Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hezbollahstan
on: May 13, 2008, 09:07:16 AM
From Lebanon to Hezbollahstan
May 13, 2008; Page A15
On Friday, Hezbollah gunmen set fire to the Beirut offices of Future TV, a Lebanese broadcaster. On a purely symbolic level, it was an apt demonstration of where the Party of God stands in relation to the future itself.
But that wasn't the worst of what has happened in the past week in Lebanon, where scores of people have been killed in interfactional violence. More ominous was the role of the Lebanese army, avowedly neutral and nominally under civilian control. "An army officer accompanied by members of Hezbollah walked into the station and told us to switch off transmission," an unnamed Future TV official told Reuters. So much for army neutrality.
Shiite gunmen patrol the streets in Chouweifat, south of Beirut, May 11.
The army also countermanded government orders to dismantle Hezbollah's telecommunications network at the Beirut airport and remove the brigadier responsible for airport security, who is said to be a Hezbollah pawn. "I have called on the army to live up to its national responsibilities . . . and this has not happened," Fouad Siniora, Lebanon's increasingly irrelevant prime minister, said on national TV.
Future historians will look for the precise moment the Lebanese Republic began to transmogrify into Hezbollahstan. Was it the June 2005 murder of anti-Syrian journalist Samir Kassir – the earliest sign that Syria, whose 29-year military occupation of its neighbor had ended just two months before, intended to reinsert itself by stealth and terror (and with the connivance of Hezbollah)? Was it the role played by the Maronite Gen. Michel Aoun, a hero of the last Lebanese civil war, who returned from exile in 2005 intending to play the part of de Gaulle only to become, after striking a bargain with Hezbollah, another Pétain?
Was it the summer war of 2006, when Israel failed to destroy Hezbollah militarily and, in so failing, gave Hezbollah an aura of invincibility? Was it the unwillingness of international peacekeepers to patrol the Lebanese-Syrian border, thereby allowing Hezbollah to rearm itself after the war? Was it the absence of an effective, or even intelligible, American policy toward Lebanon, epitomized by Condoleezza Rice's decision to rehabilitate Damascus by inviting it to November's Annapolis Middle East conference?
The answer is all of the above: An accumulation of policy mistakes, political dodges and moral atrocities that have nearly killed the "new" Lebanon in its crib.
Demography has also played a role. Christians in particular have been fleeing Lebanon for decades. And though a census hasn't been taken in Lebanon in 75 years, Nizar Hamze of the American University of Beirut estimates that there are between eight and nine live births per Shiite household. The comparable figure for Lebanon's Sunnis is about five; for Christians and Druze, about two. These numbers must ultimately count against an outmoded constitutional order geared to favor Christians first, Sunnis second, Shiites third.
But even if Lebanon cannot escape its Shiite destiny, it is not ordained that it must also become a Hezbollah state, taking its orders from Tehran. So what are the U.S.'s policy options?
Inside Lebanon, they are few. No American president will send American troops back to Beirut and risk a reprise of 1983. Supplying the Lebanese army is a nonstarter; it is no longer clear whose side that army is on. Should the U.S. arm the anti-Hezbollah factions in the event of an all-out civil war? Some of them, like Samir Geagea's Lebanese Forces, have well-earned reputations as war criminals.
A more productive thought comes from Dwight Eisenhower, who observed that "if a problem cannot be solved, enlarge it." The reason the U.S. lacks for options in Lebanon is because it has no policy toward Syria.
In 2003, Congress passed the Syria Accountability Act, but the administration has observed only its weakest provisions. They could be enforced in full. A Syria Liberation Act, similar to the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, would be a step forward. So would international sanctions for Syria's violations of the Nonproliferation Treaty, exposed by Israel in its raid last year on an unfinished nuclear reactor. Bombing the runway of the Damascus airport for the role it plays in serving as a conduit for Iranian arms to Hezbollah would also be an appropriate signal of American displeasure.
None of this is likely to happen, however. U.S. policy toward Syria will continue to vacillate between partial engagement and partial ostracism, achieving neither. And Lebanon will continue its transformation into Hezbollahstan, a sad fate for a country that might have stood for something fine.
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DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Red Belt
on: May 13, 2008, 08:59:42 AM
Mamet's Jiu-Jitsu Isn't Just Verbal
By GORDON MARINO
May 13, 2008; Page D9
Santa Monica, Calif.
A well-established black belt in verbal jiu-jitsu, David Mamet has spent much of the past six years on the mats practicing the real Brazilian art of self-defense. The preternaturally prolific Mr. Mamet seems to process his experience by writing about it, and the many hours that he has logged in the world of choke holds is no exception. Fascinated by both the philosophy and culture of martial arts, Mr. Mamet has written and directed the recently released "Redbelt," a movie that he describes as "something between a traditional American fight film and Kurosawa's 'Seven Samurai.'"
Because of the recent explosion of interest in Ultimate Fighting and other forms of professional mixed martial arts, a combat sport that draws upon all types of self-defense, jiu-jitsu has become the rage in the U.S. After a visit to his gym, I asked Mr. Mamet, who now holds a purple belt, how he came by his passion for this combat art. He recalled: "When I moved to L.A., I bumped into my old friend, the actor Ed O'Neill. He had been training with Rorion Gracie, the famous jiu-jitsu teacher. Knowing that I had boxed and wrestled, Ed had long ago promised that if I ever came to L.A. he would get me together with the jiu-jitsu guys. So when we met, I asked him where the nearest studio was and he pointed to a gym right next to the restaurant" -- which happened to be the same establishment where the interview was now being conducted.
While there have been other famous scribblers, often potbellied, with tough-guy alter egos, the 60-year old Mr. Mamet is in fighting fettle and has the appearance of someone who has indentured himself to a physical art. During the film's fervid production process, he still managed to squeeze in at least two jiu-jitsu sessions a week.
Since his jiu-jitsu conversion, Mr. Mamet has taken a few swipes at boxing, even going so far as to say that, in comparison with mixed martial arts, watching boxing is "like watching paint dry." During our session, the former lightweight champion Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, who is a friend of Mr. Mamet and has a role in "Redbelt," was sitting at a nearby table. A Boxing Hall of Famer, Mr. Mancini participated in a number of legendary bouts that had even hardened fans wincing. I ribbed Mr. Mamet: "Did you tell Boom Boom that boxing is like watching paint dry?"
Mr. Mamet, who ultimately has a profound respect for the great pugilists, laughed and, nodding toward Mr. Mancini, shook his head and said: "Did you see his fights? Wasn't it amazing that he could go like that for 15 rounds? Even now, whenever Ray leads the workouts at the gym, everyone ends up out in the street throwing up. He is the only one that happens with."
Jiu-jitsu is all about prevailing in personal combat. The notion that life is, at bottom, a fight comes naturally to Mr. Mamet, the intellectually pugnacious son of a labor lawyer. I jabbed: "Why would a writer like you and in his 60s spend all this energy thinking about and physically rehearsing for an alley scrape? After all, there are not a lot of people out there looking to throw a punch at David Mamet, are there?" Rolling with my lead, Mr. Mamet replied: "That's true. But jiu-jitsu is all about avoiding confrontation." Continuing in a more personal vein: "It has made me calmer, less inclined to get angry quickly. And it has given me more control over my emotions."
Something of a martial-arts evangelist, Mr. Mamet believes that out of the discipline of jiu-jitsu a certain wisdom and moral discernment bubble up. It is as though, with practice, the puzzles that one faces on the mat -- of husbanding your strength and energy, and of remaining calm enough to glean your opponent's mistakes -- transmogrify into a general sagacity about responding to the battles of workaday life.
In his essays, Mr. Mamet has taken frequent note of the powerful need to belong in America. There can be no doubt that he has found a cadre in his Santa Monica dojo, whom he profoundly respects and feels at home with. Indeed, to hear him tell it, it was largely because of his enchantment with and affection for this subculture that Mr. Mamet resolved to write "Redbelt."
Plato and his teacher Socrates moved fluidly from the gym to the agora. Mr. Mamet, his revered jiu-jitsu mentor Renato Magno, and his circle of bouncers, cops, stunt men, body guards and former soldiers seem to live on tracks between the gym and the nearby restaurant where they regularly congregate for an afternoon repast.
"When I have a problem I will sometimes take it to the group," confessed the natural-born alpha male. Mr. Mamet, who is also an ardent student of the Stoics, elaborated: "For instance, someone who I thought was a friend did something rather traitorous. I asked the guys how they would handle the situation. My teacher Renato, of course, came back with 'Don't carry someone else's weight. Let him carry the weight; let it come back to haunt him.' This is one of the central tenets of jiu-jitsu. When you carry the other person's mass you tire yourself and so lose your ability to think clearly. That was the group's way of telling me to let the situation go, to walk away -- which I did."
However, I suspect that the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright would have found it harder to take the path of least resistance had the nettlesome situation involved one of his movies or plays. Mr. Mamet is an unrepentant moralist when it comes to his art form. In his book "Bambi vs. Godzilla," he chastised the entertainment industry for having lost its appreciation for film's mysterious power to ignite self-transformation. Though DVD players may have replaced the hearth in America, Mr. Mamet believes that most movies today are devoid of true drama, which, he notes in his essay, "Decadence" (1986), always requires engaging "the human capacity for choice."
The choice that sets "Redbelt" in motion is this: The main character, Mike Terry, an Iraq veteran played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, owns a financially troubled jiu-jitsu academy near Hollywood. There is much pressure on Mr. Terry to solve his financial difficulties by fighting professionally. But he is a purist who believes that competition weakens the fighter. Ironically enough, Mike Terry's creator, Mr. Mamet, is himself a zealous fan of mixed-martial-arts competition.
Though he does not regard "Redbelt" as a Bruce Lee-type flick, Mr. Mamet said that one of the greatest challenges was constructing the film's fight sequences: "Jiu-jitsu is a grappling, not a striking form of fighting. Striking is very filmable, because you have distance between the fighters. They come together and then apart, and the audience can follow it. But jiu-jitsu looks much more like wrestling. The fighters are tied up, and instead of fancy kicks and roundhouse punches the most dramatic thing might be one guy working to get a hand free and turn the fight around."
As our conversation drew to a close, Mr. Mamet proved as slippery as a well-oiled grappler, especially when served up some film-school-type questions: "How does 'Redbelt' relate to the rest of your work?" I asked. "It's later," he answered with restraint.
"How does it compare with 'Fight Club'?" I pressed. "I didn't see it," he said.
"Are there any differences from your other works in the use of language in this action-based film?" "None," he snapped, sneaking a glance at his watch. A cue? Pause.
"Well then," I eked out, "what are you doing the rest of the afternoon?"
"Writing. . . I'm always writing."
"On what?" I peeped. "A book of cartoons," responded the Marcus Aurelius of Tinseltown. Smiling warmly and extending his hand, Mr. Mamet emphatically stated: "I have always loved cartoons."
Mr. Marino is a professor of philosophy at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / On Mother's Day: 2nd Largest Mosque in North America Honors . . .
on: May 13, 2008, 08:25:15 AM
On Mother's Day: 2nd Largest Mosque in North America Honors . . .
By Debbie Schlussel
. . . a woman who proudly proclaims she's embarrassed to be an American, and is the "mother" of thousands of Muslim anchor babies she helped get delivered here through Medicaid fraud.
That's right, for its Mother's Day program, last night, the Islamic House of Wisdom--Dar Al-Hikma--the 2nd largest mosque in North America, is honoring Najah Bazzy, about whom I've written a great deal.
Ms. Bazzy--the Muslim Nurse Ratched--is a very interesting candidate for Muslims to pick as their "Mother of the Year." You see, as head transcultural nurse for Dearbornistan's Oakwood Hospital, she was intimately involved in Medicaid fraud, in which she served as translator and co-conspirator for pregnant Muslim aliens who used phony social security numbers to get Medicaid to cover the births of their babies (they also got U.S. citizenship for those babies--citizenship which can be traded on the open market, since there are no hard-and-fast identifying items on the birth certificate but for the gender).
Najah Bazzy:Embarrassed to Be American; Not Embarrassed About Medicaid FraudIn addition to that, Najah Bazzy told participants in a 2004 CAIR-Michigan political event, "I'm embarrassed to be an American." As I always say, we're embarrassed you're an American, too, Najah Bazzy. Bazzy was excoriated by Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter who was shocked that any Muslim born and raised in America would say such a thing. I wasn't shocked. That's their usual proclamation when they think they are "among friends."
And finally, Najah Bazzy, was the proud donor of an interesting "exhibit" at the Arab American National Museum--a propaganda videotape, which lies about Israel's conduct in Jenin during the height of Muslim homicide bombings in Israel. As we all know, even the pan-Palestinian U.N. reports that only about 26 people died--not the 500 claimed on the baloney-tape--at Jenin, and most of those deaths were attributable to causes--natural and Palestinian--other than the Israelis.
And you might remember Najah Bazzy from her whining press conference, last year, demanding that Northwest Airlines reimburse Muslims who missed their flights returning from the Hajj (Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia), even though they arrived late. She and the other whiners, predictably, succeeded in getting Dhimmi Airline, Northwest, to reimburse them AND start a whole new round of Muslim sensitivity training taught by CAIR.
No shocker that the Islamic House of Wisdom is featuring her for its Mother's Day event, since--as I've repeatedly noted--this mosque is headed by Imam Mohammed Ali Elahi, former spiritual leader of Ayatollah Khomeini's Iranian Navy, and longtime buddy of Hezbollah spiritual leaders Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah.
Yep, this is the "Mother of the Year" for Shi'ite Muslims in America. Well they got one part right. She's definitely, as they say, a "Mother" . . . . And, yes, sadly, she has kids who share her unique brand of hatred, phoniness, and anti-American politics.
Like I said, more Americans than Ms. Bazzy are embarrassed she's an American.
I think I like the way Cosa Nostra celebrates Mother's Day a whole lot better than the way Shi'ite Muslims do.
Posted by Debbie at May 11, 2008 01:59 PM
SCSU student leaves training at Technical High School
By Dave Aeikens • firstname.lastname@example.org
• May 12, 2008
A St. Cloud State University student in a teacher-training program at Technical High School left the school in late April because he says he feared for the safety of his service dog.
The school district calls it a misunderstanding, and officials there say they hoped Tyler Hurd, a 23-year-old junior from Mahtomedi who aspires to teach special education, would continue his training in the district.
Hurd said a student threatened to kill his service dog named Emmitt. The black lab is trained to protect Hurd when he has seizures.
The seizures, which can occur weekly, are from a childhood injury.
The dog has a pouch on his side that assists those who stop to help Hurd.
Hurd said he was unable to finish his 50 hours of field training at Tech. The university waived the remaining 10 hours, he said. He plans to do his student teaching outside a high school setting.
“We came up with a solution because I felt threatened by it," Hurd said.
The school district and university are working to make sure a similar situation doesn't happen.
Kate Steffens, dean of the college of education at St. Cloud State, and Tech assistant principal Lori Lockhart met Thursday.
The threat came from a Somali student who is Muslim, according to Hurd, St. Cloud State and school district officials.
The Muslim faith, which is the dominant faith of Somali immigrants, forbids the touching of dogs.
Hurd trained at Talahi Community School and Tech. He said his experience at Talahi was good. The Somali students there warmed to the dog and eventually petted him using paper to keep their hands off his fur, Hurd said.
Things didn't go as well at Tech, Hurd said. Students there taunted his dog, and he finally felt he had to leave after he was told a student made a threat. Hurd met with Lockhart but said he did not feel comfortable continuing.
Julia Espe, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment for St. Cloud school district, said the school needed to do a better job communicating.
“I think it was a misunderstanding where we didn't really prepare either side for possible implications," Espe said.
Espe said the school's investigation determined the student did not make a direct threat.
“We certainly welcome (Hurd) in our district, and we hope we can get this all resolved so he feels welcome and his dog is welcome," Espe said.
St. Cloud State places about 1,000 students in 240 schools to help prepare them for careers in education.
In St. Cloud school district, 330 are in the field training program Hurd was in and 94 are in student teaching.
Steffens said it is important to respect different cultures and the rights of disabled students.
“I think this is part of the growth process when we become more diverse," Steffens said.
Steffens called Hurd a good student and committed young man.
Gary Loch, who is the diversity coordinator for the district, said the situation was an unfortunate case of miscommunication.
“I'm not quite sure where the breakdown comes into play here," Loch said.http://www.sctimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll...WS01/105120058
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / J. Adams: Foundation of Constitution
on: May 13, 2008, 07:35:51 AM
"Statesmen by dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it
is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles
upon which Freedom can securely stand....The only foundation
of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be
inspired into our People, in a great Measure, than they have it
now, They may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government,
but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty."
-- John Adams (letter to Zabdiel Adams, 21 June 1776)
Reference: Our Sacred Honor, Bennett, pg. 371.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: sean sherk vs. bj penn
on: May 12, 2008, 09:55:17 PM
Tangent re the Matt Hughes vs. Royce Gracie fight:
I happened to run into Royce and his dad Helio two days before the fight while picking up one of their BBs in from out of town for training. I was flattered that Royce remembered me from the time that Rigan Machado had introduced us. I told him he would take guard, get past MH's elbow on a punch, slither to his back, and choke him out. His dad and he laughed (I was in awe at how relaxed he was two days before a major fight.) and he said to me "From your lips to God's ear."
Actually I was quite concerned for Royce based on what I knew of his training preparation via youtube clips and local gossip. Apparently he had been training kickboxing with one of his students who was a hopkido instructor and for his wrestling preparation the youtube clip showed him dealing with obviously non-wrestling students trying to shoot double legs on him.
IMHO the essence of the fight was for him to establish guard position. For him kickboxing was utterly irrelevant to this mission. IMHO he needed to experience the way a good wrestling based MMA fighter can shoot a double leg and pass the guard, but apparently his thinking was set in his hey day in the early UFC days before the advent of MMA seasoned wrestlers and before the advent of Greco Roman based clinch. IMHO he should have been up at Rico Chiapparelli's RAW/R-1 Gym in El Segundo experiencing the wrestling based fighters there-- men like Rico, Vlady Matyushenko, and Frank Trigg.
If you watch the fight again, you will see MH take him down from clinch while he (RG) is trying to throw a punch. This is how he missed establishing guard and therefore had no chance in the fight.
In other words IMHO his downfall was underestimating what good wrestling/Greco-Roman based grappling can contribute to a MMA fight.
RG changed the martial art world and launched a revolution. His fights in the early UFC, showed a much smaller, weaker man who fearlessly beat three men every time he stepped into the cage in fights that were truly paradigmatic. But IMHO on the night he fought MH he underestimated how much things had changed. He was older, and more dinged up from injuries than he was in his prime and there is no shame in losing to a great fighter like MH was at that time.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Pre-emption and Sucker Punches
on: May 12, 2008, 02:00:02 PM
As someone born and raised in Manhattan, NYC, I easily indentify with the points Davd makes here-- yet IMHO these hueristics tend to apply more to anonymous strangers whereas many sucker punches come with people known to us to some degree, or with whom the social context makes "Stay Back!" a social disaster.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Testilying
on: May 12, 2008, 12:43:04 PM
NYC Police Face Disbelief in Court Over Gun Searches
May 12, 2008
Police in Gun Searches Face Disbelief in Court
By BENJAMIN WEISER
After listening carefully to the two policemen, the judge had a problem: He did not believe them.
