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28751  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Kali Tudo Working Examples on: October 04, 2008, 01:23:31 PM
Woof Jonobos:

Well, I trust Dog Ryan will rectify that  grin 

Of course, hearing of these things puts a wag in my tail.  grin cool

Guro Crafty
28752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 04, 2008, 09:53:31 AM
A physics professor once told me that in physics progress was reducing the amount of principles needed to explain how the world/universe works.  In a similar vein, I think that clarity of thought can often be manifested by reducing the number of words necessary to express a thought e.g. Sarah Palin.  The risk of course is superficiality, but at the moment I'm seeing her as someone with tremendous potential.

It has been pointed out that the world is more complicated than when Lincoln was president.  Accepting that to be true, it seems to me that it correspondingly becomes more important for a president to have a clear sense of the principles that define how the political-economic world works.  Someone without this will be overwhelmed by the rivers of data that are part and parcel of wonkery.  Someone with a clear sense of these things will be , , , a President Reagan. grin

I am delighted to see a shared understanding here of the utter outrageiousness of Biden's position (presumably BO's as well? does anyone have confirmatin of this?), which was also shared by Hillary BTW, that courts should be able to interfere with the terms of mortgage contracts.

I am finding that I like Palin more and more.  I agree that there are areas, some of them important, where she is not ready yet-- on the other hand I like that she doesn't know that the US drove Hezbollah out of Lebanon and that sending NATO in was an option.  cheesy  Clarity on the right to self defense (a.k.a. the right to bear arms) is a matter of great importance to me, and I have no interest or trust in His Glibness's slippery slope of sh*t on this.   That a leader understands that TANSTAAFL (There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) is a vital matter of importance-- and one that eludes much of the Democratic Party as well as BO-JB.  The idea of a Dem Senate, Dem House, Dem White House-- all of which appoint Dems to the Supreme Court seems to me a tremendous disaster of long lasting consequences for this country.

What I do like so far (and there is more to learn no doubt) is what I see as her core principles, her apparent integrity (e.g. going after the Republican corruption in Alaska) and her apparent ability to define herself on her own terms instead of dancing to the tune of others.  No matter our political persuasion, I hope we can all agree that the process that the MSM seeks to impose on candidates is often one of great stupidity, vapidity, and irrelevance to the matters of import.  Its more than fine by me if a candidate talks to me directly about what is important to him/her instead of "answering the question" of some Barbie and Ken teleprompter reader. (Again, I thought Ifill did a good job on this occasion-- probably due in part to her being put in the spotlight-- OTOH Katie Couric, give me a fcuking break rolleyes).  If instead a candidate uses this as a technique for evading substance, I think the collective wisdom of the democratic process will make note and exact its toll.
28753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: October 04, 2008, 09:20:28 AM
Why not incest? Because of very clear health risks.

MD: Agreed.

Why not polygamy? I don't know, but you are probably on to something when you say that monogamy worked so we kept it.

MD: Can it not be argued that polygamy has worked in certain times and places and that those who believe that God say polygamy is good show be allowed to follow their religion?  How do we answer that?

I think what you are invoking is called "the slippery slope," and it is a well known logical fallacy. There is no evidence what-so-ever to indicate that allowing gay marriage will lead to incest or polygamy being legalized.

MD:  I must have missed the exposition of this point.  Would you please be so kind as to break down for me why the slippery slope is a logical fallacy?  Furthermore, I challenge your assertion that there is no evidence that there is building legal pressure for polygamy.  I cannot quote the citations, but it is my understanding that there are cases beginning to wend their way through the legal system pushing for exactly that.

All of that being said, you are correct when you state that Sharia Law should not be protected behind the curtain of multiculturalism. We do agree on something after all GM!

MD:  I'm delighted we agree that some of the tenets of Sharia are, to use your term, "religious insanity".  However, what is necessary and what remains to you/us to do is to articulate/define where the boundary between relgious freedom/tolerance and what we will not tolerate lays. 

Care to take a stab at it?  smiley
28754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A nation without women on: October 04, 2008, 09:10:19 AM
The following could have gone just as easily in the Gender thread, but because of the role of abortion I place it here:

A nation without women
India faces a bleak future because of a preference for sons over daughters
Indian filmgoers have a weakness for feel-good song-and-dance spectaculars. So it's not surprising that Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women won a handful of international prizes, but flopped at home. It is a tale of unrelieved horror. An innocent young girl is sold to a rural family of five sons and married to all five, plus the father. In the end, the whole woman-less village gets into the act and murderous fights break out for her favours. The film ends with the lass giving birth to a daughter.

Is this a nightmarish fantasy dreamed up by man-hating feminists?

To Western audiences, perhaps, but in India, the notion of “a nation without women” is no fantasy. It could be the future. So many unborn and newly-born girls are being killed as a result of a deep-seated preference for male heirs that millions of young men will find it hard to marry.

At the moment, according to figures from the 2001 census, the national ratio of girls aged 0-to-6 to boys is 927 to 1,000. The normal figure should be 950 to 1,000. However, this conceals enormous regional and social differences. According to the British NGO ActionAid, the situation is worst in the northern state of Punjab. "The most extreme case that we found in our research was among wealthy Punjabi families where in some communities there's only 300 girls to every 1,000 boys,” says Laura Turquet, ActionAid's women's rights policy official.

"The real horror of the situation is that, for women, avoiding having daughters is a rational choice. But for wider society it's creating an appalling and desperate state of affairs," said Ms Turquet. Despite India's growing prosperity – or perhaps because of it -- there is growing pressure on women to produce sons, because girls are seen as an expense, rather than an asset. To marry them off, parents have to pay a huge dowry. “Spend 500 rupees now and save 50,000 rupees later,” is a slogan which every parent has heard.

"The most extreme case that we found in our research was among wealthy Punjabi families where in some communities there's only 300 girls to every 1,000 boys.” 
The practice also reflects a trend towards ever-smaller families. Some couples now choose to have only one child -- and they make sure that child will be a boy. Some doctors excuse their connivance in this by describing abortion as a “social duty” which prevents the ill-treatment of unwanted daughters or helps with population control.

Many couples use ultrasound scans to detect female foetuses and then abort them. Although the practice is banned, a study in the leading medical journal The Lancet has estimated that half a million are terminated every year. In some rural areas deliberate neglect of girls, including allowing the umbilical cord to become infected, is used to dispose of unwanted daughters.

This dismal story has recently been documented in yet another report, Disappearing Daughters, from ActionAid and Canada's International Development Research Centre.

Their researchers looked at a representative sample of about 6,500 households in five districts in states already known to have especially skewed sex ratios: Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The sex ratio had dropped in four of the five districts, compared to 2001 census data. And worst of all, there were only 300 girls for every 1,000 boys among upper-caste Hindus in urban areas of Punjab's Fatehgarh Sahib district.

"There's only a third of the girls there should be in those communities. We're talking about whole villages where there are hardly any girls and we're talking about classrooms with no girls in them, and streets where only boys are playing." Ms Turquet said.

This tragedy is no secret in India – the real tragedy is that Indian society, and even stringent legislation -- seem powerless to stop it. In April Prime Minister Manmohan Singh – who has three daughters -- launched the “Save the Girl Child” campaign. He declared that no nation could claim to be part of a civilised world if it condoned female foeticide. An estimated 50 million girls have been sacrificed because of son preference.

"Census figures illustrate that in some of the richer states the problem is most acute. These states include Punjab which had only 798 girls (per 1,000 boys), Haryana 819, Delhi 868 and Gujarat 883 girls in the 2001 Census. Growing economic prosperity and education levels have not led to a corresponding mitigation in this acute problem," he said.

"Female illiteracy, obscurantist social practices like child marriage or early marriage, dowry, poor nutritional entitlements, taboos on women in public places make Indian women vulnerable. The patriarchal mindset and preference for male children is compounded by unethical conduct on the part of some medical practitioners," the PM said.

But despite the fine words, the gender ratio continues to fall.

A women's rights activist, Dr Ruth Manorama, told MercatorNet, "It is a misconception to think that this is a problem related to extreme poverty and as is revealed, female foeticide is very high in Punjab and Haryana -- some of the best-off states in the country.

“Female foeticide is a consequence of traditional gender bias and gender discrimination. Girls are seen as an economic liability and burden, partly because of the very expensive dowry that must accompany her future marriage. However, dowry is not the only cause for the selective abortion of girls; sons carry on the family name and often the business, usually inherit the property and perform the last rites. The poor eliminate their girls because of the poverty situation and for the rich, daughters are seen as less desirable. This is the deep rooted patriarchal society that we live in.”

“In spite of the progress of India on the global stage, the mindset is still primitive”, lamented Dr Manorama, laureate of the 2006 Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel). “This social evil is deep rooted in Indian ethos and the most shocking fact is that the innovative and high-end technologies are eliminating our girl-child. Attitudinal change is essential to put an end to this social malaise.

“It is most ironic, that advances in medical sciences which are intended to increas the life expectations and quality of life for millions on the contrary are being abused by unscrupulous people to bring about death our of baby girls. Instead there is a culture of death at times being promoted with these innovative techniques, like biopsy, ultrasound, scan tests and amniocentesis, devised to detect genetic abnormalities.”

And Western technology is being used to promote this genocide. Only last month Google and Microsoft were forced to withdraw controversial advertisements from their websites which had been offering sex selection products, home kits and various genetic technique services in India.

The government has tried to ban ultrasound examinations for sex determination since 1994. Pregnant women who seek help for sex selection can be sentenced to a three-year prison sentence and fined 50,000 rupees (US$1,200), while doctors can be suspended. But there have been few prosecutions. In fact, tougher regulations against sex-selection abortions have had the perverse effect of increasing the level of infanticide.

The words of a woman doctor cited in the Disappearing Daughters report spell out the problem: “Even though many families are happy to have a girl if they already have a son, the social stigma of just having girls is enormous. Just today I was treating a woman who has two daughters already and she is suffering acute anxiety that her third child will be another girl. The abuse she will receive from her in-laws and her husband will make her life very difficult if she has another daughter.

“There needs to be a serious step-change in attitudes. India might be developing economically, but in terms of our attitude to women, we’re not moving forward at all.”

Anjalee Lewis is a freelance journalist writing from Mumbai.
28755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 03, 2008, 03:51:19 PM

I agree.


As a general rule, I agree about "answering the question", but where I diverge is when it surrenders that candidate's communication with the people.  The media are not a gatekeeper to the American people whose permission is needed to communicate.  Sometimes, one needs simply to blow them off and define the agenda as one will-- and let the people make of it what they will.

