DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Pre-emption and Sucker Punches
on: May 17, 2008, 11:06:22 AM
The way each of us uses verbalizations will be and should be different. With regards to where Thompson says "whereas shorter sentences, certainly single syllables, send the message that the conversation is coming to an end." (and that fight is about the start)"
that often I use very brief answers to make clear that there is not to be any further dialog. For example to an ominous request for money, typically I simply answer "No." I NEVER say "Sorry" which is something I see many people do. The abruptness of the answer is intended to make clear, as Thompson notes, that I will not be intimidated and that any further harassment will not be tolerated.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena
on: May 17, 2008, 01:00:40 AM
May 10, 2008
Jews can't vote for Obama and be pro-Israel at the same time
By Ted Belman
ted-4.jpgIn the poll of Jewish voters (conducted April 1-30), it showed
Obama getting 61% of the Jewish vote against John McCain (32%). Yet in the
same poll Hillary Clinton beat Obama among Jewish voters 62% - 38%. So
obviously Jews are lifelong democrats who will vote for Obama, whom they
rejected in the primaries, rather than vote for McCain. Thus, for them,
party loyalty is preferable to Israel loyalty.
Recently I posted two articles by Yarom Ettinger, former Israeli Ambassador
to the US, The Prospects of a Palestinian State and National Interests of
the United States and It's American interests, stupid, both of which clearly
demonstrate that keeping Israel strong is to keep America strong. Thus to be
pro-Israel is to be pro-America.
Now some would argue that most Jewish Americans are not one issue voters but
they must realize that to favour a basket of issues or the Democratic Party
above favouring Israel, makes them less pro-Israel and thus less
pro-American. This I am sure will get howls of protest from the J-Street
Lobby which represents progressive Jewry, who would have you believe that by
forcing Israel to capitulate, they are acting in the best interests of
Israel and the US. I hope you don't buy their thinking. These articles fly
in the face of such thinking. Consider them carefully it is important.
While most Jews favour Obama in a run off with McCain because he is a
Democrat, they ignore how pro-Palestinian and anti-American he is.
Let me list the ways.
- Obama said "Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people,"
- Obama said "If there is an Arab American family [in the US] being
rounded up without benefit of an attorney, those are my civil liberties!"
- Everyone on Obama's foreign policy team, McPeak, Hamilton, Kurtzer,
Brezezinski, are anti- Israel and The Israel Lobby. Their policies are
closely aligned with Carter's and Baker's.
- Obama has been in bed with Jew haters and Islamic jihad for years.
Farrakhan and his dear friend Reverend Wright, Obama's spiritual guru, is a
vile Jew hater.
- Obama is the first Presidential candidate endorsed by Hamas. He is
the toast of the Islamic world. Obama's church posted a Hamas manifesto.
- Obama has been endorsed by William Ayers (Weatherman Underground
bomber, unrepentant domestic terrorist) (Member Communist Party USA, Early
mentor to Obama) Jeremiah Wright (Black Liberation militant, racist, and
Pastor) Tony Rezko (Corrupt Financier, ties to Terror Financing) Louis
Farrakhan (Nation of Islam Leader, racist, anti-American) Hamas Terrorist
Organization (Islamic Terrorist Organization) Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades
(Islamic Terror Irganization) Raila Odinga (Fundamental Islamic Candidate,
Kenya, Obama's Cousin) Daniel Ortega (Marxist Sandinista Leader. Nicaragua
Raul Castro (Hard-line Communist Leader, Communist Party Illinois (US
Communist Political Party) Socialist Party USA (Marxist Socialist Political
Party) The New Black Panther Party (Black Militant Organization,
anti-American and racist Mosques are preaching for Obama (muslims vote
- We know from this blog entry by the pro-Palestinian blogger Ali
Abunimah at The Electronic Intifadah, that Obama has moved to a move
pro-Israel position as his national aspirations developed. "The last time I
spoke to Obama was in the winter of 2004 at a gathering in Chicago's Hyde
Park neighborhood," Abunimah writes. "He was in the midst of a primary
campaign to secure the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate
seat he now occupies. But at that time polls showed him trailing. "As he
came in from the cold and took off his coat, I went up to greet him. He
responded warmly, and volunteered, "Hey, I'm sorry I haven't said more about
Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I'm hoping when
things calm down I can be more up front.' He referred to my activism,
including columns I was contributing to the The Chicago Tribune critical of
Israeli and US policy, 'Keep up the good work!"
- Ralph Nader agrees."(Obama) has run a brilliant tactical campaign.
But his better instincts and his knowledge have been censored by himself..He
was pro-Palestinian when he was in Illinois before he ran for the state
Senate, during he ran-during the state Senate."
- Obama served as a paid director on the board of a nonprofit
organization that granted funding to a controversial Arab group that mourns
the establishment of Israel as a "catastrophe." (Obama has also reportedly
spoken at fundraisers for Palestinians living in what the United Nations
terms refugee camps.). The co-founder of that Arab group, Columbia
University professor Rashid Khalidi, is a harsh critic of Israel who
reportedly worked on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization when it
was labeled a terror group by the State Department. Khalidi held a
fundraiser in 2000 for Obama's failed bid for a seat in the U.S. House of
- Ten years ago Obama went to a pro-Palestinian dinner at which Edward
Said was the guest speaker and they sat at the same table.
- Obama employed and continues to employ several Farrakhan acolytes in
high positions on his Illinois and U.S. Senate campaign and office staffs.
- Obama very recently and previously referred to the "cycle of
violence" in the Middle East. He thereby equates Arab criminal violence with
legitimate Israeli self-defence.
- Obama's Church reprinted the outrageous claim that Israel planned an
"ethnic bomb" to kill blacks and Arabs.
All items listed above cannot be characterized as a smear as they are all
How can Jews ignore all this or dismiss it as inconsequential? I don't get
ADDENDUM ( found this article after writing mine.)
A Curious Kind of Friendship; Barack Obama's dubious record on Israel
MARK HEMINGWAY, NRO
On April 21, Barack Obama found himself at a diner in Scranton, Pa. The
Illinois senator hadn't been available to the press in ten days, so a
reporter approached him.
Perhaps Obama was in a bad mood because he foresaw a drubbing - the next
day, Pennsylvanian primary voters went for Hillary. Or maybe he just didn't
like the reporter's question: "Senator, did you hear about Jimmy Carter's
trip? He said he could get Hamas to negotiate."
Looking down at his breakfast, the senator snapped back, "Why can't I just
eat my waffle?"
The week before, two important things had happened. One, Obama had declined
to condemn Carter's meeting with Hamas, though Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice had opposed the trip. Two, the Palestinian terrorist group
took the unusual step of endorsing him. When asked about the endorsement,
Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod, was flattered that Hamas compared
his candidate to JFK: "We all agree that John Kennedy was a great president,
and it's flattering when anybody says that Barack Obama would follow in his
Republican nominee John McCain quickly took note. "We need change in
America, but not the kind of change that wins kind words from Hamas," he
The day following Wafflegate, Obama told the press it was a "bad idea" for
Carter to meet with Hamas, as it gave the group "a legitimacy that was
It's understandable that Obama would rather do just about anything than talk
about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Questions about Obama's support for
Israel have percolated in Jewish publications and elsewhere for more than a
year, and now they threaten to spill over into the mainstream media. In
March, speaking to reporters in Texas, Obama defended his record: "Nobody
has ever been able to point to statements that I made or positions that I've
taken that are contrary to the long-term security interests in Israel and in
any way diminish the special relationship we have with that country."
Trouble is, this claim is simply not true.
Obama has been battling the perception that he is insufficiently supportive
of Israel since last year, when he told the Des Moines Register, "Nobody is
suffering more than the Palestinian people." An Iowa Democrat and member of
the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), David Adelman, called
Obama's comments "deeply troubling." Obama claimed the remark was taken out
of context, but the Politico noted that talk of Obama's comment was one of
many reasons that a "real, if kind of inchoate, skepticism" dominated
discussions of Obama at AIPAC's annual policy conference in March of last
Whatever the context of that specific remark, many subsequent revelations
have given ample reason for skepticism: Obama has repeatedly claimed to
support Israel, but his record doesn't jibe with his rhetoric. Last year, he
announced he would vote against an amendment in the Senate declaring Iran's
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps - which has long supported Hezbollah
terrorists and otherwise abetted the murder of Israelis - a terrorist group.
The resolution passed 76-22, with the support of Hillary Clinton, Illinois
senator Dick Durbin, and a host of other reliable liberals. Obama missed the
vote while campaigning in New Hampshire, but he attacked Clinton on the
issue, saying the non-binding amendment might exacerbate tensions with Iran.
What's more, his life is marked by ties to anti-Israeli causes. A recent
report in the Los Angeles Times detailed Obama's close relationship with
Rashid Khalidi, a professor of Arab studies at Columbia University. In the
late 1970s Khalidi worked with WAFA, the official news agency of the
Palestinian Liberation Organization; during this period, the PLO and its
engaged in acts of terrorism. In 2005 Khalidi gained national attention when
he argued that, under international law, Palestinians have a right to
violently resist Israeli occupation.
While teaching at the University of Chicago, Khalidi co-founded the Arab
American Action Network (AAAN), an organization with a history of churning
out anti-Israeli propaganda. AAAN's current projects include "The Arab
American Oral History Project." The group's website asks, "Do you have
photos, letters or other memories you could share about Al-Nakba-1948?" "Al
Nakba" translates as "the catastrophe," and 1948 is the year in which Israel
Khalidi held a fundraiser for Obama's failed congressional bid in 2000,
while Obama was a state senator representing the liberal Hyde Park area of
Chicago. In 2003, Obama attended a tribute dinner for Khalidi where,
according to the Los Angeles Times, a speaker likened "Zionist settlers on
the West Bank" to Osama bin Laden.
The largess flowed in both directions. From 1999 to 2002 Obama served on the
board of directors of the Woods Fund, a grant-making foundation with assets
of $68 million whose nominal goal is "to increase opportunities for less
advantaged people and communities in the [Chicago] metropolitan area."
According to tax forms and annual reports, in 2001 and 2002 the Woods Fund
gave AAAN a total of $75,000 in grants. Bill Ayers, a former (and
unrepentant) member of the left-wing terrorist group the Weather
Underground, sat on the board with
The aforementioned Politico article also noted "[anti-Israeli] sentiment .
.. circulating largely on private email lists and in chatter about a posting
on the pro-Palestinian blog Electronic Intifada, which claimed (with little
evidence) that Obama was once on the Palestinian side." For some time
Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah has been saying that, in private
conversations, Obama expressed unequivocal pro-Palestinian views. Abunimah
is an activist in Chicago's Palestinian community, and is on the board of
AAAN, with which he has a long history of involvement. Given Obama's own
involvement with Khalidi and AAAN, Abunimah's claim to have had such
conversations with Obama seems plausible.
There have also been flaps over campaign advisers. Zbigniew Brzezinski,
Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, has recently endorsed and
campaigned with Obama. Brzezinski was singled out recently for defending The
Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, a book arguing that "the United States
has been willing to set aside its own security in order to advance the
interests of another state [Israel]." After a campaign press release
described Robert Malley, an adviser to the Clinton administration on the
Arab-Israeli conflict, as an Obama adviser, the campaign sought to distance
itself from Malley - whom New Republic editor-in-chief Marty Peretz has
called "a rabid hater of Israel."
When it comes to Israel, perhaps the most controversial member of Obama's
campaign is his chief military adviser and national-campaign co-chairman,
Gen. Merrill McPeak. In 1976, McPeak wrote an article for Foreign Affairs
criticizing Israel for not returning to its 1967 borders and handing the
Golan Heights back to Syria. McPeak accused Jewish and evangelical voters of
placing their interest in Israel above U.S. interests in a 2003 interview
Oregonian. When asked what was holding back world peace, McPeak responded,
"New York City. Miami. We have a large vote . . . here in favor of Israel.
And no politician wants to run against it." Obama disavowed McPeak's stance
on Israel, but stands behind the campaign's relationship with the general.
Then there's Obama's pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright: "The Israelis have
illegally occupied Palestinian territories for over 40 years now. . . . [We
need to] wake Americans up concerning the injustice and the racism under
which the Palestinians have lived because of Zionism." Last year, the
bulletin at Wright 's church reprinted an article by a Hamas official.
Given Obama's past and current relationships, the Jewish community is taking
his rhetoric with hefty portions of sodium chloride. One well-known Jewish
Democratic strategist says that with Obama running, McCain could equal or
even surpass the 39 percent of the Jewish vote that Ronald Reagan captured
against Jimmy Carter in 1980. This could be a major factor in swing states
with significant Jewish populations, notably Florida and Pennsylvania.
According to Pennsylvania-primary exit polls, Jews went for Hillary, 62 to
There are two ways of looking at all this. Perhaps Obama is privately
hostile to Israel. Or perhaps he comes from a Hyde Park milieu so leftist
that he saw these relationships as normal political connections. In a sense
it doesn't matter: Regardless of why Obama tolerates terrorist sympathizers,
the fact that he has a history of doing so could destroy his candidacy. On
the national stage, and particularly in the Democratic party, Jews play a
"A normal liberal politician wouldn't get near this - the political instinct
would be, 'I don't want to touch this' - but none of it offended his
sensibilities," the Jewish Democratic strategist said. "He sat there in
rooms where Israel was likened to Osama bin Laden. He didn't walk out."
Posted by Ted Belman @ 12:07 pm |
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor Intel Guidance
on: May 17, 2008, 12:19:39 AM
All guidance from last week remains in place. Supplemental guidance:
1. Russia: Russia’s new president, Dmitri Medvedev, makes his first foreign trips next week: to Kazakhstan and China. Russian policy since the Cold War’s end regarding Central Asia has been myopic at best, arrogantly assuming that China would never dare do anything but blindly obey the Russian whim. The reality is somewhat different, with Beijing aggressively seeding its influence in an effort to dominate the region economically — a domination that would rob Russia of any pretense of security to its south. Medvedev might be a Putin patsy, but he is no fool. Is this the trip where Russia finally starts acting to arrest its fading influence in the region?
2. Colombia and Chavez: Interpol has ruled that the computer hardware Colombia’s military seized during a raid on a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) camp in March is genuine and has not been tampered with. The files gained indicate, among other things, that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is a FARC weapons supplier. This places Chavez in a horribly awkward position and robs him of what support he has been able to gain from most of his Latin American neighbors. He will have to react to this if he is to have any hope of retaining the initiative. What steps will he take?
3. Bolivia: The Bolivian lowland region of Santa Cruz is implementing its autonomy plan. One aspect involves directly defying the central government’s efforts to grab control of Santa Cruz’s financial flows. Should Santa Cruz be allowed to have its way, Bolivian President Evo Morales would lose the bulk of his country’s economic heft. He must act strongly, and he must act soon. Why is he not acting?
4. Pakistan, India and the United States: The United States is fed up with waiting for Pakistan to act against the Taliban and is becoming bolder in taking actions against the militia on Pakistani soil. Such actions enrage the Pakistanis and make Islamabad even more reluctant to act. And there is another player, too: India has moved 5,000 troops to the Line of Control with Pakistan in response to this week’s militant bombing attacks. India is not about to invade — New Delhi has not even canceled upcoming bilateral peace talks — but neither can the Congress government afford to seem weak. Washington is subtly encouraging Indian actions in order to up the pressure on Pakistan — subtly, because a public request for India to do anything would likely result in an oppositional response. Meanwhile, if anything, the Pakistani government is losing control over the country’s Islamist militants. No one is entertaining the idea of an Indian-Pakistani military conflict, but sooner or later something — American patience or the unstable governing coalitions in Pakistan or India — is going to snap.
5. Lebanon: Lebanon is fractured both within and across its many religious groups, its army is a joke and the government is a talk-shop at best. Yet if the Israeli-Syrian peace progress is going to go anywhere, it will have to include a deep bilateral understanding of those countries’ respective roles in Lebanon. Which means that everyone who has an opinion on the idea of an Israeli-Syrian peace deal is pulling strings in Lebanon to push their own agenda. In this mess, the largest uncommitted militant forces are Islamist militants. Most of these reserve groups are Sunni and are tied in one way or another to foreign intelligence services. It is not so important which faction goes with which service; what matters is which faction is actually able to injure Syrian and Israeli interests to the degree that their talks would be damaged. Everything else is just background noise (unless you are Lebanese).
6. Mexico: The Mexican army is moving toward a showdown with the Sinaloa drug cartel in Sinaloa state itself. Neither side is pulling punches, with Sinaloa targeting high ranking officials that could even include the president, and the army positioned to perhaps not only disrupt drug supply routes and financial holdings, but potentially splinter the cartel itself. It’s showdown time.
May 18- 20: Russian Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov will pay an official visit to Moldova with the intent of wrapping up transnational discussions
May 19- 20: Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimukhammedov, along with an energy delegation, will visit Azerbaijani President İlham Aliyev to most likely discuss energy issues
May 21: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will visit Ukraine to discuss bilateral ties and prospects for cooperation and is expected to meet Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko and parliament speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk
May 22- 24: Russian President Dmitri Medvedev will begin his first international trip by paying visits for talks with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Chinese President Hu Jintao
May 22: The Dalai Lama will addresses the United Kingdom’s House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee and give several talks in London
MIDDLE EAST/SOUTH ASIA
May 17: Kuwait holds the first parliamentary elections since Kuwait’s emir Sheikh Ahmad al-Sabah dissolved parliament in March. There is an anticipated gain in parliamentary seats for Shia and Sunni Islamist groups.
May 18: The World Economic Forum begins in Sharm el-Sheikh. Among the planned 1,500 guests from 55 countries, 12 heads of state will attend. Among those attending are U.S. President George W. Bush, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and leaders from Jordan and the Palestinian National Authority. Bush is set to meet with leaders from all three Arab countries.
May 20: The trial of eight Iraqi defendants resumes over the execution of 42 Baghdad merchants accused of profiteering. Former President Saddam Hussein’s cousin, Ali Hasan al-Majid, and former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz are among the accused.
May 21-23: The Palestinian National Authority hosts an investment conference in an effort to stimulate the local economy.
May 21: India’s Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee visits Pakistan to hold talks on bilateral ties.
May 24: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi visits Afghanistan to hold talks over bilateral ties.
This week (date unpublished): Chief nuclear negotiators from South Korea, the United States and Japan will gather to discuss the North Korean nuclear issue in the run up to the resumption of the formal six-way talks in Beijing
May 17: Construction ministers from South Korea, Japan and China will hold a meeting later this week to discuss measures for boosting cooperation in the logistical sector in Okayama, Japan
May 19: Thai parliament in session until this date; before May 19, the ruling People’s Power Party can still rewrite the constitution to avoid being disbanded by the courts for electoral fraud
May 20: BEA to launch yuan-based debit card on mainland
May 23: Date after which Indonesia is planning to raise the price of subsidized fuel by an average of 30 percent
May 19: Brazilian government auctions off right to build and operate the large Jirau hydroelectric dam on the Rio Madeira.
