Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Bush Presidency
on: January 12, 2009, 12:24:48 PM
George W Bush: winning the war on terror
Europe's political elites are no doubt salivating at the prospect of George W. Bush departing the White House in January.
By Nile Gardiner
Last Updated: 6:23PM GMT 26 Dec 2008
Criticism of George W Bush is often driven by a dislike of his personality, not analysis of his achievements Photo: EPA
On much of the world stage, President Bush has been widely reviled as one of the worst U.S. leaders of modern times, and it is hard to think of an American president who has received a worse press since Richard Nixon.
To his critics, who are legion on both sides of the Atlantic, the war in Iraq has been a monumental disaster, at a cost of more than 4,000 American lives and at least $500 billion. They see the war on terror, with the notorious Guantanamo prison camp as its symbol, as a catalyst for radicalizing tens of millions of Muslims that has made the United States a pariah in the Middle East.
The war in Afghanistan, they argue, is going badly in the face of a resurgent Taliban, the cost of Washington pouring most of its resources into Iraq. Bush, the theory goes, failed to keep his eye on the ball, weakening the fight against al-Qaeda through his supposed obsession with Iraq. He is also accused of undermining America's standing in the world, adopting a unilateralist foreign policy and refusing to work with its Allies.
Some of the criticism of Bush's foreign policy is fair. The early stages of the occupation of Iraq were poorly handled and there was a distinct lack of post-war planning. America's public diplomacy efforts have been poor or even non-existent, with little serious attempt to combat the stunning rise of anti-Americanism. More recently, Washington's failure to stand up more aggressively to Moscow after its invasion of Georgia projected weakness and indecision.
Much of the condemnation of his policies though is driven by a venomous hatred of Bush's personality and leadership style, rather than an objective assessment of his achievements. Ten or twenty years from now, historians will view Bush's actions on the world stage in a more favourable light. America's 43rd president did after all directly liberate more people (over 60 million) from tyranny than any leader since Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Widely seen as his biggest foreign policy error, the decision to invade Iraq could ultimately prove to have been a masterstroke. Today the world is witnessing the birth of the first truly democratic state in the Middle East outside of Israel. Over eight million voted in Iraq's parliamentary elections in 2005, and the region's first free Muslim society may become a reality. Iraq might not be Turkey, but it is a powerful demonstration that freedom can flourish in the embers of the most brutal and barbaric of dictatorships.
The success of the surge in Iraq will go down in history as a turning point in the war against al-Qaeda. The stunning defeat of the insurgency was a major blow both militarily and psychologically for the terror network. The West's most feared enemy suffered thousands of losses in Iraq, including many of their most senior commanders, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Abu Qaswarah. It was the most successful counter-insurgency operation anywhere in the world since the British victory in Malaya in 1960.
The broader war against Islamist terrorism has also been a success. There has not been a single terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, and for all the global condemnation of pre-emptive strikes, Guantanamo and the use of rendition against terror suspects, the fact remains that Bush's aggressive strategy actually worked.
Significantly, there have been no successful terrorist attacks in Europe since the July 2005 London bombings, in large part due to the cooperation between U.S., British and other Western intelligence agencies. American intelligence has proved vital in helping prevent an array of planned terror attacks in the UK, a striking demonstration of the value to Britain of its close ties to Washington.
President Bush, in contrast to both his father, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton before him, had a crystal clear, instinctive understanding of the importance of the Anglo-American Special Relationship. Tony Blair may well have been labeled Bush's "poodle" over his support for the war in Iraq, but his partnership with George W. Bush marked the high point of the Anglo-American alliance since the heady days of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.
The decision by Bush, with Blair's support, to sweep the Taliban out of Afghanistan was a brilliant move, one that not all U.S. presidents would have taken. A weaker leader would have gone to the United Nations Security Council and sought a negotiated settlement with Kabul. It was a risky gambit that was vindicated by a stunning military victory in the space of a month, with a small number of U.S. ground forces involved.
Bush also made a firm commitment to defending the fledgling Afghan government, and succeeded in building a 41-nation NATO-led coalition. The notion that the resurgence of the Taliban is America's failure is nonsense. The U.S. has more than 30,000 troops in the country under U.S. or NATO command, making up over half of all Allied forces there. Continental European allies have simply failed to step up to the plate with more troops, with almost the entire war-fighting burden placed on the U.S., UK and other English-speaking countries. Afghanistan is not a failure of American leadership, it is a damning indictment of an increasingly pacifist Europe that simply will not fight.
President Bush also recognized the importance of re-shaping the NATO alliance for the 21st Century, backing an ambitious program of NATO expansion, culminating in the addition of seven new members in 2004. He also had the foresight to support the development of a missile defence system in Europe, successfully negotiating deals with both Poland and the Czech Republic. Bush was right to back the eventual inclusion of Georgia and Ukraine in NATO, and both would be well on their way to membership today were it not for the feckless decision of France and Germany to side with Russia in blocking their path to entry.
Bush began his presidency primarily as a domestic leader. He ends it as a war leader who has left a huge imprint internationally. His greatest legacy, the global war against Islamist terror, has left the world a safer place, and his decision to project global power and military might against America's enemies has made it harder for Islamist terrorists to strike against London, Paris or Berlin.
Bush's decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power will make it less likely that rogue regimes, Iran and North Korea included, will seek to militarily challenge American power. The memory of the invasion of Iraq and the unequivocal message that sent is by far the most effective deterrent to Tehran developing a nuclear weapon.
If superpowers do not demonstrate an ability and a willingness to wield power (as Britain did on numerous occasions at the height of the Empire) their hegemony will be increasingly challenged. President Bush exercised U.S. military power to stunning effect in both Iraq and Afghanistan, an important reminder that America was still a force to be reckoned with after the 1990s humiliation of Somalia and the half-hearted missile strikes against Bin Laden in Sudan. In an age of growing threats and challenges, the projection of hard power matters, and America's next president would be wise to take heed.
Nile Gardiner is Director of the Margaret Thatcher Centre for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism
on: January 12, 2009, 12:12:30 PM
|**So, what our military faces in training is torture when applied to al qaeda terrorists? Give me your interrogation methods that will work while meeting your standard.**http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=16270
Al Qaeda Manual Drives Detainee Behavior at Guantanamo Bay
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 29, 2005 – If you're a Muslim extremist captured while fighting your holy war against "infidels," avoid revealing information at all costs, don't give your real name and claim that you were mistreated or tortured during your detention.
This instruction comes straight from the pages of an official al Qaeda training manual, and officials at the detention facility at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, say they see clear evidence that detainees are well-versed in its contents.
Police in Manchester, England, discovered the manual, which has come to be known as the "Manchester document," in 2000 while searching computer files found in the home of a known al Qaeda member. The contents were introduced as evidence into the 2001 trial of terrorists who bombed the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998.
The FBI translated the document into English, and it is posted on the Justice Department's Web site.
The 18-chapter manual provides a detailed window into al Qaeda's network and its procedures for waging jihad - from conducting surveillance operations to carrying out assassinations to working with forged documents.
The closing chapter teaches al Qaeda operatives how to operate in a prison or detention center. It directs detainees to "insist on proving that torture was inflicted" and to "complain of mistreatment while in prison."
Chapter 17 instructs them to "be careful not to give the enemy any vital information" during interrogations.
Another section of the manual directs commanders to teach their operatives what to say if they're captured, and to explain it "more than once to ensure that they have assimilated it." To reinforce the message, it tells commanders to have operatives "explain it back to the commander."
And at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, detainees take this instruction to heart. Many of the more than 500 detainees are "uncooperative" in providing intelligence, Army Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, told military analysts who traveled to the facility June 24 and reiterated today during a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee.
Some detainees have never uttered a single word during more than three years of interrogation. Others give false names or refuse to offer their real names.
This can prove challenging for interrogators at the facility, because many detainees "follow the al Qaeda SOP (standard operating procedures) to the T," according to Army Col. John Hadjis, chief of staff for Joint Task Force Guantanamo.
Officials say they see evidence of the al Qaeda-directed misinformation campaign in allegations of detainee abuse and mishandling of the Koran at Guantanamo Bay.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld expressed frustration over this effort during a June 21 interview on the "Tony Snow Show."
"These detainees are trained to lie, they're trained to say they were tortured, and the minute we release them or the minute they get a lawyer, very frequently they'll go out and they will announce that they've been tortured," Rumsfeld said.
The media jumps on these claims, reporting them as "another example of torture," the secretary said, "when in fact, (terrorists have) been trained to do that, and their training manual says so."
During a February 2004 Pentagon news conference, a DoD official said new information provided by detainees during questioning is analyzed to determine its reliability.
"Unfortunately, many detainees are deceptive and prefer to conceal their identifies and their actions," said Paul Butler, principal deputy assistant secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict.
Butler said the Manchester document includes "a large section which teaches al Qaeda operatives counterinterrogation techniques: how to lie, how to minimize your role."
The document, he said, has surfaced in various locations, including Afghanistan.
The manual's preface offers a chilling reminder of the mentality that drives al Qaeda disciples and the lengths they will go to for their cause.
"The confrontation that we are calling for ... does not know Socratic debates, ... Platonic ideals ... nor Aristotelian diplomacy," its opening pages read. "But it knows the dialogue of bullets, the ideals of assassination, bombing and destruction, and the diplomacy of the cannon and machine gun."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama: Gee, this Gitmo thing is more complicated than I thought
on: January 12, 2009, 08:16:21 AM
Obama: Gee, this Gitmo thing is more complicated than I thought
By Michelle Malkin • January 11, 2009 12:00 PM
I razzed Team Obama over their newfound appreciation of the nuances of closing Gitmo back in November. Now, we are hearing it from the Messiah directly.
This morning on ABC’s Sunday show, he admitted that his recklessly simplistic promise to the nutroots to shut down the detention facility had run into some barriers.
When he says “a lot of people,” he means himself.
President-elect Barack Obama said this weekend that he does not expect to close Guantanamo Bay in his first 100 days in office.“I think it’s going to take some time and our legal teams are working in consultation with our national security apparatus as we speak to help design exactly what we need to do,” Obama said in an exclusive “This Week” interview with George Stephanopoulos, his first since arriving in Washington.
“It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize,” the president-elect explained. “Part of the challenge that you have is that you have a bunch of folks that have been detained, many of whom may be very dangerous who have not been put on trial or have not gone through some adjudication. And some of the evidence against them may be tainted even though it’s true. And so how to balance creating a process that adheres to rule of law, habeas corpus, basic principles of Anglo-American legal system, by doing it in a way that doesn’t result in releasing people who are intent on blowing us up.”
Like I said two months ago: Nothing clarifies the mind like a jihadi boomerang.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
on: January 12, 2009, 07:31:23 AM
Hamas’s Brutal Legacy
By Ralph Peters
The New York Post | Monday, January 12, 2009
Israel hasn't killed a single civilian in the Gaza Strip. Over a hundred civilians have died, and Israeli bombs or shells may have ended their lives. But Israel didn't kill them.
It's time to smash the lies. The lies of Hamas. The UN lies. And the save-the-terrorists lies of the global media.
There is no moral equivalence between Hamas terrorists and Israeli soldiers. There is no gray area. There is no point in negotiations.
Hamas is a Jew-killing machine. It exists to destroy Israel. What is there to negotiate?
When Hamas can't kill Jews, it's perfectly willing to drive Palestinian civilians into the line of fire - old men, women and children. Hamas herds the innocent into "shelters," then draws Israeli fire on them. And the headline-greedy media cheer them on.
Hamas isn't fighting for political goals. "Brokered agreements" are purely means to an end. And the envisioned end is the complete destruction of Israel in the name of a terrorist god. Safe in hidden bunkers or in Damascus, the Hamas leadership is willing to watch an unlimited number of civilians and even street-level terrorists die.
Lives, too, are nothing but means to an end. And dead kids are the coins that keep the propaganda meter ticking.
All Hamas had to do to prevent Israel's act of self-defense was to leave Israel unmolested by terror rockets. All Hamas needs to do now to stop this conflict and spare the Palestinian people it pretends to champion is to stop trying to kill Israelis and agree to let Israel exist in peace.
Hamas didn't, and Hamas won't.
Now Israel has to continue its attack, to wreak all the havoc it can on Hamas before a new American president starts meddling. If Israel stops now, Hamas can declare victory just for surviving - despite its crippling losses. While it's impossible to fully eliminate extremism, killing every terrorist leader hiding in a Gaza bunker is the only hope of achieving even a temporary, imperfect peace. The chance may not come again.
And don't worry about "creating a power vacuum." Let the Palestinians pick up their own pieces. Even anarchy in Gaza is better for Israel than Hamas.
Israelis, Americans and Westerners overall share a tragic intellectual blind spot: We're caught in yesterday's model of terrorism, that of Arafat's PLO, of the IRA, the Red Brigades or the Weather Underground. But, as brutal as those organizations could be, they never believed they were on a mission from God.
Yesteryear's terrorists wanted to change the world. They were willing to shed blood and, in extreme cases, to give their own blood to their causes. But they didn't seek death. They preferred to live to see their "better world."
Now our civilization faces terrorists who regard death as a promotion. They believe that any action can be excused because they're serving their god. And their core belief is that you and I, as stubborn unbelievers, deserve death.
Their grisly god knows no compromise. To give an inch is to betray their god's trust entirely. Yet we - and even some Israelis - believe it's possible to cut deals with them.
In search of peace, Israel handed Gaza to the Palestinians, a people who had never had a state of their own. As thanks, Israel received terror rockets. And the Palestinian people got a gang war.
Peace is the last thing Hamas terrorists and gangsters want. Peace means the game is up. Peace means they've disappointed their god. Peace means no more excuses. They couldn't bear peace for six months.
This is a war to the bitter end. And we're afraid to admit what it's about.
It's not about American sins or Israeli intransigence. It's about a sickness in the soul of a civilization - of Middle-Eastern Islam - that can only be cured from within. Until Arabs or Iranians decide to cure themselves, we'll have to fight.
Instead, we want to talk. We convince ourselves, against all evidence, that our enemies really want to talk, too, that they just need "incentives" (the diplomat's term for bribes). The apparent belief of our president-elect that it's possible to negotiate with faith-fueled fanatics is so naive it's terrifying.
