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24201  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: April 23, 2008, 12:13:58 PM


Keystone for McCain

Pennsylvania delivered a 10-point win for Hillary Clinton last night, the same margin by which she carried demographically similar Ohio last month. Since the two states together are vital to Democratic chances in the fall, their primary results provide an important window on how Mrs. Clinton and Barack Obama are faring with key voter groups after the events of the last seven weeks.

The circumstantial evidence is that Mr. Obama lost ground among those "bitter" rural voters he described in his infamous San Francisco comments as likely to "cling" to religion and guns.

Mr. Obama lost weekly churchgoers (who made up over a third of Pennsylvania voters) by a clear 58% to 42% margin. In Ohio last month, weekly churchgoers voted 51% to 49% for Mrs. Clinton. Catholics, a conservative social group in both states, gave Mr. Obama only 31% of their votes in Pennsylvania and only 37% in Ohio. No numbers are available for gun owners in Ohio, but in Pennsylvania gun owners turned thumbs down on Mr. Obama by 62% to 38%.

All in all, only 63% of Pennsylvania Democratic voters told exit pollsters they would be satisfied if Mr. Obama won the nomination, down from 66% who said the same thing in Ohio. This translates into an opportunity for John McCain. Ten percent of Democrats said they would sit on their hands in a McCain-Obama race, and 15% said they would vote for McCain over the Illinois senator. That's a significantly higher "grumble factor" than in a possible McCain-Clinton race, in which 6% of those voting said they would stay home and 11% said they would vote for Mr. McCain over Mrs. Clinton.

Given that Pennsylvania voted for John Kerry over George W. Bush by barely two points in 2004, the exit polls in last night's Democratic primary are an open invitation for Mr. McCain to spend lots of time and money in the state.

-- John Fund

Bubbas Off the Reservation?

In another sign that this November may be a rough one for Republican House candidates, the GOP came within a few hundred votes of losing one of its strongest districts in the Deep South in a special election yesterday.

Voters in Mississippi's 1st District, centered around Tupelo, almost committed the unlikely act of electing Democrat Travis Childers last night. He won 49% of the vote against 47% for Republican Greg Davis, who may have only been saved by a smattering of votes awarded to a handful of candidates who had dropped out or belong to minor parties. The two men will now face off in a May 13 runoff.

What worries Republicans is that based on the district's national voting patterns, the race shouldn't even have been close. The 1st District gave George W. Bush a crushing 62% of its votes in 2004, and GOP Governor Haley Barbour has carried it easily in two elections.

The Republican Congressional campaign committee has already spent $300,000 in a district that should have been a free win. Even more precious resources will now have to be poured in to try to prevent a Democratic runoff victory next month. All in all, Republicans are coming to realize just how dispirited their ranks are right now and how important it is for John McCain to gear up a strong campaign that will energize them.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"'Why can't he close the deal?' Hillary taunted at a polling place on Tuesday. She's been running ads about it, suggesting [opponent Barack Obama] doesn't have 'what it takes' to run the country. Her message is unapologetically emasculating: If he does not have the gumption to put me in my place, when superdelegates are deserting me, money is drying up, he's outspending me 2-to-1 on TV ads, my husband's going crackers and party leaders are sick of me, how can he be trusted to totally obliterate Iran and stop Osama?" -- New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, on Hillary Clinton's Pennsylvania victory.

China Seeks Return to Maoist Isolation

HONG KONG -- There's a new fight brewing over the Olympics, but it has nothing to do with Darfur or Tibet. It has to do with easy visas for business-class visitors who are used to painless shuttling back and forth across the border from Hong Kong.

The latest Olympics-related kerfuffle is burning just as bright as the torch protests. Earlier this month -- with nary a warning -- China's foreign ministry stopped the long tradition of issuing multiple-entry visas to the mainland, which once made it convenient for the many thousands who routinely go back and forth. Anyone who wants a single entry visa now has to have a return ticket and a hotel voucher. The local Chinese visa agency suddenly has a daily "quota," and once that's filled, you're out of luck. The morning line outside the China visa office now stretches around the block.

Naturally the suspicion is that China wants to block activists from using Hong Kong to enter the country. "Businesspeople need stability to operate and the Hong Kong business community has been thrown into great turmoil as a result of the new and largely misunderstood visa policies," complained U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief Richard Vuylsteke in a letter to the Foreign Ministry. The Aussies were more Confucian, calling for "patience" and "negotiation." The Brits are just confused.

Beijing is playing dumb. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims there's "no change" to procedures, while its Web site is silent, too. Meanwhile, business across the world's busiest border is slowing down perceptibly. How ironic if the Olympic games -- meant to symbolize China's emergence -- lead to a paranoid lockdown of China's No. 1 window on the world.

24202  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Defame Islam? on: April 23, 2008, 11:05:11 AM

http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/020442.php
24203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dowd fusses on: April 23, 2008, 09:04:45 AM
Arch liberal cheesy Maureen Dowd fusses and fulminates cheesy

Wilting Over Waffles
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By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: April 23, 2008
He’s never going to shake her off.

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Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Maureen Dowd

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Go to Columnist Page »Not all by himself.

The very fact that he can’t shake her off has become her best argument against him. “Why can’t he close the deal?” Hillary taunted at a polling place on Tuesday.

She’s been running ads about it, suggesting he doesn’t have “what it takes” to run the country. Her message is unapologetically emasculating: If he does not have the gumption to put me in my place, when superdelegates are deserting me, money is drying up, he’s outspending me 2-to-1 on TV ads, my husband’s going crackers and party leaders are sick of me, how can he be trusted to totally obliterate Iran and stop Osama?

Now that Hillary has won Pennsylvania, it will take a village to help Obama escape from the suffocating embrace of his rival. Certainly Howard Dean will be of no use steering her to the exit. It’s like Micronesia telling Russia to denuke.

“You know, some people counted me out and said to drop out,” said a glowing Hillary at her Philadelphia victory party, with Bill and Chelsea by her side. “Well, the American people don’t quit. And they deserve a president who doesn’t quit, either.”

The Democrats are growing ever more desperate about the Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. With gas prices out of control, with the comically oblivious President Bush shimmying around New Orleans — the city he let drown — and Condi sneaking into Baghdad as rockets and mortars hail down on the Green Zone, beating the Republicans should be a cinch.

But the Democrats watch in horror as Hillary continues to scratch up the once silvery sheen on Obama, and as John McCain not only consolidates his own party but encroaches on theirs by boldly venturing into Selma, Ala., on Monday to woo black voters.

They also cringe as Bill continues his honey-crusted-nut-bar meltdown. With his usual exquisite timing, just as Pennsylvanians were about to vote, Hillary’s husband became the first person ever to play the Caucasian Card. First, he blurted out to a radio interviewer that the Obama camp had played the race card against him after he compared Obama’s strength in South Carolina to Jesse Jackson’s. And then, with a Brobdingnagian finger-wagging on the screen, he denied it to an NBC News reporter.

“You always follow me around and play these little games, and I’m not going to play your games today,” he said, accusing the reporter of looking for “another cheap story to divert the American people from the real urgent issues before us.”

If there’s one person who knows about crass diversions, it’s Bill. But even for him, it was an embarrassing explosion, capped with some blue language to an aide that was caught on air.

The Democrats are eager to move on to an Obama-McCain race. But they can’t because no one seems to be able to show Hillary the door. Despite all his incandescent gifts, Obama has missed several opportunities to smash the ball over the net and end the game. Again and again, he has seemed stuck at deuce. He complains about the politics of scoring points, but to win, you’ve got to score points.

He knew he tanked in the Philadelphia debate, but he was so irritated by the moderators — and by having to stand next to Hillary again — that he couldn’t summon a single merry dart.

Is he skittish around her because he knows that she detests him and he’s used to charming everyone? Or does he feel guilty that he cut in line ahead of her? As the husband of Michelle, does he know better than to defy the will of a strong woman? Or is he simply scared of Hillary because she’s scary?

He is frantic to get away from her because he can’t keep carbo-loading to relate to the common people.

In the final days in Pennsylvania, he dutifully logged time at diners and force-fed himself waffles, pancakes, sausage and a Philly cheese steak. He split the pancakes with Michelle, left some of the waffle and sausage behind, and gave away the French fries that came with the cheese steak.

But this is clearly a man who can’t wait to get back to his organic scrambled egg whites. That was made plain with his cri de coeur at the Glider Diner in Scranton when a reporter asked him about Jimmy Carter and Hamas.

“Why” he pleaded, sounding a bit, dare we say, bitter, “can’t I just eat my waffle?”

His subtext was obvious: Why can’t I just be president? Why do I have to keep eating these gooey waffles and answering these gotcha questions and debating this gonzo woman?

Before they devour themselves once more, perhaps the Democrats will take a cue from Dr. Seuss’s “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!” (The writer once mischievously redid it for his friend Art Buchwald as “Richard M. Nixon Will You Please Go Now!”) They could sing:

“The time has come. The time has come. The time is now. Just go. ... I don’t care how. You can go by foot. You can go by cow. Hillary R. Clinton, will you please go now! You can go on skates. You can go on skis. ... You can go in an old blue shoe.

Just go, go, GO!”
24204  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Afghanistan's Army on: April 23, 2008, 08:58:15 AM
By BRET STEPHENS   


 
 • Afghans Build an Army, and a Nation

ABOUT BRET STEPHENS

 
Bret Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. He joined the Journal in New York in 1998 as a features editor and moved to Brussels the following year to work as an editorial writer for the paper's European edition. In 2002, Mr. Stephens, then 28, became editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, where he was responsible for its news, editorial, electronic and international divisions, and where he also wrote a weekly column. He returned to his present position in late 2004 and was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum the following year.

Mr. Stephens was raised in Mexico City and educated at the University of Chicago and the London School of Economics. He lives with his family in New York City. He invites comments to bstephens@wsj.com 
Afghans Build an Army, and a Nation
April 22, 2008; Page A23
Kabul, Afghanistan

From a hard and arid plain about a 30-minute drive out of downtown Kabul, a squad of Afghan soldiers is mounting an attack on a small rise to the south. Three soldiers lie flat on their stomachs, providing covering fire as four of their comrades rush forward, Kalashnikovs in hand. Shots are fired, startling a visiting columnist.

"Um, they're blanks," explains Lt. Col. Paul Fanning. "Live-fire exercises take place behind that hill over there," he adds, pointing north.

 
Lt. Col. Paul Fanning, US Army 
Afghan army recruits in basic training at the Kabul Military Training Center, April 21, 2008.
Lt. Col. Fanning, of the New York National Guard, has recently deployed to nearby Camp Alamo to help train the Afghan National Army. Adjacent to the camp is the rehabilitated Kabul Military Training Center (KMTC), whose principal ornament is a Soviet T-55 tank chassis mounted with a T-62 turret. In the past six years, more than 70,000 recruits have spent 10 weeks or more learning the basics of soldiering. Of that number, about a third trained here in the last year alone.

I came to Afghanistan with the idea that the key to building a nation is building its army. Militaries attract young men who otherwise would have remained strangers, if not enemies, and might well have joined militias or criminal gangs. Militaries instill discipline, purpose, patriotism, values and the brotherhood of the foxhole. Militaries create their own middle class: The salary of an Afghan private, at $1,300 a year, may seem minuscule but is twice the Afghan average. And militaries get soldiers to fight a common enemy, instead of each other.

That point is not lost at the KMTC, whose motto, "Unity Starts Here," is inscribed in large letters over the entrance gate. On the field, about 100 recruits sit on the clay earth waiting their turn to "take the hill." The faces are Uzbek, Hazara, Tajik, Pashtun; a mixture that is nearly as racially and ethnically diverse as what you'll find in the U.S. military. Dari and Pashto are spoken interchangeably, but the army being forged here is a genuinely national one.

 
Lt. Col. Paul Fanning, US Army 
It is also one that's willing to fight. "The Afghan soldiers are a lot tougher than the Iraqis," says Lt. James Harryman, one of the British trainers on site. "This is a warrior culture." Between March 1, 2007, and March 30, 2008, some 370 Afghan soldiers were killed in Afghanistan – by comparison, U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan numbered 117; British fatalities, 43; Canadian fatalities, 36. Still, Afghan soldiers routinely express shame that foreigners are doing the work of dying for their country. That job, they insist, is one they want for themselves.

"I want to protect my country from terrorists who call themselves Taliban," says Said Ismail, a 21-year-old recruit from Mazar-i-Sharif. "These people call themselves Muslims but they are killing Muslims." Three of his buddies gather around, nodding agreement.

This isn't to say the Afghan Army is problem-free. Lt. Harryman complains about an ingrained culture of soldiers not wanting to "get into trouble" by taking responsibility for their decisions. Afghan officers and NCOs are in the habit of seeking the consent of their soldiers before undertaking operations. The army still lacks some of the most basic logistical and command-and-control skills.

But many of the Afghan army's problems are a function of NATO's neglect. France was supposed to have taken the lead in training the army – a role it abandoned in 2003. Ditto for the Germans and the Afghan police.

Nor has the U.S. been blameless. The Afghans are only now getting their first sizeable shipments of M-16 rifles and up-armored Humvees. There was no Afghan air force to speak of until this year. That's now being remedied by the acquisition of some Russian-made Mi-17 and Mi-35 cargo and attack helicopters, along with some medium-sized prop planes. None of the American officers I interviewed can offer a clear explanation for the delays, though the likely answer is that a sense of urgency about Afghanistan's security situation only came about after it became a news story early last year.

Then again, that precariousness has been somewhat exaggerated. "A year ago people were talking about the Taliban taking Kandahar and isolating Kabul," says Maj. Gen. Robert Cone. It didn't happen. Neither has the Taliban's fabled "spring offensive," which should be happening right around now but isn't.

How much of this can be attributed to the Afghan army, how much to NATO operations, how much to Taliban weakness, and how much to luck and circumstance is anyone's guess. What is clear is that Afghanistan really does have an army that's willing to stand up for its country – and, as a result, a country that is prepared to stand by their army. All this bodes well for Kabul. And once the dust settles in Basra, we might begin to say the same about Iraq and its army, too.

Write to bstephens@wsj.com
 
24205  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Stickfighting on ESPN TV April 22 on: April 23, 2008, 08:44:43 AM
Thank you!
24206  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Deputy Tased, Hogtied, Paraded Through Town on: April 23, 2008, 08:40:45 AM


http://www.policelink.com/news/18269-deputy-tased-hogtied-paraded-through-town?referral=pl_nlet

ROCKLAND, Maine — The Attorney General’s Office is investigating an incident in which a Knox County deputy sheriff was shocked with a Taser, hogtied and paraded around downtown Camden in the back of a pickup truck last summer.

“I can confirm that we are reviewing it for Sheriff [Donna] Dennison,” said Brian MacMaster, chief of the Investigation Division for the Office of Attorney General. “Beyond that, I can’t comment.

“We don’t comment on any of our investigations,” MacMaster added.

The weekly newspaper Village Soup obtained a video that shows approximately 10 men outdoors at what is believed to be a bachelor party when the Taser is used. The groom-to-be drops to the ground and the other men bind him before covering him with oil and feathers.

Dennison said the Taser didn’t come from the Sheriff’s Department. The agency doesn’t have any Tasers.

Interim County Administrator Jeffrey Northgraves said Monday that he, Dennison, Knox County Commissioners Mason Johnson and Anne Beebe-Center, jail administrator Maj. John Hinkley and Chief Deputy Ernest McIntosh were invited to the Village Soup office in Rockland on Thursday, April 10, to watch the video before it was released to the public.

“It was the first time any of us had seen it,” Northgraves said. “We didn’t think to ask how Village Soup acquired the video.”

Commissioner Johnson on Monday called the tape an “eye-opener.”

“The only comment I can make is that it was just a total surprise,” Johnson said. “I hardly even knew about the Taser in itself.

“I saw the film and saw how the fellow went down when they pulled the trigger,” he said. “It’s kind of scary. I don’t think it’s a device that would be used in any kind of formal party to celebrate any event with anybody.”

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Johnson said the Taser should be used only in an emergency “to catch somebody.”

“That’s not a plaything, in my opinion,” Johnson said of the Taser.

He added that the party was something officials would have to “frown at, for safety and other reasons.”

Johnson said he understood that the deputy who was involved in the bachelor party is now working as a Maine state trooper.

According to an earlier Bangor Daily News story, a Taser is a powerful weapon that can fire 50,000 volts of electricity into a criminal. The Taser, an acronym for “Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle,” named after the fictional teenage inventor and adventure character Tom Swift, is aimed with a red laser beam that fires two probes a distance of up to 21 feet from a replaceable cartridge.

More than 60 public safety agencies in Maine have Tasers, but their use is somewhat controversial to some who think it is a violent overreaction.

Amnesty International, a worldwide human rights group, has reviewed the cases of 152 people who have died in the United States after being shocked by a Taser. The organization has called for suspension of the use of Tasers and urged further studies of their effectiveness.

(c) 2008 YellowBrix, Inc.
24207  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton on: April 23, 2008, 07:28:27 AM

"It seems to have been reserved to the people of this country,
by their conduct and example, to decide the important question,
whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing
good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are
forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on
accident and force. If there be any truth in the remark, the
crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded
as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong
election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to
be considered as the general misfortune of mankind."

-- Alexander Hamilton (Federalist No. 1, 27 October 1787)

Reference: Hamilton, Federalist No. 1.
24208  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Canton OH 7/12-13 on: April 22, 2008, 05:00:08 PM
Some paperwork is being processed and when it is we will have the contact info.  In the meantime I will notify Officer Clouse of your interest here.
24209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AQ feuds with Iran on: April 22, 2008, 01:48:33 PM
Al-Qaida No. 2 says 9/11 theory propagated by Iran

By MAGGIE MICHAEL, Associated Press Writer2 hours, 48 minutes ago


Osama bin Laden's chief deputy in an audiotape Tuesday accused Shiite Iran of trying to discredit the Sunni al-Qaida terror network by spreading the conspiracy theory that Israel was behind the Sept. 11 attacks.
The comments reflected al-Qaida's No. 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahri's increasing criticism of Iran. Al-Zawahri has accused Iran in recent messages of seeking to extend its power in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and through its Hezbollah allies in Lebanon.

The authenticity of the two-hour audio recording posted on an Islamic Web site could not be independently confirmed. But the voice sounded like past audiotapes from the terror leader, and the posting where it was found bore the logo of Al-Sahab, al-Qaida's official media arm.
It was the second of two messages answering questions that were posted to Islamic militant Web sites earlier this year.

One of the questioners asked about the theory that has circulated in the Middle East and elsewhere that Israel was behind the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Al-Zawahri accused Hezbollah's Al-Manar television of starting the rumor.
"The purpose of this lie is clear — (to suggest) that there are no heroes among the Sunnis who can hurt America as no else did in history. Iranian media snapped up this lie and repeated it," he said.
"Iran's aim here is also clear — to cover up its involvement with America in invading the homes of Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq," he said.
Iran cooperated with the United States in the 2001 U.S. assault on Afghanistan that toppled al-Qaida's allies, the Taliban.
Answering questions about Iraq in Tuesday's tape, al-Zawahri said the insurgent umbrella group led by al-Qaida, called the Islamic State of Iraq, is "the primary force opposing the Crusaders and challenging Iranian ambitions" in Iraq, he said, referring to the Americans.
As he often does in his messages, al-Zawahri denounced the "Crusader invasion" of Iraq, but in Tuesday's tape he paired it with a mention of "Iranian complicity" or "Iranian agents."

In the latest tape, al-Zawahri was also asked if the terror group had further plans to attack Western countries that participated in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and subsequent war.
"My answer is: Yes! We think that any country that has joined aggression on Muslims must be deterred," he replied.
In response to a question signed by the Japanese news agency Kyodo asking if Japan remains a target because it once had troops in Iraq, al-Zawahri said "Japan provided help under the banner of the crusader coalition ... therefore it participated in the Crusader campaign against the lands of Islam."
Japan deployed non-combat troops to southern Iraq in 2003 to carry out reconstruction work. It withdrew its troops from Iraq in 2006 and now conducts airlifts to help supply U.S.-led forces in that country.
Al-Zawahri spoke on a wide range of issues, even global warming, which he said reflected "how criminal, brutal and greedy the Western Crusader world is, with America at the top."
He predicted that global warming would "make the world more sympathetic to and understanding of the Muslims' jihad against the aggressor America."

