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23001  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: December 01, 2008, 04:57:52 PM
Haven't read the article but what Mig says here resonates with my sense of this issue.

I would add a point that is very important to me:  As  I remember this issue, the Dems often posture militantly on this subject but quite often it is advocated from a "Flee the world and hide and home" emotional center.

Regardless, the facts are the facts-- this IS something for which we need to dial up. 
23002  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strategic on: December 01, 2008, 04:31:51 PM
Strategic Motivations for the Mumbai Attack
December 1, 2008




By George Friedman

Related Special Topic Page
Militant Attacks In Mumbai and Their Consequences
Last Wednesday evening, a group of Islamist operatives carried out a complex terror operation in the Indian city of Mumbai. The attack was not complex because of the weapons used or its size, but in the apparent training, multiple methods of approaching the city and excellent operational security and discipline in the final phases of the operation, when the last remaining attackers held out in the Taj Mahal hotel for several days. The operational goal of the attack clearly was to cause as many casualties as possible, particularly among Jews and well-to-do guests of five-star hotels. But attacks on various other targets, from railroad stations to hospitals, indicate that the more general purpose was to spread terror in a major Indian city.

While it is not clear precisely who carried out the Mumbai attack, two separate units apparently were involved. One group, possibly consisting of Indian Muslims, was established in Mumbai ahead of the attacks. The second group appears to have just arrived. It traveled via ship from Karachi, Pakistan, later hijacked a small Indian vessel to get past Indian coastal patrols, and ultimately landed near Mumbai.

Extensive preparations apparently had been made, including surveillance of the targets. So while the precise number of attackers remains unclear, the attack clearly was well-planned and well-executed.

Evidence and logic suggest that radical Pakistani Islamists carried out the attack. These groups have a highly complex and deliberately amorphous structure. Rather than being centrally controlled, ad hoc teams are created with links to one or more groups. Conceivably, they might have lacked links to any group, but this is hard to believe. Too much planning and training were involved in this attack for it to have been conceived by a bunch of guys in a garage. While precisely which radical Pakistani Islamist group or groups were involved is unknown, the Mumbai attack appears to have originated in Pakistan. It could have been linked to al Qaeda prime or its various franchises and/or to Kashmiri insurgents.

More important than the question of the exact group that carried out the attack, however, is the attackers’ strategic end. There is a tendency to regard terror attacks as ends in themselves, carried out simply for the sake of spreading terror. In the highly politicized atmosphere of Pakistan’s radical Islamist factions, however, terror frequently has a more sophisticated and strategic purpose. Whoever invested the time and took the risk in organizing this attack had a reason to do so. Let’s work backward to that reason by examining the logical outcomes following this attack.

An End to New Delhi’s Restraint
The most striking aspect of the Mumbai attack is the challenge it presents to the Indian government — a challenge almost impossible for New Delhi to ignore. A December 2001 Islamist attack on the Indian parliament triggered an intense confrontation between India and Pakistan. Since then, New Delhi has not responded in a dramatic fashion to numerous Islamist attacks against India that were traceable to Pakistan. The Mumbai attack, by contrast, aimed to force a response from New Delhi by being so grievous that any Indian government showing only a muted reaction to it would fall.

India’s restrained response to Islamist attacks (even those originating in Pakistan) in recent years has come about because New Delhi has understood that, for a host of reasons, Islamabad has been unable to control radical Pakistani Islamist groups. India did not want war with Pakistan; it felt it had more important issues to deal with. New Delhi therefore accepted Islamabad’s assurances that Pakistan would do its best to curb terror attacks, and after suitable posturing, allowed tensions originating from Islamist attacks to pass.

This time, however, the attackers struck in such a way that New Delhi couldn’t allow the incident to pass. As one might expect, public opinion in India is shifting from stunned to furious. India’s Congress party-led government is politically weak and nearing the end of its life span. It lacks the political power to ignore the attack, even if it were inclined to do so. If it ignored the attack, it would fall, and a more intensely nationalist government would take its place. It is therefore very difficult to imagine circumstances under which the Indians could respond to this attack in the same manner they have to recent Islamist attacks.

What the Indians actually will do is not clear. In 2001-2002, New Delhi responded to the attack on the Indian parliament by moving forces close to the Pakistani border and the Line of Control that separates Indian- and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, engaging in artillery duels along the front, and bringing its nuclear forces to a high level of alert. The Pakistanis made a similar response. Whether India ever actually intended to attack Pakistan remains unclear, but either way, New Delhi created an intense crisis in Pakistan.

The U.S. and the Indo-Pakistani Crisis
The United States used this crisis for its own ends. Having just completed the first phase of its campaign in Afghanistan, Washington was intensely pressuring Pakistan’s then-Musharraf government to expand cooperation with the United States; purge its intelligence organization, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), of radical Islamists; and crack down on al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Afghan-Pakistani border region. Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had been reluctant to cooperate with Washington, as doing so inevitably would spark a massive domestic backlash against his government.

The crisis with India produced an opening for the United States. Eager to get India to stand down from the crisis, the Pakistanis looked to the Americans to mediate. And the price for U.S. mediation was increased cooperation from Pakistan with the United States. The Indians, not eager for war, backed down from the crisis after guarantees that Islamabad would impose stronger controls on Islamist groups in Kashmir.

In 2001-2002, the Indo-Pakistani crisis played into American hands. In 2008, the new Indo-Pakistani crisis might play differently. The United States recently has demanded increased Pakistani cooperation along the Afghan border. Meanwhile, President-elect Barack Obama has stated his intention to focus on Afghanistan and pressure the Pakistanis.

Therefore, one of Islamabad’s first responses to the new Indo-Pakistani crisis was to announce that if the Indians increased their forces along Pakistan’s eastern border, Pakistan would be forced to withdraw 100,000 troops from its western border with Afghanistan. In other words, threats from India would cause Pakistan to dramatically reduce its cooperation with the United States in the Afghan war. The Indian foreign minister is flying to the United States to meet with Obama; obviously, this matter will be discussed among others.

We expect the United States to pressure India not to create a crisis, in order to avoid this outcome. As we have said, the problem is that it is unclear whether politically the Indians can afford restraint. At the very least, New Delhi must demand that the Pakistani government take steps to make the ISI and Pakistan’s other internal security apparatus more effective. Even if the Indians concede that there was no ISI involvement in the attack, they will argue that the ISI is incapable of stopping such attacks. They will demand a purge and reform of the ISI as a sign of Pakistani commitment. Barring that, New Delhi will move troops to the Indo-Pakistani frontier to intimidate Pakistan and placate Indian public opinion.

Dilemmas for Islamabad, New Delhi and Washington
At that point, Islamabad will have a serious problem. The Pakistani government is even weaker than the Indian government. Pakistan’s civilian regime does not control the Pakistani military, and therefore does not control the ISI. The civilians can’t decide to transform Pakistani security, and the military is not inclined to make this transformation. (Pakistan’s military has had ample opportunity to do so if it wished.)

Pakistan faces the challenge, just one among many, that its civilian and even military leadership lack the ability to reach deep into the ISI and security services to transform them. In some ways, these agencies operate under their own rules. Add to this the reality that the ISI and security forces — even if they are acting more assertively, as Islamabad claims — are demonstrably incapable of controlling radical Islamists in Pakistan. If they were capable, the attack on Mumbai would have been thwarted in Pakistan. The simple reality is that in Pakistan’s case, the will to make this transformation does not seem to be present, and even if it were, the ability to suppress terror attacks isn’t there.

The United States might well want to limit New Delhi’s response. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is on her way to India to discuss just this. But the politics of India’s situation make it unlikely that the Indians can do anything more than listen. It is more than simply a political issue for New Delhi; the Indians have no reason to believe that the Mumbai operation was one of a kind. Further operations like the Mumbai attack might well be planned. Unless the Pakistanis shift their posture inside Pakistan, India has no way of knowing whether other such attacks can be stymied. The Indians will be sympathetic to Washington’s plight in Afghanistan and the need to keep Pakistani troops at the Afghan border. But New Delhi will need something that the Americans — and in fact the Pakistanis — can’t deliver: a guarantee that there will be no more attacks like this one.

The Indian government cannot chance inaction. It probably would fall if it did. Moreover, in the event of inactivity and another attack, Indian public opinion probably will swing to an uncontrollable extreme. If an attack takes place but India has moved toward crisis posture with Pakistan, at least no one can argue that the Indian government remained passive in the face of threats to national security. Therefore, India is likely to refuse American requests for restraint.

It is possible that New Delhi will make a radical proposal to Rice, however. Given that the Pakistani government is incapable of exercising control in its own country, and given that Pakistan now represents a threat to both U.S. and Indian national security, the Indians might suggest a joint operation with the Americans against Pakistan.

What that joint operation might entail is uncertain, but regardless, this is something that Rice would reject out of hand and that Obama would reject in January 2009. Pakistan has a huge population and nuclear weapons, and the last thing Bush or Obama wants is to practice nation-building in Pakistan. The Indians, of course, will anticipate this response. The truth is that New Delhi itself does not want to engage deep in Pakistan to strike at militant training camps and other Islamist sites. That would be a nightmare. But if Rice shows up with a request for Indian restraint and no concrete proposal — or willingness to entertain a proposal — for solving the Pakistani problem, India will be able to refuse on the grounds that the Americans are asking India to absorb a risk (more Mumbai-style attacks) without the United States’ willingness to share in the risk.

Setting the Stage for a New Indo-Pakistani Confrontation
That will set the stage for another Indo-Pakistani confrontation. India will push forces forward all along the Indo-Pakistani frontier, move its nuclear forces to an alert level, begin shelling Pakistan, and perhaps — given the seriousness of the situation — attack short distances into Pakistan and even carry out airstrikes deep in Pakistan. India will demand greater transparency for New Delhi in Pakistani intelligence operations. The Indians will not want to occupy Pakistan; they will want to occupy Pakistan’s security apparatus.

Naturally, the Pakistanis will refuse that. There is no way they can give India, their main adversary, insight into Pakistani intelligence operations. But without that access, India has no reason to trust Pakistan. This will leave the Indians in an odd position: They will be in a near-war posture, but will have made no demands of Pakistan that Islamabad can reasonably deliver and that would benefit India. In one sense, India will be gesturing. In another sense, India will be trapped by making a gesture on which Pakistan cannot deliver. The situation thus could get out of hand.

In the meantime, the Pakistanis certainly will withdraw forces from western Pakistan and deploy them in eastern Pakistan. That will mean that one leg of the Petraeus and Obama plans would collapse. Washington’s expectation of greater Pakistani cooperation along the Afghan border will disappear along with the troops. This will free the Taliban from whatever limits the Pakistani army had placed on it. The Taliban’s ability to fight would increase, while the motivation for any of the Taliban to enter talks — as Afghan President Hamid Karzai has suggested — would decline. U.S. forces, already stretched to the limit, would face an increasingly difficult situation, while pressure on al Qaeda in the tribal areas would decrease.

Now, step back and consider the situation the Mumbai attackers have created. First, the Indian government faces an internal political crisis driving it toward a confrontation it didn’t plan on. Second, the minimum Pakistani response to a renewed Indo-Pakistani crisis will be withdrawing forces from western Pakistan, thereby strengthening the Taliban and securing al Qaeda. Third, sufficient pressure on Pakistan’s civilian government could cause it to collapse, opening the door to a military-Islamist government — or it could see Pakistan collapse into chaos, giving Islamists security in various regions and an opportunity to reshape Pakistan. Finally, the United States’ situation in Afghanistan has now become enormously more complex.

By staging an attack the Indian government can’t ignore, the Mumbai attackers have set in motion an existential crisis for Pakistan. The reality of Pakistan cannot be transformed, trapped as the country is between the United States and India. Almost every evolution from this point forward benefits Islamists. Strategically, the attack on Mumbai was a precise blow struck to achieve uncertain but favorable political outcomes for the Islamists.

Rice’s trip to India now becomes the crucial next step. She wants Indian restraint. She does not want the western Pakistani border to collapse. But she cannot guarantee what India must have: assurance of no further terror attacks on India originating in Pakistan. Without that, India must do something. No Indian government could survive without some kind of action. So it is up to Rice, in one of her last acts as secretary of state, to come up with a miraculous solution to head off a final, catastrophic crisis for the Bush administration — and a defining first crisis for the new Obama administration. Former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once said that the enemy gets a vote. The Islamists cast their ballot in Mumbai.
23003  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Mexico's big strides on econ policy on: December 01, 2008, 10:42:56 AM
Mexico Has Made Big Strides on Economic Policy Calderón was smart enough to hedge against falling oil prices.
By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY


Much has been written about the "cultural" divide between Norte Americanos and Latinos. But with the burst of the asset bubble, we've learned that politicians, north and south, react similarly in the face of economic crisis.

This commonality occurred to me over breakfast in New York last week with Mexico's minister of finance, Agustin Carstens. The University of Chicago-trained economist was explaining the rationale behind President Felipe Calderón's "stimulus" package. I kept thinking about President-elect Barack Obama's promised further spending spree on this side of the border. The Mexican version is not nearly as ambitious but the concept is the same. "He's taking my money in order to spend it better than I can," a Mexican friend shot back sardonically when I asked him his views on Mr. Calderón's plan. We're all keynesianos now.

The Keynesian theory, calling for government spending as a way to boost aggregate demand during economic downturns, has repeatedly failed to deliver on its promises. But it endures because of its political expediency. It is the best excuse ever invented to expand government. It is both frightening and discouraging to hear politicians offering more Keynes at a time when what is most needed is a way of restoring the appetite of the private sector for risk.

Yet the news from Mexico is not all bad. As I listened to Mr. Carstens discuss his government's economic options, what also came through is how different Mexico is from 15 years ago. These changes may keep the country from backsliding under the strain of the current financial panic.

To be sure, Mr. Carstens believes in the state's capacity to stimulate economic activity. "If you can get the economy going and you have the instruments to do it, it is important that you use them," he told me. Then he added a historic footnote: "But we have limits to how much we can borrow and finance prudently." He went on: "Thinking that we are going to run a fiscal deficit without thinking of how we will finance it? That would be irresponsible."

For a country that has repeatedly gotten itself into fiscal and monetary trouble by running up big budget deficits, this is a tectonic shift in thinking. It is true that Mr. Carstens's predecessor, Francisco Gil-Diaz, also kept a tight grip on the purse strings during the government of Vicente Fox. But for a Mexican finance minister to be worried about excessive borrowing during a global economic slump of the magnitude now expected is a meaningful departure from tradition.

It isn't the only new-found prudence in Mexico. Twenty five years ago when oil prices skyrocketed, Latin oil producers spent the windfall as fast as it flowed in -- and more besides. Now Mexico takes a different approach. Earlier this year when Maya crude -- Mexico's main blend for export -- was topping $120 per barrel, Mr. Carstens instructed his team to begin using derivatives to lock in a floor price of $70 per barrel. "Prices had risen to such a high level that the only direction left was down," he explained to reporters in Mexico City last month.

In today's Opinion Journal
 

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

America's Other Auto IndustryMessing With Malpractice Reform

TODAY'S COLUMNISTS

Information Age: Let's Move Intelligence Out of the 1970s
– L. Gordon CrovitzThe Americas: Mexico Has Made Big Strides on Economic Policy
– Mary Anastasia O'Grady

COMMENTARY

Lessons From 40 Years of Education 'Reform'
– Louis V. Gerstner Jr.Deepak Blames America
– Dorothy RabinowitzEgypt's Jew Haters Deserve Ostracism in the West
– Amr BargisiWith this hedge, Mexico has covered its net oil exports for 2009 at $70 while Maya crude is now trading around $45. What is important here is not that Mr. Carstens's hedge worked but that this time an oil boom didn't turn into a government binge.

Yet another big change in Mexico is on the trade front. By now most economists recognize that closing domestic markets in hard times only makes things worse. But candidate Obama's campaign vow to force protectionist changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement demonstrates the constant temptation for politicians to protect special interest groups from foreign competition.

Yet while Mr. Obama and Congress are talking up more trade barriers, Mr. Calderón's government is going the other way. At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru, last month, the Mexican president warned that changes to Nafta would damage both sides of the border. Mexico has numerous free trade agreements but Mr. Carstens told me at breakfast that working to lower tariffs on imports from non-FTA countries is a Calderón priority.

With these advances Mexico may muddle through this recession. But there are also grave risks to its strategy. The much-touted reform of state-owned oil monopoly Pemex is too timid to boost output in the near term. Elsewhere Mr. Carstens says he is working toward eventual tax cuts and simplification of the tax code but adds that now is not the time to go there. The trouble is that as he waits for the right time, the private sector could decide that the cost of doing business in Mexico is just too high. That will leave Mexico more dependent on Mr. Carstens's strategy of government spending out of the treasury and state-owned "development" banks. That would be a throwback to an unrewarding past.

Write to O'Grady@wsj.com

23004  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / More citizens enforcing the law themselves on: December 01, 2008, 10:37:51 AM
http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2008/dec/01/standing-their-ground/

Standing their ground: More citizens enforcing the law themselves
By Marc Perrusquia (Contact), Memphis Commercial Appeal
Monday, December 1, 2008

The gun's muzzle pushed hard into the back of his neck.  Desperate, Mitch Morelli's mind raced.  My wife. My son. My family. 
Still, the voice grew louder.

