such an extremity." --James Madison, Federalist No. 46


"[H]is was the singular destiny and merit, of leading the armies of his country successfully through an arduous war, for the establishment of its independence; of conducting its councils through the birth of a government, new in its forms and principles, until it had settled down into a quite and orderly train; and of scrupulously obeying the laws through the whole of his career, civil and military, of which the history of the world furnishes no other example." --Thomas Jefferson, on George Washington in a letter to Dr. Walter Jones, 1814

"Well known to be the greatest philosopher of the present age; -- all the operations of nature he seems to understand, --the very heavens obey him, and the Clouds yield up their Lightning to be imprisoned in his rod." --William Pierce, on Benjamin Franklin, 1787


"He was certainly one of the most learned men of the age. It may be said of him as has been said of others that he was a 'walking Library,' and what can be said of but few such prodigies, that the Genius of Philosophy ever walked hand in hand with him." --James Madison, on Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Samuel Harrison Smith, 1826

"Some talked, some wrote, and some fought to promote and establish it, but you and Mr. Jefferson thought for us all. I never take a retrospect of the years 1775 and 1776 without associating your opinions and speeches and conversations with all the great political, moral, and intellectual achievements of the Congress of those memorable years." --Benjamin Rush, to John Adams, 1812


"His integrity was most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known, no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision. He was indeed, in every sense of the words, a wise, a good, and a great man." --Thomas Jefferson, on George Washington in a letter to Dr. Walter Jones, 1814

"Perhaps the strongest feature in his character was prudence, never acting until every circumstance, every consideration, was maturely weighed; refraining if he saw a doubt, but, when once decided, going through with his purpose, whatever obstacles opposed." --Thomas Jefferson, on George Washington in a letter to Dr. Walter Jones, 1814


"Hamilton was indeed a singular character. Of acute understanding, disinterested, honest, and honorable in all private transactions, amiable in society, and duly valuing virtue in private life, yet so bewitched & perverted by the British example, as to be under thoro' conviction that corruption was essential to the government of a nation." --Thomas Jefferson, on Alexander Hamilton in The Anas

"[He] will live in the memory and gratitude of the wise & good, as a luminary of Science, as a votary of liberty, as a model of patriotism, and as a benefactor of human kind." --James Madison, on Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Nicholas P. Trist, 1826


"I have sometimes asked myself whether my country is the better for my having lived at all? I do not know that it is. I have been the instrument of doing the following things; but they would have been done by others; some of them, perhaps, a little better." --Thomas Jefferson, 1800


"It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage, and such only, as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society. Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe." --James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance, 1785


"I have lived, Sir, a long time; and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this Truth, that God governs in the Affairs of Men. And if a Sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid?" --Benjamin Franklin, Motion for Prayers in the Constitutional Convention, 1787

"The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities impressed with it." --James Madison, letter to Frederick Beasley, 1825


"A State, I cheerfully admit, is the noblest work of Man: But Man, himself, free and honest, is, I speak as to this world, the noblest work of God…." --James Wilson, Chisholm v. Georgia, 1793

"It is the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons, to worship the SUPREME BEING, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping GOD in the manner most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious profession or sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship." --John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776


"To grant that there is a supreme intelligence who rules the world and has established laws to regulate the actions of his creatures; and still to assert that man, in a state of nature, may be considered as perfectly free from all restraints of law and government, appears to a common understanding altogether irreconcilable. Good and wise men, in all ages, have embraced a very dissimilar theory. They have supposed that the deity, from the relations we stand in to himself and to each other, has constituted an eternal and immutable law, which is indispensably obligatory upon all mankind, prior to any human institution whatever. This is what is called the law of nature....Upon this law depend the natural rights of mankind." --Alexander Hamilton

"I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation." --George Washington, circular letter of farewell to the Army, 1783

"It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors." --George Washington, Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1789


"Stability in government is essential to national character and to the advantages annexed to it, as well as to that repose and confidence in the minds of the people, which are among the chief blessings of civil society." --James Madison, Federalist No. 37, 1788


"The instrument by which [government] must act are either the AUTHORITY of the laws or FORCE. If the first be destroyed, the last must be substituted; and where this becomes the ordinary instrument of government there is an end to liberty! "--Alexander Hamilton, Tully, No. 3, 1794

27717  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: September 27, 2010, 06:36:22 AM
Electricity has often been an infrastructure investment that fits within free market concepts, but a goodly part of what Friedman advocates does not.  What he advocates is , , , well I suppose fascism would not be far off the mark; it certainly is state directed.  We see what economic clusterfcuks such an approach here in the US can produce.  Will it be different for the Chinese?

(IIRC we have a thread on nuclear power.  Any info about the pebble bed reactor would be a good fit there, hint hint.)
27718  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Govt seeks more wiretapping of internet on: September 27, 2010, 06:28:20 AM
Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Mon, September 27, 2010 -- 12:46 AM ET

U.S. Is Working to Ease Wiretapping on the Internet

Federal law enforcement and national security officials are
preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet,
arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism
suspects is "going dark" as people increasingly communicate
online instead of by telephone.

Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services
that enable communications -- including encrypted e-mail
transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites
like Facebook and software that allows direct "peer to peer"
messaging like Skype -- to be technically capable of
complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would
include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted

Read More:
27719  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq returns-3 on: September 27, 2010, 06:23:05 AM
I hear that the Iraqis recently opened fire on a Danish embassy vehicle in the IZ that tried to roll past a checkpoint without stopping.  I am told bullets hit vehicle.
No surprise.  My old partner and I saw far too many people in the IZ who drove up too fast on these checkpoints and didn't give the Iraqis time to digest their approach.  I always considered it utter arrogance.  And then they would come back to the office and whine how the Iraqis were harrassing them.
27720  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / China's moonshots on: September 26, 2010, 09:51:06 PM
OK freemarketeers, analyze this:

China is doing moon shots. Yes, that’s plural. When I say “moon shots” I mean big, multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing investments. China has at least four going now: one is building a network of ultramodern airports; another is building a web of high-speed trains connecting major cities; a third is in bioscience, where the Beijing Genomics Institute this year ordered 128 DNA sequencers — from America — giving China the largest number in the world in one institute to launch its own stem cell/genetic engineering industry; and, finally, Beijing just announced that it was providing $15 billion in seed money for the country’s leading auto and battery companies to create an electric car industry, starting in 20 pilot cities. In essence, China Inc. just named its dream team of 16-state-owned enterprises to move China off oil and into the next industrial growth engine: electric cars.

Josh Haner/The New York Times
Thomas L. Friedman
Go to Columnist Page ».Not to worry. America today also has its own multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing moon shot: fixing Afghanistan.

This contrast is not good. I was recently at a Washington Nationals baseball game. While waiting for a hot dog, I overheard the conversation behind me. A management consultant for a big national firm was telling his colleagues that his job was to “market products to the Department of Homeland Security.” I thought to myself: “Oh, my! Inventing studies about terrorist threats and selling them to the U.S. government, is that an industry now?”

We’re out of balance — the balance between security and prosperity. We need to be in a race with China, not just Al Qaeda. Let’s start with electric cars.

The electric car industry is pivotal for three reasons, argues Shai Agassi, the C.E.O. of Better Place, a global electric car company that next year will begin operating national electric car networks in Israel and Denmark. First, the auto industry was the foundation for America’s manufacturing middle class. Second, the country that replaces gasoline-powered vehicles with electric-powered vehicles — in an age of steadily rising oil prices and steadily falling battery prices — will have a huge cost advantage and independence from imported oil. Third, electric cars are full of power electronics and software. “Think of the applications industry that will be spun out from electric cars,” says Agassi. It will be the iPhone on steroids.

Europe is using $7-a-gallon gasoline to stimulate the market for electric cars; China is using $5-a-gallon and naming electric cars as one of the industrial pillars for its five-year growth plan. And America? President Obama has directed stimulus money at electric cars, but he is unwilling to do the one thing that would create the sustained consumer pull required to grow an electric car industry here: raise taxes on gasoline. Price matters. Sure, the Moore’s Law of electric cars — “the cost per mile of the electric car battery will be cut in half every 18 months” — will steadily drive the cost down, says Agassi, but only once we get scale production going. U.S. companies can do that on their own or in collaboration with Chinese ones. But God save us if we don’t do it at all.

Two weeks ago, I visited the Coda Automotive battery facility in Tianjin, China — a joint venture between U.S. innovators and investors, China’s Lishen battery company and China National Offshore Oil Company. Yes, China’s oil company is using profits to develop batteries.

Kevin Czinger, Coda’s C.E.O., who drove me around Manhattan in his company’s soon-to-be-in-production electric car last week, laid out what is going on. The backbone of the modern U.S. economy was locally made cars powered by locally produced oil. It started us on a huge growth spurt. In recent decades, though, that industry was supplanted by foreign-made cars run on foreign oil, so “now every time we buy a car we’re exporting $15,000 of capital, paying for it with borrowed money and running it on foreign energy sources,” says Czinger. “We’ve gone from autos being a middle-class-making-machine to a middle-class-destroying-machine.” A U.S. electric car/battery industry would reverse that.

The Coda, 14,000 of which will be on the road in California over the next year and can travel 100 miles on one overnight charge, is a combination of Chinese-made batteries and complex American-system electronics — all final-assembled in Oakland (price: $37,000). It is a win-win start-up for both countries.

If we both now create the market incentives for consumers to buy electric cars, and the plug-in infrastructure for people to drive them everywhere, it will be a win-win moon shot for both countries. The electric car industry will flourish in the U.S. and China, and together we’ll tackle the next challenge: using auto battery innovations to build big storage batteries for wind and solar. However, if only China puts the gasoline prices and infrastructure in place, the industry will gravitate there. It will be a moon shot for them, a hobby for us, and you’ll import your new electric car from China just like you’re now importing your oil from Saudi Arabia.
27721  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Did the Russkis plant stuxnet? on: September 26, 2010, 07:18:35 PM
Russia’s decision to ban the transfer of heavy military equipment to Iran falls under Russia’s agreement to the UNSC sanctions against Iran, signed in June. The decree also bans several Iranians involved in Iran’s nuclear activities from transiting Russian territory and prohibits Russian legal entities or individuals from rendering financial services to operations if there are reasons to believe the operations might be related to Iran’s nuclear activities. The ban on nuclear-related personnel and financial services is interesting because Russia built the bulk of Iran’s Bushehr nuclear facility and still has some 200 scientists in Iran running the plant.

