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25201  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: August 11, 2008, 01:46:22 PM
So why don't we:

a) Do an Osirak on their nuke capabilities, and

b) burn all the opium fields in Afg

c) leave them to stew in their own mess?
25202  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-Georgia on: August 11, 2008, 01:44:14 PM
And now it serves their interest to help Iran with Anti aircraft missiles and nixing economic pressure via the UN.

You're a bright and unusually well informed man GM.  Specifically what do you suggest we do?
25203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: August 11, 2008, 12:15:32 PM

"Pakistan's neighbors India and Afghanistan, and its strategic ally America, cannot be too sanguine about this continuing political instability. Their core interests require Pakistan's civilian leadership to lean on the Pakistan army to rein in and retool the ISI, support the war on terror in Afghanistan, and refrain from refueling Islamist jihad in India-administered Kashmir. But with the army sulking politically and licking its wounds militarily, the Zardari government looks unlikely to deliver on these fronts -- with or without a President Musharraf"

If we have a coherent strategy for Pak-Afg, I'm not seeing it.
25204  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-Georgia on: August 11, 2008, 12:02:34 PM

Question:  So what do we do about the leverage the Russians have with regard to Iran?


Here's these from the NYTimes.  Caveat lector:

Published: August 10, 2008
GORI, Georgia — In retreat, the Georgian soldiers were so tired they could not keep from stumbling. Their arms were loaded with rucksacks and ammunition boxes; they had dark circles under their eyes. Officers ran up and down the line, barking for them to go faster.

Weary residents heading south said they were beginning to feel betrayed by the United States, an ally of Georgia, as diplomacy had fallen short of expectations.

All along the road was grief. Old men pushed wheelbarrows loaded with bags or led cows by tethers. They drove tractors and rickety Ladas packed with suitcases and televisions. As a column of soldiers passed through Gori, a black-robed priest came out of his church and made the sign of the cross again and again. One soldier, his face a mask of exhaustion, cradled a Kalashnikov.

“We killed as many of them as we could,” he said. “But where are our friends?”

It was the question of the day. As Russian forces massed Sunday on two fronts, Georgians were heading south with whatever they could carry. When they met Western journalists, they all said the same thing: Where is the United States? When is NATO coming?

Since the conflict began, Western leaders have worked frantically to broker a cease-fire. But for Georgians — so boisterously pro-American that Tbilisi, the capital, has a George W. Bush Street — diplomacy fell far short of what they expected.

Even in the hinterlands, at kebab stands and in farming villages, people fleeing South Ossetia saw themselves as trapped between great powers. Ossetian refugees heading north to Russia gushed their gratitude to Dmitri A. Medvedev and Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian leaders. Georgians around Gori spoke of America plaintively, uncertainly. They were beginning to feel betrayed.

“Tell your government,” said a man named Truber, fresh from the side of the Tbilisi hospital bed where his son was being treated for combat injuries. “If you had said something stronger, we would not be in this.”

He had not slept for three days, and he was angry — at himself, at Georgia, but mainly at the United States. “If you want to help, you have to help the end,” he said.

Meanwhile, the influx of Ossetians into southern Russia continued Sunday, as the police escorted convoys of minibuses up the Zaramakh highway and through the mountain tunnel that is the only route into Russia. The Russian authorities estimated that 34,000 refugees had crossed the border, and 3,000 more evacuations were planned for Monday. The Ossetians emerged onto a four-lane highway whose edges had been chopped to pieces by columns of Russian armor. Around them were mountains shrouded by fog.  Tatiana Gobozoyeva was riding in a van with 20 other refugees, many of whom had spent four days huddled in dirty basements. She said she considered the United States responsible for the Georgian aggression.

Pyotr Bezhov, who fled the violence with his daughter Oksana on Sunday, stood by a dusty dirt road.

“The biggest problem here is you, your country,” he said. “You said that the Soviets were an evil empire, but it’s you that are the empire.

“Not you personally, of course,” he added. “But your government.”

On the other side of the line of battle, Georgians had begun to question the strength of their alliance with the United States.

In recent years, Mr. Bush has lavished praise on Georgia — and the so-called Rose Revolution that brought Mikheil Saakashvili to power — as a model of democracy-building. The feeling was mutual: when Mr. Bush visited Tbilisi in 2005, the authorities estimated that 150,000 people showed up to see him. He famously climbed up on a platform and wiggled his hips to loud Georgian folk music.

Those exuberant days seemed very distant around Gori on Sunday, as people fled, leaving behind corn fields and apple orchards. A group of men tried mightily to push a truck with a blown-out tire, but it got stuck on the road, and they finally abandoned it.

Gato Tkviavi lingered in Tirzini, a village of one-story houses where cows were wandering through the streets.  Asked where the border with South Ossetia was, he pointed at his feet. “The border is where the Russians say it is,” he said. “It could be here, or it could be Gori.”

The grimmest among the Georgians were the soldiers, haggard, unshaven and swinging their Kalashnikovs. A group of them had piled onto a flatbed truck, crowding on in such numbers that some were sitting on the roof, their feet dangling over the windshield.

One, who gave his name as Major Georgi, spoke with anger. “Write exactly what I say,” he said. “Over the past few years, I lived in a democratic society. I was happy. And now America and the European Union are spitting on us.”

Andrew E. Kramer reported from Gori and Ellen Barry from Moscow. Michael Schwirtz contributed reporting from Tbilisi, Georgia, and Matt Siegel from Vladikavkaz, Russia.

Published: August 10, 2008
As the bloody military mismatch between Russia and Georgia unfolded over the past three days, even the main players were surprised by how quickly small border skirmishes slipped into a conflict that threatened the Georgian government and perhaps the country itself.

Skip to next paragraph
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Justyna Mielnikiewicz for The New York Times
A bombed apartment in Gori, Georgia, with posters of Georgia’s president and President Bush. There was no sign over the weekend that the Kremlin was willing to negotiate with Georgia.

A History of Enmity
Russians Push Past Separatist Area to Assault Central Georgia (August 11, 2008)
On Slog to Safety, Seething at West (August 11, 2008)
In Brooklyn, Georgians Pray and Frantically Call Families (August 11, 2008) Several American and Georgian officials said that unlike when Russia invaded Afghanistan in 1979, a move in which Soviet forces were massed before the attack, the nation had not appeared poised for an invasion last week. As late as Wednesday, they said, Russian diplomats had been pressing for negotiations between Georgia and South Ossetia, the breakaway region where the combat flared and then escalated into full-scale war.

“It doesn’t look like this was premeditated, with a massive staging of equipment,” one senior American official said. “Until the night before the fighting, Russia seemed to be playing a constructive role.”

But while the immediate causes and the intensity of the Russian invasion had caught Georgia and the Western foreign policy establishment by surprise, there had been signs for years that Georgia and Russia had methodically, if quietly, prepared for conflict.

Several other long-term factors had also contributed to the possibility of war. They included the Kremlin’s military successes in Chechnya, which gave Russia the latitude and sense of internal security it needed to free up troops to cross its borders, and the exuberant support of the United States for President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia, a figure loathed by the Kremlin on both personal and political terms.

Moreover, by preparing Georgian soldiers for duty in Iraq, the United States appeared to have helped embolden Georgia, if inadvertently, to enter a fight it could not win.

American officials and a military officer who have dealt with Georgia said privately that as a result, the war risked becoming a foreign policy catastrophe for the United States, whose image and authority in the region were in question after it had proven unable to assist Georgia or to restrain the Kremlin while the Russian Army pressed its attack.

Russia’s bureaucratic and military groundwork was laid even before Mr. Saakashvili came to power in 2004 and positioned himself as one of the world’s most strident critics of the Kremlin.

Under the presidency of Vladimir V. Putin, Russia had already been granting citizenship and distributing passports to virtually all of the adult residents of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the much larger separatist region where Russia had also massed troops over the weekend. The West had been skeptical of the validity of Russia’s handing out passports by the thousands to citizens of another nation.

“Having a document does not make you a Russian citizen,” one American diplomat said in 2004, as Russia expanded the program.

But whatever the legal merits, the Kremlin had laid the foundation for one of its public relations arguments for invading: its army was coming to the aid of Russian citizens under foreign attack.

In the ensuing years, even as Russia issued warnings, Mr. Saakashvili grew bolder. There were four regions out of Georgian control when he took office in 2004, but he restored two smaller regions, Ajaria in 2004 and the upper Kodori Gorge in 2006, with few deaths.

The victories gave him a sense of momentum. He kept national reintegration as a central plank of his platform.

Russia, however, began retaliating against Georgia in many ways. It cut off air service and mail between the countries, closed the border and refused Georgian exports. And by the time the Kodori Gorge was back in Georgian control, Russia had also consolidated its hold over Chechnya, which is now largely managed by a local leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, and his Kremlin-backed Chechen forces.

Chechnya had for years been the preoccupation of Russian ground forces. But Mr. Kadyrov’s strength had enabled Russian to garrison many of its forces and turn its attention elsewhere.

Simultaneously, as the contest of wills between Georgia and Russia intensified, the strong support of the United States for Mr. Saakashvili created tensions within the foreign policy establishment in Washington and created rival views.

Some diplomats considered Mr. Saakashvili a politician of unusual promise, someone who could reorder Georgia along the lines of a Western democracy and become a symbol of change in the politically moribund post-Soviet states. Mr. Saakashvili encouraged this view, framing himself as a visionary who was leading a column of regional democracy movements.

Other diplomats worried that both Mr. Saakashvili’s persona and his platforms presented an implicit challenge to the Kremlin, and that Mr. Saakashvili made himself a symbol of something else: Russia’s suspicion about American intentions in the Kremlin’s old empire. They worried that he would draw the United States and Russia into arguments that the United States did not want.
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This feeling was especially true among Russian specialists, who said that, whatever the merits of Mr. Saakashvili’s positions, his impulsiveness and nationalism sometimes outstripped his common sense.

The risks were intensified by the fact that the United States did not merely encourage Georgia’s young democracy, it helped militarize the weak Georgian state.  In his wooing of Washington as he came to power, Mr. Saakashvili firmly embraced the missions of the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq. At first he had almost nothing practical to offer. Georgia’s military was small, poorly led, ill-equipped and weak.  But Mr. Saakashvili’s rise coincided neatly with a swelling American need for political support and foreign soldiers in Iraq. His offer of troops was matched with a Pentagon effort to overhaul Georgia’s forces from bottom to top.  At senior levels, the United States helped rewrite Georgian military doctrine and train its commanders and staff officers. At the squad level, American marines and soldiers trained Georgian soldiers in the fundamentals of battle.  Georgia, meanwhile, began re-equipping its forces with Israeli and American firearms, reconnaissance drones, communications and battlefield-management equipment, new convoys of vehicles and stockpiles of ammunition.

The public goal was to nudge Georgia toward NATO military standards. Privately, Georgian officials welcomed the martial coaching and buildup, and they made clear that they considered participation in Iraq as a sure way to prepare the Georgian military for “national reunification” — the local euphemism of choice for restoring Abkhazia and South Ossetia to Georgian control.

All of these policies collided late last week. One American official who covers Georgian affairs, speaking on the condition of anonymity while the United States formulates its next public response, said that everything had gone wrong.  Mr. Saakashvili had acted rashly, he said, and had given Russia the grounds to invade. The invasion, he said, was chilling, disproportionate and brutal, and it was grounds for a strong censure. But the immediate question was how far Russia would go in putting Georgia back into what it sees as Georgia’s place.  There was no sign throughout the weekend of Kremlin willingness to negotiate. A national humiliation was under way.

“The Georgians have lost almost everything,” the official said. “We always told them, ‘Don’t do this because the Russians do not have limited aims.’ ”

25205  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: August 11, 2008, 11:50:08 AM
Some House Democrats are privately fuming at the pickle Speaker Nancy Pelosi put them in when she turned off the lights in the House chamber and breezed out of Washington for the summer recess without addressing voter concerns about high gas prices. By denying Republicans a chance to make floor speeches about the gas crisis on the day Congress was set to adjourn, she set off an ongoing protest on the House floor that has garnered much publicity.

The Republican floor protest was a completely spontaneous reaction against her heavy-handed tactics. Since then, many Democratic Members have been pressed by voters at town hall meetings and radio call-in shows about why they won't allow a vote on the GOP proposal for more domestic oil production.

"It's annoying," one Democratic House Member admitted to me. "We don't go back in session until September 8 and this leaves us hanging out there the whole time."

Even more annoying to some Democrats is that Speaker Pelosi's rush to adjourn and leave town seems to have been motivated in part by her desire to start a book tour promoting her new memoir "Know Your Power."

-- John Fund


To anyone around in the 1970s, the late Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn was a larger-than-life, even inspirational figure. For those who've come of age in the years since his 1974 expulsion from the Soviet Union and the 1989 collapse of Communism, apparently, he's been airbrushed out of the cultural narrative.

A 20-something clerk in Borders' Lower Manhattan store drew a complete blank last week when I asked her for a copy of "The Gulag Archipelago." She'd never heard of the book, couldn't spell the words in the title to search the store's database, was unfamiliar with the author and, therefore, was unaware that he'd recently died.

Given Solzhenitsyn's sometimes acerbic comments about Western culture and values, I doubt he would have been surprised. On the bright side, when I checked both the Literature and Russian History sections, the noticeable gaps indicated that they'd been cleaned out of Solzhenitsyn's works, so at least the ignorance isn't universal. Generation Y may not be reading him on its Kindles on the subway, but someone apparently recognized his death for the historic passing it was.

-- Eric Gibson

Playing All the Veep Angles

Most speculation about whom Barack Obama and John McCain might pick as their vice-presidential running-mates ignores a key consideration. While presidential nominees are free to ask anyone to join them, they almost never pick someone holding a statewide office whose elevation would allow the opposition party to capture a governorship or Senate seat. After all, especially this year, Democrats are keen on getting as close as possible to the 60 seats in the U.S. Senate they would need to overcome GOP filibusters.

