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26701  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: October 30, 2007, 04:08:10 PM
War Plans: United States and Iran
By George Friedman

A possible U.S. attack against Iran has been a hot topic in the news for many months now. In some quarters it has become an article of faith that the Bush administration intends to order such an attack before it leaves office. It remains a mystery whether the administration plans an actual attack or whether it is using the threat of attack to try to intimidate Iran -- and thus shape its behavior in Iraq and elsewhere. Unraveling the mystery lies, at least in part, in examining what a U.S. attack would look like, given U.S. goals and resources, as well as in considering the potential Iranian response. Before turning to intentions, it is important to discuss the desired outcomes and capabilities. Unfortunately, those discussions have taken a backseat to speculations about the sheer probability of war.

Let's begin with goals. What would the United States hope to achieve by attacking Iran? On the broadest strategic level, the answer is actually quite simple. After 9/11, the United States launched counterstrikes in the Islamic world. The goal was to disrupt the al Qaeda core in order to prevent further attacks against the United States. The counterstrikes also were aimed at preventing the emergence of a follow-on threat from the Islamic world that would replace the threat that had been posed by al Qaeda. The disruption of all Islamic centers of power that have the ability and intent to launch terrorist attacks against the United States is a general goal of U.S. strategy. With the decline of Sunni radicalism, Iran has emerged as an alternative Shiite threat. Hence, under this logic, Iran must be dealt with.

Obviously, the greater the disruption of radically anti-American elements in the Islamic world, the better it is for the United States. But there are three problems here. First, the United States has a far more complex relationship with Iran than it does with al Qaeda. Iran supported the U.S. attack against the Taliban in Afghanistan as well as the U.S. invasion of Iraq -- for its own reasons, of course. Second, the grand strategy of the United States might include annihilating Islamic radicalism, but at the end of the day, maintaining the balance of power between Sunnis and Shia and between Arab and non-Arab Muslims is a far more practical approach. Finally, the question of what to do about Iran depends on the military capabilities of the United States in the immediate future. The intentions are shaped by the capabilities.

What, therefore, would the U.S. goals be in an attack against Iran? They divide into three (not mutually exclusive) strategies:

1. Eliminating Iran's nuclear program.
2. Crippling Iran by hitting its internal infrastructure -- political, industrial and military -- ideally forcing regime change that would favor U.S. interests.
3. Using an attack -- or threatening an attack -- to change Iranian behavior in Iraq, Lebanon or other areas of the world.

It is important to note the option that is not on the table: invasion by U.S. ground forces, beyond the possible use of small numbers of Special Operations forces. Regardless of the state of Iranian conventional forces after a sustained air attack, the United States simply does not have the numbers of ground troops needed to invade and occupy Iran -- particularly given the geography and topography of the country. Therefore, any U.S. attack would rely on the forces available, namely air and naval forces.

The destruction of Iran's nuclear capabilities would be the easiest to achieve, assuming that U.S. intelligence has a clear picture of the infrastructure of that program and that the infrastructure has not been hardened to the point of being invulnerable to conventional attack. Iran, however, learned a great deal from Iraq's Osirak experience and has spread out and hardened its nuclear facilities. Also, given Iran's location and the proximity of U.S. forces and allies, we can assume the United States would not be interested in a massive nuclear attack with the resulting fallout. Moreover, we would argue that, in a world of proliferation, it would not be in the interest of the United States to set a precedent by being the first use to use nuclear weapons since World War II.

Therefore, the U.S. option is to carry out precision strikes against Iran's nuclear program using air- and sea-launched munitions. As a threat, this is in an interesting option. As an actual operation, it is less interesting. First, the available evidence is that Iran is years away from achieving a deliverable nuclear weapon. Second, Iran might be more interested in trading its nuclear program for other political benefits -- specifically in Iraq. An attack against the country's nuclear facilities would make Tehran less motivated than before to change its behavior. Furthermore, even if its facilities were destroyed, Iran would retain its capabilities in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere in the world. Therefore, unless the United States believed there was an imminent threat of the creation of a deliverable nuclear system, the destruction of a long-term program would eliminate the long-term threat, but leave Iran's short-term capabilities intact. Barring imminent deployment, a stand-alone attack against Iran's nuclear capabilities makes little sense.

That leaves the second option -- a much broader air and sea campaign against Iran. This would have four potential components:

1. Attacks against its economic infrastructure, particularly its refineries.
2. Attacks against its military infrastructure.
3. Attacks against its political infrastructure, particularly its leadership.
4. A blockade and sanctions.

Let's begin in reverse order. The United States has the ability to blockade Iran's ports, limiting the importation of oil and refined products, as well as food. It does not have the ability to impose a general land blockade against Iran, which has long land borders, including with Iraq. Because the United States lacks the military capability to seal those borders, goods from around Iran's periphery would continue to flow, including, we emphasize, from Iraq, where U.S. control of transportation systems, particularly in the Shiite south, is limited. In addition, it is unclear whether the United States would be willing to intercept, board and seize ships from third-party countries (Russia, China and a large number of small countries) that are not prepared to participate in sanctions or might not choose to respect an embargo. The United States is stretched thin, and everyone knows it. A blockade could invite deliberate challenges, while enforcement would justify other actions against U.S. interests elsewhere. Any blockade strategy assumes that Iran is internationally isolated, which it is not, that the United States can impose a military blockade on land, which it cannot, and that it can withstand the consequences elsewhere should a third party use U.S. actions to justify counteraction, which is questionable. A blockade could hurt Iran's energy economy, but Iran has been preparing for this for years and can mitigate the effect by extensive smuggling operations. Ultimately, Iran is not likely to crumble unless the United States can maintain and strengthen the blockade process over a matter of many months at the very least.

Another option is a decapitation strike against Iran's leadership -- though it is important to recall how this strategy failed in Iraq at the beginning of the 2003 invasion. Decapitation assumes superb intelligence on the location of the leadership at a given time -- and that level of intelligence is hard to come by. Iraq had a much smaller political elite than Iran has, and the United States couldn't nail down its whereabouts. It also is important to remember that Iran has a much deeper and more diverse leadership structure than Iraq had. Iraq's highly centralized system included few significant leaders. Iran is more decentralized and thus has a much larger and deeper leadership cadre. We doubt the United States has the real-time intelligence capability to carry out such a broad decapitation strike.

The second option is an assault against the Iranian military. Obviously, the United States has the ability to carry out a very effective assault against the military's technical infrastructure -- air defense, command and control, aircraft, armor and so on. But the Iranian military is primarily an infantry force, designed for internal control and operations in mountainous terrain -- the bulk of Iran's borders. Once combat operations began, the force would disperse and tend to become indistinguishable from the general population. A counterpersonnel operation would rapidly become a counterpopulation operation. Under any circumstances, an attack against a dispersed personnel pool numbering in the high hundreds of thousands would be sortie intensive, to say the least. An air campaign designed to impose high attrition on an infantry force, leaving aside civilian casualties, would require an extremely large number of sorties, in which the use of precision-guided munitions would be of minimal value and the use of area weapons would be at a premium. Given the fog of war and intelligence issues, the ability to evaluate the status of this campaign would be questionable.

In our view, the Iranians are prepared to lose their technical infrastructure and devolve command and control to regional and local levels. The collapse of the armed forces -- most of whose senior officers and noncoms fought in the Iran-Iraq war with very flexible command and control -- is unlikely. The force would continue to be able to control the frontiers as well as maintain internal security functions. The United States would rapidly establish command of the air, and destroy noninfantry forces. But even here there is a cautionary note. In Yugoslavia, the United States learned that relatively simple camouflage and deception techniques were quite effective in protecting tactical assets. The Iranians have studied both the Kosovo war and U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and have extensive tactical combat experience themselves. A forced collapse from the air of the Iranian infantry capability -- the backbone of Iran's military -- is unlikely.

This leaves a direct assault against the Iranian economic infrastructure. Although this is the most promising path, it must be remembered that counterinfrastructure and counterpopulation strategic air operations have been tried extensively. The assumption has been that the economic cost of resistance would drive a wedge between the population and the regime, but there is no precedent in the history of air campaigns for this assumption. Such operations have succeeded in only two instances: Japan and Kosovo. In Japan, counterpopulation operations of massive proportions involving conventional weapons were followed by two atomic strikes. Even in that case, there was no split between regime and population, but a decision by the regime to capitulate. The occupation in Kosovo was not so much because of military success as diplomatic isolation. That isolation is not likely to happen in Iran.

In all other cases -- Britain, Germany, Vietnam, Iraq -- air campaigns by themselves did not split the population from the regime or force the regime to change course. In Britain and Vietnam, the campaigns failed completely. In Germany and Iraq (and Kuwait), they succeeded because of follow-on attacks by overwhelming ground forces.

The United States could indeed inflict heavy economic hardship, but history suggests that this is more likely to tighten the people's identification with the government -- not the other way around. In most circumstances, air campaigns have solidified the regime's control over the population, allowing it to justify extreme security measures and generating a condition of intense psychological resistance. In no case has a campaign led to an uprising against the regime. Moreover, a meaningful campaign against economic infrastructure would take some 4 million barrels per day off of the global oil market at a time when oil prices already are closing in on $100 a barrel. Such a campaign is more likely to drive a wedge between the American people and the American government than between the Iranians and their government.

For an air campaign to work, the attacking power must be prepared to bring in an army on the ground to defeat the army that has been weakened by the air campaign -- a tactic Israel failed to apply last summer in Lebanon. Combined arms operations do work, repeatedly. But the condition of the U.S. Army and Marines does not permit the opening of a new theater of operations in Iran. Most important, even if conditions did permit the use of U.S. ground forces to engage and defeat the Iranian army -- a massive operation simply by the size of the country -- the United States does not have the ability to occupy Iran against a hostile population. The Japanese and German nations were crushed completely over many years before an overwhelming force occupied them. What was present there, but not in Iraq, was overwhelming force. That is not an option for Iran.

Finally, consider the Iranian response. Iran does not expect to defeat the U.S. Air Force or Navy, although the use of mine warfare and anti-ship cruise missiles against tankers in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz should not be dismissed. The Iranian solution would be classically asymmetrical. First, they would respond in Iraq, using their assets in the country to further complicate the occupation, as well as to impose as many casualties as possible on the United States. And they would use their forces to increase the difficulty of moving supplies from Kuwait to U.S. forces in central Iraq. They also would try to respond globally using their own forces (the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), as well as Hezbollah and other trained Shiite militant assets, to carry out counterpopulation attacks against U.S. assets around the world, including in the United States.

If the goal is to eliminate Iran's nuclear program, we expect the United States would be able to carry out the mission. If, however, the goal is to compel a change in the Iranian regime or Iranian policy, we do not think the United States can succeed with air forces alone. It would need to be prepared for a follow-on invasion by U.S. forces, coming out of both Afghanistan and Iraq. Those forces are not available at this point and would require several years to develop. That the United States could defeat and occupy Iran is certain. Whether the United States has a national interest in devoting the time and the resources to Iran's occupation is unclear.

The United States could have defeated North Vietnam with a greater mobilization of forces. However, Washington determined that the defeat of North Vietnam and the defense of Indochina were not worth the level of effort required. Instead, it tried to achieve its ends with the resources it was prepared to devote to the mission. As a result, resources were squandered and the North Vietnamese flag flies over what was Saigon.

The danger of war is that politicians and generals, desiring a particular end, fantasize that they can achieve that end with insufficient resources. This lesson is applicable to Iran.

stratfor
26702  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 30, 2007, 03:53:52 PM
U.S.: U.S. State Department investigators have offered immunity deals to the Blackwater security guards who were involved in a Sept. 16 shootout in Baghdad, Agence France-Presse reported, citing The New York Times and The Washington Post. The State Department officials reportedly do not have the authority to grant immunity, and the FBI officials who took over the investigation of Blackwater cannot use information obtained by the State Department to prosecute the guards.

IRAQ, U.S.: A delegation of Iraqi tribal leaders plans to visit Washington to propose to U.S. officials that former officers from the disbanded Iraqi army be reinstated, IraqSlogger.com reported, citing Al-Malaf Press. Tribal leader Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha reportedly said the delegation will discuss ways to help Iraqi security forces become self-sufficient and face foreign challenges. He added that former Iraqi army officers can offer expertise in defending Iraq's borders.

IRAQ: The Iraqi Cabinet approved a draft law to end foreign security contractors' immunity from prosecution. The bill follows the Blackwater shooting incident on Sept. 16, when 17 Iraqis were killed, though the U.S. firm has said its guards acted lawfully. The legislation places foreign firms and those they employ under Iraqi law, an Iraqi government spokesman told Reuters. It also suggests requiring foreign security firms to register and apply for licenses to work in Iraq and proposes that all guards have weapons permits. Under the law, contractors with identity cards from the U.S. Defense Department would have to apply for entry visas. Further, it has been proposed that guards and the convoys they protect be subject to searches at Iraqi security checkpoints.

stratfor
26703  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 30, 2007, 03:36:49 PM
Second post of the day:

Forwarded by David Gordon:  http://www.utexas.edu/features/archive/2004/nutrition.html
26704  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 30, 2007, 03:26:04 PM
Low Buzz May Give Mice Better Bones and Less Fat
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By GINA KOLATA
Published: October 30, 2007
Clinton T. Rubin knows full well that his recent results are surprising — that no one has been more taken aback than he. And he cautions that it is far too soon to leap to conclusions about humans. But still, he says, what if ... ?

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FAT Abdominal scans of two mice show subcutaneous fat (gray) and visceral fat (red). The vibrated mouse, right, has less of both.

Multimedia
 
Less Fat in Vibrated Mice And no wonder, other scientists say. Dr. Rubin, director of the Center for Biotechnology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, is reporting that in mice, a simple treatment that does not involve drugs appears to be directing cells to turn into bone instead of fat.

All he does is put mice on a platform that buzzes at such a low frequency that some people cannot even feel it. The mice stand there for 15 minutes a day, five days a week. Afterward, they have 27 percent less fat than mice that did not stand on the platform — and correspondingly more bone.

“I was the biggest skeptic in the world,” Dr. Rubin said. “And I sit here and say, ‘This can’t possibly be happening.’ I feel like the credibility of my scientific career is sitting on a razor’s edge between ‘Wow, this is really cool,’ and ‘These people are nuts.’”

The responses to his work bear out that feeling. While some scientists are enthusiastic, others are skeptical.

The mice may be less fat after standing on the platform, these researchers say, but they are not convinced of the explanation — that fat precursor cells are turning into bone.

Even so, the National Institutes of Health is sufficiently intrigued to investigate the effect in a large clinical trial in elderly people, said Joan A. McGowan, a division director at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

Dr. McGowan notes that Dr. Rubin is a respected scientist and that her institute has helped pay for his research for the past 20 years, but she does caution against jumping to conclusions.

“I’d call it provocative,” she said of the new result. “It says, ‘Keep looking here; this is exciting.’ But it is crucial that we don’t oversell this.” For now, she added, “it is a fundamental scientific finding.”

The story of the finding, which was published online and will appear in the Nov. 6 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, began in 1981 when Dr. Rubin and his colleagues started asking why bone is lost in aging and inactivity.

“Bone is notorious for ‘use it or lose it,’” Dr. Rubin said. “Astronauts lose 2 percent of their bone a month. People lose 2 percent a decade after age 35. Then you look at the other side of the equation. Professional tennis players have 35 percent more bone in their playing arm. What is it about mechanical signals that makes Roger Federer’s arm so big?”

At first, he assumed that the exercise effect came from a forceful impact — the pounding on the leg bones as a runner’s feet hit the ground or the blow to the bones in a tennis player’s arm with every strike of the ball. But Dr. Rubin was trained as a biomechanical engineer, and that led him to consider other possibilities. Large signals can actually be counterproductive, he said, adding: “If I scream at you over the phone, you don’t hear me better. If I shine a bright light in your eyes, you don’t see better.”

Over the years, he and his colleagues discovered that high-magnitude signals, like the ones created by the impact as foot hits pavement, were not the predominant signals affecting bone. Instead, bone responded to signals that were high in frequency but low in magnitude, more like a buzzing than a pounding.

That makes sense, he went on, because muscles quiver when they contract, and that quivering is the predominant signal to bones. It occurs when people stand still, for example, and their muscles contract to keep them upright. As people age, they lose many of those postural muscles, making them less able to balance, more apt to fall and, perhaps, prone to loss of bone.

“Bone is bombarded with little, teeny signals from muscle contractions,” Dr. Rubin said.

He discovered that in mice, sheep and turkeys, at least, standing on a flat vibrating plate led to bone growth. Small studies in humans — children with cerebral palsy who could not move much on their own and young women with low bone density — indicated that the vibrations might build bone in people, too.

Dr. Rubin and his colleagues got a patent and formed a company to make the vibrating plates. But they and others caution that it is not known if standing on them strengthens bones in humans. Even if it does, no one knows the right dose. It is possible that even if there is an effect, people might overdose and make their bones worse instead of better.

Some answers may come from the federal clinical trial, which will include 200 elderly people in assisted living. It is being directed by Dr. Douglas P. Kiel, an osteoporosis researcher and director of medical research at the Institute for Aging Research at Harvard. The animal work made him hopeful that the buzzing platforms would have an effect on human bones.

“This work is fascinating and very legitimate,” Dr. Kiel said.

But then Dr. Rubin reported that the mice were also less fat, which led to the revised plans to look for changes in body fat as well.

Dr. Rubin says he decided to look at whether vibrations affect fat because he knows what happens with age: bone marrow fills with fat. In osteoporosis, the bones do not merely thin; their texture becomes lacy, and inside the holes is fat. And a few years ago, scientists discovered a stem cell in bone marrow that can turn into either fat or bone, depending on what signal it receives.