Asked if there are any women in al-Qaida, the terror leader answered simply: "No." In a follow-up answer, he said: "There are no women in al-Qaida jihadi group, but the women of the mujahedeen are playing a heroic role in taking care of their houses and sons."
In several parts of Tuesday's audio message, Al-Zawahri claimed that the Taliban took over 95 percent of Afghanistan and is sweeping Pakistan as well.
"The Crusaders and their agents in Pakistan and Afghanistan are starting to fall," he said.
In another answer Tuesday, al-Zawahri said it was against Islamic religious law for any Muslim to live permanently in a Western country because in doing so they would "have permanent stay there under the laws of the infidels." Al-Qaida's media arm, Al-Sahab, announced in December that al-Zawahri would take questions from the public posted on Islamic militant Web sites and would respond "as soon as possible." Queries were submitted on the main Islamist Web site until the cutoff date of Jan. 16.
24210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: April 22, 2008, 01:35:53 PM
By Drew Griffin and Kathleen Johnston
CNN Special Investigations Unit
SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) -- Their mission is to protect airline passengers from acts of terror on U.S. flights. But in a special investigation, former and current air marshals told CNN that the number of marshals assigned to police flights is so low that the federal agency overseeing them has drastically lowered its firearms and psychological testing standards just so it can qualify new hires.

More than a dozen current and former marshals said that so many federal air marshals have resigned and are not being replaced, airport screeners are being employed to fill the dwindling ranks.

But the TSA says that's not true and that the rate of those leaving has remained at 6.5 percent a year since 2001.

A former federal air marshal and weapons trainer who left the agency in 2006 after four years of service said the situation was so bad that managers at his office fudged the numbers by assigning marshals to short, no-risk flights.

The former marshal said that was done to make it appear that the percentage of manned flights was higher than it really was.

"I think it's a national disgrace,'' said the former marshal, who asked not to be identified because he still works in law enforcement.

The Federal Air Marshal Service was greatly expanded in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, when flights to "high-risk cities" such as New York were given special air marshal manpower priority.

Assignments are "intelligence-driven" and "risk-based," the Federal Air Marshal Service said in an e-mail. But many of the marshals interviewed said it had little to do with intelligence or risk and was more about a numbers game.

"We were questioning how these flights could be intelligence-driven when we were flying from San Diego to Phoenix on another leg to Las Vegas back to Phoenix back to San Diego," the former marshal said. "It's not a threat flying on Southwest Airlines to Las Vegas."

Faced with fewer qualified applicants, current air marshals said that recruiting standards have been lowered. Air marshals still patrolling flights also said the loss of so many experienced agents has led the TSA to hire airport screeners as air marshals.

Agency spokesman Greg Alter said in an e-mail that only "a very small number of air marshals started their careers as Transportation Security Officers [airport screeners]."

Alter added that all "candidates receive the best training available and enter the workforce with the skill and expertise needed to protect the traveling public."

In July 2006, the Federal Air Marshal Service sent out a memo saying that new hires would no longer face mandatory psychological testing, unless the recruit admits that he or she has been treated for a mental condition.

TSA said it revised but did not "degrade" the psychological testing of applicants using the application and interaction with others in the service to determine mental competency.

On firearms training, a former weapons instructor with air marshals said that when recruits could not pass the tough federal tactical pistol course, known as the TPC, it was replaced with a less rigorous shooting test the potential recruits could pass.

"The TPC went away very quickly because they couldn't get enough people through it to pass," the former air marshal trainer said. "So they dropped the tactical pistol course and went to the practical pistol course, which is a standard federal law enforcement course. It's not nearly as quick or as dynamic as TPC."

But the TSA disputes the claim, saying it altered the weapons training six years ago because marshals needed more of a police-type training program rather than military-style weapons instruction.

The TSA said in an e-mail that "the course of fire and minimum qualification score air marshal candidates must acquire is the same today as it has been for over six years."

To replace departing air marshals, the TSA hired internally, including some administrative staff who had no college, law enforcement or military backgrounds, one current marshal said.

"To me, it's more of an embarrassment to be a member of that agency that would allow that particular individual in the training program," one marshal said. "I wouldn't want them on my flight. ... I don't want them as my partner."

The revelations come in the wake of a CNN investigation, in which air marshals and pilots said that only about 1 percent of the nation's 28,000 daily domestic flights were protected by onboard, armed federal marshals.

The Federal Air Marshal Service disputes that figure.

CNN's report about the declining number of marshals on planes also got the attention of Congress.

In a congressional hearing this week, the head of the Transportation Security Administration, Kip Hawley, told members of Congress that what CNN heard from the air marshals is wrong.

"I have to just correct on the factual basis on the CNN report about air marshals covering 1 percent. That number is absolutely wrong by an order of magnitude, and it was a guess by the folks there, and I just have to say that number is completely false."

Hawley would not say what percentage of flights has air marshals. That's a national security secret.

The service hides behind national security to keep the public from knowing how thin coverage really is, air marshals said.

The Federal Air Marshal Service continues to refuse CNN's request for an interview.

This month, Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who serves on the Homeland Security Committee, began holding closed-door meetings with the air marshal's service to determine whether congressional oversight committees are getting the truth.

"We will keep working and continuing to make sure that the airlines are served with the appropriate law enforcement that ensures the safety of the traveling public. We, too, are not interested in having funny numbers," Jackson Lee said.

Jackson Lee said that the committee has not finished its work and that she is convinced American air travel is safe for passengers. "It is important to restate and to re-emphasize: This is not an open opportunity for those who would attempt to do Americans harm. We are light years from where we were in 2000. We have trained personnel. They're being utilized, and we feel that we are steps ahead of where we were, but we want to get better. And that's what we intend to do."

After seeing CNN's initial report, Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts sent a letter to Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff asking for clarity on the number of air marshals protecting domestic flights and sought a response by April 11.

The senator is still waiting, Kerry's staff said.

Todd Schwarzschild also contributed to this report.

 
 

 
 
Find this article at:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/04/16/griffin.marshal.training/index.html 
24211  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Franklin: On borrowing on: April 22, 2008, 11:06:18 AM
"He that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing."

-- Benjamin Franklin (from his writings, 1758)

Reference: Franklin: Writings, Lemay, ed., Library of America
(1300)
24212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Brit pre-emptive dhimmitude on: April 22, 2008, 08:59:37 AM
http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/20...de-out-of.html


Quote:
In 2006 Church of England officials contemplated giving Saint George the boot from his perch as Patron Saint of England because he was too offensive for modern day Muslims.

Now, British officials have cancelled an annual St. George's Day Parade in Bradford in fear that Muslims will riot. Many of the youngsters had already made flags of St George to carry in the parade on April 23, which was designed to boost community cohesion. 

24213  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: ARMY T.O.P. Fighter on: April 22, 2008, 08:44:12 AM
Thank you for the heads up.  I will look to see if we receive it.
24214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: April 22, 2008, 01:01:31 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Russia, the West and Azerbaijan
April 22, 2008
News broke in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan on April 21 that on March 29 Azerbaijani authorities had halted a shipment of Russian equipment destined for Iran’s nuclear facility at Bushehr. The Azerbaijanis say the shipment was detained because the equipment may be in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions restricting international assistance in Iran’s nuclear program.

Details about the incident remain sketchy — everything from the nature of the equipment to the reason for the media blackout of the past 20 days remains unclear — but against the broader backdrop of geopolitical events, a few pieces of this puzzle reveal a pattern. The only question in Stratfor’s mind is this: What pattern has been highlighted by this revelation?

Russia is in the process of attempting to push back against steadily encroaching Western pressure across the length and breadth of its periphery. One of its most efficient means of doing this is contributing to instability in the Middle East as a means of occupying Western — and especially American — attention. And there are few means more effective at doing this than assisting Tehran with anything that involves the word “nuclear.”

But it is not as if the West sits idly by waiting for the Russians to produce a particularly well-crafted monkey wrench — and it is certainly not as if the West does not have its own options. This particular instance all comes down to Azerbaijan. Separated from NATO members by the politically unstable geography of the Caucasus, Baku is well aware that its very existence depends on its ability to tack between the winds of Russian assertiveness and Western power.

In the past, Baku has sought to engage the West — obliquely seeking membership in both the European Union and NATO — but it has also been willing to back track whenever it hears a growl from Moscow. Azerbaijan taking a firm stance against what has become a core Russian policy is tantamount to announcing to the world that it is applying to the United States for statehood — and that would not be done without some firm assurances out of NATO. As for potential Russian reactions, while Russia theoretically could still ship materials to Iran across the Caspian Sea or via an air bridge, putting Azerbaijan in the Western camp largely severs direct Russian influence into the Middle East.

The Bushehr events meld well into these processes. It is a very Russian move to play the Iranian nuclear card in the days leading up to NATO’s April 2-4 summit. It would similarly be a very Western move to use Western influence — Western companies are almost wholly responsible for the development of the Azerbaijani energy industry — to arrange for a stoppage of that shipment. And it would be very Azerbaijani to seek the strongest benefit from both sides for cooperation.

And there is yet another angle to this dance. Iran knows full well that the United States — not to mention Israel — would never allow Tehran to develop a nuclear weapon, and that crossing the red line risks turning Tehran into a crater. For Tehran, the nuclear card is just that — an asset to be traded away for something Iran wants and needs more: an Iraq that will never again seek to invade it. Only one power — the United States — holds the key to that desire, and playing poker with a country as powerful and as unpredictable as the United States tends to be a bit nerve-wracking. Ergo the nuclear “card.”

It is not clear if all this is about Russia, NATO, Azerbaijan, Iran or Iraq. It fits very neatly into all scenarios. But on one thing there is clarity: On an event like this, the world itself can turn.

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24215  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: At UFC 83 in Montreal on: April 21, 2008, 09:33:12 PM
May I offer for consideration that you are comparing different gene pools?

People who go out for wrestling and make the team tend to be superior specimens, whereas anyone can go do BJJ.
24216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Intel Guidance on: April 21, 2008, 04:04:33 PM
Intelligence Guidance: Week of April 20, 2008
Stratfor Today » April 18, 2008 | 2057 GMT

Jason Larkin/Getty Images
Customers compete to buy the next batch of fresh bread at a bakery in Cairo, Egypt.This is a document provided to Stratfor analysts. It is intended as a guide to areas and issues to be focused on during the coming week:

All guidance from last week remains in place. Supplemental guidance:

1. Global food shortages: The global situation in foodstuffs, particularly grains, is reaching the threshold of geopolitical significance. High prices are only part of the issue. Of greater significance are localized shortages occurring at a frequency that raises important questions. High prices alone do not appear to explain the absence of a good at any price. The reason for the shortages might be normal market operations, but we must now investigate whether the shortages are caused by disruptions of the market outside of normal operations, such as deliberate withholding of commodities from the market, governments acting to create reserves or some other, unknown process. It could well be that this is simply a normal cyclical process and we are experiencing a relatively routine shortage, but we must begin to consider whether some extraordinary circumstances are at play.

Regardless, food shortages, far more than energy shortages, can lead to rapid social unrest. Lack of food is fast-acting. Therefore we must focus on countries and regions where shortages are present and watch for social and political unrest. If this develops further, the possibility of international tensions and conflict must be considered. Following Stratfor’s rule that “first you get excited, and then you calm down after investigation,” it is time to get excited.

2. The Beijing Olympics: The public relations situation in China continues to be fluid. The Chinese are acting to contain the situation. However, it is increasingly clear that the Chinese will not achieve the unalloyed PR success they hoped for through the Olympics. A great deal of money and effort went into preparation for the Olympics, under the aegis of the government. If the PR situation is not contained, the credibility of the government will be open to question. This can rapidly turn into an internal political problem. We need to focus on whether conflicts emerge at the highest levels of the government if factions in the regime try to use the PR failure against President Hu Jintao or other individuals in the elite. There is the possibility that events will not only force personnel changes but policy changes.

3. U.S. carrier deployment: The deployment of U.S. carrier battle groups is becoming interesting. There are currently three deployed off the Chinese coast. One has paid a port call in Hong Kong, so we would assume that this is all being viewed as benign by the Chinese. Nevertheless, the deployment is interesting and we should try to find out if there is any political message being sent. Certainly we need to know how Beijing is reading this situation. It may be nothing, but worry about it anyway.

4. Iran and al-Sadr: Rumors abound about the Iranian government putting Muqtada al-Sadr on trial for an old murder. The sources of these rumors are dubious but numerous. It could be the Middle Eastern rumor mill, disinformation by some government or another, or it could be true. It was our view that the Iranians intervened in the fight between al-Sadr and the Iraqi government on behalf of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Others focused on the military aspects of the battle while our view was that the Iranian intervention against al-Sadr was a serious blow to his position. These rumors therefore fit into our own view, and therefore we have to be extremely suspicious of them. Our default setting should always be that we are wrong until we prove ourselves right. Therefore, let’s try to debunk these rumors. Certainly let’s see what we can find on Iranian thoughts on al-Sadr.

5. Brazilian oil: The rumors of oil finds off the Brazilian coast are endless, and constantly being knocked down by the government. It would be extremely useful if we could trace the origins of the rumors. The persistence of rumors that are dismissed by the government forces us to consider whether someone has a reason to plant these rumors, or whether the government has a reason to deny them.

6. Israeli-Arab relations: There appears to be little new in the Israeli-Arab situation. The information on the September 2007 attack on Syria has not been released. There have been no further developments of significance, and we continue to be confused. It will be interesting to see if the quiet continues through this week. Perhaps it was much ado about nothing.

EURASIA

April 24: Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat to meet with Turkish President Abdullah Gul at a time when negotiations seem to be moving again
April 25: Russia’s pro-Kremlin A Just Russia party to hold its congress in Moscow, where it expected to sign a coalition pact with United Russia
April 25: Russia’s Federation Council to consider an appeal by the North Ossetian parliament to recognize the independence of Georgia’s breakaway republic of South Ossetia
April 25-26: Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov to lead a government delegation to Kiev to continue energy negotiations and discuss the Russian military’s lease in Crimea
April 25-27: Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda to visit Moscow to meet with outgoing President Vladimir Putin and President-elect Dmitri Medvedev to discuss a bilateral territorial dispute, energy deals and regional security
April 27: The first anniversary of the removal of a Soviet-era war memorial from central Tallinn to a war cemetery, which sparked rioting by mainly Russian-speaking youth; Estonia has already warned of fresh riots in Tallinn and new cyberattacks on the country’s Internet infrastructure
MIDDLE EAST/SOUTH ASIA

April 18-27: Israel to impose a full closure on the West Bank to last until after Passover; furthermore, the Israeli Counter-Terrorism Bureau in the prime minister’s office has issued a travel warning of an “imminent” attack against Israeli tourists in the Sinai Peninsula
April 20-23: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to visit France for talks on Middle Eastern peace, bilateral ties and economic cooperation
April 21: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to attend a meeting of foreign ministers from Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf Cooperation Council states (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman) held in Bahrain
April 21: Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Day in Iran
April 22: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to attend a meeting of ministers from Iraq’s neighbors in Kuwait
April 22: Lebanon’s parliament to attempt to elect a new president, for the 18th time in half a year
April 22: The U.S. administration to give the Senate Intelligence Committee an account of the nuclear ties between North Korea and Syria for the first time; the meeting is expected to be held behind closed doors at Israel’s insistence, but the Americans did not promise not to brief journalists afterward
April 25: The second round of Iranian parliamentary elections to take place, in order to fill the 56 out of the chamber’s 290 seats that were not decided on in the first round of elections March 14
EAST ASIA

April 18-19: South Korean President Lee Myung Bak to visit Camp David and meet with U.S. President George W. Bush
April 20: South Korean President Lee Myung Bak to leave the United States and stop in Japan to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on April 21
April 24: The Olympic Torch to be in Canberra
April 25: Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda to visit Russia and meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and President-elect Dmitri Medvedev to address a range of bilateral and international issues, including a long-running territorial dispute
LATIN AMERICA

April 20: Paraguay to hold presidential and parliamentary elections
April 21-22: Mexican President Felipe Calderon to visit the United States, meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper
April 21 or 22: Argentina to lift total ban on meat exports to appease the agricultural sector
AFRICA

April 19: Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission to hold a recount in 23 constituencies, as requested by the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front
April 19-24: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to visit Ghana, Liberia, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire
April 20: Mauritius to host the Southern African Development Community Summit on Poverty and Development
April 22: Henry Okah’s treason trial to begin in Nigeria; Okah is a suspected arms smuggler for the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta militant group
SECURITY/COUNTERTERRORISM

April 19: Olympic Torch to be in Bangkok, Thailand
April 19:. Pro-Chinese demonstrations in London, Paris and Berlin to protest against the anti-Chinese demonstrations during Olympic torch relay
April 19: Anniversary of the end of the Branch Davidian Compound standoff in Waco, Texas, and the Oklahoma City bombing
April 20: Adolf Hitler’s birthday and anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings
April 20: Beginning of “World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week”
April 21: Olympic Torch to be in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
April 23: Olympic Torch to be in Jakarta, Indonesia
April 24: Olympic Torch to be in Canberra, Australia
24217  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: April 21, 2008, 03:57:53 PM
Summary
The proliferation of a new generation of supersonic anti-ship missiles is on the rise, and questions remain about the U.S. Navy’s capability to confront the threat.

Analysis
The supersonic anti-ship missile was a product of the Soviet Union’s need to challenge the U.S. Navy at sea. That speed was a brute-force way to punch through more technologically sophisticated U.S. shipboard defenses. In the years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, a few of these missiles and their platforms — essentially holdouts from the Soviet days — have begun to turn up in China. But a new generation of supersonic anti-ship missiles has begun appearing on the market, and their proliferation is on the rise.

The Threat
Anti-ship missiles have repeatedly proven their value. The HMS Sheffield (D80) was hit by a French-built Argentine Exocet in 1982 during the Falkland Islands War and later sank. The USS Stark (FFG-31) was crippled by a pair of Iraqi Exocets in 1987. And in 2006, the Israeli INS Hanit was struck by a Chinese-built C-802 (a design similar to the Exocet) during the Israeli conflict with Hezbollah. Both the Stark and the Hanit survived, but the missiles achieved what is known as a “mission kill.” In each case, though the crew was able to keep the ship afloat and limp back to port, the ship’s ability to effectively execute its missions was lost.

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U.S. Military Dominance
Modern warships are no longer armored as they once were. In the cases above, the Exocet’s 360-pound warhead did not tear the ship apart. But it easily penetrated the steel hull and wreaked havoc on the ship’s internal spaces. Not all hits like this will be mission kills, but the odds of one are high — and increase if multiple missiles impact the hull.

This is where the new supersonics come in. Their capabilities vary, but they bring two things to this dynamic. First, by significantly reducing the reaction time for shipboard defenses, they increase the likelihood of a successful hit, especially in their sea-skimming variations. Second, their increased speed translates into increased kinetic destructiveness. Even if a missile is destroyed, its fragments can pepper the side of a ship.

The New Market
Three missiles in particular are poised to proliferate more widely:

The BrahMos: Taking its name from a combination of the names of India’s Brahmaputra River and Russia’s Moscow River, the BrahMos is the product of an Indian-Russian venture. Its design work can be traced to the Soviet Union’s fledgling SS-N-26. Begun in 1985, the design had already been through substantial testing by the time India joined the project. Probably neither the most technologically advanced nor the most maneuverable among the supersonic anti-ship missiles, the BrahMos is principally noteworthy for its availability. It is currently being inducted into service with the Indian military and could soon see a surge in proliferation, with Malaysia as the likely first export customer.
The AS-17 “Krypton”: A late-model air-launched missile with a number of air-to-air and air-to-surface roles, this ramjet-powered missile has already been copied by the Chinese, and the Kh-31A series is being used in an anti-ship role. Despite its significantly smaller warhead, the Krypton is noteworthy for its compact size. Su-30 “Flanker” fighter jets can carry four.
The SS-N-27 “Sizzler”: Another late Soviet design, the Sizzler family (known to the Russians as the “Club”) actually encompasses a series of anti-ship, ground attack and anti-submarine missiles. Occasionally known as the SS-N-27B, the anti-ship 3M54 version is of principal interest here, as it includes a sea-skimming supersonic terminal stage that travels at Mach 3 only some 20 feet above the ocean. It covers the last 10 miles of its flight in just over 20 seconds. The guidance systems of this particular missile may be more advanced, and it is thought to have considerable maneuverability in the terminal stage, making it harder to bring down. Its capability was highlighted by the Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Timothy J. Keating, when he admitted in testimony before Congress on March 12 that this missile is “a very sophisticated piece of hardware and we are currently not as capable of defending against that missile as I would like.” Though it is not always clear that it is the supersonic variant being deployed, the Sizzler family of missiles has begun seeing significant levels of deployment aboard Russian-built Kilo-class submarines purchased by China and India and could be used on more of the Russian fleet as well. Rosoboronexport, the Russian arms-export monopoly, is increasingly marketing the missile as a package with these subs. Venezuela, Algeria and Libya could even find themselves in possession of this capability down the road.
The Defense
Armoring against this threat has not been a design choice for decades. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Soviets began to field supersonic anti-ship missiles with 2,050-pound warheads. This was not a problem to be solved with armor; in addition to the dramatic increase in shipbuilding costs, power plant capability requirements and fuel consumption involved, there was no way to harden a ship — including the superstructure — against such kinetic and explosive destructiveness.