I'll agree ducking some questions for which she wasn't ready may have been a part of it, I heartily approve of her defining herself and what she thinks important directly with the people. 
28756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Iran's Nuke Waltz on: October 03, 2008, 03:23:20 PM
At its annual Vienna powwow this week, the world's nuclear watchdog is taking Iran for a few spins over its atomic ambitions. But the mullahs in Tehran know this diplomatic waltz well, and they can rest assured the dance merely frees up more time and space for them to get their bomb.

The International Atomic Energy Agency report does at least tell us the Iranians are closer than ever to becoming a nuclear power. In unusually scathing terms for an outfit disinclined to criticize Iran, the IAEA lays bare Tehran's lack of cooperation and implies it was hiding illegal military work related to its nuclear program. After six years of monitoring, says IAEA boss Mohamed ElBaradei, "the agency has not been able to make substantive progress" to resolve concerns about Iran's military ambitions.

According to the IAEA report, Iran had built up a stockpile of 1,058 pounds of "low-enriched" uranium hexafloride by the end of August. At this rate, as Gary Milhollin of Iran Watch pointed out in the New York Times, Iran will have the low-enriched uranium necessary to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a bomb by mid-January. Iran has recently tested long-range missiles and tried to retrofit them to carry a nuclear warhead.

The five permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany, are on record saying a nuclear Iran would be unacceptable. Surely the U.N., meeting in General Assembly last week days after the IAEA report came out, would respond with urgency. Sure enough, the Europeans and the U.S. suggested another round of sanctions, a position backed by China. And sure enough, Russia scotched those plans.

In its place, the Security Council adopted a resolution calling on Iran to abide by the previous three resolutions to suspend its enrichment program. Translation: "Stop -- or we'll do nothing." Condoleezza Rice called it "a very positive step." Her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, a foreign minister in the Andrei Gromyko mold, was more honest: "This is a reiteration of the status quo."

The Russian ambassador at the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, claimed the irresolute resolution would channel "the minds of everybody in the direction of political rather than military enterprises." The potentially tragic irony is that the failure of resolve makes a military conflict more likely. If Iranian nuclear progress isn't halted by political or economic means, someone -- probably Israel -- will try to stop it by force.

The Security Council nonaction did give Iran a pretext to make fresh threats. A senior Iranian lawmaker told the state news agency that Iran would limit the IAEA's access to the known nuclear sites. The covert sites are off limits. Presumably he was speaking on orders. But the Europeans, joined in recent months by the Bush Administration, still claim to believe that Iran can be talked out of the bomb.

The Iranians have been offered everything from membership in the World Trade Organization to Western billions and backing for its energy sector, including civilian nuclear reactors. The mullahs mock those entreaties. And in the latest humiliation, Iran's terrorist client state with its own nuclear ambitions, Syria, was poised this week to win a seat on the IAEA's 35-member board. The U.S. and EU are trying to get Afghanistan in its place.

Both of America's Presidential candidates say they worry about a new nuclear arms race. The best way to stop proliferation, particularly in the combustible Middle East, is to start getting serious about stopping Iran from joining the club.

Please add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.
28757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Willing to Lose on: October 03, 2008, 02:54:46 PM
Obama Was Willing to Lose in Iraq
A president cannot treat a war as if it's a game.By ROBERT MCFARLANEArticle
A profoundly important point is being missed in the campaign debate over which candidate was right on Iraq. In 2006, when conditions on the ground were trending downward and a decision was required either to continue the struggle or to cut our losses, Barack Obama stated that the proposed deployment of more forces, the "surge," was doomed to failure and instead called for a phased withdrawal of all forces within a defined period.

In short, Sen. Obama was willing to lose. It was an astonishing display of ignorance to be so cavalier about defeat, almost as if losing a war was tantamount to losing a set of tennis -- something without lasting consequence.

I recall very vividly April 30, 1975, the day we acknowledged defeat in the Vietnam War -- the day Ambassador Graham Martin and others were evacuated ignominiously from the roof of our embassy in Saigon. Only later did it become clear how damaging that defeat was.

There were consequences for all nations, especially small states who are vulnerable to great-power pressures. In the late 1970s it contributed to a greater Russian willingness to take risks and a more aggressive Soviet foreign policy. Indeed, in the years immediately following our defeat in Vietnam, an emboldened Soviet Union established a dominant influence in Angola, Ethiopia, South Yemen, Mozambique, Nicaragua and ultimately invaded Afghanistan with 100,000 troops.

Our loss also lessened our willingness to criticize the Soviet Union and thereby undermined the struggles of oppressed minorities inside that totalitarian state.

Losing a war also affects the behavior of allies who begin to wonder whether the United States can still muster the means and will to uphold its obligations, and to ask themselves whether they need at least to hedge their bets by being more conciliatory to adversaries. I recall very well the sudden rush of European foreign ministers to Moscow in the late '70s without so much as a preliminary discussion with their counterpart in Washington.

Further, losing a war also has a profound effect on the thinking within our military concerning how it was led, restricted, or abused in wartime. Painful reflection on a loss penetrates every level of the military and conditions its future relationship with civilian leaders -- as it surely did in the wake of the Vietnam War. Specifically, it led to the adoption, at military urging, of the Weinberger Doctrine, which asserted stringent criteria to be met in the future before any resort to the use of military force. These criteria included not committing forces to combat unless it was vital to our national interest, we had clearly defined political and military objectives, and unless the engagement had the support of the American people and Congress -- and then only as a last resort.

Allies and adversaries could see that these criteria were virtually impossible to fulfill, thus worrying the former and encouraging the latter. Yet such was the effect on senior military leaders of losing a war they knew they could have won. We are seeing some of the same disdain within the military toward our political leadership today as a consequence of how civilian leaders mismanaged the war in its first three-plus years.

Losing a war also affects our body politic. Americans have a low tolerance for foreign wars; losing one only reinforces their inclination to avoid foreign involvement and focus on matters here at home. Now is such a time. Yet can you imagine how much worse our political stability would be today -- faced with the financial and housing crises -- if we were also coming home from losing a war?

Consideration of these costs raises the question of whether we are forever bound to continue suffering losses if it becomes clear that we aren't winning. Considering the family of threats we face today, the question is specious. Notwithstanding the hubris and intelligence failure regarding Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program, which motivated our launching the Iraq war in the first place, and our failure to plan for the likely contingency of an insurgency arising, it is difficult to imagine circumstances anywhere in the world today where the U.S. military cannot prevail if properly employed.

This is not at all to say that we should be frivolous toward using military force -- quite the contrary. We are entering a time requiring consummate judgment and careful deliberation toward how to resolve the panoply of challenges before us. Indeed these challenges put a very high premium on coordinating the use of our political and economic resources with allies and avoiding war wherever possible.

The next president will enter office with the war in Iraq winding down but with the conflict in Afghanistan requiring urgent, focused attention. The stakes engaged there go well beyond restoring order in that country alone. How we emerge from Afghanistan will go far toward determining our ability to prevail in the global war against radical Islam, our ability to limit nuclear proliferation, and to bring order and the hope for a brighter future to the almost two billion people in South and Central Asia. These are issues of profound importance to the future security of our nation and our citizens. Losing is not an option, and no sensible leader should entertain the thought that it is.

Mr. McFarlane served as President Reagan's National Security Adviser from 1983-85.

Please add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.
28758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: October 03, 2008, 02:38:55 PM
Profiles of valor: USMC LCpl McLeese
On 16 September 2004, United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal Justin McLeese was riding in a convoy traveling to a compound in central Iraq when his Humvee flipped off the road in the rough, gravel terrain. He was thrown 20 feet from the vehicle but immediately went back to help those trapped inside. McLeese pulled two fellow Marines from the wreckage, including his platoon sergeant. The platoon then lifted the Humvee off the ground to save a third Marine stuck underneath.

It was in Fallujah later that year, though, where McLeese really proved his mettle. As his team was clearing numerous buildings in the city on 11 November, they engaged and killed four enemy fighters. One insurgent had faked his death, however, and tried to engage the Marines from a nearby room. McLeese acted quickly, eliminating the threat with a shotgun blast. Two days later, upon entering another building in Fallujah, McLeese was hit numerous times by enemy fire. Despite his wounds, he continued to fight alongside his comrades until he was fatally wounded by an IED explosion. For his courage and tenacity under fire, McLeese posthumously received the Bronze Star.
28759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison; S. Adams on: October 03, 2008, 02:29:13 PM
"For the same reason that the members of the State legislatures
will be unlikely to attach themselves sufficiently to national
objects, the members of the federal legislature will be likely
to attach themselves too much to local objects."

-- James Madison (Federalist No. 46, 1 February 1788)

Reference: Madison, Federalist No. 46

"No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can
any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffusd and Virtue is
preservd. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant,
and debauchd in their Manners, they will sink under their own
weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders."

-- Samuel Adams (letter to James Warren, 4 November 1775)

Reference: Our Sacred Honor, Bennett (261)
28760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 03, 2008, 02:22:59 PM
Over to you JDN  smiley
28761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 03, 2008, 10:15:12 AM
In alignment with its agenda, the NY Times seeks to share the blame.  Is the point fair?


Published: October 2, 2008
“We have a good deal of comfort about the capital cushions at these firms at the moment.” — Christopher Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, March 11, 2008.

As rumors swirled that Bear Stearns faced imminent collapse in early March, Christopher Cox was told by his staff that Bear Stearns had $17 billion in cash and other assets — more than enough to weather the storm.

Drained of most of its cash three days later, Bear Stearns was forced into a hastily arranged marriage with JPMorgan Chase — backed by a $29 billion taxpayer dowry.

Within six months, other lions of Wall Street would also either disappear or transform themselves to survive the financial maelstrom — Merrill Lynch sold itself to Bank of America, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection, and Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley converted to commercial banks.

How could Mr. Cox have been so wrong?

Many events in Washington, on Wall Street and elsewhere around the country have led to what has been called the most serious financial crisis since the 1930s. But decisions made at a brief meeting on April 28, 2004, explain why the problems could spin out of control. The agency’s failure to follow through on those decisions also explains why Washington regulators did not see what was coming.

On that bright spring afternoon, the five members of the Securities and Exchange Commission met in a basement hearing room to consider an urgent plea by the big investment banks.

They wanted an exemption for their brokerage units from an old regulation that limited the amount of debt they could take on. The exemption would unshackle billions of dollars held in reserve as a cushion against losses on their investments. Those funds could then flow up to the parent company, enabling it to invest in the fast-growing but opaque world of mortgage-backed securities; credit derivatives, a form of insurance for bond holders; and other exotic instruments.

