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28501  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Super Shia Bloc forming? on: April 21, 2010, 07:34:05 AM
Tuesday, April 20, 2010   STRATFOR.COM  Diary Archives 

Considering a Possible Super Shia Bloc in Iraq
IRAQ SAW PERHAPS THE SINGLE BIGGEST potential speed bump yet since the March 7 parliamentary elections as the winners attempt to form a coalition government. By most measures, the Shia blocs of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law and the sectarian Iraqi National Alliance (which came in second and third in the polls, respectively) appear to be moving toward the formation of a “super Shia” bloc. The Kurdish bloc has pledged to join such an alliance. Taken as a whole, this presents the serious threat that Iraq’s Sunnis may again be politically marginalized.

A super Shia bloc could outmaneuver al-Iraqiya, the centrist, non-sectarian grouping led by former interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. Al-Iraqiya had broad appeal across ethno-sectarian lines at the polls and won the most seats in the election. It was widely supported by the Sunnis, and so its success would bring them to the center of the political process, while its marginalization would risk another political disenfranchisement. In response to the prospects of the super Shia bloc, on Monday al-Iraqiya’s spokeswoman reportedly threatened to withdraw from “the entire political process, including withdrawal from the next Iraqi parliament, if some parliamentary blocs insist on concluding an alliance between them in an attempt to exclude or marginalize [al-Iraqiya].”

This may simply be political maneuvering, and al-Iraqiya is certainly not averse to a brinksmanship strategy if that is what it takes to ensure that it is brought into the ruling coalition. Parliamentary coalition building is often a particularly messy process, even in countries with a long history of it. In Baghdad, this is in many ways the first time it has ever been attempted; the Sunnis largely boycotted the 2005 polls. This led to their disenfranchisement and intensified the insurgency, but dramatically simplified the formation of a coalition government because an entire swath of the population was effectively uninvolved.

Al-Iraqiya could get shut out of the government. It could voluntarily choose to go into opposition. There is no shortage of potential scenarios in parliamentary coalition building, and the Iraqi case this year is particularly intricate.

“Iraq is moving from comparative post-election quietude into a phase of decisive maneuvering.”
The coalition-building process is the dynamic of central importance in Iraq right now. There is still room for all sides to maneuver, but as Iraq inches closer to a firm coalition, there will necessarily be winners and losers. There is little to suggest that the State of Law and Iraqi National Alliance blocs will not be able to agree upon the formation of a super Shia bloc, thus creating a sectarian Shia group rather than the more diverse al-Iraqiya, the single most powerful political entity in the country. With the Kurds’ imperative being to side with the winner, and having already pledged to join the super Shia bloc, al-Iraqiya getting shut out of the ruling coalition is a very real possibility.

And this strikes at the heart of the fate of Iraq. The Sunnis appeared to have made enormous political progress at the polls in March, compared to 2005. Now they face potentially being shut out of Iraqi politics yet again. The Sunnis in Iraq are fractious, and the downfall of al-Iraqiya would not necessarily lead to widespread violence. But the re-emergence of some levels of violence are certainly not outside the realm of possibility, even following the reported deaths of top al Qaeda leaders Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayub al-Masri in Iraq.

But Iraq’s fate is not the only issue in question. A super Shia bloc would provide Iran with substantial influence within the central government of Iraq — something the Turks, Saudis and other Arabs are aggressively attempting to counterbalance, namely by supporting al-Iraqiya. And they are not likely to take any potential marginalization of al-Iraqiya lightly either. After years of violence, most everyone in the region wants a more stable Iraq. But what sacrifices each player in the region is willing to make to facilitate Iraqi stability is another question entirely.

Meanwhile, the formation of the government and the durability of the fragile balance of power and hard-won stability in the country is of central importance for the looming U.S. drawdown of all combat troops, which would see current troop levels halved to 50,000 by the end of August. And even after that drawdown, the only thing that has counterbalanced Persian power in the region since 2003 has been the U.S. military. How Tehran will be managed, especially with what is sure to be a strong Shia presence in any governing coalition in Baghdad, remains an open question.

And so Iraq is moving from comparative post-election quietude into a phase of decisive maneuvering within the country and beyond that will define the existence of Iraq — and the wider region — for years to come.

28502  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Sand Dancer on: April 20, 2010, 05:34:42 PM
28503  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Case Study: A shooting in Philly on: April 20, 2010, 04:26:49 PM
Posted on Sat, Apr. 17, 2010

Temple law student ordered to trial in shooting

Philadelphia Daily News 215-854-5949

Gerald Ung, the third-year Temple University law school student charged with shooting a Villanova University graduate five times in front of the Fox29 studios in January, must go to trial, a Philadelphia judge said yesterday.
Despite arguments during the preliminary hearing from defense attorney Jack McMahon that Ung, 28, acted in self-defense after being confronted by four men, Philadelphia Municipal Judge David Shuter said his ruling was based on the number of bullets fired at vital body parts.

Ung, out on bail, is charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, possession of an instrument of crime, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person in the shooting of Edward DiDonato Jr. at 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 17.

Shuter dismissed two additional gun charges because Ung had a valid handgun permit from his home state of Virginia. Ung has withdrawn from law school and returned to live with his family in Arlington, Va., until his legal case is completed, McMahon said.

DiDonato, 23, son of Center City lawyer Edward DiDonato Sr. and nephew of city Republican leader Michael Meehan, is being treated at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital for paralysis of the bowels, bladder, sexual organs and left foot, said Assistant District Attorney Jan McDermott.

"This is a situation where the gun changes everything. Certainly, there was alcohol involved; both sides were drinking that night. "What years ago may have ended in a fistfight," she added, "unfortunately ended in the paralysis of a 23-year-old kid," she said.

McMahon contended that Ung - who was with two Temple University doctoral-candidate friends - was the victim of drunken bullies at 4th and Market streets.

"Four guys are drunk and they think they can bully anybody they want, say whatever they want and do whatever they want," McMahon said.
"He did not pull out any gun for a long period of time until he was rushed at by another individual," McMahon added.

Just one witness was called to testify yesterday - Seth Webster, one of DiDonato's three friends present at the shooting. After leaving an Old City bar, his group stopped at 4th and Market, where one friend started doing pull-ups on scaffolding, he said.

Ung and a female and male friend soon approached, and the female friend started doing pull-ups as well, Webster said.

Ung became upset and heated words were exchanged, Webster said.

One of the men, Tom Kelly, tried to rush Ung, but the woman with Ung stepped between them and was bumped, Webster said.

At this, Webster testified, Ung pulled his gun, pointed it at Kelly and waved it at him and DiDonato while saying, "Back the f--- up."

DiDonato said, "Who you gonna shoot?" and moved toward Ung, Webster said.

When Ung kicked at DiDonato to keep him back, DiDonato grabbed at Ung's leg, said Webster. As he fell backward, Ung began firing, according to Webster, and fired several more shots from the ground. After DiDonato had fallen, Ung appeared in shock, knelt beside the fallen man, touched his leg and called 9-1-1 on his cell phone, said Webster, who also called.
28504  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Three reads from a different state of mind on: April 20, 2010, 04:15:34 PM
28505  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Dogs walk on sunshine on: April 20, 2010, 03:48:50 PM
28506  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in NYC 6/19-20 on: April 20, 2010, 11:45:33 AM
28507  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Fannie and Freddie on: April 20, 2010, 10:37:05 AM
Now that nearly all the TARP funds used to bail out Wall Street banks have been repaid, the government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stand out as the source of the greatest taxpayer losses.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that, in the wake of the housing bubble and the unprecedented deflation in housing values that resulted, the government's cost to bail out Fannie and Freddie will eventually reach $381 billion. That estimate may be too optimistic.

Last Christmas Eve, Treasury removed the $400 billion cap on what the government might be required to invest in these two GSEs in the future, and this may tell the real story about the cost to taxpayers. In typical Washington fashion, everyone has amnesia about how this disaster occurred.

The story is all too familiar. Politicians in positions of authority today had an opportunity to prevent this fiasco but did nothing. Now—in the name of the taxpayers—they want more power, but they have never been called to account for their earlier failings.

One chapter in this story took place in July 2005, when the Senate Banking Committee, then controlled by the Republicans, adopted tough regulatory legislation for the GSEs on a party-line vote—all Republicans in favor, all Democrats opposed. The bill would have established a new regulator for Fannie and Freddie and given it authority to ensure that they maintained adequate capital, properly managed their interest rate risk, had adequate liquidity and reserves, and controlled their asset and investment portfolio growth.

These authorities were necessary to control the GSEs' risk-taking, but opposition by Fannie and Freddie—then the most politically powerful firms in the country—had consistently prevented reform.

The date of the Senate Banking Committee's action is important. It was in 2005 that the GSEs—which had been acquiring increasing numbers of subprime and Alt-A loans for many years in order to meet their HUD-imposed affordable housing requirements—accelerated the purchases that led to their 2008 insolvency. If legislation along the lines of the Senate committee's bill had been enacted in that year, many if not all the losses that Fannie and Freddie have suffered, and will suffer in the future, might have been avoided.

Why was there no action in the full Senate? As most Americans know today, it takes 60 votes to cut off debate in the Senate, and the Republicans had only 55. To close debate and proceed to the enactment of the committee-passed bill, the Republicans needed five Democrats to vote with them. But in a 45 member Democratic caucus that included Barack Obama and the current Senate Banking Chairman Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.), these votes could not be found.

Recently, President Obama has taken to accusing others of representing "special interests." In an April radio address he stated that his financial regulatory proposals were struggling in the Senate because "the financial industry and its powerful lobby have opposed modest safeguards against the kinds of reckless risks and bad practices that led to this very crisis."

He should know. As a senator, he was the third largest recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, behind only Sens. Chris Dodd and John Kerry.

With hypocrisy like this at the top, is it any wonder that nearly 80% of Americans, according to new Pew polling, don't trust the federal government or its ability to solve the country's problems?

Mr. Wallison is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
28508  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA versus Reality/Survival based skills on: April 20, 2010, 10:32:40 AM
IFWA: In Fight Weapon Access
28509  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: New to the forums.. on: April 20, 2010, 10:29:52 AM
Good to see you here BB  cool
28510  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Kali Tudo...hows it going in mma on: April 20, 2010, 10:29:12 AM
Posted by Minority of One on my FB page:

"People really need to get the Kali Tudo material if they haven't already. I've trained guys in MMA for a while now and have been in the martial arts for over 15 yrs......this Kali Tudo material is by far some of the most innovative stuff out right now in the MA world! It's open the doors of possibility and truly changes the game of fighting. Adding these concepts to my game has really caused new headaches for my sparring partners. "
28511  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Glen Beck on: April 20, 2010, 10:22:53 AM
As he did last night, Beck can look the camera in the eye and speak from the heart for an hour off the cuff.  Don't be fooled by his "regular Joe, self taught" spiel, IMHO the man actuall has a substantial grasp of quite a few issues and does a remarkable job of conveying complex issues to regular people. 

