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10251  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 13, 2008, 03:18:41 PM
http://www.fbi.gov/publications/leb/2003/nov2003/nov03leb.htm

Data Mining and Value-Added Analysis

By COLLEEN McCUE, Ph.D., EMILY S. STONE, M.S.W., and TERESA P. GOOCH, M.S.

We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.

—John Naisbitt

     Law enforcement agencies, particularly in view of the current emphasis on terrorism, increasingly face the challenge of sorting through large amounts of information needed to help them make informed decisions and successfully fulfill their missions. At the same time, resources, particularly personnel, often dwindle. Described by one agency as the “volume challenge,”1 local, state, and federal agencies alike all struggle with an ever-increasing amount of information that far exceeds their ability to effectively analyze it in a timely fashion.

     However, while these issues have surfaced, an extremely powerful tool has emerged from the business community. This tool, used by mortgage brokers to determine credit risk, local supermarkets to ascertain how to strategically stock their shelves, and Internet retailers to facilitate sales, also can benefit law enforcement personnel. Commonly known as data mining, this powerful tool can help investigators to effectively and efficiently perform such tasks as the analysis of crime and intelligence data.2 Fortunately, because of recent developments in data mining, they do not have to possess technical proficiency to use this tool, only expertise in their respective subject matter.

 



Dr. McCue is the program manager for the Crime Analysis Unit of the Richmond, Virginia, Police Department and holds faculty appointments at Virginia Commonwealth University.



Lieutenant Colonel Gooch serves as assistant chief of the Richmond, Virginia, Police Department.

Ms. Stone served as a crime analyst with the Richmond, Virginia, Police Department.

 

 

WHAT IS DATA MINING?

     Data mining serves as an automated tool that uses multiple advanced computational techniques, including artificial intelligence (the use of computers to perform logical functions), to fully explore and characterize large data sets involving one or more data sources, identifying significant, recognizable patterns, trends, and relationships not easily detected through traditional analytical techniques alone.3 This information then may help with various purposes, such as the prediction of future events or behaviors.

     Domain experts, or those with expertise in their respective fields, must determine if information obtained through data mining holds value. For example, a strong relationship between the time of day and a series of robberies would prove valuable to a law enforcement officer with expertise in the investigation pertaining to this information. On the other hand, if investigators, while reviewing historical homicide data, noticed that victims normally possessed lip balm, they would not, of course, associate lip balm or chapped lips with an increased risk for death.

WHY USE DATA MINING IN LAW ENFORCEMENT?

     The staggering increase in the volume of information now flooding into the law enforcement community requires the use of more advanced analytical methods. Because data-mining software now proves user-friendly, personal-computer based, and, thus, affordable, law enforcement agencies at all levels can use it to help effectively handle this increased flow of data.

     The law enforcement community can use data mining to effectively analyze information contained in many large data sets, even those involving written narratives (which represent a great deal of valuable law enforcement information). These may include calls for service data, crime or incident reports, witness statements, suspect interviews, tip information, telephone toll analysis, or Internet activity—almost any information that law enforcement professionals encounter in the course of their work.4

     Not only can these data sets differ by type but they can originate from different sources,5 potentially giving law enforcement agencies both a more complete informational base from which to draw conclusions and the ability to identify related information in separate databases or investigations. For example, this may prove valuable in the area of illegal narcotics enforcement. The law enforcement community frequently gathers information regarding markets, trends, and patterns, while medical and social services personnel store information concerning substance use and abuse on the individual level. In instances where appropriate, the opportunity to combine these data resources can give investigators a more complete picture and can help address various narcotics problems more rapidly, potentially saving both lives and resources.

     Law enforcement agencies can consider exploring the use of data-mining applications to assist them in a variety of areas. Some examples include tactical crime analysis, deployment, risk assessment, behavioral analysis, DNA analysis, homeland security, and Internet/infrastructure protection.

Tactical Crime Analysis

     Data mining offers law enforcement agencies potential benefits in the area of tactical crime analysis. For example, because agencies can use data mining for such purposes as to more quickly and effectively identify relationships and similarities between crimes and to forecast future events based on historical behavioral patterns, they can develop investigative leads and effective action plans more rapidly.6 Major case investigations, which frequently present not only large volumes of information but also demands for rapid case resolution, serve as good examples of how law enforcement agencies can benefit from data mining in this regard.

Deployment

     Law enforcement agencies can use data-mining technology to help them deploy their resources, including personnel, more effectively and proactively. For instance, data mining can help them identify such key elements in a case or series of events as patterns of time and location—by forecasting future events based on this historical data, agencies potentially could anticipate strategic locations for deployment.

     Data mining also allows agencies to consider multiple variables at one time and to add more weight to those considered most important to the decision at hand. For example, patrol officers, who generally respond to incidents with quick turnaround rates, may answer to numerous calls for service and effect many arrests in a relatively short amount of time. On the other hand, death investigations can require multiple officers’ entire shifts just to maintain the crime scene perimeter; as a result, homicide investigators generally may handle considerably fewer incidents and arrests. To this end, by weighing heavily such factors as the type and duration of these incidents, law enforcement agencies can develop effective deployment strategies.

     By using data mining, law enforcement personnel, for purposes of analysis, also can link incidents, crimes, or changes in crime trends to other types of events in making deployment decisions. For example, an agency historically may have noticed relationships between major weather events, such as snowstorms or hurricanes, and decreases in street crimes. Also, they may have seen how the arrests of key players in organized crime or drug distribution rings seem to result in increased violence as informants are sought and identified and as new leaders emerge during reorganization. As another example, they may associate increased apprehension rates and a strong economy with decreases in property crimes.7 By using data mining to consider such relationships, law enforcement agencies then can deploy their personnel as they deem necessary.

Risk Assessment

     Much like lenders and credit companies use data mining to great effect in assessing the financial gamble involved with lending money or extending credit to individuals or groups, law enforcement agencies can use it to characterize the risk involved in various incidents. For example, agency personnel can explore the use of data mining to identify common characteristics of armed robberies that ended in assaults; doing so then can help identify those that may escalate into assaults in the future. Similarly, in the past, certain types of property crimes have proven related to subsequent stranger rapes.8 The ability to characterize property crimes as similar to those previously associated with subsequent sexual assaults can alert investigators to focus on certain cases and develop effective action plans, perhaps preventing many similar situations from occurring in the future.



 

Behavioral Analysis

     The behavioral analysis of violent crime represents another area with significant potential for data mining. For instance, law enforcement agencies can use data mining to identify common behavioral characteristics in different cases. Even when not identifying a specific offender, investigators may find it possible to gain some insight into what type of offender may prove related to a particular incident. Research in this area, for example, has resulted in the use of data mining to efficiently link serious cases based on behaviors.9

DNA Analysis
Law enforcement agencies also can benefit from the use of data mining when examining DNA evidence. For example, when DNA links a new suspect to an old case, investigators logically may wonder what other cases the suspect may be linked to. Given the amount of information involved, law enforcement personnel can find it virtually impossible to efficiently and completely search old case files each time they identify a new suspect. To this end, compiling DNA information into a searchable database gives law enforcement agencies a powerful tool to help identify, and potentially close, additional linked cases.

Homeland Security

     Processing and gaining meaningful insight from the staggering amount of data critical to homeland security has proven difficult.10 Law enforcement agencies can use data mining to help them face this challenge.

     For instance, investigators would like to anticipate, and thereby prevent, acts of terrorism. By using data mining to identify relevant historical patterns, trends, and relationships involving terrorists, they could accomplish this objective more effectively.

     Also, because data mining allows law enforcement agencies to evaluate information in varied formats and from various databases and agencies, it can enable them to effectively and efficiently analyze a wide range of information that potentially could shed light on terrorist activity. For example, by analyzing information from multiple health-related data sources, law enforcement agencies could recognize significant patterns of illness that may indicate bioterrorism activity or the use of other weapons of mass destruction.11 Agencies also can use this capability to associate general crimes with terrorist activity by linking them with additional intelligence—recent information suggesting links between cigarette smuggling and terrorist financing12 serves as a valid example.

Internet/Infrastructure Protection

     The law enforcement community may find that the capability of data mining in characterizing and monitoring normal activity, as well as identifying irregular or suspicious activity, proves applicable in the area of Internet and infrastructure protection. For example, the recognition of suspicious patterns of Web site activity not only can help in the area of traditional intrusion protection but also can serve as an important warning about the release of information. The FBI’s National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) recently underscored the importance of reviewing all Internet materials currently available, as well as those considered for release, for potential threats to critical infrastructure and homeland security.13 This warning comes as many municipal Web sites are receiving suspicious activity and interest.14 This information particularly includes that which, either on its own merits or in combination with other open-source materials, may prove useful to entities with malicious intent.

CONCLUSION

     Law enforcement agencies face an ever-increasing flood of information that threatens to overwhelm them; this will require a change in how they process and analyze data. Data-mining technology represents a powerful, user-friendly, and accessible new tool that agencies can use to help them in facing this challenge as they seek to fulfill their missions—ultimately, to ensure the safety and welfare of the public.

Endnotes

     1 Tabassum Zakaria, “CIA Turns to Data Mining”; retrieved on April 10, 2003, from http://www.parallaxresearch.com/ news/2001/0309/cia_turns_to.html.

     2 The authors based this article largely on their experience with and research on the subject of data mining.

     3 Bruce Moxon, “Defining Data Mining”; retrieved on April 10, 2003, from http://www.dbmsmag.com/9608d53.html.

     4 Law enforcement agencies must address appropriate constitutional and legal concerns if using public source data for law enforcement purposes.

     5 Law enforcement agencies, when collecting information from different sources, must decide how they will address the issue of cleaning the data, or preparing data for data-mining activities.

     6 Donald Brown, “The Regional Crime Analysis Program (RECAP): A Framework for Mining Data to Catch Criminals”; retrieved on April 10, 2003, from http:// vijis.sys.virginia.edu/publication/ RECAP.pdf.

     7 Ayse Imrohoroglu, Anthony Merlo, and Peter Rupert, “What Accounts for the Decline in Crime?”; retrieved on April 10, 2003, from http://www.clev.frb.org/Research/workpaper/2000/wp0008.pdf.

     8 Colleen McCue, Georgia Smith, Robyn Diehl, Deanne Dabbs, James McDonough, and Paul Ferrara, “Why DNA Databases Should Include All Felons,” Police Chief, October 2001, 94-100.

     9 Richard Adderley and Peter Musgrove, “Data Mining Case Study: Modelling the Behaviour of Offenders Who Commit Serious Sexual Assaults,” in Proceedings of the Seventh Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Knowledge Discovery in Data (SIGKDD) International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining Held in San Francisco 26-29 August 2001, (New York NY: ACM Press, 2001), 215-220.

     10 Supra note 1; and Eric Chabrow, “The FBI Must Overhaul Its IT Infrastructure to Fulfill a New Mandate of Fighting Terrorism, Cyberattacks”; retrieved on April 10, 2003, from http://www. informationweek.com/story/ IWK20020602S0004; and Walter Pincus and Dana Priest, “NSA Intercepts on Eve of 9/11 Sent Warning”; retrieved on April 10, 2003, from http://www.secretpolicy. com/archives/00000073.html.

     11 Steve Bunk, “Early Warning: U.S. Scientists Counter Bioterrorism with New Electronic Sentinel Systems”; retrieved on April 10, 2003, from http://www.scenpro. com/press%2009%20leaders.html.

     12 Paul Nowell, “Hezbollah in North Carolina?”; retrieved on April 10, 2003, from http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/ us/dailynews/hezbollah010328.html.

     13 National Center for Infrastructure Protection (NIPC), Highlights, Issue 11- 01, December 7, 2001; retrieved on April 10, 2003, from http://www.nipc.gov/ publications/highlights/2001/highlight-01-11.htm.

     14 Barton Gellman, “Cyber-Attacks by Al Qaeda Feared”; retrieved on April 10, 2003, from http://www.washingtonpost. com/wp-dyn/articles/A50765-2002 Jun26.html.
10252  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 13, 2008, 03:04:29 PM
http://www.officer.com/print/Law-Enforcement-Technology/Dig-Into-Data-Mining/1$35698

Dig Into Data Mining
Enhanced analysis can help law enforcement be more proactive


From the March 2007 Issue

By Rebecca Kanable

What's your favorite brand of toilet paper? How about deodorant?

Some stores, especially online retailers, don't have to ask. They already have the answers they're looking for, helping them sell more products. They know what you buy, in what amount, at what price, how you pay, and when you are most likely to come back to restock your supplies.

Moreover, they know who you are, the best ways to deliver advertising to you, and they know what else you are likely to buy at the same time you buy toilet paper or deodorant.

While the specific examples above may not cause envy among law enforcement, the fact that retailers have better analytical capacities than most law enforcement agencies should.

This fact frustrates Colleen "Kelly" McCue, a senior research scientist at RTI International, a non-profit research institute.

"In law enforcement, if you do your analysis wrong, you can compromise public safety," she says.

Before joining RTI International, McCue was program manager for the Richmond (Virginia) Police Department Crime Analysis Unit, where she pioneered the use of data mining and predictive analysis.

Data mining, also referred to as predictive analytics (or analysis), sense making or knowledge discovery, involves the systematic analysis of large data sets using automated methods, she explains. Wanting to help the enforcement community learn more about data mining, she wrote "Data Mining and Predictive Analysis."

McCue is hopeful data mining will become more widespread in law enforcement, because she says it is within the grasp of agencies of all sizes and at all levels. In fact, she says agencies are already data mining to some extent in investigations (determining motive is one example), but they also can use data mining to predict and prevent criminal acts.

A big emphasis today is being placed on counting crime, counting what happened, she says.

"One of the things data mining and predictive analytics allows us to do is move from counting crime to anticipating, preventing and perhaps responding more effectively to it," she says. "We can focus on what we consider to be an effective use of our information and how we want to manage our resources and fight crime. If it is counting crime, that's great. But we know criminal behavior tends to be relatively predictable. By exploiting the data, we can be much more proactive in anticipating and preventing crime than we are now."

The importance of analysis
Data which means nothing to one case could solve another.

"All law enforcement data is very important," says Steve McCraw, director of homeland security in Texas. "A parking ticket, for example, could be a valuable lead in a conspiracy investigation being worked on a series of robberies."

Overall, law enforcement has become very good at collecting and compiling data, especially since the advent of computerized records management systems. Regional sharing initiatives and state-level fusion centers add to the data that individual agencies can tap into. And, national law enforcement data sharing standards help make this possible.

While information sharing initiatives certainly are beneficial, McCue says "don't stop there." Once data is collected in a meaningful fashion, the next step is analysis, she notes.

Unfortunately, McCue adds, the importance of analysis is not a universal understanding today.

Yet, she says the process of analyzing the data is important to:

confirm what you already know and,
discover new information or relationships in data (knowledge discovery).
Jay Albanese, graduate director of criminal justice at Virginia Commonwealth University, says police need information more than ever before and it is increasingly difficult to obtain.

The point at which police solve major crimes has been dropping nationwide over the past 10 to 15 years, he says. One reason is there are more complicated crimes, affiliated with terrorists, organized crime or ethnic minorities, where language can be a barrier.

Data mining technology
Once the value of analysis is understood, McCraw says the question is "How do you sift through the data and find the key elements that can help prevent an act of terrorism or crime?"

Law enforcement chiefs, sheriffs and other managers want to work smarter, cheaper and faster, says McCraw, former FBI assistant director of The Office of Intelligence.

"The way to do that is to do what the private industry has done and take advantage of the tremendous gains in information technology," he says, noting law enforcement should adopt the National Information Exchange Model for its records management systems.

"You want to be able to empower your personnel with the ability to find points of information they previously couldn't — and to find the links, the associations between data sets. That's very powerful."

Timely information also is key.

"You want to be able to exploit the data in your files as quickly as possible," he adds.

If it takes a week to show a supervisor the crimes that took place in one night, it's dated; it's not as useful as showing a supervisor last night's crimes, says Albanese, former chief of The International Center for the National Institute of Justice.

"The longer the time lag between the incident and being able to get it into a useable form, the less useful it is," he says, noting reports should be electronically entered (not handwritten) so data can be included in analysis and acted on quickly.

Using an analytical overlay or filter with remote data entry, an investigator could enter relevant information while at a crime scene and receive a rapid analytical response, McCue says.

Specialized databases can be created for crime or intelligence analysis. These databases might be offense-specific, such as a homicide or robbery database, or associated with a pattern of crimes. Records management databases generally were not made for analysis. Rather, McCue says they were created for case management and general crime counting.

Unfortunately, analytical software is not inexpensive and software specifically for data mining and predictive analytics falls into the high end of the price range, McCue points out. Agencies sharing information could benefit from pooling their financial resources for data analysis. Predictive analytics requires specialized software. Other data mining can be done without sophisticated software, but, she adds, "the software really helps."

Link analysis tools, used to identify relationships in data, such as telephone calls, can be an economical point of entry into data mining, she suggests.

Natural data miners
With today's friendly, commercial-off-the-shelf software packages, McCue believes most agencies are capable of analyzing their own data.

In fact, she says investigators and crime analysts are natural data miners. Based on her experience, she says it's far easier to teach them how to use data mining tools and apply them to law enforcement than it is to teach statisticians how to work in law enforcement.

For those somewhat afraid of numbers and run an incalculable distance at the mention of "statistics," McCue offers comfort: "Data mining is an intuitive process. It's not statistics."

What is important is knowing:

what questions you want to answer,
what you need to analyze the data and
what you need the output to look like.
There also are rules of the road to avoid errors in analysis, but McCue reassures they're not very difficult.

"I think it's incredibly important that law enforcement agencies get over the fear and trepidation and technophobia or whatever they might have, and analyze their own data," McCue says. "Particularly in a specific department or region, agencies are going to have the tacit knowledge and domain expertise, and understand their data better than anyone else. I can't go in and learn a community to the depth they already know. They are going to have that domain or subject matter expertise on their community and department that's going to be necessary to evaluate the results and operationalize them effectively."

Albanese points out the New York City Police Department's CompStat, now used by a number of other agencies, is essentially an exercise in data mining. "It's looking more carefully, more systematically at the information police are already collecting," he says. "It's looking at reported crimes and different areas of the city, plotting them on maps, looking at trends, looking at the allocation of police around the city, looking for hotspots."

Law enforcement also can use data mining to marshal support of the community to assist in crime prevention. Armed with data about trends and patterns, police can turn to businesses, school groups and others, and show where help is needed.

"If a lot of theft activity is taking place near a mall, it only makes sense the shopping mall share responsibility for the efforts to prevent crime there," he says.

Long-term, he says, "We want to prevent crime, and crime prevention is really everybody's responsibility."

Addressing critics
Police managers who understand data mining can in turn educate the public about data mining and its benefits, as well as address critics.

"Police managers, command staff and public officials always need to be sensitive to public perceptions about how they do business," McCue says. "There's a move toward transparent government. People want to know how we do things, how we analyze data, what data we're looking at."

Working with the city council, legislators or an agency's oversight group is important when technology is upgraded, McCraw says, because it helps alleviate presumptions and misinformation.

Data mining is not an abusive technique to spy on citizens, says McCraw, who testified before Congress on the subject during his tenure with the FBI.

"It's using information technology to locate the information that you need among data you already have," he emphasizes.

