Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday 11-17-10

One Hundred Naked Citizens: One Hundred Leaked Body Scans
At the heart of the controversy over "body scanners" is a promise: The images of our naked bodies will never be public. U.S. Marshals in a Florida Federal courthouse saved 35,000 images on their scanner. These are those images.

A Gizmodo investigation has revealed 100 of the photographs saved by the Gen 2 millimeter wave scanner from Brijot Imaging Systems, Inc., obtained by a FOIA request after it was recently revealed that U.S. Marshals operating the machine in the Orlando, Florida courthouse had improperly-perhaps illegally-saved images of the scans of public servants and private citizens.

We understand that it will be controversial to release these photographs. But identifying features have been eliminated. And fortunately for those who walked through the scanner in Florida last year, this mismanaged machine used the less embarrassing imaging technique.

Yet the leaking of these photographs demonstrates the security limitations of not just this particular machine, but millimeter wave and x-ray backscatter body scanners operated by federal employees in our courthouses and by TSA officers in airports across the country. That we can see these images today almost guarantees that others will be seeing similar images in the future. If you're lucky, it might even be a picture of you or your family.

While the fidelity of the scans from this machine are of surprisingly low resolution, especially compared to the higher resolution "naked scanners" using the potentially harmful x-ray backscatter technology, the TSA and other government agencies have repeatedly touted the quality of "Advanced Imaging Technology" while simultaneously assuring customers that operators "cannot store, print, transmit or save the image, and the image." According to the TSA—and of course other agencies—images from the scanners are "automatically deleted from the system after it is cleared by the remotely located security officer." Whatever the stated policy, it's clear that it is trivial for operators to save images and remove them for distribution if they choose not to follow guidelines or that other employees could remove images that are inappropriately if accidentally stored.

To the point, these sample images were removed from the machine in Orlando by the U.S. Marshals for distribution under the FOIA request before the machine was sent back to its manufacturer—images intact.

We look forward to seeing your next vacation photos.

Scanners and pat-downs upset airline passengers
WASHINGTON (AP) - Nearly a week before the Thanksgiving travel crush, federal air security officials were struggling to reassure rising numbers of fliers and airline workers outraged by new anti-terrorism screening procedures they consider invasive and harmful.

Across the country, passengers simmered over being forced to choose scans by full-body image detectors or probing pat-downs. Top federal security officials said Monday that the procedures were safe and necessary sacrifices to ward off terror attacks.

"It's all about security," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said. "It's all about everybody recognizing their role."

Despite officials' insistence that they had taken care to prepare the American flying public, the flurry of criticism from private citizens to airline pilots' groups suggested that Napolitano and other federal officials had been caught off guard.

At the San Diego airport, a software engineer posted an Internet blog item saying he had been ejected after being threatened with a fine and lawsuit for refusing a groin check after turning down a full-body scan. The passenger, John Tyner, said he told a federal Transportation Security Administration worker, "If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested."

Tyner's individual protest quickly became a web sensation, but questions also came from travel business groups, civil liberties activists and pilots, raising concerns both about the procedures themselves and about the possibility of delays caused by passengers reluctant to accept the new procedures.

"Almost to a person, travel managers are concerned that TSA is going too far and without proper procedures and sufficient oversight," said Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, an advocacy group representing corporate travel departments. "Travel managers are hearing from their travelers about this virtually on a daily basis."

Jeffrey Price, an aviation professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver, said two trends are converging: the regular holiday security increases and the addition of body scanners and new heightened measures stemming from the recent attempted cargo bombings. Also, several airports are short-staffed, which will add to delays, Price said.

Homeland Security and the TSA have moved forcefully to shift airport screening from familiar scanners to full-body detection machines. The new machines show the body's contours on a computer stationed in a private room removed from the security checkpoints. A person's face is never shown and the person's identity is supposedly not known to the screener reviewing the computer images.

Concerns about privacy and low-level radiation emitted by the machines have led some passengers to refuse screening. Under TSA rules, those who decline must submit to rigorous pat-down inspections that include checks of the inside of travelers' thighs and buttocks. The American Civil Liberties Union has denounced the machines as a "virtual strip search."

Concerns about both procedures are not limited to the U.S. In Germany over the weekend, organized protesters stripped off their clothes in airports to voice their opposition to full-body scans.

Douglas R. Laird, a former security director for Northwest Airlines, said it's the resistance to these measures that will cause the most delays. The new enhanced pat-downs, an alternative to body scanners, take more time - about 2 minutes compared with a 30-second scan. Delays could multiply if many travelers opt for a pat-down or contest certain new procedures.

Beyond the scanning process, passengers will also be subject to greater scrutiny of their luggage and personal identification and stricter enforcement of long-standing rules like the ban on carry-on liquids over 3 ounces.

On Monday, top security officials were out in force to defend the new policies. Napolitano wrote an op-ed piece in USA Today insisting that the body scanners used at many airports were safe and any images were viewed by federal airport workers in private settings.

Napolitano later said in a news conference at Ronald Reagan National Airport that she regretted the growing opposition to moves by the federal government to make flying safer. But she said the changes were necessary to deal with emerging terrorist threats such as a Nigerian man's alleged attempt to blow up a jetliner bound from Amsterdam to Detroit last Christmas Day using hard-to-detect explosives. Authorities allege that the explosives were hidden in the suspect's underwear.

There are some 300 full-body scanners now operational in 60 U.S. airports. TSA is on track to deploy approximately 500 units by the end of 2010.

Officials for the Airports Council International-North America, which represents U.S. and Canadian airports, said their members haven't complained about the scanner and pat-down policy or reported any special problems. But airports have been urging the government to engage in an aggressive public education campaign regarding the new screening, said Debby McElroy, the council's executive vice president.

"TSA is trying to address a real, credible threat, both through the advanced imaging technology and through the pat-downs," McElroy said. "We think it's important that they continue to address it with passengers and the media because there continues to be a significant misunderstanding about both the safety and the privacy concerns."

A spokeswoman for American Airlines issued a carefully worded statement that stopped short of welcoming the government's security moves. "We are working with the unions and the TSA and continue to evaluate and discuss screening options," American spokeswoman Missy Latham said.

Some airline pilots have pushed back against the new rules screening them. Many pilots are already part of the Federal Flight Deck Officer Program, which trains pilots in the use of firearms and defensive tactics. They are permitted to carry weapons on board.

Pilots enrolled in the program don't have to go through scanners and pat-downs. But only a small share of the total number of U.S. pilots are enrolled in the program.

Capt. John Prater, head of the Air Line Pilots Association, said based on discussions with TSA officials on Monday that he's optimistic the agency will soon approve a "crew pass" system that allows flight attendants and pilots to undergo less-stringent screenings.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, pilot unions were shown an off-the-shelf biometric identification system that was ready to go by government officials, said Sam Mayer, a Boeing 767 captain and a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, which represents pilots at American Airlines. The system would have made screening pilots unnecessary, he said.

Nine years later, pilots still don't have biometric identification cards because the government and airlines have been quarreling over who should pay for the machines that can read biometric information like fingerprints and iris scans, Mayer said.

"At the end of the day we're not the threat, and we want the TSA to concentrate on getting bads guys," he said.

Pilots are also concerned about the cumulative effects of radiation, Mayer said. Depending upon their schedules, pilots can go through a scanner several times a day and several days a week, he said.

"We're already at the top of the radiation (exposure) charts to begin with because we're flying at high altitudes for long distances," Mayer said. "The cumulative effects of this are more than most pilots are willing to subject themselves to. We're right up there with nuclear power plant workers in terms of exposure."

Dealership: Buy Truck, Get Free AK-47
Sanford Dealership Offers Assault Rifle With Purchase

SANFORD, Fla -- A Sanford truck dealership is running a special promotion, offering a free AK-47 with the purchase of a used truck.

Nations Trucks, located at 3700 S. Orlando Drive in Sanford, kicked off the promotion on Veterans Day.

General sales manager Nick Ginetta said the promotion will run until the end of the month. He said anyone who purchases a truck will receive a $400 voucher to a local gun store.

He said customers will have to go through the application process and qualify under state and federal laws. Ginetta said any buyers who don't want a gun will be given cash.
Ginetta said he knows the promotion is controversial, but he believes it will bring in business -- and he said it's already working. At the close of business Thursday, he said the dealership had 47 appointments scheduled for Friday. Normally, he said there are only three.

Ginetta said he also believes it's a perfect Veterans Day promotion.

"We started on Veterans Day, saying, 'Hey, so many have given so much for this right,'" Ginetta said.

Phillip Adams, a veteran, said the promotion is a bad idea.

"An AK-47 is a very dangerous weapon," Adams said.

He said he'd rather they give customers a free flag with a pole to put up in their yard.

"That would be a lot more supportive for our country and our veterans," Adams said.

Ginetta said they are thinking about extending the promotion to the end of the year.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday 11-16-10

Telling the Westboro Baptist Church to go to hell in La Plata (with update)

What do you do when the Westboro Baptist so-called "Church" shows up to demean a soldier during his funeral? When the hate group showed up at an Oklahoma soldier's funeral to celebrate God's punishment of America for its failure to -- what, put homosexuals to death? It's hard to figure out from their website what would satisfy them -- the locals responded by slashing their tires.

