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26051  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: December 04, 2008, 08:13:31 PM
"I am really attracted to BO's analytic approach."

His temperament/disposition seem quite good.

"I personally like the idea of dealing with our country's problems by getting all the ideas on the table and finding the best course of action."

And this is exactly what worries me.  It is simply another variation of "the best and the brightest" approach that has been tried before and left disasters in its wake.  There ARE certain Facts of Life that governmental edict cannot fcuk with.  It cannot repeal the law of gravity and it cannot repeal the law of supply and demand (e.g. taxes and regulations on productivity) or repeal certain Darwinian realities.  Ultimately it is Hayek's "fatal conceit" that the best and the birghtest are better than the Invisible Hand of the Tao (a.k.a. "the Market")

"BO learns all points of view and then tries to find something that connects the dots."   

And this too concerns me.  I worry that the man's gift for glibness leaves him deluding himself as much as it does others into believing that all conflict can be finessed.   It is no accident that this thread's name includes the term "cognitive dissonance"  evil cheesy  I hope he is not our next Jimmy Carter.

26052  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Too fat to fight on: December 04, 2008, 06:25:26 PM
German soldiers deemed 'too fat to fight'
Thomas Coghlan in Kabul
First they were accused of not wanting to fight. Then they were blamed for failing in their main mission to train the Afghan police.

Now Germany’s battered military reputation has received a further humiliating blow. According to official reports the 3,500 troops in northern Afghanistan drink too much and are too fat to fight.

A German parliamentary report has revealed that in 2007 German forces in Afghanistan consumed about 1.7 million pints of beer and 90,000 bottles of wine. During the first six months of this year 896,000 pints of beer were shipped to German forces in Afghanistan. British and US bases in the country enforce a strict ban on alcohol.

The physical condition of the soldiers was already in question after a German armed forces report found that 40 per cent of its soldiers aged 18-29 were overweight, compared to 35 per cent of the civilian population of the same age.

The report, published in March, concluded that the Bundeswehr lived on beer and sausages while shunning fruit and vegetables. It said that an overdeveloped bureaucracy was also contributing to a “passive lifestyle” on the part of the soldiers.

Reinhold Robbe, the parliamentary commissioner for the German armed forces, concluded: “Plainly put, the soldiers are too fat, exercise too little and take little care of their diet.”

“Yes, it is true, the German soldiers in Kunduz are allowed to drink two cans of beer per day,” Lieutenant-Colonel Rainer Zaude, a spokesman for the forces, confirmed.

Even more damning is the allegation from a senior officer that Germany is failing in its main mission to train the Afghan police. General Hans-Christoph Ammon, the commander of the special commando unit, the KSK, described the efforts as “a miserable failure”.

The Government is also reported to have banned any reference to Krieg (war), in press statements on Afghanistan. Caveats imposed by the German Government limit the forces to operations in the relatively passive north.

Twenty-eight German soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, including two in a suicide bomb attack in Kunduz province last month.

The Germans in Afghanistan

German Tornado aircraft are limited to unarmed reconaissance.  German Medevac helicopters have to be back at base by dusk. 
German forces limited to the northern areas of the country where there is a lower level of fighting (though the level of fighting there is now beginning to change)

US forces have been very frustrated by the caution of German rules of engagement - German troops operating alongside US forces have refused to open fire on occasion for fear of causing civilian casualties.

A trial is currently underway in the German courts following an incident in which German soldiers opened fire on a car that approached a checkpoint believing it contained a suicide bomb - several civilians died in the incident.

AP: Officers outgunned and underfinanced compared with insurgents
The Associated Press
updated 4:06 p.m. MT, Thurs., Dec. 4, 2008

BADABER, Pakistan - Brothers Mushtaq and Ishaq Ali left the police force a month ago, terrified of dying as their colleagues had — beheaded by militants on a rutted village road before a shocked crowd.  They went straight to the local Urdu-language newspaper to announce their resignation. They were too poor to pay for a personal ad, so the editor of The Daily Moon, Rasheed Iqbal, published a news story instead. He has run dozens like it.

"They just want to get the word out to the Taliban that they are not with the police anymore so they won't kill them," said Iqbal. "They know that no one can protect them, and especially not their fellow policemen."

Outgunned and out-financed, police in volatile northwestern Pakistan are fighting a losing battle against insurgents, dozens of interviews by The Associated Press show. They are dying in large numbers, and many survivors are leaving the force.  The number of terrorist attacks against police has gone up from 113 in 2005 to 1,820 last year, according to National Police Bureau. The death toll for policemen in that time increased from nine to 575. In the northwestern area alone, 127 policemen have died so far this year in suicide bombings and assassinations, and another 260 have been wounded.

The crisis means the police cannot do the nuts-and-bolts work needed to stave off an insurgency fueled by the Taliban and al-Qaida. While the military can pound mountain hideouts, analysts and local officials say it is the police who should hunt down insurgents, win over the people and restore order.

"The only way to save Pakistan is to think of extremism and insurgency in North West Frontier Province as a law-enforcement issue," said Hassan Abbas, a South Asia expert at Harvard University's Belfer Center Project for Science. "Rather than buying more F-16s, Pakistan should invest in modernizing its police."

Bombings, beheadings commonplace

In the Swat Valley, militants have turned a once-idyllic mountain getaway into a nightmare of bombings and beheadings despite a six-month military operation to root them out. About 300 policemen have fled the force already. On a recent evening in Mardan, Akhtar Ali Shah had just slipped out of his deputy police inspector's uniform to head home. In an escort vehicle, a half-dozen of his guards had inched outside the giant white gates of the police station for a routine security check.

The bomb exploded minutes later. Through a cloud of dust and dirt, Shah saw five of his six guards lying dead near the blood-smeared gate. The head of the suicide bomber rested nearby.

"We are the ones who are getting killed by the terrorists that we are facing," Shah said later.

Al-Qaida-linked militants ferry truckloads of explosives from the tribal regions through Mardan to targets deep within Pakistan, often slipping past scores of police checkpoints. But Shah said his men lack the technical expertise, training or equipment to hunt down big-name terrorists or even identify would-be suicide bombers.  His voice laced with frustration, Shah held up his small black cell phone.

"These people are among us. Look here: Our technical capabilities are so weak that we don't even have the ability to listen or to trace these phone calls," he said. "How are we supposed to know who it is that is coming here to kill us and when?"

Surviving on $80 a month

Most of Pakistan's 383,000 police are poorly paid constables. Malik Naveed Khan, who heads the force of 55,000 in the North West Frontier Province, said he has one policeman for every 364 miles of some of the most dangerous terrain in the world.

"Insurgents can see when I go someplace and wait for me to return and kill me," he said. "It isn't my own death that I fear, but every time there is an attack, it demoralizes the whole police force."

Khan said his men fight with World War II-vintage, single-shot weapons against the rapid-fire Kalashnikov rifles carried by the militants. The police go out on patrol without bulletproof vests or helmets. And of Khan's 18 armored personnel carriers, six are 1960s-era Soviet models that break down so often he now sends a mechanic along with the police.

A Pakistani constable makes about $80 a month, compared with about $170 for a Taliban foot soldier, Khan said.  Even in death, militants do better than the Pakistani police. Militant groups pay more than $20,000 to the families of suicide bombers, compared with $6,000 given to a policeman's survivor, Khan said.

"Where is their money coming from?" he asked.

He said he believes a lot of it comes from the flourishing opium trade next door in Afghanistan, donations from devout Muslims and extortion of wealthy Muslims in the Middle East.

Lack of money, resources

Most police stations in Pakistan don't even have cameras to photograph the crime scene or criminals. There were two functioning forensic laboratories in Pakistan in 2001, and since then four more have been approved — a start, but far short of the 50 or so police say they need. Khan said Pakistani police also lack enough explosives-sniffing dogs to check the truckloads coming from the tribal region.  The Pakistani government recognizes the need to train, develop and equip local police, said Sherry Rahman, information minister. But she added that Pakistan has little money for such investment and needs help from the international community.

Most U.S. aid to Pakistan goes to the military, not the police. Washington gave $731 million for military spending last year and $862 million the year before, according to a September report issued by the Pakistan Policy Working Group, an independent, nonpartisan group. By contrast, the U.S. gave $4.9 million for law enforcement and the judicial system last year.  The crisis among the police is also hobbling the courts, said Imtiaz, a deputy jail superintendent who wanted to use only one name because he feared reprisals from militants and his bosses.  Interviewed at a central jail in northwest Pakistan, the jailer said he has been threatened repeatedly by militants who found his phone number. Late-night calls warn him to treat jailed insurgents with a kind hand.  He told of an insurgent caught by police and imprisoned for an attack on a girls' school. At the only anti-terrorist court in town, the judge — who had also been threatened — heard the case, listened to the militant's confession and then acquitted him, Imtiaz said.

"No one believes the police can protect them," Imtiaz said with a laugh. "I am part of the police, and I know they can't protect me."

Fighting back

The police are trying to fight back with citizen councils and the beginnings of an elite force of 7,500 men who will be given good salaries and trained in investigative skills, profiling and weaponry training, said Khan, the provincial police chief. The first 2,000 men are being trained.  About a half-dozen civilian forces, fashioned along the lines of Iraq's Awakening Councils, have also been enticed into taking up arms against the militants in return for more development. Some of the councils, which call themselves Peace Committees, number more than 300 villagers.

"The people of this area have learned as children how to fire a rifle, how to handle a gun," Khan said. "Everyone has a gun, whether licensed or unlicensed. They don't need to be shown how to use them."

In Badaber, a dusty village barely six miles from the provincial capital of Peshawar, a civilian force patrols the streets at night. Abdul Hafeez, who runs a gas station in Badaber, said even government or army trucks must now get permission from villagers blocking the road to pass at night.
The job of the patrols, he said, is to keep out the militants, the military — and the police.  Hafeez said he had told the police a day in advance about rumors that militants were planning to blow up an electrical tower in Badaber. The next day, they did. The police did nothing.

"No, no, no — no one will go to the police," he said. "The police can't do anything. They can't stop these Taliban even when they know they are going to attack."


26053  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizens defend themselves/others. on: December 04, 2008, 05:59:55 PM
Citizen helps LEO during shooter situation
26054  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: December 04, 2008, 03:26:28 PM

Please post WHY you are posting a URL.

Thank you,
26055  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: December 04, 2008, 03:25:27 PM
Reposting SB Mig's post on the Books thread:

The Trouble With Thomas Jefferson
The eloquent Founder's original sin

Damon W. Root | January 2009 Print Edition

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, by Annette Gordon-Reed, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 800 pages, $35

In 1775 the English essayist and lexicographer Samuel Johnson wrote a spirited political pamphlet titled Taxation No Tyranny. His subject was the loud and increasingly aggressive rhetoric coming from the American colonies, where criticism of British economic policy was giving way to calls for popular revolution. “How is it,” Johnson retorted, “that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?”

It’s still a good question. Perhaps no one illustrates the paradox better than Thomas Jefferson. The celebrated author of the Declaration of Independence, which famously declares that “all men are created equal” and are born with the inalienable rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Jefferson was also a slaveholder, a man whose livelihood was rooted in the subjugation of hundreds of human beings, including members of his wife’s family and his own.

At the center of Jefferson’s tangled, frequently horrifying web of blood and bondage were two women: Elizabeth Hemings and her daughter Sarah, better known as Sally. Elizabeth, the daughter of an African slave and an English sea captain, was the slave mistress of a Virginia slave owner and broker named John Wayles. Sally Hemings was the youngest of their six children. Wayles also had children from his three marriages, including a daughter named Martha. Sally Hemings, in other words, was Martha Wayles’ half-sister. At her father’s death in 1773, Martha inherited his human property, including Elizabeth and Sally Hemings. In 1772 Martha married Thomas Jefferson. Thus the Hemingses came to Monticello.

In 1782 Martha died from complications after giving birth to her sixth child with Jefferson. Among those with him at her deathbed were Elizabeth and Sally Hemings, who then was 9 years old. Edmund Bacon, one of Jefferson’s overseers at Monticello, reported that as Martha lay dying she asked her husband not to remarry. “Holding her hand, Mr. Jefferson promised her solemnly that he would never marry again,” Bacon recalled. “And he never did.”

That doesn’t mean Jefferson became celibate. In 1789, while serving as U.S. envoy in Paris, he almost certainly began a four-decade-long relationship with his late wife’s half-sister. (In addition to the oral testimony of numerous Hemings family members, the evidence for their relationship includes DNA tests conducted in 1998 establishing that a Jefferson family male fathered Sally Hemings’ son Eston.) At this point Sally Hemings was 16.

It was an affair the historian Edmund S. Morgan has called a “monogamous spousal relationship.” In her extraordinary new book The Hemingses of Monticello, Annette Gordon-Reed, a professor of history at Rutgers University and a professor of law at New York Law School, uses a more specific term: concubine, which Virginia law defined at the time as a woman living with a man who was not her husband. If Sally Hemings were white, we might describe her relationship with Jefferson as a common-law marriage. But as Gordon-Reed reminds us, “Any black woman who lived with a white man could only have been his concubine. It was legally impossible to be anything else.”

This relationship apparently lasted until Jefferson’s death in 1826, by which time Hemings had given birth to seven of his children, four of whom survived into adulthood. In his will, Jefferson formally emancipated two of them, James Madison Hemings and Thomas Eston Hemings. The other two, William Beverly Hemings and Harriet Hemings, simply left Monticello on their own in the early 1820s to live—“pass”—as white. (All three males, it’s worth noting, were named after men Jefferson knew or admired, a common practice among Virginia’s planter elites.) Eight years after Jefferson’s death, his daughter Martha Randolph quietly freed Sally Hemings, who was then 53 years old. Why didn’t Jefferson emancipate her too? “Formally freeing Hemings,” Gordon-Reed observes, “while also emancipating two people obviously young enough to be their children, would have told the story of his life over the past thirty-eight years quite well.”

Among the many achievements of Gordon-Reed’s compelling, if slightly repetitive, book is her vivid illumination of these previously hidden lives. She persuasively argues that Hemings exacted a promise from Jefferson that proved no less momentous than the one he had granted his dying wife. In essence, 16-year-old Hemings, who was pregnant with Jefferson’s child and working as his domestic “servant” in Paris, chose to return to America with him, rather than remain in France, where she could have formally received her freedom. (By law any slave that set foot on French soil was automatically free.) She did so because Jefferson promised to emancipate her children when they became adults—a promise he kept. In exchange, she lived as his concubine. “Like other enslaved people when the all too rare chance presented itself,” Gordon-Reed writes, “Hemings seized her moment and used the knowledge of her rights to make a decision based upon what she thought was best for her as a woman, family member, and a potential mother in her specific circumstances.”

Jefferson apparently cared for Sally Hemings and their children, and he clearly treated members of her family (some of who were also his deceased wife’s family) with much consideration. Elizabeth Hemings, for instance, became something of a revered matriarch. Her sons Robert and James (brothers to Sally Hemings and Martha Jefferson) received instruction in the skilled trades of barbering and cooking, respectively.

Both were permitted to work for private wages, and both enjoyed relative freedom of movement outside of Monticello—so long as they came running at their master’s command, of course. “Despite their status on the law books,” Gordon-Reed writes, “Jefferson treated them, to a degree, as if they were lower-class white males.” Eventually, Jefferson freed them both.

But let’s not draw too rosy a picture. As part of the marriage settlement for his sister Anna, Jefferson handed over the slave Nancy Hemings (another of Elizabeth Hemings’ offspring, though not by John Wayles) and her two children. When Anna’s husband decided to sell these three slaves, Nancy Hemings implored Jefferson to buy them back so they could remain together as a family. Jefferson bought Nancy, an expert weaver, and her young daughter, but refused to buy her son. The family was split apart. “No matter how ‘close’ the Hemingses were to Jefferson, no matter that he viewed some of them in a different light and did not subject them to certain hardships,” Gordon-Reed writes, “their family remained a commodity that could be sold or exchanged at his will.”

Which brings us back to Samuel Johnson and his quip about slaveholders yelping for liberty. Does the fact that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves—probably including his own children—negate the wonderful things he wrote about inalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence? To put it another way, why should anyone listen to what Master Jefferson (or other slaveholding Founders) had to say about liberty and equality?

It’s important to remember that the idea of inalienable rights didn’t start or stop in the year 1776. The historian Gordon S. Wood, in his superb 1991 book The Radicalism of the American Revolution, argues that “to focus, as we are apt to do, on what the Revolution did not accomplish—highlighting and lamenting its failure to abolish slavery and change fundamentally the lot of women—is to miss the great significance of what it did accomplish.” In Wood’s view, by destroying monarchical rule and replacing it with republicanism, the American revolutionaries “made possible the anti-slavery and women’s rights movements of the nineteenth century and in fact all our current egalitarian thinking.” They upended “their societies as well as their governments…only they did not know—they could scarcely have imagined—how much of their society they would change.”

As evidence, consider two very different figures whose lives intersected with slavery in the 19th century: the abolitionist Frederick Douglass and the pro-slavery politician John C. Calhoun. An escaped slave and self-taught author and orator, Douglass understood better than most just how potent the Declaration’s promise of inalienable rights could be. “Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? That he is the rightful owner of his own body?” Douglass would demand of his mostly white audiences. “There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.”

Calhoun, by contrast, believed the Declaration’s assertion that “all men are created equal” was “the most dangerous of all political error.” As he put it in an 1848 speech, “For a long time it lay dormant; but in the process of time it began to germinate, and produce its poisonous fruits.” This false notion of equality, Calhoun continued, “had strong hold on the mind of Mr. Jefferson…which caused him to take an utterly false view of the subordinate relation of the black to the white race in the South; and to hold, in consequence, that the former, though utterly unqualified to possess liberty, were as fully entitled to both liberty and equality as the latter.”

Think about what Calhoun is saying here. The idea that “all men are created equal” has slowly developed in the American consciousness, producing the “poisonous fruits” of the anti-slavery movement. Jefferson may or may not have intended such an outcome; he certainly did little actively to bring it about, though he did denounce slavery and its brutalizing impact on white society. But the libertarian ideas that inspired Jefferson, the ones coursing through the Declaration of Independence and later through the Constitution, nonetheless did bring it about. Douglass welcomed that result; Calhoun despised it.

That’s why Jefferson’s words matter. In spite of his despicable actions, he gave eloquent and resounding voice to the ideas that have been at the forefront of human liberty for hundreds of years. That members of the Hemings family may have heard such rhetoric while they lived in bondage further highlights the tragedy of their terrible situation. Thanks to Annette Gordon-Reed, these forgotten and silent individuals at least have the opportunity to register their own verdicts on this shameful period.

Damon W. Root is an associate editor of reason.
26056  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / From a friend in Iraq on: December 04, 2008, 12:17:04 PM
You know you are in Baghdad when the sign on the back of your hotel room door not only tells you what to do in event of a  fire, but also tells you what to do in event of:

·         Indirect fire attack

·         Small arms attack

·         VBIED attack

26057  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: December 04, 2008, 11:54:35 AM
Laughing All the Way to the Senate

The Minnesota Senate recount is starting to resemble a "Saturday Night Live" skit that could have been part of Democratic candidate Al Franken's repertoire as a comedian.

This week, Ramsey County elections officials found an additional 171 ballots that hadn't been counted on election night. It turns out a broken voting machine had been replaced, but voters who used the first machine never had their ballots recounted. Mr. Franken picked up 37 votes from that error, but promptly lost 36 votes the next day after neighboring Hennepin County found that 133 votes in one precinct had been counted twice. Minneapolis elections director Cindy Reichert said she believes the error occurred when election judges at the precinct on election night mistakenly ran ballots with write-in candidates through a counting machine a second time. "There are human errors that are made on Election Day," she deadpanned.

Meanwhile, the recount in Minnesota's other 85 counties grinds on. With 93% of votes recounted, Mr. Franken's lawyers claimed yesterday they were now 22 votes ahead -- the first time their man has taken the lead from GOP incumbent Norm Coleman. The Coleman campaign promptly fired back with a press release puckishly claiming they were some 2,200 votes ahead. The Minneapolis Star Tribune's scoreboard right now has a Coleman lead of some 303 votes.

