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24651  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: February 04, 2009, 07:39:25 PM
 shocked

Refresh my memory-- what was Stephanopolous under President Clinton?  Press Secretary?  or?
24652  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russians happy with BO on: February 04, 2009, 07:37:27 PM
Moscow welcomes President Obama's plan for cut in nuclear weapons

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

From Times Online

February 4, 2009

Moscow welcomes President Obama's plan for cut in nuclear weapons




Tony Halpin in Moscow

Russia moved swiftly today to extend a hand to President Obama over American plans for big cuts in nuclear weapons.

Sergei Ivanov, the Deputy Prime Minister, said that Russia was ready to sign a new strategic missile treaty with the United States after The Times disclosed that Mr Obama is to seek an 80 per cent reduction in stockpiles.

"We welcome the statements from the new Obama Administration that they are ready to enter into talks and complete within a year, in this very confined timeframe, the signing of a new Russian-US treaty on the limitation of strategic attack weapons," said Mr Ivanov, a hawkish former defence minister once seen as a candidate to become president of Russia.

He added: "We are also ready for this, undoubtedly."



The landmark Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start) signed by the US and the Soviet Union in 1991 is due to expire in December. It reduced stockpiles held by the two states from 10,000 to 5,000 but there has been little progress in negotiating a successor treaty.

Talks faltered in part over President George W. Bush's enthusiasm for siting a missile-defence shield in eastern Europe, a move that infuriated Russia. Mr Obama has not said whether he will press ahead with the plan to put ten interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic.

A delay in the programme could ease Russian concerns and pave the way for talks to cut the number of nuclear warheads to 1,000 each. An official in the US Administration told The Times: “We are prepared to engage in a broader dialogue with the Russians over issues of concern to them.”

The significance of missile defence as an obstacle to successful negotiations was underlined by a former chief of staff for the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces. Colonel-General Viktor Yesin said that a deal on missile cuts made sense only if Washington accepted Moscow's security concerns.

"If the American Administration really intends to radically cut Russia's and the US's strategic nuclear arsenals to 1,000 warheads, this would undeniably be a step that could promote real nuclear disarmament," he told Interfax news.

"However, with such considerable reductions of nuclear arsenals, an equal level of security for Russia and the US could be ensured only on condition that Washington drops the idea of deploying . . . its missile defence system in Europe."

Andrei Piontkovsky, executive director of the Strategic Studies Centre in Moscow, said that defence experts in Russia understood that the US missile shield posed no military threat, but Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister and former president, was determined to prove that the West could not decide anything in Eastern Europe without Moscow's approval.

"The Start treaty for Russia is a symbol that it is still a superpower, so I think the Kremlin would be satisfied with the fact that Obama is not pushing this issue [missile defence] ahead," Mr Piontkovsky said.

Pavel Felgengauer, one of Russia's leading defence analysts, told The Times that Mr Obama would face domestic pressure to accelerate the missile-defence programme after Iran's success in launching a satellite into space yesterday.

"This puts a serious shadow over the arms-control negotiations because it was assumed that the Democrats would freeze or postpone deployment of this project until the missile threat emerged. Now it has," he said.

"The pressure is going to be on the new US Administration to continue deployment and maybe even speed it up. With missile defence in Europe getting this new impulse from Tehran, that makes it even more difficult to achieve results with Russia."

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle5660089.ece
24653  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Russians happy with BO on: February 04, 2009, 07:33:06 PM
Moscow welcomes President Obama's plan for cut in nuclear weapons

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

From Times Online

February 4, 2009

Moscow welcomes President Obama's plan for cut in nuclear weapons




Tony Halpin in Moscow

Russia moved swiftly today to extend a hand to President Obama over American plans for big cuts in nuclear weapons.

Sergei Ivanov, the Deputy Prime Minister, said that Russia was ready to sign a new strategic missile treaty with the United States after The Times disclosed that Mr Obama is to seek an 80 per cent reduction in stockpiles.

"We welcome the statements from the new Obama Administration that they are ready to enter into talks and complete within a year, in this very confined timeframe, the signing of a new Russian-US treaty on the limitation of strategic attack weapons," said Mr Ivanov, a hawkish former defence minister once seen as a candidate to become president of Russia.

He added: "We are also ready for this, undoubtedly."



The landmark Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start) signed by the US and the Soviet Union in 1991 is due to expire in December. It reduced stockpiles held by the two states from 10,000 to 5,000 but there has been little progress in negotiating a successor treaty.

Talks faltered in part over President George W. Bush's enthusiasm for siting a missile-defence shield in eastern Europe, a move that infuriated Russia. Mr Obama has not said whether he will press ahead with the plan to put ten interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic.

A delay in the programme could ease Russian concerns and pave the way for talks to cut the number of nuclear warheads to 1,000 each. An official in the US Administration told The Times: “We are prepared to engage in a broader dialogue with the Russians over issues of concern to them.”

The significance of missile defence as an obstacle to successful negotiations was underlined by a former chief of staff for the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces. Colonel-General Viktor Yesin said that a deal on missile cuts made sense only if Washington accepted Moscow's security concerns.

"If the American Administration really intends to radically cut Russia's and the US's strategic nuclear arsenals to 1,000 warheads, this would undeniably be a step that could promote real nuclear disarmament," he told Interfax news.

"However, with such considerable reductions of nuclear arsenals, an equal level of security for Russia and the US could be ensured only on condition that Washington drops the idea of deploying . . . its missile defence system in Europe."

Andrei Piontkovsky, executive director of the Strategic Studies Centre in Moscow, said that defence experts in Russia understood that the US missile shield posed no military threat, but Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister and former president, was determined to prove that the West could not decide anything in Eastern Europe without Moscow's approval.

"The Start treaty for Russia is a symbol that it is still a superpower, so I think the Kremlin would be satisfied with the fact that Obama is not pushing this issue [missile defence] ahead," Mr Piontkovsky said.

Pavel Felgengauer, one of Russia's leading defence analysts, told The Times that Mr Obama would face domestic pressure to accelerate the missile-defence programme after Iran's success in launching a satellite into space yesterday.

"This puts a serious shadow over the arms-control negotiations because it was assumed that the Democrats would freeze or postpone deployment of this project until the missile threat emerged. Now it has," he said.

"The pressure is going to be on the new US Administration to continue deployment and maybe even speed it up. With missile defence in Europe getting this new impulse from Tehran, that makes it even more difficult to achieve results with Russia."

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle5660089.ece
24654  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Colter: Second hand children on: February 04, 2009, 07:28:02 PM
by  Ann Coulter

02/04/2009


It's been weeks since the last one, so on Sunday, The New York Times Magazine featured yet another cheery, upbeat article on single mothers. As with all its other promotional pieces on single motherhood over the years, the Times followed a specific formula to make this social disaster sound normal, blameless and harmless -- even brave.

These single motherhood advertisements include lots of conclusory statements to the effect that this is simply the way things are -- so get used to it, bourgeois America! "(A)n increasing number of unmarried mothers," the article explained, "look a lot more like Fran McElhill and Nancy Clark -- they are college-educated, and they are in their 30s, 40s and 50s."

Why isn't the number of smokers treated as a fait accompli that the rest of us just have to accept? Smoking causes a lot less damage and the harm befalls the person who chooses to smoke, not innocent children.

The Times' single motherhood endorsements always describe single mothers as the very picture of middle-class normality: "She grew up in blue-collar Chester County, Pa., outside Philadelphia, and talks like a local girl (long O's). Her father was a World War II vet who worked for a union and took his kids to Mass most Sundays." Even as a girl she dreamed of raising a baby with a 50 percent greater chance of growing up in poverty.

 How about some articles on all the nice middle-class smokers whose fathers served in World War II and took them to Mass? Only when describing aberrant social behavior do Times writers even recognize what normality is, much less speak of it admiringly.

According to hysterical anti-smoking zealots at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking costs the nation $92 billion a year in "lost productivity." (Obviously these conclusions were produced by people who not only have never smoked, but also don't know any smokers, who could have told them smoking makes us 10 times more productive.)

Meanwhile, single motherhood costs taxpayers about $112 billion every year, according to a 2008 study by Georgia State University economist Benjamin Scafidi.

Smoking has no causal relationship to crime, has little effect on others and -- let's be honest -- looks cool. Controlling for income, education and occupation, it causes about 200,000 deaths per year, mostly of people in their 70s.

Single motherhood, by contrast, directly harms children, occurs at a rate of about 1.5 million a year and has a causal relationship to criminal behavior, substance abuse, juvenile delinquency, sexual victimization and almost every other social disorder.

If a pregnant woman smokes or drinks, we blame her. But if a woman decides to have a fatherless child, we praise her as brave -- even though the outcome for the child is much worse.

Thus, the Times writes warmly of single mothers, always including an innocent explanation: "Many of these women followed a similar and familiar pattern in having their first child: They planned to marry, found they hadn't by their 30s, looked some more and then decided to have a child without a husband." At which point, a stork showed up with their babies.

So apparently, single motherhood could happen to anyone!

How about: These smokers followed a similar and familiar pattern, they planned never to start smoking, found themselves working long nights at the law firm and then decided to have a cigarette to stay alert.

Then there is the Times' reversal of cause and effect, which manages to exonerate the single mother while turning her into a victim: "The biggest reason that children born to unmarried mothers tend to have problems -- they're more likely to drop out of school and commit crimes -- is that they tend to grow up poor."

First, the reason the children "tend to grow up poor" is that their mothers considered it unnecessary to have a primary bread-earner in the family.

Second, the Times simply made up the fact that poverty, rather than single motherhood, causes anti-social behavior in children. Poverty doesn't cause crime -- single mothers do. If poverty caused crime, how did we get Bernie Madoff?

Studies -- including one by the liberal Progressive Policy Institute -- have shown that controlling for factors such as poverty and socioeconomic status, single motherhood accounts for the entire difference in black and white crime rates.

The Times' claim that poverty is the "biggest reason" for the problems of illegitimate children is on the order of claiming that the biggest reason that smokers develop heart disease and lung cancer is not because they smoke, but because they tend to work so hard. It's a half-baked, wishful-thinking theory contradicted by all known evidence. Other than that, it holds up pretty well.

Finally, the Times produced an imaginary statistic that is valid only in the sense that no study has specifically disproved it yet. "No one has shown," the Times triumphantly announced, "that there are similar risks for the children of college-educated single mothers by choice."

No one has shown that there are similar risks for smokers who run marathons, either. There are probably about as many college graduate single mothers by choice (7 percent) as there are smokers who run marathons. And, unlike single mothers, smokers who run marathons look really cool.


If the establishment media wrote about smoking the way they write about unwed motherhood, I think people would notice that they seem oddly hellbent on destroying as many lives as possible.
24655  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: BO's rendition policy on: February 04, 2009, 05:19:19 PM
Obama and the Treatment of Terrorist Suspects
February 4, 2009
By Fred Burton and Ben West

U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order Feb. 1 approving the continued use of renditions by the CIA. The order seems to go against Obama’s campaign promises to improve the image of the United States abroad, as renditions under the Bush administration had drawn criticism worldwide, especially from members of the European Union. The executive order does not necessarily mean that renditions and other tactics for dealing with terrorist suspects will proceed unchanged, however.

Obama came into office promising changes in the way the United States combats terrorism. One of these changes was a new emphasis on legal processes and a shift away from controversial methods of treating terrorist suspects, like rendition, harsh interrogation techniques and secret prisons. The Obama administration can and will roll back some of these tactics, as demonstrated by the president’s Jan. 22 order to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. But some will continue.

Renditions and the Legal Process
Renditions are a powerful tool for counterterrorism operations. They involve agents moving into a foreign country to execute a warrant. Once the fugitive is located, agents track, seize and transport him out of the country for interrogations, or to stand trial, as in the cases of Lebanese hijacker Fawaz Younis, CIA shooter Mir Amal Kanzi, 1993 World Trade Center bombers Abdel Basit (aka Ramzi Yousef) and Mahmud Abouhalima, and even Ilich Ramirez Sanchez (aka Carlos the Jackal).

Some of the individuals targeted for renditions have warrants out for their arrest, but are taking refuge in countries that either lack the law enforcement capability to capture them or cannot arrest and extradite them for political reasons. By contrast, the renditions where there is no indictment or warrant and where the suspect is transported to a secret prison for interrogation and detention without a public trial are far more controversial. Renditions of either kind virtually always occur with the knowledge of the host country, and usually with the host government’s express consent. (Few countries wish to shelter suspected terrorist masterminds.)

Renditions thus involve legal questions as much as they do diplomatic questions. Before renditions can be carried out, the Washington bureaucracy kicks into full swing. The U.S. State Department must consider the diplomatic ramifications. The ambassador in the host country must consider his or her position and judge the response of his or her contacts in the host country government. The U.S. Justice Department must also sign on. Finally, the agency in charge of actually nabbing the suspect must be willing to work within any restrictions imposed by any one of the many individuals who must approve the operation.

Even when the government ultimately deems a rendition operation legal, numerous factors can still stymie the effort (not least of which is that by the time all the necessary approvals have been obtained, the window of opportunity to nab the suspect might have closed). So while Obama’s executive order in theory permits renditions, it is only one part of the whole process; the appropriate members of Obama’s administration must also be on board.

Many members of the Obama administration also served in the Clinton administration, which was widely seen as considering all legal ramifications of potential renditions before taking any action. As a former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, new Attorney General Eric Holder enjoyed a reputation for deliberating on renditions to the point of inaction — effectively vetoing such operations.

While an appearance of greater attention to the law might come as a relief to many, actors in the field do not have the luxury of endless deliberation and total consensus — they have a narrow window of opportunity in which to act on perishable intelligence. Assuming that Obama’s administration acts with deliberation and pursues consensus building (as he himself has emphasized, and has demonstrated in the bipartisan nature of his Cabinet selections), the legality of renditions might become moot if they are not agreed upon in a timely manner. There is a fine line to walk between efficiency and legality in this field, with extremes on either side being detrimental to national security.