With the exception of Al Gore's choice of Senator Joe Lieberman in 2000 (which would have allowed a Republican governor to appoint his successor), you have to go back many decades to find examples of a presidential nominee putting a Senate seat or governor's mansion at risk in choosing a Veep nominee. Indeed, historian and radio talk-show host John Batchelor reminds me that a key element in Dwight Eisenhower's decision to pick Richard Nixon as his running-mate in 1952 was that Nixon's Senate seat would be turned over to another Republican if the Eisenhower-Nixon ticket were to be elected.

How might this factor influence the current crop of front-runners for each party's VP nomination? Joe Biden would be a safe choice for Barack Obama because his Delaware Senate seat would be filled by a Democratic governor. But Mr. Obama might look askance at picking Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine because a vacancy in that job would be filled by a Republican Lt. Governor. Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed would have to step down as senator in order to become vice president -- and his seat would be filled by a GOP governor. Indiana Senator Evan Bayh is a special case. His state's governor is Republican Mitch Daniels, who is up for re-election this year. Should Democratic candidate Jill Long Thompson defeat Mr. Daniels, she would appoint someone to fill the vacancy. But if Mr. Daniels wins, he would deny the Democrats a key Senate seat they might have a hard time winning back in a GOP-leaning state like Indiana.

On the Republican side, Mr. McCain's choice is made easier because his short list is light on statewide officeholders. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty represents no problem because he would be succeeded by GOP Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau. Similarly, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour would be succeeded by his lieutenant governor, Phil Bryant. If Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas were tapped as vice president, her seat would be filled by a special election but GOP Governor Rick Perry would be allowed to appoint an interim successor.

No one should assume that concerns about losing a Senate seat or gubernatorial office will be an overriding consideration in the political calculus either Mr. Obama or Mr. McCain will make. But it would be foolish to believe it will play no role at all.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"The country's still pretty divided. . . . People may want a divided government. They want change but I'm not sure that the Democratic agenda has the support of a majority of Americans" -- former Nebraska Senator and 1992 Democratic presidential candidate Bob Kerrey, speaking to on how John McCain could argue against turning the government entirely over to the Democratic triumvirate of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

Electric Al

Al Gore wasn't too happy with a PD update a few weeks ago on his energy consumption habits at his Nashville palace. His environmental adviser, Kalee Kreider, contacted us to clarify a few things about the former vice president's carbon footprint.

For one thing, she says Mr. Gore now buys his power through Nashville Electric's "Green Powerswitch" program, which -- like similar programs offered by other utilities around the country -- allows customers to pay extra and receive assurances that their power nominally comes from a solar or wind facility. (However, for the record, Nashville Electric purchases all its power from the Tennessee Valley Authority, which says the "backbone of the system" is its eleven coal-burning plants. They account for 60% of its power; nuclear for 30%.)

Ms. Kreider also says the "Inconvenient Truth" impresario has installed solar panels, feeding electricity back to the local grid. She says this power is metered separately, so wasn't deducted from the embarrassing figures about Mr. Gore's energy consumption reported by the Tennessee Center for Public Policy. Finally, she says the Gores have installed a geothermal system for heat and hot water -- an unspecified "problem" with which even prompted a visit from the fire department last year.

The effect of these improvements and modifications, Ms. Kreider says, has been to reduce the Gore household's net energy use by 40% since the Tennessee Center's Drew Johnson first publicized Mr. Gore's energy bills last year.

Hooray! The Gores still spend more in a month than most households do in a year. Nor have they released the cost of all these retrofits, which only seem to prove that you can spend a fortune on green indulgences and still maintain a sizeable carbon footprint. But it would be nice to have some cost figures -- if only to know what Mr. Gore would have in store for the rest of us. The former vice president has lately become a partner in a Silicon Valley firm positioning itself to profit from "green energy" mandates that would be imposed by law.

-- Brian M. Carney

25206  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: August 11, 2008, 11:46:01 AM

A pleasant surprise that you are willing to entertain military action against Iran.

If I understand correctly GM was mocking the liberal left with his use of "brown people", not advocating it as his own preferred term.

Tail wags for the kind words on my drumming-- I was worse than usual yesterday, my efforts at groove disrupted by trying to get the "chain of challenge" going.  I wish you had introduced yourself personally so that I would have a face to put with our conversation here.

25207  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-Georgia on: August 11, 2008, 11:22:43 AM
August 11, 2008 | 0151 GMT
The war between Georgia and Russia appears to be drawing to a close. There were Russian air attacks on Georgia on Sunday and some fighting in South Ossetia, and the Russians sank a Georgian missile boat. But as the day ended the Russians declared themselves ready to make peace with Georgia, and U.N. officials said the Georgians were ready to complete the withdrawal of their forces from South Ossetia.

At this point, the Russians have achieved what they wanted to achieve, quite apart from assuring South Ossetia’s autonomy. First, they have driven home the fact that in the end, they are the dominant power not only in the Caucasus but also around their entire periphery. Alliance with the United States or training with foreign advisers ultimately means little; it is not even clear what the United States or NATO would have been able to do if Georgia had been a member of the alliance. That lesson is not for the benefit of Georgia, but for Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Azerbaijan, and even Poland and the Czech Republic. The Russians have made it clear that, at least at this moment in history, they can operate on their periphery effectively and therefore their neighbors should not be indifferent to Russian wishes.

The second lesson was for the Americans and Europeans to consider. The Russians had asked that Kosovo not be granted independence. The Russians were prepared to accept autonomy but they did not want the map of Europe to be redrawn; they made it clear that once that starts, not only will it not end, but the Russians would feel free to redraw the map themselves. The Americans and Europeans went forward anyway, making the assumption that the Russians would have no choice but to live with that decision. The Russian response to the Georgian attack on South Ossetia drives home the point that the Russians are again a force to be reckoned with.

There has been sharp rhetoric from American and European officials, but that rhetoric can’t be matched with military action. The Europeans are too militarily weak to have any options, and the Americans have quite enough on their plates without getting involved in a war in Georgia. In some ways the rhetoric makes the Russians look even stronger than they actually are. The intensity of the rhetoric contrasted with the paucity of action is striking.

The Americans in particular have another problem. Iran is infinitely more important to them than Georgia, and they need Russian help in Iran. Specifically, they need the Russians not to sell the Iranians weapons. In particular, they do not want the Russian S-300 surface-to-air missiles delivered to the Iranians. In addition, they want the Russians to join in possible sanctions against Iran. Russia has a number of ways to thwart U.S. policy not only in Iran, but also in Afghanistan and Syria. These are areas of fundamental concern to the United States, and confronting the Russians on Georgia is a risky business. The Russians can counter in ways that are extremely painful to the United States.

There is talk that the Russians might want a new government in Georgia. That is probably so, but the Russians have already achieved their most important goals. They have made it clear to their neighbors that a relationship with the West does not provide security if Russia’s interests are threatened. They have made it clear to the West that ignoring Russian wishes carries a price. And finally, they have made it clear to everyone that the Russian military, which was in catastrophic shape five years ago, is sufficiently healed to carry out a complex combined-arms operation including land, air and naval components. Granted it was against a small country, but there were many ways in which the operation could have been bungled. It wasn’t. Russia is not a superpower, but it is certainly no longer a military cripple. Delivering that message, in the end, might have been the most important to Russia.
The conflict in the small former Soviet state of Georgia has taken a new twist.

So far, apart from Russian airstrikes, most of the combat has been limited to the north-central Georgian secessionist province of South Ossetia. But on Aug. 11, Russia beefed up its 2,500-strong peacekeeping force in Abkhazia — a secessionist region in northwestern Georgia — to more than 9,000 troops. And now the Russian Defense Ministry has announced — and the Georgian Interior Ministry has confirmed — that Russian forces have advanced up to the western Georgian city of Senaki.

The presence of Russian troops in Senaki has a number of important implications.

First, the Russian forces used in the operation approached from Abkhazia. There has been a U.N. buffer force between Abkhaz- and Georgian-controlled territory, so for Russian forces to be near Senaki, the Russians would have had to move through — and ultimately beyond — that buffer. Georgia’s best troops are also typically kept near Abkhazia, suggesting that those forces have been either bypassed or destroyed. Several reports indicate the Georgians are engaged in combat with Abkhaz forces in the upper reaches of the Kodori Gorge, so it seems likely they were bypassed.

Second, Senaki sits astride a railroad juncture that links the rest of the country not only to Abkhazia, but to Georgia’s largest port: Poti. The Russians have already bombed Poti several times, but taking Senaki completely removes the port from the equation.

Third, another Georgian city — Samtredia — is only an hour’s march from Senaki. Samtredia sits astride the Baku-Tbilisi-Supsa oil pipeline, transit fees from which are a major portion of Georgia’s economic wherewithal. But its military significance for Georgia cannot be overstated.

Samtredia is where Georgia’s transport links to its only other ports, Supsa and Batumi, merge with its link to Poti. (Technically, Sukumi is also a Georgian port, but the Abkhaz have controlled it since achieving de facto independence in 1993.) Should Samtredia fall, Russia will have, in effect, enacted a naval blockade of Georgia without using its navy. The city is also the only land link of any meaningful size to Turkey. While Turkey — along with the rest of the world — does not want to get involved in the conflict, the capture of Samtredia effectively blocks any potential land-based reinforcements from reaching Georgia via Turkey.

Furthermore, there is only one road and rail line that leads east from Samtredia to the rest of the country. This transport corridor is, in essence, the backbone of the entire country. Should Samtredia fall, there is really nothing that can be done — by Georgia or anyone else — to stop the Russians from taking over Georgia outright, one piece at a time, at their leisure.

In essence, the Russians are a heartbeat away from being able to dictate terms to the Georgians without even glancing in the direction of Tbilisi.
25208  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-Georgia on: August 11, 2008, 09:16:59 AM
War in the Caucasus
August 11, 2008

"War has started," Vladimir Putin said Friday as Georgian and Russian forces fought over the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia. Since then, the Prime Minister has personally overseen an escalation of hostilities that suggests Russia's true aim is demolishing Georgia's fledgling democracy.

Regardless of who fired the first shots late last week -- each side blames the other -- it became clear over the weekend that Russia intended from the start to turn that small battle into a broader assault. As Georgian troops withdrew from South Ossetia yesterday in hopes of negotiating a cease-fire, thousands of Russian soldiers reportedly were unloading from warships in the Black Sea into another separatist Georgian area, Abkhazia, to create a second front. Russian warplanes bombed cities well inside Georgia, including military bases and the civilian airport near the capital Tbilisi. Moscow has long since gone beyond merely pushing back on Georgia.

On Saturday Mr. Putin explicitly rejected "a return to the status quo" of just a few days ago, when rebels and Russian "peacekeepers" controlled the breakaway regions. Mr. Putin was meeting with generals near the Russia-Georgia border after flying home from the Beijing Olympics, leaving no doubt who was in charge of a war that the Kremlin has long sought (hint: not President Dmitry Medvedev).

Western leaders should have seen this coming. Russia has baited the hot-tempered Georgian leader, Mikheil Saakashvili, with trade and travel embargoes as well as saber-rattling. Georgia has had to tolerate a few thousand Russian troops on its soil. And in April, Russia downed a Georgian drone over Abkhaz -- that is, Georgian -- air space. Russia in recent years has also granted citizenship to the separatists. That looks like premeditation now. President Medvedev pledged Friday to "protect the lives and dignity of Russian citizens, no matter where they are located."

Despite this aggression, the West has proved unwilling to push back against Moscow in the Caucasus. When the U.S. proposed NATO "membership action plans" for Georgia and Ukraine at an April summit in Bucharest, Germany vetoed the move. Berlin didn't want to anger Moscow, a fact that the Russians surely noticed as they contemplated when, or if, to move against the government of Mr. Saakashvili, whom they have long despised as a reformer outside of the Kremlin's orbit. (Mr. Saakashvili writes about the war on a nearby page.)

Europe depends on Russian energy supplies and is loath to stand up to Moscow to help Georgia, which is seen to have made trouble for itself. But this is a crucial moment in the West's relationship with Russia. The rest of the Caucasus, home of other imperfect democracies and critical partners in the Continent's bid for energy security, will take its future cues from how Europe and the U.S. do or don't support Tbilisi.

Now it's up to NATO and especially the U.S. to persuade Moscow to stand down. Washington has publicly described the weekend's events as a "disproportionate and dangerous escalation on the Russian side" and warned of a "significant, long-term impact on U.S.-Russian relations."

Everyone acknowledges that Russia is back as a world power. But it has no right to use its renewed strength to punish democratic neighbors and prevent them from choosing their own futures. Mr. Putin needs to hear that using Ossetia as a pretext for imperialism will have consequences for Russia's relationship with the West.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary
25209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Curtains for Musharraf on: August 11, 2008, 08:59:48 AM
It's Curtains for Musharraf
August 11, 2008; Page A13

After months of prevarication, the Pakistani government, led by Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, has finally decided to impeach President Pervez Musharraf. Although a fighting man, Mr. Musharraf is expected to quit within the week. He doesn't have enough parliamentary backing to thwart the move, and the army and America, his main sources of support, have abandoned him in the face of popular pressure.

Ken Fallin 
The government has been mulling this move for months. Mr. Zardari, of the People's Party of Pakistan (PPP), and Mr. Sharif, of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), both hate the president for political and personal reasons.

Mr. Musharraf ousted Mr. Sharif from power in 1999, exiled him to Saudi Arabia, and only allowed him to return last year to contest the February elections because of Saudi pressure. Mr. Zardari was imprisoned for six years, then permitted to leave the country to join his wife Benazir Bhutto in exile in Dubai. Thanks to American pressure, she was allowed to return last October to contest the elections, and he only returned after she was assassinated in December.

