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23251  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / On the road on: April 29, 2008, 12:30:22 AM
Woof All:

I will be leaving tomorrow (Tuesday) for Manassas VA for one week.  My posting will probably be less than usual during that time.

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
23252  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / On the road on: April 29, 2008, 12:28:55 AM
Woof All:

I leave tomorrow (Tuesday) morning for one week in Manassas VA.  While I am there I will be limited in my internet access, so my  level of posting may be less than usual.

The Adventure continues
Marc/Crafty Dog
23253  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: April 29, 2008, 12:26:58 AM
April 29, 2008
Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said that while much remains to be achieved before any peace agreement between Israel and Syria, Ankara would continue to act as a go-between to encourage the two sides to restart direct negotiations, Haaretz reported Monday. The Israeli daily quoted Babacan as saying, “when the issue is a little more mature, then I hope that the sides will meet each other. It is a very promising development,” and that “There has been diplomatic traffic for the past year, which has intensified in the past few months.” The paper added that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan probably will be sending his foreign policy adviser, Ahmet Davutoglu, to Israel to brief Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on recent talks between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Erdogan in Damascus, Syria.

At a time when it is difficult to determine the status of the Israeli-Syrian back-channel communications, information coming from the Turks is perhaps the best gauge on progress (or the lack thereof) in these talks. Meanwhile, the two principal actors — Israel and Syria — will continue to send out confusing signals. But the bottom line is that the public rhetoric matters very little, if at all; what does matter is that a negotiating process of sorts has taken off.

This is not to say that process will lead to an Israeli-Syrian agreement, however. Many bilateral and multilateral issues could complicate the talks, and possibly even derail the process. At this stage, it is very difficult to say with any degree of certainty what will happen, hence the need to watch the process play out.

That said, the Turkish role as the mediator between the Israelis and the Syrians is quite interesting to say the least. The key question is why are the Turks so keen on seeing a peace agreement between the two sides? How does such an agreement or working toward such an agreement serve Ankara’s geopolitical interests?

We have discussed Turkey’s bid to assert itself on the global stage by inserting itself into the various regions that it straddles, namely, Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East. Faced with resistance in its efforts to gain an anchor in Central Asia and Europe, Ankara under the Erdogan government has sought to assert itself in the Middle East, where there are no barriers to entry — and more important, ample opportunities for Turkey to advance its international status.

Mediating between Israel and Syria allows Turkey to insert itself between various players, including the United States, Israel, certain Arab countries and Iran. Turkey is unique in that it has significant influence with all sides. This allows it to deal with both sides in the various conflicts brewing in the region, namely, in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

And this role comes at virtually no cost to Turkey. Ankara has nothing to lose should the talks lead nowhere. If the negotiations succeed, however, a peace agreement between Israel and Syria possibly could create the conditions for a Turkish role in the Palestinian and wider Arab-Israeli dynamics. More important, it could lead to a more comprehensive arrangement between the United States and Iran.

From the Turkish point of view, the U.S. move to effect regime change in Iraq in 2003 created chaos in Turkey’s backyard. Not only did it greatly enhance the Kurdish separatist threat to Turkish interests, U.S.-Iranian dealings on Iraq empowered Iran. Tehran thus emerged as a potential competitor to Ankara for top spot in the region, upsetting the latter’s regional calculus. Turkey thus needs to find a way to ensure that it has the upper hand in the region — and mediating a peace deal between Israel and Syria could go a long way in this regard.

stratfor
23254  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Self-Defense Law on: April 28, 2008, 11:49:11 PM
Unless I am missing something, you went a good bit further than not shooting someone over property.

"In other words, if someone comes into your house at 2 AM and goes through your crap, and you had the ability to get yourself and family out without conflict but you shoot the guy instead.  You just got hit with manslaughter."

1) How does one determine an intruder's intent at 0200?
2) If you are wrong that the intruder's intent is simply limited to property, your family pays the price.   How on earth would you know?  What's the standard?  Probable cause?  Reasonable doubt?  Strict Liability , , , his?   evil Or is it "One story, end of story"?
3) What do you teach your children if you drag them out of bed at 0200 to flee your home?  What does it tell your wife about you?
4) Concerning "manslaughter", wouldn't that depend on the laws of the jurisdication in question?  In what state(s) were you an LEO?

Concerning property, do we not have the right to defend our property-- ESPECIALLY in our homes?  And if our defense of the property is attacked, do we not have the right to defend ourselves?
23255  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Self-Defense Law on: April 28, 2008, 08:05:28 PM
Umm, didn't you also have those material possessions in the home?  That people should allow themselves to be run out of their homes in the middle of the night?
23256  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Case Study: Bystanders doing nothing... on: April 28, 2008, 08:03:32 PM
The lack of manly response from bystanders is pathetic.

OK folks, specifically what do you do?
23257  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Left-handed Lapu Lapu Kills Magellan on: April 28, 2008, 08:01:16 PM
Left-handed Lapu-Lapu kills Magellan
Sun Star Cebu

"I bow to no King; I owe my allegiance only to my people."

These words, originally uttered in 1521, immortalized the chieftain of
Mactan island, giving world fame to Filipino gallantry and heroism,
and his victory over Spanish invader Ferdinand Magel-lan.

Yesterday, boxing icon Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao portrayed Lapu-Lapu,
while movie actor Dennis Trillo donned the armor of Magellan, in the
annual reliving of the historic encounter.

The one-hour "Kadau-gan sa Mactan" earned many praises for being
distinct and more historically emphatic than previous reenactments.

But for its founder, former customs district collector David Odilao,
both the defending and invading warriors lacked practice.

"Crowd control was almost perfect, but the fight scene kulang sa
(lacked) realism," he said.

Odilao said that in the reenactments he named "Bahug-Bahug sa Mactan"
in 1979 to 1981, he had 150 people from eight different Cebu
universities and colleges, including 30 warriors for each warring
group who underwent rigid training with world Arnis master Ciriaco
"Cacoy" Canete.

Even before the two main protagonists, Pacquiao as Datu Lapu-Lapu and
Trillo as Magellan, arrived at the Liberty Shrine, over 20 women and
children in native dresses portrayed the old Filipino way of life,
spear-fishing and finding shells during low tide.

The male children were playing naked on the shore to make the pre-
battle scenario more realistic.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Phlippine Reclamation Authority
(PRA) General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Andrea Domingo, Cebu
City north district Rep. Raul del Mar, Police Regional Office (PRO) 7
Director Ronald Roderos, and China Consul General in Cebu He Shijing
graced the affair.

In a speech, Mayor Arturo Radaza said the wisdom of Lapu-Lapu's words
to Magellan still resonate today because the city is facing many and
new challenges on its way to success and progress.

"The city has weathered so many obstacles since the time of Datu Lapu-
Lapu until the present, but what make us triumph against evil is our
resilience and bravery to tackle these challenges," he said.

He did not mention the controversies, including the Asean lamppost
issue, he is currently involved in.

A ten-minute native dance preceded the meeting between Magellan's
messenger and one of Lapu-Lapu's war advisers discussing the
chieftain's unconditional surrender.

After a deadlock in negotiations, three loud explosions were heard and
two of three stilt houses burned down, dramatizing the effects of the
Spaniard's cannons and starting the memorable battle led by the first
Filipino hero

When they clashed, Pacquiao only had a short sword, which was half
shorter than Trillo's, and had no shield.

Most of the time, he had to dodge away from the actor, who wielded a
huge shield and a long sword.

But in the end, history was literally repeated, with a triumphant Lapu-
Lapu yelling at the top of his voice after killing Magellan in a three-
minute duel.

"Natagalan nga akong magpatay ni (It took me some time to kill)
Magellan," Pacquiao told reporters afterwards, admitting he only
rehearsed for his role the evening before the play.

As the things unfold, the dignitaries and the city officials were
positioned on three separate makeshift stages for a better view. Below
them were plastic chairs reserved for foreign tourists.

"It was very exciting because it was about the history. The play was
accurate as I know, and that is the very reason why most of the
Chinese like more to visit this city because of this place's
historical value," He said.

He is on his seventh month as China's consul general in Cebu and it
was his first time to witness the reenactment.

Loud applause from hundreds of people who packed the Liberty Shrine
met Pacquiao as he alighted from a van with wife Jinky, who played
Lapu-Lapu's wife Bulakna; boxing aficionado Wakee Salud; and Radaza.
23258  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA DVD: "The Dos Triques Formula" on: April 28, 2008, 08:00:22 PM
This continues to move forward.  Night Owl is working on the promo clip as I type and we should have a pre-order button up in 1-2 weeks.
23259  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 6/22 Guro Crafty seminar at Surf Dog's in Hemet on: April 28, 2008, 05:10:34 PM
Whoops!  Surf and I did not realize when we chose the date , , , 
23260  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: April 28, 2008, 04:30:57 PM
The old farmer had a large pond in the back, fixed up nicely with picnic tables, a barbecue pit, horseshoe courts, and some apple and peach trees. The pond was properly shaped and fixed up for swimming when it was built.

One evening, the old guy decided to go down to the pond and look it over. He hadn't been there for a while. He grabbed a five gallon bucket to bring back some fruit.  As he neared the pond, he heard voices shouting and laughing with glee. As he came closer, he saw it was a bunch of young women skinny dipping in his pond. As he approached, he made the women aware of his presence. 
At once, they all went to the deep end.

One of the women shouted to him, "We're not coming out until you leave."

The old man frowned, "I did not come down here to watch you young ladies swim naked, or to make you get out of the pond naked."

Holding up the bucket, he said, "I'm here to feed the alligator."
23261  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizens defend themselves/others. on: April 28, 2008, 01:21:43 PM
Woof SB:

I know we discussed this one on the DBMA Assn forum, and IIRC on the Spanish Language forum, but if we haven't discussed it on this one here, it certainly deserves it.  Would you please begin a thread titled
"Case Study:  Bystanders hesitate in Holland (or whatever name you want")"?  Thank you.

CD
23262  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Self-Defense Law on: April 28, 2008, 01:11:49 PM
Medicmatt:

"you can NEVER go above and beyond what you reasonably think the person can or will do to you.  In other words, if someone comes into your house at 2 AM and goes through your crap, and you had the ability to get yourself and family out without conflict but you shoot the guy instead.  You just got hit with manslaughter.  , , ,I can't say that it's the best feeling in the world to know that my state won't back me up if I'm in a confrontation on my own turf but I can see the reasoning.  Unfortunately, there had to be a line drawn for those shoot first and ask questions later personalities out there.  More and more you are starting to see burglars, robbers and generally assailing jerk weeds shot in the back because when someone stands up to them they run but the adrenaline gets the better of the defender.  The fact that everyone sues everyone these days, not withstanding, you can't shoot if there is no threat."

Wow, , , I am in the middle of a busy day, but for the moment I note that our perspectives differ considerably.  May I ask, what experiences, what data, what legal research have you done that has led you to these opinions?


TAC,
CD

23263  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: April 28, 2008, 11:48:27 AM
This past weekend, official Washington gathered for its fancy prom night, otherwise known as the White House Correspondents dinner. At a garden party preceding the event, Terry McAuliffe, Hillary Clinton's finance chair, was nonplussed when asked at the registration table to fill out a ballot asking whom he thought would win this fall's presidential election.

"You gotta be kidding me, you know who I am? You still want me to vote?" he said. He was told the party's organizers still wanted him to vote. Mr. McAuliffe then attempted to use a pen to fill out his ballot. But no matter how hard he put pen to paper, it wouldn't write, frustrating the top Clinton honcho. The lady at the registration table told him just to rip a hole in the ballot paper. A guest standing behind him yelled out, "Dude, just hang a chad."

Mr. McAuliffe wasn't amused, especially when another guest shouted out that the pen incident was a clear sign from the heavens that the Clinton fund-raising machine was running dry too.

-- John Fund

The Wright Target

Senator John McCain has had some trouble making up his mind whether or not the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is a valid campaign issue against Barack Obama. He told NBC last week that the North Carolina Republican Party was "out of touch with reality" for airing an ad criticizing Mr. Obama for sitting in Mr. Wright's pew for 20 years. Mr. McCain said "this kind of campaigning is unacceptable."

But Mr. McCain was singing a different tune yesterday, saying that while he didn't plan to raise the Wright issue against Mr. Obama, "it will be in the arena" and raised by others. Mr. McCain said he still disagrees with the ad but that he no longer thinks the North Carolina Party should face any repercussions and that he no longer wants "to be the referee" in the dispute. He noted that the Illinois Democrat himself had told Fox News Sunday yesterday "the fact that [Mr. Wright] is my former pastor I think makes it a legitimate political issue."

Senator McCain clearly has trouble resolving just how tough he will be against Mr. Obama. Many Republicans were appalled that he repudiated the North Carolina GOP ad, thus making it appear it was somehow racist to bring up Rev. Wright's controversial comments. "McCain made a tactical mistake weeks ago when he announced that who Obama's pastor had been was somehow illegitimate," Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, tells me.

Indeed, with the Rev. Wright speaking yesterday at the Detroit NAACP and today at Washington's National Press Club, it's clear that he will continue to feature prominently in the discussion about this year's election. Just last week more controversial statements by the Rev. Wright surfaced, including one that compared the U.S. Marines with Roman Legionnaires and another that said that al Qaeda's flag and the U.S. flag were the same flag.

With material like this surfacing, any qualms Mr. McCain has about raising the Wright issue appear quaint and foolish -- especially after Mr. Obama himself has said he expects questions to be raised about his judgment.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"The whole idea that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has been attacked over 'soundbites,' and if Americans saw his entire sermons, in context, they'd feel differently, now seems ludicrous.... He used his hour with [PBS's Bill] Moyers to argue that his thoroughgoing critique of American evil is, well, true. And I'm on the left. I know huge chunks of it are true. But Wright casts his critique in such an extreme way that the possibility of redemption, the evidence that America can and has and will change for the better, is never considered.... Watching Wright and Moyers I also couldn't help thinking: Is Wright trying to ruin Obama?" -- Joan Walsh, editor of the liberal website Salon.com.

Quote of the Day II

"Obama is the internationalist opposed to free trade.... He is the proponent of courage in the face of powerful interests who lacked the courage to break with Reverend Wright. He is the man who would lead our efforts against terrorism yet was friendly with Bill Ayers, the unrepentant 1960s terrorist. He is the post-racialist supporter of affirmative action. He is the enemy of Big Oil who takes money from executives at Exxon-Mobil, Shell, and British Petroleum. Obama has, in a sense, represented a new version of the Invisible Man, a candidate whose color obscures his failings. Perhaps his remarks about bitter Pennsylvanians' clinging to their guns have finally made visible the real man and his Harvard hauteur" -- Fred Siegel, a political scientist at New York's Cooper Union, writing in National Review.

Spiking Tibet

HONG KONG -- Every signatory to the United Nations Charter has agreed to respect the right of self-determination. China is a signatory to the UN Charter. Must China therefore respect Tibet's right to self-determination?

That's the kind of debating point you might expect to find in a soon-to-be dusty law journal, but don't look for the question of autonomy for Tibet to receive an airing in the "Hong Kong Lawyer," a magazine of the Law Society of Hong Kong. Prominent local barrister Paul Harris had been commissioned to write a just such an article not long after his shorter op-ed on the same subject appeared in the local South China Morning Post. In his op-ed, Mr. Harris argued that the Dalai Lama was a reasonable man and Tibet was entitled to semi-autonomy on terms similar to those granted Hong Kong when it returned to China in 1997.

Mr. Harris was told on April 9 that the Law Society had accepted his article, only to learn this weekend that the magazine had changed its mind after an "extraordinary" meeting of its editorial board Friday. A spokesperson for the editorial board did not respond to multiple phone calls.

The Law Society may suspect Beijing of being in a sensitive mood with the Olympic torch landing in Hong Kong this week. Still, Hong Kong was once a bastion of free expression and it's troubling to see the Law Society preemptively self-censoring on such an important issue. Happily, such efforts usually backfire and that's the case here, with Hong Kong politicians and even the local press now criticizing the Law Society for its political timidity.

-- Leslie Hook

23264  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: April 28, 2008, 11:36:10 AM
Pakistan: A New Peace Deal With the Taliban
Stratfor Today » April 25, 2008 | 2240 GMT

TARIQ MAHMOOD/AFP/Getty Images
Pakistani army soldiers display weapons recovered from militantsSummary
Pakistan and the Taliban are about to conclude a peace deal on April 25, the first fruits of the new government’s effort to increase dialogue with the Taliban. Unless the Pakistanis come up with a comprehensive strategy, the deal will ultimately empower the jihadists.

Analysis
Pakistan is on the verge of completing a new peace deal with Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the militant jihadist group Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in North and South Waziristan, Reuters reported April 25. Though the TTP claimed responsibility for a car bombing targeting police in Mardan today, the group maintains that the peace deal is still moving ahead. The deal will entail the cessation of hostilities by the Pashtun fighters, an exchange of prisoners, and the withdrawal of Pakistan forces from the area.

Pakistan’s government has negotiated with militants in the tribal badlands before: President Pervez Musharraf’s regime made three pacts with radical groups between April 2004 and September 2006. Yet these pacts were essentially ad hoc, involving payments of cash or exchange of prisoners, and orchestrated under the tacit assumption that hostilities would shortly resume.

The new peace deal is different. The recently formed democratic coalition government under the leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party is broadly in agreement about the need to increase official talks with radical groups to work out a lasting cease-fire. Both of the major political factions want to move past the purely military strategy of combating extremism, which they see as a result of Musharraf’s close alignment with the United States. They are touting a homegrown policy with public support that features greater emphasis on negotiations and dialogue as a means of reducing violence.

Signals from the jihadists also suggest that the current peace initiative differs from previous ones. No bombing has occurred under the new government (the last one happened March 20, four days before the administration took office). Also, the Pashtun jihadists have announced their willingness to endorse talks between the provincial government and tribal leaders. For their part, Pakistani authorities have sought to encourage the jihadists’ cooperation by releasing Maulana Sufi Muhammad, the founder of the Swat-based militant Movement for the Imposition of the Shariah of Muhammad.

The latest peace effort could well usher in a respite from violence. The new government is weak and must restore peace in order to fulfill its mandate and gain the confidence of the people. From its point of view, the current peace initiative is a test case to find out which groups are willing to compromise. If it leads to a breakthrough, the relative security will meet with widespread relief from the Pakistani public, which has endured a jihadist campaign for more than a year and a half.

Yet the long-term effects of the deal are likely to benefit the jihadists and create an even more deeply entrenched militant presence in Pakistan. First of all, the government’s willingness to grant the jihadists an official audience means that suicide bombing has successfully weakened the government’s will. The jihadists will recognize that they are in the better position to negotiate, since Islamabad is pleading for peace. Moreover, Pakistan’s and the Taliban’s aims are irreconcilable, and the jihadists will resort to militant tactics in the future knowing that they are effective.

Furthermore, the jihadist ideology conceives of any negotiations in light of an epic struggle to establish a transnational Islamist state in the region. The core members of the movement do not recognize Pakistan in its current form and therefore do not accept the legitimacy of any talks. They are willing to cease attacks in Pakistan if Islamabad eases pressure on their tribal areas, marking an effective return to the status quo before March 2004, when the Pakistani army first entered the area to support U.S. operations in Afghanistan. Such a peace will allow the militant groups to focus on the battle in Afghanistan, or rest up and consolidate their forces before waging the next assault.