As for the religion thing, I think his larger point, made by being a bit ostentatious about it, is that we do better as individuals and as a people when we look to our spiritual values instead of our government for substance in how to live. 

I like Sarah and she certainly has the right enemies, but I doubt the intellectual heft or the life experiences to prepare for higher office.   Perhaps a term or two in the Senate could give her some more substance.
28512  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: April 20, 2010, 10:11:19 AM
It is not so much "his" point that I posted the piece for as for the reflections in us readers that it triggers.
28513  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Glen Beck on: April 20, 2010, 10:08:44 AM
What on earth is wrong with a prayer session?
28514  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: April 20, 2010, 10:07:37 AM
If I understand correctly the point is this: under the Davis Bacon Act, bids on government work required that contractors using non-union labor pay union scale on the work under that bid.  BO has now gone much further, and simply prevented non-union shops from bidding PERIOD, whether they pay union scale on the work or not.
28515  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / And you thought the Davis-Bacon Act was bad , , , on: April 19, 2010, 09:16:49 PM
Examiner Editorial
April 14, 2010

Barely 15 percent of all construction-industry workers in the United States are union members, while the remaining 85 percent are nonunion, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. So why has President Obama signed Executive Order 13502 directing federal agencies taking bids for government construction projects to accept only those from contractors who agree in advance to a project labor agreement that requires a union work force? Obama's new order applies to all federal construction projects with price tags of $25 million or more, and it means all such contracts will only be awarded to companies with unionized work forces.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

28516  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: April 19, 2010, 08:23:45 PM
He was a lefty-liberal-progressive.   rolleyes
28517  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Head Count for the Tribal Gathering on: April 19, 2010, 08:21:22 PM
20: Dog Mark O'Dell

21: Dog Mark Houston

22: Linda "Bitch" Matsumi
28518  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spring 2010 DB Tribal Gathering on: April 19, 2010, 08:20:51 PM
Uh oh , , ,
28519  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine on: April 19, 2010, 06:22:21 PM
28520  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: April 19, 2010, 06:21:09 PM
Grateful for the sun that shone on me today as I swung my sledgehammer at the big tire.
28521  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A Jew in Prison on: April 19, 2010, 06:12:13 PM

A Jew in Prison
A Reflection on Anti-Semitism on the Yard

David Arenberg had everything going for him. He was smart, the son of a research scientist and a teacher. He graduated in 1980 from the elite University of Chicago with a degree in psychology, and went on to become a left-wing tenants' rights organizer in New York City for seven years. But in 1987, he suffered a "personal tragedy" and a "political defeat" that he doesn't want to discuss but that prompted him to leave his organizing work. Always a moderate drug user, he says, he began abusing cocaine and "generally living a seedy life." His brother tried to rescue him by recruiting him to run a small trucking company in a western state, and for a time Arenberg did all right. But despite that work, and later taking up tenants' rights once more, he continued his drug use and also adopted a new line of work — using computers to engage in sophisticated financial ripoffs. Arenberg was arrested and jailed briefly for forgery in 1996, but only became an even more active con man when he was released. Finally, in 2001, he was arrested for driving under the influence. The arrest led to more serious charges of fraud, forgery, identity theft and vehicle theft, culminating in consecutive sentences totaling more than 13 years. Today, with about four years left to serve, Arenberg, 53, is trying to sort his life out. He sent the Intelligence Report the following account of his experiences as a Jew in a state prison — a harrowing tale of surviving severe prejudice in an unforgiving environment, but also the story of a remarkable journey of self-discovery.

I am always the last person to eat. It's part of a compromise I worked out with the skinheads who run the western state prison complex where I am incarcerated. Under this compromise, I'm allowed to sit at the whites' tables, but only after the "heads," and then the "woods," and then the "lames" have eaten. I am lower on the totem pole than all of them, the untouchable. I should feel lucky I'm allowed to eat at the whites' tables at all.

Not that there's anywhere else I could eat. The prison yard is broken down into five distinct racial categories and segregation is strictly enforced. There are the "woods" (short for peckerwoods) that encompass the whites, the "kinfolk" (blacks), the "Raza" (American-born people of Mexican descent), the "paisas" (Mexico-born Mexicans), and the "chiefs" (American Indians). Under the strict rules that govern interracial relations, different races are allowed to play on the same sports teams but not play individual games (e.g., chess) together; they may be in each others' cubicles together if the situation warrants but not sit on each others' beds or watch each others' televisions. They may go to the same church services but not pray together. But if you accidentally break one of these rules, the consequences are usually pretty mild: you might get a talking to by one of the heads (who, of course, claims exemption from this rule himself), or at worst, a "chin check."

Eating with another race, however, is a different story. It is an inviolate rule that different races may not break bread together under any circumstances. Violating this rule leads to harsh consequences. If you eat at the same table as another race, you'll get beaten down. If you eat from the same tray as another race, you'll be put in the hospital. And if you eat from the same food item as another race, that is, after another race has already taken a bite of it, you can get killed. This is one area where even the heads don't have any play.

This makes it difficult for me, of course, to fit into the chow hall. Jews, as we all know, are not white but imposters who don white skin and hide inside it for the purpose of polluting and taking over the white race. The skinheads simply can't allow me to eat with them: that would make them traitors of the worst kind — race traitors! But my milky skin and pasty complexion, characteristic of the Eastern European Ashkenazi, make it impossible for me to eat with other races who don't understand the subtleties of my treachery and take me for just another wood. So the compromise is that I may sit at certain white tables after all the whites have finished eating. In exchange, I must do free legal work as directed by the heads (Jewish lawyers, even jailhouse lawyers, are hard to come by in prison) and remit to them a portion of the legal fees I collect from everyone else I do legal work for on the yard.

This compromise was brokered by the more "mainstream" Nazis on the yard, the Aryan Brotherhood. They became involved because when I first got here, one of the first cases I handled resulted in my getting a 21-year sentence for one of their members vacated. This gave me instant credibility: even if a "hands-off-the-Jew" policy could not be established, a "hands-off-the-Jewish-lawyer" policy could be and was. It was this factor, I think, more than any other, that has kept me safe here.

The Aryan Brotherhood (AB) is the political rival of the skinheads. They are the old guard, the white leadership that has run the yards for years. They control the drug markets, the poker tables, the tattoo shops. Their membership consists mostly of long-term inmates who have been on the yards for 15, 20, 25 years. Their average age is probably well over 40. By contrast, the skinheads have a much younger membership (albeit also with long-term sentences) that is rapidly advancing upon AB turf. So the AB's "defense" of me has a political component as well: I am the enemy of their enemy and therefore their friend. The AB understands that I provide a service they can exploit. But they also perceive the skinheads' hatred of me and realize they can use championing my cause to their advantage. So they allow me to stay on the yard, taking credit for my providing legal work and inadvertently discrediting the anti-Semitism of the skinheads in the process.

This was all allowed to happen because the AB, notwithstanding the swastikas, lightning bolts and KKK hoods tattooed on their arms and their vile racist rhetoric, are not fundamentally ideological. Their racism derives primarily from economic considerations: by enjoining the different races from trading with each other, they enforce their share of the highly lucrative drug market. The price of drugs on the yards is 10 times higher than it is on the street, and the AB is the largest single supplier, with drugs smuggled in not only by would-be recruits trying to "earn their ink" by getting their girlfriends to hide them in their body cavities when they come to visit, but by guards who are in their employ (and sometimes in their membership) as well. The Raza's drugs may be cheaper and better, but because of the segregation, they are not available to the woods.

The skinheads, by contrast, claim to be fundamentally ideological. They exist as a political entity dedicated, they say, to organizing to fight the big war, the race war, which will reassert white political dominance in the world. They therefore take the public position that they do not approve of drugs, and they try to foster the image that they are serious warriors, that they keep their minds clean and spirits pure by reading Nietzsche and Sun Tzu and Machiavelli, and that their bodies are highly trained fighting machines that will kill the enemy without a second thought. Every afternoon you can see them marching around the yard in locked step, their polished boots gleaming in the baking sun, with "SKINHEAD" tattooed on their foreheads and "SHAVED FOR WAR" carved on the backs of their skulls and encircling swastikas made up of interlocking axe handles. I used to wonder why skinheads made such a fuss over insisting that whites fold their clothes in a specific way and display them on their shelves. The party line is that we do this because other races look to us as setting the standard, and it is therefore our burden to do so. But I finally figured out the real reason: the skinheads want the whites to appear totally disciplined, a tight fighting unit ready to spring into war at the drop of a hat. Uniforms that are folded and pressed maintain this posture.

The skinheads are so ridiculous, both in the way they present themselves and in their social views, that it is easy to caricature and dismiss them. But that would be a mistake. The skinheads are the fastest growing segment of the prison population. If at one time they were a fringe group within prison, that is no longer the case.

I grew up in a Chicago suburb, Evanston, Ill., next door to Skokie, the infamous site of an attempted march by Nazis in the late 1970s through a city with a large Jewish population, including a high number of concentration camp survivors. Because Evanston and Skokie shared a high school, I knew many of these survivors, whose children were friends of mine. When the Nazis threatened to march, these were the people who were prepared to take their places on the front lines, baseball bats in hand, ready to meet the fascists. There is no question in my mind that the Nazis ultimately backed down at the last minute not because they were put off by the Skokie City Council when it hastily enacted an ordinance preventing the march, nor because the Anti-Defamation League made the Nazis "irrelevant" by advising people to ignore them, nor because the ACLU helped the Nazis "make their point" that free speech is allowed and this made the march moot. Rather, it was because they were afraid of the Jewish and other anti-fascist demonstrators who organized against them and made it clear that they were going to offer armed resistance. The Nazis knew that if they came to Skokie, no amount of police protection could keep them safe.

This was the climate I grew up in. My parents were left-liberals, one-time fellow travelers of the Communist Party who had become more conservative over the years but in whom political activism, especially against fascism, was instinctual. And it was one of their guiding principles that there is no debating with fascists. Fascists are not interested in ideas but in political power. So every time the Nazis did publicly organize since then, I was there to oppose them, not with the force of my intellect but with the strength of my fists.

But despite my lifelong opposition to Nazis, this opposition stemmed from political, not religious, considerations. I grew up with essentially no identity as a Jew. My father, while of German-Jewish origins (and a World War II vet), was a stone atheist and a scientist, and my mother, while being a little fuzzy on the God question, sided with my father in not providing my brother and me with any religious training. I did not attend shul on the high holidays or go to Hebrew school. Instead, I went to socialist summer camp where I was taught that the most important spiritual value is "thou shalt never cross a picket line."

