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24551  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Self-Defense Law on: April 27, 2008, 03:32:46 PM
Thank you for getting the ball rolling on this.  I am hoping more people will chime in on this conversation.
24552  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: April 27, 2008, 08:01:41 AM
Twenty-Five Years Later, A Nation Still at Risk
April 26, 2008; Page A7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Finn, a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, is the author of "Troublemaker: A Personal History of School Reform Since Sputnik," published in February by the Princeton University Press.
24553  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Demographics on: April 27, 2008, 07:47:27 AM
Dying Russia
April 25, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.
24554  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: April 26, 2008, 06:16:14 PM
"McCain has a history of being a tax cut skeptic and that will make selling his program difficult.  In 1996, Bob Dole's lackluster campaign picked Jack Kemp to be his running mate and Dole adopted a serious tax cut proposal from Kemp.  On the stump and in press questioning Dole couldn't explain his own support for this new, bold proposal and Kemp couldn't explain Dole's past positions opposing these types of rate cuts."

Pithy and its truth here is quite the pity.
24555  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Self-Defense Law on: April 26, 2008, 06:10:20 PM
How does it feel to live like that?
24556  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / 6/22 Guro Crafty seminar at Surf Dog's in Hemet on: April 26, 2008, 11:55:42 AM
Woof All:

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

The Adventure continues,
Guro Crafty
24557  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Canton OH 7/12-13 on: April 25, 2008, 05:39:34 PM
I just spoke with Officer Clouse and everything is on track , , , except for my deposit, which is dawdling at the moment in some bureaucratic constipation.  The seminar will be held in a LEO training facility.  Officer Clouse expects things to move along shortly.
24558  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / En Espanol: Trapping on: April 25, 2008, 05:19:42 PM
Ese articulo ya tiene muchos anos, y ademas no estoy seguor de la calidad de la traduccion, y tiene problemas de "punctuation".  He tratado de limpiar los problemas de punctuation pero la segunda mitad del articulo todavia necesita mas trabajo.


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guro Marc ?Crafty Dog? Denny.

24559  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: April 25, 2008, 04:41:26 PM
Danish citizen evaluates our candidates.....
From an observer in Denmark.........

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

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

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

Is there a contest here?"

24560  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: April 25, 2008, 12:58:56 PM
McCain's Campaign Finance Revelation
April 25, 2008; Page A13
While Democrats absorbed the lessons of Pennsylvania this week, John McCain was coming to a few realizations of his own. For one, "big money" in politics isn't so bad after all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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24561  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Afghanistan's police on: April 25, 2008, 12:42:55 PM
The New Strategy for Afghanistan's Cops
April 25, 2008; Page A13


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24562  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: War on Terror is not a Crime on: April 25, 2008, 12:37:20 PM
The War on Terror Is Not a Crime
April 25, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Messrs. Rivkin and Casey served in the Justice Department under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and were members of the United Nations Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights from 2004-2007.
24563  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: April 25, 2008, 12:28:47 PM
Can Hillary Sue Her Way to the Nomination?

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- John Fund

The 'Gaffe' Calculus

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Blake Dvorak,

Quote of the Day I

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

Quote of the Day II

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

Quote of the Day III

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Blair's spokesman says his boss wasn't at fault. "Payment was offered and was refused," he told reporters, though the spokesman was unable to answer any questions about why Mr. Blair travels with fewer resources on his person than the average homeless person. It's one thing for the Queen to proceed through life without having to worry about carrying any of the coins or bills that bear her image. But now that he's a private citizen, Mr. Blair should make at least an effort to pretend once again he's a normal human being.
24564  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on McCain and tax rates on: April 25, 2008, 12:20:10 PM
McCain and Taxes
April 25, 2008
John McCain, the Republican nominee for President, has proposed extending the Bush tax cuts. So as morning follows night this week, Democratic news analysis has been pouring forth to proclaim that his tax ideas are a threat to the republic because they'll explode the budget deficit. The Senator needs to understand that he can't win this election by playing on this economic turf.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary,
24565  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: April 25, 2008, 11:36:46 AM
That was great!  Why did it cut off before the end of the fight?
24566  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyberwar on: April 25, 2008, 11:02:51 AM
Counterfeit tech items from China
Counterfeit products originating from China are not a new problem. Everything from fake iPods to imitation name-brand purses have been sold to unwitting American shoppers. Now, solving the problem has taken on new urgency amid revelations that U.S. government agencies and military branches have bought millions of dollars of counterfeit Cisco networking equipment from China. According to an unclassified PowerPoint presentation circulating within the FBI, government entities that have purchased counterfeit equipment include the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center, the U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center, the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Air Force, the Federal Aviation Administration, numerous defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, and even the FBI itself.

