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Archive for July, 2007

When I saw where this came from I needed to read it twice to make sure I was not going crazy. But this story comes from the NY TIMES of all places. I am surprised they printed this. Its just not their MO. Even though this is an OP-Ed piece.

By MICHAEL E. O’HANLON and KENNETH M. POLLACK
Published: July 30, 2007

VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

After the furnace-like heat, the first thing you notice when you land in Baghdad is the morale of our troops. In previous trips to Iraq we often found American troops angry and frustrated — many sensed they had the wrong strategy, were using the wrong tactics and were risking their lives in pursuit of an approach that could not work.

Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.

Everywhere, Army and Marine units were focused on securing the Iraqi population, working with Iraqi security units, creating new political and economic arrangements at the local level and providing basic services — electricity, fuel, clean water and sanitation — to the people. Yet in each place, operations had been appropriately tailored to the specific needs of the community. As a result, civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began — though they remain very high, underscoring how much more still needs to be done.

In Ramadi, for example, we talked with an outstanding Marine captain whose company was living in harmony in a complex with a (largely Sunni) Iraqi police company and a (largely Shiite) Iraqi Army unit. He and his men had built an Arab-style living room, where he met with the local Sunni sheiks — all formerly allies of Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups — who were now competing to secure his friendship.

In Baghdad’s Ghazaliya neighborhood, which has seen some of the worst sectarian combat, we walked a street slowly coming back to life with stores and shoppers. The Sunni residents were unhappy with the nearby police checkpoint, where Shiite officers reportedly abused them, but they seemed genuinely happy with the American soldiers and a mostly Kurdish Iraqi Army company patrolling the street. The local Sunni militia even had agreed to confine itself to its compound once the Americans and Iraqi units arrived.

We traveled to the northern cities of Tal Afar and Mosul. This is an ethnically rich area, with large numbers of Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens. American troop levels in both cities now number only in the hundreds because the Iraqis have stepped up to the plate. Reliable police officers man the checkpoints in the cities, while Iraqi Army troops cover the countryside. A local mayor told us his greatest fear was an overly rapid American departure from Iraq. All across the country, the dependability of Iraqi security forces over the long term remains a major question mark.

But for now, things look much better than before. American advisers told us that many of the corrupt and sectarian Iraqi commanders who once infested the force have been removed. The American high command assesses that more than three-quarters of the Iraqi Army battalion commanders in Baghdad are now reliable partners (at least for as long as American forces remain in Iraq).

In addition, far more Iraqi units are well integrated in terms of ethnicity and religion. The Iraqi Army’s highly effective Third Infantry Division started out as overwhelmingly Kurdish in 2005. Today, it is 45 percent Shiite, 28 percent Kurdish, and 27 percent Sunni Arab.

In the past, few Iraqi units could do more than provide a few “jundis” (soldiers) to put a thin Iraqi face on largely American operations. Today, in only a few sectors did we find American commanders complaining that their Iraqi formations were useless — something that was the rule, not the exception, on a previous trip to Iraq in late 2005.

The additional American military formations brought in as part of the surge, General Petraeus’s determination to hold areas until they are truly secure before redeploying units, and the increasing competence of the Iraqis has had another critical effect: no more whack-a-mole, with insurgents popping back up after the Americans leave.

In war, sometimes it’s important to pick the right adversary, and in Iraq we seem to have done so. A major factor in the sudden change in American fortunes has been the outpouring of popular animus against Al Qaeda and other Salafist groups, as well as (to a lesser extent) against Moktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.

These groups have tried to impose Shariah law, brutalized average Iraqis to keep them in line, killed important local leaders and seized young women to marry off to their loyalists. The result has been that in the last six months Iraqis have begun to turn on the extremists and turn to the Americans for security and help. The most important and best-known example of this is in Anbar Province, which in less than six months has gone from the worst part of Iraq to the best (outside the Kurdish areas). Today the Sunni sheiks there are close to crippling Al Qaeda and its Salafist allies. Just a few months ago, American marines were fighting for every yard of Ramadi; last week we strolled down its streets without body armor.

Another surprise was how well the coalition’s new Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Teams are working. Wherever we found a fully staffed team, we also found local Iraqi leaders and businessmen cooperating with it to revive the local economy and build new political structures. Although much more needs to be done to create jobs, a new emphasis on microloans and small-scale projects was having some success where the previous aid programs often built white elephants.

