Dog Brothers Public Forum


Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
December 08, 2016, 08:21:47 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
98790 Posts in 2346 Topics by 1082 Members
Latest Member: James
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 ... 574 575 [576] 577 578 ... 765
28751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The coming elections on: March 03, 2009, 01:23:21 AM
March 2, 2009

Opposition figures and contenders for the Afghan presidency criticized Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday for his decision to hold an early presidential vote. A day earlier, the Afghan leader issued a decree ordering that elections be held in April as opposed to the already-set date of Aug. 20. Afghanistan’s election commission and the United States are both emphasizing the need for elections to be held in late summer as opposed to early spring.

Even in a “normal” country, elections require some preparation time. And in Afghanistan, even the routine preparations associated with organizing polls require a considerable effort. But most important is the need for enhanced security, given the country’s raging Taliban insurgency. An 8,000-strong U.S. Marine expeditionary brigade — the next major ground combat formation scheduled to deploy as part of the Obama administration’s announced plans to send 17,000 additional U.S. forces to Afghanistan — will not arrive until late spring. Whether they can be in position in time for the April election is unclear, but the full 17,000-strong force was intended to be in place ahead of the August elections.

Even with sufficient preparation time and additional Western forces to beef up security, holding an election in Afghanistan will be a herculean task. Much of the discussion and debate regarding this issue focuses on the reasons and the problems associated with Karzai’s move to hold early elections. But there is an even bigger problem brewing in Afghanistan, and the controversy over the election date is but a symptom of that. At a time when the Obama administration is trying to get a grasp of the ground realities in Afghanistan and the wider region in order to craft a strategy to deal with the Taliban and al Qaeda, the challenges Karzai faces are unraveling Afghanistan’s existing political structure.

The Karzai government, with all its shortcomings, has been the foundation of U.S.-led Western efforts to forge a post-Taliban republic. The events of the last seven years — particularly the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Talibanization of Pakistan — have demonstrated that those efforts have floundered. We are at a point where there are international efforts under way exploring the potential for some form of a political settlement with the Pashtun jihadists. The growing domestic and international opposition to Karzai pushes the United States and its allies further into a weak operating position.

Stratfor is of the view that, in the long run, personalities and groups matter very little, but in the short term, they play a pivotal role; this is the case with Karzai. Despite being a weak president, he has been Afghanistan’s only president since the U.S. invasion of the country in late 2001 (first as an interim president, then as an elected president after the vote in 2004). A compromise president, Karzai was able to maintain a delicate balance of sorts between the various factions within the country.

The hope has been that the existing system would hold while efforts are made to tweak it for the purposes of a future power-sharing agreement. But Karzai’s troubles indicate that the system needs to be salvaged, even before there are any moves toward dealing with the jihadist rebels. Any change to the status quo — such as another candidate replacing Karzai as president — could further destabilize the country, especially at such a crucial juncture.

As it is, Afghanistan represents a quagmire for Washington. The uncertainty surrounding Karzai’s future and the political storm gathering next door in Pakistan, where the federal government moved against the government of the country’s largest province, shows that the regional situation is deteriorating faster than the United States can work to contain matters.


NATO: Might Ask China For Support With Afghanistan
March 2, 2009 | 2017 GMT
NATO might ask China to give support for the war in Afghanistan, possibly by opening an alternate supply route to the country through western China, The Associated Press reported March 2, citing an unnamed senior U.S. official. The option is still being considered, and NATO has not decided whether to ask China for help, the official said. He made the statement ahead of a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting set for March 5 in Brussels.

28752  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Looking for fighters for stickfighting TV series on: March 03, 2009, 01:19:49 AM

We'd be delighted to receive a resume/demo reel from GM Anthony-- please give him my regards-- and from you.

The pilot will be shot in the first week of April.  At the very least you have at least until then, and probably a bit more, but do try to get you resume/reel in by then.

28753  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Alignment on: March 03, 2009, 01:14:09 AM

Thank you.  I agree with your comments.   Please continue my education if you would by expounding a bit on spinal stenosis.

Comment:  In the progression that I favor, I seek to align with Mother Earth first-- i.e. work from the feet up.  There is a series of exercises that I have evolved using a medicine ball towards that end that I have not seen put together in similar fashion elsewhere but I have run it by qualified people whom I respect to very positive reviews.

Dean's comments on his feet and thumbs were EXACTLY what I expected.  MOST people have imbalance between external and internal rotation of the femur and this imbalance creates pressure discomfort at the sacrum-- and is part of the chain that creates internal rotation of the shoulders, as flagged by the thumbs.  By the criteria which I believe to be true, the feet should naturally come to rest at parallel, as should the thumbs. 

As the progression I use works its way from the ground up and arrives at the femur-hip joint I use two exercises to release the piriformis and the IT band, and one to activate the adductors.  It is then that I go into the glute-hamstring peak contraction as foundation for releasing the hip flexors.   For cases requiring lots of attention, there is also a particular quad stretch that hits it in its funtion as secondary hip flexor too.

THEN the progression activates the lumbar and continues up the spine with a unique thoracic activation exercise that I learned from Chris Gizzi.  Then it is time for classic rotator cuff stuff.  By the time we get to here, both the feet and the thumbs should be parallel when standing without thought.

There are some additional points concerning the positioning of the neck, head/ears, but with the foundation properly set, they come easily enough.

First and final point.  I ALWAYS let people know that I am self-educated, tell them my intention, and receive agreement that only they are responsible for them and to do only what they are comfortable doing. 

In the case of acute injury-- e.g. as here with C-Kaju, there will be extensive conversation first.  In his case, the conversation will be greatly enabled by his substantial medical knowledge.
PS: Reminder!!!

""The IC (Ischio-Condylar) or Adductor magnus is the third Piton in the pelvic stabilizer triad."

Please expand upon this!!!

Do you have a URL of a picture of it?"
28754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: March 02, 2009, 10:46:55 PM
Interesting thoughts there Doug.

"But as oil hit $120-$150 per barrel, there were places around the globe less prosperous than the US that cried uncle first.  All the data seems to indicate that the current downturn hit the rest of the world first and hardest."

This seems perceptive to me and accords with Alan Reynolds post , , , somewhere here making the point that the downturn started outside of the US.
28755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: March 02, 2009, 10:43:48 PM
Good to see a focused conversation!

Personally I like the idea of the Fair Tax and think it has been misunderstood by many and deliberately slimed by some whose interests it threatens, but at the given moment when we are in a terrible struggle to keep America a free market country, I suspect not much will get done with regard to the FT.  When people are being paniced (sp?) into a lemming stampede that throws away a goodly piece of what makes America America, is not a propitious time for a serious national conversation to persuade people to try of the FT.  By all means continue to lay groundwork and engage with the questions and doubts e.g. as is being done here, but my energies go elsewhere right now.
28756  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Alignment on: March 02, 2009, 10:19:48 PM

I am a layman and you are a doctor.  

That said, I truly am not sure we are not yet fully communicating.  Is your URL's point PNF?  If so that is not what I am describing at all.  

I think I fully understand your point about the patient flattening out his lordisis to diminish pain.  I saw this up close with Guro Inosanto in the mid-late '90s.  He had lost his lordosis entirely and was in great pain.  Guro I. has flattered me by thanking me for telling him that BJJ would be good for his back (I introduced him and the Machado brothers and drove him to his first lesson as well as often served as a body upon which he would practice as well as introduced him to his yoga teacher Sara Petit)

I do not understand your concern that releasing the psoas et al will increase lordosis- quite the contrary!  Please help me understand.


"Reciprocal inhibition
Reciprocal inhibition uses the body's antagonist-inhibition reflex to induce relaxation of a "tight" muscle. For example, when the biceps (in this case the agonist) is flexed, a reflexive inhibition of the triceps (here the antagonist) is induced. Thus loss of range of motion in the triceps can be incrementally restored by flexion of the biceps."

"[edit] Post-isometric relaxation
Immediately after isometric contraction, the neuro-muscular apparatus becomes briefly refractory, or unable to respond to further excitation. Thus, stretching a muscle immediately following its isometric contraction may incrementally restore range of motion."

This sounds like basic PNF if I understand correctly.  If so, I perceive what I have in mind as a bit different.

My thought process includes the idea that tight psoas and other hip flexors (and weak activation of the hip extensors in the peak range of motion!) lead to compression of the lumbar region with attendant pain.  As I understand it, the flattening of the lordosis that Guro I. was a palliative, but not a solution.  

C-Kaju, quick question.   Stand without thinking.  Look down at your feet.   What do you see?  Are they parallel or does one or both of them point outwards?  Additionally, stand in front of a mirror without thinking-- are your thumbs parallel or do they point inwards?

Edited to add that this was posted before seeing C-Kaju's post immediately prior to this one.
28757  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / When civilians shoot and when they think LEOs should on: March 02, 2009, 09:44:50 PM
. New study: When civilians would shoot...and when they think you should

Fascinating experiments by 2 California researchers show that young civilians who might someday be on an OIS jury overwhelmingly disagree with veteran officers about when police are justified in shooting armed, threatening perpetrators.

Interestingly, tests also reveal that when facing shoot/don't shoot decisions of their own, civilians tend to be quick on the trigger--and often wrong in their perceptions. Even in ideal lighting conditions, civilian test subjects show "a very low capacity for distinguishing" a handgun from an innocuous object, such as a power tool. Forced to make a time-pressured decision, the vast majority would shoot a "suspect" who is, in fact, unarmed.

"On one hand," says Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato, "this research should make civilians more sympathetic to officers who mistakenly shoot unarmed subjects under high-stress, real-world conditions.

"But on the other hand, the study shows the woeful lack of understanding most non-cops have about the larger legality and appropriateness of using deadly force. And this can result in serious ramifications in the courtroom."

The findings, by Dr. Matthew Sharps, an expert on eye-witness identification and a psychology professor at California State University-Fresno, and Adam Hess, a lecturer in criminology at the school, are reported in The Forensic Examiner [12/22/08], published by the American College of Forensic Examiners. Their paper, "To shoot or not to shoot: Response and interpretation of response to armed assailants," can be read in full by clicking here.

In their experiments, Sharps and Hess report, they first addressed "how untrained people would react if placed in the position of police officers confronting a situation potentially involving firearms and firearm violence."

Eighty-seven female and 38 male college student volunteers of various races were each shown 1 of 4 high-quality digital photos of simulated "crime scenes." The settings were stage-set with the guidance of veteran FTOs from the Fresno PD, "all highly experienced in tactical realities and the sorts of situations encountered by witnesses and officers on the street."

Three photos showed a lone M/W subject, holding a Beretta 9mm pistol in profile: one depicted a "simple" scene, "sparse in terms of potentially distracting objects"; another a "complex" scene, "including street clutter, garbage cans, and other potentially distracting items"; the third a complex scene that included several bystanders and a young, female "victim" being threatened by the armed perpetrator pointing the gun at her in a 1-handed grip.

In a fourth photo, the scene was the same as the third--except that the Beretta was replaced with a power screwdriver.

Before any pictures were shown, each volunteer was told that a scene "which may or may not involve a crime or sources of danger" would be flashed for 2 seconds or less on a movie screen. "You may intervene" by shooting at the perpetrator "to protect yourself or others if you see an individual holding a weapon," the researchers explained. Participants could "shoot" either by pressing a button or by firing a suction-tipped dart from a toy gun.

"The conditions for all 4 scenes involved uniformly excellent lighting (strong sunlight), and the relative comfort of witnesses being seated," Sharps and Hess write. "There was no movement or occlusion of important elements of the scenes, and of course there was no personal danger for the respondents in the experiment."

The smallest number of individuals decided to shoot at the lone subject holding a gun in the simple environment with no victim. Yet "even under these circumstances, in which no crime was depicted," a strong majority--64%--decided to fire. This despite the fact that the "perpetrator" as depicted could have as easily been target-shooting as committing a crime, the researchers note.

In the complex but victimless scene, 67% chose to shoot. When a victim and bystanders were added, the proportion of shooters rose significantly, to 88%--nearly 9 out of 10.

But most revealingly, when the suspect pointed a power screwdriver instead of a gun, some 85% "shot" him. "In other words," Sharps and Hess write, "respondents were equally likely to shoot the perpetrator whether he was armed or unarmed, as long as there was a potential 'victim' in the scene. It made no [statistically significant] difference whether the perpetrator held a gun or a power tool."

Across the range of scenes, "when untrained people...'confronted' a suspect, the majority decided to shoot him under all conditions....[The] very high number of those who decided to shoot the unarmed suspect under ideal conditions might be inflated even further under the rapidly changing and visually confusing circumstances of a typical police emergency."

The challenge the volunteers faced in distinguishing between the gun and the power tool was relatively easy, compared to officers making split-second decisions in the field. Cops frequently have to employ "rapid cognitive processing" in darkness or semidarkness, often deciding in less than a second whether to shoot, the researchers observe.

"During that time, many factors in a scene must be evaluated: the suspect's motions; where the weapon is aimed; the presence of other people, including other potential suspects, and whether they are in the officer's probable field of fire; other potential sources of hazard, to self, to others, and to the suspect, in the immediate environment....

"In view of these extensive processing demands, errors in perception or cognitive processing are likely to be relatively frequent....

"[E]xtraordinary demands are placed on the cognitive and perceptual abilities of police officers in cases of gun violence. Public perception of these incidents, however, typically does not center on the cognitive or perceptual issues involved."

Instead, officers' errors in shooting suspects brandishing innocuous objects rather than guns are "attributed, in many sources, to racism...and failures of integrity." It seems "incomprehensible, to many people, that officers could possibly mistake a [non-weapon] for a real firearm in the dark."

Among several instances the researchers cite in which officers have been pilloried by the press and public for mistaken perceptions is the infamous case of Amadou Diallo, who was shot and killed by NYPD personnel in 1999 when he abruptly pulled a black wallet from his pocket during a confrontation. More recently, a subject was shot dead in Tacoma, WA, when he pointed a small, black cordless drill directly at officers.