The United States is cautiously supporting Pakistan’s new approach to the Taliban. Gen. David Petraeus, the current top U.S. commander in Iraq, is slated to be the next Central Command chief — an indication that the United States will be far more focused on Afghanistan than before. Ideally Washington does not want to undermine an already weak state, especially one so crucial to its interests in the region. But if solid intelligence comes through revealing Pakistani jihadists’ support of their allies in Afghanistan, or the whereabouts of high-level jihadist targets in Pakistan, Washington will either force Pakistan into acting or act unilaterally (it may not want to wait). Such action would trigger a response from militants in Pakistan, destroying the peace agreement.

Islamabad is trying to strike a balance between its international commitments and the need to maintain security at home. Unless it can come up with a comprehensive strategy for containing terrorism — one that addresses the jihadists’ tendency to take advantage of cease-fires — it will risk failing in its commitments to the United States and to international security, and might not even forestall violence at home.

stratfor
23265  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wallenberg on: April 28, 2008, 11:33:26 AM
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080427/ap_on_re_eu/the_wallenberg_mystery

Scholars run down more clues to a Holocaust mystery
By ARTHUR MAX and RANDY HERSCHAFT, Associated Press Writers Sun Apr 27, 3:51 PM ET

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Budapest, November 1944: Another German train has loaded its cargo of Jews bound for Auschwitz. A young Swedish diplomat pushes past the SS guard and scrambles onto the roof of a cattle car.

Ignoring shots fired over his head, he reaches through the open door to outstretched hands, passing out dozens of bogus "passports" that extended Sweden's protection to the bearers. He orders everyone with a document off the train and into his caravan of vehicles. The guards look on, dumbfounded.
Raoul Wallenberg was a minor official of a neutral country, with an unimposing appearance and gentle manner. Recruited and financed by the U.S., he was sent into Hungary to save Jews. He bullied, bluffed and bribed powerful Nazis to prevent the deportation of 20,000 Hungarian Jews to concentration camps, and averted the massacre of 70,000 more people in Budapest's ghetto by threatening to have the Nazi commander hanged as a war criminal.

Then, on Jan. 17, 1945, days after the Soviets moved into Budapest, the 32-year-old Wallenberg and his Hungarian driver, Vilmos Langfelder, drove off under a Russian security escort, and vanished forever.

And because he was a rare flicker of humanity in the man-made hell of the Holocaust, the world has celebrated him ever since. Streets have been named after him and his face has been on postage stamps. And researchers have wrestled with two enduring mysteries: Why was Wallenberg arrested, and did he really die in Soviet custody in 1947?

Researchers have sifted through hundreds of purported sightings of Wallenberg into the 1980s, right down to plotting his movements from cell to cell while in custody. And fresh documents are to become public which might cast light on another puzzle: Whether Wallenberg was connected, directly or indirectly, to a super-secret wartime U.S. intelligence agency known as "the Pond," operating as World War II was drawing to a close and the Soviets were growing increasingly suspicious of Western intentions in eastern Europe.

Speculation that Wallenberg was engaged in espionage has been rife since the Central Intelligence Agency acknowledged in the 1990s that he had been recruited for his rescue mission by an agent of the Office of Strategic Services, the OSS, which later became the CIA.

About the Pond, little is known. But later this year the CIA is to release a stash of Pond-related papers accidentally discovered in a Virginia barn in 2001. These are the papers of John Grombach, who headed the Pond from its creation in 1942. CIA officials say they should be turned over to the National Archives in College Park, Md.

In February, the Swedish government posted an online database of 1,000 documents and testimonies related to Wallenberg's disappearance. In a few months, independent investigators plan to launch a Web site with their nearly 20-year research into Russian archives and prison records. Russia is building a Museum of Tolerance that will feature once-classified documents on Wallenberg. And the CIA last year relaxed its guidelines to reveal details of its sources and intelligence-gathering methods in the case.

Despite dozens of books and hundreds of documents on Wallenberg, much remains hidden. The Kremlin has failed to find or deliver dozens of files, Sweden has declined to open all its books, and The Associated Press has learned as many as 100,000 pages of declassified OSS documents await processing at the National Archives.

The Russians say Wallenberg died in prison in 1947, but never produced a proper death certificate or his remains.

But independent research suggests he may have lived many years — perhaps until the late 1980s. If true, he likely was held in isolation, stripped of his identity, known only by a number or a false name and moving like a phantom among Soviet prisons, labor camps and psychiatric institutions.

In 1991, the Russian government assigned Vyacheslav Nikonov, deputy head of the KGB intelligence service, to spend months searching classified archives about Wallenberg.

"I think I found all the existing documents," Nikonov e-mailed The Associated Press last month. The Soviets believed Wallenberg had been a spy, he said, but unlike many political detainees he never had a trial.

Nikonov's conclusion: "Shot in 1947."

Later in 1991, Russia and Sweden launched a joint investigation that lasted 10 years but failed to reach a joint conclusion.

The 2001 Swedish report said: "There is no fully reliable proof of what happened to Raoul Wallenberg," and listed 17 unanswered questions.

The Russian report bluntly said, "Wallenberg died, or most likely was killed, on July 17, 1947." It named Viktor Abakumov, the head of the "Smersh" counterintelligence agency, as responsible for the execution and cover-up. It said the Russians consider the Wallenberg case "resolved."

Unsatisfied, independent consultants and academics have kept digging, analyzing, reassessing old information and pressing for the Kremlin to release missing files.

___

Wallenberg arrived in Budapest in July 1944. With the knowledge of his government, his task as first secretary to the Swedish diplomatic legation was a cover for his true mission as secret emissary of the U.S. War Refugee Board, created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a belated attempt to stem the annihilation of Europe's Jews.

In the previous two months, 440,000 Hungarian Jews had been shipped to Auschwitz for extermination. They were among the last of six million Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust.

Of the 230,000 who remained in the Hungarian capital in mid-1944, 100,000 survived the war.

After the Red Army arrived in January, Wallenberg went to see the Russian military commander to discuss postwar reconstruction and restitution of Jewish property. Two days later he returned under Russian escort to collect some personal effects, then was never seen in public again.

And what did his country — or his influential cousins — do about it?

Looking back a half century later, the Swedish government acknowledged that its own passive response to the detention of one of its diplomats was astounding, and that it had missed several chances to win his freedom.

"The worst mistakes were done in the first two years," said Hans Magnusson, the Swedish co-chairman of the 10-year investigation with the Russians. Sweden felt intimidated by the mighty Soviets and unwilling to challenge them, he said.

In the mid-1950s, the Swedes pursued the case more aggressively, prompting a memorandum from Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko in 1957 that Wallenberg had died of heart failure in detention 10 years earlier — at age 34.

As more testimony came in that Wallenberg was still alive, Stockholm periodically raised the issue with Moscow — but without results, said Magnusson, interviewed in the Netherlands where he is now ambassador.

Sweden could have pushed harder, he said, "but I doubt it would have achieved more."

"It is inconceivable," says Wallenberg's half-sister, Nina Lagergren. "Here is a man sent out by the Swedish government to risk his life. He saved thousands of people — and he was left to rot."

___

Some time around 1994, Susan Mesinai, who had by then been researching the Wallenberg case for five years, visited Lucette Colvin Kelsey, Wallenberg's cousin, at her home in Connecticut. After lunch, Kelsey caught up with Mesinai as she got into the car and told her: "Raoul was working for the highest levels of government."

"So I said to her, 'How high? Do you mean the president?' And she nodded her head," Mesinai said, disclosing to AP a conversation she had kept confidential for 14 years.

Kelsey's father, Col. William Colvin, had been the U.S. military attache in the Swedish capital around the time of World War I. Wallenberg spent vacations in the 1930s with the Colvin family while he earned a degree in architecture at the University of Michigan. Kelsey, who was a year younger than her cousin, died in 1996.

Rather than clarify anything, Kelsey's cryptic remark only deepened the fog.

Wallenberg's rescue mission inevitably placed him in a vortex of intrigue and espionage involving the Hungarian resistance, the Jewish underground, communists working for the Soviets, and British, U.S. and Swedish intelligence operations. He also had regular contact with Adolf Eichmann and other Nazis running the deportation of Jews.

Whether or not he himself was passing on intelligence, Russia had plenty of reason to suspect him of spying, either for the Allies or Germany — or both.

"Wallenberg had ties to all the major actors in Hungary," says Susanne Berger, a German researcher who collaborated with the Swedish-Russian research project.

The Stockholm chief of the War Refugee Board, Iver C. Olsen, was also a key member of the 35-man OSS station in the Swedish capital, and it was he who recruited Wallenberg, who in turn kept the U.S. connection secret by sending his communications through Swedish diplomatic channels.

Olsen's OSS personnel file — unpublished until the AP viewed it at the National Archives — revealed that the American was cited for using his position at the War Refugee Board "in gathering important information for the OSS and for the State Department."

In 1955 Olsen denied to the CIA that Wallenberg ever spied for the OSS, and Mesinai and Berger offer a different likelihood: that the Swede was a source for the Pond, which was a rival to the OSS known only to Roosevelt and a few insiders in the War and State Departments.

A small clandestine intelligence-gathering operation, the Pond relied on contacts in private corporations and hand-picked embassy personnel. It worked closely with the Dutch electronics company N.V. Philips, "which had access to 'enemy' territory as well as a far-flung corporation intelligence apparatus in its own right," said former CIA analyst Mark Stout who wrote a brief unofficial history of the Pond.

So far, no evidence has emerged that Wallenberg worked for the Pond, and Stout said in an interview he had not seen Wallenberg mentioned in any papers he has reviewed.

But their circles of contacts intersected at several points, including members of the Hungarian resistance and possibly the Philips connection.

"The Pond was centered around President Roosevelt's office and rumors of a special mission, intelligence or otherwise, for Raoul Wallenberg have persisted through the years," said Berger, who suspects the Soviets knew about the agency.

It may have been just one more reason for Stalin to order his arrest, she said. Regardless of whether Wallenberg was involved, "the Pond's activities clearly would have served to enhance Soviet paranoia about Allied activities and aims in Hungary."

Hungarian historian Laszlo Ritter, of the Institute of History of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, said the Philips company also was providing cover for Britain's MI6 intelligence service. One of its crucial agents in the Balkans was Lolle Smit, who was knighted after the war by both Britain and his native Holland.

One month before Wallenberg arrived, Smit fled Budapest for Romania, from where he continued to control his network, Ritter said, but he left his family behind.

Smit's daughter, Berber Smit, worked with Wallenberg in his rescue efforts — and "had a romance with him," according to her son, Alan Hogg.

Ritter said Hungarian war files show no direct tie between Wallenberg and Smit, or between the diplomat and British intelligence. At the same time, MI6 used the Swedish legation at least twice to smuggle out information, and helped give false papers to Jews and the anti-fascist resistance, he said.

When the OSS wanted to dispatch a radio to the Hungarian underground leader Geza Soos, it sent the transmitter with a Swedish intelligence officer and told him Wallenberg would know how to contact Soos.

Wallenberg's very name may have been enough to arouse Russian distrust. Throughout the war, his cousins Marcus and Jacob Wallenberg, the czars of a banking and industrial empire, had done business in Germany, producing the ball bearings that kept its army on the move.

The Wallenbergs also were involved in discreet, unsuccessful peace efforts between the Allies and Germany, which Stalin feared would leave him excluded — a foretaste of global realignment that would lead to the Cold War.

___

In December 1993, investigator Marvin Makinen of the University of Chicago interviewed Varvara Larina, a retired orderly at Moscow's Vladimir Prison since 1946. She remembered a foreigner who was kept in solitary confinement on the third floor of Korpus 2, a building used both as a hospital and isolation ward.

Though it was decades earlier, the prisoner stood out in Larina's memory. He spoke Russian with an accent and "complained about everything," she said. He repeatedly griped that the soup was cold by the time Larina delivered it. Prison authorities ordered her to serve him first.

"This is very unusual," Makinen said in an interview. Normally, such complaints would condemn an inmate to a punishment cell. "The fact that he wasn't means he was a very special prisoner."

When shown a gallery of photographs, Larina immediately picked out Wallenberg's — one never published before, Makinen said.

She recalled he was in the opposite cell when another prisoner, Kirill Osmak, died in May 1960.

That was enough for Makinen and Chicago colleague Ari Kaplan to roughly pinpoint the cell of Larina's foreigner. Creating a database of cell occupancy from the prison's registration cards, they found two units opposite Osmak's that were reported empty for 243 and 717 days respectively.

Normally, cells were left vacant for a week at most, Makinen said. The researchers concluded that those two cells likely held special prisoners, namelessly concealed in the gulag.

Mesinai and others reviewed hundreds of accounts over the decades of people who claimed to have seen or heard of someone who could have been Wallenberg. They established a pattern of sightings, even though many individual reports were considered unreliable, uncorroborated, deliberate hoaxes or cases of mistaken identity with other Swedish prisoners.

Some stories, like Larina's, ring particularly true.

One compelling account came in 1961. Swedish physician Nanna Svartz asked an eminent Russian scientist about Wallenberg during a medical congress in Moscow. Lowering his voice, the Russian told her that Wallenberg was at a psychiatric hospital and "not in very good shape."

The Russian, Alexandr Myasnikov, later claimed he had been misunderstood, but Svartz stood firm. His remark, she later reported, "came spontaneously. He went pale as soon as he said it, and appeared to understand that he had said too much."

A few years later the Soviets sent out feelers for a possible spy swap. Envoys indicated Moscow was ready to "compensate" Sweden if it freed Stig Wennerstromm, a Swedish air force officer who had spied for the Kremlin for 15 years.

Though Wallenberg's name was never mentioned, he was considered the only prize worth exchanging for such a high-value spy. The intermediary was Wolfgang Vogel, an East German lawyer who engineered many Cold War prisoner exchanges. But years of halfhearted negotiation ended in no deal.

___

Nina Lagergren keeps a small wooden box in the cellar of her comfortable Stockholm home. The Russians gave it to her in 1989 when she visited Moscow. It contains her half-brother's diplomatic passport, a stack of currency, a Swedish license for the pistol he bought but never used, and two telephone diaries. Among the entries are Eichmann and Berber Smit, the daughter of the Dutch spy.

They also gave the family a copy of Wallenberg's "death certificate," handwritten and unstamped.

"They anticipated that I would get very moved and understand there was no more hope," Lagergren said.

Instead it reinforced her belief that Wallenberg had lived beyond 1947 and perhaps was even then alive. "This proved we could go on," she said. Today he would be 95, and she concedes he must be dead.

If indeed Wallenberg's death in 1947 was a lie, the question remains: Why was he never freed?

The 2001 Swedish report speculated that the longer he was held, the harder it was for the Soviets to release him. Still, "it would have been exceptional to order the execution of a diplomat from a neutral country. It might have appeared simpler to keep him in isolation," the report said.

The search continues.

Berger, the independent researcher, has submitted a new, detailed request to Moscow to release files on prisoners who shared cells with the missing diplomat and on other foreigners in the gulag; Mesinai hopes to study psychiatric facilities where Wallenberg may have been confined; Ritter, the Hungarian researcher, is tracing the British spy network of Lolle Smit; and historians are awaiting the release of the Pond papers.

Whatever any of this reveals, a 1979 State Department memo puts these questions into perspective: "Whether or not Wallenberg was involved in espionage during World War II is a moot point at this stage in history. His obvious humanitarian acts certainly outweigh any conceivable 'spy' mission he may have been on."

___

Associated Press investigative researcher Randy Herschaft reported from Washington, D.C.

___

On the Net:

Wallenberg Association: http://tinyurl.com/55p7y5

Swedish government Web site:

http://www.sweden.gov.se/content/1/c6/04/11/37/37b7322e.pdf

International Wallenberg Foundation: http://www.raoulwallenberg.net/?en/wallenberg/

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum:

http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?langen&ModuleId10005211

National Archives: http:http://www.archives.gov/iwg (point of contact for CIA, OSS, Pond docs)

CIA Docs: http://www.foia.cia.gov (type in wallenberg in search field)

CIA "Pond" article: http://tinyurl.com/3ar3rx
23266  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Guro Crafty in Toronto, Canada 7/19-20 on: April 28, 2008, 11:14:55 AM
Woof All:

This thread is for matters concerning my seminar for Rene Cocolo in Toronto, Canada on July 19-20. 

Rene, please post contact and other info here.

The Adventure continues,
Guro Crafty
23267  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: April 28, 2008, 09:29:41 AM


Geopolitical Diary: The Difficulty of Managing Afghanistan
April 28, 2008
A Taliban attack April 27 in Kabul, Afghanistan, shook up a ceremony celebrating the mujahideen victory over the Marxist regime in 1992. The strike left three people dead; Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who was in attendance, escaped uninjured. The attack underscores the problems of achieving some kind of stability in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is made up of a central mountain range (the Hindu Kush) surrounded by plains. It has no meaningful barriers, and the plains that surround it are a virtual invitation for invasion. Mountains form an excellent defense, but since they are in the center of the country rather than on the edges, they divide Afghanistan rather than protect it. The British created Afghanistan to put some breathing room between its Indian colonies and an aggressive Russia to the north. Afghanistan excels as a buffer zone, but as a state, it struggles terribly. The country’s geography disjoints it so that it is, in reality, ruled by whatever army happens to control its separate regions. Currently, NATO is battling it out with the Taliban for that control.

The country’s lack of cohesion is a detriment to the authority of the man overseeing this geographic nightmare. Karzai is Afghanistan’s president basically because the United States picked him shortly after the 2001 invasion. However, his position is very weak; the country he is in charge of is so splintered that consensus is nearly impossible. He is in power because an intervening force found him to be the least offensive candidate and has protected him ever since. Karzai is the linchpin making Afghanistan work for now, but his primary purpose is to survive and represent a fledgling government. He is far from being the country’s true power broker.

This brings us to Gen. David Petraeus, whom U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently tapped to take the helm at Central Command. In his new position, Petraeus’ area of responsibility would shift from Iraq to the entire Middle Eastern theater — focusing on Afghanistan. The general was relatively successful at handling the situation in Iraq, but Afghanistan is a different picture.

In Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran (and the Central Asian countries, to a lesser degree) are needed to secure the country so that militant Islam can be kept in check without NATO forces. The Pakistanis face a dilemma in how to handle the Taliban, and the Iranians will only help for a price. Furthermore, the United States does not want to give Iran another bargaining chip during attempts to find a solution in Iraq.

In Iraq, Petraeus made some progress in creating a system that will hopefully, one day, establish a balance of power between the Sunnis and Shia, and the Arabs and the Iranians. In Afghanistan, his goal will be much more modest. NATO and the United States are increasing troop levels in Afghanistan, which will help Petraeus keep the Taliban back — for now, at least — and prevent incidents like the April 27 attack. But even with more troops — and Karzai alive and in office — Petraeus faces the tough task of getting disparate groups, interests and militias to coalesce into a country that can survive on its own. Meanwhile, geography will not be on his side.
stratfor
23268  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Wilson on: April 28, 2008, 09:21:43 AM
"Illustrious examples are displayed to our view, that we may
imitate as well as admire. Before we can be distinguished by the
same honors, we must be distinguished by the same virtues. What
are those virtues?  They are chiefly the same virtues, which we
have already seen to be descriptive of the American character --
the love of liberty, and the love of law."