In some places where we have failed to provide the civilian manpower to fill out the reconstruction teams, the surge has still allowed the military to fashion its own advisory groups from battalion, brigade and division staffs. We talked to dozens of military officers who before the war had known little about governance or business but were now ably immersing themselves in projects to provide the average Iraqi with a decent life.

Outside Baghdad, one of the biggest factors in the progress so far has been the efforts to decentralize power to the provinces and local governments. But more must be done. For example, the Iraqi National Police, which are controlled by the Interior Ministry, remain mostly a disaster. In response, many towns and neighborhoods are standing up local police forces, which generally prove more effective, less corrupt and less sectarian. The coalition has to force the warlords in Baghdad to allow the creation of neutral security forces beyond their control.

In the end, the situation in Iraq remains grave. In particular, we still face huge hurdles on the political front. Iraqi politicians of all stripes continue to dawdle and maneuver for position against one another when major steps towards reconciliation — or at least accommodation — are needed. This cannot continue indefinitely. Otherwise, once we begin to downsize, important communities may not feel committed to the status quo, and Iraqi security forces may splinter along ethnic and religious lines.

How much longer should American troops keep fighting and dying to build a new Iraq while Iraqi leaders fail to do their part? And how much longer can we wear down our forces in this mission? These haunting questions underscore the reality that the surge cannot go on forever. But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.

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O.G.’s better hire some good lawyers for real this time!
Fort Worth, TX is using the court system just a tad differently.
Here’s the full story.

Cities sue gangs in bid to stop violence

By ANGELA K. BROWN FORT WORTH, Texas – Fed up with deadly drive-by shootings, incessant drug dealing and graffiti, cities nationwide are trying a different tactic to combat gangs: They’re suing them.

Fort Worth and San Francisco are among the latest to file lawsuits against gang members, asking courts for injunctions barring them from hanging out together on street corners, in cars or anywhere else in certain areas.

The injunctions are aimed at disrupting gang activity before it can escalate. They also give police legal reasons to stop and question gang members, who often are found with drugs or weapons, authorities said. In some cases, they don’t allow gang members to even talk to people passing in cars or to carry spray paint.

“It is another tool,” said Kevin Rousseau, a Tarrant County assistant prosecutor in Fort Worth, which recently filed its first civil injunction against a gang. “This is more of a proactive approach.”

But hold on folks! Guess who is opposed to this action to keep criminals off the street!
Yep the good ole ACLU!

But critics say such lawsuits go too far, limiting otherwise lawful activities and unfairly targeting minority youth.

“If you’re barring people from talking in the streets, it’s difficult to tell if they’re gang members or if they’re people discussing issues,” said Peter Bibring, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. “And it’s all the more troubling because it doesn’t seem to be effective.”

OHHH NOOOO!!! How dare you try to keep gangmembers from talking to each
other! lol The ACLU says it doesn’t seem to be effective! No? Well the journalist
seems to say so!

Los Angeles now has 33 permanent injunctions involving 50 gangs, and studies have shown they do reduce crime, said Jonathan Diamond, a spokesman for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.

The injunctions prohibit gang members from associating with each other, carrying weapons, possessing drugs, committing crimes and displaying gang symbols in a safety zone — neighborhoods where suspected gang members live and are most active. Some injunctions set curfews for members and ban them from possessing alcohol in public areas — even if they’re of legal drinking age.

Those who disobey the order face a misdemeanor charge and up to a year in jail. Prosecutors say the possibility of a jail stay — however short — is a strong deterrent, even for gang members who’ve already served hard time for other crimes.

“Seven months in jail is a big penalty for sitting on the front porch or riding in the car with your gang buddies,” said Kinley Hegglund, senior assistant city attorney for Wichita Falls.

Last summer, Wichita Falls sued 15 members of the Varrio Carnales gang after escalating violence with a rival gang, including about 50 drive-by shootings in less than a year in that North Texas city of 100,000.

Since then, crime has dropped about 13 percent in the safety zone and real estate values are climbing, Hegglund said.

Crime has dropped about 13 percent! Real Estate values are going up! Sounds like it works to me! But wait! There is another dissenting voice against suing the gangsters!

Usamah Anderson, 30, of Fort Worth, said he began stealing cars and got involved with gangs as a homeless 11-year-old. He was arrested numerous times for theft and spent time in juvenile facilities.