"It should be noted that the situation in which most people [in the experiment] effectively decided to kill an unarmed suspect was similar to the circumstances surrounding" these 2 cases, the researchers state.

The intensely negative reactions of civilians toward officers involved in such incidents may, in reality, "have more to do with highly unrealistic public and mass-media expectations, and with popular ideas about deadly force, than with putative racism or integrity issues on the part of police," Sharps and Hess suggest.

A disturbing insight into the public mind-set regarding police use of deadly force surfaced through a companion experiment conducted by the research team.

Again using digital photography projected onto a screen, 33 females and 11 males recruited from freshman psychology classes were asked to view scenes in which a male or female Caucasian perpetrator, positioned "among typical street clutter," pointed a pistol in a 1-handed grip at a young, female "victim."

After viewing the scene for a full 5 seconds ("far more than ample observation and processing time"), each subject was asked "what a police officer should do on encountering the situation depicted"...and why.

Previously, 3 senior FTOs and a senior police commander had evaluated the proper police response. All concluded that "there was no question that this situation absolutely required a shooting response for both the male and female perpetrator.... [A]ny police officer encountering this situation must fire [immediately] on the order to prevent the probable imminent death of the victim."

To the researchers' surprise, the civilian volunteers overwhelmingly rated this a no-shoot situation. Only 11.36%--roughly 1 out of 10--"felt that a shooting response was called for," the researchers report. "[A]pproximately 9 out of 10...were of the opinion that an officer should not fire...although all of the senior police officers consulted stated that the situation depicted absolutely required a shooting response.

"This result may have important implications for situations in which 12-person juries must evaluate a given police shooting....In any given, randomly selected jury of 12 citizens, these results suggest that on average, 1 or at most 2 jurors out of 12 would be likely to see an officer on trial in an officer-involved shooting situation as justified in shooting a perpetrator, even under the clearest and most appropriate of circumstances."

Sharps and Hess want to conduct further research before drawing any solid gender conclusions. However, "no male respondent felt that a shooting response was justified with a female perpetrator," and only 1 in 16 female respondents favored shooting the male gunman.

The reasons the respondents gave overall for their negative views on shooting graphically illustrate the cop-civilian disconnect. Some thought the suspect wouldn't really fire because of "the daylight, public conditions of the situation." Others "concocted elaborate rules of engagement" under which an officer might shoot: if the suspect fired first, or if the suspect had already committed murder, or if the officer had first tried to "convince" the suspect to drop the gun.

Still others "literally invoked the need for clairvoyance on the part of the police, saying that an officer should not fire...because the suspect 'did not look like she wanted to kill.' Several qualified their responses with the idea that if the police had to fire, they should shoot the perpetrator's leg or arm, because...'a shot to the leg is relatively harmless....' "

The researchers speculate that "many of these unrealistic responses may have derived from confusion of media depictions of police work with the real thing on the part of the public...and probably from unrealistic expectations concerning the workings and capabilities of the human nervous system...."

They conclude: "f these ideas and attitudes are as widespread as the results of this initial research effort suggest, there is substantial need for better education in the realities of crime and police work for the public from which, of course, all jurors are selected....This extreme discrepancy between public perception and actual police policy and operations warrants further attention, both in future research and in the modern criminal justice system....

"t is clear that these [findings] assume special significance for the real-world courtroom circumstances under which actual witnesses, jurors, and public constituencies consider and testify as to the actions of law enforcement personnel in application to real-world violent crime."

"Although this research is a welcome first step in helping to bridge the gap of understanding between many civilians and law enforcement, it's important to remember that the exploration doesn't stop here," says Dr. Lewinski. "Force Science Research Center Advisor Tom Aveni's work on contextual cues makes clear that in order to facilitate a more thorough understanding of these issues, this study should expand beyond static settings and expand into fluid and dynamic scenarios that better reflect issues of threat recognition and response in regard to human movement. Although we're supportive of and grateful for the work that's been done to date, we're hopeful that the focus will move in this direction."

[Our thanks to Wayne Schmidt, executive director of Americans for Effective Law Enforcement, for alerting us to this study. Reminder: register now for AELE's unique workshop on Lethal and Less-Lethal Force, Mar. 9-11 or Oct. 26-28 in Las Vegas. Go to for more information and online sign-up.]
28758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Bolton: Iran clenches its fist on: March 02, 2009, 04:59:48 PM
As Iran prepares to fire up its Bushehr nuclear reactor -- and as the International Atomic Energy Agency governing board meets this week, again confronted with further progress by Tehran's nuclear program -- it is worth asking how the Obama administration is responding.

Well, the State Department recently named Dennis Ross, a seasoned Middle East negotiator, as a "special adviser" to the Gulf region -- a bureaucratic but important prerequisite for direct talks with Iran. Unfortunately, a new envoy and a new diplomatic tone cannot disguise the ongoing substantive collapse of U.S. policy and resolve in the teeth of the Islamic Republic's growing challenge.

Tehran welcomes direct negotiations with Washington. Why not, given the enormous benefits its nuclear programs have accrued during five and a half years of negotiations with Europe? Why not, with America at the table, buy even more time to marry its impending nuclear weapons with its satellite-launching ballistic missile capability?

We have yet to see any evidence that Barack Obama (any more than George W. Bush) knows how to stop Iran. Consider these four blunt threats to our interests that direct talks may only facilitate, not reduce.

First, diplomacy has not and will not reduce Iran's nuclear program. Ironically, European leaders are belatedly feeling hollow in the pits of their diplomatic stomachs, now that their failed diplomacy has left us with almost no alternatives to a nuclear Iran. Imagine their dismay that President Obama is now "opening" to Iran, thus eviscerating their tentative efforts to "close" the diplomatic cover under which Iran has almost achieved the worst-case outcome, deliverable nuclear weapons.

The West's collective failure to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions has persuaded Iran that it faces minimal risks in greater adventurism on other fronts as well. Mr. Obama's discovery of "carrots and sticks," after a half decade of European failure to make that mantra a successful policy, will lead Tehran's mullahs to one inescapable conclusion: They have won the nuclear race, absent imminent regime change or military action.

Second, dealing with Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria as though they are unrelated to Iran's broader threat is exactly backwards. Mr. Obama is again following Europe's mistaken view that ending the Arab-Israeli conflict will help to resolve other regional problems. But concentrating on Gaza only increases Hamas's leverage, just as negotiating with Syria only enhances its (and thereby Iran's) bargaining power.

We should deal instead with diseases, not symptoms. Changing Tehran's Holocaust-denying regime could end its nuclear program, as well as eliminate its continuing financing of and weapons supplies for Hamas and Hezbollah, reduce its malign hold over Syria, and strengthen Lebanon's fragile democracy. Taming Iran is not a magical cure-all, but surely addressing the central threat is more sensible than haphazardly dealing with the symptoms separately.

Third, Iran opposes a freer, more stable Iraq, and U.S. diplomacy will not change that. Given the recent political and military progress in stabilizing Iraq, Tehran holds a weak hand. Accordingly, legitimizing Iran as a factor in Iraqi affairs via diplomacy is patently illogical and would only strengthen Iran at the very moment Mr. Obama has announced the reduction of America's presence and clout in Iraq.

Iran's theocracy knows God's law without the help of mere voters, and it has no taste for the democracy to which Iraqis are growing increasingly accustomed. It is telling that Iran's Baghdad ambassador is a commander of the Revolutionary Army's elite Quds force.

Lastly, Iran has no incentive to "help" in Afghanistan, especially on narcotics, despite a domestic narcotics problem. Tehran's approach to Afghanistan is more subtle and complex. Whatever the desire to reduce its own drug problem, why should Iran not welcome increased sales to the decadent West and a weaker Kabul government? Moreover, if Iran cannot have its own puppets in control, it will welcome a corrupt, divided and incompetent Afghan government, rather than help us achieve the opposite result. As with Iraq, weak and divided neighbors on its borders are assets not liabilities for Tehran -- and ample reason not to assist us in changing these realities.

Hordes of U.S. officials with vague and overlapping mandates -- special envoys, ambassadors, cabinet officials, and, of course, the vice president -- are racing to be in the first photo-op with Iran. But what should focus our attention is the substantive risk that Tehran will use its opportunity to employ diplomacy to undermine U.S. interests.

Iran has already made clear how it will proceed. By recently withholding visas for the U.S. women's badminton team, Iran symbolically dashed administration hopes to update "ping pong" diplomacy. Perhaps in Iran they still play badminton with a clenched fist rather than an open hand.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations" (Simon & Schuster, 2007).
28759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China pushes ahead in cyberwar on: March 02, 2009, 02:26:27 PM
With its vast population and internal-security concerns, China could well have the most extensive and aggressive cyberwarfare capability in the world. This may bode well for China as it strives to become a global power, but it does not engender a business-friendly environment for foreign companies and individuals in China, where there is no such thing as proprietary information. From within or without, defending against China’s cyberwarfare capability is a daunting task.

In late 2008, rumors began circulating that the Chinese government, beginning in May 2009, would require foreign companies operating in China to submit their computer security technology for government approval. Details were vague, but the implication was that computer encryption inside China would become essentially useless. By giving away such information — the type of encryption systems they use and how they are implemented — companies would be showing the Chinese government how to penetrate their computer systems. It is not uncommon for governments and militaries operating on foreign soil to be required to do this, but it is unusual for private companies. (Of course, many governments, such as the United States, refuse to relinquish secure communications even when they have a diplomatic presence in a friendly nation, such as the United Kingdom.)

There is nothing sacred about information in China, where the cyberwarfare capability is deep, pervasive and a threat not only to foreign governments and militaries but also foreign corporations and individuals. STRATFOR sources tell us that the Chinese government already has pertinent information on all Taiwanese citizens of interest to China, a database that could easily be expanded to include other foreign nationals. The Chinese government can decipher most types of encrypted e-mails and documents, and China’s Internet spy network is thought to be the most extensive — if not the most creative — in the world. The government’s strongest tactic is a vast network of “bots” — parasitic software programs that allow their users to hijack networked computers. Individual bots can be building blocks for powerful conglomerations known as “botnets” or “bot armies,” which are fairly conventional formations engaged in a game of numbers not unlike traditional Chinese espionage. It is not the most innovative form of cyberwarfare, but China wields this relatively blunt instrument very effectively.

Indeed, China may well have the most extensive cyberwarfare capability in the world and the willingness to use it more aggressively than any other country. Such capability and intent are based on two key factors. One is the sheer size of China’s population, which is large enough to apply capable manpower to such a pervasive, people-intensive undertaking. In other words, one reason they do it is because they can.

Related Special Topic Page
Another is the Chinese government’s innate paranoia about internal security, born of the constant challenge of extending central rule over a vast territory. This paranoia drove Beijing to build the “Great Firewall,” an ability to control Internet activity inside the country. (Virtually all information coming into and out of China is filtered and can be cut off by the flip of a switch.) This amount of control over the information infrastructure far surpasses the control that the United States and other Western countries — or even Russia — can wield over their infrastructures.

While much of China’s Internet spying is aimed at Taiwan, it is also driven by Beijing’s desire for global-power status. With the United States and Russia both investing in offensive and defensive cyberwarfare capability, China has a vested interest in applying its strengths and devoting its resources to staying ahead of the pack and not being caught in the middle. With its information infrastructure under tight governmental control, China can leverage its massive manpower resources in a manner that allows it to conduct far more direct and holistic cyberwarfare operations than any other country.

Today, with current technology, the Chinese government can hack into most anything, even without information on specific encryption programs. It can do this not only by breaking codes but also through less elaborate means, such as capturing information upstream on Internet servers, which, in China, are all controlled by the government and its security apparatus. If a foreign company is operating in China, it is almost a given that its entire computer system is or will be compromised. If companies or individuals are using the Internet in China, there is an extremely strong possibility that several extensive bots have already infiltrated their systems. STRATFOR sources in the Chinese hotel industry tell of extensive Internet networks in hotels that are tied directly to the Public Security Bureau (PSB, the Chinese version of the FBI). During the 2008 Olympics, Western hotel chains were asked to install special Internet monitoring devices that would give the PSB even more access to Internet activities.

The Chinese Internet spy network relies heavily on bots. Many Chinese Web sites have these embedded bots, and simply logging on to a Web site could trigger the download of a bot onto the host computer. Given that the Internet in China is centrally controlled by the government, these bots likely are on many common Web sites, including English-language news sites and expatriate blogs. It is important to note that the Chinese cyberwarfare capability is not limited by geography. The government can break into Web sites anywhere in the world to install bots.

China has invested considerable time and resources to developing its bot armies, focusing on quantity rather than quality and shying away from more creative forms of hacking such as SQL injections (injecting code to exploit a security vulnerability) and next-generation remote exploits (in such features as chat software and online games). The best thing about bots is that they are easy to spread. An extensive bot army, for example, can be employed both externally and internally, which puts China at a distinct advantage. If Beijing wanted to cut its Internet access to the rest of the world in a crisis scenario, it could still spy on computers beyond its national boundaries, with bots installed on computers around the world. The upkeep of the spy network could easily be accomplished by a few people operating outside of China. By comparison, according to STRATFOR Internet security sources, the United States does not have the ability to shut down its Internet network in a time of crisis, nor could it get into China’s network if it were shut down.

A bot army might be a large, blunt instrument, but finding a bot on a computer can be a Herculean task, beyond the capabilities of some of the most Internet-savvy people. Moreover, the Chinese have started to make their bots “user-friendly.” When bots were first introduced, they could slow down computer operating systems, eventually leading the computer user to reinstall the hard drive (and thus killing the bot). Sources say that Chinese bots now can be so efficient they actually make many computers run better by cleaning up the hard drive, trying to resolve conflicts and so on. They are like invisible computer housecleaners tidying things up and keeping users satisfied. The payment for this housecleaning, of course, is intelligence.