Data mining is an analytical process. "The same rules that have always applied to legally permissible means of accessing data are always going to apply," McCue says.

Other criticisms of data mining are that it doesn't work and wastes resources.

"I think they are absolutely wrong," she adds. "We found it does work. When data mining is done by someone who knows data mining, and understands the limitations of law enforcement data and the analytical outcomes sought — or works with someone who does — data mining reduces errors."

While with the Richmond PD, McCue used data mining to reduce gunfire complaints by almost 50 percent on New Year's Eve 2003 and increase the number of illegal weapons seized by 246 percent from the previous year, while using fewer officers.

Some data mining is more difficult than others. Very infrequent events are difficult to model.

"That is where I think it becomes really important law enforcement personnel do the analysis themselves or participate very actively in the analysis," she says.

Despite the fact that measures are taken to reduce errors, errors happen, as they do with anything.

McCue uses a medical analogy to remind that not all errors in law enforcement are equal.

As long as a disease is identified effectively, screening tools are allowed a certain number of errors, or false positives. Yet, there are other situations in which there is no room for error. If someone who is ill is given a wrong antibiotic, an illness might not only not be cured, it could worsen.

Again, people doing data mining must work closely with people who understand law enforcement and criminal behavior so they can make informed decisions about the nature of the errors, which errors are acceptable and which are not, she says.

"Maybe if you put officers in the wrong location, they spend a night in the cold," she says. "That's not necessarily a big deal."

But, she says if you're using data mining to determine motive and you make an error, the danger associated with misdirecting resources can cause a crime to remain unsolved.

In her book, McCue gives the example of creating a model that's 97-percent accurate by always predicting crime will not take place in a certain low crime area. That is unacceptable, she says.

"Getting inside the nature of the errors and making informed decisions is key," she says.

Predicting the need for predictive analysis
Once law enforcement starts looking at data mining, they realize in many ways, they're already doing it, she says.

Determining motive in violent crimes is one example she gives: "It's setting up decision trees: Was the victim at high risk or was the victim not at high risk? Was the victim killed in the location she or he was found, or was the victim moved? Was it a crime of opportunity?"

McCue encourages capturing and extending some of the natural data mining that's already occurring and then bringing in additional law enforcement-specific tools. While more can be done today, even more will be needed tomorrow.

"The population of the United States is at an all-time high, so the volume of crime is going to rise as population increases," Albanese says. "As the population gets more diverse, solving crimes is going to get more and more difficult. Police need all the potential tools they can find, and I think data mining is a very useful tool."

McCraw asks, "How can you not be excited about being able to identify seemingly unidentifiable points that will enable you to prevent acts of terrorism or crime or even solve crimes?"

Considerations for educated law enforcement consumers
When given the go-ahead to invest dollars in data mining, author Colleen McCue warns command staff and analysts not to get caught up in marketing messages, but to evaluate products and services, and select only those that are truly helpful.

"Repeatedly, I've seen people go out and purchase very expensive tools or services, and get half-way through and realize they've bought a marketing slogan," she says. "They didn't really buy anything with substance that's going to help them.

"They end up with products that they either need to replace or they can't use; or services that have them make costly mistakes. In public safety analysis, if we make an error, people can die because of it."

She says informed law enforcement consumers must ask vendors questions, such as:

How do you evaluate accuracy?
How do you evaluate your models?
How are you going to aggregate my data?
How do you handle duplication?
"There are some incredibly powerful tools which can create incredibly complex and accurate models," she says. "That's not necessarily the best fit for every agency. There are things that you can do just by making a decision to exploit your data in a different way and look at it differently. With education, you can go in and start probing the data and exploring it."
10253  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 12, 2008, 10:24:15 PM
What's the difference between Palin and any other elected official in this?
10254  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 12, 2008, 07:21:14 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2008/09/09/new-palin-scandal-she-billed-the-state-for-stuff-she-was-allowed-to-bill/

Scandal!  shocked
10255  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 12, 2008, 06:21:25 PM
Be safe. I'll expect something really well thought out when you get a chance to post.  grin
10256  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 12, 2008, 05:43:37 PM
The president, whomever he or she may be, has a USSS protective detail that is quite expensive surrounding them at all times, as well as other personnel, such as the military officer with the "football". They can't take the day off when the president goes to religious services.
10257  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 12, 2008, 10:14:19 AM
So elected officials can't attend religious services? Will Obama have to cancel his official blessing by Louis Farrakhan then?
10258  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 12, 2008, 10:11:50 AM
Report:
121008-255

Location: SCG HQ

Situation: Election drawing close, Obama still an enigma

Date: Sunday, 12 OCT 2008
 
SCG International is a non-partisan organization providing private intelligence, security and training services.
 
We seem on the verge of putting into the Oval Office a man who, less than a month before the election, remains an enigma.
Is he, despite having the most liberal voting record in the Senate, the moderate politician he presents himself as in the debates and on the stump? Or is he, if not a leftist radical himself, someone perfectly comfortable in the company of such?
 
If the latter, has he been not just misleading, but lying about his past? If so, what else has he been lying about, and what other lies might he tell us if elected?
 
We went through a presidency with many unsavory associations, and serial fabrications about them, in the 1990s. Do we want to repeat the experience?
 
Lessons Learned
 
In 1992, the Democrat's presidential nominee had a long history of questionable acquaintances, shady real estate deals, and multiple infidelities to both his wife and many of his political associates.
 
He also had a long-standing abusive relationship with the truth, which had earned him the sobriquet in Arkansas of "Slick Willy."
 
While not every charge flung at him was true, many were. He truly was the most corrupt president since Warren Harding (in fact, there are a number of other eerie similarities between the two presidents), and perhaps in U.S. history.
 
That came as no surprise to those who had observed him as attorney general and governor of Arkansas.
 
The Whitewater problems were no secret before the 1992 election, nor were his dalliances, except to most of the public. The local press in Arkansas was quite familiar with this history, but the national media refused to either investigate or report it, instead going so far as to famously whitewash his marital problems on 60 Minutes.
 
While many of Clinton's scandals were for things that occurred during his administration, his Arkansas record should have been adequate to keep him out of national office, had it been known.
 
By cocooning him from the voting public, the media managed to get him into the White House, only to have all the old scandals revealed, and new ones created, after he became president.
 
The tragic thing about the Clinton presidency is that it didn't have to happen, and we could have been spared all of the scandals, including Lewinsky, had there been proper coverage and investigation of him before the election.
 
In fact, the media could have even gotten a different Democrat president, had they simply aired Clinton's dirty laundry during the primaries. It was, after all, a Democrat year, particularly with Ross Perot in the mix to siphon off votes from George H.W. Bush.
 
But they fell in love with Bill Clinton and, as we all know, love is blind. The problem, of course, is that when the major media wear blinders, the rest of us don't get the view. That was particularly the case in 1992 when the web had just been invented and the only people using the Internet were nerds.
 
Well, now the media have found a new paramour with a checkered past, and they (with a few exceptions) are once again lovingly carrying (or at least attempting to carry) the non-blushing bride across the electoral threshold.
 
Just as few bothered to go to Little Rock in 1992, the media haven't been able to spare any reporters from their vital duties in checking library records in Wasilla, Alaska, to take a trip to Hyde Park to see just what this new candidate is and was about.
 
Fortunately, this time there are a few individuals who have been doing so, and unlike 1992, they have their own printing presses, in the form of blogs and web publications. What they've found is potentially disturbing, and certainly information that the voting public should have a right to know before it buys another pig in a poke.
 
There is a disturbing pattern to revelations of Senator Obama's unsavory associations. Whenever one is uncovered, it is minimized both by denying the depth of the relationship, and by denying that there is anything wrong with the associate and this campaign spin is unfailingly reported by the media.
 
Let's examine a few of them.
First there was Tony Rezko, a now-convicted felon (and under investigation at the time) who helped the Obamas purchase their home in Chicago on strangely favorable terms. When confronted about it, Senator Obama told us that it "wasn't the Tony Rezko I knew."

Next came Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Barack and Michelle Obama were members of his congregation for two decades, sat in the pews on Sunday, were married by him, had their children baptized by him, were spiritually advised by him. The title of Senator Obama's self-aggrandizing book was taken from one of his sermons. Yet they professed surprise when his repeated bigoted and anti-American ravings were aired last spring, and then said that this was normal for an African-American church. He asks us to believe that he was unaware of his long-time pastor's inflammatory rhetoric.

Now, with the left-wing social activist organization ACORN in the news because its Nevada office was raided in an investigation of voter fraud, Senator Obama, who has been a trainer and legal counsel for the organization, is denying his relationship with it. Of course, there are other reasons to not want to be associated with it, given it (and his) at least partial responsibility for the current financial crisis. But there's abundant evidence to the contrary.
 
Now that the McCain campaign is exposing his long-standing relationship with terrorist Bill Ayers, former Weatherman and domestic terrorist (not to mention his wife Bernardine Dohrn, a founder of that group), the Obama campaign responds by saying that the bombings were something that happened when he was eight years old.
 
As if that's a defense of a close association with someone who has never expressed regret for his actions, and who remains unrepentant and defiant about it. Then they deny the relationship, claiming that he was "just a guy in my neighborhood."
 
Well, with all of the Rezkos, Wrights, Ayers and Dohrns, it's starting to look like a pretty rough neighborhood. Perhaps he should consider moving.
 
Except the denials don't hold up.
 
Senator Obama has claimed that the fact that his initial campaign kickoff for a State Senate seat in 1996 was hosted at the home of Ayers and Dohrn was just a happenstance - that they had nothing to do with his career. But this week, that fact was exposed as a lie.
 
When people tried to investigate their relationship in the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, in which hundreds of millions was spent to radicalize schoolchildren while contributing nothing to their actual education, the University of Illinois attempted to prevent access to the relevant history.
 
At whose behest? If it was the Obama campaign behind the scenes, it wouldn't be inconsistent with their recent attempts to shut down free speech in Missouri.
 
The latest revelation is that Senator Obama was a member of the leftist "New Party," an offshoot of Democratic Socialists of America. If history is a guide, he'll deny it, despite the evidence (an unsuccessful attempt has been made to scrub all references to Obama from the website). Or else simply say "Hey, we could use a little socialism now, given the state of the economy."
 
Given this history, it is long past the time that Senator Obama should be given the benefit of the doubt.
 
At this point, the question should be: why should we believe anything that he or his campaign tells us?
 
Leave aside the ideological question of whether or not we want someone with such an apparent radical leftist history running the country. Is this kind of spin and prevarication that we want to deal with for the next four years?

Contact SCG at info@scginternational.com for more information.
10259  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 12, 2008, 10:07:45 AM
So aside from un-inventing the computer, the internet and youtube, what are your policy solutions?
10260  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 11, 2008, 10:34:54 PM
Quote
A couple points, however. The synopsis and original piece point out problems with data mining that remain undiscussed. We do get to point out problems with law enforcement techniques and discuss them, right? Examination of issues and intelligent discussion thereof is more likely to lead to a resolution than blind adherence to the party line, so pardon me if I don't stand mute lest I be blamed for the next smoking hole.

**An informed discussion would be nice, however what usually happens is that any use of technology for law enforcement purposes means we are but minutes away from a dystopian police state.**

I suppose. It also appears you can’t post empiric data about the problems associated with data mining without being minutes away from other sorts of circular discussions, too.

****Again, what are the problems? It's not a silver bullet for finding terrorists? It's just kind of scary in an undefined way?****

Quote
Speaking of which, the smoking hole or unfettered access damn the constitutional issues dichotomy strikes me as a false one. I've little doubt that there is an intersection at which security imperatives and founding principles can both be serviced. Citing one extreme to excuse the other does a great job of representing the margins, but does little to find the ground where the hole is avoided and the Constitution isn't shredded.

**How exactly does datamining shred the constitution?**

I expect any shredding that is currently being done is pretty well concealed, and hence can’t speak to it.

****So it's bad, just in a way you can't quite describe?****

I do recall the hubbub when Judge Bork’s video rental records were obtained by the press.

****The press, not the police.****

As someone who’s had his internet postings come back to bite him on other fronts, I am concerned about misuse of mined information.

****If you put things out into the public forums, it becomes PUBLIC.****

If you’re unable to see how, say, protections against illegal search and seizure may be subverted by data mining, I’m not sure anything I say can drive the point home.

****Yeah, I don't see how sorting through voluntarily supplied information violates any constitutional protection. I have yet to see anyone here explain how it does.****

Quote
Finally, as I've pointed out several times, the powers we're discussing are ones mullahs can only dream about. You can't imagine these capabilities being misused?

**Anything can be misused. There have been bad police shootings, and there will be more in the future. Is the answer to then disarm the police? Iatrogenic disease is a concern, but the answer isn't banning medical science, right?**

Not seeking to ban police work or medical research. Have no problem creating checks against bad police work and bad medical research, however. I can identify checks meant to prevent bad meds and bad shootings; I can’t ID checks against extra-legal use of mined data. Perhaps you know of some?

****Again, how does datamining violate any constitutional protections?****

Quote
You can't imagine someone with autocratic leanings winning an election, defining people who own guns and discuss politics on a militant martial arts web site to be security threats, and using the power of collection and collation to build a case against those who, quite coincidently, of course, don't agree with his politics?

**What laws are violated? Who brings this before what court? What jury would find that a crime was committed?**

I expect those were the sorts of questions that went through Randy Weaver’s mind. . . .



****I don't see how Randy Weaver applies to this. He was a fringe associate of the Aryan Nations that was charged with violations of federal firearms laws and rather to going to court he hid behind his family, forcing a confrontation with federal law enforcement. No datamining was involved.****
10261  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 11, 2008, 09:54:39 PM
"If you are really concerned about it, i'd suggest that you go "off the grid" as much as possible."

Mmmm, , , No thank you.  I am American and I don't shut up for fear of the government.  I simply would rather not to have to have courage to speak out or read about odd things.  Nor should people who wish to get involved a lot more than me have to worry about a State capable of playing a level of the politics of personal destruction for beyond anything we've seen.

PS:  I would like to offer for your consideration that overal I think Buz and I have a pretty good track record around here of lucid reasoning, so I am left wondering at the relevance of general references to wooly headed liberal thinking.

So then what policy or law do you want that will address your concerns?
10262  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 11, 2008, 03:44:25 PM
How much US taxpayer money was used when the Clintons attended church services? Was any tax money spent when Bill was being ministered to by Jesse Jackson post-Lewinski ?
10263  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Unrestricted Warfare-econowar? on: October 11, 2008, 09:54:36 AM
OCTOBER 10, 2008

OPEC War against America’s Economic Independence?
By Walid Phares

According to economic analysis the severe financial crisis ravaging the US and hitting the international community on all continents has its economic roots in two major realms: One was the overbearing political pressure put on Wall Street to release loans into unprepared sectors of society and two, was the miscalculation -some say the drunkenness- of Wall Street in accepting these immense risks. But according to Political Economy assessment, there may have been a third player in the crisis: OPEC, or more precisely, radical circles within Oil Producing regimes in the Peninsula. The thesis argue that combined Salafist-Wahabi and Muslim Brotherhood circles in the Gulf -with consent from the Iranian side on this particular issue, used the escalating pricing of Oil over the past year to push the financial crisis in the US over the cliff. The “high point” in this analysis is the timing between the skyrocketing of the prices at the pumps and the widening of the real estate crisis. In short the “Oil-push” put the market out of balance hitting back at Wall Street. Basically, there was certainly a crisis in mismanagement domestically (with its two above mentioned roots), but the possible OPEC economic “offensive” crumbled the defenses of US economy in few months.

The link between this analysis and our counter terrorism interests is dual. One, if the forthcoming investigation will demonstrate that there was a war room manipulated by the “radicals” within OPEC striking at US and Western economies, we would be witnessing the rise of the concept of “economic terrorism.” Two, and as the forthcoming investigation is progressing, a re-reading of al Qaeda and other Jihadi literature, speeches and statements about the Silah al Naft (Weapon of Oil) and more particularly the calls by Ayman Zawahiri on “selling US dollars and buying Gold, ahead of American economic collapse” seems to be necessary. Zawahiri’s statements most likely aren’t coordinated with the OPEC “hard core” push but his knowledge of the “push” is more than likely because of his ties to the Wahabi-Salafi circles inside the Kingdom. Moreover, such a finding would shed light on the analysis of commentary on the web and on Satellite media about "the necessity for Americans to feel the pain of economic pressures, to put political pressures on their Government to change course in the region."

I am posting here two pieces on the subject.

Is There A Foreign Force Waging War Against the US Economy? (Part One)

Dr. Walid Phares

In the fog of economic mayhem ravaging American and international economies, experts are having a hard time determining the root causes of the current financial crisis. One parameter is established: The Ground Zero of this economic fear is located in Wall Street, a few blocks away from the other Ground Zero, where al Qaeda destroyed the World Trade Center and massacred thousands of Americans and other nationals.

While we know who caused the destruction of the twin towers and why they did it, the question of who is causing the crumbling of the world economy, starting with America, and why, remains unanswered. It will take probably years and the best economists to investigate the web that led to the most dangerous crisis in international finance since the late 1920s. But to political economists and international relations analysts, there are some leads to explore while pure economists are proceeding with only their reconstruction of the crisis.

The latter may not ever reach definitive conclusions, and for political reasons. Too many strategic interests are at stake in the convulsions we are witnessing. From a stratospheric view, we see a US economy bleeding intensely; and as its government, in the midst of an electoral transition, is trying to administer some financial medicine, we can see that serious illnesses are breaking out in several economies around the world. The international community is waking up to watch another dimension of globalization: the lethal domino effect. When the greatest economy goes down, the international economic system follows.

But strategic analysts cannot avoid asking the following questions: Was the crisis system-induced or was it provoked or at least helped to spread? The main answer is found in the American genesis of the collapse. In sum, experts say, a huge mismanagement by both Wall Street and Washington ended up flooding Main Street with loans impossible to pay back. The mechanisms of the problem seem to be simple: American bankers and lenders messed up. They overestimated the ability of the markets to absorb these monies destined to help small consumers to leap into a higher social level, and to return their loans on time. And since millions of real estate buyers weren’t actually able to afford what they bought, the financial tidal wave hit back at the banking institutions, crumbling them. And as the financial giants were falling on Wall Street, a Tsunami was unleashed on all continents, hitting monetary institutions from Tokyo to London. This equation - in a micro nutshell - is the official story of the beginnings of the crisis, but certainly not the end of it.

As we continue to watch the economic spasms, we proceed along another line of basic questions. Other than raw capitalist greed, why did the lenders initially increase their offers into the markets? Who or what led the flood of cash? Many argue that the trend of pushing out-of-control loans to unqualified segments of society emanated from political operatives on the Left. Meaning that pressure groups, including national politicians, induced Wall Street to cross the fine line of appropriate banking policy to grant almost any loan seeker, regardless of his capacity to pay back the mortgage loan. But even if that were true, market analysts would have figured out the weaknesses of such a plan. So the next question is: on what grounds was the huge release of funds rationalized?

One answer could be that an assumption was made that jobs would always provide income for the payments of such mortgages. So, up to this stage, blame can be leveled in two directions. First, towards those politicians who threatened political retaliation if the financial system didn’t lend beyond rational limits; and second, Wall Street financiers who risked breaking the financial system by relying on poor judgment regarding the public’s ability to overcome economic challenges. Economists and those investigative committees expected to be formed will tell us more about the American roots of this economic debacle.