This morning in La Plata, Md., the hate group's parade of absurdity received quite a response: More than a thousand counter-demonstrators showed up early, established themselves on the rights-of-way around the church, and prevented the "God Hates Fags" crowd from getting anywhere near the funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Terry Honeycutt.

A few minutes ago, I called Holly Smith, one of the organizers of the counter-demonstration. I was surprised to hear no shouting or noise in the background. "American flags as far as the eye can see," she told me. And the Westboro crowd? "They are up at a gas station probably a mile up the road, because they couldn't get any closer," she said. "We're in the shoulder for probably ten deep for at least 300 yards."

Much better than destruction of property, and a template for helping the grieving families of deceased servicemen in the future.

Note: Since posting this, I've received a couple of complaints about the title. Just so you know, it is a reference to the Westboro Church's history. After the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, Rev. Fred Phelps erected a monument that stated: "Matthew Shepard entered Hell on October 12, 1998, at age 21 in defiance of God's warning"

I understand that people went out today to defend a young Marine's family from the church's disgraceful behavior -- not to tell anyone to go to hell -- but I believe the title is appropriate to the circumstances and that's why I used it

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday 11-15-10

Sources: Al Qaeda eyes more Mumbai-style attacks
Hamburg, Germany (CNN) -- Al Qaeda is still planning Mumbai-style attacks in Europe, with the United States also possibly being targeted, counter-terrorism officials in Europe and the United States tell CNN.

The discovery of al Qaeda's plans to launch coordinated attacks in several cities in Britain, Germany, and France led to the U.S. issuing an unprecedented travel advisory in October for its citizens traveling in Europe.

European counter-terrorism officials tell CNN they believe the aim was to carry out the attacks before the end of this year. The expected timeframe of the plot had not previously been disclosed.

In November 2008 gunmen belonging to Lashkar e Taiba, a Pakistani Jihadist group affiliated with al Qaeda, went on a shooting rampage against several targets in Mumbai, including its most prestigious hotel, the main railway station and a Jewish center, killing more than 160 people.

Ilyas Kashmiri: Most dangerous man on Earth?

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Dr. August Hanning, a former head of Germany's foreign intelligence service, said intelligence indicated that al Qaeda had already started planning to launch Mumbai-style attacks in the United States.

U.S. warning: Stay alert in Europe "We have got information that they have planned or are planning a plot like the Mumbai plot in Europe and the United States," said Hanning who retired late last year as State Secretary in Germany's Interior Ministry, one of the country's most senior counter-terrorism positions.

The revelation is the most concrete indication yet that al Qaeda is planning mass casualty gun attacks on U.S. soil.

A senior U.S. counter-terrorism official told CNN that U.S. intelligence agencies have for some time been concerned that al Qaeda would attempt to replicate aspects of the 2008 Mumbai attack on US soil. "The assumption has been that they would make plans to do this and the potential threat is being treated very seriously," the official told CNN.

The capture of Ahmed Sidiqi, a militant from the German port city of Hamburg, in Afghanistan in July, helped Western intelligence uncover the conspiracy, according to European and U.S. counter-terrorism officials. Sidiqi is currently being held in American custody at Bagram air force base in Afghanistan.

Information came from "different sources ... and this is one of the sources," Hanning told CNN. His statement was echoed by a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official.

Western intelligence agencies also learned that Ilyas Kashmiri, a senior al Qaeda operative, had a planning role in the plot. According to U.S. counter-terrorism officials, Osama bin Laden himself signed off on the plot.

The general assumption would be that Sidiqi and some others planned to come back to Germany and might develop terrorist attacks in the long term.

--Dr. Manfred Murck
Kashmiri, a veteran jihadist who made his name fighting Indian troops in the Kashmir conflict, has in the last year emerged as a key planner of al Qaeda operations against the West, according to Western officials and court documents.

Last month Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper citing intelligence sources reported that Kashmiri met with Sidiqi in Pakistan's tribal areas and boasted that he had already dispatched terrorist teams to Britain and Germany to launch Mumbai-style attacks.

"[Kashmiri] knows our situation in Germany and therefore he is dangerous," Hanning told CNN.

German authorities may have particular cause for concern. German authorities are investigating the alleged involvement of several militants from Hamburg, including Bagram detainee Sidiqi, in the al Qaeda plot against Europe.

Sidiqi and 10 other militants from Hamburg set off for the tribal areas of Pakistan in March 2009, according to German intelligence officials. "When they left Hamburg they [had] decided to join the jihad in Afghanistan or Pakistan but then they came into contact to certain groups then after this they developed the plan ... not to stay there and fight there but to go back and commit some crimes in Germany in Europe," Dr. Manfred Murck, Hamburg's Intelligence chief told CNN in an exclusive interview.

According to European counter-terrorism officials, Sidiqi revealed that four other members of his group were part of al Qaeda's plans to attack Europe. Several of them met with Younes al Mauritani, a senior al Qaeda operative who tasked some of them to return to Europe to prepare the attack, according to the officials.

"The general assumption would be that Sidiqi and some others planned to come back to Germany and might develop terrorist attacks in the long term," Murck told CNN, "this is the general assumption that we do have, but it's not concrete, we don't think they had a concrete plan."

Murck said Hamburg's intelligence agency has found it difficult to untangle how the Hamburg group fitted into Al Qaeda's plans because they have had no direct access to him in Afghanistan. "As far as we can see we don't have the evidence that [theirs] was a terrorist attack in the Mumbai style," Murck stated.

We just have to live with the possibility it might happen and with our responsibility to hinder it.

In early October two members of the Hamburg group -- Naamen Meziche and Shahab Dashti -- were reported killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan, one of Pakistan's tribal territories. According to European intelligence officials the group's travel coordinator -- Asadullah Muslih -- is still believed at large somewhere in Pakistan. Murck said his intelligence agency has evidence that Dashti was killed but has not been able to verify the reported death of Meziche.

Rami Makanesi -- another member of the Hamburg travel group allegedly implicated by Sidiqi -- is currently in custody in southern Germany. He is being investigated for membership of a terrorist group but has not been formally charged by German authorities. "He wanted to go to the German embassy or consulate [in Islamabad] and then he was picked up," Murck told CNN.

Murck hinted that some of the Hamburg group may have wanted to return to Europe because they were fed up with conditions in the al Qaeda camps in Pakistan.

"It's not the nice romantic jihad they were thinking about," he said.

According to German intelligence officials, the Hamburg group were recruited by Meziche, the group's ringleader in the Taiba mosque in Hamburg , a mosque -- previously called Al Quds -- attended by 9/11 lead hijacker Mohammed Atta in the late 1990s. In August this year Hamburg authorities closed down the Taiba mosque because of its ties to extremists.

Murck told CNN that 15 foreign radical extremists were deported from Germany based on information authorities collected at the Taiba mosque. But over time he said, more and more clusters of radical extremists formed in the mosque.

"If there is one place, from Denmark even to the United States, where people know if you want to be a brother in the name of Allah and have an idea to be a member of jihad then go to al Quds mosque in Hamburg. It was that famous, and this was one of the reasons that we decided to close it."

Hamburg authorities had to fight a tough legal battle to close the mosque. "We have a Constitution and churches, mosques are protected by our Constitution and it's very difficult for German authorities to forbid praying in such kinds of mosques," August Hanning told CNN.

Hamburg intelligence officials stress that Hamburg is not unique among European cities grappling with the problem of violent Islamist extremism.

"We count about 40 persons at the moment ... who justify violence and find it's right that there is an international jihad ... and that terrorism might be right, and there might be a 100 more that are in close contact to them," Murck told CNN.

"Taken altogether we don't have a real chance to look at each of those 40 or 140, 24 hours a day, every week so what we have to do is to look at the [radical] scene, to have some human sources within that scene."

Radicalization is on the rise in Germany according to German counter-terrorism officials with hotspots emerging in such cities as Berlin, Bonn, Ulm, Frankfurt, Cologne and Hamburg, fueled by radicals' exploitation of online social media sites.

According to Hanning, around 100 to 200 hard cores supporters of al Qaeda in Germany currently pose the greatest concern.

The trajectory that has most worried German counter-terrorism officials is Germans who have gone overseas for terrorism training and returned.

"Our estimate is 220 people who have left Germany for training purposes in Pakistan, being trained in terrorist techniques and nearly half of them have come back to Germany and that has been the real threat for us. ... We know that they still have contact with these dangerous groups in Pakistan," Hanning told CNN.

Murck, Hamburg's Intelligence Chief, says the city's intelligence agencies are determined to do everything they can to prevent a terrorist attack on the city. "We just have to live with the possibility it might happen and with our responsibility to hinder it."

Half-baked? Police called on NY kids' cupcake sale

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. (AP) — Some parents in a New York City suburb are upset because a local politician called police on two 13-year-old boys for selling cupcakes and other baked goods without a permit.

The Journal News in Westchester County reported Monday that New Castle Councilman Michael Wolfensohn had called police last month. The newspaper says it requested the police report after receiving a complaint from a friend of one of the boys' families.

Andrew DeMarchis and Kevin Graff had a brisk business selling cupcakes, cookies, brownies and Rice Krispie treats in a Chappaqua (CHAP'-uh-kwah) park.