The counterfeit purchases were largely the result of government buyers trying to obtain high-end equipment for the lowest bid. The nightmare scenario is that U.S. government computer networks assumed secure might be hopelessly compromised with virtual back doors, which could allow the People’s Republic of China to monitor network traffic and even interfere with network operation. The FBI is currently trying to determine the motives of the counterfeiters, and while “profit” is the hoped-for answer, espionage cannot be ruled out at this time.
24567  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Amazing blind man on: April 25, 2008, 10:51:45 AM
By Vic Ryckaert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kieta fumbled to dial 911 with his other hand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“When my wife was cleaning the blood off, she said ‘I think it’s all his,’.” Kieta said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
24568  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Why Now on: April 25, 2008, 10:30:46 AM
April 25, 2008
The Bush administration briefed the U.S. Congress on Thursday about the reasons behind the Sept. 6, 2007, Israeli raid on Syria. According to the secret briefing — the content of which, of course, not only was leaked immediately (as was intended) but was essentially confirmed by a White House spokeswoman — the target was a nuclear reactor, able to produce plutonium, that had been built with the assistance of North Korea. The administration showed a videotape, apparently produced by Israeli intelligence, showing faces that were said to be in the facility and to be clearly Korean.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So that seems to undermine the prep for strike theory. That leaves tension between the United States and Israel as the last standing theory. Not a good theory, but the last standing one.
24569  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Clinton Foundation Secrets on: April 25, 2008, 10:26:55 AM
Clinton Foundation Secrets
April 25, 2008; Page A14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24570  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Carter is a pathetic joke, and a joke on: April 25, 2008, 10:24:16 AM
The Sad End of Jimmy Carter
April 25, 2008; Page A15

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

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


The problem is how Jimmy Carter went about it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The next day he called.

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

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

He phoned the next day.

"We're calling off the war"

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

24571  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington: Letter to Hebrew Congregation on: April 25, 2008, 10:15:23 AM

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

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

Reference: Our Sacred Honor, Bennett (330)
24572  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: April 24, 2008, 12:20:27 PM
Hillary Math

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- John Fund

Big Labor Bada Bing

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

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

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

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

--Kim Strassel

The Pope of California

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

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

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

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

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

-- John Fund

Canadian Tiger

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

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

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

What about Nafta? Canada believes Nafta "is working well," said Mr. Flaherty, but he also noted that Canada exports a great deal of oil to the U.S., so Canada would have no shortage of bargaining leverage if the trade pact were opened for renegotiation as threatened on the campaign trail by the two Democratic presidential contenders.
24573  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: April 24, 2008, 10:01:13 AM
Definitely a hit piece, but interesting nonetheless; another example of unsavory support for BO.

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

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

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

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

Barack Obama has promised change. And as indicated by the public support that his candidacy has received by accused terrorist fundraiser Hatem El-Hady, Obama's version of change that terrorists and their US supporters can believe in.
24574  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Syria and Israel hint at Peace Talks on: April 24, 2008, 08:20:56 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Syria and Israel Hint at Peace Talks
April 24, 2008
The morning of April 21, we woke up to a report in the Syrian media saying that Israel had agreed to hand the Golan Heights back to Syria in exchange for a peace agreement. The Syrian story was reported in the Israeli media, with no comment from the Olmert government, although several Israeli politicians vigorously condemned the idea. Since Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was reported to be on vacation, we figured there was a time delay and settled back waiting for the Israeli government to deny the Syrian report.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All of this is fascinating, but what stands out is the fact that the Iranians have signaled that they can live with a deal with Israel. In the long run, the implications of that are the most interesting.
24575  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Plutonium on the Euphrates on: April 24, 2008, 08:04:53 AM


