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30751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why no strong recovery on: November 20, 2009, 07:41:28 AM
Why No One Expects a Strong Recovery
When you repeal sound economic policies you repeal their results

By JEB HENSARLING AND PAUL RYAN

One of the strongest factors promoting recovery from our 10 post-World War II recessions was an unshakable conviction that, regardless of the immediate trouble, the American economy is fundamentally strong. Based on this underlying confidence, recessions and recoveries roughly conformed to the principle of the bigger the bust, the bigger the boom, and vice versa.

Thus real growth in the four quarters following postwar recessions averaged 6.6% and 4.3% over the following five years. As the chief economist for Barclays, Dean Maki, said in this newspaper on Aug. 19, "You can't find a single deep recession that has been followed by a moderate recovery."

That may no longer hold. Since the current recession has lasted a record seven quarters—and has been marked by a near-record average GDP decline of 1.8% per quarter—we should be witnessing the start of a powerful and sustained recovery. Yet forecasts of a 2% recovery in growth are only one-fourth as strong as postwar experience suggests. Meanwhile, unemployment sits at a generational high of 10.2%.

Why all the pessimism? The source appears to be a growing fear that the federal government is retreating from the free-market economic principles of the last half-century, and in particular the strong growth policies that began under Ronald Reagan. A review of the economic policies instituted by President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress lends credibility to this concern.

Exhibit A is the economic stimulus package signed into law by President Barack Obama in February. Even among previous stimulus efforts, the 2009 stimulus stands out for its ineffective targeting and sheer size. With interest, it is $1.1 trillion, double the size of Roosevelt's New Deal spending as a percentage of GDP.

View Full Image

Martin Kozlowski
 .Virtually none of the stimulus spending was directed towards encouraging broad-based private investment, and thus failed to encourage true economic growth. An analysis by economists John F. Cogan, John B. Taylor and Volker Wieland, published on this page on Sept. 17, suggests that while the stimulus succeeded in temporarily and marginally increasing disposable personal income, it left personal consumption spending virtually unchanged.

Meanwhile, $112 billion of its $300 billion tax relief was in the form of payments to people who paid no income taxes. These payments, akin to a one-time welfare check, do not change the incentives to save and invest, and do not effectively promote broad-based economic growth.

Exhibit B is tax policy going forward. It is a near certainty that Democratic-controlled Congress will allow most of the tax cuts of 2001-2003 to expire on Dec. 31, 2010. Marginal income tax rates, capital gains rates, dividend rates and death-tax rates will increase—significantly. Hardest hit by these increases will be small businesses that file under the individual income tax code as sub-chapter S corporations, partnerships and proprietorships. Yet these are the very people whose investment and hiring decisions either drive or starve recoveries.

Exhibit C is the administration's intervention in the GM and Chrysler reorganizations. Upsetting decades of accepted bankruptcy law, the administration leveraged TARP funds to place unsecured and lower priority creditors like the United Auto Workers union in front of secured and higher priority creditors. This intervention has arguably had the effect of stifling investment as wary investors watched political considerations trump the rule of law.

As Warren Buffett said at the time, "We don't want to say to somebody who lends and gets a secured position that the secured position doesn't mean anything." Gary Parr, deputy chair of the mergers and acquisitions firm Lazard Freres & Co., stated the problem more directly. "I can't imagine the markets will function properly if you are always wondering if the government is going to step in and change the game," he was quoted in The Atlantic Online in September.

Health care, the administration's signature issue, is Exhibit D. Disregarding its impact on quality and access, its plan will surely cost well over $1 trillion over the next decade. The House-passed version includes an 8% "pay or play" payroll tax and a half-trillion dollar surtax on incomes over $500,000, much of which will strike small business. Both taxes will tend to depress investment and the creation of new jobs.

And looming down the road is the proposed cap-and-tax legislation, which will cost taxpayers $800 billion.

Beyond instilling tremendous political uncertainty into economic decision-making, these policies ensure that deficits will shatter all previous records. In the Office of Management and Budget's 2009 Mid-Session Review, the administration projects a decade of deficits averaging 3.3 times the postwar norm of 1.8%. Yet its projections assume that interest rates will be less than half the postwar norm for interest rates, and that economic growth will be almost 10% higher than the high-growth 1980s. Never in the postwar era have such high deficits, low interest rates and high growth rates occurred simultaneously.

If one substitutes the Blue Chip Economic Forecast's interest-rate forecast for that of the administration, deficits will increase by an additional $1.2 trillion over the administration's projected deficits. If the next decade's interest rates climb to match those of the 1980s, then the deficit would increase another $5.3 trillion. If higher interest rates then slow economic growth, the impact on the deficit would be much worse.

Anyone who believes the Democratic Party's recently expressed concern over the deficit should look at the relentless growth of spending on its watch. Total nondefense spending set an all-time record this year—20.2% of GDP—double federal spending as a percentage of GDP during the height of the New Deal in 1934. Even without this year's stimulus bill and last year's bailout of the financial system, nondefense discretionary spending authority still grew by 10.1% in fiscal year 2009 and is projected to rise by another 12% in fiscal year 2010. Forty-three cents of every dollar of this spending is borrowed money.

Given the magnitude of federal borrowing, there is good reason to expect higher interest rates and strong inflationary pressures in the future.

It is hardly surprising that many investors are reaching the conclusion that this administration and Congress favor policies that virtually guarantee the economy will not return to the climate of low interest rates, benign inflation and strong growth that we knew from 1982-2007. These investors understand a simple truth that current Washington policy makers fail to grasp: When you repeal the Reagan economic program, you repeal its results.

Messrs. Hensarling and Ryan are Republican representatives from Texas and Wisconsin, respectively.
30752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Call Today! on: November 20, 2009, 07:36:56 AM
TODAY call your Congressman and your Senators against the Health Care bills!!!

URGENT ACTION ALERT: OBAMACARE BILL UP FOR CLOTURE VOTE IN SENATE! HELP STOP THIS BILL.
 
On Friday, the Senate will convene at 10:00 am and debate the merits of Sen. Reid’s 2,074 page bill until 11:00 pm on Friday evening. On Saturday, the Senate will convene at 10:00 am continuing the debate leading up to the vote at 8:00 pm on cloture on the motion to proceed. Harry Reid will try to challenge a Republican filibuster in the Senate and ramrod this bill through!
 
We are going to stop this Bill in the Senate and this is how: we need to keep the pressure on the Senators listed below especially Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson. These three are very vulnerable, Nelson has stated that he will not vote for the Bill if it has the public option and he wants to see the abortion issue language.

The abortion issue will be a sticking point for the Senate as we have many moderate DEMS who are Pro-Life; they will not vote the bill without some sort of language to the issue.
 
We need the Senate to Vote NO on Cloture. I vote YES for this will be a vote for the Bill.
We need 41 NO votes on cloture!
 
When you are call the Senators tell them to VOTE NO to cloture and to stop this health care bill: its a bad prescription for your family and America paid for with more debt we can't afford!

We need to lean hard on the below Senators, they are our best chance of this getting this stopped in the Senate:
 
Bill Nelson- FL- Phone: 202-224-5274, Fax: 202-228-2183
Email (http://billnelson.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm)

Blanche L. Lincoln –AR-Office:  202-224-4843; Fax:  202-228-1371, email(http://lincoln.senate.gov/contact/email.cfm)

 
Mary Landrieu- LA Voice: (202)224-5824,Fax:(202) 224-9735
Email (http://landrieu.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm)
 
Joseph Lieberman- CT-(202) 224-4041 Voice,(202) 224-9750 Fax
Email (http://lieberman.senate.gov/contact/)
 
Mark Begich-AK- phone. (202) 224-3004, , toll free. (877) 501 – 6275*  fax. (202) 224-2354,
email(http://begich.senate.gov/contact/contact.cfm_)

Mark Pryor-AR Phone: (202) 224-2353,  Fax: (202) 228-0908Email(http://pryor.senate.gov/contact/)
 
Thomas Carper-DE Phone: (202) 224-2441, Fax: (202) 228-2190Email (http://carper.senate.gov/contact/)
 
Even Bayh-IN (202) 224-5623, (202) 228-1377 faxEmail (http://bayh.senate.gov/contact/email/)
 
Susan Collins –( R ) ME-Phone: (202) 224-2523, Fax: (202) 224-2693
Email(http://collins.senate.gov/public/continue.cfm?FuseAction=ContactSenatorCollins.EmailIssue)
 
Olympia Snowe-( R ) ME – Phone: (202) 224-5344,Toll Free: (800) 432-1599
Fax: (202) 224-1946
Email (http://snowe.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContactSenatorSnowe)
 
John Tester-MT Phone: (202) 224-2644, Fax: (202) 224-8594
Email (http://tester.senate.gov/Contact/index.cfm)
 
Kent Conrad-ND-Phone: (202) 224-2043, Fax: (202) 224-7776Email(http://conrad.senate.gov/contact/webform.cfm)
 
Ben Nelson-NE- Tel: 1-202-224-6551, Fax: 1-202-228-0012Email (http://bennelson.senate.gov/contact-me.cfm)
 
Ron Wyden-OR Phone: (202) 224-5244, Fax: (202) 228-2717Email (http://wyden.senate.gov/contact/)
 
Robert Byrd-WV- Telephone:  (202) 224-3954,Fax:  (202) 228-0002
Email (http://byrd.senate.gov/contacts/)
 
Mark Warner- VA- Phone: 202-224-2023, Fax: 202-224-6295Email (http://warner.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Contact)
 
Bob Bennett- UT-Phone:  (202) 224-5444 (no fax)
Email: http://bennett.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=ContactForm
 
Byron Dorgan- ND Phone (202) 224-2551 , Fax (202) 224-1193
Email: http://dorgan.senate.gov/contact/contact_form.cfm
 
Max Baucus-MT (202) 224-2651 (Office),(202) 224-9412 (Fax)Email: http://baucus.senate.gov/contact/emailForm.cfm?subj=issue
30753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WTF?!? on: November 20, 2009, 07:35:29 AM
TARP Inspector General Neil Barofsky keeps committing flagrant acts of political transparency, which if nothing else ought to inform the debate going forward over financial reform. In his latest bombshell, the IG discloses that the New York Federal Reserve did not believe that AIG's credit-default swap (CDS) counterparties posed a systemic financial risk.

Hello?

For the last year, the entire Beltway theory of the financial panic has been based on the claim that the "opaque," unregulated CDS market had forced the Fed to take over AIG and pay off its counterparties, lest the system collapse. Yet we now learn from Mr. Barofsky that saving the counterparties was not the reason for the bailout.

View Full Image

REUTERS
 
Timothy Geithner
.In the fall of 2008 the New York Fed drove a baby-soft bargain with AIG's credit-default-swap counterparties. The Fed's taxpayer-funded vehicle, Maiden Lane III, bought out the counterparties' mortgage-backed securities at 100 cents on the dollar, effectively canceling out the CDS contracts. This was miles above what those assets could have fetched in the market at that time, if they could have been sold at all.

The New York Fed president at the time was none other than Timothy Geithner, the current Treasury Secretary, and Mr. Geithner now tells Mr. Barofsky that in deciding to make the counterparties whole, "the financial condition of the counterparties was not a relevant factor."