The five investment banks led the charge, including Goldman Sachs, which was headed by Henry M. Paulson Jr. Two years later, he left to become Treasury secretary.

A lone dissenter — a software consultant and expert on risk management — weighed in from Indiana with a two-page letter to warn the commission that the move was a grave mistake. He never heard back from Washington.

One commissioner, Harvey J. Goldschmid, questioned the staff about the consequences of the proposed exemption. It would only be available for the largest firms, he was reassuringly told — those with assets greater than $5 billion.

“We’ve said these are the big guys,” Mr. Goldschmid said, provoking nervous laughter, “but that means if anything goes wrong, it’s going to be an awfully big mess.”

Mr. Goldschmid, an authority on securities law from Columbia, was a behind-the-scenes adviser in 2002 to Senator Paul S. Sarbanes when he rewrote the nation’s corporate laws after a wave of accounting scandals. “Do we feel secure if there are these drops in capital we really will have investor protection?” Mr. Goldschmid asked. A senior staff member said the commission would hire the best minds, including people with strong quantitative skills to parse the banks’ balance sheets.

Annette L. Nazareth, the head of market regulation, reassured the commission that under the new rules, the companies for the first time could be restricted by the commission from excessively risky activity. She was later appointed a commissioner and served until January 2008.

“I’m very happy to support it,” said Commissioner Roel C. Campos, a former federal prosecutor and owner of a small radio broadcasting company from Houston, who then deadpanned: “And I keep my fingers crossed for the future.”

The proceeding was sparsely attended. None of the major media outlets, including The New York Times, covered it.

After 55 minutes of discussion, which can now be heard on the Web sites of the agency and The Times, the chairman, William H. Donaldson, a veteran Wall Street executive, called for a vote. It was unanimous. The decision, changing what was known as the net capital rule, was completed and published in The Federal Register a few months later.

With that, the five big independent investment firms were unleashed.

In loosening the capital rules, which are supposed to provide a buffer in turbulent times, the agency also decided to rely on the firms’ own computer models for determining the riskiness of investments, essentially outsourcing the job of monitoring risk to the banks themselves.

Over the following months and years, each of the firms would take advantage of the looser rules. At Bear Stearns, the leverage ratio — a measurement of how much the firm was borrowing compared to its total assets — rose sharply, to 33 to 1. In other words, for every dollar in equity, it had $33 of debt. The ratios at the other firms also rose significantly.

The 2004 decision for the first time gave the S.E.C. a window on the banks’ increasingly risky investments in mortgage-related securities.

But the agency never took true advantage of that part of the bargain. The supervisory program under Mr. Cox, who arrived at the agency a year later, was a low priority.
Page 2 of 3)

The commission assigned seven people to examine the parent companies — which last year controlled financial empires with combined assets of more than $4 trillion. Since March 2007, the office has not had a director. And as of last month, the office had not completed a single inspection since it was reshuffled by Mr. Cox more than a year and a half ago.

The few problems the examiners preliminarily uncovered about the riskiness of the firms’ investments and their increased reliance on debt — clear signs of trouble — were all but ignored.

The commission’s division of trading and markets “became aware of numerous potential red flags prior to Bear Stearns’s collapse, regarding its concentration of mortgage securities, high leverage, shortcomings of risk management in mortgage-backed securities and lack of compliance with the spirit of certain” capital standards, said an inspector general’s report issued last Friday. But the division “did not take actions to limit these risk factors.”

Drive to Deregulate

The commission’s decision effectively to outsource its oversight to the firms themselves fit squarely in the broader Washington culture of the last eight years under President Bush.

A similar closeness to industry and laissez-faire philosophy has driven a push for deregulation throughout the government, from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency to worker safety and transportation agencies.

“It’s a fair criticism of the Bush administration that regulators have relied on many voluntary regulatory programs,” said Roderick M. Hills, a Republican who was chairman of the S.E.C. under President Gerald R. Ford. “The problem with such voluntary programs is that, as we’ve seen throughout history, they often don’t work.”

As was the case with other agencies, the commission’s decision was motivated by industry complaints of excessive regulation at a time of growing competition from overseas. The 2004 decision was aimed at easing regulatory burdens that the European Union was about to impose on the foreign operations of United States investment banks.

The Europeans said they would agree not to regulate the foreign subsidiaries of the investment banks on one condition — that the commission regulate the parent companies, along with the brokerage units that the S.E.C. already oversaw.

A 1999 law, however, had left a gap that did not give the commission explicit oversight of the parent companies. To get around that problem, and in exchange for the relaxed capital rules, the banks volunteered to let the commission examine the books of their parent companies and subsidiaries.

The 2004 decision also reflected a faith that Wall Street’s financial interests coincided with Washington’s regulatory interests.

“We foolishly believed that the firms had a strong culture of self-preservation and responsibility and would have the discipline not to be excessively borrowing,” said Professor James D. Cox, an expert on securities law and accounting at Duke School of Law (and no relationship to Christopher Cox).

“Letting the firms police themselves made sense to me because I didn’t think the S.E.C. had the staff and wherewithal to impose its own standards and I foolishly thought the market would impose its own self-discipline. We’ve all learned a terrible lesson,” he added.

In letters to the commissioners, senior executives at the five investment banks complained about what they called unnecessary regulation and oversight by both American and European authorities. A lone voice of dissent in the 2004 proceeding came from a software consultant from Valparaiso, Ind., who said the computer models run by the firms — which the regulators would be relying on — could not anticipate moments of severe market turbulence.

“With the stroke of a pen, capital requirements are removed!” the consultant, Leonard D. Bole, wrote to the commission on Jan. 22, 2004. “Has the trading environment changed sufficiently since 1997, when the current requirements were enacted, that the commission is confident that current requirements in examples such as these can be disregarded?”

He said that similar computer standards had failed to protect Long-Term Capital Management, the hedge fund that collapsed in 1998, and could not protect companies from the market plunge of October 1987.

Mr. Bole, who earned a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Chicago, helps write computer programs that financial institutions use to meet capital requirements.

He said in a recent interview that he was never called by anyone from the commission.

“I’m a little guy in the land of giants,” he said. “I thought that the reduction in capital was rather dramatic.”

Policing Wall Street

A once-proud agency with a rich history at the intersection of Washington and Wall Street, the Securities and Exchange Commission was created during the Great Depression as part of the broader effort to restore confidence to battered investors. It was led in its formative years by heavyweight New Dealers, including James Landis and William O. Douglas. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt was asked in 1934 why he appointed Joseph P. Kennedy, a spectacularly successful stock speculator, as the agency’s first chairman, Roosevelt replied: “Set a thief to catch a thief.”

The commission’s most public role in policing Wall Street is its enforcement efforts. But critics say that in recent years it has failed to deter market problems. “It seems to me the enforcement effort in recent years has fallen short of what one Supreme Court justice once called the fear of the shotgun behind the door,” said Arthur Levitt Jr., who was S.E.C. chairman in the Clinton administration. “With this commission, the shotgun too rarely came out from behind the door.”
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Christopher Cox had been a close ally of business groups in his 17 years as a House member from one of the most conservative districts in Southern California. Mr. Cox had led the effort to rewrite securities laws to make investor lawsuits harder to file. He also fought against accounting rules that would give less favorable treatment to executive stock options.

Under Mr. Cox, the commission responded to complaints by some businesses by making it more difficult for the enforcement staff to investigate and bring cases against companies. The commission has repeatedly reversed or reduced proposed settlements that companies had tentatively agreed upon. While the number of enforcement cases has risen, the number of cases involving significant players or large amounts of money has declined.

Mr. Cox dismantled a risk management office created by Mr. Donaldson that was assigned to watch for future problems. While other financial regulatory agencies criticized a blueprint by Mr. Paulson, the Treasury secretary, that proposed to reduce their stature — and that of the S.E.C. — Mr. Cox did not challenge the plan, leaving it to three former Democratic and Republican commission chairmen to complain that the blueprint would neuter the agency.

In the process, Mr. Cox has surrounded himself with conservative lawyers, economists and accountants who, before the market turmoil of recent months, had embraced a far more limited vision for the commission than many of his predecessors.

‘Stakes in the Ground’

Last Friday, the commission formally ended the 2004 program, acknowledging that it had failed to anticipate the problems at Bear Stearns and the four other major investment banks.

“The last six months have made it abundantly clear that voluntary regulation does not work,” Mr. Cox said.

The decision to shutter the program came after Mr. Cox was blamed by Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, for the crisis. Mr. McCain has demanded Mr. Cox’s resignation.

Mr. Cox has said that the 2004 program was flawed from its inception. But former officials as well as the inspector general’s report have suggested that a major reason for its failure was Mr. Cox’s use of it.

“In retrospect, the tragedy is that the 2004 rule making gave us the ability to get information that would have been critical to sensible monitoring, and yet the S.E.C. didn’t oversee well enough,” Mr. Goldschmid said in an interview. He and Mr. Donaldson left the commission in 2005.

Mr. Cox declined requests for an interview. In response to written questions, including whether he or the commission had made any mistakes over the last three years that contributed to the current crisis, he said, “There will be no shortage of retrospective analyses about what happened and what should have happened.” He said that by last March he had concluded that the monitoring program’s “metrics were inadequate.”

He said that because the commission did not have the authority to curtail the heavy borrowing at Bear Stearns and the other firms, he and the commission were powerless to stop it.

“Implementing a purely voluntary program was very difficult because the commission’s regulations shouldn’t be suggestions,” he said. “The fact these companies could withdraw from voluntary supervision at their discretion diminished the mandate of the program and weakened its effectiveness. Experience has shown that the S.E.C. could not bootstrap itself into authority it didn’t have.”

But critics say that the commission could have done more, and that the agency’s effectiveness comes from the tone set at the top by the chairman, or what Mr. Levitt, the longest-serving S.E.C. chairman in history, calls “stakes in the ground.”

“If you go back to the chairmen in recent years, you will see that each spoke about a variety of issues that were important to them,” Mr. Levitt said. “This commission placed very few stakes in the ground.”

28762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 03, 2008, 09:23:09 AM
I agree Ifill behaved, indeed I thought she did a rather good job-- though I suspect her personal policitics being put in the spotlight had something to do with that.