"Give me all your money!''

The stocky teenager pressed the pistol in harder, taking Morelli's wallet.

 "I'm killing you right now! You shouldn't have looked at me, man! Go ahead. Say goodbye. Say goodbye. I'm blowing you away right here.''

But when the teen suddenly fled, Morelli's fear morphed to rage. Pursuing his attacker and dodging bullets in a high-speed car chase -- the action caught on a 911 tape -- Morelli was able to jot down a tag number that helped police track down the assailant.

"It was straight out of Clint Eastwood-type stuff,'' Morelli said later. "But I knew if I did nothing, nothing would happen.''

It turned out to be quite a coup for public safety: The youth, police allege, had terrorized city schools in a series of handgun incidents and had robbed another family in a home invasion.  At the same time, Morelli's actions pose troubling questions about just how far citizens should go in protecting themselves from crime.

Like Bernard Goetz, the "Subway Vigilante'' who shot four would-be robbers on a New York City train in 1984, a new generation of citizens who are retaliating against thugs and attackers are finding acceptance, even celebrity, among a public frustrated with crime. 
Just this fall, a Tipton County homeowner made news when he exchanged gunfire on the street with fleeing burglars. A Rosemark man gained wide attention, too when he held two intruders at gunpoint.

"I've always felt if you're in fear of your life you can use your gun,'' said Steve Rutter, who pulled a 9mm handgun on intruders who'd tried to drive off with his 16-foot flatbed trailer. Rutter's action led police to bust up a large theft ring.

Yet along with the glow of these crime victims' stories comes a share of tragedy. Memphian Jacob Evans shot and killed an assailant who, after robbing him once, had returned to rob again. It was even worse for grocery manager John Russell, who was fatally shot when he tried to defend his store against a pair of robbers.

Critics fear some citizens have become too bold amid law changes that have greatly broadened the right of self-defense. Nationally, a spate of "Stand Your Ground'' laws, including one passed in Tennessee last year, are eliminating old standards requiring that a crime victim retreat first before using deadly force.

Longstanding Tennessee laws already had armed citizens with great power to defend themselves, including the right to make a citizen arrest or to pursue a criminal as Morelli did, said Shelby County Asst. Dist. Atty. Gen. Tom Henderson.

Danger, including potential injury and death, as well as the potential for criminal and civil litigation when a citizen steps over the line, should deter most people from engaging in gun battles or chasing down a suspect, he said.

"It's certainly not anything we want to see catch on,'' Henderson said.

Mitch Morelli had completed his morning rounds selling construction equipment at home-building sites April 9 when he pulled his Toyota pickup into a shaded spot near Audubon Park's golf clubhouse.

He was most of the way through a three-piece box of Jack Pirtle's chicken when a small silver car pulled into the spot immediately to his left.

Of all the abuse he suffered during the five- to 10-minute robbery -- the gun held to his neck, the barrel alternately in his face, the death threats -- Morelli said he was set off by a threat against his young son. Morelli had pleaded with the robber, telling him he had a toddler at home. Morelli recalled a cold response: The teen vowed to come to Morelli's house and shoot his son, too.

"That's when the fear turned to rage,'' he said.

Morelli didn't have a gun -- but he did have his wits.

As the teen and a female accomplice drove off, Morelli gave chase.

And so it happened that Mitchell Lee Morelli, a 46-year-old equipment salesman, became a symbol of a frustrated public fed up with crime. Morelli chased the teen for miles through East Memphis and into Orange Mound.

Like a scene out of a Hollywood thriller, tires screeched and bullets flew -- the drama caught on a 911 tape.

"He just shot at me!'' Morelli tells a police supervisor on the tape of the 911 call he made from his cell phone during the chase.

"Sir,'' the police supervisor responds, "if you catch up with him and he shoots you, we can't be responsible.''

Police tried everything -- reasoning, orders, threats -- to get Morelli to stop.

Yet Morelli was determined to get close enough to jot down the fleeing car's tag number.

"I'm going to go down swinging,'' he said later, describing his mindset that day last spring. "I wanted to have the last say so.''

Technically, police can't complain about Morelli's actions: Running the tag he supplied, they arrested Marquetta Hawk, 22, charged as an accessory after the fact, and gang member Devyn Knowles, now 20, who is charged with aggravated robbery and assault and is being held in the Shelby County Jail on a $200,000 bond.

Prosecutor Henderson said Morelli likely was within his rights to pursue his robbers. For starters, an old Tennessee law gives citizens power to make citizen arrests. "You're entitled to arrest that person if you can catch up with him,'' Henderson said.

But some feel some citizens are going too far.

"The real question is do we respect the criminal justice system or do we go back to a vigilante, every-man-for- himself situation?'' asked Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Helmke is critical of the proliferation of "Stand Your Ground'' laws that typically eliminate requirements that crime victims retreat before using deadly force to protect a car, home or business.

According to the National Rifle Association, 22 states have Stand Your Ground laws, including Tennessee, where last year lawmakers extended the use of deadly force to citizens who are attacked in their cars.

Critics assail the laws, pointing to reckless shootings such as one in Florida in 2006 in which a man who shot a neighbor during an argument over garbage avoided prosecution by asserting Stand Your Ground protections.

"All you have to do is tell the cop, 'I felt threatened,' and they can't even bring a charge against you,'' Helmke said.

In Tennessee, a citizen can't use deadly force simply to protect property but only when "you are in reasonable fear of your life,'' Henderson said.

And while citizen pursuit of a suspect may be legal, Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin said it's a dicey and inadvisable venture.

Morelli couldn't say what would have happened had he had a gun that day, yet he dismissed criticism of his action.

"They don't know what the taste of metal in your mouth is,'' he said.
23005  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Information Warfare matters on: December 01, 2008, 10:28:02 AM
Last week's terrorist assault in Mumbai brings into focus one of the biggest challenges facing President-elect Barack Obama and U.S. allies: How to defeat the ideology that underpins the global jihadist insurgency and unifies its diverse adherents?

The U.S. government needs to resurrect the nonviolent practice of "political warfare" and create an agency to manage it. The Bush administration started this process by providing more resources for public diplomacy and appointing prominent officials to oversee the task. But efforts to explain America's values and ideals to Muslims need to be supplemented with measures that confront directly the jihadist ideology.

Mr. Obama's administration could use as a model the British Political Warfare Executive, which rallied support for the Allied cause behind enemy lines during World War II, or the U.S. Information Agency, which helped network opponents of communism and undermine Moscow's intellectual appeal during the Cold War.

A civilian should sit atop this new organization. His or her mission should be to undermine the jihadist ideology that underpins terrorism. We believe this mission is so important that the person should answer directly to the President, just as military combatant commanders do.

U.S. government-supported broadcasting, such as the Voice of America, should be adapted to this mission. But the U.S. government should also provide resources to moderates and networks of reformers abroad. The agency should not rely solely on exporting information and commentary generated in Washington, which has less credibility with Muslims in the broader Middle East and Europe who will shape the future of Islam abroad.

The agency should also be charged with peacefully empowering dissidents within repressive nations, by providing them with information and facts to aid their struggle. The U.S. did this in the 1980s by aiding Solidarity with communications equipment, organizational support and other resources in then-communist Poland, in partnership with the Vatican and AFL-CIO. What ended with strikes, protests and finally elections began as a small indigenous network armed with information -- political warfare at its finest.

Mr. Obama may be tempted to create such an agency under the auspices of the State Department, but political warfare is not a core competency of Foggy Bottom or allied foreign ministries. Diplomats specialize in communicating with other nation-states, and are often ill at ease and ill-equipped to work with those who may upset relations with other governments.

A significant part of free societies' success in modern warfare has taken place off the physical battlefield. In World War II, the U.S. fought a war not only against blitzkrieg, buzz bombs and kamikazes, but against fascist ideologies. Likewise during the Cold War, America sought to undermine the ideology of its Soviet Bloc adversaries, realizing that was the shield of legitimacy without which they could not thrive.

Political warfare does not preclude diplomacy, just as U.S. efforts to undermine Soviet communism did not preclude successful negotiations with Moscow. But it's time to recognize -- as American governments have in the past -- the importance of fighting and winning the battle of ideas.

Mr. Whiton is Deputy Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues at the U.S. State Department. Mr. Harrison is Chief of Staff to the Counselor of the State Department. The views expressed are their own.

23006  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michael Yon: The End of the War in Iraq on: December 01, 2008, 10:18:01 AM
The Art

of the

End of War

 

Published: 01 December 2008
Zabul Province, Afghanistan

(Travel from Iraq to Afghanistan, and needless bureaucratic delays, nearly killed this dispatch.  Though many photos were made during the recent journey in Iraq, none are included here.  Bureaucracy unrelated to our combat forces continues to steal frontline photos and words from your screen. We seem to have two Armies: One Army of true soldiers moving mountains to win wars, while the other Army does everything possible to break the machine while playing soldier.  Though I am with excellent U.S. forces in the hinterlands of Afghanistan, this dispatch describes my final “mission” outstanding soldiers in Iraq.)

Baghdad, Iraq


On the morning of 14 November, soldiers from 2-4 Alpha of the 10th Mountain Division set off on a mission in south Baghdad, and I tagged along.  About half the soldiers are combat veterans from Afghanistan and/or Iraq.  For instance, SSG Zacchary Foust, the 1st Squad Leader of 3rd Platoon, said he had done two combat tours in Afghanistan, and this was his second go in Iraq, making this his fourth combat deployment.  Working with multi-tour veterans makes my job much easier, especially when they have worked in more than one war.  The words and expectations from the veterans are more measured and matured, even when the soldiers might be young.  Combat veterans also tend to be much more relaxed with correspondents.  Most of them seem to view correspondents as if we are zoo animals, since most soldiers, even if they have done multiple tours and seen lots of al Qaeda and Taliban up close, have never seen a correspondent up close.  I almost expect them to ask, “What do you eat?  Do you live in trees or on the ground?”  The one constant with service members over here is politeness and professionalism.  Combat soldiers are among the most courteous people I have ever met.

SSG Foust explained that after the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, his group spent long periods patrolling in the Sinjar mountains in Nineveh where many Yezidis live.  He said there was no fighting with Yezidis and that the Yezidis were so friendly that they continuously invited the soldiers to eat with them in the villages.  Foust said that though the soldiers brought along Army food, they didn’t really need it because the Yezidis kept them stuffed, and the Yezidi food was much better than army food.  Foust said the Yezidis offered the best tobacco he’s ever tasted, because they grow their own.  It wasn’t until later that Foust learned the Yezidis are supposed to be “devil worshippers,” which seemed a bit perplexing because they seemed like normal people to him.

I said to SSG Foust what I tell our pilots who fly near Yezidis: If your aircraft goes down near Yezidis, you might be sipping tea with your laundry being folded before search and rescue can get to you.  And they’ll cook lunch for the rescue team.  This is why a lot of Americans who know Yezidis are angered when al Qaeda attacks Yezidi people.  Many personal bonds have been formed during this tragic war.  We are no longer enemies with the Iraqis, and there is no good reason why Iraq and America should ever fight again.

And so we rolled out of FOB Falcon in those giant MRAPs.  It seems that most of the seriously experienced combat soldiers do not like MRAPs.  Yes, MRAPs are great for the main roads and convoys, but they are too big and too cumbersome, and they get stuck in mud that you could peddle a bicycle through.  MRAPs are not offensive vehicles.  There is no doubt MRAPs can save lives – they’re like giant vaults on wheels, though I did see the wreckage of one in Afghanistan that had been nearly obliterated.  When we’re on the main roads, I love MRAPs, but we will never win wars or major battles with those things, or by staying on main roads.  MRAPs need good roads.  Good roads are bomb magnets.  In Afghanistan, many of the Taliban scoot around on motorcycles, and there is no doubt that mobility is a weapon.  We should melt most of the MRAPs down and forge that metal into killing machines like Strykers.  The combat vets from 10th Mountain that day were also not fans of MRAPs.  And though it’s easy to find MRAP-lovers, the hardcore fighters seem to want more mobility than steel.

We rumbled into various neighborhoods in south Baghdad.  Nothing was going on.  No gun battles.  No mushroom clouds from car bombs or IEDs.  I wore the headset and the incessant radio alerts about units fighting here or there was completely absent.  In the old days, while the Iraq war was hot, there was constant chatter about fighting, car bombs, snipers, name it.  Today, there were no alerts at all.  There was more chatter about the Kenyan sitting in front of me who had been in the Army for a couple years.  The other soldiers said he should get automatic citizenship for volunteering to fight, and we all agreed.  The soldier came straight from Kenya into our Army.  Did not even pass GO, and suddenly was in Iraq.

On another day, I had lunch with a soldier from Ghana.  He told me that Ghana has the same constitution as the United States, and that he was proud to join the American Army.   He had become an American, to which I said, “Welcome aboard.”  He had one of those Ghana accents and was black as coal.  By the time he finished telling me about his homeland, I was sold on wanting to travel there someday.

“Are Americans welcome?”  I asked.

“Sure!”  He seemed to think the question was humorous for its simplicity about Ghana.  He said that American soldiers in Ghana are treated like kings, and if anyone gives a hassle, a U.S. soldier has only to show his military ID, and the clouds all disappear.  The soldier from Ghana told me that when he goes home on leave, the police actually salute him because he joined the American army.  I was incredulous, and asked for reassurance, “Really?!  They salute you?”

“Yes,” he said, with that funny Ghana accent.  “They Salute American soldiers in Ghana!  They love America and many Americans retire there.”

Sounded like Kurdish Iraq, where the kids ask soldiers for autographs, and even ask interpreters for autographs if they work for American soldiers.

The Baghdad mission with 10th Mountain Division soldiers was uneventful, other than the soldiers being proud to say they haven’t had to fire a single shot in combat this year.  One soldier wanted to buy a roasted chicken, but the chicken stand no longer takes dollars, only Iraqi dinars.  Several stores we stopped at now only take dinar, though I bought a sim chip for my cell phone with dollars.  Later in the day, a soldier with a pocket full of dinar bought kebabs for the squad and we devoured the whole lot.

The SOI, or Sons of Iraq, which many people used to derisively call “America’s Militias,” were out there and their behavior was polite.  The SOI were even getting along with the National Police (NP) who were with us; just a year ago the SOI and NP used to kill each other.  In another encouraging sign, the Iraqi government has started paying the SOI, and their pay is nearly as much as that of Iraqi soldiers.  For SOI who want jobs that do not include carrying a gun, there are job training programs that I wanted to cover, but there was no time.

I normally don’t ask British or American soldiers about politics, but I had been asking many American soldiers what they think of Obama vs. McCain, and I came away with no fixed answer.  Many wanted McCain, while it seems just as many wanted Obama, though none of the soldiers seem so emotional about it like the folks at home, or in other countries.  But across the board, as expected, whether soldiers like Obama or not, nobody wanted to see Iraq get neglected, and I was with them on that.  The biggest endorsement for Obama came from al Qaeda’s Vice President, the bitter hate-man and racist Dr. Ayman Muhammad Rabaie al-Zawahiri, when he declared war on Obama.  Al Qaeda obviously is afraid of Obama, just like they are afraid of Bush who has been chasing al Qaeda like rats since 9/11.  I’ve never enjoyed a day in the Iraq war, or in Afghanistan, but there have been many days of quiet satisfaction when al Qaeda or Taliban were brought to final justice before my eyes.  It would be something to see Zawahiri or Bin Laden, captured like rats, shaved of hair and beards, put before the world to face the families of the thousands of Americans, Iraqis, Afghans, and so many others in Pakistan, Africa, and Europe, that they have murdered.  Nobody suffers more at the hands of al Qaeda than Muslims.

Al Qaeda was handed a vicious defeat in Iraq, and it can be said with great certainty that most Iraqis hate al Qaeda even more than Americans do.  Al Qaeda can continue to murder Iraqis for now, but al Qaeda will be hard pressed to ever plant their flag in another Iraqi city.  The Iraqi army and police have become far too strong and organized, and the Iraqis will eventually strangle al Qaeda to death.

I still find people in America, Nepal, Thailand, UAE and other countries who believe al Qaeda propaganda that they attack us because we support Israel or occupy Muslim holy land.  This would not explain the decapitated Iraqi children I photographed when locals told me al Qaeda did it.  This would not explain the Iraqi children al Qaeda has blown up, or the Afghans and Pakistanis killed by al Qaeda, or the Africans who are murdered by the same cult of serial killers.  Did those decapitated children in the Iraqi village even know where America or Israel are?  What about the Shia mosques they destroyed in Iraq?  Were they occupying Saudi Arabia or supporting Israel?

The streets that I was this day patrolling with Iraqi National Police and soldiers from 10th Mountain Division, were once controlled by al Qaeda.  Al Qaeda had intentionally stoked the fires of civil war in Iraq.