This is startling. In April we noted in these columns that Goldman Sachs, a major AIG counterparty, would certainly have suffered from an AIG failure. And in his latest report, Mr. Barofsky comes to the same conclusion. But if Mr. Geithner now says the AIG bailout wasn't driven by a need to rescue CDS counterparties, then what was the point? Why pay Goldman and even foreign banks like Societe Generale billions of tax dollars to make them whole?

Both Treasury and the Fed say they think it would have been inappropriate for the government to muscle counterparties to accept haircuts, though the New York Fed tried to persuade them to accept less than par. Regulators say that having taxpayers buy out the counterparties improved AIG's liquidity position, but why was it important to keep AIG liquid if not to protect some class of creditors?

Yesterday, Mr. Geithner introduced a new explanation, which is that AIG might not have been able to pay claims to its insurance policy holders: "AIG was providing a range of insurance products to households across the country. And if AIG had defaulted, you would have seen a downgrade leading to the liquidation and failure of a set of insurance contracts that touched Americans across this country and, of course, savers around the world."

Yet, if there is one thing that all observers seemed to agree on last year, it was that AIG's money to pay policyholders was segregated and safe inside the regulated insurance subsidiaries. If the real systemic danger was the condition of these highly regulated subsidiaries—where there was no CDS trading—then the Beltway narrative implodes.

Interestingly, in Treasury's official response to the Barofsky report, Assistant Secretary Herbert Allison explains why the department acted to prevent an AIG bankruptcy. He mentions the "global scope of AIG, its importance to the American retirement system, and its presence in the commercial paper and other financial markets." He does not mention CDS.

All of this would seem to be relevant to the financial reform that Treasury wants to plow through Congress. For example, if AIG's CDS contracts were not the systemic risk, then what is the argument for restructuring the derivatives market? After Lehman's failure, CDS contracts were quickly settled according to the industry protocol. Despite fears of systemic risk, none of the large banks, either acting as a counterparty to Lehman or as a buyer of CDS on Lehman itself, turned out to have major exposure.

More broadly, lawmakers now have an opportunity to dig deeper into the nature of moral hazard and the restoration of a healthy financial system. Barney Frank and Chris Dodd are pushing to give regulators "resolution authority" for struggling firms. Under both of their bills, this would mean unlimited ability to spend unlimited taxpayer sums to prevent an unlimited universe of firms from failing.

Americans know that's not the answer, but what is the best solution to the too-big-to-fail problem? And how exactly does one measure systemic risk? To answer these questions, it's essential that we first learn the lessons of 2008. This is where reports like Mr. Barofsky's are valuable, telling us things that the government doesn't want us to know.

In remarks Tuesday that were interpreted as a veiled response to Mr. Barofsky's report, Mr. Geithner said, "It's a great strength of our country, that you're going to have the chance for a range of people to look back at every decision made in every stage in this crisis, and look at the quality of judgments made and evaluate them with the benefit of hindsight." He added, "Now, you're going to see a lot of conviction in this, a lot of strong views—a lot of it untainted by experience."

Mr. Geithner has a point about Monday-morning quarterbacking. He and others had to make difficult choices in the autumn of 2008 with incomplete information and often with little time to think, much less to reflect. But that was last year. The task now is to learn the lessons of that crisis and minimize the moral hazard so we can reduce the chances that the panic and bailout happen again.

This means a more complete explanation from Mr. Geithner of what really drove his decisions last year, how he now defines systemic risk, and why he wants unlimited power to bail out creditors—before Congress grants the executive branch unlimited resolution authority that could lead to bailouts ad infinitum.
30754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Rationing begins on: November 20, 2009, 07:09:44 AM

Guidelines Push Back Age for Cervical Cancer Tests

New guidelines for cervical cancer screening say women should
delay their first Pap test until age 21, and go for screening
less often than had been previously recommended.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/20/health/20pap.html?emc=na
30755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: November 20, 2009, 07:04:44 AM
Iraq - The United States' Other War
MOST NEWS IN THE UNITED STATES that touches the realm of foreign affairs these days focuses obsessively on what U.S. President Barack Obama is going to do about Afghanistan, but on Wednesday, there were a number of reminders that the war in Iraq remains unsettled. Elections that will be a critical test for the Iraqi government were once again thrown into question when the country’s Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi, vetoed an election law that was cobbled together and passed by the parliament. One major problem with the law, according to al-Hashemi, was that it didn’t provide enough seats in government for refugees who have fled Iraq — many if not most of whom are Sunnis.

The law will now return to the parliament, where members will attempt to hash out yet another compromise. Despite government assurances that elections will take place as scheduled on Jan. 21, it is increasingly likely that the vote will be delayed for several weeks, if not months. The problem is that no political reconciliation is going to be possible in the short term: Elections require an election law; an election law requires a power-sharing deal; and a power-sharing deal requires a belief by all parties that their interests can be served. Yet, the Iraqi parliament is a reflection of the ethnosectarian divisions that characterize the country — and it’s not just a three-way split between Sunnis, Shia and Kurds. There are also major disagreements within the three factions. Getting to the current political agreement was an enormous battle, and finding a way to get the parliament to satisfy Sunni demands undoubtedly will involve another long, drawn-out battle.

“The Iraqi parliament is a reflection of the ethnosectarian divisions that characterize the country — and it’s not just a three-way split between Sunnis, Shia and Kurds.”
Not only are the Sunnis uncomfortable with the agreement that has been hammered out, but it has become apparent that the Kurds of northern Iraq are also gathering steam to say that they aren’t getting the representation they want. With Sunnis and Kurds each in the minority, both groups have every incentive to use their considerable political leverage to cry foul on what they consider the tyranny of the majority Shiite coalition. In the meantime, the Iraqi election commission has said it is not making any preparations for the elections because it simply doesn’t know what the timeline will be.

The shaky political situation also impacts the U.S. military withdrawal effort. There have been signs that violence is on the upswing, and this renewed challenge to political stability – in the form of a law forged through arduous negotiation — is not a positive sign.

The U.S. surge in Iraq was not about using force to impose a military reality — it was about breaking the cycle of violence in order to set some foundations upon which political reconciliation might be built. Central to its success was the accommodation reached between U.S. forces in Anbar province and the Sunni tribal leaders – an accommodation that took place even before the surge began. Those Sunnis broke with al Qaeda and other foreign jihadist elements in the hopes of integrating into the country’s formal security forces and the federal political process. But the Shia in Baghdad have continued to drag their feet on a political solution, and there are signs that Sunni support for al Qaeda and the Baath party is resurging — no doubt partly as a result of the political turmoil.

Seeking to downplay concerns about the weakening political environment, the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, said Wednesday that a delay for elections would be no challenge to Obama’s promise to withdraw “most” troops from Iraq by Aug. 31, 2010, since the U.S. military can wait until spring to adjust and readjust as necessary. In making this statement, Odierno effectively told the Iraqi parliament that they have until spring to figure out some sort of political solution.

But it not clear that a political solution will be forthcoming, or when — and in the meantime, the security situation likely will get steadily worse. So far, the Sunni insurgency that prompted the U.S. surge has remained quiet; the Sunnis have waited to see if the political solution would work its magic. As the date for elections draws closer, however, the chance that this faction could revive its violent activities grows.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, Obama’s administration has set about putting the Iraq war behind it, while focusing on finding a solution to the war in Afghanistan. The ability to do so was based on the continued stability of Iraq, achieved through the surge. However, the sustainability of the gains from the surge in Iraq — in terms of political consolidation and breaking the cycle of violence — is fragile and questionable. Delays in these critical elections are a reminder that the situation is far from settled.
30756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: November 19, 2009, 11:50:22 PM
GM:  Sorry, I don't have it.
30757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Don't blame God for terrorism on: November 19, 2009, 11:49:12 PM
« Reply #2989 on: November 18, 2009, 11:19:25 AM »     

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2009/11/column-dont-blame-god-for-terrorism.html

Don't blame God for terrorism
After the Fort Hood massacre and others, some people — often atheist stalwarts — like to point at the corrosive influence of religion. But a closer look suggests that the most notorious killers usually act on secular motives.
By Dinesh D'Souza

Did Islam make him do it? While we don't really know the motivation for the Fort Hood massacre in Texas, we do know that the alleged perpetrator, Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, was a Muslim with connections to a radical Islamic cleric in Yemen. So once again we hear that Islam is the problem. Atheist commentators go even further, charging that religion motivates people to do terrible things in the name of God.

This critique of religion has an even more serious allegation. It is that religiously motivated fanatics cannot be deterred from their crimes because they commit them without regard to their own safety, in the hopes of becoming martyrs and going straight to heaven. Muslim terrorists, in particular, are believed to sign up for jihad in the expectation of gaining immediate entry into paradise and enjoying the company of nubile virgins there.

Plausible though this critique appears, it is seriously flawed. Hasan wasn't suicidal in the manner of the 9/11 attackers, although he obviously had to expect that he would be apprehended, injured or killed. Moreover, while Hasan was clearly influenced by the doctrines of radical Islam, his main motivation seems to have been both personal and political: He vigorously opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and didn't want to be deployed.


The real motives
But even in the case of Muslims who do go on suicide missions, from 9/11 to the London bombing to the Bali attacks and, most recently, the Mumbai massacre, the quest for heaven hardly seems to be the primary motive. Robert Pape's Dying to Win, a detailed study of suicide missions, concludes that these have nothing to do with promises of postmortem reward but rather are propelled by more mundane motives of revenge against enemies: They invaded our country, they stole our land, they raped my sister, and so on.

My own study of the rhetoric of the Islamic radicals shows that their exhortations make onlyperfunctory references to paradise, on the rare occasions when they mention the subject at all. The predominant theme in this literature is that "Islam is under attack" from the forces of global atheism and immorality, and that Muslims should fight back to protect their religion, their values and their way of life. So even in the special case of Osama bin Laden and his cohorts, the 72 virgins hypothesis could be flawed.

But the important point is that Islamic terrorism is a special case. Suicide terrorism in its origins has nothing to do with religion or the afterlife; its motives are secular. Consider the case of the Japanese kamikazes during World War II. They were not moved by the prospect of paradise but by fanatical loyalty to the emperor. So, too, the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka have been launching suicide attacks for decades not out of religious motives but in a desperate struggle over land and self-determination.

If religious beliefs in life after death are the source of terrorism, where are the Buddhist suicide bombers? Nor has anyone been able to identify the Christian bin Laden, the Christian equivalent of al-Qaeda or Hezbollah, or the Christian "nation of martyrs" patterned along the lines of post-Khomeini Iran. The vast majority of people in the world believe in God and the afterlife, yet hardly any of them launch suicide attacks in the hope of hastening their journey to heavenly bliss.

So the atheist attempt to indict religion for the crimes of the radical Muslims fails. But more than this: It boomerangs on the atheists. To see why, we must understand the charge as part of a larger critique. For two centuries, leading atheists have alleged that belief in the next world detracts from the pressing task of improving this one. The afterlife, in this view, is anti-life. This seems to be the impulse behind the harsh subtitle of Christopher Hitchens' God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Hitchens is far from the first to espouse this view.

Indeed, its most famous advocate was Karl Marx. In an 1844 manuscript, Marx wrote that "religion is the opiate of the people." He argued that religion is a kind of drug that turns people's attention away from the evils of the world and toward another world. Religion numbs man's awareness of social injustice. Consequently, religion must be eliminated as an enemy of the revolution for social justice. Marx concludes, "The overcoming of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness."