A thorough psycho-economic observation of the public’s financial behavior, however, tells us that there may be more to the crisis. It reveals that an outside “push” - I now coin it economic terrorism - may have been the tipping point of the collapse. For monitoring how and why buyers massively abandoned their plans shows that it followed, or coincided, with an abrupt rise in the cost of gas dividends. With the numbers at the pumps going ballistic, the cost of living suddenly rose, goods became less attainable and the price of enjoying, let alone using, the newly purchased properties soared. Hence, undoubtedly the lifestyle that was sought by the tens of millions of homes buyers wasn’t possible to achieve anymore; thus they surrendered financially in droves, taking the system down with them.

Economists will tell us if this diagnosis stands up. But if it does, then we cannot avoid investigating the factor that caused the strategic stress in real estate, which turned into economic chaos. In bypassing a narrow economic analysis, we can detect clearly the connection between the dizzying ups in petrol pricing and the slowing of American buying capacity. Stunningly, one can conclude that while it is sadly true that both Wall Street’s corruption and politicians’ abuse of the system handed the tools of doom to the middle class, Main Street’s rapid disenfranchisement was manufactured overseas, thousands of miles away, at the hands of OPEC, or perhaps in some quarters of the oil-producing Cartel.

Indeed, as economic commentators tell us (including a strong accusation leveled by real estate tycoon Donald Trump on Fox News against OPEC), oil powers are behind the instability that crumbled the will of millions of middle class Americans over the past three years. If we go back in time, we can see that oil pricing by OPEC’s hard core shows clearly that US leadership wasn’t able to convince the top producers from the Gulf to give American oil consumers a chance. Most producing regimes replied that demand - mostly from China and India - was putting pressure on production. Pressed by Washington to produce more, the “regimes” alleged it would affect the selling price and thus minimize their profits, but promised they would try to “be understanding” of US needs in energy.

This attitude gave the producers discretion over price, while Jihadi propagandists roamed the media accusing Washington of putting unbearable pressure “on the region” to follow American injunctions in setting petrol’s prices. Was there a connection between the oil regimes and the Jihadi propagandist machine? We have no answer to that now, but clearly an oil strategy was in the works with a calculated impact on the US economy. This charge is still in its early stages, it will be challenged ferociously, but it will stand as long as limpid answers are not provided.
Dr. Walid Phares is the Director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a visiting scholar at the European Foundation for Democracy. He is the author of The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad.


====================================================================================


OPEC's HEAVY HAND

by Walid Phares

Who manufactured the financial meltdown? It wasn’t only Wall Street: OPEC’s heavy hand is felt but unseen by the media and our politicians.

In bypassing a narrow economic analysis of the ongoing crisis, we can detect clearly the connection between the dizzying ups in petrol pricing and the slowing of American buying capacity. Though we have to conclude that while it is due largely to both Wall Street’s corruption and politicians’ abuse of the system handed the tools of doom to the middle class, Main Street’s rapid disenfranchisement was manufactured overseas, thousands of miles away, at the hands of many of the members of OPEC, the oil-producing Cartel.

Indeed, as economic commentators tell us (including a strong accusation leveled by real estate tycoon Donald Trump on Fox News against OPEC), the oil powers are behind the instability that crumbled the will of millions of middle class Americans over the past three years.

If we go back in time, we can see that oil pricing by OPEC’s hard core shows clearly that US leadership wasn’t able to convince the top producers from the Gulf to give American oil consumers a chance. Most producing regimes replied that demand -- mostly from China and India -- was putting pressure on production. Pressed by Washington to produce more, the “regimes” alleged it would affect the selling price and thus minimize their profits, but promised they would try to “be understanding” of US needs in energy.

This attitude gave the producers discretion over price, while Jihadi propagandists roamed the media accusing Washington of putting unbearable pressure “on the region” to follow American injunctions in setting petrol’s prices. Was there a direct connection between the oil regimes and the Jihadi propagandist machine? We have no answer to that now, but clearly an oil strategy was in the works with a calculated impact on the US economy. This charge is still in its early stages, it will be challenged ferociously, but it will stand as long as convincing answers are not provided.

What adds to the inquiry into the OPEC destabilization factor are the many indicators that strategic political motives have appeared to be behind the pricing maneuvers. Over a period of half a decade, many voices heard on the region’s airwaves have intimated that the US economy will be made to pay for what America’s leadership is doing. Commentators, some funded by oil producers on several outlets including on al Jazeera, underlined that as long as average citizens in the United States (and eventually in the West) don’t feel financial pain, the war on terror and spreading of Democracy won’t be stopped.

Sheikh Yussuf al Qardawi, Muslim Brotherhood ideologue and mentor of the Qatari-funded channel, spoke openly of Silah al Naft, i.e, “the weapon of oil.” Indeed, it was called a weapon - as in a warfare situation -- and most likely it was used as such. Of course, the producing “regimes” will deny the existence of a real strategy to bring the US to its knees by striking at its pumps. They will dismiss statements made by emirs and commentators in this regard. The “field Jihadists”, however, won’t deny the existence of such a battlefield.

For years now, Salafist web sites and al Qaeda spokespersons have loudly called for an “oil Jihad against infidel America and its lackeys.” Online material is still circulating. But more revealing are the official speeches by Osama Bin Laden and his deputy on the “absolute necessity to use that weapon.”

Ayman Zawahiri called expressly and repetitively on the public to sell their US dollars and buy gold instead (Be’u al dullar washtaru al zahab). These were stunning statements ignored by most analysts at the time but that are making sense today. He predicted a collapse in the infidels’ economy, starting from American markets. Was he a part of the lobbying effort in the OPEC game? Most likely not, but he seems to have been privy to the game, having insiders in the Wahhabi radical circles in the Peninsula: in the end there are too many political signs to dismiss and the analysis of price warfare is too evident to ignore.

OPEC’s manipulation of the markets did hit Americans hard in their pockets. Hundreds of millions of John and Jane Does were intimidated, terrorized really, into abandoning their lifelong dreams of owning properties because of the aggressive stance of petro-regimes towards the US and its campaign to spread democracy in the Greater Middle East. In historical terms, America was punished for daring to change the status quo in the Arab and Muslim world to the advantage of the weakest and the suppressed: Shia and Kurds in Iraq, Syrian reformers, Lebanese civil society, Africans in Darfur, Iranian women and students, artists and liberals across the Arabian Peninsula. In return, the U.S was submitted to economic destabilization, steady, gradual and by small doses.

Let’s not underestimate the power of the Jihadi-oil lobby in America: it has decades of influence and it has long arms into the system, and it has powerful political allies. It knows when Americans are messing up their own system, and it knows very well how to push them over the cliff, into the abyss of economic calamity.

A counterpoint to this thesis would vigorously argue that the alleged OPEC destabilization over the US economy is illogical, as many countries in the Gulf are experiencing a recession as a result of Wall Street’s crunch. In other words, they wouldn’t do it to themselves. Yet the ideological forces manning the oil weapon aren’t particularly concerned about economic stability. Their driving factor is Jihadism. We’ve heard their ideologues stating that even if they were to incur losses among their own societies in order to defeat the infidel powers, then let it be.

Ten percent losses in local companies and markets are a price that radicals would absorb if the final prize is an earth-shattering change in US policy in the region and a triumphant return to pre-9/11 status. I find the rationale of this policy very Jihadist: if a world economic crisis is needed to remove the US democratization efforts from the region and to end its post 9/11 campaigns, the end justifies the means. In addition, how intriguing to see that Saudi Arabia and other producers are among the very few who didn’t have to pump much cash into their markets yet (Per news Agencies, today).

What some oil regimes -- or the ideological forces within -- want to accomplish from this alleged interference in US economics is to provoke a “regime change” in Washington, D.C., so that regimes in their region are not challenged anymore. But another issue is also coming to the surface: pressures against America’s financial structures seem to have escalated in parallel to increasing US talk and commitment to achieving energy independence. Since last April, the American debate finally reached a dramatic conclusion: “We’re sending 700 Billion Dollars a year to regimes that dislike us;” agree most national leaders; “and furthermore some of that money is ending up in the hands or accounts of Terrorists” affirm some among them.

This revolutionary conclusion is a direct affront to the multi-decades-long dominance of petro-dollars in US politics. What America is readying itself to do is to achieve its most dramatic war of independence since 1776: ending the dependence on Middle East Oil. Therefore, let’s not be surprised that these gigantic interests would strike at the heart of this economic revolution, as I coined it in my latest book, The Confrontation.

Back to the ongoing crisis on these shores, we nevertheless must admit that the original sins are domestic first: financial drunkenness and economic recklessness. Without these plagues, outside forces wouldn’t have been able to shake up America’s stability. But assuming that most capitalist societies travel through rough patches, it is vital to realize that America’s economy is under attack by forces aiming to maintain US dependency on foreign energy, as a means to obstruct the rise of democracy.

Seven years after 9/11, Americans are paying the price of liberty from their own economic flesh.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dr Walid Phares, author of Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against America, of The war of Ideas: Jihadism against democracy and of the forthcoming book, The Confrontation. He is also the Director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
10264  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Not this morning, or she'll have a headache on: October 11, 2008, 09:45:29 AM
Going through all the above point by point is gonna get in the way of painting the house today, and though the wife doesn't do data dumps, she does have methods of expressing her displeasure that are more immediate, so excuse me for not wading through all the above.

A couple points, however. The synopsis and original piece point out problems with data mining that remain undiscussed. We do get to point out problems with law enforcement techniques and discuss them, right? Examination of issues and intelligent discussion thereof is more likely to lead to a resolution than blind adherence to the party line, so pardon me if I don't stand mute lest I be blamed for the next smoking hole.

**An informed discussion would be nice, however what usually happens is that any use of technology for law enforcement purposes means we are but minutes away from a dystopian police state.**

Speaking of which, the smoking hole or unfettered access damn the constitutional issues dichotomy strikes me as a false one. I've little doubt that there is an intersection at which security imperatives and founding principles can both be serviced. Citing one extreme to excuse the other does a great job of representing the margins, but does little to find the ground where the hole is avoided and the Constitution isn't shredded.

**How exactly does datamining shred the constitution?**

Finally, as I've pointed out several times, the powers we're discussing are ones mullahs can only dream about. You can't imagine these capabilities being misused?

**Anything can be misused. There have been bad police shootings, and there will be more in the future. Is the answer to then disarm the police? Iatrogenic disease is a concern, but the answer isn't banning medical science, right?**

You can't imagine someone with autocratic leanings winning an election, defining people who own guns and discuss politics on a militant martial arts web site to be security threats, and using the power of collection and collation to build a case against those who, quite coincidently, of course, don't agree with his politics?

**What laws are violated? Who brings this before what court? What jury would find that a crime was committed?**

The potential for misuse here is enormous, and there have been enough utterly unprincipled politicians in Washington over the years to make examination of the implications of this growing ability prudent.

**That's why we have lots of checks and balances in our system of government.**

Off to the roller. Anyone want to learn how to paint cedar siding?
10265  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 11, 2008, 09:23:32 AM
GM:

As usual you make good points, but for me you seem to have a blind spot for what it is that concerns, BBG, JDN, and me.  Please allow me to take another try at communicating one aspect of it (of course I do not speak for BBG or JDN, but I suspect there is overlap with their positions and mine):

Yes the private sector data mines, but the private sector does not have the ability to get violent with or oppress me.  The State does.  For example, Amazon knows a lot about my reading habits, but I would much rather that the government not keep track of what I read. 

**Why would the gov't keep track of what you read?**

This is not because I am a nefarious individual, it is because the State might decide to harass me (e.g. an IRS investigation not because of anything I've done or not done, but in order to drag me down).  We have already seen the Hilbillary Clintons do this IMHO.  I would rather that the coming minions of His Glibness not be keeping track of me and my thoughts.

**Even if we are unfortunate enough to have his glibness become president, I doubt very much you or I will end up on the wrong end of an audit due to our opinions. If you are really concerned about it, i'd suggest that you go "off the grid" as much as possible. Not something i'd recommend, but if you really are that concerned.....**
10266  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 10, 2008, 05:46:06 PM
So, is ViCAP ok, or do we get rid of this too?
10267  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 10, 2008, 05:44:49 PM
Sexual Assault Data Collection

     Many New ViCAP users have reported that the homicide-oriented version was a helpful crime analysis tool. But, what the users really needed was a crime analysis tool for sexual assaults. ViCAP currently is working on that product by determining data elements for the paper form and the electronic version and designing the paper form for sexual assault data collection to mirror the existing homicide-oriented form. ViCAP is developing the electronic portion of the system in a Web-enabled fashion. This will permit users to exchange information more easily and potentially will provide limited access to the nationwide database.

More Developments

     A recent development in New ViCAP is the ability to store one or more images and associate them with a particular case. The images can be photographs scanned into the system or maps or other graphics imported into the system. This tool has important implications for training new investigators, refreshing case-specific recollections of experienced investigators, or exchanging precise information to identify unknown victims.

     An envisioned tool, not yet a part of the software, is a mapping capability. New ViCAP already captures graphic information system (GIS) data. This information could be used for traditional pin maps. Alternatively, investigators could use GIS data to store and search offender time lines like those prepared for suspected or known serial killers. Once offender time lines are stored, GIS data for each newly entered case could be automatically compared with the time lines. For example, an automated hit system could report to the analyst that plus or minus 3 days, a killer was in the town where the murder occurred.19

A Communication Tool

     Police agencies across the country recognize New ViCAP as a valuable violent crime communication tool. The first pair of cities to use New ViCAP were Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas. Now, police and sheriff departments in the largest metropolitan areas are using New ViCAP, including Baltimore, Maryland; Chi-cago, Illinois; Los Angeles, Califor-nia; Miami, Florida; New York, New York; and Washington, D.C. Further, MOUs and the New ViCAP system are in place with 40 states. More than 400 state and local law enforcement entities use the New ViCAP software.

     The architecture of the New ViCAP network is as varied as the needs of its users. For some states, such as Colorado, a “hub and spoke” design works well. MOUs are created between the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and cities and counties in the state. Cases can be entered at the local level and uploaded to the state. In addition to its networking arrangements, CBI selected New ViCAP as the statewide tool for sex offender registry.

     Other states have implemented a regional model. For example, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s and Los Angeles Police Departments provide an excellent example of regional concept application. The sheriff’s department serves as the collection point and analysis hub for cases in the county. MOUs are in place between the sheriff’s department and 45 of the 46 police agencies in the county, thus providing a web of case-sharing information for participating law enforcement entities, including the two largest, the police and sheriff’s departments.

Case Example: Bag of Bones

     In 2001, a ViCAP crime analyst reviewed a state police publication that mentioned a bag of human bones found by hunters in a seaboard forest of an eastern state. The victim was a white male, about 40 to 60 years old, and between 5' 7" and 5' 9" in height. His cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head. Recovered with the remains was a 14-carat gold ring with engraved letters. Authorities had no leads for identification of the remains.

     A ViCAP crime analyst searched the database using the physical description of the victim and then made an additional search, thinking that the letters engraved in the ring might be the initials of a name. A possible match was made with a July 1998 case where three people were reported missing from a midwestern state. The report was made by a fourth member of the family, a son, who waited a week before reporting his mother, father, and sibling as missing persons. Personnel had exhausted all investigative leads.

     Authorities in the eastern and midwestern states contacted each other. In January 2001, ViCAP learned that forensic odontology had identified the bones in the bag as those of the father missing from the midwestern state. The letters in the recovered ring represented the maiden name of the missing mother and the name of the missing father.

     ViCAP learned later that a suspect was identified and charged with the murder—the oldest son who made the report in the midwest. The remains of his mother and his sibling have not been located.

 

Data Security

     New ViCAP created a standard of information for exchange between law enforcement agencies. Naturally, a law enforcement entity would express concern for violent crime data sent to a national database with information no longer under an agency’s direct control. ViCAP recognizes its responsibility to provide security for violent crime case data and has provided that security for more than 16 years. New ViCAP continues to recognize the sensitive nature of violent crime data and provides appropriate security.



CONCLUSION

     The FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program Unit has helped local and state law enforcement agencies solve violent crimes for almost 20 years. As technology has improved, ViCAP has ensured that its objectives change to support such advancements. New ViCAP represents an instructional and technological violent crime analysis tool suitable for use in a law enforcement agency of any size. It provides a standard method for the communication of violent crime information between and among agencies.

     New ViCAP software is free to agencies that formalize their relationship with a state hub or ViCAP. The software is case-management and case-matching capable with an easy-to-use data retrieval scheme and a package of reports that serves the needs of administrators and commanders. Initially designed for homicide-oriented violent crime, New ViCAP soon will provide an information technology system to capture and analyze sex offenses as well. Forty years after Mr. Brooks’ idea of putting all homicides into a computer, law enforcement is on the cusp of making his thinking a practical reality.

Endnotes

     1 ViCAP has been distinguished by several acronyms since its inception. To ensure consistency in this article, the author used the current acronym for the program.

     2 Mr. Brooks was a former commander of the Los Angeles, California, Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division. See, Bob Keefer, “Distinguished Homicide Detective Dies at 75,” The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, March 1, 1998, p. 1, in which he wrote that Mr. Brooks investigated the murder of a Los Angeles officer in an onion field outside of Bakersfield, California. Joseph Wambaugh wrote the book The Onion Field based on this crime. Subsequently, Mr. Brooks served as a technical consultant to Jack Webb and the television show “Dragnet,” as well as “Dragnet 1969,” the made-for-television production of the case outlined here.

     3 Author interviews with Pierce R. Brooks, Quantico, Virginia, 1985 and Vida, Oregon, April 1992.

     4 Steven A. Egger, Serial Murder—An Elusive Phenomenon (New York, NY: Prager Publishers, 1990), 192-193.

5 Ibid.

     6 Pierce Brooks, “The Investigative Consultant Team: A New Approach for Law Enforcement Cooperation,” (Washington, DC: Police Executive Research Forum, 1981), unpublished report, in Steven A. Egger, Serial Murder—An Elusive Phenomenon (New York, NY: Prager Publishers, 1990), 193.

7 Supra note 4, 193.

8 Arthur Meister, ViCAP lectures at Quantico, Virginia, 1999-2000.

     9 U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Crime in the United States (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1991-2000), 8, 13, 14, or 15. In 1991, a high of 24,526 homicides were reported, contrasted with a low of 15,533 reported in 1999.

10  U.S. Congress, Senate, Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1993, H.R. 3355 Amendment, 103rd Cong., 1st sess., 1993, 267-268.

     11Arthur Meister, ViCAP lectures at Quantico, VA, 1999-2000.

     12 David McLemore, “Aliases, Trainhopping Obscure Suspect’s Trail,” Dallas Morning News, June 17, 1999, sec. A., p. 16.

     13 Pauline Arrillaga, “Town Copes After Slayings by Suspected Rail Rider,” Dallas Morning News, June 11, 1999, sec. A., p. 29.

14  Supra note 12, sec. A., p. 17.

15  Michael Pearson, “Railroad Killer,” Associated Press, June 22, 1999.

16  Mark Babineck, “Railroad Killer,” Associated Press, 2000.

     17 “Railroad Killer,” Associated Press, July 2000.