By their very nature, renditions are ad hoc and rarely fit into a nice, clean process, something that explains their controversial nature. They frequently occur in countries allied to the United States, meaning the practice falls outside the scope of war. And renditions resulting in suspects’ standing trial are far less controversial than those involving secret prisons, harsh interrogation tactics and reliance on third countries to carry out interrogations — tactics disfavored by the Obama administration.

Alternatives to Rendition

Apprehending suspects in foreign countries does not always involve controversial tactics. U.S. counterterrorism officials also use tactics abroad that are not forbidden under U.S. law, though they might be illegal if used within the United States (and could well be illegal in the country where U.S. agents employ them). In general, such tactics remain constant as administrations change. These tactics include surveillance of foreign targets, ruse operations and economic incentives and punishments to encourage cooperation in counterterrorism efforts.

Ruse operations, a less controversial way to apprehend fugitives than renditions, involve deception, obviating the need to jump through the bureaucratic hoops required for renditions. Ruse operations involve luring suspects to a location where U.S. agents can apprehend them legally. This involves persuading targets to venture into international waters, for example, or even to travel to the United States, where U.S. agents lie in wait.

While such tactics avoid the legal complexities surrounding renditions, they are extremely difficult to carry out. Suspects worth chasing around the world typically are not overly gullible, and know where it is safe to travel. So while there is no reason to believe that ruse operations will cease anytime soon, successful ones are few and far between.

Sometimes killing a terrorist target is both more efficient and less legally complex than renditions or ruse operations. Tactical strikes, such as the unmanned aerial vehicle-launched missile strikes against suspected al Qaeda targets in Pakistan, both remove a suspected terrorist target and avoid drawn-out legal processes. Like its predecessor, the Obama administration apparently sees striking at al Qaeda targets along the Pakistani-Afghan border as acceptable within the scope of the ongoing war in Afghanistan, despite Pakistani protests. The latest such U.S. strike came Jan. 23, just three days after Obama took office. Given the administration’s presumed hesitation based on legal reservations and an unwillingness to expand warfare beyond the Afghan theater, this tactic is unlikely to pop up in other areas of the world without a serious threat escalation.

Secret Prisons and Interrogation Issues

Obama on Jan. 22 also ordered the CIA to close its secret prisons around the world that hold detainees without adhering to U.S. legal standards. Because fewer than 100 detainees were held in these prisons, however, this is a minor point.

A different executive order also issued Jan. 22 applied the interrogation guidelines outlined in the U.S. military field handbook and the Geneva Conventions to the CIA. Obama and Holder also have made it clear that the new administration views waterboarding as torture and thus illegal, settling the debate on the matter.

Still, it is only a matter of time before new techniques used by interrogators in the field will face questions of legality and morality. No national leader can micromanage at the field level. Even though the Justice Department and senior White House officials in the Bush administration signed secret findings authorizing the CIA to conduct waterboarding in specific cases, tactical, field-level topics do not stick around at the level of national policy for very long.

With secret prisons on the way out, more restrictions on how agents act in the field and an expected decline in renditions, a greater U.S. reliance on third countries to carry out rendition operations is possible. During the Clinton and Bush administrations, countries like Egypt and Jordan were known to cooperate with U.S. agencies in detaining and interrogating prisoners.

Critics claimed that relying on third countries exploited a loophole that allowed the United States to see that unsavory acts were committed without directly carrying them out. Obama’s emphasis on using diplomacy to improve the U.S. image in the world suggests that his administration will turn to other countries for counterterrorism assistance instead of operating unilaterally. Obama already has asked for other countries to help out more in Afghanistan (specifically European countries). Obama might also tap third countries like Portugal, Switzerland or Germany to take in detainees leaving Guantanamo who are not sent back to home countries like Yemen and Saudi Arabia after the facility’s closure. Working with these countries to ensure safe delivery of the detainees out of U.S. custody will remove a lightning rod for criticism of the United States in the Muslim world.

Delegating counterterrorism responsibilities to other countries allows the United States to avoid the legal complexities inherent in renditions, secret prisons and harsh interrogation. But ultimately, increased reliance on other countries with different interests can enhance the overall complexity of missions. It is also important to remember that the United States possesses one of the most capable counterterrorism forces in the world, and that other countries simply cannot carry out the same missions that the United States does. This is not to say that pursuing U.S. interests abroad does not call for diplomacy (which is one of the administration’s main tools to fight terror), but that seeking international approval and establishing legal cover does reduce efficiency and restrain U.S. capabilities. Finding the balance between fighting terror efficiently and remaining within legal boundaries will be a key challenge for the Obama administration.

24656  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A tear goes out to our British brothers on: February 04, 2009, 04:33:35 PM
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1129143/Soldier-lost-legs-Afghanistan-refused-permission-specially-adapted-bungalow-grandparents-land.html

Soldier who lost both legs in Afghanistan is refused permission for specially-adapted bungalow on grandparents' land
By Vanessa Allen
Last updated at 1:09 AM on 28th January 2009
Comments (95) Add to My Stories
 'Devastated': Marine Joe Townsend with his grandfather David Carter

After losing both legs to an anti-tank mine while serving in Afghanistan, 20-year-old Joe Townsend was trying his best to rebuild his life.

And after 20 operations in hospital, the Royal Marine’s grandfather gave him the best possible incentive to get better.
David Carter decided to build a modest bungalow on land near the home he shares with his wife Lynda, 60, to help Joe become more independent. It seemed the perfect solution.

But the council disagreed. Joe’s bungalow would be ‘intrusive’, planners said. And anyway, his case was not exceptional enough for them to waive strict laws and allow the bungalow to be built.

They narrowly ruled against the plans, even though there had been no objections – and despite a direct appeal from Joe, who was desperate to live near his family, in Pevensey, East Sussex.

Their decision devastated the wheelchair-bound veteran. It means he must stay in a rehabilitation centre instead.

‘I said I had been a local lad all my life and always wanted to live round my granddad’s,’ he said.

‘His idea of building me a place in his paddock was a massive incentive for me to crack on, get better and get my independence back. The rejection was a kick in the teeth.’

Mr Townsend was 19 when his legs were amputated after he stepped on an anti-tank mine buried on his patrol’s route in Helmand in February.

He has had many operations, with more surgery due next month, and has received round-the-clock care at Headley Court Armed Forces rehabilitation centre, in Surrey.

 Rejected: Mr Carter stands by the plot of land where he wanted to build the bungalow

Most people had seemed happy to help him get on with his life. The plans for his bungalow, which would have had a treatment room, a bedroom for a carer and an en- suite bathroom, were drawn up for free by an architect who wanted to thank Joe for his sacrifice.

Meanwhile, Mr Carter, 72, said his neighbours had supported the scheme. Critics condemned the council for not doing the same. Tory MP Patrick Mercer, a former soldier, said: ‘Marine Townsend has paid an extraordinary price for his service to this country. I believe he is an extraordinary case and should be viewed as such.’

The Royal British Legion said: ‘This man’s injuries were incurred defending this country abroad.

‘I hope this council will reconsider what their decision means, not only to this individual but symbolically to all our Armed Forces.’

Councillor Niki Oakes, who considered the application and by coincidence is also a double amputee, had called on the committee to help Joe.

‘I said “Damn the rules!” There has to be a way to get round them sometimes in a case like this,’ she said.

But Wealden District Council stood firm: ‘The proposed dwelling by reason of its siting and detailed design would appear as an intrusive development within this semi-rural area. The circumstances in this case are not considered sufficient to warrant an exception to the usual restraint policies.’
24657  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / News now made in China too? on: February 04, 2009, 11:49:04 AM
Bringing this over from the China thread

China: Beijing Plans to Infiltrate Mainstream Western Media(to buy & control failing MSM)
Boxun ^ | 01/28/09

Beijing Plans to Infiltrate Mainstream Western Media

By chinafreepress.org (translation)

Jan 28, 2009 - 11:06:03 AM

Boxun Exclusive

In mid-January 2009, a week before Chinese New Year, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party held a meeting to discuss its plan for foreign propaganda work in the year to come. It summarized the past decade's progress in co-opting international Chinese-language media into doing the propaganda work of the Chinese Communist Party.

The Politburo decided that in addition to continuing its Chinese-language international image promotion, it plans to infiltrate and influence mainstream Western media. The meeting cited the example of the Russian former KGB officer and present tycoon who has purchase the defunct British newspaper The Evening Standard. This overt an approach is undesirable, the meeting concluded, and instead influential overseas Chinese in the media business should be utilized to purchase and operate mainstream Western media organs.

The spring 2008 coverage of the uprising in Tibet by CNN and other Western mainstream media organs sounded an alarm. China's Politburo concluded that it must counter this by infiltrating and influencing Western coverage of China and China's image in the international media.

The opportunity is presently ripe because of the downturn in the world economy. Many media organizations are in economic difficulty, even going bankrupt, and they can be purchased and it will look like an investment and business opportunity and not the attempt of the Chinese government to infiltrate Western media organs and influence Western popular opinion toward China that it is.

Full Chinese report at:

http://news.boxun.com/news/gb/china/2009/01/200901280838.shtml

http://www.boxun.us/news/publish/chinanews/Beijing_Plans_to_Infiltrate_Mainstream_Western_Media.shtml
24658  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rape used to create bombers on: February 04, 2009, 10:57:47 AM
 Insurgents Use Rape to Create Female Bombers

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

BBC News: Iraq's 'female bomber recruiter'
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7869570.stm

 
Samira Jassim is accused of recruiting dozens of female attackers


Suspected militant recruiter Samira Jassim reportedly calls herself "the Mother of Believers". Detained in January by Iraqi security forces, the mother of six is accused of converting dozens of vulnerable women into suicide attackers.

In an apparent video confession, the middle-aged woman described how she identified potential bombers, helped supply them with explosives and led them to their targets.  She also explained, in a separate interview with the Associated Press, how insurgents used rape as a tool, with the "shamed" women persuaded to redeem themselves through suicide attacks.

Her apparent confession could help throw light on the recent increase in attacks in Iraq involving female bombers. In 2007 there were eight suicide attacks by women; in 2008 there were 32, the US military says. In early January, a female bomber killed at least 35 Shia pilgrims in a blast near a Baghdad shrine.

Insurgents use female bombers because they can hide explosives under their robes and are less likely to be searched by male guards at security checkpoints.

'Bring her to us'

Samira Jassim worked with Sunni militants from the Ansar al-Sunnah group in Diyala province, one of the last remaining centres of Sunni insurgency, Iraqi security officials said.
 
Women can sometimes bypass the security checks in Iraqi cities

She had recruited 80 women to act as bombers, 28 of whom had gone on to launch attacks, a military spokesman told journalists at a news conference in Baghdad. 

In a filmed confession, the black-robed Jassim described how she recruited one woman for an attack in the city of Mukdadiyah, 100 km (62 miles) northeast of Baghdad.

"I talked to her a number of times," she said. "I went back to them (the militants) and gave them the details on her. And they told me, bring her to us... And I took her to the police station and that's where she blew herself up."

She also described the long process of persuading a woman named Amal, who had family problems, to launch an attack.

"I talked to her many times, sat with her and she was very depressed," she said.

In a separate interview with AP a week after her 21 January arrest, Jassim also described how insurgents used organised rape as a way of generating more bombers. Her role was to persuade the traumatised victims that carrying out a suicide attack was their only way out.

That claim was impossible to verify, AP said, and during their interview with her police interrogators sat in an adjoining room.  But in a culture where rape is considered very shameful for the victim, it is not implausible, correspondents say.
24659  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Agradecimiento de cada dia on: February 04, 2009, 08:58:42 AM
Agradezco que mi hijo ha cambiado de escuela.  Estamos muy, muy contentos con la nueva situacion.
24660  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: February 04, 2009, 08:57:08 AM
Gracias por los informes Denny. 
24661  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Dog Brothers Facebook on: February 04, 2009, 08:54:08 AM
"Te comprendo y para ello utilizo una frece que dice: "¡GANALE AL PRI!",   me entiendes?"

Pues costo unos 70 anos, pero al fin gano' el PAN.  Pues tengo 10 anos de matrimonio y 56 anos de edad.  Parece que estoy j*d*do.  cheesy
24662  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: February 04, 2009, 08:51:07 AM
"I think i've proven that I absolutely cannot be enlightened....  ; )"

Argue for your limitations and they are yours.  cheesy
24663  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton on: February 04, 2009, 08:49:04 AM
"The fabric of American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE. The streams of national power ought to flow from that pure, original fountain of all legitimate authority."

--Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 22, 14 December 1787
24664  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / G. Friedman: Afghan supplies, Russian demands on: February 04, 2009, 08:39:07 AM


Afghan Supplies, Russian Demands
By GEORGE FRIEDMAN
Published: February 3, 2009
Washington

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Alex Nabaum
THE Taliban didn’t wait long to test Barack Obama. On Tuesday, militants bombed a bridge in the Khyber Pass region in Pakistan, cutting off supply lines to NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan. This poses a serious problem for President Obama, who has said that he wants more American troops in Afghanistan. But troops need supplies.

The attack was another reminder that the supply line through Pakistan is extremely vulnerable. This means that the Obama administration might have to consider alternative routes through Russia or other parts of the former Soviet Union. But the Russians were unhappy about the Bush administration’s willingness to include Ukraine and Georgia in NATO, and they will probably not want to help with American supply lines unless Mr. Obama changes that position.

In addition to our guaranteeing that NATO will not expand further, the Russians seem to want the United States to promise that NATO forces will not be based in the Baltic countries, and that the United States will not try to dominate Central Asia. In other words, Russia wants the United States to pledge that it will respect the Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union. They will probably want this guarantee to be very public, as a signal to the region — and the Europeans — of Russian dominance. This is one guarantee that Mr. Obama will not want to give.

