Dog Brothers Public Forum
Return To Homepage
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
July 28, 2014, 03:41:12 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
81307 Posts in 2243 Topics by 1046 Members
Latest Member: MikeT
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 613
51  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Karambit Vs. straight blades on: July 23, 2014, 07:00:49 PM
TTT due to this thread being referenced on our FB page.
52  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen.Ted Cruz loses the Vampire vote on: July 23, 2014, 06:34:44 PM
53  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 23, 2014, 04:40:40 PM
Hmas using children as human shield in war
فقط 25 ثانیه ست اما دنیا حرف تو این کلیپ هست!! بازم بگین ماله سوریه ست..!! تو روخدا از ثانیه 19 تا 23 رو دقت کنین.. داره میگه: "تو حالا دختر حماس فاتح شدی..!!" این همون چهره واقعیه تروریست های «حماس» ست ک اینگونه با قساوت از کودکان معصوم فلسطینی در جنگ استفاده مستقیم میکند.. ناجوانمردانه آنها را سپر انسانی خود میسازد.. و شرم آورش آنجاست ک اینهمه ادعای شجاعت دارند اما بجای آنکه پناهگاه کودکان باشند حود با بزدلی در پشت یک دختر بچه پناه می گیرند.. و با وقاحت تمام حتی فیلم هم می گیرند..!!ا
حالا متوجه هستین اسرائیل با چ کسانی در حال جنگه..؟؟ا

Youtube لینک یوتیوب

وفاة الأطفال في غزة مدمرة! نسأل حماس السبب في ذلك هو استخدام الاطفال كدروع بشرية
The death of Children in Gaza is devastating! Ask Hamas why it is using kids as human shield
مرگ کودکان درد آور است.. از حماس بپرسید چر از کودکان مانند سپر انسانی مانند سپر انسانی استفاده میکند
חמאס משתמשים בילדים כמגן אנושי

‪#‎israelunderfire‬ ‪#‎istandwithisrael‬ ‪#‎israelunderattack‬ ‪#‎supportisrael‬#standwithisrael ‫#‏צוקאיתן‬ ‫#‏צבעאדום‬ ‫#‏פיקודהעורף‬ ‪#‎israel‬ ‪#‎gazaunderattack‬
54  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison, Fed 62, 1788 -- too many laws on: July 23, 2014, 10:44:55 AM
"It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow." --James Madison, Federal No. 62, 1788
55  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2016 Foreign Policy Debates on: July 23, 2014, 08:49:57 AM
Most of us here have tended to a strong US foreign policy, but at the polls in 2016 this may prove a very losing proposition.   For several years now I have been underlining here that rudderless nature of US foreign policy.   This article addresses this theme:

The Big 2016 Foreign Policy Debates
Rand Paul will fight the GOP hawks, and Joe Biden could run to the left of Hillary Clinton.
By William A. Galston
July 22, 2014 7:19 p.m. ET

These are tough times for internationalists, liberal and conservative alike. George W. Bush's overreach in Iraq undermined public support for the use of American power overseas, and Barack Obama has done nothing to rebuild it. Large majorities of Americans believe that our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan was a mistake. A July 21 Politico survey of likely voters in battleground states found that only 39% think that we have a responsibility to do something about the mess we left behind in Mesopotamia.

The survey also found that by a margin of 3 to 1, Americans reject the sweeping vision Mr. Bush enunciated in his second inaugural address and would instead confine the use of American military power to direct threats to our national security. In the same poll, completed before the downing of the Malaysia Airlines 3786.KU -2.17% passenger plane, only 17% thought we should get more involved in the confrontation between Russia and Ukraine.

The desire for some nation-building here at home is palpable and understandable. Nevertheless, the forthcoming presidential campaign is likely to feature an unusually spirited debate—within as well as between the parties—about America's role in the world.

The outline of this debate among Republicans is easy to foresee. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has articulated a coherent message of government restraint abroad as well as at home and has proved adept at making a libertarian-leaning agenda more broadly acceptable to conservatives. The young adults who flocked to his father's rallies seem especially receptive to his critique of military intervention and NSA surveillance. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose political instincts seem to have improved since 2012, has publicly challenged Mr. Paul for his alleged isolationism, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has positioned himself as his generation's torchbearer for a muscular internationalism based on American leadership.
Enlarge Image

Sen. Rand Paul Associated Press

Most Republican contenders are likely to side with their party's national-defense orthodoxy of recent decades. Still, Mr. Paul's self-confidence and political skills could carry him far in a divided field and might even gain him the nomination. That would be an earthquake within the Republican Party and present a tough choice for staunch hawks like John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Mr. McCain has publicly said as much.

Although it may not occur, the Democrats are poised for a similar debate. The only significant difference between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008 was her vote for the Iraq war, which probably cost her the presidential nomination. Little has changed. During her tenure as secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton was among the administration's toughest voices during internal debates. She supported the use of American air power in Libya, and the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden. (Both Vice President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Robert Gates opposed it.)

Strong legal support from Mrs. Clinton's State Department for President Obama's expansive use of drones surprised many observers. She was an advocate for the 2009 surge of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and favored maintaining a residual American force in Iraq after the end of our combat missions. While not opposed to nuclear negotiations with Iran, she has expressed mistrust about Iranian intentions and has opposed a policy of "containing" a nuclear-armed Tehran if diplomacy fails. As president, it seems reasonable to conclude, Mrs. Clinton would make decisions about using American power based on prudential considerations, not instinctive aversion.

For the record: Even though I opposed the Iraq war from the start, I believe that Hillary Clinton's judgment on defense and foreign policy issues has been right far more often than it was wrong and that she would serve our country well as commander in chief.

But rank-and-file Democrats are no less dovish today than they were in 2008. Although attention has focused recently on the clash between "populist" and "Wall Street" Democrats, the potential for an intraparty debate on foreign policy seems just as real. While Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has consistently denied her intention to run if Mrs. Clinton enters the race, Vice President Biden has made no such pledge. Estes Kefauver, the 1956 Democratic vice-presidential nominee, once remarked that the only known cure for persistent presidential ambition was "embalming fluid."

Mr. Biden is well-positioned to wage a left-leaning campaign on foreign policy as well as economic issues. Although he voted for the Iraq-war authorization in 2002, he argued vehemently against the Bush administration's surge in 2007, proposing instead the quasi-partition of Iraq into autonomous Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite zones. As vice president, he argued just as hard against Gen. David Petraeus's proposal (backed by then-Secretary of State Clinton) for a massive military surge and nation-building policy in Afghanistan. And he has taken U.S. military action against Iran off the table, declaring that "war with Iran is not just a bad option. It would be a disaster."

These issues matter, not just for the U.S., but for the world. During the Cold War, American retreat usually meant Soviet advance. Now it most often means anarchy. The question is whether the American people can be persuaded that they should care.
56  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Can Putin Survive? on: July 23, 2014, 08:30:44 AM
Can Putin survive?
Russia's strongman is far from finished, but events in Ukraine have weakened his position.
George Friedman | 23 July 2014
comment 6 | print |

There is a general view that Vladimir Putin governs the Russian Federation as a dictator, that he has defeated and intimidated his opponents and that he has marshaled a powerful threat to surrounding countries. This is a reasonable view, but perhaps it should be re-evaluated in the context of recent events.

Ukraine is, of course, the place to start. The country is vital to Russia as a buffer against the West and as a route for delivering energy to Europe, which is the foundation of the Russian economy. On Jan. 1, Ukraine's president was Viktor Yanukovich, generally regarded as favorably inclined to Russia. Given the complexity of Ukrainian society and politics, it would be unreasonable to say Ukraine under him was merely a Russian puppet. But it is fair to say that under Yanukovich and his supporters, fundamental Russian interests in Ukraine were secure.

This was extremely important to Putin. Part of the reason Putin had replaced Boris Yeltsin in 2000 was Yeltsin's performance during the Kosovo war. Russia was allied with the Serbs and had not wanted NATO to launch a war against Serbia. Russian wishes were disregarded. The Russian views simply didn't matter to the West. Still, when the air war failed to force Belgrade's capitulation, the Russians negotiated a settlement that allowed U.S. and other NATO troops to enter and administer Kosovo. As part of that settlement, Russian troops were promised a significant part in peacekeeping in Kosovo. But the Russians were never allowed to take up that role, and Yeltsin proved unable to respond to the insult.

Putin also replaced Yeltsin because of the disastrous state of the Russian economy. Though Russia had always been poor, there was a pervasive sense that it been a force to be reckoned with in international affairs. Under Yeltsin, however, Russia had become even poorer and was now held in contempt in international affairs. Putin had to deal with both issues. He took a long time before moving to recreate Russian power, though he said early on that the fall of the Soviet Union had been the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. This did not mean he wanted to resurrect the Soviet Union in its failed form, but rather that he wanted Russian power to be taken seriously again, and he wanted to protect and enhance Russian national interests.

The breaking point came in Ukraine during the Orange Revolution of 2004. Yanukovich was elected president that year under dubious circumstances, but demonstrators forced him to submit to a second election. He lost, and a pro-Western government took office. At that time, Putin accused the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies of having organized the demonstrations. Fairly publicly, this was the point when Putin became convinced that the West intended to destroy the Russian Federation, sending it the way of the Soviet Union. For him, Ukraine's importance to Russia was self-evident. He therefore believed that the CIA organized the demonstration to put Russia in a dangerous position, and that the only reason for this was the overarching desire to cripple or destroy Russia. Following the Kosovo affair, Putin publicly moved from suspicion to hostility to the West.

The Russians worked from 2004 to 2010 to undo the Orange Revolution. They worked to rebuild the Russian military, focus their intelligence apparatus and use whatever economic influence they had to reshape their relationship with Ukraine. If they couldn't control Ukraine, they did not want it to be controlled by the United States and Europe. This was, of course, not their only international interest, but it was the pivotal one.

Russia's invasion of Georgia had more to do with Ukraine than it had to do with the Caucasus. At the time, the United States was still bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan. While Washington had no formal obligation to Georgia, there were close ties and implicit guarantees. The invasion of Georgia was designed to do two things. The first was to show the region that the Russian military, which had been in shambles in 2000, was able to act decisively in 2008. The second was to demonstrate to the region, and particularly to Kiev, that American guarantees, explicit or implicit, had no value. In 2010, Yanukovich was elected president of Ukraine, reversing the Orange Revolution and limiting Western influence in the country.

Recognizing the rift that was developing with Russia and the general trend against the United States in the region, the Obama administration tried to recreate older models of relationships when Hillary Clinton presented Putin with a "restart" button in 2009. But Washington wanted to restore the relationship in place during what Putin regarded as the "bad old days." He naturally had no interest in such a restart. Instead, he saw the United States as having adopted a defensive posture, and he intended to exploit his advantage.

One place he did so was in Europe, using EU dependence on Russian energy to grow closer to the Continent, particularly Germany. But his high point came during the Syrian affair, when the Obama administration threatened airstrikes after Damascus used chemical weapons only to back off from its threat. The Russians aggressively opposed Obama's move, proposing a process of negotiations instead. The Russians emerged from the crisis appearing decisive and capable, the United States indecisive and feckless. Russian power accordingly appeared on the rise, and in spite of a weakening economy, this boosted Putin's standing.