18  Ibid.

     19 This represents an arbitrary number; analysts could select any number of days.
10268  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 10, 2008, 05:43:50 PM
http://www.fbi.gov/publications/leb/2003/june2003/june03leb.htm

The New ViCAP
More User-Friendly and
Used by More Agencies
By ERIC W. WITZIG, M.S.

 



     Where should officers go to obtain information about unsolved violent crime cases? Where do they direct their inquiries? Who do they ask? Officers in small departments might ask their colleagues during morning roll call. Those in mid-sized agencies might question investigators working other shifts. Personnel in large departments might ask officers in the next jurisdiction by sending a teletype or similar communication.

     Yet, the communication might not reach the employees who have the necessary information. Generally, personnel who need information about violent crime cases do not connect with the investigators who have that knowledge. Information technology (IT) has enhanced communication for law enforcement, allowing departments to close violent crime cases with the arrest of an offender.



Mr. Witzig, a former detective in the Homicide Branch of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department and agent of the chief medical examiner for Washington, D.C., is a major case specialist with the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program.

 

ORIGIN OF VICAP

     The Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP)1 originated from an idea by local law enforcement and the late Pierce Brooks.2 In 1956, Mr. Brooks investigated the murders of two Los Angeles women who had replied to an advertisement for photographic models. Their bodies, tied with rope in such a fashion as to suggest that the killer might practice bondage, subsequently were found in the desert.

     Mr. Brooks, convinced that these were not the killer’s first murders and that the offender would kill again, devised an early form of ViCAP. For 18 months, he used his off-duty time to visit the Los Angeles central library and read out-of-town newspapers to look for information on murders that exhibited characteristics similar to those he was investigating. He found such an article in a newspaper and, using pieces from that case coupled with evidence from his own cases, arrested an individual who subsequently was tried, convicted, and executed for the murders.

     Mr. Brooks refined his idea and concluded that a computer could capture relevant information about murders. If open and closed cases were stored in the computer, investigators easily could query the database for similar ones when they first confront new, “mystery” cases. They could use clues from other cases that exhibit similar characteristics to solve more cases. Moreover, when officers identify offenders, a search of the computer using their modus operandi (MO) would reveal other open cases for which they might be responsible.3 In 1983, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the National Institute of Justice gave a planning grant, the “National Missing/Abducted Children and Serial Murder Tracking and Prevention Program,” to Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. After three workshops, with the last held in November 1983, the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) emerged. The U.S. Department of Justice provided the initial funding for the NCAVC and stipulated that it would be “...under the direction and control of the FBI training center at Quantico, Virginia.”4 ViCAP became a part of the NCAVC with its goal to “...collect, collate, and analyze all aspects of the investigation of similar-pattern, multiple murders, on a nationwide basis, regardless of the location or number of police agencies involved.”5 Mr. Brooks envisioned ViCAP as a “nationwide clearing-house...to provide all law enforcement agencies reporting similar-pattern violent crimes with the information necessary to initiate a coordinated multiagency investigation.”6 ViCAP attempts to identify similar characteristics that may exist in a series of unsolved murders and provide all police agencies reporting similar patterns with information necessary to initiate a coordinated multiagency investigation.7

REDESIGN OF VICAP

     Since ViCAP’s beginning at the FBI Academy in July 1985, its goal of identifying cases exhibiting similar characteristics and providing that information to law enforcement agencies for a coordinated, case-closing investigation has remained constant. But, a tremendous change has occurred in the way ViCAP now provides services to state and local law enforcement. In 1996, a business analysis revealed several details about ViCAP.8

 Only 3 to 7 percent of the total cases were reported each year. Of the 21,000 homicides (average) reported per year in the 1990s,9 only about 1,500 to 1,800 were submitted to the nationwide database.
An urban void existed. While most murders occurred in large cities, the cities were not contributing their homicides to the nationwide database.
ViCAP users reported that the 189-question ViCAP form was cumbersome and difficult.
Users perceived that ViCAP case submissions entered a bureaucratic “black hole” never to emerge or be seen again.
Chronic understaffing caused a failure to address incoming case work on a timely basis.


The beginning of the ViCAP change originated with the 1994 crime bill. Legislation in this bill directed the attorney general to “...develop and implement, on a pilot basis with no more than 10 participating cities, an intelligent information system that gathers, integrates, organizes, and analyzes information in active support of investigations by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies of violent serial crimes.”10 From the business analysis, ViCAP learned that the program had to be placed in the hands of state and local law enforcement. This concept of program delivery required two conditions of ViCAP software: 1) migration of the application from a mainframe computing environment to a platform more affordable by state and local law enforcement and 2) a choice of software that eliminated the need for a computer programmer to extract information from a database. To accomplish these objectives, ViCAP had to create a powerful, object-oriented, user-friendly, software seamlessly integrating data, mapping, reporting, and image-capturing tools. This high-end software would have to operate on a modestly priced desktop computer. Crime bill monies provided the initial funding to create completely new software for ViCAP and to move it as an application from a mainframe to a client-server environment.
     ViCAP decided that users of the new ViCAP software would receive the service free of charge. Moreover, ViCAP loaned high-end computers loaded with the new software to more than 50 law enforcement entities. These computers had a modem that enabled users to exchange information with each other and forward case information to state hubs where it was downloaded to the national database. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) formalized the conveyance of new ViCAP software, the loan of a desktop computer to participating agencies, and these agencies’ relationship with ViCAP.

     Additionally, the 189-question ViCAP form was completely redesigned, streamlined to only 95 questions, and became more appealing to the eye. The paper form both looked and became more user-friendly.

     In 1998, Congress provided additional funding for ViCAP crime analysts. Today, 19 well-trained and experienced crime analysts serve with ViCAP, and they address incoming work and requests on a more timely basis. They handle high-profile or immediate case requests rapidly, frequently within the same hour or day. In a symbolic, but important, perceptual break with the old ways of doing business, ViCAP reflected its new software and energy with a new name—the New ViCAP.

Case Example: Victim by the Lake

     In 1996, a suspect in a drug case in a northeastern state made an offer to the authorities—in exchange for leniency in his prosecution or at the time of his sentencing, he would give information linking his brother to a murder. He advised that a white male in a southeastern state died from repeated strikes with a blunt object. The investigators questioned the suspect about where the crime occurred, and the suspect advised that he did not know the exact location, but that he thought it happened near a body of water. Further, the suspect advised that his brother ran over the victim with an automobile.

     Investigators from the northeastern state contacted ViCAP and related the details of the case as told to them by the suspect. A crime analyst searched the ViCAP database and found a case from 1986 in a southeastern state that matched the details offered by the suspect in the drug case. The victim’s cause of death was blunt force trauma, and he was run over by an automobile. Further, the murder occurred near a small lake. Authorities in the northeast with the information contacted investigators in the southeast with the open homicide case. The southeastern case successfully was closed with the identification and arrest of the offender.11

Case Example: Texas Railroads

     In 1999, a series of homicides occurred in Texas. Early in the series, the cases were presented as murders in the victims’ homes. Female victims were sexually assaulted, blunt force trauma was the cause of death,12 and items of value were stolen from the homes.13 The murder scenes were close to railroad tracks, sometimes only a few feet away.

     In May 1999, personnel from the command post in Texas called ViCAP with information about three of the murders. One of the ViCAP crime analysts remembered a case from Kentucky where railroad tracks were prominently mentioned. The analyst searched the database and quickly found the case in Kentucky where a male was killed along a pair of railroad tracks. The cause of death was blunt force trauma.14 His female companion was sexually assaulted and left for dead. ViCAP relayed information concerning the Kentucky rape/homicide to the command post in Texas. Subsequent DNA examinations linked the Texas cases with the Kentucky case.

     An itinerant freight train rider was identified as the suspect in the series of cases.15 He was apprehended by authorities on July 13, 1999, when he surrendered at the border in El Paso, Texas. Charged with nine murders, two in Illinois, one in Kentucky, and six in Texas,16 the subject was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death.

     In July 2000, he confessed to the 1997 murders of two teenagers on a railroad track near Oxford, Florida.17 The male victim’s body was found on March 23, 1997; the female victim’s body was not found until July 2000, when authorities, following the killer’s directions, found her skeletal remains wrapped in a blanket and jacket.18 While confessing to the two murders in Florida, the subject said that he once killed a woman in a southeastern state, somewhere along railroad tracks. She was an old woman, hanging her wash on the line, and he killed her inside her house. He did not provide more details.

     A check of the ViCAP database revealed a 1998 case from a southeastern state where an elderly woman was hanging laundry in her backyard just a few feet from a pair of railroad tracks that ran by her property. The command post in Texas and the investigator in the southeastern state were notified of the case match. When interviewed by the investigator, the subject confessed in detail and drew a diagram of the inside of the victim’s house. In this case, no fingerprint or DNA evidence matched the defendant to the murder.

 

THE NEW VICAP

     Some agencies run the New ViCAP system in their own departments, others prefer to run the software on a stand-alone desktop, and several put the software on their internal networks. Agency networks support as few as three users, through the entire investigative staff, and up to five different boroughs and the precincts therein. New ViCAP software operating in participating agencies allows direct access to all of the information that they enter and the ability to perform their own crime analysis.

     Cold case squads can store their cases without resorting to wall-filling filing cabinets. With just a piece of information, a nickname, an address, or the name of a bar or other business, investigators can retrieve decade-old cases for additional investigation. Conversely, cold case squads looking for cases exhibiting an MO used by a suspect, or a series of cases matching a particular MO, can make those searches as well.

     Research has shown that administrators like the reports package in New ViCAP. Standard reports include—

cases by day of the week, month, or district;
case status (open or closed);
causative factors;
offender age or ethnicity;
victim age or ethnicity;
victim-offender relationship; and
all weapons used or firearms used by caliber or type.
     Perhaps most useful to administrators and investigators is the one-page New ViCAP summary report, which collects the main facts from a violent crime and prints them to the screen or, typically, two sheets of paper. The summary report proves an excellent briefing tool for administrators, managers, or elected officials.

     Some investigators and prosecutors like to have all of the information about a case in one place, but the concept of electronic storage of case information proves unsettling to some people. To overcome this problem, New ViCAP provided a hard copy. This multi-page report prints on screen or on paper and includes all of the information entered into the database. The printed document can be placed in the case folder or jacket and preserved indefinitely.

     New ViCAP understands that unique cases require distinctive database queries. To provide for discrete, particular questions of the database, the program has a powerful ad hoc query tool, whereby any combination of New ViCAP variables and attributes can be strung together to produce a set of possibly related cases. Refinement of the ad hoc query produces more, or fewer, cases delivered to the crime analyst through the possibilities set. When the listing of cases is returned, the crime analyst can contrast and compare them in a matrix of variables specified by the analyst. Particularly valuable case matrixes can be titled and printed for more formal presentations, such as

multiagency case meetings. The ad hoc query and resulting matrix analysis prove a very powerful combination of tools for any analyst examining violent crime.

10269  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 10, 2008, 05:13:17 PM
http://www.rgrossman.com/dm.htm

Data Mining FAQ

Question: What is data mining?

Data mining is the semi-automatic extraction of patterns, changes, associations, anomalies, and other statistically significant structures from large data sets.

Question: Why is data mining important?

There is more and more digital data being collected, processed, managed and archived every day. Algorithms, software tools, and systems to mine it are critical to a wide variety of problems in business, science, national defense, engineering, and health care.

Question: What are some commerical success stories in data mining?

Data mining has been applied successfully in a number of different fields, including: a) for detecting credit card fraud by HNC, which was recently acquired by FICO; b) in credit card acquisition and risk management by American Express; and c) for product recommendations by Amazon.

Question: What are the historical roots of data mining?

From a business perspective, data mining's roots are in direct marketing and financial services which have used statistical modeling for at least the past two decades. From a technical perspective, data mining is beginning to emerge as a separate discipline with roots in a) statistics, b) machine learning, c) databases, and d) high performance computing.

Q. What are some of the different techniques used in data mining?

There are several different types of data mining, including:

Predictive models. These types of models predict how likely an event is. Usually, the higher a score, the more likely the event is. For example, how likely a credit card transaction is to be fraudulent, or how likely an airline passenger is to be a terrorist, or how likely a company is to go bankrupt.
Summary models. These models summarize data. For example, a cluster model can be used to divide credit card transactions or airline passengers into different groups depending upon their characteristics.
Network models. These types of models uncover certain structures in data represented by nodes and links. For example, a credit card fraud ring may surreptitiously collect credit card numbers at a pawn shop and then use them for online computer purchases. Here the nodes are consumers and merchants and the links are credit card transactions. Similarly a network model for a terrorist cell might use nodes representing individuals and links representing meetings.
Association models. Sometimes certain events occur frequently together. For example, purchases of certain items, such as beer and pretzels, or a sequence of events associated with component failure. Association models are used to find and characterize these co-occurrences.
Q. What are the major steps in data mining?

Data cleaning. The first and most challenging step is to clean and to prepare the data for data mining and statistical modeling. This is usually the most challenging step.
Data mart. The next step is to create a data mart containing the cleaned and prepared data.
Derived attributes. It is rare for a model to built using only the attributes present in the cleaned data; rather, additional attributes called derived attributes are usually defined. As a single example, a stock on the S&P 500 has a price and an earnings associated with it, but the ratio of the price divided by the earnings is more important for many applications than either single attribute considered by itself. The construction of the derived and data attributes from the raw data is sometimes called shaping the data. Standards, such as the Data Extraction and Transformation Markup Language (DXML), are beginning to emerge for defining the common data shaping operations needed in data mining.
Modeling. Once the data is prepared and data mart is created, one or more statistical or data mining models are built. Today, statistical and data mining models can be described in an application and platform independent XML interchange format called the Predictive Model Markup Language or PMML.
Post-processing. It is common to normalize the outputs of data mining models and to apply business rules to the inputs and the outputs of the models. This is to ensure that the scores and other outputs of the models are consistent with the over all business processes the models are supporting.
Deployment. Once a statistical or data mining model has been produced by the steps above, the next phase begins of deploying the model in operational systems. Deployment usually consists of three different activities. First, data is scored using the statistical or data mining model produced on a periodic basis, either daily, weekly or monthly, or perhaps on a real time, or event driven basis. Second, these scores are deployed into operational systems and also used as the basis for various reports. Third, on a periodic basis, say monthly, a new model is built and compared to the existing model. If required, the old model is replaced by the new model.
Q. What are the differences between predictive models, business rules, and score cards?

Predictive models use historical data to predict future events, for example the likelihood that a credit card transaction is fraudulent or that an airline passenger is likely to commit a terrorist act. Business rules ensure that business processes follow agreed upon procedures. For example, business procedures may dictate that a predictive model can use only the first three digits of a zip code not all five digits. Score cards check certain conditions, and for example, and if these conditions are met, points are added to an overall score. For example, a score card for a credit card fraud model, might add 28 points if a $1 transaction occurs at a gas station. The higher the score, the more likely the credit card transaction is fraudulent. The best practice is to use both rules and scores. Rules ensure that business processes are being followed and predictive models ensure that historical data is being used most effectively.

Score cards are typically used for very basic systems which use just a few simple rules or for historical reasons. For example, the credit scoring reason has used score cards for many years - these score cards though use statistical models to determine the conditions and corresponding scores.

Q. What determines the accuracy of predictive models?

The accuracy of a predictive model is influenced most strongly by the quality of the data and the freshness of the model. Without good data, it is simply wishful thinking to expect a good model. Without updating the model frequently, the model's performance will decay over time.

Accuracy is measured in two basic ways. Models have false positive rates and false negative rates. For example, consider a model predicting credit card fraud. A false positive means that the model predicted fraud when no fraud was present. A false negative means that the model predicted that the transaction was ok when in fact it was fraudulent. In practice, false positive and false negative rates can be relatively high. The role of a good model is to improve a business process by a significant degree not to make flawless predictions. Only journalists and pundits make flawless predictions.

Best practice uses separate, specialized software applications for building models (the model producer) and for scoring models (the model consumer). The Predictive Model Markup Language or PMML is the industry standard for describing a model in XML so that it can be moved easily between a model producer and a model consumer. Good accuracy require fresh models on fresh data, which means updating the model consumer as frequently as the data demands.

Q. What are the major types of predictive models?

Although there are quite a large number of different types of predictive models, the majority of applications use one of the following types of models.

Linear models. For many years, especially before the advent of personal computers, these were the most common types of models due to their simplicity. They divide data into two different cells using a line in two dimensions and a plane in higher dimensions. Quadratic models are similar but use a curve instead of a line to divide the data.
Logistic models. Logistic models are used when the predicted variable is zero or one, for example predicting that a credit card transaction is fraudulent or not. Logistic models assume that one of the internal components of the model is linear. Computing the weights that characterize a logistic model is difficult by hand, but simple with a computer.
Neural Networks. Neural networks are a type of nonlinear model broadly motivated ("inspired by" is the phrase Hollywood uses) by neurons in brains.
Trees. Trees are a type of nonlinear model which uses a series of lines or planes to divide the data into different cells. Trees consist of a sequence of if...then.. rules. Because of this, it is easier to interpret trees than other types of nonlinear models such as neural networks.
Hybrid Models. It is common to combine one or more of the four models above to produce a more powerful model.
Q. What is the difference between a linear and nonlinear model?

Models can be thought of as a function, which takes inputs, performs a computation, and produces an output. The output is often a score, say from 1 to 1000, or a label, such such as high, medium, or low. A very simple type of model, called a linear model, uses the n input features to split the space of features into two parts. This is done using an (n-1)-dimensional plane. For example, 2 features can be separated with a line, 3 features with a plane, etc. Most data is not so simple. Any model which is not linear is called a nonlinear model. Logistic models, tree based models and neural networks are common examples of nonlinear models.

Q. What are the some of the differences between the various types of predictive models?

First, there is no one best model. Different data requires different types of models. The accuracy of a model depends more on the quality of the data, how well it is prepared, and how fresh the model is than on the type of model used. On the other hand, there are some important differences between different types of models. Nonlinear models are generally more accurate than linear models. Linear models were more common in the past because they were easier to compute. Today this is no longer relevant given the proliferation of computers and good quality statistical and data mining software. Neural networks were very popular in the 80's and early 90's because they were quite successful for several different types of applications and because they had a cool name. Today, they are being replaced by tree-based methods, which are generally considered easier to build, easier to interpret, and more scalable.

Q. I hear the phrase "empirically derived and statistically valid" applied to models. What does that mean?

Decisions based upon models derived from data are usually expected to be empirically derived and statistically sound. That is, first, they must be derived from the data itself, and not the biases of the person building the model. Second, they must be based upon generally acceptable statistical procedures. For example, the arbitrary exclusion of data can result in models that are biased in some fashion.

Q. What are some of the major components in a data mining system?

Assume that the function of the data mining system is to assign scores to various profiles. For example, profiles may be maintained about companies and the scores used to indicate the likelihood that the company will go bankrupt. Alternatively, the profiles may be maintained for customer accounts and the scores indiciate the likelihood that the account is being used fradulently. A typical data mining system processes raw transactional data, consisting of what are called events, to produce the profiles. To continue the examples above, the events may consist of survey data about the companies, or purchases by the customer.

First, a data mart is used to store the event and profile data which is used to build the predictive models. For large data sets, the data mart must be designed for efficient statistics on columns rather than simple counting and summaries like a conventional data warehouse, or safe updating of rows, like a conventional database.

