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25301  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: November 21, 2007, 06:54:43 PM
CAIR Secretly Meets with Top Dem to Change Un-Indicted Co-Conspirator Designation
CAIR seeks removal of label in terrorism case
By Bill Gertz
November 21, 2007


House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. has been asked by a Muslim group to pressure the Justice Department on its behalf. (Getty Images)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Council on American-Islamic Relations is seeking help from House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. to pressure the Justice Department to change the group's status as a co-conspirator in a terrorism case.

CAIR officials recently met with Mr. Conyers, Michigan Democrat, and then wrote a letter asking him to lobby the new attorney general on behalf of the group, and to hold hearings.

CAIR is among several hundred Muslim groups listed as unindicted co-conspirators in a recent federal terrorism trial in Dallas into activities by the Holy Land Foundation Inc., a group linked to funding the Palestinian Hamas terrorist group. The trial recently ended in a mistrial and prosecutors have said they plan to re-try the case.  Despite its uncertain outcome, the trial has produced a large amount of information and evidence identifying U.S. and foreign groups sympathetic to or direct supporters of international Islamist terrorists.  A 1991 internal memorandum from the radical Muslim Brotherhood identified 29 front groups, including the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), that are part of a covert program by the Brotherhood in the United States to subvert American society.

CAIR officials have requested that Mr. Conyers ask the Justice Department to explain why it publicly identified the 306 co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation trial.

"Those on the list suffer negatively as a result of the label 'unindicted co-conspirator' as it impresses upon the typical member of the American public that those listed are involved in criminal activity," the group said in a letter to Mr. Conyers. "In reality, those so named have neither been charged with a crime nor offered any recourse for challenging the allegation."

The group said the conspirator designation is being used by counterterrorism advocates to block government funds from being used to conduct outreach programs to Muslim groups. Pending fiscal 2008 legislation would block the Justice Department from using any funds for participation in conferences sponsored by a group or person identified by the government as a criminal unindicted co-conspirator.  Critics in Congress opposed the Justice Department's involvement in a conference sponsored by ISNA in September because the group was linked to the Holy Land Foundation case.

CAIR's letter to Mr. Conyers said that "you remember many of these abusive practices from the McCarthy era and the civil rights movement."

Melanie Roussell, a spokeswoman for the Judiciary Committee, had no comment.

CAIR recently petitioned U.S. District Court Chief Judge A. Joe Fish in a "friend of the court" motion to remove it from the listing, saying it caused a decline in membership and fundraising. After the mistrial, Judge Fish forwarded CAIR's request to U.S. Judge Jorge A. Solis, who has not yet issued a ruling.  The group stated in its appeal that linkage to the Holy Land Foundation has "impeded its ability to collect donations" because donors fear contributing to a terrorist group.

Steven Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, said the secret collaboration between CAIR and Mr. Conyers raises concerns over the lawmaker's support for "a group unambiguously proven to be part of the Muslim Brotherhood-Hamas infrastructure."

"This combination demonstrates the degree to which radical Islamic groups have insinuated themselves into the highest reaches of the U.S. government by using deceit," he said.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment, citing a gag order issued in the case.

• Audrey Hudson contributed to this report.
http://www.washingtontimes.com/artic...111210046/1002
25302  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton on: November 21, 2007, 10:45:38 AM
"To grant that there is a supreme intelligence who rules the
world and has established laws to regulate the actions of his
creatures; and still to assert that man, in a state of nature,
may be considered as perfectly free from all restraints of law
and government, appears to a common understanding altogether
irreconcilable.  Good and wise men, in all ages, have embraced
a very dissimilar theory.  They have supposed that the deity,
from the relations we stand in to himself and to each other, has
constituted an eternal and immutable law, which is indispensably
obligatory upon all mankind, prior to any human institution
whatever.  This is what is called the law of nature....Upon this
law depend the natural rights of mankind."

-- Alexander Hamilton ()
25303  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: November 21, 2007, 10:37:19 AM
Force Science News #85
2 officer-survival studies due to kick off in new FSRC facilities


   
Pilot studies for 2 new research projects with significant officer-survival implications will get underway next month [12/07] at a new testing facility designed by the Force Science Research Center near the campus of Minnesota State University-Mankato.
One study will seek to measure the time required for an "attentional shift" during a high-stress, potentially violent confrontation. That is, how long does it take the average law enforcement officer to detect, absorb, and react to changes in his visual field while he is attempting to concentrate on and deal with a primary threat to his safety.
"What we discover in this study could change the way many officers approach potentially dangerous situations," Lewinski claims. "Not by making them paranoid, but by convincing them of the importance of planning ahead rather than attempting the impossible by trying to out-time a sudden, unexpected threat."
The second pilot will expand on earlier FSRC studies of biomechanics (how and how fast do suspects move during certain force confrontations) and also will try to identify important visual cues that may constitute precursors of an armed assault.
"We plan to look particularly at suspects who are lying prone on the ground, with the hands hidden under their body," Lewinski explains. "How long does it take a suspect to roll up enough from that position to point a gun and fire at an officer, and what early indication might an officer see as a warning that such a threat is being activated."
New Testing Facilities.
The pilot studies, which are intended to get the bugs out of testing procedures before researchers launch their comprehensive investigations, will be conducted in a newly opened 1,000-sq. ft. laboratory built to FSRC's specifications as part of the Center's new headquarters in downtown Mankato.
Occupying 3,500 sq. ft. in a historic stone building more than a century old, the centralized headquarters, which have been in development for over a year, permit consolidation of administrative offices, conference space, and the laboratory "for testing the technology and design elements of our research projects," Lewinski says. Some full-scale research can be conducted there as well.
The lab's appointments include an EEG (electroencephalogram) room, specially insulated against sound, vibration, and electrical interference, where sophisticated computerized equipment can record brain activity of officers as they engage in a variety of experimental activities. This room was designed by FSRC's deputy director, Dr. Bill Hudson, an electrical engineer, and Dr. Jonathan Page, a specialist in experimental psychology and a member of FSRC's technical advisory board.
The lab also is outfitted with an updated simulation equipment package, supplied by Ti Training of Englewood, CO, an FSRC research partner. "This will allow us in the future to create our own simulation scenarios, specifically tailored for our research needs," Lewinski explains. Todd Brown, a Ti representative and one of the Center's tech advisors, will coordinate this component of the laboratory.
A state-of-the-art lighting system in the laboratory "permits us to control light at any level, from full-bright illumination to total darkness, without hampering the versatility or accuracy of our recording equipment during experiments," Lewinski says.
The pilot shakedowns for the Center's 2 new projects are expected to take about a month, with the full-scale research then extending into next spring.
Attentional Shift Study.
The post-pilot component of this research will involve a minimum of 60 officer volunteers, participating in testing first at the FSRC laboratory and then at LE agencies elsewhere in Minnesota.
One at a time, the officers will face a downrange target with their gun out, as if concentrating on controlling a dangerous suspect. In unpredictable patterns, various lights will pop on within their focal area (7 to 9 degrees to each side). Some may represent new threats, others mere distractions.
The officers will have to notice each light display, mentally identify the meaning of it, and respond appropriately, pulling the trigger when a reaction is required.
The gun involved has an ultra-sensitive sensor embedded in it, allowing a computerized measurement of trigger pull in 320 discrete units, with the trigger position recorded every 10 milliseconds, Lewinski says.
"We'll be able to tell the quickest, the slowest, and the average time for recognition of changes in the visual field and for reaction to them, and we expect the implications to be profound," Lewinski says.
For one thing, he believes the findings will motivate officers to take more time to assess suspects and environments before entering potentially dangerous scenes.
"Once officers understand how very badly behind the reactionary curve they are when sudden shifts in attention are required, they'll be encouraged to more thoroughly assess ahead of time what they may be moving into and to strategize how best to enter and cope with the situation to minimize the possibility of threatening surprises," Lewinski explains.
"When they learn to maximize preventive tactics, such as using cover or otherwise positioning themselves to advantage, they'll be more comfortable with encounters and better able to focus on their primary transactions."
For this study, expected to run from January through April, Jonathan Page, a researcher of cognitive and brain science at Minnesota State, will monitor the volunteers' brain activity with EEG equipment. Andy Miner of MSU's Electrical and Computer Engineering Dept. will operate the stimulus and computer gear involved. The gun/sensor unit to be used was designed by Miner and Bill Hudson. Overseeing the research will be Ray Knutson, a reserve officer with Minneapolis PD and a clinical psychologist in the Minnesota state hospital system, specializing in criminally deviant behavior. He will detail the project as part of his doctoral research.
Biomechanics/Visual Cues Study.
In earlier research, FSRC has identified and timed some 15 different motions and their variations that suspects display when engaging officers in gunfights. This new study will expand that database, with particular emphasis on suspects who are prone on the ground with their hands hidden.
The test subjects will be 60 civilian volunteers who will be filmed and timed to see how long it takes them to roll from a prone position (handgun hidden under them at waistline or at chest level) to a position where they can shoot.
Timing will also be done of what Lewinski terms the "pseudo-suicide threat." That's where a subject who is pointing a handgun at his own head, suddenly points it at an officer and fires.
The action will be filmed by 3 computer-linked, synchronized high-speed cameras that will be positioned at different angles. During an analysis of the action, which can be filmed at up to 650 frames per second, the recorded images can be frozen frame by frame so that all 3 angles can be viewed simultaneously on a computer screen for detailed scrutiny and timing.
The cameras, part of a $25,000 technology package, will be provided by the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, an FSRC research partner. Most of the research will be conducted there, with Erik Walters, a tactics instructor at the college, coordinating the project. Lewinski will be in charge of the research.
Based on some preliminary investigation, Lewinski believes that the study may find that a prone subject can roll to either side and shoot in as little as one-third of a second. "If 2 officers were approaching a prone suspect in a contact/cover configuration, this would be faster than a cover officer could respond to stop the threat even if he had his finger on the trigger when the suspect moved."
Part of the research analysis will involve trying to identify early cues that a downed suspect is beginning to roll. "The filming may show that a suspect's hips may be the first part of his body to move when he's starting to roll," Lewinski says. "If we can pin down the precise dynamics, our findings may be able to give an officer a split-second jump on reacting.
"The findings may also suggest how best to approach-or whether to approach at all-when a suspect is lying on his hands."
This research, scheduled to begin in Janbuary, is expected to run until May.
Other New Developments.
Two other new developments are underway that will help advance FSRC's mission to study use-of-force issues and communicate its findings to the law enforcement community:
• Cst. Dave Blocksidge has been directed by the London Met Police to act as liaison with FSRC in the management of a variety of English-funded research projects currently underway in the London area.
• Dr. Lewinski has been named an associate editor of the Law Enforcement Executive Forum, a peer-reviewed, bi-monthly publication of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board Executive Institute.
Starting next March, the Forum will dedicate a section on Force Science research in its forthcoming issues, in both print and electronic formats. Contributors are encouraged to submit articles on behavioral science research related to street-level law enforcement issues. The Forum will supplant the online e-journal previously planned by FSRC.
   
Visit www.forcescience.org for more information
 
 
================
The Force Science News is provided by The Force Science Research Center, a non-profit institution based at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Subscriptions are free and sent via e-mail. To register for your free, direct-delivery subscription, please visit www.forcesciencenews.com and click on the registration button. 
 
25304  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Thanksgiving on: November 21, 2007, 10:18:08 AM
And one more:

THE FOUNDATION
“Tomorrow being the day set apart by the Honorable Congress for public Thanksgiving and Praise; and duty calling us devoutly to express our grateful acknowledgements to God for the manifold blessings he has granted us, the General... earnestly exhorts, all officers and soldiers, whose absence is not indispensably necessary, to attend with reverence the solemnities of the day.” —George Washington (December 17, 1777)

PATRIOT PERSPECTIVE
The necessity of Thanksgiving
In this era of overblown political correctness, we often hear tales of Thanksgiving that stray far afield from the truth. Contemporary textbook narratives of the first American harvest celebration portray the Pilgrim colonists as having given thanks to their Indian neighbors for teaching them how to survive in a strange new world. This, of course, is in stark contrast to the historical record, in which the colonists gave thanks to God Almighty, the Provider of their blessings.

The “First Thanksgiving” is usually depicted as the Pilgrims’ three-day feast in early November 1621. The Pilgrims, Calvinist Protestants who rejected the institutional Church of England, believed that the worship of God must originate freely in the individual soul, under no coercion. The Pilgrims left Plymouth, England, on 6 September 1620, sailing to the New World on the promise of opportunity for religious and civil liberty.

For almost three months, 102 seafarers braved the brutal elements, arriving off what is now the Massachusetts coast. On 11 December, before disembarking at Plymouth Rock, the voyagers signed the Mayflower Compact, America’s original document of civil government predicated on principles of self-government. While still anchored at Provincetown harbor, Pastor John Robinson counseled, “You are become a body politic... and are to have only them for your... governors which yourselves shall make choice of.” Governor William Bradford described the Mayflower Compact as “a combination... that when they came a shore they would use their owne libertie; for none had power to command them...”

Upon landing, the Pilgrims conducted a prayer service and quickly turned to building shelters. Malnutrition and illness during the ensuing New England winter killed nearly half their number. Through prayer and hard work, with the assistance of their Wampanoag Indian friends, the Pilgrims reaped a rich harvest in the summer of 1621, the bounty of which they shared with the Wampanoag. The celebration incorporated feasting and games, which remain holiday traditions.

Such ready abundance soon waned, however. Under demands from investors funding their endeavor, the Pilgrims had acquiesced to a disastrous arrangement holding all crops and property in common, in order to return an agreed-to half of their produce to their overseas backers. (These financiers insisted they could not trust faraway freeholders to split the colony’s profits honestly.) Within two years, Plymouth was in danger of foundering under famine, blight and drought. Colonist Edward Winslow wrote, “The most courageous were now discouraged, because God, which hitherto had been our only shield and supporter, now seemed in his anger to arm himself against us.”

Governor Bradford’s record of the history of the colony describes 1623 as a period of arduous work coupled with “a great drought... without any rain and with great heat for the most part,” lasting from spring until midsummer. The Plymouth settlers followed the Wampanoag’s recommended cultivation practices carefully, but their crops withered.

The Pilgrims soon thereafter thought better of relying solely on the physical realm, setting “a solemn day of humiliation, to seek the Lord by humble and fervent prayer, in this great distress.” In affirmation of their faith and providing a great witness to the Indians, by evening of that day the skies became overcast and gentle rains fell, restoring the yield of the fields. Governor Bradford noted, “And afterwards the Lord sent to them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. For which mercy, in time convenient, they also set apart a day of thanksgiving.”

Winslow noted the Pilgrims’ reaction as believing “it would be great ingratitude, if secretly we should smother up the same, or content ourselves with private thanksgiving for that, which by private prayer could not be obtained. And therefore another solemn day was set apart and appointed for that end; wherein we returned glory, honor, and praise, with all thankfulness, to our good God, which dealt so graciously with us...” This was the original American Thanksgiving Day, centered not on harvest feasting (as in 1621) but on gathering together to publicly recognize the favor and provision of Almighty God.

Bradford’s diary recounts how the colonists repented of their financial folly under sway of their financiers: “At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number.”

By the mid-17th century, autumnal Thanksgivings were common throughout New England; observance of Thanksgiving Festivals spread to other colonies during the American Revolution. At other junctures of “great distress” or miraculous intervention, colonial leaders called their countrymen to offer prayerful thanks to God. The Continental Congresses, cognizant of the need for a warring country’s continuing grateful entreaties to God, proclaimed yearly Thanksgiving days during the Revolutionary War, from 1777 to 1783.

In 1789, after adopting the Bill of Rights to the Constitution, among the first official acts of Congress was approving a motion for proclamation of a national day of thanksgiving, recommending that citizens gather together and give thanks to God for their new nation’s blessings. Presidents George Washington, John Adams and James Madison followed the custom of declaring national days of thanks, though it was not officially declared again until another moment of national peril, when during the War Between the States Abraham Lincoln invited “the whole American people” to observe “a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father... with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience.” In 1941, Congress set permanently November’s fourth Thursday as our official national Thanksgiving.

The Pilgrims’ temporary folly of sundering and somersaulting the material as transcendent over the spiritual conveys an important lesson that modern histories are reluctant to tell. The Founders, recognizing this, placed first among constitutionally recognized rights the free exercise of religion—faith through action.

If what we seek is a continuance of God s manifold blessings, then a day of heartfelt thanksgiving is a tiny tribute indeed.

This Thanksgiving, please pray for our Patriot Armed Forces standing in harm’s way around the world, and for their families—especially the families of those fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who have died in defense of American liberty.

On behalf of your Patriot staff and National Advisory Committee, we wish God’s peace and blessings upon you and yours this Thanksgiving.

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus, et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Publisher

Permission granted to
25305  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: November 21, 2007, 10:10:14 AM
Courage and Journalism
November 21, 2007; Page A18
Among the blessings this fair land can give thanks for tomorrow is a free press. In much of the rest of the world, that's a freedom that remains elusive at best. The men and women who report the news often do so at great personal risk.

Four such journalists were honored in New York City yesterday by the Committee to Protect Journalists, a non-profit group that promotes the right of journalists world-wide to report without fear of reprisals. The honorees work in four countries on three continents. Each has a harrowing tale to tell. Three have colleagues who were murdered while on the job.

Adela Navarro Bello is the general director of Zeta, a weekly magazine in the border town of Tijuana, Mexico. Zeta covers organized crime, drug trafficking and corruption in Mexico's northern states, including the collusion between police and criminals. The cost of its investigative reporting has been high. Zeta's co-founder and a co-editor were murdered, and Ms. Navarro has received death threats. On a visit to the Journal's offices on Monday, she described the milieu in which she works: "Journalists have been assaulted, murdered or simply disappear."

Pakistan's Mazhar Abbas works for ARY One World Television, one of the TV stations closed down in President Pervez Musharraf's current state of emergency. After his name appeared on the hit list of an ethnic group allied with Mr. Musharraf, Mr. Abbas was among three journalists who found an envelope containing a bullet taped to his car. A recent trend is for the families of journalists also to be targeted.

Dmitry Muratov is founder and editor in chief of Novaya Gazeta, the Russian newspaper for which the late Anna Politkovskaya was working when she was murdered last year. Mr. Muratov's newspaper is known for its probes of high-level corruption, human-rights abuses and the war in Chechnya. "The [Vladmir Putin] government views the country as its personal business enterprise," he told us, "and we are basically trying to expose them." In addition to Ms. Politkovskaya, two other Novaya Gazeta reporters have been killed.

The fourth honoree is Gao Qinrong, who was released recently from a Chinese jail. He served eight years on a series of bogus charges brought after he exposed government corruption in an irrigation project in Shanxi province. Beijing refused to issue him a passport so he was honored in absentia. There are 29 journalists currently in jail in China, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Mr. Muratov spoke for all the winners when he told us, "We do what we can." Such modesty belies their courage and dedication.

WSJ
25306  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / This fair land on: November 21, 2007, 09:56:43 AM
WSJ

And the Fair Land
November 21, 2007; Page A18
Any one whose labors take him into the far reaches of the country, as ours lately have done, is bound to mark how the years have made the land grow fruitful.

This is indeed a big country, a rich country, in a way no array of figures can measure and so in a way past belief of those who have not seen it. Even those who journey through its Northeastern complex, into the Southern lands, across the central plains and to its Western slopes can only glimpse a measure of the bounty of America.

And a traveler cannot but be struck on his journey by the thought that this country, one day, can be even greater. America, though many know it not, is one of the great underdeveloped countries of the world; what it reaches for exceeds by far what it has grasped.

So the visitor returns thankful for much of what he has seen, and, in spite of everything, an optimist about what his country might be. Yet the visitor, if he is to make an honest report, must also note the air of unease that hangs everywhere.

For the traveler, as travelers have been always, is as much questioned as questioning. And for all the abundance he sees, he finds the questions put to him ask where men may repair for succor from the troubles that beset them.

His countrymen cannot forget the savage face of war. Too often they have been asked to fight in strange and distant places, for no clear purpose they could see and for no accomplishment they can measure. Their spirits are not quieted by the thought that the good and pleasant bounty that surrounds them can be destroyed in an instant by a single bomb. Yet they find no escape, for their survival and comfort now depend on unpredictable strangers in far-off corners of the globe.

How can they turn from melancholy when at home they see young arrayed against old, black against white, neighbor against neighbor, so that they stand in peril of social discord. Or not despair when they see that the cities and countryside are in need of repair, yet find themselves threatened by scarcities of the resources that sustain their way of life. Or when, in the face of these challenges, they turn for leadership to men in high places -- only to find those men as frail as any others.

So sometimes the traveler is asked whence will come their succor. What is to preserve their abundance, or even their civility? How can they pass on to their children a nation as strong and free as the one they inherited from their forefathers? How is their country to endure these cruel storms that beset it from without and from within?

Of course the stranger cannot quiet their spirits. For it is true that everywhere men turn their eyes today much of the world has a truly wild and savage hue. No man, if he be truthful, can say that the specter of war is banished. Nor can he say that when men or communities are put upon their own resources they are sure of solace; nor be sure that men of diverse kinds and diverse views can live peaceably together in a time of troubles.

But we can all remind ourselves that the richness of this country was not born in the resources of the earth, though they be plentiful, but in the men that took its measure. For that reminder is everywhere -- in the cities, towns, farms, roads, factories, homes, hospitals, schools that spread everywhere over that wilderness.

We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men governing themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so, we are the marvel and the mystery of the world, for that enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth.

And we might remind ourselves also, that if those men setting out from Delftshaven had been daunted by the troubles they saw around them, then we could not this autumn be thankful for a fair land.

This editorial has appeared annually since 1961.
=================

The Desolate Wilderness
November 21, 2007; Page A18
Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits.

 
When they came to Delfs-Haven they found the ship and all things ready, and such of their friends as could not come with them followed after them, and sundry came from Amsterdam to see them shipt, and to take their leaves of them. One night was spent with little sleep with the most, but with friendly entertainment and Christian discourse, and other real expressions of true Christian love.

The next day they went on board, and their friends with them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad and mournful parting, to hear what sighs and sobs and prayers did sound amongst them; what tears did gush from every eye, and pithy speeches pierced each other's heart, that sundry of the Dutch strangers that stood on the Key as spectators could not refrain from tears. But the tide (which stays for no man) calling them away, that were thus loath to depart, their Reverend Pastor, falling down on his knees, and they all with him, with watery cheeks commended them with the most fervent prayers unto the Lord and His blessing; and then with mutual embraces and many tears they took their leaves one of another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them.

Being now passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before them in expectations, they had now no friends to welcome them, no inns to entertain or refresh them, no houses, or much less towns, to repair unto to seek for succour; and for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of the country know them to be sharp and violent, subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search unknown coasts.

Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men? and what multitudes of them there were, they then knew not: for which way soever they turned their eyes (save upward to Heaven) they could have but little solace or content in respect of any outward object; for summer being ended, all things stand in appearance with a weatherbeaten face, and the whole country, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage hew.

If they looked behind them, there was a mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a main bar or gulph to separate them from all the civil parts of the world.

This editorial has appeared annually since 1961.



25307  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: November 21, 2007, 09:50:08 AM
I wish I had been wrong but I predicted that Fred was not going to measure up.  To make things worse, I suspect his entry into the race may have contributed to Newt's decision not to run because they would be competing for many of the same voters.  I really wish Newt would have run.
25308  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 21, 2007, 09:47:11 AM
Here's a point of view to consider:
==========================

Food for Thought
By TOM NASSIF
November 20, 2007;
WSJ
Page A19

In the midst of the combustive debate over immigration reform, we in agriculture have been forthright about the elephant in America's living room: Much of our workforce is in the country illegally -- as much as 70%.

Faced with the option of economic ruin, as hundreds of millions of dollars worth of our livelihood rots in the fields, or the embrace of a fatally flawed immigration system, our industry and farm families opt to survive. Who wouldn't? For those who have a 10-20 day harvest window to make or break their entire business year, government promises to fix the system don't work. We can't wait for rules to change. We need reform and we need it now.

Western Growers -- representing half of all the fresh fruits and vegetables grown in the U.S. -- has repeatedly called for a fix. We want and expect government to enforce immigration laws; we want a secure border, fraud-proof IDs and valid Social Security cards. Despite a broken and unworkable system, however, Congress has chosen not to act. Meanwhile, the Bush administration and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) -- under intense political pressure -- did begin to move.

Last month, a federal judge ordered an indefinite delay to the DHS's "no-match" program that would have forced employers to fire workers whose Social Security numbers did not match their names. The judge said it would cause "irreparable harm to innocent workers and employers." This preliminary injunction has prevented the DHS from proceeding with the shortsighted no-match program.

The DHS openly concedes our industry's reliance on falsely documented workers. But like a physician who diagnoses an open wound but uses salt in place of sutures, DHS avoided the cure in favor of additional pain.

The pain was in the form of the no-match rules. The DHS guidelines would have established purported "safe harbor" procedures for employers who received a Social Security Administration (SSA) no-match letter. The letter notifies an employer that he has submitted employee W-2s with names and Social Security numbers that do not match. Employers would have had to fire employees who could not produce new documentation within 90 days of receiving the letter, or face the risk that DHS may find that the employer had knowledge that the employee was unauthorized.

The regulations would have put farmers in an untenable situation: Either terminate the majority of their existing workforce and let the crops die in the fields, or disregard the rules and risk having to pay huge fines and penalties for "knowingly" employing undocumented workers. This attempt by DHS to expose illegal immigrants would have done nothing to address the underlying issues or correct the problem.

Fortunately, the courts have stepped in and the Bush administration now has an opportunity to fix our broken system. The plaintiffs in the case argued that DHS's plans would place a costly burden on employers and result in the needless firing of employees. That, in turn, would open employers up to lawsuits and charges of discrimination. Civil liberties organizations pointed out the no-match rules would likely lead to the violation of the rights of many legal workers who might have made a mistake they couldn't correct before deadline.