Atheism as state doctrine
Marx's call to eliminate the next world by establishing a communist utopia on this one was taken up with a vengeance by Lenin and a host of communist leaders who followed him. These despots established atheism as state doctrine in the Soviet Union, and other Marxist regimes around the world followed. In the past hundred years, these regimes, led by people such as Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Nicolae Ceausescu, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il and others, have murdered over 100 million people. Even bin Laden, in his wildest dreams, doesn't come close.

Atheist Richard Dawkins seeks to minimize the crimes of atheist regimes by arguing that "individual atheists may do evil things, but they don't do evil things in the name of atheism." Dawkins is a respected biologist but evidently knows no history. All he has to do is to crack open Marx's works to discover that atheism is not incidental to the communist scheme; it is absolutely central. The whole idea is to create a new man and a new utopia free of the shackles of traditional religion and traditional morality.

Whatever motivated Nidal Hasan to go on his shooting spree at Fort Hood, his actions are hardly an indictment of the belief in God or immortality. Indeed, such beliefs have proved far less dangerous to society than the attempts to establish the God-free utopia. If we need to watch out for heaven-seeking Muslims bent on killing innocent people and flying planes into buildings, we need to be just as vigilant against atheist fanatics who are willing to murder millions in order to establish their version of heaven down to earth.

30758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: November 19, 2009, 11:46:17 PM
She certainly has the right enemies, but I was deeply disappointed in her anti-market rabble rousing in the closing two months of the campaign.

Also, with the very meaning of America hanging in the balance, all she can think of is settling scores with the McCain team?
30759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: November 19, 2009, 10:27:52 PM
Re the Michael Scott suicide:  I saw a report that he was right-handed.   With the bullet entry being to the left side of the head, that might be one of those "loose ends" they are looking to wrap up , , , besides the implications of his RE purchases , , ,
30760  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Vid-clip of 9/20/09 DB Open Gathering on: November 19, 2009, 10:23:21 PM
Don't worry KD, your turn in the sun is coming  wink
30761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: November 19, 2009, 02:29:32 PM
A bit kitchy cute here and there, but some interesting factoids scattered along the way:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ILQrUrEWe8
30762  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Video clip, Dog Brothers open Gathering 2009 on: November 19, 2009, 01:02:54 PM
Cabe mencionar que Mauricio aparece de vez en cuando en el clip.
30763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: November 19, 2009, 11:47:58 AM
Alexander's Essay – November 19, 2009

The BIGGEST LIE Yet
"It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth -- and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts. ... For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it might cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it." --Patrick Henry
Sometimes the biggest lies come under cover of a truth.

Such was the case this week, when Barack Hussein Obama proffered this observation about deficits: "I think it is important, though, to recognize if we keep on adding to the debt, even in the midst of this recovery, that at some point, people could lose confidence in the U.S. economy in a way that could actually lead to a double-dip recession."

"Keep on adding to the debt"? From this, one might conclude that Obama has never suggested such a thing, and is truly concerned about deficits.

His revelation came amid discussion of tax reductions engineered to increase employment, as if our Constitution has a provision for that, anymore than for Obama's other proposals.

Obama is feigning concern about deficits now that there is discussion of tax cuts, which he concludes would increase deficits.

"At some point, people could lose confidence in the U.S. economy"? Like the Red Chinese, who hold more U.S. government debt than any other nation ($800 billion), and upon whom we are depending to fund more of our debt. No coincidence that Obama's remarks were made while on his most recent appeasement tour in Beijing.

"Even in the midst of this recovery"? What recovery?

Oh, the one that his $787 billion "hope-n-change" big-government payout package was supposed to ensure?

At the time of that proposal, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office offered this summary: "In the longer run, the [Obama] legislation would result in a slight decrease in gross domestic product compared with CBO's baseline economic forecast." Put another way, the CBO static scoring projected that Obama's big government pork giveaway would hinder economic recovery. Dynamic scoring by economists shows a much worse destiny.

But Obama warned, "If nothing is done, this recession might linger for years. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse."

Now, after a quick assessment of the Obama Recovery through October, one is stuck with the conclusion that his spending spree has resulted in 10.2 percent unemployment -- except, of course, in such places as Washington, DC, where government jobs are immune to recession.

That would be double-digit unemployment -- so now you know why Obama cleverly framed his recovery program in terms of jobs "created or saved." His administration announced that through October, the American Recovery Act had "created" or "saved" 640,329 jobs. However, a growing number of skeptics, even among his once-adoring media, found some very questionable accounting methods used to come up with that figure.

Asked about some of the discrepancies, Obama's Recovery Czar, Ed Pound, responded, "Who knows, man, who really knows?"

Recovery reality check: Remember when Obama claimed, "This is our moment, this is our time to turn the page on the policies of the past, to offer a new direction"?

That is a reference to Obama's v Reagan's policies, big government solutions v. free enterprise solutions.

Ronald Reagan's economic policies unleashed an unprecedented period of growth, which continued right up until the financial sector collapse in '08, a calamity resulting from policies implemented during the Clinton years, which undermined the values of derivatives used as collateral due. Those policies, as we now know, gave license for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to back high-risk loans to unqualified buyers, thereby setting the stage for the subprime mortgage meltdown and the crash of 2008.

Recall that in 2005, Sen. John McCain sponsored the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act, saying, "For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ... and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market. ... If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole."

McCain noted that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac regulators concluded that profits were "illusions deliberately and systematically created by the company's senior management."

McCain was right, but Democrats, including Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, ensured that nothing would be done to alter current practices at Fannie and Freddie. "These two entities ... are not facing any kind of financial crisis," Frank said at the time.

The net result of the derivative dilution was a crisis of confidence in the U.S. economy, second only to that which led to the Great Depression.

Remember when Obama claimed, "We are fundamentally transforming the United States of America"? Well, we're in mid-transformation, and how are things looking now?

Obama also said, "Generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was our time."

Indeed, his time to saddle them and their children with unprecedented debt, not only from his "stimulus" folly, but next up, ObamaCare, and then his job-killing cap-and-tax scheme.

If you think you can count on the administration's estimates of the true cost of ObamaCare, think again. The Washington Times recently reminded us of the estimated cost of Medicare shortly after Democrats implemented it in 1965. Then, it was predicted to cost $12 billion by 1990. In actuality, it cost $98 billion, which is to say the original estimate was short by more than a factor of seven.

In my home state of Tennessee, we've already been there and done that. Our state's version of ObamaCare, known as TennCare, implemented by Democrats in 1994 ostensibly to contain healthcare expenses, has quickly grown to consume more than a third of state revenues.

The CBO now says that the $1 trillion estimated cost of ObamaCare is "subject to substantial uncertainty." How's that for qualifying understatement?

As for the big picture, U.S. National Debt topped the $12 trillion mark this week, or approximately $39,000 for every man, woman and child in America, and the federal deficit that Obama now pretends to be concerned about hit a record high $1.42 trillion for fiscal year 2009.

Obama's administration projects that the national debt will top $14 trillion by this time next year, and my sense is that they're being modest. At the current pace, within 10 years our national debt will exceed our Gross Domestic Product.

Of these staggering debt figures, Obama now claims, "I intend to take serious steps to reduce America's long-term deficit because debt-driven growth cannot fuel America's long-term prosperity."

But, what's his real endgame?

We can be certain that Obama's solution to deficits will not be less government. Instead, it will be unprecedented tax increases, a.k.a., socialist redistribution of wealth, a.k.a., "the fundamental transformation of America."

The Tax Foundation now estimates that to offset deficits, "Federal income tax rates would have to be nearly tripled across the income spectrum," with the lowest bracket at 27 percent and the highest at 95. Even the CBO estimates that rates would have to exceed 80 percent, and that's before state and local taxes.

Do you get the picture, folks?

Obama will succeed in his effort to socialize the U.S. economy, using the tax code as his hammer and sickle, unless growing ranks of Americans object to the fact that he has no constitutional authority to do so.

In the meantime, Patriots, keep your powder dry.

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Publisher, PatriotPost.US

30764  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Leopard Seal on: November 19, 2009, 10:57:49 AM
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=f1b_1258416937
30765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington: on: November 19, 2009, 10:05:40 AM
"[T]he great Searcher of human hearts is my witness, that I have no wish, which aspires beyond the humble and happy lot of living and dying a private citizen on my own farm." --George Washington, letter to Charles Pettit, 1788
30766  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: November 19, 2009, 03:27:23 AM
Interesting theory Maxx.
30767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Former Islamo Fascists? on: November 19, 2009, 03:26:03 AM
Haven't read the whole thing yet, but the starting premise seems interesting:

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/renouncing-islamism-to-the-brink-and-back-again-1821215.html
30768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: November 18, 2009, 10:20:57 PM
The name Vincent Foster ring a bell?

Anyone have any intel on the recent strange suicide of Michael Scott in Chicago?  Apparently he was part of the BO circle and bought RE that would have been valuable had the Olympics chosen Chicago , , ,
30769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: November 18, 2009, 10:08:45 PM
"However, the downside of a strategy based entirely on fear is that even if it succeeds now, it won't help to define the proper terms for a genuine solution in the future. For that, Republicans have to offer a principled critique of ObamaCare that delineates the sharp moral choices that Americans face. The current health care battle is the domestic policy equivalent of the Cold War. Democrats are on the side of command-and-control mandates that deprive individuals of choice. Republicans should position themselves on the side of market-based solutions that empower--not enchain--patients."

EXACTLY SO.
30770  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: November 18, 2009, 09:24:18 PM
The mystery surrounding Brock Lesnar's illness has been cleared up a bit. The UFC heavyweight champion is suffering from a bacterial infection in his intestinal tract, though it looks like he may be released from the hospital soon.

"He's in stable condition and should be released soon," UFC president Dana White said.

White said he spoke with Lesnar on Monday, but he wouldn't reveal which hospital Lesnar was currently being treated at because he wanted to protect his privacy.

White also said he is encouraging Lesnar to check into the renowned Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for further treatment, but still doesn't know if Lesnar will fight again.