The officers, who had stopped a man in the Bronx and found a .22-caliber pistol in his fanny pack, testified that they had several reasons to search him: He was loitering, sweating nervously and had a bulge under his jacket.
But the judge, John E. Sprizzo of United States District Court in Manhattan, concluded that the police had simply reached into the pack without cause, found the gun, then “tailored” testimony to justify the illegal search. “You can’t have open season on searches,” said Judge Sprizzo, who refused to allow the gun as evidence, prompting prosecutors to drop the case last May.
Yet for all his disapproval of what the police had done, the judge said he hated to make negative rulings about officers’ credibility. “I don’t like to jeopardize their career and all the rest of it,” he said.
He need not have worried. The Police Department never learned of his criticism, and the officers — like many others whose word has been called into question — faced no disciplinary action or inquiry.
Over the last six years, the police and prosecutors have cooperated in a broad effort that allows convicted felons found with a firearm to be tried in federal court, where sentences are much harsher than in state court. Officials say the initiative has taken hundreds of armed criminals off the street, mostly in the Bronx and Brooklyn, and turned some into informers who have helped solve more serious crimes.
But a closer look at those prosecutions reveals something that has not been trumpeted: more than 20 cases in which judges found police officers’ testimony to be unreliable, inconsistent, twisting the truth, or just plain false. The judges’ language was often withering: “patently incredible,” “riddled with exaggerations,” “unworthy of belief.”
The outrage usually stopped there. With few exceptions, judges did not ask prosecutors to determine whether the officers had broken the law, and prosecutors did not notify police authorities about the judges’ findings. The Police Department said it did not monitor the rulings and was aware of only one of them; after it learned about the cases recently from a reporter, a spokesman said the department would decide whether further review was needed.
Though the number of cases is small, the lack of consequences for officers may seem surprising, given that a city commission on police corruption in the 1990s pinpointed tainted testimony as a problem so pervasive that the police even had a word for it: “testilying.”
And these cases may fuel another longtime concern that flared up again in recent days: suspicions that the police routinely subject people to unjustified searches, frisks or stops. Last week, the Police Department reported a spike in street stops, which it said were “an essential law enforcement tool”: 145,098 from January through March, more than during any quarter in six years.
The judges’ rulings emerge from what are called suppression hearings, in which defendants, before trial, can argue that evidence was seized illegally. The Fourth Amendment sets limits on the conditions that permit a search; if they are not met, judges must exclude the evidence, even if that means allowing a guilty person to go free.
Prosecutors and police officials say many of the suppressions stem from difficult, split-second judgments that officers must make in potentially dangerous situations about whether to search someone for a weapon — decisions that are not always easy to reconstruct in a courtroom.
But one former federal judge, John S. Martin Jr., said the rulings are meant to deter serious abuses by the police. “The reason you suppress,” he said, “is to stop cops from going up to people and searching them when they don’t have reason.”
Federal judges rarely suppress evidence, Judge Martin said, and the unusual number of suppressions in New York City gun cases raises questions about whether such tactics may be common. “We don’t have the statistics for all the people who are hassled, no gun is found, and they never get into the system,” he said.
Whatever one makes of the legal debate, these cases offer a revealing glimpse into some police practices — in the street and on the witness stand — that have gone largely unexamined outside the courtroom.
‘A Dismal Record’
In one case, the officer explained that he had a special technique for detecting who was hiding a gun. He had learned it from a newspaper article that described certain clues to watch for: a hand brushing a pocket, a lopsided gait, a jacket or sweater that seems mismatched or out of season.
That was one reason, he told a judge, that he was certain the man he saw outside a Brooklyn housing project last September was concealing a gun. The man, Anthony McCrae, had moved his hand along the front of his waistband, as if moving a weapon, the officer said. Sure enough, a search turned up a gun.
The judge, John Gleeson of Brooklyn federal court, asked the officer, Kaz Daughtry, how successful his method had been in other cases.
Officer Daughtry replied that over a three-day period, he and his partner had stopped 30 to 50 people. One had a gun.
Calling that a “dismal record,” the judge said the officer’s technique was “little more than guesswork.”
Moreover, Judge Gleeson said he did not believe that Officer Daughtry could even have seen the gesture he found so suspicious: Mr. McCrae’s hand was in front of him and the officer was about 30 feet behind.
The judge would not allow the gun as evidence, and on April 24, federal prosecutors dropped the charges. A law enforcement official said the Brooklyn district attorney’s office learned of the ruling and was reviewing Officer Daughtry’s other cases to see if there were problems.
The Police Department declined to make Officer Daughtry, or any other officers, available for comment.
The decisions to suppress, which The New York Times found by interviewing lawyers and examining more than 1,000 court dockets since 2002, came from 18 federal judges in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Several rulings involved police raids on homes without warrants — and judges’ doubts that the owners had consented to a search, as the police claimed and the law requires.
In one case, a group of officers investigating a fatal shooting in 2002 entered an apartment in the Bronx and arrested a man named Justice Taylor after finding a shotgun in a bedroom. Sgt. Brian Branigan, who led the search, testified in federal court in Manhattan that Mr. Taylor had given the officers permission to enter.
But Mr. Taylor denied that. Two other officers did not mention his giving consent. And the judge, Jed S. Rakoff, said that Sergeant Branigan “felt the need to embellish his account with details indicating consent that the court finds unbelievable.”
Judge Rakoff even took issue with the demeanor of the sergeant, “whose cockiness was evident even on the stand.” His apparent “disregard for niceties,” the judge wrote, made it “wholly plausible” that he had forced his way into the apartment.
The case was dismissed, and the city, while denying liability, paid $280,000 to settle a civil rights lawsuit by Mr. Taylor and others in the apartment.
In another case, a judge did more than cast doubt on an officer’s testimony. She proved it wrong.
The judge, Laura Taylor Swain, heard the officer, Sean Lynch, testify that he had shined his flashlight through the window of a parked sport utility vehicle one night in the Bronx and had seen a gun. The driver’s lawyer said that Officer Lynch could not have seen the gun because the car’s windows were heavily tinted.
So after sunset one evening in January 2006, the judge walked outside the Manhattan federal courthouse and shined a flashlight into the vehicle. She could see nothing.
Her inspection and other evidence, she wrote, “give the lie” to Officer Lynch’s account, which she called “impossible.” Prosecutors dropped the case.
The police, to be sure, have a difficult job trying to root out guns without overstepping the law. Some judges acknowledged this in court, saying they believed not that officers had lied, but rather that they had failed to recall an event accurately, perhaps because of its brevity, a limited vantage point or the subsequent passage of time.
And some expressed sympathy for the police. Judge Gleeson said in one case that while he found two officers’ testimony contradictory, he did not want to imply they had lied.
“I’m always reluctant in these circumstances, having been in the executive branch myself, having a feel for the consequences of an adverse credibility determination — I’m sensitive to it,” he said last November.
Judges typically do not discuss cases, but some have said that, in general, it is not their responsibility to follow up their criticisms of officers. The rulings are on the record, for prosecutors or others to act on if they wish.
Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said that only one of the critical rulings had been reported to the police, by a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn who said he had no doubts about the officer’s truthfulness. The police took no action.
More broadly, Mr. Browne said an officer’s failure to convince a judge that his suspicions were justified “doesn’t necessarily mean the officer did something wrong.”
“In each case,” he added, “the suspect in fact had a gun.”
Federal prosecutors would not comment on individual cases. But Michael J. Garcia, the United States attorney in Manhattan, said his office reviews any negative rulings about an officer’s credibility to decide whether any action is necessary.
“Any time evidence gets suppressed is a serious thing,” he said.
In court, prosecutors have vigorously defended the officers’ conduct and testimony. In one brief, a prosecutor argued that a police lieutenant had no reason to lie, because that could “jeopardize a fast-moving N.Y.P.D. career.” But writing in response, a federal defender, Deirdre von Dornum, cited cases in which officers faced no repercussions — “not the loss of their jobs, not disciplinary action.”
Still, one judge was so struck by what he said were an officer’s lies that he tried to do something about it.
Two officers had arrested a man and confiscated a gun in a Bronx apartment in 2002. But Judge Martin, then on the Manhattan federal court, was troubled that one officer had given the district attorney’s office an account of how she gained entry to the apartment, then largely contradicted it on the stand.
“This has to be one of the most blatant cases of perjury I’ve seen,” Judge Martin, a former United States attorney, said in his courtroom in September 2003. He said he doubted the officer, Kim Carillo, had “any use for the truth.”
“She will tell it, I think, whatever way it suits her to tell it,” he added.
The judge told the prosecutor to ask his superiors to review Officer Carillo’s testimony. They later replied that they had found no perjury, he said, and that the officer was not at fault.
If the fallout for police officers has been slight, the judges’ rulings have exacted other costs.
For one thing, they may free a weapons offender, and scuttle the chance to win his cooperation in more significant prosecutions, like investigations into violent gangs or gun trafficking. “The lost value of those bigger cases is really incalculable,” said Alan Vinegrad, a former United States attorney in Brooklyn.
Questions about police credibility can also hamper other cases. When a judge finds, for example, that an officer has lied, prosecutors must alert defense lawyers in other cases involving that officer.
Judge David G. Trager of Brooklyn federal court was so indignant over what he called an officer’s “blatantly false” testimony in an October 2005 suppression hearing that he told prosecutors, “I hope you won’t darken my courtroom with this police officer’s testimony again.”
Judge Trager did not suppress the gun, concluding that some of the officer’s testimony had been credible. But the officer, Herbert Martin, was about to testify in a federal trial stemming from another gun arrest.
The defense lawyer in that case, Howard Greenberg, said that learning of Judge Trager’s findings “was like manna from heaven.”
When Officer Martin took the stand in that trial, Mr. Greenberg confronted him, asking, “Didn’t you commit perjury a week ago when you said in this very building, in an altogether different case, that someone had a gun in his waist?”
The officer denied that he had lied. But Mr. Greenberg said he believed that his question made an impression on the jury. His client was acquitted.http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/12/nyregion/12guns.html
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Textbook propaganda
on: May 12, 2008, 12:14:01 PM
History textbooks promoting Islam
New report says Muslim activists 'succeeding' in expunging criticism
Posted: May 10, 2008
12:30 am Eastern
World Net Daily does hyperventilate sometimes, but it also goes where others fear to tread.
By Bob Unruh
© 2008 WorldNetDaily
History textbooks being used by hundreds of thousands of students across the U.S. are blatantly promoting Islam, according to a new report by an independent organization that researches and reviews textbooks.
WND has reported several times on issues involving the promotion of Islam in public school texts, including a recent situation in which California parents complained their children were being taught that "jihad" to Muslims means "doing good works."
The new report is from the American Textbook Council, which was established in 1989 as an independent national research organization to review social textbooks and advance the quality of instructional materials in history.
In the two-year project, whose report was authored by Gilbert T. Sewall, the ATC reviewed five junior and five high school world and texts, concluding:
"Many political and religious groups try to use the textbook process to their advantage, but the deficiencies in Islam-related lessons are uniquely disturbing. History textbooks present an incomplete and confected view of Islam that misrepresents its foundations and challenges to international security."
The report finds that the texts present "disputed definitions and claims [regarding Islam] … as established facts."
"Islamic activists use multiculturalism and ready-made American-made political movements, especially those on campus, to advance and justify the makeover of Islam-related textbook content," the report continued.
"Particular fault rests with the publishing corporations, boards of directors, and executives who decide what editorial policies their companies will pursue," the report said.
<LI dbPHh="0" wiRFj="0">Medieval and Early Modern Times by Jackson J. Spielvogal
<LI dbPHh="0" wiRFj="0">Medieval to Early Modern Times by Stanley M. Bernstein and Richard Shek
World Medieval and Early Modern Times by Douglas Carnine, Carlos Cortes, Kenneth R. Curtis and Anita T. Robinson
Medieval and Early Modern Times by Dianne Hart
History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond by Bert Bower and Jim Lobdell
World History: The Modern World by Elizabeth Gaynor Ellis and Anthony Esler
World History: Modern Times by Jackson J. Spielvogel
America: Pathways to the Present by Andrew Cayton and others
The American Vision: Moder Times by Joyce Appelby and others and
The Americans: Reconstruction to the Twenty-first Century by Gerald A. Danzer
The report noted that several of the textbooks have found harsh critics among parents and others, and "History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond" published by the privately held Curriculum Institute has been criticized repeatedly.
In Lodi, Calif., parents "were not objecting to a word or two that they took out of context but to a textbook long on chapters filled with adulatory lessons on Islam."
This was the same book cited by parents who contacted WND with their concerns about such indoctrination.
A parent whose child has been handed the text in a Sacramento district at that time accused the publisher of a pro-Muslim bias to the point that Islamic theology has been incorporated into the public teachings.
"It makes an attempt to seem like an egalitarian world history book, but on closer inspection you find that seven (not all are titled so) of the chapters deal with Islam or Muslim subjects," wrote the parent, whose name was being withheld, in a letter to WND.
"The upsetting part is not only do they go into the history (which would be acceptable) but also the teaching of Islam," she said. "This book does not really go into Christianity or the teachings of Christ, nor does it address religious doctrine elsewhere to the degree it does Islam."
She said the book's one page referencing Jews "is only to convey that they were tortured by Crusaders to get them to convert to 'Christianity.' (It fails to mention that the biggest persecutors of Jews throughout history and still today are Arab Muslims). It gives four other one-liner references to the Jews being blamed for the plagues and problems in the land. It does not talk about the Jews as making a significant impact on the culture at large."
Bert Bower, founder of TCI, told WND at that time not only did his company have experts review the book, but the state of California also reviewed it, and has approved it for use in public schools.
"Keep in mind when looking at this particular book scholars from all over California (reviewed it)," he said.
One of those experts who contributed to the text, according to the ATC, which earlier released a scathing indictment of that specific project, was Ayad Al-Qazzaz.
"Al-Qazzaz is a Muslim apologist, a frequent speaker in Northern California school districts promoting Islam and Arab causes," the ATC review said. "Al-Qazzaz also co-wrote AWAIR's 'Arab World Notebook.' AWAIR stands for Arab World and Islamic Resources, an opaque, proselytizing 'non-profit organization' that conducts teacher workshops and sells supplementary materials to schools."
The newest report cited the same issue raised by parents.
"In a passage meant to explain jihad, they encountered this: 'Muslims should fulfill jihad with the heart, tongue, and hand. Muslims use the heart in their struggle to resist evil. The tongue may convince others to take up worthy causes, such as funding medical research. Hands may perform good works and correct wrongs,'" the new report said.
The ATC report noted a complicating factor is a ban in California, to whose standards most textbook publishers align their work, on "adverse reflection" on religion inGeorgia.
"Whatever 'adverse reflection' is, such a mandate may be conceptually at odds with historical and geopolitical actuality," the study said.
"None of this is accidental. Islamic organizations, willing to [provide] misinformation, are active in curriculum politics. These activists are eager to expunge any critical thought about Islam from textbook and all public discourse. They are succeeding, assisted by partisan scholars and associations… It is alarming that so many individuals with the power to shape the curriculum are willfully blind to or openly sympathetic to these efforts," the report said.
Regarding the TCI book, the report said its lessons contain "stilted language that seem scripted or borrowed from devotional, not historical, material." Also, the "Medieval to Early Modern Times" book features a two-page prayer to Allah "the Merciful."
"Among the textbooks examined, the editorial caution that marks coverage of Christian and Jewish beliefs vanishes in presenting Islam's foundations. With materials laden with angels, revelations, miracles, prayers, and sacred exclamations; the story of the Zamzam well; and the titles 'Messenger of God' and 'Prophet of Islam' the seventh-grade textbooks cross the line into something other than history, that is, scripture or myth."
Among the lessons public school students must learn from the various books:
Muhammad "taught equality"
Fasting reminds Muslims of people who struggle to get enough food
Muhammad told his followers to make sure guests never left a table hungry
Arab traditions include being kind to strangers and helping needy
"These effusive formulations stop just short of invention and raise questions about the sources of information," the report said.
The books' praises of Islam continues, the report said. "TCI devotes 13 text-heavy pages to textiles, calligraphy, design, books, city building, architecture, mathematics, medicine, polo, and chess, some of it spun like cotton candy," the report said.
For example, the book reports: "Singing was an essential part of Muslim Spain's musical culture. … Although this music is lost today, it undoubtedly influenced later musical forms in Europe and North Africa."
"Undoubtedly, the TCI volume declares. Yet the book acknowledges the music is lost and the claims are speculative. Empty text dilates Islamic achievements," the report said.
Glossing over the actual physical conquering of some peoples, the "World History: Medieval and Early Modern Times" says people were converted to Islam because they were "attracted by Islam's message of equality and hope for salvation," the report said.
Another book teaches: "Q: How did the caliphs who expanded the Muslim Empire treat those they conquered? A: They treated them with tolerance."
"At a time when intolerance marks Islamic cultures worldwide and multiculturalism is a ruling idea in U.S. schools, these 'wonderland-of-tolerance' tropes constitute a major content distortion," the report said.
The books teach the Crusades were "religious wars launched against Muslims by European Christians."
"When … Muslims groups attack Christian peoples, kill them, and take their lands, the process is referred to as 'building' an empire. Christian attempts to restore those lands are labeled as 'violent attacks' or 'massacres,'" the report said.
Some of the books are rife with other errors. In the TCI book, it says the Crusaders wore red crosses. "No. Only Templars did," said the report.
"While Christian belligerence is magnified, Islamic inequality, subjugation, and enslavement get the airbrush," said the report, which also found inaccuracies in teaching about sharia religious law, women's rights and terrorism, especially the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, which killed nearly 3,000.
"The Modern World" says, "On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, teams of terrorists hijacked four airplanes on the East Coast. Passengers challenged the hijackers on one flight, which they crashed on the way to its target. But one plane plunged into the Pentagon in Virginia, and two others slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York…"
"The flatness and brevity of this passage are dismaying. In terms of content, so much is left unanswered. Who were the teams of terrorists and what did they want to do? What were their political ends? Since 'The Modern World' avoids any hint of the connection between this unnamed terrorism and jihad, why September 11 happened is hard to understand," the report said.http://wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=63872
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ
on: May 12, 2008, 12:03:11 PM
John McCain's campaign is strongly considering presenting Barack Obama with a proposal for a completely new kind of presidential debates -- a series of town hall meetings in which the two men would debate without a moderator.
"The town hall meeting is John's best format," writes Mark McKinnon, a former media strategist for President Bush who is now supporting the Arizona senator. "He's a natural campaigner up close with the public. That would test Obama's claims that he wants a clean fight on the issues."
The idea for Lincoln-Douglas style debates isn't new on the presidential level. The late Barry Goldwater once said that he and President John Kennedy discussed barnstorming across the country together and debating in joint appearances. But no candidate has ever taken the tremendous risks such a series of appearances would involve.
For all that Mr. Obama says he wants a "New Politics," don't place large bets on him accepting a McCain offer on free-wheeling debates. Over the weekend, Mr. Obama told reporters he would be open to appearing in "town hall" style events, but indicated such appearances would have to be negotiated. His campaign adviser David Axelrod said only that any invitation from the McCain camp would be considered "very seriously."
