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25001  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Hero of #253 on: December 29, 2009, 09:56:19 AM
Terror hero: I didn't hesitate

By TOM LIDDY
Last Updated: 10:50 AM, December 27, 2009
Posted: 8:35 AM, December 26, 2009

A Dutch airline passenger told The Post how he leapt into action when an alleged Muslim terrorist tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner packed with 300 people just moments before landing.
Chaos erupted as alleged terrorist Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, 23, tried to set off a sophisticated explosive device strapped to his body.

"Suddenly, we hear a bang. It sounded like a firecracker went off," said Jasper Schuringa, a film director who was traveling to the US to visit friends.
"When [it] went off, everybody panicked ... Then someone screamed, ‘Fire! Fire!’"
Schuringa, sitting in seat 20J, in the right-most section of the Airbus 330, looked to his left. "I saw smoke rising from a seat ... I didn’t hesitate. I just jumped," he said.
Schuringa dove over four passengers to reach Abdul Mutallab’s seat. The suspect had a blanket on his lap. "It was smoking and there were flames coming from beneath his legs."
"I searched on his body parts and he had his pants open. He had something strapped to his legs."
The unassuming hero ripped the flaming, molten object — which resembled a small, white shampoo bottle — off Abdul Mutallab’s left leg, near his crotch. He said he put out the fire with his bare hands.
Schuringa yelled for water, and members of the flight crew soon appeared with fire extinguishers. Then, he said, he hauled the suspect out of the seat.
"I took him in a choke to the first class and all the people were like, ‘What’s going on?!"
"I don’t feel like a hero," Schuringa told the Post as he recuperated with pals. "It was something that came completely natural ... It was something where I had to do something or it was too late."

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/nationa...M0rFfwIwkjVXXM
25002  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT Arch Liberal shocked to discover , , , on: December 29, 2009, 09:01:30 AM
By BOB HERBERT
Published: December 28, 2009
There is a middle-class tax time bomb ticking in the Senate’s version of President Obama’s effort to reform health care.

Recent developments on the struggle over health care with background, analysis, timelines and earlier events from NYTimes.com and Google.

The bill that passed the Senate with such fanfare on Christmas Eve would impose a confiscatory 40 percent excise tax on so-called Cadillac health plans, which are popularly viewed as over-the-top plans held only by the very wealthy. In fact, it’s a tax that in a few years will hammer millions of middle-class policyholders, forcing them to scale back their access to medical care.
Which is exactly what the tax is designed to do.

The tax would kick in on plans exceeding $23,000 annually for family coverage and $8,500 for individuals, starting in 2013. In the first year it would affect relatively few people in the middle class. But because of the steadily rising costs of health care in the U.S., more and more plans would reach the taxation threshold each year.

Within three years of its implementation, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the tax would apply to nearly 20 percent of all workers with employer-provided health coverage in the country, affecting some 31 million people. Within six years, according to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, the tax would reach a fifth of all households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 annually. Those families can hardly be considered very wealthy.

Proponents say the tax will raise nearly $150 billion over 10 years, but there’s a catch. It’s not expected to raise this money directly. The dirty little secret behind this onerous tax is that no one expects very many people to pay it. The idea is that rather than fork over 40 percent in taxes on the amount by which policies exceed the threshold, employers (and individuals who purchase health insurance on their own) will have little choice but to ratchet down the quality of their health plans.

These lower-value plans would have higher out-of-pocket costs, thus increasing the very things that are so maddening to so many policyholders right now: higher and higher co-payments, soaring deductibles and so forth. Some of the benefits of higher-end policies can be expected in many cases to go by the boards: dental and vision care, for example, and expensive mental health coverage.

Proponents say this is a terrific way to hold down health care costs. If policyholders have to pay more out of their own pockets, they will be more careful — that is to say, more reluctant — to access health services. On the other hand, people with very serious illnesses will be saddled with much higher out-of-pocket costs. And a reluctance to seek treatment for something that might seem relatively minor at first could well have terrible (and terribly expensive) consequences in the long run.

If even the plan’s proponents do not expect policyholders to pay the tax, how will it raise $150 billion in a decade? Great question.

We all remember learning in school about the suspension of disbelief. This part of the Senate’s health benefits taxation scheme requires a monumental suspension of disbelief. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, less than 18 percent of the revenue will come from the tax itself. The rest of the $150 billion, more than 82 percent of it, will come from the income taxes paid by workers who have been given pay raises by employers who will have voluntarily handed over the money they saved by offering their employees less valuable health insurance plans.

Can you believe it?

I asked Richard Trumka, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., about this. (Labor unions are outraged at the very thought of a health benefits tax.) I had to wait for him to stop laughing to get his answer. “If you believe that,” he said, “I have some oceanfront property in southwestern Pennsylvania that I will sell you at a great price.”

A survey of business executives by Mercer, a human resources consulting firm, found that only 16 percent of respondents said they would convert the savings from a reduction in health benefits into higher wages for employees. Yet proponents of the tax are holding steadfast to the belief that nearly all would do so.

“In the real world, companies cut costs and they pocket the money,” said Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America and a leader of the opposition to the tax. “Executives tell the shareholders: ‘Hey, higher profits without any revenue growth. Great!’ ”

The tax on health benefits is being sold to the public dishonestly as something that will affect only the rich, and it makes a mockery of President Obama’s repeated pledge that if you like the health coverage you have now, you can keep it.

Those who believe this is a good idea should at least have the courage to be straight about it with the American people.
25003  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: December 29, 2009, 08:39:45 AM
Clashes between security forces and opposition supporters have increased as sundown approaches in Tehran. The violence appears to be propagated by both sides, with footage showing security forces and protesters attacking each other. Reports from opposition sources claim that between four and 16 people have died thus far, including one Basij militiamen. Iran’s state-run media denies that any deaths have occurred.

The Iranian regime’s intimidation tactics in the lead-up to Ashura have evidently not succeeded in keeping protesters off the streets. Protests have thus far been reported in the cities of Tehran (in Vanak, Mohseni, Enqelab and Tajrish squares), Najafabad, Isfahan, Shiraz and Zanjan. Notably, there have been no reports of protests on Dec. 27 emanating from the Shiite holy city of Qom, where large opposition protests occurred earlier in the week for the mourning of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. In the days leading up to Ashura, STRATFOR received several indications that Iran’s security apparatus would place a great deal of attention on preventing demonstrations in Qom, the seat of the Islamic republic’s clerical establishment and thus a critical city for the regime to protect.

Judging from the rough video footage of the demonstrations and from source reports on the ground, the opposition protests are not as large as anticipated, but are still significant. It appears that the security forces have been somewhat successful in dispersing the crowds. The more dispersed the protesters, the less protection they have as a group and the easier it is for the security forces to crack down.

Opposition sources have been claiming that there is dissent in the security ranks, asserting that some riot police have refused orders to shoot at the protesters and are shooting in the air. Similarly, dissidents claim there have been desertions among the police. These are, of course, partisan claims benefiting the dissidents, and therefore cannot be confirmed. Rumors have been spread in the past about dissent in the security apparatus. This is possible but the security forces have appeared to be effective.

Security on the streets is still being primarily handled by riot police and Basiji militiamen wielding tear gas and batons. Though preparations were made for reinforcements in the lead-up to Ashura, regular army troops and elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps units have not been called in. This suggests that the protests have not yet breached the regime’s tolerance level. Though the security forces have cracked down on protesters with greater ferocity in recent days, the regime still appears wary of using extreme violence on a religious occasion as sensitive as Ashura.

As sunset approaches in Iran, many of the protesters should begin to head home. The younger protesters will likely attempt to hold out for longer. The Ashura protests have not yet produced an unmanageable crisis for the regime, but tensions are mounting, and there is word that the protests may spill over into the next day. At that time, however, the protesters will not have the religious cover of Ashura to protect them from what would likely be a much more aggressive crackdown.
25004  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / George Mason and Zacharia Johnson, VA convention 1788; on: December 29, 2009, 08:06:11 AM
"[W]hen the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, - who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia." --George Mason, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 1788


"[T]he people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them." --Zacharia Johnson, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 1788

25005  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 29, 2009, 08:03:10 AM
January 2009: WASHINGTON — AirTran Airways apologized Friday to nine Muslims kicked off a New Year's Day flight to Florida after other passengers reported hearing a suspicious remark about airplane security. One of the passengers said the confusion started at Reagan National Airport just outside Washington, D.C., when he talked about the safest place to sit on an airplane.

Orlando, Fla.-based AirTran said in a statement that it refunded the passengers' air fare and planned to reimburse them for replacement tickets they bought on US Airways. AirTran also offered to take the passengers back to Washington free of charge.

On November 17, 2009
A group of thirteen men dressed in traditional Muslim attire were among 73 passengers who boarded AirTran Flight 297 on Tuesday, 17 November 2009, a routine flight scheduled to depart Atlanta Hartsfield Airport, gate C-16 at 4:43 PM ET to Houston Hobby Airport. Reports developed by this investigator found two witnesses who observed direct interaction among all of these Muslim men at the terminal.

As the passengers boarded the aircraft, two of the Muslim men took seats in first class, while the remaining eleven were seated throughout the remaining rows of the aircraft. Most had carrying-on bags that they stowed in the overhead compartments above their seats.

As the aircraft began to taxi to the runway, a female flight attendant was beginning to issue the normal passenger advisories over the PA system. Almost on cue at the time passengers were told to turn off all electronic devices, one of the Muslim men seated in the front of the plane began to use his cell phone in a manner that was described by a flight attendant and passenger “as deliberate and obvious.” He was talking loudly in Arabic, nearly at the level of the flight attendant. Some reports suggest that this man actually called another Muslim passenger, although this has not been immediately confirmed. It is possible, however, as another passenger reported that a Muslim man seated toward the rear of the plane answered his cellular phone at the same time the man in the front began using his.

At this point, the flight attendant in the front of the plane approached the Muslim man using his telephone and instructed him to immediately turn it off. A second female flight attendant did the same at the rear of the aircraft. Concurrent with this cellular activity, two other Muslim men seated adjacent near the middle of the aircraft began operating what one passenger described as a palm type camcorder, ostensibly to view previously taken footage. It is possible, according to one flight attendant interviewed by this investigator, however, that the camcorder was being used for recording purposes. Whatever its use, a third flight attendant, aware of the incidents taking place in the front and rear of the aircraft, approached the two men for the purpose of securing the camcorder. At least two passengers reported that the men became abusive to the flight attendant and initially refused to comply with her request.

It was at this time that most of the passengers began to notice the multiple incidents involving over a dozen men dressed in Islamic attire. Next, as if previously rehearsed, at least ten of the 13 Muslim men aboard the aircraft began to leave their seats at the same time. At least one passenger stated she observed one of the Muslim passengers using his cell phone to take photos of other passengers on the aircraft, while one other Muslim passenger sang loudly in Arabic. According to information provided to this investigator from one of the flight crew who was alerted to an onboard emergency, the aircraft was now being taxied back to the terminal. The TSA, FAA and FBI were notified.

At the terminal
Once back at the terminal, the thirteen men were escorted from the aircraft by TSA and security officials. According to a report from an airline security official, their baggage was also removed and searched, the search finding nothing of apparent danger. According to a law enforcement official interviewed by telephone by this investigator on Monday, investigation revealed that all of the Muslim passengers are acquainted with each other and are associated with (or have ties to) a large Islamic center that has been the subject of investigative interest.

According to one aircraft passenger I interviewed, what happened next was “unbelievable” and caused a great deal of upset among the aircraft passengers and flight crew (some who opted off the flight in anger, fear, or admittedly, a mixture of both emotions).

After a lengthy delay while officials dealt with these Muslim passengers, ten (one uncorroborated report suggests 11) of the Muslim passengers were permitted to re-board the same aircraft to complete their flight. Some passengers and flight crew, traumatized by the blatant actions of the Muslim passengers, refused to travel with the Muslims who caused this orchestrated disturbance.

The flight continues
According to flight logs and information from one of the flight crew who continued with the flight, AirTran 297 ultimately departed Atlanta and arrived in Houston later that evening. The flight, however, was not without its curious incidents by the very same Muslim men who caused the initial delay and disturbance.

During the flight, one passenger interviewed by this investigator described the behavior of two of the Muslim passengers as less overt but still suspicious in nature. Without apparent legitimate purpose, one Muslim passenger moved a stowed bag from one part of the aircraft to another, well away from his seated position. Another spoke loudly in Arabic, with all appearing to interact in one form or another.

Ultimately, the flight landed safely and despite the early incidents in Atlanta, the Muslim passengers appeared able to leave freely from the terminal.

Comments from flight crew and airline personnel
As initially stated, proper and accurate investigation takes time to corroborate eyewitness accounts, which are often unreliable, contradictive and in cases like this, colored by emotion. Having interviewed a total of seven-(7) individuals directly involved in this incident over the last several days, including two law enforcement officers who handled the after action reports, the situation pertaining to the initial 13 and remaining 10 or 11 Muslim men allowed to continue their travels was far greater than an incident involving the unauthorized use of a cell phone that resulted in a minor flight delay, as reported by the mainstream media.

According to one airline security official, “This was a deliberate, well planned attempt to disrupt a domestic flight that was organized in advance of the boarding of these [Muslim] passengers. The purpose of their actions appeared to be multi-faceted, not the least of which was an attempt to change their status from passengers to victims of religious profiling. The situation was handled in a manner that we believe might have avoided an incident like USAir had in 2006, where everyone from the passengers who reported suspicious behavior to the airline was subjected to legal action by the Muslim passengers.”

While litigation might have been avoided, passengers and flight crew remain traumatized, and our air travel system was unnecessarily disrupted during one of the busiest air travel weeks in the U.S. The agenda of the Islamists behind this incident is clear, yet no one in the media seems to have the desire to expose these ideological cretins for what they are.

"We apologize to all of the passengers _ to the nine who had to undergo extensive interviews from the authorities and to the 95 who ultimately made the flight," the statement said. "Nobody on Flight 175 reached their destination on time on New Year's Day, and we regret it."

AirTran said the incident was a misunderstanding, but the steps taken were necessary.

Two U.S. Muslim advocacy groups, however, were critical of the airline's actions. The Muslim Public Affairs Council called on federal officials Friday to open an investigation. And the Council for American-Islamic Relations filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation, saying "It is incumbent on any airline to ensure that members of the traveling public are not singled out or mistreated based on their perceived race, religion or national origin."

Bill Adams, a DOT spokesperson, said the department thoroughly investigates discrimination complaints but would not comment further.

One of the Muslim passengers, Atif Irfan, said the family probably would not fly home with AirTran because members had already booked tickets on another airline, but appreciated the apology.

"It's definitely nice to hear," he said.
25006  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Denzel, Inosanto, Imada on: December 28, 2009, 11:53:17 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6VP3_WMSo0&feature=player_embedded
25007  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / National Tea Party forming?!? on: December 28, 2009, 05:29:33 PM


http://www.nationalteapartyconvention.com/
25008  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: December 28, 2009, 11:56:45 AM
I used to think quite a lot of Peggy Noonan, but in the last few years she has become captured by Washington , , , or pre-mature senility.
25009  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 28, 2009, 11:54:44 AM


 

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34592031/ns/us_news-security

 

 

U.S. security for air travel under new scrutiny
Authorities try to reassure public, although system didn't detect bomber
Adding to the airborne jitters, a second Nigerian man was detained Sunday from the same Northwest flight to Detroit after he locked himself in the plane's bathroom. Officials reported that he was belligerent but genuinely sick, and that, in an abundance of caution, the plane was taken to a remote location for screening before passengers were let off.

Investigators concluded he posed no threat.

In November, Abdulmutallab had been placed in a database of more than 500,000 names of people suspected of terrorist ties. But officials say there was not enough information about his terror activity that would have placed him on a watch list that could have kept him from flying.

'Sacrificing himself'
Officials said he came to the attention of U.S. intelligence last month when his father, a prominent Nigerian banker, reported to the American Embassy in Nigeria about his son's increasingly extremist views.

CNBC's Erin Burnett reported in Abuja, Nigeria, that family members had told her that Abdulmutallab's father had told embassy officials in a letter that his son had spoken of "sacrificing himself."

Still, in appearances on Sunday talk shows, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the traveling public "is very, very safe."

"This was one individual literally of thousands that fly and thousands of flights every year," Napolitano said. "And he was stopped before any damage could be done. I think the important thing to recognize here is that once this incident occurred, everything happened that should have."

Even so, airport security and intelligence played no role in thwarting the plot. Abdulmutallab was carrying PETN, also known as pentaerythritol, the same material convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid used when he tried to destroy a trans-Atlantic flight in 2001 with explosives hidden in his shoes. Abdulmutallab is alleged to have carried the explosive in condom-like pouches attached to his body.

Despite being in the database of people with suspected terrorist ties, Abdulmutallab, who comes from a prominent and wealthy Nigerian family, had a multiple-entry U.S. visa. It was issued last year.

Napolitano said Abdulmutallab was properly screened before getting on the flight to Detroit from Amsterdam.

Reviewing detection systems
The administration is also investigating aviation detection systems to see how the alleged attacker managed to get on board the Northwest flight in Amsterdam with explosive materials, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

No other flights were known to have been targeted. However, Gibbs says federal authorities took precautionary steps "to assume and plan for the very worst." Napolitano said there is no indication yet Abdulmutallab is part of a larger terrorist plot, although his possible ties to al-Qaida are still under investigation.

The United States is reviewing what security measures were used in Amsterdam where he boarded the flight.

"Now the forensics are being analyzed with what could have been done," Napolitano said.

Additional security measures are in place at airports around the world that are likely to slow travelers. Napolitano advised getting to airports earlier.

Congress is preparing to hold hearings on what happened and whether rules need to be changed.

"It's amazing to me that an individual like this who was sending out so many signals could end up getting on a plane going to the U.S.," said Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader in the Senate.

On Saturday, two Middle Eastern men thought to have been acting suspicious aboard a flight bound for Phoenix were detained and questioned by federal anti-terrorism authorities before being released. That incident — and Sunday's incident in Detroit — led the Council on American-Islamic Relations to urge airline security personnel to avoid ethnic and religious profiling.

