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25101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Concerning Stratfor: on: September 17, 2007, 12:36:24 PM
Woof All:

As those of you who read here regularly know, I often post from my subscription to Stratfor.  I find Stratfor to be an outstanding resource.  Although it is not cheap, it is quite a bargain in terms of value received.  What I share here is a small fraction of what I receive from Stratfor.  I have subscribed for several years now, and find the high quality it achieves to be quite consistent over time and have paid for a lifetime subscription.

Here is a good opportunity for those so inclined to check it out:

https://www.stratfor.com/offers/070910-iraqreport/index.php?camp=070910-iraqreport-a&ref=email-vertresp-html&utm_campaign=070910-iraqreport&utm_medium=email-vertresp-html&utm_content=070910-iraqreport-button&utm_source=070910-iraqreport-a

The Adventure continues,
Marc
25102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: September 17, 2007, 12:03:04 PM
Calderónomics
By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY
September 17, 2007; Page A16

As young Mexicans have poured across the southern U.S. border in recent years, looking for work, a common American refrain has been to blame Mexican economic policy. Even many of us who welcome the new labor for the U.S. economy have also noted that the Mexican government's failure to deepen the economic restructuring begun some 20 years ago has spurred migration, imposing a heavy burden on Mexican society.

This reality has not been lost on President Felipe Calderón. He campaigned in the lead-up to last year's election on a platform that emphasized jobs, promising to deliver the policy changes that would bring them about. Unfortunately, Mr. Calderón's National Action Party (PAN) is only a minority in Congress, and judging by the "reforms" passed there last week, his vision of a modernized Mexico is still a long way off.

It's bad enough that the government's fiscal reform falls so far short of the pro-growth agenda Mr. Calderón promised. But to make matters worse, opposition parties made passing it contingent on a heavily politicized "electoral reform" and a no-strings-attached tax cut for the monopoly, state-owned oil company Pemex. If there is one lesson from this latest legislative struggle between modernizers and Mexico's old guard in the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), it's that timidity when confronting dinosaurs doesn't pay.

Mr. Calderón has been carefully choosing his fights in his first year in office. His biggest achievement to date is the reform of the public-sector pension system, a measure that in the medium term will remove the obligations of the large entitlement program from the budget.

Having one win under his belt, Mr. Calderón moved this summer to introduce a fiscal reform designed to close revenue shortfalls. A better course of action, with oil topping $80 a barrel, would have been opening the oil market to private investment. But this would have challenged the theology that says that the inefficient state-owned oil monopoly Pemex is sacred. Mr. Calderón apparently has decided, for now, against questioning that taboo.

Instead, he chose to go after the productive private sector of the economy, where at least some large companies are known to take advantage of a complex, exemption-ridden regime to dodge tax payments. The choice has not been fruitful.

As I reported in my July 2 column, Hacienda Minister (Treasury Secretary) Agustin Carstens, formerly of the International Monetary Fund, chose not to seek growth through lower corporate tax rates and simplification. Instead, he crafted a plan to create a corporate alternative minimum tax. The proposal raised the cost of labor on some part of the work force and complicated the code.

An email I received from the Mexican office of a large multinational investment firm insisted that the plan was not biased against skilled labor. That conclusion implied that the Hacienda proposal was so complicated that even some Mexican experts couldn't figure it out. John A. McLees, tax partner at the law firm Baker McKenzie, collaborated with his Mexican counterpart in Tijuana on a study that argued convincingly that the proposal did indeed raise the cost of labor for salaries between approximately $15,000-$35,000, middle-range pay in Mexico. When workers cost more, companies hire fewer. For a president who ran on an employment platform, it was a disappointment.

If the AMT is intended, as some have speculated, to be an end run toward the goal of a single, low flat-tax, not many are buying it. Most businesses view it as a tax hike and few seem confident that a new tax, once adopted, would ever be abolished.

Thus the administration, normally considered market friendly, found itself without even its natural allies in negotiations with Congress. Meanwhile some of the worst elements of Mexico's corporatist past were preparing to extract a pound of flesh for their support.

The bill that finally passed last week sets the AMT at 16.5%, increasing it to 17.5% in three years. Those rates are lower than originally proposed and the burden on labor has been significantly reduced. The government forecasts a revenue increase of 100 billion pesos ($9 billion) to be used for infrastructure investment and social programs for the poor. But no one expects it to spur much growth. Hacienda forecasts that without the reform Mexico would have grown at 3.5% in 2008 and with the reform it will grow at 3.7%, still an anemic rate for a developing country.

What is yet unknown is how the tax changes might affect investment decisions. Some tax experts are already warning that for U.S. investors, paying the AMT could mean double taxation because it is not an income tax and the tax treaty with the U.S. only covers income taxes.

As part of the bargain in Congress, the PRI opposition forced the government to hand Pemex what amounts to an annual tax cut of 30 billion pesos, to grow to 60 billion pesos by 2010. A reform-minded negotiator might have asked for something in return. Pemex is highly inefficient and not likely to improve without competition. Since there is nothing in the Mexican constitution that gives Pemex the right to the monopoly it has in trading energy products like petrochemicals and gasoline, some competition could be introduced without a constitutional amendment. This was also an opportunity to force reform in Pemex's bankrupt pension plan.

The government also had to give up important ground in an electoral reform. It agreed to fire Luis Ugalde, the head of the supposedly independent Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), and the entire board. The hard-left Revolutionary Democratic Party wanted this in order to delegitimize Mr. Calderón's victory last summer. The PRI dinosaurs wanted it to extract revenge against political rivals who worked with former President Vicente Fox to name Mr. Ugalde. Now they have a say in putting their own nominees on the board. The bargain also tightens restrictions on the use of campaign TV and radio spots, outlawing "negative" advertising -- which the IFE will judge subjectively -- and prohibiting private-sector issue ads. In other words, free speech takes a hit in this reform and the IFE board is politicized. Now the only hope that this constitutional change might be defeated is if more than half of Mexican states refuse to approve it.

If not, Mr. Calderón will have won his watered-down fiscal reform but at a high cost. Mexicans have to hope that he starts to think bigger and bolder. This nibbling around the edges of reform is only going to get him eaten alive by the dinosaurs.

Write to O'Grady@wsj.com.
WSJ
25103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: September 17, 2007, 11:59:36 AM
Second post of the day. 

Let Taiwan Join the U.N.
By BOB DOLE
September 17, 2007; Page A16

Tomorrow the United Nations will consider Taiwan's application for membership. It has formally sought admission every year since 1993, but this year's application is different.

First, the country is applying under its own name ("Taiwan") rather than its official appellation ("Republic of China"). Second, it is applying to the U.N. General Assembly, the organization's comprehensive body of member nations -- despite the rejection of its application this summer by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his legal office. Third, the application may be followed by a national referendum on whether Taiwan should apply for U.N. membership under its own name -- a plan that has elicited a sharp rebuke by the Bush administration.

The U.N.'s lawyers argued that, having transferred China's seat from Taipei to Beijing in 1971, the U.N. should reject Taiwan's latest application because Taiwan "for all intents and purposes" is "an integral part of the People's Republic of China." Taiwan presents a more compelling legal case: It meets all of the requirements of statehood under law.

It is already a full and productive member of international organizations such as the World Trade Organization and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. It has never been a province or part of the local government of the People's Republic of China. Taiwan's recent transformation into a modern democratic state supersedes any decades-old determination that gives the PRC a United Nations seat -- even as the U.N. failed to determine that Taiwan is part of the PRC or bestow upon it the right to represent Taiwan.

Taiwan's political case for U.N. membership is equally strong. It is the 48th most populous country in the world. Its economy is the world's 16th largest. Its gross national product totals $366 billion, or $16,098 per capita. With $267 billion in foreign exchange reserves, it is one of the world's three largest creditor states. Taiwan is therefore poised to be a significant contributor to the U.N.'s operations and play a constructive role in the organization.

Unfortunately, the United States and the other major powers discourage Taiwan in its quest for de jure international recognition of its de facto sovereignty. This is because they do not want to raise the ire of the PRC, which, as a member of the U.N. Security Council, can block any significant U.N. action, and, as a global power, can interfere on a host of issues important to the U.S. and Europe.

Thanks to exponentially increased trade with the U.S. and Europe, Beijing feels less compelled than ever to seek political accommodation with Taiwan, or to decrease its military threat against the island nation. Expanding economic relationships may be good in and of itself, but predictions that this would produce political cracks in China's authoritarian regime have proved wrong.

Today, Beijing is using its newfound economic might to isolate Taiwan still further in international organizations and attempt to persuade the two dozen countries that recognize Taiwan diplomatically to switch their ties to China. Meanwhile, the people of the PRC enjoy fewer political rights and civil liberties than in all but a few of the world's countries.

A few short years ago, the U.S. seemed determined to change this. During his 2000 election campaign and the first months of his administration, President Bush and his team vowed to fashion a new foreign policy in which U.S. national interests, particularly in Asia, were advanced less exclusively through the prism of Beijing. In other words, the U.S. wanted to be less beholden to the communist regime.

One of the casualties of 9/11, and the subsequent war in Iraq, was that this policy agenda became less of a priority. Our cooperation with Pakistan in the effort to topple the Taliban, find Osama bin Laden and eradicate terrorism in the region meant that we focused less on developing a higher-tier relationship with India. We also concentrated less on drawing out Japan, by encouraging it to play a more active political and military role on the global stage. Equally important, we were unable to increase our promotion of democracy in the region by fostering closer ties with countries such as Taiwan and South Korea and escalating pressure on Beijing to reform.

The current U.S. administration still has time to correct this omission. Having been an advocate for Taiwan during my time in the Senate, and today as part of a law firm that represents Taiwan's interests in the U.S., I believe that President Bush should support Taiwan's application for U.N. membership. This should be quickly followed by active or tacit support for Taiwan's plans for a popular vote on this issue in March 2008. Our close Asian friend and ally needs and deserves this recognition and support, which would at the same time advance America's regional and global interest in promoting democratization.

Mr. Dole, a former Senate majority leader and the Republican candidate for president in 1996, is special counsel to Alston & Bird.

25104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: September 17, 2007, 11:32:25 AM
This piece from the WSJ goes where others fear to tread:

===========

China's One-Child Mistake
By NICHOLAS EBERSTADT
September 17, 2007; Page A17

If China could take a single decision today to enhance the nation's long-term economic outlook, it would be to recognize that coercive population control has been a tragic and historic mistake -- and to abandon it, immediately.

Such a call might surprise the casual observer, for on its own terms, China's population program has been a superficial success. In the early 1970s, China's then-current childbearing patterns implied nearly five births per woman. At the start of the "one child policy" in 1979, China's total fertility rate was nearly three births per woman. Today, China's fertility rate is far below the "net reproduction rate" -- by many estimates, just 1.7 births per woman nationwide. In some major population centers -- Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin among them -- the average number of births per woman today has fallen below one baby per lifetime.

This "success," however, comes with immense inadvertent costs and unintended consequences. Thanks to a decade and a half of sub-replacement fertility, China's working-age population is poised to peak in size, and then start to decline, more or less indefinitely, within less than a decade. A generation from now, China's potential labor force (ages 15-64) will be no larger than it is today, perhaps smaller. This presages a radical change in China's growth environment from the generation just completed, during which time (1980-2005) the country's working-age population expanded by over 55%.

"Composition effects" only make the picture worse. Until now, young people have been the life force raising the overall level of education and technical attainment in China's work force. But between 2005 and 2030, China's 15-24 age group is slated to slump in absolute size, with a projected decline of over 20% in store. In fact, the only part of the working-age population that stands to increase in size between now and 2030 is the over-50 cohort. Will they bring the dynamism we have come to expect from China in recent decades?

On current trajectories, China's total population will start to decline around 2030. Even so, China must expect a "population explosion" between then and now -- one entirely comprised of senior citizens. Between 2005 and 2030, China's 65-plus age cohort will likely more than double in size, to 235 million or more, from about 100 million now. And because of the fall-off in young people, China's age profile will "gray" in the decades ahead at a pace almost never before witnessed in human history. China is still a fairly youthful society today -- but by 2030, by such metrics as median population age, the country will be "grayer" than the United States -- "grayer," that is, than the U.S. of 2030, not the U.S. of today.

How will China's future senior citizens support themselves? China still has no official national pension system. Up to now, China's de facto national pension system has been the family -- but that social safety net is unraveling, and rapidly. Until very recently, thanks to relatively large Chinese families, almost every Chinese woman had given birth to at least one son -- under Confucian tradition, their first line of support. But just two decades from now, thanks to the "success" of the one-child policy, roughly a third of women entering their 60s will have no living son.

In such numbers, one can see the making of a slow-motion humanitarian tragedy. But the withering away of the Chinese family under population control has even more far-reaching implications.

In Beijing, Shanghai and other parts of China, extreme sub-replacement fertility has already been in effect for over a generation. If this continues for another generation, we will see the emergence of a new norm: a "4-2-1 family" composed of four grandparents, but only two children, and just one grandchild. The children in these new family structures will have no brothers or sisters, no uncles or aunts, and no cousins. Their only blood relatives will be their ancestors.

It is no secret that China is already a "low trust society": Personal and business transactions still rely heavily upon guanxi, the network of personal relations largely demarcated by family ties. What exactly will provide the "social capital" to undergird commercial and economic development in a future China where "families" are, increasingly, little more than atomized households and isolated individuals?

One final consequence of China's population-control program requires comment: the eerie, unnatural and increasingly extreme imbalance between baby boys and baby girls. Under normal circumstances, about 103 to 105 baby boys are born for every 100 baby girls. Shortly after the advent of the one-child policy, however, China began reporting biologically impossible disparities between boys and girls -- and the imbalance has only continued to rise. Today China reports 123 baby boys for every 100 girls.

Over the coming generation, those same little boys and girls will grow up to be prospective brides and grooms. One need not be a demographer to see from these numbers the massive imbalance in the "marriage market" in a generation, or less. How will China cope with the sudden and very rapid emergence of tens of millions of essentially unmarriageable young men?

All of these problems just described are directly associated with involuntary population control. Scrapping this restrictive birth-control policy would surely ease China's incipient aging crisis, its looming family-structure problems and its worrisome gender imbalances. Some in China's leadership may worry that the end of the one-child policy might mean the return to the five-child family -- but in reality, modern China is most unlikely to return to pre-industrial fertility norms.

In the final analysis, the wealth of nations in the modern world is not found in the ground, or the forests, or in other natural resources. The true wealth of modern countries resides in their people -- in human resources. China's people are not a curse -- they are a blessing. The Chinese people, like people elsewhere, are rational, calculating actors who seek to improve their own circumstances -- not heedless beasts who procreate without thought of the future.

Trusting China's people to act in their own self-interest -- not least of all, trusting their choices and preferences with respect to their own family size -- may very well prove to be the key to whether China ultimately succeeds in abolishing poverty and attaining mass affluence in the decades and generations ahead.

Mr. Eberstadt is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. This essay is excerpted from remarks delivered at the World Economic Forum's conference in Dalian, China earlier this month.
25105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 17, 2007, 11:28:07 AM
U.S./IRAQ: The Iraqi government said it is canceling U.S. security firm Blackwater's license to operate in the country. The decision came after security contractors believed to be working for the company allegedly opened fire on civilians during an attack against a U.S. State Department motorcade in Baghdad on Sept. 16. The Iraqi Interior Ministry, noting that eight civilians were killed and 13 wounded in the exchange, said it would prosecute any foreign contractors that were deemed to have used excessive force in the shooting.

IRAQ: The United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the Shiite bloc that leads the Iraqi government, called for Muqtada al-Sadr's political movement to change its decision to pull out of the alliance, saying the withdrawal jeopardizes national unity. The pullout leaves the UIA with 32 fewer seats in parliament, giving Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government only 136 of 275 seats it can count on, including 53 seats from two Kurdish groups.

stratfor.com
25106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / New Terrorism Case Confirms That Denmark Is a Target on: September 17, 2007, 11:22:09 AM
With the shadings for which the NY Slimes is known, here is this on the Homeland dangers faced by Denmark:
=============
This article was reported by Nicholas Kulish, Souad Mekhennet and Eric Schmitt, and written by Mr. Kulish.

 
Muslims see hypocrisy in Denmark’s talk of human rights and its actions in places like Afghanistan, said Imran Shah, 31.
COPENHAGEN, Sept. 16 — After three terrorism cases in less than two years, including an alleged bombing plot broken up this month, intelligence officials say tiny Denmark is on the front line in the battle against Islamic terrorism in Europe.

“Even though we’ve prevented one terrorist attack, we know that there are still people in Denmark and abroad that have the capacity, the will and the ability to carry out terrorist attacks in Denmark,” Jakob Scharf, the head of Danish intelligence, said in an interview in his office here.

He was referring to predawn raids on Sept. 4 that resulted in the arrests of eight suspects, two of whom are still in custody on terrorism charges and are accused of planning a bombing attack.

American authorities helped Danish security officials locate the suspects through electronic intercepts from Pakistan, just as they did in arrests the same day in a bombing plot in southern Germany, intelligence officials in Washington said. They said one of the men in the Danish case received instruction within the past 12 months in explosives, surveillance and other techniques at a terrorist training camp in Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan.

With Europe again focused on the threat posed by terrorist plots, Denmark illustrates the powerful interplay between foreign agitation and domestic discontent. The country became a target of foreign Islamist terrorist groups two years ago after a conservative newspaper here published controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, drawing worldwide attention. At home, the children of Muslim immigrants complain of job discrimination and integration problems, feeding the disenchantment of the small but growing Muslim population.

“In the schools, Danish teachers are always talking about democracy and human rights, but now they see what Denmark is doing in Afghanistan and what they did here with the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad,” said Imran Shah, 31, who leads a youth group at a local mosque. “They ask themselves, is this a democracy or are they talking about double standards?”

While much of the world’s attention was focused on the arrests that took place that same day in Germany, but were announced one day later, intelligence officials here and in Washington said at least one suspect in the Danish group had direct ties to leading figures in Al Qaeda, which has regrouped in northwestern Pakistan.

“What’s coming from this is that they are now able to give military and terrorist training and able to plan and steer specific operations in Europe,” Mr. Scharf, the Danish intelligence chief, said. “Al Qaeda is back.”

Mr. Scharf drew a clear distinction between independent or loosely affiliated groups drawing inspiration from Al Qaeda’s ideology and specific control of plans for attack, saying the Danish bomb plot was clearly the latter. “I’m not indicating a direct phone line to Osama bin Laden,” he said, but leading members are able to “direct operations outside of Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

This case was the first time officials here have linked an operation in Denmark to the group that masterminded the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

While Mr. Scharf underscored the threat posed by Islamic terrorism, he also differentiated between the religion of Islam and those who commit violence in its name, an important distinction in a country where debates over the role of Islam in a traditionally Christian society have often been contentious and the lines sometimes blurred.