Russia’s move is meant to make a statement: Moscow and Washington are coordinating on the Iran issue. Russia wavered on agreeing to the U.S.-designed sanctions for years in order to use its vote as leverage against the United States, as tensions were rising between Moscow and Washington. Iran traditionally was part of the game between the two countries; for example, when Washington pursued military agreements with Georgia, Moscow would do the same with Iran.

But in the past six months, Russia and the United States seemed to have evolved from this tenuous relationship and have come to a temporary agreement on a series of issues. Russia signed onto the Iran sanctions, agreed to allow increasing amounts of U.S. military supplies to transit its territory to Afghanistan, and agreed to upgrade and repair NATO members’ military equipment used in Afghanistan. In turn, Washington has agreed to a series of large modernization deals in Russia and has backed off its bilateral relationships with many former Soviet states (like Georgia and Ukraine), allowing Russia time to consolidate its power in the former Soviet sphere.

Medvedev’s decree comes as Washington is considering opening talks with Tehran. Iran was more able to stand up to the United States while Russia was its primary power patron. Russia’s apparent abandonment of Iran decreases Tehran’s leverage in any future talks with Washington.

But as with most of Russia’s concessions, there is a loophole in the decree. The document specifies that vehicles, vessels or aircraft under the Russian state flag will not transfer military equipment to Iran. This means Russia could deliver the equipment using other states’ territory or transportation methods. Russia also could fulfill its military contracts with Iran through its military industrial joint ventures with its neighbors, such as Kazakhstan and Belarus. In short, Russia has quite a bit of room to maneuver should it need to use Iran as leverage against the United States again.

Wondering if the Russkis planted stuxnet at Bushehr?  Word is that the common strand to stuxnet infected areas is that a certain Russian contractor was there , , ,
27722  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: on: September 26, 2010, 07:12:28 PM
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on Sept. 22 signed a decree banning Russia from transferring heavy military equipment, including the S-300 strategic air defense system, to Iran. On the same day, the United States expressed interest in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia joining the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which Russia has wanted since the Baltic states gained their independence. This trade-off is the result of Moscow and Washington reaching an informal agreement on several contentious issues. However, these concessions are not without problems and loopholes.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev signed a decree Sept. 22 banning Russia from transferring the S-300 strategic air defense system, armored vehicles, warplanes and helicopters to Iran, in compliance with the U.S.-led U.N. Security Council (UNSC) sanctions against the country. On the same day, the United States said it is interested in the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) joining the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), which Russia has been pushing for since the countries gained their independence and began joining Western institutions.

These developments come as Moscow and Washington have reached at least an informal temporary agreement on a series of contentious issues between them and on the eve of the foreign ministers’ meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in New York. But the concessions by Russia and the United States come with problems and loopholes.

Russia’s decision to ban the transfer of heavy military equipment to Iran falls under Russia’s agreement to the UNSC sanctions against Iran, signed in June. The decree also bans several Iranians involved in Iran’s nuclear activities from transiting Russian territory and prohibits Russian legal entities or individuals from rendering financial services to operations if there are reasons to believe the operations might be related to Iran’s nuclear activities. The ban on nuclear-related personnel and financial services is interesting because Russia built the bulk of Iran’s Bushehr nuclear facility and still has some 200 scientists in Iran running the plant.

Russia’s move is meant to make a statement: Moscow and Washington are coordinating on the Iran issue. Russia wavered on agreeing to the U.S.-designed sanctions for years in order to use its vote as leverage against the United States, as tensions were rising between Moscow and Washington. Iran traditionally was part of the game between the two countries; for example, when Washington pursued military agreements with Georgia, Moscow would do the same with Iran.

But in the past six months, Russia and the United States seemed to have evolved from this tenuous relationship and have come to a temporary agreement on a series of issues. Russia signed onto the Iran sanctions, agreed to allow increasing amounts of U.S. military supplies to transit its territory to Afghanistan, and agreed to upgrade and repair NATO members’ military equipment used in Afghanistan. In turn, Washington has agreed to a series of large modernization deals in Russia and has backed off its bilateral relationships with many former Soviet states (like Georgia and Ukraine), allowing Russia time to consolidate its power in the former Soviet sphere.

Medvedev’s decree comes as Washington is considering opening talks with Tehran. Iran was more able to stand up to the United States while Russia was its primary power patron. Russia’s apparent abandonment of Iran decreases Tehran’s leverage in any future talks with Washington.

But as with most of Russia’s concessions, there is a loophole in the decree. The document specifies that vehicles, vessels or aircraft under the Russian state flag will not transfer military equipment to Iran. This means Russia could deliver the equipment using other states’ territory or transportation methods. Russia also could fulfill its military contracts with Iran through its military industrial joint ventures with its neighbors, such as Kazakhstan and Belarus. In short, Russia has quite a bit of room to maneuver should it need to use Iran as leverage against the United States again.

On the same day as Russia’s latest concession to the United States, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder said the Baltic states should join the CFE — a Cold War arms control treaty that is a central pillar of Europe’s military-security and conventional arms control architecture. The CFE places explicit and itemized ceilings on conventional military hardware — such as main battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, attack helicopters and fighter aircraft — throughout the European theater for both NATO and the former Warsaw Pact states (including Russia west of the Urals). Russia’s problem with the CFE is that it was signed before many of the post-Soviet states existed — when Soviet forces were stationed in East Berlin, not when NATO was encroaching on St. Petersburg. The Baltic states’ absence from the CFE is one of Russia’s biggest fears because the three countries are NATO members and are on Russia’s doorstep.

Washington has made similar statements on the CFE before, but this latest statement comes as Russia is increasing pressure on the Baltic states to become more neutral toward Russia. The Baltics have already been concerned during the past few months about losing their traditional Western patron, Poland, and the trio could see any pressure to join the CFE as the United States also giving in to Russia.

Like the Russian concession, the U.S. statement on the CFE is not without its problems. There is no guarantee the Baltics will follow through on Washington’s suggestion. The United States has announced before that it is interested in the Baltics joining the treaty, but no such action has been taken yet. And while the United States has given assurances about pulling back its support for Georgia, the Baltic states remain NATO members — unlike Georgia — and continue to enjoy the alliance’s security guarantee.

Washington and Moscow are using hollow, rhetorical promises to each other in order to maintain the warming trend in their bilateral relations. In order to resolve larger issues of interest for each state — such as the U.S. standoff with Iran and the war in Afghanistan, and Russia’s resurgence and drive for modernization — the countries need each other. Neither the United States nor Russia believes the current detente will last; rather, Washington and Moscow are working to deal with larger issues in the short term.
Thursday, November 18, 2010   STRATFOR.COM  Diary Archives 

U.S.-Russian Relations in Pre-Summit Flux

Just days before the NATO summit in Lisbon in which Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama will meet, Medvedev has postponed his annual State of the State address from Nov. 22 to Nov. 30 to account for a possible shift in U.S.-Russian relations, according to STRATFOR sources in Moscow.

Over the past six months, Moscow and Washington had set many of their disagreements aside to achieve more critical goals. Russia wanted aid on its modernization and privatization programs, a cessation of Western support for Georgia and Ukraine, and a freeze on ballistic missile defense (BMD) plans in Russia’s periphery. The United States wanted Russia to sign onto sanctions against Iran and to drop support for Tehran, as well as provide increased logistical support for the war in Afghanistan. On all these issues, there was some sort of common ground found, meaning that Moscow and Washington seemed to have struck a temporary detente.

“START seems to be just the beginning of a possible breakdown in the “reset” with Russia.”
One bellwether to judge U.S.-Russian relations has been the new START Treaty — the nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia. Obama and Medvedev agreed on START in April and it looked as if it would pass in both countries’ legislatures, especially in time for the November NATO summit. STRATFOR sources in Moscow even indicated that a delegation from the United States two months ago ensured that relations were in a warming period and that START would be signed.

But there has been a shift in Washington in the past month since the November U.S. elections.

Since the elections, the U.S. Senate — which must ratify START – has shifted positions. There are senators who are either vociferously opposed to the START document or against it in its current form. There is even a concern that since the elections, START may not even make it to the floor for debate. Russian officials have directly linked the Senate’s stall on START to a possible break of any reset in relations between Moscow and Washington. Part of the Senate debate on START is whether the United States should even contribute to Russia’s modernization program, which Obama agreed to on Medvedev’s last visit. A delay or reversal on either issue on the U.S. side is an indication that Washington is either divided over the future of Russian relations or is starting to cool from its recent warming.

But problems in the Senate over relations with Russia seem to be just the beginning of a possible breakdown in the “reset” with Russia.

The next issue is that at the NATO summit, there is the NATO treaty on BMDs that could possibly include Russia’s participation in some yet undefined format in any future BMD projects. But this Russian participation would not preclude Washington from making a bilateral deal on setting up missile defense installations – in countries such as Poland and Czech Republic. While Russia would enjoy being included in a NATO treaty on BMD, it is much more concerned with Washington’s bilateral deals on BMD projects in Central Europe. This is an issue Russia had previously assumed was frozen, but without the new NATO treaty covering U.S. bilateral deals, the issue of BMD in Central Europe is back on the table much to Russia’s chagrin.

Lastly, there are rumors that military support from the West is returning to Georgia. At this time, STRATFOR cannot confirm these rumors from Moscow sources, but if true, every guarantee Russia struck over the summer with the United States on forming a temporary detente has been abandoned.

This is the fear Moscow has going into this NATO summit over the weekend. Russia seems to be unsure if all the recent signs over the past few weeks on START, modernization, BMD and Georgia are really a decision in the United States to return to an aggressive stance with Russia, or if there are other explanations, like party politics in Washington. This is why Medvedev has pushed back his State of the State address, and sources say that a second version of the speech is being written in which the president won’t be so warm on relations with the United States.

What happens next will be key. If the U.S. has abandoned its understandings with Russia, then it is time for Moscow to reciprocate. This could mean that everything from resuming support for Iran to pulling back on support for the mission in Afghanistan could be considered in the Kremlin.

27723  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Whose money is it anyway? on: September 26, 2010, 07:08:25 PM
Whose Money Is It Anyway?
"A just security to property is not afforded by that government under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species." --James Madison

He may be the Joker, but the joke is on you.My children are big fans of Drew Carey's comedy show, "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" Carey selects scenarios for the cast, who then improvise characters, songs and scenes. At the end of each assignment, Carey then arbitrarily assigns "1,000 points" to the funniest performer adding the caveat, "But the points don't matter."

