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26701  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 28, 2007, 07:02:45 PM
IRAN, ISRAEL, SYRIA: Informed sources have confirmed that retired Iranian Gen. Ali Reza Asghari, who defected in February, gave Israel the intelligence on Syria's missile program needed for the Syrian airstrike Sept. 6. Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jeerada reported earlier that Asghari was the source of information for the airstrike. Asghari is a former aide to the Iranian defense minister and a retired general who served for a long time in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
stratfor
26702  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 28, 2007, 06:29:07 PM
Democrats and Iran
Hillary outsmarts her dovish competition.

Friday, September 28, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Kudos to Hillary Clinton--yes, you read that right--for her Senate vote this week urging the U.S. to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization. That's more than can be said for her primary competition of Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson and John Edwards, who assailed her on this score at Wednesday's Democratic Presidential candidates debate at Dartmouth. These are men who seem to fear the Netroots more than the mullahs.

Mrs. Clinton's vote was on a symbolic amendment offered by Connecticut maverick Joe Lieberman and Republicans Jon Kyl and Norm Coleman. After marshaling the evidence of Iran's terrorist activities in Iraq, the amendment stated that "it is a critical national interest of the United States to prevent [Iran] from turning Shi'a militia into a Hezbollah-like force that could serve its interests inside Iraq." Twenty-one Democrats, including Joe Biden and John Kerry, apparently found this too shocking to support and voted nay, as did Republicans Chuck Hagel and Dick Lugar.

We probably shouldn't complain when 76 Senators, including a majority of Democrats, show some foreign-policy sense. Still, it's telling that the Democrats only agreed to the amendment after demanding that its language be edited to remove a statement that "it should be the policy of the United States to stop inside Iraq the violent activities and destabilizing influence" of Iran. Also left on the cutting-room floor, under Democratic duress, was a call "to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq" with respect to Iran and its proxies.

The mullahs are supplying the shaped-explosive charges to Shiite militias that are killing or maiming Americas in Iraq. But these Senators are afraid even to suggest that the U.S. might use some kind of military force to save the lives of American soldiers. And they want to be Commander in Chief?

At Dartmouth, Mrs. Clinton defended her vote by noting that it "gives us the options to be able to impose sanctions on the primary leaders to try to begin to put some teeth into all this talk about dealing with Iran." That's right. With Americans having just had a Close Encounter of the Third Kind with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it's no surprise that her relative hawkishness is only widening her primary lead.


WSJ
26703  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: September 28, 2007, 05:31:18 PM
Max

Phil's rant probably would have been better posted on the immigration thread.  Although I certainly agree with the general gist of many of the points made, I found the general tone and some of the phrasing in particular to be over the top with undertones that I didn't really care for.

It is quite possible to be for our defending our borders, our laws, etc. without hating Mexicans.  My own in experience in Mexico is rather extensive and overwhelmingly quite favorable.

Marc
26704  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 28, 2007, 04:49:53 PM
While opposing the Israeli invasion of Lebanon last year is within the range of reasonable points of view (for the record, as recorded elsewhere on this forum I supported the invasion as being forced by the attacks on Israel), the comment about Jihad here in America is not.  Another moderate Muslim turns out not to be as billed.


Kaine Appointee Advocates 'the Jihad Way'

September 27, 2007 - 2:58pm

Editor's Note: This story contains video from YouTube. Please click on the link in the story or in the left-hand column to watch.
By BOB LEWIS
Associated Press Writer

RICHMOND, Va. - A member of the state's Commission of Immigration resigned Thursday, a few hours after Gov. Timothy M. Kaine was told about online videos showing the appointee condemning Israel and advocating "the jihad way."

Kaine learned of the videos from a caller to his live monthly radio program and accepted the resignation of Dr. Esam S. Omeish about three hours later.

"Dr. Omeish is a respected physician and community leader, yet I have been made aware of certain statements he has made which concern me," Kaine said in a press statement announcing the resignation.

Kaine said Omeish resigned because he did not want the controversy to distract from the work of the 20-member commission appointed to study the effects of immigration and federal immigration policies on Virginia.
Omeish, the president of the Muslim American Society, is shown in a video on YouTube denouncing the invasion of Lebanon during that time by the "Israeli war machine" during an Aug. 12, 2006, rally in Washington.
Omeish, chief of the division of general surgery at INOVA Alexandria Hospital, also accused Israel of genocide and massacres against Palestinians and said the "Israeli agenda" controls Congress.

In a separate, undated video made, Omeish tells a crowd of Washington-area Muslims, "...you have learned the way, that you have known that the jihad way is the way to liberate your land."

That video was credited to Investigative Project, a Washington-based organization that investigates radical Islamic organizations.
Omeish did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
26705  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Water drying up in China on: September 28, 2007, 04:43:28 PM
The ecology situation in China seems to be quite grim on many fronts.  That was a good piece, thank you.  Please refresh my memory as to what WTS does- itis down to 30 from a high of 40 in the last five months.

26706  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Saudi Arabia on: September 27, 2007, 05:54:46 PM
Not the war, but a bit of background context:

SAUDI ARABIA: The World Bank on Sept. 25 recognized Saudi Arabia as one of the top global reformers in its annual "Ease of Doing Business" report. Recent reforms in Saudi Arabia improved the kingdom's position from 38th to 23rd in the 178-country ranking. The report calls Saudi Arabia the best place to do business in the entire Middle East and Arab world, ahead of Kuwait (ranked 40th in the world) and the United Arab Emirates (ranked 68th). The Saudi kingdom has made huge strides since 2003 to attract investment, motivated largely by Riyadh's need to engage in damage control after the 9/11 attacks. But the law of unintended consequences is creating another dynamic in the country; reforms to the financial and economic sectors have spilled over into civil society, where Saudis are demanding more freedoms. The challenge for the Saudi government is to maintain power while pushing ahead with reforms, which will not be limited to the money markets.

stratfor.com
26707  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Peru on: September 27, 2007, 05:51:38 PM
U.S./PERU: The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee approved a free trade agreement (FTA) with Peru on Sept. 25. The accord was passed in a "mock" hearing that gave legislators a chance to offer amendments to the deal before its submission to Congress for a formal vote. No amendments were suggested. Congress now has 90 days to approve or reject the agreement without filibuster or changes to the deal. The Senate Finance Committee gave its initial approval to a draft of the agreement Sept. 21. FTA talks between the United States and Peru were concluded nearly two years ago; Peru ratified the agreement in 2006, but the deal has languished in the U.S. legislature amid concerns related to labor and environmental conditions in the South American country. Peru made changes to the deal in June and has since lobbied heavily for U.S. approval. The passage of Peru's FTA is particularly significant because Washington is facing political obstacles to the approval of two other proposed FTAs with Latin American countries Colombia and Panama.

stratfor.com
26708  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: September 27, 2007, 03:10:18 PM
Second post of the day:

WSJ

Bush and Iran
Tehran has been told it will pay a price for killing Americans, but it never has.

Thursday, September 27, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

The traveling Mahmoud Ahmadinejad circus made for great political theater this week, but the comedy shouldn't detract from its brazen underlying message: The Iranian President believes that the world lacks the will to stop Iran from pursuing its nuclear program, and that the U.S. also can't stop his country from killing GIs in Iraq. The question is what President Bush intends to do about this in his remaining 16 months in office.

Over the last five years, Mr. Bush has issued multiple and sundry warnings to Iran. In early 2002, he cautioned Iran that "if they in any way, shape or form try to destabilize the [Afghan] government, the coalition will deal with them, in diplomatic ways initially." In mid-2003, following revelations about the extent of Iran's secret nuclear programs, he insisted the U.S. "will not tolerate the construction of a nuclear weapon."

In January of this year, as evidence mounted that Iran was supplying sophisticated, armor-penetrating munitions to Shiite militias in Iraq, Mr. Bush was tougher still: "We will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."

In February, he added that "I can speak with certainty that the Qods Force, a part of the Iranian government, has provided these sophisticated IEDs that have harmed our troops." And as recently as this month's TV speech on Iraq, the President alerted Americans to the "destructive ambitions of Iran" and warned the mullahs that their efforts to "undermine [Iraq's] government must stop."

We belabor this rhetorical record because it so clearly contrasts with how little the Administration has done about it. As with Syria, the Bush Administration has repeatedly told Iran that it would have to pay a price for its hostile behavior while in the end demanding no such price. This undermines U.S. diplomacy, but in the case of GIs in Iraq it is worse: It means the Commander in Chief is letting an enemy kill Americans with impunity. And the Iranians have got the message: Mr. Ahmadinejad felt confident enough to declare this week at the U.N. that the issue of its nuclear program was "closed."
From 2003 to 2005, Mr. Bush outsourced his Iran policy to France, Germany and Britain, which wooed Tehran with trade concessions, security guarantees and promises of technical assistance. Iran rejected those offers, as it did a Russian proposal to enrich uranium on its own soil--but not without drawing out talks as long as possible.

The Administration finally succeeded in having Iran's Non-Proliferation Treaty violations referred to the U.N. Security Council in 2006, though by then Iran had mastered the technology of enriching uranium in a "cascade" of centrifuges. Many nuclear analysts consider this the point of no return toward a bomb. Intelligence reports also suggested that Iran had designs for casting uranium into hemispherical shapes--essential for making a bomb--and for marrying a nuclear warhead to a ballistic missile.

So far there have been two "binding" U.N. resolutions on Iran's nuclear project, both notable mainly for their weakness. When Resolution 1747 passed this March, U.S. officials said the Security Council would move quickly to the next round. Instead, it has done nothing, even as Iran has moved to install industrial-scale (3,000-plus centrifuge) enrichment facilities.

The U.S. has also exerted some financial pressure on Iran, in part by pressing European companies to scale back their investments. This is useful, but only on the margins. The U.S. is now talking with France and others on developing sanctions outside the U.N., to avoid a Russian or Chinese veto. But these sanctions will apparently not include an embargo on Iran's imports of refined gasoline, which account for 40% of its domestic consumption.

The failure to act is similar regarding Iran's support for terror in Iraq. As early as August 2003, Paul Bremer noted Iran's "irresponsible conduct" in Iraq's affairs. In 2005, even Time magazine was reporting "Inside Iran's Secret War for Iraq." It was not until last summer that the U.S. began taking any kind of action against Iranian operatives in Iraq, most of them working under diplomatic cover.

This month U.S. forces arrested Mahmudi Farhadi, whose job description, according to the Iranian government, is head of "cross-border commercial transactions" for the western Iranian province of Kermanshah. Translation: Mr. Farhadi smuggles IEDs into Iraq. Wire reports say Mr. Farhadi's arrest is only the third such action against Iranian nationals this year.

According to information from an Iranian opposition group with a record of being right, Iran's Qods (Jerusalem) Force operates under the aegis of the Al-Najaf Al-Ashraf Al-Saqafieh Establishment, based in Najaf and run by Iranian mullah Hamid Hosseini. Arms deliveries are organized by a group called the "Headquarters for Reconstruction of Iraq's Holy Sites." Iran orchestrates these efforts from the Fajr Base, in the Iranian city of Ahwaz.

Administration officials tell us that Iranian-backed militias using Iranian-supplied arms now account for 70% of U.S. casualties in Iraq. U.S. forces also recently intercepted a shipment of shaped explosive devices that Iran was smuggling to insurgents in Afghanistan. This is at least the third time such shipments have been seized by coalition forces. Dan McNeill, NATO's senior commander in Kabul, notes that "it would be hard for me to imagine that they come into Afghanistan without the knowledge of at least the military in Iran."

The Administration seemed prepared last month to name the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (which runs the Qods Force) as a terrorist organization, a designation that would be amply justified. But once again, the State Department is equivocating amid Russian, Chinese and European opposition.

Meanwhile, on the nuclear issue, Mr. Ahmadinejad declared this week that he'll no longer cooperate with the U.N. Security Council, but only with Mohamed ElBaradei, the accommodating Egyptian who runs the U.N. nuclear agency. Our readers will recall that former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton warned Mr. Bush about Mr. ElBaradei and tried to block his wish for a third term. But Mr. Bush sided with State Department officials who supported Mr. ElBaradei, and now the U.S. has to live with his pro-Iranian machinations.

The Bush Presidency is running out of time to act if it wants to stop Iran from gaining a bomb. With GIs fighting and dying in Iraq, Mr. Bush also owes it to them not to allow enemy sanctuaries or weapons pipelines from Iran. If the President believes half of what he and his Administration have said about Iran's behavior, he has an obligation to do whatever it takes to stop it.
26709  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Sayoc kali? on: September 27, 2007, 03:04:59 PM
The computer I had with that data died a gruesome death several months ago. 

Have you tried the Sayoc site?  I'm guessing they list their instructors there and with the info I gave you, you should be able to find it.

Anyway, I'm out the door in a few hours to Switzerland for 6 days of teaching, the Euro DB Gathering, etc.
26710  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 27, 2007, 12:44:02 PM
Reliability of this source unknown:

========
This presents an interesting idea, to say the least...
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler
Wednesday, 19 September 2007

One of India's top ranking generals assigned to liaise with the Iranian military recently returned to New Delhi from several days in Tehran - in a state of complete amazement.

"Everyone in the government and military can only talk of one thing," he reports. "No matter who I talked to, all they could do was ask me, over and over again, 'Do you think the Americans will attack us?' 'When will the Americans attack us?' 'Will the Americans attack us in a joint operation with the Israelis?' How massive will the attack be?' on and on, endlessly. The Iranians are in a state of total panic."

And that was before September 6. Since then, it's panic-squared in Tehran. The mullahs are freaking out in fear. Why? Because of the silence in Syria.

On September 6, Israeli Air Force F-15 and F-16s conducted a devastating attack on targets deep inside Syria near the city of Dayr az-Zawr. Israel's military censors have muzzled the Israeli media, enforcing an extraordinary silence about the identity of the targets. Massive speculation in the world press has followed, such as Brett Stephens' Osirak II? in yesterday's (9/18) Wall St. Journal.

Stephens and most everyone else have missed the real story. It is not Israel's silence that "speaks volumes" as he claims, but Syria's. Why would the Syrian government be so tight-lipped about an act of war perpetrated on their soil?

The first half of the answer lies in this story that appeared in the Israeli media last month (8/13): Syria's Antiaircraft System Most Advanced In World. Syria has gone on a profligate buying spree, spending vast sums on Russian systems, "considered the cutting edge in aircraft interception technology."

Syria now "possesses the most crowded antiaircraft system in the world," with "more than 200 antiaircraft batteries of different types," some of which are so new that they have been installed in Syria "before being introduced into Russian operation service."

While you're digesting that, take a look at the map of Syria:



Notice how far away Dayr az-Zawr is from Israel. An F15/16 attack there is not a tiptoe across the border, but a deep, deep penetration of Syrian airspace. And guess what happened with the Russian super-hyper-sophisticated cutting edge antiaircraft missile batteries when that penetration took place on September 6th.

Nothing.

El blanko. Silence. The systems didn't even light up, gave no indication whatever of any detection of enemy aircraft invading Syrian airspace, zip, zero, nada. The Israelis (with a little techie assistance from us) blinded the Russkie antiaircraft systems so completely the Syrians didn't even know they were blinded.

Now you see why the Syrians have been scared speechless. They thought they were protected - at enormous expense - only to discover they are defenseless. As in naked.

Thus the Great Iranian Freak-Out - for this means Iran is just as nakedly defenseless as Syria. I can tell you that there are a lot of folks in the Kirya (IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv) and the Pentagon right now who are really enjoying the mullahs' predicament. Let's face it: scaring the terror masters in Tehran out of their wits is fun.

It's so much fun, in fact, that an attack destroying Iran's nuclear facilities and the Revolutionary Guard command/control centers has been delayed, so that France (under new management) can get in on the fun too.

On Sunday (9/16), Sarkozy's foreign minister Bernard Kouchner announced that "France should prepare for the possibility of war over Iran's nuclear program."

All of this has caused Tehran to respond with maniacal threats. On Monday (9/17), a government website proclaimed that "600 Shihab-3 missiles" will be fired at targets in Israel in response to an attack upon Iran by the US/Israel. This was followed by Iranian deputy air force chief Gen. Mohammad Alavi announcing today (9/19) that "we will attack their (Israeli) territory with our fighter bombers as a response to any attack."

A sure sign of panic is to make a threat that everyone knows is a bluff. So our and Tel Aviv's response to Iranian bluster is a thank-you-for-sharing yawn and a laugh. Few things rattle the mullahs' cages more than a yawn and a laugh.

Yet no matter how much fun this sport with the mullahs is, it is also deadly serious. The pressure build-up on Iran is getting enormous. Something is going to blow and soon. The hope is that the blow-up will be internal, that the regime will implode from within.