No one knows why the fat is in bone marrow — maybe it provides energy for failing bone cells, suggests Dr. Clifford J. Rosen, director of the Maine Center for Osteoporosis Research and Education. And no one knows whether human fat cells ever leave the bone marrow and take up residence elsewhere.

But Dr. Rubin had an idea. “We thought, Wait a second,” he said. “If we are mechanically stimulating cells to form bone, what isn’t happening? We thought maybe these bone progenitor cells are driving down a decision path. Maybe they are not becoming fat cells.”

He paid a visit to Jeffrey E. Pessin, a diabetes expert at Stony Brook, and presented his hypothesis. Dr. Pessin laughed uproariously. He “almost kicked me out of his office,” as Dr. Rubin put it.

But when Dr. Rubin decided to go ahead anyway, Dr. Pessin joined in. Their hope was to see a small effect on body fat after the mice stood on the platforms 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 15 weeks. Dr. Rubin was stunned by the 27 percent reduction.

“Talk about your jaw dropping,” he said.

Some obesity researchers, though, say there may be other reasons that the mice were less fat.

“It is a very intriguing paper,” said Claude Bouchard, an obesity researcher who is director of the Pennington Center for Biomedical Research at Louisiana State University. But he wondered whether the mice on the platform were simply burning more calories.

“It seems to me,” Dr. Bouchard said, “that putting myself in the body of a mouse, if I was on a platform that was vibrating 90 times a minute, I would try to adhere to the surface and not be thrown off. I would probably tense my legs a little bit. That is energy expenditure.”

Stress may be another factor, he added. Standing on the platform may have frightened the mice, and they might have become sick.

Dr. Rudolph L. Leibel, an obesity researcher who is co-director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University, had similar questions.

A platform that seems to be barely vibrating to a human could feel like an earthquake to a mouse, Dr. Leibel said, adding, “they could be scared to death,” which could affect the study data.

He also questioned the idea that precursor cells from bone marrow could turn into fat cells in the rest of the body, calling it “a contested and, I would say, incorrect notion.”

If the mice that stood on the platform became thinner and if they ate as much as mice that did not stand on the platform (as Dr. Rubin reported), they must be burning more calories, Dr. Leibel said.

Others are more hopeful.

“This is very, very cool,” said Dr. John B. Buse, a diabetes researcher at the University of North Carolina who is president for science and medicine at the American Diabetes Association. If it turned out to hold for people too, “it would be great for diabetes,” he added. He noted that people with Type 2 diabetes were likely not only to be overweight but also to have problems with their bones.

Still, Dr. Buse awaits more definitive studies in humans.

“It is almost too good to be true,” he said.

NY Times
26705  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: October 30, 2007, 03:24:37 PM
Why Men don't write Advice Columns:

Dear Walter:

I hope you can help me here. The other day I set off for work leaving my husband in the house watching the TV as usual. I hadn't gone more than a mile down the road when my engine conked out and the car shuddered to a halt.

I walked back home to get my husband's help. When I got home I couldn't believe my eyes. He was in the bedroom with a neighbor lady making mad passionate love to her.

I am 32, my husband is 34 and we have been married for twelve years.

When I confronted him, he tried to make out that he went into the back yard and heard a lady scream, had come to her rescue but found her unconscious.  He'd carried the woman back to our house, laid her in bed, and began CPR. When she awoke she immediately began thanking him and kissing him and he was attempting to break free when I came back. But when I asked him why neither of them had any clothes on, he broke down and admitted that he'd been having an affair for the past six months.

I told him to stop or I would leave him. He was let go from his job six months ago and he says he has been feeling increasingly depressed and worthless. I love him very much, but ever since I gave him the ultimatum he has become increasingly distant. I don't feel I can get through to him anymore.

Can you please help?

Sincerely,

Mrs. U of Santa Clarita, CA

---------------------------------------------
Dear Mrs. U:

A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the jubilee clips holding the vacuum pipes onto the inlet manifold. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the carburetor float chamber.

I hope this helps.

Walter
26706  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Care Economics on: October 30, 2007, 03:21:59 PM
NYTimes-- caveat lector

Looking at Dutch and Swiss Health Systems
GARDINER HARRIS
Published: October 30, 2007
WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 —The Swiss and Dutch health care systems are suddenly all the rage. They have features similar to proposals by at least two presidential hopefuls, and next month the United States’ top health official will visit Switzerland and the Netherlands to kick the tires.


Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt will see health systems in the Netherlands and Switzerland.
Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt will visit Switzerland on Nov. 7 and then fly to The Hague for two days. His schedule is filled with meetings with ministers and technocrats, hospital officials and insurance executives and patients and their advocates.

His visit arose, health department officials said, because policy experts here have promoted Swiss and Dutch changes as models.

In Switzerland and the Netherlands, all people have to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty. Employers are exempt from the mandates, and private insurers and hospitals provide care.

“We have been hearing a lot of people in the health policy community talk about how those two countries had been doing new things in health access, and the secretary wanted to get a closer look at what they’re doing,” a department official said.

The trip is not a sign, however, that the Bush administration is considering major health initiatives, officials said.

“We don’t have anything cooking that we haven’t announced,” the department official said. “We would not endorse a system like the Netherlands or Switzerland’s. But if there’s something we could learn about their system, we should learn about it.”

Other experts, however, are endorsing the two countries’ health systems.

The proposals of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards borrow heavily from changes in the two countries. Mitt Romney’s changes when he was governor of Massachusetts were in part modeled on those in Switzerland. Mr. Romney has not endorsed this approach as a candidate seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

The Healthy Americans Act, introduced by Senators Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, and Robert F. Bennett, Republican of Utah, would largely adopt the Dutch reforms.

Mr. Wyden said Mr. Leavitt’s trip was part of growing Republican support for proposals for universal health care through individual mandates and private providers.

“I think Mr. Leavitt’s trip is a really positive development,” Mr. Wyden said.

A spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, Susan Pisano, said she was struck by Mr. Leavitt’s timing. On Wednesday, Ms. Pisano’s trade group will be the host of a luncheon at which Dutch and Swiss insurance executives will discuss the changes in Europe.

The event is meant to dispel the myth that every nation that provides universal health care does so through government-run systems.

“The only models we seem to focus on here are those in Canada and Great Britain, which both have government-run systems,” Ms. Pisano said. “We thought it made sense to look at two countries that have universal coverage but rely on the private sector to get there.”

W. David Helms, president of AcademyHealth, a health policy research organization here, said he met top Dutch health officials for several days this month in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is a particularly good model for the United States, Mr. Helms said, because it has solved two basic problems: moving from an employer-based system to one in which individuals buy their own insurance and subsidizing care for the poor.

“I think the Netherlands is hot right now because a number of people are realizing that we need to go to an individual-based system instead of an employer-based one,” he said.

President Bush recently proposed eliminating the different tax treatment for employer- and individually purchased health insurance by letting individuals buy insurance with pre-tax dollars.

Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health, said interest in the Swiss and Dutch models had soared among policy experts because of a growing consensus that the United States would never adopt a single-payer system.

Professor Blendon said that the Massachusetts plan and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal for California demonstrated that such changes were politically feasible, and that the Netherlands and Switzerland showed that they could work.
26707  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / NY Times: Too much praise on: October 30, 2007, 02:54:19 PM
An excess of praise may be doing kids more harm than good.
A cover story in this month’s Scholastic Instructor magazine asks whether kids today are “overpraised.'’ The concern is that by focusing on self-esteem and confidence building, parents and teachers may be giving real goals and achievement short shrift. The article cites a recent study in which eighth graders in Korea and the United States were asked whether they were good at math. Among the American students, 39 percent said they were excellent at math, compared to just 6 percent of the Korean eighth graders. But the reality was somewhat different. The Korean kids scored far better in math than the over-confident American students.
The notion that you can praise a kid too much is heresy to parents and teachers who have long believed that building self-esteem should be the cornerstone of education. If kids believe in themselves, the thinking goes, achievement will naturally follow. But confidence doesn’t always produce better students. Scholastic cites a 2006 report on education from the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center that found that countries in which families and schools emphasize self-esteem for students lag behind cultures where self-esteem isn’t a major focus.
The problem with this “rah-rah mentality,'’ as the magazine describes it, is that it can take away the sense of satisfaction that comes from genuine achievement. “Self-esteem is based on real accomplishments,” Robert Brooks, faculty psychologist at Harvard Medical School, told the magazine. “It’s all about letting kids shine in a realistic way.”
The downside of too much praise is that kids may start to focus on the reward rather than what they are learning. Worse, failure can be devastating and confusing for a student whose confidence is based on an inflated ego, rather than his or her actual abilities, the magazine notes. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t praise our kids or that teachers shouldn’t try to engender self-confidence. But self-esteem should be the result of good grades and achievement, not false accomplishments.
Last month, Cognitive Daily reported that parents and teachers should be specific rather than general when they dispense praise. An example of general praise is telling a child, “You’re smart.'’ Specific praise would be to say, “You did a good job reading,'’ or “You did great on your math test.'’ Kids who receive general praise about their abilities are more likely to exhibit “helpless” behavior when they encounter problems with learning, compared with kids who receive specific praise about their achievement on a task. The reason: a child who knows she’s a smart girl feels defeated if she has trouble reading a sentence. But a child who has been told she is a good reader is more likely to have confidence in that specific ability and work a little harder to tackle a more difficult book.
26708  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Buchanan on Giuliani on: October 30, 2007, 02:38:21 PM
Looking for Mr. Right
By Patrick J. Buchanan
Friday, October 26, 2007


"I was conservative yesterday, I'm a conservative today, and I will be a conservative tomorrow," declared Fred Thompson to the Conservative Party of New York, billing himself as the "consistent conservative" in the GOP race -- in contrast to ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani.

In his defense, Rudy cites George Will as calling his eight years in office in the Big Apple the most conservative city government in 50 years.

And, truth be told, Thompson was reliably conservative in his Senate years. But so, too, has John McCain been, and Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo. Hunter, however, splits with Thompson and McCain on trade. Paul disagrees with all six of them on the war. And Tancredo assails McCain for backing Bush's amnesty for 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens.

Will the real conservative please stand up? Or perhaps we should recall John 14:2, "In my father's house there are many mansions."

What does it mean to be a conservative -- in 2007?

Sixty years ago, Robert A. Taft was the gold standard. Forty years ago, it was Barry Goldwater, who backed Bob Taft against Ike at the 1952 convention. Twenty years ago, it was Ronald Reagan, who backed Barry in 1964. Reagan remains the paragon -- for the consistency of his convictions, the success of his presidency and the character he exhibited to the end of his life. About Reagan the cliche was true: The greatness of the office found out the greatness in the man.

Reagan defined conservatism for his time. And the issues upon which we agreed were anti-communism, a national defense second to none, lower tax rates to unleash the engines of economic progress, fiscal responsibility, a strict-constructionist Supreme Court, law and order, the right-to-life from conception on and a resolute defense of family values under assault from the cultural revolution that hit America with hurricane force in the 1960s.

With the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the breakup of the Soviet Union, anti-communism as the defining and unifying issue of the right was gone. The conservative crack-up commenced.

With George H.W. Bush came the advent of what Fred Barnes of The New Republic hailed as Big Government Conservatism. Some thought the phrase oxymoronic. But when Bush stood at the rostrum of the U.N. General Assembly in October 1991 to declare that America's cause was the creation of a New World Order, the old right reached reflexively for their revolvers.

In 1992, with foreign policy off the table, the Bush economic record a perceived failure and Ross Perot running on protectionism and populism, Bush refused to play his trump card with the Clintons: the social and moral issues he and Lee Atwater had use to beat Michael Dukakis senseless in 1988. And so, George H.W. Bush lost the presidency.

Now, 15 years later, what does it mean to be a conservative?

There is no pope who speaks ex cathedra. There is no bible to consult, like Goldwater's "The Conscience of a Conservative" or Reagan's "no-pale-pastels" platform of 1980. At San Diego in 1996, Bob Dole told his convention he had not bothered to read the platform. Many who heard him did not bother to vote for Bob Dole.

And so, today, the once-great house of conservatism is a Tower of Babel. We are big government and small government, traditionalist and libertarian, tax-cutter and budget hawk, free trader and economic nationalist. Bush and McCain support amnesty and a "path to citizenship" for illegals. The country wants the laws enforced and a fence on the border.

And Rudy? A McGovernite in 1972, he boasted in the campaign of 1993 that he would "rekindle the Rockefeller, Javits, Lefkowitz tradition" of New York's GOP and "produce the kind of change New York City saw with ... John Lindsay." He ran on the Liberal Party line and supported Mario Cuomo in 1994.

Pro-abortion, anti-gun, again and again he strutted up Fifth Avenue in the June Gay Pride parade and turned the Big Apple into a sanctuary city for illegal aliens. While Ward Connerly goes state to state to end reverse discrimination, Rudy is an affirmative-action man.

Gravitating now to Rudy's camp are those inveterate opportunists, the neocons, who see in Giuliani their last hope of redemption for their cakewalk war and their best hope for a "Long War" against "Islamofascism."

I will, Rudy promises, nominate Scalias. Only one more may be needed to overturn Roe. And I will keep Hillary out of the White House.

A Giuliani presidency would represent the return and final triumph of the Republicanism that conservatives went into politics to purge from power. A Giuliani presidency would represent repudiation by the party of the moral, social and cultural content that, with anti-communism, once separated it from liberal Democrats and defined it as an institution.

Rudy offers the right the ultimate Faustian bargain: retention of power at the price of one's soul.


Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America .
26709  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: October 30, 2007, 02:02:06 PM
Amazon women stickfighting

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpnJWXddb3E
26710  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Part Three on: October 30, 2007, 11:25:26 AM

As Nelson?s statement hints, the utopian is less interested in freeing women to make their own choices than in engineering and imposing her own elite vision of a perfect society. Indeed, she is under no illusions that, left to their own democratic devices, women would freely choose the utopia she has in mind. She would not be surprised by recent Pakistani elections, where a number of the women who won parliamentary seats were Islamist. But it doesn?t really matter what women want. The universalist has a comprehensive vision of ?women?s human rights,? meaning not simply women?s civil and political rights but ?economic rights? and ?socioeconomic justice.? Cynical about free markets and globalization, the U.N. utopian is also unimpressed by the liberal democratic nation-state ?as an emancipatory institution,? in the dismissive words of J. Ann Tickner, director for international studies at the University of Southern California. Such nation-states are ?unresponsive to the needs of [their] most vulnerable members? and seeped in ?nationalist ideologies? as well as in patriarchal assumptions about autonomy. In fact, like the (usually) unacknowledged socialist that she is, the U.N. utopian eagerly awaits the withering of the nation-state, a political arrangement that she sees as tied to imperialism, war, and masculinity. During war, in particular, nations ?depend on ideas about masculinized dignity and feminized sacrifice to sustain the sense of autonomous nationhood,? writes Cynthia Enloe, professor of government at Clark University.

Having rejected the patriarchal liberal nation-state, with all the democratic machinery of self-government that goes along with it, the utopian concludes that there is only one way to achieve her goals: to impose them through international government. Utopian feminists fill the halls of the United Nations, where they examine everything through the lens of the ?gender perspective? in study after unreadable study. (My personal favorites: ?Gender Perspectives on Landmines? and ?Gender Perspectives on Weapons of Mass Destruction,? whose conclusion is that landmines and WMDs are bad for women.)

The 1979 U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), perhaps the first and most important document of feminist utopianism, gives the best sense of the sweeping nature of the movement?s ambitions. CEDAW demands many measures that anyone committed to democratic liberal values would applaud, including women?s right to vote and protection against honor killings and forced marriage. Would that the document stopped there. Instead it sets out to impose a utopian order that would erase all distinctions between men and women, a kind of revolution of the sexes from above, requiring nations to ?take all appropriate measures to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women? and to eliminate ?stereotyped roles? to accomplish this legislative abolition of biology. The document calls for paid maternity leave, nonsexist school curricula, and government-supported child care. The treaty?s 23-member enforcement committee hectors nations that do not adequately grasp that, as Enloe puts it, ?the personal is international.? The committee has cited Belarus for celebrating Mother?s Day, China for failing to legalize prostitution, and Libya for not interpreting the Qur?an in accordance with ?committee guidelines.?

Confusing ?women?s participation? with self-determination, and numerical equivalence with equality, CEDAW utopians try to orchestrate their perfect society through quotas and affirmative-action plans. Their bean-counting mentality cares about whether women participate equally, without asking what it is that they are participating in or whether their participation is anything more than ceremonial. Thus at the recent Women?s Summit in Jordan, Rima Khalaf suggested that governments be required to use quotas in elections ?to leapfrog women to power.? Khalaf, like so many illiberal feminist utopians, has no hesitation in forcing society to be free. As is often the case when elites decide they have discovered the route to human perfection, the utopian urge is not simply antidemocratic but verges on the totalitarian.

That this combination of sentimental victimhood, postcolonial relativism, and utopian overreaching has caused feminism to suffer so profound a loss of moral and political imagination that it cannot speak against the brutalization of Islamic women is an incalculable loss to women and to men. The great contribution of Western feminism was to expand the definition of human dignity and freedom. It insisted that all human beings were worthy of liberty. Feminists now have the opportunity to make that claim on behalf of women who in their oppression have not so much as imagined that its promise could include them, too. At its best, feminism has stood for a rich idea of personal choice in shaping a meaningful life, one that respects not only the woman who wants to crash through glass ceilings but also the one who wants to stay home with her children and bake cookies or to wear a veil and fast on Ramadan. Why shouldn?t feminists want to shout out their own profound discovery for the world to hear?