The Tide Turns Against Putin

Events in Ukraine this year, by contrast, have proved devastating to Putin. In January, Russia dominated Ukraine. By February, Yanukovich had fled the country and a pro-Western government had taken power. The general uprising against Kiev that Putin had been expecting in eastern Ukraine after Yanukovich's ouster never happened. Meanwhile, the Kiev government, with Western advisers, implanted itself more firmly. By July, the Russians controlled only small parts of Ukraine. These included Crimea, where the Russians had always held overwhelming military force by virtue of treaty, and a triangle of territory from Donetsk to Luhansk to Severodonetsk, where a small number of insurgents apparently supported by Russian special operations forces controlled a dozen or so towns.

If no Ukrainian uprising occurred, Putin's strategy was to allow the government in Kiev to unravel of its own accord and to split the United States from Europe by exploiting Russia's strong trade and energy ties with the Continent. And this is where the crash of the Malaysia Airlines jet is crucial. If it turns out -- as appears to be the case -- that Russia supplied air defense systems to the separatists and sent crews to man them (since operating those systems requires extensive training), Russia could be held responsible for shooting down the plane. And this means Moscow's ability to divide the Europeans from the Americans would decline. Putin then moves from being an effective, sophisticated ruler who ruthlessly uses power to being a dangerous incompetent supporting a hopeless insurrection with wholly inappropriate weapons. And the West, no matter how opposed some countries might be to a split with Putin, must come to grips with how effective and rational he really is.

Meanwhile, Putin must consider the fate of his predecessors. Nikita Khrushchev returned from vacation in October 1964 to find himself replaced by his protege, Leonid Brezhnev, and facing charges of, among other things, "harebrained scheming." Khrushchev had recently been humiliated in the Cuban missile crisis. This plus his failure to move the economy forward after about a decade in power saw his closest colleagues "retire" him. A massive setback in foreign affairs and economic failures had resulted in an apparently unassailable figure being deposed.

Russia's economic situation is nowhere near as catastrophic as it was under Khrushchev or Yeltsin, but it has deteriorated substantially recently, and perhaps more important, has failed to meet expectations. After recovering from the 2008 crisis, Russia has seen several years of declining gross domestic product growth rates, and its central bank is forecasting zero growth this year. Given current pressures, we would guess the Russian economy will slide into recession sometime in 2014. The debt levels of regional governments have doubled in the past four years, and several regions are close to bankruptcy. Moreover, some metals and mining firms are facing bankruptcy. The Ukrainian crisis has made things worse. Capital flight from Russia in the first six months stood at $76 billion, compared to $63 billion for all of 2013. Foreign direct investment fell 50 percent in the first half of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. And all this happened in spite of oil prices remaining higher than $100 per barrel.

Putin's popularity at home soared after the successful Sochi Winter Olympics and after the Western media made him look like the aggressor in Crimea. He has, after all, built his reputation on being tough and aggressive. But as the reality of the situation in Ukraine becomes more obvious, the great victory will be seen as covering a retreat coming at a time of serious economic problems. For many leaders, the events in Ukraine would not represent such an immense challenge. But Putin has built his image on a tough foreign policy, and the economy meant his ratings were not very high before Ukraine.

Imagining Russia After Putin

In the sort of regime that Putin has helped craft, the democratic process may not be the key to understanding what will happen next. Putin has restored Soviet elements to the structure of the government, even using the term "Politburo" for his inner Cabinets. These are all men of his choosing, of course, and so one might assume they would be loyal to him. But in the Soviet-style Politburo, close colleagues were frequently the most feared.

The Politburo model is designed for a leader to build coalitions among factions. Putin has been very good at doing that, but then he has been very successful at all the things he has done until now. His ability to hold things together declines as trust in his abilities declines and various factions concerned about the consequences of remaining closely tied to a failing leader start to maneuver. Like Khrushchev, who was failing in economic and foreign policy, Putin could have his colleagues remove him.

It is difficult to know how a succession crisis would play out, given that the constitutional process of succession exists alongside the informal government Putin has created. From a democratic standpoint, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin are as popular as Putin is, and I suspect they both will become more popular in time. In a Soviet-style struggle, Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov and Security Council Chief Nicolai Patryushev would be possible contenders. But there are others. Who, after all, expected the emergence of Mikhail Gorbachev?

Ultimately, politicians who miscalculate and mismanage tend not to survive. Putin miscalculated in Ukraine, failing to anticipate the fall of an ally, failing to respond effectively and then stumbling badly in trying to recoup. His management of the economy has not been exemplary of late either, to say the least. He has colleagues who believe they could do a better job, and now there are important people in Europe who would be glad to see him go. He must reverse this tide rapidly, or he may be replaced.

Putin is far from finished. But he has governed for 14 years counting the time Dmitri Medvedev was officially in charge, and that is a long time. He may well regain his footing, but as things stand at the moment, I would expect quiet thoughts to be stirring in his colleagues' minds. Putin himself must be re-examining his options daily. Retreating in the face of the West and accepting the status quo in Ukraine would be difficult, given that the Kosovo issue that helped propel him to power and given what he has said about Ukraine over the years. But the current situation cannot sustain itself. The wild card in this situation is that if Putin finds himself in serious political trouble, he might become more rather than less aggressive. Whether Putin is in real trouble is not something I can be certain of, but too many things have gone wrong for him lately for me not to consider the possibility. And as in any political crisis, more and more extreme options are contemplated if the situation deteriorates.

Those who think that Putin is both the most repressive and aggressive Russian leader imaginable should bear in mind that this is far from the case. Lenin, for example, was fearsome. But Stalin was much worse. There may similarly come a time when the world looks at the Putin era as a time of liberality. For if the struggle by Putin to survive, and by his challengers to displace him, becomes more intense, the willingness of all to become more brutal might well increase.

George Friedman is the founder and CEO of Stratfor, the global intelligence website. This article has been republished with permission of Stratfor.
57  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Hamas' Gamble on: July 23, 2014, 08:21:59 AM
GAZA CITY — When war between Israel and Hamas broke out two weeks ago, the Palestinian militant group was so hamstrung, politically, economically and diplomatically, that its leaders appeared to feel they had nothing to lose.

Hamas took what some here call “option zero,” gambling that it could shift the balance with its trump cards: its arms and militants.

Now, this conflict has demonstrated that while Hamas governed over 1.7 million people mired in poverty, its leaders were pouring resources into its military and expanding its ability to fight Israel. If it can turn that improved military prowess into concessions, like opening the border with Egypt, that may boost its standing among the people of Gaza — although at an extraordinarily high cost in deaths and destruction.

“There were low expectations in terms of its performance against the recent round of Israeli incursions. It’s been exceeding all expectations,” said Abdullah Al-Arian, a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar who is currently in Washington. “And it’s likely to come out in a far better position than in the last three years, and maybe the last decade.”

Hamas had been struggling. The turmoil in the region meant it lost one of its main sponsors, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, whom it broke with over his brutal fight against a Sunni Muslim-led insurgency, and weakened its alliance with Iran. It lost support in Egypt when the Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted and replaced with a military-backed government hostile to Hamas.

Unemployment in Gaza is around 50 percent, having risen steeply since Israel pulled out its troops and settlers in 2005 and severely tightened border restrictions.

Hamas appeared powerless to end the near-blockade of its border by Israel and more recently Egypt. It could not even pay its 40,000 government workers their salaries.

The group was so handicapped that it agreed to enter into a pact with its rival party, Fatah, to form a new government. But that seemed only to make matters worse, sowing division within its own ranks, with some in the military wing angry at the concession, while providing none of the economic relief Hamas had hoped for.
A woman, center, was comforted after the missile attack in Yahud. Credit Dan Balilty/Associated Press

When Hamas sent a barrage of rockets into Israel, simmering hostilities, and back and forth strikes, erupted into war.

At first, when Hamas rockets were being intercepted mainly by Israel’s Iron Dome system as Israel hit Gaza with devastating force, the group strove to persuade its supporters that it was having enough impact on Israel to wrest concessions: Its radio stations blared fictional reports about Israeli casualties.

But as it wore on, the conflict revealed that Hamas’s secret tunnel network leading into Israel was far more extensive, and sophisticated, than previously known. It also was able to inflict some pain on Israel, allowing Hamas to declare success even as it drew a devastating and crushing response. Its fighters were able to infiltrate Israel multiple times during an intensive Israeli ground invasion. Its militants have killed at least 27 Israeli soldiers and claim to have captured an Israeli soldier who was reported missing in battle, a potentially key bargaining chip.
Continue reading the main story

And on Tuesday its rockets struck a blow to Israel — psychological and economic — by forcing a halt in international flights. Hamas once again looks strong in the eyes of its supporters, and has shown an increasingly hostile region that it remains a force to be reckoned with.
Continue reading the main story Video
Play Video|1:59
Behind the Escalations in Gaza
Behind the Escalations in Gaza

A look at why Israel and Hamas have repeatedly chosen to intensify the violence at every stage of the continuing conflict.
Video Credit By Mona El-Naggar on Publish Date July 17, 2014. Image CreditRonen Zvulun/Reuters

Hamas, Mr. Arian said, has demonstrated that “as a movement, it is simply not going anywhere.”

But Hamas’s gains could be short-lived if it does not deliver Gazans a better life. Israel says its severe restrictions on what can be brought into Gaza, such as construction materials, are needed because Hamas poses a serious security threat, and the discovery of the tunnels has served only to validate that concern.

So far, at least 620 Palestinians have died, around 75 percent of them civilians, according to the United Nations, including more than 100 children. Gazans did not get a vote when Hamas chose to escalate conflict, nor did they when Hamas selected areas near their homes, schools and mosques to fire rockets from the densely populated strip. At the family house of four boys killed last week by an Israeli strike while playing on a beach, some wailing women cursed Hamas along with Israel.
Continue reading the main story
Related in Opinion

    Op-Ed Contributor: Gaza Under Israel’s OnslaughtJULY 22, 2014
    Room for Debate: Self-Defense or Atrocities in Gaza?JULY 22, 2014

“It comes at an exceptionally high price,” said Khaled Elgindy, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former adviser to the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. “When the bombs stop and the dust settles, people might have different calculations about cost-benefit.”
A home that was destroyed by a Hamas missile near Ben Gurion International Airport in Yahud, near Tel Aviv. Credit Gideon Markowicz/European Pressphoto Agency

It is also unclear whether, when the fighting ends, Hamas will have the same kind of foreign support it has had in the past to rebuild its arsenal or its infrastructure; Egypt, under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has destroyed hundreds of the tunnels that were used to bring in arms, money and supplies, and has kept the proper border crossing mostly closed. There are also some diplomatic efforts underway seeking to force Hamas to surrender its weapons in exchange for a cease-fire, a demand it is not likely to accept.

Omar Shaban, an economist and political independent, sat in his walled garden in the southern Gaza town of Deir al-Balah as shells crackled nearby and said he fervently hoped, but also doubted, that both Hamas and Israel’s government would reach for a substantive deal.

“This war will end tomorrow or after tomorrow, we will have another cease-fire, we will have another siege and Hamas will continue to run the scene,” he said.