Kevin's mother, Laura Graff, says the teens are "good kids" who were scared by the police call.

Wolfensohn says rules are rules. But he concedes calling the police might have been a half-baked decision.

Information from: The Journal News

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday 11-10-10

Tokyo 'seizes Google user records' over video leak
Japanese prosecutors on Tuesday seized user records from Google in an investigation into the leak of a video on YouTube showing a tense maritime incident that sparked a row with China, reports said.
The move, reported by the public broadcaster NHK and other Japanese media, came after the government confirmed the authenticity of the film showing a Chinese fishing trawler colliding with two Japanese coastguard vessels in disputed waters in early September.

The footage was taken by the Japanese coastguard during the incident in the East China Sea and not released to the public for fear of inflaming the already bitter dispute with China, but it was uploaded on to YouTube on Friday.

After an in-house investigation, the coastguard on Monday brought a criminal complaint in Tokyo against an unknown suspect, citing breaches of the national public service act and other laws.

Prosecutors will analyse the record of YouTube users' IP addresses, which should enable them to identify and locate the computer used to upload the controversial footage, NHK said on Tuesday.

Japan's arrest of the Chinese trawler captain sparked a barrage of protests from Beijing that continued after Japan released him, sending relations plunging to their lowest point in years.

Google, which owns the video-sharing site, said in a statement that it would not comment on the media reports.

But a spokesman at Google Japan said in an email to AFP: "We follow the law like any other company and comply with valid legal process. When we receive a subpoena or court order, we check to see if it meets both the letter and spirit of the law before complying."

Authorities are scrambling to gather information on who uploaded the video clip on YouTube, requesting security footage and customers' lists at Internet cafes on southern Okinawa, the Jiji Press news agency said.

Investigators suspect the person who leaked the video might have used a computer at an Internet cafe since the data was posted on YouTube at night, Jiji said.

On Monday Prime Minister Naoto Kan apologised in parliament, admitting the government had been "sloppy" in keeping the video secure.

The apparent anonymous leak follows the illicit publication online only days ago of classified anti-terrorism documents that sparked immediate criticism as Japan prepares to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

The YouTube videos came as Asia's two biggest economies are seeking to repair ties after their prime ministers, Kan and Wen Jiabao, failed at two recent summits, in Brussels and Hanoi, to hold formal bilateral talks.

World leaders, including those of Japan and China, will meet this week for a G20 summit in South Korea and then the APEC summit in Yokohama, near Tokyo.

The video, which has since been re-broadcast widely by Japanese television stations, shows the collision near a chain of islands in the East China Sea claimed by both Japan and China.

Japan's coastguard in a statement said the video on the Internet was "almost identical" to the footage its officers had edited and submitted to prosecutors in the southern city of Naha in September.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tuesday 11-09-10

I blogged this a couple of weeks ago, here is an update

Cotton Clothing Price Tags to Rise
Synthetic linings. Smaller buttons. Less Italian fabric. And yes, even more polyester. Unusually high cotton prices have apparel makers scrambling to keep down costs, but consumers be warned: cotton clothing will be getting more expensive.

“It’s really a no-choice situation,” said Wesley R. Card, president and chief executive of the Jones Group, the company behind Anne Klein, Nine West and other brands. “Prices have to come up.”

The Bon-Ton chain is raising prices on its private-label fashion items by as much as a dollar this spring, and prices will go up further next fall. And it is switching from 100 percent cotton in items like sweaters to more acrylic blends. Levi’s says it has already increased prices and may push them further north next year. And Hanesbrands, the maker of Champion, Hanes and Playtex, says price increases will be in place by February, and prices could go up further if cotton prices remain where they are.

Other apparel makers say they have held the line on prices this year, but next year will be different. The V. F. Corporation, the maker of 7 for All Mankind and The North Face, says most brands will probably cost more next year, and its cotton-heavy jeans lines are particularly susceptible to increases. Jones says its increases could be in the high single digits or more.

The problem is a classic supply and demand imbalance, with the price of cotton rising almost 80 percent since July and prices expected to remain high. “World cotton production is unlikely to catch up with consumption for at least two years,” said Sharon Johnson, senior cotton analyst with the First Capital Group, in an e-mail.

Cotton inventories had been low because of weak demand during the recession. This summer, new cotton crops were also depleted because of flooding in Pakistan and bad weather in China and India, all major cotton producers.

But demand from China, in particular, was rising. And as the economic recovery in the United States began, apparel makers and retailers placed orders for more inventory, spurring even more demand. As prices rose, speculators entered the market, driving prices even higher.

“So far, it has shocked even the most veteran traders,” said Mike Stevens, an independent cotton analyst in Mandeville, La., in an e-mail. “It has resulted in panic buying by mills worldwide in order to ensure that they can keep their doors open.”

As of Tuesday morning, the price of cotton (measured by cotton futures for December delivery) had hit a record high on worries that cold weather in China might have damaged some crops.

Cotton’s swooping increase has some apparel companies switching production to countries with lower labor costs or milder customs charges. Lululemon Athletica, the sportswear company, is moving some manufacturing from China to Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangladesh, where wages are lower, and Bon-Ton is benefiting from reduced-duty production in Egypt and Nicaragua.

Manufacturers are also thinking smaller, examining whether a button or a thread can be replaced with a cheaper one, or whether the overall material mix can be changed so it is not so cotton heavy.

“They are taking purchase orders from the retailer and having this conversation with them, saying, ‘Look, I can’t deliver this garment for a dollar this year when it cost me a dollar twenty-five to make it up,’ ” said Andrew Tananbaum, the chief executive of Capital Business Credit, which finances apparel makers and other importers. “ ‘So would you take this garment if it had not cotton but acrylic?’ ”

Mr. Card, of the Jones Group, said the company had “whole teams” looking for more cost-effective materials that did not reduce quality. “That’s all they do,” Mr. Card said.

Liz Claiborne, which makes brands like Juicy Couture and Kate Spade, said it is also playing with some of the materials it uses. One example, said Jane Randel, a spokeswoman, would be shifting from some imported Italian fabrics to “suppliers who produce their own raw materials or yarns.” The company may also reassess its contracts for so-called component materials — like buttons and trims — she said in an e-mail.

At Bon-Ton, retail prices for the private-label clothes have increased about 5 to 8 percent so far this year, said Steve Villa, senior vice president of private brand at the company. Bon-Ton has been turning to different formulations, including sweaters blended with different rayons and synthetic fibers, to avoid further increases.

“At some point, you adopt a different process that maybe will yield some cost savings or you are faced with passing that through,” Mr. Villa said.

Of course, as apparel makers increase the price of cotton goods and also try to reduce their reliance on cotton, there are some risks.

For starters, neither the apparel makers nor the retailers are certain that shoppers will be willing to pay more for cotton goods. “It’s an unanswered question at this point,” said Robert K. Shearer, chief financial officer of the V. F. Corporation.

And — to the disfavor of many fashion purists — with prices unlikely to fall for some time, there could be wider popular acceptance of fabrics like polyester.

“We may be training a new generation to be far more accepting of synthetic fibers, which is likely to hurt cotton’s market share in the long run,” said Ms. Johnson, the analyst with the First Capital Group.

Every homeschooler ought to have access to these

Concern for food safety as vet students pick pets over farms
FRESNO, Calif. — The number of veterinarians who work with farm animals is on the decline as many retire and fewer students choose large-animal practice.
Officials are worried about the impact on food safety, because large-animal veterinarians serve as inspectors at ranches and slaughterhouses.

"They're basically on the front line when it comes to maintaining a safe food supply, not only in the U.S., but in products we export. Vets diagnose diseases that can be transferred from animals to humans," says David Kirkpatrick, spokesman for the American Veterinary Medical Association.

A recent survey by the association found that only 2% of veterinary school students in 2010 graduating classes said they plan to work mostly with large, non-pet animals. Another 7% studied a mixed curriculum that included all types of animals, but the majority of those respondents lean toward pet care.

"We have known for years anecdotally that vets were having a difficult time finding people to work at their practice or selling it when they retire," Kirkpatrick said.

"But now we know how big the problem is and how that will magnify over the years," he said.

QUALITY: Shrinking beef market may mean poorer meat at stores

From 1998 to 2009, the number of small animal vets climbed to 47,118 from 30,255, while the number of farm-animal vets dropped to 5,040 from 5,553. And the AVMA found that large-animal vets often earn a lower salary: an average of $57,745 compared with $64,744 for small-animal vets, according to a 2008 survey.

The large-animal vet world is graying — half of farm-animal vets are older than 50, and only 4.4% are younger than 30. About a third of veterinarians working at the federal level are eligible to retire in the next three years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

At least six rural counties in California have just one large-animal veterinarian.

Stuart Hall, 28, a veterinarian in Visalia, Calif., said a single call can tie him up for four hours — time in which he can't respond to emergencies.

"My worry is always that a farmer is going to try to take care of something themselves," he said.

Hall was born in rural England and educated in London before his interest in working with cows brought him to Tulare County, the nation's largest dairy producer, five years ago. He and his wife have a blog detailing his life as a farm vet.

"I just really like cows. They're big, old gentle things," he says.

Hall likes working outdoors, the drives through the country and the impact his expertise can have on food operations, he says.