What’s next?  If you are in this same neighborhood next week (now last week), please go to the art Iraqi Art show that people were talking about:

Rashid Leaders Plan, Prepare for Art and Culture Show

Friday, 21 November 2008
By Capt. Brett Walker
4th Infantry Division 


The Doura Art and Culture Show is tentatively scheduled to be held Nov. 26 in the Doura community of southern Baghdad. Approximately 100 pieces of art are expected to be on display at the show. The theme of the event is


FOB FALCON — For the first time in a generation, an art and culture show will be hosted in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad, Nov. 26.

Twenty renowned Iraqi artists, many of them professors at the Baghdad Art Institute, have agreed to participate in the Doura Art and Culture Show, “New Life, New Culture.”

The event’s organizer, Faruq Fu’ad Rafiq Hamdani of Baghdad’s Mansoor district, said he expects approximately 100 pieces of art including paintings, photographs, sculptures and conceptual art pieces to be displayed at the event.

“Southern Baghdad is not thought to be supportive of the arts,” explained Faruq, regarding the theme he personally selected. “Southern Baghdad has a reputation for violence, but this show will change that perception. This show will introduce a new way for the people of Iraq to live.”

The show will be hosted by Ali S. Al Khalid, the dean of the Doura Technical College, on the campus of his academic institution.

“This event will bring much prestige to the Rashid district, and it will provide an excellent educational opportunity for my students,” Ali said.

The Doura Technical College is located in the Rashid district of Baghdad, the dominant district of southern Baghdad consisting of 1.6 million residents.

Hashem Mahmood, the district’s elected deputy chairman, said he will preside over the opening ceremony of the show in recognition of his ardent support of the event.

“I have wanted to see something like this in Rashid for a long time,” Hashem said. “To my knowledge it has not been done in my lifetime.”

The Rashid District Council Chairman Yaqoub Yosif, said he also plans to support the event and plans to attend the opening day.

“I think this is a very good idea,” Yaqoub said. “Everyone I have spoken to about it likes it, too.”

Faruq, the event’s coordinator, as well as a contributing artist, said that the event began as a humble art show with eight contributing artists, but has since attracted the interest of many other members of the Baghdad cultural community, many of whom volunteered to participate for free.

The art show became an art and culture show with the addition of 12 more artists, a three-part orchestra, instructional lectures on art technique, local food purveyors and gifts for any adolescent attendants, he explained.

“This event constitutes an important contribution to redefining the way the world perceives Iraq,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Watson, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, attached to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad.

The battalion provided funding for the inaugural event, added Watson, who hails from San Diego.

“It is about creating a new cultural identity beyond that of violence and war,” Watson said. “It is about instilling pride in the Iraqi people for their own rich, cultural heritage.”

The “Warriors” Battalion of the 4th Inf. Regt., deployed to the Rashid district in support of MND-B and Operation Iraqi Freedom, is part of the 4th BCT, 10th Mountain Division, stationed at Fort Polk, La.

A civil society is one that admires artists, and has time to admire and critique and argue about their creations.  An advanced society is one that can generate and support an Army that promotes the art of a former enemy, to find peace. The Iraqi artists have the opportunity and social obligation to promote healing.

Yes, the war is over.  And it will be a great day when the last American division leaves Iraq, and Americans and Iraqis never fire another shot at each other, and we can honestly call each other “friends.”

 
23007  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: December 01, 2008, 09:23:11 AM
Full DBs.  Your time will come C-KD  smiley
23008  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: December 01, 2008, 04:55:30 AM
Thank you for that Rachel.

Here's this from the NYTimes today (Monday)

Chabad Movement Vows to Continue Work of Couple Killed in Attack
By CARA BUCKLEY
Published: November 30, 2008

For many Jews, they are homes away from home: Chabad Houses, welcoming outposts in foreign lands or across the United States, places to drop in to celebrate Hanukkah, Passover or weekly Shabbat dinners.

Almost always, the Chabad Houses are run by young couples, emissaries of the Chabad-Lubavitch denomination, a Hasidic faith with its headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, whose adherents believe that secular Jews ought to become more observant.

Two of those emissaries were killed when their Chabad House was among the buildings attacked by terrorists in Mumbai last week. In their deaths, the couple, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, and his wife Rivka, 28, drew a spotlight on the Chabad faith (the terms Chabad and Lubavitch are used interchangeably) — and to the emissaries’ growing presence around the world.

The number of Chabad Houses has mushroomed in the last decade, and now more than 4,000 husband-and-wife couples run them in 73 countries.

In 2003, the Holtzbergs, newly married, opened the first Chabad House in Mumbai.

Chabad leaders are quick to stress that the emissaries, called shluchim in Hebrew, are not missionaries. They do not try to convert non-Jews to Judaism. Instead, their mandate is to act as “lamplighters” by reaching out to secular Jews, often stopping people on city sidewalks and asking, “Are you Jewish?,” and trying to persuade them to deepen their faith.

The Chabad faith emerged 250 years in Russia ago as a branch of Hasidism. In 1951, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson became the spiritual leader, or rebbe, and under him, outreach bloomed.

“They pioneered Jewish outreach, and they developed techniques now used by other Jewish denominations,” said Sue Fishkoff, a journalist and author of the book “The Rebbe’s Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch.”

The Holtzbergs moved to Mumbai in August 2003. Mr. Holtzberg, who was born in Israel and had moved to Brooklyn in his teens, had nursed a dream of becoming a shliach emissary. He spent time as a student in the Chabad House in Bangkok, and helped open a house in south Thailand, according to Rabbi Yosef Kantor, who oversees new branches in Southeast Asia.

The region sees great numbers of Israeli and Jewish travelers, and the Chabad movement wanted to expand its presence there. The Holtzbergs, it was decided, were perfect for the Mumbai job. As a student, Mr. Holtzberg was noted as a nimble thinker and, according to Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, a spokesman for the Chabad movement in New York, for advancing Talmudic concepts. Mrs. Holtzberg seemed at once endlessly calm and energetic, said people who knew her.

Jewish groups are often wary when a Chabad House opens in a new city, but the Holtzbergs forged harmonious relationships in Mumbai, Ms. Fishkoff said. The couple’s home in the Colaba neighborhood, a popular destination for tourists, quickly became a favorite among Jewish backpackers, who were attracted to its welcoming air, Jewish art and the shelves lined with row after row of religious books.

“We talked and argued politics, discussed economics, shared our personal stories,” Olga Daniella Bakayeva, a recent guest, wrote in a post on Chabad.org after the Holtzbergs’ deaths were reported.

A week before the terrorists attacked, the 25th annual International Conference of the Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries began in New York. Mr. Holtzberg chose not to attend: his eldest son, who was gravely ill with a congenital disease, was in an Israeli hospital, and Mr. Holtzberg wanted to stay close to home.

On Thursday morning, hours after the terrorist siege began, the Holtzbergs’ Indian nanny managed to escape with the couple’s other child, Moshe, who turned 2 on Saturday. It was not until Saturday night that terrible images from the Chabad House, known as Nariman House, began to trickle out: photos of a blood-soaked floor of a library strewn with red-stained pages of holy books.

Some of the dead, including Mrs. Holtzberg, were found wrapped in prayer shawls. Witnesses speculated that the rabbi had managed to cover the bodies before he was killed.

The Chabad community was seized with horror and shock. They had not been so maliciously singled out in at least 50 years, Mr. Shmotkin said.

“You think about those who were so selfless, they had no other life than spreading love and goodness,” Mr. Shmotkin said. “To have them cut down in this kind of way is really unfathomable.”

Yet within hours after the news broke about the Holtzbergs’ deaths, young Chabad couples from around the world stepped forward, offering to move to Mumbai and continue the movement’s work.

Chabad leaders said the Mumbai house would be certain to reopen.

Isabel Kershner contributed reporting from Jerusalem.

More Articles in World » A version of this article appeared in print on December 1, 2008, on page A11 of the New York edition.
23009  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: December 01, 2008, 04:49:52 AM
Jihad’s True Face
By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Published: December 1, 2008

Much of the reporting from Mumbai the last few days has been informative, gripping and often moving. Some of the commentary, on the other hand, has been not just uninformative but counterinformative — if that’s a term, and if it’s not, I say it should be.

Consider first an op-ed article in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times by Martha Nussbaum, a well-known professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago. The article was headlined “Terrorism in India has many faces.” But one face that Nussbaum fails to mention specifically is that of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Islamic terror group originating in Pakistan that seems to have been centrally involved in the attack on Mumbai.

This is because Nussbaum’s main concern is not explaining or curbing Islamic terror. Rather, she writes that “if, as now seems likely, last week’s terrible events in Mumbai were the work of Islamic terrorists, that’s more bad news for India’s minority Muslim population.” She deplores past acts of Hindu terror against India’s Muslims. She worries about Muslim youths being rounded up on suspicion of terrorism with little or no evidence. And she notes that this is “an analogue to the current ugly phenomenon of racial profiling in the United States.”

So jihadists kill innocents in Mumbai — and Nussbaum ends up decrying racial profiling here. Is it just that liberal academics are required to include some alleged ugly American phenomenon in everything they write?

Jim Leach is also a professor, at Princeton, but he’s better known as a former moderate Republican congressman from Iowa who supported Barack Obama this year. His contribution over the weekend was to point out on Politico.com that “the Mumbai catastrophe underscores the importance of vocabulary.” This wouldn’t have been my first thought. But Leach believes it’s very important that we consider the Mumbai attack not as an act of “war” but as an act of “barbarism.”

Why? “The former implies a cause: a national or tribal or ethnic rationale that infuses a sacrificial action with some group’s view of heroism; the latter is an assault on civilized values, everyone’s. ... To the degree barbarism is a part of the human condition, Mumbai must be understood not just as an act related to a particular group but as an outbreak of pent-up irrationality that can occur anywhere, anytime. ... It may be true that the perpetrators viewed themselves as somehow justified in attacking Indians and visiting foreigners, particularly perhaps Americans, British and Israeli nationals. But a response that is the least nationalistic is likely to be the most effective.”

If, as Leach says, “it may be true” the perpetrators viewed themselves as justified in their attacks, doesn’t this mean that they did in fact have a “rationale” that “infused” their action?

But Leach doesn’t want to discuss that rationale — even though it’s not hard to find. Ten minutes of Googling will bring you to a fine article, “The Ideologies of South Asian Jihadi Groups,” from the April 2005 issue of Current Trends in Islamist Ideology. It’s by the respected journalist and diplomat Husain Haqqani, who, as it happens, is now Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States.

Lashkar-e-Taiba, Haqqani explains, is a jihadi group of Wahhabi persuasion, “backed by Saudi money and protected by Pakistani intelligence services.” He notes that “Lashkar-e-Taiba has adopted a maximalist agenda for global jihad.” Indeed, the political arm of the group has conveniently published a pamphlet, “Why Are We Waging Jihad?,” that lays out all kinds of reasons why the United States, Israel and India are “existential enemies of Islam.”

So much for Leach’s notion that the Mumbai terrorists had no “cause” or “rationale.” But Leach’s refusal to see this is in the service of persuading India not to respond in a “nationalistic” way — and of persuading the United States not to see itself primarily as standing with India against our common enemies.

But if terror groups are to be defeated, it is national governments that will have to do so. In nations like India (and the United States), governments will have to call on the patriotism of citizens to fight the terrorists. In a nation like Pakistan, the government will have to be persuaded to deal with those in their midst who are complicit. This can happen if those nations’ citizens decide they don’t want their own country to be dishonored by allegiances with terror groups. Otherwise, other nations may have to act.

Patriotism is an indispensable weapon in the defense of civilization against barbarism. That was brought home over the weekend in an article in The Times of India on Sandeep Unnikrishnan, a major in India’s National Security Guards who died fighting the terrorists at the Taj hotel. The reporter spoke with the young man’s parents as they mourned their son: “His father, dignified in the face of such a personal tragedy, was stoic, saying he was proud of his son who sacrificed his life for the country: ‘He died for the nation.’ ”
23010  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Bios on: December 01, 2008, 03:20:07 AM
A Howl to the Tribe:

If you are a Dog Brother and your picture and bio do not appear here on the website, please feel free to send them in at your convenience and inclination to info@dogbrothers.com

HCTHC,
CD
23011  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: December 01, 2008, 12:37:29 AM
F'g A!  grin

Next time we talk on the phone remind me to tell you the Newark story.
23012  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: SCA on: November 30, 2008, 10:08:16 PM
Woof Battlemaster:

Welcome!

As pointed out in the Rules of the Road thread, custom around here is to fit within existing threads wherever possible.  Therefore, the Search function and the Advanced Search function are our friends  smiley  Please search for SCA and see what you find and then post to the existing thread(s).

Yip!
Crafty Dog
23013  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India and India-Pak on: November 30, 2008, 09:37:10 AM
November 29, 2008 | 0627 GMT

Pakistan will not send the director-general to India, as had been announced earlier by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani,
but will send a representative in his place instead, Pakistani media
reported Nov. 28, citing sources within the prime minister's office. Gilani
had announced plans to send the ISI chief, Lt.-Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, to
assist with the Mumbai attacks investigation, following a conversation with
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

However, Gilani apparently irked the establishment in Islamabad by
consulting neither the army nor the Foreign Ministry before making that
decision. Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani subsequently notified Pakistani
President Asif Ali Zardari that Pasha would not be dispatched to India. Many
within Pakistan's military feel it would be humiliating to allow an official
of this stature to be summoned by the Indian government -- especially when
Singh's administration appears to be using some Indian media to generate
perceptions that it is taking a tough line with Pakistan. The Congress-led
coalition government in New Delhi is under political pressure from the
opposition, hard-line Bharatiya Janata Party and needs to show a firm
response to the attacks.

For New Delhi, creating perceptions that it had ordered Islamabad to send
the ISI chief to assist investigators was one way of achieving this goal,
but the visit also was intended as a way of gleaning intelligence on
Islamist militant groups. The Pakistanis would prefer not to rush into such
an undertaking. Sending an ISI representative instead of the
director-general himself is Islamabad's way of limiting pressure it faces
from New Delhi.

While a potentially serious international crisis is brewing with India, the
Mumbai attacks seem to have exacerbated civil-military tensions within
Pakistan also. It is no secret that the military establishment has been
uneasy since Pakistan People's Party leader Asif Ali Zardari became
president in early September. And the reversal of Gilani's announcement on
Nov. 28 marked the third time in only four months that military intervention
has forced the government to backtrack on issues involving the ISI.

In July, the government announced that the ISI directorate had been
placed under the control of the Interior Ministry. Within 24 hours, the PPP
reversed course, following an angry response from the military.

Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the ISI's
political wing had been dismantled. Again, within 24 hours, reports emerged
contradicting the statement - saying that the section was very much in
existence and had merely been made inactive.

These incidents notwithstanding, the civilian government remains persistent
- and at this juncture, it may have raised the stakes. While the world was
focused on the Mumbai attacks and their aftermath, Gilani announced Nov. 28
that his government would disband the National Security Council (NSC) -
created by former President Pervez Musharraf as a way of formalizing the
military's oversight of Pakistan's parliament and government. The 13-member
body comprises the president, prime minister, Senate chairman, National
Assembly speaker, the opposition leader in the National Assembly, the chief
ministers of Pakistan's four provinces, the chairman of the joint chiefs of
staff committee, and the chiefs of staff of the army, air force and navy.

By dissolving the NSC, the government likely is trying to eliminate the
military's ability to interfere in decision-making processes. The logic runs
that Pakistan's political, economic and security turmoil already has
undermined the military's position, and getting rid of the NSC would make it
more difficult for the military to control the government. The civilian
government's efforts to alter the civil-military balance, however, easily
could backfire: If the army -- the true power holding Pakistan together -
finds itself pressed on both the domestic and foreign policy fronts, it
could opt to send the PPP government packing.

An India-Pakistan crisis stemming from the Mumbai attacks is expected to
lead to instability in Pakistan. But it seems as though the crisis on the
domestic front may be developing parallel to that on the eastern border.
23014  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Acid Attacks on women on: November 30, 2008, 09:13:13 AM
A Judgement call as to whether to place this here on in the Gender Issues thread:
============

Acid attacks and wife burnings are common in parts of Asia because the victims are the most voiceless in these societies. Naeema Azar, above, was attacked by her husband after they divorced. Her 12-year-old son, Ahmed Shah, looks after her.

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: November 30, 2008
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan

Some terrible pictures of Naeema Azar's fac and as she normally presents herself, to avoid shocking people

Terrorism in this part of the world usually means bombs exploding or hotels burning, as the latest horrific scenes from Mumbai attest. Yet alongside the brutal public terrorism that fills the television screens, there is an equally cruel form of terrorism that gets almost no attention and thrives as a result: flinging acid on a woman’s face to leave her hideously deformed.

Here in Pakistan, I’ve been investigating such acid attacks, which are commonly used to terrorize and subjugate women and girls in a swath of Asia from Afghanistan through Cambodia (men are almost never attacked with acid). Because women usually don’t matter in this part of the world, their attackers are rarely prosecuted and acid sales are usually not controlled. It’s a kind of terrorism that becomes accepted as part of the background noise in the region.

This month in Afghanistan, men on motorcycles threw acid on a group of girls who dared to attend school. One of the girls, a 17-year-old named Shamsia, told reporters from her hospital bed: “I will go to my school even if they kill me. My message for the enemies is that if they do this 100 times, I am still going to continue my studies.”

