Monday, January 30, 2012

California: The Golden Bear Bones Republic

Gov. Brown: High-speed rail system will be 'a lot cheaper' than $100 billion

Gov. Moonbeam says his Super Train boondoggle will not cost $100 billion because he can strong-arm companies with the state’s new Thermageddon Law.


So, Jerry, What exactly does this mean?  I guess $90 Billion would be a snap for your fellow bankrupt slackers to squeeze out of the few remaining businesses in California.

LOS ANGELES -- Gov. Jerry Brown told a Los Angeles TV station today that the state's proposed high speed rail system will cost much less than $100 billion, and will partly be funded by new taxes on major air pollution emitters.

The governor told ABC 7's "Eyewitness Newsmakers" program that environmental impact fees paid by industries that emit large amounts of greenhouse gas will help fund the big train project. California has a "cap and trade" law that will collect fees if businesses do not reduce emissions, the governor said.

The Sacramento Bee reported, however, that the governor's budget is not clear on exactly how $1 billion in annual cap and trade revenue will be extracted from California industries next year.

The governor also dismissed a recent High Speed Rail business plan that predicted a $100 billion cost for the bullet train system, which is supposed to link the Bay Area with Los Angeles. Voters had approved a plan that was estimated to cost $45 billion.

The governor has said plans to slow down construction would balloon the costs due to inflation, and said today building it quickly will keep the cost low.

"It's not going to be $100 billion," the governor said on ABC7 today. "That's way off."

In remarks made on Channel 7 and transcribed by the Sacramento Bee newspaper, Brown said the advanced travel system is needed in California.

"It's going to be a lot cheaper than people are saying," he said.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gingrich is happy, and so is Obama

As he prepares for his third State of the Union address--and, he hopes, not his last--Barack Obama's likelihood of reelection has soared in the last few days to 56.8 percent, the highest it has been since last July. This movement correlates with Newt Gingrich's increased likelihood of gaining the Republican nomination, now at 29.7 percent, up from about 5 percent. This upward trend also correlates with a simultaneous downward movement of Mitt Romney's likelihood of winning the presidency if he wins the nomination, now at 44.0, down from about 48 percent. We utilize prediction market data for these likelihoods.
Likelihoods from 2012 Presidential Election
Sources: Betfair and Intrade
In short, the markets think Obama is more likely to defeat Gingrich than Romney, so when the former speaker's fortunes elevate, so do the president's. Over the last week, Gingrich's likelihood of winning the nomination has climbed from about 5 percent to about 30 percent. Currently, Gingrich is about 39 percent likely to defeat Obama if he makes it to the general election, while Romney is about 44 percent likely to reach the White House if he's the nominee.
An ordinary least squares regression--one of the most weathered tools in the statistician's toolbelt--determines that the Gingrich-Romney battle determines about 87.5 percent of the variability in Obama's likelihood of reelection. To wit, for every 10 percent more likely Gingrich is to win the nomination, Obama is 0.75 percent more likely to win reelection. For every 10 percent less likely Romney is to win the election if he wins the nomination, Obama is 2.75 percent more likely to win reelection. If they're watching the same markets we are at 1600 Pennsylvania, you can be sure they're wearing Gingrich pom-poms.
Follow along on PredictWise for the real-time likelihood of the upcoming republican primaries, the Republican nomination, and the presidential election.
David Rothschild is an economist at Yahoo! Research. He has a Ph.D. in applied economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. His dissertation is in creating aggregated forecasts from individual-level information. Follow him on Twitter @DavMicRot and email him at thesignal@yahoo-inc.com.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Beware the Bozone Layer


Definitions from the Badger Lake Unabridged Dictionary
 

1. Cashtration(n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.

2. Ignoranus: A person who’s both stupid and an asshole.

3. Intaxicaton: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

5. Bozone ( n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high

8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.

9. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

10.Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

11.Karmageddon: It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like, a serious bummer.

12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

13. Glibido: All talk and no action.

14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.

16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

17. Caterpallor ( n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you’re eating. ________________________

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How Did Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged' Predict an America Spinning Out of Control?

