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24051  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cassandras wrong again? on: May 12, 2008, 11:50:08 AM
NY Times



BASRA, Iraq — Three hundred miles south of Baghdad, the oil-saturated city of Basra has been transformed by its own surge, now seven weeks old.

The Quietening of Basra In a rare success, forces loyal to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki have largely quieted the city, to the initial surprise and growing delight of many inhabitants who only a month ago shuddered under deadly clashes between Iraqi troops and Shiite militias.

Just as in Baghdad, Iraqi and Western officials emphasize that the gains here are “fragile,” like the newly planted roadside saplings that fail to conceal mounds of garbage and pools of foul-smelling water in the historic port city’s slums.

Among the many uncertainties are whether the government, criticized for incompetence at the start of the operation, can maintain the high level of troops here. But in interviews across Basra, residents overwhelmingly reported a substantial improvement in their everyday lives.

“The circle of fear is broken,” said Shaker, owner of a floating restaurant on Basra’s famed Corniche promenade, who, although optimistic, was still afraid to give his full name, as were many of those interviewed.

Hopes for a similar outcome in Baghdad’s Sadr City district were undercut when an Iraqi armored unit was struck by three roadside bombs on Sunday, one day after a cease-fire there was negotiated.

The principal factor for improvement that people in Basra cite is the deployment of 33,000 members of the Iraqi security forces after the March 24 start of operations, which allowed the government to blanket the city with checkpoints on every major intersection and highway.

Borrowing tactics from the troop increase in Baghdad, the Iraqi forces raided militia strongholds and arrested hundreds of suspects. They also seized weapons including mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and sophisticated roadside bombs that officials say were used by Iranian-backed groups responsible for much of the violence.

Government forces have now taken over Islamic militants’ headquarters and halted the death squads and “vice ‘enforcers’ ” who attacked women, Christians, musicians, alcohol sellers and anyone suspected of collaborating with Westerners.

Shaker’s floating restaurant stands as one emblem of the change since then.

Just two months ago, he said, masked men in military uniforms walked into the packed dining room and abducted a businessman at gunpoint. The man was never seen again, and the restaurant closed.

Now, however, customers who fled that evening are pressing the 34-year-old owner to stay open later at night, so they can enjoy their unaccustomed freedom from the gangs, which once banned the loud Arabic pop music now blaring from Shaker’s loudspeakers.

“Now it is very different,” he said. “After we heard that the lawless people have been arrested or killed, we have a kind of courage.”

Even alcohol, once banned by the extremists, is discreetly on sale again in some areas.

Nevertheless, few Basra residents trust that the change is permanent or that the death squads have been vanquished.

Asked how long it would take for Basra to slip back into lawlessness if the army departed, Afrah, a 20-year-old theater student at Basra’s College of Fine Arts, replied, “One day.”

Capturing a mood that flits between bad recent memories, giddy relief and brittle future expectations, she added, “It is over, but it could come back any moment, because the people who are doing the intimidation on the streets, sometimes they are your neighbor and you trust them.”

Mr. Maliki’s hastily begun operation to rein in the extremists did not start with great promise.

The offensive, grandly named Charge of the Knights, was widely criticized for being poorly planned and ill-coordinated. It was derided as the Charge of the Mice by followers of the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr after more than 1,000 soldiers deserted in the face of heavy resistance from his Mahdi Army and other extremist groups. The fierce early clashes halted only after a pro-government delegation went to Iran and struck a deal with the Sadrists.

An overwhelmingly Shiite city of more than three million people, Basra sits atop huge oil reserves, which, Western officials say, provide 40 percent of Iraq’s annual oil revenue of $38 billion.

====

Page 2 of 3)



Thus, stability in a city that could be Iraq’s economic engine room is a major priority for the Shiite-led government. However, the Basra experience may not translate to other cities like Mosul or Kirkuk in the north, with a much more complicated religious and ethnic mix.

The Quietening of Basra The push into Basra succeeded in part because people here were exhausted with the violence and in part because Mr. Maliki received crucial help from the American and British military.

British forces, who headed the coalition military forces in Basra beginning in 2003, handed security control to the Iraqis six months ago. But a British military spokesman said British and American forces were providing fighter jets, helicopters, surveillance and logistical support for the government operation.

In addition to the 4,000 British troops in Basra, he said, the Americans sent 800 people, including surveillance experts and around 200 transition team “advisers” embedded with Iraqi troops.

An American military spokesman in Baghdad confirmed that one American had been killed and eight wounded in the Basra operation but said the United States had not had “conventional ground forces in direct support of combat operations.”

Iraqi commanders acknowledge that the American and British support helped them wrest control of Mahdi Army strongholds like Hayyaniyah — a slum that is Basra’s equivalent of Sadr City — and other poor districts that are fertile recruiting grounds for militias.

But a majority of the military presence on the streets is Iraqi.

From the moment motorists drive through the huge arch at the city’s northern entrance, they are confronted with a ragtag but daunting collection of armored police vehicles, Iraqi Army Humvees, cold war-era tanks, pickup trucks with turret-mounted machine guns and bullet-riddled personnel carriers.

Canal bridges are guarded by head-high steel pyramids, from which soldiers observe bustling markets through a bulletproof window.

Maj. Tom Holloway, a British military spokesman, conceded that the Iraqis would have “struggled” without the warplanes available to coalition forces. But he said: “I don’t think it’s a crutch. I think they would have tackled it in their own way and possibly, probably, achieved the same result.”

And the result, whoever is ultimately responsible, is in many ways remarkable.

At the College of Fine Arts, female students said they felt more, but not entirely, free to wear the clothes they liked.

“I used to be challenged for what I wear,” said Athari, a 19-year-old student wearing heavy makeup and a bright orange headscarf pushed high back on her head in the liberal fashion disapproved of by Islamic radicals. “Makeup was forbidden; short skirts were forbidden. I will not mention their name, but they were extremists. They are still here, but quieter now.”

Qais, a music student, spoke of his relief at no longer having to hide his violin in a sack of rice in his trunk.

Most of the students were Shiite, but one youth named Alaa said that he was a Sunni and that 95 percent of his relatives had fled Basra after sectarian killings, including that of his uncle. “I want to thank Mr. Nuri al-Maliki, because he cleaned Basra of murderers, hijackers and thieves,” Alaa said.

It was not an uncommon sentiment. In his city center office, Yahya, a wealthy businessman said he had just begun going onto the streets without his customary 10 bodyguards. Insisting that he was not a political supporter of the prime minister, he said he was nevertheless so grateful for the security improvements that he and colleagues had downloaded Mr. Maliki’s face onto their mobile telephones as screensavers.

But as with the American-led surge in Baghdad, there are abiding uncertainties.

These center on how long such a heavy military presence can be sustained on urban streets, and what happens when it departs.

Gen. Mohan al-Freiji, the Iraqi commander in Basra, said the city was “75 percent” under control. He said the principal threat stemmed from rogue elements of the Mahdi Army and factions like the Iraqi Hezbollah (Party of God), Thairallah (Revenge of God) and Fadhila (Virtue).

======
(Page 3 of 3)



Emphasizing the urgent need to address decades of poverty and neglect, he said the government had to provide jobs and investment to convert short-term military gains into long-term political and economic ones.



The Quietening of Basra “This is a city which sits on top of oil, but its young people are unemployed,” he said.

Sadrists protest that the Basra operation is a cynical exercise to weaken Mr. Maliki’s Shiite rivals ahead of provincial elections in the fall.

At Friday prayers in Kufa last week, the Sadrist preacher, Sheik Abdul Hadi al-Muhamadawi, said, “There is a large-scale conspiracy to remove the Sadr movement from the government’s way by all means, because it refuses the presence of the occupier in Iraq.”

Such words underscore the widespread belief here that the Mahdi army has its own reasons for lying low and is by no means eliminated.

During one Iraqi Army patrol in Hayyaniyah at dusk, the soldiers, elsewhere relaxed, became jittery. Belying the local commander’s insistence that the Sadrist stronghold was “90 percent or more secure,” some pulled up face masks that they had not worn in other districts. They also fired bullets into the air at the slightest delay in traffic, an aggression unlikely to endear them in an area that, although calm, was noticeably less welcoming.

Haider, a policeman at a checkpoint outside the Sadrists’ former headquarters, said his family had been threatened, even at his home in the capital.

“I have spent 60 days in Basra and haven’t been home to Baghdad,” he said. “I will be killed if I go now. My family have received dozens of fliers with threats from the Mahdi Army.”

Nevertheless he, like many others, said the evacuation of the factions from their once-untouchable headquarters had brought about a psychological shift. Outside the Sadr office, Iraqi soldiers now sit atop the roof, their tripod-mounted machine guns overlooking the tin-roofed Sadrist prayer hall, which lies half-demolished.

“The Mahdi Army used to use this office like the Baathists when they were The Party,” Haider said. “They were ruling like the government of a state. They stopped police doing their duty, from implementing the law.”

Noting that the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein, once much stronger than the Mahdi Army, had been routed, he said, “The Mahdi Army will meet the same fate exactly, and worse.”

Yet traces of the old order remain. One wall in central Basra still bore the unsigned scrawl: “We warn girls not to put on makeup and to wear scarves. Anyone who does not follow these orders will be killed.”
24052  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Story: Presidential Power on: May 12, 2008, 11:37:13 AM
"If, for instance, the president is required to do any act, he is
not only authorized, but required, to decide for himself, whether,
consistently with his constitutional duties, he can do the act."

-- Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)

Reference: Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 124.
24053  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Historical ignorance or Orwellian lie? on: May 12, 2008, 11:30:03 AM
“In his victory speech after the North Carolina primary, Sen. Barack Obama...[defended] his stated intent to meet with America’s enemies without preconditions...: ‘I trust the American people to understand that it is not weakness, but wisdom to talk not just to our friends, but to our enemies, like Roosevelt did, and Kennedy did, and Truman did.’ That he made this statement, and that it passed without comment by the journalists covering his speech indicates either breathtaking ignorance of history on the part of both, or deceit. I assume the Roosevelt to whom Sen. Obama referred is Franklin D. Roosevelt. Our enemies in World War II were Nazi Germany, headed by Adolf Hitler; fascist Italy, headed by Benito Mussolini, and militarist Japan, headed by Hideki Tojo. FDR talked directly with none of them before the outbreak of hostilities, and his policy once war began was unconditional surrender. FDR died before victory was achieved, and was succeeded by Harry Truman. Truman did not modify the policy of unconditional surrender. He ended that war not with negotiation, but with the atomic bomb. Harry Truman also was president when North Korea invaded South Korea in June, 1950. President Truman’s response was not to call up North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung for a chat. It was to send troops... Sen. Obama is on both sounder and softer ground with regard to John F. Kennedy. The new president held a summit meeting with Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev in Vienna in June, 1961. Elie Abel, who wrote a history of the Cuban missile crisis (The Missiles of October), said the crisis had its genesis in that summit... Mr. Abel wrote, ‘There is no evidence to support the belief that Khrushchev ever questioned America’s power. He questioned only the president’s readiness to use it.’... It’s worth noting that Kennedy then was vastly more experienced than Sen. Obama is now. A combat veteran of World War II, Jack Kennedy served 14 years in Congress before becoming president. Sen. Obama has no military and little work experience, and has been in Congress for less than four years... History is an elective few liberals choose to take these days... The lack of historical knowledge among journalists is merely appalling. But in a presidential candidate it’s dangerous. As Sir Winston Churchill said: ‘Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it’.” —Jack Kelly

Patriot Post
24054  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Air Combat by Remote Control on: May 12, 2008, 11:11:10 AM
   
OPINION 
 


 
Air Combat by Remote Control
By BRIAN M. CARNEY
May 12, 2008; Page A13

Indian Springs, Nev.

The sniper never knew what hit him. The Marines patrolling the street below were taking fire, but did not have a clear shot at the third-story window that the sniper was shooting from. They were pinned down and called for reinforcements.

Help came from a Predator drone circling the skies 20 miles away. As the unmanned plane closed in, the infrared camera underneath its nose picked up the muzzle flashes from the window. The sniper was still firing when the Predator's 100-pound Hellfire missile came through the window and eliminated the threat.

The airman who fired that missile was 8,000 miles away, here at Creech Air Force Base, home of the 432nd air wing. The 432nd officially "stood up," in the jargon of the Air Force, on May 1, 2007. One year later, two dozen of its drones patrol the skies over Iraq and Afghanistan every hour of every day. And almost all of them are flown by two-man crews sitting in the air-conditioned comfort of a "ground control station" (GCS) in the Nevada desert.

 
The Predator.
Col. Chris Chambliss, 49, was an F-16 pilot for 20 years before being tapped as the 432nd's first wing commander. He can tell you -- to the day -- the last time he flew an F-16 (March 29, 2007), but he insists he has no regrets about giving up his cockpit for the earthbound GCS of the Predator and its big sibling, the Reaper. "It's much more fun," Col. Chambliss admits, "to climb up a ladder and strap on an airplane than it is to walk into a GCS and sit down." But the payoff comes, he contends, in far greater effectiveness "in the fight."

"In that F-16 squadron that I was in," he says, "you'd come into that squadron for three years, and you might deploy once or twice for 120 days into the theater," but after 120 days, normal military rotations would require you to come back, rest and retrain. So in a three-year tour, an airman might be deployed for eight months or a year.

Col. Chambliss's Predator and Reaper squadrons don't have that problem. Out of 250 aviators, they might deploy eight of them to Iraq or Afghanistan at any given time to take off and land the planes -- a task that still has to be done locally. The rest of the pilots and crew men work shifts at Creech, flying for eight hours before handing the plane off to the next shift. This means that at any given moment a squadron of drones is using 80% of its assets in combat, compared to perhaps 30% for an F-16 squadron.

It's this effectiveness multiplier that led Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently to call on the Air Force to put every available Predator into the air in Iraq. But how we got here is itself a story of innovation and creative thinking going back more than a decade. It's a story that shows how even the military can do more with less, starting with the modestly priced $4.2 million airframe originally designed as a reconnaissance vehicle.

Predators were first deployed in Bosnia in 1996. At the time, they were limited to the line of sight of their base stations. But in 2003, two things happened to expand the range of possibilities by an order of magnitude. For one, the Air Force routed the signal from the satellite downlink via fiber-optics. This allowed them to put the ground control stations -- the cockpits -- anywhere in the world that a fiber connection was available. Also that year, as the Iraq invasion was gearing up, the Air Force decided to try strapping a Hellfire missile on the Predator, transforming it from a reconnaissance role into a multipurpose weapon.

Today, the Reaper, which went into service in Afghanistan last September (a year ahead of schedule), can carry nearly the same payload as an F-16 -- typically two 500-pound laser-guided bombs and four Hellfires.

These are early days for unmanned aerial warfare. The 432nd is only one year old, and its mission continues to evolve. The 42nd Attack Squadron -- the Reaper squadron -- is still young, and still small, with only enough men and equipment to keep two planes at a time in the skies over Afghanistan.

Col. Chambliss compares the situation to the early decades of manned flight. "You know how fast things went from the end of the First World War to the end of the Second World War, how aviation, the capabilities vastly increased. That's where we're sitting right now. . . . I have no doubt when I'm sitting in my rocking chair, a retired old guy, I will be sitting there going, 'You've got to be kidding me.'"

Mr. Carney is a member of The Wall Street Journal editorial board.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion
 
24055  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / A new Olympic sport on: May 11, 2008, 10:18:48 PM
http://tinypic.com/player.php?v=2d9qq8j&s=3
24056  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: May 11, 2008, 10:06:45 PM
I like that quote.
24057  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CAIR-OH banquet speaker: 1993 World Trade Center bombing conspirator Siraj Wahha on: May 11, 2008, 02:22:21 PM
Second post of the day:


CAIR-OH banquet speaker: 1993 World Trade Center bombing conspirator Siraj Wahhaj




Later today CAIR-Ohio will host their 10th annual fundraising banquet here in Columbus. This week, we've revisited some of the more infamous moments in CAIR-OH history:

1999 CAIR-OH banquet speaker: convicted terrorist and bin Laden operative, Abdurahman Alamoudi

CAIR-OH revisited, 2001: CAIR-OH holds fundraiser for notorious cop killer, Jamal Al-Amin

CAIR-OH revisited, 1999: CAIR-OH rushes to aid pre-9/11 dry-run hijackers
But the appearance of Siraj Wahhaj, who was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, as the keynote speaker for the 2006 CAIR-OH annual banquet has to rank among one of the most despicable acts in that group's ten years of existence.

And following the banquet featuring Wahhaj, CAIR-OH bragged in a press release how the Wahhaj fundraiser had netted them more than $100,000 in one evening to help spread their hate speech and terror apologies. Here is the CAIR press release following the event (click to enlarge):


In a March 2006 article, "CAIR's Blood Money", I prefaced my evaluation of CAIR-OH's activities with this historical reflection:

At 12:17 pm on February 26, 1993, a 1,500lb urea-nitrate fuel-oil bomb hidden inside a rental van caused a massive explosion that ripped through the parking garage of the World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring another 1,042 – the first large-scale terrorist attack on U.S. soil by Islamic extremists. The terrorists had intended to topple one of the buildings onto the other, potentially killing tens of thousands of innocent Americans. Sadly, the fourteenth anniversary of that event passed last week with very little discussion by major media outlets, even though that lethal attack by Islamic terrorists ominously foreshadowed the unspeakable horror of 9/11.

At 8:00 pm on June 6, 2006, the Ohio affiliate of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OH) honored one of the unindicted conspirators in that 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Siraj Wahhaj, a Brooklyn, NY imam that had also served as a defense witness at the trial of one of the men convicted for that terrorist attack, the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel-Rahman (a conviction that CAIR has labeled “a travesty of justice”). More than 400 CAIR-OH supporters gathered at this fundraising banquet.
Read the whole article. And consider the terrible legacy of hatred and terrorist support that CAIR-OH has wrought over the past decade.


Posted by Patrick Poole at 2:19 AM
Labels: CAIR-OH, Siraj Wahhaj
__________________
24058  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: May 11, 2008, 01:38:17 PM
Islamic Divorce Ruled Not Valid in Maryland
Custom Allowing Men to End Marriage With Oral Declaration Lacks 'Due Process'
By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 8, 2008; B02



After his wife of more than two decades filed for divorce in Montgomery County Circuit Court, Irfan Aleem responded in writing in 2003, and not just in court.