Thus, the United States has long relied upon technology to prevent anti-ship missiles from impacting in the first place. The vaunted Aegis battle management system was designed to coordinate these defenses, which by all measures are quite good. But defenses must continually be cultivated, tested and refined.

For more than five years, voices in the Pentagon have been clamoring that this is not being done. The problem is targets. After the Soviet Union fell, a variation of the Krypton known as the MA-31 was sold to the United States as a supersonic target. However, the MA-31 never went into mass production, and the small inventory — which is almost depleted — is generally used in a high-altitude powered-dive role, rather than a sea-skimming role.

The GQM-163A “Coyote” supersonic sea-skimming target vehicle is currently in production, and the U.S. Navy plans to purchase nearly 40 of them by 2009. While the Coyote might be a near-term acquisition solution, it does not entirely approximate the Sizzler’s subsonic approach and supersonic terminal profile (the Defense Department calls this profile “Threat-D”), and the Pentagon has not had a good supersonic target for some time. Keating’s candor before Congress seems to reinforce the apparent fact that shipboard defenses are not being refined as highly as they could be.

The Problem
This is troubling on two fronts. First, the U.S. Navy’s shipbuilding plan, which calls for a 313-ship fleet, remains in serious near-term question. Ship numbers are dropping, and the next-generation DDG-1000 guided-missile destroyer and Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) are both over budget and behind schedule, while the number of attack submarines in the inventory continues to decline. This makes each individual hull more valuable.

But second, and more importantly, the U.S. Navy has long worked under the assumption that technologically advanced air defenses can provide sufficient protection from these threats. While it is clear that armor probably is not the solution for a navy already struggling to make ends meet in shipbuilding, the inability to prove upgraded shipboard defenses in representative live testing should be a matter of grave concern, especially since these threats may necessitate alterations to tracking software and engagement profiles.

The U.S. Navy retains its global maritime supremacy, and no other nation is in a position to even think about competing in the near term. But modern navies have repeatedly been stung by anti-ship missiles launched by lesser military powers. And this proliferation of a new generation of supersonic anti-ship missiles promises that technologically advanced shipboard defenses have not been tested for the last time.

stratfor
24218  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Indonesia on: April 21, 2008, 03:52:01 PM
Intolerance in Indonesia
By SADANAND DHUME
FROM TODAY'S WALL STREET JOURNAL ASIA
April 22, 2008

In the global debate about the compatibility between Islam and democracy, Indonesia is often held up as an example of the possible. Ten years after General Suharto's downfall, the world's most populous Muslim country has institutionalized free elections and the peaceful transfer of power, nurtured a lively press, and rolled back a panoply of racist laws that once targeted the country's ethnic Chinese minority. But the ongoing persecution of the Ahmadiyya, a small Muslim sect founded in late 19th century India, underscores Indonesia's – and the Muslim world's – trouble guaranteeing a bedrock democratic value: freedom of conscience. Without it, the country's proud claim to be the world's third-largest democracy will remain lacking.

The most recent assault on the Ahmadiyya comes from a government body that manages to sound Orwellian and Kafkaesque at the same time – the Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society. Last Wednesday this august grouping recommended a ban on Ahmadiyya in Indonesia. The reason: Though Ahmadiyya Muslims revere the prophet Muhammad and follow the Quran, they also contend that their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908), was a prophet as well. This contradicts the mainstream Islamic assertion that all divine revelation ended with Muhammad, the so-called – and it might be noted, self-proclaimed – "seal of the prophets."

Since arriving in Indonesia in the 1920s, Indonesia's tiny Ahmadiyya community, a fraction of the country's 200 million Muslims, had lived peacefully. Ahmadiyyas tend to emphasize education and reject the idea of violent jihad. But in 2005, the Council of Indonesian Ulama, a collection of powerful mullahs, dusted off an obscure 25-year-old religious ruling, or fatwa, and declared the community to be "deviant and misled." Since then mobs have sacked Ahmadiyya mosques while police stood by, local governments have flouted federal laws and imposed bans on Ahmadiyya worship, and leaders of a thuggish vigilante group, the Islamic Defenders Front, have publicly called for the sect's followers to be murdered. Through all this, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has dithered, preferring not to stick out his political neck for an unpopular cause.

 
Mr. Yudhoyono ought to know better. What's at stake is not merely the safety and well-being of a somewhat offbeat religious group but a much more fundamental question: What kind of country does Indonesia want to be? Will it be, as its founding fathers envisioned, a land where people of all faiths live as equals, or one where non-Muslims and heterodox Muslims are effectively second-class citizens? Will it be a country that respects an individual's right to worship as he pleases, or indeed not to worship at all, or one where such matters are determined by safari-suited officials and bearded clerics? Will it be ruled by the law or by the mob?

For now the signs don't augur well, for ironically the deepening of Indonesian democracy has gone hand in hand with a darkening intolerance. As the country's famously easygoing brand of folk Islam gives way to a triple-distilled orthodoxy imported from the Middle East – among the more noxious side-effects of globalization – the live-and-let-live attitude that underpinned Indonesian pluralism has come under sustained assault. In 21st century Indonesia, non-Muslims and heterodox Muslims can find themselves jailed for such medieval-sounding offenses as "being heretical," "tarnishing the purity of Arabic," or "denigrating religion." Christians often bear the brunt of these new attitudes. Christian groups estimate that 110 churches were forcibly closed between 2004 and 2007 alone, and permission to build new ones is increasingly hard to come by.

Belligerence toward religious minorities at home has gone hand in hand with a heightened sensitivity to insults, real and imagined, to Islam abroad. As though to make up for lost time, Indonesia has propelled itself to the front rows of the global culture wars between Islam and the West. During the cartoon crisis of 2006 the Danish embassy in Jakarta was among the first attacked. The following year mobs converged upon the offices of a toned down (no nudity) local edition of Playboy and forced it to relocate to the Hindu island of Bali. Earlier this month, Indonesia briefly blocked the popular video sharing website YouTube and the social networking site MySpace for allowing users to watch the movie "Fitna," Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders's much-derided anti-Islam screed.

As Indonesia mulls the fate of its Ahmadiyyas, its leaders ought to draw lessons from others' mistakes. In 1974 the charismatic Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto sought to appease Pakistan's strident Islamists by declaring the Ahmadiyyas to be non-Muslims. Bhutto's placing of petty politics above principle is now generally regarded as a turning point in his country's long slide toward obscurantism and lawlessness. If this isn't enough, those perpetually exercised about guarding Islam's "image" ought to consider the irony that it is in Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Washington, rather than among their co-religionists in Karachi, Riyadh or Jakarta, that Ahmadiyya Muslims can live with dignity and practice their faith without fear.

Mr. Dhume is a fellow at the Asia Society in Washington, D.C. His book about the rise of radical Islam in Indonesia, "My Friend the Fanatic: Travels with an Indonesian Islamist," will be published by Text Publishing in Australia in May.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.
WSJ
24219  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: April 21, 2008, 03:42:54 PM
http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/0421zetas0421.html

Mexican soldiers recruited to be drug cartel's hit men

Chris Hawley
Mexico City Bureau
Apr. 21, 2008 12:00 AM
MEXICO CITY - One of Mexico's biggest drug cartels has launched a bizarre recruiting campaign, putting up fliers and banners promising good pay, free cars and better chow to army soldiers who join the cartel's elite band of hit men.

"We don't feed you Maruchan soups," said the banner in the border city of Nuevo Laredo, referring to a brand of ramen noodles.

The recruiting effort by the Gulf Cartel reflects how Mexico's fight against traffickers increasingly resembles a real war, 17 months after President Felipe Calderón ordered the army into drug hotspots. Smugglers are now training for battle in shooting ranges, using psychological warfare and fighting the army with machine guns and grenades. advertisementOAS_AD('ArticleFlex_1')

"Army and police-force conflicts with heavily armed narcotics cartels have escalated to levels equivalent to military small-unit combat," the U.S. Embassy said last week in a travel warning to Americans.

Earlier this month, fliers began appearing in the border city of Reynosa in Tamaulipas state urging soldiers to defect. They were pasted on telephone poles over government posters that offered rewards to drug informants.

Benefits for recruits



"Former soldiers sought to form armed group; good pay, 500 dollars," the fliers said.

On April 13, a 10-foot-long banner appeared on a pedestrian bridge over Nuevo Laredo's Reforma Avenue, urging soldiers to join the Zetas, the Gulf Cartel's hit squad.

"The Zetas operations group wants you, soldier or ex-soldier," the banner said. "We offer you a good salary, food and attention for your family. Don't suffer hunger and abuse any more."

It listed a cellular-telephone number, which had been disconnected a few days later. The banner was taken down a few hours after it was spotted.

Last Thursday, another banner appeared in the city of Tampico urging soldiers and federal agents to defect.

"Join the ranks of the Gulf Cartel," it said. "We offer benefits, life insurance, a house for your family and children. Stop living in the slums and riding the bus. A new car or truck, your choice.

"What more could you ask for? Tamaulipas, Mexico, the USA and the entire world is Gulf Cartel territory."

Authorities said the signs were probably an attempt to demoralize the soldiers and police, rather than a serious recruiting effort.

"They do these things in public places to create confusion among the authorities themselves," said Ruben Salinas, commander of the Reynosa police department's second division.

Still, recent arrests have shown that defections are a real danger. On Thursday, federal agents detained the Reynosa police commissioner himself, Juan José Muñiz, for questioning because of evidence he was protecting the Zetas, the Mexican Justice Department said. He has not been formally charged.

Military experts said the recruiting campaign, whether genuine or simply aimed at sowing discontent, shows the increasing sophistication of the cartels.

"This is combat between two forces, one regular and one irregular," said Jorge Luis Sierra, a military expert and author of a book about the Mexican special forces.

In recent months:


• Five former cartel recruits identified at least six military-style training sites in Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas states, the Dallas Morning News reported on March 30. It cited written testimony from the witnesses that was leaked from the Mexican Justice Department.


• On Jan. 19, police discovered a 50-foot-long target range, complete with soundproofing foam, a ventilation system for gun smoke and buckets for spent cartridges, hidden under a house in Tijuana. The house also had a machine shop for assembling and repairing weapons.


• Soldiers on March 17 seized a Jeep Grand Cherokee outfitted with a smoke-screen generator, bulletproofing and a device for spraying spikes onto the road. The vehicle was abandoned by gunmen following a shootout with the army in the northern state of Tamaulipas.


• On Wednesday, Mexican prosecutors formally charged five municipal police officers with being Zetas in the northern state of Coahuila.


• Former Mexican soldier Daniel "Cheeks" Pérez Rojas was captured in Guatemala on April 8 in connection with a shootout there that killed 11 people in Guatemala in March. The Mexican Justice Department says Pérez Rojas is a Zetas leader and that the shootout, some 900 miles from the Gulf Cartel's home turf, showed the international reach of the hit squad. Much of the cocaine smuggled by the Mexican cartels moves first through Central America.

Troop retention



Many of the Zetas are former members of the Mexican army's special forces, the U.S. Justice Department has said.

Some, like Pérez Rojas, came from the Special Forces Airborne Groups, or GAFES, which received U.S. training and surplus American "Huey" helicopters in the 1990s.

Most of the Vietnam War-era helicopters were eventually returned to the United States because of chronic mechanical problems, leaving the commandos frustrated and with few opportunities for advancement. A few decided to switch sides, Sierra said.

The Mexican military has long had a problem with desertion. Between January and September 2007 alone, some 4,956 army soldiers deserted,about 2.5 percent of the force,according to the National Defense Secretariat.

Soldiers are facing more incentive to switch sides because of Calderón's decision to use troops against the drug traffickers, said Arturo Alvarado, a sociologist who studies criminal-justice issues at the College of Mexico.

Calderón began dispatching troops to patrol Tijuana, Juarez, Michoacan state and other trafficking corridors shortly after taking office in December 2006.

Thousands of soldiers have spent months away from their families, patrolling border cities. An army private earns an average of $533 a month, the National Defense Secretariat said in response to a freedom-of-information request in February.

"I don't see why these supposed recruiting (signs) should be a particular worry to the government because the recruiting occurs in other ways," Alvarado said.

"But what's true is that there is enormous desertion in the Mexican army and police force. They should be worried about that and take action to offer better working conditions."
__________________
What use is it to speak of freedom, if people are afraid to make sacrifices for it?
24220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson: Constitutional construction on: April 21, 2008, 09:34:15 AM
"My construction of the constitution is very different from that
you quote. It is that each department is truly independent of the
others, and has an equal right to decide for itself what is the
meaning of the constitution in the cases submitted to its action;
and especially, where it is to act ultimately and without appeal."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to Samuel Adams Wells, 12 May 1819)

Reference: Jefferson Writings, Peterson, ed., 1426
24221  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: April 21, 2008, 12:10:15 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Syria and Israel Consider a Deal
April 21, 2008
Rumors are circulating once again that Syria and Israel are engaged in serious peace talks. Syrian President Bashar al Assad announced April 19 that he had exchanged back-channel messages with Israel about possibility of resuming talks, adding that Israel knows well what Syria will and will not accept, Syria’s official news agency SANA reported on Sunday.

In a similar vein, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth on Thursday that the two countries have been engaged in talks, stating “They know what we want from them, and I know full well what they want from us.” Stratfor sources also say that an undercover meeting took place between April 17 between Syria and Israel.

The idea of the Syrians and Israelis conducting covert peace negotiations is nothing new. It is unusual, however, to see both sides actually acknowledging that meetings are taking place. Normally, each time a flurry of such talks makes its way into the press — usually propagated by the Israeli media — a flood of denials from both sides quickly follows. So perhaps talks are happening.

Each side will be asking for a high price. The framework for such peace talks would include Israel’s withdrawal from the Golan Heights to pre-1967 borders. Syria would also be expected to end its support for Hezbollah and Hamas, and distance itself from Iran.

These are not easy concessions for either side to make. The Israelis are loath to withdraw from the strategic 7,296-foot Mount Hermon, which is critical for Israel’s ability to defend its northeastern flank. In exchange for pulling back, Israel would want to retain control over the use of water from the Jordan River and Lake Kinneret — which provide roughly one-third the country’s water supply.

Syria, on the other hand, knows the risk of cutting ties with Iran and its militant proxies, who have the capacity to strike back at the al Assad regime. For all intents and purposes, Syria under the al Assad regime has made an ideal ally for the Iranians in the Arab world. Syria is ruled by Alawites, a minority sect of Shiite Islam, and the Alawite regime in Damascus has long been out of step with the regional Arab “consensus” on a host of issues. It sided with Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. It also helped establish and nurture Hezbollah in Lebanon in collaboration with the Arabs’ principal rival, Iran.

But the Syrians are in an uncomfortable spot right now. Syria’s relations with Hezbollah and Iran have been strained ever since the assassination of Hezbollah top commander Imad Mughniyah on Syrian soil in February. Meanwhile, thanks to the U.S.-backed Sunni regimes in Cairo and Riyadh, the Syrians are facing a wall of resistance preventing them from reconsolidating influence in neighboring Lebanon. And finally, Israel has made a number of moves in recent weeks to suggest that the next military confrontation it has with Hezbollah in Lebanon could very well drag the Syrians in, much to their peril.

Well aware of its inferior defenses, Damascus is in no mood for a war with Israel that could threaten the survival of the al Assad regime. Israel, too, is keen on preserving the stability of the Alawite regime, because from Israel’s perspective all the alternatives are worse. As a result, the war threats coming from Israel over the past couple of weeks have been carefully interlaced with offers of peace.

With these rumors of peace talks afloat, we will be watching closely to see what leaks come out of a meeting April 22 between the Bush administration and the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee over nuclear ties between North Korea and Syria. If peace negotiations between Israel and Syria have indeed reached a serious phase, the discussion on Syria’s alleged nuclear activity will likely be subdued (at Israel’s insistence). If, however, the United States and Israel plan to push Syria further, the coming week will be blazing with reports of a supposed Syrian nuclear threat.

At the very least, the buzz about peace talks between Israel and Syria allows the Israelis and the Americans to inject distrust into the Syria-Iran-Hezbollah coalition. We now need to see how serious the Israelis are in taking these talks a step further
stratfor
24222  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More C on: April 20, 2008, 11:58:06 PM
In Defense of the Constitution

News & Analysis
005/08  April 20, 2008


CAIR: Non-Profit?

 
In an article carried by MyrtleBeachOnline.com, Rep. Sue Myrick says she wants America to "wake up" and do something about terrorism.

To that end, Rep. Myrick has introduced a ten-points plan apparently designed to both alert Americans to the threat of terrorism and also lay out a blue-print for taking action now to hopefully prevent incidents in future.
 
Among Myrick's points (Wake Up America") is a call for examining the tax exempt status of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) a Washington, D.C. based front group that supports Islamist terrorism and Islamist terrorists in North America .
 
When Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR spokesman, was asked about Myrick's plan, he attempted to tie in valid concerns about CAIR to "anti-Muslim hate sites" on the internet:


"It sounds like your usual laundry list of talking points you can see on anti-Muslim hate sites on the Internet"

 
Typical of Hoopers disingenuous attempt to paint CAIR as the innocent victim, he completely failed to explain why CAIR shouldn't be investigated. 

For instance, can Hooper:
 
     -  Deny that CAIR receives foreign funding?
     -  Refute accusations that CAIR actively supports Islamist terrorists and terrorist groups?
     -  Show that CAIR is not in America as part of a plan to overthrow the government and replace it with an Islamic theocracy?
     -  Explain just how CAIR should retain its tax exempt status in light of CAIR's dirty hands?
 
Hooper can't credibly defend CAIR from any of these accusations and he knows it. 

So, he does the next best thing which is to play the "woe is us" card.
 
It looks like Rep. Myrick is one of those few in the Congress who "gets it" when it comes to radical Islam. 

We wish her luck in her investigation of CAIR and we have no doubt that if she is able to fully investigate CAIR that not only will CAIR's tax exempt status be in jeopardy, perhaps the whole organization will be as well.

Additional reading:

http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/news/local/story/422373.html
http://cairhateandterror.blogspot.com/2008/04/doj-cair-conspired-to-support.html
http://www.frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=B6744280-4203-4F79-8741-9DD581E15D93
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=5509965B-87BE-4C20-83F4-88265DC72BD7
http://www.anti-cair-net.org/AhmadDenied
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=58885
http://www.thebulletin.us/site/printerFriendly.cfm?brd=2737&dept_id=576361&newsid=18257792
http://www.anti-cair-net.org/press_012_07.html
http://counterterrorismblog.org/2007/08/war_is_deception_1.php

Andrew Whitehead
Director
Anti-CAIR
ajwhitehead@anti-cair-net.org
www.anti-cair-net.org
24223  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 4/20 Guro Crafty at Surf Dog's in Hemet, CA on: April 20, 2008, 11:41:17 PM
Woof All:

A highly enjoyable day for me as well.

Today's seminar was the first of a continuing series.  Surf and I anticipate the next one being in about three months.

The Adventure continues,
Guro Crafty

PS:  Guide Dog, what was the healing technique for your hands that Surf shared with you?
24224  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Not good , , , on: April 20, 2008, 11:21:53 PM
British Commanders: Iraqi Army's attempt to retake Basra was 'complete disaster'

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

Battle to retake Basra was 'complete disaster'

By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:41pm BST 20/04/2008

The British-trained Iraqi Army's attempt to retake Basra from militiamen was an "unmitigated disaster at every level", British commanders have disclosed.

Senior sources have said that the mission was undermined by incompetent officers and untrained troops who were sent into battle with inadequate supplies of food, water and ammunition.

They said the failure had delayed the British withdrawal by "many months".

Their comments came as the Iraqi army, this time directly supported by American and British forces, began a second operation in Basra in an attempt to find insurgent weapons caches.

The push, which was met with fierce resistance, took place in the Hayania district of the city, where there were clashes two weeks ago.

In the first operation, it is understood that one Iraqi brigade became a "busted flush" after 1,200 of its soldiers deserted.

At one stage during the battle, stories were circulating at the British headquarters that Iraqi troops were demanding food and water from coalition forces at gunpoint. "It was an unmitigated disaster at every level," an officer said.