I thought SP did quite well.  Although not able to wonk with Biden on some of the points and there were some passages where he scored well, she showed a strong ability to define things on her terms and an impressive abiilty to absorb and articulate a lot of material-- to operate at this level after 5 weeks on the national stage I find genuinely impressive.  She did very well keeping track of Biden's points and answering them-- and ducking the ones that she wanted to.  I thought she did well by steering the conversation to energy matters where she was able to show substance, and did VERY well with "the vision thing", leaving Biden looking the wonk.
28763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 02, 2008, 05:12:43 PM
Unlike Clinton, Biden Gets Pass for Saying He Was 'Shot At' in Iraq
When Hillary Clinton told a tall tale about "landing under sniper fire" in Bosnia, she was accused of "inflating her war experience" by Barack Obama's campaign -- but the campaign has been silent about Joe Biden telling his own questionable story about being "shot at" in Iraq. 
By Bill Sammon

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Barack Obama and Joe Biden wave to the crowd as they arrive for a rally in Fredericksburg, Va., Saturday. (AP Photo)

When Hillary Clinton told a tall tale about "landing under sniper fire" in Bosnia, she was accused of "inflating her war experience" by rival Democrat Barack Obama's campaign.

But the campaign has been silent about Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, telling his own questionable story about being "shot at" in Iraq.

"Let's start telling the truth," Biden said during a presidential primary debate sponsored by YouTube last year. "Number one, you take all the troops out - you better have helicopters ready to take those 3,000 civilians inside the Green Zone, where I have been seven times and shot at. You better make sure you have protection for them, or let them die."

But when questioned about the episode afterward by the Hill newspaper, Biden backpedaled from his claim of being "shot at" and instead allowed: "I was near where a shot landed."

The senior senator from Delaware went on to say that some sort of projectile "landed" outside a building in the Green Zone where he and another senator had spent the night during a visit in December 2005. The lawmakers were shaving in the morning when they felt the building shake, Biden said.

"No one got up and ran from the room-it wasn't that kind of thing," he told the Hill. "It's not like I had someone holding a gun to my head."

The rest of the press ignored the flap at the time because Biden was viewed as having little chance of ending up on the Democratic presidential ticket. But even after Biden was selected to be Obama's running mate last month, his claim to have been "shot at" drew no scrutiny from the same reporters who had savaged Clinton for making a similar claim that turned out to be false.

FOX News has been asking the Obama campaign for details of the alleged shooting in Iraq ever since Biden was tapped to be vice president. Biden campaign spokesman David Wade promised an answer last week, but failed to provide one.

Meanwhile, the gaffe-prone Biden has again raised eyebrows with another story about his exploits in war zones - this time in Afghanistan. Biden said he will grill Republican rival Sarah Palin in Thursday's vice presidential debate about "the superhighway of terror between Pakistan and Afghanistan where my helicopter was forced down."

"If you want to know where Al Qaeda lives, you want to know where Bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me," Biden bragged to the National Guard Association. "Come back to the area where my helicopter was forced down, with a three-star general and three senators at 10,500 feet in the middle of those mountains. I can tell you where they are."

But it turns out that inclement weather, not terrorists, prompted the chopper to land in an open field during Biden's visit to Afghanistan in February. Fighter jets kept watch overhead while a convoy of security vehicles was dispatched to retrieve Biden and fellow Senators Chuck Hagel and John Kerry.

"We were going to send Biden out to fight the Taliban with snowballs, but we didn't have to," joked Kerry, a Democrat, to the AP. "Other than getting a little cold, it was fine."

Biden never explicitly claimed his chopper had been forced down by terrorists. Nonetheless,

John McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said Obama-Biden officials have been less than forthcoming about Biden's dramatic war stories.

"They never explained Biden's helicopter story from last week - which is very similar to the story about getting 'shot at' in Baghdad," Rogers said.

Bill Sammon is deputy Washington managing editor for FOX News Channel.
28764  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: October 02, 2008, 05:09:56 PM
Let the Howl Go Forth!

May it be recorded on the Fire Hydrant of the Tribe!

Mat “Boo Dog” Booe
Stefan “Cro Dog” Kostanjevec

Oskar “C- Spider Dog” Bernal
Riccardo “C- Full Metal Dog” Bassani
Roberto “C- Staffy Dog” Cereda
Tomek “C- Tank Dog” Jurkiewicz
Colin “C- Point Dog” Stewart
Christian “C- Lefty Dog” Eckert

“Dog” Abu Dayyeh
“Dog” Andreas Hommel
“Dog” Chris Smith
“Dog” Detlef Thiem
“Dog” Frederico Corriente
“Dog” Gabriele Cortonesi
“Dog” James Macdonald
“Dog” Jerome Challon
“Dog” Kai Schilling
“Dog” Martin Blatter
“Dog” Matt Tucker
“Dog” Miguel Lopez
“Dog” Odin
“Dog” Pawel Imiela
“Dog” Peter Fray
“Dog” Ray Wilson
“Dog” Sebastian Ehlen
“Dog” Thomas Rickert
“Dog” Torben Lorenian
“Dog” Vitaliano Sestito

"Higher Consciousness through Harder Contact!" (c)
Crafty Dog
28765  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: October 02, 2008, 04:48:12 PM
Heck, I can't think of an impressive KS in ANY of his fights cheesy 

I thought he was a real jerk to his fighters on TUF and will smile if Kimbo takes him.
28766  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Street Weapons on: October 02, 2008, 04:44:53 PM
In DLO 1 I reference a story by Dogzilla who has a story about being on a cell extraction team that had to remove a muscular 250 pound con with such a razor blade from his cell  shocked
28767  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Count Dante? on: October 02, 2008, 04:40:34 PM
Actually I am kind of partial to "the Dogfather" cheesy

BTW, there is a colorful story from the 70s about GT Leo Gaje and the Count , , , wink
28768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / That was then, this is now on: October 02, 2008, 12:37:01 PM

House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 10, 2003:

Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.): I worry, frankly, that there's a tension here. The more people, in my judgment, exaggerate a threat of safety and soundness, the more people conjure up the possibility of serious financial losses to the Treasury, which I do not see. I think we see entities that are fundamentally sound financially and withstand some of the disaster scenarios. . . .

Clockwise from top left: Sen. Thomas Carper, Rep. Barney Frank, Sen. Robert Bennett, Rep. Maxine Waters, Sen. Chris Dodd and Sen. Charles Schumer.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.), speaking to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez:

Secretary Martinez, if it ain't broke, why do you want to fix it? Have the GSEs [government-sponsored enterprises] ever missed their housing goals?

* * *
House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 25, 2003:

Rep. Frank: I do think I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness that we have in OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] and OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision]. I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing. . . .

* * *
House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 25, 2003:

Rep. Gregory Meeks, (D., N.Y.): . . . I am just pissed off at Ofheo [Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight] because if it wasn't for you I don't think that we would be here in the first place.

 Fannie Mayhem: A History
A compendium of The Wall Street Journal's recent editorial coverage of Fannie and Freddie.
And Freddie Mac, who on its own, you know, came out front and indicated it is wrong, and now the problem that we have and that we are faced with is maybe some individuals who wanted to do away with GSEs in the first place, you have given them an excuse to try to have this forum so that we can talk about it and maybe change the direction and the mission of what the GSEs had, which they have done a tremendous job. . .

Ofheo Director Armando Falcon Jr.: Congressman, Ofheo did not improperly apply accounting rules; Freddie Mac did. Ofheo did not try to manage earnings improperly; Freddie Mac did. So this isn't about the agency's engagement in improper conduct, it is about Freddie Mac. Let me just correct the record on that. . . . I have been asking for these additional authorities for four years now. I have been asking for additional resources, the independent appropriations assessment powers.

This is not a matter of the agency engaging in any misconduct. . . .

Rep. Waters: However, I have sat through nearly a dozen hearings where, frankly, we were trying to fix something that wasn't broke. Housing is the economic engine of our economy, and in no community does this engine need to work more than in mine. With last week's hurricane and the drain on the economy from the war in Iraq, we should do no harm to these GSEs. We should be enhancing regulation, not making fundamental change.

Mr. Chairman, we do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac, and in particular at Fannie Mae, under the outstanding leadership of Mr. Frank Raines. Everything in the 1992 act has worked just fine. In fact, the GSEs have exceeded their housing goals. . . .

Rep. Frank: Let me ask [George] Gould and [Franklin] Raines on behalf of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, do you feel that over the past years you have been substantially under-regulated?

Mr. Raines?

Mr. Raines: No, sir.

Mr. Frank: Mr. Gould?

Mr. Gould: No, sir. . . .

Mr. Frank: OK. Then I am not entirely sure why we are here. . . .

Rep. Frank: I believe there has been more alarm raised about potential unsafety and unsoundness than, in fact, exists.

* * *
Senate Banking Committee, Oct. 16, 2003:

Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.): And my worry is that we're using the recent safety and soundness concerns, particularly with Freddie, and with a poor regulator, as a straw man to curtail Fannie and Freddie's mission. And I don't think there is any doubt that there are some in the administration who don't believe in Fannie and Freddie altogether, say let the private sector do it. That would be sort of an ideological position.

Mr. Raines: But more importantly, banks are in a far more risky business than we are.

* * *
Senate Banking Committee, Feb. 24-25, 2004:

Sen. Thomas Carper (D., Del.): What is the wrong that we're trying to right here? What is the potential harm that we're trying to avert?

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan: Well, I think that that is a very good question, senator.

What we're trying to avert is we have in our financial system right now two very large and growing financial institutions which are very effective and are essentially capable of gaining market shares in a very major market to a large extent as a consequence of what is perceived to be a subsidy that prevents the markets from adjusting appropriately, prevents competition and the normal adjustment processes that we see on a day-by-day basis from functioning in a way that creates stability. . . . And so what we have is a structure here in which a very rapidly growing organization, holding assets and financing them by subsidized debt, is growing in a manner which really does not in and of itself contribute to either home ownership or necessarily liquidity or other aspects of the financial markets. . . .

Sen. Richard Shelby (R., Ala.): [T]he federal government has [an] ambiguous relationship with the GSEs. And how do we actually get rid of that ambiguity is a complicated, tricky thing. I don't know how we do it.

I mean, you've alluded to it a little bit, but how do we define the relationship? It's important, is it not?

Mr. Greenspan: Yes. Of all the issues that have been discussed today, I think that is the most difficult one. Because you cannot have, in a rational government or a rational society, two fundamentally different views as to what will happen under a certain event. Because it invites crisis, and it invites instability. . .

Sen. Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.): I, just briefly will say, Mr. Chairman, obviously, like most of us here, this is one of the great success stories of all time. And we don't want to lose sight of that and [what] has been pointed out by all of our witnesses here, obviously, the 70% of Americans who own their own homes today, in no small measure, due because of the work that's been done here. And that shouldn't be lost in this debate and discussion. . . .