These valid concerns must be addressed. Agriculture yearns for a legal, stable, economical workforce; we have been saying so for years. And though we are relieved by the court's decision, it doesn't change the fact that this industry still needs a workable solution. Our current guest-worker program, known as H2-A, is costly and cumbersome, and sets labor standards that are not competitive in the global marketplace.

At the Bush administration's request, we have suggested changes to the H-2A program, such as expediting the application process and faxing guest-worker approval notices, instead of relying on "snail mail" while highly perishable crops await timely harvesters. These fixes are not difficult and can, in most cases, be administratively applied -- what is the delay?

If the DHS's no-match program had gone forward, America's domestic food supply would have been irreparably damaged. Small farm owners would have gone out of business and large operators could have taken their operations abroad -- taking hundreds of thousands of jobs with them.

Our industry, as well as farm-worker advocates -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- support legislation known as AgJOBS. This bill, which was a part of the Senate's "grand bargain," includes a temporary guest-worker program that logically matches willing farmers with willing foreign laborers.

AgJOBS provides the perfect opportunity for Congress to make progress on this critically important issue. Americans don't raise their children to work in the fields, and so we are reliant on a foreign workforce. We desperately want that workforce to be legal, and AgJOBS affords us that opportunity.

The Bush administration does support comprehensive immigration reform, and reportedly set in place the DHS's draconian no-match rules to force the issue. Still, it was playing a risky game of chance with U.S. agriculture to the detriment of our industry, our economy and American consumers.

We must stop playing games with our domestic food supply. Agriculture needs workers, Americans won't do the work and Congress lacks the courage to pass a comprehensive immigration package. It is time for Congress to find its courage, rise above the anger of the activists, and come together to solve this problem.

Mr. Nassif is president & CEO of Western Growers.

25309  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: November 20, 2007, 06:37:06 AM
I'm quite bummed to learn of the extent that bigotry supports RP's campaign.  That said, I think much of his appeal is in his originalist based approach to our Constitution.  His positions on gun rights, cutting taxes and cutting back government are strong and clear.

I saw last night that he is polling at 8% in , , , New Hampshire? Iowa?  where Fred is polling at 4%.
25310  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Even the NY Times , , , on: November 20, 2007, 06:27:58 AM

OMG!   wink  This from the NY Times-- I bet it hurt them to have to write it:
===========

BAGHDAD, Nov. 19 — Five months ago, Suhaila al-Aasan lived in an oxygen tank factory with her husband and two sons, convinced that they would never go back to their apartment in Dora, a middle-class neighborhood in southern Baghdad.

Today she is home again, cooking by a sunlit window, sleeping beneath her favorite wedding picture. And yet, she and her family are remarkably alone. The half-dozen other apartments in her building echo with emptiness and, on most days, Iraqi soldiers are the only neighbors she sees.

“I feel happy,” she said, standing in her bedroom, between a flowered bedspread and a bullet hole in the wall. “But my happiness is not complete. We need more people to come back. We need more people to feel safe.”

Mrs. Aasan, 45, a Shiite librarian with an easy laugh, is living at the far end of Baghdad’s tentative recovery. She is one of many Iraqis who in recent weeks have begun to test where they can go and what they can do when fear no longer controls their every move.

The security improvements in most neighborhoods are real. Days now pass without a car bomb, after a high of 44 in the city in February. The number of bodies appearing on Baghdad’s streets has plummeted to about 5 a day, from as many as 35 eight months ago, and suicide bombings across Iraq fell to 16 in October, half the number of last summer and down sharply from a recent peak of 59 in March, the American military says.

As a result, for the first time in nearly two years, people are moving with freedom around much of this city. In more than 50 interviews across Baghdad, it became clear that while there were still no-go zones, more Iraqis now drive between Sunni and Shiite areas for work, shopping or school, a few even after dark. In the most stable neighborhoods of Baghdad, some secular women are also dressing as they wish. Wedding bands are playing in public again, and at a handful of once shuttered liquor stores customers now line up outside in a collective rebuke to religious vigilantes from the Shiite Mahdi Army.

Iraqis are clearly surprised and relieved to see commerce and movement finally increase, five months after an extra 30,000 American troops arrived in the country. But the depth and sustainability of the changes remain open to question.

By one revealing measure of security — whether people who fled their home have returned — the gains are still limited. About 20,000 Iraqis have gone back to their Baghdad homes, a fraction of the more than 4 million who fled nationwide, and the 1.4 million people in Baghdad who are still internally displaced, according to a recent Iraqi Red Crescent Society survey.

Iraqis sound uncertain about the future, but defiantly optimistic. Many Baghdad residents seem to be willing themselves to normalcy, ignoring risks and suppressing fears to reclaim their lives. Pushing past boundaries of sect and neighborhood, they said they were often pleasantly surprised and kept going; in other instances, traumatic memories or a dark look from a stranger were enough to tug them back behind closed doors.

Mrs. Aasan’s experience, as a member of the brave minority of Iraqis who have returned home, shows both the extent of the improvements and their limits.

She works at an oasis of calm: a small library in eastern Baghdad, where on several recent afternoons, about a dozen children bounced through the rooms, reading, laughing, learning English and playing music on a Yamaha keyboard.

Brightly colored artwork hangs on the walls: images of gardens, green and lush; Iraqi soldiers smiling; and Arabs holding hands with Kurds.

It is all deliberately idyllic. Mrs. Aasan and the other two women at the library have banned violent images, guiding the children toward portraits of hope. The children are also not allowed to discuss the violence they have witnessed.

“Our aim is to fight terrorism,” Mrs. Aasan said. “We want them to overcome their personal experiences.”

The library closed last year because parents would not let their children out of sight. Now, most of the children walk on their own from homes nearby — another sign of the city’s improved ease of movement.

But there are scars in the voice of a ponytailed little girl who said she had less time for fun since her father was incapacitated by a bomb. (“We try to make him feel better and feel less pain,” she said.) And pain still lingers in the silence of Mrs. Aasan’s 10-year-old son, Abather, who accompanies her wherever she goes.


==========
Page 2 of 2)



One day five months ago, when they still lived in Dora, Mrs. Aasan sent Abather to get water from a tank below their apartment. Delaying as boys will do, he followed his soccer ball into the street, where he discovered two dead bodies with their eyeballs torn out. It was not the first corpse he had seen, but for Mrs. Aasan that was enough. “I grabbed him, we got in the car and we drove away,” she said.

After they heard on an Iraqi news program that her section of Dora had improved, she and her husband explored a potential return. They visited and found little damage, except for a bullet hole in their microwave.

Two weeks ago, they moved back to the neighborhood where they had lived since 2003.

“It’s just a rental,” Mrs. Aasan said, as if embarrassed at her connection to such a humble place. “But after all, it’s home.”

In interviews, she and her husband said they felt emboldened by the decline in violence citywide and the visible presence of Iraqi soldiers at a checkpoint a few blocks away.

Still, it was a brave decision, one her immediate neighbors have not yet felt bold enough to make. Mrs. Aasan’s portion of Dora still looks as desolate as a condemned tenement. The trunk of a palm tree covers a section of road where Sunni gunmen once dumped a severed head, and about 200 yards to the right of her building concrete Jersey barriers block a section of homes believed to be booby-trapped with explosives.

“On this street,” she said, standing on her balcony, “many of my neighbors lost relatives.” Then she rushed inside.

Her husband, Fadhel A. Yassen, 49, explained that they had seen several friends killed while they sat outside in the past. He insisted that being back in the apartment was “a victory over fear, a victory over terrorism.”

Yet the achievement remains rare. Many Iraqis say they would still rather leave the country than go home. In Baghdad there are far more families like the Nidhals. The father, who would only identify himself as Abu Nebras (father of Nebras), is Sunni; Hanan, his wife, is a Shiite from Najaf, the center of Shiite religious learning in Iraq. They lived for 17 years in Ghazaliya in western Baghdad until four gunmen from Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the homegrown Sunni extremist group that American intelligence agencies say is led by foreigners, showed up at his door last December.

“My sons were armed and they went away but after that, we knew we had only a few hours,” Abu Nebras said. “We were displaced because I was secular and Al Qaeda didn’t like that.”

They took refuge in the middle-class Palestine Street area in the northeastern part of Baghdad, a relatively stable enclave with an atmosphere of tolerance for their mixed marriage. Now with the situation improving across the city, the Nidhal family longs to return to their former home, but they have no idea when, or if, it will be possible.

Another family now lives in their house — the situation faced by about a third of all displaced Iraqis, according to the International Organization for Migration — and it is not clear whether the fragile peace will last. Abu Nebras tested the waters recently, going back to talk with neighbors on his old street for the first time.

He said the Shiites in the northern part of Ghazaliya had told him that the American military’s payments to local Sunni volunteers in the southern, Sunni part of the neighborhood amounted to arming one side.

The Americans describe the volunteers as heroes, part of a larger nationwide campaign known as the Sunni Awakening. But Abu Nebras said he did not trust them. “Some of the Awakening members are just Al Qaeda who have joined them,” he said. “I know them from before.”

With the additional American troops scheduled to depart, the Nidhal family said, Baghdad would be truly safe only when the Iraqi forces were mixed with Sunnis and Shiites operating checkpoints side by side — otherwise the city would remain a patchwork of Sunni and Shiite enclaves. “The police, the army, it has to be Sunni next to Shiite next to Sunni next to Shiite,” Abu Nebras said.

They and other Iraqis also said the government must aggressively help people return to their homes, perhaps by supervising returns block by block. The Nidhal family said they feared the displaced Sunnis in their neighborhood who were furious that Shiites chased them from their houses. “They are so angry, they will kill anyone,” Abu Nebras said.

For now, though, they are trying to enjoy what may be only a temporary respite from violence. One of their sons recently returned to his veterinary studies at a university in Baghdad, and their daughter will start college this winter.

Laughter is also more common now in the Nidhal household — even on once upsetting subjects. At midday, Hanan’s sister, who teaches in a local high school, came home and threw up her hands in exasperation. She had asked her Islamic studies class to bring in something that showed an aspect of Islamic culture. “Two boys told me, ‘I’m going to bring in a portrait of Moktada al-Sadr,’” she said.

She shook her head and chuckled. Mr. Sadr is an anti-American cleric whose militia, the Mahdi Army, has been accused of carrying out much of the displacement and killings of Sunnis in Baghdad. They can joke because they no longer fear that the violence will engulf them.

In longer interviews across Baghdad, the pattern was repeated. Iraqis acknowledged how far their country still needed to go before a return to normalcy, but they also expressed amazement at even the most embryonic signs of recovery.

Mrs. Aasan said she was thrilled and relieved just a few days ago, when her college-aged son got stuck at work after dark and his father managed to pick him up and drive home without being killed.

“Before, when we lived in Dora, after 4 p.m., I wouldn’t let anyone out of the house,” she said.

“They drove back to Dora at 8!” she added, glancing at her husband, who beamed, chest out, like a mountaineer who had scaled Mount Everest. “We really felt that it was a big difference.”
25311  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Evolutionary biology/psychology on: November 20, 2007, 06:08:57 AM
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21882948/?gt1=10547

Despite flash, males are simple creatures

Females evolve slower, but it's because they're more complex


By Jeanna Bryner
updated 11:06 a.m. ET, Mon., Nov. 19, 2007

The secret to why male organisms evolve faster than their female counterparts comes down to this: Males are simple creatures.

In nearly all species, males seem to ramp up glitzier garbs, more graceful dance moves and more melodic warbles in a never-ending vie to woo the best mates. Called sexual selection, the result is typically a showy male and a plain-Jane female. Evolution speeds along in the males compared to females.

The idea that males evolve more quickly than females has been around since 19th century biologist Charles Darwin observed the majesty of a peacock’s tail feather in comparison with those of the drab peahen.

How and why males exist in evolutionary overdrive despite carrying essentially the same genes as females has long puzzled scientists.
New research on fruit flies, detailed online last week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds males have fewer genetic obstacles to prevent them from responding quickly to selection pressures in their environments.

"It’s because males are simpler," said lead author Marta Wayne, a zoologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville. "The mode of inheritance in males involves simpler genetic architecture that does not include as many interactions between genes as could be involved in female inheritance."

The finding could also shed light on why diseases show up differently in men and women.

Complicated chromosomes
Wayne and her colleagues examined more than 8,500 genes shared by both sexes of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Of those genes, about 7,600 have different expressions (alleles) that do different jobs in males and females.

The flies were identical genetically, except for their sex chromosomes.
In flies and humans, thousands of genes made up of DNA are packaged into tiny units called chromosomes. Each parent contributes one set of 23 chromosomes to offspring, resulting in little ones with 23 father-given chromosomes and 23 mother-chromosomes — 46 total. One pair of these is called the sex chromosome. In this case, the females have two X chromosomes (XX) and males, XY.

Many genes are found on the X chromosome, whereas few are associated with the Y chromosome. For female fruit flies, the X-chromosome genes can come in two flavors called alleles that not only interact with each other but also with other genes.

For instance, if one allele is dominant over the other, that allele would get "expressed" while the recessive allele would stay hidden. Though under cover, the recessive allele kind of hitches a ride on the X chromosome and can be passed on to future generations.

That's not the case with males.
"We find direct evidence that the expression of the genes on the X has this covering behavior in females whereas in males they're out in the open," said study team member Lauren McIntyre, also of UF.

Males only have one X chromosome, so what you see is what you get. If that particular gene gives the male a boost in terms of sexual selection, say a gene responsible for fluffier feathers, the gene would be selected for in the game of natural selection over successive generations. But if the gene is no good for males, it would get selected against over time.

"Having one X means your genes are more open to selection in males," UF researcher Marina Telonis-Scott said in a telephone interview. "So in a female if you have a recessive allele that confers a sickness, it can be concealed within the two X's but if you've only got one, such as the male, you're more open to selection."

And the reason males are genetic simpletons, it turns out, is sex. The researchers suggest this uncomplicated (compared with females) genetic pathway allows males to respond at the drop of a hat to the pressures of sexual selection. That way they can win females, produce more offspring and start the cycle over again.

While not as prominent a trend, they also found a similar pattern in so-called autosomal genes, which are those found on any chromosome save the sex chromosomes. Many of the fruit-fly autosomal genes, however, did work in concert with genes located on the X chromosome.

Human implications
The "elephant lurking in these results," of course, is how they would apply to men and women.

The researchers caution the results don't directly translate to humans. "The X function is thought to be quite different in flies than humans," McIntyre told LiveScience. In humans, one of the X chromosomes gets inactivated in females, though research is finding this inactivation isn't always absolute.

However, the results could help explain differences in symptoms and responses to diseases in men and women, the authors say. Sexual selection does occur in humans, they note. In addition, fruit flies and humans share an evolutionary history, the authors point out, which is the reason why we share more than 65 percent of our genes with the tiny insects.

"If we see a mechanism in flies it may also be true in everything that shares that evolutionary history," McIntyre said.
On a basic level, the genetic machinery works in a similar manner in flies and us.

"There's a health aspect in figuring out differences in gene expression between the sexes," Wayne said. "To make a male or a female, even in a fly, it's all about turning things on — either in different places or different amounts or at different times — because we all basically have the same starting set of genes."
__________________
25312  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / James Madison on: November 20, 2007, 05:39:48 AM
"It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage,
and such only, as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty
is precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation, to
the claims of Civil Society. Before any man can be considered as
a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of
the Governor of the Universe."

-- James Madison (A Memorial and Remonstrance, 1785)

Reference: Our Sacred Honor, Bennett (327)
25313  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: November 19, 2007, 11:45:45 PM
Mexico Security Memo: Nov. 19, 2007
November 19, 2007 19 22  GMT



Turf Battles

So far this month, one of the deadliest days in Mexico has been Nov. 17, when at least 11 drug-related deaths were reported in six states. From charred bodies discovered in Chiapas state to armed men storming a house to kill two presumed drug dealers in Durango state, the killings provide a snapshot of violence in a country where approximately 2,400 people have died violently so far this year.

The cartel turf battles that produced much of this violence have led to important shifts in cartels' areas of territorial control. The federal attorney general's office reported this past week that the town of Zamora, in Michoacan state, is now in the hands of elements of the Gulf cartel, following a long battle with members of the Sinaloa-linked Valencia cartel. As long as rival gangs continue to fight for control of lucrative smuggling routes, shifts such as this one should be expected to continue -- along with the violence that accompanies them.


Political Violence

One of the biggest challenges to counternarcotics operations in Mexico has been corruption not only of law enforcement personnel but also of government officials. In addition to threatening, killing and kidnapping officials already in office, organized crime groups have demonstrated an interest in influencing the election process. An incident this past week in Michoacan state underscored this trend. On Nov. 16 in Zamora, as the election commission was tallying up the final vote from local elections held Nov. 11, a group of armed men entered the commission's office, threatened members and set fire to documents related to the election. Political candidates and their campaign staffs also have been subject to violence. At least one candidate for office in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, was reportedly abducted before a vote there last week while another candidate's financial adviser was said to have been kidnapped.

The waters of political violence are murky in Mexico, where it is common to hear of politicians dispatching henchmen to intimidate or eliminate their rivals. There is an element of truth to some of these rumors, especially in a country where the presidency and top levels of government were dominated by one political party for more than 70 years. However, drug trafficking organizations also have a strong interest in promoting candidates that are on their payroll. In some cases, politicians might even have knowledge of cartel actions against opponents, and frequently the henchmen hired by political candidates will have ties to the cartels.


Body Snatching

More than 50 armed men entered the city morgue in Ensenada, Baja California state, early Nov. 15 to remove the body of man who had died three days before in a helicopter accident while following the Baja 1000 car race. The heavily armed group reportedly arrived in more than a dozen vehicles, stormed the building and loaded the body into a vehicle, firing assault rifles at police officers before fleeing. Prior to the theft, two unidentified individuals had reportedly attempted to claim the body but authorities did not release it.

Although it appears certain that the body belonged to an important member of the Tijuana cartel, there is official confusion as to who the man was, likely because the body was registered at the morgue under a pseudonym. Initial reports from authorities in Baja California state indicated that the man was Francisco Medardo León Hinojosa, aka El Abulón, a high-ranking lieutenant in the Tijuana organization. Later reports from the federal attorney general's office suggested that the missing body belonged to the son of Alicia Arellano Felix, one of the siblings of the Arellano Felix crime family that runs the Tijuana cartel. Reportedly there had been a strong security presence at the morgue prior to the theft to prevent any such action; the incident highlights how police forces are no match for well-equipped -- and well-informed -- cartels.






Nov. 12


Authorities in Sinaloa state reported finding the body of a man along a highway. He had been bound at the hands and wrapped in a blanket.


Nov. 13


A high-ranking police commander from Acambaro, Guanajuato state, was shot to death while driving along a rural road.


Nov. 14


The director of public security in Toluca, Mexico state, was unhurt following an apparent attempt on his life when two men on a motorcycle fired several shots into his vehicle.


Nov. 15


Two people died and one was wounded in a firefight involving automatic weapons and rival drug-trafficking gangs in Tamazula, Durango state.


Fire crews from Laredo, Texas, crossed the border to assist the Nuevo Laredo fire department in battling more than 20 fires across the city. Under a mutual aid request, a fire department source confirmed that arson was the cause of many of the blazes, which included grassfires and structural fires.


Nov. 16


Two sailors in the Mexican navy were abducted by armed men from a bar in the Pacific port city of Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan state. A third who resisted the gunmen was wounded.


A plane believed to have been carrying more than 1 ton of cocaine made an emergency landing on a federal highway in Oaxaca state. The crew succeeded in unloading the cargo, setting fire to the plane and escaping before authorities arrived.


Nov. 17


The bodies of a man and woman were found in Jalisco state. Each had been shot in the head.


A city employee discovered the dismembered body of an unidentified person in a dumpster in Cuauhtemoc, Chihuahua state. Body parts were found in two suitcases.


Two men were killed in their home in Durango state when armed men entered the residence and shot them several times. Police believe the men owed money to drug traffickers.


Authorities discovered the burned bodies of two unidentified men along a highway in Chiapas state. The men were bound at the hands and appeared to have been tortured.


Nov. 18


A sailor in the Mexican navy was shot to death by several gunmen as he was walking along a street in Acapulco, Guerrero state. He reportedly was able to fire several rounds from a pistol before being killed.


Six armed men entered a hotel in the Monterrey suburb of San Nicolas de los Garza in Nuevo Leon state, stealing an ATM and the hotel safe. The gunmen subdued three employees and four guests during the incident and exchanged gunfire with police as they fled.

stratfor
25314  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Clips de Video de interes on: November 19, 2007, 11:39:44 PM
En Centro America:

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=f8c_1172107819
25315  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizens defend themselves/others. on: November 19, 2007, 11:36:07 PM
73 year old security guard disarms gun and drives off two robbers

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=121_1195518280

Was it the Bible grandma was carrying or the .32?  Or Both?  Only God knows for sure , , ,

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=ccc_1181134620

25316  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Lebanon on: November 19, 2007, 11:11:13 PM
Summary

Lebanon's fractured government has until Nov. 23 to elect a new president that is acceptable to both the pro-Syrian Hezbollah-led opposition and the pro-West March 14 coalition. With no compromise in sight, Hezbollah and its Syrian allies are readying plans to set up a shadow government in Beirut. Even by Lebanese standards, this is one political crisis that has the potential to plunge the country into all sorts of craziness.

Analysis

Emile Lahoud's term as Lebanon's president expires Nov. 23. Under the country's constitution, the government has until that date to elect a new Christian president.

There are a few not-so-minor problems with this state of affairs, however. First and foremost, it must be remembered that this is Lebanon, where legalities do not generally take precedence in the political system. Hezbollah and its allies in the Shiite Amal Movement and Michel Aoun's Christian faction already have boycotted the government. Technically speaking, the pro-West faction led by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora can elect a new president on its own through a very narrow, simple majority. But without the votes of Hezbollah and its allies, the election of the new president easily can be labeled illegitimate and illegal by a sizable political force in the country.




There are weighty issues at stake in this election, particularly for Syria. The Syrians steadily have reasserted their presence in Lebanon since the government was forced to withdraw its troops from the country in the wake of the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Naturally, the Syrian regime wants to ensure that the new president -- who must be a Maronite Christian, according to the constitution -- is amenable, to say the least, to serving Syrian interests in Lebanon. At the same time, Syria's militant proxy, Hezbollah, is seeking to expand its political presence in the government and ensure that it faces no long-term threats to its survival as a movement.

The Siniora-led March 14 alliance, however, is on an entirely different page. This coalition is being heavily backed by the U.S., French and Saudi governments to counter Hezbollah and keep a tight rein on Syrian and Iranian influence in Lebanon. Though diplomats from the region, the United States, Europe and Russia have been flying in and out of Beirut in an effort to come up with the ultimate political resolution, the feuding factions are nowhere near a compromise, with only four days left until Lahoud's term expires.

Hezbollah and Syria essentially have drawn a red line. If a compromise cannot be reached and the Siniora-led faction calls a special session of parliament to elect its preferred candidate independently, plans likely will be activated to set up a shadow government in Beirut.

According to sources in the city, a security meeting recently took place between Syrian officials and Hezbollah to go over these contingency plans at the residence of Hussein Khalil, Hezbollah's political consultant, in the eastern Baalbek region. The plan that was agreed on involves the occupation of 20 ministries and public institutions in the greater Beirut area by a combined military-civilian force provided by Hezbollah. It also calls for storming the Sarai, the headquarters of the prime minister, and reopening by force the coastal highway between Beirut and Sidon, as well as the Damascus highway -- both of which lie within the Druze stronghold of Walid Jumblatt, who is allied with the anti-Syrian March 14 alliance. Controlling these key highways is central to Hezbollah's plans to set up a rival government. The Damascus highway links Hezbollah strongholds in the central and northern Bekaa Valley with Beirut's southern suburbs, while the coastal highway between Beirut and Sidon connects Hezbollah bases in the South with Beirut's southern suburbs.

Occupying ministries by force undoubtedly will be a complicated affair if this plan actually goes into effect. By law, the Lebanese army would have to step in to defend these institutions. But here again we have another problem, in that Lebanon's army already is deeply fractured and lacks the will to stand up to civilian protesters, much less to Hezbollah. Moreover, nearly half the army is comprised of Shia who will not necessarily go against their patrons in Hezbollah. Any foreign force that even attempts to intervene in such a scenario very rapidly will become bogged down in a domestic fight in which Hezbollah most likely will take the upper hand.

This plan by Hezbollah has long been in the making. Recently, Hezbollah replaced the party official in charge of the sit-in protest camps in downtown Beirut. While Hezbollah circulated rumors that the official was replaced because several of its members were caught smoking hashish in the downtown camp, the real reason was to prepare Hezbollah operatives for the coming confrontation by inserting a strong officer capable of mobilizing the group's human resources in downtown Beirut. Recruiting and training efforts by Hezbollah also have picked up speed in recent months, with hundreds of men from the militias of Lebanese opposition groups undergoing training in the area of Wadi al-Nabi, between the villages of Brital and Hour Taala in the Bekaa Valley.

There is no guarantee -- as of yet -- that Hezbollah's plan will be activated. After all, Syria traditionally plays politics in Lebanon via car bombings. If Damascus wants to deprive the March 14 alliance of its slim majority in parliament, it can take out another parliamentarian as a stopgap measure. There also is the possibility that Lahoud will appoint Lebanon's army chief, Michel Suleiman, to run the country in order to prevent Siniora's government from taking over. Suleiman has been singing a pro-Syrian tune in the past few months, making this a potentially viable option for Damascus.

In any case, the situation is turning explosive, even by Lebanese standards. The conflict will not be confined to Lebanon, either. The Iranians, the Syrians, the Americans, the French, the Saudis, the Jordanians and even the Turks will in a variety of ways become entangled in this crisis as the country further destabilizes. For a country whose government was designed to rule by consensus, the probability of a consensus candidate getting elected in the next few days is dangerously low, bringing Lebanon even closer to the dark days of civil war.

stratfor
25317  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Are Traditional Martial Arts Dead? on: November 19, 2007, 07:18:11 PM
Interesting question.