Gen Mohan Furayji, the Iraqi commander who was in charge of troops during the operation, was described by a senior British staff officer as a "dangerous lunatic" who "ignored" advice.

The British officer, who is based at the coalition headquarters at Basra Air Station, said that the decision to allow Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq, to run the operation had been a "disaster which felt as though an amateur was in charge".

More than 15,000 Iraqi troops were ordered to seize control of the city last month following an uprising by the Mehdi Army, the powerful militia group which is largely trained and financed by Iran.

President George W Bush described the battle for Basra as a "defining moment" for Iraq, while British officials at the time praised the professionalism of the Iraqi army.

However, the operation ended in a stalemate, with the Iraqi government agreeing to a ceasefire.

Criticism of Britain's involvement in Basra resurfaced last week during Gordon Brown's visit to America.

The New York Times reported, incorrectly, that British troops were refusing to help the Iraqi army, which the newspaper said was "deeply embarrassing for Britain".

In a devastating critique of the Iraqi military, British commanders have disclosed that "chaos ruled" the operation to retake Basra.

One officer said the Iraqi army's 14th Division had only 26 per cent of the equipment necessary to take part in combat operations.

He said: "There were literally thousands of troops arriving in Basra from all over Iraq. But they had no idea why they were there or what they were supposed to do. It was madness and to cap it all they had insufficient supplies of food, water and ammunition.

"One of the newly formed brigades was ordered into battle and suffered around 1,200 desertions within the first couple of hours - it was painful to watch.

"They had to be pulled out because they were a busted flush. The Iraqi police were next to useless. There were supposed to be 1,300 ready to deploy into the city, but they refused to do so. The situation deteriorated to the extent where we [the British Army] were forced to stage a major resupply operation in order to stave off disaster.

"The net effect of all of this is that the British Army will be forced to remain here for many months longer."

The Sunday Telegraph has also learnt that British commanders had devised a plan for Gen Mohan. The plan came with the caveat that it should not be started until mid-July because Iraqi troops were not ready. But the officer said that the Iraqi general had ignored the advice.

He said that a British liaison team was sent to the Iraqi army headquarters during the battle. "They were greeted by a group of Iraqi generals sitting around a large desk, shouting into their mobiles without a map in sight. Chaos ruled."

Basra was handed back to Iraqi control last year after the Army withdrew from its last military base in the city.

The Ministry of Defence had hoped to reduce the number of troops serving in southern Iraq to about 2,000 this spring, but that plan has been shelved and British troops are once again patrolling the city's streets.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main...-mostviewedbox
24225  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: A Secret Gathering: It was 20 years ago , , , on: April 19, 2008, 08:42:04 PM
Brought over from the DBMA Association Forum:
===============================================

My name is Imogen ( yes as in Imogen Heap) and I was at the three day gathering as a guest along with Matt Tucker ( time keeper) and my two boys,Jordan and Taylor who both had a ball....Jordan infact discovered a flair for photography during this time.....
I wanted to just let you all know my thoughts from an outsiders point of view.

When we arrived it was for me with slight trepidation, almost an intrusion to something I had only seen on DVD or glancing out the window at Matt in the garden, these feelings quickly dispersed as everyone was so welcoming and I soon had my eye on who I thought were the ones to watch.
My main priority was to keep my children occupied so they didn't disturb the focus but I still took it all in and it was very exciting to be part of the journey that took place at the ranch, there was a buzz all round as the corral was prepared for the days ahead ,I am sure everyone was thinking the same thing, what a wonderful opportunity this was and to make the most of it.
I cannot say that I know much about Dog Brothers but what I discovered was they are led by a unique man who had an amazing aura about him and that all the men were like minded, focused and disciplined which I can relate to very easily, as a trained dancer these traits are in me always and hopefully passed onto my children. Because of my background  and lack of knowledge I looked at the fighters and chose my favourites because of who I thought had the "X Factor"( charisma) but I also found it hard to watch Ben or Scotty Dog  get hurt as I had been to dinner with both of them!!!
I watched my husband in that corral timing the rounds and he looked like a little boy in his element almost skipping around...Some of you may know that he had a nasty accident a few years ago and nearly lost his hand which was devastating and then to see him involved in the gathering made me so proud.

After the three days were over and we  moved on with our holiday the experience still stayed with us and I realised it was something that none of us will ever forget. I have just read Red Dogs poem which actually made me cry, it probably woudn't have done had I not been there........but I was. As I said at the beginning I went to the gathering with trepedation but  came away from it refreshed
and with a spring in my step and a utmost respect for your art
24226  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: April 19, 2008, 10:12:21 AM
I thought Will did a very good job there of articulating and organizing certain points.  Good find.
24227  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 4/20 Guro Crafty at Surf Dog's in Hemet, CA on: April 18, 2008, 03:07:23 PM
Surf Dog informs me:

The school's phone number is 951-654-0210 not 951-766-0702.
24228  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: April 18, 2008, 03:06:11 PM
To the Tribe:

The Dog Brothers Pack/Tribe page has been updated.  Please let me know of any missing or incorrect listings.

Crafty Dog
Guiding Force
24229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: April 18, 2008, 01:21:19 PM
Oh Bomber

Bill Ayers, the former member of the anti-Vietnam War group the Weathermen, was unknown to most Americans until this week when ABC moderator George Stephanopoulos pressed Barack Obama about his association with the retired revolutionary. Now Mr. Ayers has piped up in his blog to introduce himself.

Mr. Ayers claims on his personal blog that he has been misinterpreted over his infamous remarks that appeared in the New York Times on September 11, 2001, in which he said about the 25 bombings that his group carried out against the Vietnam War: "I don't regret setting bombs; I feel we didn't do enough."

Mr. Ayers, now a professor of education at the University of Illinois, says that when it comes to "anything I did to oppose the war in Viet Nam... I say 'No, I don't regret anything I did to try to stop the slaughter of millions of human beings by my own government.'" But he also complains that his statements have been "elided" to mean "he has no regrets for setting bombs and thinks there should be more bombings."

That's a distinction without a difference in my book. He has never retracted his statement to the New York Times and to this day claims to "have never advocated terrorism, never participated in it, never defended it. The U.S. government, by contrast, does it routinely and defends the use of it in its own cause consistently."

All of this raises continued questions about why Mr. Obama refuses to discuss his relationship with Mr. Ayers, even though his campaign recently described them as "friendly." Bloomberg News reports the two men have crossed paths repeatedly starting in 1995, when Mr. Ayers held an organizing meeting for Mr. Obama's candidacy for the state legislature in his home and personally introduced him to friends.

In 1997, Mr. Obama cited Mr. Ayers' work on criminal justice in a Chicago Tribune article on what prominent Chicagoans were reading. For a year after the infamous comments in the New York Times, Mr. Obama served with Mr. Ayers on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago.

No one suggests that Mr. Obama has ever endorsed any of the actions of the Weathermen, which occurred when he was still a child. But to this day he won't discuss how he came to know him, why he chose to associate with Mr. Ayers and what he thinks of his current opinions about the U.S. government. All that will continue to fuel questions about Mr. Obama's associations -- just as his continued relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has.

-- John Fund

School of Finance

One of the loudest promises made by Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats when they regained control of Congress was to make college "more affordable." Sure enough, a new Democrat-sponsored law aimed to do just that... and now student lenders are dropping out of the business like so many frat boys after the first round of finals. Millions of students are being left in the lurch just as they're seeking help with next fall's tuition.

By one count, some four-dozen student lenders have either curtailed loans to students in recent months or closed up shop entirely. Sallie Mae, the biggest, rolled out its Chief Executive Al Lord yesterday to warn of a "train wreck" in the $85 billion student loan market without a federal bailout.

The broader credit crunch is certainly playing a role, but Mr. Lord laid most of the blame on a Democrat-sponsored law that took effect in October. As part of her "First 100 Hours" agenda, Ms. Pelosi and Co. slashed interest rates banks can charge students in half to 3.4%, leaving Uncle Sam to make up the difference. Democrats also pushed through cuts to the fees the federal government pays to banks for underwriting student loans. "It's not even a matter of break-even. [The lenders] lose money on these loans if they originate them," one financial analyst told Dow Jones Newswires last month.

The Federal Family Education Loan Program likes to boast that it's now the dominant source of college loan funding, making "it possible for borrowers with no income, credit history, cosigner or collateral to get student loans at low interest rates." Talk about subprime. All this federal money is also a substantial reason for the rapid inflation in tuition costs. Every Congressionally-created problem must have a Congressional solution. Pelosi ally Rep. Mike Miller, chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, is now pushing legislation through that will both lift the cap on federally subsidized student loans and expand Uncle Sam's direct loan program -- completing Washington's takeover of the business and no doubt setting the stage for bigger meltdowns ahead.

-- Brendan Miniter

Quote of the Day

"There is a dearth of talent on the business side of this industry that is shocking to me. No one goes to Wharton and says, 'I want to run circulation at Knight-Ridder.' The business side has let down the journalistic side of newspapers.... I've got some [unionized ad] salesmen who make $100,000 a year and have no interest in making $120,000" -- Brian Tierney, new owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, quoted by former New York Times editor Howell Raines at Portfolio.com.

The Fiscal Consequences of Divorce

Families that stay together, save together. That's the conclusion of a new study indicating that U.S. taxpayers are forking out at least $112 billion annually, and over $1 trillion dollars per decade, on divorces and unwed childbearing. This estimate is based on federal, state, and local government programs and lost tax revenue.

Says the study's principal author, Ben Scafidi of Georgia State University: "These costs are due to increased taxpayer expenditures for anti-poverty, criminal justice and education programs, and through lower levels of taxes paid by individuals whose adult productivity has been negatively affected by increased childhood poverty caused by family fragmentation." Similar work by Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation has found that children who grow up in fatherless homes are far more likely to have behavior problems, drug abuse, high school drop out rates, and to be in poverty as adults.

What can government do? The Institute for American Values, which underwrote the Scafidi research, recommends modest taxpayer funds to support efforts to decrease divorce rates and unwed childbearing. That may be a waste of money, as these are the types of activities best undertaken by churches and private support networks. The best hope is that the lesson will be taken to heart by the media, politicians and educators, reversing some of the casualness with which divorces are sought and granted. In the 1970s and '80s, a school of thought maintained that breaking up troubled marriages was a win-win. Feminists argued it was a form of women's liberation, the children were better off, etc. But a steady drumbeat of research has shown that in most cases almost everyone is rendered worse off by divorce and separation. That includes taxpayers.

-- Stephen Moore and Tyler Grimm



24230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyberwar on: April 18, 2008, 01:19:58 PM
Summary
One of the most mature instances of a cyberwarfare attack was an assault on Internet networks in Estonia in late April and early May of 2007. The Russian government was suspected of participating in — if not instigating — the attack, which featured some of the key characteristics of cyberwarfare, including decentralization and anonymity.

Analysis
Related Special Topic Page
Cyberwarfare
Related Links
Cyberspace as Battlespace: Evolving Threats
MEMBERS-ONLY PODCAST

Cyberwarfare: A Glossary of Useful Terms
Interactive Cyberwarfare Timeline
Cyberwarfare 101: The Internet Is Mightier Than the Sword
Cyberwarfare 101: Black Hats, White Hats, Crackers and Bots
Cyberwarfare 101: What Makes a Hacker Tick

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of analyses on the emergence of cyberspace as battlespace.

During the night of April 26-27, 2007, in downtown Tallinn, Estonia, government workers took down and moved a Soviet-era monument commemorating World War II called the Bronze Soldier, despite the protests of some 500 ethnic Russian Estonians. For the Kremlin — and Russians in general — such a move in a former Soviet republic was blasphemy.

It was also just the kind emotional flash point that could spark a “nationalistic” or “rally-around-the-flag” movement in cyberspace. By 10 p.m. local time on April 26, 2007, digital intruders began probing Estonian Internet networks, looking for weak points and marshaling resources for an all-out assault. Bursts of data were sent to important nodes and servers to determine their maximum capacity — a capacity that the attackers would later exceed with floods of data, crashing servers and clogging connections.

A concerted cyberwarfare attack on Estonia was under way, one that would eventually bring the functioning of government, banks, media and other institutions to a virtual standstill and ultimately involve more than a million computers from some 75 countries (including some of Estonia’s NATO allies). Estonia was a uniquely vulnerable target. Extremely wired, despite its recent status as a Soviet republic, Estonian society had grown dependent on the Internet for virtually all the administrative workings of everyday life — communications, financial transactions, news, shopping, restaurant reservations, theater tickets and bill paying. Even parliamentary votes were conducted online. When Estonia’s independence from the Soviet Union was restored in 1991, not even telephone connections were reliable or widely available. Today, more than 60 percent of the population owns a cell phone, and Internet usage is already on par with Western European nations. In 2000, Estonia’s parliament declared Internet access a basic human right.

Some of the first targets of the attack were the Estonian parliament’s e-mail servers and networks. A flood of junk e-mails, messages and data caused the servers to crash, along with several important Web sites. After disabling this primary line of communications among Estonian politicians, some of the hackers hijacked Web sites of the Reform Party, along with sites belonging to several other political groups. Once they gained control of the sites, hackers posted a fake letter from Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip apologizing for ordering the removal of the World War II monument.

By April 29, 2007, massive data surges were pressing the networks and rapidly approaching the limits of routers and switches across the country. Even though not all individual servers were taken completely offline, the entire Internet system in Estonia became so preoccupied with protecting itself that it could scarcely function.

During the first wave of the assault, network security specialists attempted to erect barriers and firewalls to protect primary targets. As the attacks increased in frequency and force, these barriers began to crumble.

Seeking reinforcements, Hillar Aarelaid, chief security officer for Estonia’s Computer Emergency Response Team, began calling on contacts from Finland, Germany, Slovenia and other countries to assemble a team of hackers and computer experts to defend the country. Over the next several days, many government ministry and political party Web sites were attacked, resulting either in misinformation being spread or the sites being made partially or completely inaccessible.

After hitting the government and political infrastructure, hackers took aim at other critical institutions. Several denial-of-service attacks forced two major banks to suspend operations and resulted in the loss of millions of dollars (90 percent of all banking transactions in Estonia occur via the Internet). To amplify the disruption caused by the initial operation, hackers turned toward media outlets and began denying reader and viewer access to roughly half the major news organizations in the country. This not only complicated life for Estonians but also denied information to the rest of the world about the ongoing cyberwar. By now, Aarelaid and his team had gradually managed to block access to many of the hackers’ targets and restored a degree of stability within the networks.

Then on May 9, the day Russia celebrates victory over Nazi Germany, the cyberwar on Estonia intensified. Many times the size of the previous days’ incursions, the attacks may have involved newly recruited cybermercenaries and their bot armies. More than 50 Web sites and servers may have been disabled at once, with a data stream crippling many other parts of the system. This continued until late in the evening of May 10, perhaps when the rented time on the botnets and cybermercenaries’ contracts expired. After May 10, the attacks slowly decreased as Aarelaid managed to take the botnets offline by working with phone companies and Internet service providers to trace back the IP addresses of attacking computers and shut down their Internet service connections.

During the defense of Estonia’s Internet system, many of the computers used in the attacks were traced back to computers in Russian government offices. What could not be determined was whether these computers were simply “zombies” hijacked by bots and were not under the control of the Russian government or whether they were actively being used by government personnel.

Although Estonia was uniquely vulnerable to a cyberwarfare attack, the campaign in April and May of 2007 should be understood more as a sign of things to come in the broader developed world. The lessons learned were significant and universal. Any country that relies on the Internet to support many critical, as well as mundane day-to-day, functions can be severely disrupted by a well-orchestrated attack. Estonia, for one, is unlikely ever to reduce its reliance on the Internet, but it will undoubtedly try to develop safeguards to better protect itself (such as filters that restrict internal traffic in a crisis and deny anyone in another country access to domestic servers). Meanwhile, the hacker community will work diligently to figure out a way around the safeguards.

One thing is certain: Cyberattacks like the 2007 assault on Estonia will become more common in an increasingly networked world, which will have to learn — no doubt the hard way — how to reduce vulnerability and more effectively respond to such attacks. Perhaps most significant is the reminder Estonia provides that cyberspace definitely favors offensive operations.
24231  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 2-4 day DBMA Camp with Guro Crafty on: April 18, 2008, 12:12:46 PM
TTT with this.

One of the first decisions is whether this will be a two or a three day camp.  With Bruno coming in, I would love for it to be three days, but would like to get a sense of how many people would come for three days.

So, who is in for three days?

PS:  I've edited the name of this thread to include the dates in question to help clue people in.
24232  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 4/20 Guro Crafty at Surf Dog's in Hemet, CA on: April 18, 2008, 11:55:18 AM
It looks like Iron Dog will be coming cool
24233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: April 18, 2008, 10:47:08 AM
THE FOUNDATION
“Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities... With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason and the mind becomes a wreck.” —Thomas Jefferson

PATRIOT PERSPECTIVE
No ObamaNation Part 2: Disciple of Hate
By Mark Alexander

(Part 2 of 3 on Barack Hussein Obama)

Part One of this series, “Barack who?”, provided insights into how Obama’s tragic childhood formed the pathological foundation for his narcissistic ambition.

This essay examines how Afrocentric Liberation Theology and its message of hate have wedded Obama’s anger and ambition and defined his worldview. This radical belief system is, after all, a hybrid of black supremacist doctrine and “social gospel” Marxism.

In advance of the Pennsylvania primary, Obama displayed his disdain for middle America’s faith and values at a closed-door San Francisco fundraiser: “You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest... it’s not surprising they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

In other words, according to Obama, their faith is a byproduct of bitterness. While this sentiment might have been a hit with the chardonnay-sipping elite of Marin County, it hasn’t played well in Peoria. Or in Pennsylvania, which holds its crucial presidential primary on 22 April.

In the parlance of psychology, this assessment would be classified as projection. Indeed, Obama’s “faith” does have bitter origins, and he assumes, errantly, that such bitterness is the root of all faith.

He also alluded to bitterness in mid-March: “We’ve got a tragic history when it comes to race in this country. We’ve got a lot of pent-up anger and bitterness... The anger is real. It is powerful, and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.”

To date, Obama has passed on charm alone, all fragrance, no substance. So little is known about Obama that when it was discovered that his mentor, the man he identifies as most influential in his life, has discipled him in Afrocentric Liberation Theology for more than 20 years, that presented an excellent opportunity to gain real insight into Barack Hussein Obama.

That mentor is Jeremiah Wright, just retired as head holy man of Trinity United Church (TUC) of radical black political theology. Wright officiated at Obama’s wedding, baptized their two daughters and is credited by Obama for the title of his book, The Audacity of Hope.

So who is this mentor, this chief spiritual advisor to Obama?

Here is a portrait of Wright in his own words from the pulpit: “The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. The government gives [black people] drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strikes law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, g*d d*** America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people. G*d d*** America for treating our citizens as less than human. G*d d*** America for as long as she acts like she is god and she is supreme.”

Wright calls America “the US-KKK-A” and says the nation is “controlled by and run by rich white people. Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run. We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in god. And. And-and! God! Has got! To be sick! Of this sh*t!”

“We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back to our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”

Lest anyone mistake who he felt was to blame for 9/11, and who he felt deserved punishment, Wright elaborated in 2005: “White America got a wake-up call after 9/11. White America and the Western world came to realize that people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just disappeared as the great white West kept on its merry way of ignoring black concerns.”

How did Obama respond when asked about his pastor’s false and vicious tirade? “It sounds like he was trying to be provocative,” he said.

It worked.

On Israel, Wright claims: “The Israelis have illegally occupied Palestinian territories for over 40 years now. Divestment has now hit the table again as a strategy to wake the business community and wake up Americans concerning the injustice and the racism under which the Palestinians have lived because of Zionism.”

Perhaps that explains Hamas’ endorsement of Obama?

In December 2007, Wright presented the TUC’s “Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Trumpeter Award” to a man who “truly epitomized greatness,” Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam and a consummate anti-Semite. “When Minister Farrakhan speaks, Black America listens,” says Wright. “His depth on analysis when it comes to the racial ills of this nation is astounding and eye opening. He brings a perspective that is helpful and honest.”

Recently, Wright compared Obama to Jesus, saying, “Barack knows what it means to be a black man living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people. Hillary can never know that. Hillary ain’t never been called a nigger.”

TUC’s mission statement, since removed from its website, noted the congregation’s “Commitment to the black values system,” or as Wright notes, “Similar to the Gospel movement in Nicaragua during the whole liberation theology movement.” The statement continues, “Commitment to the black community... black family... adherence to the black work ethic... supporting black institutions... pledging allegiance to all black leadership who have embraced the black values system.”

That is a very dark mission statement.

