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25301  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA DVD: "DLO 2: Bringing a Gun to a Knife Attack" on: December 01, 2007, 11:30:01 PM
Woof All:

The following quick initial review is by LEO and frequently published writer Kevin Davis:

"Die Less Often 2: Brining a Gun to a Knife Attack

"I just finished reviewing the second installment of Marc Denny and Gabe
Suarez's study of the "interface of empty hands and gun in defending
against the knife and I must say that I was very pleased with the DVD.

"When Calibre Press first examined knife defense for law enforcement more than
twenty years ago with "Surviving Edged Weapons" they sought out Dan Inosanto
to illustrate the deadly effectiveness of edged weapons.  Needless to say it
opened many officers eyes as to the devastating potential of the blade.
That said there was a large group of officers that believed that the answer
was to draw and shoot the knife wielding suspect, (this is still true

"The first Die Less Often DVD clearly showed that unless you have
trained in simple gross motor skills and understand the dynamics of the
knife attack, the most you might achieve is a "mutual slay."  Die Less Often
2 picks up where the first DVD let off and shows how to first stop the
attack using the Kali Fence and Dog Catcher and then create the opening for
the pistol using sound movement.  Incorporating empty hand and the gun is a
"must" for today's LEO or armed citizen as statistics clearly show that most
armed encounters are close range affairs and frequently look more like a
"fight with guns" than the traditional "gunfight" a la "Shootout at the OK

"Kudos to Marc and Gabe for bringing their respective talents together in the
pursuit of a safer way to defend against the blade.  I look forward to more
collaborative effort from these two modern day martial arts masters."
25302  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizen-Police interactions on: December 01, 2007, 11:03:27 AM
Officer asks for help:

A) Hue & Cry

B)  The 2007 Florida Statutes

Title XLVI
CRIMESChapter 843
OBSTRUCTING JUSTICEView Entire Chapter843.06 Neglect or refusal to aid peace officers.--Whoever, being required in the name of the state by any officer of the Florida Highway Patrol, police officer, beverage enforcement agent, or watchman, neglects or refuses to assist him or her in the execution of his or her office in a criminal case, or in the preservation of the peace, or the apprehending or securing of any person for a breach of the peace, or in case of the rescue or escape of a person arrested upon civil process, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. History.--s. 16, ch. 1637, 1868; RS 2585; GS 3505; RGS 5391; CGL 7530; s. 2, ch. 28118, 1953; s. 1, ch. 63-433; s. 1039, ch. 71-136; s. 32, ch. 73-334; s. 1338, ch. 97-102.
25303  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russian wrench on: November 30, 2007, 02:36:53 PM
Russia: A Wrench in U.S. Plans for the Middle East

Not to be outshined by the United States, the Russian government has been busy forging Middle East peace negotiations of its own, particularly between Syria and Israel over the Golan Heights. Though Iran is already nervous at the thought of Syria coming to terms with Israel, the mullahs in Tehran can be somewhat assured that the Russians have not really set their sights on a comprehensive peace agreement. Instead, Moscow is playing its own crafty game of diplomacy to sabotage Washington's efforts at Annapolis.


Russia has been spending a good deal of time in the Middle Eastern sandbox lately. From hosting Hamas leaders in Moscow to backing up Iran against the United States and playing the role of messenger between Israel and Syria, there is no conflict in the region that Moscow has not thrown itself into.

As part of this aggressive diplomatic campaign, former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, the premier Russian troubleshooter on all issues Middle Eastern (going back to the Soviet days), paid a private visit to Damascus in early November to deliver a message from President Vladimir Putin. It is believed that Primakov played a role in convincing Syrian President Bashar al Assad to send a representative to Annapolis and abandon plans for a Hamas-led "countersummit" in Damascus. The Primakov visit was followed by a Nov. 15 trip by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Sultanov and Russian Middle East envoy Sergei Yakovlev to Tel Aviv, where the two met with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Israeli National Security Council Secretary Ilan Mizrahi.

The next step in the game was revealed Nov. 29, when the Israeli daily Maariv reported that Sultanov is working on an Israeli-Syrian peace plan that would give Syria sovereignty over the Golan Heights, but provide a long-term lease for Israel to hold onto the strategic 7,296-foot Mount Hermon that it captured in the 1967 war. Information circulating in Moscow suggests that these moves are part of the Kremlin's efforts to convince the Syrians and Israelis to participate in a bilateral summit in Russia that would center on the issues of the Golan Heights and Syria's role in Lebanon.

For all this diplomatic maneuvering, the Russians are not exactly sincere in their efforts to bring about peace in the Middle East. Rather, the Russians intend to shift the track set by Washington at the Annapolis conference toward much thornier issues -- involving players the United States wants to avoid. By bringing up sticky issues such as the Golan Heights (which Washington had attempted to sidestep at the Annapolis conference) and organizing negotiations with Hamas (which Washington is trying to pretend does not exist as it moves negotiations forward between Fatah and Israel), Russia is strategically bending U.S. efforts at Annapolis out of shape -- all under the aegis of progress, of course. The Russian calculus is simple: shift the track toward "negotiations" that are certain to lead nowhere.

Despite Russia's true intentions, Iran is not comfortable in the slightest with the idea of Syria inching toward talks with Israel and the United States. These fears likely have been compounded by the sudden turnaround in Lebanon, where the pro-West opposition and the United States have pretty much agreed to granting Syria's wish in having Lebanon's army chief, Michel Suleiman, take the presidency. Unless Syria's negotiations with Washington are held in concert with Iranian negotiations with the United States over Iraq, Tehran does not want Damascus in the negotiating picture. However, given that any progress on the Golan Heights issue with Israel must include the question of Syria's support for Hamas and Hezbollah -- Israel's two primary national security concerns and the two bargaining chips that Syria is unprepared to sacrifice at this point -- the Iranians can have reasonable assurance that these talks will not lead anywhere. The Russians are not interested in alliance management in the Middle East. This is about throwing a wrench into U.S. plans to create a new order in the region.
25304  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sinaloa Federation next? on: November 30, 2007, 02:23:47 PM
Targeting Mexico's Drug Cartels: Is the Sinaloa Federation Next?
Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon stepped up pressure on organized crime and drug trafficking organizations nearly a year ago, the hardest-hit organization has been the Gulf cartel. The extradition of cartel leader Osiel Cardenas-Guillen to the United States, the capture of several Gulf lieutenants and the concentrated presence of security forces in the cartel's territory have combined to put much more pressure on Gulf members than on those belonging to its rival, the Sinaloa federation of cartels. But Mexico City could soon begin targeting high-ranking members of the Sinaloa federation.

U.S. counternarcotics sources say Sinaloa leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, Mexico's most-wanted drug lord, is now believed to be hiding out in Pachuca, a city in the central Mexican state of Hidalgo. Guzman has been on the run since he escaped in 2001 from the Puente Grande maximum security prison in Jalisco state. Identifying the location of one of the most elusive drug traffickers in Mexico is a vital step in expanding the scope of the current war against the cartels.

The city where Guzman is believed to be hiding is not the most likely of locations -- perhaps the reason he has successfully eluded law enforcement for so long. Hidalgo state is not near the Sinaloa cartel's home territory of northwestern Sinaloa state, where Guzman is likely to have more friends and associates willing to aid him. Large cities in Sinaloa territory, however, are places where Mexican authorities would focus their search for him. Far from being an isolated village in the middle of nowhere, Pachuca is a state capital, located about 100 miles from Mexico City. Most important, in a country where cartel territory is violently conquered and defended, Pachuca is an essentially neutral region, in which rival drug traffickers do not have a particular interest in extending their influence.

Despite the risks of arrest and attack by rivals, Guzman has not exactly been hiding under a rock. Although his personal security needs are high -- requiring a large contingent of heavily armed bodyguards -- that fact has not stopped him from taking occasional trips over the last few years. One particularly high-profile event was his wedding in Coahuila state in July, for which the local military commander reportedly ordered some of his soldiers to man roadblocks out of the area -- assumingly following a payoff. While romancing his 18-year-old bride, Guzman reportedly flew to her town in one of his six private aircraft after several hundred security guards had locked down the town.

Such high-profile and public movements simply mean that Guzman has been receiving assistance from a variety of official sources. In the world of Mexican organized crime, it is common for high-ranking cartel figures to have law enforcement officers and military personnel on their payrolls. They also typically have strong connections to government officials at all levels, who provide protection in exchange for financial contributions. Guzman has a long history of buying off officials who are in the position to help him. In the Puente Grande prison break, for instance, at least 30 guards were implicated in assisting in the escape.

Since Calderon's crackdown, Mexican authorities have been cooperating more and more with their more capable U.S. counterparts. They most likely focused on the Gulf cartel first because, unlike Sinaloa territory, the area in northeastern Mexico controlled by the Gulf cartel has more important industrial and commercial interests. This kind of coordination could be what is needed to take Guzman into custody.

It is unclear exactly what will happen to the Sinaloa federation once Guzman is out of the picture, though it unlikely will maintain its current form. The Sinaloa cartel leads a federation of smaller drug trafficking organizations, most significantly the Zambada Garcia organization and the Esparragoza organization, both of which are led by former high-ranking Juarez cartel members. With Guzman either dead or in custody, the leaders of these groups could reassess their relationships with the Sinaloa group, resulting in a loss of a significant portion of Sinaloa's territory and limiting its ability to import South American cocaine.

25305  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: November 30, 2007, 12:13:08 PM
Quote of the Day

"I think CNN does itself a great disservice when it doesn't apply the exact same kind of criteria to both debates. I covered both of them. In the Democratic debate, I don't think there were any questions that were clearly coming from, you know, a Republican point of view. They were generally sympathetic. They were about global warming and health care and education, all kind of Democratic issues. They weren't challenging them. There was one kind anti-tax question, I think, but they weren't challenging the basic principles of the Democratic Party. There were lots of questions last night [at the GOP debate] that were. I think the question about the Bible was mocking. I think one of the abortion questions was clearly not from someone who was pro-life" -- Mara Liasson of National Public Radio on the Republican and Democratic presidential debates sponsored by CNN and Google's YouTube affiliate.

CNN's Bumper Crop

Last week, CNN's Anderson Cooper quipped in an interview with that "campaign operatives are people too" and CNN wasn't worried if political partisans posed questions at the GOP debate he'd be moderating the following Wednesday. "We don't investigate the background of people asking questions [by submitting video clips]. It's not our job," he said.

Yet now CNN's logo has egg splattered all over it as the network scrambles to explain how a co-chair of Hillary Clinton's veterans' committee was allowed to ask a video question on gays in the military at Wednesday's debate. The questioner, retired Brig. Gen. Keith Kerr, was flown at network expense from California to the debate site in Florida so he could repeat his question to the candidates in person. CNN claims it verified retired Brig. Gen. Kerr's military status and checked his campaign contribution records, contradicting Mr. Cooper's blasé attitudes. But the network still somehow missed his obvious connection to the Hillary campaign which any Google search would have turned up.

CNN later airbrushed Mr. Kerr's question out of its rebroadcast of the debate, indicating that it apparently doesn't think "campaign operatives" are legitimate questioners at the network's debates.

Now it appears that an amazing number of partisan figures posed many of the 30 questions at the GOP debate while pretending to be CNN's advertised "undecided voters." Yasmin from Huntsville, Alabama turns out to be a former intern with the Council on American Islamic Relations, a group highly critical of Republicans. Blogger Michelle Malkin has identified other plants, including declared Obama supporter David Cercone, who asked a question about the pro-gay Log Cabin Republicans. A questioner who asked a hostile question about the pro-life views of GOP candidates turned out to be a diehard John Edwards supporter (and a slobbering online fan of Mr. Cooper). Yet another "plant" was LeeAnn Anderson, an aide to Leo Gerard, president of the American Steel Workers Union and a prominent Edwards backer.

It seems more "plants" are being uprooted with each passing day. Nearly one-third of the questioners seem to have some ties to Democratic causes or candidates. Another questioner worked with Democratic Senator Dick Durbin's staff. A former intern with Democratic Rep. Jane Harman asked a question about farm subsidies. A questioner who purported to be a Ron Paul supporter turns out to be a Bill Richardson volunteer. David McMillan, a TV writer from Los Angeles, turns out to have several paeans to John Edwards on his YouTube page and has attended Barack Obama fundraisers.

Given CNN's professed goal to have "ordinary Americans" ask questions at its GOP debate, how odd that so many of the video questioners selected by CNN turned out to be not just partisan Democrats, but actively hostile to the GOP's messages and candidates.

political journal WSJ
25306  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 30, 2007, 10:08:20 AM
American Brain Drain
November 30, 2007; Page A16
One myth dogging the immigration debate is that employers are fibbing (or grossly exaggerating) when they claim that hiring foreign professionals is unavoidable because U.S.-born Ph.D.s are hard to come by. But a new report on doctorates from U.S. universities shows they're telling the truth, and then some.

Foreign-born students holding temporary visas received 33% of all research doctorates awarded by U.S. universities in 2006, according to an annual survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. That number has climbed from 25% in 2001. But more to the point of business competitiveness, foreign students comprised 44% of science and engineering doctorates last year.

"China was the country of origin for the largest number of non-U.S. doctorates in 2006," says the report, followed by India, Korea, Taiwan and Canada. "The percentage of doctorates earned by U.S. citizens ranged from lows of 32% in engineering and 47% in physical sciences, to highs of 87% in education and 78% in humanities." Given this reality, is it any wonder that 40% of Ph.D.s working in U.S. science and engineering occupations are foreign-born?

Immigration opponents still claim that the likes of Intel and Oracle merely want to hire Chinese engineers on the cheap. In fact, U.S. law already prohibits companies from paying these foreign nationals less than natives. And all other things being equal, the American job applicant has an advantage because employers are required to pay an additional $4,000-$6,000 in taxes and fees on every H-1B visa holder they hire.

A mere 65,000 H-1B visas for foreign professionals are allocated each year. And this year, as in the previous four, the quota was exhausted almost as soon as the applications became available in April. This effectively means that more than half of all foreign nationals who earned advanced degrees in math and science in 2007 have been shut out of the U.S. job market.

Economic protectionists oppose lifting the visa cap to meet demand. But it makes little sense for our universities to be educating these talented foreign students, only to send them packing after graduation. Current policies have MIT and Stanford educating the next generation of innovators -- and then deporting them to create wealth elsewhere.

Closing the door to foreign professionals puts U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage and pushes jobs out of the country. Worse, it does so at a time when other nations are rolling out the welcome mat. Earlier this year Microsoft, which is the third-largest sponsor of H-1B visas, announced plans to open a new software development center near Vancouver. The decision to locate the facility in Canada was based in part on the fact that it doesn't have access to enough foreign workers state-side.

"We currently do 85% of our development work in the U.S., and we'd like to continue doing that," says Jack Krumholtz, the company's director of government affairs. "But if we can't hire the developers we need, . . . we're going to have to look to other options to get the work done." Meanwhile, the European Union recently introduced its own new temporary work visa that's designed to reduce red tape and waiting periods for foreign professionals.

If the U.S. spurns this human capital, it will find a home somewhere else. And that will be America's loss.
25307  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Fred's Folly on: November 30, 2007, 06:39:53 AM
Fred's Folly
Too bad Thompson won't sell his good ideas.

Friday, November 30, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

On Fox News this Sunday, Fred Thompson laid out the most creative tax proposal yet in the race for president. It should have been an important moment, the point at which GOP aspirants finally dug into a core issue and went a few rounds over marginal rates and corporate levies.

Instead, nothing. The Thompson plan inspired little fanfare, less press and didn't even merit time during this week's GOP debate. The black hole says everything about the mess that is the Thompson campaign, and just as much about today's intellectually bereft Republican primary campaign.

The standard rap on the former Tennessee senator is that he's lazy. This is meant to explain why--despite movie-star status, Southern conservative credentials, and Beltway experience--his campaign has been as fizzy as day-old cherry Coke. The reality is more complex--and more concerning for Mr. Thompson's presidential prospects.

The Watergate attorney has made himself into this election's Don Quixote, the impractical idealist tilting at "the system." Even as he announced his run on the Jay Leno show in September, Mr. Thompson quipped he "wasn't in the room when they made the rules" that resulted in today's sped up, big-money, 24-hour-news-byte primary. He has refused to play nice--declaring late and declining to join rivals in the media hoopla and nonstop campaign. It has proven a case study in the folly of trying to single-handedly buck modern politics.

It might have helped if Mr. Thompson, who stated his intention to trust in "the people" to give him a hearing, had offered those people something more than personality at the start of his tardy campaign. It has instead only been very recently that he has, admirably, tried to craft himself into the ideas candidate.
He's proposed revitalizing America's armed forces by increasing the core defense budget, building up a million-member ground force, and instituting sweeping missile defense. He went where no other GOP candidate has yet gone with a detailed plan to shore up Social Security, by changing the benefits formula and offering voluntary "add on" accounts for younger workers. He would re-energize school vouchers. His border security blueprint certainly matches Mitt Romney's or Rudy Giuliani's in its, ahem, creativity and thoroughness.

This week's tax proposal was decidedly fresh, going beyond the run-of-the-mill candidate promise to extend the Bush tax cuts, and calling for the end of the death tax and the AMT, a cut in the corporate tax rate and even a voluntary flat tax. According to a campaign source, in upcoming weeks Mr. Thompson will unveil plans to reduce federal spending by limiting nondefense growth to inflation, earmark reform, and a one-year freeze on the hiring of non-essential civilian workers and contractors.

There's plenty here to get conservative voters and bloggers and pundits engaged in some healthy, even lively, debate. That is, if they'd heard any of this. Most haven't, and for that Mr. Thompson has mostly himself to blame.

While it isn't clear who set the "rules" for this manic election, they're set. Voters may only pay attention at the end, but having an infrastructure to make sure those voters hear you in the final months is the work of years. By sitting back, Mr. Thompson allowed his rivals to scoop up the well-connected policy wonks, committed state activists and aggressive fund-raisers that oil a campaign. His own refusal to "do" the media and public-event circus has muzzled his message, as the failure of his tax-plan announcement shows.

Think back to 1999, when Gov. George W. Bush--who knew something about campaigns--unveiled his own tax outline. His people had a dozen brainy conservative economists at the ready to blitz the media. Outside business groups stood by with glowing press releases. Average families were found to serve as real-life examples of how the tax cut would help. The campaign staff fanned out and joined local activists to manage the grass roots. The candidate himself devoted endless time to flogging his idea in public appearances and to every press person and editorial board around.