Anderson says if a civil injunction had been in place then, he and his friends would have simply moved outside the safety zone.

“That’s the life you live, so you’re going to find a way to maneuver around it,” said Anderson, a truck driver who abandoned the gang life about seven years ago and has started a church to help young gang members.

Of course! I mean busting caps in the hood is always much better! At least you’re forced to take the battles somewhere maybe where little innocent children aren’t struck by stray bullets, you know!

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I see and hear alot from loonie left-wing nutjobs on various loonie left-wing nutjobs sites that Bush is a fascist dictator this and Giullini is that too. Funny. Just plain hilarious. However today I came about an article in today’s London’s DailyMail. Please read the article in its entirety. You can view the original here.
Now the articles title and first couple of pargraphs is somewhat bizzare as it describes a youth movement in Russia called “Nashi”, however finish it out and you will see what is really behind this youth movement’s purpose is. Now, the question of the day is folks, can anybody tell me any similarities (besides Bush, loonie left-wing nutjobs) is to America?

Sex for the motherland: Russian youths encouraged to procreate at
camp

By EDWARD LUCAS – Remember the mammoths, say the clean-cut organisers
at the youth camp’s mass wedding. “They became extinct because they did not have enough sex. That must not happen to Russia”.
Obediently, couples move to a special section of dormitory tents arranged in a heart-shape and called the Love Oasis, where they can start procreating for the motherland.

With its relentlessly upbeat tone, bizarre ideas and tight control, it sounds like a weird indoctrination session for a phoney religious cult.

But this organisation – known as “Nashi”, meaning “Ours” – is youth movement run by Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin that has become a central part of Russian political life. Nashi’s annual camp, 200 miles outside Moscow, is attended by 10,000 uniformed youngsters and involves two weeks of lectures and physical fitness.

Attendance is monitored via compulsory electronic badges and anyone who misses three events is expelled. So are drinkers; alcohol is banned. But sex is encouraged, and condoms are nowhere on sale.

Bizarrely, young women are encouraged to hand in thongs and other skimpy underwear – supposedly a cause of sterility – and given more wholesome and substantial undergarments.

Twenty-five couples marry at the start of the camp’s first week and ten more at the start of the second. These mass weddings, the ultimate expression of devotion to the motherland, are legal and conducted by a civil official. Attempting to raise Russia’s dismally low birthrate even by eccentric-seeming means might be understandable. Certainly, the country’s demographic outlook is dire. The hard-drinking, hardsmoking and disease-ridden population is set to plunge by a million a year in the next decade.

But the real aim of the youth camp – and the 100,000-strong movement behind it – is not to improve Russia’s demographic profile, but to attack democracy. Under Mr Putin, Russia is sliding into fascism, with state control of the economy, media, politics and society becoming increasingly heavy-handed. And Nashi, along with other similar youth movements, such as ‘Young Guard’, and ‘Young Russia’, is in the forefront of the charge.

At the start, it was all too easy to mock. I attended an early event run by its predecessor, ‘Walking together’, in the heart of Moscow in 2000. A motley collection of youngsters were collecting ‘unpatriotic’ works of fiction for destruction.
It was sinister in theory, recalling the Nazis’ book-burning in the 1930s, but it was laughable in practice. There was no sign of ordinary members of the public handing in books (the copies piled on the pavement had been brought by the organisers).
Once the television cameras had left, the event organisers admitted that they were not really volunteers, but being paid by “sponsors”. The idea that Russia’s anarchic, apathetic youth would ever be attracted into a disciplined mass movement in support of their president – what critics called a “Putinjugend”, recalling the “Hitlerjugend” (German for “Hitler Youth”) – seemed fanciful.

How wrong we were. Life for young people in Russia without connections is a mixture of inadequate and corrupt education, and a choice of boring dead-end jobs. Like the Hitler Youth and the Soviet Union’s Young Pioneers, Nashi and its allied movements offer not just excitement, friendship and a sense of purpose – but a leg up in life, too.

Nashi’s senior officials – known, in an eerie echo of the Soviet era, as “Commissars” – get free places at top universities. Thereafter, they can expect good jobs in politics or business – which in Russia nowadays, under the Kremlin’s crony capitalism, are increasingly the same thing. Nashi and similar outfits are the Kremlin’s first line of defence against its greatest fear: real democracy. Like the sheep chanting “Four legs good, two legs bad” in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, they can intimidate through noise and numbers. Nashi supporters drown out protests by Russia’s feeble and divided democratic opposition and use violence to drive them off the streets.