But make no mistake: an all-out full regime take-out air assault upon Iran is coming if that hope doesn't materialize within the next 60 to 90 days. The Sept. 6 attack on Syria was the shot across Iran's bow.

So - what was attacked near Dayr az-Zawr? It's possible it was North Korean "nuclear material" recently shipped to Syria, i.e., stuff to make radioactively "dirty" warheads, but nothing to make a real nuke with as the Norks don't have real nukes (see Why North Korea's Nuke Test Is Such Good News, October 2006).

Another possibility is it was to take out a stockpile of long-range Zilzal surface-to-surface missiles recently shipped from Iran for an attack on Israel.

A third is it was a hit on the stockpile of Saddam's chemical/bio weapons snuck out of Iraq and into Syria for safekeeping before the US invasion of April 2003.

But the identity of the target is not the story - for the primary point of the attack was not to destroy that target. It was to shut down Syria's Russian air defense system during the attack. Doing so made the attack an incredible success.

Syria is shamed and silent. Iran is freaking out in panic. Defenseless enemies are fun.

( http://www.ivanyi-consultants.com/articles/silence.html )
26711  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 27, 2007, 11:59:47 AM
Dream Act Puts Illegal Alien Kids Ahead of American Kids


This outrage is an opportunity to get tens of millions of parents and grandparents to get active in the fight against amnesty for illegal aliens. Until now, many of them thought it was not an issue that affected them.
But thanks to Sen. Durbin, it has now become a major issue for all families who had hoped that their children would go to college. Under the Dream Act, illegal aliens, not American students, will be getting preferential service. Illegal alien children will be given low, low in-state tuition rates while American families, many of whom are losing jobs or earning lower wages because employers are hiring illegals, will have to pay TEN TIMES MORE for their children's education.
So if you have relatives or friends who have high school aged children getting ready to apply to colleges, forward this email to them and urge them to join the fight against amnesty for illegal aliens.
Rampant Hypocrisy
In July, Senate Democrats, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid, voted to keep Senator Lindsay Graham's border security amendment off of the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, claiming immigration reform amendments were not germane to Homeland Security and violated Senate rules.
The Senate voted 52 to 44 that the amendment was not germane.
Will the Senate Democrats show the same interest in keeping things "germane" by keeping Dick Durbin's "Dream Act," that grants amnesty and low tuition rates for illegal aliens, off of the Concurrent Resolution bill to keep the government running?
Let's hold their feet to the fire. Let's remind Reid what he did in July to keep an important and very germane amendment off of the Homeland Security Bill and demand that he use the same rigid standards to keep the Dream Act off the Budget bill.
The Dream Act is a Continuing Amnesty
(the gift that keeps on giving!)
Unlike the Amnesty bills from the Senate for the past 2 years, the DREAM Act is a
continuing program, not just a one-time amnesty.
The amnesty that was defeated a few months back was an amnesty for all those illegal aliens currently living here, but the Dream Act will continue year after year, as long as illegal aliens continue to bring their children across the border with them.
Of course neither Dick Durbin nor Ted Kennedy thought to mention this to their colleagues, hoping it would be lost in the shuffle. Consequently, most people and most Senators remain totally unaware of this dangerous aspect of the amendment. Hopefully, if you ask your Seantors the following questions, it make give them a much-needed wake up call to oppose this disastrous amendment.
"Does the Senator realize that DREAM is a permanent, cycling amnesty with no end, not just "one-time" amnesty?
"Please ask the Senator for me exactly how many times do the American people have to demand NO MORE AMNESTY before our elected officials honor our request?"
Please click here to go to our Senate listing that contains all of their telephone numbers in D.C. and their state offices. And start calling right now!
I think this is winnable, but only if we get a full effort from all Americans who are outraged by the continuous efforts of our Congress to sneak through a back-door amnesty, knowing that 80% of their constituents are dead set against it!
So please start calling and call your friends as well and get them calling too. We stopped them before and we can do it again, if we all work together.
Thanks again for all your help and continuing support.
Sincerely,
Edward I. Nelson
P.S. Here are some other things you can do:
1. Consider forwarding this email to your own email list of friends, relatives, business associates. It will multiply our lobbying efforts tremendously. Our strength is in our numbers and the more people we can activate, the louder our collective voice in Washington, on Capitol Hill and in state assemblies across the country.
2. Go to our Legislative Action Center where you can send instant FREE email letters to Congress and the White House!
3. Consider making a donation to U.S. Border Control. It's the best investment you can make.
Don't be fooled by flashy emails or fancy websites. U.S. Border Control is the most respected voice for immigration reform on Capitol Hill. We have been fighting this battle since 1988. We know the issues and we know how to get things done.
Our annual report documents that Border Control donors get the most for their money. Your dollars don't go to plush carpets, fancy offices and big salaries -- they go right into the fight. And year after year, Border Control has the lowest percentages spent on overhead and the highest percentages spent lobbying Congress to secure our borders against drugs, disease, terrorism and illegal migration. We thought you
would like to know.
Thank you for your continued support!
26712  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 27, 2007, 11:58:44 AM
-- Collin Levy
A Slightly Less Favorite Son

It's no secret former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's strategy for winning the Republican nomination hinges on racking up early wins in both Iowa and New Hampshire. But two recently released polls indicate Mr. Romney may be losing his grip on the Granite State, despite years of familiarity from nearby Boston TV coverage.

A Rasmussen Reports survey released last Tuesday showed Mr. Romney's lead over Rudy Giuliani dwindling over the course of the last month from 12 points to just three points. A survey by CNN and WMUR TV released yesterday indicated a similar downward trend: the 15-point lead Mr. Romney held over Mr. Giuliani in July is now down to a single point. Overall, Mr. Romney's lead in the RealClearPolitics Average for New Hampshire has slipped to 4%, its lowest level since the end of May.

Should Mr. Romney be worried? Yes. Is it time to hit the panic button? Not quite. The linchpin of his strategy is a win in Iowa, and right now the big lead he's built up in the Hawkeye State over the summer appears to be holding. Since winning the Ames straw poll at the beginning of August, Mr. Romney has extended his lead in the RealClearPolitics Average in Iowa by more than five points, now holding a 15.4% lead over his nearest competitor, Rudy Giuliani.

Conventional wisdom says that a win in Iowa will provide a bounce heading into New Hampshire. But one need look no further than the 2000 Republican primary -- when George Bush won the Iowa caucuses only to be trounced by John McCain by 18 points the following week in New Hampshire -- to see that's not always the case.

One factor working in Romney's favor this year is that a sizable majority of Independents -- the largest voting bloc in the state and eligible to vote in either primary -- appear to be leaning toward participating in the Democratic primary, which would lessen the chances of an Independent-fueled upset like Mr. McCain's.

But unlike President Bush, who rebounded from the loss in New Hampshire eight years ago with a hard fought victory in South Carolina, Mr. Romney has no such firewall to fall back on. He's currently running a distant fourth in South Carolina and 16 points off the pace in Florida, two states that will set the tone for the heap of delegates up for grabs on February 5th.

On the other hand, the addition of Michigan to the early primary schedule is a boon for Mr. Romney, who was born in Detroit and is the son of a former Michigan governor. But the benefit of a win by the Wolverine State's favorite son could be short lived if Mr. Romney suffers a defeat in New Hampshire.

-- Tom Bevan, executive editor of RealClearPolitics.com
A Democratic Debate Parody - Er, the Real Thing

Last night's Democratic debate at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire featured many memorable moments, including Hillary Clinton artfully dodging any specifics on how she would revamp Social Security -- a sure sign that voters won't like what she has in mind.

But what Republicans are likely to focus on is the bizarre answer that the candidates gave to a question from Allison King of New England Cable News: "Last year, some parents of second-graders in Lexington, Massachusetts, were outraged to learn their children's teacher had read a story about same-sex marriage, about a prince who marries another prince.... Would you be comfortable having this story read to your children as part of their school curriculum?"

Not a single Democratic candidate was willing to say he or she thought such instruction inappropriate for students in the second grade. The reluctance to offend a powerful Democratic interest group was striking. After the debate, MSNBC commentator Pat Buchanan summed up succinctly: "[John] Edwards and these folks, the Democrats, they came off tonight as a nanny-state party. They're not going to let me smoke in public, they're not going to let an 18-year-old Marine have a beer, but they're going to give 6-year-olds -- teach 'em about homosexual marriage. I mean, you get the average American out there -- this might be big stuff at Dartmouth, but I can tell ya: That doesn't sell."

NBC Political Director Chuck Todd agreed: "I would be not shocked if in 24 hours... what Pat said is the script for a Mitt Romney radio ad to try to hit the Democrats on some cultural issues." MSNBC host Chris Matthews chimed in: "The catechism of the Democratic Party is: Lots of information about the gay orientation early in life, right?"

The media often utters clucks of regret when sensitive social and cultural questions are brought into presidential politics. But could voters really be blamed for reacting negatively after the eye-popping response of the Democratic field to last night's curriculum question? It would be the equivalent of every Republican candidate declining to oppose mandatory rifle training for second-graders in order to appease the gun lobby. It would be silly and bizarre and fully worthy of comment -- and condemnation.

-- John Fund
political journal WSJ
26713  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Crafty Dog seminars in October: on: September 27, 2007, 10:52:20 AM
October 13-14 Mexico City:  This seminar will be conducted in Spanish.

October 20-21 Manassas VA:

For details about both these seminars, see

http://dogbrothers.com/article_info.php?articles_id=1
26714  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: September 27, 2007, 10:47:05 AM
Second post of the morning:

The D.C. Gun Ban: Supreme Court Preview
by Robert A. Levy
Robert A. Levy is senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute, and co-counsel to the plaintiffs in Parker v. District of Columbia.

On September 4, the District of Columbia government asked the Supreme Court to reverse a federal appellate decision in Parker v. District of Columbia, 478 F.3d 370 (D.C. Cir. 2007), which upheld a Second Amendment challenge to D.C.'s ban on all functional firearms. The six D.C. residents who brought the lawsuit — although they won in the lower court — agree with the city that the Supreme Court should revisit the Second Amendment for the first time since 1939. A four-square pronouncement from the High Court is long overdue. The entire nation, not just Washington, D.C., needs to know how courts will interpret "the right of the people to keep and bear arms." Sometime before yearend, the justices will decide whether to review the case. If the Supreme Court chooses to intervene, a final decision will probably be issued by June 30, 2008.

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and attorney general Linda Singer, in their petition to the Supreme Court and in a Washington Post op-ed ("Fighting for Our Handgun Ban," September 4), raise four arguments in support of the city's ban. Their first argument is that the Second Amendment ensures only that members of state militias are properly armed, not that private citizens can have guns for self-defense and other personal uses. That contentious question has been debated at length on these pages. See Dennis Henigan, "The Mythic Second," March 26, 2007; and Robert A. Levy, "Thanks to the Second Amendment," April 16, 2007.

The city's remaining three arguments — two legal claims and one policy claim — have received comparatively less attention. First, declares the mayor, even if the Second Amendment protects private ownership of firearms for non-militia purposes, a ban on all handguns is reasonable because D.C. allows possession of rifles and shotguns in the home. Second, the Amendment restricts the actions of the federal government, but not the states, and D.C. should be treated the same as a state for Second Amendment purposes. And third, "handgun bans work"; the streets of the Nation's Capital are safer as a result. Let's consider each argument in turn.

It's okay to ban handguns as long as rifles and shotguns are permitted.
The D.C. Circuit, for good reason, called that argument "frivolous." "It could be similarly contended," wrote Senior Judge Laurence Silberman, "that all firearms may be banned so long as sabers were permitted." After all, D.C. does not ban home possession of knives or hatchets. Does that justify the city's handgun ban? Could publication of cookbooks be barred under the First Amendment as long as restaurant guides were allowed?
Moreover, the D.C. Code bans not just handguns, but all functioning firearms. Rifles and shotguns in the home must be unloaded and either disassembled or bound by a trigger lock. That's why one of the Parker plaintiffs, who owns a shotgun, had to sue in order to render the weapon usable in an emergency.

Not to worry, says the mayor. "The District does not … construe this provision [regarding rifles and shotguns] to prevent the use of a lawful firearm in self-defense." That assurance might be heartening were it not disingenuous. Once a rifle or shotgun is loaded, it is no longer a "lawful firearm." Accordingly, D.C.'s pledge, limited to lawful weapons, is an empty one. A gun must be operative before it can be used in self-defense. Any owner who waits to load and assemble a gun until it's needed for self-defense has waited too long. If the mayor means what he says, he should have no problem repealing the city's ban on home possession of functional rifles and shotguns, as the Parker plaintiffs have demanded.

D.C. is like a state, and the Second Amendment doesn't apply to states.
The District relies on an 1886 case, Presser v. Illinois, for the proposition that the Second Amendment applies only to the federal government, not to the states. Admittedly, D.C. is not a state. But, says the mayor, the city should be treated the same as a state when courts review its gun control regulations. Therefore, so the argument goes, the city is immune from a Second Amendment challenge.

That argument fails on two counts. First, none of the amendments in the Bill of Rights originally applied to the states. Beginning in 1897, however, 11 years after Presser, the Supreme Court decided that the post-Civil War enactment of the 14th Amendment was intended to "incorporate" most of the Bill of Rights in order to hold state governments accountable for violations. To be sure, the Court never formally ruled that the Second Amendment was incorporated, but even ultra-liberal Ninth Circuit judge Stephen Reinhardt has conceded that "Presser rest on a principle that is now thoroughly discredited."

Second, even if states are exempt from the Second Amendment, the Constitution expressly grants to Congress, not a state, plenary legislative power over all matters whatsoever in the Nation's Capital. Because the Second Amendment indisputably applies to the federal government, it therefore applies to the District, a federal enclave. D.C.'s assertion that its city council, a creature of Congress, should enjoy an exemption from the Second Amendment that binds Congress itself, is quite simply bizarre. If it were true, then the Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial in civil cases — which also hasn't been incorporated — would not apply to D.C. But the courts have held otherwise. See, e.g., Pernell v. Southall Realty (U.S. 1974).

The city responds that the Second Amendment is different because, unlike the Seventh, the Second is a limitation on federal power over the states. In effect, that's the collectivist or states' rights view of the Second Amendment. Thus, the District's claim of exemption merges with, and depends on, its collectivist interpretation of the Second Amendment. If D.C. is wrong about the Second Amendment, then its "no-incorporation" argument collapses as well.

"Handgun bans work"; they've "saved countless lives."
Before the District banned handguns in 1976, the murder rate had been declining. But soon afterward, the rate climbed to the highest of all large U.S. cities. It also rose relative to nearby Maryland and Virginia as well as relative to other cities with more than 500,000 people. During the 31-year life of the ban, with the exception of a few years during which the city's murder rate ranked second or third, there have been more killings per capita in Washington, D.C. than in any other major city.

In 12 of the years between 1980 and 1997, including all nine years from 1989 through 1997, the violent crime rate in D.C. exceeded 2,000 per 100,000, reaching a high of 2,922 in 1993, versus 1,481 in 1976 — a 97 percent increase in violent crime, 17 years after citizens were forbidden from defending themselves with firearms. Moreover, the murder rate climbed as high as 81 per 100,000 inhabitants in 1991 — triple the pre-ban levels. As of 2005, the last year for which I have data, the murder rate is still 32 percent above the 1976 level.

Two non-partisan, respected federal government agencies recently examined gun controls and found no statistically significant evidence to support their effectiveness. In 2004, the National Academy of Sciences reviewed 253 journal articles, 99 books, and 43 government publications evaluating 80 gun-control measures. The researchers could not identify a single gun-control regulation that reduced violent crime, suicide, or accidents. A year earlier, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on an independent evaluation of firearms and ammunition bans, restrictions on acquisition, waiting periods, registration, licensing, child access prevention laws, and zero tolerance laws. Conclusion: none of the laws had a meaningful impact on gun violence.

Based on those statistics, there's a compelling argument that Americans deserve an opportunity to defend themselves by possessing suitable firearms. But even if the data were to cut the other way — even if it could be demonstrated (which it emphatically cannot) that more gun laws lead to less crime — gun laws are not just about public policy. They're about the meaning of the Constitution. Hopefully, the U.S. Supreme Court, at long last, will answer this vital question: Does the right to keep and bear arms belong to us as individuals, or does the Constitution merely recognize the collective right of states to arm the members of their militias?

This article appeared in Legal Times on September 24, 2007.
26715  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: September 27, 2007, 08:55:16 AM
Caveat lector:  NY Times
=======

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 — A year and a half after President Bush told top aides that he feared he might be forced someday to choose between acquiescing to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and ordering military action, the struggle to find an effective alternative — sanctions with real bite — is entering a new phase.

