Dog Brothers Public Forum

HOME | PUBLIC FORUM | MEMBERS FORUM | INSTRUCTORS FORUM | TRIBE FORUM

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
February 12, 2016, 03:55:15 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
92682 Posts in 2301 Topics by 1080 Members
Latest Member: Tedbo
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 ... 466 467 [468] 469 470 ... 717
23351  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: February 26, 2010, 11:26:38 AM
Stratfor

Reports have come out in recent days that more than half of the Afghan Taliban’s leadership has been arrested. However, most of these reports have come from unverifiable sources in the Pakistani government, making these claims dubious. Islamabad has every reason to want to appear supportive of the United States’ goals in Afghanistan while simultaneously positioning itself for control over the country when U.S. forces withdraw.

Analysis

Seven of the 15 members of the so-called Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban’s shadowy apex leadership council based in the Pashtun corridor of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, have been arrested according to a Feb. 24 report in the Christian Science Monitor, a U.S. newspaper, citing unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials. According to this report, in addition to the previously reported arrests of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Maulavi Abdul Kabir and Mullah Muhammad Younis, Mullah Abdul Qayoum Zakir, who oversees the movement’s military affairs, Mullah Muhammad Hassan, Mullah Ahmed Jan Akhunzada and Mullah Abdul Raouf were also arrested.

Only about half of these arrests have thus far been confirmed in any way. But more importantly, the composition of the Quetta Shura is itself a closely guarded secret. Only Pakistan’s Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has the sophisticated and nuanced understanding of the Afghan Taliban to even have a good grasp of the council’s members, so reports from unnamed officials are extremely difficult to verify. No one has a master list of the Afghan Taliban leadership with which to check off individuals.

Even if all these men have indeed been arrested, it is difficult to say whether the Quetta Shura has really been reduced significantly, or — in many cases — if the individuals arrested are actually those they are thought to be. Almost all reports on the details of the arrests cite Pakistani security officials, and there is no way to independently verify them. Islamabad has incentive to show that it is cooperating with the United States, while at the same time reshaping the Afghan Taliban leadership landscape to suit its own long-term purposes.

This most recent leak comes as Pakistan has publicized a string of intelligence coups ranging from the arrest of shadow Taliban governors from northern Afghanistan, to the death of the leader of Lashkar e Jhangvi (LeJ), Qari Zafar and a supporting role in the Iranian arrest of Abdolmalek Rigi, the leader of Jundallah. Many aspects of these reports cannot be verified at this time, and given the lack of corroboration and Pakistan’s interests in manipulating perceptions, there is much to suggest that at least some element of Islamabad is feeding the media for its own purposes.

There is little doubt that there are at least partial truths to this series of reports, and that there have been some significant achievements. Baradar, for example, absolutely appears to be in Pakistani custody and may soon be transferred to a detention facility at Bagram Air Base north of Kabul.

But there are a number of moving parts in the attempts to negotiate with the Taliban — or degrade its capabilities. Pakistan is playing a complex game, and one important question is the extent to which Pakistan is indeed cooperating and coordinating with the United States in a meaningful way, rather than simply making temporary or symbolic gestures. The Pakistanis are deeply skeptical of U.S. support in the long run, and they already are thinking about managing Afghanistan when the United States begins to draw down there in coming years.

However, there is an entire chapter of history to be written before that happens, and Pakistan has every intention of being at the center of any negotiations with the Afghan Taliban, including the talks, the reconciliation process and the implementation of a settlement. A spate of arrests like those of the Quetta Shura members — regardless of whether they actually have been taken out of commission — may indicate that some sort of power play is taking place. But such a development cannot be confirmed presently, and Islamabad has no shortage of reasons to manipulate perceptions.
23352  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / American corporatist state expanding its tentacles on: February 26, 2010, 10:11:28 AM
Plan to Seek Use of U.S. Contracts as a Wage Lever
 
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
Published: February 25, 2010
POTH
The Obama administration is planning to use the government’s enormous buying power to prod private companies to improve wages and benefits for millions of workers, according to White House officials and several interest groups briefed on the plan.



By altering how it awards $500 billion in contracts each year, the government would disqualify more companies with labor, environmental or other violations and give an edge to companies that offer better levels of pay, health coverage, pensions and other benefits, the officials said.

Because nearly one in four workers is employed by companies that have contracts with the federal government, administration officials see the plan as a way to shape social policy and lift more families into the middle class. It would affect contracts like those awarded to make Army uniforms, clean federal buildings and mow lawns at military bases.

Although the details are still being worked out, the outline of the plan is drawing fierce opposition from business groups and Republican lawmakers. They see it as a gift to organized labor and say it would drive up costs for the government in the face of a $1.3 trillion budget deficit.

“I’m suspicious of what the end goals are,” said Ben Brubeck, director of labor and federal procurement for Associated Builders and Contractors, which represents 25,000 construction-related companies. “It’s pretty clear the agenda is to give big labor an advantage in federal contracts.”

Critics also said the policy would put small businesses, many of which do not provide rich benefits, at a disadvantage. Furthermore, government officials would find it difficult to evaluate bidders using the new criteria and to determine whether one company’s compensation package should give it an edge, said Alan L. Chvotkin, executive vice president of the Professional Services Council, a coalition of 340 government contractors.

From his earliest days in office, President Obama has called for an overhaul of government procurement policy, citing the contracting scandals of the previous decade involving cost overruns and no-bid contracts.

“The president made it clear that he is committed to reforming government contracts to save taxpayers money while protecting workers and the environment,” a White House spokesman, Bill Burton, said. “The administration is currently gathering data and examining the best ways to do this.”

Two of Mr. Obama’s allies — John Podesta, the Clinton administration chief of staff who headed the president’s transition team, and Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union — have repeatedly pressed the president to use procurement policy to push up wages and benefits.

In testimony last year to the Office of Management and Budget, Mr. Podesta said that 400,000 workers employed under federal contracts — like cafeteria workers, security guards and landscaping workers at federal buildings — earn less than $22,000 a year, the federal poverty line for a family of four, assuming just one paycheck in a household.

“We have a president who is talking about bringing more people into the middle class,” Mr. Stern said. “The government should expect contractors to obey the law, and at the same time contractors should not be building a poverty economy, but should be trying to build a high-road economy.”

The officials briefed on the plan said it was being developed by officials in the Office of Management and Budget, the White House Office of Legal Counsel, the Treasury, Justice and Labor Departments and the vice president’s Middle Class Task Force.

Even as business groups press the administration for more details, they are denouncing the plan, tentatively named the High Road Procurement Policy.

The Daily Caller, a conservative Web site, reported Feb. 4 that the plan would “heavily favor government contractors that implement policies designed by organized labor.”

Randel K. Johnson, senior vice president for labor at the United States Chamber of Commerce, called the plan a “warmed-over version” of President Bill Clinton’s regulations that sought to bar federal agencies from awarding contracts to companies with a record of breaking labor, environmental or consumer laws. President George W. Bush vacated those regulations soon after taking office.

“We strongly opposed the Clinton blacklist regulations,” Mr. Johnson said, “and this appears worse than that.”

On Feb. 2, Senator Susan Collins of Maine and four other Republican senators sent a letter to Peter R. Orszag, director of the White House budget office, saying, “We are concerned that the imposition of these requirements, during a time of significant economic turmoil in the private sector and tight federal budgets, could have serious, negative consequences, especially for our nation’s small businesses.”

===========

Page 2 of 2)



One signer was Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, who was one of the two main sponsors — the other was Senator Barack Obama — of a bill that sought to increase the transparency and accountability of federal contracting by requiring the government to create a data base of all federal contracts. President Bush signed it into law in 2007.

David Madland, director of the American Workers Project at the Center for American Progress, a liberal research group founded by Mr. Podesta, argues the new policy could lower government costs, instead of raising them.

Many low-wage employees of federal contractors receive Medicaid and food stamps, he said. Citing studies conducted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and by academic researchers, he said that contractors that pay their employees well have greater productivity and reliability, while contractors with a record of labor law violations do shoddier construction work.

“This policy is good for workers, it’s good for taxpayers and it’s good for high-road businesses,” Mr. Madland said.

He said that one study done by the state of Maryland found that after the state began requiring bidders to pay a living wage, the number of bidders per contract rose by a third on average. Some higher-wage companies said they began seeking government bids because the new policy leveled the playing field.

One federal official said the proposed policy would encourage procurement officers to favor companies with better compensation packages only if choosing them did not add substantially to contract costs. As an example, he said, if two companies each bid $10 million for a contract, and one had considerably better wages and pensions than the other, that company would be favored.

Some supporters of the new procurement policy — and even some opponents — say Mr. Obama could impose it through executive order. They assert that the president has broad powers to issue procurement regulations, just as President John Kennedy did in requiring federal contractors to have companywide equal employment opportunity plans.

But some opponents argue that legislation would be needed because an executive order may collide with laws that require federal contractors to pay the prevailing regional wage for the type of work being done. The executive order, they fear, would call for higher wages.
23353  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: February 26, 2010, 07:33:48 AM
The Foundation
"Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm." --James Madison

Editorial Exegesis

The health care summit is an "evil" trap"A mere three days before President Obama's supposedly bipartisan health-care summit, the White House [Monday] released a new blueprint that Democrats say they will ram through Congress with or without Republican support. So after election defeats in Virginia, New Jersey and even Massachusetts, and amid overwhelming public opposition, Democrats have decided to give the voters what they don't want anyway. Ah, the glory of 'progressive' governance and democratic consent. 'The President's Proposal,' as the 11-page White House document is headlined, is in one sense a notable achievement: It manages to take the worst of both the House and Senate bills and combine them into something more destructive. It includes more taxes, more subsidies and even less cost control than the Senate bill. And it purports to fix the special-interest favors in the Senate bill not by eliminating them -- but by expanding them to everyone. ... The larger political message of this new proposal is that Mr. Obama and Democrats have no intention of compromising on an incremental reform, or of listening to Republican, or any other, ideas on health care. They want what they want, and they're going to play by Chicago Rules and try to dragoon it into law on a narrow partisan vote via Congressional rules that have never been used for such a major change in national policy. If you want to know why Democratic Washington is 'ungovernable,' this is it." --The Wall Street Journal

Insight
"The state tends to expand in proportion to its means of existence and to live beyond its means, and these are, in the last analysis, nothing but the substance of the people. Woe to the people that cannot limit the sphere of action of the state! Freedom, private enterprise, wealth, happiness, independence, personal dignity, all vanish." --French economist Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850)

"People unfit for freedom -- who cannot do much with it -- are hungry for power. The desire for freedom is an attribute of a 'have' type of self. It says: leave me alone and I shall grow, learn, and realize my capacities. The desire for power is basically an attribute of a 'have not' type of self." --writer and philosopher Eric Hoffer (1902-1983)

"The world is weary of statesmen whom democracy has degraded into politicians." --British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)

Upright
"Offering 'comprehensive' reform usually means years of arguing and horse-trading among pressure groups to get anything done. By the time all the special interests are appeased or bought off, the resulting elephantine legislation typically looks nothing like what was intended. In short, big-government medicine usually doesn't work on big-government sickness. If President Obama wants 'comprehensive' change, it would be better simply not to spend any more money we don't have." --historian Victor Davis Hanson

"[Barack Obama failed to sell a health care reform plan to American voters] because the utter implausibility of its central promise -- expanded coverage at lower cost -- led voters to conclude that it would lead ultimately to more government, more taxes and more debt." --columnist Charles Krauthammer

"Don't ever let anyone tell you that history doesn't repeat. For 70 years, liberals have been spinning the yarn that FDR's New Deal, despite all the evidence that it exacerbated and prolonged the Great Depression, quickened our economic recovery. Indeed, I remember scratching my head when one of my college history professors in the 1970s tried to convince us of that theory and its corollary -- an even better howler -- that FDR was actually a conservative, because if he hadn't implemented his socialist programs, the republic would have died right there." --columnist David Limbaugh

"This is a perfect snapshot of the West at twilight. On the one hand, governments of developed nations microregulate every aspect of your life in the interests of 'keeping you safe.' ... On the other hand, when it comes to 'keeping you safe' from real threats, such as a millenarian theocracy that claims universal jurisdiction, America and its allies do nothing. ... It is now certain that Tehran will get its nukes, and very soon. This is the biggest abdication of responsibility by the Western powers since the 1930s." --columnist Mark Steyn

"In the early aftermath of the suicidal pilot's attack [in Austin], there was no evidence that Stack belonged to a Tea Party organization. In any case, no law-abiding Tea Party group would ever condone what he did. But it didn't stop the haters from immediately smearing advocates of limited government. And it's just the latest in a long line of calculated attempts to paint the vast majority of peaceful Tea Party activists as terrorist threats to civil society. ... The smear merchants, of course, are simply following Rahm Emanuel's advice to exploit every crisis." --columnist Michelle Malkin

"Why should we capitalists go green? To do so is simply to exchange our technological, industrial, and energy superiority for a lie. ... Capitalism is about progressing via the ingenuity and excellence of minds unfettered by government regulations and interference. But environmentalism based on the man-made global warming theory is about regressing from the advances that unfettered minds have made. It's also about pushing the government to regulate and interfere at every step along the way." --columnist AWR Hawkins


The Demo-gogues
The definition of chutzpah: "After a decade of profligacy, the American people are tired of politicians who talk the talk but don't walk the walk when it comes to fiscal responsibility. It's easy to get up in front of the cameras and rant against exploding deficits. What's hard is actually getting deficits under control. But that's what we must do. Like families across the country, we have to take responsibility for every dollar we spend." --Barack Obama

Taxes are going up: "Everything's on the table. That's how this thing is going to work." --Barack Obama after creating a deficit commission on whether he would raise taxes on families earning less than $250,000 a year

Shut up, he explained: "They should stop crying about reconciliation as if it's never been done before." --Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (It's never been done on a bill of this magnitude before.)