The popular Bhutto accused Mr. Musharraf of an assassination attempt last October. When she was killed two months later, many Pakistanis remembered that accusation.

The Zardari-Sharif cooperation has been driven by political missteps on all sides. Mr. Zardari's decision to work with Mr. Musharraf -- under American urging -- alienated the PPP's rank and file, which has been historically antiarmy and anti-American. At the same time, Mr. Sharif took an anti-Musharraf and anti-America stance, boosting his popularity. Mr. Musharraf didn't help matters when he tried to oppose Mr. Zardari's prime minister pick. Later, he also criticized the new government's "dysfunctionality" in the face of an "impending economic meltdown."

Mr. Musharraf's biggest mistake was to lose focus on the war on terror, alienating his Washington backers without winning domestic public support. For months now, the U.S. has been upset at Pakistan's lackluster cooperation with coalition forces in the war on terror in Pakistan's tribal areas. Washington also accused Pakistan's powerful Interservices Intelligence (ISI) agency, which is associated with Mr. Musharraf, of complicity in the Taliban attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul last month. On the eve of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani's state visit to Washington last month, the government decreed the ISI would henceforth be answerable to the home ministry, instead of to the army chief or President Musharraf.

Mr. Musharraf couldn't countenance this loss of power. He accused the government of trying to "politicize the ISI and undermine national security" at America's prodding, forcing it to backtrack clumsily and lose face. To stave off a possible sacking at Mr. Musharraf's hands, Mr. Zardari joined hands with Mr. Sharif to impeach the president.

Washington, which had not so long ago advocated "working relations" between Mr. Zardari and Mr. Musharraf -- and later shifted its stance to a "dignified exit" for Mr. Musharraf -- responded with a studied silence. "The impeachment of President Musharraf is an internal matter for Pakistan that must be resolved in accordance with the law and constitution," said a White House spokesman on Aug. 7, the day the impeachment decision was announced.

In other words, "go Musharraf go." The U.S. realizes that Mr. Musharraf is extremely unpopular at home, and has concluded that the army is not prepared to risk propping him up any longer. So he is no longer useful. A working relationship with the new civilian order is a better bet.

The Pakistan army is the key to what happens next. Formally, the impeachment of Mr. Musharraf is a numbers game. The ruling coalition needs 295 votes out of 442 in a joint sitting of both houses of parliament to clinch it. They claim the motion will sail through.

But the result will critically depend on about 27 independent members of parliament, and members from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. If the ISI chooses to support Mr. Musharraf, it could probably manage to sway the tribal votes for the president. But it would need the green light from the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, before doing this.

It's unlikely Gen. Kayani will dive into this fray. The army is hugely unpopular at home for fighting "America's war on terror." It is dispirited because it is being criticized by its American ally not just for not doing enough, but for complicity in harboring and protecting the Afghan Taliban. It is demoralized, having lost over 2,000 men fighting terrorists in the tribal areas without sufficient training or motivation. The army remains the prime target of suicide bombers in the urban areas of the country, so much so that its officers no longer go about town in uniform.

Gen. Kayani successfully salvaged some public respect by refusing to tilt the February election results in favor of Mr. Musharraf's party. Therefore, while the officers abhor the "corrupt and bungling civilians," the grudging view is that any overt or covert military backing for Mr. Musharraf would be hugely unpopular, and any formal intervention untenable in the difficult economic and political environment facing the country.

If Mr. Musharraf throws in the towel this week, the current political paralysis might end, but the instability will remain. Mr. Sharif will play to public opinion and press Mr. Zardari to punish Mr. Musharraf for treason. He wants the deposed chief justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Chaudhry, and his erstwhile colleagues restored with full powers.

Mr. Zardari, for his part, may heed advice from the army and Washington and facilitate a safe exit for the president. He will, in all likelihood, refuse to reinstate the chief justice for fear that a reinvigorated judiciary will hold every Musharraf action to date as illegal, including the amnesty from corruption charges granted to him in November. Mr. Zardari also wants to become president himself, a prospect Mr. Sharif cannot stomach.

Pakistan's neighbors India and Afghanistan, and its strategic ally America, cannot be too sanguine about this continuing political instability. Their core interests require Pakistan's civilian leadership to lean on the Pakistan army to rein in and retool the ISI, support the war on terror in Afghanistan, and refrain from refueling Islamist jihad in India-administered Kashmir. But with the army sulking politically and licking its wounds militarily, the Zardari government looks unlikely to deliver on these fronts -- with or without a President Musharraf.

Mr. Sethi is editor of the Friday Times and Daily Times in Lahore, Pakistan.
25210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia-Georgia, Turkey, Caucasus, Central Asia on: August 11, 2008, 08:55:31 AM
Woof All:

It looks like the situation in Georgia requires its own thread.

I begin with the observation that it looks like Stratfor's predictions in the wake of our support of Kosovo's independence are being born out.

Anyway, here's the appeal of the president of Georgia in today's WSJ to kick things off.


The War in Georgia
Is a War for the West
August 11, 2008; Page A15

Tbilisi, Georgia

As I write, Russia is waging war on my country.

On Friday, hundreds of Russian tanks crossed into Georgian territory, and Russian air force jets bombed Georgian airports, bases, ports and public markets. Many are dead, many more wounded. This invasion, which echoes Afghanistan in 1979 and the Prague Spring of 1968, threatens to undermine the stability of the international security system.

An apartment building, damaged by a Russian air strike, in the northern Georgian town of Gori, Saturday, Aug. 9.
Why this war? This is the question my people are asking. This war is not of Georgia's making, nor is it Georgia's choice.

The Kremlin designed this war. Earlier this year, Russia tried to provoke Georgia by effectively annexing another of our separatist territories, Abkhazia. When we responded with restraint, Moscow brought the fight to South Ossetia.

Ostensibly, this war is about an unresolved separatist conflict. Yet in reality, it is a war about the independence and the future of Georgia. And above all, it is a war over the kind of Europe our children will live in. Let us be frank: This conflict is about the future of freedom in Europe.

No country of the former Soviet Union has made more progress toward consolidating democracy, eradicating corruption and building an independent foreign policy than Georgia. This is precisely what Russia seeks to crush.

This conflict is therefore about our common trans-Atlantic values of liberty and democracy. It is about the right of small nations to live freely and determine their own future. It is about the great power struggles for influence of the 20th century, versus the path of integration and unity defined by the European Union of the 21st. Georgia has made its choice.

When my government was swept into power by a peaceful revolution in 2004, we inherited a dysfunctional state plagued by two unresolved conflicts dating to the early 1990s. I pledged to reunify my country -- not by the force of arms, but by making Georgia a pole of attraction. I wanted the people living in the conflict zones to share in the prosperous, democratic country that Georgia could -- and has -- become.

In a similar spirit, we sought friendly relations with Russia, which is and always will be Georgia's neighbor. We sought deep ties built on mutual respect for each other's independence and interests. While we heeded Russia's interests, we also made it clear that our independence and sovereignty were not negotiable. As such, we felt we could freely pursue the sovereign choice of the Georgian nation -- to seek deeper integration into European economic and security institutions.

We have worked hard to peacefully bring Abkhazia and South Ossetia back into the Georgian fold, on terms that would fully protect the rights and interests of the residents of these territories. For years, we have offered direct talks with the leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, so that we could discuss our plan to grant them the broadest possible autonomy within the internationally recognized borders of Georgia.

But Russia, which effectively controls the separatists, responded to our efforts with a policy of outright annexation. While we appealed to residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia with our vision of a common future, Moscow increasingly took control of the separatist regimes. The Kremlin even appointed Russian security officers to arm and administer the self-styled separatist governments.

Under any circumstances, Russia's meddling in our domestic affairs would have constituted a gross violation of international norms. But its actions were made more egregious by the fact that Russia, since the 1990s, has been entrusted with the responsibility of peacekeeping and mediating in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Rather than serve as honest broker, Russia became a direct party to the conflicts, and now an open aggressor.

As Europe expanded its security institutions to the Black Sea, my government appealed to the Western community of nations -- particularly European governments and institutions -- to play a leading role in resolving our separatist conflicts. The key to any resolution was to replace the outdated peacekeeping and negotiating structures created almost two decades ago, and dominated by Russia, with a genuine international effort.

But Europe kept its distance and, predictably, Russia escalated its provocations. Our friends in Europe counseled restraint, arguing that diplomacy would take its course. We followed their advice and took it one step further, by constantly proposing new ideas to resolve the conflicts. Just this past spring, we offered the separatist leaders sweeping autonomy, international guarantees and broad representation in our government.

Our offers of peace were rejected. Moscow sought war. In April, Russia began treating the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as Russian provinces. Again, our friends in the West asked us to show restraint, and we did. But under the guise of peacekeeping, Russia sent paratroopers and heavy artillery into Abkhazia. Repeated provocations were designed to bring Georgia to the brink of war.

When this failed, the Kremlin turned its attention to South Ossetia, ordering its proxies there to escalate attacks on Georgian positions. My government answered with a unilateral cease-fire; the separatists began attacking civilians and Russian tanks pierced the Georgian border. We had no choice but to protect our civilians and restore our constitutional order. Moscow then used this as pretext for a full-scale military invasion of Georgia.

Over the past days, Russia has waged an all-out attack on Georgia. Its tanks have been pouring into South Ossetia. Its jets have bombed not only Georgian military bases, but also civilian and economic infrastructure, including demolishing the port of Poti on the Black Sea coast. Its Black Sea fleet is now massing on our shores and an attack is under way in Abkhazia.

What is at stake in this war?

Most obviously, the future of my country is at stake. The people of Georgia have spoken with a loud and clear voice: They see their future in Europe. Georgia is an ancient European nation, tied to Europe by culture, civilization and values. In January, three in four Georgians voted in a referendum to support membership in NATO. These aims are not negotiable; now, we are paying the price for our democratic ambitions.

Second, Russia's future is at stake. Can a Russia that wages aggressive war on its neighbors be a partner for Europe? It is clear that Russia's current leadership is bent on restoring a neocolonial form of control over the entire space once governed by Moscow.

If Georgia falls, this will also mean the fall of the West in the entire former Soviet Union and beyond. Leaders in neighboring states -- whether in Ukraine, in other Caucasian states or in Central Asia -- will have to consider whether the price of freedom and independence is indeed too high.

Mr. Saakashvili is president of Georgia.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus
25211  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Kremlin Capers on: August 11, 2008, 08:42:58 AM
Kremlin Capers
August 11, 2008
Grim news continued to flow from Georgia yesterday. The Georgians said Russia had bombed the civilian airport in Tbilisi, while Russian warships off the coast began an economic embargo. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin left the Beijing Olympics and flew to Russian North Ossetia, where he revealingly criticized "Georgia's aspiration to join NATO."

Not least among the geopolitical realities coming to the surface at the moment is that of just who's top dog in the Kremlin. While it's widely thought Mr. Putin's power trumps that of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, an interesting wrinkle has emerged elsewhere in the new Russia that has modern-day Kremlinologists wondering whether the president might yet become more his own man.

The story revolves around Russian coal and steel company Mechel, which is publicly listed on the New York Stock exchange. On Friday the firm said it was going to postpone a preferred share placement in the wake of a battering its shares took from the volatile Mr. Putin.

Late last month, Mr. Putin accused the company of price gouging and tax evasion and warned of investigations to follow. He also got personal after Mechel CEO Igor Zyuzin failed to show up to a meeting the prime minister was holding with business leaders. "The director has been invited, and he suddenly became ill," said Mr. Putin, according to the Moscow Times. "I think he should get well as soon as possible. Otherwise, we will have to send him a doctor and clean up all the problems." Mr. Zyuzin had been hospitalized a day earlier with heart problems.

Coming from Mr. Putin, such talk is nothing short of terrifying: Consider the fate of former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, now in jail in Siberia while Yukos's assets were gobbled up by state-owned oil company Rosneft. Investors swiftly took note: Mechel's stock dropped by more than 33% in a day, while the Russian exchange fell by 9%.

The Mechel play springs from a familiar game plan, in which accusations of tax or regulatory problems become the alibis by which the Kremlin and its cronies seize the assets of unwanted competitors. "It is a strictly commercial operation in the framework of Kremlin Inc. Tribute is no longer enough for them; they want to take everything into ownership," speculates Russian analyst Vladimir Pribylovsky. A similar scenario has played out with British Petroleum's BP-TNK venture in Russia, in which the Russian partners used visa "issues" to force CEO Robert Dudley out of the country.

The surprise in all this is that President Medvedev has decided to protest. "We need to create a normal investment climate in our country," the President said, without mentioning Mr. Putin. "Our law-enforcement agencies and government authorities should stop causing nightmares for business." A Medvedev adviser added that "it is not correct to destroy your own stock market . . . and wipe off $60 billion." The Russian stock market is trading at a 22-month low.

The question for Kremlinologists is whether Mr. Medvedev's comments are evidence of some independence on his part and perhaps a looming power struggle, or merely amount to a good cop, bad cop routine. It would be heartening to think it's the former, and that Russia's leaders are beginning to realize there are costs to their habits of confiscation. But with foreign investors still looking to make a fast killing in Russian markets (foreign direct investment jumped by some 60% between 2006 and 2007), those costs apparently won't be paid for some time. Meanwhile, for anyone thinking of putting money into Russia, the message should be caveat investor.

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

And add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.

25212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: August 11, 2008, 08:04:06 AM
"9/11 was terrible, albeit lucky"

Here we have a profound difference of opinion.  911 was quite on purpose, and a continuation of the previous attacks on the WTC.  The luck on that day was not theirs that the WTC collapsed, the luck that day was ours that their attack succeeded only partially.  My understanding is that the plane that hit the Pentagon did so because of the minimal flying skills of the jihadi pilot.  He missed the White House and therefor continued on to the Pentagon as the previously worked out Plan B.  Then there is the matter of Flight 93.  What was its intended target?  The Capitol Building?  The nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island-- in which case a goodly % of Pennsylvania would have been left glowing for a very long time.