* * *
Senate Banking Committee, April 6, 2005:

Sen. Schumer: I'll lay my marker down right now, Mr. Chairman. I think Fannie and Freddie need some changes, but I don't think they need dramatic restructuring in terms of their mission, in terms of their role in the secondary mortgage market, et cetera. Change some of the accounting and regulatory issues, yes, but don't undo Fannie and Freddie.

* * *
Senate Banking Committee, June 15, 2006:

Sen. Robert Bennett (R., Utah): I think we do need a strong regulator. I think we do need a piece of legislation. But I think we do need also to be careful that we don't overreact.

I know the press, particularly, keeps saying this is another Enron, which it clearly is not. Fannie Mae has taken its lumps. Fannie Mae is paying a very large fine. Fannie Mae is under a very, very strong microscope, which it needs to be. . . . So let's not do nothing, and at the same time, let's not overreact. . .

Sen. Jack Reed (D., R.I.): I think a lot of people are being opportunistic, . . . throwing out the baby with the bathwater, saying, "Let's dramatically restructure Fannie and Freddie," when that is not what's called for as a result of what's happened here. . . .

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R., Neb.): Mr. Chairman, what we're dealing with is an astounding failure of management and board responsibility, driven clearly by self interest and greed. And when we reference this issue in the context of -- the best we can say is, "It's no Enron." Now, that's a hell of a high standard.

Please add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.
28769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fatwa for Zardini on: October 02, 2008, 12:33:20 PM
I suppose I could have posted this in the Gender thread as well  cheesy

Flirting with Palin earns Pakistani president a fatwa

A leading religious leader condemned Asif Ali Zardari's comments to Sarah Palin at the UN.

By Issam Ahmed | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor from the October 2, 2008 edition
Lahore, Pakistan - After the flirtation came the fatwa.
With some overly friendly comments to Gov. Sarah Palin at the United Nations, Asif Ali Zardari has succeeded in uniting one of Pakistan's hard-line mosques and its feminists after a few weeks in office.
A radical Muslim prayer leader said the president shamed the nation for "indecent gestures, filthy remarks, and repeated praise of a non-Muslim lady wearing a short skirt."

Feminists charged that once again a male Pakistani leader has embarrassed the country with sexist remarks. And across the board, the Pakistani press has shown disapproval.

What did President Zardari do to draw such scorn? It might have been the "gorgeous" compliment he gave Ms. Palin when the two met at the UN last week during her meet-and-greet with foreign leaders ahead of Thursday's vice presidential debate with opponent Sen. Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential nominee.

But the comments from Zardari didn't end there. He went on to tell Palin: "Now I know why the whole of America is crazy about you."
"You are so nice," replied the Republican vice presidential hopeful, smiling. "Thank you."

But what may have really caused Pakistan's radical religious leaders to stew was his comment that he might "hug" Palin if his handler insisted.
Though the fatwa, issued days after the Sept. 24 exchange, carries little weight among most Pakistanis, it's indicative of the anger felt by Pakistan's increasingly assertive conservatives who consider physical contact and flattery between a man and woman who aren't married to each other distasteful. Though fatwas, or religious edicts, can range from advice on daily life to death sentences, this one does not call for any action or violence.

Last year, the mosque that issued the fatwa, Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad, condemned the former tourism minister, Nilofar Bahktiar, after she was photographed being hugged by a male parachuting coach in France.
Clerics declared the act a "great sin" and, though less vocal about it, similar sentiments were shared by many among Pakistani's middle classes. The Red Mosque gained international infamy in July 2007 after becoming the focal point of a Pakistan Army operation.

For the feminists it's less about cozying up to a non-Muslim woman and more about the sexist remarks by Zardari.

"As a Pakistani and as a woman, it was shameful and unacceptable. He was looking upon her merely as a woman and not as a politician in her own right," says Tahira Abdullah, a member of the Women's Action Forum.
Dismissing the mosque's concerns as "ranting," she, however, adds: "He should show some decorum – if he loved his wife so much as to press for a United Nations investigation into her death, he should behave like a mourning widower," in reference to former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto, a feminist icon for millions of Pakistani women.
The theme of decorum was picked up by English daily Dawn, whose editorial asked: "Why do our presidents always end up embarrassing us internationally by making sexist remarks?"
The incident bears some resemblance to yet another charm offensive by a senior Pakistani politician. Marcus Mabry's biography of Condoleezza Rice includes a passage in which he relates a meeting between former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Ms. Rice, in which Mr. Aziz was said to have stared deeply into the secretary of State's eyes and to have told her he could "conquer any woman in two minutes."
There are some, however, who see things as having been blown out of proportion.
"It was a sweet and innocuous exchange played as an international incident on Pakistani and rascally Indian front-pages with one English daily [writing] it in a scarlet box, half-implying Mrs. Palin would ditch Alaska's First Dude and become Pakistan's First Babe. As if," wrote columnist Fasih Ahmed in the Daily Times.
For most, it will soon be forgotten in a country dealing with terrorism, rising food prices, and a struggling economy. "We don't care that much how they [politicians] behave – what really matters is keeping prices down," says Nazeera Bibi, a maid in Lahore.
28770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 02, 2008, 12:15:11 PM
Very funny-- and given the poor deceived state of the people's awareness of these issues, a parody that runs the risk of being taken seriously.
28771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: October 02, 2008, 12:12:07 PM
Well, some folks think partial birth abortion (supported by BO btw)  is infanticide, likewise leaving aborted fetuses to die outside of the womb (supported by BO btw)  -- this apart from the general circular discussion about when life begins.

Furthermore, it does seem like polygamy is on the radar screen, see e.g. the beginnings of Sharia in the UK, Canada, as discussed in other threads.
28772  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizens defend themselves/others. on: October 02, 2008, 12:07:35 PM
 shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked
28773  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: April 2009 US Gathering on: October 02, 2008, 12:05:40 PM
Just back from Switzerland and have a busy day or three ahead of me.  I WILL look into pinning this down.  I want to see if I can get the corral in Temecula again  cool
28774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 02, 2008, 06:57:19 AM
We shall see tonight how accurate Kathleen Parker is , , ,
28775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Secret WMD, State and Non-State on: October 01, 2008, 02:05:17 PM
I helped my wife's diet this AM with a report that Cadbury Chocolate has a Chinese poison problem. cheesy
28776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Secret WMD, State and Non-State on: October 01, 2008, 01:48:02 PM

Mysterious Cargo Aboard Iranian Ship Seized by Pirates Raises WMD Concerns

Tuesday, September 30, 2008
By Joseph Abrams

As Somali pirates brazenly maintain their standoff with American warships off the coast of Africa, the cargo aboard one Iranian ship they commandeered is raising concerns that it may contain materials that can be used for chemical or biological weapons.

Some local officials suspect that instead of finding riches, the pirates encountered deadly chemical agents aboard the Iranian vessel.

On Aug. 21, the pirates, armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, stole onto the decks of the merchant vessel Iran Deyanat.

They ransacked the ship and searched the containers. But in the days following the hijacking, a number of them fell ill and died, suffering skin burns and hair loss, according to reports.

The pirates were sickened because of their contact with the seized cargo, according to Hassan Osman, the Somali minister of Minerals and Oil, who met with the pirates to facilitate negotiations.

"That ship is unusual," Osman told the Long War Journal, an online news source that covers the War on Terror. "It is not carrying a normal shipment."

The pirates reportedly were in talks to sell the ship back to Iran, but the deal fell through when the pirates were poisoned by the cargo, according to Andrew Mwangura, director of the Kenya-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Program.

"Yes, some of them have died," he told the Long War Journal. "Our sources say [the ship] contains chemicals, dangerous chemicals."

Iran has called the allegations a "sheer lie," and said that the ship "had no dangerous consignment on board," according to Iranian news source Press TV. Iran says the merchant vessel was shipping iron ore from a port in China to Amsterdam.

The ship's contents are still unclear, but the reported deaths and skin abrasions have raised concerns that it could be more than meets the eye.

The massive shipping company that controls the vessel, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line (IRISL), was recently designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury over nuclear proliferation concerns. IRISL, which is accused of falsifying documents to facilitate the shipment of weapons and chemicals for use in Iran's missile program, is blocked from moving money through U.S. banks as well as from carrying food and medical supplies as part of U.S. trade sanctions against Iran.

"IRISL's actions are part of a broader pattern of deception and fabrication that Iran uses to advance its nuclear and missile programs," said Stuart Levey, Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

The U.S. government has made no accusation against IRISL regarding the Iran Denayat; the State Department would not comment on reports of its suspicious cargo.

"I don't have any information on that case," said State Department spokesman Curtis Cooper. "We're aware that there are currently 12 other hijacked ships off the Somali coast. This is obviously something that is disturbing."

Experts on Somalia are dubious of claims made by the country's provisional government, whose president, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, reportedly has family ties to the pirates.

"I'm not saying it's impossible that this has happened, but I'd take anything they say with a great deal of salt," said J. Peter Pham, director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University. "They have made fanciful claims before in the hopes of attracting U.S. and other international attention."

Pham said that the 14 provisional governments that have ruled Somalia since 1991 have all relied on foreign aid for support and profit and could be trying to attract attention by inflating the current crisis.

"Would it be beyond them to raise the specter of WMDs in order to attract resources and international assistance? The only source of revenue for this government is foreign aid," he told

Chemical experts say the reports sound inconsistent with chemical poisoning, but may reflect the effects of exposure to radiation.

"It's baffling," said Jonathan Tucker, a senior fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. "I'm not aware of any chemical agent that produces loss of hair within a few days. That's more suggestive of high levels of radioactive waste."

Tucker, a chemical and biological weapons expert, said that Chinese companies have been implicated in selling Iran so-called dual-use chemicals, legal ingredients that can be processed into chemical weapons.

The U.S. government says that Iran maintains facilities to process those chemicals as part of a chemical and biological weapons program. "Iran continues to seek dual-use technologies that could be used for biological warfare," said Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell in testimony before Congress in February.

But while Iran has purchased and shipped such chemicals in the past, it remains unclear whether the Iran Deyanat contains any illegal chemicals or harmful agents.

"A number of Chinese companies have been implicated in this illicit trade, but I've never heard of extremely toxic chemicals being shipped," Tucker told "It's very rare it's very unlikely that a country would ship manufactured weapons from one country to another."
28777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: October 01, 2008, 01:40:44 PM
Hey JDN:

Is it OK to "marry" your ewe?


The Flint Journal


Man involved with sheep will stay off registry

The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that a Battle Creek man who pleaded no contest to sodomizing a sheep does not have to register as a sex offender after his release from prison.