May 19: Around 1,000 Indians from around Brazil kick off a week-long protest against a huge dam planned for the Xingu River.
May 23: South American presidents meet in Brasilia to form Union of South American Nations (Unasur).
May 17 (ongoing): Djibouti government hosts the Somalia peace conference including Somalian government officials and representatives from the Supreme Islamist Courts Council
May 24: State governor elections will be held in Nigeria’s Bayelsa state, one of the country’s leading oil producing states in the Niger Delta region. Timipre Sylva, the candidate from the ruling People’s Democratic Party, is expected to win.
May 17-18: Opposition groups plan a “national assembly” in Moscow, which will likely lead to scuffles and police crackdowns
May 21: UEFA Champions League final between English soccer teams Chelsea and Manchester United in Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium; the United Kingdom and Russia have had strained relations recently and soccer matches are always a good outlet for general frustration with hooligan fans acting out in violence in the past. Security should be tight.
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Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hijacker working at airport
on: May 16, 2008, 03:52:05 PM
The Brits are our very good friends, so I include this here:
Afghan plane hijacker is now working as a cleaner at Heathrow
By DANIEL BATES
One of the nine Afghans who won the right to live in Britain after hijacking a plane is now working at Heathrow airport as a cleaner, it emerged last night.
Nazamuddin Mohammidy was one of a group who took over an internal Afghan flight in 2000 and landed it in the UK, where they threatened to kill those on board unless they were granted asylum. Now it has emerged Mohammidy, 34, was recently arrested while driving a car around the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport. Police suspected he was an unlicensed cab driver but were stunned when checks revealed he was one of the hijackers. He even had a British Airways pass on him. Mohammidy was among the gang, who claimed they were fleeing the Taliban, which took over an Ariana Airlines jet on an internal flight in Afghanistan in February 2000 armed with firearms and hand grenades.
The Boeing 727, with 160 passengers on board, was diverted to Stansted Airport in Essex. There, the hijackers kept police and SAS marksmen at bay for four days before giving themselves up. All were jailed, but later had their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal. They have since been living in West London rent-free and on state benefits at an annual cost of £150,000 to the taxpayer.
Mohammidy has been living in Hounslow, Middx, with his family and has spent months employed by a firm that has a contract to clean a BA training centre at Heathrow. Sources last night insisted the BA pass didn't give him airside access, but did allow him into secure areas.
When police pulled him in Mohammidy, wasn't arrested for terror offences but for breaching his bail conditions over an assault charge. He is accused of beating up his former landlord. Yesterday Mohammidy appeared in court over the bail breach, but magistrates in Uxbridge bailed him again - meaning he is back on the streets. A Scotland Yard spokesman last night confirmed that Mohammidy had appeared in court over the bail breach, which took place in December. He will reappear before magistrates in Ealing on May 19.
The spokesman added: "In December 2007 Officers stopped and searched a man under section 44 of the Terrorism Act at Terminal 5. Inquiries revealed he was in breach of bail."
Mohammidy, and brothers Ali and Mohammed Safi, were jailed along with Abdul Shohab, Taimur Shah, Abdul Ghayur, Mohammed Kazin, Mohammed Showaib and Reshad Ahmadi in 2001 over the hijack.
But in 2003 the Court of Appeal ruled their convictions for hijacking, false imprisonment and possessing guns and explosives were unsafe.
The men were released and settled in private properties in Hounslow, where they, their wives and children enjoyed a standard of living far removed from the life they left behind in Afghanistan.
Their houses had large gardens, computers, video recorders and hi-fi systems. The Afghans were also been given lessons in English and computer skills at a nearby college.
In 2006 Mr Justice Sullivan caused widespread outrage after ordering the Home Office to grant the gang 'discretionary leave' to remain in Britain as Afghanistan was 'unsafe' to return to.
The judge also ruled there had been an 'abuse of power' at the highest level in the handling of the case and singled out former Home Secretary David Blunkett and his successor Charles Clarke for acting 'unlawfully.'
A BA spokesman said last night: "We have been helping police with their inquiries into a man who is employed by a cleaning contractor."http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/liv...n_page_id=1770
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics
on: May 16, 2008, 03:45:08 PM
Wesbury is one of the best around IMHO, thanks for sharing.
I think you raise an interesting line of thought in your introdutory remarks to Wesbury's piece. Would you please flesh out the implications of the fact that the Reagan cuts were phased in over three years? IRRC, per supply side doctrine, the acutalization of many gains was deferred untill the third year, which, contrary to monetarist predictions, is when the Reagan boomed kicked off.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Pre-emption and Sucker Punches
on: May 16, 2008, 03:41:01 PM
"In his book, "Dead or Alive:The Choice Is Yours" Geoff Thompson lists abstract question asking as both a deterrent/confuser and as a an action trigger.
"As a deterrent/confuser:
"This is generally used in the early part of the run-in before the adrenaline has started pumping. "How's your brother/mother these days?" "Is your sister's name Mary?" "Don't you know my cousin, David?". This can be a series of questions wherein your "recognition" of the attacker may buy you time, or plant the seed of doubt in their head (Maybe this guy really does know someone I know)
"As an action trigger:
"An action trigger would be defined as something that prepares you mentally for your pre-emptive strike while throwing your adversary off guard. It can be a simple question or something abstract that makes no sense at all. As Thompson writes, "A submissive question is also a subliminal indication that you wish to prolong the conversation, whereas shorter sentences, certainly single syllables, send the message that the conversation is coming to an end." (and that fight is about the start)
"I'm sorry I didn't hear you, what did you say?"
"What was the score in the game tonight?"
"Did you see that chicken video?"
"I saw a bouncer use the abstract question technique one night with an extremely drunk client. No matter what the drunk would say, the bouncer kept asking things like "What is your favorite color?", "Can you fix a radiator?", "Do pickles give you gas?". It completely disarmed the drunk by keeping him mentally off-balance. So much so that he forgot about the fight he was about to get into, mumble something about "Too confusing..." and wandered off.
"Not that a prolonged line of questioning would work in a sucker punch situation, but a single abstract question can buy you
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Oil being stored in tankers?!?
on: May 16, 2008, 12:51:37 PM
An Iranian Oil Mystery
May 16, 2008 | 0200 GMT
Iran confirmed on Thursday that it has booked a supertanker to store up to 270,000 tons of crude oil for up to 90 days. The Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) that Iran commissioned from Singapore-headquartered Tanker Pacific are expected to arrive in Iran the first week of June.
Iran already has more than 28 million barrels of oil floating in tankers outside its main export terminal in the Persian Gulf. The fleet of tankers storing this crude is owned by NITC, a subsidiary of state-owned oil firm National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC), and has a capacity of more than 30 million barrels of crude — the equivalent of more than a week of Iran’s oil output.
There is something very wrong with this picture.
With oil prices soaring above $127 per barrel, any energy-producing country would be jumping at the opportunity to sell its crude and reap hefty profits. The Iranians, however, are choosing to store a huge bulk of their crude offshore in large tankers. Instead of making money off crude sales, Iran is expending loads of petrodollars to store nearly 30 million barrels of crude for weeks. Storing crude in offshore tankers for long periods of time is certainly not cheap.
So, what is Iran up to?
There are several possible explanations to Iran’s curious energy policy. Some energy analysts have speculated that Iran is holding out for a better market price to sell its oil. But with oil prices already hitting record highs, this explanation does not add up.
Another explanation is that the current policy is a result of the NIOC’s inferior management skills — which is certainly possible, given Iran’s poor track record in managing its investment-deprived energy sector. The intent behind such a policy would be for Iran to manipulate global crude prices by reducing exports and driving up demand.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad already threw around threats in recent days to cut Iranian oil output, sending jitters through the energy market that ended up pushing oil prices to $127 per barrel. From the standpoint of the Iranian Energy Ministry, the threats to reduce output combined with a reduction in exports could drive up prices further and allow the Iranians to get a better deal on their crude sales.
But it appears that the Iranians already tried this strategy — and failed — in the summer of 2006. Beginning in March of that year, the Iranian government issued threats that it would cut its crude production while storing around 20 million barrels of oil in tankers. But instead of selling at a higher price, the Iranians found that oil traders simply looked elsewhere to make up for the difference. In the end, the Iranians wound up selling the bulk of that crude at a major discount to Royal Dutch/Shell and India’s Reliance.
Moreover, Iran is highly unlikely to follow through with its threats of dropping crude output. The Iranians are already producing oil at capacity at 4.02 million barrels per day (bpd). With the Iranian oil sector accounting for approximately 80 percent of Iran’s total exports (with 12 percent of the country’s gross domestic product absorbed in energy subsidies), the country cannot afford to cut production and absorb the loss in income. Despite being the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, Iran is also the world’s second-largest importer of gasoline due to its faltering refining sector; and it is a major food importer. With food prices and inflation rising, Iran is all the more dependent on its oil revenues to maintain internal political stability, and it would be shooting itself in the foot if it took the hit of cutting its oil output.
The more likely reason behind Iran hoarding its oil is a drop in demand for Iranian crude — which spells far more serious consequences for the Islamic Republic.
Iran’s main oil export is a heavy crude that is difficult for refiners to convert into transport fuel. Most of the oil currently being stored off the Iranian coast comes from the Soroush and Nowruz fields, which produce approximately 190,000 bpd of low-quality, high-sulfur crude. Iran has already had a difficult time finding buyers for this heavy sour crude, but still is highly reluctant to cut the price down. The Iranians appear to have now reached a point where they have little choice but to take the hit in income and store the crude, in the hopes that demand for their product will rebound.
The main energy clients for Iranian crude include Japan, China, India, South Korea, Italy and other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations. But as the global food crisis worsens and inflation rates continue to soar worldwide, these countries will be loath to put up with Iran’s high prices for low-quality crude.
Iran can easily disguise its energy woes with rhetoric on how it is punishing the West by cutting output and driving up global crude prices. These threats will continue to send a jolt through energy investors and bump up prices a notch or two. But Iran will have a much harder time reaping the benefits of high energy prices as long as its energy income is strained by a drop in demand for its crude. Oil is the backbone of the Iranian economy, and if Iran is resorting to storing up loads of crude in the Gulf for lack of buyers, its financial — and thus internal political — stability will soon be coming into serious question.
It’s important to remember that Iran has an incredibly delicate social stability index to manage, with only about 55 percent of its population composed of ethnic Persians. The remaining population is made up of ethnic minorities who are kept in check by Tehran through a combination of military force and heavy state subsidies. If it is already having trouble sustaining its oil exports — and its economic problems continue to worsen — Iran runs the risk of losing its ability to function as a state, much less an aggressive one.
Tell Stratfor What You Think
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ
on: May 16, 2008, 12:17:30 PM
One More Time, Liberals Overplay Their Hand on Gay Marriage
Activist judges and how far they go to position themselves above the legislature or electorate has suddenly become an issue in the presidential race with the narrow 4 to 3 decision by California's Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage.
Barack Obama is unlikely to be pleased by the court's decision. He will recall how the issue of judicial interference with the political process bedeviled John Kerry's 2004 campaign after the high court in Mr. Kerry's home state of Massachusetts legalized gay marriage. Anti-gay marriage initiatives eventually passed that year in nearly a dozen states.
In California, the issue is guaranteed to be a hot political topic this fall. More than 1.1 million signatures have already been collected to put a measure on the November ballot that would change California's ban on gay marriage from a statutory provision to a Constitutional clause. Putting their preferences into the state Constitution is the last recourse of the state's citizens against being dictated to by the state's Supreme Court.
Public opinion seems fairly clear. In 2000, 61% of California voters approved a statutory ban on gay marriage while also leaving open a chance for other legal protections to be extended to gays. The measure, Proposition 22, passed in all but four Bay Area counties and even won a third of the vote in San Francisco.
Supporters of gay marriage assert that public attitudes have shifted since 2000, but they seem unwilling to test that belief through the democratic process. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a very friendly governor to gays, has twice vetoed bills to legalize gay marriage. All gay marriage supporters have to do is elect an even more gay-friendly governor, but instead they insist on court action. Once again, an overreliance on the courts to achieve social change may prompt a public reaction that rebounds to the benefit of conservative candidates.
-- John Fund
Winning the Votes of the Smarter Half
House Republicans started rolling out their election-year agenda this week. The initial object of their attention: Women.
The brainchild of Rep. Kay Granger, the new "American Families Agenda" is an attempt to pitch the GOP's free-market ideals at modern working moms (and dads). Ms. Granger says she tried to zero in on the biggest day-to-day needs for families: more "flex time," fewer burdens on small businesses (a huge number of which are owned by women), portable health care, school choice and college savings. Under her plan, military families would receive extra help and sexual predators would be cracked down on.
"This is an agenda that recognizes that while American families have changed, the laws that affect families, and in particular women, have not," Ms. Granger, a six term congresswomen from Texas, tells me. She should know --- having taught school, run a small business and served as mayor and legislator, all while raising three kids on her own.
House Republicans suffered a devastating loss in a special election in Mississippi this week, and the big goal of the "families" agenda is to show disillusioned voters that the party has a forward-looking agenda. Selling it will be a tough job given recent GOP scandals and spending frenzies, but women are a smart place to start. For decades now "women's issues" have been defined by the left, usually around the hot-button questions of abortion or "equal pay." Yet while many women care about such subjects, polls show the vast majority (including 60% of those women who hold down jobs while caring for a child at home under six) are most concerned with health care, the cost of living and the struggle to balance work and family obligations. And women make up the majority of the electorate now, so it's about time Republicans started listening.
By the way, Ms. Granger makes a point of giving a shout-out to two colleagues in particular for help in drafting the new agenda. One of them, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, last year became the first Member in more than a decade to give birth while serving in Congress. The other, Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, just became a grandmother.
-- Kim Strassel
Quote of the Day I
"When Michael Dukakis ran for President in 1988, crime was perhaps the biggest issue in the campaign. It splintered his coalition, pitting blacks who saw the death penalty as racially unfair against blue-collar whites who demanded a hard line against crime and too often associated that crime with blacks. Today, by contrast, roughly 1% of Americans say crime is their top issue, and no one even knows what Obama's position on the death penalty is. For Obama, that's an enormous boon, and Bill Clinton deserves a lot of the credit. His policies -- especially his bold proposal for 100,000 new cops -- helped bring down the crime rate. And by embracing the death penalty, he eliminated one of the GOP's best wedge issues. That embrace was ugly at times, as when Clinton flew back to Arkansas during the 1992 campaign to oversee the execution of a mentally retarded man. But it was politically shrewd. And because Clinton did it then, Obama doesn't have to now" -- former New Republic editor Peter Beinart, writing at Time.com.
Quote of the Day II
"Should Obama even care about making tactical mistakes [such as writing off West Virginia and the working-class white electorate] when McCain's conservative base is disappearing before his eyes? While Obama was going down Tuesday, Democrat Travis Childers helped his party complete its trend-setting trifecta of upset wins in special elections in ruby-red, GOP-held House districts. So, despite boatloads of polling that shows McCain is competitive this fall, the fact remains that when Republicans vote these days, they're often voting for Democrats. In Childers' case, it wasn't even close. A last-minute visit from Vice President Dick Cheney couldn't even rescue Republican Greg Davis.... Indeed, while Democrats publicly worry that the drawn-out primary has drawn down their chances this fall, Childers' victory is yet another reason that party leaders' private confidence continues to soar" -- National Journal's "Politiscope" columnist, John Mercurio.
Bearish on McCain
BRUSSELS -- If Westerners don't like what they hear about Vladimir Putin's successor in the Kremlin, Dmitry Medvedev, maybe they're tuned in to the wrong news sources. And if Americans want better relations, maybe they should elect someone other than John McCain.
Those were the messages Thursday from the chairman of the Duma's foreign affairs committee, Konstantin Kosachev, who chalks up the West's criticism of Russia to "misinformation and bias." "Very often when I read" what the West has to report about Russia, "I don't even recognize my country," he says.
But that's not all. He blamed the West for the more aggressive bear it's facing today. Messrs. Putin and Medvedev -- he named them in that order -- are "ready for a different form of dialogue and cooperation with the West. But... the current position of Russia toward the West is very much provoked by a too-harsh approach by the West."
So which U.S. presidential candidate would be best able to improve relations? Mr. Kosachev left little doubt about his druthers. John McCain "is a person who has all his life fought against communism and yet [he] doesn't seem to distinguish between the Soviet Union and Russia," he says. "That may be a problem. We may need a broader approach, and that may come from one of the other hypothetical winners of the election."
This reassertive Russia might not have much use for democrats, but Democrats are another story.
-- Kyle Wingfield
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton" Well-Regulated Militia
on: May 16, 2008, 08:45:01 AM
"If a well-regulated militia be the most natural defense of a free
country, it ought certainly to be under the regulation and at the
disposal of that body which is constituted the guardian of the
national security. If standing armies are dangerous to liberty,
an efficacious power over the militia in the same body ought,
as far as possible, to take away the inducement and the pretext
to such unfriendly institutions. If the federal government can
command the aid of the militia in those emergencies which call
for the military arm in support of the civil magistrate, it can
the better dispense with the employment of a different kind of
force. If it cannot avail itself of the former, it will be obliged
to recur to the latter. To render an army unnecessary will be a
more certain method of preventing its existence than a thousand
prohibitions upon paper."
-- Alexander Hamilton (Federalist No. 29, 10 January 1788)
Reference: Hamilton, Federalist No. 29.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / This man is not likely to get sucker punched
on: May 16, 2008, 08:28:51 AM
Many of the clips we have seen so far have been young male escalations involving "the three Ss", but, we also want to be thinking about other types of situations as well e.g. criminal assault and other more serious matters. Here, from the WT forum, we have an example of an Israeli man not likely to get sucker punched. Yes there are variables here quite different from what most of us have in mind (being armed with guns, the socio-political dynamics involved) but notice his final comments about disrupting the prospective attacker's mental process; this I think is a key point for the discussion here in this thread:
I was asked in a couple of PM's to write up some examples of "spontaneous jihad". Spontaneous jihad is when a lone muslim gets the idea to go and an act of murder as party of an isolated terrorism.
In the first incident I was driving an unmarked jeep from Jerusalem to the north of Israel to teach a week long in service training for snipers. In Israel we have different colored license plates for our vehicles. Yellow and black plates for Israeli citizens both Arab and Jews, blue or green for Palestinians, red plates for police vehicles, Black with white letters for IDF and white with black letters for diplomatic vehicles. The jeep I was driving had yellow and black plates on it and inside the jeep I had green plates and also red plates that I could put on the Jeep if I saw the need. The jeep had a siren and pa system and a kojack blue light, along with two sets of radios law enforcement and IDF radios.
I left Jerusalem heading north through Ramallah in Samaria AKA northern part of the so called west bank. As I had a bunch of equipment related to the teaching of the course, I didn't want to be bothered by taking either my sniping rifle or my M16 rifle, so I was armed with a mini Uzi and a Glock 21 pistol which happened to be the first one that entered Israel.