“Gaza is a big problem for everybody, for Hamas, for Fatah, for Israel,” he added, ticking off the list: shortages of water, housing and medicine, a population explosion, growing extremism.
58  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Noose tightening around NY Gov. Cuomo? on: July 23, 2014, 08:16:33 AM

Exclusive: Cuomo’s Office Hobbled New York State Ethics Inquiries

A high-powered commission created by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to root out corruption in New York politics was hobbled almost from the outset by demands from the governor’s office, which sought to shield his allies from scrutiny, according to an examination by The New York Times.

A three-month review of the panel’s short life and sudden death found that the governor’s office deeply compromised the commission’s work, objecting whenever its investigators focused on groups with ties to Mr. Cuomo or on issues that might reflect poorly on him.

Ultimately, Mr. Cuomo abruptly disbanded the commission halfway through what he had indicated would be an 18-month life. And now, as the Democratic governor seeks a second term in November, federal prosecutors are investigating the roles of Mr. Cuomo and his aides in the panel’s shutdown and are pursuing its unfinished business.


59  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Warrantless/illegal Sting Ray on: July 22, 2014, 11:00:20 PM

They use them in N.C. too.

The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department may be keeping judges, prosecutors and the public in the dark about the use of a controversial electronic surveillance tool known as the StingRay, according to new information obtained by News10.

Despite evidence showing the sheriff's department is utilizing the device, the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office and Sacramento Superior Court judges said they have no knowledge of StingRays or similar tools being used in Sacramento.

This revelation is concerning to privacy advocates and defense attorneys. They say the intrusive nature of the device, which tracks people in their homes and collects data from third parties, requires a search warrant. The fact that judges and prosecutors haven't heard of this use could indicate that warrants to use a StingRay aren't being obtained.

StingRay, IMSI catcher(Photo: News10/KXTV)

The district attorney's office said they would expect to see a search warrant for any device capable of real-time location tracking.

"We request a search warrant in all of those cases," Sacramento County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Grippi said. He said while warrants for a wiretap or GPS tracking devices are fairly common, he has never seen a Stingray warrant.

The sheriff's department won't acknowledge they own the surveillance tool or talk about how it works. They also won't discuss who is targeted with it or what oversight mechanisms are in place to govern its use.

A News10 investigation in March showed the spying device is being used by at least nine local law enforcement agencies in California, from San Diego to Sacramento.

A StingRay is a brand of IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) catcher, a device that mimics a cell tower and attracts all wireless phone signals within a certain radius into connecting with it. Authorities can use it to track the location of phones in real time, as well as the unique ID and phone numbers of all connected phones and the numbers dialed by a connected phone. That includes the phone numbers of outgoing calls and text messages.

StingRays also can be configured to capture the content of calls and texts connected to the device, although Harris Corporation, the maker of Stingray and similar products, said devices used by law enforcement don't have that capability.

Linda Lye, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Northern California, spent several years battling federal and local authorities for StingRay records. Lye reviewed documents and other evidence obtained by News10 and believes the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department is almost certainly using a StingRay, and likely with little to no oversight.

"There's no California law governing how StingRays are to be used," Lye said. "It means law enforcement is using them under rules that they have unilaterally written."

Over the past six months the sheriff's department has denied multiple requests from News10 to discuss the technology. News10 submitted a records request to the sheriff's department in October 2013 asking for contracts, agreements, invoices, purchase orders or maintenance contracts signed with Harris Corporation.

The sheriff's department responded by providing a purchase order for a "High Powered Filtered 25W PA Kit (CONUS)" costing $11,500, but said they had no other responsive records or documentation specifically related to a StingRay device.

Procurement documents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement describe the "High Powered Filtered 25W PA Kit (CONUS)" as a signal amplifier for a StingRay device.

In early February, News10 obtained StingRay records from the San Jose Police Department. San Jose was interested in purchasing a StingRay from the Harris Corporation and discussed the device with other law enforcement agencies already using it - including the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department.

"The Harris Corporation is a government contractor and the sole supplier of this technology and type of product line," stated a San Jose Police Department grant application requesting Department of Homeland Security funds to purchase a StingRay. "The Harris Corporation is bound by Title 18 USC 2512 and is protected under non-disclosure agreement and federal law. Research of the product consisted of testing by San Jose Police and technology and equipment feedback from the U.S. Marshals Service, [Redacted], the Oakland Police Department, the Sacramento Sheriff's Department, the San Diego Sheriff's Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, and the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department."

"While I am not familiar with what San Jose has said, my understanding is that the acquisition or use of this technology comes with a strict non-disclosure requirement," Sacramento County Undersheriff James Lewis said in a written statement. "Therefore, it would be inappropriate for us to comment about any agency that may be using the technology."

Privacy advocates such as the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation argue that a non-disclosure agreement between the sheriff's department and a private corporation is not a valid reason to withhold public records.

"Government agencies cannot enter into private contracts in order to evade their statutory obligations," Lye said.

The sheriff's department later refused to release additional records requested by News10, citing several federal regulations, including the Freedom of Information Act, the Homeland Security Act, International Traffic in Arms Regulations and the Arms Export Control Act.

Lye reviewed the department's justification to withhold public records and said she believes their justification is invalid. The arms trafficking exemptions, she said, don't apply to StingRays.

"In order to be protected under that, there would have to have been a determination that they're on the U.S. munitions list, and they're not," Lye said.
60  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Great 11 minute history on: July 22, 2014, 10:56:41 PM
61  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA News on: July 22, 2014, 09:43:45 PM
One of my good gym buddies is Tony Fryklund.

He was intrigued by some things he saw me doing with shot puts (this has been really good in my rehab of my separated shoulder) so I gave him a few ideas and turned him loose to experiment. He became quite enthused and came up with a whole bunch of things more oriented to MMA clinch whereas my routine is more oriented to "Kali Tudo"

He suggested I come by his MMA wrestling class the next day with the shot puts and we worked on some interesting things. I was very impressed with how the training method instantly improved the power and fluidity of one's clinch movement.

So I lent him my 8s (and have been working with my 6s and 4s instead) and he has been working things out for a couple of weeks.

The plan is to shoot the first of a series of training clips next week and have it available for download not too long after that.
62  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Summer 2014 DBMA Training Camp July 19-20 on: July 22, 2014, 09:42:58 PM
Good times with good people!

Very pleased with the training progression.  I will be using it again.
63  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / BP points gun at Boy Scout on: July 22, 2014, 08:45:36 PM!bj84sS
64  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / June CPI adds to ongoing uptrend in inflation on: July 22, 2014, 08:40:37 PM
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) Increased 0.3% in June
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Bob Stein, CFA - Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 7/22/2014

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.3% in June, matching consensus expectations. The CPI is up 2.1% versus a year ago.

“Cash” inflation (which excludes the government’s estimate of what homeowners would charge themselves for rent) rose 0.3% in June and is up 1.9% in the past year.
Most of the increase in the CPI in June was due to a 1.6% rise in energy prices. Food prices increased 0.1%. The “core” CPI, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.1%, below consensus expectations of a 0.2% rise. The gain in core prices was led by shelter and core prices are up 1.9% versus a year ago.
Real average hourly earnings – the cash earnings of all employees, adjusted for inflation – were flat in June, and are down 0.1% in the past year. Real weekly earnings are also down 0.1% in the past year.

Implications: In her last press conference, Janet Yellen said recent higher inflation readings weren't a problem because the data are "noisy." But, lately, that noise all seems to be coming from the direction of higher inflation. Consumer prices increased 0.3% in June, following a large 0.4% rise in May. Although consumer prices are up a moderate 2.1% from a year ago, this year-over-year number masks a real acceleration. Over the past three months, the CPI is up 3.5% at an annual rate. And if you think three months is just noise, how about the first half of the year? In the first six months of 2014, consumer prices are up 2.7% at an annual rate, a clear acceleration from the 1.5% rate seen through the first six months of 2013. Energy led the way in June, with gasoline prices, up 3.3%, accounting for two-thirds of the increase in the overall index. And while a 0.1% increase in "core" prices in June means core prices are up only 1.9% from a year ago, they are still up an annualized 2.5% in the past three months. In addition, owners’ equivalent rent (the government’s estimate of what homeowners would charge themselves for rent), which makes up about ¼ of the overall CPI, is up 2.6% over the past 12 months. This measure will be a key source of the acceleration in inflation in the year ahead, in large part fueled by the shift toward renting rather than owning. The worst news in today’s report was that “real” (inflation-adjusted) average hourly earnings remained flat in June and are down 0.1% in the past year. Plugging today’s CPI data into our models suggests the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, the PCE deflator, probably increased 0.2% in June. If so, it would be up 1.7% from a year ago, barely below the Fed’s target of 2%. We expect to hit and cross the 2% target later this year, consistent with our view that the Fed starts raising short-term interest rates in the first half of 2015.
65  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 22, 2014, 02:02:17 PM
Health Law Subsidies Upheld, Conflicting With Ruling Hours Earlier
Two federal appeals court panels issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on whether the government could subsidize health insurance premiums for people in three dozen states that use the federal insurance exchange. The decisions are the latest in a series of legal challenges to central components of President Obama’s health care law.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, upheld the subsidies, saying that a rule issued by the Internal Revenue Service was “a permissible exercise of the agency’s discretion.”

The ruling came within hours of a 2-to-1 ruling by a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which said that the government could not subsidize insurance for people in states that use the federal exchange.

That decision could cut potentially off financial assistance for more than 4.5 million people who were found eligible for subsidized insurance in the federal exchange, or marketplace.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the appeals court here said, subsidies are available only to people who obtained insurance through exchanges established by states.

66  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Healthier school lunches now found to be agreeable on: July 22, 2014, 10:00:34 AM

Study Finds Elementary Students Like New Healthier Lunches
Students Complained When Regulations Implemented, But Ultimately Found Them Agreeable
by Caroline Porter and Stephanie Armour
Updated July 21, 2014 7:39 p.m. ET

A new study reveals that the healthier school lunches despised in 2012 are now found to be agreeable among students and staffers. Caroline Porter joins the News Hub with Sara Murray. Photo: Getty Images.

When the federal government implemented new school-meal regulations in 2012, a majority of elementary-school students complained about the healthier lunches, but by the end of the school year most found the food agreeable, according to survey results released Monday.

The peer-reviewed study comes amid concerns that the regulations led schools to throw away more uneaten food and prompted some students to drop out of meal programs.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago surveyed administrators at more than 500 primary schools about student reaction to the new meals in the 2012-2013 school year. They found that 70% agreed or strongly agreed that students, by the end of the school year, generally liked the new lunches, which feature more whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and lower fat levels.

"We feel like these data support the new meals and show that although change can be slow, there have not been as many student complaints as thought to be," said Lindsey Turner, the lead author of the study, which will be published in the journal Childhood Obesity. The research was supported by a national group called Bridging the Gap that studies polices that improve health and was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which backs public-health initiatives.

In another study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine this past spring, researchers found that students were eating more fruits and vegetables under the new guidelines.

The school-meal standards have been contentious. Some Republicans criticized their calorie limits—the first time the government had imposed such a mandate on school meals—and in 2012 introduced legislation in the House to repeal the requirements. The standards also spurred student-led lunch boycotts in some districts.

