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23501  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Early Doors recording to be released soon on: November 17, 2008, 10:57:02 AM
Early S.F. Doors show breaks on through to CD
Joel Selvin, Chronicle Senior Pop Music Critic

Monday, November 17, 2008

 
Only a few tables of curious spectators showed up at the club each night, so the musicians pretty much played for themselves. In between two weekend engagements at the Avalon Ballroom, a little-known rock group from Los Angeles called the Doors played Tuesday through Friday at a 100-seat Marina district club called the Matrix. Even the musicians might have forgotten all about the gig if the club manager hadn't decided to tape the shows.

The Doors were making their second trip to the thriving San Francisco ballroom scene in March 1967. It was an unseasonably chilly end of winter before the Summer of Love and just three months after the little-noted release of the band's now-historic debut album.

"We were on the lip of great success and we didn't know it," drummer John Densmore says. "Neither did the audience, which was very cool."

"Light My Fire" wouldn't break the group on radio for another three months, so the Doors were playing that weekend second-billed to Country Joe and the Fish at the Avalon, and almost no one showed up at their midweek Matrix engagement.

Matrix co-owner Peter Abrams had only recently installed a tape recorder in the sound booth, but it would be his custom over the next five years to record every show at the club. His tapes have been made into albums before; his live recording of the Velvet Underground is one of the few records of that landmark band's stage show. The Doors' tapes have been passed around in the underground world of bootleg recordings for years, including a set of "horrible, horrible sounding" Italian CDs that Doors producer Bruce Botnick heard.

Botnick, who has engineered and produced virtually every Doors recording in the band's history, finally dusted off the tape copies in the band's vault, cleaned them up and put together a two-CD set, "Live at the Matrix," complete with a cover by '60s San Francisco poster artist Stanley Mouse, to be released Tuesday on Rhino Records. Botnick says he thinks the Matrix tapes contain "one of their best recorded performances."

"They were young, enthusiastic, out to have fun," he says. "They experimented a lot, changed arrangements around and played things they never did before."

"We looked at it as a paid rehearsal," says guitarist Robbie Krieger. "There were five to 10 people in the club. We did it for ourselves."

The Doors first came to San Francisco in January 1967 to open for the Young Rascals and Sopwith Camel at the Fillmore Auditorium. It was the same weekend that more than 25,000 hippies filled Golden Gate Park for the Human Be-In, and the Doors were there, too.

'Changing the world'
"We thought you guys were changing the world," Densmore says.

They stayed at the Swiss American Hotel on Broadway and ate po'boy sandwiches across the street at Mike's Pool Hall. "We were baby beatniks," organist Ray Manzarek says.

Along with the San Francisco rock bands of the day, such as Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service, LSD evangelist Tim Leary urged the gathering of the tribes in the park to "turn on, tune in and drop out." There were also readings by the beat poets Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure and Gary Snyder.

"Holy cow - these are the beat icons," says Manzarek. "(Jim) Morrison and I idolized the beats."

When the band appeared that night in the scheduled engagement at the Fillmore, the musicians sensed a certain reluctance by the crowd to embrace the band, introduced as a rock group from Los Angeles - "grumble, rumble, murmur, spatter of applause, sigh of disrespect," Manzarek remembers - but Morrison insisted the band plunge right ahead, opening with the 10-minute-plus opus "When the Music's Over," and winning the crowd right from the start. Promoter Bill Graham gave the band a $100 bonus.

Three months later, the Doors returned to San Francisco for the Avalon Ballroom and the midweek Matrix engagement, checking into a Lombard Street motel.

Airplane led the way
The Matrix opened in August 1965, with the first public performance by the Jefferson Airplane - in many ways, the birth of the San Francisco scene. The band held an ownership interest in the enterprise - the surviving Doors semi-accurately remembered the club as belonging to Airplane vocalist Marty Balin - and the Airplane performed as house band during the brief, early days.

"Then the Fillmore opened and we got semi-famous," says Airplane founding member Paul Kantner, who helped paint the club.

All the San Francisco bands of the day played the former Fillmore Street pizza parlor. Artist Victor Moscoso did some of his most famous posters, highly prized by collectors, for the club. The Airplane played the band's last Matrix show in September 1966, the first night Grace Slick sang with the band. Her previous group, the Great Society, is largely remembered today through two live albums recorded by Abrams at the Matrix.

The current whereabouts of Abrams is not known to his former associates or the Doors, who tried to locate him for years. He is rumored to have sold copies of his Matrix tapes through classified ads in the back of Rolling Stone magazine during the '80s. Some 40 years ago, he gave the Doors four edited reels of the recordings - Botnick says he believes the tapes come from only two different nights - and the CD set was made from these first-generation dub copies.

A roar through the repertoire
On the earliest known live recording of the Doors, the band surges with power ("Robby was exceptionally good," says Botnick), roaring through the repertoire from the band's classic debut album with the certainty of a thousand previous performances at Sunset Strip niteries. Vocalist Morrison doesn't sound on the tapes like he thinks it's a paid rehearsal.

"The ante is upped anytime you have people there," drummer Densmore says, "even if it's only a couple. You can tell - Jim wants to say something, even to two people: 'I don't care - it will be like a pebble dropped in the water and make big circles.' "

The band played a lot of blues at the Matrix, including Allen Toussaint's "Get Out of My Life Woman" and Slim Harpo's "I'm a King Bee" that rarely turned up again in the repertoire. They did an instrumental version of "Summertime," a piece Botnick never heard the band play again. The group introduced new material that would eventually find its way to the second album - "People Are Strange," "Moonlight Drive" - while Morrison expanded and elaborated the ending of the already epic "The End" as recorded on the first album. The shadowy, echoey recording sounds like being in the dingy, rundown nightclub. The tiny room and handful of strangers in the crowd give off a palpable presence on the tape. All 10 people applaud madly.

Site's come full circle
In 2001, new owners reclaimed the bar's name - it now goes by MatrixFillmore - and some of its history. A enlargement of one of Moscoso's iridescent psychedelic posters dominates the entranceway of this sleek, upscale bar, operated by the ritzy PlumpJack restaurant firm. The entire front wall is glass now, and a modern fireplace burns away in the middle of the floor.

On a recent Wednesday night, a desultory DJ spun bluesy instrumentals from the stage in the corner to a crowd about the size the Doors drew in '67. Fewer than a dozen patrons nursed their drinks and made small talk. The dance floor was empty.

New owners have done over the floors and ceiling. The backstage where Jerry Garcia once smoked joints has been converted into an upholstered lounge. The place is not just empty of customers; something else is missing. It's squeaky clean, well-appointed, illuminated carefully. Despite the echo of the psychedelic posters on the drinks menu and the matchbooks, there isn't a trace of rock 'n' roll funk anywhere.

Outside a chilly wind whips though the foggy streets. At least the weather hasn't changed.

E-mail Joel Selvin at jselvin@sfchronicle.com.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/11/17/DD6Q13RA0V.DTL
23502  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 17, 2008, 10:55:41 AM
OTOH, a goodly percentage of the other side is this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmnpMXOpaM4&NR
23503  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: November 17, 2008, 10:46:11 AM
As long time readers around here may remember, my great hope early in the past election was that Newt would run. 
23504  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 17, 2008, 10:37:43 AM
Good Morning Rachel:

I posted the article because a) it was on point, and b) I had it at hand.  smiley  Agreed I should have put in a brief introduction/description to it (just like I so often tell GM  embarassed  cheesy )

Sorry to hear about pressures at work.  May I ask here what it is that you do?
23505  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Different sticks for training on: November 17, 2008, 10:29:05 AM
Exactly so.

I would add that in DBMA our philosophy is to be able to handle sticks of different sizes (length AND diameter) weights, etc.
23506  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington on: November 17, 2008, 10:25:11 AM
"No country upon earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings than United America. Wondrously strange, then, and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect the means and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to so plainly; I cannot believe it will ever come to pass."

—George Washington, letter to Benjamin Lincoln, June 29, 1788
23507  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: November 16, 2008, 08:24:17 PM
WW1 Combatives:

http://www.realmilitaryflix.com/public/521.cfm
23508  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The NY Times? on: November 16, 2008, 10:19:08 AM
Apart from kittying out on the missile defense in Poland and Czech, this is not what I would have expected from the NY Times , , ,
===============

A Military for a Dangerous New World
Published: November 15, 2008
NY Times editorial
As president, Barack Obama will face the most daunting and complicated national security challenges in more than a generation — and he will inherit a military that is critically ill-equipped for the task.


Troops and equipment are so overtaxed by President Bush’s disastrous Iraq war that the Pentagon does not have enough of either for the fight in Afghanistan, the war on terror’s front line, let alone to confront the next threats.

This is intolerable, especially when the Pentagon’s budget, including spending on the two wars, reached $685 billion in 2008. That is an increase of 85 percent in real dollars since 2000 and nearly equal to all of the rest of the world’s defense budgets combined. It is also the highest level in real dollars since World War II.

To protect the nation, the Obama administration will have to rebuild and significantly reshape the military. We do not minimize the difficulty of this task. Even if money were limitless, planning is extraordinarily difficult in a world with no single enemy and many dangers.

The United States and its NATO allies must be able to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan — and keep pursuing Al Qaeda forces around the world. Pentagon planners must weigh the potential threats posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions, an erratic North Korea, a rising China, an assertive Russia and a raft of unstable countries like Somalia and nuclear-armed Pakistan. And they must have sufficient troops, ships and planes to reassure allies in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

The goal is a military that is large enough and mobile enough to deter enemies. There must be no more ill-founded wars of choice like the one in Iraq. The next president must be far more willing to solve problems with creative and sustained diplomacy.

But this country must also be prepared to fight if needed. To build an effective military the next president must make some fundamental changes.

More ground forces: We believe the military needs the 65,000 additional Army troops and the 27,000 additional marines that Congress finally pushed President Bush into seeking. That buildup is projected to take at least two years; by the end the United States will have 759,000 active-duty ground troops.

That sounds like a lot, especially with the prospect of significant withdrawals from Iraq. But it would still be about 200,000 fewer ground forces than the United States had 20 years ago, during the final stages of the cold war. Less than a third of that expanded ground force would be available for deployment at any given moment.

Military experts agree that for every year active-duty troops spend in the field, they need two years at home recovering, retraining and reconnecting with their families, especially in an all-volunteer force. (The older, part-time soldiers of the National Guard and the Reserves need even more).

The Army has been so badly stretched, mainly by the Iraq war, that it has been unable to honor this one-year-out-of-three rule. Brigades have been rotated back in for second and even third combat tours with barely one year’s rest in between. Even then, the Pentagon has still had to rely far too heavily on National Guard and Reserve units to supplement the force. The long-term cost in morale, recruit quality and readiness will persist for years. Nearly one-fifth of the troops — some 300,000 men and women — have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan reporting post-traumatic stress disorders.

The most responsible prescription for overcoming these problems is a significantly larger ground force. If the country is lucky enough to need fewer troops in the field over the next few years, improving rotation ratios will still help create a higher quality military force.

New skills: America still may have to fight traditional wars against hostile regimes, but future conflicts are at least as likely to involve guerrilla insurgencies wielding terror tactics or possibly weapons of mass destruction. The Pentagon easily defeated Saddam Hussein’s army. It was clearly unprepared to handle the insurgency and then the fierce sectarian civil war that followed.

======

Page 2 of 2)



The Army has made strides in training troops for “irregular warfare.” Gen. David Petraeus has rewritten American counterinsurgency doctrine to make protecting the civilian population and legitimizing the indigenous government central tasks for American soldiers.


The new doctrine gives as much priority to dealing with civilians in conflict zones (shaping attitudes, restoring security, minimizing casualties, restoring basic services and engaging in other “stability operations”) as to combat operations.

Every soldier and marine who has served in Iraq or Afghanistan has had real world experience. But the Army’s structure and institutional bias are still weighted toward conventional war-fighting. Some experts fear that, as happened after Vietnam, the Army will in time reject the recent lessons and innovations.

For the foreseeable future, troops must be schooled in counterinsurgency and stability operations as well as more traditional fighting. And they must be prepared to sustain long-term operations.

The military also must field more specialized units, including more trainers to help friendly countries develop their own armies to supplement or replace American troops in conflict zones. It means hiring more linguists, training more special forces, and building expertise in civil affairs and cultural awareness.

Maintain mobility: In an unpredictable world with no clear battle lines, the country must ensure its ability — so-called lift capacity — to move enormous quantities of men and matériel quickly around the world and to supply them when necessary by sea.

Except in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon has reduced its number of permanent overseas bases as a way to lower America’s profile. Between 2004 and 2014, American bases abroad are expected to decline from 850 to 550. The number of troops permanently based overseas will drop to 180,000, down from 450,000 in the 1980s.

Much of the transport equipment is old and wearing out. The Pentagon will need to invest more in unglamorous but essential aircraft like long-haul cargo planes and refueling tankers. The KC-X aerial tanker got caught up in a messy contracting controversy. The new administration must move forward on plans to buy 179 new planes in a fair and open competition.

China is expanding its deep-water navy, much to the anxiety of many of its neighbors. The United States should not try to block China’s re-emergence as a great power. Neither can it cede the seas. Nor can it allow any country to interfere with vital maritime lanes.

America should maintain its investment in sealift, including Maritime Prepositioning Force ships that carry everything marines need for initial military operations (helicopter landing decks, food, water pumping equipment). It must also restock ships’ supplies that have been depleted for use in Iraq. One 2006 study predicted replenishment would cost $12 billion plus $5 billion for every additional year the marines stayed in Iraq.

The Pentagon needs to spend more on capable, smaller coastal warcraft — the littoral combat ship deserves support — and less on blue-water fighting ships.

More rational spending: What we are calling for will be expensive. Adding 92,000 ground troops will cost more than $100 billion over the next six years, and maintaining lift capacity will cost billions more. Much of the savings from withdrawing troops from Iraq will have to be devoted to repairing and rebuilding the force.

Money must be spent more wisely. If the Pentagon continues buying expensive weapons systems more suited for the cold war, it will be impossible to invest in the armaments and talents needed to prevail in the future.

There are savings to be found — by slowing or eliminating production of hugely expensive aerial combat fighters (like the F-22, which has not been used in the two current wars) and mid-ocean fighting ships with no likely near-term use. The Pentagon plans to spend $10 billion next year on an untested missile defense system in Alaska and Europe. Mr. Obama should halt deployment and devote a fraction of that budget to continued research until there is a guarantee that the system will work.

The Pentagon’s procurement system must be fixed. Dozens of the most costly weapons program are billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.

Killing a weapons program, starting a new one or carrying out new doctrine — all this takes time and political leadership. President Obama will need to quickly lay out his vision of the military this country needs to keep safe and to prevail over 21st-century threats.
23509  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Any Training Groups Near San Diego? on: November 16, 2008, 12:38:18 AM
I'd love to see you guys on Saturday.  In the meantime, how close are you to Chula Vista?

Michael Ritz and Greg Moody - Apprentice Instructor
Practical Defense Systems
Chula Vista, CA
619-213-8205
mritz@cox.net
23510  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Future? of Republican party on: November 15, 2008, 12:20:21 PM
CCP:

Very interesting article. 

May I ask you to put it in this thread?
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1736.0

thank you,
Marc
23511  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: FNG Intro / Lament for a Maverick on: November 15, 2008, 09:30:50 AM
Woof DD:

Looking forward to your contributions.

TAC!
Marc
23512  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: What's Your View on Prop 8? on: November 15, 2008, 09:27:56 AM
"Marriage means 1 man and 1 woman. Consenting adults that live outside that definition don't bother me. What bothers me is judicial tyranny that tries to alter this key element in our social structure despite the wishes of the majority in our society, even in deep blue California."

Agreed, and I will add that just as people are free to live as they wish, people are free to be grossed out by it.  What I see liberalism seeking now, through the violence of state action, is the creation of a thought crime.
23513  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AWOL Feminism part 2 on: November 14, 2008, 09:00:10 PM
Spivak?s phrase, a great favorite on campus, points to the postcolonial notion that brown men, having been victimized by the West, can never be oppressors in their own right. If they give the appearance of treating women badly, the oppression they have suffered at the hands of Western colonial masters is to blame. In fact, the worse they treat women, the more they are expressing their own justifiable outrage. ?When men are traumatized [by colonial rule], they tend to traumatize their own women,? Miriam Cooke, a Duke professor and head of the Association for Middle East Women?s Studies, told me. And today, Cooke asserts, brown men are subjected to a new form of imperialism. ?Now there is a return of colonialism that we saw in the nineteenth century in the context of globalization,? she says. ?What is driving Islamist men is globalization.?

It would be difficult to exaggerate the through-the-looking-glass quality of postcolonialist theory when it comes to the subject of women. Female suicide bombers are a good thing, because they are strong women demonstrating ?agency? against colonial powers. Polygamy too must be shown due consideration. ?Polygamy can be liberating and empowering,? Cooke answered sunnily when I asked her about it. ?Our norm is the Western, heterosexual, single couple. If we can imagine different forms that would allow us to be something other than a heterosexual couple, we might imagine polygamy working,? she explained murkily. Some women, she continued, are relieved when their husbands take a new wife: they won?t have to service him so often. Or they might find they now have the freedom to take a lover. But, I ask, wouldn?t that be dangerous in places where adulteresses can be stoned to death? At any rate, how common is that? ?I don?t know,? Cooke answers, ?I?m interested in discourse.? The irony couldn?t be darker: the very people protesting the imperialist exploitation of the ?Other? endorse that Other?s repressive customs as a means of promoting their own uniquely Western agenda?subverting the heterosexual patriarchy.

The final category in the feminist taxonomy, which might be called the world-government utopian strain, is in many respects closest to classical liberal feminism. Dedicated to full female dignity and equality, it generally eschews both the biological determinism of the gender feminist and the cultural relativism of the multiculti postcolonialist. Stanford political science professor Susan Moller Okin, an influential, subtle, and intelligent spokeswoman for this approach, created a stir among feminists in 1997 when she forthrightly attacked multiculturalists for valuing ?group rights for minority cultures? over the well-being of individual women. Okin admirably minced no words attacking arranged marriage, female circumcision, and polygamy, which she believed women experienced as a ?barely tolerable institution.? Some women, she went so far as to declare, ?might be better off if the culture into which they were born were either to become extinct . . . or preferably, to be encouraged to alter itself so as to reinforce the equality of women.?