None of this happened in the wake of Mr. Thompson's Fox announcement. The campaign simply didn't have the stuff to pull it off. Worse, its own leader refused to do what is expected. A look at Mr. Thompson's schedule revealed not a single public appearance for three days after the release, right up to Wednesday's highly uninformative CNN debate.

Speaking of dull debates, that's Mr. Thompson's other problem. To the extent he is now trying to float ideas (and he could use even more), the rest of the field wants nothing of it. The GOP went into this race thinking itself the likely loser, and that fear has defined the primary. The candidates aren't vying to lead a wayward party out of malaise, or energize voters with new ideas. They're instead trying to be the answer to a question: Who can beat her?
That's made the race about biography, in particular on issues like national security and immigration, where Republicans hope a Hillary Clinton will be weak. Mr. Giuliani's campaign is about his past as a New York tough guy who can face down terrorists. Mr. Romney's, his past as an MBA who can manage our border. Mr. McCain's, his past as a Vietnam vet who recognized the problems in Iraq. There's no future in this present, and Mr. Thompson's lackluster delivery of his own agenda has allowed the front-runners to continue avoiding the big debates.

Mr. Thompson's inertia has meant his campaign is no longer in control of its destiny. His best shot now is that Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Romney go nuclear, leaving him with a ticket out of Iowa and some hope. He still ranks second behind Mr. Giuliani in national polls. But putting himself in a position to build off any lucky outcomes will involve trying to play the game he so detests. If he believes his ideas are as important for the country as he says they are, he will.

Ms. Strassel is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, based in Washington. Her column appears Fridays.

25308  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / James Madison: Virtue on: November 30, 2007, 05:16:51 AM
"Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a
wretched situation. No theoretical checks-no form of government
can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will
secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is
a chimerical idea, if there be sufficient virtue and intelligence
in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these
men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence
in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them."

-- James Madison (speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention,
20 June 1788)

Reference: The True Republican, French, ed. (28-29)
25309  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / CT Scan risks on: November 30, 2007, 05:15:40 AM
Published: November 30, 2007

CT scans have long been cited as a prime example of how the overuse of fancy medical technologies can drive up the cost of health care. Now there are newly voiced concerns that computed tomography, or CT, may be a health risk as well.

The scans, which were introduced in the 1970s, have revolutionized medical imaging by producing three-dimensional views of organs and other tissues. The scans are undeniably of great value in helping doctors diagnose just what is causing a patient’s illness or pain. But a critique published in The New England Journal of Medicine by two researchers at Columbia University’s Center for Radiological Research warns that usage has spread so rapidly that high, lifetime doses of radiation are now becoming a pubic health hazard.

More than 62 million CT scans were performed in the United States last year, a huge increase from the 3 million performed in 1980. And each scan gives the patient a far higher dose of radiation than a conventional X-ray would. Unfortunately, even many doctors have no idea how much radiation a CT scan delivers.

The risk that a single CT scan might cause cancer is very small, and the medical benefits of diagnosing an ailment far outweigh the slight radiation risk. The problem comes when CT scans are not medically appropriate, such as full-body scans to screen patients who feel fine on the chance that some hidden disease might be detected, or when CT scans are repeated again and again as patients traipse from one doctor to another while their medical records lag behind.

The researchers cite previous estimates that a third of all CT scans performed in the United States could be replaced with less risky diagnostic technologies or not performed at all. If true, that means that some 20 million adults and 1 million children in this country are being irradiated unnecessarily each year. In coming decades, the researchers suggest, as many as 2 percent of all cancers in the United States may be because of radiation from CT scans performed today.

Even if these predictions are on the high side, as some radiologists and medical device manufacturers contend, the message for patients and their doctors is clear: Restrict the use of CT scans to cases where they can truly aid in diagnosis and consider other options, such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging, which have no radiation risk.

NY Times
25310  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Who is that living in my house? on: November 30, 2007, 04:55:59 AM
Caveat Lector: NY Times

BAGHDAD, Nov. 29 — As Iraqi refugees begin to stream back to Baghdad, American military officials say the Iraqi government has yet to develop a plan to absorb the influx and prevent it from setting off a new round of sectarian violence.

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A New, Sectarian Map
Enlarge This Image
Michael Kamber for The New York Times
A mother led her daughter to a car waiting in Baghdad’s Mansour neighborhood Sunday after arriving from Damascus, Syria.
The Iraqi government lacks a mechanism to settle property disputes if former residents return to Baghdad only to find their homes occupied, the officials said. Nor has the Iraqi government come forward with a detailed plan to provide aid, shelter and other essential services to the thousands of Iraqis who might return. American commanders caution that if the return is not carefully managed, there is a risk of undermining the recent security gains.

“All these guys coming back are probably going to find somebody else living in their house,” said Col. William Rapp, a senior aide to Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, speaking at a two-day military briefing on measuring military trends for a small group of American reporters in Baghdad.

“We have been asking, pleading with the government of Iraq, to come up with a policy so that it is not put upon our battalion commanders and the I.S.F. battalion commanders to figure it out on the ground,” he added, referring to the American and Iraqi security force commanders.

When sectarian violence soared in 2006, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis fled to Syria and Jordan, or moved to safer areas in Iraq. But now that the American troop reinforcement plan and a new counterinsurgency strategy have helped reverse a rising tide of car bombings and sectarian killings, there are signs that Iraqis are starting to return.

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has hailed the development as an indication that security is beginning to improve. As if to underscore Mr. Maliki’s point, 375 Iraqi refugees arrived Thursday in a convoy of buses from Damascus, Syria, escorted by heavily armed policemen. After the lengthy journey, the tired Iraqis were ushered into the white marble affluence of the Mansour Melia Hotel in Baghdad to receive a promised government payout to people returning to the capital.

Many neighborhoods in Baghdad have become largely Shiite or Sunni, as one group drove the other out in calculated sectarian cleansing. Sunnis have moved into Shiite homes, and Shiites into Sunni ones. This segregation has contributed to the decline in violence. But what would happen if the original residents insisted on moving back into their homes?

Ahmad Chalabi, a Shiite politician and former Iraqi exile who made common cause with the Americans against Saddam Hussein, has been charged with developing a plan to provide services.

American officers discussed estimates of the displaced Iraqis at a seminar here on the military’s metrics of assessing violence in Iraq held at Camp Victory.

Recent American military data indicates that for the fourth week in a row, the nationwide weekly number of attacks is at its lowest level since January 2006. The number of civilians killed, as measured by the American and Iraqi governments, continued to decline in November. The number of weekly casualties, wounded as well as killed, suffered by Iraqi civilians, Iraqi forces and American forces, increased last week by 56 percent but was still below the level for most of 2006 and 2007.

The military also lowered its tally of how many Iraqis had joined neighborhood watch groups. The new figure for Concerned Local Citizens, as the military calls the volunteers, is 60,321. The previous estimate of 77,000 erroneously combined the number of volunteers who are currently serving with those who had expressed a willingness to join.

Col. Martin Stanton, who oversaw the count, said he told General Petraeus about the new figures this week.

Military officials said that they were seeking to make greater use of some Iraqi government data to provide a more comprehensive portrayal of the situation in Iraq. Though there are concerns about the reliability of some Iraqi reports, American military data generally understates Iraqi civilian deaths, since American units only report what they observe, officials said. At General Petraeus’s recommendation, the Pentagon is expected for the first time to include the Iraqi government data on civilian deaths in its report next month on security trends in Iraq.

While there is no question that large numbers of Iraqis have left their homes, American officials said that the exact number is not available. The International Organization for Migration has reported that the number of internally “displaced” Iraqis — those who have fled their homes but still live in Iraq — has grown to more than one million since the February 2006 bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra. Among those displaced Iraqis, more than 350,000 live in Baghdad Province, according to estimates by humanitarian organizations.

Estimates by the Iraqi Red Crescent of the number of displaced Iraqis run much higher, but are marred by the double and triple counting of Iraqis who move from one area to another, American officials say. One difficulty in fixing an accurate count is that many displaced Iraqis do not register their migrant status with Iraqi authorities, American officials said.

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A New, Sectarian Map In addition, more than two million Iraqis are also estimated to have left Iraq altogether for neighboring counties like Syria and Jordan and other nations.

Col. Cheryl L. Smart, who tracks the data on displaced Iraqis for General Petraeus’s command, said that the American military had been “very vocal” with the Iraqi government about the need to establish a system to adjudicate claims about property rights and to avoid using Iraqi troops to carry out “forced evictions.”

Colonel Rapp voiced the hope that confrontations might be avoided by building new homes for returning Iraqis instead of forcing all of the squatters to leave. “It is probably going to be resolved with new housing construction as opposed to wholesale evictions and resettlement,” he said.

“Whether they will remix is probably a multiyear, decade kind of issue,” he added, referring to the possibility of sectarian reintegration.

“The immediate return of I.D.P.’s will create tensions in that system, and we are concerned about it,” he said, referring to the internally displaced people in Iraq.

A senior Sunni official said that the government was not doing nearly enough. “There are many missing links,” said an Iraqi vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni. “We don’t have a comprehensive plan. We have a ministry of migration, but the problem is the bureaucracy.”

Speaking at his home in the Huriya neighborhood in northwest Baghdad, Mr. Chalabi said he was aware of the issue of returnees’ lingering fears. “I don’t think that people who have committed crimes or transgressions against their fellows in those areas would come back,” Mr. Chalabi said. “But the fear of, for example, the Sunnis here, is that the people who did the transgressions on the other side continue to be here and that they may threaten them.”

He said that he had put forward proposals for large-scale new housing developments, but that they should not be on a sectarian basis. “Baghdad is an integrated city and we should try to get it back to an integrated city,” he said.

Col. J. B. Burton, commander of the Second Brigade Combat Team of the First Infantry Division, which controlled northwest Baghdad until this month, said that some neighborhood leaders had made efforts to allow displaced Iraqis to return to their residences, but that their programs were hampered by the lack of a national plan.

“Displacement is a national issue,” Colonel Burton said Thursday in an e-mail exchange. “The government has got to establish policies which are not focused on sects.”

Most of the Iraqis who returned to the Mansour Melia Hotel on Thursday said they were returning voluntarily after hearing reports that the security situation had improved, but some said they had been forced to return because they had no jobs or money in Syria.

Some said their houses were long ago destroyed by Shiite militias or Sunni insurgents, or still occupied by people on the other side of the sectarian divide. Others said that it was still too unsafe to go back to areas like Dora, Jihad and Mansour, and that they would have to stay with relatives.

Abdul Kadim Mohammed, 58, a Shiite from Abu Ghraib, said he would be staying with relatives for now. “I feel more comfortable in Baghdad but still can’t go to Abu Ghraib, which is not completely good,” he said. “The next step that the government needs to work on is how to get back to our homes.”

25311  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: November 30, 2007, 04:46:55 AM
November 29, 2007
Guilty Verdict in Sudan for British Teacher

KHARTOUM, Nov 29 (Reuters) - A British teacher accused of insulting Muslims after her class called a teddy bear Mohammad was found guilty and jailed for 15 days, a defence lawyer said on Thursday.

Gillian Gibbons, 54, was ordered to be deported after she had completed her sentence.

"She was found guilty of insulting religion and the sentence is 15 days (in jail) and deportation," defence lawyer Ali Ajib said after the trial in a Khartoum courtroom, which lasted less than a day.

Robert Boulos, head of Unity high school where Gibbons worked, said: "We are happy with the verdict. It is fair. There were a lot of political pressures and attention."

He added: "We will be very sad to lose her."

When asked what he thought of the verdict, the head of Gibbons's defence teams, Kamal al-Jazouli, said: "It was not bad."

Gibbons was on Wednesday charged with insulting Islam, inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs because of the toy's name. Under Sudan's penal code, she could have faced 40 lashes, a fine, or up to one year in jail.

In court, judge Mohammed Youssef listened to two accounts -- one from school secretary Sarah Khawad, who filed the first complaint about the teddy bear's name, and one from the official who has been investigating the case, court sources said.

Teachers at the school say that calling the teddy bear Mohammad, the name of the prophet of Islam, was not her idea in the first place and that no parents objected when Unity High School sent parents circulars about a reading project which included the teddy bear as a fictional participant.

In London, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband had earlier told the Sudanese ambassador he was concerned about Gibbons.

"We believe that this was an innocent misunderstanding," Miliband said in a statement.

Sudan has had poor relations with Britain, the United States and most European countries for several years, mainly because of their disagreements over how to handle the conflict in the Darfur region in western Sudan.

The U.N. Security Council, of which Britain is a permanent member, wants to deploy a joint U.N.-African force to Darfur to restore order and help displaced people return home. Khartoum reluctantly agreed but is disputing many details.

Several British Muslim groups said they supported Gibbons.

"This (charging Gibbons) is a disgraceful decision and defies common sense. There was clearly no intention on the part of the teacher to deliberately insult the Islamic faith," said Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary-General of the MCB, Britain's largest Muslim organisation.
25312  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: November 30, 2007, 04:43:29 AM

INDIANAPOLIS -- Jenni Crowley says she can't understand why her son, a Marine reservist, is charged with murder in the death of an Iraqi soldier. Next week, she'll be in California to watch his lawyers try to clear him.The court-martial of Lance Cpl. Delano Holmes, 22, a graduate of Indianapolis' Ben Davis High School, is scheduled to begin Monday at Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he has been held in a brig since February.Holmes (pictured) is accused of fatally stabbing Munther Jasem Muhammed Hassin as the two men stood watch at a security post in Fallujah, Iraq, on Dec. 31, according to one of Holmes' attorneys.

Holmes is charged with unpremeditated murder. Crowley and Holmes' defense team say he was acting in self-defense."I can't believe this," Crowley told 6News' Rafael Sanchez of the charge. "This is a nightmare."Steve Cook, one of Holmes' attorneys, said earlier this year that Holmes and Hassin struggled in darkness after Hassin allegedly opened his cell phone and then lit a cigarette. The men were not supposed to display any illuminated objects because of the threat of sniper fire, and Holmes made repeated attempts to make Hassin extinguish the cigarette, Cook said.

Holmes knocked the cigarette out of Hassin's hands, and they started wrestling, according to Cook. Holmes thought Hassin was reaching for his loaded AK-47, so the Marine killed him with his bayonet and then radioed for help, Cook said.Crowley said her son "has never wavered from the fact that he did not intend to kill this Iraqi soldier.""He facing the possibility of life in prison, based on the charges, simply for defending himself when he felt he had no other option," Crowley said.Crowley started a Web site to inform people about the case and raise money for Holmes' legal defense fund.Crowley will go to California for the court-martial, which is expected to last about two weeks."It won't be easy," she said. "It will be a very hard time again for our family and for Del, but I have to believe that the God I know and love and trust will see us through somehow."
25313  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Counseling AQ in SA on: November 29, 2007, 09:37:06 PM
URL=1,500 Qaeda Members Freed After Counseling]1,500 Qaeda Members Freed After Counseling[/URL]

1,500 Qaeda Members Freed After Counseling
BY ELI LAKE - Staff Reporter of the Sun
November 27, 2007

WASHINGTON — On the eve of the Annapolis summit on the Middle East conflict, the Saudi royal family released 1,500 members of Al Qaeda from prison, requiring them only to promise to refrain from jihad within the Arabian Peninsula.

The presence of the Saudi foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, at the peace parley has been touted by the White House and the State Department as an important diplomatic breakthrough.

Mr. Faisal has said he was reluctant to attend the meeting, the first time the Saudis would be formal participants in an international peace conference dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict. In an interview with Time magazine, he said he would not shake the Israeli prime minister's hand and that he was only interested in a response to his kingdom's peace offer, a full withdrawal from the territory Israel won in 1967 in exchange for peace.

However, while the State Department was wooing the Saudi foreign minister, the kingdom's Interior Ministry released about 1,500 Al Qaeda members arrested in crackdowns that began in 2003 against the group headed by Osama bin Laden.

The story first broke over the weekend in the Saudi newspaper Al Watan. In an interview with the newspaper, a member of a special committee to reform jihadists in the kingdom, Muhammad al-Nujaimi, said the newly released prisoners had been reformed.

"The committee has met around 5,000 times to offer counseling to 3,200 people, who were accused of embracing the takfir ideology. The committee has successfully completed reforming 1,500 people," he said.

The ideology of takfir is prevalent in both fundamentalist interpretations of Sunni and Shiite Islam, and it holds that there are separate rules that allow Muslims to kill, lie to, and steal from nonbelievers.

While the Saudi state has at times been targeted by Muslims embracing the philosophy of takfir, its mosques and Ministry of Culture and Information also have been exporting the strain of Islam that encourages this doctrine.

Yesterday, an American intelligence analyst who was following the story said he was wary about the release of the prisoners. "This Saudi process of reform has been so opaque. What no one knows right now is whether the people who have gone through this program have pledged to stop practicing terror or whether they are only pledging to stop terror inside the kingdom."

Mr. Nujaimi told Al Watan that the reformed prisoners have pledged to end their campaign to rid the Arabian Peninsula of infidels. "After several graded sessions with the committee, and having been convinced of their misguided vision, they renounced their erroneous ideologies, including the concept of driving out all infidels from the Arabian Peninsula," he said.

The director of the Gulf and Energy program at the Washington Institute for Near East Affairs, Simon Henderson, told the New York Sun yesterday that he did not think the prisoner release was connected to Mr. Faisal's visit. "I don't see this as being connected with the Saudi decision to take part in the Annapolis meeting," he said.

Nonetheless, Mr. Henderson was skeptical about the program. "This would appear to be 1,500 people reformed so far out of 3,200 who have entered the so-called counseling process," he said. "By my calculation, that is less than a 50% success rate. And what is success? They don't use violence in the kingdom. Does this mean they can use this elsewhere, for example, in Iraq?"
25314  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Holland, Norway on: November 29, 2007, 05:40:08 PM

Cabinet warns Wilders on anti-Koran film

Wednesday 28 November 2007
The cabinet is concerned about a ‘provocative’ film about the Koran by anti-immigration party PVV leader Geert Wilders which he expects to be shown on tv at the end of January.
The justice, foreign and home affairs ministers, who are worried about a backlash from Islamic countries, have warned Wilders about the risks of screening such a film.
Justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin stressed that while Wilders is free to express his views about the Koran, he also has a responsibility towards society in general. ‘Think about the what the repercussions could be,’ he said.
If the film is hard-hitting, it could evoke hard-hitting reactions against himself and others,’ says the minister. Those who want a free debate must show respect for all religions and for things that are sacrosanct for others, he said.
Wilders says it is not the aim of his film to insult people but if they are insulted, that is ‘a pity but not my problem’. He says he wants Muslims to realise that the Koran is a ‘terrible and fascist’ book which inspires people to commit ‘terrible’ deeds.
He repeated his belief that the Koran, like Hitler’s Mein Kampf, should be banned in the Netherlands.
Abdelmajid Khairoun, chairman of the Dutch umbrella organisation of Muslim organisations, said Wilders’ film would damage not only Muslims but the Netherlands in general. In addition it could lead to a boycott of Dutch products similar to the anti-Danish reaction which followed the controversy about cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed two years ago.



Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Thursday that Krekar, the former head of Islamic guerrilla group Ansar al Islam, told a Kurdish web site that he's sure the Norwegian authorities will never deport him, because that would spark "reaction" against Norway from his Islamic supporters.
Krekar told web site Awane that the "reaction" would come from his relatives, from an armed group, and also from those who follow his religious teachings and sympathize with him.
The groups, he said, "probably are from Somalia or Morocco." He refused to specify what type of "reaction" he expected.
Krekar's remarks are being widely interpreted as new threats against Norway, and that, predictably enough, has sparked more anger among Norwegians who can't understand why Krekar remains in the country.
The official version is that Krekar faces a death sentence if sent back to his native Iraq. Norway won't deport anyone if their lives would officially be in danger, and no other country has volunteered to take over responsibility for Krekar.
The mullah originally came to Norway as a refugee, later won permission to have his family join him, and since has lived largely off Norwegian welfare. He first got in trouble with Norwegian authorities when it became known that he had repeatedly violated the terms of his asylum by traveling voluntarily back to northern Iraq, to lead the guerrilla group. US authorities have long considered Krekar a terrorist suspect.
Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who kept their swords.--Ben Franklin

25315  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Military fires warning shot across Chavez's bow on: November 29, 2007, 04:58:41 PM

VENEZUELA: Venezuela's armed forces might join citizens in opposing President Hugo Chavez's constitutional changes if their approval in a Dec. 3 referendum causes violence, Bloomberg reported, citing an interview with retired Venezuelan army officer Joel Acosta Chirinos published by Brazil's O Globo newspaper. Chirinos added that the possibility of the armed forces taking up arms cannot be ruled out.
25316  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / College Football concussions on: November 29, 2007, 09:17:41 AM

Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, a Heisman Trophy contender, was knocked unconscious by a crushing hit three weeks ago. The Oklahoma freshman quarterback Sam Bradford sustained a concussion while being trampled in a game two weeks ago.

Each impact triggered the delicate and controversial process of determining when the athlete is fit to return to the field, both that day and in subsequent weeks. College players operate in a murky zone: their bodies are between youth and manhood, they play in quasi-professional environments on national television — unpaid but with the riches of professional careers dangling before them — and no rules govern how concussions are treated in college football.

Amid much debate about the dangers of concussions, the National Football League has adopted new rules and guidelines for handling the injury. Experts are trying to raise awareness at the high school level, where players appear particularly susceptible to postconcussion syndrome and more serious injuries. At the college level, each team can devise its own procedure for diagnosing and treating concussions.

Hawaii’s Brennan and Oklahoma’s Bradford, both cleared by their team’s medical personnel, will start in crucial games Saturday: Brennan against Washington and Bradford against top-ranked Missouri in the Big 12 Conference championship game. Hawaii and Oklahoma stand to receive millions of dollars if they qualify for an elite bowl game.

Pritchard also has been cleared as Stanford prepares to play Saturday against the University of California at Berkeley, its archrival. But Coach Jim Harbaugh said in a telephone interview yesterday that he had not decided whether Pritchard would start or if T. C. Ostrander, who has started four games this season, will take Pritchard’s place.

Back at the Pritchard home in Lakewood, Wash., Kelli Pritchard, Tavita’s mother, has found herself resisting the urge to get as involved with her son’s care as her instincts tell her. She said that while she trusts Stanford’s medical staff, a part of her knows that a few years ago she would be driving Tavita to his pediatrician and having tremendous influence over his safety.

“I have to be careful that I’m not being condescending and asking questions that are totally inappropriate,” Kelli Pritchard said. “And yet I can’t ever separate myself from being the mama bear.”

Harbaugh said he expected both Pritchard and Ostrander to play Saturday because both are capable and of similar talent. He said he would decide how much each plays, and who starts, solely on how they perform in practice.

“We’ll make that evaluation on who gives us the best chance to win,” Harbaugh said. He added that unless Pritchard displayed the effects of the concussion in practice, which he had not through Tuesday, the injury would not be a consideration. “If there was some kind of postconcussion effect, like being not as accurate with his passes, that would without question impact how much he plays,” Harbaugh said.

Pritchard’s case has been scrutinized heavily both inside and outside Stanford, in part because of a strange series of events in which Pritchard was removed from the Notre Dame game last Saturday but returned for several downs after Ostrander was injured, only to be removed again.

Pritchard’s concussion took place late in the third quarter when he was struck in the helmet after a long scramble. He lay motionless for about 30 seconds before standing up and woozily walking off the field.

Harbaugh said trainers on the sideline gave Pritchard the Standardized Assessment of Concussion test, a 10-minute series of questions that evaluates short-term memory, cognitive awareness and other neurological issues.

“He received a perfect score,” Harbaugh said. Doctors also determined that Pritchard was displaying no physical symptoms of a concussion.

When Ostrander injured his hand midway through the fourth quarter, Harbaugh said he was told by medical personnel that Pritchard had been cleared to play. Pritchard appeared for one series, and took one hard tackle in which his head struck the ground again, before Ostrander returned for the rest of the game.

“The doctors determined that he was cleared to go back in after 10 minutes,” Harbaugh said. “I believe that there definitely should be scrutiny on this. But the other thing that I’m saying is that we have a concussion protocol. Tavita passed that. We have a battery of doctors that were with him from the time he got hit until the time he went back into the game. And that decision is clearly in the hands of the doctors, 100 percent. Coaches don’t make those decisions, and neither do the players.”


Page 2 of 2)

Pritchard said in a telephone interview: “I think it looked worse than it was. It kind of looked like T. C. went down, is Tavita O.K., he’s O.K., and I run in. People need to know that there was a lot more that was done beforehand.”

The question of whether a player who sustains a concussion should ever return to the same game can be divisive. It is strongly discouraged at the high school level because studies have shown that teenagers’ brain tissue is less developed and they are more susceptible to subsequent concussions, which in rare cases can lead to coma or death. (At least 50 high school or younger football players in more than 20 states since 1997 have been killed or have sustained catastrophic head injuries on the field, according to research by The New York Times.)

N.F.L. players, meanwhile, are generally believed to be fit to return if their symptoms have cleared.

Dr. Henry Feuer, who works the sidelines for every home football game for Indiana University and the Indianapolis Colts, and also counsels many of his state’s high schools, agreed with several other experts that college athletes are generally more comparable to professionals than high school players. He also said that most — if not all — Division I programs have formal postconcussion guidelines and testing.

“I feel strongly that teenagers are different, and high schools often don’t have a physician on the sideline,” Feuer said. “In college they almost always do and they have sports-medicine athletic trainers, too.”

Oklahoma’s Bradford sustained a concussion in a Nov. 17 game against Texas Tech, and was removed after telling team personnel that he was forgetting the plays. Scott Anderson, the Sooners’ head athletic trainer, said that Oklahoma used the Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics test, another set of questions that evaluate neurological symptoms, in determining that Bradford should not return to the game.

Bradford was cleared to play the next week. Anderson said he was pleased that Bradford alerted team personnel to his injury because, as opposed to a sprained knee, concussions can be (and often are) hidden by a player who wants to stay in the game.

“One of our huge battles with concussion is we’re extremely dependent on self-reporting,” Anderson said.

The injury to Hawaii’s Brennan was obvious — while he was scrambling in the fourth quarter, a Fresno State player hit him at full speed virtually helmet-to-helmet. Brennan was briefly knocked unconscious and did not return. The Hawaii team doctor, Andrew Nichols, declined to be interviewed about how Brennan was cleared to play the following week, on Nov. 16. Last Friday, in a victory against Boise State, Brennan passed for 495 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Brennan had the extra consideration of his professional future. Sustaining another concussion could cost him several spots and millions of dollars in next spring’s N.F.L. draft. Without discussing Brennan specifically, Feuer said that he asks every prospect at the N.F.L. combine about his concussion history.

“You check for easy concussability, and whether it takes them a long time to get back,” Feuer said. “That gets put into their negative column, or whatever, come draft time.”

The last thing Kelli Pritchard said she has considered this week was how Tavita’s sitting out Saturday would affect his N.F.L. future. She speaks with Tavita several times a day on the phone to monitor how he is feeling, but knows that all she can do is hope that her feelings are considered.

“I know a lot is going to go into this decision,” Kelli Pritchard said. “It’s a really hard decision to make for everybody, because everybody’s going to get criticized one way or another.”
25317  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Balkans on: November 29, 2007, 08:50:07 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Breaking Eggs in Kosovo

Kosovo is one of those places people know have problems, but figure will be contained and not become a concern to the international community. Ever since the air campaign conducted against Yugoslavia in 1999 by NATO, and particularly the United States, the Serbian province of Kosovo has been treated as territory occupied and policed by NATO and the policy of the occupiers has been, ultimately, to create a separate and independent Kosovo, which is ethnically dominated by Albanians but historically part of Serbia.

Ethnic Albanians and Serbs from Kosovo conducted talks for the last three days, but failed to reach an agreement on Kosovo's status. French Lt. Gen. Xavier de Marnhac, speaking at a press conference, warned of tough times ahead in Kosovo and asked for clear guidance from the international community as to what he is supposed to do if violence erupts. "It's going to be tough and to expect to do that without breaking eggs, forget it," De Marnhac said. "We will definitely break some eggs." We assume this is French for kicking some butt.

The problem is that Belgrade regards Kosovo as part of Serbia and its current ethnic makeup as the result of Albanian and NATO actions, and does not intend to abandon the province. The rest of Europe does not really want to force it to. Once it is established that a region with a different ethnic makeup has the inherent right to independence, then other regions in Europe might also lay claim to independence. There is Northern Ireland, the Basque regions of Spain, the Hungarian regions in Romania and Slovakia and a range of aspiring nations in the former Soviet Union.

European stability since World War II has rested on the concept that borders are inviolable, even if they contain within them regions of other nationalities. The break-up of Czechoslovakia was the result of mutual agreement, and that is precisely what the Europeans want. They do not want Kosovo to set a precedent for Belgian Walloons wanting out of Belgium. To a great extent the world wars of the 20th century were triggered by borders not matching nationalities.

The Europeans expected the Serbs to behave like Europeans, abandoning nationalism for the economic benefits of inclusion in the European Union. That would have solved everything, but the Serbs have not behaved that way. They accept exclusion from Europe if the price is Kosovo. This has baffled Europe. They do not know how to deal with Serbia. They do not want to separate Kosovo by force, nor can they get Serbia to agree to separation.

Add to this the fact that the Russians are adamantly opposed to an independent Kosovo and the entire matter is elevated to a global issue. The Russians see themselves as allies of Serbia and they fear that if Albanian Muslims are allowed to become independent from an Orthodox Christian country, the precedent might spread to Chechnya or elsewhere in Russia. Moreover, Putin is looking for a chance to test his strength against the United States, and the last thing the Europeans want is the Russians and Americans testing their strength in Europe. They have had quite enough of that.

On the other hand, the Kosovar Albanians seem committed to declaring unilateral independence soon. When they do, the NATO troops in Kosovo will have to make a decision on exactly which eggs to break. That is why de Marnhac asked for guidance on what to do should the Albanians declare a state. If NATO defends the new state, then the precedent is set, and it will have to break Serbian eggs. If it suppresses the new state, then it has to break Albanian eggs.

The Euro-American assumption was that at some point the Serbs in Belgrade would break and force the Serbs in Kosovo to accept an Albanian government. That hasn't happened and it probably won't. The problem is that the Americans and Europeans don't have a Plan B. An Albanian move to independence will leave everyone paralyzed, which is exactly why the Albanians will try it. The next step is probably to try to get the Albanians not to declare independence, but they have little motivation to listen.

If Kosovo breaks out of the box it was placed in in 1999, there will be another Balkan crisis, another Christian-Muslim confrontation and a confrontation between NATO and Russia. That should be enough to convince anyone that the evolution of events in Kosovo will matter. The Serbs will refuse to bend and the Albanians will not let this chance slip.

We understand the good general warning about broken eggs and asking for guidance on which eggs to break. Unfortunately, guidance requires a political decision, and NATO does not make decisions well. Therefore the underlying policy of NATO will continue to consist of hope coupled with civil servants holding meetings. Until all hell breaks loose in the Balkans again.

25318  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton on govt. debt on: November 29, 2007, 08:39:10 AM
"As on the one hand, the necessity for borrowing in particular
emergencies cannot be doubted, so on the other, it is equally
evident that to be able to borrow upon good terms, it is essential
that the credit of a nation should be well established."

-- Alexander Hamilton (Report on Public Credit, 9 January 1790)

Reference: The Reports of Alexander Hamilton, Cooke, ed. (2)
25319  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Huckabee on: November 28, 2007, 06:51:55 PM
Third post of the day:

Political Journal/WSJ

"From day one, I have been convinced that [former Arkansas Gov. Mike] Huckabee, who is an amazing talent, is running for president to further his career, not serve in the Oval Office. Landing hefty speaking fees and handsome book deals, and perhaps his own cable television gig, are assuredly in his future. It's not that Huckabee is beneath the presidency; it's that he operates in a different orbit. He longs for the spotlight. He loves to entertain and is less concerned with the substance of what he says than with the impression he leaves.... He is a modern-day populist who delights in the sowing-and-reaping praise of others, especially those from the left, but for what, to advance some sort of ideological cause? No, it's about advancing Mike Huckabee" -- David Sanders, a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau and a former aide to Mike Huckabee.
25320  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: November 28, 2007, 05:18:04 PM
Baltic Dog:

What word on yours?

25321  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington to Patrick Henry on: November 28, 2007, 01:59:41 PM
"My ardent desire is, and my aim has comply strictly
with all our engagements foreign and domestic; but to keep the U
States free from political connections with every other Country.
To see that they may be independent of all, and under the
influence of none.  In a word, I want an American character,
that the powers of Europe may be convinced we act for ourselves
and not for others; this,  in my judgment, is the only way to be
respected abroad and happy at home."

-- George Washington (letter to Partick Henry, 9 October 1775)

Reference: The Writings of George Washington, Fitzpatrick, ed.,
vol. 34 (335)
25322  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / 9 year old suspended for hate crime on: November 28, 2007, 01:57:27 PM

9-year old suspended for 'hate crime'
Robert Anglen
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 27, 2007 03:05 PM

A Glendale elementary school principal has admitted to telling a 9-year old boy that it is OK to have racist feelings as long as you keep them to yourself.

“As we said to (the boy) when he was in here, in your heart you may have that feeling, and that is OK if that is your personal belief,” Abraham Lincoln Traditional School Principal Virginia Voinovich said in a tape-recorded parent-teacher conference.

The boy was suspended for three days this month for allegedly committing a “hate crime” by using the expression “brown people.” advertisement 

In an interview Monday, Voinovich would not address her comments, first saying she didn't remember the incident, then demanding a copy of the recording and finally insisting that she could not talk about a student's discipline.

The circumstances of the boy’s suspension itself raise troubling questions about student discipline, interrogation and oversight at Abraham Lincoln.

According to school officials, the boy made a statement about “brown people” to another elementary student with whom he was having a conflict. They maintain it was his second offense using the phrase.

But the tape recording indicates this only came out after another parent was allowed to question the boy and elicited from him the statement that he “doesn't cooperate with brown people.”

After that was reported to the boy's teacher, he was made to stand in front of his class and publicly confess what he'd said.

The boy maintains that he never said it; that the words were put in his mouth by the parent who questioned him. That parent happens to be the mother of the student with whom he is having a conflict—and she happens to work for Abraham Lincoln as a detention-room officer.

The tape indicates that rather than just spouting off with racial invective, the boy was asked first why he didn't want to cooperate with brown people by the parent/school official.

In court, this might be called entrapment. Not to mention a conflict of interest.

Officials at the Washington Elementary School District, who are supposed to oversee Voinovich, wouldn't comment about the boy’s suspension. They said only the principal is qualified to talk about it.

Well, the boy’s mother is talking, and she is angry. She has also removed her son from the school.

“I want parents to know … that principals can abuse their powers,” Sherry Neve, 35, said. “Principals need to have pro-active supervisors. I want the parents to know that the principal was influencing my son in a way I wouldn't want him to be raised.”

Neve said school officials didn’t advise her of the incident until several days after they questioned her son. When Neve objected to the suspension during the conference, Voinovich told her that she didn't have any rights; that parents give up their rights to discipline when they send a child to school, the tape shows.

“If you don't want that, you can take him out of here,” Voinovich said tersely.

Neve insists that her son is not a racist and that he never differentiated a person's color until the school made it in an issue.

“We were raised to be color blind,” she said. “My children were raised the same way.”

But let's assume for a minute that the boy actually made the comment. Does this make him a racist and guilty of a hate crime? Or does it make him a confused 9-year-old in need of counseling?

Instead of taking an opportunity to educate the boy and get to the root of the problem, the principal taught him another lesson altogether: It's OK to feel like a racist as long as you keep your feelings to yourself.

Kids often say the darndest things. Apparently, so do principals.
25323  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Muslim Girls Scouts on: November 28, 2007, 01:45:38 PM
Its the NY Times, so caveat lector:

Published: November 28, 2007
MINNEAPOLIS — Sometimes when Asma Haidara, a 12-year-old Somali immigrant, wants to shop at Target or ride the Minneapolis light-rail system, she puts her Girl Scout sash over her everyday clothes, which usually include a long skirt worn over pants as well as a swirling head scarf.

Girls from predominantly Muslim Troop 3119 in Minneapolis at an indoor cookout on a rainy day.
She has discovered that the trademark green sash — with its American flag, troop number (3009) and colorful merit badges — reduces the number of glowering looks she draws from people otherwise bothered by her traditional Muslim dress.

“When you say you are a girl scout, they say, ‘Oh, my daughter is a girl scout, too,’ and then they don’t think of you as a person from another planet,” said Asma, a slight, serious girl with a bright smile. “They are more comfortable about sitting next to me on the train.”

Scattered Muslim communities across the United States are forming Girl Scout troops as a sort of assimilation tool to help girls who often feel alienated from the mainstream culture, and to give Muslims a neighborly aura. Boy Scout troops are organized with the same inspiration, but often the leap for girls is greater because many come from conservative cultures that frown upon their participating in public physical activity.