-- James Wilson (Of the Study of the Law in the United States,
Circa 1790)

Reference: The Learning of Liberty, Prangle and Prangle (207);
original Selected Political Essays of James Wilson, McCloskey,
ed. (189)
23269  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NK, Syria, and more on: April 27, 2008, 08:27:59 PM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Kim Jong-il builds ‘Thunderbirds’ runway for war in North Korea
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article3822538.ece
An airbase inside a mountain is the latest sign that North Korea, whose links to Syria’s nuclear programme came to light last week, is cranking up its military machine

Michael Sheridan, Far East Correspondent, and Uzi Mahnaimiin in Tel Aviv

North Korean military engineers are completing an underground runway beneath a mountain that can protect fighter aircraft from attack until they take off at high speed through the mouth of a tunnel.
The 6,000ft runway is a few minutes’ flying time from the tense front line where the Korean People’s Army faces soldiers from the United States and South Korea.
The project was identified by an air force defector from North Korea and captured on a satellite image by Google Earth, according to reports in the South Korean press last week.
It is one of three underground fighter bases among an elaborate subterranean military infrastructure built to withstand a “shock and awe” assault in the first moments of a war, the defector said.


The runway, reminiscent of the Thunderbirds television series, highlights the strange and secretive nature of the regime that provided the expertise for a partially built nuclear reactor in Syria, film of which was released by the CIA last week.
The reactor was destroyed by Israeli aircraft last September in an operation that may have killed or injured North Koreans at the site in the remote deserts of eastern Syria.
The airstrike appears to have convinced North Korea to harden its own defences and to spend more on its military, even as it struggles to cope with a new food shortage that could see millions of its citizens go hungry. In recent days North Korea has ordered its people to be vigilant against “warmongers”.
“The prevailing situation requires the whole party and army and all the people to get fully prepared to go into action,” North Korea’s state media said on Friday.
Although the media unleashed a volley of abuse against the United States and Lee Myungbak, South Korea’s conservative new president, it also said “sincere and constructive” negotiations on nuclear disarmament were in progress, an apparent effort to play off hawks against doves in Washington.
Some diplomats, who are sceptical of the process, say that behind the rhetoric, Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader, may sense that he is a hair’s breadth away from a deal that would leave him with up to 10 nuclear weapons and a security guarantee for his regime.
In Washington, nuclear experts were puzzled by the timing and quality of the evidence released by the Bush administration. Democrats suggested hardliners around Dick Cheney, the vice-president, had forced the issue to try to wreck the talks with Kim.
However, there is a more persuasive argument. Analysts in Seoul see the American disclosures as a sly way to keep the negotiations alive. Kim had refused to make a “full declaration” of his nuclear programme by a December 31 deadline; now, in effect, the CIA has done it for him. “The revelation was a highly orchestrated one,” commented The Korea Herald, adding that it “enabled” Pyongyang to “make its declaration without losing face”.
One indication is that Christopher Hill, the US State Department negotiator, flew to Singapore for an unusual session with his North Korean counterparts shortly before the United States went public. “There must have been some sort of secret agreement or deal,” said Taewoo Kim, of the Korea Institute for Defence Analyses in Seoul.
Last year Hill persuaded the White House that the talks offered a realistic chance to accomplish a peace treaty formally ending the 1950-3 Korean war, in which more than 50,000 Americans died. His critics, such as John Bolton, the former United Nations ambassador, say North Korea has a long recidivist history of selling missiles and unconventional weapons to unstable Middle Eastern regimes such as Syria, Iran and Libya.
Whatever the truth, even by the standards of North Korean politics the atomic intrigue half a world away – with its multinational cast of spies, scientists, diplomats and airmen – makes an exotic story.
The alliance between the two clan dictatorships in Damascus and Pyongyang is more than 35 years old. In another tunnel, this one under Mount Myohang, the North Koreans have kept as a museum piece the Kalashnikov assault rifle and pistols sent as gifts from President Hafez al-Assad of Syria to Kim Il-sung in the early years of their friendship.
Today North Korea and Syria are ruled by the sons of their 20th-century dictators – Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father in 2000 and Kim Jong-il took over in 1994. They inherited a hatred of America and a fondness for authoritarian family rule.
Syria possesses the biggest missile arsenal and the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the Middle East, built up over the past two decades with arms bought from North Korea.
North Korea, which detonated a nuclear device in October 2006, has become pivotal to Syria’s plans to enhance and upgrade its weapons.
Syria’s liquid-fuelled Scud-C missiles depend on “essential foreign aid and assistance, primarily from North Korean entities”, said the CIA in a report to the US Congress in 2004.

Diplomats based in Pyongyang have said they now believe reports that about a dozen Syrian technicians were killed in an explosion and train crash at Ryongchon, North Korea, on April 22, 2004. North Korea blamed a technical mishap, but there were rumours of an assassination attempt on Kim, whose special train had passed through the station en route to China some hours earlier.
No independently verified cause of the disaster was made known. However, teams of military personnel wearing protective suits were seen removing debris from the section of the train in which the Syrians were travelling, according to a detailed report quoting military sources which appeared on May 7, 2004, in the Sankei Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper.
The technicians were said to be from Syria’s Centre D’Etudes et de Recherche Scientifique, a body known to be engaged in military technology.
Their bodies were flown home by a Syrian military cargo aircraft which was spotted on May 1, 2004 at Pyongyang. There was speculation among military attachés that the Syrians were transporting unconventional weapons, the paper said at the time. Diplomats said the Sankei Shimbun report was now believed to be accurate.
Last year Jane’s Defence Weekly reported that dozens of Iranian engineers and Syrians were killed on July 23 attempting to load a chemical warhead containing the nerve gases VX and sarin onto a Scud missile at a plant in Syria.
The Scuds and warheads are of North Korean design and possibly manufacture. Some analysts think North Korean scientists were helping the Syrians to attach air-burst chemical warheads to the missiles.
Syria possesses more than 100 Scud-C and ScudD missiles which it bought from North Korea in the past 15 years. In the 1990s it added cluster warheads to the Scud-Cs that experts believe are intended for chemical weapons.
Like North Korea, Syria has an extensive chemical weapons programme including sarin, VX and mustard gas, according to researchers at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute in California.
The Scud-C is strategically worrying to Israel because Syria has deployed it with one launcher for every two missiles. The normal ratio is one to 10. The conclusion: Syria’s missiles are set up for a devastating first strike.
Since 2004 there have been a series of leaks designed to suggest that Syria has renewed its interest in atomic weapons, a claim denied by Damascus.
In December 2006 the Kuwaiti newspaper, Al-Siyasa, quoted European intelligence sources in Brussels as saying that Syria was engaged in an advanced nuclear programme in its northeastern Hasakah province.
It also quoted British security sources as identifying the man heading the programme as Major Maher Assad, brother of the president and commander of the Republican Guard.
Early last year foreign diplomats had noticed an increase in political and military visits between Syria and North Korea. They received reports of Syrian passengers on flights from Beijing to Pyongyang, almost the only air route into the country. They also spotted Middle Eastern businessmen using trains between North Korea and the industrial cities of northeast China.
Then there were clues in the official media. On August 14 Rim Kyongman, the North Korean minister of foreign trade, was in Syria to sign a protocol on “cooperation in trade and science and technology”. His delegation held the fifth meeting of a “joint economic committee” with its Syrian counterpart. No details were disclosed.
Initially, the conclusion of diplomats was that the deal involved North Korean ballistic missiles, maintenance for the existing Syrian arsenal and engineering expertise for building silos and bunkers against air attack. Now it is known that Israeli intelligence interpreted the meeting as the last piece in a nuclear jigsaw; a conclusion that Israel shared with President George W Bush.
For years the United States and Israel saw North Korean weapons sales to the Middle East as purely a source of revenue – apart from seafood, minerals and timber, North Korea is impoverished and has little else to sell. The nuclear threat in Syria was also believed to be dormant, as Damascus appeared to rely on a chemical first-strike as an unconventional deterrent.
In a period of detente, the United States and its allies concurred when China sold a 30kw nuclear reactor to Syria in 1998 under international controls.
=======
Then, in 2003, American intelligence officials believe that Syria recruited Iraqi scientists who had fled after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Like other countries in the region, Syria renewed its pursuit of nuclear research.
The calculus changed for good after North Korea tested a nuclear bomb in 2006 and admitted to a plutonium stockpile sufficient for 10 more.
The danger to Israel is multiplied by the triangular relationship between North Korea, Syria and Iran. Syria has served as a conduit for the transport to Iran of an estimated £50m of missile components and technology sent by sea from North Korea to the Syrian port of Tartous, diplomats said.

They say Damascus and Tehran have set up a £125m joint venture to build missiles in Syria with North Korean and Chinese technical help. North Korean military engineers have worked on hardened silos and tunnels for the project near the cities of Hama and Aleppo.
Israel also noted reports from Pyongyang that Syrian and Iranian observers were present at missile test firings by the North Korean military last summer and were given valuable experimental data. Israeli sources said last week that Iran was informed “in every detail” about the nuclear reactor and had sent technicians to the site.
Such was the background against which Israel took its decision to strike. Two signals from the North Koreans in the aftermath showed that the bombs hit home.
On September 10, four days after the raid, Kim sent a personal message of congratulations to Assad on the Syrian dictator’s 42nd birthday.
“The excellent friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries are steadily growing stronger even under the complicated international situation,” Kim said.
The next day, in a message that went largely unnoticed, the North Koreans condemned the Israeli action as “illegal” and “a very dangerous provocation”.

Just days later a top Syrian official, Saeed Elias Daoud, director of the ruling Syrian Arab Ba’ath party, boarded a Russian-made vintage jet belonging to the North Korean airline, Air Koryo, for the short flight from Beijing.
Daoud brought counsel and sympathy from Assad, whose father Hafez was famed as a strategic gambler with a talent for brinkmanship.
Now Kim is waiting to see if his own gamble has paid off.
Additional reporting: Sarah Baxter in Washington
23270  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Sean Bell Verdict and Al Sharpton’s Culture of Grievance on: April 27, 2008, 04:07:18 PM
Nice to have some articles which bring out some of the facts of the cases.

As someone born and raised in NYC I have continued to keep a fond eye on NYC news over the years.  Al Sharpton has been a race-baiting scumbag for decades now.  There was a car accident years ago wherein a Jew (Hasidim perhaps?) had a car accident where he struck and killed a pedestrian who happened to be black.  By the time Sharpton was done, he had a goodly number of black people in the streets hunting for Jews.

Shame on FOX news for making him a regular on their shows.
23271  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Self-Defense Law on: April 27, 2008, 03:32:46 PM
Thank you for getting the ball rolling on this.  I am hoping more people will chime in on this conversation.
23272  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: April 27, 2008, 08:01:41 AM
Twenty-Five Years Later, A Nation Still at Risk
By CHESTER E. FINN JR.
April 26, 2008; Page A7

Today marks the 25th anniversary of "A Nation at Risk," the influential Reagan-era report by a blue-ribbon panel that alerted Americans to the weak performance of our education system. The report warned of a "rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and a people." That dire forecast set off a quarter century of education reform that's yielded worthy changes – yet still not the achievement gains we need to turn back the tide of mediocrity.

After decades of furthering educational "equality," the 1983 commission admonished the country, it was time to attend to academic excellence and school results. Educators didn't want to hear this and a generation later many still don't. Our ponderous public-school system resists change. Teachers don't like criticism and are loath to be judged by pupil performance. In educator circles, one still encounters grumbling that "A Nation at Risk" lodged a bum rap.

Others heeded the alarm, though, and that report launched an era of forceful innovation and accountability guided by noneducators – elected officials, business leaders and philanthropists.

Such "civilian" leadership has brought about two profound shifts that the professionals, left to their own devices, would never have allowed. Today, instead of judging schools by their services, resources or fairness, we track their progress against preset academic standards – and hold them to account for those results.

We're also far more open to charter schools, vouchers, virtual schools, home schooling. And we no longer suppose kids must attend the campus nearest home. A majority of U.S. students now study either in bona fide "schools of choice," or in neighborhood schools their parents chose with a realtor's help.

Those are historic changes indeed – most of today's education debates deal with the complexities of carrying them out. Yet our school results haven't appreciably improved, whether one looks at test scores or graduation rates. Sure, there are up and down blips in the data, but no big and lasting changes in performance, even though we're also spending tons more money. (In constant dollars, per-pupil spending in 1983 was 56% of today's.)

And just as "A Nation at Risk" warned, other countries are beginning to eat our education lunch. While our outcomes remain flat, theirs rise. Half a dozen nations now surpass our high-school and college graduation rates. International tests find young Americans scoring in the middle of the pack.

What to do now? It's no time to ease the push for a major K-12 education make-over – or to settle (as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton apparently would) for reviving yesterday's faith in still more spending and greater trust in educators. But we can distill four key lessons:

First, don't expect Uncle Sam to manage the reform process. Not only does Washington lack the capacity to revamp thousands of schools and create alternatives for millions of kids, but viewing education reform as a federal obligation lets others off the hook. Yet some things are best done nationally – notably creating uniform standards and tests in place of today's patchwork of uneven expectations and noncomparable assessments. These we have foolishly resisted.

Second, retain civilian control but push for more continuity. Governors and mayors remain indispensable leaders on the ground – but the instant they leave office, the system tries to revert. The adult interests that rule it – teacher unions, yes, but also colleges of education, textbook publishers and more – look after themselves and fend off change. If three consecutive governors or mayors hew to the same agenda, those reforms are more apt to endure.

Third, don't bother seeking one grand innovation. Education reform is not about silver bullets. But huge gains can be made by schools that are free to run (and staff) themselves, attended by choice, expected to meet high standards, and accountable for their results.

Consider the more than 50 schools in the acclaimed Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) network. We don't have nearly enough today, but we're likelier to grow more of them outside the traditional system than by trying to alter the system itself.

Finally, content matters. Getting the structures, rules and incentives right is only half the battle. The other half is sound curriculum and effective instruction. If we can't place enough expert educators in our classrooms, we can use technology to amplify the best of them across the state or nation. Kids no longer need to sit in school to be well educated.

Far from delivering an undeserved insult to a well-functioning system, the authors of "A Nation at Risk" were clear-eyed about that system's failings, and prescient about the challenges these posed to America's future. Now that we're well into that future, we owe them a vote of thanks. But our most solemn responsibility is to keep the reform flag flying high in the wind that they created.

Mr. Finn, a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, is the author of "Troublemaker: A Personal History of School Reform Since Sputnik," published in February by the Princeton University Press.
23273  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Demographics on: April 27, 2008, 07:47:27 AM
Dying Russia
By NICHOLAS EBERSTADT and HANS GROTH
FROM TODAY'S WALL STREET JOURNAL EUROPE
April 25, 2008

Russia is a European country, and its population patterns are unmistakably European in a number of respects, e.g. low birth rates, rising illegitimacy ratios and immigration tensions, and an aging population. But its demographic profile and future prospects differs in two important respects that bode ill for Russia's long-term economic outlook – to say nothing of the Kremlin's ambitious goal of becoming the world's fifth-largest economy by the year 2020.

First, Russia's health and mortality situation is vastly worse than Western Europe's. Life expectancy for Russian men is astonishingly low, well below current levels in either Pakistan or Bangladesh. And trends have been moving in the wrong direction for decades. In 2005, male and female life expectancy at birth in Russia were both lower than they had been 40 years earlier.

 
Russia's brutally high levels of mortality, along with anemic fertility levels, fashion a second "exceptional" demographic trend for the country: depopulation. In the 16-plus years since the end of the U.S.S.R., Russia has recorded over 12 million more deaths than births. Net immigration has only partially compensated for this deficit. Consequently, Russia's population dropped from 148.7 million in 1992 to just over 142 million at the start of this year. Whereas Western Europe faces the prospect of population decline a generation hence, Russia is in the midst of it.

President-elect Dmitry Medvedev envisions a Russia in which births come to exceed deaths by 2014, with positive population growth over the following decade. He has endorsed a new "official demographic concept" with population policies like birth bonuses and other social measures, including in public health, to reverse the decline. Unfortunately, there is not a single example from modern history where pro-natal policies have been able to achieve a sustainable demographic reversal. Outside of Russia, few demographers anticipate depopulation will actually halt over the coming generation. Even the United Nation's "high" projection envisions a drop of over 10 million between 2005 and 2030.

Russia's working-age population is set for an even steeper decline. Between 2005 and 2030, Western Europe's working-age population – aged 15-64 – is projected to shrink by about 7%. In Russia, that figure is 19%. Although Russia's population is just over a third of Western Europe's, absolute declines in working-age population promise to be roughly similar in magnitude over the coming decades. On current mortality schedules, seven of eight Swiss men 20 years of age can expect to celebrate their 65th birthday; only three out of seven Russian men can have the same hope.

In and of itself, the sharp falloff in working-age population – together with the rising ratio of older citizens to Russians of working age – frames a serious demographic challenge for the effort to propel economic growth and raise living standards. But the problem is even more acute than these raw numbers might suggest. For Russia's mortality problem is concentrated in its working-age population.

For over 40 years, Russia has been witness to a truly terrifying upsurge of illness and death precisely among those who ordinarily form the backbone of a modern economy. In 2005, for men between the ages of 27-57, death rates were typically 100% higher than they had been in 1965. As for Russia's women, their situation might only be described as "good" in comparison to that terrible record for Russian men. Death rates for women aged 26-59 in 2005 were at least 40% higher than in 1965 – and for some ages, death rates were up by 50%, 60%, or even 70%.

The causes of death are clear enough: Skyrocketing mortality from cardiovascular disease and injuries (accidents, poisoning, suicides and homicides). The underlying causes here are harder to pinpoint, but we can mention a number of plausible factors: Poor diet, lack of exercise, heavy smoking, and social stress. Russia's deadly love affair with the vodka bottle remains legendary, and looks to be another significant factor, with per capita consumption extraordinarily high.

Russia's "excess mortality" threatens to straitjacket Russian productivity and development. It is true that Russia has enjoyed robust economic growth rates over the past several years, but this has primarily been generated by oil and gas exports. In the modern world economy, a country's health profile is an essential element of its sustainable economic potential – quite arguably, the key element. How can Russia hope to be a vibrant modern economy with a dwindling and debilitated workforce and a life expectancy which is a full 12 years shorter than in Western Europe? No modern society can expect to enjoy an Irish standard of living on an Indian survival schedule.

If Russia is to arrive in the front ranks of 21st-century economies, the yawning health gap that separates Russians from the rest of Europe and all other industrialized democracies has to be closed. Nothing less than a protracted national struggle may be necessary to achieve this goal.

Mr. Eberstadt, a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C., and Dr. Groth, a Pfizer global health fellow and managing director of Pfizer-Switzerland, are authors of "Europe's Coming Demographic Challenge: Unlocking the Value of Health" (AEI Press).

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.
23274  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: April 26, 2008, 06:16:14 PM
"McCain has a history of being a tax cut skeptic and that will make selling his program difficult.  In 1996, Bob Dole's lackluster campaign picked Jack Kemp to be his running mate and Dole adopted a serious tax cut proposal from Kemp.  On the stump and in press questioning Dole couldn't explain his own support for this new, bold proposal and Kemp couldn't explain Dole's past positions opposing these types of rate cuts."

Pithy and its truth here is quite the pity.
23275  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Self-Defense Law on: April 26, 2008, 06:10:20 PM
How does it feel to live like that?
23276  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / 6/22 Guro Crafty seminar at Surf Dog's in Hemet on: April 26, 2008, 11:55:42 AM
Woof All:

I just spoke with Surf Dog and he will be bringing me in again on Sunday June 22 cool

The Adventure continues,
Guro Crafty
23277  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Canton OH 7/12-13 on: April 25, 2008, 05:39:34 PM
I just spoke with Officer Clouse and everything is on track , , , except for my deposit, which is dawdling at the moment in some bureaucratic constipation.  The seminar will be held in a LEO training facility.  Officer Clouse expects things to move along shortly.
23278  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / En Espanol: Trapping on: April 25, 2008, 05:19:42 PM
Ese articulo ya tiene muchos anos, y ademas no estoy seguor de la calidad de la traduccion, y tiene problemas de "punctuation".  He tratado de limpiar los problemas de punctuation pero la segunda mitad del articulo todavia necesita mas trabajo.
====================

Trapping

Este articulo es una revision de algo que fue originalmente enviado a la revista Eskrima Digest sobre el aspecto del trapping. Comienza con una buena pregunta, lo que sigue es una version ligeramente resumida.

