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23051  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
23052  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.
23053  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.

23054  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?
23055  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=
23056  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.
23057  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.

 
23058  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
23059  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.
23060  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.
23061  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

23062  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
23063  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.
23064  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.
23065  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"!
23066  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!
23067  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
23068  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
23069  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)
23070  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
23071  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.

23072  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
23073  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
23074  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
23075  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
23076  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
23077  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
23078  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.
23079  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”.
23080  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.

 

23081  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

 

23082  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.
23083  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.

 
23084  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/
23085  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
23086  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.
23087  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.

 
23088  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).


23089  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.
23090  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Piracy on: November 23, 2008, 06:43:27 PM
Gents:

I'm just in from a fine weekend.  I'm sensing some considerable overlap here with the Horn of Africa thread.  Would you please give it a look and suggest how you think we should best handle this?
23091  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: November 23, 2008, 06:39:21 PM
For a fine weekend of Cub Scout/Boy Scout camping with my son.  My first time camping below freezing.
23092  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: November 23, 2008, 06:37:52 PM
Speak for yourself tongue cheesy
23093  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: November 23, 2008, 06:36:26 PM
Just getting back from a weekend with my son.  What happened?
23094  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: November 23, 2008, 06:19:02 PM
My title for the piece:  "Pigs bust Muslims in ham lorry".
23095  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 23, 2008, 01:45:45 PM
Just in from a weekend of camping with my son and now I am quickly catching up around here.  Bypassing for now the substantive points raised, for the moment I ask for examples supporting this assertion:

"Latin America is another example; women and men are not equal."
23096  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Missiles attacks into Whackostan on: November 23, 2008, 01:35:32 PM
US missiles striking terror into Pakistani militants

How the British Islamist Rashid Rauf may have been caught up in the US campaign to tackle terrorists in Pakistan

Jason Burke in Islamabad
guardian.co.uk, Saturday November 22 2008 12.09 GMT

United States forces are believed to have carried out about 20 missile attacks since August in north-west Pakistan, a sharp rise that reflects Washington's frustration at Islamabad's efforts to tackle militants on its own soil.

Though the attacks have killed a number of high-profile militant leaders, civilian casualties and wounded national pride has led to outrage in Pakistan. The Pakistani government has been forced to repeatedly deny reports that a secret pact has been agreed with the US to allow the missile attacks from Afghanistan territory to go ahead.

Pakistani government officials and military officers last week denied the existence of a "secret list" of 20 individuals against whom missile strikes had been sanctioned by Islamabad without prior consultation. They repeatedly told the Observer that the strikes were causing problems by angering local people. "One strike and you have a whole village radicalised," said Shafir Ullah Nasir, the political agent in the Bajaur tribal agency where fighting has raged for months.

Pakistan's new civilian president, Asif Ali Zardari, has urged Washington to share intelligence and equip Pakistani forces so they can pursue militants on their own side of the border.

Intelligence officials in Islamabad have told the Observer that the strikes have demoralised militants, forcing many to sleep in different locations every night or even sleep under trees for cover rather than risk staying in a house. The heightened rate of attrition among the militants has sparked a hunt for a suspected spy within their ranks, diverting attention and resources from offensive actions, the officials said.

Pakistan has played a key role in the evolution of the terrorist threat in the UK. Many major bomb plots in Britain have involved British or dual-nationality citizens who have travelled to Pakistan for training or strategic advice from the hardcore al-Qaida leadership who have regrouped in the lawless tribal zones along the Afghan frontier in recent years.

Several dozen British citizens who are known to the UK government make their way to the frontier region each year, with Pakistani militant groups often acting as intermediaries. Intelligence officials suspect there are others who they have been unable to identify.

Some go on to fight in Afghanistan, others return to the UK. Britain's MI6 overseas intelligence agents work closely with their American counterparts to track individuals who they believe pose a "material" threat to the UK. Rashid Rauf would have fallen squarely into this category.

As MI6 has neither the capability nor the legal right to undertake lethal operations in Pakistan, intelligence is passed to the Americans who run a fleet of drones fitted with Hellfire missiles powerful enough to destroy a mud-walled home and burn everyone inside. Rauf may well have fallen into the latter category too.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008...-pakistan-rauf
===============
US kills alleged transatlantic airline plot leader, reports say

British Islamist Rashid Rauf said to have been killed by missile attack in north-west Pakistan

Jason Burke in Islamabad
guardian.co.uk, Saturday November 22 2008 12.43 GMT

A British man suspected of close links with al-Qaida leaders and involvement in a plot to blow up transatlantic airplanes has reportedly been killed by a United States missile strike in the volatile border regions of Pakistan.