Yet, it's understandable. Barack Obama's entire career has been built on words, not deeds, on his power to persuade, not his power to deliver. But all the caucuses, debates, neighborhood meetings and backroom deal-making sessions in his past haven't prepared him to "negotiate" with men whose single-minded goal is Israel's destruction - and ours.
If Obama repeats the same "peace-process" folly as his predecessors, from Jimmy have-you-hugged-your-terrorist-today? Carter through Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, he'll be devoured before he knows he's been bitten.
How many administrations have to repeat the identical error of believing that, deep down inside, terrorists, gunmen and warlords really want peace every bit as much as we do? Israel's enemies aren't just looking to cut a sharp deal. They want to destroy Israel.
Which part of what they shout in our faces is so hard to understand? Israel's foes have been preaching Jew-hatred for so long that even the "moderates" can't turn back now.
And why does the global left hate Israel so? Why would they pull out the stops to rescue Hamas?
Because Israel exposed the lie that a suffering people can't lift itself up through hard work, education and discipline. Israel didn't need the help of a hundred condescending NGOs and their misery junkies.
Because the Holocaust is a permanent embarrassment to Europeans. They need to believe that Israelis are kosher Nazis.
Because, from the safety of cafes and campuses, it's cool to call terrorists "freedom fighters." It makes you feel less guilty when you hit up daddy (or the state) for money. I mean, dude, it's not like you have to, like, live with them or anything, you know?
(The preceding sentence is not a direct quote from Caroline Kennedy.)
Because, above all, the most-destructive racists in the world today are mainstream leftists. Want the truth? The Left codes Israel as white and, therefore, inherently an oppressor. Israel is held to the highest standard of our civilization and our legal codes - and denied the right to self-defense.
But the Left tacitly believes that people with darker skins are inferior and can't be expected to behave at a civilized level. Leftists expect terrorist movements or African dictators to behave horribly. It's the post-modern, latte-sucking version of the "little brown brother" mentality.
The worst enemies of developing societies have been leftists who refuse to hold them to fundamental standards of governance and decency. But, then, the Left needs developing societies to fail to prove that the system's hopelessly stacked against them.
A battered, impoverished, butchered people built a thriving Western democracy in an Eastern wasteland. Israel can never be forgiven for its success.
In this six-decade-old conflict that Israel's intractable neighbors continue to force upon it, there not only are no good solutions, but, thanks to the zero-sum mentality of Islamist terrorists, there aren't even any bad solutions - short of nuclear genocide - that would bring an enduring peace to the Middle East.
And even the elimination of Israel wouldn't be enough. The terrorists would fight among themselves, while warring upon less-devout fellow Muslims.
All Israel can do is to fight for time and buy intervals of relative calm with the blood of its sons and daughters. By demanding premature cease-fires and insisting that we can find a diplomatic solution, we strengthen monsters and undercut our defenders.
And don't believe the propaganda about this conflict rallying Gaza's Palestinians behind Hamas. That's more little-brown-brother condescension, assuming all Arabs are so stupid they don't know who started this and who's dragging it out at their expense.
Gaza's people may not care much for Israelis, but they rue the day they cast their votes for Hamas. Hamas is killing them.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Articulating our cause against Islamic Fascism
on: January 11, 2009, 11:27:21 PM
An truly interesting/sad story that happened over 20 years ago to the young boy.
Since then over one million have died in Rwanda and probably 200,000+ have died in Darfur. **Darfur is very much the result of the global jihad.**
Not to mention
the hundreds of thousands killed by dictators and evil people around the world. My point? It had nothing to do with
the "evil" of Islam. The world, in many places, is evil. We are blessed in the USA.**Wow. The first time JDN can say something nice about America. I'll be sure to remember this.**
But "20,000 useful idiots" (I am glad you consider them "useful")
believe more killing is wrong. Hard to refute.
August 07, 2006
Islam's Useful Idiots
By Amil Imani
Islam enjoys a large and influential ally among the non—Muslims: A new generation of 'Useful Idiots,' the sort of people Lenin identified living in liberal democracies who furthered the work of communism. This new generation of Useful Idiots also lives in liberal democracies, but serves the cause of Islamofascism—another virulent form of totalitarian ideology.
Useful Idiots are na?ve, foolish, ignorant of facts, unrealistically idealistic, dreamers, willfully in denial or deceptive. They hail from the ranks of the chronically unhappy, the anarchists, the aspiring revolutionaries, the neurotics who are at war with life, the disaffected alienated from government, corporations, and just about any and all institutions of society. The Useful Idiot can be a billionaire, a movie star, an academe of renown, a politician, or from any other segment of the population.
Arguably, the most dangerous variant of the Useful Idiot is the 'Politically Correct.' He is the master practitioner of euphemism, hedging, doubletalk, and outright deception.
The Useful Idiot derives satisfaction from being anti—establishment. He finds perverse gratification in aiding the forces that aim to dismantle an existing order, whatever it may be: an order he neither approves of nor he feels he belongs to.
The Useful Idiot is conflicted and dishonest. He fails to look inside himself and discover the causes of his own problems and unhappiness while he readily enlists himself in causes that validate his distorted perception.
Understandably, it is easier to blame others and the outside world than to examine oneself with an eye to self—discovery and self—improvement. Furthermore, criticizing and complaining—liberal practices of the Useful Idiot—require little talent and energy. The Useful Idiot is a great armchair philosopher and 'Monday Morning Quarterback.'
The Useful Idiot is not the same as a person who honestly has a different point of view. A society without honest and open differences of views is a dead society. Critical, different and fresh ideas are the life blood of a living society—the very anathema of autocracies where the official position is sacrosanct.
Even a 'normal' person spends a great deal more energy aiming to fix things out there than working to overcome his own flaws and shortcomings, or contribute positively to the larger society. People don't like to take stock of what they are doing or not doing that is responsible for the conditions they disapprove.
But the Useful Idiot takes things much farther. The Useful Idiot, among other things, is a master practitioner of scapegoating. He assigns blame to others while absolving himself of responsibility, has a long handy list of candidates for blaming anything and everything, and by living a distorted life, he contributes to the ills of society.
The Useful Idiot may even engage in willful misinformation and deception when it suits him. Terms such as 'Political Islam,' or 'Radical Islam,' for instance, are contributions of the Useful Idiot. These terms do not even exist in the native parlance of Islam, simply because they are redundant. Islam, by its very nature and according to its charter—the Quran—is a radical political movement. It is the Useful Idiot who sanitizes Islam and misguides the populace by saying that the 'real Islam' constitutes the main body of the religion; and, that this main body is non—political and moderate.
Regrettably, a large segment of the population goes along with these nonsensical euphemisms depicting Islam because it prefers to believe them. It is less threatening to believe that only a hijacked small segment of Islam is radical or politically driven and that the main body of Islam is indeed moderate and non—political.
But Islam is political to the core. In Islam the mosque and state are one and the same—the mosque is the state. This arrangement goes back to the days of Muhammad himself. Islam is also radical in the extreme. Even the 'moderate' Islam is radical in its beliefs as well as its deeds. Muslims believe that all non—Muslims, bar none, are hellfire bound and well—deserve being maltreated compared to believers.
No radical barbaric act of depravity is unthinkable for Muslims in dealing with others. They have destroyed precious statues of Buddha, leveled sacred monuments of other religions, and bulldozed the cemeteries of non—Muslims—a few examples of their utter extreme contempt toward others.
Muslims are radical even in their intrafaith dealings. Various sects and sub—sects pronounce other sects and sub—sects as heretics worthy of death; women are treated as chattel, deprived of many rights; hands are chopped for stealing even a loaf of bread; sexual violation is punished by stoning, and much much more. These are standard day—to—day ways of the mainstream 'moderate' Muslims living under the stone—age laws of Sharia.
The 'moderate' mainstream of Islam has been outright genocidal from inception. Their own historians record that Ali, the first imam of the Shiite and the son—in—law of Muhammad, with the help of another man, beheaded 700 Jewish men in the presence of the Prophet himself. The Prophet of Allah and his disciples took the murdered men's women and children in slavery. Muslims have been, and continue to be, the most vicious and shameless practitioners of slavery. The slave trade, even today, is a thriving business in some Islamic lands where wealthy, perverted sheikhs purchase children of the poor from traffickers for their sadistic gratification.
Muslims are taught deception and lying in the Quran itself—something that Muhammad practiced during his life whenever he found it expedient. Successive Islamic rulers and leaders have done the same. Khomeini, the founder of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, for instance, rallied the people under the banner of democracy. All along his support for democracy was not a commitment of an honest man, but a ruse. As soon as he gathered the reins of power, Khomeini went after the Useful Idiots of his time with vengeance. These best children of Iran, having been thoroughly deceived and used by the crafty phony populist—religionist, had to flee the country to avoid the fate of tens of thousands who were imprisoned or executed by the double—crossing imam.
Almost three decades after the tragic Islamic Revolution of 1979, the suffocating rule of Islam casts its death—bearing pal over Iranians. A proud people with enviable heritage is being systematically purged of its sense of identity and forced to think and behave like the barbaric and intolerant Muslims. Iranians who had always treated women with equality, for instance, have seen them reduced by the stone—age clergy to sub—human status of Islamic teaching. Any attempt by the women of Iran to counter the misogynist rule of Muhammad's mullahs is mercilessly suppressed. Women are beaten, imprisoned, raped and killed just as men are slaughtered without due process or mercy.
The lesson is clear. Beware of the Useful Idiots who live in liberal democracies. Knowingly or unknowingly, they serve as the greatest volunteer and effective soldiers of Islam. They pave the way for the advancement of Islam and they will assuredly be among the very first victims of Islam as soon as it assumes power.
Amil Imani is an Iranian—born American citizen and pro—democracy activist. He maintains a website at AmilImani.com
Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2006/08/islams_useful_idiots_1.html
at January 12, 2009 - 12:25:41 AM EST
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Reproductive issues
on: January 11, 2009, 11:54:45 AM
**Watch this documentary and tell me if the fetuses look like people, or just "masses of tissue".**
4-D Ultrasound Gives Video View of Fetuses in the Womb
for the National Geographic Channel
and National Geographic News
February 25, 2005
The new generation of three- and four-dimensional ultrasound imagery provides striking views of fetuses inside the womb. Parents-to-be appreciate the lifelike pictures, and doctors gain an improved understanding of fetal development and behavior.
"It's almost a new science, in a way. It's taught us so much about how the fetus develops at an early stage," said Professor Stuart Campbell of the Create Health Clinic in London. Campbell, one of the world's leading experts in obstetrics, has been working with ultrasound technology since its earliest days and with so-called four-dimensional images since their debut about four years ago.
Four-dimensional imagery shows objects in 3-D moving in something close to real time. Doctors have long known that fetuses move, but the physical behavior revealed by 4-D scans is expanding that knowledge exponentially.
"We see the earliest movements at 8 weeks," Campbell said. "By 12 weeks or so they are seen yawning and performing individual finger movements that are often more complex than you'll see in a newborn," he said. "It may be due to the effects of gravity after birth."
The images reveal facial expressions, like smiling, at 20 weeks. Beyond 24 weeks fetuses may suck their thumbs, stick their tongues out (perhaps using newly developed taste buds to sample amniotic fluid imbued with the flavors of the mother's food), and make apparently emotional faces.
Many of the reflexes seem designed to help the fetus with tasks it will need after birth, such as opening its eyes and sucking.
Campbell believes that ever improving imagery—particularly the 4-D scans, which are inching ever closer to displaying real-time movement—represents the tip of the iceberg for fetal-behavior study.
"I think we ought to study the behavior of the fetus prenatally," he said. "For example, we don't understand why cerebral palsy occurs in 90 percent of the cases it does, but we believe it occurs in the uterus. I think the future lies in first-trimester diagnosis. I can see diagnosing abnormalities in the first 12 weeks."
Computer Advances Drive Improving Imagery
Ultrasound images are made by sending high-frequency sound waves into the mother's body, where they penetrate fluids but bounce back off solids. The rebounding waves are collected to produce an image, traditionally seen as a two-dimensional "slice."
"As computers have gotten faster it's possible for them to process many 2-D slices over a very short period of time and then stitch them together. That's how we got from 2-D to 3-D," said Carol Benson, a radiologist specializing in ultrasound at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
"With the 4-D, processing is fast enough that you can watch [movement] as it happens. When it gets faster it will eventually appear to be in real time."
But 2-D images aren't going anywhere in the near future. In fact, they usually offer better diagnostic information than their 3-D and 4-D counterparts.
"2-D lets you see inside of structures, because you can take slices within [the fetus's body]," Benson explained. "With 3-D you can do a surface rendering, but you can't see inside the baby any better than I can see inside you."
But because the new kinds of scans are created from many stitched-together 2-D images, the 3-D and 4-D imagery represent a valuable diagnostic resource.
The new processes collect data for the entire volume of the fetus and womb. From this imagery, a more conventional, 2-D image can be separated out and can depict any and all desirable angles.
"When we're looking at the fetus or at the uterus, the position of these structures may not be in the ideal plane to get the information that we want," said Barry B. Goldberg, director of the Jefferson Ultrasound Research and Education Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
"With these [new processes] it's possible to reconstruct [2-D cross sections] in different planes," he continued. "We can collect a volume of information, decide what plane we want, and manipulate the image plane to get [the visual] that will give us the most information."
Because the data can be stored on a computer, new slices can be created and examined long after the patient has returned home—though computer capabilities are currently too slow to allow this process to become standard procedure.
Third Dimension Offers Doctors a New View
A three-dimensional view can, in some cases, provide its own diagnostic advantages.
"For the first time it is now possible to visualize fetal organs as more than flat images but rather as three-dimensional objects that can be rotated and examined from different angles," said Wesley Lee, of the Division of Fetal Imaging at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan.
Lee stresses that 3-D images are a complement to, rather than a replacement for, 2-D ultrasound.
"[This] technology allows doctors to visualize ultrasound images in different ways that may strengthen or refute an initial diagnostic impression using more conventional tests," he said.
Such images are useful at identifying cleft lip, spina bifida, and some genetic syndromes.
As computers become more powerful and processing speed increases, the technology will only improve.
"We're really at the beginning, 3-D and 4-D image quality appears to be improving every month," the Jefferson Institute's Goldberg noted.