Jeffrey Haynes, 45, is serving 2 1/2 to 20 years for sodomy- a "crime against nature" under state law. Haynes was sentenced in 2006 after police said he had sex with a sheep at a Bedford TOWNSHIP FARM IN 2005.

The animal's owner caught him on the property, and the sheep was found injured. A DNA sample taken from the animal matched Haynes' genetic material.

A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes.

In a 3-0 opinion released Wednesday, the appeals court said the state sex offender registry is intended to track people who have committed crimes against humans, not animals.
28778  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: October 01, 2008, 11:03:18 AM
Woof All:

With the Dog Brother Bern Tribal Gathering on the 26th and the DB Bern Open Gathering on the 27th, we have a goodly amount of news to report.

Until I get the full list from Lonely Dog, off the top of my head:


Cro Dog


Dog Ludo

Many more to come!

"Higher Consciousness through Harder Contact!" (c)
Crafty Dog
28779  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Swiss Gathering 26-27 of September on: October 01, 2008, 10:44:43 AM
From the blog of Dog Jerome of France
28780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: October 01, 2008, 09:16:27 AM
As is often the case in Life, the boundaries are not clear.  Play it as you will. smiley
28781  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Cooties in Training on: October 01, 2008, 08:07:38 AM
Good point here from Dog Ryan-- which is the matter of speaking up.  In the deeper sense of things, its a matter of self-defense and asserting your space.

Sometimes we may hesitate for fear of giving offense.  Apart from clarity of what is at stake and a sense that I am worth defending, I like to use humor.  Indeed my use of the word "cooties" from my boyhood is part of my technique.    Instead of "Hey man, is that some Herpes you got going there?"  sometimes it plays lighter to say "I dunno man, you're looking a tad cootied there".

28782  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Street Weapons on: October 01, 2008, 08:01:59 AM
GM, C-Kaju:

Thank your for your thoughts, which echo mine.  GM your LEO background adds weight to your words. 

Not shutting off the conversation for anyone inclined to offer additional or contrary thoughts, but as far as I'm concerned its a green light for SG.


28783  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Citizen saves shot LEO by interposing his motorcyle on: October 01, 2008, 07:58:02 AM
28784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Coulter on: October 01, 2008, 07:33:34 AM
“Under [Bill] Clinton, the entire federal government put massive pressure on banks to grant more mortgages to the poor and minorities. Clinton’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Andrew Cuomo, investigated Fannie Mae for racial discrimination and proposed that 50 percent of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s portfolio be made up of loans to low- to moderate-income borrowers by the year 2001. Instead of looking at ‘outdated criteria,’ such as the mortgage applicant’s credit history and ability to make a down payment, banks were encouraged to consider nontraditional measures of credit-worthiness, such as having a good jump shot or having a missing child named ‘Caylee.’ Threatening lawsuits, Clinton’s Federal Reserve demanded that banks treat welfare payments and unemployment benefits as valid income sources to qualify for a mortgage. That isn’t a joke—it’s a fact. ... In 1999, liberals were bragging about extending affirmative action to the financial sector. Los Angeles Times reporter Ron Brownstein hailed the Clinton administration’s affirmative action lending policies as one of the ‘hidden success stories’ of the Clinton administration, saying that ‘black and Latino homeownership has surged to the highest level ever recorded.’ Meanwhile, economists were screaming from the rooftops that the Democrats were forcing mortgage lenders to issue loans that would fail the moment the housing market slowed and deadbeat borrowers couldn’t get out of their loans by selling their houses. A decade later, the housing bubble burst and, as predicted, food-stamp-backed mortgages collapsed. Democrats set an affirmative action time-bomb and now it’s gone off.” —Ann Coulter
28785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Catching up: on: October 01, 2008, 07:30:49 AM
I've been travelling a lot.  I'm glad to be home and begin catching up:

"The greatest good we can do our country is to heal its party
divisions and make them one people."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to John Dickinson, 23 July 1801)

Reference: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Ford Edition, vol. 8

“To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.” —Thomas Jefferson
"It is important also to consider, that the surest means of
avoiding war is to be prepared for it in peace."

-- Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)

Reference: Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 415.
"I am principled against this kind of traffic in the human
species...and to disperse the families I have an aversion."

-- George Washington (letter to Robert Lewis, 18 August 1799)

Reference: Washington's Maxims, 159.
“Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue; or in any manner affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change and can trace its consequences; a harvest reared not by themselves but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow citizens. This is a state of things in which it may be said with some truth that laws are made for the few not for the many.” —James Madison
"Our own Country's Honor, all call upon us for a vigorous
and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall
become infamous to the whole world. Let us therefore rely upon
the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the supreme Being,
in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great
and noble Actions - The Eyes of all our Countrymen are now upon
us, and we shall have their blessings, and praises, if happily
we are the instruments of saving them from the Tyranny mediated
against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other,
and shew the whole world, that a Freeman contending for Liberty
on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth."

-- George Washington (General Orders, 2 July 1776)

Reference: Washington, General Orders, July 2, 1776.
“If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.” —Thomas Jefferson

“I believe that the people you and I represent are ready to chart a new course. They look to us to meet the great challenge, to reach beyond the commonplace and not fall short for lack of creativity or courage... We can restore our economic strength and build opportunities like none we’ve ever had before. As Carl Sandburg said, all we need to begin with is a dream that we can do better than before. All we need to have is faith, and that dream will come true. All we need to do is act, and the time for action is now.” —Ronald Reagan


"I trust that the proposed Constitution afford a genuine specimen
of representative government and republican government; and that
it will answer, in an eminent degree, all the beneficial purposes
of society."

-- Alexander Hamilton (speech to the New York Ratifying Convention,
June 1788)

Reference: The Works of Alexander Hamilton, Henry Cabot Lodge,
ed., II, 30.
28786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Quotes, quips, and sayings on: October 01, 2008, 07:30:33 AM
“The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.” —Herbert Spencer

“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” —Barry Goldwater

“I mean to live my life an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the authority of political truths arrived at yesterday at the voting booth.” —William F. Buckley

“So I became a newspaperman. I hated to do it but I couldn’t find honest employment.” —Mark Twain
28787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gay Rights= New Battles on: October 01, 2008, 07:13:32 AM

"before GM as usual added his usual four posts with no comment or relevancy to the topic,"

Although his posted articles may not fit wtihin the logic of YOUR argument, the fit within the logic of HIS argument-- a logic the relevance of which I found easy to discern even with his tradition of not adding an explanatory sentence or three  wink

Anyway, with the beginning of the Sharia thread nearby, I return to a subject which appears regularly in this thread:
Same-sex marriage: lessons from Canada
Where gay rights triumph, new rights battles begin.

In May this year the California Supreme Court ruled that Proposition 22, which affirmed opposite-sex marriage, was unconstitutional. To date, only Massachusetts in the United States allows same-sex marriage. So what are the Canadian lessons for California and other states that will, in time, face a debate about the redefinition of marriage?
Firstly, where gay rights triumph, new rights battles begin. One example is over the rights of children. Another is over polygamy, which soon involves freedom of religion. A third battle is over freedom of speech -- the right to publicly advocate traditional marriage can be challenged as homophobic. Secondly, where marriage is not understood as an institution, it cannot be defended adequately in the public square. In short, if North Americans are not educated on what marriage is, they will not, in the long term, support an exclusive definition, one that will appear discriminatory even if this is not the case or the intention.

Marriage as an institution is meant to constrain human behaviour, not liberate or grant rights. Put differently, where individuals have both rights and responsibilities, marriage falls more in the latter category; it is a responsibility, not a right.

In his book, The Future of Marriage, American family scholar David Blankenhorn says that "a social institution creates and maintains rules, including rules for who is, and is not, a part of the institution… [A] social institution creates public meaning… [Such institutions] exist to solve basic problems and meet core needs.”

Blankenhorn goes on to say this: “In nearly all human societies marriage is socially approved sexual intercourse between a woman and a man, conceived both as a personal relationship and as an institution, primarily such that any children resulting from the union are—and are understood by the society to be—emotionally, morally, practically, and legally affiliated with both of the parents.”

Keeping this definition in mind, any culture which sanctions same-sex marriage will place children’s rights at odds with adult desires. The January 2007 Ontario court ruling that a child could have three parents was inevitable because with same-sex marriage the concept of biological parenthood is immediately displaced. Same-sex reproduction immediately involves a third party. The idea of a "legal parent" replaced the idea of a “natural parent.”

And from three parents to polygamy: to date, our legislators have ignored the fact, revealed in February, that polygamous Muslim families are living in Toronto and claiming multiple Canadian welfare benefits in many cases. The logical and legal grounds to resist polygamy have been removed, making it difficult to prosecute.

Canadians, we are told, are laid back. But mention polygamy, and precisely the same cultural elites who sanctioned same-sex marriage become a little anxious. Will they accept that? Or will they trample religious freedom to prosecute polygamous families?

The right to practice religion freely has not fared well against gay equality rights. We see this most clearly through the human rights tribunals. In British Columbia, the Catholic Knights of Columbus were fined for declining to host a lesbian couple’s wedding reception. Chris Kempling, a teacher, was disciplined by the teachers’ governing body for a letter to the editor about homosexuality and in Alberta, on May 30, 2008, a pastor, Stephen Boissoin, was fined for the same, and ordered never to speak “discriminatorily” on the topic of homosexuality again.

Certainly, this is not the result of legalizing same-sex marriage. Many factors have combined to create an atmosphere in which marriage looks to be amorphous -- the introduction of no-fault divorce and increasing rights for cohabiting couples changed how we view the institution. Marriage now looks to be strictly religious and strictly private. That it is not purely religious or private at all is lost as equality discourse prevails.

On August 16, 2008, presidential hopeful Barack Obama told a California church audience that marriage was between one man and one woman. California is not a conservative state, yet polls there show support for traditional marriage. But the law also acts as a kind of teacher, which means that, in time, Californians could vote differently, given the recent Supreme Court ruling.

Since same-sex marriage became law, Canadians have been quiet. This is largely self-censoring, led by the real possibility that speaking out will result in public maligning, or worse. California is at a crossroads that Canada has already passed. But both north and south of the border, we need to begin to learn about marriage as an institution, and let those lessons lead public policy in the future.

Andrea Mrozek and Peter Jon Mitchell are staff members of the Institute of Marriage and the Family Canada, a social policy think thank based in Ottawa. This article first appeared in the IMFC's bulletin eReview. 
28788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: ACORN on: October 01, 2008, 12:16:33 AM
Thanks for starting this thread Doug.

IIRC ACORN has some sordid history in Philadelphia too.
28789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 01, 2008, 12:04:23 AM

Scott Grannis is an outstanding economist whose commentary I have had the pleasure to follow in real time for several years now.  I recommend him in the highest terms.