Since I was going to be in for a long drive I was wearing the Glock in an IWB holster carried cross draw and was wearing the mini Uzi with the stock folded and the sling around my neck carried muzzle down between my legs. The Uzi had two mags in it and I carried four more if I remember correctly more in my left cargo pocket of my pants.
The weather was warm and while I drove I was drinking water to keep hydrated and about 30-45 minutes north of Ramallah I felt the need for a pit stop so I pulled the jeep over and walked away from the jeep which was parked along side the two lane country road. I walked away from the jeep into the brush as a means of concealment so if the jeep attracted unwanted attention I was away from it and hidden so I could then take the correct action if need be.
As I got ready to do my business I moved the Uzi from around my neck hanging down like a neck tie would, so I moved the weapon to my left shoulder, The reason being if it should happen to slide of my should it would not effect my aim, which could have resulted in wet pants.
I had just started when a Hamas looking Arab approached me from the right side asking me if I needed help. I replied that I was fine and he should freeze or suffer bad things to come. He kept walking towards me starting in on the usual BS we are family, we are cousins let me help you.
I told him that just because my forefather Avraham slept with some arab whore did not in my mind make us family and we all should learn that having sex with arab whores is not the thing to do.
My response was not what he thought he would get as it was far outside the norms of the middle east, which by the look on his face caused his thought process to short circuit which gave me time to finish and get myself together as it were. He then started to walk towards me again.
I told him he was either a terrorist looking for a victim or he was a fag but the end result would be the same that I would kill him where he stood. I then pivoted so he could see I was armed, which made him freeze.
He then got this grin on his face and said Yahud, Jew if every Jew was like you their would never be a Palestinian state but most Jews were week and they would get their state in the end and then he walked off.
He was later found by the IDF and had a large knife.
I was going to meet a friend from Sweden in the old city of Jerusalem for lunch and then to take him around the old city. I was dressed in civilian cloths i.e jeans t shirt and sandals and kippah on my head. I was armed with a micro Uzi and a Hi Power that I carried cocked and locked but under my t shirt.
I had just entered the old city via the Yaffo gate and was walking across the open area that is just inside the gate before you get to the maze that is the old city. I was walking toward the east for those of you that have been in the old city and to the north was 3 or 4 members of the "blue" police civilian police and to my right was a group of 8-10 arab males aged 18-25.
One of the arabs walked away from the group and approached me asking if he could see the micro uzi, I told him he was insane and to get away from me. He again started with the family crap as he started to walk with me. I told him to get the hell away from me.
The arab the lunged at me grabbing for the Uzi, I gave him an elbow strike to the side of the head and grabbed him with my left arm wrapping him up and talking him down with me to the street while I drew the Hi Power from under my shirt.
I stuck the pistol into his face and thumbed the safety off, he was stunned by the blow to the head and before I could blow his head off out of my periphery vision I saw people running towards me. Thinking I was about to gt swarmed by his friends I raised the pistol towards the people running at me.
The people running towards me happened to be the police, I ordered them to grab the group of arab males and to get a pair of cuffs so we could cuff up the asshole I was sitting on.
The whole time I had in my right hand a cocked and unlocked Hi power which was loaded with hollowpoint ammo, at a time 99% of Israeli government and civilians were still using ball ammo.
We cuffed up the now bleeding arab and then I knew that virtue was the better part of valor so I removed the mag from my Hi Power and removed the round from the chamber and since I carried the `13 round mags down one round I just topped off the mag.
The cops were amazed at how fast I had been able to draw and chamber a round since at the time most of the people carried condition 3. I didn't have the heart to tell them that I carried with one up the tube and cocked and locked.
From the group of arabs we learned that when he saw me and the micro uzi he wanted to try to take it since with such a weapon he could murder a lot of Jews.
The thing that both incidents have in common is spontaneous jihad, since both attacks were unplanned and were done at the spur of the moment. The question is how can we identify those hadji's that might be leaning to spontaneous jihad, we can't.
So how do we defend against it?
By never letting your guard down and being ready to be as un-PC as you can be if their is a verbal dialog leading up to their desired attack. I have noticed that by being very crude about the family connection and other things tends to short circuit their thought process, it is the mental version of getting of the X.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan
on: May 16, 2008, 08:10:51 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The Possible Meanings of an Airstrike in Pakistan
May 15, 2008
An airstrike in the northwestern Pakistani town of Damadola on Wednesday struck the home of a Taliban leader, according to a militia spokesman quoted by Pakistan’s AAJ TV. Normally such events would not hold our attention, but a conflux of events on Wednesday suggests that this attack is laden with implications.
Details are still sketchy — partly due to the location’s remoteness, partly due to the security concerns of any U.S. military force acting there, partly due to the opaqueness of the Taliban’s internal workings and partly because the locals tend to recycle names with such alacrity that positive identifications require an uncomfortable amount of guesswork — but here is what seems to have happened.
The airstrike appears to have been launched from Afghan airspace, suggesting that it was almost certainly American in origin. This in and of itself is not particularly odd.
The United States only has two routes of supply into Afghanistan: one through the political ice floes of post-Soviet Central Asia and one through Pakistan. That dependence on Pakistan has forced the United States to turn a blind eye to Pakistan’s own blind eye regarding the Taliban. Pakistan’s government — especially its intelligence arm — sees some Taliban factions as a tool of influence, and so grants them succor. This limits U.S. military flexibility in hunting the Taliban, and similarly leads the Taliban to use the Pakistani side of the border to rest, recuperate, recruit and rearm.
What results is a merry-go-round of denials. The Taliban deny that they operate in Pakistan (yet have bases there), the United States denies that it pursues Taliban targets in Pakistan (yet has special forces on sustained deployments there hunting the aforementioned bases), and Pakistan denies that either of the others is doing anything in Pakistani territory (yet cooperates with the Taliban in hiding from the Americans and with the Americans in hunting the Taliban). This is all standard fare in Afghan-Pakistani border politics.
But two twists prompt us to think something more is going on.
The first — and this is where the tendency for a large number of people to use a small number of names comes into play — regards the name of the Taliban leader whose house was hit: Maulvi Ubaidullah. Maulvi Ubaidullah is the name of the Taliban defense minister from the pre-9/11 era when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan. In April the Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan was kidnapped, and the terms of the ambassador’s release included Islamabad setting free captured Taliban leaders — including one Maulvi Ubaidullah. For someone to be terminated by Hellfire within a few weeks of being in Ameri-, er, Pakistani custody indicates more might be at work than simple coincidence. (In the American counterterrorism lexicon, such operations are called “catch and release.” Suspects are caught, interrogated and released so American operatives can track them back to their bases and allies — at which point liberal amounts of American military hardware are distributed from altitude.)
Second, the Pakistani army began “thinning out” troops from two areas in the South Waziristan region and had a prisoner exchange in an effort to make peace with the Taliban a day after the provincial government in North-West Frontier Province agreed to implement Shariah in the Swat and Malakand districts. Pakistan is in the throes of an unsteady freshman coalition government desperate to prove its strength. One surefire crowd-pleaser in Pakistan is to snub the United States publicly.
Taken together, the events point to one of two possible intriguing conclusions. First, that just because the United States is willing to grimace its way around Pakistan’s blind eye, it cannot let naked collusion pass. The Ubaidullah assassination could have been simply to emphasize for the new Pakistani authorities that Islamabad can say — and maybe even do — whatever it likes, but when it comes down to it the United States will not hesitate to attack high-value targets who have allied with al Qaeda, no matter in whose territory they happen to bed down. And if that destabilizes Pakistan, then so be it. For Washington, progress in the Afghan war might now (oddly) be more important than retaining the means to fight it effectively.
Second — and not particularly more or less likely — is that U.S. cooperation with the Pakistani government is independent of public relations between the two states. Washington has long enjoyed functional and fruitful — if not always friendly — ties with the Pakistani military, which remains the real power in the country. It is certainly feasible that American-Pakistani military cooperation has not suffered a whit even as political Islamabad becomes ever more shrill in voicing its unwillingness to cooperate with Washington.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ
on: May 15, 2008, 04:54:14 PM
Could Bob Barr become this year's Ralph Nader, helping to "spoil" the White House ambitions of John McCain.
The former Georgia Republican congressman announced he was seeking the Libertarian nomination for president this week, and immediately disputed that he is spoiling things for anyone. "The American voters deserve better than simply the lesser of two evils," he said as he outlined his platform to freeze discretionary spending and withdraw from Iraq.
Mr. Barr first has to win the nomination of the fractious Libertarians in Denver later this month. He faces opposition from 13 candidates, including former Democratic Senator Mike Gravel, an amusing oddity in this year's Democratic presidential contest.
If Mr. Barr wins the LP nomination, he would likely appear on some 45 state ballots and could tip some close races to the Democrats. "Barr obviously is dangerous. At least he negates any possible Nader benefit," says David Norcross, chairman of the Rules Committee at the GOP convention. Mr. Nader, widely credited with hurting Al Gore in the 2000 election, is running again as a liberal independent.
Still, Republicans claim they aren't concerned by Mr. Barr's possible appearance on all those state ballots. But they should be. You can bet cable TV producers who are backing Barack Obama will book the quotable Mr. Barr dozens of times. Don't be surprised if he even teams up with Mr. Nader for tag-team appearances, with the consumer advocate primarily blasting Democrats and Mr. Barr eviscerating Republicans.
So how should Republicans limit the potential damage Mr. Barr could cause them? For starters, John McCain should avoid giving unfortunate speeches such as the one he gave Monday endorsing the discredited cap-and-trade approach to limiting global warming -- a system that has flopped in Europe. Mr. McCain went so far as to say: "If the efforts to negotiate an international solution that includes China and India do not succeed, we still have an obligation to act" against global warming. Given the growth in carbon emissions of those two countries, that is a preposterous statement.
Mr. McCain may believe he can attract the votes of young people with his green street cred, but he would be advised not to go too far in alienating his conservative base. Mr. Barr will likely be there every step of the way exploiting conservative discontent with the GOP nominee.
-- John Fund
Tom Cole In the GOP's Stocking
Following the 2006 elections, Republicans faced a 30-seat deficit in the House of Representatives. With that number now grown to 37 seats, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole finds himself in possibly the most unenviable position in Washington. The Democrats' majority is almost sure to increase even more come November, leaving Mr. Cole, whose basic role is to help elect as many Republicans to the House as possible, facing what appears to be inevitable failure.
Since Tuesday's loss in Mississippi's 1st District, Mr. Cole has spoken in rather blunt terms about the state of affairs of the GOP. It was the third recent special election defeat in districts the GOP once dominated.
"When you lose three of these in a row, you have to get beyond campaign tactics and take a long hard look, 'Is there something wrong with your product?'" Mr. Cole said yesterday in a conference call with reporters. "What we've got right now is a deficiency in our message and a loss of confidence by the American people that we are going to do what we say we're going to do. We're not winning in places that Republicans probably ought to win on the basis of just being Republican."
Still, Mr. Cole didn't sound totally defeated, noting that two Democratic special election winners in Mississippi and Louisiana ran on platforms so conservative that they would have been welcomed "to the Republican caucus with open arms." He conceded that the Democratic strategy of running more conservative candidates in Republican districts was proving successful in winning seats now, but he also maintained that it would not be sustainable over the long term. Unfortunately for Mr. Cole, he may not have his NRCC chairmanship long enough to see if that statement proves true.
-- Kyle Trygstad, RealClearPolitics.com
Quote of the Day I
"Edwards stood next to Obama Wednesday night, basking in the applause of thousands of Michigan Democrats who were, for all practical purposes, cheering the end of the Clinton campaign.... No one missed the fact that Barack Obama and John Edwards looked right together. 'They looked fantastic together,' gushed Jill Zuckman, the Chicago Tribune's able political writer. 'They looked like a ticket'" -- The Nation magazine's John Nichols, covering yesterday's endorsement, in the future battleground state of Michigan, of Barack Obama by former rival John Edwards.
Quote of the Day II
"It is unusual for a single individual to hold the fate of an entire industry in his hand -- but that will be the case for the next president of the United States. He or she will have the power to enact unbearably strict fuel economy standards on the cars and trucks sold in half the country. By so doing, he could render vast swaths of the current car and truck lineup obsolete and doom their manufacturers to the scrapyard" -- Fortune Magazine's Alex Taylor III, on whether the next president will allow California and several other states to impose their own stringent CO2 emissions standards on automakers.
South Korea has been swept by mad cow fever in recent weeks, ever since President Lee Myung-bak agreed to re-open the country to imports of U.S. beef. Korea's protectionist farm lobby quickly mobilized in force, aided by a bizarre scaremongering campaign in the South Korean media. One TV documentary claimed Americans themselves don't eat American beef, preferring to import beef from Australia instead (not true: more than 90% of U.S. beef is consumed at home).
The same TV show also purported to prove that Koreans are genetically predisposed to contract the human form of mad cow, an odd assertion since no ethnic Korean has ever fallen victim to the disease.
But now an unexpected ally has leapt to the defense of American ranchers. From their U.S. homes, various Korean-American groups have entered the fight, with noticeable results. "We trust the American public health system," Lee Chang-yup of the Korean-American Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles was quoted as saying in South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper. Other groups have held their own press conferences and issued statements saying their members eat U.S. beef safely all the time and South Koreans should too.
Word from Seoul suggests the campaign is working. Passions have begun to cool as the scientific realities are given their due. Though the Seoul government just announced a 10-delay, President Lee insists the beef imports will eventually resume. If so, U.S. ranchers will have reason to thank Americans of Korean descent who defended American beef in its hour of need.
-- Joseph Sternberg
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Pre-emption and Sucker Punches
on: May 15, 2008, 03:18:21 PM
In the first one of those I spot a cue which Peyton Quinn (Bouncer's Guide to Barroom Brawling, others) discusses-- the interruption of the natural coordination of alternating hand and foot while walking (when left foot forward, right hand is forward, etc). Here as the hitter approaches we see in his final steps this coordination is no longer present.
The clip with blind side cheap shot is an important reminder of "the three Ss": "Stupid people in Stupid places doing Stupid things".
Also we see here important studies in what observers (presumptively on one side or the other) do and do not do.
I noticed this one while looking at these: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qg_G6DeqbEM&feature=related
You go girl!
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Gamer Samaritan
on: May 15, 2008, 03:04:07 PM
I remember when my knee was snapped in 1992 (ACL, PCL, LCL ligaments all snapped in half) in a freak BJJ accident some idiot purple belt wanted to manipulate my knee. I asked if he was trained. No he wasn't.
What a fcukin' idiot!
It turns out that it was quite fortunate that the peroneal nerve was not severed. For all I know, I saved it by asserting myself and not allowing this idiot to posture by using my knee.
Changing subjects, here is this:
Gamer uses virtual training to save lives
Player of America's Army used in-games techniques in a rescue situation.
By Ben Silverman
Think playing video games is little more than a great way to waste time? Then you haven't met Paxton Galvanek. Last November, the twenty-eight year-old helped rescue two victims from an overturned SUV on the shoulder of a North Carolina interstate. As the first one on the scene, Galvanek safely removed both individuals from the smoking vehicle and properly assessed and treated their wounds, which included bruises, scrapes, head trauma and the loss of two fingers.
His medical background? None - other than what he's learned playing as a medic in the computer game America's Army.
The first-person shooter is developed and distributed by the U.S. Army. Though part of its mission is to promote its military namesake, America's Army is a fully-featured game that takes players through a virtual representation of real-life soldiering, from basic training to the field of battle. To play as a medic class, players must sit through extensive medical training tutorials based on real-life classes.
Lucky for the two survivors that Paxton Galvanek didn't zone out during the training, as the gamer credits this experience with teaching him how to handle himself in an emergency situation.
"In the case of this accident, I evaluated the situation and placed priority on the driver of the car who had missing fingers," he said. "I then recalled that in section two of the medic training, I learned about controlled bleeding. I noticed that the wounded man had severe bleeding that he could not control. I used a towel as a dressing and asked the man to hold the towel on his wound and to raise his hand above his head to lessen the blood flow which allowed me to evaluate his other injuries which included a cut on his head."
By the time help arrived in the form of -- ironically enough -- an Army soldier, the individuals were in stable condition and awaiting the paramedics.
Galvanek's decisions were lauded by game project director Colonel Casey Wardynski. "Because of the training he received in America's Army's virtual classroom, Mr. Galvanek had mastered the basics of first aid and had the confidence to take appropriate action when others might do nothing. He took the initiative to assess the situation, prioritize actions and apply the correct procedures... Paxton is a true hero."
According to the developers of America's Army, this is the second time one of their users has reportedly applied techniques learned in the game to real-life emergency situations. You can find more information about the game at www.americasarmy.com
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Quik Clot
on: May 14, 2008, 11:19:28 PM
DOD picks QuikClot Combat Gauze
U.S. Department of Defense Picks New QuikClot(R) Combat Gauze(TM) as First-Line Hemostatic Treatment for All Military Services
Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care Cites Dual Navy/Army Testing Efficacy, Familiar Format, Ability to Treat Penetrating Wounds, Ease of Removal WALLINGFORD, Conn., May 14 /PRNewswire/
Z-Medica Corporation(Z-Medica), a medical products company focused on innovative blood clottingnano-technologies, announced that the United States Department of Defensehas selected the company's newest hemostatic product, QuikClot(R) CombatGauze(TM) brand, for all military services as the first-line hemostatictreatment for life-threatening hemorrhage that is not amenable totourniquet placement.
Bleeding is the number one cause of death forsoldiers injured in battle and QuikClot(R) products offer the mosteffective solution to severe blood loss outside the operating room setting.They have been proven in battlefield use and, with more than one millionunits deployed, are the leading hemostatic agents in the field. The Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (CoTCCC) made thedecision to recommend QuikClot(R) Combat Gauze(TM) after reviewing testreports on a number of hemostatic products.
QuikClot(R) Combat Gauze(TM)was the only one of these products tested by both the Naval MedicalResearch Center and the U.S. Army Institute for Surgical Research. Inaddition to test efficacy, the committee sited a number of other factors inaccording QuikClot(R) Combat Gauze(TM) the number one position:
-- Preference for the gauze delivery format, which is familiar to combat medical personnel. -- Ability of QuikClot(R) Combat Gauze(TM) to be shaped to any wound and to reach bleeding vessels in penetrating wounds.
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DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008
on: May 14, 2008, 07:43:13 PM
I have strong safety concerns here.
People will be whirling and even with good DB spirit, excrement happens. At the Temecula Gathering we had someone hit in the back of the neck during the middle of a spin. The fighter dropped instantly (and with my him, my heart), but fortunately the impact was not directly on the spine.
Here the a primary intention precisely is to achieve attacking from behind. Even a partial rotation that is unanticipated by the attacker could result in an unintended strike to the spine.
Also quite possible is a strike to the kidney. Yes I know we have liver and spleen shots in fighting sometimes, but these seem to me to be of a lesser order because they are seen and usually with punches or knees. An unseen stick shot to the kidney seems to me of much greater order than these. We had a stick shot to the kidney once on a man who turned to pick up a dropped stick and it dropped him hard. IIRC he was peeing blood for a few days. It may appear on one of the "Stickfighting is dangerous!" warnings on the beginnings of our DVDs.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Self-Defense Law
on: May 14, 2008, 03:45:19 PM
My apologies for the delay in my reply. Thank you for your commitment to search for Truth and to share the results with us here.