Second, a data mining system takes data from the data mart and applies statistical or data mining algorithms to produce a model. More precisely, the data mining system takes a learning set of profiles and produces a statistical model.

Third, an operational data store or operational database is used to store profiles. A profile is a statistical summary of the entity being model and typically contains dozens to hundreds of features. A relational database is generally used for the operational data store.

Fourth, the scoring software takes a model produced by the data mining system, and a profile from the operational data store and produce one or more scores. These scores can either be used to produce reports or deployed into operation systems.

Fifth, the reports generated are generally made available through a reporting system.

For smaller applications, a database can be used for the data mart and operational data store, and the reports can be produced in HTML and made available through a web server.

Q. Who is the author of this FAQ?

This FAQ is maintained by Robert L. Grossman.

10270  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 10, 2008, 04:54:37 PM
Geez, dude, chill.

Quote
I dunno, I haven't read the entire 352 page report so I can't state categorically that the shorter piece is accurate, but assuming it is, any embedded editorial lies in the long piece and not the synopsis.

**Here is the first clue: "Datamining doesn't work well" Work well as compared to what? Here is your task, find the terrorists hidden amongst 300 million people in the US before they kill innocents your are sworn to protect.**

Your original point was that the the original piece was an editorial. I replied that it appeared to be an accurate synopsis of a much longer report. Rather than responding to the distinction, you are demanding that I defend the 352 pages I've already stated I didn't read. If you think there are false statements in the synopsis or the report, by all means point them out; I'm certainly not claiming it's truth brought down from on high. But, before this piece, I've seen very little empirical study regarding the efficacy of data-mining, and hence when a comprehensive report is published I feel it's worth sharing.

****Again, efficacy as compared to what? Datamining isn't a silver bullet. There is no magical software that will give you a neat list of al qaeda operatives, but again it's something rather than just waiting to process massive crime scenes.*****

Quote
As to your second point, I have no problem with the government narrowly collating information about suspected terrorists so long as they abide by the laws and principles that make this country worth living in in the first place.

**What laws and principles are you alleging that have been violated? How many mass casualty attacks need to take place before you factor that into your quality of life estimates?**

Dude, I merely posted an interesting piece. If you need a list of laws sundry governmental organizations have violated, get on google and have at it. "Ruby Ridge" might be a good initial search term. If our esteemed global moderator doesn't want pieces posted unless all tangents are also fully addressed he can say so. It appears your argument is that we must behave like autocrats lest lotsa people die. My response, to which you didn't speak, is that doing so makes us what we battle.

****Really? Preventing terrorist attacks makes us just as bad as al qaeda? Ya think so?****

Quote
Unfortunately I suspect the ability to collect and collate data is growing far more quickly than is the case law that would help make sure it's applied in a constitutional matter. I don't think there is any reason to assume the federal government would handle vast amounts of personal data any better than it's handled the banking crisis, ethanol and other farm subsidies, second amendment interpretation, or any number of other items on an endless list.

**Give me a better option.**

I get a lot of grief from members of political parties because I refuse to claim an affiliation. "You can't effect change without belonging to a party within which you can work to achieve that change," seems to be the headset. Balderdash say I. There are principles that can be fought for without affiliation, and indeed I think both major parties have so prostituted themselves that there is value in sitting on the side and yelling at both to pay attention to the founding principles of this country.

Similarly, I'm not much swayed by arguments that say "provide a technique better than the ballpeen hammer or STFU." Even if the hammer is the only tool, I think there is value in making sure it is used as little as possible, stowed sooner rather than later, and that the principles that make us different from our enemy are kept in mind as any tool is wielded.

BTW, if dousing rods were the best means known for finding water, would you be arguing that we should all be walking around with forked sticks?

****Rather than dying of thirst, sure.****

Quote
Banging on peoples feet with a ballpeen hammer may be a really swell way of eliciting information, but I think doing so would turn us into what we are fighting. I expect some mullahs dream of a system that lets them track in minute detail a person's adherence to the one true faith; it scares me that we appear to be developing such a system as it has the potential of turning us into the thing we like least.

**Why do the same emotional arguments that are scoffed at when applied to guns are then embraced wholeheartedly when applied to government? Information technology, like firearms are just tools. It's the user of the tool that brings the element of morality to the equation. A scalpel is just a tool, it can save lives in the hands of medical professionals or be used by killers and rapists to commit crimes. Bemoaning newer, sharper scalpels because the potential for misuse doesn't allow for a realistic examination of violent crime and potential solutions to the problem.**

Exactly. And here arrives an empiric examination of a new tool's utility, and we are supposed to dismiss it out of hand because it doesn't concur with your conclusions. If the tool works without rending asunder our founding principles, by all means use it. But not even being allowed to measure and discuss a tool's appropriate use because it offends your sensibilities is silly. Our government is predicated on principles of checks and balances. My guess is that data mining capabilities are progressing at a faster rate than the checks against misuse are. You don't have to be a flaming ACLU member to express the hope that our shiny new tools don't do more harm than good.

****Datamining is nothing more than sorting through data, most of which was voluntarily submitted to private entities, looking for patterns that might be investigative leads. Unless you have very interesting associations with people doing bad things, Experian, Transunion and Equifax know much more about you than any local, state or federal entity does. It's marketers, not law enforcement that tracks your purchases, likes and dislikes. I subscribe to gun magazines, bingo I get junk mail from gun related business. I subscribed to the Atlantic and got marketing from the ACLU. Does that make me some sort of oppressed victim because my information was sold?

Law enforcement can do as little or as much as the public wants. Want policing to be purely reactive, fine. The next time there is a giant smoking hole in the midst of an American city, just take comfort knowing that no governmental entity looked through anyone's marketing data.****
10271  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 10, 2008, 03:44:47 PM
This is a perfect example of an editorial pretending to be a news article. The bias is obvious.

GM isn't this sort of like calling the kettle black?

You quote editorials all the same that are pretending (and not very well) to be news articles.
And most of them are terribly biased.  This one seems to have some basis of fact and truth.

I think my positions are very clear. I have positions and I advocate those and don't pretend to be impartial.
10272  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 10, 2008, 09:25:06 AM
I dunno, I haven't read the entire 352 page report so I can't state categorically that the shorter piece is accurate, but assuming it is, any embedded editorial lies in the long piece and not the synopsis.

**Here is the first clue: "Datamining doesn't work well" Work well as compared to what? Here is your task, find the terrorists hidden amongst 300 million people in the US before they kill innocents your are sworn to protect.**

As to your second point, I have no problem with the government narrowly collating information about suspected terrorists so long as they abide by the laws and principles that make this country worth living in in the first place.

**What laws and principles are you alleging that have been violated? How many mass casualty attacks need to take place before you factor that into your quality of life estimates?**

Unfortunately I suspect the ability to collect and collate data is growing far more quickly than is the case law that would help make sure it's applied in a constitutional matter. I don't think there is any reason to assume the federal government would handle vast amounts of personal data any better than it's handled the banking crisis, ethanol and other farm subsidies, second amendment interpretation, or any number of other items on an endless list.

**Give me a better option.**

Banging on peoples feet with a ballpeen hammer may be a really swell way of eliciting information, but I think doing so would turn us into what we are fighting. I expect some mullahs dream of a system that lets them track in minute detail a person's adherence to the one true faith; it scares me that we appear to be developing such a system as it has the potential of turning us into the thing we like least.

**Why do the same emotional arguments that are scoffed at when applied to guns are then embraced wholeheartedly when applied to government? Information technology, like firearms are just tools. It's the user of the tool that brings the element of morality to the equation. A scalpel is just a tool, it can save lives in the hands of medical professionals or be used by killers and rapists to commit crimes. Bemoaning newer, sharper scalpels because the potential for misuse doesn't allow for a realistic examination of violent crime and potential solutions to the problem.**
10273  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 09, 2008, 10:32:35 PM
Obama will finish off pax americana. Just wait for the horrors to come.
10274  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: October 08, 2008, 07:36:55 PM
How did Obama's mother enter the US with a newborn without legal documentation? I very much doubt you could have just flown to Hawaii from Kenya without US Customs/ INS having documentation for the infant flying with you. If this did happen, there would be a federal paper trail documenting this.
10275  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 08, 2008, 01:20:31 PM
Short of datamining, give me a better way of detecting individual terrorists, cells within the US BEFORE they strike..
10276  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: October 08, 2008, 01:18:09 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2008/10/08/barone-of-course-ayers-is-relevant/

Barone: Of course Ayers is relevant
POSTED AT 12:00 PM ON OCTOBER 8, 2008 BY ED MORRISSEY   


Greta van Susteren asked Michael Barone whether the topic of William Ayers has any relevance to Barack Obama’s candidacy last night after the debate. He replies that it’s at least as legitimate as Sarah Palin’s per diem, and gives three reasons for why it should get more attention:


Barone’s three reasons:

Obama stresses his commonality with the American people.  Do most people feel comfortable working closely with unrepentant domestic terrorists who still want to overthrow the capitalist system in America?
Obama presses educational issues as part of his campaign.  He spent years working with Ayers on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which pushed efforts to create primary educational organizations that would create political activists for the Left - and which largely failed in any of its intended purposes.
Obama has lied and obfuscated about his relationship with Ayers.  Clearly, Ayers was not just “some guy in the neighborhood”, but a political adviser at least on educational issues who provided a key launch for Obama’s political career.
I think the latter two are more compelling than the first.  Perhaps a better way of structuring the first point would be to relate it to Obama’s insistence that he has better judgment than John McCain to lead the nation.  Can anyone believe that a man who worked with an unrepentant domestic terrorist for years and considered him “mainstream” has the judgment necessary for the Presidency?

Expect Sarah Palin to continue to lead the charge on this topic.  She has effectively used the media scrutiny surrounding her to get national media coverage on Ayers, with surprising results.  So far, the Obama campaign simply has not effectively rebutted it, and in fact has made the damage worse.
10277  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 08, 2008, 01:10:58 PM
This is a perfect example of an editorial pretending to be a news article. The bias is obvious.
10278  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 07, 2008, 10:10:25 AM
http://michellemalkin.com/2008/10/07/the-forbidden-skit-full-transcript-and-screenshots-of-snls-sorossandler-bailout-satire/

Funny. Accurate. Suppressed.
10279  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Cooties in Training on: October 06, 2008, 05:08:08 PM
http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=10051

OSHA
10280  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: October 06, 2008, 05:02:23 PM
Worst case, we look at it as a time to rebuild the republican brand, as the dems will really fcuk things up with both houses of congress and the white house. Don't give up yet though, once the public gets to look at Ocommie's ring of scum, he may well lose.
10281  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 06, 2008, 03:32:10 PM
The vast majority of data collection/mining in the US takes place in the private sector, not the public. Unless you are the target of a serious criminal investigation, private industry knows much more about you than Uncle Sam.
10282  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 06, 2008, 02:57:33 PM
Well, these are both taking place in the UK. Creating a DNA registry for children that haven't committed a criminal offense seems Orwellian and probably unproductive. As far as the datamining, I find it less bothersome.
10283  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: October 06, 2008, 01:53:42 PM
Obama's character is pretty evident, and it ain't Lincolnesque.
10284  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: October 06, 2008, 01:46:50 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2008/10/06/videos-the-ayers-connection/

More on Obama's terror connection and the attempts to hide it.
10285  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 06, 2008, 01:22:30 PM
Who wants to bet if Gwen Ifill will point out the flaws in Biden's statements?  rolleyes
10286  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 06, 2008, 12:56:22 PM
Isn't there already a thread established?
10287  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: October 06, 2008, 12:40:05 PM
http://www.city-journal.org/2008/eon0430jm.html

JOHN M. MURTAGH
Fire in the Night
The Weathermen tried to kill my family.
30 April 2008

During the April 16 debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, moderator George Stephanopoulos brought up “a gentleman named William Ayers,” who “was part of the Weather Underground in the 1970s. They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol, and other buildings. He’s never apologized for that.” Stephanopoulos then asked Obama to explain his relationship with Ayers. Obama’s answer: “The notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was eight years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn’t make much sense, George.” Obama was indeed only eight in early 1970. I was only nine then, the year Ayers’s Weathermen tried to murder me.

In February 1970, my father, a New York State Supreme Court justice, was presiding over the trial of the so-called “Panther 21,” members of the Black Panther Party indicted in a plot to bomb New York landmarks and department stores. Early on the morning of February 21, as my family slept, three gasoline-filled firebombs exploded at our home on the northern tip of Manhattan, two at the front door and the third tucked neatly under the gas tank of the family car. (Today, of course, we’d call that a car bomb.) A neighbor heard the first two blasts and, with the remains of a snowman I had built a few days earlier, managed to douse the flames beneath the car. That was an act whose courage I fully appreciated only as an adult, an act that doubtless saved multiple lives that night.

I still recall, as though it were a dream, thinking that someone was lifting and dropping my bed as the explosions jolted me awake, and I remember my mother’s pulling me from the tangle of sheets and running to the kitchen where my father stood. Through the large windows overlooking the yard, all we could see was the bright glow of flames below. We didn’t leave our burning house for fear of who might be waiting outside. The same night, bombs were thrown at a police car in Manhattan and two military recruiting stations in Brooklyn. Sunlight, the next morning, revealed three sentences of blood-red graffiti on our sidewalk: FREE THE PANTHER 21; THE VIET CONG HAVE WON; KILL THE PIGS.

For the next 18 months, I went to school in an unmarked police car. My mother, a schoolteacher, had plainclothes detectives waiting in the faculty lounge all day. My brother saved a few bucks because he didn’t have to rent a limo for the senior prom: the NYPD did the driving. We all made the best of the odd new life that had been thrust upon us, but for years, the sound of a fire truck’s siren made my stomach knot and my heart race. In many ways, the enormity of the attempt to kill my entire family didn’t fully hit me until years later, when, a father myself, I was tucking my own nine-year-old John Murtagh into bed.

Though no one was ever caught or tried for the attempt on my family’s life, there was never any doubt who was behind it. Only a few weeks after the attack, the New York contingent of the Weathermen blew themselves up making more bombs in a Greenwich Village townhouse. The same cell had bombed my house, writes Ron Jacobs in The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground. And in late November that year, a letter to the Associated Press signed by Bernardine Dohrn, Ayers’s wife, promised more bombings.

As the association between Obama and Ayers came to light, it would have helped the senator a little if his friend had at least shown some remorse. But listen to Ayers interviewed in the New York Times on September 11, 2001, of all days: “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.” Translation: “We meant to kill that judge and his family, not just damage the porch.” When asked by the Times if he would do it all again, Ayers responded: “I don’t want to discount the possibility.”

Though never a supporter of Obama, I admired him for a time for his ability to engage our imaginations, and especially for his ability to inspire the young once again to embrace the political system. Yet his myopia in the last few months has cast a new light on his “politics of change.” Nobody should hold the junior senator from Illinois responsible for his friends’ and supporters’ violent terrorist acts. But it is fair to hold him responsible for a startling lack of judgment in his choice of mentors, associates, and friends, and for showing a callous disregard for the lives they damaged and the hatred they have demonstrated for this country. It is fair, too, to ask what those choices say about Obama’s own beliefs, his philosophy, and the direction he would take our nation.

At the conclusion of his 2001 Times interview, Ayers said of his upbringing and subsequent radicalization: “I was a child of privilege and I woke up to a world on fire.”

Funny thing, Bill: one night, so did I.

John M. Murtagh is a practicing attorney, an adjunct professor of public policy at the Fordham University College of Liberal Studies, and a member of the city council in Yonkers, New York, where he resides with his wife and two sons.
10288  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: October 05, 2008, 11:07:01 PM
If a natural oil seep, seeps into a body of water, does that count as pollution?
10289  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: October 05, 2008, 11:04:41 PM
Fitzgerald: Islam for Infidels, Part One
Here is Part One of "Islam for Infidels," a new three-part series by Jihad Watch Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald. (Part 2 is here, the first section of Part 3 is here, and the rest of Part 3 is here.)

I. Taqiyya and Tu-Quoque
NPR’s All Things Considered. January 7, 2005 • "Jihad" is one of the few Arabic words used in English. It means "spiritual struggle," but many Muslims have pointed out that "jihad" is almost always used in English in the context of terrorism, even though the actual meaning is broader. Commentator Anisa Mehdi would like to propose a word that could be used instead of "jihad." -- From the NPR Website

Anisa Mehdi, a guest on NPR’s All Things Considered, has suggested that for the word “Jihad” – possibly the word of greatest significance in the texts, and history, of Islam – another word could be used. For Muslims, she insisted, were made uneasy by the continued use of this word “in the context of terrorism” when its “actual meaning is broader.” And so, to prevent unnecessary harm to Islam’s image, she asks if it might not be possible to avoid the word “Jihad” altogether.

She has a point. And we will sharpen her point, with a pencil-sharpener of our own choosing. But first it would be useful to describe the current state of Infidel knowledge about Islam, and of Muslim attempts to shape or limit that knowledge. An army of apologists for Islam, both Muslim and non-Muslim, is abroad in the land today, yet many Infidels seem not to be following the script. Some appear determined to educate themselves, rather than rely on the Outreach Programs of local imams in local mosques or, for that matter, on National Public Radio. Not everyone seems quite as willing, as they once were, to be satisfied by the pabulum of Karen Armstrong or the coffee-table books of John Esposito. Infidels have discovered websites where four or even five Quran’ic translations are laid out for comparative reading, a horizontal pentapla that may be accessed at www.usc.edu. At the same site, or at many others, Infidels can now read for themselves hundreds of the Hadith (the sayings and acts of Muhammad), as collected and catalogued according to its relative authenticity by such trusted Hadith-compilers, or muhaddithin, as Bukhari and Muslim (a proper name). In addition to reading Qur’an and Hadith, Infidels can read the sira, or life of Muhammad. As al-insan al-kamil, the Model of Perfect Man, the figure of Muhammad is at the center of Islam, and everything he is reported to have done or said, or even remained silent about, in 7th century Arabia, remains as vivid, compelling, and emulous today.

And finally, not content with reading Qur’an and Hadith and sira, those Infidels have embarked on learning about the history of Jihad-conquest of those vast lands where, far more numerous, settled, wealthy, and advanced populations, of Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Buddhists all lived and, upon conquest, when not killed or forcibly converted at once to Islam, were permitted to live as “dhimmis,” as non-Muslims under Muslim rule were called, subject to carefully elaborated financial, legal, political, and social disabilities that made life for them one of humiliation, degradation, and physical insecurity.

It has been quite an effort to prevent Infidels from getting the wrong (that is to say, the right) impression of Islam, at least until such time as Muslims in the West currently singing the praises of “pluralism” no longer have need for Infidel good will and tolerance. To date, the twin techniques of “Taqiyya” and Tu-Quoque have been relied on. “Taqiyya” is the religiously-sanctioned doctrine, with its origins in Shi’a Islam but now practiced by non-Shi’a as well, of deliberate dissimulation about religious matters that may be undertaken to protect Islam, and the Believers. A related term, of broader application, is “kitman,” which is defined as “mental reservation.” An example of “Taqiyya” would be the insistence of a Muslim apologist that “of course” there is freedom of conscience in Islam, and then quoting that Qur’anic verse -- “There shall be no compulsion in religion.” But the impression given will be false, for there has been no mention of the Muslim doctrine of abrogation, or naskh, whereby such an early verse as that about “no compulsion in religion” has been cancelled out by later, far more intolerant and malevolent verses. In any case, history shows that within Islam there is, and always has been, “compulsion in religion” for Muslims, and for non-Muslims. The “compulsion” for Muslims comes from the treatment of apostasy as an act punishable by death. And though “dhimmis” are allowed to practice their religion, they do so under conditions of such burdens and restrictions that many, not as an act of conscience but rather as a response to inexorable Muslim pressure, have converted (or “reverted”) to Islam.