"...En resumen, Burt Richardson (y algunos otros maestros que conozco) parecen dudar de la utilidad del tipo de atrape de Jun Fan/Wing Chun (o al menos como ellos lo han entrenado)  y yo pienso que este podria ser el asunto.

"Como puedes reconocer, que todas esas cosas que aprendemos de las Artes Marciales Filipinas como la sombrada, punyo sombrada, hubad, y 1001 desarmes, tienen poca utilidad en los enfrentamientos de alta intensidad como las peleas sin reglas que realiz?is los Dog Brothers. No es necesario decir que tal entrenamiento es inutil, pero ?En una situacion de desventaja que es mas importante el trapping o el trabajo de potencia y las tecnicas de evasion?. A los ojos de Burt, esta clase de situaciones, de aplicaciones al trapping, a menudo no suceden  o, al menos no de la misma manera que se entrena. Por ejemplo: das un puno, el bloquea, te da un punto de referencia alto exterior y te haces pak sao, etc.

Parafraseado por mi entendimiento, creo que actualmente la intencion de Burt  es entrenar solo lo que funciona con un alto porcentaje de exito y los mas parecido a una situacion real (y de ese modo abandonar lo otro), y puesto que muy poca gente es capaz de mantener la  fugaz distancia de atrapes  (y mas ahora que el grappling esta' en auge, y los luchadores tienden a ir directamente al suelo).

Yo se que te solias trabajar mucho con Paul Vunak, y todavia encuentro que en su sistema de entrenamiento esta' fuertemente orientado a la distancia de trapping. Yo entiendo que Paul esta' en la linea de lo que funciona, debe ser puesto a prueba?, as? que me figuro que no mantendria una materia  en sus programas de entrenamiento que no creyera que verdaderamente sirve para un combate real.

Me figuro que por tus experiencias en este tipo de combates de alta intensidad estas  en una situacion de poder apreciar bien los dos puntos de vista, asi que la pregunta es. ?Crees que tiene valor el trapping del Jun Fan/Wing Chun y Kali para la pelea real?

FIN DE LA CITA.

He visto los videos de Burt Richardson que fueron grabados en el gimnasio Straight Blast de Matt Thorton y estoy de acuerdo que se me haga esta pregunta. Hemos oido muchas veces las afirmaciones  "?Donde demonios esta' el trapping en la lucha NHB (No holds Barred)?" (Modalidad de lucha sin reglas que permite agarrar y golpear al oponente en cualquier parte del cuerpo).

El Jeet Kune Do dice "mi tecnica es el resultado de tu tecnica". Bien, la gente lucha ahora de forma muy diferente a cuando vivia Bruce Lee. En aquellos dias yo era un hippie y no practicaba las artes marciales, pero creo que, el karate tendia a atraer a los "luchadores reales" -- tipos a los que gustaba pelear, y los practicantes de kung fu no estaban orientados hacia eso. Quizas esto sea simplemente un estereotipo, pero no por ello deja de tener validez. La gente del karate bloquean y los de Jun Fan/Wing Chun puede atrapar bastante bien, pero por ejemplo, el tipico bloqueo bajo del karate que fija un ataque de puno simplemente no forma parte de las actuales respuestas de los luchadores entrenados. Y la velocidad de la estructura del pendulo del Jun Fan que funciona bien contra un trabajo de pasos mas arraigado, no siempre funciona tan bien contra la biomecanica de alguien diestro en aplicar las tecnicas de pateo del Muay Thai? el alineamiento lateral del pendulo no esta' bien adaptado contra la potencia de las patadas con la pierna trasera y en el instante en que los pies se juntan quedan vulnerables puesto que se pueden barrer los dos con un solo golpe.

La posicion de manos altas del Muay Thai tambien presenta grandes problemas para el clasico tipo de atrape de Jun Fan/Wing Chun. Esto no quiere decir que yo personalmente pueda hacer que el Muay Thai siempre me funcione contra el Jun Fan, pero eso es otro tema. Puede ser dificil para la estructura del Jun Fan Kickboxing tener exito en su mision de entrar bien a la distancia de trapping contra el Muay Thai. El reto de entrar a esta distancia contra un grappler de Jiu Jitsu Brasileno/Vale Tudo, todavia puede desanimarnos mucho mas.

Yo entrenaba bastante tiempo con Paul Vunak desde 1983 a 1986, pero no he estado en contacto con el desde entonces, excepto por una conversacion en la cual me dijo que habia estado trabajando mucho en luxaciones de pierna para contrarrestar la guardia del Jiu Jitsu brasileno (no es una mala idea por supuesto). Asi' que no estoy en una situacion adecuada para evaluar lo que el ha estado haciendo en los ultimos 12 anos.

Cuando yo entrenaba con el me gustaba mucho la manera en que mezclaba libremente las Artes Marciales Filipinas con la estructura del Jun Fan y para mi' tenia sentido decir como el decia, y parafraseo, que JKD era mas que el "estilo de Bruce Lee" y era algo que tenia que evolucionar. Las Artes Marciales Filipinas pueden ser extremadamente JKD en su forma de pensar. En el libro "Masters of Arnis, Kali and Eskrima" de Edgar Sulite (altamente recomendado, por cierto) uno puede ver claramente esto en las entrevistas con varios grandes maestros. Tiene sentido para mi que las Artes Marciales Filipinas podrian y deberan jugar un importante papel en la evolucion del JKD. La estructura tecnica de las Artes Marciales Filipinas tienen un gran "hilo comun" con el Jun Fan. Los dos tienen estructuras que se integran muy bien. La tendencia a enfatizar el lado fuerte delante comu n a los dos es uno de los muchos ejemplos y las altas habilidades en el atrape de manos de ambos sistemas es otra.

Sin embargo, mientras Guro Inosanto trabajaba duro durante decadas en favor del legado de Bruce Lee, un nucleo de gente de JKD, muchos de los cuales se habian dormido en los..... laureles desde que murio' Bruce Lee, ladraron y maullaron que el JKD era lo que Bruce Lee hizo y nada mas. En mi opinion Guro Inosanto eligia el termino "JKD Conceptos" en un esfuerzo de evitar el conflicto con la gente del JKD clasico; en lugar de decir la llana verdad, que el JKD por definicion debe evolucionar. Incluso este compromiso por su parte no bastaba y ahora algunos en este grupo en una manera Orwelliano buscan reescribir la historia del JKD con algans "agunas en sus memorias" pasando por encima del nombre de Guro Inosanto. Pero esto es cuestio de palabras y, como tales, no tienen mucha importancia.

?Que es lo importante?  Primero, no exagerar las cosas. Necesitamos recordar que en el ambiente actual mucho de esa materia sigue funcionando. Cuando estuve en Brasil en junio de 1992 ensene' a Renzo Gracie el video de Vunak "Headbutt, Elbow, Knees". Yo tengo el video amateur desde su rincon de su siguiente Vale Tudo All? algunos de los tipos que estaban con el en su esquina tenian esta estructura.

Es tambien importante recordar que muchas situaciones en la que uno puede encontrarse en la calle suelen  ser muy diferentes a las de un octogono NHB (No holds Barred). ?Cuanta gente querria tirarse al suelo para luchar contra un tipo con buenas y rapidas piernas de Savate en botas de cowboy? Si', puede hacerse, pero alguno va a tener que ser extremadamente rapido. Los punos en cadena podrian ser mas utiles en una pelea en la puerta de un bar que una proyeccion de pierna o una palanca de brazo. Muchos vigilantes jurados y otros con mucha experiencia son entusiastas del atrape de manos. Asi' que en mi opinion no deberamos dejarnos llevar por esta interrogacio "Donde esta"el trapping en la lucha sin reglas?".

En todo esto todav?a hay una pregunta aun m?s legitima. Un poco de lo que estamos acostumbrados a ver hoy, es simplemente la manera en que se ense?a en muchas clases de Jun Fan o Wing Chun y Burt est? en lo cierto, as? que tambi?n  es importante tener en cuenta esto. D?jame ver si puedo contestar t? pregunta por medio de un ejemplo: En la ingenier?a, se distinguen varios tipos de fuerza: comprensiva, tensi?n, penetraci?n, fatiga, etc. Ingenieros, por favor, perdonad mi falta de rigor t?cnico. La fuerza comprensiva es la habilidad de soportar peso. Por ejemplo, puedes poner mucho peso sobre el cemento y este no se derrumbar?. Fuerza de tensi?n es la habilidad de resistir un tir?n. Piensa en los cables met?licos de un puente en suspensi?n. ?Por qu? no est?n hechos de cemento? Porque el cemento tiene una p?sima fuerza de tensi?n y se partir?a.

Contra las estructuras de pelea usadas en los a?os 60 y a principios de los 70 las estructuras de trapping de Jun Fan/Wing Chun funcionaban muy bien. Cuando apareci? el Muay Thai, lo hizo menos, y cuando vino el Jiu Jitsu brasile?o incluso menos. Esto es como si el Jiu Jitsu brasile?o cuestionara la fuerza de tensi?n del cemento. El cemento es fuerte, pero no de esa manera. El reto, como yo lo veo, es el equivalente de aprender a poner esas varillas met?licas que forman una rejilla en el cemento; algo es necesario para proveer fuerza de tensi?n al cemento.

Burt, Vunak y yo somos todos estudiantes de Guro Inosanto, y no sorprender? a nadie que nuestros puntos de vista sean  diferentes. Hablando  por m? mismo, pienso que el trapping continua teniendo mucha validez, Las rejillas es lo que ha cambiado as? lo que se necesita si lo deseas, es que las a?adas a tu entrenamiento. ?El cambio es siempre lo importante?. Personalmente, la mayor parte de mi trapping viene m?s de las Artes Filipinas que del Jun Fan; encuentro m?s f?cil que funcione atacando a los brazos de mi agresor. El uso de los codos y los antebrazos y las formas de usar la mano de las Artes Marciales Filipinas se adaptan mejor a m?.

Volviendo al siguiente punto, estoy en desacuerdo con tu afirmaci?n de que..... ?Como puedes reconocer, que todas esas cosas  que aprendemos en las Artes Marciales Filipinas como la sombrada, pu?o sombrada, hubad, y 1001 desarmes, tienden a no ser ?tiles en enfrentamientos de alta intensidad como las peleas sin reglas en las reuniones de los Dog Brothers.? ?Por qu?? porque estos son simplemente M?TODOS DE ENTRENAMIENTO, no t?cnicas, y la prueba de su validez est? en los resultados funcionales de la gente que entrena con ellos.

Si miras a los cuatro luchadores de ?primera fila? de los Dog Brothers por ejemplo ver?s que todos ellos tienen un alto nivel de entrenamiento serio en diversas artes marciales. Top Dog se mueve condenadamente bien, en mi opini?n y no importa si es en una carenza o durante una pelea. Despu?s de empezar con el maestro Tom Bisio, fue estudiante de Gran Tuhon Leo Gaje del sistema Pekiti Tirsia. Salty Dog adem?s de su entrenamiento en Artes Marciales Filipinas aqu? en los Estados Unidos ( esta certificado en el sistema Derobio por ejemplo) ha entrenado  tambi?n por largos periodos de tiempo en Thailandia el  Krabi Krabong en el Instituto Buddaiswan y est? certificado por ellos. Sled Dog tambi?n ha entrenado con Gran Tuno Leo Gaje y es Mataas Na Guro en Pekiti Tirsia, tambi?n tiene un alto grado de instructor en Kajukembo y otras artes. En mi caso, soy estudiante y estoy certificado por Guro Dan Inosanto, y tambi?n por el fallecido Punong Guro Edgar Sulite. Recientemente me he convertido en estudiante de GT Leo Gaje.

?Cuando vemos una pelea en una reuni?n de los Dog Brothers la gente deber?a darse cuenta que cuando ven un golpe viniendo de un bloqueo de tejado, lo que est?n viendo puede ser el resultado del entrenamiento de la sombrada? No hay duda en mi mente, de que mi primera pelea fue as? (sin exagerar ?hay muchas cosas de ello que funcionan) en gran parte es a causa de mucho tiempo trabajando la sombrada en las clases de Guro Inosanto. Personalmente, en este momento tiendo a no coger mucho de ?pu?o sombrada? , pero puede ser que alguien lo haga, o puede ser que alg?n d?a eso cambie para m?. Lo mismo con los desarmes. Yo siento que cojo mucho de hubud, pero de manera muy diferente a como lo hacen la mayor?a de la gente que no tienen experiencia en la lucha. Para trabajar mejor, los m?todos de entrenamiento variaran de un luchador a otro, as? que un buen profesor no se limitar? a ense?ar sus preferencias personales, en lugar de eso ofrecer? diferentes entrenamientos a sus estudiantes.

Por encima de todo, necesitamos recordar que estos m?todos de entrenamiento fueron desarrollados por guerreros en las Filipinas para entrenar bien y con seguridad. Aqu? en los Estados Unidos tratamos de usarlos para una tarea muy  diferente a la de desarrollar aut?nticos guerreros, y culpamos los m?todos en lugar de a nosotros mismos cuando todav?a no somos capaces de luchar. Esto s?lo es mi opini?n.

Hablando francamente, soy consciente que en algunos c?rculos a Guro Inosanto se le critica por ense?ar ?mostrando y no yendo?. Sin embargo en mi opini?n esto puede ser el punto importante que Guro Inosanto hace sobre entrenamientos a corto, medio y largo plazo. Para resultados inmediatos entrenas de una manera, para resultados a plazo medio tu entrenas de otra manera y de otra para resultados a largo plazo.

Muchos de vosotros pod?is saber que el sistema Dog Brothers Martial Arts est? basado fundamentalmente en la Mezcla de las Artes marciales filipinas de Dan Inosanto, Pekiti Tirsia, y Lameco. Cuando lucho con un solo palo utilizo principalmente la Mezcla de Inosanto (con algo de Bando Python) mezclado con el Jiu Jitsu brasile?o de los Machado. Yo creo que la ?nica raz?n por la que puedo continuar luchando efectivamente a los 47 a?os es a causa del entrenamiento a medio y largo plazo, llamado por algunos ?mostrar?, que Guro Inosanto hace hacer a sus estudiantes. Habr?a sido un idiota s? pretendiera decir que me dado cuenta de esto por m? mismo. Para ser un buen stickgrappler se requiere una buena base de Kali y de grappling (Jiu Jitsu brasile?o en mi caso) antes de ir a la lucha cuerpo a cuerpo. En otras palabras, a?os de preparaci?n. Todas esas combinaciones ?mostradas? por Dan Inosanto ahora las veo de diferente forma,? No son literales, son mapas kinest?sico/neurol?gicos que est?n listos para ser utilizados en cualquier momento. A causa de este entrenamiento, mientras lucho veo posibilidades que probablemente de otra manera no ver?a y mi manera de luchar puede ser m?s espont?nea? Estoy m?s preparado para dar una soluci?n a cualquier cosa que surja inesperadamente. Pero, si nunca he trabajado en la comprensi?n de la lucha, entonces esta porci?n de mi entrenamiento no servir?a en una pelea, esto es un punto vital.

Tambi?n es un punto vital que uno no puede alcanzar este punto si no es capaz de  golpear fuerte mientras est? moviendo sus pies, etc. Este es  uno de los principales secretos de los primeros v?deos de los Dog Brothers. No hay que evitar construir el fundamento, pero si algunos de vosotros quer?is poner las paredes antes de pensar en poner los cimientos, cuando el sol de la juventud se va pod?is encontraros en la oscuridad. Por el contrario, aquellos de vosotros que solamente pong?is los cimientos sin construir las paredes y el tejado os mojareis de una lluvia de golpes.

Una de las cosas que m?s profundamente me condujo hacia la practica de las Artes Marciales Filipinas, fue su consistente habilidad para producir la comprensi?n en los hombres de lo que es verdaderamente practico  en la vida. Yo no s? de otras artes marciales que tengan tanta tradici?n y  tanto ?xito en esto. Creo que la vida en la practica de las artes marciales pasa por tres estados. Todav?a estoy luchando para conseguirles un buen nombre. Por el momento les llamo el macho joven, el padre/profesor, y... bien, todav?a no tengo un nombre para el tercer estado, pero esa es la meta, as? que llam?mosle ?La Meta!. Para m? est?n representados por Bruce Lee, Dan Inosanto y John LaCoste.

Guau,

Guro Marc ?Crafty Dog? Denny.

23279  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: April 25, 2008, 04:41:26 PM
Danish citizen evaluates our candidates.....
From an observer in Denmark.........


"We in Denmark cannot figure out why you are even bothering to hold an election.

On one side, you have a bitch who is a lawyer, married to a lawyer.
And a lawyer who is married to a bitch who is a lawyer.

On the other side, you have a true war hero, married to a woman with a huge chest, who owns a beer distributorship.

Is there a contest here?"

__________________
23280  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: April 25, 2008, 12:58:56 PM
McCain's Campaign Finance Revelation
April 25, 2008; Page A13
While Democrats absorbed the lessons of Pennsylvania this week, John McCain was coming to a few realizations of his own. For one, "big money" in politics isn't so bad after all.

That's the takeaway from the presumptive GOP nominee's new fund-raising strategy, which his campaign has quietly rolled out these past few weeks. The McCain camp is teaming up with the Republican National Committee to tap into big, big donations from big, big donors – hoping to close the big, big money gap with Democrats.

Their (sic-- "The McCain Camp" is a singular, which call for "It" as subject, not "They") effort to do so will involve some creative abuse of the campaign finance restrictions Mr. McCain authored a few years back. Whatever. The Arizonan may not yet fully understand that money is speech. At least he has come around to the view that more of the stuff is better when it comes to winning the presidency.

Whatever has driven the shift – conversion, pragmatism, desperation – Mr. McCain's new financial determination is welcome news to his supporters. GOP voters had worried their candidate would unnecessarily fetter himself with self-imposed finance restrictions. Instead, he looks eager to win. And as far as strategies go, this one is arguably Mr. McCain's best shot at evening the odds against a money powerhouse like Barack Obama.

The joke, of course, is that Mr. McCain helped create those long odds. Turns out this whole campaign-finance thingy hasn't turned out to be the clean-politics, leveled-playing-field he envisioned. All it has done is handicap Mr. McCain.

The senator thought he had a fellow-reformer in Mr. Obama. Then the Democrat figured out how to tap into the small-dollar contributions required under McCain-Feingold. Now he's awash in cash and unlikely to sign up for the general-election public-financing system both men once lauded.

Unable to match Mr. Obama with smaller donors and (thanks to his own law) unable to cash any million-dollar donations, Mr. McCain is resigned to public financing. This will limit him to $84 million in taxpayer funds from the convention to Election Day. Mr. Obama will have no such restrictions.

Meanwhile, McCain-Feingold's biggest "accomplishment" these past five years has been the flowering of those shadowy operations known as 527s, which abide by no rules. Democrats have fine-tuned these outfits, and are gearing up to unload hundreds of millions in negative advertising on none other than Mr. McCain. This bullet is aimed not at his foot, but his head.

In light of all this, the McCain camp has come up with a plan that it hopes will tighten the score. It has filed to create the "McCain Victory '08" fund, a "hybrid legal structure" that includes the campaign, the Republican National Committee, and four battleground states.