"So I do believe that there is more fertile soil today than when we first took this up." --House Democrat Whip James Clyburn, of South Carolina, weighing in not on all those "shovel ready" supposed job-starting projects of the "stimulus" but on the Demo plan for the government takeover of U.S. medical care.

You don't say: "Health care has been knocking me around pretty good." --Barack Obama, who still hasn't learned his lesson

Speaking of being knocked around: "Men, when they're out of work, tend to become abusive." --Harry Reid ("Many observers have speculated that Reid is likely to lose his job at the end of the current term. ... Is something going to happen to Mrs. Reid if Nevadans don't re-elect this senator?")

Non sequitur: "We have countries like China, which don't have to go through the democratic processes that we do, that order factories to move to deal with their air pollution." --Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), urging his fellow senators to pass cap-n-tax
23354  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: February 26, 2010, 06:48:51 AM

Greatful to have challenges in my Life , , ,
23355  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spring 2010 DB Tribal Gathering on: February 26, 2010, 06:47:59 AM
Fortune cookie says:

"The longest journey begins with the first step." 

So come fight at the Open Gathering in the Fall , , ,
23356  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: States Rights on: February 26, 2010, 06:35:25 AM
I am enjoying this discussion.

I find I am wishing that this thread were part of the "Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters)" thread on our SC&H forum , , ,
23357  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: February 26, 2010, 06:33:05 AM
John:

Very glad to have you with us on this discussion and very interesting points about the militarization of the of humanitarian work.

The challenges here are daunting and it seems to me that our mission and the strategy to realize it are often unclear, inconsistent, and often inchoate.

As I understand it (and I am not sure that I have this correctly) our current strategy under CiC Obama is to win this war of essential national self-defense by enabling the ANP and the ANA in the next 16 months to be sufficiently far on a path to a self-sustaining winning trajectory towards establishing an Afg from which the Taliban will not enable attacks to be launched against the United States that we can begin reducing our troops there.

Do I have this right?

If so, IMHO we are delusional , , ,or we are simply going through a pretense by our CiC so he can say that he kept his campaign promise to fight in Afpakia.  Then after our 18 month efforts do not succeed he gets to say "Well, we tried with our best but the central government is too weak, incoherent, and corrupt, and so, just like Iraq, we are going to leave.  Anyway, Iran will soon have the nuclear bomb, so our position in the region is incoherent and untenable anyway."

I am in a mood. 

Certainly we are led by fine, outstanding generals in Patraeus and McCrystal, and it appears that the Pak govt/ISI may be waking up to the fact that a Taliban Pashtunistan is an existential threat to their regime.  Too bad that our Cic gave McC only 50% of the 40-60,000 troops he asked for and too bad he let everyone, including our enemies now, that we would begin leaving in 18 months.



QUESTION:
23358  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: States Rights on: February 25, 2010, 10:39:47 PM
Fascinating. 

23359  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud (ACORN et al), corruption etc. on: February 25, 2010, 06:28:19 PM
As predicted by Glenn Beck, ACORN has changed its names so that we cannot track it without considerable effort.
23360  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NJ leads the way? on: February 25, 2010, 06:27:08 PM
STEVE FORBES, Forbes.com "Fact and Comment" (02/25/10): Debt-plagued
Greece dominates the headlines, along with such other troubled countries
as Portugal, Italy and Spain. Here at home several states--led by
profligate California--and numerous municipalities are also teetering on
the edge of insolvency. In all of these cases the problem is excessive
spending. True, revenues are down because of the recession, and markets
are skittish about financing suspect debtors, in part because of the lack
of transparency concerning these borrowers' using possibly explosive
derivatives to paper over budget shortfalls. But ever more obese budgets
have put many governments on the brink of bankruptcy.

Disaster, however, is not inevitable: A bracing and, indeed, inspiring
example of what must be done is rising in New Jersey. Newly minted
Republican Governor Chris Christie, facing a fiscal disaster, is doing the
unthinkable: slashing spending and pushing for tax cuts as a way to revive
New Jersey's moribund economy.

Last month Christie told the Democrat-dominated legislature that he was
impounding more than $2 billion of this year's budget. The scythe is
wide-sweeping. "I am cutting spending in 375 different state programs,
from every corner of state government. I will use my executive authority
to implement [these cuts] now. [They] will eliminate our $2 billion budget
gap," Christie asserted to stunned lawmakers. His cuts are even bigger
than they sound. "Upon arrival my administration had $6 billion of
balances from which to find $2 billion of savings. We had to cut one-third
of our available funds with only four and a half months to go in the
fiscal year."

While the reductions are huge, Christie was careful to use the scalpel,
not the meat axe. In education, for example, he does not take "one penny
from an approved school instructional budget. Not one dime out of the
classroom. Not one textbook left unbought. Not one teacher laid off. Not
one child's education compromised for one minute. Not one dollar of new
property taxes will be needed."

But the governor made it clear that ever more drastic surgery is needed in
next year's budget, which he will submit this month. The howls will then
be truly deafening.

School budgets will be hit hard as state aid is cut. But this dire
situation will finally force school districts--under the ever more
watchful eyes of tax-strapped parents--to cut bureaucratic bloat.
New Jersey's 566 cities and municipalities will also urgently do what they
should have done years ago--consolidate services across municipal lines.

The biggest push will be on pensions. "Pensions and benefits are the major
drivers of our spending increases at all levels of government--state,
county, municipal and school board," the governor declared. "The special
interests have already begun to scream their favorite word--which,
coincidentally, is my 9-year-old son's favorite word when we are making
him do something he knows is right but does not want to do--'unfair.' One
state retiree, 49 years old, paid, over the course of his entire career, a
total of $124,000 toward his retirement pension and health benefits. What
will we pay him? $3.3 million in pension payments over his life and nearly
$500,000 for health care benefits--a total of $3.8 million on a $120,000
investment. Is that fair?

"A retired teacher paid $62,000 toward her pension and nothing, yes
nothing, for full family medical, dental and vision coverage over her
entire career. What will we pay her? $1.4 million in pension benefits and
another $215,000 in health care benefit premiums over her lifetime. Is it
'fair' for all of us and our children to have to pay for this excess...?

Read on or post a comment:
http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2010/0315/opinions-fact-comment-steve-forbes-things-come.html
23361  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Dog Brothers Euro Gathering 2009 clip on: February 25, 2010, 10:48:15 AM


http://www.dogbrothers.ch/pages/en/multimedia.php
23362  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson, 1797 on: February 25, 2010, 06:43:02 AM
"War is not the best engine for us to resort to; nature has given us one in our commerce, which if properly managed, will be a better instrument for obliging the interested nations of Europe to treat us with justice." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Pickney, 1797
23363  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Toronto: March 27-28, 2010 on: February 24, 2010, 08:35:14 PM
I received what you sent me and will forward it to our webmaster
23364  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Quiero entrenar eficazmente. ¿Cómo lo hago? on: February 24, 2010, 12:29:34 PM
Guau Gente:

Si no quieren que este foro muera, hay que participar!

He aqui aun mas una buena contribucion por Cecilio , , , y nadie contesta.  ?Que onda?!?

La Aventura continua,
Crafty Dog
23365  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Combate defensivo con cuchillo. ¿Es factible? on: February 24, 2010, 12:26:48 PM
Cecilio:

Que buendo verte aqui' de nuevo. Has comenzado muy bien una tema de gran importancia y la verdad es que me sorprende que nadie aqui haya respondido todavia.  Tengo que salir en un ratito, por lo cual solo tengo unos minutos y lo unico que puedo ofrecer a l platica en este momento es un cuentito.

Yo estaba parte de un seminario dado por un gran maestro de cuchillo.  Otro maestro de cuchillo se sento' a mi lado.  "?Que opinas?" me pregunto'.

"Pues, que opina Ud.?"
"Que no sea muy bueno."
Su franqueza me sorprendia. 
"?Por que?"
"Pues, siempre esta' atacando de frente."

23366  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Palo Venezolano on: February 24, 2010, 12:02:44 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnaNtITzZY0&feature=player_embedded#
23367  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Robert Howard on: February 24, 2010, 11:42:39 AM

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/colr-robert-l.-howard.htm
23368  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Robert Howard on: February 24, 2010, 11:42:05 AM
http://www.michaelyon-online.com/colr-robert-l.-howard.htm
23369  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We need this fellow here in the US! on: February 24, 2010, 10:45:19 AM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94lW6Y4tBXs
23370  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Toronto: March 27-28, 2010 on: February 24, 2010, 08:27:42 AM
For those not a part of the FB group, care to share that info here?
23371  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Son of Hamas founder worked for Israelis for more than a decade on: February 24, 2010, 08:24:14 AM

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article7039011.ece
Son of Hamas founder spied for Israel for more than a decade
James Hider in Jerusalem

Mosab Hassan Yousef, a 32-year-old convert to Christianity, now lives in California

 
The son of one of Hamas’s founding members was a spy in the service of Israel for more than a decade, helping prevent dozens of Islamist suicide bombers from finding their targets, it emerged today.

Codenamed the Green Prince by Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of Hamas co-founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef, supplied key intelligence on an almost daily basis from 1996 onwards and tracked down suicide bombers and their handlers from his father’s organization, the daily Haaretz said.

Information he supplied led to the arrests of some of the most wanted men by Israeli forces, including Marwan Barghouti, a Fatah leader often tipped as a potential president who was convicted of masterminding terrorist attacks, and one of Hamas’ top bomb-makers Abdullah Barghouti, who is no relation of the jailed Fatah chief.

Mr Yousef, a 32-year-old convert to Christianity who now lives in California, has revealed the intrigues of his years as a spy in a new book called Son of Hamas, much to the concern of Shin Bet, whose operations will be revealed in detail. While the revelations may give a boost to Israel’s intelligence service, whose external counterpart Mossad is still grappling with the diplomatic fall-out of last month’s Hamas assassination in Dubai, there will be concern that the account may give too many insights into the murky world of espionage.


However, Mr Yousef’s work will be far more damaging to Hamas, whose brutality he denounced. Dubai police have suggested that Mahmoud al-Mabhuh, the top Hamas militant found dead in a hotel room in the emirate on January 20, may have been betrayed by an insider from the Islamist movement itself.

And Mr Yousef had harsh words for the movement that his father helped form, and which now rules the Gaza Strip after a bloody takeover in summer 2007. “Hamas cannot make peace with the Israelis,” he told the daily. “That is against what their God tells them. It is impossible to make peace with infidels, only a cease-fire, and no one knows that better than I. The Hamas leadership is responsible for the killing of Palestinians, not Israelis."

Mr Yousef’s former Israeli handler, identified only as Captain Loai, praised the resolve of his agent, whose codename derived from the colour of Islam – and Hamas’ – banner and from his exalted position within an organization that regularly kills those suspected of collaborating with the Jewish state.

"So many people owe him their life and don't even know it," he said. "The amazing thing is that none of his actions were done for money. He did things he believed in. He wanted to save lives. His grasp of intelligence matters was just as good as ours — the ideas, the insights. One insight of his was worth 1,000 hours of thought by top experts."

Mr Yousef, whose father is still in an Israeli jail cell, from where he was elected as an MP in 2006, went as far as tracking down would-be kamikazes himself in the streets of the West bank during the Second Intifada which erupted a decade ago and left thousands of Palestinians and Israelis dead. On one occasion he followed a bomber from Manara Square in the centre of Ramallah, just north of Jerusalem.

“We didn't know his name or what he looked like — only that he was in his 20s and would be wearing a red shirt," said the former handler. "We sent the Green Prince to the square and with his acute sense, he located the target within minutes. He saw who picked him up, followed the car and made it possible for us to arrest the suicide bomber and the man who was supposed to give him the belt. So another attack was thwarted, though no one knows about it. No one opens Champagne bottles or bursts into song and dance. This was an almost daily thing for the Prince. He displayed courage, had sharp antennae and an ability to cope with danger."

Mr Yousef, who converted from Islam to Christianity a decade ago – in itself, a dangerous act – was arrested by the Israelis in 1996 and within a year had been recruited by Shin Bet, then released to begin working as an informant.

Speaking by telephone from California, Mr Yousef told Haaretz he worried that the Israeli Government might release some of the prisoners he helped put behind bars in exchange for Gilad Schalit, a young Israeli soldier abducted by Hamas from the Gaza border more than three years ago.

“I wish I were in Gaza now," he said. "I would put on an army uniform and join Israel's special forces in order to liberate Gilad Schalit. If I were there, I could help. We wasted so many years with investigations and arrests to capture the very terrorists that they now want to release in return for Schalit. That must not be done."
23372  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / How long does it take various knife wounds to incapacitate? on: February 24, 2010, 08:15:19 AM
Woof All:

I kick this thread off with a flashy example of a particular point, but the larger question remains:  Just how long does it take various knife wounds to incapacitate?