Perhaps, finally, because to do so would be to acknowledge the freedom they themselves enjoy, thanks to Western ideals and institutions. Not only would such an admission force them to give up their own simmering resentments; it would be bad for business.
The truth is that the free institutions?an independent judiciary, a free press, open elections?that protect the rights of women are the same ones that protect the rights of men. The separation of church and state that would allow women to escape the burqa would also free men from having their hands amputated for theft. The education system that would teach girls to read would also empower millions of illiterate boys. The capitalist economies that bring clean water, cheap clothes, and washing machines that change the lives of women are the same ones that lead to healthier, freer men. In other words, to address the problems of Muslim women honestly, feminists would have to recognize that free men and women need the same things?and that those are things that they themselves already have. And recognizing that would mean an end to feminism as we know it.

There are signs that, outside the academy, middlebrow literary circles, and the United Nations, feminism has indeed met its Waterloo. Most Americans seem to realize that September 11 turned self-indulgent sentimental illusions, including those about the sexes, into an unaffordable luxury. Consider, for instance, women?s attitudes toward war, a topic on which politicians have learned to take for granted a gender gap. But according to the Pew Research Center, in January 2002, 57 percent of women versus 46 percent of men cited national security as the country?s top priority. There has been a ?seismic gender shift on matters of war,? according to pollster Kellyanne Conway. In 1991, 45 percent of U.S. women supported the use of ground troops in the Gulf War, a substantially smaller number than the 67 percent of men. But as of November, a CNN survey found women were more likely than men to support the use of ground troops against Iraq, 58 percent to 56 percent. The numbers for younger women were especially dramatic. Sixty-five percent of women between 18 and 49 support ground troops, as opposed to 48 percent of women 50 and over. Women are also changing their attitudes toward military spending: before September 11, only 24 percent of women supported increased funds; after the attacks, that number climbed to 47 percent. An evolutionary psychologist might speculate that, if females tend to be less aggressively territorial than males, there?s little to compare to the ferocity of the lioness when she believes her young are threatened.

Even among some who consider themselves feminists, there is some grudging recognition that Western, and specifically American, men are sometimes a force for the good. The Feminist Majority is sending around urgent messages asking for President Bush to increase American security forces in Afghanistan. The influential left-wing British columnist Polly Toynbee, who just 18 months ago coined the phrase ?America the Horrible,? went to Afghanistan to figure out whether the war ?was worth it.? Her answer was not what she might have expected. Though she found nine out of ten women still wearing burqas, partly out of fear of lingering fundamentalist hostility, she was convinced their lives had greatly improved. Women say they can go out alone now.

As we sink more deeply into what is likely to be a protracted struggle with radical Islam, American feminists have a moral responsibility to give up their resentments and speak up for women who actually need their support. Feminists have the moral authority to say that their call for the rights of women is a universal demand?that the rights of women are the Rights of Man.

Feminism Behind the Veil

Feminists in the West may fiddle while Muslim women are burning, but in the Muslim world itself there is a burgeoning movement to address the miserable predicament of the second sex?without simply adopting a philosophy whose higher cultural products include Sex and the City, Rosie O?Donnell, and the power-suited female executive.

The most impressive signs of an indigenous female revolt against the fundamentalist order are in Iran. Over the past ten years or so, Iran has seen the publication of a slew of serious journals dedicated to the social and political predicament of Islamic women, the most well known being the Teheran-based Zonan and Zan, published by Faezah Hashemi, a well-known member of parliament and the daughter of former president Rafsanjani. Believing that Western feminism has promoted hostility between the sexes, confused sex roles, and the sexual objectification of women, a number of writers have proposed an Islamic-style feminism that would stress ?gender complementarity? rather than equality and that would pay full respect to housewifery and motherhood while also giving women access to education and jobs.

Attacking from the religious front, a number of ?Islamic feminists? are challenging the reigning fundamentalist reading of the Qur?an. These scholars insist that the founding principles of Islam, which they believe were long ago corrupted by pre-Islamic Arab, Persian, and North African customs, are if anything more egalitarian than those of Western religions; the Qur?an explicitly describes women as the moral and spiritual equals of men and allows them to inherit and pass down property. The power of misogynistic mullahs has grown in recent decades, feminists continue, because Muslim men have felt threatened by modernity?s challenge to traditional arrangements between the sexes.

What makes Islamic feminism really worth watching is that it has the potential to play a profoundly important role in the future of the Islamic world?and not just because it could improve the lot of women. By insisting that it is true to Islam?in fact, truer than the creed espoused by the entrenched religious elite?Islamic feminism can affirm the dignity of Islam while at the same time bringing it more in line with modernity. In doing this, feminists can help lay the philosophical groundwork for democracy. In the West, feminism lagged behind religious reformation and political democratization by centuries; in the East, feminism could help lead the charge.

At the same time, though, the issue of women?s rights highlights two reasons for caution about the Islamic future. For one thing, no matter how much feminists might wish otherwise, polygamy and male domination of the family are not merely a fact of local traditions; they are written into the Qur?an itself. This in and of itself would not prove to be such an impediment?the Old Testament is filled with laws antithetical to women?s equality?except for the second problem: more than other religions, Islam is unfriendly to the notion of the separation of church and state. If history is any guide, there?s the rub. The ultimate guarantor of the rights of all citizens, whether Islamic or not, can only be a fully secular state.
26711  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Men & Women on: October 30, 2007, 11:24:25 AM

Major foundations too seem to take gender feminism seriously enough to promote it as an answer to world problems. Last December, the Ford Foundation and the Soros Open Society Foundation helped fund the Afghan Women?s Summit in Brussels to develop ideas for a new government in Afghanistan. As Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler described it on her website, the summit was made up of ?meetings and meals, canvassing, workshops, tears, and dancing.? ?Defense was mentioned nowhere in the document,? Ensler wrote proudly of the summit?s concluding proclamation?despite the continuing threat in Afghanistan of warlords, bandits, and lingering al-Qaida operatives. ?uilding weapons or instruments of retaliation was not called for in any category,? Ensler cooed. ?Instead [the women] wanted education, health care, and the protection of refugees, culture, and human rights.?

Too busy celebrating their own virtue and contemplating their own victimhood, gender feminists cannot address the suffering of their Muslim sisters realistically, as light years worse than their own petulant grievances. They are too intent on hating war to ask if unleashing its horrors might be worth it to overturn a brutal tyranny that, among its manifold inhumanities, treats women like animals. After all, hating war and machismo is evidence of the moral superiority that comes with being born female.

Yet the gender feminist idea of superior feminine virtue is becoming an increasingly tough sell for anyone actually keeping up with world events. Kipling once wrote of the fierceness of Afghan women: ?When you?re wounded and left on the Afghan plains/And the women come out to cut up your remains/Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains.? Now it?s clearer than ever that the dream of worldwide sisterhood is no more realistic than worldwide brotherhood; culture trumps gender any day. Mothers all over the Muslim world are naming their babies Usama or praising Allah for their sons? efforts to kill crusading infidels. Last February, 28-year-old Wafa Idris became the first female Palestinian suicide bomber to strike in Israel, killing an elderly man and wounding scores of women and children. And in April, Israeli soldiers discovered under the maternity clothes of 26-year-old Shifa Adnan Kodsi a bomb rather than a baby. Maternal thinking, indeed.

The second variety of feminism, seemingly more sophisticated and especially prevalent on college campuses, is multiculturalism and its twin, postcolonialism. The postcolonial feminist has even more reason to shy away from the predicament of women under radical Islam than her maternally thinking sister. She believes that the Western world is so sullied by its legacy of imperialism that no Westerner, man or woman, can utter a word of judgment against former colonial peoples. Worse, she is not so sure that radical Islam isn?t an authentic, indigenous?and therefore appropriate?expression of Arab and Middle Eastern identity.

The postmodern philosopher Michel Foucault, one of the intellectual godfathers of multiculturalism and postcolonialism, first set the tone in 1978 when an Italian newspaper sent him to Teheran to cover the Iranian revolution. As his biographer James Miller tells it, Foucault looked in the face of Islamic fundamentalism and saw . . . an awe-inspiring revolt against ?global hegemony.? He was mesmerized by this new form of ?political spirituality? that, in a phrase whose dark prescience he could not have grasped, portended the ?transfiguration of the world.? Even after the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power and reintroduced polygamy and divorce on the husband?s demand with automatic custody to fathers, reduced the official female age of marriage from 18 to 13, fired all female judges, and ordered compulsory veiling, whose transgression was to be punished by public flogging, Foucault saw no reason to temper his enthusiasm. What was a small matter like women?s basic rights, when a struggle against ?the planetary system? was at hand?

Postcolonialists, then, have their own binary system, somewhat at odds with gender feminism?not to mention with women?s rights. It is not men who are the sinners; it is the West. It is not women who are victimized innocents; it is the people who suffered under Western colonialism, or the descendants of those people, to be more exact. Caught between the rock of patriarchy and the hard place of imperialism, the postcolonial feminist scholar gingerly tiptoes her way around the subject of Islamic fundamentalism and does the only thing she can do: she focuses her ire on Western men.

To this end, the postcolonialist eagerly dips into the inkwell of gender feminism. She ties colonialist exploitation and domination to maleness; she might refer to Israel?s ?masculinist military culture??Israel being white and Western?though she would never dream of pointing out the ?masculinist military culture? of the jihadi. And she expends a good deal of energy condemning Western men for wanting to improve the lives of Eastern women. At the turn of the twentieth century Lord Cromer, the British vice consul of Egypt and a pet target of postcolonial feminists, argued that the ?degradation? of women under Islam had a harmful effect on society. Rubbish, according to the postcolonialist feminist. His words are simply part of ?the Western narrative of the quintessential otherness and inferiority of Islam,? as Harvard professor Leila Ahmed puts it in Women and Gender in Islam. The same goes for American concern about Afghan women; it is merely a ?device for ranking the ?other? men as inferior or as ?uncivilized,? ? according to Nira Yuval-Davis, professor of gender and ethnic studies at the University of Greenwich, England. These are all examples of what renowned Columbia professor Gayatri Spivak called ?white men saving brown women from brown men.?

Spivak?s phrase, a great favorite on campus, points to the postcolonial notion that brown men, having been victimized by the West, can never be oppressors in their own right. If they give the appearance of treating women badly, the oppression they have suffered at the hands of Western colonial masters is to blame. In fact, the worse they treat women, the more they are expressing their own justifiable outrage. ?When men are traumatized [by colonial rule], they tend to traumatize their own women,? Miriam Cooke, a Duke professor and head of the Association for Middle East Women?s Studies, told me. And today, Cooke asserts, brown men are subjected to a new form of imperialism. ?Now there is a return of colonialism that we saw in the nineteenth century in the context of globalization,? she says. ?What is driving Islamist men is globalization.?

It would be difficult to exaggerate the through-the-looking-glass quality of postcolonialist theory when it comes to the subject of women. Female suicide bombers are a good thing, because they are strong women demonstrating ?agency? against colonial powers. Polygamy too must be shown due consideration. ?Polygamy can be liberating and empowering,? Cooke answered sunnily when I asked her about it. ?Our norm is the Western, heterosexual, single couple. If we can imagine different forms that would allow us to be something other than a heterosexual couple, we might imagine polygamy working,? she explained murkily. Some women, she continued, are relieved when their husbands take a new wife: they won?t have to service him so often. Or they might find they now have the freedom to take a lover. But, I ask, wouldn?t that be dangerous in places where adulteresses can be stoned to death? At any rate, how common is that? ?I don?t know,? Cooke answers, ?I?m interested in discourse.? The irony couldn?t be darker: the very people protesting the imperialist exploitation of the ?Other? endorse that Other?s repressive customs as a means of promoting their own uniquely Western agenda?subverting the heterosexual patriarchy.

The final category in the feminist taxonomy, which might be called the world-government utopian strain, is in many respects closest to classical liberal feminism. Dedicated to full female dignity and equality, it generally eschews both the biological determinism of the gender feminist and the cultural relativism of the multiculti postcolonialist. Stanford political science professor Susan Moller Okin, an influential, subtle, and intelligent spokeswoman for this approach, created a stir among feminists in 1997 when she forthrightly attacked multiculturalists for valuing ?group rights for minority cultures? over the well-being of individual women. Okin admirably minced no words attacking arranged marriage, female circumcision, and polygamy, which she believed women experienced as a ?barely tolerable institution.? Some women, she went so far as to declare, ?might be better off if the culture into which they were born were either to become extinct . . . or preferably, to be encouraged to alter itself so as to reinforce the equality of women.?

But though Okin is less shy than other feminists about discussing the plight of women under Islamic fundamentalism, the typical U.N. utopian has her own reasons for keeping quiet as that plight fills Western headlines. For one thing, the utopian is also a bean-counting absolutist, seeking a pure, numerical equality between men and women in all departments of life. She greets Western, and particularly American, claims to have achieved freedom for women with skepticism. The motto of the 2002 International Women?s Day??Afghanistan Is Everywhere??was in part a reproach to the West about its superior airs. Women in Afghanistan might have to wear burqas, but don?t women in the West parade around in bikinis? ?It?s equally disrespectful and abusive to have women prancing around a stage in bathing suits for cash or walking the streets shrouded in burqas in order to survive,? columnist Jill Nelson wrote on the MSNBC website about the murderously fanatical riots that attended the Miss World pageant in Nigeria.
26712  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / 2003 article on Feminism and Islam on: October 30, 2007, 11:23:15 AM
Why Feminism Is AWOL on Islam
Kay S. Hymowitz
 

U.S. feminists should be protesting the brutal oppression of Middle Eastern women. But doing so would reveal how little they have to complain about at home.

Argue all you want with many feminist policies, but few quarrel with feminism?s core moral insight, which changed the lives (and minds) of women forever: that women are due the same rights and dignity as men. So, as news of the appalling miseries of women in the Islamic world has piled up, where are the feminists? Where?s the outrage? For a brief moment after September 11, when pictures of those blue alien-creaturely shapes in Afghanistan filled the papers, it seemed as if feminists were going to have their moment. And in fact the Feminist Majority, to its credit, had been publicizing since the mid-90s how Afghan girls were barred from school, how women were stoned for adultery or beaten for showing an ankle or wearing high-heeled shoes, how they were prohibited from leaving the house unless accompanied by a male relative, how they were denied medical help because the only doctors around were male.

But the rest is feminist silence. You haven?t heard a peep from feminists as it has grown clear that the Taliban were exceptional not in their extreme views about women but in their success at embodying those views in law and practice. In the United Arab Emirates, husbands have the right to beat their wives in order to discipline them??provided that the beating is not so severe as to damage her bones or deform her body,? in the words of the Gulf News. In Saudi Arabia, women cannot vote, drive, or show their faces or talk with male non-relatives in public. (Evidently they can?t talk to men over the airwaves either; when Prince Abdullah went to President Bush?s ranch in Crawford last April, he insisted that no female air-traffic controllers handle his flight.) Yes, Saudi girls can go to school, and many even attend the university; but at the university, women must sit in segregated rooms and watch their professors on closed-circuit televisions. If they have a question, they push a button on their desk, which turns on a light at the professor?s lectern, from which he can answer the female without being in her dangerous presence. And in Saudi Arabia, education can be harmful to female health. Last spring in Mecca, members of the mutaween, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue, pushed fleeing students back into their burning school because they were not properly covered in abaya. Fifteen girls died.

You didn?t hear much from feminists when in the northern Nigerian province of Katsina a Muslim court sentenced a woman to death by stoning for having a child outside of marriage. The case might not have earned much attention?stonings are common in parts of the Muslim world?except that the young woman, who had been married off at 14 to a husband who ultimately divorced her when she lost her virginal allure, was still nursing a baby at the time of sentencing. During her trial she had no lawyer, although the court did see fit to delay her execution until she weans her infant.

You didn?t hear much from feminists as it emerged that honor killings by relatives, often either ignored or only lightly punished by authorities, are also commonplace in the Muslim world. In September, Reuters reported the story of an Iranian man, ?defending my honor, family, and dignity,? who cut off his seven-year-old daughter?s head after suspecting she had been raped by her uncle. The postmortem showed the girl to be a virgin. In another family mix-up, a Yemeni man shot his daughter to death on her wedding night when her husband claimed she was not a virgin. After a medical exam revealed that the husband was mistaken, officials concluded he was simply trying to protect himself from embarrassment about his own impotence. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, every day two women are slain by male relatives seeking to avenge the family honor.

The savagery of some of these murders is worth a moment?s pause. In 2000, two Punjabi sisters, 20 and 21 years old, had their throats slit by their brother and cousin because the girls were seen talking to two boys to whom they were not related. In one especially notorious case, an Egyptian woman named Nora Marzouk Ahmed fell in love and eloped. When she went to make amends with her father, he cut off her head and paraded it down the street. Several years back, according to the Washington Post, the husband of Zahida Perveen, a 32-year-old pregnant Pakistani, gouged out her eyes and sliced off her earlobe and nose because he suspected her of having an affair.

In a related example widely covered last summer, a teenage girl in the Punjab was sentenced by a tribal council to rape by a gang that included one of the councilmen. After the hour-and-a-half ordeal, the girl was forced to walk home naked in front of scores of onlookers. She had been punished because her 11-year-old brother had compromised another girl by being been seen alone with her. But that charge turned out to be a ruse: it seems that three men of a neighboring tribe had sodomized the boy and accused him of illicit relations?an accusation leading to his sister?s barbaric punishment?as a way of covering up their crime.