But the final outcome is likely to hinge on just how many of the 12,000 absentee ballots that were rejected for various reasons will ultimately be counted. In some cases, voters failed to follow instructions on the ballot. In some cases, they were submitted by people who had never registered to vote. The Franken campaign insists some 1,000 of the rejected ballots represent valid votes and vows to go to court to make sure the ballots are counted. The dispute may ultimately have to be resolved by the U.S. Senate itself, which has been known in the past to keep seats vacant while it conducts its own investigation.

"I have no doubt in my mind that Al Franken got more votes in this election than Norm Coleman," says Franken attorney Mark Elias. "I don't know what that margin's going to be. But the direction is all in one place, and we believe that's going to continue."

In other words, the Franken campaign is bound and determined to keep counting votes until their man is ahead -- and only then will it be time to stop counting lest the next batch of uncounted votes turn out to favor Mr. Coleman. It's an approach that certainly deserves a laugh, but hardly the way an important election should be resolved.

-- John Fund

The Rangel Time Bomb

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has two ethical time bombs on her hands. She'd be smart to defuse them quickly before they interfere with executing the Obama agenda.

One big headache for Ms. Pelosi is New York Democrat Charlie Rangel, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, who faces multiple tax and regulatory scandals involving his many residential properties. Last week the New York Times also raised serious questions about Mr. Rangel's promotion of a tax loophole that benefited a major donor to a library to be named after him. Both the Washington Post and New York Times have editorialized for Mr. Rangel to step down, but Ms. Pelosi is apparently having none of it. "She told me I am her chairman of the Ways and Means Committee as long as I want to be," Mr. Rangel told reporters at a Harlem ribbon-cutting yesterday.

She may be sticking with Mr. Rangel because she has no stomach for the succession fight that would come. The next ranking Democrat on the important tax-writing committee is California Rep. Pete Stark, whose greatest hits include accusing GOP lawmakers of sending troops in Iraq to die "for the president's amusement." As an unnamed lobbyist told Congress Daily, the business community "would go nuclear" and Republicans would "have a field day" if the gaffe-prone left-winger Mr. Stark were to seek the chairmanship.

No less uncertain has been Mrs. Pelosi's trumpet on the Democrats' other nagging ethical liability, namely Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson, who gained unwelcome notoriety when an FBI raid found $90,000 in cash in his home freezer. He was indicted last year on 16 criminal corruption charges and will soon face trial.

Two scandals might be unfortunate, but a third, if it crops up, could seriously undermine Ms. Pelosi's ambitious agenda. Recall how GOP House leadership passivity amid a succession of ethical lapses finally gobbled up the GOP's political capital in the eyes of voters. Lest the names be forgotten, the hall of ignominy includes Rep. Randy Duke's conviction on corruption charges, Rep. Bob Ney's criminal entanglement with lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Rep. Mark Foley's salacious emails with House pages.

Lesson: These things build slowly but tend to overwhelm party leaders who don't act soon enough. Ms. Pelosi has been warned.

-- Brendan Miniter

Quote of the Day I

"My staff tells me not to say this, but I'm going to say it anyway. In the summer because of the heat and high humidity, you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol" -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in remarks yesterday welcoming the new, air-conditioned Capitol Visitors Center.

Quote of the Day II

"Republicans were happy to make [Tuesday's Georgia Senate runoff] a referendum on Obama; [GOP Senator Saxby] Chambliss consistently warned Georgians of giving the president-elect a 'blank check' in Washington. But can [Democratic challenger Jim] Martin's loss really be seen as a repudiation of Obama, given that he'd already lost the state by 5 percentage points? And what about the 'short coattail' theory -- that without Obama at the top of the ticket in 2010, lots of Democrats are going to be vulnerable? In preparation for this line of attack, House Democratic strategists are already making sure to point out the significant number of House candidates who overperformed Obama's showing in their districts this November, arguing that his effect on downballot races has consistently been overstated. The theory: House Democrats took control of Congress in 2006 without Obama on the ticket and can do just fine on their own in 2010, thank you very much" -- Hotline editor Amy Walter.

The Obama-Gore Consensus

Barack Obama's great virtue is his ability to behave like a cynical politician without getting a reputation as a cynical politician.

The latest example is his left-pleasing promise during the campaign for a windfall oil tax, now quietly removed from his transition web site. Explained an aide, the tax was all along meant to apply only if oil prices are over $80 a barrel. "They are below that now and expected to stay below that."

Mr. Obama here makes a choice in favor of good economic policy. But there's something else going on. He's a student of the late radical thinker Saul Alinsky, who argued that you do or say what's necessary in a democracy to gain power, while keeping your true aims to yourself. Mr. Obama's novel contribution has been to turn this exploitation on his supporters on the left (who admittedly are so wedded to their hero that, so far, they don't seem to mind).

His next big challenge is an upcoming conference updating the Kyoto targets. Mr. Obama has not backed off his overwrought climate rhetoric, but listen carefully to Al Gore. Now that Democrats are on the verge of power, he's backing off cap-and-trade and carbon tax proposals (i.e. visible energy price hikes for consumers) in favor of a new approach, massive government subsidies for "green technology."

Two fans, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaustell, co-founders of the Breakthrough Institute, write approvingly of what they call Mr. Gore's highly "significant shift." "He knows that cap-and-trade, and most any new regulation, would raise energy prices -- a political nonstarter during a recession."

Uh huh. Mr. Gore, when he's close to power, always drops the politically unpopular medicine his climate views would seem to necessitate. When he ran for president, he tried to lower gasoline prices by opening up the petroleum reserve. There was no recession at the time.

But the former veep is perfectly in sync with Mr. Obama. Energy taxes popular with the left but unpopular with voters will soon be off the table to preserve his second term hopes. But that doesn't mean an end to "climate policy, " which can still be used to foster a network of trade groups willing to kick back some of their taxpayer subsidies to maintain Democrats in power. This will do nothing for climate change (and indeed nothing proposed or entertained in Washington would make a difference to climate). But it will help cement Democratic ascendancy over Washington's iron triangle of interest groups, politicians and the bureaucracy.

Indeed, Mr. Gore, as an investor and promoter of several green energy funds himself, is a walking conflict of interest here -- one whose bogus credibility Mr. Obama will happily make use of. Alinsky would be proud.
26058  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: December 04, 2008, 11:13:36 AM
New Products Bring Side Effect: Nanophobia

Published: December 3, 2008
IT sounds like a plot straight out of a science-fiction novel by Michael Crichton. Toiletry companies formulate new cutting-edge creams and lotions that contain tiny components designed to work more effectively. But those minuscule building blocks have an unexpected drawback: the ability to penetrate the skin, swarm through the body and overwhelm organs like the liver.

Humans have long lived in dread of such nightmare scenarios in which swarms of creatures attack. Alfred Hitchcock envisioned menacing flocks in “The Birds.” In the 1990 film “Arachnophobia” a killer spider arrives in the United States, where it attacks and multiplies.

And now comes nanophobia, the fear that tiny components engineered on the nanoscale — that is, 100 nanometers or less — could run amok inside the body. A human hair, for example, is 50,000 to 100,000 nanometers in diameter. A nanoparticle of titanium dioxide in a sunscreen could be as small as 15 nanometers. (One nanometer equals a billionth of a meter.)

“The smaller a particle, the further it can travel through tissue, along airways or in blood vessels,” said Dr. Adnan Nasir, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Especially if the nanoparticles are indestructible and accumulate and are not metabolized, if you accumulate them in the organs, the organs could fail.”

Indeed, some doctors, scientists and consumer advocates are concerned that many industries are adopting nanotechnology ahead of studies that would establish whether regular ingestion, inhalation or dermal penetration of these particles constitute a health or environmental hazard. Personal care products are simply the lowest hanging fruit.

But people are already exposed to nanoparticles. Stoves and toaster ovens emit ultrafine particles of 2 to 30 nanometers, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology; the researchers reported last month that long-term contact with such appliances could constitute a large exposure to the smallest of nanoparticles.

Several products already use nano-engineered materials. There are “nano pants,” stain-resistant chinos and jeans whose fabric contain nano-sized whiskers that repel oil and dirt, and nanocycles made from carbon nanotubes that are stronger and lighter than standard steel bicycles. And in lotions and creams, the use of nanocomponents may create a more cosmetically elegant effect — like uniformity or spreadability.

Some ingredients may behave differently as nanoparticles than they do in larger forms. Nano-sized silver, for example, can act as an antibacterial agent on the skin. Larger particles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide result in white pasty sunscreens; but as nanoparticles, they appear more transparent.

When it comes to beauty products, however, some consumer advocates are concerned that dynamic nanoparticles could pose risks to the skin or, if they penetrate the skin, to other parts of the body. Mineral sunscreens have attracted the most attention.

“Substances that are perfectly benign could be toxic at the nano scale,” said Michael Hansen, a senior scientist at Consumers Union, the company behind Consumer Reports. “Because they are so small, they could go places in the body that could not be done before.”

This month, the magazine published a study it had commissioned that found mineral nanoparticles in five sunscreens, even though four of the companies had denied using them. In October, Dr. Hansen sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration commissioner, asking the agency to require cosmetics and sunscreen manufacturers to run safety tests on nano scale ingredients. In the letter, he cited a few studies published in scientific journals that reported that exposure to nanoparticles of titanium dioxide caused damage to the organs of laboratory animals and human cell cultures.

But cosmetics industry representatives said there was no evidence that personal care products that contain nano-size components constitute a health hazard. Furthermore, no rigorous clinical trials have been published showing that cosmetics with nanocomponents caused health problems. A review of the potential risks of nanomaterials, carried out for the European Center for Toxicology in 2006, concluded that sunscreens with metal nanoparticles were unlikely to penetrate healthy skin, but it did raise the question of whether safety studies should examine if such materials may penetrate damaged skin.

“It’s very difficult to get anything through the skin,” said John Bailey, the executive vice president for science of the Personal Care Products Council, an industry trade group in Washington. “The skin is a very effective barrier.”

Indeed, some nanotechnology researchers said it was illogical to assume that a nano-size component inherently carries greater risk than a larger component. Furthermore, some say cosmetics may contain molecules like a silicone fluid called cyclopentasiloxane that are even smaller than nanomaterials.

New Products Bring Side Effect: Nanophobia
(Page 2 of 2)

“I think it’s a double standard because nanoparticles are less likely to go through the skin than solutions where you are using single molecules,” said Robert S. Langer, a chemical engineering professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. He is developing nanoparticles for the targeted delivery of cancer medications, and is a founder of Living Proof, a cosmetics company that makes hair products. “The molecules in a cream are certainly going to be smaller than a nanoparticle.”

The Food and Drug Administration does not require manufacturers to list the format of ingredients on labels. The agency does require cosmetics manufacturers to ensure that their products are safe for use; in 2006, the agency created its own task force to investigate the safety of engineered nanomaterials.

Ken Marenus, the senior vice president of regulatory affairs worldwide at the Estée Lauder companies, said nanomaterials had to undergo the same kind of assessment for exposure, risk and dosage levels as any other cosmetic component. “The same toxicological standards for every chemical will apply to nano,” he said.

Dr. Bailey of the Personal Care Products Council estimated that several thousand sunscreens and cosmetics currently use some kind of nanoscale component.

Cor soap, for example, uses 50-nanometer particles of silver combined with silica that are smaller than the size of a skin pore. The material is designed to enter the pores and kill bacteria.

“The silver suffocates the bacteria and then you rinse it off with water,” said Jennifer McKinley, the chief executive of Cor. Although a study has shown that nanosilver can permeate broken skin, Ms. McKinley said the soap was safe because it contains only a limited amount of nanosilver and the particles do not remain on the skin.

Indeed, using nanoderivatives of precious metals is becoming a trend. Last year, Chantecaille introduced Nano Gold Energizing Cream, a $420 face cream that contains 5-nanometer particles of 24-carat gold encapsulated in silk fibers. Sylvie Chantecaille, the chief executive of the company, said the capsules delivered the gold particles, which work as an antioxidant, into the surface layers of the skin. “It’s a very effective way to transport beneficial ingredients,” she said.

But many beauty companies are shying away from discussing minuscule particles in their cosmetics. And that kind of avoidance may itself stoke nanophobia. For example, when La Prairie introduced its Cellular Cream Platinum Rare earlier this year, the company sent out press materials promoting “nano-sized Hesperidin Smart Crystals to protect DNA” in the formula. But, in a phone interview, Sven Gohla, the company’s vice president for research and development, distanced the brand from nanotechnology. Just because the particles of hesperidin, a flavonoid, in the formula are small does not mean they are manufactured nanotechnology, he said.

Last month, a consumer group in London called Which? published a survey it had conducted of 67 cosmetics companies on the prevalence and safety testing of nanomaterials in personal care products. Only 17 companies responded, of which eight acknowledged using nanomaterials.

“When nanotechnology was hot, everybody wanted to talk about ‘nano this, nano that.’ Look at the iPod nano,” said Dr. Hansen of Consumers Union. “But now that the concerns have come out, people are not so sure the word nano is a good thing to be touted.”
26059  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: December 04, 2008, 11:07:39 AM
 cheesy cheesy cheesy
26060  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: December 04, 2008, 11:05:49 AM

Storm in a C-cup - 130,000 boobs lost at sea
December 2, 2008 - 9:34AM

More than 130,000 inflatable breasts have been lost at sea en route to Australia.  Men's magazine Ralph was planning to include the boobs as a free gift with its January issue.

The cargo is worth about $200,000, which is another blow for publisher ACP's parent company PBL, which is already in $4.3 billion of debt.  A spokeswoman for Ralph said the container left docks in Beijing two weeks ago but turned up empty in Sydney this week.  The magazine has put out an alert to shipping authorities to see if they have the container, but if they don't turn up in the next  48 hours it will be too late for the next issue, she said.  Ralph editor Santi Pintado urged anyone who has any information to contact the magazine.

``Unless Somali pirates have stolen them its difficult to explain where they are,'' Pintado said.
``If anyone finds any washed up on a beach, please let us know.''
26061  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson: Debt on: December 04, 2008, 11:02:06 AM

"But with respect to future debt; would it not be wise and just for that nation to declare in the constitution they are forming that neither the legislature, nor the nation itself can validly contract more debt, than they may pay within their own age, or within the term of 19 years."

--Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, 6 September 1789
26062  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: December 03, 2008, 12:11:32 PM
My read of the piece is that it is quite clear in its suggestion-- that we get our minds right.  Unlike the general tenor of this forum  wink cheesy  our leadership fears to name the enemy.  The enemy is not an immoral technique.  The enemy is the fascistic streak of Islam-- its remaining Satanic Verses if you will  wink  In short, it is a simple and profoundly important "suggestion" the piece makes.  Know that there is a mass world-wide movement that wars on us.  The strategy?  "We win.  They lose" (President Reagan)
26063  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: December 03, 2008, 12:04:56 PM
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was set to arrive in New Delhi on Wednesday, and then reportedly will make her way to Islamabad, in an attempt to calm tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors following the attacks in Mumbai. It appears that Rice will be carrying a message of restraint for the Indians. Ahead of her trip, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino made a point of saying that “the United States doesn’t believe Pakistan’s government was involved in the attacks, and the Bush administration trusts Pakistan to investigate the issue … We have no reason not to [trust Pakistan] right now.” In other words: Hold your horses, India — Washington is in no mood for a crisis to break out on the Indo-Pakistani border right now.

Washington’s desire for restraint is understandable. The United States is shifting its military focus from Iraq to Afghanistan. For counterterrorism efforts to succeed in that theater, the United States needs to ensure, at the very least, that the Pakistani state is intact. But with a weak and fractured government, a military and intelligence establishment that has lost control, a spreading jihadist insurgency and an economy on the brink of bankruptcy, Pakistan is not in good shape. A military confrontation on its eastern border easily could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in Islamabad, thereby frustrating U.S. military operations in the region and creating an even more fertile environment for jihadist activities in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and the wider world.

While the Indians will hear out the Americans and discuss various avenues of cooperation, including U.S. assistance in training and equipping Indian security forces, New Delhi is highly unlikely to accede to Washington’s request for calm and restraint. India just experienced its own 9/11. After an attack of such magnitude, the government has no choice but to respond, and that response inevitably will be felt in Pakistan. This is not only politically driven: Though the Indian government needs to demonstrate that it is taking action against this threat, it also has a core national security interest in ensuring that an attack like that in Mumbai cannot be repeated.

The Indians are not about to subordinate their freedom to maneuver to the Americans. Doing so would violate a long-standing policy of non-alignment practiced in New Delhi. Given its geography — buffered by the Indian Ocean to the south, jungles to the east, the Himalayas to the north and desert to the west — India is both insulated and strategically placed between the oil-rich Islamic world and the Far East. This has enabled New Delhi to pursue a largely independent foreign policy and play a balancing role between great powers, such as Russia and the United States. New Delhi will resist getting locked into any strategic alignment. (This is precisely why getting the civilian nuclear deal with the United States passed in New Delhi was such a laborious and noisy affair, as politicians feared the deal would compromise India’s independence in foreign relations.)

The U.S. need for restraint and the Indian need for action, therefore, inevitably will clash. But that will not necessarily stop the Indians from taking steps against Pakistan.

There have been several public indications already that New Delhi is making a concerted effort to build a case against the Pakistanis without appearing hasty or rash.

Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee told NDTV on Tuesday that while he would not comment on military action, “every sovereign country has its right to protect its territorial integrity and take appropriate action as and when it feels necessary.” Later in the day, Mumbai Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor gave a press conference in which he said that a group of 10 militants involved in the Mumbai attacks came from Karachi, and that the one suspect captured alive admitted to being a Pakistani from Punjab. Stratfor also is getting indications that the Indian Intelligence Bureau is disseminating more detailed information to Washington — making a special point of reaching out to President-elect Barack Obama’s advisers — to emphasize the Pakistan link in these attacks. So far, Obama has remained relatively ambiguous on the matter. However, on Monday, when asked whether India has the right to “take out” high-value targets inside Pakistan with or without Islamabad’s permission — similar to the precedent the United States has set by launching its own operations along the Pakistani-Afghan border — Obama said that as a sovereign state, India has the right to protect itself.

In all likelihood, a contingency plan has already been decided and set into motion by the upper echelons of the Indian government. Such a plan would take several days at least to implement, giving the Indians some time to try and exhaust their diplomatic options. This might explain why the Indians are being careful with their statements — reiterating the Pakistan link but leaving open a window for diplomatic reconciliation if (and only if) Pakistan cracks down on those elements of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency that purportedly were involved in the attacks. The Pakistanis are likely sensing Indian military preparations and are putting out feelers to exculpate the Pakistani state. One such feeler made its way to the Asia Times Online: A writer believed to have close links to the ISI described how a rogue node of the ISI in Karachi approved the Mumbai operation, after the initial ISI plot was “hijacked” by Kashmiri Islamist militants who had linked up with al Qaeda. The Pakistanis know that India is prepared to raise these claims and are attempting to put distance between the state and the ISI rogues. The best that Islamabad can hope for is that the United States — acting on its own interests in the region — will be able to restrain India from taking military action against Pakistan.

This sets up an interesting dynamic in which the intent of each player will not necessarily match up with the results of its actions. Washington’s intent right now is to restrain India, but India will not allow itself to be held back by the United States. The Pakistanis’ intent may be to crack down on rogue ISI elements and stave off a military confrontation with the Indians, but it is doubtful that Islamabad even has the capability to do so — and it cannot depend fully on the United States to constrain New Delhi. The Indians’ intent is to coerce the Pakistanis into suppressing militants and regaining control over ISI rogues, but political and social pressures are building within India to respond aggressively. The diplomatic maneuvers will continue in coming days, but objective forces are slowly pushing New Delhi, Islamabad and Washington toward a crisis.
26064  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Paine on: December 03, 2008, 10:17:42 AM
"I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection." --Thomas Paine
26065  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama Bonds on: December 03, 2008, 10:16:45 AM
Should this happen, it will bode ominously for the role of the dollar in the world economy.

Japan economists call for 'Obama bonds'
By Kosuke Takahashi

TOKYO - Japanese economists, increasingly concerned that the United States might seek to pay its enormous and growing debt obligations in a weakened US dollar, are looking to the possibility of US Treasuries being issued in yen.