May I suggest that we need to define "traditional martial arts" (TMA) as a starting point for the conversation?

The article seems to think that traditional "Chinese Martial Arts" (CMA) is a synonym for TMA, but is this really so?

The word "traditional" to me speaks of  , , , tradition, of unbroken lineage.  In this sense, Dog Brothers Martial Arts is a TMA.

TAC,
CD
25318  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islamic investing on: November 19, 2007, 01:37:06 PM
 
 
     
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Banks, Other Risky Bets
By CAROLYN CUI
November 19, 2007; Page C1

The little-known mutual fund Amana Income Fund is one of this year's top performers. It can thank Islamic law for that.

The Amana fund is a specialized fund that invests based on Islamic religious principles. That means it must avoid, among other things, investing in banks or other firms that earn money by charging interest. Nor can it invest in companies carrying lots of debt.

 
This year these restrictions are paying off. The fund, which seeks well-established companies paying dividends, has largely avoided the mortgage-related carnage hitting the markets since the summer. The Amana Income Fund has returned 13% since the start of this year, and is ranked in the top 2% of its category. With shares of many banks and brokerage houses having plunged amid concerns over losses on mortgage-related securities, the average stock income fund is up only 3.6%, according to fund tracker Lipper Inc.

"It's good that you don't have [banks and financial companies] in periods like this year," says Nicholas Kaiser of Saturna Capital Corp., Bellingham, Wash., which manages the Amana funds. "It's great to be out of it."

Indeed, most mutual funds that invest based on Islamic principles have largely weathered the recent credit turmoil. Two Islamic funds offered by Azzad Asset Management, smaller than the Amana and its $333.1 million of assets, also are beating the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index since the start of this year, after trailing the broad market for several years.

Dow Jones Islamic Fund is up 13.3% year to date, which ranks it in the top 4% of its category of large- market-capitalization stocks. The fund, managed by Allied Asset Advisors, tracks the Dow Jones Islamic Market Index, which is a product of Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

A sister Amana fund, Amana Growth Fund, isn't doing quite as well. The fund has $680 million of assets and invests in companies whose earnings are expected to rise faster than the broader market. It has returned 11.5% this year. While that beats the broader market, it still trails its growth-type peers by 1.4 percentage points.

Mr. Kaiser says the fund is basically looking for growth stocks that have such "value" characteristics as "reasonable" share price-to-earnings multiples, but this year the best performers were highflying stocks like Google Inc. "So some of our stocks didn't do well this year," he says.

Apart from financial stocks, Islamic funds, like other faith-based funds, also screen out so-called sin stocks, including alcohol, tobacco, gambling and weapons makers. They also must shun companies in pork-processing businesses and companies with a debt level higher or equal to 33%.

These rules eliminate from consideration about half of all the publicly traded stocks in the U.S. Out of the Russell 3000 Index -- which includes the 3,000 largest U.S. companies based on market capitalization and represents about 98% of U.S. stocks -- Amana has about 1,500 companies to choose from. By comparison, KLD Research & Analytics, a social-investing research firm, contains 2,100 stocks in its broad index.

Faith-based or socially conscious mutual funds -- there are numerous varieties -- tend to underperform the broader market. That is often because their blanket prohibition of certain sectors means they automatically rule out some good-performing stocks. At the same time, the added stock-picking research required by their social or religious criteria increases the cost of running such funds.

Amana funds have been a powerful rebuttal to this notion. In the past five years, both are among the top-returning funds in their respective categories, returning about 20% on an annualized basis.

Some of Amana's investment rules -- for instance, low turnover in buying and selling stocks, and aversion to debt -- make investing sense for long-term investors, says David Kathman, an analyst with Morningstar Inc.

Because of the low-debt restriction, Amana has found some good investments. Its growth fund started buying Washington Group International Inc., a construction firm, in January 2006 at $55 a share after Mr. Kaiser spotted its zero-debt level. "This looks good for us," he recalls saying. Amana recently sold the stock at $91.50 after the shares rallied on a takeover offer.

•  The News: One of the top-performing mutual funds this year is Amana Income Fund, a little-known fund that adheres to Islamic principles.
•  Behind the Scenes: Because Amana must avoid companies that earn money by charging interest or those with large debt loads, it has been largely spared fallout from the credit crunch.
•  Bottom Line, for Now: Amana's returns belie the tendency of faith-based or socially conscious mutual funds to underperform the broader market.The Islamic rules have helped Amana dodge some bullets. Enron Corp., which then fit growth-fund criteria, was ruled out from Amana Growth Fund's holdings -- before the scandal was exposed -- because its debt level exceeded the 33% threshold, Mr. Kaiser says.

Saturna Capital uses guidelines set up and endorsed by the Fiqh Council of North America, an organization of religious scholars dealing with issues concerning Muslims in North America.

Islamic law also forbids frequent trading of shares, since that is seen as a form of gambling. As a result, the turnover in the portfolios at Amana funds averages around just 10% each year, compared with 50% or more at a typical mutual fund. Lack of turnover is a contributor to performance, since shareholders are taxed for capital gains when managers sell stocks and make gains, and because of lower trading fees.

The 61-year-old Mr. Kaiser, who isn't Muslim himself, is concerned about the subprime spillover to his funds. As a big part of the U.S. economy "is based on home buying and loans -- that's going to drop off quite a bit," he says, leading people to cut consumption in retails and gasoline. "We have a lot of [those] stocks in our portfolios. If we have a major recession, I don't think we are immune from it just because we are not in those [financial] sectors," he said.

Amana's consistent performance appears to be attracting more non-Muslim investors. In the past 18 months, the two funds have increased from $288 million in assets to more than $1 billion combined. Of course, it is impossible to know for certain the religious persuasion of any given investor in a mutual fund, but by their names "we can pretty much tell they are non-Muslims," Mr. Kaiser says. "They just went for performance."
 
25319  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: November 19, 2007, 01:15:00 PM
Foreign Health Affairs
By REGINA E. HERZLINGER
November 19, 2007; Page A18

America, a nation prone to love at first sight with seductive health-care fixes, is now falling for the systems of the Netherlands and Switzerland. Their representatives recently displayed their dowry in D.C., and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt personally checked out the potential brides earlier this month.

Beware: The last time we fell in love, it was with managed care, as exemplified by California's Kaiser Permanente. But the Kaiser model proved difficult to replicate outside of California, even for Kaiser itself. The version of managed care we got was of the "Just Say No" variety: "No" to enrollee requests and provider referrals. It has made a mess of our health-care system.

Though media accounts lump the systems of Switzerland and the Netherlands together, they are profoundly different. There are things to be learned from each, though neither presents a complete model the U.S. should emulate.

The Swiss and Dutch systems share one terrific feature -- universal coverage. Americans increasingly want this. Both achieve universal coverage using private sector insurers, at far lower cost than the U.S. -- 12% of GDP for Switzerland and 10% for the Dutch, versus a staggering 15% for the U.S. in 2003. They also have far better health outcomes than the U.S., even when Switzerland is compared to socio-demographically similar U.S. states such as Connecticut and Massachusetts. The sick in both countries can afford to buy health insurance, and also pay the same price. Yet private insurers compete in the market because they are paid more for sick enrollees through various risk-adjustment systems.

But the devil is in the details.

The Swiss are required to buy health insurance themselves, using their own money -- they account for 65% of health care expenditures. If individuals cannot afford it, most Cantons transfer funds to them. There are neither employer nor government health-insurance programs for the poor or elderly. The Swiss government accounts for only a quarter of the health-care spending versus nearly 50% for the U.S.

The Swiss system is consumer-driven because consumers themselves pay for their purchases. The Dutch government, in contrast, funds consumers to purchase their own health insurance to a much greater extent -- five million people in the country are on some sort of government dole. Thus, when the Dutch buy their insurance, they may think they are using other people's money.

The results? The Swiss have lower health-care inflation -- 2.8% versus 4.1% for the Dutch and the U.S. from 1996-2003 -- and substantially more in the way of health-care resources. And Switzerland tops the world in most measures of user satisfaction.

The 93 private insurance companies that compete in Switzerland dwarf the 41 in the Netherlands. Swiss providers also compete because, in addition to paying for their health insurance, the Swiss pay for nearly 32% of their health-care services out of their own pockets, as compared with only 8% for the Dutch. Yet even with its limitations, Dutch health-care inflation fell from the time when Dutch employers bought health care, and waiting lists have reportedly tumbled.

Nevertheless, the Swiss system is hardly perfect. On the demand side, the government limits insurance competition with requirements for extensive minimum benefit packages and considerable micromanagement of prices. Imagine a car market in which the government designs the vehicles and stringently oversees distributors' prices. Pretty soon all the cars would come with features we do not necessarily want -- heated seats -- at a price we do not want to pay.

Even worse is the Swiss government's micromanagement of medical care suppliers. Unwisely adopting the U.S. government's Medicare payment system, it not only dictates medical care prices but also specifies the bundles of care for which it will pay. This kind of micromanagement discourages innovation. For example, when Duke Medical Center lowered the costs of treating congestive heart patients by 40% in only one year with innovations that improved health status, it lost nearly all the savings it created. The U.S. government pays only for activities like hospital stays and doctor visits. Perversely, medical innovators who improve health and reduce hospital visits, lose money.

So before we latch on to the Dutch or Swiss models, let's be careful. Yes, the consumer-driven health care of these two nations is clearly the better model for implementing universal coverage. But their governments' micromanagement of the prices of insurers and providers should be avoided, not emulated. Instead, government should help lower-income people, enforce transparency, prosecute fraud and abuse -- but otherwise get out of the way.

Ms. Herzlinger is professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. She is the author of "Who Killed Health Care?" (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007).
WSJ
25320  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: November 19, 2007, 01:06:25 PM
Mi Casa, Sue Casa
Nancy Pelosi tries to force the Salvation Army to hire people who can't speak English.

Monday, November 19, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

It's been less than a week since New York's Sen. Hillary Clinton and Gov. Eliot Spitzer had to climb down from their support of driver's licenses for illegal aliens. Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has moved to kill an amendment that would protect employers from federal lawsuits for requiring their workers to speak English. Among the employers targeted by such lawsuits: the Salvation Army.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, a moderate Republican from Tennessee, is dumbstruck that legislation he views as simple common sense would be blocked. He noted that the full Senate passed his amendment to shield the Salvation Army by 75-19 last month, and the House followed suit with a 218-186 vote just this month. "I cannot imagine that the framers of the 1964 Civil Rights Act intended to say that it's discrimination for a shoe shop owner to say to his or her employee, 'I want you to be able to speak America's common language on the job,' " he told the Senate last Thursday.

But that's exactly what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is trying to do. In March the EEOC sued the Salvation Army because its thrift store in Framingham, Mass., required its employees to speak English on the job. The requirement was clearly posted and employees were given a year to learn the language. The EEOC claimed the store had fired two Hispanic employees for continuing to speak Spanish on the job. It said that the firings violated the law because the English-only policy was not "relevant" to job performance or safety.





"If it is not relevant, it is discriminatory, it is gratuitous, it is a subterfuge to discriminate against people based on national origin," says Rep. Charles Gonzalez of Texas, one of several Hispanic Democrats in the House who threatened to block Ms. Pelosi's attempts to curtail the Alternative Minimum Tax unless she killed the Alexander amendment.
The confrontation on the night of Nov. 8 was ugly. Members of the Hispanic Caucus initially voted against the rule allowing debate on a tax bill that included the AMT "patch," which for a year would protect some 23 million Americans from being kicked into a higher income tax bracket.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a moderate from Maryland, was beside himself. Congressional Quarterly reports that he jabbed his finger on the House floor at Joe Baca, the California Democrat who chairs the Hispanic Caucus, and yelled, "How dare you destroy this party? This will be the worst loss in 10 years."

Mr. Baca was having none of it. "You see this on the [voting] board?," he yelled back. "This is against me. This is against me personally." Luckily for Democrats, C-Span's microphones did not pick up the exchange. But it was audible to reporters in the press gallery. They also heard Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois say that English-only efforts were symbolic of "bigotry and prejudice" against those who speak other languages.

After testy negotiations, the Hispanic Caucus finally agreed to let the tax bill proceed after extracting a promise from Ms. Pelosi that the House will not vote on the bill funding the Justice and Commerce Departments unless the English-only protection language is dropped. "There ain't going to be a bill" with the Alexander language, Mr. Baca has told reporters.

Sen. Alexander says that if that's the case, "thousands of small businesses across America will have to show there is some special reason to justify requiring their employees to speak our country's common language on the job." He notes that the number of EEOC actions against English-only policies grew to some 200 last year from 32 a decade ago. In an attempt at compromise, he has offered watered-down language that would still allow the EEOC to file many actions, but he says House Democrats rejected it.





Mr. Alexander says his battle is about far more than what language is spoken on a shop floor. "The EEOC actions turn diversity, our greatest strength, against the interests of our common future as Americans," he told me.
The late Albert Shanker, head of the American Federation of Teachers, once pointed out that public schools were established in this country largely "to help mostly immigrant children learn the three R's and what it means to be an American, with the hope that they would go home and teach their parents the principles in the Constitution and the Declaration that unite us."

Mr. Alexander says that noble effort is in danger of being undermined: "We have spent the last 40 years in our country celebrating diversity at the expense of unity. One way to create that unity is to value, not devalue, our common language, English."

The battle over Mr. Alexander's amendment is about whether a consensus that used to unite liberals and conservatives in this country can continue to hold. If it can't, expect the issue to become a flashpoint in the 2008 elections. Republicans have their political problems with Hispanics over some of their approaches to illegal immigration, but they may be nothing compared to the problems Democrats have if they continue to cave in to their anti-assimilation extremists.
WSJ
25321  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Survival issues outside the home on: November 19, 2007, 12:51:38 PM


This site comes recommended:

http://www.wilderness-survival-skills.com/index.html
25322  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: November 19, 2007, 07:02:11 AM
I disagree with much that PB writes here.

Concerning the crash of '29 and the Great Depression that followed: Yes the Fed made things worse AFTER the market crashed, but this does not explain that there was a world-wide depression until WW2.  PB is wrong-- the Great Depression was exactly because of the fragmentation of the world-wide economy brought on by beggar they neighbor devaluations, and tariffs and duties such as the Smoot Hawley Tariff Act and its analogues in our trading partners.  FDR killed a nascent recovery of the stock market by increasing taxes in his first term.  Jude Wanniski's analysis in his brilliant "The Way the World Works" is in my opinion, the correct analysis of this history.

PB is right that Bernake is on the horns of a dilema.  What he misses is this is because monetary policy is only half the problem and solution.  Tax policy is also half the problem and solution.   Yes the Fed has been too loose and needs to stop it, but the real issue is tax rates.  While we have not been looking, the various Euros have simplified and lowered their taxes and investment capital flows, which dwarfy trade flows, now flow to Europe.  Despite this, the Dems, who look likely to win, are talking massive tax increases (Rangel's plan, various plans of the Dem candidates, the general nature of Dems).  These tax increases (including accepting the end of the Bush tax cuts) if enacted, will tip the US into a severe recession and stagflation.  THIS is the problem in my opinion.
25323  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / John Adams, Webster, Reagan on: November 19, 2007, 06:46:20 AM
"It is the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated
seasons, to worship the SUPREME BEING, the great Creator
and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt,
molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for
worshipping GOD in the manner most agreeable to the dictates of
his own conscience; or for his religious profession or sentiments;
provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others
in their religious worship."

-- John Adams (Thoughts on Government, 1776)

Reference: The Works of John Adams, Charles Adams, ed., 221.
========

THE FOUNDATION: ARMS
“The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States.” —Noah Webster

THE GIPPER
“The gun has been called the great equalizer, meaning that a small person with a gun is equal to a large person, but it is a great equalizer in another way, too. It insures that the people are the equal of their government whenever that government forgets that it is servant and not master of the governed. When the British forgot that they got a revolution. And, as a result, we Americans got a Constitution; a Constitution that, as those who wrote it were determined, would keep men free. If we give up part of that Constitution we give up part of our freedom and increase the chance that we will lose it all. I am not ready to take that risk. I believe that the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms must not be infringed if liberty in America is to survive.” —Ronald Reagan

25324  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: November 19, 2007, 06:40:33 AM
Let the howl go forth: 

Cat Linda Matsumi make  Candidate , , , well, what do we call a woman candidate for , , , Dog Brotherhood?  As we were sitting there with burgers and brews at the post Gathering shindig, Linda herself requested , , , drum roll please , , , "Bitch" cheesy  So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you "Linda Candidate Bitch Matsumi".

There were a couple of more ascensions, but will post later about them.  I want to check our records to make sure I get the names right.

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
Council of Elders

25325  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WMDs-- a new interpretation on: November 18, 2007, 08:27:17 AM
http://frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=F715A709-2614-4EA5-967C-F6151F94A364
Shattering Conventional Wisdom About Saddam's WMD's   
By John Loftus
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, November 16, 2007


Finally, there are some definitive answers to the mystery of the missing WMD. Civilian volunteers, mostly retired intelligence officers belonging to the non-partisan IntelligenceSummit.org, have been poring over the secret archives captured from Saddam Hussein. The inescapable conclusion is this: Saddam really did have WMD after all, but not in the way the Bush administration believed. A 9,000 word research paper with citations to each captured document has been posted online at LoftusReport.com, along with translations of the captured Iraqi documents, courtesy of Mr. Ryan Mauro and his friends.

This Iraqi document research has been supplemented with satellite photographs and dozens of interviews, among them David Gaubatz who risked radiation exposure to locate Saddam’s underwater WMD warehouses , and John Shaw, whose brilliant detective work solved the puzzle of where the WMD went. Both have contributed substantially to solving one of the most difficult mysteries of our decade.

The absolutists on either side of the WMD debate will be more than a bit chagrinned at these disclosures. The documents show a much more complex history than previously suspected. The "Bush lied, people died" chorus has insisted that Saddam had no WMD whatsoever after 1991 - and thus that WMD was no good reason for the war. The Neocon diehards insist that, as in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the treasure-trove is still out there somewhere, buried under the sand dunes of Iraq. Each side is more than a little bit wrong about Saddam's WMD, and each side is only a little bit right about what happened to it.



The gist of the new evidence is this: roughly one quarter of Saddam's WMD was destroyed under UN pressure during the early to mid 1990's. Saddam sold approximately another quarter of his weapons stockpile to his Arab neighbors during the mid to late 1990's. The Russians insisted on removing another quarter in the last few months before the war. The last remaining WMD, the contents of Saddam's nuclear weapons labs, were still inside Iraq on the day when the coalition forces arrived in 2003. His nuclear weapons equipment was hidden in enormous underwater warehouses beneath the Euphrates River. Saddam’s entire nuclear inventory was later stolen from these warehouses right out from under the Americans’ noses. The theft of the unguarded Iraqi nuclear stockpile is perhaps, the worst scandal of the war, suggesting a level of extreme incompetence and gross dereliction of duty that makes the Hurricane Katrina debacle look like a model of efficiency.


Without pointing fingers at the Americans, the Israeli government now believes that Saddam Hussein’s nuclear stockpiles have ended up in weapons dumps in Syria. Debkafile, a somewhat reliable private Israeli intelligence service, has recently published a report claiming that the Syrians were importing North Korean plutonium to be mixed with Saddam’s enriched uranium. Allegedly, the Syrians were close to completing a warhead factory next to Saddam’s WMD dump in Deir al Zour, Syria to produce hundreds, if not thousands, of super toxic “dirty bombs” that would pollute wherever they landed in Israel for the next several thousands of years. Debka alleged that it was this combination factory/WMD dump site which was the target of the recent Israeli air strike in Deir al Zour province..


Senior sources in the Israeli government have privately confirmed to me that the recent New York Times articles and satellite photographs about the Israeli raid on an alleged Syrian nuclear target in Al Tabitha, Syria were of the completely wrong location. Armed with this knowledge, I searched Google Earth satellite photos for the rest of the province of Deir al Zour for a site that would match the unofficial Israeli descriptions: camouflaged black factory building, next to a military ammunition dump, between an airport and an orchard. There is a clear match in only one location, Longitude 35 degrees, 16 minutes 49.31 seconds North, Latitude 40 degrees, 3 minutes, 29.97 seconds East. Analysts and members of the public are invited to determine for themselves whether this was indeed the weapons dump for Saddam’s WMD.


Photos of this complex taken after the Israel raid appear to show that all of the buildings, earthern blast berms, bunkers, roads, even the acres of blackened topsoil, have all been dug up and removed. All that remains are what appear to be smoothed over bomb craters. Of course, that is not of itself definitive proof, but it is extremely suspicious.


It should be noted that the American interrogators had accurate information about a possible Deir al Zour location shortly after the war, but ignored it:

"An Iraqi dissident going by the name of "Abu Abdallah" claims that on March 10, 2003, 50 trucks arrived in Deir Al-Zour, Syria after being loaded in Baghdad. …Abdallah approached his friend who was hesitant to confirm the WMD shipment, but did after Abdallah explained what his sources informed him of. The friend told him not to tell anyone about the shipment."


These interrogation reports should be re-evaluated in light of the recently opened Iraqi secret archives, which we submit are the best evidence. But the captured document evidence should not be overstated. It must be emphasized that there is no one captured Saddam document which mentions both the possession of WMD and the movement to Syria.


Moreover, many of Saddam's own tapes and documents concerning chemical and biological weapons are ambiguous. When read together as a mosaic whole, Saddam's secret files certainly make a persuasive case of massive WMD acquisition right up to a few months before the war. Not only was he buying banned precursors for nerve gas, he was ordering the chemicals to make Zyklon B, the Nazis favorite gas at Auschwitz. However odious and well documented his purchases in 2002, there is no direct evidence of any CW or BW actually remaining inside Iraq on the day the war started in 2003. As stated in more detail in my full report, the British, Ukrainian and American secret services all believed that the Russians had organized a last minute evacuation of CW and BW stockpiles from Baghdad to Syria.


We know from Saddam’s documents that huge quantities of CW and BW were in fact produced, and there is no record of their destruction. But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Therefore, at least as to chemical and biological weapons, the evidence is compelling, but not conclusive. There is no one individual document or audiotape that contains a smoking gun.

There is no ambiguity, however, about captured tape ISGQ-2003-M0007379, in which Saddam is briefed on his secret nuclear weapons project. This meeting clearly took place in 2002 or afterwards: almost a decade after the State Department claimed that Saddam had abandoned his nuclear weapons research.

Moreover the tape describes a laser enrichment process for uranium that had never been known by the UN inspectors to even exist in Iraq, and Saddam's nuclear briefers on the tape were Iraqi scientists who had never been on any weapons inspector’s list. The tape explicitly discusses how civilian plasma research could be used as a cover for military plasma research necessary to build a hydrogen bomb.

When this tape came to the attention of the International Intelligence Summit, a non-profit, non-partisan educational forum focusing on global intelligence affairs, the organization asked the NSA to verify the voiceprints of Saddam and his cronies, invited a certified translator to present Saddam’s nuclear tapes to the public, and then invited leading intelligence analysts to comment.

At the direct request of the Summit, President Bush promptly overruled his national intelligence adviser, John Negroponte, a career State Department man, and ordered that the rest of the captured Saddam tapes and documents be reviewed as rapidly as possible. The Intelligence Summit asked that Saddam's tapes and documents be posted on a public website so that Arabic-speaking volunteers could help with the translation and analysis.

At first, the public website seemed like a good idea. Another document was quickly discovered, dated November 2002, describing an expensive plan to remove radioactive contamination from an isotope production building. The document cites the return of UNMOVIC inspectors as the reason for cleaning up the evidence of radioactivity. This is not far from a smoking gun: there were not supposed to be any nuclear production plants in Iraq in 2002.

Then a barrage of near-smoking guns opened up. Document after document from Saddam's files was posted unread on the public website, each one describing how to make a nuclear bomb in more detail than the last. These documents, dated just before the war, show that Saddam had accumulated just about every secret there was for the construction of nuclear weapons. The Iraqi intelligence files contain so much accurate information on the atom bomb that the translators’ public website had to be closed for reasons of national security.

If Saddam had nuclear weapons facilities, where was he hiding them? Iraqi informants showed US investigators where Saddam had constructed huge underwater storage facilities beneath the Euphrates River. The tunnel entrances were still sealed with tons of concrete. The US investigators who approached the sealed entrances were later determined to have been exposed to radiation. Incredibly, their reports were lost in the postwar confusion, and Saddam’s underground nuclear storage sites were left unguarded for the next three years. Still, the eyewitness testimony about the sealed underwater warehouses matched with radiation exposure is strong circumstantial evidence that some amount of radioactive material was still present in Iraq on the day the war began.

Our volunteer researchers discovered the actual movement order from the Iraqi high command ordering all the remaining special equipment to be moved into the underground sites only a few weeks before the onset of the war. The date of the movement order suggests that President Bush, who clearly knew nothing of the specifics of the underground nuclear sites, or even that a nuclear weapons program still existed in Iraq, may have been accidentally correct about the main point of the war: the discovery of Saddam’s secret nuclear program, even in hindsight, arguably provides sufficient legal justification for the previous use of force.

Saddam’s nuclear documents compel any reasonable person to the conclusion that, more probably than not, there were in fact nuclear WMD sites, components, and programs hidden inside Iraq at the time the Coalition forces invaded. In view of these newly discovered documents, it can be concluded, more probably than not, that Saddam did have a nuclear weapons program in 2001-2002, and that it is reasonably certain that he would have continued his efforts towards making a nuclear bomb in 2003 had he not been stopped by the Coalition forces. Four years after the war began, we still do not have all the answers, but we have many of them. Ninety percent of the Saddam files have never been read, let alone translated. It is time to utterly reject the conventional wisdom that there were no WMD in Iraq and look to the best evidence: Saddam’s own files on WMD. The truth is what it is, the documents speak for themselves.