I mention this because there's another improvisational comedy show that the whole world has been watching for almost two years. Unfortunately, this one uses real scenarios, which have real consequences for millions of real people. The cast is far less creative than Carey and his comedy troupe, but, unfortunately, these real world points do matter.

I am, of course, talking about The BHO Show, and Obama's cadre of characters, who do his political bidding as they endeavor to accomplish "the fundamental transformation of the United States of America."

The underlying theme of The BHO Show is that bigger government is better government -- that the central government should be the ultimate arbiter of all enterprise through either taxation or regulation. To support this theme, Obama's cast is tasked with reinventing the truth in order to expand the Barackracy.

One of the most subtle but insidious means used by the BHO Players to subjugate the masses is manipulation of the common vernacular, the use of common words in a revised context to reframe the perceptions of the audience.

For example, government spending becomes "investment." Tax cuts "cost the government." Lower taxes are those that the government "can't afford." Redistributing your income to those who pay no taxes becomes "a rebate." Advocating for lower taxes is framed as "selfish."

BHO's cast even twists the most basic economic formulations. For example, they insist that lower taxes cause deficits, while anyone with a wisp of wit knows that spending causes deficits. They insist that pilfering trillions of dollars in tax obligations from future generations is justified by counting fictitious "jobs created or saved" now, but only an ideological Socialist believes the role of the central government is to "create or save jobs."

Of course, the show's host is the master of this deceptive dialect, especially effective when armed with Teleprompters.

In his most recent calls for tax increases, Obama claimed, "I can't give tax cuts to the top 2 percent of Americans ... and lower the deficit at the same time. ... It would cost us $700 billion to do it. ... We are not going to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars to give tax cuts to people who don't need them. ... On average millionaires would get a check of a hundred thousand dollars. ... We can't give away $700 billion to folks who don't need it. ... We can't afford the $700 billion price tag."

This nugget of ObamaSpeak translates, "Your money is actually my money, so I'll determine how much of it you can keep. If I let you keep more of your money, it will cause deficits, because I'm certainly not going to cut spending. Let me be clear, if I give a small business owner who wants to create a private sector job a tax break, it'll cost me a government job. I'm not going to fund private sector job growth when these business owners already have enough well-paid employees."

Given all this, I'd submit that the most fitting title for The BHO Show is, "Whose Money Is It Anyway?"

On this question, he certainly has the Leftmedia stumped.

Consider this "analysis" of tax cuts from CNN's Ali Velshi: "[L]et me put this into perspective. First, it's not free. Extending the tax breaks to the top 3 percent of earners would cost between $650 and $700 billion. Extending it for the rest of us is going to cost a lot more, possibly $3 trillion."

Notably, however, one lone Leftmedia talkinghead takes exception to BHO's wacky wordplay. MSNBC's Chris "The Thrill" Matthews nitpicks, "I have one small [SMALL?] tweak to make to what the president said today -- he should stop saying that giving people tax cuts is giving people money. It's their money! A tax cut is when the government doesn't take our money. It's an important distinction."

Of course, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

In regard to the growing ranks of conservative Republicans who are steadfastly refusing to negotiate with Obama on his proposed tax increases, Obama says, "They are the Party of 'No.'"

But the fact is, those conservatives are restoring "the Party of Know," the Party of Ronald Reagan, whose timeless model for economic restoration is the only path to prosperity. They understand the consequences of tax increases and see through Obama's myths about tax cuts.

Will they succeed?

Thomas Jefferson declared, "Excessive taxation ... will carry reason and reflection to every man's door, and particularly in the hour of election." However, his was an era when taxation was levied, appropriately, on consumption -- in other words, when the burden of the cost of government was appropriately spread over enough people to ensure accountability.

Today, however, almost 90 percent of the cost of government is borne by 25 percent of income earners, and more than 50 percent of Americans now have no net income tax liability. Consequently, I have often quoted George Bernard Shaw: "A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." (See how you rank as a taxpayer.)

The only hope for restoring the "reason and reflection" of which Jefferson wrote is to replace the current system of taxation with a national sales tax or a flat income tax. Unfortunately, the socialist fix is in: Few among that 50 percent of Americans with no net income tax liability will now vote themselves a share of the cost of government.

There is, however, another path to reason and reflection, which is a more enduring formula for success. The Tea Party movement has founded its grassroots platform on an appeal to restore Essential Liberty and Rule of Law as established by our Constitution, and that appeal is spreading the "brushfires of freedom."

To that end, I encourage every American Patriot reading these words to join one more Freedom Front, and help us distribute a small but highly effective instrument for educating Americans on First Principles, the Tea Party Primer. With tools like this pocket guide increasing the ranks of those steadfastly devoted to Liberty, in a few election cycles we will yank The BHO Show, and others like it, off the viewing schedule, and restore the integrity of our Constitution.

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Publisher, The Patriot Post
27724  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / good stuxnet piece on: September 26, 2010, 10:28:20 AM
27725  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH on Stuxnet on: September 26, 2010, 09:23:33 AM
Iran Fights Malware Attacking ComputersBy DAVID E. SANGER
Published: September 25, 2010
Send To Phone
LinkedinDiggMixxMySpaceYahoo! BuzzPermalink. WASHINGTON — The Iranian government agency that runs the country’s nuclear facilities, including those the West suspects are part of a weapons program, has reported that its engineers are trying to protect their facilities from a sophisticated computer worm that has infected industrial plants across Iran.

Bits: Malicious Software Program Attacks Industry (September 24, 2010) The agency, the Atomic Energy Organization, did not specify whether the worm had already infected any of its nuclear facilities, including Natanz, the underground enrichment site that for several years has been a main target of American and Israeli covert programs.

But the announcement raised suspicions, and new questions, about the origins and target of the worm, Stuxnet, which computer experts say is a far cry from common computer malware that has affected the Internet for years. A worm is a self-replicating malware computer program. A virus is malware that infects its target by attaching itself to programs or documents.

Stuxnet, which was first publicly identified several months ago, is aimed solely at industrial equipment made by Siemens that controls oil pipelines, electric utilities, nuclear facilities and other large industrial sites. While it is not clear that Iran was the main target — the infection has also been reported in Indonesia, Pakistan, India and elsewhere — a disproportionate number of computers inside Iran appear to have been struck, according to reports by computer security monitors.

Given the sophistication of the worm and its aim at specific industrial systems, many experts believe it is most probably the work of a state, rather than independent hackers. The worm is able to attack computers that are disconnected from the Internet, usually to protect them; in those cases an infected USB drive is plugged into a computer. The worm can then spread itself within a computer network, and possibly to other networks.

The semiofficial Mehr news agency in Iran on Saturday quoted Reza Taghipour, a top official of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, as saying that “the effect and damage of this spy worm in government systems is not serious” and that it had been “more or less” halted.

But another Iranian official, Mahmud Liai of the Ministry of Industry and Mines, was quoted as saying that 30,000 computers had been affected, and that the worm was “part of the electronic warfare against Iran.”

ISNA, another Iranian news agency, had reported Friday that officials from Iran’s atomic energy agency had been meeting in recent days to discuss how to remove the Stuxnet worm, which exploits some previously unknown weaknesses in Microsoft’s Windows software. Microsoft has said in recent days that it is fixing those vulnerabilities.

It is extraordinarily difficult to trace the source of any sophisticated computer worm, and nearly impossible to determine for certain its target.

But the Iranians have reason to suspect they are high on the target list: in the past, they have found evidence of sabotage of imported equipment, notably power supplies to run the centrifuges that are used to enrich uranium at Natanz. The New York Times reported in 2009 that President George W. Bush had authorized new efforts, including some that were experimental, to undermine electrical systems, computer systems and other networks that serve Iran’s nuclear program, according to current and former American officials.

The program is among the most secret in the United States government, and it has been accelerated since President Obama took office, according to some American officials. Iran’s enrichment program has run into considerable technical difficulties in the past year, but it is not clear whether that is because of the effects of sanctions against the country, poor design for its centrifuges, which it obtained from Pakistan, or sabotage.

“It is easy to look at what we know about Stuxnet and jump to the conclusion that it is of American origin and Iran is the target, but there is no proof of that,” said James Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and one of the country’s leading experts on cyberwar intelligence. “We may not know the real answer for some time.”

Based on what he knows of Stuxnet, Mr. Lewis said, the United States is “one of four or five places that could have done it — the Israelis, the British and the Americans are the prime suspects, then the French and Germans, and you can’t rule out the Russians and the Chinese.”

President Obama has talked extensively about developing better cyberdefenses for the United States, to protect banks, power plants, telecommunications systems and other critical infrastructure. He has said almost nothing about the other side of the cybereffort, billions of dollars spent on offensive capability, much of it based inside the National Security Agency.

The fact that the worm is aimed at Siemens equipment is telling: the company’s control systems are used around the world, but have been spotted in many Iranian facilities, say officials and experts who have toured them. Those include the new Bushehr nuclear power plant, built with Russian help.

But Bushehr is considered by nuclear weapons experts to be virtually no help to Iran in its suspected weapons program; there is more concern about the low-enriched uranium produced at Natanz, which could, with a year or more of additional processing, be converted to bomb fuel.
27726  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: September 26, 2010, 09:09:38 AM
Stratfor's George Friedman's book "The Next 100 Years" (which the author of this article may have read  wink ) really impressed me with the importance of naval power.  This article's analysis makes a lot of sense to me.
27727  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq returns-2 on: September 26, 2010, 12:21:45 AM
Well I have been here in the IZ all of 24 hours and I can already tell you that nothing has changed effectiveness and efficiency wise as far as the USG goes.  I still see a fragmented, non-critical area focus in the security project I will be working on.  This was one of the huge frustrations I had in 2008-2009 when I did a whole year here.  Thank God this time is only 90 days.
The sad truth is that, contrary to popular belief and in my humble opinion, America's best and brightest are not over here.  I almost feel like this work milieu (international assistance work) is where all the C students went after graduation.  The same incompetent, inefficient people are running the show, and still blaming the Iraqis for everything that does not go according to plan.  When you pick up the paper at home and read about how the Iraqis (and Afghans) are still all screwed up after all these years, you should know that our incompetence (which we are in denial of) is as much a root cause as any part the Iraqis (and presumably Afghans) play.  They are convenient scapegoats.
27728  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: September 25, 2010, 09:23:00 PM

Good to have you with us again.  Your reports are always appreciated.
27729  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: September 25, 2010, 06:51:43 PM
More on the Stux worm!
27730  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: September 25, 2010, 06:46:56 PM
GM-- awesome google fu my man, that's what I was thinking of.
27731  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: weightlifting on: September 25, 2010, 02:10:31 PM
CCP:  Would you please post this on the Martial Arts forum?  Thank you.
27732  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 25, 2010, 02:04:31 PM

This issue had crossed my radar screen.  Thanks for that report.
27733  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: September 25, 2010, 02:01:51 PM
See the recent posts in the CyberWar thread about Stuxnet.