Participation in the school-meal program has declined in recent years, fueling questions about the regulations' impact.

"Our big concern is that participation continues to slide," said Diane Pratt-Heavner, spokeswoman for the School Nutrition Association, which represents 55,000 school-nutritional professionals. The group seeks a relaxation of the rules, and says it believes they play a role in the decline in students participating.

Nationwide, participation in the school-lunch program fell by 1.2 million students, or 3.7%, from the 2010-2011 school year through the 2012-2013 year after having steadily increased for many years, according to a Feb. 27 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. State and local officials reported the drop was due in part to the new standards.

The study released Monday shows that schools in which two-thirds or more of students qualified for free or reduced-price lunch had higher participation and left less food on their plates than schools with fewer students qualified for the meals. In addition, administrators at rural schools reported more student complaints and wasted food, as well as participation drops, as compared with urban or suburban schools, according to the report.

The rules cover the roughly 32 million children who eat school breakfasts, lunches and snacks, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which says the program cost $15.2 billion in the 2013-2014 school year.

The requirement for healthier school food was a signature push of first lady Michelle Obama. The standards are aimed at reducing childhood obesity and were released in January 2012. Ms. Obama earlier this month vowed to fight GOP efforts to weaken the rules. House Republicans and the School Nutrition Association are seeking to relax some of the requirements in the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

House Republicans are calling for some schools facing financial challenges to get a temporary waiver from the rules. They say the standards have been money losers for some districts. Democrats say the schools simply need more time and that many have made a successful transition.

"It takes students a little bit to adjust," said Jessica Donze Black, a child nutrition expert for the Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonprofit that promotes healthy school meals. "A majority of schools are doing well, and we should be able to learn from those schools and move forward with the schools that are still struggling."

A hearing on school nutrition by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry is set for Wednesday.

Write to Caroline Porter at and Stephanie Armour at
67  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: The healthy tend to sleep 7 hours on: July 22, 2014, 09:56:57 AM
Why Seven Hours of Sleep Might Be Better Than Eight
Sleep experts close in on the optimal night's sleep
Sumathi Reddy


July 21, 2014 7:22 p.m. ET

American adults get less sleep today than in the past, research shows. Corbis

How much sleep do you really need?

Experts generally recommend seven to nine hours a night for healthy adults. Sleep scientists say new guidelines are needed to take into account an abundance of recent research in the field and to reflect that Americans are on average sleeping less than they did in the past.

Several sleep studies have found that seven hours is the optimal amount of sleep—not eight, as was long believed—when it comes to certain cognitive and health markers, although many doctors question that conclusion.
The Way We Sleep

    People say they need an average of 7 hours, 13 minutes of sleep to function at their best. They sleep 6 hours, 31 minutes on an average weekday, and 7 hours, 22 minutes on weekends.
    69% of Americans get less sleep on weekdays than they say they need.
    Sleeping with a partner is preferred by 60% of adults. About 1 in 5 people sleep with a pet.
    Pajamas are worn by 73% of people and 12% sleep with nothing on.
    A third of adults sleep with one pillow, 41% use two and 14% keep four or more pillows.

Source: National Sleep Foundation, 2013 International Bedroom Poll

Other recent research has shown that skimping on a full night's sleep, even by 20 minutes, impairs performance and memory the next day. And getting too much sleep—not just too little of it—is associated with health problems including diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease and with higher rates of death, studies show.

"The lowest mortality and morbidity is with seven hours," said Shawn Youngstedt, a professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University Phoenix. "Eight hours or more has consistently been shown to be hazardous," says Dr. Youngstedt, who researches the effects of oversleeping.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is helping to fund a panel of medical specialists and researchers to review the scientific literature on sleep and develop new recommendations, probably by 2015.

Daniel F. Kripke, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Diego, tracked over a six-year period data on 1.1 million people who participated in a large cancer study. People who reported they slept 6.5 to 7.4 hours had a lower mortality rate than those with shorter or longer sleep. The study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry in 2002, controlled for 32 health factors, including medications.

In another study, published in the journal Sleep Medicine in 2011, Dr. Kripke found further evidence that the optimal amount of sleep might be less than the traditional eight hours. The researchers recorded the sleep activity of about 450 elderly women using devices on their wrist for a week. Some 10 years later the researchers found that those who slept fewer than five hours or more than 6.5 hours had a higher mortality.

Other experts caution against studies showing ill effects from too much sleep. Illness may cause someone to sleep or spend more time in bed, these experts say. And studies based on people reporting their own sleep patterns may be inaccurate.

"The problem with these studies is that they give you good information about association but not causation," said Timothy Morgenthaler, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, which represents sleep doctors and researchers, and a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine.

Dr. Morgenthaler advises patients to aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night and to evaluate how they feel. Sleep needs also vary between individuals, largely due to cultural and genetic differences, he said.

Getting the right amount of sleep is important in being alert the next day, and several recent studies have found an association between getting seven hours of sleep and optimal cognitive performance.

A study in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience last year used data from users of the cognitive-training website Lumosity. Researchers looked at the self-reported sleeping habits of about 160,000 users who took spatial-memory and matching tests and about 127,000 users who took an arithmetic test. They found that cognitive performance increased as people got more sleep, reaching a peak at seven hours before starting to decline.

After seven hours, "increasing sleep was not any more beneficial," said Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., who co-authored the study with scientists from Lumos Labs Inc., which owns Lumosity. He said the study replicated earlier research, including a look at memory loss. "If you think about all the causes of memory loss, sleep is probably one of the most easily modifiable factors," he said.

Most research has focused on the effects of getting too little sleep, including cognitive and health declines and weight gain. David Dinges, a sleep scientist at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine who has studied sleep deprivation, said repeatedly getting just 20 or 30 minutes less than the minimum recommendation of seven hours can slow cognitive speed and increase attention lapses.

Experts say people should be able to figure out their optimal amount of sleep in a trial of three days to a week, ideally while on vacation. Don't use an alarm clock. Go to sleep when you get tired. Avoid too much caffeine or alcohol. And stay off electronic devices a couple of hours before going to bed. During the trial, track your sleep with a diary or a device that records your actual sleep time. If you feel refreshed and awake during the day, you've probably discovered your optimal sleep time.

The new sleep guidelines will be drawn up by a panel of experts being assembled by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the Sleep Research Society, an organization for sleep researchers, and the CDC. The recommendations are meant to reflect evidence that has emerged from scientific studies and are expected to take into account issues such as gender and age, says Dr. Morgenthaler, the academy president.

Another group, the National Sleep Foundation, a nonprofit research and advocacy group, also has assembled an expert panel that expects to release updated recommendations for sleep times in January.

These groups currently recommend seven to nine hours of nightly sleep for healthy adults. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends seven to eight hours, including the elderly. Most current guidelines say school-age children should get at least 10 hours of sleep a night, and teenagers, nine to 10.

"I don't think you can overdose on healthy sleep. When you get enough sleep your body will wake you up," said Safwan Badr, chief of the division of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit.

A study in the current issue of Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine seemed to confirm that. Five healthy adults were placed in what the researchers called Stone Age-like conditions in Germany for more than two months—without electricity, clocks or running water. Participants fell asleep about two hours earlier and got on average 1.5 hours more sleep than was estimated in their normal lives, the study said.

Their average amount of sleep per night: 7.2 hours.
68  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Fed Appeals Court deals setback to Obamacare on: July 22, 2014, 09:52:48 AM
Federal Appeals Court Deals Setback to Health Care Law

In a ruling that could upend President Obama’s health care law, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the government could not subsidize premiums for people in three dozen states that use the federal insurance exchange. The 2-to-1 ruling could cut off financial assistance for more than 4.5 million people who were found eligible for subsidized insurance in the federal exchange, or marketplace.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the court said, subsidies are available only to people who obtained insurance through exchanges established by states.
The law “does not authorize the Internal Revenue Service to provide tax credits for insurance purchased on federal exchanges,” said the ruling, by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The law, it said, “plainly makes subsidies available only on exchanges established by states.”


69  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IDF targetting in Gaza on: July 22, 2014, 09:22:31 AM
70  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: July 21, 2014, 09:17:30 PM
second post of the day

ditor's Note: This week's Security Weekly summarizes our quarterly Mexico drug cartel report, in which we assess the most significant developments of the second quarter of 2014 and provide a forecast for the third quarter. The report is a product of the coverage we maintain through our Mexico Security Memo, quarterly updates and other analyses that we produce throughout the year as part of the Mexico Security Monitor service.

By Tristan Reed
Mexico Security Analyst

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto aggressively pursued a strategy of targeting top organized crime leaders throughout Mexico in the second quarter -- and not just in Michoacan, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas, the states that the country's major criminal groups call home.

In Michoacan, Mexico City achieved substantial success against organized crime in the first half of 2014. Self-defense militias and Mexican authorities have dismantled most of the senior leadership of the Knights Templar. Only Servando "La Tuta" Gomez Martinez remains at large.

Federal forces also continued to inflict significant leadership losses on organized crime groups in Sinaloa, particularly the Sinaloa Federation. The arrest of top Sinaloa Federation leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera on Feb. 22 capped the government's successes in Sinaloa. The Mexican military on June 23 also arrested Fernando "El Ingeniero" Sanchez Arellano, one of the primary leaders of another criminal group in Sinaloa (despite its brand name), the Tijuana cartel.

Mexico City announced a renewed campaign against organized crime in Tamaulipas on May 13, highlighting its intent to crush the leaderships of all organized crime groups in their respective domains. Successes mounted just days after the announcement: Already, federal forces have arrested or killed several significant Gulf cartel and Los Zetas bosses. And at least so far, the campaign against organized crime in Tamaulipas has not distracted the government from its pursuit of crime bosses elsewhere.

Successfully targeting crime bosses in Mexico does not ensure improved security over the long term. It also does not guarantee the collapse of any group. For example, the arrest of Zetas leader Miguel "Z-40" Trevino Morales on July 15, 2013, did not appear to meaningfully affect Los Zetas' capabilities or operations.

Opportunities for new crime bosses to emerge or expand their control will remain as long as vast quantities of highly profitable drugs are flowing through criminal territories and other highly profitable criminal activities are proliferating. If Mexico City is to translate its recent successes into enduring security improvements, it will have to continue to pressure crime bosses and strengthen the government institutions that maintain the rule of law.

Economic Incentives

It is more than just a desire to end the drug-related violence that motivates Mexico City's recent campaigns against organized crime in Tamaulipas, Sinaloa and Michoacan. The Mexican government is also protecting its own economic interests. Not only do Mexican criminal groups traffic drugs into the United States, but they are also increasingly engaged in the theft of hydrocarbon products, as well as illegal mining and illegal logging.

In Michoacan, the Knights Templar had enjoyed an increasing share of shipments of illegally mined ore to China until the second quarter. Meanwhile, the theft and sale of hydrocarbon products by these groups has grown throughout Mexico. Criminal groups in Tamaulipas in particular have an extensive reach into Mexico's energy resources: Groups have stolen gasoline from Petroleos Mexicanos' pipelines, trucks and even directly from refineries, then sold it on the street for less than half the official price.