Future advances may allow the digital transfer of complete fetus and uterus volume scans. Such transfers of imagery could enable remote consultation and diagnosis for patients in areas lacking advanced health care.
Everyone agrees that the new scans already provide dramatically better visualization for parents, which can result in an even stronger parent-child bond. High-risk obstetrician and gynecologist Jude Crino is the director of the Perinatal Ultrasound Unit at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.
"We can see better, but it's also important that the patient can see better," he explained. "When I give a patient a 2-D image, it's not uncommon for them to ask two or three times, 'What is this? Could you point this out?' If you give them a 3-D image, they are immediately able to recognize it, because it looks like a baby."
Campbell notes that in his clinic the effects of the moving, 4-D images are even greater.
"You just see the whoops of joy when the fetus does something like blink," he said. "That's a very powerful impact."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
on: January 11, 2009, 11:42:52 AM
Announcement - No. 89
January 8, 2009 No. 89
Exclusive MEMRI Viral Video Release For Free Download "Hamas: In Their Own Voices"
MEMRI is today releasing a new and exclusive viral video, titled "Hamas: In Their Own Voices." TO VIEW THIS VIDEO VISIT, http://www.memritv.org/video.html
The video, a compilation of MEMRI TV clips that aired prior to the current Gaza crisis, includes statements by Hamas leaders calling for the annihilation of Israel and of all Jews, for death to America, and for the Islamic conquest of the world.
Featured are Hamas leader Khaled Mash'al, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, Hamas MPs Mushir Al-Masri and Fathi Hamad, Hamas MP and cleric Yunis Al-Astal, Palestinian Legislative Council acting speaker Sheikh Ahmad Bahr, and Hamas clerics Wael Al-Zarad and Muhsen Abu 'Ita.
Viewers will also witness Hamas military training for adults and children, anti-American speeches at rallies including burning of the American flag and calls of support for "The Afghan Mujahidin", Hamas Al-Aqsa TV children's shows, and more.
Add the Video to Your Social Networking Pages
You can view and download the video here . Email it, put it on your social networking pages, and share it with others.
Instructions on How to Download and Share the Video
Share this video by uploading this clip to your Youtube, Facebook, and social network platforms.
Click here to get the link to embed the video on your blog and website
Visit MEMRI TV.ORG for Other Clips of Hamas and Al-Aqsa TV
To see other clips on Hamas, visit the MEMRI TV pages for Al-Aqsa TV (http://www.memritv.org/content/en/tv_channel_indiv.htm?id=175
) and Hamas (http://www.memritv.org/subject/en/95.htm
) - and the new MEMRI Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM) website (http://www.memrijttm.org/
Visit the THEMEMRIBLOG.ORG for the Most Up-To-Date Mid East News
For the most up-to-date information on the Middle East, visit www.MEMRI.org
For the latest MEMRI TV clips, visit www.memritv.org
For breaking news you will get nowhere else, visit www.thememriblog.org
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Articulating our cause against Islamic Fascism
on: January 11, 2009, 10:45:18 AM
Friday, January 9, 2009
Mark Steyn: The 'oldest hatred' lives, from Gaza to Florida
Jew-hating pathologies ultimately harm the Jew-hater, too.
In Toronto, anti-Israel demonstrators yell "You are the brothers of pigs!," and a protester complains to his interviewer that "Hitler didn't do a good job."
In Fort Lauderdale, Palestinian supporters sneer at Jews, "You need a big oven, that's what you need!"
In Amsterdam, the crowd shouts, "Hamas, Hamas! Jews to the gas!"
In Paris, the state-owned TV network France-2 broadcasts film of dozens of dead Palestinians killed in an Israeli air raid on New Year's Day. The channel subsequently admits that, in fact, the footage is not from Jan. 1, 2009, but from 2005, and, while the corpses are certainly Palestinian, they were killed when a truck loaded with Hamas explosives detonated prematurely while leaving the Jabaliya refugee camp in another of those unfortunate work-related accidents to which Gaza is sadly prone. Conceding that the Palestinians supposedly killed by Israel were, alas, killed by Hamas, France-2 says the footage was broadcast "accidentally."
In Toulouse, a synagogue is firebombed; in Bordeaux, two kosher butchers are attacked; at the Auber RER train station, a Jewish man is savagely assaulted by 20 youths taunting, "Palestine will kill the Jews"; in Villiers-le-Bel, a Jewish schoolgirl is brutally beaten by a gang jeering, "Jews must die."
In Helsingborg, Sweden, the congregation at a synagogue takes shelter as a window is broken and burning cloths thrown in. in Odense, principal Olav Nielsen announces that he will no longer admit Jewish children to the local school after a Dane of Lebanese extraction goes to the shopping mall and shoots two men working at the Dead Sea Products store. in Brussels, a Molotov cocktail is hurled at a synagogue; in Antwerp, Netherlands, lit rags are pushed through the mail flap of a Jewish home; and, across the Channel in Britain, "youths" attempt to burn the Brondesbury Park Synagogue.
In London, the police advise British Jews to review their security procedures because of potential revenge attacks. The Sun reports "fears" that "Islamic extremists" are drawing up a "hit list" of prominent Jews, including the Foreign Secretary, Amy Winehouse's record producer and the late Princess of Wales' divorce lawyer. Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that Islamic nonextremists from the British Muslim Forum, the Islamic Foundation and other impeccably respectable "moderate" groups have warned the government that the Israelis' "disproportionate force" in Gaza risks inflaming British Muslims, "reviving extremist groups," and provoking "UK terrorist attacks" – not against Amy Winehouse's record producer and other sinister members of the International Jewish Conspiracy but against targets of, ah, more general interest.
Forget, for the moment, Gaza. Forget that the Palestinian people are the most comprehensively wrecked people on the face of the Earth. For the past 60 years they have been entrusted to the care of the United Nations, the Arab League, the PLO, Hamas and the "global community" – and the results are pretty much what you'd expect.
You would have to be very hardhearted not to weep at the sight of dead Palestinian children, but you would also have to accord a measure of blame to the Hamas officials who choose to use grade schools as launch pads for Israeli-bound rockets, and to the U.N. refugee agency that turns a blind eye to it. And, even if you don't deplore Fatah and Hamas for marinating their infants in a sick death cult in which martyrdom in the course of Jew-killing is the greatest goal to which a citizen can aspire, any fair-minded visitor to the West Bank or Gaza in the decade and a half in which the "Palestinian Authority" has exercised sovereign powers roughly equivalent to those of the nascent Irish Free State in 1922 would have to concede that the Palestinian "nationalist movement" has a profound shortage of nationalists interested in running a nation, or indeed capable of doing so. There is fault on both sides, of course, and Israel has few good long-term options. But, if this was a conventional ethno-nationalist dispute, it would have been over long ago.
So, as I said, forget Gaza. And, instead, ponder the reaction to Gaza in Scandinavia, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, and golly, even Florida. As the delegitimization of Israel has metastasized, we are assured that criticism of the Jewish state is not the same as anti-Semitism. We are further assured that anti-Zionism is not the same as anti-Semitism, which is a wee bit more of a stretch.
Only Israel attracts an intellectually respectable movement querying its very existence. For the purposes of comparison, let's take a state that came into existence at the exact same time as the Zionist Entity, and involved far bloodier population displacements. I happen to think the creation of Pakistan was the greatest failure of post-war British imperial policy. But the fact is that Pakistan exists, and if I were to launch a movement of anti-Pakism it would get pretty short shrift.
But, even allowing for that, what has a schoolgirl in Villiers-le-Bel to do with Israeli government policy? Just weeks ago, terrorists attacked Mumbai, seized hostages, tortured them, killed them, and mutilated their bodies. The police intercepts of the phone conversations between the terrorists and their controllers make for lively reading:
"Pakistan caller 1: 'Kill all hostages, except the two Muslims. Keep your phone switched on so that we can hear the gunfire.'
"Mumbai terrorist 2: 'We have three foreigners, including women. From Singapore and China'
"Pakistan caller 1: 'Kill them.'
"(Voices of gunmen can be heard directing hostages to stand in a line, and telling two Muslims to stand aside. Sound of gunfire. Sound of cheering voices.)"
"Kill all hostages, except the two Muslims." Tough for those Singaporean women. Yet no mosques in Singapore have been attacked. The large Hindu populations in London, Toronto and Fort Lauderdale have not shouted "Muslims must die!" or firebombed Halal butchers or attacked hijab-clad schoolgirls. CAIR and other Muslim lobby groups' eternal bleating about "Islamophobia" is in inverse proportion to any examples of it. Meanwhile, "moderate Muslims" in London warn the government: "I'm a peaceful fellow myself, but I can't speak for my excitable friends. Nice little G7 advanced Western democracy you got here. Shame if anything were to happen to it."
But why worry about European Muslims? The European political and media class essentially shares the same view of the situation – to the point where state TV stations are broadcasting fake Israeli "war crimes."
As I always say, the "oldest hatred" didn't get that way without an ability to adapt: Once upon a time on the Continent, Jews were hated as rootless cosmopolitan figures who owed no national allegiance. So they became a conventional nation state, and now they're hated for that. And, if Hamas get their way and destroy the Jewish state, the few who survive will be hated for something else. So it goes.
But Jew-hating has consequences for the Jew-hater, too. A few years ago the poet Nizar Qabbani wrote an ode to the intifada:
O mad people of Gaza,
a thousand greetings to the mad
The age of political reason
has long departed
so teach us madness.
You can just about understand why living in Gaza would teach you madness. The enthusiastic adoption of the same pathologies by mainstream Europe is even more deranged – and in the end will prove just as self-destructive.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizens defend themselves/others.
on: January 11, 2009, 10:03:48 AM
'Man shot my mommy': Ohio woman slain, son taken
By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS – 16 hours ago
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — The 4-year-old boy's explanation was even more startling than the sight of him, barefoot and clad in pajamas, standing alone in the lobby of a highway rest stop.
Judith McConnell and her husband, Michael, had pulled into the rest stop on Interstate 70 about 50 miles outside of Dayton just after 9 p.m. on Jan. 2.
The boy was by himself, staring out a window. Judith McConnell waved at him as they walked in. What he said next was chilling: "A man came into my house without knocking and shot my mommy."
The man then left him alone at the rest stop, the boy said.
The couple, driving home to Maryland after Christmas in Colorado, took the boy into their car to warm up and called police.
"He's been abandoned here by a man with a gun," Michael McConnell told police. "He's quite disturbed."
As they waited for deputies to arrive, the boy recited the information his mother had drilled into him — his address, his parents' names, two phone numbers.
When Montgomery County sheriff's deputies arrived at his family's small white bungalow in Dayton later that night, they found the body of his 29-year-old mother, shot to death.
The woman died after struggling with her attacker, said Sheriff Phil Plummer. The killer also sexually assaulted the boy before taking him to the rest stop and abandoning him, police said.
The Associated Press is not naming the family so as not to identify the victim of an alleged sexual offense.
Police say a man under arrest has confessed to the crimes. Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias Heck is considering whether to seek the death penalty.
The chilling story began about a week before Christmas, when the 4-year-old's parents' car was stolen while they celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary at a rock concert in Columbus.
Police say the car, and the information inside it, led the killer directly to the family's home, about 75 miles away.
The young couple were struggling to make ends meet in a working-class Dayton neighborhood. She had left her job at a grocery store to stay home with her son. Her husband held down assorted jobs to support the family, working as an exterminator, a grocery store manager and a trainee at a bar-restaurant.
Neighbor Steve Hopkins, 41, described the boy as a precocious kid quick to make friends, even with adults.
"When he met you, he knew you," Hopkins said, saying the boy greeted him on the street with "How you doing, Steve?"
On Dec. 16, 10 days after their fourth anniversary, the couple drove to Columbus to see the band Duran Duran, Hopkins said.
Their Honda was reported stolen from an Ohio State parking garage on Dec. 17. The husband told police the car was unlocked and the keys had been left inside along with his wallet, which contained three credit cards and his Social Security card, according to a police report.
On the night of Jan. 2, he was working at a bar near their home. Police say his wife was home with their son, running a bath before bed.
The McConnells said the boy told them he was playing with his Ninja Turtle toys when a man carrying a shotgun walked up the sidewalk and broke into the house — "without knocking."
The Dayton Daily News, citing investigators, reported that the woman broke free, grabbed a knife, stabbed the intruder in the back and was shot twice in the abdomen during a struggle. She was found lying on a hallway floor.
Two days later, police arrested Charlie Myers, 22, of Columbus, who investigators say confessed to the crime.
FBI agents found that the woman's cell phone was used twice in Columbus after her death, including a call made to Myers' phone, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in Franklin County Municipal Court.
Investigators also found written directions to the woman's home in Myers' apartment, along with a computer, a Playstation 2 video game console and a cell phone, all consistent with items taken from the couple's house.
Police say Myers used information found in the unlocked vehicle to track down the couple.
Myers is charged with aggravated murder, kidnapping and gross sexual imposition involving a child under 13. He is being held in Montgomery County Jail in lieu of $5 million bail. No plea was entered, and Myers said he had no attorney.
Myers made an impromptu statement to reporters as he was being led into jail Wednesday, offering an apology and saying he had made a mistake and only wanted the family's "stuff."
He also gave an odd explanation for why the boy was taken: "I want to make sure the child could stay away from their parent because the parent had passed away."
Myers had it rough from an early age, when his mother died of a drug-related heart attack when he was just 4. He lived in homeless shelters with his father, who beat him with a belt, and struggled with a hearing impairment that wasn't addressed until he was 6 years old. He spent most of his childhood being shuttled between more than 20 foster homes in the Columbus area, according to court documents filed in Union and Franklin counties.
Myers started smoking marijuana at age 7, drank alcohol at age 8, and when he turned 11 he attempted suicide while living in a home for troubled boys, court documents show.
At age 17, living with an aunt in Marysville, Ohio, he broke into the empty house of elderly neighbors, stole valuables and set the house on fire. A juvenile court judge declined to transfer Myers' case to adult court, saying he was emotionally and psychologically damaged because treatment for his disability had been so delayed.
"I don't want you to hurt anyone else and I don't want you to hurt yourself," said Judge Charlotte Coleman Eufinger of Union County Juvenile Court. "I believe you can be a productive citizen."
Myers served three years in a juvenile detention center and was released on July 4, 2007, his 21st birthday.