When I met Naeema Azar, a Pakistani woman who had once been an attractive, self-confident real estate agent, she was wearing a black cloak that enveloped her head and face. Then she removed the covering, and I flinched.

Acid had burned away her left ear and most of her right ear. It had blinded her and burned away her eyelids and most of her face, leaving just bone.

Six skin grafts with flesh from her leg have helped, but she still cannot close her eyes or her mouth; she will not eat in front of others because it is too humiliating to have food slip out as she chews.

“Look at Naeema, she has lost her eyes,” sighed Shahnaz Bukhari, a Pakistani activist who founded an organization to help such women, and who was beginning to tear up. “She makes me cry every time she comes in front of me.”

Ms. Azar had earned a good income and was supporting her three small children when she decided to divorce her husband, Azar Jamsheed, a fruit seller who rarely brought money home. He agreed to end the (arranged) marriage because he had his eye on another woman.

After the divorce was final, Mr. Jamsheed came to say goodbye to the children, and then pulled out a bottle and poured acid on his wife’s face, according to her account and that of their son.

“I screamed,” Ms. Azar recalled. “The flesh of my cheeks was falling off. The bones on my face were showing, and all of my skin was falling off.”

Neighbors came running, as smoke rose from her burning flesh and she ran about blindly, crashing into walls. Mr. Jamsheed was never arrested, and he has since disappeared. (I couldn’t reach him for his side of the story.)

Ms. Azar has survived on the charity of friends and with support from Ms. Bukhari’s group, the Progressive Women’s Association (www.pwaisbd.org). Ms. Bukhari is raising money for a lawyer to push the police to prosecute Mr. Jamsheed, and to pay for eye surgery that — with a skilled surgeon — might be able to restore sight to one eye.

Bangladesh has imposed controls on acid sales to curb such attacks, but otherwise it is fairly easy in Asia to walk into a shop and buy sulfuric or hydrochloric acid suitable for destroying a human face.

Acid attacks and wife burnings are common in parts of Asia because the victims are the most voiceless in these societies: they are poor and female. The first step is simply for the world to take note, to give voice to these women.

Since 1994, Ms. Bukhari has documented 7,800 cases of women who were deliberately burned, scalded or subjected to acid attacks, just in the Islamabad area. In only 2 percent of those cases was anyone convicted.

For the last two years, Senators Joe Biden and Richard Lugar have co-sponsored an International Violence Against Women Act, which would adopt a range of measures to spotlight such brutality and nudge foreign governments to pay heed to it. Let’s hope that with Mr. Biden’s new influence the bill will pass in the next Congress.

That might help end the silence and culture of impunity surrounding this kind of terrorism.

The most haunting part of my visit with Ms. Azar, aside from seeing her face, was a remark by her 12-year-old son, Ahsan Shah, who lovingly leads her around everywhere. He told me that in one house where they stayed for a time after the attack, a man upstairs used to beat his wife every day and taunt her, saying: “You see the woman downstairs who was burned by her husband? I’ll burn you just the same way.”

I invite you to comment on this column on my blog www.nytimes.com/ontheground, and join me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kristof.

Frank Rich is off today.

23015  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Whittling/carving on: November 30, 2008, 09:05:33 AM
Thank you C-HD.

Right now I am thinking more in terms of a readily workable wood for a nine year old boy than ones that will produce the highest quality result.  By this criterion, how do these woods measure up?
23016  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Steyn: It's not the Cold War on: November 30, 2008, 08:58:06 AM
I've moved this excellent post by GM to this thread.
===============

**Mark Steyn gets the most important lesson here.**

November 29, 2008, 9:00 a.m.

It’s Not the Cold War
Updating strategy to fight the ideology.

By Mark Steyn

When terrorists attack, media analysts go into Sherlock Holmes mode, metaphorically prowling the crime scene for footprints, as if the way to solve the mystery is to add up all the clues. The Bombay gunmen seized British and American tourists. Therefore, it must be an attack on Westerners!

Not so, said Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria. If they’d wanted to do that, they’d have hit the Hilton or the Marriott or some other target-rich chain hotel. The Taj and the Oberoi are both Indian owned, and popular watering holes with wealthy Indians.

Okay, how about this group that’s claimed credit for the attack? The Deccan Mujahideen. As a thousand TV anchors asked on Wednesday night, “What do we know about them?”

Er, well, nothing. Because they didn’t exist until they issued the press release. “Deccan” is the name of the vast plateau that covers most of the triangular peninsula that forms the lower half of the Indian sub-continent. It comes from the Prakrit word “dakkhin, which means “south.” Which means nothing at all. “Deccan Mujahideen” is like calling yourself the “Continental Shelf Liberation Front.”

Okay. So does that mean this operation was linked to al-Qaeda? Well, no. Not if by “linked to” you mean a wholly owned subsidiary coordinating its activities with the corporate head office.

It’s not an either/or scenario, it’s all of the above. Yes, the terrorists targeted locally owned hotels. But they singled out Britons and Americans as hostages. Yes, they attacked prestige city landmarks like the Victoria Terminus, one of the most splendid and historic railway stations in the world. But they also attacked an obscure Jewish community center. The Islamic imperialist project is a totalitarian ideology: It is at war with Hindus, Jews, Americans, Britons, everything that is other.

In the ten months before this week’s atrocity, Muslim terrorists killed over 200 people in India and no-one paid much attention. Just business as usual, alas. In Bombay, the perpetrators were cannier. They launched a multiple indiscriminate assault on soft targets, and then in the confusion began singling out A-list prey: Not just wealthy Western tourists, but local orthodox Jews, and municipal law enforcement. They drew prominent officials to selected sites, and then gunned down the head of the antiterrorism squad and two of his most senior lieutenants. They attacked a hospital, the place you’re supposed to take the victims to, thereby destabilizing the city’s emergency-response system.

And, aside from dozens of corpses, they were rewarded with instant, tangible, economic damage to India: the Bombay Stock Exchange was still closed on Friday, and the England cricket team canceled their tour (a shameful act).

What’s relevant about the Mumbai model is that it would work in just about any second-tier city in any democratic state: Seize multiple soft targets and overwhelm the municipal infrastructure to the point where any emergency plan will simply be swamped by the sheer scale of events. Try it in, say, Mayor Nagin’s New Orleans. All you need is the manpower. Given the numbers of gunmen, clearly there was a significant local component. On the other hand, whether or not Pakistan’s deeply sinister ISI had their fingerprints all over it, it would seem unlikely that there was no external involvement. After all, if you look at every jihad front from the London Tube bombings to the Iraqi insurgency, you’ll find local lads and wily outsiders: That’s pretty much a given.



But we’re in danger of missing the forest for the trees. The forest is the ideology. It’s the ideology that determines whether you can find enough young hotshot guys in the neighborhood willing to strap on a suicide belt or (rather more promising as a long-term career) at least grab an AK and shoot up a hotel lobby. Or, if active terrorists are a bit thin on the ground, whether you can count at least on some degree of broader support on the ground. You’re sitting in some distant foreign capital but you’re minded to pull off a Bombay-style operation in, say, Amsterdam or Manchester or Toronto. Where would you start? Easy. You know the radical mosques, and the other ideological-front organizations. You’ve already made landfall.

It’s missing the point to get into debates about whether this is the “Deccan Mujahideen” or the ISI or al-Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taiba. That’s a reductive argument. It could be all or none of them. The ideology has been so successfully seeded around the world that nobody needs a memo from corporate HQ to act: There are so many of these subgroups and individuals that they intersect across the planet in a million different ways. It’s not the Cold War, with a small network of deep sleepers being directly controlled by Moscow. There are no membership cards, only an ideology. That’s what has radicalized hitherto moderate Muslim communities from Indonesia to the Central Asian stans to Yorkshire, and coopted what started out as more or less conventional nationalist struggles in the Caucasus and the Balkans into mere tentacles of the global jihad.

Many of us, including the incoming Obama administration, look at this as a law-enforcement matter. Bombay is a crime scene, so let’s surround the perimeter with yellow police tape, send in the forensics squad, and then wait for the DA to file charges. There was a photograph that appeared in many of the British papers, taken by a Reuters man and captioned by the news agency as follows: “A suspected gunman walks outside the premises of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or Victoria Terminus railway station.” The photo of the “suspected gunman” showed a man holding a gun. We don’t know much about him — he might be Muslim or Episcopalian, he might be an impoverished uneducated victim of western colonialist economic oppression or a former vice-president of Lehman Bros embarking on an exciting midlife career change — but one thing we ought to be able to say for certain is that a man pointing a gun is not a “suspected gunman” but a gunman. “This kind of silly political correctness infects reporters and news services world-wide,” wrote John Hinderaker of Powerline. “They think they’re being scrupulous — the man hasn’t been convicted of being a gunman yet! — when in fact they’re just being foolish. But the irrational conviction that nothing can be known unless it has been determined by a court and jury isn’t just silly, it’s dangerous.”

Just so. This isn’t law enforcement but an ideological assault — and we’re fighting the symptoms not the cause. Islamic imperialists want an Islamic society, not just in Palestine and Kashmir but in the Netherlands and Britain, too. Their chances of getting it will be determined by the ideology’s advance among the general Muslim population, and the general Muslim population’s demographic advance among everybody else.

So Bush is history, and we have a new president who promises to heal the planet, and yet the jihadists don’t seem to have got the Obama message that there are no enemies, just friends we haven’t yet held talks without preconditions with. This isn’t about repudiating the Bush years, or withdrawing from Iraq, or even liquidating Israel. It’s bigger than that. And if you don’t have a strategy for beating back the ideology, you’ll lose.

Whoops, my apologies. I mean “suspected ideology.”
 

© 2008 Mark Steyn

National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YTk5YzgwZDc3NTliMDAwM2QxOGNjOWRmNTZjZTZmNDY=
23017  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO's Iraq Inheritance on: November 30, 2008, 08:51:40 AM
Even TF acknowledges what is happening in Iraq-- the last two paragraphs are gibberish IMHO though.
==========================================================

Obama’s Iraq Inheritance
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: November 29, 2008
NYT

Here’s a story you don’t see very often. Iraq’s highest court told the Iraqi Parliament last Monday that it had no right to strip one of its members of immunity so he could be prosecuted for an alleged crime: visiting Israel for a seminar on counterterrorism. The Iraqi justices said the Sunni lawmaker, Mithal al-Alusi, had committed no crime and told the Parliament to back off.

That’s not all. The Iraqi newspaper Al-Umma al-Iraqiyya carried an open letter signed by 400 Iraqi intellectuals, both Kurdish and Arab, defending Alusi. That takes a lot of courage and a lot of press freedom. I can’t imagine any other Arab country today where independent judges would tell the government it could not prosecute a parliamentarian for visiting Israel — and intellectuals would openly defend him in the press.

In the case of Iraq, though, the federal high court, in a unanimous decision, vacated the Parliament’s rescinding of Alusi’s immunity, with the decision delivered personally by Chief Justice Medhat al-Mahmoud. The decision explained that although a 1950s-era law made traveling to Israel a crime punishable by death, Iraq’s new Constitution establishes freedom to travel. Therefore the Parliament’s move was “illegal and unconstitutional because the current Constitution does not prevent citizens from traveling to any country in the world,” Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar, spokesman for the court, told The Associated Press. The judgment even made the Parliament speaker responsible for the expenses of the court and the defense counsel!

I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect Iraq to have relations with Israel anytime soon, but the fact that it may be developing an independent judiciary is good news. It’s a reminder of the most important reason for the Iraq war: to try to collaborate with Iraqis to build progressive politics and rule of law in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world, a region that stands out for its lack of consensual politics and independent judiciaries. And it’s a reminder that a decent outcome may still be possible in Iraq, especially now that the Parliament has endorsed the U.S.-Iraqi plan for a 2011 withdrawal of American troops.

Al Qaeda has not been fully defeated in Iraq; suicide bombings are still an almost daily reality. But it has been dealt a severe blow, which I believe is one reason the Muslim jihadists — those brave warriors who specialize in killing women and children and defenseless tourists — have turned their attention to softer targets like India. Just as they tried to stoke a Shiite-Sunni civil war in Iraq, and failed, they are now trying to stoke a Hindu-Muslim civil war in India.

If Iraq can keep improving — still uncertain — and become a place where Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites can write their own social contract and live together with a modicum of stability, it could one day become a strategic asset for the United States in the post-9/11 effort to promote different politics in the Arab-Muslim world.

How so? Iraq is a geopolitical space that for the last three decades of the 20th century was dominated by a Baathist dictatorship, which, though it provided a bulwark against Iranian expansion, did so at the cost of a regime that murdered tens of thousands of its own people and attacked three of its neighbors.

In 2003, the United States, under President Bush, invaded Iraq to change the regime. Terrible postwar execution and unrelenting attempts by Al Qaeda to provoke a Sunni-Shiite civil war turned the Iraqi geopolitical space into a different problem — a maelstrom of violence for four years, with U.S. troops caught in the middle. A huge price was paid by Iraqis and Americans. This was the Iraq that Barack Obama ran against.

In the last year, though, the U.S. troop surge and the backlash from moderate Iraqi Sunnis against Al Qaeda and Iraqi Shiites against pro-Iranian extremists have brought a new measure of stability to Iraq. There is now, for the first time, a chance — still only a chance — that a reasonably stable democratizing government, though no doubt corrupt in places, can take root in the Iraqi political space.

That is the Iraq that Obama is inheriting. It is an Iraq where we have to begin drawing down our troops — because the occupation has gone on too long and because we have now committed to do so by treaty — but it is also an Iraq that has the potential to eventually tilt the Arab-Muslim world in a different direction.

I’m sure that Obama, whatever he said during the campaign, will play this smart. He has to avoid giving Iraqi leaders the feeling that Bush did — that he’ll wait forever for them to sort out their politics — while also not suggesting that he is leaving tomorrow, so they all start stockpiling weapons.

If he can pull this off, and help that decent Iraq take root, Obama and the Democrats could not only end the Iraq war but salvage something positive from it. Nothing would do more to enhance the Democratic Party’s national security credentials than that.

More Articles in Opinion » A version of this article appeared in print on November 30, 2008, on page WK8 of the New York edition.
23018  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Germany loves Iran on: November 29, 2008, 09:27:08 AM
The recent U.N. report that Iran may have enough nuclear material to build an atomic bomb is causing concern in Germany -- not over an Islamic bomb, but over the risk of tougher U.N. sanctions.


The German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce sponsored a seminar this week in Hamburg entitled "Iran Sanctions -- Practical Consequences for German Companies." The session was designed to help firms in "these difficult times" -- a reference to U.N. trade sanctions, not the global economy. Speakers included Sabine Hummerich from Bank Melli, Iran's largest bank. In June, the European Union froze Bank Melli's assets because of its ties to Tehran's nuclear program and barred dealings with the bank. This didn't stop organizers from inviting Ms. Hummerich to lecture about the "Financial Transaction of Iranian Business Deals."

As Europe's largest exporter to Iran, Germany has unique leverage over the regime. But Berlin refuses to use it. German exports to Iran are up 14.1% in the first seven months of this year. The Islamic Republic is so popular in Germany that another group, Management Circle, is planning a two-day crash course next month in Frankfurt. The program lists seven reasons for doing business with Iran, including "traditional good economic and political relations with Germany."

Readers may recall that Barack Obama assailed President Bush for not doing more diplomatically to contain Iran, including more vigorous sanctions. Job one on that score for Mr. Obama would seem to be persuading his many admirers in Germany. Good luck.

 
23019  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: "Our Culture is better" on: November 29, 2008, 09:17:35 AM
By his own description, Geert Wilders is not a typical Dutch politician. "We are a country of consensus," he tells me on a recent Saturday morning at his midtown Manhattan hotel. "I hate consensus. I like confrontation. I am not a consensus politician. . . . This is something that is really very un-Dutch."

 
Zina SaundersYet the 45-year-old Mr. Wilders says he is the most famous politician in the Netherlands: "Everybody knows me. . . . There is no other politician -- not even the prime minister -- who is as well-known. . . . People hate me, or they love me. There's nothing in between. There is no gray area."

To his admirers, Mr. Wilders is a champion of Western values on a continent that has lost confidence in them. To his detractors, he is an anti-Islamic provocateur. Both sides have a point.

In March, Mr. Wilders released a short film called "Fitna," a harsh treatment of Islam that begins by interspersing inflammatory Quran passages with newspaper and TV clips depicting threats and acts of violent jihad. The second half of the film, titled "The Netherlands Under the Spell of Islam," warns that Holland's growing Muslim population -- which more than doubled between 1990 and 2004, to 944,000, some 5.8% of the populace -- poses a threat to the country's traditional liberal values. Under the heading, "The Netherlands in the future?!" it shows brutal images from Muslim countries: men being hanged for homosexuality, a beheaded woman, another woman apparently undergoing genital mutilation.

Making such a film, Mr. Wilders knew, was a dangerous act. In November 2004, Theo van Gogh was assassinated on an Amsterdam street in retaliation for directing a film called "Submission" about Islam's treatment of women. The killer, Mohammed Bouyeri, left a letter on van Gogh's body threatening Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the film's writer and narrator.