A current mission statement notes, “Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain ‘true to our native land,’ the mother continent, the cradle of civilization.”

Wright was, himself, a disciple of James Cone, one of the original champions of Black Liberation Theology, who wrote the following in his seminal work, Black Theology and Black Power: “Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community. Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love.”

Wright quotes Cone on TUC’s website: “The time has come for white America to be silent and listen to black people... All white men are responsible for white oppression... Theologically, Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man ‘the devil’.”

When asked if he would leave TUC (as if that would make everything copacetic), Obama said, “This is somebody who I have known for 20 years [who] led me to Christ. He is a biblical scholar. He is a well regarded preacher and somebody who is known for talking about the social gospel.”

In other words, “No.”

But when pressed, Obama invoked his own version of Bill Clinton’s “I didn’t inhale” defense. Indeed, after 20 years of being fed the Wright stuff, Obama said, “I did not hear such incendiary language myself, personally, either in conversations with him or when I was in the pew.” Yeah, right.

Clinton’s disclaimer registers much higher on the truth meter.

A prominent member of Wright’s congregation says, “He has impacted the life of Barack Obama so much so that he wants to portray that feeling he got from Rev. Wright onto the country because we all need something positive.”

Wright himself told The New York Times a year ago, “If Barack gets past the primary, he might have to publicly distance himself from me. I said it to Barack personally, and he said ‘yeah, that might have to happen’.”

Translation: Any distance between Obama and Wright is contrived purely for political expedience. All the bitterness and hatred is seething right under the surface.

Now that Obama’s wafer-thin layer of shellac is peeling away, some moderate Demos, and more than a few superdelegates—who hitched their wagon to this most Leftwing of Lefties—are concerned that Obama is leading their party into a black hole. As they learn more, however late, about Obama’s black-nationalist and Marxist roots, they correctly see his election prospects growing dimmer.

At this point, Hillary Clinton is looking better to moderates, but her only chance to become the Demos’ nominee is to turn almost all of the superdelegates at convention, and her campaign can do that only with a bombshell.

(Next week—No Obamanation Part 3: Barack the Radical)

Quote of the week
“There is [a] class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs—partly because they want sympathy, and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs... There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don’t want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public.”—Booker T. Washington in his 1911 book, My Larger Education

On cross-examination
“In Barack Obama’s America, rich people who vote on cultural issues rather than economic self-interest are principled and self-sacrificing. People of more modest means who do so are credulous and bitter... With Barack Obama’s ‘postracial’ appeal having proved illusory but Democrats likely to nominate him for president anyway, the party faces a difficult problem: how to persuade Americans to vote for the spiritual protégé of a man who espouses crackpot anti-American and antiwhite views.”—James Taranto

Open query
“Why did you give $22,500 just two years ago [and more than $26,000 in 2007] to a church run by a man of the past who infects the younger generation with precisely the racial attitudes and animus you say you have come unto us to transcend?... This contextual analysis of Wright’s venom, this extenuation of black hate speech as a product of white racism, is not new. It’s the Jesse Jackson politics of racial grievance, expressed in Ivy League diction and Harvard Law nuance. That’s why the speech made so many liberal commentators swoon: It bathed them in racial guilt while flattering their intellectual pretensions. An unbeatable combination.”—Charles Krauthammer


Patriot Post
24234  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / 3 days worth on: April 18, 2008, 10:32:37 AM

"'Tis done.  We have become a nation."

-- Benjamin Rush (on the ratification of the Constitution, letter
to Boudinot, 9 July 1788)

===========

"A dying man can do nothing easy."

-- Benjamin Franklin (after his daughter asked him to move,
17 April 1790)

Reference: The Life of Franklin, Sparks, vol. 1 (531)

=============


"What a glorious morning this is!"

-- Samuel Adams (to John Hancock at the Battle of Lexington,
Massachusetts, 19 April 1775)

Reference: American Statesman: Samuel Adams, Hosmer (297)

24235  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Las Siete Distancias de DBMA on: April 18, 2008, 12:23:52 AM
Las siete distancias del combate real con palos
por Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Ignorar las siete distancias es arriesgarse a sentir la ira del rattan"

Actualmente, en los Estados Unidos, la mayor parte de sistemas de artes Marciales Filipinas ense?an el concepto de distancia mediante la divisi?n en tres de ellas Larga, Media y Corta. Algunos sistemas prefieren una distancia en concreto otros otra y algunos prefieren trabajar en las tres por igual. Larga se define normalmente como la distancia que puedes golpear la mano armada de tu adversario. Media define la distancia en la que puedes golpear la cabeza o el cuerpo de tu oponente y en la que tu mano viva (?sea la mano que queda libre cuando se combate con un ?nico palo) puede atrapar cualquiera de las extremidades del oponente. Corta es la distancia en la que el pu?o del palo y la mano libre pueden golpear la cabeza o cuerpo del oponente.

Para la mayor?a de los m?todos de ense?anza en los Estados Unidos, esas distancias son suficientes. A?n as?, algunas escuelas en la Filipinas est?n organizadas en mas distancias que simplemente esas tres. En Estados Unidos se tiende a asumir que esas distancias "extra" son subdivisiones de las b?sicas y, como tales, probablemente muy espec?ficas y especializadas. Algunos de nosotros quiz?s los m?s antiguos en esto, puede que recordemos una historia de Kung -Fu relativa a Guro Dan Inosanto contada a principios de los a?os 80 referente a su capacidad como maestro de artes marciales filipinas. En el art?culo hay fotos suyas demostrando muchas mas que las tres distancias gen?ricas. Del mismo modo en mi breve pero valioso entrenamiento con Ramiro Estalilla gran maestro de eskrima Kabaroan, me vi expuesto a un concepto de distancia que es muy diferente a los de la teor?a de " Las tres distancias". Menciono estos ejemplos porque quiero que quede claro que a pesar de que el sistema Dog Brothers Martial Arts puede ser distintivo en el uso de las siete distancias, por eso no quiero decir que sea el ?nico estilo con mas de tres distancias o que es superior a dichos estilos.

En nuestra primera serie de videos (La segunda esta al salir) la cual protagonizo Eric "Top Dog" knaus nuestro mejor luchador (y el mejor que he llegado a ver), organice las cintas con la idea de mostrar t?cnicas con ejemplos de su aplicaci?n en combates reales.

Grabamos luchas durante muchos a?os antes del primer UFC ( Utimate Fighting Championship). En aquellos d?as la mayor parte de las artes marciales filipinas se hab?an desviado de lo "marcial" y se acercaban m?s al entorno del arte. Creo que este proceso hacia la faceta de arte propicio el arraigo en los Estados Unidos. Recuerdo como mi maestro nos dec?a muchas veces durante las clases que la mayor?a de los americanos no resistir?an mucho tiempo bajo los m?todos de ense?anza de los maestros nativos de Filipinas.

Cuando salieron nuestras cintas mucha gente pens? que no se ve?a un estilo bonito en nuestra forma de luchar y que todo el estilo de lucha tradicional que hab?an aprendido era falso. Muchos de aquellos que intentaron sin ?xito emplear sus m?todos y rutinas de lucha culparon a sus maestros. Mucha gente comprendi? entonces el mensaje de Los Dog Brothers. Todos los luchadores del m?s alto nivel de los Dog Brothers ( Top Dog , Salty Dog, Sled Dog y yo mismo) tenemos una considerable formaci?n tradicional bajo los mejores maestros de artes marciales filipinas en el mundo: Gran Tujon Leo Gaje, del sistema Pequiti Tirsia, el legendario Guro Dan Inosanto y el posterior Punong Guro Edgar Sulite en particular. El mensaje de nuestras primeras cintas fue que pens?bamos que muchos de los practicantes de artes marciales filipinas en Estados Unidos en 1.992 ten?an una uni?n muy d?bil: la falta de trabajo duro en las bases del entendimiento de lo que es un luchador. Este asunto del "entendimiento del luchador" tambi?n explica el por qu? la habilidad en la ense?anza no conlleva necesariamente la habilidad en la lucha. En las filipinas, la gente entiende el significado de su formaci?n porque al menos han visto luchas con palos - normalmente los viernes por la noche despu?s de la pelea de gallos. Al igual que alguien se puede beneficiar de la ense?anza de Muay Thai sin necesidad de subir al Rin, tambi?n el entrenamiento en el arte de la lucha filipina con palos beneficia a aquellos que no son luchadores.

En contraste, cuando este arte llega a los Estados Unidos virtualmente ning?n practicante hab?a visto anteriormente una lucha con palos ni se hab?a visto envuelto en una. Necesitamos recordar que los m?todos tradicionales de ense?anza fueron desarrollados en las filipinas por guerreros, que ya pose?an conocimientos y habilidades luchadoras. Aqu? en los Estados Unidos tratamos de usarlos para desarrollar estas habilidades desde cero. Lo cual es un asunto totalmente distinto y luego culpamos los m?todos en vez de a nosotros mismos cuando no somos capaces de luchar. Por lo tanto al organizar los primeros videos de Los Dog Brothers tome la decisi?n de organizar el material principalmente pensando en el entrenamiento en solitario, al mismo tiempo que trataba de comunicar la esencia b?sica de la lucha con palos. Esto no significa que todos los ejercicios de ense?anza basados en la practica para dos personas no sea importante, simplemente no lo mostramos en estos videos.

Todav?a me preocupaba el porque la gente pude ser buen maestro y no luchador. Me di cuenta que la mayor parte de la gente ense?a rutinas de entrenamiento para dos hombres, las cuales son principalmente en las distancias media o corta, a pesar de que la mayor parte de las luchas empiezan en la distancia larga. As? que mucha gente se esfuerza en ser mas r?pidos y m?s fuertes y no tienen ni idea de c?mo llegar a la distancia donde pueden emplear esa habilidad correctamente. Por lo tanto en muy pocas ocasiones o en casi ninguna son capaces de demostrar sus habilidades en la lucha. Y el entendimiento de esto nos condujo a la teor?a de las siete distancias.

Un an?lisis objetivo revela que dos de las siete distancias residen fuera de la larga, media y corta y dos est?n dentro de ellas. Esas distancias no se agolpan una encima de la otra como ladrillos, pero pueden sobreponerse como los eslabones de una cadena. Entiendan tambi?n que esto solo es una forma de hablar y no se debe tomar muy al pie de la letra. Usando una met?fora de Jeet Kune Do" Una vez que la barca te lleva al otro lado del r?o no necesitas acarrearla en tu espalda para continuar el viaje", las luchas son din?micas y en el combate las distancias se mezclan r?pida y flexiblemente.

Distancia de la serpiente

Como he estudiado y sido golpeado por Top Dog durante varios a?os he llegado a apreciar su forma ?nica de moverse antes de establecer el contacto, ambos palo y pie. Esto le distingue a ?l de todos los otros luchadores que he visto - algunos se formaron en el mismo sistema Pequiti Tirsia. Me gusta ponerle apodos a las cosas, as? que a la particular forma de mover su palo le puse el nombre de "el palo serpenteante".

En el Arte Marcial de Los Dog Brothers definimos "Serpiente" como la habilidad de mover tu palo para proteger tu mano, ocultar tu intenci?n, crear tu apertura, y enmascarar tu ataque. A pesar de que el punto de inicio se basa en lo que hace Top Dog tambi?n hacemos los movimientos de otros luchadores de alta calidad. No hay una estructura, incluida la de los mejores luchadores, que funcione perfectamente para todo el mundo por igual ni pueda solucionarnos todos los problemas.

Estudiando la distancia de la serpiente en nuestro sistema, incluye tambi?n como analizar y resolver la estructura de tu oponente. Si puedes reconocer r?pidamente la estructura de tu oponente y conocer sus puntos fuertes y d?biles tienes menos t?cnicas que elegir y por lo tanto puedes reaccionar m?s r?pida y eficazmente. Tambi?n es importante recordar que hay veces en una lucha controlada, del mismo modo que situaciones en la calle, en las quieres evitar el contacto y mantener al o a los oponentes a distancia. El desarrollo de esta habilidad es parte tambi?n del curr?culum de la distancia de la Serpiente.

Distancia de palo cuadrado

La distancia de palo cuadrado tambi?n esta m?s lejos que la distancia larga. Es la distancia donde las armas chocan una con otra. Puesto que luchamos principalmente con palos, es la distancia donde cada palo golpea al otro ( es el momento de la lucha palo a palo), de aqu? viene su nombre. Cuanto m?s corta sean las armas, por ejemplo, navajas, esta distancia pierde su importancia. Sin embargo, cuando las armas son m?s largas comienza a ser esencial. En una lucha b?sicamente con palos, dependiendo de su din?mica, esta distancia puede ser muy importante para un luchador que la entienda. Por ejemplo, cuando dos hombres de caracter?sticas similares se enfrentan con cualquier tipo de arma, es muy probable que las armas hagan contacto entre ellas antes de que se llegue al contacto cuerpo a cuerpo. Hay tres conceptos b?sicos de la lucha de palo cuadrado: Ir contra la fuerza, Unirse a la fuerza, Converger con la fuerza. La mayor parte de los luchadores de artes marciales, posiblemente entiendan " ir contra la fuerza" y algunos con experiencia con palos notaran que "seguir la fuerza" no es tan importante en el primer golpe de un intercambio de golpes, sin embargo muchos luchadores no est?n tan familiarizados con lo que llamamos " Converger con la fuerza". Mi apreciaci?n de este concepto me fue indicada por el gran maestro Ramiro Estalilla, cuyo sistema Kabaroan, es muy interesante, usa muchas armas largas. Simplemente, una Convergencia es, en la terminolog?a de Los Dog Brothers donde la fuerza de mi golpe en el arma de mi oponente esta aproximadamente en un ?ngulo de 90 ? de la l?nea de la fuerza de su golpe, por ejemplo a mitad de camino entre chocar contra su fuerza y acompa?ar a su fuerza. El prop?sito de la convergencia es golpear el arma de tu oponente, desviarla de su trayectoria y quitarle el control de tal modo que puedas crear una apertura para tu siguiente golpe. Hay una serie de ?ngulos en los que puedes lograr desarmar a tu oponente con un simple golpe en el arma. Comprender totalmente esta distancia puede darnos una considerable ventaja y abrirnos la puerta en una lucha compuesta solamente en las distancias larga ,media y corta.

Distancia de lucha cuerpo a cuerpo

Esta es la distancia en la que ambos luchadores se enzarzan mientras est?n de pie. Corta puede ser una distancia similar aunque normalmente es un poco m?s larga, y tiene una din?mica muy distinta. En distancia corta, aparte de la posibilidad de atrapar, los luchadores no est?n agarrandose el uno al otro; en la lucha cuerpo a cuerpo lo est?n por definici?n. Casi todas los ataque se realizan sobre una l?nea alta. Tratar de lanzar un golpe bajo desde una distancia larga es muy peligroso ya que expondr? la parte superior y posterior de la cabeza contra un golpe de plena fuerza de tu adversario. Debido a la necesidad de ir con la cabeza protegida, la posici?n de los brazos en el momento del enganche suele ser distinta a los habituales agarres de los ejercicios de manos vac?as. Del mismo modo hay diferencias importantes en su din?mica, cualquiera que haya sido golpeado en la cabeza con un punyo (El pu?o del palo), golpeado en el estomago, o le hayan dado un buen porrazo en el cuello o arrojado un palo, puede dar testimonio de esto. Adem?s, en una lucha cuerpo a cuerpo con palos es muy com?n abrirse posteriormente para ponerse en la distancia de golpeo. Esas diferencias, sin embargo no cambian el hecho de que para ser un buen luchador en el cuerpo a cuerpo tus conocimientos deben de estar sustentados sobre una buena base. - ignorarlas es tu propio riesgo.

Lucha en el suelo

La lucha de palos de los Dog Brothers es como el juego del Pinball (maquinas el?ctricas) en el que tres bolas se sueltan al mismo tiempo. Si prestas demasiada atenci?n a una sola bola, y no sigues a las otras, la maquina se las traga. Similarmente en la lucha con palos entran en juego simult?neamente las manos vac?as y la lucha con palos - y al igual que el juego del Pinball puedes alcanzar muchos puntos si prestas atenci?n a las tres bolas. Por ejemplo, Si el hombre al que estas vigilando y busca una posici?n como inicio para saltarse tu guardia como lo har?a con las manos vac?as, utiliza el palo y golp?ale en el codo con tu Punyo y tr?etelo hacia ti, donde podr?s utilizar la pelea con palos y darle con el. La posici?n de guardia en el suelo puede ser muy agresiva cuando se tiene un palo en la mano. En la lucha con palos en el suelo es muy com?n que uno o ambos luchadores sean desarmados o pierdan el palo y lo recuperen posteriormente. Por lo tanto, puede ser una situaci?n muy normal que solamente uno de los dos luchadores posea el palo. Ser ambidiestro es muy ventajoso. Y, como en la lucha de pie, la lucha en el suelo tambi?n se abre hacia atr?s creando huecos para las distancias de golpeo.

Como maestro al mismo tiempo que luchador, mi experiencia es que este concepto de las siete distancias es muy ?til. Un luchador entrenado en esas distancias adicionales ver? incrementada sus cualidades como peleador y alcanzar? una mayor comprensi?n de todas las t?cticas y situaciones. No estar? desconcertado en como moverse entre las distancias larga, media y corta. Y tendr? una mente m?s compuesta y un claro sentido de la misi?n respecto a como entrar t?cnicamente en esas distancias, con la compostura necesaria para hacer que su oponente sienta la "Ira del rattan". Del mismo modo, cuando se establezca la lucha, tendr? la destreza y el conocimiento para responder m?s r?pida y espont?neamente.
24236  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Stickgrappling en espanol on: April 18, 2008, 12:22:43 AM
Stick Grappling
Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny

El Kali se enfrenta al Jiu Jitsu Brasile?o.

Cuando las artes marciales salen de su pa?s, abandonan el ambiente en el que fueron creadas. Guardar su esencia tradicional mientras dan respuesta a nuevas condiciones, puede convertirse f?cilmente en un esfuerzo Sisyfiano.(Aqu? podr?amos sustituir esta palabra por algo mas sencillo) Las artes marciales filipinas (FMA) se enfrentan en Am?rica a un mundo muy diferente a la jungla en la que se desarrollaron. El extraordinario nivel de sofisticaci?n del entrenamiento de las artes marciales Filipinas, desarrollo sistemas mas seguros para practicar con armas y con las manos desnudas. El entrenamiento que te deja f?sicamente da?ado puede provocar serias lesiones o incluso la muerte en una situaci?n donde el enemigo puede aparecer en cualquier momento sin previo aviso.

Sin embargo cuando el arte lleg? a Am?rica se presento un nuevo problema. La gente que venia a las clases padec?a una falta del "Conocimiento del luchador" del arte. A pesar de que muchos pod?an aprender las t?cnicas y los m?todos de entrenamiento, no pod?an luchar. Es comprensible, en la practica, la mayor?a de ellos no hab?an visto nunca una lucha con palos. Imag?nense no haber visto nunca un partido de futbol y que le muestren un diagrama de una jugada en la pizarra y le digan: "Esto es lo que tienes que hacer". El primer juego seria una aut?ntica sorpresa.

En contraste, en muchos lugares tradicionales de las Filipinas ten?an lugar luchas con palos todos los viernes por la noche, despu?s de las peleas de gallos. Incluso los que nunca hab?an participado en una de estas luchas, ten?an conocimiento de ellas por haber visto a otros aplicar los entrenamientos a la vida real. Pero los practicantes fuera de las filipinas no han vivido esto. Todos ellos oyeron las historias de los "Combates a muerte" entre legendarios luchadores con palos como Floro Villabrile como relata en su libro " The Filipino Martial Arts" Dan Inosanto.Y eso no es precisamente la clase de cosas que anima a uno a probarlo. Ciertamente hubo algunos individuos que probaron sus habilidades en duelos, pero esos eran la excepci?n. En conjunto, cuando las extraordinariamente combativas y efectivas artes de las Filipinas abandonaron su hogar y enraizaron en USA corrieron el peligro de ser acaparadas principalmente por los que sus t?cnicas de lucha consist?an b?sicamente en girar los palos y desarmar.

Alrededor de 1986, en este vac?o llego una banda que se describ?a as? misma como "Sudorosos y mal olientes psic?patas con palos" que m?s tarde llegar?a a ser conocida como los Dog Brothers.
En el coraz?n de este grupo estaban Eric Knaus, Marc Denny y Arland Sanford; pronto se les conoci? como Top Dog, Crafty Dog y Salty Dog, respectivamente. Knaus era el mejor luchador del grupo. Sanford de Santa Fe, Nuevo M?xico, se encontr? con Denny y Knaus por primera vez en un torneo en 1988 en el que lucho durante su exitosa tercera carrera por el titulo nacional. Para Knaus y Denny los torneos eran solamente una manera de atraer gente para que pudieran ver m?s all? y en Sanford encontraron un ?vido y vigoroso practicante. "El me destrozo la u?a del dedo gordo la primera vez que luchamos" cuenta Denny.