John Loftus is President of IntelligenceSummit.org, which is entirely free of government funding, and depends solely upon private contributions for its support. The full research paper on Iraqi WMD, along with the supporting documents and photographs can be found at www.LoftusReport.com
25326  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 18, 2007, 08:02:17 AM
Op-Ed Contributors
Pakistan’s Collapse, Our Problem
NY Times
By FREDERICK W. KAGAN and MICHAEL O’HANLON
Published: November 18, 2007
Washington

AS the government of Pakistan totters, we must face a fact: the United States simply could not stand by as a nuclear-armed Pakistan descended into the abyss. Nor would it be strategically prudent to withdraw our forces from an improving situation in Iraq to cope with a deteriorating one in Pakistan. We need to think — now — about our feasible military options in Pakistan, should it really come to that.

We do not intend to be fear mongers. Pakistan’s officer corps and ruling elites remain largely moderate and more interested in building a strong, modern state than in exporting terrorism or nuclear weapons to the highest bidder. But then again, Americans felt similarly about the shah’s regime in Iran until it was too late.

Moreover, Pakistan’s intelligence services contain enough sympathizers and supporters of the Afghan Taliban, and enough nationalists bent on seizing the disputed province of Kashmir from India, that there are grounds for real worries.

The most likely possible dangers are these: a complete collapse of Pakistani government rule that allows an extreme Islamist movement to fill the vacuum; a total loss of federal control over outlying provinces, which splinter along ethnic and tribal lines; or a struggle within the Pakistani military in which the minority sympathetic to the Taliban and Al Qaeda try to establish Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism.

All possible military initiatives to avoid those possibilities are daunting. With 160 million people, Pakistan is more than five times the size of Iraq. It would take a long time to move large numbers of American forces halfway across the world. And unless we had precise information about the location of all of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and materials, we could not rely on bombing or using Special Forces to destroy them.

The task of stabilizing a collapsed Pakistan is beyond the means of the United States and its allies. Rule-of-thumb estimates suggest that a force of more than a million troops would be required for a country of this size. Thus, if we have any hope of success, we would have to act before a complete government collapse, and we would need the cooperation of moderate Pakistani forces.

One possible plan would be a Special Forces operation with the limited goal of preventing Pakistan’s nuclear materials and warheads from getting into the wrong hands. Given the degree to which Pakistani nationalists cherish these assets, it is unlikely the United States would get permission to destroy them. Somehow, American forces would have to team with Pakistanis to secure critical sites and possibly to move the material to a safer place.

For the United States, the safest bet would be shipping the material to someplace like New Mexico; but even pro-American Pakistanis would be unlikely to cooperate. More likely, we would have to settle for establishing a remote redoubt within Pakistan, with the nuclear technology guarded by elite Pakistani forces backed up (and watched over) by crack international troops. It is realistic to think that such a mission might be undertaken within days of a decision to act. The price for rapid action and secrecy, however, would probably be a very small international coalition.

A second, broader option would involve supporting the core of the Pakistani armed forces as they sought to hold the country together in the face of an ineffective government, seceding border regions and Al Qaeda and Taliban assassination attempts against the leadership. This would require a sizable combat force — not only from the United States, but ideally also other Western powers and moderate Muslim nations.

Even if we were not so committed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Western powers would need months to get the troops there. Fortunately, given the longstanding effectiveness of Pakistan’s security forces, any process of state decline probably would be gradual, giving us the time to act.

So, if we got a large number of troops into the country, what would they do? The most likely directive would be to help Pakistan’s military and security forces hold the country’s center — primarily the region around the capital, Islamabad, and the populous areas like Punjab Province to its south.

We would also have to be wary of internecine warfare within the Pakistani security forces. Pro-American moderates could well win a fight against extremist sympathizers on their own. But they might need help if splinter forces or radical Islamists took control of parts of the country containing crucial nuclear materials. The task of retaking any such regions and reclaiming custody of any nuclear weapons would be a priority for our troops.

If a holding operation in the nation’s center was successful, we would probably then seek to establish order in the parts of Pakistan where extremists operate. Beyond propping up the state, this would benefit American efforts in Afghanistan by depriving terrorists of the sanctuaries they have long enjoyed in Pakistan’s tribal and frontier regions.

The great paradox of the post-cold war world is that we are both safer, day to day, and in greater peril than before. There was a time when volatility in places like Pakistan was mostly a humanitarian worry; today it is as much a threat to our basic security as Soviet tanks once were. We must be militarily and diplomatically prepared to keep ourselves safe in such a world. Pakistan may be the next big test.

Frederick W. Kagan is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Michael O’Hanlon is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
25327  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: November 18, 2007, 07:56:36 AM
Another one from today's NY Times-- this one by arch liberal Maureen Dowd:

Shake, Rattle and Roll
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By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: November 18, 2007
WASHINGTON

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Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Maureen Dowd

Go to Columnist Page » The debate dominatrix knows how to rattle Obambi.

Mistress Hillary started disciplining her fellow senator last winter, after he began exploring a presidential bid. When he winked at her, took her elbow and tried to say hello on the Senate floor, she did not melt, as many women do. She brushed him off, a move meant to remind him that he was an upstart who should not get in the way of her turn in the Oval Office.

He was so shook up, he called a friend to say: You would not believe what just happened with Hillary.

She has continued to flick the whip in debates. She usually ignores Obama and John Edwards backstage, preferring to chat with the so-called second-tier candidates. And she often looks so unapproachable while they’re setting up on stage that Obama seems hesitant to be the first to say hi.

With so much at stake, she had to do it again in Vegas, this time using her voice, gaze and body language to such punishing effect that Obama looked as if he had been brought to heel. It was a mesmerizing display, and at an event that drew the highest television ratings of any primary debate this year. The momentum Obama had gained from a vivid speech at the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in Iowa drained away by the end of the first half-hour.

Other guys, like Rudy, wouldn’t even be looking for a chance to greet Hillary, as Obama always does. Other guys, like Rudy, wouldn’t care if she iced them.

But she can tell that Obama does care, that he doesn’t want her to not like him or be mad at him, that he responds to the sort of belittling treatment that she sometimes dished out to her husband and his male aides at the White House, yelling at them and calling them wimps if they disappointed her.

Obama may be responsive to Hillary’s moods because he lives with another strong woman who knows how to keep him in line. Michelle said she let her husband run for president only when he agreed to give up smoking, and she’s a master at the art of the loving conjugal put-down.

When Hillary walked onstage Thursday, Obama stood to her left waiting to shake hands and say hi, as he and Edwards had done with Chris Dodd. She turned her body away, refused to meet his eyes and froze him out. Again. And he looked taken aback. Again.

For the rest of the night she owned him. He was so off his game that he duplicated her dithering performance from the last debate on the issue of whether illegal immigrants should get driver’s licenses. After a tortured exchange with Wolf Blitzer, he ended up saying he favored it — one more sign that the law professor is oblivious to the visceral nature of campaigns.

Hillary brazenly leapt away from that politically devastating position and said she didn’t support the licenses anymore. And Obama didn’t even call her out on her third reversal on the matter.

She was willing to absorb the flip-flop criticism to cut her losses on an issue that could have dragged her to defeat in the general election.

Obama and Edwards, who both seemed shaken by a few seconds of pro-Hillary booing, let the front-runner set a ludicrous standard: that any criticism of her shifts on issues is “mudslinging” and a character attack.

She is a control freak — that’s why her campaign tried to coach wonky Iowa voters to ask wonky questions — and her male rivals are letting her take control.

The Democrats should not be afraid to mix it up now, while they have a chance, and get all the doubts and disputes out on the table. Taking some flak clearly made Hillary stronger.

If Rudy’s the nominee, he will go with relish to all the vulnerable places in Hillary’s past. At the Federalist Society on Friday, he had barely spoken the word “she” before the audience began tittering appreciatively.

He went through a whole faux- bemused riff on Hillary’s driver’s license twists without ever uttering her name: “First, she was for the idea, and supported Governor Spitzer, who wanted to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. Then she was against the idea. Then she was for and against the idea. And then finally she said it should be decided on a state-by-state basis. This is the only time in her career that she’s ever decided anything should be decided on a state-by-state basis. You know something? She picked out absolutely the wrong one. Right? I mean, this is one of the areas that is given to the federal government to deal with under our Constitution, the borders of the United States, immigration.”

Rudy laced his speech with faith references, including the assertion that America has “a divinely inspired role in the world” and a mission to “save a civilization from Islamic terrorism.”

Hillary has her work cut out for her. Rudy will not be so easy to spank.

25328  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: November 18, 2007, 07:52:19 AM
What ‘That Regan Woman’ Knows
New York Times     
By FRANK RICH
Published: November 18, 2007
NEW Yorkers who remember Rudy Giuliani as the bullying New York mayor, not as the terminally cheerful “America’s Mayor” cooing to babies in New Hampshire, have always banked on one certainty: his presidential candidacy was so preposterous it would implode before he got anywhere near the White House.

Surely, we reassured ourselves, the all-powerful Republican values enforcers were so highly principled that they would excommunicate him because of his liberal social views, three wives and estranged children. Or a firewall would be erected by the firefighters who are enraged by his self-aggrandizing rewrite of 9/11 history. Or Judith Giuliani, with her long-hidden first marriage and Louis Vuitton ’tude, would send red-state voters screaming into the night.

Wrong, wrong and wrong. But how quickly and stupidly we forgot about the other Judith in the Rudy orbit. That would be Judith Regan, who disappeared last December after she was unceremoniously fired from Rupert Murdoch’s publishing house, HarperCollins. Last week Ms. Regan came roaring back into the fray, a silver bullet aimed squarely at the heart of the Giuliani campaign.

Ms. Regan filed a $100 million lawsuit against her former employer, claiming she was unjustly made a scapegoat for the O. J. Simpson “If I Did It” fiasco that (briefly) embarrassed Mr. Murdoch and his News Corporation. But for those of us not caught up in the Simpson circus, what’s most riveting about the suit are two at best tangential sentences in its 70 pages: “In fact, a senior executive in the News Corporation organization told Regan that he believed she had information about Kerik that, if disclosed, would harm Giuliani’s presidential campaign. This executive advised Regan to lie to, and to withhold information from, investigators concerning Kerik.”

Kerik, of course, is Bernard Kerik, the former Giuliani chauffeur and police commissioner, as well as the candidate he pushed to be President Bush’s short-lived nominee to run the Department of Homeland Security. Having pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors last year, Mr. Kerik was indicted on 16 other counts by a federal grand jury 10 days ago, just before Ms. Regan let loose with her lawsuit. Whether Ms. Regan’s charge about that unnamed Murdoch “senior executive” is true or not — her lawyers have yet to reveal the evidence — her overall message is plain. She knows a lot about Mr. Kerik, Mr. Giuliani and the Murdoch empire. And she could talk.

Boy, could she! As New Yorkers who have crossed her path or followed her in the tabloids know, Ms. Regan has an epic temper. My first encounter with her came more than a decade ago when she left me a record-breaking (in vitriol and decibel level) voice mail message about a column I’d written on one of her authors. It was a relief to encounter a more mellow Regan at a Midtown restaurant some years later. She cordially introduced me to her dinner companion, Mr. Kerik, whose post-9/11 autobiography, “The Lost Son: A Life in Pursuit of Justice,” was under contract at her HarperCollins imprint, ReganBooks.

What I didn’t know then was that this married author and single editor were in pursuit of not just justice, but sex, too. Their love nest, we’d later learn, was an apartment adjacent to ground zero that had been initially set aside for rescue workers. Mr. Kerik believed his lover had every moral right to be there. As he tenderly explained in his acknowledgments in “The Lost Son” — published before the revelation of their relationship — there was “one hero who is missing” from his book’s tribute to “courage and honor” and “her name is Judith Regan.”

Few know more about Rudy than his perennial boon companion, Mr. Kerik. Perhaps during his romance with Ms. Regan he talked only of the finer points of memoir writing or about his theories of crime prevention or about his ideas for training the police in the Muslim world (an assignment he later received in Iraq and botched). But it is also plausible that this couple discussed everything Mr. Kerik witnessed at Mr. Giuliani’s side before, during and after 9/11. Perhaps he even explained to her why the mayor insisted, disastrously, that his city’s $61 million emergency command center be located in the World Trade Center despite the terrorist attack on the towers in 1993.

Perhaps, too, they talked about the business ventures the mayor established after leaving office. Mr. Kerik worked at Giuliani Partners and used its address as a mail drop for some $75,000 that turns up in the tax-fraud charges in his federal indictment. That money was Mr. Kerik’s pay for an 11-sentence introduction to another Regan-published book about 9/11, “In the Line of Duty.” Though that project’s profits were otherwise donated to the families of dead rescue workers, Mr. Kerik’s royalties were mailed to Giuliani Partners in the name of a corporate entity Mr. Kerik set up in Delaware. He would later claim that he made comparable donations to charity, but the federal indictment charges that $80,000 he took in charitable deductions were bogus.

Amazingly, given that he seeks the highest office in the land, Mr. Giuliani will not reveal the clients of Giuliani Partners. Perhaps he has trouble remembering them all. He testified in court last year that he has no memory of a mayoral briefing in which he was told of Mr. Kerik’s association with a company suspected of ties to organized crime.

Ms. Regan’s knowledge of Mr. Giuliani isn’t limited to whatever she learned from Mr. Kerik. She used to work for another longtime Giuliani pal, Roger Ailes, the media consultant for the first Giuliani campaign in 1989 and the impresario who created Fox News for Mr. Murdoch in 1996. A full-service mayor to his cronies, Mr. Giuliani lobbied hard to get the Fox News Channel on the city’s cable boxes and presided over Mr. Ailes’s wedding. Enter Ms. Regan, who was given her own program on Fox’s early lineup. Mr. Ailes came up with its rather inspired first title, “That Regan Woman.”

Who at the News Corporation supposedly asked Ms. Regan to lie to protect Rudy’s secrets? Her complaint does not say. But thanks to the political journal The Hotline, we do know that as of the summer Mr. Giuliani had received more air time from Fox News than any other G.O.P. candidate, much of it on the high-rated “Hannity & Colmes.” That show’s co-host, Sean Hannity, appeared at a Giuliani campaign fund-raiser this year.

Fox News coverage of Ms. Regan’s lawsuit last week was minimal. After all, Mr. Giuliani dismissed the whole episode as “a gossip column story,” and we know Fox would never stoop so low as to trade in gossip. The coverage was scarcely more intense at The Wall Street Journal, whose print edition included no mention of the suit’s reference to that “senior executive” at the News Corporation. (After bloggers noticed, the article was amended online.) The Journal is not quite yet a Murdoch property, but its editorial board has had its own show on Fox News since 2006.

During the 1990s, the Journal editorial board published so much dirt about the Clintons that it put the paper’s brand on an encyclopedic six-volume anthology titled “A Journal Briefing — Whitewater.” You’d think the controversies surrounding “America’s Mayor” are at least as sexy as the carnal scandals and alleged drug deals The Journal investigated back then. This month a Journal reporter not on its editorial board added the government of Qatar to the small list of known Giuliani Partners clients, among them the manufacturer of OxyContin. We’ll see if such journalism flourishes in the paper’s Murdoch era.

But beyond New York’s dailies and The Village Voice, the national news media, conspicuously the big three television networks, have rarely covered Mr. Giuliani much more aggressively than Mr. Murdoch’s Fox News has. They are more likely to focus on Mr. Giuliani’s checkered family history than the questions raised by his record in government and business. It’s astounding how many are willing to look the other way while recycling those old 9/11 videos.

One exception is The Chicago Tribune, which last month on its front page revisited the story of how, after Mr. Giuliani left office, his mayoral papers were temporarily transferred to a private, tax-exempt foundation run by his supporters and financed with $1.5 million from mostly undisclosed donors. The foundation, which shares the same address as Giuliani Partners, copied and archived the records before sending them back to New York’s municipal archives. Historians told The Tribune there’s no way to verify that the papers were returned to government custody intact. Mayor Bloomberg has since signed a law that will prevent this unprecedented deal from being repeated.

Journalists, like generals, love to refight the last war, so the unavailability of millions of Hillary Clinton’s papers has received all the coverage the Giuliani campaign has been spared. But while the release of those first lady records should indeed be accelerated, it’s hard to imagine many more scandals will turn up after six volumes of “Whitewater,” an impeachment trial and the avalanche of other investigative reportage on the Clintons then and now.

The Giuliani story, by contrast, is relatively virgin territory. And with the filing of a lawsuit by a vengeful eyewitness who was fired from her job, it may just have gained its own reincarnation of Linda Tripp.
25329  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Deterrent effect of Capital Punishment? on: November 18, 2007, 07:31:47 AM
NY Times:



By ADAM LIPTAK
Published: November 18, 2007


For the first time in a generation, the question of whether the death penalty deters murders has captured the attention of scholars in law and economics, setting off an intense new debate about one of the central justifications for capital punishment.

Related
Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate, by John J. Donohue and Justin Wolfers (Stanford Law Review, December 2005)
Is Capital Punishment Morally Required? Acts, Omissions and Life-Life Trade-offs, by Cass R. Sunstein and Adrian Vermuele (Stanford Law Review, December 2005)
Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect? New Evidence From Post-moratorium Panel Data, by Hashem Dezhbaksh, Paul H. Rubin and Joanna M. Shepherd (American Law and Economics Review 2003)
Deterrence Versus Brutalization: Capital Punsishment's Differing Impacts Among States, by Joanna Shepherd (Michigan Law Review, November 2005)
Prison Conditions, Capital Punishment and Deterrence, by Lawrence Katz, Steven D. Levitt and Ellen Shustorovich (American Law and Economics Review 2003)
Getting Off Death Row: Commuted Sentences and the Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment, by H. Naci Mocan and R. Kaj Gittings (Journal of Law and Economics, October 2003)
Capital Punishment and Capital Murder: Market Share and the Deterrent Effects of the Death Penalty, by Jeffrey Fagan, Franklin E. Zimring and Amanda Geller (Texas Law Review, June 2006)
According to roughly a dozen recent studies, executions save lives. For each inmate put to death, the studies say, 3 to 18 murders are prevented.



The effect is most pronounced, according to some studies, in Texas and other states that execute condemned inmates relatively often and relatively quickly.



The studies, performed by economists in the past decade, compare the number of executions in different jurisdictions with homicide rates over time — while trying to eliminate the effects of crime rates, conviction rates and other factors — and say that murder rates tend to fall as executions rise. One influential study looked at 3,054 counties over two decades.



“I personally am opposed to the death penalty,” said H. Naci Mocan, an economist at Louisiana State University and an author of a study finding that each execution saves five lives. “But my research shows that there is a deterrent effect.”



The studies have been the subject of sharp criticism, much of it from legal scholars who say that the theories of economists do not apply to the violent world of crime and punishment. Critics of the studies say they are based on faulty premises, insufficient data and flawed methodologies.

The death penalty “is applied so rarely that the number of homicides it can plausibly have caused or deterred cannot reliably be disentangled from the large year-to-year changes in the homicide rate caused by other factors,” John J. Donohue III, a law professor at Yale with a doctorate in economics, and Justin Wolfers, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote in the Stanford Law Review in 2005. “The existing evidence for deterrence,” they concluded, “is surprisingly fragile.”

Gary Becker, who won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1992 and has followed the debate, said the current empirical evidence was “certainly not decisive” because “we just don’t get enough variation to be confident we have isolated a deterrent effect.”



But, Mr. Becker added, “the evidence of a variety of types — not simply the quantitative evidence — has been enough to convince me that capital punishment does deter and is worth using for the worst sorts of offenses.”

The debate, which first gained significant academic attention two years ago, reprises one from the 1970’s, when early and since largely discredited studies on the deterrent effect of capital punishment were discussed in the Supreme Court’s decision to reinstitute capital punishment in 1976 after a four-year moratorium.



The early studies were inconclusive, Justice Potter Stewart wrote for three justices in the majority in that decision. But he nonetheless concluded that “the death penalty undoubtedly is a significant deterrent.”



The Supreme Court now appears to have once again imposed a moratorium on executions as it considers how to assess the constitutionality of lethal injections. The decision in that case, which is expected next year, will be much narrower than the one in 1976, and the new studies will probably not play any direct role in it.



But the studies have started to reshape the debate over capital punishment and to influence prominent legal scholars.



“The evidence on whether it has a significant deterrent effect seems sufficiently plausible that the moral issue becomes a difficult one,” said Cass R. Sunstein, a law professor at the University of Chicago who has frequently taken liberal positions. “I did shift from being against the death penalty to thinking that if it has a significant deterrent effect it’s probably justified.”



Professor Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule, a law professor at Harvard, wrote in their own Stanford Law Review article that “the recent evidence of a deterrent effect from capital punishment seems impressive, especially in light of its ‘apparent power and unanimity,’ ” quoting a conclusion of a separate overview of the evidence in 2005 by Robert Weisberg, a law professor at Stanford, in the Annual Review of Law and Social Science.

“Capital punishment may well save lives,” the two professors continued. “Those who object to capital punishment, and who do so in the name of protecting life, must come to terms with the possibility that the failure to inflict capital punishment will fail to protect life.”



To a large extent, the participants in the debate talk past one another because they work in different disciplines.



“You have two parallel universes — economists and others,” said Franklin E. Zimring, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of “The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment.” Responding to the new studies, he said, “is like learning to waltz with a cloud.”



To economists, it is obvious that if the cost of an activity rises, the amount of the activity will drop.



“To say anything else is to brand yourself an imbecile,” said Professor Wolfers, an author of the Stanford Law Review article criticizing the death penalty studies.



To many economists, then, it follows inexorably that there will be fewer murders as the likelihood of execution rises.



“I am definitely against the death penalty on lots of different grounds,” said Joanna M. Shepherd, a law professor at Emory with a doctorate in economics who wrote or contributed to several studies. “But I do believe that people respond to incentives.”

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



Page 2 of 2)



But not everyone agrees that potential murderers know enough or can think clearly enough to make rational calculations. And the chances of being caught, convicted, sentenced to death and executed are in any event quite remote. Only about one in 300 homicides results in an execution.


“I honestly think it’s a distraction,” Professor Wolfers said. “The debate here is over whether we kill 60 guys or not. The food stamps program is much more important.”


The studies try to explain changes in the murder rate over time, asking whether the use of the death penalty made a difference. They look at the experiences of states or counties, gauging whether executions at a given time seemed to affect the murder rate that year, the year after or at some other later time. And they try to remove the influence of broader social trends like the crime rate generally, the effectiveness of the criminal justice system, economic conditions and demographic changes.



Critics say the larger factors are impossible to disentangle from whatever effects executions may have. They add that the new studies’ conclusions are skewed by data from a few anomalous jurisdictions, notably Texas, and by a failure to distinguish among various kinds of homicide.

There is also a classic economics question lurking in the background, Professor Wolfers said. “Capital punishment is very expensive,” he said, “so if you choose to spend money on capital punishment you are choosing not to spend it somewhere else, like policing.”



A single capital litigation can cost more than $1 million. It is at least possible that devoting that money to crime prevention would prevent more murders than whatever number, if any, an execution would deter.

The recent studies are, some independent observers say, of good quality, given the limitations of the available data.



“These are sophisticated econometricians who know how to do multiple regression analysis at a pretty high level,” Professor Weisberg of Stanford said.



The economics studies are, moreover, typically published in peer-reviewed journals, while critiques tend to appear in law reviews edited by students.

The available data is nevertheless thin, mostly because there are so few executions.



In 2003, for instance, there were more than 16,000 homicides but only 153 death sentences and 65 executions.



“It seems unlikely,” Professor Donohue and Professor Wolfers concluded in their Stanford article, “that any study based only on recent U.S. data can find a reliable link between homicide and execution rates.”



The two professors offered one particularly compelling comparison. Canada has executed no one since 1962. Yet the murder rates in the United States and Canada have moved in close parallel since then, including before, during and after the four-year death penalty moratorium in the United States in the 1970s.



If criminals do not clearly respond to the slim possibility of an execution, another study suggested, they are affected by the kind of existence they will face in their state prison system.



A 2003 paper by Lawrence Katz, Steven D. Levitt and Ellen Shustorovich published in The American Law and Economics Review found a “a strong and robust negative relationship” between prison conditions, as measured by the number of deaths in prison from any cause, and the crime rate. The effect is, the authors say, “quite large: 30-100 violent crimes and a similar number or property crimes” were deterred per prison death.



On the other hand, the authors found, “there simply does not appear to be enough information in the data on capital punishment to reliably estimate a deterrent effect.”



There is a lesson here, according to some scholars.



“Deterrence cannot be achieved with a half-hearted execution program,” Professor Shepherd of Emory wrote in the Michigan Law Review in 2005. She found a deterrent effect in only those states that executed at least nine people between 1977 and 1996.



Professor Wolfers said the answer to the question of whether the death penalty deterred was “not unknowable in the abstract,” given enough data.



“If I was allowed 1,000 executions and 1,000 exonerations, and I was allowed to do it in a random, focused way,” he said, “I could probably give you an answer.”
25330  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Sleep-Industrial Complex Part Three on: November 18, 2007, 07:14:02 AM
(Page 7 of 9)

Charles Morin, the Laval University psychologist, told me that it’s not uncommon to discover that a particularly implacable case of insomnia snowballed out of a single stretch of poor sleep — even one with a clear, unavoidable cause, like stress over a new job. While most people eventually shrug off their trouble, the insomniac “forgets what brought about the sleeping problem in the first place,” Morin said. “They worry about not sleeping and how it will impact their daytime functioning, and they start to do things that make sleep more difficult.”

They take naps, throwing their schedule out of whack. Or they become too determined — Morin described patients taking a bath or getting into their pajamas at 7 o’clock, “just to get ready” — and that anticipation turns into performance anxiety. Lying there, they may monitor their progress too vigilantly or worry about the ramifications the next day of not falling asleep right away. This can produce a physiological reaction. Body temperature and blood pressure rise. Metabolism speeds up. Heart rate and brain waves quicken. In other words, the body can respond to the threat of not getting a good night’s sleep the same way it does to most threats: by becoming hyperaroused. “It’s a vicious cycle,” Morin said.