But for pre-vet student Justeen Borrecco the decision to pursue a career in pet medicine was easy. She has been shoved, bruised and knocked down by the sheep she feeds every day as a student worker at the on-campus farm at California State University, Fresno.

"This is why I want to work with dogs and kitties. I don't want to deal with anything bigger than me," the 19-year-old said.

On Thursday she pulled on her farm boots, picked up bundles of hay and maneuvered her 130-pound frame around to feed dozens of ewes and lambs.

"But it's still good experience. Anything I learn or help with, like vaccines or bandaging, can apply to other animals," Borrecco said. The sophomore from Hanford, Calif., said it's important to get as much hands-on time with animals before applying to vet school.

Several schools and states have tried to lure students to large-animal veterinary medicine.

At the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, applicants interested in becoming farm-animal vets have an admissions edge. The university has slowly boosted the number of students interested in large-animal medicine to 11 of 127, double the number from four years ago. The vet school has also reached out to high schools in rural areas.

More than a dozen states, from Washington to Georgia, offer some type of loan repayment program or other incentives if students pledge to work in a region in need of large-animal vets. Vet students typically finish school with about $134,000 in debt, according to the AVMA.

Iowa State's VSMART program allows students focused on farm animals to reduce by a year the amount of time it takes to get a veterinary medicine degree — a big deal when you're talking about spending upward of $32,000 a year, Kirkpatrick said.

Federal legislators have introduced several bills to help increase the number of farm animal vets, including the Veterinary Services Investment Act, which is aimed at recruitment, helping vets expand their practices and providing financial assistance for students. The bill passed the House in September and is awaiting approval in the Senate.

The students who have chosen to work with large animals are committed to their choice.

Elizabeth Adam, 26, of Santa Maria, Calif., earned a degree in English and business at Loyola Marymount University, and later worked as a consultant at a law firm — but really dreamed of being a farm doctor.

"I was making good money but was miserable," she said.

Adam is now in her second year at Fresno State's pre-vet program.

"This is for me," she said. "The outdoors and the late night emergency calls and the country — I'm ready for all of that."

Forty six 'dangerous' terrorists go free from jail
At least 46 convicted terrorists who have been either released from prison or are close to being freed “pose a risk” to the public and face tight new controls on their freedom, a secret Government document discloses.
The Daily Telegraph has learnt that concern over the release of a “significant” number of Islamic extremists has driven ministers to draw up rules for their supervision.

Probation officers have been issued with a “menu” of restrictions that can be placed on terrorists freed on licence. The curbs are understood to include orders to have contact with only Government-approved imams, not to visit certain mosques, not to associate with anyone with a criminal record and not to use computers.

According to Ministry of Justice figures, at least 20 convicted terrorists have been freed from jail this year after completing their sentences. Another 26 will be eligible for release over the next two years.

Amid warnings from security officials about the threat posed by freed extremists, the MoJ has issued probation officers with orders permitting significant limits on their clients’ freedom.

The Daily Telegraph has seen a copy of the MoJ document, marked “Restricted” and entitled The Management of Critical Public Protection Cases and Terrorist or Terrorist Related Offenders. It states: “There is now a small but significant number of terrorists being held in custody or managed on licence.

“This instruction ensures that processes to manage offenders who pose a risk of harm to the public or whose cases pose complex management issues are effectively configured to meet the challenges of managing terrorist offenders.”

The threat of Islamic terrorism was underlined last week by the discovery of a parcel bomb on a plane at East Midlands airport, and the jailing of Roshonara Choudhry, the student who was inspired by al-Qaeda to attempt to murder the Labour MP Stephen Timms.

By some estimates there are now more than 100 convicted Islamic terrorists in the British prison system.

The Royal United Services Institute has suggested that as many as 800 Muslims have been radicalised behind bars and could present a security threat on release over the next decade. Terrorists who were eligible to be freed over the past two years included Abu Bakr Mansha, jailed for plotting to kill a British soldier, and Khalid Khaliq, an associate of the July 7 bombers who was jailed for possessing documents useful for terrorism.

The MoJ document warns that released terrorists may try to take work that puts them in contact with those who may be susceptible to extremist ideologies. “Some released offenders may express an interest in working in the field of 'deradicalisation’ or in other roles which may involve direct or indirect contact with vulnerable individuals,” it says.

Terrorist offenders, like other prisoners, are eligible for release after serving half of their sentence. If freed, they are put “on licence”, subject to restrictions which, if broken, can return them to jail.

The extensive new curbs on freed terrorists’ movements come as ministers are deciding whether to abolish control orders, the legal orders that effectively place some terrorist suspects under house arrest. Some ministers want to scrap control orders, fearing they infringe suspects’ civil liberties.

Echoing those concerns, the new instructions to probation officers warn them against the blanket application of the restrictions, saying that each curb must be carefully justified. They state: “It is not acceptable to simply add all available conditions to every case. There must be supporting evidence and argument that the proposed licence conditions are necessary and proportionate.”

The document also warns officers of the dangers of dealing with terrorist offenders. “[They] have been known to use techniques of collusion, manipulation and duress in their relationships with front line staff,” it says. “Offender managers’ potential influence on release dates could theoretically make them targets for coercion of various kinds.”

Harry Fletcher, of the National Association of Probation Officers, claimed that ministers were asking his members to deal with terrorist offenders instead of developing a coherent system for their treatment.

“It is absolutely essential that adequate resources are given to supervise these men properly,” he said. “The danger is that the licences applied to these people become control orders by the back door.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “It is entirely right and proper that the National Offender Management Service puts in place appropriate and robust licence conditions for those released under probation supervision, particularly serious and violent offenders.

“These licence conditions are based on rigorous risk assessments, and the use of tight licence conditions is by no means unique to terrorist offenders. All offenders are able to challenge licence conditions imposed, however the NOMS will always seek to ensure that licence conditions are sufficient to manage the individual’s offending behaviour.”

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday 11-08-10

Talk about irony?

Ron Paul May Oversee Fed
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Rep. Ron Paul (R., Texas), who wants to abolish the Federal Reserve, could end up overseeing it as part of the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives.
Paul is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology on the House Financial Services Committee, which has oversight for the Fed, the U.S. Mint and U.S. interaction with the World Bank, Politico points out.
The Republican leadership will make the final call on whether Paul gets to oversee the Fed, which, of course, in addition to setting monetary policy, now has an even more important role in overseeing big financial institutions including not only traditional banking giants like Bank of America(BAC_), Citigroup(C_) and Wells Fargo(WFC_), but a host of other systemically important institutions like Goldman Sachs(GS_), AIG(AIG_) and General Electric(GE_)'s financial unit.
Paul got some traction recently with legislation proposing to audit the notoriously secretive Fed. He also wants to re-establish the gold standard.
Paul won re-election to the House of Representatives easily on Tuesday, getting just over 140,000 votes, good for 76% of those who turned out in Texas's 14th District. His son, Rand Paul, also won Tuesday as a Republican senator in Kentucky, largely on the strength of his Tea Party affiliation.

Positive attitude adds years to your life
More and more studies show a positive attitude can add years to your life.
Chalk it up to stress and how it negatively impacts your health.

A Dutch study of 999 people over 65 found that more optimistic people had a 77 percent lower risk of heart disease.

A Yale study of 660 older people looked at how they viewed their usefulness as they aged. Those who were more positive lived on average 7.5 years longer.

A 30-year Mayo Clinic study found people with positive attitudes had a 50 percent lower risk of death.

In interpreting the data, David R.Hamilton writes for the Huffington Post that people with positive attitudes get less stressed on a day-to-day basis. Their attitude makes a difference when something goes wrong. Stress and the inflammation in your body that accompanies it can speed up the aging process, he says.

Pa. cops spar with licensed concealed carrierPolice confiscated guns and permits from the man after locking horns with him two weekends in a row
By Stephanie Farr
Philadelphia Inquirer

PHILADELPHIA — John Solomon thinks the police are messing with him. The police think the same thing about John Solomon.

On two afternoons in a row last week, Solomon, 24, was arrested after hanging out at a North Philadelphia bus stop, and each time, the cops confiscated from him a legally owned gun and a separate license to carry a gun, the licensed security guard said yesterday.

"They locked me up for loitering at a bus stop," said Solomon, who has a special concealed-carry permit for security-training officers and one of the controversial gun permits issued by Florida. "And they took my guns away."

Police think that Solomon was being insolent and used poor judgment, including by showing up armed at the same bus stop at which he was arrested the previous day.

"If he's that defiant, should this guy have a gun?" said Sgt. Ray Evers, a police spokesman. "The most uncommon human trait is common sense. He's not using good, adult judgment."
The first day, cops charged Solomon with a summary citation for failure to disperse when he refused to leave the bus stop at Broad Street and Olney Avenue, a "known drug corner," after being asked to do so four times by police, Evers said.

Solomon said that it's the same bus stop he waits at every day and that he allowed four buses to pass by him because it was about 3 p.m. and he didn't feel like riding a bus full of kids leaving school.

He agrees that he refused to leave when asked repeatedly by two beat cops.

"I was mad. I told them you can't lock me up for waiting for a bus," he said. "I'm allowed to miss a bus or two."