Most analysts don't expect Mr. Obama to take the plunge. Mr. McCain is an uneven debater, but the memory of Mr. Obama's last debate in mid-April on ABC is still fresh on the minds of his advisers. Mr. Obama was generally viewed as turning in a peevish and tentative performance and since then has avoided other invitations.
Mr. Obama might view more favorably the traditional tightly-controlled debates such as the ones normally hosted in the fall by PBS anchor Jim Lehrer, who would be unlikely to bring up any of the divisive character issues that Mr. Obama had to confront in the mid-April ABC debate.
-- John Fund
Not entirely oblivious to the talk of his possible future as John McCain's running mate, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty recently launched in his state what he calls a "21st Century Tax Reform Commission." The idea is to rewrite the state's tax code to reflect changes in its more diversified and modern economy -- though one reporter jokingly asked if it should have been called the "Pawlenty No New Taxes Commission."
No wonder the Minnesota governor is on almost everyone's shortlist of potential GOP VP candidates. Karl Rove floated his name on Fox News recently. Mr. Pawlenty has managed to win election twice in a swing state that Republicans would love to win in November. President Bush ran well in the Twin Cities suburbs in 2004. The GOP hopes to build on the momentum by holding the party's national convention in Minneapolis late this summer. Picking Mr. Pawlenty, the thinking goes, would give Mr. McCain a solid foundation in the upper Midwest.
But vice presidential contenders need to bring more to the table than possibly winning a state. Not since John F. Kennedy tapped Lyndon Johnson has a running mate tipped a state to a presidential ticket (though some credit Al Gore with helping Bill Clinton in Tennessee in 1992). For a more complete case for Pawlenty, we spoke recently with former Rep. Mark Kennedy, who's close to the governor and knows the ins and outs of Minnesota politics (he lost a hard fought Senate campaign two years ago). His case for his Minnesota colleague goes as follows: In a liberal state with a profligate legislature, Mr. Pawlenty has amassed a respectable record as a fiscal conservative. He's fought against spending hikes and closed a multi-billion-dollar hole in the budget (15% of state spending) without raising taxes. He's now looking to reform the state's tax code. Gov. Pawlenty has presided over "the smallest government growth in 40 years," Mr. Kennedy says, and been a champion of performance pay for teachers, eminent domain reform and tort reform.
That impressive record hasn't stopped certain GOP conservatives from criticizing Mr. Pawlenty for months, hoping to quash a potential McCain/Pawlenty ticket. One red flag is Mr. Pawlenty's statement in 2006 that "the era of small government is over. . . Government has to be more proactive, more aggressive." But Mr. Kennedy brushes the conservative worries aside. Looking at the totality of the governor's record, he says, "Pawlenty would be a great vice presidential candidate."
-- Brendan Miniter
Quote of the Day I
"The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate's politics were born in Chicago. Yet [Barack Obama] is presented to the nation as not truly being of this place, as if he floats just above the political corruption here, uninfected, untouched by the stain of it or by any sin of commission or omission.... My argument is not with him -- but with the national political media pack that refuses to look closely at what Chicago is.... Why is Obama allowed to campaign as a reformer, virtually unchallenged by the media, though he's a product of Chicago politics and has never condemned the wholesale political corruption in his home town the way he condemns those darn Washington lobbyists" -- Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass.
Quote of the Day II
"Obama has run a brilliant campaign. He has won over many white voters by making them proud to vote for a supremely educated and capable man who, at his best, makes race a secondary concern. It is not inconsistent, unfair or unsavory to point out, at the same time, that Obama has been growing weaker over the months in his ability to win all but black voters. Nor am I necessarily suggesting that white voters are drifting from him because of his race -- as opposed to judgments about the content of his character or candidacy. This is about facing facts. And history will reflect poorly on Democrats if they believe it is virtuous to ignore race in the name of nominating the first black candidate for the White House - even if it means giving the Republicans a better chance to once again walk away with the big prize of the presidency" -- Juan Williams, a political analyst with NPR and Fox News, writing in the New York Daily News.
Greens Going for the Green
Even with the human tragedy of Cyclone Nargis still unfolding in Burma, environmentalists aren't wasting any time linking the disaster to global warming. Or at least one isn't: Al Gore. Citing the deadly Burmese storm and recent storms in China and Bangladesh, he declared on National Public Radio: "We're seeing consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continued global warming."
There's just one problem -- it's not clear there's any link between climate change and hurricane numbers or intensity. The number of big storms has been falling, not rising. As for intensity, researchers led by Christopher Landsea of the National Hurricane Center have found that earlier generations of hurricane-watchers using inferior satellite imagery incorrectly classified many storms as weaker than they actually were. After correcting for this mismeasurement, the "increase" in storm intensity since the 1970s nearly disappears.
But Mr. Gore is perhaps too busy these days to follow the science closely. In April, a London-based company he chairs began selling shares in its so-called Global Sustainability Fund to small investors in New Zealand, following a similar offer to investors in Australia (interestingly, out of sight of the U.S. press). He was also a conspicuously invoked presence when the Silicon Valley firm Kleiner Perkins this month announced a new $500 million "green growth" fund in partnership with Mr. Gore's London firm. Asked by the San Jose Mercury News if Mr. Gore had been helpful in raising money, co-manager John Denniston replied: "That's not been his primary responsibility."
Uh huh. Mr. Gore's primary responsibility, from the looks of it, is to spread alarm about global warming and create the political conditions (subsidies, mandates) without which Kleiner's "green" energy ventures are unlikely to flourish. Expect the payoff to come next year as a new Congress and President debate global warming policy.
-- Joseph Sternberg
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cassandras wrong again?
on: May 12, 2008, 11:50:08 AM
BASRA, Iraq — Three hundred miles south of Baghdad, the oil-saturated city of Basra has been transformed by its own surge, now seven weeks old.
The Quietening of Basra In a rare success, forces loyal to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki have largely quieted the city, to the initial surprise and growing delight of many inhabitants who only a month ago shuddered under deadly clashes between Iraqi troops and Shiite militias.
Just as in Baghdad, Iraqi and Western officials emphasize that the gains here are “fragile,” like the newly planted roadside saplings that fail to conceal mounds of garbage and pools of foul-smelling water in the historic port city’s slums.
Among the many uncertainties are whether the government, criticized for incompetence at the start of the operation, can maintain the high level of troops here. But in interviews across Basra, residents overwhelmingly reported a substantial improvement in their everyday lives.
“The circle of fear is broken,” said Shaker, owner of a floating restaurant on Basra’s famed Corniche promenade, who, although optimistic, was still afraid to give his full name, as were many of those interviewed.
Hopes for a similar outcome in Baghdad’s Sadr City district were undercut when an Iraqi armored unit was struck by three roadside bombs on Sunday, one day after a cease-fire there was negotiated.
The principal factor for improvement that people in Basra cite is the deployment of 33,000 members of the Iraqi security forces after the March 24 start of operations, which allowed the government to blanket the city with checkpoints on every major intersection and highway.
Borrowing tactics from the troop increase in Baghdad, the Iraqi forces raided militia strongholds and arrested hundreds of suspects. They also seized weapons including mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and sophisticated roadside bombs that officials say were used by Iranian-backed groups responsible for much of the violence.
Government forces have now taken over Islamic militants’ headquarters and halted the death squads and “vice ‘enforcers’ ” who attacked women, Christians, musicians, alcohol sellers and anyone suspected of collaborating with Westerners.
Shaker’s floating restaurant stands as one emblem of the change since then.
Just two months ago, he said, masked men in military uniforms walked into the packed dining room and abducted a businessman at gunpoint. The man was never seen again, and the restaurant closed.
Now, however, customers who fled that evening are pressing the 34-year-old owner to stay open later at night, so they can enjoy their unaccustomed freedom from the gangs, which once banned the loud Arabic pop music now blaring from Shaker’s loudspeakers.
“Now it is very different,” he said. “After we heard that the lawless people have been arrested or killed, we have a kind of courage.”
Even alcohol, once banned by the extremists, is discreetly on sale again in some areas.
Nevertheless, few Basra residents trust that the change is permanent or that the death squads have been vanquished.
Asked how long it would take for Basra to slip back into lawlessness if the army departed, Afrah, a 20-year-old theater student at Basra’s College of Fine Arts, replied, “One day.”
Capturing a mood that flits between bad recent memories, giddy relief and brittle future expectations, she added, “It is over, but it could come back any moment, because the people who are doing the intimidation on the streets, sometimes they are your neighbor and you trust them.”
Mr. Maliki’s hastily begun operation to rein in the extremists did not start with great promise.
The offensive, grandly named Charge of the Knights, was widely criticized for being poorly planned and ill-coordinated. It was derided as the Charge of the Mice by followers of the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr after more than 1,000 soldiers deserted in the face of heavy resistance from his Mahdi Army and other extremist groups. The fierce early clashes halted only after a pro-government delegation went to Iran and struck a deal with the Sadrists.
An overwhelmingly Shiite city of more than three million people, Basra sits atop huge oil reserves, which, Western officials say, provide 40 percent of Iraq’s annual oil revenue of $38 billion.
Page 2 of 3)
Thus, stability in a city that could be Iraq’s economic engine room is a major priority for the Shiite-led government. However, the Basra experience may not translate to other cities like Mosul or Kirkuk in the north, with a much more complicated religious and ethnic mix.
The Quietening of Basra The push into Basra succeeded in part because people here were exhausted with the violence and in part because Mr. Maliki received crucial help from the American and British military.
British forces, who headed the coalition military forces in Basra beginning in 2003, handed security control to the Iraqis six months ago. But a British military spokesman said British and American forces were providing fighter jets, helicopters, surveillance and logistical support for the government operation.
In addition to the 4,000 British troops in Basra, he said, the Americans sent 800 people, including surveillance experts and around 200 transition team “advisers” embedded with Iraqi troops.
An American military spokesman in Baghdad confirmed that one American had been killed and eight wounded in the Basra operation but said the United States had not had “conventional ground forces in direct support of combat operations.”
Iraqi commanders acknowledge that the American and British support helped them wrest control of Mahdi Army strongholds like Hayyaniyah — a slum that is Basra’s equivalent of Sadr City — and other poor districts that are fertile recruiting grounds for militias.
But a majority of the military presence on the streets is Iraqi.
From the moment motorists drive through the huge arch at the city’s northern entrance, they are confronted with a ragtag but daunting collection of armored police vehicles, Iraqi Army Humvees, cold war-era tanks, pickup trucks with turret-mounted machine guns and bullet-riddled personnel carriers.
Canal bridges are guarded by head-high steel pyramids, from which soldiers observe bustling markets through a bulletproof window.
Maj. Tom Holloway, a British military spokesman, conceded that the Iraqis would have “struggled” without the warplanes available to coalition forces. But he said: “I don’t think it’s a crutch. I think they would have tackled it in their own way and possibly, probably, achieved the same result.”
And the result, whoever is ultimately responsible, is in many ways remarkable.
At the College of Fine Arts, female students said they felt more, but not entirely, free to wear the clothes they liked.
“I used to be challenged for what I wear,” said Athari, a 19-year-old student wearing heavy makeup and a bright orange headscarf pushed high back on her head in the liberal fashion disapproved of by Islamic radicals. “Makeup was forbidden; short skirts were forbidden. I will not mention their name, but they were extremists. They are still here, but quieter now.”
Qais, a music student, spoke of his relief at no longer having to hide his violin in a sack of rice in his trunk.
Most of the students were Shiite, but one youth named Alaa said that he was a Sunni and that 95 percent of his relatives had fled Basra after sectarian killings, including that of his uncle. “I want to thank Mr. Nuri al-Maliki, because he cleaned Basra of murderers, hijackers and thieves,” Alaa said.
It was not an uncommon sentiment. In his city center office, Yahya, a wealthy businessman said he had just begun going onto the streets without his customary 10 bodyguards. Insisting that he was not a political supporter of the prime minister, he said he was nevertheless so grateful for the security improvements that he and colleagues had downloaded Mr. Maliki’s face onto their mobile telephones as screensavers.
But as with the American-led surge in Baghdad, there are abiding uncertainties.
These center on how long such a heavy military presence can be sustained on urban streets, and what happens when it departs.
Gen. Mohan al-Freiji, the Iraqi commander in Basra, said the city was “75 percent” under control. He said the principal threat stemmed from rogue elements of the Mahdi Army and factions like the Iraqi Hezbollah (Party of God), Thairallah (Revenge of God) and Fadhila (Virtue).
(Page 3 of 3)
Emphasizing the urgent need to address decades of poverty and neglect, he said the government had to provide jobs and investment to convert short-term military gains into long-term political and economic ones.
The Quietening of Basra “This is a city which sits on top of oil, but its young people are unemployed,” he said.
Sadrists protest that the Basra operation is a cynical exercise to weaken Mr. Maliki’s Shiite rivals ahead of provincial elections in the fall.
At Friday prayers in Kufa last week, the Sadrist preacher, Sheik Abdul Hadi al-Muhamadawi, said, “There is a large-scale conspiracy to remove the Sadr movement from the government’s way by all means, because it refuses the presence of the occupier in Iraq.”
Such words underscore the widespread belief here that the Mahdi army has its own reasons for lying low and is by no means eliminated.
During one Iraqi Army patrol in Hayyaniyah at dusk, the soldiers, elsewhere relaxed, became jittery. Belying the local commander’s insistence that the Sadrist stronghold was “90 percent or more secure,” some pulled up face masks that they had not worn in other districts. They also fired bullets into the air at the slightest delay in traffic, an aggression unlikely to endear them in an area that, although calm, was noticeably less welcoming.
Haider, a policeman at a checkpoint outside the Sadrists’ former headquarters, said his family had been threatened, even at his home in the capital.
“I have spent 60 days in Basra and haven’t been home to Baghdad,” he said. “I will be killed if I go now. My family have received dozens of fliers with threats from the Mahdi Army.”
Nevertheless he, like many others, said the evacuation of the factions from their once-untouchable headquarters had brought about a psychological shift. Outside the Sadr office, Iraqi soldiers now sit atop the roof, their tripod-mounted machine guns overlooking the tin-roofed Sadrist prayer hall, which lies half-demolished.
“The Mahdi Army used to use this office like the Baathists when they were The Party,” Haider said. “They were ruling like the government of a state. They stopped police doing their duty, from implementing the law.”
Noting that the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein, once much stronger than the Mahdi Army, had been routed, he said, “The Mahdi Army will meet the same fate exactly, and worse.”
Yet traces of the old order remain. One wall in central Basra still bore the unsigned scrawl: “We warn girls not to put on makeup and to wear scarves. Anyone who does not follow these orders will be killed.”
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Story: Presidential Power
on: May 12, 2008, 11:37:13 AM
"If, for instance, the president is required to do any act, he is
not only authorized, but required, to decide for himself, whether,
consistently with his constitutional duties, he can do the act."
-- Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)
Reference: Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 124.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Historical ignorance or Orwellian lie?
on: May 12, 2008, 11:30:03 AM
“In his victory speech after the North Carolina primary, Sen. Barack Obama...[defended] his stated intent to meet with America’s enemies without preconditions...: ‘I trust the American people to understand that it is not weakness, but wisdom to talk not just to our friends, but to our enemies, like Roosevelt did, and Kennedy did, and Truman did.’ That he made this statement, and that it passed without comment by the journalists covering his speech indicates either breathtaking ignorance of history on the part of both, or deceit. I assume the Roosevelt to whom Sen. Obama referred is Franklin D. Roosevelt. Our enemies in World War II were Nazi Germany, headed by Adolf Hitler; fascist Italy, headed by Benito Mussolini, and militarist Japan, headed by Hideki Tojo. FDR talked directly with none of them before the outbreak of hostilities, and his policy once war began was unconditional surrender. FDR died before victory was achieved, and was succeeded by Harry Truman. Truman did not modify the policy of unconditional surrender. He ended that war not with negotiation, but with the atomic bomb. Harry Truman also was president when North Korea invaded South Korea in June, 1950. President Truman’s response was not to call up North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung for a chat. It was to send troops... Sen. Obama is on both sounder and softer ground with regard to John F. Kennedy. The new president held a summit meeting with Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev in Vienna in June, 1961. Elie Abel, who wrote a history of the Cuban missile crisis (The Missiles of October), said the crisis had its genesis in that summit... Mr. Abel wrote, ‘There is no evidence to support the belief that Khrushchev ever questioned America’s power. He questioned only the president’s readiness to use it.’... It’s worth noting that Kennedy then was vastly more experienced than Sen. Obama is now. A combat veteran of World War II, Jack Kennedy served 14 years in Congress before becoming president. Sen. Obama has no military and little work experience, and has been in Congress for less than four years... History is an elective few liberals choose to take these days... The lack of historical knowledge among journalists is merely appalling. But in a presidential candidate it’s dangerous. As Sir Winston Churchill said: ‘Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it’.” —Jack Kelly
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Air Combat by Remote Control
on: May 12, 2008, 11:11:10 AM
Air Combat by Remote Control
By BRIAN M. CARNEY
May 12, 2008; Page A13
Indian Springs, Nev.
The sniper never knew what hit him. The Marines patrolling the street below were taking fire, but did not have a clear shot at the third-story window that the sniper was shooting from. They were pinned down and called for reinforcements.
Help came from a Predator drone circling the skies 20 miles away. As the unmanned plane closed in, the infrared camera underneath its nose picked up the muzzle flashes from the window. The sniper was still firing when the Predator's 100-pound Hellfire missile came through the window and eliminated the threat.
The airman who fired that missile was 8,000 miles away, here at Creech Air Force Base, home of the 432nd air wing. The 432nd officially "stood up," in the jargon of the Air Force, on May 1, 2007. One year later, two dozen of its drones patrol the skies over Iraq and Afghanistan every hour of every day. And almost all of them are flown by two-man crews sitting in the air-conditioned comfort of a "ground control station" (GCS) in the Nevada desert.
Col. Chris Chambliss, 49, was an F-16 pilot for 20 years before being tapped as the 432nd's first wing commander. He can tell you -- to the day -- the last time he flew an F-16 (March 29, 2007), but he insists he has no regrets about giving up his cockpit for the earthbound GCS of the Predator and its big sibling, the Reaper. "It's much more fun," Col. Chambliss admits, "to climb up a ladder and strap on an airplane than it is to walk into a GCS and sit down." But the payoff comes, he contends, in far greater effectiveness "in the fight."
"In that F-16 squadron that I was in," he says, "you'd come into that squadron for three years, and you might deploy once or twice for 120 days into the theater," but after 120 days, normal military rotations would require you to come back, rest and retrain. So in a three-year tour, an airman might be deployed for eight months or a year.
Col. Chambliss's Predator and Reaper squadrons don't have that problem. Out of 250 aviators, they might deploy eight of them to Iraq or Afghanistan at any given time to take off and land the planes -- a task that still has to be done locally. The rest of the pilots and crew men work shifts at Creech, flying for eight hours before handing the plane off to the next shift. This means that at any given moment a squadron of drones is using 80% of its assets in combat, compared to perhaps 30% for an F-16 squadron.
It's this effectiveness multiplier that led Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently to call on the Air Force to put every available Predator into the air in Iraq. But how we got here is itself a story of innovation and creative thinking going back more than a decade. It's a story that shows how even the military can do more with less, starting with the modestly priced $4.2 million airframe originally designed as a reconnaissance vehicle.