Those who get snared in it may share an unknown, physiological predisposition to insomnia. But whatever its cause, this feedback loop of agony, effort and failure plays out like an escalation of the kind of self-sabotage we’ve all probably experienced when we felt pressure to sleep well and be sharp the next day. “Most of the beliefs these people develop and strategies they employ are very logical and sensible,” Jack Edinger, a psychologist at Duke University and the V.A. Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, told me. But “unlike most things in life where, the harder you try, the better you do, with sleep the harder you try the worse you do.”

Edinger and Morin have been influential in the use of cognitive behavioral therapy, or C.B.T., to treat chronic insomnia. Studies have arguably shown it to be the most successful treatment for the problem and an astonishingly effective method of weaning insomniacs from sleeping pills — even those who have taken them every night for decades. C.B.T. Therapists work to establish good sleep habits but also to rewrite an insomniac’s unhelpful beliefs about sleep. One of the most typical and debilitating ones, Morin explained, is “that eight hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep is a must every night — and otherwise, without it, you can’t function during the day.” Fixating on that as a requirement only undoes a person. Besides, Morin added, a universal need for eight hours is simply “untrue.”

This is exactly the kind of admission other sleep experts I spoke with seemed not to want to make. They may worry that they’ll cause people to take sleep even less seriously than they already do. But C.B.T. seems to succeed by stripping away a crippling sense of urgency with respect to sleep. How powerless one feels over the quality of his sleep; how realistic his expectations; and whether he exaggerates the consequences of sleeping poorly — these have all been shown to correlate with the severity of an insomniac’s complaints. Morin has developed a scale to measure these beliefs. In a study utilizing this scale and led by Edinger, a person’s score emerged, with other measures of anxiety and mood, as a better predictor of his satisfaction with a night’s sleep than objective measures made in the lab — including how long he slept and how quickly he fell asleep. In fact, these objective measures didn’t seem to correlate to people’s sense of how well they slept at all.

Because sleep deprivation may exact a host of severe tolls on the body over time — which is to say nothing of exhaustion-related car accidents and other dangers — Edinger warns that there are people with appallingly disturbed sleep who “roll with the punches a little better and don’t seem to mind or complain — but maybe they should.” Still, C.B.T. suggests that, in certain cases, creating a purely subjective satisfaction with your sleep can have actual value, even if the sleep itself hasn’t yet objectively improved. While undermining the appeal of sleeping pills by positing the self-evident seeming role of amnesia, Morin noted that C.B.T. tries to foster a kind of amnesia, too. “After a poor night of sleep we’re asking people to forget about it and go about their business as usual,” he says. “Because if you wake up and think, Wow, what a terrible night of sleep, I’m going to have a lousy day, you’re setting yourself up for failure.”



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



Page 8 of 9)



This is not to say that a person who is more tolerant and less threatened by sleep’s inherent imperfections will suddenly get eight uninterrupted hours. But he might be less likely to start down that long, miserable road of perfectly sensible but damaging efforts to control sleep. And that could trigger a quantifiable improvement. If he establishes good habits and puts sufficient faith in his body to get the job done, he might stop trying, stop scrutinizing his progress and thereby stop perpetuating his own hyperarousal. He’d just lie there and wait. “The placebo effect may actually not just be a placebo,” Morin said. “It may produce a physiological predisposition to better sleeping.”

With that in mind, I decided to go see some more mattresses.

Twice a year, at the Las Vegas Market, furniture and mattress manufacturers fill 3.8 million square feet of showrooms in two titanic towers so that 50,000 retailers from around the world can see their wares. The mattress people I met there in August were affable, relaxed and, as always, frank about their industry’s challenges. At a seminar on creating “SleepSperiences” at the retail level, the speaker kicked things off by asking the room full of mattress salespeople what they thought shoppers most often compare them to. Everyone groaned, “Used-car salesman” at once, except the woman seated in front of me. She said, “Like going to the dentist.”

Pete Bils did not attend. He was getting ready to introduce the Sleep Number 9000 at a media event in New York, an upbeat counterpunch to the company’s recent announcement that same-store sales and net earnings had dropped in the previous quarter. There was significant buzz about Tempur-Pedic, though, specifically its new television commercials. The spots, which explained the beds’ even pressure distribution over montages of all things tranquil — tide pools, redwoods, yoga — were emerging as early masterworks of the new, selling-better-sleep genre. They ended with an invitation to “learn more about our science and experience our soul.” “I mean, what an awesome combination of words,” Furniture Today’s David Perry told me.

When I visited Serta’s Las Vegas showroom, an executive named Andrew Gross was eager to show me that a traditional innerspring company like his was just as capable of selling better sleep. Right off the bat, he pointed me to the Serta Perfect Day mattress, noting its emphasis on the mattress as a facilitator of perfect days. Eventually, he led me to an all-foam bed conceived with the participation of the clothing designer Vera Wang and sold under the Vera Wang by Serta label. Gross reached down and picked an almost invisible black speck of something off the top of the bed, then began describing its specifications. In conclusion, he told me that, like all of Serta’s products, this particular mattress was designed to “relieve stress.” I asked him how it did that. We stood there for a second, side by side. Then he said, “Well, it’s a combination of the sleep surface materials and the peace of mind that comes from it being a Vera Wang.”

I looked around the showroom. A man painted white, wearing a toga, stood on a podium, changing statuesque positions every few minutes. In the corner, a harpist played “Desperado.” I began to wonder if much of the hyperrational mattress talk I’d been hearing also provided this kind of emotional, Vera Wang benefit. The hard-to-follow, layer-by-layer tours of each bed’s many patented technologies; the scientific studies and pressure maps; the frequent invocations of NASA engineers; and even the outsize, sleep-obsessed persona of Pete Bils, senior director of sleep innovation and clinical research, himself — they reassure us that a mattress maker is serious and capable; that, given how precarious a thing we’ve turned sleep into, their bed will give us the best shot of succeeding when we climb into it. Even our relationship with the mattress, then, appears muddled up in the same mysterious space between a subjectively good night’s sleep and an objectively good one — how we feel and whether or not we can prove it. And whether the industry realizes it or not, its fledgling campaign to sell better sleep is grappling with the question of which is actually more important to us and which we’re willing to pay for.



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If ramping up messages about sleep science and technology while bombarding us with medical incentives helps sell more beds, it will be because it speaks to our view that better sleep is primarily a requirement for better wakefulness — that we “sleep to succeed,” as a recent industry-financed release puts it. (This same report notes that “sleep deprivation currently costs U.S. businesses nearly $150 billion annually in absenteeism and lost productivity.”) And yet it’s this very view — that sleep is a bothersome means to an end, like eating enough Omega-3’s — that problematized sleep in the first place. It encouraged us to power through sleep as efficiently as possible or look for shortcuts.

We all might be better off if the industry sold sleep as something to be savored for its own sake, if it just sold sanctuaries and not sanctuaries that are also clinically proven “sleep systems.” That might help us shed an anxiety about sleeping correctly for a more tolerant love of sleeping well, in whatever form sleeping well might take. Oddly, in some cases, that may be the most efficient way of getting empirical results anyway. That is, the industry may only be able to truly offer the kind of life-changing mattresses it sometimes claims to if it fixes the people sleeping in them first.

But that may be just too big a job. When I carried on about this to David Perry in Las Vegas, he told me that enjoying sleep is wonderful but it, by itself, is a hopeless way to move mattresses given how results-oriented the American consumer is. “Remember,” he said, “the key benefit is what happens the next morning.” To make sure I understood, he tossed off a few slogans in the direction he thought the business ought to be heading: “Sleep better, lose weight.” “Sleep better and live longer.” “Sleep better and be more productive the next day.”

Ultimately the Las Vegas Market wore me out. Everywhere I went people were selling me mattresses — if not a particular mattress, then the mystique of mattresses in general. I left exhausted, making my way down the tower’s endless segments of escalators. When I got halfway, I started to find, on each of the landings, a man strumming a ukulele and a woman in a grass skirt and coconut bikini, hula dancing.

The “Polynesian Dreams” luau was getting under way. Below, in the atrium, the staff was rolling thatched-roofed tiki bars into place and stocking them with ice and mugs with totemic faces painted on them. A massive sea horse rose from an hors d’oeuvres table. The same salesmen I’d been seeing around the showrooms turned up wearing leis, loosening up for what looked like a late night. I caught a shuttle back to my hotel, set two alarms for seven the next morning and eventually drifted off watching “Knocked Up” on pay-per-view. As far as I know, I slept well enough.


25331  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Part Two on: November 18, 2007, 07:12:57 AM
Page 4 of 9)

The 9000 was engineered with heat in mind. Bils explained that, as you fall asleep, your body temperature drops. A mattress should disperse the heat you’re expelling. Otherwise the bed “sleeps hot,” cooking you in your own trapped body heat. Sleeping hot is a growing complaint about many beds and may be a consequence of the industry’s manic emphasis on comfort: the shift toward using less-breathable, synthetic materials that conform more snugly to the body, and then stacking them to greater thicknesses. Memory foam especially has a reputation for sleeping hot, though Tempur-Pedic, which sells only foam beds, disputes it as “largely urban myth.” For the 9000, Select Comfort claims to have used a memory foam porous enough to provide air flow but not porous enough to tear apart over time. Yet as they detailed these meticulous solutions to the heat issue, the half-dozen Select Comfort executives in the room insisted that sleeping hot had never been a problem with their beds to begin with.

Soon the engineers turned the program over to Kris Willardson, the company’s accessories maven. Willardson had set up a makeshift display on top of a cabinet and, now and again, had been interjecting to show me whichever of her pillows or sheets dovetailed on the subject at hand. “What we also did,” she now said, “was build Outlast into a pillow protector.” I didn’t know what that was. “Pillow protectors are used on top of your pillow but under your pillow case,” she explained, holding one up. There were phase-changing microcapsules in there as well.

Too many sleepers flip their pillows all night long, looking for the cool side, only to heat it up again, Willardson said. “To the extent that it disturbs your sleep, that is one less thing you’ll be doing. So complementary products keep reinforcing those messages.”

The message, I suppose, behind so many of the mattress industry’s claims is that all of a bed’s high-tech features should combine to create nothing at all — a space free of any impediments to sleep whatsoever. Even the message of the Sleep Number Bed itself, with its two independently inflatable halves, was that your sleep should not be compromised by the adversarial preferences for firmness of the person you love. Now the mattress would shield you from your own body heat, free you from rolling over and end the Sisyphean cycle of flipping and reflipping your sizzling pillow. The industry was clearing the decks for that big, long nothingness to take hold.

Even the most comfortable mattress can only create a place for sleep, not manufacture it directly. But a sleeping pill puts us down — and under circumstances when we’re unable to do it ourselves. Bils told me: “The sleeping pill is an easy path. It promotes sleep over all the rules you break.” In trying to deride his competition, he spelled out its greatest advantage.

Pharmaceutical companies realize they are selling a reassuring guarantee. “Does your restless mind keep you from sleeping?” asks one Lunesta commercial, while the green moth floats in front of a tossing man. Suddenly, like a hypnotist’s watch, it dispatches him into a deep slumber and flies on to lull even the stern, stone visages of Mount Rushmore to sleep. A couple in a commercial for Ambien CR, meanwhile, lie absolutely motionless all night until the darkness around them fades to daylight.

Last year the industry spent more than $600 million on advertising, helping the newest generation of pills, the so-called “Z drugs,” destigmatize sleeping-pill use. The nation’s most popular, Ambien and its extended-release counterpart Ambien CR, accounted for 60 percent of all sleep-aid prescriptions last year according to IMS Health, for $2.8 billion in sales. Surely great numbers of Americans are experiencing the kind of satisfying knockouts depicted in the commercials.

Yet, as a very infrequent but contented user of both Lunesta and Ambien myself, I was startled to read efficacy trials for those drugs submitted to the F.D.A. In one six-week trial, for example, people taking Ambien every night fell asleep, on average, only 23 minutes faster than those taking the placebo. They spent 88 percent of their time in bed asleep, as opposed to 82 percent. Given that their objectively measured improvements are frequently this meager, why do sleeping pills create incommensurate feelings of having slept so well?



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A popular theory is that one of the pill’s side-effects is actually contributing to their success. Most sleeping pills are known to block the formation of memories during their use, creating amnesia. This is why people who endure freaky side-effects — so-called “complex sleep-related behaviors” like getting into a car and driving or ravenously eating, all while asleep — don’t remember those events. Yet this amnesia could be quite beneficial, suggests Michael Bonnet, a professor of neurology at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine in Dayton, Ohio. “How do you know you slept last night?” Bonnet asked me. A night of lousy, interrupted sleep, he points out, is easy to remember. “It’s full of memories, noise and pain, and heat and rolling around and obtrusive thoughts and worries — all of these various stimuli.” And we may continue to register such things even while asleep, making sleep vaguely unrefreshing. But a good night of sleep, Bonnet went on to say, “is always the antithesis to all those things, which is oblivion.” A sleeping pill, Bonnet speculates, in addition to encouraging sleep chemically in the brain, also “erases all of these thoughts that we use to define ourselves as being awake. The pill knocks them all out, and the patient says, ‘Hey, I must have been asleep because I don’t remember anything.’ ”

Drug-company representatives and consultants I spoke to confirm that their pills can create this mild form of amnesia but disagree that it contributes any significant benefit. “That is not my understanding of how Ambien works,” Dario Mirski, a psychiatrist and spokesman for Ambien’s manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis, told me. It is difficult to find a clinical trial in which Z-drug takers drastically overestimated how long they slept.

Andrew Krystal, a Duke University psychiatrist and consultant to pharmaceutical companies like Sepracor, Lunesta’s manufacturer, acknowledges an apparent discrepancy in studies between small, objectively recorded improvements and the large percentage of subjects who end up feeling that a pill alleviated their insomnia. But because insomnia is complaint-based, he explained to me, an insomniac is cured when he stops complaining. Who’s to say how many more minutes of sleep or fewer awakenings during the night it should take to relieve each individual’s highly subjective dissatisfaction? Many insomniacs don’t show impaired sleep by any objective measure to begin with — but presumably they benefit from sleeping pills, too. So, Krystal asked, what would you expect to see improve? (A 1990 study presents a jarring example: it focused on a group of insomniacs who, when woken up, swore they hadn’t been sleeping. But if given a sleeping pill first, then woken up, they knew they’d been asleep.) He added, “I’m not a person who shares the view that the reason the drugs work is because they’re amnestic.”

Another prevalent theory is that sleeping pills produce a beneficial physiological effect that clinicians don’t realize they should be measuring. The standard battery of brain-wave and other measurements used in sleep labs provide only a “limited picture,” Krystal said. Nevertheless, several researchers suggested why the amnesia factor isn’t likely to be explained to patients, even as a theory. We tend to see sleep problems as physiological. A treatment that works, even in part, by altering our perception of that problem would seem like “more of a fake,” says Charles Morin, director of the Sleep Research Center at Laval University in Quebec City. Imagine, Morin said, if doctors told their patients: “You keep waking up at night but you just don’t remember it.”

Sleep doctors have criticized sleeping-pill ads for setting up an unattainable expectation of how blissful and easy sleep should be. But the mattress industry operates under that expectation, too, trying vigorously to build a state-of-the-art, NASA-engineered arena on which that idealized, paralytic oblivion can occur. But how did we come to need so much help sleeping in the first place, and how did we come to want, much less expect, the sleep these people are selling?

The story of our ruined sleep, in virtually every telling I’ve heard, begins with Thomas Edison: electric light destroyed the sanctity of night. Given more to do and more opportunity to do it, we gave sleep shorter and shorter shrift. But the sleep that we’re now trying to reclaim may never have been ours to begin with. “It’s a myth,” A. Roger Ekirch, a professor of history at Virginia Tech, told me. “And it’s a myth that even some sleep experts today have bought into.”

Ekirch’s 2005 book, “At Day’s Close,” described just how frenetic night in preindustrial times was. People slept, or tried to, in poorly insulated buildings that let in the weather and noise. Livestock huffed and mewled and stank just outside — if not inside. Generally, you slept beside a chamber pot of your own excrement, staggering across the room every few hours to keep your fire alive. With physical health comparatively poor, night was when people simmered most acutely in their discomfort. In 1750, one writer described London between the hours of 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. as a ghastly encampment of “sick and lame people meditating and languishing on their several disorders, and praying for daylight.”



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Because there was inadequate bedding, if there were beds at all, three family members and the odd houseguest might sleep on a single mattress — sharing in all the usual annoyances of tossing, blanket-hogging and snoring. Beds were not always, or even often, seen as having much impact on sleep. Another book, “Warm and Snug: The History of the Bed,” by a scholar named Lawrence Wright, suggests that they were valued primarily as furniture, settings for public rituals around birth, death and courtship. Beds did raise you up off the floor, away from the bugs and vermin, and kept you warm. But warmer bedding also created a new vector for mites. And when comfort was a consideration, preferences were just as idiosyncratic as today. Mattresses were stuffed with hair, moss, feathers, wood shavings, seaweed or straw. Louis XI had an uncannily Sleep Number-esque mattress, filled with air and inflated to his liking with a royal bellows.

More surprising still, Ekirch reports that for many centuries, and perhaps back to Homer, Western society slept in two shifts. People went to sleep, got up in the middle of the night for an hour or so, and then went to sleep again. Thus night — divided into a “first sleep” and “second sleep” — also included a curious intermission. “There was an extraordinary level of activity,” Ekirch told me. People got up and tended to their animals or did housekeeping. Others had sex or just lay in bed thinking, smoking a pipe, or gossiping with bedfellows. Benjamin Franklin took “cold-air baths,” reading naked in a chair.

Our conception of sleep as an unbroken block is so innate that it can seem inconceivable that people only two centuries ago should have experienced it so differently. Yet in an experiment at the National Institutes of Health a decade ago, men kept on a schedule of 10 hours of light and 14 hours of darkness — mimicking the duration of day and night during winter — fell into the same, segmented pattern. They began sleeping in two distinct, roughly four-hour stretches, with one to three hours of somnolence — just calmly lying there — in between. Some sleep disorders, namely waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall asleep again, “may simply be this traditional pattern, this normal pattern, reasserting itself,” Ekirch told me. “It’s the seamless sleep that we aspire to that’s the anomaly, the creation of the modern world.”

In fact, many contemporary, nonindustrialized cultures contentedly pass portions of the night in the same state of somnolence, says Carol Worthman, an anthropologist at Emory University who is one of the first to look at how other societies sleep. Sleep and wakefulness are rarely seen as an either/or, but rather as two ends of a wide spectrum, and people are far more at peace with the fluidity in between. Among the Efe in Zaire, and the !Kung in Botswana, for example, someone who wakes up in the middle of the night and cannot sleep “may begin to hum, or go out and play the thumb piano,” Worthman and a colleague have written. Others might wake up and join in. “Music or even a dance may get going.”

Worthman says, “In our culture, quality sleep is going into a dark room that is totally quiet, lying down, falling asleep, doing that for eight hours, and then getting up again.” She calls it the “lie down and die” model. “But that is not how much of the world has slept in the past or even sleeps today.” In some cultures sleep is more social, with crowds crammed together on little or no bedding, limbs entangled, while a steady traffic comes and goes. And while it all sounds unbearable, Worthman notes that science has never looked empirically at whether our more sophisticated arrangements actually benefit us. For children, learning to sleep amid all that stimulation may actually have developmental advantages.

Still, we can’t afford the same equanimity about not sleeping through the night as the Efe and !Kung; the flipside is that men and women in those cultures are content to pull a cloth over their faces and doze off during the day if necessary. Our peculiar preference for one well-organized hunk of sleep likely evolved as a corollary to our expectation of uninterrupted wakefulness during the day — as our lives came to be governed by a single, stringent clock. Eluned Summers-Bremner, author of the forthcoming “Insomnia: A Cultural History,” explains that in the 18th century, “we start overvaluing our waking time, and come to see our sleeping time only as a way to support our waking time.” Consequently, we begin trying to streamline sleep, to get it done more economically: “We should lie down and go out right away so we can get up and get to the day right away.” She describes insomniacs as having a ruthless ambition to do just this, wanting to administer sleep as an efficiency expert normalizes the action in a factory. Certainly all of us, after a protracted failure to fall asleep for whatever reason, have turned solemnly to our alarm clocks and performed that desperate arithmetic: If I fall asleep right now, I can still get four hours.

Nevertheless, while it may be at odds with our history and even our biology, lie-down-and-die is the only practical model for our lifestyle. Unless we overhaul society to tolerate all schedules and degrees of sleepiness and attentiveness, we are stuck with that ideal. Perhaps the real problem is that we still haven’t come to terms with the unavoidable imperfection of this state of affairs.

Electric light didn’t obliterate nighttime so much as reinvent it. Our power to toggle between light and dark encouraged us to see night as an empty antithesis to day — an unbroken nothing-time that begins the instant we flip off the switch. And this significantly reshaped and rigidified our expectations of how we ought to be spending it. All of this leaves us — regardless of the circumstances or how poor our sleep hygiene is — insisting that we go out, and stay out, like a light.

Our expectation of perfect sleep may not always be biologically feasible. But it is indisputably reasonable, and thus a failure to fulfill it can be maddening. Difficulty sleeping, it turns out, is often inseparable from and heightened by anxiety about sleep itself.
25332  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Sleep-Industiral Complex on: November 18, 2007, 07:11:14 AM
By JON MOOALLEM
Published: November 18, 2007
Pete Bils’s background is in sales — or, as he puts it, “retail concepts.” He joined Select Comfort 12 years ago to teach its salespeople how to better sell the company’s Sleep Number Bed. The Sleep Number Bed is an air-filled mattress. Each side can be inflated with a little remote control to the ideal level of firmness for the person sleeping on it — his or her “sleep number,” zero to 100 — thus accommodating a husband who prefers his side firm and a wife who likes hers softer. You may recognize the Sleep Number Bed from its television commercials featuring the original Bionic Woman, Lindsay Wagner. Or you may have seen Bils himself explicating its many features and benefits in the loneliest hours of the night on the QVC shopping network.

Off-camera, Bils spends much of his time reading scientific research. He mingles at medical conferences and is chairman of the company’s “Sleep Advisory Board,” a consortium of doctors. He “sleep tinkers,” coordinating pilot studies in sleep labs to understand how to build the mattress of the future. His goal at Select Comfort is to educate Americans about the science and benefits of healthful sleep, and this, plus his title — senior director of sleep innovation and clinical research — makes him seem deliberately more man-of-science than mattress-salesman. The distinction is less clear-cut when it comes to the man himself.
“How’d you sleep last night?” Bils asked, strolling into a conference room to meet me at the company’s headquarters outside Minneapolis one morning last summer. He blared it, the way certain men blare, “Darn glad to meet you.” Later, sitting down to lunch, he noted that the weather had not been “muggy” or “unbearable” but “bad sleeping weather.” Then raising a smile from behind his menu, he issued another electrifying “How’d you sleep last night?”— this time at the waiter who’d come to take his order. The waiter, it turned out, hadn’t slept so well. After some chitchat, Bils ordered the risotto.

Bils, who is 48, is olive-skinned, handsome and, like virtually everyone else Select Comfort arranged for me to meet, relentlessly upbeat. At lunch, I let several minutes pass just listening to the table of executives tell one another how awesome their own Sleep Number Beds are. (Employees have their individual sleep numbers printed on their business cards.) One woman described having to take Tylenol PM to make it through a recent night away from home. Bils said he ships out a Sleep Number Bed when he travels to do QVC tapings. His daughters have slept on Sleep Numbers since they left the crib, and he even jury-rigged something similar for his bulldog. “I’ve learned a lot about sleep from my dogs,” he said. For starters, all bulldogs appear to have sleep apnea. One of the two public relations officers supervising my visit jumped in: her dog’s sleep number is 10, she said; she sets her bed for him at night. “Do whales have REM sleep?” another colleague asked Bils. “Yes, a form of it,” Bils said. Eventually, he turned to me and summed up with a groaner: “We firmly believe — no pun intended — that a mattress can make significant changes in sleep quality.” This turns out to be a very radical idea.

For years, doctors have been discouraged by Americans’ disregard for and mismanagement of their sleep. (“I might as well have been running a chain of beauty parlors for the last four decades” is how one described his advocacy.) But bragging about how little you sleep, a hallmark of the ’80s power broker, is starting in certain circles to come off as masochistic buffoonery. The sleep docs we once ignored appear on morning shows to offer tips. Health professionals and marketers are hopeful that a new seriousness about sleep will continue moving out of a luxury-minded vanguard and into the mainstream. Sleep may finally be claiming its place beside diet and exercise as both a critical health issue and a niche for profitable consumer products.

A sleep boom, or as Forbes put it last year, “a sleep racket,” is under way. Business 2.0 estimates American “sleeponomics” to be worth $20 billion a year, which includes everything from the more than 1,000 accredited sleep clinics (some of them at spas) conducting overnight tests for disorders like apnea, to countless over-the-counter and herbal sleep aids, to how-to books and sleep-encouraging gadgets and talismans. Zia Sleep Sanctuary, a first of its kind luxury sleep store that I visited in Eden Prairie, Minn., carries “light-therapy” visors, the Zen Alarm Clock, the Mombasa Majesty mosquito net and a $600 pair of noise-canceling earplugs as well as 16 varieties of mattresses and 30 different pillows.

Prescription sleeping pills have been the most obvious beneficiary. Forty-nine million prescriptions were written last year, up 53 percent from five years ago, according to IMS Health, a health-care information company. It is now a $3.7 billion business, more than doubling since 2003. At $3 or $4 per pill, their success indicates not only that we have an increasingly urgent craving for sleep but also that many of us have apparently forgotten how to do it altogether — quite a feat for any mammal.