Una de las cosas principales que los mantiene juntos es que ellos luchan pr?cticamente sin protecciones. Como Sanford dice: "Yo quer?a saber si lo que hab?a estado aprendiendo val?a de algo o estaba perdiendo el tiempo". El grupo creci? y sus luchas se desarrollaron. En 1988, justo antes de la revoluci?n del Brasilian Jiu-Jitsu, a propuesta de Denny se permitieron los agarres.
Esto llego a ser muy importante para el grupo de luchadores. Se dieron cuenta de que hab?a un enlace com?n entre todas las artes, quizas ocurrio cuando el sur de Filipinas, Indonesia y Malasia y el sudeste de Asia formaban parte del imperio Majapahit.

La realizaci?n de los videos del grupo con la Panther Productions en 1.992 - 93 hechas con la filosof?a "Si lo ves ense?ar, lo ves pelear" le abrio los ojos a mucha gente. Algunos cuestionaron las mascaras de esgrima y los guantes de hockey. Para la mayoria de los espectadores, sin embargo los enormes hematomas, K.O.S, huesos rotos y las salpicaduras de sangre hicieron que esas criticas parecieran rid?culas. Pero una de las partes mas controvertidas de la serie fuera la qinta cinta que mostraba luchas con agarres que conclu?an en el suelo. Dentro de la comunidad de las artes marciales filipinas algunos vieron los agarres como prueba de que las mascaras y los guantes precedian a que el "arte real" fuera conocido mayoritariamente . Los huesos rotos y los K.O.S no eran suficientes. Parec?a como si solamente un "combate a muerte" pudiera complacerles.
Pero desde la perspectiva del "Cafty Dog" estas quejas eran err?neas. ?Qu? es lo que quieren? En su ?poca de mayor vitalidad la organizaci?n de los UFC nos busco para luchar con armas en un evento especial entre las semifinales y las finales. Pero despu?s de que vieran lo que hac?amos, nos escribieron una carta comunic?ndonos que hab?an decidido suspender nuestro combate porque le parec?a "Demasiado extremo" para el UFC. Nosotros apostamos por la vida, no por la muerte. La intenci?n que perseguimos es crecer en el arte, no matar ni mutilar personas. Por supuesto que en algunos casos el agarre ocurre en virtud de un encadenamiento o t?cnica intermedia de los luchadores. Sabemos eso. Pero en 1988, justo antes de la revoluci?n del Jiu-Jitsu Brasile?o (BJJ), a sugerencias de Denny se permitieron los agarres."Consideramos que hacemos una lucha que empieza con palos, no una lucha de palos". El explica, "Habr?a sido artificial prohibir los agarres cuando la experiencia nos dec?a que se produc?an. No hay que darles mas vueltas al asunto, es as?. Sin embargo durante un par de a?os, excepto por el descubrimiento de Eric del agarre para estrangular, nosotros no sab?amos con claridad que lo est?bamos haciendo. Carl Franks, un estudiante de Ricson Gracie de Hawai, hab?a luchado con nosotros en 1.987 y 1.989 en la Academia de Inosanto, y yo hab?a visto una pel?cula pirata de Gracie de aquella ?poca. Chris Hanter me presento a los Machado (sobrinos de los Gracie) en el verano de 1990 y yo ya estaba listo para actuar. Siendo el m?s viejo y el m?s peque?o de los tres que form?bamos el coraz?n de la manada, me pareci? una buena idea.

Sin dec?rselo a los otros, Denny en aquel entonces conocido como el "Crafty Dog" empez? a entrenar con los Machado. En esta pre-era del Brasilian Jiu-Jitsu, el resultado fue electrizante. Eric Knaus el "Top Dog" quedo impresionado y empez? tambi?n a entrenar con los Machado. (El profesor de Crafty, el legendario Dan Inosanto, empez? a entrenar con los Machado un par de a?os m?s tarde ante la insistencia de Crafty y ahora entrena con ellos cinco d?as a la semana).Sanford el "Salty Dog" , fue perezoso en apuntarse. No habia BJJ en Santa Fe, Nuevo M?xico en 1.990. Asi que cuando se le acabo la meta del surfing le llego la ola del ahogarse, se convirti? en un instructor de May Thai bajo la direcci?n de Ajarn Chai Sirisute y se introdujo en el Krabi Krabong, el arte de las armas militares del cual deriva el deporte del May Thai.

Un hombre entrenado en el arte de aproximarse puede hacerlo sorpresivamente contra la mayoria de los oponentes sin golpearlos en absoluto. Si tu dominaras la distancia "larga" y has trabajado las t?cnicas de aproximaci?n, puedes hacerlo t?cnicamente.

Yo creo que la resistencia de algunas personas de las AMF en esta cuesti?n no es diferente de lo que supuso la revoluci?n de BJJ cuando mucha gente sufri? un ataque emocional y dijo que los agarres no se pod?an permitir, no importa que los hechos demostraran lo contrario. S?, por supuesto que esto es diferente porque se trata de un arma. Pero los hechos demuestran que los agarres se producen algunas veces. Si, hay gentes a las que no puedes acercarte, Salty Dog me viene a la mente. Pero aunque tengas la experiencia de ir contra un "aproximador" lo mas probable es que no seas uno de ellos. Y si no has desarrollado la habilidad para acercarte contra los palos lo mas probable es que recibas una buena paliza."

Otra critica que se les hace a los Dog Brothers es que todo ese "revolcarse por los suelos" como dec?a un descontento en la carta que env?o a una revista que lo que hac?amos no eran "autenticas" Artes Marciales Filipinas. Para Crafty Dog la respuesta tiene dos partes, "lo primero seria ?y qu?? Nuestro inter?s es autentico. En segundo lugar en las artes marciales filipinas existen los agarres, normalmente conocidos como Dumog y a veces como Buno. Continuamos buscando pero desgraciadamente se conoce muy poco de esto en los Estados Unidos. Cuando yo entrenaba con el Gran Tuno Leo Gaje (el maestro de Top Dog y Sled Dog) en las Filipinas el verano pasado, tuve mi primera experiencia en este tema. Pero la verdadera cuesti?n es, ?Qu? vamos a hacer al respecto?. Ignorar el JJB porque no es Filipino. ?D?nde estar?an hoy los Brasile?os si Carlos y Helio Gracie hubieran tenido la misma actitud hace 70 a?os porque el Jiu-Jitsu japones no era brasile?o? La gente de las artes marciales filipinas en Manila est?n trabajando BJJ ahora ?por qu? no ?bamos a hacerlo nosotros? ?Si alguien descubre la rueda, voy a seguir en con mi trineo voy a coger esa rueda, asimilarla y perfeccionarla?. Esto es lo que las artes marciales Filipinas han hecho siempre y esta es la raz?n por lo que son tan buenas. Las AMF siempre han estado abiertas a lo extranjero y a sus influencias. Por ejemplo la espada y daga tiene una fuerte influencia de los espa?oles. As? mientras yo reconozco la validez de la cuesti?n "?Es autentica las AMF incluyendo al BJJ?" . Pienso que lo es si trabajamos constructivamente sobre los supuestos del coraz?n del arte. "Si no lo hacemos as?, entonces los puritas tendr?n raz?n".

Desde la primeras series de videos la lucha ha seguido evolucionando hacia los agarres con palos con Crafty Dog al frente de los Dog Brothers. En mi opini?n el agarre con palos es una habilidad avanzada. Como prerrequisitos se necesita una gran habilidad para acercarse al contrario, as? como una buena habilidad a distancia media y corta en AMF, ser preferiblemente ambidiestro, y como m?nimo tener la habilidad de un cintur?n azul equivalentes en agarres. (Crafty es purpura con los hermanos Machado igual que Top Dog) " Es como el juego del pinball, cuando la maquina suelta tres bolas a la vez. Tienes que repartir tu atenci?n porque si te concentras demasiado en una sola bola, las otras se te colaran por el agujero. En el agarre con palos utilizamos el Kali para hacer que nuestro oponente cometa un error de jiu-jitsu para que podamos finalizar con un agarre con el palo. O por el contrario utilizamos el Jiu-Jitsu para hacer que cometa un error de Kali. Es muy emocionante y un buen juego para un luchador de mas de 49 a?os como yo disponer de estos trucos en la mochila.
24237  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: April 18, 2008, 12:10:52 AM
Amen to that -- and kudos to the officer.
24238  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Indonesia hoards bird flu virus samples on: April 17, 2008, 03:26:38 PM
Recipe for a Pandemic
April 18, 2008
Over nearly 60 years, the World Health Organization has developed sophisticated systems for monitoring the emergence of seasonal influenza and possible pandemics as well as arming scientists with the tools to develop vaccines. Now, one country is jeopardizing all that, putting itself and the rest of the world at risk.

The culprit: Indonesia. Its Health Ministry refuses to give the WHO avian flu virus samples taken from Indonesian victims. This matters because sample sharing allows experts around the world to track mutations of the virus and spot dangerous mutations. Even more important, sharing allows researchers to develop vaccines.

Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari asserts that Indonesian bird flu is a form of intellectual property, from which the country should benefit. Whether that means Indonesia simply wants to ensure affordable access to any vaccine developed from its samples – or whether Jakarta will demand a share in the profits – is unclear. Ms. Supari has complained in the past of labs using Indonesian samples for "commercial" reasons, raising the question of where she thinks vaccines come from, if not from private companies with a profit motive. Of almost 60 bird flu cases in the past year, Indonesia has given WHO all of two samples – but only for surveillance, not vaccine research. They were from high-profile cases in Bali, and Jakarta worried that tourists would stay away.

The dispute may partly be due to domestic politics. Ms. Supari evidently thinks this viral nationalism plays well in public opinion. She published a book earlier this year titled "It's Time To Change: Divine Hands Behind Bird Flu," in which she speculates the U.S. uses virus samples to conduct research on biological weapons. Next year is an election, and Ms. Supari is becoming a favorite of various Islamic groups, on which President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono could end up depending.

Whatever Jakarta's motivation, without the samples it's much harder for researchers to develop any vaccine. Viruses mutate constantly. That's especially true in Indonesia, which has the highest number of cumulative bird flu infections – 132 since 2003, compared with 106 in Vietnam. Without samples from those cases, researchers can't tackle the most up-to-date form.

The worst-case scenario would be for a virulent strain to evolve in Indonesia and catch researchers by surprise, because they have no experience working with its predecessors. Even if scientists do develop a vaccine based on samples from, say, Vietnam, they have no way of testing its efficacy against the Indonesian variety. All together, it's a recipe for a pandemic, particularly if other countries start following Jakarta's lead.

Indonesia's leaders now say they want a speedy resolution to the sample-sharing dispute. In a meeting this week with U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt, the Coordinating Minister for the People's Welfare, Aburizal Bakrie, promised to finalize an agreement within two months.

There's no time to waste. Of the 240 human bird flu deaths reported in 12 countries since 2003, 107 have been in Indonesia – 12 already this year. The next highest cumulative death toll is 52 in Vietnam. Better to share samples now and allow scientists to develop a vaccine than scramble to do so when a pandemic hits.

But the world will have vaccines to protect against the avian flu virus only if scientists are able to carry out research. By hoarding samples and trying to tinker with the financial incentives that drive pharmaceutical innovation, Indonesia is endangering everyone.

WSJ
24239  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary and BO on: April 17, 2008, 03:14:38 PM
The Democrats and Gun Control
By DAVID KOPEL
April 17, 2008; Page A19

Imagine an election race of Pat Robertson versus James Dobson, each of them appearing at organic grocery stores and Starbucks throughout Massachusetts, with each candidate insisting that he alone deserves the vote of gay-marriage advocates. An equally silly spectacle is taking place these days in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky, as Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama compete for the pro-gun vote.

 
Mr. Obama supports the Second Amendment – or so his surrogates have been claiming all over Pennsylvania, the state with the highest per-capita membership in the National Rifle Association. The effort was set back last weekend with the publication of Mr. Obama's remarks claiming that people in small towns in Pennsylvania and other Midwestern states "cling" to guns because they are "bitter" that the government has not solved their economic problems.

Mrs. Clinton shot back with an excellent speech in Valparaiso, Ind., recounting that her father had taught her how to shoot when she was a little girl. "People enjoy hunting and shooting because it's an important part of who they are," she said. "Not because they are bitter."

 
Surely she is right. The shooting sports culture in Pennsylvania was thriving long before the domestic manufacture of steel began to decline. Indeed, that culture was thriving before steel was invented. Pennsylvania's 1776 state constitution declared "That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state . . ." A separate provision guaranteed "the liberty to fowl and hunt in seasonable times."

However, having the right to arms and the liberty to hunt is worthless if you can't buy a gun. In 1999, Mr. Obama urged enactment of a federal law prohibiting the operation of any gun store within five miles of a school or park. This would eliminate gun stores from almost the entire inhabited portion of the United States.

As a state senate candidate in 1996, Mr. Obama endorsed a complete ban on all handguns in a questionnaire. The Obama campaign has claimed he "never saw or approved the questionnaire," and that an aide filled it out incorrectly. But a few weeks ago, Politico.com found an amended version of the questionnaire. It included material added in Mr. Obama's handwriting.

When the U.S. Supreme Court voted last year to hear a case on the constitutionality of the Washington, D.C., handgun ban, Mr. Obama's campaign told the Chicago Tribune: "Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional" and that "local communities" should have the ability "to enact common sense laws." Other than Washington, D.C., the only American cities with handgun bans are Chicago and four of its suburbs. As a state senator, Mr. Obama voted against a 2004 bill (which passed overwhelmingly) to give citizens a legal defense against prosecution for violating a local handgun ban if they actually used the firearm for lawful self-defense on their own property.

Mr. Obama's campaign Web site touts his belief in the Second Amendment rights to have guns "for the purposes of hunting and target shooting." Conspicuously absent is the right to have firearms to defend one's self, home and family. In 2001, as a state senator, Mr. Obama voted against allowing the beneficiaries of domestic violence protective orders to carry handguns for protection.

Yet, as Mr. Obama has mockingly pointed out, Mrs. Clinton is not exactly a modern-day Annie Oakley wiling away weekends in a duck blind. As first lady, she helped organize the Million Mom March for "sensible gun laws" in 2000. It was led by the shrill gun prohibitionist Rosie O'Donnell.

Mrs. Clinton has repeatedly voted for antigun proposals, and co-sponsored many of them. After Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans and St. Tammany police confiscated guns from law-abiding citizens, violating an explicit Louisiana law. In some cases, the confiscation was carried out with the assistance of federal agents, and was perpetrated via warrantless break-ins into homes.

The next year, the U.S. Senate voted 84-16 for a homeland security appropriations rider stating: "None of the funds appropriated by this Act shall be used for the seizure of a firearm based on the existence of a declaration or state of emergency." Mrs. Clinton was one of the 16 who voted "no." Mr. Obama commendably voted with the majority.

Forty states currently allow most law-abiding adult citizens to carry concealed handguns for lawful protection, after a background check and (in almost all such states) a safety class. Of course those laws only apply to carrying within the relevant state. Mr. Obama told the Chicago Tribune in 2004 that he favored a national ban on concealed carry, to "prevent other states' laws from threatening the safety of Illinois residents." Mrs. Clinton campaigned against a licensed carry referendum in Missouri.

Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama voted against legislation to stop mayors from suing gun manufacturers and gun stores because of gun crime. That legislation banned lawsuits only if businesses had complied with all laws regarding firearms manufacture and sales.

A presidential candidate could of course swear devotion to the First Amendment, while declaring that the amendment's purpose is to protect sports reporting and book collecting. And that candidate could still support government lawsuits against publishers, local bans on newspapers, and draconian restrictions on political commentary.

Civil libertarians who supported such a candidate because of his alleged love for the First Amendment would be foolish. Civil libertarians who support Mr. Obama or Mrs. Clinton because of their purported fealty to the Second Amendment may be bitterly disappointed.

Mr. Kopel is research director of the Independence Institute and co-author of the law school textbook, "Gun Control and Gun Rights" (NYU Press, 2002).
WSJ
24240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / from PD WSJ on: April 17, 2008, 02:42:07 PM
Many liberals exploded in anger last night over the fact that Barack Obama was asked by ABC moderator George Stephanopoulos for the first time to explain his relationship with William Ayers, a former member of the 1960s terrorist group Weather Underground, which set off bombs in the Pentagon and Capitol.

Mr. Ayers, asked in the Sept. 11, 2001 New York Times if he regretted his actions, said he only wished he had set off more bombs.

Mr. Obama knew enough to try to distance himself from Mr. Ayers. "This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from.... The notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense, George."

What disturbed liberals most was not that the question brought back the turbulent 60s, but that its genesis apparently came from conservative Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Mr. Stephanopoulos was on Mr. Hannity's radio show on Tuesday, and was asked why no one in the media had asked Mr. Obama about the association with Mr. Ayers. Mr. Stephanopoulos told the radio audience he was writing down all the information Mr. Hannity was giving him.

"It's a question that should have been asked a year ago, it's about time," Mr. Hannity e-mailed me last night. George did not seem to even know about it till I told him. The left wing blogs are going nuts over this (and crying foul)."

That's understandable, given that the way Mr. Obama handled the question almost guarantees he will have to address it again. But that doesn't mean the issue is illegitimate or inappropriate. It just means it's finally been raised in a campaign that has given Mr. Obama too many passes on his background.

-- John Fund

Hillary's Doggedness Vindicated

Since neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton will have enough in elected delegates to clinch the nomination when the primaries end, last night's ABC debate largely had them trying to influence one elite audience: the superdelegates who will represent almost 20% of the Democratic convention floor vote and who will decide the nominee.

Based on last night's performance, Mr. Obama shouldn't expect a lot of superdelegates to break for him in the near future. Most observers agreed that, faced with the toughest questioning he has ever gotten in a debate, he was tense, evasive and obscure in many of his answers. Even blogger Andrew Sullivan, a fervent Obama supporter, acknowledged that he was "having an awful night."

He singled out Mr. Obama's insistence that the capital gains tax be raised even after confronted with evidence that previous cuts had actually led to higher revenues. Mr. Sullivan noted that "Obama's convoluted capital gains tax answer was a brutal reminder to folks like me that he is indeed a redistributionist, and someone who seems to see the tax system as a way to decide what people 'deserve' to have and keep. Ugh."

Last night's debate demonstrated one thing: Hillary Clinton's strategy of hanging on in hopes that Mr. Obama will lose luster over time hasn't been a bad one. She is still unlikely to win the nomination, but she has even more reason now to keep fighting until the last primary is held in June.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"On Rev. Wright he took a direct hit. He couldn't get off the treadmill and just kept making things worse. On William Ayers he was tough and in your face, but it came off defensive and clearly put him further off his stride. It was clear he wasn't used to it.... Obama hasn't had this type of questioning before. No doubt his supporters will be upset, while Clinton's supporters likely feel it was long overdue. The truth is that [ABC News moderators] Gibson and Stephanopoulos asked questions that have been on people's minds, but nobody else in the media had the spine to bring up" -- liberal blogger and radio host Taylor Marsh.

Quote of the Day II

"All the signs point to a big Democratic year, and I still wouldn't bet against Obama winning the White House, but his background as a Hyde Park liberal is going to continue to dog him. No issue is crushing on its own, but it all adds up. For the life of me I can't figure out why he didn't have better answers on Wright and on the 'bitter' comments. The superdelegates cannot have been comforted by his performance" -- New York Times columnist David Brooks, blogging last night's debate.




24241  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyberwar on: April 17, 2008, 11:29:08 AM
Summary
The online hacker community is strongly individualistic, though it does exhibit a number of characteristic ideologies. An ideological underpinning is not a prerequisite to being a hacker, and many ideologies are not mutually exclusive. Any one actor might subscribe to none, many or a unique amalgam. But these basic ideologies should be considered and understood in any meaningful discussion of cyberwarfare.

Analysis
Related Special Topic Page
Cyberwarfare
Related Links
Cyberspace as Battlespace: Evolving Threats
MEMBERS-ONLY PODCAST

Cyberwarfare: A Glossary of Useful Terms
Interactive Cyberwarfare Timeline
Cyberwarfare 101: The Internet Is Mightier Than the Sword
Cyberwarfare 101: Black Hats, White Hats, Crackers and Bots

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of analyses on the emergence of cyberspace as battlespace.