Predators were first deployed in Bosnia in 1996. At the time, they were limited to the line of sight of their base stations. But in 2003, two things happened to expand the range of possibilities by an order of magnitude. For one, the Air Force routed the signal from the satellite downlink via fiber-optics. This allowed them to put the ground control stations -- the cockpits -- anywhere in the world that a fiber connection was available. Also that year, as the Iraq invasion was gearing up, the Air Force decided to try strapping a Hellfire missile on the Predator, transforming it from a reconnaissance role into a multipurpose weapon.
Today, the Reaper, which went into service in Afghanistan last September (a year ahead of schedule), can carry nearly the same payload as an F-16 -- typically two 500-pound laser-guided bombs and four Hellfires.
These are early days for unmanned aerial warfare. The 432nd is only one year old, and its mission continues to evolve. The 42nd Attack Squadron -- the Reaper squadron -- is still young, and still small, with only enough men and equipment to keep two planes at a time in the skies over Afghanistan.
Col. Chambliss compares the situation to the early decades of manned flight. "You know how fast things went from the end of the First World War to the end of the Second World War, how aviation, the capabilities vastly increased. That's where we're sitting right now. . . . I have no doubt when I'm sitting in my rocking chair, a retired old guy, I will be sitting there going, 'You've got to be kidding me.'"
Mr. Carney is a member of The Wall Street Journal editorial board.
See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CAIR-OH banquet speaker: 1993 World Trade Center bombing conspirator Siraj Wahha
on: May 11, 2008, 02:22:21 PM
Second post of the day:
CAIR-OH banquet speaker: 1993 World Trade Center bombing conspirator Siraj Wahhaj
Later today CAIR-Ohio will host their 10th annual fundraising banquet here in Columbus. This week, we've revisited some of the more infamous moments in CAIR-OH history:
1999 CAIR-OH banquet speaker: convicted terrorist and bin Laden operative, Abdurahman Alamoudi
CAIR-OH revisited, 2001: CAIR-OH holds fundraiser for notorious cop killer, Jamal Al-Amin
CAIR-OH revisited, 1999: CAIR-OH rushes to aid pre-9/11 dry-run hijackers
But the appearance of Siraj Wahhaj, who was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, as the keynote speaker for the 2006 CAIR-OH annual banquet has to rank among one of the most despicable acts in that group's ten years of existence.
And following the banquet featuring Wahhaj, CAIR-OH bragged in a press release how the Wahhaj fundraiser had netted them more than $100,000 in one evening to help spread their hate speech and terror apologies. Here is the CAIR press release following the event (click to enlarge):
In a March 2006 article, "CAIR's Blood Money", I prefaced my evaluation of CAIR-OH's activities with this historical reflection:
At 12:17 pm on February 26, 1993, a 1,500lb urea-nitrate fuel-oil bomb hidden inside a rental van caused a massive explosion that ripped through the parking garage of the World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring another 1,042 – the first large-scale terrorist attack on U.S. soil by Islamic extremists. The terrorists had intended to topple one of the buildings onto the other, potentially killing tens of thousands of innocent Americans. Sadly, the fourteenth anniversary of that event passed last week with very little discussion by major media outlets, even though that lethal attack by Islamic terrorists ominously foreshadowed the unspeakable horror of 9/11.
At 8:00 pm on June 6, 2006, the Ohio affiliate of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OH) honored one of the unindicted conspirators in that 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Siraj Wahhaj, a Brooklyn, NY imam that had also served as a defense witness at the trial of one of the men convicted for that terrorist attack, the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel-Rahman (a conviction that CAIR has labeled “a travesty of justice”). More than 400 CAIR-OH supporters gathered at this fundraising banquet.
Read the whole article. And consider the terrible legacy of hatred and terrorist support that CAIR-OH has wrought over the past decade.
Posted by Patrick Poole at 2:19 AM
Labels: CAIR-OH, Siraj Wahhaj
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere
on: May 11, 2008, 01:38:17 PM
Islamic Divorce Ruled Not Valid in Maryland
Custom Allowing Men to End Marriage With Oral Declaration Lacks 'Due Process'
By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 8, 2008; B02
After his wife of more than two decades filed for divorce in Montgomery County Circuit Court, Irfan Aleem responded in writing in 2003, and not just in court.
Aleem went to the Pakistani Embassy in the District, where he executed a written document that asserted he was divorcing Farah Aleem. He performed "talaq," exercising a provision of Islamic religious and Pakistani secular law that allows husbands to divorce their wives by declaring "I divorce thee" three times. In Muslim countries, men have used talaq to leave their wives for centuries.
But they can't use it in Maryland, the state's highest court decided this week.
The state Court of Appeals issued a unanimous 21-page opinion Tuesday declaring that talaq is contrary to Maryland's constitutional provisions providing equal rights to men and women.
"Talaq lacks any significant 'due process' for the wife, its use, moreover, directly deprives the wife of the 'due process' she is entitled to when she initiates divorce litigation in this state. The lack and deprivation of due process is itself contrary to this state's public policy," the court wrote.
The decision affirms a 2007 ruling by the Court of Special Appeals, the state's intermediate appellate court, which also said that talaq does not apply in the Free State.
Under Islamic traditions, talaq can be invoked only by a husband, unless he grants his wife the same right.
According to the Court of Appeals' opinion, Irfan Aleem, who worked for years as an economist with the World Bank, is worth about $2 million, half of which Farah Aleem is entitled to under Maryland law. When Irfan Aleem tried to divorce his wife under the concept of talaq, a sum of $2,500 was mentioned as a "full and final" settlement, according to the appellate decision.
That amount was written into the marriage contract Farah Aleem signed the day she married him in their native Pakistan in 1980, according to the appellate decision. The contract was in accordance with Pakistani custom. At the time, he was 29 and she was 18. The couple moved to the Washington area in 1985.
"I don't even know how to express how happy I am. I am ecstatic, relieved," Farah Aleem, 46, said yesterday.
Over the years, a lack of financial support from her ex-husband caused hardship for her and her son and daughter, who are in college, she said. "All I ever wanted was my fair share, not a penny more," said Aleem, who lives in the Washington area, works full time for an accounting firm and is pursuing an accounting degree at night.
At the direction of the judge who presided over the Aleems' divorce proceedings, the couple's Potomac home was sold, and half the proceeds -- about $200,000 -- went to Farah Aleem, said Susan Friedman, her attorney.
Friedman said she thinks that Irfan Aleem, who retired in recent years, invoked talaq to avoid paying Farah half of his World Bank pension, which provides him with $90,000 annually, the attorney said.
"It will be very pleasant when [Farah] gets her share of that," Friedman said. "She's delighted about that."
Friedman said she will serve papers on the World Bank showing that the original order from the Circuit Court -- that Farah Aleem is entitled to half her ex-husband's pension -- is now final and that the bank has to give her half.
Irfan Aleem, who is in his late 50s, lives in Pakistan, Friedman said.
His attorney, Priya R. Aryar, said, "We're very disappointed with the decision. We think this could have adverse ramifications for a whole bunch of people who reside in the D.C. area under diplomatic visas and assume that their family law rights and obligations are governed by the laws of their country of citizenship."
A legal scholar and an Islamic leader said the appellate court's decision was not surprising.
"For the most part, Muslims expected this kind of ruling," said Muneer Fareed, secretary general of the Islamic Society of North America in Plainfield, Ind. "The contrary would be a surprise to them. They do not expect the U.S. legal system to give full recognition of talaq."
Julie Macfarlane, a legal scholar who is researching a book about Islamic divorces in North America, said the decision was not surprising. "There's no legal enforceability [for talaq] in U.S. courts," said Macfarlane, a professor at the University of Windsor in Canada.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Texas
on: May 11, 2008, 09:19:10 AM
SOURCE = http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dw....e2b80f8a.html
Victim speaks about donut shop robbery
04:22 PM CDT on Friday, May 9, 2008
David Schechter reports
May 9, 2008
Neighborliness has been redefined in a West Fort Worth neighborhood. Early this morning a robber invaded a local donut shop. Before he could get away a neighbor shot the intruder dead outside the Happy Donut Shop.
It’s a beloved neighborhood gathering spot owned by Chong Randle. Early this morning, when Randle was in the back she heard a loud noise up front. The robber broke through the glass and entered.
“He said, ‘I’m going to shoot you’. I said, ‘Go ahead and shoot. I’m going to heaven. Go ahead shooting. I just put my hands up and lay down,’” said Randle.
“He said I’m going to shoot you and you said go ahead and shoot me?” asked reporter David Schechter.
“You wanna shoot. Shoot. Because I’m going to heaven,” she added.
Randle says she gave him everything she had—about $30 in change. Instead of leaving, though, the robber kept demanding more. What that robber didn't know was that as the seconds ticked by Randle’s neighbor was on his way to help with a loaded shotgun. He shot and killed the intruder-- 45-year old Richard Lane.
“How do you feel about him? Are you thankful?” Schechter asked Randle.
“He shoot them because he’s doing the right thing,” she said.
Randle was lucky to get away with minor injuries. She says this is the second time this week Randle’s been robbed. She thinks it was the same person, both times.
“Not a very happy week for Happy Donuts,” Schechter asked.
“Still happy donuts. We didn’t do anything wrong,” she said.
The neighbor who shot the robber was not available for an interview today. He likely will not face any charges… though the case may be reviewed by a grand jury. But if any witnesses are needed, there was actually a police officer driving by just as the gun went off.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Pre-emption and Sucker Punches
on: May 10, 2008, 07:26:13 PM
As people who seek a harmonious path in Life, our training must prepare us for unequal initiative/pre-emption/sucker attacks. All our training with equal initiative can get completely mooted if we are taken out of the fight before it starts. We need to appreciate just how quickly can be done.
Spotting cues is a very, very important part of being able to handle this . My friend Southnark has developed "managing unknown contacts" to a high level and organizes the most likely cues into four categories. Around here we will call them "The Southnark 4".
Study for effectiveness, and for cues:http://youtube.com/watch?v=cuCF1B_Muas
Anyone else have some good clips in this vein?
Edited to add: I have added the term "sucker punch" to the title of the thread because I realized that this distinction needs to be added to the conversation.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obstacles to I-P Peace
on: May 10, 2008, 10:09:30 AM
How good it feels to read something like this coming from a major player in the Muslim world.
The Obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian Peace
By ABDURRAHMAN WAHID and ABDUL A'LA
May 10, 2008; Page A11
The prolonged Israeli-Palestinian conflict has a far-reaching impact not only upon the lives of those who dwell in the Holy Land, but upon virtually every nation and community on earth. On a daily basis, self-interested parties are callously manipulating the most basic values of humanity and religion in order to advance their personal or political interests. Sectarianism, violence, arrogance and deception are constantly subverting the fundamental values of life, and turning religious principles upon their heads.
This horrific process demands that every moral human being, religious community and nation throughout the world contemplate this tragedy and offer assistance, however small, to help resolve the profound human crisis in the Holy Land. Peace is both a process and a goal that the world can neither morally nor practically afford to push off into the future yet again.
We must develop and implement concrete strategies to resolve the conflict, while inspiring hope that peace can actually be achieved. The problem is that the various obstacles to peace seem nearly impossible to eliminate. These obstacles are rendered even more severe by the fact that both major parties in the conflict harbor groups absolutely convinced of the correctness of their mutually exclusive views and agendas. Such groups reject not only the rights, but the very existence, of the other side.
The corrosive effect of this phenomenon is the evocation and rationalization of the use of violence, either through terrorism or militarism. Prejudiced views on both sides, not only by those directly engaged in the conflict, but by their allies as well, further stoke the flames of hatred and violence.
These prejudices contaminate public discourse throughout the world, and are constantly exploited by Middle Eastern regimes that fuel anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic emotions for political purposes, while displaying little or no actual concern for the well-being of the Palestinians themselves.
Under such conditions, it is nearly impossible for sincere dialogue even to occur, much less to develop or flourish. Instead, the cycle of violence breeds a hardening of mutual hatred.
The Palestinian side routinely condemns its enemy as a colonial power whose entire population is demonized as "imperialists," while the Israeli side brands its political opponents as terrorists, or terrorist sympathizers.
For six decades, the peace process has been conducted primarily by self-interested political players who cannot penetrate to the heart of the underlying problems, much less resolve them. This gives rise to deeply cynical views on the part of certain groups on both sides, who view the peace process as absurd, its goals unobtainable, and continued violence better than compromise.
Yet the difficulties that have swamped every Israeli-Palestinian peace process to date do not mean that achieving peace is impossible. Rather, they point to the need for a new and more holistic path to peace in the Middle East. This path would mobilize the populations of Israel and Palestine toward this goal, with the active encouragement and support of the rest of the world.
The December 2007 visit to Israel and Palestine by a group of Indonesian ulama from the world's two largest Muslim organizations – LibForAll Foundation and the Indonesian Peace Delegation – represents one such effort, and the first step in a larger, systematic process. Conducted under the joint aegis of LibForAll Foundation and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, members of the group consistently observed that the silent majorities on both sides of the conflict sincerely desire an end to the cycle of violence, and peace for themselves and their children. This is remarkable, given the decades of incitement to hatred and violence in Palestinian mosques, schools and mass media, and a political culture that eschews compromise.
It is tragic that the voice of the people – full of an honest and sincere longing for peace – should be drowned out by violence and the narrow interests of politicians and extremists on both sides. We have a responsibility to amplify the voices of the innocent who pay with their blood and sorrow the price of others' ambitions and hatred.
We must also strengthen and facilitate the people's efforts to pressure their political elites – in a manner that is focused, intense and vocal, yet simultaneously civilized – to create a just and lasting peace.
Palestinians and Israelis need the world's support to create a new reality, in which the highest values of religion and humanity are restored to their proper dignity. We must also help Muslim populations – not only in Palestine, but throughout the Arab world – to rise to embrace a profoundly spiritual and tolerant understanding of Islam, and a humanistic attitude toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that acknowledges the legacy of suffering on all sides. Such an attitude is a necessary precondition for recognizing Israel's unique history and right to exist, while truly advancing the interests of Palestinians as well.
Last year's LibForAll/Indonesian Peace mission to Israel and Palestine was designed to initiate such a process. After the religious leaders who participated returned to Indonesia, they faced intense condemnation from Muslim extremists, who accused them of having betrayed their Palestinian brethren and embarrassed Indonesia's Muslim community. Yet there is nothing shameful about working to realize the highest values of religion – which God intended to serve as a blessing, and not a curse, to all of humanity.
Although the obstacles to peace in the Holy Land may appear insurmountable, it is the responsibility of religious leaders on all sides to attempt the impossible, and to accept whatever threats, slander and stigma may follow.
Mr. Wahid is the former president of Indonesia and co-founder of LibForAll Foundation. Mr. A'la is an associate dean of graduate studies at Sunan Ampel Islamic State University in Surabaya, Indonesia.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Single Officer vs. Active Killer
on: May 10, 2008, 09:26:43 AM
Force Science News #97
In this issue:
I. Ohio trainer makes the case for single-officer entry against active killers
II. Force Science News to be translated for 14,000 French-speaking officers
I. Ohio trainer makes the case for single-officer entry against active killers
If you're a patrol officer who's first on the scene of an active-shooter call, should you make immediate entry in hunt for the suspect...or wait for other early responders and improvise a rapid deployment team?
Since the Columbine massacre 9 years ago, few if any trainers any longer advocate delaying for a formal SWAT call-out, which can take 30 minutes or more in some areas. But commonly a hasty assembly of 3 or more officers for a search-and-confrontation team is recommended, with coordinated movement tactics taught accordingly.
To trainer Ron Borsch, a 30-year law enforcement veteran who manages the small SEALE (South East Area Law Enforcement) Regional Training Academy in Bedford, Ohio, that's a deadly waste of time when seconds can mean lives.
Based on his on-going research of active-shooter realities, he's convinced that single-officer entries can potentially lessen the toll of casualties while exposing the responders involved to little additional risk. Although popular law enforcement literature has just lately begun to explore the single-officer concept, Borsch has promoted the idea to in-service trainees for more than 2 years and has taught solo- and 2-officer entry-action models in academy courses for the past year. And he finds that administrators whose officers are exposed to this approach generally accept it enthusiastically.
"We offer this report not necessarily as a tactical advisory but as an example of one trainer's effort to give tactical instruction a research base," explains Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato. "We offer it for your thoughtful consideration and we'd be interested in hearing comments from our readers on Ron Borsch's conclusions." If you have comments, please e-mail the editor.
"Time is our worst adversary in dealing with active killers," Borsch told Force Science News. "We're racing what I call 'the Stopwatch of Death.' Victims are often added to the toll every several seconds."
Where times have been reliably documented, the average post-Columbine "rapid mass murder episode" lasts just 8 minutes, according to Borsch's calculations. "The murderer's timeline begins when he says it begins. Any prevention, deterrence or delay efforts have failed at that point, and the police are handicapped with catching up whenever they are notified."
To have any hope of successfully intervening in a slaughter spree under the usual tight time strictures, law enforcement "needs to get less manpower on site sooner." Training LEOs to wait even moments to form an impromptu entry team shows that "our country's tactical community at large has failed to do its homework and to evolve strategies that accurately reflect the known methods of operation and patterns of active killers," Borsch asserts. "Law enforcement has already proved many times over that we can arrive 'too late with too many' and spend too much time gathering pre-entry intelligence. Now we need to fix what is obviously a broken strategy."
Borsch, who logged 17 years as a part-time SWAT team member before retiring from street work, has analyzed more than 90 active-shooter incidents on the basis of data largely ferreted out from Internet reports. Most involved schools and colleges, but workplaces, shopping malls, churches and other public places are also represented. Among his findings that have helped shape his tactical thinking:
• 98% of active killers act alone.
• 80% have long guns, 75% have multiple weapons (about 3 per incident), and they sometimes bring hundreds of extra rounds of ammunition to the shooting site.
• Despite such heavy armaments and an obsession with murder at close range, they have an average hit rate of less than 50%.
• They strike "stunned, defenseless innocents via surprise ambush. On a level playing field, the typical active killer would be a no-contest against anyone reasonably capable of defending themselves."
• "They absolutely control life and death until they stop at their leisure or are stopped." They do not take hostages, do not negotiate.
• They generally try to avoid police, do not hide or lie in wait for officers and "typically fold quickly upon armed confrontation."
• 90% commit suicide on-site. "Surrender or escape attempts are unlikely."
Because active shooters seem so intent on killing, it's often difficult to convince first responders that "this bad guy is one of the easiest man-with-gun encounters they will ever have," Borsch observes. "Most officers have already faced worse opponents from a personal safety standpoint than these creeps."
He believes the profile he has drawn should "empower officers with probable cause to believe that they can successfully prevail against the predictable patterns of these mass murderers" if they arrive in time to abort an actual attack.
From their experience in dealing with "a myriad of urgent circumstances" in their normal work, street officers are "already quite used to a multi-tiered response that begins with one officer, with backup en route." A solo officer entering an active-killer scene "has a virtual guarantee that an avalanche of manpower is coming fast behind him," so he won't be alone for long.
Once into the scene, to further gain confidence in advancing aggressively toward the suspect, officers need to understand the nature of these killers. Unlike conventional criminal predators, who often have no reluctance about attacking police, active shooters tend to be "cowardly," Borsch says.