By teaching girls to roast hot dogs or fix a flat bicycle tire, Farheen Hakeem, one troop leader here, strives to help them escape the perception of many non-Muslims that they are different.

Scouting is a way of celebrating being American without being any less Muslim, Ms. Hakeem said.

“I don’t want them to see themselves as Muslim girls doing this ‘Look at us, we are trying to be American,’ ” she said. “No, no, no, they are American. It is not an issue of trying.”

The exact number of Muslim girl scouts is unknown, especially since, organizers say, most Muslim scouts belong to predominantly non-Muslim troops. Minneapolis is something of an exception, because a few years ago the Girl Scout Council here surveyed its shrinking enrollment and established special outreach coordinators for various minorities. Some 280 Muslim girls have joined about 10 predominantly Muslim troops here, said Hodan Farah, who until September was the Scout coordinator for the Islamic community.

Nationally, the Boy Scouts of America count about 1,500 youths in 100 clubs of either Boy Scouts or Cub Scouts sponsored by Islamic organizations, said Gregg Shields, a spokesman for the organization.

The Girl Scouts’ national organization, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., has become flexible in recent years about the old trappings associated with suburban, white, middle-class Christian scouting. Many troops have done away with traditions like saying grace before dinner at camp, and even the Girl Scout Promise can be retooled as needed.

“On my honor I will try to serve Allah and my country, to help people and live by the Girl Scout law,” eight girls from predominantly Muslim Troop 3119 in Minneapolis recited on one recent rainy Sunday before setting off for a cookout in a local park.

Some differences were readily apparent, of course. At the cookout, Ms. Hakeem, a former Green Party candidate for mayor, negotiated briefly with one sixth grader, Asha Gardaad, who was fasting for the holy month of Ramadan.

“If you break your fast, will your mother get mad at me?” Ms. Hakeem asked. Asha shook her head emphatically no.

The troop leader distributed supplies: hot dogs followed by s’mores for dessert. All was halal — that is, in adherence with the dietary requirements of Islamic law — with the hot dogs made of beef rather than pork.

It was Asha’s first s’more. “It’s delicious!” she exclaimed, licking sticky goop off her fingers as thunder crashed outside the park shelter with its roaring fire. “It’s a good way to break my fast!”

Women trying to organize Girl Scout troops in Muslim communities often face resistance from parents, particularly immigrants from an Islamic culture like that of Somalia, where tradition dictates that girls do housework after school.

In Nashville, where Ellisha King of Catholic Charities helps run a Girl Scout troop on a shoestring to assist Somali children with acculturation, most parents vetoed a camping trip, for example. They figured years spent as refugees in tents was enough camping, Ms. King recalled.

But a more common concern among parents is that the Girl Scouts will somehow dilute Islamic traditions.

To Muslim Girls, Scouts Offer a Chance to Fit In


Published: November 28, 2007
(Page 2 of 2)

“They are afraid you are going to become a blue-eyed, blond-haired Barbie doll,” said Asma, the girl who at times makes her sash everyday attire. Asma noted that her mother had asked whether she was joining some Christian cabal. “She was afraid that if we hang out with Americans too much,” the young immigrant said, “it will change our culture or who we are.”

Farheen Hakeem, troop leader, led girls in the reciting of the Girl Scout Promise.
Troop leaders win over parents by explaining that various activities incorporate Muslim traditions. In Minneapolis, for instance, Ms. Hakeem helped develop the Khadija Club, named for the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad, which exposes older girls to the history of prominent Muslim women.

Suboohi Khan, 10, won her Bismallah (in the name of God) ribbon by writing 4 of God’s 99 names in Arabic calligraphy and decorating them, as well as memorizing the Koran’s last verse, used for protection against gossips and goblins. Otherwise, she said, her favorite badge involved learning “how to make body glitter and to see which colors look good on us” and “how to clean up our nails.”

Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. does not issue religious badges, but endorses those established by independent groups. Gulafshan K. Alavi started one such group, the Islamic Committee on Girl Scouting, in Stamford, Conn., in 1990. The demand for information about Muslim badges, Mrs. Alavi said, has grown to the point where this year she had the pamphlet listing her club’s requirements printed rather than sending out a photocopied flier. She also shipped up to 400 patches awarded to girls who study Ramadan traditions, she said, the most ever.

Predominantly Muslim troops do accept non-Muslim members. In Minneapolis, Alexis Eastlund, 10, said other friends sometimes pestered her about belonging to a mostly Muslim troop, although she has known many of its members half her life.

“I never really thought of them as different,” Alexis said. “But other girls think that it is weird that I am Christian and hang out with a bunch of Muslim girls. I explain to them that they are the same except they have to wear a hijab on their heads.”

Ms. Farah, who served as an outreach coordinator in Minneapolis and remains active in the Scouts, said she used the organization as a platform to try to ease tensions in the community. Scraps between African-American and Somali girls prompted her to start a research project demonstrating to them that their ancestors all came from roughly the same place.

Ms. Hakeem, the troop leader, said she tried to find projects to improve the girls’ self-esteem, like going through the Eddie Bauer catalog to cut out long skirts and other items that adhere to Islamic dress codes.

All in all, scouting gives the girls a rare sense of belonging, troop leaders and members say.

“It is kind of cool to say that you are a girl scout,” Asma said. “It is good to have something to associate yourself with other Americans. I don’t want people to think that I am a hermit, that I live in a cave, isolated and afraid of change. I like to be part of society. I like being able to say that I am a girl scout just like any other normal girl.”

25324  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: November 28, 2007, 01:28:39 PM
Second post of the day:

NY Times shadings and all, still an interesting piece:

By the time Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York stepped before a wall of television crews in the Public Hearing Room at City Hall on May 19, 2000, there were no surprises left.

Skip to next paragraph
The Long Run
A New York Moment
This is part of a series of articles about the lives and careers of contenders for the 2008 Republican and Democratic presidential nominations.

In the course of three tumultuous weeks, Mr. Giuliani had been told by doctors that he had prostate cancer. He had announced he was leaving his wife after tabloids reported he was having an affair. And now, he had come to withdraw from the Senate race against Hillary Rodham Clinton, bringing a sudden end to what was arguably the most anticipated Senate campaign of modern times.
But the 12 months leading to Mr. Giuliani’s departure are as instructive today as they were riveting then: a blistering year of mental gamesmanship, piercing attacks, contrasts in personalities and positions, and blunders, played out by two outsize political figures in a super-heated atmosphere.

It was a year in which both Mr. Giuliani and Mrs. Clinton gained many of the political skills the nation is seeing now as they campaign for president. It was a time in which they took a measure of one another as opponents. And it was a shared chapter in their lives that offers a window into what a 2008 White House contest between these New Yorkers might be like, should they each win their party’s nomination.

On the morning when Mr. Giuliani quit, the two sides were deep into preparing for a fall campaign. After an uncertain start in which Mr. Giuliani kept her off balance, Mrs. Clinton had found her way to handle the gibes thrown at her by the confrontational mayor. Rather than engage him, Mrs. Clinton became the foot-tapping, arms-folded sighing mother of a forever misbehaving teenager, a mien intended as much to infantilize Mr. Giuliani as to provoke him.

“I can’t be responding every time the mayor gets angry,” Mrs. Clinton said, smiling as she campaigned in upstate New York a few days before Christmas 1999. “Because that’s all I would do.”

Both sides were prepared for the battle. Television advertising scripts had been drafted (“She says she is a Yankee fan, but she hasn’t even been to a Yankee game,” was the tag line of one Giuliani advertisement), vulnerabilities had been identified and campaign themes tested. Mr. Giuliani’s aides had prepared an indexed 315-page dossier compiling positions and potentially damaging quotes from throughout her life, according to people who saw it. (It included an 11-page chronicle titled “Stupid Actions and Remarks.”)

Mr. Giuliani was going to portray Mrs. Clinton as inauthentic, inexperienced, a liberal champion of big government and a carpetbagger, his advisers said in interviews. Mrs. Clinton was going to paint Mr. Giuliani as divisive and undignified, temperamentally unsuited for the Senate, and profoundly uninterested in national and international affairs, her advisers said.

More than anything, the early stages of the 2000 Senate race offered a lesson on the politics of psychological warfare, as each campaign sought, in the words of one Clinton adviser, to “get inside the head” of the other’s candidate.

Mr. Giuliani pounced on Mrs. Clinton’s slightest misstep, sensing vulnerability in this new and nervous candidate. The mayor, a former prosecutor, often exaggerated her misdeeds and slightly mischaracterized her positions, aides said, in a deliberate effort to goad her into correcting his version of her record — while Mr. Giuliani skipped on to his next attack. He was brash and theatrical, flying to Little Rock one day to announce that he would fly the Arkansas flag over City Hall in New York to highlight the fact that Mrs. Clinton was running for office in a state where she had never lived.

In announcing his withdrawal from the race to succeed Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat, Mr. Giuliani said he wanted to turn his attention to fighting his cancer. But some of his aides and senior Washington Republicans say today they had concluded weeks before that he had lost interest in the race, in part because he had become enamored of Judith Nathan, the woman with whom he was having an affair, but also because he realized that he was drawn to the campaign more by the sport and distinction that would come with beating a Clinton than he was by the prospect of serving in the Senate.

As the spring came, Mr. Giuliani would joke gloomily, over cigars, about life as a junior senator and the transition of going from chief executive to one of 100 people, one friend said. He complained about the burdens of fund-raising, while his aides grew frustrated at his reluctance to campaign outside of New York City or discuss federal issues.

As their presidential campaigns look to the past in preparation for a possible renewal of their aborted contest, they have reached strikingly similar conclusions about their potential opponent: Eight years older and more experienced, Mr. Giuliani and Mrs. Clinton are each far tougher and more rounded candidates than they were in 2000.

“She is a great candidate now,” said Frank Luntz, who was Mr. Giuliani’s pollster in 2000. “She is a tough-as-nails candidate today. She has learned how to turn people who were openly hostile to her into supporters.”


Page 2 of 3)

Anthony V. Carbonetti, one of Mr. Giuliani’s chief political advisers, said Mrs. Clinton’s lack of executive experience was a critical liability with New York voters in 2000, and would be again with national voters.

“But she is a completely different person,” Mr. Carbonetti said. “You have to give her credit for the Senate experience now. She is not the demon now that she was coming out of the White House. I would not underestimate her at all.”
Much the same sentiment is voiced about Mr. Giuliani by Mrs. Clinton’s advisers. “I’m not going to dispute you on this: He seems like a more disciplined candidate now,” said Howard Wolfson, who worked as Mrs. Clinton’s communications director in 2000, where he frequently tangled with Mr. Giuliani, and is serving the same role again. “I am surprised at the way he has kept his anger in check.”

Ready to Run

It was the start of 1999, and Mr. Giuliani, like Mrs. Clinton, was approaching a turning point in his career. Term limits prevented him from running a third time for mayor, and his advisers said there was never much debate about what he should do next. He viewed the prospect of running against a Clinton as irresistible.

He instructed two of his top consultants from the 1997 campaign for mayor — Adam Goodman and Rick Wilson — to prepare a comprehensive catalog of her public statements, writings and positions going back to when she was a student at Wellesley, a road map into her foibles and vulnerabilities. (Turn to Page 39 for the Lincoln Bedroom; 139 for Whitewater.)

But Mr. Giuliani was trying to plan his campaign as he was running a city, and often seemed to make little effort to find time for his political advisers. They would hop into Mr. Giuliani’s Suburban as it whisked him around the city, where he would turn from talking about the best way to go after Mrs. Clinton to how to deal with the threat of a transit strike at the end of 1999. Mr. Luntz said Mr. Giuliani would arrive at Gracie Mansion after 10 p.m. for campaign planning meetings.

In these sessions, Mr. Giuliani and his aides concluded that Mrs. Clinton would run a highly ordered, meticulous and policy-driven campaign, make an appeal to women on Long Island, and seek to discredit Mr. Giuliani by identifying him with Washington Republicans.

In Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Giuliani’s aides told the mayor, he was facing a smart, cold and tentative opponent, unprepared for the maelstrom of a New York City campaign. The issue of her residency became more than a way to win tabloid headlines: Mr. Giuliani saw it as a way to underline voter perceptions of her as inauthentic, opportunistic and untrustworthy. When Mrs. Clinton flew to New York from Washington for a parade, Mr. Giuliani welcomed her with sarcasm. “I hope she knows the way,” he said. “I hope she doesn’t get lost on one of the side streets.”

Candidate in Training

Mrs. Clinton began that spring with a series of talks with advisers about what she should do now that her husband was leaving the White House. By late spring, the discussion — typically a half-dozen people gathered in the Yellow Oval Room in the second-floor family quarters of the White House — had evolved into a political tutorial on how to be a candidate, how to run in New York and how to deal with Mr. Giuliani.

Her advisers could not have been better suited to the task. Four of them had worked in tough New York campaigns, and two of those had worked in campaigns against Mr. Giuliani. (They remain the nucleus of Mrs. Clinton’s political cabinet today.)

Mandy Grunwald, Mrs. Clinton’s media adviser, was the media consultant to Ruth W. Messinger when she ran unsuccessfully for mayor against Mr. Giuliani in 1997. Mark Penn, who was Mrs. Clinton’s pollster and is today her chief strategist, advised David N. Dinkins when he defeated Mr. Giuliani in the 1989 mayor’s race.

Mr. Wolfson was communications director for Charles E. Schumer when he beat Senator Alfonse M. D’Amato in 1998. Harold Ickes, a longtime close adviser to the Clintons, has been a warrior in New York City politics for 40 years.

This group had observed Mr. Giuliani in three mayoral campaigns, and there was little disagreement about how to run against him: focus on his temperament, his identification with Republican policies and the notion that he was running for a job that did not interest him. Perhaps more significant, when viewed in the context of a potential 2008 rematch, Mrs. Clinton’s advisers suspected that the first lady, who grew up in suburban Chicago, would be a culturally more appealing candidate to rural voters than Mr. Giuliani.

Mrs. Clinton’s advisers reached many of the same conclusions about her weaknesses that Mr. Giuliani’s advisers had.


Page 3 of 3)

So it was that Mrs. Clinton began her campaign that summer not in New York or its suburbs, but in rural Republican upstate New York, sitting down with small groups of voters. The ostensible purpose of what was called her listening tour was to defuse the criticism of her residency. But it allowed her to learn how to be a candidate and test her upstate appeal.

Yet her low-profile, make-no-waves campaign style worried New York Democrats as they watched Mr. Giuliani gleefully goad her from City Hall.

Those worries peaked in November, when Mrs. Clinton traveled to the West Bank city of Ramallah and sat silently as Suha Arafat, the wife of the president of the Palestinian Authority, accused Israel of deploying carcinogenic gases to control Arab protesters in Gaza and the West Bank. It took 12 hours before Mrs. Clinton rebuked Mrs. Arafat; by that point, she had been repeatedly assailed by Mr. Giuliani.

In the weeks after her return, Mrs. Clinton and her advisers determined that they could not win the race unless they turned attention away from Mrs. Clinton and on to Mr. Giuliani: to cast him in “the angry frame,” as one described it. At every opportunity, Mrs. Clinton and her advisers suggested that Mr. Giuliani was slightly out of control, a characterization that was intended to raise doubts about Mr. Giuliani and knock him off stride.

And there were signs it was working. Mr. Giuliani suggested he was the victim of a Clinton-directed conspiracy that included pushing the Brooklyn district attorney, a Democrat, to investigate his campaign manager, Bruce Teitelbaum. “You’ve got to be living on Mars not to figure out what’s going on,” Mr. Giuliani said.

As spring arrived, Mr. Giuliani had yet to give a major speech on federal issues. He was barely campaigning upstate. Mr. Giuliani dismissed the concerns of Republican leaders, explaining that he, unlike Mrs. Clinton, had a full-time job.

Mr. Giuliani’s campaign began to falter in March. New York police officers shot and killed an unarmed black man, Patrick Dorismond, after he ran from undercover agents who asked if he had any drugs to sell. Mr. Giuliani authorized the release of Mr. Dorismond’s sealed criminal records from when he was a juvenile and went on Fox News Sunday, where he proclaimed that Mr. Dorismond was “no altar boy.” The remarks ripped across an already polarized city.

Mr. Clinton had already been scheduled to appear the next night at the Bethel A.M.E. Church in Harlem. The church was packed with cameras and reporters as Mrs. Clinton, clasping hands with prominent black leaders, walked in singing “We Shall Overcome,” before delivering a speech accusing Mr. Giuliani of dividing the city.

Mr. Giuliani headed upstate, for a Republican dinner in Binghamton. He spoke for exactly 22 minutes, stood for an eight-minute news conference, and then turned for home. Less than a week later, he abruptly canceled four upstate events because, he said, he wanted to attend the rescheduled opening game of the Yankees.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign pounced. Overnight, aides arranged a trip for her to the cities Mr. Giuliani had snubbed and worked the telephone with upstate reporters to stoke the story.

The End

By the time Mr. Giuliani stepped in front of the cameras to announce he was dropping out, Republicans had already concluded that the mayor would not stay in the race: indeed, many were praying he would not. His cancer seemed almost beside the point.

Evidence of his lack of interest had been building for months: the erratic campaign schedule, his treatment of upstate voters, the public way he was carrying on his relationship with Ms. Nathan. His poll numbers were sinking (a New York Times/CBS News poll taken after the Dorismond episode found Mrs. Clinton leading the mayor by 10 points statewide), and he had become a punch line on late-night talk shows.

It was a frazzled end for Mr. Giuliani’s aides, concerned about the health of a friend, bewildered by the humiliating political meltdown they were witnessing, and frustrated that all their preparation for this epic battle would be put aside and that Mrs. Clinton would be left with a relatively easy start for her solo political career.

To this day, their aides quarrel over how the race would have ended had Mr. Giuliani not withdrawn. “If he would have stayed in the race, we would have won,” Mr. Penn said. Told of that, Peter Powers, Mr. Giuliani’s longtime political adviser and close friend, responded, “We viewed her as somebody we can easily beat — not easily, but someone we could beat.”

Mr. Giuliani’s advisers said he could have overcome the collapse of his marriage, assuming he was physically well enough to stay in. But they are not sure they could have overcome another obstacle: that Mr. Giuliani was running for a job that he did not seem to want.

Should their status as their parties’ national front-runners bear up under the actual voting in the primaries, Mr. Giuliani could get the fight against Mrs. Clinton he has been spoiling for. And this time, it is for a job that he by all appearances covets. That may well be the most significant difference between the Clinton-Giuliani race that almost was and that Clinton-Giuliani race that could now be about to unfold.
25325  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: November 28, 2007, 01:06:06 PM
Flat Tax Fred
Thompson's reform leads the GOP field.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Fred Thompson's Presidential campaign has been struggling, in part because of a sense that he lacks passion and an agenda. But late last week he unveiled a tax reform that is more ambitious than anything we've seen so far from the rest of the GOP field.

