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26101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Clarence Thomas on: October 09, 2007, 08:15:24 AM
The Real Clarence Thomas
His fidelity to the Constitution often leads to results liberals like.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas again finds himself in the crosshairs of liberals. After 16 years of diligently avoiding the press, he has written a memoir, "My Grandfather's Son," that describes his life story--from birth into poverty and an upbringing by a grandfather descended from slaves to the tough confirmation battle that brought him to the Supreme Court.

The book honestly and openly denies his former employee Anita Hill's accusations of sexual harassment, which almost derailed his appointment to the nation's highest bench. Liberals now are girding to insinuate that Justice Thomas is so angry about the personal attacks on him during his confirmation hearings that he must be unfit to sit on the bench.

But if Justices Stephen Breyer or Ruth Bader Ginsburg are the apple of liberal groups' eye, does that mean that they are unfit because they must be biased? Liberal attacks on Justice Thomas echo segregation-era hate speech that would be called racist if leveled at any other black.

For years, critics whispered that Justice Thomas was a mere clone of Justice Antonin Scalia, and that he could not think for himself. When speculation ran high that Justice Thomas might rise to chief justice, Sen. Harry Reid called him "an embarrassment" whose "opinions are poorly written." Mr. Reid apparently had not read a Thomas opinion, and his own Senate Web site ended up providing a nice contrast on grammar and writing style with Justice Thomas's fine work. Now, they say, Justice Thomas is so bitter over his ugly treatment at the hands of liberals, he must be unable to impartially judge cases argued by groups like the ACLU, Sen. Joseph Biden or the Yale Law School.

Critics ignore the unique, powerful intellect that Justice Thomas brings to the court. He is the justice most committed to the principle that the Constitution today means what the Framers thought it meant.

At times, this can cause him to lean liberal. He agrees, for example, that the use of thermal imaging technology by police in the street to scan for marijuana in homes violates the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches. He opposes the court's effort to place caps on punitive damages. He has voted to strike down literally thousands of harsher criminal sentences because they were based on facts found by judges rather than juries, as required by the Bill of Rights. He supports the right of anonymous political speech, and wants advertising and other commercial speech to receive the same rights as political speech.

So was it Justice Thomas's anger, or lack of intellect, that made him rule in favor of the rights of criminals, the press and the plaintiffs bar--one of the Democratic Party's largest financial supporters?

No one, of course, would deny that Justice Thomas has strong conservative views on constitutional law. He would reject much of affirmative action, end constitutional protection for abortion, recognize broad executive powers in wartime and allow religious groups more participation in public life. What he brings to the court as no other justice does is a characteristically American skepticism of social engineering plans promoted by elites--whether in the media, academia or well-heeled lobbies in Washington--and a respect for individual self-reliance and individual choice. He writes not to be praised by professors or pundits, but for the American people.
As his memoir shows, Justice Thomas's views were forged in the crucible of a truly authentic American story. This is a black man with a much greater range of personal experience than most of the upper-class liberals who take potshots at him. A man like this on the court is the very definition of the healthy diversity his detractors pretend to support.

In his dissent from the court's approval of the use of race in law-school admissions, he quoted Frederick Douglass: "If the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone!" Justice Thomas observed: "Like Douglass, I believe blacks can achieve in every avenue of American life without the meddling of university administrators."

In a 1995 race case, Justice Thomas explained without cavil why he thought the government's use of race was wrong. Racial quotas and preferences run directly against the promise of the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal. Affirmative action is "racial paternalism" whose "unintended consequences can be as poisonous and pernicious as any other form of discrimination."

Justice Thomas speaks from personal knowledge when he says: "So-called 'benign' discrimination teaches many that because of chronic and apparently immutable handicaps, minorities cannot compete with them without their patronizing indulgence." He argued that "these programs stamp minorities with a badge of inferiority and may cause them to develop dependencies or to adopt an attitude that they are 'entitled' to preferences."

By forswearing the role of coalition builder or swing voter--a position happily occupied by Justice Anthony Kennedy--Justice Thomas has used his opinions to highlight how the latest social theories sometimes hurt those they are said to help. Because he both respects grass-roots democracy and knows more about poverty than most people do, he dissented vigorously from the court's 1999 decision to strike down a local law prohibiting loitering in an effort to reduce inner-city gang activity. "Gangs fill the daily lives of many of our poorest and most vulnerable citizens with a terror that the court does not give sufficient consideration, often relegating them to the status of prisoners in their own homes."

Justice Thomas is an admirer of the work of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, both classical liberals. His firsthand experience of poverty, bad schools and crime has led him to favor bottom-up, decentralized solutions for such problems.

He rejects, for example, the massive, judicially run desegregation decrees that have produced school busing and judicially imposed tax hikes. A student of a segregated school himself, Justice Thomas declares that "it never ceases to amaze me that the courts are so willing to assume that anything that is predominantly black must be inferior."

To Justice Thomas, the national government's command-and-control policies have failed to make the poorest any better off. Rather, they have simply suppressed innovation in solving the nation's problems. He believes that the Constitution allows not just states and cities, but religious groups, to experiment to provide better education. In a 2002 concurrence supporting the use of school vouchers, Justice Thomas again quoted Frederick Douglass: Education "means emancipation. It means light and liberty. It means the uplifting of the soul of man into the glorious light of truth, the light by which men can only be made free." Justice Thomas followed with the sad truth: "Today many of our inner-city public schools deny emancipation to urban minority students."
"While the romanticized ideal of universal public education resonates with the cognoscenti who oppose vouchers," Justice Thomas wrote, "poor urban families just want the best education for their children, who will certainly need it to function in our high-tech and advanced society."

These are not the words of an angry justice, or a political justice, but of a human justice. Justice Thomas's personal story shows him to be all too aware of the imperfections in our society and mindful of the limits of the government's ability to solve them. That kind of understanding and humility, and personal courage in the face of incessant unjustified attack, is what most Americans would want on their Supreme Court.

Mr. Yoo is a professor at the Law School of the University of California at Berkeley, and a former Supreme Court clerk for Justice Thomas
26102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / So be it? on: October 09, 2007, 08:07:38 AM
So Be It?
The dangers of defining "torture" down.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

It all but goes without saying that torture, properly defined and in nearly every circumstance, is wrong. But what do you make of the following statement, from a recent editorial in the Economist: "Dozens of plots may have been foiled and thousands of lives saved as a result of some of the unsavory practices now being employed in the name of fighting terrorism. Dropping such practices in order to preserve freedom may cost many lives. So be it"?

The subject of torture is again in the news thanks to a front-page story last week in the New York Times. It claims that in 2005 the Justice Department issued secret legal memorandums authorizing what the paper calls "severe interrogations," even after the administration had apparently renounced such methods. President Bush responded to the Times's story, as he has previously, by insisting "this government does not torture people." But the editorial writers at the Times were not impressed: "Is this a nation," they asked, "that tortures human beings and then concocts legal sophistries to confuse the world and avoid accountability before American voters?"

Two significant questions arise from this debate. First, what do we really mean by the word "torture"? And second, is the "So be it" standard put forward by the Economist a persuasive one?

The first question is not just a hairsplitting one, although a lot of hair gets split when government lawyers are asked for their opinion. Torture is a word that preserves its moral force only when used precisely and consistently to denote uniquely barbarous acts. "The needle under the fingernail" is one example. Simply to mention it causes most people instinctively to shudder.
By contrast, "slaps to the head," among the examples cited by the Times of the administration's "brutal" methods, doesn't come close to meeting any plausible definition of torture. The other examples--"hours held naked in a frigid [50 degree Fahrenheit] cell; days and nights without sleep while battered by thundering rock music; long periods manacled in stress positions; or the ultimate, waterboarding"--come progressively closer to the line, and perhaps they cross it. But how do we tell?

A useful benchmark was offered by a landmark 1978 decision laid down by the European Court of Human Rights. In Ireland v. the United Kingdom, which dealt with Britain's (extrajudicial) treatment of members of the Irish Republican Army, the court concluded that the following methods did not amount to torture:

"(a) Wall-standing: Forcing the detainees to remain for periods of some hours in a 'stress position,' described by those who underwent it as being 'spreadeagled against the wall, with their fingers put high above the head against the wall, the legs spread apart and the feet back, causing them to stand on their toes with the weight of the body mainly on the fingers.'

"(b) Hooding: Putting a black or navy colored bag over the detainees' heads and, at least initially, keeping it there all the time except during interrogation.

"(c) Subjection to noise: Pending their interrogations, holding the detainees in a room where there was a continuous loud and hissing noise.

"(d) Deprivation of sleep: pending their interrogations, depriving the detainees of sleep.

"(e) Deprivation of food and drink: subjecting the detainees to a reduced diet during their stay at the center and pending interrogations."

Remarkably, the European Court reached this careful judgment despite the fact that the "five techniques were applied in combination, with premeditation and for hours at a stretch" and that some of the detainees sustained "massive" injuries. The court's reasoning wasn't meant to excuse the behavior of British authorities, which it rightly described as "inhuman and degrading." But by maintaining the "distinction between 'torture' and 'inhuman or degrading treatment,' " the court sought to preserve the "special stigma [attached] to deliberate inhuman treatment causing very serious and cruel suffering."

These distinctions are not "legal sophistries," as the Times would have it. They are a juridical necessity to ensure that our definition of torture does not become so diluted as to render its prohibition unenforceable. But the abuse of the word does have its rhetorical uses: As with the militant anti-abortion movement, which believes that every abortion is murder and thus that every abortionist is a "murderer," the Times editorialists and their fellow travelers would characterize anyone who favors so much as touching a hair on 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's head as "pro-torture." This isn't argument. It's moral bullying.

For the record, count me as one who does not object to the interrogation to which KSM was reportedly subjected, including waterboarding. This is not because I take the use of waterboarding lightly (although I have a hard time concluding that a technique, however terrifying, to which CIA officers are willing to subject themselves experimentally can properly be counted as torture). It's because I take the threat posed by KSM seriously.
That makes it difficult for me to subscribe to the "So be it" line of reasoning. Taken seriously, it says that the civilized world would be better off sustaining a nuclear 9/11 than tarnishing its good name, that righteous victimhood is a finer thing than an innocent life saved through morally compromised methods, and that self-preservation is not the most fundamental requirement of democratic life.

In nearly all conflicts, even existential ones, limits should be observed, and it's worth thinking through where exactly the limits lie. But when the moral trade-off comes down to KSM waterboarded in order to extract actionable intelligence, or some mother's child murdered, it's not a tough call. And no amount of inflated, imprecise and tendentious allegations of torture should change that.

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

26103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tortured Arguments on: October 09, 2007, 08:05:06 AM
The Walls Street Journal weighs in:

Tortured Arguments
Giving al Qaeda an interrogation-resistance manual.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

On current course, U.S. warfighting doctrine will be as tame as a church social. Over the weekend, Condi Rice announced that Iraq convoys protected by military contractors will also have State Department minders onboard vehicles equipped with video cameras. Now comes the latest flap over "torture" techniques during terrorist interrogations, well on their way to becoming little more than a friendly chat.

Post-Abu Ghraib, opponents of terrorist interrogations got the Bush Administration to repudiate a 2003 Justice Department memo said to be overbroad. Now critics are up in arms over newly leaked 2005 memos that responded to that earlier criticism by attempting to be more specific.

Given the anti-antiterror mood in Congress, the CIA wanted to know with precision what it can and cannot do with al Qaeda captives, lest its officials find themselves without defense in front of some Congressional committee. So, according to newspaper reports, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel responded by detailing that slapping, hypothermia, sleep deprivation and so-called stress positions are allowed. Are these torture? If so, then we really are at the point where al Qaeda agents will be treated like common felons.

What's really at issue here is whether U.S. officials are going to have even the most basic tools to interrogate America's enemies. Newspaper accounts of the 2005 memos say "waterboarding," or simulated drowning, is also allowed in the memos, which reflects the CIA's view that this is especially effective in breaking hard cases rapidly. Reportedly, this technique was used against al Qaeda masterminds Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zebaydah. Waterboarding, by the way, is also part of interrogation-resistance training for some Americans, to prepare them to face the enemy if captured. If Congress wants to outlaw this technique, it can do so. But it then has an obligation to say what is allowed.
As it stands now, the scolds in Congress and the Beltway press have decided to impose their view that no pressure tactics are ever necessary or justified. But if Congress and the press are going to take over the design of the war on terror, how can they justify walking away from any responsibility to make clear what is permissible?

The notion that the U.S. goes around unnecessarily "torturing" people without any rationale whatsoever is so absurd that it is almost never stated explicitly. But it is equally awkward for the Administration's critics to admit that the "coercive" methods listed in these memos to induce cooperation from al Qaeda operatives may actually work. Former CIA Director George Tenet has said explicitly that they do work and have saved American lives. But rather than face these hard issues directly, the scolds fall back on generalities about our "values."

If Congress doesn't want to wade into the difficult business of approving this pressure technique while forbidding that one, or making clear which methods can and can't be used in combination, then it should understand that the course it is on now will help al Qaeda operatives resist interrogation.

Congress wants the OLC memos made public, but the reason to keep them secret is so enemy combatants can't use them as a resistance manual. If they know what's coming, they can psychologically prepare for it. We know al Qaeda training often involves its own forms of resistance training, and publicly describing the rules offers our enemies a road map for resistance.

Perhaps the worst canard is the assumption that the Administration went looking for some yes-man to issue the OLC memos. The premise of this narrative is that issuing these memos would somehow help the career of acting OLC head Steve Bradbury. This is preposterous. The amply documented way to get ahead in today's Washington is to loudly object to some Bush policy, and then advertise your disagreement in Congressional testimony or in a tell-all book.
Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey has made himself the toast of the town that way. Meanwhile, Mr. Bradbury's predecessor at OLC, Jack Goldsmith, is now at Harvard, basking in applause for attacking his former Administration colleagues in a book. Mr. Bradbury no doubt knew he was dooming his chances of Senate confirmation any time soon. It's just possible he signed the memos because he thought they were the right thing to do under the law and as policy.

The critics of Bush policy want to have it both ways: They want to smear Administration officials with the generalization of "torture" while washing their hands of any responsibility to say what kind of interrogation, if any, they favor. If a Democrat wins the White House in 2008, she may discover that no one in her government will dare sign a memo allowing any kind of aggressive interrogation beyond "Have a nice day."

26104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AQ goes dark on: October 09, 2007, 07:58:12 AM
Enemy Vanishes From Its Web Sites

Staff Reporter of the Sun

WASHINGTON — Al Qaeda's Internet communications system has suddenly gone dark to American intelligence after the leak of Osama bin Laden's September 11 speech inadvertently disclosed the fact that we had penetrated the enemy's system.

The intelligence blunder started with what appeared at the time as an American intelligence victory, namely that the federal government had intercepted, a full four days before it was to be aired, a video of Osama bin Laden's first appearance in three years in a video address marking the sixth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001. On the morning of September 7, the Web site of ABC News posted excerpts from the speech.

But the disclosure from ABC and later other news organizations tipped off Qaeda's internal security division that the organization's Internet communications system, known among American intelligence analysts as Obelisk, was compromised. This network of Web sites serves not only as the distribution system for the videos produced by Al Qaeda's production company, As-Sahab, but also as the equivalent of a corporate intranet, dealing with such mundane matters as expense reporting and clerical memos to mid- and lower-level Qaeda operatives throughout the world.

While intranets are usually based on servers in a discrete physical location, Obelisk is a series of sites all over the Web, often with fake names, in some cases sites that are not even known by their proprietors to have been hacked by Al Qaeda.

One intelligence officer who requested anonymity said in an interview last week that the intelligence community watched in real time the shutdown of the Obelisk system. America's Obelisk watchers even saw the order to shut down the system delivered from Qaeda's internal security to a team of technical workers in Malaysia. That was the last internal message America's intelligence community saw. "We saw the whole thing shut down because of this leak," the official said. "We lost an important keyhole into the enemy."