"It depends on how serious this is," White said.
30771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PatriotPost on: November 18, 2009, 03:54:27 PM
The Chronicle · Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Foundation
"The circumstances that endanger the safety of nations are infinite." --Alexander Hamilton


Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
Editorial Exegesis

"[Attorney General] Eric Holder's move to try the 9/11 masterminds in Manhattan makes it official: This administration has reverted to pre-9/11 'crime' fighting. Amid all the talk during the attorney general's surreal press conference of the 'crime' committed eight years ago, the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon wasn't even mentioned. Lest anyone forget, the military headquarters of the United States was attacked that day along with the Twin Towers. An entire wedge of the Ring was gutted when the Saudi hijackers slammed American Airlines Flight 77 into it. Nearly 200 military personnel were killed, along with the passengers and crew of the hijacked jet. The jet was a weapon used to attack the very center of our military. That was not a 'crime,' as some say. It was an act of war. And 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, along with the four other al-Qa'ida terrorist co-conspirators Holder wants to try, are no mere criminals. They are enemy combatants -- and should be treated as such. ... Holder clucked that the 'trials will be open to the public and the world.' And they will turn into circuses, playing right into the hands of the enemy. These trials will drag on for years, perhaps even decades, as defense lawyers file endless motions and appeals. Meanwhile, valuable intelligence about interrogation techniques and other methods we've used against al-Qa'ida will be revealed to the enemy during trial discovery. This move to a civilian court makes no sense at all, except viewed through a political prism. ... It will only remind people how much America has shrunk in the last nine months." --Investor's Business Daily

Insight
"The malice of the wicked is reinforced by the weakness of the virtuous" --British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

"We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst." --Irish novelist C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)

"If you are afraid to speak against tyranny, then you are already a slave." --author John "Birdman" Bryant (1943-2009)

"Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it." --American author Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Upright
"From indictment to trial, the civilian case against the 9/11 terrorists will be a years-long seminar, enabling al-Qaeda and its jihadist allies to learn much of what we know and, more important, the methods and sources by which we come to know it. But that is not the half of it. By moving the case to civilian court, the president and his attorney general have laid the groundwork for an unprecedented surrender of our national-defense secrets directly to our most committed enemies." --columnist Andrew McCarthy

"In the string of amazing decisions made during the first year of the Obama administration, nothing seems more like sheer insanity than the decision to try foreign terrorists, who have committed acts of war against the United States, in federal court, as if they were American citizens accused of crimes." --economist Thomas Sowell

"After 9/11, we fought back, hit hard, rolled up the Afghan camps; after the [Danish] cartoons, we weaseled and equivocated and appeased and signaled that we were willing to trade core western values for a quiet life. Watching the decadence and denial on display this last week, I think in years to come Fort Hood will be seen in a similar light. What happened is not a 'tragedy' but a national scandal, already fading from view." --columnist Mark Steyn

"President Obama traveled all the way to China to praise the free flow of information. It's the only safe place he could do so without getting heckled. With a straight face, Obama lauded political dissent and told Chinese students he welcomed unfettered criticism in America. Fierce opposition, he said, made him 'a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions that I don't want to hear.' How do you say 'You lie!' in Mandarin?" --columnist Michelle Malkin

"In the U.S., the call is for government control, through regulations, as opposed to ownership. Unfortunately, it matters little whether there is a Democratically or Republican-controlled Congress and White House; the march toward greater government control continues. It just happens at a quicker pace with Democrats in charge." --economist Walter E. Williams
30772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: November 18, 2009, 03:24:04 PM
Ahem , , ,
30773  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: November 18, 2009, 12:26:21 PM
Well, I saw it as a continuation of the conversation in the larger sense of things-- but you are right, there is some topic drift here cheesy
30774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT on: November 18, 2009, 08:22:31 AM
One of the notions that I have held throughout the War with Islamic Fascism is the importance of defining it as a matter of civilization vs barbarism.   Seen through this filter, the true turning point of Iraq was not only the Surge, but the fact that the excessess of AQ Iraq provoked a situation in which both Sunni and Shia Muslims were able to work with the Surge. 

Now that the Islamo Fascists of the Whackostans have frontally taken on the Pakistani State, we now "coincidentally" see the Pak State having at it with them on their home turf.

Of course our President now sees this as a moment to be shocked, absolutely shocked, that there is corruption in Afghanistan and apparently prepares the way to "Run Away!" -- just as he called for us to do in Iraq during the pivotal moments of decision making on the Surge.
==============================================

The Pakistani Army recently took control in Sararogha, a town in the South Waziristan region that militants had claimed as their capital.

By SABRINA TAVERNISE and ERIC SCHMITT
Published: November 17, 2009
SARAROGHA, Pakistan — This windswept, sand-colored town in the badlands of western Pakistan is empty now, cleared of the militants who once claimed it as their capital. But its main brick buildings, intact and thick with dust, tell not of an epic battle, but of sudden flight.

A month after the Pakistani military began its push into the Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan, militants appear to have been dispersed, not eliminated, with most simply fleeing. That recurring pattern illustrated the problems facing the Obama administration as it enters its final days of a decision on its strategy for Afghanistan.

Success in this region, in the remote mountains near the Afghan border, could have a direct bearing on how many more American troops are ultimately sent to Afghanistan, and how long they must stay.

Pakistan has shown increased willingness to tackle the problem, launching sweeping operations in the north and west of the country this year, but American officials are still urging it to do more, most recently in a letter from President Obama to Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, over the weekend.

On Tuesday, the military escorted journalists on a tour of the area, where it closely restricts access, showing piles of things they had seized, including weapons, bombs, photos and even a long, curly wig. “It all started from here,” said Brig. Muhammed Shafiq, the commander here. “This is the most important town in South Waziristan.”

But lasting success has been elusive, tempered by an agile enemy that has moved easily from one part of the tribal areas to the next — and even deeper into Pakistan — virtually every time it has been challenged.

American analysts expressed surprise at the relatively light fighting and light Pakistani Army casualties — seven soldiers in five days in Sararogha — supporting their suspicions that the Taliban fighters from the local Mehsud tribe and the foreign fighters who are their allies, including a large contingent of Uzbeks, have headed north or deeper into the mountains. In comparison, 51 Americans were killed in eight days of fighting in Falluja, Iraq, in 2004.

“That’s what bothers me,” an American intelligence officer said. “Where are they?”

The Pakistani military says it has learned from past failures in a region where it lost hundreds in fighting before. It spent weeks bombing the area before its 30,000 troops entered. It struck alliances with neighboring tribes.

But the pending campaign was no secret, allowing time for local people and militants to escape, similar to what happens during American operations in Afghanistan.

“They are fleeing in all directions,” said a senior Pakistani security official, who did not want to be identified while discussing national security issues. “The Uzbeks are fleeing to Afghanistan and the north, and the Mehsuds are fleeing to any possible place they can think of.”

But there was some fighting, as destruction in Sararogha’s market area shows, and the fact that the military now occupies the area is something of a success, analysts say. American officials have expressed measured praise for the Pakistani operation so far.

“The Pakistani Army has done pretty well, and they have learned lessons from the Swat campaign, including the use of close-air support from their fighter jets,” said a senior American intelligence official, referring to the army’s first offensive this spring.

But big questions remain: How long will the military be able to hold the territory? And once they leave, will the militants simply come back?

“Are they really winning the people — this is the big question,” said Talat Masood, a military analyst and former general in Islamabad, the capital. “They have weakened the Taliban tactically, but have they really won the area if the people are not with them?”

Winning them over will not be easy. Waziristan’s largely Pashtun population has been abandoned by the military in the past, including in 2005, when, after a peace deal, a military commander called Baitullah Mehsud, the head of the Taliban, a “soldier of peace.” People who are from this area are still deeply skeptical of the army’s intentions.

“People want to know: how serious is the military this time?” said a military official who asked not to be named in order not to undermine the official position publicly.

The military argues that it is, saying that it has lost 70 soldiers in this operation so far, on top of more than 1,000 killed in the last several years of conflict.

Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, principal spokesman for the Pakistan military, said that about 50 percent of the Mehsud territory is now under army control, including most major towns and roads, and that the military would soon begin to press into villages where militants were hiding.

Finding a reliable local partner will be difficult. The Taliban and Al Qaeda have ruled the impoverished area for so long that they have altered its social structure, killing hundreds of tribal elders and making it hard for the military to negotiate.

The alliances that the military has struck with neighboring tribal leaders, including Hafiz Gul Bahadur, may also prove problematic. The senior Pakistani security official said Mr. Bahadur was hosting the families of two top Pakistani Taliban leaders.

Some American officials also voiced concern that if and when the Pakistani Army crushes the Mehsuds, it will declare victory and cut more permanent peace deals with other Pakistani militant factions, rather than fighting and defeating them.

But the Pakistani military argues that as long as the other groups are not attacking the Pakistani Army or state, it would be foolish to draw them into the war, particularly because Pakistan is not confident the United States will be around much longer.

Mr. Masood explained the thinking: “You are 10,000 miles away and we are going to live with them, so how can we take on every crook who is hostile to you?”

And there is history to overcome. One Pakistani intelligence official pointed to the American abandonment of the region in 1989, after the Soviet Union left Afghanistan. “If they leave in haste, like they left in the past, we will be back to the bad old days,” the official said. “Our jihadis would head back to Afghanistan, reopen training camps, and it will be business as usual.”

Sabrina Tavernise reported from Sararogha, Pakistan, and Eric Schmitt from Washington. Ismail Khan contributed reporting from Peshawar, Pakistan.
30775  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: November 18, 2009, 07:48:25 AM
Hat tip for this to Rachel:
=====================

« Reply #72 on: Today at 07:36:59 AM »     

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

http://33bits.org/2009/05/13/your-morning-commute-is-unique-on-the-anonymity-of-homework-location-pairs/

Your Morning Commute is Unique: On the Anonymity of Home/Work Location Pairs

Philippe Golle and Kurt Partridge of PARC have a cute paper (pdf) on the anonymity of geo-location data. They analyze data from the U.S. Census and show that for the average person, knowing their approximate home and work locations — to a block level — identifies them uniquely.

Even if we look at the much coarser granularity of a census tract — tracts correspond roughly to ZIP codes; there are on average 1,500 people per census tract — for the average person, there are only around 20 other people who share the same home and work location. There’s more: 5% of people are uniquely identified by their home and work locations even if it is known only at the census tract level. One reason for this is that people who live and work in very different areas (say, different counties) are much more easily identifiable, as one might expect.

The paper is timely, because Location Based Services  are proliferating rapidly. To understand the privacy threats, we need to ask the two usual questions:

   1. who has access to anonymized location data?
   2. how can they get access to auxiliary data linking people to location pairs, which they can then use to carry out re-identification?

The authors don’t say much about these questions, but that’s probably because there are too many possibilities to list! In this post I will examine a few.

GPS navigation. This is the most obvious application that comes to mind, and probably the most privacy-sensitive: there have been many controversies around tracking of vehicle movements, such as NYC cab drivers threatening to strike. The privacy goal is to keep the location trail of the user/vehicle unknown even to the service provider — unlike in the context of social networks, people often don’t even trust the service provider. There are several papers on anonymizing GPS-related queries, but there doesn’t seem to be much you can do to hide the origin and destination except via charmingly unrealistic cryptographic protocols.

The accuracy of GPS is a few tens or few hundreds of feet, which is the same order of magnitude as a city block. So your daily commute is pretty much unique. If you took a (GPS-enabled) cab home from work at a certain time, there’s a good chance the trip can be tied to you. If you made a detour to stop somewhere, the location of your stop can probably be determined. This is true even if there is no record tying you to a specific vehicle.

ScreenshotLocation based social networking. Pretty soon, every smartphone will be capable of running applications that transmit location data to web services. Google Latitude and Loopt are two of the major players in this space, providing some very nifty social networking functionality on top of location awareness. It is quite tempting for service providers to outsource research/data-mining by sharing de-identified data. I don’t know if anything of the sort is being done yet, but I think it is clear that de-identification would offer very little privacy protection in this context. If a pair of locations is uniquely identifying, a trail is emphatically so.

The same threat also applies to data being subpoena’d, so data retention policies need to take into consideration the uselessness of anonymizing location data.

I don’t know if cellular carriers themselves collect a location trail from phones as a matter of course. Any idea?

Plain old web browsing. Every website worth the name identifies you with a cookie, whether you log in or not. So if you browse the web from a laptop or mobile phone from both home and work, your home and work IP addresses can be tied together based on the cookie. There are a number of free or paid databases for turning IP addresses into geographical locations. These are generally accurate up to the city level, but beyond that the accuracy is shaky.