TAC!
CD
============================
Man Unaware of Knife in His Neck Following Fight

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Man Unaware of Knife in His Neck Following Fight

Tuesday , February 23, 2010

A knife blade has been found lodged in the neck of a man who didn't even realize he had been stabbed.

Ambulance Victoria said the Australian man's wife saw blood trickling out of his neck when he went to bed after apparently being in a fight.
After calling for an ambulance, paramedics discovered the blade had snapped off in his neck.

Slideshow: Outrageous Injuries

Intensive care flight paramedic Matthew Shepherd said the 40-year-old claimed he had been in a fight and felt a thump to his neck - but was unaware he had been stabbed.  Remarkably, he escaped serious injury when the blade came within millimeters of his spine.  He was flown by air ambulance from Albury to Melbourne this morning and is in a stable condition.

"The 40-year-old said he went home and got into bed, not realizing he had been stabbed,'' Shepherd said."The man's wife then apparently found blood coming from his neck and called for an ambulance

"On closer examination it was found that a blade had snapped off in his neck.

"It came within millimeters of his spine, but thankfully it hasn't made contact.

"Our biggest priority during the flight was to make sure the man stayed as still as possible, to prevent the blade from moving and potentially causing further damage.''

Earlier this month Russian woman Julia Popova, 22, made global headlines after she was stabbed during a mugging in Moscow - but did not realize and walked calmly home with a knife in her neck.

When she got home her horrified parents rushed her to the hospital, where surgeons managed to remove the blade without damaging her spine.

"Shock had kicked in and her body prevented her from feeling any pain," one medic said.

"She simply walked home without feeling the knife in her back."
23373  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: February 24, 2010, 08:01:03 AM
Agreed!
23374  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: February 24, 2010, 07:50:36 AM
I suspect we will just go in circles in this one and leave it simply by noting that Europe's Euro population is declining and that in order to try to maintain the euro-socialist economic model they need immigration.  In their case this means Turks and Arabs-- which of course are both overwhelmingly Muslim.  Not only does the widespread and deep anti-semitism of these two groups find easy reasonance with the still existing anti-semitism centuries-old and continent-wide anti-semitism of Europe, but the simple fact is that just like Mussolini's brown shirts in the streets intimidated people in Italy here too the good people of Europe are being intimidated.  Cowardice is being exhibited by more than a few.  Once again Jews are being driven from their homes.

Last word yours.
23375  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spring 2010 DB Tribal Gathering on: February 24, 2010, 07:37:50 AM
Dog and up.
23376  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: February 24, 2010, 07:36:23 AM
"Industry is increased, commodities are multiplied, agriculture and manufacturers flourish: and herein consists the true wealth and prosperity of a state." --Alexander Hamilton, Report on a National Bank, 1790
23377  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Turkey on: February 23, 2010, 04:13:32 PM
Not a particularly reliable source, but an apparently important event is flagged:

February 22, 2010

Turkey Detains Top Military Brass In Conspiracy Probe

By REUTERS
Filed at 1:39 p.m. ET


ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish police detained former heads of the air force and navy on Monday among 40 people held in an investigation into an alleged plot to undermine the Islamist-rooted government and trigger a military coup.

The swoop, one of the largest against the secularist armed forces, added to a growing sense of foreboding in the Muslim nation, where a clash between the government and the judiciary had already raised fears of a political crisis.

A NATO member with hopes of EU membership, Turkey is locked in a long power struggle between the AK Party, which has its roots in political Islam, and conservative, nationalist secularists, whose bastions remain the military and judiciary.

Armed forces chief General Ilker Basbug postponed a trip to Egypt as a result of the detentions, state-run Anatolian news agency said.

Among those held, according to broadcasters, were former Air Force Commander Ibrahim Firtina, former Naval Commander Ozden Ornek and ex-Deputy Chief of the General Staff General Ergin Saygun.

Speaking in Madrid at the start of an official visit, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said more than 40 people were detained in the raids.

News channel CNN-Turk put the number at 49, including 17 retired generals, four serving admirals, 27 officers and one enlisted man.

MARKETS UNEASY

The detentions would have been unthinkable in the past for a military that has ousted four governments since 1960.

But its powers have waned in recent years because of democratic reforms aimed at securing EU membership and most analysts doubt that the armed forces would mount a coup.

The suspects held in Ankara were flown to Istanbul for questioning over the "Sledgehammer" plot after police raids in the cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.

According to media reports the plot, denied by the military, dated from 2003 and involved provoking a crisis with old foe Greece and planting bombs in mosques and museums in Istanbul to stir chaos and justify a military takeover.

"I don't know what the result of this is, but after the security forces have finished this process the judiciary will make its assessment," Erdogan told a news conference.

Turkish markets were rattled by the prospects. The lira weakened to 1.5265 lira in Tuesday-dated trade from an intrabank close of 1.5180 on Monday, the level at which it ended last week, and the main share index ended 1.36 percent lower, having begun the day nearly 1 percent higher.

"The government is now embroiled in an open and bitter power struggle with the judiciary and the military, raising the risk of a head-on confrontation that would badly damage political stability," Wolfango Piccoli from the Eurasia political risk consultancy said.

REFERENDUM THREAT

Erdogan also said he would call a referendum on constitutional reform to overhaul the judicial system, if he fails to get parliament's backing for change to curb the power of judges and prosecutors.

The AK Party, which first swept to power in 2002 ending the secularists' decades-old grip, has enough votes in the 550-seat parliament to pass a bill calling for a referendum.

"The judicial system should be objective and independent at the same time," Erdogan said.

He did not give any timeframe for a possible referendum.

Turkey is due to hold its next general elections in 2011 and Erdogan has repeatedly denied he plans to call an early vote.

The clash with the judiciary followed the arrest of a prosecutor who had investigated Islamic groups.

That prosecutor has been accused of links to an alleged far-right militant network, "Ergenekon." More than 200 people, including military officers, lawyers and politicians, have been arrested in the case since it came to light 2-1/2 years ago.

Critics of the government say the Ergenekon investigation has also been used to hound political opponents.

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2010/...0arrest&st=cse
 
23378  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / America's first debt bomb and how the Founding Fathers solved it on: February 23, 2010, 03:43:36 PM
From the Glen Beck website:
============

The Revolutionary Debt Bomb - And How the Founders Fixed It!
February 22, 2010 - 13:01 ET

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t think our fiscal house is about to slide into the ocean?

Whether one accepts the government’s estimates of a national debt that nears $10 trillion, or whether one thinks the numbers provided by Richard Fisher of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, which includes all the “unfunded” parts of Medicare (A, B, and D) at another $85.6 trillion, for a total of $95.6 trillion, the United States faces a staggering level of debt. And Fisher’s numbers do not include Social Security, which now, for the first time, has seen its out-flows exceed its income, and which adds another $10 trillion (at least) to the totals. The Medicare debt alone would stick each American family of four with a bill of $1.3 million, or about 25 times the average household’s income. Taken together, these levels of debt exceed the Gross National Product of probably half the nations in the world put together.

But history offers some hope. The young republic of the United States of America faced an equally daunting debt bomb in 1788, and, perhaps given the new nation’s utter lack of credit history, an even greater challenge than we face today. But the Founders dug their way out to the point of fiscal solvency fairly quickly, and within a decade the nation was viewed as a sterling credit risk. How was this possible?

It began with Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton—often a punching bag for some conservatives because of his big-government proclivities. But Hamilton knew that the only way to establish credit was to pay your bills. The situation confronting the United States, coming out of the Revolutionary War and the Articles of Confederation, was this: states had issued their own debt—some more, some less than others—and the United States, through the Continental Congress had also accumulated debts. Hamilton insisted the nation had to pay them all, and that a policy of “assumption” was the only sure way to convince foreign investors that we were an honorable Republic and not a banana republic! Despite fierce battles, he carried the day in Congress: the U.S. would pay all debts accumulated by the national and state governments. But how? Hamilton’s genius showed in his next maneuver, as he knew he needed to attract the “monied men,” as he called them. He structured a “menu” of new bond/debt options, in which longer-term debts received higher returns. Thus, if an investor had little confidence in the United States, he took short-term bonds which paid off less; and if an investor thought the nation would survive and prosper, he bought long-term bonds with their higher payoff. Throughout it all, Hamilton, contrary to popular opinion, did not wish to see the country saddled with debt. He said debt “is perhaps the NATURAL DISEASE of all governments,” and his first actions as Treasury Secretary were designed to reduce the nation’s indebtedness.[ii]

Hamilton’s restructuring of the debt on the surface may have resembled what Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of “Koli-for-nya” did in 2004, but only on the surface. Hamilton ensured that payments on the debt went to the oldest debt first, and through a “sinking fund,” no new debt could be contracted until the old debt had been settled—in essence setting the United States up with an “American Express” version of credit instead of a Mastercard/Visa “revolving” credit line. So while the U.S. indebtedness remained at about $83 million when Thomas Jefferson became president, the payments on interest remained at a minimum.

In part, Hamilton also knew that he could count on those whom he knew well—President George Washington, plus John Adams, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson (two men quite likely to hold the office in the future)—to limit spending and to practice federal frugality. Indeed they did. They ran the government with a handful of secretaries and a few hundred public officials; they carefully watched expenditures, with the largest being the construction of four large frigates under Adams and Thomas Jefferson’s purchase of Louisiana for $15 million. Yet despite the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson still managed to slice more than one-quarter off the national debt.

All the Founders recognized that for the “monied men” to ally with the new nation, it had to honor its contracts (which it did through assumption); it had to establish a sound currency (which it did by adopting a gold standard and coining money along the Spanish system of tens and fives); and by paying its debts, which it did. By the presidency of Andrew Jackson, the nation had a surplus, but more important, it had a sterling credit record, and investment money flowed into the new nation. Hamilton, Washington, Adams, Madison, and Jefferson had all adroitly kept the “Revolutionary Debt Bomb” from exploding, and instead leveraged it for the growth of future generations. The key was confidence—confidence in the fiscal frugality and restraint of the leaders, confidence by the business sector in the government. Do either of those exist today?

While the numbers are staggering, like all numbers they matter little compared to the “animal spirits” of entrepreneurship, investment, and business growth. A sunny Ronald Reagan dug the U.S. out of deep straits just 30 years ago. The Founders, operating with even less, founded a nation on confidence and freedom, and the lessons of history tell us that such turnarounds can occur if the nation is determined to once again defuse its debt bomb.

Larry Schweikart

University of Dayton

co-author, A Patriot’s History of the United States


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

. Richard W. Fisher, “Storms on the Horizon,” Remarks before the Commonwealth Club of California, May 28, 2008.

[ii]. One of the best analyses of Hamilton’s program is in Charles Calomiris, “Alexander Hamilton,” in Larry Schweikart, ed., The Encyclopedia of American Business History and Biography: Banking and Finance to 1913 (New York: Facts on File, 1990
23379  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Invisible God on: February 23, 2010, 03:30:27 PM
By Bracha Goetz
Question:
How can I explain to my young child that it makes sense to believe in an invisible G‑d?

Answer:
You can explain this concept to your child the same way you explain it to anybody (including yourself)… only children can probably grasp it quicker and better!

In one of my picture books for young children, The Invisible Book, this perplexing question, one of life's deepest puzzles, is explored in a very simple manner. The boy in the book looks around his world and realizes that there are many invisible forces in his life, like air, electricity, and gravity.

Continuing his exploration, he finds that thoughts and feelings are invisible, too, and so are sounds and smells. Even the strong force of magnetism is invisible. Through recognizing the invisible nature of so many indisputably real things we experience, we can believe that we have been blessed with invisible souls by an invisible G‑d.

The joy we experience in our souls from doing a mitzvah is invisible, and yet we are strongly aware of how intensely wonderful it can be. Amazingly, the joy becomes almost palpable when we engage in learning about the most basic, yet deepest, questions of life with our children. This holds true even when they are teens or already adults. In countless ways, if we are open to it, our children become our spiritual guides.

Why can children more readily understand, when first exposed to these deep concepts, what is much harder for us to grasp as adults? Children seem to "see" that they are, in essence, invisible souls made in the image of our invisible G‑d with a similar infinite spiritual energy. They are more "in touch" with their pure souls, which have not been covered over with years of confusing messages that deny our spiritual essence.

Children may come up with questions like: "Where is G‑d? Why can't we see G‑d? What is a soul? What does G‑d want us to do?" We can let our children know that these kinds of questions are actually coming from a place within them that is connected to G‑d. And the questions themselves are proof that they are much more than just bodies. We can't see spirituality, but like many other invisible things, we can feel its effects and awesome power.

We can ask our young children to blow on the palms of their hands and feel the gentle invisible wind. In Hebrew, the word for wind is ruach, and, interestingly, it's the same word for "spirit." With the invisible spirit within us, our souls, we can act in the world as the wind does, and bring about much wonderment and goodness.

We can let children know that G‑d wants us to increase goodness in the world. And we can explain to our children that the Torah explains exactly how to be good. We can also ask our children what answers they have for their questions because we honestly want to know what they are thinking about this important subject.

What we don't need is to be afraid of exploring these essential questions with our children, even if we feel we don't have all the answers. This is an exploration with no end. If we can humbly return to these questions again and again throughout our lives, we can find richer meaning. Then we can help each other with the unique insights garnered through one's personal trials.