"(A)s terrible as it was, it was an abberation."

Here too we disagree.  It was not an abberation.  It is part of a world wide pattern.

"Muslims/Islam do not threaten core American and simply cannot.  Another terror attack yes, but core America; no.  They do not have the means; intent is one thing, evil is evil, but means, i.e. nuclear weapons, a significant army, navy, delivery systems, etc. is another."

I am glad we agree about the evil and its intent, but we do not when it comes to the matter of means.

Of course there is no issue of a frontal military invasion, but IMHO the unfortunate reality is that the nature of 4th Generation Warfare is that if we do nothing they will have the means in addition to already having the intent.    I mentioned a moment ago the possibility of Flight 93 having been intended for the nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island.  Whether that particular hijacking did have such a target or not, other ones in the future can. 

There is also the matter of the spread of nuclear technology.  Of course you know about Iran disrespecting its obligations under international treaty about allowing its nuclear program to be supervised to ensure that it does not develop the bomb.  Please correct me if I am wrong, but you read to me as caring not at all or very little about this.  Please tell us what, if anything, you think should be done about this.

Iran is already in a position to hand off radioactive materials -- something of which Israel, a goodly portion of which is in reach of over 20,000 Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, is acutely aware.  Iran's theocratic state has already expressed the desire and intention to wipe out Israel-- which continues to exist so far only because it is a nuclear power.  What happens when Iran gets the bomb?

As far as delivery capability goes, Iran, in preparation for the day that it will have the bomb, has already developed missiles capable of carrying nukes that can reach the eastern half of Europe.  Is this a matter of indifference to you?  I doubt it is to the Euros?  It is why we are having to establish anti missile missiles in eastern Europe, much to the irriation of the Russians, who as I type are invading Georgia in retaliation for our doing so (as well as our stupid support of separating Kosovo).   At what point do you think we need to act?  Only when it becomes even more difficult to do something about it?

I think it was in the Iran thread that I posted that Iran has tested launching from boats.  What this means is that with one speacially prepared tramp steamer, one nuclear bomb, and their existing missiles, that Iran could deniably hand off and launch a nuclear bomb and explode it high over the continental US and the EMP (electric magnetic pulse) could/would wipe out a very large percentage of our internet, computers, the records stored thereon etc.

"I assure you, we have enough problems to worry about, but worrying about Muslims invading America is very low our my list.  Actually, I know quite a few; they are doctors and attorneys and they are all wonderful people.  Unlike you, I don't think think they are all evil and a threat to America.  I think you will find every race has good and bad; it is too bad you focus and seem to hate minorities; Muslims and Asians in particular, yet you are a minority.  Rather odd...?"

As discussed the frontal military invasion is not the issue.  The invidious and vicious logic of 4th Gen Warfare is the issue. 

But let us turn to Islam itself.  As I hope you have already noticed, quite a few threads on this forun are dedicated to exploring the question of the nature of Islam here and around the world.  Have you read them?  I know that they are quite long but I encourage you to put aside the time to go back and read through them-- it is way this forum organizes the content of threads the way it does; so that readers such as you can study a particular theme.  Yes the investment of your time will be substantial, but I think you will come away with your opinion evolved from where it is now.

OF COURSE many Muslims are fine and wonderful people.  Unfortunately there seems to be SOMETHING going on on a world-wide basis.  IMHO actions such blowing up Buddhist statues in Afg (the act which first put the Taliban on the international radar screen) or beheading Buddhist monks and school teachers in Thailand, the Paristinian Revolt in France and so forth show that this is not a matter of blowback as the liberal guilt school of analysis would have it. We have seen the world-wide riots and the killings in response to the Danish cartoons.  Iran issued a death sentence on Rushdie for writing a book and has had people involved in publishing the book killed even though they have not yet gotten to him. Just this past week we saw a US publishing company back off from publishing a novel about Mohammed's nine year old bride for fear of the same-- does it not give you a sense of the phenomenon of Islamic Fascism already beginning to reach into your life when certain books are not published here in America for fear???

My approach is this.  The creed upon which this country is founded holds in part that our rights come from the Creator and amongst them are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  That includes Freedom of Choice, informed by Free Speech, which is insured in part by Separation of Church and State.  In my opinion, to be a good American one must believe in these things. 

Because as good Americans we believe in tolerance and freedom of religion IMHO it becomes important to understand that if one believes in theocracy, and the right to silence by any means necessary those who mock or criticize. then we have a real problem.  To the extent that a follower of Islam believes in theocracy, Islam becomes a political ideology as well as religion and that political ideology is seditious and as such the danger is proportionate to the numbers of the followers of this political ideology.

"As for "facts and proof" interesting how you ignore the ones you can't (torture) contest, but manage to find (you must have lots of time) an article (I suppose I could find an article or source to support that the world is still flat; ahhh the beauty of cut and paste) to support your biased minority opinion.   I suppose if I had time (I don't) I could cut and paste articles to match your prolific articles one to one, but the overwhelming evidence contradicts you!  Our own government acknowledges torture!  Good grief man, wake up!  We've done wrong!  It's a given."

1) Four posts ago GM specifically responded you various assertions you made and I invite you to respond specfically to them.

2) For the second, and hopefully last, time I address this matter of pasting articles.  GM has posted articles which are specifically responsive to the assertions and points you make.  It doesn't take him a long time to find these articles precisely because he has run into the assertions you make many times before and simply already has them at hand and simply calling them "biased, minority opinion" simply does not engage with their content.

3) This matter of when interrogation techniques become torture and what we have or havent' actually done IS a difficult one.  As I have previously stated here, I think the Bush-Rumbo team has committed some real errors here and in some respects gone places which I think we shouldn't have gone too. 

OTOH I think there has been a tremendous amount of disingenuous and non-factual hypeventilating in the MSM e.g. when the NY Times reports Gitmo prisoners accusations as fact.  Forgive me, but I think this misreportage has infected your perception of reality with a "There's so much smoke! Everyone knows there must be fire!" state of mind wherein it has become difficult for you to emotionally enagage with the very specific information which GM has put in your path.

"And basic Civil Rights have been denied; it might be you and me next time if we don't speak up.  Accept it and please don't cut and paste absurdly biased articles.  Open your eyes; the world is not us against Muslims and Asians (Brown People) etc. 

The crack about Asians/Brown People reads to me as a smear.  Unless you can point to something specific that GM has said, you should withdraw this comment.

"The world is getting smaller and we need to learn to live together."

Exactly.  Not killing people for writing books, drawing cartoons, not believing in Islam would be a good idea, not killing school teachers for teachng girls, not beating up women for not wearing a potato sack from head to toe when its 120 degrees out would be a good start-- yes?.

"Most of my friends are very successful and work for large international corporations; they are not just American companies, but global companies and the world (Muslims, Asians, etc.) is their marketplace.  No one seems to share you belief that a boogie man (Muslims) lives and threatens us behind every tree..."

You mischaracterize. Anyway, I'm hungry and go upstairs to make some breakfast.

IMHO the question presented is whether Muslims see this as a religious war with them against us, or whether they see this as a war between civilization and barbarism with them on the same side as us.

25213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson: War and Peace on: August 11, 2008, 06:28:37 AM
"Whatever enables us to go to war, secures our peace."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to James Monroe, 24 October 1823)

Reference: Jeffersonian Cyclopedia, Foley (685); orignal The
Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Ford, ed., vol. 5 (198)
25214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: August 10, 2008, 10:12:11 AM
At the time I didn't understand why we supported the breakaway of Kosovo.  As Stratfor predicted, the Russians looked for a place to retaliate rhetorically hoisting us on our petard with its justifications.    What will they do now viz our efforts to stop Iran from going nuke?

Condi Rice is supposed to be a deep expert in Russian matters, but as best as I can tell the Bush administration has misread Putin and seriously overplayed our hand viz the Russkis. 
25215  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Water in Israel on: August 10, 2008, 07:30:32 AM
Roni Kedar works with an irrigation system.
A SOUVENIR in the corner of Doron Ovits’s office attests to the challenges of farming in Israel.

It’s a mangled piece of metal, and Mr. Ovits says it came from a rocket that landed in a field recently, lobbed from the nearby Gaza Strip.  But Mr. Ovits may have a bigger long-term problem than rockets. 

Israel is running short of water. A growing population and rising incomes have increased demand for fresh water, while a four-year drought has created what Shalom Simhon, the agriculture minister, calls “a deep water crisis.”

The problem isn’t only in Israel. Many arid regions of the globe, including the American West, are dealing with growing populations and shrinking water supplies. Global warming could make matters even worse.  In a speech earlier this year, the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, said the shortage of water could lead to violence.

“Our experiences tell us that environmental stress, due to lack of water, may lead to conflict and would be greater in poor nations,” he said. “Population growth will make the problem worse. So will climate change. As the global economy grows, so will its thirst. Many more conflicts lie just over the horizon.” Some economists suggest that arid countries should focus on growing only those crops that give them a competitive advantage, like water-sipping grapes and vegetables, and buy everything else on the world market.

But the recent volatility and high prices in commodity markets have made many world leaders reluctant to rely on global markets. Some oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia are now shopping for farmland in more fertile countries like Sudan and Pakistan.  Others are now more determined than ever to increase their own food production, Israel among them. The question now becomes, at what cost?

“The greatest challenge we face is to try and reduce the dependence on the import of grains, whether by increasing local production or whether by making more efficient use of raw materials in feeding livestock,” Mr. Simhon said in an e-mail exchange. “This must be done, despite all limitations, mainly the lack of water.”

Israel has always been considered to be at the forefront of water efficiency in agriculture. Modern drip irrigation was invented in Israel, and Israeli companies like Netafim now ship drip-irrigation systems all over the world.  Israel has also aggressively pursued the use of treated sewer water for irrigation. Mr. Ovits’s tomatoes and peppers, for instance, are irrigated with recycled sewer water that he says is “even cleaner than the drinking water.”

For all the country’s efforts though, it can’t control the weather. But Israeli officials say they believe they have a solution.

Agriculture in Israel now consumes 500 million cubic meters of potable water and an equal amount of other types of water, primarily treated sewer water. The country plans to provide a further 200 million cubic meters of recycled sewer water and build more desalination plants to supply even more water.

“If the desalination and recycling projects are implemented, a lack of water is not expected in 2013,” Mr. Simhon said.

But is such an investment wise for a sector that contributes just 2 percent to the gross domestic product? Some critics suggest that Israel would be better off focusing on conservation.

Others have predicted a dire future. The chief scientist in the environment ministry, Yeshayahu Bar-Or, was quoted in The Economist in June as predicting that global warming would cause 35 percent less rainfall, contamination of underground water sources and pollution of the Sea of Galilee, this nation’s largest source of fresh water.

In the Golan Heights, Roni Kedar, 46, hopes his farm can survive long enough for a solution.  As a farmer for Kibbutz Ein Zivan, which abuts the Syrian border, he has spent the last 30 years trying to conserve water while growing grapes, apples, flowers and berries. 
HIS crops are irrigated with treated sewer water and rain runoff that is captured in a nearby reservoir, which is now severely depleted. He grows plants that do not require much water and feeds them with irrigation lines that drip water directly onto a plant’s roots, minimizing waste. And he is now experimenting in his apple orchards with mesh nets that may further prevent evaporation.

But because of the drought, Israeli officials have cut the kibbutz’s annual quota of water. This year’s cuts were particularly harsh, to 1 million cubic meters from 1.8 million, forcing Mr. Kedar to tear out some of his orchards and rip the fruit off of some of his apple trees, to keep the trees alive but preserve water.

“I don’t even like to go there. It’s a disaster,” he said, motioning toward an apple orchard where the fruit covers the ground. “We just threw everything to the floor and hope that next year is better.”

He estimated that he would not harvest a third of his fields because of the water restrictions. “The decision is really simple. You choose the part of your fields that are hardest to get water to and you destroy them. We just don’t have enough water,” he said later. “It’s frustrating because you work hard to make it grow. The point is to be big and efficient enough to survive. But right now it’s hard.”
25216  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: August 10, 2008, 07:15:06 AM
One of the better UFC cards in a while last night IMHO.

Brock Lesnar showed tremendous improvement over his last outing which I suspect is due to having both Eric Paulsen and Greg Nelson in his corner  shocked  Herring gets the Rocky award.

GSP continues to amaze and balls of steel award, jaw of steel award and conditioning award to Fitch for being the warrior to let him show it.  Great respect between the two at the end of the fight.  Perhaps Sled Dog can give us some background on GSP's fight preps?

Just before Manny Gamburian got dropped I said "He sure is looking straight up and down with his chin out , , ,"  MG is very good and surely must be sorely disappointed with himself.

Other good fights too, but the names slip my mind at the moment.

25217  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: August 10, 2008, 12:20:58 AM
Reminder: See page three of this thread for Pappy Dog's post giving the details for the Fighters Post Gathering Get-together.
25218  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: August 09, 2008, 09:03:23 PM
Tom did not go easy on him either.  A lot of men would not have come back after that.
25219  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: August 09, 2008, 01:06:08 PM
As has become the custom, there will be a get-together for the fighters, family and friends at Joe's afterwards.  Pappy Dog will be posting the info shortly. 

Be warned, if the piano is still there, I will be playing for a little while once again.
25220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The bottom line on: August 09, 2008, 11:33:11 AM

Given the speed with which the Russians reacted to Georgia’s incursion into South Ossetia, Moscow was clearly ready to intervene. We suspect the Georgians were set up for this in some way, but at this point the buildup to the conflict no longer matters. What matters is the message that Russia is sending to the West.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev summed this message up best: “Historically Russia has been, and will continue to be, a guarantor of security for peoples of the Caucasus.”