Nor is such brutality limited to backward, out-of-the-way villages. Muddassir Rizvi, a Pakistani journalist, says that, though always common in rural areas, in recent years honor killings have become more prevalent in cities ?among educated and liberal families.? In relatively modern Jordan, honor killings were all but exempt from punishment until the penal code was modified last year; unfortunately, a young Palestinian living in Jordan, who had recently stabbed his 19-year-old sister 40 times ?to cleanse the family honor,? and another man from near Amman, who ran over his 23-year-old sister with his truck because of her ?immoral behavior,? had not yet changed their ways. British psychiatrist Anthony Daniels reports that British Muslim men frequently spirit their young daughters back to their native Pakistan and force the girls to marry. Such fathers have been known to kill daughters who resist. In Sweden, in one highly publicized case, Fadima Sahindal, an assimilated 26-year-old of Kurdish origin, was murdered by her father after she began living with her Swedish boyfriend. ?The whore is dead,? the family announced.

As you look at this inventory of brutality, the question bears repeating: Where are the demonstrations, the articles, the petitions, the resolutions, the vindications of the rights of Islamic women by American feminists? The weird fact is that, even after the excesses of the Taliban did more to forge an American consensus about women?s rights than 30 years of speeches by Gloria Steinem, feminists refused to touch this subject. They have averted their eyes from the harsh, blatant oppression of millions of women, even while they have continued to stare into the Western patriarchal abyss, indignant over female executives who cannot join an exclusive golf club and college women who do not have their own lacrosse teams.

But look more deeply into the matter, and you realize that the sound of feminist silence about the savage fundamentalist Muslim oppression of women has its own perverse logic. The silence is a direct outgrowth of the way feminist theory has developed in recent years. Now mired in self-righteous sentimentalism, multicultural nonjudgmentalism, and internationalist utopianism, feminism has lost the language to make the universalist moral claims of equal dignity and individual freedom that once rendered it so compelling. No wonder that most Americans, trying to deal with the realities of a post-9/11 world, are paying feminists no mind.

To understand the current sisterly silence about the sort of tyranny that the women?s movement came into existence to attack, it is helpful to think of feminisms plural rather than singular. Though not entirely discrete philosophies, each of three different feminisms has its own distinct reasons for causing activists to ?lose their voice? in the face of women?s oppression.

The first variety?radical feminism (or gender feminism, in Christina Hoff Sommers?s term)?starts with the insight that men are, not to put too fine a point upon it, brutes. Radical feminists do not simply subscribe to the reasonable-enough notion that men are naturally more prone to aggression than women. They believe that maleness is a kind of original sin. Masculinity explains child abuse, marital strife, high defense spending, every war from Troy to Afghanistan, as well as Hitler, Franco, and Pinochet. As Gloria Steinem informed the audience at a Florida fundraiser last March: ?The cult of masculinity is the basis for every violent, fascist regime.?

Gender feminists are little interested in fine distinctions between radical Muslim men who slam commercial airliners into office buildings and soldiers who want to stop radical Muslim men from slamming commercial airliners into office buildings. They are both examples of generic male violence?and specifically, male violence against women. ?Terrorism is on a continuum that starts with violence within the family, battery against women, violence against women in the society, all the way up to organized militaries that are supported by taxpayer money,? according to Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, who teaches ?The Sexuality of Terrorism? at California State University in Hayward. Violence is so intertwined with male sexuality that, she tells us, military pilots watch porn movies before they go out on sorties. The war in Afghanistan could not possibly offer a chance to liberate women from their oppressors, since it would simply expose women to yet another set of oppressors, in the gender feminists? view. As Sharon Lerner asserted bizarrely in the Village Voice, feminists? ?discomfort? with the Afghanistan bombing was ?deepened by the knowledge that more women than men die as a result of most wars.?

If guys are brutes, girls are their opposite: peace-loving, tolerant, conciliatory, and reasonable??Antiwar and Pro-Feminist,? as the popular peace-rally sign goes. Feminists long ago banished tough-as-nails women like Margaret Thatcher and Jeanne Kirkpatrick (and these days, one would guess, even the fetching Condoleezza Rice) to the ranks of the imperfectly female. Real women, they believe, would never justify war. ?Most women, Western and Muslim, are opposed to war regardless of its reasons and objectives,? wrote the Jordanian feminist Fadia Faqir on OpenDemocracy.net. ?They are concerned with emancipation, freedom (personal and civic), human rights, power sharing, integrity, dignity, equality, autonomy, power-sharing [sic], liberation, and pluralism.?

Sara Ruddick, author of Maternal Thinking, is perhaps one of the most influential spokeswomen for the position that women are instinctually peaceful. According to Ruddick (who clearly didn?t have Joan Crawford in mind), that?s because a good deal of mothering is naturally governed by the Gandhian principles of nonviolence such as ?renunciation,? ?resistance to injustice,? and ?reconciliation.? The novelist Barbara Kingsolver was one of the first to demonstrate the subtleties of such universal maternal thinking after the United States invaded Afghanistan. ?I feel like I?m standing on a playground where the little boys are all screaming ?He started it!? and throwing rocks,? she wrote in the Los Angeles Times. ?I keep looking for somebody?s mother to come on the scene saying, ?Boys! Boys!? ?

Gender feminism?s tendency to reduce foreign affairs to a Lifetime Channel movie may make it seem too silly to bear mentioning, but its kitschy naivet? hasn?t stopped it from being widespread among elites. You see it in widely read writers like Kingsolver, Maureen Dowd, and Alice Walker. It turns up in our most elite institutions. Swanee Hunt, head of the Women in Public Policy Program at Harvard?s Kennedy School of Government wrote, with Cristina Posa in Foreign Policy: ?The key reason behind women?s marginalization may be that everyone recognizes just how good women are at forging peace.? Even female elected officials are on board. ?The women of all these countries should go on strike, they should all sit down and refuse to do anything until their men agree to talk peace,? urged Ohio representative Marcy Kaptur to the Arab News last spring, echoing an idea that Aristophanes, a dead white male, proposed as a joke 2,400 years ago. And President Clinton is an advocate of maternal thinking, too. ?If we?d had women at Camp David,? he said in July 2000, ?we?d have an agreement.?
26713  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Newt plugs his book on: October 30, 2007, 11:08:11 AM


Do you remember back in the late 1980s and early 1990s when people began thinking differently about welfare?

Politicians in Washington and in state capitals actually woke up to the fact that the usual left-right screaming matches weren't doing any good. Lots of us came to understand that the welfare system we then had was actually harming many of the people it was supposed to be helping. The result of this new way of thinking was welfare reform.

Eleven years later, the effects of this change are nothing less than transformational. Welfare rolls have declined by more than 60 percent. And a million and a half fewer children are living in poverty.

Today, I want to introduce you to a new way of thinking about the environment.



This week marks the launch of my new book, A Contract with the Earth.

I wrote it with my friend Terry Maple, who was once the head of Zoo Atlanta and is now president and CEO of the Palm Beach Zoo and professor of conservation and behavior at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

If I had to boil down the message of A Contract with the Earth to just a couple sentences, I would say it's this:

The left doesn't have the last word on how we protect our environment -- and neither do the folks who say we should sit back and do nothing.

The fact is, according to polling done by my grassroots organization, American Solutions, 95 percent of Americans believe we have an obligation to be good stewards of God's creation for future generations. Eighty-two percent said they believe so "intensely."

Over the last 36 years, I have watched the pro-regulation, pro-litigation, pro-taxation and pro-centralized-government advocates become the definers of environmentalism.

The left would have us believe that to be an environmentalist you have to believe in catastrophic threats, dramatic increases in government power and economically draconian solutions. Such a big-government bureaucracy, trial-lawyer-litigation and excessive-regulation "environmentalism" does a poor job of protecting the environment while it erodes individual freedom, destroys jobs and weakens our country.

The time has come to propose a fundamentally different approach to a healthy environment and a healthy economy.

The time has come for the development of a mainstream environmentalism as an alternative to big bureaucracy and big litigation environmentalism. You could call it "green conservatism," but it's really the mainstream environmental approach that has worked so well in the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt epitomized this approach when he said, "The movement for the conservation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose and method."

A Better Way to Protect God's Creation

A Contract with the Earth, which is available in both book and audio form, describes a different -- and better -- way to protect God's creation.

Take this quick quiz:


Do you believe a healthy environment should be able to coexist with a healthy, growing economy?


Do you believe investments in science and technology will generate solutions to most of our environmental problems?


Do you believe incentives should be offered to encourage corporations to clean up the environment?


Do you believe corporate and private philanthropy is essential to the success of a global and environmental movement?

If you answered "yes" to most of these questions, you're probably in the environmental mainstream. You may even be a green conservative.

I'll have a lot more to say about A Contract with the Earth and new ways of thinking about protecting our environment in the weeks and months ahead. For now, you can read more about green conservatism at ContractWithTheEarth.com.
26714  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: October 30, 2007, 11:07:04 AM
"History by apprising [citizens] of the past will enable them
to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of
other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges
of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know
ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it,
to defeat its views."

-- Thomas Jefferson (Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 14,
1781)
26715  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: October 30, 2007, 10:43:27 AM
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles...1-12B71D02ADD7


What I Said
By David Horowitz
FrontPageMagazine.com | 10/30/2007

[The following is a speech given by David Horowitz at the University of Wisconsin last Monday as part of the university’s Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week program]

I understand that the cold weather set in just to day so I planned this event to warm things up. Actually, it wasn’t my plan to warm things up. The heat has been provided by a national hate campaign organized by the political left to intimidate and discredit the student organizers of the event and prevent the discussion they hoped to stimulate from taking place. Some of this hate crowd is present tonight. Yes, I can hear you. You attack this event by alleging that it is put on by racists and bigots and Islamo-phobes. I’m going to disappoint you, if you listen. This evening is not about prejudice against Muslims. On the contrary, this evening is on behalf of all those Muslims who are oppressed by Islamo-Fascism, which you would know if you read what we have said.
If you want to understand what this week is about, here is the poster we designed to announce our events. What it shows is a soccer field in Afghanistan. The figure with the AK-47 is a Taliban soldier. And this poor woman, who is about to have her head blown off at point blank range by an AK-47 has been accused of sexual improprieties, which violate Islamic law. As you may or may not know, in countries where Sharia, which is Islamic law, is imposed by the state, women cannot be witnesses. So this poor woman had no defense. Nor could other women testify in her behalf. Islamic law forbids it. The person who shot the video from which this still is taken asked the Taliban why they were doing this on this soccer field. It happens the United States, in its never-ending generosity, gave Afghanistan that soccer field. The Taliban soldier replied, “Well, if the United States will give us a place for executions, we will play soccer on the soccer field.” These are the religious barbarians we face.
Every person in this photo is a Muslim. The victim is a Muslim. There are 130 million girls in Islamic countries who have had their genitals sliced off at puberty, without anesthetic, because sexual pleasure in a woman is held to be evil by some perverted interpretation of Islamic law. The clitorectomies are to save these girls from evil. This evening and this week is to protest that barbaric treatment of young Muslim women. There are 4,000 homosexuals who have been executed in Iran. This evening is to protest that as well. There are 52 countries in the world where there have been honor killings of Muslim women. If a Muslim woman is raped, her family is shamed. Remove the stain of that shame, one of her relatives, a brother, a cousin, parent, murders her. This is a week to bring awareness about that barbaric practice by Islamo-fascists and to try to stop it.
One of our concerns in this regard is the failure of the Women’s Studies Movement to educate students about these atrocities. There are probably 600 Women’s Studies programs on American campuses, which focus on the unequal treatment of women in society. We have had a very hard time locating a single class which focuses on the oppression of women under Islamic law.
As you probably know, women under Islamic law get half the inheritance a man does. In some countries where Sharia is enforced, women can’t even get an education. In Saudi Arabia, there is currently a campaign for women’s liberatiion which is attempting to get women the right to drive an automobile. To drive an automobile! Why aren’t Women’s Studies Departments up in arms about this? You can probably go to a Women’s Studies class at this university and learn about the oppression of women in the faculty lounge, but you can’t learn about the oppression of women in Tehran or Riyadh or Kuala Lumpur.
For the information of our opponents here tonight, this week is already a tremendous success, because no matter how hostile you are to what you imagine to be our views, which have been unbelievably distorted in the attacks this week, you yourselves are already now discussing the issues we set out to raise: “Why is it that American feminists are not up in arms about the savage abuses of women by Islamo-fascists, about those 130 million young girls who have their genitals sliced off?”
So we have already done a service to Muslim women all over the world just by raising this. I know that there are the people who feel that the Muslim community is under threat here. But think of the Muslim community in Algeria where between 150,000 and 200,000 moderate Muslims were slaughtered in the 1990s, by an organization calling itself Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb. Think about the Muslims in the Sudan who are being slaughtered by a Taliban-like regime, simply because they don't subscribe to the regime's version of Islam. This is a serious problem in the Islamic world where (except for the nation of Turkey, which seems to be going in the other direction) there is a lack of separation of church and state. What that means is if radical clerics get in control of the state, they will use the state law to enforce their version of the Qur'an.
In Iran, just last week, the modesty police issued a new edict that couples can't hold hands in public. If you want the definition of a totalitarian state, it's a state that controls every aspect of a person's life. Religions, and particularly Islam, are concerned with many aspects of a person’s life. Religion is about morality, about the family, and about social relations. So when interpretations of religious law are enforce by the political state that’s the end of all freedom. It means one set of priests is going to have the power state behind their interpretation of what you can and cannot do. The end result of that process is this poor woman in the photo who is about to have her head blown off by an AK-47 for violating a government edict about her sex life. I don’t think there is anybody in this room who would support that. I hope there isn’t.
That’s really what we intended to do with this week, to make people aware of this problem. I have called it “Islamo-Fascism.” That is not a term designed to say that all Muslims or a majority of Muslims are fascists. In fact a majority of Muslims are either victims of Islamo-Fascists or threatened by them. The FoxNews channel anchor and other misguided individuals think that the term “Islamo-Fascism” is hate speech. That’s the same thing as saying the term should be banned. In a democracy, at least in our democracy as it has been degraded by so-called liberals today, the way you ban ideas is by calling them “hate speech.” But saying that Islamo-Fascism implicates all Muslims make no logical sense.
We use the term “Italian Fascism” without assuming that all Italians are fascists. Hitler did not even win a majority of the vote in Germany, yet we use the phrase “German Fascism” without implying that all people of German descent are fascists. People like Alan Colmes will throw around the term “white racism” pretty casually. Everyone in this room has either used the phrase “white racism” or read it without objection. Do you mean to call every white person a racist when you use that term? That would make Alan Colmes a racist. Yet that’s precisely what the opponents of Islamo-Fascism week seem to be claiming.
The hateful attacks on this week are, in fact quite stupid, when you think about what they are claiming. If I intended to come on a college platform and say hateful things about all Muslims, I would be hooted off the stage. No campus organization would invite me to say such things and if I did say them I would never be invited by any campus organization again. Since no one on a college campus is prepared to hear hate speech, why bother to protest it in advance. It’s self-discrediting. Yet we live in such Orwellian times that no one laughs when the left makes these preposterous claims.
So, on the one hand, the hate campaign against us is a very stupid campaign, although it is also malicious. On the other, it is quite sinister. When you are called a racist from one end of the country to another, when you are identified as somebody who is preaching hate against a religious or ethnic or racial group, someone is going to believe those charges. The effect, in other words, is to put a target on your back. Which is why there is so much security present tonight...
__________________
26716  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Umpad Corto-Kadena on: October 30, 2007, 10:32:56 AM
Link is not working for me , , ,  cry
26717  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: October 29, 2007, 07:18:13 PM

PART II

But the operations center was telling him to change planes, directing him
toward a different C-17 Globemaster, one with a plus-sized fuel tank. Red 7,
the center said, would be picking up a severely injured soldier from Balad
to fly him nonstop to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., just outside Washington.
"Our initial reaction was, 'I don't believe you,'" Bufton said. "Nobody goes
to Andrews Air Force Base from Balad."
Once the disbelief faded, Bufton sent a few guys to the barracks to scoop up
extra clothes.
"It looked like we'd be gone for a couple days," he said.

After landing at Balad, the loadmaster, Staff Sgt. Matthew Nemeth, began
readying the aircraft for a medical evacuation. They briefed him on the
details: one guy with a knife in his head, another soldier with a gunshot
wound to the neck added at the last minute. A seven-person medical crew
expected to board soon. Keep down the turbulence and restrict the cabin
pressure to 4,000 feet.
"I've never seen it that low before," Bufton said. "That restricted our
flight ops to about 26,000 feet, which unfortunately keeps us down in the
weather." At the time, thunderstorms blanketed the skies of eastern Europe
along the flight path.

Bufton, with augmenting air refueling pilot Lt. Col. Jesse Strickland and
pilots Capt. Justin Herbst and Capt. Scot Frechette, kept the C-17's engine
idling as the Air Force medical crew rolled Powers, the other wounded
soldier and 7,000 pounds of lifesaving equipment up the ramp.
On the ground, a diplomatic clearance shop was frantically clearing their
flight through roughly a dozen countries: Iraq, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania,
Hungary, the Czech Republic, Germany, Holland, England and others.

Once airborne, Red 7's pilots steered the hulking C-17 around turbulent rain
clouds as medical personnel tended to Powers in the naked, metallic cabin.
Tubes and wiring snaked the floor. Near the British Isles, a KC-135
Stratotanker leaving RAF Mildenhall joined Red 7's jet for a mid-Atlantic
refueling.
Over the Atlantic, it was Independence Day.