In addition to bots and other malware, the Chinese have many other ways to expand their Internet spy network. A great deal of the computer chips and other hardware used in manufacturing computers for Western companies and governments are made in China; and these components often come from the factory loaded with malware. It is also common for USB flash drives to come from the factory infected. These components make their way into all manner of computers operating in major Western companies and governments, even the Pentagon (which recently was forced to ban the use of USB thumb drives because of a computer security incident).

Recently, a STRATFOR source who formerly worked in Australia’s government was surprised that the Australian government was considering giving a national broadband contract to the Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei Technologies, which is known to have ties to the Chinese government and military. Huawei was the subject of a U.S. investigation that eventually led it to withdraw a joint $2.2 billion bid to buy a stake in 3Com, a U.S. Internet router and networking company. Other STRATFOR sources are wary of Huawei’s relationship with the U.S. company Symantec, maker of popular anti-virus and anti-spyware programs.

For companies operating in China, the best course of action is simply to leave any sensitive materials outside of China and not allow computer networks inside China to come into contact with sensitive materials. A satellite connection would help mitigate the possibility of intrusion from targeted direct hacking, but such networks are not extensive in China and move data fairly slowly. It is really not a matter of what kind of network to use. Although there have been no reports of a next-generation 3G network being hacked in any country, the Chinese government can still access the traffic on the network because it owns the physical infrastructure — telephone wires and poles, fiber optics, switching stations — and maintains tight control over it. Moreover, most 3G-enabled devices also use Bluetooth, which is extremely vulnerable to attack. And neither 3G nor satellite connections necessarily reduce the threat from bots that are propagated over e-mail or by Web-browser exploits. In the end, if your computer or other data device is infected with malware, a secure network provides very little solace.

Even when a foreign traveler leaves sensitive materials at home, there is no guarantee of their safety. The pervasive Chinese bot armies are a formidable foe, and they frequently attack networks and systems in almost every part of the world (the Pentagon defends against thousands of such attacks every day). Although China lacks a certain innovative finesse when it comes to cyberwarfare, it has a massive program with a wide reach. Combating it, from within or without, is a daunting task for any individual, company or superpower.

28760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton; Jefferson on: March 02, 2009, 01:02:15 PM
"The prosperity of commerce is now perceived and acknowledged by all enlightened statesmen to be the most useful as well as the most productive source of national wealth, and has accordingly become a primary object of its political cares."

--Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 12, 27 November 1787
"Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition." --Thomas Jefferson
28761  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: GRAPPLING Y CUCHILLOS... on: March 02, 2009, 12:05:48 PM
!!!Muy bien!!!

El valor de esta leccion se puede ver por ejemplo en el hilo sobre el Heroe quien fue pinchado.
28762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IBD: NEWT!!! on: March 02, 2009, 11:36:56 AM
Eyeing Newt For '12
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, February 27, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Politics: As the Republican Party hunts for new faces for 2012, an old face has intruded from out of right field. Clearly, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is running for president.


Read More: General Politics


Can the man who a decade and a half ago led Republicans to control of Congress for the first time in over 40 years perform another unlikely feat and replace Barack Obama in the White House?

Gingrich gave the speech of his life Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. His pre-planned grand entrance, working an overflow hotel ballroom crowd as he inched to the podium in State of the Union fashion to the rhythmic strains of "Eye of the Tiger," left no doubt of his intention to run for the highest office in the land.

Considering that Gingrich was thrown out of the speakership by his own House Republicans after serving only four years, the roaring CPAC crowd might justly be accused of amnesia. But the real electricity came from Gingrich's extraordinary rhetoric.

Again and again, he referred to the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress as the "left-wing machine." Repeatedly he referred to Attorney General Eric Holder's accusation that America is a nation of cowards — challenging him to a one-on-one "dialogue about cowardice anywhere and anytime."

Gingrich suggested that the best locale for such a talk might be a poor neighborhood in Detroit, a city whose once-prosperous population of 1.8 million was halved by liberal policies that "trap children in schools that are disasters."

The former speaker taunted President Obama for opposing earmarks yet supporting spending legislation containing 8,000 such items, contending that the nation would rally behind this president "if he were to take on the Democratic machine" against wasteful spending.

He mocked the president's vow that taxes wouldn't be raised on those making under $250,000, saying the $650 billion pegged for energy tax revenues in Obama's budget would only hit those below $250k who use electricity, gasoline, heating oil or natural gas.

Those taxed the least under the new plan are apparently only "the Amish in central Pennsylvania," he quipped.

The most inventive content in Gingrich's electrifying address, however, was the political prescriptions for the coming Obama years. "We are bigger than the Republican Party," he said of the political movement that has found the GOP to be its most effective vehicle.

He accused the Bush administration of launching a "Bush-Obama continuity in economic policy" with its financial bailout last fall, noting Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's role in that government intervention.

The political division in America, rather than Democratic-Republican, he said, is "a party of the American people" and "a party of big government and political elites." And unfortunately, according to Gingrich, Republicans became "the right wing of that party" of massive government and elitism.

In this context, remembering that Ronald Reagan as a former Democrat "reached out to Democrats and independents" in all of his major speeches, this Republican revolutionary actually called on conservative activists to recruit candidates to run in Democratic Party primaries against incumbent Democratic members of Congress.

He also touted the audacious economic proposals of his think tank, which include cutting Social Security taxes in half, a zero capital gains tax and matching Ireland's low 12.5% corporate tax rate.

How you sell the scrapping of capital gains taxes, Gingrich said, is by asking Americans how they would like an overnight increase of between 20% and 40% in the value of their 401(k)s and other savings.

As speaker, the talented-but-flawed Newt Gingrich was taken to the cleaners by President Clinton. Veteran Washington reporter Robert Novak found Gingrich guilty of "a mindless tactical incompetence that invites defeat."

But if Washington really is dominated by a "left-wing machine" intent on imposing socialism on America, Republicans may end up turning not to an outsider to fight the Goliath, but to a warrior who knows Washington well.

28763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IBD: BO's Bush policy on: March 02, 2009, 11:32:32 AM
Obama's withdrawal plan would take U.S. forces in Iraq down from a current 142,000 troops to 35,000 to 50,000. Under the status of forces agreement between the U.S. and Iran, negotiated and signed last year by the Bush administration, all forces must be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

In short, though President Obama will get credit, it was Bush's plan — not Obama's.

When Obama first began running for the nation's highest office in 2006, he vowed he would immediately withdraw all U.S. combat forces if elected. At the time, few with any knowledge about the conflict in Iraq took him seriously.

And sure enough, faced with the realities on the ground in Iraq and in the campaign back home, Obama changed his stance last year from immediately withdrawing all combat forces to one of removing, as his campaign Web site said, "one to two combat brigades each month, and (having) all our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months."

Now comes his much-awaited plan. Technically, Obama won't be able keep his most recent promise on troop withdrawals, but he'll come close. For that he can thank President Bush and the highly successful "surge" in troops he and Gen. David Petraeus put in place, making withdrawal possible.

In Friday's remarks, Obama told the assembled Marines: "Today I've come to speak to you about how the war in Iraq will end." But in fact, the actual war has been over for some time. We hate to tell the Bush-haters out there, or to relive painful recent history, but President Bush won it, making the current pullout possible.

That victory was underscored in January when Iraq held largely peaceful elections, in which voters mostly repudiated extremist parties in favor of the moderate leadership of Nouri al-Maliki.

In his comments Friday, Obama noted the progress made.

"Thanks in great measure to your service," he said, "the situation in Iraq has improved. Violence has been reduced substantially from the horrific sectarian killing of 2006 and 2007.

"Al-Qaida in Iraq has been dealt a serious blow by our troops and Iraq's Security Forces, and through our partnership with Sunni Arabs," Obama continued. "The capacity of Iraq's Security Forces has improved, and Iraq's leaders have taken steps toward political accommodation."

He further lauded January's elections showing Iraqis have begun "pursuing their aspirations through peaceful political process."

All very true. Iraq has been a big success, which explains why you never see or hear about it in the mainstream news anymore. Suicide bombings and attacks on troops have become relatively rare, and now that Bush is out of office, there's little political profit remaining for the left in bashing America's bold Mideast initiative.

Whether you agree with Bush or not, he brought a kind of democracy to Iraq that can be found nowhere else in that region. His plan rocked al-Qaida back on its heels, to the point where its survival is in doubt. Iraq is a model.

In short, Obama's policy is really, in most respects, Bush's policy. That the troops can now come home proudly is a tribute to Bush's steadfastness. But Obama will be wise not to remove them all.

We kept troops in Europe and Japan after World War II and in South Korea after the Korean War. Bush's policy proved that democracy can take root where no one thought possible. But as in Europe, Korea and Japan, it must be protected.
28764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: March 02, 2009, 11:18:29 AM
Given the gathering apocalyptic looking storm clouds, I'm thinking the Political Economics thread is becoming a bit unweildy and so begin this one with the latest liberal fascist economic drivel from His Glibness:


Home Invasions
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, February 25, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Activism: The community organizers who helped tank the housing market plan to seize private property being foreclosed. Acorn's "homesteaders" will squat in homes they don't own as Congress members urge them on.


Read More: Economy


Last October, we noted a campaign appearance in late 2007 by then-candidate Barack Obama at the Heartland Democratic Presidential Forum organized by Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change.

Before leaders of community organizing groups including Acorn, Obama pledged: "We're gonna be having meetings all across the country with community organizations so that you have input into the agenda for the next presidency of the United States of America."

The kind of input Acorn had in mind, and the agenda it apparently has set for America, was seen last week after Acorn representatives broke into a foreclosed home in southeast Baltimore, part of its "Home Savers" campaign in at least 22 cities.

Under this program, teams of activists will become squatters in foreclosed homes, daring authorities to forcibly evict them. Among those condoning such defiance of the law is Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, who told the squatters: "Stay in your homes. If the American people, anybody out there is being foreclosed, don't leave."

Is this what Congress had in mind when it included several billion dollars in the "stimulus" bill for groups such as Acorn to engage in "neighborhood stabilization" activities? This is like giving fire prevention funds to arsonists.

The irony here is that it was Acorn, under the cover of the Community Reinvestment Act, that intimidated banks into making risky loans in the name of "fairness." And it was Acorn that organized to intimidate financial institutions into giving what have been called "ninja" loans — for no income, no job, no assets — to people who could not afford them.

When Acorn broke into the house at 315 South Ellwood Ave. in Baltimore, member Louis Beverly, after cutting a lock with bolt cutters, proclaimed: "This is our house now." But it isn't Acorn's house. Nor is it the house of former owner Donna Hanks, who bought it in the summer of 2001.

As columnist Michelle Malkin points out, both the house and Ms. Hanks have an interesting history. The house went into foreclosure in the spring of 2006. Somewhere between that purchase and foreclosure, Ms. Hanks refinanced the original home loan to the tune of $270,000. That's a lot of extra cash.

In July 2006, she filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 and as part of the deal agreed to pay $10,500 in arrears, which resulted in a halt to the 2006 foreclosure. In September 2006, the bankruptcy court ordered her employer to deduct $340 a month from her bartender salary to pay down the debt.

According to court records, that still left her $1,228 a month in take-home pay from that job. She also claimed second and third jobs bringing home another $1,625 a month. In addition, there was a pro-rated tax refund in the pot. In February 2008, a second foreclosure was filed. Hanks had two years to pay and didn't. She tried to game the system and failed.

President Obama now proposes spending $275 billion to help us pay our neighbors' mortgages and the mortgages of people like Ms. Hanks. Consequences are the incentive to avoid risky behavior.

So why are we rewarding failure and abolishing consequences? Many of the homeowners the government is bailing out took unnecessarily chancy loans that helped bring about the financial crisis.

Some people legitimately need help. Most people don't. More than 90% of Americans are still employed, and more than 90% of homeowners still pay their mortgages on time. Paying one's taxes is patriotic, we're told. So is paying one's mortgage.

Also see  and the following days-- one of my very favorite strips!
28765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Rep Ryan' on: March 02, 2009, 03:34:04 AM
Inheriting countless challenges, Congress and the Obama administration have moved quickly on many fronts to implement their economic agenda. After two months of drastic interventions, has hope replaced fear, and confidence pushed aside uncertainty? Hardly.

David GothardThe budget the president released last week, however, does provide some certainty about where we are headed: higher taxes on small businesses, work and capital investment.

Add to this the costly burdens of a cap-and-trade carbon emissions scheme and an effective nationalization of health care, and it is clear that the government is going to grow while the economy will shrink. In a nutshell, the president's budget seemingly seeks to replace the American political idea of equalizing opportunity with the European notion of equalizing results.

A constructive opposition party should be willing to call out the majority when it falls short. More important, Republicans must offer alternatives. In this spirit, here is what I would do differently:

- A pro-growth tax policy. Rather than raise the top marginal income tax rate to 39.6%, it should be dropped to 25%. The lower tax brackets should be collapsed to one 10% rate on the first $100,000 for couples. And the top corporate tax rate should be lowered to 25%. This modest reform would put American companies' tax liability more in line with the prevailing rates of our competitors.

We've seen 10 years of growth in our equity markets wiped out in recent months, while 401(k)s, IRAs and college savings plans are down by an average of 40%. The administration and congressional Democrats want to raise capital gains tax rates by a third. Instead, we should eliminate the capital gains tax. It supplies about 4% of federal revenues, yet it places a substantial drag on economic growth. Individuals already pay taxes on income when they earn it. They should not be socked again when they are saving and investing for their retirement and their children's education.

Capital gains taxes are a needless burden on investment, savings and risk-taking, activities in short supply these days. Getting rid of this tax could help establish a floor on stock prices and stem the decline in the value of retirement plans by increasing the after-tax rate of return on capital.

Democrats oppose this, playing on emotions of fear and envy. But while class warfare may make good short-term politics, it produces terrible economics.