In a possibly related vein here are some comments yesterday from Stratfor:

Ahmadinejad Reaches Out to Washington

While in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad worked the U.S. media circuit, spreading his views on subjects including the Holocaust, human rights and — of particular interest to STRATFOR — the potential for U.S.-Iranian negotiations.

Rumors are buzzing around Washington over what appears to be a fresh attempt by the Iranian president to establish a backchannel link to the U.S. administration. The latest communiques that we at STRATFOR have received from Iranian officials close to Ahmadinejad have been unusually pleasant in tone, highlighting the various areas where Tehran may be prone to a compromise with Washington. Even in commenting on an unusual bombing that took place Wednesday in the Kurdish-populated northwestern Iranian city of Mahabad, Iranian officials seemed to have focused their blame on Israel as opposed to the United States. Ahmadinejad and his associates appear to be making a concerted effort to create an atmosphere for a more substantial dialogue with the United States on everything from Iraq to the nuclear issue to Afghanistan.

Back in Tehran, Ahmadinejad’s rivals are fuming over what they view as a unilateral attempt by the president to pursue these negotiations. Some of the more hardline figures don’t feel current conditions are conducive to talks while others simply want to control the negotiations themselves and deny Ahmadinejad a claim to fame in the foreign policy sphere.

“Negotiating games aside, there seems to be a legitimate sense of urgency behind Iran’s latest appeal for talks.”
This has always been the United States’ biggest issue in trying to negotiate with the Islamic republic. Since the 1980s, it has been a labyrinthine and often futile process for most U.S. policymakers who have attempted to figure out whom to talk to in Tehran and whether the person they’re talking to actually has the clout to speak for the Iranian establishment. Can the United States be confident, for example, that any message carried by an Ahmadinejad emissary won’t be immediately shut down by the supreme leader? Will one faction be able to follow through with even the preliminary step of a negotiation without another faction scuttling the process? At the same time, Iran is notorious for obfuscating the negotiations to its advantage by dropping conciliatory hints along the way and then catching the United States off guard when it needs to make a more aggressive move.

Negotiating games aside, there seems to be a legitimate sense of urgency behind Iran’s latest appeal for talks. When else will Iran have the United States this militarily and politically constrained across the Islamic world (especially in countries where Iran carries substantial clout)? Meanwhile, with U.S. patience wearing thin in Afghanistan, countries like Russia and China are racing to reassert their influence in their respective peripheries before the window of opportunity closes and the United States recalibrates its threat priorities. These states will do whatever they can to keep that window of opportunity open (for example, by supplying Iran with gasoline at albeit hefty premiums to complicate the U.S. sanctions effort and by keeping open the threat of strategic weapons sales), but their time horizon is still hazy. None of these states want to wake up one day to find the haze cleared and the United States on their doorstep.

But for Iran, the United States is already on its doorstep and the main issue standing between them — Iraq and the broader Sunni-Shia balance in the Persian Gulf — will remain paralyzed until the two can reach some basic level of understanding. The will to reopen the dialogue may be there, but the United States is waiting to see whether Iran will be able to negotiate with one voice.
27734  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: September 25, 2010, 02:00:56 PM
Excellent work here GM. 

In support of GM's analysis "My money says Japan folded after the US told them that we don't have their back"  while flying back to LA from Dulles/DC airport today this morning's Pravda on the Potomac (a.k.a. the WaPo) quoted some Under Secretary of State saying that Japan had done the right thing, that is was the sort of thing that "mature" nations did or something like that. 
27735  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq returns! on: September 25, 2010, 01:53:10 PM
Our man in Iraq is back there again and we begin anew an intermittent sharing of his slice of real life observations:

From Jordan:

 24 Sep 2010 02:13:01 +0000
Well the young folks in Amman sure love their night life. Since I was last here they opened a disco near the hotel I stayed at. The line was like something from the old Studio 54 days. Plenty of girls wearing head scarves. And tight jeans. The music emanating from that place was very loud and booming. I'm gonna go ahead and say that place was smokin' last night. Thursday night in Amman is like Friday night in USA. They are off Friday and Saturday. Friday is religious day. Saturday is family day.
I got up at 02:45 because my internal clock is messed up. And I couldn't get my mind off of the fact that in this part of the world hotels occasionally go boom. Plus I didn't work out yesterday so I was obsessing over that.
Fisticuffs at Amman airport

, , , It took 4 lame ass cop/guard types to drop a guy. I came close to jumping in and taking him down and out because it was taking them forever. I have no idea what it's about. This guy had numerous opportunities to grab a gun from a holster, if any were present because they could not easily take him out

One of the first thing somebody who has been to Baghdad before will notice is the essential lack of air assets moving all about.  I am out at BIAP right now.  Several years aho the whine of USAF aircraft engines, and the taking off and landing of choppers, was almost non-stop (especially at night).  It now seems eerily quiet of such background noise.  I am told that the several times a week embassy flights often have only 15-25 people on them, whereas they were packed to the gills back in the day.  The pervasive sound of non-stop generators also seems somewhat lessed as well.
If one saw the feeble patdowns that were given to guys in Amman who triggered the magnetometer at the airport, one might not want to get on a commerical airliner.
27736  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT/POTH Japan buckles (due to REM?) on: September 25, 2010, 03:35:29 AM
TOKYO — A diplomatic showdown between Japan and China  that began two weeks ago with the arrest of the captain of a Chinese trawler near disputed islands ended Friday when Tokyo accepted Beijing’s demands for his immediate release, a concession that appeared to mark a humiliating retreat in a Pacific test of wills.

Japan freed the captain, Zhan Qixiong, 41, who left Saturday on a chartered flight sent by the Chinese government to take him home. Mr. Zhan had been held by the Japanese authorities since his boat collided with Japanese patrol vessels on Sept. 7 near uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, and Japan had insisted that he would be prosecuted.

His release handed a significant victory to Chinese leaders, who have ratcheted up the pressure on Japan with verbal threats and economic sanctions.

“It certainly appears that Japan gave in,” said Hiroshi Nakanishi, a professor of international relations at Kyoto University. “This is going to raise questions about why Japan pushed the issue in the first place, if it couldn’t follow through with meeting China’s challenges.”

The climb down was the latest indicator of the shifting balance of power in Asia. China this year surpassed Japan as the world’s second largest economy and had already become Japan’s biggest export market. Japan, mired in extended political uncertainty and economic malaise, has had a succession of weak prime ministers who have struggled to assert its interests in a region focused mainly on a resurgent China.

China on Saturday restated its claims to the disputed islands and in a statement demanded an apology and compensation. “Such an act seriously infringed upon China’s territorial sovereignty and violated the human rights of Chinese citizens,” the statement said.

At the outset, Japan had made an uncharacteristic display of political backbone by detaining the captain, when in the past it had simply chased away Chinese vessels that approached too close to the islands, which are claimed by both countries but administered by Japan. Apparently angered by a rising number of incursions by Chinese fishing boats in recent years, Tokyo initially appeared determined to demonstrate to Beijing its control of the islands, analysts and diplomats said.

Instead, the move unleashed a furious diplomatic assault from China. Beijing cut off ministerial-level talks on issues like joint energy development, and curtailed visits to Japan by Chinese tourists. The fact that the detention took place on Sept. 8, the anniversary of Japan’s 1931 invasion of northeast China, spurred scattered street protests and calls by nationalistic Chinese bloggers to take a firm stand against Tokyo.

In recent days, China stepped up its intimidation. Chinese customs officials appeared to block crucial exports to Japan of rare earths, which are metals vital to Japan’s auto and electronics industries. Then on Thursday, four Japanese construction company employees were detained in the Chinese province of Hebei.

In the end, diplomats and analysts said Japan was forced to recognize that taking the next step of charging the captain and putting him on trial would result in a serious deterioration of ties with China, Japan’s biggest trading partner.

“At this point, Japan had only one choice,” said a Western diplomat in Beijing, who spoke on the usual diplomatic condition of anonymity. “It had to charge the captain, or it would have to climb down.”

It chose the latter. On Friday, prosecutors on the island of Ishigaki, where the captain was held, cited diplomatic considerations in their decision to let him go, and suspended their investigation into charges of obstructing officials on duty.

“Considering the effect on the people of our nation and on China-Japan relations, we decided that it was not appropriate to continue the investigation,” the prosecutors said in a statement.

Until Japan’s sudden reversal on Friday, the tussle had grown to dominate both nations’ diplomatic agendas, including during the United Nations development summit meeting this week in New York.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China had refused to meet on the sidelines of the meeting with Japan’s prime minister, Naoto Kan, and instead threatened additional actions if Japan did not release the captain.

(Page 2 of 2)

The Japanese used the summit meeting to seek American support for its position. They seemed to get it when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told Japan’s new foreign minister, Seiji Maehara, that America’s treaty obligations to defend Japan from foreign attack would include any moves against the islands where the Chinese captain had been arrested.

The islands, known as Senkaku in Japanese or Diaoyu in Chinese, are also claimed by Taiwan.

The fact that Japan seemed to back down after escalating the situation brought an outpouring of criticism of Mr. Kan, who was re-elected prime minister just two weeks ago. On Friday, members of his own governing Democratic Party joined opposition lawmakers in condemning the decision to release the captain.

“I’m flabbergasted that this was resolved with such a clear diplomatic defeat for Japan,” said Yoshimi Watanabe, leader of the opposition Your Party.

The setback appears likely to raise new concerns about the leadership of the Democrats, who took power in a landslide election victory last year with promises to improve ties within Asia and reduce Japan’s dependence on the United States.