Nearly thirty years after her death, Ayn Rand’s novels continue to be wildly popular—"Atlas Shrugged" alone is selling more today than it did when it was first published in 1957 -- more than one million copies have sold since the 2008 elections.

Especially among Tea Partiers, Ayn Rand is being hailed a prophet. How could she have anticipated, more than 50 years ago, a United States spinning out of financial control, plagued by soaring spending and crippling regulations?

How could she have painted villains who seem ripped from today’s headlines?

There’s Wesley Mouch, who in the face of failed government programs screams like Rep. Barney Frank (D) of Massachusetts for wider powers.

There’s Eugene Lawson, “the banker with a heart,” who like former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is ever ready with a bailout.

There’s Mr. Thompson, who like President Obama seeks to rally the country behind pious platitudes.

There’s Orren Boyle, who like President Bush says that we must abandon free-market principles to save the free market.

And in the face of this onslaught, what can you do? Should you, like Rand’s heroes, “go Galt,” stop working, retreat to a secluded valley, and try to rebuild only when the country has collapsed?

Rand was asked these very questions in her own lifetime. Her answers might surprise you.

In the 1970s, America was in a deep financial crisis (a new word, stagflation, had to be coined), urban violence was rampant, and power-seeking politicians like President Nixon instituted wage and price controls that led to, among other things, gas stations with no gas.

How, people wondered, could Rand have foreseen all this? Was she a prophet? No, she answered. She had simply identified the basic cause of why the country was veering from crisis to new crisis.

Was the solution to “go Galt” and quit society? No, Rand again answered. The solution was simultaneously much easier and much harder. “So long as we have not yet reached the state of censorship of ideas,” she once said, “one does not have to leave a society in the way the characters did in Atlas Shrugged. . . . But you know what one does have to do? One has to break relationships with the culture. . . . [D]iscard all the ideas—the entire cultural philosophy which is dominant today.”

Now, the fact that "Atlas Shrugged" is not a political novel might surprise you. But the book’s point is that our plight is caused not by corrupt politicians (who are only a symptom) or some alleged flaw in human nature. It’s caused by the philosophic ideas and moral ideals most of us embrace.

“You have cried that man’s sins are destroying the world and you have cursed human nature for its unwillingness to practice the virtues you demanded,” the novel's hero John Galt declares to a country in crisis. “Since virtue, to you, consists of sacrifice, you have demanded more sacrifices at every successive disaster.”

He elaborates: “You have sacrificed justice to mercy.” (For example, calls to make homeownership “accessible” to those who could not afford it and then bailouts and foreclosure freezes to spare them when they couldn’t pay.)

“You have sacrificed reason to faith.” (For example, attempts to prevent stem cell research on Biblical grounds, or blind faith that Mr. Obama’s deliberately empty rhetoric about hope and change will magically produce prosperity.)

“You have sacrificed wealth to need.” (For example, Bush’s prescription drug benefit and Obamacare, both enacted because people needed “free” health care.)

“You have sacrificed self-esteem to self-denial.” (For example, attacks on Bill Gates for making a fortune; applause when he gives that fortune away.)

“You have sacrificed happiness to duty.” (For example, every president’s Kennedyesque exhortations to “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”)

The result? “Why . . . do you shrink in horror from the sight of the world around you? That world is not the product of your sins, it is the product and the image of your virtues. It is your moral ideal brought into reality . . .”

This is what "Atlas Shrugged" is asking us to question: our ideals. Rethink our convictions and philosophy of life from the ground up. Without doing so, it argues, we won’t escape further crises.

Strike, the book urges us, but intellectually, since to strike means to reject the fundamental terms of your opponents and assert your own.

This kind of thinking is difficult, Rand held, but necessary to enter the Atlantis depicted toward the end of the novel.

"If Atlas Shrugged" has been on your list of books-I’ve-been-meaning-to-get-to, then consider finding out for yourself how a story published in 1957 so eerily captures the world we live in today and so beautifully presents a road to a brighter future.

By Onkar Ghate
October 31, 2011 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

PUT ME IN CHARGE . . .

This was written by a 21 year old female who gets it. It's her future
she's worried about and this is how she feels about the social welfare big
government state that she's being forced to live in! These solutions are
just common sense in her opinion.