By Friday evening, one of the key sets of sites in the Obelisk network, the Ekhlaas forum, was back on line. The Ekhlaas forum is a password-protected message board used by Qaeda for recruitment, propaganda dissemination, and as one of the entrance ways into Obelisk for those operatives whose user names are granted permission. Many of the other Obelisk sites are now offline and presumably moved to new secret locations on the World Wide Web.

The founder of a Web site known as, Nick Grace, tracked the shutdown of Qaeda's Obelisk system in real time. "It was both unprecedented and chilling from the perspective of a Web techie. The discipline and coordination to take the entire system down involving multiple Web servers, hundreds of user names and passwords, is an astounding feat, especially that it was done within minutes," Mr. Grace said yesterday.

The head of the SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that monitors Jihadi Web sites and provides information to subscribers, Rita Katz, said she personally provided the video on September 7 to the deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Michael Leiter.

Ms. Katz yesterday said, "We shared a copy of the transcript and the video with the U.S. government, to Michael Leiter, with the request specifically that it was important to keep the subject secret. Then the video was leaked out. An investigation into who downloaded the video from our server indicated that several computers with IP addresses were registered to government agencies."

Yesterday a spokesman for the National Counterterrorism Center, Carl Kropf, denied the accusation that it was responsible for the leak. "That's just absolutely wrong. The allegation and the accusation that we did that is unfounded," he said. The spokesman for the director of national intelligence, Ross Feinstein, yesterday also denied the leak allegation. "The intelligence community and the ODNI senior leadership did not leak this video to the media," he said.

Ms. Katz said, "The government leak damaged our investigation into Al Qaeda's network. Techniques and sources that took years to develop became ineffective. As a result of the leak Al Qaeda changed their methods." Ms. Katz said she also lost potential revenue.

A former counterterrorism official, Roger Cressey, said, "If any of this was leaked for any reasons, especially political, that is just unconscionable." Mr. Cressey added that the work that was lost by burrowing into Qaeda's Internet system was far more valuable than any benefit that was gained by short-circuiting Osama bin Laden's video to the public.

While Al Qaeda still uses human couriers to move its most important messages between senior leaders and what is known as a Hawala network of lenders throughout the world to move interest-free money, more and more of the organization's communication happens in cyber space.

"While the traditional courier based networks can offer security and anonymity, the same can be had on the Internet. It is clear in recent years if you look at their information operations and explosion of Al Qaeda related Web sites and Web activities, the Internet has taken a primary role in their communications both externally and internally," Mr. Grace said.

Source Drudge
Firm Says Administration's Handling of Video Ruined Its Spying Efforts

By Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 9, 2007; A01

A small private intelligence company that monitors Islamic terrorist groups obtained a new Osama bin Laden video ahead of its official release last month, and around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7, it notified the Bush administration of its secret acquisition. It gave two senior officials access on the condition that the officials not reveal they had it until the al-Qaeda release.

Within 20 minutes, a range of intelligence agencies had begun downloading it from the company's Web site. By midafternoon that day, the video and a transcript of its audio track had been leaked from within the Bush administration to cable television news and broadcast worldwide.

The founder of the company, the SITE Intelligence Group, says this premature disclosure tipped al-Qaeda to a security breach and destroyed a years-long surveillance operation that the company has used to intercept and pass along secret messages, videos and advance warnings of suicide bombings from the terrorist group's communications network.

"Techniques that took years to develop are now ineffective and worthless," said Rita Katz, the firm's 44-year-old founder, who has garnered wide attention by publicizing statements and videos from extremist chat rooms and Web sites, while attracting controversy over the secrecy of SITE's methodology. Her firm provides intelligence about terrorist groups to a wide range of paying clients, including private firms and military and intelligence agencies from the United States and several other countries.

The precise source of the leak remains unknown. Government officials declined to be interviewed about the circumstances on the record, but they did not challenge Katz's version of events. They also said the incident had no effect on U.S. intelligence-gathering efforts and did not diminish the government's ability to anticipate attacks.

While acknowledging that SITE had achieved success, the officials said U.S. agencies have their own sophisticated means of watching al-Qaeda on the Web. "We have individuals in the right places dealing with all these issues, across all 16 intelligence agencies," said Ross Feinstein, spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

But privately, some intelligence officials called the incident regrettable, and one official said SITE had been "tremendously helpful" in ferreting out al-Qaeda secrets over time.

The al-Qaeda video aired on Sept. 7 attracted international attention as the first new video message from the group's leader in three years. In it, a dark-bearded bin Laden urges Americans to convert to Islam and predicts failure for the Bush administration in Iraq and Afghanistan. The video was aired on hundreds of Western news Web sites nearly a full day before its release by a distribution company linked to al-Qaeda.

Computer logs and records reviewed by The Washington Post support SITE's claim that it snatched the video from al-Qaeda days beforehand. Katz requested that the precise date and details of the acquisition not be made public, saying such disclosures could reveal sensitive details about the company's methods.

SITE -- an acronym for the Search for International Terrorist Entities -- was established in 2002 with the stated goal of tracking and exposing terrorist groups, according to the company's Web site. Katz, an Iraqi-born Israeli citizen whose father was executed by Saddam Hussein in the 1960s, has made the investigation of terrorist groups a passionate quest.

"We were able to establish sources that provided us with unique and important information into al-Qaeda's hidden world," Katz said. Her company's income is drawn from subscriber fees and contracts.

Katz said she decided to offer an advance copy of the bin Laden video to the White House without charge so officials there could prepare for its eventual release.

She spoke first with White House counsel Fred F. Fielding, whom she had previously met, and then with Joel Bagnal, deputy assistant to the president for homeland security. Both expressed interest in obtaining a copy, and Bagnal suggested that she send a copy to Michael Leiter, who holds the No. 2 job at the National Counterterrorism Center.

Administration and intelligence officials would not comment on whether they had obtained the video separately. Katz said Fielding and Bagnal made it clear to her that the White House did not possess a copy at the time she offered hers.

Around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7, Katz sent both Leiter and Fielding an e-mail with a link to a private SITE Web page containing the video and an English transcript. "Please understand the necessity for secrecy," Katz wrote in her e-mail. "We ask you not to distribute . . . [as] it could harm our investigations."

Fielding replied with an e-mail expressing gratitude to Katz. "It is you who deserves the thanks," he wrote, according to a copy of the message. There was no record of a response from Leiter or the national intelligence director's office.

Exactly what happened next is unclear. But within minutes of Katz's e-mail to the White House, government-registered computers began downloading the video from SITE's server, according to a log of file transfers. The records show dozens of downloads over the next three hours from computers with addresses registered to defense and intelligence agencies.

By midafternoon, several television news networks reported obtaining copies of the transcript. A copy posted around 3 p.m. on Fox News's Web site referred to SITE and included page markers identical to those used by the group. "This confirms that the U.S. government was responsible for the leak of this document," Katz wrote in an e-mail to Leiter at 5 p.m.

Al-Qaeda supporters, now alerted to the intrusion into their secret network, put up new obstacles that prevented SITE from gaining the kind of access it had obtained in the past, according to Katz.

A small number of private intelligence companies compete with SITE in scouring terrorists' networks for information and messages, and some have questioned the company's motives and methods, including the claim that its access to al-Qaeda's network was unique. One competitor, Ben Venzke, founder of IntelCenter, said he questions SITE's decision -- as described by Katz -- to offer the video to White House policymakers rather than quietly share it with intelligence analysts.

"It is not just about getting the video first," Venzke said. "It is about having the proper methods and procedures in place to make sure that the appropriate intelligence gets to where it needs to go in the intelligence community and elsewhere in order to support ongoing counterterrorism operations."

Source Drudge
26105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Baboons on: October 09, 2007, 07:33:28 AM
NY Times
Published: October 9, 2007
Royal is a cantankerous old male baboon whose troop of some 80 members lives in the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana. A perplexing event is about to disturb his day.

From the bushes to his right, he hears a staccato whoop, the distinctive call that female baboons always make after mating. He recognizes the voice as that of Jackalberry, the current consort of Cassius, a male who outranks Royal in the strict hierarchy of male baboons. No hope of sex today.

But then, surprisingly, he hears Cassius’s signature greeting grunt to his left. His puzzlement is plain on the video made of his reaction. You can almost see the wheels turn slowly in his head:

“Jackalberry here, but Cassius over there. Hmm, Jackalberry must be hooking up with some one else. But that means Cassius has left her unguarded. Say what — this is my big chance!”

The video shows him loping off in the direction of Jackalberry’s whoop. But all that he will find is the loudspeaker from which researchers have played Jackalberry’s recorded call.

The purpose of the experiment is not to ruin Royal’s day but to understand what goes on in a baboon’s mind, in this case how carefully the animals keep track of transient relationships.

Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth, a husband-and-wife team of biologists at the University of Pennsylvania, have spent 14 years observing the Moremi baboons. Through ingenious playback experiments performed by themselves and colleagues, the researchers say they have worked out many aspects of what baboons use their minds for, along with their limitations.

Reading a baboon’s mind affords an excellent grasp of the dynamics of baboon society. But more than that, it bears on the evolution of the human mind and the nature of human existence. As Darwin jotted down in a notebook of 1838, “He who understands baboon would do more towards metaphysics than Locke.”

Dr. Cheney and Dr. Seyfarth are well known for a 1990 book on vervet monkeys, “How Monkeys See the World,” in which they showed how much about the animals’ mental processes could be deduced from careful experiments.

When a baby vervet’s call is played to three females, for instance, the mother looks to the source of the sound. The two others look to the mother, evidence that vervets know whose baby is whose.

An experiment like this — recording the sounds, waiting until the animals are in the right place and performing numerous controls — can take months to complete, but the results are widely admired by other biologists. “Any work of Dorothy and Robert’s is going to be as good as you get in the field,” said Robert M. Sapolsky, a Stanford biologist and an author who has studied baboons in the wild for many years.

“There is no one else in the area of animal behavior who does such incredibly interesting experiments in the field,” said Marc Hauser, a biologist at Harvard who was their first student.

Dr. Cheney and Dr. Seyfarth have summed up their new cycle of research in a book titled, after Darwin’s comment, “Baboon Metaphysics.” Their conclusion, based on many painstaking experiments, is that baboons’ minds are specialized for social interaction, for understanding the structure of their complex society and for navigating their way within it.

The shaper of a baboon’s mind is natural selection. Those with the best social skills leave the most offspring.

“Monkey society is governed by the same two general rules that governed the behavior of women in so many 19th-century novels,” Dr. Cheney and Dr. Seyfarth write. “Stay loyal to your relatives (though perhaps at a distance, if they are an impediment), but also try to ingratiate yourself with the members of high-ranking families.”

Baboon society revolves around mother-daughter lines of descent. Eight or nine matrilines are in a troop, each with a rank order. This hierarchy can remain stable for generations.

By contrast, the male hierarchy, which consists mostly of baboons born in other troops, is always changing as males fight among themselves and with new arrivals.

Rank among female baboons is hereditary, with a daughter assuming her mother’s rank.

News of that fact gave great satisfaction to a member of the British royal family, Princess Michael of Kent. She visited Dr. Cheney and Dr. Seyfarth in Botswana, remarking to them, they report: “I always knew that when people who aren’t like us claim that hereditary rank is not part of human nature, they must be wrong. Now you’ve given me evolutionary proof!”


Baboons live with danger on every side. Many fall prey to lions, leopards, pythons and the crocodiles that in the wet season stalk the fords where baboons cross from one island to another. Baboon watchers are subject to the same hazards. Dr. Cheney and Dr. Seyfarth say their rules are not to work alone or to wade into water deeper than knee high. They often find themselves sitting in a tree with baboons waiting out a lion below. But going into New York is more petrifying, they contend, than dodging Botswana’s predators.

The baboons will bark to warn of lions and leopards, but pay no attention to some other species dangerous to humans like buffalo and elephant. On two occasions, baboons have attacked animals, a leopard and a honey badger, that threatened their human companions. “We haven’t lost any post-docs,” Dr. Seyfarth said.

For female baboons, another constant worry besides predation is infanticide. Their babies are put in peril at each of the frequent upheavals in the male hierarchy. The reason is that new alpha males enjoy brief reigns, seven to eight months on average, and find at first that the droits de seigneur they had anticipated are distinctly unpromising. Most of the females are not sexually receptive because they are pregnant or nurturing unweaned children.

An unpleasant fact of baboon life is that the alpha male can make mothers re-enter their reproductive cycles, and boost his prospects of fatherhood, by killing their infants. The mothers can secure some protection for their babies by forming close bonds with other females and with male friends, particularly those who were alpha when their children were conceived and who may be the father. Still, more than half of all deaths among baby baboons are from infanticide.

So important are these social skills that it is females with the best social networks, not those most senior in the hierarchy, who leave the most offspring.

Although the baboon and human lines of descent split apart some 30 million years ago, the species have much in common. Both are primates whose ancestors came down from the trees and learned to survive on the ground in large social groups. The baboon mind may therefore shed considerable light on the early stages of the evolution of the human mind.

In some of their playback experiments, Dr. Cheney and Dr. Seyfarth have tested baboons’ knowledge of where everyone stands in the hierarchy. In a typical interaction, a dominant baboon gives a threat grunt, and its inferior screams. From their library of recorded baboon sounds, the researchers can fabricate a sequence in which an inferior baboon’s threat grunt is followed by a superior’s scream.

Baboons pay little attention when a normal interaction is played to them but show surprise when they hear the fabricated sequence implying their social world has been turned upside down.

This simple reaction says a lot about what is going in the baboon’s mind. That the animal can construe “A dominates B,” and distinguish it from “B dominates A,” means it must be able to break a stream of sounds down into separate elements, recognize the meaning of each, and combine the meanings into a sentence-like thought.

“That’s what we do when we parse a sentence,” Dr. Seyfarth said. Human language seems unique because no other species is capable of anything like speech. But when it comes to perceiving and deconstructing sounds, as opposed to making them, baboons’ ability seems much more language-like.

Assuming that early humans inherited the same ability from their joint ancestor with baboons, then when humans first started to combine sounds in the beginning of spoken language, “their listeners were all ready to perceive them,” Dr. Seyfarth said.

Baboons may be good at perceiving and thinking in a combinative way, but their vocal output consists of single sounds that are never combined, like greeting grunts, the females’ sexual whoop and the males’ competitive “wahoo!” cry. Why did language, expressed in combinations of sounds, evolve in humans but not in baboons?

A possible key to the puzzle lies in what animal psychologists call theory of mind, the ability to infer what another animal does or does not know. Baboons seem to have a very feeble theory of mind. When they cross from one island to another, ever fearful of crocodiles, the adults will often go first, leaving the juveniles fretting at the water’s edge. However much the young baboons call, their mothers never come back to help, as if unable to divine their children’s predicament.

But people have a very strong ability to recognize the mental states of others, and this could have prompted a desire to communicate that drove the evolution of language. “If I know you don’t know something, I am highly motivated to communicate it,” Dr. Seyfarth said.

It is far from clear why humans acquired a strong theory of mind faculty and baboons did not. Another difference between the two species is brain size. Some biologists have suggested that the demands of social living were the evolutionary pressure that enhanced the size of the brain. But the largest brains occur in chimpanzees and humans, who live in smaller groups than baboons.

But both chimps and humans use tools. Possibly social life drove the evolution of the primate brain to a certain point, and the stimulus of tool use then took over. Use of tools would have spurred communication, as the owner of a tool explained to others how to use it. But that requires a theory of mind, and Dr. Cheney and Dr. Seyfarth are skeptical of claims that chimpanzees have a theory of mind, in part because the experiments supporting that position have been conducted on captive chimps. “It’s bewildering to us that none of the people who study ape cognition have been motivated to study wild chimpanzees,” Dr. Cheney said.