As invisible time goes by, the spiritual searching and discovering that we share with our families – even, or especially, about G‑d – can create invisible bonds of love that last forever.
23380  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spring 2010 DB Tribal Gathering on: February 23, 2010, 03:27:08 PM
Member of the DB Tribe.
23381  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: February 23, 2010, 03:26:30 PM
Grateful for a highly motivating mission!
23382  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Plan B on: February 23, 2010, 10:56:42 AM
Iraq, U.S: A 'Plan B' for Withdrawal Emerges
Stratfor Today » February 23, 2010 | 1549 GMT



WIN MCNAMEE/Getty Images
U.S. Gen. Ray Odierno at a Pentagon press briefing on Feb. 22 The commanding general of United States Forces-Iraq (USF-I), U.S. Gen. Ray Odierno, spent the past week briefing Washington on a “Plan B” for withdrawal from Iraq should conditions require it. With concerns about the durability of the fragile balance of power in Baghdad in the buildup to and the aftermath of the parliamentary elections slated for March 7, there are mounting concerns over whether the already-delayed rapid drawdown of U.S. troops now slated to begin in mid-May is realistic. Between mid-May and the end of August, 46,000 U.S. troops — including all remaining “combat” troops — are scheduled to be pulled out of the country, leaving 50,000 troops engaged in training, advising and supporting Iraqi security forces.

A contingency plan for deteriorating political and security conditions is prudent military planning, and the USF-I would be negligent if it did not have such plans. The Iraq withdrawal is about more than just extricating itself from Iraq. It is also about lightening the burden on U.S. ground combat forces at a time when some 30,000 additional troops are being sent to Afghanistan. Modest delays are not necessarily problematic and the September deadline for the drawdown in Iraq is a political date. But the Pentagon is also counting on not sustaining troop levels as they stand in Iraq through the end of the year. Disengagement is necessary.

Despite the prudence of forming a Plan B, the past week is, to our knowledge, the first time such a plan has been presented publicly. While Washington may well have requested the briefings from Odierno, the heart of the issue is that it is being publicized now. Odierno insisted that there were no signs that implementation of the contingency plan would be necessary, but there are clearly concerns about the fate of Iraq with regard to the looming elections and this may also be an attempt to moderate expectations for the promised rapid drawdown of forces. Whatever the case, he came to Washington to publicize the plan: He did not do this without direction, authorization and coordination with the White House.

Until fairly recently, despite looming concerns about the deterioration of the security situation and ethno-sectarian tensions, there was no reason to publicize contingency plans. The issue is not just the elections. Having a smooth election — one that would be acceptable across the board — is only the first issue of concern. Forming a coalition government (which took six months to finalize after the last parliamentary elections) is another major issue. And this election is expected to have even more participation and factionalism. Furthermore, as the confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program appears to be reaching a decision point, Iran may decide to use its assets in Iraq to retaliate against the United States. Though Odierno insisted that Iranian pressures would not influence the drawdown, Tehran has the ability to affect both Iraq’s security situation and the government in Baghdad through Shiite proxies, a cause of concern for the Sunnis and their allies in the Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia.

Events in Iraq have yet to play out. But the Iraq drawdown and the timetable it follows cuts across a broad spectrum of issues — not just Iraq, but Iran, Afghanistan and domestic U.S. politics. Any shift has potentially wide-reaching strategic significance.
23383  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Visa Security basics on: February 23, 2010, 10:44:11 AM
Visa Security: Getting Back to the Basics
February 18, 2010 | 1602 GMT

By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Usually in the STRATFOR Global Security and Intelligence Report, we focus on the tactical details of terrorism and security issues in an effort to explain those issues and place them in perspective for our readers. Occasionally, though, we turn our focus away from the tactical realm in order to examine the bureaucratic processes that shape the way things run in the counterterrorism, counterintelligence and security arena. This look into the struggle by the U.S. government to ensure visa security is one of those analyses.

As STRATFOR has noted for many years now, document-fraud investigations are a very useful weapon in the counterterrorism arsenal. Foreigners who wish to travel to the United States to conduct a terrorist attack must either have a valid passport from their country of citizenship and a valid U.S. visa, or just a valid passport from their home country if they are a citizen of a country that does not require a visa for short-term trips (called visa-waiver countries).

In some early jihadist attacks against the United States, such as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the operatives dispatched to conduct the attacks made very clumsy attempts at document fraud. In that case, the two operational commanders dispatched from Afghanistan to conduct the attack arrived at New York’s Kennedy Airport after having used photo-substituted passports (passports where the photographs are literally switched) of militants from visa-waiver countries who died while fighting in Afghanistan. Ahmed Ajaj (a Palestinian) used a Swedish passport in the name of Khurram Khan, and Abdul Basit (a Pakistani also known as Ramzi Yousef) used a British passport in the name of Mohamed Azan. Ajaj attempted to enter through U.S. Immigration at Kennedy Airport using the obviously photo-substituted passport and was arrested on the spot. Basit used the altered British passport to board the aircraft in Karachi, Pakistan, but upon arrival in New York he used a fraudulently obtained but genuine Iraqi passport in the name of Ramzi Yousef to claim political asylum and was released pending his asylum hearing.

But the jihadist planners learned from amateurish cases like Ajaj’s and that of Ghazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer, a Palestinian who attempted to conduct a suicide attack against the New York subway system. U.S. immigration officials arrested him on three occasions in the Pacific Northwest as he attempted to cross into the United States illegally from Canada. By the Millennium Bomb Plot in late 1999, Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian who initially entered Canada using a photo-substituted French passport, had obtained a genuine Canadian passport using a fraudulent baptismal certificate. He then used that genuine passport to attempt to enter the United States in order to bomb Los Angeles International Airport. Ressam was caught not because of his documentation but because of his demeanor — and an alert customs inspector prevented him from entering the country.

So by the time the 9/11 attacks occurred, we were seeing groups like al Qaeda preferring to use genuine travel documents rather than altered or counterfeit documents. Indeed, some operatives, such as Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a Yemeni, were unable to obtain U.S. visas and were therefore not permitted to participate in the 9/11 plot. Instead, bin al-Shibh took on a support role, serving as the communications cutout between al Qaeda’s operational planner, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and al Qaeda’s tactical commander for the operation, Mohamed Atta. It is important to note, however, that the 19 9/11 operatives had obtained a large assortment of driver’s licenses and state identification cards, many of them fraudulent. Such documents are far easier to obtain than passports.

After the Sept. 11 attacks and the 9/11 Commission report, which shed a great deal of light on the terrorist use of document fraud, the U.S. government increased the attention devoted to immigration fraud and the use of fraudulent travel documents by terrorist suspects. This emphasis on detecting document fraud, along with the widespread adoption of more difficult to counterfeit passports and visas (no document is impossible to counterfeit), has influenced jihadists, who have continued their shift away from the use of fraudulent documents (especially poor quality documents). Indeed, in many post-9/11 attacks directed against the United States we have seen jihadist groups use U.S. citizens (Jose Padilla and Najibullah Zazi), citizens of visa-waiver countries (Richard Reid and Abdulla Ahmed Ali), and other operatives who possess or can obtain valid U.S. visas such as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. These operatives are, for the most part, using authentic documents issued in their true identities.

Concerns expressed by the 9/11 Commission over the vulnerability created by the visa-waiver program also prompted the U.S. government to establish the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which is a mandatory program that prescreens visa-waiver travelers, including those transiting through the United States. The ESTA, which became functional in January 2009, requires travelers from visa-waiver countries to apply for travel authorization at least 72 hours prior to travel. This time period permits the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct background checks on pending travelers.


Growing Complexity

Counterfeit visas are not as large a problem as they were 20 years ago. Advances in technology have made it very difficult for all but the most high-end document vendors to counterfeit them, and it is often cheaper and easier to obtain an authentic visa by malfeasance — bribing a consular officer — than it is to acquire a machine-readable counterfeit visa that will work. Obtaining a genuine U.S. passport or one from a visa-waiver country by using fraudulent breeder documents (driver’s licenses and birth certificates, as Ahmed Ressam did) is also cheaper and easier. But in the case of non-visa waiver countries, this shift to the use of genuine identities and identity documents now highlights the need to secure the visa issuance process from fraud and malfeasance.

This shift to genuine-identity documents also means that most visa fraud cases involving potential terrorist operatives are going to be very complex. Rather than relying on obvious flags like false identities, the visa team consisting of clerks, consular officers, visa-fraud coordinators and Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) special agents needs to examine carefully not just the applicant’s identity but also his or her story in an attempt to determine if it is legitimate, and if there are any subtle indicators that the applicant has ties to radical groups (like people who lose their passports to disguise travel to places like Pakistan and Yemen). As in many other security programs, however, demeanor is also critically important, and a good investigator can often spot signs of deception during a visa interview (if one is conducted).

If the applicant’s documents and story check out, and there are no indicators of radical connections, it is very difficult to determine that an applicant is up to no good unless the U.S. government possesses some sort of intelligence indicating that the person may be involved in such activity. In terms of intelligence, there are a number of different databases, such as the Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS), the main State Department database and the terrorism-specific Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) system. The databases are checked in order to determine if there is any derogatory information that would preclude a suspect from receiving a visa. These databases allow a number of U.S. government agencies to provide input — CLASS is tied into the Interagency Border Inspection System (IBIS) — and they allow these other agencies to have a stake in the visa issuance process. (It must be noted that, like any database, foreign language issues — such as the many ways to transliterate the name Mohammed into English — can often complicate the accuracy of visa lookout database entries and checks.)

Today the lookout databases are a far cry from what they were even 15 years ago, when many of the lists were contained on microfiche and checking them was laborious. During the microfiche era, mistakes were easily made, and some officers skipped the step of running the time-consuming name checks on people who did not appear to be potential terrorists. This is what happened in the case of a poor old blind imam who showed up at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum in 1990 — and who turned out to be terrorist leader Sheikh Omar Ali Ahmed Abdul-Rahman. As an aside, although Rahman, known as the Blind Sheikh, did receive a U.S. visa, DSS special agents who investigated his case were able to document that he made material false statements on his visa application (such as claiming he had never been arrested) and were therefore able to build a visa fraud case against the Sheikh. The case never proceeded to trial, since the Sheikh was convicted on seditious conspiracy charges and sentenced to life in prison.

The U.S. government’s visa fraud investigation specialists are the special agents assigned to the U.S. Department of State’s DSS. In much the same way that U.S. Secret Service special agents work to ensure the integrity of the U.S. currency system through investigations of counterfeiting, DSS agents work to ensure the inviolability of U.S. passports and visas by investigating passport and visa fraud. The DSS has long assigned special agents to high fraud-threat countries like Nigeria to investigate passport and visa fraud in conjunction with the post’s consular affairs officers. In the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, Congress ordered the State Department to establish a visa and passport security program. In response to this legislation, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Bureau of Consular Affairs and the DSS to establish the Overseas Criminal Investigations Branch (OCI). The purpose of the OCI was to conduct investigations related to illegal passport and visa issuances or use and other investigations at U.S. embassies overseas. A special agent assigned to these duties at an overseas post is referred to as an investigative Assistant Regional Security Officer (or ARSO-I).

While the OCI and the ARSO-I program seemed promising at first, circumstance and bureaucratic hurdles have prevented the program from running to the best of its ability and meeting the expectations of the U.S. Congress.


Bureaucratic Shenanigans

As we’ve previously noted, there is a powerful element within the State Department that is averse to security and does its best to thwart security programs. DSS special agents refer to these people as Black Dragons. Even when Congress provides clear guidance to the State Department regarding issues of security (e.g., the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Antiterrorism Act of 1986), the Black Dragons do their best to strangle the programs, and this constant struggle produces discernable boom-and-bust cycles, as Congress provides money for new security programs and the Black Dragons, who consider security counterproductive for diplomacy and armed State Department special agents undiplomatic, use their bureaucratic power to cut off those programs.

Compounding this perennial battle over security funding has been the incredible increase in protective responsibilities that the DSS has had to shoulder since 9/11. The bureau has had to provide a large number of agents to protect U.S. diplomats in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan and even staffed and supervised the protective detail for Afghan President Hamid Karzai for a few years. Two DSS special agents were also killed while protecting the huge number of U.S diplomats assigned to reconstruction efforts in Iraq. One agent was killed in a rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the other by a suicide car-bomb attack in Mosul.

The demands of protection and bureaucratic strangulation by the Black Dragons, who have not embraced the concept of the ARSO-I program, has resulted in the OCI program being deployed very slowly. This means that of the 200 positions envisioned and internally programmed by Bureau of Consular Affairs and DSS in 2004, only 50 ARSO-I agents have been assigned to posts abroad as of this writing, and a total of 123 ARSO-I agents are supposed to be deployed by the end of 2011. The other 77 ARSO-I positions were taken away from the OCI program by the department and used to provide more secretarial positions.

In the wake of State Department heel-dragging, other agencies are now seeking to fill the void.


The Vultures Are Circling

In a Feb. 9, 2010, editorial on GovernmentExecutive.com, former DHS Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security Asa Hutchinson made a pitch for the DHS to become more involved in the visa-security process overseas, and he is pushing for funding more DHS positions at U.S. embassies abroad. To support his case that more DHS officers are needed for visa security, Hutchinson used the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as an example of why DHS needed a larger presence overseas.

Unfortunately, the Abdulmutallab case had nothing to do with visa fraud, and the presence of a DHS officer at post would certainly not have prevented him from receiving his initial visa. Abdulmutallab was first issued a U.S. visa in 2004, before he was radicalized during his university studies in the United Kingdom from 2005 to 2008, and he qualified for that visa according to the guidelines established by the U.S. government without fraud or deception. Of course, the fact that he came from a prominent Nigerian family certainly helped.