The US government needs to borrow at least US$1 trillion in the coming year, excluding the US Treasury's $700 billion plan to bail out the financial and other industries, said Kazuo Mizuno, chief economist in Tokyo at Mitsubishi UFJ Securities Co, a unit of Japan's largest publicly traded lender by assets. That amount is likely to grow as the US government continues to rescue failed parts of the economy and has to raise more debt - that is, issue government bonds, or Treasuries - to fund such rescues.

Since 2004, when the amount of the government bond issuance reached an annual average of $400 billion, 94% of new buyers of US government bonds have been foreigners, Mizuno told Asia Times Online.

One measure of the increased concern at the ability of the United States to finance its enormous deficits in the future is the rising cost of credit default swaps bought as protection of Treasury debt. These traded near a record high on Tuesday, with benchmark 10-year contracts on Treasuries increased to 42 basis points, or 0.42 percentage points, from around 20 in early September. The contracts have also risen from below two basis points at the start of the credit crisis in July 2007.

While it remains unlikely that the US government will default on its debt, a weaker dollar would ease the burden of payment on existing debt.

In the past few months, the US dollar has strengthened against other major currencies, with the notable exception of the yen, even as the country has been at the epicenter of the deepening financial crisis. That dollar strength is not expected to last.

"There is no wonder the dollar will weaken," said Eisuke Sakakibara, Japan's former top currency official and now a professor at Waseda University. "The dollar now looks strong for a technical reason. The money the US financial firms had invested in the world is being repatriated into the homeland, causing dollar-buying. But once this conversion into the dollars is done, the currency will head south," Sakakibara said at a forum in Tokyo on Sunday.

Faced with the unprecedented growth of the US budget deficit and the prospect of an increasingly weaker dollar compared with the yen reducing the value of Treasury debt held by Japan, economists in Tokyo are calling for the administration of president-elect Barack Obama to issue US Treasuries denominated in yen and other currencies. The issuance of foreign currency-denominated US Treasures would reduce the perceived risk of holding the debt.

The idea of issuing foreign currency-denominated US Treasures is not new. The Jimmy Carter administration, buffeted by the two oil crises of the 1970s, sold "Carter bonds", denominated in German marks and Swiss francs, in 1978 to attract foreign investors into Treasuries.

"The US will be forced to issue foreign currency-denominated US Treasures in its hour of need," said Mizuno. "The US cannot finance its deficit by itself. The US financial system cannot survive without foreign investors. We will see 'Obama Bonds' in the future."

With the US owing increasing amounts to foreign nations, the confidence in US Treasuries continues to be shaken, said Masaaki Kanno, chief economist at JPMorgan Securities Japan Co in Tokyo, said. "This will push up long-term yields, and the dollar will be sold," said Kanno, speaking at the forum in Tokyo on Sunday.

So far, the Japanese yen has been the biggest winner out of the current financial turmoil as investors increasingly unwind the so-called yen carry trade, in which yen borrowed at low interest is changed into other currencies and invested for higher yields than the interest charged on the yen loan.

The yen has advanced 15% versus the dollar this year, 33% against the euro and 53% against the pound sterling. The yen may rise to 85 per dollar this year, predicted Masaki Fukui, senior market economist in Tokyo at Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd, a unit of Japan's second-largest financial group by market value. The Japanese currency at present is trading at about 96.28 to the US dollar.

"Japan’s financial authorities may intervene in the foreign exchange markets only when the yen breaks 90 per dollar," Sakakibara said.

As the yen strengthens, the effective value of debt held in dollars will decline, a fate that yen-denominated Treasuries would escape.

"Yen-denominated US Treasuries would reduce currency risks for Japanese and Chinese buyers of US Treasuries," said Fukui. "If concerns over US Treasuries continue to grow, no one will want to buy them. Yen-denominated US Treasuries would make it easy for foreign investors to buy them."

Looking ahead to 2009, foreign buyers such as Japan, China and other emerging market central banks are likely to reduce their holdings of US Treasuries rather than increase them, as their own countries face massive funding needs to buoy their economies at home and as America will continue to face financial instability and deteriorating economic fundamentals.

Japan holds the world's second-largest foreign reserves, totaling about $1 trillion, following China, which has about $2 trillion in forex reserves, including some $600 billion worth of US Treasuries. Japan plans to provide up to $100 billion to the International Monetary Fund, which would reduce the nation’s holding of short-term US Treasury bills.

China on November 9 announced its sweeping economic stimulus package valued at about 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion), to be spent over the next two years. Market players are speculating China, to secure financial resources, would reduce its holding of US Treasury securities rather than increase them.

Kosuke Takahashi is a freelance correspondent based in Tokyo. He can be contacted at

(Copyright 2008 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.) 
26066  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: December 03, 2008, 06:59:43 AM
"To cherish and stimulate the activity of the human mind, by multiplying the objects of enterprise, is not among the least considerable of the expedients, by which the wealth of a nation may be promoted."

--Alexander Hamilton, Report on Manufactures, December, 1791
26067  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Thomas Friedman on: December 03, 2008, 06:42:36 AM
Calling All Pakistanis 
Published: December 2, 2008

On Feb. 6, 2006, three Pakistanis died in Peshawar and Lahore during violent street protests against Danish cartoons that had satirized the Prophet Muhammad. More such mass protests followed weeks later. When Pakistanis and other Muslims are willing to take to the streets, even suffer death, to protest an insulting cartoon published in Denmark, is it fair to ask: Who in the Muslim world, who in Pakistan, is ready to take to the streets to protest the mass murders of real people, not cartoon characters, right next door in Mumbai?

After all, if 10 young Indians from a splinter wing of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party traveled by boat to Pakistan, shot up two hotels in Karachi and the central train station, killed at least 173 people, and then, for good measure, murdered the imam and his wife at a Saudi-financed mosque while they were cradling their 2-year-old son — purely because they were Sunni Muslims — where would we be today? The entire Muslim world would be aflame and in the streets.

So what can we expect from Pakistan and the wider Muslim world after Mumbai? India says its interrogation of the surviving terrorist indicates that all 10 men come from the Pakistani port of Karachi, and at least one, if not all 10, were Pakistani nationals.

First of all, it seems to me that the Pakistani government, which is extremely weak to begin with, has been taking this mass murder very seriously, and, for now, no official connection between the terrorists and elements of the Pakistani security services has been uncovered.

At the same time, any reading of the Pakistani English-language press reveals Pakistani voices expressing real anguish and horror over this incident. Take for instance the Inter Press Service news agency article of Nov. 29 from Karachi: “ ‘I feel a great fear that [the Mumbai violence] will adversely affect Pakistan and India relations,’ the prominent Karachi-based feminist poet and writer Attiya Dawood told I.P.S. ‘I can’t say whether Pakistan is involved or not, but whoever is involved, it is not the ordinary people of Pakistan, like myself, or my daughters. We are with our Indian brothers and sisters in their pain and sorrow.’ ”

But while the Pakistani government’s sober response is important, and the sincere expressions of outrage by individual Pakistanis are critical, I am still hoping for more. I am still hoping — just once — for that mass demonstration of “ordinary people” against the Mumbai bombers, not for my sake, not for India’s sake, but for Pakistan’s sake.

Why? Because it takes a village. The best defense against this kind of murderous violence is to limit the pool of recruits, and the only way to do that is for the home society to isolate, condemn and denounce publicly and repeatedly the murderers — and not amplify, ignore, glorify, justify or “explain” their activities.

Sure, better intelligence is important. And, yes, better SWAT teams are critical to defeating the perpetrators quickly before they can do much damage. But at the end of the day, terrorists often are just acting on what they sense the majority really wants but doesn’t dare do or say. That is why the most powerful deterrent to their behavior is when the community as a whole says: “No more. What you have done in murdering defenseless men, women and children has brought shame on us and on you.”

Why should Pakistanis do that? Because you can’t have a healthy society that tolerates in any way its own sons going into a modern city, anywhere, and just murdering everyone in sight — including some 40 other Muslims — in a suicide-murder operation, without even bothering to leave a note. Because the act was their note, and destroying just to destroy was their goal. If you do that with enemies abroad, you will do that with enemies at home and destroy your own society in the process.

“I often make the comparison to Catholics during the pedophile priest scandal,” a Muslim woman friend wrote me. “Those Catholics that left the church or spoke out against the church were not trying to prove to anyone that they are anti-pedophile. Nor were they apologizing for Catholics, or trying to make the point that this is not Catholicism to the non-Catholic world. They spoke out because they wanted to influence the church. They wanted to fix a terrible problem” in their own religious community.

We know from the Danish cartoons affair that Pakistanis and other Muslims know how to mobilize quickly to express their heartfelt feelings, not just as individuals, but as a powerful collective. That is what is needed here.

Because, I repeat, this kind of murderous violence only stops when the village — all the good people in Pakistan, including the community elders and spiritual leaders who want a decent future for their country — declares, as a collective, that those who carry out such murders are shameful unbelievers who will not dance with virgins in heaven but burn in hell. And they do it with the same vehemence with which they denounce Danish cartoons.
26068  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jews in India on: December 03, 2008, 06:27:11 AM
I post this here even though it is not on point to the subject of the thread because of the thread's discussion of the Chabad.

Jews of Mumbai, a Tiny and Eclectic Group, Suddenly Reconsider Their Serene Existence
Published: December 2, 2008

MUMBAI, India — The peeling turquoise facade of the colonial-era Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue in the heart of the city’s financial district has long been a tourist attraction, a reminder of the centuries of Jewish influence that have helped shape Mumbai and of the acceptance Jews have enjoyed here.

But after the terrorist attacks last week, Mumbai’s Jews are dismayed to find another building suddenly vying with the 124-year-old synagogue as a symbol of their presence: the charred remains of Nariman House, where gunmen killed Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, his wife, Rivka, and four other Jews.

Although none of the Jews killed in the terrorists’ assault on Nariman House, the community center run by the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, were Indian citizens, the attacks have badly shaken Jews in India. Mumbai has about 4,000 Jewish residents, accounting for a vast majority of India’s Jewish population.

“This is the first time when a Jew has been targeted in India because he is a Jew,” said Jonathon Solomon, a Mumbai lawyer and president of the Indian Jewish Federation. “The tradition of the last thousand years has been breached.”

The origins of India’s Jews remain uncertain, but according to some accounts they may have come as emissaries from the court of King Solomon. They established communities and lived peacefully with Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and, later, Muslims. The absence of anti-Semitism throughout this history has been a source of pride in India.

“This is one of the few countries where Jews never faced discrimination and persecution,” said Ezekiel Isaac Malekar, a leader of the Jewish community in New Delhi.

Jews played a prominent role in several coastal cities, but nowhere more so than in Mumbai. Jewish merchants from Iraq, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries arrived in the late 18th century in what was then British Bombay and quickly established themselves as leading businessmen, opening textile mills and international trading companies.

Only about 200 of these so-called Baghdadi Jews remain in Mumbai, with the rest having immigrated to Israel, Britain and the United States. But their legacy endures: synagogues, libraries and schools, many of which serve Jews and non-Jews. They also financed the construction of several city landmarks, including the Flora Fountain and the Sassoon docks.

Today, most of Mumbai’s Jews have roots in a group known as the Bene Israel community, which claims to be descended from seven Jewish families who were shipwrecked on India’s shore while fleeing persecution in the Galilee during the second century B.C. Over the centuries, they adopted Indian language, dress and cuisine. Since India became independent, these Jews have often played influential roles in Indian society, including in government and Bollywood.

“We always felt we were Indians first and Jews second,” said Mr. Malekar, a Bene Israel Jew.

That sensibility has been shattered by the siege of Nariman House. “This attack has really shaken us up,” said a Jewish educator in Mumbai who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear for his safety. “If with such ease they could finish off the whole Chabad House — the property and the people — now we have to have a fresh look at our own security.”

Many Jewish institutions have remained closed this week as a security precaution. Jewish leaders said they might have to begin restricting access to synagogues and community centers. “Jewish institutions in India are soft targets,” Mr. Solomon said. “After being used to living fearless for so long we are going through a phase where we are debating with ourselves about being careful and whether we need to change our mode of existence.”

Heightening anxieties is the location of many of Mumbai’s synagogues, which are now in predominantly Muslim neighborhoods. Historically, relations between the two religious groups in Mumbai have been good.

“They live with us as brothers and in brotherhood we also live with them,” said Solomon Sopher, chairman and managing trustee of the Sir Jacob Sassoon and Allied Trusts, which manages several Jewish institutions, including a high school that was founded as a Jewish school but now enrolls mostly Muslims.

After the terrorist assaults, some Mumbai Jews said they were increasingly apprehensive about their Muslim neighbors.

Page 2 of 2)

Mr. Solomon said the attack convinced him of the need for India’s Jews to seek official recognition as a minority group. Such status confers privileges, including reserved places for admission to universities and for government jobs. More important, Mr. Solomon said, it would require the Indian government to protect the Jewish community from persecution. In the past, the Indian government has argued that there are too few Jews in the country to grant minority status.

Many Mumbai Jews said they had limited interaction with Rabbi Holtzberg and Chabad House, whose activities were focused on Orthodox Jews visiting from abroad and encouraging greater religious observance among young Israeli backpackers. Few Jews live in the Colaba neighborhood where Nariman House is, having moved to more affluent areas in northern and western parts of the city.

In addition, the Lubavitchers’ ultra-Orthodox practices are much stricter than the observance of most Mumbai Jews.

But Rabbi Holtzberg did preside over Sabbath services every Friday at the Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue. He also conducted religious study classes and helped supply the city’s more religious Jews with kosher meat.

Some Jews said the attacks were likely to foster closer ties within the city’s Jewish population, which in the past had been deeply divided between the Baghdadi community and the Bene Israel group, although those tensions were easing as the city’s Jewish population dwindled. Representatives from both Indian Jewish communities, as well as Chabad, mourned the Holtzbergs and the other Jewish victims from Nariman House at a memorial service on Monday.

Mr. Solomon, who described himself as a secular Jew, said he would be sure to visit the Chabad House when it reopens. A new rabbi, Dov Goldberg, has already been selected.

“Next time it opens, I will make it a point of going to show my solidarity with them,” Mr. Solomon said. “I suppose the same will go for many members of our community.”
26069  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: December 03, 2008, 06:10:27 AM
TBILISI, Georgia -- As ex-Eastern bloc countries from Hungary to Ukraine stumble in the face of the global financial crisis, Georgia, which also suffered a war, has so far largely escaped. The reason: the war.

More than half a billion dollars in mainly U.S. reconstruction aid has already been allocated at high speed since the war between Russia and Georgia in August, filling holes in Georgia's budget and replacing financing for commercial and infrastructure projects that might otherwise have dried up.

A building in Gori, Georgia, smolders after being bombed by Russian jets in August. Reconstruction aid, mainly from the U.S., has replaced commercial financing that might have dried up amid the global financial crisis.

"If there ever was a good time to have a war then this was it," said Roy Southworth, shortly before retiring as country manager for the World Bank in Tbilisi last week.

Georgia was particularly fortunate, he said, with the timing of an Oct. 23 international donor's conference in Brussels, where countries pledged a total of $4.5 billion in aid that should help fill the gap left by an expected drop in foreign investment after the war. "The worst of the financial crisis was still a few days off -- a week or two later and who knows if governments would have been so willing to pledge money," he said.

Most of Georgia's rapid recent economic growth has come from foreign direct investment, which made up close to 20% of gross domestic product in 2007, according to government figures. But the war has put that trend at risk.

Kazakhstan said in September that it had ditched plans to build a $1 billion oil refinery in Batumi, and in October that it might consider selling its gas-distribution business in Georgia. Kazakhstan is a major investor in Georgia but must carefully balance its interests here with keeping its bigger trading partner, Russia, happy.

With growth set to slow sharply to 3.5% this year from 12.4% in 2007, according to World Bank forecasts, unemployment is expected to rise, a prospect that has the government worried.

"Not a single Georgian would have wanted this money as a consequence of war," said Eka Sharashidze, Minister for Economic Development, at a signing ceremony Monday for $10.7 million in U.S. and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development grants and loans to overhaul the water-supply system in the city of Borjomi. "But this support will help Georgia get back on its feet."

 Georgia's government can take credit for some of the economic stability during and after the war, said Mr. Southworth. Unlike some other East European economies, Georgia hadn't run up massive deficits prior to the financial crisis that made its currency vulnerable. The government recently said it will cut the nation's flat income-tax rate by five percentage points to 20% in January in an effort to stimulate the economy.

About $570 million of the $1 billion U.S. portion of the international aid has already been allocated, with $250 million to fill a hole in the government's budget, helping to pay politically sensitive state pensions and salaries.

Georgia also has fans in the foreign-investment community willing to wait and see. This year, the country leapt to the 15th-best place to do business in the world in the World Bank's annual rankings. As recently as 2005, Georgia ranked 112th.

Foreign investors "that already invested time or money are continuing, even if they are delayed a few months," said David Lee, general director of MagtiCom Ltd, Georgia's leading mobile-telecommunications company, adding that 70% of all companies in Georgia are his clients. "But the big question is -- will new investors come?"

Mr. Southworth points to a slew of five-star hotels under construction in downtown Tbilisi as a bellwether for how bad the impact gets. Several seem likely to finish almost according to prewar schedules, despite the war. One, to be operated by Hyatt International LLC, is set to receive about $30 million in cheap finance from the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation, or OPIC, part of a $176 million loan package for seven projects in late October.

"The OPIC finance is goodwill and assistance because private-equity funds won't invest in Georgia now, they won't take on the country risk or the high political risk," said Kakha Sharabidze, the Tbilisi-based CEO of Loyal Estate, the developer of the project.

26070  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: December 03, 2008, 06:07:52 AM
WASHINGTON -- James Jones, President-elect Barack Obama's new national security adviser, said a U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan will work only if other changes take hold there, including a strengthening of the judiciary and national police force.

Retired Marine Gen. James Jones, President-elect Barack Obama's pick for national-security adviser, says that a troop surge in Afghanistan will work only if an effort is also made to bolster the government.

In an interview Tuesday, the retired Marine Corps general said Mr. Obama's campaign pledge to move as many as 10,000 U.S. troops from Iraq to Afghanistan must mesh with a concentrated international effort to bolster government and eradicate the vast heroin trade.

"You can always put more troops into Afghanistan," he said. "But if that's all you do, you will just be prolonging the problem."

Gen. Jones's prescription for what ails Afghanistan offers a glimpse at the role he will likely play as Mr. Obama's right-hand man on national security and the top foreign-policy referee within the White House.

In announcing Gen. Jones this week as his pick to head the National Security Council, Mr. Obama emphasized the general's military and diplomatic experience. "He has commanded a platoon in battle, served as supreme allied commander in a time of war, and worked on behalf of peace in the Middle East," Mr. Obama said Monday.

WSJ's Neil King talked with James Jones, Obama's new national security adviser. Read some excerpts from their interview.
Gen. Jones will have to mediate between the likes of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Sen. Hillary Clinton, who was nominated as secretary of state. The Obama White House also will teem with such strong personalities as Rep. Rahm Emanuel, named as chief of staff, and Larry Summers, the incoming head of the National Economic Council.

For his part, Gen. Jones tends toward the sober and methodical. He said he has "every reason to believe" the team can work together. "We have a serious boatload of problems facing us and the only way out of it is for us all to pull on the same oar," he said. Gen. Jones's friends say that despite 40 years in the Marines Corps, his conversations are profanity-free. The general has a penchant for words like "holistic" and "embryonic."

Mr. Obama has often mentioned the need to turn more U.S. military attention toward Afghanistan, and describes South Asia as the biggest menace to U.S. security.

The Jones pick met with approval from European diplomats, many of whom know the general from his years in Belgium as the military head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. But Gen. Jones put much of the blame for Afghanistan's deepening woes on NATO's military effort that he said "has let too many things slip through the cracks."

An internationalist at heart, Gen. Jones said the incoming administration is eager to enlist the support of Europe and the rest of the world to grapple with the challenge of Iran and its nuclear program. He said it was too early to talk specifics on Iran policy.

Gen. Jones brings an unusual resume to the White House post. He spoke English and French as a child in Paris, where his father was an International Harvester executive. He played basketball at Georgetown University, where he graduated from the School of Foreign Service before joining the Marine Corps. He commanded a platoon for two years in Vietnam. In the early 1980s, he served as a Marine liaison to the Senate. His boss was the future Sen. John McCain.