Mr. Thompson wants to abolish the death tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax and cut the corporate income tax rate to 27% from 35%. But his really big idea is a voluntary flat tax that would give every American the option of ditching the current code in favor of filing a simple tax return with two tax rates of 10% and 25%.

Mr. Thompson is getting aboard what has become a global bandwagon, with more than 20 nations having adopted some form of flat tax. Most--especially in Eastern Europe--have seen their economies grow and revenues increase as they've adopted low tax rates of between 13% and 25% with few exemptions.

The main political obstacle to such a reform in the U.S. has come from liberals, who favor punitive taxes for "class" reasons, and K Street corporate lobbyists who want to retain their tax-loophole empires. The housing and insurance industries, states and localities, charities, bond traders and tax preparers are all foes of low tax rates.

That's why the idea of a voluntary flat tax--introduced on these pages a dozen years ago--makes political sense. The Thompson plan would allow taxpayers to keep their mortgage and charitable deductions if they prefer, by adhering to the current tax code and rates. But it would also allow the option to abandon those credits and deductions except for a single allowance based on family size ($39,000 for a family of four). Most taxpayers would pay a 10% rate on income above that allowance, with a 25% rate kicking in at $100,000 for a couple. There would only be five lines on the tax form and most taxpayers could fill it out in minutes.

Liberals are already objecting that the plan is not "paid for," by which they mean it doesn't raise taxes the way they hope the next President will. But Mr. Thompson is right in refusing to play by the "static revenue" scoring game that demands that one dollar in estimated tax cuts be offset by one dollar in estimated tax increases somewhere else. "The experts always overrate the revenue losses from tax cuts," Mr. Thompson says, and history supports him going back to the Mellon reductions of the 1920s, the Kennedy tax cuts of the 1960s, the Gipper's in the 1980s, and this decade's success with President Bush's reductions.
Mr. Thompson's plan is based on one introduced by GOP Representatives Paul Ryan and Jeb Hensarling that is in any case not designed to lose revenue. It is intended to allow federal receipts to grow at the rate of the economy, which would leave them at some 18% or 19% of GDP--roughly their average of recent decades. When critics object to revenue losses, they are really saying that the tax share of GDP should be allowed to rise to 20% and higher, which is where we are headed if the Bush tax rates expire.

We'd prefer a flat tax with one rate instead of Mr. Thompson's two. Once the concession is made that richer people should pay a higher tax rate, the political temptation is always to raise the rate on the wealthy. The virtue of the single-rate flat tax isn't merely its efficiency but also its moral component: It treats all taxpayers equally. If a person makes five times more money than his neighbor, he should pay five times more taxes, not 10 or 20 times more.

However, what's refreshing about the Thompson plan is that it goes well beyond the current Republican mantra to make "the Bush tax cuts permanent." That is certainly needed, but the GOP also needs a more ambitious agenda, especially with economic growth slowing. The flat tax has the added political benefit of assaulting the special interests who populate the Gucci Gulch outside Congress's tax-writing committee rooms. Lower rates and simplify the tax code, and you instantly reduce the opportunities for Beltway corruption. It is both a tax policy and political reform.

The two apparent Republican front runners, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, should be paying attention. Both have called for tax cuts in general but have dodged any endorsement of the flat tax--presumably because they think it is too politically risky. The politically calculating Mr. Romney has questioned whether the flat tax is "fair." Mr. Giuliani is more open to the idea, saying the flat tax "would be a lot easier. It would probably bring in a lot more revenue and it would not have some of the burdens on the economy that the massive tax code has." That's right, so why not go all the way?
Mr. Thompson's voluntary proposal is one way to deflect some of the inevitable political opposition. Anyone who prefers the current tax code can stick with it. The rest of us can have a better choice.

25326  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The English Language on: November 28, 2007, 12:50:25 PM

English-Only Showdown
Does Nancy Pelosi really object to a common language in the workplace?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Should the Salvation Army be able to require its employees to speak English? You wouldn't think that's controversial. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding up a $53 billion appropriations bill funding the FBI, NASA and Justice Department solely to block an attached amendment, passed by both the Senate and House, that protects the charity and other employers from federal lawsuits over their English-only policies.

The U.S. used to welcome immigrants while at the same time encouraging assimilation. Since 1906, for example, new citizens have had to show "the ability to read, write and speak ordinary English." A century later, this preference for assimilation is still overwhelmingly popular. A new Rasmussen poll finds that 87% of voters think it "very important" that people speak English in the U.S., with four out of five Hispanics agreeing. And 77% support the right of employers to have English-only policies, while only 14% are opposed.

But hardball politics practiced by ethnic grievance lobbies is driving assimilation into the dustbin of history. The House Hispanic Caucus withheld its votes from a key bill granting relief on the Alternative Minimum Tax until Ms. Pelosi promised to kill the Salvation Army relief amendment.

Obstructionism also exists on the state level. In California, which in 1998 overwhelmingly passed a measure designed to end bilingual education, the practice still flourishes. Only 29% of Latino students score proficient or better in statewide tests of English skills, so seven school districts have sued the state to stop English-only testing. "We're not testing what they know," is how Chula Vista school chief Lowell Billings justifies his proposed switch to tests in Spanish.

Yet the public is ready for leadership that will forthrightly defend reasonable assimilation. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger won plaudits when he said last June that one way to close the Latino learning divide was "to turn off the Spanish TV set. It's that simple. You've got to learn English." Ruben Navarette, a columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune, agreed, warning that "industries such as native language education or Spanish-language television [create] linguistic cocoons that offer the comfort of a warm bath when what English-learners really need is a cold shower."

But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that last year filed over 200 lawsuits against employers over English-only rules, has a different vision. Its lawsuit against the Salvation Army accuses the organization of discriminating against two employees at its Framingham, Mass., thrift store "on the basis of their national origin." Its crime was to give the employees a year's notice that they should speak English on the job (outside of breaks) and then firing them after they did not. The EEOC sued only four years after a federal judge in Boston, in a separate suit, upheld the Salvation Army's English-only policy as an effort to "promote workplace harmony." Like a house burglar, the EEOC is trying every door in the legal neighborhood until it finds one that's open.
In theory, employers can escape the EEOC's clutches if they can prove their policies are based on grounds of safety or "compelling business necessity." But most companies choose to settle rather than be saddled with the legal bills. Synchro Start Products, a Chicago firm, paid $55,000 to settle an EEOC suit against its English-only policy, which it says it adopted after the use of multiple languages led to miscommunication. When one group of employees speak in a language other workers can't understand, the company said, it's easy for personal misunderstandings to undermine morale. Many companies complain they are in a Catch-22--potentially liable to lawsuits if employees insult each other but facing EEOC action if they pass English-only rules to better supervise those employee comments.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), who authored the now-stalled amendment to prohibit the funding of EEOC lawsuits against English-only rules, is astonished at the opposition he's generated. Rep. Joe Baca (D., Calif.), chair of the Hispanic Caucus, boasted that "there ain't going to be a bill" including the Alexander language because Speaker Pelosi had promised him the conference committee handling the Justice Department's budget would never meet. So Sen. Alexander proposed a compromise, only requiring that Congress be given 30 days notice before the filing of any EEOC lawsuit. "I was turned down flat," he told me. "We are now celebrating diversity at the expense of unity. One way to create that unity is to value, not devalue, our common language, English."

That's what pro-assimilation forces are moving to do. TV Azteca, Mexico's second-largest network, is launching a 60-hour series of English classes on all its U.S. affiliates. It recognizes that teaching English empowers Latinos. "If you live in this country, you have to speak as everybody else," Jose Martin Samano, Azteca's U.S. anchor, told Fox News. "Immigrants here in the U.S. can make up to 50% or 60% more if they speak both English and Spanish. This is something we have to do for our own people."

Azteca isn't alone. Next month, a new group called Our Pledge will be launched. Counting Jeb Bush and former Clinton Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros among its board members, the organization believes absorbing immigrants is "the Sputnik challenge of our era." It will put forward two mutual pledges. It will ask immigrants to learn English, become self-sufficient and pledge allegiance to the U.S. It will ask Americans to provide immigrants help navigating the American system, the chance to eventually become a citizen and an atmosphere of respect.

This is a big challenge, but Our Pledge points out that the U.S. did it before with the Americanization movement of a century ago. It was government led, but the key players were businesses like the Ford Motor Company and nonprofits such as the YMCA, plus an array of churches and neighborhood groups.

The alternative to Americanization is polarization. Already a tenth of the population speaks English poorly or not at all. Almost a quarter of all K-12 students nationwide are children of immigrants living between two worlds. It's time for people of good will to reject both the nativist and anti-assimilation extremists and act. If the federal government spends billions on the Voice of America for overseas audiences and on National Public Radio for upscale U.S. listeners, why not fund a "Radio New America" whose primary focus is to teach English and U.S. customs to new arrivals?
In 1999, President Bill Clinton said "new immigrants have a responsibility to enter the mainstream of American life." Eight years later, Clinton strategists Stan Greenberg and James Carville are warning their fellow Democrats that the frustration with immigrants and their lack of assimilation is creating a climate akin to the anti-welfare attitudes of the 1990s. They point out that 40% of independent voters now cite border security issues as the primary reason for their discontent.

In 1996, Mr. Clinton and a GOP Congress joined together to defuse the welfare issue by ending the federal welfare entitlement. Bold bipartisan action is needed again. With frustration this deep, it's in the interests of both parties not to let matters get out of hand.
25327  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 28, 2007, 08:42:48 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Iranian Announcements and Jockeying for Power

With the world focused on the Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Md., on Tuesday, Iran's rhetoric about a new medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) seemed patently business-as-usual. However, this announcement came on the heels of a statement from Iran's navy about its latest capability expansion. In other words, in quick succession, senior Iranian military officials made a point of unveiling several defense-related developments that, even under normal circumstances, would trouble the rest of the world (and particularly now, as oil flirts with $100 per barrel).

First, Iranian navy commander Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayari said Nov. 24 that the force will receive a new submarine Nov. 28 and has scheduled naval maneuvers in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman for February. During this announcement, Sayari went out of his way to point out that Iran does not plan to close the Strait of Hormuz but is prepared to guard its interests -- essentially reminding the world of Tehran's control over a major transit point through which 20 percent of the world's energy supplies pass. Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar then marked the opening of the Annapolis peace conference with the revelation that Iran's extensive missile program has produced a new MRBM capable of hitting not only Israel but also probably Moscow.

Of course, Najjar provided no evidence to support this claim. And Iran's capability to close the gulf is questionable, though no one doubts that it could make Hormuz a very unpleasant place to be. Iran fields a handful of submarines and a small armada of gun and missile boats; has massive stores of naval mines; and has positioned along the coast the same kind of anti-ship missiles that struck the INS Hanit off Lebanon during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah conflict. Additionally, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman are favorable to submarine operations, and the Strait of Hormuz is tight water for ultra large crude carriers, as well as for U.S. Carrier and Expeditionary Strike Groups.

However, it remains unclear how much of this capacity Iran actually could bring to bear in short order, as well as how much might be taken out in-port by a pre-emptive strike. Ultimately, any such action would incur Washington's immediate and unmitigated wrath; aside from the economic and energy security issues involved in threatening the free flow of one-fifth of the world's oil production, there are elements within the U.S. administration that are just aching for an excuse to bomb Iran back to the Stone Age. Basically, this is a card Tehran wields but has no intention of playing unless severely provoked.

Yet, it is a powerful capability of which to remind the world -- especially the United States. And that is just what Iran needs to do right now: seek out new leverage as the next round of negotiations begins between Tehran and Washington over the future of Iraq.

This is an especially crucial time for Iran. Several positive trends in Iraq unexpectedly have left the United States in a better negotiating position than it has seen for more than a year. Meanwhile, Baghdad and Washington are hammering out agreements behind Iran's back over the future status of U.S. forces in Iraq (read: permanent military bases). In fact, Iraqi Shiite leader Abdel Aziz al-Hakim -- the chief of Iraq's largest Shiite party and a close ally of Tehran -- was in Washington on Tuesday to negotiate just such a long-term bilateral pact.

In other words, the most important negotiations in the region are still those between the United States and Iran, and they are getting serious. Tehran needs to regain its former negotiating position, and fast. Washington is starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

25328  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Footwork y timing en la pelea on: November 28, 2007, 08:30:02 AM
En mi desarollo como peleador (luchador?) con palos, pienso que era un gran avance cuando decidi desarollar mi habilidad de luchar con dos palos.

Aunque un persona pueda pensar que sea logico y obvio que dos palos sean mejor que uno, mi entendimiento es que la gran mayoria de los maestros en las Filipinas prefieren uno.  La logica tiene dos puntos.  Uno es que con dos el cerebro, y por lo cual el cuerpo, esta' dividido en su concentracion-- lo cual resulta en potencia inferior en ambos palos, ademas uno de lo manos esta' de la mano que se llama "debil" (yo prefiero llamarlo el mano "complemntario" pero eso es otra conversacion).

El segundo punto se trata de distancia (range).  Se piensa que con dos, el peleador solo tiene una distancia, la del palo, pero con solo palo uno tiene la distancia del palo y del mano vacio (the "live hand").

Para mi, el segundo tiene poco resonancia. He aqui un gran secreto de las AMF:  si la pelea entra a una distancia corta, abre los dedos de un mano y el palo callera' a la tierra. cheesy  Ahora, continua peleando, con solo palo y mano vivo cheesy

Tratando del primero punto, hay que reconocer la verdad de la posibilidad que la division de concentracion mental entre los dos manos rendira' menos potencia.   Tambien es cierto que para la mayoria de la gente, la mano complementario tiene poca capacidad de pegar con potencia.

Pero en mi opinion, esa analysis falla en su consideracion de otros factores:

a) Si uno solo practica potencia con un lado del cuerpo, a traves de los anos habra' una tendencia a desarollar problemas fisicas basadas en la falta de balance (equilibrio?) del cuerpo que se resulta.  Eso tambien se ve con practicantes de Muay Thai quienes practican la patada de potencia con solo una pierna.  Para evitar ese resultado tan no deseada, hay que entrenar usando la mano (o pierna) complementario en funcion dominante como se entrena la mano naturalmente dominante.  En otras palabras, entrenamiento completo/balanceado resultara' en potencia en la mano complementario aun cuando se usa en funcion dominante.

b) La teoria de las AMF habla mucho de los pasos de pie tri'angular (aqui quiero decir "triangular footwork") pero en los miles de peleas que yo he visto, poco se veia pasos triangular.  Cuando yo reflexionaba sobre eso, lo que se me ocurrio era que una gran parte de la razon era que en muchos pasos de pie triangular, se cambia cual pie este' enfrente; osea si mismo pie y mano esta' enfrente, el paso de pie terminara' con ellos atras  (if one begins with the same foot and hand in front, one will complete the movement with them in the rear).  No estoy diciendo que tenerlos atras sea malo, pero eso es un estudio en si mismo-- lo cual hemos hecho en nuestro materia "Los Triques"-- pero para la gran mayoria de la gente se siente que tener palo y pie atra's es muy vulnerable.  El resultado es que ellos no puedan usar los triangulos que cambian cual lado esta' enfrete.

Entonces lo que se me ocurrio era si yo decidiera luchar con dos palos, yo podria usar los pasos de pie triangulares, los cuales me permitian lograr en mis peleas la aventaja de lograr angulos dominantes. 

Con esa prepacion, yo fui capaz del aprovecharme de las aventajas logicas de dos palos luchando contra uno. Mis oponentes siempre tenian la opcion de usar dos, pero por que no habian hecho la misma preparacion, tipicamente ellos eligieron luchar con uno aunque yo tenia dos.

Esa esperiencia me daba un base mas completo y cuando yo conoci' a Gabe yo tenia la capacitacion para contribuir a su concepto de salir de la linea de atacante, lo cual requiere la habilidad de mover en cualquiera angulo del compas.  Si yo me hubiera limitado a la teoria convencional que un palo es mejor que dos, yo no habria tenido la preparacion para haber podido contribuido.

Tambien posiblemente cabe mencionar aqui que en la teoria de la pistola moderna unos de los maestros, Gabe por ejemplo, comienzan a hablar de la importancia de poder tirar la pistola con la mano complementaria tanto como la mano dominante.

La Aventura continua!
25329  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 28, 2007, 07:25:11 AM
Those are fair points Doug.

It may also be that the Israelis and Palestinians have gone back to pretending to negotiate, that we have gone back to pretending to be an "honest broker", and the Arab governments have agreed to pretend to believe the pretense-- so that the Arab governments can cover their ass with the Arab street as they do business with us.
25330  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 27, 2007, 10:33:33 PM

 Saudi Normalization with Israel Forgotten - David Horovitz
As Arab League foreign ministers and officials were convening for consultations ahead of the Annapolis summit at the Saudi Embassy in Washington on Monday, Israeli journalists were somewhat unceremoniously escorted off the premises. At a press briefing held at the embassy by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, the best I could do was to ask one of the American reporters to put a question on my behalf to Faisal: "What steps are you prepared to take right now toward normalizing ties with Israel?" His answer: "None." Faisal elaborated that the Arab peace plan makes plain that "normalization will come after peace is established." And peace, he went on, entailed full Israeli withdrawal. The Saudi foreign minister also said the Arab presence at Annapolis was not about producing a concerted front against Iran. "We have to worry about Israel first," he said.
    Diplomatic sources have said that the Saudis don't want any contact whatsoever with the Israeli delegation at Annapolis, and therefore the respective delegations will even use different doors to enter the meeting room. (Jerusalem Post)
25331  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Parker on: November 27, 2007, 11:41:25 AM
Woof Cuch:

This is one of those issues that belongs in more than one of our forums.  We've been tracking it over in the Politics & Religion forum at  See posts 222 and 223 for example, but it also belongs here.

Lets leave this thread here because the matter is very important and people some people who participate in this forum may not be aware of the thread in the other forum.

Thanks for posting,
25332  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Men & Women on: November 27, 2007, 11:34:07 AM
New Jersey Court Ruling--She Killed His Son, but
He Must Pay Her Alimony
November 27, 2007
She Killed His Son but He Must Pay Her Alimony

Examples of decent, loving dads being manhandled by the anti-father family law system are legion, but this one has to make the Top 10. A recent New Jersey appeals court reaffirmed a decision mandating that a man must pay alimony to his ex-wife--who killed their son. From Legal tussle: Should killer get alimony? (Bergen Record, 11/22/07):

"A state appeals court on Wednesday refused to automatically bar alimony from spouses who kill a child...The decision was issued in the case of Linda Calbi, who is serving a three-year prison term after pleading guilty to beating her son, Matt, on Aug. 17, 2003, during a violent argument at their home. He died hours later from internal bleeding and cardiac arrest...