“Baboons provide you with an example of what sort of social and cognitive complexity is possible in the absence of language and a theory of mind,” she said. “The selective forces that gave rise to our large brains and our full-blown theory of mind remain mysterious, at least to us.”
26106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 08, 2007, 08:18:00 PM
More on point for me wojuld be be to explain how a bullying friend getting his comeuppance and getting killed are indistinguishable, , ,
26107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Division of Jerusalem? on: October 08, 2007, 11:11:04 AM
ISRAEL, PNA: The Israeli government will support a division of Jerusalem, which allegedly is a major component of an Israeli-Palestinian deal to be announced during a Middle East peace conference in November, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said. Even the hawkish factions of Olmert's coalition back this Israeli concession, Vice Premier Haim Ramon said.

26108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: October 08, 2007, 09:06:52 AM
Tis a rare event, but I re-entered the minor stopped out sub-position in LNOP in profitable fashion and today am quite happy.  As I type LNOP is up 5.8%-- and ISIS is having yet another fine day.
26109  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knives for good on: October 08, 2007, 08:50:20 AM
Woof All:

I would like to mention that on page 66 of the Jan.'08 issue of "Tactical Knives" there is an article titled "Syderco's P'kal- Fist Full of Fight" which is about my friend Southnarc's reverse grip reverse edge Shivworks folder.    Those of you familiiar with Southnarc's Clinch Pick and Disciple designs know that a lot of serious combative IQ goes into the design of these knives and when we were talking last week he expressed a lot of pride to me that this, his first folder, has been done right.   We (DBIMA) are in conversation about carrying this knife.

Crafty Dog
26110  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA DVD: "DLO 2: Bringing a Gun to a Knife Attack" on: October 08, 2007, 08:26:17 AM
The use of mosaics is to hide the technique  wink grin cheesy  The mosaic will not be used in the actual DVD of course.
26111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: October 08, 2007, 08:24:30 AM
Second post of the morning:


Another U.N. Power Grab
What would Reagan do? On the Law of the Sea Treaty, we know the answer.

Monday, October 8, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

It is an impressive testament to the abiding affection and political influence of former President Ronald Reagan that the fate of a controversial treaty now before the U.S. Senate may ultimately turn on a single question: What would Reagan do?

As we had the privilege of working closely with President Reagan in connection with the foreign policy, national security and domestic implications of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (better known as the Law of the Sea Treaty or LOST), there is no question about how our 40th president felt about this accord. He so strongly opposed it that he formally refused to sign the treaty. He even sent Donald Rumsfeld as a personal emissary to our key allies around the world to explain his opposition and encourage them to follow suit. All of them did so at the time.

Proponents of LOST, however, have lately taken--on these pages and elsewhere--to portray President Reagan's concerns as relatively circumscribed. They contend that those objections were subsequently and satisfactorily addressed in a multilateral accord known as the Agreement of 1994. To the extent that such assertions may induce senators who would otherwise oppose the Law of the Sea Treaty to vote for it, perhaps within a matter of weeks and after only the most cursory of reviews, we feel compelled to set the record straight.

Ronald Reagan actually opposed LOST even before he came to office. He was troubled by a treaty that had, in the course of its protracted negotiations, mutated beyond recognition from an effort to codify certain navigation rights strongly supported by our Navy into a dramatic step toward world government. This supranational agenda was most closely identified with, but not limited to, the Treaty's Part XI, which created a variety of executive, legislative and judicial mechanisms to control the resources of the world's oceans.

In a radio address titled "Ocean Mining" on Oct. 10, 1978, Mr. Reagan applauded the idea that "no nat[ional] interest of ours could justify handing sovereign control of two-thirds of the earth's surface over to the Third World." He added, "No one has ruled out the idea of a [Law of the Sea] treaty--one which makes sense--but after long years of fruitless negotiating, it became apparent that the underdeveloped nations who now control the General Assembly were looking for a free ride at our expense--again."

The so-called seabed mining provisions were simply one manifestation of the problems Ronald Reagan had with LOST. That was made clear by an entry in his diary dated June 29, 1982, after months of efforts to negotiate extensive changes in the draft treaty text came to naught. On that evening, President Reagan wrote: "Decided in [National Security Council] meeting--will not sign 'Law of the Sea' treaty even without seabed mining provisions."
The man selected by President Reagan to undertake those renegotiations was the remarkable James Malone. In 1984, Ambassador Malone explained why the Law of the Sea Treaty was unacceptable: "The Treaty's provisions were intentionally designed to promote a new world order--a form of global collectivism known as the New International Economic Order (NIEO)--that seeks ultimately the redistribution of the world's wealth through a complex system of manipulative central economic planning and bureaucratic coercion. The Treaty's provisions are predicated on a distorted interpretation of the noble concept of the Earth's vast oceans as the 'common heritage of mankind.'"

Interestingly, Ambassador Malone declared in 1995, "This remains the case today." That statement is particularly relevant insofar as LOST's supporters, including some of our colleagues from the Reagan administration, insist that the 1994 Agreement "fixed" the previously unacceptable Part XI provisions. As James Malone explained to a conference on the Law of the Sea Treaty before his untimely death more than a decade ago:

"All the provisions from the past that make such a [new world order] outcome possible, indeed likely, still stand. It is not true, as argued by some, and frequently mentioned, that the U.S. rejected the Convention in 1982 solely because of technical difficulties with Part XI. The collectivist and redistributionist provisions of the treaty were at the core of the U.S. refusal to sign."

He added, "The regime's structural arrangements place central planning ahead of free market interests in determining influence over world resources; and yet, the collapse of socialist central planning throughout the world makes this a step in the wrong direction."

In a comment that is, if anything, even more true at present, Ambassador Malone observed that: "Today, not only are the seabed mining provisions inadequately corrected, and the collectivist ideologies of a now repudiated system of global central planning still imbedded in the treaty, new and potentially serious concerns have arisen."

Currently, these include: the increasingly brazen hostility of the United Nations and other multilateral institutions to the United States and its interests; the organization's ambition to impose international taxes, which would allow it to become still less transparent and accountable to member nations; the determination of European and other environmentalists to impose the "precautionary principle" (a Luddite, "better safe than sorry" approach that requires proof no harm can come from any initiative before it can be undertaken); the increasing practice of U.S. courts to allow "universal jurisprudence" to trump American constitutional rights and laws; and the use of "lawfare" (multilateral treaties, tribunal rulings and convention declarations) by adversaries of the U.S. military as asymmetric weapons to curtail or impede American power and operations.

Such developments only serve to reinforce the concerns President Reagan rightly had about the central, and abiding, defect of the Law of the Sea Treaty: its effort to promote global government at the expense of sovereign nation states--and most especially the United States. One of the prime movers behind LOST, the late Elisabeth Mann Borgese of the World Federalist Association (which now calls itself Citizens for Global Solutions), captured what is at stake when she cited an ancient aphorism: "He who rules the sea, rules the land." A U.N. publication lauding her work noted that Borgese saw LOST as a "possible test-bed for ideas she had developed concerning a common global constitution."
While we would not presume to speak for President Reagan, his own words and those of the man who worked most closely with him and us on Law of the Sea matters, Jim Malone, make one thing clear: Even if the 1994 Agreement actually amended LOST (and there are multiple reasons why it did not actually alter so much as a single word of the treaty), Ronald Reagan's belief in the U.S. as an exceptional "shining city on a hill" and his enmity towards threats to our sovereignty in general, and global governance schemes in particular, were such that he would likely encourage the Senate to do today what he did in 1982: Reject LOST.

Judge Clark and Mr. Meese served in several capacities in President Reagan's administration including, respectively, as national security adviser and attorney general.
26112  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / No room for Entrepeneurs on: October 08, 2007, 08:23:38 AM
No Room for Entrepreneurs
October 8, 2007; Page A18

Economist Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950) may be best known for his innovative work showing the link between entrepreneurial discovery and economic progress.

But as Carl Schramm, president of the Kauffman Foundation of Entrepreneurship has pointed out, Schumpeter's insights about risk-takers didn't make him an optimist.

In a speech last year to European finance ministers in Vienna, Mr. Schramm explained Schumpeter's fears: He "worried that entrepreneurial capitalism would not flourish because the bureaucracies of modern government and big corporations would dampen innovation -- the process of 'creative destruction' would be too ungovernable for a modern, Keynesian-regulated economy to tolerate." As a result, Mr. Schramm said, Schumpeter thought that "the importance of entrepreneurs would fade over time as capitalism sought predictability from governments who would plan economic activity as well as order social benefits."

Mr. Schramm's comments caught my attention because they so accurately describe Latin America. There the entrepreneur has been all but run out of town by the bureaucracies that Schumpeter feared. Growth has suffered accordingly.

The World Bank's annual "Doing Business" survey, released last week, demonstrates the point. The 2008 survey, which evaluates the regulatory climate for entrepreneurs in 178 countries, finds that Latin America and the Caribbean was the slowest reforming region this year and that it "is falling further behind other regions in the pace" of reform.

The average time it takes to start a business -- one of 10 factors measured -- in Latin America and the Caribbean is 68 days, longer than anywhere else. Compare that with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, where business start-ups take less than 15 days. Other common problems in the region are weak minority-shareholder rights, slow legal regimes and punishing tax systems.

Yet as bad as the regional averages are, entrepreneurs in Venezuela probably view them with envy. When it comes to the ease of doing business Venezuela now ranks six places from the bottom world-wide, between Eritrea and Chad. It also finishes dead last among the region's 31 countries -- and that includes Haiti. In the category of "employing workers" Venezuela ties with Bolivia at No. 177. The authors note that it is "not possible" to fire a Venezuelan employee. "Starting a business" takes 141 days and in ease of "paying taxes" it ranks No. 174.

Keeping Venezuela company in the cellar are Ecuador, which finishes 27th in the region, and Bolivia, which comes in 28th. Only Suriname, Haiti and Mr. Chávez's oil paradise have more hostile business climates.

To understand how Argentina went from being one of the world's top-performing economies during Schumpeter's lifetime to the basket case it is today, this report is instructive. The resurgence of Peronist economics helped it slide 16 places lower than its 2006 ranking. Not only has it failed to carry out any meaningful reforms but in the past year it complicated the insolvency process. And its tax system remains punitive: A company that pays all its taxes coughs up the equivalent of 113% of its profit. Argentina finishes 22nd in the region but ahead of Costa Rica, which comes in 24th. Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua are all better places to be an entrepreneur than Costa Rica.

Brazil earned about the same ranking as last year. It made improvements to its legal regime but lost ground to more aggressive reformers in the category of "trading across borders." It also takes last place world-wide for the time it takes to comply with the tax code (2,600 hours) and ranks 137th in the "paying taxes" category.

Sluggish reform in the region has led some analysts to conclude that democracies in the developing world cannot overcome the obstacles to modernization presented by the political economy. Yet there are regional successes that prove that where there is political will, there is a way.

Take Mexico. In last year's report it jumped almost 20 places world-wide thanks to a reform-minded treasury ministry under former President Vicente Fox, which lowered tax rates and made property registration easier. It now has the fifth-most pro-business climate in the region. If the government of Felipe Calderón keeps its reform promises, more improvements should be on the way, though its price controls on bread and tortillas are not a good sign.

This year's superstar is Colombia. It is among the top 10 reformers world-wide and ranks 12th in the region. It made enormous progress in "trading across borders" by reducing the time goods spend in terminals, extending port operating hours and making more selective customs inspections. It also strengthened investor protections, adopted an electronic tax filing system and progressively lowered the corporate tax rate to 33% in 2008 from 35% in 2006. Much more work is needed but the moral of the story is that with leadership, such as that which President Álvaro Uribe has provided, reform is possible.

But the opposite is also true. Chile has fallen nine places since its No. 24 ranking in the 2006 report, suggesting that the center-left coalition running the country is not attuned to the importance of entrepreneurial freedom.

The most important lesson for Latin America from the World Bank's report is that its competitors around the world are working to unleash entrepreneurial spirits, and doing nothing is not an option. As Mr. Schramm told his Vienna audience, "Schumpeter saw what a century of evidence would prove: Socialism has not sustained economic growth." Now, if only more Latin American policy makers would catch on.

Write to O'

26113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: October 08, 2007, 08:11:43 AM
Goose Creek Terror Trial - Egypt to Hire Lawyer for Accused USF Student

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Egypt's government is paying for the legal representation of a college student who authorities say was found with pipe bombs near a Navy base, an attorney said Wednesday.

Attorney John Fitzgibbons told a judge he was in talks with the Egyptian embassy in Washington and likely will be hired to represent suspended University of South Florida student Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed.

Ahmed el-Qawassni, an official in Egypt's foreign ministry, said the government is closely monitoring the case and confirmed that an attorney is being hired for Mohamed, who was born in Kuwait to Egyptian parents.

"We are responsible for the sons of Egypt abroad with no exception," el-Qawassni said.

Mohamed, 24, and another USF student, Youssef Samir Megahed, 21, are charged with carrying explosive materials across state lines.


26114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 08, 2007, 08:06:42 AM
Al Qaeda's War of Villages
Signs that the terrorists are losing in Iraq.

Monday, October 8, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

BAGHDAD--The latest chapter in al Qaeda's war manual in their war against the Iraqi people and the Coalition is this: raiding remote peaceful villages, burning down homes and slaughtering both man and beast. It's a campaign of self destruction.

For about a year al Qaeda has been trying to build a so called Islamic State in Iraq. On several occasions al Qaeda has even declared parts of Baghdad or other places in other provinces the capital of this Islamic State.

But now that they are losing one base after another, their objective seems to have changed from adding more towns and villages to the "state" to destroying the very same towns and villages. Obviously, it's all about making headlines regardless of the means to do that.

This change in plans began to take shape with the battle between al Qaeda and the joint forces on Sept. 6 and 7 in Hor Rijab and then the massacre that followed in the same spot a week later and finally the attacks on other villages north, south and east of Baghdad in the last week or so.

Actually first I'd like to recommend reading a good post by Jules Crittenden about the flawed timing of this "Little Tet.

Anyway, our interest today is more about the field situation and strategy than about timing since the latter seems to be not so friendly to al Qaeda. Well, actually timing is very important here too but at a rather different level. In my opinion al Qaeda found itself forced to start this villages war. It wasn't a choice as much as a last resort because villages are among the few fighting spaces that al Qaeda can still utilize as large cities become increasingly difficult for them to operate in. They know that without engaging the enemy--that's us by the way--their existence and influence would end and I'm almost positive that they feel bitter about having to fight this way.

In order to fight a "good" guerilla war one has to stay in fluid state, have no permanent bases or barracks, no distinguishable uniform and above all one should be able to always have civilians around so as to deter the enemy--that's again us--from attacking out of concern about collateral damages and casualties among innocent civilians. No one questions the fact that no army in the Middle East, and I doubt there are any elsewhere, that can engage and defeat the U.S. military power in open terrain, in other words in a case of two traditional armies fighting on traditional battlefield.
The last factor is exactly what al Qaeda is sacrificing by waging this war on villages. But how can we make advantage of this situation? The greatest challenge I guess would be to have an alarm and information system through which the nearest available troops could be notified when an attack begins so they could interfere and repel the attack. This might be logistically difficult to establish in a short time since villages are usually far from the cities. In fact I worked in some such villages and I know that most of them are outside the administrative divisions or "civil planning" of provinces therefore they lack their own government offices and departments which means the nearest hospital, fire department, even phone and above all police station could be many miles away.

But even then if the troops fail to arrive in time to intercept the attack, which would be truly sad, the long distance that al Qaeda fighters would have to travel to go back to their base would require them to lose precious time since they have to rely only on ground transport on mostly exposed terrain while the troops very often have the advantage of the much faster air transport.