There is also no certainty that countries in the Russian sphere of influence, like Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, would agree to let the United States use these routes without Russian permission.

Here is where Mr. Obama could use some European help. Unfortunately, that’s not likely to come soon. Many Europeans, particularly Germans, rely on Russia’s natural gas. In January, the Russians cut natural gas shipments to Ukraine. As much of the Russian natural gas that goes to Europe runs through Ukraine, the cutoff affected European supplies — in the middle of winter. Europeans can’t really afford to irritate the Russians, and it’s hard to imagine that the Germans will confront them over supply routes to Afghanistan. Pakistan, unfortunately, is hardly a reliable partner either.

So how can Mr. Obama reconcile the two goals of strengthening the American presence in Afghanistan while curbing Russian expansionism? The answer is to rely less on troops, and more on covert operations like the C.I.A. Covert operators are far more useful for the actual war that we are fighting (and they can carry their supplies on their backs). The primary American interest in Afghanistan, after all, is preventing terrorist groups from using it as a base for training and planning major attacks. Increasing the number of conventional troops will not help with this mission.

What we need in Afghanistan is intelligence, and special operations forces and air power that can take advantage of that intelligence. Fighting terrorists requires identifying and destroying small, dispersed targets. We would need far fewer forces for such a mission than the number that are now deployed. They would make us much less dependent on supply deliveries, which would help solve our Russian problem.

Winding down the conventional war while increasing the covert one will demand a cultural change in Washington. The Obama administration seems to prefer the conventional route of putting more troops on the ground. That would be a feasible strategy if supply lines to Afghanistan were secure. The loss of that bridge yesterday demonstrates very clearly that they are not.

George Friedman is the chief executive of Stratfor, a global intelligence company, and the author of “The Next 100 Years.”

24665  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 04, 2009, 08:21:54 AM
I agree strongly about the risks of protectionism, trade wars, beggar-thy-neighbor devaluations.

In his brilliant "The War the World Works" Jude Wanniski has the most insightful analysis of the causes of the Great Depression that I have ever seen.  Bottom line-- fragmentation of the world economy via protectionism, trade wars, beggar-thy-neighbor devaluations and FDR's liberal fascist economic policies.
24666  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / From SNAFU to TARFU to FUBAR on: February 04, 2009, 08:15:39 AM
Second post of the AM:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090203/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_afghanistan


Pentagon study: US should pare Afghanistan goals
By ROBERT BURNS and PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writers
29 mins ago

WASHINGTON – A classified Pentagon report urges President Barack Obama to shift U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan, de-emphasizing democracy-building and concentrating more on targeting Taliban and al-Qaida sanctuaries inside Pakistan with the aid of Pakistani military forces.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has seen the report prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but it has not yet been presented to the White House, officials said Tuesday. The recommendations are one element of a broad policy reassessment under way along with recommendations to be considered by the White House from the commander of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. David Petraeus, and other military leaders.

A senior defense official said Tuesday that it will likely take several weeks before the Obama administration rolls out its long-term strategy for Afghanistan.

The Joint Chiefs' plan reflects growing worries that the U.S. military was taking on more than it could handle in Afghanistan by pursuing the Bush administration's broad goal of nurturing a thriving democratic government.

Instead, the plan calls for a more narrowly focused effort to root out militant strongholds along the Pakistani border and inside the neighboring country, according to officials who confirmed the essence of the report. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the plan publicly.

The recommendations are broadly cast and provide limited detail, meant to help develop the overarching strategy for the Afghanistan-Pakistan region rather than propose a detailed military action plan.

During a press conference Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs noted ongoing reviews of Afghan policy, but did not say when they would be made public. Obama intends, he said, to "evaluate the current direction of our policy and make some corrections as he goes forward."

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman would not comment Tuesday on the details of the Joint Chiefs' report, but acknowledged that the U.S. relationship with Pakistan is a critical component for success in Afghanistan.
"When you talk about Afghanistan, you can't help but also recognize the fact that the border region with Pakistan is obviously a contributing factor to the stability and security of Afghanistan, and the work that Pakistan is doing to try to reduce and eliminate those safe havens, and the ability for people to move across that border that are engaged in hostile intentions," Whitman said.

Part of the recommended approach is to search for ways to work more intensively and effectively with the Pakistanis to root out extremist elements in the border area, the senior defense official said.

The heightened emphasis on Pakistan reflects a realization that the root of the problem lies in the militant havens inside its border — a concern outlined last week to Congress in grim testimony by Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen.

But the report does not imply more incursions by U.S. combat forces inside Pakistan or accelerating other forms of U.S. military involvement, the senior defense official emphasized. Pakistani officials have repeatedly raised alarms after a surge of U.S. Hellfire missile strikes from drone predators in recent months, and renewed those complaints after a new strike killed 19 people inside Pakistan days after Obama took office.

"The bottom line is we have to look at what the art of the possible is there," said a U.S. military official who has operated in Afghanistan. The official, who has not seen the Joint Chiefs' report, said the challenge is to craft a strategy that achieves U.S. goals of stabilizing the region and constraining al-Qaida, but also takes into account the powerful tribes that resist a strong central government and the ties among ethnic Pashtuns on either side of the Afghan-Pakistan border.

The Joint Chiefs' report advises a greater emphasis on U.S. military training of Pakistani forces for counter-terror work.

Pakistan's government is well aware of growing U.S. interest in collaborating to improve its military's muscle against al-Qaida and Taliban elements in the border areas. The topic has been broached repeatedly by senior U.S. officials, including Mullen.

The training efforts also would expand and develop the Afghan army and police force, while at the same time work to improve Afghan governance.

The report also stresses that Afghan strategy must be driven by what the Afghans want, and that the U.S. cannot impose its own goals on the Afghanistan government.

During discussions about a new Afghanistan strategy, military leaders expressed worries that the U.S. ambitions in Afghanistan — to stabilize the country and begin to build a democracy there — were beyond its ability.
And as they tried to balance military demands in both Iraq and Afghanistan, some increasingly questioned why the U.S. continued to maintain a war-fighting force in Iraq, even though the mission there has shifted to a more support role. Those fighting forces, they argued, were needed more urgently in Afghanistan.
Military leaders have been signaling for weeks that the focus of U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan would change.

Gates told armed services committees in Congress last week that the U.S. should keep its sights on one thing: preventing Afghanistan from being used as a base for terrorists and extremists who would harm the U.S. or its allies. He bluntly added that the military could not root out terrorists while also propping up Afghanistan's fledgling democracy.

"Afghanistan is the fourth or fifth poorest country in the world, and if we set ourselves the objective of creating some sort of Central Asian Valhalla over there, we will lose," Gates said, a mythology reference to heaven.
Sen. John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Tuesday that he was briefed last week on the military's proposed new Afghan strategy, which he called evolving but headed in the right direction.
"There will be no Anbar awakening," McCain, R-Ariz., told The Associated Press, referring to the tribal uprising against al-Qaida in Iraq's Anbar province that triggered a turnaround in that conflict. "It will be long, hard and difficult."

The Joint Chiefs report's overall conclusions were first reported Saturday by The Associated Press. Politico reported additional details of the report Tuesday.

The U.S. is considering doubling its troop presence in Afghanistan this year to roughly 60,000, in response to growing strength by the Islamic militant Taliban, fed by safe havens they and al-Qaida have developed in an increasingly unstable Pakistan.

Obama is expected to announce soon his decision on a request for additional forces from the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. David McKiernan. Several officials said they believe the president will approve sending three additional combat brigades to Afghanistan, totaling roughly 14,000 troops.
___

Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor, Anne Gearan, Pamela Hess, Lara Jakes and Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

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24667  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Bill to ban folders in Hawaii on: February 04, 2009, 08:06:46 AM
http://www.blademag.com:80/article/hawaiibillwouldbanfolders/

Hawaii Bill Would Ban Folders
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

February 02, 2009

On Jan. 11, 2009, Hawaii Senator Les Ihara, Jr. introduced Bill 126 that would essentially ban folding knives throughout the state. In a letter to the senator, David Kowalski, of the American Knife & Tool Institute, laid out why the bill is bad for law-abiding knife owners.

Currently, Hawaiian law applies only to possession of switchblades, enforceable at the felony level. Bill 126 would expand the scope of knife regulation to include folders. However, the penalty would be a misdemeanor, not a felony.

What follows is Kowalski's letter.

Dear Senator Ihara:
 
The bill you introduced last week (HI S 126) would make de facto criminals of tens of thousands of your law-abiding  citizens and potentially millions more who visit your beautiful state each year. It reads, in part…
 A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO DANGEROUS WEAPONS. BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
     SECTION 1. Chapter 134, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to part III to be appropriately designated and to read as follows: "Section 134- Pocket knives; sale prohibited; penalty. Any person who knowingly manufactures, sells, transfers, possesses, or transports a pocket knife in the State shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. As used in this section: "Pocket knife" means a knife with a blade that folds into the handle and which is suitable for  carrying in the pocket."

On behalf of the American Knife & Tool Institute (AKTI), which represents the $1 Billion sporting knife industry in the United States, I would ask two things of you.

First, please call me at your earliest convenience to discuss this proposed legislation. I understand you have introduced the bill at the request of a constituent. It would be important to understand your goals and those of your constituent. While passing a knife law might seem a simple issue, there are grave consequences if it is vague, discriminatory, highly discretionary or simply so broad it is unenforceable.
 
AKTI has worked successfully with lawmakers in several states to make sure their knife laws support the goals of law enforcement, mesh with the needs of a diverse and strong economy, preserve the heritage of men and women who hunt, fish, and enjoy a broad variety of outdoor recreation, allow the construction industry to function at a high level, and preserve the rights of ordinary citizens who may have carried a knife their entire life to open letters and do some pruning in the rose garden.
 
Secondly, I would ask you to consider just a few issues that might give you some new insight into the issues that your bill raises.
 
Broadly, AKTI supports rational, equitable knife laws. Simple possession of a knife should not be punished. Knives do no harm unless used by someone who intends to harm. But we do support significant punishment of anyone who uses a knife in the commission of a crime.
 
Every five years, our U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service documents the impact of hunting and fishing in each of the
50 states. Released in the fall of 2007, its 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated
Recreation documents that, nationally, hunters and fishers spend more than $76 Billion annually (State statistics page attached).
 
Hawaii benefited from an estimated $163,363,000 spent by hunters and fishers in 2006. Since most hunters and fishers carry knives, we should not subject them to prosecution for knife possession or jeopardize that vital revenue.
 
Your marine and sport fishing industry is heavily dependent on knife usage. To forbid pocket knives on the docks and marinas of Hawaii would be an economic disaster and an enforcement nightmare.
 
Speaking further about economics, AKTI published its own report in 2007 entitled The AKTI State of the Sporting Knife Industry. Projections from the AKTI study peg annual sporting knife revenue at the manufacturer/importer level in Hawaii at $41,686,375.
 
Sales at Hawaii distribution and retail outlets would nearly double that number to some $82 million. That’s a
lot of jobs, taxes and economic vitality. When you run those dollars through all the local economies affected, the total economic impact of the sporting knife industry in Hawaii approaches $492 million annually.
 
The construction trades are heavily dependent on workmen using knives. They carry them from homes to job sites and back again daily … millions of times each day. I am not an expert on the Hawaiian construction trades, but ask yourself how many of these people could keep Hawaii building and growing without all their necessary tools.
 
Carpenters, electricians, plumbers, auto mechanics, farm workers, greenhouse staff, lawn care workers, tree trimmers, nursery and garden center staff all use knives daily. Scientific research is significant in Hawaii where pocket knives are commonly used to procure samples. Then there are thousands of gardeners throughout the islands, many of whom carry a knife on their person. To bust every grandmother in her rose garden for carrying and using a pocket knife would be a social disaster beyond measure.
 
I have been to Hawaii several times. My small folding knife goes into checked baggage when I fly but then I carry it when I go biking or whale watching. Multiply me by millions of visitors who hunt, fish, hike, rock climb, bike, kayak, canoe, deep-sea fish, snorkel or scuba. Do you really want to threaten all those law-abiding visitors with arrest for carrying a small pocket knife? Whether they come from the continental U.S. or the Pacific Rim countries, their tourist dollars are very discretionary dollars and they can take them elsewhere.
 
Knives are man’s oldest tools. We don’t ban automobiles or cameras or computers because they have become more complex in mechanism and materials, more sophisticated in design, more aesthetically rich, and focused on ever-narrower market niches. We don’t ban baseball bats or golf clubs because they can cause physical injury.
 
Ideally, AKTI’s position is that knife possession of any sort should be permitted. AKTI’s ideal law would read, "A knife is illegal only if it is carried with the intent to assault or harm another person." However, I recognize that Hawaii already bans switchblades (and I have attached your current knife statute).
 
AKTI and AKTI members urge you to withdraw your bill since, as it is written, it would be a broad-brush attack on millions of law-abiding Hawaiian citizens and visitors. Its economic impact on several vital industries would be disastrous, especially given our current economic climate.
24668  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Liberal Fascism strikes again on: February 04, 2009, 07:45:25 AM
'They say we're too old to care for our grandchildren': Social workers hand brother and sister to gay men for adoption

By Graham Grant and Marcello Mega
Last updated at 12:38 AM on 29th January 2009

Two young children are to be adopted by a gay couple, despite the protests of their grandparents.  The devastated grandparents were told they would never see the youngsters again unless they dropped their opposition.  The couple, who cannot be named, wanted to give the five-year-old boy and his four-year-old sister a loving home themselves. But they were ruled to be too old - at 46 and 59.

For two years they fought for their rights to care for the children, whose 26-year- old mother is a recovering heroin addict. They agreed to an adoption only after they faced being financially crippled by legal bills.  The final blow came when they were told the children were going to a gay household, even though several heterosexual couples wanted them.