But though Okin is less shy than other feminists about discussing the plight of women under Islamic fundamentalism, the typical U.N. utopian has her own reasons for keeping quiet as that plight fills Western headlines. For one thing, the utopian is also a bean-counting absolutist, seeking a pure, numerical equality between men and women in all departments of life. She greets Western, and particularly American, claims to have achieved freedom for women with skepticism. The motto of the 2002 International Women?s Day??Afghanistan Is Everywhere??was in part a reproach to the West about its superior airs. Women in Afghanistan might have to wear burqas, but don?t women in the West parade around in bikinis? ?It?s equally disrespectful and abusive to have women prancing around a stage in bathing suits for cash or walking the streets shrouded in burqas in order to survive,? columnist Jill Nelson wrote on the MSNBC website about the murderously fanatical riots that attended the Miss World pageant in Nigeria.

As Nelson?s statement hints, the utopian is less interested in freeing women to make their own choices than in engineering and imposing her own elite vision of a perfect society. Indeed, she is under no illusions that, left to their own democratic devices, women would freely choose the utopia she has in mind. She would not be surprised by recent Pakistani elections, where a number of the women who won parliamentary seats were Islamist. But it doesn?t really matter what women want. The universalist has a comprehensive vision of ?women?s human rights,? meaning not simply women?s civil and political rights but ?economic rights? and ?socioeconomic justice.? Cynical about free markets and globalization, the U.N. utopian is also unimpressed by the liberal democratic nation-state ?as an emancipatory institution,? in the dismissive words of J. Ann Tickner, director for international studies at the University of Southern California. Such nation-states are ?unresponsive to the needs of [their] most vulnerable members? and seeped in ?nationalist ideologies? as well as in patriarchal assumptions about autonomy. In fact, like the (usually) unacknowledged socialist that she is, the U.N. utopian eagerly awaits the withering of the nation-state, a political arrangement that she sees as tied to imperialism, war, and masculinity. During war, in particular, nations ?depend on ideas about masculinized dignity and feminized sacrifice to sustain the sense of autonomous nationhood,? writes Cynthia Enloe, professor of government at Clark University.

Having rejected the patriarchal liberal nation-state, with all the democratic machinery of self-government that goes along with it, the utopian concludes that there is only one way to achieve her goals: to impose them through international government. Utopian feminists fill the halls of the United Nations, where they examine everything through the lens of the ?gender perspective? in study after unreadable study. (My personal favorites: ?Gender Perspectives on Landmines? and ?Gender Perspectives on Weapons of Mass Destruction,? whose conclusion is that landmines and WMDs are bad for women.)

The 1979 U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), perhaps the first and most important document of feminist utopianism, gives the best sense of the sweeping nature of the movement?s ambitions. CEDAW demands many measures that anyone committed to democratic liberal values would applaud, including women?s right to vote and protection against honor killings and forced marriage. Would that the document stopped there. Instead it sets out to impose a utopian order that would erase all distinctions between men and women, a kind of revolution of the sexes from above, requiring nations to ?take all appropriate measures to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women? and to eliminate ?stereotyped roles? to accomplish this legislative abolition of biology. The document calls for paid maternity leave, nonsexist school curricula, and government-supported child care. The treaty?s 23-member enforcement committee hectors nations that do not adequately grasp that, as Enloe puts it, ?the personal is international.? The committee has cited Belarus for celebrating Mother?s Day, China for failing to legalize prostitution, and Libya for not interpreting the Qur?an in accordance with ?committee guidelines.?

Confusing ?women?s participation? with self-determination, and numerical equivalence with equality, CEDAW utopians try to orchestrate their perfect society through quotas and affirmative-action plans. Their bean-counting mentality cares about whether women participate equally, without asking what it is that they are participating in or whether their participation is anything more than ceremonial. Thus at the recent Women?s Summit in Jordan, Rima Khalaf suggested that governments be required to use quotas in elections ?to leapfrog women to power.? Khalaf, like so many illiberal feminist utopians, has no hesitation in forcing society to be free. As is often the case when elites decide they have discovered the route to human perfection, the utopian urge is not simply antidemocratic but verges on the totalitarian.

That this combination of sentimental victimhood, postcolonial relativism, and utopian overreaching has caused feminism to suffer so profound a loss of moral and political imagination that it cannot speak against the brutalization of Islamic women is an incalculable loss to women and to men. The great contribution of Western feminism was to expand the definition of human dignity and freedom. It insisted that all human beings were worthy of liberty. Feminists now have the opportunity to make that claim on behalf of women who in their oppression have not so much as imagined that its promise could include them, too. At its best, feminism has stood for a rich idea of personal choice in shaping a meaningful life, one that respects not only the woman who wants to crash through glass ceilings but also the one who wants to stay home with her children and bake cookies or to wear a veil and fast on Ramadan. Why shouldn?t feminists want to shout out their own profound discovery for the world to hear?

Perhaps, finally, because to do so would be to acknowledge the freedom they themselves enjoy, thanks to Western ideals and institutions. Not only would such an admission force them to give up their own simmering resentments; it would be bad for business.
The truth is that the free institutions?an independent judiciary, a free press, open elections?that protect the rights of women are the same ones that protect the rights of men. The separation of church and state that would allow women to escape the burqa would also free men from having their hands amputated for theft. The education system that would teach girls to read would also empower millions of illiterate boys. The capitalist economies that bring clean water, cheap clothes, and washing machines that change the lives of women are the same ones that lead to healthier, freer men. In other words, to address the problems of Muslim women honestly, feminists would have to recognize that free men and women need the same things?and that those are things that they themselves already have. And recognizing that would mean an end to feminism as we know it.

There are signs that, outside the academy, middlebrow literary circles, and the United Nations, feminism has indeed met its Waterloo. Most Americans seem to realize that September 11 turned self-indulgent sentimental illusions, including those about the sexes, into an unaffordable luxury. Consider, for instance, women?s attitudes toward war, a topic on which politicians have learned to take for granted a gender gap. But according to the Pew Research Center, in January 2002, 57 percent of women versus 46 percent of men cited national security as the country?s top priority. There has been a ?seismic gender shift on matters of war,? according to pollster Kellyanne Conway. In 1991, 45 percent of U.S. women supported the use of ground troops in the Gulf War, a substantially smaller number than the 67 percent of men. But as of November, a CNN survey found women were more likely than men to support the use of ground troops against Iraq, 58 percent to 56 percent. The numbers for younger women were especially dramatic. Sixty-five percent of women between 18 and 49 support ground troops, as opposed to 48 percent of women 50 and over. Women are also changing their attitudes toward military spending: before September 11, only 24 percent of women supported increased funds; after the attacks, that number climbed to 47 percent. An evolutionary psychologist might speculate that, if females tend to be less aggressively territorial than males, there?s little to compare to the ferocity of the lioness when she believes her young are threatened.

Even among some who consider themselves feminists, there is some grudging recognition that Western, and specifically American, men are sometimes a force for the good. The Feminist Majority is sending around urgent messages asking for President Bush to increase American security forces in Afghanistan. The influential left-wing British columnist Polly Toynbee, who just 18 months ago coined the phrase ?America the Horrible,? went to Afghanistan to figure out whether the war ?was worth it.? Her answer was not what she might have expected. Though she found nine out of ten women still wearing burqas, partly out of fear of lingering fundamentalist hostility, she was convinced their lives had greatly improved. Women say they can go out alone now.

As we sink more deeply into what is likely to be a protracted struggle with radical Islam, American feminists have a moral responsibility to give up their resentments and speak up for women who actually need their support. Feminists have the moral authority to say that their call for the rights of women is a universal demand?that the rights of women are the Rights of Man.

Feminism Behind the Veil

Feminists in the West may fiddle while Muslim women are burning, but in the Muslim world itself there is a burgeoning movement to address the miserable predicament of the second sex?without simply adopting a philosophy whose higher cultural products include Sex and the City, Rosie O?Donnell, and the power-suited female executive.

The most impressive signs of an indigenous female revolt against the fundamentalist order are in Iran. Over the past ten years or so, Iran has seen the publication of a slew of serious journals dedicated to the social and political predicament of Islamic women, the most well known being the Teheran-based Zonan and Zan, published by Faezah Hashemi, a well-known member of parliament and the daughter of former president Rafsanjani. Believing that Western feminism has promoted hostility between the sexes, confused sex roles, and the sexual objectification of women, a number of writers have proposed an Islamic-style feminism that would stress ?gender complementarity? rather than equality and that would pay full respect to housewifery and motherhood while also giving women access to education and jobs.

Attacking from the religious front, a number of ?Islamic feminists? are challenging the reigning fundamentalist reading of the Qur?an. These scholars insist that the founding principles of Islam, which they believe were long ago corrupted by pre-Islamic Arab, Persian, and North African customs, are if anything more egalitarian than those of Western religions; the Qur?an explicitly describes women as the moral and spiritual equals of men and allows them to inherit and pass down property. The power of misogynistic mullahs has grown in recent decades, feminists continue, because Muslim men have felt threatened by modernity?s challenge to traditional arrangements between the sexes.

What makes Islamic feminism really worth watching is that it has the potential to play a profoundly important role in the future of the Islamic world?and not just because it could improve the lot of women. By insisting that it is true to Islam?in fact, truer than the creed espoused by the entrenched religious elite?Islamic feminism can affirm the dignity of Islam while at the same time bringing it more in line with modernity. In doing this, feminists can help lay the philosophical groundwork for democracy. In the West, feminism lagged behind religious reformation and political democratization by centuries; in the East, feminism could help lead the charge.

At the same time, though, the issue of women?s rights highlights two reasons for caution about the Islamic future. For one thing, no matter how much feminists might wish otherwise, polygamy and male domination of the family are not merely a fact of local traditions; they are written into the Qur?an itself. This in and of itself would not prove to be such an impediment?the Old Testament is filled with laws antithetical to women?s equality?except for the second problem: more than other religions, Islam is unfriendly to the notion of the separation of church and state. If history is any guide, there?s the rub. The ultimate guarantor of the rights of all citizens, whether Islamic or not, can only be a fully secular state
23514  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 14, 2008, 08:59:14 PM
I understand Rachel's point to be that IN THIS CASE there was general condemnation and I uinderstand BBG's point to apply in general.

The following is a few years old (I originally posted in on the DBMAA forum in Jan '03), but addresses the issues involved:
=======================================================

Why Feminism Is AWOL on Islam
Kay S. Hymowitz
 

U.S. feminists should be protesting the brutal oppression of Middle Eastern women. But doing so would reveal how little they have to complain about at home.

Argue all you want with many feminist policies, but few quarrel with feminism?s core moral insight, which changed the lives (and minds) of women forever: that women are due the same rights and dignity as men. So, as news of the appalling miseries of women in the Islamic world has piled up, where are the feminists? Where?s the outrage? For a brief moment after September 11, when pictures of those blue alien-creaturely shapes in Afghanistan filled the papers, it seemed as if feminists were going to have their moment. And in fact the Feminist Majority, to its credit, had been publicizing since the mid-90s how Afghan girls were barred from school, how women were stoned for adultery or beaten for showing an ankle or wearing high-heeled shoes, how they were prohibited from leaving the house unless accompanied by a male relative, how they were denied medical help because the only doctors around were male.

But the rest is feminist silence. You haven?t heard a peep from feminists as it has grown clear that the Taliban were exceptional not in their extreme views about women but in their success at embodying those views in law and practice. In the United Arab Emirates, husbands have the right to beat their wives in order to discipline them??provided that the beating is not so severe as to damage her bones or deform her body,? in the words of the Gulf News. In Saudi Arabia, women cannot vote, drive, or show their faces or talk with male non-relatives in public. (Evidently they can?t talk to men over the airwaves either; when Prince Abdullah went to President Bush?s ranch in Crawford last April, he insisted that no female air-traffic controllers handle his flight.) Yes, Saudi girls can go to school, and many even attend the university; but at the university, women must sit in segregated rooms and watch their professors on closed-circuit televisions. If they have a question, they push a button on their desk, which turns on a light at the professor?s lectern, from which he can answer the female without being in her dangerous presence. And in Saudi Arabia, education can be harmful to female health. Last spring in Mecca, members of the mutaween, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue, pushed fleeing students back into their burning school because they were not properly covered in abaya. Fifteen girls died.

You didn?t hear much from feminists when in the northern Nigerian province of Katsina a Muslim court sentenced a woman to death by stoning for having a child outside of marriage. The case might not have earned much attention?stonings are common in parts of the Muslim world?except that the young woman, who had been married off at 14 to a husband who ultimately divorced her when she lost her virginal allure, was still nursing a baby at the time of sentencing. During her trial she had no lawyer, although the court did see fit to delay her execution until she weans her infant.

You didn?t hear much from feminists as it emerged that honor killings by relatives, often either ignored or only lightly punished by authorities, are also commonplace in the Muslim world. In September, Reuters reported the story of an Iranian man, ?defending my honor, family, and dignity,? who cut off his seven-year-old daughter?s head after suspecting she had been raped by her uncle. The postmortem showed the girl to be a virgin. In another family mix-up, a Yemeni man shot his daughter to death on her wedding night when her husband claimed she was not a virgin. After a medical exam revealed that the husband was mistaken, officials concluded he was simply trying to protect himself from embarrassment about his own impotence. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, every day two women are slain by male relatives seeking to avenge the family honor.

The savagery of some of these murders is worth a moment?s pause. In 2000, two Punjabi sisters, 20 and 21 years old, had their throats slit by their brother and cousin because the girls were seen talking to two boys to whom they were not related. In one especially notorious case, an Egyptian woman named Nora Marzouk Ahmed fell in love and eloped. When she went to make amends with her father, he cut off her head and paraded it down the street. Several years back, according to the Washington Post, the husband of Zahida Perveen, a 32-year-old pregnant Pakistani, gouged out her eyes and sliced off her earlobe and nose because he suspected her of having an affair.

In a related example widely covered last summer, a teenage girl in the Punjab was sentenced by a tribal council to rape by a gang that included one of the councilmen. After the hour-and-a-half ordeal, the girl was forced to walk home naked in front of scores of onlookers. She had been punished because her 11-year-old brother had compromised another girl by being been seen alone with her. But that charge turned out to be a ruse: it seems that three men of a neighboring tribe had sodomized the boy and accused him of illicit relations?an accusation leading to his sister?s barbaric punishment?as a way of covering up their crime.

Nor is such brutality limited to backward, out-of-the-way villages. Muddassir Rizvi, a Pakistani journalist, says that, though always common in rural areas, in recent years honor killings have become more prevalent in cities ?among educated and liberal families.? In relatively modern Jordan, honor killings were all but exempt from punishment until the penal code was modified last year; unfortunately, a young Palestinian living in Jordan, who had recently stabbed his 19-year-old sister 40 times ?to cleanse the family honor,? and another man from near Amman, who ran over his 23-year-old sister with his truck because of her ?immoral behavior,? had not yet changed their ways. British psychiatrist Anthony Daniels reports that British Muslim men frequently spirit their young daughters back to their native Pakistan and force the girls to marry. Such fathers have been known to kill daughters who resist. In Sweden, in one highly publicized case, Fadima Sahindal, an assimilated 26-year-old of Kurdish origin, was murdered by her father after she began living with her Swedish boyfriend. ?The whore is dead,? the family announced.

As you look at this inventory of brutality, the question bears repeating: Where are the demonstrations, the articles, the petitions, the resolutions, the vindications of the rights of Islamic women by American feminists? The weird fact is that, even after the excesses of the Taliban did more to forge an American consensus about women?s rights than 30 years of speeches by Gloria Steinem, feminists refused to touch this subject. They have averted their eyes from the harsh, blatant oppression of millions of women, even while they have continued to stare into the Western patriarchal abyss, indignant over female executives who cannot join an exclusive golf club and college women who do not have their own lacrosse teams.

But look more deeply into the matter, and you realize that the sound of feminist silence about the savage fundamentalist Muslim oppression of women has its own perverse logic. The silence is a direct outgrowth of the way feminist theory has developed in recent years. Now mired in self-righteous sentimentalism, multicultural nonjudgmentalism, and internationalist utopianism, feminism has lost the language to make the universalist moral claims of equal dignity and individual freedom that once rendered it so compelling. No wonder that most Americans, trying to deal with the realities of a post-9/11 world, are paying feminists no mind.

To understand the current sisterly silence about the sort of tyranny that the women?s movement came into existence to attack, it is helpful to think of feminisms plural rather than singular. Though not entirely discrete philosophies, each of three different feminisms has its own distinct reasons for causing activists to ?lose their voice? in the face of women?s oppression.

The first variety?radical feminism (or gender feminism, in Christina Hoff Sommers?s term)?starts with the insight that men are, not to put too fine a point upon it, brutes. Radical feminists do not simply subscribe to the reasonable-enough notion that men are naturally more prone to aggression than women. They believe that maleness is a kind of original sin. Masculinity explains child abuse, marital strife, high defense spending, every war from Troy to Afghanistan, as well as Hitler, Franco, and Pinochet. As Gloria Steinem informed the audience at a Florida fundraiser last March: ?The cult of masculinity is the basis for every violent, fascist regime.?

Gender feminists are little interested in fine distinctions between radical Muslim men who slam commercial airliners into office buildings and soldiers who want to stop radical Muslim men from slamming commercial airliners into office buildings. They are both examples of generic male violence?and specifically, male violence against women. ?Terrorism is on a continuum that starts with violence within the family, battery against women, violence against women in the society, all the way up to organized militaries that are supported by taxpayer money,? according to Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, who teaches ?The Sexuality of Terrorism? at California State University in Hayward. Violence is so intertwined with male sexuality that, she tells us, military pilots watch porn movies before they go out on sorties. The war in Afghanistan could not possibly offer a chance to liberate women from their oppressors, since it would simply expose women to yet another set of oppressors, in the gender feminists? view. As Sharon Lerner asserted bizarrely in the Village Voice, feminists? ?discomfort? with the Afghanistan bombing was ?deepened by the knowledge that more women than men die as a result of most wars.?

If guys are brutes, girls are their opposite: peace-loving, tolerant, conciliatory, and reasonable??Antiwar and Pro-Feminist,? as the popular peace-rally sign goes. Feminists long ago banished tough-as-nails women like Margaret Thatcher and Jeanne Kirkpatrick (and these days, one would guess, even the fetching Condoleezza Rice) to the ranks of the imperfectly female. Real women, they believe, would never justify war. ?Most women, Western and Muslim, are opposed to war regardless of its reasons and objectives,? wrote the Jordanian feminist Fadia Faqir on OpenDemocracy.net. ?They are concerned with emancipation, freedom (personal and civic), human rights, power sharing, integrity, dignity, equality, autonomy, power-sharing [sic], liberation, and pluralism.?