Rashid Rauf, originally from Birmingham, was said to have died along with at least four other militants with links to al-Qaida in an attack in the restive North Waziristan tribal agency, a key base for hardline extremists, according to local television stations and intelligence officials.

Pakistani intelligence sources in Islamabad said they had intercepted communications between militants after the strike indicating that Rauf was among those killed, but cautioned that no direct evidence of his death had yet been found. Investigations were still continuing, officials said.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said it was investigating the reports.

Rauf, who is 27 and holds both British and Pakistani citizenship, is wanted by West Midlands police in relation to the 2002 murder of his uncle and has been named as a "key person" in the so-called "airlines plot" of 2006. Rauf was arrested in Pakistan that year after an apparent tip-off from British anti-terrorism officers, days before a series of raids in the UK in which 23 were arrested. After the operation hand baggage restrictions on flights were tightened.

Eight men went on trial earlier this year accused of conspiring to smuggle home-made liquid bombs on board a series of transatlantic passenger flights. Three were found guilty of conspiracy to murder but face retrial next year on a more serious charge alongside four other defendants on whom the jury did not return verdicts. One of the defendants was acquitted.

Aftab Sherpao, the Pakistani interior minister at the time, told the Observer earlier this week that Rauf was considered the mastermind of the plot and was linked to al-Qaida.

Rauf, however, escaped from police custody outside a court in Rawalpindi last December following an extradition hearing. Officers had removed his handcuffs to allow him to wash before prayers.

He married a relative of one of Pakistan's notorious militants, Azhar Masood Azhar, the head of Jaish-e-Mohammad.

Rauf's lawyer said that the suspected militant's family in Pakistan, who live in the eastern city of Bahawalpur, had no news. "They have no information," Hasmat Habib told the Observer. "He was an innocent man a god-fearing, devout polite man and this is an extra-judicial killing."

Today's missile strike, shortly before dawn, is thought to have killed several foreigners. At least one is believed to have been Egyptian, named as Abu Zubair al-Masri.

A Taliban spokesman said all those killed were civilians, and that three children were injured.

"None was a foreigner," Ahmedullah Ahmedi said in a statement delivered to reporters in Miran Shah, the region's main town.

But officials said the attack targeted a house in the village of Ali Khel, close to the small town of Miram Shah. The house belonged to Khaliq Noor, a leader of the coalition of local extremist groups known as the Pakistan Taliban, and he regularly sheltered foreign fighters, officials said.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008...ne-rashid-rauf
23097  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 21, 2008, 04:28:11 PM
FWIW IMHO your logic is as correct as it is naive.
23098  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 21, 2008, 02:44:47 PM
"The debate was not about Islam per se, but rather VOLUNTARY arbitration in England."

No, the debate is about WHETHER the REALITY of it is voluntary.
23099  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: November 21, 2008, 02:37:30 PM
MUST, , , HAVE , , , THAT , , , SHIRT!!!  URL please?
23100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mukasey on: November 21, 2008, 11:40:45 AM
Last June in Boumediene v. Bush, the Supreme Court ruled for the first time in our history that aliens captured and held as enemy combatants abroad (in this case, at the Guantanamo Bay military base) had a constitutional right to challenge their detentions by filing petitions for habeas corpus in federal court. The Court recognized that its holding was unprecedented. Yet it said that it was not deciding how such proceedings should be conducted, or even what the government must show to prevail.

 
David KleinYesterday, the federal district court in Washington concluded the first such habeas proceeding for six detainees. It held that the government had established a basis for holding only one of them as an enemy combatant. The court acknowledged that the evidence the detainees were planning to travel to Afghanistan to join the fight was perfectly appropriate for use as intelligence (the purpose for which it was collected) -- but that such evidence was not sufficient to carry the government's burden of proving in court that the detainees were enemy combatants.

Of course, we believe that the court should have reached a different conclusion with respect to the five detainees. But on a more general level, the court's order highlights the challenges that inhere in applying a civil litigation framework to wartime decisions that often must be made on the basis of the best available intelligence.