This was in the Waco Tribune Herald, Waco , TX , Nov 18, 2011

PUT ME IN CHARGE . . .
 
Put me in charge of food stamps.
I'd get rid of Lone Star cards & EBT cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Ho Ho's, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job.

Put me in charge of Medicaid.
The first thing I'd do is to get women Norplant birth control implants or tubal ligations. Then, we'll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, or smoke, then get a job.

The first thing I'd do is to get women Norplant birth control implants or tubal ligations. Then, we'll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, or smoke, then get a job. 

Put me in charge of government housing.
Ever live in a military barracks? You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your "home" will be subject to inspections anytime and possessions will be inventoried. If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360, then get a job and your own place.

In addition, you will either present a check stub from a job each week  or you will report to a "government" job. It may be cleaning the roadways of trash, painting and repairing public housing, whatever we find for you. We will sell your 22 inch rims and low profile tires and your blasting stereo and speakers and put that money toward the "common good.."

Before you write that I've violated someone's rights, realize that all of the above is voluntary. If you want our money, accept our rules. Before you say that this would be "demeaning" and ruin their "self esteem," consider that it wasn't that long ago that taking someone else's money for doing absolutely nothing was demeaning and lowered self esteem.

If we are expected to pay for other people's mistakes we should at least attempt to make them learn from their bad choices. The current system rewards them for continuing to make bad choices.

AND While you are on Gov't subsistence, you no longer can VOTE! Yes, that is correct. For you to vote would be a conflict of interest. You will voluntarily remove yourself from voting while you are receiving a Gov't welfare check. If you want to vote, then get a job.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Vote NO on Directive 10-289

Read this, and as you go, think as ruthlessly as you can and draw parallels to today's world and the laws that are being passed every day by your representatives I think you'll find it interesting.




"In the name of the general welfare, to protect the people's security, to achieve full equality and total stability, it is decreed for the duration of the national emergency that--

"Point One. All workers, wage earners and employees of any kind whatsoever shall henceforth be attached to their jobs and shall not leave nor be dismissed nor change employment, under penalty of a term in jail. The penalty shall be determined by the Unification Board, such Board to be appointed by the Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources. All persons reaching the age of twenty-one shall report to the Unification Board, which shall assign them to where, in its opinion, their services will best serve the interests of the nation.

"Point Two. All industrial, commercial, manufacturing and business establishments of any nature whatsoever shall henceforth remain in operation, and the owners of such establishments shall not quit nor leave nor retire, nor close, sell or transfer their business, under penalty of the nationalization of their establishment and of any and all of their property.

"Point Three. All patents and copyrights, pertaining to any devices, inventions, formulas, processes and works of any nature whatsoever, shall be turned over to the nation as a patriotic emergency gift by means of Gift Certificates to be signed voluntarily by the owners of all such patents and copyrights. The Unification Board shall then license the use of such patents and copyrights to all applicants, equally and without discrimination, for the purpose of eliminating monopolistic practices, discarding obsolete products and making the best available to the whole nation. No trademarks, brand names or copyrighted titles shall be used. Every formerly patented product shall be known by a new name and sold by all manufacturers under the same name, such name to be selected by the Unification Board. All private trademarks and brand names are hereby abolished.

"Point Four. No new devices, inventions, products, or goods of any nature whatsoever, not now on the market, shall be produced, invented, manufactured or sold after the date of this directive. The Office of Patents and Copyrights is hereby suspended.

"Point Five. Every establishment, concern, corporation or person engaged in production of any nature whatsoever shall henceforth produce the same amount of goods per year as it, they or he produced during the Basic Year, no more and no less. The year to be known as the Basic or Yardstick Year is to be the year ending on the date of this directive. Over or under production shall be fined, such fines to be determined by the Unification Board.

"Point Six. Every person of any age, sex, class or income, shall henceforth spend the same amount of money on the purchase of goods per year as he or she spent during the Basic Year, no more and no less. Over or under purchasing shall be fined, such fines to be determined by the Unification Board.

"Point Seven. All wages, prices, salaries, dividends, profits, interest rates and forms of income of any nature whatsoever, shall be frozen at their present figures, as of the date of this directive.