- Guarantee sound money. For the last decade, the Federal Reserve's easy-money policy has helped fuel the housing bubble that precipitated our current crisis. We need to return to a sound money policy. That would end uncertainty, help keep interest rates down, and increase the confidence entrepreneurs and investors need to take the risks required for future growth.

I believe the best way to guarantee sound money is to use an explicit, market-based price guide, such as a basket of commodities, in setting monetary policy. A more politically realistic path to price stability would be for the Fed to explicitly embrace inflation targeting.

Transcripts from recent meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee meetings suggest that the Fed may already be moving in this direction. This would be an improvement over the status quo: It could help combat near-term deflation concerns while also calming the market's longer-term inflation fears.

- Fix the financial sector. A durable economic recovery requires a solution to the banking crisis. There are no easy or painless solutions, but the most damaging solution over the long term would be to nationalize our financial system. Once we put politicians in charge of allocating credit and resources in our economy, it is hard to imagine them letting go.

The underlying structural problem at our financial institutions is the toxic assets infecting their balance sheets and impairing their operations. In order to help purge these assets from the system, we need a government-sponsored, comprehensive solution, but one that is transparent and temporary, and which leverages -- rather than chases away -- private-sector capital.

The general idea is to establish an entity or fund to purchase troubled assets from financial institutions and then hold them until they could be sold once the market has recovered. The Treasury has announced its intention to use capital from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, along with financing from the Fed's soon-to-be operational Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, to set up such an entity. It will be a tall task to get all the details and incentives right, but the administration's general strategy appears to be sound.

A good model for this government-sponsored entity is the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC), which helped clean up bank failures in the wake of the savings-and-loan crisis in the late 1980s and early 1990s by absorbing and selling off bad bank assets. The circumstances of today's financial sector are different, but the goals of our current efforts should mirror the general merits of an RTC-like entity. We should aim to recoup a portion of our initial expenditures, and we should leave only a fleeting government footprint on the financial sector and the economy.

- Get a grip on entitlements. With $56 trillion in unfunded liabilities and our social insurance programs set to implode, we must tackle the entitlement crisis. President Barack Obama deserves credit for his recent efforts to build a bipartisan consensus on entitlement reform. But we can't solve the entitlement problem unless we acknowledge why the costs are exploding, and then take action.

I have proposed legislation, called "A Roadmap for America's Future," that would bring permanent solvency to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. By transforming these open-ended entitlements into a system with a defined benefit safety net for the low-income and chronically ill, in conjunction with an individually owned, defined contribution system for health and retirement, we can reach the goal of these programs without bankrupting the next generation. It would also show the world and the credit markets that we are serious about our debt and unfunded liabilities.

Republicans can help Washington become part of the solution, not part of the problem. We can do this by pushing to enact tax policies that boost incentives for economic growth and job creation, focus the Fed on price stability, fix our banking system to get credit flowing again, stop reckless spending, and reform our entitlement programs.

Our economy is begging for clear leadership that inspires confidence and hope that the entrepreneurial spirit will flourish again. Our goal must be to offer Americans that leadership.

Mr. Ryan, from Wisconsin, is ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee and also serves on Ways and Means.
28766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: BO's military budget on: March 02, 2009, 03:32:10 AM
For all of his lavish new spending plans, President Obama is making one major exception: defense. His fiscal 2010 budget telegraphs that Pentagon spending is going to be under pressure in the years going forward.

The White House proposes to spend $533.7 billion on the Pentagon, a 4% increase over 2009. Include spending on Iraq and Afghanistan, which would be another $130 billion (or a total of $664 billion), and overall defense spending would be around 4.2% of GDP, the same as 2007.

APHowever, that 4% funding increase for the Pentagon trails the 6.7% overall rise in the 2010 budget -- and defense received almost nothing extra in the recent stimulus bill. The Joint Chiefs requested $584 billion for 2010 and have suggested a spending floor of 4% of GDP. Both pleas fell on deaf ears. The White House budget puts baseline defense spending at 3.7% of GDP, not including Iraq and Afghanistan. The budget summary pleads "scarce resources" for the defense shortfall, which is preposterous given the domestic spending blowout.

More ominously, Mr. Obama's budget has overall defense spending falling sharply starting in future years -- to $614 billion in 2011, and staying more or less flat for a half decade. This means that relative both to the economy and especially to domestic priorities, defense spending is earmarked to decline. Some of this assumes less spending on Iraq, which is realistic, but it also has to take account of Mr. Obama's surge in Afghanistan. That war won't be cheap either.

The danger is that Mr. Obama may be signaling a return to the defense mistakes of the 1990s. Bill Clinton slashed defense spending to 3% of GDP in 2000, from 4.8% in 1992. We learned on 9/11 that 3% isn't nearly enough to maintain our commitments and fight a war on terror -- and President Bush spent his two terms getting back to more realistic outlays for a global superpower.

American defense needs are, if anything, even more daunting today. Given challenges in the Mideast and new dangers from Iran, an erratic Russia, a rising China, and potential threats in outer space and cyberspace, the U.S. should be in the midst of a concerted military modernization. Mr. Obama's budget isn't adequate to meet those challenges.

That means Secretary of Defense Robert Gates faces some hard choices when he finishes his strategic review this spring. An early glimpse will come soon when the Pentagon must decide whether to continue to purchase more Lockheed F-22 Raptors. The Air Force is set to buy 183 of the next generation fighters, though it wanted 750, which would be enough to give the U.S. air supremacy over battlefields over the next three decades. Now the fighter may be prematurely mothballed.

Weapons programs, such as missile defense or the Army's Future Combat Systems, are also in danger. Others have been ridiculously delayed. The Air Force flies refueling tankers from the Eisenhower era. Mr. Obama's own 30-something Marine One helicopter is prone to break down and technologically out of date.

The Pentagon shouldn't get a blank check, though much of its procurement waste results from the demands made by Congress. Mr. Gates has also rightly focused on the immediate priority of irregular warfare and counterinsurgency. But history also teaches that a nation that downplays potential threats -- such as from China in outer space -- is likely to find itself ill-prepared when they arrive.

The U.S. ability to project power abroad has been crucial to maintaining a relatively peaceful world, but we have been living off the fruits of our Cold War investments for too long. We can't afford another lost defense decade.

28767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Volker on: March 02, 2009, 12:25:12 AM
I really feel a sense of profound disappointment coming up here. We are having a great financial problem around the world. And finance doesn't work without some sense of trust and confidence and people meaning what they say. You take their oral word and their written word as a sign that their intentions will be carried out.

The letter of invitation I had to this affair indicated that there would be about 40 people here, people with whom I could have an intimate conversation. So I feel a bit betrayed this evening. Forty has swelled to I don't know how many, and I don't know how intimate our conversation can be. But I will, at the very least, be informal.

There is a certain interest in what's going on in the financial world. And I will disappoint you by saying I don't know all the answers. But I know something about the problem. Let me just sketch it out a little bit and suggest where we may be going. There is a lot of talk about how we get out of this, but I think it's worth remembering, or analyzing, how this all started.

This is not an ordinary recession. I have never, in my lifetime, seen a financial problem of this sort. It has the makings of something much more serious than an ordinary recession where you go down for a while and then you bounce up and it's partly a monetary - but a self-correcting - phenomenon. The ordinary recession does not bring into question the stability and the solidity of the whole financial system. Why is it that this is so much more profound a crisis? I'm not saying it's going to get anywhere as serious as the Great Depression, but that was not an ordinary business cycle either.

This phenomenon can be traced back at least five or six years. We had, at that time, a major underlying imbalance in the world economy. The American proclivity to consume was in full force. Our consumption rate was about 5% higher, relative to our GNP or what our production normally is. Our spending - consumption, investment, government -- was running about 5% or more above our production, even though we were more or less at full employment.

You had the opposite in China and Asia, generally, where the Chinese were consuming maybe 40% of their GNP - we consumed 70% of our GNP. They had a lot of surplus dollars because they had a lot of exports. Their exports were feeding our consumption and they were financing it very nicely with very cheap money. That was a very convenient but unsustainable situation. The money was so easy, funds were so easily available that there was, in effect, a kind of incentive to finding ways to spend it.

When we finished with the ordinary ways of spending it - with the help of our new profession of financial engineering - we developed ways of making weaker and weaker mortgages. The biggest investment in the economy was residential housing. And we developed a technique of manufacturing class D mortgages but putting them in packages which the financial engineers said were class A.

So there was an enormous incentive to take advantage of this bit of arbitrage - cheap money, poor mortgages but saleable mortgages. A lot of people made money through this process. I won't go over all the details, but you had then a normal business cycle on top of it. It was a period of enthusiasm. Everybody was feeling exuberant. They wanted to invest and spend.

You had a bubble first in the stock market and then in the housing market. You had a big increase in housing prices in the United States, held up by these new mortgages. It was true in other countries as well, but particularly in the United States. It was all fine for a while, but of course, eventually, the house prices levelled off and began going down. At some point people began getting nervous and the whole process stopped because they realized these mortgages were no good.

You might ask how it went on as long as it did. The grading agencies didn't do their job and the banks didn't do their job and the accountants went haywire. I have my own take on this. There were two things that were particularly contributory and very simple. Compensation practices had gotten totally out of hand and spurred financial people to aim for a lot of short-term money without worrying about the eventual consequences. And then there was this obscure financial engineering that none of them understood, but all their mathematical experts were telling them to trust. These two things carried us over the brink.

One of the saddest days of my life was when my grandson - and he's a particularly brilliant grandson - went to college. He was good at mathematics. And after he had been at college for a year or two I asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up. He said, "I want to be a financial engineer." My heart sank. Why was he going to waste his life on this profession?

A year or so ago, my daughter had seen something in the paper, some disparaging remarks I had made about financial engineering. She sent it to my grandson, who normally didn't communicate with me very much. He sent me an email, "Grandpa, don't blame it on us! We were just following the orders we were getting from our bosses." The only thing I could do was send him back an email, "I will not accept the Nuremberg excuse."

There was so much opaqueness, so many complications and misunderstandings involved in very complex financial engineering by people who, in my opinion, did not know financial markets. They knew mathematics. They thought financial markets obeyed mathematical laws. They have found out differently now. You know, they all said these events only happen once every hundred years. But we have "once every hundred years" events happening every year or two, which tells me something is the matter with the analysis.

So I think we have a problem which is not an ordinary business cycle problem. It is much more difficult to get out of and it has shaken the foundations of our financial institutions. The system is broken. I'm not going to linger over what to do about it. It is very difficult. It is going to take a lot of money and a lot of losses in the banking system. It is not unique to the United States. It is probably worse in the UK and it is just about as bad in Europe and it has infected other economies as well. Canada is relatively less infected, for reasons that are consistent with the direction in which I think the financial markets and financial institutions should go.

So I'll jump over the short-term process, which is how we get out of the mess, and consider what we should be aiming for when we get out of the mess. That, in turn, might help instruct the kind of action we should be taking in the interim to get out of it.

In the United States, in the UK, as well - and potentially elsewhere - things are partly being held together by totally extraordinary actions by a central bank. In the United States, it's the Federal Reserve, in London, the Bank of England. They are providing direct credit to markets in massive volume, in a way that contradicts all the traditions and laws that have governed central banking behaviour for a hundred years.

So what are we aiming for? I mention this because I recently chaired a report on this. It was part of the so-called Group of 30, which has got some attention. It's a long and rather turgid report but let me simplify what the conclusion is, which I will state more boldly than the report itself does.

In the future, we are going to need a financial system which is not going to be so prone to crisis and certainly will not be prone to the severity of a crisis of this sort. Financial systems always fluctuate and go up and down and have crises, but let's not have a big crisis that undermines the whole economy. And if that's the kind of financial system we want and should have, it's going to be different from the financial system that has developed in the last 20 years.

What do I mean by different? I think a primary characteristic of the system ought to be a strong, traditional, commercial banking-type system. Probably we ought to have some very large institutions - or at least that's the way the market is going - whose primary purpose is a kind of fiduciary responsibility to service consumers, individuals, businesses and governments by providing outlets for their money and by providing credit. They ought to be the core of the credit and financial system.

This kind of system was in place in the United States thirty years ago and is still in place in Canada, and may have provided support for the Canadian system during this particularly difficult time. I'm not arguing that you need an oligopoly to the extent you have one in Canada, but you do know by experience that these big commercial banking institutions will be protected by the government, de facto. No government has been willing to permit these institutions, or the creditors and depositors to these institutions, to be damaged. They recognize that the damage to the economy would be too great.

What has happened recently just underscores that. And I think we're at the point where we can no longer fool ourselves by saying that is not the case. The government will support these institutions, which in turn implies a closer supervision and regulation of those institutions, a more effective regulation than we've had, at least in the United States, in the recent past. And that may involve a lot of different agencies and so forth. I won't get into that.

But I think it does say that those institutions should not engage in highly risky entrepreneurial activity. That's not their job because it brings into question the stability of the institution. They may make a lot of money and they may have a lot of fun, in the short run. It may encourage pursuit of a profit in the short run. But it is not consistent with the stability that those institutions should be about. It's not consistent at all with avoiding conflict of interest.

These institutions that have arisen in the United States and the UK that combine hedge funds, equity funds, large proprietary trading with commercial banks, have enormous conflicts of interest. And I think the conflicts of interest contribute to their instability. So I would say let's get rid of that. Let's have big and small commercial banks and protect them - it's the service part of the financial system.

And then we have the other part, which I'll call the capital market system, which by and large isn't directly dealing with customers. They're dealing with each other. They're trading. They're about hedge funds and equity funds. And they have a function in providing fluid markets and innovating and providing some flexibility, and I don't think they need to be so highly regulated. They're not at the core of the system, unless they get really big. If they get really big then you have to regulate them, too. But I don't think we need to have close regulation of every peewee hedge fund in the world.