The speech at the United Nations on Tuesday by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is already being used by American officials in an effort to convince European allies that Iran’s leadership will respond only to a sharp new wave of economic pressure, far greater than anything it has endured so far. Mr. Ahmadinejad, trying to make the case that no additional sanctions would derail Iran’s uranium enrichment program, declared that “the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed.”

Until now, Washington has relied on gradually escalating sanctions, including convincing a growing number of banks that it is risky to lend new funds to Iran for major oil projects. Yet in interviews, American diplomats, White House officials and military officers acknowledge that the strategy has been largely ineffective.

So have veiled threats of military action. While President Bush and his aides insist that “all options are on the table,” senior officials say there is little enthusiasm in the White House or the Pentagon for military attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities, though they acknowledge that such war plans are always being refined.

The officials say the Iranians fully understand that while the United States could destroy Iran’s major nuclear facilities, it would be far harder to manage the probable response, which could include heightened attacks on American forces in Iraq, possible retaliation on Israel or the destabilization of governments from Lebanon to Pakistan.

Administration officials say that the chances appear slim that the United States can enlist Russia and China behind really tough sanctions against Iran, and that it could take several months for such sanctions to emerge, if they do at all.

But for the first time, administration officials say, the European allies are talking about a far broader cutoff of bank lending and technology to Iran than any tried so far. The lead is being taken by the new government in France, whose president, Nicolas Sarkozy, issued a starker warning to the United Nations this week about a nuclear Iran than did Mr. Bush.

That has created a new initiative between Washington and Paris unlike any since they split over the invasion of Iraq. The effort, said Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, is intended to convince Iranians that the nuclear program is “taking us into the ditch,” and to make the pressure so great “that they finally have to make a strategic choice.”

In a meeting on Tuesday with editors and reporters for The New York Times, Mr. Hadley conceded that the United States was still struggling to understand how much pressure it would take to force Iran to make what he called a “strategic choice” and said that intelligence estimates “vary widely” about how much time remained before the Iranians could have a weapon.

One senior European official who is taking part in conversations in New York this week to design sanctions that the entire European Union might agree to said it was now “a race between how fast they can build centrifuges and we can turn up the pain.”

So the discussions now center on cutting off even more lending to the Iranians and — for the first time — supplies of technology and other goods. But that would require severing, one by one, deep ties between European and Iranian businesses, and necessitate what Mr. Hadley called a consensus for “aggressive action, even if that means compromising their commercial interests.”

A range of officials acknowledged the difficulty of designing a military strike option effective enough to set the Iranian program back for many years.

While many of the sites have long been known — especially the giant underground complex at Natanz, where just shy of 2,000 centrifuges have been installed — there is no certainty that military action could destroy the entire system of well-disguised factories and laboratories, some known and some hidden.

And the turmoil certain to follow such an attack may not be worth military action that simply delays nuclear development, officials say.

That probably explains why Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have both vowed to pursue the diplomatic track, saying that military action is a last resort. But those comments have not silenced the speculation here, in Europe and in the Middle East that America is planning for an attack.

“This constant drumbeat of war is not helpful, and it’s not useful,” said Adm. William J. Fallon, the senior American commander in the region.
===============
Page 2 of 2)



In a telephone interview this week as he visited various regional capitals, Admiral Fallon pledged that the United States would “maintain our capabilities in that region of the world in an attempt to make sure that if they opt for military activity there, that is not going to be very useful to them.”

At the same time, he said, “we will pursue avenues that might result in some kind of improvement in Iranian behavior.”

“I am not talking about a war strategy, but a strategy to demonstrate our resolve,” Admiral Fallon said. “We have a very, very robust capability in the region, especially in comparison to Iran. That is one of the things that people might want to keep in mind. Our intention is to make sure they understand that, but we are being prudent in our actions and certainly not trying to be provocative.”

In recent days others have begun to speak openly about what the United States would face if Iran successfully fielded nuclear weapons or manufactured enough uranium to make clear that it could produce weapons in short order. It is that second possibility — in which Iran would stay within the strict rules of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty — that worries many intelligence officials.

Gen. John P. Abizaid, who retired this year as senior American commander in the Middle East, said that while the United States must do all it can to prevent Iran from going nuclear, the world could live with a nuclear Iran and could contain it.

“I believe that the United States, with our great military power, can contain Iran, that the United States can deliver clear messages to the Iranians that makes it clear to them that while they may develop one or two nuclear weapons, they’ll never be able to compete with us in our true military might and power, and they should not underestimate either our resolve or our ability to deal with them in the event of war,” General Abizaid said in a speech last week at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington policy institute

He said the broad rules of deterrence that kept a nuclear peace between the United States and the Soviet Union during the cold war, and remain in effect with nuclear Russia and China today, would be effective against a nuclear Iran.

“I believe nuclear deterrence will work with the Iranians,” General Abizaid said.

Inside the administration, senior officials say they have also considered organizing a regional forum to confront Iran, using as a model the “six party” talks with North Korea, an effort to put pressure on that country from all its neighbors. But in the Middle East, officials say, the idea has hardly gotten off the ground.

“As we talk to the regional leaders, we have yet to hear a single good idea for ways to find common ground, or a forum or framework for dealing with Iran,” said one senior official involved in Iran policy. The problem, officials say, is that none of Iran’s neighbors are willing and able to play the decisive role alongside the United States.

26716  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 27, 2007, 08:42:55 AM
The NY Times weighs in on Blackwater:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 — The American security contractor Blackwater USA has been involved in a far higher rate of shootings while guarding American diplomats in Iraq than other security firms providing similar services to the State Department, according to Bush administration officials and industry officials.

Blackwater is now the focus of investigations in both Baghdad and Washington over a Sept. 16 shooting in which at least 11 Iraqis were killed. Beyond that episode, the company has been involved in cases in which its personnel fired weapons while guarding State Department officials in Iraq at least twice as often per convoy mission as security guards working for other American security firms, the officials said.

The disclosure came as the Pentagon said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates had sent a team of officials to Iraq to get answers to questions about the use of American security contractors there.

The State Department keeps reports on each case in which weapons were fired by security personnel guarding American diplomats in Iraq. Officials familiar with the internal State Department reports would not provide the actual statistics, but they indicated that the records showed that Blackwater personnel were involved in dozens of episodes in which they had resorted to force.

The officials said that Blackwater’s incident rate was at least twice that recorded by employees of DynCorp International and Triple Canopy, the two other United States-based security firms that have been contracted by the State Department to provide security for diplomats and other senior civilians in Iraq.

The State Department would not comment on most matters relating to Blackwater, citing the current investigation. But Sean McCormack, the department’s spokesman, said that of 1,800 escort missions by Blackwater this year, there had been “only a very small fraction, very small fraction, that have involved any sort of use of force.”

In 2005, DynCorp reported 32 shootings during about 3,200 convoy missions, and in 2006 that company reported 10 episodes during about 1,500 convoy missions. While comparable Blackwater statistics were not available, government officials said the firm’s rate per convoy mission was about twice DynCorp’s.

The State Department’s incident reports have not been made public, and Blackwater refused to provide its own data on cases in which its personnel used their weapons while guarding American diplomats. The State Department is in the process of providing at least some of the data to Congress. The administration and industry officials who agreed to discuss the broad rate of Blackwater’s involvement in violent events would not disclose the specific numbers.

“The incident rate for Blackwater is higher, there is a distinction,” said a senior American government official who insisted on anonymity in order to discuss a delicate, continuing investigation. “The real question that is open for discussion is why.”

A Blackwater spokeswoman declined to comment.

Blackwater, based in North Carolina, has gained a reputation among Iraqis and even among American military personnel serving in Iraq as a company that flaunts an aggressive, quick-draw image that leads its security personnel to take excessively violent actions to protect the people they are paid to guard. After the latest shooting, the Iraqi government demanded that the company be banned from operating in the country.

“You can find any number of people, particularly in uniform, who will tell you that they do see Blackwater as a company that promotes a much more aggressive response to things than other main contractors do,” a senior American official said.

Today, Blackwater operates in the most violent parts of Iraq and guards the most prominent American diplomats, which some American government officials say explains why it is involved in more shootings than its competitors. The shootings included in the reports include all cases in which weapons are fired, including those meant as warning shots. Others add that Blackwater’s aggressive posture in guarding diplomats reflects the wishes of its client, the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

Still, other government officials say that Blackwater’s corporate culture seems to encourage excessive behavior. “Is it the operating environment or something specific about Blackwater?” asked one government official. “My best guess is that it is both.”

========

Page 2 of 2)



Blackwater was founded in 1997 by Erik Prince, a former member of the Navy Seals, and is privately owned. Most of its nearly 1,000 people in Iraq are independent contractors, rather than employees of the company, according to a spokeswoman, Anne Tyrrell. Blackwater has a total of about 550 full-time employees, the she said.

Its diplomatic security contract with the State Department is now the company’s largest, Ms. Tyrrell said, while declining to provide the dollar amount. The company also provides security for the State Department in Afghanistan, where it also has counternarcotics-related contracts.

In addition to the Sept. 16 shooting in the Nisour area of Baghdad, Iraqi officials said Blackwater employees had been involved in six other episodes under investigation. Those episodes left a total of 10 Iraqis dead and 15 wounded, they said.

Many American officials now share the view that Blackwater’s behavior is increasingly stoking resentment among Iraqis and is proving counterproductive to American efforts to gain support for its military efforts in Iraq.

“They’re repeat offenders, and yet they continue to prosper in Iraq,” said Representative Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat who has been broadly critical of the role of contractors in Iraq. “It’s really affecting attitudes toward the United States when you have these cowboy guys out there. These guys represent the U.S. to them and there are no rules of the game for them.”

Despite the growing criticism of Blackwater and its tactics, the company still enjoys an unusually close relationship with the Bush administration, and with the State Department and Pentagon in particular. It has received government contracts worth more than $1 billion since 2002, with most coming under the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, according to the independent budget monitoring group OMB Watch.

Last year, the State Department gave Blackwater the lead role in diplomatic security in Iraq, reducing the roles of DynCorp and Triple Canopy.

The company employs about 850 workers in Iraq under its diplomatic security contract, about three-quarters of them Americans, according to the State Department and the Congressional Research Service. DynCorp has 157 security guards in Iraq; Triple Canopy has about 250. The figures compiled by the State Department track the number of shootings per convoy mission, rather than measuring against the number of employees.

Just in recent weeks, Blackwater has also been awarded another large State Department contract to provide helicopter services in Iraq.

The company’s close ties to the Bush administration have raised questions about the political clout of Mr. Prince, Blackwater’s founder and owner. He is the scion of a wealthy Michigan family that is active in Republican politics. He and the family have given more than $325,000 in political donations over the past 10 years, the vast majority to Republican candidates and party committees, according to federal campaign finance reports.

Mr. Prince has helped cement his ties to the government by hiring prominent officials. J. Cofer Black, the former counterterrorism chief at the C.I.A. and State Department, is a vice chairman at Blackwater. Mr. Black is also now a senior adviser on counterterrorism and national security issues to the Republican presidential campaign of Mitt Romney.

Joseph E. Schmitz, the former inspector general at the Pentagon, now is chief operating officer and general counsel for Blackwater’s parent company, the Prince Group. Officials at other firms in the contracting industry said that Mr. Prince sometimes met with government contracting officers, which they say is an unusual step for the chief executive of a corporation.

No Blackwater employees, or any other contractors, have been charged with crimes related to the shootings in Iraq, although there are a number of American laws governing actions overseas and in wartime that could be applied, according to experts in international law. In addition, a measure enacted last year calls for the Pentagon to bring contractors in Iraq under the jurisdiction of American military law, but the Defense Department has not yet put into effect the rules needed to do so.

Separately, American officials specifically exempted all United States personnel from Iraqi law under an order signed in 2004 by L.Paul Bremer III, then the top official of the American occupation authority. The Sept. 16 shootings have so angered Iraqis, however, that the Iraqi government is proposing a measure that would overturn the American rule and subject Western private security companies to Iraqi law. The proposal requires the approval of the Iraqi Parliament.

In a sign of the Pentagon’s concern over private security contractors, Mr. Gates last Sunday sent a five-person team to Iraq to discuss with Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, the rules governing contractors. “He has some real concerns about oversight of contractors in Iraq and he is looking for ways to sort of make sure we do a better job on that front,” Geoff Morrell, Mr. Gates’s spokesman, told reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday.

On Tuesday night, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England sent a three-page memorandum to senior Defense Department officials and top commanders around the world ordering them to ensure that contractors in the field were operating under rules of engagement consistent with the military’s.

26717  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Current Events: Philippines on: September 27, 2007, 08:30:13 AM
PHILIPPINES: Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is planning to offer an unconditional pardon to her ousted predecessor Joseph Estrada. Estrada, 70, previously said he would not accept a pardon if it meant admitting guilt. The conditions of the pardon will be settled between Arroyo's interior minister and Estrada. Arroyo's chief legal advisor said the move was to ease political tensions in the country; the long enmity between Arroyo and Estrada has been the source of many coup rumors.

stratfor
26718  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: September 27, 2007, 08:27:59 AM
No URL came to me with this.
===========================

Veterans Disarmament Act To Bar Vets From Owning Guns

Larry Pratt | September 23, 2007

Hundreds of thousands of veterans -- from Vietnam through Operation Iraqi Freedom -- are at risk of being banned from buying firearms if legislation that is pending in Congress gets enacted.

How? The Veterans Disarmament Act -- which has already passed the House -- would place any veteran who has ever been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on the federal gun ban list.

This is exactly what President Bill Clinton did over seven years ago when his administration illegitimately added some 83,000 veterans into the National Criminal Information System (NICS system) -- prohibiting them from purchasing firearms, simply because of afflictions like PTSD.

The proposed ban is actually broader. Anyone who is diagnosed as being a tiny danger to himself or others would have his gun rights taken away ... forever. It is section 102((1)©(iv) in HR 2640 that provides for dumping raw medical records into the system. Those names -- like the 83,000 records mentioned above -- will then, by law, serve as the basis for gun banning.

No wonder the Military Order of the Purple Heart is opposed to this legislation.

The House bill, HR 2640, is being sponsored by one of the most flaming anti-Second Amendment Representatives in Congress: Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY). Another liberal anti-gunner, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), is sponsoring the bill in the Senate.

Proponents of the bill say that helpful amendments have been made so that any veteran who gets his name on the NICS list can seek an expungement.

But whenever you talk about expunging names from the Brady NICS system, you're talking about a procedure that has always been a long shot. Right now, there are NO EXPUNGEMENTS of law-abiding Americans' names that are taking place under federal level. Why? Because the expungement process which already exists has been blocked for over a decade by a "funds cut-off" engineered by another anti-gunner, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY).

So how will this bill make things even worse? Well, two legal terms are radically redefined in the Veterans Disarmament Act to carry out this vicious attack on veterans' gun rights.

One term relates to who is classified a "mental defective." Forty years ago that term meant one was adjudicated "not guilty" in a court of law by reason of insanity. But under the Veterans Disarmament Act, "mental defective" has been stretched to include anyone whom a psychiatrist determines might be a tiny danger to self or others.

The second term is "adjudicate." In the past, one could only lose one's gun rights through an adjudication by a judge, magistrate or court -- meaning conviction after a trial. Adjudication could only occur in a court with all the protections of due process, including the right to face one's accuser. Now, adjudication in HR 2640 would include a finding by "a court, commission, committee or other authorized person" (namely, a psychiatrist).

Forget the fact that people with PTSD have the same violent crime rate as the rest of us. Vietnam vets with PTSD have had careers and obtained permits to carry firearms concealed. It will now be enough for a psychiatric diagnosis (a "determination" in the language of the bill) to get a veteran barred ­for life ­ from owning guns.

Think of what this bill would do to veterans. If a robber grabs your wallet and takes everything in it, but gives you back $5 to take the bus home, would you call that a financial enhancement? If not, then we should not let HR 2640 supporters call the permission to seek an expungement an enhancement, when prior to this bill, veterans could not legitimately be denied their gun rights after being diagnosed with PTSD.

Veterans with PTSD should not be put in a position to seek an expungement. They have not been convicted (after a trial with due process) of doing anything wrong. If a veteran is thought to be a threat to self or others, there should be a real trial, not an opinion (called a diagnosis) by a psychiatrist.