The personal motivations driving individual hackers are virtually infinite. But there are a handful of dominant ideologies that can offer insight into the mindsets and motivations of much of the larger hacker community. Not all hackers subscribe to or are driven by these beliefs, but most are shaped or affected by them in some fashion.

Any discussion of these ideologies must begin with the basic Hacker Ethic, the founding principle of the hacker community.

Hacker Ethic
Interpretation of this ethic can vary, but it essentially entails the following beliefs:

Information should be free and accessible to all.
Access to computers should be unlimited.
Computers and the Internet can be a force for the betterment of humanity.
Authority is not to be trusted.
The principle of decentralization goes hand-in-hand with all of the above.
These fundamental principles, and variations thereof, are commonly held in the hacker community and have evolved over time into some of the ideologies described below.

Exploration
The basic principles of exploration — an outgrowth of the Hacker Ethic and the first ideology many hackers adopt — are to look into every corner of the Internet and bypass any security simply for the sake of improving skills and learning how to navigate cyberspace covertly. In the process, explorationists generally try to leave no trace and to avoid any damage to the system (which would, inherently, be evidence of their intrusion). Many of this ideology’s tenets originate from newer versions of the Hacker Ethic — especially the white-hat version, which emphasizes benevolent rather than malevolent actions.

Informationism
Another outgrowth of the original Hacker Ethic is informationism, which holds that information should be allowed to flow freely throughout the Internet and, by extension, throughout all human societies. Hackers who embrace this ideology often have specific areas of interest they monitor to identify developments and actors that they might percieve to be limiting the free flow of information. Once these hackers identify constraints, they attempt to remove them by a variety of means, from simply rerouting data to removing security protocols to staging comprehensive network attacks — essentially making that information free through force.

Altruism
The tenets of altruism vary greatly, depending on the person subscribing to it, but often they are based on an individual’s beliefs regarding the Internet and are often associated with what are considered positive actions intended to serve a perceived public good. These tenets can include the free flow of information, security preservation and user protection. In some ways, altruism can be understood as a variation of the Hacker Ethic with a benevolent bent. But because it all comes down to a personal perception and world view, “altruistic” hackers may sometimes perform actions that seem quite malicious to others (e.g., shutting down Web sites that are believed to be blocking the free flow of information).

Hacktivism
Hacktivism promotes the use of hacking to accomplish political goals or advance political ideologies. Depending on the campaign, these actions may involve both white-hat hackers and black-hat hackers and can include Web site defacement, redirects, DoS attacks, virtual sit-ins and electronic sabotage. Many hacktivist actions often fall under the media radar but their political, economic, military and public impact can be significant.

Nationalism
Although a rare hacker ideology, nationalism can envelop large portions of the community given the right cause or circumstance. By their very nature, hackers are individualists who rarely pledge allegiance to other hackers or groups, let alone countries. This is partially due to the fact that the Internet itself and the hacker community it supports have their own cultural elements — indeed, some of the other motivations discussed above often supersede or transcend national identity. There are situations, however, when hackers can be motivated to act in what they perceive to be the best interests of their respective nations. When these situations arise, powerful alliances can quickly emerge that often possess greater capabilities and resources than many developed nations. This ideology is particularly relevant to cyberwarfare.

An outgrowth of nationalism is an ideology not often discussed: when hackers unite to protect not their nation but their community. Thus far, sufficiently explosive or inspiring conditions to unify such a disparate community have been rare. But the potential remains — and is perhaps growing greater in an increasingly wired world.

Rally Around the Flag
Much like nationalism, the “rally around the flag” ideology is rare in the hacker community, but when it emerges and builds a large following it can yield a significant power. Basically, rally around the flag refers to any situation that mobilizes large numbers of hackers behind a particular cause. The cause can vary or be governed by any number of ideological motives, but it is usually a cause that is sufficiently controversial or out of the ordinary to spark outrage and reprisal. Both nationalism and rally around the flag exemplify how certain ideologies can quickly join subnational and transnational hacker groups into fleeting alliances that can bring great force to bear on a target.

In these last two categories, the significance of the ideological motivation is the unifying factor. Once the skills and resources of a particular online demographic are amassed, a broad spectrum of attacks and targets are possible. One notable example was in 1999 during the NATO intervention in Kosovo, when Serbian hackers reportedly began carrying out attacks — from vandalism to larger distributed denial-of-service attacks — against all manner of targets in NATO member states. After the accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy, a second upsurge in attacks against targets in NATO countries began. The most recent example — and one of the most mature instances of the disruptive effect of this kind of incident — was the Estonian cyberwar in 2007.

24242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: April 17, 2008, 11:22:20 AM
Chinese-Americans play an important role in high tech and we have seen some cases wherein the Feds have accused some of them of espionage.  I know you follow these issues-- can you comment on this?
24243  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jack Kemp to BO on: April 17, 2008, 11:19:22 AM
Second post of the morning:

Obama and Economic Opportunity
By JACK KEMP
April 17, 2008; Page A19

Dear Barack,

Greetings, it's me again, giving more advice and taking you up on your thoughtful suggestion to open up a national discussion and dialogue on race and racial reconciliation in America.

First of all, some historical perspective, not for you senator, but for my other readers.

 
I believe all great achievements in our nation's progress toward social, legal and economic justice have been led by a combination of agitation and idealism. From the Founders in 1776, to the Civil War waged to save the union and abolish slavery, to the Civil Rights Movement which began to fully integrate African Americans into the electoral and economic mainstream, we have wrestled with, debated and discussed the next steps that are needed toward "a more perfect Union."

Each great era of progress was led by men and women of conviction who challenged us to live up to the highest ideals of our nation, who declared in a very radical way that we are all God's children. This ideal was not even close to reality until the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, both of which were aimed at abolishing the last vestiges of the evil practices known collectively as "Jim Crow."

This month I thought about April 15 not just in terms of taxes (they're too high and complex), but because of a great African-American agitator, Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in baseball on that date and helped lead all professional sports to higher levels of excellence and performance.

Barack, as we fast-forward to today, I contend we've successfully integrated the U.S military, the arts and entertainment, and sports at all levels. The one area of American life that is still very separate and very, very unequal is our economy. Many people of color have risen spectacularly against the odds – Oprah Winfrey, Bob Johnson, Magic Johnson, Whoopi Goldberg and many other professional athletes, entertainers and businessmen and women of whom we can be proud. Still, we need to look at all those left behind, all those you have spoken of who today lack economic opportunity to climb the ladder of wealth, ownership and asset creation so central to achieving the American Dream.

As Jesse Jackson said at a Wall Street Project conference I attended, "Capitalism without capital is nothing but an ism." Truer words were never spoken. Look at the great fortunes generated by the Carnegies and Mellons, the Rockefellers, Guggenheims and others. These were established in an economic climate of sound money with very low taxes on income, estates and capital gains.

Before you start thinking, "There goes Kemp again, calling for a kind of laissez-faire approach to capitalism," let me note that incentives in the tax code to encourage investment have been championed at one time or another by both political parties – from Coolidge to Kennedy and from Reagan to Rangel. (Charlie Rangel to a lesser degree, but my old friend co-sponsored enterprise zones, with Joe Lieberman and me, that actually zeroed out capital gains taxes and has called for a cut in corporate income tax rates.)

In my opinion, people of all colors and income levels don't hate the rich. They want to get rich. They're more interested in generating wealth than they are in redistributing wealth. They want to own property, educate their children and build a nest egg that can be passed on to their heirs. Unfortunately, some aren't able to access the same ladder of opportunity that is so readily available to the majority.

As I'm fond of saying, you can't get rich on wages, you have to earn, save, invest, reinvest and pass on to your children the products of your labors.

Senator, I believe our tax code punishes this process of upward mobility, especially for people of color, and in some cases it actually prevents people from escaping poverty. In this respect, I believe your economic views are short-sighted. You've pledged to raise income tax rates to 39.5% and lift the cap on payroll taxes, which would end up raising the top rate on income to 52% or more. You also want to raise dividend taxes to 39.5% and capital gains to 28%, plus you want to return to a confiscatory 55% "death tax." Unwittingly, your plans would prohibit most black Americans, indeed most Americans, from ever getting rich or even richer. Your economic ideas, sincere as they are, would weaken the economy, weaken the dollar, and weaken our chances of reducing poverty and unemployment.

It's my strongly held belief that we should be working to democratize our free-enterprise, private property-based system. We can do this by expanding empowerment zones and offering zero capital gains taxes for those who invest there; by reforming the tax code to open access to capital; and by providing more school choice in urban America.

As for the housing sector, we should listen to my former colleague Bruce Bartlett, who has called for the repeal of this year's $117 billion tax rebate, and to redirect the money into a package of measures that would help those homeowners who actually need assistance to save their homes.

By giving people access to capital and allowing them to take ownership of assets, entrepreneurship will be encouraged and the cycle of poverty can begin to be broken. All persons should have the opportunity to go as high as their merit and determination can carry them. My favorite quote is from Abraham Lincoln, who said, "I don't believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good. So while we do not propose any war upon capital, we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else."

Lincoln's definition of entrepreneurial capitalism is the best I have ever heard. I believe that a bipartisan consensus could be reached in America on a 21st-century war on poverty that takes the best of the "center left" and the best of the "center right" on the reforms necessary to make the American Dream accessible to all our people. We may have a long way to go, but I remain an optimist about improving the human condition, expanding our democratic ideals, and forming a true partnership with private enterprise.

I love what Bobby Kennedy said in Bedford-Stuyvesant in 1968: "To ignore the potential contribution of private enterprise is to fight the war on poverty with a single platoon, while great armies are left to stand aside."

Barack, let's get together with, say: John Bryant of Operation Hope in Los Angeles; Ambassador Andrew Young of Good Works International; Bob Woodson of Neighborhood Enterprise Foundation in Washington, D.C.; Ted Forstmann of Forstmann Little & Company in New York; Russell Redenbaugh, a U.S. civil rights commissioner in Philadelphia; and economist Art Laffer. We can discuss how best to tackle the issue you raised in your March 18 speech, when you identified the lack of economic opportunity for people of color as one of our nation's greatest challenges.

Any interest, sir?

Mr. Kemp is a former congressman, the 1996 Republican vice presidential candidate, and a former secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
24244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 17, 2008, 10:47:00 AM
'10% of GDP'
April 17, 2008; Page A18
Is Washington looking in the wrong place for financial market risk to taxpayers? According to a new study by Standard & Poor's, the answer is yes.

Congress is disturbed about the bailout risk from the Federal Reserve opening its discount window to borrowing from investment banks and broker-dealers. That's a reasonable concern, especially with the Fed guaranteeing $29 billion in dodgy Bear Stearns paper. But according to S&P, the "maximum potential cost" of bailing out Wall Street would be below 3% of GDP, assuming a deep and prolonged recession. That's painful, but not catastrophic.

Guess where the far greater danger comes from? If you said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, you are a faithful reader of these columns and we bow before you. According to the S&P study, the taxpayer risk from Fan and Fred, combined with that of other government-guaranteed agencies, "yields a potential fiscal cost to the government of up to 10% of GDP." With total U.S. GDP estimated at somewhere north of $14 trillion, that would put the Fan and Fred bailout cost at about $1.4 trillion. Yowza. This "fiscal burden" would be so large, in fact, that S&P figures it could even jeopardize the AAA credit rating of the U.S. government.

These are the same two companies, by the way, that have recently had their capital requirements reduced and their jumbo mortgage lending limits increased to a maximum of $729,750. New York Senator Chuck Schumer, among many others on Capitol Hill, had browbeaten the Bush Administration until it eased those limits. Capital is of course the only cushion taxpayers have against a bailout if Fan and Fred keep racking up losses. Better hope this recession isn't deep.

WSJ
24245  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China's organizational capabilities in the US on: April 17, 2008, 12:02:31 AM
Beijing’s Obvious Hand at the U.S. Olympic Torch Run
April 16, 2008
Related Links
2008 Olympics: Beijing’s Hopes and Hurdles
China: Protests and Beijing’s Olympic Conundrum
The Olympic Torch in San Francisco
By Rodger Baker

The April 9 Olympic torch relay in San Francisco opened a window into the organizational capabilities of the Chinese government and its intelligence collection apparatus inside the United States. From the coordinating efforts of the city’s Chinese Consulate, down through local Chinese business and social organizations, and on to the pro-China supporters who photographed the event, the operation showed an efficiency and organizational capability not seen among the anti-China demonstrators. The run also revealed a high level of sophistication, planning and control in the pro-China camp.

A Day of Confusion
The torch relay in San Francisco proved a mixed bag of anti-China and pro-China demonstrators, as well as spectators simply hoping for a glimpse of the symbol of the Olympic Games. Pro-Tibet and other demonstrators altered their tactics in San Francisco following clashes surrounding the torch run in London and Paris — where pictures of a protester with a Tibet flag trying to snatch the torch from a handicapped torchbearer left the protesters looking worse than China. As a result, the demonstrators in San Francisco planned to impede the progress of the relay rather than attempt to extinguish the torch or interfere with the actual torchbearers. The massive gathering at the beginning of the torch route, and the blocking of a bus carrying Chinese security officials and items related to the torch run, triggered the organizers of the relay to change the route completely. In part, then, the protesters interrupted the relay effectively, though not in the manner they had hoped.

The on-the-fly changes in the torch relay route, which left many spectators waiting down near the piers when the torch was running along the hills several blocks away, allowed the relay to progress relatively smoothly, interrupted only a few times by protesters attempting to block the route or by a few demonstrators bearing little sign of affiliation with the Tibetan or Darfur causes who threw water balloons at the torch. The heavy police and Diplomatic Security Service presence around the torch runners largely kept demonstrators on the sidewalks, while the moving roadblocks and the unclear torch route left demonstrators unsure of where they could amass to intercept it. The security organizers, then, were relatively successful in their efforts to allow all planned participants to carry the torch with minimal interference.

In the end, neither protesters nor security “won” the day. Amid the confusion, however, the groups that showed a very strong sense of organization and planning were the pro-China demonstrators. Their coordination demonstrated the ability of the Chinese government, via its local consulate and its association with overseas Chinese organizations, to rally and coordinate large-scale activities inside the United States — and to use these activities for intelligence collection.

Pro-China Preparation
By 8 a.m. April 9, the pro-China demonstrators were taking up positions along the planned torch relay route, pulling in groups carrying Chinese, U.S. and Olympic flags, and equipped with cases of food and water. However, these were not spontaneous gatherings of overseas Chinese supporting the motherland, as Beijing media have portrayed them. Rather, there was a coordinated effort between local Chinese business and social associations and the consulate to attract, equip, deploy and coordinate the large pro-China turnout. This is in contrast to the Free Tibet, Save Darfur and other anti-China protesters — who often seemed disorganized.

By some estimates, as many as 50 busloads of Chinese from other parts of California were brought to San Francisco. Many of them paid (by some accounts $300 each) to come out for the day in support of Beijing. They were placed in groups along the anticipated torch relay route and given Chinese and Olympic flags, as well as American flags (the latter a tactical move to show they were not anti-U.S., but rather pro-China — a distinction made all the more apparent by the fact that most anti-China protesters did not carry U.S. flags, and some also were critical of the U.S. government).

In addition to those bused in from out of town, many of the local Chinese business and social organizations were involved in fielding groups of pro-China supporters, and these were similarly equipped. Most groups also were supplied with cases of water and food — something not seen among the anti-China demonstrators, who appeared more a gathering of individuals than prearranged groups. One local Chinese organizer was overheard saying they had spent some $30,000 on food and water for the day of the torch run — perhaps not a large amount overall, but a clear investment to ensure that there was group cohesion among the pro-China demonstrators.

In addition to many older overseas Chinese posted along the route, there also were numerous Chinese of college age, many representing several overseas and mainland Chinese student associations. Some carried a large flag representing China’s Tsinghua University, which produces many top Chinese officials, and among the others were local chapters of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association. During the run, some of these students challenged the American Free Tibet or Saver Darfur protesters to discussion, asking, for example, whether they had been to Tibet or diverting accusations of Chinese military support to Sudan with counteraccusations of U.S. military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan. In general, the Chinese side kept the confrontations rather civil, seeming to have been well prepared to respond (suggesting they had been provided with materials on how to respond in advance). On numerous occasions, however, the anti-China demonstrators in these one-to-one confrontations would resort to their own chanted slogans or just shout that the Chinese were liars.

The organization of the pro-China contingent was further demonstrated by its self-policing efforts. While the anti-China demonstrators ignored the barriers along the route and moved into the streets, far fewer pro-China demonstrators did so. When one did cross, the pro-China group would shout at them to return behind the barriers and “follow the rules.” There was clearly a concerted effort to make the Chinese demonstrators appear as the more controlled, more peaceful and less confrontational participants — part of a broader PR strategy.When confronted by a large group of pro-Tibet demonstrators, for example, the Chinese often simply ignored the repeated cries of “China lies, people die” and instead broke into song, effectively ending the exchange.

Instigation and Intelligence Collection
There was at least one exception to the restraint shown by the pro-China demonstrators, however, suggesting they were not entirely the innocuous gathering they sought to portray. On numerous occasions, individuals or small groups carrying cameras would seek to incite the anti-China demonstrators to acts of confrontation or violence, frequently by parading through the middle of a group of Free Tibet or Save Darfur demonstrators with a large Chinese flag, walking back and forth through the group. In some cases, small scuffles broke out — and pictures were snapped — though the anti-China demonstrators soon deployed individuals to try to keep the two opposing sides separated. The same day, Chinese media ran photos of pro-Tibet demonstrators shoving pro-China demonstrators, “proving” their point that the Tibet supporters are violent.

It was no accident that the photographs appeared so quickly in the Chinese media. In addition to the demonstrators, numerous individuals were sent out with cameras. Although cameras are expected at such an event, many of the photographers were collecting images either for Chinese propaganda purposes or to identify anti-China demonstrators in order to identify pinpoint “troublemakers” who might be planning to attend the Olympics in Beijing. With their pictures on file, Chinese authorities can then either deny their visas or monitor them more closely when they arrive in China.

In addition, Beijing has been trying to locate the organizers of anti-China protests and demonstrations overseas, ones who may be planning action in China, in order to infiltrate their groups and gather intelligence on their planned activities. This is not new for Beijing — as the Chinese Embassy official who defected in Australia a few years ago demonstrated by revealing the details of Chinese infiltration of and spying on Falun Gong supporters in Australia. Beijing also has been seeking out U.S. and other foreign academics for their insights on potential demonstrations in Beijing, hoping to get information about individuals and tactical details of plans in order to pre-empt or at least effectively counter them.

In addition to the intelligence collection efforts and the careful organization and coordination of the pro-China demonstrators in San Francisco, electronic countermeasures also were used to disrupt the communications and activities of the anti-China demonstrators. In some cases, the cell phones of the anti-China organizers were spammed with prank calls and text messages in order to limit their effectiveness as a coordinating tool — particularly as the torch changed routes. There also were unconfirmed cases of limited cell-phone jamming, likely using the short-range cell-phone jammers that were popular a few years ago. These created intermittent and isolated interference with cell-phone reception, further deteriorating the communications and coordination ability of the anti-China demonstrators.

Beyond San Francisco
Furthermore, China did not limit its activities to San Francisco. It also organized a smaller response to the Dalai Lama’s visit to Seattle, Wash., a few days later. Chinese Consul General in San Francisco Gao Zhansheng sent a letter to University of Washington (UW) President Mark Emmert urging him and other UW officials to refrain from meeting with the Dalai Lama or from giving him a platform for political or “separatist” activities. Additionally, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association sent an open letter to the UW leadership and met briefly with Emmert and Provost Ed Taylor, asking them to limit the Dalai Lama’s opportunity to use his visit for political reasons. Several hundred pro-China students also staged a demonstration outside the Dalai Lama’s speaking venue in Seattle on April 14, using the Internet to coordinate banners, chants and actions.

Throughout the United States there have been reports of other group actions by Chinese students and activists, from Internet-based activity promoting boycotts of French goods following the Paris torch relay to a push to “correct” foreign media coverage of the Tibet riots and the Tibet issue overall. But there also have been more aggressive instances. For example, at least one Chinese student at Duke University received threats after attending a pro-Tibet rally, while others have had their personal information, including their phone numbers and Chinese identification cards, posted on the Internet bulletin board hosted by the university’s Chinese Student and Scholar Association (the association denied responsibility, saying those postings were the actions of individuals). The students’ concern, however, is that the information will get back to Chinese authorities and thus undermine their future prospects in China or even lead to further harassment of themselves or their families.