Gibbs appeared on ABC television's "This Week," NBC's "Meet the Press" and CBS' "Face the Nation." Napolitano spoke on CNN's "State of the Union" as well as on NBC and ABC. McConnell appeared on ABC.

==========
I am out the door for several hours.
25010  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 28, 2009, 10:02:55 AM
I have no problem with profiling.
25011  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Women at Arms-- a trust betrayed on: December 28, 2009, 10:01:53 AM
Frankly, a lot of this PC by Pravda on the Hudson, apparently the first of a series, strikes me as PC drivel.  Liberals and women are shocked! absolutely schocked! to discover that men in combat zones makes "inappropriate passes", stalk, intimidate, and worse. 

Maybe the traditional Army knew something when the idea of putting women into combat zones first arose?!?   

I've never served and stand ready to be educated by those who have, but to me even the sub-title of the series "a trust betrayed" bespeaks an appeal to "damsel in distress" archetypes.

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

Women at Arms
A Peril in War Zones: Sexual Abuse by Fellow G.I.’s

By STEVEN LEE MYERS
Published: December 27, 2009
BAGHDAD — Capt. Margaret H. White began a relationship with a warrant officer while both were training to be deployed to Iraq. By the time they arrived this year at Camp Taji, north of here, she felt what she called “creepy vibes” and tried to break it off.

Specialist Erica A. Beck, a mechanic and gunner who served in in Iraq, recalled a sexual proposition she called “inappropriate.” She did not report it, she said, because she feared that her commanders would have reacted harshly — toward her.

Women at Arms
A Trust Betrayed



In the claustrophobic confines of a combat post, it was not easy to do. He left notes on the door to her quarters, alternately pleading and menacing. He forced her to have sex, she said. He asked her to marry him, though he was already married. He waited for her outside the women’s latrines or her quarters, once for three hours.

“It got to the point that I felt safer outside the wire,” Captain White said, referring to operations that take soldiers off their heavily fortified bases, “than I did taking a shower.”

Her ordeal ended with the military equivalent of a restraining order and charges of stalking against the officer. It is one case that highlights the new and often messy reality the military has had to face as men and women serve side by side in combat zones more than ever before.

Sexual harassment and sexual assault, which the military now defines broadly to include not only rape but also crimes like groping and stalking, continue to afflict the ranks, and by some measures are rising. While tens of thousands of women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, often in combat, often with distinction, the integration of men and women in places like Camp Taji has forced to the surface issues that commanders rarely, if ever confronted before.

The military — belatedly, critics say — has radically changed the way it handles sexual abuse in particular, expanding access to treatment and toughening rules for prosecution. In the hardships of war, though, the effects of the changes remain unclear.

The strains of combat, close quarters in remote locations, tension and even boredom can create the conditions for abuse, even as they hinder medical care for victims and legal proceedings against those who attack them.

Captain White said she had feared coming forward, despite having become increasingly despondent and suffered panic attacks, because she was wary of she-said-he-said recriminations that would reverberate through the tightknit military world and disrupt the mission. Despite the military’s stated “zero tolerance” for abuse or harassment, she had no confidence her case would be taken seriously and so tried to cope on her own, Captain White said.

A Pentagon-appointed task force, in a report released this month, pointedly criticized the military’s efforts to prevent sexual abuse, citing the “unique stresses” of deployments in places like Camp Taji. “Some military personnel indicated that predators may believe they will not be held accountable for their misconduct during deployment because commanders’ focus on the mission overshadows other concerns,” the report said.

That, among other reasons, is why sexual assault and harassment go unreported far more often than not. “You’re in the middle of a war zone,” Captain White said, reflecting a fear many military women describe of being seen, somehow, as harming the mission.

“So it’s kind of like that one little thing is nothing compared with ‘There is an I.E.D. that went off in this convoy today and three people were injured,’ ” she said, referring to an improvised explosive device.

Common Fears

By the Pentagon’s own estimate, as few as 10 percent of sexual assaults are reported, far lower than the percentage reported in the civilian world. Specialist Erica A. Beck, a mechanic and gunner who served in Diyala Province in Iraq this summer, recalled a sexual proposition she called “inappropriate” during her first tour in the country in 2006-7. “Not necessarily being vulgar, but he, you know, was asking for favors,” she said.

She did not report it, she said, because she feared that her commanders would have reacted harshly — toward her.

“It was harassment,” she said. “And because it was a warrant officer, I didn’t say anything. I was just a private.”

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

Page 2 of 4)



Her fears were common, according to soldiers and advocates who remain skeptical of the military’s efforts to address abuse. A report last year by the Government Accountability Office concluded that victims were reluctant to report attacks “for a variety of reasons, including the belief that nothing would be done or that reporting an incident would negatively impact their careers.”


When Sgt. Tracey R. Phillips told a superior about an unwanted sexual advance from a private the night their unit arrived in Iraq in May, the accusations unleashed a flurry of charges and countercharges, an initial investigation of her on charges of adultery, a crime in the military justice system, and, according to her account, violations by her commanders of the new procedures meant to ease reporting of abuse.

In the end, she was kicked out of Iraq and the Army itself, while the private remained on duty here.

The military disputed her account but declined to state the reasons for sending her out of Iraq. Her paperwork showed that she received an honorable discharge, though with “serious misconduct” cited as the reason. The so-called misconduct, she said, stemmed from the Army’s allegation that she had had an inappropriate relationship with the private she accused. She denied that.

“If I would have never, ever, ever said anything, I wouldn’t be sitting here,” she said in an interview at her parents’ home near San Antonio. “I’d still be in Iraq.”

At bases around Iraq, many said that acceptance and respect for women in uniform were now more common than the opposite. In part, they said, that reflects a sweeping change in military culture that has accompanied the rise of women through the ranks and into more positions once reserved for men.

“It’s not tolerated — it’s just not,” said Lt. Brenda L. Beegle, a married military police officer, referring to sexual harassment and abuse.

In an interview at Liberty Base, near Baghdad’s airport, she said: “Everyone has heard stories about bad things that have happened. I’ve never had an issue.”

Although exact comparisons to the civilian world are difficult because of different methods of defining and reporting abuse, Pentagon officials and some experts say that the incidence of abuse in the military appears to be no higher than in society generally, and might be lower. It appears to be even lower in combat operations than at bases in the United States, because of stricter discipline and scrutiny during deployments, as well as restrictions on alcohol, which is often a factor in assaults, for example, on college campuses.

Complaints Increase

The number of complaints, though, is rising. Across the military, there were 2,908 reported cases of sexual abuse involving service members as victims or assailants, in the fiscal year that ended in September 2008, the last year for which the Pentagon made numbers available. That was an 8 percent increase from the previous year, when there were 2,688.

In the turbulent regions from Egypt to Afghanistan where most American combat troops are now deployed, the increase in reported cases was even sharper: 251 cases, compared with 174 the year before, a 44 percent increase. The number in Iraq rose to 143, from 112 the year before. Everyone agrees that those represent only a fraction of the instances of assault, let alone harassment.

“A woman in the military is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq,” Representative Jane Harman, a Democrat from California, said at a Congressional hearing this year, repeating an assertion she has made a refrain in a campaign of hers to force the military to do more to address abuses.

At least 10 percent of the victims in the last year were men, a reality that the Pentagon’s task force said the armed services had done practically nothing to address in terms of counseling, treatment and prosecution. Men are considered even less likely to report attacks, officials said, because of the stigma, and fears that their own sexual orientation would be questioned. In the majority of the reported cases, the attacker was male.

Senior Pentagon officials argued that the increase in reports did not necessarily signify a higher number of attacks. Rather, they said, there is now a greater awareness as well as an improved command climate, encouraging more victims to come forward.

“We believe the increase in the number of reported cases means the department is capturing a greater proportion of the cases that occurred during the year, which is good news,” said the Pentagon’s senior official overseeing abuse policies, Kaye Whitley.

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

Page 3 of 4)



The military can no more eradicate sexual abuse than can society in general, but soldiers, officers and experts acknowledge that it is particularly harmful when soldiers are in combat zones, affecting not only the victims but also, as the military relies more than ever on women when the nation goes to war, the mission.

“For the military the potential costs are even higher as it can also negatively impact mission readiness,” the Pentagon’s annual report on sexual abuse said, referring to sexual violence. “Service members risk their lives for one another and bear the responsibility of keeping fellow service members out of harm’s way. Sexual assault in the military breaks this bond.”

Even investigations into accusations, which are often difficult to prove, can disrupt operations. In Sergeant Phillips’s case, she was relieved of her duties leading a squad of soldiers refueling emergency rescue helicopters and other aircraft at Camp Kalsu, south of Baghdad.

Cases like hers suggest that the vagaries of sex and sexual abuse, especially in combat zones, continue to vex commanders on the ground, despite the transformation of the military’s policies.

The majority of sexual abuse allegations end with no prosecution at all. Of 2,171 suspects of investigations that were completed during the fiscal year that ended in September 2008, only 317 faced a court-martial. Another 515 faced administrative punishments or discharges. Nearly half of the completed investigations lacked evidence or were “unsubstantiated or unfounded.”

The Pentagon, facing criticism, maintains that it has transformed the way it handles sexual abuse. In the wake of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as highly publicized cases and revelations of rampant abuse at the Air Force Academy in 2003, the Pentagon created a single agency to oversee the issue and rewrote the rules of reporting, treatment and prosecution. Beginning in October 2007, the Uniform Code of Military Justice expanded the provision that once covered rape — Article 120 — to include other offenses, like indecent exposure and stalking.

The Army, which has provided the bulk of the forces in Iraq, has increased the number of investigators and lawyers trained to investigate accusations. Most bases now have kits to collect forensic evidence in rape cases, which was not the case immediately after the invasion in 2003.

Larger field hospitals in Balad and Mosul now have the same type of sexual assault nurse examiners widely used in the civilian world, as well as a dozen other examiners who are not nurses but are trained to conduct forensic examinations.

The military has set up a system of confidential advisers women can turn to who are outside the usual chain of command — an avenue Sergeant Phillips said she had been denied.

If they want to, the women can now seek medical treatment and counseling without setting off a criminal investigation. And all the services have started educational programs to address aspects of a hierarchical warrior culture that some say contributes to hostility toward women. Posters for the campaign blanket bulletin boards in offices, chow halls and recreational buildings on bases across Iraq.

The military’s efforts, however well intentioned, are often undermined by commanders who are skeptical or even conflicted, suspicious of accusations and fearful that reports of abuse reflect badly on their commands. The Pentagon task force also reported that victims of assault did not come forward because they might “have engaged in misconduct for which they could be disciplined, such as under-age drinking, fraternization or adultery.”

Marti Ribeiro, then an Air Force sergeant, said she was raped by another soldier after she stepped away from a guard post in Afghanistan in 2006 to smoke a cigarette, a story first recounted in “The Lonely Soldier,” a book by Helen Benedictabout women who served in Iraq and elsewhere. When she went to the abuse coordinator, she was threatened with prosecution for having left her weapon and her post.

“I didn’t get any help at all, let alone compassion,” said Ms. Ribeiro, who has since retired and joined the Service Women’s Action Network, a new advocacy organization devoted to shaping the Pentagon’s policy.

The hardships of combat operations often compound the anguish of victims and complicate investigations, as well as counseling and treatment. The Government Accountability Office suggested that the “unique living and social circumstances” of combat posts heightened the risk for assault. Both the G.A.O. and the Pentagon’s task force found that, despite the Pentagon’s policy, remote bases did not have adequate medical and mental health services for victims. The task force also found that abuse coordinators and victim advocates were often ill trained or absent.

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As a result, victims often suffer the consequences alone, working in the heat and dust, living in trailers surrounded by gravel and concrete blast walls, with nowhere private to retreat to. In Captain White’s case, she had to work and live beside the man who assaulted and stalked her until their deployment ended in August and they both went home.



“You’re in such a fishbowl,” she said. “You can’t really get away from someone. You see him in the chow hall. You see him in the gym.”

The Danger Nearby

Captain White’s case is typical of many here, according to military lawyers and experts, in that she knew the man she said assaulted her, circumstances that complicated the investigation and prosecution.

She had dated the warrant officer when they arrived in Fort Dix, N.J., for predeployment training with the 56th Stryker Combat Team. The newly revised article of the Uniform Code of Military Justice says that “a current or previous dating relationship by itself” does not constitute consent.

Once at Camp Taji, a sprawling base just north of Baghdad, she grew troubled by his behavior. He cajoled her with presents and sent her e-mail messages. She said that for fear of running into him, she stopped drinking water after 7 p.m. so she would not have to go to the latrine at night alone.

She never came forward herself. Her case came to light only when military prosecutors questioned her about another investigation involving the warrant officer. He was ultimately charged with 19 offenses, said Lt. Col. Philip J. Smith, a spokesman for the division that oversaw operations in central Iraq. The charges included seven counts of fraternization and two of adultery, interfering with an investigation and, in Captain White’s case, stalking.

After their deployment ended in September, the officer pleaded guilty and resigned from the Army in lieu of prosecution, Colonel Smith said.

Captain White said that she was satisfied with the legal outcome of her case, though her account of it highlighted the emotional strains that sexual abuse causes.

“I’m not saying that I handled it the best way,” she said in an interview after her own retirement from the Army, “but I handled it at the time and in the situation what I thought was the best way, which was just to keep my head down, keep going — which was kind of an Army thing to say: Drive on.”
25012  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH on: December 28, 2009, 09:45:46 AM
Second post:

More Questions on Why Terror Suspect Was Not Stopped

By ERIC LIPTON and SCOTT SHANE
Published: December 27, 2009
WASHINGTON — When a prominent Nigerian banker and former government official phoned the American Embassy in Abuja in October with a warning that his son had developed radical views, had disappeared and might have traveled to Yemen, embassy officials did not revoke the young man’s visa to enter the United States, which was good until June 2010.

The police searched the basement of a building in London, where it is believed that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had been a student.
Instead, officials said Sunday, they marked the file of the son, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, for a full investigation should he ever reapply for a visa. And when they passed the information on to Washington, Mr. Abdulmutallab’s name was added to 550,000 others with some alleged terrorist connections — but not to the no-fly list. That meant no flags were raised when he used cash to buy a ticket to the United States and boarded a plane, checking no bags.

Now that Mr. Abdulmutallab is charged with trying to blow up a transcontinental airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day, some members of Congress are urgently questioning why, eight years after the Sept. 11 attacks, security measures still cannot keep makeshift bombs off airliners.

On Sunday, as criticism mounted that security lapses had led to a brush with disaster, President Obama ordered a review of the two major planks of the aviation security system — the creation of watch lists and the use of detection equipment at airport checkpoints.

At the same time, a jittery air travel system coped with a new scare. On the same flight that Mr. Abdulmutallab took on Friday — Northwest 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit — an ailing Nigerian man who spent a long time in the restroom inadvertently set off a security alert. It turned out to be a false alarm.

Officials in several countries, meanwhile, worked to retrace Mr. Abdulmutallab’s path and to look for security holes. In Nigeria, officials said he arrived in Lagos on Christmas Eve, just hours before departing for Amsterdam. American officials were tracking his travels to Yemen, and Scotland Yard investigators were checking on his connections in London, where he studied from 2005 to 2008 at University College London and was president of the Islamic Society.

Obama administration officials scrambled to portray the episode, in which passengers and flight attendants subdued Mr. Abdulmutallab and doused the fire he had started, as a test that the air safety system passed.

“The system has worked really very, very smoothly over the course of the past several days,” Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security secretary said, in an interview on “This Week” on ABC. Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, used nearly the same language on “Face the Nation” on CBS, saying that “in many ways, this system has worked.”

But counterterrorism experts and members of Congress were hardly willing to praise what they said was a security system that had proved to be not nimble enough to respond to the ever-creative techniques devised by would-be terrorists.

Congressional leaders said the tip from Mr. Abdulmutallab’s father, Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, should have resulted in closer scrutiny of the suspect before he boarded the plane in Amsterdam. Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, the ranking minority member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said that his visa should have been revoked, or that he at least should have been given a physical pat-down or a full-body scan.

“This individual should not have been missed,” Ms. Collins said in an interview on Sunday. “Clearly, there should have been a red flag next to his name.”

The episode has renewed a debate that has quietly continued since the 2001 attacks over the proper balance between security and privacy. The government has spent the last several years cutting the size of the watch list, after repeated criticism that too many people were being questioned at border crossings or checkpoints. Now it may be asked to expand it again.

“You are second-guessed one day and criticized on another,” said one Transportation Security Administration official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.

Privacy advocates, for example, have tried to stop or at least slow the introduction of advanced checkpoint screening devices that use so-called millimeter waves to create an image of a passenger’s body, so officers can see under clothing to determine if a weapon or explosive has been hidden. Security officers, in a private area, review the images, which are not stored. Legislation is pending in the House that would prohibit the use of this equipment for routine passenger screening.

To date, only 40 of these machines have been installed at 19 airports across the United States — meaning only a tiny fraction of passengers pass through them. Amsterdam’s airport has 15 of these machines — more than just about any airport in the world — but an official there said Sunday that they were prohibited from using them on passengers bound for the United States, for a reason she did not explain.

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(Page 2 of 2)



Michael Chertoff, former secretary of homeland security, and Kip Hawley, who ran the Transportation Security Administration until January, said the new body-scanning machines were a critical tool that should quickly be installed in more airports nationwide.

Machines using millimeter-wave technology scan under passengers' clothes, but only 40 have been installed at U.S. airports.
For now, American aviation officials have mandated that airports across the world do physical pat-downs of passengers on flights headed to the United States, a practice that in the past has also raised privacy objections.
“I understand people have issue with privacy,” Mr. Hawley said Sunday. “But that is a tradeoff, and what happened on the plane just highlights what the stakes are.”

So far, an additional 150 full-body imaging machines have been ordered, but nationwide there are approximately 2,200 checkpoint screening lanes.

One subject of the administration’s security review will be the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or Tide, the extensive collection of data on more than 500,000 people into which the warning from Mr. Abdulmutallab’s father’s was entered.

A law enforcement official said it was not unusual that a one-time comment from a relative would not place a person on the far smaller no-fly list, which has only 4,000 names, or the so-called selectee list of 14,000 names of people who are subjected to more thorough searches at checkpoints.

The point of the Tide database, the official said, is to make sure even the most minor suspicious details are recorded so that they can be connected to new data in the future.