However, the standoff underscored how sentiment in Japan had hardened against China, even in recent months. Ever more frequent movements by Chinese warships into Japanese waters have stirred fears here that fast-growing China will become more aggressive in pushing its territorial claims.

However, there were also growing calls in Japan for a quick resolution to the standoff, particularly by the business community, which has become increasingly reliant on China for trade and investment. On Friday, the president of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Atsushi Saito, told reporters he welcomed the release.

“As a Japanese, I have mixed feelings about appearing so weak-kneed,” Mr. Saito said, “but realistically speaking, we had to put this problem behind us.”

In China, the captain’s release appeared to be a victory for the leadership, and particularly the prime minister, Mr. Wen. The Communist Party is keen to show itself as defending China’s territorial claims, which enjoy strong emotional support from the Chinese people. China also views itself as geopolitically hemmed in by Japan and other cold war-era American allies as it tries to take its place as a regional power.

Chinese analysts agreed that Japan had appeared to fold, but said Tokyo had no choice if it wanted to avoid a continued escalation with China.

“This was a move that Japan had to make or China would have taken further steps,” said Wang Xiangsui, a foreign policy analyst at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. “Now the two sides can discuss this more calmly.”

Mr. Zhan, the trawler captain, arrived in the Chinese coastal city of Fuzhou at 4 a.m. local time, according to the official Xinhua news agency. He was met at the airport by senior officials from the Foreign Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry, which had chartered a plane to pick him up after his release in Japan.

When the door of the plane opened, Mr. Zhan was carrying flowers and immediately was greeted with hugs by relatives waiting for him, Xinhua reported.

“Being able to return safely this time, I thank the party and government for their care,” Mr. Zhan said. “I also thank the Chinese people for their concern.”

27737  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why did Obama go to church? on: September 24, 2010, 08:46:30 PM

Why did Obama go to Church? To Listen to a Muslim Speak!
September 21, 2010 by Roberto Santiago
Filed under Islam

And embrace your future!
So, why do you think Barack Obama and family really went to church on
The mainstream media won't tell you, but Obama went to St. John's Episcopal
Church to hear a MUSLIM GUEST SPEAKER!
via Bare Naked Islam ( you are the best! )

The Post Email Yesterday, on Sunday, September 19, 2010, the Obama family
attended church for only the third time in a year. They went on foot to the
St. John's Episcopal Church situated across the Lafayette Park.
But what is widely not reported by the White House and the MSM is that on
that particular Sunday in that particular church, Dr. Ziad Asali, M.D., a
Muslim, founder and president of the American Task Force on Palestine, was
the guest speaker. He was there to speak on the subject of "Prospects of the
two-state solution in the Middle-East."
According to the website of the American Task Force on Palestine, it is a
"non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Washington, DC." The
organization describes itself as "dedicated to advocating that it is in the
American national interest to promote an end to the conflict in the Middle
East through a negotiated agreement that provides for two states - Israel
and Palestine - living side by side in peace and security."

Dr. Ziad J. Asali is described as "a long-time activist on Middle East
issues" who has testified to both chambers of Congress about Palestinian
interests, increased U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority, and "Israel's
disproportionate use of force" in Gaza. A retired physician, Asali received
his early medical training at the American University of Beirut.  He
previously served as President of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination
Committee (ADC) and Chairman of the American Committee on Jerusalem (ACJ),
which he also co-founded   He also served as the President of the
Arab-American University Graduates (AAUG). H/T Another Infidel

27738  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Noonan: The Enraged vs. the Exhausted on: September 24, 2010, 08:38:15 PM
The Enraged vs. the Exhausted
If you thought the 1994 election was historic, just wait till this year.

All anyone in America who cares about politics was talking about this week was the
searing encounter that captured, in a way that hasn't been done before, the essence
of the political moment we're in. When 2010 is reviewed, it will be the clip
producers pick to illustrate the president's disastrous fall.

It is Monday, Sept. 20, the middle of the day, in Washington. CNBC is holding a town
hall for the president. A woman stands—handsome, dignified, black, a person with
presence. She looks as if she may be what she turns out to be, an Obama supporter
who in 2008 put up street signs, passed out literature and tried to win over
co-workers. As she later told the Washington Post, "I was thinking that the people
who were against him and didn't believe in his agenda were completely insane."

The president looked relieved when she stood. Perhaps he thought she might lob a
sympathetic question that would allow him to hit a reply out of the park. Instead,
and in the nicest possible way, Velma Hart lobbed a hand grenade.

"I'm a mother. I'm a wife. I'm an American veteran, and I'm one of your middle-class
Americans. And quite frankly I'm exhausted. I'm exhausted of defending you,
defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for, and
deeply disappointed with where we are." She said, "The financial recession has taken
an enormous toll on my family." She said, "My husband and I have joked for years
that we thought we were well beyond the hot-dogs-and-beans era of our lives. But,
quite frankly, it is starting to knock on our door and ring true that that might be
where we are headed."

View Full Image

Martin Kozlowski

What a testimony. And this is the president's base. He got that look public figures
adopt when they know they just took one right in the chops on national TV and cannot
show their dismay. He could have responded with an engagement and conviction equal
to the moment. But this was our president—calm, detached, even-keeled to the point
of insensate. He offered a recital of his administration's achievements: tuition
assistance, health care. It seemed so off point. Like his first two years.

But it was the word Mrs. Hart used that captured everything: "exhausted." From what
I see, that's how a lot of Democrats feel. They've turned silent, too, like people
who witnessed a car crash and can't talk anymore about the reasons for the accident
or how many were injured.

This election is more and more shaping up into a contest between the Exhausted and
the Enraged.

In a contest like that, who wins? That's like asking, "Who would win a sporting
event between the depressed and the anxious?" The anxious are wide awake. The wide
awake win.

But Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee suggests I have the wrong word for the
Republican base. The word, she says, is not enraged but "livid."

The three-term Republican deputy whip has been campaigning in Alabama, Colorado,
Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. We
spoke by phone about what she is seeing, and she sounded like the exact opposite of

There are two major developments, she says, that are new this year and
insufficiently noted, but they're going to shape election outcomes in 2010 and

First, Washington is being revealed in a new way.

The American people now know, "with real sophistication," everything that happens in
the capital. "I find a much more knowledgeable electorate, and it is a real-time
response," Ms. Blackburn says. "We hear about it even as the vote is taking place."

Voters come to rallies carrying research—"things they pulled off the Internet,
forwarded emails," copies of bills, roll-call votes. The Internet isn't just a tool
for organization and fund-raising. It has given citizens access to information they
never had before. "The more they know," Ms. Blackburn observes, "the less they like

Second is the rise of women as a force. They "are the drivers in this election
cycle," Ms. Blackburn says. "Something is going on." At tea party events the past 18
months, she started to notice "60% of the crowd is women."

She tells of a political rally that drew thousands in Nashville, at the State
Capitol plaza. She had brought her year-old grandson. When the mic was handed to
her, she was holding him. "I said, 'How many of you are grandmothers?' The hands!
That was the moment I realized that the majority of the people at the political
events now are women. I saw this in town halls in '09—it was women showing up at my
listening events, it was women talking about health care."

Why would more women be focusing more intently on politics this year than before?

Ms. Blackburn hypothesizes: "Women are always focusing on a generation or two down
the road. Women make the education and health-care decisions for their families, for
their kids, their spouse, their parents. And so they have become more politically
involved. They are worried about will people have enough money, how are they going
to pay the bills, the tuition, get the kids through school and college."

More Peggy Noonan

Read Peggy Noonan's previous columns

click here to order her new book, Patriotic Grace

Ms. Blackburn suggested, further in the conversation, that government's reach into
the personal lives of families, including new health-care rules and the prospect of
higher taxes, plus the rise in public information on how Washington works and what
it does, had prompted mothers to rebel.

The media called 1994 "the year of the angry white male." That was the year of the
Republican wave that yielded a GOP House for the first time in 40 years. "I look at
this year as the Rage of the Bill-Paying Moms," Ms. Blackburn says. "They are saying
'How dare you, in your arrogance, cap the opportunities my child will have? You'll
burden them with so much debt they won't be able to buy a house—all because you
can't balance the budget.'"

How does 2010 compare with 1994 in terms of historical significance? Ms. Blackburn
says there's an unnoted story there, too. Whereas 1994 was historic as a party
victory, a shift in political power, this year feels more organic, more
from-the-ground, and potentially deeper. She believes 2010 will mark "a
philosophical shift," the beginning of a change in national thinking regarding the
role of the individual and the government.

This "will be remembered as the year the American people said no" to the status quo.
The people "do not trust" those who make the decisions far away. They want to
restore balance.

What is the mainstream media getting wrong about this election, and what is it
getting right? The media, Ms. Blackburn says, do not fully appreciate "how livid
people are with Washington." They see the anger but don't understand its
implications. "They're getting right that people want change, but they're wrong
about what that change is going to be." The media, she said, "are going to be amazed
when Carly Fiorina and Sharron Angle win."

The mainstream media famously like the horse race—red is up, blue is down; Smith is
in, Jones is out. But if Ms. Blackburn is right, the election, and its meaning, will
be more interesting than the old, classic jockeying. And the outcomes won't be
controlled by the good ol' boys but by those she calls "the great new gals."
27739  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Contemptible! on: September 24, 2010, 08:33:18 PM
Pasting BBG's post in the Immigration thread here as well.

Utterly contemptible!   angry angry angry

An U.N.-Conscionable Act
Published on September 22, 2010 by Edwin Feulner, Ph.D.