To hear the mattress industry tell it, we’re skipping them over. A few companies have tried to cash in with ultra-high-end novelties. A video promoting Hastens’s $60,000 Vividus bed shows the horsehair it’s stuffed with being sensuously detangled and fluffed by shapely Nordic women. But more down-to-earth mattresses have not conjured any of that allure. Despite long and influential success in the industry, for instance, Select Comfort’s stock was struggling around the time of my visit. And so America’s mattress men, traditionally a band of fast-talking, price-busting commodities brokers, are now trying to figure out how to transform their anonymous white rectangles into holistic health and wellness machines.

More than once, I heard mattress executives invoke the spectral characters of sleeping-pill commercials — the Day-Glo green moth; Abe Lincoln and the talking beaver — as chastening mascots of everything they’re missing out on. Some point to the quick-fix mentality sleeping pills represent as a sign of how thoroughly confused about sleep society has become. “The good news is, there’s more and more awareness about the power of a good night’s sleep,” says David Perry, bedding editor of the trade magazine Furniture Today. The bad news: “What we’re doing in America is, we’re drugging people to make it through the night on, in many cases, a lousy bed.”



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Our misunderstandings about sleep have been centuries in the making. As has already happened in the food and nutrition businesses, some sectors of our new sleep-industrial complex will surely find it profitable to clear up our confusion, while others will simply exploit it. But as mattress companies and sleeping-pill makers both barrel into the marketplace to sell us a good night’s sleep, it’s tough to know where in the jumble of science and storytelling the truth about sleep lies.

All good nights of sleep are alike. Each miserable night of sleep is miserable in its own way. You either close your eyes and, many hours later, open them, or you endure an idiosyncratic epic of waiting, trying, failing, irritation, self-sabotage and despair, then stand up at sunrise racked with war stories you don’t have the energy to tell.

Sleep research is a young field and still doesn’t have a definitive picture of what “normal” sleep is, making discussions of abnormal sleep imprecise. The National Institutes of Health can define insomnia only very broadly, as “complaints of disturbed sleep in the presence of adequate opportunity and circumstance for sleep.” Insomnia can be transient — a few off nights — or horrifically chronic. Complaints may be about difficulty falling asleep or about waking up during the night. But it’s hard to know exactly what those complaints should be judged against. Nor has research determined which objective measures — total time slept, percentage of time spent in the various stages of sleep, etc. — correlate to a person’s subjective feeling of having slept well or poorly. Some people whose sleep looks normal in the lab complain bitterly; some whose sleep looks terrible never do.

Even something as empirical-seeming as how long we sleep becomes problematic. In studies, insomniacs almost invariably overestimate how long it took them to fall asleep and underestimate how long they slept; in one, more than a third of the participants consistently thought they’d slept at least an hour less than their brain-wave activity indicated. Yet in a way, this hardly matters. Wallace Mendelson, past president of the Sleep Research Society, explained to me, “When a patient comes to a doctor, he doesn’t say, ‘I’m here to see you because my EEG shows an insufficient number of minutes of sleep.’ He comes to you saying: ‘I don’t feel like I’m getting enough. I’m tired.’ ” Thus, while insomnia is frequently linked to another, distinct physiological disease or disorder, its diagnosis and treatment often remain, much like pain, locked in the realm of our own inscrutable reports.

Fewer than half of Americans say they get a good night’s sleep every night or almost every night, according to a 2005 poll by the National Sleep Foundation. The N.S.F. is a nonprofit largely financed by the pharmaceutical industry and one of many groups — including the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Better Sleep Council, a nonprofit supported by the mattress industry — that have pushed the value of sleep, and the perils of sleep deprivation and disorders, into public view. (You can mark the change in seasons with their press releases. End of summer: “From Zzzs to A’s: Healthy Sleep Is Key for Back-to-School Success.” Daylight Savings Time: “Fall Back Into Bed and Catch Up on Your Sleep.”)

Some of America’s dissatisfaction likely boils down to poor “sleep hygiene” — basic bad habits like not keeping a regular bedtime; overconsumption of alcohol or coffee; or winding ourselves up with work or television before bed. There is a sometimes-stunning failure to see sleep’s cause-and-effect relationship to what we do while awake. One therapist told me he cured a man’s insomnia by suggesting he stop eating spicy Indian curry late at night. Bils says, “Most sleep problems are self-inflicted by sleepers not knowing how to sleep.” Moreover, doctors have long warned that Americans are suffering from self-caused sleep deprivation without even realizing it. The most damaging and persistent delusion we’ve acquired about sleep is that the vital human function is optional. As one psychologist puts it, “You don’t have people walking around figuring out how to get by on less air.”

Getting Americans to come to bed is therefore still the mattress industry’s first challenge. Recently it has been gathering behind the idea of “selling better sleep,” promoting a fuller understanding of sleep and its health benefits. Bils’s research and advocacy at Select Comfort exemplifies the approach, as does a recent series of appearances by doctors at mattress stores around the country, sponsored by Leggett & Platt, the leading supplier of steel springs. Mark Quinn, a Leggett & Platt vice president, told me, “I think nutrition and fitness have done a great job, and I look at them as example industries.” They’ve taught the public: “If you don’t eat right, you’ll die. If you don’t exercise, you’ll die.”



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Quinn delivered a galvanizing pep talk on selling better sleep to an industry convention in April. He cited new research linking insufficient sleep to poorer metabolism and appetite control. “Are you telling me that we can say, as an industry, ‘If you sleep better you might be able to lose weight?’ ” he said as a slide reading “Chronic sleep deprivation could be making you fat!” filled the wall behind him. Plus, he continued, a bad night of sleep makes you look worn out. “We have a product that can make you look good, and we never talk about it to anybody!” Quinn later told me, “Create the pain, then give them the solution.”

Still, says Furniture Today’s David Perry: “the mattress is not nearly as sexy a part of the equation as drugs or sleep-disorder centers. It just kind of lies there.” For generations many consumers perceived the innerspring beds of the three dominant “S-brands” — Sealy, Serta and Simmons — to be interchangeable. A Gallup poll 10 years ago found that nearly half of Americans didn’t know what brand of mattress they slept on. The industry blamed itself, often ruthlessly.

“The sleep industry has cheapened the mattress,” says Rick Anderson, North American president for Tempur-Pedic. (Tempur-Pedic is the leader in visco-elastic foam, sometimes called “memory foam,” mattresses, made from spongy polyurethane.) Retailers know they are selling a product bought only grudgingly and only once every 12 or 15 years. So they’ve emphasized low prices, shouting about limited-time-only sales that never actually end. “It’s ‘Buy it cheap, buy it now,’ ” Anderson says. “You turn the mattress into a low-priced commodity and, lo and behold, you shouldn’t be surprised when the consumer tells you the mattress isn’t that important.”+

Both Select Comfort and Tempur-Pedic began trying to change that perception when they introduced their beds in the late ’80s and ’90s. As noninnerspring or “alternative bedding” companies, they were burdened with proving that what they had — air and foam respectively — was not only better than the grid of steel springs we’d employed for a century but worth prices as high as $7,000. Unfortunately, the scant published scientific literature on mattresses offered little help. (There had been few real developments since the ’50s, when one of the first studies exploring the effects of different sleep surfaces found that the differences between sleeping on a new mattress and on a piece of plywood with some carpet slung over it were “not large and not always statistically significant.”) So Select Comfort financed its own mattress research and now shows in its marketing how people’s sleep improved on the Sleep Number Bed in labs at Stanford and Duke.

Select Comfort also began using pressure mapping in its stores. Pressure mapping is a digital diagnostic that shows on a computer screen how the mattress is evenly distributing a customer’s weight and conforming around his body. It illustrates “that you’re wearing the mattress versus lying on top of it,” Bils says. Points of high pressure are uncomfortable, the thinking goes. They force a sleeper to shift or roll over, and that movement disturbs sleep. There doesn’t appear to be solid scientific validation of this theory; typical sleepers have been shown to change positions 20 to 60 times a night. But when I mentioned that to Anderson at Tempur-Pedic, which promotes its beds for the same reason, he shot back: “They don’t need to.”

By 2005, noninnerspring beds accounted for nearly a quarter of the

$4.6 billion spent on mattresses. Their staying power and overt sciencey-ness had colossal ripple effects on the entire industry. Jim Gabbert, the second-generation mattress retailer behind Zia Sleep Sanctuary, explains: “At first everyone saw air and visco as a fad, like water beds. ‘It won’t amount to much.’ Now all the mainstream innerspring manufacturers are scrambling to compete with those guys. Those specialty manufacturers taught the mainline brand names that you can price things higher, add more features, have a better story.”

The big question became, what else might Americans sleep on — and what combinations of things? The S-brands rolled out their own memory foam beds. Latex foams, modestly successful for decades, also came into vogue — as did various gels. Meanwhile, the industry was finally breaking down the wives’ tale that firm mattresses are always better. “Comfort” became the new buzzword, freeing manufacturers to combine all their new, high-tech materials in infinite iterations on a single bed. Pillowtops, distinct slabs of cushy material stitched on the tops of mattresses, gradually thickened, and beds ascended skyward, layer by layer, in towers of trademarked babble. Serta offers KoolComfort foam. Simmons makes Natural Care Latex and, via its brand ComforPedic, NxG Advanced Memory Foam. Having muscled their way into a virtual stalemate of technology inside the mattress, manufacturers seem to have merely started their arms race all over again on top of it. The end result may not be much better; rather than seeing beds as all the same, consumers are often totally incapable of understanding their countless differences. “It does get confusing,” says Brandon Jackson, bedding director at Houston’s Gallery Furniture store. “After a while, those layers are really only there to add to the cost.” When Jackson started six and a half years ago, selling a $1,000 mattress was “a home run.” Now his average ticket is $3,300.

Standing in Select Comfort’s R. and D. building, among the new, retooled Sleep Number Beds just released, it was clear that the company couldn’t disagree more with Jackson’s view. Two engineers knelt and unzipped the covering of the Sleep Number 9000, the top of the line, to show me its layers. Stacked above the two inflatable air chambers were a blue memory foam, another proprietary foam called Intralux and a thin white scrim with a honeycomb pattern on it. This was called Outlast Adaptive Comfort, which, like Tempur-Pedic’s foam, was originally developed for NASA. Outlast’s tiny, “encapsulated phase change materials” actually switch back and forth from liquid to solid, absorbing heat and producing a pronounced cooling sensation.

25333  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islam in UK: Wants to go home for free on: November 18, 2007, 06:41:48 AM
Illegal immigrant demands to be flown home
Illegal immigrant demands to be flown home because Britons are 'rude and unfriendly'
Last updated at 11:13am on 16th November 2007



An illegal immigrant has demanded to be flown home after saying he was fed up with British people - because they are "rude and unfriendly".

Speaking today, Mokhtar Tabet, 30 - who has been given a home, food and free travel around London - claims his local council has breached his human rights by moving him to a place he does not like.
He was refused asylum in 2004 and is set to be deported.

He said: "The council evicted me from my home in September and moved me to Streatham, which I don't like.

"The new place is small, and the kitchen closes at 9pm, so I can't have anything to eat late at night. They have taken away my human rights."

Croydon Council says it has bent over backwards to help Tabet, who fled Algeria in 2002.



A spokesman said: "Mr Tabet was accommodated in Norbury Crescent, with Croydon Council paying his rent, council tax and utility bills.

"In July, his landlord gave him two months' notice to quit the premises, and the council offered him a flat in Anerley Road, which he refused citing its poor state of repair.

"The necessary repairs were carried out and he again refused it.

"He was told that refusal would amount to him making himself intentionally homeless and he would be placed in hostel-style accommodation. He agreed to this."

Mr Tabet is entitled to return to Algeria at his own expense and admits that he "does not like it here".

But he refuses to do so and says Britain will have to pay for his travel if it wants him to leave.

He moaned: "I miss Algeria. The English people are not helpful, they are so unfriendly and rude.
"I thought I had made friends in Croydon, but when I ask them for money they don't give me it, so I know they can't be my friends."

Mr Tabet fled Algeria in 2002 after being arrested for refusing to give up his home so the army could monitor terrorist activity in his town.

Released after 30 days' solitary confinement he fled to Britain, illegally entering the country on a flight from Tunisia, and sought asylum.

He now receives £32 a week in vouchers from Croydon Council to buy food with while he awaits deportation.

Unsatisfied at this, he griped: "Croydon Council only gives me food vouchers, they won't give me cash. I want the money.
"I have nothing to buy new clothes with, I have to go to a refugee centre. But if there's not anything nice there, you leave with nothing.

"I want the council to give me a bigger flat and money instead of vouchers."

Mr Tabet suffers from diabetes, a retina disease and kidney failure and believes he should be allowed to stay in the country so he can continue to get free NHS care.

He said: "The Home Office said I could afford the medicine back home, but I can't, I don't have a job."

The council insists he has no grounds for complaint. The spokesman explained: "He is supported by the council by way of vouchers, in accordance with the law."

Mr Tabet admits that since he was refused asylum he has "stayed and no one has said anything about it".

But a spokesman from the Border and Immigration Agency insisted he can expect to be deported. He said: "The period between an individual being refused asylum and their removal will vary from case to case depending on individual circumstances. He is being processed through our returning scheme.
"Individuals are free to apply for a new passport and return voluntarily at any time. It's a case of if he wants to return on his own dollar or ours."

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/liv...n_page_id=1770
25334  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 17, 2007, 08:00:31 PM
hotair.com

NYT: U.S. has highly classified program to help safeguard Pakistani nukesposted at 3:35 pm on November 17, 2007 by Allahpundit
Send to a Friend | printer-friendly The least surprising surprise since Ehud Olmert accidentally let slip that Israel has nukes. To its credit, the Times evidently sat on the story for three years in the interests of security; only after the Pakistanis themselves started talking about it and the administration dropped its objection to publishing details are they moving forward.
As with all other forms of military aid to Pakistan, we’re getting very little bang for our buck.

==========

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/18/washington/18nuke.htm...WAY&pagewanted=print

November 18, 2007
U.S. Secretly Aids Pakistan in Guarding Nuclear Arms

By DAVID E. SANGER and WILLIAM J. BROAD
WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 — Over the past six years, the Bush administration has spent almost $100 million so far on a highly classified program to help Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president, secure his country’s nuclear weapons, according to current and former senior administration officials.

But with the future of that country’s leadership in doubt, debate is intensifying about whether Washington has done enough to help protect the warheads and laboratories, and whether Pakistan’s reluctance to reveal critical details about its arsenal has undercut the effectiveness of the continuing security effort.

The aid, buried in secret portions of the federal budget, paid for the training of Pakistani personnel in the United States and the construction of a nuclear security training center in Pakistan, a facility that American officials say is nowhere near completion, even though it was supposed to be in operation this year.

A raft of equipment — from helicopters to night-vision goggles to nuclear detection equipment — was given to Pakistan to help secure its nuclear material, its warheads, and the laboratories that were the site of the worst known case of nuclear proliferation in the atomic age.

While American officials say that they believe the arsenal is safe at the moment, and that they take at face value Pakistani assurances that security is vastly improved, in many cases the Pakistani government has been reluctant to show American officials how or where the gear is actually used.

That is because the Pakistanis do not want to reveal the locations of their weapons or the amount or type of new bomb-grade fuel the country is now producing.

The American program was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when the Bush administration debated whether to share with Pakistan one of the crown jewels of American nuclear protection technology, known as “permissive action links,” or PALS, a system used to keep a weapon from detonating without proper codes and authorizations.

In the end, despite past federal aid to France and Russia on delicate points of nuclear security, the administration decided that it could not share the system with the Pakistanis because of legal restrictions.

In addition, the Pakistanis were suspicious that any American-made technology in their warheads could include a secret “kill switch,” enabling the Americans to turn off their weapons.

While many nuclear experts in the federal government favored offering the PALS system because they considered Pakistan’s arsenal among the world’s most vulnerable to terrorist groups, some administration officials feared that sharing the technology would teach Pakistan too much about American weaponry. The same concern kept the Clinton administration from sharing the technology with China in the early 1990s.

The New York Times has known details of the secret program for more than three years, based on interviews with a range of American officials and nuclear experts, some of whom were concerned that Pakistan’s arsenal remained vulnerable. The newspaper agreed to delay publication of the article after considering a request from the Bush administration, which argued that premature disclosure could hurt the effort to secure the weapons.

Since then, some elements of the program have been discussed in the Pakistani news media and in a presentation late last year by the leader of Pakistan’s nuclear safety effort, Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai, who acknowledged receiving “international” help as he sought to assure Washington that all of the holes in Pakistan’s nuclear security infrastructure had been sealed.

The Times told the administration last week that it was reopening its examination of the program in light of those disclosures and the current instability in Pakistan. Early this week, the White House withdrew its request that publication be withheld, though it was unwilling to discuss details of the program.

The secret program was designed by the Energy Department and the State Department, and it drew heavily from the effort over the past decade to secure nuclear weapons, stockpiles and materials in Russia and other former Soviet states. Much of the money for Pakistan was spent on physical security, like fencing and surveillance systems, and equipment for tracking nuclear material if it left secure areas.

But while Pakistan is formally considered a “major non-NATO ally,” the program has been hindered by a deep suspicion among Pakistan’s military that the secret goal of the United States was to gather intelligence about how to locate and, if necessary, disable Pakistan’s arsenal, which is the pride of the country.

“Everything has taken far longer than it should,” a former official involved in the program said in a recent interview, “and you are never sure what you really accomplished.”

In recent days, American officials have expressed confidence that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is well secured. “I don’t see any indication right now that security of those weapons is in jeopardy, but clearly we are very watchful, as we should be,” Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon news conference on Thursday.

Admiral Mullen’s carefully chosen words, a senior administration official said, were based on two separate intelligence assessments issued this month that had been summarized in briefings to Mr. Bush. Both concluded that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal was safe under current conditions, and one also looked at laboratories and came to the same conclusion.

Still, the Pakistani government’s reluctance to release information has limited efforts to assess the situation. In particular, some American experts say they have less ability to look into the nuclear laboratories where highly enriched uranium is produced — including the laboratory named for Abdul Qadeer Khan, the man who sold Pakistan’s nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

So far, the amount the United States has spent on the classified nuclear security program, less than $100 million, amounts to slightly less than one percent of the roughly $10 billion in known American aid to Pakistan since the Sept. 11 attacks. Most of that money has gone for assistance in counterterrorism activities against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

The debate over sharing nuclear security technology began just before then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was sent to Islamabad after the Sept. 11 attacks, as the United States was preparing to invade Afghanistan.

“There were a lot of people who feared that once we headed into Afghanistan, the Taliban would be looking for these weapons,” said a senior official who was involved. But a legal analysis found that aiding Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program — even if it was just with protective gear — would violate both international and American law.

General Musharraf, in his memoir, “In the Line of Fire,” published last year, did not discuss any equipment, training or technology offered then, but wrote: “We were put under immense pressure by the United States regarding our nuclear and missile arsenal. The Americans’ concerns were based on two grounds. First, at this time they were not very sure of my job security, and they dreaded the possibility that an extremist successor government might get its hands on our strategic nuclear arsenal. Second, they doubted our ability to safeguard our assets.”

General Musharraf was more specific in an interview two years ago for a Times documentary, “Nuclear Jihad: Can Terrorists Get the Bomb?” Asked about the equipment and training provided by Washington, he said, “Frankly, I really don’t know the details.” But he added: “This is an extremely sensitive matter in Pakistan. We don’t allow any foreign intrusion in our facilities. But, at the same time, we guarantee that the custodial arrangements that we brought about and implemented are already the best in the world.”

Now that concern about General Musharraf’s ability to remain in power has been rekindled, so has the debate inside and outside the Bush administration about how much the program accomplished, and what it left unaccomplished. A second phase of the program, which would provide more equipment, helicopters and safety devices, is already being discussed in the administration, but its dimensions have not been determined.

Harold M. Agnew, a former director of the Los Alamos weapons laboratory, which designed most of the United States’ nuclear arms, argued that recent federal reluctance to share warhead security technology was making the world more dangerous.

“Lawyers say it’s classified,” Dr. Agnew said in an interview. “That’s nonsense. We should share this technology. Anybody who joins the club should be helped to get this.”

“Whether it’s India or Pakistan or China or Iran,” he added, “the most important thing is that you want to make sure there is no unauthorized use. You want to make sure that the guys who have their hands on the weapons can’t use them without proper authorization.”

In the past, officials say, the United States has shared ideas — but not technologies — about how to make the safeguards that lie at the heart of American weapons security. The system hinges on what is essentially a switch in the firing circuit that requires the would-be user to enter a numeric code that starts a timer for the weapon’s arming and detonation.

Most switches disable themselves if the sequence of numbers entered turns out to be incorrect in a fixed number of tries, much like a bank ATM does. In some cases, the disabled link sets off a small explosion in the warhead to render it useless. Delicate design details involve how to bury the link deep inside a weapon to keep terrorists or enemies from disabling the safeguard.

The most famous case of nuclear idea sharing involves France. Starting in the early 1970s, the United States government began a series of highly secretive discussions with French scientists to help them improve the country’s warheads.

A potential impediment to such sharing was the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which bars cooperation between nations on weapons technology.

To get around such legal prohibitions, Washington came up with a system of “negative guidance,” sometimes called “20 questions,” as detailed in a 1989 article in Foreign Policy. The system let United States scientists listen to French descriptions of warhead approaches and give guidance about whether the French were on the right track.

Nuclear experts say sharing also took place after the cold war when the United States worried about the security of Russian nuclear arms and facilities. In that case, both countries declassified warhead information to expedite the transfer of safety and security information, according to federal nuclear scientists.

But in the case of China, which has possessed nuclear weapons since the 1960s and is a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the Clinton administration decided that sharing PALS would be too risky. Experts inside the administration feared the technology would improve the Chinese warheads, and could give the Chinese insights into how American systems worked.

Officials said Washington debated sharing security techniques with Pakistan on at least two occasions — right after it detonated its first nuclear arms in 1998, and after the terrorist attack on the United States in 2001.

The debates pitted atomic scientists who favored technical sharing against federal officials at such places as the State Department who ruled that the transfers were illegal under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and under United States law.

In the 1998 case, the Clinton administration still hoped it could roll back Pakistan’s nuclear program, forcing it to give up the weapons it had developed. That hope, never seen as very realistic, has been entirely given up by the Bush administration.

The nuclear proliferation conducted by Mr. Khan, the Pakistani metallurgist who built a huge network to spread Pakistani technology, convinced the Pakistanis that they needed better protections.

“Among the places in the world that we have to make sure we have done the maximum we can do, Pakistan is at the top of the list,” said John E. McLaughlin, who served as deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time, and played a crucial role in the intelligence collection that led to Mr. Khan’s downfall.

“I am confident of two things,” he added. “That the Pakistanis are very serious about securing this material, but also that someone in Pakistan is very intent on getting their hands on it.”
25335  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 17, 2007, 06:45:43 PM
By JOSEPH L. GALLOWAY McClatchy Newspapers

Over the last 12 months, 1,042 soldiers, Marines,
sailors and Air Force personnel have given their
lives in the terrible duty that is war. Thousands
more have come home on stretchers, horribly wounded
and facing months or years in military hospitals.

This week, I'm turning my space over to a good
friend and former roommate, Army Lt. Col. Robert
Bateman , who recently completed a yearlong tour of
duty in Iraq and is now back at the Pentagon.

Here's Lt. Col. Bateman's account of a little-known
ceremony that fills the halls of the Army corridor
of the Pentagon with cheers, applause and many tears
every Friday morning. It first appeared on May 17 on
the Weblog of media critic and pundit Eric Alterman
at the Media Matters for America Website.

"It is 110 yards from the "E" ring to the "A" ring
of the Pentagon. This section of the Pentagon is
newly renovated; the floors shine, the hallway is
broad, and the lighting is bright. At this instant
the entire length of the corridor is packed with
officers, a few sergeants and some civilians, all
crammed tightly three and four deep against the
walls. There are thousands here.

This hallway, more than any other, is the `Army'
hallway. The G3 offices line one side, G2 the other,
G8 is around the corner. All Army. Moderate
conversations flow in a low buzz. Friends who may
not have seen each other for a few weeks, or a few
years, spot each other, cross the way and renew.

Everyone shifts to ensure an open path remains down
the center. The air conditioning system was not
designed for this press of bodies in this area.

The temperature is rising already. Nobody cares.
"10:36 hours: The clapping starts at the E-Ring.
That is the outermost of the five rings of the
Pentagon and it is closest to the entrance to the
building. This clapping is low, sustained, hearty.
It is applause with a deep emotion behind it as it
moves forward in a wave down the length of the
hallway.

"A steady rolling wave of sound it is, moving at the
pace of the soldier in the wheelchair who marks the
forward edge with his presence. He is the first. He
is missing the greater part of one leg, and some of
his wounds are still suppurating. By his age I
expect that he is a private, or perhaps a private
first class.

"Captains, majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels
meet his gaze and nod as they applaud, soldier to
soldier. Three years ago when I described one of
these events, those lining the hallways were
somewhat different. The applause a little wilder,
perhaps in private guilt for not having shared in
the burden,  yet.

"Now almost everyone lining the hallway is, like the
man in the wheelchair, also a combat veteran. This
steadies the applause, but I think deepens the
sentiment. We have all been there now. The soldier's
chair is pushed by, I believe, a full colonel.

"Behind him, and stretching the length from Rings E
to A, come more of his peers, each private,
corporal, or sergeant assisted as need be by a field
grade officer.

"11:00 hours: Twenty-four minutes of steady
applause. My hands hurt, and I laugh to myself at
how stupid that sounds in my own head. My hands
hurt. Please! Shut up and clap. For twenty-four
minutes, soldier after soldier has come down this
hallway - 20, 25, 30. Fifty-three legs come with
them, and perhaps only 52 hands or arms, but down
this hall came 30 solid hearts.

They pass down this corridor of officers and
applause, and then meet for a private lunch, at
which they are the guests of honor, hosted by the
generals. Some are wheeled along. Some insist upon
getting out of their chairs, to march as best they
can with their chin held up, down this hallway,
through this most unique audience. Some are catching
handshakes and smiling like a politician at a Fourth
of July parade. More than a couple of them seem
amazed and are smiling shyly.