Nor did the neighborhood I grew up in or the schools I went to do anything to confer a sense of Jewish identity on me. Although Evanston was not as heavily Jewish as Skokie, my neighborhood was at least a third Jewish and the high school even more so. But being immersed in a heavily Jewish environment did not have the effect of enhancing my identity as a Jew; if anything, it made being Jewish taken for granted and therefore largely irrelevant. Jews were everywhere and represented all perspectives. We were jocks and nerds, boozers and freaks, businessmen and scientists, Republicans and radicals. Our Jewishness was not a common denominator to us (because it was too common a denominator) and therefore being Jewish was no big deal.

Similarly, when I moved to New York City after college, I lived in a heavily Jewish city in which I was part of the majority. If it was something of a thrill to be living in a city where everything shut down on Yom Kippur, the main identity I felt as a Jew was no identity: being Jewish was as common and therefore as taken for granted as finding a taxicab on Fifth Avenue.

I suppose this paradoxical lack of a Jewish identity in people who live in an overwhelmingly Jewish environment is characteristic only of those for whom the environment is a privileged one. When Jews living together is a feature of their oppression rather than privilege, such as in the case of those who were forced to live in the shtetls of Russia or in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, Jewish identity becomes something that is not shunned but clung to. The practice of Judaism now becomes a raison d'etre, a thing which gives life meaning. If you are oppressed because of your race, religion or national origin, you seize that heritage as something bigger than yourself to give you the will to go on.

When I went to prison, it was the first time in my life that I really stood out as a Jew. Jews are virtually unheard of in the state prison system, and if going to prison was a cultural shock and eye-opening experience for me, meeting a Jew was a cultural shock and eye-opening experience for a good number of young men on the yard, some of whom had never traveled more than 50 miles from their backwoods homes. I suppose it should not have come as a surprise to me, then, that anti-Semitism would be so rampant. Nevertheless, I was shocked by the blatant hatred (and misperceptions) of Jews. All the old stereotypes — of Jews being stingy, greedy and dishonest, of Jews controlling the world's money supply, of Jews running the entertainment industry and establishing the cultural standards of the world (thus allowing the proliferation of homosexuality and interracial relationships); in short, all the old stereotypes about Jews which I never really believed existed — were in full force and effect on the yard. I have been able to remain safe, but only because I reached an accommodation with my Nazi tormentors limiting my presence and activities on the yard. But the bottom line is, I am, and will remain, a pariah.

Thus, it was precisely my own oppression by skinheads and others when I went to prison that has caused me to discover a Jewish identity and has allowed me to come into my own as a Jew. I had dealt with Nazis before, as I mentioned above, but only in the aggregate, when I was part of a large force opposing a clearly unwelcome and alien presence. But on the prison yards, if Nazis are not in the mainstream, certainly hatred of Jews is taken for granted. And for most of the time I have been in prison I have been the only Jew here. As a result, the isolation and extreme prejudice against Jews here has finally forced me to consider myself to be, for the first time in my life, fundamentally a Jew; that is, I am a Jew before I am a socialist, an activist, a lawyer, a convict or a musician.

When I first came to jail, I tried to hide my Judaism. I even thought about changing my name so it would sound less Jewish. Not any more! The oppression I suffered, the alienation and loneliness I felt, and the spiritual thirst that is starting to be quenched, have caused me to finally come into my own. I am a Jew! And this has become my fundamental defeat of the Nazis. Because I have finally come to this bone-deep understanding, I will walk out of the prison gates as a changed man, a man who has returned to the mark after having strayed for so many years. I will have finally come home.
28522  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Glen Beck on: April 19, 2010, 06:06:21 PM
Quite right Doug.  I have never heard GB's radio show and, having satellite TV, I record the show and fastforward through the commercials.

Like the Founding Fathers, like me, GB believes in a Creator.  As Ben Franklin said

"I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth-that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid?" --Benjamin Franklin, To Colleagues at the Constitutional Convention

 Therefore I am unperturbed that this is part of GB's message; though I think he goes about it in a way that should not concern atheists as well.

Hannity I simply find to be a mediocrity.  He irritates me even when I agree with him.  I only watch him if there is something/someone I want to see e.g. Newt Gingrich. Perhaps my opinion of Savage is based upon too small a sample of airtime, but he struck me as a cranky guy past his prime , , , and his prime was never that good.  As for Marc Levin, I have seen some youtube clips wherein his comments are but semi-witty insults for the true believers; recently though someone forwarded a 70 minute speech he gave at the Reagan Library which I thought had intellectual heft.  Therefore at present I have him filed under "Need to know more about him".
28523  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: White House courts US Muslims on: April 19, 2010, 11:27:53 AM

This is just the sort of subject matter where Pravda on the Hudson (POTH) can be at its most deceptive.  Still, the subject matter matters AND we do want good Muslim-Americans treated fairly.  Nonetheless, caveat lector-- its POTH at work:

White House Quietly Courts Muslims in U.S.
Published: April 18, 2010
When President Obama took the stage in Cairo last June, promising a new relationship with the Islamic world, Muslims in America wondered only half-jokingly whether the overture included them. After all, Mr. Obama had kept his distance during the campaign, never visiting an American mosque and describing the false claim that he was Muslim as a “smear” on his Web site.

Tariq Ramadan, who was barred from the United States under President George W. Bush, spoke to a New York audience in April.
Nearly a year later, Mr. Obama has yet to set foot in an American mosque. And he still has not met with Muslim and Arab-American leaders. But less publicly, his administration has reached out to this politically isolated constituency in a sustained and widening effort that has left even skeptics surprised.

Muslim and Arab-American advocates have participated in policy discussions and received briefings from top White House aides and other officials on health care legislation, foreign policy, the economy, immigration and national security. They have met privately with a senior White House adviser, Valerie Jarrett, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to discuss civil liberties concerns and counterterrorism strategy.

The impact of this continuing dialogue is difficult to measure, but White House officials cited several recent government actions that were influenced, in part, by the discussions. The meeting with Ms. Napolitano was among many factors that contributed to the government’s decision this month to end a policy subjecting passengers from 14 countries, most of them Muslim, to additional scrutiny at airports, the officials said.

That emergency directive, enacted after a failed Dec. 25 bombing plot, has been replaced with a new set of intelligence-based protocols that law enforcement officials consider more effective.

Also this month, Tariq Ramadan, a prominent Muslim academic, visited the United States for the first time in six years after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reversed a decision by the Bush administration, which had barred Mr. Ramadan from entering the country, initially citing the U.S.A. Patriot Act. Mrs. Clinton also cleared the way for another well-known Muslim professor, Adam Habib, who had been denied entry under similar circumstances.

Arab-American and Muslim leaders said they had yet to see substantive changes on a variety of issues, including what they describe as excessive airport screening, policies that have chilled Muslim charitable giving and invasive F.B.I. surveillance guidelines. But they are encouraged by the extent of their consultation by the White House and governmental agencies.

“For the first time in eight years, we have the opportunity to meet, engage, discuss, disagree, but have an impact on policy,” said James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute in Washington. “We’re being made to feel a part of that process and that there is somebody listening.”

In the post-9/11 era, Muslims and Arab-Americans have posed something of a conundrum for the government: they are seen as a political liability but also, increasingly, as an important partner in countering the threat of homegrown terrorism. Under President George W. Bush, leaders of these groups met with government representatives from time to time, but said they had limited interaction with senior officials. While Mr. Obama has yet to hold the kind of high-profile meeting that Muslims and Arab-Americans seek, there is a consensus among his policymakers that engagement is no longer optional.

The administration’s approach has been understated. Many meetings have been private; others were publicized only after the fact. A visit to New York University in February by John O. Brennan, Mr. Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, drew little news coverage, but caused a stir among Muslims around the country. Speaking to Muslim students, activists and others, Mr. Brennan acknowledged many of their grievances, including “surveillance that has been excessive,” “overinclusive no-fly lists” and “an unhelpful atmosphere around many Muslim charities.”

“These are challenges we face together as Americans,” said Mr. Brennan, who momentarily showed off his Arabic to hearty applause. He and other officials have made a point of disassociating Islam from terrorism in public comments, using the phrase “violent extremism” in place of words like “jihad” and “Islamic terrorism.”

While the administration’s solicitation of Muslims and Arab-Americans has drawn little fanfare, it has not escaped criticism. A small but vocal group of research analysts, bloggers and others complain that the government is reaching out to Muslim leaders and organizations with an Islamist agenda or ties to extremist groups abroad.

They point out that Ms. Jarrett gave the keynote address at the annual convention for the Islamic Society of North America. The group was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal case against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a Texas-based charity whose leaders were convicted in 2008 of funneling money to Hamas. The society denies any links to terrorism.

“I think dialogue is good, but it has to be with genuine moderates,” said Steven Emerson, a terrorism analyst who advises government officials. “These are the wrong groups to legitimize.” Mr. Emerson and others have also objected to the political appointments of several American Muslims, including Rashad Hussain.

In February, the president chose Mr. Hussain, a 31-year-old White House lawyer, to become the United States’ special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The position, a kind of ambassador at large to Muslim countries, was created by Mr. Bush. In a video address, Mr. Obama highlighted Mr. Hussain’s status as a “close and trusted member of my White House staff” and “a hafiz,” a person who has memorized the Koran.

Within days of the announcement, news reports surfaced about comments Mr. Hussain had made on a panel in 2004, while he was a student at Yale Law School, in which he referred to several domestic terrorism prosecutions as “politically motivated.” Among the cases he criticized was that of Sami Al-Arian, a former computer-science professor in Florida who pleaded guilty to aiding members of a Palestinian terrorist group.


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At first, the White House said Mr. Hussain did not recall making the comments, which had been removed from the Web version of a 2004 article published by a small Washington magazine. When Politico obtained a recording of the panel, Mr. Hussain acknowledged criticizing the prosecutions but said he believed the magazine quoted him inaccurately, prompting him to ask its editor to remove the comments. On Feb. 22, The Washington Examiner ran an editorial with the headline “Obama Selects a Voice of Radical Islam.”

Muslim leaders watched carefully as the story migrated to Fox News. They had grown accustomed to close scrutiny, many said in interviews, but were nonetheless surprised. In 2008, Mr. Hussain had co-authored a paper for the Brookings Institution arguing that the government should use the peaceful teachings of Islam to fight terrorism.
“Rashad Hussain is about as squeaky clean as you get,” said Representative Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat who is Muslim. Mr. Ellison and others wondered whether the administration would buckle under the pressure and were relieved when the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, defended Mr. Hussain.

“The fact that the president and the administration have appointed Muslims to positions and have stood by them when they’ve been attacked is the best we can hope for,” said Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America.

It was notably different during Mr. Obama’s run for office. In June 2008, volunteers of his campaign barred two Muslim women in headscarves from appearing behind Mr. Obama at a rally in Detroit, eliciting widespread criticism. The campaign promptly recruited Mazen Asbahi, a 36-year-old corporate lawyer and popular Muslim activist from Chicago, to become its liaison to Muslims and Arab-Americans.