Mr. McCain's own law restricts individuals to donations of $2,300 per candidate, but those individuals can also contribute much bigger amounts to different party funds. So, with "McCain Victory '08," donors can write a check for $70,000.

Technically, the money is divvied up between Mr. McCain, the RNC ($28,500) and the four states ($10,000 each). In reality, it will in effect all be used for the candidate's benefit.

Such are the contortions of our twisted campaign finance system, loopholes Mr. McCain must be happy exist today. He gets to sock away bigger chunks of money, faster, in hopes of gaining on a Democratic rival who may not be able to stomach a similar arrangement with Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean. Mr. McCain raised about $15 million in March, compared to Mrs. Clinton's $20 million and Mr. Obama's $40 million. But the RNC itself raised $13 million, and has $30 million cash on hand in aid of its nominee.

Mr. McCain has also taken his share of shots at lobbyists over the years, part of his quest to curb the "influence" of money in politics. Yet another recent campaign revelation is that there are only a small number of Americans wealthy enough to actually write a check for $70,000. Included in that group are the K Street regulars.

That may explain why McCain campaign manager Rick Davis recently showed up in Washington to brief a group of 30 lobbyists and PR types on Mr. McCain's new fund-raising plans – and pass the collection plate. He also met with about 100 Republican chiefs of staff to spread the word about the new RNC partnership.

Whether this will ease Mr. McCain's financial woes is yet unclear, but it's arguably his smartest move, given the hand he's dealt himself. Just imagine what might have happened if Mr. McCain had fought instead for simple transparency – and trusted Americans to decide how much to give and to whom. Free speech, via money, can be a liberating thing.

Write to kim@wsj.com
23281  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Afghanistan's police on: April 25, 2008, 12:42:55 PM
The New Strategy for Afghanistan's Cops
By ANN MARLOWE
April 25, 2008; Page A13

Kabul

Afghanistan will be a stable, self-sufficient state only when it can both defend its borders and provide law and order to its citizens.

The country is much further along on the first test: The Afghan National Army hasn't lost an engagement with the insurgents in a year, and is beginning operations without coalition aid.

But the Afghan National Police (ANP) is still dysfunctional, despite years of training by NATO and U.S. mentors. A new American plan offers hope of changing that.

"The police are the face of government in Afghanistan," says Maj. Gen. Robert W. Cone, the American commander in charge of police training. He has a tough mission: reforming a police force of 78,000 and overseeing 7,000 trainers in 280 locations. "We don't need to make these cops as good as the 82nd Airborne," he says, referring to the storied unit that just finished a 15-month rotation here. "We just need to make them two-and-a-half times better than the enemy."

This is already happening with the elite units of the ANP. The 1,600-strong Afghan National Civil Order Police (Ancop) has only lost one man to the insurgency since it was fielded in May 2007. In southern Zabul province, a police unit recently eliminated the Taliban forces that attacked them.

But for the most part, the ANP has proved an expensive quagmire. After Europeans charged with its training failed, the U.S. Army took up the task in late 2005, spending more than $1 billion in 2006 and $2.5 billion in 2007. This bought training, new Ford Ranger pickup trucks, weapons and barracks for the police in two-thirds of the country. Much of the $2.5 billion won't be spent until later this year, and much of this year's $800 million budget will be used in 2009, due to the timing of Congressional appropriations.

Gen. Cone's men are trying to improve the police faster than the insurgents can kill them, which is often by explosives. The ANP is especially vulnerable in unarmored, U.S.-provided Ford Ranger trucks. The Afghan National Army is just now getting up-armored Humvees like those of U.S. troops. But neither the army nor the police have the jamming capacity to prevent phone-activated, improvised-explosive devices.

The police casualty rate has been alarming. According to Gen. Cone, 825 police died last year. By comparison, 181 police died in the line of duty in the 10-times larger U.S. in 2007.

So Gen. Cone is trying a new approach. The Focused District Development (FDD) plan was rolled out last year in seven of Afghanistan's most dangerous districts, selected to track the ring road around the country. The same process is scheduled for 172 districts by 2010. (Afghanistan has 365 districts, but many are in the relatively tranquil north, west or center regions.)

Assessment teams vetted the cops in the seven districts, separating the irredeemable officers from the promising. The latter were sent to a regional training center for two months to learn everything from how to handcuff suspects and search a house to what rights suspects have. They worked with police mentoring teams composed of U.S. Army and Dynacorp trainers.

The Ancops were sent in for two months while the old cops trained. ("A lot of the people didn't want the Ancops to leave," Gen. Cone comments. "They say that these police are on our side.") Then the new trainees came back with their police mentoring teams to live and work together for two to four months. Eventually, the mentoring teams would no longer live with the police, but come in for occasional inspections and advice.

Reform will not happen overnight. Gen. Cone explains: "We're going as fast as we can, and the product we put out at eight weeks training can survive on this battlefield, in Helmand and Kandahar. We need 2,300 more trainers to do this job. I've used up 81 training teams to date, the next round of FDD will take 11 more, and I've only got 102 mentor teams."

It is too soon to tell if the first phase has led to more local support for the police, and greater police effectiveness against the insurgents. Gen. Cone's attempts to attract better cops may be succeeding, even if the eight-week training doesn't work on everyone. Recently, in the district of Zurmat in Paktia province, the existing police returned from their training. Some of the better qualified officers caught eight of the freshly trained ANP setting up illegal checkpoints.

There is still a ways to go. But if our Army can make the ANP a respected and trusted institution, Afghanistan will have passed a major milestone on the road to self-sufficiency.

Ms. Marlowe is a New York-based writer who just finished her third embed with U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.

23282  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: War on Terror is not a Crime on: April 25, 2008, 12:37:20 PM
The War on Terror Is Not a Crime
By DAVID B. RIVKIN JR. and LEE A. CASEY
April 25, 2008

Lynching lawyers, as Shakespeare once suggested, has never appealed much to the legal profession itself – literally or figuratively. But an exception apparently will be made for a group of attorneys who advised President Bush and his national security staff in the aftermath of 9/11. They've been subject to an increasingly determined campaign of public obloquy by law professors, activist lawyers and pundits.

Their legal competence and ethics have been questioned. Suggestions have even been made that they can and should be held criminally responsible for "war crimes," because their legal advice supposedly led to detainee abuses at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.

The targets of this witch hunt include some of the country's finest legal minds – such as law Prof. John Yoo of the University of California at Berkeley, Judge Jay Bybee of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and William J. (Jim) Haynes II, former Pentagon general counsel. Others frequently mentioned include former White House Counsel Harriet Miers, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith.

Many positions taken by these attorneys, laying the fundamental legal architecture of the war on terror, outrage international activists and legal specialists. Nevertheless, in a series of cases beginning with Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004), the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld many of their key positions: that the country is engaged in an armed conflict; that captured enemy combatants can be detained without criminal trial during these hostilities; and that (when the time comes) they may be punished through the military, rather than the civilian, justice system.

The Court has also required that detainees be given an administrative hearing to challenge their enemy-combatant classification, ruled that Congress (not the president alone) must establish any military commission system, and made clear that it will in the future exercise some level of judicial scrutiny over the treatment of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay – although the extent of this role is still being litigated. Overall, the administration has won the critical points necessary to continue the war against al Qaeda.

Most controversial, of course, was the Bush administration's insistence that the Geneva Conventions have limited, if any, application to al Qaeda and its allies (who themselves reject the "Western" concepts behind those treaties); and the administration's authorization of aggressive interrogation methods, including, in at least three cases, waterboarding or simulated drowning.

Several legal memoranda, particularly 2002 and 2003 opinions written by Mr. Yoo as deputy assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, considered whether such methods can lawfully be used. These memoranda, some of which remain classified, explore the limits imposed on the United States by statute, treaties, and customary international law. The goal clearly was to find a legal means to give U.S. interrogators the maximum flexibility, while defining the point at which lawful interrogation ended and unlawful torture began.

Behind this inquiry is a stark fact. In this war on terror, the U.S. must not only attack and defeat enemy forces. It must also anticipate and prevent their deliberate attacks on its civilian population – al Qaeda's preferred target. International law gives the civilian population an indisputable right to that protection.

Lawyers can and do disagree over the administration's conclusions. However, it's now being claimed that the administration's legal advisers can be held responsible for detainee abuses.

This is madness. The lawyers were not in any chain of command, and had no theoretical or practical authority to direct the actions of anyone who engaged in abusive conduct. Those who mouth this argument are engaged in a kind of free association which, if applied across the board, would make legal counsel infinitely culpable.

In truth, the critics' fundamental complaint is that the Bush administration's lawyers measured international law against the U.S. Constitution and domestic statutes. They interpreted the Geneva Conventions, the U.N. Convention forbidding torture, and customary international law, in ways that were often at odds with the prevailing view of international law professors and various activist groups. In doing so, however, they did no more than assert the right of this nation – as is the right of any sovereign nation – to interpret its own international obligations.

But that right is exactly what is denied by many international lawyers inside and outside the academy.

To the extent that international law can be made, it is made through actual state practice – whether in the form of custom, or in the manner states implement treaty obligations. In the areas relevant to the war on terror, there is precious little state practice against the U.S. position, but a very great deal of academic orthodoxy.

For more than 40 years, as part of the post World War II decolonization process, a legal orthodoxy has arisen that supports limiting the ability of nations to use robust armed force against irregular or guerilla fighters. It has also attempted to privilege such guerillas with the rights traditionally reserved to sovereign states. The U.S. has always been skeptical of these notions, and at critical points has flatly refused to be bound by these new rules. Most especially, it refused to join the 1977 Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions, involving the treatment of guerillas, from which many of the "norms" the U.S. has supposedly violated, are drawn.

The Bush administration acted on this skepticism – insisting on the right of a sovereign nation to determine for itself what international law means. This is at bottom the sin for which its legal advisers will never be forgiven. To the extent they can be punished – or at least harassed – perhaps their successors in government office will be deterred from again challenging the prevailing view, even at the cost of the national interest.

That is why these administration attorneys have become the particular subjects of attack.

Messrs. Rivkin and Casey served in the Justice Department under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and were members of the United Nations Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights from 2004-2007.
23283  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: April 25, 2008, 12:28:47 PM
Can Hillary Sue Her Way to the Nomination?

It was inevitable that the lawyers would be lining up to contest the Democratic nomination race.

Yesterday, a key supporter of Hillary Clinton's filed a challenge demanding that the Democratic National Committee seat all of Michigan's pledged delegates -- 55% of whom backed Mrs. Clinton in a January primary that Barack Obama didn't participate in and whose results the national Democratic Party has so far refused to recognize.

DNC member Joel Ferguson says Michigan's 128 pledged delegates should be given half a vote each at the Denver convention and its 28 superdelegates -- such as himself -- should be given a full vote. He says such a settlement would represent a fair punishment for the state's decision to break party rules and hold an early primary.

The Obama campaign is making clear that it will oppose Mr. Ferguson's proposal -- and also any similar move by Florida to seat its own delegates, which were also selected in a primary held outside party rules. The dispute will now go to the DNC's Rules Committee.

Mr. Ferguson agrees that rules are rules, but notes that the controversy is now hurting the party's chances in the fall. If nothing is done to assuage the feelings of the Michigan faithful, he warns, the outcome would end up "weakening the Democratic Party in Michigan and harming its ability to cast its electoral votes for the Democratic nominee for president."

Stay tuned. This could become as controversial as the Florida recount battle of 2000.

-- John Fund

The 'Gaffe' Calculus

Sen. John McCain is all over the map these days -- literally and rhetorically. He's just wrapping up his second national tour, named the "It's Time for Action Tour," today in Little Rock, Arkansas. The tour has taken him to Alabama, Ohio, Kentucky and Louisiana. Before that, there was the "Service to America Tour," which found him in Mississippi, Virginia, Maryland, Florida and Arizona. At this rate, Mr. McCain could easily hit all 50 states before the Democrats even have a nominee.

But it's on the rhetorical side that Mr. McCain seems to be charting a stranger path. When the country was unwillingly introduced to Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his Chicago church back in March, Mr. McCain, with the lowest of low-hanging fruit dangling before him, declined to criticize his would-be opponent. As if to show that his generosity cut both ways, he was equally hushed on Sen. Hillary Clinton's Bosnian sniper tale.

Contrast those examples, however, with what Mr. McCain had to say about Barack Obama's infamous "bitter" comments regarding Pennsylvania voters. He released a statement shortly afterward condemning the remarks and just yesterday he repeated that they were "elitist."

Mr. McCain is not finicky about criticizing his opponents over matters of policy like the Iraq war or the economy. But on gaffes -- those inopportune, unscripted moments that can be extremely embarrassing and even damaging to political candidates -- Mr. McCain has shown a curious discipline. What, for instance, makes Mr. Obama's ideas about Pennsylvanians "clinging" to guns and God worthier of comment than Rev. Wright's grotesque anti-Americanism?

The method in his madness seems to be that Mr. McCain is adopting rules for the coming election, a standard of conduct that he hopes voters will appreciate as honorable. Mr. Obama's "bitter" comments insult average Americans, while Rev. Wright, as insulting as he is, is not running for president. Mrs. Clinton got caught telling a fib, but it was a harmless fib that insulted only voters' intelligence.

Of course by showing voters exactly how he plans to conduct himself, Mr. McCain is anticipating that his eventual rival won't be so honorable. There's your setup. But there is also a trap. As with the brouhaha over a North Carolina Republican Party ad that highlighted Mr. Obama's connection with Rev. Wright, Mr. McCain's opponents will insist on tying him to these outside efforts no matter what he says. Which is just one reason why honor is so rarely rewarded in politics.

-- Blake Dvorak,

Quote of the Day I

"Most of us in news are not smart enough to figure out what's going on. We may pretend that we're good enough to do that. But in fact, when we look you in the eye, in the camera, we're really just making it up" -- MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann, speaking on David Letterman's "Late Show."

Quote of the Day II

"If you look at Obama's vote in Pennsylvania, you begin to see the outlines of the old George McGovern coalition that haunted the Democrats during the '70s and '80s, led by college students and minorities. In Pennsylvania, Obama did best in college towns (60 to 40 percent in Penn State's Centre County) and in heavily black areas like Philadelphia. Its ideology is very liberal. Whereas in the first primaries and caucuses, Obama benefited from being seen as middle-of-the-road or even conservative, he is now receiving his strongest support from voters who see themselves as 'very liberal'.... There is nothing wrong with winning over voters who are very liberal and who never attend religious services; but if they begin to become Obama's most fervent base of support, he will have trouble (to say the least) in November" -- New Republic senior editor John Judis.

Quote of the Day III

"For the first time, Democratic loyalists not necessarily committed to Hillary Clinton are wondering whether the party's system for picking a nominee is their problem. If all caucuses were eliminated and only primaries used in picking nominees, Obama's lead of 130 in delegates would become an advantage for Clinton of 45 delegates. The bigger problem is proportional representation replacing the winner-take-all system that enabled Republicans to get their nominee on Feb. 5 Super Tuesday. Without the 'reforms' enacted by Democrats during the decade following the party's 1968 fiasco, Clinton might have clinched the nomination by now" -- columnist Robert Novak.

He May Be Plastic, But He Doesn't Carry Any

World leaders spend their time coddled in comfort and care so they can focus on more important problems. Once out of office, they often have trouble making the adjustment to the real world, where individuals are actually expected to take responsibility for their lives.

Take Tony Blair. Until last June, he was prime minister of the United Kingdom. Now he's a private citizen, albeit an increasingly rich and sought-after one who is constantly flitting from speech to speech. That hectic schedule might explain why he was caught last week on a British train without either a ticket or the cash to pay for one. He was also carrying no credit cards.

The story begins with Mr. Blair rushing to catch a plane to the U.S. from London's Heathrow Airport. The fastest route is the Heathrow Express, a special non-stop train from London's downtown. While Mr. Blair was making the 15-minute journey, he was approached by a ticket inspector who asked for proof he had paid the $49 fare.

Mr. Blair, whose income last year topped $1 million, explained that he didn't have any money or credit cards with him. His bodyguard spoke up and offered to pay the fare but, astonishingly, the inspector insisted that wouldn't be necessary.

The incident has sparked a bit of an uproar in Britain. The Daily Mail reports that travelers it spoke with "were outraged that Mr. Blair had been given a free ride."

Mr. Blair's spokesman says his boss wasn't at fault. "Payment was offered and was refused," he told reporters, though the spokesman was unable to answer any questions about why Mr. Blair travels with fewer resources on his person than the average homeless person. It's one thing for the Queen to proceed through life without having to worry about carrying any of the coins or bills that bear her image. But now that he's a private citizen, Mr. Blair should make at least an effort to pretend once again he's a normal human being.
23284  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on McCain and tax rates on: April 25, 2008, 12:20:10 PM
McCain and Taxes
April 25, 2008
John McCain, the Republican nominee for President, has proposed extending the Bush tax cuts. So as morning follows night this week, Democratic news analysis has been pouring forth to proclaim that his tax ideas are a threat to the republic because they'll explode the budget deficit. The Senator needs to understand that he can't win this election by playing on this economic turf.

The subtext of the criticism of the McCain tax plan is that it would somehow "starve" the government of revenue. The figures being tossed around for the "cost" of the McCain tax plan have been estimated at $2 trillion by the liberal Center for American Progress, while the Brookings Institution estimates $5.7 trillion.

 
If this were really true, the lower Bush rates of 2003 already would be draining money away from Uncle Sam. Instead, even amid an economic slowdown, tax revenue stands at nearly 19% of GDP. That's above the modern historical average, and there is no precedent in recent history for raising and maintaining the tax take significantly higher than that.

If all the tax cuts expire, however, we would see the largest tax increase in U.S. history and that percentage of national income going to the Treasury would climb steeply higher. In which economics text is it written that the cure for a slowing economy is an unprecedented tax increase?

Senator McCain has also proposed moving the U.S. corporate tax rate, currently the second highest in the world after Japan, to a rate closer to the international norm. The point here is to stop driving investment and jobs overseas. Even House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel has recognized this. Once-sleepy Ireland cut its corporate tax rate to 12.5% from 48%, and tax receipts have soared because of its revived economy. Incentives work.

We've made no secret of our disagreement with the Bush Administration's willingness to accept a weak dollar. Yet that's what we've got. As such, a low tax rate on capital-gains and dividends is even more crucial if we are to attract capital into the U.S. economy.

The criticism of the McCain plan by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, echoed in the media analysis, is that his reductions merely direct benefits to "the wealthiest." But these people already pay nearly all the income tax burden. Meanwhile, the politicians make sure the middle class gets socked by payroll and state taxes.

 
This said, it isn't going to be sufficient for Senator McCain to simply tout these tax cuts without offering a strong rationale. The standard trap the left sets whenever tax cuts are mooted is to wave the "deficit" that will result. Absent a counterargument, Mr. McCain will spend the campaign playing on this liberal ground. In particular, he has to make the case that tax cuts do not lose as much revenue as the static, dollar-for-dollar revenuers claim. He has tax-cut history on his side. The threats of revenue catastrophe did not happen in the 1960s (the Kennedy tax cuts), the 1980s (Reagan) or after 2003 (Bush). See the nearby table.

Senator McCain has to find a way to make the case that his economic plan and its attendant tax cuts are intended to spur economic growth. So much the better if he doesn't feel personally comfortable making that argument in the sort of dry terms his economic advisers might favor.

Growth is the product of work performed by a huge nation of individuals seeking to support families, small businesses and communities. Virtually everyone understands that the nation only thrives if people are able to invest their money and labor and then reinvest it in more of the same. They will only do that, at every income level, if the government consents to allowing most of the fruits of this effort to remain with individuals in the private economy.