Solomon, of Germantown, an independent contractor who works with the Parapet Group, a security and law-enforcement training company, said he was taken into custody and held for seven hours. He said city police confiscated his gun and his Act 235 license, issued by State Police to security-training officers.

Solomon had received that same gun back one week earlier, after petitioning the courts for months to return it. The gun had been confiscated when he was a passenger during a 2009 car stop, he said, adding that he was never charged in that case.

When cops took his gun and Act 235 permit yesterday, they let him keep the Florida license.

Solomon said he never applied for a Pennsylvania permit, and got the Florida permit because he travels often for security work.

Residents in Pennsylvania can get a license through the mail from Florida - even if they have been denied a license here or if theirs has been revoked - because of a reciprocity agreement between Pennsylvania and a handful of other states. Anti-gun activists and politicians have called for the abolition of the so-called Florida gun loophole.

Solomon was one of nine men in an August Daily News story whose legally owned guns were taken by police while they carried a Florida permit or an Act 235.

The day after his first arrest last week, Solomon returned to the same bus stop and began taking pictures of others who were standing around, as he was instructed to do by an attorney he consulted, he said.

"A bunch of other people was loitering, but they [police] didn't say nothing to them," Solomon said.

He said that the same two beat cops approached him and that one of them erased the pictures from his cell phone. He said that one of the cops pocketed his Florida gun permit and that they took another handgun away from him.

"If I'm up there taking pictures, what is wrong with that?" he said. "What was the reason for you taking me in for investigation?"

He was again taken into custody and held for six hours. He said he received a property receipt for his gun, but not his permit. He was not charged with a crime, according to online court records.
Evers said that Solomon has been "evasive and uncooperative" and that police had every right to take his guns and permits.

"The gun has been taken because when you go through the process of arrest, we have the right to take your gun and secure it and you have to fight to get it back," he said. "If the cops tell you to move four times and you don't move, what do you expect?"

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday 11-07-10

"If ye abide in My word then are ye truly My disciples."
By J. R. Mott
Found in the 1894 Northfield Echoes (Volume 1), a report of the Northfield Conferences for 1894. These conferences featured many well-known Christian leaders such as D. L. Moody, A. J. Gordon, Andrew Murray, J. Wilbur Chapman, F. B. Meyer, C. T. Studd, and many others.

Let us first consider the IMPORTANCE OF BIBLE STUDY for a man's spiritual life, first to us as Christians. Right at the threshold, I would like to place, from the Word of God, one of the most essential tests of discipleship, "If ye abide in My word then are ye truly My disciples."

If a man wants to know the needs and possibilities of his own spiritual life, such Bible study is essential. There are many men in our colleges today who are conscientiously doing wrong; they never have listened to that commanded of Jesus Christ, "Take heed that the light which is in thee be not darkness." How a man is to know his own shortcomings, his own spiritual needs, and his own weaknesses without such Bible study is inconceivable, for that is the only book which shows us what we are, not only our needs but our possibilities. There are too many men who are content to live in the valley or to roam about among the foothills, who might be climbing upon the peaks of the higher Christian experience. We might say that the only way for a man to overcome doubts and temptations and passions, evil imaginations, unclean, unholy, and proud thoughts, is through such Bible study applied to his own life to purify and to meet this terrible conflict.

If we want to live more than ordinary spiritual lives as Christian men, it is necessary that we be great feeders upon the Word of God, which is not only quick but powerful. De Quincey divided all literature into the literature of knowledge and the literature of power - this is pre-eminently the literature of power. "If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will and it shall be done unto you." And still further, we might make this additional statement, that without spiritual Bible study, other spiritual helps may often lead us in danger, and ultimately they may be abandoned. Take the matter of meditation; without the Bible, meditation may lead a man to morbid introspection. Secret prayer is not a monologue, but is a dialogue.

But we might feel the importance of Bible study, secondly, not merely as Christian men, but as Christian teachers. I love to think of this conference where we are as a Bible school pre-eminently, and not only that, but a normal Bible school. I hope that a large number of the men here are purposing in their hearts to teach Bible classes; perhaps during the summer vacation, but certainly as you go back to college, though it may be to a class of but two or three that meets in your room. The importance of personal Bible study of a spiritual character is seen in classes like this. What teacher helps you most in things intellectual or spiritual? Was it not the man who had the life behind the teaching? If a man is going to be sincere it is absolutely essential. As I travel among the colleges, especially those that have an elective system, I notice that the students would rather drink from the running stream than from a stagnant pool. If we want to be teachers that men will follow and hear with enthusiasm we must be growing. If a man strikes a rich vein himself he will set all his scholars to digging. If you would hold the interest and enthusiasm and tIle attendance of your Bible classes, center on your own spiritual life. If you want power to move that class center there.

In the third place, there is the importance of such Bible study for us as Christian workers. Would you work without friction, without worrying, without strain, and without anxiety? I know there are some men here who want to learn that secret. The wheels must be oiled by these words in the heart and in the life. Would you be kept from becoming mechanical? It may be that this is our greatest need in our associations, and therefore there is great need of our having the realities of this Bible constantly in our thoughts and minds, and of having the fullest experience, the richest experience day by day, otherwise our work may become unsuccessful and purely mechanical; we may work from a sense of duty, with no life in it. If you would make the environment around you and shape the work with a strong hand, and not simply be shaped and driven by it, build up a rich, full inner life. Then if a man is to have fruits in his work, it is necessary that in his thought and plan of study he put his spiritual life first. By our fruits we are known. The condition of fruitfulness is abiding in Christ, and one of the fundamental conditions is abiding in His Word.

We notice in the fourth place the importance of this kind of Bible study to us as individual men, not only as Christians, as Christian teachers and Christian workers, but as Christian leaders. That is what this conference stands for, still further. If a man is to have a spiritual association he must be spiritual. It is impossible for the stream to rise above the fountain; moreover, if we would be successful leaders we must study with great intensity the mind of Jesus Christ only revealed here in His Word, and the will of God, which is after all the supreme study. There is a deeper truth that stirs me at times, and that is if we are going to have the true secret of Christian leadership we must study that leader of Christian leaders, Jesus Christ. There we find the secret that He came not to be ministered unto; He went about as one that served, He taught that he who would be greatest must be the servant of all; that is the secret of enduring leadership in things spiritual.

So much for the importance of Bible study for our own spiritual life; might we not pause a moment on some of the HINDRANCES, so called? And in the first place let us consider that so called hindrance - I would call it an excuse - lack of time. I only need to say that there is time to do the will of God, and there is time to keep alive spiritually. Experience proves that the man who puts this first and keeps it first does not suffer in other things; that is the practical test. There is another hindrance that is more real, preoccupation. See college men often, who say, "I am studying the Bible with other thoughts in mind." One man says, "I am studying the Bible to get an intellectual knowledge of its contents, and isn't that sufficient?" A man may know the whole machinery of the Bible and not know its message to him; I may know all the facts about Jesus Christ, and not know Jesus Christ as my Saviour and constant companion. Another man says: "I am teaching the Bible, I am teaching a devotional group; that ought to do for me." If a man first studies those lessons with reference to his own life, and shuts out the thought of the class, it might do, but if his first thought is the class, and how he will teach that lesson, he is on the wrong track. You have your own particular spiritual needs, they may not be the needs of the class; and besides you need to have God speak to you every day. Another test is removing the incentive. Suppose the term breaks up and you go home, there is great danger that when the incentive is removed the man will stop the study.

There is another hindrance brought forward by a great many Christian people-substituting devotional books. They say, "I am studying devotional books along with my intellectual study, and isn't that a substitute?" I leave it to anyone whether it is a substitute." The most appealing tones in these books are but echoes of the voice of the Bible. We put a great deal of stress on going to first sources in history and in science, and why not go to first sources in things spiritual? Another instance which I think is a real one is found in our own lives. Do you lack delight in Bible study? Do you lack desire for this kind of Bible study? Does your pride tell you that you may be humbled? Does something tell you that if you listen to the voice of God He will lead you away from the calling you are marking out for yourself? Is there any secret thing with thee that keeps thee from this habit of spiritual Bible study, the daily application to it in your life?' More perhaps are kept from it by lack of a suitable course.

I would like to speak of a few SUGGESTIVE COURSES which I have drawn largely from some of the most spiritual of Bible students. First, a man ought, if possible, before this to have understood the construction of the book, its contents, its measures, and its purpose; in fact, if a man could have studied the Bible as a whole in advance, he would be a much safer man to use it devotionally.

Another line which I have been trying in the last two months is to study "The messages of the epistles to me." This is in part book study. You can just take your Bible and have little slips in it and have, for example, on one slip, the life of Christ, everything in that epistle which He speaks to you, and after that His inner life, His outer life and His relation to the others; on another slip, all in that epistle on the Christian life, inner and outer, and on another slip, the writer's life in Christ, keeping in mind all the while the life of Christ, and what it teaches you. Keep these in mind as you look at Christ in that epistle, and then look at the direct indications and instructions to you as a Christian, in your outer or inner life.

For another course of studying the Bible, take it in biographical sections. What inspiration would come into our associations if we had several classes spending a month on each of these characters - Moses, Elijah, David, Daniel, John, Peter, Timothy, and Paul, taking an outline as simple as this: The thoughts, lines and purposes of their lives; the motives that actuated them; the difficulties that they encountered; their achievements for God, and the elements of success in their lives. You can adapt it to a few minutes every day.