Strategically, we said Russia would respond to Kosovo’s independence, and they have. Russia is now declaring the Caucasus to be part of its sphere of influence. We have spoken for months of how Russia would find a window of opportunity to redefine the region. This is happening now.
All too familiar with the sight of Russian tanks, the Baltic countries are terrified of what they face in the long run, and they should be. This is the first major Russian intervention since the fall of the Soviet Union. Yes, Russia has been involved elsewhere. Yes, Russia has fought. But this is on a new order of confidence and indifference to general opinion. We will look at this as a defining moment.

The most important reaction will not be in the United States or Western Europe. It is the reaction in the former Soviet states that matters most right now. That is the real audience for this. Watch the reaction of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Nagorno-Karabakh and the Balts. How will Russia’s moves affect them psychologically?

The Russians hold a trump card with the Americans: Iran. They can flood Iran with weapons at will. The main U.S. counter is in Ukraine and Central Asia, but is not nearly as painful.

Tactically, there is only one issue: Will the Russians attack Georgia on the ground? If they are going to, the Russians have likely made that decision days ago.

Focus on whether Russia invades Georgia proper. Then watch the former Soviet states. The United States and Germany are of secondary interest at this point.
25221  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Recommendations for book on history of Philippines? on: August 09, 2008, 06:20:04 AM
25222  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: August 09, 2008, 05:53:24 AM
For the record, I think the Bush team has gone places with interrogation techniques that I think both wrong and unsound.  I also think that there has been a tremendous amount of dishonest and disingenuous hyperventilating by the Dems and the MSM.  The cacophony generated by them leads good people such as JDN to assume that with so much smoke, there must be a lot of fire-- but if JDN is willing to reason with GM I think by the end of the conversation he may find that his thinking has changed in some respects.  The Dorf piece he has posted answers quite directly many of the assertions/accusations that you raise.  What say you?

25223  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sgt Claude on: August 09, 2008, 05:39:13 AM
Profiles of valor: USA Sgt. Claude
In September 2007, United States Army Sergeant Charles Claude Jr. was on patrol in Mosul, Iraq, as the turret gunner in an M1117 Guardian Armored Security Vehicle (ASV). Claude’s convoy noticed an IED ahead and sent forward troops to neutralize it as quickly as possible. As soon as it was disabled, however, insurgents attacked from all directions with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. Sgt. Claude fired back, taking out two insurgent vehicles—known as “technicals” —before being hit himself by a barrage of fire. His vehicle commander was also wounded. But Claude fought on despite his wound, and despite the fact that the sights of his machine gun were destroyed by enemy fire. Then, in close-quarters fighting, an insurgent jumped onto Claude’s vehicle. While the driver tried to throw the insurgent off, Claude spun his turret toward the enemy and ended the threat. As the area was secured, Claude continued to ignore his wound while providing defensive cover. Later it was discovered that the two disabled enemy “technicals” were mobile weapons caches, and they were no longer in the hands of terrorists. Sgt. Claude’s courageous actions that day saved numerous American lives and turned the tables on an enemy ambush. He was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor.
25224  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PatriotPost on: August 09, 2008, 05:37:26 AM
Campaign watch: Lots of nonsense
Barack Obama, as expected, has declined John McCain’s offer to participate in a series of 10 town hall meetings this fall. Obama, no doubt wondering how he would coherently expound upon “change we can believe in” when put on the spot by audience members, has committed only to the three debates scheduled by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Obama also angered some black groups this week by “clarifying” his earlier position on slavery reparations. Earlier, when asked about the possibility of an apology and reparations for slavery and the Jim Crow era, he spoke about backing up words with deeds. He now says that an apology would not necessarily benefit black Americans, and that reparations might be a “distraction,” presumably from real change. No wonder he doesn’t want to participate in McCain’s town hall meetings—he doesn’t dare to walk this particular tightrope, or others, without his trusty teleprompter.

On the lighter side of things, the McCain campaign has been hitting Obama on all sides with humor. For example, Obama offered last week this money-saving tip: Americans should make sure their tires are properly inflated. While this maintenance practice does indeed improve gas mileage, it is hardly the sort of substantive suggestion we should be hearing from a presidential candidate. McCain senior aid Mark Slater soon began handing out tire gauges that read “Obama’s Energy Plan.” Who said the energy crisis isn’t funny?

The big buzz, of course, is that in a new ad, McCain compared Obama to celebrities Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. The ad called Obama “the biggest celebrity in the world” and asked if he was ready to lead. Hilton’s mother jumped to her defense, criticizing the ad. Oddly enough, she and her husband have donated $4,600 to McCain’s campaign. We think astute political analyst Jay Leno got this one right: “Of all the videos Paris Hilton has been in, this is the one mom’s upset about?”
25225  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: August 09, 2008, 05:35:04 AM
I'm thinking the Chinese will to be violent has something to do with it too , , , Anyway, my doubt of your hypothesis remains.   Furthermore, I can see them using this to increase their totalitarian control-- which my libertarian self notes includes quite a few million cameras everywhere watching everything.
25226  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Paycheck Fairness drivel on: August 09, 2008, 05:31:16 AM

What do you think of this sort of thing?


Anything but fairness
Shortly before it recessed, the House passed the inaptly named “Paycheck Fairness Act.” This bill so dramatically amends the Fair Pay Act of 1963 that it should be called “The Small Business Destruction Act.”

Under current law, it is permissible for an employer to give male and female employees different compensation so long as the difference is based on “a factor other than sex.” Not so under the scheme devised by House Democrats. Under the new law, an employer would be liable for any difference in pay between male and female employees, unless the employer can show that a “legitimate” business reason exists for the differential, and, furthermore, that no “alternative employment practice” could prevent the differential. Democrats don’t want the employer and the labor market to make compensation decisions. Instead, they prefer that plaintiffs’ lawyers, the courts and juries decide what compensation is proper.

It gets worse. This law applies to virtually all employers, even businesses with as few as two employees. Employers would be liable, even if they did not intend to discriminate. Moreover, they face unlimited compensatory and punitive damages. This legislation, which Pelosi calls a “common-sense” measure, is a dream come true for the radical feminists who think wrongly that all wage disparities between men and women are the result of sex discrimination. It’s also a boon for trial lawyers—and a nightmare for the rest of us. Thankfully, the bill faces substantial opposition in the Senate, and President George W. Bush has vowed a veto.
25227  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / EMP on: August 09, 2008, 05:18:54 AM
The EMP Threat
August 9, 2008; Page A10
Imagine you're a terrorist with a single nuclear weapon. You could wipe out the U.S. city of your choice, or you could decide to destroy the infrastructure of the entire U.S. economy and leave millions of Americans to die of starvation or want of medical care.

The latter scenario is the one envisioned by a long-running commission to assess the threat from electromagnetic pulse, or EMP. The subject of its latest, and little discussed, report to Congress is the effect an EMP attack could have on civilian infrastructure. If you're prone to nightmares, don't read it before bedtime.

An EMP attack occurs when a nuclear bomb explodes high in the Earth's atmosphere. The electromagnetic pulse generated by the blast destroys all the electronics in its line of sight. For a bomb detonated over the Midwest, that includes most of the continental U.S. Few, if any, people die in the blast. It's what comes next that has the potential to be catastrophic. Since an EMP surge wipes out electronics, virtually every aspect of modern American life would come to a standstill.

The commission's list of horribles is 181 pages long. The chapter on food, for instance, catalogs the disruptions up and down the production chain as food spoils or has no way to get to market. Many families have food supplies of several days or more. But after that, and without refrigeration, what? The U.S. also has 75,000 dams and reservoirs, 168,000 drinking water-treatment facilities, and 19,000 wastewater treatment centers -- all with pumps, valves and filters run by electricity.

Getting everything up and running again is not merely a matter of flipping a switch, and the commission estimates that many systems could be out of service for months or a year or more -- far longer than emergency stockpiles or batteries could cover. The large transformers used in electrical transmission are no longer built in the U.S. and delivery time is typically three years. "Lack of high voltage equipment manufacturing capacity represents a glaring weakness in our survival and recovery," the commission notes.

Many industries rely on automated control systems maintained by small work forces. In emergencies -- say, during a blackout -- companies often have arrangements in place to borrow workers from outside the affected area to augment the locals and help with manual repairs. After an EMP attack, those workers would be busy in their home regions -- or foraging for food and water for their families.

The commission offers extensive recommendations for how industry and government can protect against the effects of an EMP attack and ensure a quicker recovery. They include "hardening" more equipment to withstand an electromagnetic pulse; making sure replacement equipment is on hand; training recovery personnel; increasing federal food stockpiles; and many others.

If not, our vulnerability "can both invite and reward attack," the commission's chairman, William Graham, told Congress last month. Iran's military writings "explicitly discuss a nuclear EMP attack that would gravely harm the United States," he said. James Shinn, an assistant secretary of defense, has said that China is developing EMP weapons. The commission calls an EMP attack "one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences." The threat is real. It's past time to address it.
25228  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: August 09, 2008, 04:15:46 AM
August 8, 2008
Fighting in Georgia’s separatist enclave of South Ossetia picked up overnight Friday. Georgia moved regular army forces into the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali proper after having captured most of the suburbs and encircling the town. The Georgian government says that its forces now hold most South Ossetian territory, including all of the heights overlooking the capital.

South Ossetia seceded from Georgia in 1993 during the chaos of the Soviet breakup. In those early post-Soviet days, a crumbling Russia wanted to maintain footholds south of the Caucasus Mountains and ensure that Georgia could not become a launching point for foreign influence into Russian territory. On the other side of the border, Georgia was undergoing a nationalist spasm that made the South Ossetians believe that their destruction was imminent. These fears merged and the Russians provided the South Ossetians with the military capabilities they needed to secure and hold independence. Fifteen years later, the Georgians are attempting to eliminate the South Ossetian separatists.

But this conflict is about much more than simply which flag flies over a tiny chunk of territory in the Caucasus. Georgia is an extremely pro-American and pro-Western state and represents the easternmost foothold of American/Western power. It has also been in the Russian orbit for the bulk of the past 300 years. As such, it is the hottest flashpoint in Western-Russian relations. Which way the territory falls ultimately decides whether Russia can determine security concerns that literally fall right on the border of its heartland. To put it another way, what is being decided here is whether bordering Russia and simultaneously being a U.S. ally is a suicidal combination. Whichever way this works out, the dynamics of the entire region are about to be turned on their head.

The conflict started on Thursday because the South Ossetians feared that the Russians were about to sell them out. Russia does not want Georgia to join NATO — or even to be appearing to be seeking to join NATO — and so has cranked up political, economic and military pressure on Tbilisi. The two had been negotiating a deal by which Georgia would abandon its NATO bid and tone down its rhetoric in exchange for being allowed to continue existing. Since South Ossetia (and, to a lesser degree, Georgia’s other breakaway region of Abkhazia) gauges its own prospects for continued existence based on the level of tension between Moscow and Tbilisi, the South Ossetians feared that restoration of some sort of “normal” relations between Russia and Georgia could destroy them. Ergo they began shelling Georgian towns near Tskhinvali. The Georgians responded with an invasion.

Fundamentally there are only two locations in this conflict that matter: the capital and the southern end of the Roki Tunnel, which connects South Ossetia to Russia. The capital is the only city of note in South Ossetia, and the Roki is the only means for Russia to shuttle forces to and from the territory. The tunnel is only two lanes wide and is an excellent choke point. If Georgia can capture and hold those two targets, South Ossetia’s 15-year rebellion will in essence be over.

But that can happen only if the Russians let it. While Georgia’s forces — with U.S. training — have become demonstrably more capable in the past five years, Georgia remains a relative military pigmy and South Ossetia is a Russian client.

Effective Russian intervention has not yet materialized, however. Russian sources are reporting that the Georgians have engaged Russian peacekeepers (forces the Russians have long deployed to guarantee South Ossetia’s independence) and killed their commander. Georgian sources report that Russian jets have bombed Gori, a city in Georgia proper that is being used for the invasion’s launching point. Those reports also claim that Georgian forces downed one of the jets.

The truth of the reports from either side cannot be confirmed at this point, but this we know for sure: If the Russians were committed to assisting the South Ossetians, then the Roki tunnel would be flooded with military assets flowing south instead of evacuees flooding north. All reports at present indicate that the northern end of the tunnel is cluttered with evacuation buses, by some reports enough to transport a sizable portion of South Ossetia’s total population of about 70,000.

If the Russians do commit militarily, one of the most enthusiastic forces they could tap to assist South Ossetia are the Abkhaz. Like South Ossetia, Abkhazia is another Georgian separatist enclave that could have attained and maintained its de facto independence only with active Russian military support. The Abkhaz say they are willing to send at least 1,000 volunteers to back up South Ossetia, but it appears the Russians are restraining them.

The Russians appear to be making up their minds about what to do. President Dmitri Medvedev is chairing a National Security Council meeting as this diary is being published, a meeting that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin — at the Olympics in Beijing — is undoubtedly attending remotely.

The Russians now face an uncomfortable decision. South Ossetia wants to force Russia to intervene militarily, but Russia prefers to maintain the fiction that it is not Russian military assets that guarantee South Ossetian independence. Should Russia not intervene, however, it will essentially have demonstrated its ineffectiveness in its own back yard. Kosovo’s independence proved that Russian diplomatic power in Europe was nonexistent. Getting forced out of South Ossetia — a territory that Russia not only borders but has troops in — would be several steps past humiliation.

And so we would be very surprised if Russia does not act. Which means we are very surprised that the Russians have not yet acted firmly. They will need to do so very soon, for if Georgia manages to capture both Tskhinvali and the mouth of the Roki Tunnel, then Russia not only will have lost its foothold in the South Caucasus, but also will be unable to use purely conventional forces to put the military balance back where Moscow would like it to be.

So, for now, all eyes are on that security council meeting in Moscow. The Russians need to decide if they are all in.

25229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: August 09, 2008, 04:15:05 AM
I say this with complete sincerity GM-- that was very interesting.