When the grandfather protested, he was told: 'You can either accept it, and there's a chance you'll see the children twice a year, or you can take that stance and never see them again.' The man said last night: 'It breaks my heart to think that our grandchildren are being forced to grow up in an environment without a mother figure. We are not prejudiced, but I defy anyone to explain to us how this can be in their best interests.'

Social workers themselves have admitted that the little girl is 'more wary' of men than women.

The case, in Edinburgh, raises worrying issues about state interference in family life.

It will also fuel concern over the practice of gay adoption, which has been promoted by Left-wing ministers and council bosses.
Some local authorities forbid adoption by smokers and obese people but actively support gay fostering and adoption - even though research shows overwhelmingly that children are best brought up by a mother and father.

The grandparents first stepped in because the children's mother was unable to look after them.

But council social workers became worried that the grandparents' ages and health problems meant they would also be unable to care for the children properly. The 59-year-old grandfather, a farm worker, has angina while his wife is receiving medication for diabetes.
The children were taken into foster care during the two years of court hearings.

When the grandparents eventually conceded defeat, they were assured by social workers that they would still have regular contact with them. The fostering arrangement worked well, but the council decided that the children should be adopted, to give them a permanent home.  The grandparents agreed - as long as they could be assured that the adoptive parents would be a loving mother and father.  The couple were then told an adoption had been arranged - but the grandfather 'hit the roof' when he discovered that the adoptive parents were two gay men.

Social workers dealing with the case admitted that heterosexual couples who were approved as adoptive parents had also been keen to adopt the children.  The decision was taken even though a confidential social work report - now part of the court records held by the grandparents - contained that the little girl is generally not as happy around men.

The report says she 'has tended to be more wary of males in general.'

Her grandparents insist they are not homophobic.

But they reject the view of social workers that the decision to allow the gay couple to adopt the children was made 'in accordance with who can best meet their needs.'

When they made their opposition clear, however, the couple were told that social workers would 'certainly look' at allowing them access to the children 'when you are able to come back with an open mind on the issues'.

The grandfather was told by a social worker: 'If you couldn't support the children [in the gay adoption], if you were having contact and couldn't support the children, and were showing negative feelings, it wouldn't be in their best interests for contact to take place.'

He said last night: 'The ideal for any child is to have a loving father and a loving mother in their lives. But in our society the mother is generally the cornerstone of the family and the most important person for a young child.'

His wife added: 'It's so important for children to fit in, and I feel our grandchildren will be marked out from the start when they draw pictures of their two dads.'

The last time the couple saw their grandchildren was shortly after the agreement for them to be adopted but before the decision to place them with a gay couple.  They took dozens of photographs and tried, for the sake of the youngsters, not to break down.

'Granny, I'm not going to see you for a very long time,' said the five-year-old boy. 'Maybe when I'm in Primary Seven I'll be able to see you.'

'We'll try our very hardest to see you soon,' said his grandmother, choking back tears.

The boy told his grandfather: 'Grandad, if you want to see me you will have to pick me up because I will be a very long way away.'
Then he added innocently: 'We are getting a new mummy and daddy.'

A spokesman for the Roman Catholic church condemned the council's decision last night, warning that the children's welfare could be jeopardised.
Peter Kearney said: 'This is a devastating decision which will have a serious impact on the welfare of the children involved.  There is an overwhelming body of evidence showing that same-sex relationships are inherently unstable and reduce the life expectancy of those involved.  With this in mind, the social work department has deliberately ignored evidence which undermines their decision and opted for politically correct posturing rather than providing stability and protection.  It is impossible to see how this decision is in the best interests of the children.'

The City of Edinburgh Council said last night that it could not comment on individual cases.

Adoption by gay couples in Scotland was approved by MSPs in 2006 - despite an official consultation process which showed that nearly 90 per cent of people opposed it.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...ld--46-59.html
24669  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Membership on: February 04, 2009, 07:32:06 AM
For the record Tyler is also a Trainer in DBMAA.

Gord, hope you can make it to the seminar this weekend in Toronto.
24670  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Farah on: February 04, 2009, 07:24:15 AM
Bringing GM's post from the Cognitive Dissonance thread to here.  My comments come at the end:

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


http://www.douglasfarah.com/article/447/understanding-the-islamist-agenda-and-negotiations.com

Feb 2, 15:42
Understanding the Islamist Agenda and Negotiations

There are many good reasons for wanting to talk directly to one’s enemies, particularly states that pose a direct threat to one’s security. The Obama administration, facing a host of domestic problems and inheriting the ineffective policies of the previous administration in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, has incentives to want to get the Iran issue contained, at a minimum.

The same can be said for the Afghanistan crisis, which is lurching from bad to worse. The Taliban, flush with opium money, is making inroads while the corrupt and ineffective government fiddles, and Kabul is close to burning.

But one has to be clear that the other side wants some sort of serious back and forth. This is what is missing in both cases.

One must start from a recognition of what it is Iran wants: the abolition of Israel, the unimpeded sponsorship of armed non-state actors (Hezbollah and Hamas, with the dalliance with al Qaeda when convenient), and imposition of a global theocracy. None of these issues is negotiable.

From this Wall Street Journal piece, it is quite clear that Iran sees nothing to be gained by talks, and much to be gained by trying to humiliate the incoming administration. Perhaps they are simply recognizing the reality that their basic goals leave little room for substantive negotiations.

It seems to me that Fareed Zakaria makes serious mistake in his assessment of Afghanistan policy in calling for talks with the Taliban.

This is largely for the same reason: the lack of a understanding of what the Taliban want and what they are.

Like the Iranians (yes, the Taliban is Sunni and wahhabist, and yes the Iranians are Shi’ite and they have much disdain for each other on many issues) the Taliban has as its bottom line the establishment of a global Islamist caliphate that starts in Afghanistan and from there, the world.

The differences with al Qaeda are cultural clashes and discomfort with the way the Arab forces treat the Taliban, but not over fundamental beliefs, tactics or strategy. A world under Sharia law, as understood by both groups, is a divine mandate and therefore not negotiable.

Zakaria writes that:

The United States is properly and unalterably
opposed to al-Qaeda. We have significant differences with the Taliban on many issues—democracy and the treatment of women being the most serious. But we do not wage war on other Islamist groups with which we similarly disagree (the Saudi monarchy, for example). Were elements of the Taliban to abandon al-Qaeda, we would not have a pressing national security interest in waging war against them.

That is simply not true. As he notes later, al Qaeda (the old guard, perhaps less relevant than ever) is essentially a parasite, living off host groups and nations. But in the case of the Taliban, the host has welcomed the parasite, fed it, clothed it, protected it and embraced it.

The idea that the Taliban would, in a verifiable way, renounce and cut ties to al Qaeda, is simply not realistic. The idea that we should stand by and deal with-and likely assure the ascent to power of-a group whose basic philosophy is to return everything they can back to the Middle Ages is an abandonment of everything we claim to stand for. The fact that we tolerate Saudi Arabia’s abysmal behavior is no reason to watch another country fall under the worst kind of enslavement and barbarism.

Finally, the line about having no pressing national security interest in the Taliban repeats exactly the misguided analysis that led the Taliban to facilitate the execution of the 9/11 attacks. Every major attack (1998 East Africa bombings, USS Cole, 9/11) were carried out by non-state actors (al Qaeda) operating from a “failed” state or sympathetic state (Taliban and Sudan).

Dialogue is a useful, vital tool in international relations. But it is only useful when the bottom lines of both sides are understood and the areas of overlap can be discussed. Otherwise, it is a waste of precious time and resources.
Posted on: February 03, 2009, 08:50:25 PMPosted by: G M 
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Tom Daschle Withdraws: Another Ethics Casualty for Obama
Posted By Jennifer Rubin On February 3, 2009 @ 10:53 am In . Feature 01, Money, Politics, US News | 73 Comments

How quickly they fall. Tom Daschle, who just yesterday had the full backing of President Barack Obama, has announced he is withdrawing his name from consideration as Health and Human Services secretary. For both Daschle and Obama, it has been a rough ride, calling into question the latter’s judgment and skill as a chief executive.

President Barack Obama rode into Washington on a veritable cloud of goodwill and sky-high expectations. The mainstream media had swooned over his transition with some justification. They had swooned over his inaugural speech with far less. But hopes, even among conservatives, were high for a break from business as usual, a degree of bipartisan pragmatism and a can-do approach to solving the nation’s economic problems. But in a mere two weeks, the thrill is gone and nagging questions have begun.

Most glaringly, we have been treated to a raft of embarrassing personnel issues. Tim Geithner made it through the confirmation hearing but Bill Richardson did not; nor did the “[1] chief performance officer” who could not perform the task of paying all her own taxes. Then Tom Daschle, who just yesterday garnered the support of President Obama and Democrats in the Senate, has now announced he is backing out. This followed a storm of criticism from not just conservatives who are aghast at the tax cheats and revolving-door-ism. [2] Marie Cocco summed up:

No need to fumble for words that sum up the stew of hypocrisy, arrogance, and insiderism that is the unfolding saga of Tom Daschle. This is the audacity of audacity. … The rationale for confirming Geithner was that he is a financial wizard — one of a handful of people, it was argued, with the experience and intellect necessary to manage the worst banking crisis since the Great Depression. But surely there is more than one Democrat capable of managing the Department of Health and Human Services. And undoubtedly there is more than one — there are perhaps, hundreds — as committed to the cause of revamping the health care system. Daschle isn’t indispensable. But he is indefensible.

And [3] Richard Cohen was no less critical:

Taken individually, the tax problems of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the health and human services secretary-designate, Tom Daschle, don’t amount to much. Together, though, they amount to a message: If you are beloved by this administration, you don’t necessarily have to play by the rules. Both Geithner and Daschle are good men, but their appointments send the message that Washington’s new broom sweeps a bit like the old one.

The Daschle debacle is not the only problem bedeviling the Obama team. This follows a slew of ethics waivers which has made the so-called ethics rules (prohibiting ex-lobbyists from working on issues for which they previously lobbied) into Swiss cheese. The [4] good-government types are fuming. And even the MSM has noticed the pattern, which includes an ethics waiver for William Lynn, a former lobbyist for defense contractor Raytheon who has been nominated for the Pentagon’s number two job.

[5] TIME magazine explains:

But the controversy over the waivers, which have been criticized by both Democratic and Republican senators, is just one of the perception problems dogging Obama’s new ethics policy. Another issue stems from the people nominated to the administration who have worked in the lobbying business but are not technically lobbyists — people, in other words, like Tom Daschle, or former Senator George Mitchell, the new Middle East peace envoy who had previously served as the chairman of a law firm that has done lobbying and legal work for many clients in the region, including the leader of Dubai.

In short, we are back to the very same Washington, D.C., brew of sleaze, double standards, ethical lapses, and hypocrisy. That it comes from an administration which ran on such a sanctimonious platform only makes it that much more disappointing and indeed infuriating.

But that’s not all. Aside from the ethics issues, the number one priority, the Obama stimulus plan, has run aground. The administration’s stimulus bill has become the subject of widespread criticism from [6] conservatives and [7] mainstream outlets alike for its porked-up spending plans and insufficient attention to fulfill the president’s directives for a temporary and targeted response to the recession. What was supposed to garner bipartisan support has instead invigorated the Republican opposition. As ABC’s [8] The Note summed up: “Team Obama lost the early battle to define the bill — which has become a pork-stuffed monstrosity, instead of economic salvation wrapped in legislation.”

On foreign policy the record is more mixed. The president’s declaration that he will close Guantanamo, as soon as he has figured out what to do with the prisoners, brought conservative criticism and has proven to be [9] unpopular with voters who, come to think of it, don’t like the idea of moving dangerous terrorists to their neighborhoods or releasing them to the battlefield. And liberals are miffed that the Bush-era terrorist [10] rendition program has been retained or indeed expanded. President Obama’s apologetic interview with Al-Arabyia was panned by conservatives and lauded by liberals (but, tellingly, was not echoed by his new secretary of state and was greeted with contempt by Ahmadinejad.)

It is fair to ask: what’s wrong? Several things, it appears, are at work here.

First, the Obama team certainly does not place ethical standards or the appearance of ethical standards above other concerns (e.g., avoiding embarrassment or getting a key player). Now this should come as no surprise from the team which promised to work within the public campaign financing rules and then decided it was better not to. In the course of the campaign, however, against the dreaded Republicans this passed muster. In the glare of the White House press corps lights when expectations are higher, it induces biting criticism and even anger.

Second, Obama has never been an expert legislator and has, it seems, lost control of his own stimulus bill. By deferring to the House Democrats he lost the policy and political high ground. Now an astounding [11] 54% of Americans either want a major reworking of the bill or to block it entirely. The president and his advisors seem to have mistaken his own personal popularity with both the public’s and the Republicans’ willingness to accept anything he and the Democrats could dream up.

And finally, the Republicans have played their cards well on the stimulus — speaking in respectful tones about the president, displaying heretofore unheard of unity, and hammering at the excessive and unwise aspects of the stimulus bill. By holding their ground, they have forced Obama into a tight corner. He must now either revise the bill or pass it on his own. And by standing on principle, they have denied the president the chance to do what he has done successfully throughout his career; namely, to claim the mantle of bipartisanship while advocating a far-left agenda.

Now, President Obama’s approval numbers are still high, but they are [12] floating steadily back to earth. This is the messy business of governing — when rhetoric comes up against reality and the sky-high expectations of supporters are ratcheted down, bit by bit.

It was never realistic to expect President Obama would reinvent politics, but it would have been nice had he not sacrificed his principles quite so quickly. It has not earned him any brownie points. Instead, conservatives are revived, liberals are dismayed, and the general public is left wondering: Didn’t we vote for something better than this?