“Kitman” is close to “taqiyya,” but rather than outright dissimulation, it consists in telling only a part of the truth, with “mental reservation” justifying the omission of the rest. One example may suffice. When a Muslim maintains that “jihad” really means “a spiritual struggle,” and fails to add that this definition is a recent one in Islam (little more than a century old), he misleads by holding back, and is practicing “kitman.” When he adduces, in support of this doubtful proposition, the hadith in which Muhammad, returning home from one of his many battles, is reported to have said (as known from a chain of transmitters, or isnad), that he had returned from “the Lesser Jihad to the Greater Jihad” and does not add what he also knows to be true, that this is a “weak” hadith, regarded by the most-respected muhaddithin as of doubtful authenticity, he is further practicing “kitman.”

The use of the word in Qur’an and Hadith, and constantly through 1350 years of Muslim history, has certainly endowed the word “Jihad” with a meaning of struggle, usually through military means, to expand the domain of Islam. Almost all Muslims understand that “warfare” (qital, qatala) is the essential meaning of the word. But Infidels, who prefer to think otherwise, have eagerly snapped up little guides such as that put out a few years ago by Karen Armstrong, a compleat apologist and no scholar of Islam, who made sure to quote that hadith in support of her proposition that Jihad is a “spiritual struggle.” The meaning of words comes from their common and accepted usage, not from what someone wishes to convince us should, for the purpose of a temporarily comforting harmony, be believed to be the meaning.

Jihad as military conquest is of course discussed in the Qur’an and Hadith, and in the commentaries on the Qur’an. And while “qital” or combat is mentioned 27 times in the Qur’an, other instruments of Jihad are also commonly discussed; any Islamic website will provide examples. One is the use of “wealth” to create the conditions that will help to spread Islam. Another is the use of “pen, speech” – persuasion, propaganda -- to spread Islam. Still another instrument of Jihad discussed, for example, in the pages of Muslim newspapers, is the use of demography as a weapon of Jihad. Muslim populations within the Bilad al-kufr, or Lands of the Infidels, are seen as helping to spread through Da’wa, the Call to Islam, and in their own increasing presence within Infidel lands, as contributing to the inexorable spread of Islam.

The situation in the world today borders on the fantastic. Never before in history has one civilization allowed large numbers of those who come from an alien, and immutably hostile situation, to settle deep within that first civilization’s borders. Never before have the members of one civilization failed to investigate, and even willfully refused to investigate, or to listen to those who warn about, the consequences for all non-Muslims of the belief-system of Islam. In history, the phenomenon of the Barbarians at the Gates is hardly new. Those barbarians lay siege; if they win, they enter in triumph. Should they lose, the advanced civilization survives. But never before have the gates been opened, to an entering force that has not even been identified or understood. Never before have the inhabitants of the by-now vulnerable city made efforts not to recognize, or realize, what they have done, and what they have undone. That demographic intrusion shows no signs of diminishing. The systematic building of mosques and madrasas, paid for by Saudi Arabia, everywhere in the Western world, helps to make the conduct of Muslim life easier. Western populations have been trained to make much of “celebrating diversity” and “promoting difference” and constructing, on a base of militant but unexamined pluralism, an edifice of legal rights and entitlements. These rights, these entitlements, this militant pluralism are exploited by Muslims who do not believe in pluralism. Nor do they accept the individual rights of conscience and free speech, the legal equality of men and women, and of religious and racial minorities, recognized, for example, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Their current claim to support pluralism is based on the need to protect, and increase the power of, the Muslim umma, or Community, within the West, until such time as that umma no longer needs to pretend to have any interest in Western pluralism and Western values.

“Taqiyya” and “kitman” are no longer needed for Muslims addressing purely Muslim audiences. While in the early days, the Shi’a were afraid of Sunni persecution, and therefore needed to practice taqiyya, today both Sunni and Shi’a, by and large, do not find that they need dissimulate about the nature of Islam for other Muslims. It is only when non-Muslims may overhear, and begin to understand, an intra-Muslim discussion, that the need to dissimulate is emphasized. Yassir Arafat could, with impunity, refer to the Treaty of al-Hudaibiyya in speeches to fellow Muslims. He was fortunate; no Westerners, or even Israelis, seemed to think that the significance of that repeated allusion to Muhammad’s treaty with the Meccans in 628 A.D. needed to be examined.

Among those who see no need to practice taqiyya when rousing fellow Muslims, but instead see the need to remind their listeners of the central tenets and teachings of Islam, are Osama Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. The canonical texts support their view of the need for, the duty for, Jihad. And they receive a good deal of support, and admiration, all over the Muslim world. For they are not renegades, not unorthodox, not the promoters of a wild misinterpretation of Islam. Their view of Islam is exactly what Muhammad, Ibn Taymiyya, Al-Ghazali, Ibn Khaldun, and all the greatest Qur’anic commentators, muhaddithin, and theologians in the history of Islam, would have understood and shared. Some Muslims believe that at the moment, Islam is too weak, and therefore, for the sake of Islam itself, the truth of its teachings should not be so clearly expressed, and acted upon. It may be that Bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri themselves will reach the same conclusion. That would not constitute an abandonment of Jihad, but rather a prudent relinquishing of terrorism as a weapon of Jihad, and greater emphasis on other, tactically more effective, weapons of Jihad, such as Da’wa and demographic increase. The idea that “Jihad” is primarily a “spiritual struggle” would cause laughter everywhere in the world’s mosques and madrasas, for Muslims know that this definition is flatly contradicted by their texts and their entire history. Yet, the same imam who gives a fiery speech about Jihad can show up at an Interfaith Rally and, with seemingly complete conviction, assure his Infidel audience that, of course, “Jihad” refers only to “a spiritual struggle.” This kind of thing is second nature.

Infidels need to understand that however wary they may pride themselves on being, they are still not prepared for the world of the Muslim East. After many decades of work in Egypt, Lord Edward Cecil affixed, as the epigraph to his once-famous Memoirs of an Egyptian Official, the following: “Here lies one who tried to hustle the East.” Many Englishmen regarded that epigraph as the perfect summary of their own encounters with the Muslim world. “War is deceit,” Muhammad said, and those who regard him as al-insan al-kamil, the Most Perfect of Men, have become past masters at the art of deceit. It is nearly impossible to find a Muslim who will admit to the full truth of what Islam teaches about Infidels, though occasionally it happens. Ex-Muslims are just as well-versed in the teachings of Islam as those who remain Muslims, for they do not suddenly cease to understand Islam when they leave the faith.. They remain the best sources of knowledge about what it means to grow up as a Muslim, in a Muslim society, surrounded by the attitudes toward Infidels that Islam engenders and promotes.

Sometimes Taqiyya is not enough. Muslim spokesmen often attempt to convince an audience of Infidels that Islam is a religion of “peace” and “tolerance.” This, nowadays, works less well than it used to, and if an audience shows signs of not being completely convinced, another tack – that of Tu-Quoque – is attempted. Now these same spokesmen, who a minute before were all sweetness-and-light, begin to attack Christianity and Judaism for their own lack of “peace” and “tolerance.” They support this attack with bloodcurdling passages from Leviticus or some obscure text, possibly attributed to a rabbi from 2500 years ago.

The Crusades are presented by Muslim apologists as a defining moment in Muslim-Christian relations, a moment in which the peaceful and inoffensive Muslims were attacked, without cause. In this version, not a word is uttered about the centuries of Muslim Jihad-conquest that preceded the Crusades – nearly 400 years of seizing lands formerly occupied by Christians in Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt, North Africa (where, among other Fathers of the Church, Tertullian and St. Augustine were born and lived).

Nor is what prompted the Crusades ever mentioned. For in 1009 A.D. the Fatimid Caliph Hakim had ordered the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and for almost a century the Muslims steadily made encroachments on the Christian presence in, and access to, what was for Western Christendom the Holy Land. And there were, for a thousand years, until the 19th century, a constant series of Muslim raiding-parties that came by sea, and attacked the coastal villages throughout Europe, as far as Ireland and even, in one instance, Iceland. Villages were razed, and many villagers killed, and a million European Christians were kidnapped (see the recent White Gold, by Giles Milton), brought back to dar al-Islam, enslaved, and often forcibly converted. The Crusades have to be understood in their full context.

In Islam the world is uncompromisingly divided between dar al-Islam, the House of Islam, and dar al-harb, the House of War, where Infidels have not yet been subjugated to Islam. “Islam is to dominate and not to be dominated” and eventually, all of the world, which belongs to Allah, will become part of dar al-Islam. The Jihad is the “struggle” to expand Islam, to create the conditions where Muslims may rule, and Islam may prevail. This Jihad to spread Islam has lasted 1350 years. It has no end, until its goal is reached, whatever periods of quiescence must be observed because of lack of effective instruments or power. Not every Muslim heart beats with passion for this idea, but around the world, a great many do. Furthermore, Infidels can never know when a Muslim who seemed so Westernized, so removed from such matters, may undergo a transformation, into a much more menacing True Believer.

The Crusades were different. They were limited in both time and space. There was no interest in re-conquering, for Christianity, any territories held by Muslims beyond the Holy Land itself. The Crusades lasted a mere 200 years. Yet this difference is never noted by Muslims intent on blaming “the Crusades” and not the history of Jihad-conquest of Christian lands, and of the subjugation of Christian populations, to Muslim rule and to Muslim oppression (for the “dhimmi” was not so much a member of a “protected people” as of an “oppressed” –because deliberately humiliated and degraded -- “people”).

Tu-Quoque has led to real absurdities. At one gathering with a Muslim panel and an audience of Infidels, a Muslim professor recently assured his listeners that “Ku Klux Klan members used to sing Christian hymns as they crucified Afro-Americans.” No one bothered to point out that the Ku Klux Klan did not “crucify,” but lynched, its victims; that the Grand Kleagle did not lead his followers in song, much less Christian hymns, during these lynchings, and that the stoutest enemies of slavery, and then of the Ku Klux Klan, were to be found in the churches themselves, beginning with such celebrated abolitionist ministers as the Reverend Theodore Parker and Henry Ward Beecher.

Though NPR has had hosts and guests who allude to Islam, those hosts, and those guests, almost without exception, are well-versed graduates of the Taqiyya and Tu-Quoque schools or, as the taxonomically-minded rhetoricians would say, suppressio veri and suggestio falsi. Those with degrees in Taqiyya insist on focusing on that “handful of extremists,” and “radical Islamists” who, of course, have nothing to do with “the real Islam,” the “peaceful, tolerant Islam” practiced by “the vast majority of moderate Muslims.” Graduates of the Tu-Quoque Academy (whose diplomas are still written in Latin) like to refer airily to “fundamentalists on all sides” who pose an equal threat to one another, and how important it is to “rein in the crazies” that “every society” and “every religion” throws up. But now, at least one invited guest commentator on NPR has suggested that things need to be taken one step further, and the word “Jihad” be dispensed with altogether. And should that step be taken, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men will not be able to put NPR together again.
10290  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Cooties in Training on: October 05, 2008, 08:44:55 PM
Blood poisoning - An officer's worst nightmare



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by Lois Pilant

For many officers the greatest fear is not some punk's bullet, it's the business end of a junkie's dirty needle.

You might think that getting stuck by a needle in the course of a shift would be the least of an officer's worries, especially when there are so many other things to worry about: like how fast a traffic stop can go bad; the irrational behavior of the players in a domestic violence call; the stupidity of the guy who flees the police and the risks inherent in a chase.

But talk to Officer Don Gause, an eight-year veteran of the Myrtle Beach, S.C. Police Department, and he'll tell you that a needle stick or accidental exposure to HIV, hepatitis, or any other bloodborne pathogen is absolutely his greatest fear.

"On a traffic stop, you know the potential is there to be shot. On a domestic violence call, you know how fast a complainant can become a defendant. But to be stuck by a needle on a pat down, that's something else. If you get shot, you know right away if you're going to be all right or not. With a needle stick, you won''t know for six months. That's scary."


How scary? Just ask Cpl. Darryl Bolke, a 14-year veteran of the Ontario, Calif. Police Department. He says getting stuck by a needle "ranks right up there with the worst thing I''ve had to go through in my life."

Bolke was stuck on the index finger while searching a man he''d arrested for solicitation of a prostitute. Although he asked if the man had any sharp objects in his pocket, and although he noticed an object on the initial pat down, the object didn''t feel like a syringe. It felt, he said, like a crack pipe. Bolke put his hand in the man''s pocket and was immediately jabbed by a needle sticking out of a small, 2-inch piece of plastic that had been fashioned into a homemade syringe. What made Bolke''s situation worse was that it happened 10 years ago, when there was less information about HIV and other bloodborne diseases, when there were no prophylactic drugs given post exposure, and when getting a blood sample from the source meant fighting your way through a battery of privacy laws, the courts, and the medical community.

"I had no intimate contact with anyone in my family for three months following the first blood test. The crook was treated like the victim by the courts and the medical community, and I had no rights at all. I felt like I'd been victimized twice," Bolke says.

Times have changed. Today''s officers are offered immunization with drugs like GlaxoSmithKline''s Twinrix for Hepatitis A and B; education in the prevention of and protection from exposure to bloodborne pathogens and tuberculosis; personal protective equipment; training in search techniques that use a baton or the blade of the hand; and post-exposure counseling and medical care. In addition, there are now laws that require the source to provide a blood sample on request or through a court order. Finally, today''s officers have available an abundance of reassuring statistics that detail exposure rates and the rarity of exposure converting to a disease.

High Frequency, High Risk

Such precautions have not dispelled many officers' continuing fears of exposure to HIV, hepatitis, or tuberculosis. One reason is that in the context of risk management, exposure comes from job duties that are considered high frequency: arrests and physical searches; vehicle searches; blood and body fluids at accidents and crime scenes, just to name a few. Because exposure and subsequent conversion can be fatal, these activities are also considered high risk.

Added to this deadly mix is the fact that an officer probably will, during the course of a shift, come into contact with an infected person.

In 1996, an estimated 98,000 to 145,000 HIV-positive inmates were released from prisons and jails. Also in 1996, between 1.3 million and 1.4 million inmates released from prison or jail were infected with hepatitis C. That same year, approximately 155,000 released prisoners had current or chronic hepatitis B, while 566,000 were released with latent TB infection. In addition, between 12 and 35 percent of the total number of people in the United States with some sort of communicable diseases passed through a correctional facility.

And the one thing many of these disease carriers have in common is further contact with police. According to a report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 67 percent of the nearly 300,000 people released (from 15 test states) in 1994 were rearrested for a new offense, almost exclusively a felony or serious misdemeanor. They had accumulated 4.1 million arrest charges prior to their most recent imprisonment and another 744,000 charges within three years of their release (an average of four new crimes each).

Given these figures, it doesn''t take a rocket scientist to calculate that the inordinate number of infected releasees and the high rate of recidivism almost guarantees contact between an infected person and a police officer. Those numbers do not include contact with illegal aliens and the homeless, who often spend time in crowded, unventilated shelters that can be breeding grounds for diseases like tuberculosis and bacterial meningitis. It also doesn't include the drug addicted, a group that typically has little concern for health care or personal cleanliness, and even less concern for those who arrest them.

Lying in Wait

For years, the scariest of infectious diseases was HIV. Today's nemesis, however, is hepatitis C (hep C), a virus that is spread by contact with the blood of an infected person and eventually causes liver disease. While health officials estimate that about 1 million people in the United States are HIV infected, about 3 million to 4 million Americans are infected with hep C.

At least 75 percent of the people infected with hep C don''t even know it, according to Debbie Borst, a registered nurse who does in-service health care training for South Carolina police agencies. Those numbers held true in a recent statewide study that required a hep C test for tattoo artists renewing their licenses. The study revealed that more than 60 percent of those tested were infected with hep C and completely unaware.

"I call it the stealth virus," Borst says. "It can lie dormant for five to 20 years, and while it''s doing that it''s eating the liver cells. You may have some flu-like symptoms in the beginning, but when those go away, you are generally symptom free. Then one day you wake up with jaundiced skin, orange urine, and yellow eyeballs, or you may have liver cancer."

Hepatitis C was a stealth virus for health care professionals as well. The disease has been around for 50 years, since its first transmission was documented through blood transfusions during World War II. But the virus was only clinically identified in the late ''80s when technology finally caught up with it.

Several factors make hep C a deadlier adversary than HIV. For example, HIV cannot live outside the body, whereas the hep C virus can live outside the body for up to seven days. One drop of HIV-positive blood contains about eight live viral particles, while one drop of hep C-infected blood contains about 100, making transmission of the virus that much more likely.

Hepatitis A and B are equally virulent, but less likely to be transmitted. Although both can live for longer periods outside the body, public safety and health care employers are now required to offer immunization against hepatitis B. Hepatitis A, the oldest form of the virus, is spread by ingesting contaminated food or water. Although police officers are certainly not immune, their chances of exposure to hep A or hep B are smaller than those with hep C and HIV.

Tuberculosis and bacterial meningitis also have been pinpointed as problems for law enforcement officers. These are airborne diseases that are transmitted by breathing or coughing on someone. Among law enforcement officers, the most susceptible to these diseases are those who work in prisons and jails, since transmission generally requires that the bacterial count build to a certain level before infection.

According to Laura Herring, the occupational infectious disease nurse for the city of Portland, it would take longer than a ride to the stationhouse for someone to become infected with TB or bacterial meningitis. "The people who might be vulnerable would be those who have to have face-to-face interaction with an infected individual over a period of several hours," she says.

Fear vs. Reality

Which brings us to the real question: Exactly how vulnerable are you as police officers to contracting disease from a needle stick, a blood splash, or convict spit?

"The most important thing is to keep it in perspective," Herring says. "The way to do that is to be sure you have all the information about the diseases, how they are transmitted, and the rate of conversion or the likelihood of actually contracting the disease after exposure."

Conversion rates are actually strikingly low. According to the Centers for Disease Control, those exposed to HIV have a 0.3 percent chance (1 in 300) of becoming HIV positive. The risk after exposure from contact to the eye, nose, or mouth is approximately 0.1 percent, or 1 in 1,000. The risk after exposure of the skin to HIV-infected blood is estimated to be less than 0.1 percent. And a small amount of blood on intact skin probably poses no risk at all. In fact, there has been no documented case of HIV transmission due to an exposure involving a small amount of blood on intact skin. The risk may be higher if the skin is damaged-for example, by a recent cut-or if the contact involves a large area of skin or is prolonged (for example, being covered in blood for hours).

The risk of conversion to hepatitis is slightly higher. Those who received hepatitis B vaccine and developed immunity to the virus are at virtually no risk for infection. For the unvaccinated person, the risk from a single needle stick or a cut exposure to hep B-infected blood ranges from 6 to 30 percent, and depends on the level of the virus and its antigens in the source''s blood. Of those exposed to hep C from a needle stick or cut, the risk of infection is approximately 1.8 percent. The risk following a blood splash is unknown, but is believed to be very small.