Aleem went to the Pakistani Embassy in the District, where he executed a written document that asserted he was divorcing Farah Aleem. He performed "talaq," exercising a provision of Islamic religious and Pakistani secular law that allows husbands to divorce their wives by declaring "I divorce thee" three times. In Muslim countries, men have used talaq to leave their wives for centuries.

But they can't use it in Maryland, the state's highest court decided this week.

The state Court of Appeals issued a unanimous 21-page opinion Tuesday declaring that talaq is contrary to Maryland's constitutional provisions providing equal rights to men and women.

"Talaq lacks any significant 'due process' for the wife, its use, moreover, directly deprives the wife of the 'due process' she is entitled to when she initiates divorce litigation in this state. The lack and deprivation of due process is itself contrary to this state's public policy," the court wrote.
The decision affirms a 2007 ruling by the Court of Special Appeals, the state's intermediate appellate court, which also said that talaq does not apply in the Free State.

Under Islamic traditions, talaq can be invoked only by a husband, unless he grants his wife the same right.

According to the Court of Appeals' opinion, Irfan Aleem, who worked for years as an economist with the World Bank, is worth about $2 million, half of which Farah Aleem is entitled to under Maryland law. When Irfan Aleem tried to divorce his wife under the concept of talaq, a sum of $2,500 was mentioned as a "full and final" settlement, according to the appellate decision.

That amount was written into the marriage contract Farah Aleem signed the day she married him in their native Pakistan in 1980, according to the appellate decision. The contract was in accordance with Pakistani custom. At the time, he was 29 and she was 18. The couple moved to the Washington area in 1985.

"I don't even know how to express how happy I am. I am ecstatic, relieved," Farah Aleem, 46, said yesterday.

Over the years, a lack of financial support from her ex-husband caused hardship for her and her son and daughter, who are in college, she said. "All I ever wanted was my fair share, not a penny more," said Aleem, who lives in the Washington area, works full time for an accounting firm and is pursuing an accounting degree at night.

At the direction of the judge who presided over the Aleems' divorce proceedings, the couple's Potomac home was sold, and half the proceeds -- about $200,000 -- went to Farah Aleem, said Susan Friedman, her attorney.

Friedman said she thinks that Irfan Aleem, who retired in recent years, invoked talaq to avoid paying Farah half of his World Bank pension, which provides him with $90,000 annually, the attorney said.

"It will be very pleasant when [Farah] gets her share of that," Friedman said. "She's delighted about that."

Friedman said she will serve papers on the World Bank showing that the original order from the Circuit Court -- that Farah Aleem is entitled to half her ex-husband's pension -- is now final and that the bank has to give her half.

Irfan Aleem, who is in his late 50s, lives in Pakistan, Friedman said.
His attorney, Priya R. Aryar, said, "We're very disappointed with the decision. We think this could have adverse ramifications for a whole bunch of people who reside in the D.C. area under diplomatic visas and assume that their family law rights and obligations are governed by the laws of their country of citizenship."

A legal scholar and an Islamic leader said the appellate court's decision was not surprising.

"For the most part, Muslims expected this kind of ruling," said Muneer Fareed, secretary general of the Islamic Society of North America in Plainfield, Ind. "The contrary would be a surprise to them. They do not expect the U.S. legal system to give full recognition of talaq."
Julie Macfarlane, a legal scholar who is researching a book about Islamic divorces in North America, said the decision was not surprising. "There's no legal enforceability [for talaq] in U.S. courts," said Macfarlane, a professor at the University of Windsor in Canada.
24059  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Texas on: May 11, 2008, 09:19:10 AM


SOURCE = http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dw....e2b80f8a.html

Victim speaks about donut shop robbery
04:22 PM CDT on Friday, May 9, 2008

David Schechter reports
May 9, 2008

Neighborliness has been redefined in a West Fort Worth neighborhood. Early this morning a robber invaded a local donut shop. Before he could get away a neighbor shot the intruder dead outside the Happy Donut Shop.

It’s a beloved neighborhood gathering spot owned by Chong Randle. Early this morning, when Randle was in the back she heard a loud noise up front. The robber broke through the glass and entered.

“He said, ‘I’m going to shoot you’. I said, ‘Go ahead and shoot. I’m going to heaven. Go ahead shooting. I just put my hands up and lay down,’” said Randle.

“He said I’m going to shoot you and you said go ahead and shoot me?” asked reporter David Schechter.

“You wanna shoot. Shoot. Because I’m going to heaven,” she added.

Randle says she gave him everything she had—about $30 in change. Instead of leaving, though, the robber kept demanding more. What that robber didn't know was that as the seconds ticked by Randle’s neighbor was on his way to help with a loaded shotgun. He shot and killed the intruder-- 45-year old Richard Lane.

“How do you feel about him? Are you thankful?” Schechter asked Randle.

“He shoot them because he’s doing the right thing,” she said.

Randle was lucky to get away with minor injuries. She says this is the second time this week Randle’s been robbed. She thinks it was the same person, both times.

“Not a very happy week for Happy Donuts,” Schechter asked.

“Still happy donuts. We didn’t do anything wrong,” she said.

The neighbor who shot the robber was not available for an interview today. He likely will not face any charges… though the case may be reviewed by a grand jury. But if any witnesses are needed, there was actually a police officer driving by just as the gun went off.
24060  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: May 11, 2008, 08:45:28 AM
A bit of deranged levity:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6Lstkiexhc
24061  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Pre-emption and Sucker Punches on: May 10, 2008, 07:26:13 PM
Woof All:

As people who seek a harmonious path in Life, our training must prepare us for unequal initiative/pre-emption/sucker attacks.   All our training with equal initiative can get completely mooted if we are taken out of the fight before it starts.  We need to appreciate just how quickly can be done.

Spotting cues is a very, very important part of being able to handle this .  My friend Southnark has developed "managing unknown contacts" to a high level and organizes the most likely cues into four categories.  Around here we will call them "The Southnark 4". 

Study for effectiveness, and for cues:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=cuCF1B_Muas

Two-fer!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOTlr-CYCC4&NR=1

Anyone else have some good clips in this vein?

TAC!
CD

========

Edited to add:  I have added the term "sucker punch" to the title of the thread because I realized that this distinction needs to be added to the conversation.
24062  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obstacles to I-P Peace on: May 10, 2008, 10:09:30 AM
How good it feels to read something like this coming from a major player in the Muslim world.
==================

The Obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian Peace
By ABDURRAHMAN WAHID and ABDUL A'LA
May 10, 2008; Page A11

The prolonged Israeli-Palestinian conflict has a far-reaching impact not only upon the lives of those who dwell in the Holy Land, but upon virtually every nation and community on earth. On a daily basis, self-interested parties are callously manipulating the most basic values of humanity and religion in order to advance their personal or political interests. Sectarianism, violence, arrogance and deception are constantly subverting the fundamental values of life, and turning religious principles upon their heads.

This horrific process demands that every moral human being, religious community and nation throughout the world contemplate this tragedy and offer assistance, however small, to help resolve the profound human crisis in the Holy Land. Peace is both a process and a goal that the world can neither morally nor practically afford to push off into the future yet again.

We must develop and implement concrete strategies to resolve the conflict, while inspiring hope that peace can actually be achieved. The problem is that the various obstacles to peace seem nearly impossible to eliminate. These obstacles are rendered even more severe by the fact that both major parties in the conflict harbor groups absolutely convinced of the correctness of their mutually exclusive views and agendas. Such groups reject not only the rights, but the very existence, of the other side.

The corrosive effect of this phenomenon is the evocation and rationalization of the use of violence, either through terrorism or militarism. Prejudiced views on both sides, not only by those directly engaged in the conflict, but by their allies as well, further stoke the flames of hatred and violence.

These prejudices contaminate public discourse throughout the world, and are constantly exploited by Middle Eastern regimes that fuel anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic emotions for political purposes, while displaying little or no actual concern for the well-being of the Palestinians themselves.

Under such conditions, it is nearly impossible for sincere dialogue even to occur, much less to develop or flourish. Instead, the cycle of violence breeds a hardening of mutual hatred.

The Palestinian side routinely condemns its enemy as a colonial power whose entire population is demonized as "imperialists," while the Israeli side brands its political opponents as terrorists, or terrorist sympathizers.

For six decades, the peace process has been conducted primarily by self-interested political players who cannot penetrate to the heart of the underlying problems, much less resolve them. This gives rise to deeply cynical views on the part of certain groups on both sides, who view the peace process as absurd, its goals unobtainable, and continued violence better than compromise.

Yet the difficulties that have swamped every Israeli-Palestinian peace process to date do not mean that achieving peace is impossible. Rather, they point to the need for a new and more holistic path to peace in the Middle East. This path would mobilize the populations of Israel and Palestine toward this goal, with the active encouragement and support of the rest of the world.

The December 2007 visit to Israel and Palestine by a group of Indonesian ulama from the world's two largest Muslim organizations – LibForAll Foundation and the Indonesian Peace Delegation – represents one such effort, and the first step in a larger, systematic process. Conducted under the joint aegis of LibForAll Foundation and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, members of the group consistently observed that the silent majorities on both sides of the conflict sincerely desire an end to the cycle of violence, and peace for themselves and their children. This is remarkable, given the decades of incitement to hatred and violence in Palestinian mosques, schools and mass media, and a political culture that eschews compromise.

It is tragic that the voice of the people – full of an honest and sincere longing for peace – should be drowned out by violence and the narrow interests of politicians and extremists on both sides. We have a responsibility to amplify the voices of the innocent who pay with their blood and sorrow the price of others' ambitions and hatred.

We must also strengthen and facilitate the people's efforts to pressure their political elites – in a manner that is focused, intense and vocal, yet simultaneously civilized – to create a just and lasting peace.

Palestinians and Israelis need the world's support to create a new reality, in which the highest values of religion and humanity are restored to their proper dignity. We must also help Muslim populations – not only in Palestine, but throughout the Arab world – to rise to embrace a profoundly spiritual and tolerant understanding of Islam, and a humanistic attitude toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that acknowledges the legacy of suffering on all sides. Such an attitude is a necessary precondition for recognizing Israel's unique history and right to exist, while truly advancing the interests of Palestinians as well.

Last year's LibForAll/Indonesian Peace mission to Israel and Palestine was designed to initiate such a process. After the religious leaders who participated returned to Indonesia, they faced intense condemnation from Muslim extremists, who accused them of having betrayed their Palestinian brethren and embarrassed Indonesia's Muslim community. Yet there is nothing shameful about working to realize the highest values of religion – which God intended to serve as a blessing, and not a curse, to all of humanity.

Although the obstacles to peace in the Holy Land may appear insurmountable, it is the responsibility of religious leaders on all sides to attempt the impossible, and to accept whatever threats, slander and stigma may follow.

Mr. Wahid is the former president of Indonesia and co-founder of LibForAll Foundation. Mr. A'la is an associate dean of graduate studies at Sunan Ampel Islamic State University in Surabaya, Indonesia.
24063  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Single Officer vs. Active Killer on: May 10, 2008, 09:26:43 AM
Force Science News #97



In this issue:

I. Ohio trainer makes the case for single-officer entry against active killers

II. Force Science News to be translated for 14,000 French-speaking officers



   
I. Ohio trainer makes the case for single-officer entry against active killers

If you're a patrol officer who's first on the scene of an active-shooter call, should you make immediate entry in hunt for the suspect...or wait for other early responders and improvise a rapid deployment team?

Since the Columbine massacre 9 years ago, few if any trainers any longer advocate delaying for a formal SWAT call-out, which can take 30 minutes or more in some areas. But commonly a hasty assembly of 3 or more officers for a search-and-confrontation team is recommended, with coordinated movement tactics taught accordingly.

To trainer Ron Borsch, a 30-year law enforcement veteran who manages the small SEALE (South East Area Law Enforcement) Regional Training Academy in Bedford, Ohio, that's a deadly waste of time when seconds can mean lives.

Based on his on-going research of active-shooter realities, he's convinced that single-officer entries can potentially lessen the toll of casualties while exposing the responders involved to little additional risk. Although popular law enforcement literature has just lately begun to explore the single-officer concept, Borsch has promoted the idea to in-service trainees for more than 2 years and has taught solo- and 2-officer entry-action models in academy courses for the past year. And he finds that administrators whose officers are exposed to this approach generally accept it enthusiastically.

"We offer this report not necessarily as a tactical advisory but as an example of one trainer's effort to give tactical instruction a research base," explains Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato. "We offer it for your thoughtful consideration and we'd be interested in hearing comments from our readers on Ron Borsch's conclusions." If you have comments, please e-mail the editor.

"Time is our worst adversary in dealing with active killers," Borsch told Force Science News. "We're racing what I call 'the Stopwatch of Death.' Victims are often added to the toll every several seconds."

Where times have been reliably documented, the average post-Columbine "rapid mass murder episode" lasts just 8 minutes, according to Borsch's calculations. "The murderer's timeline begins when he says it begins. Any prevention, deterrence or delay efforts have failed at that point, and the police are handicapped with catching up whenever they are notified."

To have any hope of successfully intervening in a slaughter spree under the usual tight time strictures, law enforcement "needs to get less manpower on site sooner." Training LEOs to wait even moments to form an impromptu entry team shows that "our country's tactical community at large has failed to do its homework and to evolve strategies that accurately reflect the known methods of operation and patterns of active killers," Borsch asserts. "Law enforcement has already proved many times over that we can arrive 'too late with too many' and spend too much time gathering pre-entry intelligence. Now we need to fix what is obviously a broken strategy."

Borsch, who logged 17 years as a part-time SWAT team member before retiring from street work, has analyzed more than 90 active-shooter incidents on the basis of data largely ferreted out from Internet reports. Most involved schools and colleges, but workplaces, shopping malls, churches and other public places are also represented. Among his findings that have helped shape his tactical thinking:

• 98% of active killers act alone.

• 80% have long guns, 75% have multiple weapons (about 3 per incident), and they sometimes bring hundreds of extra rounds of ammunition to the shooting site.

• Despite such heavy armaments and an obsession with murder at close range, they have an average hit rate of less than 50%.

• They strike "stunned, defenseless innocents via surprise ambush. On a level playing field, the typical active killer would be a no-contest against anyone reasonably capable of defending themselves."

• "They absolutely control life and death until they stop at their leisure or are stopped." They do not take hostages, do not negotiate.

• They generally try to avoid police, do not hide or lie in wait for officers and "typically fold quickly upon armed confrontation."

• 90% commit suicide on-site. "Surrender or escape attempts are unlikely."

Because active shooters seem so intent on killing, it's often difficult to convince first responders that "this bad guy is one of the easiest man-with-gun encounters they will ever have," Borsch observes. "Most officers have already faced worse opponents from a personal safety standpoint than these creeps."

He believes the profile he has drawn should "empower officers with probable cause to believe that they can successfully prevail against the predictable patterns of these mass murderers" if they arrive in time to abort an actual attack.

From their experience in dealing with "a myriad of urgent circumstances" in their normal work, street officers are "already quite used to a multi-tiered response that begins with one officer, with backup en route." A solo officer entering an active-killer scene "has a virtual guarantee that an avalanche of manpower is coming fast behind him," so he won't be alone for long.

Once into the scene, to further gain confidence in advancing aggressively toward the suspect, officers need to understand the nature of these killers. Unlike conventional criminal predators, who often have no reluctance about attacking police, active shooters tend to be "cowardly," Borsch says.

"They choose unarmed, defenseless innocents for a reason: They have no wish to encounter someone who can hurt them. They are personally risk- and pain-avoidant. The tracking history of these murderers has proved them to be unlikely to be aggressive with police. If pressed, they are more likely to kill themselves." In his research, he has found no evidence of any LEO in the U.S. yet being wounded or killed in an active-shooting incident where mass murder was intended or accomplished.

"Officers need to understand valid military principles that apply to these calls, such as speed, surprise and violence of action," Borsch insists. "They need to learn how to close in and finish the fight with aggression, having and keeping the 'momentum of battle' on their side. The idea is to keep the adversary off-balance by forcing him always to react to your actions, rather than, after contact, reacting to him."

For example, once an active killer is spotted, Borsch favors the swift application of deadly force over seeking defensive cover in most instances. "An unintentional consequence of going to cover may be to lose sight of the offender, allowing him to gain the momentum of battle and shoot more defenseless innocents until he says it's over."

SEALE's active-killer countermeasures, taught through a course called Tactical First Responder, bypass traditional instruction in team formations and movement. These can be important in a mass murder response, Borsch says--but only later, during a search-and-rescue phase. What's realistically needed by the first one or two patrol officers to arrive at a scene--"the first of the first responders"--are instruction and practice in how to enter, move and confront the threat alone.

Thus after a briefing on the predictable patterns of offender behavior that his research has revealed, the trainees concentrate on perfecting a swift zig-zag movement down hallways, on mastering an accelerated slicing-the-pie technique for taking corners, on maneuvering up and down stairways with a patrol rifle (the response weapon of choice, given the killer's likely armaments), and on using sight, sound, smell and intuition to gather intel that will help them close quickly on the threat. "We practice until there's no speed less than rapid."

If an officer enters a school in response to an active-killer call "he may see or hear nothing out of order initially," Borsch says. "The place may be in lock-down and there may be hundreds of rooms, some of them quite distant and out of earshot, where the killer could be wreaking havoc.

"The officer may have to set out in a direction with little guidance and cover a lot of ground until he comes across something. In these situations, intelligence often belongs only to those who go get it. But what's the alternative--just stop and wait? The killing may be continuing while you hear nothing."

Single-officer entry has been a controversial concept, Borsch says, but he senses that the tide is starting to turn. In a recent issue of Law and Order Magazine, hardly an advocate of radical innovation, the executive director of the National Assn. of School Resource Officers wrote in an article aimed as police chiefs, "Training CANNOT be limited to the active shoot training where three, four or more officers respond and form a team." At SEALE, Borsch has found that chiefs whose officers have completed the First Responder course often want their personnel to repeat the training to reinforce the single-entry precepts. Some departments have also hired him as a consultant to evaluate and revise their active-killer protocols.

"A slow-and-methodical approach--what I call 'tactical loitering'--is still appropriate for most types of police encounters," Borsch says. "Dynamic active killers are a unique problem. With time as a relentless enemy, an officer has a choice to make: does he or she take the risk of going in alone...or are potential victims left to the mercy of a rogue human while the officer stays safe?"

Even with an immediate solo entry, Borsch concedes, police may not find the killer until his bloodletting is over. But saving time by "getting called early enough and taking action early enough," he argues, still offers the best chance for mitigating casualties.