In the worst case scenario what's left of a village if the attack is not intercepted would be only al Qaeda fighters and the remains of what used to be a village. Now isn't that the perfect target for the countless aggressive fire units of the U.S. military?

Now please let's put emotions aside for a while because this is war we're talking about and if sacrifices cannot be avoided we should make sure the enemy pays the heaviest price possible. If reaction is quick enough--and timing here is of crucial importance--the hunt would be great and the results would be spectacular.

Again, of course it would be much more pleasant if the attacks can be prevented or repelled but since I doubt there's such an alarm system we could at least make benefit of the gap in time that immediately follows the action of the attackers taking advantage of faster transportation means and the old principle in combat that says the enemy can be best attacked immediately after he makes his move.
For the duration of the war on al Qaeda in Iraq so far, the most frustrating fact for soldiers and military commanders has been that they were asked to identify terrorists who move like ghosts, separate them from civilians and kill or capture them and that's a truly difficult mission. That's partly because a soldier would have to be careful when and where each bullet he fires would hit. But when the ghosts are identified, isolated and far from any friendly objects/personnel a pilot could attack with assurance of not hurting a friend.

That's why I think the troops should seize each and every such opportunity (which are technically moments during which the crippling rule of engagement become much more flexible) and strike as hard as they can once they are sure the battlefield falls in the category we just described.

Mr. Fadhil and his brother Mohammed write a blog, Iraq the Model, from Baghdad.

26115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: October 08, 2007, 07:42:47 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Talk of More U.S.-Iranian Talks

U.S. President George W. Bush told a group of businesspeople Oct. 3 that he would be prepared to negotiate with Iran if it suspended its nuclear weapons program. He repeated the call for negotiations in an Oct. 5 interview on the Al Arabiya television network. Iran responded Sunday by saying that it welcomes Bush's call for negotiations, but that it will not suspend its nuclear program as a precondition for such talks.

A spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said, "Iran is ready for talks in a just, unconditional manner with mutual respect." He added, however, "Suspension of enrichment is an old debate. We have many times said that new issues should be discussed in negotiations." Most interestingly, the spokesman said that while Bush's remarks weren't new, they were "clearer than previous times."

That might well be true. Bush has not heretofore been this open about his willingness and desire to deal with the Iranians. However, the nuclear issue is still on the table. Bush wants to discuss Iraq with the Iranians, but only after their nuclear weapons program is shut down. The Iranians have no intention of abandoning their program prior to the negotiations. While we do think they would be prepared to shut it down in the long run, they will want to use it as a bargaining tool to extract maximum concessions from the United States before letting go of it. There is no way they would consider shutting down the program prior to talks.

The United States knows that. It does not expect the Iranians to concede this point. Therefore, one of two things is going on. The first possibility is that Washington wants to create a clear, public record that it has gone the extra mile in trying to work with Tehran, in order to convince allies and the general public that it has exhausted all of its reasonable nonmilitary options. It also is possible that the United States has in fact decided to upgrade its talks with the Iranians and will, in due course, negotiate over the negotiations, ultimately conceding that there will be talks prior to an end to the program.

Our prior view, after the surge began, was that the United States expected to engage Iran in serious negotiations over Iraq because neither side felt in control of the situation. Our view shifted as the Petraeus report came in -- we expected it to be modeled after the National Intelligence Estimate, increasing the likelihood of a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Instead, the opposite happened.

A general consensus, including most congressional Democrats, has emerged that recognizes that a unilateral and rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces is not going to happen. Moreover, Bush highlighted his improved relations with the Sunnis on his last visit to Iraq. A U.S.-Sunni alliance is a worst-case outcome for the Iranians, so it is possible that they might want to go back to the table. For the Americans, on the other hand, a relationship with the Sunnis is a thin reed on which to hang the U.S. strategy in Iraq. They do need to talk to the Iranians.

That makes the case that this offer of talks from the Americans could be real. And two such offers in the same week is more than just building the public record in preparation for an attack. Our gut tells us that Bush might be serious about talking right now.

The answer, if any, will come in backchannel discussions over the status of Iran's nuclear weapons program. The United States can't engage in talks if the program is going forward full-bore -- the politics would be impossible. On the other hand, Iran can't talk if doing so means abandoning the program. That would weaken Tehran's entire negotiating position. The only middle ground -- and this could be fantasy -- is the suspension of some aspect of the program without stopping it. If this is a serious opening, that is what is being discussed now. The formula should be clear to both sides and after a period of posturing, a compromise can emerge. Or, the offer is nothing more than atmospherics, and like other negotiating opportunities between the United States and Iran, it will go away.

We hate resorting to the ugly "we'll see" as an ending -- but that is exactly where we need to end this. Probably neither side really understands the position of the other. Indeed, each side might not have fully defined its own position yet. The public discussion is of enormous significance, but the unknowns are of equal importance.

So we'll see.
26116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Gangs on: October 08, 2007, 07:26:30 AM
Woof All:

I suppose this thread could have gone on the P&R forum, or the MA forum, but I decided to put it here.  I open with a long documentary on MS-13.  The piece is quite a serious look at the serious problem of MS 13-- althoughI could have done without the occasional implications that US deportations of illegal aliens caused it all. 

I'll add one piece of background context.  El Salvador has extremely high population density rates and last I read (20 years ago) extremely high population growth rates (3.6% or so!!!  shocked ).

26117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 08, 2007, 06:06:42 AM
Published: October 8, 2007
KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 7 — After the biggest opium harvest in Afghanistan’s history, American officials have renewed efforts to persuade the government here to begin spraying herbicide on opium poppies, and they have found some supporters within President Hamid Karzai’s administration, officials of both countries said.

Skip to next paragraph
Taliban Raise Poppy Production to a Record Again (August 26, 2007)
The New York Times
Helmand accounts for nearly half Afghanistan’s opium.
Since early this year, Mr. Karzai has repeatedly declared his opposition to spraying the poppy fields, whether by crop-dusting airplanes or by eradication teams on the ground.

But Afghan officials said the Karzai administration is now re-evaluating that stance. Some proponents within the government are pushing a trial program of ground spraying that could begin before the harvest next spring.

The issue has created sharp divisions within the Afghan government, among its Western allies and even American officials of different agencies. The matter is fraught with political danger for Mr. Karzai, whose hold on power is weak.

Many spraying advocates, including officials at the White House and the State Department, view herbicides as critical to curbing Afghanistan’s poppy crop, officials said. That crop and the opium and heroin it produces have become a major source of revenue for the Taliban insurgency.

But officials said the skeptics — who include American military and intelligence officials and European diplomats in Afghanistan — fear that any spraying of American-made chemicals over Afghan farms would be a boon to Taliban propagandists. Some of those officials say that the political cost could be especially high if the herbicide destroys food crops that farmers often plant alongside their poppies.

“There has always been a need to balance the obvious greater effectiveness of spray against the potential for losing hearts and minds,” Thomas A. Schweich, the assistant secretary of state for international narcotics issues, said in an interview last week in Washington. “The question is whether that’s manageable. I think that it is.”

Bush administration officials say they will respect whatever decision the Afghan government makes. Crop-eradication efforts, they insist, are only part of a new counternarcotics strategy that will include increased efforts against traffickers, more aid for legal agriculture and development, and greater military support for the drug fight.

Behind the scenes, however, Bush administration officials have been pressing the Afghan government to at least allow the trial spray of glyphosate, a commonly used weed-killer, current and former American officials said. Ground spraying would likely bring only a modest improvement over the manual destruction of poppy plants, but officials who support the strategy hope it would reassure Afghans about the safety of the herbicide and make eradication possible.

Aerial spraying, they add, may be the only way to make a serious impact on opium production while the Taliban continues to dominate parts of southern Afghanistan.

On Sunday, officials said, a State Department crop-eradication expert briefed key members of Mr. Karzai’s cabinet about the effectiveness and safety of glyphosate. The expert, Charles S. Helling, a senior scientific adviser to the department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, met with, among others, the ministers of public health and agriculture, both of whom have opposed the use of herbicides, an Afghan official said.

For all the controversy over herbicide use, there is no debate that Afghanistan’s drug problem is out of control. The country now produces 93 percent of the world’s opiates, according to United Nations estimates. Its traffickers are also processing more opium into heroin base there, a shift that has helped to increase Afghanistan’s drug revenues exponentially since the American-led invasion in 2001.

A United Nations report in August documented a 17 percent rise in poppy cultivation from 2006 to 2007, and a 34 percent rise in opium production. Perhaps more important for the effort to stabilize Afghanistan, officials said, the Taliban has been reaping a windfall from taxes on the growers and traffickers.

The problem is most acute in the southern province of Helmand, a Taliban stronghold. It produced nearly 4,400 metric tons of opium this year, almost half the country’s total output, United Nations statistics show.

Moreover, as Afghanistan’s opium production has soared, the government’s eradication efforts have faltered. Federal and provincial eradication teams — using sticks, sickles and animal-drawn plows — cut down about 47,000 acres of poppy fields this year, 24 percent more than last year but still less than 9 percent of the country’s total poppy crop.

And even that effort had to be negotiated plot by plot with growers. Powerful and politically connected landowners were able to protect their crops while smaller, weaker farmers were made the targets. The eradication program was so spotty that it did little to discourage farmers from cultivating the crop, American and European officials said.


Page 2 of 2)

“The eradication process over the past five years has not worked,” Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said in an interview. “This year, it was a farce.”

A United Nations report estimates that the country’s cultivation of poppy buds has risen 17 percent in the last year.

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has opposed spraying but his administration is re-evaluating that stance.

The Americans have been pushing the Afghan government to eradicate with glyphosate for at least two years. According to current and former American officials, the subject has been raised with President Karzai by President Bush; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser; and John P. Walters, the director of national drug-control policy.

American officials thought they had the Karzai administration’s support late last year to begin a small-scale pilot program for ground spraying in several provinces. But that plan was derailed in January after an American-educated deputy minister of public health presented health and environmental concerns about glyphosate at a meeting of the Karzai cabinet, Afghan and American officials said.

Since then, Mr. Karzai has said he opposes spraying of any kind.

“President Karzai has categorically rejected that spraying will happen,” Farooq Wardak, Afghanistan’s minister of state for parliamentary affairs, said in a recent interview. “The collateral damage of that will be huge.”

Yet in the weeks since the latest United Nations drug report, the Bush administration’s lobbying appears to have made new headway. It has already won the backing of several members of Mr. Karzai’s government and the spray advocates here are now trying to swing other key Afghan officials and Mr. Karzai himself, one high-level Afghan official said

“We are working to convince the key ministers and President Karzai to accept this strategy,” said the official, who supports spraying but asked not to be identified because of the issue’s political delicacy. “We want to convince them to show some power. The government has to show its power in the remote provinces.”

General Khodaidad, Afghanistan’s acting minister of counternarcotics (who, like many Afghans, goes by only one name), said in an interview last week that ground spraying is under careful consideration by the Afghan government. A high-level official of the Karzai administration said he believed some spraying might take place during this growing season, which begins in several weeks.

The American government contends that glyphosate is one of the world’s safest herbicides — “less toxic than common salt, aspirin, caffeine, nicotine and even vitamin A,” according to a State Department fact sheet.

One well known supporter of glyphosate as a counternarcotics tool is the American ambassador in Kabul, William B. Wood, who arrived in April after a four-year posting as ambassador to Colombia. There, Mr. Wood oversaw the American-financed counternarcotics program, Plan Colombia, which relies heavily on the aerial spraying of coca, the raw material for cocaine.

Mr. Wood has even offered to have himself sprayed with glyphosate, as one of his predecessors in Colombia once did, to prove its safety, a United States Embassy official in Kabul said.

But among European diplomats here, a far greater concern than any environmental or health dangers of chemical eradication is the potential for political fallout that could lead to more violence and instability.

Those diplomats worry particularly that aerial spraying would kill food crops that some farmers plant with their poppies. European officials add that any form of spraying could be cast by the Taliban as American chemical warfare against the Afghan peasantry.

The British have been so concerned that on the eve of Mr. Karzai’s trip to Camp David in August, Prime Minister Gordon Brown called President Bush and asked him not to pressure the Afghan premier to use herbicides, according to several diplomats here.

In something of a reversal of traditional roles, officials at the Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency have also challenged the White House and State Department support for spraying, raising concerns about its potential to destabilize the Karzai government, current and former American officials said.

American officials who support herbicide use do not dismiss such concerns. They say an extensive public-information campaign would have to be carried out in conjunction with any spraying effort to dispel fears about the chemical’s impacts.

Mr. Schweich, the assistant secretary of state, emphasized that a new American counter-narcotics strategy for Afghanistan, introduced in August, went far beyond eradication. He noted that it would increase punishments and rewards, including large amounts of development aid, to move farmers away from poppy cultivation. It also calls for more forceful eradication, interdiction and law enforcement efforts, and closer coordination of counternarcotics and counterinsurgency efforts, which until now have been pursued separately.

“We will do what the Afghan government wants to do,” Mr. Schweich said, referring to the use of herbicides. The Bush administration, he added, simply wants to ensure that the Afghans “have all the facts on the table.”

NY Times
26118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: October 08, 2007, 06:01:13 AM
I saw the posters referenced in this article everywhere I went while in Switzerland last week.
NY Times

Published: October 8, 2007
SCHWERZENBACH, Switzerland, Oct. 4 — The posters taped on the walls at a political rally here capture the rawness of Switzerland’s national electoral campaign: three white sheep stand on the Swiss flag as one of them kicks a single black sheep away.

A poster at a rally for the Swiss People’s Party showed a white sheep kicking out a black one.
“To Create Security,” the poster reads.

The poster is not the creation of a fringe movement, but of the most powerful party in Switzerland’s federal Parliament and a member of the coalition government, an extreme right-wing party called the Swiss People’s Party, or SVP. It has been distributed in a mass mailing to Swiss households, reproduced in newspapers and magazines and hung as huge billboards across the country.

As voters prepare to go to the polls in a general election on Oct. 21, the poster — and the party’s underlying message — have polarized a country that prides itself on peaceful consensus in politics, neutrality in foreign policy and tolerance in human relations.

Suddenly the campaign has turned into a nationwide debate over the place of immigrants in one of the world’s oldest democracies, and over what it means to be Swiss.

“The poster is disgusting, unacceptable,” Micheline Calmy-Rey, the current president of Switzerland under a one-year rotation system, said in an interview. “It stigmatizes others and plays on the fear factor, and in that sense it’s dangerous. The campaign does not correspond to Switzerland’s multicultural openness to the world. And I am asking all Swiss who do not agree with its message to have the courage to speak out.”

Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin, of the Liberal Democratic Party, has even suggested that the SVP’s worship of Christoph Blocher, the billionaire who is the party’s driving force and the current justice minister, is reminiscent of that of Italian fascists for Mussolini.

[On Saturday, a march of several thousand SVP supporters in Bern ended in clashes between hundreds of rock-throwing counterdemonstrators and riot police officers, who used tear gas to disperse them. The opponents of the rally, organized by a new group called the Black Sheep Committee, had tried to prevent the demonstrators from marching to Parliament.]

The message of the party resonates loudly among voters who have seen this country of 7.5 million become a haven for foreigners, including political refugees from places like Kosovo and Rwanda. Polls indicate that the right-wing party is poised to win more seats than any other party in Parliament in the election, as it did in national elections in 2003, when its populist language gave it nearly 27 percent of the vote.

“Our political enemies think the poster is racist, but it just gives a simple message,” Bruno Walliser, a local chimney sweep running for Parliament on the party ticket, said at the rally, held on a Schwerzenbach farm outside Zurich. “The black sheep is not any black sheep that doesn’t fit into the family. It’s the foreign criminal who doesn’t belong here, the one that doesn’t obey Swiss law. We don’t want him.”