Then we may study it topically. For two years I have taken this topic, "Christ as a pattern for me as a worker." For most of us it would take several lives to finish that study. The headings are these: His preparation for His work - we all need that; His call for His work - we need that; the field where He worked; the nature of His work; the manner in which He worked; the spirit in which He worked; the opposition to His work; the achievements of enduring success in His life as a worker. Other courses are Mr. Speer's" Evidences of Christ's Divinity," or Mr. McConaughy's "Christ Among Men," or that which Professor Drummond suggested, "The Kingdom of God," or "The Will of God." A man cannot know the will of God unless he saturates himself with the will of God. Mark out a course for yourself, break it up into convenient divisions, and hold to it; you may be discouraged in ten days, but hold to it. It will begin to tell on your life in a month's time.

Now we will pass on to notice in the fourth place the MANNER OF SUCH STUDY, drawn from the experience of students of the Bible. In the first place, be alone where possible, in order that you may speak out loud in your room without interruption. Again, let there be resolute detachment of mind. You may have only ten minutes a day for this kind of study, but you don't want to spend ten minutes getting keyed up, you want to turn to your study instantly and hear the voice of God the very first thing. Another suggestion, don't be sidetracked. That is the great peril, especially among college men. They come to questions and difficulties and think they must look them up at once.

Make a list of those things on a sheet of paper, but remember that those ten minutes, or that half hour better, is to meet our needs for this day, to equip us for this day spiritually. Then again be thorough, and record results. Some may not attach as much importance to that, but to my mind it is very important. Record results, even If you don't get but one point a day. One point a day in the course of a year will give a man a gold mine; one little leading of the spirit a day would enrich a life. The last suggestion would be meditate, without meditation such Bible study may be of no effect. Jeremiah said, "Thy words were found and I did eat them."

In the fifth place I would speak of the SPIRIT in which we should carry on such study: First of all it ought to be an intense spirit, secondly a childlike spirit, and closely akin to that is the spirit of dependence upon the Holy Ghost. The Holy Spirit must interpret what the Holy Spirit has inspired. If a man is going to take in the deep things of God he must repeat over many times that prayer, "Open Thou mine eyes, I cannot open them myself." Closely akin to that it should be a prayerful spirit. And then let it be an obedient spirit, and again, a practical spirit.

In the sixth place I would speak of the TIME. We should fix an hour, a regular time, and hold to it as the laws of the Medes and Persians were held to. Again, let it be daily. Too many students are doing their Bible study on one or two days of the week. The world pulls me down daily, self asserts itself more than once a day in my life, and the devil is laying more than one snare each day to entrap me; and therefore a man ought to fortify his life at least once a day if he is going to win the battle. Also it ought to be unhurried time. Oh, how much we need that! It takes time to be spiritual, it doesn't happen. Let it not only be an unhurried time, but an uninterrupted time. You say that is difficult. David Brainerd found it difficult at Yale, but he managed to get alone, and often he would memorize passages of Scripture and would go among the snowdrifts that he might be alone to meditate and to absorb the truth. Hudson Taylor told us In 1888 here at Northfield how he found time to be alone; he said: "I adopted this plan in China, of getting up at two o'clock in the morning to study the Bible, and then retiring again in order that I might be absolutely alone and uninterrupted." We can be alone. Let it be the choicest time of the day. Each man must determine for himself; for some it would be the last thing at night; for some the first thing after dinner; for most of us. it would be the first thing in the day. The mind is less occupied in the morning, and is clearer, and the "memory as a rule is more retentive in the morning; and again, and this is the big reason, it prepares the man for his daily fight with self, sin, and Satan; before he is half through he is ready for the fight. Some of you remember those words of Ruskin, "Study the Bible, making it your first daily business to understand some portion of it, and then your business the rest of the day to see that you obey what you understand." John Wesley used to rise at four o'clock and spend two hours in Bible study and prayer and meditation, and the saintly Rutherford used to rise early and spend the first hour of the day in the same way. And above all, you remember Jesus Christ rising a great while before it was yet day. What He found necessary, you and I will find necessary for us.

Do you have a longing this morning for a richer, more abundant life? Then let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Shall we have these great spiritual awakenings this next year all over this country and Canada? Then let us realize in our lives Christ's promise that out of your inmost selves shall flow Jordans of living water.

Spirituality costs. Shall we pay what it costs? May the Spirit of God help us to answer that question.

Okla. Islamic law ban could block Ten Commandments, too
OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma Muslim filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday to block a state constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by voters that would prohibit state courts from considering international law or Islamic law when deciding cases.
The measure, which got 70% of the vote in Tuesday's election, was one of several on Oklahoma's ballot that critics said pandered to conservatives and would move the state further to the right.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City, seeks a temporary retraining order and injunction to block the election results from being certified by the state Election Board on Nov. 9. Among other things, the lawsuit alleges the ballot measure transforms Oklahoma's Constitution into "an enduring condemnation" of Islam by singling it out for special restrictions by barring Islamic law, also known as Sharia law.

"We have a handful of politicians who have pushed an amendment onto our state ballot and then conducted a well-planned and well-funded campaign of misinformation and fear," said Muneer Awad, who filed the suit and is executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma. "We have certain unalienable rights, and those rights cannot be taken away from me by a political campaign." About 20,000 and 30,000 Muslims live in Oklahoma, Awad estimated.

Legal experts have also questioned the measure.

Joseph Thai, a professor at the University of Oklahoma's College of Law, said the ballot measure is "an answer in search of a problem." He said he knows of no other state that has approved similar measures.

"There is no plausible danger of international law or Sharia law overtaking the legal system," Thai said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. He said courts only consider international law when deciding issues involving a federal treaty, a business contract or a will that incorporates international law.

Thai said the ballot measure "raises thorny church-state problems as well" and could even affect a state judge's ability to consider the Ten Commandments.

"The Ten Commandments, of course, is international law. It did not originate in Oklahoma or the United States," Thai said.

The measure is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1. It's author, Rep. Rex Duncan, R-Sand Springs, said it was not intended to attack Muslims but to prevent activist judges from relying on international law or Islamic law when ruling on legal cases.

"The threat posed by activist judges is clear," Duncan said. "It shouldn't matter what the law in France or any other European country is."

Duncan described the measure as "a pre-emptive strike" in Oklahoma, where he said activist judges are not an imminent problem. But some judges elsewhere, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, believe courts should look to the law of other countries for guidance when deciding cases, he said.

Ginsburg told a meeting of international lawyers in Washington in July that American judges can learn from their foreign counterparts when seeking solutions to "trying questions."

"The only people who would be a victim of this are activist judges," said Duncan, who in 2007 rejected a Quran as a gift from a council created by Gov. Brad Henry, explaining that "most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology."

One Oklahoma resident said he voted for the measure on Tuesday because chaos might ensue if judges were permitted to rely on international or religious laws in their courts.

"Any private organization could come in and say the judge has to rule according to our rules and regulations and overrule state laws," Oklahoma City attorney Jerry Fent said. "How many religions could you have?"

But Laura Gorton, a college student from Oklahoma City, said she saw no need for the measure and voted against it.

"It's not an issue here," Gorton said. "It's almost like an attempt to make a jab at other cultures."

Among the 10 other questions on Tuesday's ballot were a measure that would make English the state's official language and another one the allows residents to "opt-out" of the new federal health care reform law. Both passed.

The questions are the product of a Republican-controlled Legislature, which circumvented Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry — a Democrat— to take them to the ballot. Critics say Republicans were trying to beef up voter turnout among certain conservative groups by appealing to biases on immigration, Islam and the reach of Washington in a state where President Barack Obama failed to win a single county in 2008.

Republicans have denied there is a conspiracy, saying that some of the measures are designed to protect citizens from the reach of the federal government.

Bacteria that Dissolve Steel
Matthew 6:19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal." They work silently and in the dark. While most of Earth's inhabitants need oxygen for life, they merely tolerate it. They prefer to build their own environments where there's no oxygen. Then they go to work. And they love metal. Using complex chemistry, they begin dissolving metal. The can make a sixteenth-of-an-inch hole through an inch-thick pipe in six months. Stainless steel isn't so tough – it doesn't slow them down a bit. Even modern space age metals like titanium can't stand up to them.

No, we're not talking about some hideous creatures from outer space. These strange-sounding creatures are called sulfate-reducing bacteria. Each year, metal corrosion causes about $167 billion in damage. And a large part of that damage is caused by bacteria destroying metal pipes.

Sulfate-reducing bacteria begin by sealing off their colony from liquid in a pipe or tank. Once sealed off, bacteria begin forming hydrogen gas. Sealed under the biosphere, the hydrogen accumulates and is absorbed by the metal. The absorbed hydrogen begins to corrode and make the metal brittle. Researchers, using pipes coated with epoxy, couldn't stop the bugs. It appears that the bugs thought the pigment in epoxy made a great change of diet.

Despite our modern scientific sophistication, moth and rust continue to afflict our efforts. This is God's way of reminding us that we, along with the creation, are afflicted with sin and are in need of the forgiveness of sins that is ours only through Jesus Christ.