A more accurate location fix can be obtained by IDing WiFi access points. This is a curious technological marvel that is not widely known. Skyhook, Inc. has spent years wardriving the country (and abroad) to map out the MAC addresses of wireless routers. Given the MAC address of an access point, their database can tell you where it is located. There are browser add-ons that query Skyhook’s database and determine the user’s current location. Note that you don’t have to be browsing wirelessly — all you need is at least one WiFi access point within range. This information can then be transmitted to websites which can provide location-based functionality; Opera, in particular, has teamed up with Skyhook and is “looking forward to a future where geolocation data is as assumed part of the browsing experience.” The protocol by which the browser communicates geolocation to the website is being standardized by the W3C.

The good news from the privacy standpoint is that the accurate geolocation technologies like the Skyhook plug-in (and a competing offering that is part of Google Gears) require user consent. However, I anticipate that once the plug-ins become common, websites will entice users to enable access by (correctly) pointing out that their location can only be determined to within a few hundred meters, and users will leave themselves vulnerable to inference attacks that make use of location pairs rather than individual locations.

Image metadata. An increasing number of cameras these days have (GPS-based) geotagging built-in and enabled by default. Even more awesome is the Eye-Fi card, which automatically uploads pictures you snap to Flickr (or any of dozens of other image sharing websites you can pick from) by connecting to available WiFi access points nearby. Some versions of the card do automatic geotagging in addition.

If you regularly post pseudonymously to (say) Flickr, then the geolocations of your pictures will probably reveal prominent clusters around the places you frequent, including your home and work. This can be combined with auxiliary data to tie the pictures to your identity.

Now let us turn to the other major question: what are the sources of auxiliary data that might link location pairs to identities? The easiest approach is probably to buy data from Acxiom, or another provider of direct-marketing address lists. Knowing approximate home and work locations, all that the attacker needs to do is to obtain data corresponding to both neighborhoods and do a “join,” i.e, find the (hopefully) unique common individual. This should be easy with Axciom, which lets you filter the list by  “DMA code, census tract, state, MSA code, congressional district, census block group, county, ZIP code, ZIP range, radius, multi-location radius, carrier route, CBSA (whatever that is), area code, and phone prefix.”

Google and Facebook also know my home and work addresses, because I gave them that information. I expect that other major social networking sites also have such information on tens of millions of users. When one of these sites is the adversary — such as when you’re trying to browse anonymously — the adversary already has access to the auxiliary data. Google’s power in this context is amplified by the fact that they own DoubleClick, which lets them tie together your browsing activity on any number of different websites that are tracked by DoubleClick cookies.

Finally, while I’ve talked about image data being the target of de-anonymization, it may equally well be used as the auxiliary information that links a location pair to an identity — a non-anonymous Flickr account with sufficiently many geotagged photos probably reveals an identifiable user’s home and work locations. (Some attack techniques that I describe on this blog, such as crawling image metadata from Flickr to reveal people’s home and work locations, are computationally expensive to carry out on a large scale but not algorithmically hard; such attacks, as can be expected, will rapidly become more feasible with time.)

devicesSummary. A number of devices in our daily lives transmit our physical location to service providers whom we don’t necessarily trust, and who keep might keep this data around or transmit it to third parties we don’t know about. The average user simply doesn’t have the patience to analyze and understand the privacy implications, making anonymity a misleadingly simple way to assuage their concerns. Unfortunately, anonymity breaks down very quickly when more than one location is associated with a person, as is usually the case.
30776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson on: November 18, 2009, 07:44:23 AM
"Adore God. Reverence and cherish your parents. Love your neighbor as yourself, and your country more than yourself. Be just. Be true. Murmur not at the ways of Providence. So shall the life into which you have entered be the portal to one of eternal and ineffable bliss." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Jefferson Smith, 1825
30777  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA DVD: "The Bolo Game" on: November 18, 2009, 07:37:34 AM
Night Owl is finalizing the edit and working on the promo clip!
30778  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Vid-clip of 9/20/09 DB Open Gathering on: November 18, 2009, 07:36:21 AM
Dog Dan:  I'll tell you about Tennessee and Boo Dogs when you come down next week , , , and yes that is a very nice Brondo Buzzsaw in there (folks, Dog Dan was the first to uncork the BB in action-- as can be seen in the Nat Geo documentary).  Does anyone know who that is doing it?

As always, primo work from Night Owl.

I love the knifework by Linda "Bitch" Matsumi.

Also, I have a sense of deep satisfaction that my years of pushing for IFWA (in fight weapon access) have finally taken root. 
30779  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Vid-clip of 9/20/09 DB Open Gathering on: November 17, 2009, 04:17:17 PM


Vid-clip of 9/20/09 DB Open Gathering
30780  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Vid-clip!!! on: November 17, 2009, 04:16:45 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVhZBDgcUxQ
30781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / McDonald vs. Chicago-2 on: November 17, 2009, 03:42:30 PM
BBG:

This is quite remarkable.  I hope you will continue to monitor this case and its issues and share here.

Thank you.
30782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: Shocking! Inspectors fear Iran is hiding plants on: November 17, 2009, 11:45:25 AM
second post

Inspectors Fear Iran Is Hiding Nuclear Plants
DAVID E. SANGER and WILLIAM J. BROAD
Published: November 16, 2009
WASHINGTON — International inspectors who gained access to Iran’s newly revealed underground nuclear enrichment plant voiced strong suspicions in a report on Monday that the country was concealing other atomic facilities.


In a September 2007 photo, antiaircraft guns are seen, left center, at Iran's main plant for nuclear enrichment in Natanz.


The report was the first independent account of what was contained in the once secret plant, tunneled into the side of a mountain, and came as the Obama administration was expressing growing impatience with Iran’s slow response in nuclear negotiations.

In unusually tough language, the International Atomic Energy Agency appeared highly skeptical that Iran would have built the enrichment plant without also constructing a variety of other facilities that would give it an alternative way to produce nuclear fuel if its main centers were bombed. So far, Iran has denied that it built other hidden sites in addition to the one deep underground on a military base about 12 miles north of the holy city of Qum. The inspectors were given access to the plant late last month and reported that they had found it in “an advanced state” of construction, but that no centrifuges — the fast-spinning machines needed to make nuclear fuel — had yet been installed.

The inspectors said Iran had “provided access to all areas of the facility” and planned to complete it by 2011. They also said they had been unable to interview its director and designers.

The inspectors confirmed American and European intelligence reports that the site had been built to house about 3,000 centrifuges, enough to produce enough material for one or two nuclear weapons a year. But that is too small to be useful in the production of fuel for civilian nuclear power, which is what Iran insists is the intended purpose of the site.

The plant’s existence was revealed in September, as many as seven years after construction had begun.

The report comes just two days after President Obama, on a trip to Asia, said “we are running out of time” for Iran to sign on to a deal to ship part of its nuclear fuel out of the country. He said he would begin to plan for far more stringent economic sanctions against Tehran.

He was joined during that announcement by President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia, but Mr. Medvedev was vague about whether Russia was prepared to join in those sanctions. Mr. Obama was expected to take up the issue on Tuesday with President Hu Jintao of China, where Mr. Obama is on a state visit. China, like Russia, has historically resisted sanctions on Iran.

In its report, the agency said that Iran’s belated “declaration of the new facility reduces the level of confidence in the absence of other nuclear facilities under construction, and gives rise to questions about whether there were any other nuclear facilities in Iran which had not been declared to the agency.”

Ian C. Kelly, a spokesman for the State Department, said the report “underscores that Iran still refuses to comply fully with its international nuclear obligations.”

Both International Atomic Energy Agency officials and American and European diplomats and nuclear experts have argued that the existence of the hidden facility at Qum would make little sense unless there was a network of related covert facilities to feed it with raw nuclear fuel.

Iran denied that it had any other facilities it had failed to report to the agency. But in a letter to the nuclear inspectors, parts of which the report quoted, Iranian officials said they had been motivated to build the underground plant by “the threats of military attacks against Iran,” a reference to the belief that Israel, the United States or other Western powers might take military action against its main uranium enrichment plant at Natanz.

“The Natanz enrichment plant was among the targets threatened with military attacks,” the Iranian letter, dated Oct. 28, argued. It said that, as a result, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization went to a little-known military authority identified as the “Passive Defense Organization” and asked for a “contingency enrichment plant.”

The mountainous site was turned over to the nuclear authorities, they said, “in the second half of 2007,” or roughly two years before Iran made its existence known. The Obama administration has said that Iran made the news public only after it had determined that the secrecy around the facility was pierced.

The date of late 2007 is significant because earlier that year Iran had unilaterally renounced an agreement it had signed with the agency to report on any planned nuclear facilities. The agency says that, in the case of Qum, Iran has violated that agreement, which the agency contends is still in force.

In fact, it appears that the construction of the underground plant began years earlier, and the inspectors’ report noted that satellite imagery shows that tunneling work began “between 2002 and 2004,” or shortly after the revelations about the existence of Natanz, which was also built underground. That construction paused in 2004, after the Iraq war began, the report indicated, but was “resumed in 2006.”

Why Iran then resumed the construction work is unclear. But in 2006, the Bush administration indicated a greater willingness to negotiate with Iran if it first complied with three United Nations Security Council resolutions to halt enrichment activity at Natanz. Iran refused, and Monday’s report indicated it now produced about 3,900 pounds of low-enriched uranium, enough for one to two weapons if it was further enriched.

Iran does not appear to be producing fuel as quickly as it could, and there are reports that it has run into technical difficulties.

But the fact that it is continuing to add to its stockpile has, in the words of one Obama administration official, “made us increasingly less interested” in the deal to ship part of Iran’s fuel out of the country temporarily, for processing into a form that could be used in a medical reactor in Tehran. The more uranium Iran produces, the official said, the less time it would take the country to replenish enough of its supplies to build a weapon, if it decided to take that step.

Because Iran continued to produce fuel despite the United Nations resolutions, President George W. Bush also authorized a covert program, focused on the Natanz site, that was intended to disrupt its enrichment activity, by attacking both the computer and electrical infrastructure around the plant.

It is not clear that any of those actions have proven successful. But the construction of an alternative plant, protected by the adjacent Iranian Revolutionary Guards base, appeared to some Western nuclear experts to constitute an Iranian effort to have a backup plan in case it lost use of the Natanz facility.

David E. Sanger reported from Washington, and William J. Broad from New York.
30783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Montgomery Estate on: November 17, 2009, 11:40:46 AM
A Revolutionary War Widow's Estate Becomes a Preservation Battleground

Robert Stolarik for The New York Times
Montgomery Place, a house and a 434-acre estate held by one family for
generations, is now owned by Historic Hudson Valley, a nonprofit group.

By STEPHANIE STROM

Published: November 16, 2009
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. - In the mid-1980s J. Dennis Delafield and his
cousins faced a hard fact: They could no longer afford to maintain the
estate established in 1802 by their distant ancestor, Janet Livingston
Montgomery, widow of Gen. Richard Montgomery, a hero of the Revolutionary
War.


A view of the Hudson and the Catskills from Montgomery Place, an estate
established by Janet Livingston Montgomery in 1802.

"It was eating us up alive," Mr. Delafield said of Montgomery Place, a
majestic house overlooking the Hudson River that is but one small part of
the 434-acre property here. "We had to let it go, though it broke our
hearts."