The case in Denmark also highlights the uneasy coexistence of intelligence and prosecution. Danish authorities gave no indication of the quantity of explosive material found in Copenhagen this month, but they said suspects had begun mixing precursor chemicals for bombs. Of the eight men arrested, the authorities quickly released six of them, fueling skepticism about the strength of the case and the government’s ability to turn arrests into convictions.

In the first of the recent terrorism cases, stemming from arrests in October 2005, three of the four defendants found guilty by jurors had their verdicts overruled by a three-judge review panel. The fourth was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison on terrorism charges, and prosecutors say they will retry another. In the second case, nine suspects were initially arrested, of whom four are on trial. The court proceedings are under way in Copenhagen.

“They are manipulating the press and the public by giving the impression that they have a very serious case,” said Bjoern Elmquist, a lawyer for defendants in two of the cases, including this one. “They are scaring people.”

With a population of 5.5 million, Denmark is smaller than New York City by several million people, but it is a disproportionately large target on jihadist Web sites. Not only did Denmark achieve infamy across the Muslim world for the publication of the Muhammad cartoons, which incited violent and even deadly protests in other countries, it also has troops both in Afghanistan and Iraq.

-------

Page 2 of 2)

There are no official statistics, but researchers estimate that there are roughly 210,000 Muslims in Denmark. It is not a homogeneous group but is split among Turks, Iraqis, Bosnians and others. That jihadist Web sites have been translated into Danish for such a small and disparate group demonstrates the interest and effort they are putting into the country.

The Heimdalsgade mosque which, according to a Danish newspaper, was attended by suspects in all three of the alleged plots.
Mr. Scharf said the profile of Muslim men pulled into extremism was young, “normally in the age from 16 to 25.” The young men are courted by mentors whose job is to identify those predisposed to a jihadi mind-set, radicalize them and put them in touch with others who could help them plan violent acts.

“This is not taking place when the imam is preaching in the mosque,” Mr. Scharf said. “I think that these imams play a very important role in preventing the radicalization” of young Muslims.

Mohammed el-Banna, an imam from the famous family of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, said, “They like heroes, and heroes, from their point of view, are not those who talk but those who fight.” He preaches at a mosque in Heimdalsgade that Politiken, a leading newspaper here, reported had been attended by suspects in all three of the alleged plots. “We cannot check the ID cards of people who attend the prayers,” he said.

Mr. Banna, 49, moved to Denmark from Egypt in 1985. He is a Danish citizen and has four children, the eldest of whom is studying computer science at a university in Denmark. Saying he was speaking for himself and not the mosque, Mr. Banna said that before the cartoon controversy, Denmark enjoyed a very good reputation in the Muslim world, as a nation that did business in the Middle East rather than fighting or keeping colonies there.

For second-generation Muslims coming of age after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the American-led invasion of Iraq, it is a different story. Mr. Banna said young men had come to him looking for religious justification to go and fight in Iraq. “When I told them that there is no justification, they would look for someone else to get the justification,” he said.

The generational gap is a concern not only for security officials, but for Muslim parents grappling with the anger of their children.

“Young people have a problem of identity,” said Bilal Assaad the spokesman for the Community of Islam Mosque in Copenhagen, which led the protests here against the Muhammad cartoons. “They were born in Denmark but they don’t feel Danish. They don’t have good possibilities to get jobs because their name is Muhammad. My son tells me, ‘Yes I can see that I’m Muslim, but I can’t see that I’m Danish.’ ”

Mr. Shah, the youth group leader, said, “When I’m going on a train with my backpack, people start to look at me in a different way.” He said that he appreciated the irony of the fact that, while under suspicion on his commute, he was on the way to his job as a security guard at the airport.

Of the 11 locations searched by Danish authorities in the recent raids, it was an apartment on Glasvej Street in a mixed neighborhood of Muslim immigrants and ethnic Danes where investigators say the bomb-making materials were found. The front door is cracked where it was broken open by a police battering ram.

The apartment was occupied by two brothers of Pakistani descent. Both were arrested in the raids. The older of the two, who is 24, was released after less than a day. “They came at 2 o’clock,” he said. “They broke open the door. They broke everything. They came as animals.”

He added that he had not seen his brother since going to sleep the night before their arrest. Under Danish law, the authorities do not release the names of suspects, and he asked not to have his name used. The authorities say he remains under investigation.

“I work all day,” he said in a soft voice. “I don’t know what my brother and his friends do.”

25107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: September 17, 2007, 11:06:32 AM
Stratfor.com

1139 GMT -- IRAN, UNITED STATES -- The Iranian military has the capacity to strike U.S. interests in the Middle East within a 1,250-mile range, Gen. Mohammad Hassan Koussechi, a top official in Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said Sept. 17. The U.S. Army has encircled Iran, but if it strikes on any of the 2,000 Iranian targets it has identified, it will be attacked, Koussechi said. Separately, Iran's official media has launched a campaign accusing French President Nicolas Sarkozy of being driven by U.S. interests. The campaign was triggered by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner's comments about a possible war with Iran.

1112 GMT -- IRAN -- Iran will reconsider its $15 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) deal with French oil firm Total because of differences over the price paid to Tehran, Iranian Oil Minister Gholam-Hossein Nozari said Sept. 16. Iran, which believes Total's price to market the agreed 5.5 million tons of LNG is too high, asked Total to submit a new quote earlier this year. "We think this amount should be supplied to the market and not to Total," Nozari said.

0145 GMT -- FRANCE, IRAN -- French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner warned Sept. 16 that the world must prepare for the possibility of war with Iran over its nuclear development program. He said the possibility is unlikely, but that the world "must prepare for the worst."
25108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: September 17, 2007, 11:05:08 AM
GM:

Certainly that is pertinent to why the US has a hard time getting its act together, but my intention for this thread is to focus more on the articulation of what our strategy is so as to rally the American people.  As noted in a nearby thread, one goes to war with the citizens one has.

Marc
25109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 17, 2007, 10:59:24 AM
stratfor.com

Geopolitical Diary: The Israeli Overflight Mystery Deepens

This weekend, the mystery of the Israeli aircraft over northern Syria became more important and even less clear than it was before. The story began Sept. 6 with a report from Syria that an Israeli aircraft had dropped ordnance over northern Syria and had been forced by Syrian air defenses to retreat from Syrian airspace. Syria reported sonic booms in the North as, they would have it, the Israeli plane went west toward the Mediterranean at supersonic speeds. This was mysterious, as the Syrians reported no damage and only a single plane. We assumed it was an Israeli reconnaissance flight.

Then, during a meeting of Syrian and Turkish leaders, the Turkish government reported that two auxiliary fuel tanks from Israeli planes had been found in Turkish territory, close to the Syrian frontier. That would indicate that the Israelis were operating very close to the Turkish border, had been detected by the Syrians, released their fuel tanks and took off. That story left two unsolved mysteries: First, what were the Israelis looking for that close to the Turkish border -- or more precisely, right on the Turkish border? And second, why were the Turks so touchy about some drop tanks that were, after all, left behind by Israel, a country with which Turkey has close military relations? And of course, that takes us back to why the Israelis would be monitoring events on the Turkish-Syrian border themselves instead of just asking the Turks.

Then, this weekend, Washington started leaking, with the media carrying a series of utterly contradictory explanations from unnamed American sources. The Washington Post ran a report by an American "expert on the Middle East" (pedigree unclear, but obviously impressive enough to be used by the Washington Post). The Post report said the target was a Syrian facility officially labeled by Syria as an "agricultural research center." The attack was linked with the arrival of a ship in a Syrian port carrying goods from North Korea labeled as "cement." According to the Post's expert, it wasn't clear what the ship was actually carrying, but the consensus in Israel was that it was delivering nuclear equipment. Meanwhile, an unnamed source in The New York Times said the mission was indeed a reconnaissance flight tracking North Korean nuclear equipment. So, two of the major U.S. newspapers have both had similar leaks. This is clearly the official unofficial position of the U.S. government.

The problem with this theory is not with the idea that a North Korean ship might be carrying nuclear equipment to Syria. The problem is the idea that Syria would have a nuclear research facility smack on its border with Turkey. Turkish-Syrian relations are not always warm, and in fact are frequently quite nasty. The idea that the Syrians would conduct ultra-secret nuclear research (or store such equipment) on the Turkish border is a little hard to buy. If we were them, we would like to see our valuable nuclear research out of mortar range of a hostile power -- but perhaps the Washington Post's expert is on to something.

Another leak, provided by Israel to the London Times, hinted that there were chemical weapons at the site, and that the attack (note that this leak claimed there was an attack and not simply a reconnaissance flight) helped save Israel from an "unpleasant surprise." A sub-leak from the Israelis was that the target destroyed in the raid was a store of chemical weapons. So the Americans are talking about North Korean nuclear technology while the Israelis are talking about chemical weapons. Amos Yadlin, head of Israeli military intelligence, said that he would not discuss the matter, then went on to discuss it by saying that Israel now has the deterrent capability against Hezbollah that it didn't have in 2006. Perhaps the chemical weapons were to be shipped to Hezbollah?

The least credible story of the bunch, which came from the British paper the Observer, was that the raid might have been a dry run for an attack on Iran. That is of course possible, but we are having trouble understanding how flying to the Turkish-Syrian border would constitute a dry run for anything beyond flying to the Turkish-Syrian border.

We do not mean to be flip. We think that this raid or reconnaissance flight, or whatever it was, was important. It's importance was less about U.S.-Syrian relations than about Syrian-Turkish relations. That relationship has been critical to both countries for years. If the Syrians are actually storing anything sensitive along the Turkish-Syrian border, that would mean that the Syrians might have some sort of understanding with the Turks that would be extremely important for the region. For us, the location of the facility is more startling than the possibility of a North Korean shipment, chemical weapons or even a dry run for a strike on Tehran.

Since when do the Syrians trust the Turks enough to do anything important along the border? Since when do the Israelis have to do reconnaissance flights along the border? The Turks patrol that area pretty intensely. We had thought there was a strong intelligence-sharing program. Perhaps it's no longer a trusted channel? Of course, the Turks somehow might have been complicit in this.

The mystery is deep and we are baffled, but it does not strike us as trivial. Something important happened Sept. 6.
25110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: September 17, 2007, 10:52:45 AM
"[T]he present Constitution is the standard to which we are to
cling. Under its banners, bona fide must we combat our political
foes - rejecting all changes but through the channel itself
provides for amendments."

-- Alexander Hamilton (letter to James Bayard, April 1802)

Reference: Selected Writings and Speeches of Alexander Hamilton,
Frisch, ed. (511)

“Should, hereafter, those incited by the lust of power and prompted by the Supineness or venality of their Constituents, overleap the known barriers of this Constitution and violate the unalienable rights of humanity: it will only serve to shew, that no compact among men (however provident in its construction and sacred in its ratification) can be pronounced everlasting an inviolable.” —George Washington, First Inaugural Address

CONSTITUTION DAY 2007
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America... Done... the seventeenth day of September, in the year of our LORD one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven.” —George Washington and the delegates

INSIGHT
“In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” —Thomas Jefferson

IChThUS IMPRIMIS
“All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid?” —Benjamin Franklin

CULTURE
“A constitution founded on these principles introduces knowledge among the people, and inspires them with a conscious dignity becoming freemen; a general emulation takes place, which causes good humor, sociability, good manners, and good morals to be general. That elevation of sentiment inspired by such a government, makes the common people brave and enterprising. That ambition which is inspired by it makes them sober, industrious, and frugal.” —John Adams

LIBERTY
“If it be asked, What is the most sacred duty and the greatest source of our security in a Republic? The answer would be, An inviolable respect for the Constitution and Laws—the first growing out of the last... A sacred respect for the constitutional law is the vital principle, the sustaining energy of a free government.” —Alexander Hamilton

THE GIPPER
“[A]ll Americans should reflect upon the precious heritage of liberty under law passed on to us by our Founding Fathers. This heritage finds its most comprehensive expression in our Constitution. The framing of the Constitution was an arduous task accomplished in the spirit of cooperation and with dedication to the ideals of republican self-government and unalienable God-given human rights that gave transcendent meaning and inspiration to the American Revolution... The wisdom and foresight of the architects of the Constitution are manifest in the fact that it remains a powerful governing tool to the present day. Indeed, a great British statesman has called it ‘the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.’ For 200 years, people from other lands have come to the United States to participate in the great adventure in self-government begun in Philadelphia in 1787... [A]ll citizens should reread and study this great document and rededicate themselves to the ideals it enshrines.” —Ronald Reagan


25111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: September 16, 2007, 07:49:27 PM
I asked first. 
25112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: September 16, 2007, 07:33:02 PM
Rog?
25113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: September 16, 2007, 06:30:18 PM
Rog: 

The AG fotos certainly took the wind out of my sails precisely because the actions therein violate my sense of what makes me proud to be an American, but AGAIN, it was the Pentagon who informed the press about the INTERNALLY GENERATED investigation.  AG  WAS NOT POLICY.  It was some idiots who got out of hand-- and some of them have been punished.

That said, that is not the only question presented.  To start with, lets put the law school hypothetical question to you:  We know there is a nuclear bomb plan in action.  We capture one of the players and there's a pretty good chance that he knows where the bomb is and what the plan is.  He is our only concrete lead.  If we don't solve the problem, tens of thousands could die, and a goodly piece of American soil could glow for centuries.  What criteria guide you in your questioning?


25114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: September 16, 2007, 06:23:24 PM
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070916/..._france_war_dc


By Francois Murphy 1 hour, 32 minutes ago




PARIS (Reuters) - French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on Sunday his country must prepare for the possibility of war against Iran over its nuclear program, but he did not believe any such action was imminent.


Seeking to ratchet up the pressure on Iran, Kouchner also told RTL radio and LCI television that the world's major powers should use further sanctions to show they were serious about stopping Tehran getting atom bombs, and said France had asked French firms not to bid for tenders in the Islamic Republic.

"We must prepare for the worst," Kouchner said in an interview, adding: "The worst, sir, is war."

Asked about the preparations, he said it was normal to prepare for various eventualities.

"We are preparing ourselves by trying to put together plans that are the chiefs of staff's prerogative (but) that is not about to happen tomorrow," he added.


Tehran insists it only wants to master nuclear technology to produce electricity, but it has yet to comply with repeated U.N. demands that it suspend uranium enrichment and other sensitive work that could potentially be used in producing weapons.


Kouchner's comments follow a similarly hawkish statement by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who said last month in his first major foreign policy speech since taking office that a diplomatic push by the world's powers was the only alternative to "an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran."

Asked if France was involved in any planning towards war, he said: "The French army is not at the moment associated with anything at all, nor with any maneuver at all."


"PEACE IS IN YOUR INTEREST"

France has said repeatedly it wants the U.N. Security Council to pass tougher sanctions against Iran over its failure to dispel fears that it is secretly pursuing nuclear weapons.


"We do not want to signal anything other than 'peace is in your interest, and in ours too,"' Kouchner said, adding that the door should be left open to negotiations with Tehran, but Paris has made a suspension of nuclear work a condition for talks.

The United States, Germany, France and Britain have led a diplomatic drive to punish Iran for refusing to halt its uranium enrichment program. They succeeded in persuading reluctant Russia and China to back two U.N. sanctions resolutions.


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tehran would not give up its nuclear program.

"Of course we will not abandon our right to nuclear technology," he told state television. "They (the West) talks about imposing sanctions on Iran, but they can not do it."


Washington says the time has to expand the penalties and has called a September 21 meeting of the six powers to discuss a third sanctions resolution to submit to the U.N. Security Council.


Kouchner said France had asked its biggest companies, including oil giant Total and gas firm Gaz de France, not to bid for projects in Iran.

"We have already asked a certain number of our large companies to not respond to tenders, and it is a way of signaling that we are serious," Kouchner said.


"We are not banning French companies from submitting. We have advised them not to. These are private companies. But I think that it has been heard and we are not the only ones to have done this."

In addition, Paris and Berlin were preparing possible European Union economic sanctions against Tehran, Kouchner said.

"We have decided to ... prepare ourselves for possible sanctions outside the U.N. sanctions and which would be European sanctions. Our German friends proposed it. We discussed it a few days ago," Kouchner said.
__________________
25115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 16, 2007, 07:45:45 AM
Prosecutors: USF students had explosive materials, instructions. Case against pair shown
Prosecutors: USF students had explosive materials, instructions.
By ABBIE VANSICKLE, Times Staff Writer
Published September 15, 2007


The U.S. Attorney's Office opened up about what was found in the car of two USF students: pipes stuffed with fertilizer, Karo syrup, kitty litter, bullets and fuses, a laptop with Internet searches about martyrdom, Hamas and Qassam rockets and video instructions for turning a child's toy into a detonator.



Ahmed Abda Sherf Mohamed waived his right to a bail hearing. His attorney said he didn't think bond would be granted to him.


The judge ordered Yousef Samir Megahed, 21, to post $200,000 bail, to remain at his family's home, and to leave only for religious services and to meet with his attorneys.




TAMPA - Pipes stuffed with fertilizer, Karo syrup and kitty litter. Bullets and fuses. A laptop with Internet searches about martyrdom, Hamas and Qassam rockets. Video instructions for turning a child's toy into a detonator.

After weeks of silence, the U.S. Attorney's Office opened up about its case against two University of South Florida engineering students facing explosives charges, implying that Youssef Megahed and Ahmed Mohamed had something sinister in mind when they left Tampa in early August and headed north.

Despite the grim implications of what the government presented, prosecutors said they had no "hard, specific evidence" of a motive or answers for a judge's questions about what the men intended to do with the items, prompting U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Jenkins to set bail for one of the men, although he remains in custody pending appeal.

The question of intent has been the biggest puzzle since Aug. 4, when Megahed, 21, and Mohamed, 26, were pulled over for speeding in Goose Creek, S.C., and arrested after a deputy became suspicious and searched the pair's car.

From the start, Megahed's family has said the young man went on a harmless road trip, the whims of college students on summer vacation. The family and supporters filled Courtroom 14B on Friday afternoon, and Megahed's siblings were beaming after the judge's ruling.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hoffer laid out the government's case, saying they view the men as dangerous and at risk of fleeing to their home country of Egypt, a place that doesn't always return fugitives to the United States.

Here's what Hoffer said:

When federal agents searched the men's car, a Toyota Camry registered to Megahed's brother, Yahia Megahed, they found the stuffed pipes wrapped in plastic bags in the trunk alongside a 5-gallon container of gasoline.