Bloggers began researching Mr. Asbahi’s background. For a brief time in 2000, he had sat on the board of an Islamic investment fund, along with Sheikh Jamal Said, a Chicago imam who was later named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land case. Mr. Asbahi said in an interview that he had left the board after three weeks because he wanted no association with the imam.

Shortly after his appointment to the Obama campaign, Mr. Asbahi said, a Wall Street Journal reporter began asking questions about his connection to the imam. Campaign officials became concerned that news coverage would give critics ammunition to link the imam to Mr. Obama, Mr. Asbahi recalled. On their recommendation, Mr. Asbahi agreed to resign from the campaign, he said.

He is still unsettled by the power of his detractors. “To be in the midst of this campaign of change and hope and to have it stripped away over nothing,” he said. “It hurts.”

From the moment Mr. Obama took office, he seemed eager to change the tenor of America’s relationship with Muslims worldwide. He gave his first interview to Al Arabiya, the Arabic-language television station based in Dubai. Muslims cautiously welcomed his ban on torture and his pledge to close Guantánamo within a year. In his Cairo address, he laid out his vision for “a new beginning” with Muslims: while America would continue to fight terrorism, he said, terrorism would no longer define America’s approach to Muslims.

Back at home, Muslim and Arab-American leaders remained skeptical. But they took note when, a few weeks later, Mohamed Magid, a prominent imam from Sterling, Va., and Rami Nashashibi, a Muslim activist from Chicago, joined the president at a White-House meeting about fatherhood. Also that month, Dr. Faisal Qazi, a board member of American Muslim Health Professionals, began meeting with administration officials to discuss health care reform.

The invitations were aimed at expanding the government’s relationship with Muslims and Arab-Americans to areas beyond security, said Mr. Hussain, the White House’s special envoy. Mr. Hussain began advising the president on issues related to Islam after joining the White House counsel’s office in January 2009. He helped draft Mr. Obama’s Cairo speech and accompanied him on the trip. “The president realizes that you cannot engage one-fourth of the world’s population based on the erroneous beliefs of a fringe few,” Mr. Hussain said.

Other government offices followed the lead of the White House. In October, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met with Arab-Americans and Muslims in Dearborn, Mich., to discuss challenges facing small-business owners. Also last fall, Farah Pandith was sworn in as the State Department’s first special representative to Muslim communities. While Ms. Pandith works mostly with Muslims abroad, she said she had also consulted with American Muslims because Mrs. Clinton believes “they can add value overseas.”

Despite this, American actions abroad — including civilian deaths from drone strikes in Pakistan and the failure to close Guantánamo — have drawn the anger of Muslims and Arab-Americans.

Even though their involvement with the administration has broadened, they remain most concerned about security-related policies. In January, when the Department of Homeland Security hosted a two-day meeting with Muslim, Arab-American, South Asian and Sikh leaders, the group expressed concern about the emergency directive subjecting passengers from a group of Muslim countries to additional screening.

Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, pointed out that the policy would never have caught the attempted shoe bomber Richard Reid, who is British. “It almost sends the signal that the government is going to treat nationals of powerless countries differently from countries that are powerful,” Ms. Khera recalled saying as community leaders around the table nodded their heads.

Ms. Napolitano, who sat with the group for more than an hour, committed to meeting with them more frequently. Ms. Khera said she left feeling somewhat hopeful.

“I think our message is finally starting to get through,” she said.
28524  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: April 19, 2010, 12:41:57 AM
Greatful for a lot of family time this past week.
28525  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Open Gathering Sept 19, 2010 on: April 19, 2010, 12:41:19 AM
Yes we look for a donation at the door.  If your friends would like to fight, well then, they must pre-register just like everyone else.
28526  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA versus Reality/Survival based skills on: April 19, 2010, 12:39:35 AM
"How is that different than Dog Brothers fights at the Gathering?"

Please allow me to point out that "the Dog Brothers" and DBMA are not the same thing.

With regard to the DB Gatherings it is worth noting that the American Gatherings now have IFWA as part of the equation (The Euros don't care for this and so don't do it); but more to the point, with regard to DBMA we are "In search of the totality of ritual and reality" (c) as we "Walk as a warrior for all our days" (c).  For DBMA the Gatherings are simple a ritual combat adrenal experience in service of our reality training.  "Kali Tudo" (tm) is another; its purpose is to develop "consistency across cateogories" for weaponry and empty hand fighting-- again, in the ritual space but measured by reality criteria.  The we have our Die Less Often series, which is explicitly reality based in its focus.
28527  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spring 2010 DB Tribal Gathering on: April 18, 2010, 10:19:59 PM
Hope we don't lose any of the Euros due to the volcano!!!
28528  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Anonymous Source use by NYT/POTH on: April 18, 2010, 02:09:29 PM
To the NYTimes's credit it allowed this piece to be published:

Published: April 17, 2010
THE Times continues to hurt itself with readers by misusing anonymous sources.


I have received complaints about recent articles in which unnamed sources were allowed to 1) accuse a real estate agent of racial discrimination, 2) provide a letter from a dead man in the midst of a political controversy, and 3) discuss the press strategy of a politician who seeks to manipulate reporters with, among other tactics, off-the-record phone calls.

Despite written ground rules to the contrary and promises by top editors to do better, The Times continues to use anonymous sources for information available elsewhere on the record. It allows unnamed people to provide quotes of marginal news value and to remain hidden with little real explanation of their motives, their reliability, or the reasons why they must be anonymous.

Joe Walsh of Roslindale, Mass., wrote last week that reporters seem to have a ready list of reasons why sources can’t be named — not authorized to speak, ongoing negotiations and the like — that serve only to provide “both the source and the reporter with a veil of integrity.”

Anonymous sources can be invaluable. Notably, they recently helped The Times break a scandal involving Gov. David Paterson of New York. But used casually or routinely, they stir readers’ skepticism.

Consider these recent examples.

¶Last Sunday, The Times profiled Mary Kay Gallagher, a 90-year-old real estate broker in a historic Brooklyn neighborhood. Gallagher was portrayed as tough and civic-minded. According to the article, “some say” she saved the neighborhood from apartment buildings and having its landmark homes cut into boarding houses. But it added, “Others say she unfairly steered minority buyers from the best properties.”

Neither “some” nor “others” were identified. Gallagher defended herself in the article, saying she sold to blacks, to Asians, to Jews and to Republicans. “I don’t think I’m racist,” she said.

Ben Smith, a reporter for Politico — who uses anonymous sources, and has been burned by them — wrote to say he was shocked that The Times would put Gallagher in the position of denying a faceless charge of racism, one that could get her in serious trouble if it were true. Smith, who lives in the neighborhood and knows Gallagher, said, “It strikes me as a classic trick, unworthy of The Times.”

Jodi Rudoren, who edited the article and inserted the language that offended Smith, said the sources were not really anonymous. She said the reporter, Robin Finn, interviewed many people on the record, some of whom described Gallagher as a neighborhood savior and others who said she was hard on minorities. Rudoren said she was trying to summarize these two points of view, not allow anyone to hide. But she said she wished she had stressed that all this happened a long time ago, and she regretted using the word “steered,” given that racial steering in real estate is unlawful.

I do not think even an old charge of racism against a broker can be handled that way. Someone has to stand up, and the allegation has to be reported out. Were there complaints to a licensing board? Were minority buyers kept out?

Philip Corbett, the standards editor, said he was troubled by the allegation. “It’s an extreme example of what I think of as the ‘critics say’ device of reporting, without any specifics of who the critics are or where they’re coming from.”

¶A day earlier, The Times reported that, weeks before he died, Edward Gramlich, a former governor of the Federal Reserve, had written a note to Alan Greenspan, the former Fed chairman, essentially clearing him of charges that he did not heed Gramlich’s warnings of a subprime mortgage meltdown.

The note surfaced as friends of Gramlich were expressing anger at Greenspan for telling the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission that Gramlich had not formally raised his concerns about subprime mortgages with the Fed’s board. Was the note real? Where did it come from? Why now? The Times said only that it “was provided” to the paper.

Kurt Luedtke, a former newspaper editor and Oscar-winning screenwriter, wrote that most readers would think the letter was leaked by Greenspan, “but life is strange,” so maybe not. Either way, he said, “this is the sort of anonymity that serves no one.” (Disclosure: Luedtke is a friend and former colleague of mine.)

To me, the article looked like The Times had allowed itself to be used in an attempt to rehabilitate Greenspan’s reputation through the convenient device of a letter whose writer was not available for questioning. Sewell Chan, the reporter, said it was not like that. Without discussing his source, he said he began reporting on the fallout from Greenspan’s testimony and learned about the note from a reluctant source, who read it to him. He said he verified it with a second source, a close friend of Gramlich’s, who said it accurately reflected the dying man’s views. Chan said he did not have space to include the second source.

Richard Stevenson, the deputy Washington bureau chief, said that, without identifying the sources, the paper should have done a better job of describing how it obtained the information. I think the article was misleading in that it suggested The Times had a copy of the note, when all it had was someone reading its contents. Making it the top of an otherwise balanced article contributed to the sense that The Times had been spun.

¶Last week, a front-page article described how Andrew Cuomo, the New York attorney general, seeks to manage the news media through conference call press conferences, where he cannot be seen, and off-the-record calls to reporters. A Cuomo aide was granted anonymity to say the conference calls were “one of the greatest press maximizers.” I am not sure what that means, but it seemed to add nothing to the article. And why was the aide anonymous? “Because he did not want to discuss Mr. Cuomo’s press strategy publicly,” the article said — candid but hardly a valid reason.

Carolyn Ryan, the metro politics editor, said she agreed in retrospect that the quote was unnecessary.

¶Now, here is why all of this matters:

John Albin of Manhattan objected to an article late last month providing new details about Governor Paterson’s involvement in efforts to pressure a woman involved in a domestic dispute with one of his top aides. The article said the governor helped draft a proposed statement for the woman in which she would say there had been no violence in the episode, a contradiction of what she told the police. “Three people with knowledge of the governor’s role” were the sources.

Albin said The Times “should not be hiding behind blind quotes when it comes to accusations that are this serious.” I understand his frustration, but respectfully do not agree. Joe Sexton, the metro editor, said anonymous sources were the only way The Times could get the vital story of this scandal. The paper’s reporting has proved true at every turn — prompting high-level resignations, the end of Paterson’s election campaign and a criminal investigation.

Sexton said he realized it “can take something of a leap of faith for some readers to be comfortable” with anonymous sources in such articles. That leap would be easier if The Times did not squander readers’ trust by using unnamed sources so often and so casually in far less compelling cases.