Later that year, he stole a woman's car in Columbus, then showed up at her door a day or so later.
Sky Cunningham, 25, said Myers came to her apartment in December 2007 saying he had information about the missing vehicle. She was gone at the time and a roommate told Myers she wasn't home.
Myers later pleaded guilty to stealing the car, along with another belonging to Cunningham's roommate. She said the memory of the hassle had faded until she heard of the young mother's slaying.
"That could have been me," Cunningham told The Associated Press Thursday. "I got lucky. The timing was good that I was at my other job."
The little boy found in the highway waiting area turned 5 on Saturday and is staying with relatives.
His father returned to the house once last week to put the garbage on the curb, and says he won't ever allow his son back inside.
He told NBC's "Today" that he's grateful that his wife insisted they teach the boy his address and phone numbers. He admires his son for the bravery he showed through the ordeal.
"My focus is on him," he said. "I'm doing everything I can to bring a little bit of home to him."
Associated Press Writer James Hannah contributed to this report.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness
on: January 09, 2009, 11:13:54 AM
Arrogant Conceit: Obama Thinks He Can Reform The Economy
Obama's Interventionist Reforms Go in Precisely the Wrong Direction
Opinion By JOHN STOSSEL
Dec. 24, 2008—
Barack Obama wants to use the recession to remake the U.S. economy.
"Painful crisis also provides us with an opportunity to transform our economy to improve the lives of ordinary people," Obama said.
His designated chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is more direct: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste" (http://tinyurl.com/5n8u58
So, they will "transform our economy." Obama's nearly trillion-dollar plan will not merely repair bridges, fill potholes and fix up schools; it will also impose a utopian vision based on the belief that an economy is a thing to be planned from above. But this is an arrogant conceit. No one can possibly know enough to redesign something as complex as "an economy," which really is people engaging in exchanges to achieve their goals. Planning it means planning them.
Obama and Emanuel want us to believe that their blueprint for reform will bring recovery from the recession.
Yet, we have recovered from past recessions without undertaking a radical social and economic transformation.
In fact, reform would impede recovery.
This is not the first time a president chose reform over recovery. Franklin Roosevelt did it with his New Deal, and the result was long years of depression and deprivation. Roosevelt's priorities were criticized not just by opponents of big government but by none other than John Maynard Keynes, the British economist whose theories rationalized big government. Before FDR had been in office a year, Keynes wrote him an open letter, which was printed in The New York Times:
"You are engaged on a double task, Recovery and Reform; -- recovery from the slump and the passage of those business and social reforms which are long overdue. For the first, speed and quick results are essential. The second may be urgent, too; but haste will be injurious. ... [E]ven wise and necessary Reform may, in some respects, impede and complicate Recovery. For it will upset the confidence of the business world and weaken their existing motives to action. ... Now I am not clear, looking back over the last nine months, that the order of urgency between measures of Recovery and measures of Reform has been duly observed, or that the latter has not sometimes been mistaken for the former."
Note Keynes's concern. Government interventions, such as the cartelizing of industry through the National Recovery Administration, "will upset the confidence of the business world and weaken their existing motives to action." In other words, investors will not take the risks necessary for recovery if their profits and freedom are subject to unpredictable government action. Economic historian Roberts Higgs calls this phenomenon "regime uncertainty."
Keynes's letter apparently had little influence on Roosevelt, who stuck to his plan. In his second inaugural address a few years later, FDR feared that signs of recovery had jeopardized his reform plans by removing the sense of emergency: "To hold to progress today, however, is more difficult. Dulled conscience, irresponsibility and ruthless self-interest already reappear. Such symptoms of prosperity may become portents of disaster! Prosperity already tests the persistence of our progressive purpose."
What a shame. Free people enjoying their lives make it harder for the administration to forcibly impose its utopian vision on them.
Obama wants to act quickly. In the name of stimulating the economy, he plans to spend hundreds of billions of dollars the government does not have to convert the economy from carbon-based fuels to "green" alternatives. Even if that were a good idea -- and it's definitely not -- it would not bring recovery. Any money the government spends must be taxed, borrowed or conjured out of thin air by the Federal Reserve, and that will reduce sound private investment.
Obama has no real wealth to inject into the economy. He can only move around existing money while inflation robs us of purchasing power. Meanwhile, private investors who might have produced a better engine, battery, computer, cancer treatment or other wealth-creating and life-enhancing innovations, hold back for fear that big government will undermine productive efforts.
The way to a lasting recovery is to greatly lighten the burdens of government. Then free Americans will save and invest.
Grand interventionist reforms go in precisely the wrong direction.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Movie Fights
on: January 09, 2009, 09:23:53 AM
firearms are illegal in HK... so in theory, there are no guns in their society... i dont know how much of the movies is reality where all the bg's go around with automatics.... but revolvers are standard issue
The Triads do get ahold of many things that are illegal in HK, firearms included. More and more guns are making their way into the PRC proper. I recall reading about a big gunfight between several gangs in Shenzen.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Movie Fights
on: January 09, 2009, 09:13:08 AM
It always amazes me in these hong kong action flicks the cops always are using REVOLVERS.
I love my revolvers...but 5-6shots in a .38spl doesn't compare to a glock or whatever with an extra magazine. I'm not sure if this is just for theatrics or that is their carry piece...a lot of movies the guns cyclinder opens and the rounds fall out adding to the suspense. If anyone knows i'd be curious on the Hong kong police carry? i haven't been to hong kong since 94.
here's more from Sha Po Lang(killzone) someone burned the entirety to youtube.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMBliuL1Z9wNote the point in which he inserts the blade through the bicep then uses it as a control point and a trap/armdrag.
This is an excellent technique in reverse grip...Southnarc uses it in his pikal work.
EDIT- in the movie the patrol officers had a full sized glock.
In 2004, the regular Hong Kong beat cop was still carrying k-frame Smith and Wesson 4 inch revolvers, at least the ones I saw were. I know the Hong Kong Police (formerly the Royal Hong Kong Police until 1997) version of SWAT had all the tools and toys you'd find with an American SWAT team, including semi-auto handguns. If I recall correctly, Glock had it's east asian branch based in HK, so it wouldn't be much of a leap to assume the HK cops were buying Glocks to replace the revolvers.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rachel?
on: January 08, 2009, 09:09:19 PM
Three sources tell Guardian Obama plans to talk to Hamas
posted at 7:30 pm on January 8, 2009 by Allahpundit
Barack Obama, April 2008:
“We must not negotiate with a terrorist group intent on Israel’s destruction. We should only sit down with Hamas if they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel’s right to exist and abide by past agreements.”
“Hamas is not a state. Hamas is a terrorist organization,” he said.
The Guardian, tonight:
The Guardian has spoken to three people with knowledge of the discussions in the Obama camp.
There is no talk of Obama approving direct diplomatic negotiations with Hamas early on in his administration, but he is being urged by advisers to initiate low-level or clandestine approaches, and there is growing recognition in Washington that the policy of ostracising Hamas is counter-productive.
Richard Haass, a diplomat under both presidents Bush who was named by a number of news organisations this week as Obama’s choice for Middle East envoy, supports low level contacts with Hamas provided there is a ceasefire in place and a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation emerges…
Bruce Hoffman, a counterterrorism expert at the Georgetown school of foreign service, said it was unlikely Obama would move to initiate contacts with Hamas unless the radical faction in Damascus was crippled by the conflict in Gaza. “This would really be dependent on Hamas’s military wing having suffered a real, almost decisive, drubbing.”
I bet they feel silly now for unendorsing him.
What’s changed in nine months? For one thing, the ceasefire’s come and gone per Hamas’s choosing, reminding the world yet again that they can’t be ignored. Terrorism works, as Alan Dershowitz likes to say, and never more so than here if the crisis they provoked succeeds in landing them a seat at The One’s table. Beyond that, with the election over, Obama no longer needs Hamas as a fig leaf for his policy of dialogue with Iran. I wrote about this endlessly during the campaign: The three reasons he gave in April for not chatting with them — terrorism, rejectionism, and dealbreaking — apply equally well to Iran, but meeting with Iran is the cornerstone of the foreign policy Change he promised. How then to prove his Zionist credentials to pro-Israel voters? Simple — draw a meaningless artificial distinction between Iran and Hamas based on the fact that one’s a sovereign state and the other isn’t. He’ll talk to terrorist states threatening Israel with nuclear weapons, but terrorist groups threatening them with Qassam rockets? Why, he’s far too much of a Likudnik for that. Except of course he’s not, which is why that meaningless artificial distinction is now reportedly — and quietly — being discarded.
Exit question one: Anyone heard recently from our new Secretary of State? She seemed quite troubled during the campaign by the thought of listening to Hamas. Exit question two: Second look at this report from November? Exit question three: He’s not going to try to spin this as okay because it wouldn’t involve “direct presidential diplomacy,” is he? I.e., “When I said I wouldn’t talk to Hamas, I meant *I* wouldn’t talk to Hamas. Hillary, on the other hand…”
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness
on: January 08, 2009, 05:04:37 AM
By Ralph Peters
New York Post | Thursday, January 08, 2009
WOULD you ask your accountant to perform brain surgery on your child? That's the closest analogy I can find to the choice of Democratic Party hack Leon Panetta to head the CIA.
Earth to President-elect Obama: Intelligence is serious. And infernally complicated. When we politicize it - as we have for 16 years - we get 9/11. Or, yes, Iraq.
The extreme left, to which Panetta's nomination panders, howled that Bush and Cheney corrupted the intelligence system. Well, I worked in the intel world in the mid 1990s and saw how the Clinton team undermined the system's integrity.
Al Qaeda a serious threat? The Clinton White House didn't want to hear it. Clinton was the pioneer in corrupting intelligence. Bush was just a follow-on homesteader.
Now we've fallen so low that left-wing cadres can applaud the nomination of a CIA chief whose sole qualification is that he's a party loyalist, untainted by experience.
The director's job at the CIA isn't a party favor. This is potentially a matter of life and death for thousands of Americans. But the choice of Panetta tells us all that Barack Obama doesn't take intelligence seriously.
Mark my words: It'll bite him in the butt.
After the military, the intel community is the most complex arm of government. You can't do on-the-job training at the top. While a CIA boss needn't be a career intelligence professional, he or she does need a deep familiarity with the purposes, capabilities, limitations and intricacies of intelligence.
Oh, and you'd better understand the intelligence bureaucracy.
Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), who was blindsided - and appalled - by the Obama mafia's choice, has the essential knowledge of how the system works. She, or a similar expert, should have gotten this nod. But the president-elect wanted a clean-slate yes-man, not a person of knowledge and integrity.
We're witnessing the initial costs of Obama's career-long lack of interest in foreign policy, the military and intelligence. He doesn't think the top job at the CIA's important and just wants political cover on that flank. (Guess we got Panetta because Caroline Kennedy has another engagement.)
Forget a "team of rivals." Obama's creating a campaign staff for 2012.
Of course, he's reeling from the shrill rage of the Moveon.org crowd over his nomination of grown-ups to be his national-security adviser, director of national intelligence, administrator of veterans' affairs and, yes, secretary of state. (By the way, how could Hillary be dumb enough to accept a job where success is impossible?)
Panetta's appointment is a sop to the hard left, a signal that intelligence will be emasculated for the next four - or eight - years.
Think morale's been bad at the CIA? Just wait.
Conservatives played into this scenario by insisting that any CIA analysis that didn't match the Bush administration's positions perfectly amounted to an attack on the White House. Well, sorry. The intelligence community's job isn't to make anybody feel good - its core mission is to provide nonpartisan analysis to our leaders.
To be a qualified D-CIA, a man or woman needs a sophisticated grasp of three things: The intel system, foreign-policy challenges and the Pentagon (which owns most of our intelligence personnel and hardware). Panetta has no background - none - in any of these areas. He was never interested.
If you handed Leon Panetta a blank map of Asia, I'd bet my life he couldn't plot Baghdad, Kabul or Beijing within 500 miles of their actual locations. (Maybe he can see China from his California think tank?)
This shameless hack appointment is the first action by the incoming administration that seriously worries me. Get intelligence wrong and you get dead Americans.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe
on: January 08, 2009, 04:44:38 AM
w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m
Last update - 14:34 07/01/2009
Report: Islamist site compiling list of U.K. Jews to target over Gaza op
By Haaretz Service
An Islamic extremist Web site is believed to be drawing up a list of prominent British Jews to target over Israel's offensive against Hamas in Gaza, The Sun reported on Wednesday.
According to the British newspaper, Amy Winehouse record producer Mark Ronson and Foreign Secretary David Miliband were among names discussed on the online forum Ummah.
The report came as a British Jewish watchdog group, the Community Security Trust, said there has been a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Britain since the upsurge of hostilities in Gaza.
The British daily quoted the Ummah site as saying, "Saladin1970" asks for help compiling "a list of those who support Israel."
"Abuislam" asks: "Have we got a list of top Jews we can target? Can someone post names and addresses?"
Tony Blair's Middle East envoy and tennis partner Lord Levy, TV's The Apprentice boss Sir Alan Sugar and Princess Diana's divorce lawyer Anthony Julius were also reportedly among those mentioned on the site.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India and India-Pak
on: January 08, 2009, 12:57:28 AM
Transcripts of phone conversations between Mumbai terrorists
National Post Published: Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Transcripts published by the Indian newspaper The Hindu make it apparent the six handlers involved in the Mumbai attacks were closely monitoring events in Mumbai through the live TV coverage that went on non-stop for 60 hours.
"There are three ministers and one secretary of the cabinet in your hotel. We don't know in which room," a Pakistan-based caller tells a terrorist at the Taj at 3:10 a.m. on Nov. 27.
"Oh! That is good news" It is the icing on the cake!," he replies.
"Find those three-four persons and then get whatever you want from India," he is instructed.
"Pray that we find them," he answers.
At the Oberoi at 3:53 a.m., a handler phones and says: "Brother Abdul [Bada Abdul Rehman], the media is comparing your action to 9/11. One senior police official has been killed."
Abdul Rehman: "We are on the 10th/11th floor. We have five hostages."
Caller 2 (Kafa): "Everything is being recorded by the media. Inflict the maximum damage. Keep fighting. Don't be taken alive."
Caller: "Kill all hostages, except the two Muslims. Keep your phone switched on so that we can hear the gunfire."