Aided by his research, "we prepare the officers' mind first, then work on the motor skills in hallways, stairwells and rooms," Borsch says. To motivate courage, he hangs the walls of his training classroom with photographs of victims and their active shooters. "The victims' pictures are big," he explains. "Those of the killers are small. They're worthless cowards. The innocent people who may be their victims if we don't stop them are what matter."
 
24064  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Germany-Plus on: May 10, 2008, 08:45:33 AM
Obama Promises Germany-Plus
By GABOR STEINGART
May 10, 2008; Page A9

When I begin to feel homesick for Germany, I have discovered a cheap and easy way out. I simply turn on the TV and listen to a Barack Obama stump speech.

The promised land of universal health care, secure pensions, a lot of green-collar jobs and stable bridges brings me back to my home country. My grandma, who has worked in a post office all her life, enjoys her pension without having ever observed the stock market. Everyone who travels through the countryside can see thousands of windmills, but never a collapsed bridge. And the best: My mom, my friends and everyone around them have access to first-class medical services.

Sometimes it appears to me that Mr. Obama wants to trump all that. He has promised not only a $160 billion program for new green-collar jobs, a higher minimum wage, affordable health care for everybody, a massive investment in infrastructure and tax-free status for pensioners who make less than $50,000. All these nice things come with no tax increase for 95% of Americans. Wow! That's Germany-plus!

I've been in the U.S. for a while, but if I remember my home country correctly, all the German comforts come with a price. My grandma has paid 10% of her salary to the public pension system, and her employer has matched the contribution. For our health insurance everyone has to sacrifice 7% of his or her earnings, which again is matched by the company. Fashionable windmills go along with extra taxes for fuel. A gallon of regular gas in Munich or Berlin costs – fasten your seat belt – more than $8.

Not all of my fellow Germans are happy with this, but the overwhelming majority of my fellow countrymen made their decision a long time ago. They prefer big government. They have learned to live with growth rates far behind and an unemployment rate far above the U.S.

Maybe I am being unfair to Mr. Obama. But it seems to me that the agent of change was window-shopping in Germany without looking at the price tag. You should ask him for the bill.

Mr. Steingart is the senior correspondent in Washington, D.C., for Der Spiegel news magazine and author of the "The War for Wealth – The True Story of Globalization" (McGraw Hill, 2008).
24065  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strafor on: May 10, 2008, 08:36:28 AM
May 9, 2008
Indications continued to mount on Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would be indicted on charges of bribery. Violence broke out in Lebanon between Hezbollah and Lebanese groups opposed to it. The Turks announced that they had suspended talks between Israel and Syria because of Syrian leaks concerning talks with Israel that the Turks had brokered. Things are in flux, to say the least.

It is important to note that Olmert was not indicted and that he said that he had not taken any bribes. However, the unsealing of the information that the prosecutors had about the bribe, which triggered Olmert’s denial, kicked off a political storm in Israel, with many political leaders either calling for his resignation immediately or predicting that he would be forced to resign eventually — given that Olmert had stated that he would resign if indicted.

Israeli politics are, therefore, in a meltdown. Olmert’s ability to govern under these circumstances is limited. Everyone is maneuvering in anticipation of his leaving office, and his leverage has evaporated. Should he again be given a clean bill of health, the situation will undoubtedly reverse. However, there is a broadly held sense in Israel that he will not survive. That throws the future of the coalition into question and likely makes elections necessary. If that happens, Israel will not be in a position to make any decisions on Palestinian or Syrian negotiations.

That makes the decision by the Turks to announce publicly that they would suspend negotiations over a leak that happened weeks ago particularly interesting. There was no reason to hold the announcement, and, having held it, there was no reason to announce it now. Moreover, the Turks did not say the talks were canceled, only that they were on hold. Given the state of Israeli politics, of course, that is quite accurate. We suspect that the Turks were quite irritated with the Syrians over the leak, but also decided that they needed a reason to put things on hold at this time. Still, the strategic reasons that led the Turks to want an Israeli-Syrian settlement are still in place, as are Israeli and Syrian interests — and this was a pause with a signal to the Syrians to behave.

And that is an important signal, given what happened in Lebanon today. Lebanese politicians decided to move against Hezbollah’s private communication system — the system that enables Hezbollah to be a self-contained army within Lebanon, outside the bounds of the Lebanese Army. Hezbollah understood that this was a direct threat to its power in Lebanon and reacted with violence, ranging from stone-throwing to mortar fire. Hezbollah made it clear that it did not intend to have its power reduced.

Taking on Hezbollah is dangerous for anyone, particularly the Lebanese. The move to shut down Hezbollah’s communications was obviously going to cause a violent response, and few in Lebanon are eager to risk Hezbollah’s wrath — unless they have an understanding with Syria. Syria is a supporter of Hezbollah, but its relationship with the group is complex. There are times when Syria has wanted Hezbollah to be as aggressive as possible and times when Syria was very active in restraining Hezbollah. The Syrians never wanted to dismantle the group, but there were times they wanted it to be benign. Given Syria’s talks with the Israelis –- for which the Syrians publicly celebrated, and the Turks rapped them on the knuckles — an unconditional demand on the part of Israel had to have been Syria reining in Hezbollah.

Whoever decided to shut down Hezbollah’s communication system had to have some confidence that they would not be facing Hezbollah alone. There are three possibilities. One, that they thought they could handle Hezbollah themselves. We find that hard to believe. Two, that they thought Israel might intervene, perhaps because Olmert would start a war to cover his indictment. If that’s so, we think it was a major miscalculation; Israel won’t go to war on that basis. Three, that anti-Hezbollah forces in Lebanon have gotten the signal from Syria that they can act against Hezbollah, as a gesture of good faith to Israel on the part of Damascus. Our suspicion is that this is what happened. Incurring the displeasure of both Hezbollah and Syria is not wise for any Lebanese.

The tangle caused by Olmert’s situation is now intense. Left out of this discussion are the Palestinian negotiations or any of the other complexities of the region. This is quite enough. But as frequently happens in the Middle East, what appeared to be a promising opening a couple of weeks ago has bogged down in the internal politics of one of the actors. Even Olmert’s departure will not solve the problem, as it will create a vacuum that could take months to fill.
24066  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: May 10, 2008, 08:32:41 AM
I am grateful for the time yesterday when my 5 year old daughter played iwth "Magna-stix" on floor of my office as I worked and for the time I had pitching to my son before dinner with my daughter chasing the balls he hit on her scooter and brining them to me; the wonderful dinner that my wife cooked, and our time together as a family.
24067  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jefferson on: May 09, 2008, 10:39:43 PM
The present desire of America is to produce rapid population by as great importations of foreigners as possible. But is this founded in good policy? … [A]re there no inconveniences to be thrown into the scale against the advantage expected from a multiplication of numbers by the importation of foreigners? It is for the happiness of those united in society to harmonize as much as possible in matters which they must of necessity transact together. Civil government being the sole object of forming societies, its administration must be conducted by common consent. Every species of government has its specific principles. Ours perhaps are more peculiar than those of any other in the universe. It is a composition of the freest principles of the English constitution, with others derived from natural right and natural reason. To these nothing can be more opposed than the maxims of absolute monarchies. Yet, from such, we are to expect the greatest number of emigrants. They will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed in their early youth; or, if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty. These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its direction, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass.


Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of VA. 123-5
24068  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: May 09, 2008, 08:28:35 PM
Woof All:

This thread was started by Guide Dog on the DBMA Ass'n forum too, and there it has hit the ground running.  If "warm and fuzzy" feels weird, feel free to be humorous.

TAC,
CD
24069  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Thin Skin on: May 09, 2008, 08:16:59 PM
Membrana Obama
By JAMES TARANTO
May 9, 2008

(Note: We'll be traveling and thus absent the early part of next week.)

For all the hype about Barack Obama being some new kind of politician, in one respect he is very similar to recent Democratic presidential nominees: He takes criticism very badly, responding to it by getting both defensive and nasty. It is a most unattractive quality.

CNN reports on a case in point:

"This is offensive, and I think it's disappointing," Obama told [Wolf] Blitzer, when asked his thoughts about McCain's comments that the terrorist organization Hamas wants Obama to be president. "Because John McCain always says 'I am not going to run that kind of politics,' and to engage in that kind of smear is unfortunate, particularly because my policy toward Hamas has been no different than his.
"I've said it's a terrorist organization and we should not negotiate with them unless they recognize Israel, renounce violence, and unless they are willing to abide by previous accords between the Palestinians and the Israelis. So for him to toss out comments like that I think is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination. We don't need name calling in this debate."
Commentary's Abe Greenwald has the background on the so-called smear:

Jennifer [Rubin, a Commentary blogress] is too modest to mention it, but she played a considerable role in the "smear" to which Obama [yesterday] referred. It was during a blogger conference call on April 25 that she, in fact, asked John McCain to comment on Hamas's preference for Obama above the other presidential candidates. As it happens, I was on that call as well. And it's worth noting the nature of McCain's response to Jennifer. He began his reply by saying, "All I can tell you, Jennifer, is that I think it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next President of the United States."
Considering the situation, this is about the most delicately phrased response that one could have expected. It was not in the least a smear. Jennifer introduced Hamas's very real preference into the conversation. John McCain essentially chose to let the facts speak for themselves.
As we noted last month, Hamas leader Ahmed Yousef did in fact endorse Obama, in an interview with WABC-AM's John Batchelor. McCain's statement that "it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president" is far less of a smear than Obama's characterization of McCain as having "lost his bearings," plainly an attempt to stereotype the septuagenarian McCain as suffering from dementia. No wonder Hillary Clinton does so well among superannuated primary voters.

Obama's perturbability in the face of criticism was also evident in his response to the various comments by Jeremiah Wright*. Sept. 11 was chickens coming home to roost? Hey, we all have uncles who say crazy things. "God damn America"? He meant it in the best possible way. Barack Obama is acting like a politician? That got him angry, although it was almost as indisputably accurate as McCain's statement about Hamas.

One difference between Obama's and McCain's policies toward Hamas, as The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb points out, is that Obama is eager to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the public face of Iran's revolutionary Islamic regime, which is the terror group's chief patron. The purpose of the meeting is unclear, but Obama seems to suggest that he would somehow charm Ahmadinejad into submission. Can there be any doubt, though, that Ahmadinejad is now taking note of how easily rattled his prospective interlocutor is?

* The man of whom Barack Obama says, "He was never my quote-unquote spiritual adviser," although he served on the Obama campaign's quote-unquote spiritual advisory committee.

Elect Me, I'm Electable
Yesterday we noted Hillary Clinton's unfortunate comment in an interview with USA Today: "There was just an AP article posted that found how Senator Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans is weakening again. . . . I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on."

Peggy Noonan quotes an Obama supporter as saying of Mrs. Clinton's remark, "Even Richard Nixon didn't say white, even with the Southern strategy." We suppose Nixon was a smoother politician than Mrs. Clinton, and using the word "white" was (as we told her yesterday) a mistake. But there is a reason she is speaking in these terms.

The Tampa Tribune's William March reports that Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz released a statement making essentially the same point, although without being explicitly racial about it:

Senator Clinton continues to demonstrate that she has what it takes to win the Presidency . . . while Senator Obama does well in areas and demographic groups that the Democratic nominee will win anyway.
It isn't only Mrs. Clinton's side that is insulting Democratic voters. These remarks are of a piece with Barack Obama's statement about "bitter" working-class Pennsylvanians. Jay Cost of RealClearPolitics had an insightful take on that:

Mr. Obama presumed to explain the behavior of the voters he is courting. We might not know for sure exactly how he was explaining them, but we know that he was trying to. This is something that is best left to political scientists, not candidates. They should never speak of voters in any but the most flattering terms. Otherwise, there is a risk of alienating them. When you analyze people, you are signaling that you are separate from them. You are an "other." What is more, nobody likes to feel that they are being analyzed. The analyst can come across as haughty. "Who the hell does he think he is to explain me?"
Why are they insulting voters? Because at the moment, they are not trying to appeal to voters but to so-called superdelegates, the elected and party officials who will actually decide the Democratic nominee. Both candidates are trying to persuade the superdelegates that they have better prospects in November, and that is why they are referring to the voters in the third person.

In the olden days, of course, these conversations would have taken place in smoke-filled rooms, not in public. Being dragged through this is a fitting punishment for the woman who banned smoking in the White House.
24070  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine on: May 09, 2008, 03:39:51 PM
Man Saves Own Life, Uses Steak Knife for At-Home Tracheotomy

OMAHA, Neb. — An Omaha man struggling to breath used a steak knife to perform an at-home tracheotomy.

Steve Wilder says he thought he was going to die when he awoke one night last week and couldn't breath.

Wilder says he didn't call 911 because he didn't think help would arrive in time. So, the 55-year-old says, he got a steak knife from the kitchen and made a small hole in his throat, allowing air to gush in.

Wilder suffered from throat cancer and related breathing problems several years ago. About that time, he had an episode where he couldn't breath because his air passages swelled shut. He says that's what happened this time around.

Doctors don't expect Wilder to suffer any adverse affects from the tracheotomy once it's healed.
24071  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Rise and Collide on: May 09, 2008, 03:26:24 PM
Rise and Collide
By MARY KISSEL
May 9, 2008; Page A15

Rivals
By Bill Emmott
(Harcourt, 342 pages, $26)

The rise of China is easy to exaggerate and even easier to fear. China is a vast country of 1.3 billion people, governed by menacing authoritarians who are plowing money into its military complex and managing a stunning economic transformation; before long it will dominate Asia, and someday it will threaten America's place in the world. Or at least that is the argument of certain worried pundits these days.

For a striking counterargument – and some much-needed nuance – look no further than Bill Emmott's "Rivals." Mr. Emmott, a former editor of The Economist and a longtime Asia-watcher, acknowledges that China will continue its remarkable rise for years to come. But he thinks that a modernizing India and a resurgent Japan could end up jostling for Far East supremacy, too, pitting "Asians against Asians." A balance-of-power politics could evolve resembling Europe's in the 19th century.

How this transformation will unfold, and whether it will be entirely peaceful, is anyone's guess. But one thing is certain: All three of Asia's emerging giants are being forced to open up at speeds that none is quite comfortable with. China's Communist Party has freed a wide cross-section of its economy, bringing a new prosperity to much of the population. India is shedding its socialist shackles at whatever pace its vibrant, contentious democracy will allow. Japan's dominant political party, notoriously resistant to change, is still struggling to pull the country out of a decade-long economic nosedive; but the push for reform is becoming ever more urgent as Japan's population ages.

In "Rivals," Mr. Emmott mines the past for clues to the future. Start with China: Most analysts conclude that the 21st century will belong to China because the country's economy is now roaring ahead. But its growth rates aren't unprecedented. Like China today, Japan by the 1970s had reached a high investment-to-GDP ratio (roughly 40%) and enjoyed double-digit, export-led industrial growth. South Korea followed a similar path. By those measure, Mr. Emmott says, China's growth is "excellent, but not exceptional."

China also faces some bumps in the road, not least of which is rising inflation – a problem that Japan once also faced. Capital inflows are pushing up wages and expanding the monetary base, which is in turn inflating asset bubbles in stocks and property. Something has got to give. "The longer a change in economic policy and direction is delayed," Mr. Emmott writes, "the bigger the risk that mere adjustment turns into something more dramatic."

India's trajectory, meanwhile, most closely follows China's – at least at the moment. With the liberalizing of India's economy, its investment and savings have grown along with its standard of living. In 2006, India's exports of goods and services, as a percentage of GDP, had risen to a point that they were "roughly the same as China's in 1996," Mr. Emmott notes. The common view of India – as a land dominated by extremes of wealth and poverty – is simply out of date; in fact, India's income inequality is about the same as Britain's. The question now is whether the government will speed up India's growth by upgrading its shoddy infrastructure and liberalizing its energy industries so that domestic producers can make adequate returns and afford to increase output.

Japan's future is harder to forecast. The crash of the 1990s was bad, though hardly of Depression-like dimensions. That it was not worse, Mr. Emmott says, has a lot to do with Japan's free flow of trade and capital and its fiscal surplus. Oddly (for a writer long affiliated with the laissez-faire Economist magazine), Mr. Emmott praises the Japanese government for its Keynesian interventions in the 1990s. Huge spending programs, he claims, "helped prevent an economic drama from becoming a disaster." Perhaps. But they also prevented Japan from embracing low taxes and liberalizing its markets – surely a speedier means to growth and widespread prosperity.

Mr. Emmott notes that Japan, for all the exporting it does, isn't really a "globalized country." Its trade with the outside world, measured by imports plus exports as a percentage of GDP, is dwarfed by China's. And its level of English proficiency – now essential for global players – is low. If anything, Mr. Emmott says, "Japan needs to emulate America in the 1990s, when the 'new economy' " – that is, the Internet revolution – "brought a sharp and unexpected jump in U.S. productivity." Without doing something "dramatic" to kickstart growth, he argues, Japan's leaders will simply be "managing the country's relative decline," eclipsed by India and China.

Of course, the future of Asia's economies depends in part on the future of its regional politics. India has rocky relationships with its neighbors – and some of them, including Nepal, Pakistan and Burma, are led by unstable regimes. China, meanwhile, has border disputes with Bhutan and India, not to mention disputes over sovereignty with Tibet and Taiwan. Japan has only recently moved to mend ties with South Korea's new leadership. But a nuclear-armed North Korea remains the biggest menace. Mr. Emmott believes that, if "regime change" comes about in North Korea, it will be of the homegrown variety and not imposed from the outside. The result may be "a risky moment," as China, South Korea and factions within North Korea vie for power.

In economics and business, Mr. Emmott notes, competition generally has "overwhelmingly positive results." But "in politics, we cannot be so sure." To separate the two spheres so sharply, though, seems forced, at best. China's economic prosperity increasingly relies on its integration with its rivals and with the rest of the world – a trend that may someday change the way the country is governed, for the better. That is a future to welcome, not to fear.

Ms. Kissel is editor of The Wall Street Journal Asia's editorial page.
24072  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Empty hand questions. on: May 09, 2008, 01:38:39 PM
Maxx:

Why, right here  grin 
http://dogbrothers.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=90&osCsid=ec9f1f04083b901340b0aa11bcd7822e

CFR:

Not sure why you would think the thread was for DBs only, but these forums are for everyone of good spirit (see Rules of the Road thread at the top of this forum for details) so please dive right in.