The problem in the Abdulmutallab case was not in the issuance of his visa in 2004. His identity and story checked out. There was no negative information about him in the databases checked for visa applicants. He also traveled to the United States in 2004 and left the country without overstaying his visa, and was not yet listed in any of the lookout databases, so his visa renewal in June 2008 in London was also not surprising.

The real problem in the Abdulmutallab case began when the CIA handled the interview of Abdulmutallab’s father when he walked into the embassy in November 2009 to report that his son had become radicalized and that he feared his son was preparing for a suicide mission. The CIA did not share the information gleaned from that interview in a terrorism report cable (TERREP), or with the regional security officer at post or the ARSO-I. (The fact that the CIA, FBI and other agencies have assumed control over the walk-in program in recent years is also a serious problem, but that is a matter to be addressed separately.) Due to that lack of information-sharing, Abdulmutallab’s visa was not canceled as it could have and should have been. His name was also not added to the U.S. government’s no-fly list.

Again, had there been a DHS officer assigned to the embassy, he would not have been able to do any more than the ARSO-I already assigned to post, since he also would not have received the information from the CIA that would have indicated that Abdulmutallab’s visa needed to be revoked.

Once again, information was not shared in a counterterrorism case — a recurring theme in recent years. And once again the lack of information would have proved deadly had Abdulmutallab’s device not malfunctioned. Unfortunately, information-sharing is never facilitated by the addition of layers of bureaucracy. This is the reason why the addition of the huge new bureaucracy called the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has not solved the issue of information-sharing among intelligence agencies.

Hutchinson is correct when he notes that the DHS must go back to basics, but DHS has numerous other domestic programs that it must master the basics of — things like securing the border, overseeing port and cargo security, interior immigration and customs enforcement and ensuring airline security — before it should even consider expanding its presence overseas.

Adding another layer of DHS involvement in overseeing visa issuance and investigating visa fraud at diplomatic posts abroad is simply not going to assist in the flow of information in visa cases, whether criminal or terrorist in nature. Having another U.S. law enforcement agency interfacing with the host country police and security agencies regarding visa matters will also serve to cause confusion and hamper efficient information flow. The problem illustrated by the Abdulmutallab case is not that the U.S. government lacks enough agencies operating in overseas posts; the problem is that the myriad agencies already there simply need to return to doing basic things like talking to each other. Getting the ARSO-I program funded and back on track is a basic step necessary to help in securing the visa process, but even that will not be totally effective unless the agencies at post do a better job of basic tasks like coordination and communication.
23384  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: February 23, 2010, 10:02:17 AM
PC:

We agree on most things, but here I think you wide of the mark.

This is a far different matter than not delivering for a support group after election.  This is cowardice in the face of Muslim intimidation and bigotry, plain and simple.

"The mayor insisted to The Sunday Telegraph that he was opposed to anti-Semitism, but added: "I believe these are anti-Israel attacks, connected to the war in Gaza."

Why is attacking Jews in Sweden an "anti-Israel" attack?!?  angry angry angry

"and "Hitler" was mockingly chanted in the streets by masked men. , , , "This new hatred comes from Muslim immigrants. The Jewish people are afraid now."  Malmo's Jews, however, do not just point the finger at bigoted Muslims and their fellow racists in the country's Neo-Nazi fringe. They also accuse Ilmar Reepalu, the Left-wing mayor who has been in power for 15 years, of failing to protect them. Mr Reepalu, who is blamed for lax policing, is at the centre of a growing controversy for saying that what the Jews perceive as naked anti-Semitism is in fact just a sad, but understandable consequence of Israeli policy in the Middle East. While his views are far from unusual on the European liberal-left, which is often accused of a pro-Palestinian bias, his Jewish critics say they encourage young Muslim hotheads to abuse and harass them."

Exactly so.
23385  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Showerheads on: February 23, 2010, 08:38:42 AM
Second post:

Is Your Shower Water Dangerous?


A recent study reported that in some communities people regularly shower with a dangerous microbe called Mycobacterium avium -- a cousin of the tuberculosis-causing bacteria and one that is quite infectious in its own right.

The University of Colorado-Boulder study is part of a larger research project focused on bacteria we’re exposed to in daily life. This particular study examined showerheads because they provide ideal conditions for the formation of slimy biofilms -- an assemblage of bacteria that attach themselves to a surface and excrete a protective mesh layer around themselves (dental plaque is an example), making them difficult to eradicate. Theorizing that the shower might be the point of entry for this infection, lead researcher Leah Feazel told me that researchers collected samples from the insides of 45 showerheads in nine US cities one, two or three times over two and one-half years. They found M. avium in both Denver and New York showerheads.

Confirming the finding, small amounts of M. avium were also detected in the water systems in both Denver and New York City. In those cities, the concentration of Mycobacteria (of which M. avium is one species) in some showerheads was more than 100 times that in the background water. Researchers theorize that this happened because the biofilms were able to establish colonies of such significant size that they could not be dislodged even by water regularly flowing through. Both municipalities treat their water systems with chlorine, ostensibly to eradicate such dangers, but M. avium are known to be resistant, so the bacteria that survive become even stronger. Since many species of Mycobacteria have been implicated in respiratory and other kinds of infections, this is a cause for concern.

Why Showers Are Especially Risky

M. avium is common in soil and water, but it’s especially dangerous in showerheads because it is dispersed in aerosol form, which is inhaled and can travel deep into the lungs. Like its relative, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, M. aviumprimarily causes lung disease, but it has also been known to cause digestive and lymphatic system infections. According to Feazel, M. avium infections are rare in people with healthy immune systems and "fairly rare" among the immune-compromised -- but they’re on the rise here in the US as well as in the rest of the developed world. The infections caused by M. avium can lead to especially severe illness for people with compromised immune systems, often requiring antibiotic treatment that may be only marginally effective.

How to Be Sure You’re Safe

Since M. avium is so difficult to kill, individuals known to be immune deficient -- including pregnant women... people with asthma or bronchitis... those who’ve had an organ transplant... and those with cancer or other chronic disease -- should ask their doctors whether they should bathe instead of showering. Alternatively, Feazel suggests that people with compromised immune systems would do well to change their showerheads every six months (researchers found no M. avium in showerheads less than six months old) and to choose metal ones, which are less hospitable to biofilms than plastic.


Source(s):
Leah M. Feazel was the lead researcher on the showerhead study. She was head technician at the Pace Laboratory, University of Colorado-Boulder, and is currently a graduate student in Environmental Science and Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colorado.
23386  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Risks of CT Scans on: February 23, 2010, 08:34:57 AM
Do CT Scans Cause Cancer?


The last several months have presented one worrisome story after another regarding the dangers of CT scans, including more than 200 patients receiving radiation overdoses while undergoing brain scans at a California hospital... unpredictable and widespread variation in radiation dosing for cardiac scans from one hospital to the next... and a new research report revealing that the cancer risk from radiation in a CT scan may be far higher than was thought. Two studies on this topic were published in the December 2009 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. One of the studies reports that just one scan can deliver enough radiation to cause cancer and predicts that 29,000 new cancers will develop that can be linked to CT scans received in just the year 2007. Making matters much worse is the fact that the use of CT scans in medicine has grown explosively -- more than tripling in the US since the 1990s, with more than 70 million given each year.

Where it was previously thought that only those who underwent numerous scans were in danger, the second of the published studies shows that having had even one can boost cancer risk notably -- for example, a heart scan at age 40 would later result in cancer in one in 270 women and one in 600 men. Abdominal and pelvic CT scans raise the risk for cancer more than brain scans, and the risk is far greater in younger patients, especially children.

The same researchers also noted huge variability in how much radiation patients get, with some patients getting 10 or more times as much radiation as others. There are a variety of reasons for this, including equipment settings that aren’t standardized and the radiologist’s decision about how much is necessary to capture a high-quality image of a particular part of the body. Also, methods for reducing radiation, such as adjusting for the size of the patient, are underutilized. Yet another danger -- when equipment is new and unfamiliar (as was the case with the California patients who received overdoses) and technicians aren’t properly trained, the patient may receive unintended excess radiation.

This is frightening stuff -- but let’s put it in context. E. Stephen Amis, Jr., MD, chair of radiology at both the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, gave his thoughts on the risk versus reward and what people should do to protect themselves from the risks of radiation exposure in imaging procedures. He said it is important to realize that in many cases CT scan technology is truly "lifesaving" and that, when used properly, the benefits obtained by getting the comprehensive information on what’s currently wrong outweigh the future risks presented by the radiation. For instance, if you have suspected acute appendicitis or head trauma as a result of a car accident, your doctor needs to know that -- fast. Dr. Amis also pointed out that no direct evidence shows particular cancers are related to CT scans -- rather the relationship is "inferred, based on increased cancers in survivors of the atomic bombing of Japan and in those exposed to the fallout from Chernobyl (among others)."

What you need to know

The radiology community is working to get these problems under control. Meanwhile, however, it is not safe for each of us as patients to pretend these problems don’t exist while the system sorts itself out -- at best, that will take years. It is important to take steps now to minimize your risk. Here is what you can do...

Keep notes on all the scans you’ve had that you can remember(ask family members if you are unsure), including the body area and type of scan (x-ray or CT). If you have a chronic condition, such as colitis or chronic lung disease, that necessitates multiple imaging procedures, ask your doctor about other imaging options that might be a good substitute for CT scans.
Carry records with you. Keep and update a wallet-sized card listing the imaging tests that you’ve had and where and when each was done.
If and when your doctor advises you to have a CT scan, ask lots of questions. This is particularly important for tests like cardiac CT scans that may not be strictly necessary, but that your doctor may order to gather more information about your overall health. Ask about the possibility of using alternative imaging methods, such as MRI or ultrasound, neither of which uses radiation. Dr. Amis suggests using language something like this: "I’ve seen a lot of articles lately about some of these tests increasing your radiation exposure. Please tell me what knowledge you hope to gain by having me go through this CT scan. Is this test really necessary?"
Be aware of dosages. Dr. Amis also advises asking about the radiation dosage required for the specific test your doctor has prescribed, noting that sites such as RadiologyInfo.org list typical doses, comparing exposures among various types of x-ray and CT examinations. "It never hurts for patients to look at such Web sites so that they are informed," he said, advising asking the technician about the dose to be sure it is in a reasonable range.
The bottom line? Know the risks and be careful. As Dr. Amis told me, "the point is to be aware, but not overly concerned."



Do (other) Medical Tests Give You Cancer?


MRI, CT, ultrasound; these and other imaging tests are now so commonplace that we tend to take their use for granted. And indeed, these sophisticated imaging technologies have advanced medicine in previously unimaginable ways by enabling doctors to look inside our bodies. But (isn’t there always a but?), it is important to be aware that everything has its price. Among the downsides to all this testing...

Cumulative exposure to radiation from imaging tests over your lifetime increases your risk for cancer.
Imaging equipment is expensive, and doctors and hospitals may need to recoup the investment as quickly as possible. Some experts believe that overuse has been a significant contributor to our exorbitant health-care costs.
The images are not as precise as we’d like to think... in fact, in many cases, they’re actually interpretations (based on calculations performed by computer software) and not pictures at all.
All this information adds up to many instances of "false positive" results, which in turn can lead to unnecessary anxiety and stress for patients and unnecessary (and often risky) medical procedures.
To Save Yourself from Unnecessary Tests

Once again, we need to advocate for ourselves. First and foremost, do not make the assumption that every imaging test suggested by your doctors is necessary and important. Knowing something about the risks and benefits of the different types will help you discuss intelligently with your doctor what’s right for you. Having this knowledge will also help you understand and keep track of your imaging-test history so that you don’t have radiation-based exams that are redundant or for problems that could be diagnosed with a different technique.




Ultrasound (also called sonography)

Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create real-time images of organs and blood as it flows through vessels. Commonly used to monitor fetal development, ultrasound can also be used to diagnose abdominal organ abnormalities, gallbladder or kidney stones or an aneurysm in the aorta.

Pros: Ultrasound requires no ionizing radiation and, Dr. Amis said, "presents no known dangers." The scans can be done quickly. Ultrasound is among the least expensive imaging procedures, and the machines it uses are small and portable.

Cons: Ultrasound scans show less detail than CT and MRI scans, and not all structures can be visualized with this technology.

Best used for: Ultrasound is best for evaluating abdominal and reproductive organs, the developing fetus, vascular structures (such as the abdominal aorta) and joints.




Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

This procedure uses a powerful magnet and radio frequency pulses to "view" most internal body structures. It utilizes a large scanner that transmits the data to a computer, providing a detailed interpretive image of the structures in the body. Sometimes a contrast dye is used to heighten image quality. MRI is especially useful in neurological, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and oncological imaging.

Pros: MRI uses no ionizing radiation and produces sharp, high-contrast images of different tissues, especially valuable in visualizing the brain and its blood vessels.

Cons: Some people find having an MRI scan quite uncomfortable (two common complaints -- obese people don’t fit easily into the machines, and being inside can create claustrophobic feelings, for which some people require mild sedation). Scans take a long time -- often 30 minutes to an hour -- and patients must remain perfectly still and may be required to hold their breath for short periods. A small percentage of people are allergic to the contrast dye, and it’s not known whether MRI is totally safe for pregnant women. A particularly dangerous problem is that the magnets exert powerful force on anything and everything metallic that is on or in the body, and as a result, MRI scanners have been known to cause pacemakers to malfunction.