Thanks to a certain immigration law, the Obama administration isn’t very happy with Arizona these days. But did you know the White House has gone so far as to put Arizona “on report”? And to the United Nations, no less.
That’s right. Apparently the federal government can’t handle this dispute alone. It needs to elevate it to the world stage, encouraging international criticism of the offending state. So Arizona’s alleged transgression comes up in a report the administration submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council:
“A recent Arizona law, S.B. 1070, has generated significant attention and debate at home and around the world. The issue is being addressed in a court action that argues that the federal government has the authority to set and enforce immigration law. That action is ongoing; parts of the law are currently enjoined.
“President Obama remains firmly committed to fixing our broken immigration system, because he recognizes that our ability to innovate, our ties to the world, and our economic prosperity depend on our capacity to welcome and assimilate immigrants. The Administration will continue its efforts to work with the U.S. Congress and affected communities toward this end.”
No wonder Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, called this “downright offensive.” If the administration felt compelled to mention an unsettled legal dispute in a report to an international body, it should have at least adopted a more neutral tone. Instead, it sounds like the administration is saying, “Don’t worry, world; we’re doing all we can to show this slow, backward child of ours the error of its ways.”
Here’s a larger question, one worth considering as the United Nations gathers for its annual General Assembly meeting: Should the United States even have joined the Human Rights Council, whose membership roll includes such blatant human-rights tramplers as China and Cuba?
The HRC was created in 2006 as a replacement for the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. For years, the commission had failed to hold governments accountable for violating basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Unfortunately, the HRC’s track record has been no better. In theory, it “offers an unprecedented opportunity to hold the human rights practices of every country open for public examination and criticism,” as Heritage Foundation experts Brett Schaefer and Steven Groves have noted. But in practice, the HRC “has proven to be a flawed process hijacked by countries seeking to shield themselves from criticism.”
Consider Cuba’s report to the HRC. It turns out its “democratic system is based on the principle of ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people’.” And guess what? Its citizens enjoy the right to “freedom of opinion, expression and the press.” I’m sure that will surprise the thousands of Cubans who have risked life and limb to escape the island nation, and the thousands more who remain locked in Castro’s jails for political “crimes.”
China made similarly laughable assertions in its report to the HRC. It even claimed its citizens enjoy a right to religious freedom. North Korea, too, is a downright utopia, judging from its report to the U.N.
It’s bad enough these countries lie. But it’s not unexpected. What’s worse is that the U.N. accepts these demonstrably false claims at face value. The majority of member states approve these reports.
To avoid becoming a party to this charade, the Bush administration wisely declined membership in the HRC. The Obama administration reversed that policy. So we have a situation where the U.S., just by being a member, lends legitimacy to a U.N. farce on human rights. And now the administration is compounding the error by offering up a state for criticism by a body that includes some of the world’s most egregious human-rights offenders.
Talk about “downright offensive.”
Dr. Edwin Feulner is president of The Heritage Foundation.
27740  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Investigation sought for apparent violatiom of tax status secrecy on: September 24, 2010, 08:27:10 PM
Moving a post by BBG to here:

Senators Seek Investigation of Obama Administration for Discussing Koch Tax Status

BY John McCormack

September 24, 2010 5:38 PM

Senator Chuck Grassley, ranking Republican of the Finance Committee, has requested a formal investigation of the Obama administration over a senior administration official's comments on the tax status of Koch Industries--a private company targeted by Democrats, including President Obama himself, for funding libertarian and conservative causes.

Grassley and six other Republican senators on the Finance Committee sent a letter today to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, in which they asked the inspector general to investigate "a very serious allegation that Administration employees may have improperly accessed and disclosed confidential taxpayer information. As you know, section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code protects the privacy of federal tax returns and return information.  This law was enacted as a result of the use of tax information for political gain during the Watergate scandal."

At an August 27 press briefing, a senior administration official, who appears to be Austan Goolsbee, said:

in this country we have partnerships, we have S corps, we have LLCs, we have a series of entities that do not pay corporate income tax. Some of which are really giant firms, you know Koch Industries is a multibillion dollar businesses. So that creates a narrower base because we've literally got something like 50 percent of the business income in the U.S. is going to businesses that don't pay any corporate income tax.

"[T]he statement that Koch is a pass-through entity implies direct knowledge of Koch’s legal and tax status, which would appear to be a violation of section 6103," the senators wrote in their letter today. "Alternatively, if the statement was based on speculation, it raises the question of whether the Administration speculating about any specific taxpayer’s liability is appropriate."

Grassley and his colleagues don't necessarily buy the Obama administration's claim that the information about Koch came from publicly available sources.

The senators write that the senior administration official "comments on the legal structure of Koch Industries, Inc. (Koch) and its impact on the group’s tax liability. While Koch’s website indicates some of the Koch companies are limited liability companies (LLC) or limited partnerships, there is no indication that Koch itself is a Subchapter S Corporation, which is one type of flow through entity, or a Subchapter C corporation.  In addition, an LLC can choose to be taxed as Subchapter C corporation."

The senators conclude their letter with these requests to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration:

we ask that you obtain and review a transcript of the August 27, 2010, press briefing to determine the basis for the Administrations employees’ statements and review the PERAB’s work in preparing its report on corporate tax reform.  In particular, we ask you to address the following questions.

1)      Did Administration employees, including PERAB employees, have access to tax returns and return information in compiling the PERAB report?

2)      If yes, how many companies’ tax returns did the PERAB employees review and did they follow the procedures prescribed under the regulations governing section 6103 for accessing and protecting taxpayer information?

3)      Did Administration employees, including PERAB employees, violate section 6103 when they discussed the tax status of Koch Industries, Inc. and its related companies?

4)      If violations of 6103 did not occur, what was the basis for the statement regarding Koch’s legal and tax status and was the statement appropriate?

Source URL:
27741  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: September 24, 2010, 08:21:54 PM
Grateful for three wonderful days working with folks who make a difference.
27742  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Krgyzstan on: September 24, 2010, 04:05:08 PM
An agreement likely to be signed Sept. 24 by Russian and Kyrgyz military delegations comes amid continued unrest in Kyrgyzstan and fresh tensions in its southern neighbor, Tajikistan. Moscow has planned for years to increase its military presence in the Central Asian core, but these recent events have accelerated that plan. However, the region comes with its own share of geographic and demographic challenges, and it is unclear how involved Russia wants to become in its attempts to enforce stability there.

A Russian military delegation led by Col. Gen. Valery Gerasimov, deputy commander of the Armed Forces General Staff, has been in Kyrgyzstan since Sept. 19, holding talks with its Kyrgyz defense counterparts. The delegation is set to sign an agreement Sept. 24 to create a unified Russian base structure in Kyrgyzstan. This will consolidate Russia’s four military facilities in the country — an air base in Kant, a naval training and research center at Lake Issyk-Kul, and seismic facilities in the Issyk-Kul and Jalal-Abad regions — under a single, joint command.

It remains unclear what this unified Russian base structure in Kyrgyzstan will actually entail; officials from both countries have been vague on its format and purpose. But what is clear is that Russia, which has been undergoing a reorganization of its military command structure this year, is laying the groundwork for a more pronounced and efficient military presence in a region that faces its fair share of geographic and security challenges.

Kyrgyzstan has seen much turmoil over the past several months, most notably a Russian-backed uprising in April that ousted former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Bakiyev had been using the U.S. Transit Center at Manas, a key logistical hub in Kyrgyzstan for U.S. operations in Afghanistan, as leverage to get more money out of both Russia and the United States. This was a key factor that led to the Kyrgyz president’s ouster and the ushering in of a more Russia-friendly interim government led by Roza Otunbayeva. Pacifying the country after the coup has been a challenge for the interim leadership. Violence broke out again in June in the southern regions of Osh and Jalal-Abad, prompting Bishkek to request that Russia increase its military presence in the country.

Russia has thus far not made any major military moves in the country beyond temporarily reinforcing its Kant air base with a company of 150 paratroopers, which have since been withdrawn. But according to STRATFOR sources, Moscow is considering a major infusion of up to 25,000 troops into Central Asia in the next few months and through 2011. These troops previously served in the North Caucasus but have since been withdrawn and are waiting to redeploy elsewhere.

This comes amid heightened security concerns in neighboring Tajikistan after the escape of 25 high-profile Islamist militants from a Dushanbe prison. The escapees sought refuge in the mountainous Rasht Valley, which has become the scene of continuing clashes between security forces and militants. This violence has caused much worry in Kyrgyzstan, which borders the Rasht area, prompting Bishkek to close the border between the two countries.

Tensions in Tajikistan and continuing uncertainty in Kyrgyzstan have lent new urgency to Moscow’s long-term plan to consolidate its presence in these former Soviet states by boosting its military footprint in the region. But 25,000 troops, especially Russian troops intended to establish a sustained presence, are not deployed quickly or easily. Significant logistical and infrastructural preparations are required.

Hence the discussions this week between the Russian and Kyrgyz military delegations. The agreement likely will see Russia increase the length of its leases on bases in the country to 49 years. There are also unconfirmed rumors that it could open a new facility in Osh. In exchange, Russia would pay more to lease these facilities, likely at least partially in the form of military hardware and small arms (Russia currently pays Kyrgyzstan $4.5 million annually for its military facilities, compared to the $60 million per year the United States pays for the U.S. Transit Center at Manas). There are also discussions of Russian state-owned energy firm Gazpromneft’s participating in a joint venture with a Kyrgyz state company to supply jet fuel to aircraft at Manas, providing Russia with yet more potential leverage over the U.S. presence in Central Asia.

It is notable that Russia is making such agreements with Kyrgyzstan — and Tajikistan — just as security tensions in the countries are on the rise. However, the protocols to be signed on Sept. 24 will be just that, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said there would not be any conclusive deals until Kyrgyzstan holds its parliamentary elections in October and ushers in a permanent government rather than the interim government that currently leads the country.

Ultimately, while Russia is clearly looking to move a big contingent of troops to the region, it remains unclear just how deeply entangled in the region Russia wants to become. Moscow has a strong national interest in ensuring that it dominates Central Asia and keeps out other powers, particularly the United States. But that need not necessarily entail major military engagement. Stationing troops there is an important step. Having those troops become directly and actively involved in the militant landscape — facilitated by complex demography, Islamist ideology and rugged geography — is another step entirely. Russia has exceptionally long borders and interests far beyond Central Asia. While it looks poised to commit multiple divisions to the region, the Kremlin will remain wary of becoming bogged down in intractable, insurgent conflict.

Read more: Russia Prepares for Military Consolidation in Kyrgyzstan | STRATFOR
27743  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: September 24, 2010, 03:54:28 PM
PAAS is my silver play and has been doing very well for me.  I first bought somewhere in the 8s, and recently added at 22.
27744  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Krauthammer: Visigoths at the Gate on: September 24, 2010, 03:27:38 PM
Visigoths at the gate?
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, September 24, 2010

When facing a tsunami, what do you do? Pray, and tell yourself stories. I am not privy to the Democrats' private prayers, but I do hear the stories they're telling themselves. The new meme is that there's a civil war raging in the Republican Party. The Tea Party will wreck it from within and prove to be the Democrats' salvation.

I don't blame anyone for seeking a deus ex machina when about to be swept out to sea. But this salvation du jour is flimsier than most.