More than 20 percent of Swiss inhabitants are foreign nationals, and the SVP argues that a disproportionate number are lawbreakers. Many drug dealers are foreign, and according to federal statistics, about 70 percent of the prison population is non-Swiss.

As part of its platform, the SVP party has begun a campaign seeking the 100,000 signatures necessary to force a referendum to let judges deport foreigners after they serve prison sentences for serious crimes. The measure also calls for the deportation of the entire family if the convicted criminal is a minor.

Human rights advocates warn that the initiative is reminiscent of the Nazi practice of Sippenhaft, or kin liability, under which relatives of criminals were held responsible and punished for their crimes.

The party’s political campaign has a much broader agenda than simply fighting crime. Its subliminal message is that the influx of foreigners has somehow polluted Swiss society, straining the social welfare system and threatening the very identity of the country.

Unlike the situation in France, where the far-right National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen campaigned for president in the spring alongside black and ethnic Arab supporters, the SVP has taken a much cruder us-against-them approach.


In a short three-part campaign film, “Heaven or Hell,” the party’s message is clear. In the first segment, young men inject heroin, steal handbags from women, kick and beat up schoolboys, wield knives and carry off a young woman. The second segment shows Muslims living in Switzerland — women in head scarves; men sitting, not working. The third segment shows “heavenly” Switzerland: men in suits rushing to work, logos of Switzerland’s multinational corporations, harvesting on farms, experiments in laboratories, scenes of lakes, mountains, churches and goats. “The choice is clear: my home, our security,” the film states.

The film was withdrawn from the party’s Web site after the men who acted in it sued, arguing they were unaware of its purpose. But over beer and bratwurst at the Schwerzenbach political rally, Mr. Walliser screened it for the audience, saying, “I’m taking the liberty to show it anyway.”

For Nelly Schneider, a 49-year-old secretary, the party’s approach is “a little bit crass,” but appealing nevertheless. “These foreigners abuse the system,” she said after Mr. Walliser’s presentation. “They don’t speak any German. They go to prostitution and do drugs and drive fancy cars and work on the black market. They don’t want to work.”

As most of the rest of Europe has moved toward unity, Switzerland has fiercely guarded its independence, staying out of the 27-country European Union and maintaining its status as a tax haven for the wealthy. It has perhaps the longest and most arduous process to become a citizen in all of Europe: candidates typically must wait 12 years before being considered.

Three years ago the SVP blocked a move to liberalize the citizenship process, using the image of dark-skinned hands snatching at Swiss passports. And though the specter of terrorism has not been a driving issue, some posters in southern Switzerland at the time showed a mock Swiss passport held by Osama bin Laden.

Foreigners, who make up a quarter of the Swiss work force, complain that it is harder to get a job or rent an apartment without a Swiss passport and that they endure everyday harassment that Swiss citizens do not.

James Philippe, a 28-year-old Haitian who has lived in Switzerland for 14 years and works for Streetchurch, a Protestant storefront community organization, and as a hip-hop dance instructor, said he is regularly stopped by the police and required to show his papers and submit to body searches. He speaks German, French, Creole and English, but has yet to receive a Swiss passport.

“The police treat me like I’m somehow not human,” he said at the Streetchurch headquarters in a working-class neighborhood of Zurich. “Then I open my mouth and speak good Swiss German, and they’re always shocked.

“We come here. We want to learn. We clean their streets and do all the work they don’t want to do. If they kick us out, are they going to do all that work themselves? We need them, but they need us too.”

SVP officials insist that their campaign is not racist, just anticrime. “Every statistic shows that the participation of foreigners in crime is quite high,” said Ulrich Schlüer, an SVP Parliament deputy who has also led an initiative to ban minarets in Switzerland. “We cannot accept this. We are the only party that addresses this problem.”

But the SVP campaign has begun to have a ripple effect, shaking the image of Switzerland as a place of prosperity, tranquillity and stability — particularly for doing business. On Thursday, a coalition of business, union and church leaders in Basel criticized the SVP for what they called its extremism, saying, “Those who discriminate against foreigners hurt the economy and threaten jobs in Switzerland.”

“In the past,” said Daniele Jenni, a lawyer and the founder of the Black Sheep Committee who is running for Parliament, “people were reluctant to attack the party out of fear that it might only strengthen it. Now people are beginning to feel liberated. They no longer automatically accept the role of the rabbit doing nothing, just waiting for the snake to bite.”

26119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: October 08, 2007, 05:29:02 AM
WASHINGTON —  President Bush, who presided over 152 executions as governor of Texas, wants to halt the state's execution of a Mexican national for the brutal killing of two teenage girls.

The case of Jose Ernesto Medellin has become a confusing test of presidential power that the U.S. Supreme Court, which hears the case this week, ultimately will sort out.

The president wants to enforce a decision by the International Court of Justice that found the convictions of Medellin and 50 other Mexican-born prisoners violated their rights to legal help as outlined in the 1963 Vienna Convention.

That is the same court Bush has since said he plans to ignore if it makes similar decisions affecting state criminal laws.

"The president does not agree with the ICJ's interpretation of the Vienna Convention," the administration said in arguments filed with the court. This time, though, the U.S. agreed to abide by the international court's decision because ignoring it would harm American interests abroad, the government said.

Texas argues that neither the international court nor Bush has any say in Medellin's case.

Medellin was born in Mexico, but spent much of his childhood in the United States. He was 18 in June 1993, when he and other members of the Black and Whites gang in Houston encountered two teenage girls on a railroad trestle.

The girls were gang-raped and strangled. Their bodies were found four days later.

Medellin was arrested a few days later. He was told he had a right to remain silent and have a lawyer present, but the police did not tell him that he could request assistance from the Mexican consulate.

Medellin gave a written confession. He was convicted of murder in the course of a sexual assault, a capital offense in Texas. A judge sentenced him to death in October 1994.

Medellin did not raise the lack of assistance from Mexican diplomats during his trial or sentencing. When he did claim his rights had been violated, Texas and federal courts turned him down because he had not objected at his trial. Mexico later sued the United States in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, on behalf of Medellin and 50 other Mexicans on death row in the U.S.

26120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton on: October 08, 2007, 05:20:35 AM
"Wise politicians will be cautious about fettering the government
with restrictions that cannot be observed, because they know that
every break of the fundamental laws, though dictated by necessity,
impairs that sacred reverence which ought to be maintained in
the breast of rulers towards the constitution of a country. "

-- Alexander Hamilton (Federalist No. 25, 21 December 1787)

Reference: Hamilton, Federalist No. 25 (167)
26121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values on: October 07, 2007, 07:26:00 PM
If we are going to have an extended discussion of Iraq again, then lets take it to that thread.
26122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values on: October 07, 2007, 02:57:33 PM

Thinking that our troops should be brought home is quite different than hoping they lose.  I disagree with the former, but have a real hard time with the latter.   As best as I can tell the unavoidable conclusion of opposing our victory is that more die than are dying now.
26123  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: October 07, 2007, 11:12:16 AM
This clip first crossed my radar screen a year or two ago and recently came to my attention against. Definitely a contender for a Most Embarassing Award cheesy
26124  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Kali Fitness on: October 07, 2007, 11:10:39 AM
Woof All:

We have begun the process of converting the "DBMAA Vid-lesson: Kali Fitness" featuring Guro Lonely Dog to DVD  cool

Guro Crafty
26125  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Las 5 respuestas on: October 07, 2007, 10:24:27 AM
Cecilio et al:

Muy buena descripcion.

YO quisiera anadir que aunque todo el mundo sabe las dos respuestas al peligro de pelear o huir, en la realidad hay tres mas.

Congelarse (to freeze)
Blufear (to posture)
Rendirse (to submit)

26126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Water drying up in China on: October 07, 2007, 10:18:04 AM
Stop the tease please!  cheesy URL? 25-50 words on the theory behind the investment?
26127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Nigeria on: October 07, 2007, 08:39:14 AM

Homes, churches destroyed as 500 people are displaced; government slow to respond.

TUDUN WADA DANKADAI, Nigeria, October 5 (Compass Direct News) – A Muslim rampage last week in this town in the northern state of Kano resulted in the killing of 10 Christians and the destruction of nine churches, according to eyewitnesses.

Another 61 people were injured and more than 500 displaced in the September 28 disturbance, touched off when Muslim students of Government College-Tudun Wada Dankadai, a public high school, claimed that a Christian student had drawn a cartoon of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, on the wall of the school’s mosque.

Christian students said no one saw the alleged cartoon and that no one in the tiny minority group of Christians would have dared such a feat, especially during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Of the student population of 1,500 at the high school, only 14 are Christians. Seven of them live on campus.

Iliya Adamu, an 18-year-old student at the school, told Compass that he had been preparing to go to class when a group of Muslim students stormed into his dorm and began to beat him.

“I was surprised that they were beating me without telling what I did,” Adamu said. “I asked to know what was happening, and they claimed that one Christian student had gone to their mosque to draw a cartoon of Muhammad. In spite of my denying the act, they kept beating me.”

Adamu said he saw them beating a Christian classmate, Sule La’azaru. Sensing that he would be killed, he ran to the principal’s office to take refuge. Soon the remaining Christian students escaped and joined him in the principal’s office.

Sensing danger, Muslim teachers locked the Christian students in the principal’s office. They were kept there for about 30 minutes before the school principal, Alhaji Garba Wajume, arrived at the chaotic scene.

Disregarding the appeal of their Muslim teachers to calm down, Muslim students began throwing stones at the Christian students through the window of the principal’s office, wounding the head of student Ayuba Wada.

“I was inside the office of our principal, with the others, when suddenly the Muslim students began throwing stones at us,” Wada said. “It was through this way that my head was broken. I was bleeding, and no help came as the situation became more riotous.”

Trapped in the Principal’s Office
The Muslim students eventually broke into the office, but the timely arrival of the principal saved Wada’s life.

Apart from his head wound, Wada also suffered cuts on his legs. He was taken to Hayin Yawa Clinic, where he was treated and smuggled to Doguwa village. Two of his colleagues also were taken to the clinic and subsequently escaped the carnage. The Christian students remaining in the principal’s managed to escape from the Muslim mob unaided.

Christian student Shehu Bawa told Compass that when he arrived at the school that morning, he noticed there were no students on the assembly grounds as there normally would be.

“I then went to my class, however, after about 10 minutes I heard shouts of ‘Allahu Akbar [God is Great]’ all over the school,” he said. “The Muslim students were now attacking every Christian student on sight. Four of us ran into the office of the vice principal, but when it was finally broken into by the Muslim students, we ran out and escaped.”

The Christian students denied that any of them could have drawn a cartoon of Muhammad. “How can we take such a risk when we know that we are a minority and cannot stand [against] them?” Bawa told Compass. “This is a lie created to have a reason to attack us.”

Adamu added that no one saw the alleged cartoon.

“We suspect that either one of the Muslim student in the school did this to create an excuse for us to be attacked, or that a Muslim fanatic from the town might have done this to spark off a fight among Muslims and Christians,” he said. “How could we have done this when Muslim students are always around the mosque day and night because of the Ramadan?”

Having attacked Christian students in the school, Muslim students poured into the streets of Tudun Wada, joined in the mayhem by other Muslims. Burned down churches, vandalized Christian property and unrestrained killings marked the next four hours.

The churches burned included St. Mary’s Catholic Church, St. George’s Anglican Church, Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA), Assemblies of God Church, First Baptist Church, and a Pentecostal church, the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church.

Other churches destroyed by the Muslim militants were an African independent church, the Cherubim and Seraphim Church, and two other Pentecostal churches, The Chosen Bible Church and Deeper Life Bible Church.

Among the 10 Christians murdered were Augustine Odoh and his younger brother Cosmos Odoh, both members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Another Catholic, Joseph Eze, was also killed. At press time, the corpses of the three Catholics were lying at the City Hospital in Kano city.

Seven other Christians killed were buried in a common grave by officials of the government of Kano state on Wednesday (October 3), as government workers did not allow relatives or church leaders to identify the corpses.

Those injured were being treated at the Assumpta Clinic, Nomansland in Sabon Gari area of Kano city.

Musa Ahmadu Haruna, priest of St. George’s Anglican Church, Tudun Wada Dankadai, whose church was burned, told Compass that he believes no Christian student in the school could have drawn an image of Muhammad.

“None of these students is capable of drawing a cartoon on a mosque,” he said. “That is a frame-up to find a reason to attack us.”

Part 2

Town in Flames
Rabiu Danbawa, pastor of area ECWA church, said that when he heard of an outbreak of violence against Christians, he decided to move closer to the town center to see what was happening.

“I stood as they set fire on our churches one by one,” he said.

Danbawa said he helped evacuate a member of his church, Juliana Lawal, on his motorcycle before returning for his own family. By the time he approached his home, the storming Muslims had already set fire to the structure, part of the church building already in flames.

Danbawa said he stood about 500 meters from the church as it burned.

“There was nothing I could do,” he said. “I did not know the fate of my wife and my children. I prayed asked for their protection, even as I did not know whether they were killed in the fire in the church or not. However, a few days later, I found my wife and children safe.”

Danbawa said he went to the police station, only to find the police dispersing the many Christians who had run there to escape the attack.

“We were told to leave, as our safety could not be guaranteed,” he said, in tears. “Women and children all scampered to the bush, only to be attacked by the Muslims who had already hid themselves in the bush awaiting their Christian prey.”

Many Christians, Danbawa said, were killed in the surrounding foliage as they tried escaping. Other Christian victims corroborated this statement.

Danbawa and his family are now refugees in Dogon Kawo village alongside other Christian victims. Other Christians are also taking refuge in Kalgo village. None of them have food or shelter, he said.

Christian survivors of the attack told Compass that their survival was a miracle. While Kano state was the site of religious violence in which hundreds died in 2004, the destruction in Tudun Wada, they said, is unprecedented.

The Rev. Father Emmanuel Koro, parish priest of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in the town, told Compass that Muslim fanatics intent on killing him his hand cut with a machete.

“That I survived this attack is a miracle,” Rev. Koro said. “When I had the cut on my hand and was bleeding, it was not possible for me to do anything. Schoolchildren on the church premises were crying for help from me, but there was nothing I could do. I had to be helped out through a back fence in the parish to escape.”

The slashing of his hand, it turned out, may have saved his life, as it seemed to signal the aborting of a plan to burn Koro alive; they had already poured gas on him, he said, in preparation for doing so. He was rescued and taken to the police station, and then moved to a cathedral in Kano city.

Policemen who are Christians were not spared from attack; the Muslim rowdies attacked about 30 officers and their families, looted their household items and set their rooms on fire. Eyewitnesses said the Muslim fanatics also extended their attacks to Christians living in Kumbarau (Yarkawu) village.

Christian Shops Destroyed
The attack comes on the heels of a call in July by the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar III, to Muslims in northern Nigeria to rise against Christianity. Kano state government has led the implementation of sharia (Islamic) law throughout northern Nigeria.

Haruna of St. George’s Anglican Church estimated property damage at his church alone at 5 million naira (US$40,718). Haruna said that in the carnage, not only churches but Christian businesses were attacked.

“All shops and businesses of Christians were looted and burnt,” he told Compass at Tudun Wada police station. “Christians have been killed, and all homes of Christians burnt too.”

Afiniki Andy Luka, a Christian widow, told Compass at the Tudun Wada police station that she missed the carnage because she was in Kano city.

“I was phoned and told not to come back to the town, but my children were alone in the house,” she said. “God in his way led them through the carnage as they escaped to the police station. I found them among displaced persons the following day.”

Luka said no house belonging to a Christian in town, nor a church, remains – they have all been destroyed.

“There is not a single church standing in this town as they have all been burned,” she said. “I had two shops, but the Muslims looted them and then burned every other thing in them. I have now been forced to become a refugee in my country with no home to stay in, no husband and no means of survival.”