Explosives experts categorized the items in the trunk as incomplete pipe bombs, each large enough to blow out windows in a room but not strong enough to destroy a house. Potassium nitrate is a low-grade explosive otherwise used as fertilizer. Kitty litter bound the ingredients while syrup could add fuel.

"I think you can safely say it's a bomb," said Edward Dreizin, a New Jersey Institute of Technology chemical engineering professor.

Agents also found a box of bullets underneath the front passenger seat, where Megahed sat. On a laptop hastily unplugged, agents discovered sites that concerned them, including searches of Qassam rockets, weapons developed by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, often made with steel pipe, liquid sugar and potassium nitrate.

The men were taken into custody and separately questioned. Megahed said he knew nothing about the materials in the trunk, Hoffer said. But when both men were put in the back of a squad car, they spoke to each other in Arabic. In that conversation, which was secretly recorded, Megahed asked Mohamed what happened to the pipes, if they exploded.

As agents dug deeper into the men's background, they found troubling information, Hoffer said.

In July, Mohamed posted a video on YouTube that explained how to transform a toy remote controlled car into a detonator, Hoffer said. The 12-minute video is narrated by a man speaking Arabic with an Egyptian accent. It shows no face, only hands.

"Mohamed admitted he made and uploaded it," Hoffer said.

The video's narrator says it's meant "to save one who wants to be a martyr for another day in battle," Hoffer said. The narrator also mentions a previous example that used a remote controlled toy boat. Federal agents searched the New Tampa home of Megahed's family and found a remote controlled toy boat, Hoffer said.

The judge asked if there was a definite link between the two, and Hoffer said no.

The evidence against Mohamed wasn't the focus, though, because he waived his right to a bail hearing. His attorney, Lionel Lofton, was in Tampa on Friday, but said he didn't think a hearing would have been useful at this time.

"I did not feel he would be granted a bond," he said.

Prosecutors also questioned Megahed's interest in weapons. He recently purchased a .22-caliber rifle and had inquired about a Berreta handgun, Hoffer said. Agents found the rifle inside a storage shed, along with welding and scuba diving equipment.

Megahed had joined a shooting range.

"It certainly raised interesting questions when he's training ... he buys a firearm with a scope," Hoffer said.

Prosecutors said Megahed also had "multiple Egyptian passports" and went to Sears in late July to get more passport-sized photos. There were two passports for Megahed with two different names, Hoffer said.

But Assistant U.S. Public Defender Adam Allen said one of the passports had expired, and that Megahed had used another version of his family's name on the document.

Agents did not seize the passports when they searched the Megahed home, Hoffer said, and they feared, if released, Megahed could flee to Egypt, which does not always extradite fugitives back to the United States. Megahed's extensive travel, both to Egypt and to other countries, including Canada, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, also concerned prosecutors.

When Megahed was arrested, he carried only a California-issued identification card and a photocopy of an immigration green card, Hoffer said.

Allen asked the judge to consider that Megahed had no criminal record and could be closely watched by his family.

"I don't think the government's evidence against my client is overwhelming," he said. He called the evidence against Mohamed "pretty damning."

The judge found the evidence to be "strong" but not "overwhelming" enough to prove Megahed was a dangerous flight risk that must be jailed until trial. "I do agree that he poses danger," she said.

She ordered him to post $200,000 bail, to remain at his family's home, and to leave only for religious services and to meet with his attorneys. His family also was required to consent to a search at any time.

After the hearing, prosecutors immediately filed an appeal, which will likely be addressed next week, Allen said.

As they filed from the courtroom, Megahed's family smiled.

"I'm happy, I'm really happy," said his sister, Mariam Megahed, 18. She said prosecutors couldn't back up much of what they suggested, and the judge knew it.

"Maybe they don't have any evidence because she kept asking questions, questions and more questions," she said.

Ahmed Bedier, director of the Central Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, was quick to distinguish between Megahed and Mohamed.

"It's obvious there are two separate individuals with different charges and different allegations," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if the two individuals end up having separate cases altogether."

He defended Megahed, saying it appeared he "just happened to be in the car." But he had harsher words for Mohamed.

If he could talk to Mohamed, Bedier said, "I'd say, 'Wake up!' "

He added, "Muslims don't get a second chance when they dabble with things like this. Not only will this have consequences on him, but it will have consequences on most of the Muslims in this country."


Found in the car

When a routine traffic stop led police to search a car driven by Youssef Megahed, here's what was found:

- Three pieces of PVC pipe cut into various sizes, 1 foot or less, filled with potassium nitrate (used in fertilizer) and Karo syrup. Cat litter was used to bind those ingredients.

- Safety fuse, 20 feet.

- Electric drill

- Bullets

- Gasoline, 5 gallon canister

- Laptop computer reflecting visits to the following Web sites: a video file that shows Qassam rockets firing, Hamas information, a discussion of martyrdom, M-16 rifle photos

Source: U.S. Attorney's Office

How much power?

Explosive experts interviewed by the Times say the loaded PVC tubes sound like incomplete pipe bombs, lacking only detonators. Each one, while not powerful enough to blow up a house, could blow out the windows in a room. However, without a detonator, the devices would simply have burned slowly. The chemical combination would not produce what people would typically think of as fireworks.

Sources: Edward Dreizin, New Jersey Institute of Technology chemical engineering professor; Vilem Petr, Colorado School of Mines explosive engineering professor; Van Romero, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology vice president for research



[Last modified September 14, 2007, 23:56:02]

http://www.wnd.com/redir/r.asp?http..._pair_sho.shtml
25116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 16, 2007, 07:43:20 AM
WOW!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Uzi Mahnaimi in Tel Aviv, Sarah Baxter in Washington and Michael Sheridan

IT was just after midnight when the 69th Squadron of Israeli F15Is crossed the Syrian coast-line. On the ground, Syria’s formidable air defences went dead. An audacious raid on a Syrian target 50 miles from the Iraqi border was under way.

At a rendezvous point on the ground, a Shaldag air force commando team was waiting to direct their laser beams at the target for the approaching jets. The team had arrived a day earlier, taking up position near a large underground depot. Soon the bunkers were in flames.

Ten days after the jets reached home, their mission was the focus of intense speculation this weekend amid claims that Israel believed it had destroyed a cache of nuclear materials from North Korea.

The Israeli government was not saying. “The security sources and IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] soldiers are demonstrating unusual courage,” said Ehud Olmert, the prime minister. “We naturally cannot always show the public our cards.”
Related Links

* A tale of two dictatorships: The links between North Korea and Syria

The Syrians were also keeping mum. “I cannot reveal the details,” said Farouk al-Sharaa, the vice-president. “All I can say is the military and political echelon is looking into a series of responses as we speak. Results are forthcoming.” The official story that the target comprised weapons destined for Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite group, appeared to be crumbling in the face of widespread scepticism.

Andrew Semmel, a senior US State Department official, said Syria might have obtained nuclear equipment from “secret suppliers”, and added that there were a “number of foreign technicians” in the country.

Asked if they could be North Korean, he replied: “There are North Korean people there. There’s no question about that.” He said a network run by AQ Khan, the disgraced creator of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, could be involved.

But why would nuclear material be in Syria? Known to have chemical weapons, was it seeking to bolster its arsenal with something even more deadly?

Alternatively, could it be hiding equipment for North Korea, enabling Kim Jong-il to pretend to be giving up his nuclear programme in exchange for economic aid? Or was the material bound for Iran, as some authorities in America suggest?

According to Israeli sources, preparations for the attack had been going on since late spring, when Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, presented Olmert with evidence that Syria was seeking to buy a nuclear device from North Korea.

The Israeli spy chief apparently feared such a device could eventually be installed on North-Korean-made Scud-C missiles.

“This was supposed to be a devastating Syrian surprise for Israel,” said an Israeli source. “We’ve known for a long time that Syria has deadly chemical warheads on its Scuds, but Israel can’t live with a nuclear warhead.”

An expert on the Middle East, who has spoken to Israeli participants in the raid, told yesterday’s Washington Post that the timing of the raid on September 6 appeared to be linked to the arrival three days earlier of a ship carrying North Korean material labelled as cement but suspected of concealing nuclear equipment.

The target was identified as a northern Syrian facility that purported to be an agricultural research centre on the Euphrates river. Israel had been monitoring it for some time, concerned that it was being used to extract uranium from phosphates.

According to an Israeli air force source, the Israeli satellite Ofek 7, launched in June, was diverted from Iran to Syria. It sent out high-quality images of a northeastern area every 90 minutes, making it easy for air force specialists to spot the facility.

Early in the summer Ehud Barak, the defence minister, had given the order to double Israeli forces on its Golan Heights border with Syria in anticipation of possible retaliation by Damascus in the event of air strikes.

Sergei Kirpichenko, the Russian ambassador to Syria, warned President Bashar al-Assad last month that Israel was planning an attack, but suggested the target was the Golan Heights.

Israeli military intelligence sources claim Syrian special forces moved towards the Israeli outpost of Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights. Tension rose, but nobody knew why.

At this point, Barak feared events could spiral out of control. The decision was taken to reduce the number of Israeli troops on the Golan Heights and tell Damascus the tension was over. Syria relaxed its guard shortly before the Israeli Defence Forces struck.

Only three Israeli cabinet ministers are said to have been in the know � Olmert, Barak and Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister. America was also consulted. According to Israeli sources, American air force codes were given to the Israeli air force attaché in Washington to ensure Israel’s F15Is would not mistakenly attack their US counterparts.

Once the mission was under way, Israel imposed draconian military censorship and no news of the operation emerged until Syria complained that Israeli aircraft had violated its airspace. Syria claimed its air defences had engaged the planes, forcing them to drop fuel tanks to lighten their loads as they fled.

But intelligence sources suggested it was a highly successful Israeli raid on nuclear material supplied by North Korea.

Washington was rife with speculation last week about the precise nature of the operation. One source said the air strikes were a diversion for a daring Israeli commando raid, in which nuclear materials were intercepted en route to Iran and hauled to Israel. Others claimed they were destroyed in the attack.

There is no doubt, however, that North Korea is accused of nuclear cooperation with Syria, helped by AQ Khan’s network. John Bolton, who was undersecretary for arms control at the State Department, told the United Nations in 2004 the Pakistani nuclear scientist had “several other” customers besides Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Some of his evidence came from the CIA, which had reported to Congress that it viewed “Syrian nuclear intentions with growing concern”.

“I’ve been worried for some time about North Korea and Iran outsourcing their nuclear programmes,” Bolton said last week. Syria, he added, was a member of a “junior axis of evil”, with a well-established ambition to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The links between Syria and North Korea date back to the rule of Kim Il-sung and President Hafez al-Assad in the last century. In recent months, their sons have quietly ordered an increase in military and technical cooperation.

Foreign diplomats who follow North Korean affairs are taking note. There were reports of Syrian passengers on flights from Beijing to Pyongyang and sightings of Middle Eastern businessmen from sources who watch the trains from North Korea to China.

On August 14, Rim Kyong Man, the North Korean foreign trade minister, was in Syria to sign a protocol on “cooperation in trade and science and technology”. No details were released, but it caught Israel’s attention.

Syria possesses between 60 and 120 Scud-C missiles, which it has bought from North Korea over the past 15 years. Diplomats believe North Korean engineers have been working on extending their 300-mile range. It means they can be used in the deserts of northeastern Syria � the area of the Israeli strike.

The triangular relationship between North Korea, Syria and Iran continues to perplex intelligence analysts. Syria served as a conduit for the transport to Iran of an estimated £50m of missile components and technology sent by sea from North Korea. The same route may be in use for nuclear equipment.

But North Korea is at a sensitive stage of negotiations to end its nuclear programme in exchange for security guarantees and aid, leading some diplomats to cast doubt on the likelihood that Kim would cross America’s “red line” forbidding the proliferation of nuclear materials.

Christopher Hill, the State Department official representing America in the talks, said on Friday he could not confirm “intelligence-type things”, but the reports underscored the need “to make sure the North Koreans get out of the nuclear business”.

By its actions, Israel showed it is not interested in waiting for diplomacy to work where nuclear weapons are at stake.

As a bonus, the Israelis proved they could penetrate the Syrian air defence system, which is stronger than the one protecting Iranian nuclear sites.

This weekend President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran sent Ali Akbar Mehrabian, his nephew, to Syria to assess the damage. The new “axis of evil” may have lost one of its spokes.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle2461421.ece
25117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 15, 2007, 09:37:08 PM
"The Dems thought so as long ago as 1998 when regime change became the official policy of the US govt.


"You guys seem to think the Democrats are blind, stupid, evil, or all of the above 99% of the time (and frankly, I agree), but you clearly have no issues with them on their decision to support the war.  I consider them pretty much as complicit as Bush & co. in all of this, so don't expect what they "believe" to mean all that much to me."

The point under discussion at the moment is the belief that there was an unacceptable risk that SH had/was developing WMD.  My point is that, contrary to your original comment, it was NOT only the Bush White House that believed and propagaged this, but also included a remarkably broad and diverse spectrum intel agencies of many countries, the UN  shocked , 1998 Democrats, post 911 Republicans, etc
25118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: September 15, 2007, 08:54:56 PM
This is an area of considerable dis-ease for me.  I can think of scenarios wherein torture is justifiable e.g. stopping an attack, but the slippery slope aspects of this are considerable. 

There is the separate question of where the line is to be drawn.  I'd have no problem bathing someone in pig fat precisely because of the emotional distress it would trigger even as there would be no physical harm-- yet as I understand it this is not allowed.  Likewise ploys that seek to exploit Islamo-fascist neuroses about women.  I do not understand why the BGs in Guantanamo are provided Korans. 

I also think the Bush-Rumbo team has badly mishandled all this at the cost of considerable damage to the fighting pride of the American people and our good name in the world see e.g. the Bybee memo referenced in one of GM's posts.  (BTW kudos here to GM for typically stellar job in providing in extremely short order pertinent and precise data on the questions being raised)  Yes, the MSM and the liberal left have done their best to get the interrogation story distorted and lied about, but IMHO the Bush-Rumbo team have plenty of responsibility for how really fcuked up things have gotten.
25119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: September 15, 2007, 07:59:01 PM
"......What I'am against is lying about it. I believe in war times extreme messures are necassary."

But not lying?  Does that make sense to you?
25120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 15, 2007, 07:56:30 PM
"I find it hard to believe that so many people in our government and intelligence agencies (who presumably know a lot more than me) could be so easily fooled."

Well, the CIA missed the collapse of the Soviet Empire.  Intel failures are NOT a great rarity.  As has been noted here many times, MOST intel agencies thought it probable/plausible that SH had or was working on WMD.  The Dems thought so as long ago as 1998 when regime change became the official policy of the US govt.  C'mon Rog, how many times do you need to see the quotes of the various big name Dems during the Clinton administration who thought that SH had/wes going for WMD?  His failure to live up to his obligations to prove to the UN he had disposed of the WMD is precisely why there was an UN embargo!!!  Its precisely why the UN passed Resolution 1441!!! Yet for some reason which eludes logic you insist on trying to portray things as "I find it hard to believe that so many people in our government and intelligence agencies (who presumably know a lot more than me) could be so easily fooled."

Its things like this that lead some to despair of serious conversation with you.


25121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 15, 2007, 05:58:45 PM
Rog: I don't recall Bush saying we had to go to war because Saddam violated a cease-fire.  I do recall him saying Iraq definitely had working WMD and was months away from having the capability to nuke us, both of which turned out to be complete BS.  Clearly this doesn't matter to you.

MD  Actually the failure of SH to live up to the conditions of the cease fire was exactly the point of Resolution 1441.  SH, reassured by the French that they would via the UN leash us from going in and apparently to bluff Iran, pretended to have/be developing WMD.  The blame for our getting it wrong is his-- not ours.

ROG:  That does sound like an interesting record.  I'm kind of surprised that somebody with your background seems so willing to take so many of our government's claims regarding Iraq, terrorism, etc. at face value.

MD:  Will that background and your surprise cause any shift in your thinking?  Why/why not?
25122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: September 15, 2007, 05:18:57 PM
"My opinion is that the Saudis have only moved against AQ in Saudi Arabia out of fear for their own security."

My idea of an outstanding and reliable motive  cheesy
25123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: September 15, 2007, 12:45:59 PM
Tom:

From the interesting article GM posted:

"Later, the CIA is said to have used “water-boarding”—temporarily submerging a detainee in water to induce the sensation of drowning—on Khalid Sheik Mohammad, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Water-boarding is the most extreme method the CIA has applied"

If it were done to me, I'd think I had been tortured.  I'm only aware of it being applied to KSM, and perhaps a small number of others. 

Do you think this adds up to simply saying that the "US tortures"?  What did you think of the article GM posted?  Are you opposed to waterboarding in all cases?

25124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 15, 2007, 12:34:52 PM
Good to see alert citizens doing their part.   In that vein, here's this:

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

http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070915/COMMENTARY/109150001/1008
 
John Doe in post-9/11 era
Michelle Malkin
September 15, 2007

"If only." Those are the verbal crutches America must discard in a post-September 11, 2001, world.

If only the State Department hadn't been so sloppy in issuing visas to the September 11 hijackers. If only police and state troopers had been able to check the immigration status of the hijackers who were pulled over for speeding before the attacks. If only universities had been more diligent in monitoring the hijackers' whereabouts. If only the feds had listened to alert agents' recommendations to profile young Arab students in our flight schools. If only someone, anyone, had said something when they saw the suspicious behavior of the jihadists on dry runs.

We have borne the bloody costs of coulda-woulda-shoulda. Nearly 3,000 dead. The World Trade Center in ruins. The Pentagon on fire. The fields at Shanksville, Pa., scarred. Six years later, we can no longer afford hindsight heavy breathing. Memory must guide action. And action must be taken without apology.

Zogby released a poll for the sixth anniversary of the September 11 attacks showing that "77 percent of those living in the East and 46 percent of those living in the West — 61 percent overall — said they think about the attacks at least weekly. Eighty-one percent — 90 percent in the East and 75 percent in the West — said the attacks were the most significant historical events of their lives."

That's good news. But remembrance without resistance to jihad and its enablers is a recipe for another September 11. Not every American wears a military uniform. Every American, however, has a role to play in protecting our homeland — not just from Muslim terrorists, but from their financiers, their public relations machine, their Shariah-pimping activists, the antiwar goons, the civil liberties absolutists and the academic apologists for our enemies.

Earlier this year, jihadist enablers attempted to intimidate citizen whistleblowers who said something about the suspicious behavior of six imams on a US Airways flight in Minneapolis-St. Paul. The legal battle to protect ordinary Americans from such lawsuits gave rise to the John Doe movement. Pro bono lawyers and Republican members of Congress stepped up to provide protection. And Americans across the country expressed solidarity with the airline passengers targeted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations and its ilk.