So you have this bifurcated - in a sense - financial system that implies a lot about regulation and national governments. If you're going to have an open system, you have got to get much more cooperation and coordination from different countries. I think that's possible, given what we're going through. You've got to do something about the infrastructure of the system and you have to worry about the credit rating agencies.

These banks were relying on credit rating agencies while putting these big packages of securities together and selling them. They had practically - they would never admit this - given up credit departments in their own institutions that were sophisticated and well-developed. That was a cost centre - why do we need it, they thought. Obviously that hasn't worked out very well.

We have to look at the accounting system. We have to look at the system for dealing with derivatives and how they're settled. So there are a lot of systemic issues. The main point I'm making is that we want to emerge from this with a more stable system. It will be less exciting for many people, but it will not warrant - I don't think the present system does, either -- $50 million dollar paydays in that central part of the system. Or even $25 or $100 million dollar paydays. If somebody can go out and gamble and make that money, okay. But don't gamble with the public's money. And that's an important distinction.

It's interesting that what I'm arguing for looks more like the Canadian system than the American system. When we delivered this report in a press conference, people said, "Oh you mean, banks won't be able to have hedge funds? What are you talking about?" That same day, Citigroup announced, "We want to get rid of all that stuff. We now realize it was a mistake. We want to go back to our roots and be a real commercial bank." I don't know whether they'll do that or not. But the fact that one of the leading proponents of the other system basically said, "We give up. It's not the right system," is interesting.

So let me just leave it at that. We've got more than 40 people here but they're permitted to ask questions, is that the deal?
28768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Sleep walking dog on: March 01, 2009, 11:49:54 PM
28769  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Estudio en los riesgos de ser heroe on: March 01, 2009, 11:45:36 PM
Gracias por entrar la platica  smiley


?Como sentirias en tu corazon al hacer nada?

?Como sentirias si tu mujer o tu hijo te viera hacer nada?
28770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 01, 2009, 08:18:05 PM
A scathing piece of political humor. THIS is the way forward for we of the American Creed.
28771  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Estudio en los riesgos de ser heroe on: March 01, 2009, 06:28:00 PM
Se ve mejor en ese clip:

y unos cosas mas en este:
28772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hayek on: March 01, 2009, 03:45:13 PM
Friedrich A. Hayek in "The Constitution of Liberty" (1960), on the myth that progressive tax rates are necessary to fund large increases in government spending, lest an intolerable burden be placed on the poor:

Not only is the revenue derived from the high rates levied on large incomes, particularly in the highest brackets, so small compared with the total revenue as to make hardly any difference to the burden borne by the rest; but for a long time . . . it was not the poorest who benefited from it but entirely the better-off working class and the lower strata of the middle class who provided the largest number of voters.

It would probably be true, on the other hand, to say that the illusion that by means of progressive taxation the burden can be shifted substantially onto the shoulders of the wealthy has been the chief reason why taxation has increased as fast as it has done and that, under the influence of this illusion, the masses have come to accept a much heavier load than they would have done otherwise. The only major result of the policy has been the severe limitation of the incomes that could be earned by the most successful and thereby gratification of the envy of the less-well-off.

28773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Just say "No!" on: March 01, 2009, 03:44:13 PM

Recently, a firestorm ignited in Wisconsin when I, as Milwaukee County executive, refused to submit a wish list to Gov. Jim Doyle for items in the federal "stimulus" package.

Gov. Doyle -- like other politicians -- had lined up at the federal trough begging for billions in "free money" to cover budget deficits and to fuel new spending. He and others simply couldn't understand and were outraged that I didn't join them, and that I didn't relent even after the president signed the stimulus bill into law.

My explanation is simple. First, this money isn't free. Second, under Gov. Doyle our state has borrowed vast sums of money and avoided making tough budget decisions while expanding government programs. In three biannual budgets since he took office in 2003, new state bonding exceeded new tax revenue collections by $2.1 billion. During good times, the governor had been borrowing money to underwrite expansions of health care, education and environmental programs. If he is bailed out now, the federal stimulus funds will only enable the governor and others to go on spending and even taking on new obligations that will lead to larger deficits down the road. Third, if we grow government rather than private-sector jobs, we will not help the economy. Strong leadership, honest budgeting and tax cuts would do a lot more.

This burst housing bubble that led to the recession was created when millions of people were allowed (or encouraged) to spend borrowed money on homes they couldn't afford and were later forced into foreclosure.

Apparently Washington politicians learned nothing from this process. They rushed to spend $787 billion of borrowed money on new government programs in the name of economic stimulus. But even this loan of taxpayer money -- essentially the largest mortgage in history -- will come due. When it does, our children and grandchildren will pay for this imprudence.

As popular as the federal "stimulus" package is with Washington politicians, it is more popular among state and local politicians who view federal money as a cure for their fiscal woes.

Wisconsin is afflicted with fiscal woes. In every budget he has signed, Gov. Doyle postponed difficult decisions using accounting gimmicks and excessive bonding to pay for ongoing operational costs. The most egregious example is the damage done to the transportation fund over the past six years, which uses state gas taxes and vehicle registration fees to fund road projects. The governor has raided the segregated fund for a total of $1.2 billion to cover ongoing operational costs for government programs. He's partially replaced the raided funds with $865.5 million in bonds.

As a result of borrowing against tomorrow to live for today, the governor left Wisconsin's budget vulnerable. So in the fall of 2008 when recession caused a sharp decline in tax revenue, the state was forced into the red.

Wisconsin now faces an unprecedented $5.75 billion budget deficit, fourth-largest in the nation. Many municipalities also face deficits. My county, however, finished fiscal year 2007 with a $7.9 million surplus and will break even for fiscal year 2008 when the books are closed next month. Why? Because we made tough budget decisions demanded by the taxpayers.

State and local officials who failed to do so are looking to the federal government for a bailout. But what happens when the stimulus money is gone? Is the federal government committed to funding the projects it will now underwrite forever? I'm not willing to bet on it.

The stimulus is a classic bait-and-switch. Once the highways are built and social-service case loads have increased, Wisconsin will be left with the bill to maintain the new roads and services. This will force Wisconsin to raise new taxes. Gov. Doyle and legislative Democrats are already discussing higher taxes on hospitals, retailers, employers and even Internet downloads to feed their spending addiction.

The stimulus is also a bait-and-switch on employment. While the stimulus package might create a few construction jobs, the federal money will run out and those workers will lose their jobs. Even worse, most of the money is actually spent on new government programs and on bailing out failed state and local governments.

For the vast majority of residents of my state, the stimulus funds will not help them pay the mortgage or replenish their depleted retirement savings as they worry about being laid off.

True economic stimulus creates sustainable private-sector jobs. The fastest, most effective way to create them is to reduce taxes and implement regulatory and fiscal policies that encourage job growth and economic investment. History has shown repeatedly from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan that as taxes are cut, consumers spend more and investors put more money in the economy. This, in turn, creates jobs, and grows the economy.

Too many politicians confuse more government spending with economic recovery. I believe that's the wrong approach, and I will not submit a wish list for new government spending. Excessive spending will only lead to higher taxes, and that will drive jobs away when we need them the most.

We need to use these challenging times as an opportunity to streamline government and reduce the tax burden on working families. In 2002, during my first campaign for county executive, I promised to spend taxpayer money as if it were my own. If government -- at all levels -- were to do just that, we could reduce taxes and stimulate the economy. That would put people back to work again. And that is something on my wish list.

Mr. Walker, a Republican, is Milwaukee County executive.
28774  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Estudio en los riesgos de ser heroe on: March 01, 2009, 08:26:11 AM
100% de acuerdo Cecilio.

Por flojera  rolleyes uso un programa de traduccion para traducir algo que originalmente escribi' en ingles.  Ojala que sea entendible:


Algunas observaciones iniciales rápidas:

A) En 0:04 vemos a un hombre empuja un botón para abrir la puerta al tren. He visto esto en Suiza (y presumiblemente en otra parte en Europa) pero nunca en EEUU;

B) ?Héroe veia problema comenzar en el coche de tren?

C) En 0:14 nota número varias héroes potenciales siguen al Tipo Malo fuera de la puerta inmediatamente -- que sugiere clamor que general puede haber iniciado -- quizás esto explica la firmeza rápida de Héroe como él abre su puerta y los bustos un movimiento con virtualmente no vacilación;¿

D) 0:18 Ya tiene tiene cuchillo en la mano Tipo Malo?  La calidad visual pobre lo hace duro para mí decir. Si sí, entonces Heroe no lo vio.  ¿Lo conseguir acceso al Tipo si no, entonces cuándo Malo?  Sospecho que el cuchillo fue ya en la mano basada sobre la reacción del hombre que lleva la ropa limpiada en seco.  No prueba cierta, pero sugestiva.

E) 0:19 La patada voladora sugiere la entrenamiento martial a mí.  Sí es desaliñado, pero sirve su propósito a romper BG corre. ¿Yo no pienso que una persona no capacitada habría tratado esto, pero quizás en Europa donde muchas personas poseen excelentes habilidades de fútbol?  Note el movimiento prudente Malo de Tipo que apuñala en la patada voladora de héroe -- indicando él probablemente tuvo el cuchillo en la mano ya.

F) 0:24 vemos una respuesta instintiva típica de tipo que lucha cuerpo a cuerpo; Tipo Malo ya hace la Máquina de coser de la Prisión. Los ataques son reconocidos como que ataques de cuchillo bastante rápidamente y el Héroe ya han soltado su asidero en 0:29. Esto parece a mí ser una reacción rápida bonita. He visto longitud en pies de personas ni dar cuenta de.

G) En los segundos finales nosotros conseguimos una vista buena de un cuchillo bastante grande.

El comentario adicional: Por mi sentido del mundo, excepcional aquí está el número de personas que responden por avanzar vigorosamente.

Mi ingles original:

Some quick initial observations:

a) at 0:04 we see a man push a button to open the door to the train.  I've seen this in Switzerland (and presumably elsewhere in Europe) but never in the US;

b) Did Hero see problem start in the train car?

c)  At 0:14 note various potential heroes follow the Bad Guy out of the door immediately-- which suggests general hue and cry may have initiated-- perhaps this explains the rapid decisiveness of Hero as he opens his door and busts a move with virtually no hesitation;

d)  0:18  Does Bad Guy have knife in hand?  Poor visual quality makes it hard for me to tell.  If yes, then H missed it.  If not, then when did Bad Guy access it?  I suspect the knife was already in the hand based upon the reaction of the man carrying the dry-cleaned clothes.  Not proof certain, but suggestive.

e) 0:19   The flying kick suggests training to me.  Yes it is sloppy, but it serves its purpose in breaking BG's sprint.  I do not think an untrained person would have tried this, but perhaps in Europe where many people possess excellent soccer skills?  Note the Bad Guy’s  forehanded stabbing motion at the hero’s flying kick-- indicating he probably had the knife in hand already.

f) 0:24   We see a typical instinctive grappling type response; Bad Guy is already doing the Prison Sewing Machine.  The attacks are recognized as knife attacks quite quickly and Hero has already released his hold at 0:29.  This seems to me to be a pretty quick reaction.  I've seen footage of people not even realizing.

g) In the final seconds we get a pretty good view of a rather large knife.

Additional comment:  Per my sense of the world, unusual here is the number of people who respond by vigorously coming forward.

28775  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Ischio-Condylar on: March 01, 2009, 08:11:07 AM
"The IC (Ischio-Condylar) or Adductor magnus is the third Piton in the pelvic stabilizer triad."

Please expand upon this!!!

Do you have a URL of a picture of it?
28776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: March 01, 2009, 08:01:56 AM
Top Mexico police charged with favoring drug cartel

02:49 PM CST on Saturday, January 24, 2009
Associated Press

MEXICO CITY – President Felipe Calderon's war on drug trafficking has led to his own doorstep, with the arrest of a dozen high-ranking officials with alleged ties to Mexico's most powerful drug gang, the Sinaloa Cartel.

The U.S. praises Calderon for rooting out corruption at the top. But critics say the arrests reveal nothing more than a timeworn government tactic of protecting one cartel and cracking down on others.

Operation Clean House comes just as the U.S. is giving Mexico its first installment of $400 million in equipment and technology to fight drugs. Most will go to a beefed-up federal police agency run by the same people whose top aides have been arrested as alleged Sinaloa spies.

"If there is anything worse than a corrupt and ill-equipped cop, it is a corrupt and well-equipped cop," said criminal justice expert Jorge Chabat, who studies the drug trade.

U.S. drug enforcement agents say they have no qualms about sending support to Mexico.

"We've been working with the Mexican government for decades at the DEA," said Garrison Courtney, spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration. "Obviously, we ensure that the individuals we work with are vetted."

Agents who conduct raids have long suspected Mexican government ties to Sinaloa, and rival drug gangs have advertised the alleged connection in banners hung from freeways. While raids against the rival Gulf cartel have netted suspects, those against Sinaloa almost always came up empty – or worse, said Agent Oscar Granados Salero of the Federal Investigative Agency, Mexico's equivalent of the FBI.

"Whenever we were trying to serve arrest warrants, they were already waiting for us, and a lot of colleagues lost their lives that way," Salero said.

The U.S. government estimates that the cartels smuggle $15 billion to $20 billion in drug money across the border each year.

Over the last five months, officials from the Mexican Attorney General's office, the federal police and even Mexico's representatives to Interpol have been detained on suspicion of acting as spies for Sinaloa or its one-time ally, the Beltran Leyva gang. An officer who served in Calderon's presidential guard was detained in December on suspicion of spying for Beltran Leyva.

Gerardo Garay, formerly the acting federal police chief, is accused of protecting the Beltran Leyva brothers and stealing money from a mansion during an October drug raid. Former drug czar Noe Ramirez, who was supposed to serve as point man in Calderon's anti-drug fight, is accused of taking $450,000 from Sinaloa.