Organized crime's exploitation of Mexico's hydrocarbon resources is one of the principal forces pushing the new campaign in the northeast. As Stratfor noted in its second quarterly cartel update, the recent surge in violence in Tamaulipas was mainly because of the collapse of the Tampico Gulf cartel faction and the continued Gulf cartel factional fight for control of Reynosa. However, Mexico City has thus far targeted virtually all organized crime groups based in Tamaulipas -- from Los Zetas to the various Gulf cartel factions -- and government operations have extended into Guanajuato, Mexico, Nuevo Leon and Veracruz states.

The long-term consequences of Mexico's high-value target campaign are difficult to forecast. Security improvements -- where there have been any -- as a direct result of military and law enforcement operations in the most violent areas of the country have been modest. Those operations have, however, accelerated the trends Stratfor underlined in its 2014 cartel annual update.

In northwestern Mexico, the series of arrests of high-level Sinaloa Federation leaders has further balkanized organized crime in states such as Sonora, Baja California and Sinaloa. In north-central Mexico, La Linea has re-emerged in Chihuahua without resorting to the levels of violence seen when the Sinaloa Federation initially pushed into the state and challenged it. The picture in Mexico's northeast is still hazy, especially given the recent operations in Tamaulipas. Nonetheless, the combination of escalated turf wars among Gulf cartel factions and the government's targeting of crime bosses from Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel will accelerate the organizational shifts Stratfor noted in its 2014 cartel update.

Changes in Tamaulipas and the Northeast

The collapse of the Tampico faction of the Gulf cartel during the first quarter, leaving no major group in control of organized crime in the city of Tampico, marked the beginning of substantial shifts in organized crime in the northeast. In addition to Tampico, Reynosa and Ciudad Victoria saw renewed organized crime violence. Gulf cartel factions fought each other for control of Reynosa, and Los Zetas continued to face off with security forces in Ciudad Victoria. However, because Tampico lies on drug smuggling routes into the United States and is a hub for the theft of hydrocarbon products, it is almost a given that a group such as Los Zetas or another Gulf cartel faction will vie for control. Competing groups could launch a direct incursion, or they could sponsor one of the old Tampico faction's successor groups.

Areas of Cartel Influence in Mexico

As Stratfor detailed in the first quarterly update, a shift of control in Tampico could affect the landscape of organized crime in all of northeastern Mexico. We did not, however, predict the sweeping federal operations targeting all major criminal groups in Tamaulipas that began in May. Sharp increases in violence and subsequent military operations are not new to Tamaulipas. Since 2003, the state has experienced a series of bloody criminal turf wars followed by substantial military and law enforcement operations. The turf wars reflect the state's value to organized crime. Given its location on the Lower Rio Grande, Tamaulipas offers access to U.S. ports of entry where contraband can be smuggled into the United States. This has made Tamaulipas one of the major regional bases for organized crime in Mexico. The various major groups based there, namely, Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel factions, collectively operate in roughly half of the country.

The operations that reshaped the security environment in Tamaulipas in the second quarter will continue at least into the third quarter. Fighting between gunmen and military forces has increased in multiple areas of Tamaulipas, particularly Reynosa, Tampico and Ciudad Victoria, though the increased troop presence in hot spots in the state has diminished intercartel violence.

The wide net Mexico City has cast in targeting crime bosses from groups based in Tamaulipas reveals that the government's ambitions go beyond simply quelling cartel violence in the state. Numerous Tamaulipas crime bosses have been caught, many after fleeing the state. The number of crime bosses fleeing Tamaulipas only to be arrested in their new refuges stands out. These include Gulf cartel boss Juan Manuel "Juan Perros" Rodriguez Garcia, apprehended May 25 in Nuevo Leon state; Los Zetas leaders Juan Fernando "El Ferrari" Alvarez Cortez and Fernando "Z-16" Magana Martinez, both apprehended in May in Nuevo Leon; Luis Jimenez Tovar, Los Zetas' plaza boss for Ciudad Victoria, arrested July 3 in Leon, Guanajuato; and Gulf cartel boss Juan Zarate "El Sheyla" Martin Chavez, apprehended June 18 in Mexico state. The high volume of fugitives from Tamaulipas suggests that the crime bosses fear this security operation more than major ones in the past, such as the operation launched against Los Zetas in 2011 and the one targeting the Gulf cartel in 2012.

Violence stemming from the turf wars between rival criminal groups in Reynosa and Tampico slowed in the last few weeks of the second quarter, supplanted by fighting between authorities and criminal gunmen. While organized crime groups will continue fighting one another in Tamaulipas, the heightened number of federal troops and aggressive targeting will continue to limit their ability to fight one another in the third quarter.

It is highly likely that more Gulf cartel and Los Zetas leaders will fall this quarter, though it is uncertain whether Mexico City will apprehend the senior leaders of Los Zetas, such as leader Omar "Z-42" Trevino Morales, brother of former leader Miguel Trevino Morales. The faction of the Gulf cartel based in Matamoros, a town where the family of former Gulf leader Osiel Cardenas Guillen still has considerable power, has weathered the federal operations the best. As a result, this faction could expand its reach onto the turf of other Gulf factions in the second half of the year.

Editor's Note: The full version of our quarterly cartel update is available to clients of our Mexico Security Monitor service.
71  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WaPo and Allen West: This was anticipated way in advance, , , on: July 21, 2014, 06:17:29 PM
According to the Washington Post, “Nearly a year before President Obama declared a humanitarian crisis on the border, a team of experts arrived at the Fort Brown patrol station in Brownsville, Tex., and discovered a makeshift transportation depot for a deluge of foreign children. Thirty Border Patrol agents were assigned in August 2013 to drive the children to off-site showers, wash their clothes and make them sandwiches. As soon as those children were placed in temporary shelters, more arrived. An average of 66 were apprehended each day on the border and more than 24,000 cycled through Texas patrol stations in 2013.”

“In a 41-page report to the Department of Homeland Security, the team from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) raised alarms about the federal government’s capacity to manage a situation that was expected to grow worse. The researchers’ observations were among the warning signs conveyed to the Obama administration over the past two years as a surge of Central American minors has crossed into south Texas illegally.”

That means the administration was informed about the coming invasion as early as 2012 – of course at that time, there was an election to win.

So could it be that Barack Hussein Obama was deliberately and willfully negligent in the discharge of his duties to protect the American people and the sovereignty of our Constitutional Republic? Did Obama violate Article 4, Section 4 of the US Constitution; “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion?”

There's more disturbing evidence that this immigrant invasion was planned and anticipated by the Obama administration as early as 2012
72  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Glenn Beck visits the border on: July 21, 2014, 02:46:50 PM
73  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glenn Beck visits the border on: July 21, 2014, 02:46:18 PM
74  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: July 21, 2014, 12:36:37 PM
Plow Horse GDP Rebound in Q2 To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 7/21/2014

The 2.9% drop in real GDP during the first quarter was a fluke caused by a brutal winter and some one-off events. With much of the monthly data in for Q2, it looks like the US will see that drop almost completely reversed.

Normally, we would expect a bigger bounce as pent-up demand (lost to the weather) returned and added to growth already in train. But, not this time. In recent years, tax rates have been hiked, regulations have increased and government spending has expanded. All of these are a burden on the economy that creates slower potential growth.

As a result, while we expect a nice rebound in Q2 real GDP to 2.9% annualized growth, this still looks like a Plow Horse recovery.

This doesn’t mean we won’t see better growth rates in the years ahead. Monetary policy is loose – and will stay that way even when the Federal Reserve starts raising rates – corporate profits have been terrific, and housing will continue to rebound. Job creation has hastened, helping boost incomes and purchasing power.

However, the economy will remain disappointingly weak unless, and until, government policies change. Given current policies, this economic expansion will not be like the ones in the 1980s or 1990s. Not even close.

As we do every quarter, below is a component by component “add-em-up” forecast of Q2 real GDP – and how we get the 2.9% rebound from the Q1 economic pothole.
Consumption: Auto sales surged at a 26% annual rate in Q2 and “real” (inflation-adjusted) retail sales outside the auto sector grew at a 4% rate. But services make up about 2/3 of personal consumption and those were roughly unchanged. As a result, it looks like real personal consumption of goods and services combined, grew at a 1.9% annual rate in Q2, contributing 1.3 points to the real GDP growth rate (1.9 times the consumption share of GDP, which is 69%, equals 1.3).

Business Investment: Business equipment investment looks like it grew at a 12.5% annual rate in Q2, the fastest pace since 2011. Commercial construction looks like it grew at a 4% rate. Factoring in R&D suggests overall business investment grew at a 7.5% rate, which should add 0.9 points to the real GDP growth rate (7.5 times the 12% business investment share of GDP equals 0.9).

Home Building: Better weather brought more home building in Q2, although nothing close to a housing boom. We see a 6% annualized gain in home building in Q2 adding 0.2 points to the real GDP growth rate (6 times the home building share of GDP, which is 3%, equals 0.2).

Government: Public construction projects, which had been slowed by the weather in Q1, rebounded sharply in Q2. However, military spending continued to head down. On net, it looks like real government purchases grew at a 2% annual rate in Q2, which should add 0.4 percentage points to real GDP growth (2 times the government purchase share of GDP, which is 18%, equals 0.4).

Trade: At this point, the government only has trade data through May, and it doesn’t look very good for US GDP. On average, the “real” trade deficit in goods has grown larger in Q2. As a result, we’re forecasting that net exports subtracted 0.7 points from the real GDP growth rate.

Inventories: Companies cut the pace of inventory accumulation in Q1. But, with partial data only through May, it appears inventory accumulation is reaccelerating. That’s a harbinger of better sales ahead and, for the time being, will add 0.8 points to the real GDP growth rate in Q2.

Nothing in the next GDP report is going to signal an economic boom. But, the dour forecasts of imminent recession which accompanied the reported drop in GDP over the winter months will be proven wrong. (Once again!) We aren’t looking for a boom, but it sure looks like a solid Plow Horse piece of data is on its way.

75  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia's anti-west isolationism on: July 21, 2014, 11:50:19 AM
76  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ISIS drives Christians into exile on: July 21, 2014, 11:39:11 AM
77  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kurdistan's financial trap on: July 21, 2014, 11:20:43 AM


The Kurdistan Regional Government's recent stream of announcements make it appear that Iraqi Kurdistan, now endowed with the prize of Kirkuk oil, is on the verge of political and economic independence. But behind the Kurdish hubris is a government in an increasingly desperate financial situation, with only its old adversary Turkey to rely on for its survival. This situation will create deeper divisions among Iraq's Kurdish factions, providing neighboring Iran with an opportunity to counter Turkey's moves in Iraqi Kurdistan.


Now that the Kurds have established control over the Kirkuk oil fields, the Kurdistan Regional Government is working rapidly to connect the fields to its own energy infrastructure. Multiple sources have confirmed that the Avana Dome has been connected to the Kurdish-controlled Khurmala Dome. The next step will be to connect the Baba Dome and nearby Bai Hassan field to the Avana Dome, which altogether would add (in theory) some 415,000 barrels to Kurdish production capacity, though these fields currently produce around 160,000 barrels per day of sour light crude. Kirkuk crude can be blended with light Taq Taq crude to channel more oil for export, but that would irritate potential buyers, who are looking for consistency in output and would be reluctant to buy crude from a disputed territory. More likely, Kirkuk crude will be diverted to local refineries for domestic Kurdish consumption.