Article printed from Pajamas Media: http://pajamasmedia.com

URL to article: http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/tom-daschle-another-ethics-casualty-for-obama/

URLs in this post:
[1] chief performance officer: http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/02/03/1778480.aspx
[2] Marie Cocco: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/02/daschle_is_indefensible.html
[3] Richard Cohen: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/02/AR2009020202054.html
[4] good-government types: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/01/23/william-lynn-obamas-first_n_160512.html
[5] TIME magazine: http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1876550,00.html?xid=rss-topstories
[6] conservatives: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/016/100dyjdy.asp
[7] mainstream: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/31/AR2009013101535.html
[8] The Note: http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2009/02/the-note-2309-s.html
[9] unpopular: http://www.gallup.com/poll/114091/Americans-Approve-Obama-Actions-Date.aspx
[10] rendition program: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/rubin/52402
[11] 54%: http://www.gallup.com/poll/114097/Americans-Support-Stimulus-Major-Changes.aspx
[12] floating steadily back: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/polls

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

GM:

So what does Farah/do you propose?  THAT is the question!  For many months now I have been questioning the coherence of our strategy for Afg-Pak.   I am not alone in this.   Indendent reporter Michael Yon (whom I respect so highly that I donate to him on a monthly basis) says a clusterfcuk comes.  Sec Def Gates, not a weenie, says similar things.   WHAT ARE WE TO DO?   WHAT IS THE STRATEGY?  What does success in Afg look like?
24671  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 04, 2009, 07:19:38 AM
Woof All:

This thread is in danger of becoming a ghoulash of everything about BO which annoys us. GM, I'm thinking that the piece you post better belongs in one of the threads on WW3, our strategy vs. Islamo-fascism, the Afg-Pak thread etc.   

Anyone interested in responding to it please do so in one of those threads.

Thank you,
Marc
24672  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Bird Flu breakout in China? on: February 04, 2009, 07:13:45 AM
A friend forwarded the following to me.  The site's reliability is unknown to me

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/health/news/article_1457257.php/Hong_Kong_expert_warns_of_%26quotterrible%26quot_China_bird-flu_outbreak__Roundup__
24673  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: February 04, 2009, 07:12:12 AM
"Sounds like a zen koan."

Exactly.  Perhaps in its contemplation you will find satori.   grin
24674  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Dog and elephant become friends on: February 04, 2009, 07:10:21 AM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1o0GsA4qDHE
24675  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: February 03, 2009, 08:22:18 PM
Exactly so.
24676  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: February 03, 2009, 08:16:51 PM
Question:  You know those you caught.   How do you know those you didn't?
24677  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Muslim (Pak? Arab? or?) mob set Brit police fleeing on: February 03, 2009, 07:10:34 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UatySUUOJYM
24678  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: February 03, 2009, 06:07:01 PM
Well of course it is!  You are a LEO!  cheesy cheesy cheesy



24679  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: February 03, 2009, 05:20:43 PM
No.

One of my best friends in law school (Columbia) made law review and later went on to become a senior VP of legal affairs at a major Hollywood studio as well as a law professor. 

His modus operandi before plowing into some heavy SEC regs was to fire up a fat doobie.  It wasn't my way, but it sure worked for him.

GM, I could give you lots and lots of stories like this.  Perhaps because of your profession, there are a lot of people around you who unbeknownst to you, are stoners.  Unlike you, because of my pursuit of happiness, live and let live approach to life, such people do not fear that I will try to throw them in jail-- so they see no need to hide from me who they are.
24680  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 03, 2009, 12:42:32 PM
There's a very funny post on the Phelps pot affair over on the Libertarian thread of the SCH forum.  I'm thinking any discussion of this will be a better fit there than on this thread here.
24681  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Phony War on Torture on: February 03, 2009, 12:27:59 PM
Congress's Phony War on Torture Why not ban waterboarding once and for all?By WILLIAM MCGURN
Article
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When Leon Panetta comes before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday about his nomination to head the Central Intelligence Agency, he ought to be asked tough questions about the things he's said about torture. And he will.

At a time when key congressional Democrats are backing calls to investigate Bush administration officials for war crimes, it would help if our elected representatives first answered the tough questions themselves. But they won't. And therein lies the key to understanding contemporary congressional morality.

For the past few years, no word has been more casually thrown about than "torture." At the same time, no word has been less precisely defined. That suits Congress just fine, because it allows members to take a pass on defining the law while reserving the right to second-guess the poor souls on the front lines who actually have to make decisions about what the law means.

Last February, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid thumped loudly when they sent George W. Bush a bill that would have limited the CIA to the interrogation techniques found in the Army Field Manual -- knowing full well that he would veto it. Now they have a Democratic president who says he shares their views. So why not send him a bill declaring once and for all that waterboarding and other interrogation techniques constitute torture?

Manifestly our system of government gives them the right to do so. As CIA Director Michael Hayden noted in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in September 2007, the "CIA operates only within the space given to us by the American people. . . . That space is defined by the policy makers we elect and the laws our representatives pass."

Of course, defining that space would require something in short supply in Washington: an adult conversation. In such a conversation, good men and women could present the case for enhanced interrogation without having their words twisted and finding themselves held up in public as latter-day Torquemadas. Such a conversation might also begin by examining the reigning assumption of today's debate: that context and circumstances have nothing to say about what we call torture.

This is not the reasoning we apply in other areas. Consider a police officer who kills a criminal in a justifiable shooting. We do not call that murder, because the circumstances surrounding the act determine our judgment of that act. If that's true for something as serious as killing, is it really impossible that similar reasoning might apply to interrogation practices that leave no permanent physical or mental damage?

At times, even critics inadvertently make the point. When it is argued, for example, that Navy Seals have undergone waterboarding as part of their training, the response is, well, waterboarding someone as part of his military training is different from waterboarding someone in custody. Yes: Of course it is. In the real world, circumstances and context are crucial to our moral judgments.

While we're at it, let's forget about the theoretical ticking time bomb. Instead, consider a real assertion: Leaders in our intelligence community have declared that the intelligence gained from enhanced interrogations of high-value terrorists have helped save innocent lives.

You don't believe them? Fine. Bring in the people who know -- behind closed doors if you want them to speak honestly and avoid spilling classified information. And then come to an informed conclusion.

In a better day, Congress would allow the executive branch a great deal of latitude during a time of war. We, however, do not live in a better day. In our day, senators and congressmen call for inquisitions of people who operate within a vague torture statute that Congress could easily clarify if it wanted.

A year ago, the Speaker of the House expressed herself thus: "Failing to legally prohibit the use of waterboarding and other harsh techniques," she said, "undermines our nation's moral authority, puts American military and diplomatic personnel at risk, and undermines the quality of intelligence."

So what's stopping her? The ban President Barack Obama has put in place is not a law but an executive order that can be reversed. This order came, moreover, with a huge back door in the form of a "task force" that will study whether eliminating waterboarding and other enhanced techniques will affect our intelligence needs.

If Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Reid believe their own public statements that waterboarding and other techniques are both torture and ineffective, they ought to incorporate their words into a law that takes these practices off the table forever.

That, of course, would mean a vote that would force lawmakers to face up to the real-life consequences of their actions -- and submit those actions to the judgment of the American people.

And as Mr. Obama is learning, the one thing that frightens Congress more than al Qaeda is accountability.

24682  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Normalization of Evil on: February 03, 2009, 12:04:46 PM
By JUDEA PEARL
This week marks the seventh anniversary of the murder of our son, former Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. My wife Ruth and I wonder: Would Danny have believed that today's world emerged after his tragedy?

 
Reuters/Corbis
Jimmy Carter.
The answer does not come easily. Danny was an optimist, a true believer in the goodness of mankind. Yet he was also a realist, and would not let idealism bend the harshness of facts.

Neither he, nor the millions who were shocked by his murder, could have possibly predicted that seven years later his abductor, Omar Saeed Sheikh, according to several South Asian reports, would be planning terror acts from the safety of a Pakistani jail. Or that his murderer, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, now in Guantanamo, would proudly boast of his murder in a military tribunal in March 2007 to the cheers of sympathetic jihadi supporters. Or that this ideology of barbarism would be celebrated in European and American universities, fueling rally after rally for Hamas, Hezbollah and other heroes of "the resistance." Or that another kidnapped young man, Israeli Gilad Shalit, would spend his 950th day of captivity with no Red Cross visitation while world leaders seriously debate whether his kidnappers deserve international recognition.

No. Those around the world who mourned for Danny in 2002 genuinely hoped that Danny's murder would be a turning point in the history of man's inhumanity to man, and that the targeting of innocents to transmit political messages would quickly become, like slavery and human sacrifice, an embarrassing relic of a bygone era.

But somehow, barbarism, often cloaked in the language of "resistance," has gained acceptance in the most elite circles of our society. The words "war on terror" cannot be uttered today without fear of offense. Civilized society, so it seems, is so numbed by violence that it has lost its gift to be disgusted by evil.

I believe it all started with well-meaning analysts, who in their zeal to find creative solutions to terror decided that terror is not a real enemy, but a tactic. Thus the basic engine that propels acts of terrorism -- the ideological license to elevate one's grievances above the norms of civilized society -- was wished away in favor of seemingly more manageable "tactical" considerations.

This mentality of surrender then worked its way through politicians like the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone. In July 2005 he told Sky News that suicide bombing is almost man's second nature. "In an unfair balance, that's what people use," explained Mr. Livingstone.

But the clearest endorsement of terror as a legitimate instrument of political bargaining came from former President Jimmy Carter. In his book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," Mr. Carter appeals to the sponsors of suicide bombing. "It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Road-map for Peace are accepted by Israel." Acts of terror, according to Mr. Carter, are no longer taboo, but effective tools for terrorists to address perceived injustices.

Mr. Carter's logic has become the dominant paradigm in rationalizing terror. When asked what Israel should do to stop Hamas's rockets aimed at innocent civilians, the Syrian first lady, Asma Al-Assad, did not hesitate for a moment in her response: "They should end the occupation." In other words, terror must earn a dividend before it is stopped.

The media have played a major role in handing terrorism this victory of acceptability. Qatari-based Al Jazeera television, for example, is still providing Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi hours of free air time each week to spew his hateful interpretation of the Koran, authorize suicide bombing, and call for jihad against Jews and Americans.

Then came the August 2008 birthday of Samir Kuntar, the unrepentant killer who, in 1979, smashed the head of a four-year-old Israeli girl with his rifle after killing her father before her eyes. Al Jazeera elevated Kuntar to heroic heights with orchestras, fireworks and sword dances, presenting him to 50 million viewers as Arab society's role model. No mainstream Western media outlet dared to expose Al Jazeera efforts to warp its young viewers into the likes of Kuntar. Al Jazeera's management continues to receive royal treatment in all major press clubs.

Some American pundits and TV anchors didn't seem much different from Al Jazeera in their analysis of the recent war in Gaza. Bill Moyers was quick to lend Hamas legitimacy as a "resistance" movement, together with honorary membership in PBS's imaginary "cycle of violence." In his Jan. 9 TV show, Mr. Moyers explained to his viewers that "each [side] greases the cycle of violence, as one man's terrorism becomes another's resistance to oppression." He then stated -- without blushing -- that for readers of the Hebrew Bible "God-soaked violence became genetically coded." The "cycle of violence" platitude allows analysts to empower terror with the guise of reciprocity, and, amazingly, indict terror's victims for violence as immutable as DNA.

When we ask ourselves what it is about the American psyche that enables genocidal organizations like Hamas -- the charter of which would offend every neuron in our brains -- to become tolerated in public discourse, we should take a hard look at our universities and the way they are currently being manipulated by terrorist sympathizers.

At my own university, UCLA, a symposium last week on human rights turned into a Hamas recruitment rally by a clever academic gimmick. The director of the Center for Near East Studies carefully selected only Israel bashers for the panel, each of whom concluded that the Jewish state is the greatest criminal in human history.

The primary purpose of the event was evident the morning after, when unsuspecting, uninvolved students read an article in the campus newspaper titled, "Scholars say: Israel is in violation of human rights in Gaza," to which the good name of the University of California was attached. This is where Hamas scored its main triumph -- another inch of academic respectability, another inroad into Western minds.

Danny's picture is hanging just in front of me, his warm smile as reassuring as ever. But I find it hard to look him straight in the eyes and say: You did not die in vain.

Mr. Pearl, a professor of computer science at UCLA, is president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, founded in memory of his son to promote cross-cultural understanding
24683  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson: Perpetual Debt on: February 03, 2009, 11:55:46 AM
"We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt."

--Thomas Jefferson, letter to Samuel Kercheval, 12 July 1816
24684  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Iraq is BO's pillar on: February 03, 2009, 11:32:10 AM
Imagine yourself as Barack Obama, gazing at a map of the greater Middle East and wondering how, and where, the United States can best make a fresh start in the region.

 
AP
An Iraqi man holds up an ink-stained finger after casting his vote in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, Jan. 31.

Your gaze wanders rightward to Pakistan, where preventing war with India, economic collapse or the Talibanization of half the country would be achievement enough. Next door is Afghanistan, where you are committing more troops, all so you can prop up a government that is by turns hapless and corrupt.

Next there is Iran, drawing ever closer to its bomb. You're mulling the shape of a grand bargain, but Israel is talking pre-emption. Speaking of Israel, you're girding for a contentious relationship with the hawkish Benjamin Netanyahu, the all-but certain next prime minister.

What about Israel's neighbors? Palestine is riven between feckless moderates and pitiless fanatics. Lebanon and Hezbollah are nearly synonyms. You'd love to nudge Syria out of Iran's orbit, but Bashar Assad isn't inclined. In Egypt, a succession crisis looms the moment its octogenarian president retires to his grave.

And then there is Iraq, the country in the middle that you would have just as soon banished from sight. How's it doing? Perplexingly well.

The final tallies for Saturday's provincial elections aren't in yet. But a few conclusions are warranted. This time, the election seems to have been mostly free of fraud; four years ago, it was beset by fraud. This time, there was almost no violence; four years ago, there were 299 terrorist attacks. This time, 40% of voters in the overwhelmingly Sunni province of Anbar went to the polls; four years ago, turnout was 2%.