The Left greeted the John Doe movement with mockery and derision, preferring instead to suck its collective thumb, wield the grievance card and play the blame game. But it's the John Does of the country, not the race-hustling litigators and speech-stiflers, who will help prevent the next terrorist attack. They are John Does like Brian Morgenstern, the young Circuit City employee who contacted authorities after viewing a jihadist training video by the Fort Dix Six Plotters.

"It was a difficult decision at first," Mr. Morgenstern told Fox News. "I went home, and I talked with my family about it. And we all came to the general conclusion that it was the right thing to do." No regrets. No apologies. And no "if onlys."

Not everyone is willing to do the right thing. When the FBI recently asked for the public's help in identifying two men acting suspiciously on Pacific Northwest ferries, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper refused to run the photos — and instead held a reader haiku contest mocking the terrorism concerns. When two young Muslim men were arrested and indicted on weapons and terrorism charges after being stopped near a naval base in Goose Creek, S.C., Muslim civil rights groups immediately cried racism and suggested law enforcement officials were bigoted and paranoid.

There are September 10 people and there are September 12 people. The September 10 people live in a world of make-believe, where sensitivity trumps security and second-guessing is their only acceptable homeland security policy. September 12 people are the John Does in your neighborhood, on your plane, train or bus, moving ahead with their lives but always on alert.

We live in post-September 11 reality where "Never forget" is not just a once-a-year slogan. It's a 24/7 frame of mind.



Michelle Malkin is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of "Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild."

 
25125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: September 15, 2007, 12:20:27 PM
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070915/COMMENTARY/109150003/1008
 
 
Scapegoats yet again
Victor Davis Hanson
September 15, 2007

Who recently said: "These Jews started 19 Crusades. The 19th was World War I. Why? Only to build Israel." Some holdover Nazi?

Hardly. It was former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan of Turkey, a NATO ally. He went on to claim that the Jews — whom he refers to as "bacteria" — controlled China, India and Japan, and ran the United States.

Who alleged: "The Arabs who were involved in September 11 [2001] cooperated with the Zionists, actually. It was a cooperation. They gave them the perfect excuse to denounce all Arabs." A conspiracy nut? Actually, it was former Democratic U.S. Sen. James Abourezk of South Dakota. He denounced Israel on a Hezbollah-owned television station, adding: "I marveled at the Hezbollah resistance to Israel.... It was a marvel of organization, of courage and bravery."

And finally, who claimed at a U.N.-sponsored conference that democratic Israel was "much worse" than the former apartheid South Africa and that it "undermines the international community's reaction to global warming"? A radical environmentalist wacko? Again, no. It was Clare Short, a member of the British Parliament and Tony Blair's international development secretary.

A new virulent strain of the old anti-Semitism is spreading worldwide. This hate — of a magnitude not seen in more than 70 years — is not just espoused by Iran's loony president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or radical jihadists. The latest anti-Semitism is also now mouthed by world leaders and sophisticated politicians and academics. Their loathing often masquerades as "anti-Zionism" or "legitimate" criticism of Israel. But the venom exclusively reserved for the Jewish state betrays existential hatred.

Israel is always lambasted for entering homes in the West Bank to look for Hamas terrorists and using too much force. But last week the world snoozed when the Lebanese army bombarded and then crushed the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, which harbored Islamic terrorists.

The world has long objected to Jewish settlers buying up land in the West Bank. Yet Hezbollah, flush with Iranian money, is now purchasing large tracts in southern Lebanon for military purposes and purging them of non-Shi'ites.

Here at home, "neoconservative" has become synonymous with a supposed Jewish cabal of Washington insiders who hijacked U.S. policy to take us to war for Israel's interest. That our State Department is at the mercy of a Jewish lobby is the theme of a recent high-profile book by professors at Harvard University and the University of Chicago.

Yet when the United States bombed European and Christian Serbia to help Balkan Muslims, few critics claimed American Muslims had unduly swayed President Clinton. And charges of improper ethnic influence are rarely used to explain the billions in American aid given to nondemocratic Egypt, Jordan or the Palestinians — or the Saudi oil money that pours into U.S. universities.

The world likewise displays such a double standard. It seems to care little about the principle of so-called occupied land — whether in Cyprus or Tibet — unless Israel is the accused. Mass murdering in Cambodia, the Congo, Rwanda and Darfur has earned far fewer United Nations' resolutions of condemnation than supposed atrocities committed by Israel. A number of British academics are sponsoring a boycott of Israeli scholars but leave alone those from autocratic Iran, China and Cuba.

There are various explanations for the new anti-Semitism. For many abroad, attacking Jews and Israel is an indirect way of damning its main ally, the United States — by implying Americans are not entirely evil, just hoodwinked by those sneaky and far more evil Jews.

At home, there are obvious pragmatic considerations. Some Americans may find it makes more sense to damn a few million Israelis without oil than it does to offend Israel's adversaries in the Middle East, who number in the hundreds of millions and control nearly half the world's petroleum reserves.

Cowardice explains a lot. Libeling Israel won't earn someone a fatwa or a death sentence in the manner comparable criticism of Islam might. There are no Jewish suicide bombers in London, Madrid or Bali. This new face of anti-Semitism is so insidious because it is so well disguised, advanced by self-proclaimed diplomats and academics — and now embraced by the supposedly sophisticated left on university campuses.

When national, collective or personal aspirations are not met, it is far easier to blame someone or something rather than to look within for the source of the failure and frustration. More recently, someone must be blamed for getting terrorists (with oil and its profits behind them) mad at us.

That someone is — no surprise — once again Jews.



Victor Davis Hanson is a nationally syndicated columnist and a classicist and historian at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and author of "A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War."

 
25126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 15, 2007, 11:04:38 AM
C'mon Rog.  I didn't say it doesn't exist.  I simply said it lacks coherence.

"Concerning our decision to go into Iraq being illegal or not, IMHO President Bush committed an error in going back to the UN after receiving Resolution 1441, which I would argue empowered us to go in as a legal matter.  As a political matter though, the President thought it better to go back for ,  , , re-approval.

IMHO there really is no coherent thing such as international law.  When has the UN gotten upset for the French going into west Africa, or NATO into Serbia-Croatia?  I don't recall any General Assembly votes on any of that or other similar cases.  OTOH it was a big deal when Saddam invaded Kuwait.  OTOH it wasn't a big deal when the Arabs tried wiping out Israel.  OTOH , , , well you get the idea"

I would also add that international law was rarely invoked against the Soviet Empire's sundry expansions.
25127  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: November 18, 2007 Dog Bros Gathering of the Pack on: September 15, 2007, 10:44:20 AM
Not sure what you mean by the ones with soft padding.  As I posted previously, wrestling type are fine.
25128  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine on: September 15, 2007, 10:42:38 AM
http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/concussion/overview.html

A concussion is a brain injury that may result in a bad headache or unconsciousness.
See All » News & Features
Dark Days Follow Hard-Hitting Career in N.F.L. Expert Ties Ex-Player’s Suicide to Brain Damage A Journey Through Concussion's Foggy Terrain In Sports, Play Smart and Watch Your Head Reference from A.D.A.M.
Causes
There are more than a million cases of concussions each year in the United States.

A concussion may result when the head hits an object or a moving object strikes the head. A concussion can result from a fall, sports activities, and car accidents. Significant movement of the brain (jarring) in any direction can cause unconsciousness. How long a person remains unconscious may indicate the severity of the concussion.

Often victims have no memory of events preceding the injury, or immediately after regaining consciousness. More severe head injuries can cause longer periods of memory loss (amnesia).

Usually, a person has the most memory loss immediately after getting hurt. Some of the memory comes back as time goes by. However, complete memory recovery for the event may not occur.

Bleeding into or around the brain can occur with any blow to the head, whether or not unconsciousness occurs. If someone has received a blow to the head, they should be watched closely for signs of possible brain damage.

Things to watch for include repeated vomiting, unequal pupils, confused mental state or varying levels of consciousness, seizure-like activity, weakness on one side of the body or the inability to wake up (coma). If any of these signs are present, immediately call your health care provider.
Back to TopSymptoms
A concussion results from a significant blow to the head. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. They can include:

Loss of consciousness
Memory loss (amnesia) of events surrounding the injury
Headache
Emergency signs:

Persistent unconsciousness (coma)
Altered level of consciousness (drowsy, hard to arouse, or similar changes)
Persistent confusion
Convulsions
Repeated vomiting
Unequal pupils
Unusual eye movements
Muscle weakness on one or both sides
Walking problems
Back to TopSigns and Tests
A neurological examination may show abnormalities.

Tests that may be performed include:

Head CT
MRI of the head
Back to TopTreatment
An initial "baseline" neurological evaluation by a health care worker determines appropriate treatment for an uncomplicated concussion. If a blow to the head during athletics leads to a bad headache, a feeling of being confused (dazed), or unconsciousness, a trained person must determine when the person can return to playing sports.

If a child or young adult has lost consciousness, that person should not play sports for a period of 3 months. Studies have shown that there is an increased rate of brain injury and occasionally death in people who have had a previous concussion with unconsciousness.

Concussion complicated by bleeding or brain damage must be treated in a hospital.
Back to TopExpectations (prognosis)
Full recovery is expected from an uncomplicated concussion, although prolonged dizziness, irritability, headaches, and other symptoms may occur.
Back to TopComplications
Intracerebral hemorrhage
Brain injury
Back to TopCalling Your Health Care Provider
Call your health care provider if anyone has a head injury that produced unconsciousness, or a head injury without unconsciousness produced symptoms that caused concern.

Go to the emergency room, call the local emergency number (such as 911), or contact your health care provider immediately if emergency symptoms develop.
Back to TopPrevention
Attention to safety, including the use of appropriate athletic gear, such as bike helmets and seat belts, reduces the risk of head injury.
Review Date: 3/21/2006
Reviewed By: Eric Perez, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, St. Luke's-RooseveltHospital Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed HealthcareNetwork.
=============
http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/injury/head-injury/overview.html

A head injury is any trauma that leads to injury of the scalp, skull, or brain. The injuries can range from a minor bump on the skull to serious brain injury.
Head injury is classified as either closed or open (penetrating).
A closed head injury means you received a hard blow to the head from striking an object.
An open, or penetrating, head injury means you were hit with an object that broke the skull and entered the brain. This usually happens when you move at high speed, such as going through the windshield during a car accident. It can also happen from a gunshot to the head.
There are several types of brain injuries. Two common types of head injuries are:
Concussion, the most common type of traumatic brain injury
Contusion, which is a bruise on the brain
See also:
Subarachnoid hemorrhage
Subdural hematoma
See All » News & Features
Man Regains Speech After Brain Stimulation When Seasickness Persists After a Return to Solid Ground When a Brain Forgets Where Memory Is At Risk: One Head Injury Sets the Stage for a Second One in Children Reference from A.D.A.M.
Alternative Names
Brain injury; Head trauma; Contusion
Considerations
Every year, millions of people sustain a head injury. Most of these injuries are minor because the skull provides the brain with considerable protection. The symptoms of minor head injuries usually go away on their own. More than half a million head injuries a year, however, are severe enough to require hospitalization.

Learning to recognize a serious head injury, and implementing basic first aid, can make the difference in saving someone's life.

In patients who have suffered a severe head injury, there is often one or more other organ systems injured. For example, a head injury is sometimes accompanied by a spinal injury.
Causes
Common causes of head injury include traffic accidents, falls, physical assault, and accidents at home, work, outdoors, or while playing sports.

Some head injuries result in prolonged or non-reversible brain damage. This can occur as a result of bleeding inside the brain or forces that damage the brain directly. These more serious head injuries may cause:

Changes in personality, emotions, or mental abilities
Speech and language problems
Loss of sensation, hearing, vision, taste, or smell
Seizures
Paralysis
Coma
Back to TopSymptoms
The signs of a head injury can occur immediately or develop slowly over several hours. Even if the skull is not fractured, the brain can bang against the inside of the skull and be bruised. (This is called a concussion.) The head may look fine, but complications could result from bleeding inside the skull.

When encountering a person who just had a head injury, try to find out what happened. If he or she cannot tell you, look for clues and ask witnesses. In any serious head trauma, always assume the spinal cord is also injured.

The following symptoms suggest a more serious head injury -- other than a concussion or contusion -- and require emergency medical treatment:

Loss of consciousness, confusion, or drowsiness
Low breathing rate or drop in blood pressure
Convulsions
Fracture in the skull or face, facial bruising, swelling at the site of the injury, or scalp wound
Fluid drainage from nose, mouth, or ears (may be clear or bloody)
Severe headache
Initial improvement followed by worsening symptoms
Irritability (especially in children), personality changes, or unusual behavior
Restlessness, clumsiness, lack of coordination
Slurred speech or blurred vision
Inability to move one or more limbs
Stiff neck or vomiting
Pupil changes
Inability to hear, see, taste, or smell
Back to TopFirst Aid
Get medical help immediately if the person:

Becomes unusually drowsy
Develops a severe headache or stiff neck
Vomits more than once
Loses consciousness (even if brief)
Behaves abnormally
For a moderate to severe head injury, take the following steps:

Call 911.
Check the person's airway, breathing, and circulation. If necessary, begin rescue breathing and CPR.
If the person's breathing and heart rate are normal but the person is unconscious, treat as if there is a spinal injury. Stabilize the head and neck by placing your hands on both sides of the person's head, keeping the head in line with the spine and preventing movement. Wait for medical help.
Stop any bleeding by firmly pressing a clean cloth on the wound. If the injury is serious, be careful not to move the person's head. If blood soaks through the cloth, DO NOT remove it. Place another cloth over the first one.
If you suspect a skull fracture, DO NOT apply direct pressure to the bleeding site, and DO NOT remove any debris from the wound. Cover the wound with sterile gauze dressing.
If the person is vomiting, roll the head, neck, and body as one unit to prevent choking. This still protects the spine, which you must always assume is injured in the case of a head injury. (Children often vomit ONCE after a head injury. This may not be a problem, but call a doctor for further guidance.)
Apply ice packs to swollen areas.
For a mild head injury, no specific treatment may be needed. However, closely watch the person for any concerning symptoms over the next 24 hours. The symptoms of a serious head injury can be delayed. While the person is sleeping, wake him or her every 2 to 3 hours and ask simple questions to check alertness, such as "What is your name?"

If a child begins to play or run immediately after getting a bump on the head, serious injury is unlikely. However, as with anyone with a head injury, closely watch the child for 24 hours after the incident.

Over-the-counter pain medicine (like acetaminophen or ibuprofen) may be used for a mild headache. DO NOT take aspirin, because it can increase the risk of bleeding.
Back to TopDo Not
DO NOT wash a head wound that is deep or bleeding a lot.
DO NOT remove any object sticking out of a wound.
DO NOT move the person unless absolutely necessary.
DO NOT shake the person if he or she seems dazed.
DO NOT remove a helmet if you suspect a serious head injury.
DO NOT pick up a fallen child with any sign of head injury.
DO NOT drink alcohol within 48 hours of a serious head injury.
Back to TopCall Immediately for Emergency Medical Assistance if
Call 911 if:

There is severe head or facial bleeding.
The person is confused, drowsy, lethargic, or unconscious.
The person stops breathing.
You suspect a serious head or neck injury or the person develops any symptoms of a serious head injury.
Back to TopPrevention
Always use safety equipment during activities that could result in head injury. These include seat belts, bicycle or motorcycle helmets, and hard hats.
Obey traffic signals when riding a bicycle. Be predictable so that other drivers will be able to determine your course.
Be visible. DO NOT ride a bicycle at night.
Use age-appropriate car seats or boosters for babies and young children.
Make sure that children have a safe area in which to play.
Supervise children of any age.
DO NOT drink and drive, and DO NOT allow yourself to be driven by someone who you know or suspect has been drinking alcohol.
Back to TopReferences
Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 5th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2002.

DeLee JC, Drez, Jr., D, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez’s Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders; 2003.

Goetz CG, Pappert EJ. Textbook of Clinical Neurology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders; 2003:1130-1134.
Review Date: 1/8/2007
Reviewed By: Eric Perez, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

A.D.A.M. Copyright
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc.
25129  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Brain damage in boxing, kickboxing, football, etc: on: September 15, 2007, 10:35:50 AM
In High School Football, an Injury No One Sees
 
Todd Heisler/The New York Times
Kelby Jasmon, left, like many high school teammates, said he would not tell his coach if he thought he had a concussion.

By ALAN SCHWARZ
Published: September 15, 2007
To Kelby Jasmon, there was only one answer. The question: If he received yet another concussion this football season, while playing offensive and defensive line for his high school in Springfield, Ill., would he tell a coach or trainer?

“It’s not dangerous to play with a concussion,” said Kelby Jasmon, a senior two-way player for his high school in Springfield, Ill., who has had three concussions. “You’ve got to sacrifice for the sake of the team. The only way I come out is on a stretcher.”

Jasmon, with his battering-ram, freshly buzz-cut head and eyes that danced with impending glory, immediately answered: “No chance. It’s not dangerous to play with a concussion. You’ve got to sacrifice for the sake of the team. The only way I come out is on a stretcher.”

Jasmon, a senior with three concussions on his résumé, looked at two teammates for support and unity. They said the same thing with the same certainty: They did not quite know what a concussion was, and would never tell their coaches if they believed they had sustained one.

Matt Selvaggio, who plays with Jasmon on both lines, said: “Our coaches would take us out in a second. So why would we tell them?”

Many of the 1.2 million teenagers who play high school football are chanting similar war whoops as they strap on their helmets. They either do not know what a concussion is or they simply do not care. Their code of silence, bred by football’s gladiator culture, allows them to play on and sometimes be hurt much worse — sometimes fatally.

The National Football League has recently faced questions about its handling of concussions after four former players were found to have significant brain damage as early as their mid-30s. But teenagers are more susceptible to immediate harm from such injuries because, studies show, their brain tissue is less developed than adults’ and more easily damaged. High school players also typically receive less capable medical care, or none at all.

At least 50 high school or younger football players in more than 20 states since 1997 have been killed or have sustained serious head injuries on the field, according to research by The New York Times.

Experts say many of these accidents could have been prevented by simple awareness of and respect for their gravity.

Poor management of high school players’ concussions “isn’t just a football issue,” said Robert Sallis, president of the American College of Sports Medicine. “It’s a matter of public health.”

Interviews with players indicate that even those aware of the dangers of concussions ignore them. Coaches, trainers and parents can detect a gimpy knee or a separated shoulder, and act. But a concussion is often the player’s secret. It is the one injury no one sees — until a case like Will Benson’s, which no one forgets.

Benson carried himself with a verticality that captivated teachers, classmates and coaches. A handsome, straight-A student headed for the Ivy League, he was the star quarterback for St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, Tex.