Most of such tips are coming from a Mexican federal agent who infiltrated the U.S. embassy for the Beltran Leyva drug cartel. No such infiltrators have been found for the Gulf cartel, which controls most drug shipments in eastern Mexico and Central America. Sinaloa controls Pacific and western routes.

The DEA's Courtney agrees that there has been a greater crackdown on the Gulf Cartel in both the U.S. and Mexico, with more than 600 members of the gang arrested in September. But he declined to answer questions about Mexico favoring Sinaloa.

Calderon has long acknowledged corruption as an obstacle to his offensive, which involved sending more than 20,000 soldiers to battle drug trafficking throughout the country. The U.S. aid plan includes technology aimed at improving the way Mexico vets and supervises police.

The president vows to create a "new generation of police," consolidating agencies under Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna, who heads all federal law enforcement.

That's what worries Granados Salero and other agents. So many of Garcia Luna's associates are under suspicion of Sinaloa ties that many wonder how he could not have known.

Calderon has publicly backed Garcia Luna, calling him "a man of great capacity."

"Obviously, if there was any doubt about his honesty, or any evidence that would call into question his honesty, he would certainly no longer be the secretary of public safety," the president said recently.

But some see the alleged Sinaloa ties with Garcia Luna's lieutenants as an old tactic used widely under the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico for 71 years with a tight fist. Officials in the past preferred to deal with one strong cartel rather than many warring gangs – what Calderon faces now. More than 5,300 people died in drug-related slayings in 2008.

"I fear that Secretary Garcia Luna ... is working on the idea that once one cartel consolidates itself as the winner, that is, Sinaloa, the violence is going to drop," said organized crime expert Edgardo Buscaglia, who tracks federal police arrests and has studied law enforcement agencies' written reports.

Garcia Luna has denied being involved in corruption. He has acknowledged that authorities in the past chose the path of managing cartels. But in an interview with the newspaper El Sol, he said that approach only strengthens the gangs in the long run.

Others say the high number of Sinaloa infiltrators is a reflection of the two cartels' very different styles.

The Gulf cartel is led by military-trained hit men so violent that they reportedly planned to attack even U.S. law enforcement agencies.

"They don't necessarily try to build networks of corruption. They prefer networks of intimidation," said Monte Alejandro Rubido, who leads Mexico's multi-agency National Security System.

Sinaloa, on the other hand, appears to use bribery and infiltration at least as much as its gunmen. Cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman bribed his way out of a Mexican prison in 2001, provoking suspicions the government was on his side.

Many Mexicans worry about giving so much money and power to a still corrupt force. Of more than 56,000 local and state police officers evaluated between January and October last year, fewer than half met the recommended qualifications, Calderon reported to Congress in early December. No similar numbers are available for federal police.

Agents like Granados Salero wonder who is in charge of police integrity.

"We agents find out about a lot of things," he said, "but who can we turn to?"
28777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: March 01, 2009, 07:56:48 AM

Professor Called Police After Student Presentation
Posted by admin on 2/24/09

For CCSU student John Wahlberg, a class presentation on campus violence turned into a confrontation with the campus police due to a complaint by the professor.

On October 3, 2008, Wahlberg and two other classmates prepared to give an oral presentation for a Communication 140 class that was required to discuss a “relevant issue in the media”. Wahlberg and his group chose to discuss school violence due to recent events such as the Virginia Tech shootings that occurred in 2007.

Shortly after his professor, Paula Anderson, filed a complaint with the CCSU Police against her student. During the presentation Wahlberg made the point that if students were permitted to conceal carry guns on campus, the violence could have been stopped earlier in many of these cases. He also touched on the controversial idea of free gun zones on college campuses.

That night at work, Wahlberg received a message stating that the campus police “requested his presence”. Upon entering the police station, the officers began to list off firearms that were registered under his name, and questioned him about where he kept them.

They told Wahlberg that they had received a complaint from his professor that his presentation was making students feel “scared and uncomfortable”.

“I was a bit nervous when I walked into the police station,” Wahlberg said, “but I felt a general sense of disbelief once the officer actually began to list the firearms registered in my name. I was never worried however, because as a law-abiding gun owner, I have a thorough understanding of state gun laws as well as unwavering safety practices.”

Professor Anderson refused to comment directly on the situation and deferred further comment.

“It is also my responsibility as a teacher to protect the well being of our students, and the campus community at all times,” she wrote in a statement submitted to The Recorder. “As such, when deemed necessary because of any perceived risks, I seek guidance and consultation from the Chair of my Department, the Dean and any relevant University officials.”

Wahlberg believes that her complaint was filed without good reason.

“I don’t think that Professor Anderson was justified in calling the CCSU police over a clearly nonthreatening matter. Although the topic of discussion may have made a few individuals uncomfortable, there was no need to label me as a threat,” Wahlberg said in response. “The actions of Professor Anderson made me so uncomfortable, that I didn’t attend several classes. The only appropriate action taken by the Professor was to excuse my absences.”

The university police were unavailable for comment.

“If you can’t talk about the Second Amendment, what happened to the First Amendment?” asked Sara Adler, president of the Riflery and Marksmanship club on campus. “After all, a university campus is a place for the free and open exchange of ideas.” 
28778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Sexual Insanity on: February 28, 2009, 11:39:16 PM
Bill Muehlenberg | Friday, 27 February 2009
Sexual insanity
A 13-year-old father? A woman with 14 IVF children? We can’t say we were not warned.
Week by week the stories become more sensational. Blogs were still buzzing over California’s “octomom”, Nadya Suleman, when the story of Alfie Patten, a baby-faced British 13-year-old and putative father, grabbed the international headlines. In Australia, where I live, an appeal court has awarded a lesbian duo hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for getting two babies from IVF treatment rather than one.

Strangely enough, such dramatic consequences of the erosion of marriage and the explosion of out-of-control sexuality were foreseen -- in some instances long ago. In 1968 Will and Ariel Durant’s important book, The Lessons of History appeared. In it they said, The sex drive in the young is a river of fire that must be banked and cooled by a hundred restraints if it is not to consume in chaos both the individual and the group.

Although the sexual revolution took off in the mid-60s, other social commentators had made similar warnings earlier on. In 1956 Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin put it this way:

This sex revolution is as important as the most dramatic political or economic upheaval. It is changing the lives of men and women more radically than any other revolution of our time… Any considerable change in marriage behaviour, any increase in sexual promiscuity and sexual relations, is pregnant with momentous consequences. A sex revolution drastically affects the lives of millions, deeply disturbs the community, and decisively influences the future of society.

And back in 1927, J.D. Unwin of Cambridge University made similar remarks:

The whole of human history does not contain a single instance of a group becoming civilised unless it has been completely monogamous, nor is there any example of a group retaining its culture after it has adopted less rigorous customs. Marriage as a life-long association has been an attendant circumstance of all human achievement, and its adoption has preceded all manifestations of social energy… Indissoluble monogamy must be regarded as the mainspring of all social activity, a necessary condition of human development.

But these warnings have fallen on deaf ears, and our sexual decline is now gathering speed. Let’s look again at the stories I mentioned at the beginning of this article -- reported in the media within days of each other. Any one of them reveals a culture in crisis, but taken together they show a West on a slide to sexual suicide.

The case of Nadya Suleman, America’s single mom extraordinaire, is so well publicised we need only briefly recap here. Nadya had “a dream…to have a large family, huge family”, so she went right ahead and got herself six children with the aid of a sperm donor and IVF. But that was not enough; she went back again to the clinic and, wonder of wonders, produced octuplets. The 33-year-old California woman is unrepentant. “This is my choice to be a single parent,” she said.

It’s hard to know who has been more reckless and irresponsible, the woman or her IVF doctor. He recently implanted a 49-year-old woman with seven embryos, who is now pregnant with quadruplets. One can understand there are those in the IVF industry simply happy to make money, regardless of the consequences. Now that the consequence in this case is a single mother with 14 children, they will no doubt try to wash their hands of the whole affair and let society pick up the tab for supporting them.

Equally famous is the case of Alfie Patten, the 13-year-old English father who was just twelve when he conceived the child. He and his 15-year-old girlfriend are now parents, but seemingly clueless as to what all this entails. And now it turns out that there is a question as to who the real father is. Evidently, two other young boys (14 and 16) are now claiming to be the father. Speculation is rife about lucrative publicity deals to be made. Meanwhile, a child has been born into social and sexual chaos.

There is something sadly predictable about Alfie’s case, but my first Australian example of sexual insanity is truly startling. It concerns two lesbians who successfully sued a Canberra IVF doctor for creating two babies instead of one. The case actually has three stages, one sane and two outrageous. In 2007 the lesbian pair outrageously sued the doctor, claiming they only wanted one child, and that two would damage their livelihood (even though their combined income is more than $100,000).

In July 2008 the ACT Supreme Court, sanely, rejected their claim, but an appeals court recently, and again outrageously, reversed the decision, ordering the doctor to pay the lesbians $317,000 in compensation. The women said having two children damaged their relationship. (Mind you, in the light of the Nadya Suleman story it is difficult to feel sorry for IVF doctors.)

Our last story involves the growing trend of rental agreements in Australian cities involving sex instead of rent money. It seems that some men are taking advantage of the rental crisis by placing online ads which offer women free rooms in exchange for sex. One ad, for a Melbourne townhouse, offered "free rent for someone special: instead of rent, I am looking for someone to help me with certain needs/requirements on a regular basis''.

The Sunday Telegraph explains: “The zero-rent ads, targeting desperate women looking for somewhere to live, are becoming increasingly common on popular ‘share house’ rental websites. Although there have been numerous complaints about the ads, which some website users have dubbed ‘offensive’, they do not breach policy guidelines for sites such as flatmates”

“Desperate women”? Let’s not be too ready to excuse those who accept what amounts to an invitation to prostitution, thereby putting themselves in danger and contributing to the environment of sexual insanity. Like the previous examples, the blatant sexual pitch in these flatmate ads is a sign of a society which is fast losing all bearings concerning things sexual or things moral.

Our wiser, saner and more moral forebears provided plenty of warning about these things, but we have chosen to ignore such warnings and now each passing day seems to bring out another horror story of sexual insanity.

As G.K. Chesterton wrote a century ago: A society that claims to be civilized and yet allows the sex instinct free-play is inoculating itself with a virus of corruption which sooner or later will destroy it. It is only a question of time. He is worth quoting at length:

What had happened to the human imagination, as a whole, was that the whole world was coloured by dangerous and rapidly deteriorating passions; by natural passions becoming unnatural passions. Thus the effect of treating sex as only one innocent natural thing was that every other innocent natural thing became soaked and sodden with sex. For sex cannot be admitted to a mere equality among elementary emotions or experiences like eating and sleeping. The moment sex ceases to be a servant it becomes a tyrant. There is something dangerous and disproportionate in its place in human nature, for whatever reason; and it does really need a special purification and dedication. The modern talk about sex being free like any other sense, about the body being beautiful like any tree or flower, is either a description of the Garden of Eden or a piece of thoroughly bad psychology, of which the world grew weary two thousand years ago.

We are today witnessing the bitter fruit of allowing sex to become a tyrant. Each day new headlines testify to the fact that when we abuse the wonderful gift of sex, we abuse ourselves and our neighbours. The question is, how much more abuse can we take as a culture before society can no longer function? One suspects that we should find this out quite soon.

Bill Muehlenberg is a lecturer in ethics and philosophy at several Melbourne theological colleges and a PhD candidate at Deakin University.
28779  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Alignment on: February 28, 2009, 10:37:06 AM

Until I see you in a few weeks, I would orient you towards peak contraction of the glute hamstring nexus as a foundation for hip flexor (psoas, ilio, quads) release.

28780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gitmo guards speak on: February 28, 2009, 09:23:46 AM
28781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: February 28, 2009, 09:19:11 AM
Thank you!

That was awesome!
28782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: February 28, 2009, 12:39:14 AM
MUST HAVE URL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
28783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russian enjoying Biden's "reboot" on: February 27, 2009, 11:34:59 PM
Second post:


Unloaded/Loaded Wt:192,000/326,000 lbs
Dry Thrust:240KN
Armament: 59,000 lbs
Top Speed: Mach 1.25
Range: 7,500 mi
Ceiling: 60,000 feet


Unloaded/Loaded Wt:242,000/590,000 lbs
Dry Thrust:520KN
Armament: 88,000 lbs
Top Speed: Mach 2.2
Range: 10,800 mi
Ceiling:50,000 feet

The Blackjack is a more capable airframe and it has a small RCS. They are producing more advanced versions now.

The Canadians say it was a Bear, Russians say it was a Blackjack.

OTTAWA -- Canada will not tolerate Russian intrusions into Canadian airspace, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday after it was disclosed that two Russian bombers were intercepted just outside the Canadian Arctic shortly before U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Ottawa this month.
"I have expressed at various times the deep concern our government has with increasingly aggressive Russian actions around the globe and Russian intrusions into our airspace," the prime minister said at a news conference in Saskatoon.
"This government has responded every time the Russians have done that. We will continue to respond; we will defend our airspace."
Earlier Friday, Defence Minister Peter MacKay disclosed that two CF-18 fighter jets met at least one Russian bomber within 24 hours of the U.S. president's trip to Ottawa on Feb. 19 just outside of Canada's Arctic airspace.
The incident set off a round of bitter sniping between Moscow and Ottawa that was a throwback to the Cold War era.

Initially there was confusion over the number of Russian planes involved -- it turned out to be two, not one -- while Russian sources mocked Canada's assertion that they were given no notice of the flights.

With Mr. Obama poised to leave U.S. soil for the first time as president on Feb. 19, the joint Canada-U.S. aerospace command, Norad, picked up the approaching aircraft.

Canadian jets were scrambled and sent "very clear signals" to the Russian aircraft to "turn tail and head back to its own airspace," which were followed without incident, Mr. MacKay said.