TAC,
CD
24073  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: May 09, 2008, 12:28:55 PM


Pay Me to Go

Why is she still running? That's what Democrats are asking about Hillary Clinton in the wake of her disappointing performance in Tuesday's primaries.

One explanation is that something could always turn up once again to knock Mr. Obama off-stride, just as happened with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Mr. Obama's infamous "bitter" comments. Another possible reason is that she can't afford to leave the race. So far, Mrs. Clinton has loaned over $11 million of her own money into the campaign and still has substantial debts, including $4.5 million to her former chief strategist Mark Penn.

A little-known provision of the McCain-Feingold election law makes her exit a difficult question. If she hopes to get paid back for the money she lent her campaign, she can only accept repayment until the date of the Democratic convention in August. After that she can only accept a maximum of $250,000 from contributors.

"If she wants to be repaid, she'd have to move on that between now and the national convention," former Federal Election Commission chairman Michael Toner told U.S. News & World Report. The longer Mrs. Clinton stays in the race, the greater the chance she can still find some donors who have not already given her the maximum contribution allowed by law. Should she drop out, her chances of raising money from anyone effectively become zero.

There's also the chance of negotiating her exit from the race with Barack Obama, whose campaign is so flush with cash he doesn't know how to spend it all. Mr. Obama could offer to appear at fundraisers on her behalf to retire her campaign debt as well as suggest to his donors that they write a check to her campaign.

Perhaps the resolution of the endless Democratic primary struggle is close at hand. It may take only a few phone calls between the two camps for Mrs. Clinton to suddenly discover her long-suppressed desire for party unity.

-- John Fund

She Don't Need No Stinkin' Economists

Why didn't we think of that?

Campaigning in Indiana on Monday, Hillary Clinton proposed to fix the problem of high oil prices once and for all -- by breaking up OPEC. "We're going to go right at OPEC," she promised a crowd. "They can no longer be a cartel . . ."

Maybe she'll stop the tide from coming in next. Mrs. Clinton ignores a salient fact: OPEC isn't nearly as powerful as it sometimes pretends to be -- and as its critics like to declaim. We would never have seen $15 oil a decade ago. Five years ago, OPEC established a policy of maintaining the world price of oil in a $10 band around $25 a barrel. See how well that worked out.

But Mrs. Clinton's real innovation lies elsewhere -- in breaking with the tradition of politicians seeking validation for their economic nostrums from economic experts. Indeed, she dismissed the very idea of needing approval from the pointy-headed, saying, "I'm not going to put my lot in with economists." Mrs. Clinton was defending specifically her gas-tax holiday proposal, which virtually all economists judge to be worthless. But her handy "just say no" strategy when it comes to carping experts is something budding demagogues everywhere will want to note.

-- Brian M. Carney

Quote of the Day I

"There's only one remaining chapter in this fascinating spectacle. Negotiating the terms of Hillary's surrender. After which we will have six months of watching her enthusiastically stumping the country for Obama, denying with utter conviction Republican charges that he is the out of touch, latte-sipping elitist she warned Democrats against so urgently in the last, late leg of her doomed campaign" -- Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Quote of the Day II

"We cannot win with eggheads and African Americans. That's the Dukakis coalition which carried ten states" -- former Bill Clinton campaign adviser Paul Begala, on CNN arguing that Barack Obama needs to win back the white working-class voters who rejected him for Hillary Clinton.

It's Morning in London

The most satisfying part of the news that London ousted Labour Party Mayor Ken Livingstone in favor of Conservative Boris Johnson is that the list of notables honored by the city will now change dramatically. Mayor Livingstone, known as "Red Ken" for his avowedly socialist beliefs, had announced plans to honor the 50th anniversary of Communist Cuba's revolution on January 1, 2009 with a week-long series of street parties and a celebration of Fidel Castro's life in Trafalgar Square. With the election of Mr. Johnson, a staunch anti-Communist, you can bet that party is heading for the dustbin of history.

The political earthquake that swept Mr. Johnson into office with 53% of the vote can be compared to the voter revolts of the 1990s that led New York and Los Angeles to elect Republican mayors. Mr. Johnson ran on a campaign of getting tougher on crime, withdrawing free transit rights from people who abuse them, and giving better value for the high taxes Londoners pay. He also called for peeling away the excesses of multiculturalism that had Mr. Livingstone simultaneously passing out grants to lesbian dance collectives while he defended a local Muslim cleric, Yusuf al-Quaradawi, who supported wife-beating and the execution of gays.

Mr. Johnson will now share with Tory leader David Cameron the spotlight as the two most prominent Conservative politicians in Britain. Should he govern London successfully, it will be a further blow to the Labour government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, which backed Mr. Livingstone to no avail and on the same night as Mr. Johnson won was badly beaten in local elections across Britain.

While it will be Mr. Cameron who will lead the Tories into battle in the next general election in 2010, observers have already noted that at age 44 the new mayor of London could have a prominent role in British politics for years to come -- perhaps even on the national stage someday.

24074  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: BO's faulty tax argument on: May 09, 2008, 12:10:10 PM
The author fails to discuss BO's approach to capital gains taxes wherein he admits he would raise rates even though it would yield less revenues, but I post it anyway because I think his point about bracket creep a worthy one.
================

Obama's Faulty Tax Argument
By ANDREW G. BIGGS
May 9, 2008; Page A17

As the presidential campaign heats up, a key issue is whether to extend the 2001 and 2003 income tax cuts, which expire in 2011. John McCain wants to make the tax cuts permanent. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton want to let the rates rise.

Opponents of the tax cuts point to spending programs that could be financed by the extra revenues. Chief among these is Social Security. Sen. Obama's Web site, for example, argues that "extending the Bush tax cuts will cost three times as much as what is needed to fix Social Security's solvency over the next 75 years."

Such statements imply that if we return to the seemingly modest tax rates of the 1990s, we could fund the $4.3 trillion Social Security deficit, and so much more. As Mr. Obama recently told Fox News, "I would roll back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans back to the level they were under Bill Clinton, when I don't remember rich people feeling oppressed."

This argument seems compelling, but it is misguided. In reality, repealing the tax cuts would raise taxes far above Clinton-era levels. Due to quirks in the tax code, average taxes would be almost 25% higher than during the 1990s.

Mr. Obama's claim that the lost revenue from the income-tax cuts exceeds the Social Security shortfall derives from an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The Center's conclusions have been widely cited, but rely on dubious assumptions.

The basic methodology is simple: Compare the income-tax revenues if the tax cuts expire to revenues if the tax cuts are extended. The Center measures the difference in revenue 10 years from now – to match the government's 10-year budget measurement period – then extends the difference over 75 years to make it comparable to the 75-year Social Security shortfall.

To account for the effects of inflation and economic growth, analysts compare tax revenues to the size of the economy. The Congressional Budget Office projects that if the tax cuts expire, income-tax receipts in 2018 will be 1.5% higher relative to gross domestic product than if the cuts are made permanent. By comparison, Social Security's 75-year shortfall is just 0.6% of GDP.

So Social Security is a costly problem, but the tax cuts cost much more. Open and shut case, right?

Not exactly. Tax revenues would skyrocket if the tax cuts expire, due to "bracket creep." Average incomes are higher today than in the 1990s, but income-tax brackets aren't adjusted for the growth of earnings. As a result, Americans will shift into higher tax brackets and pay a greater share of their incomes in taxes.

Going back to the tax rates of the 1990s doesn't mean that households will pay 1990s taxes. Because the tax brackets haven't risen along with incomes, average taxes would be significantly higher, and grow each year.

If the tax cuts expire, income-tax revenues by 2018 will rise to 10.8% of the total economy from 8.7% today – an increase of 24%. Compared to the average over the last 50 years, allowing the rates to rise would increase tax revenues by 32%.

Believe it or not, income taxes will rise even if the tax cuts remain in place, because the revenue-increasing effects of bracket creep more than offset the lower rates. With the lower rates, total income-tax revenues will increase to 9.3% of GDP by 2018. This level is 7% higher than today, and 13% above the 1957-2007 average. Thus even with the tax cuts, revenues will increase by more than enough to fix Social Security.

So even if the tax cuts are made permanent, future Americans will pay a greater share of their incomes to the government than in the past. But for some in Washington, that's not enough.

Not surprisingly, neither party highlights these rising tax receipts. They undercut liberal arguments that the government is starved of revenue. And they render conservative claims for the tax cuts unimpressive. ("Vote GOP: A smaller tax increase than the other guys!")

The next president will face difficult choices regarding how much to collect in taxes, and how much to spend on entitlements like Social Security. Future citizens may decide that paying higher taxes is worthwhile. But in any event, the misleading tax cuts vs. Social Security argument should not guide policy makers on this issue.

Mr. Biggs, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., is the former principal deputy commissioner at the Social Security Administration.
24075  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Captive 220 on: May 09, 2008, 12:04:09 PM
'Captive 220'
May 9, 2008; Page A16
It's a fair bet that no high-powered American law firm will lend a caring hand to the relatives of the seven Iraqis murdered last month by a suicide bomber named Abdullah Salih Al Ajmi and two accomplices. That's too bad, seeing as how Ajmi was himself a beneficiary of some of that high-powered legal help.

Ajmi is a Kuwaiti who was 29 when he blew himself up in the northern city of Mosul in April. But before that he had spent more than three years as an enemy combatant at Guantanamo, where he was known as "Captive 220." He was taken prisoner at Tora Bora, Afghanistan, after the fall of the Taliban, in whose service he had reportedly spent eight months. While in detention, he told interrogators that his intention was "to kill as many Americans" as he possibly could.

In April 2002, a group of Kuwaiti families retained the law firm of Shearman & Sterling to represent the Kuwaitis held at Guantanamo, including Ajmi. (An attorney at Shearman tells us the firm donated its fees to charity.) Ajmi was one of 12 Kuwaiti petitioners in whose favor the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2004 in Rasul v. Bush, which held that the detainees were entitled to a habeas corpus hearing.

At the time, we wrote that Rasul had "opened the door to a flood of litigation. . . . This pretty much guarantees that the 600 or so Guantanamo detainees will bring 600 or so habeas corpus cases – perhaps in 600 or so different courtrooms, with 600 or so different judges demanding 600 or so different standards of what evidence constitutes a threat to the United States."

The Pentagon seems to have understood this point only too well, because in November 2005 it released Ajmi into Kuwaiti custody before he could have his hearing. A Kuwaiti court later acquitted Ajmi of terrorism charges, and last month the Kuwaiti government issued Ajmi and his accomplices with passports, which they used to travel to Mosul via Syria.

Ajmi's story is hardly unique. Some 500 detainees have been released from Guantanamo over the years, mostly into foreign custody. Another 65 of the remaining 270 detainees are also slated to go. Yet of all the prisoners released, the Pentagon is confident that only 38 pose no security threat. So much for the notion that the Gitmo detainees consist mostly of wrong-time, wrong-place innocents caught up in an American maw.

The Defense Intelligence Agency reported on May 1 that at least 36 former Guantanamo inmates have "returned to the fight." They include Maulavi Abdul Ghaffar, who was released after eight months in Gitmo and later became the Taliban's regional commander in Uruzgan and Helmand provinces. He was killed by Afghan security forces in September 2004.

Another former detainee, Abdullah Mahsud, was released from Guantanamo in March 2004. He later kidnapped two Chinese engineers in Pakistan (one of whom was shot during a rescue operation). In July 2007 he blew himself up as Pakistani police sought to apprehend him.

Ajmi's case now brings the DIA number to 37. It's worth noting that these are only the known cases. It is worth noting, too, that people like Ajmi were among those the Defense Department thought it would be relatively safe to free, or at least not worth the hassle and expense of the litigation brought about by cases like Rasul.

All this should give some pause to those – John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton among them – calling for closing Guantanamo. The prison is helping to save lives by keeping dangerous men from returning to the fight against our soldiers.

Stranger still are those who argue that people like Ajmi were somehow a creation of Guantanamo. They might want to have a chat with a detainee named Mohammed Ismail, who told the press after his release from Gitmo that his American captors "were very nice to me, giving me English lessons." Ismail was recaptured four months later while attacking an American military position in Kandahar.

Our liberal friends argue that the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay have hurt America's image in the world, and that's true. Then again, Ajmi and others show that there are also lethal consequences to the legal war that liberals are waging on the war on terror. Liberals claim they are only fighting for "due process," but they are doing so for foreign enemies who want to kill innocents and don't deserve such protections. Mosul is one result.
24076  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: May 09, 2008, 12:01:38 PM
The Clinton Divorce
May 9, 2008; Page A16
No, we don't mean Bill and Hillary. We mean the separation now under way between the Clintons and the Democratic Party. Like all divorces after lengthy unions, this one is painful and has had its moments of reconciliation, but after Tuesday a split looks inevitable. The long co-dependency is over.

Truth be told, this was always a marriage more of convenience than love. The party's progressives never did like Bill Clinton's New Democrat ways, but after Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis they needed his epic political gifts to win back the White House. They hated him for their loss of Congress in 1994, but they tolerated Dick Morris and welfare reform to keep the presidency in 1996.

 
AP 
The price was that they had to put their ethics in a blind Clinton trust. Whitewater and the missing billing records, Webb Hubbell, cattle futures and "Red" Bone, the Lincoln Bedroom, Johnny Chung and the overseas fund-raising scandals, Paula Jones and lying under oath, Monica and the meaning of "is." Democrats, or all of them this side of Joe Lieberman and Pat Moynihan, defended the Clintons through it all. Everything was dismissed as a product of the "Republican attack machine," an invention of the "Clinton haters," or "just about sex."

Democrats and the media did make a fleeting attempt at liberation when Bill Clinton left office after 2000 amid the tawdry pardons. Barney Frank, the most fervent of the Clinton defenders throughout the 1990s, even called the pardons a "betrayal" and "contemptuous." More than a few Democrats also noticed that George W. Bush's main campaign theme in 2000 was restoring "dignity" and "honor" to the Oval Office, and that Al Gore had somehow lost despite two-thirds of voters saying the U.S. was moving in the right direction.

But Hillary Clinton had also won a Senate seat that year, and she had presidential ambitions of her own. So the trial separation was brief. Democrats acquiesced as the first couple put their own money man, Terry McAuliffe, in charge of the Democratic National Committee. As the Bush years rolled on and John Kerry lost, they watched Hillary build her machine and plot a Clinton restoration. They watched, too, as the New York Senator did her own triangulating on Iraq, first voting for it, then supporting it before turning against it as the election neared. Party regulars fell in line behind her, and her nomination was said to be "inevitable."

Then something astonishing happened. A new star emerged in Barack Obama, a man who had Bill Clinton's political talent but Hillary's liberal convictions. He had charisma, a flair for raising money, and he held out the chance of a 2008 Democratic landslide. Something more than a return to the trench warfare of the 1990s seemed possible – perhaps the revival of a liberal majority, circa 1965.

More remarkable still, Democrats supporting Mr. Obama had a revelation about Clintonian mores. David Geffen, channeling William Safire, declared that "everybody in politics lies," but the Clintons "do it with such ease, it's troubling." Ted Kennedy was shocked to see the Clintons play the race card in South Carolina. The media discovered their secrecy over tax records and Clinton Foundation donors, while columnists were appalled to hear her assail Mr. Obama for his associations with radical bomber William Ayers. Listen closely and you could almost hear Bob Dole asking, "Where's the outrage?"

By the time Mrs. Clinton made her famous claim about dodging Bosnian sniper fire, Democrats and their media friends no longer called it a mere gaffe, as they once might have. This time the remark was said to be emblematic of her entire political career. The same folks who had believed her about Whitewater and the rest now claimed she never tells the truth about anything.

As the scales suddenly fell from liberal eyes, the most striking statistic was the one in this week's North Carolina exit poll. Asked if they considered Mrs. Clinton "honest and trustworthy," no fewer than 50% of Democratic primary voters said she was not. In Indiana, the figure was merely 45%.

Slowly but surely, these Prisoners of Bill and Hill are now walking away, urging Mrs. Clinton to leave the race. Chuck Schumer damns her with faint support by saying any decision is up to her. Columnists from the New York Times, which endorsed her when she looked inevitable, now demand that she exit so as not to help John McCain. With Mr. Obama to ride, they no longer need the Arkansas interlopers.

If the Clintons play to their historic form, they will ignore all this for as long as they can. They will fight on, hoping that something else turns up about Mr. Obama before the convention. Or they'll try to play the Michigan and Florida cards. Or they'll unleash Harold Ickes on the superdelegates and suggest that if Mr. Obama loses in November she'll be back in 2012 and her revenge will be, well, Clintonian.

The difference between now and the 1990s, however, is that this time the Clinton foes aren't the "vast right-wing conspiracy." This time the conspirators are fellow Democrats. It took 10 years, but you might say Democrats have finally voted to impeach.
24077  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Noonan on: May 09, 2008, 11:58:29 AM
Damsel of Distress
May 9, 2008
This is an amazing story. The Democratic Party has a winner. It has a nominee. You know this because he has the most votes and the most elected delegates, and there's no way, mathematically, his opponent can get past him. Even after the worst two weeks of his campaign, he blew past her by 14 in North Carolina and came within two in Indiana.

 
Martin Kozlowski 
He's got this thing. And the Democratic Party, after this long and brutal slog, should be dancing in the streets. Party elders should be coming out on the balcony in full array, in full regalia, and telling the crowd, "Habemus nominatum": "We have a nominee." And the crowd below should be cheering, "Viva Obamus! Viva nominatum!"

Instead, you know where they are, the party elders. They are in a Democratic club on Capitol Hill, slump-shouldered at the bar, having a drink and then two, in a state of what might be called depressed horror. "What are they doing to the party?" they wail. "Why are they doing this?"

You know who they are talking about.

The Democratic Party can't celebrate the triumph of Barack Obama because the Democratic Party is busy having a breakdown. You could call it a breakdown over the issues of race and gender, but its real source is simply Hillary Clinton. Whose entire campaign at this point is about exploiting race and gender.

Here's the first place an outsider could see the tensions that have taken hold: on CNN Tuesday night, in the famous Brazile-Begala smackdown. Paul Begala wore the smile of the 1990s, the one in which there is no connection between the shape of the mouth and what the mouth says. All is mask. Donna Brazile was having none of it.

Mr. Begala more or less accused the Obama people of not caring about white voters: "[If] there's a new Democratic Party that somehow doesn't need or want white working-class people and Latinos, well, count me out." And: "We cannot win with eggheads and African Americans." That, he said, was the old, losing, Dukakis coalition.