Sara Ruddick, author of Maternal Thinking, is perhaps one of the most influential spokeswomen for the position that women are instinctually peaceful. According to Ruddick (who clearly didn?t have Joan Crawford in mind), that?s because a good deal of mothering is naturally governed by the Gandhian principles of nonviolence such as ?renunciation,? ?resistance to injustice,? and ?reconciliation.? The novelist Barbara Kingsolver was one of the first to demonstrate the subtleties of such universal maternal thinking after the United States invaded Afghanistan. ?I feel like I?m standing on a playground where the little boys are all screaming ?He started it!? and throwing rocks,? she wrote in the Los Angeles Times. ?I keep looking for somebody?s mother to come on the scene saying, ?Boys! Boys!? ?

Gender feminism?s tendency to reduce foreign affairs to a Lifetime Channel movie may make it seem too silly to bear mentioning, but its kitschy naivet? hasn?t stopped it from being widespread among elites. You see it in widely read writers like Kingsolver, Maureen Dowd, and Alice Walker. It turns up in our most elite institutions. Swanee Hunt, head of the Women in Public Policy Program at Harvard?s Kennedy School of Government wrote, with Cristina Posa in Foreign Policy: ?The key reason behind women?s marginalization may be that everyone recognizes just how good women are at forging peace.? Even female elected officials are on board. ?The women of all these countries should go on strike, they should all sit down and refuse to do anything until their men agree to talk peace,? urged Ohio representative Marcy Kaptur to the Arab News last spring, echoing an idea that Aristophanes, a dead white male, proposed as a joke 2,400 years ago. And President Clinton is an advocate of maternal thinking, too. ?If we?d had women at Camp David,? he said in July 2000, ?we?d have an agreement.?

Major foundations too seem to take gender feminism seriously enough to promote it as an answer to world problems. Last December, the Ford Foundation and the Soros Open Society Foundation helped fund the Afghan Women?s Summit in Brussels to develop ideas for a new government in Afghanistan. As Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler described it on her website, the summit was made up of ?meetings and meals, canvassing, workshops, tears, and dancing.? ?Defense was mentioned nowhere in the document,? Ensler wrote proudly of the summit?s concluding proclamation?despite the continuing threat in Afghanistan of warlords, bandits, and lingering al-Qaida operatives. ?uilding weapons or instruments of retaliation was not called for in any category,? Ensler cooed. ?Instead [the women] wanted education, health care, and the protection of refugees, culture, and human rights.?

Too busy celebrating their own virtue and contemplating their own victimhood, gender feminists cannot address the suffering of their Muslim sisters realistically, as light years worse than their own petulant grievances. They are too intent on hating war to ask if unleashing its horrors might be worth it to overturn a brutal tyranny that, among its manifold inhumanities, treats women like animals. After all, hating war and machismo is evidence of the moral superiority that comes with being born female.

Yet the gender feminist idea of superior feminine virtue is becoming an increasingly tough sell for anyone actually keeping up with world events. Kipling once wrote of the fierceness of Afghan women: ?When you?re wounded and left on the Afghan plains/And the women come out to cut up your remains/Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains.? Now it?s clearer than ever that the dream of worldwide sisterhood is no more realistic than worldwide brotherhood; culture trumps gender any day. Mothers all over the Muslim world are naming their babies Usama or praising Allah for their sons? efforts to kill crusading infidels. Last February, 28-year-old Wafa Idris became the first female Palestinian suicide bomber to strike in Israel, killing an elderly man and wounding scores of women and children. And in April, Israeli soldiers discovered under the maternity clothes of 26-year-old Shifa Adnan Kodsi a bomb rather than a baby. Maternal thinking, indeed.

The second variety of feminism, seemingly more sophisticated and especially prevalent on college campuses, is multiculturalism and its twin, postcolonialism. The postcolonial feminist has even more reason to shy away from the predicament of women under radical Islam than her maternally thinking sister. She believes that the Western world is so sullied by its legacy of imperialism that no Westerner, man or woman, can utter a word of judgment against former colonial peoples. Worse, she is not so sure that radical Islam isn?t an authentic, indigenous?and therefore appropriate?expression of Arab and Middle Eastern identity.

The postmodern philosopher Michel Foucault, one of the intellectual godfathers of multiculturalism and postcolonialism, first set the tone in 1978 when an Italian newspaper sent him to Teheran to cover the Iranian revolution. As his biographer James Miller tells it, Foucault looked in the face of Islamic fundamentalism and saw . . . an awe-inspiring revolt against ?global hegemony.? He was mesmerized by this new form of ?political spirituality? that, in a phrase whose dark prescience he could not have grasped, portended the ?transfiguration of the world.? Even after the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power and reintroduced polygamy and divorce on the husband?s demand with automatic custody to fathers, reduced the official female age of marriage from 18 to 13, fired all female judges, and ordered compulsory veiling, whose transgression was to be punished by public flogging, Foucault saw no reason to temper his enthusiasm. What was a small matter like women?s basic rights, when a struggle against ?the planetary system? was at hand?

Postcolonialists, then, have their own binary system, somewhat at odds with gender feminism?not to mention with women?s rights. It is not men who are the sinners; it is the West. It is not women who are victimized innocents; it is the people who suffered under Western colonialism, or the descendants of those people, to be more exact. Caught between the rock of patriarchy and the hard place of imperialism, the postcolonial feminist scholar gingerly tiptoes her way around the subject of Islamic fundamentalism and does the only thing she can do: she focuses her ire on Western men.

To this end, the postcolonialist eagerly dips into the inkwell of gender feminism. She ties colonialist exploitation and domination to maleness; she might refer to Israel?s ?masculinist military culture??Israel being white and Western?though she would never dream of pointing out the ?masculinist military culture? of the jihadi. And she expends a good deal of energy condemning Western men for wanting to improve the lives of Eastern women. At the turn of the twentieth century Lord Cromer, the British vice consul of Egypt and a pet target of postcolonial feminists, argued that the ?degradation? of women under Islam had a harmful effect on society. Rubbish, according to the postcolonialist feminist. His words are simply part of ?the Western narrative of the quintessential otherness and inferiority of Islam,? as Harvard professor Leila Ahmed puts it in Women and Gender in Islam. The same goes for American concern about Afghan women; it is merely a ?device for ranking the ?other? men as inferior or as ?uncivilized,? ? according to Nira Yuval-Davis, professor of gender and ethnic studies at the University of Greenwich, England. These are all examples of what renowned Columbia professor Gayatri Spivak called ?white men saving brown women from brown men.?
23515  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cowardly scum on: November 14, 2008, 03:08:34 PM
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,451941,00.html
 
Taliban Blamed for Acid Attack on Afghan Schoolgirls
Friday, November 14, 2008

 
Nov. 14: Shamsia Husainai, 17, rests on a hospital bed in Kabul after an acid attack on her Wednesday in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan  —  No students showed up at Mirwais Mena girls' school in the Taliban's spiritual birthplace the morning after it happened.

A day earlier, men on motorcycles attacked 15 girls and teachers with acid. The men squirted the acid from water bottles onto three groups of students and teachers walking to school Wednesday, principal Mehmood Qaderi said. Some of the girls have burns only on their school uniforms but others will have scars on their faces.  One teenager still cannot open her eyes after being hit in the face with acid.

"Today the school is open, but there are no girls," Qaderi said Thursday. "Yesterday, all of the classes were full." His school has 1,500 students.

Afghanistan's government condemned the attack as "un-Islamic" and blamed it on the "country's enemies," a typical reference to Taliban militants. Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, denied the insurgents were involved.

Girls were banned from schools under the rule of the Taliban, the hard-line Islamist regime that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Women were only allowed to leave the house wearing a body-hiding burqa and accompanied by a male family member.
Qaderi said he believes there were multiple teams of assailants because the attacks took place at the same time in different neighborhoods. Provincial Police Chief Mati Ullah Khan said three people have been arrested. He would not provide further details because the investigation was not completed.

The country has made a major push to improve access to education for girls since the Taliban ouster. Fewer than 1 million Afghan children — mostly all boys — attended school under Taliban rule. Roughly 6 million Afghan children, including 2 million girls, attend school today.

But many conservative families still keep their girls at home and the acid attacks are a reminder that old biases remain.

"They don't want us go to school. They don't like education," said Susan Ibrahimi, who started teaching at Mirwais Mena four months ago. She and her mother, also a teacher at the school, were wearing burqas on their walk to work when the motorbike stopped next to them.

"They didn't say anything. They just stopped the motorbike and one of the guys threw acid on us and they went away," Ibrahimi said in a telephone interview.

The acid ate through the cloth covering Ibrahimi's face and left burns down her left cheek. The acid also burned her mother's hand.

"I am worried that I will have scars on my face," said Ibrahimi, who is 19 years old and not married.

Fifteen people were hit with acid in all, including four teachers, Qaderi said.  Ibrahimi said it was the Taliban that attacked her but then explained that she used the term to refer to anyone who was against education for women.

The United Nations called the attack "a hideous crime."

First lady Laura Bush on Thursday decried the attack as cowardly, saying in a statement the "shameful acts are condemned by honorable people in the United States and around the world."

The attacks are "contrary to previous assurances Afghans have been given that there would not be further attacks against schools or students," the U.N. said in a statement.

Arsonists have repeatedly attacked girls' schools and gunmen killed two students walking outside a girls' school in central Logar province last year. UNICEF says there were 236 school-related attacks in Afghanistan in 2007. The Afghan government has also accused the Taliban of attacking schools in an attempt to force teenage boys into the Islamic militia.

In Wednesday's attack, three young women were hospitalized for burns. Two were released Thursday morning, but 17-year-old Shamsia Husainai was still lying on a hospital bed unable to open her eyes. Her brother Masood Morbi said her body shook about every 10 seconds.  She could talk, but her brother said her words were mangled. Her face was covered with a cream to treat her burns. The doctors were giving her pills to blunt the pain. 

Husainai's younger sister told The Associated Press on Wednesday that they had been walking on the street with a group of friends, all of whom were wearing a typical Afghan school uniform of black pants, white shirt, black coat and white headscarf.

Fourteen-year-old Atifa Bibi was also badly burned on her face but she was released from the hospital late Wednesday.

Qaderi, the principal, said no one in the school had reported any direct threats but one of the teachers attacked Wednesday had reported an incident two days ago in which two men threatened her.

"She told me when she was walking two men said to her, 'Oh, you are putting on makeup and going to the school. Okay, we will see you.'"

Husainai and Bibi's aunt, Bibi Meryam, said no one had threatened them but they would consider keeping the girls at home until it felt safer.  A handful of teachers showed up Thursday, but Qaderi said the only students who tried to attend were about 20 primary school students who arrived late in the afternoon and were sent home because the school had already decided not to hold classes. 
Ibrahimi, the young teacher who was burned, said she and her mother stayed home.

"Yesterday we didn't go to school. Today we didn't go to school. I don't know about the future," she said.
23516  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: November 14, 2008, 02:18:47 PM
Jose Mena

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NC5Fir_HrfY

How old does he seem to be here?
23517  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Russia rethinks pricing policy on: November 14, 2008, 12:29:49 PM
Geopolitical Diary: Russia Rethinks Energy Pricing Policy
November 13, 2008 | 0126 GMT
Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy giant, will start dropping natural gas prices for European consumers at the beginning of 2009, CEO Alexei Miller. Miller’s stated rationale for making such a move in midwinter, when demand is highest, is that the export price for natural gas to Europe in the fourth quarter of 2008 was at a record high of more than $500 per 1,000 cubic meters. With the global economy in recession and energy consumption dropping across the board, that price would naturally have to come down.

Such an announcement would not be anomalous were it not Russia doing the talking. The Russians are reducing natural gas prices for the Europeans not out of economic pragmatism, nor out of the goodness of their hearts; instead, this is primarily a political move designed to keep the window of opportunity for manipulating Europe open as long as possible.

Russia is a powerful producer and exporter of both crude oil and natural gas. Because oil can be loaded and shipped across the world in a variety of ways — tanker, pipeline, truck or rail car — the laws of supply and demand more clearly dictate the price of oil than that of natural gas. Now that the world’s economic hubs are being hit with recession, there is little preventing the price of oil from plunging as demand drops. Thus, Russia also announced Wednesday that it is drastically revising its budget downward, anticipating oil prices falling to at least $50 per barrel in 2009 amid the global financial crisis.

Natural gas pricing works differently. Gas can be shipped easily only through existing pipeline networks, making the relationship between the producer and the consumer much tighter, and therefore much more politicized. As a result, prices for Europe are dictated far more by the Kremlin’s naughty-and-nice list than by market forces. This economic reality is all too familiar to countries like Ukraine, Lithuania and the Czech Republic: All have felt the wrath of Moscow, through price hikes or natural gas supply cutoffs, when they moved against Russia’s geopolitical interests.

Russia is the primary natural gas supplier for many former Soviet republics as well as for Turkey and Europe, with Europe dependent on Russian natural gas for about 25 percent of its energy supply. This economic interdependence gives Russia a big bat to swing in Eurasia, in order to sustain its influence on matters like NATO expansion in the region and the installation of a U.S. ballistic missile defense (BMD) shield. When winter rolls around, countries like Germany and Ukraine get especially nervous, knowing they have no adequate alternatives to Russia for keeping their lights and heat on. And with the price of oil plunging and Russia expecting to lose some $600 million per day in oil revenues compared to July highs, it has seemed all the more likely that Russia would compensate for these losses by keeping the price of natural gas high.

So why are the Russians talking about reducing the price instead? Gazprom’s announcement likely has to with a growing fear in Russia that a huge energy shift is sweeping across Europe — an energy shift that, for once, is leaving Russia out in the cold.

Russia’s energy leverage strategy, while effective in the past, has strong potential to backfire on the Kremlin over the long term. Since early winter 2006, when Russia cut off natural gas supplies to Europe (as punishment for the Western-backed Orange Revolution in Ukraine), energy security has become the dominant theme of every EU summit. With plenty of encouragement from the United States, Europe has accelerated efforts to break its dependence from the Russian natural gas monopoly. Its moves have involved such things as constructing new nuclear reactors and new pipelines, building terminals for the import (by tanker) of more expensive liquefied natural gas, and promoting alternative energy sources and conservation. The Europeans’ grand plan is to reduce total energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020, and to get 20 percent of the remainder from renewable energy sources, thereby significantly reducing Russia’s ability to twist their arm on political matters.

While the European moves to break Russia’s energy grip have been under way for a couple of years now, the pace at which the change is taking place is astounding — much to Stratfor’s surprise and Russia’s deep discontent.

According to a report by Russian newspaper Vremya Novosti, Russian natural gas exports fell 8.3 percent year-on-year in October. The report also revealed that Germany, Turkey and Italy, Russia’s top three natural gas clients, cut their imports from Russia after Gazprom on Oct. 1 hiked prices to $460-$520 per 1,000 cubic meters.

An 8.3 percent drop in Russian natural gas imports, dwarfing a 1 percent decline in 2007, is very troubling news for the Russians. The Kremlin realizes that the more aggressive its stance toward Europe on energy matters, the faster Europe will move to cut the Russians out of the equation. By reducing the price of natural gas in the winter, the government — through Gazprom — could be toning down energy policy in efforts to win back some of Europe’s faith in Russia as a reliable, or at least less belligerent, energy supplier.

But Gazprom will not be entirely even-handed in its energy pricing this winter. According to Stratfor sources at Gazprom, the company is likely to apply the price breaks selectively. States that have been friendlier to Russian interests on recent matters will get a better deal. Most notably, this includes Germany — which has consciously refrained from taking a strong stance against Russia over the Georgian war and has spoken out against NATO expansion for Ukraine and Georgia — and the Czech Republic, which recently has become much more apprehensive over its BMD deal with the United States. Selective price breaks for EU states would be in direct violation of EU law, which stipulates that no individual economic deals can be made without the consent of the 27-member bloc. But Moscow won’t want to pass up the chance to whittle away at the EU’s economic coherence in the middle of a financial crisis, and to reward countries that are more willing to align with Russian interests.

However Gazprom chooses to implement these price cuts, the European trend of diversifying and seeking greater independence from Russian energy likely will continue. With the window of opportunity for political exploitation closing, the onus is now on Russia to maintain the credibility of its threats in Europe. The energy lever has been effective in the past, and Russia will continue to use it moving forward. But as tough tactics lose their effectiveness, the Kremlin needs a more nuanced approach to slow Europe’s drive toward energy independence.

23518  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 14, 2008, 12:28:34 PM
OK.
23519  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More Treason from the NYT on: November 14, 2008, 12:23:42 PM
The Gray Lady undermines national security ... again
There they go again. The New York Times, continuing its policy of aiding and abetting this nation's enemies, on Monday published the latest classified anti-terrorist program to come to its attention. This revelation covers a secret order that authorized covert military action inside Syria, Pakistan and "elsewhere" (a quick look at the map to see what lies between Pakistan and Syria will discover "elsewhere"). Citing military and civilian sources, The Times reports that nearly a dozen such raids have been carried out since 2004. We can only imagine the gratitude felt by those brave special-ops soldiers carrying out these missions that their activities are public knowledge.

Freedom of the press is one of the most important rights enshrined in the Constitution. Its position as part of the First Amendment is no accident, indicating the importance the Founders gave to a press able to report freely and without fear on the activities of government. Even in wartime, the government should not censor the media unless truly extraordinary circumstances dictate otherwise. But there is also a reason for the government's classification of information, including this definition of Top Secret: "information of a highly sensitive nature, whose disclosure could result in grave danger to the national security of the United States." At what point does The Times consider that protecting our national security is more important than scoring political points against the Bush administration?
23520  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Fund Raising Appeal from PatriotPost on: November 14, 2008, 12:16:42 PM
I support PatriotPost and hope you will too:
==============

Our sacred honor ... to support and defend
By Mark Alexander

In 1776, an extraordinary group of men signed a document that affirmed their God-given right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." By attaching their signatures to our great Declaration of Independence, they, in effect, were signing their potential death warrants.

Indeed, the last line of our Declaration reads, "For the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."

Many of these men, and many of their countrymen, the first generation of American Patriots, would die fighting for American liberty.

A decade later, their liberty having been won at great cost, our Founders further codified their independence and interdependence by instituting yet another historic document, our Constitution.

The Constitution specifies in Article VI, clause 3:

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution..."

Bound by Oath to support...

The Constitution also prescribes the following oath to be taken by the president-elect: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Preserve, protect and defend...

Commissioned and enlisted military personnel are also required by statute to "solemnly swear, that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same...", though the officer's oath doesn't include any provision that they obey orders.

Against all enemies, foreign and domestic...

Notably, all these oaths mandate the preservation, protection, support and defense of our Constitution as ratified, not the so-called "living constitution" as amended by judicial activists populating what Thomas Jefferson predicted would become "the despotic branch."