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He also has nurtured close ties to the Democrats, serving as a senior military assistant in the Clinton Pentagon, and then as Marine commandant. Under President Bush, he became the military head of NATO in 2003 and took charge of all U.S. forces in Europe.

Gen. Jones spent most of the last two years running an energy task force at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a job that he said reinforced his conviction that the U.S. "urgently needs a comprehensive energy strategy." He intends to make that quest a key part of his new job, and to enlarge the National Security Council to include a top energy adviser.

Gen. Jones also hit on a key foreign-policy theme of the incoming administration: that the U.S. must be judicious in its use of hard power. "There is power and then there is influence," he said. "If we say what we mean and do what we say, that will help forgo the classic use of power in the military sense."

The international fascination with this year's presidential election, Gen. Jones said, reinforced his view that U.S. influence isn't waning as rapidly as some critics say. "I am not ready to concede yet that American era is behind us," he said.
26071  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Laid off migrant workers returning to countryside on: December 03, 2008, 05:43:43 AM
SHUANGFU VILLAGE, China -- Fan Junchao has spent most of the past five years living hundreds of miles from his small family farm here. Encouraged by the local government, he leased out his meager plot and worked on construction crews in big cities, making several times what he could have earned on crops.

Laid off migrant workers across China are returning home to villages like Shuangfu, above.

Now his construction project has been halted, and Mr. Fan has returned home. "Right now, I don't have a plan," he says. "I'm just taking it one step at a time."

Mr. Fan is among hundreds of thousands of China's 130 million migrant workers -- known as the "floating population" -- being cast out of urban jobs in factories and at construction sites.

China's roaring industrial economy has been abruptly quieted by the effects of the global financial crisis. Rural provinces that supplied much of China's factory manpower are watching the beginnings of a wave of reverse migration that has the potential to shake the stability of the world's most populous nation.

Fast-rising unemployment has led to an unusual series of strikes and protests. Normally cautious government officials have offered quick concessions and talk openly of their worries about social unrest. Laid-off factory workers in Dongguan overturned patrol cars and clashed with police last Tuesday, and hundreds of taxis parked in front of a government office in nearby Chaozhou over the weekend, one of a series of driver protests.

On Wednesday, workers let go from a liquor factory in northern China mounted a protest in Beijing, at the parent company's headquarters. In the latest sign of economic stress, China's currency fell Monday by its single largest margin on record against the dollar, on expectations the central bank might devalue it to prop up sagging growth.

As the government tries to calm tensions in the cities, it also fears that newly unemployed migrants returning home could upend the already-strained social system in the countryside.

At a train station 30 miles from Mr. Fan's village, officials are keeping 24-hour tabs on arrivals to monitor how many of the surrounding area's two million migrants will return from industrial centers. Around 60,000 have already done so, they say -- and many more are expected, despite Beijing's efforts to persuade workers to stay in cities and train for potential new jobs.

Mr. Fan, a 55-year-old grandfather, helps support his grandchildren as well as himself and his wife -- and one of his two sons, now working as an apprentice after his factory wages were cut. Mr. Fan worries his other son, also a migrant worker, will next be out of a job. He offers guests cups of hot water instead of tea because he is trying to scrimp.

Many of the returning workers, like Mr. Fan, have too little income from the land to support their families. Beijing has been encouraging many to lease out their farms to more profitable cooperatives -- which don't share their increased earnings from the crops with the landholders -- at the same time it encouraged their moves into the cities, by loosening rules for doing both in the past few years. Those rules were formalized earlier this year.

 Chinese Migrant Workers Return Home
China's work force returns home to rural areas because of the slowing economy, but the land they used to subsist on is now being farmed by larger companies. (Dec. 1)
Others have no farms to come back to, having seen their land gobbled up by decades of previous Chinese urbanization drives, in which unscrupulous developers and corrupt officials often illegally seized peasants' land.

For workers accustomed to a decade of double-digit growth, China's sudden downturn has come as a shock to the system. Migrant workers -- estimated to make up a tenth of the country's population -- have powered China's economic success in the three decades since free-market reforms began.

They supply the low-cost labor for the country's rapidly growing infrastructure and dominant low-priced exports. The wages they send home have helped spread prosperity from the booming cities into the relatively poor countryside. But the global slump threatens a precarious balance if unemployment continues to grow. Already it has caused China's construction industry to seize up and prompted many factories that once churned out toys, electronics and clothing to cut work forces or close up shop.

Meng Jianzhu, China's minister of public security, told a conference of regional government officials late last month that there are "lots of social problems affecting stability under the current circumstances," the official Xinhua news agency reported. Among the major problems to address, Mr. Meng said: "Work should be improved on serving and managing the floating population." Beijing has been warning local officials to take extra efforts to ensure stability, focusing their efforts on re-employment programs.

National statistics on how many migrant workers have been laid off and returned home aren't available, but regional numbers are significant. Yin Weimin, minister of human resources and social security, estimated at a news conference this month that about 300,000 of the 6.8 million migrant workers from one province, Jiangxi, to the south of Mr. Fan's Anhui province, have returned home.

The situation "is continuing to develop, the number of rural migrant workers returning home is gradually increasing, and we are closely following this," he said. Other provinces have reported similar numbers.

Officials in the central province of Hubei estimate that they've also had 300,000 laid off workers come home just in the past two months. In Hubei's capital, Wuhan, officials estimate that the number will eventually total 600,000 in their city alone.

In Fuyang, the city nearest to Shuangfu, officials tracking returnees note that it's not easy for industrial workers to return to country life or work. "These aren't the same peasants like the peasants of yesterday," says an official from the city's Human Resource and Labor Bureau, stamping his foot one recent cold morning during a 12-hour shift outside the train station. "They don't raise crops, they have skills." He and other officials work to interview at least 200 migrants a day to find out their plans, where they're coming from and which they are returning to. The government also has had the chief local party official of each village conduct a regular head count of returnees.

Minutes after stepping off the train in Fuyang, 18-year-old Liang Wenzheng, just laid off from his job of three years on an electronics assembly line in Dongguan, shoulders his bags and surveys the future. "If I can't find a job, I'll have to farm at home. I don't want to do that -- I'm just 18," he said.

Migrant workers left their villages over the years because there was too little land for them to earn a decent living. China has roughly the same amount of farmable land as the U.S., where only 2% of workers are employed in agriculture. But China has some 730 million rural residents -- more than twice the entire American population.

Between 80 million and 100 million rural residents are either completely landless or don't have access to enough land for subsistence, estimates Joshua Muldavin, professor of geography and Asian studies at Sarah Lawrence College. "The increases right now with the large-scale return of peasants could add tens of millions to that," he says. "Its importance can't be exaggerated in China and internationally."

Despite China's recent prosperity, steamroller-flat Anhui province remains poor. The dirt road leading from the simple brick courtyard home Mr. Fan built heads past piles of charred old cloth shoes -- used as a cheap coal substitute for boiling tofu.

The newest change has come as farmers like Mr. Fan have rented their land to new agribusiness in a government-supported bid to boost rural incomes by combining farms into more efficient, modern operations. Mr. Fan two years ago transferred farming rights to three-fifths of his land -- which totals less than an acre -- to a new company established by a local government official to sell expensive, organically grown vegetables in greenhouses to supermarkets and hotels.

Mr. Fan, like others, got a standard price based on harvesting wheat, a staple but also an extremely cheap crop, while the cooperative has gone on to grow exotic vegetables that fetch higher prices from the new urban middle class.

Mr. Fan's rent from the farming company is about one-seventh what he was making in construction. His wife still supervises farming of the other portion. The combined income makes his family better off than some, but couldn't support his two sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren.

Mr. Fan, a high-school graduate, was slow to leave his village even as others did. He learned how to be a bricklayer between harvests of wheat, soybeans and corn on his land, which was allocated to his and other families after China's farm communes were disbanded in the last 1970s.

In the mid-1990s, the government redistributed more land to farmers. It continued to keep ownership of the land public, but gave farmers long-term leases. Mr. Fan received one mu, a sixth of an acre, for each of the five people in his household -- himself, his wife, two sons and a grandparent. His family has doubled in size since then.

 After watching his neighbors return prosperous from city jobs for years, Mr. Fan in 2003 ventured hundreds of miles to work as a bricklayer in Heilongjiang province, on China's northern border with Russia. He gradually raised his bricklaying income from 30 yuan a day ($4.30) to 70 yuan.

In 2006, a medicine merchant in Shuangfu, Gao Dongfang, had an idea to raise more valuable vegetables on the village's land using techniques that the villagers didn't know about or couldn't afford. "We wanted to change the way things are done here," said his older brother, Gao Haifei. "It's always been wheat and beans, beans and wheat." The younger Mr. Gao obtained a post as village party secretary, and eventually consolidated 200 acres from farmers in neighboring villages. He brought in an expert from another agribusiness, who introduced vegetables like Israeli green peppers and Taiwanese eggplants.

The business, called Orient Modern Vegetable Cooperative, has earned up to 10 or more times the value from a given piece of land than villagers reaped using their traditional techniques and crops. Mr. Fan's wife signed a 10-year contract with the firm in 2006 while he was away working. The lease brings in 3,500 yuan per year, equal to $513.

This fall, Mr. Fan went to a new construction site, this time in Wuxi, a booming lakeside city near Shanghai. Days after he arrived to work on a 15-story, high-end apartment building, he started hearing rumors that the developer was having trouble selling apartments and wouldn't be able to pay his contractors. Two weeks later, the foreman of Mr. Fan's 40-man work team told them to collect their last paychecks and go home.

Mr. Fan now thinks a lot about his two sons, and what will happen if they also lose their current jobs. "I'm really worried," he says. He thought they would never have to farm again. They have worked as migrant laborers all their adult lives.

His younger son continues to work in a furniture factory. Older son Fan Yaxian, 29, is apprenticing as a truck driver after his factory wages were cut. "I don't know how to farm," Fan Yaxian says. He hopes to start his own small business.

Mr. Fan has no such aspirations. "I don't have a head for business," he says. "I can only go down the path of a migrant worker. If I can't be a migrant worker, I don't have any other ideas."

—Ellen Zhu in Shanghai and Andrew Batson in Beijing contributed to this article.
Write to Shai Oster at

26072  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: India names mastermind on: December 03, 2008, 05:39:04 AM
MUMBAI -- India has accused a senior leader of the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba of orchestrating last week's terror attacks that killed at least 172 people here, and demanded the Pakistani government turn him over and take action against the group.

Just two days before hitting the city, the group of 10 terrorists who ravaged India's financial capital communicated with Yusuf Muzammil and four other Lashkar leaders via a satellite phone that they left behind on a fishing trawler they hijacked to get to Mumbai, a senior Mumbai police official told The Wall Street Journal. The entire group also underwent rigorous training in a Lashkar-e-Taiba camp in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, the official said.

More on the Attacks
Complete Coverage: Terror in MumbaiEyewitness: 'Five Weapons Pointed at My Chest'Video: Indian Stars Hold Mumbai VigilVideo: Gunfight FootageMr. Muzammil had earlier been in touch with an Indian Muslim extremist who scoped out Mumbai locations for possible attack before he was arrested early this year, said another senior Indian police official. The Indian man, Faheem Ahmed Ansari, had in his possession layouts drawn up for the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel and Mumbai's main railway station, both prime targets of last week's attack, the police official said.

Mr. Ansari, who also made sketches and maps of locations in southern Mumbai that weren't attacked, had met Mr. Muzammil and trained at the same Lashkar camp as the terrorists in last week's attack, an official said.

U.S. officials agreed that Mr. Muzammil was a focus of their attention in the attacks, though they stopped short of calling him the mastermind. "That is a name that is definitely on the radar screen," a U.S. counterterrorism official said.

Information gathered in the probe also continues to point to a connection to Lashkar-e-Taiba, that official said. Along with a confession from the one gunman captured in the attacks, officials cited phone calls intercepted by satellite during the attacks that connected the assailants to members of Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan, and the recovered satellite phone from the boat.

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STANDING WATCH: Police on Tuesday guard Mumbai's main rail station, a target of last week's terror attack -- plotted, India says, by a Pakistani militant.
It also emerged Tuesday that U.S. authorities had warned Indian officials of a pending attack by sea. Hasan Gafoor, Mumbai police commissioner, told reporters there was a general warning issued in September that hotels could be targeted as well, after the bombing of the Marriot Hotel in Islamabad.

Two militants arrested in early 2007 also told police officials then that they were part of a band of eight Lashkar members who slipped into India by boat from Karachi, Pakistan, and made their way to Mumbai, an Indian police official in Kashmir said in an interview Tuesday. The group broke into pairs -- just as last week's attackers did -- and made their way north using safehouses provided by local sympathizers, the police official said.

The evidence cited by investigators is giving fresh ammunition to the Indian government, which has long tried to pressure Pakistan into cracking down on Lashkar-e-Taiba. India claims the group enjoys support from elements of the Pakistani intelligence agency. Pakistan denies that and outlawed the organization in 2002, but has done little to curtail its operations.

Mr. Muzammil's name is on a list of people -- numbering about 20 in all -- that India gave Pakistan earlier this week, demanding their immediate extradition, a senior Pakistani official told the Journal. The official said Pakistan was examining India's list of suspects and has assured New Delhi that action would be taken against them if there is evidence of involvement in the attacks.

Any move by the shaky civilian government of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari against Lashkar-e-Taiba could create a huge backlash, however, particularly from Islamic groups, said a senior official in Pakistan. On Tuesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani convened a meeting of all of the country's political parties in the capital to develop a joint response to Indian demands for extradition.

"The government of Pakistan has offered a joint investigation mechanism and we are ready to compose such a team which will help the investigation," Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in a televised statement. Mr. Qureshi, however, declined to say whether Pakistan would hand over any of those sought by India.

The Mumbai attacks have ratcheted up tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors, who have been exchanging verbal fire for the past several days and sparking fears of a conflict. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to arrive in India Wednesday, as is Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Indian authorities say evidence highlights how Lashkar has broadened its operations to include recruitment of both Indian and Pakistani Muslim extremists.

Lashkar-e-Taiba -- literally Army of the Good -- has been implicated by Indian officials in several recent terrorist attacks on Indian soil. The group initially focused on fighting the Indian army in the disputed state of Kashmir. Over the years, it has expanded its cause into the rest of India and aims to establish Islamic rule.

India has told Pakistan that the latest attacks in Mumbai were masterminded by Mr. Muzammil, aided by others in Lashkar's senior ranks including an operative named Asrar Shah, according to a senior Pakistani official. Mr. Muzammil, a Pakistani in his mid-30s, became head of Lashkar-e-Taiba's anti-Indian planning cell some three months ago, according to Dipankar Banerjee, director of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, an independent think tank in New Delhi. Indian authorities believe he is in Pakistan but officials there haven't acknowledged that.

India also claims the attacks were approved by Hafiz Muhammed Saeed, the Pakistani official said. Mr. Saeed is the head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the parent organization of the Lashkar group. Mr. Saeed, who is free in Pakistan, denied the accusations. "India has always accused me without any evidence," he told Pakistan's GEO News television channel.

Indian investigators -- helped in part by the testimony of the one terrorist they captured alive, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab -- say they now possess solid proof. "We have made substantial progress in the investigation," said A.N. Roy, director general of the State Police of Maharashtra, where Mumbai is located.

According to Mumbai police chief Hasan Gafoor, Mr. Kasab told interrogators that he and fellow gunmen spent between a year and 18 months in a Lashkar-e-Taiba camp.

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An armed policeman guards the Victoria Terminus station on Tuesday in Mumbai.
The 10 militants left Pakistan's port city of Karachi on Nov. 23 aboard a ship called the Al Husseini, which also carried a crew of seven, another senior police official said. Investigators believe that all the 10 gunmen were Pakistani because they spoke Punjabi or Punjabi-accented Urdu.

When they entered Indian waters, the terrorists hijacked a fishing trawler called the Kuber and took its five crew members prisoner. The terrorists transferred four of them to the Al Husseini and they were subsequently killed, police believe. The terrorists kept the Kuber's lead crewman alive and sailed close to Mumbai.

The terrorists abandoned the Kuber in haste, fearing detection by an approaching vessel, the senior police official said. In the process, they forgot their satellite phone on the Kuber. Investigators found in the call log the numbers of five people, including Mr. Muzammil, two of his deputies and his personal aide, the senior police official said. Indian officials had already intercepted phone conversations made while the terrorists were traveling to Mumbai.

Indian Muslim leaders are skeptical of Lashkar's reach into India. But police say Lashkar has increasingly sought contacts and recruits among Indian extremists. In October, for instance, five Muslims from the southern state of Kerala were recruited into Lashkar-e-Taiba and traveled to the Indian part of Kashmir, according to T.K. Vinod Kumar, Kerala's deputy inspector-general of police. They tried to cross the line of control that runs between India and Pakistan and reach training camps on the Pakistani side.

Four among the group were killed in a firefight with the Indian military during that attempt. The fifth, construction worker Abdul Jabbar, was arrested two weeks ago, Mr. Kumar says.

Unlike other Pakistani-based jihadist organizations, Lashkar draws its recruits across a broad social spectrum, from universities as well as among unemployed youths. The majority come from Punjab; Mr. Kasab used to live in the Punjabi village of Faridkot, according to Indian investigators.

In March 2007 when two militants were arrested in the Indian-controlled section of Kashmir, the pair told police that Lashkar was looking to start slipping people into India from the sea to avoid heavily guarded land borders. The sea also provided a winter route to Kashmir for Lashkar members, when high mountain passes crossing to India's part of the state are often blanketed by deep snow.
26073  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: December 03, 2008, 04:50:48 AM
Senior SOF Editor Don McLean on “Political Correctness”: ”…a doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical, liberal minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.”
26074  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Class at Inosanto Academy on: December 02, 2008, 02:45:26 PM
Thanks to Frankfurter for ably handling the class this past Saturday.  Looking forward to seeing everyone every Saturday this month.
26075  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizens defend themselves/others. on: December 02, 2008, 02:29:31 PM

OAKLAND — A 15-year-old gang associate was in critical condition Friday after he was wounded twice by his own gun during a struggle with a 32-year-old he pointed the weapon at, police said.

The man, who police said was a former paratrooper in the Honduras army, was not hurt and waited for police to respond to where the confrontation happened. He gave a statement to investigators before he was arrested on suspicion of assault while the district attorney's office determines whether he acted in self-defense.

Police would not release the name of the teen or the adult pending the district attorney's review.

The shooting happened just before 2 a.m. Friday in the 3700 block of Foothill Boulevard in the Fruitvale district. The area is a known hangout of certain gang members and police said the 15-year-old is associated with the gang.

The man was on his cell phone when he was confronted by the teen, and possibly some other youths, said Officer Robert Trevino, who is investigating the case with Sgt. Drennon Lindsey.  The teen pointed a pistol at the man, who had never seen him before, and used a street term to see if he was in another gang, police said. Police said the man is not a gang member and has only been in Oakland eight months, seeking work.  When the teen was momentarily distracted by a passing car, the man grabbed the gun and the two began struggling over it, Trevino said. During the struggle the gun went off twice, hitting the teen in the neck and shoulder, police said.

He was taken to a local hospital by friends where he underwent surgery. The man waited for police to come to the scene and gave them the pistol.
26076  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Saakashvili speaks on: December 02, 2008, 12:42:09 PM
Since Russia invaded Georgia last August, the international community seems stuck on one question about how the war started: Did the Georgian military act irresponsibly to take control of Tskhinvali in the South Ossetia region of Georgia?

Russian armor on the move in Georgia, August 2008.
This question has been pushed to the center in large degree by a fierce, multimillion-dollar Russian PR campaign that hinges on leaked, very partial, and misleading reports from a military observer from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that claimed Georgia responded militarily in South Ossetia without sufficient provocation by Russia. Judging from recent media coverage, this campaign has been successful.

Focusing on this question distracts from Russia's intense, blatant policy of regime change that has long aimed to destabilize Georgia through ethnic manipulation, and thus thwart our democracy while stopping NATO's expansion. Furthermore, it has never been in dispute whether our forces entered South Ossetia. I have always openly acknowledged that I ordered military action in South Ossetia -- as any responsible democratic leader would have done, and as the Georgian Constitution required me to do in defense of the country.