Still, the Kurdish acquisition of Kirkuk does little at the moment to alleviate the Kurdistan Regional Government's deepening financial crisis. For the past six months, it has gone without a roughly $1.2 billion monthly budget allocation from Baghdad, since the Iraqi government sought to punish Kurdish attempts to attain energy and political independence. That is about the same amount the Kurdistan Regional Government spends monthly for public sector employee salaries, operational expenses and investment projects. Critically, 60 percent of the Kurdistan Regional Government's monthly expenditures go toward the salaries of a bloated 700,000-strong bureaucracy, including 200,000 peshmerga soldiers.

The government has had to delay paying some public sector employees, especially teachers. With security threats rising, paying peshmerga forces seems to be a priority, even if those salaries are not paid in time. After its financial obligations to its employees, the Kurdistan Regional Government also has to answer to more than 50 international oil companies and contractors operating in Iraqi Kurdistan that also face repeated delays in payments. The government tried to extract fees from these firms to alleviate its current financial problems, demanding immediate payments for the services of its oil protection units. But the patience of international oil companies wears thin with such demands the longer they go without pay. The Kurdistan Regional Government's total debts to international oil companies and contractors is estimated to be roughly $5 billion and counting.

Without reserves to draw from, the Kurdistan Regional Government in Arbil has had to borrow from a limited menu of lenders. Several of Iraqi Kurdistan's business tycoons, including the heads of KAR Group and Asiacell, have been called on to issue loans and maintain liquidity in public banks. Most foreign banks are reluctant to lend to the Kurdistan Regional Government, but Arbil appears to have secured around $1 billion total in regional loans from Turkey's Asya Bank and VakifBank, in addition to funds from Lebanese banks IBL, Byblos and BBAC. After securing a $2 billion to $3 billion loan from Turkey in March, the Kurdistan Regional Government has requested additional loans from Ankara, but the terms and exact amount remain unclear.
Overcoming Obstacles

With a growing deficit of more than $6 billion and no resolution with Baghdad in sight, the Kurdistan Regional Government is desperate to generate enough revenue on its own from oil sales to cover basic expenses. But that is easier said than done. The Kurdish government has already been trying to convince the market that any oil exported out of Iraqi Kurdistan constitutes a legal sale, even as Baghdad has threatened to fine and sue any company that bypasses the central government in such commercial transactions. The legality of Kurdish crude exports has only been compounded by the Kurds' seizure of fields in disputed territory.

Arbil has assumed that all it has to do is establish precedence in selling its oil to drown out Baghdad's threat. Unfortunately, only one of four tankers -- carrying roughly 100,000 barrels of Kurdish crude -- has been sold so far to a buyer out of Israel, while traders such as Glencore, Vitol and Trafigura have kept their distance. Turkey meanwhile announced July 18 that it is halting the flow of Kurdish oil through its pipeline to the port of Ceyhan because its storage tanks are already full with unsold Kurdish crude.

Click to Enlarge

Kurdish officials have lobbied firms throughout Europe in the hope of selling the remaining oil, but the Kurdistan Regional Government would then face the challenge of securing the funds from those sales. Fearing that firms would buy the oil but deposit the funds with Baghdad to avoid a legal morass, the Kurdistan Regional Government has put out messages threatening legal action against its own potential buyers since Baghdad will withhold those funds and deny the Kurdistan Regional Government its revenue. The key to Arbil's funds lies in Turkey's hands. Some $93 million from the first Kurdistan Regional Government crude sale by tanker is sitting in a Turkish Halkbank account. Arbil recently sent a delegation to try and secure those funds, but Ankara can be expected to proceed cautiously in releasing these funds as it tries to avoid incurring further wrath from Baghdad and Washington.

Turkey understands the enormous financial leverage it holds over the Kurdistan Regional Government as Arbil struggles to make its monthly payments. Turkey will selectively -- and stringently -- provide enough aid to allow Arbil to scrape by, but will also demand that Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani and his Kurdistan Democratic Party lay off their calls for independence. A nearly bankrupt Kurdistan Regional Government will have no choice but to heed these demands, but it is also not comfortable with its deep dependency on Turkey.

This sentiment appears to be growing within Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Factions of the party have already vocalized their unease with the policies of Barzani's party that have led Iraqi Kurdistan into a tight dependency with Turkey and an increasingly hostile relationship with Baghdad, Washington and Tehran. This intra-Kurdish tension grew deeper following the Kurdish Democratic Party's ousting of National Oil Co. officials from the Kirkuk fields. The Kurdish Democratic Party made it a point to use its own peshmerga forces and oil protection units to take control of Kirkuk's oil fields, largely edging the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan out. Also, local Arab and Turkomen resistance to Kurdish control over Kirkuk province is rising and will further complicate the regional government's hold over Kirkuk in the long term.

Informal networks and Turkish aid will enable the Kurdistan Regional Government to avoid financial collapse, but growing economic tensions will only exacerbate frictions among Iraq's Kurdish factions as the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan sees its own interests compromised by Kurdish Democratic Party policy. The longer Arbil holds out on a deal with Baghdad, the more financially dependent the Kurdistan Regional Party will be on Turkey and the more difficulty Kurdish parties will have in maintaining their patronage networks while under financial duress.

This provides Iran with an opportunity to further its already strong ties with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Gorran to counterbalance Turkey's sponsorship of Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party. Iran has already threatened to close its border with Iraqi Kurdistan to trade should Barzani proceed with his calls for independence, a move that would have significant economic repercussions for the regional government as a whole, but the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in particular. Through a carrot-and-stick approach, Iran will try to sow divisions among Kurdish parties, potentially offering financial and military assistance to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan while using its influence among the Iraqi Shia to grant political concessions and positions to cooperative Kurds in forming a new government. This may well be the subject of conversation when a Patriotic Union of Kurdistan delegation visits Iran in the coming days.

Read more: Iraqi Kurdistan's Financial Trap | Stratfor
78  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison on Universal Peace, 1792 on: July 21, 2014, 11:01:39 AM
"A universal peace, it is to be feared, is in the catalogue of events, which will never exist but in the imaginations of visionary philosophers, or in the breasts of benevolent enthusiasts." --James Madison, essay in the National Gazette, 1792
79  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: July 21, 2014, 09:47:19 AM
I confess to being surprised that this report is the only report I have seen of this so far , , ,
80  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Baraq signs $11B advanced arms sale to Qata deal-- WTF?!? on: July 20, 2014, 09:05:56 PM 
81  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Social media dis-intel on: July 20, 2014, 08:56:52 PM
82  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Father deals out justice on: July 20, 2014, 10:34:38 AM
83  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / I'm shocked, absolutely shocked! Who could have seen this coming? on: July 20, 2014, 10:28:46 AM
second post
84  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / McCarthy: Bipartisan fantasy on: July 20, 2014, 10:18:30 AM
85  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: July 20, 2014, 09:17:28 AM

Please post in the Military Science thread as well.
86  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Excellent piece by VDH on: July 20, 2014, 09:09:53 AM
87  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 20, 2014, 09:01:33 AM
As usual Krauthammer is superb.

And here is today's expression of what he writes:

Click here to watch: Hamas Announces it Will Give Grenades to All of Gaza's Youth
A Hamas spokesman announced that Hamas had manufactured 250,000 hand grenades that would be given to Gazan youth to use to fight Israel instead of rocks. The IDF has released another video which shows how Hamas deliberately puts civilian lives in danger.
The video shows that Hamas hides weapons and missile launchers in densely populated areas and sends men, women and children directly into the line of fire to be used as human shields for terrorists. Hamas has openly boasted about the "success" of its strategy of using civilians as human shields during Operation Protective Edge, and the IDF has published extensive evidence of the practice. By contrast, the IDF has dropped leaflets, sent phone messages, and issued general warnings to all civilians within range of upcoming airstrikes to prevent further harm. The IDF has also called off attacks upon realizing that there are innocent civilians in the area or, as shown in the video below, when seeing the terrorist target enter an ambulance.
Watch Here
The UN agency for Palestinian Arab “refugees,” UNRWA, has caused outrage by apparently giving rockets to Hamas. On Thursday, UNRWA confirmed that 20 rockets had been found in one of its vacant schools in Gaza. UNRWA staff said last week that they had “informed the relevant parties and successfully took all necessary measures for the removal of the objects.” However, Channel 2 reports Sunday that - rather than destroying the rockets - UNRWA workers called Hamas to come remove them. Hamas has fired over 1,500 rockets at Israeli population centers over the past two weeks. Any new rockets would presumably be used in similar attacks. While UNRWA confirmed the existence of rockets in one of its schools last week, the organization refused an Israeli request to provide a picture of the weapons. A picture could have helped Israel show that Hamas uses civilian institutions to store weapons and launch attacks. Hamas has openly used human shields in its latest conflict with Israel. The terrorist group issued a statement Thursday urging Gaza residents to ignore IDF warnings to evacuate their homes. Earlier, Hamas gathered civilians to stand on the roof of a senior terrorist’s home in order to deter an IDF strike.
Read More Here: Arutz Sheva
88  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 20, 2014, 08:55:10 AM
The flaw in Newt's piece is that he assumes Obama wants America to be America, that he wants America to succeed.
89  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Marine Commandant agrees with me ;-) on: July 20, 2014, 08:39:18 AM
90  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: July 20, 2014, 08:34:25 AM
OK, folks, what do we make of that?
91  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Music on: July 20, 2014, 08:32:08 AM
The show wherein I saw him was an Electric Hot Tuna show and he was invited onstage to join the set.

Frankly to my ear he often did not play with much heart, instead more with volume and speed and with a competitive attitude with Jorma.
92  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Goldberg File on: July 18, 2014, 05:52:41 PM
The Goldberg File
By Jonah Goldberg
July 18, 2014

Dear Reader (including the president of the United States whenever he gets to this after dealing with many important fundraisers),

If you've been reading my stuff over the years, you'll find a number of common themes ("And recycled jokes. Let's not forget those." — The Couch). One such theme is that liberalism hides behind seemingly value-neutral or benign language in order to advance a value-laden and not necessarily benign agenda. That was the basic idea behind The Tyranny of Clichés. Conservatives argue as conservatives. Liberals tend to argue not so much as liberals, but in a variety of disguises, each of which tries to draw on authority unearned by liberalism itself. Indeed, the history of American liberalism can be understood as a series of costume changes. A new nominally non-ideological discipline emerges — political science, engineering, public health, psychology, environmentalism, neuroscience and, these days, various forms of data prestidigitation — and liberals flock to it. They don the latest fashionable version of the white smock and say — à la Bill Murray in Ghostbusters — "back off man, we're scientists." Or to be more fair, they claim to be speaking for the scientists, engineers, psychologists, and other experts. "We're not ideologues, we go with the facts." This game was old when Walter Lippmann came out with his Drift and Mastery. After all, Karl Marx, the Babe Ruth of this sport, had long before insisted that his shtick wasn't opinion or even mere analysis, but a new science.