"Point Eight. All cases arising from and rules not specifically provided for in this directive, shall be settled and determined by the Unification Board, whose decisions will be final."

The preceding is an except from Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

At this point in the book much of the economy has collapsed due to government regulation and the teachings of the modern day. The intent of this executive order is to stabilize the economy.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Obama Openly Asks Nation Why On Earth He Would Want To Serve For Another Term



PITTSBURGH—Citing three years of exhausting partisan politics, constant gridlock in Congress, and an overall feeling that the entire nation has "completely lost it," President Barack Obama openly asked a campaign-rally crowd Tuesday why he'd want to serve another term as president of "this godforsaken country."

"My fellow Americans, I come to you today to ask, why?" Obama said to 1,200 people gathered inside a gymnasium at Taylor Allderdice High School. "Why can't our congressional leaders work together to create jobs? Why can't Wall Street ever be held accountable? And most important, why on God's green earth would I voluntarily subject myself to this nonsense for another four years?"

"I'm dead serious," the president continued, saying that any reasonable person would have walked away the moment the Senate minority leader announced his main priority—above creating jobs and improving American health care—was to make Obama a one-term president. "I'm asking if anybody out there can come up with even one reason why I'd want to endure this unmitigated shit show for another minute, let alone through 2016. What's in it for me, ex­actly? Can anyone answer that? Anyone at all?"

After a long silence during which crowd members mostly just shuffled their feet and stared at the ground, Obama said, "Yeah, that's what I thought."

Arguing he'd have to be certifiably insane or some kind of sadistic freak to extend his presidency, Obama asked why anyone with half a brain would willingly open himself up to constant vilification by media strategists, or place himself in a situation that involves so much work for such little reward. He also asked the audience how "messed up and sick" he'd have to be to devote nearly a decade of his life to an unending cycle of political gamesmanship that stifles progress at every turn.

At one point during the 40-minute address, Obama wondered aloud if anyone could blame him for wanting to avoid another four years of idiotic questions about his birth certificate, racist immigration laws, Eric Cantor, citizens who know in their hearts the country must switch to renewable energy but simply refuse to do so, the South, antigay bigotry, and "just all of it, really."

"Today this nation faces difficult questions," Obama said. "For one, how bad must it have gotten for a politician to gladly—gladly—give up the most sought-after elected position in the world? And also, of all the people listening to me right now, is there even one of you who would honestly want to trade places with me? There isn't, is there? And I don't blame you."

In the coming weeks, Obama will reportedly continue to take his anti-second-term message across the country, asking ordinary Americans if they agree that his being on the ballot in November would make him a complete and total moron. Sources within the president's new "One Goddamn Reason" campaign confirmed he is genuinely curious to see if one American citizen can tell him why leaving the White House isn't the best thing he could possibly do for himself and his family.

"I have a pen and some paper right here," Obama said Wednesday morning at a town hall meeting in Ohio. "Let's list the pros and cons of being president. Con: There are people out there who literally want to shoot you dead. Con: We live in a country seriously considering a Newt Gingrich White House. Con: You can help 40 million Americans receive health care, sign legislation that regulates a financial system run amok, give the order to kill Osama bin Laden, help topple Muammar Qaddafi's tyrannical regime without losing the life of one American soldier, end the war in Iraq, repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, stave off a second Great Depression, take out more than 30 top al- Qaeda leaders, and somehow everyone still calls you the next Jimmy Carter."

"Can anyone out there name a pro?" continued Obama, gesturing at the silent crowd with his pen. "That's okay. I asked a bunch of people in Pittsburgh the same exact question yesterday, and they couldn't, either."

While many Beltway observers questioned Obama's new strategy, saying the president could hurt his chances of serving a second term by saying he doesn't want to serve a second term, others argued Obama seems to have finally rediscovered his voice.

"Whenever I watch him on the stump asking a crowd, 'Why am I fucking here right now?' or saying things like, 'I think I'd rather die than do this job again,' he's so fiery and passionate I'm reminded of the 2007 Obama," Democratic strategist Karen Finney said. "The one who thought he could make a difference before a broken, nonsensical political system and an insane populace robbed him of his humanity, ripped out his heart, and left him for dead.