Best used for: MRI is the best choice for soft tissue imaging, including to diagnose cardiovascular disease, as well as for oncological and musculoskeletal imaging.




X-ray

These are created by sending beams of radiation through the area of concern to capture an image on photographic film -- or these days, more typically on a digital image recording plate. To obtain real-time images of functioning organs or blood vessels, X-ray technology is sometimes combined with contrast dyes injected into the body (called fluoroscopy).

Pros: X-ray technology is relatively inexpensive, is easy to use and produces high-resolution images of bone with less radiation than CT scan.

Cons: The type of radiation used, called ionizing radiation, is carcinogenic, albeit weakly. The radiation accumulates over the course of a lifetime, and excessive doses are believed to increase risk for cancer.

Best used for: X-ray is typically the first choice for diagnosing or monitoring calcium-dense tissue (broken bones, dental cavities) and pneumonia and other chest diseases.




Computed Tomography (CT or CAT scan)

A CT scan is like an X-ray taken to the next level. The patient lies on a table that moves through a machine as numerous X-ray beams and electronic detectors rotate, following a spiral path, around the body. Computers use the resulting data to create two-dimensional cross-sectional views of parts of the body -- these can be further manipulated to create multidimensional views as well. CT scans are most widely used for diagnosing causes of abdominal pain, diseases of internal organs and injuries to the liver, spleen, etc.

Pros: Scans can be completed in a matter of seconds, making CT scans indispensable in emergencies. CT scans produce very detailed images of bone, soft tissue and blood vessels, and can be used in patients with pacemakers and other metallic implants.

Cons: CT scan delivers higher doses of ionizing radiation than X-ray... so with multiple scans, in particular, cancer risk is increased. X-rays, including CT scans, are not recommended for pregnant women -- in emergencies, however, they may be required.

Best used for: CT scan is the imaging test doctors use for diagnosing severe headache, chest pain, abdominal pain and trauma and generally in emergency-room settings. This technology is also often used for diagnostic "work-ups" for cancer, stroke and brain problems, among other illnesses and injuries.




Nuclear imaging

In nuclear imaging, patients are injected with (or, alternately, ingest or inhale) a minute amount of radioactive material. A scanner or camera is then used to gather images from specific organs in the body. The process is similar to an X-ray, but the radiation beams emanate from the inside out, which enables doctors to see clearly what’s deep inside the body. This technique is often used to diagnose or measure the progression of specific diseases, such as cancer or cardiovascular disease.

Pros: Nuclear images provide a view that no other technique can obtain.

Cons: It can take hours or days for the radioactive tracer to accumulate in the body and then additional hours to perform the imaging test. Image resolution may not be as clear as those taken with other forms of imaging. Though the radioactive contrast material is designed to exit the body via the urine or stool within a day or two, the radioactive waste then remains in leaching fields and septic systems and is unaffected by sewage treatment methods, so there are concerns about the cumulative environmental impact of this particular form of imaging. Also, it’s quite rare, but some patients have reactions to injected materials -- typically these are mild, though severe reactions have been reported.




Informed Decision Making

Patients aren’t the ones who should demand one type of imaging test over another -- even doctors, when they are patients, take counsel from their physicians. But, as a patient, you absolutely should feel comfortable questioning your doctors about the risks and benefits -- and necessity -- of any imaging study.

Important: Always bring up the scans you’ve had before -- the type, how many and what they were for -- so that your doctor can make an informed recommendation about what you need next. If you’re interested in learning more about imaging techniques, Dr. Amis recommends visiting RadiologyInfo.org, which is co-sponsored by the American College of Radiology and the Radiological Society of North America.

23387  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / trade, commerce on: February 23, 2010, 08:32:38 AM
second post of the day:
========


"I think all the world would gain by setting commerce at perfect liberty." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, 1785

"Harmony, liberal intercourse with all Nations, are recommended by policy, humanity and interest. But even our Commercial policy should  hold an equal and impartial hand: neither seeking nor granting exclusive favours or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of Commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing with Powers so disposed; in order to give trade a stable course." --George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796

"Measures which serve to abridge the free competition of foreign Articles, have a tendency to occasion an enhancement of prices." --Alexander Hamilton, Report on Manufactures, 1791
23388  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: February 23, 2010, 08:29:16 AM
I just noticed this book report of more than a year ago on the Books thread and paste it here:

=======
The Trouble With Thomas Jefferson
The eloquent Founder's original sin

Damon W. Root | January 2009 Print Edition

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, by Annette Gordon-Reed, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 800 pages, $35

In 1775 the English essayist and lexicographer Samuel Johnson wrote a spirited political pamphlet titled Taxation No Tyranny. His subject was the loud and increasingly aggressive rhetoric coming from the American colonies, where criticism of British economic policy was giving way to calls for popular revolution. “How is it,” Johnson retorted, “that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?”

It’s still a good question. Perhaps no one illustrates the paradox better than Thomas Jefferson. The celebrated author of the Declaration of Independence, which famously declares that “all men are created equal” and are born with the inalienable rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Jefferson was also a slaveholder, a man whose livelihood was rooted in the subjugation of hundreds of human beings, including members of his wife’s family and his own.

At the center of Jefferson’s tangled, frequently horrifying web of blood and bondage were two women: Elizabeth Hemings and her daughter Sarah, better known as Sally. Elizabeth, the daughter of an African slave and an English sea captain, was the slave mistress of a Virginia slave owner and broker named John Wayles. Sally Hemings was the youngest of their six children. Wayles also had children from his three marriages, including a daughter named Martha. Sally Hemings, in other words, was Martha Wayles’ half-sister. At her father’s death in 1773, Martha inherited his human property, including Elizabeth and Sally Hemings. In 1772 Martha married Thomas Jefferson. Thus the Hemingses came to Monticello.

In 1782 Martha died from complications after giving birth to her sixth child with Jefferson. Among those with him at her deathbed were Elizabeth and Sally Hemings, who then was 9 years old. Edmund Bacon, one of Jefferson’s overseers at Monticello, reported that as Martha lay dying she asked her husband not to remarry. “Holding her hand, Mr. Jefferson promised her solemnly that he would never marry again,” Bacon recalled. “And he never did.”

That doesn’t mean Jefferson became celibate. In 1789, while serving as U.S. envoy in Paris, he almost certainly began a four-decade-long relationship with his late wife’s half-sister. (In addition to the oral testimony of numerous Hemings family members, the evidence for their relationship includes DNA tests conducted in 1998 establishing that a Jefferson family male fathered Sally Hemings’ son Eston.) At this point Sally Hemings was 16.

It was an affair the historian Edmund S. Morgan has called a “monogamous spousal relationship.” In her extraordinary new book The Hemingses of Monticello, Annette Gordon-Reed, a professor of history at Rutgers University and a professor of law at New York Law School, uses a more specific term: concubine, which Virginia law defined at the time as a woman living with a man who was not her husband. If Sally Hemings were white, we might describe her relationship with Jefferson as a common-law marriage. But as Gordon-Reed reminds us, “Any black woman who lived with a white man could only have been his concubine. It was legally impossible to be anything else.”

This relationship apparently lasted until Jefferson’s death in 1826, by which time Hemings had given birth to seven of his children, four of whom survived into adulthood. In his will, Jefferson formally emancipated two of them, James Madison Hemings and Thomas Eston Hemings. The other two, William Beverly Hemings and Harriet Hemings, simply left Monticello on their own in the early 1820s to live—“pass”—as white. (All three males, it’s worth noting, were named after men Jefferson knew or admired, a common practice among Virginia’s planter elites.) Eight years after Jefferson’s death, his daughter Martha Randolph quietly freed Sally Hemings, who was then 53 years old. Why didn’t Jefferson emancipate her too? “Formally freeing Hemings,” Gordon-Reed observes, “while also emancipating two people obviously young enough to be their children, would have told the story of his life over the past thirty-eight years quite well.”

Among the many achievements of Gordon-Reed’s compelling, if slightly repetitive, book is her vivid illumination of these previously hidden lives. She persuasively argues that Hemings exacted a promise from Jefferson that proved no less momentous than the one he had granted his dying wife. In essence, 16-year-old Hemings, who was pregnant with Jefferson’s child and working as his domestic “servant” in Paris, chose to return to America with him, rather than remain in France, where she could have formally received her freedom. (By law any slave that set foot on French soil was automatically free.) She did so because Jefferson promised to emancipate her children when they became adults—a promise he kept. In exchange, she lived as his concubine. “Like other enslaved people when the all too rare chance presented itself,” Gordon-Reed writes, “Hemings seized her moment and used the knowledge of her rights to make a decision based upon what she thought was best for her as a woman, family member, and a potential mother in her specific circumstances.”

Jefferson apparently cared for Sally Hemings and their children, and he clearly treated members of her family (some of who were also his deceased wife’s family) with much consideration. Elizabeth Hemings, for instance, became something of a revered matriarch. Her sons Robert and James (brothers to Sally Hemings and Martha Jefferson) received instruction in the skilled trades of barbering and cooking, respectively.

Both were permitted to work for private wages, and both enjoyed relative freedom of movement outside of Monticello—so long as they came running at their master’s command, of course. “Despite their status on the law books,” Gordon-Reed writes, “Jefferson treated them, to a degree, as if they were lower-class white males.” Eventually, Jefferson freed them both.

But let’s not draw too rosy a picture. As part of the marriage settlement for his sister Anna, Jefferson handed over the slave Nancy Hemings (another of Elizabeth Hemings’ offspring, though not by John Wayles) and her two children. When Anna’s husband decided to sell these three slaves, Nancy Hemings implored Jefferson to buy them back so they could remain together as a family. Jefferson bought Nancy, an expert weaver, and her young daughter, but refused to buy her son. The family was split apart. “No matter how ‘close’ the Hemingses were to Jefferson, no matter that he viewed some of them in a different light and did not subject them to certain hardships,” Gordon-Reed writes, “their family remained a commodity that could be sold or exchanged at his will.”

Which brings us back to Samuel Johnson and his quip about slaveholders yelping for liberty. Does the fact that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves—probably including his own children—negate the wonderful things he wrote about inalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence? To put it another way, why should anyone listen to what Master Jefferson (or other slaveholding Founders) had to say about liberty and equality?

It’s important to remember that the idea of inalienable rights didn’t start or stop in the year 1776. The historian Gordon S. Wood, in his superb 1991 book The Radicalism of the American Revolution, argues that “to focus, as we are apt to do, on what the Revolution did not accomplish—highlighting and lamenting its failure to abolish slavery and change fundamentally the lot of women—is to miss the great significance of what it did accomplish.” In Wood’s view, by destroying monarchical rule and replacing it with republicanism, the American revolutionaries “made possible the anti-slavery and women’s rights movements of the nineteenth century and in fact all our current egalitarian thinking.” They upended “their societies as well as their governments…only they did not know—they could scarcely have imagined—how much of their society they would change.”

As evidence, consider two very different figures whose lives intersected with slavery in the 19th century: the abolitionist Frederick Douglass and the pro-slavery politician John C. Calhoun. An escaped slave and self-taught author and orator, Douglass understood better than most just how potent the Declaration’s promise of inalienable rights could be. “Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? That he is the rightful owner of his own body?” Douglass would demand of his mostly white audiences. “There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.”

Calhoun, by contrast, believed the Declaration’s assertion that “all men are created equal” was “the most dangerous of all political error.” As he put it in an 1848 speech, “For a long time it lay dormant; but in the process of time it began to germinate, and produce its poisonous fruits.” This false notion of equality, Calhoun continued, “had strong hold on the mind of Mr. Jefferson…which caused him to take an utterly false view of the subordinate relation of the black to the white race in the South; and to hold, in consequence, that the former, though utterly unqualified to possess liberty, were as fully entitled to both liberty and equality as the latter.”

Think about what Calhoun is saying here. The idea that “all men are created equal” has slowly developed in the American consciousness, producing the “poisonous fruits” of the anti-slavery movement. Jefferson may or may not have intended such an outcome; he certainly did little actively to bring it about, though he did denounce slavery and its brutalizing impact on white society. But the libertarian ideas that inspired Jefferson, the ones coursing through the Declaration of Independence and later through the Constitution, nonetheless did bring it about. Douglass welcomed that result; Calhoun despised it.

That’s why Jefferson’s words matter. In spite of his despicable actions, he gave eloquent and resounding voice to the ideas that have been at the forefront of human liberty for hundreds of years. That members of the Hemings family may have heard such rhetoric while they lived in bondage further highlights the tragedy of their terrible situation. Thanks to Annette Gordon-Reed, these forgotten and silent individuals at least have the opportunity to register their own verdicts on this shameful period.

Damon W. Root is an associate editor of reason.

23389  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spring 2010 DB Tribal Gathering on: February 23, 2010, 08:26:17 AM
John:

At your convenience, please give me a call at the phone numbers I just emailed you.
23390  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: February 23, 2010, 12:07:33 AM
Looks like we are going to need more Yitta Schwartzes:

Jews leave Swedish city after sharp rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes

Sweden's reputation as a tolerant, liberal nation is being threatened by a steep rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes in the city of Malmo.