In 1962, John F. Kennedy delivered the commencement address at Yale. He explained that "political labels and ideological approaches are irrelevant to the solution" of today's challenges. At a press conference the same year, he expanded on the idea. "Most of the problems . . . that we now face, are technical problems, are administrative problems." These problems "deal with questions which are now beyond the comprehension of most men" and should therefore be left to the experts to settle without subjecting them to divisive democratic debate.

Today, the political landscape is littered with earnest, well-intentioned, and often, incredibly sanctimonious liberals who insist that they are simply pursuing truth and fact regardless of ideology. This, of course, remains Obama's favorite pose. It runs through the "scientific consensus" argle-bargle on global warming. When Chris Hughes took over what has long been considered the flagship magazine of American liberalism, he ridiculously vowed that, "the journalism in these pages will strive to be free of party ideology or partisan bias." The same conceit is behind and "explanatory journalism," which everyday sinks further and further into liberal Ronburgundyism. (Coming soon at Vox: "Fifteen Reasons Why San Diego Really Does Mean 'Whale's Vagina' in German — And Why That Has To Change.")

It's Biden's Party

Speaking of Ron Burgundyism, remember Joe Biden's vice-presidential debate with Paul Ryan? He'd flash those teeth like a flounder that accidentally picked up a set of dentures. He'd laugh like the crazy guy on the bus who knows the driver is really following the chem trails in the sky because you can still get a Snickers bar for less than a dollar. He'd guffaw at any suggestion he or the president did anything wrong — ever — and shout "malarkey" at the idiots and knaves who thought otherwise. And, sadly, it largely worked. I'm beginning to think Biden was simply ahead of his time. So much of elite liberalism these days is little more than bluster and self-satisfied blather.

For instance, I am so disappointed in John Oliver's HBO show, Last Week Tonight. I like Oliver's stand-up and his stints on Community. But his approach is simply Bidenism refined. The show begins from the premise that liberal conventional wisdom is not only right but obviously so and then simply works backward to "prove it." In Britain, populist tabloids are condemned by people of Oliver's persuasion for simply confirming the prejudices of the working class. Last Week Tonight is a similar effort for the more upscale — and often more prejudiced — HBO demographic. He doesn't tell his audience anything it doesn't want to hear, he just gives them new and occasionally funny reasons to feel good about themselves. The only difference between his show and the typical MSNBC host's is that Oliver is funny on purpose.

The Dogma Business

Anyway, I kind of wandered off from where I planned on going with all of this. For the record, I'm not saying that politicians, pundits, and other partisans should not consult the opinions of scientists and other experts. Of course they — we — should. We learn new and interesting things all of the time. What I am saying is that liberalism is constantly rebranding itself as solely an explanation of reality and it constantly needs to rebrand itself because reality keeps revealing that it isn't.

What worries me — a lot — is that reality is coming to the rescue of liberalism. No, I don't mean that the crooked timber of humanity has grown straight or that it now
makes sense that the Pentagon hold bake sales to pay for bombers. What I mean is that progressives are quicker to seize on the political opportunities created by a changing culture.

What is commonly called "political correctness" doesn't get the respect it deserves on the right. Sure, in the herstory of political correctness there have been womyn and cis-men who have taken their seminal ovulal ideas too far, but we should not render ourselves visually challenged to the fact that something more fundawomyntal is at work here.

Political correctness can actually be seen as an example of Hayekian spontaneous order. Society has changed, because society always changes. But modern American society has changed a lot. In a relatively short period of time, legal and cultural equality has expanded — albeit not uniformly or perfectly — to blacks, women, and gays. We are a more heterodox society in almost every way. As a result, many of our customs, norms, and terms no longer line up neatly with lived-reality. Remember customs emerge as intangible tools to solve real needs. When the real needs change, the customs must either adapt or die.

Many conservatives think political correctness forced Christianity and traditional morality to recede from public life. That is surely part of the story. But another part of the story is that political correctness emerged because Christianity and traditional morality receded. Something had to fill the void.

I wish more conservatives recognized that at least some of what passes for political correctness is an attempt to create new manners and mores for the places in life where the old ones no longer work too well. You can call it "political correctness" that Americans stopped calling black people "negroes." But that wouldn't make the change wrong or even objectionable. You might think it's regrettable that homosexuality has become mainstreamed and largely de-stigmatized. But your regret doesn't change the fact that it has happened. And well-mannered people still need to know how to show respect to people.

Identity politics is only part of the story, and not even the most important part. Medical, technological, and economic changes are almost surely far more important than changing demographics alone. A society where individuals are vastly more autonomous than they were a century ago is simply going to have different codes of conduct and manners. The telephone, television, and the car did more to liberate young people from the moral cocoon of their families and communities than any libertine intellectual fad (you can be sure that driverless cars, for instance, will change society in unimaginable ways). Democrats recognize this, which is why they've cynically exploited changes in family structure, female labor participation, and reproductive technology and declared that Republicans have declared war on women. It's not remotely true, but it is effective.

Now, I don't actually think Christianity is necessarily inadequate to the task of keeping up with the changes of contemporary society. (The pagan Roman civilization Christianity emerged from was certainly less hospitable to Christianity than America today is. You could look it up.) But Christianity, like other religions, still needs to adapt to changing times and the evolving expectations of the people. I'm nothing like an expert on such things, but it seems to me that most churches and denominations understand this. Some respond more successfully than others. But it's hardly as if they are oblivious to the challenge of "relevance."

My concern here is more about mainstream conservatism. I think much of what the Left offers in terms of culture creation is utter crap. But they are at least in the business of culture creation.

The New Manners

And that brings me back to where I started. I began this "news"letter talking about how liberalism hides behind seemingly non-ideological language in order to advance an ideological cause. Think of political correctness in those terms. Progressives are steadily dismantling the beautiful cathedrals of traditional manners and customs, arguing that they're too Baroque, too antiquated. They use the sledgehammer of liberation rhetoric to destroy the old edifices, but their fidelity to liberty is purely rhetorical. In place of the old cathedrals they build supposedly functional, modern, and utilitarian codes of conduct. But these Brutalist codes are not only unlovely, they are often more prudish than traditional approaches. Like some Six Sigma seminar participants holed up in a Holiday Inn conference room, Harvard is currently gathering its finest minds to draw up the procedures for sexual conduct and consent. The end result will surely be a clipboard check-list to rival that of any Jiffy Lube manager's in both romantic appeal and sexiness.

What I would like to see from conservatives is recognition that some of the cathedrals are outdated. But instead of arguing that they should be razed and replaced with Jacobin Temples of Reason with rites and rituals grounded in abstraction, why not argue for some long overdue updating and retrofitting? I guarantee you more women prefer a modified version of the traditional process of wooing, courting, and dating before sex than the "modern" schizophrenic system of getting drunk enough for a same-day hook up but not so inebriated to forget to get a signature on the consent form. Traditional notions of romance and respect are far better tools than the mumbo-jumbo campus feminists have to offer. The problem is that the mumbo-jumbo feminists are fighting largely uncontested.
93  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dem Congressman calls out Qatar/Al Jazeera's support of Hamas on: July 18, 2014, 05:44:17 PM
Second post

Democratic Congressman Calls Out Qatar's Hamas Support on Al-Jazeera America
by John Rossomando
IPT News
July 18, 2014
A congressman's recent criticism of Al-Jazeera America's Qatari owners for funding of Hamas has renewed questions about the network's journalistic integrity.
Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also slammed the network's coverage of the latest round of fighting between Hamas and Israel during his July 9 appearance on the network.

"Every one of those rockets [fired by Hamas into Israeli cities] is a war crime, almost every one," Sherman said, noting that Hamas seeks to hit civilian targets. "Of course it's a war crime committed by Hamas. And of course the owners of this TV network help fund Hamas."

Allegations have floated for years about members of the Qatari royal family meddling in editorial decisions of Al-Jazeera's Doha-based English-language sister network. A State Department cable from December 2009 stated that Qatar was using Al-Jazeera as "an informal tool … of foreign policy."

This lack of editorial independence came into focus in 2011, when Qatari superiors ordered the re-editing of a two-minute video package that appeared on Al-Jazeera English. Qatari network officials modified the segment to ensure that comments by Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani at the United Nations led the segment, even though staffers judged Al-Thani's comments as being less important than other speakers that day, such as President Barack Obama.

Al-Jazeera America strives to publicly distance itself from its Qatari parents and portray its product as "unbiased, fact-based … in-depth journalism." A look at its coverage of the current Gaza conflict, however, calls its claim of being unbiased into question.

The network's pro-Hamas slant has been exhibited in its disproportionate emphasis on deaths of Palestinian civilians without almost any critical mention of Hamas's intentional use of human shields – considered a war crime under international law.

Similarly, Al-Jazeera America reporters have made scant reference to the terrorists' use of densely populated areas to fire rockets or of Israel's warning civilians to leave targeted areas prior to bombing.

For example, a July 15 segment of its program "Consider This" focused on the plight of Palestinian children in Gaza. Moderator Wajahat Ali omitted any reference to how the terrorist group endangers children's lives. Ali repeated the mantra about Gaza's population density without a single reference to how Hamas uses mosques and civilian buildings to launch rockets.

During his appearance on the network, Sherman also slammed Al-Jazeera America for dismissing Hamas' threat to Israeli civilians because their rockets had not killed anyone at a kindergarten in Israel.

"… [Y]ou on this TV station say, 'well maybe it's not a war crime because it's not successful, the rocket didn't hit a kindergarten – it was aimed at a kindergarten but it didn't hit a kindergarten – so then it's not reprehensible,'" Sherman said.

U.S. officials have harbored concerns about the Qatari royal family for years and even interceded to stop some of the money it sent to Hamas.

A confidential State Department cable from February 2006 describes former Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, who founded Al-Jazeera by a royal decree in 1996, as a "a big friend of Hamas." He notably pledged $400 million to Hamas's cash-strapped government in Gaza during an October 2012 state visit. However, recent reports indicate that the U.S. blocked the transfer of money to Hamas.

Back in 2006, Al-Thani gave $50 million to the then Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.

Al-Thani may have abdicated in 2013 in favor of his son, but the change has not lessened Qatar's financial commitment to Hamas. Qatar's Prime Minister Abdullah bin Naser bin Khalifa Al Thani announced in June that Qatar would give Hamas $60 million to pay the salaries of its civil servants in Gaza.

That kind of open support frustrates American diplomats.

"Officials should make known USG concerns about the financial support to Hamas by Qatari charitable organizations and our concerns about the moral support Hamas receives from Yousef Al-Qaradawi [a popular Muslim Brotherhood cleric living in Qatar]," U.S. Ambassador to Qatar Joseph E. Lebaron wrote in a 2009 secret cable to Washington. He also made clear "high-level Qatari political support is needed" to curtail terror financing.

Hamas received much of its money in Qatar through charitable foundations or popular committees, Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal told Al-Hayat in 2003. Meshaal noted that Qatari TV occasionally organized days when it would collect donations to assist the intifada happening at the time.

Qatar twice provided sanctuary to Meshaal after he wore out his welcome elsewhere. Jordan kicked him out in 1999, and he had to leave Damascus in 2011 after relations between Hamas and the Assad regime soured over the Syrian civil war. Qatar has allowed Hamas to maintain offices in Doha for years.