Dr. Chudi Nwoye, medical director of Assumpta Clinic, told Compass that the victims of the crisis have not only been violated but traumatized.

“These people have been dehumanized and traumatized,” Dr. Nwoye said. “Religious conflicts have become recurrent problems in Kano. It is terrible that these victims have been made to experience deep emotional trauma for not committing any wrong.”

He said there is the urgent need at the moment for these Christians to be rehabilitated.

Mark Lipdo, director of the Stefanos Foundation, a ministry to the persecuted in Nigeria, told Compass that it is shocking that the Nigerian government has done nothing to assist the injured and the displaced.

“It is surprising that an overwhelming thing like this that has displaced thousands of Christians is not known to the Nigerian government,” he said, as the government initially downplayed the extent of the tumult. “The government must act to check such unprovoked attacks against Christians.”

Haruna of St. George’s Anglican Church said, “We are living under persecution in Kano state, and yet, we are being told that we are under a democratic government. Do Muslims really want us to co-exist together as a nation? I doubt so.”

26128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: October 07, 2007, 05:52:13 AM
That's a very pertinent passage GM.

At the same time, I must say that some of the following is not without considerable resonance for me-- even if it is from the NY Times. and some not e.g. it appears the NYTimes wants to turn this over to the US legal system.  Also to be noted is that still in contention is to what extent the relevant Congressional committees were informed of this secret information, as is the very relevant fact that Congress's record on keeping secrets is quite often is quasi-treasonous.

On Torture and American Values
Published: October 7, 2007
Once upon a time, it was the United States that urged all nations to obey the letter and the spirit of international treaties and protect human rights and liberties. American leaders denounced secret prisons where people were held without charges, tortured and killed. And the people in much of the world, if not their governments, respected the United States for its values.

The Bush administration has dishonored that history and squandered that respect. As an article on this newspaper’s front page last week laid out in disturbing detail, President Bush and his aides have not only condoned torture and abuse at secret prisons, but they have conducted a systematic campaign to mislead Congress, the American people and the world about those policies.

After the attacks of 9/11, Mr. Bush authorized the creation of extralegal detention camps where Central Intelligence Agency operatives were told to extract information from prisoners who were captured and held in secret. Some of their methods — simulated drownings, extreme ranges of heat and cold, prolonged stress positions and isolation — had been classified as torture for decades by civilized nations. The administration clearly knew this; the C.I.A. modeled its techniques on the dungeons of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Soviet Union.

The White House could never acknowledge that. So its lawyers concocted documents that redefined “torture” to neatly exclude the things American jailers were doing and hid the papers from Congress and the American people. Under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Mr. Bush’s loyal enabler, the Justice Department even declared that those acts did not violate the lower standard of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

That allowed the White House to claim that it did not condone torture, and to stampede Congress into passing laws that shielded the interrogators who abused prisoners, and the men who ordered them to do it, from any kind of legal accountability.

Mr. Bush and his aides were still clinging to their rationalizations at the end of last week. The president declared that Americans do not torture prisoners and that Congress had been fully briefed on his detention policies.

Neither statement was true — at least in what the White House once scorned as the “reality-based community” — and Senator John Rockefeller, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, was right to be furious. He demanded all of the “opinions of the Justice Department analyzing the legality” of detention and interrogation policies. Lawmakers, who for too long have been bullied and intimidated by the White House, should rewrite the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act to conform with actual American laws and values.

For the rest of the nation, there is an immediate question: Is this really who we are?

Is this the country whose president declared, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” and then managed the collapse of Communism with minimum bloodshed and maximum dignity in the twilight of the 20th century? Or is this a nation that tortures human beings and then concocts legal sophistries to confuse the world and avoid accountability before American voters?

Truly banning the use of torture would not jeopardize American lives; experts in these matters generally agree that torture produces false confessions. Restoring the rule of law to Guantánamo Bay would not set terrorists free; the truly guilty could be tried for their crimes in a way that does not mock American values.

Clinging to the administration’s policies will only cause further harm to America’s global image and to our legal system. It also will add immeasurably to the risk facing any man or woman captured while wearing America’s uniform or serving in its intelligence forces.

This is an easy choice.
26129  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA DVD: "DLO 2: Bringing a Gun to a Knife Attack" on: October 06, 2007, 10:34:21 PM
Here's the text from the back of the cover:

In DBMA "Die Less Often 1:  Intro to the Interface of Gun, Knife, and Empty
Hand" we had our FOF (Force On Force) drills take on some of the
characteristics of scenario training wherein the players engage in a
certain amount of acting.  The purpose was to help the viewer get a sense
of situations where "the Interface Paradigm" could arise.

In this DVD we have deliberately limited ourselves to drills which are
intended to isolate the performance of particular physical skills.   We
want people who go through training with us to have an experience of
exactly how much distance they need to ensure for their particular skills
and fitness levels that they can ensure a gun solution to a knife problem-- 
and to recognize when combatives are the first step of the solution.  We
want them to have a sense of how to maximize their odds with a combatives
structure that will enable them to "die less often" when the excrement hits
the fan.  Here focus is on that structure generating the ability to access
the gun (or other weapon).  And-- key point here-- we want the underlying
structure of the gun fighting footwork and angles and the combatives
footwork and angles to be essentially the same thing.  In our opinion, the
adrenal state demands this.

One more point.  The idea is NOT to let yourself get into situations where
you can/have to use these skills.  The purpose of this training is for you
to understand what the odds are FOR YOU and integrate these skills into
your "threat management" accordingly.
26130  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crafty Dog seminars in October: on: October 06, 2007, 09:33:42 PM
Will you have enough space for Porn Star Dog (Brian)?
26131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values on: October 06, 2007, 09:31:05 PM

Distinguish for me please, rooting for us to lose and rooting for our troops to be killed.
26132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: October 06, 2007, 09:26:19 PM
Second post of the day:

This seems worthy of President Bush's intervention:

By Rhonda Erskine
MINNEAPOLIS, MN (NBC) -- When they came home from Iraq, 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard had been deployed longer than any other ground combat unit. The tour lasted 22 months and had been extended as part of President Bush's surge.

1st Lt. Jon Anderson said he never expected to come home to this: A government refusing to pay education benefits he says he should have earned under the GI bill.

"It's pretty much a slap in the face," Anderson said. "I think it was a scheme to save money, personally. I think it was a leadership failure by the senior Washington leadership... once again failing the soldiers."

Anderson's orders, and the orders of 1,161 other Minnesota guard members, were written for 729 days.

Had they been written for 730 days, just one day more, the soldiers would receive those benefits to pay for school.

"Which would be allowing the soldiers an extra $500 to $800 a month," Anderson said.

That money would help him pay for his master's degree in public administration. It would help Anderson's fellow platoon leader, John Hobot, pay for a degree in law enforcement.

"I would assume, and I would hope, that when I get back from a deployment of 22 months, my senior leadership in Washington, the leadership that extended us in the first place, would take care of us once we got home," Hobot said.

Both Hobot and Anderson believe the Pentagon deliberately wrote orders for 729 days instead of 730. Now, six of Minnesota's members of the House of Representatives have asked the Secretary of the Army to look into it -- So have Senators Amy Klobuchar and Norm Coleman.

Klobuchar said the GI money "shouldn't be tied up in red tape," and Coleman said it's "simply irresponsible to deny education benefits to those soldiers who just completed the longest tour of duty of any unit in Iraq."

Anderson said the soldiers he oversaw in his platoon expected that money to be here when they come home.

"I had 23 guys under my command," Anderson said. "I promised to take care of them. And I'm not going to end taking care of them when this deployment is over, and it's not over until this is solved."

The Army did not respond questions Tuesday afternoon.

Senators Klobuchar and Coleman released a joint statement saying the Army secretary, Pete Geren, is looking into this personally, and they say Geren asked a review board to expedite its review so the matter could be solved by next semester.

Minnesota National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Kevin Olson said the soldiers are "victims of a significant injustice."

Source Drudge
26133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: October 06, 2007, 06:28:32 PM
Nice to see the dog get away too , , ,
26134  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Islamismo radical y España on: October 06, 2007, 06:22:57 PM
Yo he leido que Espana tiene una taza de natalidad (birth rate) muy baja, alredor de 1.2.  Pues dado que para mantener un dado nivel de poblacion se requiere 2.1, se ve que la poblacion espanola esta' disminuyendo rapidamente en terminos de tendencias demograficas.  Mientras Espana mantiene sus beneficios sociales (cradle to grave) tan bondadosas, va a requerer que ALGUIEN haga el trabajo; osea Sud Americanos, Africanos , , , y muchos Muselmanes. 

?Como lo ves Cecilio?  ?Va a sobrevivir Espana?
26135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: October 06, 2007, 06:08:26 PM
I'm willing to consider that there may be, , , pardon the expression, some Clintonian parsing of terms here-- or it may be absolutely nothing at all.
26136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: October 06, 2007, 09:29:16 AM
Persian Gulf
Insights into Iran can be gleaned from these masterly works.

Saturday, October 6, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

1. "The Strangling of Persia" by W. Morgan Shuster (Century, 1912).

Iranians tend to believe that their destinies are shaped by powerful forces beyond their reach--and it's not just a collective fantasy. In the early 20th century, control over Persia was brutally exercised by Russia and Britain. Desperate Persian rulers of the time turned to the U.S. to find an expert who could sort out the kingdom's ransacked treasury. The man they chose, W. Morgan Shuster, fell in love with Iran and worked feverishly to introduce virtuous financial practices. He never had a chance; the Russians and Brits sent him packing. "The Strangling of Persia" is a remarkable account of life in a failed, corrupt state and a tale of heartbreak for an American who foolishly believes that he can prevail by force of will and hard work. Lessons for strategists abound.

2. "Know Thine Enemy" by Edward Shirley (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997).

When Reuel Marc Gerecht worked for the CIA as a Middle Eastern specialist (1985-94), the agency would not allow him to venture into Iran. But when he left the CIA to become a scholar (he is a colleague of mine at the American Enterprise Institute), he decided to sneak into the country by hiring a driver and hiding in a padded box on the floor of a truck. In "Know Thine Enemy," written under the pen name Edward Shirley, Mr. Gerecht describes the trip and what he found. "An Iranian can scream 'Death to America!' one moment and ask you sincerely a minute later to help his sister get a visa to the States, a land they both adore," he writes. "Those feelings are not contradictory; they are sequential. Commitments come and go, then return." Given Iranians' similar love-hate feelings about the mullahs who rule them and the West's decadence, he asks: "How do you know when Iranians aren't lying to themselves?" Mr. Gerecht doesn't know. How could he? They themselves don't.

3. "The Adventures of Haji Baba of Ispahan" by James Morier (1824).

James Morier, a British diplomat in Persia in the early 19th century, published "The Adventures of Haji Baba of Ispahan" to great success in 1824. Morier's tale, about a barber's son who seeks his fortune, is a delightful series of encounters that cut to the heart of Iranian society. We see the Chief Executioner explaining to Haji: "Do not suppose that the salary which the Shah gives his servants is a matter of much consideration with them: no, the value of their places depends upon the range of extortion which circumstances may afford, and upon their ingenuity in taking advantage of it." The culture of corruption is little changed in contemporary Iran. And the religious fanaticism that Morier tweaked also echoes down the years: A character named Nadan who wants to become Tehran's religious leader, Morier writes, has no peer "either as a zealous practiser of the ordinances of his religion, or a persecutor of those who might be its enemies."

4. "The Persian Puzzle" by Kenneth M. Pollack (Random House, 2004).

Kenneth M. Pollack spent years at the CIA, then migrated to the National Security Council during Bill Clinton's presidency. Like every other government official who has tried to normalize relations between Iran and the U.S., he came to grief. And like most such failed dreamers, he continued to believe that there must be a way. His odyssey is the best account we have of recent Iranian history and U.S.-Iranian relations. "The Persian Puzzle" is remarkably candid about the illusions and failures of the men and women for whom Mr. Pollack worked--people he often admired.

5. "Prisoner of Tehran" by Marina Nemat (Free Press, 2007).

Marina Nemat was arrested at age 16 in 1982 and held in Tehran's infamous Evin Prison for more than two years, accused of antiregime activity. She was not an activist but a friend of leftists and a Christian. In prison, she was interrogated and tortured, then sentenced to death. But a guard named Ali had fallen in love with her and saved her from execution. She remained in prison, though, and Ali became her husband--as well as a new source of menace when he forced her to convert to Islam by threatening her family. In "Prisoner of Tehran," her gripping, elegantly written memoir, Ms. Nemat, who now lives in Canada, reminds us that it is through the details of daily life that the evils of a regime such as the Islamic Republic are best understood.

Mr. Ledeen is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His latest book, "The Iranian Time Bomb" (St. Martin's), has just been published.

26137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: October 06, 2007, 09:19:47 AM
Published: October 6, 2007
WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 — President Bush, reacting to a Congressional uproar over the disclosure of secret Justice Department legal opinions permitting the harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects, defended the methods on Friday, declaring, “This government does not torture people.”

The remarks, Mr. Bush’s first public comments on the memorandums, came at a hastily arranged Oval Office appearance before reporters. It was billed as a talk on the economy, but after heralding new job statistics, Mr. Bush shifted course to a subject he does not often publicly discuss: a once-secret Central Intelligence Agency program to detain and interrogate high-profile terror suspects.

“I have put this program in place for a reason, and that is to better protect the American people,” the president said, without mentioning the C.I.A. by name. “And when we find somebody who may have information regarding a potential attack on America, you bet we’re going to detain them, and you bet we’re going to question them, because the American people expect us to find out information — actionable intelligence so we can help protect them. That’s our job.”

Without confirming the existence of the memorandums or discussing the explicit techniques they authorized, Mr. Bush said the interrogation methods had been “fully disclosed to appropriate members of Congress.”

But his comments only provoked another round of recriminations on Capitol Hill, as Democrats ratcheted up their demands to see the classified memorandums, first reported Thursday by The New York Times.

“The administration can’t have it both ways,” Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement after the president’s remarks. “I’m tired of these games. They can’t say that Congress has been fully briefed while refusing to turn over key documents used to justify the legality of the program.”

In two separate legal opinions written in 2005, the Justice Department authorized the C.I.A. to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.

The memorandums were written just months after a Justice Department opinion in December 2004 declared torture “abhorrent.”

Administration officials have confirmed the existence of the classified opinions, but will not make them public, saying only that they approved techniques that were “tough, safe, necessary and lawful.”

On Friday, the deputy White House press secretary, Tony Fratto, took The Times to task for publishing the information, saying the newspaper had compromised America’s security.

“I’ve had the awful responsibility to have to work with The New York Times and other news organizations on stories that involve the release of classified information,” Mr. Fratto said. “And I could tell you that every time I’ve dealt with any of these stories, I have felt that we have chipped away at the safety and security of America with the publication of this kind of information.”

The memorandums, and the ensuing debate over them, go to the core of a central theme of the Bush administration: the expansive use of executive power in pursuit of terror suspects.

That theme has been a running controversy on Capitol Hill, where Democrats, and some Republicans, have been furious at the way the administration has kept them out of the loop.

The clash colored Congressional relations with Alberto R. Gonzales, the former attorney general. And by Friday, it was clear that the controversy would now spill over into the confirmation hearings for Michael B. Mukasey, the retired federal judge whom Mr. Bush has nominated to succeed Mr. Gonzales in running the Justice Department.

Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to Mr. Mukasey asking him whether, if confirmed, he would provide lawmakers with the Justice Department memorandums.

And Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat and Judiciary Committee member, said he expected the memorandums would become a central point in the Mukasey confirmation debate.

“When the president says the Justice Department says it’s O.K., he means Alberto Gonzales said it was O.K.,” Mr. Schumer, who has been a vocal backer of Mr. Mukasey, said in an interview.