Ms. Hirsi Ali, born in Somalia, had renounced Islam and been elected to the Dutch Parliament, where she was an ally of Mr. Wilders. Both belonged to the center-right People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, known by the Dutch acronym VVD. Both took a hard line on what they saw as an overly accommodationist policy toward the Netherlands' Muslim minority. They argued that radical imams "should be stripped of their nationality," that their mosques should be closed, and that "we should be strong in defending the rights of women," Mr. Wilders tells me.

This made them dissenters within the VVD. "We got into trouble every week," Mr. Wilders recalls. "We were like children going to their parents if they did something wrong, because every week they hassled us. . . . We really didn't care what anybody said. If the factional leadership said, 'Well, you cannot go to this TV program,' for us it was an incentive to go, not not to go. So we were a little bit of two mavericks, rebels if you like."

Mr. Wilders finally quit the party over its support for opening negotiations to admit Turkey into the European Union. That was in September 2004. "Two months later, Theo van Gogh was killed, and the whole world changed," says Mr. Wilders. He and Ms. Hirsi Ali both went into hiding; he still travels with bodyguards. After a VVD rival threatened to strip Ms. Hirsi Ali's citizenship over misstatements on her 1992 asylum application, she left Parliament and took a fellowship at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. Mr. Wilders stayed on and formed the Party for Freedom, or PVV. In 2006 it became Parliament's fifth-largest party, with nine seats in the 150-member lower chamber.

Having his own party liberates Mr. Wilders to speak his mind. As he sees it, the West suffers from an excess of toleration for those who do not share its tradition of tolerance. "We believe that -- 'we' means the political elite -- that all cultures are equal," he says. "I believe this is the biggest disease today facing Europe. . . . We should wake up and tell ourselves: You're not a xenophobe, you're not a racist, you're not a crazy guy if you say, 'My culture is better than yours.' A culture based on Christianity, Judaism, humanism is better. Look at how we treat women, look at how we treat apostates, look at how we go with the separation of church and state. I can give you 500 examples why our culture is better."

He acknowledges that "the majority of Muslims in Europe and America are not terrorists or violent people." But he says "it really doesn't matter that much, because if you don't define your own culture as the best, dominant one, and you allow through immigration people from those countries to come in, at the end of the day you will lose your own identity and your own culture, and your society will change. And our freedom will change -- all the freedoms we have will change."

The murder of van Gogh lends credence to this warning, as does the Muhammad cartoon controversy of 2005 in Denmark. As for "Fitna," it has not occasioned a violent response, but its foes have made efforts to suppress it. A Dutch Muslim organization went to court seeking to enjoin its release on the ground that, in Mr. Wilders's words, "it's not in the interest of Dutch security." The plaintiffs also charged Mr. Wilders with blasphemy and inciting hatred. Mr. Wilders thought the argument frivolous, but decided to pre-empt it: "The day before the verdict, I broadcasted ['Fitna'] . . . not because I was not confident in the outcome, but I thought: I'm not taking any chance, I'm doing it. And it was legal, because there was not a verdict yet." The judge held that the national-security claim was moot and ruled in Mr. Wilders's favor on the issues of blasphemy and incitement.

Dutch television stations had balked at broadcasting the film, and satellite companies refused to carry it even for a fee. So Mr. Wilders released it online. The British video site LiveLeak.com soon pulled the film, citing "threats to our staff of a very serious nature," but put it back online a few days later. ("Fitna" is still available on LiveLeak, as well as on other sites such as YouTube and Google Video.)

An organization called The Netherlands Shows Its Colors filed a criminal complaint against Mr. Wilders for "inciting hatred." In June, Dutch prosecutors declined to pursue the charge, saying in a statement: "That comments are hurtful and offensive for a large number of Muslims does not mean that they are punishable." The group is appealing the prosecutors' decision.

In July, a Jordanian prosecutor, acting on a complaint from a pressure group there, charged Mr. Wilders with blasphemy and other crimes. The Netherlands has no extradition treaty with Jordan, but Mr. Wilders worries -- and the head of the group that filed the complaint has boasted -- that the indictment could restrict his ability to travel. Mr. Wilders says he does not visit a foreign country without receiving an assurance that he will not be arrested and extradited.

"The principle is not me -- it's not about Geert Wilders," he says. "If you look at the press and the rest of the political elite in the Netherlands, nobody cares. Nobody gives a damn. This is the worst thing, maybe. . . . A nondemocratic country cannot use the international or domestic legal system to silence you. . . . If this starts, we can get rid of all parliaments, and we should close down every newspaper, and we should shut up and all pray to Mecca five times a day."

It is difficult to fault Mr. Wilders's impassioned defense of free speech. And although the efforts to silence him via legal harassment have proved far from successful, he rightly points out that they could have a chilling effect, deterring others from speaking out.

Mr. Wilders's views on Islam, though, are problematic. Since 9/11, American political leaders have struggled with the question of how to describe the ideology of the enemy without making enemies of the world's billion or so Muslims. The various terms they have tried -- "Islamic extremism," "Islamism," "Islamofascism" -- have fallen short of both clarity and melioration. Melioration is not Mr. Wilders's highest priority, and to him the truth couldn't be clearer: The problem is Islam itself. "I see Islam more as an ideology than as a religion," he explains.

In today's Opinion Journal
 
His own view of Islam is a fundamentalist one: "According to the Quran, there are no moderate Muslims. It's not Geert Wilders who's saying that, it's the Quran . . . saying that. It's many imams in the world who decide that. It's the people themselves who speak about it and talk about the terrible things -- the genital mutilation, the honor killings. This is all not Geert Wilders, but those imams themselves who say this is the best way of Islam."

Yet he insists that his antagonism toward Islam reflects no antipathy toward Muslims: "I make a distinction between the ideology . . . and the people. . . . There are people who call themselves Muslims and don't subscribe to the full part of the Quran. And those people, of course, we should invest [in], we should talk to." He says he would end Muslim immigration to the Netherlands but work to assimilate those already there.

His idea of how to do so, however, seems unlikely to win many converts: "You have to give up this stupid, fascist book" -- the Quran. "This is what you have to do. You have to give up that book."

Mr. Wilders is right to call for a vigilant defense of liberal principles. A society has a right, indeed a duty, to require that religious minorities comply with secular rules of civilized behavior. But to demand that they renounce their religious identity and holy books is itself an affront to liberal principles.

Mr. Taranto, a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, writes the Best of the Web Today column for OpinionJournal.com
23020  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: November 29, 2008, 09:04:58 AM
Rachel posted on "Ephemeral Conversation" on the Internet Tech thread-- it is also quite relevant to this thread here.
23021  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: R.I.P. on: November 29, 2008, 08:56:31 AM
Thank you for that Rachel.

If you have a free moment to continue fleshing out my meager Jewish education on a suitable thread (perhaps The Power of Word) with regard to Chabad, I would be grateful for it.
23022  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Whittling/carving on: November 29, 2008, 08:52:11 AM
Woof All:

My 9 year old son has gotten into whittling with the knife I gave him.  Recently while my portable chess set was in his care a bishop disappeared and so he carved a replacement. 

Out of this has grown the idea of carving an entire set.  Question presented:  Of the commonly available woods, which is the most desirable/easy to work with? 

I was very impressed with GM Sonny Umpad's carvings; perhaps one of his people (or anyone else) here can offer suggestions?

TIA,
CD

23023  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Egypt: Coptic Church attacked on: November 29, 2008, 08:40:45 AM
11/27/2008 15:34

EGYPT

Thousands of Muslims attack Coptic church in Cairo

On the day of the inauguration of a church in the suburbs of the Egyptian capital, Islamic demonstrators have attacked the building, forcing about 800 faithful to barricade themselves inside the church.


Cairo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Several thousand Muslims have attacked the Coptic church of the Virgin Mary in West Ain Shams, in the suburbs of Cairo. 800 faithful attending the first liturgy remained barricaded inside the church.

The demonstrators attacked the building on the day of its inauguration, November 23. The strife began in the early hours of the morning when a group of Muslims took possession of the first floor of a building in front of the church, turning it into a place of prayer. At about five o'clock in the afternoon, other demonstrators blocked the road on both sides, and began the attack. The building was originally a factory, but has been modified as a place of worship for the Orthodox Coptic community, after a bureaucratic process that lasted five years.

It is the latest of many acts of violence against Christians. The Copts are the main religious minority living in Egypt, and represent 15% of the population, out of a total of 80 million inhabitants. Over the last 30 years, it is estimated that about 4,000 Christians have been killed or injured in attacks. In 2008, there have been dozens of events similar to the one that happened to the community in the suburb of Cairo.

Interviewed by AsiaNews, Fr. Milad Sidky Zakhary, director of the Catholic Institute of religious studies in Cairo, explains: "The problem is that legal authorization is not given easily to Christians to build churches. It often happens that communities are groups are forced to meet in homes or private buildings in order to fulfill the Sunday precept. If anyone discovers them, they do not report it to the authorities, but directly attack the faithful."

According to Voice of the Copts, A Coptic Christian association based in Italy and the United States, about 10,000 demonstrators attacked the church. Other local sources say that there were 20,000, and report that, when the police came, the crowd moved on to the businesses and property owned by Christians in the neighborhood, waving clubs and chanting incitements to jihad. According to reports, two cars were burned, and five people were injured, in addition to the damage to the newly consecrated church.

Witnesses say that there were also women and children among the demonstrators. Video taken at the moment of the attack on the church has been published on the website of the agency Assyrian International.

http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=13869&size=A
23024  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / "Unarmed security"? WTF? on: November 29, 2008, 08:30:53 AM

It is hard to be a security guard if your unarmed!


By KATHARINE HOURELD

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - Somali pirates hijacked a chemical tanker with dozens of Indian crew members Friday and a helicopter rescued three British security guards who had jumped into the sea, officials said.

A warship on patrol nearby sent helicopters to intervene in the attack, but they arrived after pirates had taken control of the Liberian-flagged ship, according to Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Malaysia.

The ship master had sent a distress call to the piracy reporting center, which relayed the alert to international forces policing Somali waters, Choong said. No details about how the pirates attacked or the condition of the crew were available immediately.

Choong said the ship was being operated out of Singapore.

Still on board were 25 Indian and two Bangladeshi crew members, said diplomats who could not be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media. The British security guards escaped by jumping into the water, said a news release issued by their company, Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions.

The company said it was aware of the incident on the chemical tanker it identified as M/V BISCAGLIA.

"We have been informed by coalition military authorities that three of our unarmed security staff were rescued from the water by a coalition helicopter and are currently on board a coalition warship in the Gulf of Aden," the company statement said.

German Defense Ministry spokesman Thomas Raabe confirmed that a naval helicopter lifted three people out of the water in the Gulf of Aden at about 4 a.m. Friday morning and deposited them on a French ship. Germany and France have ships in the area as part of a NATO fleet which, along with warships from Denmark, India, Malaysia, Russia and the U.S., have started patrolling the vast maritime corridor. They escort some merchant ships and respond to distress calls.

The ship hijacked Friday was the 97th vessel to be attacked this year off Somalia, where an Islamic insurgency and lack of effective government have contributed to an increase in pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden.

Ships "must continue to maintain a 24-hour vigil and radar watch so they can take early measures to escape pirates. Even though there are patrols, the warships cannot be everywhere at the same time," Choong said.

Pirates have become increasingly brazen in the Gulf, a major international shipping lane through which about 20 tankers sail daily.
Forty ships have been hijacked this year, including a Saudi supertanker loaded with $100 million worth of crude oil Nov. 15.
Pirates demanding multimillion-dollar ransoms hold 15 ships and near 300 crew, Choong said.

Somalia, an impoverished nation in the Horn of Africa, has not had a functioning government since 1991.

---

Associated Press Writer Sean Yoong contributed to this report from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
23025  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / And some gave all on: November 27, 2008, 08:49:27 PM
posted in this thread because of the last two pictures.
23026  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Action Flex Sticks Question? on: November 27, 2008, 08:25:05 PM
Amen to that "Support the Tribe"!
23027  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Looking for fighters for stickfighting TV series on: November 27, 2008, 08:23:27 PM
I am sitting in a van at 5500' in front of a pizza shop on a lap top at the moment (long story, don't ask) but it is looking like we can extend the intitial application deadline to early January.  More next week.

TAC!
23028  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Geo consequences of Mumbai attacks on: November 27, 2008, 08:16:47 PM
Timely and gracious.  Forward.

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

Red Alert: Possible Geopolitical Consequences of the Mumbai Attacks (Open Access)
Stratfor Today » November 27, 2008 | 0434 GMT

PAL PILLAI/AFP/Getty Images
A fire in the dome of the Taj Hotel in Mumbai on Nov. 26Summary
If the Nov. 26 attacks in Mumbai were carried out by Islamist militants as it appears, the Indian government will have little choice, politically speaking, but to blame them on Pakistan. That will in turn spark a crisis between the two nuclear rivals that will draw the United States into the fray.

Analysis
Related Special Topic Page
Militant Attacks In Mumbai and Their Consequences
At this point the situation on the ground in Mumbai remains unclear following the militant attacks of Nov. 26. But in order to understand the geopolitical significance of what is going on, it is necessary to begin looking beyond this event at what will follow. Though the situation is still in motion, the likely consequences of the attack are less murky.

We will begin by assuming that the attackers are Islamist militant groups operating in India, possibly with some level of outside support from Pakistan. We can also see quite clearly that this was a carefully planned, well-executed attack.

Given this, the Indian government has two choices. First, it can simply say that the perpetrators are a domestic group. In that case, it will be held accountable for a failure of enormous proportions in security and law enforcement. It will be charged with being unable to protect the public. On the other hand, it can link the attack to an outside power: Pakistan. In that case it can hold a nation-state responsible for the attack, and can use the crisis atmosphere to strengthen the government’s internal position by invoking nationalism. Politically this is a much preferable outcome for the Indian government, and so it is the most likely course of action. This is not to say that there are no outside powers involved — simply that, regardless of the ground truth, the Indian government will claim there were.

That, in turn, will plunge India and Pakistan into the worst crisis they have had since 2002. If the Pakistanis are understood to be responsible for the attack, then the Indians must hold them responsible, and that means they will have to take action in retaliation — otherwise, the Indian government’s domestic credibility will plunge. The shape of the crisis, then, will consist of demands that the Pakistanis take immediate steps to suppress Islamist radicals across the board, but particularly in Kashmir. New Delhi will demand that this action be immediate and public. This demand will come parallel to U.S. demands for the same actions, and threats by incoming U.S. President Barack Obama to force greater cooperation from Pakistan.

If that happens, Pakistan will find itself in a nutcracker. On the one side, the Indians will be threatening action — deliberately vague but menacing — along with the Americans. This will be even more intense if it turns out, as currently seems likely, that Americans and Europeans were being held hostage (or worse) in the two hotels that were attacked. If the attacks are traced to Pakistan, American demands will escalate well in advance of inauguration day.

There is a precedent for this. In 2002 there was an attack on the Indian parliament in Mumbai by Islamist militants linked to Pakistan. A near-nuclear confrontation took place between India and Pakistan, in which the United States brokered a stand-down in return for intensified Pakistani pressure on the Islamists. The crisis helped redefine the Pakistani position on Islamist radicals in Pakistan.

In the current iteration, the demands will be even more intense. The Indians and Americans will have a joint interest in forcing the Pakistani government to act decisively and immediately. The Pakistani government has warned that such pressure could destabilize Pakistan. The Indians will not be in a position to moderate their position, and the Americans will see the situation as an opportunity to extract major concessions. Thus the crisis will directly intersect U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan.

It is not clear the degree to which the Pakistani government can control the situation. But the Indians will have no choice but to be assertive, and the United States will move along the same line. Whether it is the current government in India that reacts, or one that succeeds doesn’t matter. Either way, India is under enormous pressure to respond. Therefore the events point to a serious crisis not simply between Pakistan and India, but within Pakistan as well, with the government caught between foreign powers and domestic realities. Given the circumstances, massive destabilization is possible — never a good thing with a nuclear power.

This is thinking far ahead of the curve, and is based on an assumption of the truth of something we don’t know for certain yet, which is that the attackers were Muslims and that the Pakistanis will not be able to demonstrate categorically that they weren’t involved. Since we suspect they were Muslims, and since we doubt the Pakistanis can be categorical and convincing enough to thwart Indian demands, we suspect that we will be deep into a crisis within the next few days, very shortly after the situation on the ground clarifies itself.
stratfor
23029  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Looking for fighters for stickfighting TV series on: November 25, 2008, 04:03:47 PM
Some nice applications starting to come in. cool
23030  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson: The foundation on: November 25, 2008, 08:28:30 AM
Nice find.
==========

"I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground that 'all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people.' To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of  Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, not longer susceptible of any definition."

—Thomas Jefferson (Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank, 15 February 1791)
23031  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Holy Land Foundation convicted on: November 24, 2008, 08:10:04 PM
Jury finds US-based Muslim charity guilty of funding terrorism

DALLAS, Texas (AFP) — The leaders of what was once the largest Muslim charity in the United States were found guilty Monday of acting as a front for Palestinian militants in the largest terrorism financing prosecution in American history.