"They choose unarmed, defenseless innocents for a reason: They have no wish to encounter someone who can hurt them. They are personally risk- and pain-avoidant. The tracking history of these murderers has proved them to be unlikely to be aggressive with police. If pressed, they are more likely to kill themselves." In his research, he has found no evidence of any LEO in the U.S. yet being wounded or killed in an active-shooting incident where mass murder was intended or accomplished.
"Officers need to understand valid military principles that apply to these calls, such as speed, surprise and violence of action," Borsch insists. "They need to learn how to close in and finish the fight with aggression, having and keeping the 'momentum of battle' on their side. The idea is to keep the adversary off-balance by forcing him always to react to your actions, rather than, after contact, reacting to him."
For example, once an active killer is spotted, Borsch favors the swift application of deadly force over seeking defensive cover in most instances. "An unintentional consequence of going to cover may be to lose sight of the offender, allowing him to gain the momentum of battle and shoot more defenseless innocents until he says it's over."
SEALE's active-killer countermeasures, taught through a course called Tactical First Responder, bypass traditional instruction in team formations and movement. These can be important in a mass murder response, Borsch says--but only later, during a search-and-rescue phase. What's realistically needed by the first one or two patrol officers to arrive at a scene--"the first of the first responders"--are instruction and practice in how to enter, move and confront the threat alone.
Thus after a briefing on the predictable patterns of offender behavior that his research has revealed, the trainees concentrate on perfecting a swift zig-zag movement down hallways, on mastering an accelerated slicing-the-pie technique for taking corners, on maneuvering up and down stairways with a patrol rifle (the response weapon of choice, given the killer's likely armaments), and on using sight, sound, smell and intuition to gather intel that will help them close quickly on the threat. "We practice until there's no speed less than rapid."
If an officer enters a school in response to an active-killer call "he may see or hear nothing out of order initially," Borsch says. "The place may be in lock-down and there may be hundreds of rooms, some of them quite distant and out of earshot, where the killer could be wreaking havoc.
"The officer may have to set out in a direction with little guidance and cover a lot of ground until he comes across something. In these situations, intelligence often belongs only to those who go get it. But what's the alternative--just stop and wait? The killing may be continuing while you hear nothing."
Single-officer entry has been a controversial concept, Borsch says, but he senses that the tide is starting to turn. In a recent issue of Law and Order Magazine, hardly an advocate of radical innovation, the executive director of the National Assn. of School Resource Officers wrote in an article aimed as police chiefs, "Training CANNOT be limited to the active shoot training where three, four or more officers respond and form a team." At SEALE, Borsch has found that chiefs whose officers have completed the First Responder course often want their personnel to repeat the training to reinforce the single-entry precepts. Some departments have also hired him as a consultant to evaluate and revise their active-killer protocols.
"A slow-and-methodical approach--what I call 'tactical loitering'--is still appropriate for most types of police encounters," Borsch says. "Dynamic active killers are a unique problem. With time as a relentless enemy, an officer has a choice to make: does he or she take the risk of going in alone...or are potential victims left to the mercy of a rogue human while the officer stays safe?"
Even with an immediate solo entry, Borsch concedes, police may not find the killer until his bloodletting is over. But saving time by "getting called early enough and taking action early enough," he argues, still offers the best chance for mitigating casualties.
Aided by his research, "we prepare the officers' mind first, then work on the motor skills in hallways, stairwells and rooms," Borsch says. To motivate courage, he hangs the walls of his training classroom with photographs of victims and their active shooters. "The victims' pictures are big," he explains. "Those of the killers are small. They're worthless cowards. The innocent people who may be their victims if we don't stop them are what matter."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Germany-Plus
on: May 10, 2008, 08:45:33 AM
Obama Promises Germany-Plus
By GABOR STEINGART
May 10, 2008; Page A9
When I begin to feel homesick for Germany, I have discovered a cheap and easy way out. I simply turn on the TV and listen to a Barack Obama stump speech.
The promised land of universal health care, secure pensions, a lot of green-collar jobs and stable bridges brings me back to my home country. My grandma, who has worked in a post office all her life, enjoys her pension without having ever observed the stock market. Everyone who travels through the countryside can see thousands of windmills, but never a collapsed bridge. And the best: My mom, my friends and everyone around them have access to first-class medical services.
Sometimes it appears to me that Mr. Obama wants to trump all that. He has promised not only a $160 billion program for new green-collar jobs, a higher minimum wage, affordable health care for everybody, a massive investment in infrastructure and tax-free status for pensioners who make less than $50,000. All these nice things come with no tax increase for 95% of Americans. Wow! That's Germany-plus!
I've been in the U.S. for a while, but if I remember my home country correctly, all the German comforts come with a price. My grandma has paid 10% of her salary to the public pension system, and her employer has matched the contribution. For our health insurance everyone has to sacrifice 7% of his or her earnings, which again is matched by the company. Fashionable windmills go along with extra taxes for fuel. A gallon of regular gas in Munich or Berlin costs – fasten your seat belt – more than $8.
Not all of my fellow Germans are happy with this, but the overwhelming majority of my fellow countrymen made their decision a long time ago. They prefer big government. They have learned to live with growth rates far behind and an unemployment rate far above the U.S.
Maybe I am being unfair to Mr. Obama. But it seems to me that the agent of change was window-shopping in Germany without looking at the price tag. You should ask him for the bill.
Mr. Steingart is the senior correspondent in Washington, D.C., for Der Spiegel news magazine and author of the "The War for Wealth – The True Story of Globalization" (McGraw Hill, 2008).
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strafor
on: May 10, 2008, 08:36:28 AM
May 9, 2008
Indications continued to mount on Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would be indicted on charges of bribery. Violence broke out in Lebanon between Hezbollah and Lebanese groups opposed to it. The Turks announced that they had suspended talks between Israel and Syria because of Syrian leaks concerning talks with Israel that the Turks had brokered. Things are in flux, to say the least.
It is important to note that Olmert was not indicted and that he said that he had not taken any bribes. However, the unsealing of the information that the prosecutors had about the bribe, which triggered Olmert’s denial, kicked off a political storm in Israel, with many political leaders either calling for his resignation immediately or predicting that he would be forced to resign eventually — given that Olmert had stated that he would resign if indicted.
Israeli politics are, therefore, in a meltdown. Olmert’s ability to govern under these circumstances is limited. Everyone is maneuvering in anticipation of his leaving office, and his leverage has evaporated. Should he again be given a clean bill of health, the situation will undoubtedly reverse. However, there is a broadly held sense in Israel that he will not survive. That throws the future of the coalition into question and likely makes elections necessary. If that happens, Israel will not be in a position to make any decisions on Palestinian or Syrian negotiations.
That makes the decision by the Turks to announce publicly that they would suspend negotiations over a leak that happened weeks ago particularly interesting. There was no reason to hold the announcement, and, having held it, there was no reason to announce it now. Moreover, the Turks did not say the talks were canceled, only that they were on hold. Given the state of Israeli politics, of course, that is quite accurate. We suspect that the Turks were quite irritated with the Syrians over the leak, but also decided that they needed a reason to put things on hold at this time. Still, the strategic reasons that led the Turks to want an Israeli-Syrian settlement are still in place, as are Israeli and Syrian interests — and this was a pause with a signal to the Syrians to behave.
And that is an important signal, given what happened in Lebanon today. Lebanese politicians decided to move against Hezbollah’s private communication system — the system that enables Hezbollah to be a self-contained army within Lebanon, outside the bounds of the Lebanese Army. Hezbollah understood that this was a direct threat to its power in Lebanon and reacted with violence, ranging from stone-throwing to mortar fire. Hezbollah made it clear that it did not intend to have its power reduced.
Taking on Hezbollah is dangerous for anyone, particularly the Lebanese. The move to shut down Hezbollah’s communications was obviously going to cause a violent response, and few in Lebanon are eager to risk Hezbollah’s wrath — unless they have an understanding with Syria. Syria is a supporter of Hezbollah, but its relationship with the group is complex. There are times when Syria has wanted Hezbollah to be as aggressive as possible and times when Syria was very active in restraining Hezbollah. The Syrians never wanted to dismantle the group, but there were times they wanted it to be benign. Given Syria’s talks with the Israelis –- for which the Syrians publicly celebrated, and the Turks rapped them on the knuckles — an unconditional demand on the part of Israel had to have been Syria reining in Hezbollah.
Whoever decided to shut down Hezbollah’s communication system had to have some confidence that they would not be facing Hezbollah alone. There are three possibilities. One, that they thought they could handle Hezbollah themselves. We find that hard to believe. Two, that they thought Israel might intervene, perhaps because Olmert would start a war to cover his indictment. If that’s so, we think it was a major miscalculation; Israel won’t go to war on that basis. Three, that anti-Hezbollah forces in Lebanon have gotten the signal from Syria that they can act against Hezbollah, as a gesture of good faith to Israel on the part of Damascus. Our suspicion is that this is what happened. Incurring the displeasure of both Hezbollah and Syria is not wise for any Lebanese.
The tangle caused by Olmert’s situation is now intense. Left out of this discussion are the Palestinian negotiations or any of the other complexities of the region. This is quite enough. But as frequently happens in the Middle East, what appeared to be a promising opening a couple of weeks ago has bogged down in the internal politics of one of the actors. Even Olmert’s departure will not solve the problem, as it will create a vacuum that could take months to fill.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude
on: May 10, 2008, 08:32:41 AM
I am grateful for the time yesterday when my 5 year old daughter played iwth "Magna-stix" on floor of my office as I worked and for the time I had pitching to my son before dinner with my daughter chasing the balls he hit on her scooter and brining them to me; the wonderful dinner that my wife cooked, and our time together as a family.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jefferson
on: May 09, 2008, 10:39:43 PM
The present desire of America is to produce rapid population by as great importations of foreigners as possible. But is this founded in good policy? … [A]re there no inconveniences to be thrown into the scale against the advantage expected from a multiplication of numbers by the importation of foreigners? It is for the happiness of those united in society to harmonize as much as possible in matters which they must of necessity transact together. Civil government being the sole object of forming societies, its administration must be conducted by common consent. Every species of government has its specific principles. Ours perhaps are more peculiar than those of any other in the universe. It is a composition of the freest principles of the English constitution, with others derived from natural right and natural reason. To these nothing can be more opposed than the maxims of absolute monarchies. Yet, from such, we are to expect the greatest number of emigrants. They will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed in their early youth; or, if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty. These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its direction, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass.
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of VA. 123-5
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Thin Skin
on: May 09, 2008, 08:16:59 PM
By JAMES TARANTO
May 9, 2008
(Note: We'll be traveling and thus absent the early part of next week.)
For all the hype about Barack Obama being some new kind of politician, in one respect he is very similar to recent Democratic presidential nominees: He takes criticism very badly, responding to it by getting both defensive and nasty. It is a most unattractive quality.
CNN reports on a case in point:
"This is offensive, and I think it's disappointing," Obama told [Wolf] Blitzer, when asked his thoughts about McCain's comments that the terrorist organization Hamas wants Obama to be president. "Because John McCain always says 'I am not going to run that kind of politics,' and to engage in that kind of smear is unfortunate, particularly because my policy toward Hamas has been no different than his.
"I've said it's a terrorist organization and we should not negotiate with them unless they recognize Israel, renounce violence, and unless they are willing to abide by previous accords between the Palestinians and the Israelis. So for him to toss out comments like that I think is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination. We don't need name calling in this debate."
Commentary's Abe Greenwald has the background on the so-called smear:
Jennifer [Rubin, a Commentary blogress] is too modest to mention it, but she played a considerable role in the "smear" to which Obama [yesterday] referred. It was during a blogger conference call on April 25 that she, in fact, asked John McCain to comment on Hamas's preference for Obama above the other presidential candidates. As it happens, I was on that call as well. And it's worth noting the nature of McCain's response to Jennifer. He began his reply by saying, "All I can tell you, Jennifer, is that I think it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next President of the United States."
Considering the situation, this is about the most delicately phrased response that one could have expected. It was not in the least a smear. Jennifer introduced Hamas's very real preference into the conversation. John McCain essentially chose to let the facts speak for themselves.
As we noted last month, Hamas leader Ahmed Yousef did in fact endorse Obama, in an interview with WABC-AM's John Batchelor. McCain's statement that "it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president" is far less of a smear than Obama's characterization of McCain as having "lost his bearings," plainly an attempt to stereotype the septuagenarian McCain as suffering from dementia. No wonder Hillary Clinton does so well among superannuated primary voters.
Obama's perturbability in the face of criticism was also evident in his response to the various comments by Jeremiah Wright*. Sept. 11 was chickens coming home to roost? Hey, we all have uncles who say crazy things. "God damn America"? He meant it in the best possible way. Barack Obama is acting like a politician? That got him angry, although it was almost as indisputably accurate as McCain's statement about Hamas.
One difference between Obama's and McCain's policies toward Hamas, as The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb points out, is that Obama is eager to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the public face of Iran's revolutionary Islamic regime, which is the terror group's chief patron. The purpose of the meeting is unclear, but Obama seems to suggest that he would somehow charm Ahmadinejad into submission. Can there be any doubt, though, that Ahmadinejad is now taking note of how easily rattled his prospective interlocutor is?
* The man of whom Barack Obama says, "He was never my quote-unquote spiritual adviser," although he served on the Obama campaign's quote-unquote spiritual advisory committee.
Elect Me, I'm Electable
Yesterday we noted Hillary Clinton's unfortunate comment in an interview with USA Today: "There was just an AP article posted that found how Senator Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans is weakening again. . . . I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on."
Peggy Noonan quotes an Obama supporter as saying of Mrs. Clinton's remark, "Even Richard Nixon didn't say white, even with the Southern strategy." We suppose Nixon was a smoother politician than Mrs. Clinton, and using the word "white" was (as we told her yesterday) a mistake. But there is a reason she is speaking in these terms.
The Tampa Tribune's William March reports that Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz released a statement making essentially the same point, although without being explicitly racial about it:
Senator Clinton continues to demonstrate that she has what it takes to win the Presidency . . . while Senator Obama does well in areas and demographic groups that the Democratic nominee will win anyway.
It isn't only Mrs. Clinton's side that is insulting Democratic voters. These remarks are of a piece with Barack Obama's statement about "bitter" working-class Pennsylvanians. Jay Cost of RealClearPolitics had an insightful take on that:
Mr. Obama presumed to explain the behavior of the voters he is courting. We might not know for sure exactly how he was explaining them, but we know that he was trying to. This is something that is best left to political scientists, not candidates. They should never speak of voters in any but the most flattering terms. Otherwise, there is a risk of alienating them. When you analyze people, you are signaling that you are separate from them. You are an "other." What is more, nobody likes to feel that they are being analyzed. The analyst can come across as haughty. "Who the hell does he think he is to explain me?"
Why are they insulting voters? Because at the moment, they are not trying to appeal to voters but to so-called superdelegates, the elected and party officials who will actually decide the Democratic nominee. Both candidates are trying to persuade the superdelegates that they have better prospects in November, and that is why they are referring to the voters in the third person.
In the olden days, of course, these conversations would have taken place in smoke-filled rooms, not in public. Being dragged through this is a fitting punishment for the woman who banned smoking in the White House.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine
on: May 09, 2008, 03:39:51 PM
Man Saves Own Life, Uses Steak Knife for At-Home Tracheotomy
OMAHA, Neb. — An Omaha man struggling to breath used a steak knife to perform an at-home tracheotomy.
Steve Wilder says he thought he was going to die when he awoke one night last week and couldn't breath.
Wilder says he didn't call 911 because he didn't think help would arrive in time. So, the 55-year-old says, he got a steak knife from the kitchen and made a small hole in his throat, allowing air to gush in.
Wilder suffered from throat cancer and related breathing problems several years ago. About that time, he had an episode where he couldn't breath because his air passages swelled shut. He says that's what happened this time around.
Doctors don't expect Wilder to suffer any adverse affects from the tracheotomy once it's healed.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Rise and Collide
on: May 09, 2008, 03:26:24 PM
Rise and Collide
By MARY KISSEL
May 9, 2008; Page A15
By Bill Emmott
(Harcourt, 342 pages, $26)
The rise of China is easy to exaggerate and even easier to fear. China is a vast country of 1.3 billion people, governed by menacing authoritarians who are plowing money into its military complex and managing a stunning economic transformation; before long it will dominate Asia, and someday it will threaten America's place in the world. Or at least that is the argument of certain worried pundits these days.
For a striking counterargument – and some much-needed nuance – look no further than Bill Emmott's "Rivals." Mr. Emmott, a former editor of The Economist and a longtime Asia-watcher, acknowledges that China will continue its remarkable rise for years to come. But he thinks that a modernizing India and a resurgent Japan could end up jostling for Far East supremacy, too, pitting "Asians against Asians." A balance-of-power politics could evolve resembling Europe's in the 19th century.
How this transformation will unfold, and whether it will be entirely peaceful, is anyone's guess. But one thing is certain: All three of Asia's emerging giants are being forced to open up at speeds that none is quite comfortable with. China's Communist Party has freed a wide cross-section of its economy, bringing a new prosperity to much of the population. India is shedding its socialist shackles at whatever pace its vibrant, contentious democracy will allow. Japan's dominant political party, notoriously resistant to change, is still struggling to pull the country out of a decade-long economic nosedive; but the push for reform is becoming ever more urgent as Japan's population ages.
In "Rivals," Mr. Emmott mines the past for clues to the future. Start with China: Most analysts conclude that the 21st century will belong to China because the country's economy is now roaring ahead. But its growth rates aren't unprecedented. Like China today, Japan by the 1970s had reached a high investment-to-GDP ratio (roughly 40%) and enjoyed double-digit, export-led industrial growth. South Korea followed a similar path. By those measure, Mr. Emmott says, China's growth is "excellent, but not exceptional."
China also faces some bumps in the road, not least of which is rising inflation – a problem that Japan once also faced. Capital inflows are pushing up wages and expanding the monetary base, which is in turn inflating asset bubbles in stocks and property. Something has got to give. "The longer a change in economic policy and direction is delayed," Mr. Emmott writes, "the bigger the risk that mere adjustment turns into something more dramatic."
India's trajectory, meanwhile, most closely follows China's – at least at the moment. With the liberalizing of India's economy, its investment and savings have grown along with its standard of living. In 2006, India's exports of goods and services, as a percentage of GDP, had risen to a point that they were "roughly the same as China's in 1996," Mr. Emmott notes. The common view of India – as a land dominated by extremes of wealth and poverty – is simply out of date; in fact, India's income inequality is about the same as Britain's. The question now is whether the government will speed up India's growth by upgrading its shoddy infrastructure and liberalizing its energy industries so that domestic producers can make adequate returns and afford to increase output.
Japan's future is harder to forecast. The crash of the 1990s was bad, though hardly of Depression-like dimensions. That it was not worse, Mr. Emmott says, has a lot to do with Japan's free flow of trade and capital and its fiscal surplus. Oddly (for a writer long affiliated with the laissez-faire Economist magazine), Mr. Emmott praises the Japanese government for its Keynesian interventions in the 1990s. Huge spending programs, he claims, "helped prevent an economic drama from becoming a disaster." Perhaps. But they also prevented Japan from embracing low taxes and liberalizing its markets – surely a speedier means to growth and widespread prosperity.