“Very few people are going to have much faith in that, and we do need to explore that.”

The administration has been extremely careful with information about the C.I.A. program, which had been reported in the news media but was, officially at least, a secret until Mr. Bush himself publicly disclosed its existence in September 2006.

At the time, the president confirmed that the C.I.A. had held 14 high-profile terrorism suspects — including the man thought to be the mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — in secret prisons, but said the detainees had been transferred to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The 2005 Justice Department opinions form the legal underpinning for the program. On Friday, the director of the C.I.A., Gen. Michael V. Hayden also defended the program, in an e-mail message to agency employees.

“The story has sparked considerable comment,” General Hayden wrote, referring to the account in The Times, “including claims that the opinion opened the door to more harsh interrogation tactics and that information about the interrogation methods we actually have used has been withheld from our oversight committees in Congress. Neither assertion is true.”

NY Times
26138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ukraine on: October 06, 2007, 09:17:27 AM
NY Times

PARIS, Oct. 5 — His subjects were mostly children and teenagers at the time, terrified witnesses to mass slaughter. Some were forced to work at the bottom rung of the Nazi killing machine — as diggers of mass graves, cooks who fed Nazi soldiers and seamstresses who mended clothes stripped from the Jews before execution.

"I cannot react to the horrors that pour out. If I react, the stories will stop."
The Rev. Patrick Desbois

They live today in rural poverty, many without running water or heat, nearing the end of their lives. So Patrick Desbois has been quietly seeking them out, roaming the back roads and forgotten fields of Ukraine, hearing their stories and searching for the unmarked common graves. He knows that they are an unparalleled source to document the murder of the 1.5 million Jews of Ukraine, shot dead and buried throughout the country.

He is neither a historian nor an archaeologist, but a French Roman Catholic priest. And his most powerful tools are his matter-of-fact style — and his clerical collar.

The Nazis killed nearly 1.5 million Jews in Ukraine after their invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. But with few exceptions, most notably the 1941 slaughter of nearly 34,000 Jews in the Babi Yar ravine in Kiev, much of that history has gone untold.

Knocking on doors, unannounced, Father Desbois, 52, seeks to unlock the memories of Ukrainian villagers the way he might take confessions one by one in church.

“At first, sometimes, people don’t believe I’m a priest,” said Father Desbois in an interview this week. “I have to use simple words and listen to these horrors — without any judgment. I cannot react to the horrors that pour out. If I react, the stories will stop.”

Over four years, Father Desbois has videotaped more than 700 interviews with witnesses and bystanders and has identified more than 600 common graves of Jews, most of them previously unknown. He also has gathered material evidence of the execution of Jews from 1941 to 1944, the “Holocaust of bullets” as it is called.

Often his subjects ask Father Desbois to stay for a meal and to pray, as if to somehow bless their acts of remembrance. He does not judge those who were assigned to carry out tasks for the Nazis, and Holocaust scholars say that is one reason he is so effective.

“If a Jewish taker-of-testimony comes, what would people think — that this is someone coming to accuse,” said Paul Shapiro, director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. “When a priest comes, people open up. He brings to the subject a kind of legitimacy, a sense that it’s O.K. to talk about the past. There’s absolution through confession.”

Unlike in Poland and Germany, where the Holocaust remains visible through the searing symbols of the extermination camps, the horror in Ukraine was hidden away, first by the Nazis, then by the Soviets.

“There was nothing to see in Ukraine because people were shot to death with guns,” said Thomas Eymond-Laritaz, president of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, Ukraine’s largest philanthropic organization. “That’s why Father Desbois is so important.”

The foundation helped underwrite a conference on the subject at the Sorbonne this week — the first to bring together Western and Ukrainian scholars — and has begun contributing funds to Father Desbois’s project.

Some of the results of Father Desbois’s research — including video interviews, wartime documents, photographs of newly uncovered mass graves, rusty bullets and shell casings and personal possessions of the victims — are on display for the first time at an exhibit at the Memorial of the Shoah in the Marais district of Paris.

The exhibit shows, for example, images of the 15 mass graves of several thousand Jews in a commune called Busk that Father Desbois and his team discovered and began excavating after interviewing several witnesses. Among hundreds of other items on display is a black-and-white photo from 1942 that shows a German police officer shooting naked Jewish women lying in a ravine in the Rivne region.

Traveling with a team that includes two interpreters, a photographer, a cameraman, a ballistics specialist, a mapping expert and a notetaker, Father Desbois records all the stories on video, sometimes holding the microphone himself, and asking questions in simple language and a flat tone.

In Buchach in 2005, Regina Skora told Father Desbois that as a young girl she witnessed executions.

“Did the people know they were going to be killed?” Father Desbois asked her.


“How did they react?”

“They just walked, that’s all. If someone couldn’t walk, they told him to lie on the ground and shot him in the back of the neck.”

Page 2 of 2)

Vera Filonok said she was 16 when she watched from the porch of her mud hut in Konstantinovka in 1941 as thousands of Jews were shot, thrown into a pit and set on fire. Those who were still alive writhed “like flies and worms,” she said.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
In a World War II photograph, a member of a Nazi SS paramilitary group prepared to execute a Ukrainian Jew, one of 1.5 million put to death during the war.

Witness to Genocide ( There are stories of how the Nazis drummed on empty buckets to avoid having to listen to the screams of their victims, how Jewish women were made sex slaves of the Nazis and then executed. One witness said that as a 6-year-old he hid and watched as his best friend was shot to death.

Other witnesses described how the Nazis were allowed only one bullet to the back per victim and that the Jews sometimes were buried alive. “One witness told of how the pit moved for three days, how it breathed,” Father Desbois recalled.

Father Desbois became haunted by the history of the Nazis in Ukraine as a child growing up on the family farm in the Bresse region of eastern France. His paternal grandfather, who was deported to a prison camp for French soldiers in Rava-Ruska, on the Ukrainian side of the Polish border, told the family nothing about the experience. But he confessed to his relentlessly curious grandson, “For us it was bad, for ‘others’ it was worse.”

There were other family links to the German occupation of France. One maternal cousin who carried letters for French resisters perished in a Nazi concentration camp. Father Desbois’s mother told him only recently that the family hid dozens of resisters on the farm.

After teaching mathematics as a French government employee in West Africa and working in Calcutta for three months with Mother Teresa, he joined the priesthood. His secular family was horrified.

He started as a parish priest, studying Judaism and learning Hebrew during a stint in Israel. He asked to work with Gypsies, ex-prisoners or Jews, and was appointed as a bridge to France’s Jewish community.

It was on a tour with a group in 2002 that, visiting Rava-Ruska, he asked the mayor where the Jews were buried. The mayor said he did not know.

“I knew that 10,000 Jews had been killed there, so it was impossible that he didn’t know,” Father Desbois recalled.

The following year, a new mayor took the priest to a forest where about 100 villagers had gathered in a semicircle, waiting to tell their stories and to help uncover the graves buried beneath their feet.

He met other mayors and parish priests who helped find more witnesses. In 2004, Father Desbois created Yahad-In Unum, an organization devoted to Christian-Jewish understanding run from a tiny office in a working-class neighborhood in northeastern Paris, backed and largely financed by a Holocaust foundation in France and the Catholic Church.

To verify witnesses’ testimony, Father Desbois relies heavily on a huge archive of Soviet-era documents housed in the Holocaust museum in Washington, as well as German trial archives. He registers an execution or a grave site only after obtaining three independent accounts from witnesses.

Only one-third of Ukrainian territory has been covered so far, and it will take several more years to finish the research. A notice at the exit of the Paris exhibit asks that any visitor with information about victims of Nazi atrocities in Ukraine leave a note or send an e-mail message.

“People talk as if these things happened yesterday, as if 60 years didn’t exist,” Father Desbois said. “Some ask, ‘Why are you coming so late? We have been waiting for you.’”

26139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Haditha case, NY Times bummed on: October 06, 2007, 09:10:47 AM
Second post of the morning.  Here the NY Slimes' reporter's disappointment is almost palpable.

The Erosion of a Murder Case Against Marines in the Killing of 24 Iraqi Civilians

Published: October 6, 2007
BAGHDAD, Oct. 5 — Last year, when accounts of the killing of 24 Iraqis in Haditha by a group of marines came to light, it seemed that the Iraq war had produced its defining atrocity, just as the conflict in Vietnam had spawned the My Lai massacre a generation ago.

 But on Thursday, a senior military investigator recommended dropping murder charges against the ranking enlisted marine accused in the 2005 killings, just as he had done earlier in the cases of two other marines charged in the case. The recommendation may well have ended prosecutors’ chances of winning any murder convictions in the killings of the apparently unarmed men, women and children.

In the recent case, against Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, the investigator recommended that he be charged with negligent homicide if the case moved ahead to court-martial. In the other two cases, the investigator recommended dropping all charges.

Experts in military justice say the Haditha prosecutions were compromised by several factors having to do with the quality of the evidence, including a delayed investigation and the decision to conduct hearings in the United States, far from the scene of the killings and possible Iraqi witnesses.

The cases also reflect the particular views of Lt. Col. Paul J. Ware, who presided over the hearings and concluded that all three cases lacked sufficient evidence. He made clear in his recommendations to the commander who ultimately decides the cases that he felt that the killings should be considered in context — that of a war zone where the enemy ruthlessly employed civilians as cover.

Perhaps nothing handicapped military prosecutors more than the delay in investigating the killings, on Nov. 19, 2005, because battalion officers initially decided the case did not require an inquiry. The attack began after a roadside bombing of the marines’ convoy killed a comrade; led by Sergeant Wuterich, a group of marines then killed 24 people over several hours. Nineteen of the 24 were killed in their homes.

By the time the Marine Corps announced murder charges against the infantrymen, 13 months had passed. Evidence vanished, witnesses evaporated and memories paled.

Those problems with collecting evidence were further complicated because Haditha remained a combat zone. When forensic experts traveled there last year to interview family members of those killed, heavily armed Marine infantrymen had to guard them, and even then, insurgent fire forced the investigators to abandon the scene after an hour.

Beyond that, Islamic custom dictates that families bury their dead within hours. Relatives of those killed in Haditha refused American requests to exhume the bodies for forensic analysis.

In addition, the collection of evidence was hurt by the decision to hold evidentiary hearings for the marines in the Haditha case at Camp Pendleton, Calif., rather than in Baghdad, where some other cases have been heard.

“In the Vietnam era, you often had the lawyers, the witnesses, the scene, the victims’ families — you had them right there,” said Gary D. Solis, a former Marine judge who teaches the laws of war at Georgetown University Law Center. “If you happened to have a witness who had rotated back to the United States, you could call them back.”

In the end, in Colonel Ware’s view, expressed in dozens of pages of analysis and opinion in his reports on all three cases, the Haditha prosecutors failed to amass enough evidence to win a conviction.

In his latest report, in which he recommended dismissing 10 murder charges against Sergeant Wuterich and reducing seven others to negligent homicide, Colonel Ware wrote that the evidence presented to him “is simply not strong enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”

He made similar conclusions in his reports on the cases against two other infantrymen for whom he urged the dismissal of all charges: Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt, whose murder charges were subsequently thrown out by the commanding general overseeing the case, and Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum, who is still waiting to hear the general’s decision. Commanders usually follow investigators’ recommendations.

“When you have an investigating officer like Ware, who says ‘don’t go there if you can’t prove,’” your case, Mr. Solis said, “we’re left with what appear to be very reduced charges.” He added: “He’s aggressive, and he seems to make his judgments without regard for anything but the law. He must know that people — civilians, primarily — are going to howl about this, but that doesn’t seem to be a concern.”

Other military law experts also noted that in his two reports on the charges against Lance Corporals Sharratt and Tatum, Colonel Ware revealed a willingness to give the men the benefit of the doubt, and to consider the impact of the prosecutions on the morale of troops still fighting in Iraq.

“It does surprise me to see that the killing of seven women and children by grenades and rifles, for the purposes of clearing structures, is being treated the way this investigating officer has treated it,” said Eugene R. Fidell, an expert in military law in Washington.

In an unusual departure from the analysis of the facts in Lance Corporal Sharratt’s case, Colonel Ware warned that putting marines on trial for murder without having the evidence to prove it could “erode public support of the Marine Corps and mission in Iraq.”

Michael F. Noone, a law professor at Catholic University and a retired Air Force lawyer, said Colonel Ware was right to assume that rulings in the Haditha cases might have an impact on the overall war effort. Last week, he noted, testimony in a Baghdad military murder trial suggested that an Army sniper, a member of one of the most highly trained infantry units, had planted evidence on the remains of a dead fighter — as insurance against second-guessing.

“That’s somebody who doesn’t trust the system,” Professor Noone said. “Do you want kids out there representing the United States who don’t think they’re going to be treated fairly?”

More Articles in International »
26140  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Marion Jones on: October 06, 2007, 09:04:05 AM
Jones Admits to Doping and Enters Guilty Plea
NY Times
Published: October 6, 2007
WHITE PLAINS, Oct. 5 — On the day she admitted publicly to using performance-enhancing drugs, the former Olympic track champion Marion Jones wept Friday as she stood on the steps of the United States District Courthouse here and apologized for her mistakes.

"You have the right to be angry with me," Marion Jones told supporters in an emotional speech on the steps of the courthouse.

Inside the courtroom, she did not waver when confessing in a strong voice to Judge Kenneth M. Karras that she had made false statements in two separate government investigations: the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative case and a check-fraud case based out of the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.

Jones repeatedly answered the judge’s questions by saying, “Yes, I understand,” as he explained the ramifications of her guilty plea. The prosecutors have recommended a sentence of no more than six months, according to the agreement. The maximum sentence is five years.

She will be sentenced in January. The International Olympic Committee has indicated it will not wait until then to move to strip her of the five medals she won — including three gold — at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. With her performance that summer, she became the first woman to win five medals in track and field at the same Olympics.

Jones, 31, was released after yielding her United States passport and promising to yield her passport from Belize, her mother’s native country. But in her emotional speech outside the courthouse, she made it clear that she believed she had lost far more.

“It is with a great amount of shame that I stand before you and tell you that I have betrayed your trust,” she said, referring to her fans and supporters. She added: “You have the right to be angry with me. I have let them down, I have let my country down and I have let myself down.”

She also announced she was retiring from track and field. Jones recently married the sprinter Obadele Thompson from Barbados and now goes by the name Jones-Thompson. She has two children, one with Thompson and the other from a relationship with the former sprinter Tim Montgomery.

Her guilty plea, as well as her admission in court that she used performance-enhancing drugs provided by her former coach Trevor Graham, were big developments in the government’s case against Graham for making false statements to federal agents. Graham’s trial is scheduled to begin in November.

Jones said in court that from September 2000 until July 2001, Graham gave her a substance he told her was flaxseed oil. But after she stopped training with him in 2001, she said she realized it had been a performance-enhancing drug. By the time she was interviewed in the Balco investigation in November 2003, Jones said, she knew it was the designer steroid THG, known as the clear. But she had denied recognizing the substance and denied taking it in that Balco interview.

“Both were lies,” Jones said.

She similarly admitted lying to federal officials investigating the bank-fraud case in two separate interviews in August and September 2006. At that time, she denied receiving a fraudulent $25,000 check that she had endorsed and denied knowing about the involvement of Montgomery.

Perhaps the biggest consequences of Jones’s sworn statements in court will be the damage they do to Graham, who has repeatedly denied providing his athletes with performance-enhancing drugs.

If Jones is called to testify at Graham’s trial, she can no longer invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination because she waived that with her guilty plea.

“The federal government will vigorously prosecute individuals who provide false statements to its agents,” Scott N. Schools, the interim United States attorney in the Northern District of California, said in a written statement. “Individuals who lie to federal agents interfere with the government’s ability to investigate criminal conduct and undermine the efficiency of government investigations.”