“He loved the idea of playing for his teammates and his brothers on that battlefield of the gridiron,” recalled his good friend and classmate Kashif Sweet, now a senior at Columbia. “He was a naturally tough kid with a high threshold for pain. He liked to endure things, to conquer things, and have people follow him.”

On a play during St. Stephen’s first game of 2002, as a pile of bodies grew too dense to see through, a crack was heard throughout the stadium: the sound of helmet meeting helmet, two shells of polycarbonate alloy crashing together.

Watching from the stands, Judy Ryser, Benson’s mother, heard the sound — everyone did — and turned to a friend next to her.

“Oh, my goodness,” she said. “I hope that wasn’t Will.”

In the stifling heat of July in Alabama, hundreds of high school players from across the United States gathered at Hoover High School outside Birmingham, preparing to compete in a preseason tournament. They ambled about the field in baggy polyester shorts, helmets dangling from their fingers. Give them each five years and 50 pounds, and it could be an N.F.L. rookie camp.

Some sat on the grandstand’s metal benches, waiting for their games to begin. They were asked about concussions.

Garrick Jones, a senior quarterback at Whitehaven High School in Memphis, said he sustained one last year: He was briefly knocked unconscious when a linebacker picked him up and threw him to the ground on his head. No flag was thrown. He said he wobbled to the huddle, took the next snap and dropped back to pass before his vision blurred completely.

“I couldn’t come out — my team needed me,” Jones said. “You have to keep playing — until you can’t.”

===========

Page 2 of 4)



Some players airily guessed at describing a concussion: “You feel dizzy and stuff”; “when you’re cross-eyed”; “when you feel real sleepy”; “it’s like when you turn into someone else.” Only a few of more than 50 players interviewed at the tournament came close to defining the injury: a blow to the head that causes the brain to crash into the skull. Concussion — the word derives from the Latin concutere, meaning shake violently — is typically followed by dizziness, headache, nausea, lethargy, impaired vision or other disruptions in brain function.

 
Will Benson (7) returned to the field two weeks after a hard helmet-to-helmet hit, but left the game saying he felt weird. He died five days later.


Ben Mangan, 20, says he still feels the effects of a concussion in 2002. “I was a B student in math before, but now I sit there and I’m like, Why can’t I get this?”

Studies show that concussions are drastically underreported in high school football in part because many youngsters — even adults — still mistakenly think the injury requires the player to have been knocked unconscious. Athletic trainers report about 5 percent of high school players as having had a concussion each season, studies show, but formal widespread surveys of players strongly suggest the number is much higher.

Anonymous questionnaires that ask specifically about concussions have reported rates among high school football players at about 15 percent each season; when the word concussion is omitted and a description of symptoms is provided instead, close to 50 percent of players say they had one, with 35 percent reporting two or more. Although concussions remain one of the more imprecise diagnoses in sports medicine — magnetic resonance imaging exams and CAT scans cannot detect them — the players’ testimony has been taken by experts to indicate that a vast majority of concussions are not treated.

Asked to define a concussion, Josh Bailey, a senior safety at Patterson High in Louisiana, could not. After being told, he said he definitely had one last year, when his head slammed against another player’s knee. He said no one noticed, and he never considered leaving the game.

“Football, it’s all about contact — you kind of have to suck it up,” Bailey said. “Because you’re going to feel pain. That’s what the game is about. If you don’t put yourself through that, you don’t really love the game.”

The crack on the St. Stephen’s field five years ago was indeed the sound of Will Benson’s helmet slamming into another. He played the rest of the game, which his team lost. Admitting to headaches several days later, Benson sat out the next game — and St. Stephen’s lost again.

“He felt a lot of responsibility,” recalled Jay Lamy, a volunteer coach that season. “He didn’t want to let his teammates down. He knew the impact that he had.”

That influence was felt the next Friday night. Filling his No. 7 uniform as only a star quarterback can, Benson ran for a touchdown in the first quarter.

But later in the half, with seemingly no provocation, he took off his helmet and walked off the field. Benson told his coach he felt weird and had “big blobs” in his vision. He sat on the bench and put a towel over his head. Then a golf cart took him to the trainer’s room.

A few minutes later, Benson was screaming in a way that no one present will ever forget.

“Mom!” he shrieked before he lost consciousness.

“Mom!”

“Mom!”

Doctors call it second-impact syndrome. Almost solely among teenagers, sustaining another blow to the head — even a seemingly benign one — before a first has healed can set off a devastating chain of metabolic events: Cerebral blood flow increases, arteries swell past capacity, and pressure builds inside the brain, often leading to coma and death. Helmets can do only so much to keep youngsters’ brains from sloshing inside their skulls, like the yolk inside an egg.

A recent study in The American Journal of Sports Medicine led by Barry P. Boden of the Orthopaedic Center in Rockville, Md., found that catastrophic football head injuries were three times as prevalent among high school players as college players — and that “an unacceptably high percentage of high school players were playing with residual symptoms from a prior head injury.”

For many victims, staying alive is only the first challenge. Kort Breckenridge of Tetonia, Idaho, has trouble holding down a job because of short-term memory problems stemming from a football brain injury two years ago. Brady Beran of Lincoln, Neb., emerged from a coma reading at a kindergarten level; he remains in physical therapy with hopes of running again.

Second-impact syndrome is relatively rare, however. Experts said that for every such case there can be hundreds of victims of postconcussion syndrome, leaving youngsters depressed, irritable and unable to concentrate, and they sometimes miss school for weeks or perform poorly on tests. Ben Mangan of Lewisburg, Ohio, still has mood swings and cognitive problems deriving from at least one major concussion in 2002.

==========

It definitely has held me back in progressing through school,” said Mangan, now 20 and attending a small Ohio college. “I was a B student in math before, but now I sit there and I’m like, Why can’t I get this? I’ll do the same problem five times and keep getting different answers. It’s really frustrating.”

With no limp or wince to advertise most concussions, coaches and sideline medical staff must be keenly aware of their signs; waiting for gross disorientation or nausea invites disaster.

Diagnostic methods vary in science and scope, but most involve asking questions to gauge a player’s awareness, testing short-term memory by repeating strings of words and numbers backward and forward, and administering short pencil-and-paper tests. Players are encouraged to be re-examined after physical exertion to see if headache or cognitive problems return.

Many school districts require an ambulance and paramedics to be on-site in case of emergencies, but a sideline physician is often a luxury. Only 42 percent of high schools in the United States have access to a certified athletic trainer, according to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

“Budgets are tight,” said Bob Colgate, the assistant director of the National Federation of State High School Associations. “You hate to say that, but it’s a reality.”

Howells High School is among the 77 percent of Nebraska schools without an athletic trainer. The football coach, Mike Spiers, said that he cannot monitor the health of every player, many of whom he speaks with only a few times a game.

“I have a tremendous fear of all injuries that could permanently damage a kid,” Spiers said. “It’s something that may convince me not to do this anymore.”

At midweek practices, which often feature even more banging and tackling than games, volunteer coaches with little training typically evaluate injuries while the head coach calls plays.

Sallis, of the American College of Sports Medicine, joined many experts in saying he was not trying to discourage the playing of football, only the widespread acceptance of playing it unsafely.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “High schools hire a zillion coaches before they wonder about hiring a trainer. If you hire a head football coach, that next hire should be an athletic trainer.”

As Will Benson wailed, vomited, had a seizure and lost consciousness, the ambulance dispatched for him could not find the entrance to the St. Stephen’s campus. According to records released by the local emergency medical services unit, it spent 13 minutes trying to find the trainer’s room.

A helicopter whisked Benson to a hospital as the game continued. Coaches were confused: He had not been involved in any notable hits or tackles in the game.

Bleeding in his brain, Benson slipped into a coma that night and never regained consciousness. A neurosurgeon operated to relieve pressure inside the skull but could not revive him. Five days later, Benson was declared brain dead. He was kept alive overnight so his organs could be harvested for donation.

There is no shortage of unenlightened coaches. Scott Robertson, a volunteer team physician for Nipomo High in Southern California, said he had seen coaches at other schools “berate and ostracize” players who complained of concussion symptoms. Jerry Bornstein, another team physician for several Los Angeles-area schools, said a coach once yelled at him for refusing to let a concussed player return to a game. His response: “I’ll be happy to, Coach, as long as you accept the responsibility for this kid waking up dead tomorrow morning.”

Ellen Marmer, the team physician for Rockville High School in Vernon, Conn., said that after she determined an offensive player from the opposing team was unfit to play after a concussion, his coach had him switch uniforms to try to play defense.

Parents lose perspective as well. Garrick Jones, a quarterback from Memphis, said that the week after his concussion, his father pleaded with the coach to let him play. (The coach won.) Vito Perriello, the team doctor for St. Anne’s-Belfield School in Charlottesville, Va., said, “I have had parents tear up the form that I’ve filled out strongly recommending their child not play, and shop a doc to get their kid O.K.’d.”

==========

(Page 4 of 4)

Yet many experts say that as poorly as adults can behave, it is the football bravado they instill in children, the thirst for competition and the blind eye to pain, that keeps players in the game. More than a dozen high school players at the Alabama tournament said they had hidden concussions from their coaches and medical personnel to stay on the field.

“If the coach knew about it, he’d take us out,” said Matt Arent, a quarterback in Nashville. “They treat us like we’re their own kids. It comes down to the player not telling the coach that something’s wrong.”

Players will hide from trainers and try to sneak back into huddles. They will rehearse answers to impress the trainer, so they won’t forget to use magic phrases like “I don’t have any headache at all” when asked.

One maneuver involves the preseason memory and cognitive tests many schools administer as a baseline for comparison should a player sustain a concussion. Several doctors and trainers said they have heard players boast of purposely doing poorly on the preseason tests so they will be more readily found fit to play.

A paradox has developed in high school football: The more strict the rules, the more likely they are to be evaded by the players they aim to protect. Many doctors support a rule whereby any player sustaining a concussion cannot return to play that day. But Sallis supported a more realistic approach, in which a player may return to the game if doctors are convinced the symptoms have cleared.

If not, Sallis said: “Players are all going to stop telling the team physician that they have any symptoms — they’re going to hide them. Which we know they already do, but I think it’s going to get even worse. It’s putting them at more risk.”

Dick Benson spent five years trying to wring something positive out of his son Will’s death. In June, Will’s Bill, legislation he crusaded for, was signed into law.

It requires every Texas high school coach and official involved in every sport to be trained in basic safety and emergency procedures. Beyond neck injuries and heart attacks, special attention will be afforded to the symptoms of concussion and roots of second-impact syndrome. Benson said: “We’re not teaching people the principles of neurology. This is fundamental, basic stuff.”

The law does not apply to Will’s old high school, however. It originally covered parochial and private schools, but the primary sponsor of the bill, State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, said it became entangled in “a raging school-voucher argument.” The legislation had to be scaled back “over politics,” she said.

Benson said that he hoped that the steps taken in his son’s name would reach other states, but added that the process would be slow at best.

“It usually takes something like Will to get people to take this kind of thing seriously,” he said. “People like learning things the hard way.”

Particularly adolescents. Playing linebacker two years ago, Riley Haynes of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., tackled a running back with such force that he found himself on the ground, all but unconscious, not remembering his name. His head throbbed, and he had no idea where he was.

A teammate reminded him. He jumped on top of Haynes and screamed through his face mask: “That’s football, baby! That’s football, baby!”

Haynes gathered himself, stumbled back to his position and took his stance for the next snap
25130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 15, 2007, 10:18:03 AM
Now that we've read that about Romney, here's Hillary's Health Care:     


Thirteen years after Hillary Rodham Clinton's plan for health care went down to disastrous defeat, she is back with a new proposal that again seeks to cover all Americans but reflects some lessons learned.

 COMPARING THE PLANS

 
• Chart: What the candidates are proposing.
• Complete coverage: Campaign 2008The Democratic presidential candidate is set to unveil her new approach in Iowa Monday, and she will include a requirement that everyone get health insurance. A big difference from last time: She's proposing to build on the existing system of insuring Americans -- a mix of private coverage and government-subsidized care -- not remake it altogether.

Still, Mrs. Clinton's plan, described by people familiar with it, would involve sweeping change. It would create new federal subsidies to aid those who couldn't afford the required health coverage. And it would impose new mandates on large employers to provide health coverage or help pay for it.

That will surely trigger sharp criticism from conservatives branding her plan government-dictated "HillaryCare" and comparing it to the unwieldy overhaul she proposed 13 years ago during her husband's presidency. Yet she may find Americans more receptive to an expanded federal role in health care, as the national mood has changed since the 1990s and states have experimented with universal-coverage plans.

The number of people without insurance has risen to 47 million from 39.7 million in 1993, and insurance premiums have doubled for those with coverage.

Mrs. Clinton's two principal rivals for the Democratic nomination, John Edwards and Barack Obama, both have comprehensive plans that, like Sen. Clinton's, build on action in the states and place mandates on employers. Republicans Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani also have detailed their more market-oriented approaches. Mr. Romney would rely on the states to lead change; Mr. Giuliani wants changes to the federal tax code that would make it easier to buy coverage on the open market.

But no candidate has been as closely watched on the issue as Mrs. Clinton. Health care and Iraq are likely to be the two central issues that define how the New York senator's candidacy is perceived by voters and key constituencies from labor to business.

On the presidential campaign trail, Sen. Clinton regularly mentions her scars from the 1993 effort, saying it gave her the experience to get the job done this time. Aides say she is diligently implementing battle lessons.

Chief among them: Assure people who already like their coverage that they can keep it, and that her plan still offers something for them. To that end, she first offered detailed proposals on reducing health-care costs and improving quality, before moving on to address how she would expand coverage to those who don't have it.

Officials at the Clinton campaign declined to discuss details of the proposal Sen. Clinton is scheduled to release Monday. While people familiar with it said the outline is in place, details could change over the weekend.

Sen. Clinton has telegraphed that, unlike last time, she would be willing to compromise to get a deal. She regularly cites the importance of developing consensus. In recent months, she has met with dozens of executives at large corporations to talk about health care, hoping to forestall a backlash during her campaign and, if she wins, her presidency.

Robert Galvin, director of global health care for General Electric Co., met with her in a small group a few months ago. He says she hit a "home run" in understanding business and its concerns. "I saw in there someone who came out of a tough experience in the '90s wiser, more patient, and with a real understanding of the complexities and how every stakeholder had to have some win," says Mr. Galvin.

 
The Clinton 2007 health plan is likely to be less threatening to the insurance industry, which helped kill her earlier plan. Mrs. Clinton's rhetoric denouncing the industry remains sharp -- but her plan is less so.

Last time, she proposed caps on premiums to hold down costs and a system under which insurance companies would be required to bid for regional business. This time, insurance companies would be required to sell a policy to anyone who applied and would be barred from charging sick people more. But they wouldn't face limits on how much they could charge for premiums generally.

The most significant element of the Clinton plan is expected to be a new requirement for all Americans to have insurance. That disturbs some liberals, who worry that low-income families won't be able to afford it, as well as some conservatives, who object to such a sweeping government mandate. But many health-policy experts say it's essential that everyone be in the insurance system so that healthy people with low medical costs can balance out the sick.

Sen. Edwards, too, has proposed an individual mandate; Sen. Obama has not. Gov. Romney supported the mandate when he was governor of Massachusetts but has not endorsed it nationally.

To help people get insurance, Sen. Clinton would establish federal subsidies for lower-income Americans and create new pools where individuals and small businesses could shop for private health plans.

She is also likely to require that some employers, likely large ones, either cover their workers or help pay the cost of their coverage elsewhere. That will be controversial with employers that don't provide insurance, though likely welcomed by those that do. Exempting small business could eliminate opposition from small-business owners, who helped lead the effort to kill the 1993 plan.

Sen. Clinton also supports expansion of the joint federal-state Children's Health Insurance Program. Conservatives led by President Bush oppose that, saying it's a step toward government-run insurance for all, in what has become something of a proxy for the larger health-coverage debate.

Politically, analysts say the health issue cuts both ways for Sen. Clinton. Polls suggest Americans trust her more than any presidential candidate of either party when it comes to health. A July Gallup poll found that 65% of all voters had a great deal or a fair amount of confidence that she would do the "right thing" for the health-care system. Among Democrats, the figure was 91%.

"People see her as very committed to health care and making sure people in this country have coverage," says Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who worked for opponents of the original Clinton plan and now works for Republican presidential candidate John McCain. Still, he said, Mrs. Clinton is vulnerable among swing voters and Republicans, particularly if she produces a health plan that is seen as too complicated or too government-driven.

In certain circles, her name is synonymous with big, government-run health. Republicans regularly deride health care proposals they don't like as "HillaryCare." A summary of Mr. Romney's health care plan, posted on his Web site, contains the word "Hillary" 23 times, attacks her 1993 plan as "socialized medicine" and is headlined, "The Romney Vision: Conservative, Market-Based Health Care Vs. Hillarycare."

Sen. Clinton says she has learned her lessons. For one, in 1993 the White House got too mired in the details, delivering to Congress a 1,342-page bill for consideration. By giving so many specifics, the Clintons gave opponents with special interests easy fodder to kill the plan, while the public was bewildered.

By contrast, her aides speak admiringly of President Bush's approach on many domestic issues: put out general principles, negotiate the details with Congress and, more often that not, declare victory when a bill reaches his desk.

At one stage, Mrs. Clinton's aides considered not presenting a specific plan for covering the uninsured, noting that many Americans thought she had one already. But pressure from other candidates and from the powerful Service Employers International Union persuaded her to come forward. Messrs. Obama and Edwards had criticized her for sticking to generalities even as they offered specifics.

Aides say Sen. Clinton knows that the White House erred last time in failing to woo Congress, meaning her plan had few champions on Capitol Hill. In her later White House years, Mrs. Clinton learned to work more effectively with Congress and saw some successes, such as bipartisan passage of the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Since winning election to the Senate in 2000, Mrs. Clinton has worked with Republicans on a range of health issues. She allied with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on health benefits for veterans, although he had served as a manager of the effort to impeach her husband. She has even exchanged warm words on health with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who helped lead the effort to torpedo her 1993 plan.
 
25131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 15, 2007, 09:59:49 AM
Concerning Hillary, I think Rudy may be the best to take her on-- his skills as a DA will serve him well in nailing down her evasions of truth and the law.

======
Bringing the Market to Health Care
By JOHN F. COGAN and R. GLENN HUBBARD
September 15, 2007

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's recent health-care reform proposals, which rely on free-market principles and federalism, will go a long way to fixing our health-care system's woes.