The group’s leaders insist that the only connection to officialdom is loyalty to the president. If so, they seem remarkably well-informed.

In July 2006, the British ambassador, Sir Anthony Brenton, infuriated the Kremlin by attending an opposition meeting. For months afterwards, he was noisily harassed by groups of Nashi supporters demanding that he “apologise”. With uncanny accuracy, the hooligans knew his movements in advance – a sign of official tip-offs.
Even when Nashi flagrantly breaks the law, the authorities do not intervene. After Estonia enraged Russia by moving a Sovietera war memorial in April, Nashi led the blockade of Estonia’s Moscow embassy. It daubed the building with graffiti, blasted it with Stalinera military music, ripped down the Estonian flag and attacked a visiting ambassador’s car. The Moscow police, who normally stamp ruthlessly on public protest, stood by.

Nashi fits perfectly into the Kremlin’s newly-minted ideology of “Sovereign democracy”. This is not the mind-numbing jargon of Marxism-Leninism, but a lightweight collection of cliches and slogans promoting Russia’s supposed unique political and spiritual culture. It is strongly reminiscent of the Tsarist era slogan: “Autocracy, Orthodoxy and Nationality”.

The similarities to both the Soviet and Tsarist eras are striking. Communist ideologues once spent much of their time explaining why their party deserved its monopoly of power, even though the promised utopia seemed indefinitely delayed.
Today, the Kremlin’s ideology chief Vladislav Surkov is trying to explain why questioning the crooks and spooks who run Russia is not just mistaken, but treacherous.

Yet, by comparison with other outfits, Nashi looks relatively civilised. Its racism and prejudice is implied, but not trumpeted. Other pro-Kremlin youth groups are hounding gays and foreigners off the streets of Moscow. Mestnye [The Locals] recently distributed leaflets urging Muscovites to boycott non-Russian cab drivers. These showed a young blonde Russian refusing a ride from a swarthy, beetle-browed taxi driver, under the slogan: “We’re not going the same way.”

Such unofficial xenophobia matches the official stance. On April 1, a decree explicitly backed by Mr Putin banned foreigners from trading in Russia’s retail markets. By some estimates, 12m people are working illegally in Russia.

Those who hoped that Russia’s first post-totalitarian generation would be liberal, have been dissapointed. Although explicit support for extremist and racist groups is in the low single figures, support for racist sentiments is mushrooming.

Slogans such as “Russia for the Russians” now attract the support of half of the population. Echoing Kremlin propaganda, Nashi denounced Estonians as “fascist”, for daring to say that they find Nazi and Soviet memorials equally repugnant. But, in truth, it is in Russia that fascism is all too evident.

The Kremlin sees no role for a democratic opposition, denouncing its leaders as stooges and traitors. Sadly, most Russians agree: a recent poll showed that a majority believed that opposition parties should not be allowed to take power. Just as the Nazis in 1930s rewrote Germany’s history, the Putin Kremlin is rewriting Russia’s. It has rehaabilitated Stalin, the greatest massmurderer of the 20th century. And it is demonising Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first democratically-elected president. That he destroyed totalitarianism is ignored. Instead, he is denounced for his “weak” pro-Western policies.

While distorting its own history, the Kremlin denounces other countries. Mr Putin was quick to blame Britain’s “colonial mentality” for our government’s request that Russia try to find a legal means of extraditing Andrei Lugovoi, the prime suspect in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.

Yet the truth is that Britain, like most Western countries, flagellates itself for the crimes of the past. Indeed, British schoolchildren rarely learn anything positive about their country’s empire. And, if Mr Putin has his way, Russian pupils will learn nothing bad about the Soviet empire, which was far bloodier, more brutal – and more recent.

A new guide for history teachers – explicitly endorsed by Mr Putin – brushes off Stalin’s crimes. It describes him as “the most successful leader of the USSR”. But it skates over the colossal human cost – 25m people were shot and starved in the cause of communism.

“Political repression was used to mobilise not only rank-and-file citizens but also the ruling elite,” it says. In other words, Stalin wanted to make the country strong, so he may have been a bit harsh at times. At any time since the collapse of Soviet totalitarianism in the late 1980s, that would have seemed a nauseating whitewash. Now, it is treated as bald historical fact.