Qatar Charity, formerly the Qatar Charitable Society and also controlled by the Qatari royal family, has long been suspected of maintaining close ties with Hamas. A secret cable from July 2003 suggests that the charity likely had ties to Hamas. The charity collaborated with the Hamas Ministry of Education 2009 to build schools, according to the Daily Mail. Such schools indoctrinate children with pro-jihadist propaganda.

Osama bin Laden discussed Qatar Charity in 1993 as an important fundraising source for al-Qaida – underscoring its long history of funding terrorism.

Another example of Qatar's complicity with Hamas fundraising has been in its allowing Qaradawi, who heads the Union of Good, to operate within its borders. Treasury Department officials stated in a November 2008 press release that Hamas's leadership created Union of Good in 2000 shortly before the start of the second Intifada to "facilitate the transfer of funds to Hamas."

Qaradawi has hosted a program on Al-Jazeera's Arabic channel where he has advocated Palestinian suicide bombings.

Al-Jazeera America came into being after the Al-Jazeera Media Network purchased Current TV from former Vice President Al Gore and other investors in January 2013. Worries about Qatar using Al-Jazeera America as a propaganda tool surfaced almost immediately.

Al-Jazeera America interim CEO Ehab Al Shihabi fought back hard against those accusations in May. "I am not Qatar. I don't represent Qatar," Al Shihabi told the Paley Center for Media. "I am, you know, separate from Qatar government. I took a grant like what [the] BBC has."

"And the whole concept exercise really is built up on the asset of Al-Jazeera Media Network," he added, "and if I'm not successful to build up on that asset that means I am not a right business person."

Other than Al Shihabi, all of the network's top executives are Americans who previously worked for American networks such as CNN or ABC.

Questions about Al-Jazeera America's editorial independence and slant persist, despite those American hires.

Temple University journalism professor Christopher Harper, a veteran reporter who has covered the Middle East since 1979, noted in a column following the network's launch last August that Al-Jazeera America was not about news, and that its product reminded him of Soviet propaganda. Al-Jazeera America gave Qatar a "seat at the political table in the United States," Harper wrote, adding that it was not likely to make money in the already crowded cable news market.

He has proven correct thus far. Its viewership has been practically non-existent, averaging 15,000 viewers during prime time.

Al-Jazeera America's uncritical coverage of the Hamas-linked Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)'s effort to weaken the terrorism watch list is one example of the slanted coverage. The FBI cut off contact with CAIR in 2008, based on evidence it uncovered tying CAIR and its founders to a Hamas support network. A federal judge also ruled in 2009 that the evidence established "at least a prima facie case as to CAIR's involvement in a conspiracy to support Hamas."

Al-Jazeera America anchor John Siegenthaler Jr. interviewed CAIR-NY board member Lamis Deek on June 25 concerning a federal judge's ruling that the watch list was unconstitutional. Siegenthaler never asked Deek about the national-security considerations stemming from the judge's ruling and seemed to sympathize with CAIR's position.

"I think it is simply providing one side of a story. It doesn't rise to Soviet propaganda, but it certainly is propaganda for one side," Harper told the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

A July 10 broadcast of the network's program "Inside Story" hosted by longtime former National Public Radio announcer Ray Suarez provides another example of this slant.
Suarez sought to discuss the failure of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, except for one critical part of the story – someone to present Israel's perspective.
Peace would be possible, Suarez and his three guests agreed, if only Israel were to cooperate with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

None of the guests, including Gershon Baskin, head of the Israel-Palestinian Think Tank; Aziz Abu Sarah of the Middle East Justice & Development Initiative; or former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Dan Kurtzer, made any reference to Hamas' refusal to renounce violence or its commitment to Israel's destruction, nor provocations by members of the Palestinian Authority calling Israel the occupied "1948 lands," nor Abbas's statements of solidarity with Hamas as far back as 2009.

Suarez noted that Baskin had past contacts with Hamas and proceeded to ask him how he would handle peace negotiations with the terrorist group, regardless of the fact that Hamas's charter and recent statements show it has no desire for peace with Israel. The host then referred to Palestinian terrorism as the "armed struggle" – a term Hamas leaders use to describe their terror attacks against Israelis.

Abu Sarah suggested that Palestinians should consider a one-state solution where Palestinians and Jews would live side by side in the same state – something he said "would mean the end of the Jewish state."

Suarez's political bias has been well-known for years. He narrated an April 2007 PBS documentary, "America at a Crossroads: The Muslim Americans," which dismissed CAIR's links to terrorists as the work of "a small band of conservative and pro-Israeli groups, who accuse it of having an extremist agenda."

"There have also been claims that some members of CAIR have terrorist links. But there have been no charges linked to CAIR itself," Suarez said.

Information about CAIR's extremism was readily available at the time the documentary aired. These included CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad's 1994 endorsement of Hamas; convictions of CAIR leaders such as Randal "Ismail" Royer and Ghassan Elashi; and its opposition to terrorism investigations.

Conservative journalist Cliff Kincaid questions why Al-Jazeera America continues to operate despite Qatar's terror ties and argues that it should be labeled foreign propaganda.

"Al-Jazeera's entry into the U.S. media market, in violation of the law, was tantamount to giving American broadcast facilities during World War II to 'Tokyo Rose' and 'Axis Sally,'" Kincaid said. "Its broadcasts in the U.S. are not being labeled by cable and satellite providers as foreign propaganda under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
"In addition, the deal was not reported to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) of the Treasury Department, in violation of the law."

Clearly, the terror ties of Al-Jazeera America's Qatari owners should be further examined by U.S. regulatory authorities and members of Congress because many questions remain to be answered regarding the network's independence from foreign control.
94  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt Gingrich: The Tranquility of Baraq's Mind on: July 18, 2014, 05:40:53 PM
The Tranquility of President Obama's Mind
Originally published at

When new White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that President Obama had "substantially improved the tranquility of the international community" many observers reacted with disbelief.
When the President refused to go to the border to see the crisis of young people flooding into the United States because "he's not interested in photo ops," lesser mortals noted he had played pool with Governor Hickenlooper, dropped by a brewery to have a beer, and shook hands with a man wearing a horse head mask.
When he went to Delaware and opened with only a few sentences about the shooting down of a Malaysian Airliner in Ukraine before joking about Joe Biden and going back to his prepared text on infrastructure, real Americans thought he had failed to take seriously an international disaster and mass murder. They were even less impressed when he had lunch at the Charcoal Pit and ordered burgers and fries (not a photo op, of course).

With ISIS causing the collapse of Iraq and continued violence in Syria, the Syrian dictatorship consolidating its power, the Iranians failing to take steps to end their nuclear weapons program and Hamas firing more than a thousand missiles at Israel, the President and his team have moved decisively to brief the New York Times on his passion for late night intellectual dinners exploring physics, architecture, and questions far more profound than the fate of the Middle East.

It is as though the more dangerous the world becomes the more Obama hides in a fantasy world of avoiding the responsibilities of the presidency by using the office to surround himself with court jesters who distract him in an enlightened and noble way from the growing failures of his policies and the rapidly expanding threats to the civilized world.

Finally, as Vladimir Putin continues to flex his muscles and expand his policies there is a psychologically bizarre pattern of the President's staff referring to Obama as "the Bear.”

The President refers to himself when he asserts that "the Bear is loose." Of course with a President who last week used “I”, “my” or “mine” 207 times in one speech, we can expect him to refer to himself but the concept is beyond bizarre. The White House staff, thinking somehow that this was clever, promptly turned the phrase into a Twitter hashtag, “#TheBearIsLoose”.

Obama's idea of a loose bear is an unplanned walk to a Starbucks near the White House. Putin's idea of a loose bear is stealing Crimea. Obama's idea of risk-taking is shooting pool with a Democratic Governor. Putin's idea of risk-taking is handing out anti-aircraft missiles to separatists in Ukraine. Putin’s actions remind us of a time when America was threatened by a real metaphorical bear, as a 1984 Reagan campaign ad referred to the Soviet Union.

The very self-image of Obama as a bear is so delusional that it brings into question the degree to which he is simply out of touch with reality.

Which brings us back to the Josh Earnest quote about tranquility in the international community.

What Josh Earnest is channeling is Obama's personal tranquility.

From his perch in the amazingly Obama-centric world in which our president lives, look again at what the rest of us think of as serious problems.

Have any of the thousand-plus Hamas missiles been aimed at Obama? No. That is why Obama is tranquil.

Have any of the thousands who are crossing the border tried to move into the White House? No. That is why Obama is tranquil.

Is ISIS an immediate threat to the United States that is likely to blow up the next golf course the President is playing at? No. That is why Obama is tranquil.

If you can reduce your presidency to a Starbucks visit, a man with a horse head mask, shooting pool and visiting Joe Biden's burger joint for lunch you can have a very successful presidency as you have defined it, even if the real world is disintegrating.

The President’s detachment from reality is fast infecting the rest of his party. How else can we explain fellow Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stating this week that “the border is secure”?

This "tranquility" line was a Freudian slip by the President's spokesman that reveals the deep gap between reality and the Obama White House.

President Obama is rapidly becoming the weakest president since James Buchanan failed to stop the drift toward Civil War.  Self-delusion and a rich fantasy life are dangerous in a president. They often lead to disasters that are unimaginable until they happen.  That is what we have to worry about for the next two years until he leaves public office for a private fantasy land.

Your Friend,
95  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen. Warren and the Ex-Im bank on: July 18, 2014, 05:13:49 PM
96  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pelosi's son on: July 18, 2014, 11:26:11 AM
97  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Chinese Gold strategy on: July 18, 2014, 10:47:37 AM

Scott Grannis:  Buying up trillions of forex and gold reserves is not necessarily a smart thing to do, especially when your currency has been appreciating against almost every other currencies for over 20 years. China's forex losses alone could be staggeringly large. And I'll bet they bought a lot of gold at higher prices than today's. Not to mention what they might lose on their trillions of Treasury holdings if Treasury yields jump.

Japan did something similar back in the day, and it proved to be extraordinarily painful.

On Jul 18, 2014, at 4:43 AM, "XYZ" wrote:

I can only say, that Chinese gold holdings are rising, their aim is to exceed US reserves, or at least have the second highest gold reserve. Their sole goal is to compete and beat the US in every sphere. be superpower number 1. Whether they succeed,  is open to discussion.

"ABC" wrote:

Thanks to all for your comments and articles.  Not too long ago I was told by a devoted conspiracy theorist sleuth that China was buying up tons of gold in order to make the Yuan 'gold based' and a (the) potential reserve currency.  I told him that wasn't likely and sent the following article which I post below.
98  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / McDaniels' request denied by Supreme Court of Mississippi on: July 18, 2014, 10:16:45 AM 
99  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CNN reporter in Gaza on: July 18, 2014, 10:13:35 AM 
100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: July 18, 2014, 10:09:41 AM
I saw Hillary making a politically astute move the other day.  She spoke in terms of being proud of America and that we have a great story to tell and that we just have to tell it.   Great way to appeal to every one who was offended by the Apology Tour and to subtly begin to separate herself from Obama's foreign policy.  Yes, yes I know it really was hers in great part and she stayed on board for it, but politically the theme looks to work well for her.
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 613
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!