"Linda Calbi was originally charged with murder, but the charges were later downgraded to aggravated assault, based on expert reports that medical error contributed significantly to the boy's death. She was sentenced last year to three years in prison and won't be eligible for parole until November 2008.

"The Calbis were divorced in 2001 after 15 years of marriage. A few months after Matt's death, Chris Calbi fell behind on his alimony payments and filed papers in court seeking a reduction or termination of his payment obligations.
"'She took the life of her oldest son, scarred her younger son for the rest of his life, and tore the fabric of my soul from me,' Chris Calbi wrote in papers filed in Superior Court in Hackensack. 'To reward this evil and violent woman by allowing her ... to derive a financial benefit from the family she destroyed ... can only be described as a perversion of our justice system.'"

Chris Calbi had been paying Linda $3,183 a month until her incarceration, and may be saddled with that amount when Linda is paroled. Chris is pictured with his deceased son Matthew and his surviving son Dean above. A few comments:

1) Chris Calbi claimed that Linda abused and assaulted him during their marriage, at times employing a kitchen knife and a hammer. The death of the son is discussed in Typical teen meets a tragic end (Bergen Record, 8/20/03), and Linda Calbi sounds like a real sweetheart:

"As [Christopher Calbi's] company - Robert Christopher Sales - grew, [Christopher] was increasingly away in Europe on business, Linda Calbi said in divorce papers. Though they shared fine dinners, and Christopher Calbi showered his wife with gifts, a physical and emotional distance developed between Matthew's parents, her papers say.

"Linda Calbi said in the papers that she felt like 'a highly paid slave.'

"Christopher Calbi countered that his wife subjected him to 'profanity-laced tirades and ridicule.'"

2) From the same article:

"The couple split in 1999 and - after 15 years of marriage - divorced in July 2001.

"Meanwhile, Matthew was having problems at school, said a woman who worked in the River Vale school system.

"When Matthew was in the special education program at Holdrum Middle School, he regularly came to class with bruises, said the woman, who declined to be identified. The teen always had an excuse for the marks - he was playing with his younger brother, or he fell, the woman said.

"But in April 2002, the woman noticed a strange bruise on Matthew's wrist, one she thought looked like a defensive wound. She asked Matt to explain, but he couldn't, she said, so she called DYFS to report the mark.

"As part of the special education program, Linda Calbi met routinely with educators to review her son's performance.

"But when Calbi showed up, she often smelled of booze, the woman said. 'You could light the air on fire, she smelled so badly,' the woman said.

"Linda could not understand why her son wasn't more successful in school.

"'She was very forceful when she spoke. Nothing was ever her fault, and of course she was at her wit's end,' the woman said."

3) The father now has to raise the surviving son, Dean, age 12, on his own. Is Linda being asked to pay child support? Isn't Chris' ability to provide for Dean negatively impacted by having to pay alimony to the noncustodial parent?

4) Chris also needs to save his money--Linda may be out of prison in less than a year and will be fighting for visitation rights to Dean. In July, 2006, a judge ordered a supervised visitation between Dean and his mother, contingent on the boy's acceptance.

5) Linda apparently received a lesser charge and sentence for her crime because supposedly there was medical bungling by the hospital after she assaulted her son which contributed to Matthew's death. How much of her light sentence is due to the alleged medical bungling and how much is just the standard female sentencing discount is unclear.

6) It's amazing some of the things that an attorney will say. Linda's attorney, Ian Hirsch, said:

"'Mr. Calbi is using his son's death to take away any obligations he has,' Hirsch said. 'I think he's trying to take advantage of a tragedy and turn it around to his economic benefit.'"

Yup--dad not wanting to pay money to the woman who killed his son is "taking advantage of a tragedy and turning it around to his economic benefit." Bad dad--how could he be so rotten?
25333  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: November 27, 2007, 09:01:40 AM
Russian Justice
November 27, 2007; Page A18
Vladimir Putin's not-so-secret political weapon is the courts. The Kremlin's control over the judiciary keeps Russia an illiberal state and comes in handy against Mr. Putin's enemies.

Two new cases again show the Putin legal method at work. A Moscow court on Saturday sentenced Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion who leads a coalition of opposition parties, to five days in prison for leading an "unauthorized" demonstration in the capital the same day. If forced to serve out the term this week, Mr. Kasparov, who was arrested Saturday and remains in jail, would be out of the picture in the lead-up to Sunday's parliamentary elections.

A day earlier, prosecutors indicted one of the last liberal government ministers, Sergei Storchak, on embezzlement and fraud charges. His arrest the previous week fueled speculation about the government's motives -- none of which concerned the merits of the case against the deputy finance minister and chief debt negotiator.

Mr. Storchak, who also helps manage Russia's $148 billion oil windfall fund, seems to be caught in Kremlin crossfire. A prosecutor close to Mr. Putin went after him, suggesting to some that the security services wanted to pressure Mr. Storchak's boss, Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin. Mr. Kudrin had sparred with this important Kremlin faction over the best way to spend the energy billions and was also mentioned among possible successors to Mr. Putin, should the president honor the Constitution and step down next year. In an unusual move, Mr. Kudrin vouched for Mr. Storchak's innocence.

Russia made halting progress in establishing rule of law and an independent judiciary in the years after the Soviet Union's collapse. But Mr. Putin has reversed course. The pivotal event was the Yukos prosecution, when the Kremlin used a tax evasion charge to destroy Russia's richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and its biggest oil company.

Yukos's choicest bits were sold to a state-owned oil company for a song, as part of the Kremlin effort to control Russian energy assets. Mr. Khodorkovsky, a Putin rival, is serving a 10-year sentence in Siberia. In subsequent years, the courts were instrumental in forcing Royal Dutch Shell out of a multibillion dollar energy exploration project and to pressure other international majors.

Russia's beleaguered democratic politicians, denied access to the media and prevented from freely campaigning, are finding no relief from the judiciary. Mr. Kasparov, a contributing editor to these pages, isn't surprised, calling his conviction Saturday "a symbol of what has happened to justice and the rule of law under Putin."

With the decks stacked in favor of the Putin-backed United Russia party, the opposition's only recourse is to take to the streets. Another pro-democracy rally was violently broken up in St. Petersburg on Sunday. About 200 were arrested, including former deputy prime minister and reformist, Boris Nemtsov, who plans to contest the March presidential election. He was later released.

Pliant courts and crooked bureaucrats are almost as old as Russia itself. In its early years, post-Soviet Russia had a chance to build a legal system that could one day become a healthy check on the state. But this promise of liberal society, as so many others, has been torpedoed by Mr. Putin.

25334  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Asia on: November 27, 2007, 08:27:01 AM
India Appeases Radical Islam
November 27, 2007; Page A18

Friday's multiple bomb blasts in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh -- which killed 13 people and injured about 80 -- ought to give pause to those who see the world's largest democracy as a linchpin in the war on terror. India's leaders and diplomats seek to portray the country as a firebreak against radical Islam, or the drive to impose the medieval Arab norms enshrined in Shariah law on 21st century life. In reality, India is ill- equipped to fight this scourge.

Like neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh, (and unlike Turkey or Tunisia) India has failed to modernize much of its Muslim population. Successive generations of politicians have pandered to the most backward elements of India's 150-million strong Muslim population, the second largest in the world after Indonesia's. India has allowed Muslims to follow Shariah in civil matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance. An increasingly radicalized neighborhood, fragmented domestic politics and a curiously timid mainstream discourse on Islam add up to hobble India's response to radical Islamic intimidation.

Most Indian Muslims have nothing to do with terrorism, and are more concerned with the struggles of daily life than the effort to create a global caliphate. Muslim contributions to the fabric of national life -- most visible in sports, movies and the arts -- should not be dismissed. Furthermore, religious zealotry in India is not a Muslim monopoly. Still, the notion that Indian Islam is uniquely tolerant, or somehow immune to the rising tide of world-wide radical sentiment, is a myth.

Last year, Haji Muhammad Yaqoob Qureshi, a minister in the Uttar Pradesh government, publicly offered a $11 million bounty for beheading the Danish cartoonists who had drawn the prophet Mohammed. In high-tech Hyderabad, parts of which are Muslim strongholds, three sitting legislators of a local Islamic party recently roughed up Taslima Nasreen, a Bangladeshi author critical of her country's treatment of its Hindu minority and her faith's treatment of women. Last week, the government of West Bengal state in eastern India had to call in the army to quell Muslim rioters in Calcutta, whose demands included Ms. Nasreen's expulsion from the country.

India's historically weak-kneed response to radical Islamic intimidation only encourages such behavior. In 1988, India was the first country to ban Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses." (Ayatollah Khomeini issued his infamous death sentence on the author only after reading about disturbances in India.) In 1999, after terrorists hijacked an Indian aircraft to then Taliban-controlled Kandahar, New Delhi responded by releasing three prominent Islamic militants from prison in Kashmir. One of them, the British-Pakistani London School of Economics dropout Omar Saeed Sheikh, went on to mastermind the beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. True to form, the authorities have responded to the latest outbreak of violence in Calcutta by bundling off Ms. Nasreen to distant Rajasthan, and from there to Delhi.

As in other democracies -- Britain and Holland to name just two -- a permissive approach toward radical Islam has only made the country more vulnerable to terrorism. In August this year, 42 people died in attacks on a Hyderabad restaurant and an open-air auditorium. Last year, a series of explosions on commuter trains in Bombay killed over 200 people. Two years ago, the Hindu festival of Diwali was rung in with bombs that claimed 62 lives in Delhi.

New Delhi has blamed the attacks on groups such as the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba and Bangladesh's Harkat-ul Jihad-al-Islami. Though much of India's terrorism problem is imported, part of it is homegrown. Instead of reflexively blaming Islamabad, Indians need to ask themselves why foreign terrorists appear to have little trouble recruiting accomplices from India. (The Uttar Pradesh attacks appear to be the work of a previously unknown outfit called Indian Mujahideen.) The bromide about the lack of Indian Muslim involvement in international terrorism, accepted unquestioningly by much of India's liberal intelligentsia, must be called into question after the involvement of Indian doctors in this year's failed attacks in London and Glasgow.

India's experience offers important lessons to other democracies struggling to integrate large Muslim populations. It highlights the folly of attempting to exempt Muslims from universal norms regarding women's rights, freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry. It reveals that democracy alone -- when detached from bedrock democratic principles -- offers no antidote to radical Islamic fervor.

Mr. Dhume is a fellow at the Asia Society in Washington, D.C. "My Friend the Fanatic," his book about the rise of radical Islam in Indonesia, will be published by Melbourne next year.

25335  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Condi's Road to Damascus on: November 27, 2007, 08:02:47 AM
Condi's Road to Damascus
The price America will pay for her Syrian photo-op.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Remember Nancy Pelosi's spring break in Damascus? Condoleezza Rice apparently does not. When the House Speaker paid Syrian strongman Bashar Assad a call back in April, President Bush denounced her for sending "mixed signals" that "lead the Assad government to believe they are part of the mainstream of the international community, when in fact they are a state sponsor of terror." Today, said sponsor of terror will take its place at the table Ms. Rice has set for the Middle Eastern conference at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Only at Foggy Bottom would Syria's last-minute decision to go to Annapolis be considered a diplomatic triumph. The meeting is supposed to inaugurate the resumption of high-level negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, with a view toward finalizing a deal on Palestinian statehood before the administration leaves office. On a deeper plane of geopolitical subtlety, it is supposed to bring Israel and the Arab world together in tacit alliance against Iran.

This raises three significant questions. First, how does Syria's presence at Annapolis affect those goals? Next, how does Syria's presence affect U.S. policy toward Syria? And what effect, if any, will all this have on Syria's behavior in the region?

Much is being made of the fact that, in accepting the administration's invitation, Syria apparently reversed a previous decision, coordinated with Iran, to boycott the conference. This plays into the view that Syria can be persuaded to abandon its 25-year-old ties to Iran and return to the Arab fold, thereby severing the encircling chain that links Tehran to Damascus to southern Lebanon to the Gaza Strip. High-profile ridicule of the conference by Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who called it "useless") and spokesmen for Hezbollah and Hamas add to the impression that Mr. Assad may be prepared to chart an independent course--all for the modest price of the U.S. agreeing (with Israel's consent) to put the issue of the Golan Heights on the conference's agenda.
It really would be something if the Syrian delegation could find their own road to Damascus on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. But that would require something approximating good faith. The Syrians' decision to be represented at Annapolis by their deputy foreign minister--his bosses evidently having more important things to do--is one indication of the lack of it. So is the Assad regime's declaration (via an editorial in state newspaper Teshreen) that their goal at Annapolis is "to foil [Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert's plan to force Arab countries to recognize Israel as a Jewish state." And lest the point hadn't been driven home forcefully enough, the Syrian information minister told Al Jazeera that Syria's attendance would have no effect on its relations with Iran or its role as host to the leadership of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups.

At best, then, Syria will attend Annapolis as a kind of non-malignant observer, lending a gloss of pan-Arab seriousness to the proceedings. At worst, it will be there as a spoiler and unofficial spokesman of Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. If it's clever, it will adopt a policy of studied ambivalence, with just enough positive chemistry to induce the administration into believing it might yet be prepared for a real Volte face, provided the U.S. is also prepared to rewrite its Syria policy. Recent attestations by Gen. David Petraeus, that Damascus is finally policing its border with Iraq to slow the infiltration of jihadis, suggest that's just the game they mean to play.

What price will the U.S. be asked to pay? Contrary to popular belief, recovering the Golan is neither Syria's single nor primary goal; if anything, the regime derives much of its domestic legitimacy by keeping this grievance alive. What's urgently important to Damascus is that the U.N. tribunal investigating the 2005 murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri be derailed, before the extensive evidence implicating Mr. Assad and his cronies becomes a binding legal verdict. No less important to Mr. Assad is that his grip on Lebanese politics be maintained by the selection of a pliant president to replace his former puppet, Emile Lahoud. Syria would also like to resume normal diplomatic relations with the U.S. (which withdrew its ambassador from Damascus after Hariri's killing), not least by the lifting of economic sanctions imposed by the 2003 Syria Accountability Act.

No doubt the Syrians believe the U.S. can deliver on these items: Dictators rarely appreciate the constraints under which democratic governments operate. Yet there is no credible way the U.S. can deliver on the first demand, and only discreditable ways in which it could deliver on the second. The administration may be tempted to re-establish normal diplomatic relations and ease sanctions, which is about as much as it can do. Yet Damascus would view these concessions either as signs of niggardliness or desperation, and hold out for more.

Put simply, there is nothing the U.S. can offer Mr. Assad that would seriously tempt him to alter his behavior in ways that could meaningfully advance U.S. interests or the cause of Mideast peace. Yet the fact that Ms. Rice's Syria policy is now a facsimile of Speaker Pelosi's confirms Mr. Assad's long-held view that he has nothing serious to fear from this administration.
So look out for more aggressive Syrian misbehavior in Lebanon, including the continued arming of Hezbollah; the paralysis of its political process; the assassination of anti-Syrian parliamentarians and journalists; the insertion of Sunni terrorist cells in Palestinian refugee camps, and the outright seizure of Lebanon's eastern hinterlands. Look out, too, for continued cooperation with North Korea on WMD projects: Despite Israel's September attack on an apparent nuclear facility, the AP reports that North Korean technicians are back in Syria, teaching their Arab pupils how to load chemical warheads on ballistic missiles. And don't hold your breath expecting Syria's good behavior on its Iraqi frontier to last much longer.

In the meantime, we have the Annapolis conference, and the one-day photo-op it provides Ms. Rice. In the spirit of giving credit where it's due, the least the Secretary can do is invite the Speaker to the party.

Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.

25336  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: November 27, 2007, 07:57:19 AM
1245 GMT -- IRAN -- Iran has constructed a new missile with a range of 1,240 miles, Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said Nov. 27, media reported. The weapon, named "Ashura," has a long enough range to reach Israel as well as U.S. bases in the Middle East, according to the reports.

25337  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NY Times at it as usual on: November 27, 2007, 07:55:48 AM
Political Journal

Fog in Channel; Continent Cut Off
Australia held an election over the weekend, and voters turned out the Liberal Party (which is on the Australian right) in favor of the left-wing Labor Party. Showing its penchant for Angry Left parochialism, the New York Times headlines the story "Ally of Bush Is Defeated in Australia," and the first and third paragraphs were about America rather than Australia:

Australia's prime minister, John Howard, one of President Bush's staunchest allies in Asia, suffered a comprehensive defeat at the hands of the electorate on Saturday, as his Liberal Party-led coalition lost its majority in Parliament.

He will be replaced by Kevin Rudd, the Labor Party leader and a former diplomat. "Today Australia looks to the future," Mr. Rudd told a cheering crowd in his home state, Queensland. "Today the Australian people have decided that we as a nation will move forward."

Mr. Howard's defeat, after 11 years in power, follows that of José María Aznar of Spain, who also backed the United States-led invasion of Iraq, and political setbacks for Tony Blair, who stepped down as Britain's prime minister in June.

It also followed the victories of pro-American prime ministers in Germany, Canada and France; and the last we heard, Belgium didn't even have a government. But elections in foreign countries are generally not referendums on the American president. The world does not revolve around George W. Bush, even if the world of the Times does.

25338  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine on: November 27, 2007, 06:02:11 AM
I see in the news the NFL player Sean Taylor has died from being shot in the leg.  Apparently the bullet hit the femoral artery and even though ST was taken to the hospital and presumably the best of care applied, he died.  This is similar to the case of the bouncer who was knifed in the leg by a FMA trained person in NYC a few years back.

I know this thread has some people with a good level of understanding reading it and hope that some of them will comment.  Why is it that once someone is at the hospital they simply can't clamp off the femoral?

And what words of wisdom for what we should know?  If a tourniquet is available?  If not?
NY Times
Redskins Star Sean Taylor Dies After Shooting
          MIAMI (AP) -- Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor has died, a day after he was shot at home, said family friend Richard Sharpstein.

He said Taylor's father called him around 5:30 a.m. to tell him the news.

''His father called and said he was with Christ and he cried and thanked me,'' said Sharpstein, Taylor's former lawyer. ''It's a tremendously sad and unnecessary event. He was a wonderful, humble, talented young man, and had a huge life in front of him. Obviously God had other plans.''