“The information goes in there, and it’s available to all the agencies,” the official said. “The point is to marry up data from different sources over time that may indicate an individual might be a terrorist.”

The debate over watch lists and screening will be shaped in part by the still-emerging details about Mr. Abdulmutallab, his radicalization, his alleged training in Yemen and the bombing attempt. On Sunday, officials were still examining his claim that he received help from a bomb expert in Yemen associated with Al Qaeda.

Mr. Abdulmutallab was moved on Sunday from a University of Michigan hospital and transferred to a federal prison in Milan, Mich.

Mr. Mutallab, the suspect’s father, was scheduled to make a public statement on Monday after talking to Nigerian security officials in Abuja. A cousin of Mr. Abdulmutallab, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to offend the family, said in an interview on Sunday that there was no sign of radicalism in Mr. Abdulmutallab while he was growing up in Nigeria, though he was devout.

“We understand that he met some people who influenced him while in London,” where Mr. Abdulmutallab studied engineering, the cousin said. “He left London and went to Yemen where, we suspect, he mixed up with the people that put him up to this whole business.”

He added: “I think his father is embarrassed by the whole thing, because that was not the way he brought the boy up. All of us are shocked by it.”
25013  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ISI on: December 28, 2009, 09:36:35 AM
A page of interesting articles on the ISI by the NYT/POTH.  Yes, yes, I know the source, so caveat emptor:

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/i/interservices_intelligence/index.html?inline=nyt-org
25014  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 28, 2009, 09:31:02 AM
The world-wide war of Islamo Fascism on civilization continues and, stimulated by American and Western weakness, appears to enter a new phase.

GM, glad to see that you too are a fan of the Israeli approach.

I will reject the conclusion of the Crudelle piece though:  "But it is a fact that a lot of the financial problems we are now experiencing - including federal deficits, a declining housing market, banking problems, the sickly dollar and a large drop in overall confidence - have, to one degree or another, grown from the aftermath of what happened seven years ago."

War is really expensive, but the problems we face are because of a government created credit bubble which burst.  (The Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government pushing guaranteeing mortgages of the most insane sort, the Fed running interest rates that were effectively zero, the Community Reinvestment Act, the purchase of Congress by these interests, and so much more of this sort)  We could afford this war but for the deranged policies being pursued by our President and his vast left wing conspiracy.
25015  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Reports of the demise of the Death Tax have been exagerated on: December 27, 2009, 09:16:09 PM
Thinking Hard About Retirement and Death

 
By PAUL SULLIVAN
Published: December 25, 2009
WITH 2010 a few days away, there are several tax matters that wealthy investors need to consider next year. The two at the top of the list are whether they should convert their taxable retirement account to a tax-free Roth individual retirement account and how to deal with the uncertainty over the estate tax.


Janine Racanelli, managing director of the Advice Lab, says there are ways to give money to grandchildren other than through an estate.


Jere Doyle, wealth strategist at Bank of New York Mellon, said the wealthy should not get their hopes up for an end to the estate tax.

“There is frustration due to the legislative uncertainty,” said Daniel Kesten, partner in the private client services group at Davis & Gilbert, a tax firm. “Congress had eight years to address this, but they waited until the last year when two wars and health care interrupted their thinking.”

That leaves the wealthy with decisions to make about two of the biggest financial events of their life: retirement and death.

ROTH CONVERSION Starting in 2010, there will no longer be an income limit for Roth I.R.A.’s, which allow people to contribute post-tax money that can appreciate tax-free. The income limit has been $100,000 a year for individuals. The question is whether converting an existing I.R.A., the proceeds of which are taxed when distributed, into a tax-free Roth I.R.A. makes sense.

While Congress approved the change in 2006, the opportunity to convert seems to come at an enticing time. Those whose pretax retirement accounts lost a lot of their value in the last two years might want to withdraw the money, pay tax on the amount and then put it into a Roth. For wealthy investors who do not see themselves falling into a lower income tax bracket at retirement or who believe tax rates will rise significantly, this could be a shrewd move.

But this requires a degree of omniscience that few showed with the recession that began in December 2007. “Why bother?” asked Tony Guernsey, head of national wealth management at Wilmington Trust. “Is it that much money?” He used the example of buying a Treasury bill with a week to maturity: you know the government will pay you back. But the same cannot be said for what the tax landscape — or your wealth — will look like when you retire.

The bigger benefit may come to people who plan to pass their Roth on to heirs. Unlike regular retirement accounts, there is no minimum distribution requirement with a Roth, and the tax-free treatment of its assets can be passed to an heir. “The real benefit is coming in the estate planning aspects,” said Mitch Drossman, national wealth strategist for Bank of America private wealth management. “The beneficiary must take minimum distributions. But it will be growing tax-free and distributed tax-free.”

ESTATE TAX The elephant in the room is the estate tax. Congress has adjourned for the year without making any changes in that tax law. So as of now, that means the tax will disappear in 2010 before reverting in 2011 to the old rate of 55 percent for estates worth more than $1 million.

Jere Doyle, wealth strategist at Bank of New York Mellon, said the wealthy should not get their hopes up for an end to the estate tax. He pointed out that an estate did not have to submit its first tax bill until nine months after a person’s death. The Senate could wait, then, until the summer to decide on the estate tax and make it retroactive to the beginning of the year. This would wreak havoc on estate planning. Even if the Senate acted early in the coming year, it could still lead to a flurry of legal challenges on the constitutionality of reinstating a tax that had disappeared.

But there is a broader issue for moderately wealthy people. When a person dies now, the value of his or her assets gets a “step-up in basis,” which means for tax purposes the assets are valued on the day of death. Without an estate tax, this provision disappears, and the appreciated value is subject to capital gains tax.

The Internal Revenue Service will grant a $1.3 million “artificial basis” on assets of a single person and $3 million for couples if the estate tax disappears. But on the rest of the assets, the heirs will have to determine what the original cost was and pay the capital gains on the appreciated amount. For long-held stock that has split many times, this could be extremely difficult.

“If there is no estate tax in 2010, we have an income tax problem for a larger group of the population,” Mr. Kesten said. He estimated that the number of people affected would go from 6,000 to 60,000.

Still, most advisers and accountants expect that an estate tax will be reinstated, and this has pushed the wealthiest to find new ways to reduce its impact. “If we’re resigned to an estate tax existing, it’s not a call on where rates will go but an acknowledgment we won’t have a repeal,” said Janine Racanelli, managing director and head of the Advice Lab at J. P. Morgan Private Bank.

One way is through giving money to heirs above the $1 million lifetime exemption level and paying the 45 percent gift tax now. This may seem odd at first, since the estate tax is currently the same rate. But the benefit comes from how the taxes are applied: the gift tax is added like sales tax, while the estate tax is deducted like income tax. Mr. Kesten noted that a person with a $30 million estate could give roughly $20 million to his heirs during his lifetime and pay $10 million in gift taxes, or he could leave the $30 million to them and they would receive $15 million, after estate taxes.

Ms. Racanelli points out that giving money to grandchildren above the exemption rate is also better than leaving it to them through the estate. She said a person could save more than $500,000 in taxes on $1 million by giving the money now.

An option to avoid gift and estate taxes is to lend money to heirs. The Internal Revenue Service rate for such intrafamily loans in December is 0.69 percent for up to three years. The money the child makes investing above the I.R.S. rate is not subject to the higher 45 percent gift tax, but instead the lower 15 percent capital gains tax, Mr. Doyle said. If you die before the loan is repaid, however, the outstanding balance could be subject to income tax.

GIFT TAX EXCLUSION One of the most basic but highly effective estate tax strategies is the annual gift tax exclusion. The I.R.S. in 2009 allowed people to give up to $13,000 a year to anyone they wanted, tax-free. (This exclusion is separate from the $1 million lifetime exemption.)

But this is something that many wealthier people overlook, said Phyllis Silverman, vice president and senior trust adviser at PNC Wealth Management. “They’re all very busy and the idea of $13,000 per individual may not make an impact on their minds,” she said. “But when they sit down with their financial adviser, they can see how it will lower their estate costs.”

For those with an estate subject to a 45 percent estate tax, each $13,000 gift will save them at least $5,520 in estate tax, Ms Silverman said. Or consider this example: A married couple with a $10 million estate gives $13,000 a year each to six people for a decade. At the end of that time, they will have given $1.56 million tax-free. Based on the current estate tax rate, they will have also saved $702,000 in taxes by moving that money out of their estate before they die.
25016  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: SF in Afpakia on: December 27, 2009, 08:57:29 PM
lite U.S. Force Expanding Hunt in Afghanistan
 
Kevin Frayer/Associated Press
American and Afghan troops in Helmand Province. Special Operations units are stepping up attacks on insurgents, officers say.


 
By ERIC SCHMITT
Published: December 26, 2009
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan — Secretive branches of the military’s Special Operations forces have increased counterterrorism missions against some of the most lethal groups in Afghanistan and, because of their success, plan an even bigger expansion next year, according to American commanders.

Skip to next paragraph
 
The New York Times
Officers at Bagram Air Base expect a major fight in Marja.

The commandos, from the Army’s Delta Force and the Navy’s classified Seals units, have had success weakening the network of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the strongest Taliban warrior in eastern Afghanistan, the officers said. Mr. Haqqani’s group has used its bases in neighboring Pakistan to carry out deadly strikes in and around Kabul, the Afghan capital.

Guided by intercepted cellphone communications,(WTF?!?  Why does the NYTimes/Pravda on the Hudson insist on putting this sort of intel out there?!?) the American commandos have also killed some important Taliban operatives in Marja, the most fearsome Taliban stronghold in Helmand Province in the south, the officers said. Marine commanders say they believe that there are some 1,000 fighters holed up in the town.

Although President Obama and his top aides have not publicly discussed these highly classified missions as part of the administration’s revamped strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the counterterrorism operations are expected to increase, along with the deployment of 30,000 more American forces in the next year.

The increased counterterrorism operations over the past three or four months reflect growth in every part of the Afghanistan campaign, including conventional forces securing the population, other troops training and partnering with Afghan security forces, and more civilians to complement and capitalize on security gains.

American commanders in Afghanistan rely on the commando units to carry out some of the most complicated operations against militant leaders, and the missions are never publicly acknowledged.

The commandos are the same elite forces that have been pursuing Osama bin Laden, captured Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003 and led the hunt that ended in 2006 in the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader in Iraq of the insurgent group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

In recent interviews here, commanders explained that the special-mission units from the Joint Special Operations Command were playing a pivotal role in hurting some of the toughest militant groups, and buying some time before American reinforcements arrived and more Afghan security forces could be trained.

“They are extremely effective in the areas where we are focused,” said one American general in Afghanistan about the commandos, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the classified status of the missions.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, who is in charge of the military’s Central Command, mentioned the increased focus on counterterrorism operations in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Dec. 9. But he spoke more obliquely about the teams actually conducting attacks against hard-core Taliban extremists, particularly those in rural areas outside the reach of population centers that conventional forces will focus on.

“We actually will be increasing our counterterrorist component of the overall strategy,” General Petraeus told lawmakers. “There’s no question you’ve got to kill or capture those bad guys that are not reconcilable. And we are intending to do that, and we will have additional national mission force elements to do that when the spring rolls around.”

Senior military officials say it is not surprising that the commandos are playing such an important role in the fight, particularly because Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the senior American and NATO officer in Afghanistan, led the Joint Special Operations Command for five years.

In addition to the classified American commando missions, military officials say that other NATO special operations forces have teamed up with Afghan counterparts to attack Taliban bomb-making networks and other militant cells.

About six weeks ago, allied and Afghan special operations forces killed about 150 Taliban fighters in several villages near Kunduz, in northern Afghanistan, a senior NATO military official said.

Some missions have killed Taliban fighters while searching for Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, who was reported missing on June 30 in eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban in July posted a video on jihadist Web sites in which the soldier identified himself and said that he had been captured when he lagged behind on a patrol. A second video was released on Friday.

“We’ve been hitting them hard, but I want to be careful not to overstate our progress,” said the NATO official, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to describe the operations in detail. “It has not yet been decisive.”

In Helmand, more than 10,000 Marines, as well as Afghan and British forces, are gearing up for a major confrontation in Marja early next year. Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, the senior Marine commander in the south, said in a recent interview, “The overt message we’re putting out is, Marja is next.”

General Nicholson said there were both “kinetic and nonkinetic shaping operations” under way. In military parlance that means covert operations, including stealthy commando raids against specific targets, as well as an overt propaganda campaign intended to persuade some Taliban fighters to defect.

Military officials say the commandos are mindful of General McChrystal’s directive earlier this year to take additional steps to prevent civilian casualties.

In February, before General McChrystal was named to his current position, the head of the Joint Special Operations Command, Vice Adm. William H. McRaven, ordered a halt to most commando missions in Afghanistan, reflecting a growing concern that civilian deaths caused by American firepower were jeopardizing broader goals there.

The halt, which lasted about two weeks, came after a series of nighttime raids by Special Operations troops killed women and children, and after months of mounting outrage in Afghanistan about civilians killed in air and ground attacks. The order covered all commando missions except those against the top leaders of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, military officials said.

Across the border in Pakistan, where American commandos are not permitted to operate, the Central Intelligence Agency has stepped up its missile strikes by Predator and Reaper drones on groups like the Haqqani network.

But an official with Pakistan’s main spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or I.S.I., said there had also been more than 60 joint operations involving the I.S.I. and the C.I.A. in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Baluchistan in the past year.

The official said the missions included “snatch and grabs” — the abduction of important militants — as well as efforts to kill leaders. These operations were based on intelligence provided by either the United States or Pakistan to be used against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the official said.

“We can expect to see more U.S. action against Haqqani,” a senior American diplomat in Pakistan said in a recent interview.

The increasing tempo of commando operations in Afghanistan has caused some strains with other American commanders. Many of the top Special Operations forces, as well as intelligence analysts and surveillance aircraft, are being moved to Afghanistan from Iraq, as the Iraq war begins to wind down.

“It’s caused some tensions over resources,” said Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., the second-ranking commander in Iraq.

Richard A. Oppel Jr. contributed reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan.
25017  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: We the unorganized militia on: December 27, 2009, 10:54:24 AM
From an article by Randy Barnett titled, "The Unorganized Militia is Once Again Needed" found on the legal blog, volokh.com.....


According to press reports, a passenger helped subdue the terrorist who was attempting to bring down Northwest #253. This again highlights the importance of the unorganized militia in asymetric warfare. In Saved by the Militia, I offered this analysis in the wake of the success of the general militia on United Airlines #93 in defending Washington from terrorist attack on 9/11:
The characterization of these heroes as members of the militia is not just the opinion of one law professor. It is clearly stated in Federal statutes. Perhaps you will not believe me unless I quote Section 311 of US Code Title 10, entitled, “Militia: composition and classes” in its entirety (with emphases added):
“(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are —
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.”
This is not to score political points at a moment of great tragedy, though had the murderers on these four airplanes been armed with guns rather than knives, reminders of this fact would never end. Rather, that it was militia members who saved whatever was the terrorists’ target — whether the White House or the Capitol — at the cost of their lives points in the direction of practical steps — in some cases the only practical steps — to reduce the damage cause by any future attacks.

You might want to click through to read the whole thing, which includes this:
Here is the cold hard fact of the matter that will be evaded and denied but which must never be forgotten in these discussions: Often — whether on an airplane, subway, cruise ship, or in a high school — only self defense by the “unorganized militia” will be available when domestic or foreign terrorists chose their next moment of murder. And here is the public-policy implication of this fact: It would be better if the militia were more prepared to act when it is needed. (emphasis in original)
And ends with this:
A well-regulated militia does not require a draft or any compulsory training. Nor, as Alexander Hamilton recognized, need training be universal. “To attempt such a thing which would abridge the mass of labor and industry to so considerable extent, would be unwise,” he wrote in Federalist 29, “and the experiment, if made, could not succeed, because it would not long be endured.” But Congress has the constitutional power to create training programs in effective self-defense including training in small arms — marksmanship, tactics, and gun safety — for any American citizen who volunteers. Any guess how many millions would take weapons training at government expense or even for a modest fee if generally offered?
Rather than provide for training and encouraging persons to be able to defend themselves — and to exercise their training responsibly — powerful lobbying groups have and will continue to advocate passivity and disarmament. The vociferous anti-self-defense, anti-gun crusaders of the past decades will not give up now. Instead they will shift our focus to restrictions on American liberties that will be ineffective against future attacks. [snip]
Rather than make war on the American people and their liberties, however, Congress should be looking for ways to empower them to protect themselves when warranted. The Founders knew — and put in the form of a written guarantee — the proposition that the individual right to keep and bear arms was the principal means of preserving a militia that was “essential,” in a free state, to provide personal and collective self-defense against criminals of all stripes, both domestic and foreign.
A renewed commitment to a well-regulated militia would not be a panacea for crime and terrorism, but neither will any other course of action now being recommended or adopted. We have long been told that, in a modern world, the militia is obsolete. Put aside the fact that the importance of the militia to a “the security of a free state” is hardwired into the text of the Constitution. The events of this week have shown that the militia is far from obsolete in a world where war is waged by cells as well as states. It is long past time we heeded the words of the Founders and end the systematic effort to disarm Americans. Now is also the time to consider what it would take in practical terms to well-regulate the now-unorganized militia, so no criminal will feel completely secure when confronting one or more of its members.
In this column, I was not advocating arming passengers on airplanes (though I would not rule out such a policy if properly regulated). My reference to weapons training concerned other sorts of terrorist attacks where weapons are essential for individual and collective self-defense. One recent example is the terrorist attack on Fort Hood–a mandated “gun free zone”–where military and civilians were slaughtered until armed police officers arrived on the scene and were able to incapacitate the attacker using their handguns. Yet another example of how demonized handguns are a useful tool when in the right hands. Lives would have been saved if some of the army and militia members in the kill zone had been armed. Instead of empowering them to act as militia members, however, they became victims.
One reaction to my column was to ridicule the identification of passengers with militia members. (Here some will predictably dismiss the point by noting that this passenger was a Dutchman, not an American.) Of course, if the general militia consists of the able bodied population as a whole, then this is simply what the word “militia” means, though some want to identify the term with the organized militia. (Of course, the U.S. Code should be revised to include women, and even folks my age.) So it is not lost, the point of my column was three fold:
Contrary to what is claimed by many, the need for a militia continues to exist even in a world of hyper-lethal armies, and especially when engaged in asymetric warfare;
Given this need, it would be better that the militia was well-regulated, which is within the enumerated powers of Congress;
This regulation need not entail any conscription, but voluntary training programs so people feel empowered to defend themselves, as Jasper Schuringa on Northwest #253 apparently did (though he reportedly had to dive over more passive passengers to get to the terrorist), and conscious of their responsibilities as militia members to act when an emergency arises that prevents organized law enforcement or military authorities from taking action.
For those who still resist this idea, let me suggest that general militia membership is a socially constructed state of mind and is one to be encouraged and honed rather than discouraged and ridiculed.
25018  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 27, 2009, 10:52:29 AM
Second post:

From an article by Randy Barnett titled, "The Unorganized Militia is Once Again Needed" found on the legal blog, volokh.com.....