If members of Congress do not hear from soldiers (active duty and retired) in large numbers, along with the rest of the public, the Veterans Disarmament Act -- misleadingly titled by Rep. McCarthy as the NICS Improvement Amendments Act -- will send this message to veterans: "No good deed goes unpunished."
26719  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 27, 2007, 07:23:43 AM
AFGHANISTAN: The process of letting Afghan forces take over from NATO in large-scale regional security operations in Afghanistan has already begun and is expected to be complete by 2009 or 2010, NATO Brig. Gen. Vincent Lafontaine said. The Afghan National Army is expected to reach 70,000 troops by 2009, and NATO troops will help with their training and conduct of operations.

stratfor
26720  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 27, 2007, 07:21:07 AM
Although most of this piece is about NK, I post it here because a goodly part of this piece concerns events that have been covered in this thread:

stratfor

Geopolitical Diary: A Softened U.S. Stance Toward North Korea?

The six-party talks over North Korea's nuclear program are ramping up again in Beijing amid seemingly contradictory signals from the United States.

On one hand, North Korea was implicated in nuclear proliferation, through a series of leaks (intentional or otherwise) to U.S. and Israeli press outlets, after a Sept. 6 Israeli airstrike in Syria that was reportedly aimed at a facility hosting North Korean missile or nuclear technology and workers. On the other hand, U.S. representative to the six-party talks Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill is offering an upbeat assessment of progress on dismantling North Korea's nuclear facilities following a pre-meeting session with North Korean envoy Kim Kye Gwan on the eve of the six-party talks.

Meanwhile, U.S. President George W. Bush used his address at the U.N. General Assembly to label North Korea a "brutal regime," and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice separately suggested that North Korea might be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism even before the question of kidnapped Japanese citizens is resolved.

The six-party talks are, in and of themselves, not necessary to solve the North Korean nuclear issue. The nuclear crisis -- or interminable bureaucratic discussion punctuated by moments of excitement -- has been going on for more than a decade. At its most basic level, it represents an attempt by North Korea, a nation squeezed between U.S.-backed South Korea and an at-best-ambiguous China to the north, to break free from the international isolation left over from the collapse of its Cold-War life-support system, all on its own terms. And the main focus of North Korean attention is the United States.

Interestingly, despite the rising speculation about North Korean proliferation to Syria, Washington does not appear to be taking too hard a line against Pyongyang leading up to this round of talks, aside from Bush's requisite lumping of North Korea in with the likes of Belarus, Syria and Iran. And Pyongyang does not appear to be taking steps that would indicate it is all that concerned about the circulating accusations or the attendant consequences for such actions one would normally expect from the United States.

Rather, it seems the earliest hints that came out after the Israeli airstrike on Syria might be the most accurate: that Pyongyang -- in private bilateral negotiations with Washington -- handed over its buyers list, including the lot numbers and details of what it sold to whom and when, and that the Israelis launched a strike on Syria following the U.S. disclosure of a small piece of that information to Tel Aviv. In return, North Korea has been promised removal from the U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism list, in addition to other incentives (perhaps including progress on normalization talks) as part of overall bilateral negotiations.

The mystery and obfuscation following the Israeli strike against Syria, then, allows Washington and North Korea to both play like they don't know what is going on, with neither losing face. Israel leaks that it was in possession of the information and shared it with the United States, not the other way around. (This also makes up for the obvious intelligence failure on the part of the Israelis, if they truly had to wait for North Korea to tell them where the offending material was hiding). North Korea calls Washington a hypocrite for helping Israel develop nuclear weapons and quickly meets with the Syrians, feigning ignorance and claiming conspiracy.

And remarkably, amid what might be proof positive of both Syrian attempts to acquire nuclear weapons and North Korean proliferation of nuclear material, there is no slowing of the six-party process, or of Washington's negotiations with Pyongyang.

If that is the case, then two things will come out of this week's six-party talks. First, there will be clear movement on North Korea's commitment to dismantle the aging Yongbyon nuclear facility, as well as on Washington's assurances of economic aid and removing Pyongyang from international blacklists. But this is window dressing.

More important will be the panic in China (if not also in South Korea, Japan and Russia) as it sees the United States and North Korea reshaping their relationship in spite of the other regional interests. This could strip Beijing of much of its negotiating leverage with Washington on other issues, leave Seoul off-balance as it tries to pursue its own path with regard to the upcoming inter-Korean summit and keep the outlying parties -- Moscow and Tokyo -- unsure of just what the United States will do next, or how that will affect Japan's attempts to take charge of shaping Northeast Asia and Russia's efforts to reassert itself in the region.
26721  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: September 27, 2007, 07:12:00 AM

"No political truth is certainly of greater intrinsic value, or is
stamped with the authority of more enlightened patrons of liberty
than that on which the objection is founded. The accumulation of
all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same
hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary,
self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very
definition of tyranny."

-- James Madison (Federalist No. 48, 1 February 1788)

Reference: Madison, Federalist No. 47.
26722  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: September 27, 2007, 12:12:25 AM
And what an impression of the American mindset this man will take away from the experience!!!
26723  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Indianapolis pinged? on: September 26, 2007, 02:44:55 PM


From today's Indy Star:

Inactive explosives found at airport

By Meagan Ingerson
meagan.ingerson@indystar.com
September 26, 2007

A suspicious item found in a security checkpoint at Indianapolis International Airport this morning caused a concourse of the airport to be closed for about an hour, delaying several flights, according to a report from the Indianapolis Airport Police.
An unidentified passenger reported the suspicious package, which appeared to be an improvised explosive device, after finding the item in a stack of gray plastic trays used to send personal belongings through the X-ray machine, the report stated.
Police shut down the checkpoint and adjoining concourse D from 5:10 to 6:20 a.m. A perimeter was set up and a bomb squad from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department rendered the device safe.

The suspected bomb appears to be a simulated explosive device, the report stated. The device included a battery, wires, a switch, and a plastic bag containing a modeling-clay-like substance labeled as a semtex imitation. Semtex is a plastic explosive often used in terrorist attacks.

According to the report, a second plastic bag also contained a fake explosive consisting of a small amount of a liquid labeled helix and a powder-filled tube. The bag was marked with a label from manufacturer S.E.T.D. Law Enforcement Training Center in Stamford, N.Y., the report stated.

Police called the manufacturer and were told that the company did manufacture the simulated helix but did not make the semtex imitation.

The origin of the simulated device is unknown. The incident is still under investigation by airport police.

Several East Coast-bound flights for United and U.S. Airways were delayed as a result of the closure, airport spokeswoman Susan Sullivan said. No flights were cancelled.

26724  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Thom Beers Interview WJFK RADIO Sept. 07 on: September 26, 2007, 02:40:56 PM
http://www.indiantelevision.com:80/headlines/y2k7/sep/sep414.php
26725  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: September 26, 2007, 01:55:53 PM
Political Journal WSJ

Maybe Liberals Should Find a Radio Host Named 'Laura'

Liberals in Congress have signaled they would like nothing better than to revive the New Deal-era Fairness Doctrine -- which would hobble talk radio by mandating a balanced presentation of all views -- should Democrats win both the White House and Congress next year.

They have a simple motivation. Liberal talk radio just can't seem to make it in the marketplace. Maybe it's because National Public Radio, which is taxpayer-subsidized, leans left enough to satisfy liberal listeners' ideological sweet tooth. Maybe the talk radio audience is skewed to the self-employed who drive much of the day or to conservative retirees. Or maybe it's because liberal arguments presented in their full-throated glory just don't sell in a center-right country.

Air America, the liberal talk radio network that debuted in 2004, is in perpetual trouble and has seen Al Franken, its big star, flee for the relative security of a U.S. Senate campaign. Or take the talk radio network started last year by feminists Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem. The GreenStone radio network offered cutting-edge liberal thinking pitched to a female audience -- and flopped completely. By the time the network's two sugar-mommas pulled the plug late last month, GreenStone had signed up only eight affiliates, all in medium-sized or small markets. The network's staff say they are distressed to find that talk radio continues to be dominated by conservative and male voices.

They need to think again. Female talk radio personalities are doing quite well, thank you. Laura Ingraham's blend of conservative politics and pop culture attracts over five million listeners a week. Laura Schlessinger has almost eight million listeners for her mix of personal advice and stern conservative moral messages. Both have significant female audiences, proving that the message and not the medium is the problem with liberalism's inability to connect with mass audiences on radio.
26726  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 26, 2007, 01:38:13 PM
Cocky - or Cuckoo?

Rudy Giuliani had such a good September -- from a triumphal tour of London to plaudits for his hard-nosed response to the MoveOn.org anti-Iraq War ad -- that it's astonishing how quickly his campaign has run onto the shoulder of the road.

First came last week's bizarre cell-phone incident in which the former New York mayor took a call from his wife, Judith, in the middle of his nationally televised speech to the National Rifle Association. Team Giuliani tried to spin the incident as a light-hearted and "spontaneous" moment that humanized their man, but it quickly developed that Rudy has pulled the same stunt in many other states, demonstrating rudeness to his audiences and raising questions about his campaign's self-discipline.

Then, in an interview with the Associated Press, he refused to rule out raising taxes to offset a Social Security deficit. "I am opposed to tax increases, but I would look at whatever proposal they came up with and try to figure out how we can come up with a bipartisan way to do it,'' Mr. Giuliani said. That very approach has been tried many times before -- most notably by the Greenspan Commission in 1983 -- and always the resultant higher payroll taxes have far outweighed any modest reforms imposed on future Social Security obligations.

Mr. Giuliani's stance may explain why he has refused to sign the "no new taxes" pledge made famous by Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform. But he should realize that since almost every Republican in both the House and Senate has signed it, the maneuvering room for a GOP president to push for tax increases is quite limited. In the meantime, look for the next round of GOP primary debates to become more contentious as candidates who signed the Norquist pledge -- Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee -- line up against those, such as John McCain and Mr. Giuliani, who have not. Fred Thompson, the newest entrant in the GOP field, hasn't made clear what his position will be.

political journal WSJ
26727  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: September 26, 2007, 01:28:29 PM
Wednesday, Sep. 26, 2007
My Dinner with Ahmadinejad

By Richard Stengel

The invitation was on creamy stationery with fancy calligraphy: The Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran "requests the pleasure" of my company to dine with H.E. Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The dinner is at the Intercontinental Hotel — with names carefully written out at all the place settings around a rectangular table. There are about 50 of us, academics and journalists mostly. There's Brian Williams across the room, and Christiane Amanpour a few seats down. And at a little after 8pm, on a day when he has already addressed the U.N., the evening after his confrontation at Columbia, a bowing and smiling Mahmoud Admadinejad glides into the room.
This is now an annual ritual for the President of Iran. Every year, during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, he plots out a media campaign that — in its shrewdness, relentlessness, and quest for attention — would rival Angelina Jolie on a movie junket. And like any international figure, Mr. Ahmadinejad hones his performance for multiple audiences: in this case, the journalists and academics who can filter his speech and ideas for a wider American audience.
The format of the evening is curious. In his calm and fluent voice — "dear friends," he calls us — he requests that we not ask questions, but make statements, so that he can react to them in a form of dialogue. The academics are not shy. They make statements not only about the need for dialogue and reconciliation, but castigate the Iranian government for chilling press freedoms and for arresting Iranian-American scholars who were only trying to foster better relations between America and Iran. Throughout, Ahmadinejad is courtly, preternaturally calm, and fiercely articulate.
After an hour, he is ready to respond. He does so first with a half-hour ode to the relationship between man and God that might have been dictated by the Persian poet Rumi. "I believe that Almighty God created the universe for mankind. Man is God's most important creation and it is through him that we appreciate the beauties of the universe. God has sent man here on a mission." That mission, he says, is to pursue love, justice, kindness and dignity. In fact, he repeats those works so often that it begins to sound like a mantra: Love. Justice. Kindness. Dignity. He speaks with the quiet zeal of a not-very-flamboyant televangelist. "The pursuit of justice through love and kindness and human dignity can end all conflicts on earth," he says. "Inshallah."
When it comes time for him to address the comments, he does so by citing each speaker by name — 23 in all, he notes. In contrast with what he calls the lack of respect and dignity accorded to him at Columbia — where, he says, he found it odd that an academic institution which prizes tolerance would treat him without any — he addresses each person carefully and patiently. Some highlights:
- Iran has not violated any of the rules of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ahmadinejad says. He has proposed a multilateral uranium enrichment program with different nations, and can't understand why no one has taken up his offer.
- The US and Iran can play a positive role together in Iraq. "If the US withdraws from Iraq, good things will happen," he says. "I believe that the Iraqi people can rule themselves."
- In the Middle East, Ahmadinejad says the world must allow the Palestinians to decide their future for themselves: "That is the human solution to sixty years of instability." He refers to Israel only as "the Zionist regime" and does not mention the Holocaust.
- Ahmadinejad claims there are thirty newspapers published in Iran that are opposed to his government, citing that as evidence of press freedom in Iran.
- In answer to a question about how he viewed Hitler's legacy, he says, "I view Hitler's role as extremely negative, a despicably dark face."
- He notes that Americans don't understand Iranian history, saying that the movie 300 — with which he seems intimately familiar — was a "complete distortion of Iranian history." Iran, he says, has never invaded anyone in its history.
Finally, in response to a question about whether war with Iran was growing more likely, he says, "Mr. Bush is interested in harming Iran. But I believe there are wise politicians in America who will prevent such a war. We hate war. We would not welcome it. But we are prepared for every scenario. Yet I don't think war will happen."
With that, Ahmadinejad says he has an early morning appointment the next day, and that he welcomes greater dialogue like this evening. And then, still composed, and with the same slightly mysterious smile that never leaves his face all evening, he bows deeply and heads upstairs.
26728  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: September 26, 2007, 10:36:29 AM
The biz of MMA marches on:  Kimbo vs. Tank http://youtube.com:80/watch?v=ELpSoLP02x0
26729  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: September 26, 2007, 10:16:11 AM
Aha!  Here are the reasons against!

=====

“Time was, Ronald Reagan’s 600-ship Navy gave us freedom of the seas. But if Joe Biden and the Senate have their way, we’ll need the permission of 21 judges in Hamburg. On Thursday, presidential wannabe Biden will chair hearings intended to lead to the ratification of the quarter-century-old Law of the Sea treaty (LOST), a document that would severely restrict our ability to use oceans to defend ourselves and would turn over control of 70% of the world’s surface to a U.N. bureaucracy. Supporters say we must be a signatory to guarantee our share of the resources to be found under the world’s oceans and to avoid situations like the race to claim the sea bed under the Arctic between Russia, Canada and other states. But experience suggests a Law of the Sea tribunal won’t protect interests we should be protecting ourselves. LOST would create an International Seabed Authority (ISA) with the power to regulate and tax things like seabed mining, fishing rights and deep-sea oil exploration. The ISA would decide who gets access to the sea’s resources, and the companies granted these rights would pay a royalty to the ISA. When he refused to sign ISA in 1982, President Reagan rightly decided the U.S. shouldn’t be a part of this global resource grab and redistribution of wealth. It’s in the area of national security that LOST is most dangerous. The [Bush] administration cites military support for the treaty because of its uniform limit on territorial waters and its establishment of ‘rules of the road’ for littoral waters. But current international law already protects nonaggressive passage of military ships. When Reagan vetoed the treaty, the U.S. Navy had 594 warships. We could protect our own right of passage. Today the fleet has withered to 276 vessels. Is that why we need the treaty? The answer is to build more warships. Our access to the seas should be guaranteed by the Navy and not a U.N. bureaucracy.” —Investor’s Business Daily
26730  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: September 26, 2007, 08:30:46 AM
I can't remember why, but when this Treaty first came up for confirmation years ago I was against it.

I have mixed feelings about Co-author James Baker, but George Shultz is someone who I've respected greatly over the years.

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

Why the 'Law of the Sea'
Is a Good Deal
By JAMES A. BAKER III and GEORGE P. SHULTZ
September 26, 2007; Page A21

The Convention of the Law of the Sea is back. It will be the subject of Senate hearings this week. If the U.S. finally becomes party to this treaty, it will be a boon for our national security and our economic interests. U.S. accession will codify our maritime rights and give us new tools to advance national interests.

The convention's primary functions are to define maritime zones, preserve freedom of navigation, allocate resource rights, establish certainty necessary for various businesses that depend on the sea and protect the marine environment. Flaws in the deep-seabed mining chapter that prevented President Reagan from supporting the convention were fixed in 1994. Both President Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have supported accession. Yet, the U.S. remains one of the few major countries not party to the convention.

Our participation would increase our ability to wage the war on terror. The convention assures maximum maritime naval and air mobility, which is essential for our military forces to operate effectively. It provides the stability and framework for our forces, weapons and materials to be deployed without hindrance -- ensuring our ability to navigate past critical choke points throughout the world.