In 2005, Iraqis voted their sectarian preferences. Now sectarian parties are out of fashion. "Those candidates who campaigned under the banner of religion should be rejected," Abdul Kareem told Al Jazeera. "They corrupted the name of religion because they are notorious for being thieves. Religion is not politics." Mr. Kareem is a Shiite cleric.

Also out of fashion: Iran, previously thought to be the jolly inheritor of our Iraq misadventure. In 2005, Tehran's political minions in the Iranian-funded Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq -- itself the funder of the dreaded Badr brigade -- swept the field. Candidates loyal to anti-American fire-breather Moqtada al-Sadr also did well. This time, Sadr didn't even dare to field his own slate, and early reports are that the Supreme Council was trounced.

What's in fashion, electorally speaking, are secular parties, as well as the moderately religious Dawa Party of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. This wasn't supposed to happen. The Palestinian parliamentary election of 2006 that put Hamas in power was taken in the West as proof that Arab democracy was destined to yield illiberal results. Saturday's election suggests otherwise, assuming there is a structure that guarantees that Islamists must stand for election more than once.

What about security? A month ago, Gen. Ray Odierno predicted that "al Qaeda will try to exploit the elections because they don't want them to happen. So I think they will attempt to create some violence and uncertainty in the population." But al Qaeda was a no-show on Saturday. Meanwhile, more U.S. soldiers died in accidents (12) than in combat (4) for the month of January. The war is over.

So what are you going to do about the one bright spot on your map -- an Arab country that is genuinely democratic, increasingly secular and secure, anti-Iranian and, all-in-all, on your side? So far, your only idea seems to bid to it good luck and bring most of the troops home in time for Super Bowl Sunday, 2010.

That's a campaign promise, but it isn't a foreign policy. Foreign policy begins with the recognition that Iraq has now moved from the liability side of the U.S. ledger to the asset side. As an Arab democracy, it is a model for what we would like the rest of the Arab world to become. As a Shiite democracy, it is a reproach to Iranian theocracy. As the country at the heart of the Middle East, it is ideally located to be a bulwark against Tehran's encroachments.

There was a time when American strategists understood the role countries could play as "pillars" of a regional strategy. Israel has been a pillar since at least 1967; Iran was one until 1979. Turkey, too, is a pillar, but it is fast slipping away, as is Egypt.

Within the Arab world, Iraq is the only country that can now fulfill that role. For that it will need military and economic aid, and lots of it. Better it than futile causes like Palestine, or missions impossible like winning over the mullahs. With Saturday's poll, Iraq has earned a powerful claim to our friendship.

Yes, you'd rather look elsewhere on the map for a Mideast legacy. But Iraq is where you'll find it. Don't miss your chance.
24685  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Iraq is BO's pillar on: February 03, 2009, 11:21:50 AM
Was Bush right after all?  evil
=======================

Imagine yourself as Barack Obama, gazing at a map of the greater Middle East and wondering how, and where, the United States can best make a fresh start in the region.

 
AP
An Iraqi man holds up an ink-stained finger after casting his vote in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, Jan. 31.
Your gaze wanders rightward to Pakistan, where preventing war with India, economic collapse or the Talibanization of half the country would be achievement enough. Next door is Afghanistan, where you are committing more troops, all so you can prop up a government that is by turns hapless and corrupt.

Next there is Iran, drawing ever closer to its bomb. You're mulling the shape of a grand bargain, but Israel is talking pre-emption. Speaking of Israel, you're girding for a contentious relationship with the hawkish Benjamin Netanyahu, the all-but certain next prime minister.

What about Israel's neighbors? Palestine is riven between feckless moderates and pitiless fanatics. Lebanon and Hezbollah are nearly synonyms. You'd love to nudge Syria out of Iran's orbit, but Bashar Assad isn't inclined. In Egypt, a succession crisis looms the moment its octogenarian president retires to his grave.

The Opinion Journal Widget
Download Opinion Journal's widget and link to the most important editorials and op-eds of the day from your blog or Web page.
And then there is Iraq, the country in the middle that you would have just as soon banished from sight. How's it doing? Perplexingly well.

The final tallies for Saturday's provincial elections aren't in yet. But a few conclusions are warranted. This time, the election seems to have been mostly free of fraud; four years ago, it was beset by fraud. This time, there was almost no violence; four years ago, there were 299 terrorist attacks. This time, 40% of voters in the overwhelmingly Sunni province of Anbar went to the polls; four years ago, turnout was 2%.

In 2005, Iraqis voted their sectarian preferences. Now sectarian parties are out of fashion. "Those candidates who campaigned under the banner of religion should be rejected," Abdul Kareem told Al Jazeera. "They corrupted the name of religion because they are notorious for being thieves. Religion is not politics." Mr. Kareem is a Shiite cleric.

Also out of fashion: Iran, previously thought to be the jolly inheritor of our Iraq misadventure. In 2005, Tehran's political minions in the Iranian-funded Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq -- itself the funder of the dreaded Badr brigade -- swept the field. Candidates loyal to anti-American fire-breather Moqtada al-Sadr also did well. This time, Sadr didn't even dare to field his own slate, and early reports are that the Supreme Council was trounced.

What's in fashion, electorally speaking, are secular parties, as well as the moderately religious Dawa Party of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. This wasn't supposed to happen. The Palestinian parliamentary election of 2006 that put Hamas in power was taken in the West as proof that Arab democracy was destined to yield illiberal results. Saturday's election suggests otherwise, assuming there is a structure that guarantees that Islamists must stand for election more than once.

What about security? A month ago, Gen. Ray Odierno predicted that "al Qaeda will try to exploit the elections because they don't want them to happen. So I think they will attempt to create some violence and uncertainty in the population." But al Qaeda was a no-show on Saturday. Meanwhile, more U.S. soldiers died in accidents (12) than in combat (4) for the month of January. The war is over.

So what are you going to do about the one bright spot on your map -- an Arab country that is genuinely democratic, increasingly secular and secure, anti-Iranian and, all-in-all, on your side? So far, your only idea seems to bid to it good luck and bring most of the troops home in time for Super Bowl Sunday, 2010.

In Today's Opinion Journal
 

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

Dodd's Peek-A-Boo DisclosureNationalize ThisMotley Paint Crew

TODAY'S COLUMNISTS

Main Street: Congress's Phony War on Torture
– William McGurn

COMMENTARY

Daniel Pearl and the Normalization of Evil
– Judea PearlWhat Other Financial Crises Tell Us
– Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. RogoffHow to Value Toxic Bank Assets
– Robert C. PozenThat's a campaign promise, but it isn't a foreign policy. Foreign policy begins with the recognition that Iraq has now moved from the liability side of the U.S. ledger to the asset side. As an Arab democracy, it is a model for what we would like the rest of the Arab world to become. As a Shiite democracy, it is a reproach to Iranian theocracy. As the country at the heart of the Middle East, it is ideally located to be a bulwark against Tehran's encroachments.

There was a time when American strategists understood the role countries could play as "pillars" of a regional strategy. Israel has been a pillar since at least 1967; Iran was one until 1979. Turkey, too, is a pillar, but it is fast slipping away, as is Egypt.

Within the Arab world, Iraq is the only country that can now fulfill that role. For that it will need military and economic aid, and lots of it. Better it than futile causes like Palestine, or missions impossible like winning over the mullahs. With Saturday's poll, Iraq has earned a powerful claim to our friendship.

Yes, you'd rather look elsewhere on the map for a Mideast legacy. But Iraq is where you'll find it. Don't miss your chance.

24686  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: February 03, 2009, 11:12:07 AM
You are on the bus when you suddenly realize ... you need to fart, real bad.

The music is really loud, so you time your farts with the beat. After
a couple of songs, you start to feel better as you approach your stop.

As you are leaving the bus, people are really staring you down, and
that's when you remember: you've been listening to your ipod.

 
24687  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Supply routes through Iran?!? on: February 03, 2009, 11:05:21 AM
Stratfor:

NATO Members Free To Seek Iranian Supply Route
February 3, 2009 | 0255 GMT

Gen. John Craddock, NATO’s senior military commander, announced late Feb. 2 that the alliance would not oppose individual member nations reaching bilateral deals with Iran for the transit of supplies to Afghanistan. This development follows statements by NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on Jan. 26, encouraging member states to engage Tehran over the campaign in Afghanistan. These are not small or off-the-cuff statements, and they signal a significant development in the West’s relationship with Iran.

Though it might be too soon for the United States to choose this route to supply its troops in Afghanistan, several European nations could seize the opportunity to end their reliance on vulnerable supply lines through Pakistan. In truth, everyone is looking for the elusive alternative. But some will be more prepared to strike deals with Tehran than others.

No deals have been inked yet, but NATO officials would not make these public announcements out of the blue. Craddock’s statement itself suggests that at least a few member states contributing to the Afghan campaign have been pushing for this green light for some time. By implication, some arrangements between Tehran and select European capitals are likely to follow in short order.

More important, NATO’s recent signals are an enormous development amid the ongoing negotiations between Washington and Moscow over a potential Central Asian supply route. Pakistan has always been the United States’ shortest, most direct route to Afghanistan — precisely because the prospect of cooperation with Iran, after the Bush administration labeled it a member of the Axis of Evil, was politically absurd. But despite the fact that supplies shipped through Iran would traverse more territory in Afghanistan proper (some of it host to a heavy Taliban presence), an Iranian route still makes for an exceptionally competitive alternative — especially in comparison to the long, drawn-out and politically treacherous Central Asian routes under consideration. Supplies would be offloaded at the Iranian port of Chah Bahar on the Arabian Sea and transported by truck directly to Afghan territory.

Simply by raising the prospect of Iran as a viable alternative, Washington’s hand in negotiating other routes becomes stronger.

For Tehran, this is an enormous opportunity to engage directly with the Western world in an area of mutual interest. Iran — a Persian and Shiite power — is enormously threatened by the empowerment of hard-line Sunni extremists across its eastern frontier. (Following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, there were even some backchannel discussions between Washington and Tehran over Iranian support for the planned U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.)

If a number of NATO allies — with Germany among the likely inaugural candidates — choose to sustain their national efforts in Afghanistan via the short, accessible route through Iran, the opportunities for wider political rapprochement also expand. Of course, it will not be all smooth sailing. Tehran will be looking to extract significant concessions in exchange for such significant and overt assistance.

From a military perspective, if the United States can lock down the tortuous Central Asian route as well, NATO suddenly would have three independent supply lines to some of the most inaccessible territory on Earth. That would prevent any one route from being too heavily leveraged against the United States, thereby weakening both Islamabad’s and Moscow’s negotiating positions in relation to Washington.
24688  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: February 03, 2009, 11:01:50 AM
Although I did see BJ try to establish lockdown one time (and here vasaline vel non would be relevant), I agree it probably didn't make a difference in the fight.

That said, I think it important to establish that cheating will not be tolerated lest this sport become like boxing.
24689  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: February 03, 2009, 10:48:42 AM
An updated version of the previous Stratfor report:

Hints of a Possible Cartel Cease-fire

Violence related to organized crime continued across Mexico this past week. Among the more noteworthy incidents was the discovery of three severed heads inside a cooler just outside Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. Meanwhile, some 20 armed men shot and killed two police officers in San Miguel Totolapan, Guerrero state, then set fire to two buildings before fleeing. And in Durango, Durango state, a group of gunmen traveling in at least one vehicle shot and killed two people.

While violence in most of the country continues at a level we have come to expect, Sinaloa state registered a noticeable decrease in homicides. This decline also coincided with reports that Mexico’s major drug-trafficking organizations had reached at least a limited cease-fire as a result of several meetings held in December. Rumors of such meetings and truces are quite common in Mexico, and more often than not, such agreements quickly break down. Nevertheless, the situation warrants monitoring, especially considering that this has been a year of flux in cartel relationships, and any new truces or alliances could have a significant impact on the country’s security environment.

Talk of a Shift in Strategy

Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora told a group of legislators this past week that the United States and Mexico are finalizing a new strategy for the fight against the cartels that will be launched in the next few days, according to several press reports. The new strategy will focus on slowing the flow of weapons and money crossing into Mexico from the United States, one Mexican legislator said, adding that it would involve a change in actions in two current hot spots of violence: Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, and Tijuana, Baja California state. Another Mexican congressional source told reporters that Mexico City and Washington have been in contact regarding how to combat organized crime. During the meeting, several congressmen from northern Mexican states reportedly complained to Medina Mora about the continuing violence in their districts and the general lack of progress in the cartel war. Also this past week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ordered a top-down review of border policy, which includes customs, immigration and other law enforcement functions.

While at first glance these reports suggest that Mexico and the United States might soon adopt a new approach to fighting the cartels, it is important to recall that this is not the first time the Mexican government has considered a so-called shift in strategy. In many cases, such reports often turn out to be intended to show the Mexican public and congress that the federal government is considering all options and pursuing a coherent strategy. It would appear that is the case with these latest reports as well, especially given that breaking up weapons trafficking networks in the United States — something law enforcement north of the border has been engaged in for a long time — is hardly a new strategy. Nevertheless, Medina Mora’s statement could be an indication of a U.S. reassessment of the situation, something Stratfor has been looking for from the new Obama administration.

Sinaloa Cartel Operations in Nicaragua

The Sinaloa cartel continues to operate drug-trafficking routes in Nicaragua and is looking to recover its operations along the country’s Pacific coast, Nicaraguan national police chief Aminta Granera reported this past week. Granera said that the majority of Sinaloa operatives are Nicaraguan nationals from the eastern part of the country who operate in the west, citing recent arrests and small cocaine seizures in the western cities of Rivas, Chinandega and Villanueva (though the Chinandega arrest also involved Salvadoran nationals). She added that the trafficking routes involve land and maritime components, and that most small boats tend to sail in international waters to avoid running into Nicaraguan authorities.