(Friday Church News Notes, October 29, 2010,,, 866-295-4143) - The following is from WorldNetDaily, Oct. 21, 2010: “A single, 31-year-old woman in Michigan who posted a note on her church bulletin board seeking a ‘Christian roommate’ to share her residence has been cited by the state for violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against those of other faiths. The complaint signed by Tyra Khan, a ‘Civil Rights Representative’ of the state of Michigan Department of Civil Rights, surfaced when the Alliance Defense Fund announced today it was representing the woman. ADF spokesman Joel Oster confirmed the organization sent a letter to the state explaining that such housing rules don't apply to people living in their own homes and wanting to share their resources. ‘[Tricia] is a single lady looking for a roommate. She is not a landlord. She does not own a management company. She does not run an apartment complex. She is a single person seeking to have a roommate live with her in her house,’ the letter said. ‘She is not prohibited by either federal law or state law from seeking a Christian roommate. Neither Title VII of the US Fair Housing Civil Rights Act of 1968 nor the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act No. 453 prevents a woman like [her] from seeking a Christian roommate.’ ... The letter asked for an immediate dismissal of the case, but Oster confirmed to WND today that he had not received a response. ... ‘Christians shouldn’t live in fear of being punished by the government for being Christians. It is completely absurd to try to penalize a single Christian woman for privately seeking a Christian roommate at church--an obviously legal and constitutionally protected activity,’ said Oster, a senior legal counsel with the ADF.”

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Saturday 11-06-10

(Friday Church News Notes, November 5, 2010,,, 866-295-4143) - U.S. President Barak Obama is preparing for a trip to India fit for an ancient king. The cost per day for the royal couple Obama and Michele and their 3,000-member entourage is a mind-boggling $200 million a day (“US to spend $200 mn a day,” Press Trust of India, Nov. 2, 2010). They have reserved an entire hotel, the exclusive Taj in Mumbai. This is only the latest in a continual series of hugely expensive trips for the royal couple, together and alone, with lots of friends in tow on the nation’s tab. What could motivate a U.S. president to spend such a massive amount of money on a trip to a third-rate country, or any country for that matter? It is simple. The man is the king of the entitlement mentality. He deserves the royal treatment. Further, he an elitist. He thinks he is very, very special. Even Chris Matthews, a liberal political commentator who supports Obama’s big-spending socialism, called him an “elitist ... with teleprompter” in a recent appearance on the Andrea Mitchell show on MSNBC. Matthews said, “He hasn’t listened. He’s talked at us rather than with us. ... middle-aged people are losing their jobs ... and this guy’s out doing his pet projects. And they wonder why he isn’t their president, why he’s only his own president.” Indeed. He is King Obama.

FEMA's data collection and analysis of national preparedness information stalled Federal Emergency Management Agency efforts to collect data on national preparedness capabilities has been helpful, but the data is sometimes unreliable and data-collection methodology is not standardized, according to a Government Accountability Office report released publically Oct. 29.

"Without defining capability requirements, FEMA and its local, state, tribal and federal preparedness stakeholders cannot implement a standardized approach to identifying capability gaps," says the GAO report.

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FEMA has made some progress in addressing the challenges of data collection by creating a web-based survey tool for more systematic entry of state, tribal and local preparedness information. However, data entered through the tool has limited reliability because no standardization exists for data entry and jurisdictions input data and information based on self-assessments, the report states.

Since April 2009, FEMA has focused on implementing a five-step process for analyzing data, called the Comprehensive Assessment System. However, FEMA has been unable to build a measurable framework for data assessment because it is stalled at the fourth step: Reporting national preparedness capabilities.

The Reporting Requirements Working Group, which was focused on national preparedness analysis efforts and met eight times from August 2009 through April 2010, was discontinued by FEMA in June 2010. The group's work was halted prior to the development of a system or specific recommendations for streamlining reporting methods.

UN calls for taxes to fund climate warning fight
The UN advisory group charged with finding ways to fund methods to combat climate change Friday called for "alternative financing," including taxes on financial transactions.

Great balls of fire over Canada: NASA investigates

MONTREAL — Great balls of fire have been reported swooping over Eastern Canada and several U.S. states.

Even NASA's on the case.

There are different theories about what was behind the sighting of those fireballs. A NASA spacecraft got a closer look at one of the possible sources today.

The spacecraft flew past Hartley 2 -- taking closeup pictures after the comet made one of its closest passes by Earth this week.

But one expert is skeptical of reports that any fireballs came from Hartley -- which is roughly 1.2 kilometres wide and spews deadly cyanide gas.

Scientist Peter Brown says his meteor group at the University of Western Ontario tracked one of two fireballs while the other was tracked by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday 11-05-10

The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.

~ Patrick Henry

Privacy advocates fear massive fed health database
U.S. Office of Personnel Management wants to collect data from three health programs
Several privacy groups have raised alarms over plans by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to build a database that would contain information about the healthcare claims of millions of Americans.

The concerns have surfaced because the OPM has provided few details about the new database and because the data collected will be shared with law enforcement, third-party researchers and others.

In a letter to OPM Director John Berry, the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and 15 other organizations asked the agency to release more details on the need for the database and how the data contained in it will be protected and used.

The OPM "should not create this massive database full of detailed individual health records without giving the public a full and fair chance to evaluate the specifics of the program," the letter cautioned.

It also called upon the OPM to delay its proposed Nov. 15 launch date for the database because there was not enough time for independent observers to evaluate the proposal.

According to the OPM, the planned Health Claims Data Warehouse is designed to help the agency more cost-effectively manage three health claims programs: the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP), the National Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program and the Multi-State Option Plan.

The pre-existing condition program, which launched in August, and the multi-state option plan, which is scheduled to go into effect in January 2014, were both introduced earlier this year as part of the Affordable Care Act, the law designed to overhaul health care in the U.S. that was signed by President Obama in March. The OPM is in charge of administering the FEHBP as well as the two new programs.

In a formal notice published in the Federal Register last month, the OPM said that creating a central and comprehensive database would allow it to more actively manage the programs and ensure "best value for both enrollees and taxpayers."

As part of the effort, the OPM will establish direct data feeds with each of the three programs and will continuously collect, manage and analyze health services data. The data that the agency collects will include individuals' names, addresses, Social Security numbers and dates of birth, plus the names of their spouses and other information about dependents, and information about their healthcare coverage, procedures and diagnoses.

According to the so-called systems of record notice (SORN) that the OPM published in the Federal Register, the data collected will be de-identified, which means that details that would tie pieces of data to specific individuals would be removed. This process would occur "in many instances" and before an analysis is conducted, the OPM reports. However, the notice offers no details on how and when such de-identification will be done or the extent to which personal identifiers will be removed before analysis.

In addition to using the data for its own internal analysis, the OPM will also make it available, if required, for law enforcement purposes and for use in judicial or administrative proceedings, and to "researchers and analysts" inside and outside government for healthcare research purposes, the OPM notice said.

The OPM's notice is troubling for its lack of detail and the limited time it offers for evaluation, said Harley Geiger, policy counsel for the CDT.

"There are far too many unknowns about the program for it to be acceptable," at this point, Geiger said.

While the OPM, for instance, has indicated that the data it collects will help to better administer the three healthcare programs, there are no details why the data will be useful, he said.

The OPM did not respond to several requests for comment.

The OPM has also made little mention of how it plans to protect the data it collects or what its processes for de-identification are going to be, Geiger said. Regulations in HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) require specific steps for making health care data anonymous, but there is no indication that the OPM will adopt those standards or something else, Geiger said.

The OPM's statement that it will share the data with third-party researchers and analysts is also deeply troubling, as is its willingness to make the data available for law enforcement and judicial purposes, he said.

At a minimum, the OPM needs to issue a revised notice fleshing out its plans in more detail and to provide a genuine opportunity for public comment, Geiger said. "This goes completely against public expectations of confidentiality in their [health] records," he said. "People expect their healthcare provider to have their medical information. What they don't expect is for the government to get a copy of that which they will then disclose to law enforcement and to Congress and to researchers."

Deborah Peel, founder and chairwoman of the Patient Privacy Rights Foundation in Austin, said the OPM's database proposal raises serious privacy concerns. One of the biggest concerns revolves around the fact that the OPM will share the data it collects with third-party researchers. While the OPM says the data will be used only for medical research purposes, such data is almost never used that way, she said.

Most third-party "research" involving protected health information is more about commercial, business analytics than it is about helping patients or doctors, Peel said. "Although this proposal is being described as intended to help promote medical research and efficiency analysis, we do not see adequate safeguards to ensure that the aggregated records are not used as fodder for the health data mining industry," she said.

City Officials: Tap Water Shows Elevated Lead Levels
The Department of Environmental Protection said Thursday wait before you drink what’s coming out of your faucet, reports CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman
Like most people, when Natalia Cole of Maspeth, Queens heard there were elevated levels of lead in the city’s water supply, she got a bit nervous.

“There’s nothing I can do,” she said.

But the city said what was found was an increase in lead so small, it won’t hurt you.

“The levels that were detected, which were very slightly above the action level that the EPA defines, don’t pose any clear public health risk,” said NYC DEP Commissioner Cas Holloway.