"Paul, baby," Ms. Brazile, who is undeclared, began her response, "we need to not divide and polarize the Democratic Party. . . . So stop the divisions. Stop trying to split us into these groups, Paul, because you and I know . . . how Democrats win, and to simply suggest that Hillary's coalition is better than Obama's, Obama's is better than Hillary's -- no. We have a big party, Paul." And: "Just don't divide me and tell me I cannot stand in Hillary's camp because I'm black, and I can't stand in Obama's camp because I'm female. Because I'm both. . . . Don't start with me, baby." Finally: "It's our party, Paul. Don't say my party. It's our party. Because it's time that we bring the party back together, Paul."

In case you didn't get what was behind that exchange, Mrs. Clinton spent this week making it clear. In a jaw-dropping interview in USA Today on Thursday, she said, "I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on." As evidence she cited an Associated Press report that, she said, "found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

White Americans? Hard-working white Americans? "Even Richard Nixon didn't say white," an Obama supporter said, "even with the Southern strategy."

If John McCain said, "I got the white vote, baby!" his candidacy would be over. And rising in highest indignation against him would be the old Democratic Party.

To play the race card as Mrs. Clinton has, to highlight and encourage a sense that we are crudely divided as a nation, to make your argument a brute and cynical "the black guy can't win but the white girl can" is -- well, so vulgar, so cynical, so cold, that once again a Clinton is making us turn off the television in case the children walk by.
24078  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Kali Tudo on: May 09, 2008, 11:33:19 AM
Woof CFR:

Try this thread:  http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=597.0

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
24079  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / DSC Awarded on: May 09, 2008, 11:30:11 AM
Bragg Soldier Awarded DSC
May 01, 2008
Associated Press
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - A Special Forces Soldier who crawled 200 feet while being fired upon to save a wounded colleague, then led a group of besieged Soldiers to safety, received the Army's second-highest award for valor April 30.   Master Sgt. Brendan O'Connor received the Distinguished Service Cross in a ceremony April 30 at Fort Bragg for his actions in Afghanistan. The award is second in achievement only to the Medal of Honor.

"He made a conscious decision to do whatever it took to get to our wounded Soldiers," said Maj. Sheffield Ford, the team's commander during the June 2006 battle in southern Afghanistan.

O'Connor, 47, doesn't believe he is a hero. He said that police officers and firefighters are courageous every day and that he was only completing his mission.

"I am being recognized for a moment of courage," said O'Connor, whose wife and four children attended the ceremony. "I firmly believe other Soldiers in my place would have done the same thing."

With his Special Forces team surrounded by Taliban fighters, O'Connor volunteered to lead a relief force to rescue two wounded colleagues. He got to the edge of a field, but intense Taliban machine-gun fire made him turn back. After shedding his body armor so he could press himself flat in a ditch, he crawled the last 200 feet to the wounded Soldiers. Taliban fire was so close that it sheared off the blades of tall grass around the ditch as he crawled. Finally reaching the two wounded Soldiers, he stabilized them and led the relief force back to safety.

Admiral Eric T. Olson, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, and Lt. Gen. Robert W. Wagner, commanding general of the Army Special Operations Command, presented the award to O'Connor.

Olson, who recounted the battle in his speech, described O'Connor's actions as legendary.

"Master Sgt. O'Connor exemplifies the spirit and ethos of these warriors," Olson said. "We stand in quiet awe and in the deepest admiration."

The ceremony marked only the second time the award has been presented to a Soldier for actions in Afghanistan.

O'Connor is assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group. The unit is based at Fort Bragg, home to the Army's Special Operations Command and the 82nd Airborne Division.


© Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
24080  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: May 09, 2008, 11:26:38 AM
I had a fair amount of inner chatter over which thread in which to post this.  If it is PC (and a pretty fair case can be made that it is), then it belongs in the PC thread.  That said, the claim is made that this will facilitate effective communication with the Muslim world (and hinder it here amongst us Infidels) so I post it here:
===========

U.S. aims to unlink Islamic, terrorism

UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL
May 7, 2008

U.S. officials are being advised in internal government documents to avoid referring publicly to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups as Islamic or Muslim, and not to use terms like jihad or mujahedeen, which "unintentionally legitimize" terrorism.


"There' s a growing consensus [in the Bush administration] that we need to move away from that language," said a former senior administration official who was involved until recently in policy debates on the issue.



Instead, in two documents circulated last month by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), the multiagency center charged with strategic coordination of the U.S. war on terror, officials are urged to use terms such as violent extremists, totalitarian and death cult to characterize al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.



"Avoid labeling everything 'Muslim.' It reinforces the 'U.S. vs. Islam' framework that al Qaeda promotes," according to "Words that Work and Words that Don't: A Guide for Counter-Terrorism Communication," produced last month by the center.



"You have a large percentage of the world' s population that subscribes to this religion," the former official said. "Unintentionally alienating them is not a judicious move."



The documents, first reported by the Associated Press, were posted online last week by the Investigative Project on Terrorism.



They highlight developments in the Bush administration' s strategy for its war on terror that have been fiercely criticized by some who have been its closest allies on the issue, and apparently are being ignored by the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.



Some commentators noted after President Bush' s State of the Union speech in January that Mr. McCain had stopped using the term Islamic terrorism, instead referring — as the NCTC guide recommends — to "terrorists and extremists — evil men who despise freedom, despise America, and aim to subject millions to their violent rule."


But in a recent interview with The Washington Times, a McCain aide said the senator would continue to use the term Islamic terrorism.


Daniel Sutherland, who runs the Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, insisted that the avoidance of the term Islam in conjunction with terrorism "is in no way an exercise in political correctness. ... We are not watering down what we say."



"There are some terms which al Qaeda wants us to use because they are helpful to them," he said.



The "Words That Work" guide notes, "Although the al Qaeda network exploits religious sentiments and tries to use religion to justify its actions, we should treat it as an illegitimate political organization, both terrorist and criminal."



Instead of calling terrorist groups Muslim or Islamic, the guide suggests using words like totalitarian, terrorist or violent extremist — "widely understood terms that define our enemies appropriately and simultaneously deny them any level of legitimacy."


By employing the language the extremists use about themselves, the guide says, officials can inadvertently help legitimize them in the eyes of Muslims.



"Never use the terms 'jihadist' or 'mujahedeen' ... to describe the terrorists," the guide says. "A mujahed, a holy warrior, is a positive characterization in the context of a just war.


In Arabic, jihad means 'striving in the path of God' and is used in many contexts beyond warfare. Calling our enemies jihadis and their movement a global jihad unintentionally legitimizes their actions."



A longer document produced by Mr. Sutherland' s office and also circulated by the NCTC compiles advice from Islamic community leaders and religious professionals in the United States about terminology officials should use and avoid.



"Terminology to Define the Terrorists: Recommendations from American Muslims," says officials should use "terms such as 'death cult,' 'cult-like,' 'sectarian cult,' and 'violent cultists' to describe the ideology and methodology of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups."


It also recommends eschewing the terms Islamist or Islamism — the advocacy of a political system based on Islam — "because the general public, including overseas audiences, may not appreciate the academic distinction between Islamism and Islam."


The use of the term may be accurate, the document says, but "it may not be strategic for [U.S. government] officials to use the term."

http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/...725367235/1001
24081  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / J. Adams: Moral example for children on: May 09, 2008, 11:10:24 AM
"The foundation of national morality must be laid in private
families. . . . How is it possible that Children can have any
just Sense of the sacred Obligations of Morality or Religion if,
from their earliest Infancy, they learn their Mothers live in
habitual Infidelity to their fathers, and their fathers in as
constant Infidelity to their Mothers?"

-- John Adams (Diary, 2 June 1778)

Reference: The Works of John Adams, C.F. Adams, ed., vol. 3 (171)
24082  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: May 08, 2008, 10:18:08 PM
German Court Rules Muslim Girl Can't Skip Swimming Lessons

Thursday , May 08, 2008

A German court on Wednesday ruled that a Muslim student cannot skip co-ed swimming lessons because her religion prohibits form-fitting clothes that do not cover her body, The Local reported.

The 12-year-old girl’s parents sued a school in the northern city of Remscheid after it refused to let the girl skip the lessons. The court sided with the school, saying that the state’s responsibility to educate the girl outweighed an infringement on her religious freedom.

Last year the girl’s parents rejected an offer from the school saying she could swim in leggings and a T-shirt. They argued that her body still would be visible through wet clothes, The Local reported.

The court concluded that because the swim lessons take place in water, there would be very little time that her body would be seen.
The parents’ attorney said the family will appeal the decision.

Click here to read more on this story from The Local.
====================================

German Court Rules Christian Girl Can't Skip Sharia Law Thursdays

Thursday , May 08, 2012
A German court on Wednesday ruled that a Christian student cannot skip Sharia Law Thursdays where all of the female students must dress in Burkas and pray towards Mecco 5 times a day in an effort to teach all non-muslim children religious diversity and tolerance, despite the fact her religion prohitbs worshipping false gods, The Local reported.

The 12-year-old girl’s parents sued a school in the northern city of Remscheid after it refused to let the girl skip the lessons. The court sided with the school, saying that the state’s responsibility to educate the girl outweighed an infringement on her religious freedom.

Muslim students, of course, still do not have to learn about Christianity or Judaism, because those religions are offensive to muslims, and they could burn in Allah's Fires if they should emulate Infidels.

(Requesting URL on this one)
24083  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: May 08, 2008, 10:11:40 PM
May 8, 2008

Acting Head of Mexico’s Police Killed

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 3:31 p.m. ET

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Mexico's acting federal police chief was shot dead Thursday outside his home -- a brazen attack that comes as drug traffickers increasingly lash back at a nationwide crackdown on organized crime.

Edgar Millan Gomez was shot 10 times after he opened the door to his Mexico City apartment complex, where at least one gunman was waiting for him before dawn, the Public Safety Department said. Two bodyguards were also wounded. Millan died hours later in a hospital.

President Felipe Calderon's government said Millan played a vital role in the country's battle against organized crime and denounced ''this cowardly killing of an exemplary official.''  Millan, 41, was named acting chief of the federal police March 1 after his superior was promoted to a deputy Cabinet position, said a police official who was not authorized to give his name.  The official said police were investigating and had not yet determined a motive for the pre-dawn attack. One suspect with a record of car theft was arrested.

Mexico has suffered a wave of organized crime and drug-related violence in which more than 2,500 people died last year alone.  Since taking office in 2006, Calderon has sent more than 24,000 soldiers to drug hotspots, and Millan was in charge of coordinating operations between the federal police and those troops.

Cartels have responded fiercely to the nationwide offensive, killing soldiers and federal police in unprecedented attacks. But until recently, most of those killings took place in northern Mexico where drug gangs rule large areas of territory. Now criminals appear to be getting more brash with daring slayings in the capital.

George Grayson, a Mexico expert at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, said Millan's death ''shows the increasing audacity of the cartels.''

''This happened in Mexico City where people like Millan tend to be quite cautious, often sleeping in different houses on different nights, and who have their own security patrols,'' he said. ''When you can get someone like this, no one is safe.''

Millan was the second top federal police official killed in less than a week in Mexico City. A Mexican federal police intelligence analyst was killed on May 2 in an apparent armed robbery attempt outside his home.

In January, police in Mexico City arrested three men with assault rifles and grenade launchers who were allegedly planning to assassinate Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, a top prosecutor who oversees the extradition of drug traffickers.

Millan was involved in solving a number of high-profiling kidnappings.  In 2000, he helped capture one of Mexico's most feared kidnappers, Andres Caletri, and disband two notorious abduction rings. In 2001, he was named head of anti-kidnapping operations for the Federal Agency of Investigation, Mexico's version of the FBI.  Under his direction, agents captured five suspects involved in the abduction of Ruben Omar Romano, the coach of Mexico's Cruz Azul soccer team in 2005.

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/worl...Killed.html?hp
==========
Top policeman shot dead in Mexico
A senior Mexican police official has been gunned down in the capital, Mexico City, officials have said.
Edgar Millan Gomez was in charge of co-ordinating national police operations against drugs traffickers.
He was shot nine times outside his home early on Thursday and died later in hospital, officials said. Two of his bodyguards were wounded in the attack.
Police are investigating if the attack was drug-related. Several top policemen have been killed in the past week.
Police said a group of gunmen had attacked Mr Millan.
"They were hunting him," a spokesman for the security ministry told Reuters news agency.
Police have arrested a 34-year-old man in connection with the attack.
Lucrative trafficking routes
Mexico has seen a surge in drug-related killings recently. Last year, 2,500 people were killed; so far this year, 1,100 people have been killed.
Two other senior police officers were killed in Mexico City in separate incidents last week.
And earlier this week, a senior officer in Ciudad Juarez - across the border from the United States - was ambushed as he left police headquarters.
President Felipe Calderon has sent nearly 30,000 soldiers and federal police to fight Mexico's powerful drug cartels since he took office in 2006.
The drugs cartels have fought back by attacking security forces. They are also fighting with each other to control lucrative trafficking routes.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/7391128.stm
24084  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: May 08, 2008, 01:02:09 PM


How Obama Won the Cable TV Primary

Broadcasters on cable TV shows used to pride themselves on their efforts to be objective or at least not overt in their biases. But much has changed as the cable TV news universe has been morphed into a fierce competition with the emergence of ratings leader Fox News, which clearly appeals to a conservative-leaning audience. CNN, the old ratings favorite, still leans left but has made efforts at balance. MSNBC, on the other hand, seems to be seeking out more and more liberal-minded viewers.

But not all liberals are created equal, which has resulted in frequent complaints from Hillary Clinton supporters that the network is biased against her in the current primary fights. Last night, Hardball host Chris Matthews added fuel to that fire when he appeared for a speech at Harvard's Institute of Politics.

According to attendees, Mr. Matthews heaped praise upon Mr. Obama during his talk. So much so that during the Q&A, he was asked by an audience member if MSNBC officially backed the Illinois Senator. "Well, it's not official," Mr. Matthews replied in a burst of candor. He then launched into a rambling answer that appeared aimed at partially retracting his admission and ended with the assertion that all of his bosses at MSNBC had backed the Iraq war.

But MSNBC does not have much of a defense. During Tuesday night's primary coverage, the pro-Obama spin was so obvious that the political tipsheet Hotline joked that MSNBC's enthusiasm level for the Obama campaign registered somewhere between Richard Simmons and the "American Idol" girl who cried over Sanjaya.

The storyline of the 2008 election has been dramatically influenced by the favoritism shown Mr. Obama in certain media circles. John Harris, editor of Politico.com, has said he was forced to put certain reporters sent to cover Mr. Obama through a rehab program after they returned to the office. Back in January, NBC News anchor Brian Williams noted that Lee Cowan, the reporter NBC had sent to cover Mr. Obama, had told him that "it is hard to stay objective covering this guy."

Some media reevaluations of Mr. Obama are now taking place, fueled in part by revelations such as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright that are hard to ignore. But the simple truth is that Mr. Obama has had a free media ride for so long that he effectively wrapped up the Democratic nomination before any of his political weaknesses were generally known.

As Hillary Clinton wrestles with a way to continue her underdog fight against Mr. Obama, she is said to be seething about the kid-glove coverage he was accorded for so long. What she forgets is that back in 1992, when Bill Clinton and she were the new kids on the political block, they too benefited from glowing coverage that pushed off close analysis of their many problems until after 1992 election was over.

-- John Fund

Continuing the Jones Act

The Jones family has represented a Congressional district in North Carolina for 40 out of the last 42 years, with Democrat Walter Jones Sr. leaving office in 1992 and his son Walter Jr. taking over two years later -- though, in a twist, this younger Jones was elected as a Republican.

And a rare kind of Republican too. In recent years, he has aligned himself with the Ron Paul school of Republicanism, and voted against many Bush administration foreign policy priorities. An original supporter of the Iraq war, the younger Mr. Jones started voting against the war in 2005 and had warm words for Mr. Paul during the latter's presidential bid.

That brought him a vigorous challenge in Tuesday's GOP primary from Joe McLaughlin, a conservative local official who said Mr. Jones was consorting with the far left and undermining U.S. troops who are stationed in the strongly pro-military district. The race "is not even about Walter Jones. It's about the future of the Republican Party in the 3rd District. And if he wins, it's virtually the end of the party," Mr. McLaughlin claimed.

But beating an incumbent is always an uphill struggle, and Rep. Jones was able to outspend his challenger some five to one. In the end, Mr. McLaughlin's apocalyptic warnings did not resonate with district voters who had known the Jones family for decades. The congressman won 60% of the vote on Tuesday.

No doubt his victory does not mean his constituents share his anti-war views. But it does mean that if a congressman has built up enough credibility on other issues, voters will often forgive him for going against them so long as it appears to them to be a principled stand.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"There are various exit strategies right now. Number one would be, go out on a win. So, stay in until West Virginia, where Sen. Clinton is likely the winner, and Kentucky on May 20, and after that, bow out.... But the big one, Charlie -- and this is what some people close to the Clintons are talking about: Is there a way to negotiate a settlement with Barack Obama to have Sen. Clinton on the ticket...? Can he get over the bitterness of this campaign? Can he be convinced that it's the strongest ticket? Third, of course, would Sen. Clinton take it? I think if it was offered in the right way, yes" -- ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, last night reporting that Hillary Clinton is angling for the No. 2 spot on an Obama ticket.

Quote of the Day II

"Most of all, [Hillary Clinton] was too late in understanding how much the Democratic Party's mania for 'fairness,' as mandated by liberals like her, has, by forbidding winner-take-all primaries, made it nearly impossible for her to overcome Obama's early lead in delegates.... If even, say, Texas, California and Ohio were permitted to have winner-take-all primaries (as 48 states have winner-take-all allocation of their electoral votes), Clinton would have been more than 400 delegates ahead of Obama before Tuesday and today would be at her ancestral home in New York planning to return some of its furniture to the White House next January" -- syndicated columnist George F. Will.

Healing the Breach with Hispanics

The fast-growing Hispanic population in America has also proved a growing political problem for the Republican Party. The GOP's share of the Hispanic vote plummeted after the last Republican Congress's angry debate on immigration reform. That episode, which quickly focused on fence-building and deportations, created a portion of the electorate that now holds the Republican Party in increasing contempt.

Exit polls from the 2004 election show Hispanic voters favored Democratic candidates in Congressional elections by 55%-44% margin. Two years later, that margin more than doubled, with Hispanics favoring Democratic candidates by 62%-37%. In some states, several enforcement-only hardliners lost what had been Republican districts to more moderate Democratic challengers. In Arizona alone, Rep. J.D. Hayworth lost his seat to Democrat Harry Mitchell, while State Senator Gabrielle Giffords, also a Democrat, won an open seat previously held by a senior Republican when she beat an anti-illegal immigration activist.