Later Friday, Canadian defence and Norad officials confirmed a second Russian plane was involved in the incident, and identified the two aircraft as Tupolev Tu-95 propeller driven bombers, a type of aircraft known as the "Bear."

Vladimir Drik, an aide to the Russian chief of staff, speaking to RIA Novosti news agency confirmed the Feb. 18 flight, but indicated a different model of Tupolev carried out the mission.

"The Tupolev-160 fulfilled all its air patrol tasks. It was a planned flight."
He said the crew acted solely within the limits of international air agreements and did not violate Canadian airspace.

Typically Blackjacks are not seen until its too late and many are not seen at all:

A Russian nuclear stealth bomber was able to fly within 90 seconds of the British coast without being picked up by radar, it was revealed today.
The supersonic ‘Blackjack’ jet flew completely undetected to within just 20 miles from Hull in one of the worst breaches of British security since the end of the Cold War.

RAF radar eventually picked up the plane, but the only two pairs of fighter jets used for air alerts were on other duties.
28784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russian fcuk w His Glibness on: February 27, 2009, 11:32:58 PM
Canadian Jets Scramble to Meet Russian Plane Before Obama Visit


February 27, 2009

Canadian Jets Met Russian Plane Before Obama Visit

Filed at 10:42 a.m. ET

TORONTO (AP) -- Canada's defense minister said fighter jets were scrambled to intercept a Russian bomber in the Arctic on the eve of President Barack Obama's visit to Ottawa last week.

Peter MacKay said Friday that the bomber never made it into Canadian airspace. But he said two Canadian CF-18 jets met the bomber in international airspace and sent a ''strong signal that they should back off.''

''They met a Russian aircraft that was approaching Canadian airspace, and as they have done in previous occasions they sent very clear signals that are understood, that the aircraft was to turnaround, turn tail, and head back to their airspace, which it did,'' MacKay said.

''I'm not going to stand here and accuse the Russians of having deliberately done this during the presidential visit, but it was a strong coincidence,'' he said of the Feb. 18 incident.

Obama arrived in Canada the next day.

MacKay said it happened when Canada's security focus would be on Ottawa, but he said resources weren't stretched.

Attempts to reach the Russian Embassy in Ottawa or officials in Moscow were not immediately successful.

Soviet aircraft regularly flew near North American airspace during the Cold War but stopped after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Several years ago, Russian jets resumed these types of flights.

MacKay said the Russians give no warning prior to the flights. Canadian government officials, including MacKay, have asked the Russian ambassador and defense minister to give Ottawa notice of such flights. The requests have fallen on deaf ears.

''They simply show up on a radar screen,'' MacKay said. ''This is not a game at all.
28785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sgt Scott Stream on: February 27, 2009, 05:35:38 PM,0,7802298.story
'If it costs me my life to protect our land and people then that is a small thing...'
February 26, 2009

As President Obama and military officials plan for a marked escalation in the number of American troops in Afghanistan, the powerful words of a fallen soldier show how much the mission continues to mean to the women and men on the ground.

Illinois National Guard Sgt. Scott Stream, 39, of Mattoon, Ill., was killed Tuesday in Afghanistan. Below is a letter he wrote to a friend on New Year's Eve. The Tribune received a copy of the letter from Stream's mother.


Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 9:30am

A strange thing...

When I think about what surrounds me, the institutional corruption, the random violence, the fear and desperation. I feel the reasons why I am here more and more sharply. As we grow in our soldiers skills, surviving by finding the hidden dangers, seeing the secret motives and the shifting politics... we grow a set of skills that is unique and powerful in this situation.

We also see what you cannot see in the States, you are surrounded by the love of Christ and faith in freedom and humanity, like a fish you think water is 'a puff of air' because it is always there, you do not notice it... we who are out of the water look back and see the world we love surrounded by enemies, poison and envy that wants to fall on you like a storm of ruin.

We who joined with vague notions of protecting our country see how desperate the peril, how hungry the enemy and how frail the security we have is. So the more I love you all the more I feel I must keep fighting for you. The more I love and long for home the more right I feel here on the front line standing between you and the seething madness that wants to suck the life and love out of our land.

Does that mean I cannot go home? I hope not, because I want this just to be the postponement of the joy of life, not the sacrifice of mine. If it costs me my life to protect our land and people then that is a small thing, I just hope that fate lets me return to the promise land and remind people just how great our land is.

War is a young mans game, and I am getting an old mans head... it is a strange thing. I just hope that I am not changed so that I cannot take joy in the land inside the wire when I make it home. I want to be with you all again and let my gun sit in the rack and float on my back in a tube down a lazy river...
28786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: February 27, 2009, 04:27:10 PM
Good find BBG.

The liberal Jewish mindset is the one in which I was raised in Manhattan NYC.  It is now a mystery to me-- and I to them.

Crafty Dog--Infidel Dog of the Never Again Brigades!
28787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 27, 2009, 04:24:17 PM
Knock me down with a feather twice-- once for Broder and once for Kinsley!

Liberal columnist Michael Kinsley, writing in the Washington Post, on the hidden dangers of deficit spending:

[E]ven if the stimulus is a magnificent success, the money still has to be paid back. The plan of record apparently is that we keep borrowing, spending and stimulating, faster and faster, until suddenly, on some signal from heaven or Timothy Geithner, we all stop spending and start saving in recordbreaking amounts. Oh sure, that will work.

There is another way. If it's not the actual, secret plan, it will be an overwhelming temptation: Don't pay the money back. So far, even as one piggy bank after another astounds us with its emptiness, there have been only the faintest whispers about the possibility of an actual default by the U.S. government. Somewhat louder whispers can be heard, though, about the gradual default known as inflation. Just three or four years of currency erosion at, say, 10 percent a year would slice the real value of our debt -- public and private, U.S. bonds and jumbo mortgages -- in half.

Anyone who regards the prospect of double-digit inflation with insouciance is either too young to have lived through it the last time (the late 1970s) or too old to remember. Among other problems, inflation works only as a surprise or betrayal. It can never be part of any public, official plan. Plan for 10 percent inflation, and you'll get 20. Plan for 20 and you'll need a wheelbarrow to pay for your morning Starbucks. But if that's not the plan, what is?
28788  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Postal Inspectors stop knifing on: February 27, 2009, 04:16:10 PM
Daylight stabbing in downtown Buffalo

Dramatic scene captured on video

Updated: Thursday, 26 Feb 2009, 7:46 PM EST
Published : Thursday, 26 Feb 2009, 7:40 PM EST

George Richert

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - An apparent domestic dispute triggered a dramatic scene in downtown Buffalo, where bystanders rushed to help a woman while she was stabbed in broad daylight.

Here was the scene Wednesday in front of the Main Place Mall:
"Drop it now! For the love of God, just drop it!"

49-year-old Jeffrey Pearson is charged with attempted murder after repeatedly stabbing a woman right there in broad daylight.
Arthur Perkins said, "And had it not been for that leather coat she had on, she'd have been hurt more."

Perkins started recording with his cell phone, just as a Federal agent drew his gun to stop the attack.

Perkins said, "About 15 seconds into the stabbing, he just came out of nowhere."
That was United States Postal Inpsector Chris Buszka and his partner Marty Arthur who just happened to be outside talking nearby.
Buszka said, "Ya just rely on your training."

At first, Pearson was shaking so hard he couldn't drop the knife.
Buszka said, "Grabbed his wrist which made him drop the knife."
Arthur said, "And we pushed him to the ground and handcuffed him."
Pearson is now charged with attempted murder.

News 4's George Richert asked, "Can you explain your actions yesterday."
Pearson said, "Yes, I did that, but it was her fault. She violated the order of protection first."
The victim had a restraining order against him since last month.

A friend of the victim, Raelynn Loncarevich, said, "I think it was more of a stalker issue with this guy, as opposed to domestic violence."
"But I know the positive is that she's not gonna have to worry about him anymore."
The victim is said to be recovering well in the hospital.

A grand jury is expected to get the attempted murder case next week.

Click here for newsvideo:
28789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ An inconvenient tax on: February 27, 2009, 11:41:22 AM
That didn't take long. The same week that President Obama promised (again) that "95% of working families" would not see their taxes rise by "a single dime," his own budget reveals that taxes will rise for 100% of everyone for the sake of global warming. Ahem.

You don't even have to burrow into yesterday's budget fine print to discover the "climate revenues" section, where the White House discloses that it expects $78.7 billion in new tax revenue in 2012 from its cap-and-trade program. The pot of cash grows to $237 billion through 2014, and at least $646 billion through 2019. If this isn't tax revenue, what is it? Manna from heaven? The offset from Al Gore's carbon footprint?

If it brings in revenue that the government then spends, it's a tax, and politicians should start referring to it as such. The Administration in fact projects that these "climate revenues" will become the sixth largest source of federal receipts by 2019, outpaced only by individual and corporate income taxes, payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare and (barely) excise taxes. We're supposed to be living in a new era of fiscal honesty, so let's start with cap and trade.

Of course it's easy to see why Democrats don't want the public to think of cap and trade as a tax. Tax increases aren't popular, as Mr. Gore learned when he and Bill Clinton tried to impose a BTU tax in 1993. The complex cap-and-trade tax would ripple throughout the energy chain and ultimately the entire economy. All consumers, not just "the rich," would pay more for goods and services that use carbon energy -- though some would pay more than others. A majority of those "95% of working families" probably lives in the middle of the country that relies far more on manufacturing and coal-fired power than do the better-off coastal regions.

Mr. Obama's Energy Secretary Steven Chu was refreshingly candid on this point with the New York Times earlier this month. Given that higher prices are supposed to motivate the changes necessary to reduce carbon energy use, Mr. Chu said he was worried that climate taxes may drive jobs to countries where costs are cheaper. "The concern about cap and trade in today's economic climate," he said, "is that a lot of money might flow to developing countries in a way that might not be completely politically sellable." You are correct, sir.

Meanwhile, the political class loves a cap-and-trade tax because it gives them new economic and political power. Congress would create a new property right to expend CO2, setting a price per ton on carbon output, and then Congress would also get to determine the distribution of allowances. The Administration wants all of them to be auctioned off, which is what creates the giant revenue windfall. The politicians would then decide how to spend all of that new "climate revenue."

Mr. Obama's budget proposes to spend this windfall on two items: $15 billion a year in more subsidies for alternative fuels, and $65 billion or so a year to finance tax subsidies for workers, many of whom don't pay income taxes. In other words, once this cap-and-trade tax is on the books, the revenue stream will create political constituencies that depend on it.

No new pot of gold goes uncontested, however, so you can assume that Mr. Obama's priorities will not go unchallenged. Already on Capitol Hill, Charlie Rangel's tax committee and Henry Waxman's energy clan are feuding about who gets to divvy up the spoils. Not to mention who gets the political control that will become a source of tens of millions in new campaign contributions from thousands of affected businesses.

By the way, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that cap-and-trade taxes would actually throw off as much as $300 billion every year -- not merely $78.7 billion -- and in a footnote the Obama budget implicitly acknowledges that its $645.7 billion estimate is a lowball: "All additional net proceeds will be used to further compensate the public." No doubt.
28790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Turkey and Iran on: February 27, 2009, 11:33:46 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The Turkish and Iranian Balance of Power

Turkish President Abdullah Gul announced on Thursday that he will make a one-day trip to Iran on March 10 to attend the Economic Cooperation Organization summit. While the summit aims to improve economic and commercial relations among the member states, the leaders will also discuss bilateral relations and regional issues. Of the two items on Gul’s agenda, his bilateral meetings with the Iranians hold far more interest for STRATFOR than anything that the summit will generate.

Both Turkey and Iran are on the rise. Until relatively recent times, both have been contained by various forces, most notably Iraq and the Soviet Union. Between the end of the Cold War and American defeat of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, however, many restrictions on the power of both states evaporated. Both Turkey and Iran are looking for wider roles in their region. Both have grand imperial pasts. Both have ambitions. And both are somewhat oddballs in the world of geopolitics.

Most nations are oriented around a piece of flat, core territory where the nationality was not just born, but has entrenched itself. For France, Germany and Poland, that core is their respective portions of the Northern European Plain. The core territory of the United States is the coastal Atlantic strip east of the Appalachians. Argentina is centered on the bountiful flatlands around Buenos Aires. The defining territory of China comprises the fertile regions between the Yellow and Yangtze rivers.

Such flatness is critical to the development of a nation because the lack of internal geographic barriers allows the dominant culture to assimilate or eliminate groups that would dilute or challenge its power. Additionally, plains regions tend to boast river systems that allow thriving agricultural, transportation and trade opportunities that mountainous regions lack. Very few states count mountains as their core simply because mountains are difficult to pacify. It is very easy for dissident or minority groups to root themselves in such regions, and the writ of the state is often weak. Consequently, most mountainous states are defined not by success but by failure. Lebanon, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Laos come to mind.

Turkey and Iran are different. Their core lands are mountainous regions — the Anatolian Peninsula for Asia Minor and the Zagros Mountains of Persia. Even though the Turks are not original descendants of their their Anatolian power base, they were able to secure their central lands when they swept in as conquerors a millennium ago and have since destroyed or assimilated most of the natives. The Persians ruled through a dizzyingly complex system of interconnected elites that succeeded in instilling a common Persian culture that extended somewhat beyond mere ethnicity, all while keeping the base of power in the Persians’ hands.

But that is where the similarities end. As these two states both return to prominence, it is almost inevitable that Turkey that will fare better than Iran, simply because the Turks enjoy the advantage of geography. Anatolia is a plateau surrounded by water on three sides and enjoys the blessing of the Golden Horn, which transforms the well-positioned city of Istanbul into one of the world’s best — and certainly most strategically located — ports. Turkey straddles Europe and Asia, the Balkans and the Islamic world, the former Soviet Union and the Mediterranean Basin. The result is a culture not only incredibly aware of international events, but one steeped in trade whether via its land connections or —by virtue of being a peninsula — maritime trade. Unsurprisingly, for a good chunk of the past 2,000 years, Anatolia — whether under the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines or most recently under the Turks themselves — has been at or nea r the center of human development.