Mr. Emmott notes that Japan, for all the exporting it does, isn't really a "globalized country." Its trade with the outside world, measured by imports plus exports as a percentage of GDP, is dwarfed by China's. And its level of English proficiency – now essential for global players – is low. If anything, Mr. Emmott says, "Japan needs to emulate America in the 1990s, when the 'new economy' " – that is, the Internet revolution – "brought a sharp and unexpected jump in U.S. productivity." Without doing something "dramatic" to kickstart growth, he argues, Japan's leaders will simply be "managing the country's relative decline," eclipsed by India and China.
Of course, the future of Asia's economies depends in part on the future of its regional politics. India has rocky relationships with its neighbors – and some of them, including Nepal, Pakistan and Burma, are led by unstable regimes. China, meanwhile, has border disputes with Bhutan and India, not to mention disputes over sovereignty with Tibet and Taiwan. Japan has only recently moved to mend ties with South Korea's new leadership. But a nuclear-armed North Korea remains the biggest menace. Mr. Emmott believes that, if "regime change" comes about in North Korea, it will be of the homegrown variety and not imposed from the outside. The result may be "a risky moment," as China, South Korea and factions within North Korea vie for power.
In economics and business, Mr. Emmott notes, competition generally has "overwhelmingly positive results." But "in politics, we cannot be so sure." To separate the two spheres so sharply, though, seems forced, at best. China's economic prosperity increasingly relies on its integration with its rivals and with the rest of the world – a trend that may someday change the way the country is governed, for the better. That is a future to welcome, not to fear.
Ms. Kissel is editor of The Wall Street Journal Asia's editorial page.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ
on: May 09, 2008, 12:28:55 PM
Pay Me to Go
Why is she still running? That's what Democrats are asking about Hillary Clinton in the wake of her disappointing performance in Tuesday's primaries.
One explanation is that something could always turn up once again to knock Mr. Obama off-stride, just as happened with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Mr. Obama's infamous "bitter" comments. Another possible reason is that she can't afford to leave the race. So far, Mrs. Clinton has loaned over $11 million of her own money into the campaign and still has substantial debts, including $4.5 million to her former chief strategist Mark Penn.
A little-known provision of the McCain-Feingold election law makes her exit a difficult question. If she hopes to get paid back for the money she lent her campaign, she can only accept repayment until the date of the Democratic convention in August. After that she can only accept a maximum of $250,000 from contributors.
"If she wants to be repaid, she'd have to move on that between now and the national convention," former Federal Election Commission chairman Michael Toner told U.S. News & World Report. The longer Mrs. Clinton stays in the race, the greater the chance she can still find some donors who have not already given her the maximum contribution allowed by law. Should she drop out, her chances of raising money from anyone effectively become zero.
There's also the chance of negotiating her exit from the race with Barack Obama, whose campaign is so flush with cash he doesn't know how to spend it all. Mr. Obama could offer to appear at fundraisers on her behalf to retire her campaign debt as well as suggest to his donors that they write a check to her campaign.
Perhaps the resolution of the endless Democratic primary struggle is close at hand. It may take only a few phone calls between the two camps for Mrs. Clinton to suddenly discover her long-suppressed desire for party unity.
-- John Fund
She Don't Need No Stinkin' Economists
Why didn't we think of that?
Campaigning in Indiana on Monday, Hillary Clinton proposed to fix the problem of high oil prices once and for all -- by breaking up OPEC. "We're going to go right at OPEC," she promised a crowd. "They can no longer be a cartel . . ."
Maybe she'll stop the tide from coming in next. Mrs. Clinton ignores a salient fact: OPEC isn't nearly as powerful as it sometimes pretends to be -- and as its critics like to declaim. We would never have seen $15 oil a decade ago. Five years ago, OPEC established a policy of maintaining the world price of oil in a $10 band around $25 a barrel. See how well that worked out.
But Mrs. Clinton's real innovation lies elsewhere -- in breaking with the tradition of politicians seeking validation for their economic nostrums from economic experts. Indeed, she dismissed the very idea of needing approval from the pointy-headed, saying, "I'm not going to put my lot in with economists." Mrs. Clinton was defending specifically her gas-tax holiday proposal, which virtually all economists judge to be worthless. But her handy "just say no" strategy when it comes to carping experts is something budding demagogues everywhere will want to note.
-- Brian M. Carney
Quote of the Day I
"There's only one remaining chapter in this fascinating spectacle. Negotiating the terms of Hillary's surrender. After which we will have six months of watching her enthusiastically stumping the country for Obama, denying with utter conviction Republican charges that he is the out of touch, latte-sipping elitist she warned Democrats against so urgently in the last, late leg of her doomed campaign" -- Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer.
Quote of the Day II
"We cannot win with eggheads and African Americans. That's the Dukakis coalition which carried ten states" -- former Bill Clinton campaign adviser Paul Begala, on CNN arguing that Barack Obama needs to win back the white working-class voters who rejected him for Hillary Clinton.
It's Morning in London
The most satisfying part of the news that London ousted Labour Party Mayor Ken Livingstone in favor of Conservative Boris Johnson is that the list of notables honored by the city will now change dramatically. Mayor Livingstone, known as "Red Ken" for his avowedly socialist beliefs, had announced plans to honor the 50th anniversary of Communist Cuba's revolution on January 1, 2009 with a week-long series of street parties and a celebration of Fidel Castro's life in Trafalgar Square. With the election of Mr. Johnson, a staunch anti-Communist, you can bet that party is heading for the dustbin of history.
The political earthquake that swept Mr. Johnson into office with 53% of the vote can be compared to the voter revolts of the 1990s that led New York and Los Angeles to elect Republican mayors. Mr. Johnson ran on a campaign of getting tougher on crime, withdrawing free transit rights from people who abuse them, and giving better value for the high taxes Londoners pay. He also called for peeling away the excesses of multiculturalism that had Mr. Livingstone simultaneously passing out grants to lesbian dance collectives while he defended a local Muslim cleric, Yusuf al-Quaradawi, who supported wife-beating and the execution of gays.
Mr. Johnson will now share with Tory leader David Cameron the spotlight as the two most prominent Conservative politicians in Britain. Should he govern London successfully, it will be a further blow to the Labour government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, which backed Mr. Livingstone to no avail and on the same night as Mr. Johnson won was badly beaten in local elections across Britain.
While it will be Mr. Cameron who will lead the Tories into battle in the next general election in 2010, observers have already noted that at age 44 the new mayor of London could have a prominent role in British politics for years to come -- perhaps even on the national stage someday.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: BO's faulty tax argument
on: May 09, 2008, 12:10:10 PM
The author fails to discuss BO's approach to capital gains taxes wherein he admits he would raise rates even though it would yield less revenues, but I post it anyway because I think his point about bracket creep a worthy one.
Obama's Faulty Tax Argument
By ANDREW G. BIGGS
May 9, 2008; Page A17
As the presidential campaign heats up, a key issue is whether to extend the 2001 and 2003 income tax cuts, which expire in 2011. John McCain wants to make the tax cuts permanent. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton want to let the rates rise.
Opponents of the tax cuts point to spending programs that could be financed by the extra revenues. Chief among these is Social Security. Sen. Obama's Web site, for example, argues that "extending the Bush tax cuts will cost three times as much as what is needed to fix Social Security's solvency over the next 75 years."
Such statements imply that if we return to the seemingly modest tax rates of the 1990s, we could fund the $4.3 trillion Social Security deficit, and so much more. As Mr. Obama recently told Fox News, "I would roll back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans back to the level they were under Bill Clinton, when I don't remember rich people feeling oppressed."
This argument seems compelling, but it is misguided. In reality, repealing the tax cuts would raise taxes far above Clinton-era levels. Due to quirks in the tax code, average taxes would be almost 25% higher than during the 1990s.
Mr. Obama's claim that the lost revenue from the income-tax cuts exceeds the Social Security shortfall derives from an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The Center's conclusions have been widely cited, but rely on dubious assumptions.
The basic methodology is simple: Compare the income-tax revenues if the tax cuts expire to revenues if the tax cuts are extended. The Center measures the difference in revenue 10 years from now – to match the government's 10-year budget measurement period – then extends the difference over 75 years to make it comparable to the 75-year Social Security shortfall.
To account for the effects of inflation and economic growth, analysts compare tax revenues to the size of the economy. The Congressional Budget Office projects that if the tax cuts expire, income-tax receipts in 2018 will be 1.5% higher relative to gross domestic product than if the cuts are made permanent. By comparison, Social Security's 75-year shortfall is just 0.6% of GDP.
So Social Security is a costly problem, but the tax cuts cost much more. Open and shut case, right?
Not exactly. Tax revenues would skyrocket if the tax cuts expire, due to "bracket creep." Average incomes are higher today than in the 1990s, but income-tax brackets aren't adjusted for the growth of earnings. As a result, Americans will shift into higher tax brackets and pay a greater share of their incomes in taxes.
Going back to the tax rates of the 1990s doesn't mean that households will pay 1990s taxes. Because the tax brackets haven't risen along with incomes, average taxes would be significantly higher, and grow each year.
If the tax cuts expire, income-tax revenues by 2018 will rise to 10.8% of the total economy from 8.7% today – an increase of 24%. Compared to the average over the last 50 years, allowing the rates to rise would increase tax revenues by 32%.
Believe it or not, income taxes will rise even if the tax cuts remain in place, because the revenue-increasing effects of bracket creep more than offset the lower rates. With the lower rates, total income-tax revenues will increase to 9.3% of GDP by 2018. This level is 7% higher than today, and 13% above the 1957-2007 average. Thus even with the tax cuts, revenues will increase by more than enough to fix Social Security.
So even if the tax cuts are made permanent, future Americans will pay a greater share of their incomes to the government than in the past. But for some in Washington, that's not enough.
Not surprisingly, neither party highlights these rising tax receipts. They undercut liberal arguments that the government is starved of revenue. And they render conservative claims for the tax cuts unimpressive. ("Vote GOP: A smaller tax increase than the other guys!")
The next president will face difficult choices regarding how much to collect in taxes, and how much to spend on entitlements like Social Security. Future citizens may decide that paying higher taxes is worthwhile. But in any event, the misleading tax cuts vs. Social Security argument should not guide policy makers on this issue.
Mr. Biggs, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., is the former principal deputy commissioner at the Social Security Administration.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Captive 220
on: May 09, 2008, 12:04:09 PM
May 9, 2008; Page A16
It's a fair bet that no high-powered American law firm will lend a caring hand to the relatives of the seven Iraqis murdered last month by a suicide bomber named Abdullah Salih Al Ajmi and two accomplices. That's too bad, seeing as how Ajmi was himself a beneficiary of some of that high-powered legal help.
Ajmi is a Kuwaiti who was 29 when he blew himself up in the northern city of Mosul in April. But before that he had spent more than three years as an enemy combatant at Guantanamo, where he was known as "Captive 220." He was taken prisoner at Tora Bora, Afghanistan, after the fall of the Taliban, in whose service he had reportedly spent eight months. While in detention, he told interrogators that his intention was "to kill as many Americans" as he possibly could.
In April 2002, a group of Kuwaiti families retained the law firm of Shearman & Sterling to represent the Kuwaitis held at Guantanamo, including Ajmi. (An attorney at Shearman tells us the firm donated its fees to charity.) Ajmi was one of 12 Kuwaiti petitioners in whose favor the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2004 in Rasul v. Bush, which held that the detainees were entitled to a habeas corpus hearing.
At the time, we wrote that Rasul had "opened the door to a flood of litigation. . . . This pretty much guarantees that the 600 or so Guantanamo detainees will bring 600 or so habeas corpus cases – perhaps in 600 or so different courtrooms, with 600 or so different judges demanding 600 or so different standards of what evidence constitutes a threat to the United States."
The Pentagon seems to have understood this point only too well, because in November 2005 it released Ajmi into Kuwaiti custody before he could have his hearing. A Kuwaiti court later acquitted Ajmi of terrorism charges, and last month the Kuwaiti government issued Ajmi and his accomplices with passports, which they used to travel to Mosul via Syria.
Ajmi's story is hardly unique. Some 500 detainees have been released from Guantanamo over the years, mostly into foreign custody. Another 65 of the remaining 270 detainees are also slated to go. Yet of all the prisoners released, the Pentagon is confident that only 38 pose no security threat. So much for the notion that the Gitmo detainees consist mostly of wrong-time, wrong-place innocents caught up in an American maw.
The Defense Intelligence Agency reported on May 1 that at least 36 former Guantanamo inmates have "returned to the fight." They include Maulavi Abdul Ghaffar, who was released after eight months in Gitmo and later became the Taliban's regional commander in Uruzgan and Helmand provinces. He was killed by Afghan security forces in September 2004.
Another former detainee, Abdullah Mahsud, was released from Guantanamo in March 2004. He later kidnapped two Chinese engineers in Pakistan (one of whom was shot during a rescue operation). In July 2007 he blew himself up as Pakistani police sought to apprehend him.
Ajmi's case now brings the DIA number to 37. It's worth noting that these are only the known cases. It is worth noting, too, that people like Ajmi were among those the Defense Department thought it would be relatively safe to free, or at least not worth the hassle and expense of the litigation brought about by cases like Rasul.
All this should give some pause to those – John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton among them – calling for closing Guantanamo. The prison is helping to save lives by keeping dangerous men from returning to the fight against our soldiers.
Stranger still are those who argue that people like Ajmi were somehow a creation of Guantanamo. They might want to have a chat with a detainee named Mohammed Ismail, who told the press after his release from Gitmo that his American captors "were very nice to me, giving me English lessons." Ismail was recaptured four months later while attacking an American military position in Kandahar.
Our liberal friends argue that the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay have hurt America's image in the world, and that's true. Then again, Ajmi and others show that there are also lethal consequences to the legal war that liberals are waging on the war on terror. Liberals claim they are only fighting for "due process," but they are doing so for foreign enemies who want to kill innocents and don't deserve such protections. Mosul is one result.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history
on: May 09, 2008, 12:01:38 PM
The Clinton Divorce
May 9, 2008; Page A16
No, we don't mean Bill and Hillary. We mean the separation now under way between the Clintons and the Democratic Party. Like all divorces after lengthy unions, this one is painful and has had its moments of reconciliation, but after Tuesday a split looks inevitable. The long co-dependency is over.
Truth be told, this was always a marriage more of convenience than love. The party's progressives never did like Bill Clinton's New Democrat ways, but after Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis they needed his epic political gifts to win back the White House. They hated him for their loss of Congress in 1994, but they tolerated Dick Morris and welfare reform to keep the presidency in 1996.
The price was that they had to put their ethics in a blind Clinton trust. Whitewater and the missing billing records, Webb Hubbell, cattle futures and "Red" Bone, the Lincoln Bedroom, Johnny Chung and the overseas fund-raising scandals, Paula Jones and lying under oath, Monica and the meaning of "is." Democrats, or all of them this side of Joe Lieberman and Pat Moynihan, defended the Clintons through it all. Everything was dismissed as a product of the "Republican attack machine," an invention of the "Clinton haters," or "just about sex."
Democrats and the media did make a fleeting attempt at liberation when Bill Clinton left office after 2000 amid the tawdry pardons. Barney Frank, the most fervent of the Clinton defenders throughout the 1990s, even called the pardons a "betrayal" and "contemptuous." More than a few Democrats also noticed that George W. Bush's main campaign theme in 2000 was restoring "dignity" and "honor" to the Oval Office, and that Al Gore had somehow lost despite two-thirds of voters saying the U.S. was moving in the right direction.
But Hillary Clinton had also won a Senate seat that year, and she had presidential ambitions of her own. So the trial separation was brief. Democrats acquiesced as the first couple put their own money man, Terry McAuliffe, in charge of the Democratic National Committee. As the Bush years rolled on and John Kerry lost, they watched Hillary build her machine and plot a Clinton restoration. They watched, too, as the New York Senator did her own triangulating on Iraq, first voting for it, then supporting it before turning against it as the election neared. Party regulars fell in line behind her, and her nomination was said to be "inevitable."
Then something astonishing happened. A new star emerged in Barack Obama, a man who had Bill Clinton's political talent but Hillary's liberal convictions. He had charisma, a flair for raising money, and he held out the chance of a 2008 Democratic landslide. Something more than a return to the trench warfare of the 1990s seemed possible – perhaps the revival of a liberal majority, circa 1965.
More remarkable still, Democrats supporting Mr. Obama had a revelation about Clintonian mores. David Geffen, channeling William Safire, declared that "everybody in politics lies," but the Clintons "do it with such ease, it's troubling." Ted Kennedy was shocked to see the Clintons play the race card in South Carolina. The media discovered their secrecy over tax records and Clinton Foundation donors, while columnists were appalled to hear her assail Mr. Obama for his associations with radical bomber William Ayers. Listen closely and you could almost hear Bob Dole asking, "Where's the outrage?"
By the time Mrs. Clinton made her famous claim about dodging Bosnian sniper fire, Democrats and their media friends no longer called it a mere gaffe, as they once might have. This time the remark was said to be emblematic of her entire political career. The same folks who had believed her about Whitewater and the rest now claimed she never tells the truth about anything.
As the scales suddenly fell from liberal eyes, the most striking statistic was the one in this week's North Carolina exit poll. Asked if they considered Mrs. Clinton "honest and trustworthy," no fewer than 50% of Democratic primary voters said she was not. In Indiana, the figure was merely 45%.
Slowly but surely, these Prisoners of Bill and Hill are now walking away, urging Mrs. Clinton to leave the race. Chuck Schumer damns her with faint support by saying any decision is up to her. Columnists from the New York Times, which endorsed her when she looked inevitable, now demand that she exit so as not to help John McCain. With Mr. Obama to ride, they no longer need the Arkansas interlopers.
If the Clintons play to their historic form, they will ignore all this for as long as they can. They will fight on, hoping that something else turns up about Mr. Obama before the convention. Or they'll try to play the Michigan and Florida cards. Or they'll unleash Harold Ickes on the superdelegates and suggest that if Mr. Obama loses in November she'll be back in 2012 and her revenge will be, well, Clintonian.
The difference between now and the 1990s, however, is that this time the Clinton foes aren't the "vast right-wing conspiracy." This time the conspirators are fellow Democrats. It took 10 years, but you might say Democrats have finally voted to impeach.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Noonan
on: May 09, 2008, 11:58:29 AM
Damsel of Distress
May 9, 2008
This is an amazing story. The Democratic Party has a winner. It has a nominee. You know this because he has the most votes and the most elected delegates, and there's no way, mathematically, his opponent can get past him. Even after the worst two weeks of his campaign, he blew past her by 14 in North Carolina and came within two in Indiana.
He's got this thing. And the Democratic Party, after this long and brutal slog, should be dancing in the streets. Party elders should be coming out on the balcony in full array, in full regalia, and telling the crowd, "Habemus nominatum": "We have a nominee." And the crowd below should be cheering, "Viva Obamus! Viva nominatum!"
Instead, you know where they are, the party elders. They are in a Democratic club on Capitol Hill, slump-shouldered at the bar, having a drink and then two, in a state of what might be called depressed horror. "What are they doing to the party?" they wail. "Why are they doing this?"
You know who they are talking about.
The Democratic Party can't celebrate the triumph of Barack Obama because the Democratic Party is busy having a breakdown. You could call it a breakdown over the issues of race and gender, but its real source is simply Hillary Clinton. Whose entire campaign at this point is about exploiting race and gender.