Despite Granera’s description of the arrests, it appears that they have had little impact on the Sinaloa cartel’s operations there. The routes and trafficking patterns described by Granera closely match previous arrests and seizures associated with Sinaloa operations in Nicaragua. In addition, Granera’s description of arrest locations suggests that Sinaloa continues to operate the same routes as before, presumably still relying on private vehicles to carry small shipments from Costa Rica to El Salvador. While the arrests will be a nuisance to the organization, there is no reason to think the routes cannot quickly be restored.

Jan. 26

Assailants armed with assault rifles shot and killed two men in Zapopan, Jalisco state.

Mexican army officials reported discovering and destroying a marijuana field and clandestine airstrip near Jilotlan de los Dolores, Jalisco state, believed to have been used by the Sinaloa cartel.   
Authorities at Panama City’s international airport reported the arrest of a Mexican man in possession of $430,464 that he failed to declare upon arriving on a flight from Mexico City.
At least five gunmen shot and killed five motorcyclists at a seafood restaurant in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. At least 10 others were killed in separate incidents in the state.
Mexican officials confirmed that alleged Sinaloa operative Lamberto Verdugo Calderon died in a firefight with Mexican army forces in Sinaloa state on Jan. 22.

Jan. 27

Federal police arrested one Russian and one Cuban citizen, both reportedly U.S. residents, on charges of human smuggling in Frontera Comalapa, Chiapas state.

Jan. 28

Authorities in Cosoleacaque, Veracruz state, discovered the body of an unidentified man bearing signs of torture.
Several gunmen in a vehicle shot and killed three unidentified people in La Mesa, Baja California state.
Police near Durango, Durango state, found the body of a man who had been kidnapped several days before. Authorities believe he had been beaten to death.
Several gunmen shot and killed two police officers in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state.
Authorities recovered more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition, as well as assorted firearms and grenades, from a safe house in Culiacan, Sinaloa state.

Jan. 29

Mexican army forces raided a safe house in a suburb of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, seizing some seven vehicles and undisclosed documents.

Feb. 1

At least one assailant shot and killed a police officer in Guadalupe y Calvo, Chihuahua state.
Tell Stratfor What You Think
24690  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / First, do no harm. on: February 02, 2009, 11:05:39 PM
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,487047,00.html


Quote:
Originally Posted by foxnews
NEW YORK — Police say a cab driver who tried to take a purse from a woman fare beater was beaten by a group of good Samaritans who thought they were seeing a robbery.

Police say it happened Saturday morning near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal when four woman, who had been club-going, got into a fight with the cab driver over the fare.  Police say the women left the taxi without paying and the cab driver gave chase, grabbing one of the women's purses.  That's when a group of men in a passing car thought they were witnessing a mugging and jumped on the cab driver, beating him and then fleeing the scene.  The cab driver was treated for cuts on his face.

The women were later picked up by police as they exited the Staten Island Ferry and issued summonses for fare beating.
24691  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: February 02, 2009, 11:02:43 PM
I got that  grin-- I was referring to the hijab LEO uniforms in the UK.
24692  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: February 02, 2009, 08:50:59 PM
Huss:

Fascinating stuff.

Please forgive me for being a bit anal, but please note there are several "Islam in , , ," threads.  There is this one, one for Europe, one for Islamic countries, one for Asia etc.

Thanks,
Marc
24693  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / GSP greased? on: February 02, 2009, 08:46:42 PM
Did GSP's corner cheat to give him an edge?
By Steve Cofield


After a dominating victory over B.J. Penn at UFC 94, Georges St. Pierre is clearly the better fighter. GSP left no doubt. And yet now there is, thanks to one of his cornermen, Phil Nurse. It's pretty clear by watching the video that Nurse had some Vaseline on his hands when he rubbed St. Pierre's shoulders, back and chest between the first and second rounds.

Why is that a big deal in mixed martial arts? It's significant because of all the grappling and maneuvering that takes place on the ground. St. Pierre was on top of Penn in the second round and the Hawaiian tried several times to shift his legs up to work for a triangle choke or an armbar. Grip and some friction is huge in these cases and a slippery fighter would make it more difficult to lock on one of those holds. Above you can see, Nurse apply Vaseline to GSP's face, then get more Vaseline, then rub his shoulders, arms and back.

Penn's trainer Rudy Valentino told InsideFighting that St. Pierre cheated and the Vaseline thwarted his fighter's strategy:

"To cheat to win is not honorable. Why need another edge? Our gameplan was on the ground, not striking because we knew Georges had good kicks. We planned to work off the back."

Valentino says they warned the Nevada State Athletic Commission before the fight alleging that St. Pierre did it before their meeting in 2006 and that Matt Serra's camp claimed the same thing happened in Serra's second fight against GSP.

Greg Jackson, GSP's trainer hurt his reputation according to Valentino:

"I respect Greg Jackson but to do something like that, his integrity has been compromised."

Jackson told his side of the story to MMAWeekly:

"In between rounds, you always want to put on vaseline on (a fighter’s face). So Phil Nurse put all the Vaseline on his face, so his hands might have had a miniscule amount left over from that, when he went around the side and rubbed a little point on his back, and tapped on his chest."

Watching the scenarios (1, 2, 3), show Nurse did more than tap the chest and rub a little point on GSP's back.

Jackson chalked all of this up to an overreaction by the NSAC:

"At that point, somebody in the audience thought we were greasing George down, and ran over and told the commission that we were greasing his body down. The commission came in and said ‘you can’t grease him down,’ which didn’t work. They said ‘you’re putting Vaseline on his back,’ and Phil’s like, ‘oh, there might be a little on my fingers, but it wasn’t intentional at all, and of course they wiped it right off and it was gone, so it wasn’t a factor in the fight at all."

"The Commission" was actually NSAC executive director Keith Kizer. He bolted into the cage when he saw Nurse doing the same thing between the second and third rounds. Cage Writer spoke with Kizer after the fight and he was still steaming, saying that the rubbing of the back with Vaseline was completely inappropriate. But he was unsure if it had been done between the first and second.

UFC president Dana White also thought it was a serious violation:

"I saw the commission jump up there and flip out," said White.  "They said one of the guys was rubbing Vaseline on Georges' back in between rounds. It was one and two, I think. I personally didn't see it, the commission did. And that's about as illegal as you can get... I'm sure the commission is going to deal (with it)."

White didn't believe that it affected the outcome of the fight but he re-stated that illegal is illegal: 

"You could have put Vaseline on from head to toe, that wasn't the point, the point was you don't do it. It's illegal. The guy who did it needs to be punished, it's not (St. Pierre's) fault. The question is what happens to a guy that does that. You've got to put the smack down on him. He should lose his license."

Ultimately, did the use of the Vaseline win the fight for St. Pierre? No. But Penn's camp does have a right to complain. 

St. Pierre should be getting props for being the better conditioned fighter, designing and executing the perfect gameplan. The way he wore down Penn in the first round by holding his left leg up on three occasions with the threat of a single-leg takedown, was brilliant. It allowed him takedown a tired Penn with ease in each of the next three rounds. More importantly, GSP was able to pass guard and shift between full guard and side control as if he were fighting a first-year jiu-jitsu student. Now Penn, other fighters who dislike St. Pierre and fans may call for an asterisk on his dominant victory.
24694  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Border incursions on: February 02, 2009, 08:37:47 PM
Taken from another forum:
================

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...guns-to-agent/

http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/...10312008_7.xml

http://www.voanews.com/english/archi...01-26-voa1.cfm

http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/20...s-neighborhood

and most damning of all:
http://www.judicialwatch.org/news/20...ursion-reports
24695  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: February 02, 2009, 04:36:42 PM
Does this mean that the government can be jammed too?

http://www.discount-blockers.com/
24696  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Flawed Study on: February 02, 2009, 02:51:54 PM
Second post of the day

I. "Excessive force" study gravely flawed, says Force Science Research Center

Strong skepticism has been expressed by the Force Science Research Center regarding a recently publicized survey showing that a high percentage of emergency room doctors believe they see evidence of police brutality in the patients they treat.

The poll, published in Emergency Medicine Journal, reports that 99.8% of ER physicians responding to a random-sample survey believe that excessive use of force by police "actually occurs" and that 97.8% say they have managed patients they suspect were victims of excessive force.

The survey, conducted by a research team of 6 MDs, including faculty members at some of the nation's leading medical schools, has received coverage in a wide variety of professional publications, as well as the mass media, under headlines such as: "Excessive Police Violence Evident in Emergency Room Cases, U.S. Docs Say." A description of the report and directions for purchasing a full copy can be accessed by clicking here.

If you are confronted with this study in dialog with civilians or challenged with it in a courtroom, Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of FSRC at Minnesota State University-Mankato, argues emphatically that there are more than adequate grounds for countering it.
"The survey's methods appear to conform to academic standards," Lewinski told Force Science News, "but the results are meaningless. It's impossible for ER physicians to know the context of injuries just by looking at them. The nature of an injury is totally unrelated to the justification for the level of force responsible for it.

"In essence, this survey is of little use or benefit to society, and it tends to malign law enforcement unjustly and unscientifically."
The researchers' findings were based on mailed responses from 315 full-time academic ER doctors associated with emergency medicine residency training programs in the U.S. The vast majority were Caucasian males between 30-50 years old, board-certified in emergency medicine, practicing in cities of 250,000 to more than 1,000,000 population, and affiliated with university, community, or public teaching hospitals.

The 97.8% who believe they have treated victims of police brutality made this determination based on their own suspicions or on what they were told by the patients themselves, the study states. About 65% said they recognized 2 or more cases of "suspected excessive use of force per year." Some 7% believe excessive force occurs "often" or "very often," while only a tiny fraction of 1% (0.2%) believe it never occurs.

As to the types of excesses suspected, 95.5% of the responders cited "blunt trauma," 95.2% "fists and feet," 73.1% "handcuffs too tight," 48.6% "night sticks," and 26.9% "flashlights." In short, the researchers conclude, "The suspicion of excessive use of force by law enforcement officers is clearly an issue encountered" by emergency room physicians.

The very last line of study report acknowledges what Lewinski points out is the "fatal flaw" of this research. The survey questions, the authors concede, "asked respondents to make a subjective judgment, most often without objective evidence; as such, this study reflects EPs' [emergency physicians'] perceptions of events rather than what actually happened."

This is the limitation, Lewinski says, that renders the study meaningless.

"First of all," he notes, "relying on suspects to accurately report whether they have experienced excessive force or not is absurd. In the 40 years I have been involved with law enforcement, I've never known a suspect who was injured by police to say, 'Oh, yes, I received just the right amount of force that was necessary to control my resistance.'

"Moreover, one has to ask what else the surveyed physicians were basing their suspicions on. Other than what a patient or an officer says, a doctor in the ER has no knowledge of the context in which force was used or how it relates to policy, procedure, training, or the law. "Depending on the circumstances, police can use force that results in injuries up to and including death and not have that force considered by law to be excessive. A doctor who's unfamiliar with all the elements involved simply can't use the extent or nature of injury as a basis for judging whether force was appropriate.

"It is fair to say that most ER physicians have never ridden in a squad car and seen first-hand the kinds of force situations officers are thrust into. Most have no information or training on what constitutes excessive force. Yet in their responses to this survey, they are making judgments on a professional activity they really know nothing about.

"That's ironic when you consider how sensitive doctors are as a group to any outsiders second-guessing their professional decisions!
"All this study really tells us is that ER physicians sometimes have suspicions based wholly on non-scientific data that excessive force was used. To report this as a serious finding is misleading to the public and smears, by implication, the professional integrity of law enforcement officers throughout the country."

Among the doctors surveyed, roughly 70% thought "it is within their scope of practice to refer cases of suspected use of excessive force for investigation," although more than 70% said they do not currently report their suspicions. About half believe that such reporting by ER physicians "should be legally required," as is the case with suspicions of child abuse, sexual assaults, weapons wounds, etc.

"Assessing police use-of-force injuries is significantly and qualitatively different from any other area they're required to report on," Lewinski notes. Nonetheless, voicing a suspicion of his own, he speculates that this survey will be used to encourage legislation for mandatory reporting by ER personnel of suspected police brutality.

[Our thanks to Chris Lawrence, a member of FSRC's national advisory board, for tipping us about this survey.]
24697  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson; Abraham Williams on: February 02, 2009, 01:17:40 PM
"Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them." --Thomas Jefferson

==========

"All Men being naturally equal, as descended from a common Parent, enbued with like Faculties and Propensities, having originally equal Rights and Properties, the Earth being given to the Children of Men in general, without any difference, distinction, natural Preheminence, or Dominion of one over another, yet Men not being equally industrious and frugal, their Properties and Enjoyments would be unequal."

--Abraham Williams An Election Sermon, 1762
24698  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: February 02, 2009, 01:14:25 PM
That's funny.

So is this:

"The more interviews Speaker Pelosi gives explaining how vital the STD industry is to restarting the U.S. economy, the more I find myself hearing 'syphilis' every time she says 'stimulus.' In late September, America was showing the first signs of 'primary stimulus' â?? a few billion lesions popping up on the rarely glimpsed naughty bits of the economy: the subprime mortgage racket, the leverage kings. Now, the condition has metastasized in a mere four months into the advanced stages of 'tertiary stimulus,' with trillions of hideous, ever more inflamed pustules sprouting in every nook and cranny as the central nervous system of the body politic crumbles into total insanity -- until it seems entirely normal for the second in line of presidential succession to be on TV gibbering away about how vital the federalization of condom distribution is to economic recovery. The rules in this new 'post-partisan' era are pretty simple: If the Democratic Party wants it, it's 'stimulus.' If the Republican Party opposes it, it's 'politics.'" --columnist Mark Steyn
24699  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Swatting on: February 02, 2009, 12:27:34 PM
 SWAT teams deployed in 911 fraud

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

AP IMPACT: SWAT teams deployed in 911 fraud (AP)

Posted on Mon Feb 2, 2009 2:00AM EST

- Doug Bates and his wife, Stacey, were in bed around 10 p.m., their 2-year-old daughters asleep in a nearby room. Suddenly they were shaken awake by the wail of police sirens and the rumble of a helicopter above their suburban Southern California home. A criminal must be on the loose, they thought.