I can see that I need to sharpen my question a bit.  My hesitation with your analysis comes from not seeing the Chinese as seeing this as something for which they will particularly benefit from working with us.  I can see them as looking to solve the problem as they do so many others (e.g. Tibet) -- by being the totalitarian pricks that they are and by dilution with Chinese population.
25230  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: August 08, 2008, 11:00:39 PM
By all means start filling your dance card gents.

My student Mauricio of Mexico City is looking for double stick fights.

Changing subjects, our friend David Knight of Hermosa Beach needs a ride to and from the Gathering.  If someone could help him out that would be great.  His phone number is 310-404-3815.  I've just left a message telling him I will be posting here about him so he shouldn't be surprised to hear from you.  Thanks.
25231  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: August 08, 2008, 02:59:22 PM
If I counted correctly we are now at 50 fighters including from Belgiium, Canada, and Mexico!
25232  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: August 08, 2008, 02:55:30 PM
"To successfully engage an element of the global jihad requires a global, systemic strategy, not just targeting hajis in Xinjiang."

25233  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizen-Police interactions on: August 08, 2008, 02:51:21 PM,2933,317398,00.html

MINNEAPOLIS — With her six kids and husband tucked into bed, Yee Moua was watching TV in her living room just after midnight when she heard voices — faint at first, then louder. Then came the sound of a window shattering.

Moua bolted upstairs, where her husband, Vang Khang, grabbed his shotgun from a closet, knelt and fired a warning shot through his doorway as he heard footsteps coming up the stairs. He let loose with two more blasts. Twenty-two bullets were fired back at him, by the family's count.
Then things suddenly became clear.

"It's the police! Police!" his sons yelled.

Khang, a Hmong immigrant with shaky command of English, set down his gun, raised his hands and was soon on the ground, an officer's boot on his neck.

The gunmen, it turned out, were members of a police SWAT team that had raided the wrong address because of bad information from an informant — a mistake that some critics say happens all too frequently around the country and gets innocent people killed.

"I have six kids, and only one mistake almost took my kids' life," said Moua, 29. "We will never forget this."

No one was hurt in the raid Sunday, conducted by a task force that fights drugs and gangs, though two police officers were hit by the shotgun blasts and narrowly escaped injury because they were wearing bulletproof vests.

Police apologized to the family and placed the seven officers on leave while it investigates what went wrong.

Such mistakes are a fact of police work, some experts said.
"Does going to the wrong address happen from time to time? Yes," said John Gnagey, executive director of the National Tactical Officers

Association in Doylestown, Pa. "Do you corroborate as best you can the information the informant gives you? Absolutely. But still from time to time mistakes are


They gave the MN SWAT guys some medals.

A Minneapolis family is outraged that members of the SWAT team that mistakenly raided their house and fired upon them last December have been awarded medals for their bravery under fire.

According to Heffelfinger, the Laotian family has owned and lived in the house for four years and had no knowledge of the female police informant. "Ironically, the house is located across the street from a police precinct," Heffelfinger said, "so, if [the SWAT team] had simply asked the precinct, they would have learned the family was not gang bangers."

"They were acting in good faith on a warrant that was properly drawn up, based off of what appeared to be good information," Garcia said. "Their bravery under fire should not be negated [because of the misinformation]."

But the Khangs, through their lawyer, beg to differ.

"They were given medals for taking fire in my client's house ... where, by the grace of God, no one was killed that night," Heffelfinger said.
Police claimed to have protected the six children -- ranging in ages from 3 to 15 -- that night, but Heffelfinger says it's "hogwash."

Two of the children jumped up from a mattress on the floor to hide in a corner seconds before the same mattress was littered with bullets fired from the police, he said.


Some video. Upper right hand corner.
25234  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: August 08, 2008, 02:08:31 PM
Woof to the Dog Tribe:


If you are not listed or are listed incorrectly, please let me know.

Crafty Dog
Guiding Force
25235  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: August 08, 2008, 02:06:47 PM
Woof Baltic Dog:

I think that is a good idea , , , for next time smiley  And yes, SERIOUS props to C-Space Dog!

Woof All:

Meynard Ancheta's form arrived this morning.

HC through HC
25236  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: August 08, 2008, 02:03:18 PM
The Race Card Is a Losing Hand

Memphis voters overwhelmingly rejected the tactics of black attorney Nikki Tinker in yesterday's Democratic primary for Congress in Tennessee. Her campaign had run an ad featuring Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen, who is white and Jewish, next to a picture of a hooded Klansman while an announcer criticized him for voting against removing a statue of a Confederate general from a local park. A later ad attacked Mr. Cohen for "praying in our churches" while opposing mandatory school prayer.

The raw appeals backfired as Mr. Cohen won a stunning 79% of the vote, to Ms. Tinker's 19%. Indeed, Ms. Tinker pulled off the feat of receiving fewer votes than she got in 2006, when she was part of a nine-candidate slate fighting for the then-vacant Congressional seat. Mr. Cohen narrowly won that primary in the majority-black district as the only white candidate, winning 31% of the vote to Ms. Tinker's 25%.

"It says that we have come a long, long way and that the people who were counting on racial voting to prevail are thinking of a Memphis that doesn't exist anymore," Mr. Cohen told last night. "The people of Memphis are more sophisticated voters that deal with issues and someone's record and not simply race."

-- John Fund
Obama's Got a Tiger in His Tank

Democrats think they can gain some extra political mileage -- tires properly inflated, of course -- by linking John McCain to the oil-and-gas industry. This week, the Democratic National Committee debuted an advertising campaign that floats Exxon as the GOP running mate. Har, har.

Barack Obama, meanwhile, is up with television spots that accuse Mr. McCain of being "in the pocket of Big Oil" before touting a plan for a windfall profits tax.

But wait. According to FEC data examined by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics in a new report released yesterday, Exxon executives and employees have broken in favor of Mr. Obama over Mr. McCain this election cycle -- by $41,100 to $35,166. Chevron's and BP's contribution margins also favor the Democrat -- by about $6,600 and $4,500, respectively. Guess those Democratic commercials now could use a footnote or two.

Of course, Mr. McCain has received in total more than three times as much money from the oil sector as Mr. Obama this election cycle. (The larger Republican Party also tops out easily.) That's hardly surprising, given that Mr. McCain is somewhat less likely to yoke the industry with punitive new taxes and regulation. Besides, a lot of this money comes from smaller, more entrepreneurial companies that are even less likely than Exxon to influence the price of gas and aren't usually whipping boys of Democratic rhetoric.

The real question is how the McCain camp handles the CRP revelations, if it does. Mr. McCain's immediate impulse will be to demagogue the "gotcha" angle. But he might take his cue from Republican candidates across the country, most notably Colorado's Bob Schaffer. A growing GOP band has been able to profitably turn supposedly being "in the pocket of Big Oil" into an electoral asset. After all, the oil industry provides a product that America can't do without.

-- Joseph Rago
Terms of Endearment

Chalk up another boilerplate liberal position for Barack Obama on a major congressional reform issue: term limits. Asked about whether he supports term limits last week, the Illinois Senator was unequivocal: "I'm generally not in favor of term limits. Nobody is term-limiting the lobbyists or the slick operators walking around the halls of Congress. I believe in one form of term limits. They're called elections."

Let's translate that answer: You can almost hear the K Street "lobbyists" and "slick operators," who despise term limits, breathing a sigh of relief.

U.S. Term Limits president Philip Blumel mocks Mr. Obama's attitude as "utter nonsense." He notes that lobbyists derive their power and influence from careerist politicians, giving rise to the so-called "iron triangle" of power in Washington: career politicians, federal agency bureaucrats and lobbyists. The idea of term limits is to break up that symbiotic and corruptive pact.

The argument that elections are a form of term limits is the standard reply from the business-as-usual crowd in Washington. "As an incumbent," says Mr. Blumel, "Mr. Obama knows full well that members of Congress have now skewed the laws to give themselves a virtual guarantee of a lifetime job. And as the self-appointed apostle of change, he ought to be taking the lead to change all that inequity."

The statistics back up Mr. Blumel's point. Even in 2006 midterm elections, when Republicans lost control of Congress and voters were angry with incumbents, 94% of incumbents won reelection. Normally, reelection rates in the House are closer to 96% and here's one reason: Incumbents on average raise $2 million per election -- or three times more than challengers.

So, the corrupting power structure in Washington and lifetime politicians can relax. When it comes to cleaning up the swamp of special interests inside the Washington beltway, Mr. Obama may be touting a slogan of "change you can believe in" but he sounds more and more like a defender of the status quo.

-- Stephen Moore
Quote of the Day

"Obama allowed that it was not hard to understand a recent Pew survey's findings that some voters feel they are hearing too much about him, coming off the 'longest primary in history.' He said his upcoming weeklong trip with his family to visit his grandmother in Hawaii should result in less coverage, with the media's help. 'I think that the majority of people have been fed a constant stream of political chatter,' he said. 'And I'm sure that having a couple weeks off and enjoying the Olympics is probably what the doctor ordered for everybody'" -- National Journal's Athena Jones, covering the Barack Obama campaign.

The Prodigal Hugo

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has tried make himself a global powerbroker and the leader of a socialist resurgence, but his methods have been less than statesman-like. Calling the president of the United States an unflattering part of the human anatomy is one example. Hanging with Colombian terrorists is another.

Yet, according to the State Department's Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Tom Shannon, blowback may be starting to force the Venezuelan leader to rethink his antisocial ways. "Countries around the region have seen the political space open to Venezuela shrinking," the Bush Administration's top diplomat for Latin America told a House subcommittee last month. "The re-emergence of countries that have traditionally been regional leaders has constricted Venezuela's diplomatic movements."

This is a polite way of saying Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Mexico, thanks to their economic achievements and the evolution of their institutions, have been elevated to the realm of serious countries -- while Venezuela has sunk to banana-republic status.

Venezuela has been further damaged, Mr. Shannon added, by Mr. Chávez's failed campaign for a U.N. Security Council seat and his country's growing "internal problems" -- of which the most visible are skyrocketing crime, inflation, food shortages and unemployment.

Where Mr. Shannon ventured into questionable territory, however, was a suggestion that the loose cannon in Caracas may be seeing the error of his ways. "For the first time in many years," he said, Venezuela has "expressed a willingness to explore improved relations with the U.S. President Chávez recently told our Ambassador that he wanted to improve our counter-drug cooperation. . . . "

How wonderful. Venezuela under Mr. Chávez has become a key transshipment agent for cocaine destined for the U.S., Europe and -- lately -- West Africa, where (as even Mr. Shannon noted) "the drug trade is exploding and causing instability to the region."

Mr. Chávez may well be softening his tone since he can only conduct so many fights at one time. At home, he's trying to brace up his troubled rule with new decrees seizing control of the economy and setting up a personal militia. But to mistake his tactical maneuvers as a sign of new maturity would be wishful thinking. Let's hope the Bush Administration -- and whoever comes next -- is not so unwise.

-- Mary Anastasia O'Grady
25237  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: August 08, 2008, 10:56:53 AM
BTW, for the record Bryan Stoops is "Guide Dog", not "C-Guide Dog"  smiley
25238  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: McCain on: August 08, 2008, 10:51:05 AM
If he wins, in several ways McCain will be very bad.  Its just that BO will be bad n most ways, including the struggle with Islamic Fascism.
25239  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: August 08, 2008, 10:48:31 AM
Good piece GM.

I do find myself doubting some of what I understand to be your unerlying hypothesis.  My current sense of things is that the Chinese govt will be the totalitarian assh*le that it is in dealing with its  Islamo Fascists, and that this will affect nothing in their dealings with us.
25240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: August 08, 2008, 10:43:52 AM
Equal is such a slippery word.  4+1=2+3 but they are not the same thing.
25241  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: August 08, 2008, 12:48:30 AM

I have high regard for Stratfor, but this time around I suspect they may be a bit too in love with their own IQ.

25242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: August 07, 2008, 07:54:17 PM

Your criteria simply do not apply to a foreign battlefield.

BTW, this driver had a few missiles in the trunk of his car.

25243  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Volunteers needed on: August 07, 2008, 07:51:11 PM
Woof All:

We are in need of a couple of volunteers to help out setting things up and taking them down at the end of the day.  Please call Pappy Dog 818-618-0525.

I've yet to confirm the details with Cindy, but a goodly discount on DBMA DVDs is one option as an expression of our appreciation.

"HC through HC"
Crafty Dog
25244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Petraeus in Lebanon on: August 07, 2008, 04:57:09 PM
U.S. Gen. David Petraeus, the top coalition military commander in Iraq and future head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), made a surprise visit to Beirut on Wednesday to discuss military cooperation with the Lebanese. The U.S. general reportedly met with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman (also a former army commander) and acting Lebanese army commander Maj. Gen. Shawki al-Masri.

Petraeus essentially has been Washington’s rainmaker for the Middle East. He is credited with bringing some semblance of stability to Iraq and has been chosen to try to do the same for Afghanistan. Though his hands are already quite full, the general — who takes over as CENTCOM chief in September — apparently felt the need to make time for some meetings in the Levant, which leaves us wondering what this trip is really about.

Contrary to expectations, the visit likely has little to do with military assistance to the Lebanese army. No amount of U.S. aid is going to be enough to build the Lebanese military into a force unified and formidable enough to competently confront an organization like Hezbollah. And a soon-to-be CENTCOM chief like Petraeus certainly does not have to be the one to make the time for a trip to Beirut to discuss giving a new batch of vehicles to Lebanese security forces. We suspect this meeting addressed more important matters.

The visit comes at a critical time; the regional dynamics are shifting in the Levant. Israel and Syria are negotiating in fancy hotel rooms in Turkey over a peace deal that would enhance Israel’s national security and reassert Syrian hegemony in Lebanon. These talks are progressing and are making Hezbollah more and more paranoid by the day, given that any final accommodation between the Israelis and the Syrians would include cutting Hezbollah down to size.