And as the C-17 rushed westward ahead of the rising sun, Nemeth helped the
medical crew tack American flags on the walls and catwalk.
The C-17 touched down lightly at Andrews after a 13-hour flight. Powers and
the other soldier were hurried to Bethesda. And members of Red 7, suffering
in Iraq's convection oven heat when they began their shift, stepped off the
C-17 into D.C.'s balmy summer. The next morning, they flew into Dover Air
Force Base, Del., picked up 17 pallets of cargo and headed back to Qatar.
"I've probably done two or three dozen medevacs in my career," Nemeth said.
"This one is probably the most significant, the most profound."

More surgery

At Bethesda, a neurosurgical team guided by Armonda coiled Powers' carotid
artery and performed a cranioplasty on his dented skull. Trudy Powers met
frequently with the surgeons, insisting each time on the raw truth.
"Don't think I can't handle it," she told them.

Initially, they feared Powers, still in critical condition, could wake up
with severe paralysis, brain damage and lost eyesight. But when the soldier
surfaced after four comatose days, a battery of tests proved the stabbing
had not robbed his intelligence or memory. Only his balance was badly
skewed.
"It was like a dream because of all the stuff they had me on," Powers said.
"A face came in and said, 'Do you know where you are?' I said, 'Are you
kidding me?' It was the best place I could possibly be. The president goes
there, all the chiefs and Congress."

Powers was released from Bethesda just a month later and allowed to return
to his house roughly 30 miles from Fort Bragg, N.C. After months of physical
therapy, physicians now believe his coordination is largely restored.
Pending the success of a follow-up skull repair in January, Powers hopes to
rejoin his unit as a squad leader before May.

"Certainly there have been bigger injuries, uglier, more devastating
injuries," Teff said. "What makes this unique is how huge the knife was, how
well neurologically he's doing and the drama involved in getting him back."

Back at Fort Bragg

The package's return address read "BALAD AIR BASE, IRAQ." Trudy Powers,
standing with her husband in their home, was tearful, trembling and
mortified by the contents she expected to find inside.
Out plopped a hunk of stainless steel resembling a flea market dagger.
"I didn't need to see that," she said.

Army judge advocate general prosecutors later asked if they could have it.
Powers didn't mind. Iraqi prosecutors wanted to present the 9-inch blade as
evidence during his attacker's trial in Baghdad, which admitted Powers'
testimony via teleconference. He's unsure of the man's fate, though he was
told the Iraqis planned to "lengthen his neck a little bit."

Powers acknowledges that his survival tale, circulating within the Air Force's
Air Mobility Command, is "the stuff they make movies out of." But the
soldier in him bristles at the notoriety - or the suggestion that he's some
kind of hero.

In his version of the story, the Army, Navy and Air Force moved the world to
save one man's life.
And he's just some guy who got stabbed in the brain.

http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/20...powers_071022/
26718  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: October 29, 2007, 07:08:11 PM
Soldier stabbed in the brain in East Baghdad

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

Troops unite to save soldier knifed in head

By Patrick Winn - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Oct 24, 2007 14:01:27 EDT


Courtesy of Lt. Col. (Dr.) Richard Teff / Army An X-ray revealed that the knife entered just below Army Sgt. Dan Powers' helmet, above his cheekbone. It also penetrated his cavernous sinus, where a bundle of veins supplied blood to his brain's right side.


It felt like a nasty sucker punch. Yet when he strained his eyes to the hard right, there was something that didn’t belong: the pewter-colored contour of a knife handle jutting from his skull.
Sgt. Dan Powers, stabbed in the head by an insurgent on the streets of East Baghdad, triggered a modern miracle of military medicine, logistics, technology and air power.

Multimedia

See video taken shortly after the attack, and watch interviews with Powers and a doctor who helped save his life


His survival relied on the Army’s top vascular neurosurgeon guiding Iraq-based U.S. military physicians via laptop, the Air Force’s third nonstop medical evacuation from Central Command to America, and the best physicians Bethesda National Naval Medical Center in Maryland could offer.

It required extraordinary hustle from a string of ground medics, air medics, C-17 pilots, jet refuel technicians and more. Not an hour after the attack, Powers, a squad leader with the Army’s 118th Military Police Company, was draped in sheets on a medical gurney bound for Balad Air Force Base, about 30 minutes away by helicopter.

Someone pressed a phone to his left ear so he could promise his wife, in a panic worlds away, that everything would be fine. He would soon drench a surgeon’s hands in blood, narrowly surviving as a medical team opened his skull to extract 4 inches of blade from his brain.
These are the staggering measures that allowed Powers to keep his promise and his life.

The attack

East Baghdad is a crumbling maze. Narrow lanes form stucco canyons that block out sunlight. A grimy film seems to blacken every surface: the facades, cobbled footpaths and street urchins’ faces. Lines of sight end at each bend in the street, and the windows overhead look down like hundreds of eyes.
“It’s just very slummy, with all these twisty alleyways,” said Powers, now 39. “It’s a nightmare to patrol.”

A 12-year Army vet on his second deployment to East Baghdad, Powers spent his days training local police and trying to keep peace in a fortified cityscape. Soldiers in his 13-man squad would cruise the city’s oldest quarter with Iraqi officers conducting street-level investigations and responding to gunfire or explosions.
Nothing was different July 3 — at least not at first.

Powers was dispatched from Forward Operating Base Shield to a stretch of bomb-charred road. Explosive ordnance disposal personnel were already huddled over a blast site near Beirut Square on one of the district’s wider thoroughfares. The explosion seemed minor — no flaming vehicles, at least — so Powers and a team leader, Sgt. Michael Riley, were mostly concerned with warding off pedestrians.

Powers was walking away from the cordoned area when it hit him — a near-knockout blow that felt like a “clothesline tackle,” he said. But Powers stayed on his feet, spun around and slammed his raven-haired assailant to the asphalt, prodding the skinny Iraqi man’s face with his M4 barrel. Riley, his squad mate, pounced and detained the assailant.

“I remember being pretty pissed off,” Powers recalled to Air Force Times. Adrenaline throbbed in his veins and blood soaked his shoulder. A medic, Spc. Ryan Webb with the 118th Military Police, was tugging at his arm, demanding that he “sit down, calm down and leave the knife in.”
The knife? What knife?
“They said, ‘You’re stabbed’ and ... I remember seeing the handle,” Powers said. “There was no pain because the brain has no pain sensory nerves. It was all surface, like someone punched me in the head.”

Powers stayed conscious as soldiers carried him to a Humvee, sped to Forward Operating Base Shield and, after medics bandaged his head in clumps of cottony gauze, shuttled the sergeant to Baghdad’s Green Zone.
Stabbings of American military personnel in Iraq or Afghanistan are extremely rare, outnumbered by drownings, strokes, cancer, drug overdoses and electrocutions. According to Defense Department casualty reports, Powers is only the second service member stabbed while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The hospital

They spoke through the roaring chukka-chukka of rotating chopper blades.
Moments before medics slid Powers into a helicopter en route to Balad, his wife, Trudy, was patched through on a cell phone. A soldier held it to Powers’ face as his gurney rolled across the Green Zone helipad.
“I was adamant they put him on the phone to prove he was alive,” Trudy Powers said. “He sounded like his regular old self. ‘I’ll be all right, hon. I’ll be all right.’”

Powers soon arrived at the Balad hospital, a cutting-edge facility rivaling many American treatment centers. One of Iraq’s few military neurosurgeons, Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Richard Teff, remembers Powers lying supine on a gurney, wide awake and speaking. Medical personnel crowded his stretcher, asking questions and filming his answers.
“His head was wrapped up with big, bulky bandages,” Teff said, “like the people transporting him were afraid the knife would get bumped or dislodge.”
It was less than two hours since the attack.

Balad’s head and neck team was accustomed to gory head wounds, skulls split by bullets and IED-borne shrapnel. But Powers’ injury “had to be the most amazing thing anyone in the room had ever seen,” Teff said. An X-ray revealed that the knife entered just below Powers’ helmet, above his cheekbone, “skating right along the base of the cavity we call the temporal fossa, where the temporal lobe of your brain lives,” Teff said. It also penetrated his cavernous sinus, where a bundle of veins supply blood to the brain’s right side.

After Powers was shaved and anesthetized, Teff and fellow neurosurgeon Army Maj. (Dr.) John Martin peeled back Powers’ scalp, skull and meninges — a pinkish layer coating the brain’s surface. Steel barbs resembling fish hooks held back walls of tissue the color of raw pork.

Teff and Martin hit a crossroads. They could riskily retract the brain to isolate and clamp the artery in his cavernous sinus. Or Teff could cross his fingers and pull.
“Any time you have a penetrating stab to the head,” he said, “the biggest concern is what’s going to happen when you pull [the knife] out.”
Teff pulled.
“He started bleeding like crazy, enough to make everyone in the room worry he might die,” Teff said.

The doctors scrambled to find the nicked carotid artery. Plastic air hoses sucked out pint after pint of hot blood. Finally, they clamped the artery and relief washed over the medical team as the bleeding stopped. Though Powers had lost about 2 liters of blood — roughly two-fifths of his body’s total volume — the most dangerous part of the operation was over.

Through personnel at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Teff relayed details and photos of Powers’ surgery to Lt. Col. Rocco Armonda, one the Army’s most skilled vascular neurosurgeons. There was no precedent for Powers’ condition in Iraq, and the head and neck team needed guidance.

Contacted in his vehicle, Armonda pulled over in Washington traffic, reviewed the images on his laptop and shot back a response: Close the guy up and get him to Bethesda. Now.

Evacuation

Capt. Corbett Bufton, an aircraft commander with the Charleston-based “Red 7” aircrew, was incredulous at first. Awaiting takeoff from Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, his airmen had expected to carry two Stryker anti-tank missile carriers to another airfield within Central Command — a job typical of their intratheater transportation role.

Continued........
26719  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: October 29, 2007, 06:53:30 PM
MY's latest email:

Greetings,
 
Many interesting developments in Iraq:  I am working hard to produce dispatches to convey the situation in the various locations where I've been traveling. I have numerous dispatches on the British and the situation down in Basra that will start going up as early as next week, but timing depends in part on the ground conditions here in south Baghdad.

 
 A new dispatch is published here.

I wrote an editorial piece for the New York Post that was published on Sunday. You can read it here.

I will publish the first foreign language translation soon.  Your support made that happen, and is very much appreciated. I am having difficulty sending thank you acknowledgements due to an ongoing glitch with PayPal that makes it impossible to download the logs. We're working to resolve this, because we want people to know their help is making a very real difference.
 
V/r,
 
Michael
26720  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 29, 2007, 06:32:21 PM
Normally I put Michael Yon reports on the Mil-blog/Michael Yon thread, but for reasons that will be obvious once you read it, I post this one here.  MY dishes it up very straight here-- the situation in Afg is fcuked.

http://michaelyon-online.com/wp/the-perfect-evil-coming-to-roost.htm

Note that there are two more parts to this report which can be found at this URL.
26721  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Australia on: October 29, 2007, 05:34:51 PM
Aussie Muslim leader: Jihadists will bomb Australia if relations don't Improve



Australia risks 'London-type bombing'

John Lyons | October 29, 2007
AUSTRALIA faces a "London-type bombing" if relations between Muslims and the intelligence and police authorities do not improve, an influential Islamic youth leader has warned.

Fadi Rahman, who runs one of Sydney's biggest youth centres at Lidcombe in the city's west, said overseas Islamic elements were attempting to radicalise Muslim youth with their hardline ideologies.

But in a warning that will resonate with Australian authorities, Mr Rahman said Muslims did not trust ASIO or the Australian Federal Police and that the bungled terror case against Gold Coast doctor Mohamed Haneef had worsened the situation. "The biggest problem ASIO and the federal police have is that no one in the Islamic community trusts them enough to give them a heads-up about anything," Mr Rahman told The Australian.

"Look at the Haneef thing - why would we trust these guys when all you see is one fumble after another? People are afraid."

Dr Haneef, an Indian national, was detained in July on suspicion of having played a role in the foiled terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow, but the case fell apart after a series of prosecution mistakes.

Mr Rahman said a battle for the hearts and minds of young Muslims was under way in Australia between influences from overseas wanting to radicalise youths and more moderate influences in Australia.

Mr Rahman said he believed he had been the target of a recruitment attempt but when he responded "defensively" those talking to him said they had merely been joking.

Asked about the anatomy of a recruitment, he said: "Most of the time they start at the local mosque in small groups - they move quickly into the garage, then people's homes. You get sucked in."

He said the typical recruiter was in their 40s or 50s, "from overseas, well-educated and tapping into young people's frustrations and anger".

"I think we are very similar to London," he said. "There are these individuals from overseas who are basically in their mid-life who have these ideologies and because of the animosity they have experienced in their own countries have deep hatred of the Western world. It's very easy to tap into the mind of someone who has a low education level, unemployment and who has basically given up on life.

"The right ingredients are there. We need to do something or what happened in London, a London-type bombing, will happen here."

The "something" includes programs to give opportunities to Muslim youth and a "less hostile" attitude by the federal Government. Mr Rahman said the Government was spending too much on campaigns directed at people who did not know what was going on - such as the Be Alert, Not Alarmed campaign - but not enough in communities such as southwestern Sydney, where about 250,000 Muslims live. "It's not like it will be John Smith on the north shore of Sydney who will have information, it will be Mohammed or Ahmed out here," he says.

Mr Rahman said he and Toufic Mallah, the man he brought into the youth centre to stress moderation, preached non-violence.

About 50 of the youths at the centre, which has about 460 members aged 10 to 35, are former criminals who have done time in jail. Mr Rahman said they could go "either way".

At the Independent Centre of Research Australia, he runs anger-management programs and has opened a prayer room run by Sheik Mallah. Sheik Mallah said the second chapter of the Koran stressed that "we have made a moderate nation".

He says non-Muslim Australians should approach their local sheiks if there was anything they did not understand or like about their local Muslim communities. "Come and speak to us," he said.

Mr Rahman brokered a deal with IBM last week under which the computer company will mentor 10 youths from the centre and offer three traineeships.

Mr Rahman said this sort of support gave the young people and their families and friends hope. In the aftermath of the Cronulla race riots in Sydney in 2005 there was progress between Muslim and non-Muslim communities, but since then "things have taken a nasty turn".

"The blame game" of all Muslims being blamed for terrorism "will only put people offside", he said.

"When the **** hits the fan we will all be covered with it. It's just a matter of time before someone says I've had enough. Unless something is done and attitudes change something will happen.

"We haven't learnt our lesson post-September 11, the Bali bombings, the Cronulla riots and the London bombings. There's deep-seated hatred on both sides. When young Muslims go into other areas they go in with force.

"I cop it from both ends - who do you please? Do you please your own community or the wider community? A lot of them are saying don't waste your time, you will never get anywhere with these people."

Mr Rahman said one of the biggest problems in the Lebanese community was that many of his generation, although they loved their parents, felt caught between two worlds.

Source: The Australian http://theaustralian.com.au/story/0,...95-601,00.html

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au...95-601,00.html
26722  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The French straddle the fence on: October 29, 2007, 02:06:46 PM

FRANCE, IRAN: French Defense Minister Herve Morin dismissed earlier comments by International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei, who said there is no evidence Iran is building nuclear weapons. Morin said France has conflicting evidence that matches information gathered by other countries. However, he added, "The prospect of a war is a prospect which does not exist for France."

stratfor

26723  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: October 29, 2007, 02:05:04 PM
RUSSIA, VENEZUELA: Weapons sales deals between Russia and Venezuela stand at $4 billion and likely will double or triple in the next few years, an official with Russian state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport said. The two countries are drafting deals for the sales of warships, warplanes, helicopter gunships and other weapons for the army, Interfax reported.

stratfor
26724  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: October 29, 2007, 01:03:22 PM
Torturing Mukasey
The judge becomes a pawn in the politics of interrogation.

Monday, October 29, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Just when you thought someone might be confirmed in Washington without a partisan fight, Senate Democrats are suggesting they may not approve Michael Mukasey as Attorney General after all. The judge's offense is that he's declined to declare "illegal" an interrogation technique in the war on terror that Congress itself has never specifically banned.

Last week, Democrats postponed a vote on his nomination. And all 10 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have sent Judge Mukasey a letter expressing alarm that he refused to repudiate "waterboarding" during his recent confirmation hearing. "I don't know what's involved in the technique. If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional," the judge had said. This seems fair enough, because both the Justice Department's legal opinions on interrogation and the specific CIA practices are classified. It would be irresponsible for Judge Mukasey to make any declarations about the law or practice until he knows the details.

That's not good enough for Democrats, who are under pressure from their antiwar left to keep pinning a phony "torture" rap on the Bush Administration. The letter from the Judiciary Democrats demands that Judge Mukasey declare himself on the legality of "waterboarding," with the clear implication that if he gives the wrong answer his nomination won't make it out of committee. These are the same Democrats who had declared, before he was nominated, that Judge Mukasey was exactly the sort of "consensus" choice they welcomed.





The irony here is that Congress has twice had the chance to ban waterboarding, or simulated drowning, but has twice declined to do so. In both the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Congress only barred "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment. While some Members have said they believe waterboarding is banned by that language, when given the chance to say so specifically in a statute and be accountable for it, they refused.
As usual, Congress wants it both ways. The Members want to denounce what they call "torture," but the last thing they want is to be responsible if some future detainee knows about an imminent terrorist attack but the CIA can't get the information because Congress barred certain kinds of interrogation. So they toss their non-specific language into the lap of the executive, and say "You figure it out."

Yet they still object because the Justice Department has since tried to interpret that language by providing some practical, specific guidelines to the CIA. According to several news reports, the CIA rarely uses waterboarding but believes it can be useful against the very hardest cases.