Telephone messages left for Graham’s lawyers were not returned.

The twist to Jones’s downfall is that it was triggered by her involvement in the bank-fraud scheme. E. Danya Perry, an assistant United States attorney, told the judge there was ample evidence, including Jones’s signature on the $25,000 check and the testimony of other defendants in the case, many of whom have already pleaded guilty.

Jones admitted to lying to investigators from the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the United States attorney’s office in interviews on Aug. 2 and Sept. 5, 2006.

The strength of the government’s evidence in that case was used to persuade Jones to plead guilty to the false statements to the Balco investigators.

Travis Tygart, the chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, said he applauded the cooperation between the government lawyers in the two cases.

“It’s bittersweet,” Tygart said. “Any time you watch a potential American hero admit to cheating us, sports fans, people that watch the Olympic Games, it’s bittersweet. Clean athletes, who do it right, who play by the rules and honorably, have a sense of vindication today.”

Last year, Jones fell under renewed drug-testing scrutiny when she tested positive for the blood-boosting drug EPO. The test was not pursued, however, when the B sample was negative for the drug and did not corroborate the A sample. After that, Jones defiantly denied ever having used drugs.

Tygart said Usada, which has had a case open against Jones for several years, would continue investigating and perhaps seek to take away Jones’s Olympic medals.

The Olympic sports community reacted with firm condemnation of Jones.

“Her admission is long overdue and underscores the shame and dishonor that are inherent with cheating,” the United States Olympic Committee chairman, Peter Ueberroth, said in a statement. “As further recognition of her complicity in this matter, Ms. Jones should immediately step forward and return the Olympic medals she won while competing in violation of the rules.”

The more immediate issue, though, was Jones’s role in the continuation of the Balco case, which had seen few developments in recent months.

The case has resulted in the guilty pleas of six others: Balco’s founder and president, Victor Conte Jr.; James Valente, the former vice president of Balco; Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds’s former trainer; Remi Korchemny, a track coach; Patrick Arnold, a chemist; and Troy Ellerman, a defense lawyer.

The cyclist Tammy Thomas, who also denied using steroids, was charged last year with three counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice. No trial date has been set.

Bonds, baseball’s career home run leader, remains under investigation on the suspicion that he lied to a federal grand jury about his use of steroids. Anderson is in jail for contempt of court for refusing to testify about Bonds.
26141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 06, 2007, 08:55:48 AM
Ted Koppel, even though he often let his Democrat preferences show, always impressed me.  Here's this on what he's doing now:

“Nightline” had its privileges, one being that viewers knew just where to find Ted Koppel during his quarter-century tenure there.

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He’s now nearly two years removed from the program that made his name. But Mr. Koppel no doubt is still being discovered on the Discovery Channel, a comparative wilderness where he can indulge himself in the extended documentaries that long ago roamed free on broadcast television.

His latest two-hour effort, “Koppel on Discovery: Breaking Point,” is a report on the “overloaded and understaffed” California prison system. Escapist TV it’s not. And it will be tough to get much traction opposite the likes of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” and NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”

Mr. Koppel’s efforts are no less valuable, though. This is television journalism the way it was drawn up in some mythical Edward R. Murrow playbook. Pertinent, eye-opening information is imparted. Individual stories flesh it out. All sides are heard. The correspondent is visibly involved yet unobtrusive. What a concept.

“Breaking Point” focuses on California State Prison, Solano, in Vacaville, where a onetime indoor basketball court is now H Dorm. Designed for 200 inmates, it houses more than 340. They’re stacked three bunks high in a cauldron rife with “drama and politics,” Mr. Koppel says.

“It’s about turf and protection, drugs, weapons and prostitution,” he continues. “It’s a rigid code of segregation along ethnic and racial lines. And most of all it’s about gangs.”

All told, a California prison system built to hold 100,000 inmates is bursting with 173,000, Mr. Koppel says. Each prisoner costs taxpayers $43,000 annually. Many are repeat offenders serving mandatory sentences of 25 years to life as part of the “three strikes and you’re out” law.

The impetus for that legislation was the 1993 kidnapping, rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl, Polly Klaas, by a man who had just been paroled from prison. Mr. Koppel interviews her father, Marc Klaas, identified as a “victims’ advocate,” who has an understandable enmity toward violent criminals.

“As far as I’m concerned, you can stack these guys like cordwood,” Mr. Klaas says. “And you can keep them locked away forever.”

Many of the long-term inmates were not convicted of violent crimes, however.

One is Joey Mason, who says he voted in favor of the three strikes law before being convicted of a nonviolent burglary. He has since been imprisoned two more times for the same offense and is not eligible for parole until 2019. Believe him or not, though, Mr. Mason tells Mr. Koppel he’s a changed man.

“I really believe I’d be a better taxpayer than a tax taker,” he says.

“Breaking Point” is divided into chapters, and one of the more striking is called “Powder Keg.”

“Race guides every aspect of prison life,” Mr. Koppel tells viewers before inmates and prison officials back him up. Cellmates are invariably of the same race by design. Prisoners eat and share food only with their own kind. Fights are almost always between inmates of different races. No one, inmates say, wants to be branded a “race traitor.”

“It is as rigid a form of segregation as ever existed in this country,” Mr. Koppel says.

A recent court order has mandated that California prisons be integrated. An inmate named Darren Doucette, among others, isn’t in favor of that.

“I think it’s bad,” he tells Mr. Koppel, “because someone’s son’s gonna die.”

There are some bright spots, too. The chapter “Graduation Day” is surprisingly moving, with a relative handful of inmates proudly wearing caps and gowns to receive their G.E.D. diplomas. Friends and relatives applaud after a prison official intones, “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the spring 2007 graduating class.”

Mr. Koppel quickly adds, “Keep in mind that these inmates are the exception.”

“Breaking Point” is exceptional. Real-life looks at prison life generally aren’t crowd-pleasers, even if fictional depictions often are. But Mr. Koppel and his longtime executive producer, Tom Bettag, have fought another good fight on behalf of in-depth television journalism about a subject of true import.

Ed Bark, a former television critic for The Dallas Morning News, is now proprietor of the television Web site
26142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: October 06, 2007, 08:51:33 AM
Caveat lector, its the NY Times.  That said, as Commander in Chief, the ultimate responsibility on this matter does fall to the President.

Published: October 6, 2007
It’s more painfully clear that wounded soldiers who seek disability care and benefits face bureaucratic chaos worthy of an infernal ring from Dante. Seven months after news accounts detailed the appalling neglect of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, Congressional investigators have found promised repairs already lagging at the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs.

It still takes almost half a year for the average veteran’s claim for disability benefits to be decided in a tortuous process that can involve four separate hearings. The promised pilot program to make a single efficient system out of dueling military and veterans bureaucracies — the knotty heart of a mammoth backlog running into hundreds of thousand of cases — should have begun last month. Now the promise is slipping into next year. At the same time, the Army’s plan for creating special “warrior transition units” to deliver more personalized care at 32 national centers is bedeviled by staff shortages that mean close to half of the eligible troops are unable to get the service.

A dozen Congressional and executive agencies and blue-ribbon commissions are investigating. Unfortunately, there has been no comparable surge of creativity or commitment from the White House.

Worthy remedies are being proposed. The latest is from a Congressionally created commission that is urging wholesale changes in the veterans’ benefit system, which hasn’t been modernized since 1945. Chief among its recommendations is that the signature disabilities of the current war — severe brain damage and the post traumatic stress syndrome already afflicting 45,000 veterans — be accorded top priority for improvement. The commission is also recommending an immediate increase of up to 25 percent in benefits — above economic disability payments — for the lost quality of life that scarred veterans suffer.

With the number of wounded mounting daily, the White House needs to fix these problems. For many veterans, their disabilities will endure their remaining lifetimes, outlasting the politicians who now proclaim them heroes while shortchanging them in the care and support they desperately need.

26143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 06, 2007, 08:25:41 AM
A quick historical review of some inconvenient facts:
26144  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crafty Dog seminars in October: on: October 05, 2007, 11:28:05 PM
Let me see if I can get you included with my ride to Manassas. Please email me your phone numbers.
26145  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Protección civil familiar y personal on: October 05, 2007, 09:10:53 PM
Tambien es importante hablar con su familia sobre que ellos pueden hacer para hacerte mas facil cumplir con tu papel como protector. 

Por ejemplo, aunque a mi esposa no le interesa para nada entrenar, ella sabe caminar mi lado que no tiene cuchillo y que si haya problema ponerse atras de mi con una mano en la parte inferior de mi espalda, lo cual me dira' que ella este alli sin que yo necesite voltear (girar?) mi cabeza para verla con mis ojos, y mantenerse alli' aun cuando necesito yo girar para dar cara al problema.
26146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 05, 2007, 07:31:23 PM
Second (or third?) post of the day:

Iraq: Increasing Frictions Between Baghdad and Arbil

Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein Shahristani said Oct. 5 that oil companies that sign contracts with Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will be blacklisted and prevented from working in Iraq. At the same time, Arab newspapers are reporting that the KRG is actively reversing the demographics in Iraq's oil-rich city of Kirkuk by monetarily compensating Arab families to relocate. The tug-of-war over Kirkuk carries significant implications for foreign companies with investments in northern Iraq, and the struggle will escalate in the coming months.


Arab newspapers report that Kurdish parties in Iraq are working to reverse the demographics of Kirkuk by paying Arabs to relocate. Arabs leaving Kirkuk are being paid approximately $16,248 per family to leave the city, according to Dubai-based Gulf News.

The process of "Kurdifying" the ancient, multiethnic and oil-rich city of Kirkuk has been going on for awhile and is, for Iraqi Kurds, a vital step toward financial independence. Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq's Sunni and Shiite factions all have a vested interest in making sure Kirkuk's oil wealth does not officially fall under the Kurds' control, however, and are actively working to settle more Arabs in the city in order to shift the demographics back in their favor.

This tug-of-war over Kirkuk will intensify in the coming months as the constitutional deadline approaches. Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution stipulates that the final status of Kirkuk and other disputed areas is supposed to be settled in a local referendum by the end of 2007. For the referendum to take place, Kirkuk must first be demographically "normalized" and a census must be conducted. But Iraq's central government has put enough obstacles in place to prevent the census from being taken.

Despite rhetoric to the contrary, Iraqi Kurdish officials have privately resigned themselves to the fact that the referendum very likely will not be held by the end of the year. Holding the referendum would lead to a nightmarish security situation, including the potential for a Turkish military intervention in northern Iraq. Jihadist attacks in northern Iraq also have increased over the past year, and as the Kirkuk issue flares up, militant activity in the North will escalate and will likely have the support of Iraq's neighbors. And the United States is simply unwilling to further destabilize its relations with Ankara and its delicate negotiations with Iraq's Sunni and Shiite factions by meeting Kurdish demands to hold the referendum.

But the Kurds have other means to secure the oil-rich city. Kurdish officials are stepping up efforts to both hand out compensation checks to Arab families to leave and bring more Kurdish families back to the city. Data on how many Arabs have accepted compensation and left Kirkuk vary wildly; Arab estimates show that more than 1,000 families have relocated, while Kurdish figures put the number at 9,450. That these families have actually left cannot be confirmed, but if the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) can make enough progress in the Kirkuk normalization process, it can attempt to proceed with the referendum when it feels the timing is appropriate.

The failure to hold the Kirkuk referendum by year's end would carry significant implications for energy investment in northern Iraq. Breaking Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution would undermine the constitution's validity in the eyes of Kurdish officials, particularly when they face resistance over the signing of energy contracts without central government approval. In other words, if a constitutionally mandated referendum cannot take place, why should the constitution restrict the KRG's energy deals with foreign companies?

While Baghdad has been boiling, the KRG has been signing oil contracts with foreign energy companies, including Norway's DNO, Texas-based Hunt Oil Co., Canada's Heritage Oil Corp. and France's Perenco, as well as two other international oil companies whose names will be revealed in approximately two weeks by the KRG.

The Iraqi central government is fighting back against the KRG, however. Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein Shahristani, a Shi'i with close ties to Tehran, said Oct. 5 that any oil companies that sign contracts with the KRG will be blacklisted and prevented from working in Iraq. The oil companies with contracts in the North do not currently have projects elsewhere in Iraq, but this is a dangerous escalation between Arbil -- the seat of the KRG -- and Baghdad. Foreign oil majors will now have to think twice before pursuing lucrative energy investments in Iraq's most stable region in the North, especially when they consider that Iraq's southern -- albeit insurgent-wracked -- region has three times as much oil waiting to be extracted.

Foreign oil companies in Iraq also will have to grapple with the fact that, even if they invest in energy exploration and production in the North, the KRG will still need permission from Baghdad to transport oil out of the country. The oil extracted in the short term can supply domestic consumption in the North, but anything beyond that also will involve the good graces of Ankara, which will be difficult to come by since Turkey has its own incentives to keep the Kurds contained and strapped for cash. Iran also has demonstrated the ease with which it can constrain the Kurds by closing its border in the North.

The KRG already has given up on holding the Kirkuk referendum on time, in the interest of maintaining stability in the region and safeguarding foreign investment in Iraqi Kurdistan. But with the Kurds' rivals holding a number of potent levers to keep them constrained, the foreign investment the KRG has strived to protect also runs the risk of coming under attack.

26147  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMA DVD: "DLO 2: Bringing a Gun to a Knife Attack" on: October 05, 2007, 07:10:23 PM
The formal clip will be up on the front page in a day or three, but until then here's the promo clip:

26148  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Did Filipino Martial Arts Revolutionize Boxing? on: October 05, 2007, 07:08:14 PM
26149  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crafty Dog seminars in October: on: October 05, 2007, 07:06:58 PM

I fly into DC for the seminar so it can't be too far.  Hey! If you pick me up at the airport, we could catch up on things during the drive to Manassas  cool

26150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Epidemics: Bird Flu, TB, etc on: October 05, 2007, 03:19:04 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The H5N1 bird flu virus has mutated to infect people more easily, although it still has not transformed into a pandemic strain, researchers said on Thursday.

The changes are worrying, said Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"We have identified a specific change that could make bird flu grow in the upper respiratory tract of humans," said Kawaoka, who led the study.

"The viruses that are circulating in Africa and Europe are the ones closest to becoming a human virus," Kawaoka said.

Recent samples of virus taken from birds in Africa and Europe all carry the mutation, Kawaoka and colleagues report in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Pathogens.

"I don't like to scare the public, because they cannot do very much. But at the same time it is important to the scientific community to understand what is happening," Kawaoka said in a telephone interview.

The H5N1 avian flu virus, which mostly infects birds, has since 2003 infected 329 people in 12 countries, killing 201 of them. It very rarely passes from one person to another, but if it acquires the ability to do so easily, it likely will cause a global epidemic.

All flu viruses evolve constantly and scientists have some ideas about what mutations are needed to change a virus from one that infects birds easily to one more comfortable in humans.

Birds usually have a body temperature of 106 degrees F, and humans are 98.6 degrees F usually. The human nose and throat, where flu viruses usually enter, is usually around 91.4 degrees F.

"So usually the bird flu doesn't grow well in the nose or throat of humans," Kawaoka said. This particular mutation allows H5N1 to live well in the cooler temperatures of the human upper respiratory tract.

H5N1 caused its first mass die-off among wild waterfowl in 2005 at Qinghai Lake in central China, where hundreds of thousands of migratory birds congregate.
That strain of the virus was carried across Asia to Africa and Europe by migrating birds. Its descendants carry the mutation, Kawaoka said.

"So the viruses circulating in Europe and Africa, they all have this mutation. So they are the ones that are closer to human-like flu," Kawaoka said.
Luckily, they do not carry other mutations, he said.

"Clearly there are more mutations that are needed. We don't know how many mutations are needed for them to become pandemic strains."
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