China has had a long reach into the Chinese community in the United States for quite some time, and frequently uses this community for espionage, both within the community itself and against American companies, the military and the technology and political spheres. Also, Chinese consulates in the United States have helped facilitate pro-China gatherings in the past. However, while it already was known that China was anxious to restore its image after the Tibet unrest and the trouble with the torch run in London and Paris, the effort and coordination Beijing exhibited in San Francisco, through the consulate and local Chinese business and social organizations, was rather impressive.

There are no estimates of the number of pro- and anti-China demonstrators at the San Francisco event, though the former easily totaled several thousand. Additionally, the actions of the pro-China camp, along with the supporters’ placement along the anticipated route, demonstrated a much more centralized and coordinated organization than the anti-China groups — and revealed the depth to which the Chinese government can organize and deploy its overseas population, even in the United States.

24246  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyberwar on: April 16, 2008, 12:18:00 PM
Summary
Most Internet “hackers” who are sufficiently capable to engage in cyberwarfare have little real affiliation with states (regardless of their citizenship in the real world). Skilled cyberwarriors can be fiercely individualistic and anonymous, though several broad classifications help give definition to the community and highlight some of the major types of actors in cyberspace.

Analysis
Related Special Topic Page
Cyberwarfare
Related Links
Cyberwarfare: A Glossary of Useful Terms
Interactive Cyberwarfare Timeline
Cyberwarfare 101: The Internet Is Mightier Than the Sword
Cyberspace as Battlespace: Evolving Threats
MEMBERS-ONLY PODCAST

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of analyses on the emergence of cyberspace as battlespace.

Before considering the role of a state’s power in cyberspace, it is important to identify and understand the transnational actors who populate it — particularly those who can manipulate the environment. The Internet is an environment defined by its users, and the average user is utterly powerless in terms of cyberwarfare — i.e., wreaking havoc on governments and institutions. But there are some individual actors who wield considerable power. Even average users can contribute unwittingly to this power, serving as conduits for destructive worms and viruses that can hijack individual computers and servers.

As the rise of al Qaeda has reminded the world of the power of the nonstate actor, so too has the rise of the individual hacker. The most powerful lone-wolf hacker may have even less grounding in the traditional political landscape than a motivated jihadist — and is perhaps even less likely to be affiliated with a national government.

A hacker can be many things. For our purposes here, it is someone with sufficient understanding, skill and experience in the nuances and inner workings of computer systems and networks to be able to wield meaningful power and influence events in cyberspace — even if only in concert with others. Such a person must then actively choose to exercise that capability and act boldly on that stage (hacking is almost universally illegal).

A given hacker’s ideology may be flexible or rigid, but the potential power of these individuals does raise new questions about national allegiance. The United States, for example, has dealt with nonstate actors as proxies for decades (e.g., the Afghan mujahideen). Computer hackers are another matter. Often strongly individualistic (and occasionally anarchistic), the smartest and most skilled are not necessarily interested in — or eligible for — work inside government agencies or the military (one of the core tenets of the so-called “Hacker Ethic” is that authority is not to be trusted). A country must consider these “free agents” inside its borders as well as those outside. Often indifferent to matters of state, a hacker’s attention can quickly turn and become an asset or a threat to state authority.

Black Hats
The most threatening hackers are known as black hats, or “dark side” hackers. These are hackers whose primary activities and intentions are malicious and often criminal. Black hats attempt to locate, identify and exploit security gaps or flaws within operating systems, computers and networks in order to gain control of them, steal information, destroy data or orchestrate other illicit activities. Once access to a system has been obtained, a black hat may take measures to establish continued covert access.

White Hats
The antithesis of the black hat is the white-hat hacker, also known as an “ethical” or a “sneaker.” White hats are ethically opposed to the abuse or misuse of computer systems. Like their black-hat counterparts, white hats actively search for flaws within computer systems and networks. These efforts often occur with systems in which a white hat has a vested interest or of which they have substantial knowledge. They distinguish themselves by either repairing or patching these vulnerabilities or alerting the administrator of the system or the designer of the software. Basically, white hats attempt to maintain security within the Internet and its connected systems.

However, some altruistic white-hat pursuits can appear to be quite malicious. A white hat may act with whatever he or she considers a “higher purpose.” The inherent conflict of white and black hat activities can also lead to online bouts between the two classes, in which both sides might use malicious tools to disconnect each other from the system or network. This may involve “back-hacking” — tracing the source of activity and infecting or attempting to disable the other hacker’s connection or system.

Other Hats
Other hackers “wear” colored or hybrid hats. Grey hats, for example, are a blend of the black hat and the white hat. Drawing on experience from both sides can make for a very robust skill set. Computer security professionals are often known as blue hats. Their activities are not unlike those of white hats but are more focused on the interests of paying customers. Hackers wear an assortment of other colored hats, and not all warrant definition here. We mention them only to illustrate the many shades and nuances found in the hacker community.

Cybermercenaries
Generally a black hat, a cybermercenary is an expert hacker for hire. For the right price, cybermercenaries can bring a considerable amount of resources to bear on a target. They are occasionally contracted to assist in network defense, though, as a general rule, cybermercenaries specialize in offensive and malicious acts: conducting denial of service (DoS) and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks; disabling, altering or defacing Web sites; electronic espionage; data theft or destruction; network warfare; and wholesale cyberwarfare. At times, the cybermercenary can be found supporting or conducting portions of a significant cyberwarfare strike (such strikes can be particularly manpower-intensive).

Cyberterrorists
Some observers don’t consider this a true category of hacker, since cyberwarfare attacks rarely inflict the kind of direct, physical damage associated with terrorism. Stratfor is not interested in this particular debate. We include the term simply to highlight the potential for cyberwarfare strikes to have an objective not of destroying data or bringing down a financial network but of creating conditions that may directly contribute to significant loss of life (e.g., hacking into an air traffic control grid), with that loss of life being the principal objective.

Coders
Many of the hackers described above are also coders, or “writers,” who create viruses, worms, Trojans, bot protocols and other destructive “malware” tools used by hackers. The ability to write computer code can be an invaluable skill for any hacker, though most coders focus specifically on the design of new and continually evolving software that makes Internet security an ongoing challenge.

Crackers
Crackers are hackers who circumvent or bypass copyright protection on software and digital media. The most prominent recent example of cracking was the “unlocking” of Apple’s iPhones in order to break software-imposed restrictions on the use of GSM cellular networks other than AT&T (which made a deal with Apple to be the sole provider of iPhone service). Of course, cracking has significant ramifications well beyond simply accessing the latest gadget. It also means that, regardless of whether a released software program has copyright protection, there are crackers diligently working to beat it. By making these programs and applications more available, crackers also increase the number of tools available to the online community.

Script Kiddies
Script kiddies represent an intermediate category of actor between regular computer user and hacker. A script kiddie is more knowledgeable about computers and the Internet than most users but has yet to develop the skills, experience and expertise to be a truly effective actor. Nevertheless, a script kiddie can have an impact on the wider online world. Prewritten programs accessible on the Internet can enable the less-skilled to perform many of the same functions as a seasoned hacker. Script kiddies know just enough to get themselves in real trouble or to bring real trouble to bear on others.

Bots and Zombies
Not all actors in cyberspace are human. This is not to classify every server and application in cyberspace as an actor. But there is a unique non-human actor in cyberspace known as a zombie, which is a computer wholly or partially controlled by a bot. A bot, for our purposes, is a parasitic program that hijacks a networked computer and uses it to carry out automated tasks on behalf of a hacker. Individual bots can be building blocks for powerful conglomerations of bots.

Such a gathering of bots is often accomplished by a bot herder, also known as a bot wrangler, which is a program designed to produce bots autonomously (a tedious and time-consuming process for a human hacker). A bot herder can replicate itself and create additional bot herders as well as bots. By using these wranglers, hackers can construct massive networks of bots and use these herders essentially as command and control nodes.

Once many bots and bot herders have been amassed, they can be consolidated into a collective computing network called a botnet, also called a “bot army.” This allows a single hacker to wield simultaneously the computing power of many thousands of machines — or more — and accomplish tasks that would otherwise be impossible with a single computer. Among these tasks are launching DDoS attacks, which can shut down Web sites, servers and backbone nodes; generating massive emailing and spamming campaigns; and disseminating viruses. Once these botnets are established, it can be extremely difficult to disband them and counter their decentralized attacks.

This is only a quick snapshot of the cyberspace population that at times transcends traditional geopolitical concepts like citizenship, national loyalty and international borders. Some countries and transnational groups are better at harnessing such individuals, either within their own borders or beyond. But most hackers also have ideological bents of their own.

stratfor
24247  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The English Language on: April 16, 2008, 12:08:19 PM
Enlarging the Anglosphere
By GORDON BROWN
April 16, 2008; Page A19

London

When Winston Churchill met President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the deck of the H.M.S. Prince of Wales in 1941, he spoke of the common bonds between Britain and America: "The same language . . . the same hymns . . . more or less, the same ideals." As he implied, the special relationship should be forged not merely by formal ties between governments, but by widening and deepening understanding and contact between people.

So, I want to suggest how our Atlantic relationship – which has always been rooted in something far more fundamental and lasting than our common interests or even our common history and common language – can be renewed and extended into new areas for a new generation.

First, I am proposing moving cooperation between our universities at a far higher level.

Members of my cabinet benefited from time at U.S. universities, Bill Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and the Marshall and Fulbright scholarships have been bringing U.S. and U.K. students into each other's countries for decades. But I want many more British and American university students to have the chance to study across the Atlantic.

Already some universities are planning to require all of their students to spend some time abroad as part of their degree. The principal of King's College in London and the president of New York University will convene a group to examine how cooperation between U.K. and U.S. institutions can be intensified, starting with the potential for expanding faculty and research exchanges. And I can give a commitment that British students who need financial support to pay the travel costs of taking up a term of study in the U.S. will receive that support.

Second, I am proposing cooperation on enterprise, so that young business leaders in each country regularly conduct exchanges and learn from each other. "Make Your Mark" – which champions entrepreneurship among young people in Britain – is linking up with the Kauffman Foundation in the U.S. to organize this November the first Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Third, I am proposing that – in the spirit of Andrew Carnegie – British and U.S. charities come together to discuss projects where working in common we can make a difference. The Hunter Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York have agreed to host a convention of U.S. and U.K. philanthropic charitable organizations, with participants including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And regulators on both sides of the Atlantic will discuss how rules governing donations to charities can help U.K. and U.S. charities work more closely together – in particular to make it clear how to register a charity here in Britain and qualify for tax benefits.

Fourth, building on well-established traditions of U.K.-U.S. collaboration – from Crick and Watson to the Human Genome Project – I am proposing that we strengthen even further our cooperation in health research. The Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research U.K. are working with the U.S. and other international partners to compile a comprehensive catalog of cancer mutations, in order to give us an even better chance of fighting this often-deadly disease. And as part of the planning for Europe's largest medical research center at St. Pancras, London, Prof. Sir Paul Nurse will bring together experts from America and Britain to increase our understanding of cancer, and improve treatment and rates of cure.

Fifth, by working together our two countries could make a huge difference in dealing with the impact of climate change. Britain's new Energy Technologies Institute – set up to do path-breaking, low-carbon research and development – is ready to link up with U.S. environmental research efforts.

Sixth, in an Internet age young people can, of course, talk to each other across continents. I want them to be able to meet each other, too.

Last month, the British Council launched the Transatlantic 2020 initiative to bring together young leaders from America, the U.K. and Europe. And Britain's "V" organization – which harnesses the energies of young people in community service – will build on their links with similar programs in America to explore ways in which our young people can volunteer in each other's countries.

Each of these initiatives offers a modern means of expressing our special relationship in the 21st century – bringing people together, increasing understanding, and realizing the potential for the greater good when our two nations work together. And they reflect today's more connected society, in which thousands of people who communicate across multimedia channels will now be able to visit, meet face to face, and gain knowledge and understanding that will benefit them, and both our countries.

In the last half-century the English language has become not only the language of Shakespeare and Twain, of J.K. Rowling and Cormac McCarthy, but of science, commerce, diplomacy, the Internet and travel.

So, finally, I propose that together Britain and America strive to make the international language that happens to be our own far more freely available across the world. I am today asking the British Council to develop a new initiative with private-sector and NGO partners in America, to offer anyone in any part of the world help to learn English.

America and Britain are separated by the thousands of miles of the Atlantic, and by our differing and always evolving national cultures. Yet there is still far more that unites us than can ever divide us. I believe that the future of our relationship can, if we choose, deliver far more even than it has achieved in its past. Not just for both our nations, but for the world.

Mr. Brown is Britain's prime minister.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus
24248  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 4/20 Guro Crafty at Surf Dog's in Hemet, CA on: April 16, 2008, 11:53:06 AM
Surf Dog says:

$80.00 dollars
Starts at 11:00am to 4:00pm
Where:  1532 S. Santa Fe Ave. (corner of santa fe and esplanade)
San Jacinto Ca 92583

24249  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington: The value of liberty on: April 16, 2008, 11:43:52 AM

"The value of liberty was thus enhanced in our estimation by
the difficulty of its attainment, and the worth of characters
appreciated by the trial of adversity."

-- George Washington (letter to the people of South Carolina,
Circa 1790)

Reference: Maxims of George Washington, Schroeder, ed. (16);
original The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Fitzpatrick, ed.,
vol. 31 (67)
24250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: April 16, 2008, 10:20:08 AM
 
 

Campaign-Finance Meltdown
April 16, 2008; Page A18
Someone get Harry Reid a handkerchief. On Monday, the Senate Majority Leader sent a letter to White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten lamenting the news that a Democratic nominee to the Federal Election Commission, Robert Lenhard, has withdrawn his name from consideration since the process is taking so long.

 
This is yet another nail in the coffin of the campaign-finance reform movement. One of its goals has been to reduce the role of "money" in elections, and thereby elevate the tenor of campaigns. Pretty much the opposite has resulted.

Amid a campaign season, the FEC has been languishing without a quorum of commissioners to rule on election-law questions. Democrats created the FEC standoff last year by attacking the confirmation of Bush nominee Hans von Spakovsky. This has mainly increased campaign-finance partisanship, for example by elevating the clout of so-called 527 groups, which run "independent" advertising on behalf of candidates. If you're George Soros, that means spend now, ask questions later. Thanks to Mr. Lenhard's untimely withdrawal, it will probably take "several months" for the Democrats to find a new nominee, Mr. Reid noted soberly in his letter. This means that if there are any campaign-finance violations this year, someone will be fined for it in, oh, say, 2011.

If Democrats really want the commission to get back to business, they should return to the protocol of confirming nominees in groups or in bipartisan pairs. Their behavior suggests what they really want is the politicized breakdown of the campaign-finance system.
WSJ

==============

PD/WSJ

Harry's Got His Back

Joe Lieberman is perhaps the most mild-mannered of Senators, but his fellow Democrats are stewing over the prospect of him giving a keynote address for his friend John McCain at the GOP National Convention in Minneapolis. Though nothing appears to have been decided, Lieberman staffers think it very likely that such a speech will be made.

Mr. Lieberman lost his Democratic primary in 2006 but ran and won in the fall as an independent. Because he never left the party and Democrats desperately needed his vote to reach the 51 seats required to control the Senate, he was allowed to become chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. But Democrats expect to gain seats in the November elections, leaving them free to punish Mr. Lieberman for his apostasy and strip him of his chairmanship. Columnist Robert Novak recently reported that some of Mr. Lieberman's colleagues are salivating at the prospect of punishing him for his pro-Iraq War views.

But Mr. Lieberman is a clever operator and one Democratic leadership aide admitted to The Hill newspaper "the bar would have to be very high" for any Lieberman behavior to trigger much retaliation.

The reason is that Connecticut Joe has a powerful supporter in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who continued to stand by him even after his 2006 primary loss to liberal Ned Lamont. "I can tell you Sen. Reid had talked to me a few times and said he knows there will be talk if we get more than 51 Democrats next year," Mr. Lieberman told The Hartford Courant this month. "As far as he is concerned, I will retain my seniority, et cetera, no matter how many Democrats there are next year."

Indeed, when asked yesterday if Mr. Lieberman's chairmanship would be in jeopardy in a more Democratic Senate, Mr. Reid told reporters tersely: "No."


Nonetheless, you can bet there will be a lot of clenched teeth and tongue-biting if Mr. Lieberman mounts the stage of the Minneapolis convention and endorses a Republican on national television.

-- John Fund

The Long Hello

Peter Keisler, former Acting Attorney General, has gone back to private practice in Washington DC. Why is this job-switch announcement news? Because Mr. Keisler's nomination to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals is pending -- and pending, and pending, and has been for two years.

Seeking to disperse the blame, Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy last month attributed the delay to the Bush administration's failure to give enough deference to home-state senators. On an earlier go-round, Mr. Keisler was blocked by Democratic Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Paul Sarbanes, on the grounds that the Bethesda resident didn't practice law in Maryland. More recently, Mr. Keisler has been blamed for arguing the Pentagon's case in favor of military tribunals in Hamden v. Rumsfeld. The New York Times apparently decided that doing his job at Justice qualified him as a "hard line movement conservative."

But there's some sign that pushback from Republicans, especially Sen. Arlen Specter, is starting to work. On the Sixth Circuit, a bipartisan deal is now afoot between Sen. Carl Levin and the White House, which nominated Democratic choice Helene White as a package deal with Republican choice Raymond Kethledge. A relative of Sen. Levin's, Helene White is often considered the reason for the deadlock on the Sixth Circuit, beginning when her nomination was blocked by Spence Abraham.

What's more, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday he would hold votes for three of the President's appeals court nominees by Memorial Day. Why the urge to be seen getting something done? Polls show John McCain besting either of the two possible Democratic nominees, and Senate Democrats likely recall how Republican complaints about "obstructionism" on judges helped defeat their then-leader Tom Daschle in his 2004 re-election bid. Nonetheless, Mr. Keisler would be wise to keep his day job a while longer.

-- Collin Levy

Quote of the Day I

"It reminds me of the moment back in 1971 when Richard Nixon proclaimed, 'We are all Keynesians now' -- eight years after Milton Friedman had published his book 'A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960' and about an hour and a half before a consensus built that Friedman's work consigned Keynes to the dustbin of economic history. Now it is Bush's turn to be the last man to join a losing proposition. In how many ways is this proposal not useful? First of all, as Chris Horner, the author of 'The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism,' shrewdly has pointed out, the Democrats desperately want Bush and the Republicans 'to take ownership' of the global alarmists' issues before he goes. This is important. Whatever restraint likely to be exercised by the Democratic Party majority next year will be induced by the political fear that the Republicans would be able to say I told you so if the Democrats' policies contract the economy and put yet more people out of work" -- Washington Times columnist Tony Blankley.

Quote of the Day II

"In politics, the clearer a statement is, the more certain it is to be followed by a 'clarification.' Obama and his supporters were still busy 'clarifying' Jeremiah Wright's very plain statements when it suddenly became necessary to 'clarify' Senator Obama's own statements in San Francisco. However inconsistent Obama's words, his behavior has been remarkably consistent over the years. He has sought out and joined with the radical, anti-Western left, whether Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers of the terrorist Weatherman underground or pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli Rashid Khalidi. Obama is also part of a long tradition on the left of being for the working class in the abstract, or as people potentially useful for the purposes of the left, but having disdain or contempt for them as human beings" -- Thomas Sowell, a scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, writing at RealClearPolitics.com.

Oberstar in the Way

Oil is at $114 a barrel, airline company profits are nothing but a dream and four U.S. carriers have filed for bankruptcy in just the past month. But House Transportation Committee Chairman James Oberstar will throw his legislative weight in front of the proposed merger between Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines in order to delay the deal long enough so a new president might stop it.

"We have no legal authority to block the merger, but we can continue to raise issues about it and ask the [transportation Department] and [Justice Department] to address them," Oberstar spokesman John Schadl told Politico.com. "Simply put: Jim may be able to run out the clock on this."

Mr. Oberstar, now in his 17th term, plans a blizzard of paperwork and hearings to slow down what he thinks could be a wave of consolidation and monopoly behavior in the airline industry. Executives at Delta and Northwest say their route structures overlap on only 12 long-haul routes and that the new carrier will be able to offer consumers a truly global airline.

But Mr. Oberstar is an old union man -- his father worked in the Minnesota mines for 40 years -- and he's convinced that Northwest, which is based in Minnesota, would lose its identity in a merger and stop flying to small, out-of-the-way towns in his area. Given the global forces buffeting the airline industry, Mr. Oberstar's parochialism strikes many as both short-sighted and paternalistic. After all, the worst airline service a small town can possibly get it is from a carrier that is no longer in business.

-- John Fund

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