It was a major victory in the White House's legal "war on terror" and comes after a mistrial was declared last year in the case involving the now defunct Texas-based Holy Land Foundation, charged with funneling 12 million dollars to Hamas.

Family members could be heard sobbing in the Dallas courtroom as guilty verdicts were read on all 108 charges of providing material support to terrorists, money laundering and tax fraud.

One woman cried out: "My dad is not a criminal! He's a human!"

Holy Land was one of several Muslim organizations the Bush administration closed in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks for allegedly raising money for overseas Islamic extremists.

Muslim charities that remain open have reported significant drops in contributions because of fears of prosecution even as juries rendered acquittals or convictions of lesser charges in two other high-profile terror financing cases in Florida and Chicago. The US Justice Department vowed in October 2007 to retry the five former charity organizers in the Holy Land case after jurors could not agree on verdicts on nearly 200 charges and a new jury was seated in mid-September.

Over the past two months, the government has presented largely the same evidence, hoping to prove that Holy Land was created in the late 1980s to gather donations from deep-pocketed American Muslims to support the then-newly formed Hamas movement resisting the Israeli occupation.

Hamas -- a multi-faceted Islamist political, social and armed movement which now controls the Gaza Strip -- was designated a terrorist organization by the United States in 1995 and the trial centered over whether Holy Land continued to support the group after this point.

Prosecutors did not accuse the charity of directly financing or being involved in terrorist activity. Instead, they said humanitarian aid was used to promote Hamas and allow it to divert existing funds to militant activities.

"The government showed in a streamlined case that where special assistance to the families of terrorists is concerned, cash is the moral equivalent of a car bomb," Peter Margulies, a Roger Williams University law professor who studies terrorism financing cases.
"Going forward, however, the government must be more pro-active about furnishing guidance to Muslim-Americans who merely wish to fulfill their religious obligations."

Defense attorneys said the charity was a non-political organization which operated legally to get much-needed aid to Palestinians living in squalor under the Israeli occupation, and argued that the chief reasons their clients were on trial are family ties.

Khaled Meshaal, Hamas' political leader in Syria, is the brother of defendant Mufid Abdulqader, a top Holy Land fundraiser whose Palestinian band played at the charity's events and now faces up to 55 years in jail.

Meshaal's deputy, Mousa Abu Marzook, is a cousin of defendant Mohammad el-Mezain, a foundation co-founder, and is married to the cousin of defendant Ghassan Elashi, former Holy Land board chairman.  Mezain faces up to 15 years in prison while Elashi, who is already serving six and a half years for export law violations, faces up to life in prison.  The brother of defendant Shukri Abu Baker, Holy Land's former chief executive officer, is Jamal Issa, former Hamas leader in Sudan and its current head in Yemen. Baker, the former chief executive officer of Holy Land, faces up to life in prison.  A fifth defendant is Abdulrahman Odeh, Holy Land's New Jersey representative, who faces up to 55 years in jail.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp...YKGSp5jw-BCgEQ
23032  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: November 24, 2008, 08:04:49 PM
We have already seen litigation aimed at forcing the Boy Scouts out of the public sphere e.g. not being able to use city facilities because they don't want to have gay scoutmasters.

Just this weekend I went with my Cub Scout son on a joint camping trip with the Boy Scouts.  Time will come when he is old enough to go on a Boy Scout camping trip.  Frankly, I don't want any of the adult authority figures to be gay and more than I want hetero males taking my daughter on camping trips in the Brownies.

23033  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Piracy on: November 24, 2008, 07:37:24 PM
India’s anti-pirate aggression

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

India’s anti-pirate aggression

comment David Lepeska, correspondent in New Delhi

Last Updated: November 24. 2008 9:50AM UAE / November 24. 2008 5:50AM GMT

When the Sirius Star and its US$100 million crude oil cargo and 25 crew were hijacked by Somali pirates nine days ago, one country was ready to respond immediately.

After Indian shipowners and seafarers’ unions outlined the pirate threat, New Delhi moved with laserlike focus. The navy dispatched a warship to the region in mid-October, and its personnel have in recent weeks foiled three attempted hijackings and sunk a pirate mother ship – the only country to do so.

The Somali pirates have wreaked havoc – increasingly so – in the Gulf of Aden and along the coast of Somalia in recent months. Piracy in the region has tripled this year, according to the International Maritime Bureau, with more than 120 attacks resulting in 40 hijackings, hundreds of hostages and at least seven dead crew. Estimates of Somali pirates’ 2008 ransom income range from $30 million (Dh110m) to $150m.

A recent rash of brazen attacks has upped the ante. The Sirius Star hijacking took place 830 kilometres from the coast of Kenya, meaning the pirates have put all area shipping routes at risk. Feeling the heat, major shipping firms – including the world’s largest carrier, Copenhagen-based AP Moller-Maersk – have begun diverting liners away from the area, even though the alternative route around the Cape of Good Hope means millions in extra costs.

Analysts estimate up to half a billion dollars in lost shipping revenue this year.

Yet news reports highlight the pirates’ shiny mansions, advanced weaponry and hi-tech gadgets. The international community appears baffled, responding with concern but minimal focus. Most agree that a long-term solution involving the establishment of a stable Somali government could take up to a decade. About short-term responses there has been no such consensus.

In a hastily arranged meeting with its neighbours, Egypt tried last week to forge a joint regional antipiracy strategy – but to no avail. The United Nations has authorised asset freezes and travel bans, despite the fact that Somali pirates live off cash ransoms dropped from helicopters. Nato has dispatched several warships, but like the United States and the European Union, points out that it has no jurisdiction to attack hijacked ships. The possibility of attacking pirate ships is rarely addressed.

The United States has been particularly feeble. Last week the US navy told shipping companies to ensure their own security by hiring private contractors. Yet over three years ago Adm Michael Mullin, now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, suggested a global security partnership to tackle maritime piracy and terrorism. The only result is the US-run Global Fleet Station, a pilot version of which was launched last year in the Caribbean, suggesting the United States is either living in the past or watching too many movies.

Contrast all this with the confident clarity coming from India.

Last week the Indian government authorised hot pursuit of pirate vessels, announced the imminent dispatch of three more warships and a reconnaissance aircraft and urged the United Nations to orchestrate joint action. The International Maritime Bureau has praised India’s response and urged the international community to follow it.

India has been facing down piracy since making maritime history with the rescue of a Japanese vessel from pirate hands in the Arabian Sea in 1999. Indian frigates escorted US warships headed to Afghanistan through the pirate-infested Malacca Straits in 2002. And after the devastating 2004 tsunami as well as after Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar this year, Indian ships were first to deliver aid and relief supplies.

Yet last week’s missions marked a sea change – the first time the Indian navy had fired shots in anger so far from home. The world’s largest democracy has long sought to transform its economic growth into military and diplomatic might, and is in the process of acquiring the hallmarks of a naval power – aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines. These recent manoeuvres, 2,900km from its shores, represent a more aggressive stance, an effort to exert control over the waters from Djibouti to Indonesia – a stretch of open and not-so-open sea through which 20,000 commercial vessels and crucial regional energy supplies pass each year. Paired with a successful moon landing this month and the recently completed civilian nuclear deal with the United States, India’s anti-pirate aggression is the act of a rising world power seizing the opportunity on a floodlit stage.

A welcome stance, indeed, but tackling Somali piracy will take a great deal more.
“The only solution I see is a co-ordinated effort by various naval forces,” said Fred Burton, an analyst with Stratfor, a US-based risk assessment agency. “The problem is that no single country wants to take the lead.”

In the past couple of weeks, India has done just that, but its lone-wolf aggression will not end the threat. A UN Security Council draft resolution that calls upon capable navies to dispatch armed vessels and combat the menace would be a good first step.

But whether the international community is ready to follow India’s lead and take on Somali piracy with the seriousness it deserves remains to be seen.

http://www.thenational.ae/article/20...437187652/1002
23034  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michael Jackson takes shahada on: November 24, 2008, 07:35:54 PM
http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2008/11/21/60545.html

 rolleyes tongue
23035  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DLO 3 on: November 24, 2008, 03:23:46 PM
They call me , , , the Crafty Dog  evil cheesy cheesy
23036  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Piracy, copyright infringment, youtube, and related matters on: November 24, 2008, 01:28:50 PM
Woof!

A warm and hearty woof of thanks to the people who have emailed us about some problems.  We begin to work on them.

Again, thank you.
Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
23037  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DLO 3 on: November 24, 2008, 11:35:55 AM
Ronin:

Tail wags for the compliment, but rest assured, there is more.  DLO-1 was a broad overview of the gun, knife, and EH paradigm and the Kali Fence, the Dog Catcher, getting off the X, appendix carry and draw, and FOF drills. That's a lot of material, even for the triple disc that DLO-1 was-- our intention was to show how all the pieces fit together.

DLO-2 looked at CQ gun vs knife:  when to go to gun first and when to fight first.   Also, it showed some additional depth to the DC.

DLO-3:  We think the KF has a lot of merit.  Whereas DLO-1 showed the relation of the different pieces of our approach to the GKEH paradigm, DLO-3 focuses on the KF and getting it right and showing more of the options that exist for this structure.  The KF is meant to be used in real world situations where there may well be no limit on how bad things can go sideways and in our opinion, this means paying a lot of attention to it.

DLO-4 will focus on the anti-knife technique of the DC and its progeny. wink
23038  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington: Hand of Providence on: November 24, 2008, 11:05:54 AM
"The Hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations."

—George Washington, letter to Thomas Nelson, August 20, 1778
23039  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Raid on SA nuke facility on: November 24, 2008, 10:51:58 AM
Second post of the day:

60 Minutes story on just now. Amazing how aloof the SA government and the plant management are about this whole thing.

video of story at link:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/11/20/60minutes/main4621623.shtml

Brazen Nuke Facility Raid An Inside Job?
Nov. 23, 2008
(CBS) The assault on Pelindaba would make quite a movie. But it's a thriller that is all too real, with consequences that might have threatened the world. It was a daring break-in at a heavily guarded nuclear plant that holds enough weapons grade uranium to build a dozen atomic bombs. The story is little known, but after months of reporting, 60 Minutes can tell the tale, for the first time, through the eyes of the one man who stopped the plot. What happened at Pelindaba is the kind of thing that keeps presidents awake at night.


Pelindaba is nestled in the African bush, not far from the capital of South Africa. It is where the former Apartheid regime secretly built nuclear weapons. In the 1990s, South Africa chose to disarm. The bombs were dismantled, but the highly enriched uranium, known as HEU - the fuel for the bombs - is still there. South Africa assures the world that Pelindaba is a fortress. But, last year, on the night of Nov. 7, it was the scene of the boldest raid ever attempted on a site holding bomb grade uranium.

"It happened just after one o’clock at night. We heard a sound inside the building," remembers Anton Gerber, who has worked at Pelindaba for 30 years and is the chief of the plant’s emergency control center.

He was in the control room when masked men broke in. "There's a crack in the door. And I looked through this and I saw this four armed gunmen entering the passages is coming straight to us in the control room."

Gerber says all four were armed.

The men had breached a 10,000 volt fence, passed security cameras, and walked three quarters of a mile to the control room that monitors alarms and responds to emergencies. Gerber called the security office, just three minutes away.

"I immediately said to them they must come and help us. We're under attack. There's four armed men inside our building. The first guy who stepped into the office, he said to me, 'Why do you phone?' He was shouting at me, 'Why do you phone? Why do you phone?'" Gerber remembers. "And I was still so surprised, you know. My first words to them, 'Is this a joke?'"

The only other employee in the control room was Ria Meiring. "And he grabbed me at my hair and pull me out. And he put a gun to my head while the other three guys were fighting with Anton," she remembers.

But the attack on the control room was just the start. A second group of gunmen, on the other side of the plant, was cutting through the fence and opened fire on a guard.

Asked if he thinks the gunmen were after the HEU, Matthew Bunn of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government tells correspondent Scott Pelley, "That's certainly the most valuable single thing that's at that site."

Bunn has studied the attack and has written a classified report for the government on atomic security. He says highly enriched uranium is extremely difficult to make, and would be worth millions of dollars on the black market. And if terrorists get a hold of it, it would not be hard to build a crude atomic bomb. "Making a nuclear bomb with highly enriched uranium basically involves slamming two pieces together at high speed. That's really all there is to it," he explains.

Asked how much highly enriched uranium a terrorist group would need to build a weapon, Bunn says, "The amount of highly enriched uranium metal would basically fit into the cans of a six pack."

And handling the material, according to Bunn, isn’t very dangerous. "Unfortunately not. Highly enriched uranium is only very weakly radioactive. You can handle it with your hands."

Pelindaba holds more than a thousand pounds of HEU, and it uses some of it to make medical products. South Africa calls the plant is a "national key point," a facility with the highest security.

"This is the first time that this has ever happened on site," says Ari Van Der Bijl, the general manager.

Van Der Bijl brought 60 Minutes to the place where the gunmen got through the electric fence.

They picked a spot in the bottom of a ravine, far below the perimeter road where the security guards would be traveling. The guards couldn’t see them from up there. Once they got to the fence, one of the men used plastic clips to raise the bottom of the fence just several inches above the ground. He spent about 20 minutes shimmying under the electrical wire and once inside, he made straight for the box that controls the electricity, and shut the whole thing down.

"So the box has an alarm on it, they disabled that. It has a communications cable to warn the security office, they cut that. And then they shut the fence down. They knew what they were doing," Pelley remarks.

"They knew what they were doing. Definitely," Van Der Bijl acknowledges.

It was a fluke that the man who stopped the plot was in the control room at all. The attack came on the night of a plant holiday party. The employee who was supposed to be on duty is a paraplegic in a wheelchair, but he got drunk. Meiring filled in at the last moment. Anton Gerber is her fiancé and he decided to keep her company. That left him facing the intruders, who came at him with an iron bar.

Why did he decide to fight the four armed gunmen?

"I don't know," Gerber says. "For the first moment, I thought maybe I must just put hands in the air and said, 'Listen, what do you want?' But I think the moment they hit me with that piece of iron, it was all over. I start fighting."

Gerber says he knocked two of them down and turned to a third man. "I grabbed him. But the moment before I can take this guy he fired the shot, you know. And I was still fighting. I didn't know that there was, he shot me through the, through the chest."

"And after they shot him, it was terrible. They hit him over and over and over and over again," Meiring remembers. "After they shot, while he was lying on the floor."

Gerber was seriously wounded, waiting for the security force. He says it should have taken about three minutes for security to respond; instead, he says it took 24.

Meiring says she wondered the entire time where security was, while she was on her knees with a gun to her head.

After they shot Gerber, the gunmen fled and had plenty of time to get away. The second team of gunmen also vanished. And it seemed that South African officials wanted to make our questions disappear as well.

"After the first team got in, what was happening with the second team?" Pelley asks.

"You are talking about teams as if they are related. We don’t think they are related," Van Der Bijl says

"If these were sophisticated terrorists, Anton Gerber wouldn't be alive to tell his tale today," says Rob Adam, the CEO of the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa. He runs Pelindaba. "I think that it was a piece of random criminality, frankly, having looked at it."

Asked what he means by "random criminality," Adam tells Pelley, "Well, I don't think that there was any concerted attack of a nuclear nature. You had one technically sophisticated individual with some friends."

Adam says he doesn't know what the intruders were after.

What does the South African government have to say? Pelley asked Ambassador Abdul Minty, one of South Africa's top officials on nuclear policy.

"So far, the evidence we have is that it was an attempt at burglary. People went to the one facility and tried to take, for example, a notebook computer which they left behind, subsequently," Minty says.

"You're not saying that the intrusion at Pelindaba was designed to take a laptop computer?" Pelley asks.

"No, no. I'm saying it was probably a burglary attempt from what evidence we have," Minty replies.

"Mr. Ambassador, the point is, what's valuable at Pelindaba? And the answer is the radiological materials. Nobody would break into a national key point in South Africa to steal office machines," Pelley points out.

"No, you know, the Pelindaba facility is off a main road. There's a lot of traffic on that road. So, if they felt that here is a facility that has gates, that has security, maybe there's something valuable," Minty says.

"Are you saying they attacked the plant not knowing what it was?" Pelley asks.

"No, I'm saying no one knows what the motivation is. So, we have to keep to the facts and the truth," Minty replies.

The facts that we know were recorded. A camera at the fence taped the intruders, but guards who were supposed to be watching the monitors didn’t report the men. A phone log that 60 Minutes has seen shows that 24 minutes passed between Gerber's call for help and the arrival of security. Gerber suspects someone in security was in on the plot. And he's suing Pelindaba.

CEO Rob Adam says it took security "a couple of minutes" to arrive, but that he doesn't have the exact figure.

"There's a lawsuit in this case, you may be aware of, that's been filed, that suggests that it was 24 minutes before the security arrived after that telephone call," Pelley points out.

"I'm aware of the allegation. We'll respond to it when we need to in court," Adam says.

"You've done an investigation. You're in charge of the plant. Did it take 24 minutes for them to get there?" Pelley asks.

"It took, in our calculation, somewhat less than that," Adam says.

"You initially said two minutes. Now we're talking 24 minutes," Pelley points out.

"I said a couple of minutes, but I understand from our analysis of the phone records that it took less than that," Adam says.