Some say it's good enough to protect our navigational interests through customary law. If that approach fails, then we can employ the threat of force or the use of it. However, because customary law is vague, it does not provide a strong foundation for critical national security rights. Meanwhile, the use of force can be risky and costly. Joining the convention would put our vital rights on a firmer legal basis, gaining legal certainty and legitimacy as we operate in the world's largest international zone.

This is why the U.S. military has been a strong advocate of joining the Law of the Sea Convention. This point was reinforced in a recent letter sent by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, calling on the Senate to support U.S. accession because "t furthers our National Security Strategy, strengthens the coalition, and supports the President's Proliferation Security Initiative."

The convention also provides substantial economic benefits to the United States. It accords coastal states the right to declare an Exclusive Economic Zone -- an area where they have exclusive rights to explore and exploit, and the responsibility to conserve and manage, living and non-living resources extending 200 nautical miles seaward from their shoreline. Our nation's EEZ is larger than that of any country in the world -- covering an area greater than the landmass of the lower 48 states. This zone can be extended beyond 200 nautical miles if certain geological criteria are met. This has potentially significant economic benefits to the U.S. where its continental shelves may be as broad as 600 miles, such as off Alaska, an area containing vast natural resources.

Further, as the world's pre-eminent maritime power with one of the longest coastlines, the U.S. has more to gain and to lose than any other country in terms of how the convention's terms are interpreted and applied.

Accession would increase our influence by allowing us to nominate experts for the technical bodies that apply the convention's terms, address proposals to amend the convention from within (rather than from the sidelines), and increase our credibility as a leader in international ocean policy.

As we speak, international deliberations for rights to energy- and mineral-rich areas in the Arctic beyond the traditional 200-mile EEZ are proceeding without U.S. input. Just recently, Russia placed its flag on the North Pole's ocean floor. While seen as largely symbolic, the part of the Arctic Ocean claimed by Russia could hold oil and gas deposits equal to about 20% of the world's current oil and gas reserves. If the U.S. was party to the treaty, we would strengthen our capacity to influence deliberations and negotiations involving other nations' attempts to extend their continental boundaries.

As a non-party, however, the U.S. has limited options for disputing claims such as these and is stymied from taking full advantage of resources that could be under U.S. jurisdiction. Similarly, lack of participation in the convention is jeopardizing economic opportunities associated with commercial deep-sea mining operations in international waters beyond exclusive economic zones -- opportunities currently being pursued by Canadian, Australian and German firms.

The continuing delay of U.S. accession to the convention compromises our nation's authority to exercise its sovereign interests, jeopardizes its national and economic security, and limits its leadership role in international ocean policy.

Given President Bush's public statement of support for the convention, the support of prior presidents and their administrations and the strong, bipartisan and diverse support it has from all major U.S. ocean industries, the environmental community and national security experts, it is clearly time for the Senate to act by supporting accession to the Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Messrs. Baker and Shultz are former secretaries of state.
26731  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 26, 2007, 08:21:22 AM
This from the WSJ!


Calling Rudy
For Mr. Giuliani, it's more than his wife that's on the line.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Most Americans understand it takes an extra chromosome to run for President, but there are some limits on odd behavior. Which makes us wonder what Rudy Giuliani was thinking last Friday when he accepted, and even flaunted, a phone call from his wife Judith in the middle of his speech to the National Rifle Association.

This was no emergency call. His cell phone rang in his pocket during his speech, which is itself unusual; most public officials turn theirs off during events, if only out of courtesy for the audience. Mr. Giuliani went on to answer it and carry on a routine "love you" and "have a safe trip" exchange with Mrs. Giuliani while the crowd (and those of us watching on C-Span) wondered what in the world that was all about.

His campaign aides spun the episode as a "candid and spontaneous moment" illustrative of the couple's affection. We might believe that if we hadn't heard stories of similar behavior by Mr. Giuliani as he has campaigned around the country. During one event in Oklahoma, we're told he took two calls, at least one from his wife, and chatted for several minutes as the audience waited. That episode followed Mr. Giuliani's eye-popping disclosure earlier this year that, if he's elected, his wife would sit in on Cabinet meetings. He later downplayed that possibility.

Mr. Giuliani has run an impressive campaign so far, especially on the issues. He has a record of accomplishment in New York, and he projects the kind of executive competence that many Americans want in a President. The rap on his candidacy, however, is that his personal history and behavior are simply too strange for someone who wants to sit in the Oval Office. Voters will decide whether that's true, but if nothing else Mr. Giuliani ought to be aware of this vulnerability and do nothing to compound it.

"That was just weird," one NRA audience member told the New York Post about the phone interruption. Mr. Giuliani doesn't need more weird.

 
26732  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: September 26, 2007, 08:16:35 AM
The following was sent to me without URL.  Anyone know anything about this?
=============


China

Rabbi Marvin Tokayer   
 
In the mountainous area of northwest China, west of the Min River, near the border of Tibet, in Szechuan lives an ancient people called by the Chinese, Chiang or Chiang-Min, who numbers about 250 thousand people.
The language of the Chiang tribe had been forgotten and they had also lost their ancient script. Today they speak Chinese and two other languages, one that originates from Tibet and the other is a slang which is called Chiaring.

The area which they live is famous for its rare animals and plants including the Panda bear. The Chiang people live in villages similar to fortresses which are generally built on hilltops. In the past they were a great people who ruled the provincial territories from Kansu in the north to Liyunan in the south.

Historical maps during the Han dynasty (3rd century BCE - 3rd century CE) show that this tribe the Chiang spread to the northwest part of China. They themselves see themselves as immigrants from the west who reached this area after a journey of three years three months. The Chinese treated them as Barbarians and they related to the Chinese as idol worshipers.

Hate and enmity existed between the Chinese and this tribe for a long time. They lived independently until the middle of the 18th century when they became part of the general population to earn more freedom. The religious pressure from the Chinese, the spread of Christianity, and the influence of intermarriage caused the Chiang tribe to generally and greatly give up their special monotheistic way of life.

However it is still possible even today to learn about the past traditions of the Chiang tribe through their customs and their faith which they still keep. This tribe had been living a special Israeli way of life for 2300 years.

According to their tradition, the Chiang tribe is the descendant of Abraham and their forefather had 12 sons. Those among them who did not take Chinese wives after their victory in war still look Semitic.

The character traits of this people are integrity, love of neighbor, mutual aid, generosity, modesty, shyness, gratitude, and stubbornness. They also have a fear of heaven or respect for God.

They believe in one God whom they call Abachi meaning the father of heaven, or Mabichu, the spirit of heaven, or also Tian, heaven. As a result of Chinese influences they all call Him God of the mountains as the mountains are the central place for worship of God.

Their concept of God is that of an all powerful God who watches over the entire world, judges the world fairly, rewards the righteous, and punishes the wicked. This God gives them the opportunity to do repentance and to gain atonement for their actions. In times of trouble, they call God Yah-weh.

They also believe in spirits and demons and they are forbidden to worship them, but this is probably a Chinese influence. In the past they had written scrolls of parchment and also books but today they only have oral traditions. They themselves do not understand the prayers that they recite every week.


The Custom of Sacrifice Among the Chiang Tribe

The Chiang tribe lives a very special way of life based on the offering of animal sacrifices which seems to have been seen among the Ten Tribes of Israel. It is forbidden to worship statues or foreign gods and anyone who offers a sacrifice to another god faces the death penalty.

This worship is performed in two ways. It is public sacrifice on platforms erected on mountain tops on which they build altars of stone which may not be fashioned with tools and on which they offer special sacrifices.

They also have domestic of personal sacrifices on domestic altars built on flat surfaces on the roofs of their houses. There is an atmosphere of holy worship in all these sacrifices. They are performed by priests whose priesthood is passed down through inheritance from father to son. This was the same in ancient Israel.

These priests wear clean white clothes and perform the sacrifices in a state of purity as the priests in ancient Israel did (1 Samuel 15:27). I recall that Japanese Shinto priests also wear clean white clothes at holy events.

The priest of the Chiang tribe wears a special head turban. The priest is ordained in a special ceremony in which sacrifices are also offered. Unmarried men may not be a priest, which was the same in ancient Israel (Leviticus 21:7, 13).

The Chiang tribe does not have statues of images but they do have two symbols of holiness. A clean white sheet of paper and a piece of natural white stone. These symbolize absolute purity and perhaps the written parchment which they had in the past. Before one worships God, you must become holy and purify yourself.

It is perhaps because of the Assyrian influence of the past that they try to build their altars next to trees or branches. The altar itself is built of earth which is molded into stones which are then laid one on top of the other without being cut of fashioned by any tool of metal. It is important to remember that in the Torah, the ancient altar could not be made of cut stones (Exodus 20:25), since the sword or whatever tool to be used to cut the stone was also an instrument of war and harm.

The main part of the service is performed at night perhaps to conceal it from other Chinese or because of the special effect of the silence and the tranquility of night. This was also ancient Israeli tradition. It is interesting that the important rituals of Japanese Shinto religion are also performed at night.

Before the offering of sacrifices, one is required to wash one's self and one's clothing and to dress in clean garments. Sacrificial animals themselves must be washed and purified. There is a special place for purification and washing. The elders and priest place their hands on the head of the sacrifice which is to be slaughtered then offer their prayers.

Strangers are forbidden to approach the place of worship. The priest of the Chiang tribe perform the service solemnly. "Unclean ones" are also forbidden to approach the service (Leviticus 21:17-23). These were the same in ancient Israel.

The purpose of the sacrifice is a type of atonement and to bring God's blessings upon those offering the sacrifice. The sacrifice has the purpose of taking away sin and blood must be sprinkled on the corners of the altar to be granted atonement and to have one's prayers accepted.



Prayer Words of the Chiang Tribe

One of the prayers pronounced by the priest of the Chiang tribe in China includes the following prayer:
"Priest of God, You are the Priest of the generations who are witnesses to the fact that our sacrifice is pure and has not been changed by us, but has been performed in the same manner since ancient times. We hereby fulfill our vows. We have not eaten impure foods for three days and we have not been in impure places. We have gathered in the holy place, the bundles of grass for the sprinkling of the blood are in their places and we have brought the sacrifices and have lowered the rope on the bundles of grass for the sprinkling of the blood."

Following the prayer many of the organs of the animal are burnt with the meat in the fire and the priest receives the shoulder, the chest, the legs, and also the skin, and the meat is divided among the worshipers. At the time of the sacrifice 12 flags are placed around the altar in order to teach that they originate from a father who had 12 sons. This system of sacrifices is very similar to the sacrifices brought in ancient Israel at the time of the dispersion of the Lost Tribes.

Among the ceremonies that the Chiang tribe has include the sprinkling of blood on the doorpost to insure the safekeeping of the house, and the laws of levirate marriage which was an Israeli custom as I mentioned earlier. It is considered shameful for a woman to leave her hair uncovered and therefore, they wear white scarves. Mixed dancing of men and women does not take place. And they have a custom of closing all forests for 50 years after which they have a special ceremony to mark their opening. This is like a custom in ancient Israel.

The the Chiang tribe also has a purification of the earth as well as a ceremony with a white scroll or parchment. They show great love for parchment and take care to make sure that it remains unblemished. They also practice trances for witchcraft and to expel demons and this may be a Chinese influence.

The Chiang tribe has a new year feast, a feast of feast, and a feast of thanksgiving, but circumcision is not performed. But after the 7th day or at the eve of the 40th day of the child's life, a white rooster is slaughtered in the child's honor and he is given a name.


 
26733  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 26, 2007, 08:05:24 AM
NY Slimes:

By KEN BELSON and JILL P. CAPUZZO
Published: September 26, 2007

RIVERSIDE, N.J., Sept. 25 — A little more than a year ago, the Township Committee in this faded factory town became the first municipality in New Jersey to enact legislation penalizing anyone who employed or rented to an illegal immigrant.

Angelina Guedes has owned a hair and nail salon in Riverside, N.J., for two years. It was nearly empty on a recent afternoon.
Within months, hundreds, if not thousands, of recent immigrants from Brazil and other Latin American countries had fled. The noise, crowding and traffic that had accompanied their arrival over the past decade abated.

The law had worked. Perhaps, some said, too well.

With the departure of so many people, the local economy suffered. Hair salons, restaurants and corner shops that catered to the immigrants saw business plummet; several closed. Once-boarded-up storefronts downtown were boarded up again.

Meanwhile, the town was hit with two lawsuits challenging the law. Legal bills began to pile up, straining the town’s already tight budget. Suddenly, many people — including some who originally favored the law — started having second thoughts.

So last week, the town rescinded the ordinance, joining a small but growing list of municipalities nationwide that have begun rethinking such laws as their legal and economic consequences have become clearer.

“I don’t think people knew there would be such an economic burden,” said Mayor George Conard, who voted for the original ordinance. “A lot of people did not look three years out.”

In the past two years, more than 30 towns nationwide have enacted laws intended to address problems attributed to illegal immigration, from overcrowded housing and schools to overextended police forces. Most of those laws, like Riverside’s, called for fines and even jail sentences for people who knowingly rented apartments to illegal immigrants or who gave them jobs.

In some places, business owners have objected to crackdowns that have driven away immigrant customers. And in many, ordinances have come under legal assault by immigration groups and the American Civil Liberties Union.

In June, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against a housing ordinance in Farmers Branch, Tex., that would have imposed fines against landlords who rented to illegal immigrants. In July, the city of Valley Park, Mo., repealed a similar ordinance, after an earlier version was struck down by a state judge and a revision brought new challenges. A week later, a federal judge struck down ordinances in Hazleton, Pa., the first town to enact laws barring illegal immigrants from working or renting homes there.

Muzaffar A. Chishti, director of the New York office of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonprofit group, said Riverside’s decision to repeal its law — which was never enforced — was clearly influenced by the Hazleton ruling, and he predicted that other towns would follow suit.

“People in many towns are now weighing the social, economic and legal costs of pursuing these ordinances,” he said.

Indeed, Riverside, a town of 8,000 nestled across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, has already spent $82,000 defending its ordinance, and it risked having to pay the plaintiffs’ legal fees if it lost in court. The legal battle forced the town to delay road paving projects, the purchase of a dump truck and repairs to town hall, officials said. But while Riverside’s about-face may repair its budget, it may take years to mend the emotional scars that formed when the ordinance “put us on the national map in a bad way,” Mr. Conard said.

Rival advocacy groups in the immigration debate turned this otherwise sleepy town into a litmus test for their causes. As the television cameras rolled, Riverside was branded, in turns, a racist enclave and a town fighting for American values.

Some residents who backed the ban last year were reluctant to discuss their stance now, though they uniformly blamed outsiders for misrepresenting their motives. By and large, they said the ordinance was a success because it drove out illegal immigrants, even if it hurt the town’s economy.

“It changed the face of Riverside a little bit,” said Charles Hilton, the former mayor who pushed for the ordinance. (He was voted out of office last fall but said it was not because he had supported the law.)

“The business district is fairly vacant now, but it’s not the legitimate businesses that are gone,” he said. “It’s all the ones that were supporting the illegal immigrants, or, as I like to call them, the criminal aliens.”

======

Towns Rethink Laws Against Illegal Immigrants
Published: September 26, 2007
(Page 2 of 2)



Many businesses that remain are having a hard time. Angelina Guedes, a Brazilian-born beautician, opened A Touch From Brazil, a hair and nail salon, on Scott Street two years ago to cater to the immigrant population. At one point, she had 10 workers.

Business quickly dried up after the law against illegal immigrants. Last week, on what would usually be a busy Thursday afternoon, Ms. Guedes ate a salad and gave a friend a manicure, while the five black stylist chairs sat empty.

“Now I only have myself,” said Ms. Guedes, 41, speaking a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese. “They all left. I also want to leave but it’s not possible because no one wants to buy my business.”

Numerous storefronts on Scott Street are boarded up or are empty, with For Sale by Owner signs in the windows. Business is down by half at Luis Ordonez’s River Dance Music Store, which sells Western Union wire transfers, cellphones and perfume. Next door, his restaurant, the Scott Street Family Cafe, which has a multiethnic menu in English, Spanish and Portuguese, was empty at lunchtime.

“I came here looking for an opportunity to open a business and I found it, and the people also needed the service,” said Mr. Ordonez, who is from Ecuador. “It was crowded and everybody was trying to do their best to support their families.”

Some have adapted better than others. Bruce Behmke opened the R & B Laundromat in 2003 after he saw immigrants hauling trash bags full of clothing to a laundry a mile away. Sales took off at his small shop, where want ads in Portuguese are pinned to a corkboard and copies of the Brazilian Voice sit near the door.

When sales plummeted last year, Mr. Behmke started a wash-and-fold delivery service for young professionals.

“It became a ghost town here,” he said.