28529  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Cows on drugs on: April 18, 2010, 02:05:38 PM
Cows on Drugs

Published: April 17, 2010
Stanford, Calif.

NOW that Congress has pushed through its complicated legislation to reform the health insurance system, it could take one more simple step to protect the health of all Americans. This one wouldn’t raise any taxes or make any further changes to our health insurance system, so it could be quickly passed by Congress with an outpouring of bipartisan support. Or could it?

More than 30 years ago, when I was commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration, we proposed eliminating the use of penicillin and two other antibiotics to promote growth in animals raised for food. When agribusiness interests persuaded Congress not to approve that regulation, we saw firsthand how strong politics can trump wise policy and good science.

Even back then, this nontherapeutic use of antibiotics was being linked to the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria that infect humans. To the leading microbiologists on the F.D.A.’s advisory committee, it was clearly a very bad idea to fatten animals with the same antibiotics used to treat people. But the American Meat Institute and its lobbyists in Washington blocked the F.D.A. proposal.

In 2005, one class of antibiotics, fluoroquinolones, was banned in the production of poultry in the United States. But the total number of antibiotics used in agriculture is continuing to grow. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, 70 percent of this use is in animals that are healthy but are vulnerable to transmissible diseases because they live in crowded and unsanitary conditions.

In testimony to Congress last summer, Joshua Sharfstein, the principal deputy commissioner of the F.D.A., estimated that 90,000 Americans die each year from bacterial infections they acquire in hospitals. About 70 percent of those infections are caused by bacteria that are resistant to at least one powerful antibiotic.

That’s why the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Pharmacists Association, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American Public Health Association and the National Association of County and City Health Officials are urging Congress to phase out the nontherapeutic use in livestock of antibiotics that are important to humans.

Antibiotic resistance is an expensive problem. A person who cannot be treated with ordinary antibiotics is at risk of having a large number of bacterial infections, and of needing to be treated in the hospital for weeks or even months. The extra costs to the American health care system are as much as $26 billion a year, according to estimates by Cook County Hospital in Chicago and the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics, a health policy advocacy group.

Agribusiness argues — as it has for 30 years — that livestock need to be given antibiotics to help them grow properly and keep them free of disease. But consider what has happened in Denmark since the late 1990s, when that country banned the use of antibiotics in farm animals except for therapeutic purposes. The reservoir of resistant bacteria in Danish livestock shrank considerably, a World Health Organization report found. And although some animals lost weight, and some developed infections that needed to be treated with antimicrobial drugs, the benefits of the rule exceeded those costs.

It’s 30 years late, but Congress should now pass the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, which would ban industrial farms from using seven classes of antibiotics that are important to human health unless animals or herds are ill, or pharmaceutical companies can prove the drugs’ use in livestock does not harm human health.

The pharmaceutical industry and agribusiness face the difficult challenge of developing antimicrobials that work specifically against animal infections without undermining the fight against bacteria that cause disease in humans. But we don’t have the luxury of waiting any longer to protect those at risk of increasing antibiotic resistance.

Donald Kennedy, a former commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration, is a professor emeritus of environmental science at Stanford.
28530  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA versus Reality/Survival based skills on: April 18, 2010, 11:00:07 AM
I hope to have time for a proper contribution to the conversation later, but for the moment will offer that we sell

for good reason.  Highly recommended.
28531  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sanctions for Settlements on: April 18, 2010, 10:50:45 AM
The title of this piece suggests that the author thinks that sanctions against Iran can be/will be meaningful i.e. actually effective in getting Iran to change course on its mission to get nukes.

I think this a profoundly foolish notion.  I agree with an analysis that I read from Stratfor (probably posted here on the Iran thread or the Nuke War thread) that the purpose of sanctions is to pretend to do something and to leash Israel from actually acting.

That said, I think there is much intelligent commentary and analysis in this article:

This article initially appeared in Foreign Affairs magazine.

When Joe Biden touched down in Tel Aviv on March 8, there was no indication that his visit would set off the most serious crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations in decades. The U.S. vice president arrived carrying the text of an effusively pro-Israel speech that was meant to assure skittish Israelis that the Obama administration would remain as committed as any of its predecessors to their security. Such an assurance, the administration evidently believed, was essential if the United States was to persuade the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to remove settlements from the West Bank in order to make way for a Palestinian state.

But Biden's plans were soon upended. On March 9, a mid-level official in Israel's Interior Ministry announced the approval of the fourth stage in a seven-part approval process for the construction of 1,600 residential units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo. Geographically, Ramat Shlomo is in north Jerusalem, within the city's municipal boundaries, and successive Israeli governments have insisted that they would never relinquish these areas in any final settlement with the Palestinians. But because the neighborhood lies across the Green Line (which separates pre-1967 Israel from those territories captured in the Six-Day War), it is widely seen by non-Israelis as being part of East Jerusalem, the side of the city envisioned as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Biden wasted no time in condemning the announcement, although he was also quick to accept Netanyahu's apology for its timing.

Less forgiving, however, were Biden's principal counterparts in the administration. On March 12, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Netanyahu "to make clear the United States considered the announcement a deeply negative signal about Israel's approach to the bilateral relationship," according to Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley. And the president himself reportedly gave Netanyahu the chilliest of receptions when they met in the White House the following week.

Sundry pundits and policy experts are cheering this turn of events, saying the administration's tough stance is good for America's interests in the region, good for its standing in the Muslim world, and good for Israel's long-term interests, too. But those now cheering may soon find themselves disappointed by what the Obama administration's approach actually achieves. Why? Because it flies in the face of three hard political realities: Israeli, Arab, and American.

The Israeli reality is that the maximum Israelis are prepared to offer is less than the minimum Palestinians are prepared to accept. The Arab reality (which goes far to account for the Israeli reality) is that Islamism has broadly supplanted secular and nationalist politics, at least at the level of public sentiment. The American reality is that there are limits to what Washington can or is likely to do to reshape Arab or Israeli views in a way that would favor a settlement of the conflict.

Consider each of these realities from the perspectives of the players themselves.

First, imagine yourself as a quintessential middle Israeli -- barely religious, by no means enthralled by visions of Greater Israel, a self-described pragmatist who is only keen to be nobody's fool. For 20 years, you have voted with the winner in every parliamentary election, from Yitzhak Rabin's Labor Party in 1992 to Netanyahu's Likud in 2009. You had high expectations for the Oslo accords and supported the withdrawal from Gaza, but you also cheered Ariel Sharon's invasion of the West Bank in 2002 and Ehud Olmert's wars with Hezbollah and Hamas.

If you are that Israeli -- which is to say, the constant plurality of the country's recent past -- what conclusions are you likely to draw about the country's peace-making efforts? The first conclusion is that peace with this generation of Palestinian leaders is unlikely. Correctly or not, Israelis overwhelmingly believe that Ehud Barak made a generous offer to Yasir Arafat at the 2000 Camp David talks and wasn't even met with a counteroffer. The same goes for Ehud Olmert's even more generous offer (again, in Israeli eyes) to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2008.

The second conclusion is that although separation from the Palestinians is desirable in theory, it is very risky in practice. Israel withdrew from its "security corridor" in south Lebanon in 2000 but wound up having to go to war against a well-armed Hezbollah a few years later. Ditto for what happened after Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. You have come to believe that even if Israel were to withdraw from the last millimeter of the West Bank, Palestinians would still find a reason to gin up claims against you, probably through continued insistence on the so-called right of return.

The third conclusion is that trends in Palestinian politics bode ill for a long-term settlement. Hamas handily won the 2006 parliamentary elections and easily evicted Fatah from power in Gaza the next year. Last year, the Fatah powerbroker Mohammed Dahlan insisted that the party would not urge Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist and, moreover, that Fatah itself (as opposed to the PLO) had "never recognized Israel's right to exist."

The fourth conclusion is that the Obama administration's apparent hostility to Israel makes this a particularly inauspicious time to enter final-status negotiations. As the Israeli commentator Ehud Yaari -- a classic "middle Israeli," albeit a uniquely astute one -- told Foreign Affairs in a recent interview, "It is very difficult for any Israeli prime minister to sit [at] . . . the negotiating table with the Palestinians when he is not fully coordinated with the U.S. president."

Finally, although you are perfectly capable of seeing that Israel has a demographic time bomb on its hands if it continues to contain a growing Palestinian population within its borders, that danger seems remote and abstract for now. Israel, you think, relieved itself of much of the demographic problem when it withdrew from Gaza, which is now effectively a self-governing entity. Palestinians in the West Bank are also self-governing, even if their cities and towns lack geographic contiguity. And, thanks to the success of the separation fence in dramatically reducing the incidence of suicide terror, the people of Ramallah, Nablus, or Jenin rarely impinge on your daily life.

Besides, Israel has a more urgent time bomb to contend with: the centrifuges spinning in Iran. By contrast, the Palestinian problem can wait a few years.

Now turn to the Arab reality, this time by imagining yourself as Mahmoud Abbas.

In most personal respects, you are the opposite of your charismatic if erratic predecessor, which makes you popular in the West. In the Arab world, however, and particularly among Palestinians, you are mainly seen as a political placeholder living (or at least governing) on borrowed time. This hardly gives you the kind of personal authority needed to forge a peace with Israel over the objections of your more radical constituents.

You also lack democratic legitimacy. You have been ruling by decree since shortly after Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006, and your term of elected office ended over a year ago. You have a competent and internationally respected prime minister in Salam Fayyad, but he competes for legitimacy with Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh, the man elected to the job. Your country has been divided into geographically distinct political camps for nearly three years, since Fatah was militarily trounced by Hamas in a civil war.

Then there is the issue of your persona. Put simply, you're an anachronism. You remain a believer in the Oslo accords while Palestinians are souring on the two-state solution. Your own negotiator, Saeb Erekat, recently urged that the accords be declared "null and void." You are a committed secularist and nationalist, a product of Soviet education, in an era in which Islamist movements -- which disdain secularism and suspect nationalism -- are on the march throughout the Arab world. You knew Anwar Sadat and always remember his assassination at the hands of Islamic radicals avenging Egypt's peace with Israel.

So you find yourself chasing the goal of a Palestinian state even as the idea of that state disintegrates all around you. Of course it helps that the Middle East Quartet has now offered March 2012 as a date certain for the end of "the occupation which began in 1967." But even if that comes to pass, what is the likelihood that you or your successor can guarantee what the Quartet also expects – namely, "the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors"? Without the consent of Hamas, such a state will not be democratic or viable; with Hamas, it will not live for very long in peace and security with Israel.

Could Hamas change? As its leader Khaled Mashal flatly declared in 2006, "Anyone who thinks Hamas will change is wrong."

Finally, imagine yourself as the proverbial senior administration official.