In fact, the big political story of the year is the contrary: that a spontaneous and quite anarchic movement with no recognized leadership or discernible organization has been merged with such relative ease into the Republican Party.

The Tea Party could have become Perot '92, an anti-government movement that spurned the Republicans, went third-party and cost George H.W. Bush reelection, ending 12 years of Republican rule. Had the Tea Party gone that route, it would have drained the Republican Party of its most mobilized supporters and deprived Republicans of the sweeping victory that awaits them on Nov. 2.

Instead, it planted its flag within the party and, with its remarkable energy, created the enthusiasm gap. Such gaps are measurable. This one is a chasm. This year's turnout for the Democratic primaries (as a percentage of eligible voters) was the lowest ever recorded. Republican turnout was the highest since 1970.

True, Christine O'Donnell's nomination in Delaware may cost the Republicans an otherwise safe seat (and possibly control of the Senate), and Sharron Angle in Nevada is running only neck-and-neck with an unpopular Harry Reid. On balance, however, the Tea Party contribution is a large net plus, with its support for such strong candidates as Marco Rubio of Florida, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Joe Miller of Alaska, Mike Lee of Utah. Even Rand Paul, he of the shaky start in Kentucky, sports an eight-point lead. All this in addition to the significant Tea Party contribution to the tide that will carry dozens of Republicans into the House.

Nonetheless, some Democrats have convinced themselves that they have found the issue with which to salvage 2010. "President Obama's political advisers," reports the New York Times, "are considering a range of ideas, including national advertisements, to cast the Republican Party as all but taken over by Tea Party extremists."

Sweet irony. Fear-over-hope rides again, this time with Democrats in the saddle warning darkly about "the Republican Tea Party" (Joe Biden). Message: Vote Democratic and save the nation from a Visigoth mob with a barely concealed tinge of racism.

First, this is so at variance with reality that it's hard to believe even liberals believe it. The largest Tea Party event yet was the recent Glenn Beck rally on the Mall. The hordes descending turned out to be several hundred thousand cheerful folks in what, by all accounts, had the feel of a church picnic. And they left the place nearly spotless -- the first revolution in recorded history that collected its own trash.

Second, the general public is fairly evenly split in its views of the Tea Party. It experiences none of the horror that liberals do -- and think others should. Moreover, the electorate supports by 2-to-1 the Tea Party signature issues of smaller government and lower taxes.

Third, you would hardly vote against the Republican in your state just because there might be a (perceived) too-conservative Republican running somewhere else. How would, say, Paul running in Kentucky deter someone from voting for Mark Kirk in Illinois? Or, to flip the parties, will anyone in Nevada refuse to vote for Harry Reid because Chris Coons, a once self-described "bearded Marxist," is running as a Democrat in Delaware?

Fourth, what sane Democrat wants to nationalize an election at a time of 9.6 percent unemployment and such disappointment with Obama that just this week several of his own dreamy 2008 supporters turned on him at a cozy town hall? The Democrats' only hope is to run local campaigns on local issues. That's how John Murtha's former district director hung on to his boss's seat in a special election in Pennsylvania.

Newt Gingrich had to work hard -- getting Republican candidates to sign the Contract with America -- to nationalize the election that swept Republicans to victory in 1994. A Democratic anti-Tea Party campaign would do that for the Republicans -- nationalize the election, gratis -- in 2010. As a very recent former president -- now preferred (Public Policy Polling, Sept. 1) in bellwether Ohio over the current one by 50 percent to 42 percent -- once said: Bring 'em on.

27745  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT/POTH on Stuxnet on: September 24, 2010, 03:25:36 PM
September 23, 2010
Cyberwar Chief Calls for Secure Computer NetworkBy THOM

FORT MEADE, Md. — The new commander of the military’s cyberwarfare
operations is advocating the creation of a separate, secure computer network
to protect civilian government agencies and critical industries like the
nation’s power grid against attacks mounted over the Internet.

The officer, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, suggested that such a heavily
restricted network would allow the government to impose greater protections
for the nation’s vital, official on-line operations. General Alexander
labeled the new network “a secure zone, a protected zone.” Others have
nicknamed it “dot-secure.”

It would provide to essential networks like those that tie together the
banking, aviation, and public utility systems the kind of protection that
the military has built around secret military and diplomatic communications
networks — although even these are not completely invulnerable.

For years, experts have warned of the risks of Internet attacks on civilian
networks. An article published a few months
the National Academy of Engineering said that “cyber systems are the
‘weakest link’ in the electricity system,” and that “security must be
designed into the system from the start, not glued on as an afterthought.”

General Alexander, an Army officer who leads the military’s new Cyber
Command, did not explain just where the fence should be built between the
conventional Internet and his proposed secure zone, or how the gates would
be opened to allow appropriate access to information they need every day.
General Alexander said the White House hopes to complete a policy review on
cyber issues in time for Congress to debate updated or new legislation when
it convenes in January.

General Alexander’s new command is responsible for defending Defense
Department computer networks and, if directed by the president, carrying out
computer-network attacks overseas.

But the military is broadly prohibited from engaging in law enforcement
operations on American soil without a presidential order, so the command’s
potential role in assisting the Department of Homeland
the Federal Bureau of
the Department of Energy in the event of a major attack inside the United
States has not been set down in law or policy.

“There is a real probability that in the future, this country will get hit
with a destructive attack, and we need to be ready for it,” General
Alexander said in a roundtable with reporters at the National
here at Fort Meade in advance of his Congressional testimony on Thursday

“I believe this is one of the most critical problems our country faces,” he
said. “We need to get that right. I think we have to have a discussion about
roles and responsibilities: What’s the role of Cyber Command? What’s the
role of the ‘intel’ community? What’s the role of the rest of the Defense
Department? What’s the role of D.H.S.? And how do you make that team work?
That’s going to take time.”

Some critics have questioned whether the Defense Department can step up
protection of vital computer networks without crashing against the public’s
ability to live and work with confidence on the Internet. General Alexander
said, “We can protect civil liberties and privacy and still do our mission.
We’ve got to do that.”

Speaking of the civilian networks that are at risk, he said: “If one of
those destructive attacks comes right now, I’m focused on the Defense
Department. What are the responsibilities — and I think this is part of the
discussion — for the power grid, for financial networks, for other critical
infrastructure? How do you protect the country when it comes to that kind of
attack, and who is responsible for it?”

As General Alexander prepared for his testimony before the House Armed
Services Committee, the ranking Republican on the panel, Howard P. McKeon of
California, noted the Pentagon’s progress in expanding its cyber

But he said that “many questions remain as to how Cyber Command will meet
such a broad mandate” given the clear “vulnerabilities in cyberspace.”

The committee chairman, Rep. Ike Skelton, Democrat of Missouri, said that
“cyberspace is an environment where distinctions and divisions between
public and private, government and commercial, military and nonmilitary are
blurred.” He said that it is important “that we engage in this discussion in
a very direct way and include the public.”

27746  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More on Rare Earth Minerals on: September 24, 2010, 02:58:31 PM

China increasing economic leverage by limiting 'rare earths' exports

, , ,that it will hold a Chinese fishing boat captain for another

By John Pomfret
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 23, 2010; 10:36 PM

China's recent move to limit exports of minerals critical in the manufacture of a vast array of products such as missiles, car batteries, cellphones, lasers and computers is stoking alarm that its domination of the industry could give it enhanced leverage over the United States.

On Thursday, some traders of "rare earths," 17 minerals that are used in small portions in almost every advanced industrial product, reported that China, which controls 97 percent of the industry, had halted the export of anything that contained traces of the minerals to Japan. The Chinese government denied the allegation.

The purported export ban was linked to a dispute between the two countries over an island chain called the Senakus in Japanese and Diaoyu islands in Chinese. Japan has detained the captain of a Chinese fishing vessel over a collision at sea with a Japanese coast guard ship. On Thursday, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao demanded that Japan release the boat captain immediately. China also announced that it had arrested four Japanese near a Chinese military installation.

Analysts and manufacturers said regardless of whether China has indeed blocked these exports to Japan, the incident underscored China's increasing economic leverage and its seeming willingness to try to translate that into political power.

This summer, China's Commerce Ministry said that total exports of rare earths would be capped at about 30,300 metric tons - a 40 percent drop compared with last year. Most of that tonnage has already been shipped.

"The most important issue here is that China is able to wield power like this," said Ed Richardson, the vice president of Thomas & Skinner, a magnet maker in Indianapolis. "Just the reports that they might have done something like this has sent a chill through the industry. Here you have an incident over a fishing boat and this topic comes up. It's startling."

Only in the past year has the issue begun to receive significant attention in Washington. In April, the Government Accountability Office reported that it could take as long as 15 years to rebuild the U.S. rare earth industry. The GAO report also found components in U.S. defense systems that use Chinese sources for rare earth materials. And it determined that the Defense Department had "not yet identified national security risks or taken departmentwide action to address rare earth material dependency." The Defense Department, however, is studying this issue, and a report is slated to be delivered this month.

On Thursday, the House Committee on Science and Technology approved legislation that would provide funds for research and development of rare earths technologies as a first legislative step to break China's monopoly.

"Rare earth materials are essential for our country's technological competitiveness and our national security, yet China is cornering the market and we are falling behind," said Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Pa.), who wrote the legislation.

For years, China has worked to dominate the rare earths industry. Starting in the late 1980s and early 1990s, China flooded the world with cheap rare earths. It sold neodymium and samarium, which form the basis of extraordinarily powerful magnets needed for precision-guided missile systems and the batteries used in hybrid or electric vehicles. It mined europium, which forms the basis of the high-efficiency lighting industry; lanthanum, without which it would be difficult to refine gas; and cerium, which is used to polish the glass on computer screens and cellphones.

China's prices were so low that it led the once-biggest mine in the world - Mountain Pass in California - to shut its operations in 2002 after allegations of environmental violations at the facility.

"In the Western world, people were happy to give the Chinese this job," said Jaakko Kooroshy, an analyst at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. "Mining rare earths is a dirty business. It is environmentally really dangerous. There's radioactivity involved."

From mining, China moved up to refining and advanced metallurgy. They drove rare earths refiners out of the market. They obtained patents for downstream work. They bought magnet makers around the world. They offered to massively overpay for three Japanese firms that dominate the production of magnets for computer hard drives. They made a run at Richardson's firm as well.