Holloway and Dr. Thomas Farley, the city’s health commissioner, held a joint press conference about the slight increase in lead in the city’s water, and urged all New Yorkers to run cold water first before using it for drinking or cooking.

Guzman talked with Dr. John Rosen of Montefiore Hospital, an expert in lead poisoning among children. He said that while there’s not enough lead in water to be a problem …

“When it comes to lead, it’s always better to be safe than sorry because according to the U.S. CDC, according to the U.S. EPA, there really is no level of lead that’s safe in children,” Dr. Rosen said.

The potential for lead in the water increases in buildings and homes built before 1987, because lead solder was used to seal pipe joints. And for buildings put up before 1961, there’s an even greater concern — because the pipelines that brought water to those homes were made entirely of lead.
One Reason To Take New Search Engine Blekko Seriously (GOOG, MSFT)

Starting a new search engine is a rough business. Even the most promising attempts to challenge Google (and now Bing) always end up as punchlines: think Cuil or Wolfram Alpha.

Still, we think Blekko, which just launched publicly this morning, is worth paying attention to. Yes, it will probably fail -- all startups are long shots, and competing with Google and Microsoft from day one is an extreme long shot. But, Blekko doesn't need to beat either of them, but it just has to come in third place to be big enough to matter.

That said, Blekko has one big advantage over a lot of would-be Google competitors: Google couldn't copy its core selling point even if it wanted to.

The main differentiator of Blekko is the 'slashtag'. Slashtags are essentially filters for search results. Core slashtags are maintained by the community, a la Wikipedia, and consist of a list of domains that are considered authoritative on issues in those categories. So if a user types, say, '/health' after a search term, only results from sites considered sources of quality health content will be displayed.

The important new feature that is being announced with today's public launch is the 'autofiring' of slashtags. Starting with seven key search categories -- health, finance, lyrics, etc. -- Blekko algorithmically detects when a search query would normally return a lot of 'spammy' results from within a certain category, generally from SEO farms. It then automatically applies the relevant slashtag, so that users never see spammy content to begin with.

This does seem to improve the quality -- and in some cases safety -- of search results in the covered areas. And, unlike most innovations in search, this isn't something Google can simply replicate. Because the search leader is under constant regulatory scrutiny, it is constantly trying to prove that it takes no editorial stand whatsoever. Every tweak Google makes to its algorithm is met with howls of protest. If it started overtly excluding huge swathes of domains on subjective grounds, it would be swimming in lawsuits over night.

It seems clear that Blekko's slashtags can be useful for some categories of search. Whether they can be useful more broadly, and whether the company can build up a large, active community to help it make them useful, remains to be seen. But if there's really something here, Google may have trouble finding a way to replicate Blekko's upside without getting itself in trouble.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wednesday 11-03-10

Fed Easing May Mean 20% Dollar Drop
The dollar is in danger of losing 20 percent of its value over the next few years if the Federal Reserve continues unconventional monetary easing, Bill Gross, the manager of the world's largest mutual fund, said on Monday.

"Other countries and citizens are willing to work for less and willing to work harder—and we forgot the magic formula somewhere along the way," Gross said.

"I think a 20 percent decline in the dollar is possible," Gross said, adding the pace of the currency's decline was also an important consideration for investors.

"When a central bank prints trillions of dollars of checks, which is not necessarily what (a second round of quantitative easing) will do in terms of the amount, but if it gets into that territory—that is a debasement of the dollar in terms of the supply of dollars on a global basis," Gross told Reuters in an interview at his PIMCO headquarters.

The Fed will probably begin a new round of monetary easing this week by announcing a plan to buy at least $500 billion of long-term securities, what investors and traders refer to as QE II, according to a Reuters poll of primary dealers.

"QEII not only produces more dollars but it also lowers the yield that investors earn on them and makes foreigners, which is the key link to the currencies, it makes foreigners less willing to hold dollars in current form or at current prices," Gross added.

To a certain extent, that is what the Treasury Department and Fed "in combination" want, said Gross, who runs the $252 billion Total Return Fund and oversees more than $1.1 trillion as co-chief investment officer.

"The fundamental problem here is that our labor and developed economy labor relative to developing economy labor is so mismatched—China can do it so much more cheaply," he said.

Current DateTime: 01:03:51 03 Nov 2010
LinksList Documentid: 39957216
How a Weak Dollar is GoodWill QE2 Work?The World's Biggest Debtor Nations
Many Americans believe that the Chinese government is manipulating its currency and in effect stealing away American jobs and throwing the U.S. in an ever-deepening trade deficit.

But Gross said this is a byproduct of a globalized economy.

"It is a globalized economy of our own doing for the past 20-30 years. We encouraged all of this, but it is coming back to haunt us. To the extent that Chinese labor, Vietnamese labor, Brazilian labor, Mexican labor, wherever it is coming from that labor is outcompeting us and holding down our economy," he said.

Gross added: "One of the ways to get even, so to speak, or to get the balance, is to debase your currency faster than anybody else can. It's a shock because the dollar is the reserve currency. But to the extent that that is a necessary condition for rebalancing the global economy over time, then that is where we are headed."

"Other countries and citizens are willing to work for less and willing to work harder—and we forgot the magic formula somewhere along the way," Gross said.

In that regard, Americans should be investing a lot more overseas than they are to find growth as the U.S. remains in a slowish-growth environment, he said.

"Pension funds and Americans, in general, have a problem because their liabilities are dollar-denominated. It's probably worth the risk of getting out of dollars and getting into emerging countries and going where the growth is. All of which entails risk relative to the home country. But there's probably a bigger risk in simply staying comfortably within the confines of dollar-based investments."

QE2 risks currency wars and the end of dollar hegemony
The Fed's "QE2" risks accelerating the demise of the dollar-based currency system, perhaps leading to an unstable tripod with the euro and yuan, or a hybrid gold standard, or a multi-metal "bancor" along lines proposed by John Maynard Keynes in the 1940s.

China's commerce ministry fired an irate broadside against Washington on Monday. "The continued and drastic US dollar depreciation recently has led countries including Japan, South Korea, and Thailand to intervene in the currency market, intensifying a 'currency war'. In the mid-term, the US dollar will continue to weaken and gaming between major currencies will escalate," it said.

David Bloom, currency chief at HSBC, said the root problem is lack of underlying demand in the global economy, leaving Western economies trapped near stalling speed. "There are no policy levers left. Countries are having to tighten fiscal policy, and interest rates are already near zero. The last resort is a weaker currency, so everybody is trying to do it," he said.

Pious words from G20 summit of finance ministers last month calling for the world to "refrain" from pursuing trade advantage through devaluation seem most honoured in the breach.

Taiwan intervened on Monday to cap the rise of its currency, while Korea's central bank chief said his country is eyeing capital controls as part of its "toolkit" to stem the flood of Fed-created money leaking out of the US and sloshing into Asia. Brazil has just imposed a 2pc tax on inflows into both bonds and equities – understandably, since the real has risen by 35pc against the dollar this year and the country has a current account deficit.

"It is becoming harder to mop up the liquidity flowing into these countries," said Neil Mellor, of the Bank of New York Mellon. "We fully expect more central banks to impose capital controls over the next couple of months. That is the world we live in," he said. Globalisation is unravelling before our eyes.

Each case is different. For the 40-odd countries pegged to the dollar or closely linked by a "dirty float", the Fed's lax policy is causing havoc. They are importing a monetary policy that is far too loose for the needs of fast-growing economies. What was intended to be an anchor of stability has become a danger.

Hong Kong's dollar peg, dating back to the 1960s, makes it almost impossible to check a wild credit boom. House prices have risen 50pc since January 2009, despite draconian curbs on mortgages. Barclays Capital said Hong Kong may switch to a yuan peg within two years.

Mr Bloom said these countries are under mounting pressure to break free from the dollar. "They are all asking themselves whether these pegs are a relic of the past," he said.

China faces a variant of the problem with its mixed currency basket, a sort of "crawling peg". Commerce minister Chen Deming said last week that US dollar issuance is "out of control". It is causing a surge of imported inflation in China.

Critics in the US Congress say China could solve that particular problem very quickly by letting the yuan rise enough to bring the country's $180bn trade surplus into balance.

They say the strategy of holding down the yuan to underpin China's export-led model is the real source of galloping wage and price inflation on China's eastern seaboard. The central bank has accumulated $2.5 trillion of foreign bonds but lacks the sophisticated instruments to "sterilise" these purchases and stem inflationary "blow-back".

But whatever the rights and wrongs of the argument, the reality is that a chorus of Chinese officials and advisers is demanding that China switch reserves into gold or forms of oil. As this anti-dollar revolt gathers momentum worldwide, the US risks losing its "exorbitant privilege" of currency hegemony – to use the term of Charles de Gaulle.

The innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire of Fed policy are poor countries such as India, where primary goods make up 60pc of the price index and food inflation is now running at 14pc. It is hard to gauge the impact of a falling dollar on commodities, but the pattern in mid-2008 was that it led to oil, metal, and grain price rises with multiple leverage. The core victims were the poorest food-importing countries in Africa and South Asia. Tell them that QE2 brings good news.

So the question that Ben Bernanke and his colleagues should ask themselves is whether they have thought through the global ramifications of their actions, and how the strategic consequences might rebound against America itself.