Other federal courts hearing the approximately 250 Gitmo habeas cases have sought to answer similar questions. But as different judges reach different answers -- and as some of those answers, I fear, create risks for our national security -- there remains a pressing need for Congress, working with the administration, to establish one set of rules that is both consistent with the Supreme Court's decision and recognizes the important national security and intelligence interests of the United States.

The questions with which courts have grappled are of critical importance. They include foundational issues: How should we define an "enemy combatant" during a conflict with a nontraditional enemy like al Qaeda? They include trial issues: What evidence may the government rely on when making that determination? And they include practical issues: What does it mean to order a detainee "released"? Can a court order release into the U.S. if a detainee cannot be transferred to his home country, either because it won't accept him or because we fear he might be mistreated upon his return?

In July, I urged Congress to work with the administration to fashion a uniform set of rules for these cases, expressing two basic concerns with leaving these matters to the courts. The first was that the courts would reach inconsistent decisions, leading to protracted litigation and the likelihood of different procedures in different cases.

The second was that the courts would not be well-positioned to address fully our national security and intelligence interests. As a former federal judge, I know well the constraints on federal courts. They cannot find facts on their own and are limited to the evidence presented by the parties before them. By contrast, Congress and the executive branch are well equipped to learn and evaluate facts, and skilled in balancing the difficult policy choices at stake.

In the absence of legislation, however, the courts have proceeded with these cases. I appreciate the difficulty of the task that these judges were given, and I believe they have done an admirable job under the circumstances. Nevertheless, we have seen courts diverging on key issues, meaning that the rules in each case will likely vary significantly and will likely be finally resolved only after multiple appeals.

More importantly, in many cases, the government has faced great difficulty in collecting and presenting evidence in a manner that protects the vital sources and methods upon which our national security depends. Indeed, lacking clear protections for classified information, we have found at times that we are simply unable to provide our best evidence to the court. Our national security framework, in short, is not -- and should not be -- designed primarily to handle the burdens of discovery accompanying ordinary civil litigation.

Although a new president comes to office in January, these cases are moving forward quickly and the need for legislation is urgent. It is not yet too late for Congress, working with both this administration, and members of the incoming administration, to come together to fix this problem and to develop a sensible framework. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, I believe that Americans agree more than they disagree about the principles that should govern this process.

First, Congress must make clear that release from the Guantanamo Bay military base does not mean that a detainee is entitled to enter the United States. Where a court finds that a detainee cannot be held as an enemy combatant, he should be returned to his home country or another country willing to receive him. He should not be permitted to jump the immigration line and enter this country.

Second, habeas corpus proceedings must protect the integrity of classified information and prevent disclosing that information to our enemies. Simply put, Congress should devise rules that allow the government to present the most highly classified information to the courts for their sole review.

We should not be forced to choose between continuing to hold a dangerous detainee and jeopardizing the intelligence sources and methods that Americans have risked their lives to obtain, and which our enemies may then render useless.

In today's Opinion Journal
REVIEW & OUTLOOK

The Waxman DemocratsAl Franken's MinnesotaAmerica the Popular

TODAY'S COLUMNISTS

Declarations: Keep Gates
– Peggy NoonanPotomac Watch: Obama's Senate Play
– Kimberley A. Strassel

COMMENTARY

Al Qaeda Detainees and Congress's Duty
– Michael B. MukaseyThe Auto Makers Are Already Bankrupt
– Paul IngrassiaLessons in Gross National Happiness
– Emily ParkerWhat Do We Really Know About the Uninsured?
– William SnyderThird, Congress should establish sensible and uniform procedures that will eliminate the risk of duplicative efforts and inconsistent rulings, and strike a reasonable balance between the detainees' right to a hearing and our national security needs. Such practical rules must assure that court proceedings do not interfere with the mission of our armed forces.

Federal courts have never before treated habeas corpus as requiring full-dress trials, even in ordinary criminal cases. It would be unwise to do so here, given the grave national security concerns at issue.

Devising a legal framework to review our military's detention decisions is an unprecedented challenge. It should not be left to the courts alone.

I firmly believe that Congress, the administration, and the incoming administration can work together to establish rules that at once provide a fair hearing and are respectful of the nation's security interests. It is not yet too late, and it certainly is worth the effort to try.

Mr. Mukasey is the attorney general of the United States.
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