Immigration is not new to Riverside. Once a summer resort for Philadelphians, the town became a magnet a century ago for European immigrants drawn to its factories, including the Philadelphia Watch Case Company, whose empty hulk still looms over town. Until the 1930s, the minutes of the school board meetings were recorded in German and English.

“There’s always got to be some scapegoats,” said Regina Collinsgru, who runs The Positive Press, a local newspaper, and whose husband was among a wave of Portuguese immigrants who came here in the 1960s. “The Germans were first, there were problems when the Italians came, then the Polish came. That’s the nature of a lot of small towns.”

Immigrants from Latin America began arriving around 2000. The majority were Brazilians attracted not only by construction jobs in the booming housing market but also by the presence of Portuguese-speaking businesses in town. Between 2000 and 2006, local business owners and officials estimate, more than 3,000 immigrants arrived. There are no authoritative figures about the number of immigrants who were — or were not — in the country legally.

Like those waves of earlier immigrants, the Brazilians and Latinos triggered conflicting reactions. Some shopkeepers loved the extra dollars spent on Scott and Pavilion Streets, the modest thoroughfares that anchor downtown. Yet some residents steered clear of stores where Portuguese and Spanish were plainly the language of choice. A few contractors benefited from the new pool of cheap labor. Others begrudged being undercut by rivals who hired undocumented workers.

On the town’s leafy side streets, some residents admired the pluck of newcomers who often worked six days a week, and a few even took up Capoeira, the Brazilian martial art. Yet many neighbors loathed the white vans with out-of-state plates and ladders on top parked in spots they had long considered their own. The Brazilian flags that flew at several houses rankled more than a few longtime residents.

It is unclear whether the Brazilian and Latino immigrants who left will now return to Riverside. With the housing market slowing, there may be little reason to come back. But if they do, some residents say they may spark new tensions.

Mr. Hilton, the former mayor, said some of the illegal immigrants have already begun filtering back into town. “It’s not the Wild West like it was,” he said, “but it may return to that.”
26734  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: September 26, 2007, 07:57:52 AM
From today's NY Times:

Iran’s Media Assail President’s Treatment
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By NAZILA FATHI
Published: September 26, 2007
TEHRAN, Sept. 25 — Iranian state television on Tuesday sharply criticized the way President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been treated during his Columbia University talk and asserted that he had triumphed over his adversarial hosts, whom it described as Zionist Jews.

Commentary, interviews and video broadcast in Iran of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s appearance at Columbia on Monday depicted a resolute leader who overcame an ambush of personal insults to present his views on topics like the Holocaust, Israel, the Palestinians and nuclear weapons, views that were described as having been well received by the audience.

“In the end, who was the winner?” asked one television commentator, leaving the answer to a quote from John R. Bolton, a former American ambassador to the United Nations and an outspoken Iran critic, who said Mr. Ahmadinejad was the “big winner” for being able to talk at the university.

The evening news showed scenes of the large crowd that Mr. Ahmadinejad’s talk had drawn inside and outside the university. “Mr. Ahmadinejad was the center of the world news for the past few days,” said the reporter.

“Some media even called on students to boycott the speech,” the reporter added, saying that instead Mr. Ahmadinejad got a warm welcome.

The program repeated scenes that showed the audience cheering Mr. Ahmadinejad, suggesting that a lot of the audience was made up of his supporters. “I saw even Jewish students who walked out of the talk saying Mr. Ahmadinejad was very convincing,” a woman wearing a head scarf told the program in English.

It also pointed out that the president of Columbia, Lee C. Bollinger, had made insulting remarks, without elaborating on them. Mr. Bollinger had said that Mr. Ahmadinejad exhibited “all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator,” and that he was “brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated.”

The television broadcasts also showed video of the audience booing Mr. Ahmadinejad when he said there were no homosexuals in Iran. It added that a protest was orchestrated by a Zionist lobby that had brought schoolchildren.

Mohsen Rezai, a former head of the Revolutionary Guards, denounced on the state-run news channel the inhospitable treatment of Mr. Ahmadinejad. “He is the president of a country,” he said. “It is shocking that a country that claims to be civilized treats him that way.”

In an interview with the Aftab Web site, Ali Ahmadi, a member of Parliament, also spoke harshly about Mr. Ahmadinejad’s treatment, and criticized those in the Iranian government who had advised him to appear at the university.

“New York is the headquarters of Zionist Jews, and they have control over Columbia University,” he said. “It seems that our diplomacy apparatus had not given complete information to the president.”
26735  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Islamismo radical y España on: September 26, 2007, 07:56:27 AM
!Mas por favor!
26736  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Music on: September 26, 2007, 07:32:41 AM
This is an extemely important question that you raise.  May I suggest/ask that you do so in the Technology or Libertarian threads?
26737  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: September 26, 2007, 07:28:50 AM

"We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die: Our won Country's
Honor, all call upon us for vigorous and manly exertion, and if we
now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world.
Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the
aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate
and encourage us to great and noble Actions. "

-- George Washington (General Orders, 2 July 1776)

Reference: George Washington: A Collection, W.B. Allen, ed. (71)
26738  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: September 2007 Euro Gathering on: September 26, 2007, 01:34:10 AM
I leave on Thursday night.  Looking forward to this!  cool
26739  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 26, 2007, 01:24:41 AM
COLUMBIA'S LOSS
THE MESSAGE IT WON'T HEAR
 
What's Columbia afraid of? An ROTC cadet walking back to his dorm at Princeton. September 25, 2007 -- THE Iranian president's welcome to Columbia - following a self-serving whine by the university's president - reflected brainless activism, not academic freedom.
It was the professoriate imitating Hollywood's embrace of terrorists.

We hear a great deal about the dumbing down of students, but the real problem has been the dumbing down of the teaching class.

Yes, there's been a media fuss over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's propaganda opportunity. But that just makes the faculty-lounge "heroes" feel even more self-righteous. Anyway, post-modern professors seek publicity, not knowledge.

And we give it to the weasels.

Meanwhile, Columbia denies our military's ROTC programs the chance to recruit and teach on campus - ostensibly because of the Congress-approved "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Of course, it's just a cultural issue when Ahmadinejad executes homosexuals (although, according to him, there aren't any in Iran).

The ban on ROTC isn't really about gay rights, though. The professors and student-activists behind it believe they're punishing the wicked, wicked Pentagon. Well, let me break the truth to Professor Bunkum: The military doesn't need Ivy League recruits. We're doing just fine without them, thanks.

The victims of the ban are students - who are denied one of the greatest career opportunities our country has to offer. Certainly, not every weenie scribbling a master's thesis on "Cold War-era gender oppression in Archie comics" is meant for a military career. But for the right student the chance to serve would be, literally, the chance of a lifetime.

For the sake of argument, let's set aside all talk of the rewards of serving a higher cause. Selfishly, a military career is an incredible chance for the right individual. My military friends and I can attest that no one ever retired from the Army thinking, Gee, I wish I'd spent my life selling time-shares in Orlando.

The richness of a career in uniform came home to me again a few weeks ago, when I had dinner with a just-retired Army buddy, Col. Tom Wilhem. We were celebrating: He'd recently bought his family their first it's-really-ours home near Ft. Leavenworth, Kan. (Worst of all, from the counter-culture perspective, Tom's family is intact, loving and happy.)

In his three decades of service, Tom had ridden ponies across the steppes and slept in Mongol yurts. He'd bow-hunted big game around the world, convinced the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders to entertain his troops in the Yugoslav ruins - and been chased through the mountains by a Russian helicopter gunship.

As we sat and reminisced, we hooted over the adventures of our other comrades - friends closer than any to be made in the civilian world. We recalled being the first Americans ever to touch remote spots of the globe. Between the two of us, we'd seen a hundred countries, watched multiple wars and helped shape national policies behind the scenes.

We'd stood on different sides of the Khyber Pass and gone on secret counter-drug operations, wandered through the African bush, penetrated fundamentalist-run refugee camps and survived more crises than Lindsay Lohan. Tom rode his antique motorcycle through tribal gun-battles. I'd dodged cobras while jogging in the Golden Triangle.

Talking with Tom conjured the scene in "Blade Runner" when the android played by Rutger Hauer drags Harrison Ford back up to the roof and, before expiring, tries to communicate the wonders he's seen: exploding galaxies and the death of worlds.

Tom and I may not have seen galaxies disintegrate, but we did see empires collapse, humanity torn asunder and the human condition far removed from the shopping mall. Along the way, we encountered realms of beauty far beyond any tourist's itinerary.

Graduates of Columbia will never know what they missed. My pals and I laugh about identity-crisis adults who pay to go on Outward Bound trips. The Army paid us to go.

Meanwhile, the punk egotism poisoning Ivy League faculties prevents even those students who wouldn't measure up to military standards from learning about the richness of the United States beyond the Peter Pan world of the campus. Ahmadinejad may be a Holocaust-denier, but Columbia's faculty denies our nation's history, determined to cast America as the villain.

The profs don't just despise our military - they despise you.

Well, the Army will go on, whether or not young men and women from Columbia, Harvard or Yale sign up to serve. But, thanks to hypocritical professors who want to "protect" them (are students enrolled at Columbia unable to think for themselves?), the Ivy grads will miss a chance to count something other than extra-marital affairs as great adventures.

Back in the 1960s, higher education stopped being about the students and became a theater for the Freudian insecurities of PhDs. In the '70s, their hysterics led to numerous campuses booting out ROTC programs.

The price paid by our military? We now have the best motivated, most professional and best educated armed forces in our history.

The result for the students? President Ahmadinejad - Israel-hater, religious fanatic and sponsor of terror - commands the stage at Columbia, where our veterans are unwelcome.

Who really loses?

Ralph Peters' memoir of his adventure travels in uniform, "Looking for Trouble" is due out next year.

26740  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: September 25, 2007, 09:52:21 PM
 rolleyes rolleyes rolleyes

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/9/23/83652/6735


Why I Have A Little Crush on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
by sallykohn
Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 05:50:02 AM PDT

I know I'm a Jewish lesbian and he'd probably have me killed. But still, the guy speaks some blunt truths about the Bush Administration that make me swoon...
sallykohn's diary :: ::

Okay, I admit it. Part of it is that he just looks cuddly. Possibly cuddly enough to turn me straight. I think he kind of looks like Kermit the Frog. Sort of. With smaller eyes. But that’s not all…

I want to be very clear. There are certainly many things about Ahmadinejad that I abhor — locking up dissidents, executing of gay folks, denying the fact of the Holocaust, potentially adding another dangerous nuclear power to the world and, in general, stifling democracy. Even still, I can’t help but be turned on by his frank rhetoric calling out the horrors of the Bush Administration and, for that matter, generations of US foreign policy preceding.

...Monday, when Ahmadinejad speaks at Columbia University in New York, I’ll be listening. Maybe with a bottle of wine and some soft music playing in the background. If I can get past the fact that, as a Jewish lesbian, he’d probably have me killed, I’ll try to listen for some truth.
26741  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: September 25, 2007, 05:33:36 PM
Bad Day

I rear ended a car this morning...

I knew It was going to be a really bad day.

The driver got out of the other car and he was a dwarf!

He looked up at me and said, 'I am not Happy'.

I said, 'Well then, which one are you?'

That's when the fight started!!!
26742  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crafty Dog ? on: September 25, 2007, 05:14:44 PM
Woof Max:

Call me at 310-543-7521 so we can schedule our time.

Please make your deposit at:
http://dogbrothers.com/product_info.php?cPath=22&products_id=105

The Adventure continues!
26743  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sunni vs. Shia Part Two on: September 25, 2007, 04:09:13 PM
Move toward 'big-tent Islam'

Besides the efforts to encourage dialogue, there's another phenomenon that could help ward off sectarian friction here: the inexorable force of assimilation.

At a time when rising numbers of American Protestants are attending non-denominational community churches and referring to themselves simply as Christians rather than Baptists, Methodists or Lutherans, a similar thing is happening among Muslims in the USA.

"It's a whole new era," says Patel. "The bulk of the American Muslim community is overwhelmingly young, under age 40. And they are experiencing a huge momentum toward 'big-tent Islam.' "

"We don't want to be defined by the classifications of history and the Middle East. The Quran is our authority," says Salim Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Al-Marayati, a Shiite married to a Sunni, expects to see 10,000 Muslims of all sects celebrate the Eid with the Islamic Center of Southern California next month in Los Angeles.

He calls himself "Sushi," the popular term for a combination of Sunni and Shiite. Once the glib nickname for the children of intermarried couples, it has become shorthand for Muslims who blur sectarian lines.

All that mixing and melding comes to life at the Islamic Society gathering's annual bazaar and the matrimonial meet-up events — the Islamic equivalent of speed dating for singles whose religion bans Western-style dating.

The five-acre bazaar at a convention center in Rosemont, outside Chicago, is a cacophony of blaring music and kaleidoscopic colors, with booths featuring honey, saris, music, travel, bank services, real estate, silver, shampoo, funeral services — and ideas, as well.

There were Sunni and Shiite book stands, promotions for online education programs, and booths for major Muslim political and social groups. Several federal agencies had stands just aisles away from where entrepreneurs hawked T-shirts emblazoned with slogans such as "Frisk Me, I'm Muslim."

At the adjacent Hyatt Hotel grand ballroom, a more familiar form of unity is the focus: marriage.

At each of two "matrimonial events," 200 women, ages 18 and up, were seated at 40 tables, with an empty seat between each woman so 200 men could rotate around the room, chatting with each woman for a few minutes before jumping to the next chair.

Zipping from chair to chair in the ballroom, "I don't think I even had time to ask a girl whether she was Sunni or Shia," says Faizan Arshad, a 24-year-old medical student in Chicago who's discussing a future with a woman he met that day. "To split hairs about sect did not seem the best use of my time," he says in a later e-mail.

Arshad is typical, says Patel, author of Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim. Patel, a Shiite, is married to a Sunni and says they want their "Sushi" child to grow up "fluent in all the multiple rituals and practices of Islam."

Or perhaps Patel's child will be more like Sarah Soliman, 17, of Cincinnati, daughter of Egyptian-born Sunni parents and a conference organizer for the Islamic Society's teen wing, Muslim Youth of North America.

"I didn't know until I was in middle school that there were any differences among us," Sarah says, "and I still don't get the split."
__________________
26744  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: September 25, 2007, 04:07:16 PM
Sunni-vs-Shite in US?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Today's USA TODAY had an article on a subject that I've never seen addressed before, possible conflict between US Sunni's and Shite's.


Tension between Sunnis, Shiites emerging in USA

By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY

When Muslim journalist S. Hussain Zaidi toured the USA recently, he was stunned by what he saw: Shiite and Sunni Muslims, whose conflicts have fueled the war in Iraq and tension in the Middle East and beyond, were praying together in U.S. mosques.

"It is something we never see at home," says Zaidi, of India. "They want to kill each other everywhere except in the USA."

For years, Sunnis and Shiites in this country have worked together to build mosques, support charities, register voters and hold massive feasts for Eid al-Fitr (on Oct. 13 this year in the USA), the celebration at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Now there are small signs of tension emerging in America's Muslim community that are raising concerns among many of its leaders. They worry that the bitter divisions that have caused so much bloodshed abroad are beginning to have an impact here. Such concerns are rising at a time when the USA's Muslim community has grown from less than 1 million in 1990 to nearly 2.5 million today, with two of three Muslims born overseas, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.

"You have people who recently arrived from other places where things may have gotten out of hand," says Sheik Hamza Yusuf, the U.S.-born co-founder of the nation's first Muslim seminary, the Zaytuna Institute, in Berkeley, Calif. "It takes just one deranged person with a cousin back home who died in a suicide bombing to create trouble here."

Several recent incidents pointing to rising tension among Sunnis and Shiites here have led Muslim leaders to call on their followers to reach out to those in other sects. None of the incidents has been violent. But Yusuf and other leaders worry that these could be signs of increasingly cool relations between Sunnis and Shiites here or undermine other Americans' views of a religion that has been under particular scrutiny since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Among the incidents:

•Shiite mosques and businesses in the Detroit area were vandalized in January, and a Shiite restaurant owner said he'd received a threatening call mentioning his sect.

Authorities have yet to identify the vandals. But some Shiite Muslims told local news media they believe Sunnis were behind the broken windows and graffiti because Shiites had celebrated publicly when former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, was executed in December by Iraq's Shiite-led government.

•On several Muslim websites in recent months, Sunnis and Shiites from Seattle to Manhattan have traded accusations that they have been rebuffed from worshiping at each other's mosques.

Meanwhile, a small Sunni group known as the Islamic Thinkers Society, which has branded Shiites as heretics and is known for distributing provocative leaflets in New York's Times Square, has gone online to urge its followers to "avoid" contact with a range of Islamic studies scholars and theologians, several at U.S. colleges.