If Stalin made mistakes, so what? Lots of people make mistakes.
“Problematic pages in our history exist,” Mr Putin said last week. But: “we have less than some countries. And ours are not as terrible as those of some others.” He compared the Great Terror of 1937, when 700,000 people were murdered in a purge by Stalin’s secret police, to the atom bomb on Hiroshima.

The comparison is preposterous. A strong argument can be made that by ending the war quickly, the atom bombs saved countless lives. Franklin D Roosevelt and Harry Truman-may have failed to realise that nuclear weapons would one day endanger humanity’s survival. But, unlike Stalin, they were not genocidal maniacs.
As the new cold war deepens, Mr Putin echoes, consciously or unconsciously, the favourite weapon of Soviet propagandists in the last one.

Asked about Afghanistan, they would cite Vietnam. Castigated for the plight of Soviet Jews, they would complain with treacly sincerity about discrimination against American blacks. Every blot on the Soviet record was matched by something, real or imagined, that the West had done.

But the contrasts even then were absurd. When the American administration blundered into Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of people protested in the heart of Washington. When eight extraordinarily brave Soviet dissidents tried to demonstrate in Red Square against the invasion of Czechoslovakia, in 1968, they were instantly arrested and spent many years in labour camps.

For the east European countries with first-hand experience of Stalinist terror, the Kremlin’s rewriting of history could hardly be more scary. Not only does Russia see no reason to apologise for their suffering under Kremlin rule, it now sees the collapse of communism not as a time of liberation, but as an era of pitiable weakness.

Russia barely commemorates even the damage it did to itself, let alone the appalling suffering inflicted on other people. Nashi is both a symptom of the way Russia is going – and a means of entrenching the drift to fascism. Terrifyingly, the revived Soviet view of history is now widely held in Russia. A poll this week of Russian teenagers showed that a majority believe that Stalin did more good things than bad. If tens of thousands of uniformed German youngsters were marching across Germany in support of an authoritarian Fuhrer, baiting foreigners and praising Hitler, alarm bells would be jangling all across Europe. So why aren’t they ringing about Nashi?

Hmmmm. Excellent question there. Why aren’t they ringing the bells about kashi, oops… I mean NASHI!
Russia is in big trouble folks and that is not good for us in the U.S.A either!

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What a shocker….

Pro-Taliban militant killed in Pakistan

LAHORE, Pakistan (CNN) — Pakistani security forces killed a pro-Taliban militant leader in an early morning raid near the Afghan border, a Pakistani Interior Ministry official said.

According to the official, Abdullahah Mehsud blew himself up after Pakistani forces surrounded him in a house in the Baluchistan province city of Zhob. Three other militants were arrested during the same raid.

Mehsud was held by the U.S. military at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but was released in 2004. Later that same year, he was involved in the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers working in South Waziristan, also along the Afghan border. — From CNN’s Syed Mohsin Naqvi (Posted 4:50 a.m.)

Do you know where I found this. Buried DEEP in the CNN website.
Then Over on Washington POst

NOT Surprisingly NO ONE in the mainstream media is talking about this. Where are the daily questions about torture now? About those poor detainees and how they are their and did nothing wrong. Booo Hooo…

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KEVIN Trenberth is head of the large US National Centre for Atmospheric Research and one of the advisory high priests of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
A New Zealander by birth, Trenberth has had a distinguished career as a climate scientist with interests in the use of computer General Circulation Models (GCMs), the basis for most of the public alarm about dangerous global warming.

When such a person gives an opinion about the scientific value of GCMs as predictive tools, it is obviously wise to pay attention.

In a remarkable contribution to Nature magazine’s Climate Feedback blog, Trenberth concedes GCMs cannot predict future climate and claims the IPCC is not in the business of climate prediction. This might be news to some people.

Among other things, Trenberth asserts “. . . there are no (climate) predictions by IPCC at all. And there never have been”. Instead, there are only “what if” projections of future climate that correspond to certain emissions scenarios.

According to Trenberth, GCMs “. . . do not consider many things like the recovery of the ozone layer, for instance, or observed trends in forcing agents”.

This is what I and others have been saying.
There is no way to predict the weather 10-20-50 years from now because there are so many variables that can come into place. We cannot even get computer models to be accurate with weather forecasts for 5 days people really believe a temperature forecast for the next 40 years?