While uniformed Americans serving our nation defend our Constitution with their lives, most elected officials debase it with all manner of extra-constitutional empowerment of the central government, not the least of which is the forced redistribution of income to benefit their constituency groups which, in turn, dutifully re-elect them.

Military service personnel who violate the Constitution are remanded for courts-martial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, while politicians who violate the Constitution are remanded for -- re-election.

On that note, the latest crop of Leftists on their way to Washington under the supervision of President-elect Barack Obama are destined to make a greater mockery of our Constitution than any administration in history. Clearly, Obama and his ilk have no history of honoring, or intention to honor, their oaths and, in fact, have no context for such honor.

A small cadre of liberals who believe themselves to be "patriots" have asked, "Can't I be a bona fide Patriot and support Barack Obama?"

In a word ... NO, unless in a state of solemn repentance.

In the spirit of charity, perhaps Obama supporters, who self-identify as patriots, are just grossly misinformed about our Constitution, our history and their own civic duty. Of course, they would likewise be grossly deluded about their identity, but perhaps the delusion is temporary.

I would suggest that Obama "patriots" are nothing more than "sunshine patriots," as Thomas Paine wrote, who "will in crisis, shrink from the service of his country."

At its core, the word "patriot" has direct lineage to those who fought for American independence and established our constitutional republic. That lineage has descended most directly through our history with those who have been entrusted "to support and defend" our Constitution -- more specifically, those who have been faithful to, and have abided by, that oath. As previously noted, by "our Constitution," I am referring to the United States Constitution, not the adulterated vestigial remains that liberals call "the living constitution."

I have taken oaths five times in the service of our country. But I did not have to take any oath to understand my obligations as a citizen "to support and defend" our Constitution.

So, does the title of "Patriot" apply to an individual who votes for a man who has not honored his public oaths of office previously, and has given no indication he intends to "bear true faith and allegiance to the same" as president -- a man who subscribes to the errant notion of a "living constitution" which, in his own words, "breaks free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution"?

No authentic Patriot would support those who violate their sacred oaths.

Unfortunately, in this most recent election, we saw even a handful of flag-rank military officers who have no more reverence for their oaths than Obama. However, they are the exception, not the rule.

Obama's mantra, "change," is a euphemism for constitutional abrogation -- an incremental encroachment on liberty until, at last, liberty is lost.

Our nation's second president, John Adams, warned, "A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever."

As for Obama's deception about his own patriotic pedigree, I commend the words of our nation's first president, George Washington: "Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism. ...[W]here is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation deserts the oaths...?"

Regarding the Presidential Oath of Office, Justice Joseph Story wrote: "[T]he duty imposed upon him to take care, that the laws be faithfully executed, follows out the strong injunctions of his oath of office, that he will 'preserve, protect, and defend the constitution.' The great object of the executive department is to accomplish this purpose." He wrote further that if the president does not honor his oath, his office "will be utterly worthless for ... the protection of rights; for the happiness, or good order, or safety of the people."

Of course, Barack Obama proposes to further constrain the rights of the people by advancing centralized government control of the economy by way of regulation and forced income redistribution, all in the name of "happiness, good order, and safety of the people," but in direct violation of his oath.

Quote of the week
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free." --Ronald Reagan

Legacy of the American Revolution
"It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn." --George Washington

Fellow Patriots, our 2008 Annual Fund campaign is under way. We raise almost 60 percent of our budget in the last two months of each year.

As you know, The Patriot is not sustained by any political, special interest or parent organization. Nor do we accept any online or e-mail advertising. Our operations and mission are funded by -- and depend entirely upon -- the voluntary financial support of American Patriots like YOU!

Thanks to you, our financial partners, The Patriot is now the most widely subscribed and distributed Internet-based conservative political journal. Indeed, your generosity and commitment have made it possible to offer The Patriot without a subscription fee to our military and mission-field readers, as well as collegiate readers -- the young people from whose ranks will come our next generation of leaders. We are also able to authorize the free redistribution and reprinting of our publication through various academic, media and political outlets and forums, thus reaching a very large audience.

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If you have not already done so, please take a moment to support The Patriot's 2008 Annual Fund today with a secure online donation -- however large or small. If you prefer to support The Patriot by mail, please use our Donor Support Form.

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Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus, et Fidelis!
Mark Alexander
Publisher
23521  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 14, 2008, 11:01:19 AM
"In addition, Iran has a pre-existing alliance with AQ and may well have Saudi Hezbollah assets to lend to any effort."

 huh

Shia Iran has an alliance with Sunni AQ?  And the Sunni Saudi's also back Iran's pawn/partner Hezbollah?
23522  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pelosi: hoisted on her own petard on: November 14, 2008, 10:55:41 AM
WSJ: What do bleeding Detroit auto makers, Colombia and green groups have in common? Not a lot, unless you are Nancy Pelosi.

If there was a moment that highlights to what extent the Democratic Party has become captive to its special interests, this might be it. Mrs. Pelosi and Harry Reid have spent this week demanding that Washington stave off a car-maker collapse. What makes this a little weird is that Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Reid are Washington. If they so desperately want a Detroit bailout they could always, you know, pass one.

 
Ken FallinInstead, having punted the Detroit question in the past, and having failed to offload it on the Bush administration, Mrs. Pelosi is now stuck dealing with it in the middle of a lame-duck session that is tangled in Colombia trade politics. Detroit's demands are meanwhile pressing in a postelection environment where Big Labor and greens are presenting their own bills for political services rendered. If you're wondering why Mrs. Pelosi hasn't yet decided what will happen when Congress returns, it's because she hasn't decided which group to annoy.

Democrats have been trying to shuffle money to Detroit since summer, but their timing has been off. The Michigan delegation's big push for auto funds coincided with September's financial crisis. With Washington in a panic, voters howling over $700 billion for banks, and an election in the offing, the leadership decided a Detroit bailout was one hot potato too many.

This decision was made easier by the fact that the Big Three's balance sheets have made even sympathetic Washington spenders worry about throwing money at a bankruptcy. Democrats decided it would be better to direct the funds in a way that allowed them to later deny fault.

The plan? Make it the Bush administration's responsibility to give Detroit cash -- namely by claiming after the event that the $700 billion rescue package for financial institutions was in fact a rescue package for auto makers. This was attempted with several hilarious "colloquys" -- pre-scripted dialogues between members that were quietly inserted into the Congressional Record after the vote, all aimed at rewriting the "intent" of the law. Say, this one, from Oct. 1:

Michigan Sen. Carl Levin: "As Treasury implements this new program, it is clear to me from reading the definition of financial institution that auto financing companies would be among the many financial institutions that would be eligible sellers to the government. Do you agree?"

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd: "Yes, for purposes of this act, I agree that financial institution may encompass auto financing companies."

Fun. Meanwhile, Democrats passed $25 billion in aid for Detroit, though under the careful guise of "green" funds to help it meet new fuel-efficiency standards.

Alas! All for naught! Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson has stubbornly insisted that -- whatever the dreamy "intent" of Sen. Levin -- the $700 billion is, indeed, earmarked for financial institutions. Even a last-ditch letter-writing campaign by Mrs. Pelosi and the Michigan members this weekend, begging the administration to let them off the hook, wouldn't budge Mr. Paulson.

If that weren't enough, the administration has had the temerity to take Democrats at their legislative word, and demand the auto makers actually use that $25 billion in green funds for . . . green retooling. Which, needless to say, isn't going to help the Big Three CEOs pay their upcoming health-care bills.

And so Mrs. Pelosi has been landed with Detroit, again. The auto makers have staged a brilliant PR campaign, tying their misfortunes to today's financial mess -- never mind those decades of mismanagement. They've warned that the ripple effect of a crash could cost three million to four million jobs. Democrats have also undoubtedly been reminded by UAW President Ron Gettelfinger that those come from his union, which recently helped Mrs. Pelosi win an election.

The problem is how not to offend the other groups that just helped her win an election. The White House has intimated that its price for Democratic legislation in a lame-duck session would be the passage of the Colombia trade agreement. Yet Mrs. Pelosi has successfully sat on that deal for months at the demand of the broader union movement, which just spent hundreds of millions to increase Democratic majority.

Meanwhile, another trial balloon -- a proposal to loosen the rules governing the $25 billion in green money -- sent Mrs. Pelosi's environmental friends bonkers. They also just spent big helping Democrats, and insist the money go to building clean cars, not digging out Detroit.

Mrs. Pelosi has since tasked Barney Frank with "drafting" a bailout bill. Yet by yesterday, Democrats were backing away from a vote, complaining they weren't getting help from Republicans. That might work now, though come January, a bigger Democratic majority will no longer have the GOP as an excuse. By the looks of this week, that's when the real fun begins.

Write to kim@wsj.com
23523  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Starting up with FMA (training options) on: November 14, 2008, 10:50:54 AM
You now have begun the Adventure that continues to intrigue so many of us here  cool
23524  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Stable money is the key on: November 14, 2008, 10:44:43 AM
I confess to having just skimmed that long read, but towards the end caught the idea about the role of the Chinese savings glut.  This idea I find very interesting and will think about it.

A bit briefer is this from today's WSJ:

OPINION NOVEMBER 14, 2008 Stable Money Is the Key to Recovery

How the G-20 can rebuild the 'capitalism of the future.'By JUDY SHELTON
   
Tomorrow's "Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy" in Washington will have a stellar cast. Leaders of the Group of 20 industrialized and emerging nations will be there, including Chinese President Hu Jintao, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who initiated the whole affair, in order, as he put it, "to build together the capitalism of the future," will be in attendance, along with the host, our own President George W. Bush, and the chiefs of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations.

 
Martin KozlowskiOne thing is guaranteed: Most attendees will take the view that Wall Street greed and inadequate regulatory oversight by U.S. authorities caused the global financial crisis -- never mind that their own regulatory agencies missed the boat and that their own governments eagerly bought up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac securities for the higher yield over Treasurys.

But whatever they agree to pursue, whether new transnational regulatory authority or globally mandated limits on executive remuneration, would only stultify prospects for economic recovery -- and completely miss the point.

At the bottom of the world financial crisis is international monetary disorder. Ever since the post-World War II Bretton Woods system -- anchored by a gold-convertible dollar -- ended in August 1971, the cause of free trade has been compromised by sovereign monetary-policy indulgence.

Today, a soupy mix of currencies sloshes investment capital around the world, channeling it into stagnant pools while productive endeavor is left high and dry. Entrepreneurs in countries with overvalued currencies are unable to attract the foreign investment that should logically flow in their direction, while scam artists in countries with undervalued currencies lure global financial resources into brackish puddles.

To speak of "overvalued" or "undervalued" currencies is to raise the question: Why can't we just have money that works -- a meaningful unit of account to provide accurate price signals to producers and consumers across the globe?

Consider this: The total outstanding notional amount of financial derivatives, according to the Bank for International Settlements, is $684 trillion (as of June 2008) -- over 12 times the world's nominal gross domestic product. Derivatives make it possible to place bets on future monetary policy or exchange-rate movements. More than 66% of those financial derivatives are interest-rate contracts: swaps, options or forward-rate agreements. Another 9% are foreign-exchange contracts.

In other words, some three-quarters of the massive derivatives market, which has wreaked the most havoc across global financial markets, derives its investment allure from the capricious monetary policies of central banks and the chaotic movements of currencies.

In the absence of a rational monetary system, investment responds to the perverse incentives of paper profits. Meanwhile, price signals in the global marketplace are hopelessly distorted.

For his part, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says his essential goal is "to root out the irresponsible and often undisclosed lending at the heart of our problems." But if anyone has demonstrated irresponsibility, it is not those who chased misleading price signals in pursuit of false profits -- but rather global authorities who have failed to provide an appropriate international monetary system to serve the needs of honest entrepreneurs in an open world economy.

When President Richard Nixon closed the gold window some 37 years ago, it marked the end of a golden age of robust trade and unprecedented global economic growth. The Bretton Woods system derived its strength from a commitment by the U.S. to redeem dollars for gold on demand.

True, the right of convertibility at a pre-established rate was granted only to foreign central banks, not to individual dollar holders; therein lies the distinction between the Bretton Woods gold exchange system and a classical gold standard. Under Bretton Woods, participating nations agreed to maintain their own currencies at a fixed exchange rate relative to the dollar.

Since the value of the dollar was fixed to gold at $35 per ounce of gold -- guaranteed by the redemption privilege -- it was as if all currencies were anchored to gold. It also meant all currencies were convertible into each other at fixed rates.

Paul Volcker, former Fed chairman, was at Camp David with Nixon on that fateful day, Aug. 15, when the system was ended. Mr. Volcker, serving as Treasury undersecretary for monetary affairs at the time, had misgivings; and he has since noted that the inflationary pressures which caused us to go off the gold standard in the first place have only worsened. Moreover, he suggests, floating rates undermine the fundamental tenets of comparative advantage.

"What can an exchange rate really mean," he wrote in "Changing Fortunes" (1992), "in terms of everything a textbook teaches about rational economic decision making, when it changes by 30% or more in the space of 12 months only to reverse itself? What kind of signals does that send about where a businessman should intelligently invest his capital for long-term profitability? In the grand scheme of economic life first described by Adam Smith, in which nations like individuals should concentrate on the things they do best, how can anyone decide which country produces what most efficiently when the prices change so fast? The answer, to me, must be that such large swings are a symptom of a system in disarray."

If we are to "build together the capitalism of the future," as Mr. Sarkozy puts it, the world needs sound money. Does that mean going back to a gold standard, or gold-based international monetary system? Perhaps so; it's hard to imagine a more universally accepted standard of value.

Gold has occupied a primary place in the world's monetary history and continues to be widely held as a reserve asset. The central banks of the G-20 nations hold two-thirds of official world gold reserves; include the gold reserves of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the Bank for International Settlements, and the figure goes to nearly 80%, representing about 15% of all the gold ever mined.

Ironically, it was French President Charles de Gaulle who best made the case in the 1960s. Worried that the U.S. would be tempted to abuse its role as key currency issuer by exporting domestic inflation, he called for the return to a classical international gold standard. "Gold," he observed, "has no nationality."

Mr. Sarkozy might build on that legacy if he can look beyond the immediacy of the crisis and work toward a future global economy based on monetary integrity. This would indeed help to restore the values of democratic capitalism. And Mr. Volcker, an influential adviser to President-elect Barack Obama, could turn out to be a powerful ally in the pursuit of a new stable monetary order.

Ms. Shelton, an economist, is author of "Money Meltdown: Restoring Order to the Global Currency System" (Free Press, 1994).
23525  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / B. Rush on: November 14, 2008, 10:28:42 AM
"Patriotism is as much a virtue as justice, and is as necessary for the support of societies as natural affection is for the support of families."

—Benjamin Rush, letter to His Fellow Countrymen: On Patriotism, October 20, 1773
23526  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 14, 2008, 09:00:50 AM
This is an interesting theme you focus on here GM.

I note the date of the most recent of your posts.  It was sometime around that time that Stratfor had a piece which focused on the vulnerability of the Saudi installations and IIRC it noted that there were some variables about the installations themselves that made it harder to blow the whole thing up than one might think.  That said, they did regard it as a very legitimate security concern. 

With the oil price spike one can easily imagine AQ dusting off their plans in this regard and even with the bursting of the bubble still thinking about it.
23527  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: R.I.P. on: November 13, 2008, 05:40:04 PM
Magical moments that continue to inform my Life , , ,

The Adventure continues!
23528  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 13, 2008, 05:11:33 PM
GM:

Would you please summarize in 25-100 words?

Thank you.
23529  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 13, 2008, 05:07:46 PM
"I just wish Bush, i.e. the republican party had been more fiscally responsible.  I mean
democrats are suppose to spend    but republicans are suppose to keep a tight purse.  Look at the mess we
are in when the both team up and spend and print money."

Mostly amen to that!  Worth noting though is that it is a mistake for Reps to allow Dems to maneuver them into being "the tax collector for the nanny state."  Part of Reagan's genius was that he knew how to avoid this trap.
23530  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rove on: November 13, 2008, 01:15:36 PM
second post of the day:

Political races are about candidates and issues. But election results, in the end, are about numbers. So now that the dust is settling on the 2008 presidential race, what do the numbers tell us?

First, the predicted huge turnout surge didn't happen. The final tally is likely to show that fewer than 128.5 million people voted. That's up marginally from 122 million in 2004. But 17 million more people voted in 2004 than in 2000 (three times the change from 2004 to 2008).

Second, a substantial victory was won by modest improvement in the Democratic share of the vote. Barack Obama received 2.1 points more in the popular vote than President Bush received in 2004, 3.1 points more than Vice President Al Gore in 2000, and 4.6 points more than John Kerry in 2004. In raw numbers, the latest tally shows that Mr. Obama received 66.1 million votes, about 7.1 million more than Mr. Kerry.

About Karl Rove
Karl Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy making process.

Before Karl became known as "The Architect" of President Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, nonpartisan causes, and nonprofit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden.

Karl writes a weekly op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, is a Newsweek columnist and is now writing a book to be published by Simon & Schuster. Email the author at Karl@Rove.com or visit him on the web at Rove.com.
Four out of five of these additional votes came from minorities. Mr. Obama got nearly 3.3 million more votes from African-Americans than did Mr. Kerry; 2.9 million of them were from younger blacks aged 18-29. A quarter of Mr. Obama's improvement among blacks -- 811,000 votes -- came from African-Americans who voted Republican in 2004. Mr. Obama also received 2.5 million more Hispanic votes than Mr. Kerry. Over a third of these votes -- 719,000 -- cast ballots for Republicans in 2004.

One of the most important shifts was Hispanic support for Democrats. John McCain got the votes of 32% of Hispanic voters. That's down from the 44% Mr. Bush won four years ago. If this trend continues, the GOP will find it difficult to regain the majority.

Mr. Obama won 4.6 million more votes in the West and 1.4 million more in the Midwest than Mr. Kerry. Mr. McCain, on the other hand, got more than 2.6 million fewer votes in the Midwest than Mr. Bush. In Ohio, for example, Mr. Obama received 32,000 fewer votes than Mr. Kerry in 2004 -- but Mr. McCain got 360,000 fewer votes than Mr. Bush. That turned a 119,000 vote GOP victory in 2004 into a 206,000 vote Democratic win this year.

Then there were those who didn't show up. There were 4.1 million fewer Republicans voting this year than in 2004. Some missing Republicans had turned independent or Democratic for this election. But most simply stayed home. Ironically for a campaign that featured probably the last Vietnam veteran to run for president, 2.7 million fewer veterans voted. There were also 4.1 million fewer voters who attend religious services more than once a week. Americans aren't suddenly going to church less; something was missing from the campaign to draw out the more religiously observant.