From:  The Onion  January 5, 2012

All Hail King Barack the First

Creating any form of a democratic form of government is tough and America's Founders had it tougher than most. One must remember that what they were attempting to do hadn't ever been done before, they were essentially making it up as they went along. But one thing they were very clear about: they had no interest in being ruled by a King or any other type of autocrat. If anything, they went out of their way in ensuring that such a thing would never happen in this nation, crafting a document that was very clear and specific regarding the equal division of powers among three equal branches of government (one of which was further divided in two) and clearly specifying exactly what each branch could, and more importantly, could not do.

Historians have often argued that our first autocratic President was Abraham Lincoln, who took extraordinary measures during a time of great crisis to ensure the overall survival of the Union itself, with little regard to the potential long-term consequences of some of his decisions. However, it took another 40 years or so for Presidents to decide that they had the power to rule over the land, using their own personalities to point our nation in the direction in which they believed it should go. Theodore Roosevelt, who was soon followed by Woodrow Wilson, were both Progressives, in the sense that they believed government was a powerful force for good and should be used to correct the wrongs that they witnessed. It could literally be argued that those two men radically altered the look of the nation, bringing in a host of new laws and ideas that still impact our lives today.

Roughly a century after Theodore Roosevelt left office, another charismatic young man seeks to re-shape the country based on his own ideas, backed up with the power of his own rhetoric. That man is Barack Obama, former Illinois state legislator and professional agitator who seems little bothered with the restrictions put into place by the very Constitution he claims to have once taught. Need powerful agency directors whom you don't want to be bothered by Congressional oversight? No problem, just about a couple of dozen "Czars" who can implement your desired changes free from Congressional authorization. Union backers facing the prospect of seeing their companies go under after years of union-led abuse? No problem, let's just buy those companies outright, then fudge the books in such a manner as to make it appear as if these were profitable deals. The list is as endless as the one containing his campaign promises.

This leads us to His majesty's latest outrage: the direct appointment of Richard Cordray as head of a newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. One moment while we leaf through the Constitution searching for the clause giving the Executive Branch the power to create such an agency...

The Cordray appointment is controversial in two regards:

First, his appointment was already blocked by the Senate, using the power exclusively granted to that segment of the Legislative Branch. Obama is blatantly circumventing the authority which is expressly granted to the Senate alone. The Executive Branch does not possess the Constitutional authority to make such appointments without cons ent, see Article Two, Section Two. One would think a former professor of Constitutional law might be aware of this fact.

Secondly, a so-called "recess appointment" can only be made after the Senate has been out of session for at least 10 days, while the Senate is actually still in what is known as a "pro-forma" session, which the Senate website defines as:

pro forma session - A brief meeting (sometimes only several seconds) of the Senate in which no business is conducted. It is held usually to satisfy the constitutional obligation that neither chamber can adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other.

In other words, the Senate is still technically in session, which should negate the ability of the Executive Branch to make appointments which can only be made when Congress is in recess.

What this all boils down to is this: a vain, self-absorbed man who rose to the highest office in our nation entirely on his ability to publish allegedly ghost-written memoirs and speak beautifully while reading a teleprompter, is attempting to consolidate as much power as possible in his own hands, Constitution be damned. This president often reads flowery speeches from his teleprompter which talk about supporting Americans who "play by the rules" and "do what's right". In other words, playing by the rules is only for the little guy, not for His Majesty, King Barack the First.
.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Obama to Release Taliban fron Guantanamo

Taliban leaders held at Guantánamo Bay to be released in peace talks deal

From The Guardian in England   3 January 2012 14.32 EST
Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba


The US detention centre in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, holds leading Taliban figures such as the former army commander Fazl Akhund. Photograph: John Moore/Getty

The US has agreed in principle to release high-ranking Taliban officials from Guantánamo Bay in return for the Afghan insurgents' agreement to open a political office for peace negotiations in Qatar, the Guardian has learned.

According to sources familiar with the talks in the US and in Afghanistan, the handful of Taliban figures will include Mullah Khair Khowa, a former interior minister, and Noorullah Noori, a former governor in northern Afghanistan.