Fahad Ullah: "We have three foreigners, including women from Singapore and China."
Caller: "Kill them."
The dossier then notes the telephone intercept records the "voices of Fahad Ullah and Bada Abdul Rehman directing hostages to stand in a line, and telling two Muslims to stand aside. Sound of gunfire. Cheering voices in background. Kafa hands telephone to another handler, Wasi Zarar, who says, "Fahad, find the way to go downstairs."
At Nariman House at 7:45 p.m., Wasi Zarar tells a terrorist: "Keep in mind that hostages are of use only as long as you do not come under fire because of their safety. If you are still threatened, then don't saddle yourself with the burden of the hostages. Immediately kill them."
He adds, "The Army claims to have done the work without any hostage being harmed. Another thing: Israel has made a request through diplomatic channels to save the hostages. If the hostages are killed, it will spoil relations between India and Israel."
"So be it, God willing," the terrorist replies.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere
on: January 07, 2009, 07:52:13 PM
- Pajamas Media - http://pajamasmedia.com
Top American Islamic Cleric Threatens U.S. on Egyptian TV
Posted By Patrick Poole On January 7, 2009 @ 12:00 am
Homeland Security, Israel, Middle East, US News, World News
Islamic cleric Salah Sultan appeared on Egypt’s Al-Nas TV last week and delivered a warning of death and destruction for America. Not only did he attack the U.S. for its military support of Israel in its fight against the Hamas terrorist organization, but he vowed retaliation such that more Americans would be killed than those Palestinians (and, presumably, Hamas terrorists) killed in the present conflict in Gaza, emphasizing that this would take place “soon”:
America, which gave [Israel] everything it needed in these battles, will suffer economic stagnation, ruin, destruction, and crime, which will surpass what is happening in Gaza. One of these days, the U.S. will suffer more deaths than all those killed in this third Gaza holocaust. This will happen soon.
He also invoked a notorious Islamic hadith on the inevitable annihilation of the Jews by Muslims:
The stone, which is thrown at the Jews, hates these Jews, these Zionists, because Allah foretold, via His Prophet Muhammad, that Judgment Day will not come before the Jew and the Muslim fight. The Jew will hide behind stones and trees, and the stone and the tree will speak, saying: “Oh Muslim, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” The only exception will be the Gharqad tree.
This harangue would be nothing new on television in the Islamic world; in fact, it is commonplace. What is unique about Sultan’s threats against America is that he holds U.S. permanent residency status and, according to one federal law enforcement official, travels regularly on a U.S. passport. And as I have reported  elsewhere, Sultan is pursuing U.S. citizenship (the status of his application is unknown due to federal privacy laws). Thus, Salah Sultan has lived quite comfortably for more than a decade under the protections of the very country he now threatens with death and destruction.
It should be noted that Salah Sultan is not some obscure figure in the American Islamic world. He serves as a member of the  Fiqh Council of North America. Touted as the top Islamic governing body in the U.S., the Fiqh Council is an arm of the Islamic Society of North America. Sultan founded and served as president of the  Islamic American University in Southfield, Michigan; he was the national director of tarbiyah (Islamic instruction) for the Muslim American Society; and he continues to operate the  American Council for Islamic Research, based in my hometown of Hilliard, Ohio.
Sultan’s Al-Nas TV appearance last week was  recorded and  translated by the indispensable Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). Curiously, as soon as MEMRI published the video clips of Sultan’s harangue, references to Sultan’s membership with the Fiqh Council were scrubbed from its website. His name has been removed from its  list of council members, even though he appeared there as recently as early last week. However, Sultan is still listed as a member on the Fiqh Council’s  brochure posted online (no doubt that will be remedied as soon as they are informed of this report).
This is not the first time that Sultan has been the subject of a MEMRI report for his statements made and activities conducted outside of the U.S. In July 2007,  MEMRI reported on a conference held in Doha, Qatar, in honor of Hamas spiritual leader Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, who has been banned from the U.S. since 1999 for his active support of Islamic terrorism. One of the conference’s keynote speakers was Hamas head Khaled Mash’al, a “specially designated global terrorist” by the U.S. government who praised the terror cleric for his fatwa endorsing Hamas suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. Sitting beside Mash’al and Qaradawi on the  speaker’s dais was none other than Salah Sultan, who gave two separate addresses during the conference honoring his mentor, Qaradawi.
This appearance by Sultan with two terrorist leaders directly violates the much-ballyhooed 2005 anti-terrorism fatwa issued by the Fiqh Council and signed by Sultan himself prohibiting such contact. Sultan also spoke at a July 2006  pro-Hamas rally in Istanbul held by the extremist Saadet Party, which also featured an address by Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh — again, a glaring violation of the Fiqh Council’s terrorism fatwa.
But with several former Fiqh Council members in prison on terrorism-related charges (former council trustee Abdurahman Alamoudi, currently serving a 23-year prison sentence), deported for concealing their terrorism ties (Fawaz Damra), fingered in illegal terrorist fundraising (current member Muhammad Al-Hanooti), and named as unindicted co-conspirators in terrorism trials (former chairman Taha Jaber Al-Awani), it should be apparent that the group is not rigorous in the fatwa’s enforcement. The Investigative Project has published a  dossier on the extensive roster of Fiqh Council members tied to the international Islamic terrorist network.
May 2006 saw Salah Sultan’s first starring role in a MEMRI report when  he was recorded on Al-Risala TV saying the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 terror attacks, which he claimed were then used to declare war on Muslims worldwide, and also praising Osama bin Laden mentor and “specially designated global terrorist” Abd-al-Magid Al-Zindani (see the MEMRI  video clip and  transcript of Sultan’s Al-Risala interview). These comments were made just two weeks after the Columbus Dispatch published a  lengthy defense of Sultan as a moderate and the Central Ohio Islamic school that he was religious director of at the time.
Sultan’s Middle East media appearances also caught the eye of the Los Angeles Times in July 2007. The paper  cited him by name in an article by Borzou Daragahi on a group of Islamic clerics who “share the outlook of al-Qaeda” and who were “glorifying holy war” on Bahraini TV. Sultan was a regular guest on a program hosted by Muslim Brotherhood cleric Wagdi Ghoneim, who was expelled from the U.S. in December 2004 and banned from reentering for his ties to Islamic terrorism. As noted by Bahraini blogger and journalist Mahmoud Al-Yousif, their television program was  shut down by the Bahraini government after extensive criticism by members of parliament and the media.
Considering Salah Sultan’s lengthy résumé of Islamic extremism and regular association with designated terrorist leaders — much of it captured on video — you might think that the Department of Homeland Security would take some action with respect to his permanent residency status (despite owning a home in Ohio, he spends most of his time in Bahrain, disqualifying him for permanent residency), if not ban him completely from the country. You would be wrong, however. In fact, Sultan spent most of December touring mosques in Central Ohio before jetting off to Egypt last weekend for his Al-Nas interview.
But now that Salah Sultan is publicly inciting violence against the U.S. and predicting the deaths of hundreds or even thousands of our citizens through foreign media outlets, on what basis can Homeland Security officials continue to ignore this very real and extensively documented terror threat, his connections to leading U.S. Islamic groups notwithstanding? That remains to be seen.
Article printed from Pajamas Media: http://pajamasmedia.com
URL to article: http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/top-american-islamic-cleric-threatens-us-on-egyptian-tv/
URLs in this post:
 elsewhere: http://www.frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=7FBDEF74-2DAC-401C-87BF-5D3E3E102047
 Fiqh Council of North America: http://www.fiqhcouncil.org/
 Islamic American University: http://www.islamicau.org/
 American Council for Islamic Research,: http://salahsoltan.com/main/188.8.131.52.0.0.phtml
 recorded: http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1965.htm
 translated: http://www.memritv.org/clip_transcript/en/1965.htm
 list of council members: http://www.fiqhcouncil.org/AboutUs/tabid/175/Default.aspx
 brochure: http://www.fiqhcouncil.org/Portals/4/FCNABrochure.pdf
 MEMRI reported: http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP167207
 speaker’s dais: http://ohioagainstterror.blogspot.com/2007/10/former-hilliard-hamas-cleric-pictured.html
 pro-Hamas rally: http://ohioagainstterror.blogspot.com/2007/05/hilliard-hamas-muslim-brotherhood.html
 dossier: http://www.investigativeproject.org/FCNA-CAIR.html
 he was recorded on Al-Risala TV: http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP116806
 video clip: http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1143.htm
 transcript: http://www.memritv.org/clip_transcript/en/1143.htm
 lengthy defense: http://dispatch.com/live/contentbe/dispatch/2006/05/05/20060505-C1-00.html
 cited him by name: http://ohioagainstterror.blogspot.com/2007/08/la-times-hilliard-holy-war-homeboy.html
 shut down: http://mahmood.tv/2007/06/13/crybabies-wont-leave
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
on: January 07, 2009, 10:19:31 AM
JANUARY 7, 2009
Iran's Hamas Strategy
Radical Shiites back radical Sunnis with the aim of destabilizing the Middle East.
By REUEL MARC GERECHT
Anyone who knows anything about the Middle East knows that Sunni and Shiite radicals don't work together -- er, except when they do. Proof that the conventional wisdom is badly wrong is on offer in Gaza, where the manifest destiny of the Islamic Republic of Iran is now unfolding. Tehran has been aiding Hamas for years with the aim of radicalizing politics across the entire Arab Middle East. Now Israel's response to thousands of Hamas rocket provocations appears to be doing just that.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attends an anti-Israeli demonstration in Tehran, Dec. 12, 2008. A poster at rear shows the late spiritual leader and founder of the Hamas movement, Sheik Ahmed Yassin.
Born in the 1980s from the ruins of the Palestine Liberation Organization's corrupt and decaying secular nationalism, Hamas is a grass-roots, Sunni Islamist movement that has made Shiite Iran a front-line player in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Before Hamas, the mullahs had financed the Palestine Islamic Jihad, whose holy warriors became renowned suicide bombers. But Islamic Jihad has always been a fringe group within Palestinian society. As national elections revealed in 2006, Hamas is mainstream.
Although often little appreciated in the West, revolutionary Iran's ecumenical quest has remained a constant in its approach to Sunni Muslims. The anti-Shiite rhetoric of many Sunni fundamentalist groups has rarely been reciprocated by Iran's ruling elite. Since the death in 1989 of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the charismatic, quintessentially Shiite leader of the Islamic revolution, Iran's ruling mullahs have tried assiduously to downplay the sectarian content in their militant message.
Khomeini's successor, Ali Khamenei, has consistently married his virulent anti-American rhetoric (Khomeini's "Great Satan" has become Khamenei's "Satan Incarnate") with a global appeal to faithful Muslims to join the battle against the U.S. and its allies. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the most politically adept of the revolution's founding clerics, loved to sponsor militant Sunni-Shiite gatherings when he was speaker of parliament and later as president (1989-1997). He and Mr. Khamenei, who have worked hand-in-hand on national-security issues and have unquestionably authorized every major terrorist operation since the death of Khomeini in 1989, have always been the ultimate pragmatists, even reaching out to Arab Sunni radicals with a strong anti-Shiite bent.
The most radical branch of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad Organization and its most famous member, Ayman al-Zawahiri, became favored Arab poster boys for the clerical regime in the 1980s and 1990s even though Islamic Jihad, like other extremist takfiri Sunni groups, damns Shiites with almost the same gusto as it damns Western infidels. The laissez-passers that Iran gave members of al Qaeda before Sept. 11, 2001 (see the 9/11 Commission Report), the training offered to al Qaeda in the 1990s by the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah (again, see the report), and the "detention" of senior members of al Qaeda fleeing Afghanistan after the American invasion are best seen against the backdrop of clerical Iran's three-decade long outreach to radical Sunnis who loathe Americans more than they hate Shiites.
In 2003, Iran launched two Arabic satellite TV channels both under the guidance of the former Revolutionary Guards commander Ali Larijani, a well-dressed, well-trimmed puritan with a Ph.D. in philosophy who crushed a brief period of intellectual openness in Iran's media in the early 1990s. A favorite of Mr. Khamenei, Mr. Larijani pushed TV content extolling Hamas, anti-Israeli suicide bombers, anti-Semitism and an all-Muslim insurgency in Iraq. Iran's remarkably subdued rhetoric against Arabs who gave loud support to insurgents and holy warriors slaughtering Iraqi Shiites between 2004 and 2007 is inextricably tied to Tehran's determination to keep Muslim eyes focused on the most important issue -- the battle against America and Israel. Iran's full-bore backing of Hezbollah in the July 2006 war with the Jewish State, a conflict that Tehran and its Syrian ally precipitated by their aggressive military support of Hezbollah, drew Sunni eyes further away from Iraq's internecine strife.
The 2006 Lebanon war, which lasted 34 days and saw Hezbollah's Iranian-trained forces embarrass the Israeli army, made Tehran's favorite Arab son, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, one of the most admired men in the Sunni Arab world. This was a remarkable achievement given that Hezbollah had helped Iran train some of the Iraqi Shiite militants who were wreaking a horrific vengeance against Baghdad's Sunni Arabs in 2006 -- a bloodbath that was constantly on Arab satellite television.
Prominent Sunni rulers -- Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah -- have railed against a "Shiite arc" of power forming in the Near East, only to see few echoes develop outside of the region's officially controlled media. Although the Sunni Arab rulers have sometimes shown considerable anxiety about the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon, Sunni fundamentalist organizations affiliated with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the mother ship for Sunni Islamists, have been much more restrained in expressing their trepidation.
With strong ties to its fundamentalist brethren along the Nile, Hamas has given Iran (really for the first time, and so far at little cost) an important ally within the fundamentalist circles of the Muslim Brotherhood. One of the Islamic revolution's great disappointments was that it failed to produce more allies within the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and its many offshoots.
The revolution certainly inspired many within the movement in Egypt and in Syria. But Iran's ties to the ruling Syrian Allawite elite -- a heretical Shiite sect that Sunni fundamentalists detest -- complicated its outreach to Sunni militants. When Syria's dictator Hafez Assad slaughtered thousands of Sunni fundamentalists in the town of Hama in 1982, and revolutionary Iran remained largely silent, Tehran's standing within the Muslim Brotherhood collapsed.