This year, GOP strategists have warned that their party is in danger of categorically ruling out competing among Hispanic voters for perhaps a generation to come.

At least one state Republican Party is trying to engage Hispanic voters before it's too late. This weekend, the Florida GOP will host a Hispanic Leadership Council Conference featuring keynote addresses from Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Rep. Luis Fortuno of Puerto Rico, and home-state Senator Mel Martinez -- three of the leading Hispanic voices in the party today.

"The Hispanic vote and the African American vote is the future of the Republican Party," Florida party chair Jim Greer says (Mr. Greer held a similar event aimed at African American voters late last year). To get the groups involved, he adds: "We ensure that they have a seat at the table, and wherever [the Republican Party has] failed in the past, we correct that."

It is a help to the GOP that John McCain is the party's standard-bearer in this year's presidential contest. Mr. McCain is far more moderate on immigration issues than most of his primary rivals were, several of whom proposed steps just short of outright deportation of undocumented aliens. And while Mr. McCain has recently backed off his support for a comprehensive approach that would include a guest-worker program, telling conservative voters in his own base that he understands their concerns about rewarding illegal behavior, his legislative and political record could prove more appealing to Hispanic voters, or at least less damaging to the party's chances with those voters, than anything his erstwhile rivals could have offered.

If Mr. Greer's efforts to woo Hispanic voters works (and he says the Hispanic constituency is "critically important" to a successful GOP presidential campaign in Florida), the idea could be exported to other states in time for Congressional elections in 2010. But if others choose the route of ex-Rep. Hayworth and the immigration hardliners, the damage to party's reputation with Hispanic voters could be severe and long lasting.

24085  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michael Yon on: May 08, 2008, 11:31:03 AM
Some folks have asked if I plan to do book signings in stores. None are planned because I need to take care of business here before heading back to the war, but I have been making dozens of media appearances and many more are scheduled this month.  The big issue at hand is the launch of my book Moment of Truth in Iraq.  Doesn't do any good to spend all that time on the battlefields if I do not take time to convey the facts to folks at home.
 
I'll try to sign one more gigantic stack of Moment of Truth before heading back to the war, but for those folks who were buying signed copies for Christmas presents, now is the best time as we still have about a thousand signed copies.
 
Amazon.com is fully stocked and has the lowest current price--$17.97 as I type this.

Moment of Truth is available at all Barnes & Noble stores and at BN.com at a reduced price.  Please click the link and enter your zip code to check availability of Moment of Truth in Iraq at nearby stores. This function maps nearby stores with copies in stock.
 
Great to be back in America but sure comes with a lot of work before heading back to Iraq and Afghanistan.
 
Next time you see a service member in an airport, please say "thank you" to him or her.  Those simple words go a long, long way.  Back in the war, I often have heard combat soldiers saying how good it made them feel when someone in an airport simply said "thank you" and kept on walking.  Very powerful words.  They hugely appreciate those words.
 
Your correspondent,
 
Michael Yon
24086  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Wilson: Law and Liberty on: May 08, 2008, 10:33:54 AM
"Without liberty, law loses its nature and its name, and becomes
oppression. Without law, liberty also loses its nature and its
name, and becomes licentiousness."

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

Reference: The Works of James Wilson, Andrews, ed., vol. 1 (7)
24087  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Case Study: knifing victim testimony on: May 08, 2008, 08:20:49 AM

 
I mean, I didn't know it at the time, but I had my guts hanging out of my stomach, my temple was slashed.
I was basically fighting for my life, and I was just in that fighting mode, I remember jumping into his car and kneeing him in his face.
That's when my friend said, Mike, stop; you've been stabbed, and I looked up in my stomach and --
Q   Explain to us, how is it that after this clash, you ended up in the front seat of this vehicle?
A   I can't tell you how I got in his vehicle.  I don't remember that.  I really don't.  All I remember is that I was in that fighting mode.
No law, nothing was in my head that was -- you know what I mean.  At that point, I was in a fighting mode.  Some one has got to stop me at that point.
Q   But you do remember going towards the driver's side of the vehicle driven by this male and going towards that door?
A   Yes, yes.
Q   Did you enter the vehicle?
A   I didn't enter it.  I didn't -- like, I reached in there and grabbed his head.
Q   You did?
 
Well, explain to us, to the best of your recollection, how is it that this male that was driving this vehicle proceeded from between the two of your vehicles towards the front door of his vehicle?
A   I can't tell you that.  I don't know.
Q   Did you see him do that?
A   See him do what; go to his car?
Q   Go to his car after the clash.
A   I mean, I couldn't give you an honest answer.  I don't remember.  I mean, I do remember, somehow, he had his legs out of the car; and I do remember going there and grabbing his head and kneeing his face, and I remember that's what ended the fight.
That's when my friend said, Mike, stop fighting.  You're hurt.  Because I didn't feel any of that.
Q   Any other reason in your mind why you went towards the front door of his vehicle?
A   Like I said, I was in fight mode.  I wasn't thinking clearly.  That's the only explanation I have.
I mean, I was bleeding to death.
 
I wasn't in my right -- if I could do it all over again, I wouldn't have followed him.  I would have pulled over and let him go, but you know, that's not what happened.
I didn't do everything text book right, but like I said, it was just instincts.  I couldn't help it.
Q   So, you're guts were hanging out of your stomach; were you intestines actually hanging out of your stomach?
A   Yes.  My friend was holding in my stomach for me.
Q   Who was?
A   My friend in the car was holding in my stomach for me so they wouldn't lay on the car seat.
Q   Before this clash took place between these two vehicles, did you make any gestures towards the vehicle driven by the male?
A   Before anything happened?
Q   Before, you testified there was a clash, and a clash occurred between he vehicle driven by the male and the vehicle driven by your wife.
A   Right.
Q   That was the first physical contact.
A   Yes.
 
Q   Before that occurred that evening on that day, did you make any gestures towards the vehicle that was driven by this male?
A   No, sir.  If I did, I might have a reason -- I might understand why it was he swerved.  That's why I can't understand what the point of that swerve was.
As soon as I looked over at him, he swerved.  I can't understand what caused him to do that. 
Q   Did anybody in you vehicle make any gestures towards the male before the clash occurred?
A   Not that I'm aware of.  I didn't see any.
THE COURT:  When you say clash, you're talking about the vehicle swerving behavior, and not the person's clashing?
MR. TELUK:  I'm referring to the actual clash between the male and Mr. Daniel.  That's the clash I'm referring to.
THE COURT:  Okay.  I'm going to ask you to rephrase the question, please.
MR. TELUK:  I'll rephrase the question.
BY MR. TELUK:           
Q   That evening, that day, did you or anybody inside your vehicle, make any gestures towards the vehicle that was driven by that male?
A   Not that I saw, no.
 
Q   Before that clash occurred between yourself and the male in that vehicle, did you say anything, or did anybody in you vehicle say anything to anybody in the vehicle that was driven by the male?
A   No, there was no words.
Q   You testified that you pretty much lost it that evening?
A   After I had my temple cut and my guts cut out of my stomach, yeah; I lost it.  I didn't necessarily know that that was happening, but there was something inside of me.
Apparently, that was it, because I've never felt like that in my life.
Q   Well, did you lose it before this clash occurred?
A   No, not like I did when I got cut.
Q   So, you do admit you lost it before the clashing occurred?
A   No, that's not what I just said.
Q   Well, how would you characterize your statement that you believe you lost it before this clash occurred?
A   Say that again, please.
 
Q   You testified on direct examination that you pretty much lost it that evening or that night.
That was your testimony; right?
A   Not -- that's not what caused me to get out of the car.
Q   Well, listen to the question, please.
You testified on direct examination that that evening or that night, you pretty much lost it.
That's what you said; correct?
A   At a certain point in time, yeah.
Q   You said that?
A   Yes.
Q   I'm asking you, what did you mean by that statement?
A   By losing it?
Q   Yes.
A   I mean, just going off.  I mean, I had blood coming out of my head. 
MS. ASHWORTH:  Your Honor, I'm going to object at this point as asked and answered.
 
If he wants to put it into context when that statement was made, then maybe the witness can clarify it, but without any other information, I think he's testified over and over again what he meant and what happened to the best of his recollection.   
MR. TELUK:  I'm going to rephrase the question.
THE COURT:  I'm going to overrule the objection.  I think you're going to follow that question to try to elicit further information.  Go ahead.
BY MR. TELUK: 
Q   Besides what you testified up to this point in time, you testified that that evening, you pretty much lost it.
A   I don't know what you mean by that evening.  I mean, I told you I lost it after I got stabbed eight times.
Q   Was that when you lost it?
A   Yeah.  When I kneed him in his face, I lost it.  I shouldn't have done that.
Q   You shouldn't have done what?
A   I shouldn't have followed him in his car and kneed him in his face.  That's what I meant by losing it.
Q   Okay.
A   I could have got back in my car and went to the hospital.
 
Q   And from the time this vehicle driven by this male swerved into the vehicle that had been driven by your wife, you were consistently angry; correct?
A   Yeah, I was very angry.  I didn't lose it.  I was angry.  I wanted to see him get arrested.
Q   You wanted to do him some harm that day; correct, before the clash occurred?
A   Yeah, I wanted to see him get put back behind a cop car.
Q   You wanted to fight with him before the clash occurred; isn't that true?
A   A fist fight?
Q   Yes.
A   I didn't want to fight.  If I could have sat there and called the police and had the police come -- my -- it was stupid to do that. 
It was stupid to follow him and try to act like a cop myself to help a cop get him.  That was dumb, but that's what I did.
I had no intention of stopping and getting out.  I got put with a split second decision and I made my decision.
Q   And you started the fight; yes or no?
 
A   No, I didn't start the fight.
Q   Did this male in the vehicle start the fight?
A   I would say so.
Q   Tell us why you believe he started the fight.
A   Well, he came up beside my car full of my family and swerved me off the road for no reason.
I think that's enough to start a fight, wouldn't you?
Q   Any other reason?
A   Getting out of his car and making threatening gestures to my car.  That'd be a reason.
Q   What threatening gestures did he make?
A   Swinging his door open and getting out like he's going to fight.  I've got my three year old daughter.  I have no idea what this guy's going to do.
Q   Any other threatening gestures?
A   No.
MR. TELUK:  I have no further questions.
24088  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Case Study: knifing victim testimony on: May 08, 2008, 08:20:04 AM

BY MS. ASHWORTH:
Q   What happened next?
A   All I can remember was him getting out of the car.  My emotions were running so high, because my adrenaline was pumping.  You know, I've got my daughter in the back seat.
I seen him get out of his car, and that was it.  I didn't think about nothing else.  I got out.  I wanted to protect my family, because this guy is crazy.  He swerved at us like that for no reason.
Q   How do you describe how this person got out the car?
A   He just, basically, ripped his door off it's hinges getting out.  You know, I just saw the door fling open.
Q   Was that on the driver's side or the passenger's?
A   Driver's.
Q   Do you remember what the person looked like that got out of the car?
A   Not at all.
Q   Not at all?
A   No.
 
Q   So, you can't identify the person as being here in the courtroom?
A   No, I really can't.
Q   So, you saw, what you said, the door fly off the hinges --
A   I'm just saying he pushed it open real hard like he was getting out to fight.  
Q   Where was the driver of that car when you got out of your car?
A   The driver of his car?
He was the driver.
Q   Right; where was he when you decided to get out of your car?
A   Coming towards my car.
Q   But where?
Between his driver's side and where you met him --
A   I mean, as soon as I seen him get out and approach my car, I got out.  So, he didn't even make it past his car yet.
Q   And you got out of the passenger side of your car?
A   Uh-huh.
 
Q   What happened next?
A   It was just a clash.  No words, it was a clash.
Q   Do you remember what happened?
Can you tell the Court what happened?
A   All I remember is just -- I mean, I can't remember exactly what happened.  I remember we clashed and just started fighting.
I had no idea, I mean, nothing was going on.  I thought it was just a fist fight, and when my friends realized that all that blood was coming from me, they decided it was time to get out and help me out, and --
Q   Did you see any weapon?
A   I never saw it.  Never.
Q   Did you notice any blood?
A   On my head.  I figured it was a grazing punch.  I never thought it was a knife.
Q   Okay.
Where in relation to the cars did this fight take place?        
A   I'm not exactly sure, but if I had to make a guess, I'd say in the middle somewhere.
Q   Okay.
 
What did you do after that?
A   After what?
Q   After this fight.
Did you get back in your car, or did you --
A   Well, that's when Justin was like, Mike, stop fighting; because I, I mean, I pretty much lost it.
He said look at your stomach, and I pulled my shirt up an my guts were hanging out of my stomach, and that's when I realized I needed to go to the hospital.
I ran back to my car, and Justin flew back there, somehow, and we rushed to the hospital.
Q   What injuries did you sustain as a result of this fight?
A   I got stabbed and lacerated eight times.  I got stabbed in the triceps, I got slashed in my temple, I got my guts cut out of my stomach, I got poked in the chest, poked in the back, slashed in my right arm.
Q   What treatment did you receive at the hospital?
A   What do you mean by that?
Q   What treatment, what did they do to you, and what hospital did you go to?
A   The first one I went to was Potomac Hospital.
 
Q   Okay.
What happened there?
A   It was kind of a blur at that point because I was losing so much blood.
All I remember was walking into the hospital with blood everywhere, and they threw me on a table, stripped my clothes off, there was like, eight doctors around me, and that was it.  I blacked out.
Q   Where did you wake up?
A   I woke up in ICU in Fairfax.
Q   How long were you in the intensive care unit?
A   Without knowing exactly, I'd say two or three days.
Q   Do you have scars as a result of this fight?
A   Very bad scars.
Q   I'd ask you to show the judge your scars.
A   All of them, or just --
THE COURT:  Do I need to see this, for preliminary hearing purposes?
MS. ASHWORTH:  No.
THE COURT:  All right.
BY MS. ASHWORTH:  
 
Q   Do you have any permanent injuries as a result of this?
A   Yeah.
Q   What is that?
A   I have nerve damage in my left arm where he stabbed me in the triceps.  I can't squeeze with my left hand.
Q   Were you able to do that before this?
A   Oh, yeah.  Strong as an ox before this.
Q   What are you unable to squeeze?
You're able to move your hand?
A   Yeah, I just don't have any pressure to squeeze it.
Q   Please answer any questions that Mr. Teluk has for you.
   * * * * *
BY MR. TELUK:
Q   Then, at a certain point in time, you decided to exit the vehicle driven by your wife; right?
A   Yes.
Q   Why did you exit that vehicle?
 
A   Because I had my three-year-old daughter in the back seat, I had my wife sitting next to me, I didn't know if this guy had a gun, I didn't know if he was going to come force us out of the -- I had no idea what he was going to do.
Out of nowhere, he came and swerved at my car, so at this point in time, I didn't what this guy's intentions were.
So, at that point in time, I had no second thoughts about getting out of my car and defending my family, and that's just what was going through my head.
Q   Any other reason you exited the vehicle at that point in time?
A   Any other reason why, other than to protect my family?
Q   Yes.
A   No.
Q   Now, at that point in time, both vehicles are stopped; right?
A   Yes.
Q   You're in the passenger side; correct?
A   Right.
Q   The driver of this vehicle is in front of your vehicle; correct?
A   Yes.
Q   He's on the driver's side; right?
 
A   Yes.
Q   Any other reason why you believed you had to exit your vehicle to protect you family?
A   What do you mean by that?
Q   Well, you said you exited your vehicle; right?
A   Right.
Q   Because you didn't know what this person was going to do?
A   Right.
Q   This person when you exit your vehicle; where is this other person?
A   On the way to my car.
Q   Okay; what is he doing?
A   I really don't know.  If I don't know what he looks like -- I mean, there's a lot of things that's a blur.
At that point in time, I felt in danger for my family.
Q   Any other reason that you testify to that you felt either you or you family was in danger, other than what you testified to?
A   No.
Q   All right.
 
So this male gets out of the car; correct?
A   Uh-huh.
Q   Does he say anything o you?
A   No.
Q   Does he do anything unusual to lead you to believe that --
A   He almost swerved my family off the road for no reason.  That was kind of unusual.
Q   That's the only reason you wanted to protect your family at that point in time?
A   I didn't know what was going on.
Q   I understand that.
Now, you exited your vehicle after he exited his vehicle, or vise-versa?
A   Say that again.
Q   You exited the vehicle before or after he exited his vehicle?
A   After he exited his.
Q   All right; and where was he in relationship to the driver's side door of his vehicle, where was he in relationship to that driver's side door when you exited your vehicle?
A   You mean the time I exited?
 
Q   Yes.
A   He was getting out of his car.
Q   He was just getting out of his car?
A   Uh-huh.
Q   He was not at the front of your vehicle; he was just getting out of his car?
A   No, he wasn't banging on my window or nothing, telling me to get out.  I just -- it was an instant reaction that I had.
I just got out.  It was the only thing I could think to do.  I didn't have ten minutes to sit there and think about what was the best thing to do legally.
It was an animal instinct.  I had my three-year-old daughter behind me.  That means everything to me.  It was a split second decision.  It might have been the wrong one.  That's what I decided to do.      
Q   He's not yelling at you or screaming at you, or anything like that; right?
A   No.
Q   So what did you do next after you exited the passenger side door of your vehicle?
A   I ran right into him and started fighting.
Q   You started the fight?
 
A   No, I didn't start the fight.
Q   But you just said you started fighting.
A   Yes, that's the intention I had getting out of the car, was to fight to protect my family.
Q   So, how did you start the fight?
A   How did I start the fight?
Q   Yes.
A   How did I start the physical altercation, you mean?
I jumped out and I clashed into him.  I felt like I needed to that to prevent this guy -- I have no idea what the hell he's doing with my family, I had no idea what his intentions were.
My animal instincts told me to get out and keep him away from my car, keep him away from my daughter behind me.
Q   So you said you clashed into him?
A   Yes.
Q   C-L-A-S-H-E-D; is that the word you used; clashed?
A   Yeah.
Q   How did you clash into him?
 