The president has signaled a decidedly new tone toward Israel, and now it is up to you to give that tone its substance. But how far, really, can Obama lean on Israel? Consider your options. Military aid is guaranteed by the 1978 Camp David agreement: Is the president prepared to rescind it? Voting for one of the U.N.'s typically lopsided resolutions would be a domestic political debacle, and not just on account of the so-called Israel Lobby: America remains an instinctively pro-Israel country. And a unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood, in the absence of a final settlement agreement with Israel, would destroy the U.S.-Israel relationship.

One thing you could conceivably do is apply enough pressure on the Netanyahu government that it switches coalition partners or loses office altogether. But, as Yaari told Foreign Affairs, "It's impossible for any Israeli prime minister to say that he is going to forego Jerusalem before a final status negotiation with the Palestinians for end of conflict, end of claims."

Indeed, by turning up the heat as he did, the president may have accomplished the opposite of what he intended. Israelis are now increasingly convinced that the administration is hostile not just to Netanyahu but Israel itself. At the same time, Palestinians now have reason to hold out for concessions on Jerusalem that they never previously expected to get and which no Israeli government is ever likely to grant.

Perhaps, then, the experience of recent weeks leads you to conclude that it is unwise for the United States to seek the trust of one party to the conflict by playing it against the other. That was the lesson of the Egyptian-Israeli experience, which allowed both Israel and Egypt to claim victory and the United States to keep a friend and gain a strategic partner. A similar approach could work with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead of seeking a new balance between the two sides, the administration could find ways to bond with them.

Hectoring the parties about their "best interests" won't work, particularly for an administration that has promised to lecture less and listen more. Making unrealistic promises, like Palestinian statehood by 2012, is a recipe for Palestinian frustration and disenchantment. Nor will it help to threaten the loss of American friendship. As Obama is now learning with Afghan President Hamid Karzai -- who responded to a recent White House snub by inviting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Kabul -- even governments far more dependent on U.S. help than Israel can exercise options that contradict U.S. interests.

It is time for something different. The president is now considering putting forward his own peace plan, perhaps on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. But this approach poses considerable political and strategic risks to the administration. What happens, for example, if one of the parties just says no? How would that affect the president's prestige or limit his flexibility? Is the United States prepared to impose "consequences" on the naysayer? And what would those consequences be?

There is a more plausible option available to the administration. As much as the Israelis resist withdrawing from the West Bank, they care far more about stopping Iran's nuclear bid. Unlike even a relatively hostile Palestinian state, a nuclear Iran poses an existential threat to the Jewish state not only directly but also through its proxies on Israel's borders.

So why not make a deal? The United States pledges that it will not permit Iran to go nuclear, period. And Israel pledges that it will unilaterally dismantle its settlements on the West Bank, period. (Jerusalem would have to be dealt with separately, but the deal at least offers Palestinians the contiguity they have long claimed to seek.) There would, of course, be the question of who goes first. But the plan could just as easily be conceived as a step-by-step, confidence-building process of trading settlements for sanctions and other anti-Iranian steps.

Is this fantasy? Perhaps. It certainly demands nearly as much of the United States as Washington demands of Israel. But at least it reflects the only kind of approach that might spur progress between Israel and its neighbors. In sum, Washington needs to get off the pressure track and get on the inducement track. Otherwise, it can look forward to years of wasted diplomatic toil, along with rivers of Israeli and Palestinian tears.
28532  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DLO 3 on: April 17, 2010, 01:29:41 PM
An example of the feedback we are getting on DLO-3:


To Mister Marc Denny and the exceptional staff of Dog Brothers Martial Arts
I just finished watching the promo for Die Less Often 3.  I am once again amazed at the level of care for the viewers your team has.  Not only are the techniques presented in clear, concise, and effective displays but they are also shown with the real world after effects of a violent encounter.
The scene of the promo that impressed me the most was the moment where Mister Denny addresses the camera and speaks about "perhaps this is someone i can never again let be a threat to me.  This becomes a very powerful motion.  Or perhaps this is someone who is sick, and I have the opportunity to save a life by giving a life."
All too often in our path as martialists we encounter the chest beating machismo-ist or style-pride-bound devotee.  Both do us a disservice in the eyes of the public from whom we are already alienated.
Thank you for continuing to produce such high quality material with the proper martial spirit.
James M Bell
Sarasota Florida.
28533  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: April 17, 2010, 01:18:42 PM
NY Times reports speculators have begun to zero in on another small member of Europe's troubled monetary zone, highlighting the same economic flaw that brought Greece to the verge of insolvency: a chronically low savings rate that forces a reliance on the now-diminishing appetite of foreign investors to finance persistent deficits.

Just as investors turn their attention to the next vulnerable country, Greece moved a step closer on Thursday to activating a $61 billion rescue package, as Prime Minister George A. Papandreou asked the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to meet in Athens next week. The aid package agreed on last weekend — aimed at calming fears of a Greek default — has not yet had its desired effect. The yield on Greek 10-year bonds briefly topped 7.3% Thursday, not far from the 7.5% it was at before the rescue package was announced.

Interest rates on 10-year government bonds for Portugal have also been rising, hitting a high of 4.5% on Thursday.
28534  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Cooking temps on: April 17, 2010, 01:14:28 PM
Cooking the Health Out of Your Food?

New research from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City suggests it’s not only what you eat but how hot you cook it that matters. Subjecting certain foods to prolonged high heat -- not only for frying, but also for grilling, roasting, broiling or baking -- creates toxic, inflammatory particles. These, in turn, cause the oxidation and inflammation in the body that are associated with such diseases as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease and others.

Called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), these toxic particles adhere to the arteries, kidneys, brain and joints, where they heighten inflammation. Our typical Western diet, heavy on meat and processed foods and light on plant-based foods, is believed by many scientists to contain at least three times more AGEs than is considered safe.

Good News from this Study

It’s always exciting when research reveals a way to avoid a common health problem -- and this new study does just that. According to the researchers, you can achieve dramatic and quick benefit -- within just days -- by reducing your intake of AGE-containing foods. Doing this decreases the body’s level of inflammation and helps restore its defenses against disease.

The study divided 350-plus participants into three groups -- healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 45, an older healthy group, all past age 60,and nine patients with chronic kidney disease (the kidneys are believed to be especially sensitive to AGEs). Participants were randomly assigned to eat either a regular Western diet in which foods were grilled, fried, or baked (in other words, loaded with AGEs) or what the researchers called "the AGE-less diet," which included the same foods, only poached, boiled or steamed so that they contained only about half as many AGEs. The two diets were similar in calories and nutrients. After four months, all participants on the AGE-less diet showed a 60% decline in blood levels of AGEs as well as in several other inflammation markers. According to the study’s lead author, Helen Vlassara, MD, professor and director of the division of experimental diabetes and aging at Mount Sinai, this indicates that your actual chronological age may not be as significant a factor in aging and health as the AGEs in your food. A finding that’s even more impressive: The patients with kidney disease had a similarly substantial reduction after just one month on the AGE-less diet.

The Heat Is On...

I asked Dr. Vlassara to explain to me how the AGEs get into foods. They develop as a chemical reaction when heat is combined with protein and different sugars, she said -- and she noted that meat-rich diets are especially bad, since meats contain high levels of easily oxidizable fat and protein.

There is a third point that is crucial to understand -- which is that removing all visible fat when you cook meats doesn’t solve the problem. All cells in meats contain not only fat and proteins, but also sugars -- some more reactive than others. Therefore, exposure to high heat will still cause AGEs to form in meat at much higher levels than in starch even if you cut away the visible fat. In fact, Dr. Vlassara told me that when you see meat brown while cooking, what you’re witnessing is the rapid reaction among proteins, fats and those reactive sugars to the heat. And, since they are also animal products, when they are cooked, full-fat milk and cheese also develop high levels of AGEs.

Even worse, manufacturers often add AGE-containing flavor-enhancers or coloring (such as caramel) to processed and packaged foods. You may be surprised to learn that a major offender in this category is dark-colored soda. Generally speaking, fast foods and processed/packaged foods also tend to be high in AGEs, which gives us yet another reason to avoid them.

Avoiding AGEs

The good news is, it’s not all that difficult to reduce the amount of AGEs in your diet, Dr. Vlassara said. It just requires making some modest changes in the way you prepare food. Her suggestions...


Marinate in an acid-based mixture (such as vinegar or lemon juice) before cooking, which helps reduce the amount of AGEs produced by heat. Note: Avoid marinades containing sugar, such as most barbecue and teriyaki sauces.
Aim to serve meats rare to medium rare if possible -- for instance, cooking pork to just beyond pink. This is admittedly a balancing act -- you want to cook as briefly as possible to minimize development of AGEs, but undercooking carries its own set of dangers.
To achieve a brown finish to meats, Dr. Vlassara suggests cooking on your stovetop with a cover to conserve moisture, and then placing the meat under the broiler for just a few minutes at the end.
Use as little fat as possible -- as Dr. Vlassara points out, even healthy olive oil oxidizes at high heat.
Water inhibits the formation of AGEs, so poaching, stewing, steaming, or even boiling proteins is best (including fish and eggs).
Dairy and Other Foods

Avoid bringing dairy products to high temperatures -- for instance, when using milk in sauces or when melting cheese under a broiler. Dr. Vlassara said the less time these foods cook, the better. She added that lower temperatures are preferable, as is increased distance from the heat source.
Brief microwaving produces a lower level of AGEs than broiling, grilling, or stovetop cooking, so this is a great way to cook liquids.
Plant-based proteins also create dangerous levels of AGEs when subject to very high heat for long periods -- so be aware that there are dangers to even seemingly healthy foods like broiled tofu or roasted nuts.
What about restaurant food?

Fortunately, the increasingly popular Mediterranean Diet uses lots of foods with low AGEs (including fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains), so it once again ranks among the healthiest ways that you can eat. This not only provides a good framework for eating at home, it also suggests a wide variety of delicious, healthful, low-AGE dishes that you can order in restaurants. But Dr. Vlassara noted that cooking even these foods at high heat with low hydration is problematic, so there’s no way around it -- cooking at high temperatures is not so hot for your health.

Helen Vlassara, MD, is professor of geriatrics, medicine and molecular medicine, director, division of experimental diabetes and aging, department of geriatric and palliative medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City.
28535  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues on: April 17, 2010, 12:11:20 PM
Russia has just announced that it intends to allow the Iranian nuclear reactor facility located in Bushehr (near the Persian Gulf) to go live in August. This is an ominous development. Now Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has a fateful decision to make. Will he order a preemptive military strike against all of Iran’s nuclear sites before August when the Bushehr site becomes “hot”? His mentor, Menachem Begin, ordered an Israeli air strike against Saddam Hussein’s Osirik nuclear reactor in Iraq before it went hot in 1981. Netanyahu wants the world to act with decisive unity to stop Iran from getting the Bomb. But that is increasingly unlikely. The Obama administration is no longer calling for “crippling sanctions,” and even if they were, it appears to be too late for sanctions to be effective. U.S. officials — including Defense Secretary Robert Gates — says Iran could have the Bomb by next year. German intelligence thinks it could be sooner. We need to pray for peace, but prepare for war.
28536  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: April 17, 2010, 10:00:12 AM
Thank you and agreed.