"There's a gap here, between two and 24. Can you help me narrow that gap a little bit?" Pelley asks.

"I didn't come prepared with that figure, Scott," Adam acknowledges.

But Matthew Bunn thinks it is nonsense to think this was a third-rate burglary. "These people cut through a 10,000 volt security fence. They disable sophisticated electronic intrusion detectors. They went straight to the emergency control center of the site. These people knew what kind of site they were in and knew what they were doing."

"You know, the unknown that seems to me the most worrying is why these people had so much confidence that they could take that place down," Pelley remarks.

"It does suggest that they had someone inside who was going to help them make sure that the security alarms didn't go off. And that security forces didn't respond in time," Bunn says.

To get to the uranium would have required penetrating more layers of security: fences, cameras and locks. All we can be sure of is that the gunmen had no trouble with the first fence and didn't seem worried about the obvious camera there.

Rob Adam says it has crossed their minds that the intruders had inside help. "And we put out a reward. We haven't had any takers to this point."

There have been multiple investigations, but 60 Minutes was surprised to find out that the police didn’t talk to their prime eyewitness until we showed up.

Gerber says investigators didn't talk to him for ten months.

"Doesn't seem like they wanted to hear your story," Pelley remarks.

"Yeah, that is, it is strange for me as well," Gerber says.

The U.S. government is worried. It's offering to help secure Pelindaba and convert its highly enriched uranium into a form that won't explode.

Ambassador Abdul Minty, South Africa’s nuclear policy advisor, gave 60 Minutes his government’s answer: "Why should we get rid of it when others don’t? Why are we less secure than others?"

"Because these men got so far into the plant. They got into the emergency control center. They shot a man. There was a second team waiting outside that got…into a gunfight with your security people," Pelley says.

"No, no. It's how you interpret events," Minty replies. "So we are of course concerned about it that anyone gets into it, but we have taken steps to try and prevent that in future."


The two camera operators who missed the gunmen were fired. But the investigation is stalled, leaving no clue as to who was behind the assault on Pelindaba or whether their intent was to supply uranium for a nuclear bomb.



Produced by Graham Messick and Michael Karzis
© MMVIII, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
23040  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / From the French POV on: November 24, 2008, 09:44:43 AM
http://www.julescrittenden.com/2008/...ier-recruited/


"Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us."




We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while - they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military secrecy. To the common man it is a unit just like any other. But we live with them and got to know them, and we henceforth know that we have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US Army - one that the movies brought to the public as series showing “ordinary soldiers thrust into extraordinary events”. Who are they, those soldiers from abroad, how is their daily life, and what support do they bring to the men of our OMLT every day ? Few of them belong to the Easy Company, the one the TV series focuses on. This one nowadays is named Echo Company, and it has become the support company.

They have a terribly strong American accent - from our point of view the language they speak is not even English. How many times did I have to write down what I wanted to say rather than waste precious minutes trying various pronunciations of a seemingly common word? Whatever state they are from, no two accents are alike and they even admit that in some crisis situations they have difficulties understanding each other.

Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us - and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.


Here we discover America as it is often depicted : their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by promiscuity and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley. Honor, motherland - everything here reminds of that : the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled banner. Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location : books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission.

And that is a first shock to our preconceptions : the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.
And they are impressive warriors! We have not come across bad ones, as strange at it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how.

Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seem to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark - only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered - everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.

And combat ? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all - always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks : they switch from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the enemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting : they just charge ! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later - which cuts any pussyfooting short.

We seldom hear any harsh word, and from 5 AM onwards the camp chores are performed in beautiful order and always with excellent spirit. A passing American helicopter stops near a stranded vehicle just to check that everything is alright; an American combat team will rush to support ours before even knowing how dangerous the mission is - from what we have been given to witness, the American soldier is a beautiful and worthy heir to those who liberated France and Europe.

To those who bestow us with the honor of sharing their combat outposts and who everyday give proof of their military excellence, to those who pay the daily tribute of America’s army’s deployment on Afghan soil, to those we owned this article, ourselves hoping that we will always remain worthy of them and to always continue hearing them say that we are all the same band of brothers”.
23041  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: What a single nuke could do on: November 24, 2008, 02:37:58 AM
What a Single Nuclear Warhead Could Do
Why the U.S. needs a space-based missile defense against an EMP attack.By BRIAN T. KENNEDY
 
As severe as the global financial crisis now is, it does not pose an existential threat to the U.S. Through fits and starts we will sort out the best way to revive the country's economic engine. Mistakes can be tolerated, however painful. The same may not be true with matters of national security.

Although President George W. Bush has accomplished more in the way of missile defense than his predecessors -- including Ronald Reagan -- he will leave office with only a rudimentary system designed to stop a handful of North Korean missiles launched at our West Coast. Barack Obama will become commander in chief of a country essentially undefended against Russian, Chinese, Iranian or ship-launched terrorist missiles. This is not acceptable.

The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have proven how vulnerable we are. On that day, Islamic terrorists flew planes into our buildings. It is not unreasonable to believe that if they obtain nuclear weapons, they might use them to destroy us. And yet too many policy makers have rejected three basic facts about our position in the world today:

First, as the defender of the Free World, the U.S. will be the target of destruction or, more likely, strategic marginalization by Russia, China and the radical Islamic world.

Second, this marginalization and threat of destruction is possible because the U.S. is not so powerful that it can dictate military and political affairs to the world whenever it wants. The U.S. has the nuclear capability to vanquish any foe, but is not likely to use it except as a last resort.

Third, America will remain in a condition of strategic vulnerability as long as it fails to build defenses against the most powerful political and military weapons arrayed against us: ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads. Such missiles can be used to destroy our country, blackmail or paralyze us.

Any consideration of how best to provide for the common defense must begin by acknowledging these facts.

Consider Iran. For the past decade, Iran -- with the assistance of Russia, China and North Korea -- has been developing missile technology. Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani announced in 2004 their ability to mass produce the Shahab-3 missile capable of carrying a lethal payload to Israel or -- if launched from a ship -- to an American city.

The current controversy over Iran's nuclear production is really about whether it is capable of producing nuclear warheads. This possibility is made more urgent by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statement in 2005: "Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism? But you had best know that this slogan and this goal are attainable, and surely can be achieved."

Mr. Ahmadinejad takes seriously, even if the average Iranian does not, radical Islam's goal of converting, subjugating or destroying the infidel peoples -- first and foremost the citizens of the U.S. and Israel. Even after 9/11, we appear not to take that threat seriously. We should.

Think about this scenario: An ordinary-looking freighter ship heading toward New York or Los Angeles launches a missile from its hull or from a canister lowered into the sea. It hits a densely populated area. A million people are incinerated. The ship is then sunk. No one claims responsibility. There is no firm evidence as to who sponsored the attack, and thus no one against whom to launch a counterstrike.

But as terrible as that scenario sounds, there is one that is worse. Let us say the freighter ship launches a nuclear-armed Shahab-3 missile off the coast of the U.S. and the missile explodes 300 miles over Chicago. The nuclear detonation in space creates an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

Gamma rays from the explosion, through the Compton Effect, generate three classes of disruptive electromagnetic pulses, which permanently destroy consumer electronics, the electronics in some automobiles and, most importantly, the hundreds of large transformers that distribute power throughout the U.S. All of our lights, refrigerators, water-pumping stations, TVs and radios stop running. We have no communication and no ability to provide food and water to 300 million Americans.

This is what is referred to as an EMP attack, and such an attack would effectively throw America back technologically into the early 19th century. It would require the Iranians to be able to produce a warhead as sophisticated as we expect the Russians or the Chinese to possess. But that is certainly attainable. Common sense would suggest that, absent food and water, the number of people who could die of deprivation and as a result of social breakdown might run well into the millions.

Let us be clear. A successful EMP attack on the U.S. would have a dramatic effect on the country, to say the least. Even one that only affected part of the country would cripple the economy for years. Dropping nuclear weapons on or retaliating against whoever caused the attack would not help. And an EMP attack is not far-fetched.

Twice in the last eight years, in the Caspian Sea, the Iranians have tested their ability to launch ballistic missiles in a way to set off an EMP. The congressionally mandated EMP Commission, with some of America's finest scientists, has released its findings and issued two separate reports, the most recent in April, describing the devastating effects of such an attack on the U.S.

The only solution to this problem is a robust, multilayered missile-defense system. The most effective layer in this system is in space, using space-based interceptors that destroy an enemy warhead in its ascent phase when it is easily identifiable, slower, and has not yet deployed decoys. We know it can work from tests conducted in the early 1990s. We have the technology. What we lack is the political will to make it a reality.

An EMP attack is not one from which America could recover as we did after Pearl Harbor. Such an attack might mean the end of the United States and most likely the Free World. It is of the highest priority to have a president and policy makers not merely acknowledge the problem, but also make comprehensive missile defense a reality as soon as possible.

Mr. Kennedy is president of the Claremont Institute and a member of the Independent Working Group on Missile Defense.

 

23042  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Oretga & Chavez in Nicaragua on: November 24, 2008, 02:16:50 AM
Every crisis presents opportunity. That seems to be the thinking of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who is trying to steal an election while much of the world is focused on the financial upheaval threatening the global economy.

 
AP
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega (left) embraces Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 25, 2008.

On Nov. 9, Nicaragua held municipal elections in 146 cities and towns. For such a tiny country these races are big, because mayors have a great deal of autonomy and can act as a check on central government power. But this round of balloting was even more important than usual. Consolidating Marxist power in Nicaragua is a prime goal of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Mr. Ortega is supposed to carry out the plan. If he fails it will be another setback for the hard-left's 30-year dream of establishing a communist foothold in Central America.

Mr. Ortega ruled the country from 1979-1990 as a Sandinista dictator. Since winning the presidency in 2006 with 37% of the vote, he has demonstrated that, like his friend Mr. Chávez, he finds institutional checks and balances on his power rather inconvenient. Mr. Ortega's popularity rating is down to about 20%, suggesting that although he is the executive in charge, a lot of Nicaraguans now wish it weren't so.

It is within this reality that Mr. Ortega seems to have decided that Sandinista victories in the Nov. 9 municipal elections were a must. The government has proclaimed Sandinista victories in 94 municipalities, but the opposition is claiming fraud. A bitter struggle is under way.

Sandinista shenanigans began long before the polls opened. Not surprisingly, given Mr. Ortega's history as a "revolutionary," violence was a key campaign tactic. But don't take my word for it. No less than the nongovernmental organization known as the Washington Office on Latin America -- renowned for its left-leaning politics -- warned of state-sponsored repression ahead of the vote.

In a Nov. 6 communication, the organization wrote: "We are alarmed by the growing climate of intolerance for those who are perceived as critics of the federal government. The physical attack on a march of opposition party activists, and the apparent unwillingness of the police to restore order, the criminal investigations of several civil society organizations and their leaders, as well as the investigation of international NGOs that have funded some of these organizations, is extremely troubling." The Washington Office on Latin America also referenced "violent acts by government supporters against human rights defenders."

Terror was not the only tool at Mr. Ortega's disposal. As this column discussed several weeks ago, his campaign efforts were underwritten by Mr. Chávez, who sends millions of dollars of oil to Mr. Ortega but asks to be paid for only 50% of it. The balance is a long-term loan. This oil is then sold at market prices and the profit is used to fund a social investment operation called Albanisa and a Sandinista political slush fund called Albacaruna. The director of the Nicaraguan oil company and of Albanisa is also the treasurer of the Sandinista party. The Sandinistas also have control over the judiciary and the Supreme Electoral Council, which disqualified two political parties from even competing on the ballot.

But Mr. Ortega still had lingering doubts about his odds. And perhaps because he has so long been the darling of the international left, he seems to have decided he could improve those odds without scrutiny.

Step one was to block the Organization of American States, the European Union and the Carter Center from receiving credentials to observe the balloting. He even barred Nicaragua's highly respected independent watchdog, Ethics and Transparency -- which had recognized Mr. Ortega's 2006 victory -- from the polling stations.

Despite getting shut out, Ethics and Transparency managed to post observers to watch from outside polling stations. It estimated that one-third of the stations experienced irregularities. There were also reports that in some places opposition-party observers were kicked out of polling stations, and some polling stations closed ahead of schedule.

The post of Managua mayor is one of the most hotly contested races. Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC) candidate Eduardo Montealegre is challenging the "victory" of Sandinista Alexis Arguello. Mr. Montealegre, who graciously accepted his defeat to Mr. Ortega in the 2006 presidential election, says that his party made its own vote tallies and that he won. The Catholic Church and the country's two largest business groups are backing his call for a recount. The Supreme Electoral Council has agreed to a recount, but behind closed doors with no observers.

Mr. Montealegre's efforts to lead rallies in favor of a transparent recount have been broken up by Sandinistas wielding bats and lobbing rocks. But he insists that holding firm is about more than the office of mayor. "It's more fundamental," he says. "It's about dictatorship versus democracy."

Write to O'Grady@wsj.com

 

23043  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: BO choice is for me, not you on: November 24, 2008, 02:12:51 AM
Michelle and Barack Obama have settled on a Washington, D.C., school for their daughters, and you will not be surprised to learn it is not a public institution. Malia, age 10, and seven-year-old Sasha will attend the Sidwell Friends School, the private academy that educates the children of much of Washington's elite.

 
APVice President-elect Joe Biden's grandchildren attend Sidwell -- as did Chelsea Clinton -- where tuition is close to $30,000 a year. The Obama girls have been students at the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, where tuition runs above $21,000. "A number of great schools were considered," said Katie McCormick Lelyveld, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Obama. "In the end, the Obamas selected the school that was the best fit for what their daughters need right now."

Note the word "selected," as in made a choice. The Obamas are fortunate to have the means to send their daughters to private school, and no one begrudges them that choice given that Washington's public schools are among the worst in America.

Most D.C. parents would also love to be able to choose a better school for their child, but they lack the financial means to do so. The Washington Opportunity Scholarship Program each year offers up to $7,500 to some 1,900 kids to attend private schools, but Democrats in Congress want to kill it. Average family income for kids in the voucher program is about $22,000.

Mr. Obama says he opposes such vouchers, because "although it might benefit some kids at the top, what you're going to do is leave a lot of kids at the bottom." The example of his own children refutes that: The current system offers plenty of choice to kids "at the top" while abandoning those at the bottom.
23044  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Jindal' on: November 24, 2008, 02:08:48 AM
Bobby Jindal, Louisiana's prodigy Governor, has been arguing lately that only policy innovators will break a path out of the GOP's political wilderness -- and he is leading by example. Mr. Jindal recently announced a major renovation of the way his state provides health coverage to the poor and uninsured, thus taking up a topic for which most Republicans require a shot of epinephrine just to pay attention.

 
AP
Gov. Bobby Jindal
Name any health criteria, and Louisiana is probably scraping bottom. According to one national ranking, the state was 49th in health outcomes in 2007 and worst overall in 2006. Even though about a quarter of the population is enrolled in Medicaid, another quarter is uninsured. Even though the federal government's "matching rate" pays out 71% of state Medicaid costs, state spending has doubled to 16% of the general budget over just the last two years. That share is projected to rise to 22% by 2011, swallowing funding for schools, police and other priorities.

Governor Jindal plans to steer working-poor Medicaid recipients out of the current "fee for service" program, where the state pays a set rate for all health-care charges (some 54 million this year). Instead, they'd choose among private managed-care plans, with Louisiana paying a fixed per-patient amount, adjusted for health risks. Essentially, Mr. Jindal wants to use Medicaid dollars to fund something like private insurance. That way, physicians and hospitals will be compensated for outcomes -- rather than volume of visits and procedures -- and get incentive payments for good performance.

Such a "defined contribution" plan is one way to wrestle run-amok health costs back under control and spend more responsibly. It isn't a new idea, but it is a good one. Congressional Republicans passed a similar reform in 1995 for Medicare, which Bill Clinton vetoed -- only to have his own bipartisan commission endorse it in 1999.

In today's Opinion Journal
REVIEW & OUTLOOK

Secretary of BailoutsJindal's MedicineThe Sidwell Choice

TODAY'S COLUMNISTS

The Americas: Election Fraud in Nicaragua
– Mary Anastasia O'GradyInformation Age: When Even Good News Worsens a Panic
– L. Gordon Crovitz

COMMENTARY

The Fed Is Out of Ammunition
– Christopher WoodWhat a Single Nuclear Warhead Could Do
– Brian T. KennedyChange Our Public Schools Need
– Terry M. MoeBush Does the Right Thing for Darfur
– Kenneth RothSince Louisiana will increase the value of its Medicaid dollars and free up other funding, it will also be able to expand eligibility. The initiative will start with about 380,000 people in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and two other regions, with the rest of the state integrated over the next five years. The hope is that by integrating fee for service's separate silos and realigning incentives, the quality of the delivery system will also improve.

Medicaid allows states the flexibility to experiment like Mr. Jindal, but it requires a federal waiver. Currently, Louisiana's negotiations are hung up on $771 million that the feds claim the state owes, much of it in alleged "overpayments." States often game the system to filch federal money they don't deserve, courtesy of national taxpayers. But in this case, Louisiana ought to get credit for good behavior, especially considering that Mr. Jindal inherited the problem. In any event, the state only wants to pay back Medicaid over a longer term while producing savings compared to the status quo.