By Nick Meo in Malmo, Sweden
Published: 7:30AM GMT 21 Feb 2010


When she first arrived in Sweden after her rescue from a Nazi concentration camp, Judith Popinski was treated with great kindness.

She raised a family in the city of Malmo, and for the next six decades lived happily in her adopted homeland - until last year.


In 2009, a chapel serving the city's 700-strong Jewish community was set ablaze. Jewish cemeteries were repeatedly desecrated, worshippers were abused on their way home from prayer, and "Hitler" was mockingly chanted in the streets by masked men.

"I never thought I would see this hatred again in my lifetime, not in Sweden anyway," Mrs Popinski told The Sunday Telegraph.

"This new hatred comes from Muslim immigrants. The Jewish people are afraid now."

Malmo's Jews, however, do not just point the finger at bigoted Muslims and their fellow racists in the country's Neo-Nazi fringe. They also accuse Ilmar Reepalu, the Left-wing mayor who has been in power for 15 years, of failing to protect them.

Mr Reepalu, who is blamed for lax policing, is at the centre of a growing controversy for saying that what the Jews perceive as naked anti-Semitism is in fact just a sad, but understandable consequence of Israeli policy in the Middle East.

While his views are far from unusual on the European liberal-left, which is often accused of a pro-Palestinian bias, his Jewish critics say they encourage young Muslim hotheads to abuse and harass them.

The future looks so bleak that by one estimate, around 30 Jewish families have already left for Stockholm, England or Israel, and more are preparing to go.

With its young people planning new lives elsewhere, the remaining Jewish households, many of whom are made up of Holocaust survivors and their descendants, fear they will soon be gone altogether. Mrs Popinski, an 86-year-old widow, said she has even encountered hostility when invited to talk about the Holocaust in schools.

"Muslim schoolchildren often ignore me now when I talk about my experiences in the camps," she said. "It is because of what their parents tell them about Jews. The hatreds of the Middle East have come to Malmo. Schools in Muslim areas of the city simply won't invite Holocaust survivors to speak any more."

Hate crimes, mainly directed against Jews, doubled last year with Malmo's police recording 79 incidents and admitting that far more probably went unreported. As of yet, no direct attacks on people have been recorded but many Jews believe it is only a matter of time in the current climate.

The city's synagogue has guards and rocket-proof glass in the windows, while the Jewish kindergarten can only be reached through thick steel security doors.

It is a far cry from the city Mrs Popinski arrived in 65 years ago, half-dead from starvation and typhus.

At Auschwitz she had been separated from her Polish family, all of whom were murdered. She escaped the gas chambers after being sent as a slave labourer. Then she was moved to a womens' concentration camp, Ravensbrück, from where she was then evacuated in a release deal negotiated between the Swedish Red Cross and senior Nazis, who were by then trying to save their own lives.

After the war, just as liberal Sweden took in Jews who survived the Holocaust as a humanitarian act, it also took in new waves of refugees from tyranny and conflicts in the Middle East. Muslims are now estimated to make up about a fifth of Malmo's population of nearly 300,000.

"This new hatred from a group 40,000-strong is focused on a small group of Jews," Mrs Popinski said, speaking in a sitting room filled with paintings and Persian carpets.

"Some Swedish politicians are letting them do it, including the mayor. Of course the Muslims have more votes than the Jews."

The worst incident was last year during Israel's brief war in Gaza, when a small demonstration in favour of Israel was attacked by a screaming mob of Arabs and Swedish leftists, who threw bottles and firecrackers as the police looked on.

"I haven't seen hatred like that for decades," Mrs Popinski said. "It reminded me of what I saw in my youth. Jews feel vulnerable here now."

The problem is becoming an embarrassment for the Social Democrats, the mayor's party.

Their national leader Mona Sahlin - the woman who is likely to become the next prime minister after an election later this year - last week travelled to Malmo to meet Jewish leaders, which they took to be a sign that at last politicians are waking to their plight. After the meeting, the mayor, Mr Reepalu, also promised to meet them.

A former architect, he has been credited with revitalising Malmo from a half-derelict shipbuilding centre into a vibrant, prosperous city with successful IT and biotech sectors.

His city was - until recently at least - a shining multicultural success story, and has taken in proportionally more refugees than anywhere else in Sweden, a record of which it is proud.

Sweden has had a long record of offering a safe haven to Jews, the first of whom arrived from the east in the mid-nineteenth century. Today the Jewish population is about 18,000 nationally, with around 3000 in southern Sweden.

The mayor insisted to The Sunday Telegraph that he was opposed to anti-Semitism, but added: "I believe these are anti-Israel attacks, connected to the war in Gaza.

"We want Malmo to be cosmopolitan and safe for everybody and we have taken action. I have started a dialogue forum. There haven't been any attacks on Jewish people, and if Jews from the city want to move to Israel that is not a matter for Malmo."

Sweden has had a long record of offering a safe haven to Jews, the first of whom arrived from the east in the mid-nineteenth century. Today the Jewish population is about 18,000 nationally, with around 3000 in southern Sweden.

“Jews came to Sweden to get away from persecution, and now they find it is no longer a safe haven,” said Rabbi Shneur Kesselman, 31. “That is a horrible feeling.”

One who has had enough is Marcus Eilenberg, a 32-year-old Malmo-born lawyer, who is moving to Israel in April with his young family.

"Malmo has really changed in the past year," he said. "I am optimistic by nature, but I have no faith in a future here for my children. There is definitely a threat.

"It started during the Gaza war when Jewish demonstrators were attacked. It was a horrible feeling, being attacked in your own city. Just as bad was the realisation that we were not being protected by our own leaders."

Mr Eilenberg said he and his wife considered moving to Stockholm where Jews feel safer than in Malmo. "But we decided not to because in five years time I think it will be just as bad there," he said.

"This is happening all over Europe. I have cousins who are leaving their homes in Amsterdam and France for the same reason as me."

Malmo's Jews are not the only ones to suffer hate crimes.

At the city's Islamic Centre, the director Bejzat Becirov pointed out a bullet hole in the window behind the main reception desk.

Mr Becirov, who arrived in 1962 from the former Yugoslavia, said that windows were regularly smashed, pig's heads had been left outside the mosque, and outbuildings burnt down - probably the acts of Neo-Nazis who have also baited Jews in the past.

He said that the harassment of Jews by some young Muslims was "embarrassing" to his community. Many of them are unemployed and confined to life on bleak estates where the Scandinavian dream of prosperity and equality seemed far away.

For many of Malmo's white Swedish population, meanwhile, the racial problems are bewildering after years of liberal immigration policies.

"I first encountered race hatred when I was an au pair in England and I was shocked," said Mrs Popinski's friend Ulla-Lena Cavling, 72, a retired teacher.

"I thought 'this couldn't happen in Sweden'. Now I know otherwise."

23391  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jews fleeing Malmo, Sweden on: February 23, 2010, 12:05:49 AM
Jews leave Swedish city after sharp rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes

Sweden's reputation as a tolerant, liberal nation is being threatened by a steep rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes in the city of Malmo.

By Nick Meo in Malmo, Sweden
Published: 7:30AM GMT 21 Feb 2010


When she first arrived in Sweden after her rescue from a Nazi concentration camp, Judith Popinski was treated with great kindness.

She raised a family in the city of Malmo, and for the next six decades lived happily in her adopted homeland - until last year.


In 2009, a chapel serving the city's 700-strong Jewish community was set ablaze. Jewish cemeteries were repeatedly desecrated, worshippers were abused on their way home from prayer, and "Hitler" was mockingly chanted in the streets by masked men.

"I never thought I would see this hatred again in my lifetime, not in Sweden anyway," Mrs Popinski told The Sunday Telegraph.

"This new hatred comes from Muslim immigrants. The Jewish people are afraid now."

Malmo's Jews, however, do not just point the finger at bigoted Muslims and their fellow racists in the country's Neo-Nazi fringe. They also accuse Ilmar Reepalu, the Left-wing mayor who has been in power for 15 years, of failing to protect them.

Mr Reepalu, who is blamed for lax policing, is at the centre of a growing controversy for saying that what the Jews perceive as naked anti-Semitism is in fact just a sad, but understandable consequence of Israeli policy in the Middle East.

While his views are far from unusual on the European liberal-left, which is often accused of a pro-Palestinian bias, his Jewish critics say they encourage young Muslim hotheads to abuse and harass them.

The future looks so bleak that by one estimate, around 30 Jewish families have already left for Stockholm, England or Israel, and more are preparing to go.

With its young people planning new lives elsewhere, the remaining Jewish households, many of whom are made up of Holocaust survivors and their descendants, fear they will soon be gone altogether. Mrs Popinski, an 86-year-old widow, said she has even encountered hostility when invited to talk about the Holocaust in schools.

"Muslim schoolchildren often ignore me now when I talk about my experiences in the camps," she said. "It is because of what their parents tell them about Jews. The hatreds of the Middle East have come to Malmo. Schools in Muslim areas of the city simply won't invite Holocaust survivors to speak any more."

Hate crimes, mainly directed against Jews, doubled last year with Malmo's police recording 79 incidents and admitting that far more probably went unreported. As of yet, no direct attacks on people have been recorded but many Jews believe it is only a matter of time in the current climate.

The city's synagogue has guards and rocket-proof glass in the windows, while the Jewish kindergarten can only be reached through thick steel security doors.

It is a far cry from the city Mrs Popinski arrived in 65 years ago, half-dead from starvation and typhus.

At Auschwitz she had been separated from her Polish family, all of whom were murdered. She escaped the gas chambers after being sent as a slave labourer. Then she was moved to a womens' concentration camp, Ravensbrück, from where she was then evacuated in a release deal negotiated between the Swedish Red Cross and senior Nazis, who were by then trying to save their own lives.

After the war, just as liberal Sweden took in Jews who survived the Holocaust as a humanitarian act, it also took in new waves of refugees from tyranny and conflicts in the Middle East. Muslims are now estimated to make up about a fifth of Malmo's population of nearly 300,000.

"This new hatred from a group 40,000-strong is focused on a small group of Jews," Mrs Popinski said, speaking in a sitting room filled with paintings and Persian carpets.

"Some Swedish politicians are letting them do it, including the mayor. Of course the Muslims have more votes than the Jews."

The worst incident was last year during Israel's brief war in Gaza, when a small demonstration in favour of Israel was attacked by a screaming mob of Arabs and Swedish leftists, who threw bottles and firecrackers as the police looked on.

"I haven't seen hatred like that for decades," Mrs Popinski said. "It reminded me of what I saw in my youth. Jews feel vulnerable here now."

The problem is becoming an embarrassment for the Social Democrats, the mayor's party.

Their national leader Mona Sahlin - the woman who is likely to become the next prime minister after an election later this year - last week travelled to Malmo to meet Jewish leaders, which they took to be a sign that at last politicians are waking to their plight. After the meeting, the mayor, Mr Reepalu, also promised to meet them.

A former architect, he has been credited with revitalising Malmo from a half-derelict shipbuilding centre into a vibrant, prosperous city with successful IT and biotech sectors.

His city was - until recently at least - a shining multicultural success story, and has taken in proportionally more refugees than anywhere else in Sweden, a record of which it is proud.

Sweden has had a long record of offering a safe haven to Jews, the first of whom arrived from the east in the mid-nineteenth century. Today the Jewish population is about 18,000 nationally, with around 3000 in southern Sweden.

The mayor insisted to The Sunday Telegraph that he was opposed to anti-Semitism, but added: "I believe these are anti-Israel attacks, connected to the war in Gaza.

"We want Malmo to be cosmopolitan and safe for everybody and we have taken action. I have started a dialogue forum. There haven't been any attacks on Jewish people, and if Jews from the city want to move to Israel that is not a matter for Malmo."

Sweden has had a long record of offering a safe haven to Jews, the first of whom arrived from the east in the mid-nineteenth century. Today the Jewish population is about 18,000 nationally, with around 3000 in southern Sweden.

“Jews came to Sweden to get away from persecution, and now they find it is no longer a safe haven,” said Rabbi Shneur Kesselman, 31. “That is a horrible feeling.”

One who has had enough is Marcus Eilenberg, a 32-year-old Malmo-born lawyer, who is moving to Israel in April with his young family.

"Malmo has really changed in the past year," he said. "I am optimistic by nature, but I have no faith in a future here for my children. There is definitely a threat.

"It started during the Gaza war when Jewish demonstrators were attacked. It was a horrible feeling, being attacked in your own city. Just as bad was the realisation that we were not being protected by our own leaders."

Mr Eilenberg said he and his wife considered moving to Stockholm where Jews feel safer than in Malmo. "But we decided not to because in five years time I think it will be just as bad there," he said.

"This is happening all over Europe. I have cousins who are leaving their homes in Amsterdam and France for the same reason as me."

Malmo's Jews are not the only ones to suffer hate crimes.

At the city's Islamic Centre, the director Bejzat Becirov pointed out a bullet hole in the window behind the main reception desk.

Mr Becirov, who arrived in 1962 from the former Yugoslavia, said that windows were regularly smashed, pig's heads had been left outside the mosque, and outbuildings burnt down - probably the acts of Neo-Nazis who have also baited Jews in the past.

He said that the harassment of Jews by some young Muslims was "embarrassing" to his community. Many of them are unemployed and confined to life on bleak estates where the Scandinavian dream of prosperity and equality seemed far away.

For many of Malmo's white Swedish population, meanwhile, the racial problems are bewildering after years of liberal immigration policies.