•Muslim Student Associations on a few campuses, such as Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., and the University of Michigan at Dearborn, have disagreed so vehemently over which sect could lead prayers that students sometimes have refused to pray together.

The factionalism on those campuses has cooled recently, but many observers worry it could return. They say it's partly a reflection of the rising numbers of Muslim students. "If you have nine Muslims in one MSA, they have to get along," says Muslim sociologist Eboo Patel, 31, of Chicago. "If you have 90, there's enough to break into splinter groups."
Other Muslim activists, scholars and imams, who lead the important Friday communal prayers in the nation's 1,000 mosques, agree that the episodes partly reflect their community's growth and diversity in America.
They fear such incidents could fuel "Islamophobia" — their term for irrational prejudice against anyone Islamic.

"The sad reality is that there are extremists" who selectively misuse Islamic teachings to justify their violence, says Ingrid Mattson, a professor of Islamic Studies at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Conn., and the president of the USA's largest Muslim civic and social group, the Islamic Society of North America.

At the society's annual Labor Day weekend gathering — an event in suburban Chicago that was part academic seminar, part community rally and part reunion for more than 30,000 families — Mattson's keynote speech urged Muslims to "look beyond the seventh-century tribal society into which Islam was first revealed."

A split over succession

Sunnis and Shiites share belief in the five pillars of Islam — submission to God, daily prayer, fasting, charity and a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in any able Muslim's life. But they split over Islam's spiritual leadership.
The schism dates to the death of the prophet Mohammed in A.D. 632. Shiites believe that a relative, Ali ibn Abi Talib, had been named successor and that his son Ali, assassinated in 661, and grandson Hussein inherited the rightful imam's miraculous knowledge and powers.

Sunnis, however, believed the Muslim community should elect its leader based on scholarly merit, not heredity. They chose Abu Bakr, a companion of the prophet, instead.

By 680, the sects were at war. Hussein was killed at the battle of Karbala in modern-day Iraq that year, and to this day, Shiites mourn him and other martyred imams.

Since then, like Christians who waged religious wars across Europe for centuries over how to interpret the Bible or baptize a believer, Muslim sects and the legal schools within them have developed differing views on faith and practice, each certain that salvation is at stake.
Among the world's estimated 1.4 billion Muslims, about 85% are Sunni and about 15% are Shiite.

For all the conflicts among Muslims abroad, those in America historically not only have gotten along, but assimilated to the point that their sects have become secondary. In a 2006 survey of 1,000 Muslim registered voters, about 12% identified themselves as Shiite, 36% said they were Sunni, and 40% called themselves "just a Muslim," according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

"America gives people the unique opportunity to leave cultural, historical baggage behind," CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper says. "We can serve as a model to the world of an Islam that is clear, calm, articulate, forthright and civil."

Even so, it's an opportunity a few Muslims in the USA refuse.
"I've seen people fight over how close their toes can be when they kneel in prayer. It's got to stop," says Imam Mohamed Magid of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), which has seven mosques in the Washington, D.C., area.

ADAMS is primarily Sunni, but Magid has his own way of quelling sectarianism.

"We teach all the scholars and traditions, and we invite Shia and Sunni imams to lead prayers," says the Sudanese-born Magid. "We don't have to fight."

He says he was heartened when 10,000 people at the Islamic Society event cheered for a new Muslim Code of Honor, pledging Sunni and Shiite respect and cooperation.

The code, drafted by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a civil rights group, initially was circulated in Southern California after the Detroit vandalism incidents. It moved quickly to Michigan and then to the leadership of several major U.S. and Canadian Muslim political, social and religious groups.

In June, a half-dozen groups launched an "American Muslim Iraq Peace Initiative" intended to build harmony and make clear that "America cannot be a scene of conflict," says Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR.
26745  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: September 25, 2007, 04:03:55 PM
Wisconsin Circuit Court Sides With Gun Owners

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

9/24/07 - Today, the 31st Circuit Court of Milwaukee County ruled that the Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) statute was unconstitutional as applied to a particular defendant -- in this case, a pizza delivery driver who carried a gun for self-defense on the job, after being robbed repeatedly in a high crime area.

Andres Vegas is a pizza delivery driver and has been robbed and mugged while attempting to deliver a pizza on four different occasions. The first time was in March of 2005. The second time was July 14, 2006, when Vegas was attacked and threatened at gunpoint. Vegas, armed with a firearm, exercised his constitutional right of self-defense and shot one of the assailants. Vegas was not charged with the crime of carrying concealed and was ruled as acting in self defense. Not only was his firearm confiscated at the time of arrest, but it was never returned. He was subsequently told by the prosecuting District Attorney that if he were to use a firearm in self-defense again he would be prosecuted.

On September 13, 2006, an unarmed Vegas -- acting under the orders of the District Attorney to avoid prosecution -- was robbed, beaten, and sprayed with pepper spray by three assailants. Consequently Vegas went out and purchased another firearm. On January 4, 2007, Vegas was again attempting to deliver a pizza when two men approached him and pointed a gun in his face. This time, he responded by again exercising his right to self-defense and shot his assailant in the hip. Vegas then secured his assailant' s firearm along with his, placed them both on the roof of his car, dialed 911, and waited for the police to arrive. The DA determined that he acted in self defense, but he was subsequently charged with CCW for the moments before he was assaulted and defended.

Even though this charge was brought forward by the DA's office, the court has ruled in favor of Vegas, saying:

“Defendant Vegas has demonstrated the requisite extraordinary circumstances that warrant his concealed weapon…Vegas legally purchased his firearm for the purpose of security and protection. There is a strong inference that Vegas' concealed firearm has saved his life during these violent assaults…Vegas has a substantial interest in being secure and protecting himself by carrying a concealed weapon.”

“This Court is not convinced that there are any reasonable alternatives that would have secured Vegas' safety. Vegas' concealed weapon has most likely saved his life on several occasions; this the State cannot ignore. The State has conceded that Vegas did not have an unlawful purpose for concealing a weapon. Given the totality of the circumstances, this Court is satisfied that the Defendant has affirmatively answered the two-prong analysis as outlined in Hamdan and Fisher and thus grants the Defendant's motion to dismiss.”

This is a giant step forward in the battle for Right-to-Carry in Wisconsin. This court ruling will likely lead to future citizens exercising their right to self-defense by carrying concealed firearms. Unfortunately this will likely lead to subsequent prosecutions, but this circuit court ruling will become a perfect example of law-abiding citizens' need for concealed firearms for protection against crime, especially in high crime areas such as Milwaukee.
__________________
26746  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: September 25, 2007, 04:00:36 PM
Israel, Syria and the Glaring Secret
By George Friedman

What happened in the Middle East on Sept. 6?

The first reports came from the Syrians, who said their air defenses fired at an Israeli warplane that had penetrated Syrian airspace and dropped some ordnance on the country's North. The plane then fled toward the Mediterranean at supersonic speeds, the Syrians said, noting that sonic booms had been heard.

A Syrian delegation was meeting Turkish officials about the same time, and the Turks announced that two Israeli fuel tanks had been dropped inside of Turkish territory, one in Gaziantep province and the other in Hatay province. That would mean the aircraft did come under some sort of fire and dropped fuel tanks to increase speed and maneuverability. It also would mean the plane was flying close to Turkish territory or over Turkish territory, at the northwestern tip of Syria.

The Israelis said nothing. It appeared at first glance that an Israeli reconnaissance flight had attracted Syrian attention and got out of there fast, though even that was puzzling. The Israelis monitor Syria carefully, but they have close relations with the Turkish military, which also watches Syria carefully. We would assume they have intelligence-sharing programs and that reconnaissance in this area could have been done by the Turks or, more likely, by Israeli reconnaissance satellites. Yet, an Israeli reconnaissance flight seemed like the only coherent explanation.

What was most striking from the beginning was the relative silence on all sides. The Israelis remained mum, not even bothering to leak a misleading but plausible story. The Syrians, after threatening to take the issue to the U.N. Security Council, have been less vociferous than one would expect. The United States had nothing official to say, but U.S. sources leaked a series of incompatible explanations. The Turks, after requesting an explanation for the fuel tanks, dropped the matter.

The leaks, which seemed to be coming from the Americans, raised the scope of the operation from a reconnaissance to something more. It was U.S. sources who said up to eight aircraft were involved in the operation. Early on, a leak originating in the United States implied that there might have been Israeli commandos involved as well. U.S. leaks also mentioned that a shipment of cement had been delivered to Syria from North Korea a few days before the incident and implied that this shipment might have contained nuclear equipment of some sort that was the real target of the attack. All three countries were silent officially on the intent of the attack, but the Americans were filling in some blanks with unofficial hints.

The media also were filled with a range of contradictory speculation. One story said this was a dry run for an Israeli air attack against Iran. Another said the Israelis were demonstrating their ability -- and hence the U.S. ability -- to neutralize Syrian air defenses as a signal to Iran that it, too, is vulnerable. Some stories also claimed that new missiles, not nuclear materials, were being shipped to Syria. There were many other explanations, but these were either pure speculation or were deliberately being fed to the media in order to confuse the issue.

Officials finally started to go public last week. Israeli opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was consulted in advance and supported Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's action in Syria. U.S. President George W. Bush went out of his way -- commenting directly and through his press secretary -- to make it understood that he also knew a raid had been carried out, but had absolutely nothing to say about it. That drew attention to two things. First, the United States knew what was going on. Second, the United States was going to keep the secret -- and the secret was an important one. Between Netanyahu and Bush, the reconnaissance theory was dead. An important operation occurred Sept. 6. It remains absolutely unclear what it was about.

Another leak appeared via the Sunday Times, this time with enough granularity to consider it a genuine leak. According to that report, the operation was carried out by Israeli commandos supported by Israeli aircraft, under the direct management of Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. It had been planned since June, just after Barak took office, and had been approved by the United States after some hesitation. The target was in fact nuclear "material" provided by North Korea, according to that leak.

All of this makes perfect sense, save one thing. Why the secrecy? If the Syrians have nuclear facilities, the Israelis should be delighted to make it public. Frankly, so should the United States, since the Bush administration has always argued that nuclear proliferation to rogue states, including Syria, is one of the key problems in the world. The Syrians should be spinning the story like crazy as well, denying the nuclear program but screaming about unprovoked Israeli-U.S. aggression. The silence from one or two parties makes sense. The silence from all parties makes little sense.

Looked at differently, Israel and the United States both have gone out of their way to draw attention to the fact that a highly significant military operation took place in Northern Syria, and compounded the attention by making no attempt to provide a plausible cover story. They have done everything possible to draw attention to the affair without revealing what the affair was about. Israel and the United States have a lot of ways to minimize the importance of the operation. By the way they have handled it, however, each has chosen to maximize its importance.

Whoever they are keeping the secret from, it is not the Syrians. They know precisely what was attacked and why. The secret is not being kept from the Iranians either. The Syrians talk to them all the time. It is hard to imagine any government of importance and involvement that has not been briefed by someone. And by now, the public perception has been shaped as well. So, why the dramatic secrecy designed to draw everyone's attention to the secret and the leaks that seem to explain it?

Let us assume that the Sunday Times report is correct. According to the Times, Barak focused on the material as soon as he became defense minister in June. That would mean the material had reached Syria prior to that date. Obviously, the material was not a bomb, or Israel would not have waited until September to act. So it was, at most, some precursor nuclear material or equipment.

However, an intervening event occurred this summer that should be factored in here. North Korea publicly shifted its position on its nuclear program, agreeing to abandon it and allow inspections of its facilities. It also was asked to provide information on the countries it sold any nuclear technology to, though North Korea has publicly denied any proliferation. This was, in the context of the six-party negotiations surrounding North Korea, a major breakthrough.

Any agreement with North Korea is, by definition, unstable. North Korea many times has backed off of agreements that seemed cast in stone. In particular, North Korea wants to be seen as a significant power and treated with all due respect. It does not intend to be treated as an outlaw nation subject to interrogation and accusations. Its self-image is an important part of its domestic strategy and, internally, it can position its shift in its nuclear stance as North Korea making a strategic deal with other major powers. If North Korea is pressed publicly, its willingness to implement its agreements can very quickly erode. That is not something the United States and other powers want to see happen.

Whether the Israelis found out about the material through their own intelligence sources or North Korea provided a list of recipients of nuclear technology to the United States is unclear. The Israelis have made every effort to make it appear that they knew about this independently. They also have tried to make it appear that they notified the United States, rather than the other way around. But whether the intelligence came from North Korea or was obtained independently, Washington wants to be very careful in its handling of Pyongyang right now.

The result is the glaring secrecy of the last few weeks. Certainly, Israel and the United States wanted it known that Syria had nuclear material, and that it was attacked. This served as a warning to other recipients of North Korean nuclear technology -- most especially Iran. At the same time, the United States did not want to publicly embarrass North Korea, out of fear that the North Koreans would simply chuck the disarmament talks. Moreover, Damascus had no interest in publicizing that it had thoughts of a nuclear program, so it quieted down.

We should note that if this theory is true, and the United States and Israel discovered the existence of a Syrian nuclear program only from North Korean information, this would represent one of the most massive intelligence failures imaginable by both Israel and the United States. Essentially, it would mean that, unless this was the first shipment of material to Syria, Israel and the United States failed to detect a Syrian nuclear program on their own. That is possible, but not likely.

It is a neat theory. It might even be a true theory. But it has problems. The biggest problem is why Syria would be trying to obtain nuclear technology. Sandwiched between Israel and Turkey -- a country that has not had great relations with Syria in the past -- and constantly watched by the United States, the probability of it developing a nuclear capability undetected is infinitesimal, and the probability of Israel not taking it out is nonexistent. Moreover, Syria is not Iran. It is poorer, has less scientific and other resources and lacks the capability to mount a decadelong development effort. Syria actually plays a fairly conservative game, taking its risks in Lebanese politics and allowing jihadists to transit through the country on their way to Iraq. Trying to take on Israel or the United States in a nuclear gambit is not the Syrians' style. But certainly they were caught doing something, or they would be screaming to high heaven.

There has been persistent discussion of nuclear material in Syria, which, if we took the words seriously, would tend to indicate that something radioactive, such as enriched uranium or plutonium, was present. If what was delivered was not equipment but radioactive material, the threat might not have been a Syrian nuclear program, but some sort of radioactive device -- a dirty bomb -- that might be handed off to Hezbollah. The head of Israel's military intelligence was quoted as saying something about the attack having re-established Israel's deterrence power after its failures in the 2006 conflict with Hezbollah. Perhaps the problem was that the material was being transferred from North Korea to Syria on its way to Lebanon, possibly to use against Israel.

That would explain Syria's relative silence. Concern that the deal with North Korea will fall apart might keep the United States quiet. But a Syrian transfer of such material to Hezbollah normally would set Israel to raging at the Syrians. The Americans might have kept quiet, but the Israelis would have leaked much earlier than this. Israel would want to use the threat as a tool in its public relations war.

Another reason for the silence could be psychological warfare against Iran. The speculation above might be true in some variant, but by remaining ominously silent, the Israelis and Americans might be trying to shake Iran's nerve, by demonstrating their intelligence capability, their special operations ability and the reach of their air power. With the Israelis having carried out this attack, this very visible secrecy might be designed to make Iran wonder whether it is next, and from what direction an attack might come.

Normally such international game-playing would not interest us. The propensity of governments to create secrets out of the obvious is one of the more tedious aspects of international relations. But this secret is not obvious, and it is not trivial. Though it is true that something is finally being leaked three weeks after the attack, what is being leaked is neither complete nor reliable. It seems to make sense, but you really have to work hard at it.

At a time when the United States is signaling hostile intentions toward Iran, the events in Syria need to be understood, and the fact that they remain opaque is revealing. The secrecy is designed to make a lot of people nervous. Interestingly, the Israelis threw a change-up pitch the week after the attack, signaling once again that they wanted to open talks with the Syrians -- a move the Syrians quickly rebuffed.