PS:  I would have like to have seen the officer's partner establish more of an angle.
28537  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: April 17, 2010, 09:50:57 AM

I've never worn a badge, but according to my understanding, the officer's technique is, , , improvable.

a) a command to "remove your hands from you pockets" facilitates drawing a weapon should there be one.

b) even though the officer is aware of the issue, he has his hands behind his back

That said, his seizure of the initiative is impeccable  cool
28538  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Kali - Silat - Muay Thai on: April 17, 2010, 09:45:01 AM
I thought so too, particularly in the context of that period of the UFC. 

Too bad we didn't get to see more of his standing striking/casahing game.
28539  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: April 17, 2010, 08:38:10 AM
A Question of Stability
THE IRAQI MINISTRY OF DEFENSE TOOK CONTROL of the military facility inside the Green Zone in downtown Baghdad known as Camp Phoenix (where American Gen. David Petraeus’ office once was) on Thursday. It is the latest in a series of developments — like the relatively peaceful elections last month — that both Washington and Baghdad would characterize as cause for cautious optimism as the United States inches toward withdrawing nearly half the troops it has remaining in the country before the end of August.

The U.S. drawdown is predicated upon the idea that the Iraqis will have a sufficiently competent security system (whether formal military or not) to hold itself in some semblance of order. Despite an almost astonishingly stable security environment by 2007 standards, the near-term fate of Iraq is far from certain. In theory, in less than five months, the exact composition of the Iraqi government will have taken shape and the United States will have only around 50,000 troops in the country (there are already far fewer American troops in Iraq than any time since the invasion in 2003). On the surface, this is plausible enough. There are certainly promising signs for Iraq: Sunnis participated in this election en masse; Iyad Allawi — whose non-sectarian al-Iraqiyah list won the most seats, and who is maneuvering to try and become the prime minister — speaks for many of them; and the politicking for a ruling parliamentary coalition has thus far proceeded without much violence.

But beneath the surface there are a series of more fundamental – and inherently interrelated – issues that have implications not only for Iraq, but the wider region. The first issue is perhaps the most obvious one: Can this political maneuvering and negotiation yield a government that is capable of governing the country? That is certainly a possibility, but the conclusion is far from certain. If there is such a government, will it be able to wield the country’s security forces effectively? And are these forces capable enough and committed enough to impose Baghdad’s will as the United States continues to draw down its troop levels? There have been promising signs here, too. But the security environment in the country recently has been quite permissive (compared to more intense sectarian violence in years past) and the United States has continued to bolster its efforts.

“The foundation of the American strategy in the Middle East for decades has been to use Iraq and Iran to counterbalance each other.”
How these questions are answered depends a great deal upon the durability of Iraq’s current stability, and the delicate balance of power that has characterized the country recently. A relatively stable Iraq does not challenge the ruling coalition in Baghdad or the country’s security forces nearly as much as a resurgence of ethno-sectarian violence.

Iran is at the center of the stability question. Tehran continues to exercise decisive influence in the country, and it retains the ability to reignite significant ethno-sectarian violence if it finds cause to do so. But many Shia are more or less comfortable with expanding Persian influence in the country. Indeed, some members of Iraq’s political parties are actually in Iran jockeying for position in potential Iraqi governing coalitions. So Tehran may get what it wants – a government in Baghdad amenable to Persian interests – without violence.

Whether Iraq again flirts with ethno-sectarian chaos or not, the foundation of the American strategy in the Middle East for decades has been to use Iraq and Iran to counterbalance each other. When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, it destroyed that balance of power and was never able to rebuild Iraq to the point where it could again serve as a counterweight to Iran. Even if the United States ultimately finds itself with a stable Iraq, and is able to execute a smooth drawdown of all American combat forces, the fate of the balance of power in the region remains in question. It has only been the immense American military presence in Iraq that allowed Washington to counterbalance Tehran’s influence there in recent years. The ultimate question is: What becomes of the region if Persian power in Mesopotamia again becomes relatively unchecked, potentially making U.S.-Iranian relations the pivot of the entire region?
28540  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: April 16, 2010, 10:43:46 PM
A classic!  It appears in our DLO-3 DVD by the way,
28541  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Music on: April 16, 2010, 02:53:20 PM

Thanks for breaking that down.

I did catch the 3/4 (6/8) beat, but the second piece went right over my head with nary a look back  cheesy

I like playing 6/8 on my djembe.  Indeed I came up with a variant that shifts continuously between right and left hand dominance that tickled my teacher. 
28542  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: April 16, 2010, 02:48:59 PM
Grateful for good family time.
28543  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: April 16, 2010, 02:47:27 PM
28544  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Lacrosse Staff on: April 15, 2010, 11:25:04 PM
Woof All:

I just received the following via Facebook

The Adventure continues!

My son (also an eskrima student) has put into practice the techniques that you demonstrated in your lacrosse vid on you tube. As a rather small high school freshman, he needed all the help he could get. It's working great for him! Thanks Guro Marc! .
 Marc Denny April 14 at 11:29am This is awesome. Please tell me more!

PS: What was the URL for that clip? .
 Brandon Katz April 14 at 12:02pm Report
Sir- One of our fellow students ran across it and thought of Logan. He's a 5' 7", 145 lb defenseman. Just a wee beastie for his position. He saw the vid of you checking with the d-pole and watched it a dozen times! Took it to practice and had the exact same result... angry attackmen!

Logan and I are both students of Guro Kim Satterfield at the Midwest School of Eskrima, here in Fort Wayne. (I don't feel the least bit bad about bragging on my son being the youngest student the Guro Kim has ever taken on. He started at 12!)

Thanks again Guro Marc!
28545  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: April 15, 2010, 06:23:36 PM
Laffer's 11 & 11 proposal seems to me both profound and politically brilliant.   The amount of growth it would unleash I think would be staggering.
28546  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: April 15, 2010, 10:04:42 AM
"An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation." --Justice John Marshall, McCullough v. Maryland, 1819
28547  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Power to Destroy on: April 15, 2010, 10:03:59 AM
"An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation." --Justice John Marshall, McCullough v. Maryland, 1819
28548  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Iran lays out its terms on: April 15, 2010, 09:33:08 AM
Iran Lays Out Its Terms
IRANIAN PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD said Tuesday he would be sending U.S. President Barack Obama a letter, the contents of which would be made public in the coming days. In a live interview on state television, Ahmadinejad said that Iran was the “only chance” for Obama to salvage his administration’s position in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Iranian president remarked, “The best way for him [Obama] is to accept and respect Iran and enter into cooperation. Many new opportunities will be created for him.”

This is not the first time Ahmadinejad has offered his American counterpart cooperation in an attempt to extract concessions. But he has never been so direct about telegraphing his view that the United States is in a difficult position in the Middle East and South Asia, nor has he offered Iran’s help so that the United States can extricate itself from the region. What is important is that the Iranian leader is pretty accurate in both his description and prescription.

Washington is indeed working toward a military drawdown in Iraq, and needs to make progress in Afghanistan within a very short time frame. Iran borders both these countries, where the Islamic republic has significant influence. Cognizant of Obama’s domestic political imperatives, Ahmadinejad said, “He [Obama] has but one chance to stay as head of the state and succeed. Obama cannot do anything in Palestine. He has no chance. What can he do in Iraq? Nothing. And Afghanistan is too complicated. The best way for him is to accept and respect Iran and enter into cooperation. Many new opportunities will be created for him.”

The Iranian president is correct in that a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is extremely unlikely. In terms of Iraq, the Iranians recently signaled that they are prepared to accept a sizeable Sunni presence in the next Iraqi coalition government. This will facilitate the U.S. need for a balance of power in Iraq, thereby allowing Washington to exit the country. Similarly, the Americans cannot achieve the conditions for withdrawal in Afghanistan without reaching an understanding with the Iranians.

“In exchange for helping the United States, the Islamic republic first wants international recognition as a legitimate entity.”
Therefore, the maverick Iranian leader was not engaging in his usual rhetoric when he said, “Mr. Obama has only one chance and that is Iran. This is not emotional talk but scientific. He has but one place to say that ‘I made a change and I turned over the world equation’ and that is Iran.” So, what exactly does Ahmadinejad want in return for helping the leader of his country’s biggest foe?

The answer lies in the following comment by Ahmadinejad: “Acknowledging Iran would benefit both sides and as far as Iran is concerned, we are not after any confrontation.” The Iranians are trying to bring closure to their efforts of the last eight years in which they have been trying to exploit the U.S. wars being fought in their neighborhood to achieve their geopolitical objectives. Ahmadinejad is laying out his terms.

In exchange for helping the United States, the Islamic republic first wants international recognition as a legitimate entity. Second, the global community needs to recognize the Iranian sphere of influence in the Islamic world. Third, and most importantly, while it is prepared to normalize ties with the United States, Iran wants to retain its independent foreign policy.

Put another way, Iran wants to be treated by the Obama administration along the lines of how U.S. President Richard Nixon’s administration dealt with China during the early 1970s. The demand for respect is a critical one. Iran is not interested in rapprochement with the United States along the lines of what Libya did in 2003 when it gave up its nuclear weapons arsenal in exchange for normalized relations with the United States and its Western allies.

Iran is not close to crossing the nuclear threshold yet, but it wants to retain that as a future option as per any deal. Iran has been emboldened by the fact that the United States is neither in a position to exercise the military option to prevent the Persian state from going nuclear, nor is it able to put together an effective sanctions regime that could affect a change in Tehran’s behavior. It is therefore using the regional dynamic as leverage to try and extract the maximum possible concessions on the nuclear issue.

On a further note, an arrangement based on the concept of “accept us for who we are” is critical to the interests of the Iranian regime for two reasons. First, it gets rid of the external threat of regime change. Second, it allows the Iranian regime to demonstrate on the domestic front that its aggressive foreign policy has paid off, which completely undermines its Green movement opponents.

It is too early to predict whether Iran can achieve its goals or not. It has moved to the final round of its efforts to use American weakness to its advantage, and at this stage it does hold a strong deck of cards.
28549  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strat: The Caucasus Emirate on: April 15, 2010, 09:15:26 AM
The Caucasus Emirate
April 15, 2010

By Scott Stewart and Ben West

On April 9, a woman armed with a pistol and with explosives strapped to her body approached a group of police officers in the northern Caucasus village of Ekazhevo, in the southern Russian republic of Ingushetia. The police officers were preparing to launch an operation to kill or capture militants in the area. The woman shot and wounded one of the officers, at which point other officers drew their weapons and shot the woman. As she fell to the ground, the suicide vest she was wearing detonated. The woman was killed and the man she wounded, the head of the of the Russian Interior Ministry’s local office, was rushed to the hospital where he died from his wounds.