Senator McCain doesn't need a doctorate in economics to understand this debate. As a Member of Congress and Presidential candidate, he has listened endlessly to Democrats mau-mau their opponents with rhetoric about "fairness" and the "deficit" and, best of all, the "investment needs" of the government, aka, spending.

The past week's criticisms are intended to bait Mr. McCain into debating his tax cuts on these liberal terms. He can only win this debate, and the election, by breaking free of that mindset and making his own personal case for lower taxes and the prosperity they help to create.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary,
23285  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: April 25, 2008, 11:36:46 AM
That was great!  Why did it cut off before the end of the fight?
23286  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyberwar on: April 25, 2008, 11:02:51 AM
Counterfeit tech items from China
Counterfeit products originating from China are not a new problem. Everything from fake iPods to imitation name-brand purses have been sold to unwitting American shoppers. Now, solving the problem has taken on new urgency amid revelations that U.S. government agencies and military branches have bought millions of dollars of counterfeit Cisco networking equipment from China. According to an unclassified PowerPoint presentation circulating within the FBI, government entities that have purchased counterfeit equipment include the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center, the U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center, the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Air Force, the Federal Aviation Administration, numerous defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, and even the FBI itself.

The counterfeit purchases were largely the result of government buyers trying to obtain high-end equipment for the lowest bid. The nightmare scenario is that U.S. government computer networks assumed secure might be hopelessly compromised with virtual back doors, which could allow the People’s Republic of China to monitor network traffic and even interfere with network operation. The FBI is currently trying to determine the motives of the counterfeiters, and while “profit” is the hoped-for answer, espionage cannot be ruled out at this time.

PatriotPost.com
23287  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Amazing blind man on: April 25, 2008, 10:51:45 AM
By Vic Ryckaert
vic.ryckaert@indystar.com

A blind homeowner used the wrestling skills he learned more than 30 years ago to overpower an intruder and hold the man at knifepoint until police arrived this morning.

“I just kind of panicked and just kind of went crazy after that,” Allan Kieta said. “I’ve wrestled all my life. My dad’s a Marine; he taught me some stuff. You’re thinking in your head all this survival stuff.”

An Indianapolis police official called it one of the most incredible tales of citizen self-defense that he’s heard in years.

“It’s pretty remarkable for anyone that’s blind to be able to defend themselves, let alone make an apprehension,” Lt. Jeff Duhamell said. “To be able to grab this guy and hold him down until police got there is pretty remarkable.”

Kieta is typically at work on Mondays but had taken the day off from his job with the federal government. So he was home when a man entered his Eastside residence in the 3100 block of Richardt Avenue about 9 a.m.

“We have a little poodle-like dog. It was barking and barking,” Kieta said. “I opened the door and just ran into him.”

Kieta, 49, who is legally blind, said he was the Kentucky high school wrestling champ for the 145-pound division in 1976. He used his skills and other self-defense tactics learned from his father to subdue the intruder.

“I had him pinned in the laundry room and just kept pummeling,” Kieta said, describing the pounding he gave the 25-year-old arrested by police.

Kieta punched, kicked and grappled until the suspect became disoriented. Kieta said he grabbed him by the belt and dragged him into the kitchen. Kieta then found a kitchen knife and held it at the man’s throat.

Kieta fumbled to dial 911 with his other hand.

“Being visually impaired, I couldn’t get the buttons because I was using my left hand,” he said. “It took me about 20 tries.”

Police arrived minutes after dispatchers received the call at 9:47 a.m.

Alvaro Castro, 25, was arrested on an initial charge of residential entry, Sgt. Matthew Mount said. Police say Castro denied trying to burglarize the home. He said he was the ex-boyfriend of Kieta’s 18-year-old daughter and said he was trying to visit her when he ran into her father, Mount said.

Kieta said Castro also told him he was looking for his cat.

“I go, ’Your cat? You’re in my house!”’ Kieta recalled.

Castro was held at Wishard Memorial Hospital's secure detention facility, then transferred to the Marion County Jail late Monday night.

Kieta said he suffered swollen hands and a sore back, but no serious injuries.

“When my wife was cleaning the blood off, she said ‘I think it’s all his,’.” Kieta said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
23288  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Why Now on: April 25, 2008, 10:30:46 AM
April 25, 2008
The Bush administration briefed the U.S. Congress on Thursday about the reasons behind the Sept. 6, 2007, Israeli raid on Syria. According to the secret briefing — the content of which, of course, not only was leaked immediately (as was intended) but was essentially confirmed by a White House spokeswoman — the target was a nuclear reactor, able to produce plutonium, that had been built with the assistance of North Korea. The administration showed a videotape, apparently produced by Israeli intelligence, showing faces that were said to be in the facility and to be clearly Korean.

What is important to note is this information is not new. It is a confirmation of the story leaked by the administration shortly after the attack and also leaked by the Israelis a bit later. The explanation for the attack was that it was designed to take out a reactor in Syria that had been built with North Korean help. There are therefore three questions. First, why did the United States go to such lengths to reveal what it has been saying privately for months? Second, why did the administration do it now? Third, why is the United States explaining an Israeli raid using, at least in part, material provided by Israel? Why isn’t Israel making the revelation?

It has never been clear to us why the Israelis and Americans didn’t immediately announce that the Syrians were building a nuclear reactor. Given American hostility toward Syria over support for jihadists in Iraq, we would have thought that they would have announced it instantly. The explanation we thought most plausible at the time was that the intelligence came from the North Koreans in the course of discussions of their nuclear technology, and since the North Koreans were cooperating, the United States didn’t want to publicly embarrass them. It was the best we could come up with.

The announcement on Thursday seems to debunk that theory, at least to the extent that the primary material displayed was U.S. satellite information and the Israeli video, which was said to have been used to convince the United States of the existence of the reactor and of North Korean involvement. So why didn’t the administration condemn Syria and North Korea on September 7? It still seems to us that part of the explanation is in the state of talks with North Korea over its own program. The North Koreans had said that they would provide technical information on their program — which they haven’t done. Either the United States lost its motivation to protect North Korean feelings because of this or the Bush administration felt that Thursday’s briefings would somehow bring pressure to bear on North Korea. Unless the United States is planning to use these revelations as justification for attacks on the North Koreans, we find it difficult to see how this increases pressure on them.

More interesting is the question of why the United States — and not Israel — is briefing on an Israeli raid. Israeli media reported April 23 that the Israelis had asked the Americans not to brief Congress. The reason given was that the Israelis did not want the United States to embarrass Syria at this point. As we noted on April 23, there appeared to have been some interesting diplomatic moves between Syria and Israel, and it made sense that revealing this information now might increase friction.

If this read is true, then it would appear that the United States briefed deliberately against Israeli wishes. Certainly, the Israelis didn’t participate in the process. One answer could be that the United States is unhappy about Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s moves on Syria and wants to derail them. The United States wanted Syria out of Lebanon. The Israelis have a more complex view of their presence. In some ways, they see the Syrians as a stabilizing force. And they certainly aren’t eager to see Bashar al Assad’s government fall, since whatever might replace the al Assad government would probably be worse from the Israeli point of view. That would mean that the Israelis would want to take out the reactor, but not necessarily rub the Syrians’ nose in it.

So there are two plausible answers to today’s show. One is to increase pressure on North Korea. The second is to derail any Israeli-Syrian peace process. The problem is that it’s hard to see why North Korea is going to be moved by the official declaration of what Washington has been saying from the beginning. The second is hard to believe because it would assume that U.S.-Israeli relations had deteriorated to the point that the United States had to use this as a lever. That’s tough to believe.

The senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Peter Hoekstra, said after the briefing, “This administration has no credibility on North Korea. A lot of us are beginning to become concerned that the administration is moving away from getting a solid policy solution to ‘let’s make a deal.’”

So that seems to undermine the prep for strike theory. That leaves tension between the United States and Israel as the last standing theory. Not a good theory, but the last standing one.
23289  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Clinton Foundation Secrets on: April 25, 2008, 10:26:55 AM
Clinton Foundation Secrets
April 25, 2008; Page A14
WSJ

Transparency is a popular word in this presidential election, with all three candidates finally having released their tax returns. Yet the public still hasn't seen the records of an institution with some of the biggest potential for special-interest mischief: The William J. Clinton Foundation.

Bill Clinton established that body in 1997 while still President. It has since raised half-a-billion dollars, which has been spent on Mr. Clinton's presidential library in Arkansas and global philanthropic initiatives. The mystery remains its donors, and whether these contributors might one day seek to call in their chits with a President Hillary Clinton.

 
That's no small matter given the former first couple's history. Yet Mr. Clinton says he won't violate the "privacy" of donors by disclosing their names, even if his wife wins the Oval Office. What is already in the public record should make that secrecy untenable, however:

Chicago bankruptcy lawyer William Brandt Jr. pledged $1 million for the Clinton library in May 1999, at the same time the Justice Department was investigating whether he'd lied about a Clinton fundraising event. The Clinton DOJ cleared him a few months later.

Loral Space and Communications then-CEO, Bernard Schwartz, committed to $1 million in 2000, at the same time the firm was being investigated for improperly sending technology to China. Loral agreed to a $14 million fine during the Bush Administration.

A major investor in cellular firm NextWave – Bay Harbour Management – pledged $1 million in 1999, when NextWave was waiting to see if the Clinton FCC would allow it to keep its cellular licenses. NextWave didn't immediately get its licenses, and Bay Harbour never made good on its pledge.

And let's not forget the $450,000 contribution from Denise Rich, which was followed by Mr. Clinton's pardon of her fugitive husband, Marc Rich.

American citizens are limited to donating $2,300 to presidential candidates, but there are no limits on gifts to presidential foundations. We don't think there should be limits, but without disclosure the potential for political conflicts, real or apparent, is extensive. Were it not for some enterprising journalism by the New York Sun in 2004, for example, we might not know that notorious trial lawyer William Lerach had made a donation to Mr. Clinton's foundation. Lerach has since been indicted for, and pled guilty to, fraud. Would the Clinton Administration have pursued a similar fraud case?

Presidential candidates also aren't allowed to accept campaign checks from foreigners, but, again, no such restrictions apply to foundations. We know that donations to the Clinton Foundation have come from the Saudi royal family, the king of Morocco, and the governments of Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE and Brunei. Wealthy Middle Eastern businessmen have also given big.

Mr. Clinton has also accepted money from a Chinese Internet company, Alibaba, which aids the Beijing government in censoring the Web. Most recently, one of Alibaba's Chinese homepages posted a "most wanted" list of Tibetan rioters, with pictures and a phone number for informants to call. Mrs. Clinton has condemned the Chinese crackdown on Tibet, but her husband notably hasn't returned the Alibaba money.

No doubt all of these donors would say they gave their money without a single string attached, and Mr. Clinton rightly points out that other former Presidents keep their library donors under wraps. If Mr. Clinton were merely a former President building a library for history's sake, we might not worry. But he is a potential first husband whose spouse could influence countless decisions, foreign and domestic.

Mr. Clinton seems to understand the value of his mere association. Consider his relationship with Canadian financier Frank Giustra, who took Mr. Clinton on a trip to Kazakhstan in 2005, won a Kazakh mining concession, and then committed to donate more than $130 million to the Clinton Foundation. In a letter we recently published, Mr. Giustra insists his gift was entirely philanthropic and that he won the Kazakh concession on the merits.

More recently, we've also learned Mr. Clinton arranged for Mr. Giustra to meet with Colombian President Álvaro Uribe. A Canadian company that Mr. Giustra's firm was advising later acquired interests in Colombian oil fields. Some of the money Mr. Giustra has given the Clinton Foundation has been earmarked for development projects in Colombia.

How many favors has Mr. Clinton done for foreign donors? There's no way of knowing. The former President insists he's aware of no conflicts. Notably, however, donations to the Clinton Foundation soared as Mrs. Clinton neared a presidential run – to $135 million in 2006, 70% more than the year before. Somebody seems to think there is value in being generous to the Clintons.

Mrs. Clinton says the foundation is her husband's business, not hers. But as she has said in the past, a Clinton Presidency is two for the price of one. Americans deserve to know who has been donating to the Clinton Foundation.

23290  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Carter is a pathetic joke, and a joke on: April 25, 2008, 10:24:16 AM
The Sad End of Jimmy Carter
By BERNARD-HENRI LÉVY
April 25, 2008; Page A15

The problem is not that he is, or is not, talking to the Syrians – everyone does it to some degree.

It isn't that he went to Damascus to meet with the exiled head of Hamas – everyone, including the Israelis, will one day have to do that too, in accordance with that old rule which says that in the end it is with your enemies not your friends that you have to come to an understanding and make peace.

No.

The problem is how Jimmy Carter went about it.

The problem is the spectacular and useless embrace he exchanged with the senior Hamas dignitary, Nasser Shaer, in Ramallah.

 
Getty Images 
Jimmy Carter at the tomb of Yasser Arafat.
The problem is the wreath he laid piously at the grave of Yasser Arafat, who, as Mr. Carter knows better than anyone else, was a real obstacle to peace.

It is that in Cairo, if we are to believe another Hamas leader, Mahmoud Zahar, whose statement has so far not been denied, Mr. Carter apparently described Hamas as a "national liberation movement" – this party which has made a cult of death, a mythology of blood and race, and an anti-Semitism along the lines of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion into the linchpin of its ideology.

The problem is also the formidable nose thumbing he got from Hamas's exiled leader, Khaled Mashaal, who, at the very moment he was receiving Mr. Carter, also triggered the first car bombing in several months in Keren Shalom on the Gaza strip – and that this event elicited from poor Mr. Carter, all tangled up in his small-time mediator calculations, not one disapproving or empathetic word.

The former president, it will be recalled, is an old hand at this sort of thing.

Going off track like this is not new for the man who 30 years ago was one of the architects of peace with Egypt, but who since then has not stopped vilifying Israel, comparing its political system to that of South Africa during apartheid, ignoring Israel's desire for peace, which is no less real than its errors, even denying its suffering.

A year ago, he told CBS that for years his beloved Hamas had not committed any terrorist attacks resulting in civilian casualties – this, a few months after the assassination of six people at the Karni Terminal, and the attack on Aug. 30, 2004, which killed 16 passengers in two buses in Beersheba.

And it is one thing to speak to CBS, and another to say these words, which are unofficial but have indisputable moral authority, to the belligerents.

It is one thing to say, in Dublin on June 19, 2007, that the true criminals are not those who proclaim, like Mashaal, that "before dying" Israel must be "humiliated and degraded," but those who would prefer that these charming characters be pushed out of the circles of power, sooner or later, with a distinct preference for "sooner." It is quite another to come over in person and put all one's weight behind the most radical elements, those who are the most hostile to peace, the most profoundly nihilistic in the Palestinian camp.

The truth is, if one wished to discredit the other side, to fully humiliate and ridicule the only Palestinian leader (Mahmoud Abbas) who at the risk of his life continues to believe in the solution of two states – if with a word one wanted to ruin the last dreams of men and women of goodwill who still believe in peace – one would be absolutely on the right track.

So what happened to this man, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate?

Is it the vanity of someone who is no longer so important, who wants a last 15 minutes in the spotlight before he has to leave the stage forever?

Is it the senility of a politician who has lost touch with reality and with his own party? Barack Obama, even more clearly than his rival, has just reminded us that it will not be possible to "sit down" with the leaders of Hamas unless they are prepared to "renounce terrorism, recognize Israel's right to exist, and respect past agreements."

Could he be suffering from a variant of self-hatred, or in this case a hatred of his own past as the Great Peacemaker?

All hypotheses are permitted. Whatever the reason, Mr. Carter has demonstrated an unusual capacity to transform a political error into a disastrous moral mistake.

Mr. Levy's new book, "Left in Dark Times: A Stand against the New Barbarism," will be published by Random House in September. This essay was translated from the French by Sara Sugihara.


The President of Iran was wondering whom to invade when his telephone
rang.

"This is Mendel in Tel Aviv. We're officially declaring war on you!"
"How big is your army?" the president asked.
"There's me, my cousin Moishe, and our pinochle team!"

"I have a million in my army," said the president.
"I'll call back!" said Mendel.

The next day he called.

"The war's still on! We have now a bulldozer, Goldblatt's tractor plus
the canasta team!"

"I have 16,000 tanks, and my army is now two million."
"Oy gevalt!", said Mendel. "I'll call back."

He phoned the next day.

"We're calling off the war"
"Why?"

"Well," said Mendel, "we had a little chat, and there's no way we can
feed two million prisoners."

23291  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington: Letter to Hebrew Congregation on: April 25, 2008, 10:15:23 AM

"The citizens of the United States of America have the right to
applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an
enlarged and liberal policy worthy of imitation. All possess
alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It
is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were by
the indulgence of one class of citizens that another enjoyed
the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for happily
the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no
sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they
who live under its protection should demean themselves as good
citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support."

-- George Washington (letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport,
Rhode Island, 9 September 1790)

Reference: Our Sacred Honor, Bennett (330)
23292  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: April 24, 2008, 12:20:27 PM
Hillary Math

We keep hearing that Barack Obama leads Hillary Clinton in both the number of elected delegates and the total popular vote cast in primaries and caucuses. But Mrs. Clinton herself makes the argument that she now leads in popular votes in the wake of her 10-point win in Pennsylvania.

It all depends on how you do the counting. Barack Obama's campaign says Mr. Obama has won 14.4 million votes compared to 13.9 million for Mrs. Clinton, a 49% to 47% lead. But yesterday in Indianapolis, Mrs. Clinton hauled out her New Math.

"As of today, I have received more votes by the people who have voted than anybody else, and I am proud of that," she told a rally. "It's a very close race, but if you count, as I count, the 2.3 million people who voted in Michigan and Florida, then we are going to build on that." Indeed, if you count the Florida and Michigan results, she leads Mr. Obama by 15.1 million votes to 15. million.

The status of the rogue Michigan and Florida primaries continues to bedevil Democrats. Delegates from both states have been stripped of their votes at the Denver convention because their state parties held primaries too early. In Florida, no one campaigned and Mrs. Clinton won a 50% to 33% victory. In Michigan, Mr. Obama's name didn't appear on the ballot and Mrs. Clinton won 55% of the vote. An uncommitted slate of delegates favoring Mr. Obama won 40% of the vote.

Mr. Obama didn't put up a big fuss about Mrs. Clinton's numbers. "I guess there have been a number of different formulations that the Clinton campaign has been trying to arrive at to suggest that somehow they're not behind," he told reporters on Wednesday. "I'll leave that up to you guys. If you want to count [Florida and Michigan] for some abstract measure, you're free to do so." His point was simple: He has more delegates and that's what will count in choosing the nominee.

But at least until Indiana and North Carolina vote in two weeks, Mrs. Clinton has a new rhetorical talking point to make with voters and superdelegates -- if you count every vote cast so far in a recognized or unrecognized primary, she is the temporary leader.

-- John Fund

Big Labor Bada Bing

And the Oscar for best performance in a humorous political ad goes to... Vince Curatola, better known as "Johnny Sack" in the Sopranos, for a new ad about unfair union organizing.

Big Labor has been desperate to replace the system of secret ballots in union-organizing elections with a "card check" method, in which a majority of employees would simply have to sign a card. The Democratic House passed a "card check" bill last year at union bidding, but polls shows a majority of the public hates the idea, recognizing that workers would be subject to intimidation and peer pressure.

In the ad, created by the business-backed Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, a worker walks into a voting booth to cast a ballot. A hand suddenly clamps him on the shoulder and "Johnny Sack" appears in the booth, looking as mobsterish as ever. "Whaddya got there?" he asks. My "secret ballot" replies the worker. "Not any more it ain't," says Mr. Curatola, who snaps his fingers to make the curtains disappear, leaving the man in front of a crowd of intimidating colleagues pressuring him to sign a card.