The centerpiece of Mr. Romney's plan is to attack the tax code's discrimination against cost-effective private insurance. He proposes to allow individuals to deduct out-of-pocket health-care expenditures from their taxable income, allow individuals who purchase health insurance premiums on their own -- rather than through their employer -- to deduct health insurance premiums, and to expand Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) by eliminating the requirement that a qualifying health plan contain a high deductible.

Virtually all observers have argued that the U.S. tax preference for employer-provided health insurance encourages overconsumption of health services. First, it creates a large financial incentive for workers to purchase as much medical care as they can through their employer's insurance plan. In practice, workers do so by enrolling in health plans with high-premiums, but low-deductibles and coinsurance payments. Such plans, by making the purchase of health-care services appear to be less costly than they really are, create a "moral hazard" that leads to overconsumption of health-care services. Second, the tax preference makes health care look cheaper compared to all other goods and services.

The tax preference's impact has been profound. It is the principal reason why nine out of every 10 private health-care plans in the U.S. are purchased through an employer. It is the principal reason why six out of every seven dollars of health-care spending is made by someone other than the person receiving the care. And, it is a key reason for the U.S. health-care system's excessive cost and waste.

Many economists (including us) have emphasized the large benefits to health care of revoking the tax preference. Yet elected officials have repeatedly failed to enact the change because of strong political opposition.

Over the past 30 years, Congress has instead opted for a second best policy. On a piecemeal basis, Congress has gradually leveled the "tax playing-field" between employer insurance and out-of-pocket expenses by expanding the tax preference to out-of-pocket expenses rather than by eliminating the preference for employer provided insurance.

In 1978, Congress created Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) to allow health expenditures to be nontaxable to the employee. In 1996, Congress created Medical Savings Accounts to allow a limited number of employees of small businesses to set aside funds tax-free for their out-of-pocket expenses.

In 2002, Treasury regulations established Health Reimbursement Accounts to allow employees to use pre-tax dollars for medical expenses without the annual use-it-or-lose-it provision of FSAs. And in 2003, Congress replaced Medical Savings Accounts with far more attractive Health Savings Accounts. HSAs allow employers and individuals with high-deductible health plans to set aside money tax-free to pay their current or future out-of-pocket expenses.

Mr. Romney's proposal to allow individuals to deduct out of pocket medical expenses is a significant advance in this 30-year progression to a level tax playing field between out-of-pocket expenses and insurance. And a more level tax playing field would encourage individuals to choose health plans with lower premiums and higher copayments for their routine health-care purchases. With more "skin in the game," individuals would exert more control over their choice of health-care services. The health-care savings would be large. We estimate that a proposal such as Romney's would reduce private health-care spending by 6%.

Some critics have argued that allowing out-of-pocket expenses to be tax-deductible will raise, not lower, health-care spending because the policy will make the price of direct medical-care purchases cheaper relative to all other goods and services. As our empirical analysis with Daniel Kessler demonstrates, the critics are wrong. The cost-reducing impact on health-care expenditures of individuals shifting into health plans with higher copayments swamps by a large margin the cost-increasing impact of making out-of-pocket purchases cheaper.

The benefits don't stop with reducing the growth in health costs. As employer premiums decline, the savings will accrue to workers in the form of higher money wages. In competitive labor markets, workers -- not employers and not insurance companies -- bear the burden of paying for employer-provided health-insurance premiums. Although employers might write the check for premiums, workers ultimately pay by foregoing money wages.

We estimate that making out-of-pocket expenses tax deductible, combined with Mr. Romney's other proposals, will reduce the average premium of employer-provided family health plans by around $2,300 per year. Workers' wages will rise by this amount on average. To be sure, higher out-of-pocket expenses will offset part of this increase -- $1,000 of it. But workers will still experience a net increase of $1,300 in (taxable) income. Mainly because of this economic effect, we estimate that the U.S. Treasury's revenue loss will be modest -- about $10 billion per year.

Mr. Romney's proposal also allows persons who purchase health insurance on their own to deduct their premium payments. This tax deduction will make insurance significantly less costly for unemployed persons and workers in firms that don't offer insurance coverage. Because both out-of-pocket spending and individually purchased health insurance would be deductible, a person in a 15% tax bracket who purchases a $2,000 health-insurance plan and who has an additional $700 in out-of-pocket expenses would realize a tax savings of $405 -- a 20% reduction in the effective cost of the insurance plan. The lower cost provides significant incentive for currently uninsured individuals to buy at least catastrophic insurance.

Some health-policy experts have questioned why Mr. Romney would seek tax changes beyond those embodied in Health Savings Accounts. Indeed, HSAs are one of the most important health-care policy innovations in decades. If they are to achieve their potential, they must be made more attractive to a broader segment of the population. A key deterrent to choosing an HSA has been the requirement that an individual must be enrolled in a high-deductible health-care plan. The requirement, $1,100 for individuals and $2,200 for families, is simply too high for many consumers.

It is also unnecessary. Mr. Romney's proposal to eliminate the "high deductible" requirement will allow individuals to establish an HSA regardless of their health plan's deductible. Eliminating the high deductible requirement will maintain the cost-reducing benefits of HSAs. Evidence from the RAND Experiment indicates that most of the expenditure-reducing effects of health-plan deductibles occur at low levels of deductibles.

The key to reducing the U.S. health-care system's excessive cost without damaging its ability to innovate is to allow competitive market forces to operate. These forces have worked in every other market to keep costs low and improve quality. There is no reason why they won't work in health care. Attacking the tax code's bias against efficient and cost-effective health insurance is fundamental to creating an economically sound health-care system.

Mr. Cogan, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, was deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Reagan. Mr. Hubbard, dean of Columbia Business School, was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush. They are both advisers to the Romney campaign.
25132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 15, 2007, 09:50:15 AM
I find controlling our border and putting an end to illegal immigration to be vital national interests.  Still there is more to the story than that:

Hispanics and the GOP
How to lose elections in one Lou Dobbs lesson.

Saturday, September 15, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Between 1996 and 2004, the Republican share of the Hispanic vote doubled to more than 40%, only to fall in last year's midterm election to less than 30%. The most recent polls show Hispanics breaking for Democrats over Republicans by 51% to 21%. What gives?

To understand this remarkable erosion of Latino support for Republicans, look no further than the most recent Presidential debates. While GOP candidates debated the urgency of erecting a fence from California to Texas along the Mexican border, Democrats debated in Spanish on Univision.

To reverse current trends, the GOP need not resort to ethnic pandering, which is the left's métier. But Republicans would help their cause tremendously if the party at the very least adopted a welcoming stance toward Latino newcomers. People aren't going to listen to your message unless they believe you care about them. Ronald Reagan didn't regularly receive a third of the Hispanic vote by sounding like Mitt Romney or Fred Thompson on immigration.

Tone matters in politics, and getting people to vote for you is easier when you're not likening them to Islamic terrorists, or implying that Latino men are hard-wired for gang-banging. Unlike blacks, who have hewed to Democrats in large majorities for decades, Latinos are proven swing voters, and Republican energies would be better employed trying to win them over instead of trying to capitalize on ethnic polarization to win GOP primaries.

There's precedent here. In the mid-1990s after California Governor Pete Wilson embraced Proposition 187, which denied education and health-care benefits to the children of illegal aliens, Latino support for Republicans fell to 25% from 53%, and GOP support among Asians and women declined as well.





Some conservatives insist that it's only the illegal aliens who have earned their wrath, but when the target of scorn is the mother or brother or cousin of someone here lawfully, that becomes a difference without much of a distinction politically. Moreover, Tom Tancredo, the pied piper of restrictionists in Congress, wants a "time out" on all legal immigration, and Hispanic voters are wise to the fact that it's not because he thinks there are too many Italians in the U.S. Republican pols may decide to follow Mr. Tancredo, Lou Dobbs, Fox News populists and obsessive bloggers down this path, but it's likely to lead to political defeat.
Hispanics are now about 8% of the electorate, but they're projected to become 20% by 2020 and one-quarter of the total U.S. population by 2050. The political reality is that going forward Hispanics will have to play a bigger and bigger role in keeping the GOP competitive nationally. It's hard to see how Republicans have any hope of building a permanent majority if Hispanics start voting for Democrats in the percentages that blacks already do.

Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona all boast heavy Latino populations and are states that a GOP Presidential candidate probably has to carry unless he can pick up states on the West coast or in the Northeast that Republicans haven't won since the 1980s. President Bush won Nevada, Colorado and Arizona twice. Al Gore won New Mexico in 2000, but it switched to Mr. Bush in 2004 in part because the President did well among the state's large Hispanic population.





Which brings us to a final, somewhat ironic, point about these political and demographic trends. Republican strategists, led by Karl Rove, Ken Mehlman and Matthew Dowd, took note of what was happening long before their Democratic counterparts. As recently as 2004, Democrats still viewed Latinos as voters they could take for granted. The assumption was that, as with blacks, perfunctory appeals to past discrimination would suffice to win them over. John Kerry ran no significant campaign in Hispanic communities and rarely traveled to the Southwest.
But it turns out that 50% of Hispanic voters are foreign-born and grew up speaking Spanish, not nursing racial grievances. That's an increase from 20% in 1988, and most of Mr. Bush's gains among Hispanics in 2004 came from this cohort. The point is that Republican principles--economic or cultural--are not lost on Hispanics, who are hardly wedded to one party, even if some conservatives insist this vote is lost to them. And it's no coincidence the 2008 Democratic convention will be in Colorado, where Hispanics are 19% of the population.

President Bush proved that the GOP could make significant inroads with Latinos, and smart Governors like Rick Perry in Texas and Jeb Bush in Florida have also shown the political wisdom of avoiding anti-immigration appeals. It's unfortunate that other Republicans, including most of Mr. Bush's would-be successors, seem so eager to help the Democrats make up lost ground.

WSJ
25133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: September 15, 2007, 09:30:38 AM
Al Qaeda Offers Bounty for Murder of Swedish Cartoonist
Saturday , September 15, 2007



ADVERTISEMENT
CAIRO, Egypt —

The leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq offered money for the murder of a Swedish cartoonist and his editor who recently produced images deemed insulting to Islam, according to a statement carried by Islamist Web sites Saturday.

In a half hour audio file entitled "They plotted yet God too was plotting," Abu Omar al-Baghdadi also named the other insurgent groups in Iraq that Al Qaeda was fighting and promised new attacks, particularly against the minority Yazidi sect.

"We are calling for the assassination of cartoonist Lars Vilks who dared insult our Prophet, peace be upon him, and we announce a reward during this generous month of Ramadan of $100,000 for the one who kills this criminal," the transcript on the Web site said.

The Al Qaeda leader upped the reward for Vilks' death to $150,000 if he was "slaughtered like a lamb" and offered $50,000 for the killing of the editor of Nerikes Allehanda, the Swedish paper that printed Vilks' cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad with a dog's body on Aug. 19.

Vilks said from Sweden he believed the matter of his cartoons had been blown out of proportion.

"We have a real problem here," Vilks told The Associated Press by telephone. "We can only hope that Muslims in Europe and in the Western world choose to distance themselves from this and support the idea of freedom of expression."

Ulf Johansson, editor in chief of Nerikes Allehanda, said he took the bounty "more seriously" than other threats he had received. "This is more explicit. It's not every day somebody puts a price on your head."

Johansson said he had contacted the police and that they had already started work on the threat.

Aside from a few scattered protests and condemnations by Muslim countries, the reaction to the cartoon has been muted, in contrast to last year's fiery protests that erupted in several Muslim countries after a Danish newspaper published 12 cartoons of Muhammad that were reprinted in a range of Western media.

In an attempt to defuse the tensions caused by the cartoon in both Sweden and abroad, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt last week invited 22 Sweden-based ambassadors from Muslim countries to talk about the sketch.

Reinfeldt expressed regret at the hurt it may have caused, but said that according to Swedish law it is not up to politicians to punish the free press.

Al-Baghdadi added in his message that if the "crusader state of Sweden" didn't apologize, his organization would also attack major companies.

"We know how to force you to retreat and apologize and if you don't, wait for us to strike the economy of your giant companies including Ericsson, Scania, Volvo, Ikea, and Electrolux," he said.

No photo has ever appeared of al-Baghdadi, whom the U.S. describes as a fictitious character used to give an Iraqi face to an organization dominated by foreigners.

The U.S. has said that under interrogation, a top Al-Qaeda member revealed that al-Baghdadi's speeches are read by an actor.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq in the past has carried out operations in Jordan and may have links to militant groups in Lebanon, but is not known to have any kind of presence in Europe.
25134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 15, 2007, 09:01:35 AM
The Times of India -Breaking news, views. reviews, cricket from across India
 
Musharraf set to do a Lalu on Pakistan
15 Sep 2007, 0000 hrs IST, Chidanand Rajghatta,TNN

SMS NEWS to 58888 for latest updates
 WASHINGTON: Lalu Prasad Yadav's wild popularity in Pakistan is the stuff of political lore, but Pakistanis might not have bargained for the Bihari leader's buccaneering brand of proxy politics at home.

Military ruler Pervez Musharraf is all set to do a Lalu on the hapless nation, foisting his wife Sehba as a proxy presidential candidate to get around the constitutional and judicial hurdles he faces.

Under a formula hammered out under Uncle Sam's watchful eyes, Sehba Musharraf will be a cover candidate for Musharraf in the upcoming Presidential poll, with or without Benazir Bhutto running for Prime Minister.

The military government will also allow exiled prime minister Nawaz Sharief's wife Kulsoom Nawaz to return to Pakistan and run for election if she wishes maintaining that she is not bound by the exile arrangement that has kept her husband and his brother out of the country.

That would give the exercise a modicum of respectability, while promoting the image of Pakistan as a moderate Islamic society that allows women a role in the affairs of the state.

It will also mean Pakistan emulating Bangladesh, where two women -- Begum Hasina Sheikh and Begum Khaleda Zia -- have been locked in a familial power struggle for more than a decade.

The family project -- which will come into effect only if Musharraf himself is unable to get elected --has the imprimatur of the U.S which wants a firm handle on what is now acknowledged as the world's most dangerous and unstable state without having to deal with the uncertainties of democracy.

While Musharraf will continue to be the power behind the Sehba-Benazir dispensation which is in the offing, the power behind Musharraf will be the United States, which incidentally is home to Musharraf's son Bilal, who recently graduated from Stanford, and his brother Naveed, who lives in Chicago.

The mastermind of this Made-in-USA arrangement is said to be former intelligence czar and Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who is credited with managing delicate regime changes in Latin America.

Negroponte and his state department colleague, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, were very much in the picture in Islamabad when the Musharraf regime forcibly deported Nawaz Sharief with help from Bush ally, the House of Saud, in contravention of a Supreme Court ruling.

Washington has repeatedly winked at Musharraf's political, constitutional and judicial transgressions, describing them as Pakistan internal matter, while paying lip service to democracy and free elections.

In effect, while Musharraf does a Lalu on his country, Negroponte is doing a Honduras on Pakistan.

As the US ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985, Negroponte propped up a military government led by Policarpo Paz García as a bulwark against the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua, which had close ties to both Cuba and the Soviet Union.

Political crackdowns and human rights exercise by the Garcia regime reported in the U.S media and observed by American lawmakers and activists were glossed over in Washington's ''larger'' interests, an argument that is being advanced in the Pakistan's case too vis-a-vis the war on terror.
 
25135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 15, 2007, 08:55:07 AM
GM:

I'd love to read the "The American Male: Threat or Menace" piece!  If you have it handy, would you be so kind as to email it to me?
25136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: September 15, 2007, 08:49:09 AM
I've read George Friedman's "America's Secret War" and as my postings here amply attest, subscribe to his Stratfor-- which I find to be outstanding.  My reading of those of them on point to this issue is that there has been some success to getting the House of Saud to get tough(er) on AQ in SA.

Completely agreed on the Bush administration's communication skills and its tone deafness!  Could part of the problem be that if we were to articulate our true reasons that it would present serious political problems for those whom we seek to have as allies?
25137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: September 15, 2007, 08:43:56 AM
That was a very interesting read GM.  Thank you for taking the time to post it.
25138  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Pensar en positivo. on: September 15, 2007, 08:23:03 AM
Sumamente importante el tema aqui.

Yo quisiera anadir un pequeno cuento judio aqui sobre el tema de autoengano mencionado arriba por Ceclio:

Habia un hombre que obedecia todas las reglas de la religion.  Y cuando rezaba, pidio a Dios que el ganara la loteria.  Pasaba varios anos pidiendo a Dios que el ganara la loteria.  Al fin, el se harto' del proceso, se enojo' con Dios y le dijo 

"!Dios!  !Yo quiero saber!  Yo he obedecia todas las reglas que Ud. ha ordenado, y he rezaba por anos para ganar la loteria pero no he ganado la loteria y yo quiero saber ?por que'?"

Contesto' Dios "!Hombre! !Ayudame!  Compre un boleto."

Osea, nuestras acciones tienen que ser consistentes con los deseos de nuestras palabras.  Como dice Cecilio "Pensar positivamente es más que un pensamiento positivo. Debe estar fundamentado en la práctica y dominio de tácticas y técnicas de supervivencia."

Espero que se pueda entender mi espanol.
25139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 15, 2007, 01:34:08 AM
Why do you think it will be after the election, instead of before?
25140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: September 15, 2007, 01:32:55 AM
What do you think of the recently articulated Korean example, i.e. that with agreement of the Iraqi govt. we seek to leave troops there for a long time?

How do we articulate this to the American people?  Was this part of our strategy all along?  If so, why is this news to so many of us now?
25141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 15, 2007, 01:30:02 AM
Rog:

"I'm not a lawyer, but as I understand it, international law is very clear about "aggressive war" (attacking a sovereign nation that hasn't attacked you) being a big no-no.  We either accept the authority of international law or we don't, but I don't see it as even debatable that we violated it."

While in law school, I studied "international law", was on the Board of Directors of the Society of International law for the school, and received the Parker Award for International Law.  None of which means diddly I know, but at least membership in the Soc. for Intl Law got me a 10 day trip to Cuba during the brief period at the end of the Carter years when it was legal to do so.  My one year in law, in Washington DC, was for a firm that billed itself as an international law firm.

What I carried away from this was that a lot of it was utterly meaningless and really more a matter of Conflict of Laws i.e. a determination of whose law applies. 

For example, one case on which I briefly worked was about a client whom had a ship seized in Iran shortly before the Khomeni Revolution.  Jurisdiction in US Federal Court was obtained and proceedings began.  Then the Khomeni govt. nationalized the company that had seized our client's ship.  Not recognizing the jurisdication of US federal court, it stopped showing up and we won a default judgement on the merits.  All that remained was a determination of damages.  Then the US-Iranian Claims tribunal was set up for all pending disputes between the US, its citizens, and Iran and its citizens.  Question presented:  Did the Claims tribunal have to accept the US federal court default decision and rule only on damages, or did it the case get litigated de novo?