He said he did not know exactly when Taylor died.

Doctors had been encouraged late Monday night when Taylor squeezed a nurse's hand. But Sharpstein said he was told Taylor never regained consciousness after being transported to the hospital and that he wasn't sure how he had squeezed the nurse's hand.

''Maybe he was trying to say goodbye or something,'' Sharpstein said.

The 24-year-old Redskins safety was shot early Monday in the upper leg, damaging an artery and causing significant blood loss.

Miami-Dade Police were investigating the attack, which came just eight days after an intruder was reported at Taylor's home. Officers were dispatched about 1:45 a.m. Monday after Taylor's girlfriend called 911. Taylor was airlifted to the hospital.

Sharpstein said Taylor's girlfriend told him the couple was awakened by loud noises, and Taylor grabbed a machete he keeps in the bedroom for protection. Someone then broke through the bedroom door and fired two shots, one missing and one hitting Taylor, Sharpstein said. Taylor's 1-year-old daughter, Jackie, was also in the house at the time, but neither she nor Taylor's girlfriend were injured.

''It could have been a possible burglary; it could have been a possible robbery,'' Miami-Dade Police Lt. Nancy Perez said. ''It has not been confirmed as yet.''

Taylor was shot at the pale yellow house he bought two years ago in the Miami suburb of Palmetto Bay. It came about a week after someone pried open a front window, rifled through drawers and left a kitchen knife on a bed at Taylor's home, according to police.

''They're really sifting through that incident and today's incident,'' Miami-Dade Police Detective Mario Rachid said, ''to see if there's any correlation.''

Taylor starred as a running back and defensive back at Gulliver Preparatory School in Miami. His father, Pedro Taylor, is the police chief of Florida City, Fla.

Teammates and coaches often have portrayed Taylor as misunderstood, and that much was true. A private man with a small inner circle, Taylor became distrustful of reporters and anyone else he didn't know well. He rarely granted interviews, sometimes declining with a smile and a handshake and sometimes with a snarl that said: ''Get out of my way.''

But, behind the scenes, Taylor was described as personable and smart -- an emerging locker room leader.

Especially since the birth of his daughter Jackie.

''From the first day I met him, from then to now, it's just like night and day,'' Redskins receiver James Thrash said. ''He's really got his head on his shoulders and has been doing really well as far as just being a man. It's been awesome to see that growth.''

An All-American at the University of Miami, Taylor was drafted by the Redskins with the fifth overall selection in 2004. Coach Joe Gibbs called it ''one of the most researched things'' he's ever done, but the problems soon began. Taylor fired his agent, then skipped part of the NFL's mandatory rookie symposium, drawing a $25,000 fine. Driving home late from a party during the season, he was pulled over and charged with drunken driving. The case was dismissed in court, but by then it had become a months-long distraction for the team.

Taylor was also fined at least seven times for late hits, uniform violations and other infractions over his first three seasons, including a $17,000 penalty for spitting in the face of Tampa Bay running back Michael Pittman during a playoff game in January 2006.

Meanwhile, Taylor endured a yearlong legal battle after he was accused in 2005 of brandishing a gun at a man during a fight over allegedly stolen all-terrain vehicles near Taylor's home. He eventually pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors and was sentenced to 18 months' probation.

Taylor said the end of the assault case was like ''a gray cloud'' being lifted. It was also around the time that Jackie was born, and teammates noticed a change.

''It's hard to expect a man to grow up overnight,'' said Redskins teammate and close friend Clinton Portis, who also played with Taylor at the University of Miami. ''But ever since he had his child, it was like a new Sean, and everybody around here knew it. He was always smiling, always happy, always talking about his child.''

On the field, Taylor's play was often erratic. Assistant coach Gregg Williams frequently called Taylor the best athlete he's ever coached, but nearly every big play was mitigated by a blown assignment. Taylor led the NFL in missed tackles in 2006 yet made the Pro Bowl because of his reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the league.

This year, however, Taylor was allowed to play a true free safety position, using his speed and power to chase down passes and crush would-be receivers. His five interceptions tie for the league lead in the NFC, even though he missed the last two games because of a sprained knee. Teammates said he had overhauled his diet this year to include more fruit, fish and vegetables and less red meat.

''I just take this job very seriously,'' Taylor said in a rare group interview during training camp. ''It's almost like, you play a kid's game for a king's ransom. And if you don't take it serious enough, eventually one day you're going to say, 'Oh, I could have done this, I could have done that.'

''So I just say, 'I'm healthy right now, I'm going into my fourth year, and why not do the best that I can?' And that's whatever it is, whether it's eating right or training myself right, whether it's studying harder, whatever I can do to better myself.''

His hard work was well-noted.

''He loved football. He felt like that's what he was made to do,'' Gibbs said. ''And I think what I've noticed over the last year and a half ... is he matured. I think his baby had a huge impact on him. There was a real growing up in his life.''
25339  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ron Paul on: November 27, 2007, 05:54:15 AM
The hookers don't bother me, but , , ,

Political Whores
"Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, an underdog Texas congressman with a libertarian streak, has picked up an endorsement from a Nevada brothel owner," the Associated Press reports from Reno:

Dennis Hof, owner of the Moonlite BunnyRanch near Carson City, said he was so impressed after hearing Paul at a campaign stop in Reno last week that he decided to raise money for him.

"I'll get all the (working girls) together, and we can raise him some money," Hof told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "I'll put up a collection box outside the door. They can drop in $1, $5 contributions."

The Wall Street Journal reports on some of Paul's other backers:

The Paul campaign has also drawn support from antigovernment fringe groups and 9/11 conspiracy theorists. Since mid-September, a large "Ron Paul for President" banner has flashed at the bottom of white-supremacist Internet forum "Really, we haven't seen a candidate like Ron Paul in some time. The closest would have been Pat Buchanan" in 2000, says Don Black of West Palm Beach, Fla., the group's founder and a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, who donated $500 to Mr. Paul's campaign.

It's enough to give the Moonlite BunnyRanch a bad name.
25340  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / In search of defeat on: November 27, 2007, 05:45:38 AM
Success Is Not an Option--I
Whoops! "As violence declines in Baghdad, the leading Democratic presidential candidates are undertaking a new and challenging balancing act on Iraq," the New York Times reports. Having bet against American success in the hope of benefiting from failure, they are now hedging, "acknowledging that success, trying to shift the focus to the lack of political progress there, and highlighting more domestic concerns like health care and the economy."

The trouble is, many Democratic voters still want America to lose in Iraq. As the Times notes:

This is a delicate matter. By saying the effects of the troop escalation have not led to a healthier political environment, the candidates are tacitly acknowledging that the additional troops have, in fact, made a difference on the ground--a viewpoint many Democratic voters might not embrace.

"Our troops are the best in the world; if you increase their numbers they are going to make a difference," Mrs. Clinton said in a statement after her aides were asked about her views on the ebbing violence in Baghdad.

"The fundamental point here is that the purpose of the surge was to create space for political reconciliation and that has not happened, and there is no indication that it is going to happen, or that the Iraqis will meet the political benchmarks," she said. "We need to stop refereeing their civil war and start getting out of it."

Mrs. Clinton has never had any objection in principle to the Iraq war, which she voted to authorize five years ago. Yet for reasons of rank political opportunism, she now stands for the proposition that America must not win. Is this the kind of leadership America needs in a commander in chief?

Meanwhile, Reuters reports the Dems have found a military spokesman for their Iraq policy, such as it is:

The general who led U.S. forces in Iraq after the invasion . . . spoke out for Democrats on Saturday, backing legislation aimed at withdrawing American troops.

Retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, in the Democratic weekly radio address, acknowledged that Bush's escalation strategy this year had improved security in Iraq. But he said Iraqi political leaders had failed to make "hard choices necessary to bring peace to their country." . . .

"It is well past time to adopt a new approach in Iraq that will improve chances to produce stability in the Middle East," he said. "I urge our political leaders to put aside partisan considerations and unite to lessen the burden our troops and their families have been under for nearly five years."

Apparently it didn't occur to Sanchez that the Democratic weekly radio address isn't the best venue to urge people to "put aside partisan considerations."

Reuters notes that Sanchez "commanded the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq from June 2003 until July 2004 as the anti-U.S. insurgency took hold," that he "blamed the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal for wrecking his career," and that last month (as we also noted) he "blamed the Bush administration for a 'catastrophic failure' in leadership of the war."

Whatever the merits of his arguments, Sanchez is far from a disinterested party. He is seeking to avoid blame for the failures in Iraq under his command. Which, come to think of it, makes him quite the fitting spokesman for the Democrats.

Political Journal/WSJ
25341  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton: The National Government on: November 27, 2007, 05:16:31 AM
"I am persuaded that a firm union is as necessary to perpetuate
our liberties as it is to make us respectable; and experience will
probably prove that the National Government will be as natural
a guardian of our freedom as the State Legislatures."

-- Alexander Hamilton (speech to the New York Ratifying Convention,
June 1788)
25342  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: November 26, 2007, 10:29:30 PM
22 Ways To Be A Good Democrat THIS IS NOT SO HARD -- EVEN A CAVE MAN CAN DO IT....

1. You have to be against capital punishment, but support abortion on demand.

2. You have to believe that businesses create oppression and governments create prosperity.

3. You have to believe that guns in the hands of law-abiding Americans are more of a threat than U.S. Nuclear weapons technology in the hands of Chinese and North Korean communists.

4. You have to believe that there was no art before Federal funding.

5. You have to believe that global temperatures are less affected by cyclical documented changes in the earth's climate and more affected by soccer moms driving SUV's.

6. You have to believe that gender roles are artificial but being homosexual is natural.

7. You have to believe that the AIDS virus is spread by a lack of federal funding.

8. You have to believe that the same teacher who can't teach fourth graders how to read is somehow qualified to teach those same kids about sex.

9. You have to believe that hunters don't care about nature, but loony activists who have never been outside of San Francisco do.

10. You have to believe that self-esteem is more important than actually doing something to earn it.

11. You have to believe that Mel Gibson spent $25 million of his own money to make "The Passion of the Christ" for financial gain only.

12. You have to believe the NRA is bad because it supports certain parts of the Constitution, while the ACLU is good because it supports certain parts of the Constitution.

13. You have to believe that taxes are too low, but ATM fees are too high.

14. You have to believe that Margaret Sanger and Gloria Steinem are more important to American history than Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison, and A.G. Bell.

15. You have to believe that standardized tests are racist, but racial quotas and set-asides are not.

16. You have to believe that Hillary Clinton is normal and is a very nice person.

17. You have to believe that the only reason socialism hasn't worked anywhere it's been tried is because the right people haven't been in charge.

18. You have to believe conservatives telling the truth belong in jail, but a liar and a sex offender belonged in the White House.

19. You have to believe that homosexual parades displaying drag, transvestites, and bestiality should be constitutionally protected, and manger scenes at Christmas should be illegal.

20. You have to believe that illegal Democrat Party funding by the Chinese Government is somehow in the best interest to the United States .

21. You have to believe that this message is a part of a vast, right wing conspiracy.

22. You have to believe that it's okay to give Federal workers the day off on Christmas Day but it's not okay to say "Merry Christmas."
25343  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cyborgs on: November 26, 2007, 09:26:54 PM
25344  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: November 26, 2007, 06:07:21 PM
British Teacher Faces 40 Lashes for Naming Class Teddy Bear 'Muhammad'
Monday, November 26, 2007

A British primary school teacher arrested in Sudan faces up to 40 lashes for blasphemy after letting her class of 7-year-olds name a teddy bear Muhammad.

Gillian Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, was arrested at at Khartoum's Unity High School yesterday, and accused of insulting the Prophet of Islam.

Her colleagues said that they feared for her safety after reports that groups of young men had gathered outside the Khartoum police station where she was taken and were shouting death threats.

The Unity school is a Christian-run but multi-racial and co-educational private school that is popular with Sudanese professionals and expatriate workers.

Bishop Ezekiel Kondo, chairman of the school council, told The Times that the school was in dispute with authorities over taxes, and suggested that Gibbons, who arrived in Khartoum in August, may have been caught up in that.

"The thing may be very simple but there are people who are trying to make it bigger. It's a kind of blackmail," he said.

Teachers at the school, in central Khartoum, a mile from the Nile River, said that Gibbons had made an innocent mistake by letting her pupils choose their favorite name for the toy as part of a school project.

Robert Boulos, the Unity director, said Gibbons was following a British National Curriculum course designed to teach young pupils about animals and their habitats. This year’s animal was the bear.

In September, she asked a girl to bring in her teddy bear to help the class focus and then asked the children to name the toy.

“They came up with eight names including Abdullah, Hassan and Muhammad. Then she explained what it meant to vote and asked them to choose the name,” Boulos said.

Twenty out of the 23 children chose Muhammad. Each child was allowed to take the bear home for weekends and asked to keep a diary about what they did with the toy. Each entry was collected in a book with a picture of the bear on the cover, next to the message "My name is Muhammad."

Boulos said that the bear itself was not marked or labeled with the name in any way, adding that Sudanese police had now seized the book and asked to interview the 7-year-old girl who brought in the bear.

He said that he had decided to close down the school until January for fear of reprisals in Sudan’s predominantly Muslim capital.

“This is a very sensitive issue. We are very worried about her safety,” he said. “This was a completely innocent mistake. Ms. Gibbons would have never wanted to insult Islam.”

The British Embassy in Khartoum said that it was still unclear whether Gibbons had been charged formally. “We are following it up with the authorities and trying to meet her in person,” it said.

Under Sudan's Sharia law, blasphemy could attract a large fine, 40 lashes or a jail term of up to six months.,2933,312895,00.html
25345  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: November 26, 2007, 05:50:22 PM
Let the Howl Go Forth!

Lonely Dog and Cornelia have been blessed with a daughter, Naira Luna (I'm guessing at the spelling) cool

Crafty Dog
25346  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: November 26, 2007, 02:41:14 PM
The Holodomor
November 26, 2007


Seventy-five years ago the Ukrainian people fell victim to a crime of unimaginable horror. Usually referred to in the West as the Great Famine or the Terror Famine, it is known to Ukrainians as the Holodomor. It was a state-organized program of mass starvation that in 1932-33 killed an estimated seven million to 10 million Ukrainians, including up to a third of the nation's children. With grotesque understatement the Soviet authorities dismissed this event as a "bad harvest." Their intention was to exonerate themselves of responsibility and suppress knowledge of both the human causes and human consequences of this tragedy. That is reason enough for us to pause and remember.

During the long decades of Soviet rule it was dangerous for Ukrainians to discuss their greatest national trauma. To talk of the Holodomor was a crime against the state, while the memoirs of eyewitnesses and the accounts of historians like Robert Conquest and the late James Mace were banned as anti-Soviet propaganda. Yet each Ukrainian family knew from bitter personal memory the enormity of what had happened. They also knew that it had been inflicted on them deliberately to punish Ukraine and destroy the basis of its nationhood. It is to honor the victims and serve the cause of historical truth that independent Ukraine is today working to promote greater understanding and recognition of the Holodomor, both at home and abroad.

We are not doing so out of a desire for revenge or to make a partisan political point. We know that the Russian people were among Stalin's foremost victims. Apportioning blame to their living descendents is the last thing on our minds. Our only wish is for this crime to be understood for what it truly was. That is why the Ukrainian Parliament last year passed a law recognizing the Holodomor as an act of genocide and why I am asking our friends and allies to endorse that position. A world that indulges historical amnesia or falsification is condemned to repeat its worst mistakes.

Genocide is a highly charged term, and there are those who still dispute its applicability in the case of Ukraine. It is therefore worth looking at how the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention legally defines the issue. It describes genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group" including "deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part." The Holodomor falls squarely within the terms of this definition. Significantly, that was also the opinion of Raphael Lemkin, the legal scholar who conceived the Genocide Convention.

There is now a wealth of historical material detailing the specific features of Stalin's forced collectivization and terror famine policies against Ukraine. Other parts of the Soviet Union suffered terribly as well. But in the minds of the Soviet leadership there was a dual purpose in persecuting and starving the Ukrainian peasantry. It was part of a campaign to crush Ukraine's national identity and its desire for self-determination. As Stalin put it a few years earlier: "There is no powerful national movement without the peasant essence, the national question is a peasant question." In seeking to reverse the policy of "Ukrainianization" that promoted limited cultural and political autonomy during the 1920s, Stalin decided to target the peasantry, representing as it did 80% of the population. His solution to the national question in Ukraine was mass murder through starvation.

Stalin's cruel methods included the allocation of astronomic grain requisition quotas that were impossible to meet and which left nothing for the local population to eat. When the quotas were missed, armed units were sent in. Toward the end of 1932, entire villages and regions were turned into a system of isolated starvation ghettos called "black boards." Throughout this period, the Soviet Union continued to export grain to the West and even used grain to produce alcohol. By early 1933, the Soviet leadership decided to radically reinforce the blockade of Ukrainian villages. Eventually, the whole territory of Ukraine was surrounded by armed forces, turning the entire country into a vast death camp.

The specifically national motive behind Stalin's treatment of Ukraine was also evident in the terror campaign that targeted the institutions and individuals that sustained the cultural and public life of the Ukrainian nation. Waves of purges engulfed academic institutions, literary journals, publishing houses and theaters. Victims included the Ukrainian Academy of Science, the editorial board of the Soviet Ukrainian Encyclopedia, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and ultimately the Ukrainian Communist Party. This was a systematic campaign against the Ukrainian nation, its history, culture, language and way of life.

The Holodomor was an act of genocide designed to suppress the Ukrainian nation. The fact that it failed and Ukraine today exists as a proud and independent nation does nothing to lessen the gravity of this crime. Nor does it acquit us of the moral responsibility to acknowledge what was done. On the 75th anniversary, we owe it to the victims of the Holodomor and other genocides to be truthful in facing up to the past.

Mr. Yushchenko is Ukraine's president.

25347  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mexican Truck Stop on: November 26, 2007, 02:39:10 PM

Mexican Truck Stop
November 26, 2007; Page A20

It's hard to say who came out on top in the Nov. 15 debate among Democratic presidential candidates held in Nevada. But we do know that free trade took a beating. A majority of the candidates disapproved of some or all of the U.S. bilateral and regional trade agreements -- including the North American Free Trade Agreement -- and pledged to reverse the trend toward market opening if given the chance. Hillary Clinton stopped short of promising to undo Nafta but she called for a "trade timeout."