With Hamas, Iran has the opportunity to make amends. The mullahs have a chance of supplanting Saudi Arabia, the font of the most vicious anti-Shiite Sunni creed, as the most reliable backer of Palestinian fundamentalists. Even more than the Lebanese Hezbollah, which remains tied to and constrained by the complex matrix of Lebanese politics, Hamas seems willing to absorb enormous losses to continue its jihad against Israel. Where Saudi Arabia has been uneasy about the internecine strife among Palestinians -- it has bankrolled both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas -- Iran has put its money on the former.
Although Fatah, the ruling party within the Palestinian Authority, may get a second wind thanks to the excesses of Hamas and the Israelis' killing much of Hamas's brain power and muscle, it is difficult to envision Fatah reviving itself into an appealing political alternative for faithful Palestinians. Fatah is hopelessly corrupt, often brutal, and without an inspiring raison d'être: a Palestine of the West Bank and Gaza is, as Hamas correctly points out, boring, historically unappealing, and a noncontiguous geographic mess. Fatah only sounds impassioned when it gives vent to its anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic, profoundly Muslim roots. It's no accident that the religious allusions and suicide bombers of Fatah and Hamas after 2000 were hard to tell apart. If Hamas can withstand the current Israeli attack on its leadership and infrastructure, then the movement's aura will likely be impossible to match. Iran's influence among religious Palestinians could skyrocket.
Through Hamas, Tehran can possibly reach the ultimate prize, the Egyptian faithful. For reasons both ancient and modern, Egypt has perhaps the most Shiite-sympathetic religious identity in the Sunni Arab world. As long as Hamas remains the center of the Palestinian imagination -- and unless Hamas loses its military grip on Gaza, it will continue to command the attention of both the Arab and Western media -- Egypt's politics remain fluid and potentially volatile. Tehran is certainly under no illusions about the strength of Egypt's military dictatorship, but the uncertainties in Egypt are greater now than they have been since the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981.
President Hosni Mubarak, Sadat's successor, is old and in questionable health. His jet-setting son or a general may succeed him. Neither choice will resuscitate the regime's legitimacy, which has plummeted even among the highly Westernized elite. The popularity and mosque-power of the Muslim Brotherhood, which would likely win a free election, continues to rise. A turbulent Gaza where devout Muslims are in a protracted, televised fight with the cursed Jews could add sufficient heat to make Egyptian politics really interesting. The odds of Egypt cracking could be very small -- the police powers of the Egyptian state are, when provoked, ferocious -- but they are now certainly enough to keep the Iranians playing.
Where once Ayatollah Khomeini believed in the revolutionary potential of soft power (Iran's example was supposed to topple the pro-American autocrats throughout the Middle East), Khomeini's children are firm believers in hard power, covert action, duplicity and persistence. With Gaza and Egypt conceivably within Tehran's grasp, the clerical regime will be patient and try to keep Gaza boiling.
It is entirely possible that Tehran could overplay its hand among the Palestinians as it overplayed its hand among Iraqi Shiites, turning sympathetic Muslims into deeply suspicious, nationalistic patriots. The Israeli army could deconstruct Hamas's leadership sufficiently that Gaza will remain a fundamentalist mess that inspires more pity than the white-hot heat that comes when jihadists beat infidels in battle. But with a nuclear-armed Iran just around the corner, the mullahs will do their best to inspire.
Ultimately, it's doubtful that Tehran will find President-elect Barack Obama's offer of more diplomacy, or the threat of more European sanctions, to be compelling. The price of oil may be low, but the mullahs have seen worse economic times. In 30 years, they have not seen a better constellation of forces. And as the Shiite prayer goes, perhaps this time round the Sunnis, too, inshallah (God willing), will see the light.
Mr. Gerecht, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics
on: January 07, 2009, 08:24:06 AM
Turning off the entitlement-meltdown warning light
posted at 8:44 am on January 7, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
Democrats in Congress, led by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, plan on a spending spree that will push budget deficits to a trillion dollars while an entitlement-system crash awaits us in the next two decades. Until now, a House rule has forced the lower chamber each year to acknowledge the disaster awaiting the largest entitlement program by debating Medicare’s funding and direction. Now, according to CQ Today (subscription required), Pelosi and the Democrats have a solution to Medicare’s collapse — change the rule to skip the debate:House Democrats are planning to deal with one of their annual headaches early this year, using a rules package to turn off the Medicare “trigger” that each year forces an at least perfunctory debate on the entitlement program’s costs.
Buried in the package of operating rules that will govern the House in the 111th Congress is a provision saying the Medicare trigger “shall not apply.”
In a release accompanying the rules package, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., called the Medicare trigger “an ideologically-driven target based on a misleading measure of Medicare’s financial health.”
The trigger is part of the 2003 Medicare overhaul law that also created the prescription drug benefit. According to the law, if for two years in a row, 45 percent or more of Medicare’s funding comes from general tax revenues, the president has to submit — and Congress debate — legislation to slow excess spending over a seven-year period and restore fiscal stability to the program.
The trigger went into effect for the first time last year. President Bush submitted a proposal to cut spending which House Democrats promptly dismissed. They then killed the requirement for debate in 2008 with a rule similar to the one they plan to adopt Tuesday.
In an interesting twist, the rule change will still require Barack Obama to submit proposals to fix Medicare, as required by the statute. The House will simply ignore them. This anomaly will exist because Democrats won’t propose this as an amendment to the 2003 law, but only as a simple rule change, which they can use to govern only their own behavior. They cannot use a rule change to let Obama off the hook.
Steny Hoyer says that ending the trigger “will allow Congress to consider all options for improving Medicare financing to provide a balanced and equitable solution.” That’s exactly what the trigger prompts Congress to do. Killing the Medicare trigger allows Congress to ignore Medicare and the looming financial crisis coming our way. Hoyer, Pelosi, and the rest of the Democrats in the House don’t want to be reminded that while they spend money like there’s no tomorrow in the 111th Session, tomorrow will eventually come — and their upcoming spending spree will have made the situation exponentially worse.
Basically, this is the same as fixing the ENGINE TROUBLE light on your car by covering it with electrical tape and then launching a 3,000 mile road trip. What could go wrong?
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
on: January 07, 2009, 07:25:45 AM
Prager to Dershowitz: How can you still be a liberal?
posted at 7:55 am on January 7, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
Dennis Prager sent a challenge to Alan Dershowitz yesterday about his politics, not because Dershowitz wrote something with which Prager disagrees, but because he understands the issue of Israel so well. After excoriating Israel’s critics for “moral idiocy” for ignoring the genocidal intent of Hamas, and their insipid arguments of proportionality, Prager thinks Dershowitz should reconsider his entire political bent — or at least the company he chooses:In his Monitor column, Dershowitz describes “three types of international response to the Israeli military actions against the Hamas rockets” — “Iran, Hamas, and other knee-jerk Israeli-bashers,” “the United Nations, the European Union, Russia, and others who, at least when it comes to Israel, see a moral and legal equivalence between terrorists who target civilians and a democracy that responds by targeting the terrorists,” and “the United States and a few other nations that place the blame squarely on Hamas.”
It is relevant to the question I will pose that he omits any mention of the world’s left, even when mentioning the European Union. Who exactly in the European Union is condemning Israel? Its conservatives? Who in America is condemning Israel? Conservatives? Who in Australia or Canada? Conservatives? Of course not. As regards Israel (and America and much else), the Western world’s moral idiots, to use the term in the title of the Dershowitz column, are virtually all on the left, including and especially many of his colleagues in academia.
So, I have a question for my friend Dershowitz. (I say ‘friend’ because we’ve known each other for years and debated and dialogued together.)
Given that Israel’s security is so important to you, given that you believe that the ability to morally distinguish between Israel and its enemies is tantamount to the ability to distinguish between good and evil, and given that those who condemn Israel for its “disproportionate” response to Hamas terror-rockets are almost all on the left in America and Europe, why do you continue to identify yourself as a man of the left?
Everyone who thinks sometimes differs with one’s ideological compatriots. But when one’s ideological compatriots are morally wrong on the greatest moral issue of the moment and perhaps the very clearest as well, don’t you at least suffer from cognitive dissonance?
Prager notes that Dershowitz seems to go far out of his way to avoid blaming the Left specifically. Dershowitz doesn’t even mention that most of these critics come from the Left, and tries to put at least half of the blame on “the extreme Right”, helped no doubt by people like Ron Paul. However, the Ron Paul isolationist absolutists (and Stormfront allies) only comprise a tiny percentage of the people holding rallies on campuses and in metropolitan areas. Those arguments mainly come from groups like International ANSWER, World Can’t Wait, and other radical Left groups that combine animus for Israel with animus for the US.
However, Prager seems to fall into the same trap that Republicans did with Joe Lieberman, who took a similarly courageous stand against his political allies to support victory in Iraq. I’d call Lieberman a hero for that effort, sacrificing his political standing and almost losing his seat rather than surrendering to his party’s insistence on exploiting potential defeat for political gain. But I wouldn’t call Lieberman a conservative, or even a center-right politician, even when he got the one critical issue correct. Lieberman is a solid and unapologetic liberal, unlike Zell Miller, for instance, whose basic center-right instincts got short shrift from Democrats.
Dershowitz has remained strong in his support for a war on Islamist terrorists and for Israel. He hasn’t quite remained strong enough to name names properly when excoriating critics for their moral idiocy, which Prager rightly criticizes. However, overall Dershowitz is a doctrinaire liberal, and unless his allies abandon him like Lieberman’s party did when Lieberman stuck to his principles, Dershowitz will unfortunately remain more comfortable with the Left than the Right … and vice versa.
I’d be reasonably happy if Dershowitz skipped embracing conservatives while continuing to dismantle the Left’s attacks on Israel and their support for genocidal tyranny with Hamas.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Food Chain and Food Politics
on: January 07, 2009, 05:44:10 AM
Superdirt Made Lost Amazon Cities Possible?
for National Geographic News
November 19, 2008
ON TV Lost Cities of the Amazon airs Thursday, November 20, at 9 p.m. ET on the National Geographic Channel. Details >>
Centuries-old European explorers' tales of lost cities in the Amazon have long been dismissed by scholars, in part because the region is too infertile to feed a sprawling civilization.
But new discoveries support the idea of an ancient Amazonian urban network—and ingeniously engineered soil may have made it all possible.
(See Ancient Amazon Cities Found; Were Vast Urban Network [August 28, 2008].)
Now scientists are trying to recreate the recipe for the apparently human-made supersoil, which still covers up to 10 percent of the Amazon Basin. Key ingredients included of dirt, charcoal, pottery, human excrement and other waste.
If recreated, the engineered soil could feed the hungry and may even help fight global warming, experts suggest.
(Interactive map: "The Embattled Amazon.")
Scientists have long thought the river basin's tropical soils were too acidic to grow anything but the hardiest varieties of manioc, a potatolike staple.
But over the past several decades, researchers have discovered tracts of productive terra preta—"dark earth." The human-made soil's chocolaty color contrasts sharply with the region's natural yellowish soils.
Video Clip From Lost Cities of the Amazon Documentary
Research in the late 1980s was the first to show that charcoal made from slow burns of trees and woody waste is the key ingredient of terra preta.
With the increased level of agriculture made possible by terra preta, ancient Amazonians would have been able to live in one place for long periods of time, said geographer and anthropologist William Woods of the University of Kansas.
"As a result you get social stratification, hierarchy, intertwined settlement systems, very large scale," added Woods, who studies ancient Amazonian settlements.
"And then," he said, "1492 happens." The arrival of Europeans brought disease and warfare that obliterated the ancient Amazonian civilizations and sent the few survivors deep into the rain forest to live as hunter-gatherers.
"It completely changed their way of living," Woods said.
Today scientists are racing to tease apart the terra-preta recipe. The special soil has been touted as a way to restore more sustainable farming to the Amazon, feed the world's hungry, and combat global warming.
The terra-preta charcoal, called biochar, attracts certain fungi and microorganisms.
Those tiny life-forms allow the charcoal to absorb and retain nutrients that keep the soil fertile for hundreds of years, said Woods, whose team is among a few trying to identify the crucial microorganisms.
"The materials that go into the terra preta are just part of the story. The living member of it is much more," he said.
For one thing, the microorganisms break up the charcoal into smaller pieces, creating more surface area for nutrients to cling to, Woods said.
Soil scientist Johannes Lehmann of Cornell University is also racing to recreate terra preta.
The Amazonian dark soils, he said, are hundreds to thousands of years old, yet to this day they retain their nutrients and carbons, which are held mainly by the charcoal.
This suggests that adding biochar could help other regions of the world with acidic soils to increase agricultural yields.
Plus, Lehmann said, biochar could help reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere from the burning of wild lands to create new farm fields. (Learn how greenhouse gas emissions may worsen global warming.)
For example, specialized power plants could char agricultural wastes to generate electricity.
The process would "lock" much carbon that would have otherwise escaped into the atmosphere in the biochar. The biochar could then be put underground, in a new form of terra preta, thereby sequestering the carbon for centuries, Lehmann suggests.
Current Amazonian farming relies heavily on slash-and-burn agriculture—razing forests, then burning all of what's left.
By reverting to the ancient slash-and-char method—burning slowly and then mixing the charcoal into the soil—Amazonian carbon dioxide emissions could be cut nearly in half, according to Woods, of the University of Kansas.
With slash-and-burn, he noted, 95 percent of the carbon stored in a tree is emitted to the atmosphere. Slash-and-char emits about 50 percent, he said.
"The rest is put into different forms of black carbon, most of which are chemically inert for long periods of time—thousands of years."
In addition, the technique would allow many farmers to stay sedentary, Woods said.
Because the soil would apparently remain fertile for centuries, "they don't have to cut down the forest constantly and send it up into the atmosphere," he said.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
on: January 07, 2009, 02:43:49 AM
Gaza Is Not Lebanon
Why Israel's campaign against Hamas may succeed.
by Thomas Donnelly & Danielle Pletka
01/05/2009 5:00:00 PM
The conventional wisdom about the incursion by Israeli ground units into Gaza, mirrored in Sunday's Washington Post, is that "Israeli leaders run the risk of repeating their disastrous experience in the 2006 Lebanon war, when they suffered high casualties in ground combat with Hezbollah." Apparently, reporters and pundits are even more prone to refighting the last war than generals: Gaza is not Lebanon; Hamas is not Hezbollah and, most critically, Israel now is not Israel in 2006.