They decided to turn the house and its grounds, with working orchards and
more than a dozen outbuildings, into a museum. So they sold it to what is
now Historic Hudson Valley, a nonprofit group founded by John D. Rockefeller
Jr. that owns Washington Irving's house, Sunnyside, in Tarrytown, N.Y., and
several other properties.

"We made a bargain sale in the belief that that way the house would be
protected," Mr. Delafield said.

Now, though, Mr. Delafield and others are worried about the fate of
Montgomery Place. The house was closed to the public in 2006 - though the
grounds were available for weddings, photo shoots and other events - until
August, when it was hastily reopened for four hours on Fridays after a state
official began inquiring about its status. Under the terms of a state
financing package, the house must be open at least 12 days a year.

Rumors have run rampant this fall that Historic Hudson Valley plans to sell
the house, vexing public officials who have sought definitive information
from the group's leader, Waddell W. Stillman. "I've dealt with him on a
number of occasions, and I've never felt we always got the full story," said
Marcus J. Molinaro, the New York state assemblyman who represents the area.

In a recent interview at Montgomery Place, Mr. Stillman denied that the
organization's board planned to sell all or any part of the property. "We
have not discussed a sale," he said.

However, minutes of board meetings obtained by The New York Times make it
clear that the board discussed just that on several occasions. "Mr. Herbert
E. Nass asked whether we could sell Montgomery Place in parts, and whether
doing so could yield a better price over time," the minutes of a March 10
meeting state.

At the same meeting the board chairman, Michael Hegarty, raised concerns
about rebuilding the organization's endowment, which like many others was
hard hit by the economic downturn. "To do this, Mr. Hegarty believes we must
consider the sale of assets, such as the president's house adjacent to the
Philipsburg Manor" - another of the organization's historic houses - "and
some or perhaps all of the property at Montgomery Place," the minutes say.

The board even formed a committee to explore "existing conditions and
constraints" at Montgomery Place; at a June meeting its members described
several potential buyers, according to notes by board members.

Asked about the discrepancy, Mr. Stillman said the minutes represented "old
news." "The board's March meeting coincided exactly with the nadir in the
financial markets," he wrote in an e-mail message. "Everyone was distressed
about the decline in our endowment, and economic prospects were grim. A
wide-ranging discussion ensued about the sale of assets, including
Montgomery Place, and nothing was decided or acted upon, then or since."

"The topic is no longer on the board's agenda," he wrote.

A draft resolution to offer to sell some of the land to a state agency that
holds an easement on part of the estate had been floated for consideration
at a meeting on Wednesday.

Mr. Stillman said the resolution had not been considered by or proposed to
the board and would not be taken up on Wednesday. He also said the reopening
of the house on Fridays was unrelated to the state official's inquiries.

Mr. Stillman, who joined Historic Hudson Valley in 1992, said his group
could not afford the $500,000 in annual operating costs for Montgomery
Place, let alone pay for necessary renovations. Nor would it be possible to
reopen the house next year, as originally planned, he said. Indeed, he said,
the decision to buy the house in the first place had been a bad one. "We
broke some of the textbook rules for not getting ahead of yourself," he
said. "We didn't have the money to buy it, we didn't have the money to
maintain it, and we way underestimated how much it would take to restore
 it."

==============

Page 2 of 2)



But several former board members, led by the Wall Street financier Richard
Jenrette, said they had proposed ways to support Montgomery Place, including
offers to help Historic Hudson Valley cover some costs.


Because of its continuous ownership by descendants of Mrs. Montgomery,
Montgomery Place is a rare example of an intact Hudson Valley estate.
Alexander Jackson Davis, the influential 19th-century architect who designed
many of the area's prominent houses, redesigned Montgomery and designed
several other structures on the property. The landscape architect Andrew
Jackson Downing provided advice on the design of the grounds and designed
one garden himself.

The house plays an important role in the community, too, Mr. Molinaro said,
attracting tourists and helping to educate students in the area's history.

Mr. Jenrette has proposed that Historic Hudson Valley donate the property to
the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust, a foundation to which he
has donated six historic houses. He and others have offered to create a
friends group to raise money to support Montgomery Place. Most recently, he
and John S. Dyson, another former board member and a venture capitalist,
offered to put up $100,000 a year for five years to keep it open. "We think
we can get at least another $100,000 to match that, and if we could create a
friends group, we could raise a lot more money," Mr. Jenrette said.

In a meeting earlier this month, however, Mr. Stillman and Mr. Hegarty
rejected that offer. Mr. Stillman said in the interview that he did not want
to create another nonprofit group that would do the same thing as Historic
Hudson Valley.

In addition to owning three other historic houses and a church in the
region, Historic Hudson Valley recently broke ground on a regional history
center in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., on nine acres donated by Laurance
Rockefeller.

The center will provide offices for the organization, as well as space for
scholars and researchers seeking access to its extensive archives and
records.

Mr. Stillman envisions creating a digital archive of the contents of
Historic Hudson Valley's houses to provide virtual tours and other
activities to attract a new breed of tourists.

Although the group does not yet have the $15 million it needs to build the
center, it began construction last month because it would otherwise lose a
$6 million grant from a state financing agency.

In their meetings, according to the minutes obtained by The Times, Historic
Hudson Valley board members discussed their concerns that public officials
and others would assume they were using proceeds from the sale of Montgomery
Place to finance the construction of the center.

"They will deny that, but money is fungible," said John H. Dobkin, a
preservation expert who was the organization's executive director from 1984
to 2000. "They'll say it's to replenish the endowment, but you don't sell a
unique asset like Montgomery Place to do that."

As chairman of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, Mr.
Stillman put through a plan ending that organization's membership structure,
selling its historic home and handing over its archives to the New York
Public Library, keeping only a digitized version of them. "Historic house
museums are in the same place as classical music orchestras," he said.

Historic Hudson Valley's endowment fell to $45 million last spring from
about $70 million and now stands at roughly $49 million, according to Rob
Schweitzer, spokesman for the organization.

By the standards of organizations supporting historic homes, that is a
handsome sum even at its depleted level. The Classical American Homes trust,
for example, operates six houses with $9 million in liquid assets.

"There's a pact between nonprofits and the people because we extend to them
certain tax benefits and, in the case of Historic Hudson Valley, millions of
dollars in public grants," Mr. Molinaro, the assemblyman, said.

"If they have a desire to divest of this asset, they certainly shouldn't
benefit financially from all that public investment."
30784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: November 17, 2009, 10:14:25 AM
"This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest of ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties." --John Jay, Federalist No. 2
30785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Malkin: Shamnesty on: November 17, 2009, 09:10:46 AM
Obama’s shamnesty distraction
By Michelle Malkin  •  April 9, 2009 12:13 AM I’m not sure why Drudge is hyping the New York Times’ stenography piece on Obama’s plans to carry through on his promise to pitch a shamnesty bill. It’s not news. It’s a White House-planted distraction sourced mainly to La Raza/The Race lobbyist-turned-White House open borders czar Cecilia Munoz.

I pointed a few weeks ago to Obama’s meeting with Latino groups pushing for faster action on paving the pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal aliens. You know that the DREAM Act has been reintroduced in Congress. You know about the Obama Census plan to Leave No Illegal Alien Behind. And you know that Nancy Pelosi has been banging the “stop the unpatriotic raids” drum.

You also know that there is already a de facto shamnesty plan already in place — overseen by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, who is eroding interior immigration enforcement. A West Coast source tells me that customs and border patrol agents have been ordered not to confiscate Washington state IDs from illegal aliens. ICE agents are feeling pressure to curtail workplace investigations. And illegal alien deportation fugitive Zeituni Onyango, aunt of the president, is going nowhere.

What is more newsworthy is the rising tide of voices standing up against lax immigration enforcement and its costs.

It’s not just conservative immigration enforcement activists.

It’s politicians who have to answer to their law-abiding constituents demanding to know why scarce resources should be allocated to illegal aliens over citizens. Like the five Democrats in Colorado who helped kill the state version of the DREAM Act. And the local health officials in northern California who are finally ending taxpayer subsidies for non-emergency illegal alien care.

It’s citizens who have suffered the loss of loved ones as a result of bloody sanctuary policies. Like Ray Tranchant, who testified on Capitol Hill last week on how failure of local and federal immigration officials to cooperate contributed to the death of his daughter and her best friend at the hands of a revolving door illegal alien drunk driver. Or like Daniella Bologna, who filed suit against the open-borders government of San Francisco on Tuesday:

The family of a father and his two sons who were gunned down last year have filed a lawsuit against the city of San Francisco, claiming its sanctuary policy contributed to their deaths.
Anthony Bologna, 48, and his sons Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16, were gunned down in the Excelsior District on June 16 after possibly being mistaken for rival gang members, according to police.

Edwin Ramos, 22, a suspected member of the MS-13 gang, has been charged with their murders.

The Bologna family lawsuit alleges that the city’s sanctuary policy shielding illegal immigrants – even those charged with a crime – allowed Ramos to stay in this country illegally. Ramos had a history of violence and several prior contacts with San Francisco police as a minor. But city policy prevented officers from turning him over to federal immigration authorities for deportation.

“What we’re saying is that the city adopted and enforced a policy that was actually inconsistent with and prohibited by federal law,” Michael Kelly, an attorney for the Bologna family, said Tuesday.
Since the last immigration battle, more and more citizens and local and state officials have begun to recognize the ravages of lax enforcement. When Obama moves forward with his official shamnesty legislation, he better be prepared. We’ve been there. Done that. And the White House should know that we are ready to stop the Open-Borders Express again.

Stick that on your front page, Fishwrap of Record.
30786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia's pivot? on: November 17, 2009, 12:07:39 AM
The Russian Pivot in the Iranian Nuclear Issue
FROM A CRITICAL MEETING between U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev, to an escalating proxy battle between Iran and Saudi Arabia on the Saudi-Yemeni border, this was a loaded weekend by STRATFOR’s geopolitical standards.

We’ll begin with the pivot of this story: U.S.-Russian relations. Obama and Medvedev sat down in Singapore for their fourth one-on-one meeting, seeking an understanding on issues deemed vital to their national security interests. The Russians, in a nutshell, want the Americans to keep out of the former Soviet periphery, which Moscow sees as its proper sphere of influence. But Moscow now has an additional favor to ask of the West.

Fundamental shifts are taking place in the Kremlin that have revealed Russia’s desire for Western investment in strategic economic sectors. A number of European and U.S. investors eagerly await Washington’s cue to re-enter the Russian market, but Washington first has to determine the geopolitical price Russia is willing to pay for this investment.

“There are a lot of moving parts to this conflict, but all appear to pivot on what actually transpires between the United States and Russia.”
A big portion of the cost will be tied to Iran. If the United States can coax Russia into abandoning support for Tehran, the Obama administration will gain valuable room to maneuver with the Israelis, and the door will open for a wider understanding between Moscow and Washington. Of course, any potential U.S.-Russia understanding will be loaded with sticking points. Medvedev has hinted at possible cooperation against Iran — saying Russia was open to exploring stronger options in dealing with Tehran, including further sanctions. But there is still much more to be discussed, and we see no clear sign that Russia is willing to fundamentally shift its position on Iran just yet.