I made this decision after being confronted by two facts. First, Russia had massed hundreds of tanks and thousands of soldiers on the border between Russian and Georgia in the area of South Ossetia. We had firm intelligence that they were crossing into Georgia, a fact later confirmed by telephone intercepts verified by the New York Times and others -- and a fact never substantially denied by Russia. (We had alerted the international community both about the military deployment and an inflow of mercenaries early on Aug. 7.)

Second, for a week Russian forces and their proxies engaged in a series of deadly provocations, shelling Georgian villages that were under my government's control -- with much of the artillery located in Tskhinvali, often within sites controlled by Russian peacekeepers. Then, on Aug. 7, Russia and its proxies killed several Georgian peacekeepers. Russian peacekeepers and OSCE observers admitted that they were incapable of preventing the lethal attacks. In fact, the OSCE had proven impotent in preventing the Russians from building two illegal military bases inside South Ossetia during the preceding year.

So the question is not whether Georgia ordered military action -- including targeting of the artillery sites that were shelling villages controlled by our government. We did.

The question is, rather: What democratic polity would have acted any differently while its citizens were being slaughtered as its sovereign territory was being invaded? South Ossetia and Abkhazia are internationally recognized as part of Georgia, and even some areas within these conflict zones were under Georgian government control before the Russian invasion. We fought to repel a foreign invasion. Georgians never stepped beyond Georgian territory.

My government has urged the international community to open an independent, unbiased investigation into the origins of the war. I first proposed this on Aug. 17, standing with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Tbilisi. I offered to make every shred of evidence and every witness available. Russia has yet to accede to such terms of inquiry.

Also, last Friday I stood for several hours before a commission established by the Georgian Parliament, chaired by a leader of an opposition party, to investigate the conduct of the war. This is the first time that any leader from this part of the world has been scrutinized live on national television for his or her wartime decisions by a legislative investigation. I have also required every member of my administration and military to make themselves available to the committee.

The real test of the legitimacy of Russia's actions should be based not on whether Georgia's democratically elected leadership came to the defense of its own people on its own land, but on an assessment of the following questions. Was it Georgia or Russia (and its proxies) that:

- Pursued the de facto annexation of the sovereign territory of a neighboring state?

- Illegally issued passports to residents of a neighboring democracy in order to create a pretext for invasion (to "protect its citizens")?

- Sent hundreds of tanks and thousands of soldiers across the internationally recognized borders of a neighboring democracy?

- Instigated a series of deadly provocations and open attacks over the course of many months, resulting in civilian casualties?

- Refused to engage in meaningful, bilateral dialogue on peace proposals?

- Constantly blocked all international peacekeeping efforts?

- Refused to attend urgent peace talks on South Ossetia organized by the European Union and the OSCE in late July?

- When the crisis began to escalate, refused to have any meaningful contact (I tried to reach President Dmitry Medvedev on both Aug. 6 and 7, but he refused my calls)?

- Tried to cover up a long-planned invasion by claiming, on Aug. 8, that Georgia had killed 1,400 civilians and engaged in ethnic cleansing -- "facts" quickly disproved by international and Russian human-rights groups?

In today's Opinion Journal


Travels With HillaryMumbai and ObamaMore Immigration Losers


Global View: Media Narratives Feed Terrorist Fantasies
– Bret StephensMain Street: What's Good for GM Could Be Good for America
– William McGurn


Georgia Acted in Self-Defense
– Mikheil SaakashviliAIG Needs a New Deal
– Maurice R. GreenbergGovernors Against State Bailouts
– Rick Perry and Mark Sanford- Refused to permit EU monitors unrestricted access to these conflict areas after the fighting ended, while engaging in the brutal ethnic cleansing of Georgians?

These are the questions that need to be answered. The fact that none can be answered in Russia's favor underscores the grave risks of returning to business as usual. Russia sees Georgia as a test. If the international response is not firm, Moscow will make other moves to redraw the region's map by intimidation or force.

Responding firmly to the Putin-Medvedev government implies neither the isolation nor the abandonment of Russia; it can be achieved in tandem with continuing engagement of, and trade with, Russia. But it does require holding Russia to account. Moscow must honor its sovereign commitments and fully withdraw its troops to pre-August positions. It must allow unrestricted EU monitoring, and accede to the international consensus that these territories are Georgia. Such steps are not bellicose; they are simply the necessary course to contain an imperial regime.

We all hope that Russia soon decides to join the international community as a full, cooperative partner. This would be the greatest contribution to Georgia's stability. In the interim, we should make sure that we do not sacrifice democracies like Georgia that are trying to make this critical part of the world more stable, secure and free.

Mr. Saakashvili is president of Georgia.

26077  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: December 02, 2008, 12:29:46 PM
Great scathingly funny rant from Fred Thompson in the clip at on the Meltdown and how to fix it.
26078  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: December 02, 2008, 12:15:58 PM
For purposes of self-justification, Azam Amir Kasab, the only terrorist taken alive in last week's Mumbai massacre, offered that the murder of Jews in the city's Chabad House was undertaken to avenge Israeli atrocities on Palestinians. Two other terrorists cited instances of anti-Muslim Hindu violence as the answer to the question, "Why are you doing this to us?" before mowing down 14 unarmed people at the Oberoi Hotel. And if dead terrorists could talk, we would surely hear Abu Ghraib mentioned as among their reasons for singling out U.S. and British hostages.
David KleinOne suspects the terrorists spent far too much time listening to the BBC World Service.

Let's hasten to add that by no means should the BBC alone be singled out. When it comes to terrorists and their grievances, nearly all the Western media have provided them with a rich diet on which to feed.

In the spring of 2005, Newsweek ran with a thinly sourced item about the Quran being flushed down a Guantanamo toilet. Result: At least 15 people were killed in Afghan riots.

Newsweek later retracted the story, which was the right thing to do but also, in its way, exceptional. Compare that to the refusal of French reporter Charles Enderlin and his station, France 2, to retract or even express doubt about his September 2000 report on Mohammed al-Durrah, the 12-year-old Palestinian boy allegedly killed by Israeli soldiers during an exchange of gunfire in the Gaza Strip -- an exchange Mr. Enderlin did not witness.

In an exhaustive piece in the June 2003 issue of the Atlantic, James Fallows observed that the evidence that the boy could not have been shot by an Israeli bullet is overwhelming, while the evidence that the entire incident was staged is, at the very least, impressive. In France, the story has been the subject of various lawsuits. In Israel, however, and throughout the Muslim world, Durrah became the poster child for a five-year intifada that took several thousand lives.

Maybe Durrah was somewhere in the minds of the Mumbai killers. If not, there was no shortage of other Israeli "atrocities" for them to choose from, mostly fictitious or trumped up and all endlessly cited in Western media reports: the "siege" of Gaza; the 2002 Jenin "massacre"; the 1982 massacres (by Lebanese Phalangists) in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut; the execution of Egyptian POWs in 1967.

All these fables have real-world consequences, and not only for Israelis. In July 2006, an American named Naveed Afzal Haq ambled into the offices of the Seattle Jewish Federation and shot six people, killing one. One of the survivors testified that Mr. Haq "stated that he was a Muslim, [and] this was his personal statement against Jews and the Bush administration for giving money to Jews, and for us Jews for giving money to Israel, about Hezbollah, the war in Iraq." Wherever did he get those ideas?

As it turns out, often from terrorist suspects themselves, offering their testimonials of Israeli or U.S. malevolence to a credulous Western media. In the Quran-in-the-toilet imbroglio, for instance, the Nation's Ari Berman filed a piece titled "Newsweek Was Right," which cited accounts by former Guantanamo detainees of how their captors abused the Holy Book. Unmentioned in any of this were the instructions contained in al Qaeda's "Manchester Document," obtained by British police in 2000, that told followers to "complain of mistreatment while in prison" and "insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them by State Security."

Or consider the tale of Ali Shalal Qaissi, the subject of a New York Times story in March 2006. Mr. Qaissi, founder of the Association of Victims of American Occupation Prisons, claimed to be the black-hooded man standing on a box, attached to wires, ghoulishly photographed by the Abu Ghraib jailers. The Times thought enough of his story to put it on page one, until it turned out he wasn't the man. A March 18, 2006, "Editor's Note" tells us something about how these stories make it to print:

"The Times did not adequately research Mr. Qaissi's insistence that he was the man in the photograph. Mr. Qaissi's account had already been broadcast and printed by other outlets, including PBS and Vanity Fair, without challenge. Lawyers for former prisoners at Abu Ghraib vouched for him. Human rights workers seemed to support his account."

Of course, it's always possible to fall for a well-told lie. But it's worth wondering why a media that treats nearly every word uttered by the U.S., British or Israeli governments as inherently suspect has proved so consistently credulous when it comes to every dubious or defamatory claim made against those governments. Or, for that matter, why the media has been so intent on magnifying genuine scandals (like Abu Ghraib) to the point that they become the moral equivalent of 9/11. Some caution is in order: Terrorists, of all people, might actually believe what they read in the papers.
26079  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DLO 3 on: December 02, 2008, 12:09:14 PM
I should have a rough edit of DLO 3 by Thursday.
26080  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: December 02, 2008, 12:00:14 PM
Don't hire whom you can't fire cheesy

Barack Obama's choice of Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of State is either a political master stroke, or a classic illustration of the signature self-confidence that will come back to haunt him. We're inclined toward the latter view, but then Mr. Obama is the one who has to live with her -- and her husband.

APThe President-elect's political calculation seems clear enough: Better to have the Clinton machine as allies than as critics on the outside of his Administration. His early choices are loaded with Clintonians of various stripes, from John Podesta to run his transition team, Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff, Eric Holder at Justice, and now the former first lady herself as chief diplomat.

This is startling for a candidate who explicitly promised Democrats in the primaries that he offered an escape from the Clinton political method. But perhaps Mr. Obama figures any disillusion will be minor and that this will unite the Democratic Party behind him. Much as retaining Robert Gates at the Pentagon may mute attacks from some Republicans, the choice of Mrs. Clinton will help to insulate Mr. Obama from attacks by fellow Democrats. He also disarms the Clinton campaign and fund-raising machinery for any potential challenge in 2012.

These political calculations must be predominant, because Mrs. Clinton brings no special policy expertise to the job. Her best attribute may be her undeniable work ethic. She has focused on foreign policy in her Senate committee assignments, but without much notable influence on policy or events. Her criticism of the Bush foreign policy has echoed the conventional view that the Administration wasn't diligent enough in trying to talk to the Iranians, the North Koreans and other hard cases. In other words, Mrs. Clinton is likely to pick right up where Condoleezza Rice and Nick Burns left off trying to negotiate with these enemies in the second Bush term.

It's also strange if Mr. Obama is trying to invoke the Clinton Presidency as a foreign-policy golden age. We recall it mostly as an era of illusory peace as problems festered with too little U.S. attention. Al Qaeda was left unchecked, Saddam Hussein banished U.N. inspectors and exploited Oil for Food, North Korea embarked on a secret nuclear program, Russia's post-Cold War spring faded, and Pakistan's A.Q. Khan spread nuclear-bomb technology around the world.

Mr. Obama's biggest gamble is associating his Presidency with the Clinton political circus. At least as Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton will have a specific role, as opposed to the ill-defined mandate of a Vice President. (Speaking of the Veep-elect, with Mr. Gates and the Clintons around, what's left for Joe Biden to do? State was the job he's long wanted, and he must be dying inside trying to abide by Team Obama's gag order.)

Flashback: Clinton's Foreign Funders
The Riady Connection – 07/21/00Mr. Gore's Scandal – 03/03/00The Obstruction of Justice Department? – 09/30/99Clinton's Johnny – 04/06/99But that still leaves Bill Clinton and his gift both of irrepressible gab and for inevitable controversy. His post-Presidency has been more or less a vast fund-raising operation -- for himself, his library and legacy, and his charitable causes. Mr. Obama said yesterday that Mr. Clinton has agreed to disclose the 200,000 or so donors to his foundation, and what a list it is likely to be. Look for Arab sheikhs, Latin American monopolists and assorted dubious characters.

The potential for blatant conflicts of interest with Mrs. Clinton's new role is great, and in appointing her Mr. Obama seems to be betting that the disclosure will diminish the problem. Given the Clinton history with the Riadys of Indonesia, Johnny Chung, the Lippo Group and Arkansas compadre Thomas "Mack" McLarty's business travels through the Americas, we hope the President-elect knows what he's getting into. The Senate has an obligation to inspect and make public the Clinton global fund-raising machine check by check, with names, dates and precise amounts.

In today's Opinion Journal


Travels With HillaryMumbai and ObamaMore Immigration Losers


Global View: Media Narratives Feed Terrorist Fantasies
– Bret StephensMain Street: What's Good for GM Could Be Good for America
– William McGurn


Georgia Acted in Self-Defense
– Mikheil SaakashviliAIG Needs a New Deal
– Maurice R. GreenbergGovernors Against State Bailouts
– Rick Perry and Mark SanfordIn choosing Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama is also hiring someone he can't easily fire. This is usually a mistake, as President Bush learned with Colin Powell. The ability to let an adviser take the blame for a policy blunder is crucial to protecting Presidential credibility. But if Mr. Obama tries to let Mrs. Clinton go, he will be taking on the entire Clinton entourage -- not just Bill, but Carville, Begala, Ickes, Blumenthal, McAuliffe and so on. That same chorus will work to burnish her reputation via media leaks at the expense of her colleagues -- and the President -- when there is a mistake to explain.

Perhaps Mr. Obama will prove to be crafty enough to manage all of this and the other egos he is assembling. One good sign is that his choice as his National Security Adviser, former Marine General James Jones, is a commanding enough presence to mediate bureaucratic disputes. Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice never adequately did that in their first term.

On the other hand, the transition spin that Mr. Obama's Cabinet choices are inspired by Abraham Lincoln's "Team of Rivals" also suggest more than a little hubris. Honest Abe had to deal with jealous advisers and treacherous generals to win the Civil War. We're not sure even that would be adequate preparation for the raucous, uncontrollable political entitlement that has always driven the Clintons.

President-elect Barack Obama said yesterday that Eric Holder, his nominee for attorney general, "has the combination of toughness and independence" needed for the job.

The key questions here are "toughness" about what and "independence" from whom?

Certainly Mr. Holder was tough during his time as No. 2 official in the Clinton Justice Department. He overrode the recommendations of career prosecutors and consistently carried out Attorney General Janet Reno's "see no evil "approach to the burgeoning Clinton scandals, whether they involved illegal Asian fundraising during the 1996 campaign or Al Gore's "no controlling legal authority" meeting at the Buddhist temple in Los Angeles. In every case, Ms. Reno and her department declined to appoint independent counsels to investigate matters.

As for "independence," Mr. Holder didn't exercise much in the last hours of the Clinton White House, when he was caught up in the pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich, who had been convicted of oil trading with the radical Islamic regime in Iran. Pressing for a pardon for Mr. Rich was his lawyer, Jack Quinn, a former White House counsel.

After the pardon was granted, it became clear that Mr. Rich didn't even qualify. Under Justice Department guidelines, pardons are supposed to be requested no sooner than five years after the completion of a sentence in a criminal case. As a fugitive, Mr. Rich wasn't eligible since he didn't serve his sentence, but the prosecutors in his case were never consulted about the pardon decision.

Mr. Holder later testified that he told White House counsel Beth Nolan the day before the pardon was issued that he was "neutral, leaning toward favorable" on the matter. The Associated Press also discovered that "to make matters worse, Holder had asked Quinn for his help in becoming attorney general in the event then-Vice President Al Gore won the 2000 election."

Mr. Holder told Congress that with hindsight he wouldn't have supported the pardon, saying he never learned the details of the case amid the flurry of last-minute pardons issued by the White House. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen suggests the pardon episode tells us Mr. Holder "could not say no to power. The Rich pardon request had power written all over it." This is "independence"?

Critics of the pardon spanned party lines, including not only Clinton confidant Lanny Davis but Rep. Henry Waxman, then ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, who called the pardon an end-run around the judicial process. In the press, it was widely noted that Mr. Rich's former wife, Denise, has contributed $450,000 to Mr. Clinton's presidential library, $1.1 million to the Democratic Party and at least $109,000 to Hillary Clinton's Senate candidacy.

All in all, Mr. Holder seems an odd choice to bring "real change" and the new ethical tone that President-elect Obama promised during the campaign. Here's hoping Senators don't give the charming but slippery Mr. Holder a pass during his confirmation hearings.

-- John Fund

26081  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pakistan' on: December 02, 2008, 11:56:39 AM
Despite demands from India in the wake of the Nov. 26 militant attacks on Mumbai, Pakistan is unlikely to be able to shift troops around to please New Delhi (or Washington, for that matter). Islamabad’s military capacity was already extremely constrained before the attacks and has only become more limited.

Pakistani daily The News reported Dec. 1 that Pakistan’s military is monitoring the border with India closely and has not detected any mobilization of Indian troops in the wake of the Nov. 26 attacks in Mumbai. Meanwhile, Press Trust of India quoted an Indian army official saying no orders for mobilization have been given, and the Indian External Affairs Ministry rebutted television reports that said the Indian-Pakistani cease-fire was being suspended.

As tensions mount between India and Pakistan over the Mumbai attacks — in which at least some of the attackers apparently arrived by boat from Karachi — the possibility has loomed of increased troop deployments along the border shared by the two South Asian rivals. Meanwhile, an assertive New Delhi, with little choice but to react strongly to the attacks, appears likely to demand increased Pakistani operations in Kashmir to control militancy there, while the incoming U.S. administration will be placing even more demands on Islamabad in the war against jihadists along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

Pakistan, however, is in a military bind. It is already stretched thin and does not have the resources to fulfill its core mission while also taking on other operations to placate India and the United States — meaning New Delhi and Washington are likely to be disappointed.

Before the attacks in Mumbai, the Pakistani military was already overwhelmed with four major operational demands, none of which has gone away:

Defend the border with India, being prepared for possible conventional Indian military aggression.
Combat the home-grown Taliban insurgency raging across the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the Pashtun districts of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).
Combat a much lower-intensity — but nonetheless very real — mounting insurgency in the southwestern province of Baluchistan.
Provide heightened military security in Islamabad and other major urban centers in order to defend against an uptick in radical Islamist suicide bombings domestically.
(Further compounding things, ethnic clashes and rioting broke out in Karachi on Nov. 28, with scores of people being killed on a daily basis. Though the army itself has not yet been called in — paramilitary units are currently attempting to rein in the situation — Karachi-based V Corps is closely monitoring the potential need for military force.)

Strategically, defending the border with India is the military’s paramount objective because it represents the most direct existential threat. Pakistan’s 550,000-strong force is only half the size of the active Indian army, and New Delhi also fields technologically superior hardware, from the latest Russian T-90 main battle tanks to the modern Su-30MKI “Flanker” fighter. As such, Pakistan is very hesitant to pull away military units from this mission. (Islamabad has committed resources to the jihadist fight along the western border only under immense U.S. pressure. Currently centered around Swat in the NWFP, this mission has been complicated as U.S. airstrikes by unmanned aerial vehicles have inched ever deeper into Pakistani territory.)

(Click to enlarge map)
Looking at the Indian border, Pakistan is most vulnerable in the open lowlands of Punjab. Not only does this region offer little in the way of terrain features that would impede the movement of large mechanized formations, there is little distance at this point between the Indian border and the Pakistani heartland — where most of the population resides along with Pakistan’s core industrial and agricultural sectors. The more barren terrain of the southern border along Sindh province is also vulnerable, but it is also more distant from the core population areas that Pakistan needs to defend. The mountainous Kashmir region, while it is the most disputed area of the border, is also extremely difficult terrain that favors the defense.

With almost no strategic depth to insulate its core from any potential Indian attack, Pakistan maintains six of its nine Corps formations in Punjab. This includes offensive “Strike” Corps (I and II) designed to make pre-emptive thrusts into Indian territory in the event of war in an attempt to acquire breathing room and leverage for subsequent negotiations. At times of increasing tension with India, the overarching military imperative for Islamabad becomes the conventional reinforcement of these six corps. This would have to come at the expense of other missions such as those that Washington and New Delhi would like to see. Indeed, Pakistan already suggested as much when it told commanders in Afghanistan that it would have to withdraw forces from the western theater in the event of a crisis with India.