When events get so strange that interpretation is a challenge, it usually indicates it was intended that way, that the events are significant and that they could point to further instability. We do not know whether that is true, but Israel and the United States have certainly worked hard to create a riddle wrapped in a mystery.

stratfor
26747  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: September 25, 2007, 11:20:57 AM
As reported in Iran:

IRI President addresses students at Colombia University
New York, Sept 25, IRNA
Ahmadinejad-Colombia Varsity-Address
Despite entire US media objections, negative propagation and hue and cry in recent days over IRI President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's scheduled address at Colombia University, he gave his lecture and answered students questions here on Monday afternoon.
On second day of his entry in New York, and amid standing ovation of the audience that had attended the hall where the Iranian President was to give his lecture as of early hours of the day, Ahmadinejad said that Iran is not going to attack any country in the world.
Before President Ahamadinejad's address, Colombia University Chancellor in a brief address told the audience that they would have the chance to hear Iran's stands as the Iranian President would put them forth.
He said that the Iranians are a peace loving nation, they hate war, and all types of aggression.
Referring to the technological achievements of the Iranian nation in the course of recent years, the president considered them as a sign for the Iranians' resolute will for achieving sustainable development and rapid advancement.
The audience on repeated occasion applauded Ahmadinejad when he touched on international crises.
At the end of his address President Ahmadinejad answered the students' questions on such issues as Israel, Palestine, Iran's nuclear program, the status of women in Iran and a number of other matters.
26748  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Current Events: Philippines on: September 25, 2007, 10:38:54 AM
Philippine Fly-Over
By GREG RUSHFORD
September 25, 2007

CLARK FIELD, Philippines -- The economic potential of the Philippines -- and all the reasons it has yet to live up to that potential -- come sharply into focus as soon as a visitor lands. Literally. With Manila's current major international air terminal, some 50 miles to the city's south, already too congested for serious expansion, the battle over the future of the Philippines' next premier international air gateway has become a microcosm of all that the country could be, and all that's holding it back.

 
Still widely known as "Clark Field," the old name from its days as an American military airbase, the airport-in-waiting is now officially the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, in honor of the former Philippine president and father of current President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. And Ms. Arroyo has been playing the crucial, and often conflicted, role in determining the airport's future.

Clark and its surrounding community in the province of Pampanga have never been rich. In its heyday during the Cold War, Clark Air Base bustled with energy as a major U.S. listening post and home of the 13th U.S. Air Force. But in June 1991, the U.S. Air Force, under fierce attack from nationalist forces in the Philippine Senate, finally flew out, leaving Clark covered in the volcanic ashes spewed out by nearby Mt. Pinatubo. Clark immediately fell upon hard times. Looters stripped the base clean, down to the toilet lids.

Things began to change in January 2006, when Ms. Arroyo -- responding to complaints from the Pampanga business community that too many regulations from Manila were holding back Clark's potential -- signed an executive order unilaterally proclaiming open skies. The move unleashed the forces of economic liberalization at Clark by allowing foreign airlines to fly in hundreds of thousands of tourists from Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia and as far away as Dubai. It also opened the door to all the trade that could be conducted via the cargo holds of those planes. The formerly sleepy Clark, which processed fewer than 50,000 passengers three years ago, took off, bringing in nearly 500,000 last year. And prices are dropping. Singapore's Tiger Airways has been offering flights from Macau to Clark for $9.99.

The benefits aren't so much trickling into the local economy as pouring. More than 50,000 Filipinos now work here, some 10,000 more than were employed when the Americans ran the place. More jobs are coming as foreign companies find it easier and cheaper to move people and goods in and out.

Texas Instruments is putting in a billion-dollar semiconductor plant. The United Parcel Service has made Clark a regional hub. Yokohama Tire Philippines is making a $100 million expansion, and is exporting tires from Clark all around the world. Shoemart, the big Philippine retail giant, has moved in, as has Jollibee's, the Philippine answer to McDonald's (which also serves the nearby community). Other foreign and Philippine entrepreneurs are opening up more businesses to cater to the workers and tourists: hotels, restaurants and so on.

But the growth remains fragile, and will come to a halt if Ms. Arroyo's government insists upon bringing Clark's passenger traffic back to a trickle. Which, alarmingly, is just what the government has tried to do. In August 2006, just eight months after the initial liberalization, Ms. Arroyo bowed to pressures from domestic protectionist cronies -- the most well-known of whom is billionaire Lucio Tan, the owner of Philippine Airlines -- and issued a revised executive order aimed at slowing down the foreign airline traffic. While the numbers for arriving passengers were still up some 35% in the first quarter of this year, it is clear that Clark's ambitions to become the Philippines' premier gateway have been seriously threatened.

Citing "the continued uncertainty regarding the regulatory situation at Clark," Tiger Airways announced on March 23 that it would be reducing its flight frequency from Singapore to Clark to nine weekly flights from 14. As Clark spokesman Arnel San Pedro told me, local business leaders are outraged that the national government would "refuse to prosper because of the subservience of some greedy people to the personal interests of 'Manila's Imperial Dragons.'"

Ms. Arroyo's reversal was especially galling because Mr. Tan -- the archetypal "imperial dragon" -- is such a terrible well from which to draw economic advice. He first got really rich in the 1970s, thanks to various tax breaks and favors bestowed by former Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos. Understandably, the Chinese-born tycoon takes a dim view of cuttthroat market-oriented competition from foreign-run budget airlines. His critics revile him as the personification of what's wrong with the Philippine economy.

But Mr. Tan's current ally in the presidential palace, Ms. Arroyo, is more forgiving. In 2002, the president honored him for his "lifetime" of achievements in "helping build the nation." Numerous press reports from Manila have it that Mr. Tan has been among Ms. Arroyo's most generous sources of campaign financing; presidential press secretary Ignacio Bunye declines comment.

Now Ms. Arroyo is being pressed by a deeply concerned Clark business community that believes that Mr. Tan's influence upon the Arroyo administration is pulling the economic ladder out from under them. The airport's energetic chief executive, Victor Jose Luciano, made an impassioned presentation last month to Ms. Arroyo and her cabinet urging the president to issue a third executive order undoing the damage she created with her second one back in August 2006.

Ms. Arroyo holds a doctorate in economics, so she presumably understands that her first instincts to open the Philippine skies were the right ones. Her method may be problematic, though. When she moved to slow down the Philippines' open skies prospects last year, Ms. Arroyo's public rationale was that instead of unilateral liberalization, the Philippines would negotiate with foreign governments for increased access to their airports in return. Indeed, the Arroyo administration has recently concluded negotiating a major expansion of passenger landings for flights between the Philippines and South Korea.

But behind the scenes, Mr. Tan seems to dominate the process. A leaked copy of the Aug. 9, 2007, minutes of the Philippine government's official air negotiating panel shows that nine of the 23 members aren't government officials, but work for Mr. Tan's PAL and two other Tan-owned airline and cargo operations. Cebu Pacific, another domestic carrier that is following Mr. Tan's anti-open skies lead, has another two seats.

Since in practice the Philippine airline negotiating body seeks unanimous consent to schedule negotiations with foreign airlines, Mr. Tan effectively has veto power -- and last month's minutes make clear that PAL sees "no immediate need" for urgency in scheduling many more air talks. Supporters of open skies report that the last air talks the Philippine government held with Macau were in 2001, that similar negotiations with Hong Kong last occurred in 1996, and in 1995 for Malaysia and Thailand.

From PAL's perspective, why hurry? Philippine airline industry sources who ask not to be identified report that Mr. Tan's airline has found a wonderful way to profit from current restrictions. When passenger quotas assigned by the Philippine authorities to, say, Macau, or Hong Kong, or Dubai, have been filled, the Philippine government has given expanded entitlements to fly more passengers to PAL, which turns around and "rents" those entitlements to foreign carriers. While the details of such deals remain confidential, credible industry insiders report that Dubai is paying PAL at least $1 million a year in passenger rents. Not that this money is "free," of course: The foreign carriers pass the extra expense on to fliers -- many of whom are hard-pressed Philippine overseas workers -- in the form of pricier tickets. Mr. Tan, who declined persistent requests to be interviewed for this column, is turning a profit for PAL without flying his own airplanes.

The question now is whether Ms. Arroyo will be able to summon the political courage to stop him from doing it. She might reflect on some history. When the airport's namesake, her father -- an economic reformer -- was elected in 1961, the Philippines boasted the second-largest economy in Asia, second only to Japan. When Ferdinand Marcos won election four years later, he went on to help enrich his cronies while crippling the economy with an array of protectionist schemes. With a stroke of her presidential pen, Ms. Arroyo could not only re-open Philippine skies to economic development, she could also prove that "Philippine prosperity" doesn't have to be an oxymoron.

Mr. Rushford is editor of The Rushford Report, an online journal that follows the politics of international trade and diplomacy.

WSJ
26749  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: September 25, 2007, 10:34:03 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Setting the U.S. Stage for Iranian Talks

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Monday that she sees no signs of talks with Iran on the issue of Iraq. Specifically, she said the Bush administration will "leave that channel open," though probably not "pursue it imminently."

Iranian-U.S. talks about Iraq's future are always touchy. Beyond the simple fact that Tehran and Washington do not exactly trust each other, the room for compromise between them is not exactly cavernous. The United States wants an Iraq that can hold its own against Iran and wield the threat of a renewed Sunni government fully armed and ready to repeat the 1980-1988 war. Iran wants an Iraq that is incapable of attacking and can threaten the United States with the unleashed fury of Iranian-aligned Shiite militias. Neither can make its dream come about without the other's acquiescence, but both have the ability to impose unilaterally the other's nightmare.

Negotiations are indeed what are on order. One effect -- indeed, the primary rationale -- of the Bush administration's decision to maintain as strong of a troop presence in Iraq as possible is to convince the Iranians that U.S. forces are not going anywhere -- not just now, but well into the term of the next U.S. president. Iran has a tendency to misjudge U.S. decision-makers, and now it is faced with a U.S. occupation in Iraq that will last, at bare minimum, another two years. Tehran might have been convinced a month ago that a U.S. departure was inevitable; now it cannot be so sure. The logic of talks to prevent Iran's worst-case scenario from occurring makes sense.

But not just yet. The United States first wants to set the stage. France is warning of war, Israel is (allegedly) bombing Syria, Germany is bullying sanctions, the Dutch are speaking of moral obligations to resist the Iranian nuclear program, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's attempt to turn a Sept. 24 speech at Columbia University into propaganda massively backfired. The international environment has deteriorated sharply in the past three years from Tehran's viewpoint -- with the worst developments reserved for the past few weeks. The U.S. State Department even confirmed Monday that it had invited none other than Iran's only ally, Syria, to an international conference on the future of the Palestinian territories. Syria has been on the U.S. no-talk list for years (ever since Damascus ordered the assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister).

The goal is simple: to make Iran feel isolated, make Iran fear that its foes are on the verge of using military force, make Iran feel like talks with the United States are the least-bad option. It is not an illogical strategy, albeit one laden with risks. It assumes that Iran will ultimately find it useful to not just speak with the Americans, but actively cooperate with them on security issues of extreme national importance. After all, Iraq is too far gone for either the United States or Iran to fashion it into some semblance of normality alone.

stratfor.com
26750  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Legacy of Little Rock on: September 25, 2007, 09:37:14 AM
The Legacy of Little Rock
By SHELBY STEELE
September 25, 2007; Page A19

Fifty years ago today, riot-trained troops from the 101st Airborne Division escorted nine black students through the doors of Central High School in Little Rock. Just 48 hours earlier, President Eisenhower deployed -- in a single day -- 1,000 troops to restore order and to reassert federal authority in Arkansas's capital city.

 
Gov. Orval Faubus of Arkansas complains about President Eisenhower's use of federal troops to enforce integration in Little Rock, September 1957.
For weeks the entire nation had watched on television as a mob of angry white adults gathered each morning to prevent the nine black students from integrating Central High. It would come to be remembered as one of the ugliest and meanest white mobs of the entire civil rights era. And because of television -- then still a very new medium -- the horrible images of people galvanized by ferocious racial hatred were seared into the national consciousness.

Finally, Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus succumbed to a kind of madness, if not to a perverse politics of racial hatred, and withdrew the National Guard from Central High, effectively turning the school over to the raging mob. The nine courageous black students, who had suffered so much to integrate the school, were withdrawn for their own protection. So, for a time, the authority of the mob prevailed over all governmental authority -- local, state and federal. And this was the provocation that pushed a reluctant President Eisenhower to deploy federal troops.

On this 50th anniversary of Eisenhower's troop deployment, the significance of the Little Rock crisis -- its place in history -- is much clearer. I believe it was the beginning of a profoundly different America.

For one thing, it foreshadowed the end of white supremacy as a legitimate authority. The Little Rock crisis was a conflict between two ideas of authority that had always been in tension in American life. The authority behind the Little Rock Nine came from that constellation of principles that define the American democracy -- the idea of individual rights, equality under the law and so on. But in America another authority had always been in play -- the atavistic authority of white supremacy, the idea that no less a power than God had chosen the white race to be ascendant over all other races. This was the authority behind the white mob in Little Rock. In taunting those nine black students, this mob was protecting a "divine right" against the ridiculous democratic notion that all men were created equal.

But the mob lost in Little Rock. Eisenhower enforced democratic authority over white supremacy. He made the point that these two authorities could no longer pretend to coexist in the public schools of even a Southern city. In this way the Little Rock crisis joined black Americans to a world-wide movement. The Mau Maus viciously fought this same nemesis in Kenya, Gandhi peacefully fought it in India, and the very first terrorist bombers fought it in Algeria. But in Little Rock the American government, overcoming two centuries of equivocation, broke off from white supremacy and took up the cause of black revolutionaries -- and so administered white entitlement a decisive defeat.

But the deeper historical importance of the Little Rock crisis follows from the simple fact that it was televised. It was, in fact, the first time that this still fledgling medium was able to make America into a community by rendering up a riveting real-life drama for the country to watch. Compelling personalities emerged, like the despicable and erratic Gov. Faubus, who kept flaunting federal authority like a little potentate. There was Eisenhower himself, whose grandfatherly patience with Faubus seemed to belie a sympathy with this racist's need to hold on to a fading authority. And there was the daily gauntlet that the black students were made to walk -- innocence face to face with evil. And, finally, there was great suspense. How would it all end? Would there by a military clash, another little civil war between North and South?

So Americans watched by the millions and, in this watching, saw something that would change the country fundamentally. Everyday for weeks they saw white people so consumed with racial hatred that they looked bestial and subhuman. When white racism was a confident power, it could look like propriety itself, like good manners. But here, in its insecurity, it was grotesque and shocking. Worse, it was there for the entire world to see, and so it broke through the national denial. The Little Rock crisis revealed the evil at the core of segregation, and it launched the stigmatization of white Americans as racists that persists to this day. After Little Rock whites stood permanently accused. They would have to prove a negative -- that they were not racist -- in order to claim decency. And this need to forever beg one's innocence is the very essence of white guilt.

Of course, it was the special genius of the civil rights leaders of that era to elicit displays of white evil by confronting whites with black innocence -- often children and teenagers, neatly dressed and scrupulously groomed, aspiring only to what all humans aspire to, a decent education or the right to eat at a lunch counter. Still, these leaders couldn't elicit what wasn't there. White evil was there. And the greatest significance of the Little Rock crisis was that it put on display a distinct white moral inferiority.

This introduced a new accountability into white American life. Americans had always thought themselves a great people -- more solidly grounded in the morality of fairness than any other people. Moreover, it was Western culture that had evolved the kind of moral system that made Little Rock look so evil. But, in the end, all this meant was that the good citizens of Little Rock should have known better. Evil was evil. And, after Little Rock, white America began to become accountable for its racial evil.

But Americans have not been particularly good at integrating this kind of accountability. We are a nation with a powerful investment in the idea of our own fundamental innocence. Our can-do optimism and ingenuity are based on the faith that we are a decent, open, and generous people. This is our identity. And when we shame ourselves, as in Little Rock, there is an impulse to get busy; to do something big that redeems the shame and proves that its implications about us are false. This is, of course, a form of denial. In our busyness we may dissociate from the shame, but this is no proof that we have integrated its meaning.

For the most part, this is how white America came to handle its new accountability in the civil rights era. The country got busy self-consciously redeeming itself. Redemption would be our big, ingenious achievement. If freedom and opportunity and wealth had always been the special mandates of American life, suddenly redemption was added to the list. And, as the civil rights movement worked its way through many more Little Rocks, as a movement for women's equality burst forth, and as the Vietnam War came to be held against America, the idea of American evil expanded and, thus, redemption became more and more entrenched as a national mandate.

By the mid 1960s this mandate had already given us a new illiberal liberalism -- a busybody, interventionist liberalism that was more bent on erecting an American redemption than ensuring freedom. The Great Society wanted to make America look like a country in which Little Rock could never have happened. It failed because it was a venture in denial rather than in realistic social transformation. And today's "diversity" will fail because it, too, is only a denial -- a kitsch that gives us an image of an America shorn of Little Rocks.

But on this 50th anniversary of the Little Rock crisis, it is important to remember that this evil did happen in America, and that no engineered redemption can make us innocent again. And we might also remember that it is better to be chastened than innocent. Innocents don't learn from their sins; the chastened are informed by them.

Mr. Steele, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, is the author of "White Guilt" (HarperCollins, 2006).

WSJ
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