Great insight, clearly expressed.
28790  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: October 01, 2008, 12:01:25 AM
And I'm thankful that upon seeing the VIX at 48 the day before yesterday, that I bought heavily this AM.

AND I am most glad to be home with my family after a week on the road. cool cool cool
28791  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Street Weapons on: October 01, 2008, 12:00:02 AM
Woof SG:

Good to have you with us once again!

You ask a very good question.  Lets hear from everyone on this!

28792  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Ecuador on: September 29, 2008, 06:45:07 PM

 En Guayaquil el sí tan sólo obtuvo 41’80 %


 Los ecuatorianos aprobaron en referéndum la nueva Constitución, 
 dando luz verde al presidente Rafael Correa para  que ponga en 
 práctica los cambios políticos y económicos que, según sus 
 promesas, deben cambiar al país.  Las encuestas a pie de urna 
 otorgaron al Gobierno una victoria más clara de lo que se había 
 anticipado. Según Cedatos-Gallup, el sí ganó con un 70%, el no 
 obtuvo 25 %, y el resto sufragios en blanco y nulos. El canal Uno-
 Noticias otorga al sí el 62’8 %, y al no 30’10%. Teleamazonas sumó 
 66’4 para el sí y 25 % para el no.

 El triunfo arrollador de Correa quedó en parte empañado por la 
 votación en Guayaquil, la ciudad costera que es el motor económico 
 del país. Según las encuestas a pie de urna, el sí no alcanzó el 50 
 %. Unos sondeos colocaban al no por encima del sí, y en otros el sí 
 por delante del no. En todas las encuetas, la suma de los votos por 
 el no, unido a los sufragios en blanco y nulo superaban las 
 papeletas por el sí. En el futuro habrá que analizar que supone que 
 la zona más próspera del país, en defensa de la autonomía, el 
 respaldo a la Constitución no haya llegado al 50 %..

 Al conocer las encuestas que anticipaban su triunfo, Correa saludó 
 en primer lugar a los emigrantes ecuatorianos, “a los tres millones 
 de exiliados de la pobreza”. El presidente señaló que el país “vive 
 un momento histórico que trasciende las personas, es un proceso de 
 cambio de todo un pueblo.

 “Ecuador ha decidido un nuevo país, las viejas estructuras han sido 
 derrotadas por los soldados de la revolución ciudadana”, dijo 
 Correa en Guayaquil, desde la gobernación de la provincia de Guaymas.

 Con este cuarto triunfo electoral consecutivo Correa ya tiene las 
 manos libres para presentarse a la reelección y acelerar sus 
 polémicas reformas socialistas, que, entre otras cosas, otorga al 
 Estado un mayor control en sectores estratégicos. Sumak kawsay, 
 buen vivir en lengua quechua, será el eje del nuevo marco 
 institucional que prometió el presidente. Sin embargo, sumak 
 kawsay, una fórmula tan difusa como el  Socialismo del Siglo XXI 
 que impulsa el joven mandatario ecuatoriano, parece ser el 
 envoltorio de un proyecto estatista y de concentración del poder.

 Por tercera vez en este año y por quinta en los últimos 26 meses, 
 unos 9,7 millones de ecuatorianos (el voto es obligatorio) se 
 pronunciaron sobre el texto constitucional Aunque con 
 características propias, el modelo de Correa sigue la hoja de ruta 
 trazada por Hugo Chávez desde Caracas. El libreto del calendario es 
 el mismo: referéndum para convocar una Constituyente, comicios para 
 Asamblea Constituyente, nuevo referéndum para aprobar la Carta 
 Magna, y otras elecciones para renovar los poderes. Todo en un 
 tiempo muy rápido; las votaciones se suceden mientras el presidente 
 mantiene una alta popularidad y la economía todavía no se resiente 
 de una política populista que multiplica el gasto público.

 Al aprobarse la Constitución,  Ecuador deberá celebrar a principios 
 del próximo año nuevos comicios legislativos y presidenciales; 
 Correa podrá volver a ser candidato -y aspirar a la reelección 
 cuatro años después- sin que se le computen los 20 meses que lleva 
 en el poder. De esta manera, el actual mandatario  podría continuar 
 en el palacio de Carondelet hasta 2017.

          Muchos ecuatorianos fueron a votar con ilusión y 
 esperanza, confiando en que se cumplirán las promesas de Correa de 
 “un mejor vivir”.

 “Tengo fe en Correa, me inspira confianza después de tantos 
 políticos ladrones”, nos comentó Luisa Valle tras votar en un 
 colegio del barrio quiteño Las Casas, en la falda del volcán 

 Jaime Costales, psicólogo y catedrático de la Universidad San 
 Francisco, dijo que el ecuatoriano vive en un "delirio colectivo" 
 por la manipulación de la conciencia con promesas mesiánicas de 
 Correa que jamás podrán llevar al país a una nueva democracia”. “Se 
 usan las mismas artimañas y vicios de los viejos partidos para 
 instaurar un régimen presidencialista que aspira a controlar todos 
 los poderes, silenciando las discrepancias e imponiendo su verdad", 
 señala el profesor.

 Aunque Correa mantiene alta popularidad, en el mundo empresarial se 
 esperan con recelo los cambios. Algunos analistas los rechazan por 
 considerarlos "un listado de buenas intenciones irrealizables en la 

 Joaquim ibarz
28793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 29, 2008, 05:25:55 PM
Army Times
October 6, 2008
Pg. 10

U.S. Stops Spec Ops Raids Into Pakistani Tribal Areas

By Sean D. Naylor

U.S. special operations forces have paused ground operations in Pakistan’s tribal areas, but military and civilian government officials differ over why the cross-border raids have been halted.

The issue of U.S. raids into the tribal areas was thrust into the international spotlight by a Sept. 3 raid in Angor Adda, in the South Waziristan tribal agency, by Navy SEALs working for a Joint Special Operations Command task force.

“We have shown a willingness starting this year to pursue those kinds of missions,” a Pentagon official said. However, he said, after temporarily granting JSOC more latitude to do cross-border missions, U.S. leaders had decided to restrain the command, at least as far as cross-border missions with ground troops are concerned, to allow Pakistani forces to press attacks on militants in the tribal areas.

“We are now working with the Pakistanis to make sure that those types of ground-type insertions do not happen, at least for a period of time to give them an opportunity to do what they claim they are desiring to do,” the Pentagon official said. The pause did not apply to airstrikes from unmanned aerial vehicles at targets inside tribal areas.

Although JSOC is the organization tasked, along with the Central Intelligence Agency, with finding and killing or capturing al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Sept. 3 raid was not aimed at “a huge type of target,” the Pentagon official said. “There were just consistent problems in that area that had come to a point where there was significant evidence that there was complicity on the part of the [Pakistani military’s] Frontier Corps and others in allowing repetitive raids and activities to go on. And there was a firm desire to, one, send a message, and two, also establish any intelligence audit that could be established that would be useful to respond to a frequent question that we get from the other side of the border, which is, ‘Well, show us and tell us where the problem is, then we’ll deal with it.’”

But a U.S. government official closely involved with policy in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region said the military had underestimated the Pakistani response and was reconsidering its options.

The official’s comments were echoed by a field grade special operations officer with Afghanistan experience.

The Sept. 3 raid “was an opportunity to see how the new Pakistani government reacted,” the officer said. “If they didn’t do anything, they were just kind of fairly passive, like [former Pakistani President Pervez] Musharraf was, ... then we felt like, OK, we can slowly up the ante, we can do maybe some more of these ops. But the backlash that happened, and especially the backlash in the diplomatic channels, was pretty severe.”

The raid represented “a strategic miscalculation,” the U.S. government source said. “We did not fully appreciate the vehemence of the Pakistani response,” which included the Pakistan government’s implication that it was willing to cut the coalition’s supply lines through Pakistan.

The military’s comments about the Sept. 3 raid sending a message represented a smokescreen, said the government official, who added that the mission “was meant to be the beginning of a campaign.”

“Once the Pakistanis started talking about closing down our supply routes, and actually demonstrated they could do it, once they started talking about shooting American helicopters, we obviously had to take seriously that maybe this [approach] was not going to be good enough,” the government official said. “We can’t sustain ourselves in Afghanistan without the Pakistani supply routes. At the end of the day, we had to not let our tactics get in the way of our strategy.”

However, a Washington source in government said, “I don’t think there’s been another strategic decision to back off.” Instead, JSOC would “go about it a different way.”

U.S. Central Command spokesman Rear Adm. Greg Smith declined to comment for this story.

Under questioning on Capitol Hill Sept. 23, Defense Secretary Robert Gates did not deny that U.S. forces had made cross-border strikes. “We will do what is necessary to protect our troops,” he said, acknowledging the Pentagon had been granted “authorities” for such action.

Past FATA raids

The Sept. 3 raid was not the first time JSOC forces, the Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta and the Navy’s Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or DevGru, also known as SEAL Team 6, have launched into the tribal areas.

In the past, small JSOC elements have operated with the Pakistani Special Services Group in the tribal areas, and the special operations officer with Afghanistan experience said he was aware of “two or three” cross-border operations similar to the Angor Adda raid. “They have happened, but it was by no means a common occurrence,” he said.

However, the government official closely involved with Afghanistan-Pakistan policy said, JSOC “has been pushing hard for several years” to step up their raids into the tribal areas. JSOC’s argument has been “Give us greater latitude; we’ve got to hit where their sanctuaries are,” the official said.

“In the wake of the increased Taliban attacks we’ve seen over the last several months and the sense of frustration that we haven’t been more successful, their point of view has finally gained traction,” the government official said.

Two government sources identified the Taliban’s July 13 attack on a U.S. outpost in the Korengal valley as a turning point in the debate.

“Clearly, we saw what happened in the Korengal valley as a watershed moment,” said the government official closely involved with policy in the region.

The Sept. 3 raid into Pakistan is part of a heightened operational tempo for JSOC forces based in Afghanistan, several sources said.

JSOC has expanded its target list from the original so-called “big three” of bin Laden, al-Zawahiri and Taliban leader Mullah Omar to a broader list that includes figures in the Taliban-allied network of Jalaluddin Haqqani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami group (sometimes referred to as HiG by the U.S. military).

The U.S. government official involved with policy in the area described JSOC’s targets as fitting into two categories: the “big guys” with whom the U.S. has “unfinished business,” and “those people that threaten us operationally and tactically on the ground right now.”

Several sources said the Sept. 3 raid appeared to have been aimed at the Haqqani network, along with some of its Uzbek allies.