Here's the first place an outsider could see the tensions that have taken hold: on CNN Tuesday night, in the famous Brazile-Begala smackdown. Paul Begala wore the smile of the 1990s, the one in which there is no connection between the shape of the mouth and what the mouth says. All is mask. Donna Brazile was having none of it.
Mr. Begala more or less accused the Obama people of not caring about white voters: "[If] there's a new Democratic Party that somehow doesn't need or want white working-class people and Latinos, well, count me out." And: "We cannot win with eggheads and African Americans." That, he said, was the old, losing, Dukakis coalition.
"Paul, baby," Ms. Brazile, who is undeclared, began her response, "we need to not divide and polarize the Democratic Party. . . . So stop the divisions. Stop trying to split us into these groups, Paul, because you and I know . . . how Democrats win, and to simply suggest that Hillary's coalition is better than Obama's, Obama's is better than Hillary's -- no. We have a big party, Paul." And: "Just don't divide me and tell me I cannot stand in Hillary's camp because I'm black, and I can't stand in Obama's camp because I'm female. Because I'm both. . . . Don't start with me, baby." Finally: "It's our party, Paul. Don't say my party. It's our party. Because it's time that we bring the party back together, Paul."
In case you didn't get what was behind that exchange, Mrs. Clinton spent this week making it clear. In a jaw-dropping interview in USA Today on Thursday, she said, "I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on." As evidence she cited an Associated Press report that, she said, "found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."
White Americans? Hard-working white Americans? "Even Richard Nixon didn't say white," an Obama supporter said, "even with the Southern strategy."
If John McCain said, "I got the white vote, baby!" his candidacy would be over. And rising in highest indignation against him would be the old Democratic Party.
To play the race card as Mrs. Clinton has, to highlight and encourage a sense that we are crudely divided as a nation, to make your argument a brute and cynical "the black guy can't win but the white girl can" is -- well, so vulgar, so cynical, so cold, that once again a Clinton is making us turn off the television in case the children walk by.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / DSC Awarded
on: May 09, 2008, 11:30:11 AM
Bragg Soldier Awarded DSC
May 01, 2008
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - A Special Forces Soldier who crawled 200 feet while being fired upon to save a wounded colleague, then led a group of besieged Soldiers to safety, received the Army's second-highest award for valor April 30. Master Sgt. Brendan O'Connor received the Distinguished Service Cross in a ceremony April 30 at Fort Bragg for his actions in Afghanistan. The award is second in achievement only to the Medal of Honor.
"He made a conscious decision to do whatever it took to get to our wounded Soldiers," said Maj. Sheffield Ford, the team's commander during the June 2006 battle in southern Afghanistan.
O'Connor, 47, doesn't believe he is a hero. He said that police officers and firefighters are courageous every day and that he was only completing his mission.
"I am being recognized for a moment of courage," said O'Connor, whose wife and four children attended the ceremony. "I firmly believe other Soldiers in my place would have done the same thing."
With his Special Forces team surrounded by Taliban fighters, O'Connor volunteered to lead a relief force to rescue two wounded colleagues. He got to the edge of a field, but intense Taliban machine-gun fire made him turn back. After shedding his body armor so he could press himself flat in a ditch, he crawled the last 200 feet to the wounded Soldiers. Taliban fire was so close that it sheared off the blades of tall grass around the ditch as he crawled. Finally reaching the two wounded Soldiers, he stabilized them and led the relief force back to safety.
Admiral Eric T. Olson, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, and Lt. Gen. Robert W. Wagner, commanding general of the Army Special Operations Command, presented the award to O'Connor.
Olson, who recounted the battle in his speech, described O'Connor's actions as legendary.
"Master Sgt. O'Connor exemplifies the spirit and ethos of these warriors," Olson said. "We stand in quiet awe and in the deepest admiration."
The ceremony marked only the second time the award has been presented to a Soldier for actions in Afghanistan.
O'Connor is assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group. The unit is based at Fort Bragg, home to the Army's Special Operations Command and the 82nd Airborne Division.
© Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World
on: May 09, 2008, 11:26:38 AM
I had a fair amount of inner chatter over which thread in which to post this. If it is PC (and a pretty fair case can be made that it is), then it belongs in the PC thread. That said, the claim is made that this will facilitate effective communication with the Muslim world (and hinder it here amongst us Infidels) so I post it here:
U.S. aims to unlink Islamic, terrorism
UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL
May 7, 2008
U.S. officials are being advised in internal government documents to avoid referring publicly to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups as Islamic or Muslim, and not to use terms like jihad or mujahedeen, which "unintentionally legitimize" terrorism.
"There' s a growing consensus [in the Bush administration] that we need to move away from that language," said a former senior administration official who was involved until recently in policy debates on the issue.
Instead, in two documents circulated last month by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), the multiagency center charged with strategic coordination of the U.S. war on terror, officials are urged to use terms such as violent extremists, totalitarian and death cult to characterize al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
"Avoid labeling everything 'Muslim.' It reinforces the 'U.S. vs. Islam' framework that al Qaeda promotes," according to "Words that Work and Words that Don't: A Guide for Counter-Terrorism Communication," produced last month by the center.
"You have a large percentage of the world' s population that subscribes to this religion," the former official said. "Unintentionally alienating them is not a judicious move."
The documents, first reported by the Associated Press, were posted online last week by the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
They highlight developments in the Bush administration' s strategy for its war on terror that have been fiercely criticized by some who have been its closest allies on the issue, and apparently are being ignored by the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
Some commentators noted after President Bush' s State of the Union speech in January that Mr. McCain had stopped using the term Islamic terrorism, instead referring — as the NCTC guide recommends — to "terrorists and extremists — evil men who despise freedom, despise America, and aim to subject millions to their violent rule."
But in a recent interview with The Washington Times, a McCain aide said the senator would continue to use the term Islamic terrorism.
Daniel Sutherland, who runs the Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, insisted that the avoidance of the term Islam in conjunction with terrorism "is in no way an exercise in political correctness. ... We are not watering down what we say."
"There are some terms which al Qaeda wants us to use because they are helpful to them," he said.
The "Words That Work" guide notes, "Although the al Qaeda network exploits religious sentiments and tries to use religion to justify its actions, we should treat it as an illegitimate political organization, both terrorist and criminal."
Instead of calling terrorist groups Muslim or Islamic, the guide suggests using words like totalitarian, terrorist or violent extremist — "widely understood terms that define our enemies appropriately and simultaneously deny them any level of legitimacy."
By employing the language the extremists use about themselves, the guide says, officials can inadvertently help legitimize them in the eyes of Muslims.
"Never use the terms 'jihadist' or 'mujahedeen' ... to describe the terrorists," the guide says. "A mujahed, a holy warrior, is a positive characterization in the context of a just war.
In Arabic, jihad means 'striving in the path of God' and is used in many contexts beyond warfare. Calling our enemies jihadis and their movement a global jihad unintentionally legitimizes their actions."
A longer document produced by Mr. Sutherland' s office and also circulated by the NCTC compiles advice from Islamic community leaders and religious professionals in the United States about terminology officials should use and avoid.
"Terminology to Define the Terrorists: Recommendations from American Muslims," says officials should use "terms such as 'death cult,' 'cult-like,' 'sectarian cult,' and 'violent cultists' to describe the ideology and methodology of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups."
It also recommends eschewing the terms Islamist or Islamism — the advocacy of a political system based on Islam — "because the general public, including overseas audiences, may not appreciate the academic distinction between Islamism and Islam."
The use of the term may be accurate, the document says, but "it may not be strategic for [U.S. government] officials to use the term."http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/...725367235/1001
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / J. Adams: Moral example for children
on: May 09, 2008, 11:10:24 AM
"The foundation of national morality must be laid in private
families. . . . How is it possible that Children can have any
just Sense of the sacred Obligations of Morality or Religion if,
from their earliest Infancy, they learn their Mothers live in
habitual Infidelity to their fathers, and their fathers in as
constant Infidelity to their Mothers?"
-- John Adams (Diary, 2 June 1778)
Reference: The Works of John Adams, C.F. Adams, ed., vol. 3 (171)
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe
on: May 08, 2008, 10:18:08 PM
German Court Rules Muslim Girl Can't Skip Swimming Lessons
Thursday , May 08, 2008
A German court on Wednesday ruled that a Muslim student cannot skip co-ed swimming lessons because her religion prohibits form-fitting clothes that do not cover her body, The Local reported.
The 12-year-old girl’s parents sued a school in the northern city of Remscheid after it refused to let the girl skip the lessons. The court sided with the school, saying that the state’s responsibility to educate the girl outweighed an infringement on her religious freedom.
Last year the girl’s parents rejected an offer from the school saying she could swim in leggings and a T-shirt. They argued that her body still would be visible through wet clothes, The Local reported.
The court concluded that because the swim lessons take place in water, there would be very little time that her body would be seen.
The parents’ attorney said the family will appeal the decision.
Click here to read more on this story from The Local.
German Court Rules Christian Girl Can't Skip Sharia Law Thursdays
Thursday , May 08, 2012
A German court on Wednesday ruled that a Christian student cannot skip Sharia Law Thursdays where all of the female students must dress in Burkas and pray towards Mecco 5 times a day in an effort to teach all non-muslim children religious diversity and tolerance, despite the fact her religion prohitbs worshipping false gods, The Local reported.
The 12-year-old girl’s parents sued a school in the northern city of Remscheid after it refused to let the girl skip the lessons. The court sided with the school, saying that the state’s responsibility to educate the girl outweighed an infringement on her religious freedom.
Muslim students, of course, still do not have to learn about Christianity or Judaism, because those religions are offensive to muslims, and they could burn in Allah's Fires if they should emulate Infidels.
(Requesting URL on this one)
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters
on: May 08, 2008, 10:11:40 PM
May 8, 2008
Acting Head of Mexico’s Police Killed
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 3:31 p.m. ET
MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Mexico's acting federal police chief was shot dead Thursday outside his home -- a brazen attack that comes as drug traffickers increasingly lash back at a nationwide crackdown on organized crime.
Edgar Millan Gomez was shot 10 times after he opened the door to his Mexico City apartment complex, where at least one gunman was waiting for him before dawn, the Public Safety Department said. Two bodyguards were also wounded. Millan died hours later in a hospital.
President Felipe Calderon's government said Millan played a vital role in the country's battle against organized crime and denounced ''this cowardly killing of an exemplary official.'' Millan, 41, was named acting chief of the federal police March 1 after his superior was promoted to a deputy Cabinet position, said a police official who was not authorized to give his name. The official said police were investigating and had not yet determined a motive for the pre-dawn attack. One suspect with a record of car theft was arrested.
Mexico has suffered a wave of organized crime and drug-related violence in which more than 2,500 people died last year alone. Since taking office in 2006, Calderon has sent more than 24,000 soldiers to drug hotspots, and Millan was in charge of coordinating operations between the federal police and those troops.
Cartels have responded fiercely to the nationwide offensive, killing soldiers and federal police in unprecedented attacks. But until recently, most of those killings took place in northern Mexico where drug gangs rule large areas of territory. Now criminals appear to be getting more brash with daring slayings in the capital.
George Grayson, a Mexico expert at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, said Millan's death ''shows the increasing audacity of the cartels.''
''This happened in Mexico City where people like Millan tend to be quite cautious, often sleeping in different houses on different nights, and who have their own security patrols,'' he said. ''When you can get someone like this, no one is safe.''
Millan was the second top federal police official killed in less than a week in Mexico City. A Mexican federal police intelligence analyst was killed on May 2 in an apparent armed robbery attempt outside his home.
In January, police in Mexico City arrested three men with assault rifles and grenade launchers who were allegedly planning to assassinate Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, a top prosecutor who oversees the extradition of drug traffickers.
Millan was involved in solving a number of high-profiling kidnappings. In 2000, he helped capture one of Mexico's most feared kidnappers, Andres Caletri, and disband two notorious abduction rings. In 2001, he was named head of anti-kidnapping operations for the Federal Agency of Investigation, Mexico's version of the FBI. Under his direction, agents captured five suspects involved in the abduction of Ruben Omar Romano, the coach of Mexico's Cruz Azul soccer team in 2005.http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/worl...Killed.html?hp
Top policeman shot dead in Mexico
A senior Mexican police official has been gunned down in the capital, Mexico City, officials have said.
Edgar Millan Gomez was in charge of co-ordinating national police operations against drugs traffickers.
He was shot nine times outside his home early on Thursday and died later in hospital, officials said. Two of his bodyguards were wounded in the attack.
Police are investigating if the attack was drug-related. Several top policemen have been killed in the past week.
Police said a group of gunmen had attacked Mr Millan.
"They were hunting him," a spokesman for the security ministry told Reuters news agency.
Police have arrested a 34-year-old man in connection with the attack.
Lucrative trafficking routes
Mexico has seen a surge in drug-related killings recently. Last year, 2,500 people were killed; so far this year, 1,100 people have been killed.
Two other senior police officers were killed in Mexico City in separate incidents last week.
And earlier this week, a senior officer in Ciudad Juarez - across the border from the United States - was ambushed as he left police headquarters.
President Felipe Calderon has sent nearly 30,000 soldiers and federal police to fight Mexico's powerful drug cartels since he took office in 2006.
The drugs cartels have fought back by attacking security forces. They are also fighting with each other to control lucrative trafficking routes.
Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/7391128.stm
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ
on: May 08, 2008, 01:02:09 PM
How Obama Won the Cable TV Primary
Broadcasters on cable TV shows used to pride themselves on their efforts to be objective or at least not overt in their biases. But much has changed as the cable TV news universe has been morphed into a fierce competition with the emergence of ratings leader Fox News, which clearly appeals to a conservative-leaning audience. CNN, the old ratings favorite, still leans left but has made efforts at balance. MSNBC, on the other hand, seems to be seeking out more and more liberal-minded viewers.
But not all liberals are created equal, which has resulted in frequent complaints from Hillary Clinton supporters that the network is biased against her in the current primary fights. Last night, Hardball host Chris Matthews added fuel to that fire when he appeared for a speech at Harvard's Institute of Politics.
According to attendees, Mr. Matthews heaped praise upon Mr. Obama during his talk. So much so that during the Q&A, he was asked by an audience member if MSNBC officially backed the Illinois Senator. "Well, it's not official," Mr. Matthews replied in a burst of candor. He then launched into a rambling answer that appeared aimed at partially retracting his admission and ended with the assertion that all of his bosses at MSNBC had backed the Iraq war.
But MSNBC does not have much of a defense. During Tuesday night's primary coverage, the pro-Obama spin was so obvious that the political tipsheet Hotline joked that MSNBC's enthusiasm level for the Obama campaign registered somewhere between Richard Simmons and the "American Idol" girl who cried over Sanjaya.
The storyline of the 2008 election has been dramatically influenced by the favoritism shown Mr. Obama in certain media circles. John Harris, editor of Politico.com, has said he was forced to put certain reporters sent to cover Mr. Obama through a rehab program after they returned to the office. Back in January, NBC News anchor Brian Williams noted that Lee Cowan, the reporter NBC had sent to cover Mr. Obama, had told him that "it is hard to stay objective covering this guy."
Some media reevaluations of Mr. Obama are now taking place, fueled in part by revelations such as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright that are hard to ignore. But the simple truth is that Mr. Obama has had a free media ride for so long that he effectively wrapped up the Democratic nomination before any of his political weaknesses were generally known.
As Hillary Clinton wrestles with a way to continue her underdog fight against Mr. Obama, she is said to be seething about the kid-glove coverage he was accorded for so long. What she forgets is that back in 1992, when Bill Clinton and she were the new kids on the political block, they too benefited from glowing coverage that pushed off close analysis of their many problems until after 1992 election was over.
-- John Fund
Continuing the Jones Act
The Jones family has represented a Congressional district in North Carolina for 40 out of the last 42 years, with Democrat Walter Jones Sr. leaving office in 1992 and his son Walter Jr. taking over two years later -- though, in a twist, this younger Jones was elected as a Republican.
And a rare kind of Republican too. In recent years, he has aligned himself with the Ron Paul school of Republicanism, and voted against many Bush administration foreign policy priorities. An original supporter of the Iraq war, the younger Mr. Jones started voting against the war in 2005 and had warm words for Mr. Paul during the latter's presidential bid.
That brought him a vigorous challenge in Tuesday's GOP primary from Joe McLaughlin, a conservative local official who said Mr. Jones was consorting with the far left and undermining U.S. troops who are stationed in the strongly pro-military district. The race "is not even about Walter Jones. It's about the future of the Republican Party in the 3rd District. And if he wins, it's virtually the end of the party," Mr. McLaughlin claimed.
But beating an incumbent is always an uphill struggle, and Rep. Jones was able to outspend his challenger some five to one. In the end, Mr. McLaughlin's apocalyptic warnings did not resonate with district voters who had known the Jones family for decades. The congressman won 60% of the vote on Tuesday.
No doubt his victory does not mean his constituents share his anti-war views. But it does mean that if a congressman has built up enough credibility on other issues, voters will often forgive him for going against them so long as it appears to them to be a principled stand.
-- John Fund
Quote of the Day I
"There are various exit strategies right now. Number one would be, go out on a win. So, stay in until West Virginia, where Sen. Clinton is likely the winner, and Kentucky on May 20, and after that, bow out.... But the big one, Charlie -- and this is what some people close to the Clintons are talking about: Is there a way to negotiate a settlement with Barack Obama to have Sen. Clinton on the ticket...? Can he get over the bitterness of this campaign? Can he be convinced that it's the strongest ticket? Third, of course, would Sen. Clinton take it? I think if it was offered in the right way, yes" -- ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, last night reporting that Hillary Clinton is angling for the No. 2 spot on an Obama ticket.
Quote of the Day II
"Most of all, [Hillary Clinton] was too late in understanding how much the Democratic Party's mania for 'fairness,' as mandated by liberals like her, has, by forbidding winner-take-all primaries, made it nearly impossible for her to overcome Obama's early lead in delegates.... If even, say, Texas, California and Ohio were permitted to have winner-take-all primaries (as 48 states have winner-take-all allocation of their electoral votes), Clinton would have been more than 400 delegates ahead of Obama before Tuesday and today would be at her ancestral home in New York planning to return some of its furniture to the White House next January" -- syndicated columnist George F. Will.
Healing the Breach with Hispanics
The fast-growing Hispanic population in America has also proved a growing political problem for the Republican Party. The GOP's share of the Hispanic vote plummeted after the last Republican Congress's angry debate on immigration reform. That episode, which quickly focused on fence-building and deportations, created a portion of the electorate that now holds the Republican Party in increasing contempt.
Exit polls from the 2004 election show Hispanic voters favored Democratic candidates in Congressional elections by 55%-44% margin. Two years later, that margin more than doubled, with Hispanics favoring Democratic candidates by 62%-37%. In some states, several enforcement-only hardliners lost what had been Republican districts to more moderate Democratic challengers. In Arizona alone, Rep. J.D. Hayworth lost his seat to Democrat Harry Mitchell, while State Senator Gabrielle Giffords, also a Democrat, won an open seat previously held by a senior Republican when she beat an anti-illegal immigration activist.
This year, GOP strategists have warned that their party is in danger of categorically ruling out competing among Hispanic voters for perhaps a generation to come.