It is troubling to hear the protectionist drumbeat growing louder in the Democratic Party, particularly as it concerns Latin America. The last time Washington adopted an anti-trade bias by signing into law the Smoot-Hawley tariffs in 1930, it set off a world-wide depression -- and a period of isolationism in Latin America that took some 60 years to begin to reverse. Now Democrats seem to be saying that if they can only capture the White House, they are committed to reliving this painful history.

The Democrats' anti-trade agenda is already playing out in Congress, with both houses continuing to block the full opening of the southern border to Mexican long-haul trucks under Nafta. Congress's actions could damage the U.S. economy because Mexico has the legal right to retaliate. What's worse is what this flouting of U.S. commitments to Mexico suggests to the Mexican people about Yankee integrity.

The problem dates back to 1995, when Bill Clinton issued an executive order -- in violation of Nafta, which he had signed into law -- to stop Mexican long-haul trucks from crossing the border. Mr. Clinton was responding to pressure from Teamsters, who didn't want any new competition. He cited safety concerns -- things like substandard drivers and vehicles -- which to this day have never been supported by evidence.

In fact, Mexican trucking companies have a long history of operating in the U.S. and with no notably inferior safety record. Yet their numbers have been limited since 1982, when the Reagan administration announced that until Mexico opened its markets to U.S. competitors, no new licenses would be granted to Mexican carriers. Existing Mexican long-haul trucking businesses had their permits grandfathered, and from 1992-2002 some 1,300 Mexican-domiciled companies -- all of which were majority U.S.-owned -- received "certificates of registration" to deliver "exempt commodities" from Mexico to the U.S.

In other words, there have been plenty of Mexican trucks on U.S. roads all these years -- although not as many as there might be under Nafta. Nevertheless, in a 2002 appropriations bill Congress demanded that they be subject to a new set of safety regulations, some of which are more stringent than U.S. standards. Since that year, the Department of Transportation's Inspector General has audited the safety process at the border annually and has been able to certify that it is working. Mexican carriers are also more heavily insured than their U.S. competitors. Every Mexican truck is required to carry U.S. insurance on top of the insurance it carries in Mexico.

Earlier this year, the DOT analyzed the safety record of Mexican carriers in the U.S. from 2003-2006. It looked at the rate in which trucks received an "out-of-service" designation by DOT inspectors targeting companies with the worst records. The out-of-service rate for U.S. trucks was 23.5%, compared to a rate for trucks from Mexico of 21.29%. Mexican short-haul trucks operating in the border zone also had a better record than the U.S. trucks, with an out-of-service rate of 22.5%.

These statistics ought to be enough to end the debate. But with Teamster pull still strong in Congress, the Bush administration this year offered to introduce a pilot program to allow a limited number of new trucking companies to begin doing business in the U.S. under close DOT scrutiny. The program kicked off on Sept. 6, and there are now seven Mexican companies operating 44 vehicles in the U.S. and four U.S. companies operating 41 vehicles in Mexico. You'd think that those with safety worries would be glad to see such a vigilant approach to the problem. But just after the program started, both the House and the Senate voted to strip its funding in the 2008 budget.

It's not clear whether this budget cut will be sustained. But the effort makes it obvious that Congress is no honest broker. As John Hill, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, told me last week: "Every time we move closer to implementing the provisions of Nafta, Congress adds a new provision. It's hard to hit a moving target."

Mr. Hill also challenges the charge that Mexican trucks are not safe. "We've applied strong enforcement guidelines and Mexico has met them. The opponents of Nafta are looking for any way they can find to drum up fear among Americans, even though Mexican trucks have been operating safely in this country for years."

Mexico doesn't have to sit still for this. In February 2001, a Nafta arbitration panel issued a unanimous decision against the U.S. block on Mexican long-haul trucks. Mexico could retaliate with import tariffs on U.S. goods to the tune of $2 billion. In the Nov. 20 issue of the Latin American business magazine Poder y Negocios, Mexican Secretary of Communications and Transportation Luis Tellez said that his country has not ruled out that possibility.

He also expressed frustration with Congress: "The problem is that the Congress is no longer in the frame of mind in which it sees Nafta as something important or something that the U.S. government has to comply with." There are those in Congress, he said, who don't have a clear idea of what Nafta is and others who don't want to "lose points and Teamster support."

During the free trade bashing in Nevada, Mrs. Clinton said that instead of signing new agreements, we "need to get back to enforcing the ones we have, which the Bush administration has not done." When it comes to Nafta and the Mexican trucks we can all agree on the first part of that statement, but the fault lies with Congress, not the president.
25348  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 26, 2007, 02:36:08 PM
On the Jewish Question
November 26, 2007; Page A21

Herewith some thoughts about tomorrow's Annapolis peace conference, and the larger problem of how to approach the Israel-Palestine conflict. The first question (one might think it is obvious but apparently not) is, "What is the conflict about?" There are basically two possibilities: that it is about the size of Israel, or about its existence.

If the issue is about the size of Israel, then we have a straightforward border problem, like Alsace-Lorraine or Texas. That is to say, not easy, but possible to solve in the long run, and to live with in the meantime.

If, on the other hand, the issue is the existence of Israel, then clearly it is insoluble by negotiation. There is no compromise position between existing and not existing, and no conceivable government of Israel is going to negotiate on whether that country should or should not exist.

PLO and other Palestinian spokesmen have, from time to time, given formal indications of recognition of Israel in their diplomatic discourse in foreign languages. But that's not the message delivered at home in Arabic, in everything from primary school textbooks to political speeches and religious sermons. Here the terms used in Arabic denote, not the end of hostilities, but an armistice or truce, until such time that the war against Israel can be resumed with better prospects for success. Without genuine acceptance of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish State, as the more than 20 members of the Arab League exist as Arab States, or the much larger number of members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference exist as Islamic states, peace cannot be negotiated.

A good example of how this problem affects negotiation is the much-discussed refugee question. During the fighting in 1947-1948, about three-fourths of a million Arabs fled or were driven (both are true in different places) from Israel and found refuge in the neighboring Arab countries. In the same period and after, a slightly greater number of Jews fled or were driven from Arab countries, first from the Arab-controlled part of mandatory Palestine (where not a single Jew was permitted to remain), then from the Arab countries where they and their ancestors had lived for centuries, or in some places for millennia. Most Jewish refugees found their way to Israel.

What happened was thus, in effect, an exchange of populations not unlike that which took place in the Indian subcontinent in the previous year, when British India was split into India and Pakistan. Millions of refugees fled or were driven both ways -- Hindus and others from Pakistan to India, Muslims from India to Pakistan. Another example was Eastern Europe at the end of World War II, when the Soviets annexed a large piece of eastern Poland and compensated the Poles with a slice of eastern Germany. This too led to a massive refugee movement -- Poles fled or were driven from the Soviet Union into Poland, Germans fled or were driven from Poland into Germany.

The Poles and the Germans, the Hindus and the Muslims, the Jewish refugees from Arab lands, all were resettled in their new homes and accorded the normal rights of citizenship. More remarkably, this was done without international aid. The one exception was the Palestinian Arabs in neighboring Arab countries.

The government of Jordan granted Palestinian Arabs a form of citizenship, but kept them in refugee camps. In the other Arab countries, they were and remained stateless aliens without rights or opportunities, maintained by U.N. funding. Paradoxically, if a Palestinian fled to Britain or America, he was eligible for naturalization after five years, and his locally-born children were citizens by birth. If he went to Syria, Lebanon or Iraq, he and his descendants remained stateless, now entering the fourth or fifth generation.

The reason for this has been stated by various Arab spokesmen. It is the need to preserve the Palestinians as a separate entity until the time when they will return and reclaim the whole of Palestine; that is to say, all of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Israel. The demand for the "return" of the refugees, in other words, means the destruction of Israel. This is highly unlikely to be approved by any Israeli government.

There are signs of change in some Arab circles, of a willingness to accept Israel and even to see the possibility of a positive Israeli contribution to the public life of the region. But such opinions are only furtively expressed. Sometimes, those who dare to express them are jailed or worse. These opinions have as yet little or no impact on the leadership.

Which brings us back to the Annapolis summit. If the issue is not the size of Israel, but its existence, negotiations are foredoomed. And in light of the past record, it is clear that is and will remain the issue, until the Arab leadership either achieves or renounces its purpose -- to destroy Israel. Both seem equally unlikely for the time being.

Mr. Lewis, professor emeritus at Princeton, is the author, most recently, of "From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East" (Oxford University Press, 2004).
25349  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: November 26, 2007, 02:29:05 PM
The Wolverine Primary
Michigan's early vote is good news for George Romney's son and Bill Clinton's wife.

Monday, November 26, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

What if we look back on the 2008 presidential nomination contests and conclude one or both were effectively decided by a single vote--and among a group of judges at that?

Democratic partisans still argue that the 2000 presidential contest was decided by a single vote in the U.S. Supreme Court, even though media recounts of Florida ballots showed that the outcome would not have been changed if Bush v. Gore had gone the other way. But there's no doubt that a 4-3 ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court last Wednesday saved that state's Jan. 15 presidential primary, which was in danger of being scrapped over a dispute about whether it adhered to the state constitution. The winners are likely to be Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton

Mr. Romney pushed hard for an early primary because he has a natural advantage in Michigan. He was born in Detroit, and elderly voters still fondly remember George Romney, his father, who served as governor in the 1960s. Mr. Romney is counting on winning Iowa on Jan. 3--he has more paid workers there than all the other GOP candidates put together--and he plans to use his advantage as a former governor of next-door Massachusetts to win New Hampshire's Jan. 8 primary. Winning Michigan would then give Mr. Romney three straight victories before the critical Jan. 19 South Carolina primary.

Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton is for now the only leading Democratic candidate to appear on Michigan's ballot. The other top-tier contenders withdrew, following the guidance of the Democratic National Committee, which is threatening to take away Michigan's delegates because it is scheduling a primary against the party's rules. But few observers believe the state will actually be stripped of its delegates in the end, so if she remains the only significant name on the ballot, Mrs. Clinton may pick up some momentum, a publicity bounce and some delegates to boot by exerting almost no effort.

Democratic National Committee member Debbie Dingell, wife of Rep. John Dingell, will try to persuade the state Legislature to amend the primary law to restore the names of Barack Obama, John Edwards, Joe Biden and Bill Richardson. But that could be a tough sell given that Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, the state's top elections officer, says the primary is already well behind schedule and any further delay will make it impossible to get absentee ballots out.

John McCain could also benefit from the Michigan primary should he do well enough in New Hampshire to remain viable. Michigan has no party registration, and in 2000 the votes of independents and Democrats helped Mr. McCain crush George W. Bush in Michigan's primary. Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson are less likely to be able to capitalize on the Michigan primary because they have not built large grass-roots organizations in the state. Similarly, Mike Huckabee has not spent any significant time or money in the Wolverine State.

In allowing the primary to go forward, Michigan's high court overturned two rulings that had held that it would be unconstitutional because the two major political parties would have exclusive access to the list of those who voted in the primary. The Supreme Court, using dubious reasoning, said the public's interest in having open primaries as opposed to conventions of party activists outweighed the need to provide equal access to what are clearly public records. It sided with those who wanted publicity for the state over those who wanted public disclosure. (The law setting the primary had a "nonseverability" clause, so that the courts could not order the vote to go forward in compliance with disclosure laws.)
Michigan has now shaken up the primary calendar in a fundamental way. Among Democrats, look for Mrs. Clinton's rivals to work behind the scenes to get their names on the Michigan ballot, whether or not delegates are at stake. Media coverage has become the true currency of politics, and no Democratic opponent of Mrs. Clinton wants to hand her an uncontested victory.

Among Republicans, the pressure will be for Mitt Romney to win Iowa and New Hampshire. He is saturating Iowa with mail and ads and is currently spending $200,000 a week on ads on New Hampshire's ABC affiliate. If he wins both, he will then try for a triple slam with Michigan. Rudy Giuliani, who is trailing badly in Iowa, may now have to focus on winning New Hampshire to avoid giving Mr. Romney a clean sweep in the early states. The pressure on Messrs. McCain and Thompson to poll well somewhere is now more intense.

Iowa and New Hampshire are often said to be the launching pads for successful presidential nominees. This year Michigan may rival them in importance.

25350  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama is right on Iran on: November 26, 2007, 11:19:03 AM
Obama Is Right on Iran
Talking with Tehran may help us wage the wars we need to fight.
Monday, November 26, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

After a recent Democratic presidential debate, Barack Obama proclaimed that were he to become president, he would talk directly even to America's worst enemies. One could imagine President Obama as a kind of superhero taking off in Air Force One for Tehran, there to be greeted on the tarmac by the villainous Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Was this a serious foreign policy proposal or simply a campaign counterpunch? Hillary Clinton had already held up this idea as evidence of Mr. Obama's naiveté. Wasn't he just pushing back, displaying his commitment to "diplomacy"--now the most glamorous word in the Democratic "antiwar" lexicon?

Whatever Mr. Obama's intent, history has given his idea a rather bad reputation. Neville Chamberlain springs to mind as a man who was famously seduced into the wishful thinking that seems central to the idea of talking to one's enemies. Today few Americans--left or right--would be comfortable with direct talks between our president and a character like Mr. Ahmadinejad. Wouldn't such talk only puff up extremist leaders and make America into a supplicant?

On its face, Mr. Obama's idea seems little more than a far-left fantasy. But perhaps it looks this way because we are viewing it through too narrow a conception of warfare. We tend to think of our wars as miniature versions of World War II, a war of national survival. But since then we have fought wars in which our national survival was not immediately, or even remotely, at stake. We have fought wars in distant lands for rather abstract reasons, and there has been the feeling that these were essentially wars of choice: We could win or lose without jeopardizing our nation's survival.

Mr. Obama's idea clearly makes no sense in a context of national survival. It would have been absurd for President Roosevelt to fly to Berlin and talk to Hitler. But Mr. Obama's idea does make sense in the buildup to wars where survival is not at risk--wars that are more a matter of urgent choice than of absolute necessity.

I think of such wars as essentially wars of discipline. Their purpose is to preserve a favorable balance of power that is already in place in the world. We fight these wars not to survive but--once a menace has arisen--to discipline the world back into a balance of power that best ensures peace. We fight as enforcers rather than as rebels or as patriots fighting for survival. Wars of discipline are pre-emptive by definition. They pre-empt menace to the peaceful world order. We don't sacrifice blood and treasure for change; we sacrifice for constancy.

Conversely, in wars of survival, like World War II, we fight to achieve a favorable balance of power--one in which a peace is established that guarantees our sovereignty and survival. We fight unapologetically for dominance, and we determine to defeat our enemy by any means necessary. We do not harry ourselves much over the style of warfare--whether the locals like us, where the line between interrogation and torture might lie, whether or not we are solicitous of our captive's religious beliefs or dietary strictures. There is no feeling in society that we can afford to lose these wars. And so we never have.

All this points to one of the great foreign policy dilemmas of our time: In the eyes of many around the world, and many Americans as well, we lack the moral authority to fight the wars that we actually fight because they are wars more of discipline than of survival, more of choice than of necessity. It is hard to equate the disciplining of a pre-existing world order--a status quo--with fighting for one's life. When survival is at stake, there is no lack of moral authority, no self-doubt and no antiwar movement of any consequence. But when war is not immediately related to survival, when a society is fundamentally secure and yet goes to war anyway, moral authority becomes a profound problem. Suddenly such a society is drawn into a struggle for moral authority that is every bit as intense as its struggle for military victory.
America does not do so well in its disciplinary wars (the Gulf War is an arguable exception) because we begin these wars with only a marginal moral authority and then, as time passes, even this meager store of moral capital bleeds away. Inevitably, into this vacuum comes a clamorous and sanctimonious antiwar movement that sets the bar for American moral authority so high that we must virtually lose the war in order to meet it. There must be no torture, no collateral damage, no cultural insensitivity, no mistreatment of prisoners and no truly aggressive or definitive display of American military power. In other words, no victory.

Meanwhile our enemy is fighting all out to achieve a new balance of power. As we anguish over the possibility of collateral damage, this enemy practices collateral damage as a tactic of war. In Iraq, al Qaeda blows up women and children simply to keep alive the chaos of war that gives it cover. This enemy's sense of moral authority--as misguided as it may be--is so strong that it compensates for its lack of sophisticated military hardware.

On the other hand, our great military might is not enough to compensate for our weak sense of moral authority, our ambivalence. If we have the greatest military in history, it is also true that we lack our enemy's talent for true belief. Our rationale for war is difficult to articulate, always arguable, and distinctly removed from immediate necessity. Our society is deeply divided and there is a vigorous antiwar movement ready to capitalize on our every military setback.

This is the pattern of disciplinary wars: Their execution is always undermined by their inbuilt lack of moral authority. In the end, our might neutralizes our might. Our vast power makes all such wars come off as bullying, even when we fight selflessly for the freedom of others.

Great power scares unless it is exercised within a painstaking moral framework. Thus, moral authority is the single greatest challenge of American foreign policy. This is especially so in wars of discipline, wars fought far away and for abstract reasons. We argue for such wars as if they were wars of survival because we want the moral authority that comes so automatically to them. But Iraq is a war of discipline, and no more. If we left Iraq tomorrow there would be terrible consequences all around, but we would survive.

Our broader war against terror, on the other hand, is a war of survival. And it is rich in moral authority. September 11 introduced necessity and, in its name, we have an open license to destroy that stateless network of terrorism that attacked us. America is not divided over this. It was Iraq--a war of discipline--that brought us division. This does not mean that the Iraq war is invalid. Ultimately, it may prove to be a far more important war in preserving a balance of power favorable to America than our war against al Qaeda.

The point is that wars of discipline will always have to be self-consciously fought on a moral as well as a military front. And the more we engage the moral struggle, the more license we will have to fight these wars as wars of survival. In other words, our military effectiveness now requires nothing less than a smart and daring brinkmanship of moral authority.

If Mr. Obama's idea was born of mushy idealism, it could work far better as a hard-nosed moral brinkmanship. Were an American president (or a secretary of state for the less daring) to land in Tehran, the risk to American prestige would be enormous. The mullahs would make us characters in a tale of their own grandeur. Yet moral authority would redound to us precisely for making ourselves vulnerable to this kind of exploitation. The world would witness not the stereotype of American bullying, but the reality of American selflessness, courage and moral confidence.
If we were snubbed, if all our entreaties to peace were flouted, if war became inevitable, then we would have the moral authority to fight as if for survival. Either our high-risk diplomacy works or we have the license to fight to win. In the meantime, we give our allies around the world every reason to respect us.

This is not an argument for Mr. Obama's candidacy, only for his idea. It is a good one because it allows America the advantage of its own great character.

Mr. Steele, a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, is the author, most recently, of "A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win," published next week by Free Press.

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