To begin with, the physical and geographical differences between southern Lebanon and the Gaza strip could hardly be greater. And while Hassan Nasrallah and the Hezbollah leadership were under air attack in the outskirts of Beirut in 2006, the Hamas leadership has far fewer places to hide in Gaza city and elsewhere in Gaza. The initial successes of the Israeli airstrikes were not just a product of much better intelligence about Hamas (though it's probable that Israeli intelligence had done a superior job of exploiting differences amongst Hamas and West Bank leaders to improve its targeting), but also reflect simple facts of proximity and smaller scale. The terrain makes perhaps an even greater difference in ground warfare. The hills of southern Lebanon are not only naturally defensible terrain--each village providing an excellent fortified fighting position--but helped to channel Israeli armored columns. A good percentage of Israeli combat deaths came from a handful of successful ambushes.
Gaza is also an inherently isolated battlefield. Whereas Hezbollah could be resupplied not from northern Lebanon, Syria, and even from the sea, Gaza is surrounded by Israeli walls and a closed border with Egypt. And the Israeli Navy dominates the coastline. As long as Egypt restricts movement into and out of Gaza, the Hamas leadership and forces are trapped in a very small pocket. Israel's moves on the ground have capitalized on this essential fact. Within the first hours of their thrust into Gaza, the IDF appears to have been able to cordon off Gaza city and the other larger villages to the south. Hamas is now further isolated into smaller pockets, and press reports indicate that their larger command and control structure is falling apart.
Hamas and Hezbollah are also profoundly different beasts. While neither is really the "non-state actor" as popularly understood, Hezbollah is a much more robust and state-like organization, while Hamas is only a notch above its roots as a terrorist group, and has failed to capitalize on its control of quasi-independent Gaza to organize or modernize. And further, while both are Iranian proxies, the duration, depth and strength of Tehran's investments in Hezbollah far exceeds its investments in Hamas. (It's also worth noting that Hamas is a Sunni group, and though sectarianism is an imperfect guide to alliances in the Middle East--as our experience in Iraq should make clear--it does contribute to the fact that Iranian ties with Hezbollah are more organic than with Hamas.) In addition, the Lebanese state's weaknesses make it a free zone in which the Iranian Quds Force has been able to conduct rigorous paramilitary training and rearm its proxies freely. Hamas has operated under a much more watchful Israeli eye. Iranian military assistance and training to Hamas has been effective only in limited areas, and has itself lacked the scope of effort Hezbollah has enjoyed; whereas Hezbollah armed and trained and (with North Korean aid) built infrastructure for many years to fight as it did in 2006.
The result was a Hezbollah built to be a very tough opponent for the IDF. In 2006, as Stephen Biddle and Jeffrey Friedman found in a recent study for the U.S. Army War College, some of the firefights in Lebanon lasted for more than six hours, and involved Lebanese village militia as well as Hezbollah "regulars." We shall see how much the Israelis do to collapse the several pockets of Hamas they have created in Gaza, although it is worth noting that, as Hamas forces are isolated, the opportunity to bring air and artillery fires to bear in a relatively precise way will return. To be sure, there may be some close urban combat, but if the IDF maintains a methodical approach, they can slowly eviscerate Hamas militarily. Thus far, the casualty exchange ratios thus far are nothing like Lebanon; according to the War College study, the Lebanon war resulted in 53 Israeli civilian deaths from Hezbollah rockets and 119 soldiers killed in action. Thus far, Hamas is showed no ability to affect Israeli maneuvers along the main roadways used to cut through Gaza--although these ought to have been generally predictable avenues of attack--nor do there seem to have been many defense-in-depth positions, at least any that have halted or slowed Israeli progress. It's one thing to retreat into the warrens of Gaza city or other towns as Hamas appears to be doing, but Hezbollah conducted a much more active defense; also its leadership around Beirut was at less immediate risk. The Hamas defenses, thus far, have been systematically ineffective. Biddle and Friedman rightly concluded that Hezbollah has become a more traditional and conventional force, and that this development accounted for much of its improved tactical performance in 2006.
Hezbollah also acted like "regulars" in the sense of wearing uniforms. This is not simply a legal nicety or fashion statement (though their black garb is designed to intimidate their opponents), but a measure both of internal cohesion and the relationship of the military to the state--again, it is better to think of Hezbollah as a "proto-state" rather than a "non-state." Indeed, Hezbollah's recent agreement with the Lebanese state enshrines this status. Also, since one of the primary requisites of a legitimate state is defense of territory and people, it would seem that Hamas is losing its "domestic" propaganda war in a way that Hezbollah did not. Likewise, on the mythic "Arab street," Hamas's performance can only be found wanting in comparison to Hezbollah; the echoes of past Arab failures against Israel may return to haunt the Palestinians. It is worth remembering that Hezbollah's "victory" was not simply that it survived, as popular understanding has it, but that it put up a respectable military performance in defense of its territory. Indeed, it would be fair to say that first among the Arabs, Hezbollah severely dented the historic Israeli deterrent in 2006.
Further, one of the likely reasons that Hezbollah's cohesion and its popular support in southern Lebanon was more deeply rooted is that it performs a number of its state-like functions well, at least by local standards; the strength of the Hezbollah civil "state" contributes to military effectiveness.
Finally, the Israelis seem far better prepared this time around than in Lebanon 2006. Domestic political expectations are low--for Israelis, this is another incidence of "frontier warfare," not dissimilar from American Indian-fighting, where the expectation is to "treat a condition" rather than "cure" it by producing a conclusive outcome. Strategically, they've also clearly worked things out with the Egyptians (and indeed other Arab governments) who seem happy to see Hamas crushed, though it's hard to say how long that will hold. Notably, Fatah and Hezbollah also appear to be sitting this one out. Hezbollah's inactivity is especially interesting, despite Nasrallah's fulminations: Nasrallah, and even the Iranians, likely realize that victory is not in the cards for this round. More importantly, Hezbollah's decision to steer clear underscores its own independence. Better to join a winning war. Even the Iranian regime, while engaging in its typical verbal posturing, has done little of material value for Hamas. Tehran is also likely considering the value of joining a losing fight that might also remove what they may regard opportunities to be explored with the Obama administration. Stand by for pundits to start explaining how we need Tehran to resolve the Gaza mess.
Militarily, the Israelis seem much better organized, conducting combing and coordinated air and land operations, and committing adequate forces from the start rather than feeding forces into the fight in a piecemeal fashion. They've also been more patient, a very necessary virtue. And while the "end state" is uncertain--which most Western analysts argue is a big problem--it's not at all clear that the IDF can't just retreat behind the border barriers when they perceive they've reached the culminating point of diminishing returns. Is a lawless Gaza worse than a Hamas-ruled Gaza? Sure, Hamas will probably reestablish a level of control in Gaza, but who's to say there won't be a short if nasty and brutish struggle for power in the aftermath.
A decimated Hamas will also ask a strategic question of Tehran: They may try to rearm a reconstituted Hamas, but inevitably will do so with little confidence in the value of their Hamas proxy. Israel would reap a huge deterrence windfall if the outcome demonstrates a limit to the value of Iranian sponsorship. It seems that two possibilities await: that Iran calculates that Hamas is a disposable asset, worth jettisoning in hopes of a rapprochement--a short-term deal if not a Grand Bargain--with America. That would be the smart game. But past habits are hard to break, and no doubt the Revolutionary Guard Corps and its training cadres will be salivating to try to remake Hamas more in the Hezbollah style, to fight for keeps in the next go round.
Indeed, it is worth wondering how this might have played out if Iran had demonstrated a nuclear capability by now. The Arabs would likely be less supportive of Israel. Maybe even the Europeans would have weighed in sooner against Israel. Possibly even the Israelis would have been deterred from striking at Hamas, and certainly they would have thought twice before acting. But none of this is clear; war is, sometimes, the least bad choice. Iranian nuclear weapons may deter direct attacks on Tehran, but will they protect its proxies? Let's hope not, because that is a question that will likely be asked again.
Thomas Donnelly is resident fellow in defense and national security studies at the American Enterprise Institute. Danielle Pletka is vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters
on: January 07, 2009, 02:31:38 AM
Bracing for more border disorder
By Michelle Malkin • January 5, 2009 11:45 AM
I wrote at the end of my year-end state of the borders column last week that blood-stained reality clarifies the mind.
Two new MSM articles on the increasing chaos on the southern border underscore the point.
The NYTimes weighs in with “Kidnappings in Mexico Send Shivers Across Border.”Four hooded men smashed in the door to the adobe home of an 80-year-old farmer here in November, handcuffing his frail wrists and driving him to a makeshift jail. They released him after relatives and friends paid a $9,000 ransom, which included his life savings.
The kidnapping was a dismal story of cruelty and heartbreak, familiar all across Mexico, but with a new twist: the daughter of this victim lived in the United States and was able to wire money to help assemble his ransom, the farmer, who insisted that he not be identified by name, said in an interview.
A string of similar kidnappings, singling out people with children or spouses in the United States, so panicked this village in the state of Zacatecas that many people boarded up their homes and headed north, some legally and some not, seeking havens with relatives in California and other American states.
“The relatives of Mexicans in the United States have become a new profit center for Mexico’s crime industry,” said Rodolfo García Zamora, a professor at the Autonomous University of Zacatecas who studies migration trends. “Hundreds of families are emigrating out of fear of kidnap or extortion, and Mexicans in the U.S. are doing everything they can to avoid returning. Instead, they’re getting their relatives out.”
The reported rush into the United States by people from the state of Zacatecas is another sign that Mexico’s growing lawlessness is a volatile new factor affecting the flow of migrant workers across America’s border. The violence is adding a new layer of uncertainty to the always fraught issue of Mexican emigration, already in flux because of the economic downturn in the United States.
Academics and policy makers on both sides of the border, who are watching closely for shifts in migration patterns, say it is too early to know the long-term impact of either the drug-related violence or the loss of jobs by thousands of migrant workers in the United States. But so far, earlier predictions of an exodus of out-of-work Mexicans back to their hometowns seem to have been premature.
Instead, it appears that the pattern in the state of Zacatecas — where many people have family in the United States — may be a good indicator of what is happening throughout Mexico. The country’s spiraling criminality appears not only to be keeping some Mexicans in the United States, but it may also be leading more Mexicans to flee their country. “It’s a toxic combination right now,” said Denise Dresser, a political scientist based in Mexico City. “Mexicans north of the border are facing joblessness and persecution, but in their own country the government can’t provide basic security for many of its citizens.”
And the Dallas Morning News reports: “Mexico’s drug violence expected to intensify in ‘09.”Drug-related violence in Mexico, already at unprecedented levels, is expected to escalate further this year, with targets likely to include top Mexican politicians and law enforcement agents and possibly even U.S. officials, according to diplomats and intelligence experts on both sides of the border.
The warning underscores the difficult choices confronting President Felipe Calderón as he takes on drug cartels while weighing the implications of growing casualties in a year of midterm elections and a slowing economy.
It also reflects rising concern among U.S. officials and analysts about the deteriorating security situation, corruption among Mexico’s top crime fighters, and the vulnerability of the military to possible corruption in battling cartel gangs.
As the war against cartels escalates in 2009, so will the threats, particularly against U.S. officials and other Americans, officials, analysts and diplomats, including U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza, said in recent interviews.
“Calderón must, and will, keep the pressure on the cartels, but look, let’s not be naïve – there will be more violence, more blood, and, yes, things will get worse before they get better. That’s the nature of the battle,” Garza said. “The more pressure the cartels feel, the more they’ll lash out like cornered animals.
“Our folks know exactly how high the stakes are,” Garza said. He advised Americans traveling to Mexico to check State Department travel alerts at www.state.gov.
A U.S. intelligence official based along the Texas border warned that U.S. officials, American businessmen and journalists will “become targets, if they’re not already.”
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere
on: January 07, 2009, 02:09:41 AM
There was one protest in India, by Indian muslims, regarding Mumbai. After 9/11, Iranian students protested in Iran, aside from those protests, the muslim world can only be bothered to protest Mohammed cartoons or Israel refusing to be rocketed any longer.
Thank you for recognizing this point, JDN.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness
on: January 06, 2009, 10:10:52 AM
What the Panetta appointment means
posted at 10:57 am on January 6, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
Barack Obama sent a message with the selection of Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff, but apparently didn’t think enough people understood it. He sent a stronger message yesterday with his choice of Leon Panetta for Director of CIA, and this time, it’s unmistakable. Political considerations will trump competence and experience, even in the most critical roles Obama has to fill:President-elect Barack Obama stunned the national intelligence community by selecting Clinton White House chief of staff Leon E. Panetta, a longtime Washington insider with little intelligence experience, to serve as the next head of the CIA.
The decision — which was also met with wariness on Capitol Hill — reflects a desire to change the intelligence power structure, officials close to the selection said yesterday. Obama has chosen retired Navy Adm. Dennis C. Blair as the director of national intelligence, a job he intends to reinforce as the “lead horse” on intelligence issues, an official close to the selection process said.
Panetta, 70, is widely regarded as a good manager who knows the government bureaucracy well. Panetta, a former eight-term member of Congress who has run a think tank in California for the past decade, has no significant ties to the agency that Obama has criticized for using harsh interrogation methods. Panetta has openly objected to the use of such methods, writing in an essay last year that the United States “must not use torture under any circumstances.” Obama had trouble filling the CIA slot in part because other candidates were perceived as tainted for having supported aspects of the Bush administration’s interrogation and intelligence programs.
Yet Panetta, who also served as director of President Bill Clinton’s Office of Management and Budget, has no institutional memory of the intelligence agency and no hands-on experience with its thorniest challenges, including the collection of human intelligence overseas. His lack of experience drew immediate questions, most notably from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the incoming chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, who said she was not briefed on his selection and learned about it from news accounts.
The US is currently fighting an asymmetrical war on two hot fronts, but more to the point, in every corner of the world. We need our best people at the helm at Defense and in the intelligence arenas, people with insight into the problems and challenges facing America at war. Barack Obama either doesn’t understand that or cares less about security than he does about politics.