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

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

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

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

If a Democratic President were pursuing the Bush Administration's North Korean diplomacy, Republicans would hoot him out of town. Mr. Bush should beware of diplomats dangling "legacies" before him. Otherwise, his real legacy on North Korea may be turning nuclear nonproliferation into a global farce.
24576  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: East Europe supports Ukraine and Georgia for NATO on: April 24, 2008, 08:01:32 AM
Eastern Solidarity
April 24, 2008

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

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

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

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

German, French and Italian politicians have a sorry record of willingness to indulge the Putin Kremlin. Yet thanks to the post-Cold War enlargements of NATO, the U.S. isn't alone in championing the right of European democracies freely to choose which friends to keep and alliances to join.
24577  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ:Dems have a nominee; Karl Rove on: April 24, 2008, 07:51:48 AM
Like Karl Rove below, I'm not sure I agree that it is a lock, but the point about the implications of Nunn and Boren is worth noting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.
24578  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kidnappings on: April 24, 2008, 07:37:21 AM

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

JUAREZ, Mexico — Daniel Escobedo was driving to school when he stopped for what he thought was a security check at a roadblock in the Mexican city of Juarez , across the border from El Paso, Texas .
Worried about being late for class, he hurriedly handed his driver's license to the two uniformed men, who he thought were police officers.
Moments later, two dark SUVs screeched to a halt. Armed masked men jumped out and grabbed Escobedo, 21. He spent the next six weeks blindfolded, shuttled between safe houses while a drug-gang leader negotiated a ransom with his father, who's a lawyer. He was beaten, shocked and burned until his rescue April 1 by Mexican soldiers who'd been tipped that drug dealers were using the house.
"For a month and a half, I thought I was going to die," Escobedo said.
He's one of a growing number of kidnapping victims here as Mexico's drug gangs seek new business to replace lucrative drug smuggling, which has become more dangerous as Mexican authorities pursue the largest anti-drug-trafficking effort ever in the country.
Corporate security experts estimate that drug gangs are now responsible for 30 to 50 kidnappings a day in Mexico and that ransoms often run to $300,000 if the victim is returned alive. They often hold several victims at a time. Two other victims were being held with Escobedo.
"The narco-kidnappers are not looking for chump change," said Felix Batista , a Miami -based corporate-security and crisis-management consultant who's negotiated the releases of dozens of kidnapping victims throughout Mexico .
"It's a pretty darn good side business."
The phenomenon is spilling over into the United States . Phoenix police investigated more than 350 kidnappings last year, a 40 percent increase from the year before. Most are tied to crackdowns in Mexico , said Detective Reuben Gonzales of the Phoenix police department.
The rise in kidnapping helped prompt a recent warning from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City about the dangers Americans might face as they travel in Mexico . "Dozens of U.S. citizens were kidnapped and/or murdered in Tijuana in 2007," across from San Diego , according to the advisory, which was issued April 15 . "Public shootouts have occurred during daylight hours near shopping areas."
Mexican officials say the wave of kidnappings is a sign that drug traffickers have been squeezed by President Felipe Calderon's yearlong offensive against smugglers. The president has dispatched 20,000 soldiers around the country to confront what had been growing drug violence that had pushed the number of kidnappings, murders and arms-smuggling cases to record levels.
"Drug trafficking is not producing for them as it did in the past," Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora said last month in Washington . "So they are moving into other crimes, such as extortion, kidnapping, car theft."
However, the rise in kidnappings also shows that Mexico's law enforcement problems go beyond narcotics. Distrust of the police, who may be involved in some of the abductions, and fear that victims will be harmed make kidnapping one of Mexico's most underreported crimes.
Mexican officials say that only a third of kidnappings are reported to police, but corporate experts say it's more like one in 10. A public opinion survey by the Center for Social and Public Opinion Studies , an arm of Mexico's Chamber of Deputies, found that only 52 percent of Mexican citizens "very probably" would report being crime victims.
"People perceive the justice system is not trustworthy," said Eduardo Rojas , the director of the center's public opinion department. "The failure to report is related to the perception of inefficiency, corruption and injustice that exists in the penal justice system."
That means that drug gangs can kidnap almost with impunity.
Escobedo's father, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of concern that the kidnappers would target him next, never reported his son's abduction to police after the kidnappers used the young man's cell phone to contact his father. Via a text message, they demanded $100,000 for the student's release. One message, which Escobedo's father showed to McClatchy , read, "if you love your son a lot, find it in cash."
His father was collecting money from friends and relatives to pay the ransom when he received a call from the military at 5 a.m. on April 1 . The soldiers said they'd found his son, who showed his father scabs on his nose, legs, and arms that documented the torture.
"It was 40 days of suffering," his father recalled. "It was 40 days, believe me, that I couldn't sleep, waiting for the kidnappers to contact me again. . . . It was so many days of terror until my son was returned."
24579  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Demise of the Green Berets? on: April 24, 2008, 07:35:14 AM,152...l?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Special Forces exist ten or twenty years down the road? What can we do to ensure the continuing existence and contribution of the Green Berets?
It is time to fight again, this time for the preservation of the force. If we do not protest the poor stewardship of the U. S. Army and USSOCOM leaders concerning U. S. Army Special Forces and its unique capability, we will certainly see this capability diminish.
24580  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson: Every citizen a soldier; Washington on: April 24, 2008, 07:23:56 AM