Concerning our decision to go into Iraq being illegal or not, IMHO President Bush committed an error in going back to the UN after receiving Resolution 1441, which I would argue empowered us to go in as a legal matter.  As a political matter though, the President thought it better to go back for ,  , , re-approval.

IMHO there really is no coherent thing such as international law.  When has the UN gotten upset for the French going into west Africa, or NATO into Serbia-Croatia?  I don't recall any General Assembly votes on any of that or other similar cases.  OTOH it was a big deal when Saddam invaded Kuwait.  OTOH it wasn't a big deal when the Arabs tried wiping out Israel.  OTOH , , , well you get the idea.
25142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Internet and related technology on: September 15, 2007, 01:07:20 AM
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070913112659.htm

Scientists Use 'Dark Web' To Snag Extremists And Terrorists Online

Science Daily — Terrorists and extremists have set up shop on the Internet, using it to recruit new members, spread propaganda and plan attacks across the world. The size and scope of these dark corners of the Web are vast and disturbing. But in a non-descript building in Tucson, a team of computational scientists are using the cutting-edge technology and novel new approaches to track their moves online, providing an invaluable tool in the global war on terror.

Funded by the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies, Hsinchun Chen and his Artificial Intelligence Lab at the University of Arizona have created the Dark Web project, which aims to systematically collect and analyze all terrorist-generated content on the Web.
This is no small undertaking. The speed, ubiquity, and potential anonymity of Internet media--email, web sites, and Internet forums--make them ideal communication channels for militant groups and terrorist organizations. As a result, terrorists groups and their followers have created a vast presence on the Internet. A recent report estimates that there are more than 5,000 Web sites created and maintained by known international terrorist groups, including Al-Qaeda, the Iraqi insurgencies, and many home-grown terrorist cells in Europe. Many of these sites are produced in multiple languages and can be hidden within innocuous-looking Web sites.
Because of its vital role in coordinating terror activities, analyzing Web content has become increasingly important to the intelligence agencies and research communities that monitor these groups, yet the sheer amount of material to be analyzed is so great that it can quickly overwhelm traditional methods of monitoring and surveillance.
This is where the Dark Web project comes in. Using advanced techniques such as Web spidering, link analysis, content analysis, authorship analysis, sentiment analysis and multimedia analysis, Chen and his team can find, catalogue and analyze extremist activities online. According to Chen, scenarios involving vast amounts of information and data points are ideal challenges for computational scientists, who use the power of advanced computers and applications to find patterns and connections where humans can not.
One of the tools developed by Dark Web is a technique called Writeprint, which automatically extracts thousands of multilingual, structural, and semantic features to determine who is creating 'anonymous' content online. Writeprint can look at a posting on an online bulletin board, for example, and compare it with writings found elsewhere on the Internet. By analyzing these certain features, it can determine with more than 95 percent accuracy if the author has produced other content in the past. The system can then alert analysts when the same author produces new content, as well as where on the Internet the content is being copied, linked to or discussed.
Dark Web also uses complex tracking software called Web spiders to search discussion threads and other content to find the corners of the Internet where terrorist activities are taking place. But according to Chen, sometimes the terrorists fight back.
"They can put booby-traps in their Web forums," Chen explains, "and the spider can bring back viruses to our machines." This online cat-and-mouse game means Dark Web must be constantly vigilant against these and other counter-measures deployed by the terrorists.
Despite the risks, Dark Web is producing tangible results in the global war on terror. The project team recently completed a study of online stories and videos designed to help train terrorists in how to build improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Understanding what information is being spread about IED methods and where in the world it is being downloaded can improve countermeasures that are developed to thwart them.
Dark Web is also a major research testbed for understanding the propaganda, ideology, communication, fundraising, command and control, and recruitment and training of terrorist groups. The Dark Web team has used the tools at their disposal to explore the content and impact of materials relating to "virtual imams" on the Internet, as well as terrorist training and weapons manuals.
Dark Web's capabilities are also being used to study the online presence of extremist groups and other social movement organizations. Chen sees applications for this Web mining approach for other academic fields.
"What we are doing is using this to study societal change," Chen says. "Evidence of this change is appearing online, and computational science can help other disciplines better understand this change."

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by National Science Foundation.
25143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 14, 2007, 06:56:32 PM
Going to be interesting to see how that plays out!

Here's this:

Security chief says terrorists have been arrested on border
By Jeff Carlton / Associated Press
Article Launched: 09/12/2007 07:09:01 PM MDT


DALLAS -- Texas' top homeland security official said today that terrorists with ties to Hezbollah, Hamas and al-Qaida have been arrested crossing the Texas border with Mexico in recent years.
"Has there ever been anyone linked to terrorism arrested?" Texas Homeland Security Director Steve McCraw said in a speech to the North Texas Crime Commission. "Yes, there was."

His remarks appear to be among the most specific on the topic of terrorism arrests along the Texas-Mexico border. Local and elected officials have alluded to this happening but have been short on details.

Leticia Zamarripa, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in El Paso, said Wednesday she was unaware of any border arrests of people with terrorist ties. An ICE spokeswoman in San Antonio did not return phone messages left by The Associated Press. U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Lloyd M. Easterling was unable to comment.

However, McCraw's remarks are similar to those made recently by National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell, who last month told the El Paso Times that a small number of people with known links to terrorist organizations have been caught crossing the border.

McCraw identified the most notable figure captured as Farida Goolam Mahomed Ahmed, who was arrested in July 2004 at the McAllen airport. She carried $7,300 in various currencies and a South African passport with pages missing. Federal officials later learned she waded across the Rio Grande.

After her arrest, U.S.


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Advertisement

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Customs and Border Protection issued a release saying she was wanted for questioning about the bombing of a U.S. Consulate office, jibing with similar statements from a U.S. congressman.
But the department quickly retracted the terrorism connection, calling it "inaccurate on several levels." Michael Shelby, then the U.S. attorney in Houston, said in January 2005 that any suggestion Ahmed was involved in terrorism "is in error."

According to federal court records, Ahmed pleaded guilty to improper entry by an alien, making a false statement and false use of a passport. She was sentenced to time served and deported to South Africa. Other details of the case were sealed.

But on Wednesday, McCraw described Ahmed as having ties to an insurgent group in Pakistan and whose specialty was smuggling Afghanis and other foreign nationals across the border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Michael Friel could not confirm details about Ahmed on Wednesday.

McCraw also said that since March 2006, 347 people from what he called "terrorism-related countries" have been arrested crossing the border in Texas. The number of Iraqis captured at the border has tripled since last year, he said.

"A porous border without question is a national security threat," he said.

Terrorism isn't the only concern for homeland security officials in Texas, McCraw said. The state's size, population and geography make it susceptible to all sorts of disasters, both natural and man-made. Emergency responders must also be prepared for natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and wildfires, he said.

The state has made significant strides in emergency planning since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and Hurricane Rita, McCraw said. Plans include cooperating with large private companies, including grocery stores, Wal-Mart and the oil industry, to help the state respond during disasters.

"This is not a shot at FEMA, but we can't depend on FEMA to protect Texas," McCraw said. "The governor's mandate has made it clear: If those buses don't come, we better have our own buses. If that food doesn't come,we better have our own food. If that water doesn't come, we better have our own water to take care of Texas."



25144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: September 14, 2007, 06:55:36 PM
GM:

Let's keep on track with the mission of this thread.  What do you think of President Bush's speech yesterday?

M.
25145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: September 14, 2007, 04:33:37 PM
Woof Rog:

Given the concept of this particular thread, it makes most sense to me for it to be for people strategizing in favor of our success in these things, not opposing it.  By all means please continue to carry on in the other threads.

Marc

=========

Woof All:
---

From Jihadwatch

"Many U.S. Muslim groups viewed as moderate by the Justice Department and other government agencies secretly are linked to the pro-terrorist Muslim Brotherhood"

At last the truth -- the truth we have repeated here for years -- is coming out. "Inside the Ring," by Bill Gertz in the Washington Times (thanks to Matthew):
The international Sunni jihadist group Muslim Brotherhood set up numerous U.S. front groups since the 1990s that should be regarded as hostile and a threat to the United States, a Pentagon Joint Staff analyst said.

Stephen Caughlin, a lawyer and military intelligence specialist on the Joint Staff, stated in a Sept. 7 memorandum that many U.S. Muslim groups viewed as moderate by the Justice Department and other government agencies secretly are linked to the pro-terrorist Muslim Brotherhood. The groups also are engaged in influence and deception operations designed to mask their true aims, he said.

Documents entered into evidence in the federal terrorism trial in Dallas of the Holy Land Foundation, a charity charged with illegally funding the Palestinian Hamas terrorist group, reveal new security threats from a network of more than 29 U.S. Muslim groups.

"These documents are beginning to define the structure and outline of domestic jihad threat entities, associated nongovernmental organizations and potential terrorist or insurgent support systems," Mr. Caughlin said.

Specifically, a 1991 Muslim Brotherhood memorandum "describes aspects of the global jihad's strategic information warfare campaign and indications of its structure, reach and activities," Mr. Caughlin said.

The Muslim Brotherhood memo on organizing Muslims in North America said that all members "must understand their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within, and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions."

Mr. Caughlin said in his memo that "consequently, outreach strategies must be adjusted in the face of credible information that seeming Islamic humanitarian or professional nongovernmental organizations may be part of the global jihad with potential for being part of the terrorist or insurgent support system," he said.

Mr. Caughlin said the 1991 memorandum identifies the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) as part of the Muslim Brotherhood. The ISNA, one of more than 300 unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation trial, recently became a subject of controversy among officials who opposed the Justice Department's participation in a conference held last month, despite opposition from two members of Congress.
In August, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, and Rep. Sue Myrick, North Carolina Republican, wrote to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to oppose the Justice Department's attendance at the ISNA conference in Chicago as a "grave mistake" because it would legitimize a group with "extremist origins."

The Justice Department said in response that its participation at the Labor Day weekend meeting was part of "outreach efforts ... to educate the public about how the department works to protect religious freedom, voting rights, economic opportunity, and many other rights."

Mr. Caughlin warned in his memo that such outreach "can cause those responsible for its success to so narrowly focus on the outreach relationship that they miss the surrounding events and lose perspective."

"This could undermine unity of effort in homeland security, lead to potential for embarrassment for the [U.S. government] and legitimize threat organizations by providing them domestic sanctuary."

No war of Ideas

Sen. Joe Lieberman pressed senior U.S. intelligence and security officials this week on what the Bush administration is doing to counter the ideology of Islamic extremism domestically and internationally.

The answer from the top officials: Not much.

Mr. Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said during a hearing Monday that a war of ideas is needed to counter Islamic extremists.
"Because this is a war, but it is ultimately a war against, and with, an ideology that is inimical to our own values of freedom and tolerance and diversity," the Connecticut independent said.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III revealed during the hearing that the FBI has no counterideology response other than its "outreach" to Muslim-American communities so they "understand the FBI" and address "the radicalization issue," he said.

Asked whether the FBI has a responsibility to wage a battle of ideas within U.S. Muslim-American communities, Mr. Mueller said: "You put that where I would say no, that it would not be our responsibility for any religion to engage in the war of ideas."

The FBI's responsibility, he said, is "to explain that once one goes over the line and it becomes not a war of ideas but a criminal offense, this is what you can expect, and to elicit the support of those in whatever religious community to assist us in assuring that those who cross that line are appropriately investigated and convicted."

The comment shows that despite the creation of a dedicated FBI intelligence-gathering branch, the bureau remains limited to investigation and law enforcement.

Retired Vice Adm. Scott Redd, head of the National Counterterrorism Center who has a strategic operational role in countering terrorism, said one of the "four pillars" of the U.S. war strategy is the "war of ideas," but he noted that there is no "home office" for that effort in the United States.
Retired Vice Adm. Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence, said the intelligence community does not conduct any battle of ideas against terrorists in the United States unless there is a foreign connection.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff also said nothing is being done domestically to battle Islamist extremist ideas. The department's incident management team, he said, is focused on civil rights or civil liberties — not fighting terrorists' ideology.
25146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 14, 2007, 03:13:59 PM

http://www.heritage.org:80/Research/Immigration/bg2069.cfm
September 13, 2007
A Sleeper Amnesty: Time to Wake Up from the DREAM Act
by Kris W. Kobach, D.Phil., J.D.
Backgrounder #2069

Just three months after the Senate immigration bill met its well-deserved end, amnesty advocates in the U.S. Congress resumed their efforts. Recently, Senator Richard Durbin (D–IL) announced on the Senate floor his intention to offer the Development, Relief, and Edu­cation for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act as an amend­ment to the defense authorization bill.

The DREAM Act (S. 774) is a nightmare. It is a mas­sive amnesty that extends to the millions of illegal aliens who entered the United States before the age of 16. The illegal alien who applies for this amnesty is immediately rewarded with "conditional" lawful per­manent resident (green card) status, which can be converted to a non-conditional green card in short order. The alien can then use his newly acquired status to seek green cards for the parents who brought him in illegally in the first place. In this way, it is also a back­door amnesty for the millions of illegal aliens who brought their children with them to the United States.

What is less well known about the DREAM Act is that it also allows illegal aliens to receive in-state tuition rates at public universities, discriminating against U.S. citizens from out of state and law-abiding foreign students. It repeals a 1996 federal law that pro­hibits any state from offering in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens unless the state also offers in-state tuition rates to all U.S. citizens.

On its own, the DREAM Act never stood a chance of passing. Every scientific opinion poll on the subject has shown over 70 percent opposition to giving in-state tuition benefits to illegal aliens.

Not surprisingly, the DREAM Act languished in committee for five years after it was first introduced in 2001—until the opportunity arose to hitch it to the Senate's "comprehensive" immigration bills of 2006 and 2007.

To understand just what an insult to the rule of law the DREAM Act is, it is important to look at the history behind it.

A Brief History of the In-State Tuition Debate
In September 1996, Congress passed the land­mark Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). Led by Lamar Smith (R– TX) in the House of Representatives and Alan Simp­son (R–WY) in the Senate, Congress significantly toughened the nation's immigration laws. To his credit, President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law.

Open-borders advocates in some states—most notably California—had already raised the possibil­ity of offering in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens who attend public universities. To prevent such a development, the IIRIRA's sponsors inserted a clearly worded provision that prohibited any state from doing so unless it provided the same dis­counted tuition to all U.S. citizens:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or a polit­ical subdivision) for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an amount, dura­tion, and scope) without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident.

Members of Congress reasoned that no state would be interested in giving up the extra revenue from out-of-state students, so this provision would ensure that illegal aliens would not be rewarded with a taxpayer-subsidized college education. The IIRIRA's proponents never imagined that some states might simply disobey federal law.

States Subsidizing the College Education of Illegal Aliens
However, that is precisely what happened. In 1999, radical liberals in the California legislature pushed ahead with their plan to have taxpayers sub­sidize the college education of illegal aliens.

Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh (D) sponsored a bill that would have made illegal aliens who had resided in California for three years during high school eligible for in-state tuition rates at California community colleges and universities. In August 2000, the California legislature passed his bill. However, Democrat Governor Gray Davis vetoed the bill in September 2000, stating clearly in his veto message that the bill would violate federal law:

ndocumented aliens are ineligible to receive postsecondary education benefits based on state residence…. IIRIRA would require that all out-of-state legal residents be eligible for this same benefit. Based on Fall 1998 enrollment figures…this legisla­tion could result in a revenue loss of over $63.7 million to the state.

Undeterred, Firebaugh introduced his bill again, and the California legislature passed it again. In 2002, facing flagging poll numbers and desperate to rally Hispanic voters to his cause, Governor Davis signed the bill.

Meanwhile, similar interests in Texas had suc­ceeded in enacting their own version of the bill. Since then, interest groups lobbying for illegal aliens have introduced similar legislation in most of the other states. The majority of state legislatures had the good sense to reject the idea, but eight states fol­lowed the examples of California and Texas, includ­ing some states in the heart of "red" America. Today, the 10 states that offer in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens are: California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Washington. (The legislatures of Maryland and Connecticut passed similar bills in 2007, but the governors of those states rightly vetoed the bills.)

In most of these 10 states, the law was passed under cover of darkness because public opinion was strongly against subsidizing the college educa­tion of illegal aliens at taxpayer expense. The gover­nors even declined to hold press conferences or signing ceremonies heralding the new laws.

Not surprisingly, when voters themselves decide the question, a very different result occurs. In November 2006, Arizona voters passed Proposition 300, which expressly barred Arizona universities from offering in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens— 71.4 percent voted in favor.

The American people realize the injustice of giving illegal aliens a taxpayer-subsidized education when out-of-state U.S. citizens and law-abiding foreign students have to pay the full cost of their education.

This strong public sentiment against giving ille­gal aliens access to in-state tuition rates is powerful enough to swing the results of an election. In Nebraska, the last of the 10 states to pass the law, that is exactly what happened. During the 2006 session, Nebraska's unicameral legislature passed an in-state tuition bill for illegal aliens. Governor Dave Heineman vetoed the bill because it violated federal law and was bad policy. In mid-April the legislature, which included an unusually large number of lame-duck Senators, overrode his veto by a vote of 30 to 19.

The veto would become an issue in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary. Heineman's opponent was the legendary University of Nebraska football coach and sitting U.S. Representative Tom Osborne, a political demigod in the Cornhusker State. Osborne had never received less than 82 percent of the vote in any election. Heineman, on the other hand, had not yet won a gubernatorial election. He became governor in 2005 when Gov­ernor Mike Johanns resigned to become U.S. Secre­tary of Agriculture.

Few believed that Heineman had a chance of winning the primary. He was behind in all of the polls. But then Coach Osborne fumbled. During a debate, he stated that he favored the idea of giving subsidized tuition to illegal aliens. Heineman seized the opportunity, and highlighted this difference of opinion between the candidates in his political ads. The voters reacted negatively to Osborn's position, and Heineman surged ahead in the final weeks of the race. He beat Osborn by 50 percent to 44 per­cent in the primary election on May 9, 2006. After the vote, both candidates said that the in-state tuition issue had been decisive.

State-Subsidized Lawbreaking
In all 10 states, the in-state tuition laws make for shockingly bad policy.

First, providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens amounts to giving them a taxpayer-financed education. In contrast, out-of-state students pay the full cost of their education. This gift to illegal aliens costs taxpayers a great deal of money at a time when tuition rates are rising across the country. For exam­ple,  in California, a lawsuit on the matter has re­vealed the staggering cost to the taxpayer: The state pays more than $100 million annually to subsidize the college education of thousands of illegal aliens.