In a sign Mr. Obama's victory may have been more personal than partisan or philosophical, Democrats picked up just 10 state senate seats (out of 1,971) and 94 state house seats (out of 5,411). By comparison, when Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter in 1980, Republicans picked up 112 state senate seats (out of 1,981) and 190 state house seats (out of 5,501).

In the states this year, five chambers shifted from Republican to Democrats, while four shifted from either tied or Democratic control to Republican control. In the South, Mr. Obama had "reverse coattails." Republicans gained legislative seats across the region. In Tennessee both the house and senate now have GOP majorities for the first time since the Civil War.

In today's Opinion Journal
REVIEW & OUTLOOK

A Barack MarketEmpire State ImplosionThe Greens Get Harpooned

TODAY'S COLUMNISTS

Wonder Land: A Monument to Government Power
– Daniel HenningerHistory Favors Republicans in 2010
– Karl Rove

COMMENTARY

How to Put the Squeeze on Iran
– Orde F. KittrieObama and Missile Defense
– John R. BoltonIt's Time to Rethink Our Retirement Plans
– Roger W. Ferguson Jr.This matters because the 2010 Census could allocate as many as four additional congressional districts to Texas, two each to Arizona and Florida, and one district to each of a number of (mostly) red-leaning states, while subtracting seats from (mostly) blue-leaning states like Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania and, for the first time, California. Redistricting and reapportionment could help tilt the playing field back to the GOP in Congress and the race for the White House by moving seven House seats (and electoral votes) from mostly blue to mostly red states.

History will favor Republicans in 2010. Since World War II, the out-party has gained an average of 23 seats in the U.S. House and two in the U.S. Senate in a new president's first midterm election. Other than FDR and George W. Bush, no president has gained seats in his first midterm election in both chambers.

Since 1966, the incumbent party has lost an average of 63 state senate and 262 state house seats, and six governorships, in a president's first midterm election. That 2010 is likely to see Republicans begin rebounding just before redistricting is one silver lining in an otherwise dismal year for the GOP.

In politics, good years follow bad years. Republicans and Democrats have experienced both during the past 15 years. A GOP comeback, while certainly possible, won't be self-executing and automatic. It will require Republicans to be skillful at both defense (opposing Mr. Obama on some issues) and offense (creating a compelling agenda that resonates with voters). And it will require leaders to emerge who give the right public face to the GOP. None of this will be easy. All of this will be necessary.

Mr. Rove is a former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.
23531  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 13, 2008, 12:46:10 PM
As bad as a spender as Bush was, it is deranged and disingenuous for Dems to point the finger on this-- for their complaint about him was always that he wasn't spending enough-- not to mention that when they control the House of Representatives control over spending is theirs.
23532  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The First Amendment on: November 13, 2008, 12:41:27 PM
Amongst those first to be thanked for this odious piece of legislation is Senator John McCain.
23533  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: November 13, 2008, 12:37:27 PM
November 13, 2008

In today's Political Diary

'Election Day' Won't End Till Democrats Have 60
Nancy Rules
Pence for His Thoughts
The Man, Not the Plan (Quote of the Day)
Howard Shows How


Nightmare on Constitution Avenue

With news that Democratic candidate Mark Begich has taken the lead from incumbent GOP Senator Ted Stevens in Alaska's Senate race, Republicans are beginning to visualize a nightmare scenario in which Democrats actually reach the goal of 60 Senate seats that would allow them to stop any GOP filibuster.

The scenario runs like this:

First, Republicans lose the Alaska seat. At least 15,000 provisional ballots and an estimated 20,000 mailed absentee ballots remain to be counted. Ominously for Republicans, Mr. Begich now holds an 814-vote lead after some 50,000 absentee ballots were counted this week. The race could remain undecided for some time. Alaska will continue to accept absentee ballots through Nov. 19 if they were postmarked by Election Day.

Democrats also have an excellent opportunity to pick up a Georgia Senate seat if President-elect Obama decides it's vital for his party to win the December 2 runoff between GOP incumbent Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin. With a snap of Mr. Obama's fingers, money and resources from Team Obama's vaunted organization would pour in. Dispirited Republicans might well stay home, allowing Democrats to capture the seat much as Republicans took a Georgia Senate seat in a similar 1992 runoff. "We're a long way away from having the resources we need to match the Democrats," Senator Chambliss told reporters.

Then there's Minnesota, where GOP Senator Norm Coleman's lead over comedian Al Franken has just dwindled to 206 votes even before a statewide recount begins next week. Republicans fear that Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, an ally of the activist group ACORN, will attempt to put his thumb on the scale during the process.

If bad breaks occur in all of these races, Democrats will win the important strategic and psychological prize of 60 seats, and Republicans will have lost 15 Senate seats in just two election cycles -- a modern record.

-- John Fund

The Godmother


How determined is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to start the new term with her caucus marching in lockstep behind here? Take a look at the House Democratic leadership races -- if you can stay awake.

Barack Obama's tapping of Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel as his White House chief of staff opened up his powerful position as chair of the Democratic Caucus. Just a few days ago, rumors were flying that at least two challengers would seek his job. Connecticut Rep. John Larson, currently vice-chairman, made clear his intention to run. Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, architect of this cycle's House wins, said he wanted to run as well, setting up a showdown. Meanwhile, the vice-chairman's job that Mr. Larson is vacating quickly attracted competing bids from Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky, New York Rep. Joe Crowley, and Florida Rep. Kendrick Meek.

But Mrs. Pelosi was apparently having none of it. Suddenly Mr. Van Hollen announced that he'd decided to stay put as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as well as accepting an additional title as "assistant" to Speaker Pelosi. That left Mr. Larson unopposed for the caucus chairmanship. At the same time, Reps. Shakowsky, Crowley and Meeks all changed their minds and decided not to run for the vice-chair slot. Instead, most will be supporting Mrs. Pelosi's handpicked ally for the job, California Rep. Xavier Becerra, who now appears a shoe-in.

In short, Mrs. Pelosi seems to have orchestrated the party's internal reorganization without any major infighting. Then again, she's also leaving some ambitious caucus members without prizes. We'll see how they respond once the legislating begins.

-- Kim Strassel

Hoosier Hero

The message of this election and the 2006 election is simple: "Big government Republicanism is a failed experiment."

So says Rep. Mike Pence, the Indiana Republican. Mr. Pence is running to become chairman of the House Republican Conference, the No. 3 power slot and effectively the communications director of the Republican Party. He is currently unopposed, but Dan Lungren of California has hinted he might also vie for the job. The leadership elections are next week.

I caught up with Mr. Pence on Wednesday and he was in a feisty mood. "Our job," he tells me, "is to expose and defeat the liberal agenda that is coming." He sees the first round being fought over a big-spending "stimulus" plan from the Obama administration as well as an attempt to reinstate the ban on offshore drilling. Mr. Pence says his party needs to discover its inner Reagan and bring back a "vision of policy contrast" with the Obama liberals. The only thing embattled Republicans have going for them, he adds, is that America "is still a center-right country. Voters know that we can't tax, spend and bailout our way back to prosperity."

Mr. Pence is ideally suited to rehab the Republican Party. He voted against three Bush initiatives that have grown the government mightily: the Medicare prescription drug benefit, the No Child Left Behind school spending law, and September's $700 billion financial rescue plan. Mr. Pence says he got into the race for conference chairman after a call from House Minority Leader John Boehner, who told him the party needs his crisp message.

Mr. Pence is a Reaganite optimist who tells me something that seems paradoxical but true. "For the first time in eight years, we as conservative Republicans have the wind at our backs." He means that being in the minority can be liberating, allowing the party to rediscover its bearings and figure out how to modernize the GOP message. Step One, he says, will be repudiating the Bush-era philosophy of "big government Republicanism."

Good riddance.

-- Stephen Moore

Quote of the Day

"First, the good news for Obama: Sixty-two percent of Americans expect him to be a 'good' or 'great' president, and 70 percent expect the economy to improve over the next four years, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. . . But data in the Quinnipiac poll shows that overall goodwill won't necessarily translate into automatic support for Obama's policy proposals. Obama called for the closing of the prison at Guantanamo Bay during the campaign, and it was reported on Tuesday that the president-elect is already looking into shuttering the facility. But a 44 percent plurality of voters said Guantanamo should remain open, compared with 29 percent who wanted it closed and 27 percent who weren't sure. On Iraq, Obama's plans don't match voter sentiment right now, either. . . . And even on some Obama proposals with widespread support, Americans don't seem optimistic they'll be enacted. Fifty-four percent of voters believe the president-elect will not follow through on his oft-repeated campaign pledge to lower taxes for 95 percent of Americans" -- David Herbert, National Journal "Poll Track" columnist, on new post-election polling of voter attitudes about a Barack Obama presidency.

They're All Deaniacs Now

Four years after Howard Dean took over the Democratic National Committee with promises to invest in party building even in heavily Republican territory, his would-be counterparts in the Republican Party are talking about imitating Mr. Dean's approach. After all, it's tough to argue with two straight cycles of nearly unparalleled Democratic success.

Mr. Dean's "50-state strategy," which invested financial and human resources everywhere from Alaska to Wyoming and the Deep South, is credited with reviving the party in states where it had lately withered. In turn, those states helped steal more than 50 House seats from Republicans over two cycles, some in districts that gave President Bush more than 60% of the vote in 2004.

No wonder candidates looking to replace RNC chairman Mike Duncan are touting the Dean model as a way to rebuild the GOP. "We have to come up with our own 50-state strategy, so to speak," says Michigan GOP chair Saul Anuzis, who made his candidacy official on Wednesday.

"I thought Howard Dean had a pretty good idea with his 50-state strategy," echoes Oklahoma Republican Party chief Gary Jones, who is backing a combined ticket of former Senator Fred Thompson and one-time Michigan National Committeeman Chuck Yob for the RNC post.

Mr. Dean, the former Vermont governor who made a name for himself during the 2004 presidential primaries for his anti-war appeal to liberals, is an unlikely role model for Republican Party strategists. But they know a good idea when they see it. Along with gains in Congressional elections and picking up Electoral College votes from enemy territory in Indiana, North Carolina and even Nebraska's Second Congressional District, Democrats under Mr. Dean made impressive gains in state legislatures, including netting about 100 legislative seats this cycle (though several are being disputed in recounts).

Another great idea Republicans are adopting from Mr. Dean: If a candidate for public office helps raise money and manpower for state and local party organizations, the national party will always return the favor.


-- Reid Wilson, RealClearPolitics.com



23534  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / R.I.P. on: November 13, 2008, 11:02:38 AM
Mitch Mitchell, drummer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, has died, apparently of natural causes at the age of 61 huh

MM was an outstanding drummer.  In addition to seeing him play as part of the JHE in 1967, I also saw him sit in various times with the Jefferson Airplane at the Fillmore East.  There were strong connections between the JA and the JHE.  Jack Casady frequently played with JH (see e.g. "Voodoo Chile on Electric Ladyland", and a cut on "JH live at Winterland") and MM relates in his book on his years with JH that JH asked Jack to replace Noel Redding in the JHE but that Jack was loyal to the JA.  Anyway, MM would come sit in with the JA. 

The late show at the Fillmore began at 11:30 and usually had two bands before the JA, so the JA typically would come on stage around 0200 and MM would join in around 0400 with the set typically finishing around 0530 (which was cutting it close for me sneaking back into the house before my folks awoke).  This was not a problem when the JA drummer was Spencer Dryden, but Spencer's replacement Joey Covington apparently felt insecure--  one time a separate drum set was put out on stage for MM to play even as JC continued to play.  Eventually JC backed off and insincerely introduced "Our friend Mitch Mitchell" to the crowd. 

The rapport between Mitch, Jack on bass and Jorma on guitar (Paul Kantner doing fine on rythhm guitar too) was extraordinary.

Scary to see someone 5 years older than me dying of "natural causes"! shocked
23535  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Bolton on: November 13, 2008, 10:51:30 AM
Well, tis a rare event but, apart from the tedious boilerplate about Bush, I'm in agreement with JDN on this one.

However, the following presages exactly the sort of weakness that I fear from a President BO:

JOHN R. BOLTONArticle
 
Presidential transitions provide the opportunity to predict how an incoming administration will govern. While the Obama transition is proceeding largely behind the scenes, commentators have been hard at work examining the emerging evidence to reach sweeping conclusions about the administration's likely direction.

While it is much too early to reach any firm conclusions, a few substantive events have taken place. Consider, for example, the established tradition of a president-elect's series of calls to world leaders, to introduce himself and receive their congratulations. One of Barack Obama's first such conversations took place last Friday with Polish President Lech Kaczynski.

From the press reports and statements regarding their brief exchange it seems Messrs. Obama and Kaczynski drew radically different conclusions on a critical issue -- missile defense. Mr. Kaczynski raised the subject, given the recent U.S.-Polish agreement to base missile defense assets in Poland. In the words of the Polish press statement about the call, Mr. Kaczynski heard Mr. Obama say "that the missile defense project would continue."

The Obama transition promptly issued a rebuttal: "President-elect Obama made no commitment on it. His position is as it was throughout the campaign -- that he supports deploying a missile defense system when the technology is proved to be workable."

This was a remarkable statement. Mr. Obama contradicted a head of state, clinging to a campaign position that could most kindly be described as weak and ambiguous. The statement also reflected a naiveté in the structuring of such transition conversations -- and future dealings with truly unfriendly foreign leaders -- that could have been avoided.

Importantly, the Obama-Kaczynski telephone call must be seen in the context of Russian President Dmitri Medvedev's speech just two days before, where he threatened to base Russian missiles in the Kaliningrad enclave, targeting our proposed missile defense deployments in Poland. Mr. Medvedev's words were more than just a direct challenge to President-elect Obama on missile defense. They were also a direct challenge to the Polish government, which reached an agreement with the Bush administration just days after the Russian invasion of Georgia. The Poles were out on a limb, and Mr. Medvedev was testing the strength of that limb and the strength of the incoming U.S. president. Both now look disturbingly weak.

To be sure, one could argue that the Poles should not so quickly have issued an unequivocal statement without checking with Mr. Obama's handlers. But so too the Obama team should have understood that foreign leaders, both friends and adversaries, are in a state of high tension, hoping to get the president-elect to give his stamp of approval for their agendas before the inertia of the permanent government gets in the way.

Mr. Kaczynski's gambit may have been the first, but it won't be the last, and those hundreds of Obama foreign-affairs advisers should have known it was coming. The Iranian and North Korean nuclear weapons programs, Arab-Israeli affairs and a host of other critical problems are thundering toward Mr. Obama as Jan. 20 approaches.

Freeing America from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty's antiquated constraints is rightly regarded as one of President Bush's most significant achievements. In 2001, we believed that the Russian strategic threat had eased. But the emerging threats from rogue states possessing a few nuclear-capable ballistic missiles required that we develop adequate defenses -- especially because many emerging nuclear-weapons states do not accept the same calculus of deterrence that maintained the Cold War's uneasy nuclear standoff. The demise of the ABM Treaty allows America to defend itself from these threats.

For a new Obama administration to retreat from this achievement, as many in the arms-control "community" have advocated, would be a significant step backward. His campaign position about deployment after the technology is "proved" is an excuse never to deploy missile defenses -- because nothing in the military field is ever conclusively proven for all time. Rebuffing Mr. Kaczynski is also precisely the wrong response to Mr. Medvedev's provocation. It will surely be read as weakness, and not only in Moscow. In fact, Moscow announced yesterday there would be no more missile-defense negotiations before Jan. 20.

How should Israel and the Arab world now contemplate the prospects for rapid U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and the prospects for turmoil there and enhanced Iranian influence in the Middle East? Will North Korea -- whoever is in charge -- now kick back and wait for Jan. 20? The list of questions is far longer than the list of Mr. Obama's answers.

To repeat, it is much too early to draw larger conclusions from this one episode. On the existing postelection evidence, we cannot tell whether Mr. Obama will govern on the left or the center-left, or whether he is simply passive and risk-averse. But on balance, his conversation with Mr. Kaczynski points toward a weakening of the U.S. defense posture, indifference to allies under duress, and the need to satisfy his natural constituency within the Democratic Party. Let us now await the next pieces of evidence.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations"
23536  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: November 13, 2008, 10:45:38 AM
BBG's post of Hedges reminds of us the wisdom of the Founding Fathers that not everyone should be voting , , , evil
23537  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Pressuring Iran on: November 13, 2008, 09:26:28 AM
If Barack Obama is to persuade Iran to negotiate away its illegal nuclear weapons program, he will first need to generate more leverage than what the Bush administration is leaving him with. The current U.N. sanctions have proven too weak to dissuade Tehran's leaders, and Russia and China seem determined to keep those sanctions weak. Meanwhile, the regime continues to insist there are no incentives in exchange for which it would halt or even limit its nuclear work.

 
David KleinHowever, Tehran has an economic Achilles' heel -- its extraordinarily heavy dependence on imported gasoline. This dependence could be used by the United States to peacefully create decisive leverage over the Islamic Republic.

Iranian oil wells produce far more petroleum (crude oil) than Iran needs. Yet, remarkably for a country investing so much in nuclear power, Iran has not developed sufficient capacity to refine that crude oil into gasoline and diesel fuel. As a result, it must import some 40% of the gasoline it needs for internal consumption.

In recent months, Iran has, according to the respected trade publication International Oil Daily and other sources including the U.S. government, purchased nearly all of this gasoline from just five companies, four of them European: the Swiss firm Vitol; the Swiss/Dutch firm Trafigura; the French firm Total; British Petroleum; and one Indian company, Reliance Industries. If these companies stopped supplying Iran, the Iranians could replace only some of what they needed from other suppliers -- and at a significantly higher price. Neither Russia nor China could serve as alternative suppliers. Both are themselves also heavily dependent on imports of the type of gasoline Iran needs.

Were these companies to stop supplying gasoline to Iran, the world-wide price of oil would be unaffected -- the companies would simply sell to other buyers. But the impact on Iran would be substantial.

When Tehran attempted to ration gasoline during the summer of 2007, violent protests forced the regime to back down. Cutting off gasoline sales to Iran, or even a significant reduction, could have an even more dramatic effect.

In Congress, there is already bipartisan support for peacefully cutting off gasoline sales to Iran until it stops its illicit nuclear activities. Barack Obama, John McCain and the House of Representatives have all declared their support.

On June 4 of this year, for example, Sen. Obama said at a speech in Washington, D.C.: "We should work with Europe, Japan and the Gulf states to find every avenue outside the U.N. to isolate the Iranian regime -- from cutting off loan guarantees and expanding financial sanctions, to banning the export of refined petroleum to Iran."

He repeated this sentiment during the presidential candidates' debate on Oct. 7: "Iran right now imports gasoline . . . if we can prevent them from importing the gasoline that they need . . . that starts changing their cost-benefit analysis. That starts putting the squeeze on them."