Senator John McCain all but acknowledged Congress's political dodge when he once said that, while he deplored aggressive interrogation, in extremis a President might have to approve it. And in that case, he added, the Commander in Chief has the power to absolve some Jack Bauer-type who did the dirty work. At least Mr. McCain is honest about the realities of the war on terror, in which surveillance and interrogation are two essential tools to prevent future attacks. But this also passes the buck from Congress to the executive, and CIA interrogators can be forgiven if they want more specific guidance lest they be interrogated themselves by the Monday-morning generals on the Judiciary Committee.
We hope Mr. Mukasey holds fast to his earlier answer. If he makes a declaration of illegality, he will be doing so without all the facts and will undermine the Office of Legal Counsel officials he may soon supervise at Justice. If he attempts the feint of saying that he is personally opposed to waterboarding or other aggressive techniques, he may get confirmed. But Congress will eventually ask if he's gone on to ban these techniques, which in any case is a Presidential decision. The judge will only be buying political trouble for himself later.

If Democrats want a 2008 debate over specific interrogation procedures, then by all means let's have it. And if they want to ban waterboarding, or for that matter any stressful interrogation, they can try to do so. But they shouldn't use a universally hailed Attorney General nominee as a political pawn to appease the antiwar left even as they refuse to say what kind of interrogation they do support.

WSJ
26725  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Seminar reviews on: October 29, 2007, 01:00:34 PM
Woof All: 

A fine time was had by all.  Dino & Ashley's wonderful Akita has awakened the Akita spirit in me, indeed I will be considering her litter when they get around to breeding her.  Good times over at Tiny's house watching the UFC.  I'm very glad to see that D&A will be bringing in Porn Star on a regular basis.

And I am very much looking foward to the joint seminar in April with Sonny Puzikas!

The Adventure continues!
Crafty Dog
26726  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: October 29, 2007, 11:04:28 AM
THE FOUNDATION: CONSTITUTIONAL INTERPRETATION
“They are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase not as describing the purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please which may be good for the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless.” —Thomas Jefferson

The following is from economist Walter Williams who while certainly not a Founding Father, equally certainly discusses a very pertinent matter:

GOVERNMENT
“In each new Congress since 1995, Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) has introduced the Enumerated Powers Act (HR 1359)... Simply put, if enacted, the Enumerated Powers Act would require Congress to specify the basis of authority in the U.S. Constitution for the enactment of laws and other congressional actions. HR 1359 has 28 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. When Shadegg introduced the Enumerated Powers Act, he explained that the Constitution gives the federal government great, but limited, powers. Its framers granted Congress, as the central mechanism for protecting liberty, specific rather than general powers. The Constitution gives Congress 18 specific enumerated powers, spelled out mostly in Article 1, Section 8. The framers reinforced that enumeration by the 10th Amendment, which reads: ‘The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved for the States respectively, or to the people.’ Just a few of the numerous statements by our founders demonstrate that their vision and the vision of Shadegg’s Enumerated Powers Act are one and the same... I salute the bravery of Rep. Shadegg and the 28 co-sponsors of the Enumerated Powers Act. They have a monumental struggle. Congress is not alone in its constitutional contempt, but is joined by the White House and particularly the constitutionally derelict U.S. Supreme Court.” —Walter Williams
26727  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: October 29, 2007, 11:01:19 AM
“Perpetual adolescence is not just a cultural drag, but also dangerous to our way of life... The leveling of adult authority over the past half century or so was accompanied by a leveling of cultural authority. This brought on the age of multiculturalism, a time when Western Civ (like the adult) no longer occupies its old pinnacle atop the hierarchy of cultures. The multiculti conception of equally valuable cultures (except for the West, which is deemed the pits) depends on a strenuous non-judgmentalism. This non-judgmentalism expresses itself in a self-censoring adherence to political correctness. Such non-judgmentalism, such PC self-censorship, is infantilizing because it requires us to suppress our faculties of analysis and judgment.” —Diana West
26728  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: October 29, 2007, 11:00:00 AM
A nice rhetorical flourish here, but perhaps it misses the point about the central role of Kurdish separatism in the mix?

---------

“If there is one idea that Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, share on how to fight the war on terror, it is that we need to reach out to and win the hearts and minds of the moderate, modern, peaceable, more secularist Muslims and empower them to defeat by both persuasion and other methods the radical, violent fundamentalists in their religion. That would be a very, very good idea. But consider the Turkish experience in the past six years. The Turks are the moderate, modern, peaceable, more secularist Muslims. Moreover our countries have been close allies for a half-century. And Turkey has had extensive friendly commercial relations with Israel. They are Turks, not Arabs, and are therefore less susceptible to the emotional plight of the West Bank Arabs under Israeli occupation. And yet we have lost the Turks almost as badly as we have lost the angriest fundamentalist Arab Muslims. If we can’t keep a fair share of their friendly attitude, how do we expect to win the much vaunted and awaited hearts and minds campaign?” —Tony Blankley
26729  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: October 29, 2007, 08:51:15 AM

The message below was sent to me by a member of ICCF, Johnstuf, and I am grateful to him for doing so. Apparently kids from all over the country have sent in their artwork to say thanks to America's finest. Xerox uses the picture you select, prints YOUR note on it and sends it to our women and men overseas.

Well, I not only checked out the link but sent one off myself. It's so easy even I was able to do it. Just so you know, as one of the selections you have the option of sending your own personalized message, I did.

Prior to sending, check out this page... From The Troops. These folk's really appreciate this and, in all honesty, it is the least we can do.
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Something cool that Xerox is doing

If you go to this web site, Let's Say Thanks you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq . You can't pick who gets it, but it will go to some member of the armed services.

How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone we know to send one!!! This is a great site. Please send a card. It is FREE and it only takes a second.

Whether you are for or against the war, our guys and gals over there need to know we are behind them...
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Hey, here's the link for AdoptaPlatoon. This is an all volunteer organization. There are many ways to help, look around the site and see what works best for you.

My family and I "adopted two Soldiers at the end of the Iraq War, thank God they both made it home OK. We sent many needed items to them as well as little luxuries. Kool-Aid, Chapstick, and sun-screen were very popular then.

BTW, boxes are free from the USPS and we tried to send a little extra as all GI's have Buddies...

I just signed up again...going the pen-pal route this time. Perhaps there's some other old guy who needs a Buddy... Grin
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I have two more worthy additions so you can choose how you want to help our service personnel. These I got from MedSpec65 over at the Packing 4 Life forum.

The first is an organization that assists the families of our troops here at home; the V.F.W. Unmet Needs Program. According to their site 100% of your donation goes to the families, now that's how to run a charitable organization folks. Oh, by the way, "The Gunny", R. Lee Ermy donates his time and money to this cause.

The second one is Any Soldier. This should also read "any service member" as you can link to any of the five armed services via the site. This is a rather interesting organization started by an Army family whose son, an airborne vet and multiple deployee, would give packages his Ma and Dad sent to others in his outfit. Basically, Any Soldier works the same way. You send a package to a designated service member, who is a volunteer, and that person gives the package to another service member that receives little or NO mail. The FAQ section explains it all people.

Well there you have it, four organizations and multiple ways to assist the men, women, and their families who are doing one hell of a job for us.

Please do what you can and don't hesitate to tell your friends, co-workers, schools and churches about the most excellent organizations.

Thank You All.
__________________
Take Care and Stay Safe,
Ken

NRA Member
Administrator Integrated Close Combat Forum
26730  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 29, 2007, 08:07:13 AM
The Middle East War thread today has analysis on the Kurds, US, and Turkey.  This NY Times piece focuses on the Kurds.
=======

By SABRINA TAVERNISE
Published: October 29, 2007
RANIYA, Iraq, Oct. 27 — A low-slung concrete building off a steep mountain road marks the beginning of rebel territory in this remote corner of northern Iraq. The fighters based here, Kurdish militants fighting Turkey, fly their own flag, and despite urgent international calls to curb them, they operate freely, receiving supplies in beat-up pickup trucks less than 10 miles from a government checkpoint.

Skip to next paragraph
 
The New York Times

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Hiding in Rugged Terrain
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Turkey Attacks Kurdish Rebel Positions (October 29, 2007)
Petraeus Says U.S. Seeking Calm in North (October 29, 2007) “Our condition is good,” said one fighter, putting a heaping spoonful of sugar into his steaming tea. “How about yours?” A giant face of the rebels’ leader — Abdullah Ocalan, now in a Turkish prison — has been painted on a nearby slope.

The rebel group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., is at the center of a crisis between Turkey and Iraq that began when the group’s fighters killed 12 Turkish soldiers on Oct. 21, prompting Turkey, a NATO member, to threaten an invasion.

But the P.K.K. continues to operate casually here, in full view of Iraqi authorities. The P.K.K.’s impunity is rooted in the complex web of relationships and ambitions that began with the American-led invasion of Iraq more than four years ago, and has frustrated others with an interest in resolving the crisis — the Turks, Iraqis and the Bush administration.

The United States responded to the P.K.K. raid by putting intense pressure on Iraq’s Kurdish leaders who control the northern area where the rebels hide, with a senior State Department official delivering a rare rebuke last week over their “lack of action” in curbing the P.K.K.

But even with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice scheduled to visit Istanbul this week, Kurdish political leaders seemed in no hurry to act.

An all-out battle is out of the question, they argue, because the rugged terrain makes it impossible to dislodge them.

“Closing the camps means war and fighting,” said Azad Jindyany, a senior Kurdish official in Sulaimaniya, a regional capital. “We don’t have the army to do that. We did it in the past, and we failed.”

But even logistical flows remain uninterrupted, despite the fact that Iraqi Kurdish leaders have some of the most precise and extensive intelligence networks in the country. As the war has worsened, the United States has come to depend increasingly on the Kurds as partners in running Iraq and as overseers of the one part of the country where some of their original aspirations are actually being met.

Iraqi Kurdish officials, for their part, appear to be politely ignoring American calls for action, saying the only serious solution is political, not military. They have taken their own path, allowing the guerrillas to exist on their territory, while at the same time quietly trying to persuade them to stop attacks.

“They have allowed the P.K.K. to be up there,” said Mark Parris, a former American ambassador to Turkey who is now at the Brookings Institution. “That couldn’t have happened without their permitting them to be there. That’s their turf. It’s as simple as that.”

The situation poses a puzzle to the United States, which badly wants to avert a new front in the war, but finds itself forced to choose between two trusted allies — Turkey, a NATO member whose territory is the transit area for most of its air cargo to Iraq, and the Kurds, their closest partners in Iraq.

The United States “is like a man with two wives,” said one Iraqi Kurd in Sulaimaniya. “They quarrel, but he doesn’t want to lose either of them.”

Kurds are one of the world’s largest ethnic groups without a state, numbering more than 25 million, spread across Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria.

Most live in Turkey, which has curtailed their rights, fearing secession. The P.K.K. wants an autonomous Kurdish area in eastern Turkey, and has repeatedly attacked the Turkish military, and sometimes the civilian population, since the 1980s, in a conflict that has left more than 30,000 dead.

In this small town a short drive from the edge of rebel territory, and in Sulaimaniya, 55 miles to the south, it is business as usual. A political party affiliated with the rebel group is open and holding meetings. Pickup trucks zip in and out of the group’s territory, and a government checkpoint a short drive away from the area acts as a friendly tour guide. Its soldiers said they had waved through eight cars of journalists on one day last week.

Mala Bakhtyar, a senior member in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the party that governs this northeastern region, said there had been no explicit orders from Baghdad to limit the P.K.K., and scoffed at last week’s statement by the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, that Iraq would close the P.K.K.’s offices, saying they had already been shut long ago.

“They are guests, but they are making their living by themselves,” Mr. Bakhtyar said. “We don’t support them.”

He added: “We don’t agree with them. We don’t like to make a fight with Turkey.”

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Fayeq Mohamed Goppy, a leader in the Kurdistan Democratic Solution Party, an offshoot of the P.K.K. that still operates freely, argues that Iraqi Kurdish leaders are only paying lip service to wanting the P.K.K. to leave. In reality, the politicians want the separatists around as protection against Sunni Arab extremists, who most Iraqi Kurds believe will move in if the P.K.K. leaves the mountains.

Skip to next paragraph
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Hiding in Rugged Terrain
Related
Turkey Attacks Kurdish Rebel Positions (October 29, 2007)
Petraeus Says U.S. Seeking Calm in North (October 29, 2007) Noshirwan Mustafa, a prominent Kurdish leader, said the area was as impenetrable as the mountains in Pakistan where leaders of Al Qaeda and the Taliban are thought to be hiding. “For me, the P.K.K. is better than the Taliban,” he said.

Local Kurdish authorities have asked Mr. Goppy to keep a low profile, including canceling a planned conference in Erbil, he said, but otherwise have not limited his activities.

“They really don’t want P.K.K. to go,” he said in an interview in his home in Sulaimaniya. If the group is eliminated, the Iraqi Kurdish area “is a really small piece for eating, very easy to swallow.”

Mr. Parris argues that the Kurdish leader of northern Iraq, Massoud Barzani, ever astute, is holding onto the P.K.K. as a future bargaining chip with Turkey, and will not use it until he absolutely has to.

“The single most important piece of negotiating capital may very well be his ability to take care of the P.K.K.,” he said.

Mr. Jindyany said local authorities would be happy to get rid of them if they could, calling the situation a sword of Damocles for Iraqi Kurds.

Throughout its history in northern Iraq, which dates back to the early 1980s, under an agreement with Mr. Barzani, the P.K.K. has had contentious relations with Iraqi Kurdish leaders. It fought in their civil wars, against Mr. Barzani in 1997, and three years later, against Jalal Talabani, a powerful Kurd who is now the president of Iraq.

But since the American invasion in 2003, the political landscape has changed. Iraqi Kurds, emboldened by their secure position, have stopped fighting each other and turned their attentions to other threats like Turkey, a state that has long oppressed its Kurdish population, and Islamic extremism from Baghdad.

This area of northern Iraq, which Iraqis call Kurdistan, in some ways eclipsed the P.K.K.’s struggle for an autonomous Kurdish area, Iraqi Kurds said.

“They were jealous of our autonomy,” said Goran Kader, a Communist Party leader in Sulaimaniya. “They wanted to do the same thing in Turkey.”

At the same time, the P.K.K. was reorganizing, after its leader, Mr. Ocalan, was captured in 1999, and a skilled group of military commanders took over day-to-day operations, said Aliza Marcus, the author of “Blood and Belief: The P.K.K. and the Kurdish Fight for Independence.”

The commanders were intent on military escalation, she said, and stepped up attacks, under Mr. Ocalan’s jailhouse orders, in part to remain relevant.

“They don’t want to be sidelined,” Ms. Marcus said. “That’s really what’s driven them since 2004,” when attacks resumed after a five-year cease-fire. “They want to say, ‘Turkish Kurds are important too — don’t think the Kurdish problem has been solved.’ ”

The ambush of Turkish soldiers on Oct. 21, which took place just a few miles from the Iraqi border, served the purpose perfectly.

Public sympathy in Raniya and Sulaimaniya is enormous, and the fighters procure supplies and health care here with ease. Fighters do not go to hospitals, for fear of standing out — the ones from Turkey speak a different Kurdish dialect — but are treated in doctors’ homes, said one former fighter, an Iraqi Kurd who was recruited at age 14.

“Their organization is everywhere,” said the fighter, who now works as a police officer for the main political party, after surrendering to local authorities in 2003. “Their members are everywhere.”

To Iraqi Kurds, Turkey’s approach is pure politics. There is no military solution to the problem of the P.K.K., they say, because the terrain would never permit victory, and Turkey’s leaders know that.

The solution, Mr. Mustafa argued, lies with moderates in Turkey, who must push for an amnesty for the rebels. Militant Kurds, for their part, should take advantage of the political opening in Turkey — 20 Kurdish deputies are now serving in Parliament there.

“When you have the door to the Parliament open, why are you going to the caves?” he said.

To that aim, talks were held with intermediaries for the P.K.K., Mr. Bakhtyar said. Since then, the rebels have not attacked, and officials and security analysts say that if the quiet holds until Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meets with Ms. Rice on Friday and with President Bush three days later, he might not be pressured into military action.

“Soon there will be snow,” Mr. Kader said. “The roads will be blocked. That will be that until next year.”
26731  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 29, 2007, 07:53:12 AM
'Fairness' Is Foul
Liberals vs. the First Amendment.

Monday, October 29, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

It wasn't that hard for Indiana's Rep. Mike Pence to build media and congressional support for his Free Flow of Information Act, which would protect the confidentiality of contacts between reporters and sources. It passed the House this month by an overwhelming vote of 398-21. His next battle will be a lot harder--to permanently ban the Fairness Doctrine, the regulation many liberals are now actively trying to revive in an effort to silence their critics.

Until the FCC scrapped the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, it required broadcasters to provide equal time to all sides of "controversial" issues. In practice, this led to what Bill Monroe, a former host of NBC's "Meet the Press," called "timid, don't-rock-the-boat coverage." On radio, Newsweek's Howard Fineman notes, it "effectively kept partisan shows off the airwaves," so that in 1980 there were a mere 75 talk radio stations. Today there are 1,800.

But the Fairness Doctrine has always had fans in the corridors of power because it gave incumbents a way of muzzling their opponents. The Kennedy administration used it as a political weapon. Bill Ruder, Kennedy's assistant secretary of commerce, explained: "Our strategy was to use the Fairness Doctrine to challenge and harass right-wing broadcasters and hope that the challenges would be so costly to them that they would be inhibited and decide it was too expensive to continue." The Nixon administration similarly used the doctrine to torment left-wing broadcasters.