Second, these states are encouraging aliens to vio­late federal immigration law. Indeed, in some of the states, breaking federal law is an express prerequi­site to receive the benefit of in-state tuition rates. Those states expressly deny in-state tuition to legal aliens who have valid student visas. And in all 10 states, an alien is eligible for in-state tuition rates only if he remains in the state in violation of federal law and evades federal law enforcement. In this way states are directly rewarding this illegal behavior.

This situation is comparable to a state passing a law that rewards residents with state tax credits for cheating on their federal income taxes. These states are providing direct financial subsidies to those who violate federal law.

Third, not only are such laws unfair to aliens who follow the law, but they are slaps in the faces of law-abiding American citizens. For example, a student from Missouri who attends Kansas University and has always played by the rules and obeyed the law is charged three times the tuition charged to an alien whose very presence in the country is a violation of federal criminal law.

This gift to illegal aliens comes at a time when millions of U.S. citizens have had to mortgage their future to attend college. During 2002–2007, college costs rose 35 percent after adjusting for inflation. Two-thirds of college students now graduate with debt, and the amount of debt averages $19,200. In a world of scarce education resources, U.S. citizens should be first in line to receive a break on college costs—not aliens who break federal law.

Even if a good argument could be made for giv­ing in-state tuition benefits to illegal aliens, the bot­tom line is that the policy violates federal law. These 10 states have brazenly cast aside the constraints imposed by Congress and the U.S. Constitution.

Pending Lawsuits
In July 2004, a group of U.S. citizen students from out of state filed suit in federal district court in Kansas to enjoin the state from providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens.They pointed out that Kansas is clearly violating federal law, as well as vio­lating the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Con­stitution by discriminating against them in favor of illegal aliens.

The district judge did not render any decision on the central questions of the case. Instead, he avoided the issues entirely by ruling that the plain­tiffs lacked a private right of action to bring their statutory challenge and lacked standing to bring their Equal Protection challenge. The case is cur­rently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Meanwhile, in December 2005, another group of U.S. citizen students filed a class-action suit in a California state court.They too maintain that the state is violating federal law and the U.S. Constitu­tion. Pursuant to a California civil rights statute, they are also seeking damages to compensate them for the extra tuition that they have paid above that charged to illegal aliens.

The DREAM Act Amnesty
Now, just when it looks as if U.S. citizens might vindicate their rights under federal law and the way­ward states might be held accountable, Senator Durbin and his pro-amnesty allies are seeking to offer the offending states a pardon.

The DREAM Act grants an unusual reprieve to the 10 states that have ignored federal law. The Act retroactively repeals the 1996 federal law that the 10 states violated, making it as though the provi­sions in the 1996 law never existed.

On top of this insult to the rule of law, the DREAM Act includes a massive amnesty, as noted above. This amnesty opens a wide path to citizen­ship for any alien who entered the country before the age of 16 and has been in the country for at least five years. The guiding notion seems to be "The longer you have violated federal law, the better."

Beyond that, all the alien needs is a high school diploma or a GED earned in the United States. If he can persuade an institution of higher education in the United States—any community college, technical school, or college—to admit him, that will suffice. Any illegal alien who meets these con­ditions (or who can produce fraudulent papers indicating that he meets the conditions) gets immediate legal status in the form of a "condi­tional" green card good for six years, according to Section 4(a)(1).

It is important to recognize just how sweeping this amnesty is.

There is no upper age limit. Any illegal alien can walk into a U.S. Customs and Immigration Ser­vices office and declare that he is eligible. For example, a 45 year old can claim that he illegally entered the United States 30 years ago at the age of 15. There is no requirement that the alien prove that he entered the United States at the claimed time by providing particular documents. The DREAM Act's Section 4(a) merely requires him to "demonstrate" that he is eligible—which in practice could mean simply making a sworn statement to that effect. Thus, it is an invitation for just about every illegal alien to fraudulently claim the amnesty.


The alien then has six years to adjust his status from a conditional green card holder to a non-conditional one. To do so, he need only complete two years of study at an institution of higher edu­cation. If the alien has already completed two years of study, he can convert to non-conditional status immediately (and use his green card as a platform to bring in family members). As an alternative to two years of study, he can enlist in the U.S. military and spend two years there. This provision allows Senator Durbin to claim that the DREAM Act is somehow germane to a defense authorization bill.


An illegal alien who applies for the DREAM Act amnesty gets to count his years under "condi­tional" green card status toward the five years needed for citizenship. (Section 5(e)) On top of that, the illegal alien could claim "retroactive benefits" and start the clock running the day that the DREAM Act is enacted. (Section 6) In combi­nation, these two provisions put illegal aliens on a high-speed track to U.S. citizenship—moving from illegal alien to U.S. citizen in as little as five years. Lawfully present aliens, meanwhile, must follow a slower path to citizenship.


It would be absurdly easy for just about any ille­gal alien—even one who does not qualify for the amnesty—to evade the law. According to Section 4(f) of the DREAM Act, once an alien files an application—any application, no matter how ridiculous—the federal government is prohib­ited from deporting him. Moreover, with few exceptions, federal officers are prohibited from either using information from the application to deport the alien or sharing that information with another federal agency, under threat of up to $10,000 fine. Thus, an alien's admission that he has violated federal immigration law cannot be used against him—even if he never had any chance of qualifying for the DREAM Act amnesty in the first place.
The DREAM Act also makes the illegal aliens eli­gible for federal student loans and federal work-study programs—another benefit that law-abiding foreign students cannot receive—all at taxpayer expense. A consistent theme emerges: Illegal aliens are treated much more favorably than aliens who fol­low the law. There is no penalty for illegal behavior.

Conclusion
In addition to being a dream for those who have broken the law, the DREAM Act raises an even larger issue regarding the relationship between states and the federal government. The 10 states have created a 21st century version of the nullification move­ment—defying federal law simply because they do not like it. In so doing, they have challenged the basic structure of the republic. The DREAM Act would pardon this offense and, in so doing, encour­age states to defy other federal law in the future.

One thing that we have learned in the struggle to enforce our nation's immigration laws is that states cannot be allowed to undermine the efforts of the federal government to enforce the law. Only if all levels of government are working in concert to uphold the rule of law can it be fully restored.

Kris W. Kobach is Professor of Law at the Univer­sity of Missouri-Kansas City and a Visiting Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. He served as counsel and chief adviser on immigration law to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft from 2001 to 2003. He is representing the U.S. citizen plaintiffs in the Kansas and California law­suits described in this paper, and has published a longer article explaining this issue, as well as the legal argu­ments involved, in the New York University Journal of Legislation and Public Policy, vol. 10, no. 3 (2006-07).


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[1] 8 U.S.C. § 1623.


[2] Gray Davis, veto message to California Assembly on AB 1197, September 29, 2000, at info.sen.ca.gov/pub/99-00/bill/asm/ab_1151-
1200/ab_1197_vt_20000929.html (August 10, 2006).

[3] See Day v. Sebelius, 376 F. Supp. 2d 1022 (2005).

[4] See Stuart Silverstein, "Out-of-State Students Sue over Tuition: Plaintiffs Are Challenging California Practices That Require Them to Pay Higher College Costs Than Some Illegal Immigrants," Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2005, p. B3.
 
25147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: September 14, 2007, 03:00:00 PM

The debate continues:
======================

From www.christianaction.org:

(The Blotter) When Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was strapped down to the water-board, he felt humiliated — not by the treatment but by the fact that a woman, a red-headed CIA supervisor, was allowed to witness the spectacle, a former intelligence officer told ABC News.
The al Qaeda mastermind, known as KSM, stubbornly held out for about two minutes — far longer than any of the other “high-value” terror targets who were subjected to the technique, the harshest from a list of six techniques approved for use by the CIA and Bush administration lawyers, sources said.
Then KSM started talking, in idiomatic English he learned as a high school foreign exchange student and polished at a North Carolina college in the 1980s, sources said.
“It was an extraordinary amount of time for him to hold out,” one former CIA officer told ABCNews.com. “A red-headed female supervisor was in the room when he was being water-boarded. It was humiliating to him. So he held out.”
“Then he started talking, and he never stopped,” this former officer said. KSM was never water-boarded again, and in hours and hours of conversation with his interrogators, often over a cup of tea, he poured out his soul and the murderous deeds he committed.
“He was sitting across the table from his interrogator, and he just blurted out, ‘I killed Daniel Pearl. I killed him Hahal (slit his throat in a ritual fashion).’ There was no water-boarding, no belly slapping; just two guys sitting across the table having a cup of tea.”
Water-boarding consists of strapping an individual to an inclined board with the person’s head slightly lower than the feet and pouring water over the face to simulate drowning. It triggers a gag reflex and can make a person believe death is near. Water-boarding has been denounced as “torture” by human rights groups and many U.S. officials, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who likened it to a mock execution.
But what if that one episode of water-boarding KSM had not occurred? It is a question at the center of the debate over the harshest technique in the CIA’s repertoire that has raged for three years now, a time frame, intelligence officials note, in which the technique has not been used.
Would the agency have eventually worn KSM down? Would the confessions have poured forth about Daniel Pearl’s beheading, about his role in the 1995 plot by his nephew, master bomber Ramzi Yousef, to assassinate Pope John Paul II during a visit to Manila, and detailed information about his role as mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks?
In the case of 9/11, U.S. intelligence officials were in the dark as to how exactly it was plotted because at the time KSM brought the idea to Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda terrorist leader had just stopped using mobile telephones after media reports raised suspicions they were monitored by U.S. intelligence.
“If one water-board session got him to talk, you could have gotten him to talk (without it), given time and patience,” said Brad Garrett, an ABC News consultant and former FBI agent. Garrett has 30 years of experience interrogating terrorists such as Yousef, the Pakistani man who killed two CIA employees at the gates to the agency’s Langley, Va. headquarters in 1994 and hundreds of violent criminals.
“If in fact it’s true that they water-boarded him once and then he started talking and provided reliable information, then he falls under the category of the small minority of people on whom it works. But torture seldom works. Most people start talking…to get the pain to stop,” Garrett said.
But in many cases, the harsh intelligence techniques led to questionable confessions and downright lies, say officers with firsthand knowledge of the program. That included statements that al Qaeda was building dirty bombs.
“It is true that the person who was saying the nuke stuff said it under pressure. The analysts believed it was not true; it did not conform to other information,” one former intelligence officer told ABC News.
As these targets were subjected to the increasingly harsh interrogation methods — in some cases including water-boarding — KSM sat in his cell in Poland, writing poetry in English, writing letters to the president and to the head of the CIA, and debating the merits of Christianity and Islam with his captor.
“Using torture says that we aren’t any better than countries that historically tortured people. What are we telling the world about the United States?” Garrett, who has lectured on the subject of interrogation and torture and the perception of a nation, asked.
And just yesterday, an intelligence source told ABC News that the dapper man behind the most successful terror plot against America was not rumpled and disheveled when he was apprehended. He was as well-kept as ever.
But the CIA, conscious of the propaganda value of appearance, messed his hair and pulled his shirt from his pants, leaving us with the image of KSM we have today, and according to days of NSA intercepts, leaving his fellow al Qaeda terrorists chagrined over the changes to their esteemed colleague.
25148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 14, 2007, 02:54:26 PM
The Trans-Atlantic Militant Connection
Authorities on both sides of the Atlantic arrested a total of four people Sept. 12 in connection with a plot to stage jihadist attacks against Austria and Germany. Earlier in the month, Danish authorities arrested eight people on suspicion of plotting attacks in Denmark, and a day later German authorities arrested three people on suspicion of plotting to attack U.S. and Uzbek targets in Germany. Counterterrorism officials in Europe and the United States believe the plots in Germany and Denmark are related.

This latest wave of arrests demonstrates the interconnection between militant cells in Europe and North America -- and serves as a warning on the increasing militant activity on European soil.

On Sept. 12, two men and a woman were arrested in Vienna, Austria, for allegedly posting a video on an Islamist Web site threatening attacks against Germany and Austria because of those countries' support for the NATO mission in Afghanistan. The three allegedly are associated with the Global Islamic Media Front, a media outlet known for spreading al Qaeda messages on the Internet. The outlet also reportedly has links to the Army of Islam, the militant group linked to the kidnapping of British reporter Alan Johnston in Gaza in March.

Working with Austrian authorities, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested Said Namouh, a Moroccan, in connection with the alleged plot and charged him with conspiring to detonate an explosive device. Canadian authorities said the plot was not directed at targets inside Canada, but that it was linked to the Austrian plot. The Global Islamic Media Front reportedly has other members in Canada, indicating that more arrests could follow after Canadian and Austrian investigators examine evidence found at Namouh's apartment. Namouh, who was taken into custody near Montreal, allegedly had communicated with the suspected militants in Austria over the Internet.





On Sept. 4, Danish counterterrorism forces in Copenhagen arrested eight people -- six Danish citizens and two foreigners with Danish residence permits -- on suspicion of plotting militant attacks against targets in Denmark. Less than a day later, German authorities raided several locations in Germany and arrested three people, including two Germans who had converted to Islam, on suspicion of plotting to attack U.S. and Uzbek military, civilian and diplomatic targets in Germany.

This spike in activity -- three cells arrested within 10 days -- highlights Europe's increasingly precarious security situation. Every year since 2004 there has been a major attack, failed attack or thwarted plot targeting a European city. Countries such as Spain, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom have had frequent incidents of militant activity, but other countries are feeling the heat as well. Although there have been militant elements present in Germany, Denmark and Austria, overall they had not been actively engaged in plotting serious attacks.

Germany, in particular, has seen an increase in the danger, beginning in summer 2006 when an attack targeting passenger trains failed in western Germany due to poorly constructed bombs. Although the plot that was thwarted Sept. 7 probably would have failed anyway, it was much larger in scope than past attempts, indicating that Germany's local cells are getting more ambitious.

The jihadists despise Europe as much as, if not more than, they do the United States, and they have made it clear that they intend to stage an attack on European soil. In addition to the threat from the Muslim immigrant community, the German example demonstrates the ongoing threat from within -- in the form of disassociated Europeans or longtime residents who convert to Islam and end up in one of these cells. The jihadists' poor tradecraft could be Europe's saving grace at the moment, as this failing appears to be one of the major reasons Europe has not experienced a major attack since the London bombings of 2005.

The arrest in Canada is another example of how grassroots jihadist cells in Europe can be linked to cells across the Atlantic. In June 2006, U.S., British and Canadian authorities uncovered a plot to attack targets in the United States and Canada. In addition to a European link, both the Canadian and U.S. cells had links to militant communities in South Asia.

By taking advantage of the well-developed communication links across the Atlantic, the relative ease of travel between Europe and North America, and contacts between immigrant communities on both continents as well as in the Middle East and South Asia, Europe's jihadist problem could easily become North America's problem, too.
Contact Us
25149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: September 14, 2007, 02:46:51 PM
I know so very well what you mean!!! tongue 

FWIW here's this from GG in today's newletter on LNOP:
============

George Gilder, Gilder Telecosm Forum (9/9/07):  People everywhere want to know. What are the limits of EZchip (LNOP)?

The Linley Group defines EZ's limits as some portion of the $700M Carrier Ethernet market, particularly the demand for metro ethernet switches. Yet the NPU performs generic functions of routing, switching and managing traffic for Internet Protocol packets and Ethernet frames, which are by no means restricted to metro slots. These functions have to be performed everywhere the Internet reaches, from entertainment rooms to Googleplex datacenters, from telco central offices to enterprise local area networks, from surveillance devices to satellite links, from automobiles to airplanes, from storage area networks to medical centers. The current carrier switches are merely the first of the markets to emerge, but they do not begin to represent the limits for EZchips.
25150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Did Sweden apologize on: September 14, 2007, 01:11:13 PM
http://www.arabnews.com/?page=1&section=0&article=101170&d=14&m=9&y=2007

 
Sweden Did Not Apologize on Behalf of Paper: Envoy
Siraj Wahab, Arab News
 
JEDDAH, 14 September 2007 — Sweden yesterday denied that its ambassador to Saudi Arabia apologized to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) for the publication of a caricature of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in a Swedish newspaper.

According to a statement released to the media on Wednesday by the Jeddah-based organization, it was stated that the Swedish ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Jan Thesleff, met OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu on Tuesday in Jeddah and “offered his deepest apologies for the controversy created by the publishing of the hurtful depiction.”

The Swedish Foreign Ministry, however, immediately denied that the ambassador had made any apology, saying he had only expressed regret.

“The ambassador repeated his regret at the controversy created by the publication, but not for the publication itself,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anna Bjorkander was quoted as saying by The Local newspaper of Sweden.

Bjorkander described the OIC’s interpretation of the meeting as a “misunderstanding.”

She told the Swedish newspaper that Thesleff was dissatisfied that the OIC had said he had apologized, but did not plan to demand that the organization change its statement. “He said he is not satisfied with the use of the word ‘apologize,’” Bjorkander said.

The publication of the caricature in the Swedish newspaper, Nerikes Allehanda, on Aug. 18 sparked anger in the Muslim world, with Egypt, Pakistan and Iran lodging formal protests with the Swedish government.

During his meeting with the Swedish ambassador, the OIC chief had conveyed his “concerns that this kind of irresponsible and provocative incitement in the name of defending freedom of expression was leading the international community toward more confrontation and division.”

Ihsanoglu strongly condemned the newspaper for publishing the blasphemous caricature saying it was an irresponsible and despicable act with malicious and provocative intentions in the name of freedom of expression.

“The caricature was intended solely to insult and arouse the sentiments of Muslims of the world,” he said.

“The international community was well aware of the serious impact of such publications that were globally felt during the controversy created by the publication of similar cartoons in a Danish newspaper last year,” he said.

The Swedish ambassador informed Ihsanoglu that his government had taken careful and serious note of his statement and acted in a proactive manner at an early stage. “Sweden feels that the best possible action to resolve the crisis is to choose the path of dialogue,” he said and pointed out that Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt had taken immediate steps by offering his personal regrets to the Muslim community in Sweden.

“Sweden is a country where people of different faiths can live together side by side,” the Swedish prime minister said in his statement late last month. “The foundation of this, our social model, is mutual respect and understanding, but also a desire for joint repudiation of offensive acts as well as acts of violence or aggression.”

While expressing regret, the Swedish prime minister pointed out that Sweden’s social model is based on the premise that politicians must not pass judgment on freedom of the press and expression.

Ihsanoglu welcomed the prime minister’s statement. However, he felt, there was a need for a legal mechanism for stopping the recurrence of such extreme provocation.

He said by intentionally offending the sentiments of 1.3 billion Muslims, these caricaturists were leading the international community toward more confrontation and division and providing extremist and deviant ideologies with valuable ammunition.
 
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