"We're an employee-owned operation," Richardson said, "so if they'd bought us up and shipped us to China . . . well, let's just say it wouldn't have sat well with the employees here."

Today, China dominates not just the mining but also the refining of rare earths, and the profits are enormous. Prices of several minerals have jumped 200 percent in the months since China announced it was limiting exports.

Western countries and firms have been slow to respond to the challenge that China posed to key industries from defense to energy to information technology, said Jon Hykawy, an analyst at Byron Capital.

In the 1990s, as China sold cheap rare earths around the world, the United States, which used to stockpile rare earths for its defense industry, sold off its stocks and watched as its industry dismantled what was once a complete supply chain. Europe never maintained a strategic stash. Only Japan understood the challenge and several years ago began setting aside significant quantities of the minerals.

"We never really acknowledged that the Chinese were in a race to dominate this industry even though they publicly stated it," Hykawy said.

China is already being sued at the World Trade Organization by the United States, the European Union and Mexico for export restrictions on raw materials, including some rare earth minerals. The U.S. trade representative is also considering filing a separate case purely on rare earths, U.S. officials said. And in industry, Molycorp Metals is working to reopen the California mine.

In June, the European Union issued its own report on rare earths that predicted that the minerals would become increasingly rare. While the United States has focused on China's increasing leverage over its national defense, the EU report reflected worries that China would control the core of green technology in the future.

"This is the first time that the Chinese openly used rare earths as a geopolitical bargaining chip," said Kooroshy in a telephone interview from The Hague. "They have built up a monopoly until now, but they have been very civil about it. They say things like, 'You don't need to be afraid. We're a reliable supplier.' But now the message is clear. It's: 'Look, guys, we're your most important economic partner, and we want you to change the way you deal with us.'"
27747  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fallout from Draw Muhommad Day on: September 24, 2010, 02:47:25 PM
A Tale of Two Journalists

Molly Norris used to have a life and a career in Washington, as a cartoonist for
Seattle Weekly, an alternative paper. But not any longer. She has now -- at the
urging of the FBI -- gone underground, forfeiting her identity and her job. Is
Norris a criminal? No. She just had the poor judgment to draw a cartoon entitled
"Everybody Draw Muhammad Day," which led to the issuance of a fatwa -- or Islamic
death sentence -- against her. Perhaps she had forgotten the 11th Commandment: Make
fun of Christians and Jews all you want, but thou shall not inflame Muslim ire.

The fatwa was issued by imam Anwar al-Awlaki, a man The New York Times described in
October 2001 as "a new generation of Muslim leader capable of merging East and
West." Al-Awlaki, who was born in the United States and headed a mosque in Virginia,
is now conducting his dirty work from a hiding place in Yemen.

Barack Obama has remained silent on this matter, conspicuously so because only
recently he lectured all of us on the freedoms afforded by this country. Of course
that was in relation to the building of the Cordoba House mosque two blocks from
Ground Zero ( ). When it comes to
the injustice that has befallen an average American like Molly Norris, he has
nothing to say.

While some in the field of journalism are threatened with death for making a joke,
others are rewarded for their hatred. Recall Helen Thomas, the poster child for
women in journalism, who was canned after making incendiary comments at a conference
celebrating Jewish heritage. Thomas' statement that Jews should "get the hell out of
Palestine" ( ) and "go home" to
Poland, Germany, America and "everywhere else" was caught on tape so that not even
leftists could defend her.

Even after her weak apology, no one would touch her with a 10-foot pole. No one,
that is, except the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Next month the
90-year-old Thomas will be given a lifetime-achievement award at CAIR's Leadership
Conference & 16th Annual Fundraising Banquet in Arlington, Virginia. Clearly, her
final flourish as a "journalist" was appreciated by someone.
27748  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO job creation program at work on: September 24, 2010, 02:45:59 PM
Income Redistribution: Cost per Job 'Created' Is Sky High

History shows that there are two foolproof ways to drive up costs: increase demand
or involve the government. For the latest illustration of the latter, just look
west. According to reports recently released by Los Angeles City Controller Wendy
Greuel, for the $111 million in stimulus funds received by two L.A. departments,
only 55 jobs have been created. That's a whopping $2 million spent per job. Greuel
says that eventually the departments will create or save (those infamous words
again) 264 jobs, but even that would still keep the price per job at $420,000, far
higher than what the workers will receive.

Explaining the preposterous price tags, Investor's Business Daily
( ) notes that
part of the money "goes to the capital costs and profit of the contractors. But much
of it also gets absorbed into the normal process of government contracting" (read:
bureaucracy). Even Greuel admits
( ) the numbers are
disappointing, stating, "With our local unemployment rate over 12 percent we need to
do a better job cutting the red tape and putting Angelenos back to work."

Of course, the Obama administration still wants to convince us that the stimulus is
working. It seems that while Americans are stretching dollars to make ends meet,
Washington is stretching our patience with its tales of economic growth, job
creation and recovery.

27749  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: September 23, 2010, 09:57:42 PM
China says 4 Japanese filmed military targets
From Associated Press
September 23, 2010 9:32 PM EDT

BEIJING (AP) — China is investigating four Japanese suspected of illegally filming military targets and entering a military zone without authorization, state media reported amid a tense diplomatic spat between Beijing and Tokyo over a fishing boat collision near disputed islands.

China's state-run Xinhua News Agency cited state security authorities in the northern city of Shijiazhuang as saying they had "taken measures" against the four Japanese "after receiving a report about their illegal activities." There was no elaboration.

The authorities accuse the Japanese of entering a military zone without authorization in Hebei province, the capital of which is Shijiazhuang.

The brief report late Thursday night did not say whether the four Japanese are in detention.

The four men are believed to be employees of Fujita Corp., a Tokyo-based construction and urban redevelopment company.

"We are pretty certain they are our employees," said Fujita spokesman Yoshiaki Onodera. "But we have not spoken with them, so we don't know how they came to be questioned."

Onodera said he could not confirm Japanese media reports saying that the men were preparing a bid on a project to dispose of abandoned chemical weapons from World War II.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry confirmed that it had received word from the Chinese government Thursday night about the incident. It did not have further details, including whether the men had been arrested or merely questioned.

The news could further sour relations that have deteriorated badly since earlier this month when Japan arrested a Chinese captain whose fishing boat collided with Japanese coast guard vessels near a string of islands in the East China Sea. Called Diaoyu or Diaoyutai in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese, the islands are controlled by Japan, but are also claimed by China. They are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and are regularly occupied by nationalists from both sides.

Japan extended the detention of the Chinese captain Sunday, and Beijing reacted quickly, suspending high-level contacts with Tokyo and ruling out a meeting between Premier Wen Jiabao and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan during U.N. meetings in New York this week.

On Tuesday, Wen threatened "further action" against Japan if it did not release the Chinese captain immediately.

Meanwhile, the United States on Thursday urged the two powers to quickly resolve the dispute and a military official said that Washington was committed to strongly supporting Japan, one of America's closest allies in the Pacific.

At a Pentagon news conference, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said the U.S. was tracking the situation closely and hoped that diplomatic efforts would ease tensions soon.

"And obviously we're very, very strongly in support of ... our ally in that region, Japan," Mullen told reporters.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates added "and we would fulfill our alliance responsibilities," without offering more specifics.

But besides hoping that tensions ease between China and Japan, Mullen said "we haven't seen anything that would, I guess, raise the alarm levels higher than that."

The dispute faces a test on Sept. 29, the deadline by which Japanese prosecutors must decide whether to charge the Chinese captain. Fourteen crew members and the boat have been returned.
27750  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Zuchinni vs. bear on: September 23, 2010, 09:42:34 PM
Montana woman fends off bear attack with zucchini
This image provided by the Missoula County Sheriff's Office shows the zucchini used by a Montana woman to fend off a bear attack Thursday Sept. 23, 2010 in Frenchtown, Mont. The woman was stirred after midnight by a tussle in the backyard of her home near Frenchtown, Missoula County Sheriff's Lt. Rich Maricelli said. She went to investigate and found a 200-pound black bear attacking one of her two dogs, a 12-year-old collie.
From Associated Press
September 23, 2010 8:06 PM EDT

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana woman fended off a bear trying to muscle its way into her home Thursday by pelting the animal with a large piece of zucchini from her garden.

The woman suffered minor scratches and one of her dogs was wounded after tussling with the 200-pound bear.

The attack happened just after midnight when the woman let her three dogs into the backyard for their nighttime ritual before she headed to bed, Missoula County Sheriff's Lt. Rich Maricelli said. Authorities believe the black bear was just 25 yards away, eating apples from a tree.

Two of the dogs sensed the bear, began barking and ran away, Maricelli said. The third dog, a 12-year-old collie that wasn't very mobile, remained close to the woman as she stood in the doorway of the home near Frenchtown in western Montana.

Before she knew what was happening, the bear was on top of the dog and batting the collie back and forth, Maricelli said.

"She kicked the bear with her left leg as hard as she could, and she said she felt like she caught it pretty solidly under the chin," Maricelli said.

But as she kicked, the bruin swiped at her leg with its paw and ripped her jeans.

The bear then turned its full attention to the woman in the doorway. She retreated into the house and tried to close the door, but the bear stuck its head and part of a shoulder through the doorway.

The woman held onto the door with her right hand. With her left, she reached behind and grabbed a 14-inch zucchini that she had picked from her garden earlier and was sitting on the kitchen counter, Maricelli said.

She threw the vegetable. It bopped the bruin on the top of its head and the animal fled, Maricelli said.

The woman called for help from a relative staying with her. They found the collie outside, unable to move, and took it to a veterinarian.

The dog appeared to be fine on Thursday, but the vet was keeping it for observation, Maricelli said.

The woman did not need medical attention for the scratches on her leg, though she got a tetanus shot as a precaution, Maricelli said.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials set up a trap in an attempt to capture the bear, the agency said in a statement.

Besides the nearby fruit trees, there wasn't anything on the woman's property that would attract a bear into the backyard, like garbage or livestock feed, wildlife officials said.

Maricelli interviewed the woman, but said the sheriff's office was complying with her wish not to identify her.

"She was very, very shaken, and it kind of took the humor portion out of it for me," Maricelli said. "She said it had this horrific growl and was snarling.

"(But) she can see the humor in it, and she wanted the story put out so the local residents can take precautionary measures," he added.
Pages: 1 ... 553 554 [555] 556 557 ... 835
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!