Be real here people!

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Scary…

Report: Gang Suppression Doesn’t Work

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Anti-gang legislation and police crackdowns are failing so badly that they are strengthening the criminal organizations and making U.S. cities more dangerous, according to a report being released Wednesday.
Mass arrests, stiff prison sentences often served with other gang members and other strategies that focus on law enforcement rather than intervention actually strengthen gang ties and further marginalize angry young men, according to the
Justice Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank that advocates alternatives to incarceration.
“We’re talking about 12-, 13-, 14-, 15-year-olds whose involvement in gangs is likely to be ephemeral unless they are pulled off the street and put in prison, where they will come out with much stronger gang allegiances,” said Judith Greene, co-author of “Gang Wars: The Failure of Enforcement Tactics and the Need for Effective Public Safety Strategies.” The report is based on interviews and analysis of hundreds of pages of previously published statistics and reports. And though it is valid and accurate, the ideas raised in it are not new, said Arthur Lurigio, a psychologist and criminal justice professor at Loyola University of Chicago. “These approaches, although they sound novel, are just old wine in new bottles,” he said. “Gang crime and violence in poor urban neighborhoods have been a problem since the latter parts of the 19th century.”
Lurigio, other academics and gang intervention workers have echoed elements of the report that found gangs need to be viewed as a symptom of other problems in poor
communities, such as violence, teen pregnancy, drug abuse and unemployment.
The report says Los Angeles and Chicago are losing the war on gangs because
they focus on law enforcement and are short on intervention.
It cites a report this year by civil rights attorney Connie Rice, who was hired by Los Angeles to evaluate its failing anti-gang programs. Her report called for an initiative to provide jobs and recreational programs in impoverished neighborhoods.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief William Bratton both commended Rice’s report. But in February, they unveiled a strategy that focused on targeting the city’s worst gangs with arrests and civil injunctions that prohibit known gang members from associating with one another in public.
Rice describes the city’s policy on arresting the city’s estimated 39,000 gang
members as “stuck on stupid.”
Wes McBride, executive director of the California Gang Investigators Association, dismissed the findings of the report, which he said was written by “thug-huggers.” The investigators association is a professional organization for police officers.
“Are they saying we can’t put a thief in jail, we can’t put a murderer in jail, that we should spank them, put a diaper on them, pat them on the bottom, hug them and let them go?” McBride said. “It’s obviously a think tank report, and they didn’t leave their ivory tower and spend any time on the streets.”
“Gang Wars” also criticizes politicians who overstate the threat of criminal gangs and seek tougher sentences.
Greene specifically criticized a bill introduced by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, that would make it illegal to be a member of a criminal gang and would make it easier to prosecute some minors as adults.
But Feinstein spokesman Scott Gerber said the bill also calls for spending more than $400 million on gang prevention and intervention programs, which he said would be the largest single investment of its kind.

Yes scary, but I’m with Wes McBride here in that what does this think tank want? Hold gangmember’s hands and ask them to stop the violence. How much intervention is needed?
When should it start? What is going on in the jail system after the gang members are convicted?

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Staying along the line of the bosses post of Europe’s plight with it’s taxes and welfare system, I came along this article on Boortz’s website today.