Still, Iran has plenty to be worried about. Tehran and Moscow are perfectly capable of having a constructive relationship so long as they both face a greater threat (in this case, the United States). Should Russia and the United States come to terms, however, the strategic underpinnings of the Russian-Iranian alliance would collapse and Iran’s vulnerability would soar. With Iran’s anxiety over a Russian betrayal rising, high-level officials in Tehran are adopting a more aggressive tone against Russia.

For instance, the Joint Armed Forces chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi and the head of the parliament’s Foreign Policy and National Security Commission, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, have lambasted Russia in the past week for failing to supply Iran with the promised S-300 strategic air defense system. Boroujerdi even issued a veiled threat against Russia when he said, “Iran is not a country which would stop short of action in dealing with countries who fail to deliver on their promises.” It remains unclear to us what Iran actually could do to legitimately threaten Russian security and to sabotage a potential U.S.-Russian understanding, but the shift in tone is unmistakable.

Meanwhile, the Iranians hope to distract U.S. attention from Russia with a proxy war in the border region between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is exploiting an internal Yemeni conflict by supporting Shiite al-Houthi rebels, seeking to undermine neighboring Saudi Arabia’s security. In a sign that Iran is attempting to escalate tensions with the United States, Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani on Sunday accused Washington of supporting Saudi air strikes targeting the al-Houthi rebels. But Washington is taking great care to avoid acknowledging its role in this proxy battle (a role that so far involves advising the Saudi and Yemeni militaries and supplying satellite imagery of al-Houthi targets for air strikes). The Obama administration would prefer to avoid getting drawn into a crisis with Iran and would rather give the impression that the nuclear negotiations with Tehran are continuing, while it tries to reach a compromise with Russia.

The Israelis don’t appear to be completely on board with this U.S. plan. On the one hand, Israel has a common strategic interest with the United States in keeping as much distance as possible between Russia and Iran. On the other hand, Israel doesn’t want a U.S.-Russian understanding on Iran to defuse the nuclear crisis so long as Israel’s national security is not genuinely preserved. If Washington manages to secure Russian cooperation against Iran, the Obama administration would gain time and space to talk Israel down from taking more aggressive action against Iran. Israel is operating on a different timeline: It wants to lock Washington into a situation that requires more decisive U.S. action against Iran, whether that means stringent sanctions or potential military strikes.

A report by Israel Radio this weekend appears to support this hypothesis. The report quoted an unnamed Western official as saying that Iran has completely rejected a U.N.-brokered nuclear proposal, but that Obama has postponed an official announcement on the failure of the talks for internal political reasons. To the contrary, Iran has been playing a careful game with the nuclear proposal — protesting the offer publicly but also hinting at the regime’s acceptance of the deal — in order to add confusion to the negotiations and drag out the talks. Neither the United States nor Iran has confirmed or denied the Israel Radio report, which leads us to believe this is Israel’s way of trying to wrap up (what the Israelis view as) the aimless diplomatic phase of the negotiations and push the United States into more aggressive action against Iran.

There are a lot of moving parts to this conflict, but all appear to pivot on what actually transpires between the United States and Russia. The Obama-Medvedev meeting revealed a change in atmospherics toward Iran, but we — like the Iranians — are watching for signs of a real shift in Russian policy.
30787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism: on: November 16, 2009, 10:20:20 PM
http://michellemalkin.com/2009/11/16/far-lefts-answer-goons-attack-foes-of-illegal-immigration/

30788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: November 16, 2009, 09:46:00 PM
Actually Volcker has said that he was used for his credibility and that none of the BO people listen to him.  Complete agreement on the risk and severity of a dollar crisis.
30789  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: November 16, 2009, 06:00:35 PM
"Sorry G. Crafty, but lawyers and lobbyists "

 huh
30790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: November 16, 2009, 05:33:46 PM
As far as cost benefit analysis goes GM how does one value the cost to freedom of continuously being under scrutiny?  Or is the cost of which you speak merely that of the technology itself-- which in that the cost of a given level of technology tends to decline rapidly over time, tends to mean no protection at all.

You're a bright guy and you do a good job of building seamless webs of logic, but on this one there is something here that cannot be evaded or avoided.
30791  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: November 16, 2009, 05:26:14 PM
second post:

Am I the only one repulsed by the "you pussy" pressures being brought to bear on the fighter concerned about having taken some brain damage?

Also, pretty excremental level of conditioning-- particularly this far into the seaon.

Go Big Baby!

Go Kimbo!
30792  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Lesnar ill on: November 16, 2009, 05:24:19 PM
UFC Heavyweight Champ Brock Lesnar Facing Serious Health Crisis

Posted Nov 14, 2009 8:35PM By Michael David Smith (RSS feed)





Shortly after Saturday's UFC 105 card in Manchester, England, concluded, UFC
President Dana White revealed that his promotion's heavyweight champion, Brock
Lesnar, is suffering from serious health problems and will not be able to
fight any time soon.



 tweetmeme_source = 'FanHouse';


"He's in rough shape, he's in really bad shape," White said, according to the
Canadian Press. "He is not well and he is not getting any better. ... He's
very, very sick and he's going to be out for a while. He's got a lot of
problems. ... He's got mono and he's got something else wrong with him.
I know what's wrong with him, he just doesn't want me talking about it."

White didn't say exactly what is wrong with Lesnar, although he did specify
that it is not cancer or AIDS. The UFC had previously said Lesnar was
suffering from mononucleosis, but his illness is apparently more serious than
that.

Lesnar had been scheduled to defend his title against Shane Carwin on Nov. 21.
When he first started to feel sick, the UFC tentatively re-scheduled the
Carwin bout for Jan. 2. But it will likely be long after Jan. 2 before Lesnar,
who won the undisputed heavyweight title by defeating Frank Mir at UFC 100, is
ready to fight again.

White made room for the possibility of putting together a fight for an interim
heavyweight title while Lesnar is sidelined, although it's not clear who would
participate in that fight. Carwin is reportedly sidelined with a knee injury,
while another top UFC heavyweight, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, is reportedly
battling a staph infection.

The Lesnar illness is the worst piece of news yet in an autumn that has been
full of bad news for the UFC. Champions Lyoto Machida, Anderson Silva and
Georges St. Pierre have all battled injuries, and one of the promotion's most
marketable stars, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, says he is quitting the UFC to
pursue an acting career. Even on a day when it had a successful show in
England, the UFC is going through a rough patch.
30793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: November 16, 2009, 12:06:16 PM
Is there or is there not a slippery slope that ends with us like the UK, being surveilled by the state wherever we go?
30794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bushehr on: November 16, 2009, 10:49:38 AM
Russia has always followed its interests in the building of the Iranian Bushehr power plant and it will never complete the project, said a parliamentary spokesman, DPA reported Nov. 16. Moscow has used the project as a tool in its dealings with the West, and Tehran will have to complete the plant itself, he said.
30795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Taliban targetting ISI on: November 16, 2009, 10:48:29 AM
Pakistan: The Taliban Strategy Behind Targeting the ISI
Stratfor Today » November 13, 2009 | 2252 GMT


An injured Pakistani man after the Nov. 13 Inter-Services Intelligence building bombing in PeshawarSummary
The Taliban’s suicide-bombing attack on the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate’s headquarters in Peshawar Nov. 13 was intended to send a clear message: that a government offensive against the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in South Waziristan is having little effect on the TTP’s ability to wage war. For now, even if the TTP is limited to operating only within the North-West Frontier Province, the group continues to have the upper hand in the insurgency.

Analysis

The vehicle-borne suicide bombing of the headquarters of Pakistan’s premier spy service in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) Nov. 13 killed relatively few people (16 at last count). However, the blast was so powerful that a significant portion of the provincial headquarters of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate in Peshawar was demolished. This is the second time an ISI provincial headquarters has been targeted by Taliban rebels since the much larger May 27 attack on the intelligence agency’s Punjab headquarters in Lahore.

The Nov. 13 attack was against a major ISI facility focused on fighting the jihadist insurgency in the region at a time when Pakistani troops are trying to dismantle the headquarters of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in South Waziristan. The attack is intended to send a clear message: that the government offensive is not having much of an effect on the TTP’s ability to operate. There is also much PR mileage to be gained from striking a facility of the country’s most powerful security organization. Yet another message the jihadists are trying to send — this time to an already rattled Pakistani public — is that the state is unable to protect itself, let alone its citizens.

But a careful examination of the series of Taliban attacks since the beginning of the ground offensive in South Waziristan on Oct. 17 shows that the TTP has not been able to pull off any major attacks beyond the NWFP. The last major attack was on Oct. 10, when militants were able to penetrate the main headquarters of the military in Rawalpindi (the twin city of the capital, Islamabad) and take control of the Military Intelligence directorate building along with 30 hostages. Since then, however, the attacks that have taken place in Lahore and Islamabad have proved to be relatively small-scale strikes.

For the time being, law enforcement and intelligence operations in Punjab and Karachi, coupled with the offensive in South Waziristan and operations elsewhere in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, appear to have limited the effective radius of TTP attacks to the NWFP. And there has been a sustained focus on Peshawar, with several large-scale bombings in the NWFP provincial capital. There have also been attacks that have targeted civilians, for which TTP and al Qaeda leaders have denied responsibility. One of these attacks, on Oct. 28, killed more than150 people — mostly women and children.

In fact, TTP chief Hakeemullah Mehsud and al Qaeda prime leader for Afghanistan/Pakistan, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, have said the bombings targeting civilians were the work of the U.S. private security contractor Blackwater (which has been renamed Xe). By accusing the security firm, the jihadists are trying to exploit perceptions in Pakistan that the firm is engaged in suspicious activity in the country and may be trying to destabilize it or even remove or dismantle its nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, attacking the ISI headquarters in Peshawar is a way for the TTP to conduct damage control in the wake of the civilian bombings. Even if the TTP is limited, at least for now, to a meaningful striking capability only within NWFP, the group continues to have the upper hand in the insurgency. The question is whether the government’s Waziristan offensive can put a significant dent in its overall war-making capability.
30796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: November 16, 2009, 10:44:59 AM
Do you think the court decided correctly in Kyllo?

As for your mockery of "Oh my god, the police have a camera!"-- yes you bring lucid rejoinders, but IMHO we also need to address the profound implications of CAMERAS EVERYWHERE, RECORDING MOST EVERYTHING.
30797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michael Yon on: November 16, 2009, 10:16:14 AM
Hostages
  Next Article > 

Michael Yon
16 November 2009

When New York Times journalist David Rohde was kidnapped last year in Afghanistan, the company engaged in a painstaking effort to squash the story. They succeeded in persuading major media who learned of the kidnapping to keep quiet. The cover-up was so good that a New York Times reporter I spoke with in December 2008, while she and I joined Secretary Gates on a trip through Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq and back to the United States, had not heard about the David Rohde kidnapping.

The New York Times openly agrees that publishing such articles increases the peril to the lives of hostages, yet it published details about a British couple being held hostage in Somalia, and thus increased the value of the hostages to the kidnappers.

Some months after Mr. Rohde’s kidnapping started leaking, I published a generic blurb about the case, but made sure none of the information was new.

I knew more than was included in the vignette, but chose not to release it. I did not share what sources had told me: that Taliban members were being paid large sums of money (and that money was being wasted) and that some of the efforts flowed through Dubai. I have not published any other additional information from sources. Shortly after publication, March 13, 2009, I received an e-mail that included this request from a person close to Rohde:

“The NYT has asked for a news blackout while they do what they can for David Rohde's release. All the wires and the big papers are following it. Therefore, while I'm sure you don't mean any harm, I'm not sure your post about him is helpful.”