But Pakistan’s problems run deeper than its military’s myriad and conflicting responsibilities. The civilian government is weak at an extremely challenging point in the country’s history — when an undercurrent of radical Islamist leanings is on the rise and the country’s intelligence service, the ISI, is infiltrated by both jihadist and Taliban elements. Even if it had more freedom of action, the military could hope to do little more than keep a lid on these deepening crises. If the Pakistani army was unable to muster the resources for the demands being placed on it before the Mumbai attacks, it is unlikely to be able to meet the demands of a hostile India and a new U.S. administration.
26082  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO, Biden, and Pelosi better have good food testers, , , on: December 02, 2008, 09:09:49 AM
Barack Obama's choice of Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of State is either a political master stroke, or a classic illustration of the signature self-confidence that will come back to haunt him. We're inclined toward the latter view, but then Mr. Obama is the one who has to live with her -- and her husband.

APThe President-elect's political calculation seems clear enough: Better to have the Clinton machine as allies than as critics on the outside of his Administration. His early choices are loaded with Clintonians of various stripes, from John Podesta to run his transition team, Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff, Eric Holder at Justice, and now the former first lady herself as chief diplomat.

This is startling for a candidate who explicitly promised Democrats in the primaries that he offered an escape from the Clinton political method. But perhaps Mr. Obama figures any disillusion will be minor and that this will unite the Democratic Party behind him. Much as retaining Robert Gates at the Pentagon may mute attacks from some Republicans, the choice of Mrs. Clinton will help to insulate Mr. Obama from attacks by fellow Democrats. He also disarms the Clinton campaign and fund-raising machinery for any potential challenge in 2012.

These political calculations must be predominant, because Mrs. Clinton brings no special policy expertise to the job. Her best attribute may be her undeniable work ethic. She has focused on foreign policy in her Senate committee assignments, but without much notable influence on policy or events. Her criticism of the Bush foreign policy has echoed the conventional view that the Administration wasn't diligent enough in trying to talk to the Iranians, the North Koreans and other hard cases. In other words, Mrs. Clinton is likely to pick right up where Condoleezza Rice and Nick Burns left off trying to negotiate with these enemies in the second Bush term.

It's also strange if Mr. Obama is trying to invoke the Clinton Presidency as a foreign-policy golden age. We recall it mostly as an era of illusory peace as problems festered with too little U.S. attention. Al Qaeda was left unchecked, Saddam Hussein banished U.N. inspectors and exploited Oil for Food, North Korea embarked on a secret nuclear program, Russia's post-Cold War spring faded, and Pakistan's A.Q. Khan spread nuclear-bomb technology around the world.

Mr. Obama's biggest gamble is associating his Presidency with the Clinton political circus. At least as Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton will have a specific role, as opposed to the ill-defined mandate of a Vice President. (Speaking of the Veep-elect, with Mr. Gates and the Clintons around, what's left for Joe Biden to do? State was the job he's long wanted, and he must be dying inside trying to abide by Team Obama's gag order.)

Flashback: Clinton's Foreign Funders
The Riady Connection – 07/21/00Mr. Gore's Scandal – 03/03/00The Obstruction of Justice Department? – 09/30/99Clinton's Johnny – 04/06/99But that still leaves Bill Clinton and his gift both of irrepressible gab and for inevitable controversy. His post-Presidency has been more or less a vast fund-raising operation -- for himself, his library and legacy, and his charitable causes. Mr. Obama said yesterday that Mr. Clinton has agreed to disclose the 200,000 or so donors to his foundation, and what a list it is likely to be. Look for Arab sheikhs, Latin American monopolists and assorted dubious characters.

The potential for blatant conflicts of interest with Mrs. Clinton's new role is great, and in appointing her Mr. Obama seems to be betting that the disclosure will diminish the problem. Given the Clinton history with the Riadys of Indonesia, Johnny Chung, the Lippo Group and Arkansas compadre Thomas "Mack" McLarty's business travels through the Americas, we hope the President-elect knows what he's getting into. The Senate has an obligation to inspect and make public the Clinton global fund-raising machine check by check, with names, dates and precise amounts.

In today's Opinion Journal


Travels With HillaryMumbai and ObamaMore Immigration Losers


Global View: Media Narratives Feed Terrorist Fantasies
– Bret StephensMain Street: What's Good for GM Could Be Good for America
– William McGurn


Georgia Acted in Self-Defense
– Mikheil SaakashviliAIG Needs a New Deal
– Maurice R. GreenbergGovernors Against State Bailouts
– Rick Perry and Mark SanfordIn choosing Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama is also hiring someone he can't easily fire. This is usually a mistake, as President Bush learned with Colin Powell. The ability to let an adviser take the blame for a policy blunder is crucial to protecting Presidential credibility. But if Mr. Obama tries to let Mrs. Clinton go, he will be taking on the entire Clinton entourage -- not just Bill, but Carville, Begala, Ickes, Blumenthal, McAuliffe and so on. That same chorus will work to burnish her reputation via media leaks at the expense of her colleagues -- and the President -- when there is a mistake to explain.

Perhaps Mr. Obama will prove to be crafty enough to manage all of this and the other egos he is assembling. One good sign is that his choice as his National Security Adviser, former Marine General James Jones, is a commanding enough presence to mediate bureaucratic disputes. Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice never adequately did that in their first term.

On the other hand, the transition spin that Mr. Obama's Cabinet choices are inspired by Abraham Lincoln's "Team of Rivals" also suggest more than a little hubris. Honest Abe had to deal with jealous advisers and treacherous generals to win the Civil War. We're not sure even that would be adequate preparation for the raucous, uncontrollable political entitlement that has always driven the Clintons.
26083  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: December 02, 2008, 08:59:58 AM
Speak of the devil , , ,

Panel warns biological attack likely by 2013

By PAMELA HESS, Associated Press Writer Pamela Hess, Associated Press Writer 31 mins ago

WASHINGTON – The United States can expect a terrorist attack using nuclear or more likely biological weapons before 2013, reports a bipartisan commission in a study being briefed Tuesday to Vice President-elect Joe Biden. It suggests the Obama administration bolster efforts to counter and prepare for germ warfare by terrorists.

"Our margin of safety is shrinking, not growing," states the report, obtained by The Associated Press. It is scheduled to be publicly released Wednesday.

The commission is also encouraging the new White House to appoint one official on the National Security Council to exclusively coordinate U.S. intelligence and foreign policy on combating the spread of nuclear and biological weapons.

The report of the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, led by former Sens. Bob Graham of Florida and Jim Talent of Missouri, acknowledges that terrorist groups still lack the needed scientific and technical ability to make weapons out of pathogens or nuclear bombs. But it warns that gap can be easily overcome, if terrorists find scientists willing to share or sell their know-how.

"The United States should be less concerned that terrorists will become biologists and far more concerned that biologists will become terrorists," the report states.

The commission believes biological weapons are more likely to be obtained and used before nuclear or radioactive weapons because nuclear facilities are more carefully guarded. Civilian laboratories with potentially dangerous pathogens abound, however, and could easily be compromised.

"The biological threat is greater than the nuclear; the acquisition of deadly pathogens, and their weaponization and dissemination in aerosol form, would entail fewer technical hurdles than the theft or production of weapons-grade uranium or plutonium and its assembly into an improvised nuclear device," states the report.

It notes that the U.S. government's counterproliferation activities have been geared toward preventing nuclear terrorism. The commission recommends the prevention of biological terrorism be made a higher priority.

Study chairman Graham said anthrax remains the most likely biological weapon. However, he told the AP that contagious diseases — like the flu strain that killed 40 million at the beginning of the 20th century — are looming threats. That virus has been recreated in scientific labs, and there remains no inoculation to protect against it if is stolen and released.
Graham said the threat of a terrorist attack using nuclear or biological weapons is growing "not because we have not done positive things but because adversaries are moving at an even faster pace to increase their access" to those materials.

He noted last week's rampage by a small group of gunmen in Mumbai.
"If those people had had access to a biological or nuclear weapon they would have multiplied by orders of magnitude the deaths they could have inflicted," he said.

Al-Qaida remains the only terrorist group judged to be actively intent on conducting a nuclear attack against the United States, the report notes. It is not yet capable of building such a weapon and has yet to obtain one. But that could change if a nuclear weapons engineer or scientist were recruited to al-Qaida's cause, the report warns.

The report says the potential nexus of terrorism, nuclear and biological weapons is especially acute in Pakistan.

"Were one to map terrorism and weapons of mass destruction today, all roads would intersect in Pakistan," the report states.

In fact, commission members were forced to cancel their trip to Pakistan this fall. The Islamabad Marriott Hotel that commission members were to stay in was blown up by terrorist bombs just hours before they were to check in.

"We think time is not our ally. The (United States) needs to move with a sense of urgency," Graham said.
26084  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: What does Kali Tudo 2 have in store for us?? on: December 02, 2008, 08:53:26 AM
I should have a rough edit of KT-2 in my hands by Thursday.  Night Owl thinks we can finish it up in short order, and ably abetted by pressure from my wife, there is RUMOR that we might have it out in time for Christmas.  I will know better after I see the edit on Thursday.
26085  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: What would you like to see from DBMA? on: December 02, 2008, 08:49:12 AM
Woof All:

I am following this thread with great interest.  Thank you one and all for the suggestions so far! Keep 'em coming!

Guro Crafty
26086  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Catchin up on: December 02, 2008, 08:46:23 AM
"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." --Thomas Jefferson

"I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground that 'all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people.' To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of  Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, not longer susceptible of any definition."

—Thomas Jefferson (Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank, 15 February 1791)


"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

"Go on, then, in your generous enterprise with gratitude to Heaven for past success, and confidence of it in the future. For my own part, I ask no greater blessing than to share with you the common danger and common glory ... that these American States may never cease to be free and independent." --Samuel Adams


Pilgrims Regress
By Mark Alexander

In the aftermath of a momentous election, an election sure to change the course of our nation, it is tempting to despair. On this Thanksgiving, though, let us resist that powerful temptation and instead take stock of the blessings of liberty.

President Ronald Reagan often cited the Pilgrims who celebrated the first Thanksgiving as our forebears who charted the path of American freedom. He made frequent reference to John Winthrop's "shining city upon a hill."

As Reagan explained, "The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we'd call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free."

Who were these "freedom men," and how did they eventually blaze the path of true liberty? They were Calvinist Protestants who rejected the institutional Church of England, believing that worshipping God must originate freely in the individual soul, without coercion. Suffering persecution and imprisonment in England for their beliefs, a group of these separatists fled to Holland in 1608. There, they found spiritual liberty in the midst of a disjointed economy that failed to provide adequate compensation for their labors, and a dissolute, degraded, corrupt culture that tempted their children to stray from faith.

Determined to protect their families from such spiritual and cultural dangers, the Pilgrims left Plymouth, England, on 6 September 1620, sailing for a new world that offered the promise of both civil and religious liberty. After an arduous journey, they dropped anchor off the coast of what is now Massachusetts.

On 11 December 1620, prior to disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they signed the Mayflower Compact, America's original document of civil government. It was the first to introduce self-government, and the foundation on which the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were built. Governor William Bradford described the 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. Under harrowing conditions, the colonists persisted through prayer and hard work, reaping a bountiful summer harvest. But their material prosperity soon evaporated, for the Pilgrims had erred in acquiescing to their European investors' demands for a financial arrangement holding all crops and property in common, in order to return an agreed-to half to their overseas backers.

By 1623, however, Plymouth Colony was near failure as a result of famine, blight and drought, as well as excessive taxation and what amounted to forced collectivization.

In desperation, the Pilgrims set a day for prayers of repentance; God answered, delivering a gentle rainfall by evening. Bradford's diary recounts how the colonists repented in action: "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."

Property ownership and families freely laboring on their own behalf replaced the "common store," but only after their ill-advised experiment with communism nearly wiped out the entire settlement.

In their simple representative government, born out of dedication to religious freedom, the Pilgrims replaced the rule of men -- with its arbitrary justice administered capriciously at the whim of rulers who favor some at the expense of others -- with the rule of law, treating individuals equally. Yet even these "freedom men" strayed under straits. So could we, if we revert to materialistic government reliance instead of grateful obedience to God. Sadly, we're a long way down that path already.

Closing his farewell address in 1989, Ronald Reagan asked, "And how stands the city on this winter night?" Contemplating our blessings of liberty this Thanksgiving, nearly 20 years after President Reagan left office and 20 generations past the Pilgrims' experience, how stands the city on our watch?


"It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors."

–George Washington, Thanksgiving Proclamation, 3 October 1789


"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever."

--Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 18, 1781


"Human nature itself is evermore an advocate for liberty. There is also in human nature a resentment of injury, and indignation against wrong. A love of truth and a veneration of virtue. These amiable passions, are the "latent spark"... If the people are capable of understanding, seeing and feeling the differences between true and false, right and wrong, virtue and vice, to what better principle can the friends of mankind apply than to the sense of this difference?"

--John Adams, the Novanglus, 1775

"Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread." --Thomas Jefferson

"The good Education of Youth has been esteemed by wise Men in all Ages, as the surest Foundation of the Happiness both of private Families and of Common-wealths. Almost all Governments have therefore made it a principal Object of their Attention, to establish and endow with proper Revenues, such Seminaries of Learning, as might supply the succeeding Age with Men qualified to serve the Publick with Honour to themselves, and to their Country."

--Benjamin Franklin, Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania, 1749

26087  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Teach your children well on: December 02, 2008, 01:35:50 AM
26088  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: December 02, 2008, 12:58:35 AM
Grateful for 5 days in the mountains around Idyllwild with my family.  Grateful to be back.  Grateful for a great chiropractor, Dr. Michele Bosten of Santa Monica (11th and Wilshire).
26089  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: December 02, 2008, 12:56:54 AM
Umm , , , no grin

Dogs, Candidate Dog Brothers, and Dog Brothers are all members of the Tribe a.k.a. the Pack.  The Tribe has many clans e.g. I head up the Hermosa Beach Clan, Lonely Dog the Swiss Clan, Dogzilla the Hawaii Clan, Pappy Dog the No Ho (North Hollywood) Clan, etc, but many members of the Tribe do not belong to any clan at all.

"Tribe" and "Pack" are used interchangeably.

No money is involved with the Dog Brothers Tribe.

I am the Founder and Head Instructor of Dog Brothers Martial Arts.  DBMA does NOT = The Dog Brothers.  The DBMA Association (DBMAA) consists of people who have applied and been accepted by me into the DBMAA.   We have quite a few members of the Tribe in the DBMAA, but most members are not members of the Tribe-- though quite a few of them are working on it smiley

Does this help?

Crafty Dog

Guro Crafty
26090  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: December 01, 2008, 04:57:52 PM
Haven't read the article but what Mig says here resonates with my sense of this issue.

I would add a point that is very important to me:  As  I remember this issue, the Dems often posture militantly on this subject but quite often it is advocated from a "Flee the world and hide and home" emotional center.

Regardless, the facts are the facts-- this IS something for which we need to dial up. 
26091  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strategic on: December 01, 2008, 04:31:51 PM
Strategic Motivations for the Mumbai Attack
December 1, 2008

By George Friedman

Related Special Topic Page
Militant Attacks In Mumbai and Their Consequences
Last Wednesday evening, a group of Islamist operatives carried out a complex terror operation in the Indian city of Mumbai. The attack was not complex because of the weapons used or its size, but in the apparent training, multiple methods of approaching the city and excellent operational security and discipline in the final phases of the operation, when the last remaining attackers held out in the Taj Mahal hotel for several days. The operational goal of the attack clearly was to cause as many casualties as possible, particularly among Jews and well-to-do guests of five-star hotels. But attacks on various other targets, from railroad stations to hospitals, indicate that the more general purpose was to spread terror in a major Indian city.

While it is not clear precisely who carried out the Mumbai attack, two separate units apparently were involved. One group, possibly consisting of Indian Muslims, was established in Mumbai ahead of the attacks. The second group appears to have just arrived. It traveled via ship from Karachi, Pakistan, later hijacked a small Indian vessel to get past Indian coastal patrols, and ultimately landed near Mumbai.

Extensive preparations apparently had been made, including surveillance of the targets. So while the precise number of attackers remains unclear, the attack clearly was well-planned and well-executed.

Evidence and logic suggest that radical Pakistani Islamists carried out the attack. These groups have a highly complex and deliberately amorphous structure. Rather than being centrally controlled, ad hoc teams are created with links to one or more groups. Conceivably, they might have lacked links to any group, but this is hard to believe. Too much planning and training were involved in this attack for it to have been conceived by a bunch of guys in a garage. While precisely which radical Pakistani Islamist group or groups were involved is unknown, the Mumbai attack appears to have originated in Pakistan. It could have been linked to al Qaeda prime or its various franchises and/or to Kashmiri insurgents.

More important than the question of the exact group that carried out the attack, however, is the attackers’ strategic end. There is a tendency to regard terror attacks as ends in themselves, carried out simply for the sake of spreading terror. In the highly politicized atmosphere of Pakistan’s radical Islamist factions, however, terror frequently has a more sophisticated and strategic purpose. Whoever invested the time and took the risk in organizing this attack had a reason to do so. Let’s work backward to that reason by examining the logical outcomes following this attack.

An End to New Delhi’s Restraint
The most striking aspect of the Mumbai attack is the challenge it presents to the Indian government — a challenge almost impossible for New Delhi to ignore. A December 2001 Islamist attack on the Indian parliament triggered an intense confrontation between India and Pakistan. Since then, New Delhi has not responded in a dramatic fashion to numerous Islamist attacks against India that were traceable to Pakistan. The Mumbai attack, by contrast, aimed to force a response from New Delhi by being so grievous that any Indian government showing only a muted reaction to it would fall.

India’s restrained response to Islamist attacks (even those originating in Pakistan) in recent years has come about because New Delhi has understood that, for a host of reasons, Islamabad has been unable to control radical Pakistani Islamist groups. India did not want war with Pakistan; it felt it had more important issues to deal with. New Delhi therefore accepted Islamabad’s assurances that Pakistan would do its best to curb terror attacks, and after suitable posturing, allowed tensions originating from Islamist attacks to pass.

This time, however, the attackers struck in such a way that New Delhi couldn’t allow the incident to pass. As one might expect, public opinion in India is shifting from stunned to furious. India’s Congress party-led government is politically weak and nearing the end of its life span. It lacks the political power to ignore the attack, even if it were inclined to do so. If it ignored the attack, it would fall, and a more intensely nationalist government would take its place. It is therefore very difficult to imagine circumstances under which the Indians could respond to this attack in the same manner they have to recent Islamist attacks.

What the Indians actually will do is not clear. In 2001-2002, New Delhi responded to the attack on the Indian parliament by moving forces close to the Pakistani border and the Line of Control that separates Indian- and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, engaging in artillery duels along the front, and bringing its nuclear forces to a high level of alert. The Pakistanis made a similar response. Whether India ever actually intended to attack Pakistan remains unclear, but either way, New Delhi created an intense crisis in Pakistan.

The U.S. and the Indo-Pakistani Crisis
The United States used this crisis for its own ends. Having just completed the first phase of its campaign in Afghanistan, Washington was intensely pressuring Pakistan’s then-Musharraf government to expand cooperation with the United States; purge its intelligence organization, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), of radical Islamists; and crack down on al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Afghan-Pakistani border region. Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had been reluctant to cooperate with Washington, as doing so inevitably would spark a massive domestic backlash against his government.

The crisis with India produced an opening for the United States. Eager to get India to stand down from the crisis, the Pakistanis looked to the Americans to mediate. And the price for U.S. mediation was increased cooperation from Pakistan with the United States. The Indians, not eager for war, backed down from the crisis after guarantees that Islamabad would impose stronger controls on Islamist groups in Kashmir.

In 2001-2002, the Indo-Pakistani crisis played into American hands. In 2008, the new Indo-Pakistani crisis might play differently. The United States recently has demanded increased Pakistani cooperation along the Afghan border. Meanwhile, President-elect Barack Obama has stated his intention to focus on Afghanistan and pressure the Pakistanis.