According to press reports, a passenger helped subdue the terrorist who was attempting to bring down Northwest #253. This again highlights the importance of the unorganized militia in asymetric warfare. In Saved by the Militia, I offered this analysis in the wake of the success of the general militia on United Airlines #93 in defending Washington from terrorist attack on 9/11:
The characterization of these heroes as members of the militia is not just the opinion of one law professor. It is clearly stated in Federal statutes. Perhaps you will not believe me unless I quote Section 311 of US Code Title 10, entitled, “Militia: composition and classes” in its entirety (with emphases added):
“(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are —
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.”
This is not to score political points at a moment of great tragedy, though had the murderers on these four airplanes been armed with guns rather than knives, reminders of this fact would never end. Rather, that it was militia members who saved whatever was the terrorists’ target — whether the White House or the Capitol — at the cost of their lives points in the direction of practical steps — in some cases the only practical steps — to reduce the damage cause by any future attacks.

You might want to click through to read the whole thing, which includes this:
Here is the cold hard fact of the matter that will be evaded and denied but which must never be forgotten in these discussions: Often — whether on an airplane, subway, cruise ship, or in a high school — only self defense by the “unorganized militia” will be available when domestic or foreign terrorists chose their next moment of murder. And here is the public-policy implication of this fact: It would be better if the militia were more prepared to act when it is needed. (emphasis in original)
And ends with this:
A well-regulated militia does not require a draft or any compulsory training. Nor, as Alexander Hamilton recognized, need training be universal. “To attempt such a thing which would abridge the mass of labor and industry to so considerable extent, would be unwise,” he wrote in Federalist 29, “and the experiment, if made, could not succeed, because it would not long be endured.” But Congress has the constitutional power to create training programs in effective self-defense including training in small arms — marksmanship, tactics, and gun safety — for any American citizen who volunteers. Any guess how many millions would take weapons training at government expense or even for a modest fee if generally offered?
Rather than provide for training and encouraging persons to be able to defend themselves — and to exercise their training responsibly — powerful lobbying groups have and will continue to advocate passivity and disarmament. The vociferous anti-self-defense, anti-gun crusaders of the past decades will not give up now. Instead they will shift our focus to restrictions on American liberties that will be ineffective against future attacks. [snip]
Rather than make war on the American people and their liberties, however, Congress should be looking for ways to empower them to protect themselves when warranted. The Founders knew — and put in the form of a written guarantee — the proposition that the individual right to keep and bear arms was the principal means of preserving a militia that was “essential,” in a free state, to provide personal and collective self-defense against criminals of all stripes, both domestic and foreign.
A renewed commitment to a well-regulated militia would not be a panacea for crime and terrorism, but neither will any other course of action now being recommended or adopted. We have long been told that, in a modern world, the militia is obsolete. Put aside the fact that the importance of the militia to a “the security of a free state” is hardwired into the text of the Constitution. The events of this week have shown that the militia is far from obsolete in a world where war is waged by cells as well as states. It is long past time we heeded the words of the Founders and end the systematic effort to disarm Americans. Now is also the time to consider what it would take in practical terms to well-regulate the now-unorganized militia, so no criminal will feel completely secure when confronting one or more of its members.
In this column, I was not advocating arming passengers on airplanes (though I would not rule out such a policy if properly regulated). My reference to weapons training concerned other sorts of terrorist attacks where weapons are essential for individual and collective self-defense. One recent example is the terrorist attack on Fort Hood–a mandated “gun free zone”–where military and civilians were slaughtered until armed police officers arrived on the scene and were able to incapacitate the attacker using their handguns. Yet another example of how demonized handguns are a useful tool when in the right hands. Lives would have been saved if some of the army and militia members in the kill zone had been armed. Instead of empowering them to act as militia members, however, they became victims.
One reaction to my column was to ridicule the identification of passengers with militia members. (Here some will predictably dismiss the point by noting that this passenger was a Dutchman, not an American.) Of course, if the general militia consists of the able bodied population as a whole, then this is simply what the word “militia” means, though some want to identify the term with the organized militia. (Of course, the U.S. Code should be revised to include women, and even folks my age.) So it is not lost, the point of my column was three fold:
Contrary to what is claimed by many, the need for a militia continues to exist even in a world of hyper-lethal armies, and especially when engaged in asymetric warfare;
Given this need, it would be better that the militia was well-regulated, which is within the enumerated powers of Congress;
This regulation need not entail any conscription, but voluntary training programs so people feel empowered to defend themselves, as Jasper Schuringa on Northwest #253 apparently did (though he reportedly had to dive over more passive passengers to get to the terrorist), and conscious of their responsibilities as militia members to act when an emergency arises that prevents organized law enforcement or military authorities from taking action.
For those who still resist this idea, let me suggest that general militia membership is a socially constructed state of mind and is one to be encouraged and honed rather than discouraged and ridiculed.
25019  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 27, 2009, 10:44:53 AM
Not necessary that and I'd like to ask that we avoid that tone in the future. sad

Returning to the subject at hand, my "libertarian sensibilities" (which I received from our Founding Fathers btw) have nothing to do with the apparent , , , missteps in the case of the moment.

According to reports I saw last night on Greta Van Sustern on FOX (i.e. one hopes for confirmation) the father of the jihadi is the head of the largest bank in Nigeria, is a Muslim and a prominent citizen, reported his own son over a month ago as a jihadi risk. The jihadi apparently has been on some lesser risk lists for some two years now. The jihadi got on the plane in Amsterdam with no luggage and paid cash.  Frankly, it seems like the proper use of intel that was already possessed would have been sufficient to stop this one before it even got going. 

Instead of a demand for bureaucratic competence, apparently the response is that the airlines get to save money by not being allowed to issue pillows and blankets because the jihadi fiddled to set his bomb underwear off under a blanket-- so people with have to bring their jackets on board if they don't want to run the risk of being cold.  Shrewd  rolleyes 

And because he made his attempt in the last hour of a transatlantic flight, we all now will be denied use of the bathroom for the last hour of the flight.  Again, I am not sure of the logic.  If the idea is to screw up the operations of an airport by blowing a plane up over it, tt would seem to me that it would make more sense to blow up the plane as it was taking off i.e. with full gas tanks-- but I am just a lay person winging it on this point.  Regardless, does this no-bathroom-in-the-last-hour rule make sense to you?

Or maybe they should simply pay attention when a father warns them of his son, is on various lists, and pays with cash and gets on with no luggage?  Maybe they should follow the El Al approach?  I'd rather avoid proctology though, thank you very much-- which bring us to my intended point about the Saudi jihadi with the bomb up his anus:t maybe there are some risks which can not be prevented.

Anyway, God bless the American Unorganzed Militia, which saved us once again.
25020  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 26, 2009, 11:32:08 PM
TSA is gathering intel?!?  That is news to me , , ,

Anyway, please do not paint me as an all or nothing cardboard stereotype.  I think I have a pretty good record around here. 
25021  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 26, 2009, 11:08:40 PM
My comments were directed at a society full of soft targets, and our ongoing conversation on this point has had to do with how much the State should have access to/records of our comings and going.  None of this applies here.
25022  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 26, 2009, 11:00:04 PM
And what about this? shocked shocked shocked
=============
 Abdullah Hassan Taleh al-Asiri has a big anus

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
AQAP: Paradigm Shifts and Lessons Learned

September 2, 2009


Stratfor




By Scott Stewart
On the evening of Aug. 28, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the Saudi Deputy Interior Minister — and the man in charge of the kingdom’s counterterrorism efforts — was receiving members of the public in connection with the celebration of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. As part of the Ramadan celebration, it is customary for members of the Saudi royal family to hold public gatherings where citizens can seek to settle disputes or offer Ramadan greetings.

One of the highlights of the Friday gathering was supposed to be the prince’s meeting with Abdullah Hassan Taleh al-Asiri, a Saudi man who was a wanted militant from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al-Asiri had allegedly renounced terrorism and had requested to meet the prince in order to repent and then be accepted into the kingdom’s amnesty program. Such surrenders are not unprecedented — and they serve as great press events for the kingdom’s ideological battle against jihadists. Prince Mohammed, who is responsible for the Saudi rehabilitation program for militants, is a key figure in that ideological battle.

In February, a man who appeared with al-Asiri on Saudi Arabia’s list of most-wanted militants — former Guantanamo Bay inmate Mohammed al-Awfi — surrendered in Yemen and was transported to Saudi Arabia where he renounced terrorism and entered into the kingdom’s amnesty program. Al-Awfi, who had appeared in a January 2009 video issued by the newly created AQAP after the merger of the Saudi and Yemeni nodes of the global jihadist network, was a senior AQAP leader, and his renouncement was a major blow against AQAP.

But the al-Asiri case ended very differently from the al-Awfi case. Unlike al-Awfi, al-Asiri was not a genuine repentant — he was a human Trojan horse. After al-Asiri entered a small room to speak with Prince Mohammed, he activated a small improvised explosive device (IED) he had been carrying inside his anal cavity. The resulting explosion ripped al-Asiri to shreds but only lightly injured the shocked prince — the target of al-Asiri’s unsuccessful assassination attempt.

While the assassination proved unsuccessful, AQAP had been able to shift the operational paradigm in a manner that allowed them to achieve tactical surprise. The surprise was complete and the Saudis did not see the attack coming — the operation could have succeeded had it been better executed.

The kind of paradigm shift evident in this attack has far-reaching implications from a protective-intelligence standpoint, and security services will have to adapt in order to counter the new tactics employed. The attack also allows some important conclusions to be drawn about AQAP’s ability to operate inside Saudi Arabia.
Paradigm Shifts

Militants conducting terrorist attacks and the security services attempting to guard against such attacks have long engaged in a tactical game of cat and mouse. As militants adopt new tactics, security measures are then implemented to counter those tactics. The security changes then cause the militants to change in response and the cycle begins again. These changes can include using different weapons, employing weapons in a new way or changing the type of targets selected.

Sometimes, militants will implement a new tactic or series of tactics that is so revolutionary that it completely changes the framework of assumptions — or the paradigm — under which the security forces operate. Historically, al Qaeda and its jihadist progeny have proved to be very good at understanding the security paradigm and then developing tactics intended to exploit vulnerabilities in that paradigm in order to launch surprise attacks. For example:
•Prior to the 9/11 attacks, it was inconceivable that a large passenger aircraft would be used as a manually operated cruise missile. Hence, security screeners allowed box cutters to be carried onto aircraft, which were then used by the hijackers to take over the planes.
•The use of faux journalists to assassinate Ahmed Shah Masood with suicide IEDs hidden in their camera gear was also quite inventive.
•Had Richard Reid been able to light the fuse on his shoe bomb, we might still be wondering what happened to American Airlines Flight 63.
•The boat bomb employed against the USS Cole in October 2000 was another example of a paradigm shift that resulted in tactical surprise.
Once the element of tactical surprise is lost, however, the new tactics can be countered.
•When the crew and passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 learned what had happened to the other flights hijacked and flown to New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, they stormed the cockpit and stopped the hijackers from using their aircraft in an attack. Aircraft cockpit doors have also been hardened and other procedural measures have been put in place to make 9/11-style suicide hijackings harder to pull off.
•Following the Masood assassination, journalists have been given very close scrutiny before being allowed into the proximity of a VIP.
•The traveling public has felt the impact of the Reid shoe-bombing attempt by being forced to remove their shoes every time they pass through airport security. And the thwarted 2006 Heathrow plot has resulted in limits on the size of liquid containers travelers can take aboard aircraft.
•The U.S. Navy is now very careful to guard against small craft pulling up alongside its warships.
Let’s now take a look at the paradigm shift marked by the Prince Mohammed assassination attempt.
, , ,
25023  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: December 26, 2009, 06:52:49 PM
Said with love, but aren't you (and I) the fellow(s) who predicted here some months ago that the DOW would hit 6,000? cheesy

That said, you may be entirely right.  OTOH, I remember the vicious collapse of gold in the late 70s when interest rates sky-rocketed-- and IMHO a REAL good case can be made that such will be the case REAL soon, with a speed and viciousness that will leave non-pros like you and me in the dust.
25024  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 26, 2009, 06:49:42 PM
Agreed!

Nor is putting everthing in the hands of an omniscient police power.
25025  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 26, 2009, 06:34:48 PM
As best as I can tell, the simple fact is this:  We are an open society and as such are full of soft targets.  We'd best look to ourselves to protect ourselves.  As the saying goes "I carry a gun because a policeman is to heavy to carry."

(for the record, as a subject of the People's Republic of California in Los Angeles I am not allowed to carry a gun and so do not-- this is a factor that weighs heavily upon my considerations to leave California)
25026  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SF in Afpakia on: December 26, 2009, 04:23:45 PM
December 27, 2009

Elite U.S. Force Expanding Hunt in Afghanistan

By ERIC SCHMITT
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan


Secretive branches of the military’s Special Operations forces have increased counterterrorism missions against some of the most lethal groups in Afghanistan and, because of their success, plan an even bigger expansion next year, according to American commanders.

The commandos, from the Army’s Delta Force and the Navy’s classified Seals units, have had success weakening the network of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the strongest Taliban warrior in eastern Afghanistan, the officers said. Mr. Haqqani’s group has used its bases in neighboring Pakistan to carry out deadly strikes in and around Kabul, the Afghan capital.

Guided by intercepted cellphone communications, the American commandos have also killed some important Taliban operatives in Marja, the most fearsome Taliban stronghold in Helmand Province in the south, the officers said. Marine commanders say they believe that there are some 1,000 fighters holed up in the town.

Although President Obama and his top aides have not publicly discussed these highly classified missions as part of the administration’s revamped strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the counterterrorism operations are expected to increase, along with the deployment of 30,000 more American forces in the next year.

The increased counterterrorism operations over the past three or four months reflect growth in every part of the Afghanistan campaign, including conventional forces securing the population, other troops training and partnering with Afghan security forces, and more civilians to complement and capitalize on security gains.

American commanders in Afghanistan rely on the commando units to carry out some of the most complicated operations against militant leaders, and the missions are never publicly acknowledged. The commandos are the same elite forces that have been pursuing Osama bin Laden, captured Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003 and led the hunt that ended in 2006 in the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader in Iraq of the insurgent group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

In recent interviews here, commanders explained that the special-mission units from the Joint Special Operations Command were playing a pivotal role in degrading some of the toughest militant groups, and buying some time before American reinforcements arrived and more Afghan security forces could be trained.

“They are extremely effective in the areas where we are focused,” said one American general in Afghanistan about the commandos, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the classified status of the missions.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, who is in charge of the military’s Central Command, mentioned the increased focus on counterterrorism operations in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Dec. 9. But he spoke more obliquely about the teams actually conducting attacks against hard-core Taliban extremists, particularly those in rural areas outside the reach of population centers that conventional forces will focus on.

“We actually will be increasing our counterterrorist component of the overall strategy,” General Petraeus told lawmakers. “There’s no question you’ve got to kill or capture those bad guys that are not reconcilable. And we are intending to do that, and we will have additional national mission force elements to do that when the spring rolls around.”

Senior military officials say it is not surprising that the commandos are playing such an important role in the fight, particularly because Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the senior American and NATO officer in Afghanistan, led the Joint Special Operations Command for five years.

In addition to the classified American commando missions, military officials say that other NATO special operations forces have teamed up with Afghan counterparts to attack Taliban bomb-making networks and other militant cells.

About six weeks ago, allied and Afghan special operations forces killed about 150 Taliban fighters in several villages near Kunduz, in northern Afghanistan, a senior NATO military official said.

Some missions have killed Taliban fighters while searching for Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, who was reported missing on June 30 in eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban in July posted a video on jihadist Web sites in which the soldier identified himself and said that he had been captured when he lagged behind on a patrol. A second video was released on Friday.

“We’ve been hitting them hard, but I want to be careful not to overstate our progress,” said the NATO official, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to describe the operations in detail. “It has not yet been decisive.”

In Helmand, more than 10,000 Marines, as well as Afghan and British forces, are gearing up for a major confrontation in Marja early next year. Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, the senior Marine commander in the south, said in a recent interview, “The overt message we’re putting out is, Marja is next.”

General Nicholson said there were both “kinetic and nonkinetic shaping operations” under way. In military parlance that means covert operations, including stealthy commando raids against specific targets, as well as an overt propaganda campaign intended to persuade some Taliban fighters to defect.

Military officials say the commandos are mindful of General McChrystal’s directive earlier this year to take additional steps to prevent civilian casualties.

In February, before General McChrystal was named to his current position, the head of the Joint Special Operations Command, Vice Adm. William H. McRaven, ordered a halt to most commando missions in Afghanistan, reflecting a growing concern that civilian deaths caused by American firepower were jeopardizing broader goals there.

The halt, which lasted about two weeks, came after a series of nighttime raids by Special Operations troops killed women and children, and after months of mounting outrage in Afghanistan about civilians killed in air and ground attacks. The order covered all commando missions except those against the top leaders of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, military officials said.

Across the border in Pakistan, where American commandos are not permitted to operate, the Central Intelligence Agency has stepped up its missile strikes by Predator and Reaper drones on groups like the Haqqani network.

But an official with Pakistan’s main spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or I.S.I., said there had also been more than 60 joint operations involving the I.S.I. and the C.I.A. in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Baluchistan in the past year.