In related vein, I found this on the GetofftheX forum:
Find out if your states have an office of legislative research.
Its a great tool to use.
This is a good summary of the state of laws in Connecticut on this subject.
CASTLE DOCTRINE AND SELF-DEFENSE
January 17, 2007
By: Christopher Reinhart, Senior Attorney
You asked about the “castle doctrine,” how it acquired its name, how many states have adopted bills on it, and any information about its effect in states that have adopted it.
Generally, the “castle doctrine” provides that someone attacked in his home can use reasonable force, which can include deadly force, to protect his or another's life without any duty to retreat from the attacker. It is defined differently in different states. The name appears to have its origin in the English common law rules protecting a person's home and the phrase “one's home is one's castle. ”
In recent years, a number of states have adopted or considered bills referred to as “castle doctrine” bills. These bills expand the circumstances where a person can use self-defense without retreating and contain other provisions, such as immunity for someone who legally uses force in self-defense. A Washington Post article states that the Florida bill was given the name the “castle doctrine” by Florida lobbyist Marion P. Hammer, a former National Rifle Association president (“Florida Gun Law to Expand Leeway for Self-Defense,” Washington Post, April 26, 2005). These bills have also been called “stand your ground” bills.
We found 15 states that adopted a “castle doctrine” bill in the last two years. These states are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and South Dakota. A number of other states considered bills on this topic. In New Hampshire, the legislature passed a “castle doctrine” bill but the governor vetoed it.
These “castle doctrine” bills contain a number of different provisions and the states vary in which provisions they adopted. Some of these expanded the circumstances where force could be used in self-defense without a duty to retreat, some adopted provisions on criminal or civil immunity for legally using force in self-defense, and some contained all of these provisions.
We could not find any studies on the impact of these laws. A June 11, 2006 Orlando Sentinel article stated that it was too early to see the impact of Florida's new law, which took effect October 1, 2005, and there were no statewide statistics on the number of self-defense claims before or after that date. The newspaper found 13 people who used self-defense in central Florida over five months (resulting in six deaths and four people wounded). In the investigation of the 13 people who used self-defense, three were charged with a crime, five cleared, and the others were still under review. The newspaper stated that police and prosecutors handled investigations of these cases in a range of ways. A copy of this article is attached (“Cases Involving the New Deadly Force Law are Handled in a Broad Range of Ways,” Orlando Sentinel, June 11, 2006).
The sections below describe provisions in the “castle doctrine” bills and Connecticut's laws on self-defense.
“CASTLE DOCTRINE” BILLS
We found 15 states that adopted a “castle doctrine” bill in the last two years. Some of these expanded the circumstances where force could be used in self-defense without a duty to retreat, some adopted provisions on criminal or civil immunity for legally using force in self-defense, and some contained all of these provisions. In general, the bills contained at least one of the following provisions.
1. They remove the duty to retreat from an aggressor using force or deadly force under certain circumstances. The states vary in how broadly this applies. For example, Alaska expands the types of premises where a person does not have a duty to retreat when using force in defense of self to include any place the person resides, a place where he is a guest, and his workplace. The Alaska law also applies to protecting a child or member of the person's household, regardless of location.
2. Kansas removes the duty to retreat from its use of force statutes and adds a general statement that a person not engaged in illegal activity who is attacked in a place where he has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his ground and meet force with force.
3. Some states add a legal presumption about when a person is justified in using force against intruders. For example, Florida added a presumption that a person using force had a reasonable fear of death or serious injury to himself or another if (a) the person against whom he used force was illegally and forcefully entering a dwelling or occupied vehicle, was in the process of doing so, or removed or was attempting to remove a person against his will and (b) the person using force knew or had reason to believe this was occurring. These presumptions, which vary by state, have exceptions and do not apply under specified circumstances, such as when (a) the person force is used against had a right to be in the dwelling or was a lawful resident, (b) the person using force was engaged in illegal activity, or (c) the person force is used against is a law enforcement officer performing his duties who identified himself or the person using force knew or should have known the person was an officer.
4. Some states, such as Florida, include a presumption that a person who illegally or forcefully enters or attempts to enter a dwelling or occupied vehicle is presumed to be doing so with intent to commit an illegal act involving force or violence.
5. Many of the bills provide immunity from criminal prosecution for a person who legally uses force or deadly force. This can apply to arrest, detention in custody, charging, and prosecuting. Some also specify that law enforcement is authorized to use standard procedures to investigate but cannot arrest the person unless there is probable cause that the use of force was unlawful.
6. Many also provide immunity from civil actions for a person who is justified in using force or deadly physical force. They require a court to award reasonable attorney's fees, costs, compensation for lost income, and expenses if the court finds that the person acted lawfully and is immune from prosecution.
Under Connecticut law, a person may use physical force (self defense): to protect himself or a third person, his home or office, or his property; to make an arrest or prevent an escape; or to perform certain duties (for example, a corrections officer may use force to maintain order and discipline, a teacher to protect a minor, and a parent to discipline a child). A person cannot use physical force to resist arrest by a reasonably identifiable peace officer, whether the arrest is legal or not (CGS § 53a-23).
Self defense or justification is a defense in any prosecution (CGS § 53a-16). The person claiming justification has the initial burden of producing sufficient evidence to assert self-defense. When raised as a defense at a trial, the state has the burden of disproving self defense beyond a reasonable doubt (CGS § 53a-12).
Physical Force in Defense of Person
A person is justified in using reasonable physical force on another person to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of physical force. The defender may use the degree of force he reasonably believes is necessary to defend himself or a third person. But deadly physical force cannot be used unless the actor reasonably believes that the attacker is using or about to use deadly physical force or inflicting or about to inflict great bodily harm.
Additionally, a person is not justified in using deadly physical force if he knows he can avoid doing so with complete safety by:
1. retreating, except from his home or office in cases where he was not the initial aggressor or except in cases where he a peace officer, special policeman, or a private individual assisting a peace officer or special policeman at the officer's directions regarding an arrest or preventing an escape;
2. surrendering possession to property the aggressor claims to own; or
3. obeying a demand that he not take an action he is not otherwise required to take.
Lastly, a person is not justified in using physical force when (1) with intent to cause physical injury or death to another person, he provokes the person to use physical force, (2) use of such force was the product of a combat by agreement not specifically authorized by law, or (3) he is the initial aggressor (unless he withdraws from the encounter, effectively communicates this intent to the other person, and the other person continues to or threatens to use physical force) (CGS § 53a-19).
Physical Force in Defense of Premises
A person who possesses or controls property or has a license or privilege to be in or on it is justified in using reasonable physical force when and to the extent he reasonably believes it to be necessary to stop another from trespassing or attempting to trespass in or upon it. The owner can use deadly physical force only (1) to defend a person as described above, (2) when he reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent the trespasser from attempting to commit arson or any violent crime, or (3) to the extent he reasonably believes it is necessary to stop someone from forcibly entering his home or workplace (and for the sole purpose of stopping the intruder) (CGS § 53a-20).
Physical Force in Defense of Property
A person is justified in using reasonable physical force when and to the extent he reasonably believes it necessary to (1) prevent attempted larceny or criminal mischief involving property or (2) regain property that he reasonably believes was stolen shortly before.
When defending property, deadly force may be used only when it is necessary to defend a person from the use or imminent use of deadly physical force or infliction or imminent infliction of great bodily harm as described above (CGS § 53a-21).
Supreme Court Decision on Self Defense
In 1984, the Connecticut Supreme Court articulated the test for determining the degree of force warranted in a given case. Whether or not a person was justified in using force to protect his person or property is a question of fact that focuses on what the person asserting the defense reasonably believed under the circumstances (State v. DeJesus, 194 Conn. 376, 389 (1984)). The test for the degree of force in self-defense is a subjective-objective one. The jury must view the situation from the defendant's perspective; this is the subjective component. The jury must then decide whether the defendant's belief was reasonable (DeJesus at 389 n. 13).
, , , ,
, , , ,http://www.tennesseefirearms.com/download/memosb0011.pdf
This can, and should be, amended next session with the corrections TFA Executive Director, John Harris, outlines above.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Risk of Failed State?
on: May 14, 2008, 12:44:06 PM
May 13, 2008
Mexico: On the Road to a Failed State?
By George Friedman
Edgar Millan Gomez was shot dead in his own home in Mexico City on May 8. Millan Gomez was the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in Mexico, responsible for overseeing most of Mexico's counternarcotics efforts. He orchestrated the January arrest of one of the leaders of the Sinaloa cartel, Alfredo Beltran Leyva. (Several Sinaloa members have been arrested in Mexico City since the beginning of the year.) The week before, Roberto Velasco Bravo died when he was shot in the head at close range by two armed men near his home in Mexico City. He was the director of organized criminal investigations in a tactical analysis unit of the federal police. The Mexican government believes the Sinaloa drug cartel ordered the assassinations of Velasco Bravo and Millan Gomez. Combined with the assassination of other federal police officials in Mexico City, we now see a pattern of intensifying warfare in Mexico City.
The fighting also extended to the killing of the son of the Sinaloa cartel leader, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, who was killed outside a shopping center in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state. Also killed was the son of reputed top Sinaloa money launderer Blanca Margarita Cazares Salazar in an attack carried out by 40 gunmen. According to sources, Los Zetas, the enforcement arm of the rival Gulf cartel, carried out the attack. Reports also indicate a split between Sinaloa and a resurgent Juarez cartel, which also could have been behind the Millan Gomez killing.
Violence along the U.S.-Mexican border has been intensifying for several years, and there have been attacks in Mexico City. But last week was noteworthy not so much for the body count, but for the type of people being killed. Very senior government police officials in Mexico City were killed along with senior Sinaloa cartel operatives in Sinaloa state. In other words, the killings are extending from low-level operatives to higher-ranking ones, and the attacks are reaching into enemy territory, so to speak. Mexican government officials are being killed in Mexico City, Sinaloan operatives in Sinaloa. The conflict is becoming more intense and placing senior officials at risk.
The killings pose a strategic problem for the Mexican government. The bulk of its effective troops are deployed along the U.S. border, attempting to suppress violence and smuggling among the grunts along the border, as well as the well-known smuggling routes elsewhere in the country. The attacks in Mexico raise the question of whether forces should be shifted from these assignments to Mexico City to protect officials and break up the infrastructure of the Sinaloa and other cartels there. The government also faces the secondary task of suppressing violence between cartels. The Sinaloa cartel struck in Mexico City not only to kill troublesome officials and intimidate others, but also to pose a problem for the Mexican government by increasing areas requiring forces, thereby requiring the government to consider splitting its forces — thus reducing the government presence along the border. It was a strategically smart move by Sinaloa, but no one has accused the cartels of being stupid.
Mexico now faces a classic problem. Multiple, well-armed organized groups have emerged. They are fighting among themselves while simultaneously fighting the government. The groups are fueled by vast amounts of money earned via drug smuggling to the United States. The amount of money involved — estimated at some $40 billion a year — is sufficient to increase tension between these criminal groups and give them the resources to conduct wars against each other. It also provides them with resources to bribe and intimidate government officials. The resources they deploy in some ways are superior to the resources the government employs.
Given the amount of money they have, the organized criminal groups can be very effective in bribing government officials at all levels, from squad leaders patrolling the border to high-ranking state and federal officials. Given the resources they have, they can reach out and kill government officials at all levels as well. Government officials are human; and faced with the carrot of bribes and the stick of death, even the most incorruptible is going to be cautious in executing operations against the cartels.
Toward a Failed State?
There comes a moment when the imbalance in resources reverses the relationship between government and cartels. Government officials, seeing the futility of resistance, effectively become tools of the cartels. Since there are multiple cartels, the area of competition ceases to be solely the border towns, shifting to the corridors of power in Mexico City. Government officials begin giving their primary loyalty not to the government but to one of the cartels. The government thus becomes both an arena for competition among the cartels and an instrument used by one cartel against another. That is the prescription for what is called a "failed state" — a state that no longer can function as a state. Lebanon in the 1980s is one such example.
There are examples in American history as well. Chicago in the 1920s was overwhelmed by a similar process. Smuggling alcohol created huge pools of money on the U.S. side of the border, controlled by criminals both by definition (bootlegging was illegal) and by inclination (people who engage in one sort of illegality are prepared to be criminals, more broadly understood). The smuggling laws gave these criminals huge amounts of power, which they used to intimidate and effectively absorb the city government. Facing a choice between being killed or being enriched, city officials chose the latter. City government shifted from controlling the criminals to being an arm of criminal power. In the meantime, various criminal gangs competed with each other for power.
Chicago had a failed city government. The resources available to the Chicago gangs were limited, however, and it was not possible for them to carry out the same function in Washington. Ultimately, Washington deployed resources in Chicago and destroyed one of the main gangs. But if Al Capone had been able to carry out the same operation in Washington as he did in Chicago, the United States could have become a failed state.
It is important to point out that we are not speaking here of corruption, which exists in all governments everywhere. Instead, we are talking about a systematic breakdown of the state, in which government is not simply influenced by criminals, but becomes an instrument of criminals — either simply an arena for battling among groups or under the control of a particular group. The state no longer can carry out its primary function of imposing peace, and it becomes helpless, or itself a direct perpetrator of crime. Corruption has been seen in Washington — some triggered by organized crime, but never state failure.
The Mexican state has not yet failed. If the activities of the last week have become a pattern, however, we must begin thinking about the potential for state failure. The killing of Millan Gomez transmitted a critical message: No one is safe, no matter how high his rank or how well protected, if he works against cartel interests. The killing of El Chapo's son transmitted the message that no one in the leading cartel is safe from competing gangs, no matter how high his rank or how well protected.
The killing of senior state police officials causes other officials to recalculate their attitudes. The state is no longer seen as a competent protector, and being a state official is seen as a liability — potentially a fatal liability — unless protection is sought from a cartel, a protection that can be very lucrative indeed for the protector. The killing of senior cartel members intensifies conflict among cartels, making it even more difficult for the government to control the situation and intensifying the movement toward failure.
It is important to remember that Mexico has a tradition of failed governments, particularly in the 19th and early 20th century. In those periods, Mexico City became an arena for struggle among army officers and regional groups straddling the line between criminal and political. The Mexican army became an instrument in this struggle and its control a prize. The one thing missing was the vast amounts of money at stake. So there is a tradition of state failure in Mexico, and there are higher stakes today than before.
The Drug Trade's High Stakes
To benchmark the amount at stake, assume that the total amount of drug trafficking is $40 billion, a frequently used figure, but hardly an exact one by any means. In 2007, Mexico exported about $210 billion worth of goods to the United States and imported about $136 billion from the United States. If the drug trade is $40 billion dollars, it represents about 25 percent of all exports to the United States. That in itself is huge, but what makes it more important is that while the $210 billion is divided among many businesses and individuals, the $40 billion is concentrated in the hands of a few, fairly tightly controlled cartels. Sinaloa and Gulf, currently the strongest, have vast resources at their disposal; a substantial part of the economy can be controlled through this money. This creates tremendous instability as other cartels vie for the top spot, with the state lacking the resources to control the situation and having its officials seduced and intimidated by the cartels.
We have seen failed states elsewhere. Colombia in the 1980s failed over the same issue — drug money. Lebanon failed in the 1970s and 1980s. The Democratic Republic of the Congo was a failed state.
Mexico's potential failure is important for three reasons. First, Mexico is a huge country, with a population of more than 100 million. Second, it has a large economy — the 14th-largest in the world. And third, it shares an extended border with the world's only global power, one that has assumed for most of the 20th century that its domination of North America and control of its borders is a foregone conclusion. If Mexico fails, there are serious geopolitical repercussions. This is not simply a criminal matter.
The amount of money accumulated in Mexico derives from smuggling operations in the United States. Drugs go one way, money another. But all the money doesn't have to return to Mexico or to third-party countries. If Mexico fails, the leading cartels will compete in the United States, and that competition will extend to the source of the money as well. We have already seen cartel violence in the border areas of the United States, but this risk is not limited to that. The same process that we see under way in Mexico could extend to the United States; logic dictates that it would.
The current issue is control of the source of drugs and of the supply chain that delivers drugs to retail customers in the United States. The struggle for control of the source and the supply chain also will involve a struggle for control of markets. The process of intimidation of government and police officials, as well as bribing them, can take place in market towns such as Los Angeles or Chicago, as well as production centers or transshipment points.
Cartel Incentives for U.S. Expansion
That means there are economic incentives for the cartels to extend their operations into the United States. With those incentives comes intercartel competition, and with that competition comes pressure on U.S. local, state and, ultimately, federal government and police functions. Were that to happen, the global implications obviously would be stunning. Imagine an extreme case in which the Mexican scenario is acted out in the United States. The effect on the global system economically and politically would be astounding, since U.S. failure would see the world reshaping itself in startling ways.
Failure for the United States is much harder than for Mexico, however. The United States has a gross domestic product of about $14 trillion, while Mexico's economy is about $900 billion. The impact of the cartels' money is vastly greater in Mexico than in the United States, where it would be dwarfed by other pools of money with a powerful interest in maintaining U.S. stability. The idea of a failed American state is therefore far-fetched.
Less far-fetched is the extension of a Mexican failure into the borderlands of the United States. Street-level violence already has crossed the border. But a deeper, more-systemic corruption — particularly on the local level — could easily extend into the United States, along with paramilitary operations between cartels and between the Mexican government and cartels.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently visited Mexico, and there are potential plans for U.S. aid in support of Mexican government operations. But if the Mexican government became paralyzed and couldn't carry out these operations, the U.S. government would face a stark and unpleasant choice. It could attempt to protect the United States from the violence defensively by sealing off Mexico or controlling the area north of the border more effectively. Or, as it did in the early 20th century, the United States could adopt a forward defense by sending U.S. troops south of the border to fight the battle in Mexico.
There have been suggestions that the border be sealed. But Mexico is the United States' third-largest customer, and the United States is Mexico's largest customer. This was the case well before NAFTA, and has nothing to do with treaties and everything to do with economics and geography. Cutting that trade would have catastrophic effects on both sides of the border, and would guarantee the failure of the Mexican state. It isn't going to happen.
The Impossibility of Sealing the Border
So long as vast quantities of goods flow across the border, the border cannot be sealed. Immigration might be limited by a wall, but the goods that cross the border do so at roads and bridges, and the sheer amount of goods crossing the border makes careful inspection impossible. The drugs will come across the border embedded in this trade as well as by other routes. So will gunmen from the cartel and anything else needed to take control of Los Angeles' drug market.
A purely passive defense won't work unless the economic cost of blockade is absorbed. The choices are a defensive posture to deal with the battle on American soil if it spills over, or an offensive posture to suppress the battle on the other side of the border. Bearing in mind that Mexico is not a small country and that counterinsurgency is not the United States' strong suit, the latter is a dangerous game. But the first option isn't likely to work either.