The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace is made up of about 500 business associations and groups across the country fighting card check legislation. It will soon start running the educational ad on national cable stations, and will presumably tailor it for districts of specific Democratic House members who last year voted to get rid of the secret ballot. As for Mr. Curatola, word is he's simply a paid actor, and takes no public stand on card check one way or another. But his menacing mob face is sure to stick in voters' minds come November.


--Kim Strassel

The Pope of California

Arnold Schwarzenegger once did a movie called "Twins." Now he's become so close to his bicoastal buddy, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, they might as well do a political sequel to that film.

The California governor was in New York last week for a round of fundraisers for his ballot initiative that would change the way state legislative lines are drawn in California. Mayor Bloomberg rolled out the red carpet, donating $250,000 to the cause and opening his Upper East Side home for a fundraiser.

Governor Schwarzenegger was in good form at the event, saying that the mayor had at first "pumped him up" at a luncheon earlier in the day by telling a crowd that "we have an important guest in town who speaks with a German accent, has millions of people who hang on his every word and is infallible." Then Mr. Schwarzenegger paused dramatically and delivered the punch line: "You can imagine how I was deflated when he explained it was the Pope!"

Then it was down to the serious business of explaining his proposal to end the conflict of interest that allows California legislators to draw their own districts. Noting that the lines are so carefully designed to protect incumbents that not a single state legislator was defeated in the 2004 or 2006 elections, the governor told the audience: "They just had an election in Russia in which only the people Putin wanted elected won. Well, sometimes I think the legislators back in California have gone Putin one better in making sure the people have no say."

Assuming his initiative collects the required signatures, Mr. Schwarzenegger's ballot measure will appear before voters in November.

-- John Fund

Canadian Tiger

Democratic Members of Congress look yearningly to Canada as a model for all kinds of things. They might do well to adopt the Canadian model of tax policy.

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was in New York yesterday to give a speech touting the economic achievements of the relatively new government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He stopped by the Journal offices to give a preview. Since coming to office two years ago, Mr. Flaherty told us, the Harper government has succeeded in steadily whacking down the corporate income tax to 18% from 22%, and is headed for 15% by 2012. Aiming for a total tax burden or no more than 25%, Ottawa has also been pushing the provinces to cut their own taxes on business profits. Ontario (Canada's Taxachusetts) has been a notable holdout and some in the Canadian press even accused Mr. Flaherty yesterday of leaving Ontario out of his sales pitch to U.S. investors. Mr. Flaherty joked in return that he was "gently prodding [Provincial] Premier [Dalton] McGuinty in my own subtle way to reduce business taxes."

Canada's cuts come none too soon. Business tax-cutting has been a global phenomenon, with the OECD countries now averaging less than 27%, down from 38% in 1993 (the U.S. average is 40%). It's also of a piece with the Harper government's broader pro-growth agenda, which includes free trade deals with Colombia, Peru and South Korea and work to speed up transit of goods at the Windsor-Detroit border crossing.

What about Nafta? Canada believes Nafta "is working well," said Mr. Flaherty, but he also noted that Canada exports a great deal of oil to the U.S., so Canada would have no shortage of bargaining leverage if the trade pact were opened for renegotiation as threatened on the campaign trail by the two Democratic presidential contenders.
23293  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: April 24, 2008, 10:01:13 AM
Definitely a hit piece, but interesting nonetheless; another example of unsavory support for BO.

http://www.frontpagemagazine.com/Art...6-765A3D7EDCD7

Terrorist Fundraisers for Obama By Patrick Poole
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Two years ago, Hatem El-Hady was the chairman of the Toledo, Ohio-based Islamic charity, Kindhearts, which was closed by the US government in February 2006 for terrorist fundraising and all its assets frozen. Today, El-Hady has redirected his fundraising efforts for his newest cause - Barack Obama for President.

El-Hady has his own dedicated page on Barack Obama's official website, chronicling his fundraising on behalf of the Democratic Party presidential candidate (his Obama profile established on February 19, 2008 - two years to the day after Kindhearts was raided by the feds). Not only that, but he has none other than Barack Obama's wife, Michelle Obama, listed as one of his friends (one of her 224 listed friends).
But his leadership of Kindhearts is not the only thing that has brought him scrutiny by federal law enforcement officials. Last summer, El-Hady was questioned by the FBI concerning his knowledge of possible conspirators in a UK-based terror plot.

Hatem El-Hady's interest in "change" is understandable. Following the closure of Kindhearts, he said in response to the government's closure of his organization:
"It's dirty politics," said Dr. Hatem Elhady, chairman of the board of KindHearts, which raised $5.1 million in 2004. "They do not like the way things are going in Palestine. They do not like the election results. But that is not our problem. Our problem is providing aid to people in desperate need of help."
The Department of Justice had a very different version of events. According to the DOJ, Kindhearts assumed the role of lead terrorist fundraising in the US after the government had closed other such Islamic "charities":
"KindHearts is the progeny of Holy Land Foundation and Global Relief Foundation, which attempted to mask their support for terrorism behind the façade of charitable giving," said Stuart Levey, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
Not only was Kindhearts engaged in providing funds for HAMAS in Lebanon and the West Bank, it had hired as a fundraising specialist the man identified as the designated HAMAS bag man in the US, Mohammed El-Mezain.

And as investigative reporter Joe Kaufman revealed, "The Black Hearts of Kindhearts", a number of other Kindhearts officials were tied to terrorist fundraising and support:
KindHearts’ Director of Domestic Programs, Khalifah Ramadan. Ramadan was a training and evaluation consultant for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), two large Muslim organizations based in the United States that have links to overseas terror groups.
KindHearts’ Representaive, Omar Shahin. Shahin was an Imam for the Islamic Center of Tucson (ICT), the former home of numerous terror operatives, including Wael Jelaidan, who later helped found Al-Qaeda.
KindHearts’ Representative, Wagdy Ghuneim. Ghuneim, an Egyptian cleric, has been featured in KindHearts fundraising dinners for 2002, 2003 and 2004. During a rally at Brooklyn College, in May of 1998, Ghuneim attempted to persuade the crowd to support violent jihad and labeled Jews as “descendants of the apes.”
KindHearts’ Representative, Hatem Bazian. Bazian is an Islamic Studies instructor and a member of the faculty of Near Eastern Studies at UC Berkley. In April of 2004, during a San Francisco anti-war rally, Bazian, a native Palestinian, called for an “intifada” against the United States. This was just two months prior to Bazian being featured in a KindHearts Fundraising Dinner, entitled ‘Palestinians in agony!’
KindHearts’ Manager in Lebanon, Haytham Maghawri (a.k.a. Haytham Fawri). Maghawri, the past Social Services Director for HLF, according to the Treasury Department, “collected [KindHearts] funds and sent them to Hamas and other Salafi groups.” [One of the recipients of KindHearts funding was Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) Usama Hamdan, a leader of Hamas in Lebanon.]
And two months before Kindhearts closure by the US government, Beila Rabinowitz had revealed that the South Asia Division Coordinator for Kindhearts, Zulfiqar Ali Shah, had known ties to al-Qaeda, even conducting a 10-day tour with officials for the Tablighi Jamaat organization, which the New York Times had described as "a springboard for militancy" and a "recruitment" center for Al-Qaeda.

Barack Obama has promised change. And as indicated by the public support that his candidacy has received by accused terrorist fundraiser Hatem El-Hady, Obama's version of change that terrorists and their US supporters can believe in.
__________________
23294  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Syria and Israel hint at Peace Talks on: April 24, 2008, 08:20:56 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Syria and Israel Hint at Peace Talks
April 24, 2008
The morning of April 21, we woke up to a report in the Syrian media saying that Israel had agreed to hand the Golan Heights back to Syria in exchange for a peace agreement. The Syrian story was reported in the Israeli media, with no comment from the Olmert government, although several Israeli politicians vigorously condemned the idea. Since Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was reported to be on vacation, we figured there was a time delay and settled back waiting for the Israeli government to deny the Syrian report.

That’s when it became interesting. Rather than denying the report, Olmert’s spokesman Mark Regev said, “I have nothing to add beyond what the prime minister said on Friday in his interviews with the Israeli press about his desire for peace with Syria.” Olmert had said, “Very clearly we want peace with the Syrians and are taking all manner of action to this end. President Bashar al-Assad knows precisely what our expectations are and we know his. I won’t say more.”

Today, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem held a press conference in Tehran, of all places, along with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. Al-Moallem said there that “if Israel is serious and wants peace, nothing will stop the renewal of peace talks.” Another Syrian minister, speaking on Al Jazeera at about the same time, said that “Olmert is ready for peace with Syria on the grounds of international conditions; on the grounds of the return of the Golan Heights in full to Syria.”

So now we have the Syrian foreign minister offering peace talks with the Israelis while standing next to the Iranian foreign minister, who apparently did not go into cardiac arrest; another Syrian minister confirming this and implying that the quid pro quo for peace is the Golan Heights; and the Israeli prime minister’s office refusing to deny these reports while referring back to a statement made by the prime minister in which he said that Israel wants peace with the Syrians and both sides know what the terms are.

This is not quite the same thing as saying that a deal has been made. What it is saying is that the terms of such a deal are clearly understood by both sides and that neither side is walking away from the table, which means that the terms are at least in the ball park — so much so from the Syrian side that it was worth going to Tehran to talk about it with the Iranians, and apparently the Iranians did not back away from Syria. That means that the Syrians not only have their ally on board, but are signaling the Israelis that the ally — Iran — can live with the terms, which of course opens other vistas.

The talk today has focused on the Golan Heights, at least as far as the Syrians are concerned. From the Israeli point of view, the Heights are not nearly as militarily critical as they once might have appeared. While holding the Heights — which, unlike Gaza, are fairly lightly populated — the Syrians fired artillery at Israeli settlements. That was a problem, but not a strategic threat. Holding the Golan Heights did pose a challenge to the Israelis. In the 1973 War, the Israelis had to fight with their backs to the Golan escarpment in order to block the Syrians. Had the Syrians held the Heights, and the Israelis were in the hills on the other side of the Jordan River, the strategic situation would have been different. The Syrians could not have taken the Israelis by surprise, and the armor descending the Heights would have been in the killing ground for Israeli armor, artillery and missiles as they descended. Moreover, in today’s military environment, conventional artillery is vulnerable to everything from cruise missiles to helicopters firing Hellfire missiles and to computerized counter-battery fire. Whatever the argument was for taking the Heights in 1967, the military situation has evolved since then.

It is therefore not inconceivable that Olmert would trade the Golan Heights for a peace treaty. But the real issue between Israel and Syria isn’t the Golan Heights. The issue is Lebanon. Syria’s fundamental interest is to the west, where it has strategic and economic interests. It wants to be the dominant power in Lebanon. Israel also has deep interests in Lebanon, which are primarily defensive. It does not want Lebanon used — primarily by Hezbollah at this point — as a base from which to attack Israel. Israel and Syria had an informal understanding after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon that Syria would have a free hand there and would be expected to control Hezbollah. There is a basis for understanding here as well — one which would leave many Lebanese in a difficult position, but might satisfy Israeli and Syrian interests.

But before that comes the domestic battle in Israel. There are powerful forces that would argue that one, the Golan is much more significant militarily than we have portrayed it; two, allowing Syria to dominate Lebanon gives Damascus another axis from which to attack Israel later; and three, Israel would find a Syrian-Iranian force to their north over the next generation. These are not trivial arguments and can be reinforced by the Tehran press conference, which signaled that the Syrians are not acting independently of the Iranians.

At the same time, Olmert will argue that peace is worth the risk and point to Egypt as an example. The argument will go on, but now at least we are seeing where the various odd events of the past few weeks were leading — and it is not clear that it cannot end in war. If this falls apart, as it well might, the situation could rapidly spiral out of control as both countries start to maneuver in Lebanon.

All of this is fascinating, but what stands out is the fact that the Iranians have signaled that they can live with a deal with Israel. In the long run, the implications of that are the most interesting.
23295  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Plutonium on the Euphrates on: April 24, 2008, 08:04:53 AM

   
REVIEW & OUTLOOK 


 
Plutonium on the Euphrates
April 24, 2008; Page A12
What really happened in the Syrian desert near the Euphrates River on the night of September 6, 2007? The Bush Administration is finally due to answer that question today when it briefs Members of Congress. We've been hearing, and the press is now reporting, that the Administration will confirm that Israel bombed what the U.S. believes was a nascent plutonium-producing nuclear reactor being built with North Korea's assistance.

Everyone who has looked at the incident has suspected as much, despite official refusals to talk about it. But the Administration's acknowledgment of it, even in classified briefings, makes its current stance toward North Korea seem odder than ever.

The State Department has already given up on holding North Korea to its promise to disclose all of its nuclear activities. But now it appears that Foggy Bottom and President Bush are prepared to forgive North Korea for telling what the U.S. now agrees were lies about the North's nuclear proliferation to a Middle Eastern autocrat who is an enemy of America. At the same time, Bush Administration officials are saying that it is good policy to trust Kim Jong Il's declarations on his stockpiles of plutonium.

So: Israel had to risk war with Syria to destroy a nuclear facility built with the help of lying North Koreans. But no worries, the U.S. says it can still trust North Korea to tell the truth about its current programs. This makes us wonder if the unofficial U.S. nonproliferation policy is to have Israel bomb every plutonium facility that the North Koreans decide to sell.

If a Democratic President were pursuing the Bush Administration's North Korean diplomacy, Republicans would hoot him out of town. Mr. Bush should beware of diplomats dangling "legacies" before him. Otherwise, his real legacy on North Korea may be turning nuclear nonproliferation into a global farce.
 
23296  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: East Europe supports Ukraine and Georgia for NATO on: April 24, 2008, 08:01:32 AM
Eastern Solidarity
FROM TODAY'S WALL STREET JOURNAL EUROPE
April 24, 2008

The "new Europeans," although safely ensconced in NATO and the EU, aren't turning their backs on countries still stranded in a security and political limbo farther east. If only their moral clarity were infectious.

Yesterday in Prague, the Visegrád Group – Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia – said that Ukraine and Georgia should be put on a track toward NATO membership at the earliest opportunity. At the NATO summit in Bucharest earlier this month, Germany, along with a few other "old Europeans," scotched a U.S.-led effort to give these two countries "membership action plans." The Alliance is supposed to revisit the issue by year's end. The Visegrád foreign ministers also endorsed Ukraine's bid to join the EU; Brussels can't bear the thought.

Meanwhile, also yesterday, Lithuania threatened to block the launch of EU-Russia trade talks. The Lithuanians are concerned about growing Russian pressure on Georgia. The veto threat serves as a useful reminder that Russia can pay a price for bad behavior.

The warning is apt, too. The go-slow-on-NATO decision in Bucharest, a blow to Georgia's pro-Western government, emboldened the Kremlin. President Vladimir Putin last week moved to upgrade ties with Georgia's two breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This could be a prelude to Russian annexation, formal separation or possible war. Russia has similarly asserted its right to veto Ukraine's ambitions to leave its orbit for good.

German, French and Italian politicians have a sorry record of willingness to indulge the Putin Kremlin. Yet thanks to the post-Cold War enlargements of NATO, the U.S. isn't alone in championing the right of European democracies freely to choose which friends to keep and alliances to join.
23297  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ:Dems have a nominee; Karl Rove on: April 24, 2008, 07:51:48 AM
Like Karl Rove below, I'm not sure I agree that it is a lock, but the point about the implications of Nunn and Boren is worth noting.
==========

The Democrats Have a Nominee
April 24, 2008; Page A11
So what?

Other than ensuring the Greatest Show on Earth will continue, does it matter that Hillary Clinton defeated Barack Obama Tuesday in Pennsylvania by nine-plus points? Barack Obama is the nominee.

No matter how many kicks the rest of us find in such famously fun primary states as Indiana and South Dakota, it's going to be McCain versus Obama in 2008.

I believe the cement set around the Clinton coffin last Friday. The Obama campaign announced it had received the support of former Sens. Sam Nunn of North Carolina and David Boren of Oklahoma.

 
Wonder Land columnist Dan Henninger says despite her primary win in Pennsylvania, it's over for Hillary. (April 23)
Both are what some of us nostalgically call Serious Democrats. They represent what the party was, but is no more: sensible on national security, spending and middle-class values. Obama receiving their imprimatur is like hands reaching out from the graves of FDR, JFK and LBJ to announce: "Enough is enough. This man is your nominee. Go forth and fight with the Republicans." Make no mistake: Superdelegates with sway took notice.

Former Sen. Nunn is sometimes mentioned as a possible running mate for Sen. Obama. In a better world, Sam Nunn (or a David Boren) would have been the party's candidate for president. Such candidacies remain impossible under the iron law of Democratic primary politics: No centrist can secure the party's nomination in a primary system dominated by left-liberal activists. The iron law produces candidacies such as McGovern (1972), Mondale ('84), Dukakis ('88), Gore ('00) or Kerry ('04), who pay so many left-liberal obeisances to win in the primaries that they cannot attract sufficient moderates at the margins to win the general election.

Bill Clinton, who broke that law twice, knows all this. His 1996 triangulation campaign dangled welfare reform and spending restraint. It worked.

Hillary Clinton knows all this. In 2005, just after George W. Bush won re-election buoyed by "moral values" voters, Sen. Clinton reached out to them in a January speech: "the primary reason that teenage girls abstain [from sex] is because of their religious and moral values. We should embrace this." By "we" she meant that voters still wedded to middle-class respectability, say in Ohio, should embrace her.

 
AP 
Thanks for the memories. Democrats will opt for a new magician.
She has worked hard as a member of the Armed Services Committee to establish her bona fides with general officers, and some have endorsed her. As well, her hedged, equivocal vote "for" the Iraq War was mainly a centrist investment to cash in fall 2008. (The left won't allow it; see iron law above.)

The 2008 nomination was hers. There was no competition. She was a lock to run for the roses against the Republican nominee. Republicans must have had this conversation a hundred times back then: "It's Hillary. She's got it. Get over it."

Sam Nunn and David Boren by political temperament should be in her camp. Instead, they threw in with Obama, who calls his campaign "post-partisan," a ludicrous phrase. The blowback at ABC's debate makes clear that Obama is the left's man. So what did Messrs. Nunn and Boren see?

The biggest event was the Clinton Abandonment. In a campaign of surprises, none has been more breathtaking than the falling away of Clinton supporters, loyalists . . . and friends. Why?

Money. Barack Obama's mystical pull on people is nice, but nice in modern politics comes after money. Once Barack proved conclusively that he could raise big-time cash, the Clintons' strongest tie to their machine began to unravel. Today he's got $42 million banked. She's got a few million north of nothing.

But it's more than that. Barack Obama's Web-based fund-raising apparatus is, if one may say so, respectable. The Clintons' "donor base" has been something else.

It is hard to overstate how fatigued Democratic donors in Manhattan and L.A. got during the Clinton presidency to have Bill and Hillary fly in, repeatedly, to sweep checking accounts. The Lincoln Bedroom rental was cheesy. Bill's 60th birthday gala (tickets $60,000 to 500K) was a Clinton fund-raiser. The 1996 John Huang-Lippo-China fund-raising scandal pushed Clinton contributors toward a milieu most didn't need in their lives. Hillary's 2007 Norman Hsu fund-raising scandal was an unsettling rerun of what the donor base could expect from another Clinton presidency.