A   I don't -- I can't explain it.  If I knew if I threw him a three piece combo or knee, I'd tell you that.  That's why I say clash.  I don't remember it.  I just remember this (indicating).  That's all I remember.
Q   Did you run towards him?
A   Yes.
Q   He wasn't running towards you when you ran towards him; is that correct?
A   Yes, he was running towards me.  It was a mutual -- I mean as far as that goes, he clashed into me.  It was like this (indicating).
It was a clash.  It wasn't like I attacked him.  It was a clash.
Q   Where did this clash take place?
A   Between both of our cars.
Q   Do you recall which portion of your body clashed with his body?
A   No.  Other wise, I'd say something other than clash.  I don't remember.  If I did, I'd say something, but all I remember in my head is a clash.
Q   Do you know how long this clashing occurred?
A   No.  I remember a clash, and we broke up and squared up.
Q   I'm sorry, you broke up and what?
 
A   When we first hit, it was a clash.  I don't remember what happened, and then we broke back up, and
we both squared up, and we were both fighting.
So, as far as I know, it's a boxing match after we broke up after the first clash.  You know, he took a swing.
All this blood came from my head.  I figured, he grazed me with a fist or something like that busted my head open.
I had no idea I was getting stabbed.  So, I kept fighting.  After I started bleeding, I really started fighting as hard as I could.
Q   The clash took place between the rear of your vehicle and the front of your vehicle; correct?
Is that a fair characterization?
A   Yeah.  I mean, I almost died that night.  I can't tell you exactly what happened.  I'm giving you the best I can remember.
Q   I understand, and isn't it true that after this clash occurred, this male proceeded towards the front door of his vehicle?
A   Do what?
 
Q   You proceeded towards the driver's door of his vehicle?
A   After we clashed?
Q   Yes.
A   Absolutely not.
Q   Why do you disagree with that statement?
A   Because we squared up when we broke up off of that clash.
Q   After you squared up, what happened then?
A   I just remember throwing fist in a normal fistfight, and --
Q   You do remember hitting him with you fist; correct?
A   Yes, I do.
Q   How many times did you hit him with your fist?
A   I couldn't tell you an exact number, but I hit him a few times.
Q   At least five?
A   That's fair.
Q   Would at least ten be fair?
A   Maybe.  Like I said, I mean, it was blur.  I got my temple sliced open and I was losing blood so fast.       I mean, it's kind of hard to remember something that's going on.
 
Q   Did he strike you with his fists?
A   He struck me with the knife, and I didn't even know he was doing the knife, so I can't tell you what he did.
I mean --
Q   Do you recall how many times he hit you with his fist, if he hit you at all?
A   No.  I didn't know any of that.  I didn't know what he was doing.  All I was worried about was I'm going to do.
Q   Do you recall any other physical contact between you and this mail that was driving this car?
A   Other than the fight?
Q   Other than what you testified to?
A   Yeah.
Q   What other physical contact do you remember?
A   You mean after we broke up?
Q   All right.  Besides --
A   I remember jumping into his car when the fight was -- because I got in a fight mode, and I pretty much lost it.  
 
24089  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Another Coyote attack on: May 08, 2008, 08:18:36 AM
California 2-Year-Old Dragged From Yard by Coyote in Third Such Attack in Five Days

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

LAKE ARROWHEAD, Calif. —
A coyote grabbed a 2-year-old girl by the head and tried to drag her from the front yard of her mountain home in the third incident of a coyote threatening a small child in Southern California in five days, authorities said.


The coyote attacked the girl around noon Tuesday when her mother, Melissa Rowley, went inside the home for a moment to put away a camera, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said in an incident report.

Rowley came out of the house and saw the coyote dragging her daughter towards a street. She ran towards her daughter, and the animal released the girl and ran away, said sheriff's spokeswoman Arden Wiltshire.

Rowley took her daughter to a hospital where the toddler was treated for several punctures to the head and neck area, and a laceration on her mouth. She was then flown to Loma Linda University Hospital for further treatment, although her injuries were not life-threatening.

State Fish and Game wardens and county animal control authorities set traps for the coyote and were monitoring the neighborhood high in the San Bernardino Mountains about 65 miles miles northeast of Los Angeles.
On Friday, a nanny pulled a 2-year-old girl from the jaws of a coyote at Alterra Park in Chino Hills, a San Bernardino County community about 30 miles east of Los Angeles. The girl suffered puncture wounds to her buttocks and was treated at a hospital.

A coyote came after another toddler in the same park Sunday. The child's father kicked and chased the coyote away.

Alterra Park is near Chino Hills State Park, a natural open space of thousands of acres spanning nearly 31 miles.
24090  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Vetoing the Verifyers on: May 08, 2008, 07:51:47 AM
Vetoing the Verifiers
May 8, 2008; Page A14
The State Department is justifying its decision to let North Korea renege on its pledge to give a "complete declaration of its nuclear programs" by promising a strict verification regime. So why is Foggy Bottom cutting its own verification experts out of the loop?

The State Department's systematic exclusion of its own Bureau of Verification, Compliance and Implementation has gone unreported as the North Korean diplomacy proceeds. But it is causing concern on Capitol Hill and has already led to a proposal to require State to submit a report to Congress describing how the U.S. will verify any nuclear deal. Sponsored by Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the legislation passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week with the support of Democratic Chairman Howard Berman.

The mandate of the verification bureau, as described on the State Department's Web site, is to provide oversight "on all matters relating to verification or compliance with international arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament agreements and commitments." It "supports the Secretary" in "developing and implementing robust and rigorous verification and compliance policies."

The verification bureau was created by a Republican Congress in 1999 over the objections of the Clinton Administration and State Department careerists who didn't want agreements subject to additional oversight. The bureau's biggest success to date is Libya, where it played a central role in dismantling the country's WMD programs in 2003. There the bureau worked closely with experts from the Departments of Defense and Energy as well as with Britain and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

North Korea is a different story. The verifiers "have no voice so far," one person close to the process told us. They aren't part of the negotiating teams talking to the North Koreans and they've been excluded from key internal meetings. No one from the verification bureau participated in a recent State Department trip to Pyonygang intended to work out verification issues.

Nor is the verification bureau in charge of monitoring the disabling of the North's nuclear reactor at Yongbyon. One bureau professional took part, but he was invited for his technical expertise; he was not there as a verifier. Paula DeSutter, the assistant secretary who heads the bureau, declined to comment.

 
Incredibly, the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs is calling the shots – talking to the North Koreans, hand picking experts to work at Yongbyon, and overseeing disablement. Call it the Chris Hill Show. Mr. Hill – the assistant secretary for East Asia – has also made a mockery of the interagency process. The verification bureau's Pentagon counterparts, who were closely involved in the six-party Korean diplomacy until mid-2005, have also been kept in exile.

Now there's talk that the East Asia bureau – not the verification bureau – will also end up monitoring any final six-party agreement. Not only does East Asia lack the technical expertise to verify a nuclear agreement, its staffers would hardly be eager to find violations in an accord negotiated by their superiors. There's even talk State may outsource some of the inspection work to China, which will be chairing a verification group within the six-party group. But China would have no incentive to blow the whistle on its client state.

The fact that Mr. Hill and his boss, Secretary Condoleezza Rice, are marginalizing their own verifiers is further reason to doubt their North Korea deal. The diplomats want to deliver a "success" and are afraid that if the verifiers get a close look, they will expose it as a fraud. Among the uncomfortable questions: Where is all of the plutonium North Korea has produced over the years? What happened to the uranium program that Pyongyang once boasted about but now says does not exist? What exactly did the North proliferate to Syria?

No verification can deliver 100% certainty, and North Korea, with its history of cheating and lying, would be a difficult case under even the most stringent inspection regimes. The disarmament of Libya succeeded because Moammar Gadhafi decided to cooperate. There's zero indication that Kim Jong Il shares that frame of mind.

North Korea's geography offers special challenges too. It's a mountainous country, with caves hiding mobile missile launchers aimed at Seoul. The military has vast underground facilities built with the help of its former Soviet patrons. Will these be open to inspectors? Even assuming that Kim will allow unimpeded and unannounced access – a leap of diplomatic faith – special expertise is needed to decide where to inspect and what to look for.

The State Department's verification bureau was created in the spirit of Ronald Reagan's slogan, "trust but verify." The Gipper was referring to the disarmament of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, but his principle applies equally to North Korea today. If Foggy Bottom won't trust its own verifiers enough to make them part of any disarmament deal, then the rest of us shouldn't trust any deal struck by the Bush State Department.

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24091  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rove on: May 08, 2008, 07:47:58 AM
It's Obama, Warts and All
By KARL ROVE
May 8, 2008; Page A15

Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama each took a state Tuesday. But the result was a damaging loss for the woman who was once the overwhelming front-runner for the Democratic nomination. Here are some observations on the race:

- Mr. Obama is now the prohibitive favorite. Tuesday night, he took at least 94 delegates to Mrs. Clinton's 75 and leads the former First Lady by 176 delegates in the AP tabulation. He has 1,840 of the 2,025 delegates needed to win. Mr. Obama needs only 185 – or 38% – of the 486 outstanding delegates (217 to be elected in the six remaining contests, and 269 superdelegates yet to endorse a candidate). Mrs. Clinton needs 341, or 70% of those left to be awarded.

 
AP 
Barack Obama arrives at a primary election night rally in North Carolina, May 6, 2008.
Mr. Obama understands this. On Tuesday night, he added a big dollop of general election themes and pre-emptive defenses against coming attacks to his stump speech.

- Mrs. Clinton may battle until June and possibly until the convention in August. There's nothing Mr. Obama can or should do about it. After a long, bitter struggle, losing candidates often look for reasons to feel aggrieved. There is no reason to give her one. No pressure from Mr. Obama or party Chairman Howard Dean is better than pushing her out of the race.

- The Democrats' refusal to seat the Florida and Michigan delegations at their convention is an unresolved problem. If they insist on not seating these delegations, Democrats risk alienating voters in states with 44 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. And here Mr. Obama is at greater risk than Mrs. Clinton, especially in Florida. He trails John McCain badly in Sunshine State polls today, while Mrs. Clinton leads Mr. McCain there.

- The length of the Democratic contest has been – in some ways – a plus for the party. The AP estimates that more than 3.5 million new voters registered during the competitive primary season. And the hundreds of millions of dollars spent energizing Democratic turnout will leave organization and energy in place for November. Mr. Obama is a better candidate for having been battle tested. And Mr. McCain has to fight hard for attention. He's mentioned in less than 20% of the coverage in recent months, while Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton are talked about in 60% to 70% of the coverage.

- The length of the Democratic contest has been – in some ways – a minus. It has revealed weaknesses in Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton. Mrs. Clinton came across as calculating, contrived, stiff and self-concerned. Mr. Obama is increasingly seen not as the Second Coming, but as a typical liberal Chicago pol with a thin record, little experience, an array of troubling relationships and, to top it off, elitist sensibilities. Nominating him will now test the thesis that only a Democrat running as a moderate can win the White House.

The primary has created a deep fissure in Democratic ranks: blue collar, less affluent, less educated voters versus the white wine crowd of academics and upscale professionals (along with blacks and young people). Mr. Obama runs behind Mrs. Clinton's numbers when matched against Mr. McCain in key industrial battleground states. Less than half of Mrs. Clinton's backers in Indiana and North Carolina say they would support Mr. Obama if he were the nominee. In the most recent Fox News poll, two-and-a-half times as many Democrats break for Mr. McCain (15%) as Republicans defect to Mrs. Clinton (6%) and nearly twice as many Democrats support Mr. McCain (22%) as Republicans back Mr. Obama (13%). These "McCainocrat" defections could hurt badly.

State and local Democrats are realizing the toxicity of their probable national ticket. Democrats running in special congressional races recently in Louisiana and Mississippi positioned themselves as pro-life, pro-gun social conservatives and disavowed Mr. Obama. The Louisiana Democrat won his race on Saturday and said he "has not endorsed any national politician." The Mississippi Democrat is facing a runoff on May 13 and specifically denied that Mr. Obama had endorsed his campaign. Not exactly profiles in unity.

- As much as Mr. Obama's cheerleaders in the media hate it, Rev. Jeremiah Wright remains a large general-election challenge for Mr. Obama. Not only did Mr. Obama admit on "Fox News Sunday" that Mr. Wright was a legitimate issue, voters agree. Mr. Obama's favorable ratings have dropped since Mr. Wright emerged as an issue. More than half of Mrs. Clinton's supporters say it is a meaningful reflection on Mr. Obama's character and judgment.

- This will be a very difficult year for Republicans. The economy's shaky state, an unpopular war, and the natural desire for partisan change after eight years of one party in the White House have helped tilt the balance to the Democrats.

Mr. Obama is significantly weaker today than he was three months ago, but Democrats have the upper hand in November. They're beatable. But it's nonsense to think this year is going to be a replay of George H.W. Bush versus Michael Dukakis or Richard Nixon versus George McGovern.

- Mr. McCain is very competitive. He is the best candidate Republicans could have picked in this environment. With the GOP brand low, his appeal to moderates and independents becomes even more crucial.

My analysis of individual state polls shows that today Mr. McCain would win 241 Electoral College votes to Mr. Obama's 217, with 80 votes in toss-up states where neither candidate has more than a 3% lead. Ironically, Mrs. Clinton now leads Mr. McCain with 251 electoral votes to his 203 with 84 in toss-up states. This is the first time she's led Mr. McCain since I began tracking state-by-state results in early March.

Mr. McCain is realistic enough to know he will fall behind Mr. Obama once the Democratic nomination is settled. He's steeled himself and his team for that moment. And he's comforted by a belief that there will be plenty of time to recapture the lead. Mr. McCain saw Gerald Ford come from 30 points down to lose narrowly to Jimmy Carter in 1976, and watched George H.W. Bush overcome a 17-point deficit in the summer to hammer Michael Dukakis in the fall of 1988.

- The battlegrounds will look familiar. It will be the industrial heartland from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, minus Indiana (Republican) and Illinois (Democrat); the western edge of the Midwest from Minnesota south to Missouri; Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada in the Rocky Mountains; Florida; and New Hampshire.

Mr. Obama will argue he puts Virginia and North Carolina into play (doubtful), and may make an attempt at winning one or two of Nebraska's electoral votes (it awards its electoral votes by congressional district). Mr. McCain will say he can put New Jersey and Delaware and part of Maine (it splits its vote like Nebraska) in play. But it's doubtful he'll win in Oregon or Washington State, although he believes he can.

- Almost everything we think we know right now will be revised and even overturned during the next six months. This has been a race in which conventional wisdom has often been proven wrong. The improbable or thought-to-be impossible has happened with regularity. It has created a boom market for punditry and opinion offering, and one of the grandest possible spectacles for political junkies in decades. Hold on to your hat. It's going to be one heck of a ride through Nov. 4.

Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.

24092  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bolton: Bush's NK Nuke Abdication on: May 08, 2008, 07:37:56 AM
Bush's North Korea Nuclear Abdication
By JOHN R. BOLTON
May 8, 2008; Page A15

Despite rising Capitol Hill opposition to its North Korea policy, the Bush administration continues to find new and imaginative ways to accommodate Pyongyang's sensitivities. Meanwhile, the administration's Democratic congressional allies are urgently pushing to waive the Glenn Amendment, which bars essentially all U.S. economic and military aid to the North.

The strategic folly here is rooted in the administration's decision to focus on North Korea's plutonium supplies and stop caring what Pyongyang once did or is doing on the enriched-uranium route to nuclear weapons. That could be a fatal mistake.

In 2002, our intelligence community definitively judged that the regime was working on an industrial-scale enrichment program. Since then we have little new information, reducing the confidence level, but not changing the substantive conclusion, that the North Koreans "have and continue to operate a uranium enrichment program" – as Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell testified in February.

For the Bush administration, however, the lack of new data is an excuse to ignore the entire issue of uranium.

On plutonium, the administration seems content to seek vague statements from the North that "account" for the amount of this fissile material we think it has extracted from its Yongbyon reactor's spent fuel rods over the years. Administration briefings reveal little or no interest in how many plutonium weapons exist; whether there are other plutonium-related facilities hidden in North Korea's vast complex of underground facilities; and what the North's weapons-manufacturing capabilities are.

Proliferation? Perhaps the Bush administration's most wondrous act of magic is to make that problem disappear. The State Department argues that North Korea may have proliferated in the past, but that's all behind us. How do we know? The North Koreans have told us.

Since the reactor it helped Syria build on the Euphrates River was pulverized by the Israeli Air Force last September 6, Pyongyang's efforts at and interest in nuclear proliferation may have ceased. Even if true, that should not give us comfort: It took an act of brute military force to bring this about. One need hardly point out that this tactic is not congruent with the administration's current approach to North Korea's nuclear behavior.

More troubling is the administration's apparent treatment of the Syrian reactor as if it were the only proliferation threat in the Middle East. It is not. Iran should be top of mind as well.

It is inconceivable that Syria could work for five years or more building the clone of North Korea's Yongbyon reactor on the Euphrates without, at a minimum, Iranian acquiescence. Quite likely, Iran was involved. Tehran could well be financing Syria's purchase of reactor technology from North Korea. It could also have expected to benefit from the reactor's production of plutonium.

Indeed, Iran had much the same incentive as North Korea to hide its nuclear activities from international scrutiny. What better way to conceal proscribed work from inspectors in North Korea or Iran than to build facilities in Syria?

Iran and North Korea already have a history of cooperation in ballistic missiles – the delivery system which, if perfected, could give their weapons global reach. After the North declared a moratorium on launch testing from the Korean Peninsula in 1999, it simply ramped up cooperation with Iran's aggressive missile research and development program.

The North thus continued to benefit from launch-testing data, prior to breaking its moratorium on July 4, 2006, while also scoring a propaganda victory among the clueless for its apparent renunciation of provocative behavior in Northeast Asia. Outsourcing weapons programs is nothing new for Pyongyang.

Although our intelligence community stated publicly that the Syrian reactor was a cash transaction, its congressional briefings contained little or no supporting evidence that this was so. This is unsurprising. The Israeli raid was based on the hard physical evidence seen on the banks of the Euphrates River, not on scrutiny of documents embodying the deal.

Some friendly advice to our intelligence services: Think joint venture. Think asset diversification.

Hypothetically, what if the deal had North Korea getting a third of the plutonium produced by the Euphrates reactor, Iran a third, and Syria a third? The North benefits by maintaining open access to a plutonium supply even if Yongbyon remains frozen. Iran gets experience in reactor technologies immune from IAEA scrutiny. And Syria takes a major step toward undisclosed nuclear capabilities. Win-win-win, as that entrepreneurial proliferator A.Q. Khan might have said.