One way to deal with the problem would be ending the artificial price of drugs by legalizing them. This would rapidly lower the price of drugs and vastly reduce the money to be made in smuggling them. Nothing hurt the American cartels more than the repeal of Prohibition, and nothing helped them more than Prohibition itself. Nevertheless, from an objective point of view, drug legalization isn't going to happen. There is no visible political coalition of substantial size advocating this solution. Therefore, U.S. drug policy will continue to raise the price of drugs artificially, effective interdiction will be impossible, and the Mexican cartels will prosper and make war on each other and on the Mexican state.
We are not yet at the worst-case scenario, and we may never get there. Mexican President Felipe Calderon, perhaps with assistance from the United States, may devise a strategy to immunize his government from intimidation and corruption and take the war home to the cartels. This is a serious possibility that should not be ruled out. Nevertheless, the events of last week raise the serious possibility of a failed state in Mexico. That should not be taken lightly, as it could change far more than Mexico.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Maliki's Victory
on: May 14, 2008, 08:33:21 AM
May 14, 2008; Page A20
When Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered a military offensive against rogue Shiite militias in March, it was widely panned as a failure that was one more reason the U.S. needed to abandon Iraqis to their own "civil war." Well, several weeks later the battle for Basra and Baghdad against Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army looks to be both a military and political success.
Mr. Maliki took a big risk when he decided to move against his fellow Shiites to reclaim Basra for the government. Iraqi troops were untested for such a complex, divisional-level operation and, in hindsight, their battle plans were too hastily drawn. The early setbacks might easily have emboldened Mr. Sadr, caused the Iraqi army to crumble and led to the end of Mr. Maliki's government.
Instead, Mr. Maliki and Iraqi forces persevered. And two months later, hundreds of Mahdi Army fighters have been arrested and weapons caches found. Following the model of the U.S. surge in Baghdad, Basra's streets are far safer thanks to the visible presence of 33,000 Iraqi troops. The Mahdi vice squads that terrorized the city's population are gone. The U.S. and Britain provided air support during the early stages of the operation, and continue to provide advisory support. But the Basra operation has clearly been an Iraqi success.
Something similar also seems to be happening in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood, long a stronghold for the Mahdi Army. Initial press reports have suggested the battle has mostly come out a draw. But a 14-point "truce" between the government and the Mahdists (brokered last week by Iran) suggests otherwise. Among other details reported in the press, the agreement requires the Mahdi Army to abandon its heavy and medium weapons, end its shelling of Baghdad's Green Zone, shut down its kangaroo courts and recognize the authority of Iraqi law. In exchange, the government seems to have promised mainly that it would not arrest lower-level militia members.
If the truce holds, it would bring to an end weeks of fighting that has killed hundreds of Mr. Sadr's militant followers. The agreement doesn't take account of the Iranian "special groups" that are operating alongside the Mahdi Army, which can be activated to target Iraqi and American troops at any time. But the fact that Iran arranged the truce (and so far has made it stick) exposes the pretense that Tehran is an innocent bystander in the war for Iraq.
The truce suggests, instead, that Iran has grudgingly come to respect Mr. Maliki as a serious opponent. Having invested itself so heavily in Mr. Sadr's success, Tehran had little reason to suddenly lend its diplomatic offices unless it felt the Mahdi Army was on the verge of defeat. Last week's truce may have postponed that moment, but there's little doubt Mr. Sadr's movement has suffered an embarrassing defeat.
However fitfully it began, the Basra campaign is a sign that Iraqis are in fact "standing up" for their own security. It is also a personal vindication for Mr. Maliki, who recognized to his credit that his government had to have a monopoly on violence in Shiite neighborhoods as much as in Sunni enclaves.
In the last year we were told first that the surge was a military failure, and later that it was a military success but that Iraq's political class had not lived up to its end of the bargain. In fact, just as surge supporters said, the Iraqis have become more confident and effective the more they have become convinced that the U.S. was not going to cut and run.
See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mex police seek asylum
on: May 14, 2008, 08:19:47 AM
May 14, 2008
WASHINGTON - Three Mexican police chiefs have requested political asylum in the U.S. as violence escalates in the Mexican drug wars and spills across the U.S. border, a top Homeland Security official told The Associated Press.
In the past few months, the police officials have shown up at the U.S. border, fearing for their lives, according to Jayson Ahern, the deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.
"They're basically abandoned by their police officers or police departments in many cases," Ahern told AP.
Ahern said the Mexican officials - whom he didn't name - are being interviewed and their cases are under review for possible asylum.
In the most recent high-level assassination, a top-ranking official on a local Mexican police force was shot more than 50 times and killed. Drug-related violence killed more than 2,500 people last year alone in Mexico.
"It's almost like a military fight," Ahern said Tuesday. "I don't think that generally the American public has any sense of the level of violence that occurs on the border."
As the cartels fight for territory, this carnage spills over to the U.S., Ahern said - from bullet-ridden people stumbling into U.S. territory, to rounds of ammunition coming across U.S. entry ports.
U.S. humvees retrofitted with steel mesh over the glass windows patrol parts of the border to protect agents against guns shots and large rocks regularly thrown at them. At times agents are pinned down by sniper fire as people try to illegally cross into the U.S.
Mexico's drug cartels have long divided the border, with each controlling key cities. But over the past decade Mexico has arrested or killed many of the gangs' top leaders, creating a power vacuum and throwing lucrative drug routes up for the taking.
President Felipe Calderon, who took office in December 2006, responded by deploying more than 24,000 soldiers and federal police to areas where the government had lost control. Cartels have reacted with unprecedented violence, beheading police and killing soldiers.
In general, violence along the U.S. border has gone up over the years. Seven frontline border agents were killed in 2007, and two so far in 2008. Assaults against officers have also shot up from 335 in fiscal 2001 to 987 in fiscal 2007.
There have been 362 assaults against officers during the first four months of 2008, according to Border Patrol statistics. The pattern has been that when more security resources are deployed along the U.S. border, violence against officers spike in response.
Most assaults are along the San Diego and Calexico, Calif., border, as well as the Arizona border near Yuma and south of Tucson.
Now, about 14,000 U.S. border agents work on the southern border, up from more than 9,000 in 2001.
The Bush administration has requested $500 million to fight drug crime in Mexico. Congress is currently considering the proposal.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / T. Friedman: The New Cold War
on: May 14, 2008, 07:55:03 AM
The New Cold War
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: May 14, 2008
The next American president will inherit many foreign policy challenges, but surely one of the biggest will be the cold war. Yes, the next president is going to be a cold-war president — but this cold war is with Iran.
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Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Thomas L. Friedman
Go to Columnist Page » That is the real umbrella story in the Middle East today — the struggle for influence across the region, with America and its Sunni Arab allies (and Israel) versus Iran, Syria and their non-state allies, Hamas and Hezbollah. As the May 11 editorial in the Iranian daily Kayhan put it, “In the power struggle in the Middle East, there are only two sides: Iran and the U.S.”
For now, Team America is losing on just about every front. How come? The short answer is that Iran is smart and ruthless, America is dumb and weak, and the Sunni Arab world is feckless and divided. Any other questions?
The outrage of the week is the Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah attempt to take over Lebanon. Hezbollah thugs pushed into Sunni neighborhoods in West Beirut, focusing particular attention on crushing progressive news outlets like Future TV, so Hezbollah’s propaganda machine could dominate the airwaves. The Shiite militia Hezbollah emerged supposedly to protect Lebanon from Israel. Having done that, it has now turned around and sold Lebanon to Syria and Iran.
All of this is part of what Ehud Yaari, one of Israel’s best Middle East watchers, calls “Pax Iranica.” In his April 28 column in The Jerusalem Report, Mr. Yaari pointed out the web of influence that Iran has built around the Middle East — from the sway it has over Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, to its ability to manipulate virtually all the Shiite militias in Iraq, to its building up of Hezbollah into a force — with 40,000 rockets — that can control Lebanon and threaten Israel should it think of striking Tehran, to its ability to strengthen Hamas in Gaza and block any U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace.
“Simply put,” noted Mr. Yaari, “Tehran has created a situation in which anyone who wants to attack its atomic facilities will have to take into account that this will lead to bitter fighting” on the Lebanese, Palestinian, Iraqi and Persian Gulf fronts. That is a sophisticated strategy of deterrence.
The Bush team, by contrast, in eight years has managed to put America in the unique position in the Middle East where it is “not liked, not feared and not respected,” writes Aaron David Miller, a former Mideast negotiator under both Republican and Democratic administrations, in his provocative new book on the peace process, titled “The Much Too Promised Land.”
“We stumbled for eight years under Bill Clinton over how to make peace in the Middle East, and then we stumbled for eight years under George Bush over how to make war there,” said Mr. Miller, and the result is “an America that is trapped in a region which it cannot fix and it cannot abandon.”
Look at the last few months, he said: President Bush went to the Middle East in January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice went in February, Vice President Dick Cheney went in March, the secretary of state went again in April, and the president is there again this week. After all that, oil prices are as high as ever and peace prospects as low as ever. As Mr. Miller puts it, America right now “cannot defeat, co-opt or contain” any of the key players in the region.
The big debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is over whether or not we should talk to Iran. Obama is in favor; Clinton has been against. Alas, the right question for the next president isn’t whether we talk or don’t talk. It’s whether we have leverage or don’t have leverage.
When you have leverage, talk. When you don’t have leverage, get some — by creating economic, diplomatic or military incentives and pressures that the other side finds too tempting or frightening to ignore. That is where the Bush team has been so incompetent vis-à-vis Iran.
The only weaker party is the Sunni Arab world, which is either so drunk on oil it thinks it can buy its way out of any Iranian challenge or is so divided it can’t make a fist to protect its own interests — or both.
We’re not going to war with Iran, nor should we. But it is sad to see America and its Arab friends so weak they can’t prevent one of the last corners of decency, pluralism and openness in the Arab world from being snuffed out by Iran and Syria. The only thing that gives me succor is the knowledge that anyone who has ever tried to dominate Lebanon alone — Maronites, Palestinians, Syrians, Israelis — has triggered a backlash and failed.
“Lebanon is not a place anyone can control without a consensus, without bringing everybody in,” said the Lebanese columnist Michael Young. “Lebanon has been a graveyard for people with grand projects.” In the Middle East, he added, your enemies always seem to “find a way of joining together and suddenly making things very difficult for you.”
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYTimes: Dangers Foreign Visitors face
on: May 14, 2008, 07:49:15 AM
Italian’s Detention Illustrates Dangers Foreign Visitors Face
By NINA BERNSTEIN
Published: May 14, 2008
He was a carefree Italian with a recent law degree from a Roman university. She was “a totally Virginia girl,” as she puts it, raised across the road from George Washington’s home. Their romance, sparked by a 2006 meeting in a supermarket in Rome, soon brought the Italian, Domenico Salerno, on frequent visits to Alexandria, Va., where he was welcomed like a favorite son by the parents and neighbors of his girlfriend, Caitlin Cooper.
But on April 29, when Mr. Salerno, 35, presented his passport at Washington Dulles International Airport, a Customs and Border Protection agent refused to let him into the United States. And after hours of questioning, agents would not let him travel back to Rome, either; over his protests in fractured English, he said, they insisted that he had expressed a fear of returning to Italy and had asked for asylum.
Ms. Cooper, 23, who had promised to show her boyfriend another side of her country on this visit — meaning Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon — eventually learned that he had been sent in shackles to a rural Virginia jail. And there he remained for more than 10 days, locked up without charges or legal recourse while Ms. Cooper, her parents and their well-connected neighbors tried everything to get him out.
Mr. Salerno’s case may be extreme, but it underscores the real but little-known dangers that many travelers from Europe and other first-world nations face when they arrive in the United States — problems that can startle Americans as much as their foreign visitors.
“We have a lot of government people here and lobbyists and lawyers and very educated, very savvy Washingtonians,” said Jim Cooper, Ms. Cooper’s father, a businessman, describing the reaction in his neighborhood, the Wessynton subdivision of Alexandria. “They were pretty shocked that the government could do this sort of thing, because it doesn’t happen that often, except to people you never hear about, like Haitians and Guatemalans.”
Each year, thousands of would-be visitors from 27 so-called visa waiver countries are turned away when they present their passports, said Angelica De Cima, a spokeswoman for Customs and Border Protection, who said she could not discuss any individual case. In the last seven months, 3,300 people have been rejected and more than 8 million admitted, she said.
Though citizens of those nations do not need visas to enter the United States for as long as 90 days, their admission is up to the discretion of border agents. There are more than 60 grounds for finding someone inadmissible, including a hunch that the person plans to work or immigrate, or evidence of an overstay, however brief, on an earlier visit.
While those turned away are generally sent home on the next flight, “there are occasional circumstances which require further detention to review their cases,” Ms. De Cima said. And because such “arriving aliens” are not considered to be in the United States at all, even if they are in custody, they have none of the legal rights that even illegal immigrants can claim.
Government officials have acknowledged that intensified security since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has sometimes led to the heavy-handed treatment of foreigners caught in a bureaucratic tangle or paperwork errors. But despite encouraging officers to resolve such cases quickly, excesses continue to come to light.
One recent case involved an Icelandic woman who was refused entry at Kennedy Airport because, a dozen years earlier, she had overstayed her visa by three weeks. The woman, Erla Osk Arnardottir Lillendahl, was deported Dec. 10 after what she described as 24 hours of interrogation and humiliating treatment — locked in a cell and barred from making phone calls. The Department of Homeland Security later issued a letter of regret.
In questioning Mr. Salerno, customs agents seemed to suspect that he intended to work here. Ms. Cooper, a copy editor for an educational publication, said she was in the airport lobby when an agent called to ask about Mr. Salerno’s income and why he visited so often.
The youngest son of a prosperous contractor in Calabria, Mr. Salerno helps out in his brother’s law firm in Rome and is able to visit the United States several times a year. Neighbors said he joined volunteers in refurbishing the Wessynton recreation center in 2006, then became one of its summer attractions, kicking a soccer ball with the kids and playing tennis with the adults.
“He just is a very open, fun and helpful guy,” said Christopher M. Porter, a resident of Wessynton.
Ms. Cooper said that at the airport, when she begged to know what was happening to Mr. Salerno, an agent told her, “You know, he should try spending a little more time in his own country.”
Another agent eventually told her to go home because Mr. Salerno was being detained as an asylum-seeker.
“The border patrol officer said to my face that Domenico said he would be killed if he went back to Italy,” she recalled, voicing incredulity that, in his halting English, he could express such a thought. “Also, who on earth would ever seek asylum from Italy?”
Twelve hours later, when Mr. Salerno was granted a five-minute phone call, he called Ms. Cooper and denied saying anything of the kind. Instead, he said, the asylum story seemed to be retaliation for his insisting on speaking to his embassy.
After being turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he was taken to the Pamunkey Regional Jail in Hanover, Va., where he ended up in a barracks with 75 other men, including asylum-seekers who told him they had been waiting a year.
Ten days after he landed in Washington, Mr. Salerno was still incarcerated, despite efforts by Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, and two former immigration prosecutors hired by the Coopers.
“He’s just really scared,” Ms. Cooper said in an interview last Thursday. “He asked me if Virginia has the death penalty.”
Luis Paoli, a lawyer hired by the Coopers, said there was no limit on detention while waiting for an asylum interview. But even after officials agreed the asylum issue had been a mistake, Mr. Salerno was not released.
“Now an innocent European, who has never broken any laws, committed any crimes, or overstayed his visa, is being held in a county jail,” Ms. Cooper wrote in an e-mail message to The New York Times last Wednesday, prompting a reporter’s inquiries.
Less than 24 hours later, immigration officials intervened and arranged to deliver Mr. Salerno to Dulles, where last Friday he flew to Rome. Ms. Cooper, who said she was now considering moving to Italy, was by his side.
Mr. Salerno was still shaken. “In America,” he said, “there are so many good people and beautiful people that don’t deserve to be showing these terrible things to the world.”
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYTImes: Visas for Interpreters
on: May 14, 2008, 07:42:49 AM
When Lt. Col. Michael Zacchea left Iraq in 2005, he was torn. His yearlong mission to train an Iraqi Army battalion had left him wounded and emotionally drained, and he was eager to go. But leaving Iraq also meant leaving Jack, his Iraqi interpreter, to face an insurgency that has made a point of brutalizing those who help the Americans.
In their year together the two had, among other things, thwarted an assassination plot and survived the second battle of Falluja. Even before he departed, Colonel Zacchea began working to ensure that Jack would not be left.
“Once the insurgents get a hold of your name, they never let up until they get you,” Colonel Zacchea said.
It took two years for Jack to get a visa. He is one of the very few to succeed among thousands who have worked as interpreters for the United States military.
To many veterans that is not an acceptable rate, given the risks the interpreters took, and Colonel Zacchea and others are taking up the cause.
They have created a growing network of aid groups, spending countless hours navigating a byzantine immigration system that they feel unnecessarily keeps their allies in harm’s way. There is, they say, a debt that must be repaid to the Iraqis who helped the most. To them it is an obligation both moral and pragmatic.
“It’s like this disjointed underground railroad that exists,” said Paul Rieckhoff, who served with the Army in Iraq as a first lieutenant in 2003 and 2004. Mr. Rieckhoff is now executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which has more than 85,000 members and a Web site at www.iava.org
Leaving an interpreter behind, Mr. Rieckhoff said, is “like leaving one of your soldiers back in Iraq and saying, ‘Good luck, son.’ ”
A Perilous Job
The risk taken by interpreters in Iraq is considerable and widely documented. Those who work for the Americans are often accused of being apostates and traitors. Their homes are bombed. Death threats are wrapped around blood-soaked bullets and left outside their homes. Their relatives are abducted and killed because of their work. And of the interpreters themselves, hundreds have been killed.
But many work in spite of the repercussions, and that dedication resonates clearly for many American soldiers and marines.
While there is no detailed tracking of the total number of Iraqis who have worked as interpreters, their advocates estimate that more than 20,000 people have filled such roles since 2003. In the last quarter of 2007 alone, 5,490 Iraqis were employed by the multinational force as interpreters, according to the Department of Defense.
Nearly 2,000 interpreters in Iraq and Afghanistan have applied to the State Department for a special immigrant visa, which was begun in 2006 as a last resort for those fearing for their lives. So far 1,735 cases have been approved, though it is unclear how many interpreters have come to the United States.
In its first year the visa program for interpreters was limited to only 50 spots. Since then it has expanded to 500 spots a year.
But the numbers tell only part of the difficulty. The program does little to minimize the visa bureaucracy. The process, complicated for anyone, is especially hard for interpreters.
They are considered refugees, and refugees cannot apply from their native countries, in this case Iraq. But Jordan and Syria have closed their borders to the flood of Iraqi refugees. Passports issued by the government of Saddam Hussein are not valid, often making it impossible to cross borders legally.