How do we stop the gasoline from flowing? The Bush administration has reportedly never asked the Swiss, Dutch, French, British or Indian governments to stop gasoline sales to Iran by the companies headquartered within their borders. An Obama administration should make this request, and do the same with other governments if other companies try to sell gasoline to Iran.

But the U.S. also has significant direct leverage over the companies that currently supply most of Iran's imported gasoline.

Consider India's Reliance Industries which, according to International Oil Daily, "reemerged as a major supplier of gasoline to Iran" in July after taking a break for several months. It "delivered three cargoes of gasoline totaling around 100,000 tons to Iran's Mideast Gulf port of Bandar Abbas from its giant Jamnagar refinery in India's western province of Gujarat." Reliance reportedly "entered into a new arrangement with National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC) under which it will supply around . . . three 35,000-ton cargoes a month, from its giant Jamnagar refinery." One hundred thousand tons represents some 10% of Iran's total monthly gasoline needs.

The Jamnagar refinery is heavily supported by U.S. taxpayer dollars. In May 2007, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, a government agency that assists in financing the export of U.S. goods and services, announced a $500 million loan guarantee to help finance expansion of the Jamnagar refinery. On Aug. 28, 2008, Ex-Im announced a new $400 million long-term loan guarantee for Reliance, including additional financing of work at the Jamnagar refinery.

Or consider the Swiss firm Vitol. According to International Oil Daily, Vitol "over the past few years has accounted for around 60% of the gasoline shipped to Iran." Vitol is currently building a $100 million terminal in Port Canaveral, Florida.

Last year, when Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty discovered that an Indian company, Essar, was seeking to both invest some $1.6 billion in Minnesota and invest over $5 billion in building a refinery in Iran, he put Essar to a choice. Mr. Pawlenty threatened to block state infrastructure subsidies and perhaps even construction permits for the Minnesota purchase unless Essar withdrew from the Iranian investment. Essar promptly withdrew from the Iranian investment.

Florida officials could consider taking a similar stance with Vitol.

In today's Opinion Journal
REVIEW & OUTLOOK

A Barack MarketEmpire State ImplosionThe Greens Get Harpooned

TODAY'S COLUMNISTS

Wonder Land: A Monument to Government Power
– Daniel HenningerHistory Favors Republicans in 2010
– Karl Rove

COMMENTARY

How to Put the Squeeze on Iran
– Orde F. KittrieObama and Missile Defense
– John R. BoltonIt's Time to Rethink Our Retirement Plans
– Roger W. Ferguson Jr.The Minnesota example is not the only precedent. U.S. outreach to foreign banks and to oil companies considering investing in Iran's energy sector has reportedly convinced more than 80 banks and several major potential oil-field investors to cease all or some of their business with Iran. Among them: Germany's two largest banks (Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank), London-based HSBC, Credit Suisse, Norwegian energy company StatoilHydro, and Royal Dutch Shell.

A sustained initiative may be able to convince most or all current and potential suppliers that the profits to be gained from continuing to sell gasoline to Iran will be dwarfed by the lost loan guarantees and subsidies and foregone profits they will incur in the U.S. from continuing to do business with Iran.

Last Sunday, a group of 60 Iranian economists called for the regime to drastically change course, saying that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's "tension-creating" foreign policy has "scared off foreign investment and inflicted heavy damage on the economy." The economists said the current sanctions, as weak as they are, have cost Iran billions of dollars by forcing it to use middlemen for exports and imports. Halting Iran's gasoline supply could contribute to reaching a tipping point -- at which economic pressures and protests convince the regime its illicit nuclear program poses too great a risk to its grip over the Iranian people.

If the federal and key state governments in the U.S. were to make it their goal to achieve a halt by companies selling gasoline to Iran, it could be a game-changer. It may be our best remaining hope for peacefully convincing Iran to desist from developing nuclear weapons.

Mr. Kittrie is a professor of law at Arizona State University and a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He previously worked for 11 years at the U.S. Department of State, including as a specialist on nuclear nonproliferation and sanctions.
23538  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WTF? on: November 13, 2008, 08:55:24 AM
Dan Mirvish, who with Eitan Gorlin created an elaborate Internet hoax complete with a fake policy institute and a phony adviser to Senator John McCain.

By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEŃA
Published: November 12, 2008
NYT
It was among the juicier post-election recriminations: Fox News Channel quoted an unnamed McCain campaign figure as saying that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent.

April Fools’ Comes Early: Read All About It (November 13, 2008)
Palin Calls Criticism by McCain Aides ‘Cruel and Mean-Spirited’ (November 8, 2008)
Martin Eisenstadt’s Blog
The Web Site for the Harding Institute
 
Eitan Gorlin as the phony McCain adviser Martin Eisenstadt.

Who would say such a thing? On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,” Mr. Shuster said.

Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes.

And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.

Now a pair of obscure filmmakers say they created Martin Eisenstadt to help them pitch a TV show based on the character. But under the circumstances, why should anyone believe a word they say?

“That’s a really good question,” one of the two, Eitan Gorlin, said with a laugh.

(For what it’s worth, another reporter for The New York Times is an acquaintance of Mr. Gorlin and vouches for his identity, and Mr. Gorlin is indeed “Mr. Eisenstadt” in those videos. He and his partner in deception, Dan Mirvish, have entries on the Internet Movie Database, imdb.com. But still. ...)

They say the blame lies not with them but with shoddiness in the traditional news media and especially the blogosphere.

“With the 24-hour news cycle they rush into anything they can find,” said Mr. Mirvish, 40.

Mr. Gorlin, 39, argued that Eisenstadt was no more of a joke than half the bloggers or political commentators on the Internet or television.

An MSNBC spokesman, Jeremy Gaines, explained the network’s misstep by saying someone in the newsroom received the Palin item in an e-mail message from a colleague and assumed it had been checked out. “It had not been vetted,” he said. “It should not have made air.”

But most of Eisenstadt’s victims have been bloggers, a reflection of the sloppy speed at which any tidbit, no matter how specious, can bounce around the Internet. And they fell for the fake material despite ample warnings online about Eisenstadt, including the work of one blogger who spent months chasing the illusion around cyberspace, trying to debunk it.

The hoax began a year ago with short videos of a parking valet character, who Mr. Gorlin and Mr. Mirvish said was the original idea for a TV series.

Soon there were videos showing him driving a car while spouting offensive, opinionated nonsense in praise of Rudolph W. Giuliani. Those videos attracted tens of thousands of Internet hits and a bit of news media attention.

When Mr. Giuliani dropped out of the presidential race, the character morphed into Eisenstadt, a parody of a blowhard cable news commentator.

Mr. Gorlin said they chose the name because “all the neocons in the Bush administration had Jewish last names and Christian first names.”

Eisenstadt became an adviser to Senator John McCain and got a blog, updated occasionally with comments claiming insider knowledge, and other bloggers began quoting and linking to it. It mixed weird-but-true items with false ones that were plausible, if just barely.

The inventors fabricated the Harding Institute, named for one of the most scorned presidents, and made Eisenstadt a senior fellow.

It didn’t hurt that a man named Michael Eisenstadt is a real expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and is quoted in the mainstream media. The real Mr. Eisenstadt said in an interview that he was only dimly aware of the fake one, and that his main concern was that people understood that “I had nothing to do with this.”

Before long Mr. Gorlin and Mr. Mirvish had produced a short documentary on Martin Eisenstadt, supposedly for the BBC, posted in several parts on YouTube.

In June they produced what appeared to be an interview with Eisenstadt on Iraqi television promoting construction of a casino in the Green Zone in Baghdad. Then they sent out a news release in which he apologized. Outraged Iraqi bloggers protested the casino idea.

Among the Americans who took that bait was Jonathan Stein, a reporter for Mother Jones. A few hours later Mr. Stein put up a post on the magazine’s political blog, with the title “Hoax Alert: Bizarre ‘McCain Adviser’ Too Good to Be True,” and explained how he had been fooled.

In July, after the McCain campaign compared Senator Barack Obama to Paris Hilton, the Eisenstadt blog said “the phone was burning off the hook” at McCain headquarters, with angry calls from Ms. Hilton’s grandfather and others. A Los Angeles Times political blog, among others, retold the story, citing Eisenstadt by name and linking to his blog.

Last month Eisenstadt blogged that Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, Joe the Plumber, was closely related to Charles Keating, the disgraced former savings and loan chief. It wasn’t true, but other bloggers ran with it.

Among those taken in by Monday’s confession about the Palin Africa report was The New Republic’s political blog. Later the magazine posted this atop the entry: “Oy — this would appear to be a hoax. Apologies.”

But the truth was out for all to see long before the big-name take-downs. For months sourcewatch.org has identified Martin Eisenstadt as a hoax. When Mr. Stein was the victim, he blogged that “there was enough info on the Web that I should have sussed this thing out.”

And then there is William K. Wolfrum, a blogger who has played Javert to Eisenstadt’s Valjean, tracking the hoaxster across cyberspace and repeatedly debunking his claims. Mr. Gorlin and Mr. Mirvish praised his tenacity, adding that the news media could learn something from him.

“As if there isn’t enough misinformation on this election, it was shocking to see so much time wasted on things that didn’t exist,” Mr. Wolfrum said in an interview.

And how can we know that Mr. Wolfrum is real and not part of the hoax?

Long pause. “Yeah, that’s a tough one.”
23539  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: What does Kali Tudo 2 have in store for us?? on: November 13, 2008, 08:40:30 AM
Yesterday Night Owl gave me a first VERY rough edit of Kali Tudo 2.  The footage was shot in Hawaii, working the the Hawaii Clan of the Dog Brothers (led by Dogzilla). 
23540  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Old Times at the Kremlin on: November 13, 2008, 12:33:06 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Seems Like Old Times at the Kremlin
November 12, 2008

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on Tuesday sent a draft law to the Duma that would make a series of structural changes to the Russian government, including extending the president’s term. The draft law is no surprise; Medvedev laid out the changes in his first state address Nov. 5. But the details of the changes are quite interesting. The presidential term would be extended from four to six years, legislators’ terms would increase from four to five years, and there would be a shift in the way members of the legislature’s upper house, the Federal Council, are chosen.

Following the State of the State address last week, Medvedev’s aides had quickly explained that the extension of the presidential term would not affect Medvedev’s stay in office, but rather would apply to the next president. The Russian media have erupted with speculation that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will be returning to the presidency, which he left earlier this year. Under Russian law, a president can serve more than two terms, but not consecutively. This has led to rumors in the press that Medvedev could step down in the coming year, allowing Putin to step into his old shoes and serve out the remainder of Medvedev’s term before potentially being elected to another two terms of his own. All told, it would mean that Putin could be in office for another 15 years.

According to Stratfor sources, Putin might lay the groundwork for such a move at the convention for United Russia — the ruling party — on Nov. 20, where he is to give a “campaign-style speech.” It does not really matter if Putin is president or prime minister; in either position, he is the one driving the train in Moscow. But he has allowed Medvedev to act as president, particularly in the decision-making process during the Russia-Georgia war and the financial crisis.

According to what Stratfor has heard from sources in Moscow, Putin has not yet decided whether to return to the presidency. The main reason he would want to return is that Medvedev isn’t seen as the authoritative figure Putin was in the same role — and with Russia attempting a resurgence on the global scene, it needs a powerful leader to command respect. On the other hand, Putin has never been interested in the daily tasks that go along with being chief, such as meeting with middle- or low-tier world leaders or making constant speeches. He is much more interested in decision-making — and the power that goes along with it.

This is where one of the key, but mostly overlooked, changes proposed by Medvedev comes into play. Though the details of this change are still murky, it calls for members of the Federal Council — who represent each of Russia’s 81 federal regions (republics, oblasts, krais, okrugs and the two largest cities) — to be chosen by the ruling party in each region. Since Putin’s United Russia controls most of the country already, and any stray regions most likely will be under that party’s control soon, the shift would put United Russia in charge of essentially the entire country, at the regional level.

Stratfor has watched as United Russia evolved from being merely another party in the country to the main party in Russia. Now it appears to be transforming into “the Party” — much like the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which controlled the top echelons of the Russian government and held power in every region of the Soviet Union. Medvedev’s reforms officially would give United Russia that sort of power.

Moreover, this gives whoever is in charge of the party the bulk of power in Russia. Under most Soviet leaders, the ruler of “the Party” was the ruler of the country. But in modern Russia, the president must have no party affiliation, according to a social law — which is why Putin took the helm of United Russia only after becoming premier. This tradition can be changed, but thus far, it is not a part of Medvedev’s large government overhaul plan. Which leaves us wondering whether the shuffle in organization and positions is just about Putin returning to the presidency, or whether something larger — the question of who exactly will control “The Party” — is in play.
23541  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 13, 2008, 12:31:27 AM
Disculpe que lo siguiente sea en ingles.  Si alguien tiene un software para traducirlo, se lo agradeceria:

Worrying Signs from Border Raids
November 12, 2008




By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
Last week, the Mexican government carried out a number of operations in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, aimed at Jaime “El Hummer” Gonzalez Duran, one of the original members of the brutal cartel group known as Los Zetas. According to Mexican government officials, Gonzalez Duran controlled the Zetas’ operations in nine Mexican states.

The Nov. 7 arrest of Gonzalez Duran was a major victory for the Mexican government and will undoubtedly be a major blow to the Zetas. Taking Gonzalez Duran off the streets, however, is not the only aspect of these operations with greater implications. The day before Gonzalez Duran’s arrest, Mexican officials searching for him raided a safe house, where they discovered an arms cache that would turn out to be the largest weapons seizure in Mexican history. This is no small feat, as there have been several large hauls of weapons seized from the Zetas and other Mexican cartel groups in recent years.

The weapons seized at the Gonzalez Duran safe house included more than 500 firearms, a half-million rounds of ammunition and 150 grenades. The cache also included a LAW rocket, two grenade launchers and a small amount of explosives. Along with the scores of assorted assault rifles, grenades and a handful of gaudy gold-plated pistols were some weapons that require a bit more examination: namely, the 14 Fabrique Nationale (FN) P90 personal defense weapons and the seven Barrett .50-caliber sniper rifles contained in the seizure.

Matapolicias
As previously noted, the FN Five-Seven pistol and FN P90 personal defense weapon are very popular with the various cartel enforcer groups operating in Mexico. The Five-Seven and the P90 shoot a 5.7 mm-by-28 mm round that has been shown to be effective in penetrating body armor as well as vehicle doors and windows. Because of this ability to punch through body armor, cartel enforcers call the weapons “matapolicias,” Spanish for “cop killers.” Of course, AK-47 and M-16-style assault rifles are also effective at penetrating body armor and vehicles, as are large-caliber hunting rifles such as the 30.06 and the .308. But the advantage of the Five-Seven and the P90 is that they provide this penetration capability in a much smaller — and thus far more concealable — package.

The P90 is a personal defense weapon designed to be carried by tank crew members or combat support personnel who require a compact weapon capable of penetrating body armor. It is considered impractical for such soldiers to be issued full-size infantry rifles or even assault rifles, so traditionally these troops were issued pistols and submachine guns. The proliferation of body armor on the modern battlefield, however, has rendered many pistols and submachine guns that fire pistol ammunition ineffective. Because of this, support troops needed a small weapon that could protect them from armored troops; the P90 fits this bill.

In fact, the P90 lends itself to anyone who needs powerful, concealable weapons. Protective security details, some police officers and some special operations forces operators thus have begun using the P90 and other personal defense weapons. The P90’s power and ability to be concealed also make it an ideal weapon for cartel enforcers intent on conducting assassinations in an urban environment — especially those stalking targets wearing body armor.

The Five-Seven, which is even smaller than the P90, fires the same fast, penetrating cartridge. Indeed, cartel hit men have killed several Mexican police officers with these weapons in recent months. However, guns that fire the 5.7 mm-by-28 mm cartridge are certainly not the only type of weapons used in attacks against police — Mexican cops have been killed by many other types of weapons.

Reach Out and Touch Someone
While the P90 and Five-Seven are small and light, and use a small, fast round to penetrate armor, the .50-caliber cartridge fired by a Barrett sniper rifle is the polar opposite: It fires a huge chunk of lead. By way of comparison, the 5.7 mm-by-28 mm cartridge is just a little more than 1.5 inches long and has a 32-grain bullet. The .50-caliber Browning Machine Gun (BMG) cartridge is actually 12.7 mm by 99 mm, measures nearly 5.5 inches long and fires a 661-grain bullet. The P90 has a maximum effective range of 150 meters (about 165 yards), whereas a Barrett’s listed maximum effective range is 1,850 meters (about 2,020 yards) — and there are reports of coalition forces snipers in Afghanistan scoring kills at more than 2,000 meters (about 2,190 yards).

The .50-BMG round not only will punch through body armor and normal passenger vehicles, it can defeat the steel plate armor and the laminated ballistic glass and polycarbonate windows used in lightly armored vehicles. This is yet another reminder that there is no such thing as a bulletproof car. The round is also capable of penetrating many brick and concrete block walls.

We have heard reports for years of cartels seeking .50-caliber sniper rifles made by Barrett and other U.S. manufacturers. Additionally, we have noted many reports of seizures from arms smugglers in the United States of these weapons bound for Mexico, or of the weapons being found in Mexican cartel safe houses — such as the seven rifles seized in Reynosa. Unlike the P90s, however, we cannot recall even one instance of these powerful weapons being used in an attack against another cartel or against a Mexican government target. This is in marked contrast to Ireland, where the Irish Republican Army used .50-caliber Barrett rifles obtained from the United States in many sniper attacks against British troops and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

That Mexican cartels have not used these devastating weapons is surprising. There are in fact very few weapons in the arsenals of cartel enforcers that we have not seen used, including hand grenades, 40 mm grenades, LAW rockets and rocket-propelled grenades. Even though most intercartel warfare has occurred inside densely populated Mexican cities such as Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez and Nuevo Laredo — places where it would be very difficult to find a place to take a shot longer than a few hundred meters, much less a couple thousand — the power of the Barrett could be very effective for taking out targets wearing body armor, riding in armored vehicles, located inside the safe house of a rival cartel or even inside a government building. Also, unlike improvised explosive devices, which the cartels have avoided using for the most part, the use of .50-caliber rifles would not involve a high probability of collateral damage.

This indicates that the reason the cartels have not used these weapons is to be found in the nature of snipers and sniping.

Snipers
Most military and police snipers are highly trained and very self-disciplined. Being a sniper requires an incredible amount of practice, patience and preparation. Aside from rigorous training in marksmanship, the sniper must also be trained in camouflage, concealment and movement. Snipers are often forced to lie immobile for hours on end. Additional training is required for snipers operating in urban environments, which offer their own set of challenges to the sniper; though historically, as seen in battles like Stalingrad, urban snipers can be incredibly effective.