Therefore, one of Islamabad’s first responses to the new Indo-Pakistani crisis was to announce that if the Indians increased their forces along Pakistan’s eastern border, Pakistan would be forced to withdraw 100,000 troops from its western border with Afghanistan. In other words, threats from India would cause Pakistan to dramatically reduce its cooperation with the United States in the Afghan war. The Indian foreign minister is flying to the United States to meet with Obama; obviously, this matter will be discussed among others.

We expect the United States to pressure India not to create a crisis, in order to avoid this outcome. As we have said, the problem is that it is unclear whether politically the Indians can afford restraint. At the very least, New Delhi must demand that the Pakistani government take steps to make the ISI and Pakistan’s other internal security apparatus more effective. Even if the Indians concede that there was no ISI involvement in the attack, they will argue that the ISI is incapable of stopping such attacks. They will demand a purge and reform of the ISI as a sign of Pakistani commitment. Barring that, New Delhi will move troops to the Indo-Pakistani frontier to intimidate Pakistan and placate Indian public opinion.

Dilemmas for Islamabad, New Delhi and Washington
At that point, Islamabad will have a serious problem. The Pakistani government is even weaker than the Indian government. Pakistan’s civilian regime does not control the Pakistani military, and therefore does not control the ISI. The civilians can’t decide to transform Pakistani security, and the military is not inclined to make this transformation. (Pakistan’s military has had ample opportunity to do so if it wished.)

Pakistan faces the challenge, just one among many, that its civilian and even military leadership lack the ability to reach deep into the ISI and security services to transform them. In some ways, these agencies operate under their own rules. Add to this the reality that the ISI and security forces — even if they are acting more assertively, as Islamabad claims — are demonstrably incapable of controlling radical Islamists in Pakistan. If they were capable, the attack on Mumbai would have been thwarted in Pakistan. The simple reality is that in Pakistan’s case, the will to make this transformation does not seem to be present, and even if it were, the ability to suppress terror attacks isn’t there.

The United States might well want to limit New Delhi’s response. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is on her way to India to discuss just this. But the politics of India’s situation make it unlikely that the Indians can do anything more than listen. It is more than simply a political issue for New Delhi; the Indians have no reason to believe that the Mumbai operation was one of a kind. Further operations like the Mumbai attack might well be planned. Unless the Pakistanis shift their posture inside Pakistan, India has no way of knowing whether other such attacks can be stymied. The Indians will be sympathetic to Washington’s plight in Afghanistan and the need to keep Pakistani troops at the Afghan border. But New Delhi will need something that the Americans — and in fact the Pakistanis — can’t deliver: a guarantee that there will be no more attacks like this one.

The Indian government cannot chance inaction. It probably would fall if it did. Moreover, in the event of inactivity and another attack, Indian public opinion probably will swing to an uncontrollable extreme. If an attack takes place but India has moved toward crisis posture with Pakistan, at least no one can argue that the Indian government remained passive in the face of threats to national security. Therefore, India is likely to refuse American requests for restraint.

It is possible that New Delhi will make a radical proposal to Rice, however. Given that the Pakistani government is incapable of exercising control in its own country, and given that Pakistan now represents a threat to both U.S. and Indian national security, the Indians might suggest a joint operation with the Americans against Pakistan.

What that joint operation might entail is uncertain, but regardless, this is something that Rice would reject out of hand and that Obama would reject in January 2009. Pakistan has a huge population and nuclear weapons, and the last thing Bush or Obama wants is to practice nation-building in Pakistan. The Indians, of course, will anticipate this response. The truth is that New Delhi itself does not want to engage deep in Pakistan to strike at militant training camps and other Islamist sites. That would be a nightmare. But if Rice shows up with a request for Indian restraint and no concrete proposal — or willingness to entertain a proposal — for solving the Pakistani problem, India will be able to refuse on the grounds that the Americans are asking India to absorb a risk (more Mumbai-style attacks) without the United States’ willingness to share in the risk.

Setting the Stage for a New Indo-Pakistani Confrontation
That will set the stage for another Indo-Pakistani confrontation. India will push forces forward all along the Indo-Pakistani frontier, move its nuclear forces to an alert level, begin shelling Pakistan, and perhaps — given the seriousness of the situation — attack short distances into Pakistan and even carry out airstrikes deep in Pakistan. India will demand greater transparency for New Delhi in Pakistani intelligence operations. The Indians will not want to occupy Pakistan; they will want to occupy Pakistan’s security apparatus.

Naturally, the Pakistanis will refuse that. There is no way they can give India, their main adversary, insight into Pakistani intelligence operations. But without that access, India has no reason to trust Pakistan. This will leave the Indians in an odd position: They will be in a near-war posture, but will have made no demands of Pakistan that Islamabad can reasonably deliver and that would benefit India. In one sense, India will be gesturing. In another sense, India will be trapped by making a gesture on which Pakistan cannot deliver. The situation thus could get out of hand.

In the meantime, the Pakistanis certainly will withdraw forces from western Pakistan and deploy them in eastern Pakistan. That will mean that one leg of the Petraeus and Obama plans would collapse. Washington’s expectation of greater Pakistani cooperation along the Afghan border will disappear along with the troops. This will free the Taliban from whatever limits the Pakistani army had placed on it. The Taliban’s ability to fight would increase, while the motivation for any of the Taliban to enter talks — as Afghan President Hamid Karzai has suggested — would decline. U.S. forces, already stretched to the limit, would face an increasingly difficult situation, while pressure on al Qaeda in the tribal areas would decrease.

Now, step back and consider the situation the Mumbai attackers have created. First, the Indian government faces an internal political crisis driving it toward a confrontation it didn’t plan on. Second, the minimum Pakistani response to a renewed Indo-Pakistani crisis will be withdrawing forces from western Pakistan, thereby strengthening the Taliban and securing al Qaeda. Third, sufficient pressure on Pakistan’s civilian government could cause it to collapse, opening the door to a military-Islamist government — or it could see Pakistan collapse into chaos, giving Islamists security in various regions and an opportunity to reshape Pakistan. Finally, the United States’ situation in Afghanistan has now become enormously more complex.

By staging an attack the Indian government can’t ignore, the Mumbai attackers have set in motion an existential crisis for Pakistan. The reality of Pakistan cannot be transformed, trapped as the country is between the United States and India. Almost every evolution from this point forward benefits Islamists. Strategically, the attack on Mumbai was a precise blow struck to achieve uncertain but favorable political outcomes for the Islamists.

Rice’s trip to India now becomes the crucial next step. She wants Indian restraint. She does not want the western Pakistani border to collapse. But she cannot guarantee what India must have: assurance of no further terror attacks on India originating in Pakistan. Without that, India must do something. No Indian government could survive without some kind of action. So it is up to Rice, in one of her last acts as secretary of state, to come up with a miraculous solution to head off a final, catastrophic crisis for the Bush administration — and a defining first crisis for the new Obama administration. Former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once said that the enemy gets a vote. The Islamists cast their ballot in Mumbai.
26092  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Mexico's big strides on econ policy on: December 01, 2008, 10:42:56 AM
Mexico Has Made Big Strides on Economic Policy Calderón was smart enough to hedge against falling oil prices.

Much has been written about the "cultural" divide between Norte Americanos and Latinos. But with the burst of the asset bubble, we've learned that politicians, north and south, react similarly in the face of economic crisis.

This commonality occurred to me over breakfast in New York last week with Mexico's minister of finance, Agustin Carstens. The University of Chicago-trained economist was explaining the rationale behind President Felipe Calderón's "stimulus" package. I kept thinking about President-elect Barack Obama's promised further spending spree on this side of the border. The Mexican version is not nearly as ambitious but the concept is the same. "He's taking my money in order to spend it better than I can," a Mexican friend shot back sardonically when I asked him his views on Mr. Calderón's plan. We're all keynesianos now.

The Keynesian theory, calling for government spending as a way to boost aggregate demand during economic downturns, has repeatedly failed to deliver on its promises. But it endures because of its political expediency. It is the best excuse ever invented to expand government. It is both frightening and discouraging to hear politicians offering more Keynes at a time when what is most needed is a way of restoring the appetite of the private sector for risk.

Yet the news from Mexico is not all bad. As I listened to Mr. Carstens discuss his government's economic options, what also came through is how different Mexico is from 15 years ago. These changes may keep the country from backsliding under the strain of the current financial panic.

To be sure, Mr. Carstens believes in the state's capacity to stimulate economic activity. "If you can get the economy going and you have the instruments to do it, it is important that you use them," he told me. Then he added a historic footnote: "But we have limits to how much we can borrow and finance prudently." He went on: "Thinking that we are going to run a fiscal deficit without thinking of how we will finance it? That would be irresponsible."

For a country that has repeatedly gotten itself into fiscal and monetary trouble by running up big budget deficits, this is a tectonic shift in thinking. It is true that Mr. Carstens's predecessor, Francisco Gil-Diaz, also kept a tight grip on the purse strings during the government of Vicente Fox. But for a Mexican finance minister to be worried about excessive borrowing during a global economic slump of the magnitude now expected is a meaningful departure from tradition.

It isn't the only new-found prudence in Mexico. Twenty five years ago when oil prices skyrocketed, Latin oil producers spent the windfall as fast as it flowed in -- and more besides. Now Mexico takes a different approach. Earlier this year when Maya crude -- Mexico's main blend for export -- was topping $120 per barrel, Mr. Carstens instructed his team to begin using derivatives to lock in a floor price of $70 per barrel. "Prices had risen to such a high level that the only direction left was down," he explained to reporters in Mexico City last month.

In today's Opinion Journal


America's Other Auto IndustryMessing With Malpractice Reform


Information Age: Let's Move Intelligence Out of the 1970s
– L. Gordon CrovitzThe Americas: Mexico Has Made Big Strides on Economic Policy
– Mary Anastasia O'Grady


Lessons From 40 Years of Education 'Reform'
– Louis V. Gerstner Jr.Deepak Blames America
– Dorothy RabinowitzEgypt's Jew Haters Deserve Ostracism in the West
– Amr BargisiWith this hedge, Mexico has covered its net oil exports for 2009 at $70 while Maya crude is now trading around $45. What is important here is not that Mr. Carstens's hedge worked but that this time an oil boom didn't turn into a government binge.

Yet another big change in Mexico is on the trade front. By now most economists recognize that closing domestic markets in hard times only makes things worse. But candidate Obama's campaign vow to force protectionist changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement demonstrates the constant temptation for politicians to protect special interest groups from foreign competition.

Yet while Mr. Obama and Congress are talking up more trade barriers, Mr. Calderón's government is going the other way. At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru, last month, the Mexican president warned that changes to Nafta would damage both sides of the border. Mexico has numerous free trade agreements but Mr. Carstens told me at breakfast that working to lower tariffs on imports from non-FTA countries is a Calderón priority.

With these advances Mexico may muddle through this recession. But there are also grave risks to its strategy. The much-touted reform of state-owned oil monopoly Pemex is too timid to boost output in the near term. Elsewhere Mr. Carstens says he is working toward eventual tax cuts and simplification of the tax code but adds that now is not the time to go there. The trouble is that as he waits for the right time, the private sector could decide that the cost of doing business in Mexico is just too high. That will leave Mexico more dependent on Mr. Carstens's strategy of government spending out of the treasury and state-owned "development" banks. That would be a throwback to an unrewarding past.

Write to O'

26093  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / More citizens enforcing the law themselves on: December 01, 2008, 10:37:51 AM

Standing their ground: More citizens enforcing the law themselves
By Marc Perrusquia (Contact), Memphis Commercial Appeal
Monday, December 1, 2008

The gun's muzzle pushed hard into the back of his neck.  Desperate, Mitch Morelli's mind raced.  My wife. My son. My family. 
Still, the voice grew louder.

"Give me all your money!''

The stocky teenager pressed the pistol in harder, taking Morelli's wallet.

 "I'm killing you right now! You shouldn't have looked at me, man! Go ahead. Say goodbye. Say goodbye. I'm blowing you away right here.''

But when the teen suddenly fled, Morelli's fear morphed to rage. Pursuing his attacker and dodging bullets in a high-speed car chase -- the action caught on a 911 tape -- Morelli was able to jot down a tag number that helped police track down the assailant.

"It was straight out of Clint Eastwood-type stuff,'' Morelli said later. "But I knew if I did nothing, nothing would happen.''

It turned out to be quite a coup for public safety: The youth, police allege, had terrorized city schools in a series of handgun incidents and had robbed another family in a home invasion.  At the same time, Morelli's actions pose troubling questions about just how far citizens should go in protecting themselves from crime.

Like Bernard Goetz, the "Subway Vigilante'' who shot four would-be robbers on a New York City train in 1984, a new generation of citizens who are retaliating against thugs and attackers are finding acceptance, even celebrity, among a public frustrated with crime. 
Just this fall, a Tipton County homeowner made news when he exchanged gunfire on the street with fleeing burglars. A Rosemark man gained wide attention, too when he held two intruders at gunpoint.

"I've always felt if you're in fear of your life you can use your gun,'' said Steve Rutter, who pulled a 9mm handgun on intruders who'd tried to drive off with his 16-foot flatbed trailer. Rutter's action led police to bust up a large theft ring.

Yet along with the glow of these crime victims' stories comes a share of tragedy. Memphian Jacob Evans shot and killed an assailant who, after robbing him once, had returned to rob again. It was even worse for grocery manager John Russell, who was fatally shot when he tried to defend his store against a pair of robbers.

Critics fear some citizens have become too bold amid law changes that have greatly broadened the right of self-defense. Nationally, a spate of "Stand Your Ground'' laws, including one passed in Tennessee last year, are eliminating old standards requiring that a crime victim retreat first before using deadly force.

Longstanding Tennessee laws already had armed citizens with great power to defend themselves, including the right to make a citizen arrest or to pursue a criminal as Morelli did, said Shelby County Asst. Dist. Atty. Gen. Tom Henderson.

Danger, including potential injury and death, as well as the potential for criminal and civil litigation when a citizen steps over the line, should deter most people from engaging in gun battles or chasing down a suspect, he said.

"It's certainly not anything we want to see catch on,'' Henderson said.

Mitch Morelli had completed his morning rounds selling construction equipment at home-building sites April 9 when he pulled his Toyota pickup into a shaded spot near Audubon Park's golf clubhouse.

He was most of the way through a three-piece box of Jack Pirtle's chicken when a small silver car pulled into the spot immediately to his left.

Of all the abuse he suffered during the five- to 10-minute robbery -- the gun held to his neck, the barrel alternately in his face, the death threats -- Morelli said he was set off by a threat against his young son. Morelli had pleaded with the robber, telling him he had a toddler at home. Morelli recalled a cold response: The teen vowed to come to Morelli's house and shoot his son, too.

"That's when the fear turned to rage,'' he said.

Morelli didn't have a gun -- but he did have his wits.

As the teen and a female accomplice drove off, Morelli gave chase.

And so it happened that Mitchell Lee Morelli, a 46-year-old equipment salesman, became a symbol of a frustrated public fed up with crime. Morelli chased the teen for miles through East Memphis and into Orange Mound.

Like a scene out of a Hollywood thriller, tires screeched and bullets flew -- the drama caught on a 911 tape.

"He just shot at me!'' Morelli tells a police supervisor on the tape of the 911 call he made from his cell phone during the chase.

"Sir,'' the police supervisor responds, "if you catch up with him and he shoots you, we can't be responsible.''

Police tried everything -- reasoning, orders, threats -- to get Morelli to stop.

Yet Morelli was determined to get close enough to jot down the fleeing car's tag number.

"I'm going to go down swinging,'' he said later, describing his mindset that day last spring. "I wanted to have the last say so.''

Technically, police can't complain about Morelli's actions: Running the tag he supplied, they arrested Marquetta Hawk, 22, charged as an accessory after the fact, and gang member Devyn Knowles, now 20, who is charged with aggravated robbery and assault and is being held in the Shelby County Jail on a $200,000 bond.

Prosecutor Henderson said Morelli likely was within his rights to pursue his robbers. For starters, an old Tennessee law gives citizens power to make citizen arrests. "You're entitled to arrest that person if you can catch up with him,'' Henderson said.

But some feel some citizens are going too far.

"The real question is do we respect the criminal justice system or do we go back to a vigilante, every-man-for- himself situation?'' asked Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Helmke is critical of the proliferation of "Stand Your Ground'' laws that typically eliminate requirements that crime victims retreat before using deadly force to protect a car, home or business.

According to the National Rifle Association, 22 states have Stand Your Ground laws, including Tennessee, where last year lawmakers extended the use of deadly force to citizens who are attacked in their cars.

Critics assail the laws, pointing to reckless shootings such as one in Florida in 2006 in which a man who shot a neighbor during an argument over garbage avoided prosecution by asserting Stand Your Ground protections.

"All you have to do is tell the cop, 'I felt threatened,' and they can't even bring a charge against you,'' Helmke said.

In Tennessee, a citizen can't use deadly force simply to protect property but only when "you are in reasonable fear of your life,'' Henderson said.

And while citizen pursuit of a suspect may be legal, Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin said it's a dicey and inadvisable venture.

Morelli couldn't say what would have happened had he had a gun that day, yet he dismissed criticism of his action.

"They don't know what the taste of metal in your mouth is,'' he said.
26094  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Information Warfare matters on: December 01, 2008, 10:28:02 AM
Last week's terrorist assault in Mumbai brings into focus one of the biggest challenges facing President-elect Barack Obama and U.S. allies: How to defeat the ideology that underpins the global jihadist insurgency and unifies its diverse adherents?

The U.S. government needs to resurrect the nonviolent practice of "political warfare" and create an agency to manage it. The Bush administration started this process by providing more resources for public diplomacy and appointing prominent officials to oversee the task. But efforts to explain America's values and ideals to Muslims need to be supplemented with measures that confront directly the jihadist ideology.

Mr. Obama's administration could use as a model the British Political Warfare Executive, which rallied support for the Allied cause behind enemy lines during World War II, or the U.S. Information Agency, which helped network opponents of communism and undermine Moscow's intellectual appeal during the Cold War.

A civilian should sit atop this new organization. His or her mission should be to undermine the jihadist ideology that underpins terrorism. We believe this mission is so important that the person should answer directly to the President, just as military combatant commanders do.

U.S. government-supported broadcasting, such as the Voice of America, should be adapted to this mission. But the U.S. government should also provide resources to moderates and networks of reformers abroad. The agency should not rely solely on exporting information and commentary generated in Washington, which has less credibility with Muslims in the broader Middle East and Europe who will shape the future of Islam abroad.

The agency should also be charged with peacefully empowering dissidents within repressive nations, by providing them with information and facts to aid their struggle. The U.S. did this in the 1980s by aiding Solidarity with communications equipment, organizational support and other resources in then-communist Poland, in partnership with the Vatican and AFL-CIO. What ended with strikes, protests and finally elections began as a small indigenous network armed with information -- political warfare at its finest.

Mr. Obama may be tempted to create such an agency under the auspices of the State Department, but political warfare is not a core competency of Foggy Bottom or allied foreign ministries. Diplomats specialize in communicating with other nation-states, and are often ill at ease and ill-equipped to work with those who may upset relations with other governments.

A significant part of free societies' success in modern warfare has taken place off the physical battlefield. In World War II, the U.S. fought a war not only against blitzkrieg, buzz bombs and kamikazes, but against fascist ideologies. Likewise during the Cold War, America sought to undermine the ideology of its Soviet Bloc adversaries, realizing that was the shield of legitimacy without which they could not thrive.

Political warfare does not preclude diplomacy, just as U.S. efforts to undermine Soviet communism did not preclude successful negotiations with Moscow. But it's time to recognize -- as American governments have in the past -- the importance of fighting and winning the battle of ideas.

Mr. Whiton is Deputy Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues at the U.S. State Department. Mr. Harrison is Chief of Staff to the Counselor of the State Department. The views expressed are their own.

26095  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michael Yon: The End of the War in Iraq on: December 01, 2008, 10:18:01 AM
The Art

of the

End of War


Published: 01 December 2008
Zabul Province, Afghanistan

(Travel from Iraq to Afghanistan, and needless bureaucratic delays, nearly killed this dispatch.  Though many photos were made during the recent journey in Iraq, none are included here.  Bureaucracy unrelated to our combat forces continues to steal frontline photos and words from your screen. We seem to have two Armies: One Army of true soldiers moving mountains to win wars, while the other Army does everything possible to break the machine while playing soldier.  Though I am with excellent U.S. forces in the hinterlands of Afghanistan, this dispatch describes my final “mission” outstanding soldiers in Iraq.)