Among service members who have served in Iraq, there is no dispute that the number of interpreters in danger is far greater than the number of those who have won visas. Many veterans are angry about the bureaucratic hurdles faced by the Iraqis who often came to work with a price on their heads. Many others have for years expressed frustration with the Bush administration for not doing more to help Iraqis who aid American forces, even as other advocates criticize the overall low numbers of Iraqis generally granted visas to the United States.
Gordon D. Johndroe, a White House spokesman, said the government’s hands were initially tied by the lack of federal legislation allowing special visas for interpreters. Now that more visas have been made available, he said, President Bush has directed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, to “make sure the visa process for translators and others moves as quickly as possible.”
Helping Their Own
Lt. Col. Steven Miska, an Army infantry officer, has had more than 50 interpreters work for him during his years in Iraq. After looking into the visa process, he decided that “no Iraqi would ever figure that thing out,” and set his staff members to establish a network. They pair Iraqis with American veterans who help shepherd them out of Iraq, through Jordan and Syria and into the United States.
“Not only is it the right thing to do from a moral perspective, it’s the way to win,” Colonel Miska said, stressing that the assistance will help reassure Iraqis that they can trust Americans despite the risk in helping them.
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Jason Faler, 30, a captain with the Oregon National Guard, was an intelligence liaison officer embedded in the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. After returning from Iraq in 2006 and learning that the lives of two interpreters he had worked with were in danger, Mr. Faler got involved, paying their visa application fees.
To broaden assistance to other interpreters, Mr. Faler established the Checkpoint One Foundation, based in Salem, Ore. The group, whose Web site is at www.cponefoundation.org
, has helped two Iraqi families and one Afghan couple make it to the United States, spending most of the $25,000 it has raised. Even Mr. Faler’s parents have lent a hand, housing both Iraqi families for several weeks.
The foundation has become a second job that at times takes him away from work and family, Mr. Faler said. But he is unwavering in his support of interpreters. “There is a sense of loyalty that is almost impossible for me to articulate,” he said.
Will Bardenwerper, a 31-year-old Princeton graduate, was an Army captain responsible for reconstruction projects in Anbar Province from 2006 to 2007. His interpreter, whom he called Jeff, became a friend and adviser.
Mr. Bardenwerper was so struck by the danger Jeff faced that he began the visa application process for him even before returning to the United States last year. Like others, Mr. Bardenwerper ran into a thicket of red tape. He was particularly frustrated by the requirement that interpreters produce a letter from a general on their behalf. This, he said, was like a junior associate at a Fortune 500 company asking the chief executive for a letter of recommendation.
“Over the course of a year, I might have met two generals,” Mr. Bardenwerper said. “I mean, we were out in a wasteland in Anbar.”
But after a year of follow-up, Mr. Bardenwerper and Jeff finally had a breakthrough. Jeff arrived in America in March and has gotten to visit with Mr. Bardenwerper and other service members who took up his cause.
An Incomplete Ending
Although some veterans have succeeded in bringing their interpreters safely to the United States, the experience of Colonel Zacchea and Jack shows that a visa, while a substantial advantage, does not guarantee a happy ending to a war story.
Colonel Zacchea, who served with the Marines, said he spotted Jack immediately. Jack studied diligently and absorbed the complexities of military translation quickly. An enduring friendship grew around the training regimen and the combat missions. When the sun set each day, they drank chai, or tea, and often talked for hours.
In 2005, after the Colonel Zacchea left Iraq, Jack applied for a Fulbright scholarship. He had been a physics tutor before the war and wanted to teach high school students in the United States, but he did not qualify.
Within a week of the Fulbright rejection, Colonel Zacchea heard about the start of the special visa program. He wrote a recommendation for Jack, who also had a petition filed on his behalf by his American supervisors. But Jack was not accepted.
In March 2006, Colonel Zacchea learned that Arkan, another translator who had worked with them, was killed by insurgents. Two previous attempts on his life had failed, but not the third. Colonel Zacchea kept pushing, and he resubmitted Jack’s paperwork. He stayed in constant contact with Jack, hoping to make sure he did not share Arkan’s fate. After nearly two more years, Jack’s application made it through, and in September 2007 he landed at Newark Liberty International Airport.
But Jack struggled in the United States. The only safety net he had was the one Colonel Zacchea had created. Jack lived in the basement of his home and spent his days searching for work, but satisfaction was elusive. He worked at Macy’s briefly, then in the maintenance department of a hotel.
But because Jack was an Arabic speaker who had been vetted by the military and the Department of Homeland Security, both men held out hope for more — for a career as an interpreter or teacher in the United States. When Jack finally got a job offer, in April, it was one he felt he could not refuse — even though it meant going back to Iraq. The military offered him a one-year contract, loaded with incentives, to return and work as an interpreter again.
After one year, he could return to the foundations he and Colonel Zacchea had laid in Connecticut — all with no change in his visa status. The decision was wrenching: roll the dice in Iraq one more time for a life-changing payout, or continue foundering here.
Reluctantly, and against the advice of people close to him, Jack took the offer. On a rainy night in April they drove to a hotel at the airport in Hartford. Jack’s flight was early the next morning.
Over dinner, Jack tried to explain why he could not stay. “If I had found a job here, a good job when I came, I would, probably,” Jack said, searching for the right words. “I would not go back.”
Six hours later, Jack’s bags were checked and his ticket was in his hand. He and Colonel Zacchea exchanged a few words of farewell, hugged and then parted ways.
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Entrevista
on: May 14, 2008, 07:29:53 AM
No me acuerdo del ano de este entrevista. Posiblement por 1999.
ENTREVISTA A MARC "CRAFTY DOG" DENNY
(Por Ricardo Diez Sanchis)
El Maestro Marc Denny, fundador del grupo mas temido y respetado en la actualidad dentro del mundo del Kali Filipino, los Dog Brothers, visita nuestro pais para impartir unos seminarios acompanado por uno de sus alumnos mas destacados de Europa, Benjamin "Lonely Dog" Rittiner. Adolfo Acosta su representante en Espana organiza estos cursos para acercar esta forma de vida a todos los artistas marciales espanoles.
Personalmente tengo que decir que nunca antes un maestro me habia impresionado tanto: de trato sencillo, siempre accesible a cualquier persona que se acerque a el, inteligente y con ideas muy claras, si teneis ocasion no perdais la oportunidad de pasar unas horas con el en un tatami, pero hasta entonces mejor os dejo con sus palabras:
Ricardo Diez: Voy a empezar con la pregunta de rigor, ?Como y cuando se inicio en las Artes Marciales?
Marc Denny: Despues de mis anos en la universidad, antes de entrar en la facultad de derecho yo tenia unos meses libres y decidi' viajar a Mexico para mejorar mi' espanol, despues de estudiar alli' un amigo mio mexicano y yo decidimos viajar al sur de Mexico, al estado de Chiapas. Eso fue en el ano 1977, ya entonces habia muchas tensiones. Nosotros fuimos testigos de un grave incidente, pues vimos como dos chicos que iban con nosotros fueron agarrados por cuatro hombres del pueblo, entonces hubo una pelea con el resultado que mi amigo y yo pasamos tres dias en la prision, dentro de la prision tambien tuvimos algunos problemillas, si a eso anadimos que yo naci' y creci' en Nueva York donde existe mucha delincuencia en la calle, con todo eso decidi' que necesitaba depender de mi habilidad y no de la suerte, entonces empece' a entrenar Artes Marciales.
R.D.: Imagino que habra' tenido muchos maestros, ?pero a cuales destacara mas?
M.D.: A Guro Dan Inosanto principalmente, tambien hay otros, pero el es un Maestro con una mentalidad libre y abierta, no solo dice a sus alumnos que pueden estudiar con otros maestros sino que les anima a que lo hagan. De los demas mis influencias mas fuertes son Grand Tuno Leo Gaje (Pekiti Tirsia Kali), Guro Edgar Sulite (Lameco Eskrima) soy estudiante en Brazilian Jiu Jitsu de los hermanos Machado, llevo diez anos con ellos, soy cinturon purpura, a pesar que perdi' dos anos por culpa de una lesion muy grave en la rodilla, tambien estudio el arte del Bando.
R.D.: ?A que' cree que se debe el exito de los Dog Brothers en todo el mundo?
M.D.: Que buscamos la verdad desde el punto de vista del corazon, si uno ve nuestro escudo, encontrara' un cerebro, el corazon y el simbolo del infinito, lo cual usamos para representar la testerona. El corazon esta' arriba y el cerebro y la testosterona estan al servicio del corazon. Cuando peleamos no declaramos vencedor y perdedor, porque buscamos mejorar y no necesitamos ser juzgados por los demas, no lo hacemos por premios lo hacemos para nuestro propio crecimiento, "una conciencia mas alta a traves de un contacto mas duro", es una busqueda sincera para encontrar la verdad.
R.D.: ?Porque eligio' el nombre de Dog Brothers para su GRUPO?
M.D.: Cuando el grupo estaba formandose, por el ano 1987, ?ramos cuatro personas con el nombre de Marc, asi' que empezamos a buscarnos apodos; por algo que yo hice me pusieron "Crafty Dog", esa misma noche estaba leyendo un comic de Conan el Barbaro y en la batalla con sus hombres grito': "Vamos a la batalla hermanos perro" y me impresiono' el nombre. Al principio los otros fueron reacios, buscaban nombres como lobos, panteras, tigres, animales mas fieros; pero no somos fieras somos hombres civilizados con la chispa del lobo dentro y en el mundo moderno es facil que se ahogue esa chispa, pero esa chispa es importante porque es posible que el destino te presente una situacion que no se podra resolver solo con palabras y te tengas que enfrentar con lo malo, y lo malo si' existe; en tal caso, siendo hombres con buena moralidad surge la pregunta, ?Como prepararnos para ese dia sin contaminarnos de lo malo? Entonces tenemos nuestras peleas, que son rituales, y descargamos la energia de la agresividad dentro de este espacio ritual pero tambien con el proposito de estar bien preparados por si algun dia nos toca conocer lo malo.
R.D.: Los estilistas mas clasicos del Kali hablan de una nueva forma de entrenamiento, sin embargo ustedes han vuelto a las raices, a los combates sin reglas para descubrir que tecnicas son eficaces o no, ?que' puede decirme sobre esto?
M.D.: Si', pero quiero aclarar una cosa, estan los Dog Brothers que somos un grupo de gente que compite y los Dog Brothers Martial Arts un sistema de muchos estilos del cual yo soy el fundador, ahi' mezclamos las cosas de una nueva forma, pero los elementos siempre han existido, si yo digo que he hecho algo nuevo es mentira, porque todo esta' ya dicho. Creo que tenemos bastantes aspectos distintos de otros sistemas, pero principalmente Dog Brothers Martial Arts es un sistema filipino, aunque no somos puros, hay elementos de Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, hay elementos de Bando, hay elementos de Silat de Indonesia, etc., si yo fuera filipino podria decir el sistema es filipino pero soy estadounidense aunque he de reconocer que si algun dia los filipinos dijeran ese sistema es filipino para mi seria una gran noticia.
R.D.: ?Que' cualidades debe reunir un practicante para entrar en una de sus competiciones (jaurias) con ciertas garantias?
M.D.: Hay que tener inteligencia, coraje y un buen corazon, hay que tener habilidad pero tambien hay que tener deseo de contestar, de forma honrada, a la pregunta que va a plantearnos esa confrontacion. Con ese deseo tienes todo.
R.D.: ?Para Ud. Cual seria el atributo mas importante?
M.D.: Cada luchador tendra' un atributo mejor, algunos tienen una tolerancia al dolor altisima, otros (como es mi caso) podemos trabajar de la misma forma con ambas manos, otros seran rapidos en sus desplazamientos. Cada luchador tiene una forma personal de afrontar el combate, quizas el secreto esta' en enmascarar nuestras debilidades y encontrar las carencias de nuestro rival.
R.D.: ?Que importancia tiene la preparacion fisica en su metodologia?
M.D.: El entrenamiento debe desarrollar la salud, la buena condicion, buscamos tener la habilidad de darlo todo durante dos o tres minutos, que es como ocurrira' en la calle, no queremos una confrontacion de atletas de muchos asaltos, por eso intentamos desarrollar la velocidad explosiva, mucha intensidad durante dos, tres minutos.
R.D.: ?Trabaja la musculacion?
M.D.: Si, pero no en la manera de un "bodybuilder?. Yo busco tener el cuerpo, la estructura de los huesos bien alineada para que haya poca friccion entre ellos a la hora de realizar los movimientos.
R.D.: ?Que' es mas importante: la velocidad fisica o mental?
M.D.: Si tienes la velocidad mental bien estaras bien fisicamente. Todos encontramos siempre a alguien mejor que nosotros, por eso debemos buscar un proceso personal de crecimiento, con esa actitud estas animado siempre, pero si estas limitado a la mentalidad de escalar en una jerarquia, cuando ya no puedes subir mas pierdes la voluntad de seguir entrenando y para mi' las Artes Marciales son para toda la vida.
R.D.: A pesar de estudiar con el Maestro Inosanto, nunca han utilizado el nombre del Jeet Kune Do para lograr una mayor publicidad, ?por que'?
M.D.: Estoy muy orgulloso de ser un estudiante de Guro Inosanto, pero no he buscado usar el nombre de Jeet Kune Do, somos un sistema con la mentalidad de Jeet Kune Do Concepts, con mucho orgullo damos el credito a Guro Inosanto pero eso lleva consigo tanta politica que no necesitamos el nombre para comunicar nuestro mensaje, nuestras acciones hablan por si mismas.
R.D.: ?Que importancia tiene la lucha en el suelo dentro de su sistema?
M.D.: Yo se' que muchas personas nos critican por eso, dicen que es por las mascaras de esgrima que usamos, a veces es cierto que la ocasion no hubiese ocurrido sin la presencia de esa mascara, pero se puede llegar a esa distancia sin recibir un solo golpe en la cabeza. Yo quisiera subrayar que el suelo puede ocurrir mucho mas de lo que opinan muchas personas.
R.D.: ?Hay algun sistema de graduacion dentro de su estilo?
M.D.: Alfonso, el responsable de la organizacion aqui' en Espana, me esta' hablando de eso ahora, estamos trabajando para organizar un paso de grados, pero realmente al final uno es lo que es.
R.D.: ?Que' tipos de armas se ensenan en su estilo?
M.D.: Un palo, dos palos, palo largo, manos vacias y cuchillo, aunque el cuchillo nunca lo enseno en seminarios, unicamente en mis clases, cuando se' perfectamente quien esta aprendiendolo.
R.D.: ?Tiene alguna planificacion especial para dar clase a ninos?
M.D.: No, no doy clases a ninos.
R.D.: Continuamente hablas de formar un corazon guerrero, asi' uno piensa en una confrontacion hombre contra hombre, pero ?tu estilo preparara' para sobrellevar una dura enfermedad?
M.D.: Muy buena pregunta, te voy a contestar con mi' propia experiencia, yo tuve una lesion en la rodilla muy grave, tuvieron que injertarme tres ligamentos de un donante muerto y el doctor me decia: ?Olvidate de luchar. Podras caminar y hacer algun tipo de deporte muy suave" Yo sentia que el camino que yo habia escogido desaparecia, pase tres dias muy deprimido pero luego surgio' la pregunta: ?Que' has aprendido de tus anos en las Artes Marciales?, ?Gusano o guerrero? Escogi' guerrero y con esa decision y el poder de la mente empece' la recuperacion y hoy sigo el camino que en su dia inicie.
R.D.: ?Que' diferencia hay entre su estilo y otros metodos de Kali?, ?Matices tecnicos o una forma de pensar?
M.D.: Evito comparaciones.
R.D.: ?Que' diria a aquellos que piensan que su forma de entrenamiento es una locura?
M.D.: Que tienen razon. Pero hay que entender la pregunta que hiciste, dijiste metodos de entrenamiento y en cierto sentido las peleas son un metodo de entrenamiento, te dan la experiencia de funcionar en un estado maximo de adrenalina pero tambien tenemos maneras de entrenamiento para todas las personas, de cualquier edad, sexo o condicion.
R.D.: Marc, para finalizar ?Deseas anadir algo mas?
M.D: Unicamente agradecer la oportunidad que me ha brindado la revista Dojo para difundir mis ensenanzas y a Alfonso Acosta el esfuerzo que realiza para organizar estos seminarios.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton: The Executive
on: May 14, 2008, 05:56:37 AM
"The ingredients which constitute energy in the Executive are,
first, unity; secondly, duration; thirdly, an adequate provision
for its support; fourthly, competent powers. ... The ingredients
which constitute safety in the republican sense are, first,
a due dependence on the people, secondly, a due responsibility."
-- Alexander Hamilton (Federalist No. 70, 14 March 1788)
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Irena Sendler
on: May 13, 2008, 01:35:36 PM
Fate may have led Irena Sendler to the moment almost 70 years ago when she began to risk her life for the children of strangers. But for this humble Polish Catholic social worker, who was barely 30 when one of history's most nightmarish chapters unfolded before her, the pivotal influence was something her parents had drummed into her.
"I was taught that if you see a person drowning," she said, "you must jump into the water to save them, whether you can swim or not."
Irena SendlerWhen the Nazis occupying Poland began rounding up Jews in 1940 and sending them to the Warsaw ghetto, Sendler plunged in.
With daring and ingenuity, she saved the lives of more than 2,500 Jews, most of them children, a feat that went largely unrecognized until the last years of her life.
Sendler, 98, who died of pneumonia Monday in Warsaw, has been called the female Oskar Schindler, but she saved twice as many lives as the German industrialist, who sheltered 1,200 of his Jewish workers. Unlike Schindler, whose story received international attention in the 1993 movie "Schindler's List," Sendler and her heroic actions were almost lost to history until four Kansas schoolgirls wrote a play about her nine years ago.
The lesson Sendler taught them was that "one person can make a difference," Megan Felt, one of the authors of the play, said Monday.
"Irena wasn't even 5 feet tall, but she walked into the Warsaw ghetto daily and faced certain death if she was caught. Her strength and courage showed us we can stand up for what we believe in, as well," said Felt, who is now 23 and helps raise funds for aging Holocaust rescuers.
Sendler was born Feb. 15, 1910, in Otwock, a small town southeast of Warsaw. She was an only child of parents who devoted much of their energies to helping workers.
She was especially influenced by her father, a doctor who defied anti-Semites by treating sick Jews during outbreaks of typhoid fever. He died of the disease when Sendler was 9.
She studied at Warsaw University and was a social worker in Warsaw when the German occupation of Poland began in 1939. In 1940, after the Nazis herded Jews into the ghetto and built a wall separating it from the rest of the city, disease, especially typhoid, ran rampant. Social workers were not allowed inside the ghetto, but Sendler, imagining "the horror of life behind the walls," obtained fake identification and passed herself off as a nurse, allowed to bring in food, clothes and medicine.
By 1942, when the deadly intentions of the Nazis had become clear, Sendler joined a Polish underground organization, Zegota. She recruited 10 close friends -- a group that would eventually grow to 25, all but one of them women -- and began rescuing Jewish children.