Democrats who have become "Fairness" mongers insist they simply want to restore civility and balance to the airwaves. Al Gore, in a typically overheated speech last year bemoaned "the destruction of [the] marketplace of ideas" which he blamed in part on the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, after which "Rush Limbaugh and other hate-mongers began to fill the airwaves."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein rails against "one-sided programming" that has pushed the American people into "extreme views without a lot of information." She thinks Americans deserve to know "both sides of the story." Isn't it enough that National Public Radio, subsidized by the government, serves as a vehicle for liberal voices in just about every community in the country?

True, commercial radio is dominated by conservatives, but perhaps that's because liberal arguments in their full-throated glory just haven't sold as well. Air America, the liberal talk radio network that debuted in 2004, is in perpetual financial trouble. Then there's the GreenStone talk radio network started last year by feminists Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem. It offered cutting-edge liberal thinking pitched to a female audience--and flopped completely.





Rep. Pence says he knows all about the power of talk radio because he used to host a statewide show in Indiana, where he describes himself as "the decaf Rush Limbaugh." He believes the Fairness Doctrine would "amount to government control over political views expressed on the public airwaves." In June his first effort to impose a one-year moratorium on any revival of the Fairness Doctrine by the FCC passed, 309-115, with nearly half of House Democrats voting in favor.
But a one-year moratorium was an easy vote, because there is no reason to expect the Fairness Doctrine to make a comeback before 2009, when a new president--perhaps a Democrat--appoints a majority of FCC commissioners.

That's why Mr. Pence is proposing the Broadcaster Freedom Act, a bill that would permanently bury the Fairness Doctrine. Because House Democratic leaders are unlikely to allow it to come to the floor for a vote, Mr. Pence has launched a "discharge petition," a device to bypass House committees and move the bill directly to the floor. He needs 218 members--a House majority--to sign the petition. He has collected 185 signatures, but all from Republicans. Democrats are being told by their leadership that signing such a petition would undermine their control of the House.

Mr. Pence, says that "freedom should not be a partisan issue" and that he is optimistic that he can collect the signature of every Republican and then pluck off some 20 of the Democrats who voted for his one-year moratorium last summer (he'd need at least 18).

The stakes are high. "Lovers of liberty must expose calls to restore the Fairness Doctrine for the fraudulent power-grab that they plainly are," writes Brian Anderson, editor of the Manhattan Institute's City Journal.

That's because the attempts to control the airwaves won't stop with so-called equal time rules. Al Franken, the liberal former Air America host who is now running for the Senate in Minnesota, is already slipping into the role of potential legislative censor of his old industry. "You shouldn't be able to lie on the air," he told Newsweek's Mr. Fineman earlier this year. "You can't utter obscenities in a broadcast, so why should you be able to lie? You should be fined for lying."

In fact, you can be "fined" for lying, if the person you lie about successfully sues for defamation. But the First Amendment makes it exceedingly difficult for defamation plaintiffs to prevail, especially if they are public figures--and for good reason. Under a more pro-plaintiff legal regime, "the pall of fear and timidity imposed upon those who would give voice to public criticism is an atmosphere in which the First Amendment freedoms cannot survive," Justice William Brennan wrote in New York Times v. Sullivan (1964).

Justice Brennan used to be a liberal hero. If he were alive today, he would surely be dismayed to learn that liberals seem to have concluded they have no use for the First Amendment.

WSJ
26732  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Kurdish Bind on: October 29, 2007, 07:47:32 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Washington's Kurdish Bind

Turkish forces have not yet moved into Iraq. Despite claims of continued clashes with Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) guerrillas inside of Turkey, the important news is what hasn't happened: There has been no major incursion of Turkish troops into Iraq's Kurdish region. We suspect that the pause is in response to U.S. requests for more time to address the PKK issue with the Iraqi government.

However, Ankara on Sunday sent Washington a deliberate signal about the consequences of not producing a solution acceptable to Turkey: Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan visited Tehran for meetings with his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki. In addition, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad phoned Turkish President Abdullah Gul to discuss the crisis.

Iranian-Turkish relations can best be described as "proper" -- meaning they are not particularly warm, nor are they as venomous as U.S.-Iranian relations. However, the Kurdish question is one on which Turkey and Iran have historically agreed -- and while not quite as critical to Iran as it is to Turkey, it is a major national security issue for both. In talking to the Iranians on multiple levels this weekend, the Turks were hinting to the Americans just how bad the situation could become. Any alignment of Turkey and Iran, on any level, would strike at the heart of U.S. strategy in the region, which is focused on the containment of Iran.

The Americans are caught in a bind. Since 1991, the United States has defended Kurdish interests inside of Iraq, carefully walking a tightrope with Turkey on the issue. If the United States were to back off its defense of the Kurds now, it would throw its entire Iraq strategy into chaos. It is more than just a question of the Kurdish role in the Iraqi government. If the United States went so far as to abandon the Kurds in favor of maintaining good relations with Turkey, the signal to all groups in Iraq would be that American guarantees will last only until other U.S. interests take precedence. Many in Iraq have been making that argument anyway, but a shift in U.S. support for the Kurds would confirm it. The Sunnis and Shia who have been considering alignment with the United States would certainly have to reconsider their position.

On the other hand, if Washington simply backs up the Kurds, the Turks are apparently prepared to reconsider not only their relations with the United States, but also their relations with the Iranians. To say that this would be a regional earthquake understates the matter.

Thus, the United States has to figure out a way to finesse the issue, getting the Kurds in Iraq not only to clamp down on the PKK, but also to turn over some of their members. However, clamping down is one thing; turning over leaders and members of the PKK to the Turks is quite another, and would pose huge political problems for the Kurds in Iraq. While factionalized, the Kurds still comprise a single ethnic group, and turning over PKK members who have conducted attacks on behalf of Kurdish independence will go deeply against the grain of the community. In fact, their very fragmentation decreases their propensity to turn each other in: Whoever did it might be regarded as a traitor to the Kurdish cause.

Turkey is trying to give the United States time to sort this out, but the Turks themselves don't have a lot of time. Public feelings in Turkey about PKK attacks are running high. There is also a sense that the United States is indebted to Turkey for permitting about 70 percent of the supplies used by U.S. forces in Iraq to flow through Turkish ports and over Turkish roads -- in spite of Turkey's opposition to the U.S. invasion. If Washington won't deliver the PKK but instead sides with the Kurds, the popular pressure on the Turkish government to shift its position regarding the United States will be enormous.

If you've ever wondered what it looks like between a rock and a hard place, ask the Bush administration. That's where it is on this issue. The United States can't threaten the Kurds too much without losing credibility with other parties it is wooing in Iraq; the Kurds can't simply turn over other Kurds to the Turks; and the Turks can't settle for anything less.

At the moment, the Iranians are doing everything they can to look statesmanlike. A situation that makes Ahmadinejad look like a calm and deliberate statesman -- that is what the space between a rock and a hard place looks like.

stratfor
26733  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 29, 2007, 12:01:49 AM
Are the American people up to this and its aftermath?
26734  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Chess on: October 28, 2007, 10:05:47 AM
Woof Buzz:

That is exactly what I needed, thank you.

I have no idea what my ranking would be, but I did beat a seminar host who was a 1600  evil

Yip!
CD
26735  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Does anyone know what Knife Boxing is? on: October 28, 2007, 09:52:13 AM
IIRC the late and highly respected Guro Teddy Lucay (son of Lucky Lucay) used this term and did a video with this name.
26736  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: October 28, 2007, 09:50:22 AM
I was a judge at UFC 10-- the night Frye lost his title to Mark Coleman.   It was still a tournament back then and in an earlier fight Frye was on top and really thumping his opponent.  I was close enough to hear him say "You don't have to keep on" (meaning taking this beating) and the other man answered "Yes I do" and the fight continued.
26737  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: October 27, 2007, 01:15:31 PM
http://www.policeone.com/writers/col...icles/1243754/



New findings on how offenders train with, carry and deploy the weapons they use to attack police officers have emerged in a just-published, 5-year study by the FBI.
Among other things, the data reveal that most would-be cop killers:
--show signs of being armed that officers miss;
--have more experience using deadly force in “street combat” than their intended victims;
--practice with firearms more often and shoot more accurately;
--have no hesitation whatsoever about pulling the trigger. “If you hesitate,” one told the study’s researchers, “you’re dead. You have the instinct or you don’t. If you don’t, you’re in trouble on the street….”
These and other weapons-related findings comprise one chapter in a 180-page research summary called “Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers.” The study is the third in a series of long investigations into fatal and nonfatal attacks on POs by the FBI team of Dr. Anthony Pinizzotto, clinical forensic psychologist, and Ed Davis, criminal investigative instructor, both with the Bureau’s Behavioral Science Unit, and Charles Miller III, coordinator of the LEOs Killed and Assaulted program.
“Violent Encounters” also reports in detail on the personal characteristics of attacked officers and their assaulters, the role of perception in life-threatening confrontations, the myths of memory that can hamper OIS investigations, the suicide-by-cop phenomenon, current training issues, and other matters relevant to officer survival. (Force Science News and our strategic partner PoliceOne.com will be reporting on more findings from this landmark study in future transmissions.)
Commenting on the broad-based study, Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato, called it “very challenging and insightful--important work that only a handful of gifted and experienced researchers could accomplish.”
From a pool of more than 800 incidents, the researchers selected 40, involving 43 offenders (13 of them admitted gangbangers-drug traffickers) and 50 officers, for in-depth exploration. They visited crime scenes and extensively interviewed surviving officers and attackers alike, most of the latter in prison. Here are highlights of what they learned about weapon selection, familiarity, transport and use by criminals attempting to murder cops, a small portion of the overall research:

Weapon Choice
Predominately handguns were used in the assaults on officers and all but one were obtained illegally, usually in street transactions or in thefts. In contrast to media myth, none of the firearms in the study was obtained from gun shows. What was available “was the overriding factor in weapon choice,” the report says. Only 1 offender hand-picked a particular gun “because he felt it would do the most damage to a human being.”
Researcher Davis, in a presentation and discussion for the International Assn. of Chiefs of Police, noted that none of the attackers interviewed was “hindered by any law--federal, state or local--that has ever been established to prevent gun ownership. They just laughed at gun laws.”
Familiarity
Several of the offenders began regularly to carry weapons when they were 9 to 12 years old, although the average age was 17 when they first started packing “most of the time.” Gang members especially started young.
Nearly 40% of the offenders had some type of formal firearms training, primarily from the military. More than 80% “regularly practiced with handguns, averaging 23 practice sessions a year,” the study reports, usually in informal settings like trash dumps, rural woods, back yards and “street corners in known drug-trafficking areas.”
One spoke of being motivated to improve his gun skills by his belief that officers “go to the range two, three times a week [and] practice arms so they can hit anything.”
In reality, victim officers in the study averaged just 14 hours of sidearm training and 2.5 qualifications per year. Only 6 of the 50 officers reported practicing regularly with handguns apart from what their department required, and that was mostly in competitive shooting. Overall, the offenders practiced more often than the officers they assaulted, and this “may have helped increase [their] marksmanship skills,” the study says.
The offender quoted above about his practice motivation, for example, fired 12 rounds at an officer, striking him 3 times. The officer fired 7 rounds, all misses.
More than 40% of the offenders had been involved in actual shooting confrontations before they feloniously assaulted an officer. Ten of these “street combat veterans,” all from “inner-city, drug-trafficking environments,” had taken part in 5 or more “criminal firefight experiences” in their lifetime.
One reported that he was 14 when he was first shot on the street, “about 18 before a cop shot me.” Another said getting shot was a pivotal experience “because I made up my mind no one was gonna shoot me again.”
Again in contrast, only 8 of the 50 LEO victims had participated in a prior shooting; 1 had been involved in 2 previously, another in 3. Seven of the 8 had killed offenders.
Concealment
The offenders said they most often hid guns on their person in the front waistband, with the groin area and the small of the back nearly tied for second place. Some occasionally gave their weapons to another person to carry, “most often a female companion.” None regularly used a holster, and about 40% at least sometimes carried a backup weapon.
In motor vehicles, they most often kept their firearm readily available on their person, or, less often, under the seat. In residences, most stashed their weapon under a pillow, on a nightstand, under the mattress--somewhere within immediate reach while in bed.
Almost all carried when on the move and strong majorities did so when socializing, committing crimes or being at home. About one-third brought weapons with them to work. Interestingly, the offenders in this study more commonly admitted having guns under all these circumstances than did offenders interviewed in the researchers’ earlier 2 surveys, conducted in the 1980s and ’90s.
According to Davis, “Male offenders said time and time again that female officers tend to search them more thoroughly than male officers. In prison, most of the offenders were more afraid to carry contraband or weapons when a female CO was on duty.”
On the street, however, both male and female officers too often regard female subjects “as less of a threat, assuming that they not going to have a gun,” Davis said. In truth, the researchers concluded that more female offenders are armed today than 20 years ago--“not just female gang associates, but female offenders generally.”
Shooting Style
Twenty-six of the offenders [about 60%], including all of the street combat veterans, “claimed to be instinctive shooters, pointing and firing the weapon without consciously aligning the sights,” the study says.
“They practice getting the gun out and using it,” Davis explained. “They shoot for effect.” Or as one of the offenders put it: “[W]e’re not working with no marksmanship….We just putting it in your direction, you know….It don’t matter…as long as it’s gonna hit you…if it’s up at your head or your chest, down at your legs, whatever….Once I squeeze and you fall, then…if I want to execute you, then I could go from there.”
Hit Rate
More often than the officers they attacked, offenders delivered at least some rounds on target in their encounters. Nearly 70% of assailants were successful in that regard with handguns, compared to about 40% of the victim officers, the study found. (Efforts of offenders and officers to get on target were considered successful if any rounds struck, regardless of the number fired.)
Davis speculated that the offenders might have had an advantage because in all but 3 cases they fired first, usually catching the officer by surprise. Indeed, the report points out, “10 of the total victim officers had been wounded [and thus impaired] before they returned gunfire at their attackers.”
Missed Cues
Officers would less likely be caught off guard by attackers if they were more observant of indicators of concealed weapons, the study concludes. These particularly include manners of dress, ways of moving and unconscious gestures often related to carrying.
“Officers should look for unnatural protrusions or bulges in the waist, back and crotch areas,” the study says, and watch for “shirts that appear rippled or wavy on one side of the body while the fabric on the other side appears smooth.” In warm weather, multilayered clothing inappropriate to the temperature may be a giveaway. On cold or rainy days, a subject’s jacket hood may not be covering his head because it is being used to conceal a handgun.
Because they eschew holsters, offenders reported frequently touching a concealed gun with hands or arms “to assure themselves that it is still hidden, secure and accessible” and hasn’t shifted. Such gestures are especially noticeable “whenever individuals change body positions, such as standing, sitting or exiting a vehicle.” If they run, they may need to keep a constant grip on a hidden gun to control it.
Just as cops generally blade their body to make their sidearm less accessible, armed criminals “do the same in encounters with LEOs to ensure concealment and easy access.”
An irony, Davis noted, is that officers who are assigned to look for concealed weapons, while working off-duty security at night clubs for instance, are often highly proficient at detecting them. “But then when they go back to the street without that specific assignment, they seem to ‘turn off’ that skill,” and thus are startled--sometimes fatally--when a suspect suddenly produces a weapon and attacks.
Mind-set
Thirty-six of the 50 officers in the study had “experienced hazardous situations where they had the legal authority” to use deadly force “but chose not to shoot.” They averaged 4 such prior incidents before the encounters that the researchers investigated. “It appeared clear that none of these officers were willing to use deadly force against an offender if other options were available,” the researchers concluded.
The offenders were of a different mind-set entirely. In fact, Davis said the study team “did not realize how cold blooded the younger generation of offender is. They have been exposed to killing after killing, they fully expect to get killed and they don’t hesitate to shoot anybody, including a police officer. They can go from riding down the street saying what a beautiful day it is to killing in the next instant.”
“Offenders typically displayed no moral or ethical restraints in using firearms,” the report states. “In fact, the street combat veterans survived by developing a shoot-first mentality.
“Officers never can assume that a criminal is unarmed until they have thoroughly searched the person and the surroundings themselves.” Nor, in the interest of personal safety, can officers “let their guards down in any type of law enforcement situation.” NOTE: For new findings from the FBI researchers about highly dangerous suicide-by-cop confrontations, read the exclusive 2-part report by Force Science Research Center board member Chuck Remsberg here.
26738  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Chess on: October 27, 2007, 11:33:51 AM
A question:

My son got me into a position where none of my remaining pieces could move and the king could not move without putting himself into check.

What happens?

Does he win or is this a stalemate?
26739  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: When you don't feel like fighting... on: October 27, 2007, 10:55:51 AM
Yes-- looking forward to seeing you there.
26740  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: October 27, 2007, 10:07:14 AM
This from today's NY Times.  One wishes that the anthros had a different point of view, but , , , there it is.
============================

Op-Ed Contributor
A True Culture War
NY Times
By RICHARD A. SHWEDER
Published: October 27, 2007
Chicago

IS the Pentagon truly going to deploy an army of cultural relativists to Muslim nations in an effort to make the world a safer place?

A few weeks ago this newspaper reported on an experimental Pentagon “human terrain” program to embed anthropologists in combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan. It featured two military anthropologists: Tracy (last name withheld), a cultural translator viewed by American paratroopers as “a crucial new weapon” in counterinsurgency; and Montgomery McFate, who has taken her Yale doctorate into active duty in a media blitz to convince skeptical colleagues that the occupying forces should know more about the local cultural scene.