The Bush Administration's go-ahead is also a matter of urgency. If the talks aren't wrapped up soon, Mr. Jindal will be forced to start over with Barack Obama's team, which will be hostile to reforms that bank on the private sector. Either way, just the transition itself could delay things for six months or a year or more.

Congress is currently considering a state Medicaid "bailout" as part of its second stimulus package, in which Washington would pay for an even greater share of state health spending. That would reward the most spendthrift states. Mr. Jindal's proposal is a far better idea.

 
23045  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gay marriage vs. Religious Freedom on: November 24, 2008, 02:05:00 AM
Jennifer Roback Morse | Friday, 21 November 2008
Same sex marriage and its threat to religious liberty

Tactics used by gay marriage campaigners confirm believers’ worst fears.

As wildfires blazed in California last week, anger at the outcome of the state’s referendum on marriage blazed across the country. After a hard-fought campaign over Proposition 8, which defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman, a clear majority of California voters endorsed it, and the gay marriage lobby was enraged.

Now, as same sex marriage campaigners take the issue back to the courts, it is unclear what the outcome of this battle will be. Will their demands trump the democratic process? It has happened before.

What is clearer than ever is that same sex marriage threatens religious liberty. Disagreement over the extent of that threat played a key role in the debate over Proposition 8. As an independent consultant to the campaign, I must say that the post-election behaviour of the opponents of Prop 8 does not reassure religious believers.

The editor of a new book, Same Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts, summarizes the general issue this way: “All six contributors (to the book)—religious and secular, left, center and right—agree that same sex marriage is a threat to religious liberty.” The demand for same sex marriage brings in its wake a demand for identical treatment of same sex couples and opposite sex couples. Churches that resist this demand can have their tax exempt status challenged, can be investigated by “human rights commissions,” and can have parts of their operation shut down completely.

The Yes on Prop 8 campaign applied this argument in print and electronic ads. “Churches could lose their tax exempt status,” we said. “People could be sued for their personal beliefs.” The opponents of Prop 8 replied by calling us liars. Their argument was, “No church will lose its tax exempt status for refusing to perform same sex weddings.”

Note the sleight of hand: we made a general statement that churches could lose their tax exempt status, as well as have other legal problems. The opponents of Prop 8 brought up the one issue -- refusing to perform weddings -- which they knew the court had specifically exempted from legal challenge. On this basis, they accused us of misleading the public.

I personally was asked many times whether pastors would be forced to bless same sex unions. I told people the pastors were probably safe for now, but that the trend was not encouraging. The most likely outcome, I consistently said, was that the zone of religious freedom would become steadily more constricted. We cited many cases to support this prediction.

Catholic Charities in Boston shut down its adoption agency, rather than comply with the anti-discrimination requirement for the placement of children. A Knights of Columbus chapter in Canada was sued when it refused to rent out its hall for a same sex wedding reception. A Christian marriage counselor lost her job when she referred a lesbian couple to another therapist, rather than counsel them herself. A Christian photographer was fined by a Human Rights Commission in New Mexico because she refused to take pictures at the commitment ceremony of a lesbian couple.

The No on 8 forces claimed that the cases we brought up had nothing to do with marriage. Gays had used anti-discrimination law in these cases, not marriage law, to sue and otherwise harass churches and religious people. (In fact, marriage was an issue in some of the cases.) In effect the gay lobby argued: “We already have all the legal authority we need to do all sorts of Dreadful Things that You Don’t Like, so vote no on 8.”

Oddly enough, people of faith were not reassured by this message.

But refusal to take the religious liberty argument seriously was not the only way the No on 8 forces showed their hostility to religion. On the Sunday before the election, our opponents ran a truly despicable hate-filled ad against the Mormon church. The ad ran the day before the election, when it was almost impossible to respond to it.

Proposition 8 won the election. Over six million people voted for it for a whole variety of reasons. It is safe to say that the religious liberty argument played a significant role. People waved signs that said, “Proposition 8 = Religious Liberty” and “Proposition 8 = Freedom of Speech.” Even though no one could predict the exact form the legal harassment might take, many voters decided the risk to their own churches was unacceptable.

In the aftermath of the election, the No on Prop 8 forces have taken to the streets, attempting to de-legitimize the election. Their behavior toward religious people amply confirms our worst fears.

The gay lobby targeted the Mormon church. Thousands of protesters surrounded Mormon temples in Los Angeles and in Salt Lake City in an obvious attempt at intimidation. Protestors carry signs saying, “Mormon Scum,” a sentiment that would be widely condemned as bigoted if directed at anyone else. Envelopes with suspicious white powder arrived at the Mormon church in Utah and the Knights of Columbus headquarters in Connecticut.

People have called for the LDS church to lose its tax exempt status. An enterprising reporter found that the LDS spent a grand total of less than $3,000 in an in-kind contribution. The other “Mormon millions” were small contributions by thousands of individual members of the church. Gay activists are scouring the election law, looking for minor violations the church or its members might have made.

This attempt to enlist the government for intimidation actually illustrates the point that concerned us throughout the campaign. If you cross the gay lobby, they will use the legal system to go after you. By passing Prop 8, the voters declined to give the gay lobby any additional legal tools.

The authors of Same Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty were not exaggerating. The drive for same sex marriage really does clash with religious liberty. The nation-wide post-election outburst gives Yes on 8 voters all the evidence they need that they did the right thing.

Jennifer Roback Morse, PhD, is the Founder and President of the Ruth Institute. http://www.ruthinstitute.org/
23046  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CAIR officials served on: November 24, 2008, 01:52:22 AM
Cair officials served in the middle of a banquet!!!

This promises to be interesting , , ,  grin

http://wnd.com:80/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=81863
23047  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 24, 2008, 01:46:52 AM
I am under the impression that the question presented concerns the legal system, not whether Latin society thinks men and women are different.

Will try to get to the big questions tomorrow, but no promises.
23048  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: on: November 24, 2008, 01:43:45 AM
Barack Obama's widely leaked selection of Timothy Geithner as his Treasury Secretary is certainly a sign of the financial times: About Mr. Geithner's views on taxes and economics, the world knows very little. His specialty at the Clinton Treasury and as President of the New York Federal Reserve has been negotiating bailouts and otherwise navigating through financial panics.

 
AP
Timothy Geithner with Ben Bernanke.
His first and primary task, in other words, will be to serve as Secretary of Bailouts. For that job, Mr. Geithner is probably the best choice short of Paul Volcker, and he guarantees the smoothest transition from the current Treasury team. He won't have to be introduced to the various Wall Street and Federal Reserve players, and he knows as well as anyone which banks are vulnerable and likely to threaten the larger financial system.

This continuity is especially important given that the credit markets have taken a major step backward since Barack Obama's election. Stocks are off some 15%, credit spreads have widened again, and bear raids are once more targeting Citigroup and other financial companies. The uncertainty over Mr. Obama's team and its direction has itself been fueling the lack of confidence, so we're glad to see the President-elect getting on with the show.

Mr. Geithner's political style is to listen first, which by itself makes him a better choice than Harvard economist Larry Summers, who would find a way to condescend to Albert Einstein. Mr. Summers is reportedly slated to run Mr. Obama's National Economic Council in the White House. The Treasury Secretary has typically been the most prominent Administration voice on the economy, but Mr. Summers is not the sort merely to play honest broker. Mr. Geithner, who once worked for Mr. Summers, will have to work to avoid being seen as second fiddle.

Mr. Obama's political adviser, David Axelrod, also sent a useful signal yesterday by hinting on "Fox News Sunday" that an immediate tax increase may be off the table. In his Saturday radio address, Mr. Obama said that his first priority will be a huge new spending and middle-class tax cut "stimulus" -- perhaps as large as $500 billion. "The main thing right now is to get this economic recovery package on the road, to get money in the pockets of the middle class, to get these projects going, to get America working again, and that's where we're going to be focused in January," added Mr. Axelrod.

The prospect of a tax hike during a recession has been a prominent source of investor anxiety. The President-elect would be smarter still if he announced that he won't allow the lower Bush tax rates to expire after 2010 as they are scheduled to do. The last thing frightened investors want to see now is a lower after-tax return on risk-taking and investment.

What Mr. Geithner thinks about taxes is something of a mystery -- and that's not the only one. As a protégé of Mr. Summers and Robert Rubin, the 47-year-old may share their view that tax rates don't matter much to investment choices. On the other hand, he hasn't declared himself in public on the issue as far as we know.

In today's Opinion Journal
REVIEW & OUTLOOK

Secretary of BailoutsJindal's MedicineThe Sidwell Choice

TODAY'S COLUMNISTS

The Americas: Election Fraud in Nicaragua
– Mary Anastasia O'GradyInformation Age: When Even Good News Worsens a Panic
– L. Gordon Crovitz

COMMENTARY

The Fed Is Out of Ammunition
– Christopher WoodWhat a Single Nuclear Warhead Could Do
– Brian T. KennedyChange Our Public Schools Need
– Terry M. MoeBush Does the Right Thing for Darfur
– Kenneth RothFor that matter, most of his work in public life has been done in backrooms or as a loyal Sancho Panza. During the Clinton years, he assisted Mr. Summers on various international bailouts. And during the current panic, he has properly deferred in public to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke or Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. Now Mr. Geithner will have to become the Administration's chief financial spokesman, so it will be useful for the Senate to sound him out during confirmation hearings.

All the more so because some of his bailout decisions have been less than successful. Mr. Geithner was the driving force behind the government takeover of insurance giant AIG -- a "rescue" that has itself twice had to be rescued with more taxpayer capital. The most frustrating part of the AIG episode has been the New York Fed's lack of transparency, both about the nature of the "systemic risk" that required the takeover and why it was superior to bankruptcy. This is another subject worthy of confirmation scrutiny, not least as an indication of Mr. Geithner's standards for future interventions.

Mr. Geithner was also on the Fed's Open Market Committee when it made its fateful decisions to keep real interest rates negative for so long, fueling the credit mania that has since turned to panic. Those monetary decisions are typically led by the Fed Chairman, but Mr. Geithner never dissented. While a Treasury Secretary doesn't directly make monetary policy, his private advice can be critical to Fed decisions. This is another area ripe for Senate exploration.

We suppose in that sense there is some rough justice in Mr. Geithner's nomination. Having been present at the creation of the current mess, he can help clean it up by avoiding some of the same mistakes.

 
23049  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Uh oh on: November 24, 2008, 01:36:47 AM
With an estimated $4 trillion in housing wealth and $9 trillion in stock-market wealth destroyed so far in the United States, there is little doubt that we are witnessing a classic debt-deflation bust at work, characterized by falling prices, frozen credit markets and plummeting asset values.

 
Chad CroweThose who want to understand the mechanism might ponder Irving Fisher's comment in 1933: When it comes to booms gone bust, "over-investment and over-speculation are often important; but they would have far less serious results were they not conducted with borrowed money."

The growing risk of falling prices raises a challenge for one of the conventional wisdoms of the modern economics profession, and indeed modern central banking: the belief that it is impossible to have deflation in a fiat paper-money system. Yet U.S. core CPI fell by 0.1% month-on-month in October, the first such decline since December 1982.

The origins of the modern conventional wisdom lies in the simplistic monetarist interpretation of the Great Depression popularized by Milton Friedman and taught to generations of economics students ever since. This argued that the Great Depression could have been avoided if the Federal Reserve had been more proactive about printing money. Yet the Japanese experience of the 1990s -- persistent deflationary malaise unresponsive to near zero-percent interest rates -- shows that it is not so easy to inflate one's way out of a debt bust.

In the U.S., the Fed can only control the supply of money; it cannot control the velocity of money or the rate at which it turns over. The dramatic collapse in securitization over the past 18 months reflects the continuing collapse in velocity as financial engineering goes into reverse.

True, this will change one day. But for now, the issuance of nonagency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) in America has plunged by 98% year-on-year to a monthly average of $0.82 billion in the past four months, down from a peak of $136 billion in June 2006. There has been no new issuance in commercial MBS since July. This collapse in securitization is intensely deflationary.

It is also true that under Chairman Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve balance sheet continues to expand at a frantic rate, as do commercial-bank total reserves in an effort to counter credit contraction. Thus, the Federal Reserve banks' total assets have increased by $1.28 trillion since early September to $2.19 trillion on Nov. 19. Likewise, the aggregate reserves of U.S. depository institutions have surged nearly 14-fold in the past two months to $653 billion in the week ended Nov. 19 from $47 billion at the beginning of September.

But the growth of excess reserves also reflects bank disinterest in lending the money. This suggests the banks only want to finance existing positions, such as where they have already made credit-line commitments.

Monetarist Bernanke and others blame Japan's postbubble deflationary downturn on policy errors by the Bank of Japan. But he and others are about to find out that monetary gymnastics are not as effective as they would like to think. So too will the Keynesians who view an aggressive fiscal policy as the best way to counter a deflationary slump. While public-works spending can blunt the downside and provide jobs, it remains the case that FDR's New Deal did not end the Great Depression.

There are no easy policy answers to the current credit convulsion and intensifying financial panic -- not as long as politicians and central bankers are determined not to let financial institutions fail, and so prevent the market from correcting the excesses. This is why this writer has a certain sympathy for Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, even if nobody else seems to. The securitized nature of this credit cycle, combined with the nightmare levels of leverage embedded in the products dreamt up by the quantitative geeks, means this is a horribly difficult issue to solve.

Virtually everybody blames Mr. Paulson for the decision to let Lehman Brothers go. But this decision should be applauded for precipitating the deflationary unwind that was going to come sooner or later anyway.

The Japanese precedent also remains important because the efforts in the West to prevent the market from disciplining excesses will have, as in Japan, unintended, adverse, long-term consequences. In Japan, one legacy is the continuing existence of a large number of uncompetitive companies which have caused profit margins to fall for their more productive competitors. Another consequence has been a long-term deflationary malaise, which has kept yen interest rates ridiculously low to the detriment of savers.

Meanwhile, the most recent Fed survey of loan officers provides hard evidence of the intensifying credit crunch in America. A net 83.6% of domestic banks reported having tightened lending standards on commercial and industrial loans to large and midsize firms over the past three months, the highest since the data series began in 1990. A net 47% of banks also indicated that they had become less willing to make consumer installment loans over the past three months.

Consumers are also more reluctant to borrow. A net 48% of respondents indicated that they had experienced weaker demand for consumer loans of all types over the past quarter, up from 30% in the July survey. This hints at the Japanese outcome of "pushing on a string" -- i.e., the banks can make credit available but cannot force people to borrow.

In today's Opinion Journal
REVIEW & OUTLOOK

Secretary of BailoutsJindal's MedicineThe Sidwell Choice

TODAY'S COLUMNISTS

The Americas: Election Fraud in Nicaragua
– Mary Anastasia O'GradyInformation Age: When Even Good News Worsens a Panic
– L. Gordon Crovitz

COMMENTARY

The Fed Is Out of Ammunition
– Christopher WoodWhat a Single Nuclear Warhead Could Do
– Brian T. KennedyChange Our Public Schools Need
– Terry M. MoeBush Does the Right Thing for Darfur
– Kenneth RothWhat happens next? With a fed-funds rate at 0.5% or lower in coming months, it is fast becoming time for investors to read again Mr. Bernanke's speeches in 2002 and 2003 on the subject of combating falling inflation. In these speeches, the Fed chairman outlined how policy could evolve once short-term interest rates get to near zero. A key focus in such an environment will be to bring down long-term interest rates, which help determine the rates of mortgages and other debt instruments. This would likely involve in practice the Fed buying longer-term Treasury bonds.

It would seem fair to conclude that a Bernanke-led Fed will follow through on such policies in coming months if, as is likely, the U.S. economy continues to suffer and if inflationary pressures continue to collapse. Such actions will not solve the problem but will merely compound it, by adding debt to debt.

In this respect the present crisis in the West will ultimately end up discrediting mechanical monetarism -- and with it the fiat paper-money system in general -- as the U.S. paper-dollar standard, in place since Richard Nixon broke the link with gold in 1971, finally disintegrates.

The catalyst will be foreign creditors fleeing the dollar for gold. That will in turn lead to global recognition of the need for a vastly more disciplined global financial system and one where gold, the "barbarous relic" scorned by most modern central bankers, may well play a part.

Mr. Wood, equity strategist for CLSA Ltd. in Hong Kong, is the author of "The Bubble Economy: Japan's Extraordinary Speculative Boom of the '80s and the Dramatic Bust of the '90s" (Solstice Publishing, 2005).


23050  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DLO 3 on: November 23, 2008, 08:08:33 PM
If I decide to continue with DVDs at all-- and that is a question all its own-- an option with DLO 3 would be to simply have a  civilian version with some additional footage available only to LEO/Mil. 

What gets me to thinking about this is that I was watching the ruff cut of the Ohio footage this afternoon (which was shot at the Canton OH Police Department Training Center) and the simple fact is that there are things in there that belong only in the LEO/mil domain for reasons practical, moral, and spiritual.

Night Owl is working on the ruff edit of the studio footage now, and perhaps will be integrating it with the OH footage at the same time.
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