JSOC is “targeting a range of actors, but one of the big ones is Haqqani,” said a civilian expert on Afghanistan, adding that targeting the Haqqani network represented “payback” for its alleged involvement in attacks on the Indian embassy, the Serena hotel in Kabul and an assassination attempt against Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The U.S. government official closely involved with the region’s policy agreed that U.S. forces were targeting Haqqani as “payback,” but also because the network — mostly controlled by Haqqani’s son, Sirajuddin — “is seen as ... the low-hanging fruit,” because its bases in Waziristan are more easily accessible than the terrain of the Bajaur tribal agency, where Hekmatyar’s fighters operate.

“None of the JSOC activity has been going on in the areas around the sanctuary for Mullah Omar’s Taliban,” which is located in and around the Pakistani city of Quetta, the civilian expert on Afghanistan said. “It’s all happening in the tribal areas.”
28794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: September 29, 2008, 04:29:39 PM
"Religion is not the issue, note, it is not an "Islamic" problem, but one of poverty and ignorance."

This indeed is what got me started  smiley
28795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: September 29, 2008, 01:54:32 AM
No one is challenging the idea that education for women is a very good thing and is a very good way out of ignorance and poverty.

I simply challenged your assertion that Islam has nothing to do with women (and men) being held in ignorance. 

Are you asserting some sort of parity when you speak of Zambia?  Are you saying that Christianity in Zambia is used to hold women down? huh

What communicates here is that you find it difficult to acknowledge what is simple fact-- that there are schools of Islam which kill those whom educate women. 

And when you speak of the murdered woman policeman in Afg ("this woman was chosen and able
to be a policewomen in Afghanistan, an Islamic country") it seems to me that the thought is not complete without noting that she was chosen and became able precisely because of American (and a handful of allies) force of arms against the Taliban form of Islam and that she died because she was an educated woman because of the Taliban form of Islam.

Of course there are also the matters of women being lesser witnesses in Islam, and being beaten for not covering head to toe in 120 degree weather, being prohibited to drive, etc etc. 

Islam in Iran, and elsewhere, is used to issue death sentences for those who write "offensive" books, and world wide riots kill and burn embassies because of cartoons.  As is noted in the thread nearby on Islam vs. Free Speech, there are many expressions of Islam which are quite hostile to freedom of thought and expression which are the essence of education.

28796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Afg a narco-terrorist state on: September 28, 2008, 08:07:53 PM

Is Afghanistan becoming a narco-terrorist state?
By Amitai Etzioni - September 25, 2008, 9:32AM

In his response to my original post in this series, Stephen Schwartz objects to my application of the term "narco-terrorism state" to Afghanistan. He claims that I either "misuse the term" or else "libel the government of Hamid Karzai." I let the facts speak for themselves.

Afghanistan now supplies 93% of the world's heroin. The drug trade now amounts to about one half of Afghanistan's GDP--some $4 billion a year. This, after dramatic increases in production in 2006 and 2007.

A considerable chunk of this drug money is being funneled into the very groups that continue to wage an insurgency against the U.S. and Afghan national forces. In a July 2008 report, former U.S. Drug Czar and Retired Four-Star General Barry McCaffrey finds that drug production and export in Afghanistan has become the main source of funding for Taliban and al Qaeda. McCaffrey refers to Afghanistan as a "narco-state" in the report and calls on the international community to either eradicate the drug crop or risk losing the battle against insurgents.

Thomas Schewich, who served as the State Department's top counternarcotics official, shows that the lack of an effective drug-eradication policy which has allowed production and profits to soar over the last several years is not a sign of incompetence, but rather the product of a corrupt Afghani government with close ties to the drug trade. In his July 27, 2008 New York Times Magazine article, Schewich shows how the influence of the drug trade has infiltrated all levels of the Afghani government, all the way up to President Hamid Karzai.

Karzai's "roots and power base" are in wealthier areas of the Pashtun south, Schewich explains, where much of the opium is produced. A September 2007 Kabul Weekly article emphasizes this point: "More than 95 percent of the residents of...the poppy growing provinces--voted for President Karzai." As a result, Karzai is bound to serve the interests of the drug-trade, or else risk getting voted out of power.

As Schewich shows, Karzai has been "playing us like a fiddle" by preaching anti-drug messages on the one hand, but winking and serving the interests of his drug-dependent constituency. For instance, Schewich explains Karzai's successful opposition to a proposed comprehensive aerial crop-eradication program in a September 2007 speech:

"[Karzai] made antidrug statements at the beginning of the speech, but then lashed out at the international community for wanting to spray his people's crops...He got a wild ovation. Not surprising since so many in the room were closely tied to the narcotics trade. Sure, Karzai had Taliban enemies who profited from drugs, but he had even more supporters who did."

Karzai's loyalty to the drug-world is also on display in his record of selecting numerous known drug traffickers for government positions. To head his anticorruption commission, for instance, Karzai appointed a convicted heroin dealer, Izzatulla Wasifi.

The drug trade in Afghanistan is both fuelling the insurgency and corrupting the government--both on a very large scale. If that's not a "narco-terrorist state," what is?

(More to come about the other, equally fallacious, arguments Mr. Schwartz casts about. As to other comments I received, I will answer all those who will own up to their statements and stop hiding behind their aliases.)

I am indebted to Alex Platt for helping to prepare this statement.

Amitai Etzioni is Professor of International Relations at The George Washington University and author of Security First (Yale 2007)
28797  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Self-Defense Law on: September 28, 2008, 07:47:24 PM
A rare piece of good news for our British friends:

You have the right to
shoot dead a burglar
Wed, 16 Jul 2008
HOME OWNERS and others acting in self-defence were yesterday given the legal right for the first time to fight back against burglars and muggers free from fear of prosecution.
They will be able to use force against criminals who break into their homes or attack them in the street without worrying that “heat of the moment” misjudgments could land them in court.
Under the new laws, police and prosecutors will have to assess a person’s actions based on their situation “as they saw it at the time” even if in hindsight it might be seen as unreasonable.
For example, home owners would be able to stab or shoot a burglar if confronted or to tackle them and use force to detain them until police arrived. Muggers could be legally punched and beaten in the street or have their own weapons used against them.
However, attacking a fleeing criminal with a weapon is not permitted nor is lying in wait to ambush them.
The law change follows a public campaign for people to be given the right to defend themselves and their homes after a number of high-profile cases.
In 2000, Tony Martin, a Norfolk farmer, was sent to prison for manslaughter after shooting an intruder in his home.
Tony Singh, a shopkeeper, found himself facing a murder charge this year after he defended himself against an armed robber who tried to steal his takings. During the struggle the robber received a single fatal stab wound to the heart with his own knife.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) eventually decided that Mr Singh should not be charged.
Until now people had to prove in court that they acted in self-defence but the changes mean police and the CPS will make a ruling before that stage.
Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, said that people would be protected legally if they defended themselves “instinctively”; if they feared for their own safety or that of others and the level of force used was not excessive or disproportionate.
He said the changes in the law were designed to ensure the criminal justice system was weighted in favour of the victim.
Mr Straw — and other Labour ministers — had repeatedly blocked attempts by opposition MPs to give greater protection to householders.
In 2004 Tony Blair promised to review legislation after admitting there was “genuine public concern” about the issue.
But his pledge was dropped weeks later after Charles Clarke, the then home secretary, concluded that the existing law was “sound”.
Two private member’s Bills on the issue were tabled by the Tories around the time of the 2005 general election, but both were sunk by the Government.
In 2004, a Tory Bill designed to give the public the right to tackle burglars forcibly was also rejected.
The new self-defence law, which came into force yesterday, is contained in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 and was announced by Mr Straw last September.
He is understood to have decided that changes were necessary after he was involved in four “havea go’’ incidents, which included chasing and restraining muggers near his south London home. Opposition leaders said that the changes offered nothing new and were merely the latest policy designed to appeal to core Tory voters.
In practice, householders are seldom prosecuted if they harm or even kill an intruder but the Act will give them greater legal protection.
Nick Herbert, the shadow justice secretary, said: “This is a typical Labour con — it will give no greater protection to householders confronted by burglars because it’s nothing more than a re-statement of the existing case law.”
Mr Straw said: “The justice system must not only work on the side of people who do the right thing as good citizens, but also be seen to work on their side.
“The Government strongly supports the right of law-abiding people to defend themselves, their families and their property with reasonable force.
“This law will help to make sure that that right is upheld and that the criminal justice system is firmly weighted in favour of the victim. Dealing with crime is not just the responsibility of the police, courts and prisons; it’s the responsibility of all of us.
“Communities with the lowest crime and the greatest safety are the ones with the most active citizens with a greater sense of shared values, inspired by a sense of belonging and duty to others, who are empowered by the state and are also supported by it — in other words, making a reality of justice.
“These changes in the law will make clear — victims of crime, and those who intervene to prevent crime, should be treated with respect by the justice system.
“We do not want to encourage vigilantism, but there can be no justice in a system which makes the victim the criminal.”
The announcement came as it emerged in a leaked draft of the Policing Green Paper that home owners may have to wait up to three days after reporting a crime before they see a police officer.
The Home Office would not comment on the plans.
28798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: September 28, 2008, 07:22:52 PM
Interesting points.  I would quibble with this though:

"Religion is not the issue, note, it is not an "Islamic" problem, but one of poverty and ignorance."

If the religion decapitates and otherwise kills those who teach the girls (as is the case in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere) those schools of Islam are very much the problem.

Were she still alive to speak for herself, I'm guessing this woman would disagree with you as well:

Taliban assassins kill ranking Afghan policewoman
The Associated Press
Sunday, September 28, 2008; 2:50 PM

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Two Taliban assassins on a motorbike shot and killed a senior policewoman as she left for work in Afghanistan's largest southern city Sunday and gravely wounded her son.

Malalai Kakar, 41, who led Kandahar city's department of crimes against women, was leaving home Sunday when she was killed, said Zalmai Ayubi, spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor. Her 18-year-old son was wounded, he said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility.

Militants frequently attack projects, schools and businesses run by women. The hard-line Taliban regime, which was ousted in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, did not allow women outside the home without a male escort.
President Hamid Karzai condemned the assassination, as did the European Union, which said it was "appalled by the brutal targeting" of Kakar.

"Any murder of a police officer is to be condemned, but the killing of a female officer whose service was not only to her country, but to Afghan women, to whom Ms. Kakar served as an example, is particularly abhorrent," the EU said in a statement.
28799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: September 28, 2008, 03:57:16 AM
Seems like a pretty potent description of the problem to me:
28800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tithing on: September 28, 2008, 03:55:58 AM
No one? cry
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