Doug Bates got up to lock the doors and grabbed a knife. A beam from a flashlight hit him. He peeked into the backyard. A swarm of police, assault rifles drawn, ordered him out of the house. Bates emerged, frightened and with the knife in his hand, as his wife frantically dialed 911. They were handcuffed and ordered to the ground while officers stormed the house.

The scene of mayhem and carnage the officers expected was nowhere to be found. Neither the Bateses nor the officers knew that they were pawns in a dangerous game being played 1,200 miles away by a teenager bent on terrifying a random family of strangers.

They were victims of a new kind of telephone fraud that exploits a weakness in the way the 911 system handles calls from Internet-based phone services. The attacks — called "swatting" because armed police SWAT teams usually respond — are virtually unstoppable, and an Associated Press investigation found that budget-strapped 911 centers are essentially defenseless without an overhaul of their computer systems.

The AP examined hundreds of pages of court documents and law-enforcement transcripts, listened to audio of "swatting" calls, and interviewed two dozen security experts, investigators, defense lawyers, victims and perpetrators.
While Doug and Stacey Bates were cuffed on the ground that night in March 2007, 18-year-old Randal Ellis, living with his parents in Mukilteo, Wash., was nearly finished with the 27-minute yarn about a drug-fueled murder that brought the Orange County Sheriff's Department SWAT team to the Bateses' home.

In a grisly sounding call to 911, Ellis was putting an Internet-based phone service for the hearing-impaired to nefarious use. By entering bogus information about his location, Ellis was able to make it seem to the 911 operator as if he was calling from inside the Bateses' home. He said he was high on drugs and had just shot his sister.

According to prosecutors, Ellis picked the Bates family at random, as he did with all of the 185 calls investigators say he made to 911 operators around the country.

"If I would have had a gun in my hand, I probably would have been shot," said Doug Bates, 38. Last March, Ellis was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to five felony counts, including computer access and fraud, false imprisonment by violence and falsely reporting a crime.

In a separate, multistate case prosecuted by federal authorities in Dallas, eight people were charged with orchestrating up to 300 "swatting" calls to victims they met on telephone party chat lines. The three ringleaders were each sentenced to five years in prison. Two others were sentenced to 2 1/2 years. One defendant pleaded guilty last week and could get a 13-year sentence. The remaining two are set to go on trial in February.

A similar case was reported in Salinas, Calif., where officers surrounded an apartment where a call had come in claiming men with assault rifles were trying to break in. In Hiawatha, Iowa, fake calls about a workplace shooting included realistic gunshot sounds and moaning in the background.

In November, a teenage hacker from Worcester, Mass., pleaded guilty to a five-month swatting spree including a bomb threat and report of an armed gunman that caused two schools to be evacuated.

Many times, however, swats don't get fully investigated or reported.
Orange County Sheriff's detective Brian Sims spent weeks serving search warrants on Internet providers before he identified Ellis through his numeric computer identifier, known as an IP address.
Law enforcement hopes lengthy prison terms will deter would-be swatters. Technology alone isn't enough to stop the crimes.

Unlike calls that come from landline phones, which are registered to a fixed physical address and display that on 911 dispatchers' screens, calls coming from people's computers, or even calls from landline or cell phones that are routed through spoofing services, could appear to be originating from anywhere.

Scores of Caller ID spoofing services have sprung up, offering to disguise callers' origins for a fee. All anybody needs to do is pony up for a certain number of minutes, punch in a PIN code and specify whom they're calling and what they'd like the Caller ID to display.

Spoofing Caller ID is perfectly legal. Legitimate businesses use the technology to project a single callback number for an entire office, or to let executives working from home cloak their home numbers when making outgoing calls.

At the same time, criminals have latched onto the technique to get revenge on rivals or get their kicks by harassing strangers.
"We're not able to cope with this very well," said Roger Hixson, technical issues director for the National Emergency Number Association, the 911 system's industry group. "We're just hoping this doesn't become a widespread hobby."

The 911 system was built on the idea it could trust the information it was receiving from callers. Upgrading the system to accommodate new technologies can be a huge task.

Gary Allen, editor of Dispatch Monthly, a Berkeley, Calif.-based magazine focused on public-safety communications centers, said dispatchers are "totally at the mercy of the people who call" and the fact they don't have technology to identify which incoming calls are from Internet-based sources.

Allen said upgrading the communications centers' computers to flash an Internet caller's IP address could be helpful in thwarting fraudulent calls. He said an even simpler fix, tweaking the computers to identify calls from Internet telephone services and flash the name of the service provider to dispatchers, can cost under $5,000, but is usually still too costly for many communications centers.

But because this style of fraudulent calls is so new, and many emergency-dispatch centers receive few Internet calls in the first place, those upgrades are not frequently done.

Swatting calls place an immense strain on responding departments. The Orange County Sheriff's Department deployed about 30 people to the Bateses' home, including a SWAT team, a helicopter and K-9 units. It cost the department $14,700.

They take their toll on victims, too.
Tony Messina, a construction worker from Salina, N.Y., was swatted three times by the gang broken up by the federal authorities in Dallas. He was even arrested as the result of one call, because authorities found weapons he wasn't supposed to have while they were searching the house.

Messina had made some enemies on a party line he frequented to flirt with women. Some guys disliked him and out of jealousy, he says, they started swatting him.
The first time, he was home alone with his two poodles when officers swarmed his backyard at 6 a.m. According to Messina, the callers said he had "killed a hooker and sliced her ear to ear, blood all over the place, I'm doing drugs and if you police come over here I'm going to kill you, too." After a few hours at the police station, he was let go.

Two weeks later, he was detained outside his house. A month later, he was in bed watching TV when he saw someone with a flashlight at his window. He went outside and was handcuffed while deputies searched his house and car.

Messina had been told to call 911 himself if the swatting calls happened again, and when the deputies realized it was another fraudulent call, Messina was let go. He said he suffered bruised ribs that kept him out of work for a month and a half.

Investigators say swatters are usually motivated by a mixture of ego and malice, a desire for revenge and domination over rivals.

Jason Trowbridge, one of the defendants currently serving a five-year sentence, told the AP in a series of letters from prison that the attacks started with the standard fare of prank callers — sending pizzas and locksmiths to victims' homes — escalated to shutting the power and water off and eventually led to swatting.

"Nobody ever thought anyone would get hurt or die from a SWAT call," he said.
___ Associated Press researcher Barbara Sambriski in New York contributed to this report.

http://tech.yahoo.com/news/ap/200902...ec911_swatting
24700  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Long Gun for self-protection on: February 02, 2009, 11:38:16 AM
Kicking this thread off with a piece from Gabe Suarez:


THE COMBAT SHOTGUN
 
Let me begin by saying that I have used these fine implements against live fighting adversaries several times. Moreover, I received the classic training in this weapon at the academy which birthed the "modern technique" of the shotgun.

Training and reality sometimes conflict.

I have a few shotguns at home. One is a Remington 870. Another is a Remington 11-87. A third one, a vintage side-by-side exposed hammer shotgun with many "rustlers" to its credit. And the3n, of course, a couple of Saiga 12s.

None have Ghost Ring Sights, Sidesaddles, Speedfeed stocks, Specially Ported or Choked barrells of ANY kind. They are light, simple, fast into action, and all of them are more than sufficient for any anti-personnel duties.

Things You Need: A fast handling lightweight weapon that you can get into action very quickly, and that has at least 5 shots available.

Nice To Have - But Not Essential: A Light: Many fights happen in low light. Having a flashlight mount makes sense. Its not essential as in most situations, there will be sufficient ambient light to tell what is going on and who is doing it at CQB-CRG distances. For those times when there is not, a light will help.

A Magazine Extension: Some guys like these so they can download it by a couple of rounds to transition to slugs. This is silly. Who wants to go to a gunfight with a weapon not loaded to full capacity. Not me. The load/switch to slug concept may have merit, but its use is so limited that I would much rather have an extra round of buckshot.

A Sling: For class its essential. For fighting its a nice-to-have item in the event you need to transition to pistol (much more likely than transitioning to slug).

Things You Do Not Need: Ghost Ring Sights: In my opinion, the shotgun is NOT a rifle, nor should it be turned into one. The idea that you must somehow be able to reach out past CQB distances with a shotgun is a silly idea. Even the much discussed North Hollywood Bank Robbery involved shots within pistol range, and not way out there in rifle land.

Sidesaddles/Butt Cuffs: Many use these for slug switching. We've discussed that already. If your gun holds 7 or 8 shots and you need more than that, tactical withdrawl may be a better bet than anything else. How many shots are fired in pistol fights? It will be the same in shotgun fights. Sidesaddles make the gun heavy. Add a butt cuff in addition to the sidesaddle and it become heavier yet. Will you have lots of ammo? Sure. Will you be able to shoot and hit as accurately with a light fast gun or an overweight gun? I think you know the light fast gun will allow you better likelihood of NOT NEEDING a reload.

Want extra ammo? Ok, get a belly bag with two compartments. Fill one with buck shot and the other with slugs. Keep that with the shotgun and take it when you grab the shotgun. Its not as sexy as a sidesaddle and no elite bitchin guy SWAT dudes use it, but it makes more sense than a weapon you can't even bench press.

Ports/Choking, Special Barrels: Close Range shooting boys. Any shotgun barrell with any ammo will do just fine inside of 7 yards. At 15 yards it will open up slightly, but 15 yard shots are rare.

Other Points -

If you need a rifle, the shotgun is a poor substitute. A CAR15, or even a Marlin 30-30 will outshoot a slug loaded shotgun everytime. So grabbing a shotgun to do rifle duty is not a wise thing unless you are a cop whose administration does not trust its employees enough to give them rifles, and all you have and will ever have is a shotgun.

Slug loading has its place in a special situation, such as when you anticipate "contacts" in a car. I have a group of friends who routinely have such contacts and they load with slugs to penetrate through vehicles at close range. Same goes for guys who frequent bear country. A shotgun with slugs is good bear medeicine...or so I'm told. Both situations are rather close range deals, and not anything like what some so-called gunfighting schools are teaching.

What can a slug loaded shotgun do? It can reach a little farther and penetrate a little more than a buckshot loaded gun, or a pistol can do. A rifle will do better everytime. What can a buckshot loaded shotgun do? It can hit the adversary with something, even under bad conditions where your marksmanship has not kept up with the tempo of events in the mid to outer close range gunfighting zone. It is a weapon to be used at handgun distances against rapidly moving adversaries while you yourself are moving, where you cannot obtain (or don't have time to obtain) a suitable sight picture, and where the light is poor.

Examples:

1). Shooting a running adversary while you are also on the run in the dark - Distance 20 yards.

2). Multiple adversaries suddenly appearing in unison, again attempting to fire at you - Distance 3-5 yards.

Partial patterns will give you a hit, slugs or overly choked patterns may allow you to miss. Will thos epellets that don't hit the bad guy be a problem? Possibly. But if you miss with the slug because of the rapidly developing situation it won't matter either.

For CQB/CRG distances (within 5 yards) buckshot will outperform slugs every day of the week. Knowing that IF I grab a shotgun and go fight with it, it will be used in this situation more often than not, my round of choice is buckshot. I relegate slugs to "special purpose" applications. If I need a rifle, I'll go get a rifle.

While on the topic of buckshot: The ability to scallop a target standing behind a "hostage". I suggest a long deep inhale to smell the coffee. Then grab you best most expensive Tactical Shotgun with all the attachjments on it that the "cool" Gun Magazine Guys use. You know, the one with the famous shooting school logo on the stock and engraved so fetchingly on the receiver. Load it with the most expensive tactical gold-plated buckshot you can find and then stand off at 7, 10, or even 15 yards (whatever the shotgun school qual says).

Then place your daughter in front of that evil silohuette target. Still willing to take the shot? Some tactical cool guys will answer in the affirmitive. Then DO IT I say. Most of these guys have never fired a shot at a real human being before much less at a hostage past the ear of an innocent...with a shotgun much less. Fantasy always loses out to reality.

Technical exercises devised by clever minds on the firing range often fail to emulate reality. We've learned a great deal about CQB pistol fighting in the last few years simply by allowing ourselves to leave the doctrinal box. Perhaps its time we slay the sacred cow shotgun myth as well. Prove everything you train to yourself in force on force. If a technique cannot be replicated against real people, get rid of it.

Train for skill and attribute development, not to beat some silly shooting test, or some bobbing/weaving target dressed up in old clothes.

1). Know tactical advantage and Liabilities of Shotgun and their ammunition

2). Develop sound Firing Positions, Ready Positions as well as Ready Carry positions

3). Learn Reality based Marksmanship that takes advantage of the standard shotgun pattern

4). Learn tactically appropriate Gunhandling Drills & Transition to Pistol if suitable.

5). Learn CQB Responses to any point along a 360 arm's length to 7 yards. Its important to focus on fast close shooting because this is where you will use the weapon, not at the mythical rifle ranges some schools are suggesting..

6). Learn the ability to retain/recover/and fight with the weapon in body to body fight (including alternative force issues)

7). Learn Shooting in diminished light and the use of assisted lighting, as well as the use of Tactical Point Shooting.

Cool. Learn Shooting on the Move (in anything but firing from ambush you must move or get hit).

9). Learn Reality based Multiple adversary responses (not simply shooting at five pepper poppers).

10). Learn YOUR natural body speed and shoot as fast as YOU can guarantee the hits (not on how fast some "master" shot with his souped up Benelli back in 1990).

Develop these attributes and you will do well with your shotgun in any fight. Isn't progress wonderful?!
__________________

Gabe Suarez
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