Leon Panetta only has indirect experience with intelligence. As budget director in the Clinton administration, Panetta has familiarity with their funding, and Panetta also served on the Iraq Study Group for several months, which looked at the role that intelligence failures played in our invasion and during the occupation. There must be thousands of people more qualified to run the CIA from an experience and competence standpoint, including several members of Congress, notably Jane Harman, who should have chaired the House Intelligence Committee in the last session of Congress but ran afoul of Nancy Pelosi.
Even the notion of “change” doesn’t apply here. Obama has no executive experience in government, and neither does Panetta, but Panetta hardly represents a breath of fresh air in Washington. He’s another Clinton-era retread, only in this case, put in charge of an organization about which he knows nothing. He’s there to exercise Obama’s political will and nothing more.
Obama deserves the benefit of the doubt on his political appointments, but this is one selection that should get a lot of scrutiny from Congress. If Obama wants a political hatchet man in a high-level appointment, have Panetta run OMB — or Commerce, where there’s a late opening. America deserves the benefit of experience and wisdom in the position of CIA director.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics
on: January 06, 2009, 08:09:08 AM
U.S. could be facing debt 'time bomb' this year
Investors' thirst for American securities could finally be quenched
By Lori Montgomery
updated 12:29 a.m. ET, Sat., Jan. 3, 2009
WASHINGTON - With President-elect Barack Obama and congressional Democrats considering a massive spending package aimed at pulling the nation out of recession, the national debt is projected to jump by as much as $2 trillion this year, an unprecedented increase that could test the world's appetite for financing U.S. government spending.
For now, investors are frantically stuffing money into the relative safety of the U.S. Treasury, which has come to serve as the world's mattress in troubled times. Interest rates on Treasury bills have plummeted to historic lows, with some short-term investors literally giving the government money for free.
But about 40 percent of the debt held by private investors will mature in a year or less, according to Treasury officials. When those loans come due, the Treasury will have to borrow more money to repay them, even as it launches perhaps the most aggressive expansion of U.S. debt in modern history.
With the government planning to roll over its short-term loans into more stable, long-term securities, experts say investors are likely to demand a greater return on their money, saddling taxpayers with huge new interest payments for years to come. Some analysts also worry that foreign investors, the largest U.S. creditors, may prove unable to absorb the skyrocketing debt, undermining confidence in the United States as the bedrock of the global financial system.
While the current market for Treasurys is booming, it's unclear whether demand for debt can be sustained, said Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP, which analyzes Treasury financing trends.
"There's a time bomb in there somewhere," Crandall said, "but we don't know exactly where on the calendar it's planted."
The government's hunger for cash began growing exponentially as the nation slipped into recession in the wake of a housing foreclosure crisis a year ago. Washington has since approved $168 billion in spending to stimulate economic activity, $700 billion to prevent the collapse of the U.S. financial system, and multibillion-dollar bailouts for a variety of financial institutions, including insurance giant American International Group and mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Despite those actions, the economic outlook has continued to darken. Now, Obama and congressional Democrats are debating as much as $850 billion in new federal spending and tax cuts to create or preserve jobs and slow the grim, upward march of unemployment, which stood in November at 6.7 percent.
Congress is not planning to raise taxes or cut spending to cover the cost of those programs, because economists say doing so would further slow economic activity. That means the government has to borrow the money.
Some of the borrowing was done during the fiscal year that ended in September, when the Treasury added nearly $720 billion to the national debt. But the big borrowing binge will come during the current fiscal year, when the cost of the bailouts plus another stimulus package combined with slowing tax revenues will force the government to increase the debt by as much as $2 trillion to finance its obligations, according to a Treasury survey of bond dealers and other market analysts.
As of yesterday, the debt stood at nearly $10.7 trillion, of which about $4.3 trillion is owed to other government institutions, such as the Social Security trust fund. Debt held by private investors totals nearly $6.4 trillion, or a little over 40 percent of gross domestic product.
According to the most recent figures, foreign investors held about $3 trillion in U.S. debt at the end of October. China, which in October replaced Japan as the United States' largest creditor, has increased its holdings by 42 percent over the past year; Britain and the Caribbean banking countries more than doubled their holdings.
Economists from across the political spectrum have endorsed the idea of going deeper into debt to combat what many call the most dangerous economic conditions since the Great Depression. The United States is in relatively good financial shape compared with other industrial nations, such as Japan, where the public debt equaled 182 percent of GDP in 2007, or Germany, where the debt was 65 percent of GDP, according to a forthcoming report by Scott Lilly, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
Even a $2 trillion increase would push the U.S. debt to about 53 percent of the overall economy, "only a few percentage points above where it was in the early 1990s," Lilly writes, noting that plummeting interest rates show that "much of the world seems not only willing but anxious to invest in U.S. Treasurys, which are seen as the safest security that an investor can own in a risky world economy."
Still, some analysts are concerned that the deepening global recession will force some of the largest U.S. creditors to divert cash to domestic needs, such as investing in their own banks and economies. Even if demand for U.S. debt keeps pace with supply, investors are likely to demand higher interest rates, these analysts said, driving up debt-service payments, which last year stood at $250 billion.
"When you accumulate this amount of debt that we're moving into, it's not a given that our foreign friends are going to continue on the path they've been on," said G. William Hoagland, a longtime Republican budget analyst who now serves as vice president for public policy at the health insurer Cigna. "There's going to come a time when we can't even pay the interest on the money we've borrowed. That's default."
Others say those fears are overblown. The market for U.S. Treasurys is by far the largest and most liquid bond market in the world, and big institutional investors have few other places to safely invest large sums of reserve cash.
Despite their growing domestic needs, "China and the oil countries are going to continue running large surpluses," said C. Fred Bergsten, director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. "They certainly will be using money elsewhere, but I don't think that means they won't give it to us."
As for the specter of default, Steven Hess, lead U.S. analyst for Moody's Investors Service, said even a $2 trillion increase in borrowing would not greatly diminish the U.S. financial condition. "It's not alarmingly high by our AAA standards," he said. "So we don't think there's pressure on the rating yet."
But that could change, Hess said. Nearly a year ago, Moody's raised an alarm about the skyrocketing costs of Social Security and Medicare as the baby-boom generation retires, saying the resulting budget deficits could endanger the U.S. bond rating. Even as the nation sinks deeper into debt to finance its own economic recovery, several analysts said it will be critical for Obama to begin to address the looming costs of the entitlement programs and signal that he has no intention of letting the debt spiral out of control.
Failure to do so, Bergsten said, would "create dangers . . . in market psychology and continued confidence in the dollar."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India and India-Pak
on: January 06, 2009, 04:27:21 AM
Nariman House, not Taj, was the prime target on 26/11
Think 26/11, and images of the carnage at the Taj come to mind. But the terrorists themselves were in no doubt that Nariman House was the prime focus. For this was the place which housed a Jewish centre, and the fanatics from Pakistan were clear that they wanted to send a message to the world from there.
The Mumbai crime branch, which is investigating the terror attacks, has found that the terrorists’ handlers in Pakistan were clear this operation should not fail under any circumstances. The rest of the operations — at the Taj, Oberoi and Chhattrapati Shivaji Terminus — were intended to amplify the effect.
A senior police official, told DNA on condition of anonymity, that the interrogation of Mohammed Amir Iman Ajmal (aka Kasab) revealed as much. Just before entering the city, the terrorists’ team leader, Ismail Khan, briefed them once again about their targets. “But Khan briefed Imran Babar, alias Abu Akasha, and Nasir, alias Abu Umer, intensely on what to do at Nariman House,” the officer said.
When asked during interrogation why Nariman House was specifically targetted, Ajmal reportedly told the police they wanted to sent a message to Jews across the world by attacking the ultra orthodox synagogue.
According to the statement by Ajmal, Khan told Babar and Nasir that even if the others failed in their operation, they both could not afford to. “The Nariman House operation has to be a success,” the officer said, quoting from Ajmal’s statement.
“Khan also said that as far as Nariman House was concerned, there should not be even a minimal glitch in finding it and capturing it,” the officer quoted Ajmal as saying.
After the dinghy carrying the 10 terrorists reached Mumbai at the Macchimar colony opposite Badhwar Park in Cuffe Parade, it was decided that no bombs would be planted in the taxi to be used to reach Nariman House.
“The idea,” according to the police officer, “was that if Babar and Nasir got delayed in locating and entering Nariman House, the bomb in the taxi may explode even before they entered their target.”
The officer further quoted Ajmal’s confession as indicating the Nariman House killers may have either lost their way or took their time entering the building to avoid failure.
The dinghy reached Cuffe Parade around 8.30pm, but Babar and Nasir entered
Nariman House at around 10pm. This means they took around one- and-a-half hour to locate and enter Nariman House,” the officer said. Anyone who knows Colaba would have got there in 15-20 minutes.
Another aspect which indicates that the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) did not want the Nariman House operation to fail was Fahim Ansari’s revelation to the crime branch. Ansari, who was arrested for his alleged involvement in the bomb blasts at a CRPF camp in Lucknow in January last year, told the police that Nariman House was also surveyed by him last year. Interestingly, Ansari did not reveal this detail when he was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police in February last year.
“Ansari told us that he did not divulge this information earlier because it would have jeopardised the most important operation of the LeT. He had also been warned by the LeT that Nariman House was their most secret operation and must not be compromised at any cost,” the officer said.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness
on: January 06, 2009, 01:57:07 AM
Monday, January 05, 2009
The Wrong Choice
More than a few spooks, current and former, are shaking their heads over the appointment of Leon Panetta as the next CIA Director.
Mr. Panetta is the consummate Washington insider who is best know as Bill Clinton's Chief of Staff during the Monica Lewinsky episode. Before that, he was Clinton's first Director of the Office of Management and Budget and a Democratic Congressman from California for 16 years, serving primarily on the Budget and Agriculture Committees.
In the early days of his political life, Panetta was actually a Republican, working as an aide to California Senator Thomas Kuchel before joining the Nixon Administration. During his first stint in Washington, Panetta served as assistant to the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and later ran the Office for Civil Rights. He left the administration--and the GOP--in 1971, accusing the White House of being "soft" on enforcement of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts.
Readers will note a common theme in Panetta's professional life: the wholesale lack of intelligence experience. While Mr. Panetta is certainly acquainted with the intel community and his capabilities, he has never served (let alone, led) an intelligence organization, or served on a Congressional panel charged with its oversight.
To be fair, many CIA Directors have come from outside the intelligence community. And, some of them, such as John McCone, who served during the Kennedy Administration, have performed admirably. At the other extreme, some of the career intelligence officers (or those with prior intel experience) have been miserable failures. So, Panetta's limited exposure to the intelligence community doesn't disqualify him for the CIA post, or predict failure during his tenure.
But these are critical days for our intelligence apparatus, including the agency that Mr. Panetta will lead. When the Bush Administration entered office eight years ago, it inherited a CIA that was dysfunctional, highly politicized and woefully inept at its critical missions of intelligence collection and analysis.
Since then, three different men--George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden--have tried to reform the agency, with varying degrees of success. During their respective tenures, the CIA has added thousands of new operatives and analysts, and there is some evidence that the new hires (and their more experienced colleagues) are making a difference. After all, there hasn't been a terrorist attack on American soil since 9-11, and the CIA deserves some credit for that remarkable record.
Still, the agency is far from healthy. Elements within the CIA have pursued a strident, anti-administration agenda, under-cutting President Bush's policies on Iran's nuclear program and other issues. Case in point: the intelligence community's infamous 2007 assessment of Tehran's nuclear ambitions--largely based on CIA analysts--which effectively ended any chances for U.S. military action against Iran. The long-term consequences of that analytical power play have yet to be determined.
To advance the reform agenda at Langley, the CIA clearly needs an experienced hand. But there are more compelling reasons to put a career intelligence officer in charge of the agency. The threat facing our nation remains very real; a recent study suggests that terrorists will stage a chemical or biological attack inside the United States during the next five years. Meeting that challenge requires a leader who doesn't need on the job training, and will hold his organization to the highest standards of tradecraft and professional conduct.
Mr. Panetta is a capable administrator and experienced political operative, but he's the wrong man to lead the CIA at this critical juncture. His nomination also reflects badly on President-elect Barack Obama and his transition team. Most of his national security team was announced last month. Delaying the CIA announcement until the New Year suggests that the appointment was something of an afterthought, or that the job was rejected by more qualified candidates.
Obviously, the job of CIA Director doesn't carry the power it once did. The agency chief now works for the Director of National Intelligence, who oversees the functions of 16 organizations that form our intel system. But in a community of "equals" some agencies are more important than others, and the Central Intelligence Agency clearly falls in that former category.
The next CIA chief faces three herculean challenges: keeping the agency fully engaged in the war on terror; reigning in political elements that want to dictate U.S. policy, and avoiding another intelligence debacle like the one that preceded the 9-11 attacks. It's a tall order for any director, but those tasks are made more difficult by today's economic uncertainly, which may result in budget cutbacks for the intelligence community.
As a former OMB Director, Mr. Panetta is a veteran of federal budget wars. But even if he preserves the CIA's share of the intel pie, there is no evidence that he has the background or expertise to employ those assets in the most effective manner. Just one more reason that the Panetta nomination is so disappointing--and potentially dangerous.
ADDENDUM: Mr. Obama is entitled to the CIA Director of his choice. But the selection of Leon Panetta is a reflection of the next commander-in-chief and his own, limited intelligence experience. A few weeks ago, the president-elect named retired Navy Admiral Dennis Blair as the new Director of National Intelligence. Like Mr. Panetta, Admiral Blair has a long resume as a leader and administrator. But in terms of intel, his only experience is as a consumer.
The big-picture view is even more disturbing. President-elect Obama, a man who is decidedly short on national security experience, has appointed a pair of neophytes to fill our most important intelligence positions. Those men, in turn, are supposed to advise him on the most critical (and sensitive) intel and national security issues. That planned "arrangement" doesn't exactly inspire confidence.
And, for what it's worth, California Senator Diane Feinstein, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, isn't exactly pleased with the Panetta nomination.
Others have suggested that Panetta may be a sop to liberal bloggers and activists who torpedoed John Brennan, the CIA veteran said to be Mr. Obama's first choice to run the agency. Brennan was unacceptable to those elements of the Obama coalition because of his support for the "forceful" interrogation of suspected terrorists.
If Panetta is a peace offering to the moon-bat brigade, it's all the more reason to oppose his confirmation as CIA Director.