But just because the conversion rates are low does not mean you shouldn''t be cautious. Diseases like HIV, AIDS, and hepatitis are deadly and therefore should engender a certain amount of fear. "Fear is good. It keeps you alive," one officer said. "Panic is bad because you''ll blow it."

"I know I have to be careful," adds Officer Skip Chatford, a patrol officer with the Corona (Calif.) Police Department. "But I don't worry about it every day. When I do a search, I don''t stick my hands in people''s pockets if I can help it. I pull at the top of the pocket and roll the liner out. I just keep rolling until the stuff inside comes out. If I know I''m going to a stabbing or a shooting, I stop and put on gloves before I get there. I stop and think before I do anything. I try to stay aware of what is happening and not rush in without thinking. I feel like I have the education and the equipment I need to protect myself. That''s what has dispelled any initial fear I may have."

Lois Pilant is the former editor of a law enforcement magazine, a writer for the National Institute of Justice, and a frequent contributor to POLICE.
10291  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: October 05, 2008, 08:24:37 PM
Not my area of expertise,but they are about as sturdy as modern tech allows for, as I understand. Each rig is a huge investment for the company that owns it and they want them protected and producing oil whenever possible.
10292  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: October 05, 2008, 08:10:35 PM
Just pointing out that Mother Nature was making oil slicks long before humans ever figured out how to use oil for anything.
10293  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: October 05, 2008, 08:08:10 PM
 MSNBC.com
More offshore oil drilling might clean beaches
By Times Staff
Santa Maria Times
updated 10:16 p.m. MT, Sat., Sept. 6, 2008

Seeping into the controversy about more offshore oil production is a dispute over whether increased drilling locally would lead to less oil oozing from natural seeps on the ocean floor.

Environmentalists contend no drilling-related reduction in seepage is likely but others, led by the advocacy group Stop Our Seeps (SOS), insist drilling would slow some natural seeps and benefit the environment.

The two sides differ sharply in their interpretations of the limited amount of scientific research done so far on that question - and the significance of a 1999 study by a group of UCSB professors who measured undersea seeps around Platform Holly off Goleta.

That study concluded natural seepage of oil and gas from the ocean floor in one square kilometer area around the platform declined by 50 percent between 1973 and 1995, possibly because the drilling reduced pressure in the subsea basin.

SOS spokesmen tout those findings as evidence that more offshore drilling would reduce natural seeps, which are collectively spewing tens of thousands of barrels of oil a year - along with large quantities of natural gas - into ocean waters locally.

Environmentalists and one of the study's authors caution, however, that extrapolating the 1999 data to a broader section of the Santa Barbara County coastline is scientifically unsound.

"The suggestion that somehow drilling for oil will be good for the environment by reducing oil and gas seeps is simply bad science," asserted Abraham Powell, president of Get Oil Out (GOO), in a press release Wednesday by four environmental organizations.

Joining in the statement were the Environmental Defense Center of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara County Action Network (SBCAN) and the Community Environmental Council of Santa Barbara.

Oil and tar have been present along the county's shores dating back to the earliest settlements by Native Americans, and remain a bane today for surfers and other beachgoers.

UCSB Professor Bruce Luyendyk, one of the study's six authors, strongly cautioned against exaggerating its findings during a marathon hearing on oil issues Tuesday before the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

"Our 1999 UCSB studies were made on a special case of marine seeps; one of the world's most active," Luyendyk noted. "However, these seeps occur over a limited area. To extrapolate the findings of our studies beyond the Coal Oil Point area cannot yet be substantiated, and there are many reasons to caution against generalizing our study results to the greater Santa Barbara Channel, much less to the California continental shelf."

Luyendyk is a marine geophysics professor in the university's Earth Sciences Department.

During a phone interview Wednesday, he said his "main complaint is that these various proponents (of increasing offshore drilling) have taken our study and extrapolated it into unknown territory. I don't think there's a logical or scientific basis for that."

Nonetheless, the board voted 3-2 - with the trio of North County supervisors prevailing - to send a letter to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger encouraging him to consider allowing more oil drilling off county shores.

"I was very pleased with the outcome of the supervisors' hearing," said Dave Cross, vice president of the Committee to Improve North County, which favors expanded oil production to boost county revenues and help lower dependence on foreign oil. "Clearly the evidence is there that oil drilling does reduce pressure that causes seeps," and the natural seepage from those subsea basins.

"I think increased oil production is a benefit, not just for the environment" but economically as well, he added.

Critics like SBCAN's executive director, Deborah Brasket of Orcutt, counter that drilling advocates are using the seeps issue as a false argument for boosting production and oil company profits, despite the environmental risks.

"There have just not been enough (scientific) studies on this" to conclude that more drilling off local shores would reduce natural seeps, Brasket said.

"Offshore oil drilling is not the panacea touted by Big Oil and friends," she added, "but yet another ploy to boost profits for oil companies, prolong our dependence on oil and delay the development of renewable energy."

State Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, also joined in the political fray by sending a letter to the supervisors urging them not to seek any policy change that would allow more offshore drilling.

"One has to ask why you are even considering such a request," he wrote. "Making such a significant change in our county's policy regarding offshore oil drilling should at least be based on accuracy and fact, not hysteria and conjecture."

However, SOS co-founder Bruce Allen staunchly defends his groups' use of the 1999 study results to argue that more drilling would be environmentally beneficial.

"It's clear there are many (natural) seep zones beyond Coal Oil Point that are very active," Allen said Thursday.

He cited a 2003 paper presented to the American Association of Petroleum Geologists that suggested the offshore Santa Maria Basin, between Point Conception and Point Sal, "contains the greatest known concentration of hydrocarbon seeps � in the world." Only two of the 13 subsea oil fields in that area "are not overlain by active seeps," the paper stated, according to Allen.

SOS, formerly known as Bring Oil Back, was formed about four years ago, and is funded mostly by donations from private individuals, Allen said. He acknowledged, though, that some of its funding is grant money from the oil company Venoco Inc., which is seeking approval to expand its drilling operations at Platform Holly, off the coast from Devereux Slough in Goleta.

Allen said he was unsure the amount of the Venoco gave to SOS, and referred that question to the group's executive director, who could not be reached for comment.

Much of the Santa Maria Basin has Monterey shale geologic formations possibly similar to those studied at Coal Oil Point, he added. While the 1999 study doesn't prove that seepage reductions would result from more drilling in other areas, "I think a good case could be made that the same effect would occur elsewhere" if geologic conditions are similar.

However, another of the study's authors, UCSB Earth Science Professor Jordan Clark, voiced concern about those findings being applied to other areas without further scientific study

"I can see where further drilling in the Coal Oil Point area would reduce seepage because there are natural seeps there," he said. "Drilling in other areas would probably not have the same effect."

Yet, based on scientific literature and the UCSB research at Coal Oil Point, "I think there is a linkage between a reduction in seepage and increased oil production. The physics would also tell you that should happen" in areas with pre-existing, natural seeps. "If you start pumping oil out of the ground with wells, not as much needs to leave by seepages," Clark said.

What are seeps?

Oil and methane gas created in the heat and pressure under the ocean floor flows upward through faults and cracks in rocks. Plumes of oil-coated methane bubbles reach the surface, creating natural oil slicks.

The natural seeps of crude oil and natural gas flowing into the ocean on and near the coast of California are among the largest and most active concentration of such seeps in the world.

Seeps off Coal Oil Point near UCSB put an average of 150-170 barrels of crude oil and 5 million cubic feet of natural gas into the ocean every day.

More than 1 million barrels of oil have seeped off the Southern and Central California coast since 1980.

Crude oil seeping into the sea from Coal Oil Point alone is equal to about 55,000 barrels of oil a year. About 1.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas is seeping annually into the atmosphere.

Seeps produce 122% more air pollution daily than all the motor vehicle trips in Santa Barbara County each day.

- SOURCE: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, U.S. Minerals Management Service, Western States Petroleum Association

Chuck Schultz can be reached at 925-2691, Ext. 2241, or cschultz@santamariatimes.com.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26588789/
10294  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: October 05, 2008, 08:02:07 PM
Natural oil seeps put more oil into water sources than anything humans do.
10295  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: October 05, 2008, 06:24:32 PM
Why Islam’s Jew-Hating Hadith Matter   
By Andrew G. Bostom
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, October 03, 2008

Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-Arifi made the following “observations” which recently aired on Palestinian Arab Al-Aqsa TV, September 12, 2008:
 
Studies conducted in Tel Aviv and in the Palestinian lands occupied by the Jews showed that they plant  trees around their homes, because the Prophet Muhammad said that when the Muslims fight the Jews, each and every stone and tree will say: “Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” The only exception is the gharqad tree, which is one of the trees of the Jews, and if they hide behind it, it will not reveal their presence. According to reports of people who went there and saw it with their own eyes, many Jews plant gharqad trees around their homes, so that when the fighting begins, they can hide behind them. They are not man enough to stand and fight you.
 
While such hatemongering statements appear utterly bizarre to non-Muslims who are unaware of Islam’s foundational texts, Al-Arifi’s inflammatory references to Jews have sacralized origins immediately apparent to Muslim audiences. The crux of Al-Arifi’s remarks, in fact, merely reiterate verbatim, a canonical hadith, specifically Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985, which is also featured prominently in the Hamas Covenant, article 7.
 
Briefly (go here for an in depth online discussion), what are the hadith, and which specific anti-Semitic motifs do they contain? Hadith, which means “story” (“narrative”), refers to any report of what the Muslim prophet Muhammad said or did, or his tacit assent to something said or done in his presence. Hadith is also used as the technical term for the “science” of such “Traditions.” As a result of a lengthy process which continued for centuries after Muhammad’s death (in 632), the hadith emerged for Muslims as second in authority to the Koran itself. Sunna, which means “path” refers to a normative custom of Muhammad or of the early Islamic community. The hadith “justify and confirm” the Sunna. Henri Lammens, a seminal early 20th-century scholar of Islam, highlighted the importance of the Sunna (and, by extension, the hadith):
 
As early as the first century A.H. [the 7th century] the following aphorism was pronounced: “The Sunna can dispense with the Koran but not the Koran with the Sunna”. Proceeding to still further lengths, some Muslims assert that “in controversial matters, the Sunna overrules the authority of the Koran, but not vice versa”…all admit the Sunna completes and explains it [the Koran].
 
The hadith compiled by al-Bukhari (d. 870) and Muslim b. al-Hajjaj (d. 875) are considered, respectively, to be the most important authoritative collections. The titles Sahih (“sound”) or Jami, indicating their comprehensiveness, signify the high esteem in which they are held.
Their comprehensive content includes information regarding religious duties, law and everyday practice (down to the most mundane, or intimate details), in addition to a considerable amount of biographical and other material. Four other compilations, called Sunan works, which indicates that they are limited to matters of religious and social practice, and law, also became authoritative. Abu Dawud (d. 888), al-Tirmidhi (d. 892), Ibn Maja (d. 896), and al-Nasi (d. 915) compiled these works. By the beginning of the 12th century, Ibn Maja’s collection became the last of these compilations of hadith to be recognized as “canonical.”
 
Before one can fully appreciate the major antisemitic themes in the hadith (summarized herein), it is critical to understand the antecedent Koranic motifs of Jew hatred which these hadith “complete and explain.” The Koran’s central antisemitic motif decrees an eternal curse upon the Jews (Koran 2:61/ reiterated at 3:112) for slaying the prophets and transgressing against the will of Allah. It should be noted that Koran 3:112 is featured just before the pre-amble to Hamas’ foundational Covenant.  This central motif is coupled to Koranic verses 5:60, and 5:78, which describe the Jews transformation into apes and swine (5:60), or simply apes, (i.e. verses 2:65 and 7:166), having been “…cursed by the tongue of David, and Jesus, Mary’s son” (5:78). Muhammad himself repeats this Koranic curse in a canonical hadith (Sunan Abu Dawoud, Book 37, Number 4322), “He [Muhammad] then recited the verse [5:78]: ‘…curses were pronounced on those among the children of Israel who rejected Faith, by the tongue of David and of Jesus the son of Mary’ ”.  And the related verse, 5:64, accuses the Jews—as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did in a January 2007 speech, citing Koran 5:64—of being “spreaders of war and corruption,” a sort of ancient Koranic antecedent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
 
The centrality of the Jews’ permanent “abasement and humiliation,” and being “laden with God’s anger” is clearly enunciated in the most authoritative Muslim exegetic literature on Koran 2:61/3:112, both ancient and contemporary. By nature deceitful and treacherous, the Jews rejected Allah’s signs and prophets, including Isa, the Muslim Jesus. Classical and modern Koranic commentators, when discussing Koran 5:82, which includes the statement (“Thou wilt surely find the most hostile of men to the believers are the Jews” , also concur on the unique animus of the Jews towards the Muslims, which is repeatedly linked to the curse of  Koran 2:61/3:112. For example, in his commentary on 5:82, the great Muslim historian and renowned Koranic exegete al-Tabari (d. 923) writes,
 
In my opinion, [the Christians] are not like the Jews who always scheme in order to murder the emissaries and the prophets, and who oppose God in his positive and negative commandments, and who corrupt His scripture which He revealed in His books.
 
Tabari’s classical interpretations of Koran 5:82 and 2:61, as well as his discussion of the related verse 9:29 mandating the Jews payment of the jizya (Koranic poll-tax), represent both Anti-Semitic and more general anti-dhimmi views that became, and remain, intrinsic to Islam to this day. Here is Tabari’s discussion of 2:61 and its relationship to verse 9:29, which emphasizes the purposely debasing nature of the Koranic poll tax:
 
…“abasement and poverty were imposed and laid down upon them”, as when someone says “the imam imposed the poll tax (jizya)on free non-Muslim subjects”, or “The man imposed land tax on his slave”, meaning thereby that he obliged him [to pay ] it, or, “The commander imposed a sortie on his troops”, meaning he made it their duty.…God commanded His believing servants not to give them [i.e., the non-Muslim people of the scripture] security—as long as they continued to disbelieve in Him and his Messenger—unless they paid the poll tax to them; God said: “Fight those who believe not in God and the Last Day and do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden—such men as practice not the religion of truth [Islam], being of those who have been given the Book [Bible]—until they pay the poll tax, being humble” (Koran 9:29)..
 
The dhimmis [non-Muslim tributary’s] posture during the collection of the jizya- “[should be lowering themselves] by walking on their hands, …reluctantly
 
… His words “and abasement and poverty were imposed upon them”, ‘These are the Jews of the Children of Israel’. ..‘Are they the Copts of Egypt?’…“What have the Copts of Egypt to do with this? No, by God, they are not; but they are the Jews, the Children of Israel.…By “and slain the prophets unrightfully” He means that they used to kill the Messengers of God without God’s leave, denying their messages and rejecting their prophethood.
 
Indeed the Koran’s overall discussion of the Jews is marked by a litany of their sins and punishments, as if part of a divine indictment, conviction, and punishment process. The Jews’ ultimate sin and punishment are made clear: they are the devil’s minions (4:60) cursed by Allah, their faces will be obliterated (4:47), and if they do not accept the true faith of Islam—the Jews who understand their faith become Muslims (3:113)—they will be made into apes (2:65/ 7:166), or apes and swine (5:60), and burn in the Hellfires (4:55, 5:29, 98:6, and 58:14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19). The Koranic curse (verses 2:61/3:112) upon the Jews for (primarily) rejecting, even slaying Allah’s prophets, including Isa/Jesus (or at least his “body double” 4:157-4:158), is updated with perfect archetypal logic in the canonical hadith: following the Muslims’ initial conquest of the Jewish farming oasis of Khaybar, one of the vanquished Jewesses reportedly served Muhammad poisoned mutton (or goat), which resulted, ultimately, in his protracted, agonizing death. And Ibn Saad’s sira (i.e., one of the earliest pious Muslim biographies of the Muslim prophet) account maintains that Muhammad’s poisoning resulted from a well-coordinated Jewish conspiracy.
 
George Vajda’s seminal 1937 analysis of the anti-Jewish motifs in the hadith remains the definitive work on this subject. Vajda concluded that according to the hadith stubborn malevolence is the Jews defining worldly characteristic: rejecting Muhammad and refusing to convert to Islam out of jealousy, envy and even selfish personal interest, lead them to acts of treachery, in keeping with their inveterate nature: “...sorcery, poisoning, assassination held no scruples for them.” These archetypes sanction Muslim hatred towards the Jews, and the admonition to at best, “subject [the Jews] to Muslim domination,” as dhimmis, treated “with contempt,” under certain “humiliating arrangements.”
 
The annihilationist sentiments regarding Jews expressed by Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-Arifi, and incorporated permanently into the foundational 1988 Hamas Covenant, are also rooted in Islamic eschatology. As characterized in the hadith, Muslim eschatology highlights the Jews’ supreme hostility to Islam. Jews are described as adherents of the Dajjâl—the Muslim equivalent of the Anti-Christ—or according to another tradition, the Dajjâl is himself Jewish. At his appearance, other traditions maintain that the Dajjâl will be accompanied by 70,000 Jews from Isfahan wrapped in their robes, and armed with polished sabers, their heads covered with a sort of veil. When the Dajjâl is defeated, his Jewish companions will be slaughtered— everything will deliver them up except for the so-called gharqad tree, as per the canonical hadith included in the 1988 Hamas Charter (article 7). Another hadith variant, which takes place in Jerusalem, has Isa (the Muslim Jesus) leading the Arabs in a rout of the Dajjâl and his company of 70,000 armed Jews. And the notion of jihad “ransom” extends even into Islamic eschatology—on the day of resurrection the vanquished Jews will be consigned to Hellfire, and this will expiate Muslims who have sinned, sparing them from this fate.
 
Professor Moshe Sharon recently provided a very lucid summary of the unique features of Shi’ite eschatology, Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s deep personal attachment to “mahdism,” and the  key point of consistency between Shi’a and Sunni understandings of this doctrine—which emphasizes Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985—noting:
 
both Shi’ites and Sunnis share one particular detail about “the coming of the hour” and the dawning of messianic times: The Jews must all suffer a violent death, to the last one. Both Shi'ites and Sunnis quote the famous hadith [Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985]  attributed to Muhammad…
 
Professor Sharon further observes,
 
Not one Friday passes without this hadith being quoted in sermons from one side of the Islamic world to the other.
 
The rise of Jewish nationalism—Zionism—posed a predictable, if completely unacceptable challenge to the Islamic order—jihad-imposed chronic dhimmitude for Jews—of apocalyptic magnitude. As historian Bat Ye’or has explained,
 
…because divine will dooms Jews to wandering and misery [pace Koran 17:4-5/ 7:168; and 2:61/3:112], the Jewish state appears to Muslims as an unbearable affront and a sin against Allah. Therefore it must be destroyed by Jihad.
 