Though the Syrians already appear to have taken some (quiet) steps to curtail Hezbollah’s arms supplies, the Israelis are signaling that the ultimate litmus test for this peace deal will involve bigger and bolder action by the Syrians against the Shiite militant group. Israel is not about to allow Syria to play the middle ground in dealing with Hezbollah. With the Lebanese incapable of containing Hezbollah themselves, the Syrians are expected to play a major role in diluting Hezbollah’s military strength.

Exactly how Israel intends to deal with Hezbollah is still unclear, especially as the Israeli government is in a major political flux over its prime minister’s impending resignation. But Israeli preparations for a military confrontation with Hezbollah are now in full swing, and we can’t help but wonder whether these preparations are simply precautionary measures in case of a Hezbollah attack; or perhaps they are part of an Israeli strategy to goad Hezbollah into a war that would prove Syria’s commitment to the peace talks.

The same day Petraeus was in Lebanon, Stratfor picked up information from a source in the region claiming that Syria had dismantled an anti-aircraft system in the Anti-Lebanon mountain range to the east of the Bekaa Valley — a major Hezbollah stronghold and likely the main site of fighting between Hezbollah and Israel should full-scale hostilities resume. According to the source, Israel assured the Syrians (via Turkey) that it would not attack Syrian military positions in the event of such an outbreak, leaving Hezbollah particularly vulnerable and dependent on its own meager arsenal of man-portable surface-to-air missiles.

Stratfor has not been able to confirm this information, but if true, it signals a significant shift toward peace by the Syrians. Whether or not Israel intends to attack Hezbollah, whether or not Syria intends to attack Hezbollah, and whether or not the two decide to work together militarily or politically against Hezbollah, the bottom line is that that time is coming. Any of the above options are feasible, and there are many more ways to skin this particular cat. But the commonality among all of them is that Israel and Syria are sliding from a cold war into a cold peace, and that will redefine not just their bilateral relations, but the balance of power throughout the region. A Syria that can work with Israel is one in which Iran holds little influence. A Lebanon under the Syrian thumb is one in which groups like Hezbollah face the question of accommodation or oblivion. A more secure Israel is one that does not need to be overly concerned about anything the Palestinians demand. All this adds up to a very different region, and one which the United States — via Petraeus — fully intends to be involved in shaping.

Tell Stratfor What You Think
25245  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: August 07, 2008, 04:51:36 PM
California Attorney General Jerry Brown is stepping outside his law enforcement role and playing politics with a November ballot measure that would ban same-sex marriage in the state.

Backers of the measure collected some one million signatures this spring under a title approved by Mr. Brown's office that made it clear the measure would "provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid." Since the signatures were collected, the state Supreme Court has ruled same-sex marriage constitutional but also allowed the ballot measure to go before voters.

Mr. Brown, a candidate for governor in 2010, has apparently decided to make a play for liberal Democratic primary voters by changing his own office's description of the measure. It now reads that the ballot initiative seeks "to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry," a much more negative way of describing the measure. His office says the meaning is the same.

But both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage "know that to some voters -- perhaps a decisive bloc in a close election -- the new ballot title language could make the measure sound punitive by eliminating a 'right,'" notes Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters.

Lawyers question the validity of Mr. Brown's move. If the meaning is the same, why is the change needed? If the meaning is different, the change contradicts the petition that placed the proposition on the ballot. Either way, the change is groundless.

Mr. Brown has pulled this trick before. Back in February he obscured the title language of a ballot measure that would have watered down the state's term limit law. Luckily, voters saw through the subterfuge and voted down the proposal, which had been sponsored by key state legislators who were about to be turned out of office.

The courts will have to decide on the validity of Mr. Brown's latest ploy, but political analysts say it's yet more evidence of the 70-year-old Mr. Brown's ability to further his ambitions in creative ways. "He may not have been governor for over a quarter century, but he is doing everything he can to win the office back," says Jon Fleischman, editor of the political news service

-- John Fund
Vetting Tim Kaine

 A week before his election as Virginia governor in 2005, Democrat Tim Kaine won the endorsement of the irascible Doug Wilder, a former governor. Three days later Mr. Kaine's campaign paid Paul Goldman, a top aide to Mr. Wilder, $15,000 in consulting fees, setting off a storm of criticism.

No evidence has surfaced to show the two events are connected, but it points to one set of concerns as the Obama campaign vets Mr. Kaine for a possible nomination to the vice presidency -- his reputation as dutiful attendant to the Virginia machine and its key movers and shakers.

Mr. Kaine is a popular and moderately successful governor of what until recently was considered a reliably conservative state. He has kept the state's GOP on the defensive, brought his party to within striking distance of retaking the state legislature and has run a competent administration. He doesn't have a major overhaul of the state's transportation system to his credit or any other major reform to point to, but instead has quietly built his political persona as someone who can work the levers of government, play hardball when necessary and operate comfortably in the shadow of larger political personalities.

He was happy to cede the spotlight to his predecessor, Democrat Mark Warner, who became a media darling by passing a massive tax increase through a Republican legislature in 2004 when Democrats were floundering nationally. Rather than resent the focus on Mr. Warner, Mr. Kaine embraced it. He campaigned with Mr. Warner and, as the sitting lieutenant governor, promised to carry on his tax and education policies. Once elected, he retained Mr. Warner's chief of staff and demonstrated his willingness to cross swords with the GOP by nominating Daniel LeBlanc, head of the state's AFL-CIO, to be a member of his cabinet as Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Republicans rejected the nomination, drawing a rebuke from Mr. Kaine who promised a budget fight in response. He made good on the threat by forcing the legislature into a special session to debate details of various transportation proposals (finally winning passage of a transportation bill last year). On the stump, Mr. Kaine turned the rejection of Mr. LeBlanc to his advantage, using it to rally union support and raise money for other Democrats, including Jim Webb in his successful bid to unseat Republican Sen. George Allen two years ago.

Bottom line: If Mr. Obama is looking for someone who is non-threatening to the average voter, but who will be a loyal liberal soldier, Mr. Kaine fits the bill. The base will be happy with him; he brings the possibility of carrying Virginia, potentially a crucial battleground state. On the margins he will appeal to swing voters. The one thing he won't deliver is a reputation for major policy accomplishments or conspicuous substantive experience that would offset Mr. Obama's own weakness in these areas.

-- Brendan Miniter
The Show Me (A Good Race) State

 Looking for exciting races to watch outside of the presidential election? You can almost skip right over this year's contests for governor, which feature a severe dearth of competition. One reason is that only 11 of the 50 states hold elections for their top spot in presidential years; another reason is that of this year's 11 contests, only three feature open seats and just two of those will be competitive in November.

However, one race to keep an eye on is Missouri's, where things got a lot more interesting in January when Republican Gov. Matt Blunt announced unexpectedly that he would not seek re-election. Suddenly, Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon, who had been running against Blunt since 2005, was given a huge edge in the race. Mr. Nixon did not face a competitive primary challenge, unlike the GOP, which had a number of people interested in filling Mr. Blunt's shoes. The winner was Rep. Kenny Hulshof, who's held the 9th Congressional District seat since 1996. He will now face Mr. Nixon after squeaking past state Treasurer Sarah Steelman in Tuesday's GOP primary by 49% to 45%.

Interestingly, even the eventual loser of this race could be someone to watch. The last two candidates defeated in Missouri governor races have gone on to win a U.S. Senate seat. Republican Jim Talent lost to Bob Holden in 2000 and two years later defeated Jean Carnahan in the special election to fill the Senate seat won by her late husband. In 2004, Democrat Claire McCaskill lost to Mr. Blunt and two years later knocked Mr. Talent out of his Senate seat. Think Republican Sen. Kit Bond, who's up for re-election in 2010, is watching this one with interest?

-- Kyle Trygstad,
Quote of the Day

"[Hillary] Clinton has been giving tacit encouragement to suggestions that her name be placed in nomination at the [Democratic] convention, a symbolic move that would be a reminder of the bruising primary battle. 'No decisions have been made,' Clinton said when asked in California -- to whoops and applause -- about that possibility. Still, it was hard to miss what Clinton would like to see in the pointed way she added, 'Delegates can decide to do this on their own. They don't need permission'" -- Time magazine, reporting on the lingering bitterness of the Clinton forces over their defeat by Barack Obama.

Talking Freedom to China

 HONG KONG -- President Bush's remarks in Bangkok today show that he, for one, is going to China with his eyes open. At his stop in Thailand, he delivered a speech that was pitch-perfect on the legitimate interest the outside world takes in China's human rights.

"America stands in firm opposition to China's detention of political dissidents and human rights advocates and religious activists," he said. "We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly, and labor rights -- not to antagonize China's leaders, but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential."

China invariably takes umbrage at such meddling in its "internal affairs," but is certainly glad to have Mr. Bush's attendance at the Olympics. The Communist Party regime had hoped -- and activists feared -- that the world would see only China's economic growth and ignore its political and religious oppression during the Games. At this point, given concerns about everything from pollution and visas for outspoken athletes to power outages and traffic jams, Beijing perhaps will be satisfied if the show comes off without major embarrassments.

Mr. Bush's critics, for their part, still insist he never should have made the trip. His approach, however, has been consistent with the Freedom Agenda that has been a cornerstone of his foreign policy -- that progress on democracy and human rights is as much in China's interests as our own. That's not a message that would come through by treating China as a pariah or an enemy.

-- Abheek Bhattacharya

25246  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: August 07, 2008, 10:04:29 AM
As I am occasionally reminded  cheesy

Here's our current list of people from whom we do not have registration forms:

Erik Bryant
Al Romo
Jeff L.  (Don't know last name but he was mentioned on the forum)
Michael Klinefelter
25247  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Chapter Two on: August 07, 2008, 10:03:32 AM
Continuing with this story

Pr. George's Police Arrest 2 In Marijuana-Shipping Plot
One Package Went to Mayor's Wife
By Rosalind S. Helderman and Aaron C. Davis
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, August 7, 2008; A01

Prince George's County police announced yesterday that they have arrested a deliveryman and another man who they say are involved in a scheme to smuggle marijuana by shipping packages addressed to unsuspecting recipients, including a delivery last week to the wife of the mayor of Berwyn Heights.

The county Sheriff's Office SWAT team and narcotics officers raided the home of Mayor Cheye Calvo and his wife, Trinity Tomsic, after intercepting a package addressed to her that was filled with 32 pounds of marijuana. During the raid, officers broke down Calvo's door and fatally shot the family's two black Labrador retrievers.

Police said the package was one of about a half-dozen retrieved by authorities in the past week along the route of a deliveryman in northern Prince George's. The packages contained a combined 417 pounds of marijuana valued at about $3.6 million.

Police Chief Melvin C. High would not rule out that Calvo and Tomsic had some involvement in the delivery. Asked whether police had cleared them, he said: "From all the indications at the moment, they had an unlikely involvement, but we don't want to draw that definite conclusion at the moment." He later said, "Most likely, they were innocent victims."
Neither he nor Sheriff Michael A. Jackson apologized for the raid, which they said was conducted responsibly, given what deputies and officers knew at the time.

Calvo declined to comment. Timothy Maloney, an attorney for Calvo and Tomsic, said the arrests confirm that Tomsic was a "random victim of identity theft at the hands of major drug traffickers."

"This crime was compounded by law enforcement when it illegally invaded the Calvo home, tied up the mayor and his mother-in-law, and killed the family dogs," he said in an e-mail. "The Calvo family is still waiting for an explanation from law enforcement as to how this could possibly have happened."

Police had been tracking the package since a drug-sniffing dog in Arizona drew attention to it. Calvo has said law enforcement officers burst into his home moments after he picked up the package from his porch and brought it in. It had been left on the porch on the instructions of his mother-in-law by police posing as deliverymen. Calvo has said sheriff's deputies entered without knocking and began shooting immediately.

High said one of the men arrested was an independent contractor who worked as a package deliveryman. The police chief did not release the name of either man.

High and Maj. Mark Magaw, commander of the county's narcotics enforcement division, said the two suspects worked in tandem. The officials said that the deliveryman would drop off the package and that the other man would come by shortly thereafter and retrieve it.
At other times, the officials said, the suspects exchanged packages face to face in parking lots. In two instances, Magaw said, the deliveryman mistakenly took drugs to the wrong address, then went to the houses and asked for the packages.

He said police investigating the case uncovered a separate and parallel scheme to use the package delivery system to send marijuana. They arrested two other men yesterday in connection with that conspiracy and seized about 100 pounds of marijuana.

High and Jackson spent much of a news conference yesterday defending the raid on Calvo's home. They said using a SWAT team was appropriate because guns and violence are often associated with drug rings.
"In some quarters, this has been viewed as a flawed police operation and an attack on the mayor, which it is not," High said. "This was about an address, this was about a name on a package . . . and, in fact, our people did not know that this was the home of the mayor and his family until after the fact."

High said Jackson's team was responsible for determining how "dynamic" an entry was required. Jackson said that the search warrant authorizing the raid was obtained by the police department and that his team was there only because the police's SWAT team was busy on another assignment.

Neither explained why police spokesmen initially said a "no knock" warrant had been authorized, giving law enforcement officers permission from a judge to raid the home without announcing their presence. Magaw said there was no such thing as a no-knock warrant and denied telling public information officers that one exists. Legal experts say a law adopted in 2005 created such a warrant.

Police are allowed to enter without announcing themselves even without the authorization, but only if specific circumstances at the scene lead them to reasonably suspect that evidence might be destroyed or officers' lives endangered.

Jackson said yesterday that his team was justified in entering the home as forcefully as it did because Calvo's mother-in-law screamed when she saw the officers approaching the house. The noise, he said, could have alerted any armed occupants of the home or allowed time for destruction of any evidence.

He also defended the shooting of the dogs. He said his deputies were "engaged" by the dogs, by one as they entered the house and by the other as they made their way through it. Neither dog bit a deputy, he said.