The official said the missions included “snatch and grabs” — the abduction of important militants — as well as efforts to kill leaders. These operations were based on intelligence provided by either the United States or Pakistan to be used against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the official said.

“We can expect to see more U.S. action against Haqqani,” a senior American diplomat in Pakistan said in a recent interview.

The increasing tempo of commando operations in Afghanistan has caused some strains with other American commanders. Many of the top Special Operations forces, as well as intelligence analysts and surveillance aircraft, are being moved to Afghanistan from Iraq, as the Iraq war begins to wind down.

“It’s caused some tensions over resources,” said Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., the second-ranking commander in Iraq.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/27/wo...gewanted=print
25027  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The coming clusterfcuk on: December 26, 2009, 02:31:01 PM
I just posted two important articles on the P&R thread "political economics" each of which makes a strong prima facie argument that CA and the US are already bankrupt.

IF we assume that a major spike in interest rates is coming, what investments will be helped? hurt?  Anyone remember what happened during the Volcker interest spike of the late 70s-early 80s?
25028  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stansberry: The bankruptcy of the US on: December 26, 2009, 02:12:53 PM
The Bankruptcy of the United States
By Porter Stansberry
From the November 23, 2009, S&A Digest

It's one of those numbers that's so unbelievable you have to actually think about it for a while... Within the next 12 months, the U.S. Treasury will have to refinance $2 trillion in short-term debt. And that's not counting any additional deficit spending, which is estimated to be around $1.5 trillion. Put the two numbers together. Then ask yourself, how in the world can the Treasury borrow $3.5 trillion in only one year? That's an amount equal to nearly 30% of our entire GDP. And we're the world's biggest economy. Where will the money come from?

How did we end up with so much short-term debt? Like most entities that have far too much debt – whether subprime borrowers, GM, Fannie, or GE – the U.S. Treasury has tried to minimize its interest burden by borrowing for short durations and then "rolling over" the loans when they come due. As they say on Wall Street, "a rolling debt collects no moss." What they mean is, as long as you can extend the debt, you have no problem.

Unfortunately, that leads folks to take on ever greater amounts of debt... at ever shorter durations... at ever lower interest rates. Sooner or later, the creditors wake up and ask themselves: What are the chances I will ever actually be repaid? And that's when the trouble starts. Interest rates go up dramatically. Funding costs soar. The party is over. Bankruptcy is next.

When governments go bankrupt it's called "a default." Currency speculators figured out how to accurately predict when a country would default. Two well-known economists – Alan Greenspan and Pablo Guidotti – published the secret formula in a 1999 academic paper. That's why the formula is called the Greenspan-Guidotti rule. The rule states: To avoid a default, countries should maintain hard currency reserves equal to at least 100% of their short-term foreign debt maturities.

The world's largest money management firm, PIMCO, explains the rule this way: "The minimum benchmark of reserves equal to at least 100% of short-term external debt is known as the Greenspan-Guidotti rule. Greenspan-Guidotti is perhaps the single concept of reserve adequacy that has the most adherents and empirical support."

The principle behind the rule is simple. If you can't pay off all of your foreign debts in the next 12 months, you're a terrible credit risk. Speculators are going to target your bonds and your currency, making it impossible to refinance your debts. A default is assured.

So how does America rank on the Greenspan-Guidotti scale? It's a guaranteed default. The U.S. holds gold, oil, and foreign currency in reserve. The U.S. has 8,133.5 metric tonnes of gold (it is the world's largest holder). That's 16,267,000 pounds. At current dollar values, it's worth around $300 billion. The U.S. strategic petroleum reserve shows a current total position of 725 million barrels. At current dollar prices, that's roughly $58 billion worth of oil. And according to the IMF, the U.S. has $136 billion in foreign currency reserves. So altogether... that's around $500 billion of reserves. Our short-term foreign debts are far bigger.

According to the U.S. Treasury, $2 trillion worth of debt will mature in the next 12 months. So looking only at short-term debt, we know the Treasury will have to finance at least $2 trillion worth of maturing debt in the next 12 months. That might not cause a crisis if we were still funding our national debt internally. But since 1985, we've been a net debtor to the world. Today, foreigners own 44% of all our debts, which means we owe foreign creditors at least $880 billion in the next 12 months – an amount far larger than our reserves.

Keep in mind, this only covers our existing debts. The Office of Management and Budget is predicting a $1.5 trillion budget deficit over the next year. That puts our total funding requirements on the order of $3.5 trillion over the next 12 months.

So... where will the money come from? Total domestic savings in the U.S. are only around $600 billion annually. Even if we all put every penny of our savings into U.S. Treasury debt, we're still going to come up nearly $3 trillion short. That's an annual funding requirement equal to roughly 40% of GDP. Where is the money going to come from? From our foreign creditors? Not according to Greenspan-Guidotti. And not according to the Indian or Russian central banks, which have stopped buying Treasury bills and begun to buy enormous amounts of gold. The Indians bought 200 metric tonnes this month. Sources in Russia say the central bank there will double its gold reserves.

So where will the money come from? The printing press. The Federal Reserve has already monetized nearly $2 trillion worth of Treasury debt and mortgage debt. This weakens the value of the dollar and devalues our existing Treasury bonds. Sooner or later, our creditors will face a stark choice: Hold our bonds and continue to see the value diminish slowly, or try to escape to gold and see the value of their U.S. bonds plummet.

One thing they're not going to do is buy more of our debt. Which central banks will abandon the dollar next? Brazil, Korea, and Chile. These are the three largest central banks that own the least amount of gold. None own even 1% of their total reserves in gold.
25029  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 26, 2009, 02:04:14 PM
The US is a plethora of soft, yet important targets.  For example, not too many miles from my home there is the LA-Long Beach harbor, which is the largest port on the west coast of the western hemisphere and through which travels some 40% of America's imports IIRC-- not to mention the various refineries in the area.
25030  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What happens when California defaults? on: December 26, 2009, 11:13:07 AM
What Happens When California Defaults?
by Bill Watkins 12/16/2009

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office recently reported that the State faces a $21 billion shortfall in the current as well as the next fiscal year. That’s a problem, a really big problem. My young son would say it was a ginormous problem. In fact, it may be an insurmountable problem.

Our governor and legislature used every trick in their books when they created the most recent budget. They even resorted to mandatory interest-free loans from the taxpayers. Now, they have no idea where to go. The Democrats have declared that they will not allow budget cuts. The Republicans will not allow tax increases. They have probably run out of smoke and mirrors, although their ability to engage in budget gimmickry is enough to make an Enron accountant blush. No one is considering raising revenues by increasing economic activity.

In my opinion, California is now more likely to default than it is to not default. It is not a certainty, but it is a possibility that is increasingly likely.

Then what?

Ideally, we’d see a court-supervised, orderly bankruptcy similar to what we see when a company defaults. All creditors, including direct lenders, vendors, employees, pensioners, and more would share in the losses based on established precedent and law. Perhaps salaries would be reduced. Some programs could see significant changes. This is distressing, but it is better than other options.

Unfortunately, a formal bankruptcy is not the likely scenario. There is no provision for it in the law. Consequently, absent framework and rules of bankruptcy, the eventual default is likely to be very messy, contentious and political.

Other states have defaulted. Nine states defaulted on credit obligations in the 1840s. Most of those states eventually repaid all of their creditors (see William E. English "Understanding the Costs of Sovereign Default: U.S. State Debts in the 1840s," American Economic Review, vol. 86 (March 1996), pp. 259-75.) Unfortunately, the examples in the 1840s are not much help in anticipating the impacts of a modern default. Circumstances are different, and things have changed, a lot.

We’re left with the question: what happens when California defaults?

The worst case would be the mother of all financial crises. According to the California State Treasurer’s office, California has over $68 billion in public debt, but the Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters has tried to count total California public debt, including that of local municipalities, and his total reaches $500 billion. Whatever the amount, the impact of default could be larger than the debt amount would imply. Other states – New York, Illinois, New Jersey, for example – are in almost as bad shape as California, and they could follow California’s example. The realization that a state could default would shock markets every bit as much as when Lehman Brothers failed. Given the precarious state of our economy and the financial sector, another fiscal crisis would be disastrous, with impacts far beyond California’s borders.

What would a California default look like? In a sense, we’ve already seen California default, when that state issued vouchers. If any company tried that, they would be in bankruptcy court in days. Issuing vouchers didn’t trigger a California crisis because banks were willing to honor the vouchers. If banks refuse to honor the vouchers next time, employees and vendors won’t be paid, and state operations will come to a halt. This could happen if our legislature locks up and is unable to act on the current $21 billion problem.

Another possible California scenario is that the State will try to sell or roll over some debt, and no one buys it. Already, we’ve seen California officials surprised with the interest rates they have had to pay. What happens if no one buys California’s debt? We saw last September what happens when lenders refuse to lend to large creditors.

If we continue on the current path, the worst case is also the more likely case. Bad news keeps dribbling out. One day we find we are paying 30-percent-higher-than-anticipated interest on a bond issue. A few days later, we find the budget shortfall is billions of dollars higher than projected just a short time ago. Every month brings new bad news. The risk that one of those news events triggers a crisis grows with every news event.

Given California’s recent history, it is difficult to believe that the people with the authority and responsibility for California’s finances can act responsibly, but that is what we need. Responsible action would be creating a gimmick-free budget that places California finances on a sustainable path, and provides an environment that allows for opportunity and job creation. But, sadly, Sacramento probably cannot draft an honest balanced budget, and will thus need to plan for California’s eventual default. They need to work with Federal Government and Federal Reserve Bank officials to insure a coordinated plan to limit damage to financial markets. That plan needs to be ready to release when markets go crazy, which is exactly what could happen when participants realize that default is possible. It could be needed sooner than they think.

Bill Watkins is a professor at California Lutheran University and runs the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting, which can be found at clucerf.org.
25031  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Northwest Flight 253 on: December 26, 2009, 09:46:36 AM
http://www.northstarnational.com/2009/12/26/northwest-flight-253-passengers-terror-attempt-courtesy-wxyz-tv-detroit/
25032  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Woman defends self, one dead on: December 26, 2009, 04:43:30 AM
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_c...int=1&page=all
Woman fatally knifes thug in subway attack, then flees on F train

BY Kerry Burke and John Lauinger
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Friday, December 25th 2009, 1:33 AM

Several thugs tried to drag a woman off a Queens subway train Thursday night, but she fought back and fatally stabbed one of her tormenters before fleeing on another train, police said. The large group of men - perhaps as many as eight - surrounded the woman outside a chicken restaurant above the 21st St.-Queensbridge station about 9 p.m., police and a witness said.  The harassment, which may have included unwanted sexual advances toward the woman and grabbing, continued as she entered the subway station.  The woman broke free from the men and frantically ran down to the platform and hopped on an F train, with the thugs right behind.

"They tried to physically drag her off the train, but she fights back," one cop said.

The struggle continued as the group pulled her off the train and dragged her up the stairs to the mezzanine level.  At one point, the woman stabbed one of her attackers - identified by family as Thomas Winston, 29 - multiple times in the chest.  The woman then sprinted back down to the platform - with the thugs in hot pursuit, said witness Ricardo Josephs, 41.

"Seven or eight of them were chasing the woman," said Josephs, an MTA employee.  "They all jumped over the turnstiles after her. She got on the Queens [-bound F] train. They tried to grab her; they tried to hold the train - but she got away."

Winston, who lives in a nearby shelter and has a 10-month-old daughter, was pronounced dead at a Manhattan hospital.

The woman was still in the wind Thursday night, police said. One police source said investigators suspect the woman was acting in self-defense.

Winston has numerous prior arrests, including several raps for sale of narcotics, most recently in September.

Winston's aunt, Diane Greenspan, who has custody of his child, was stunned by his death.

"It's terrible, just terrible - on Christmas Eve!" she said, despairingly.

kburke@nydailynews.com
============
Stabbing in Queens Leaves Man Dead, a Girl in Flight and Families in Grief

By A. G. SULZBERGER and KAREEM FAHIM
Published: December 25, 2009
NYTimes/POTH (Note reporter's anme-- this family used to own the NYTimes.  Also note the efforts at moral equivalence)

Erika Brown was waiting for her 16-year-old daughter to return from the chicken and pizza restaurant down the street around 9 p.m. Thursday when a man banged loudly on her door, shouting. Ms. Brown could make out only a few words — her daughter’s name, something about a man, something about a knife. Out her window, she saw a crowd gathered outside the restaurant, the scene lit with the glow of police cars.


 



The painful flood of details followed as Ms. Brown ran to the restaurant. Her daughter Cyan, a high school sophomore, who everyone says looks just like her mother, had apparently been harassed while ordering food, by a group of neighborhood men who later chased her into the subway. One of the men, Thomas Winston, 29, now lay dead on the street, stabbed in the chest.

Hours later, a frightened, tearful Cyan called her older sister, Lynnea Adams, 21, and told her that a man had tried to push himself on her, and that she had pulled out a knife.
“She didn’t mean for that to happen, but at the same time she had to protect herself,” Ms. Adams said Friday.

Several blocks away, Diane Greenspan spent Christmas Eve waiting for her nephew, the father of the 10-month-old baby she was raising, to come by with presents. Instead, she, too, got a call from a distraught relative, who was crying so much it took her a while to understand what he was saying. The nephew, Mr. Winston, an aspiring rapper who has been arrested numerous times on weapons and drug charges, had bled to death outside Big New York Fried Chicken & Pizza, just above the 21st Street-Queensbridge stop on the F train in Queens.

“He said he was on his way, but he never made it,” Ms. Greenspan said Friday, her voice muted with a mix of disbelief and stoicism. “He was a person at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

And so two families who live in public housing projects in Long Island City spent Christmas sorting through tangled accounts of an ugly fight that left a young father dead and a teenage schoolgirl on the run.

A police spokesman said that the events began with a physical confrontation between a woman and a group of six to eight men, and that the group eventually chased the woman onto the subway platform and pulled her off of a Queens-bound F train.

On the platform, the police said, the woman stabbed Mr. Winston in the chest, then fled, possibly getting on a Manhattan-bound F train. As of Friday evening, there had been no arrests, and the weapon had not been recovered; Ms. Brown said the police had not spoken to her or Cyan.

Friends of Mr. Winston’s who said they witnessed the incident, however, said the stabbing took place above ground, and the girl fled into the subway station afterward, trailed by a group of men, who tried to catch her before she jumped on a train.

Lionell Cooper, 36, a rapper who said he had recorded and performed with Mr. Winston, said he watched as Mr. Winston stumbled backward out of the chicken place, tripped over a snowbank and fell, bleeding, into the street. He stood up, fell again to all fours and then crawled a short distance, Mr. Cooper added.
“He collapsed right here,” he said, pointing to blood stains on the street. “I got paper towels from the store and pressed them against his wound,” he added. “He just lost too much blood.”

On Friday morning, Mr. Winston’s friends placed two cardboard boxes marked “R.I.P.” at the spot just above the entrance to the subway station where Mr. Winston had collapsed. As the day progressed, people filled them with candles, most bearing Mr. Winston’s stage name, Black Box. In the morning cold, they talked to each other of sorrow, disbelief and anger.
“I’m not saying he was an angel,” said Waren Davis, 47. “But if he was your friend, he was your friend.”

One woman with swollen eyes placed a candle in the box, then cleaned the trash from the piles of snow on the sidewalk. She poured hot water from coffee cups to wash away some of the blood that still stained the street.

Back at Ms. Greenspan’s first-floor home, while Mr. Winston’s daughter giggled and played, relatives, including Mr. Winston’s grandmother, mourned a life they felt was on the mend after trouble with the law and homelessness. “He was trying to get his life together so he could get his child back,” Ms. Greenspan said.

Several blocks away at Ms. Brown’s fifth-floor apartment, the sorrow was for a young girl’s loss of innocence and the difficult, uncertain road that lay before her. Ms. Brown and Ms. Adams said that Cyan had not had previous problems with the law, and that they did not know why she would have had a knife. They said they knew she must turn herself in, but worried the family would suffer retaliation.
“She’s a young girl,” her sister said. “She’s a child.”

Alain Delaquérière and Sarah Maslin Nir contributed reporting.
========
"Queensbridge station on the F line is also the bus transfer stop for the r110 bus to rikers island, a prison. There are a lot of halfway houses in that area too."
25033  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH on cell-phone searches on: December 26, 2009, 04:29:02 AM

Published: December 25, 2009
The Ohio Supreme Court has struck an important blow for privacy rights, ruling that the police need a warrant to search a cellphone. The court rightly recognized that cellphones today are a lot more than just telephones, that they hold a wealth of personal information and that the privacy interest in them is considerable. This was the first such ruling from a state supreme court. It is a model for other courts to follow.

PrivacySearches generally require warrants, but courts have carved out limited categories in which they are not needed. One of these is that police officers are allowed, when they arrest people, to search them and the area immediately surrounding them, as well as some kinds of containers in their possession.

When the police arrested Antwaun Smith on drug charges they seized his cellphone and searched it, examining his call records. The police did not have a warrant or the consent of Mr. Smith.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled this month, by a 4-to-3 vote, that the search violated the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Rather than seeing a cellphone as a simple closed container, the majority noted that modern cellphones — especially ones that permit Internet access — are “capable of storing a wealth of digitized information.”

This is information, the court said, for which people reasonably have a high expectation of privacy, and under established Fourth Amendment principles, police officers must get a search warrant before they can look through call logs or examine other data. The court wisely decided that it made no sense to try to distinguish among various kinds of cellphones based on what specific functions they have. All cellphones, the court said, fall under the search warrant requirement.

Few federal courts have considered the issue of cellphone searches, and they have disagreed about whether a warrant should be required. The Ohio ruling eloquently makes the case for why the very personal information that new forms of technology aggregate must be accorded a significant degree of privacy.
25034  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Low interest rates on: December 26, 2009, 04:24:34 AM
Even though it is POTH, a point of major importance is finally noticed-- that low interest rates destroy savers.   Because it is POTH, "capitalism" is blamed, but the true name is "liberal fascism".  The destruction of savings due to government meddling (which includes programs which "protect" people from the natural responsibility to save for emergencies, old age, etc.) is one of the most profound underlying vehicles for the destruction of the American free market and one of the most profound enabling tactics for the implementation of liberal fascism.  Now that govt. deficits look ready to kick it in with interest rates, POTH finally notices that savers are hurt.