This is exactly the Islamic context in which the widespread, “resurgent” use of Jew annihilationist apocalyptic motifs, would be an anticipated, even commonplace occurrence. And for more than six decades, promoters of modern jihad genocide have consistently invoked Islam’s Jew-exterminating eschatology. Hajj Amin el-Husseini, ex-Mufti of Jerusalem, and Muslim jihadist, who became, additionally, a full-fledged Nazi collaborator and ideologue in his endeavors to abort a Jewish homeland, and destroy world Jewry, composed a 1943 recruitment pamphlet (see Jennie Lebel’s 2007 biography of the Mufti , pp. 311-319) for Balkan Muslims entitled, “Islam and the Jews.” This incendiary document hinged upon antisemitic motifs from the Koran (for example, 5:82), and the hadith (including Muhammad’s alleged poisoning by a Khaybar Jewess), and concluded with the apocalyptic canonical hadith describing the Jews’ annihilation.
 
Forty-five years later the same hadith was incorporated into the 1988 Hamas Covenant, making clear the jihad terrorist organization had its own aspirations for Jew annihilation. Sheer ignorance of this history and theology are pathognomonic of much larger and more dangerous phenomena: the often willful, craven failure to examine and understand the living legacy of Islam’s foundational anti-Jewish animus, or acknowledge the depth of Jew hatred that pervades contemporary Islam’s clerical leadership, including within major Muslim communities of the United States.
 
For example, Fawaz Damra, the former Imam of the Islamic Center of Cleveland, was touted as a promoter of  interfaith dialogue even after evidence of his participation in fundraising events for the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), was produced, along with a videotape of the Imam telling a crowd of Muslim supporters in 1991 that they should aim “…a rifle at the first and last enemy of the Islamic nation, and that is the sons of monkeys and pigs, the Jews.” Convicted in 2004 for lying to immigration officials about his links to the PIJ, Damra, who was born in Nablus in 1961, was subsequently deported back to the West Bank in January 2007. And last October 30, 2007 it was announced that Imam Ahmed Alzaree—the first permanent successor to Damra—resigned as the new “spiritual leader” of the Islamic Center of Cleveland three days prior to officially beginning the job. Alzaree, who at one stage of the vetting process expressed the unusual reservation that “he would not come to Cleveland because a reporter was inquiring about his background,” ostensibly accepted the position as noted on October 26, 2007, then pre-emptively resigned a few days later, after the contents of two “khutbahs” (sermons) he had delivered on March 7, 2003, were revealed.  Alzaree concluded the second sermon with the same apocalyptic canonical hadith (Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985)—repeated in the 1988 Hamas Covenant.
 
Recently, the combined efforts of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and Rabbi Aron Hier of The Simon Wiesenthal Center, focused attention on the hadith collections—specifically Sahih Muslim Book 041, Numbers 6981 to 6985—posted at a website run by the Muslim Students Association (MSA) at the University of Southern California (USC). USC Provost, C. L. Max Nikias, first learned of these hadith when Rabbi Aron Hier approached USC trustee Alan Casden. Hier expressed his concerns over the five hadith advocating the Jews’ annihilation by Muslims to hasten the coming of the “final hour.” Upon reviewing these contents, Nikias declared that “the passage cited is truly despicable...The passage in the Hadith that you brought to our attention violates the USC Principles of Community, and it has no place on a USC website.” Nikias’ letter of August 11, 2008 (which can be viewed here) also stated, “I have ordered that the passage be removed.”
 
The USC-MSA—in grudging compliance—removed, but refused to condemn these living, sacralized invocations to genocidal violence. Moreover, another Muslim student organization at USC the Muslim Student Union also failed to repudiate the contents of these hadith, and declared it was “outraged” at the university’s “unprecedented and unconscionable” censorship. David Horowitz responded aptly to this statement by noting that the hadith which were removed from the USC website, “…may be part of the religious canon, but that doesn't make them less hateful.” Horowitz’s sober reflection recalls the lament of the late Dr. John Garang, who lead the Southern Sudanese Christian and Animist populations in their fight against the genocidal jihad campaign’s of the Arab Khartoum north during the 1990s. Garang left us with this critical question in 1999, which, almost beyond belief, remains largely ignored, and for certain, unresolved in the appropriate manner:
 
Is the call for jihad against a particular people a religious right by those calling for it, or is it a human rights violation against the people upon whom jihad is declared and waged?
 
Almost 850 years ago, elaborating on the depth of Muslim hatred for the Jews in his era,  Maimonides (in ~ 1172 C.E.) made this profound observation regarding the Jewish predilection for denial, a feature that he insists will hasten their destruction.
 
We have acquiesced, both old and young, to inure ourselves to humiliation…All this notwithstanding, we do not escape this continued maltreatment [by Muslims] which well nigh crushes us. No matter how much we suffer and elect to remain at peace with them, they stir up strife and sedition.
 
The Jews and their communal leaders like Maimonides living under Islamic rule in the Middle Ages—vanquished by jihad, isolated, and well-nigh defenseless under the repressive system of dhimmitude—can be excused for their submissive denial. There is no such excuse in our era given the existence of an autonomous Jewish State of Israel, and a thriving Western Jewish diaspora, particularly here in the United States, living under the blanket of hard won protections for their religious freedom, physical security, and dignity.
 
As a pre-condition to real dialogue—not its miserable simulacrum—Jews and their leadership—religious, political, and intellectual—must demand from their Muslim counterparts acknowledgment and wrenching reform of the sacralized Islamic Jew hatred which is still being taught and promoted in Islamic schools, religious institutions, and even on US university campuses. Speaking as a Jew, let us demonstrate as Jews that we are no longer content living with Maimonides’ 12th century expectations of Muslims, otherwise they will oblige us.


Andrew G. Bostom is a frequent contributor to Frontpage Magazine.com, and the author of The Legacy of Jihad, and the forthcoming The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism.
10296  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: October 05, 2008, 06:16:30 PM
http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/022978.php

October 5, 2008

Raymond Ibrahim: Islam and Innocence

Just recently, a high ranking Pakistani cleric, one Munib ur-Rehmen, asserted that “Islam does not allow anybody to take lives of innocent people by any means.” However, when he was grand mufti, two years earlier, he also said that “truly Islamic” states must kill the apostate from Islam. Considering his former statement, that Islam forbids the taking of “innocent” lives, has Munib been caught fibbing? Either way, this anecdote occasions the question: who is “innocent” in Islam?

Whereas other Muslims may shy away from this question, opting for the naïve Westerner to simply assume that “innocence” in Islam is akin to the liberal West’s notions of “innocence,” al-Qaeda—which seems to be supported by nearly half of the Muslim world—has been only to happy to clarify this matter.

Back in December, the terrorist organization’s primary media conduit, al-Sahab (the “clouds”) announced that al-Qaeda’s number two, Ayman Zawahiri, would be taking questions from the public and that he would “respond as soon as possible.”

Then, a few months later in April, according to the Associated Press, Zawahiri released a 90 minute audio tape, “billed as the first installment of answers to the more than 900 questions submitted on extremist Internet sites by al-Qaida supporters, critics and journalists.”

In response to a question that suggested al-Qaeda was responsible for the deaths of innocents in Baghdad, Morocco, and Algeria—Muslim areas where countless terrorist attacks in the name of al-Qaeda still occur daily—Zawahiri adamantly maintained that “We haven’t killed innocents,” not in any of those regions mentioned; “nor,” added Zawahari, “anywhere else”—which obviously includes 9/11, the London and Madrid bombings, and the rest.

Was Zawahiri being facetious, or does he truly deem all those killed in the aforementioned attacks as not “innocent”—that is, guilty?

As for Western infidels, Osama bin Laden himself has announced on various occasions that, since America is a democracy, and thus responsible for its government (which is always portrayed as one of the greatest enemies of Islam), “Every American man is an enemy—whether he fights us directly or pays his taxes,” (The Al Qaeda Reader, 281). Accordingly, al-Qaeda issued its famous fatwa in 1998 concluding that “The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies—civilian and military—is an individual obligation incumbent upon every Muslim who can do it and in any country” (AQR, 13).

What of women and children? What of fellow Muslims? Surely all these are innocent? In fact, Zawahiri, in one of his major treatises written for Muslim-eyes only, “Jihad, Martyrdom, and the Killing of Innocents” (see AQR,141-171), demonstrates the opposite. After quoting several anecdotes from authoritative hadith and sira sources documenting Muhammad legitimizing haphazard attacks against infidel strongholds—including by utilizing catapults (al-manjonil) and fire—even though women and children were known to be sheltered there, Zawahiri quotes the observations of a prominent exegete: “It is well known that whoever follows such a course, bombarding infidels, will inevitably hit their women and children, who are otherwise forbidden from being killed. Likewise, the same goes if Muslims are among them. It is compulsory that this [the possibility of hitting women, children, and Muslims] not dissuade the launching of an incursion against them… even if one dreads hitting another Muslim” (AQR,165).

As for “hitting another Muslim,” in Zawahiri’s April response, he concluded that “If there is any innocent [i.e., Muslim] who was killed in the mujahedeen’s operations, then it was either an unintentional error or out of necessity.” Again, this response accords perfectly with what he wrote in “Jihad, Martyrdom, and the Killing of Innocents”: after discussing the inevitability that faithful Muslims may be “accidentally” killed during the jihad, Zawahiri quoted the renowned Muslim jurist Ibn Taymiyya, who declared some 700 years ago that, “Based on the consensus of the ulema [Islamic scholars], those Muslims who are accidentally killed are martyrs; and the obligatory jihad should never be abandoned because it creates martyrs” (AQR,168). In other words, yes, Muslims who are slain “accidentally” are innocent; however, their recompense is to be deemed “martyrs,” that is, to attain the highest level of paradise, with all the sensual bliss that only Islam promises.

Also, the concept of “necessity” alluded to above—“any innocent who was killed…out of necessity”—seems to permeate Islam's worldview. Quoting yet another prominent sheikh, Zawahiri writes “If necessity compels one to fire at them [Muslims interspersed among infidels, e.g., the “apostate” governments of Algeria, Afghanistan, and Iraq], one should do so with impunity... For if we lay off them, they will emerge triumphant and cause even more harm…. It is better that one group [of Muslims] bear the burden and be destroyed in order to defend Islam and its territory and the welfare [of Muslims].” To this, Zawahiri concludes, “The evils produced by attacking impetuously [thereby accidentally killing Muslims] is forgiven due to the good of defending Islam” (AQR, 166).

Finally, as Zawahiri makes clear, the question of whether it is permissible to kill women, children, et. al. during the jihad was decided upon by the jurists (fuqaha) when Islam was on the ascendancy, and engaged in offensive warfare simply to conquer infidels and usurp their lands; in other words, the question of killing “innocents” was relevant only when Muslims were the aggressors, invading infidel territory. Writes Zawahiri: “But when Muslims are defending their religion and their sanctities, and the infidels are surrounding them from every corner, and instead they [infidels] are the ones seeking them out and pursuing them… —in these situations it becomes a binding obligation on every Muslim to fight them anyway he can… [even if] some Muslims might be killed mistakenly” (AQR, 168).

Indeed, this view is based on "ulemaic" consensus—which is often seen as binding on the umma. Ibn Taymiyya makes this clear: “As for defensive warfare, this is the greatest way to defend sanctity and religion.This is an obligation consensually agreed to [by the ulema]. After faith, there is nothing more sacred than repulsing the enemy who attacks religion and life” (AQR, 13).

In other words, in those Muslim countries where infidels and apostates are perceived as having the upper hand—such as Afghanistan, Algeria, and Iraq—far from worrying about whether infidel women and children are killed, Muslim women and children themselves are individually obligated to participate or at least support the jihad.

Most problematic of all is the fact that, neither Pakistani cleric Munib ur-Rehmen, nor Ayman Zawahiri, nor yet Osama bin Laden are responsible for these notions or what constitutes “innocence” in Islam. Rather, their views are grounded in the verdicts of Islam’s revered ulema and fuqaha, who, in their turn, came up with these conclusions after grappling (ijtihad) with Islam’s core texts—the way all of sharia law has been articulated. In short, though much of what was quoted here comes from the writings of al-Qaeda, such notions are not original to al-Qaeda but trace back to the ulema and sharia.

In closing, this somewhat idiosyncratic concept of “guilt” and “innocence” should better highlight the epistemic difficulties the Westerner may encounter when trying to understand Islam—a religion, it should be recalled, that deems even the Muslim who simply and peacefully wants to convert to another religion, “guilty” and worthy of execution.

As the Pakistani Munib indicated at the beginning of this discussion, only the “truly Islamic” state will execute the apostate, which itself is truly telling about Islam's notions of innocence and guilt and how radically different they are from Western ideals.

Posted at October 5, 2008 3:15 PM
10297  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 05, 2008, 05:17:36 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2008/10/05/ap-palins-a-racist-for-bringing-up-ayers-or-something/

Your, highly ethical, unbiased media at work.
10298  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 05, 2008, 04:59:36 PM
Does everyone deserve the same level of healthcare?
10299  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: October 05, 2008, 09:24:28 AM
http://obamagunban.com/

Obama on guns.
10300  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: October 05, 2008, 07:47:27 AM
March 29, 2002 8:30 a.m.
Postmodern Palestine
The new amorality in the Middle East.


There is a postmodern amorality afloat — the dividend of years of an American educational system in which historical ignorance, cultural relativism, and well-intentioned theory, in place of cold facts, has reigned. We see the sad results everywhere in the current discussions of the Middle East and our own war on terror.

Palestinians appeal to the American public on grounds that three or four times as many of their own citizens have died as Israelis. The crazy logic is that in war the side that suffers the most casualties is either in the right or at least should be the winner. Some Americans nursed on the popular ideology of equivalence find this attractive. But if so, they should then sympathize with Hitler, Tojo, Kim Il Sung, and Ho Chi Minh who all lost more soldiers — and civilians — in their wars against us than we did.

Perhaps a million Chinese were casualties in Korea, ten times the number of Americans killed, wounded, and missing. Are we then to forget that the Communists crossed the Yalu River to implement totalitarianism in the south — and instead agree that their catastrophic wartime sacrifices were proof of American culpability? Palestinians suffer more casualties than Israelis not because they wish to, or because they are somehow more moral — but because they are not as adept in fighting real soldiers in the full-fledged war that is growing out of their own intifada.

We are told that Palestinian civilians who are killed by the Israeli Defense Forces are the moral equivalent of slaughtering Israeli civilians at schools, restaurants, and on buses. That should be a hard sell for Americans after September 11, who are currently bombing in Afghanistan to ensure that there are not more suicide murderers on our shores. This premise hinges upon the acceptance that the suicide bombers' deliberate butchering of civilians is the same as the collateral damage that occurs when soldiers retaliate against other armed combatants.

In fact, the tragic civilian deaths on the West Bank make a less-compelling argument for amorality than the one revisionists often use in condemning the Dresden, Hamburg, and Tokyo bombings. Then British and American planes knowingly incinerated civilians in their quests to shut down the warmaking potential of the Third Reich and imperial Japan. Unlike what the B-17s and B-29s did to stop fascist murdering on a global scale, the Israelis are not carpet-bombing indiscriminately. Rather they are doing precisely what we ourselves were forced to do in Mogadishu: Fighting a dirty urban war against combatants who have no uniforms, shoot from houses, and are deliberately mixed in with civilians. So far the Israelis have probably killed fewer civilians in a year of fighting on the West Bank than our trapped soldiers did in two days of similar gun battles in Somalia.

An ignorance of historical context is also critical for such postmodern revisionism. If the conflict is due to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, then the first three wars for the survival of Israel itself must be conveniently ignored. If there is a push for the exchange of land for peace, then we must overlook that some in the Arab world who have suggested just that bromide in the past three decades were either assassinated or executed. And if we accept that both sides are equally culpable for the current killing, we must forget that less than two years ago the Palestinians rejected an Israeli offer to return 97 percent of the West Bank, along with other major concessions — assuming that unleashing the present intifada could get them still more.

Facts mean nothing. The dispute is purportedly over the principle of occupation — but next-door Syria holds far more Lebanese land than Israel does the West Bank. The dispute is supposedly over ethnic intolerance and gratuitous humiliation — but Kuwait, quite unlike Israel, ethnically cleansed their entire country of Palestinians after the Gulf War. The dispute is said to be about treating the "other" fairly — but Syria and Iraq summarily expelled over 7,000 Jews after the 1967 war, stole their property, and bragged that they had rid their country of them. The upcoming Arab Summit could spend weeks just investigating the Arab murder and persecution of its own people and Jews.

Multicultural distortion also appears in a variety of strange ways. Palestinian spokesmen harangue Americans about their tilt toward Israel. Yet they also speak in grandiose terms of an "Arab summit" and a global Islamic brotherhood. Apparently, fellow Muslims, Arabs — and kindred autocracies — are supposed to support Palestinians unquestioningly because of religious, cultural, and political affinities. Yet we multicultural Americans are not entitled to exhibit similar sympathy for Israel, which like us and unlike Mr. Arafat's regime, is a Western, democratic, open, and free society.

Why do such bankrupt arguments find resonance? I think the causes have now permeated well beyond a few coffeehouse theorists blabbering away in Cambridge or Palo Alto. Rather it is because we live in a society in which playground fights in our schools are now often adjudicated by concepts such as "zero tolerance" and "equal culpability." Rather than exercising moral judgment — and investing time and energy in such investigation — our school principals simply expel any student caught fighting, as if the bully and his victim occupy the same moral ground.

Our schoolbooks devote more space to Hiroshima than to the far, far greater casualties on Okinawa. Students are not told that the two tragedies are connected — as if the American bombing to prevent an enormous bloodbath on the Japanese mainland is somehow not a direct result of the Japanese imperial military's efforts a few weeks earlier to unleash 2,000 kamikazes, and through suicide attacks and banzai charges kill every American (and tens of thousands of civilians) on the island rather than surrender.

Rather than do the hard work of learning about the historical relationships, conflicts, and similarities between Islamic and Christian culture, East and West, and Europe and Asia, our teachers simply avoid the trouble. They claim that all cultures are just "different," and thereby hope to avoid the hard and unpleasant questions that might prompt hurt feelings and eventual enlightenment, rather than ensure their own immediate raises and promotions. No wonder I have had college students who affirm that British imperialism in India was no different from Hitler's attempt at dominance in Europe — as if there were gas chambers in New Delhi, as if the Nazi "super-race" might have sought to eradicate the caste system, or as if Gandhi's civil disobedience would have worked against Himmler.

I do not think there is some grand postmodern scheme afloat to undermine the legacy of empiricism, history, and logic. Rather the spread of such amorality is simply a result of our own sloth and timidity — and perhaps ultimately the dangerous dividend of an increasingly affluent and cynical society. Teachers, professors, and reporters embrace such dubious notions because they either bring rewards or at least the satisfaction of being liked and in the majority.

It is also less demanding to watch television than read, safer to blame or praise both than investigate the culpability of one, neater to create rather than recall facts, and better to feel good about oneself by adopting platitudes of eternal peace and universal tolerance than to talk honestly of evil, war, and the tragic nature of man. When you combine such American laziness and lack of intellectual rigor with worries over oil and anti-Semitism, then our baffling nonchalance about the current war against Israel begins to make sense.

Moral equivalence, conflict-resolution theory, utopian pacifism, and multiculturalism are, of course, antirational and often silly. But we should also have the courage to confess that they bring on, rather than avoid, conflict and killing, and breed rather than eradicate ignorance. In short, they are not ethical ideas at all, but amoral in every sense of the word.

— Victor Davis Hanson, author most recently of Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power.

   

                

   
   
 


    
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