"I first encountered race hatred when I was an au pair in England and I was shocked," said Mrs Popinski's friend Ulla-Lena Cavling, 72, a retired teacher.

"I thought 'this couldn't happen in Sweden'. Now I know otherwise."

23392  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: February 22, 2010, 05:41:14 PM
"Our man formerly in Iraq" forwarded the following to me:

=======
The below excerpt came from a Washington Post article the other day. 
 
This basically mirrors my experience in obtaining info for my Colombia and Iraq missions.  That the best info I came across came was from the foreign news bureau correspondents of Washington Post, New York Times, and NPR:
 
 
Military launches Afghanistan intelligence-gathering mission

By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, February 20, 2010; A12


KABUL -- On their first day of class in Afghanistan, the new U.S. intelligence analysts were given a homework assignment.
First read a six-page classified military intelligence report about the situation in Spin Boldak, a key border town and smuggling route in southern Afghanistan. Then read a 7,500-word article in Harper's magazine, also about Spin Boldak and the exploits of its powerful Afghan border police commander.
 
The conclusion they were expected to draw: The important information would be found in the magazine story. The scores of spies and analysts producing reams of secret documents were not cutting it.
 
"They need help," Capt. Matt Pottinger, a military intelligence officer, told the class. "And that's what you're going to be doing."
 
The class that began Friday in plywood hut B-8 on a military base in Kabul marked a first step in what U.S. commanders envision as a major transformation in how intelligence is gathered and used in the war against the Taliban.
 
Last month, Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the top U.S. military intelligence officer in Afghanistan, published a scathing critique of the quality of information at his disposal. Instead of understanding the nuances of local politics, economics, religion and culture that drive the insurgency, he said, the multibillion-dollar industry devoted nearly all its effort to digging up dirt on insurgent groups.
 
"Eight years into the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy," he wrote in a paper co-authored by Pottinger and another official and published by the Center for a New American Security.

23393  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: February 22, 2010, 01:57:57 PM
I enjoyed that one.
23394  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: February 22, 2010, 01:45:40 PM
Grateful for a small hike on a nice SoCal morning.
23395  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Glen Beck on: February 22, 2010, 11:24:38 AM
Glenn closes the CPAC!!!  cool cool cool

http://www.c-span.org/Watch/Media/2010/02/20/HP/R/29845/Beck+wrapped+up+CPAC+conference.aspx
23396  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: February 22, 2010, 10:28:09 AM
http://www.michaelyon-online.com/whispers.htm
23397  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Walter Williams on: February 22, 2010, 10:12:46 AM
"Suppose you suggest to a congressman that given our budget crisis, we could save some money by dispensing with the 2010 census. I guarantee you that he'll say something along the lines that the Constitution mandates a decennial counting of the American people and he would be absolutely right. Article I, Section 2 of our Constitution reads: 'The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.' What purpose did the Constitution's framers have in mind ordering an enumeration or count of the American people every 10 years? The purpose of the headcount is to apportion the number of seats in the House of Representatives and derived from that, along with two senators from each state, the number of electors to the Electoral College. The Census Bureau tells us that this year, it will use a shorter questionnaire, consisting of only 10 questions. From what I see, only one of them serves the constitutional purpose of enumeration -- namely, 'How many people were living or staying at this house, apartment or mobile home on April 1, 2010?' The Census Bureau's shorter questionnaire claim is deceptive at best. The American Community Survey, long form, that used to be sent to 1 in 6 households during the decennial count, is now being sent to many people every year. Here's a brief sample of its questions, and I want someone to tell me which question serves the constitutional function of apportioning the number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives: Does this house, apartment, or mobile home have hot and cold running water, a flush toilet, a bathtub or shower, a sink with a faucet, a refrigerator, a stove? Last month, what was the cost of electricity for this house, apartment, or mobile home? How many times has this person been married? After each question, the Bureau of the Census provides a statement of how the answer meets a federal need. I would prefer that they provide a statement of how answers to the questions meet the constitutional need as expressed in Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. ... Americans need to stand up to Washington's intrusion into our private lives. ... Unless a census taker can show me a constitutional requirement, the only information I plan to give are the number and names of the people in my household." --economist Walter E. Williams
23398  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Steyn: Why the west is going down the drain on: February 22, 2010, 08:32:00 AM


Why the West is going down the drain

By Mark Steyn


News from around the world:

In Britain, it is traditional on Shrove Tuesday to hold pancake races, in which contestants run while flipping a pancake in a frying pan. The appeal of the event depends on the potential pitfalls in attempting simultaneous rapid forward propulsion and pancake tossing. But, in St. Albans, England, competitors were informed by Health & Safety officials that they were "banned from running due to fears they would slip over in the rain." Watching a man walk up the main street with a skillet is not the most riveting event, even in St. Albans. In the heat of the white-knuckle thrills, team captain David Emery momentarily forgot the new rules. "I have been disqualified from a running race for running," he explained afterwards.

In Canada, Karen Selick told readers of The Ottawa Citizen about her winter vacation in Arizona last month: "The resort suite I rented via the Internet promised a private patio with hot tub," she wrote. "Upon arrival, I found the door to my patio bolted shut. 'Entry prohibited by federal law,' read the sign. Hotel management explained that the drains in all the resort's hot tubs had recently been found not to comply with new safety regulations. Compliance costs would be astronomical. Dozens of hot tubs would instead be cemented over permanently." In the meantime, her suite had an attractive view of the federally-prohibited patio.

Anything else? Oh, yeah. In Iran, the self-declared nuclear regime announced that it was now enriching uranium to 20 percent. When President Barack Obama took office, the Islamic Republic had 400 centrifuges enriching up to 3.5 percent. A year later, it has 8,000 centrifuges enriching to 20 percent. The CIA director, Leon Panetta, now cautiously concedes that Iran's nuclear ambitions may have a military purpose. Which is odd, because the lavishly funded geniuses behind America's National Intelligence Estimate told us only two years ago that Tehran had ended its nuclear weapons program in 2003. Is that estimate no longer operative? And, if so, could we taxpayers get a refund?

This is a perfect snapshot of the West at twilight. On the one hand, governments of developed nations microregulate every aspect of your life in the interests of "keeping you safe." If you're minded to flip a pancake at speeds of more than 4 miles per hour, the state will step in and act decisively: It's for your own good. If you're a tourist from Moose Jaw, Washington will take pre-emptive action to shield you from the potential dangers of your patio in Arizona.

On the other hand, when it comes to "keeping you safe" from real threats, such as a millenarian theocracy that claims universal jurisdiction, America and its allies do nothing. There aren't going to be any sanctions, because China and Russia don't want them. That means military action, which would have to be done without U.N. backing – which, as Greg Sheridan of The Australian puts it, "would be foreign to every instinct of the Obama administration." Indeed. Nonetheless, Washington is (altogether now) "losing patience" with the mullahs. The New York Daily News reports the latest get-tough move:

"Secretary of State Clinton dared Iran on Monday to let her hold a town hall meeting in Tehran."

That's telling 'em. If the ayatollahs had a sense of humor, they'd call her bluff.

The average Canadian can survive an Arizona hot tub merely compliant with 2009 safety standards rather than 2010. The average Englishman can survive stumbling with his frying pan: You may get a nasty graze on his kneecap, but rub in some soothing pancake syrup, and you'll soon feel right as rain. Whether they – or at any rate their pampered complacent societies in which hot-tub regulation is the most pressing issue of the day – can survive a nuclear Iran is a more open question.

It is now certain that Tehran will get its nukes, and very soon. This is the biggest abdication of responsibility by the Western powers since the 1930s. It is far worse than Pakistan going nuclear, which, after all, was just another thing the CIA failed to see coming. In this case, the slow-motion nuclearization conducted in full view and through years of tortuous diplomatic charades and endlessly rescheduled looming deadlines is not just a victory for Iran but a decisive defeat for the United States. It confirms the Islamo-Sino-Russo-everybody else diagnosis of Washington as a hollow superpower that no longer has the will or sense of purpose to enforce the global order.

What does it mean? That a year or two down the line Iran will be nuking Israel? Not necessarily, although the destruction of not just the Zionist Entity but the broader West remains an explicit priority. Maybe they mean it. Maybe they don't. Maybe they'll do it directly. Maybe they'll just get one of their terrorist subcontractors to weaponize the St. Albans pancake batter. But, when you've authorized successful mob hits on Salman Rushdie's publishers and translators, when you've blown up Jewish community centers in Buenos Aires, when you've acted extra-territorially to the full extent of your abilities for 30 years, it seems prudent for the rest of us to assume that when your abilities go nuclear you'll be acting to an even fuller extent.

But, even without launching a single missile, Iran will at a stroke have transformed much of the map – and not just in the Middle East, where the Sunni dictatorships face a choice between an unsought nuclear arms race or a future as Iranian client states. In Eastern Europe, a nuclear Iran will vastly advance Russia's plans for a de facto reconstitution of its old empire: In an unstable world, Putin will offer himself as the protection racket you can rely on. And you'd be surprised how far west "Eastern" Europe extends: Moscow's strategic view is of a continent not only energy-dependent on Russia but also security-dependent. And, when every European city is within range of Tehran and other psycho states, there'll be plenty of takers for that when the alternative is an effete and feckless Washington.

It's a mistake to think that the infantilization of once-free peoples represented by the microregulatory Nanny State can be confined to pancakes and hot tubs. Consider, for example, the incisive analysis of Scott Gration, the U.S. special envoy to the mass murderers of Sudan: "We've got to think about giving out cookies," said Gration a few months back. "Kids, countries – they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement."

Actually, there's not a lot of evidence "smiley faces" have much impact on kids in the Bronx, never mind genocidal machete-wielders in Darfur. So much for the sophistication of "soft power," smiling through a hard-faced world.

So, Iran will go nuclear and formally inaugurate the post-American era. The Left and the isolationist Right reckon that's no big deal. They think of the planet as that Arizona patio and America as the hotel room. There may be an incendiary hot tub out there, but you can lock the door and hang a sign, and life will go on, albeit a little more cramped and constrained than before. I think not.

 
23399  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mosque towers to look down on Sandhurst? on: February 21, 2010, 09:49:39 PM
Giant mosque's towers 'will loom over Sandhurst' Royal (UK) Military Academy.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Giant mosque's towers 'will loom over Sandhurst'

By Dan Newling
Last updated at 12:13 AM on 22nd February 2010



Generals are trying to block plans to build a mosque with two 100ft minarets next to Sandhurst.

The £3million building would have a clear view over the military academy and is just 400 yards from its parade ground.

Senior officers oppose the project saying it could pose a security threat to cadets.


Enlarge
Objection: The MoD, backed by a petition signed by 7,000 local residents, is fighting plans to build a giant mosque overlooking Sandhurst

Yesterday an Army source said: 'This has gone right to the top of the chain of command.

'There is very real concern that if this thing gets built then soldiers could be put at risk.

'It is outrageous to even think that the officers of the future would have to watch their backs while they are still in training.'

Hundreds of newly-commissioned Army officers take to the parade ground each year for the academy's passing out ceremony.

The event attracts senior members of the Royal Family, including the Queen when her grandson Prince Harry was commissioned in 2006.



Security threat: The Queen and other senior members of the royal family are regular visitors to Sandhurst


The gigantic mosque is the idea of the Bengali Welfare Association, which worships at the al-Kharafi Islamic Centre in Camberley, Surrey.

The group wants to demolish a listed Victorian school building in use as a mosque at the centre and replace it with a sprawling Saudi Arabian-style building.

Planning papers reveal that the massive structure would tower over local buildings.

As well as the two minarets, it would feature a large central dome, five smaller outlying domes, a morgue, a library and a separate worship area for women.

The first attempt at securing planning approval led to objections from 1,000 locals. Planning officers were also opposed but Conservative-dominated Surrey Heath gave the mosque the go-ahead last month.

However, a procedural error means the application now needs to go to a full council meeting for approval.



Plan: The new mosque will be built on the site of a Victorian former school, which has been used as an Islamic centre for the last 14 years

And the Ministry of Defence - which initially had no objections - has its mind to insist that the minarets are not built.

Local MEP Nigel Farage of UKIP, who is battling the plans, said: 'I am appalled that a local council can totally ignore the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the electorate of Camberley and overturn the recommendations of planning officers.

'This building is quite simply inappropriate and gives rise to genuine security concerns.


'I know that senior military officers are extremely concerned about this. It simply cannot be allowed to go ahead.'

Alan Kirkland, a local campaigner, said: 'Local people are simply flabbergasted that 100ft high minarets can be built right next to the Royal Military Academy.


'There is obviously a security risk and there is no way that it should be built.'

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: 'Defence Estates has objected to the plans as such a tall building would give oversight into Defence property which could prove a security risk.'

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...andhurst.html#
23400  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: February 21, 2010, 06:17:37 PM
Barbour is very good in many ways, but IMHO will be too readily seen as "just another old white Republican male".  I also doublt his fighting spirit when a liberal-prgressive lynch mob gets in full-throated cry.

Newt on the other hand has a mental speed and verbal agility that can keep him from being pegged as such.  A lack of fighting spirit will not be a problem with the Newtster though methinks as his political killer instinct is well proven.  As for his foilbes in the mid 90s, as serious as some of them were,  I suspect America's concentration span and moral speciousness will not prevent him from being forgiven if he is seen as the man that we want.
Pages: 1 ... 466 467 [468] 469 470 ... 717
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!