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

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

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

Reference: George Washington: A Collection, W.B. Allen, ed. (403)
24581  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / SCT: Po may search after invalid arrest !?! on: April 23, 2008, 05:22:14 PM
Supreme Court says police may search even if arrest invalid By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer
Wed Apr 23, 12:02 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court affirmed Wednesday that police have the power to conduct searches and seize evidence, even when done during an arrest that turns out to have violated state law.

The unanimous decision comes in a case from Portsmouth, Va., where city detectives seized crack cocaine from a motorist after arresting him for a traffic ticket offense.

David Lee Moore was pulled over for driving on a suspended license. The violation is a minor crime in Virginia and calls for police to issue a court summons and let the driver go.

Instead, city detectives arrested Moore and prosecutors say that drugs taken from him in a subsequent search can be used against him as evidence.

"We reaffirm against a novel challenge what we have signaled for half a century," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote.

Scalia said that when officers have probable cause to believe a person has committed a crime in their presence, the Fourth Amendment permits them to make an arrest and to search the suspect in order to safeguard evidence and ensure their own safety.

Moore was convicted on a drug charge and sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.

The Virginia Supreme Court ruled that police should have released Moore and could not lawfully conduct a search.

State law, said the Virginia Supreme Court, restricted officers to issuing a ticket in exchange for a promise to appear later in court. Virginia courts dismissed the indictment against Moore.

Moore argued that the Fourth Amendment permits a search only following a lawful state arrest.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she finds more support for Moore's position in previous court cases than the rest of the court does. But she said she agrees that the arrest and search of Moore was constitutional, even though it violated Virginia law.

The Bush administration and attorneys general from 18 states lined up in support of Virginia prosecutors.

The federal government said Moore's case had the potential to greatly increase the class of unconstitutional arrests, resulting in evidence seized during searches being excluded with increasing frequency.

Looking to state laws to provide the basis for searches would introduce uncertainty into the legal system, the 18 states said in court papers.

24582  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Survival issues outside the home on: April 23, 2008, 05:11:00 PM
I didn't know that about pine needles.  Good one.
24583  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.

24584  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Defame Islam? on: April 23, 2008, 11:05:11 AM
24585  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
Yahoo! Buzz
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

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!”
24586  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Afghanistan's Army on: April 23, 2008, 08:58:15 AM

 • Afghans Build an Army, and a Nation


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 
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.

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24587  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Stickfighting on ESPN TV April 22 on: April 23, 2008, 08:44:43 AM
Thank you!
24588  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Deputy Tased, Hogtied, Paraded Through Town on: April 23, 2008, 08:40:45 AM

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.
24589  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.
24590  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.
24591  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.
24592  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.


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24593  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
24594  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Brit pre-emptive dhimmitude on: April 22, 2008, 08:59:37 AM

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. 

24595  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.
24596  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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24597  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.
24598  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.


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

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

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

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

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

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
24599  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: April 21, 2008, 03:57:53 PM
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.

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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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.

24600  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Indonesia on: April 21, 2008, 03:52:01 PM
Intolerance in Indonesia
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.

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