"There are families with them as well: the
18-year-old war-bride pushing her 19-year-old
husband's wheelchair and not quite understanding why
her husband is so affected by this, the boy she grew
up with, now a man, who had never shed a tear is
crying; the older immigrant Latino parents who have,
perhaps more than their wounded mid-20s son, an
appreciation for the emotion given on their son's
behalf. No man in that hallway, walking or clapping,
is ashamed by the silent tears on more than a few
cheeks. An Airborne Ranger wipes his eyes only to
better see. A couple of the officers in this crowd
have themselves been a part of this parade in the
past.

These are our men, broken in body they may be, but
they are our brothers, and we welcome them home.
This parade has gone on, every single Friday, all
year long, for more than four years.

"Did you know that?
25336  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Balkans on: November 17, 2007, 07:49:08 AM
All:

Unfortunately it looks like yet another excrement storm is coming.  I use this piece from Stratfor to start this thread because it seems to give a good yet quick initial sense of the clusterfcuk that apparently is coming down the pike.

Marc
================

Kosovo: The Fuse on the Balkan Powder Keg
Summary

Kosovo's expected Dec. 10 declaration of independence from Serbia is already inspiring minor violent incidents throughout the Balkans. If tensions erupt over the issue, the fighting is almost certain to spread beyond Kosovo and Serbia.

Analysis

Kosovo is set to hold parliamentary and local elections Nov. 17 amid tensions surrounding talks on the region's status and the boycott of the elections called by the Serbs. Leading up to Kosovo's expected Dec. 10 declaration of independence from Serbia, small sparks of violence are surfacing not only in Kosovo and Serbia, but also in other Balkan states -- illustrating that if this powder keg blows, the explosion will not be limited to Kosovo and Serbia.

Though the international community is completely split on the issue of Kosovar independence -- and has been since the region's 1999 provisional break from Serbia -- the small secessionist government has said it will not wait any longer. Serbs consider Kosovo the birthplace of their national identity and view Kosovar Albanians as little more than a recent infestation, though the province's population is now more than 90 percent Albanian and less than 5 percent Serbian. The Kosovars want nothing less than independence, and the Serbs want to give them anything but.





Kosovo had expected the West to continue supporting what it called the inevitability of Kosovar independence. However, that inevitability is now lost in the shuffle of a larger political battle between global power players such as Russia, the European Union and the United States, and Serbia and Kosovo are left with only uncertainty.

All sides fear this uncertainty will turn volatile -- and possibly bloody. If an explosion of violence does occur, it will not be contained within Serbia and Kosovo's borders; it could destabilize the entire Balkan region. Minor incidents of violence and instability have already been seen in Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Serbia and Kosovo

Serbia and Kosovo seem to have avoided violence on the scale of that seen in the late 1990s, mainly because the Radicals did not come to power during Serbian elections and because Kosovar independence was continually put on the back burner this year. This does not mean, however, that such violence can be avoided altogether, especially as each side gets more fed up with the situation. Small-scale violence has been seen and is not unexpected. Tensions are high between Kosovars and Serbs and within each ethnic faction as well.

The Serbs within Kosovo do not make up enough of the population to attempt any meaningful military operations, but there are other threats. The most obvious -- but not the most likely -- is that Serbia could do what it did in 1999 when it wanted to reassert full control over Kosovo: send in the army. But the military is not in the shape it was in then. Moreover, the Serbs within Serbia proper are too fractured; some are willing to forgo Kosovo to gain EU membership, while others are willing to fight to the end for the small province. That is enough to cause trouble, since only a few radicals are needed to form paramilitary groups like those seen during the war.

There are also small Serbian terrorist groups that have been operating periodically in Serbia and Kosovo. The best known is Tsar Lazar's Guard, which was a joke when it first formed but has been gaining support -- and reportedly weapons -- as Dec. 10 approaches. Serbs are not the only group reported to have militants working for their cause; the Albanian National Army militant group reportedly has been recruiting new members and equipment recently.

Kosovar Albanians also have been stirring unrest inside the recently independent Montenegro. The small Albanian population in Montenegro on the Kosovar border has already been stirred up, however; a handful of Albanians were arrested in Ulcinj, Montenegro, and Kosovar Albanians began flooding over the border and stormed the police station in protest.

Montenegro understands what it is like to push for independence from Serbia, but unlike Kosovo the country is still very divided over whether it is content with its new independence. Approximately 40 percent still consider themselves ethnically Serbian -- especially since they share the same church and same language -- and are thus loyal to Belgrade. Some Montenegrin Serbians have already pledged to help fight if Kosovo gets its independence.

Macedonia

The militants in Kosovo have also been linked to Albanians crossing the border from Macedonia. Albanians are the ethnic minority within Macedonia but hold the majority of the northwestern part of the country. The Macedonian-Kosovar border is mountainous and incredibly porous, leading to large border crossings that the already weak Macedonian military cannot prevent. These Albanians and Kosovar Albanians have been seen actively engaging in violence on both sides of the border, proving that the wounds from the 2001 Macedonia conflict -- in which the Albanians within the country began attacking Macedonian forces -- are still fresh.

Internally, Macedonia has been politically unstable because of the main Albanian party actively pushing against the government as it keeps its eyes on Kosovo. Macedonia is trying to keep a lid on any large-scale violence because of its aspirations to join the EU, but hostilities have broken out within Macedonia's borders. On Nov. 7, Macedonian police killed four Albanians in an operation called Mountain Storm on Mount Sar Planina. Macedonian police said the Albanians were planning a major terrorist act that would destabilize both Kosovo and Macedonia.

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnia-Herzegovina could be a flashpoint in the struggle over Kosovo. Bosnia-Herzegovina is split between two autonomous regions -- the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Republika Srpska (the Serb Republic) -- and three ethnic groups: Muslim Bosniaks, Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs. In short, the country does not have a comfortable ethnic, social, historic or political mixture. The U.N. administrative presence is the only thing keeping relative peace and general unity in the country.

However, control is being transferred from the United Nations to the European Union -- something many radical Serbs within the country are not happy with because it means the loss of Russia's voice in Bosnia's future (Russia is on the U.N. Security Council and supports the Orthodox Serbs). The Muslims within the country do not want EU supervision, claiming the Union is not friendly to Muslims. Republika Srpska has criticized the transfer, since they pledge their loyalty to their brother Serbs next door and to their more numerous Orthodox brothers in Russia.

The Muslim Bosniaks and Serbs -- with the Croats in flux -- are keeping the country from moving toward any political unity or a real constitution. But with Kosovo in play, the Serbs from Republika Srpska are threatening to declare their own independence. It is no secret that the majority of Serbs within Republika Srpska want Serbia proper to annex their region, though many Serbs in Serbia proper look upon them as radicals or country bumpkins. Serbs in Republika Srpska could become very problematic if they either split from Bosnia-Herzegovina or decide to flood across the border to fight with their fellow Serbs. NATO -- which commands the European forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina -- is rumored to have a contingency plan to sweep into Republika Srpska if either of these events happens, taking the government buildings and media outlets and blocking the main roads into Serbia.

The Threat of Greater -- and Spreading -- Violence

Contagion effects of Balkan violence are well known; they were seen both in the early 20th century and in the 1990s, and the recent outbursts are following the same pattern. Since EU and NATO forces are present, there have been no large wars declared by the states themselves. But if the region does ignite, Western forces could face many problems. First, those forces are a mere shadow of what they were during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s -- during which it took four years to get the region generally under control. European and U.S. forces are deployed only in the non-Serbian section of Bosnia-Herzegovina and within Kosovo, not throughout the region. Furthermore, NATO and the United States are bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq and trying to juggle threats larger than the Balkans -- namely Iran and Russia.

To put it plainly, the West is not paying much attention to the Balkans other than as a bargaining chip with other global players such as Russia. But with or without the world watching, the actors in the Balkans are ready to move.
25337  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Gathering! Fighters thread on: November 17, 2007, 07:17:31 AM
Posted on behalf of Dean:
========================

Very much looking forward to being there on Sunday. Someone please, let David C. (Paramedic) know that I am bringing a couple skin staplers and some other goodies (just in case).

I will also be bringing one of my new students as a designated driver. 

I hope to make the best of this trip, unfortunately our time will be limited to driving up Sunday Early and driving back Sunday night.  (Gotta work Monday 0700) "Living the Dream" 

I hope to be there by around 10AM or so... 

Dean
25338  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Gathering! Fighters thread on: November 16, 2007, 11:45:15 PM
1) Pappy Dog is organizing the After Gathering Time at either the same establishment as last time or another one.  He should be posting here with the details.

2)  We have a Wall!  Thank you OP!
 
25339  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: November 16, 2007, 09:28:28 PM
Thank you.

What is Thiago's game like?  What is his record?  Against what level of opponent.
25340  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Internet and related technology on: November 16, 2007, 03:54:49 PM
Technology Wants To Be Free

 

Kevin Kelly, The Technium (11/14/07):  Last February during a break at the most recent TED conference I was speaking to Chris Anderson, current editor in chief at Wired about his planned next book, called FREE. Nearly 10 years ago I had written a chapter in my thin New Rules for the New Economy book that focused on the role of the free and the economics of plentitude. I called that chapter “Follow the Free.” Almost nothing I’ve written has been as misunderstood as this short chapter. I’ve not had a Q+A session since then without this question coming up: “You say we should embrace the free. How can everything be free?”

The truth is that the concept of the free is easily misunderstood. Thus I applaud Chris’ brilliance in devoting a whole book to unraveling the mess. There’s much to be said about it, and even then we’ll just be at the beginning of understanding what free means. I originally thought I was done with the subject 10 years ago, but the continual questions, as well as the continual evolution of the commons, new social dynamics, new technological disruptions, and further research in the decade since have surfaced some new ideas. In particular I’ve concluded the free is deeply entwined into the very foundation of technology. I was sharing some of those emerging half-baked thoughts with Chris in the lobby of TED. Since that conversation I’ve discovered that the tie between technology and the free goes even further than I thought. My current conclusion can be summarized simply: Technology wants to be free…

 

George Gilder once noted there was a self-reinforcing positive feedback loop in miniaturization of technology. Smaller chips ran cooler, which allowed them to run faster, which allowed them to run cooler, which allowed them to be made smaller. And so on. There is a similar self-reinforcing positive feedback loop in the free-ization of technology. Nearly-free goods permit waste and experimentation, which breed new options for that good, which increase its abundance and lower its price, which generate more new options, which permit further novelty. And so on. These loops work on each other, compounding the effects between techniques and goods, and supercharging the  entire ecology of technologies with an unstoppable momentum towards the free and  towards unleashing new capabilities and possibilities.

The odd thing about free technology is that the “free as in beer” part is actually a distraction. As I have argued elsewhere (see my 2002 New York Times Magazine article on the future of music for example) the great attraction of “free” music is only partially that it does not cost anything. The chief importance of free music (and other free things) is held in the second English meaning of the word: free as in “freedom.” Free music is more than piracy because the freedom in the free digital downloads suddenly allowed music lovers to do all kinds of things with this music that they had longed to do but were unable to do before things were “free.” The “free” in digital music meant the audience could unbundled it from albums, sample it, create their own playlists, embed it, share it with love, bend it, graph it in colors, twist it, mash it, carry it, squeeze it, and enliven it with new ideas. The free-ization made it liquid and ‘free” to interact with other media. In the context of this freedom, the questionable legality of its free-ness was secondary. It didn’t really matter because music had been liberated by the free, almost made into a new media.

Technology wants to be free, as in free beer, because as it become free it also increases freedom. The inherent talents, capabilities and benefits of a technology cannot be released until it is almost free. The drive toward the free unleashes the constraints on each species in the technium, allowing it to interact with as many other species of technology as is possible, engendering new hybrids and deeper ecologies of tools, and permitting human users more choices and freedoms of use. As a technology grows in abundance and cheapness, it is more likely to find its appropriate niche which it can sustain itself and support other technologies in commodity mode. As technology heads toward the free it unleashes the only lasting thing it can: options and possibilities.

Read on:
http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2007/11/technology_want.php
25341  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: November 16, 2007, 03:52:22 PM
I notice they didn't endorse him, they applauded him for a particular stand  smiley  I happen to think he is quite right on a number of issues (not 911 or the War with Islamic Fascism) and the second amendment is one of them.
25342  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 16, 2007, 12:22:55 PM
Hola Omar:

Que bueno verte aqui de nuevo.  Tenemos nuestro "DB Gathering of the Pack" este domingo-- por lo cual no tendre tiempo para responder hasta la semana que viene.

25343  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Argentina on: November 16, 2007, 12:21:16 PM
Argentina's First Lady
By ALVARO VARGAS LLOSA
November 16, 2007

Just before Cristina Fernandez's victory in Argentina's recent 
presidential elections, author Marcos Aguinis told me in Buenos Aires, 
"Some people think she might be a bit better than her husband because 
she likes haute couture and meeting the rich and famous -- but who 
knows." He was referring to the hope that her well-known penchant for 
all things glamorous will keep the president-elect, who is also a 
former senator, from being an anti-American and globaphobic populist 
like her husband, outgoing president Nestor Kirchner.

Glamour, however, will not prevent the crisis that will hit Argentina 
if she does not reverse her husband's policies. In classic Peronista 
form, the Kirchner couple has engaged in political patronage, 
manipulated the country's institutions, and encouraged radical left-
wing groups to take center stage while presiding over a serendipitous 
economic boom.

What the Kirchners think is their "new model" for Latin America is 
essentially the short-term reward resulting from the massive 
devaluation of the currency a year and a half before Nestor Kirchner 
took office, the skyrocketing prices of the country's commodities, and 
the president's decision to pay back barely one-third of the face 
value of $140 billion worth of government debt paper.

The prices of Argentina's cereals, fuels and minerals have experienced 
a double-digit rise this year, continuing a trend that, together with 
cheap tourism, has helped generate GDP growth rates of between 7% and 
9% in the last four years. As the world's fifth largest exporter of 
foodstuffs, Argentina is having a field day with the voracious demand 
coming from China and other nations. At times, Argentineans seem to be 
reliving their golden 19th century days when their abundant meat and 
cereal exports attracted millions of Europeans to Buenos Aires in 
search of the cornucopia.

But these blessings conceal two fundamental problems. The first is a 
dysfunctional institutional environment. It did not start with the 
current administration but the presidential couple has made it worse. 
The second problem is a byproduct of the first: An economy riddled 
with political bottlenecks that are consuming the capital accumulated 
in the previous decade, and fueling inflation.

The Kirchner presidency has systematically undermined checks and 
balances. Thanks to a law that was passed with the support of his wife 
in the Senate, Mr. Kirchner changed the structure of the Magistrate 
Council and placed the judiciary under Peronista control. He also 
brought into the fold the crushing political machinery of the Buenos 
Aires province, which accounts for almost 40% of the national vote and 
used to be in the hands of former president Eduardo Duhalde, a 
Peronista rival. That was achieved by having Cristina Fernandez run 
for the Senate seat of the Buenos Aires province as opposed to the 
seat representing Santa Cruz.

Mr. Kirchner has also used his majority in Congress -- now expanded by 
his wife's victory in the presidential elections -- to obtain 
"emergency powers" that have given him personal discretion over the 
entire budget. In traditional corporatist fashion, Cristina is now 
speaking of a "social pact" by which the government will negotiate 
laws and policies with groups supposedly representing civil society 
but in reality working to keep the Peronista clientele happy.

Then there is the economy. On the surface, things couldn't be better. 
After a crisis that turned a middle-class country into a Third World 
nation, Argentina has seen about 11 million people pull out of poverty 
-- i.e. go back to their living conditions of the 1990s. By raising 
public spending by 50% annually and wages by 40% in the last four 
years, keeping interest rates low, controlling half the prices that 
make up the consumer price index, and nationalizing or creating state 
enterprises in eight major sectors of the economy, the government has 
achieved a populist artifice. As the results of the presidential 
elections show, Argentineans are not buying this illusion of 
prosperity in the main urban centers (the nation's capital, Cordoba, 
Santa Fe, and others), but the rest of the nation is.

The real story is that investment is very low and inflation very high 
-- and the social demands of a population that has been promised a 
paradise are infinite. Although Mr. Kirchner has tried to conceal 
inflation figures by replacing the head of the national statistics 
institute, no one I talked to in Argentina thinks inflation is below 
20%. The energy crisis, a consequence of Mr. Kirchner's decision to 
continue to freeze prices at one-third of market value and therefore 
discourage investment at a time of rising demand due to the economic 
bounce, is causing havoc. Foreign direct investment has dropped by 
about 30% in the last three years, whereas in Chile, Argentina's next-
door neighbor, it has risen by almost 50%.

This amounts to the squandering of a marvelous opportunity for a 
country whose past prosperity, relatively educated population and 
political gravitas in the region should have granted it a leading role 
in Latin America in this new millennium. The fact that a sophisticated 
woman will be the next president should have been a reason to rejoice 
in a part of the world where politics has been a notoriously 
"machista" enterprise. But it will take a miracle, i.e. an act of 
political treason by Cristina against her husband's legacy, to avoid 
the iceberg for which Argentina's Titanic is headed.

Jorge Luis Borges, Argentina's late poet, used to say, "Peronismo is 
neither good nor bad -- it is incorrigible." Will Cristina's love of 
the good life serve as an antidote to Peron-style populist socialism? 
Although the chances are extremely slim -- she has announced that nine 
of her husband's ministers will stay on to serve in her cabinet -- let 
us pray that Cristina proves Borges wrong.

Mr. Vargas Llosa is the director of the Center on Global Prosperity at 
the Independent Institute and the editor of the upcoming book "Lessons 
 From the Poor," to be published in March by the Independent Institute.
WSJ
25344  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Did Filipino Martial Arts Revolutionize Boxing? on: November 16, 2007, 12:15:23 PM
Woof All:

I'd like to put a question out to the collective braintrust here.

I recently saw a clip of the early days of Mike Tyson wherein Kevin Rooney claimed that he developed the head/slip bag a.k.a. the maize bag http://www.ringside.com/DETAIL.ASPX?ID=24621 and used it to develop Mike Tyson's phenomenol head movement  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnwLEbFoBFs

I am under the impression the the maize bag has been around much longer than that and possibly has its origins in the Philippines.  If Cus D'Amato/Kevin Rooney developed it, why is it called a maize bag-- a spanish word for corn?  Could it have come from the Philippines (e.g. a bag filled with kernels of corn)

Can anyone confirm, deny, or add to this?
Crafty Dog

Thank you,
Crafty Dog
25345  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt and John Kerry together! on: November 16, 2007, 11:12:11 AM
WSJ

E-Prescriptions
By JOHN KERRY AND NEWT GINGRICH
November 16, 2007; Page A20

In 1799, doctors likely hastened the death of George Washington by draining a third of his blood to treat a bacterial infection. Bleeding was a common practice in those days, it dates back to the Greeks and Romans.

But nowadays, if a doctor used bloodletting he would be barred from practicing medicine. In the age of the Internet, is it any less inexcusable that we have yet to modernize and transform our health-care system?

We have talked long enough about using technology to cut costs and improve the quality of care. Now is the time to act -- and the place to start is preventable medication errors.

According to the Institute of Medicine, Americans average one medication mistake for every day spent in a hospital, accounting for more than 1.5 million injuries each year. Medication errors will kill at least 7,000 Americans this year. Of the more than three billion prescriptions written each year, doctors report nearly one billion require a follow-up between providers and pharmacies for clarification. The cost to our health-care system is in the billions.

One reason for this mess is that 95% of prescriptions are transmitted using 5,000-year-old technology: pen and paper.

That is unacceptable. The deaths and inefficiencies of paper prescriptions can be nearly entirely eliminated if we use the same technology we that use in other aspects of our lives. Electronic prescriptions can replace handwritten, misread and mismatched prescriptions with online, automated and expert technology.

The benefits are clear and compelling. When a doctor "writes" an electronic prescription, a computer can warn of potentially dangerous interactions with other medications or allergies and thereby prevent thousands of unnecessary hospitalizations each year. E-prescribing can also let a physician know whether a drug is covered by a patient's insurance or whether an alternative generic is available at a fraction of the cost. One initiative led by Chrysler, General Motors and Ford to encourage doctors to write e-prescriptions in the Detroit region has generated more than one million prescription alerts that have saved lives and money.

The benefits of e-prescribing are so important that the Institute of Medicine has called for every doctor and nurse to prescribe electronically by the year 2010. Business and labor leaders, health insurers and consumer advocates are unanimous in their support of this common-sense initiative.

Doctors also know that e-prescribing is vital for our health-care system. One recent study of 400 physicians found that 85% of physicians think e-prescribing is a good idea; 81% say it would reduce medication errors; and 65% say it would save time. They like a system that reduces their liability and allows them to focus on providing care, not filling out paperwork.

The problem is that very few doctors use the technology. Of those 400 physicians polled, only 7% actually transmit prescriptions electronically. And 63% say implementing the technology is not a priority. Why? It's not always in their immediate financial interest to do so.

That must change.

The federal government can lead by requiring that doctors who do business with Medicare convert to e-prescribing. This can be done by using market forces and the federal government's purchasing power to align financial incentives.

First, offer bonus payments to Medicare doctors who already prescribe electronically or who adopt the technology. Such payments will help doctors, especially those with small practices without many patients, to pay for startup costs. Private insurers, like WellPoint, are already using this strategy to drive adoption of e-prescribing.

If a majority of doctors don't e-prescribe a few years down the road, the government should require all doctors to adopt e-prescribing or face financial penalties. E-prescribing should become a condition of doing business with Medicare. This is no different than the requirements other suppliers expect to see when they negotiate with customers.

A new study by the Department of Health and Human Services estimates that if 18% of doctors in Medicare adopt e-prescribing, the government will save $4 billion and nearly three million adverse drug events can be prevented over five years.

This is something Republicans and Democrats can agree on. While we continue to debate how to cover the uninsured, improve quality, and lower costs, there is too little being done to modernize health care. E-prescribing for Medicare is just the beginning of the modernization and digitization our ailing health-care system urgently needs. A high-tech, healthier future is within our grasp. We just need creative leadership bold enough to reach for it.

Mr. Kerry, a Democrat, is a senator from Massachusetts. Mr. Gingrich, a Republican, is former speaker of the House and founder of the Center for Health Transformation. Chrysler, GM, Ford and WellPoint are members of the center.

25346  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: November 16, 2007, 11:03:28 AM
Rudy's Gamble
Giuliani's audacious strategy for the nomination.

BY KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL
Friday, November 16, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Give Rudy Giuliani this: He's living his campaign slogans. The flinty ex-mayor keeps telling America he's fearless, a risk-taker, the guy who can accomplish the impossible (say, cleaning up Sin City). As if to prove it, he's betting the shop on a high-stakes path to the Republican nomination.

Ever since a relatively unknown Georgia peanut farmer used the early primary states to garner the national spotlight, the track to the presidential nomination has run square through Iowa, New Hampshire and (more recently) South Carolina. Go to Des Moines, get famous. Yet there was Giuliani campaign manager Mike DuHaime this week telling reporters that times have changed. His boss is doing it His Way.

It's been clear for some time that Mr. Giuliani was putting his chips on bigger, if later, primary states such as Florida, California and New York--where a less ideological Republican electorate might prove more open to his social record. Still, there was something about Mr. DuHaime confirming this approach--and by extension dissing the usual three-state slingshot--that had a national press corps blinking. It also earned the Giuliani camp a scoffing dismissal from rival Mitt Romney, himself running a textbook, and so far winning, campaign in every early race.





Some scoff is in order. There's a reason presidential hopefuls have for so long genuflected at the Davenport and Concord and Columbia altars: It works. The momentum that accompanies those early wins is often unstoppable, and it makes the Giuliani plan an audacious gamble. Then again, there's a pragmatism to Hizzoner's approach, one that has wisely recognized that times have indeed changed. If there were ever a chance of shattering the old primary mold, this is the year, and Mr. Giuliani is the man, to do it.
Let's be clear, some of this is simple necessity. You might even say Mr. Giuliani didn't have a choice. Iowa's caucus system, dominated by social conservatives, was never going to blow kisses at the pro-choice, antigun New Yorker--Pat Robertson notwithstanding. Especially so if presented with a true-blue social conservative like Mike Huckabee, who in the latest polls is nipping Mr. Romney's shoes. South Carolina's southern conservatives present a similar challenge. Add to this that if Mr. Giuliani had vowed to conquer those citadels, and failed, his campaign would've taken a blow. You can't lose what you never said you'd win.

At the same time, this year's primary fight, and in particular the Republican race, are unique. The Giuliani wisdom, if that's what it proves to be, has been in recognizing those differences early on and toiling ever since to ply them to the mayor's advantage.

Changed circumstance No. 1 is this year's hypercompressed primary season. Whereas winners once got to bask in the glow of their early victories--and rake in the cash--for many weeks before Super Tuesday, this year they'll get to bask a few hours. Mr. Giuliani's Florida, his "firewall" where he has spent his biggest chunk of cash and currently holds a 17-point lead over Mr. Romney, will take place on Jan. 29, just 10 days after South Carolina.

Meanwhile the races on Giga Tuesday (Feb. 5) alone, which include other big Giuliani prospects such as California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois, represent nearly half the delegates necessary to secure the nomination. The Giuliani bet is that the time frame has collapsed enough that he can check any rival "momentum" by cleaning up big in the mega-states.

Changed circumstance No. 2 is the unusual nature of the Republican field itself, in which there is no clear front-runner and voter confusion. Evangelical endorsements are scattered. Terrorism is also making its debut in a Republican primary, and has splintered the usual cohesion of social conservatives and single-issue voters. No one candidate has been able to break away, which means no one is likely to emerge with early landslide victories. Mr. Giuliani is counting that this muddle will deny a Mr. Romney or Fred Thompson the decisive victories they'd need to later challenge in bigger states. It might also allow the mayor some respectable finishes in the early races.