It was all kind of gross, but the Clintons never seemed to see that. When Obama proved he could perform this most basic function in politics, it was a get-out-of-jail-free card for many Democrats. For some, this may be personal. For others, it is likely a belief that the party's interests lie with finding an alternative to the Clinton saga. One guesses this is what Sam Nunn and David Boren concluded.

Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania prove it won't be easy. Barack Obama himself said Tuesday night, "I'm not perfect." He heads to the nomination freighted with all the familiar Democratic tensions that keep a Sam Nunn off the ballot: race and gender obsessions, semipacifism and you bet, bitter white voters. So be it. For modern Democrats, winning the White House always requires some sort of magic to get near 50%. For the Clintons, that bag is empty. The Democrats have a new magician. It's Obama.
=========
Is Obama Ready for Prime Time?
By KARL ROVE
April 24, 2008; Page A13

After being pummeled 55% to 45% in the Pennsylvania primary, Barack Obama was at a loss for explanations. The best he could do was to compliment his supporters in an email saying, "you helped close the gap to a slimmer margin than most thought possible." Then he asked for money.

With $42 million in the bank, money is the least of Sen. Obama's problems. He needs a credible message that convinces Democrats he should be president. In recent days, he's spent too much time proclaiming his inevitable nomination. But they already know he's won more states, votes and delegates.

 
Chad Crowe 
His words wear especially thin when he was dealt a defeat like Tuesday's. Mr. Obama was routed despite outspending Hillary Clinton on television by almost 3-1. While polls in the final days showed a possible 4% or 5% Clinton win, she apparently took late-deciders by a big margin to clinch the landslide.

Where she cobbled together her victory should cause concern in the Obama HQ. She did better – and he worse – than expected in Philadelphia's suburbs. Mrs. Clinton won two of these four affluent suburban counties, home of the white-wine crowd Mr. Obama has depended on for victories before.

In the small town and rural "bitter" precincts, she clobbered him. Mr. Obama's state chair was Sen. Bob Casey, who hails from Lackawanna County in northeast Pennsylvania. She carried that county 74%-25%. In the state's 61 less-populous counties, she won 63% – and by 278,266 votes. Her margin of victory statewide was 208,024 votes.

Mrs. Clinton's problem remains that she's behind in the delegate count, with 1,589 to Mr. Obama's 1,714. Neither candidate will get to the 2,025 needed for nomination with elected delegates. But the Democratic Party's rules of proportionality mean it will be hard to close that margin among the 733 delegates yet to be elected or declared. Mrs. Clinton will need to take 58% of the remaining delegates. Thus far, she's been able to get that or better in just four of the 46 contests.

Her path gets rougher. While Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Puerto Rico are good territory for her, Oregon and Montana may not be. And Mrs. Clinton will be outspent badly. She entered April with $9.3 million in cash, but debts of $10.3 million. Mr. Obama had $42.5 million but only $663,000 in unpaid bills.

In Pennsylvania, Mr. Obama's money could only wipe out half a purported 20% deficit, but the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls shows Mr. Obama behind by 2% in Indiana and ahead in North Carolina by 16%. Those states will vote in two weeks. The financial throw weight he will have in the Hoosier State could more than erase Mrs. Clinton's lead there, while keeping North Carolina solidly in his column. His money could give him a double knockout on May 6, which would effectively end her bid for the presidency.

If she wins Indiana, however, she will surely go forward – and Democrats run the risk of a split decision in June. Mr. Obama could have more delegates, but she could have more popular votes. In fact, on Tuesday night she actually grabbed the popular vote lead: If you include the Michigan and Florida primary results, Mrs. Clinton now leads the popular vote by a slim 113,000 votes out of 29,914,356 cast.

Mr. Obama will argue he wasn't on the ballot in Michigan and didn't campaign in Florida. But don't Democrats want to count all the votes in all the contests? After all, Mr. Obama took his name off the Michigan ballot; it isn't something he was forced to do. And while he didn't campaign in Florida, neither did she.

And what about the Michigan and Florida delegates? By my calculations, she should pick up about 54 delegates on Mr. Obama if they are seated (this assumes the Michigan "uncommitted" delegates go for Mr. Obama). If he is ahead in June by a number similar to his lead today of 125, does he let the two delegations in and make the convention vote even closer? Or does he continue to act as if two states with 41 of the 270 electoral votes needed for the White House don't exist?

The Democratic Party has two weakened candidates. Mrs. Clinton started as a deeply flawed candidate: the palpable and unpleasant sense of entitlement, the absence of a clear and optimistic message, the grating personality impatient to be done with the little people and overly eager for a return to power, real power, the phoniness and the exaggerations. These problems have not diminished over the long months of the contest. They have grown. She started out with the highest negatives of any major candidate in an open race for the presidency and things have only gotten worse.

And what of the reborn Adlai Stevenson? Mr. Obama is befuddled and angry about the national reaction to what are clearly accepted, even commonplace truths in San Francisco and Hyde Park. How could anyone take offense at the observation that people in small-town and rural American are "bitter" and therefore "cling" to their guns and their faith, as well as their xenophobia? Why would anyone raise questions about a public figure who, for only 20 years, attended a church and developed a close personal relationship with its preacher who says AIDS was created by our government as a genocidal tool to be used against people of color, who declared America's chickens came home to roost on 9/11, and wants God to damn America? Mr. Obama has a weakness among blue-collar working class voters for a reason.

His inspiring rhetoric is a potent tool for energizing college students and previously uninvolved African-American voters. But his appeals are based on two aspirational pledges he is increasingly less credible in making.

Mr. Obama's call for postpartisanship looks unconvincing, when he is unable to point to a single important instance in his Senate career when he demonstrated bipartisanship. And his repeated calls to remember Dr. Martin Luther King's "fierce urgency of now" in tackling big issues falls flat as voters discover that he has not provided leadership on any major legislative battle.

Mr. Obama has not been a leader on big causes in Congress. He has been manifestly unwilling to expend his political capital on urgent issues. He has been only an observer, watching the action from a distance, thinking wry and sardonic and cynical thoughts to himself about his colleagues, mildly amused at their too-ing and fro-ing. He has held his energy and talent in reserve for the more important task of advancing his own political career, which means running for president.

But something happened along the way. Voters saw in the Philadelphia debate the responses of a vitamin-deficient Stevenson act-a-like. And in the closing days of the Pennsylvania primary, they saw him alternate between whining about his treatment by Mrs. Clinton and the press, and attacking Sen. John McCain by exaggerating and twisting his words. No one likes a whiner, and his old-style attacks undermine his appeals for postpartisanship.

Mr. Obama is near victory in the Democratic contest, but it is time for him to reset, freshen his message and say something new. His conduct in the last several weeks raises questions about whether, for all his talents, he is ready to be president.

Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.
23298  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kidnappings on: April 24, 2008, 07:37:21 AM
http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20...latchy/2917333

By Franco Ordonez, McClatchy NewspapersTue Apr 22, 3:56 PM ET

JUAREZ, Mexico — Daniel Escobedo was driving to school when he stopped for what he thought was a security check at a roadblock in the Mexican city of Juarez , across the border from El Paso, Texas .
Worried about being late for class, he hurriedly handed his driver's license to the two uniformed men, who he thought were police officers.
Moments later, two dark SUVs screeched to a halt. Armed masked men jumped out and grabbed Escobedo, 21. He spent the next six weeks blindfolded, shuttled between safe houses while a drug-gang leader negotiated a ransom with his father, who's a lawyer. He was beaten, shocked and burned until his rescue April 1 by Mexican soldiers who'd been tipped that drug dealers were using the house.
"For a month and a half, I thought I was going to die," Escobedo said.
He's one of a growing number of kidnapping victims here as Mexico's drug gangs seek new business to replace lucrative drug smuggling, which has become more dangerous as Mexican authorities pursue the largest anti-drug-trafficking effort ever in the country.
Corporate security experts estimate that drug gangs are now responsible for 30 to 50 kidnappings a day in Mexico and that ransoms often run to $300,000 if the victim is returned alive. They often hold several victims at a time. Two other victims were being held with Escobedo.
"The narco-kidnappers are not looking for chump change," said Felix Batista , a Miami -based corporate-security and crisis-management consultant who's negotiated the releases of dozens of kidnapping victims throughout Mexico .
"It's a pretty darn good side business."
The phenomenon is spilling over into the United States . Phoenix police investigated more than 350 kidnappings last year, a 40 percent increase from the year before. Most are tied to crackdowns in Mexico , said Detective Reuben Gonzales of the Phoenix police department.
The rise in kidnapping helped prompt a recent warning from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City about the dangers Americans might face as they travel in Mexico . "Dozens of U.S. citizens were kidnapped and/or murdered in Tijuana in 2007," across from San Diego , according to the advisory, which was issued April 15 . "Public shootouts have occurred during daylight hours near shopping areas."
Mexican officials say the wave of kidnappings is a sign that drug traffickers have been squeezed by President Felipe Calderon's yearlong offensive against smugglers. The president has dispatched 20,000 soldiers around the country to confront what had been growing drug violence that had pushed the number of kidnappings, murders and arms-smuggling cases to record levels.
"Drug trafficking is not producing for them as it did in the past," Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora said last month in Washington . "So they are moving into other crimes, such as extortion, kidnapping, car theft."
However, the rise in kidnappings also shows that Mexico's law enforcement problems go beyond narcotics. Distrust of the police, who may be involved in some of the abductions, and fear that victims will be harmed make kidnapping one of Mexico's most underreported crimes.
Mexican officials say that only a third of kidnappings are reported to police, but corporate experts say it's more like one in 10. A public opinion survey by the Center for Social and Public Opinion Studies , an arm of Mexico's Chamber of Deputies, found that only 52 percent of Mexican citizens "very probably" would report being crime victims.
"People perceive the justice system is not trustworthy," said Eduardo Rojas , the director of the center's public opinion department. "The failure to report is related to the perception of inefficiency, corruption and injustice that exists in the penal justice system."
That means that drug gangs can kidnap almost with impunity.
Escobedo's father, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of concern that the kidnappers would target him next, never reported his son's abduction to police after the kidnappers used the young man's cell phone to contact his father. Via a text message, they demanded $100,000 for the student's release. One message, which Escobedo's father showed to McClatchy , read, "if you love your son a lot, find it in cash."
His father was collecting money from friends and relatives to pay the ransom when he received a call from the military at 5 a.m. on April 1 . The soldiers said they'd found his son, who showed his father scabs on his nose, legs, and arms that documented the torture.
"It was 40 days of suffering," his father recalled. "It was 40 days, believe me, that I couldn't sleep, waiting for the kidnappers to contact me again. . . . It was so many days of terror until my son was returned."
23299  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Demise of the Green Berets? on: April 24, 2008, 07:35:14 AM
http://www.military.com/forums/0,152...l?ESRC=army.nl

Demise of the Green Berets?
Soldier of Fortune | Maj. Gen. James Guest, USA | April 16, 2008
For a glimpse into the future of Special Forces, read the Capstone Concept for Special Operations on the USSOCOM web site. Read through it carefully. Can you find the words "Special Forces" anywhere? Or "Special Forces group?" Can you find "ODA" (operational detachment - alpha)? Or "ODB" (operational detachment - bravo)? Or "Special Forces battalion?"

You can't find these words. We can read that as a strong signal that you won't be able to find Special Forces anywhere before very long. Many other signals suggest that the senior leadership in both United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and Department of the Army (DA) are working to do away with the Green Berets. The generals at USSOCOM and in the Pentagon have been blurring the distinctions between Special Forces and special operations forces (SOF) units (Rangers, JSOC, SEALs, Delta, et al.) for some time. We now see references to "Air Force special forces," "Navy special forces," and "Marine special forces" but we rarely see the term "U. S. Army Special Forces." We do see "Army SOF," which only describes a grouping of forces, not a capability. We do see SF ODAs referred to as "special operations detachments," another sad precursor of the future.

The Capstone Concept for Special Operations being developed for USSOCOM includes the concept "global expeditionary forces," and all indications point to the intent to replace the SF groups with this new concept. The organizational charts are changing, too, and the plans are for these global expeditionary forces to work directly for USSOCOM worldwide in a Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)-like configuration. Although the security assistance force (SAF) concept is a much more streamlined and effective mechanism for utilizing U. S. Army Special Forces-the SAF is regionally oriented and works directly for the combatant commander-it has been discarded. Is USA SF Being Eviscerated?

Is this a ploy to be able to take the ODAs and use them operationally without going through the group headquarters (HQ), including the group Special Forces operating bases (SFOB)? Since 1952, conventional force headquarters have attempted to neutralize Special Forces command and control by treating the group and battalion HQ as non-operational administrative units, the purpose of which is to maintain ODAs in order that conventional units, such as JSOC, can cherry-pick them to use as support for their own missions. Reportedly, SF troops are already under the operational control of JSOC. JSOC is using the Green Berets for JSOC's own ends, whether to gather intelligence for JSOC missions or to carry out "special missions" that, if successful, JSOC can take the credit for. You can imagine who will suck up the blame if such a "special mission" goes south.

How can Special Forces be neutralized in this way? If those who want to do away with the Green Berets are successful, they will need the full support of the senior leadership of the U. S. Army. Will they do away with the Special Forces officer branch? The Special Forces warrant officer branch? The Special Forces NCO career management fields (CMF)? To date, we merely have the unusual spectacle of a relatively small unit (USSOCOM)-however joint they may be-taking control of an entire United States Army branch.

The Army transferred control of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center (SWC) and School from Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) to the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) in 1990. USASOC has since taken the combat developments capability out of SWC and made it a staff section of USASOC HQ. Bear in mind that this office is the heartbeat (perhaps also the brain) of the force developments and requirements process, and therefore has a major, if not controlling voice in all future concept development, acquisitions, organization, and support doctrine for Special Forces. This, in turn, impacts recruitment, promotions, training, and equipping the force; doctrinal studies and publications; and concept developments to support Special Forces. This also impacts U. S. Army psychological operations and civil affairs concepts and developments. Since this power node was moved from SWC to USASOC, SWC is now a pygmy in the lineup of U.S. Army schools. A harbinger of the future is the recent cut of 13 million dollars from the SWC budget.
----------

Marine Specops Intrude
Another indication that SWC's leadership position in the unconventional warfare (UW) arena is disappearing is that on 27 June 2007, the USMC formally activated the Marine Special Operations School. The stated intent of the USMC senior leadership is that it will become "the premier FID [foreign internal defense] and Unconventional Warfare University in the entire SOF community."

Approval from USSOCOM was required for this duplication of effort, as well as for the above-quoted statement. There can be no true duplication for many years, if ever. The culture of the USMC will be even less amenable to the necessities of working with, through, and by indigenous people than the culture of the conventional Army. The Marines are a world-class service and a superb fighting force, but they are new to FID and new to unconventional warfare. Many a harsh lesson awaits them if they are going to try to replace the Green Berets. U. S. Army Special Forces has been increasing in proficiency and experience in counterinsurgency (COIN), FID, UW, and international security assistance missions for more than a half century.
Are the Marines willing to take the slots out of their own hide and form up more than 300 Special Forces-type operational detachments? Why would USSOCOM leaders be willing for the USMC to start this effort from scratch, when time is of the essence? Is USSOCOM willing to hand over U. S. Army Special Forces personnel authorizations to the USMC so they can become the premier FID and UW warriors of the future? Is somebody selling wolf tickets?

Specops Tactics Turned Upside Down
In the USSOCOM Capstone Concept, the TTP for conducting Special Forces operations are turned on their heads. This developing concept speaks in terms of pulling everything back to the continental United States (CONUS) and of deploying JSOC units in the same way as carrier battle groups (CBG) and Marine expeditionary units (MEU), instead of doing what has worked so well for so long for Special Forces. Look on pages 9 and 10 of the Capstone Concept, under "Global Expeditionary Force." While this concept would work for raids and other direct actions (such as JSOC, Rangers, SEALs, and USAF Special Tactics Teams are trained to conduct), if USSOCOM attempts to steal the mission of Special Forces by using this model, they will merely create a "roving gnome," who will soon be calling for backup. In short, the USSOCOM Capstone Concept totally ignores the demonstrated and historically successful Special Forces operational concept of working by, with, and through those we are helping.
As a result of more than fifty years of fine tuning, each Special Forces group now operates in its assigned region. Group HQ deploy joint combined exchange training (JCET) teams to enhance bilateral relations and interoperability with regional nations through military-to-military contact. These U. S. Special Forces JCET teams establish long-term relationships with indigenous personnel. They work to improve regional unit combat skills and observance of humanitarian requirements. They develop trust between host nations and the USA, with a program tailored to meet specific needs as identified by Green Berets on the ground. This capability will disappear with the Green Berets, and no SOF "shock-and awe" can replace it.

Armchair Specops
Compared to the lean organization of Special Forces, the USSOCOM model creates a bureaucracy with too many supervisors for too few workers, with the supervisors far away from the action. Money that would be better spent on the mission will be used for funding extra layers of chair-borne supervisors. Worse, an unwieldy organization will get in the way of accomplishing the mission. The men on the ground have a much better feel for what they need to do and how best to do it, while the top-down bureaucratic rigidity frustrates more than it facilitates.

Will these newly created bureaucratic slots be filled with Special Forces officers and NCOs? What do you think? The conventional officers who have risen to the highest ranks through their connections with JSOC, Delta, the Rangers, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and the SEALs will be in charge. There is only one Special Forces officer (newly promoted) above the rank of major general, so, once again, Special Forces are being decapitated and will be under the ultimate command of those who have never gone through selection and assessment, never attended the SFOC, never served a tour on an ODA, and never served repeated assignments in a SFG(A).
The 2006 version of the USSOCOM Capstone Concept that we can access online does not show the new organizational charts that are presently proposed for the global expeditionary forces in the 2007 Capstone Concept. They are classified, but in the end there may be more than a dozen staff officers and NCOs for every soldier who will be assigned the mission on the ground. Reliable sources state that, even now, there are more than 130 (perhaps as many as 160) U. S. Army E-9s in Army special mission units assigned to JSOC. When that is compared with the 13 to15 E-9s in a Special Forces group, it does tend to raise eyebrows. What are they doing? According to the reports, thirteen of them are packing parachutes.
SOF DVD w/o SF
In April 2007, USSOCOM put out a 20-minute DVD celebrating its twentieth anniversary. Even though Special Forces personnel make up the greatest part of the USSOCOM forces, the U. S. Army Special Forces are never once mentioned in this DVD. Although Special Forces is the oldest force in USSOCOM and has been the USSOCOM workhorse since its inception, not one Green Beret is seen in the montage of photographs.

Colonel Banks is not mentioned in the historical overview, or General Yarborough, or General Healy. There is no reference to Colonel Bull Simons, to Colonel Charlie Beckwith, nor to General Joe Lutz. Yet without these men, the path to the present day in United States "special operations" would be difficult to imagine. Most amazingly, the DVD makes no reference to President John F. Kennedy, who supported the establishment of Special Forces in 1961.

Will Special Forces exist ten or twenty years down the road? What can we do to ensure the continuing existence and contribution of the Green Berets?
It is time to fight again, this time for the preservation of the force. If we do not protest the poor stewardship of the U. S. Army and USSOCOM leaders concerning U. S. Army Special Forces and its unique capability, we will certainly see this capability diminish.
__________________
23300  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson: Every citizen a soldier; Washington on: April 24, 2008, 07:23:56 AM

"Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state."
                                           
                               -Thomas Jefferson

"No country upon earth ever had it more in its power to attain
these blessings than United America.  Wondrously strange, then,
and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect
the means and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed
us to so plainly; I cannot believe it will ever come to pass."

-- George Washington (letter to Benjamin Lincoln, 29 June 1788)

Reference: George Washington: A Collection, W.B. Allen, ed. (403)
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