She and her friends smuggled the children out in boxes, suitcases, sacks and coffins, sedating babies to quiet their cries. Some were spirited away through a network of basements and secret passages. Operations were timed to the second. One of Sendler's children told of waiting by a gate in darkness as a German soldier patrolled nearby. When the soldier passed, the boy counted to 30, then made a mad dash to the middle of the street, where a manhole cover opened and he was taken down into the sewers and eventually to safety.
Decades later, Sendler was still haunted by the parents' pleas, particularly of those who ultimately could not bear to be apart from their children.
"The one question every parent asked me was 'Can you guarantee they will live?' We had to admit honestly that we could not, as we did not even know if we would succeed in leaving the ghetto that day. The only guarantee," she said, "was that the children would most likely die if they stayed."
Most of the children who left with Sendler's group were taken into Roman Catholic convents, orphanages and homes and given non-Jewish aliases. Sendler recorded their true names on thin rolls of paper in the hope that she could reunite them with their families later. She preserved the precious scraps in jars and buried them in a friend's garden.
In 1943, she was captured by the Nazis and tortured but refused to tell her captors who her co-conspirators were or where the bottles were buried. She also resisted in other ways. According to Felt, when Sendler worked in the prison laundry, she and her co-workers made holes in the German soldiers' underwear. When the officers discovered what they had done, they lined up all the women and shot every other one. It was just one of many close calls for Sendler.
During one particularly brutal torture session, her captors broke her feet and legs, and she passed out. When she awoke, a Gestapo officer told her he had accepted a bribe from her comrades in the resistance to help her escape. The officer added her name to a list of executed prisoners. Sendler went into hiding but continued her rescue efforts.
Felt said that Sendler had begun her rescue operation before she joined the organized resistance and helped a number of adults escape, including the man she later married. "We think she saved about 500 people before she joined Zegota," Felt said, which would mean that Sendler ultimately helped rescue about 3,000 Polish Jews.
When the war ended, Sendler unearthed the jars and began trying to return the children to their families. For the vast majority, there was no family left. Many of the children were adopted by Polish families; others were sent to Israel.
In 1965, she was recognized by Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust authority, as a Righteous Gentile, an honor given to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Nazi reign. In her own country, however, she was unsung, in part because Polish anti-Semitism remained strong after the war and many rescuers were persecuted.
Her status began to change in 2000, when Felt and her classmates learned that the woman who had inspired them was still alive. Through the sponsorship of a local Jewish organization, they traveled to Warsaw in 2001 to meet Sendler, who helped the students improve and expand the play. Called "Life in a Jar," it has been performed more than 250 times in the United States, Canada and Poland and generated media attention that cast a spotlight on the wizened, round-faced nonagenarian.
After each performance, Felt and the other cast members passed a jar for Sendler, raising enough money to move her into a Catholic nursing home with round-the-clock care. They and the teacher who assigned them the play project, Norman Conard, started the Life in a Jar Foundation, which has raised more than $70,000 to help pay for medical and other needs of Holocaust rescuers.
Last year, Sendler was honored by the Polish Senate and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, which brought dozens of reporters to her door. She told one of them she was wearying of the attention.
"Every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this Earth," she said, "and not a title to glory."
Sendler, who was the last living member of her group of rescuers, is survived by a daughter and a granddaughter.
For more information on Irena Sendler, or to contribute to the Life In a Jar Foundation, go to www.irenasendler.org
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt on High Energy Prices
on: May 13, 2008, 01:32:35 PM
We Can Thank Shortsighted Politicians for High Energy Prices
The starting point of any discussion of America's energy future has to be this: Shortsighted politicians have created the current energy crisis.
For decades left-leaning politicians have advocated higher prices and less energy. They were going to save the environment by punishing Americans into driving less and driving smaller cars. Now their policies have succeeded with a vengeance.
The very left wing politicians who favored a policy of no oil and gas exploration, no use of coal, no development of nuclear power, and no aggressive development of new technologies are now panic-stricken that their policies of higher prices have led to higher prices.
And now the same shortsighted, dishonest politicians who created the crisis are blaming everyone but themselves for the crisis. Because they refuse to be honest about the policies which led to this crisis, they can't be honest about the policies that will lead us out of it.
The politicians want scapegoats. The American people just want solutions.
The Solution? A Pro-Investment, Pro-Creativity, Pro-Production Energy Coalition
Politicians with vision -- working with entrepreneurs, scientists, and engineers -- could rapidly replace
the current shortages and high prices with a flood of new energy at lower prices. And America's current vulnerability to blackmail by foreign dictators could rapidly be turned into virtual independence with a North American energy strategy that includes Canada and Mexico.
The key is to create a new coalition of Americans who favor greater investment, greater discovery, greater creativity, and greater production.
That coalition could lead to a new era of American prosperity with a more prosperous economy, more abundant energy, a healthier environment, and greater national security.
The Current Crisis of High Prices and Limited Supply
The fact is, with leadership that unleashes the potential of the American people, there is no reason why America can't have safe, abundant, and relatively inexpensive energy.
America still has the world's largest supply of fossil fuels. We have more coal than any other country by a huge margin. We have abundant oil and gas reserves. We have the potential for nuclear, wind, solar and biofuels in tremendous quantities.
And, critically, America is still technologically the most advanced nation in the world, despite decades of bad policies. We have the potential for enormous breakthroughs in future technologies such as hydrogen power.
Without Real Change the Energy Problem Will Get Much Worse
The second inescapable fact of America's energy future is this: India and China are realities. As they become more prosperous their people want to have better lives. And having better lives means using more and more energy.
This year Asia bought more cars than the United States for the first time in history. The pressure for more energy on a worldwide basis is going to continue to grow.
The only solutions to the current high prices and scarcity are higher energy supply and/or lower energy demand.
In the long run we will almost certainly find dramatic breakthroughs including electric cars (super hybrids) and hydrogen-powered vehicles.
But in the short and near term, oil is going to remain the primary source of energy for transportation. And any strategy that does not substantially increase the production of oil and the use of coal is a strategy for much higher prices and growing scarcities.
The Left's Strategy is Anti-Oil and Anti-Coal
Yet the current strategy of the left is anti-oil and anti-coal.
It is a recipe for very high prices for Americans who drive.
It is a recipe for higher inflation as the cost of energy is driven through the entire economy.
It is a recipe for growing vulnerability to blackmail by foreign dictatorships.
And it is a recipe for starving poor people in the third world. The price of oil has a much bigger impact on the cost of food than the production of biofuels. Higher oil prices mean higher fertilizer and transportation prices. Combine that with the impact of speculators and really destructive government policies (including the Left's opposition to scientifically improved food production), and you have a formula for starvation for the poorest people.
Americans Support Energy Independence, Innovation, Incentives, and Nuclear Power
At AmericanSolutions.com you can view the Platform of the American People, a collection of 91 planks with the support of the majority of Democrats, independents, and Republicans.
The Platform shows that the American people overwhelmingly agree that we should use our resources to become independent from foreign dictators.
Brazil recently discovered two very large oil fields in the Atlantic Ocean. They are so large that they will make Brazil completely independent from Middle Eastern oil.
This is important because the Minerals Management Service has estimated a mean of 85.9 billion barrels of undiscovered recoverable oil and a mean of 419.9 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered recoverable natural gas in the Federal Outer Continental Shelf of the United States. And that estimate does not include any Brazil-size surprise discoveries.
The Platform also shows that Americans believe deeply in the power of technology, incentives, and innovation to develop new sources of energy and new methods of energy conservation. For example:
"We can solve our environmental problems faster and cheaper with innovation and new technology than with more litigation and more government regulation. (79 to 15)
If we use technology and innovation and incentives we do not need to raise taxes to clean up our environment. (68 to 29)"
And Americans also believe in the safety and reliability of nuclear energy.
"We support building more nuclear power plants to cut carbon emissions. (65 to 28)"
The First Step: Replace Warner-Lieberman with Domenici
In a sign of how out of touch the Congress is with the current realities of the average American, the Senate is planning to bring up the Warner-Lieberman bill. This "tax and trade" bill will be an economic disaster. A better name for it would be "The China and India Full Employment Act" because it is going to raise the costs of doing business in America so dramatically that most future factories will be built outside the United States.
SUMMARY OF WARNER-LIEBERMAN
FINANCIAL COSTS OF WARNER-LIEBERMAN
ESTIMATED JOB LOSS DUE TO WARNER-LIEBERMAN
"Tax and trade" is a more accurate term than "cap and trade" because buried in this bill is a massive tax increase which will lead to a much bigger federal government with much more bureaucracy and a much smaller private sector operating only with the permission of federal bureaucrats.
LEARN MORE ABOUT CAP AND TRADE
At a time when the American driver is already complaining about the cost of gasoline and the American homeowner is beginning to complain about the cost of natural gas and home heating oil, the Warner-Lieberman bill will make those costs much worse.
Instead of turning to Warner-Lieberman, the Senate would send a better signal to the American people by taking up the American Energy Production Act, sponsored by New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici (R)
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE AMERICAN ENERGY PRODUCTION ACT
Where the Warner-Lieberman bill is one more step toward higher prices, more scarcity, and less production, the Domenici Bill is a first step toward trying to increase production.
If the Senate votes to bring up the Domenici Bill, they are beginning to get the message that we want more energy and lower prices.
The Next Steps to Clean, More Abundant, Lower Cost Domestic Energy
After switching focus from the Warner-Lieberman bill to the Domenici bill, here are the next steps toward an energy abundant American future:
Change federal law to give all states with offshore oil and gas the same share of federal royalties Wyoming gets for land-based resources (48%). Today most states get zero royalties from offshore oil and gas development while states like Wyoming reap 48% of federal royalties for its land-based oil and gas. If Richmond, Tallahassee, and Sacramento suddenly had the potential to find billions of dollars a year in new revenues, their willingness to tolerate new oil and gas development with appropriate environmental safeguards might go up dramatically.
Change federal law to allow those states that want to permit exploration with appropriate safeguards to do so. Companies could be required to post bonds to pay for any environmental problems, and a share of the state and federal revenues from new offshore development could be set aside to finance biodiversity and national park projects.
Allow companies engaged in oil and gas exploration and development to write off their investments in one year by expensing all of it against their tax liabilities. This will lead to an explosion of new exploration and development.
Immediately renegotiate the clean coal (FutureGen) project for Illinois to get it built as rapidly as possible (see the chapter in Real Change for rapid contracting techniques with incentives that can reduce construction time from years to months). It is utterly irrational for the Department of Energy to postpone the most advanced clean coal project in America (LEARN MORE ABOUT DOE'S FAILURE ON FUTURE GEN).
Coal is America's most abundant and lowest-cost energy resource. If clean coal technologies can be demonstrated to produce power with virtually no carbon release, then coal becomes environmentally very acceptable. America IS the Saudi Arabia of coal. We simply must fund the most advanced experiment and get on with using our most abundant resource.
Congress should pass a series of tax-free prizes to accelerate innovation in developing new technologies for using coal. The result will be a better environment, more energy independence, and more energy at lower cost. Eliminate half the Department of Energy bureaucracy and turn the money into paying for prizes. America will get a much bigger, faster return on its investment.
Develop a tax credit for refitting existing coal plants. There are a lot of existing coal plants which are going to be around for a long time. The most efficient way to make them more environmentally acceptable is to create a tax credit for retrofitting them with new methods and new technologies.
Pass a streamlined regulatory regime and a favorable tax regime for building nuclear power plants.
Make the solar power and wind power tax credits permanent to create a large scale industry dedicated to domestically produced renewable fuel. A contractor recently told me about a solar project he had planned for the American southwest that is now being built in Spain because he distrusts the American Congress and is tired of it playing games with short-term tax credits. We have enormous opportunities in solar, wind, and other renewable fuels; and they can be developed with a stable tax policy.
Develop long distance transmission lines to move wind power from the Dakotas to Chicago. The potential is there for an enormous amount of electricity generation, but it is locked up geographically because the neighboring states have no reason to be helpful. The Dakotas can generate the power and Chicago can use the power, but the federal government may have to make the connection possible.
Allow the auto companies to use their tax credits for the cost of flex fuels cars, hybrids, and the development of hydrogen cars including necessary retooling for manufacturing. The American auto companies have billions in tax credits, but they have no profits to turn the tax credits into useful money. The federal government could make the tax credits refundable and therefore useful if they were spent on helping solve the energy problem. This would be a win-win strategy of much greater power than the fight over CAFE standards.
Conservation as a Parallel, Co-Equal Strategy with Production
At the same time we work to increase production of energy, we must work to find ways to increase energy conservation. There are a number of steps that can be taken.
Congressman Roy Blunt notes that we currently spend eight times more money on federal subsidies for low income heating than we spend on modernizing homes so they don't use as much energy.
A variety of tax credits should be developed to accelerate maximum efficiency in energy use and to accelerate the replacement of inefficient systems with more modern, more efficient systems.
The Choice is Ours
The time has come for Americans to demand a fundamental change in energy policy.
If we want less expensive gasoline, then we have to demand the policies that will increase the supply of oil and reduce its cost.
If we want a reliable energy policy that reduces our dependence on foreign dictatorships, then we have to demand greater use of American resources and American technology.
If we want these changes to come before we are blackmailed or bankrupted by foreign dictatorships, then we must demand that politicians cut through the red tape, change the bureaucracy, and get the job done.
And if our elected officials want to stick with the current scarcity-producing, high price-resulting energy policies, then its time to retire them for leaders who want more production at lower cost.
The choice is ours.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ
on: May 13, 2008, 11:37:13 AM
Political analysts in both Washington and New York's Staten Island now expect GOP Rep. Vito Fossella not to seek re-election. His media adviser says only he plans to continue working on behalf of his constituents "in the weeks" and months to come. But Mr. Fossella's political future probably became untenable after he revealed he fathered a secret daughter three years ago with Laura Fay, a retired Air Force officer.
It was Ms. Fay who picked him up from jail in Alexandria, Virginia when Mr. Fossella was arrested for drunk driving on May 1, after which the story came out.
Mr. Fossella has been urged to resign by the largest paper in his district, the Staten Island Advance, as well as by the New York Post, the tabloid that is a staple of the island's conservative and largely Catholic voters. The district, which includes a portion of Brooklyn, gave President Bush 58% of its vote in 2004.
But don't look for Mr. Fossella to resign immediately. If he left office before July 1, New York's Democratic Gov. David Paterson would call a special election, which would probably force cash-strapped Republicans to spend $2 million in a potentially losing battle. Even should the GOP win the election, it would likely have to spend a like amount to hold the seat again in November.
Candidates are already lining up for the expected vacancy. On the Republican side. State Senator Andrew Lanza would be a strong candidate but his departure from the State Senate could imperil the slim GOP majority in that body. A more likely candidate is Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donavan, who has close ties to both New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He won re-election last year with 68% of the vote.
Democrats have several potential candidates, including State Sen. Diane Savino and Assemblyman Michael Cusick, a former aide to Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer. But Ms. Savino would also be under pressure from party officials not to run because her departure from the Senate could allow Republicans to capture her seat.
-- John Fund
The Manchin Candidate
Inside the confines of a voting booth today, popular West Virginia Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin will cast a ballot for either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.
Mr. Manchin finds himself in the midst of his party’s most contentious nomination fight in 40 years, and the first nomination fight to reach his state since JFK campaigned there in 1960. But Mr. Manchin has steadfastly refused publicly to endorse either candidate. He's offered to appear at campaign rallies for both. His wife delivered opening remarks at one event that featured a keynote address from Mrs. Clinton. But Mr. Manchin has mainly used the election coverage to boost his state in national media outlets.
More than a few analysts wonder where Mr. Manchin comes down. West Virginia has a hefty proportion of unionized blue-collar workers. It has more senior citizens per capita than nearly any other state. These demographics give Hillary Clinton a near a lock on winning the state's primary. Yet Mr. Manchin is also uniquely suited to be a strong vice presidential candidate under Barack Obama. Mr. Obama would need to move quickly to the political center. He also needs to find a way to win voters he hasn't won in the primaries -- rural, poor and middle class whites. Mr. Manchin's political base of support are West Virginians who own guns, head to church on Sundays and carry union cards in their wallets.
Yet he’s also shown himself to be an effective, practical, moderate reformer. Over his four years in office, he's cut taxes, reformed the state's worker's compensation program and pushed fiscally responsible policies that have left the state in surplus. He brags about the Japanese companies he's attracted to the state. And he has publicly criticized his own party for being in love with "renewable" energy at the expense of coal -- something that could make him appealing to voters given the backlash against ethanol and high food and gas prices.
Going by voter registration alone, West Virginia is a heavily Democratic State. Democrats outnumber Republicans by two-to-one and control the governor's mansion, the state legislature and both U.S. Senate seats. But George W. Bush carried the Mountain State twice in presidential years and Democrats certainly noticed that had Al Gore won there in 2000, he would have won the presidency regardless of the outcome of Florida. Maybe that explains Mr. Manchin’s caginess. Helping to carry West Virginia might earn him a close look as veep by either nominee -- after all, the last Democrat to win the White House without carrying West Virginia was Woodrow Wilson in 1916.
-- Brendan Miniter
Quote of the Day I
"In last Tuesday's North Carolina primary, [Hillary] Clinton got only 7% of the black vote -- a lower percentage than Nixon or Reagan had won in general elections.... No constituency has swung as much over the past few months. The Clintons are used to loving and supporting minorities -- as long as the minorities know their place and see the Clintons as the instrument of their salvation. Obama broke that dependency and that relationship. And that was why the Clintons had to do all they could to destroy and belittle and besmirch him. But in that venture the Clintons are destroying themselves and their legacy and their capacity to bridge the very gaps they now must widen to stay in the race. It is a Clinton tragedy -- and one that most Americans seem slowly, cautiously but palpably determined not to make their own" -- columnist Andrew Sullivan writing in the London Times.
Quote of the Day II
"The Clintons find themselves victimized and under siege. The presidency is being stolen from them. The press is out to get them. They deride elites and champion the masses. They live in a constant state of emergency. But they will endure any humiliation, ride out any crisis, fight on even when fighting seems hopeless. That might sound like a fair summary of how Bill and Hillary Clinton have viewed the past five months. But it also happens to describe what, until now, was the greatest ordeal of the Clintons' almost comically turbulent political careers: impeachment. That baroque saga hardened the Clintonian worldview about politics and helps to explain their approach to this brutal campaign season. The Clintons have been here before, you see. They're being impeached all over again" -- columnist Michael Crowley, writing in the New Republic.
Re-Airing Ronald Reagan
It's been two decades since Ronald Reagan left office and so many young people under 30 have little or no understanding of him or what he represented.
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation hopes to remedy that by producing a series of two-minute radio retrospectives featuring excerpts from the over 1,000 commentaries Reagan did in the 1970s between his years as governor and president. Those radio commentaries, published in annotated form recently, have played no small role in forcing even liberals to have a second look and give the Gipper his due as a thinker and writer. Additional broadcasts will use portions of Reagan's Saturday radio addresses as president.