==============================================
At Tiny Rates, Saving Money Costs Investors Recommend
By STEPHANIE STROM
Published: December 25, 2009
Millions of Americans are paying a high price for a safe place to put their money: extremely low interest rates on savings accounts and certificates of deposit.

Joe Parks, a retired accountant in Houston who sits on the volunteer advisory board of Better Investing, said that with low interest rates and fees, retirees and the elderly could take anywhere from a half to three-quarters of a percent cut in their incomes. Joe Parks, a retired accountant, said retirees and the elderly would take up to a three-quarters of a percent cut in income. The elderly and others on fixed incomes have been especially hard hit. Many have seen returns on savings, C.D.’s and government bonds drop to niggling amounts recently, often costing them money once inflation, fees and taxes are considered.

“Open a Savings Plus Account today and get a great rate,” read an advertisement in the Dec. 16 Newsday for Citibank, which was then offering 1.2 percent for an account. (As low as it was, the offer was good only for accounts of $25,000 and up.)

“They’re advertising it in the papers as if they’re actually proud of that,” said Steven Weisman, a title insurance consultant in New York. “It’s a joke.”

The advertised rate for the Savings Plus account has expired, according to the bank’s Web site; as of Friday, the account paid an interest rate of 0.5 percent. The bank’s highest-yield savings account, the Ultimate, was paying 1.01 percent.

The best deal Mr. Weisman has found is 2 percent on a one-year certificate of deposit offered by ING Direct, an online bank that has become a bit of a darling among the fixed-income crowd.

Interest on one- and two-year Treasury notes was just 0.40 percent and 0.89 percent, as of Monday. Bank of America offers 0.35 percent on a standard money market account with $10,000 to $25,000, and Wells Fargo will pay 0.05 percent on a basic savings account.

Indeed, after fees are subtracted, inflation is accounted for and taxes are paid, many investors in C.D.’s, government bonds and savings and money market accounts are losing money. In fact, Northern Trust waived some $8 million in fees on money market accounts because they would have wiped out all interest, and then some.

“The unemployment situation and the general downturn in the economy had an impact, but what’s going to happen now as C.D.’s mature is that retirees and the elderly are going to take anywhere from a half to three-quarters of a percent cut in their incomes,” said Joe Parks, a retired accountant in Houston on the advisory board of Better Investing, an organization that works to help people become savvier investors. “It’s a real problem.”

Experts say risk-averse investors are effectively financing a second bailout of financial institutions, many of which have also raised fees and interest rates on credit cards.

“What the average citizen doesn’t explicitly understand is that a significant part of the government’s plan to repair the financial system and the economy is to pay savers nothing and allow damaged financial institutions to earn a nice, guaranteed spread,” said William H. Gross, co-chief investment officer of the Pacific Investment Management Company, or Pimco. “It’s capitalism, I guess, but it’s not to be applauded.”

Mr. Gross said he read his monthly portfolio statement twice because he could not believe that the line “Yield on cash” was 0.01 percent. At that rate, he said, it would take him 6,932 years to double his money.

Many think the Federal Reserve is fueling a stock market bubble by keeping rates so low that investors decide to bet on stocks instead. Mr. Parks of Better Investing moved more money into the stock market early this year, when C.D.’s he held began maturing and he could not nearly recover the income they had generated by rolling them over.

He began investing some of the money in blue chip stocks with a dividend yield of at least 3 percent and even managed to find an oil-and-gas limited partnership that offered 8 percent.

Mr. Parks said, however, that he would not pursue that strategy as more of his C.D.’s matured. “What worked in the first quarter of this year isn’t as relevant, because the market has come up so much,” he said.

No one is advising a venture into higher-risk investments. Katie Nixon, chief investment officer for the northeast region at Northern Trust, said that, in general, “no one should be taking risks with their pillow money.”

“What people are paying for is safety and security,” she said, “and that’s probably just right.”

People who rely on income from such investments for support, however, are being forced to consider new options.

Eileen Lurie, 75, is taking out a reverse mortgage to help offset the decline in returns on her investments tied to interest rates. Reverse mortgages have a checkered reputation, but Ms. Lurie said her bank was going out of its way to explain the product to her.

“These banks don’t want to be held responsible for thousands of seniors standing in bread lines,” she said.

Such mortgages allow people who are 62 and older to convert equity in their homes into cash tax-free and without any impact on Social Security or Medicare payments. The loans are repaid after death.

“If your assets aren’t appreciating and aren’t producing any income, you’re getting eaten up in this interest rate environment,” said Peter Strauss, a lawyer who advises the elderly. “A reverse mortgage is one way of making a very large asset produce income.”

Eve Wilmore, 93, has watched returns on her C.D.’s drop to between 1 percent and 2 percent from about 5 percent a year or so ago. Yet the Social Security Administration recently raised her Medicare Part B premium based on those higher rates she had been earning. “I’m being hit from both sides,” Mrs. Wilmore said. “There’s some way I can apply for a reconsideration, and I’m going to fight it. I have to.”

She said she was reluctant to redeploy her money into higher-risk investments. “I don’t know what my medical bills will be from here on in, and so I want to keep the money where I can get to it easily if I need it,” she said.

Peter Gomori, who taught a course on money and investing for Dorot, a nonprofit that offers services for the elderly, did not advise his students on investment strategies but said that if he had, he would probably have told them to sit tight.

“I know interest rates are very low for Treasury securities and bank products, but that isn’t going to be forever,” he said.

But investment professionals doubt rates will rise any time soon — or to any level close to those before the crash.

“What the futures market is telling me,” Mr. Gross said, “is that in April 2011, these savers that are currently earning nothing will be earning 1.25 percent.”
25035  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Major-General Miloslav Kaspar on: December 26, 2009, 04:16:12 AM
Major-General Miloslav Kaspar
Major-General Miloslav Kaspar, who has died aged 95, fought with Czechoslovak forces in eastern Europe and France during the Second World War, and was responsible for choosing the team which assassinated Reinhard Heydrich, the SS governor of Prague in 1942; after the war he served as an intelligence officer with Deuxième Bureau and MI5.
 
Published: 7:53PM GMT 25 Dec 2009

In March 1939 Kaspar was with his first regiment in the Slovak capital of Bratislava when the Wehrmacht marched in to proclaim the Czech provinces of Bohemia and Moravia a German protectorate. Setting out immediately for Warsaw, he joined a Polish military intelligence unit which sent him on a training course. Three weeks later he was smuggled into Prague to command a Czech unit spying on the enemy.

On April 20 he produced a report on the troops and heavy armour in a parade to celebrate Hitler's birthday. He wrote it on wet paper, so that the message became invisible when it dried, and accompanied it with an innocuous note.

 
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Major-General Antonin PetrakWhen his brother Pepa, an engineer, told him details of the Soviet-German pact which he had overheard while checking phone lines, Kaspar immediately led his comrades back to Poland. There they joined the Czechoslovak Legion, formed by Lieutenant-Colonel Ludvik Svoboda, and were captured by the Russians invading from the east as the Germans poured in from the west. Kaspar found himself moved to a series of Soviet prison camps previously occupied by Poles, whose graffiti ominously stopped in March 1940 (when the Russians carried out the Katyn massacre).

On being released when Russian-German relations deteriorated, he and his companions were sent to the Crimea, deloused, and dispatched to France to take part in the fighting at Coulommiers on the Marne. But they were forced to retreat south.

On coming to a badly bombed bridge over the Loire, Kaspar organised his men to carry across munitions and gun parts under fire, for which he was awarded the Croix de Guerre. When he reached the sea, the sight of Admiral Somerville's fleet departing to challenge the French at Mers-el-Kebir convinced him for the first time that victory was possible.

After the French surrender, Kaspar arrived in Britain, becoming an interpreter and instructor to the London Scottish and the South Staffords. As an intelligence officer with the Czechoslovak Legion he also helped to choose the team to assassinate the German governor Reinhard Heydrich in Prague in 1942. It was while stationed near Royal Leamington Spa that he met Paulette Pegg, the daughter of a Ministry of Health inspector, whom he married in 1944.

After escorting the exiled Czechoslovak government in London to Slovakia via the Black Sea early the following year, Kaspar was given a battalion for the 300-mile advance on Prague; he took the town of Vsetin, earning a Medal for Valour, and helped the Romanians fight off a German attack on a village under the Tatra mountains, for which he was appointed a knight of the Royal Order of the Star of Romania.

His brother Tonda, who was in a Prague prison, was taunted by guards who told him that there was no chance of Miloslav riding to his rescue on a white horse – so he was delighted to hear that Mila had appeared in Prague on a grey. But their elder brother Pepa was captured bringing ammunition to the barricades on the streets, and killed by SS men in front of his wife and daughter.

When the ceasefire was established Kaspar helped to transfer the Sudeten Germans back to Germany, then studied at the Czechoslovak military war academy for a year before becoming professor of tactics at the staff college. When the communists took over in February 1948, however, he was sacked. He quickly dispatched his wife back to England, and crossed the mountains into Bavaria the next night.

The son of a local official, Miloslav Frantisek Kaspar was born in Prague on February 12 1914 and went to the Realka grammar school. An excellent football player, he was offered a contract by Sparta, but he elected instead to go to the army officers' college at Hranice in Moravia. He found time to visit the Folies Bergère in Paris, where he saw both Maurice Chevalier and Josephine Baker, whose banana striptease became one of his party tricks in later life. But he also earned sufficiently high marks to be able to choose his regiment, the 39th Infantry.

After leaving Czechoslovakia in 1948, Kaspar joined his wife in Britain, where he accepted an invitation from the wartime Czechoslovak defence minister, Sergej Ingr, to continue in military intelligence. He worked first for Deuxième Bureau in Paris and Innsbruck, where he was involved in running agents behind the Iron Curtain, then moved to MI5 in Cyprus before going to Beirut, where he called himself Miles Kingdon of Skyways Airways.

On returning to Britain, Kaspar became an export manager for Ranco, a refrigeration company, and then Anglo-Nordic, which sold central heating. When he retired in 1978 he became chairman and then president of the Association of Czechoslovak Legionnaires Abroad, editing its magazine Osvobozeni (Liberation).

As the Soviet Union crumbled in the 1980s he wrote, with Josef Bursik (a Czech hero of the Soviet Union who had fought with the Russians during the war), an open letter to President Gorbachev asking for the return of Carpatho-Ruthenia, which Stalin had annexed. Sir Geoffrey Howe, the Foreign Secretary, thanked them, but there was no Soviet response.

When the Communist regime in Prague fell with the Velvet Revolution, Kaspar was offered promotion to the rank of major-general.

He turned it down because it came from a defence minister who was a former communist, but accepted the offer when it was renewed by President Havel.

Returning to Prague after almost 50 years, he found few relations and a country greatly changed by communist rule. He spent his last years in Surrey and Oxfordshire.

Mila Kaspar, who died on November 4, is survived by his wife and three sons.
25036  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cleansing Rituals on: December 25, 2009, 07:35:42 PM
Though its perspective is Christian and mine is not, I agree with the larger point the following makes.  I hope to trigger more posts on this subject:
=======================
I've grown quite fond of a show on the History Channel called "Warriors". In
this show US Army Green Beret Terry Schappert goes all over the world to
study, engage and report on the great warrior cultures of history. In one
episode he profiled the Zulu people of South Africa and the warrior culture
which, under the sometimes brutal leadership of Shaka Zulu, changed the very
nature of warfare in Africa. But what captured my interest was not the
weapons and tactics of the Zulu warriors-it was what happened after the
battle. The Zulu community understood that their men returning from battle
had blood on their hands. In most cases they did not have the benefit of
long range weaponry that made the killing distant and faceless, but instead
had experienced the physical and psychological horrors of close quarters
combat with edged and blunt force weapons. As any combat veteran will tell
you, reintegrating into a peaceful society after witnessing the bloody
carnage of war is no simple matter, especially if there is blood on your own
hands. So, as the men returned from fighting they underwent spiritual
cleansing rituals which were intended to cleanse their hands of the blood
they had shed, freeing their consciences from guilt, their hearts of blood
lust, and helping them to transition back into peaceful life inside the
community. Schappert, a seasoned combat veteran himself, was clearly moved
by this, turning to the camera and explaining that "we don't get this."

And I really have to wonder why.

Why is it that we find it so easy to send our young people off to war,
giving them the latest, greatest and most effective training and weaponry on
the planet, applaud them for accomplishing their mission with honor and
valor, and then find it so difficult to reintegrate them into our peace
loving society when the battle is over? The secular authorities take steps
to provide counseling, treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
and other post-war psychological and psychiatric issues and I do not mean to
downplay the vital importance of the counseling disciplines in dealing with
the whole person, but I am convinced that the Church of Jesus Christ has a
profoundly important role to play in the lives of our returning warriors.
But to first discover what that role is we need to first swallow our western
pride and take a lesson from the Zulus. True, the Zulus were animistic in
their beliefs and practices and we do not condone or affirm anything that is
contrary to the Scriptures, but that doesn't mean the Zulus got it all wrong
on what a warrior returning from combat needs. We are quick to celebrate and
honor God's call on some to be warriors. We should be all the more eager to
honor the warriors who have heeded that call and return to us with blood on
their hands and horrifying images that have been seared into their minds by
being first in line to help give them what they really need: spiritual
cleansing.

The Zulus, along with just a few other warrior cultures throughout history
including some Native American Indian tribes, correctly understood that the
cleansing a warrior needed was deeply spiritual. For some reason we in the
US have seemed largely content with seeing our returning warriors' needs as
primarily mental and emotional, and trying to help them in those areas. But
as the Church we understand that God created us as multi-layered
people-physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. These layers overlap
and intermingle, creating powerful reactions throughout the entire being
when any single layer is acted upon. When your heart is broken you can't
eat. When your mind is racing you can't sleep. Fasting quickens the spirit.
Emotive music can soothe and pacify or excite and invigorate the mind and
body. God created it all, and never intended that any part be ignored. Plato
thought the spiritual was to be valued to the exclusion of the temporal
(physical, emotional, intellectual), but he went too far. The temporal
aspects are also part of God's human creation and are therefore precious in
His sight! But the spiritual layer-the soul-is foundational to the rest. The
body, the heart and the mind are dead without the soul, and outside of
Christ the soul is dead. If the body, heart and mind have participated in or
even simply witnessed the unnatural act of taking a human life-no matter how
despicable that life may have been-the only hope for that person's cleansing
is through a soul that is made alive in Christ Jesus, and a soul-bond to the
resurrected Christ where Jesus' blood is brought to bear against the
darkness left in war's wake. We are comfortable with the blood of Christ
cleansing us from sin, and we need to be comfortable with the truth that the
blood of Christ also "heals all your diseases" (Psalm 103:3). Isn't the
blood of Jesus who gave His life for that warrior in your midst also enough
to cleanse his hands of the blood of the enemy and make powerless the
memories that fester and haunt him in the middle of the night? Isn't the Son
who raised the dead also able to heal the heart and mind that have been
scarred by the horror of war? We confess that Jesus' blood is all that we
need. It's time to put that confession into action in a new way.

The War on Terror is much more than an ideological struggle-it is the very
battle between good and evil, between freedom and slavery, fulfilling the
word of the angel of the Lord in Genesis 16:12, that the hand of Ishmael
will be against everyone, and everyone's hand against him. It is a spiritual
war waged first in the heavenly realms, spilling over into the created world
where casualties are by no means limited to the physically wounded and
killed. As a result our nation is now faced with a spiritual humanitarian
disaster of cataclysmic proportions as our warriors return from battlefields
in the middle east. Our brave soldiers have shed the blood of the enemy, and
have had their hands stained by the blood of their brethren whom they were
not able to save. The secular world may be able to help the mind and body,
but it cannot hope to touch the spiritual wounds these warriors now
bear-only Jesus can. As the nation welcomes them home with pomp and
circumstance, let us, the Church, welcome them in with minds that understand
them, hearts that weep with them, arms that hold them and hands that pour
the oil of anointing in rich, spiritual ceremony, washing their hands,
hearts, minds and souls in the cleansing blood of Christ.
25037  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Yemen on: December 25, 2009, 03:09:40 PM
Didn't really know where to post this, so decided to put it here:

=============
Summary
A Dec. 24 raid by the government of Yemen against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has reportedly killed several senior leaders of the group. If these reports are confirmed, the operation could have far-reaching implications for the group and for the security for the Arabian Peninsula.

Analysis
At 4:30 a.m. local time on Dec. 24, the government of Yemen launched an operation in the Rafadh area of al-Said district in the Shabwa province southeast of Sanaa. The operation, which reportedly involved an airstrike and a coordinated ground assault, was apparently targeting militants associated with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The Yemeni authorities are reporting that between 31 and 34 AQAP members were killed and 29 arrested in the operation. The Yemeni sources also advise that among those killed and arrested in the raid were several foreigners, including militants from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iraq.

According to STRATFOR sources, Anwar al-Awlaki the American-Yemeni cleric, who is well-known for his ties to U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan (who attacked a group of U.S Army soldiers at Fort Hood), was the primary target of the operation. STRATFOR sources have also said that as Yemeni authorities were watching al-Awlaki’s safe house, a number of other AQAP leaders arrived at the location to meet with the radical cleric.

Yemen is now reporting that it appears the operation also resulted in the deaths of other major AQAP leaders, including the group’s leader and former secretary to Osama bin Laden, Nasir al-Wahayshi, his Saudi deputy, Abu-Sayyaf al-Shihri (who is a former Guantanamo detainee), and another high-ranking operative, Mohammad Ahmed Saleh Umer, who was seen just days before on a widely disseminated videotape preaching openly to crowds in Abyan. The Yemeni authorities are attempting to verify the identities of all those killed in the strike, in order to confirm the deaths of these senior AQAP figures.





(click here to enlarge image)
The operation to target al-Awlaki was apparently aided by his recent interview with the television network Al Jazeera. The interview, which was posted to Al Jazeera’s Web site on Dec. 23, could have provided Yemeni or U.S. intelligence the opportunity to locate al-Awlaki. The interview — like the public speeches recently made by AQAP leaders in front of crowds in Abyan — may have been a deadly lapse of operational security.