At least one state Republican Party is trying to engage Hispanic voters before it's too late. This weekend, the Florida GOP will host a Hispanic Leadership Council Conference featuring keynote addresses from Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Rep. Luis Fortuno of Puerto Rico, and home-state Senator Mel Martinez -- three of the leading Hispanic voices in the party today.
"The Hispanic vote and the African American vote is the future of the Republican Party," Florida party chair Jim Greer says (Mr. Greer held a similar event aimed at African American voters late last year). To get the groups involved, he adds: "We ensure that they have a seat at the table, and wherever [the Republican Party has] failed in the past, we correct that."
It is a help to the GOP that John McCain is the party's standard-bearer in this year's presidential contest. Mr. McCain is far more moderate on immigration issues than most of his primary rivals were, several of whom proposed steps just short of outright deportation of undocumented aliens. And while Mr. McCain has recently backed off his support for a comprehensive approach that would include a guest-worker program, telling conservative voters in his own base that he understands their concerns about rewarding illegal behavior, his legislative and political record could prove more appealing to Hispanic voters, or at least less damaging to the party's chances with those voters, than anything his erstwhile rivals could have offered.
If Mr. Greer's efforts to woo Hispanic voters works (and he says the Hispanic constituency is "critically important" to a successful GOP presidential campaign in Florida), the idea could be exported to other states in time for Congressional elections in 2010. But if others choose the route of ex-Rep. Hayworth and the immigration hardliners, the damage to party's reputation with Hispanic voters could be severe and long lasting.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michael Yon
on: May 08, 2008, 11:31:03 AM
Some folks have asked if I plan to do book signings in stores. None are planned because I need to take care of business here before heading back to the war, but I have been making dozens of media appearances and many more are scheduled this month. The big issue at hand is the launch of my book Moment of Truth in Iraq. Doesn't do any good to spend all that time on the battlefields if I do not take time to convey the facts to folks at home.
I'll try to sign one more gigantic stack of Moment of Truth before heading back to the war, but for those folks who were buying signed copies for Christmas presents, now is the best time as we still have about a thousand signed copies.
Amazon.com is fully stocked and has the lowest current price--$17.97 as I type this.
Moment of Truth is available at all Barnes & Noble stores and at BN.com at a reduced price. Please click the link and enter your zip code to check availability of Moment of Truth in Iraq at nearby stores. This function maps nearby stores with copies in stock.
Great to be back in America but sure comes with a lot of work before heading back to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Next time you see a service member in an airport, please say "thank you" to him or her. Those simple words go a long, long way. Back in the war, I often have heard combat soldiers saying how good it made them feel when someone in an airport simply said "thank you" and kept on walking. Very powerful words. They hugely appreciate those words.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Wilson: Law and Liberty
on: May 08, 2008, 10:33:54 AM
"Without liberty, law loses its nature and its name, and becomes
oppression. Without law, liberty also loses its nature and its
name, and becomes licentiousness."
-- James Wilson (Of the Study of the Law in the United States,
Reference: The Works of James Wilson, Andrews, ed., vol. 1 (7)
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Case Study: knifing victim testimony
on: May 08, 2008, 08:20:49 AM
I mean, I didn't know it at the time, but I had my guts hanging out of my stomach, my temple was slashed.
I was basically fighting for my life, and I was just in that fighting mode, I remember jumping into his car and kneeing him in his face.
That's when my friend said, Mike, stop; you've been stabbed, and I looked up in my stomach and --
Q Explain to us, how is it that after this clash, you ended up in the front seat of this vehicle?
A I can't tell you how I got in his vehicle. I don't remember that. I really don't. All I remember is that I was in that fighting mode.
No law, nothing was in my head that was -- you know what I mean. At that point, I was in a fighting mode. Some one has got to stop me at that point.
Q But you do remember going towards the driver's side of the vehicle driven by this male and going towards that door?
A Yes, yes.
Q Did you enter the vehicle?
A I didn't enter it. I didn't -- like, I reached in there and grabbed his head.
Q You did?
Well, explain to us, to the best of your recollection, how is it that this male that was driving this vehicle proceeded from between the two of your vehicles towards the front door of his vehicle?
A I can't tell you that. I don't know.
Q Did you see him do that?
A See him do what; go to his car?
Q Go to his car after the clash.
A I mean, I couldn't give you an honest answer. I don't remember. I mean, I do remember, somehow, he had his legs out of the car; and I do remember going there and grabbing his head and kneeing his face, and I remember that's what ended the fight.
That's when my friend said, Mike, stop fighting. You're hurt. Because I didn't feel any of that.
Q Any other reason in your mind why you went towards the front door of his vehicle?
A Like I said, I was in fight mode. I wasn't thinking clearly. That's the only explanation I have.
I mean, I was bleeding to death.
I wasn't in my right -- if I could do it all over again, I wouldn't have followed him. I would have pulled over and let him go, but you know, that's not what happened.
I didn't do everything text book right, but like I said, it was just instincts. I couldn't help it.
Q So, you're guts were hanging out of your stomach; were you intestines actually hanging out of your stomach?
A Yes. My friend was holding in my stomach for me.
Q Who was?
A My friend in the car was holding in my stomach for me so they wouldn't lay on the car seat.
Q Before this clash took place between these two vehicles, did you make any gestures towards the vehicle driven by the male?
A Before anything happened?
Q Before, you testified there was a clash, and a clash occurred between he vehicle driven by the male and the vehicle driven by your wife.
Q That was the first physical contact.
Q Before that occurred that evening on that day, did you make any gestures towards the vehicle that was driven by this male?
A No, sir. If I did, I might have a reason -- I might understand why it was he swerved. That's why I can't understand what the point of that swerve was.
As soon as I looked over at him, he swerved. I can't understand what caused him to do that.
Q Did anybody in you vehicle make any gestures towards the male before the clash occurred?
A Not that I'm aware of. I didn't see any.
THE COURT: When you say clash, you're talking about the vehicle swerving behavior, and not the person's clashing?
MR. TELUK: I'm referring to the actual clash between the male and Mr. Daniel. That's the clash I'm referring to.
THE COURT: Okay. I'm going to ask you to rephrase the question, please.
MR. TELUK: I'll rephrase the question.
BY MR. TELUK:
Q That evening, that day, did you or anybody inside your vehicle, make any gestures towards the vehicle that was driven by that male?
A Not that I saw, no.
Q Before that clash occurred between yourself and the male in that vehicle, did you say anything, or did anybody in you vehicle say anything to anybody in the vehicle that was driven by the male?
A No, there was no words.
Q You testified that you pretty much lost it that evening?
A After I had my temple cut and my guts cut out of my stomach, yeah; I lost it. I didn't necessarily know that that was happening, but there was something inside of me.
Apparently, that was it, because I've never felt like that in my life.
Q Well, did you lose it before this clash occurred?
A No, not like I did when I got cut.
Q So, you do admit you lost it before the clashing occurred?
A No, that's not what I just said.
Q Well, how would you characterize your statement that you believe you lost it before this clash occurred?
A Say that again, please.
Q You testified on direct examination that you pretty much lost it that evening or that night.
That was your testimony; right?
A Not -- that's not what caused me to get out of the car.
Q Well, listen to the question, please.
You testified on direct examination that that evening or that night, you pretty much lost it.
That's what you said; correct?
A At a certain point in time, yeah.
Q You said that?
Q I'm asking you, what did you mean by that statement?
A By losing it?
A I mean, just going off. I mean, I had blood coming out of my head.
MS. ASHWORTH: Your Honor, I'm going to object at this point as asked and answered.
If he wants to put it into context when that statement was made, then maybe the witness can clarify it, but without any other information, I think he's testified over and over again what he meant and what happened to the best of his recollection.
MR. TELUK: I'm going to rephrase the question.
THE COURT: I'm going to overrule the objection. I think you're going to follow that question to try to elicit further information. Go ahead.
BY MR. TELUK:
Q Besides what you testified up to this point in time, you testified that that evening, you pretty much lost it.
A I don't know what you mean by that evening. I mean, I told you I lost it after I got stabbed eight times.
Q Was that when you lost it?
A Yeah. When I kneed him in his face, I lost it. I shouldn't have done that.
Q You shouldn't have done what?
A I shouldn't have followed him in his car and kneed him in his face. That's what I meant by losing it.
A I could have got back in my car and went to the hospital.
Q And from the time this vehicle driven by this male swerved into the vehicle that had been driven by your wife, you were consistently angry; correct?
A Yeah, I was very angry. I didn't lose it. I was angry. I wanted to see him get arrested.
Q You wanted to do him some harm that day; correct, before the clash occurred?
A Yeah, I wanted to see him get put back behind a cop car.
Q You wanted to fight with him before the clash occurred; isn't that true?
A A fist fight?
A I didn't want to fight. If I could have sat there and called the police and had the police come -- my -- it was stupid to do that.
It was stupid to follow him and try to act like a cop myself to help a cop get him. That was dumb, but that's what I did.
I had no intention of stopping and getting out. I got put with a split second decision and I made my decision.
Q And you started the fight; yes or no?
A No, I didn't start the fight.
Q Did this male in the vehicle start the fight?
A I would say so.
Q Tell us why you believe he started the fight.
A Well, he came up beside my car full of my family and swerved me off the road for no reason.
I think that's enough to start a fight, wouldn't you?
Q Any other reason?
A Getting out of his car and making threatening gestures to my car. That'd be a reason.
Q What threatening gestures did he make?
A Swinging his door open and getting out like he's going to fight. I've got my three year old daughter. I have no idea what this guy's going to do.
Q Any other threatening gestures?
MR. TELUK: I have no further questions.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Case Study: knifing victim testimony
on: May 08, 2008, 08:20:04 AM
BY MS. ASHWORTH:
Q What happened next?
A All I can remember was him getting out of the car. My emotions were running so high, because my adrenaline was pumping. You know, I've got my daughter in the back seat.
I seen him get out of his car, and that was it. I didn't think about nothing else. I got out. I wanted to protect my family, because this guy is crazy. He swerved at us like that for no reason.
Q How do you describe how this person got out the car?
A He just, basically, ripped his door off it's hinges getting out. You know, I just saw the door fling open.
Q Was that on the driver's side or the passenger's?
Q Do you remember what the person looked like that got out of the car?
A Not at all.
Q Not at all?
Q So, you can't identify the person as being here in the courtroom?
A No, I really can't.
Q So, you saw, what you said, the door fly off the hinges --
A I'm just saying he pushed it open real hard like he was getting out to fight.
Q Where was the driver of that car when you got out of your car?
A The driver of his car?
He was the driver.
Q Right; where was he when you decided to get out of your car?
A Coming towards my car.
Q But where?
Between his driver's side and where you met him --
A I mean, as soon as I seen him get out and approach my car, I got out. So, he didn't even make it past his car yet.
Q And you got out of the passenger side of your car?
Q What happened next?
A It was just a clash. No words, it was a clash.
Q Do you remember what happened?
Can you tell the Court what happened?
A All I remember is just -- I mean, I can't remember exactly what happened. I remember we clashed and just started fighting.
I had no idea, I mean, nothing was going on. I thought it was just a fist fight, and when my friends realized that all that blood was coming from me, they decided it was time to get out and help me out, and --
Q Did you see any weapon?
A I never saw it. Never.
Q Did you notice any blood?
A On my head. I figured it was a grazing punch. I never thought it was a knife.
Where in relation to the cars did this fight take place?
A I'm not exactly sure, but if I had to make a guess, I'd say in the middle somewhere.
What did you do after that?
A After what?
Q After this fight.
Did you get back in your car, or did you --
A Well, that's when Justin was like, Mike, stop fighting; because I, I mean, I pretty much lost it.
He said look at your stomach, and I pulled my shirt up an my guts were hanging out of my stomach, and that's when I realized I needed to go to the hospital.
I ran back to my car, and Justin flew back there, somehow, and we rushed to the hospital.
Q What injuries did you sustain as a result of this fight?
A I got stabbed and lacerated eight times. I got stabbed in the triceps, I got slashed in my temple, I got my guts cut out of my stomach, I got poked in the chest, poked in the back, slashed in my right arm.
Q What treatment did you receive at the hospital?
A What do you mean by that?
Q What treatment, what did they do to you, and what hospital did you go to?
A The first one I went to was Potomac Hospital.
What happened there?
A It was kind of a blur at that point because I was losing so much blood.
All I remember was walking into the hospital with blood everywhere, and they threw me on a table, stripped my clothes off, there was like, eight doctors around me, and that was it. I blacked out.
Q Where did you wake up?
A I woke up in ICU in Fairfax.
Q How long were you in the intensive care unit?
A Without knowing exactly, I'd say two or three days.
Q Do you have scars as a result of this fight?
A Very bad scars.
Q I'd ask you to show the judge your scars.
A All of them, or just --
THE COURT: Do I need to see this, for preliminary hearing purposes?
MS. ASHWORTH: No.
THE COURT: All right.
BY MS. ASHWORTH:
Q Do you have any permanent injuries as a result of this?
Q What is that?
A I have nerve damage in my left arm where he stabbed me in the triceps. I can't squeeze with my left hand.
Q Were you able to do that before this?
A Oh, yeah. Strong as an ox before this.
Q What are you unable to squeeze?
You're able to move your hand?
A Yeah, I just don't have any pressure to squeeze it.
Q Please answer any questions that Mr. Teluk has for you.
* * * * *
BY MR. TELUK:
Q Then, at a certain point in time, you decided to exit the vehicle driven by your wife; right?
Q Why did you exit that vehicle?
A Because I had my three-year-old daughter in the back seat, I had my wife sitting next to me, I didn't know if this guy had a gun, I didn't know if he was going to come force us out of the -- I had no idea what he was going to do.
Out of nowhere, he came and swerved at my car, so at this point in time, I didn't what this guy's intentions were.
So, at that point in time, I had no second thoughts about getting out of my car and defending my family, and that's just what was going through my head.
Q Any other reason you exited the vehicle at that point in time?
A Any other reason why, other than to protect my family?
Q Now, at that point in time, both vehicles are stopped; right?
Q You're in the passenger side; correct?
Q The driver of this vehicle is in front of your vehicle; correct?
Q He's on the driver's side; right?
Q Any other reason why you believed you had to exit your vehicle to protect you family?
A What do you mean by that?
Q Well, you said you exited your vehicle; right?
Q Because you didn't know what this person was going to do?
Q This person when you exit your vehicle; where is this other person?
A On the way to my car.
Q Okay; what is he doing?
A I really don't know. If I don't know what he looks like -- I mean, there's a lot of things that's a blur.
At that point in time, I felt in danger for my family.
Q Any other reason that you testify to that you felt either you or you family was in danger, other than what you testified to?
Q All right.
So this male gets out of the car; correct?
Q Does he say anything o you?
Q Does he do anything unusual to lead you to believe that --
A He almost swerved my family off the road for no reason. That was kind of unusual.
Q That's the only reason you wanted to protect your family at that point in time?
A I didn't know what was going on.
Q I understand that.
Now, you exited your vehicle after he exited his vehicle, or vise-versa?
A Say that again.
Q You exited the vehicle before or after he exited his vehicle?
A After he exited his.
Q All right; and where was he in relationship to the driver's side door of his vehicle, where was he in relationship to that driver's side door when you exited your vehicle?
A You mean the time I exited?
A He was getting out of his car.
Q He was just getting out of his car?
Q He was not at the front of your vehicle; he was just getting out of his car?
A No, he wasn't banging on my window or nothing, telling me to get out. I just -- it was an instant reaction that I had.
I just got out. It was the only thing I could think to do. I didn't have ten minutes to sit there and think about what was the best thing to do legally.
It was an animal instinct. I had my three-year-old daughter behind me. That means everything to me. It was a split second decision. It might have been the wrong one. That's what I decided to do.
Q He's not yelling at you or screaming at you, or anything like that; right?
Q So what did you do next after you exited the passenger side door of your vehicle?
A I ran right into him and started fighting.
Q You started the fight?
A No, I didn't start the fight.
Q But you just said you started fighting.
A Yes, that's the intention I had getting out of the car, was to fight to protect my family.
Q So, how did you start the fight?
A How did I start the fight?
A How did I start the physical altercation, you mean?
I jumped out and I clashed into him. I felt like I needed to that to prevent this guy -- I have no idea what the hell he's doing with my family, I had no idea what his intentions were.
My animal instincts told me to get out and keep him away from my car, keep him away from my daughter behind me.
Q So you said you clashed into him?
Q C-L-A-S-H-E-D; is that the word you used; clashed?
Q How did you clash into him?
A I don't -- I can't explain it. If I knew if I threw him a three piece combo or knee, I'd tell you that. That's why I say clash. I don't remember it. I just remember this (indicating). That's all I remember.
Q Did you run towards him?
Q He wasn't running towards you when you ran towards him; is that correct?
A Yes, he was running towards me. It was a mutual -- I mean as far as that goes, he clashed into me. It was like this (indicating).
It was a clash. It wasn't like I attacked him. It was a clash.
Q Where did this clash take place?
A Between both of our cars.
Q Do you recall which portion of your body clashed with his body?
A No. Other wise, I'd say something other than clash. I don't remember. If I did, I'd say something, but all I remember in my head is a clash.
Q Do you know how long this clashing occurred?
A No. I remember a clash, and we broke up and squared up.
Q I'm sorry, you broke up and what?
A When we first hit, it was a clash. I don't remember what happened, and then we broke back up, and
we both squared up, and we were both fighting.
So, as far as I know, it's a boxing match after we broke up after the first clash. You know, he took a swing.
All this blood came from my head. I figured, he grazed me with a fist or something like that busted my head open.
I had no idea I was getting stabbed. So, I kept fighting. After I started bleeding, I really started fighting as hard as I could.
Q The clash took place between the rear of your vehicle and the front of your vehicle; correct?
Is that a fair characterization?
A Yeah. I mean, I almost died that night. I can't tell you exactly what happened. I'm giving you the best I can remember.
Q I understand, and isn't it true that after this clash occurred, this male proceeded towards the front door of his vehicle?
A Do what?
Q You proceeded towards the driver's door of his vehicle?
A After we clashed?
A Absolutely not.
Q Why do you disagree with that statement?
A Because we squared up when we broke up off of that clash.
Q After you squared up, what happened then?
A I just remember throwing fist in a normal fistfight, and --
Q You do remember hitting him with you fist; correct?
A Yes, I do.
Q How many times did you hit him with your fist?
A I couldn't tell you an exact number, but I hit him a few times.
Q At least five?
A That's fair.
Q Would at least ten be fair?
A Maybe. Like I said, I mean, it was blur. I got my temple sliced open and I was losing blood so fast. I mean, it's kind of hard to remember something that's going on.
Q Did he strike you with his fists?
A He struck me with the knife, and I didn't even know he was doing the knife, so I can't tell you what he did.
I mean --
Q Do you recall how many times he hit you with his fist, if he hit you at all?
A No. I didn't know any of that. I didn't know what he was doing. All I was worried about was I'm going to do.
Q Do you recall any other physical contact between you and this mail that was driving this car?
A Other than the fight?
Q Other than what you testified to?
Q What other physical contact do you remember?
A You mean after we broke up?
Q All right. Besides --
A I remember jumping into his car when the fight was -- because I got in a fight mode, and I pretty much lost it.