Finally, there's Mr. Giuliani, superstar. The big seduction of the early primaries is that they allow candidates who aren't well known to catapult into the news, thereby becoming household names. Thanks to September 11, Mr. Giuliani is right up there in household names with Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. While a onetime Southern governor like Mr. Huckabee has to get a ticket out of Iowa if he wants a shot, Mr. Giuliani may have more flexibility.

The caveats? The New Yorker's ability to pull this off hinges on his ability to truly clean up in the mega-states. His campaign is already boasting that his leads in some of those places are "momentum-proof." But that's the sort of bold statement that borders on hubris. Even with a sped-up primary schedule, five hard-fought contests (the usual three, plus Nevada and Michigan) will still go down before the nation ever bats an eye at Florida. Allowing a campaign to go 0 for 5 in the run-up to that big day gives a new meaning to the word "risk."





The very idea is apparently giving even the Giuliani campaign the cold sweats. So much so that now that the mayor has built up his position in the bigger states, he's working backward. Yesterday the campaign unveiled its first television ad, and its home will be . . . New Hampshire. It's even hinting it hopes to take the state.
This is itself risky. Of all the early plays, New Hampshire's the best bet for Mr. Giuliani, and his TV spot about his economic and crime success in New York is designed to appeal to state Republicans looking for a fiscally sound tough guy. Think of it, too, as a potential death blow to one or more competitors. Mr. Giuliani sure is. Mr. Romney needs to show he can win in his own backyard (and he currently holds a double-digit lead), while John McCain continues to count on the state he won by 19 points in 2000. The downside is that the Giuliani campaign is now playing the expectations game, and losing will only give a boost to the winner.

Primaries are inherently unpredictable, and Mr. Giuliani's foes have no intention of letting the mayor set the rules. But win or lose, Mr. Giuliani deserves marks for daring to play big.

Ms. Strassel is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, based in Washington. Her column appears Fridays.
WSJ
25347  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: November 16, 2007, 10:56:44 AM
“The Constitution shall never be construed... to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.” —Samuel Adams

PATRIOT PERSPECTIVE
“The right of the people to keep and bear arms”
By Mark Alexander

There is yet another ideological contest brewing in our nation’s capitol, this one between two distinctively different groups in the federal judiciary: constitutional constructionists, who render decisions based on the “original intent” of our nation’s founding document, and judicial despots, who endorse the dangerously errant notion of a “Living Constitution.”

This is no trivial contest, however, and the outcome will have significant consequences across the nation.

The subject of this dispute is Washington, DC’s “Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975,” which prohibits residents from owning handguns, ostensibly to deter so-called “gun violence.”

Of course, suggesting that violence is a “gun problem” ignores the real problem—that of socio-pathology and the culture which nurtures it. (See the Congressional Testimony of Darrell Scott, father of Rachel Scott, one of the children murdered at Columbine High School in 1999.)

In 1960 the frequency of violent crime in the District was 554/100,000 residents, and the murder rate was 10/100,000. In 2006, the frequency of violent crime in the District was 1,512/100,000 residents, and the murder rate was 29/100,000. That is a 200 percent increase, and according to the latest data from Washington Metro Police, violent crime is up 12 percent thus far this year.

Fact is, firearm restrictions on law-abiding citizens in Washington, and other urban centers, have created more victims while protecting offenders. There is nothing new about this correlation. As Thomas Jefferson noted in his Commonplace Book (quoting Cesare Beccaria), “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”

Simply put, violent predators prefer victims who have no means of self defense.

Most pro and con arguments about firearms are constructed around the crime debate, including excellent research by John Lott, whose book More Guns, Less Crime, clearly establishes that restrictive gun policies lead to higher crime rates.

The arguments from both sides in the current case in Washington are also constructed around the crime issue. However, the Second Amendment debate is not about crime, but about the rule of law—constitutional law. Fortunately, the appellate court for DC is making this distinction.

In March of this year, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down that federal jurisdiction’s restrictions on gun ownership, finding that the District is violating the Second Amendment’s prohibition on government infringement of “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” The case has been appealed to the Supreme Court, and should the High Court accept the case, its ruling would be the first substantial decision on the scope of the Second Amendment since 1939.

At issue: Does the Second Amendment prohibit the government from infringing on the individual rights of citizens to keep and bear arms, or does it restrict the central government from infringing on the rights of the several states to maintain well-armed militias?

The intent of the Second Amendment, however, was abundantly clear to our Founders.

Indeed, in the most authoritative explication of our Constitution, The Federalist Papers, its principal author, James Madison, wrote in No. 46, “The advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation... forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any...”

Alexander Hamilton was equally unambiguous on the importance of arms to a republic, writing in Federalist No. 28, “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense...”

Justice Joseph Story, appointed to the Supreme Court by James Madison, wrote, “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”

In other words, the right of the people to bear arms is the most essential of the rights enumerated in our Constitution, because it ensures the preservation of all other rights.

Accordingly, the appellate court, in a 2-1 decision, ruled, “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. That right existed prior to the formation of the new government under the Constitution and was premised on the private use of arms for activities such as hunting and self-defense, the latter being understood as resistance to either private lawlessness or the depredations of a tyrannical government... The individual right facilitated militia service by ensuring that citizens would not be barred from keeping the arms they would need when called forth for militia duty.”

Additionally, the majority opinion notes, “The activities [the amendment] protects are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual’s enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued or intermittent enrollment in the militia.”

The dissenting judge’s conclusion did not dispute the plain language of the Second Amendment’s prohibition on government, but he insists that the District is not a state, and is, thus, not subject to the prohibition.

This is ridiculous, of course, since such a conclusion would imply, by extension, that District residents are not subject to any protection under the Constitution.

The real contest here is one between activist judges, those who amend the Constitution by judicial diktat rather than its clearly prescribed method stipulated in Article V, and constructionist judges, those who properly render legal interpretation based on the Constitution’s “original intent.”

As Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 81, “[T]here is not a syllable in the [Constitution] under consideration which directly empowers the national courts to construe the laws according to the spirit of the Constitution...” In other words, nothing in the Constitution gives judges the right to declare the Constitution means anything beyond the scope of its plain language.

However, activist judges, including those among generations of High Court justices, have historically construed the Second Amendment through a pinhole, while viewing the First Amendment through a wide-angle lens.

For example, though the First Amendment plainly says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” judicial activists interpret this plain language to mean a public school coach can’t offer a simple prayer before a game.

Equally absurd, they argue that the First Amendment’s “freedom of speech” clause means burning the American flag, exploiting women for “adult entertainment,” or using taxpayer dollars to fund works of “art” such as a crucifix immersed in a glass of human waste.

If these same judicial despots misconstrued the Second Amendment as broadly as they do the first, Americans would have nukes to defend themselves from noisy neighbors.

The appeals case regarding the constitutionality of DC’s Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975 is not about crime prevention, or whether the District is subject to prohibitions in the Bill of Rights. It is about the essence of our Constitution’s most important assurance that all Americans have the right to defend themselves against both predatory criminals and tyrannical governments. It is about the need for the High Court to reaffirm this right and stop the incremental encroachment of said right by infringements like that in the District, or more egregious encroachments like those found within the Feinstein-Schumer gun-control act.

Of self-government’s “important principles,” Thomas Jefferson wrote, “It is [the peoples’] right and duty to be at all times armed.” Indeed, the right of the people to keep and bear arms should not be infringed.
25348  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: November 16, 2007, 10:41:45 AM
A church re-opens in Baghdad

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/wp/come-home.htm
25349  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: November 16, 2007, 10:22:15 AM
THE FOUNDATION
“The Constitution shall never be construed... to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.” —Samuel Adams

PATRIOT PERSPECTIVE
“The right of the people to keep and bear arms”
By Mark Alexander

There is yet another ideological contest brewing in our nation’s capitol, this one between two distinctively different groups in the federal judiciary: constitutional constructionists, who render decisions based on the “original intent” of our nation’s founding document, and judicial despots, who endorse the dangerously errant notion of a “Living Constitution.”

This is no trivial contest, however, and the outcome will have significant consequences across the nation.

The subject of this dispute is Washington, DC’s “Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975,” which prohibits residents from owning handguns, ostensibly to deter so-called “gun violence.”

Of course, suggesting that violence is a “gun problem” ignores the real problem—that of socio-pathology and the culture which nurtures it. (See the Congressional Testimony of Darrell Scott, father of Rachel Scott, one of the children murdered at Columbine High School in 1999.)

In 1960 the frequency of violent crime in the District was 554/100,000 residents, and the murder rate was 10/100,000. In 2006, the frequency of violent crime in the District was 1,512/100,000 residents, and the murder rate was 29/100,000. That is a 200 percent increase, and according to the latest data from Washington Metro Police, violent crime is up 12 percent thus far this year.

Fact is, firearm restrictions on law-abiding citizens in Washington, and other urban centers, have created more victims while protecting offenders. There is nothing new about this correlation. As Thomas Jefferson noted in his Commonplace Book (quoting Cesare Beccaria), “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”

Simply put, violent predators prefer victims who have no means of self defense.

Most pro and con arguments about firearms are constructed around the crime debate, including excellent research by John Lott, whose book More Guns, Less Crime, clearly establishes that restrictive gun policies lead to higher crime rates.

The arguments from both sides in the current case in Washington are also constructed around the crime issue. However, the Second Amendment debate is not about crime, but about the rule of law—constitutional law. Fortunately, the appellate court for DC is making this distinction.

In March of this year, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down that federal jurisdiction’s restrictions on gun ownership, finding that the District is violating the Second Amendment’s prohibition on government infringement of “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” The case has been appealed to the Supreme Court, and should the High Court accept the case, its ruling would be the first substantial decision on the scope of the Second Amendment since 1939.

At issue: Does the Second Amendment prohibit the government from infringing on the individual rights of citizens to keep and bear arms, or does it restrict the central government from infringing on the rights of the several states to maintain well-armed militias?

The intent of the Second Amendment, however, was abundantly clear to our Founders.

Indeed, in the most authoritative explication of our Constitution, The Federalist Papers, its principal author, James Madison, wrote in No. 46, “The advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation... forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any...”

Alexander Hamilton was equally unambiguous on the importance of arms to a republic, writing in Federalist No. 28, “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense...”

Justice Joseph Story, appointed to the Supreme Court by James Madison, wrote, “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”

In other words, the right of the people to bear arms is the most essential of the rights enumerated in our Constitution, because it ensures the preservation of all other rights.

Accordingly, the appellate court, in a 2-1 decision, ruled, “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. That right existed prior to the formation of the new government under the Constitution and was premised on the private use of arms for activities such as hunting and self-defense, the latter being understood as resistance to either private lawlessness or the depredations of a tyrannical government... The individual right facilitated militia service by ensuring that citizens would not be barred from keeping the arms they would need when called forth for militia duty.”

Additionally, the majority opinion notes, “The activities [the amendment] protects are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual’s enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued or intermittent enrollment in the militia.”

The dissenting judge’s conclusion did not dispute the plain language of the Second Amendment’s prohibition on government, but he insists that the District is not a state, and is, thus, not subject to the prohibition.

This is ridiculous, of course, since such a conclusion would imply, by extension, that District residents are not subject to any protection under the Constitution.

The real contest here is one between activist judges, those who amend the Constitution by judicial diktat rather than its clearly prescribed method stipulated in Article V, and constructionist judges, those who properly render legal interpretation based on the Constitution’s “original intent.”

As Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 81, “[T]here is not a syllable in the [Constitution] under consideration which directly empowers the national courts to construe the laws according to the spirit of the Constitution...” In other words, nothing in the Constitution gives judges the right to declare the Constitution means anything beyond the scope of its plain language.

However, activist judges, including those among generations of High Court justices, have historically construed the Second Amendment through a pinhole, while viewing the First Amendment through a wide-angle lens.

For example, though the First Amendment plainly says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” judicial activists interpret this plain language to mean a public school coach can’t offer a simple prayer before a game.

Equally absurd, they argue that the First Amendment’s “freedom of speech” clause means burning the American flag, exploiting women for “adult entertainment,” or using taxpayer dollars to fund works of “art” such as a crucifix immersed in a glass of human waste.

If these same judicial despots misconstrued the Second Amendment as broadly as they do the first, Americans would have nukes to defend themselves from noisy neighbors.

The appeals case regarding the constitutionality of DC’s Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975 is not about crime prevention, or whether the District is subject to prohibitions in the Bill of Rights. It is about the essence of our Constitution’s most important assurance that all Americans have the right to defend themselves against both predatory criminals and tyrannical governments. It is about the need for the High Court to reaffirm this right and stop the incremental encroachment of said right by infringements like that in the District, or more egregious encroachments like those found within the Feinstein-Schumer gun-control act.

Of self-government’s “important principles,” Thomas Jefferson wrote, “It is [the peoples’] right and duty to be at all times armed.” Indeed, the right of the people to keep and bear arms should not be infringed.

25350  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Men & Women on: November 16, 2007, 09:04:41 AM
West: The Fatherless Civilization
By Fjordman
The decade from the first half of the 1960s to the first half of the 1970s was clearly a major watershed in Western history, with the start of non-Western mass immigration in the USA, the birth of Eurabia in Western Europe and the rise of Multiculturalism and radical Feminism. American columnist Diana West recently released her book The Death of the Grown-up, where she traces the decline of Western civilization to the permanent youth rebellions of the past two generations. The paradox is that the people who viciously attacked their own civilization had enjoyed uninterrupted economic growth for decades, yet embraced Marxist-inspired ideologies and decided to undermine the very society which had allowed them to live privileged lives. Maybe this isn't as strange as it seems. Karl Marx himself was aided by the wealth of Friedrich Engels, the son of a successful industrialist.

This was also the age of decolonization in Western Europe and desegregation in the USA, which created an atmosphere where Western civilization was seen as evil. Whatever the cause, we have since been stuck in a pattern of eternal opposition to our own civilization. Some of these problems may well have older roots, but they became institutionalized to an unprecedented degree during the 1960s.

According to Diana West, the organizing thesis of her book "is that the unprecedented transfer of cultural authority from adults to adolescents over the past half century or so has dire implications for the survival of the Western world." Having redirected our natural development away from adulthood and maturity in order to strike the pop-influenced pose of eternally cool youth – ever-open, non-judgmental, self-absorbed, searching for (or just plain lacking) identity – we have fostered a society marked by these same traits. In short: Westerners live in a state of perpetual adolescence, but also with a corresponding perpetual identity crisis. West thinks maturity went out of style in the rebellious 1960s, "the biggest temper tantrum in the history of the world," which flouted authority figures of any kind.

She also believes that although the most radical break with the past took place during the 60s and 70s, the roots of Western youth culture are to be found in the 1950s with the birth of rock and roll music, Elvis Presley and actors such as James Dean. Pop group The Beatles embodied this in the early 60s, but changed radically in favor of drugs and the rejection of established wisdom as they approached 1970, a shift which was reflected in the entire culture.

Personally, one of my favorite movies from the 1980s was Back to the Future. In one of the scenes, actor Michael J. Fox travels in time from 1985 to 1955. Before he leaves 1985, he hears the slogan "Re-elect Mayor....Progress is his middle name." The same slogan is repeated in 1955, only with a different name. Politics is politics in any age. Writers Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale have stated that they chose the year 1955 as the setting of the movie because this was the age of the birth of teen culture: This was when the teenager started to rule, and he has ruled ever since.

As West says, many things changed in the economic boom in the decades following the Second World War: "When you talk about the postwar period, the vast new affluence is a big factor in reorienting the culture to adolescent desire. You see a shift in cultural authority going to the young. Instead of kids who might take a job to be able to help with household expenses, all of a sudden that pocket money was going into the manufacture of a massive new culture. That conferred such importance to a period of adolescence that had never been there before." After generations of this celebration of youth, the adults have no confidence left: "Kids are planning expensive trips, going out unchaperoned, they are drinking, debauching, absolutely running amok, yet the parents say, 'I can't do anything about it.' Parents have abdicated responsibilities to give in to adolescent desire."



She believes that "Where womanhood stands today is deeply affected by the death of grown-up. I would say the sexualized female is part of the phenomenon I'm talking about, so I don't think they're immune to the death of the grown-up. Women are still emulating young fashion. Where sex is more available, there are no longer the same incentives building toward married life, which once was a big motivation toward the maturing process."

Is she right? Have we become a civilization of Peter Pans refusing to grow up? Have we been cut off from the past by disparaging everything old as outmoded? I know blogger Conservative Swede, who likes Friedrich Nietzsche, thinks we suffer from "slave morality," but I sometimes wonder whether we suffer from child morality rather than slave morality. However, there are other forces at work here as well.

The welfare state encourages an infantilization of society where people return to childhood by being provided for by others. This creates not just a culture obsessed with youth but with adolescent irresponsibility. Many people live in a constant state of rebellion against not just their parents but their nation, their culture and their civilization.

Writer Theodore Dalrymple thinks one reason for the epidemic of self-destructiveness in Western societies is the avoidance of boredom: "For people who have no transcendent purpose to their lives and cannot invent one through contributing to a cultural tradition (for example), in other words who have no religious belief and no intellectual interests to stimulate them, self-destruction and the creation of crises in their life is one way of warding off meaninglessness."

According to him, what we are seeing now is "a society in which people demand to behave more or less as they wish, that is to say whimsically, in accordance with their kaleidoscopically changing desires, at the same time as being protected from the natural consequences of their own behaviour by agencies of the state. The result is a combination of Sodom and Gomorrah and a vast and impersonal bureaucracy of welfare."

The welfare state deprives you of the possibility of deriving self-respect from your work. This can hurt a person's self-respect, but more so for men than for women because masculine identity is closely tied to providing for others. Stripped of this, male self-respect declines and society with it. Dalrymple also worries about the end of fatherhood, and believes that the worst child abusers are governments promoting the very circumstances in which child abuse and neglect are most likely to take place: "He who promotes single parenthood is indifferent to the fate of children." Fatherhood scarcely exists, except in the merest biological sense:

"I worked in a hospital in which had it not been for the children of Indian immigrants, the illegitimacy rate of children born there would have approached one hundred per cent. It became an almost indelicate question to ask of a young person who his or her father was; to me, it was still an astounding thing to be asked, 'Do you mean my father now, at the moment?' as if it could change at any time and had in fact changed several times before."

This is because "women are to have children merely because they want them, as is their government-given right, irrespective of their ability to bring them up, or who has to pay for them, or the consequences to the children themselves. Men are to be permanently infantilised, their income being in essence pocket money for them to spend on their enjoyments, having no serious responsibilities at all (beyond paying tax). Henceforth, the state will be father to the child, and the father will be child of the state."

As Swedish writer Per Bylund explains: "Most of us were not raised by our parents at all. We were raised by the authorities in state daycare centers from the time of infancy; then pushed on to public schools, public high schools, and public universities; and later to employment in the public sector and more education via the powerful labor unions and their educational associations. The state is ever-present and is to many the only means of survival – and its welfare benefits the only possible way to gain independence."

Though Sweden is arguably an extreme case, author Melanie Phillips notices the same trends in Britain, too: "Our culture is now deep into uncharted territory. Generations of family disintegration in turn are unravelling the fundamentals of civilised human behaviour. Committed fathers are crucial to their children's emotional development. As a result of the incalculable irresponsibility of our elites, however, fathers have been seen for the past three decades as expendable and disposable. Lone parenthood stopped being a source of shame and turned instead into a woman's inalienable right. The state has provided more and more inducements to women – through child benefit, council flats and other welfare provision – to have children without committed fathers. This has produced generations of women-only households, where emotionally needy girls so often become hopelessly inadequate mothers who abuse and neglect their own children – who, in turn, perpetuate the destructive pattern. This is culturally nothing less than suicidal."

I sometimes wonder whether the modern West, and Western Europe in particular, should be dubbed the Fatherless Civilization. Fathers have been turned into a caricature and there is a striking demonization of traditional male values. Any person attempting to enforce rules and authority, a traditional male preserve, is seen as a Fascist and ridiculed, starting with God the Father. We end up with a society of vague fathers who can be replaced at the whim of the mothers at any given moment. Even the mothers have largely abdicated, leaving the upbringing of children to schools, kindergartens and television. In fashion and lifestyle, mothers imitate their daughters, not vice versa.



The elaborate welfare state model in Western Europe is frequently labelled "the nanny state," but perhaps it could also be named "the husband state." Why? Well, in a traditional society, the role of men was to physically protect and financially provide for their women. In our modern society, part of this task has been "outsourced" to the state, which helps explain why women in general give disproportionate support to high taxation and pro-welfare state parties. According to anthropologist Lionel Tiger, the ancient unit of a mother, a child and a father has morphed from monogamy into "bureaugamy," a mother, a child and a bureaucrat. The state has become a substitute husband. In fact, it doesn't replace just the husband, it replaces the entire nuclear and extended family, raises the children and cares for the elderly.

Øystein Djupedal, Minister of Education and Research from the Socialist Left Party and responsible for Norwegian education from kindergartens via high schools to PhD level, has stated: "I think that it's simply a mistaken view of child-rearing to believe that parents are the best to raise children. 'Children need a village,' said Hillary Clinton. But we don't have that. The village of our time is the kindergarten." He later retracted this statement, saying that parents have the main responsibility for raising children, but that "kindergartens are a fantastic device for children, and it is good for children to spend time in kindergarten before [they] start school."

The problem is that some of his colleagues use the kindergarten as the blueprint for society as a whole, even for adults. In the fall of 2007, Norway's center-left government issued a warning to 140 companies that still hadn't fulfilled the state-mandated quota of 40 percent women on their boards of directors. Equality minister Karita Bekkemellem stated that companies failing to meet the quota will face involuntary dissolution, despite the fact that many are within traditionally male-oriented branches like the offshore oil industry, shipping and finance. She called the law "historic and radical" and said it will be enforced.

Bekkemellem is thus punishing the naughty children who refuse to do as Mother State tells them to, even if these children happen to be private corporations. The state replaces the father in the sense that it provides for you financially, but it acts more like a mother in removing risks and turning society into a cozy, regulated kindergarten with ice cream and speech codes.

Blog reader Tim W. thinks women tend to be more selfish than men vis-a-vis the opposite sex: "Men show concern for women and children while women.... well, they show concern for themselves and children. I'm not saying that individual women don't show concern for husbands or brothers, but as a group (or voting bloc) they have no particular interest in men's well-being. Women's problems are always a major concern but men's problems aren't. Every political candidate is expected to address women's concerns, but a candidate even acknowledging that men might have concerns worth addressing would be ostracized." What if men lived an average of five years and eight months longer than women? Well, if that were the case, we'd never hear the end of it: "Feminists and women candidates would walk around wearing buttons with 'five years, eight months' written on them to constantly remind themselves and the world about this horrendous inequity. That this would happen, and surely it would, says something about the differing natures of male and female voters."

Bernard Chapin interviewed Dr. John Lott at Frontpage Magazine. According to Lott, "I think that women are generally more risk averse then men are and they see government as one way of providing insurance against life's vagaries. I also think that divorced women with kids particularly turn towards government for protection. Simply giving women the right to vote explained at least a third of the growth in government for about 45 years."

He thinks this "explains a lot of the government's growth in the US but also the rest of the world over the last century. When states gave women the right to vote, government spending and tax revenue, even after adjusting for inflation and population, went from not growing at all to more than doubling in ten years. As women gradually made up a greater and greater share of the electorate, the size of government kept on increasing. This continued for 45 years as a lot of older women who hadn't been used to voting when suffrage first passed were gradually replaced by younger women. After you get to the 1960s, the continued growth in government is driven by higher divorce rates. Divorce causes women with children to turn much more to government programs." The liberalization of abortion also led to more single parent families.

Diana West thinks what we saw in the counterculture of the 1960s was a leveling of all sorts of hierarchies, both of learning and of authority. From that emerged the leveling of culture and by extension Multiculturalism. She also links this trend to the nanny state:

"In considering the strong links between an increasingly paternalistic nanny state and the death of the grown-up, I found that Tocqueville (of course) had long ago made the connections. He tried to imagine under what conditions despotism could come to the United States. He came up with a vision of the nation characterized, on the one hand, by an 'innumerable multitude of men, alike and equal, constantly circling around in pursuit of the petty and banal pleasures with which they glut their souls,' and, on the other, by the 'immense protective power' of the state. 'Banal pleasures' and 'immense state power' might have sounded downright science-fictional in the middle of the 19th century; by the start of the 21st century, it begins to sound all too familiar. Indeed, speaking of the all-powerful state, he wrote: 'It would resemble parental authority if, fatherlike, it tried to prepare its charges for a man's life, but, on the contrary, it only tries to keep them in perpetual childhood.' Perhaps the extent to which we, liberals and conservatives alike, have acquiesced to our state's parental authority shows how far along we, as a culture, have reached Tocqueville's state of 'perpetual childhood.'"

This problem is even worse in Western Europe, a region with more elaborate welfare states than the USA and which has lived under the American military umbrella for generations, thus further enhancing the tendency for adolescent behavior.

The question, which was indirectly raised by Alexis de Tocqueville in the 1830s in his book Democracy in America, is this: If democracy of universal suffrage means that everybody's opinion is as good as everybody else's, will this sooner or later turn into a society where everybody's choices are also as good as everybody else's, which leads to cultural relativism? Tocqueville wrote at a time when only men had the vote. Will universal suffrage also lead to a situation where women vote themselves into possession of men's finances while reducing their authority and creating powerful state regulation of everything?

I don't know the answer to that. What I do know is that the current situation isn't sustainable. The absence of fatherhood has created a society full of social pathologies, and the lack of male self-confidence has made us easy prey for our enemies. If the West is to survive, we need to reassert a healthy dose of male authority. In order to do so we need to roll back the welfare state. Perhaps we need to roll back some of the excesses of Western Feminism, too.

Fjordman is a noted Norwegian blogger who has written for many conservative web sites. He used to have his own Fjordman Blog in the past, but it is no longer active.

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