If it is confirmed that al-Wahayshi and al-Shihri were indeed killed in the strike, the operation would be a devastating blow to the resurgent al Qaeda node in the Arabian Peninsula. The organization has been under considerable pressure in recent weeks. Thursday’s raid follows similar raids last week in Abyan and Sanaa provinces that resulted in the deaths of some 34 AQAP members, including high-ranking operative Mohammed Ali al-Kazemi, and the arrests of 17 other AQAP militants.

This is not the first time al Qaeda-affiliated militants in Yemen have been struck. In November 2002, the CIA launched a predator drone strike against Abu Ali al-Harithi and five confederates in Marib. That strike essentially decapitated the al Qaeda node in Yemen and greatly reduced their operational effectiveness. The arrest of al-Harithi’s replacement, Muhammad Hamdi al-Ahdal, a year later, was another crippling blow to the organization.

In 2003 as part of an extradition agreement with Iran, Nasir al-Wahayshi was returned to Yemen. In February 2006, al-Wahayshi and 22 other prisoners escaped from a prison in Sanaa, beginning a second phase of al Qaeda’s operations in Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula. With the help of other senior jihadist operatives like Qasim al-Rami — who reportedly managed to escape last week’s raids — al-Wahayshi, who assumed leadership of the group in mid-2007, managed to rebuild the organizational structure of al Qaeda in Yemen into a more cohesive, structured and effective organization. Under al-Wahayshi’s leadership, the al Qaeda-affiliated militants in Yemen have experienced a marked resurgence. Al-Wahayahi’s organization in Yemen was even strong enough to adopt the al Qaeda-linked militants who were forced to flee Saudi Arabia in the face of the Saudi government’s campaign against al Qaeda in the Kingdom, formally announcing the formation of AQAP in January 2009.

Although al-Wahayshi’s followers have not realized a great deal of tactical success, they have launched several high-profile attacks, including the Mar. 18, 2008 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa and the Aug. 28, 2009 assassination attempt against Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the Saudi Deputy Interior Minister.

As STRATFOR has long noted, effective leadership is a key element in the effectiveness of militant organizations. If Yemeni forces were in fact successful in killing al-Wahayshi, al-Shihri, Mohammad Ahmed Saleh Umer, Anwar al-Awlaki — in addition to the death of Mohammed Ali al-Kazemi last week — AQAP has indeed suffered a significant organizational blow. The long-term consequences of these developments in Yemen, and their consequences for the security of Yemen and Saudi Arabia, will depend largely upon the leadership transition plan the group had in place (if there was one), and the personal abilities of the man who will step in to assume leadership of the group. In the face of such adversity, it will take an individual with a rare combination of charisma and leadership to quickly rebuild AQAP’s capabilities.
25038  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Luke on: December 25, 2009, 10:16:38 AM
 
"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn." --Luke 2:1-7
25039  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: December 25, 2009, 10:15:17 AM
With a different President, these questions would be relevant.  My prediction is that this one will dither further.

Also, I haven't read it yet, but an article in today's POTH says that apparently the democractic opposition is just as hard line on developing nukes.
25040  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: December 25, 2009, 10:13:05 AM
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/dec/23/dennis-montgomery-cia-al-jazeera
The Nevada gambler, al-Qaida, the CIA and the mother of all cons
Chris McGreal in Washington guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 23 December 2009 21.47 GMT

The intelligence reports fitted the suspicions of the time: al-Qaida sleeper agents were scattered across the US awaiting orders that were broadcast in secret codes over the al-Jazeera television network.

Flights from Britain and France were cancelled. Officials warned of a looming "spectacular attack" to rival 9/11. In 2003 President Bush's homeland security tsar, Tom Ridge, spoke of a "credible source" whose information had US military bracing for a new terrorist onslaught.

Then suddenly no more was said.

Six years later, Playboy magazine has revealed that the CIA fell victim to an elaborate con by a compulsive gambler who claimed to have developed software that discovered al-Jazeera broadcasts were being used to transmit messages to terrorists buried deep in America.

Dennis Montgomery, 56, the co-owner of a software gaming company in Nevada, who has since been arrested for bouncing $1m worth of cheques, claims his program read messages hidden in barcodes listing international flights to the US, their positions and airports to be targeted.

The CIA took the information seriously, working with Montgomery at his offices and paying him an undisclosed amount of money. The "intelligence" Montgomery claimed to have found was passed on to the White House and homeland security where it kickstarted an alert that bordered on panic.

According to Playboy, Montgomery's claims caused the cancellation of British Airways and other flights supposedly mentioned in the codes.

Some officials were not at all surprised to hear the allegation that al-Jazeera was involved. The then defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, later vilified the station for "vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable" reporting of the US invasion of Iraq.

For months, the source of the information was kept under wraps within the CIA but once it became more widely known in the agency it immediately came under question. Playboy quotes one former counterterrorism official who attended a briefing on the source as being furious. He said: "I was saying: 'This is crazy. This is embarrassing.' They claimed they were breaking the code, getting latitude and longitude, and al-Qaida operatives were decoding it. They were coming up with airports and everything, and we were just saying: 'You know, this is horseshit!' "

Frances Townsend, a homeland security adviser to Bush, defended the decision to work with Montgomery. "It didn't seem beyond the realm of possibility. We were relying on technical people to tell us whether or not it was feasible. I don't regret having acted on it," she told Playboy.

But the doubts began to prevail as Montgomery refused to reveal how he was finding the barcodes, when no one else could, and he demanded $100m for the software. The CIA also began to wonder why al-Qaida didn't use emails and web pages to communicate with its agents.
25041  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Vermont on: December 24, 2009, 07:22:38 PM
http://69.39.146.6/Upload%20Files/WebPages/Attorney%20Resources/juryinstructions/criminaljuryinstructions/1generalinstructions/ms07-111.htm

CR07-111                   07/09/07

 

SELF-DEFENSE (USE OF DEADLY FORCE)

            Evidence has been introduced bearing on the issue of self-defense, as justification for the killing of (victim)_______________.  The State bears the burden of proving that the killing was unlawful.  A killing committed in lawful self-defense is lawful, and not a crime.  Here the State must have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that (Def)_______________ did not act in self-defense.  [He] [She] has no burden of proof on this issue.

            A person has the right to defend [himself] [herself] when [he] [she] is attacked, or when [he] [she] reasonably believes [he] [she] is in imminent danger of being killed or suffering great bodily harm.  A person in that situation has the right to use only such force as is reasonably necessary to repel the attack or the perceived imminent danger.

            A killing is justified by self-defense if:

(1)        (Def)_______________ reasonably believed that [he] [she] was in imminent danger of being killed or of suffering great bodily harm, and

(2)        (Def)_______________’s use of deadly force was reasonably necessary to repel the perceived threat.

            The right of self-defense does not require that a person actually be assaulted, but (Def)_______________ must have believed that [he] [she] was in imminent danger of great bodily harm, and [his] [her] belief must have been reasonable under the circumstances.  [His] [Her] expectation of harm must have been based upon fact, and not on some imaginary fear.  Furthermore, if [he] [she] honestly and reasonably believed it was immediately necessary to use deadly force to protect himself from an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury, the law does not require [him] [her] to retreat.

            Self-defense requires that (Def)_______________ must have had a reasonable fear of imminent harm.  In deciding this issue, you may consider what [he] [she] knew about (victim)_______________ at the time.  You may consider any previous interactions, including any aggressive or hostile conduct by (victim)_______________, and any other evidence you consider relevant, including who started the confrontation.

            When assessing the reasonableness of (Def)_______________’s fear, you may consider the individual characteristics of (Def)_______________ and (victim)_______________, such as their respective size, gender, age, physical condition, strength, stamina, courage, and assertiveness.

            Self-defense permits only the amount of force that is reasonably necessary to repel the perceived harm.  A person may use the amount of force that reasonably appears to be necessary under all of the circumstances known to [him] [her] at the time.  In this case you must decide whether (Def)_______________ reasonably believed it was necessary to use the amount of force that [he] [she] did use.  When a person has reasonable grounds to believe that an assault is imminent, [he] [she] need not wait until it actually occurs before [he] [she] may resort to self-defense.

            Once the issue of self-defense appears in the case, the burden is on the State to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that (Def)_______________ did not act in self-defense, or that the force used by (Def)_______________ was excessive under the circumstances.  (Def)_______________ is not required to prove that [he] [she] acted in self-defense.
25042  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: December 24, 2009, 01:52:53 PM
No matter how many troops President Obama orders to Afghanistan, victory will also require a surge across the Pakistan border that the Taliban and al Qaeda—but not American GIs—cross easily. The President knows this, but he hasn't made Pakistan's help any easier to obtain by signalling his intention to draw down a mere year after his surge troops arrive in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has slowly expanded its cooperation this year as its public and military have awakened to the threat from their own Islamist militants after a spate of terrorist attacks, including on the military headquarters in Rawalpindi. Long portrayed as noble bearded mountain fighters in Pakistan's press, the Islamists are at last seen as an existential threat to Islamabad and Lahore. And this year the military has pushed the Pakistani Taliban from the Swat Valley and South Waziristan and, in contrast with past offensives, hasn't for now ceded back the ground in a misconceived truce. This is progress.

But so far the generals have refused to take on other Islamists they don't view as a danger and have long cultivated as strategic assets—that is, the Afghan Taliban. This means the Taliban government in exile in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, and Afghan insurgents loyal to the ailing Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Siraj based in North Waziristan. The so-called Quetta shura is led by deposed Taliban leader and Osama bin Laden ally, Mullah Omar, who fled in 2001 and now directs the fighting in southern Afghanistan from Quetta. The Haqqani network is the largest insurgent group in eastern Afghanistan.

We're told that Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, in a private letter to Mr. Obama earlier this month, promised to take the fight to North Waziristan and Baluchistan. Merely to have a Pakistani politician acknowledge the existence of the Quetta shura counts as progress. The Pakistanis are reluctant to arrest their longtime proxies, Haqqani or Omar, but they could at least disrupt their headquarters and make it harder to operate from Pakistan.

As ever, the final decision rests with the Pakistan military led by General Ashfaq Kayani. According to a story in the New York Times, he has resisted the entreaties and told the U.S. that his troops have their hands too full with their own Pakistani Taliban to expand their operations.

The head of the U.S. Central Command, General David Petraeus, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen visited Pakistan last week to nudge some more. Perhaps they used the opportunity to express U.S. frustration about official Pakistani complicity in the deaths of American troops in Afghanistan. Such messages need to be sent, though the best way is in private.

If Pakistan truly has given up on its old double game of claiming to back America while allowing a Taliban sanctuary within its borders, now would be a good time to show it's serious. If not, the U.S. has leverage with Islamabad through foreign aid, as well as various military options. U.S. drone strikes can be expanded, including for the first time to Baluchistan, and special forces might be deployed across the porous border.

Both carry diplomatic risks. Though drone strikes have killed about two dozen civilians according to one Pakistani government estimate, the country's press loves to exaggerate the toll to embarrass the government and stoke anti-Americanism. The presence of U.S. troops in Pakistan, if publicized, could also undermine a Zardari government that's taken brave risks to help Washington.

This is where Mr. Obama's decision to announce a July 2011 deadline for beginning to withdraw from Afghanistan has been damaging. Various Administration officials have tried to walk back that deadline, but it has played inside Pakistan as further evidence that the Americans will eventually bug out of the region. Pakistan's military and intelligence services have long hedged their bets by supporting Mullah Omar and the Afghan Taliban in case the U.S. leaves and for fear that India will try to fill any power vacuum in Kabul. Now they have another excuse not to change.

The reality is that the gravest threat to Pakistan comes from Islamic radicals, especially if they are able to survive the U.S. and NATO surge. Their next targets will be Islamabad and Rawalpindi as much as Kabul, London or New York. The U.S. and Pakistan share a common enemy, and Mr. Obama will have to assure the Pakistanis that the American commitment won't end with some arbitrary withdrawal deadline made to appease the U.S. antiwar left.
25043  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kudlow on: December 24, 2009, 01:40:41 PM
The Yield Curve Is Signaling Bigger Growth
By Lawrence Kudlow (Archive) · Thursday, December 24, 2009

What's a yield curve, and why is it so important?

Well, the curve itself measures Treasury interest rates, by maturity, from 91-day T-bills all the way out to 30-year bonds. It's the difference between the long rates and the short rates that tells a key story about the future of the economy.

When the curve is wide and upward sloping, as it is today, it tells us that the economic future is good. When the curve is upside down, or inverted, with short rates above long rates, it tells us that something is amiss -- such as a credit crunch and a recession.

The inverted curve is abnormal; the positive curve is normal. We have returned to normalcy, and then some. Right now, the difference between long and short Treasury rates is as wide as any time in history. With the Fed pumping in all that money and anchoring the short rate at zero, investors are now charging the Treasury a higher interest rate for buying its bonds. That's as it should be. The time preference of money simply means that the investor will hold Treasury bonds for a longer period of time, but he or she is going to charge a higher rate. That is a normal risk profile.

The yield curve may be the best single forecasting predictor there is. When it was inverted or flat for most of 2006, 2007 and the early part of 2008, it correctly predicted big trouble ahead. Right now, it is forecasting a much stronger economy in 2010 than most people think possible.

So there could be a mini boom next year, with real gross domestic product growing at 4 to 5 percent, perhaps with a 6 percent quarter in there someplace. And the unemployment rate is likely to come down, perhaps moving into the 8 percent zone from today's 10 percent.

The normalization of the Treasury curve is corroborated by the rising stock market and a normalization of credit spreads in the bond market. I note that as the curve has widened in recent weeks, gold prices have corrected lower and the dollar has increased somewhat. So the edge may be coming off the inflation threat.

If market investors expect the economy to grow, inflation at the margin will be that much lower as better growth absorbs at least some of the money-supply excess created by the Fed. My hunch is that inflation will range 2 percent to 3 percent next year.

It also could be that the health care bill about to pass in the Senate is less onerous from a growth standpoint -- and certainly less onerous than the House bill. For example, the Senate bill does not contain a 5.4 percent personal-tax-rate surcharge, which also would apply to capital gains. So if the Senate bill becomes the final bill, it will be less punitive on growth.

That could explain the fall in gold and the rise in the dollar. We'll still be stuck with a tax hike from the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, but at least we won't have a tax hike on top of that. That's the optimistic view, at any rate.

But really, pessimists have missed the big rise in corporate profits, the resiliency of our mostly free-market capitalist economy and the monetarist experiment from the easy-money Fed. The optimal policy mix on the supply-side is low tax rates and King Dollar. We don't have that. So as good as 2010 may be, with investors moving to beat the tax man, it could be a false prosperity at the expense of 2011.

But let's cross that bridge when we get there. Right now, rising stocks and a wide and positive yield curve are spelling strong economic growth in the new year.
25044  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / CA Justifiable homicide on: December 24, 2009, 01:22:19 PM
http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/197.html
California Penal Code Section 197
Legal Research Home > California Lawyer > Penal Code > California Penal Code Section 197

Homicide is also justifiable when committed by any person in
any of the following cases:
   1. When resisting any attempt to murder any person, or to commit a
felony, or to do some great bodily injury upon any person; or,
   2. When committed in defense of habitation, property, or person,
against one who manifestly intends or endeavors, by violence or
surprise, to commit a felony, or against one who manifestly intends
and endeavors, in a violent, riotous or tumultuous manner, to enter
the habitation of another for the purpose of offering violence to any
person therein; or,
   3. When committed in the lawful defense of such person, or of a
wife or husband, parent, child, master, mistress, or servant of such
person, when there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design to
commit a felony or to do some great bodily injury, and imminent
danger of such design being accomplished; but such person, or the
person in whose behalf the defense was made, if he was the assailant
or engaged in mutual combat, must really and in good faith have
endeavored to decline any further struggle before the homicide was
committed; or,
   4. When necessarily committed in attempting, by lawful ways and
means, to apprehend any person for any felony committed, or in
lawfully suppressing any riot, or in lawfully keeping and preserving
the peace.
25045  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / OBL almost assassinated Pres. Clinton on: December 24, 2009, 01:14:08 PM
Osama bin Laden came within minutes of killing Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton came within minutes of being assassinated in the Philippines by terrorists controlled by Osama bin Laden, a new book has revealed.

By Tom Leonard in New York
Published: 7:00PM GMT 22 Dec 2009



The US leader was saved shortly before his car was due to drive over a bridge in Manila where a bomb had been planted.

The foiled attack came during Mr Clinton's visit to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in the city in 1996.

At one point during his stay, he was scheduled to visit a local politician, his route taking him across a bridge in central Manila.

But as the presidential motorcade was about to set off, secret service officers received a "crackly message in one earpiece" saying intelligence agents had picked up a message suggesting an attack was imminent.

The transmission used the words "bridge" and "wedding" – a terrorists code word for assassination.

The motorcade was quickly re-routed and American agents later discovered a bomb had been planted under the bridge.

The subsequent US investigation into the plot "revealed that it had been masterminded by a Saudi terrorist living in Afghanistan – a man named Osama bin Laden".

Although al Qaeda members have admitted targeting Mr Clinton in the 1990s, no evidence has previously emerged suggesting the group's leader was involved or that the terrorists came close to succeeding.

Ken Gormley, an American law professor, said he was told by Louis Merletti, the former director of the Secret Service, of the bomb plot.

In The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs Starr, Prof Gormley wrote: "The thwarted assassination attempt was never made public.

"It remained top secret except to select members of the US intelligence community."

At the time, there were media reports about the discovery of two bombs, one at Manila airport and another at the venue for the leaders' meeting.

However, they were linked to a communist insurgency in the Philippines rather than as an external attempt to kill the US president.

A spokesman for the Secret Service refused to comment on Prof Gorman's allegations.

Commentators in the US questioned why the Clinton administration would keep quiet about the assassination attempt when it later needed to justify missile attacks on al-Qaeda training bases.

It could also have ramifications for the widely-held assumption that the Bush regime could not have anticipated the September 11 terror attacks.

Ramzi Yousef, the al-Qaeda member who used a truck bomb to attack the World Trade Centre in 1993, has admitted he plotted to assassinate Mr Clinton after fleeing to Manila, but was dissuaded by his high level of security.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described 9/11 mastermind, also lived in the Philippines in the mid-1990s and has admitted he considered trying to kill Mr Clinton.