By comparison, Iran got shortchanged. Although Iran has water on two sides, it has a minimal maritime tradition. Its plateau is a salt desert. The Caspian Sea is landlocked and boasts no major population centers aside from Baku — the capital of another country with a hostile ethnic group. The Persian Gulf coast of Iran is not only lightly populated, but it is easy for powers on the gulf’s southern coast to block Iranian water access to the wider world. While Anatolia has a number of regions that are well watered — even though it does not have many rivers — Persia is predominately an arid region.

The Turks also enjoy demographic advantages. Only one-fifth of Turkey’s population is non-Turkish, while roughly half of Iran is non-Persian. Iran requires a large army simply to maintain rule at home, while Turkey has the relative freedom to expend resources on power projection tools such as an air force and navy. The difference shines through in their respective economies as well. Despite having nearly identical populations in terms of size, Iran’s economy is only two-fifths the size of Turkey’s. Even in the battle of ideologies, Turkey retains the advantage. The Arab majority in the region prefer Turkey — a fellow Sunni power — to take the lead in managing regional affairs, whereas Shiite Persian Iran is the historical rival of the Arab world.

Iran may be junior to Turkey in a geopolitical contest, but Iran is still a power that Turkey has to take into consideration. In a major historical reversal, the Iranians have regained influence over Iraq with the rise of a Shia-dominated government that they had lost to the Turks in the mid-1550s, bringing the two powers closer into contact. When two expansionary powers interact closely — as Turkey and Iran are now — they can be either driven to conflict or come to an understanding regarding their respective spheres of influence. In the present day, there are probably more causes for cooperation than conflict between Ankara and Tehran. Iran’s westward expansion gives Turkey and Iran good reasons to cooperate in order to contain Iraq’s Kurdish population in the north. Moreover, Turkey’s bid to become a major energy transit state would improve significantly through a better relationship with Iran.

Given this dynamic, Gul’s upcoming trip to Iran is likely to be the first of many. The Turks and the Persians have much to sort out on the bilateral level as each seeks to expand their geopolitical influence.
28791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: BO gives AQ suspect a civilian trial on: February 27, 2009, 11:17:46 AM
Its the NY Slimes, so caveat lector:


U.S. Will Give Qaeda Suspect a Civilian Trial
Published: February 26, 2009

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department, in an abrupt change in policy from the Bush administration, is preparing to bring terrorism-related charges against a man identified as an operative of Al Qaeda who has been held in a military brig for more than five years, government officials said Thursday.

The charges would move the case of the only enemy combatant to be held on American soil, Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, into a civilian criminal court. The Bush administration had argued that he could be held indefinitely without being charged.

The decision also would allow the Obama administration to avoid taking a position for the time being on whether a president may detain legal residents indefinitely without trial.

The Justice Department faced a March 23 deadline to file a brief with the Supreme Court declaring whether it was continuing to hold to the Bush administration’s position that the government had the authority to detain legal residents like Mr. Marri indefinitely, without charges.

The decision to move Mr. Marri to a civilian court should give the Obama administration time to sidestep that issue for now as it sets about a large-scale review of detention policies that would affect those prisoners being held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and those who may later be captured on suspicion of involvement with terrorism.

Mr. Marri was arrested in Peoria, Ill., in December 2001, and moved to the Navy brig in Charleston, S.C., in 2003. The Bush administration described him as a sleeper agent for Al Qaeda.

Mr. Marri is expected to be charged in Illinois as early as Friday with providing material support to terrorist groups. The Justice Department would then probably ask the Supreme Court to drop the case from its docket, saying that the issue was moot.

The decision to bring criminal charges against Mr. Marri was reported separately Thursday on the Web sites of The Washington Post and The New Yorker.

At least in part, the decision is a demonstration that Obama administration officials believe the nation’s civilian courts are capable of handling some terrorism cases.

Bush administration officials had argued that the president needed the authority to detain some terrorism suspects indefinitely because it was impracticable to prosecute many of them in civilian courts.

The issue as to whether there are some terrorism cases that cannot be successfully brought in a civilian criminal court is also at the heart of the debate about what to do with many of the 245 detainees still at Guantánamo.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Thursday that legal teams would reassess each of the inmates at Guantánamo to decide whether they should be prosecuted for criminal offenses or released.

“We need to look at these people again,” he said in an interview at his office at the Justice Department. “What kind of threats do they represent, if they pose any threats at all? We are determined to do this on an individualized basis.”

Mr. Holder said that some detainees were likely to be found to represent a low enough security risk to warrant their release, but that others would be likely to be found to have engaged in terrorist acts and would be prosecuted under a legal system that he said “must be seen as fair and must be fair.”

He said that department officials had not determined in what forum such prosecutions might take place, but that officials had not ruled out calling for legislation to create a new legal entity like a civilian national security court.

Several lawyers both inside and outside the academic world have said there was a need for such a new court that would allow the government to deal with the most troublesome group of terrorist suspects: those who are believed to be too dangerous to release but who could not be prosecuted effectively because it would require highly classified evidence.

Justice Department officials declined to discuss the developments on the Marri case. But after taking office, President Obama ordered a review of the situation and the decision to charge Mr. Marri in federal court reflected the results of that review, officials said.

Jonathan Hafetz of the American Civil Liberties Union, the lead lawyer in the case, said bringing charges would “definitely be a positive step in that the government will no longer be detaining Mr. Marri without charge and returning him to the civilian justice system.”

But Mr. Hafetz said the criminal charges should have been filed seven years ago, when Mr. Marri was first arrested in Peoria on suspicion of ties to Al Qaeda.

He said the Supreme Court should reject any government argument that the case is moot because the issue of whether the government may indefinitely detain legal residents or those in Guantánamo remains alive.

The case should go forward, Mr. Hafetz said, “to make clear, once and for all, that the indefinite military detention of legal residents or American citizens is illegal, and to prevent this from ever happening again.”

If the Supreme Court does not consider the case, it would leave in place a decision of the federal appeals court in Richmond, that upheld President George W. Bush’s authority to detain Mr. Marri indefinitely and without charging him.

In preparation for arguments before the Supreme Court, the Bush administration provided a sworn 2004 statement from Jeffrey N. Rapp, a military intelligence official. It said Mr. Marri had met with Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the chief plotter of the Sept. 11 attacks, in the summer of 2001.

“Al-Marri offered to be an Al Qaeda martyr or to do anything else that Al Qaeda requested,” Mr. Rapp said.

The Qaeda leaders told Mr. Marri, the statement said, to leave for the United States and to make sure he got there before Sept. 11.

John Schwartz contributed reporting from New York.
28792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ralph Peters: Ghost States on: February 27, 2009, 10:44:47 AM

February 27, 2009

PAKISTAN'S bloodied Northwest Frontier Province is getting a new name: Pakhtunkhwa, or "Land of the Pashtun" tribesmen. A key demand of Taliban radicals, the new title isn't an end, but a beginning.

Obsessed with the "integrity" of dysfunctional, artificial borders, US policy-makers struggle to come to grips with the Taliban, an overwhelmingly Pashtun organization. For its part, the Taliban functions as the shadow government of a ghost state sprawling across huge stretches of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Pakhtunkhwa already exists in fact, if not in the UN General Assembly. The writs of the governments in Islamabad and Kabul run up to the international border on our maps, but not in reality. We play along with the fantasy.

Census numbers are flimsy, but up to 42 million Pashtuns (or Pakhtuns or Pathans) live in the region, with perhaps 13 million in Afghanistan and double that number in Pakistan. That would make Greater Pakhtunkhwa a middle-weight nation, population-wise.

United by old blood and various dialects of Pashto, the Pashtuns are a collection of five-dozen major tribes that long have functioned as a primitive state, governed by tribal councils amid hundreds of sub-tribes. Although briefly united at a few junctures in history, their primary goal has been the defense of local territory against outsiders, not central administration.

Now the Pashtuns, as manifested by the Taliban, seek an authentic state governed by Sharia law. It isn't good news for us, for women, or for the feeble states of Afghanistan and Pakistan. But how much of our blood and treasure is it worth to keep those wretched states on life support, while denying the vigor of a ghost state fighting to become flesh?

A Pakhtunkhwa that includes all of the Pashtuns would be culturally abhorrent. But it may be inevitable. Are we fighting forces our measures can't defeat?

Nor is the ghost-state problem limited to our confused efforts in Afghanistan. The 6 million Kurds in northern Iraq are ethnically, linguistically and culturally different from the oppressive Arab majority to the south. Iraq's Kurds are also the most-advanced Middle Eastern population outside of Israel (and the most pro-American).

Well, the ghost nation of Kurdistan isn't just three Iraqi provinces, but a broader Kurdish state struggling to be born. Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria and the southern Caucasus hold 30 million Kurds between them, nearly all subject to Jim Crow laws and worse.

The Kurds are struggling for freedom. We find them an inconvenience.

But "inconveniences" don't go away just because we ignore them. Consider yet another ghost state where US troops have engaged: Greater Albania.

Again, census numbers are sticky, but Albania itself has a population of 3 million to 4 million, with another 1½ million ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and a half-million more in Macedonia and Montenegro.

How much effort should we expend to prevent the natural emergence of Greater Albania? Doesn't self-determination count in the clinch? (As for a "Muslim menace," a third of Albania's inhabitants are Christians. In the Balkans, organized crime's a far greater threat than Islam.)

Of course, a ghost state of a different sort exists on our Southwest border and in northern Mexico. But, apart from a few rabid activists in La Raza, that's one ghost state that doesn't seek a real state. The difference? Individual rights and fair opportunities, guaranteed by the rule of law (on our side of the border).

Contrary to racist myths, few Latinos want to return our Southwest to the Mexico they fled. Nobody's going to vote for death squads, corruption, poverty and a narco-state. While we need to fully control our border and boot out convicted criminals immediately, self-interest and economics will handle the rest.

Yet, we do need to recognize that the age of European Imperialism, to which we were an adjunct, left a legacy of international borders that range from the awkward to the impossible - and no state wants to give up an inch of territory, even when its efforts to control separatists appear suicidal.

We don't need to play along, though, except when it's clearly in our national interest. The question before us is blunt: Should our soldiers die to preserve the disastrous borders Europeans left behind?

Should Free Kurdistan, or Greater Albania, or even a full-fledged Pakhtunkhwa be opposed simply because their emergence would mean shifting desks in the State Department? Can our policy-makers even tell the difference between the expedient and the inevitable?

The borders Europe left behind are prisons. How long will we be the guards up on the walls?
28793  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: POSTPONED!!! Guro Crafty in Hemet on Sunday March 1 on: February 27, 2009, 09:34:40 AM
All is well, and thanks for the understanding.  I will get talk with Surf (if he's not too mad!  embarassed cheesy ) and we will plan a bit further our in advance.
28794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: February 27, 2009, 09:32:51 AM
Assuming for the moment that BO wouldn't shoot down Israeli jets, given what we have just seen in giving $900 to Hamas, it seems pretty likely to give him a chance to do what he wants-- rupture the alliance with Israel.

Of course the Israelis just handled Syria, but the point here is about using them as a flight plath, an even longer one that over Iraq, and one with substantial risk of being spotted and Iran notified.

And if sounds like we both agree that such raids are not likely to achieve lasting consequence , , ,
28795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / a citizen; J. Adams on: February 27, 2009, 09:28:19 AM
"Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? It is feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American. ...[T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people."

--A Pennsylvanian, The Pennsylvania Gazette, 20 February 1788

"Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood." --John Adams
28796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: February 26, 2009, 11:01:56 PM
Agree the Israeli are awesome, but the logistics of hitting Iran are a b*tch.

Distance makes fuel a serious issue, even flying over Iraq.  Do you think His Glibness will let them fly over Iraq?!?



And WHERE to hit?  With WHAT?   The sites are quite numerous, many locations not known, and most of them are hardened, and as Stratfor knows, plenty of them are now protected by Russian AA.

The only technically feasible option which occurs to me is missile launches from Israeli subs-- and that opens the gates to hell itself.
28797  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: POSTPONED!!! Guro Crafty in Hemet on Sunday March 1 on: February 26, 2009, 10:41:34 PM
Woof All:

My deep apologies, but I need to postpone this weekend's seminar.  Something has come up unexpectedly that requires that I be there for my son.  It would be too long a song and dance to explain here, so I will just ask for everyone's understanding and forgiveness.

I've just left messages on Surf's various phone numbers, and post here now to maximize the notice.

Guro Crafty
28798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: February 26, 2009, 10:30:35 PM
Can open.  Worms everywhere , , ,
28799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: February 26, 2009, 10:19:33 PM
Again, what military options does Israel really have here?

28800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pelosi tosses cold water on AWB? on: February 26, 2009, 06:47:07 PM
Pelosi tosses cold water on assault-weapon ban

Pelosi tosses cold water on assault-weapon ban
By Mike Soraghan

Posted: 02/26/09 11:59 AM [ET]

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tossed cold water on the prospect of reinstating the assault weapons ban, highlighting Democrats’ reluctance to take on gun issues.

Attorney General Eric Holder raised the prospect Wednesday that the administration would push to bring back the ban. But Pelosi (D-Calif.) indicated on Thursday that he never talked to her. The Speaker gave a flat “no” when asked if she had talked to administration officials about the ban.

“On that score, I think we need to enforce the laws we have right now,” Pelosi said at her weekly news conference. “I think it's clear the Bush administration didn’t do that.”

Outside of the dig at the recent Republican president, that phrase is the stock line of those who don’t want to pass new gun control laws, such as the National Rifle Association.

The White House declined to comment on Holder's remarks, referring reporters to the Department of Justice. The DoJ did not respond to The Hill's request for comment.
Pages: 1 ... 574 575 [576] 577 578 ... 765
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!