Baghdad, Iraq

On the morning of 14 November, soldiers from 2-4 Alpha of the 10th Mountain Division set off on a mission in south Baghdad, and I tagged along.  About half the soldiers are combat veterans from Afghanistan and/or Iraq.  For instance, SSG Zacchary Foust, the 1st Squad Leader of 3rd Platoon, said he had done two combat tours in Afghanistan, and this was his second go in Iraq, making this his fourth combat deployment.  Working with multi-tour veterans makes my job much easier, especially when they have worked in more than one war.  The words and expectations from the veterans are more measured and matured, even when the soldiers might be young.  Combat veterans also tend to be much more relaxed with correspondents.  Most of them seem to view correspondents as if we are zoo animals, since most soldiers, even if they have done multiple tours and seen lots of al Qaeda and Taliban up close, have never seen a correspondent up close.  I almost expect them to ask, “What do you eat?  Do you live in trees or on the ground?”  The one constant with service members over here is politeness and professionalism.  Combat soldiers are among the most courteous people I have ever met.

SSG Foust explained that after the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, his group spent long periods patrolling in the Sinjar mountains in Nineveh where many Yezidis live.  He said there was no fighting with Yezidis and that the Yezidis were so friendly that they continuously invited the soldiers to eat with them in the villages.  Foust said that though the soldiers brought along Army food, they didn’t really need it because the Yezidis kept them stuffed, and the Yezidi food was much better than army food.  Foust said the Yezidis offered the best tobacco he’s ever tasted, because they grow their own.  It wasn’t until later that Foust learned the Yezidis are supposed to be “devil worshippers,” which seemed a bit perplexing because they seemed like normal people to him.

I said to SSG Foust what I tell our pilots who fly near Yezidis: If your aircraft goes down near Yezidis, you might be sipping tea with your laundry being folded before search and rescue can get to you.  And they’ll cook lunch for the rescue team.  This is why a lot of Americans who know Yezidis are angered when al Qaeda attacks Yezidi people.  Many personal bonds have been formed during this tragic war.  We are no longer enemies with the Iraqis, and there is no good reason why Iraq and America should ever fight again.

And so we rolled out of FOB Falcon in those giant MRAPs.  It seems that most of the seriously experienced combat soldiers do not like MRAPs.  Yes, MRAPs are great for the main roads and convoys, but they are too big and too cumbersome, and they get stuck in mud that you could peddle a bicycle through.  MRAPs are not offensive vehicles.  There is no doubt MRAPs can save lives – they’re like giant vaults on wheels, though I did see the wreckage of one in Afghanistan that had been nearly obliterated.  When we’re on the main roads, I love MRAPs, but we will never win wars or major battles with those things, or by staying on main roads.  MRAPs need good roads.  Good roads are bomb magnets.  In Afghanistan, many of the Taliban scoot around on motorcycles, and there is no doubt that mobility is a weapon.  We should melt most of the MRAPs down and forge that metal into killing machines like Strykers.  The combat vets from 10th Mountain that day were also not fans of MRAPs.  And though it’s easy to find MRAP-lovers, the hardcore fighters seem to want more mobility than steel.

We rumbled into various neighborhoods in south Baghdad.  Nothing was going on.  No gun battles.  No mushroom clouds from car bombs or IEDs.  I wore the headset and the incessant radio alerts about units fighting here or there was completely absent.  In the old days, while the Iraq war was hot, there was constant chatter about fighting, car bombs, snipers, name it.  Today, there were no alerts at all.  There was more chatter about the Kenyan sitting in front of me who had been in the Army for a couple years.  The other soldiers said he should get automatic citizenship for volunteering to fight, and we all agreed.  The soldier came straight from Kenya into our Army.  Did not even pass GO, and suddenly was in Iraq.

On another day, I had lunch with a soldier from Ghana.  He told me that Ghana has the same constitution as the United States, and that he was proud to join the American Army.   He had become an American, to which I said, “Welcome aboard.”  He had one of those Ghana accents and was black as coal.  By the time he finished telling me about his homeland, I was sold on wanting to travel there someday.

“Are Americans welcome?”  I asked.

“Sure!”  He seemed to think the question was humorous for its simplicity about Ghana.  He said that American soldiers in Ghana are treated like kings, and if anyone gives a hassle, a U.S. soldier has only to show his military ID, and the clouds all disappear.  The soldier from Ghana told me that when he goes home on leave, the police actually salute him because he joined the American army.  I was incredulous, and asked for reassurance, “Really?!  They salute you?”

“Yes,” he said, with that funny Ghana accent.  “They Salute American soldiers in Ghana!  They love America and many Americans retire there.”

Sounded like Kurdish Iraq, where the kids ask soldiers for autographs, and even ask interpreters for autographs if they work for American soldiers.

The Baghdad mission with 10th Mountain Division soldiers was uneventful, other than the soldiers being proud to say they haven’t had to fire a single shot in combat this year.  One soldier wanted to buy a roasted chicken, but the chicken stand no longer takes dollars, only Iraqi dinars.  Several stores we stopped at now only take dinar, though I bought a sim chip for my cell phone with dollars.  Later in the day, a soldier with a pocket full of dinar bought kebabs for the squad and we devoured the whole lot.

The SOI, or Sons of Iraq, which many people used to derisively call “America’s Militias,” were out there and their behavior was polite.  The SOI were even getting along with the National Police (NP) who were with us; just a year ago the SOI and NP used to kill each other.  In another encouraging sign, the Iraqi government has started paying the SOI, and their pay is nearly as much as that of Iraqi soldiers.  For SOI who want jobs that do not include carrying a gun, there are job training programs that I wanted to cover, but there was no time.

I normally don’t ask British or American soldiers about politics, but I had been asking many American soldiers what they think of Obama vs. McCain, and I came away with no fixed answer.  Many wanted McCain, while it seems just as many wanted Obama, though none of the soldiers seem so emotional about it like the folks at home, or in other countries.  But across the board, as expected, whether soldiers like Obama or not, nobody wanted to see Iraq get neglected, and I was with them on that.  The biggest endorsement for Obama came from al Qaeda’s Vice President, the bitter hate-man and racist Dr. Ayman Muhammad Rabaie al-Zawahiri, when he declared war on Obama.  Al Qaeda obviously is afraid of Obama, just like they are afraid of Bush who has been chasing al Qaeda like rats since 9/11.  I’ve never enjoyed a day in the Iraq war, or in Afghanistan, but there have been many days of quiet satisfaction when al Qaeda or Taliban were brought to final justice before my eyes.  It would be something to see Zawahiri or Bin Laden, captured like rats, shaved of hair and beards, put before the world to face the families of the thousands of Americans, Iraqis, Afghans, and so many others in Pakistan, Africa, and Europe, that they have murdered.  Nobody suffers more at the hands of al Qaeda than Muslims.

Al Qaeda was handed a vicious defeat in Iraq, and it can be said with great certainty that most Iraqis hate al Qaeda even more than Americans do.  Al Qaeda can continue to murder Iraqis for now, but al Qaeda will be hard pressed to ever plant their flag in another Iraqi city.  The Iraqi army and police have become far too strong and organized, and the Iraqis will eventually strangle al Qaeda to death.

I still find people in America, Nepal, Thailand, UAE and other countries who believe al Qaeda propaganda that they attack us because we support Israel or occupy Muslim holy land.  This would not explain the decapitated Iraqi children I photographed when locals told me al Qaeda did it.  This would not explain the Iraqi children al Qaeda has blown up, or the Afghans and Pakistanis killed by al Qaeda, or the Africans who are murdered by the same cult of serial killers.  Did those decapitated children in the Iraqi village even know where America or Israel are?  What about the Shia mosques they destroyed in Iraq?  Were they occupying Saudi Arabia or supporting Israel?

The streets that I was this day patrolling with Iraqi National Police and soldiers from 10th Mountain Division, were once controlled by al Qaeda.  Al Qaeda had intentionally stoked the fires of civil war in Iraq.

What’s next?  If you are in this same neighborhood next week (now last week), please go to the art Iraqi Art show that people were talking about:

Rashid Leaders Plan, Prepare for Art and Culture Show

Friday, 21 November 2008
By Capt. Brett Walker
4th Infantry Division 

The Doura Art and Culture Show is tentatively scheduled to be held Nov. 26 in the Doura community of southern Baghdad. Approximately 100 pieces of art are expected to be on display at the show. The theme of the event is

FOB FALCON — For the first time in a generation, an art and culture show will be hosted in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad, Nov. 26.

Twenty renowned Iraqi artists, many of them professors at the Baghdad Art Institute, have agreed to participate in the Doura Art and Culture Show, “New Life, New Culture.”

The event’s organizer, Faruq Fu’ad Rafiq Hamdani of Baghdad’s Mansoor district, said he expects approximately 100 pieces of art including paintings, photographs, sculptures and conceptual art pieces to be displayed at the event.

“Southern Baghdad is not thought to be supportive of the arts,” explained Faruq, regarding the theme he personally selected. “Southern Baghdad has a reputation for violence, but this show will change that perception. This show will introduce a new way for the people of Iraq to live.”

The show will be hosted by Ali S. Al Khalid, the dean of the Doura Technical College, on the campus of his academic institution.

“This event will bring much prestige to the Rashid district, and it will provide an excellent educational opportunity for my students,” Ali said.

The Doura Technical College is located in the Rashid district of Baghdad, the dominant district of southern Baghdad consisting of 1.6 million residents.

Hashem Mahmood, the district’s elected deputy chairman, said he will preside over the opening ceremony of the show in recognition of his ardent support of the event.

“I have wanted to see something like this in Rashid for a long time,” Hashem said. “To my knowledge it has not been done in my lifetime.”

The Rashid District Council Chairman Yaqoub Yosif, said he also plans to support the event and plans to attend the opening day.

“I think this is a very good idea,” Yaqoub said. “Everyone I have spoken to about it likes it, too.”

Faruq, the event’s coordinator, as well as a contributing artist, said that the event began as a humble art show with eight contributing artists, but has since attracted the interest of many other members of the Baghdad cultural community, many of whom volunteered to participate for free.

The art show became an art and culture show with the addition of 12 more artists, a three-part orchestra, instructional lectures on art technique, local food purveyors and gifts for any adolescent attendants, he explained.

“This event constitutes an important contribution to redefining the way the world perceives Iraq,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Watson, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, attached to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad.

The battalion provided funding for the inaugural event, added Watson, who hails from San Diego.

“It is about creating a new cultural identity beyond that of violence and war,” Watson said. “It is about instilling pride in the Iraqi people for their own rich, cultural heritage.”

The “Warriors” Battalion of the 4th Inf. Regt., deployed to the Rashid district in support of MND-B and Operation Iraqi Freedom, is part of the 4th BCT, 10th Mountain Division, stationed at Fort Polk, La.

A civil society is one that admires artists, and has time to admire and critique and argue about their creations.  An advanced society is one that can generate and support an Army that promotes the art of a former enemy, to find peace. The Iraqi artists have the opportunity and social obligation to promote healing.

Yes, the war is over.  And it will be a great day when the last American division leaves Iraq, and Americans and Iraqis never fire another shot at each other, and we can honestly call each other “friends.”

26096  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: December 01, 2008, 09:23:11 AM
Full DBs.  Your time will come C-KD  smiley
26097  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: December 01, 2008, 04:55:30 AM
Thank you for that Rachel.

Here's this from the NYTimes today (Monday)

Chabad Movement Vows to Continue Work of Couple Killed in Attack
Published: November 30, 2008

For many Jews, they are homes away from home: Chabad Houses, welcoming outposts in foreign lands or across the United States, places to drop in to celebrate Hanukkah, Passover or weekly Shabbat dinners.

Almost always, the Chabad Houses are run by young couples, emissaries of the Chabad-Lubavitch denomination, a Hasidic faith with its headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, whose adherents believe that secular Jews ought to become more observant.

Two of those emissaries were killed when their Chabad House was among the buildings attacked by terrorists in Mumbai last week. In their deaths, the couple, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, and his wife Rivka, 28, drew a spotlight on the Chabad faith (the terms Chabad and Lubavitch are used interchangeably) — and to the emissaries’ growing presence around the world.

The number of Chabad Houses has mushroomed in the last decade, and now more than 4,000 husband-and-wife couples run them in 73 countries.

In 2003, the Holtzbergs, newly married, opened the first Chabad House in Mumbai.

Chabad leaders are quick to stress that the emissaries, called shluchim in Hebrew, are not missionaries. They do not try to convert non-Jews to Judaism. Instead, their mandate is to act as “lamplighters” by reaching out to secular Jews, often stopping people on city sidewalks and asking, “Are you Jewish?,” and trying to persuade them to deepen their faith.

The Chabad faith emerged 250 years in Russia ago as a branch of Hasidism. In 1951, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson became the spiritual leader, or rebbe, and under him, outreach bloomed.

“They pioneered Jewish outreach, and they developed techniques now used by other Jewish denominations,” said Sue Fishkoff, a journalist and author of the book “The Rebbe’s Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch.”

The Holtzbergs moved to Mumbai in August 2003. Mr. Holtzberg, who was born in Israel and had moved to Brooklyn in his teens, had nursed a dream of becoming a shliach emissary. He spent time as a student in the Chabad House in Bangkok, and helped open a house in south Thailand, according to Rabbi Yosef Kantor, who oversees new branches in Southeast Asia.

The region sees great numbers of Israeli and Jewish travelers, and the Chabad movement wanted to expand its presence there. The Holtzbergs, it was decided, were perfect for the Mumbai job. As a student, Mr. Holtzberg was noted as a nimble thinker and, according to Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, a spokesman for the Chabad movement in New York, for advancing Talmudic concepts. Mrs. Holtzberg seemed at once endlessly calm and energetic, said people who knew her.

Jewish groups are often wary when a Chabad House opens in a new city, but the Holtzbergs forged harmonious relationships in Mumbai, Ms. Fishkoff said. The couple’s home in the Colaba neighborhood, a popular destination for tourists, quickly became a favorite among Jewish backpackers, who were attracted to its welcoming air, Jewish art and the shelves lined with row after row of religious books.

“We talked and argued politics, discussed economics, shared our personal stories,” Olga Daniella Bakayeva, a recent guest, wrote in a post on after the Holtzbergs’ deaths were reported.

A week before the terrorists attacked, the 25th annual International Conference of the Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries began in New York. Mr. Holtzberg chose not to attend: his eldest son, who was gravely ill with a congenital disease, was in an Israeli hospital, and Mr. Holtzberg wanted to stay close to home.

On Thursday morning, hours after the terrorist siege began, the Holtzbergs’ Indian nanny managed to escape with the couple’s other child, Moshe, who turned 2 on Saturday. It was not until Saturday night that terrible images from the Chabad House, known as Nariman House, began to trickle out: photos of a blood-soaked floor of a library strewn with red-stained pages of holy books.

Some of the dead, including Mrs. Holtzberg, were found wrapped in prayer shawls. Witnesses speculated that the rabbi had managed to cover the bodies before he was killed.

The Chabad community was seized with horror and shock. They had not been so maliciously singled out in at least 50 years, Mr. Shmotkin said.

“You think about those who were so selfless, they had no other life than spreading love and goodness,” Mr. Shmotkin said. “To have them cut down in this kind of way is really unfathomable.”

Yet within hours after the news broke about the Holtzbergs’ deaths, young Chabad couples from around the world stepped forward, offering to move to Mumbai and continue the movement’s work.

Chabad leaders said the Mumbai house would be certain to reopen.

Isabel Kershner contributed reporting from Jerusalem.

More Articles in World » A version of this article appeared in print on December 1, 2008, on page A11 of the New York edition.
26098  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: December 01, 2008, 04:49:52 AM
Jihad’s True Face
Published: December 1, 2008

Much of the reporting from Mumbai the last few days has been informative, gripping and often moving. Some of the commentary, on the other hand, has been not just uninformative but counterinformative — if that’s a term, and if it’s not, I say it should be.

Consider first an op-ed article in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times by Martha Nussbaum, a well-known professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago. The article was headlined “Terrorism in India has many faces.” But one face that Nussbaum fails to mention specifically is that of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Islamic terror group originating in Pakistan that seems to have been centrally involved in the attack on Mumbai.

This is because Nussbaum’s main concern is not explaining or curbing Islamic terror. Rather, she writes that “if, as now seems likely, last week’s terrible events in Mumbai were the work of Islamic terrorists, that’s more bad news for India’s minority Muslim population.” She deplores past acts of Hindu terror against India’s Muslims. She worries about Muslim youths being rounded up on suspicion of terrorism with little or no evidence. And she notes that this is “an analogue to the current ugly phenomenon of racial profiling in the United States.”

So jihadists kill innocents in Mumbai — and Nussbaum ends up decrying racial profiling here. Is it just that liberal academics are required to include some alleged ugly American phenomenon in everything they write?

Jim Leach is also a professor, at Princeton, but he’s better known as a former moderate Republican congressman from Iowa who supported Barack Obama this year. His contribution over the weekend was to point out on that “the Mumbai catastrophe underscores the importance of vocabulary.” This wouldn’t have been my first thought. But Leach believes it’s very important that we consider the Mumbai attack not as an act of “war” but as an act of “barbarism.”

Why? “The former implies a cause: a national or tribal or ethnic rationale that infuses a sacrificial action with some group’s view of heroism; the latter is an assault on civilized values, everyone’s. ... To the degree barbarism is a part of the human condition, Mumbai must be understood not just as an act related to a particular group but as an outbreak of pent-up irrationality that can occur anywhere, anytime. ... It may be true that the perpetrators viewed themselves as somehow justified in attacking Indians and visiting foreigners, particularly perhaps Americans, British and Israeli nationals. But a response that is the least nationalistic is likely to be the most effective.”

If, as Leach says, “it may be true” the perpetrators viewed themselves as justified in their attacks, doesn’t this mean that they did in fact have a “rationale” that “infused” their action?

But Leach doesn’t want to discuss that rationale — even though it’s not hard to find. Ten minutes of Googling will bring you to a fine article, “The Ideologies of South Asian Jihadi Groups,” from the April 2005 issue of Current Trends in Islamist Ideology. It’s by the respected journalist and diplomat Husain Haqqani, who, as it happens, is now Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States.

Lashkar-e-Taiba, Haqqani explains, is a jihadi group of Wahhabi persuasion, “backed by Saudi money and protected by Pakistani intelligence services.” He notes that “Lashkar-e-Taiba has adopted a maximalist agenda for global jihad.” Indeed, the political arm of the group has conveniently published a pamphlet, “Why Are We Waging Jihad?,” that lays out all kinds of reasons why the United States, Israel and India are “existential enemies of Islam.”

So much for Leach’s notion that the Mumbai terrorists had no “cause” or “rationale.” But Leach’s refusal to see this is in the service of persuading India not to respond in a “nationalistic” way — and of persuading the United States not to see itself primarily as standing with India against our common enemies.

But if terror groups are to be defeated, it is national governments that will have to do so. In nations like India (and the United States), governments will have to call on the patriotism of citizens to fight the terrorists. In a nation like Pakistan, the government will have to be persuaded to deal with those in their midst who are complicit. This can happen if those nations’ citizens decide they don’t want their own country to be dishonored by allegiances with terror groups. Otherwise, other nations may have to act.

Patriotism is an indispensable weapon in the defense of civilization against barbarism. That was brought home over the weekend in an article in The Times of India on Sandeep Unnikrishnan, a major in India’s National Security Guards who died fighting the terrorists at the Taj hotel. The reporter spoke with the young man’s parents as they mourned their son: “His father, dignified in the face of such a personal tragedy, was stoic, saying he was proud of his son who sacrificed his life for the country: ‘He died for the nation.’ ”
26099  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Bios on: December 01, 2008, 03:20:07 AM
A Howl to the Tribe:

If you are a Dog Brother and your picture and bio do not appear here on the website, please feel free to send them in at your convenience and inclination to

26100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: December 01, 2008, 12:37:29 AM
F'g A!  grin

Next time we talk on the phone remind me to tell you the Newark story.
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