Snipers commonly deploy as part of a team of two, comprising a shooter and a spotter. This means two very self-disciplined individuals must be located and trained. The team must practice together and learn how to accurately estimate distances, wind speed, terrain elevation and other variables that can affect a bullet’s trajectory. An incredible amount of attention to detail is required for a sniper team to get into position and for their shots to travel several hundred meters and accurately, consistently strike a small target.

In spite of media hype and popular fiction, criminals or terrorists commit very few true sniper attacks. For example, many of our sniper friends were very upset that the media chose to label the string of murders committed by John Mohammed and Lee Boyd Malvo as the “D.C. Sniper Case.” While Mohammed and Malvo did use concealment, they commonly shot at targets between 50 and 100 meters (about 55 yards to 110 yards) away. Therefore, calling Mohammed and Malvo snipers was a serious insult to the genuine article. The assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the killing of Dr. Bernard Slepian, also have been dubbed sniper attacks, but they actually were all shootings committed at distances of less than 100 meters.

Of course, using a Barrett at short ranges (100 meters or less) is still incredibly effective and does not require a highly trained sniper — as a group of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agents found out in 1993 when they attempted to serve search and arrest warrants at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. The agents were met with .50-caliber sniper fire that ripped gaping holes through the Chevrolet Suburbans they sought cover behind. Many of the agents wounded in that incident were hit by the shrapnel created as the .50-caliber rounds punched through their vehicles.

While it is extremely powerful, the Barrett is however a long, heavy weapon. If the sniper lacks training in urban warfare, it might prove very difficult to move around with the gun and also to find a concealed place to employ it. This may partially explain why the Mexican cartels have not used the weapons more.

Moreover, while the Zetas originally comprised deserters from the Mexican military and over the years have shown an ability to conduct assaults and ambushes, we have not traditionally seen them deploy as snipers. Today, most of the original Zetas are now in upper management, and no longer serve as foot soldiers.

The newer men brought into the Zetas include some former military and police officers along with some young gangster types; most of them lack the level of training possessed by the original Zetas. While the Zetas have also brought on a number of former Kaibiles, Guatemalan special operations forces personnel, most of them appear to be assigned as bodyguards for senior Zetas. This may mean we are not seeing the cartels employ snipers because their rank-and-file enforcers do not possess the discipline or training to function as snipers.

Potential Problems
Of course, criminal syndicates in possession of these weapons still pose a large potential threat to U.S. law enforcement officers, especially when the weapons are in the hands of people like Gonzalez Duran and his henchmen. According to an FBI intelligence memo dated Oct. 17 and leaked to the media, Gonzalez Duran appeared to have gotten wind of the planned operation against him. He reportedly had authorized those under his command to defend their turf at any cost, to include engagements with U.S. law enforcement agents. It is important to remember that a chunk of that turf was adjacent to the U.S. border and American towns, and that Reynosa — where Gonzalez Duran was arrested and the weapons were seized — is just across the border from McAllen, Texas.

Armed with small, powerful weapons like the P90, cartel gunmen can pose a tremendous threat to any law enforcement officer who encounters them in a traffic stop or drug raid. Over the past several years, we have noted several instances of U.S. Border Patrol agents and other U.S. law enforcement officers being shot at from Mexico. The thought of being targeted by a weapon with the range and power of a .50-caliber sniper rifle would almost certainly send chills up the spine of any Border Patrol agent or sheriff’s deputy working along the border.

Armed with assault rifles, hand grenades and .50-caliber sniper rifles, cartel enforcers have the potential to wreak havoc and outgun U.S. law enforcement officers. The only saving grace for U.S. law enforcement is that many cartel enforcers are often impaired by drugs or alcohol and tend to be impetuous and reckless. While the cartel gunmen are better trained than most Mexican authorities, their training does not stack up to that of most U.S. law enforcement officers. This was illustrated by an incident on Nov. 6 in Austin, Texas, when a police officer used his service pistol to kill a cartel gunman who fired on the officer with an AK-47.

While the arrest of Gonzalez Duran and the seizure of the huge arms cache in Reynosa have taken some killers and weapons off the street, they are only one small drop in the bucket. There are many heavily armed cartel enforcers still at large in Mexico, and the violence is spreading over the border into the United States. Law enforcement officers in the United States therefore need to maintain a keen awareness of the threat.

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23542  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Worrying signs from Border raids on: November 13, 2008, 12:12:15 AM
Worrying Signs from Border Raids
November 12, 2008
By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels

Last week, the Mexican government carried out a number of operations in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, aimed at Jaime “El Hummer” Gonzalez Duran, one of the original members of the brutal cartel group known as Los Zetas. According to Mexican government officials, Gonzalez Duran controlled the Zetas’ operations in nine Mexican states.

The Nov. 7 arrest of Gonzalez Duran was a major victory for the Mexican government and will undoubtedly be a major blow to the Zetas. Taking Gonzalez Duran off the streets, however, is not the only aspect of these operations with greater implications. The day before Gonzalez Duran’s arrest, Mexican officials searching for him raided a safe house, where they discovered an arms cache that would turn out to be the largest weapons seizure in Mexican history. This is no small feat, as there have been several large hauls of weapons seized from the Zetas and other Mexican cartel groups in recent years.

The weapons seized at the Gonzalez Duran safe house included more than 500 firearms, a half-million rounds of ammunition and 150 grenades. The cache also included a LAW rocket, two grenade launchers and a small amount of explosives. Along with the scores of assorted assault rifles, grenades and a handful of gaudy gold-plated pistols were some weapons that require a bit more examination: namely, the 14 Fabrique Nationale (FN) P90 personal defense weapons and the seven Barrett .50-caliber sniper rifles contained in the seizure.

Matapolicias
As previously noted, the FN Five-Seven pistol and FN P90 personal defense weapon are very popular with the various cartel enforcer groups operating in Mexico. The Five-Seven and the P90 shoot a 5.7 mm-by-28 mm round that has been shown to be effective in penetrating body armor as well as vehicle doors and windows. Because of this ability to punch through body armor, cartel enforcers call the weapons “matapolicias,” Spanish for “cop killers.” Of course, AK-47 and M-16-style assault rifles are also effective at penetrating body armor and vehicles, as are large-caliber hunting rifles such as the 30.06 and the .308. But the advantage of the Five-Seven and the P90 is that they provide this penetration capability in a much smaller — and thus far more concealable — package.

The P90 is a personal defense weapon designed to be carried by tank crew members or combat support personnel who require a compact weapon capable of penetrating body armor. It is considered impractical for such soldiers to be issued full-size infantry rifles or even assault rifles, so traditionally these troops were issued pistols and submachine guns. The proliferation of body armor on the modern battlefield, however, has rendered many pistols and submachine guns that fire pistol ammunition ineffective. Because of this, support troops needed a small weapon that could protect them from armored troops; the P90 fits this bill.

In fact, the P90 lends itself to anyone who needs powerful, concealable weapons. Protective security details, some police officers and some special operations forces operators thus have begun using the P90 and other personal defense weapons. The P90’s power and ability to be concealed also make it an ideal weapon for cartel enforcers intent on conducting assassinations in an urban environment — especially those stalking targets wearing body armor.

The Five-Seven, which is even smaller than the P90, fires the same fast, penetrating cartridge. Indeed, cartel hit men have killed several Mexican police officers with these weapons in recent months. However, guns that fire the 5.7 mm-by-28 mm cartridge are certainly not the only type of weapons used in attacks against police — Mexican cops have been killed by many other types of weapons.

Reach Out and Touch Someone
While the P90 and Five-Seven are small and light, and use a small, fast round to penetrate armor, the .50-caliber cartridge fired by a Barrett sniper rifle is the polar opposite: It fires a huge chunk of lead. By way of comparison, the 5.7 mm-by-28 mm cartridge is just a little more than 1.5 inches long and has a 32-grain bullet. The .50-caliber Browning Machine Gun (BMG) cartridge is actually 12.7 mm by 99 mm, measures nearly 5.5 inches long and fires a 661-grain bullet. The P90 has a maximum effective range of 150 meters (about 165 yards), whereas a Barrett’s listed maximum effective range is 1,850 meters (about 2,020 yards) — and there are reports of coalition forces snipers in Afghanistan scoring kills at more than 2,000 meters (about 2,190 yards).

The .50-BMG round not only will punch through body armor and normal passenger vehicles, it can defeat the steel plate armor and the laminated ballistic glass and polycarbonate windows used in lightly armored vehicles. This is yet another reminder that there is no such thing as a bulletproof car. The round is also capable of penetrating many brick and concrete block walls.

We have heard reports for years of cartels seeking .50-caliber sniper rifles made by Barrett and other U.S. manufacturers. Additionally, we have noted many reports of seizures from arms smugglers in the United States of these weapons bound for Mexico, or of the weapons being found in Mexican cartel safe houses — such as the seven rifles seized in Reynosa. Unlike the P90s, however, we cannot recall even one instance of these powerful weapons being used in an attack against another cartel or against a Mexican government target. This is in marked contrast to Ireland, where the Irish Republican Army used .50-caliber Barrett rifles obtained from the United States in many sniper attacks against British troops and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

That Mexican cartels have not used these devastating weapons is surprising. There are in fact very few weapons in the arsenals of cartel enforcers that we have not seen used, including hand grenades, 40 mm grenades, LAW rockets and rocket-propelled grenades. Even though most intercartel warfare has occurred inside densely populated Mexican cities such as Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez and Nuevo Laredo — places where it would be very difficult to find a place to take a shot longer than a few hundred meters, much less a couple thousand — the power of the Barrett could be very effective for taking out targets wearing body armor, riding in armored vehicles, located inside the safe house of a rival cartel or even inside a government building. Also, unlike improvised explosive devices, which the cartels have avoided using for the most part, the use of .50-caliber rifles would not involve a high probability of collateral damage.

This indicates that the reason the cartels have not used these weapons is to be found in the nature of snipers and sniping.

Snipers
Most military and police snipers are highly trained and very self-disciplined. Being a sniper requires an incredible amount of practice, patience and preparation. Aside from rigorous training in marksmanship, the sniper must also be trained in camouflage, concealment and movement. Snipers are often forced to lie immobile for hours on end. Additional training is required for snipers operating in urban environments, which offer their own set of challenges to the sniper; though historically, as seen in battles like Stalingrad, urban snipers can be incredibly effective.

Snipers commonly deploy as part of a team of two, comprising a shooter and a spotter. This means two very self-disciplined individuals must be located and trained. The team must practice together and learn how to accurately estimate distances, wind speed, terrain elevation and other variables that can affect a bullet’s trajectory. An incredible amount of attention to detail is required for a sniper team to get into position and for their shots to travel several hundred meters and accurately, consistently strike a small target.

In spite of media hype and popular fiction, criminals or terrorists commit very few true sniper attacks. For example, many of our sniper friends were very upset that the media chose to label the string of murders committed by John Mohammed and Lee Boyd Malvo as the “D.C. Sniper Case.” While Mohammed and Malvo did use concealment, they commonly shot at targets between 50 and 100 meters (about 55 yards to 110 yards) away. Therefore, calling Mohammed and Malvo snipers was a serious insult to the genuine article. The assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the killing of Dr. Bernard Slepian, also have been dubbed sniper attacks, but they actually were all shootings committed at distances of less than 100 meters.

Of course, using a Barrett at short ranges (100 meters or less) is still incredibly effective and does not require a highly trained sniper — as a group of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agents found out in 1993 when they attempted to serve search and arrest warrants at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. The agents were met with .50-caliber sniper fire that ripped gaping holes through the Chevrolet Suburbans they sought cover behind. Many of the agents wounded in that incident were hit by the shrapnel created as the .50-caliber rounds punched through their vehicles.

While it is extremely powerful, the Barrett is however a long, heavy weapon. If the sniper lacks training in urban warfare, it might prove very difficult to move around with the gun and also to find a concealed place to employ it. This may partially explain why the Mexican cartels have not used the weapons more.

Moreover, while the Zetas originally comprised deserters from the Mexican military and over the years have shown an ability to conduct assaults and ambushes, we have not traditionally seen them deploy as snipers. Today, most of the original Zetas are now in upper management, and no longer serve as foot soldiers.

The newer men brought into the Zetas include some former military and police officers along with some young gangster types; most of them lack the level of training possessed by the original Zetas. While the Zetas have also brought on a number of former Kaibiles, Guatemalan special operations forces personnel, most of them appear to be assigned as bodyguards for senior Zetas. This may mean we are not seeing the cartels employ snipers because their rank-and-file enforcers do not possess the discipline or training to function as snipers.

Potential Problems
Of course, criminal syndicates in possession of these weapons still pose a large potential threat to U.S. law enforcement officers, especially when the weapons are in the hands of people like Gonzalez Duran and his henchmen. According to an FBI intelligence memo dated Oct. 17 and leaked to the media, Gonzalez Duran appeared to have gotten wind of the planned operation against him. He reportedly had authorized those under his command to defend their turf at any cost, to include engagements with U.S. law enforcement agents. It is important to remember that a chunk of that turf was adjacent to the U.S. border and American towns, and that Reynosa — where Gonzalez Duran was arrested and the weapons were seized — is just across the border from McAllen, Texas.

Armed with small, powerful weapons like the P90, cartel gunmen can pose a tremendous threat to any law enforcement officer who encounters them in a traffic stop or drug raid. Over the past several years, we have noted several instances of U.S. Border Patrol agents and other U.S. law enforcement officers being shot at from Mexico. The thought of being targeted by a weapon with the range and power of a .50-caliber sniper rifle would almost certainly send chills up the spine of any Border Patrol agent or sheriff’s deputy working along the border.

Armed with assault rifles, hand grenades and .50-caliber sniper rifles, cartel enforcers have the potential to wreak havoc and outgun U.S. law enforcement officers. The only saving grace for U.S. law enforcement is that many cartel enforcers are often impaired by drugs or alcohol and tend to be impetuous and reckless. While the cartel gunmen are better trained than most Mexican authorities, their training does not stack up to that of most U.S. law enforcement officers. This was illustrated by an incident on Nov. 6 in Austin, Texas, when a police officer used his service pistol to kill a cartel gunman who fired on the officer with an AK-47.

While the arrest of Gonzalez Duran and the seizure of the huge arms cache in Reynosa have taken some killers and weapons off the street, they are only one small drop in the bucket. There are many heavily armed cartel enforcers still at large in Mexico, and the violence is spreading over the border into the United States. Law enforcement officers in the United States therefore need to maintain a keen awareness of the threat.

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23543  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The First Amendment on: November 12, 2008, 11:59:55 PM
Is that even possible?
23544  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: November 12, 2008, 11:58:47 PM
Thank you Doug-- both for your answer and for posting here on this thread where the subject matter properly belongs. 

FWIW I just posted a brief answer on the thread in question.  If there are to be any rejoinders to it, please let them be here.
23545  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: November 12, 2008, 11:54:28 PM
Well articulated Doug.

I would add that my idea of any patriotic American would find such a man (and his wife) utterly reprehensible and be unwilling to be involved with him.
23546  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 12, 2008, 11:53:11 PM
OK, that give me a sense of where you are at on this subject.

Briefly (and this is a huge subject!) deflating a currency has several consequences.  Off the top of my head here are some of them in no particular order:

1) Amongst the most important is the misallocation of investment capital.  This is a matter of HUGE importance-- for example too many homes get built.  This leads to a bubble, which when it bursts creates calamity and tragedy-- (and the free market gets blamed angry tongue )

2) Savers get screwed.  For example, they save what should be enough for old age, then the government comes along and decimates the values of their savings leaving them with a much harder old age-- this then makes them more dependent upon the government;

3) With negative interest rates (inflation + taxes being greater than the interest rate) people are penalized for saving.  This leads to one or both of two behaviors: First-- less saving and Second-- riskier investments as savers/investors seek to outrun the dimunition of their savings through inflation and taxes.  We see both of these behaviors in abundance on the American landscape.

4) A devaluing currency.  Because of the unique role of the dollar in the world economy (i.e. we are the main currency of international transactions) this has profound consequences for the world economy.  What happens is that when the dollar depreciates, other countries often feel that this then creates a price advantage for our products on the international market.  So other countries print more money too so as to maintain stable exchange rates.  This was a major variable in the creation and the maintainence of the Great Depression.  These were known as "beggar thy neighbor" devaluations i.e. by devlaing my currency, my country's products become cheaper and my people make the sales and your people do not.  The net result is that everyone tries to devalue which means simply that too much money is created and a world-wide inflation is unleashed.  We just saw this in the commodity bubbles (including oil) and the housing bubbles world-wide.  When the bubble bursts (and it always will) the consequences are terrible--e.g. the current meltdown and often lead those who created the problem blaming the market and panicing people into giving them power to control and manipulate the market even more!!! 

Does this help?
Marc
23547  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 12, 2008, 05:08:08 PM
Are you serious?
23548  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: What would you like to see from DBMA? on: November 12, 2008, 04:41:51 PM
Yes, and moral and spiritual too.
23549  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: November 12, 2008, 11:51:28 AM
Can Newt Save the GOP?

Both the Democratic and Republican National Committees are likely to have new leadership next year.

Former Democratic Governor Howard Dean of Vermont is stepping down, having completely recovered from his unfortunate reputation as an erratic and wildly liberal 2004 presidential contender. As chairman of the DNC, he adopted a controversial "50-state strategy" that had the party pouring resources into states it normally didn't contest. His strategy paid off this year as Barack Obama won such states as Indiana and Virginia that had not voted Democratic at the presidential level since Barry Goldwater's landslide loss in 1964.

Unknown yet is whom Mr. Dean's replacement will be, but it's certainly going to be someone President-elect Obama will have confidence in -- campaign manager David Plouffe comes to mind.

On the Republican side, the jockeying to replace current GOP Chairman Mike Duncan has begun. Mr. Duncan has been a competent administrator and fundraiser but the widely perceived need for new blood in the wake of the party's second consecutive drubbing at the polls makes him unlikely to be re-elected.

Several candidates are lining up to replace him. Michigan GOP State Chairman Saul Anuzis is actively campaigning on a platform of reinvigorating the party's grass roots and returning to basic conservative principles. South Carolina Party Chairman Kalton Dawson is touting his fundraising abilities as he rounds up votes among fellow RNC members.

But several insiders believe the next RNC chairman must have some star power and an ability to get on national talk shows at a time when the new Obama administration will dominate media coverage. Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, now chairman of the GOPAC conservative training academy, is allowing friends to make calls on his behalf. Mr. Steele is already a fixture on cable TV news shows and well known in Washington D.C. conservative circles.