More controversially, the Taliban are demanding the release of the former army commander Mullah Fazl Akhund. Washington is reported to be considering formally handing him over to the custody of another country, possibly Qatar.

The releases would be to reciprocate for Tuesday's announcement from the Taliban that they are prepared to open a political office in Qatar to conduct peace negotiations "with the international community" – the most significant political breakthrough in ten years of the Afghan conflict.

The Taliban are holding just one American soldier, Bowe Bergdahl, a 25-year-old sergeant captured in June 2009, but it is not clear whether he would be freed as part of the deal.

"To take this step, the [Obama] administration have to have sufficient confidence that the Taliban are going to reciprocate," said Vali Nasr, who was an Obama administration adviser on the Afghan peace process until last year. "It is going to be really risky. Guantánamo is a very sensitive issue politically."

Nasr, now a professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, said the Taliban announcement on the opening of an office in Qatar was a dramatic breakthrough.

"If it had not happened then the idea of reconciliation would have been completely finished. The Qatar office is akin to the Taliban forming a Sinn Féin, a political wing to conduct negotiations," Nasr said, but added: "The next phase will need concessions on both sides. This doesn't mean we are now on autopilot to peace."

Michael Semple, a former EU envoy in Afghanistan who has maintained contact with senior Taliban figures, agreed that the deal represented a critical moment.

"This is at last a real process," Semple, now at Harvard University, said. "There is a long list of things we don't have and there has been no progress on substantive issues. But now there is a certain amount of momentum. Every discussion over the past couple of years has been heavy on western enthusiasm with nothing substantial from the other side."

This time, he said, it was clear that the top Taliban council – including its reclusive leader, Mullah Omar – was on board with the proposal. In return, Semple said he thought the release of a few prisoners from Guantánamo Bay was politically feasible for the Obama administration, even in an election year.

"The prospect of ending a costly war in Afghanistan is sufficiently attractive for the Obama administration to move forward with it," Semple said.

"Even if all five of these people they release went straight back to Quetta [the Taliban stronghold in Pakistan] to rejoin a fight, it wouldn't make any real difference."

Negotiations over the opening of a Taliban political office and the release of prisoners have been underway for more than a year in secret contacts in Germany and in the Gulf between US and Taliban officials, but have been continually held up by political obstacles on all sides.

The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, had preferred Saudi Arabia or Turkey to host the Taliban political bureau, but dropped his opposition to Qatar under heavy US pressure.

Tuesday's announcement was made by email by a Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid.

"Right now, having a strong presence in Afghanistan, we still want to have a political office for negotiations," Mujahid said. "In this regard, we have started preliminary talks and we have reached a preliminary understanding with relevant sides, including the government of Qatar, to have a political office for negotiations with the international community."

The announcement was strongly endorsed by former officials who served under the Taliban regime in the 1990s, many of whom have been pushing for an overseas Taliban "address" for years.

"Everyone now agrees on the need for an office: the government, the foreigners and the Taliban," said Mohammed Qalamuddin, one-time head of the Taliban regime's "vice and virtue" police. "Now is the time to talk face to face with the Taliban and ask them what they want and why they are fighting."

He said that a number of leading Taliban took part in the secret talks that led to agreement with Qatar, including the former Taliban ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Shahabuddin Dilawar, the former deputy foreign minister Sher Mohammad Stanekzai and Tayeb Agha, a top aide to Mullah Omar, the mysterious Taliban leader who, even in power, only ever met with a handful of western diplomats.

"The important thing is that all these men are operating with the approval of Mullah Omar," he said.

It is not clear when the office will open, and there is also likely to be disagreement on the role of the Kabul government. A senior Afghan government official said the Karzai administration had accepted the creation of a Taliban office in Qatar only after demanding assurances from foreign powers that any peace process must be kept under the firm control of the Afghan government.

"If it is not led and owned by the Afghan government, it will fail," the official said.

However, Tuesday's Taliban statement said the group was only interested in talking to the "United States of America and their foreign allies," Mujahid said.

Western diplomats hope the opening of an office in Qatar will also lessen Pakistan's control of the Taliban. Pakistan plays host to most of the Taliban leadership, which it sees as an important bargaining counter in negotiations over the future of the region.