Harry O'Connor, the original producer of what was called "Reagan Radio," is working with the Foundation to produce the commentaries. Peter Hannaford, who wrote some of the commentaries that Reagan himself did not pen, will provide an introduction to each segment. Each one, while non-partisan in nature, will address an issue such as taxes, terrorism, abortion and the economy and in Mr. O'Connor's words "establish the connection between the classic radio addresses and contemporary issues."
-- John Fund
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia and Georgia
on: May 13, 2008, 11:30:05 AM
Although a clash between Georgia and Russia over the secessionist region of Abkhazia seemed very possible last week as both players positioned troops, a trigger is still necessary before this long-standing feud erupts.
An escalation between Georgia and Russia made it look as if the two countries’ simmering conflict over Abkhazia had reached a breaking point. But the escalation fizzled shortly thereafter given that Tbilisi knows it remains solo in its attempts to fight its larger neighbor — especially after a meeting between Georgian officials and a European envoy May 12.
Intelligence Guidance: Week of May 11, 2008
While the clash between Russia and Georgia has subsided somewhat into its typical stagnation, that does not mean the chatter will stop entirely. Stratfor assumed that a large escalation was occurring that could turn this crisis into a war because both players have moved large numbers of troops into positions on the border of Georgia’s secessionist region of Abkhazia.
For Russia, the troop movement was an easy maneuver. In fact, Russia’s military is nearly 75 percent bigger than the entire population of Georgia. But for Georgia, positioning troops to total a force of 7,500 along Abkhazia’s border was a big deal — or so Stratfor assumed since it knows that Tbilisi understands that a military confrontation with Russia would be suicidal. This is what has kept Tbilisi from acting in the past.
This awareness is what prompted the Georgian government to court Western players for support, especially among the United States, NATO and the European Union. But the United States and NATO have turned a cold shoulder to Georgia. They have no appetite for a Russian confrontation when they have Iraq and Afghanistan still on their plates. While initially the European Union seemed to pay attention, European heavyweights such as Germany and France have continually cautioned against tangling with Russia. They know how easily Moscow can turn off the switch supplying energy to Europe, which is dependent on Russia for 40 percent of its energy intake.
However, this reservation has not stopped European countries from at least reaching out to Georgia on the diplomatic front. On May 12, an envoy from Europe consisting of the foreign ministers from EU president Slovenia and anti-Russian hardliners like Poland, Sweden and Lithuania met in Tbilisi with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. The delegation, though including the Slovene foreign minister, was not EU-sanctioned since most EU members would not support a move on Georgia’s behalf. In fact, Stratfor sources in Georgia report that none of the countries will be sending military or technical support to Georgia, though each plans to extend diplomatic support – a weak substitute for what Tbilisi hoped to garner.
One form of support these European countries can offer Georgia is their ability to veto a resumption of Russian-EU talks. Poland, Lithuania and Sweden all have their own reasons to veto the talks. Russian missile threats against Poland, a prolonged break in oil supplies from Russia to Lithuania and a timber supply crisis from Russia to Sweden are all reasons why European countries might veto the talks.
The European Union says it has been talking with Lithuania to resume the Russian-EU partnership despite the oil crisis. However, with Lithuania saying it will continue its veto policy until both the oil and Georgia situations are resolved, those EU-Lithuanian negotiations do not look promising. Moreover, countries such a Poland or Sweden could also take up the helm of vetoing EU-Russian relations.
Regardless, at least for now, the drama between Georgia and Russia seems at a standstill. Both actors know that outsiders are not going to push the situation. Tbilisi knows it cannot proceed alone and Moscow does not seem eager to invade. Even with troops in place, Stratfor is still waiting for a trigger that could finally break this long-standing feud.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Diarea heading towards fan
on: May 13, 2008, 11:23:51 AM
Mexico Security Memo: May 12, 2008
Stratfor Today » May 12, 2008 | 2046 GMT
a.. Tracking Mexico's Drug Cartels
More High-Level Assassinations
While drug-related violence was widespread around Mexico this past week,
much attention was focused on the capital after two high-profile
assassinations occurred there within two days. In the first, alleged members
of a murder-for-hire gang shot and killed Edgar Millan Gomez on May 8 in his
own home. Millan Gomez was Mexico's highest-ranking federal law enforcement
official, responsible for coordinating much of the federal police
counternarcotics campaign. He reportedly was shot up to eight times at close
range by a gunman armed with two handguns - one of which had a silencer --
who was waiting inside his apartment building. One of Millan Gomez's
bodyguards, who was departing for the evening, was wounded as he apprehended
the gunman. Millan Gomez was the highest-ranking federal official to be
killed since the May 2007 assassination of Jose Nemesio Lugo Felix, also in
The second assassination involved Esteban Robles Espinosa, head of Mexico
City's judicial police anti-kidnapping unit. Robles reportedly was shot nine
times by four gunmen traveling in a vehicle outside his home.
Although no substantial links have been reported, the Mexican government
suspects the Sinaloa cartel was behind these killings. Indeed, Millan
reportedly had orchestrated the arrest of several Sinaloa enforcers in the
capital earlier this year. These killings - as well as the assassination
last week of two federal police officials in Mexico City - also match the
trend reported last week of increasing cartel activity in Mexico City. The
targeting of federal authorities - especially by the Sinaloa cartel - in
Mexico City has been a key aspect of this activity since the beginning of
This past week's assassinations prompted Mexican President Felipe Calderon
and other officials to vow the government would not be deterred in the fight
against organized crime. While this increase in killings in Mexico City puts
the government in the position of needing to respond, it probably will not
fundamentally shift the government's strategy. In fact, it is unclear
exactly how the government will be able to respond in a meaningful way.
Without deploying additional military forces - which Calderon so far has
been reluctant to do - Mexico City is resigned to shifting around the
currently available forces - and this means withdrawing them from ongoing
security operations elsewhere.
This sort of response appears to be precisely the outcome that the Sinaloa
cartel or other criminal groups were hoping for, however. If that is the
case, other officials in Mexico City probably will be targeted. As the
cartel prepares for increased pressure from the Mexican government, which is
about to deploy reinforcements to Sinaloa state, greater violence against
federal authorities in other parts of the country can be expected -
especially if the deployment is large enough actually to negatively affect
the Sinaloa cartel's ability to traffic drugs.
Targeting the Son of 'El Chapo'
The Sinaloa cartel was at the center of another high-profile killing in
Mexico this week, also. The son of Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo"
Guzman Loera was shot and killed outside a shopping center in Culiacan,
Sinaloa state, in an attack reportedly carried out by more than 40 gunmen
traveling in five vehicles. The son of the Sinaloa cartel's top money
launderer, Blanca Margarita Cazares Salazar, also was killed in the attack.
The Gulf cartel's enforcement arm, Los Zetas, carried out the killing,
according to a Stratfor source in Mexico with ties to the law enforcement
community. Recent reports of a split between Sinaloa and a resurgent Juarez
cartel mean Sinaloa has more than one enemy, however. Watching for where
retaliatory attacks are aimed will be perhaps the best way to figure out who
carried out the attack in Sinaloa - the killing of Guzman's son undoubtedly
will prompt strong reprisals by the Sinaloa cartel, which most likely knows
very well who was behind this incident.
a.. The Mexican military launched an operation in Chiapas state involving
aircraft and navy ships looking for boats transporting illegal goods.
b.. Authorities in a remote part of Michoacan state discovered two shallow
graves containing the bodies of three individuals who apparently had been
c.. A tactical intelligence unit of the federal police will be deployed to
Sinaloa state, a state official announced.
d.. The body of a police commander was found with five severed fingers in
Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas state.
e.. Authorities in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, reported the shooting death of
a man who may have been shot more than 100 times.
f.. The second in command of a Chihuahua state police agency was shot dead
by several assailants in her garage in Ciudad Juarez.
a.. One police officer and one gunman died during a firefight between
police and several armed men who had just committed a targeted killing in
Nogales, Sonora state.
b.. Several gunmen shot and killed a police commander in Culiacan, Sinaloa
state. Several stray bullets also struck and killed a civilian bystander at
a nearby gas station.
c.. A police captain in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, died when he was
shot several times while driving his vehicle.
a.. At least seven people died during a firefight between army forces and
armed men in Villa de Cos, Zacatecas state.
b.. Five people were reported wounded after a group of gunmen opened fire
on a police patrol in Culiacan, Sinaloa state.
a.. Four people were wounded in the Pronaf district of Ciudad Juarez,
Chihuahua state, after gunmen traveling in a vehicle shot them.
b.. Mexico's federal security Cabinet met to discuss drug violence in
Sinaloa state; one of the officials present said the government intends to
increase the presence of security forces in the state.
c.. Approximately three armed men shot and killed the bodyguard of the
police chief in Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico state.
d.. A Chinese tourist was stabbed to death by an alleged drug dealer
outside a nightclub in Cancun, Quintana Roo state. The victim was seen
arguing with his attacker moments before he was killed.
a.. Three police officers in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, were wounded
in their patrol car when several armed men shot them.
b.. The chief and deputy chief of police in Sinaloa state resigned their
positions after apparently receiving death threats, media reported.
c.. The local governments of Tijuana and Mexicali, Baja California state,
asked the federal police to send a special anti-kidnapping task force to the
cities in order to combat the increasing incidence of extortion-related
d.. A former political leader in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, was
abducted by a group of armed men. Some reports indicate that a current
government official who was with him at the time was wounded during the
e.. Police in Navolato, Sinaloa state, reported the discovery of seven
bodies with signs of torture. At least one of the victims was a police
f.. A man and his son were shot dead in an apparently drug-related
shooting incident in Palomas, Chihuahua state; more than 60 shell casings
were recovered from the scene.
a.. The second highest-ranking police official in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua
state, died after being shot several times while driving near his home. His
name had been on a hit list left in January at a memorial to fallen police
officers in the city.
b.. A soldier was found alive in Jacona, Michoacan state, bound at the
hands and feet and bearing signs of torture.
a.. Authorities in Huetamo, Michoacan state, reported finding the body of
an unidentified man who appeared to have been shot more than 100 times.
b.. Five people were shot dead in separate incidents in Sinaloa state in
the cities of Culiacan, Salvador Alvarado and Angostura.
c.. The police chief in Amecameca, Mexico state, received a death threat
from a group of several armed men who demanded he discontinue efforts to
halt illegal logging operations in the area.
d.. Five people died in an apparent drug-related shooting incident in
Palomas, Chihuahua state. Authorities reported recovering more than 160
shell casings from the crime scene.
I don't agree with this one. I think for US intervention to be considered
things would have to get A LOT worse than they are now.
Geopolitical Diary: High Stakes South of the Border
May 13, 2008 | 0440 GMT
The Mexican government has arrested five individuals involved in the killing
of Edgar Millan Gomez, Mexico's highest-ranking federal law enforcement
official. The five men allegedly operated on the orders of the Sinaloa
Cartel. The death of Millan Gomez at his home in Mexico City is the latest
example of the escalation of violence in the ongoing war between the Mexican
federal government and the cartels that control large swaths of Mexican
territory. The assassination of such a high-level target clearly puts
increased pressure on the government.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon's boldest initiative upon taking office 18
months ago was the deployment of thousands of troops to combat Mexican drug
cartels. In doing so, he brought the fight to the doorstep of organized
Calderon's efforts in combating the cartels have been notable, as he is the
first Mexican president to challenge cartel control of Mexican territory in
a serious way. But his resources are limited. To tackle the threats and
challenges facing the government, Calderon has shifted troops from one place
to another. But any fundamental ramping up of dedicated troops would strain
The shift of cartel violence into the interior of Mexico, and particularly
into Mexico City itself, has been a gradual trend that Stratfor has observed
over the past year. Cartel involvement - particularly by the Sinaloa
cartel - in the capital appears to have increased noticeably since a failed
attack with an improvised explosive device in February. Millan Gomez's
assassination is the latest example of this trend.
Mexico's continued descent into chaos could have enormous implications for
the United States, with the potential to shift considerable U.S. attention
to the Western Hemisphere.
The economic importance of Mexico to the United States is difficult to
overstate. The potential disruption of trade between the two countries -
particularly relevant at a point when the United States is staring down the
maw of a recession - would be a massive liability for the United States.
U.S.-Mexican trade totaled about $350 billion worth of goods in 2007, making
Mexico one of the United States' largest trading partners.
Now, there is a real danger that Mexico's crime situation could spin out of
control. The cartels need stable supply routes to the United States to
secure their drug shipments, while the government is seeking to stem the
tide of violence that has wracked Mexico for decades. The law of unintended
consequences is in play here, and there is a distinct danger that violence
could further spill over into the United States - disrupting trade flows and
Although the United States may be moving forward with policies like the
Merida initiative, which will lend aid to Mexico's war on the cartels, the
current efforts are limited. U.S. forces are largely preoccupied in Iraq and
Afghanistan. While it would take a great deal to tip the scale toward a U.S.
military intervention in Mexico, we may now be at a point where that has to
be considered given what is at stake.
The last time the United States meaningfully asserted control over a
deteriorating situation in Mexico was in the early 20th century during the
Mexican Revolution, when the United States occupied Veracruz for six months
to protect U.S. business interests. If violence on the border started
hurting the bottom line, the cost of not doing anything would start to
approach the cost of military action. The potential for an escalation of
violence between the cartels and the government spiraling out of control
could tip that balance.
It is unclear what the threshold for U.S. action in Mexico would be. But the
stakes are high. If the United States sees trade flows threatened, and the
security situation deteriorating, Washington might see fit to intervene. And
just because it hasn't done so in a century doesn't mean it will not choose
to do so in the future.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Challenge from China
on: May 13, 2008, 09:20:51 AM
I have mixed feelings about this piece, but post it as representing one POV:
The Challenge From China
By MARK HELPRIN
May 13, 2008; Page A17
Even as our hearts go out to the Chinese who have perished in the earthquake, we cannot lose sight of the fact that every day China is growing stronger. The rate and nature of its economic expansion, the character and patriotism of its youth, and its military and technical development present the United States with two essential challenges that we have failed to meet, even though they play to our traditional advantages.
The first of these challenges is economic, the second military. They are inextricably bound together, and if we do not attend to both we may eventually discover in a place above us a nation recently so impotent we cannot now convince ourselves to look at the blow it may strike. We may think we have troubles now, but imagine what they will be like were we to face an equal.
Beijing: Delegates from China's military attend the annual session of the National People's Congress.
China has a vast internal market newly unified by modern transport and communications; a rapidly flowering technology; an irritable but highly capable workforce that as long as its standard of living improves is unlikely to push the country into paralyzing unrest; and a wider world, now freely accessible, that will buy anything it can make. China is threatened neither by Japan, Russia, India, nor the Western powers, as it was not that long ago. It has an immense talent for the utilization of capital, and in the free market is as agile as a cat.
Unlike the U.S., which governs itself almost unconsciously, reactively and primarily for the short term, China has plotted a long course, in which with great deliberation it joins economic growth to military power. Thirty years ago, in what may be called the "gift of the Meiji," Deng Xiaoping transformed the Japanese slogan fukoku kyohei (rich country, strong arms) into China's 16-Character Policy: "Combine the military and the civil; combine peace and war; give priority to military products; let the civil support the military."
Japan was able to vault with preternatural speed into the first ranks of the great powers because it understood the relation of growth to military potential. A country with restrained population increases and a high rate of economic expansion can over time dramatically improve its material lot while simultaneously elevating military spending almost beyond belief. The crux is to raise per-capita income significantly enough that diversions for defense will go virtually unnoticed. China's average annual growth of roughly 9% over the past 20 years has led to an absolute tenfold increase in per-capita GNP and 21-fold increase in purchasing-power-parity military expenditure. Though it could do more, it prudently limits defense spending, with an eye to both social stability – the compass of the Chinese leadership – and assimilable military modernization.
As we content ourselves with the fallacy that never again shall we have to fight large, technological opponents, China is transforming its forces into a full-spectrum military capable of major operations and remote power projection. Eventually the twain shall meet. By the same token, our sharp nuclear reductions and China's acquisitions of ballistic-missile submarines and multiple-warhead mobile missiles will eventually come level. The China that has threatened to turn Los Angeles to cinder is arguably more cavalier about nuclear weapons than are we, and may find parity a stimulus to brinkmanship. Who will blink first, a Barack Obama (who even now blinks like Betty Boop) or a Hu Jintao?
Our reductions are not solely nuclear. Consider the F-22, the world's most capable air dominance aircraft, for which the original call for 648 has been whittled to 183, leaving, after maintenance, training, and test, approximately 125 to cover the entire world. The same story is evident without relief throughout our diminished air echelons, shrinking fleets, damaged and depleted stocks, and ground forces turned from preparation for heavy battle to the work of a gendarmerie.
As the military is frustrated and worn down by a little war against a small enemy made terrible by the potential of weapons of mass destruction, the shift in the Pacific goes unaddressed as if it is unaddressable. But it is eminently addressable. We can, in fact, compete with China economically, deter it from a range of military options, protect our allies, and maintain a balance of power favorable to us.
In the past we have been able to outwit both more advanced industrial economies and those floating upon seas of cheap labor – by innovating and automating. Until China's labor costs equal ours, the only way to compete with its manufactures is intensely to mechanize our own. Restriction of trade or waiting for equalization will only impoverish us as we fail to compete in world markets. The problem is cheap labor. The solution, therefore, is automation. Who speaks about this in the presidential campaign? The candidates prefer, rather, to whine and console.
We must revive our understanding of deterrence, the balance of power, and the military balance. In comparison with its recent history, American military potential is restrained. Were we to allot the average of 5.7% of GNP that we devoted annually to defense in peacetime from 1940-2000, we would have as a matter of course $800 billion each year with which to develop and sustain armies and fleets. During World War II we devoted up to 40% of GNP to this, and yet the economy expanded in real terms and Americans did not live like paupers.
The oceans have been our battlefields since the beginning; we invented powered flight; and our automobiles still await us on the surface of the moon – our métiers are the sea, air and space. Thus, we have been blessed by geography, for with the exception of South Korea our allies in the Pacific are islands. With Japan, Australasia, our own island territories, and Admiral Nimitz's ocean, we can match and exceed indefinitely any development of Chinese strategic power – which, by definition, must take to the sea and air.
* * *
And there we will be, if we are wise, not with 280 ships but a thousand; not eleven carriers, or nine, but 40, not 183 F-22s, but a thousand; and so on. That is, the levels of military potential that traditional peacetime expenditures of GNP have provided, without strain, throughout most of our lives. As opposed either to ignominious defeat without war, or war with a rising power emboldened by our weakness and retirement, this would be infinitely cheaper.
And yet what candidate is alert to this? Who asserts that our sinews are still intact? That we can meet any challenge, especially when it can be answered with our historical strengths? That beneath a roiled surface is a power limitless yet fair, supple yet restrained? Who will speak of these things in time, and who will dare to awaken them?
Mr. Helprin, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, is the author of, among other works, "Winter's Tale" (Harcourt) and "A Soldier of the Great War" (Harcourt). This piece was adapted from a speech given at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.