Calvo maintains that his dogs were peaceful.

Maloney said yesterday that it was "demonstrably false" to suggest the dogs were threatening law enforcement, and on the whole called the law enforcement's statement about the raid "defensive" and "outrageous."
Neither agency has asked for the family's version of the raid, he said.
"It is clear that neither agency can conduct an independent review into the law enforcement misconduct that occurred here, nor are they willing to review their policies involving no-knock entry and the killing of innocent family pets," Maloney said.

The family will hold a news conference today to address the issues. Calvo, 37, works part time as the mayor and serves as director of expansion for the SEED Foundation, a national nonprofit group that runs urban public boarding schools. Tomsic is a finance officer for the state.

Staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.
25248  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Moqtada packs it in on: August 07, 2008, 08:48:47 AM

second post of the AM

Moqtada Packs It In
August 6, 2008; Page A14
Good news out of Iraq is becoming almost a daily event: In just the past week, we learned that U.S. combat fatalities (five) dropped in July to a low for the war, that key leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq have fled to the Pakistani hinterland, that troop deployments will soon be cut to 12 months from 15, and that Washington and Baghdad are close to concluding a status-of-forces agreement.

Now this: Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr plans to announce Friday that he will disarm his Mahdi Army, which was raining mortars on Baghdad's Green Zone as recently as April. Coupled with the near-total defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq, this means the U.S. no longer faces any significant organized military foe in the country. It also marks a major setback for Iran, which had used the Mahdi Army as one of its primary vehicles for extending its influence in Iraq.

The story, broken yesterday by the Journal's Gina Chon, marks the latest of serial defeats for Mr. Sadr, beginning in February 2007 when he was forced underground (reportedly to Iran) in anticipation of the surge of U.S. troops. More recently, the Mahdi Army was defeated and evicted from Basra and other southern strongholds by an Iraqi-led military offensive. The Mahdi Army capitulated without a fight from its Baghdad enclave of Sadr City. Now the young cleric will focus his group's efforts on politics and social work, perhaps while he pursues theological studies in Iran. He wouldn't be the first grad student in history with a tendency toward rabble-rousing.

In many respects, the story of the Mahdi Army's decline follows the same pattern as al Qaeda's: Not only was it routed militarily, it also made itself noxious to the very Shiite population it purported to represent and defend. It enforced its heavy-handed religious edicts, coupled with mob-like extortion tactics, wherever it assumed effective control. The overwhelming Shiite rejection of this brand of politics is another piece of good news from Iraq, as it means that Iraqis will not tolerate Iranian-style theocratic rule.

It is also an indication that Iraqi politics is developing in a healthy way. There was considerable anxiety that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, as the leader of the Shiite-dominated Islamic Dawa Party, would practice a sectarian form of politics and toe a pro-Iranian line, particularly since it had long been headquartered in Tehran. Mr. Maliki's coalition initially included Mr. Sadr's loyalists, including several cabinet members.

Mr. Maliki had little choice but to make political alliances with Shiite sectarians and seek good relations with Iran, but he has also proven to be more than a sectarian politician and no Iranian pawn. Instead, he has turned out to be a muscular Iraqi nationalist, a stance that enjoys far greater popular support than many Western "experts" on Iraq believed possible. (Remember Senator Joe Biden and others who advised only last year that Iraq had to be divided into three parts?) It's thus no surprise that the more Mr. Sadr aligned himself with Tehran, the faster his popularity declined.

As with so much in Iraq, Mr. Sadr's sudden turn to moderation remains reversible. Breakaway factions of the Mahdi Army, aided by Iran, will surely launch fresh attacks on U.S. targets -- especially as U.S. and Iraqi elections near. That's all the more reason to regret the U.S. failure to arrest Mr. Sadr in 2004 for the murder the previous year of Imam Abdul Majid al-Khoei, widely believed to have been undertaken on Mr. Sadr's orders.

That mistake, like others the U.S. has committed in Iraq, can't be undone. But our recent and considerable successes can be, which is all the more reason to see our involvement in Iraq through to an irreversible victory. With Mr. Sadr's "retirement," we've taken another long stride in that direction.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary
25249  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: You still can't write about Muhammad on: August 07, 2008, 08:45:52 AM
You Still Can't Write
About Muhammad
August 6, 2008; Page A15

Starting in 2002, Spokane, Wash., journalist Sherry Jones toiled weekends on a racy historical novel about Aisha, the young wife of the prophet Muhammad. Ms. Jones learned Arabic, studied scholarly works about Aisha's life, and came to admire her protagonist as a woman of courage. When Random House bought her novel last year in a $100,000, two-book deal, she was ecstatic. This past spring, she began plans for an eight-city book tour after the Aug. 12 publication date of "The Jewel of Medina" -- a tale of lust, love and intrigue in the prophet's harem.

It's not going to happen: In May, Random House abruptly called off publication of the book. The series of events that torpedoed this novel are a window into how quickly fear stunts intelligent discourse about the Muslim world.

Random House feared the book would become a new "Satanic Verses," the Salman Rushdie novel of 1988 that led to death threats, riots and the murder of the book's Japanese translator, among other horrors. In an interview about Ms. Jones's novel, Thomas Perry, deputy publisher at Random House Publishing Group, said that it "disturbs us that we feel we cannot publish it right now." He said that after sending out advance copies of the novel, the company received "from credible and unrelated sources, cautionary advice not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment."

After consulting security experts and Islam scholars, Mr. Perry said the company decided "to postpone publication for the safety of the author, employees of Random House, booksellers and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of the novel."

This saga upsets me as a Muslim -- and as a writer who believes that fiction can bring Islamic history to life in a uniquely captivating and humanizing way. "I'm devastated," Ms. Jones told me after the book got spiked, adding, "I wanted to honor Aisha and all the wives of Muhammad by giving voice to them, remarkable women whose crucial roles in the shaping of Islam have so often been ignored -- silenced -- by historians." Last month, Ms. Jones signed a termination agreement with Random House, so her literary agent could shop the book to other publishers.

This time, the instigator of the trouble wasn't a radical Muslim cleric, but an American academic. In April, looking for endorsements, Random House sent galleys to writers and scholars, including Denise Spellberg, an associate professor of Islamic history at the University of Texas in Austin. Ms. Jones put her on the list because she read Ms. Spellberg's book, "Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past: The Legacy of 'A'isha Bint Abi Bakr."

But Ms. Spellberg wasn't a fan of Ms. Jones's book. On April 30, Shahed Amanullah, a guest lecturer in Ms. Spellberg's classes and the editor of a popular Muslim Web site, got a frantic call from her. "She was upset," Mr. Amanullah recalls. He says Ms. Spellberg told him the novel "made fun of Muslims and their history," and asked him to warn Muslims.

In an interview, Ms. Spellberg told me the novel is a "very ugly, stupid piece of work." The novel, for example, includes a scene on the night when Muhammad consummated his marriage with Aisha: "the pain of consummation soon melted away. Muhammad was so gentle. I hardly felt the scorpion's sting. To be in his arms, skin to skin, was the bliss I had longed for all my life." Says Ms. Spellberg: "I walked through a metal detector to see 'Last Temptation of Christ,'" the controversial 1980s film adaptation of a novel that depicted a relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. "I don't have a problem with historical fiction. I do have a problem with the deliberate misinterpretation of history. You can't play with a sacred history and turn it into soft core pornography."

After he got the call from Ms. Spellberg, Mr. Amanullah dashed off an email to a listserv of Middle East and Islamic studies graduate students, acknowledging he didn't "know anything about it [the book]," but telling them, "Just got a frantic call from a professor who got an advance copy of the forthcoming novel, 'Jewel of Medina' -- she said she found it incredibly offensive." He added a write-up about the book from the Publishers Marketplace, an industry publication.

The next day, a blogger known as Shahid Pradhan posted Mr. Amanullah's email on a Web site for Shiite Muslims -- "Hussaini Youth" -- under a headline, "upcoming book, 'Jewel of Medina': A new attempt to slander the Prophet of Islam." Two hours and 28 minutes after that, another person by the name of Ali Hemani proposed a seven-point strategy to ensure "the writer withdraws this book from the stores and apologise all the muslims across the world."

Meanwhile back in New York City, Jane Garrett, an editor at Random House's Knopf imprint, dispatched an email on May 1 to Knopf executives, telling them she got a phone call the evening before from Ms. Spellberg (who happens to be under contract with Knopf to write "Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an.")

"She thinks there is a very real possibility of major danger for the building and staff and widespread violence," Ms. Garrett wrote. "Denise says it is 'a declaration of war . . . explosive stuff . . . a national security issue.' Thinks it will be far more controversial than the satanic verses and the Danish cartoons. Does not know if the author and Ballantine folks are clueless or calculating, but thinks the book should be withdrawn ASAP." ("The Jewel of Medina" was to be published by Random House's Ballantine Books.) That day, the email spread like wildfire through Random House, which also received a letter from Ms. Spellberg and her attorney, saying she would sue the publisher if her name was associated with the novel. On May 2, a Ballantine editor told Ms. Jones's agent the company decided to possibly postpone publication of the book.

On a May 21 conference call, Random House executive Elizabeth McGuire told the author and her agent that the publishing house had decided to indefinitely postpone publication of the novel for "fear of a possible terrorist threat from extremist Muslims" and concern for "the safety and security of the Random House building and employees."

All this saddens me. Literature moves civilizations forward, and Islam is no exception. There is in fact a tradition of historical fiction in Islam, including such works as "The Adventures of Amir Hamza," an epic on the life of Muhammad's uncle. Last year a 948-page English translation was published, ironically, by Random House. And, for all those who believe the life of the prophet Muhammad can't include stories of lust, anger and doubt, we need only read the Quran (18:110) where, it's said, God instructed Muhammad to tell others: "I am only a mortal like you."

Ms. Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, is the author of "Standing Alone: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam" (HarperOne, 2006).
25250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: McCain on: August 07, 2008, 08:30:32 AM
Second post of the AM:


The McCain Veepstakes
August 7, 2008; Page A12
The Beijing Olympics are about to begin, but in Washington the real games of August involve vetting the potential Presidential running mates. As a young, rookie candidate running on "change," Barack Obama can help himself by choosing a safe, seasoned politician like Evan Bayh or Joe Biden. As the trailing candidate from an unpopular party, John McCain has the harder decision because there really is no obvious candidate.

Our view is that vice presidential nominees rarely matter much to election prospects because voters focus on the top of the ticket. A bad selection can hurt, of course, and veep nominees can be very important both to governing and especially to the future of the party. We'd advise Mr. McCain to make his choice based mainly on the latter two criteria, especially because at his age he could be a one-termer.

This means choosing someone who voters think has the stature to be President from the outset, and also doesn't give up Mr. McCain's clear experience edge over Mr. Obama. That probably rules out a pair of young, attractive Governors, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Alaska's Sarah Palin, despite their potential and appeal as GOP reformers.

Experience also argues against tapping nonpoliticians like eBay's Meg Whitman or FedEx's Fred Smith. Both have undeniable appeal as successful entrepreneurs who could help Mr. McCain's economic bona fides. But the magnitude of press scrutiny that any nominee must endure today is a lot to ask of someone who's never sought elective office. Even Presidential nominees get to spend months auditioning off-Broadway in the primaries, while Dan Quayle knows all about the way the press corps treats unknown GOP veeps.

A successful choice would also be someone who doesn't offend the currently listless conservative base. Independent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut would be a splendid VP in our book, and is solid on foreign policy and taxes, but he'd probably alienate too many social conservatives. The best choice on the merits, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, has the wrong last name. Florida Governor Charlie Crist could help the nominee in a big state with 27 electoral votes. But like Iowa caucus winner Mike Huckabee, Mr. Crist has a record of too-frequent political opportunism that would disappoint much of the party.

A name often mentioned is Mitt Romney, who looks and speaks the part and as an entrepreneur himself could help on the economy. The former Massachusetts Governor failed to catch fire in the primaries, though, and, however unfairly, his Mormonism seems to be an issue with many evangelicals. Our own concern is that he continues to defend his state health-care reform even as it looks increasingly like a fiscal disaster.

By now you might be wondering if there's anyone we do like. Well, Fred Thompson would bring governing judgment and policy heft, and because he isn't much younger than Mr. McCain might make sense as a duo promising to serve one term, clean up the mess, and go home. On the other hand, he might be better suited for Attorney General if Mr. McCain prevails.

Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota is a conservative on most issues who has twice won the governorship of a liberal swing state. He's as confused as Mr. McCain on global warming, but he seems to have more principles than Mr. Crist. Rob Portman, former White House budget chief and once a rising star in Congress, brings candle power and might help in his home state of Ohio. Some McCain advisers will say his Bush experience rules him out, but he has depth as a policy wonk.

South Carolina's Mark Sanford, now in his second term as Governor, is unknown to most voters but is well liked among GOP activists for his reform credentials. Elected to Congress in 1994, he kept his promise to serve only three terms. As Governor, he's pushed for lower taxes, less spending and more school choice for disadvantaged kids. Mr. Sanford did stumble recently during a CNN interview, going blank when asked to name policy differences between Mr. McCain and President Bush. Still, it was a minor misstep, and Mr. McCain could do worse.

A darkhorse pick would be John Kasich, another Buckeye-state politician and former Congressman who left Washington before Tom DeLay and other Republican leaders forgot why the voters elected them. Mr. Kasich is still well known in Ohio and is widely thought to be aiming at a run for Governor in 2010. He's an energetic campaigner, the son of a mailman who can talk about taxes and spending in ways that voters can understand.

If there were a miracle choice for Mr. McCain, that person would be obvious by now. There isn't, and an attempt to find one can easily backfire (Spiro Agnew, Geraldine Ferraro). Mr. McCain's age and moderate political profile suggest he needs a younger but still experienced conservative who can help him unite the party and govern if he happens to win.

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