But some Republicans are touting someone with an even bigger media profile -- former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. "The Republican National Committee has to ask itself if it wants someone who has successfully led a revolution," Randy Evans, Mr. Gingrich's personal attorney, told the Washington Times this week. "If it does, Newt's the one."

While it sounds implausible, many Republicans think a return of Mr. Gingrich to the national stage would be the jolt of energy the party needs. They point out that many were also skeptical that Howard Dean could sublimate his ego enough to become a successful party leader -- a worry clearly now proven wrong in Mr. Dean's case.

-- John Fund

Belushi and Ackroyd, They're Not

C-SPAN unearthed a remarkable video from its archives this week. Back in 2005, freshly minted U.S. Senator Barack Obama was part of a celebrity roast for his Chicago pal Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who is now about to become his White House chief of staff. The event, a charity benefit for an epilepsy foundation run by the wife of Obama strategist David Axelrod, provides an eerie preview of the new top players in Washington.

During his turn at the microphone, Mr. Obama took a risk and joked about an accident the teenage Emanuel suffered that caused him to lose part of his middle finger. "As a result, this rendered him practically mute," Mr. Obama joked about the famously profane Mr. Emanuel.

Mr. Obama also had fun with the fact that the young Rahm practiced ballet, quipping that his friend was "the very first to develop Machiavelli's 'The Prince' for dance. It was an intriguing piece -- a lot of kicks below the waist."

No dinner honoring a Chicago pol would have been complete without a few pokes at the city's rich tradition of political corruption. Mr. Obama obliged, noting that he was in awe of the fact that Mr. Emanuel had avoided appearing before a criminal grand jury. He chalked it up to the fact that Mr. Emanuel shared the same lawyer as Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak, who was then in hot water over the Valerie Plame affair.

All in good fun, but here's hoping that notwithstanding the jokes about Chicago, not too many of its cultural mores and patronage politics seep into the DNA of the Obama administration.

-- John Fund

Read Their Lips

It wasn't all bad news for conservatives on November 4th. Voters across the country decided the fate of scores of ballot initiatives dealing with taxes and government spending. With our friends at the National Taxpayers Union and Americans for Tax Reform, we've compiled some of the most important results. For the most part, voters aren't in a full-fledged tax revolt but they're a lot less enthusiastic about new taxes than President-elect Obama seems to be.

First, the defeats. Two of the most prominent anti-tax initiatives, one in Massachusetts to abolish the income tax and another in North Dakota to cut income taxes by 15%, failed by two-to-one margins. In a previous election, an initiative to abolish the Massachusetts income tax had come within four percentage points of winning. What changed? Carla Howell, who led the effort to repeal the tax, was quoted in the Boston Globe: "The teachers unions spent 100 times more on advertising than we did. The message to voters: advertising works."

Minnesotans were among the few voters in the country who said "yes" to new taxes. An initiative to raise the sales tax by 3/8ths of a percentage point pay for the arts was approved.

But otherwise, the left's crusade to raise revenues for new spending programs was mostly beaten back and in some cases trounced. Arizonans voted to ban transfer taxes on property sales by 77% to 23%. Maine voters repealed an alcohol and soda pop tax by 64% to 36%. Coloradoans rejected a teensy 0.2 percentage point sales tax hike to benefit the disabled by 63% to 37%. Floridians defeated a measure that would have allowed localities to propose new sales taxes to benefit community colleges by 57% to 43%. The left's latest crusade to impose "fat taxes" on McDonalds and other fast food purchases was clobbered in localities in North Carolina and Virginia, even as these voters helped elect Barack Obama. Finally, one of the biggest successes for anti-tax activists was defeating an amendment to gut the spending limits in Colorado's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, despite huge money spent by the spending constituencies.

Though California was home to one of the nation's seminal tax revolts -- 1978's Proposition 13 -- the latest results in the Golden State were mixed. Voters inexplicably approved a high-speed rail bond of $10 billion, with at least another $30 billion of spending required to complete the project. This is a state that's already hopelessly mired in debt.

On the other hand, renewable energy may be a liberal and environmentalist panacea, but even Californians apparently aren't too eager to pay for it. Voters rejected $5 billion in renewable energy program bonds by 60% to 40% and thrashed a measure requiring all utilities to generate at least one-fifth of their power from renewable energy by 2010 (it lost by 65% to 35%). Colorado voters also crushed Governor Bill Ritter's tax on "big oil."

"We had some big victories last Tuesday," says National Taxpayer Union spokesman Pete Sepp. "We blocked a lot of bad things from happening." That's what Republicans in Congress will have to learn to do over the next four years.

-- Stephen Moore

Quote of the Day I

"Sarah Palin made a vast difference in John McCain's favor. Compared to 2004, McCain lost 11 points among white men according to the Fox News exit poll but only 4 points among white women. Barack Obama's underperformance among white women, evident throughout the fall, may be chalked up, in large part, to the influence of Palin. She provided a rallying point for women who saw their political agenda in terms larger than abortion. She addressed the question of what it is like to be a working mother in today's economy and society, and resonated with tens of millions of white women who have not responded to the more traditional, and liberal, advocates for their gender" -- political analyst Dick Morris in his syndicated column.

Quote of the Day II

"Now it's starting to get creepy. In an odd way, the selection of Rahm Emanuel as Barack Obama's chief of staff fulfills yet another plot line that unfolded during the final season of NBC's 'West Wing,' which must have been written by Nostradamus. As aficionados of the long-running show will know, Emanuel is widely cited as inspiration for the character of Josh Lyman, who becomes the chief of staff to the new president, Matthew Santos. And the real conspiracy theorists know why that's important: The Santos character is modeled after Obama. (The writers spoke repeatedly with David Axelrod while composing their prophetic plot lines.) This isn't the first parallel to emerge from the show. . . . At this rate, John McCain will be named as Obama's secretary of state. After all, that's how the season ends, with Santos picking his former rival in the ultimate gesture of bipartisanship" -- Lucas Grindley, writing at Government Executive magazine's "Lost in Transition" blog.

Voters vs. Tort Sharks

One heartening aspect of last week's election was a surge of voters taking a new -- and inspired -- interest in elections for state attorneys general. The public clearly has become wary of top law officers with ties to the tort bar who campaign to increase litigation and target the business community.

In West Virginia, a little known GOP lawyer Dan Greear came within a few thousand votes of knocking off state AG and institution Darrell McGraw, who now begins his 16th year in the job. Mr. Greear was supposed to be a write-off -- he was outmatched in funding, name recognition, and up against a powerful, populist AG who has long used his position to dole out political patronage (culled from legal settlements) to favored constituencies. Mr. Greear nonetheless managed to surprise the political establishment by nearly pulling off an upset. In the process, he educated a lot of voters about what their state's reputation as a legal hellhole was costing its economy. He also inspired a cowed West Virginia business community to take a stand against Mr. McGraw's pro-litigation agenda.

Mr. Greear may have lost, but his efforts will likely have a lasting impact. Call it the Eliot Spitzer effect: Mr. McGraw is now on notice that a lot more voters have been clued in to the game he's been playing and don't approve.

Meanwhile, sitting GOP attorneys general in Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington State handily fought off challenges from Democratic opponents who had campaigned in favor of bigger, nastier litigation. In Indiana, Greg Zoeller, chief deputy for the current attorney general, won the top slot in part by noting that his office never had been close to trial lawyers. His Democratic opponent, Linda Pence, was a trial attorney. In North Carolina, a pro-business Democrat, Roy Cooper (who as attorney general threw out the Duke rape case) was reelected in his race against a Republican personal injury lawyer.

Sadly, Missouri and Oregon both elected particularly anti-business Democrats to the AG's office -- for which they may eventually pay a price in lost jobs and investment. In the middle of hard economic times, voters elsewhere have figured out that they make their states more competitive by electing an attorney general committed to the rule of law, rather than to shaking down business for the benefit of special interest groups.
23550  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: November 12, 2008, 11:27:51 AM
FWIW I'd have put BBG's post in one of the Islam in Action threads.

Anyway, changing the subject completely  smiley

“Coming out” puts adolescents at risk
Encouraging adolescents with same-sex attractions to identify as gay has no scientific or ethical justification.
How should schools treat students who self-identify as homosexual? Today entire school systems in a number of states and counties promote “acceptance”. The demand for acceptance is based on the premise that patterns of sexual attraction – to the other sex or to same sex are determined at birth and unchangeable; therefore, everyone – the affected students themselves, their parents, teachers, and classmates – should be educated and when necessary pressured into accepting same-sex attraction (SSA) as normal and as healthy as the love between a man and a woman in marriage.

There is, however, no evidence to support the claim that SSA is genetically determined and unchangeable. If it were, one would expect that identical twins would always have the same pattern of sexual attraction. A study led by J. Michael Bailey based on the twins registry in Australia found that among male identical twins, when one twin had SSA, in only 11 per cent of the cases so did the other. This research virtually precludes genetic determination.

There is also no evidence to support the claim that SSA is unchangeable. There are numerous reports of people understanding the emotional conflicts that led them to SSA, successfully addressing these weaknesses and then experiencing a new pattern of sexual attraction. A large study of sexuality led by Edward Lauman found the percentage of people self-identifying as homosexual declining over time. Lisa Diamond found that patterns of sexual attraction are particularly unstable among women.

Those who support acceptance might argue that even if SSA is not genetically determined and changeable it would still be better for those experiencing these feelings to “come out” and be accepted as homosexual by the school community. This view ignores the very real risks that accompany coming out, particularly for males.

Vulnerable boys

Over 40 per cent of males who self-identify as homosexual (“gay”) before age 18 have been victims of sexual abuse or sexual assault. (Doll et al, 1992) An even higher percentage has suffered from untreated Gender Identity Disorder. (Zucker, Bradley, 1995) A study of the sexual behavior of 239 homosexually active males, 13 to 21, found that 42 per cent had a history of sexual abuse/assault. (Remafedi, 1994; Osmond, 1994) A study of 425 homosexual males, ages 17 to 22, found that 41.4 per cent reported an occasion of forced sex. (Halkitis, Wilton, Drescher, eds. 2005; Wainberg 2006) Forced sex rarely involves “safe” sex practices. (Kalichman, Rompa 1995)

Sexual child abuse and sexual assault have been linked to long-term psychological problems, including depression, sexual addiction, drug addiction, involvement in prostitution, and suicidal feelings. Some of these young men see their victimization as proof that they were “born” homosexual. Programs directed to acceptance rarely acknowledge or address these problems. When these serious emotional conflicts are not uncovered and treated, these males often act out in ways that are dangerous to themselves and to others. It is important to address this highly prevalent problem in young males with SSA.

At high risk of infection

Even if an adolescent male with SSA was not the victim of sexual abuse and did not experience untreated gender identity disorder GID, engaging in homosexual activity as an adolescent carries a high and truly unacceptable risk.

New statistics from the Centers for Disease Control reveal that the epidemic among young men who have sex with men (MSM) is raging unabated. In August 2008, it was revealed that the CDC had underestimated the number of new cases of HIV by 40 per cent. The report found that while new infections among heterosexuals and injection drug users are falling, new infections continue to increase in younger MSM. In 2006, the number of MSM aged 13-24 diagnosed with HIV/AIDS increased by 18 per cent over the previous year.

A study of sexual risk behaviors of young MSM aged 17-22 found that 22 per cent reported beginning anal sex with men when they were ages 3 to 14; of these 15.2 per cent were already HIV positive. Of those who began sex when they were 15-19, 11.6 per cent were HIV positive, while of those who began sex with men when they were 20-22, only 3.8 per cent were HIV positive. (Lemp, 1994) It is clear that every year a male with SSA delays sexual involvement reduces his risk of HIV.

Vulnerable young men may use the internet to seek out sexual partners. Out magazine, a publication targeted to MSM, ran an article by Michael Gross (2008) on how MSM are using the internet, posting pornographic pictures of themselves, and becoming addicted to the process of cruising on the web. Gross worries about the “health risks” and “psychological dissociation that’s characteristic of online social life.” Men may be looking for love but, Gross suggests, “You might as well train for a marathon by doing sprints in a minefield.”

Once a young man has exposed himself on the internet, whatever he has put up becomes part of the public record forever. The 15-year-old boy who realizes at 20 that his SSA was just a phase of his life related to weaknesses in male confidence will have those pictures follow him for the rest of his life.

HIV/AIDS is not the only disease affecting MSM. The number of sexually transmitted infections (STI) transmitted by homosexual activity is staggering. They include syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, hepatitis B and C, lymphogranuloma vernereum and human papillomavirus (HPV), which has been linked to genital warts and a number of cancers. (Carter, 2007) HPV is transmitted by skin contact and therefore condoms provide only minimal protection. The much-touted new HPV vaccine protects against only four of the 100 varieties of this disease.

In some areas the increase in syphilis infections has been traced to an increased use of crystal meth and “high risk sexual behavior at resorts or bath houses, or through meetings initiated over the Internet.” (Brian, 2004; Klausner, 2000)

Not only are MSM at high risk for infection with HIV and many other STIs, the problem compounds itself in that infection with another STI makes a man more vulnerable to HIV and an HIV-positive man is more likely to contract another STI. According to a recent study, “HIV positive men who have sex with men are up to 90 times more likely than the general population to develop anal cancer.” (Cranston, Ross, 2007)

Recently, doctors in San Francisco traced outbreaks in San Francisco and Boston of multidrug-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MSRA), the flesh-eating bacteria, to homosexual activity.  It is also possible that a new, yet unidentified disease will find its way into this community. In 1980 before the first case of AIDS was identified, Dr. Selma Dritz, an expert on STI’s, looked at the behaviors of MSM and warned, “There are so many opportunities for transmission that, if something new gets loose here, we’re going to have hell to pay.” (Shilts, Randy, And the Band Played On). Her warning came too late; by 1980 the HIV virus was already spreading among MSM. Tragically, in spite of massive education the high-risk behaviors continue.

As treatment for AIDS has improved and life expectancy has increased, young MSM no longer fear HIV as they should. Many of those who start out planning to use condoms, fail to do so because they are drunk or are high on drugs or don’t want to send a message that they don’t trust their partner. If this is a pattern among adult MSM, it is not surprising that adolescent males who have sex with males ignore warnings.

Does education prevent infection?

A large study on the association of health risk behaviors and sexual orientation among adolescents concluded: “GLB youth who self-identify during high school report disproportionate risk for a variety of health risk and problem behaviors, including suicide, victimization, sexual risk behaviors, and multiple substance abuse use. In addition, these youth are more likely to report engaging in multiple risk behaviors and initiating risk behaviors at an earlier age than their peers.” (Garofalo, 1998)

Homosexual activists forced to explain why persons with SSA are at “elevated” risk for addictions, partner abuse, rampant promiscuity, anxiety, depression and suicidality usually blame the increased problems on the stress of living in a rejecting, “hateful and heterosexist” culture. (Cochran, Mays 2007) They then use these problems to justify pro-homosexual education in schools. However, if this view were true then one would expect to see lower levels of severe psychiatric illnesses in more accepting cultures such as the Netherlands, but this is not the case. (Sandfort, 2006)

The hope that identifying boys with SSA and providing them with HIV prevention education will reduce the risk of STI infections is not supported by the research. According to a review of studies of HIV prevention programs, “the efficacy of health education interventions in reducing sexual risk for HIV infection has not been consistently demonstrated…More education, over long periods of time, cannot be assumed to be effective in inducing behavior changes among chronically high risk males.” (Stall, Coates, Hoff, 1988)

Dr. Philip Alcabes, an epidemiologist, commenting on the latest CDC data to the New York Times said, “t looks like prevention campaigns make even less difference than anyone thought… HIV incidence did not decline as much from the 1980s to the 1990s as we believed despite the dramatic increase in condom promotion and so-called prevention education.”

He quoted an editorial in Lancet, a leading medical journal, that was even blunter: “U.S. efforts to prevent HIV have failed dismally.”

AIDS education, which provides children and adolescents with explicit information about the various forms of sexual behavior that spread the disease, may create curiosity and encourage experimentation among young men. Because AIDS education has also been used as a vehicle for promoting positive attitudes toward homosexuality, while at the same time ignoring the serious health risks associated with SSA, it is possible that the number of young men experimenting with homosexuality will increase.

As support groups in schools for males who think that they might be homosexual are being established, younger boys will be encouraged to "come out." This "coming out" will probably include engaging in sexual activity at an earlier age and more often. These young men may be attracted to the urban homosexual community, traveling to centers of homosexual activity where they are likely to encounter HIV-positive adults interested in engaging in sexual activity with attractive teenagers. This can lead to hustling (receiving money or compensation for sex) which is a high-risk activity.

A brochure, entitled Just the Facts about Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators, and School Personnel, was sent to school officials by a coalition of groups including the National Education Association. It claimed: “If school environments become more positive for lesbian, gay, and bisexual students, it is likely that their differences in health, mental health, and substance abuse will decrease.” This has not been born out by experience. Nothing could be more positive than the Harvey Milk school in Manhattan, which was set up to provide a safe environment for students with atypical sexual orientations and gender identities, yet in November of 2003, five male students were arrested. They had for some time been intimidating other students, working as prostitutes, blackmailing Johns, stealing from trendy stores, and involved with ecstasy and cocaine. (Cross, 2003)

Given the substantial, well-documented risks involved in engaging in homosexual activity as an adolescent and since a certain percentage of males who experience SSA in adolescence find that these feelings disappear in time, schools should not encourage adolescent males to “come out”, but, instead, offer positive support for addressing the serious emotional problems in these teenagers.

Girls

While adolescent females with SSA do not face the same risk for STIs as males, a significant number of these young women with SSA have been victims of sexual abuse or rape. (Bradford, 1994) SSA is even less stable among young women than among young men with some females finding themselves attracted to men and to women at different times in their lives. Many adolescent girls have crushes on female teachers or coaches. With time and growth in maturity these feelings resolve. Rather than assuming that every young female who ever experiences any SSA is permanently homosexual, schools should encourage young women to try to understand themselves and wait before identifying themselves as homosexual.

Finally, educators, like physicians and mental health professionals, have a serious responsibility to provide informed consent to their students and not advocate a lifestyle which has serious medical and psychiatric illnesses associated with it without warning students about such risks.

Dale O’Leary is a US writer with a special interest in psycho-sexual issues and is the author of two books: One Man, One Woman" and The Gender Agenda. She collaborated on this article with Richard P. Fitzgibbons, M.D., a psychiatrist and Director of Comprehensive Counselling Services in W. Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, and Peter Kleponis, M.S., a psychotherapist also based in Philadelphia.

* A complete version of this paper with footnotes can be found in the Backgrounders section of this website: Same-sex attraction in adolescents

 
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