Such incidents are regular occurrences in Russia’s southernmost republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria and North Ossetia. These five republics are home to fundamentalist separatist insurgencies that carry out regular attacks against security forces and government officials through the use of suicide bombers, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), armed assaults and targeted assassinations. However, we have noted a change in the operational tempo of militants in the region. So far in 2010, militants have carried out 23 attacks in the Caucasus, killing at least 34 people — a notable increase over the eight attacks that killed 17 people in the region during the same period last year. These militants have also returned to attacking the far enemy in Moscow and not just the near enemy in the Caucasus.

History of Activity

Over the past year, in addition to the weekly attacks we expect to see in the region (such as the one described above), a group calling itself the Caucasus Emirate has claimed five significant attacks against larger targets and, notably, ventured outside of the northern Caucasus region. The first of these attacks was a suicide VBIED bombing that seriously wounded Ingushetia’s president, Yunus-bek Yevkurov, and killed several members of his protective detail in June 2009 as Yekurov was traveling along a predictable route in a motorcade from his residence to his office. Then in August of that year, CE militants claimed responsibility for an explosion at the Siberian Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric dam that flooded the engine room, disabled turbines, wrecked equipment and killed 74 people (the structure of the dam was not affected). In November 2009, the group claimed responsibility for assassinating an Orthodox priest in Moscow and for detonating a bomb that targeted a high-speed train called the Nevsky Express that runs between Moscow and St. Petersburg and killing 30 people. Its most recent attack outside of the Caucasus occurred on March 29, 2010, when two female suicide bombers detonated IEDs in Moscow’s underground rail system during morning rush hour, killing 40 people.

The group’s claim of responsibility for the hydroelectric dam was, by all accounts, a phony one. At the time, STRATFOR was not convinced at all that the high level of damage we saw in images of the site could be brought about by a very large IED, much less a single anti-tank mine, which is what the Caucasus Emirate claimed it used in the attack. STRATFOR sources in Russia later confirmed that the explosion was caused by age, neglect and failing systems and not a militant attack, confirming our original assessment. While the Caucasus Emirate had emerged on our radar as early as summer 2009, we were dubious of its capabilities given this apparent false claim. However, while the claim of responsibility for the dam attack was bogus, STRATFOR sources in Russia tell us that the group was indeed responsible for the other attacks described above.

So, although we were initially skeptical about the Caucasus Emirate, the fact that the group has claimed several attacks that our Russian sources tell us it indeed carried out indicates that it is time to seriously examine the group and its leadership.

Russian security forces, with the assistance of pro-Moscow regional leaders such as Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and Ingush President Yunus-bek Yevkurov, are constantly putting pressure on militant networks in the region. Raids on militant hideouts occur weekly, and after major attacks (such as the assassination attempt against Yevkurov or the Moscow metro bombings), security forces typically respond with fierce raids on militant positions that result in the arrests or deaths of militant leaders, among others. Chechen militant leaders such as Shamil Basayev (who claimed responsibility for the attack that killed pro-Russian Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov and the Beslan school siege, both in 2004) was killed by Russian forces in 2006. Before Basayev, Ibn Al-Khattab (who was widely suspected of being responsible for the 1999 apartment bombings in Russia) was killed by the Russian Federal Security Service in a 2002. The deaths of Basayev, Khattab and many others like them have fractured the militant movement in the Caucasus, but may also have prompted its remnants to join up under the Caucasus Emirate umbrella.

It is impressive that in the face of heavy Russian pressure, the Caucasus Emirate not only has continued operations but also has increased its operational tempo, all the while capitalizing on the attacks with public announcements claiming responsibility and criticizing the Russian counterterrorism response. Between March 29 and April 9, the group coordinated three different attacks involving five suicide operatives (three of which were female) in Moscow, Dagestan and Ingushetia. This is a substantial feat indicating that the Caucasus Emirate can manage several different teams of attackers and influence when they strike their targets.

Doku Umarov: A Charismatic (and Resilient) Leader

The Caucasus Emirate was created and is led by Doku Umarov, a seasoned veteran of both the first and second Chechen wars in which he was in charge of his own battalion. By 2006, Umarov had become the self-proclaimed president of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, an unrecognized secessionist government of Chechnya. He has been declared dead at least six times by fellow militants as well as Chechen and Russian authorities, most recently in June 2009. Yet he continues to appear in videos claiming attacks against Russian targets, including a video dated March 29, 2010, in which he claimed responsibility for the Moscow metro attacks.

In October 2007, Umarov expanded his following by declaring the formation of the Caucasus Emirate as the successor to the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and appointing himself emir, or leader. In his statement marking the formation of the Caucasus Emirate, Umarov rejected the laws and borders of the Russian state and called for the Caucasus region to recognize the new emirate as the rightful power and adopt Shariah. The new emirate expanded far beyond his original mandate of Chechnya into Dagestan, Ingushetia, North Ossetia and other predominantly Muslim areas farther to the north. He called for the creation of an Islamic power that would not acknowledge the current boundaries of nation-states. Umarov also clearly indicated that the formation of this emirate could not be done peacefully. He called for the “Islamic” entity to be created by forcefully driving out Russian troops. The policy of physically removing one political entity in order to establish an Islamic emirate makes the Caucasus Emirate a jihadist group.

Later, in April 2009, Umarov released another statement in which he justified attacks against Russian civilians (civilians in the Caucasus were largely deemed off-limits by virtually all organized militant groups) and called for more attacks in Russian territory outside of the Caucasus. We saw this policy start to take shape with the November 2009 assassination of Daniil Sysoev, the Orthodox priest murdered at his home in Moscow for allegedly “defaming Islam,” and continue with the train bombing later that month and the Moscow metro bombing in March 2010.

Umarov has made it clear that he is the leader of the Caucasus Emirate and, given the effectiveness of its attacks on Russian soil outside of the Caucasus, Russian authorities are rightfully concerned about the group. Clearly, however, there is more there than just Umarov.

A Confederacy of Militant Groups

The Caucasus Emirate appears to be an umbrella group for many regional militant groups spawned during the second Chechen war (1999-2009). Myriad groups formed under militant commanders, waged attacks (sometimes coordinated with others, sometimes not) against Russian troops and saw their leaders die and get replaced time and again. Some groups disappeared altogether, some opted for political reconciliation and gave up their militant tactics and some produced leaders like the Kadyrovs who formed the current Chechen government. All in all, the larger and more organized Islamist groups seen in the first and second Chechen wars are now broken and weak, their remnants possibly consolidated within Umarov’s Caucasus Emirate.

For example, the militant group Riyadus Salihin, founded by Basayev, seems to have been folded into the Caucasus Emirate. Umarov himself issued a statement confirming the union in April 2009. When Basayev was killed in 2006, he was serving as vice president of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria under Umarov. Significantly, Riyadus Salihin brought Basayev together with Pavel Kosolapov, an ethnic Russian soldier who switched sides during the second Chechen war and converted to Islam. Kosolapov is suspected of being an expert bombmaker and is thought to have made the explosive device used in the November 2009 Moscow-St. Petersburg train attack (which was similar to an August 2007 attack in the same location that used the same amount and type of explosive material) as well as devices employed in the March 2010 Moscow metro attack.

The advantage of having an operative such as Kosolapov working for the Caucasus Emirate cannot be understated. Not only does he apparently have excellent bombmaking tradecraft, but he also served in the Russian military, which means he has deep insight into how the forces working against the Caucasus Emirate operate. The fact that Kosolapov is an ethnic Russian also means that the Caucasus Emirate has an operator who is able to more aptly navigate centers such as Moscow or St. Petersburg, unlike some of his Caucasian colleagues. While Kosolapov is being sought by virtually every law enforcement agency in Russia, altering his appearance may help him evade the dragnet.

In addition to inheriting Kosolapov and Riyadus Salihin, the Caucasus Emirate also appears to have acquired the Dagestani militant group, Shariat Jamaat, one of the oldest Islamist militant groups fighting in Dagestan. In 2007, a spokesman for the group told a Radio Free Europe interviewer that its fighters had pledged allegiance to Doku Umarov and the Caucasus Emirate. Violent attacks have continued apace, with the last attack in Dagestan conducted as recently as March 31, a complex operation that used a follow-on suicide attacker to ensure the death of authorities responding to an initial blast. In all, nine police officers were killed in the attack, including a senior police commander, which occurred just two days after the Moscow metro attacks. The March 31 attack was only the second instance of a suicide VBIED being used in Dagestan, the first occurring in January 2010. This tactic of using a secondary IED to attack first responders is fairly common in many parts of the world, but it is not normally seen in Dagestan. The timing of the attack so close to the Moscow metro bombing and the emergence of VBIEDs in Dagestan opens the possibility that the proliferation of this tactic may be linked to the expansion of the Caucasus Emirate.

In the Crosshairs

The Caucasus Emirate appears to have managed to centralize (or at least take credit for) the efforts of previously disparate militant groups throughout the Caucasus. Russia announced that it would start withdrawing troops from Chechnya in April 2009, but some 20,000 Russian troops remain in the region, and the start of withdrawal has likely led to a resurgence in local militant activity. Ultimately, Moscow will have to live with the threat, but it will work hard to ensure that militant groups stay as fragmented and weak as possible. While the Caucasus Emirate seems to demonstrate a relatively high level of organization, as well as an ability to strike at Russia’s heartland, STRATFOR sources say Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was outraged by the Moscow attacks. This suggests that people will be held accountable for the lapse in security in Moscow and that retribution will be sought in the Caucasus.

Umarov’s founding statement for the Caucasus Emirate, in which he called for the region to recognize the emirate as the rightful regional power and adopt Shariah, marked a shift from the motives of many previous militant leaders and groups, which were more nationalistic than jihadist. This trend of regional militants becoming more jihadist in their outlook increases the likelihood that they will forge substantial links with transnational jihadists such as al Qaeda — indeed, our Russian sources report that there are connections between the group and high-profile jihadists like Ilyas Kashmiri.

However, this alignment with transnational jihadists comes with a price. It could serve to distance the Caucasus Emirate from the general population, which practices a more moderate form of Islam (Sufi). This could help Moscow isolate and neutralize members of the Caucasus Emirate. Indeed, key individuals in the group such as Umarov and Kosolapov are operating in a very hostile environment and can name many of their predecessors who met their ends fighting the Russians. Both of these men have survived so far, but having prodded Moscow so provocatively, they are likely living on borrowed time.

28550  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Green Energy on: April 15, 2010, 09:01:45 AM
Whoops!  I see I have confused matters by posting on a thread which I have locked.  embarassed

As noted a couple of posts above, the threads to use are
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