Irritation grows over taxes

Norwegians are among the most heavily taxed people in the world, and that in turn has made Norway one of the most expensive countries in which to live. Most accept the taxes they’re ordered to pay on income and even net worth and property, but growing numbers are publicly complaining about sky-high taxes on everything from cars to fuel to consumer goods.
Norwegians differentiate between skatter (taxes) and avgifter (duties, fees or user taxes) and the latter is the most hated. They’re what causes a glass of house wine at an Oslo restaurant to cost the equivalent of nearly USD 16, or a gallon of gas to cost nearly USD 9 at current exchange rates.
“It’s clear that taxes are much too high in oil-rich Norway,” Oslo resident Gro Pettersen told newspaper Aftenposten. “It’s sick!”
The taxes placed on new cars, which can more than double the price of the car itself, are another bone of contention, even though most Norwegians support measures to protect the environment. “The car tax is much too high, but so are most all the other avgifter also,” said Ernst Bendiksen of the northern city of Vadsø, where Norwegians are far more dependent on their cars than those living in cities with good public transit systems. “We certainly don’t get anything in return for them.”
A study conducted by research firm MMI for the Norwegian Tax Payers Association (Skattebetalerforeningen) showed that the most hated taxes are those on new cars and a transfer tax levied when real estate changes hands. The so-called dokumentavgift on real estate transactions, which implies that it’s meant to cover the costs of property registration, costs homebuyers around 2.5 percent of the purchase price.
Three of four Norwegians believe that’s too high, according to the MMI study, and absolutely no one believed it was too low. With even a modest flat in Oslo costing a few million kroner these days, the tax amounts to a fair bit of change.
Regressive inequalityThe study also showed that 67 percent of the population think Norway’s inheritance taxes are too high, while 63 percent think fuel taxes are too high. Norway’s hefty 25 percent VAT (like a sales tax) on nearly all consumer items is considered too high by 53 percent of the population. Only 32 percent, meanwhile, believed tobacco taxes are too high, while 44 percent believed liquor taxes are too high.
The user taxes, or avgifter, are also unpopular because they’re largely regressive taxes that hit people with low incomes much harder than those with high incomes. Filling the car’s gas tank, and paying the taxes that requires, is much more expensive for someone earning NOK 300,000 than it is for a car owner earning NOK 900,000.
The head of the tax payers’ association, Jon Stordrange, said he thinks user taxes should be adjusted to reflect actual costs inflicted on society. “Then I think people would have more respect for the system,” he said.

WOW!!! “skatter (taxes) and avgifter (duties, fees or user taxes)… dokumentavgift on real estate transactions, which implies that it’s meant to cover the costs of property registration, costs homebuyers around 2.5 percent of the purchase price.”
That’s just friggin bananas. I would start a damn riot on that shit there! 2.5 percent on taxes just to sell a house and cover expenses for filing paperwork and such! Lets do some easy math on this!
Lets say for a Norweigan to sell his house of $100, 000 (keeping the number simple for the mathematically inclined!), the taxes would be $2500! That goes right to the government folks! Not the mortgage companies, lawyers, etc! This is just highway robbery!

Now! What i wanted to know is where do these taxes REALLY pay for, so I looked around a bit on the web (I just can’t fly over there and ask you know!). Here’s what I found courtesy of Thinkquest:

The Norwegian welfare system

The welfare system in Norway is made to take care of all the inhabitants of the nation, “from the cradle to the grave”. From the day they are born, all Norwegians are members of National Social Insurance. Being a member of the National Social Insurance is in fact mandatory. The National Social Insurance guarantees a number of benefits for the population: Free health care, free hospitalization and immunizations.
A 100% wage compensated maternity leave for 42 weeks for the mother, 4 weeks’ fully paid leave for the father. (Alternatively one year on 80% of salary) Almost 70% of the fathers take this opportunity to be home with their newborn child. Every family receives child allowance for each child, until the child is 16 years old.
Single parents receive double child allowance. Children receive free dental care until they are 18 years old. For 19 – and 20-year-olds the Social Insurance gives a 75% discount. (This dental care does not include braces or other orthodontics.)
A minimum pension when a person retires. Retirement age: normally 67, lower for some professions.The welfare system is financed through taxes. A working Norwegian pays between 30% and 40 % of his income in taxes (depending on how much he earns). A part of the taxes goes to the National Social Insurance fund and secures the insurance and benefits for the person himself and the non-working persons (children, the elderly).
The welfare system is run by the state. Norwegians have a loyal, friendly relationship with the state, as it is looked upon as someone you can turn to for help. Receiving welfare benefits is not regarded as shameful; it is something everyone receives and takes advantage of.

Read that last line again! “Receiving welfare benefits is not regarded as shameful; it is something everyone receives and takes advantage of.” WHAT KIND OF MINDSET IS THAT! Like Michael Savage says, “Liberalism is a mental disorder!” That it is indeed. One side note; one look thinkquest.org at its website and you’ll see where they stand on the side of politics. A little hint is it’s not to the right! lmao

Here’s Britannica’s synopsis of Norway’s welfare and government system. No where have I seen how Norway pays its, “Compulsory membership” or it’s high rate of taxes for that matter.
Media bias anyone? lol

Now the real question is this folks: can we afford Sen. Hillary Clinton to be our next president so she may try to have her way with convincing the idiots that we need “Universal heathcare?”
I think not folks.

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