The person who e-mailed was not from the New York Times.  I removed the blub I had posted to my site. Though no new information was released, I had offered the kidnappers more coverage.

Sources continued sending reports about attempts to repatriate Rohde. I had not sought out this information. It had fallen as it usually does, like rain.

After Rohde returned to the United States and details became public, the Washington Post and others contacted me about my decisions to publish and then remove the vignette. My thoughts were that if the words risked the life of Mr. Rohde, they should not be publicized.

While reading the New York Times’ article about the British couple, I became upset, and wondered why they would implement a black-out for one hostage, but not another.

I shifted my Blackberry over to Twitter and punched out some blurbs, one of which said the following:

“Numerous very well placed sources have told me New York Times/associates paid millions to get Rohde release.”

And:

“NYT is endangering the hostages in Somalia.”

It is important to know that while tweeting those words, I was sitting on an airplane, on a research trip, for an article for the New York Times. An editor had asked for something about Afghanistan, and I chose the topic of biogas, which included trips to Cambodia, Laos, Nepal (twice), Vietnam (this week), and Afghanistan.

The New York Times is one of the best sources on Iraq and Afghanistan. Their war correspondents are the “A-Team” and that included David Rohde. I was happy to write a piece for the New York Times.

The flurry of follow-on stories that picked up on my tweets, such as those by the Huffington Post, focused on ransom for Mr. Rohde, rather than the point about the harm the New York Times’ detailed coverage could cause the hostages.

On November 2, the New York Times posted a public response:

“Several Web sites repeated Monday erroneous allegations that The New York Times had paid a ransom in the case of its reporter David Rohde, held by the Taliban for seven months.”

The New York Times didn’t mention me by name, but the story continued spreading, with people reporting that I accused the New York Times of lying. Nowhere in the “tweets” was ransom mentioned, or anything about lying. I have no evidence that the New York Times misled the public, nor did I say or imply such. The tweet about money was based on what I had been told by reliable sources. Again, this is the tweet:

“Numerous very well placed sources have told me New York Times/associates paid millions to get Rohde release.”

The New York Times rebuttal statement goes on to quote David Rohde:

“American government officials worked to free us, but they maintained their longstanding policy of not negotiating with kidnappers. They paid no ransom and exchanged no prisoners. Pakistani and Afghan officials said they also freed no prisoners and provided no money.

“Security consultants who worked on our case said cash was paid to Taliban members who said they knew our whereabouts. But the consultants said they were never able to identify or establish contact with the guards who were living with us.”

Though it didn’t address the exact amount of money, the New York Times confirmed my tweet about money by acknowledging that “cash was paid to Taliban members.” My sources have said that large sums of money went through Dubai to Pakistan, not to mention the costs paid to consultants and other expenses.

Though my statements were in line with the New York Times’ statements, other outlets continued to state that I was accusing the New York Times of “lying.”  Not the case.

Chris Rovzar, who blogs at New York Magazine, was off mark when he ran this headline: Freelance War Reporter Accuses Times of Lying about Taliban Bribes.

My words said nothing about lying or bribes, and I am not a “freelance” or a “reporter,” though some of the work involves reporting. I contacted Mr. Rovzar and was pleasantly rewarded by his goodwill, candor and willingness to reexamine the words.

Moving on, the New York Times picked up on points about its coverage of the Somalia story when it published:

“Bloggers also accused The Times of hypocrisy in reporting on a British couple kidnapped by Somali pirates while keeping quiet Mr. Rohde’s kidnapping. . .

“The New York Times did not break the story of the kidnapping of Paul and Rachel Chandler, and during our reporting of it The Times consulted Christine Collett, Ms. Chandler’s sister-in-law, to ask her if the family objected to the publication of any information regarding the case. Ms. Collett, who was quoted in the story, said the family had no objection to The Times reporting on the case.”

Reporting with permission from a sister-in-law hardly makes it right. How many everyday people have experiences dealing with kidnappers? In fact, the Rohde case was the first time I realized how sensitive negotiators are to even passing acknowledgment.  How many of us know that even acknowledgment of the kidnapping can lead to harm?  Most people are unaware, but the New York Times knows. Did the New York Times share advice on its recent experiences when it asked Ms. Collett’s permission?

This incident aside, my respect for the New York Times’ reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan is undiminished. It offers world-class coverage, and continues to be on the reading list.

The New York Times and I simply have a difference of opinion on the hostage topic.

I believe that they have been truthful, while understandably guarded on the abduction of David Rohde. It would be wrong to bash a paper that has fielded such an outstanding team in Iraq and Afghanistan. The hostage issue is just one important issue, and all points by all parties seem to have been made and noted.

Finally, it’s time to move on from this distraction to a much larger topic: Afghanistan. Bad signals are coming from the White House.
30798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: November 16, 2009, 09:00:52 AM
No , , , because it is not a law enforcement practice  grin
30799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Wilson, 1791 on: November 16, 2009, 08:59:16 AM
"In planning, forming, and arranging laws, deliberation is always becoming, and always useful." --James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1791
30800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: November 16, 2009, 08:56:02 AM
Why on earth would we be discussing that pussified weenie in the context of The Way Forward for the American Creed?!?
=================
The Foundation
"They are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare.... [G]iving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please which may be good for the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless. It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and as they sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please." --Thomas Jefferson


PelosiCare is not about compassion -- it's about controlFor the Record
"Last Saturday [Nov. 7], at 11 o'clock in the evening, the House of Representatives voted by a five vote margin to have the federal government manage the health care of every American at a cost of $1 trillion dollars over the next ten years. For the first time in American history, if this bill becomes law, the Feds will force you to buy insurance you might not want, or may not need, or cannot afford. If you don't purchase what the government tells you to buy, if you don't do so when they tell you to do it, and if you don't buy just what they say is right for you, the government may fine you, prosecute you, and even put you in jail. Freedom of choice and control over your own body will be lost. The privacy of your communications and medical decision making with your physician will be gone. More of your hard earned dollars will be at the disposal of federal bureaucrats. It was not supposed to be this way. We elect the government. It works for us. How did it get so removed, so unbridled, so arrogant that it can tell us how to live our personal lives? Evil rarely comes upon us all at once, and liberty is rarely lost in one stroke. It happens gradually, over the years and decades and even centuries. A little stretch here, a cave in there, powers are slowly taken from the states and the people and before you know it, we have one big monster government that recognizes no restraint on its ability to tell us how to live." --Judge Andrew Napolitano

Liberty
"Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi's constitutional contempt, perhaps ignorance, is representative of the majority of members of both the House and the Senate. Their comfort in that ignorance and constitutional contempt, and how readily they articulate it, should be worrisome for every single American. It's not a matter of whether you are for or against Congress' health care proposals. It's not a matter of whether you're liberal or conservative, black or white, male or female, Democrat or Republican or member of any other group. It's a matter of whether we are going to remain a relatively free people or permit the insidious encroachment on our liberties to continue. ... In each new session of Congress since 1995, John Shadegg, R-Ariz.,) has introduced the Enumerated Powers Act, a measure 'To require Congress to specify the source of authority under the United States Constitution for the enactment of laws, and for other purposes.' The highest number of co-sponsors it has ever had in the House of Representatives is 54 and it has never had co-sponsors in the Senate until this year, when 22 senators signed up. The fact that less than 15 percent of the Congress supports such a measure demonstrates the kind of contempt our elected representatives have for the rules of the game -- our Constitution. If you asked the questions: Which way is our nation heading, tiny steps at a time? Are we headed toward more liberty, or are we headed toward greater government control over our lives? I think the answer is unambiguously the latter -- more government control over our lives." --economist Walter E. Williams

The Gipper
"The difference between the path toward greater freedom or bigger government is the difference between success and failure; between opportunity and coercion; between faith in a glorious future and fear of mediocrity and despair; between respecting people as adults, each with a spark of greatness, and treating them as helpless children to be forever dependent; between a drab, materialistic world where Big Brother rules by promises to special interest groups, and a world of adventure where everyday people set their sights on impossible dreams, distant stars, and the Kingdom of God. We have the true message of hope for America." --Ronald Reagan


Political Futures
"Barack Obama told the House Democratic Caucus before the roll call vote on health care on Nov. 7 that they would be better off politically if they passed the bill than if they let it fail. Bill Clinton speaking to the Senate Democrats' lunch on Nov. 10 cited his party's big losses in 1994 after Congress failed to pass his health care legislation as evidence that Democrats would suffer more from failure to pass a bill than from disaffection with a bill that was signed into law. These were closed meetings, but we can safely assume that the two Democratic presidents also assured their fellow partisans that health care legislation would do all sorts of good things for the American people. We know Obama did say that Democrats should 'answer the call of history,' even though America has gotten along pretty well without government-run health insurance for some 220 years. But political calculations are always on politicians' minds. The two presidents were urging passage of legislation that has become increasingly unpopular as its provisions become more widely known. They were speaking at a time when Gallup tells us that only 47 percent of Americans think providing health insurance is a government responsibility, down from 69 percent just two years ago. So despite their assurances, it's unclear whether Democrats will be better off passing a bill or seeing one fail. In political discourse, it's often assumed that there is some clear path to a favorable outcome. But sometimes both paths lead down." --political analyst Michael Barone

Government
"As an American, I am embarrassed that the U.S. House of Representatives has 220 members who actually believe the government can successfully centrally plan the medical and insurance industries. I'm embarrassed that my representatives think that government can subsidize the consumption of medical care without increasing the budget deficit or interfering with free choice. It's a triumph of mindless wishful thinking over logic and experience. The 1,990-page bill is breathtaking in its bone-headed audacity. The notion that a small group of politicians can know enough to design something so complex and so personal is astounding. That they were advised by 'experts' means nothing since no one is expert enough to do that. There are too many tradeoffs faced by unique individuals with infinitely varying needs. Government cannot do simple things efficiently. The bureaucrats struggle to count votes correctly. They give subsidized loans to 'homeowners' who turn out to be 4-year-olds. Yet congressmen want government to manage our medicine and insurance." --columnist John Stossel


 

Re: The Left
"In the late 1930s, the noted economist Friedrich Von Hayek wrote his landmark pamphlet 'Road to Serfdom,' laying bare the diseased skeleton of socialist/utopian thought that had permeated academia and the salons of his day. With an economy of words that showcased the significance of his conclusion, he pointed out the Achilles heel of collectivist dogma: for a planned economy to succeed, there must be central planners, who by necessity will insist on universal commitment to their plan. How do you attain total commitment to a goal from a free people? Well, you don't. Some percentage will always disagree, even if only for the sake of being contrary or out of a desire to be left alone. When considering a program as comprehensive as a government-planned economy, there are undoubtedly countless points of contention, such as how we will choose the planners, how we will order our priorities when assigning them importance within the plan, how we will allocate resources when competing interests have legitimate claims, who will make these decisions, and perhaps more pertinent to our discussion, how those decisions will be enforced. A rift forming on even one of these issues is enough to bring the gears of this progressive endeavor grinding to a halt. This fatal flaw in the collectivist design cannot be reengineered. It is an error so critical that the entire ideology must be scrapped." --columnist Joe Herring

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