Here is the real problem. North Korean nuclear proliferation is quite likely more than a series of one-time transactions that create problems elsewhere in the world. It may very well be integral to its own nuclear weapons program.

The Bush administration can wish away these possibilities and still achieve its deal. But it cannot wish away the underlying reality, the full scope of which we simply do not know. That reality, whatever its reach, will still be there to haunt President Bush's successor and threaten international peace.

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" (Simon & Schuster/Threshold Editions, 2007).

See all of today's editorials and op-eds,
24093  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: May 07, 2008, 10:23:26 PM
Article of Ayers, including recent foto of him standing on US flag:

http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/August-2001/No-Regrets/
24094  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: sean sherk vs. bj penn on: May 07, 2008, 07:10:27 PM
BJ's separatist BS for Hawaii irks me  angry angry angry
24095  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michael Yon's book!!! on: May 07, 2008, 01:45:21 PM
I have just ordered this book and recommend it most highly.

http://www.amazon.com/review/product/0980076323/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?%5Fencoding=UTF8&showViewpoints=1
24096  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Soak the Rich on: May 07, 2008, 01:07:34 PM
from a US newspaper (1936)…


Soak the Rich

Father, must I go to work?
No! No! my darling son,
We’re living now on Easy Street
With funds from Washington

We're cared for now by Uncle Sam,
So don't get exercised;
We do not need to care a damn
Because we're subsidized.

But, dad, if he's going to treat us well
and give us all milk and honey,
Please tell me truly, where the hell
He's going to get the money?

Don't worry, child, there is no hitch
about this glorious plan --
He'll get the money from the rich
To help the common man.

But, dad, won't there come a time
if we take all their cash
and they are left without a dime,
when things will go to smash?

Son, you need a lot of seasoning,
you nosey little brat,
you do too damn much reasoning
to be a Democrat.
==================

I Want to be a Consumer
 
"And what do you mean to be?"
The kind old Bishop said
As he took the boy on his ample knee
And patted his curly head.
"We should all of us choose a calling
To help Society's plan;
Then what do you mean to be, my boy,
When you grow to be a man?"
 
"I want to be a Consumer,"
The bright-haired lad replied
As he gazed up into the Bishop's face
In innocence open-eyed.
"I've never had aims of a selfish sort,
For that, as I know, is wrong.
I want to be a Consumer, Sir,
And help the world along.
 
"I want to be a consumer
And work both night and day,
For that is the thing that's needed most,
I've heard Economists say,
I won't just be a Producer,
Like Bobby and James and John;
I want to be a Consumer, Sir,
And help the nation on."
 
"But what do you want to be?"
The Bishop said again,
"For we all of us have to work," said he,
"As must, I think, be plain.
Are you thinking of studying medicine
Or taking a Bar exam?"
"Why, no!" the bright-haired lad replied
As he helped himself to jam.
 
"I want to be a Consumer
And live in a useful way;
For that is the thing that's need most,
I've heard Economists say.
There are too many people working
And too many things are made.
I want to be a Consumer, Sir,
And help to further Trade.
 
"I want to be a Consumer
And do my duty well;
For that is the thing that's needed most,
I've heard Economists tell.
I've made up my mind," the lad was heard,
As he lit a cigar, to say;
"I want to be a Consumer, Sir,
And I want to begin today."


24097  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine on: May 07, 2008, 12:01:32 PM
Could this tragedy have been avoided if someone knew to slam on a tourniquet?
============

Sergeant's Last Words: 'Tell My Wife I'll Miss Her'
5637 Views 260 Comments Share Flag as inappropriate 
Officer in New Jersey search for the only suspect still at large. (AP)
Philadelphia Inquirer

May 06, 2008

PHILADELPHIA – Nancy Braun was sitting on a couch watching one of her favorite TV shows, Trading Spaces, when gunfire erupted down the street yesterday morning.

“I heard three shots – real loud,” Braun said from a rocking chair on the front porch of her Schiller Street rowhouse. “Then a lady started screaming, ‘A police officer’s been shot!’ “

Braun and her boyfriend, Joe Czarnik, both 43, bolted out of the house and ran to Schiller and Almond Streets, she said. She was not wearing shoes at the time, she said, and ran in her socks.

In the street next to a compact police cruiser, Braun said, she saw Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski. Others were trying to apply pressure to his stomach and an arm.

Keith Petaccio, 45, was at his front door greeting his wife as she came back after walking their dogs.

A police cruiser “flew by,” and Petaccio stepped outside to see what was going on just as the gunfire started, he said. He said he had run to Liczbinski.

Throughout the block as noon approached, chaos ensued.

A woman spun around yelling that a man had put a gun to her head and threatened to kill her. People young and old poured out of houses and onto their porches. One man chased the shooter’s stolen Jeep as it bolted south on Almond Street. Others called 911 on cell phones.

An older man nearby had taken the fallen officer’s radio and was saying, “A police officer is down. He’s shot multiple times. Get an ambulance,” Braun said.

Braun yelled at another neighbor for towels to try to stop the gushing blood. She grabbed four kitchen towels and gave them to those trying to stop the bleeding, she said.

A neighbor tying to help Liczbinski looked up at Braun and said, “His arm is just dangling off.”

Petaccio said he had stayed with Liczbinski talking to him as he tried to save his life.

He said Liczbinski had looked at him and said, “I want you to tell my wife I’ll miss her.”

Joe Farrell was cooking breakfast for his children, he said, when he heard the shots feet from his porch. He yelled at the children to get down on the floor and ran out the door to help.

“They were holding rags on him trying to stop the blood from pumping out,” Farrell said. He said he had helped get Liczbinski into the back of a police car.

Minutes later, swarms of police and detectives arrived. They quickly strung yellow police tape for blocks around the intersection.

“I feel bad for the family and the police,” Braun said. “What they have to go through today, it’s horrible.”

Petaccio said that on Saturdays the neighborhood streets were usually filled with children playing. Yesterday few people were outside when the drama began.

“My heart goes out to his family,” Petaccio said. “I can’t believe it happened.”

Many of the porches in the neighborhood have colorful flowers hanging in baskets or in pots.

By 6 p.m., when most police cars had left and the police tape had been collected, some had placed flowerpots at the curb where Liczbinski fell.

(c) 2008 YellowBrix, Inc.
24098  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tell my wife I'll miss her on: May 07, 2008, 11:58:53 AM
Sergeant's Last Words: 'Tell My Wife I'll Miss Her'
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Officer in New Jersey search for the only suspect still at large. (AP)
Philadelphia Inquirer

May 06, 2008

PHILADELPHIA – Nancy Braun was sitting on a couch watching one of her favorite TV shows, Trading Spaces, when gunfire erupted down the street yesterday morning.

“I heard three shots – real loud,” Braun said from a rocking chair on the front porch of her Schiller Street rowhouse. “Then a lady started screaming, ‘A police officer’s been shot!’ “

Braun and her boyfriend, Joe Czarnik, both 43, bolted out of the house and ran to Schiller and Almond Streets, she said. She was not wearing shoes at the time, she said, and ran in her socks.

In the street next to a compact police cruiser, Braun said, she saw Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski. Others were trying to apply pressure to his stomach and an arm.

Keith Petaccio, 45, was at his front door greeting his wife as she came back after walking their dogs.

A police cruiser “flew by,” and Petaccio stepped outside to see what was going on just as the gunfire started, he said. He said he had run to Liczbinski.

Throughout the block as noon approached, chaos ensued.

A woman spun around yelling that a man had put a gun to her head and threatened to kill her. People young and old poured out of houses and onto their porches. One man chased the shooter’s stolen Jeep as it bolted south on Almond Street. Others called 911 on cell phones.

An older man nearby had taken the fallen officer’s radio and was saying, “A police officer is down. He’s shot multiple times. Get an ambulance,” Braun said.

Braun yelled at another neighbor for towels to try to stop the gushing blood. She grabbed four kitchen towels and gave them to those trying to stop the bleeding, she said.

A neighbor tying to help Liczbinski looked up at Braun and said, “His arm is just dangling off.”

Petaccio said he had stayed with Liczbinski talking to him as he tried to save his life.

He said Liczbinski had looked at him and said, “I want you to tell my wife I’ll miss her.”

Joe Farrell was cooking breakfast for his children, he said, when he heard the shots feet from his porch. He yelled at the children to get down on the floor and ran out the door to help.

“They were holding rags on him trying to stop the blood from pumping out,” Farrell said. He said he had helped get Liczbinski into the back of a police car.

Minutes later, swarms of police and detectives arrived. They quickly strung yellow police tape for blocks around the intersection.

“I feel bad for the family and the police,” Braun said. “What they have to go through today, it’s horrible.”

Petaccio said that on Saturdays the neighborhood streets were usually filled with children playing. Yesterday few people were outside when the drama began.

“My heart goes out to his family,” Petaccio said. “I can’t believe it happened.”

Many of the porches in the neighborhood have colorful flowers hanging in baskets or in pots.

By 6 p.m., when most police cars had left and the police tape had been collected, some had placed flowerpots at the curb where Liczbinski fell.

(c) 2008 YellowBrix, Inc.
24099  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Closest allies on: May 07, 2008, 11:33:29 AM
Israel Is Now America's Closest Ally
By MICHAEL B. OREN
May 7, 2008

President George W. Bush will soon make his second visit to Israel in less than six months, this time to celebrate the country's 60th anniversary. The candidates for the presidency, Republican and Democratic alike, have all traveled to Israel and affirmed their commitment to its security. So have hundreds of congressmen.

American engineers, meanwhile, are collaborating with their Israeli counterparts in developing advanced defense systems. American soldiers are learning antiterrorist techniques from the Israeli army.

 
Corbis 
John McCain visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem, March 2008.
Israel is the only Middle Eastern country where the American flag is rarely (if ever) burned in protest – indeed, some Israelis fly that flag on their own independence day. And avenues in major American cities are named for Yitzhak Rabin and Golda Meir. Arguably, there is no alliance in the world today more durable and multifaceted than that between the United States and Israel.

Yet the bonds between the two countries were not always so strong. For much of Israel's history, America was a distant and not always friendly power.

Consider the period before Israel's founding in 1948, during the British Mandate over Palestine. Though many Americans, Christians as well as Jews, were committed to building the Jewish national home, their government's policy was strictly hands-off. Palestine, in Washington's view, was exclusively Britain's concern, and the Arab-Jewish conflict was a British headache.

Accordingly, the Roosevelt administration raised no objection to Britain's 1939 decision to end Jewish immigration into Palestine, sealing off European Jewry's last escape route from Nazism. The U.S. indifference to Zionism deepened during World War II, when America feared alienating its British allies and angering the Arabs, whose oil had become vital to the war effort. Deferring to British and Arab demands, America confined hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors in displaced-persons camps in Europe rather than let them emigrate to Palestine.

America's ambivalence toward Zionism persisted after the war, as the battle against Nazism gave way to the anticommunist struggle. While a sizeable majority of Americans welcomed Israel's creation in May 1948, policy makers in Washington feared that such support would trigger an Arab oil boycott of the West and the Soviet take-over of Europe. Secretary of State George Marshall even warned the president, Harry Truman, that he would not back him for re-election if he recognized the newborn state. An ardent Baptist whose best friend was a Jew, Truman ignored these warnings and made the U.S. the first nation to accord de facto recognition to Israel. But buckling to State and Defense Department pressures, Truman also imposed an arms embargo on Israel during its desperate war of independence. Later, he arm-twisted Israeli leaders to relinquish land to the Arabs and to readmit Palestinian refugees.

Pressure for territorial concessions escalated under Truman's successor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who also vetoed weapons sales to Israel. His secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, dismissed Israel as "the millstone around our necks," and threatened it with sanctions during the 1956 Suez Crisis. Israel is home to the Middle East's largest memorial to John F. Kennedy, but Kennedy similarly refused to sell tanks and planes to Israel, and warned that America's relationship with the Jewish state would be "seriously jeopardized" by Israel's nuclear program. Lyndon B. Johnson was the first president to invite an Israeli prime minister, Levi Eshkol, to Washington – 16 years after Israel's birth – but he then balked at Eshkol's request for American help against the Arab armies assembling for war in June 1967. "Israel will not be alone unless it decides to go it alone," Johnson replied, implying that the U.S. would not stand beside Israel militarily.

The Six-Day War nevertheless inaugurated a dramatic change in America's attitude toward Israel. Israel's astonishing victory in that conflict instantly transformed the "millstone" into an American asset, a hardy fellow democracy and Cold War ally. Nixon regarded Israel as "the best Soviet stopper in the Mideast," and furnished the weaponry Israel needed to prevail in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter both ran on platforms highly favorable to Israel, and dedicated themselves to the search for Israel-Arab peace. By the end of the 1970s, an inchoate U.S.-Israeli alliance had emerged, sealed by the existence of a potent pro-Israel lobby in Washington and the extension to Israel of billions of dollars of American aid.

But the relationship was hardly friction-free. Israel's reluctance to forfeit territories captured in 1967, and its efforts to settle them, became a perennial source of tension. Presidents Ford and Carter threatened to withhold assistance from Israel unless it made territorial concessions. President George H.W. Bush denied Israel loan guarantees for resettling Russian immigrants in the West Bank. Israel's security policies also jolted the alliance – Ronald Reagan condemned Israel's bombardment of the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 as well as its siege of Beirut the following year. Americans, in turn, irritated the Israelis with their transfer of sophisticated weapons to Saudi Arabia and their opposition to Israeli arms sales to China.

Such rifts have grown increasingly infrequent, however, and today there are few visible fissures in the U.S.-Israeli front. Yet America has never recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital – imagine if Israel refused to recognize Washington. Powerful interest groups lobby against Israel in Washington while much of American academia and influential segments of the media are staunchly opposed to any association with Israel.

How does the alliance surmount these challenges?

One reason, certainly, is values – the respect for civic rights and the rule of law that is shared by the world's most powerful republic and the Middle East's only stable democracy. There is also Israel's determination to fight terror, and its willingness to share its antiterror expertise. Most fundamentally, though, is the amity between the two countries' peoples. The admiration which the U.S. inspires among Israelis is overwhelmingly reciprocated by Americans, more than 70% of whom, according to recent polls, favor robust ties with the Jewish state.

No doubt further upheavals await the alliance in the future – as Iran approaches nuclear capability, for example. Israel may act more muscularly than some American leaders might warrant. The impending change of U.S. administration will also have an effect. But such vicissitudes are unlikely to cause a major schism in what has proven to be one of history's most resilient, ardent and atypical partnerships.

Mr. Oren, a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, is the author of "Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present," now available in paperback from Norton.
24100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Georgia on Russia on: May 07, 2008, 11:32:33 AM
A Georgian Cabinet minister said on Tuesday that his country is very close to war with Russia over Abkhazia, a region in Georgia’s northwest that wants to secede formally from Georgia. A leader of the Abkhazian movement, its foreign minister, said that Abkhazia was ready to hand over military control to the Russians. The Russians are, of course, already in Abkhazia, and announced last week that they have been doubling the number of troops they have there, something the Georgians claim is aggression against Georgia. The Russians claimed that the Georgians were the ones massing troops along the Georgian-Abkhaz border. The White House issued a statement saying that “The Russian government has taken what we would call provocative actions which have increased tensions with Georgia over its separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” another breakaway region.

There are three factors driving all of this. First, there is Kosovo. When the United States and Europe imposed — from the Russian point of view — independence on Kosovo, in defiance of Serb or Russian wishes, it was clear that the Russians would have to respond. When they declined to respond in Kosovo itself, their next option was to extend the Kosovo precedent to an area where it would involve an American ally. Georgia was an obvious choice. Like Kosovo, it has regions that want to be independent from a relatively small country. By supporting this process, the Russians impose a quid pro quo on the United States in particular.

Second, during the NATO summit, the United States came out in favor of NATO membership for Georgia (and for Ukraine as well). The Russians took this as both an intentional affront and a threat to their national security. The idea of NATO troops present in Georgia, in an area that Russia considers to be part of its sphere of influence, was unacceptable. It was also something that the Russians had to react to, first for symbolic reasons and second because if the U.S. were to pull off NATO membership at some later point, it would be a serious problem for Russia. The Russians needed to act now, not later.

Third, Russia is, as we have said before, in the process of using the window of opportunity presented by the American commitment to the Islamic world, to assert their sphere of influence. The Caucasus, where Georgia is located, is an area of fundamental importance to the Russians. Georgia is their major challenge in the region and therefore it is the one they need to confront. Moreover, if the Russians manage to solve their Georgian problem, they will have changed the rules of the game in other regions, such as Ukraine. Other countries in the former Soviet space will be much more cautious in their flirtations with the Americans, if the Russians can lean on Georgia with nothing more than a protest from Washington.

This does not mean that war is likely. Unless the Georgians are suicidal, they are not going to fight the Russians. This is 2008, not 1998, and the Russians have the means both to bolster forces as needed and to overwhelm the Georgians. On the other hand, it is unlikely that the Russians want to invade Georgia. It is rugged country and resistance could be fierce, particularly against an occupying force.

The Russians are deliberately intimidating the Georgians and the Georgians are talking up war in the hope of getting help from the West. Unless the French or Germans feel like intervening in force — assuming they can — the United States won’t. It does not need another war on its hands. The Russians are hoping to build a sense of isolation and embattlement among the Georgians, in the hope of forcing a very public capitulation from an American ally.

This is a very important crisis in an important part of the world. It represents a direct challenge by Russia to an American ally and how it ends can define broader relationships on the Russian periphery. The Russian build-up is no accident and the Georgian warnings are not really true but not frivolous either. They are in trouble and they know it. One option the Americans have is to place a small number of troops in Georgia to bolster Georgian morale and serve as a warning to the Russians. That in turn assumes that such a presence won’t be the final straw for the Russians, who outgun any American force that can be deployed.

There are only two reasons why Russia would not seize this opportunity. One, they are even more hampered by their internal clan war than they are letting on. Or two, even now — even when the U.S. tied down in Iraq — they fear that the U.S. retains the military capability to defeat a Russian incursion. The last may seem ridiculous, but remember that the U.S. position during the Cold War was essentially predicated on the nuclear bluff (a much more powerful Moscow has fallen for that before.)

With that said, the one possibility we find unlikely is Russia simply backing off. After Kosovo, they simply cannot afford to do that. We expect that the situation will be solved through negotiations, and expect that both Abkhazia and South Ossetia will wind up seceding formally as well as practically. The question is whether the Russians will be content with that or whether they want regime change in Georgia as well.
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