The president and his national security team have been accused of passing up several opportunities to capture bin Laden and his associates in the 1990s when they were living in Sudan.

Mr Clinton has rejected such claims, insisting he was "obsessed" with the al-Qaeda leader during his time in office.

In the years leading up to the September 11 attacks, al Qaeda was blamed for bombing two US embassies in Africa and attacked the destroyer, the USS Cole.

However, Marisa Porges, a former government counter-terrorism advisor and an expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, a US think tank, said the assassination plot, if true,would suggest al Qaeda was more developed than some thought it was prior to 9/11”.

Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said earlier this month that it was important to capture bin Laden, a goal that some believe has slipped down America's list of priorities in the years since the September 11 attacks.

Prof Gormley’s book, for which he interviewed Mr Clinton three times, focuses mainly on the former president’s pursuit by Ken Starr, the independent counsel.

Mr Starr’s conclusion that Mr Clinton lied during a sworn deposition about his affair with Monica Lewinsky led to the president’s impeachment.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...l-Clinton.html
25046  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Col. Robert Howard on: December 24, 2009, 11:49:26 AM
COL Robert L. Howard
1939 - 2009
 

   
     This site is dedicated to Robert L. Howard, one of America's most decorated soldiers. He served five tours in Vietnam and is the only soldier in our nation's history to be nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor three times for three separate actions within a thirteen month period. Although it can only be awarded once to an individual, men who served with him said he deserved all three. He received a direct appointment from Master Sergeant to 1st Lieutenant in 1969, and was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Richard M. Nixon at the White House in 1971. His other awards for valor include the Distinguished Service Cross - our nation's second highest award, the Silver Star - the third highest award, and numerous lesser decorations including eight Purple Hearts. He received his decorations for valor for actions while serving as an NCO (Sergeant First Class).

     Robert L. Howard grew up in Opelika, Alabama and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1956 at age seventeen. He retired as a full Colonel in 1992 after 36 years service. During Vietnam, he served in the U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets) and spent most of his five tours in the super-secret MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observations Group) also known as Special Operations Group, which ran classified cross-border operations into Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam. These men carried out some of the most daring and dangerous missions ever conducted by the U.S. military. The understrength sixty-man recon company at Kontum in which he served was the Vietnam War's most highly decorated unit of its size with five Medals of Honor. It was for his actions while serving on a mission to rescue a fellow soldier in Cambodia, that he was submitted for the Medal of Honor the third time for his extraordinary heroism.

     Robert L. Howard is said to be our nation's most decorated soldier from the Vietnam War. He was the last Vietnam Special Forces Medal of Honor recipient still on active duty when he retired on Sept. 29, 1992. His story is told in John Plaster's excellent book, SOG The Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam. 

     It is important for future generations that we remember our military heroes and the great sacrifices they have made for us in the name of Freedom.

Excerpt from John Plaster's recent book SECRET COMMANDOS Behind Enemy Lines with the Elite Warriors of SOG - pg. 303:
"The day that President Nixon draped the Medal of Honor's pale blue ribbon around Howard's neck, I sat before the TV in my parents' living room watching the evening news. Coming on top of his previous decorations - the Distinguished Service Cross and multiple Silver and Bronze Stars, plus eight Purple Hearts - Howard's combat awards exceeded those of Audie Murphy, America's legendary World War II hero, until then our most highly decorated serviceman. At last, Howard would get his due. I flipped station to station, but not one of the networks - not CBS or NBC or ABC - could find ten seconds to mention Captain Robert Howard or his indomitable courage. I found nothing about him in the newspapers. Twisted by the antiwar politics of that era, many in the media believed that to recognize a heroic act was to glorify war. They simply chose not to cover the ceremony. It might as well not have happened."

NOTE: In 1917, the laws governing the award of the Medal of Honor ended all DOUBLE awards of the Medal of Honor. Click here for more information
 




Wounded 14 times in 54 months of combat duty in Vietnam,
Robert Howard was awarded 8 Purple Hearts and is believed
to be the most decorated living American.


Biographical Information

Medal of Honor Citation

Photo Page

The Green Beret magazine - 1969

Special Forces Medal of Honor

MACVSOG Medal of Honor Print

Medal of Honor Flag

Website Awards





Other MACV-SOG (CCC) Medal of Honor recipients. Click on photo to read their citation.


Franklin D. Miller
 
Fred W. Zabitosky
 
John J. Kedenburg
 
George K. Sisler
 

 

Only 3,448 Americans have been awarded Medals of Honor.
Today only 95 of them survive.

 



 

   

 

Thanks for visiting this website!
Click below to add your comments to the Guest Book.
 

 

 

 


Email webmaster - Neil: webmaster@rlhtribute.com

 
25047  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: December 24, 2009, 10:08:02 AM
Intelligence Guidance (Special Edition): Watching Iran for a Breakpoint
Stratfor Today » December 23, 2009 | 2344 GMT
 
Iranian opposition supporters demonstrate at Tehran University on Dec. 7Editor’s Note: The following is an internal STRATFOR document produced to provide high-level guidance to our analysts. This document is not a forecast, but rather a series of guidelines for understanding and evaluating events, as well as suggestions on areas for focus.

Events in Iran will dominate the next several days. We’d like to take a step back and examine the multiple Iran-related crises we see building in parallel to each other, despite the numerous unknowns that remain.

Domestic turmoil in Iran appears to be nearing a breakpoint. Clearly, the Iranian opposition protests that grew out of the June presidential election debacle have not lost their steam. The 10-day Shiite commemoration of Muharram has now provided the anti-regime protesters with an occasion to exploit the religious fervor associated with the martyrdom of Imam Husayn ibn Ali at the Battle of Karbala in A.D. 680, a potent symbol for those who view themselves as martyrs in resisting the regime. The recent death of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, one of the rare clerical opponents to the regime, has only added more fuel to the fire.

Sporadic clashes have broken out in Qom and Isfahan provinces, with reports of the homes of senior dissident ayatollahs being targeted and their supporters being tear gassed and beaten by Basij militiamen and plainclothes security personnel. These clashes are escalating in the lead-up to Ashura, the 10th and final day of Muharram which falls on Dec. 27 this year. Emotions will be running high on Ashura, and opposition protesters are planning to hold demonstrations in major cities across Iran, a classic example of the lethal cocktail of religion and politics.

The demonstrations already are reaching unacceptable levels for the regime. Thus far, the regime has used a variety of intimidation tactics to try and shut the protests down, but it also has exercised restraint to avoid triggering a greater backlash. In essence, the regime has done enough to enrage the opposition but not enough yet to terrify the opposition into standing down.

Typically, when regimes reach this point, they lay the groundwork for the imposition of martial law. Doors are kicked in, purges ensue, media blackouts are enforced and dissidents are silenced. The regime has done many of these things already but not yet to the degree that would successfully intimidate the opposition. There is, of course, a great risk of backlash in imposing such a crackdown, especially during such a sensitive religious holiday. The regime has thus far been careful not to exacerbate rifts within the regime and security apparatus. While a martial law situation would carry substantial risk of blowback, it would be designed to suppress those rifts through brute force.

When government officials impose martial law it is almost always because there is a split in the regime. The split becomes dangerous to the rival faction. When that faction realizes accommodation is impossible, it has three choices. First, it can accept the split and its consequences. Second, it can turn over power. Third, it can crush opponents. From Burma to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to Argentina, this is a common process. When the pressures become overwhelming, the faction controlling the largest force changes the discussion from political to security. Men who were once enormously powerful are killed, imprisoned, “disappeared” or exiled. The most prominent leader, facing death, can choose capitulation. Such coups have better chances of success when one faction has powerful military support.

While STRATFOR does not have any clear indication yet that the regime is intending to impose some form of martial law, we are keeping the possibility in mind. In examining this possibility, we keep coming back to a statement by Iranian Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi on Dec. 22 that the regime has identified “80 foreign institutes, foundations, and funds that are active” in the opposition protests, including one with a $1.7 billion budget. The Iranian government regularly claims a foreign hand is behind domestic unrest, but this is different. By claiming it has identified specific foreign institutions underwriting the opposition, the regime is providing itself with the justification to declare any member of the opposition an enemy of the state in a martial law-type scenario.

As the internal unrest escalates within Iran, pressures also are building on the external front. The U.S. administration already has signaled that it may extend the deadline for Iran to negotiate over its nuclear program to at least mid-January 2010. U.S. and Iranian sources have reported a surge in backchannels between Washington and Tehran, with rumors circulating of Sen. John Kerry attempting to work out some sort of compromise behind the scenes. At the same time, Iran is sending holiday greetings to U.S. President Barack Obama while throwing out proposal after proposal after proposal to resolve the nuclear dispute.

Even as Iran is playing to its domestic constituency by flatly rejecting the notion of U.S.-set deadlines, it is doing enough both publicly and through backchannels to provide cover to the Russians, Chinese, Japanese, Germans and anyone else opposed to sanctions to make the argument for continued diplomacy. As long as Iran shows that it’s not walking away from negotiations, the harder it will be for the United States to build and a coalition against Iran. U.N Security Council members have announced that they will push any discussion on Iran to at least mid-January 2010 and were careful to avoid specifying whether that discussion would entail sanctions, indicating that Iran’s moves on the diplomatic front are thus far bearing fruit.

But Iran also cannot afford to take its eyes of Israel, which intends to hold the U.S. administration to its December deadline and its promise to take meaningful action in neutralizing Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Sanctions are not considered meaningful action by Israel, especially without the Russians and Chinese on board. At the same time, Iran may be calculating for now that the United States will restrain Israel if Israel can’t carry out a successful military strike on its own. The Iranians therefore want the United States to think long and hard about the Iranian reaction to such a strike. In addition to mine warfare in the Strait of Hormuz and terrorist attacks by Hezbollah and Hamas, the United States has been served a recent reminder of the damage Iran can do in Iraq. The Iran-Iraq spat over the Dec. 18 Iranian incursion and occupation of an Iraqi oil well is far from over, and now appears to be escalating as Iraq’s sectarian government is fragmenting over how to deal with the provocation.

Between the internal unrest in Iran, tensions escalating over the nuclear program and the ongoing border dispute with Iraq, the Iranian regime has its hands full in maneuvering between these building crises. A number of oddities linking these three issues also have begun surfacing in the past 36 hours in Iran and Iraq that warrant greater scrutiny in this tension-filled environment. STRATFOR will be watching developments closely in the coming days for any triggers that could signal a breakpoint.
25048  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Need Help Getting back into the swing of things on: December 24, 2009, 09:56:40 AM
The Torque Blades are not cheap (hard to avoid given the small size of the market for them, but we wanted to help the maker out) but they are very cool. 
25049  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues on: December 24, 2009, 09:52:39 AM
There is also the issue of the growing popular resistance to the regime.  How does this variable interact?
25050  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kuperman on: December 24, 2009, 09:22:19 AM
There’s Only One Way to Stop Iran
 
By ALAN J. KUPERMAN
Published: December 23, 2009
PRESIDENT OBAMA should not lament but sigh in relief that Iran has rejected his nuclear deal, which was ill conceived from the start. Under the deal, which was formally offered through the United Nations, Iran was to surrender some 2,600 pounds of lightly enriched uranium (some three-quarters of its known stockpile) to Russia, and the next year get back a supply of uranium fuel sufficient to run its Tehran research reactor for three decades. The proposal did not require Iran to halt its enrichment program, despite several United Nations Security Council resolutions demanding such a moratorium.

Iran was thus to be rewarded with much-coveted reactor fuel despite violating international law. Within a year, or sooner in light of its expanding enrichment program, Iran would almost certainly have replenished and augmented its stockpile of enriched uranium, nullifying any ostensible nonproliferation benefit of the deal.

Moreover, by providing reactor fuel, the plan would have fostered proliferation in two ways. First, Iran could have continued operating its research reactor, which has helped train Iranian scientists in weapons techniques like plutonium separation. (Yes, as Iran likes to point out, the reactor also produces medical isotopes. But those can be purchased commercially from abroad, as most countries do, including the United States.) Absent the deal, Iran’s reactor will likely run out of fuel within two years, and only a half-dozen countries are able to supply fresh fuel for it. This creates significant international leverage over Iran, which should be used to compel it to halt its enrichment program.

In addition, the vast surplus of higher-enriched fuel Iran was to get under the deal would have permitted some to be diverted to its bomb program. Indeed, many experts believe that the uranium in foreign-provided fuel would be easier to enrich to weapons grade because Iran’s uranium contains impurities. Obama administration officials had claimed that delivering uranium in the form of fabricated fuel would prevent further enrichment for weapons, but this is false. Separating uranium from fuel elements so that it can be enriched further is a straightforward engineering task requiring at most a few weeks.

Thus, had the deal gone through, Iran could have benefited from a head start toward making weapons-grade 90 percent-enriched uranium (meaning that 90 percent of its makeup is the fissile isotope U-235) by starting with purified 20 percent-enriched uranium rather than its own weaker, contaminated stuff.

This raises a question: if the deal would have aided Iran’s bomb program, why did the United States propose it, and Iran reject it? The main explanation on both sides is domestic politics. President Obama wanted to blunt Republican criticism that his multilateral approach was failing to stem Iran’s nuclear program. The deal would have permitted him to claim, for a year or so, that he had defused the crisis by depriving Iran of sufficient enriched uranium to start a crash program to build one bomb.

But in reality no one ever expected Iran to do that, because such a headlong sprint is the one step most likely to provoke an international military response that could cripple the bomb program before it reaches fruition. Iran is far more likely to engage in “salami slicing” — a series of violations each too small to provoke retaliation, but that together will give it a nuclear arsenal. For example, while Iran permits international inspections at its declared enrichment plant at Natanz, it ignores United Nations demands that it close the plant, where it gains the expertise needed to produce weapons-grade uranium at other secret facilities like the nascent one recently uncovered near Qom.

In sum, the proposal would not have averted proliferation in the short run, because that risk always was low, but instead would have fostered it in the long run — a classic example of domestic politics undermining national security.

Tehran’s rejection of the deal was likewise propelled by domestic politics — including last June’s fraudulent elections and longstanding fears of Western manipulation. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad initially embraced the deal because he realized it aided Iran’s bomb program. But his domestic political opponents, whom he has tried to label as foreign agents, turned the tables by accusing him of surrendering Iran’s patrimony to the West.

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Under such domestic pressure, Mr. Ahmadinejad reneged. But Iran still wants reactor fuel, so he threatened to enrich uranium domestically to the 20 percent level. This is a bluff, because even if Iran could further enrich its impure uranium, it lacks the capacity to fabricate that uranium into fuel elements. His real aim is to compel the international community into providing the fuel without requiring Iran to surrender most of the enriched uranium it has on hand.

Indeed, Iran’s foreign minister has now proposed just that: offering to exchange a mere quarter of Iran’s enriched uranium for an immediate 10-year supply of fuel for the research reactor. This would let Iran run the reactor, retain the bulk of its enriched uranium and continue to enrich more — a bargain unacceptable even to the Obama administration.

Tehran’s rejection of the original proposal is revealing. It shows that Iran, for domestic political reasons, cannot make even temporary concessions on its bomb program, regardless of incentives or sanctions. Since peaceful carrots and sticks cannot work, and an invasion would be foolhardy, the United States faces a stark choice: military air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities or acquiescence to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.

The risks of acquiescence are obvious. Iran supplies Islamist terrorist groups in violation of international embargoes. Even President Ahmadinejad’s domestic opponents support this weapons traffic. If Iran acquired a nuclear arsenal, the risks would simply be too great that it could become a neighborhood bully or provide terrorists with the ultimate weapon, an atomic bomb.

As for knocking out its nuclear plants, admittedly, aerial bombing might not work. Some Iranian facilities are buried too deeply to destroy from the air. There may also be sites that American intelligence is unaware of. And military action could backfire in various ways, including by undermining Iran’s political opposition, accelerating the bomb program or provoking retaliation against American forces and allies in the region.

But history suggests that military strikes could work. Israel’s 1981 attack on the nearly finished Osirak reactor prevented Iraq’s rapid acquisition of a plutonium-based nuclear weapon and compelled it to pursue a more gradual, uranium-based bomb program. A decade later, the Persian Gulf war uncovered and enabled the destruction of that uranium initiative, which finally deterred Saddam Hussein from further pursuit of nuclear weapons (a fact that eluded American intelligence until after the 2003 invasion). Analogously, Iran’s atomic sites might need to be bombed more than once to persuade Tehran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

As for the risk of military strikes undermining Iran’s opposition, history suggests that the effect would be temporary. For example, NATO’s 1999 air campaign against Yugoslavia briefly bolstered support for President Slobodan Milosevic, but a democratic opposition ousted him the next year.

Yes, Iran could retaliate by aiding America’s opponents in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it does that anyway. Iran’s leaders are discouraged from taking more aggressive action against United States forces — and should continue to be — by the fear of provoking a stronger American counter-escalation. If nothing else, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that the United States military can oust regimes in weeks if it wants to.

Incentives and sanctions will not work, but air strikes could degrade and deter Iran’s bomb program at relatively little cost or risk, and therefore are worth a try. They should be precision attacks, aimed only at nuclear facilities, to remind Iran of the many other valuable sites that could be bombed if it were foolish enough to retaliate.

The final question is, who should launch the air strikes? Israel has shown an eagerness to do so if Iran does not stop enriching uranium, and some hawks in Washington favor letting Israel do the dirty work to avoid fueling anti-Americanism in the Islamic world.

But there are three compelling reasons that the United States itself should carry out the bombings. First, the Pentagon’s weapons are better than Israel’s at destroying buried facilities. Second, unlike Israel’s relatively small air force, the United States military can discourage Iranian retaliation by threatening to expand the bombing campaign. (Yes, Israel could implicitly threaten nuclear counter-retaliation, but Iran might not perceive that as credible.) Finally, because the American military has global reach, air strikes against Iran would be a strong warning to other would-be proliferators.

Negotiation to prevent nuclear proliferation is always preferable to military action. But in the face of failed diplomacy, eschewing force is tantamount to appeasement. We have reached the point where air strikes are the only plausible option with any prospect of preventing Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Postponing military action merely provides Iran a window to expand, disperse and harden its nuclear facilities against attack. The sooner the United States takes action, the better.
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