How have members of the anthropological profession reacted to the Pentagon’s new inclusion agenda? A group calling itself the Network of Concerned Anthropologists has called for a boycott and asked faculty members and students around the country to pledge not to contribute to counterinsurgency efforts. Their logic is clear: America is engaged in a brutal war of occupation; if you don’t support the mission then you shouldn’t support the troops. Understandably these concerned scholars don’t want to make it easier for the American military to conquer or pacify people who once trusted anthropologists. Nevertheless, I believe the pledge campaign is a way of shooting oneself in the foot.

Part of my thinking stems from an interview with Ms. McFate on NPR’s “Diane Rehm Show” to which I tried to listen with an open mind. My first reaction was to feel let down. It turns out that the anthropologists are not really doing anthropology at all, but are basically hired as military tour guides to help counterinsurgency forces accomplish various nonlethal missions.

These anthropological “angels on the shoulder,” as Ms. McFate put it, offer global positioning advice as soldiers move through poorly understood human terrain — telling them when not to cross their legs at meetings, how to show respect to leaders, how to arrange a party. They use their degrees in cultural anthropology to play the part of Emily Post.

More worrisome, it was revealed that Tracy, the mystery anthropologist, wears a military uniform and carries a gun during her cultural sensitivity missions. This brought to my increasingly skeptical mind the unfortunate image of an angelic anthropologist perched on the shoulder of a member of an American counterinsurgency unit who is kicking in the door of someone’s home in Iraq, while exclaiming, “Hi, we’re here from the government; we’re here to understand you.”

Nevertheless the military voices on the show had their winning moments, sounding like old-fashioned relativists, whose basic mission in life was to counter ethnocentrism and disarm those possessed by a strident sense of group superiority. Ms. McFate stressed her success at getting American soldiers to stop making moral judgments about a local Afghan cultural practice in which older men go off with younger boys on “love Thursdays” and do some “hanky-panky.” “Stop imposing your values on others,” was the message for the American soldiers. She was way beyond “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and I found it heartwarming.

I began to imagine an occupying army of moral relativists, enforcing the peace by drawing a lesson from the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans lasted a much longer time than the British Empire in part because they had a brilliant counterinsurgency strategy. They did not try to impose their values on others. Instead, they made room — their famous “millet system” — for cultural pluralism, leaving each ethnic and religious group to control its own territory and at liberty to carry forward its distinctive way of life.

When the American Anthropological Association holds its annual convention in November in Washington, I expect it to become a forum for heated expression of political and moral opposition to the war, to the Bush administration, to capitalism, to neo-colonialism, and to the corrupting influence of the Pentagon and the C.I.A. on professional ethics.

Nevertheless I think it is a mistake to support a profession-wide military boycott or a public counter-counterinsurgency loyalty oath. And I think it would be unwise for the American Anthropological Association to do so at this time.

The real issue for academic anthropologists is not whether the military should know more rather than less about other ways of life — of course it should know more. The real issue is how our profession is going to begin to play a far more significant educational role in the formulation of foreign policy, in the hope that anthropologists won’t have to answer some patriotic call late in a sad day to become an armed angel riding the shoulder of a misguided American warrior.

Richard A. Shweder, an anthropologist and professor of comparative human development at the University of Chicago, is the author of “Thinking Through Cultures.”

26741  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: November 18, 2007 Dog Bros Gathering of the Pack on: October 27, 2007, 09:55:41 AM
Not to worry.  We just got the complete invitation with the address out only a few days ago.
26742  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / New football helmet on: October 27, 2007, 09:54:05 AM

New Helmet Design Absorbs Shock in a New Way
NY Times
By ALAN SCHWARZ
Published: October 27, 2007

Vin Ferrara, a former Harvard quarterback, was looking for an aspirin in his medicine cabinet when his eyes fixed upon a ribbed plastic bottle used to squirt saline into sinuses. Ferrara squeezed the bottle, then pounded on it — finding that it cushioned soft and hard blows with equal aplomb, almost intelligence.  “This is it,” Ferrara declared. Three years later, Ferrara’s squirt bottle has led to a promising new technology to protect football players from concussions.

Football helmets have evolved over more than a century from crude leather bonnets to face-masked, polycarbonate battering rams. But they still often fail to protect brains from the sudden forces that cause concussions. Studies have found that 10 to 50 percent of high school players each season sustain concussions, whose effects can range from persistent memory problems and depression to coma and death.

Contemporary helmet manufacturers have made a point of improving protection against concussions. But experts suspect that Ferrara, who sustained several concussions as a player himself, has developed a radically effective design.

Rather than being lined with rows of traditional foam or urethane, Ferrara’s helmet features 18 black, thermoplastic shock absorbers filled with air that — not unlike his squirt bottle — can accept a wide range of forces and still moderate the sudden jarring of the head that causes concussion. Moreover, laboratory tests have shown that the disks can withstand hundreds of impacts without any notable degradation in performance, a longtime drawback of helmets’ traditional foam.

Dr. Robert Cantu of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, one of the nation’s leading experts in concussion management, called it “the greatest advance in helmet design in at least 30 years.”

Cantu informally advised Ferrara during the helmet’s development but has no financial relationship with the product.

Dr. Gerry Gioia, a pediatric neuropsychologist who directs the concussion program at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, said Ferrara’s helmet could “take helmet protection to a whole new level.”

“I think it’s very real,” Gioia said. “Foams have only had a certain amount of success in absorbing force. Think of what crumple zones in cars meant to reducing injuries. That’s the idea behind this technology — this does what it’s supposed to do better than any other.”

The helmet has not yet been tested by actual players in games. Earlier this month, it passed certification tests conducted by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment, which certifies helmet models worn by each of the more than 2 million football players in the United States, from pee-wees to professionals.

Ferrara said that his company, Xenith LLC, expected the helmet to be available for the 2008 football season — either produced by Xenith or perhaps by license to an existing manufacturer. The price will be about $350, more than twice the cost of existing headgear. Ferrara, who after graduating from Harvard in 1996 earned medical and business degrees from Columbia, said he expected marketing to focus less on schools, whose budgets are tight, than parents with concern for their child.

“This is more a piece of safety equipment, along the lines of a child car seat, than just a piece of athletic equipment,” Ferrara said.

After raising $10 million in venture capital, Ferrara assembled the engineering team that has turned that squirt bottle into a finished helmet. Three high schools, which Ferrara declined to name because he had promised them anonymity, will begin field-testing it next month. Meanwhile, Ferrara has begun presenting the helmet and its test results to groups of football decision-makers, including the athletic directors of the Big Ten Conference last week.

“It really caught my attention,” said Barry Alvarez, the University of Wisconsin athletic director and former football coach. “Coaches and trainers should really see this thing.”

An N.F.L. spokesman said that the league was aware of Ferrara’s helmet design but had not reviewed it enough to comment.

In part due to liability concerns, the number of helmet manufacturers has decreased over two decades from more than half a dozen to three: Riddell, Schutt and Adams. Eighty-four percent of N.F.L. players choose helmets made by Riddell, which also has an exclusive marketing agreement with the league. Schutt and Adams have far greater market shares on the high school and youth levels, respectively, while exclusive arrangements within leagues or schools are discouraged because head sizes fit better in different brands.

 
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Football helmets present the technological challenge of protecting against all manner of blows to the head and also doing so thousands of times. (Bicycle helmets, by contrast, are designed to withstand just one major, accidental impact.) Optimally, a helmet’s interior must be forgiving enough to cushion against a routine impact while also sturdy enough to withstand a potentially lethal one — each level of force requires a different response from the material.

.
To earn certification, a helmet is impact-tested at dozens of forces and angles, with the energy it still allows to reach the skull measured by what is called severity index. The helmet must always score at 1,200 or below on the severity index because that is the zone that causes fractured skulls, the injury whose prevention historically has been emphasized — quite successfully — in football. Concussions become likely at a severity index of about 300; the certification agency has feared demanding that level of protection because of potential sacrifices it might mean at higher levels.
During its certification test this month, the Xenith helmet scored in the 200’s in several key locations and averaged about 340, scores generally lower than those attained by today’s helmet designs. The certification agency’s executive director, Mike Oliver, strongly cautioned against comparing test scores because differences are not as meaningful as they appear.

“Concussion is the big elephant in the room right now when it comes to helmets, and I’m cautiously optimistic at how low these numbers are,” Oliver said. “But you can test as much as you want, and we won’t really know until it’s tested in the field and we see how it performs.”

Ferrara, 34, shared Oliver’s caution and said that no helmet could prevent concussion — all it could do is decrease the chance for one. “You can’t put a seat belt on the brain,” he said.

In general, only about 20 percent of helmets in use by high schools at any one time are less than one year old; a vast majority are reconditioned every one to three years, as budgets permit. Reconditioned helmets are cleaned, receive new bolts and undergo random drop testing to the certification agency’s 1,200 severity-index standard. But the process does little to address the foam padding that degrades over time and provides less protection against the lower-level impacts that cause concussion, according to Dave Halstead, the agency’s technical director.

Horror stories regarding use of deteriorated helmets are not uncommon. Six years ago, Max Conradt, a high school player in Yachats, Ore., was wearing a 20-year-old helmet when he sustained hits that left him comatose for two months and permanently impaired. Halstead said he had seen helmets with padding replaced by athletic socks and with screw points exposed.

Beyond those rare cases, however, Halstead estimated that half of helmets in use at the high school level are either improperly reconditioned, have foam degradation or fit poorly. This leaves them susceptible to the lower-level forces that cause the majority of concussions, rather than the higher grades for which the agency tests. The certification agency does test hockey and lacrosse helmets at both high and low levels — an extra step that Halstead said his organization should strongly consider for football, as more data are collected on its effectiveness.

“There is concern that changing anything about the standards can affect the safety we’ve already attained,” Halstead said. “The unanswered questions are real. But the injuries we see because of concussions are also real, and are becoming more important.”

Ferrara said that internal tests on his helmet’s shock absorbers had shown no notable degradation after hundreds of hits. That, along with the helmet’s promising test scores, have left Cantu imagining uses for the technology beyond football.

“In the military, you have helmets for pilots and ground troops,” said Cantu, who has also advised the Department of Defense on soldiers’ concussions and other brain injuries. “There’s ice-hockey boards and auto-race barriers. Anything that’s protective in nature, that’s used to attenuate energy, could be improved markedly.”

Other companies are attempting to address football’s concussion quandary. Schutt developed a model called the DNA that uses a thermoplastic urethane liner to attenuate energy as well as foam-filled air bladders for fit.

Simbex, a company based in Lebanon, N.H., has developed a tiny accelerometer that fits inside helmet padding, measures sudden movements of the head and can wirelessly alert a sideline trainer. (Riddell now markets a $1,000 helmet with this technology built in.) While by no means foolproof, the device — now in use in eight colleges and four high schools — can help identify when players sustain a particularly dangerous hit but, wanting to stay on the field, attempt to hide it from medical personnel.

And SportSoft, based in Kirkland, Wash., makes tracking stickers similar to labels on grocery items so that equipment managers can better monitor each helmet’s age and reconditioning history.

Ferrara said he wanted his new shock-absorber helmet design to be only one of several lines of defense against concussions. Mindful that previous helmet improvements have occasionally led athletes to feel a false sense of security and take more risks, he said part of his rollout plan would be to emphasize to players and coaches proper, head-up tackling technique, so that the helmet sees fewer dangerous hits to begin with — as well as encouraging athletes to admit when they think they might have a concussion.

“The educational side of it is just as important, if not more important, as the helmet itself,” Ferrara said.
26743  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: October 27, 2007, 08:38:35 AM
I wish Stratfor had fleshed out his career more.  I remember it to be all they say it is, but frankly I forget the details  embarassed  Anyway, I live in a major target area of America.  Time to continue tightening up my game.  With this news, "Escape from LA" scenarios just became a tad more likely.

PS:  I hold the health-care-fascist-pardon-selling-etc Clintons in low regard, but in fairness one must note that the President's father created much of our problems today by snatching stalemate from the jaws of victory in 1991.   
26744  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lone Survivor on: October 27, 2007, 12:43:21 AM
Lone Survivor
On Monday Lt. Michael Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Meet the man who told his story.

BY MARK LASSWELL
Saturday, October 27, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

ARLINGTON, Va.--At the White House on Monday, the parents of Navy Lt. Michael Murphy received the Medal of Honor posthumously awarded to their son. One of his former SEAL teammates, Marcus Luttrell, was on hand in the East Room but not entirely there. As a military aide read the citation extolling Lt. Murphy for his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life" during a ferocious firefight in Afghanistan in 2005, Mr. Luttrell's mind was firmly back in the mountains of the Hindu Kush on the day that Lt. Murphy died.

"Somebody had to tap me on the shoulder to bring me back. I kind of zoned out," Mr. Luttrell recalled in an interview two days after the ceremony. As he spoke, his thoughts seemed to drift back to the battle again. "I remember how loud it was. And I remember our lungs being on fire"--but here he paused, then added: "I was thinking that nobody can have any idea what the hell happened up on that mountain that day."





The bare outlines are harrowing enough. A four-man contingent of Navy SEALs were inserted by helicopter at night on June 28, 2005, in the desolate mountain region near the border with Pakistan. The men were: Mr. Luttrell, a hospital corpsman second class at the time; Gunner's Mate Second Class Danny Dietz; Sonar Technician Second Class Matthew Axelson; and Lt. Michael Murphy, the officer in charge and one of Mr. Luttrell's closest friends. They were on a reconnaissance mission, trying to locate a guerrilla commander who was aligned with the Taliban.
The SEALs scrambled across the unforgiving terrain toward their target, but after daylight broke the mission started to go awry. Three goat herders--and their goats--happened upon the SEALs. The Americans recognized that they had a potentially lethal problem: The herders glowering at them were likely Taliban sympathizers who would report the Americans' presence.

With deep misgivings, the SEALs resolved to let the herders go--a decision they quickly regretted. Radio communications problems prevented the SEALs from calling headquarters for assistance; moving across the mountainsides with little cover in daylight would almost certainly attract enemy attention. All they could do was hunker down. And then the shooting started. Dozens of Taliban fighters had taken up a position above the SEALs and were pouring lead down on them.

Over the next two hours, a terrible dance unfolded. Swarming Taliban fighters would try to slide down the mountain slopes on either side of the SEALs, who furiously picked them off until the Americans were nearly overwhelmed by force of numbers; then the SEALs would fling themselves blindly down the mountain, hoping to alight still alive, with a little cover, so they could take up the fight again.

After a series of these desperate plunges, the SEALs were in a grim state: shot up, hit by the shrapnel of rocket-propelled grenades, running out of ammunition. Danny Dietz died first--he had been badly wounded, but then was shot fatally as Mr. Luttrell tried to help him to safety.

As Mr. Luttrell recounts in "Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10," his book about the episode, the remaining three SEALs' final plunge down the mountain landed them in a ravine. Matthew Axelson was grievously wounded and would die that day. Lt. Murphy, bleeding from a stomach wound, "groped in his pocket for his mobile phone, the one we had dared not use because it would betray our position," Mr. Luttrell writes. "And then Lieutenant Murphy walked out into the open ground. He walked until he was more or less in the center, gunfire all around him, and he sat on a small rock and began punching in the numbers to HQ."

Any act of heroic battlefield self-sacrifice is almost incomprehensible to those whom soldiers fight to protect, but the fact that Lt. Murphy was performing such a familiar task--moving out into an open space seeking a cell-phone signal--under such murderous circumstances lends his actions an almost unbearable poignancy. While he was on the phone, calling for help, Lt. Murphy was shot in the back, the bullet exiting through his chest, yet he continued to talk--even, astonishingly, finishing the conversation: "Roger that, sir. Thank you."

But it was too late. SEALs Murphy and Axelson were killed, and then the day's disaster was compounded when an MH-47 Chinook helicopter carrying a quick-response force was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade during a rescue effort, killing 16.

It was the worst single day of American fatalities of the war in Afghanistan, and the worst loss of life in SEAL history. But Mr. Luttrell miraculously survived the fight in the mountains. Just as the SEALs were making their last stand, with Taliban fighters closing in, he was blown from the ravine to relative safety by a grenade explosion.

With three broken vertebrae, badly wounded and barely able to walk, he eluded the enemy for the better part of four days, three of them under the care of villagers who took him in and were then obliged by custom to protect their guest against all threats--even against the Taliban fighters who discovered Mr. Luttrell's whereabouts. The Taliban menaced the village, but, loath to create enemies in a region where they rely on local assistance, never attacked. Mr. Luttrell was rescued by U.S. forces on July 2.





War veterans returning to civilian life commonly find themselves in jobs that are, in light of their recent battlefield experience, decidedly incongruous. For Mr. Luttrell, coming home after his discharge in June has meant an incongruity of a kind he would never have imagined. The former SEAL--a man with special-operations training in marksmanship and underwater demolition, a recipient of the Navy Cross for combat heroism, a warrior who fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan--has been working for the past five months as a publicist. It is strictly a volunteer position and reluctantly undertaken, to be sure, and Mr. Luttrell has only one client: the memory of that terrible day in Afghanistan. He wants the world to know about the sacrifices of Lt. Murphy, of his two other dead SEAL teammates, and of the eight SEALs and eight Army Night Stalkers killed in the failed helicopter rescue. It is a timely effort, coming during a period in this country when the heroism of American soldiers is not reliably noted, much less honored, in every corner.
"It's not about me, it's about my guys," he says of his publicity labors since leaving the service. "It's like the job I was doing before I got out. There were probably plenty of missions that I didn't want to go on because I was tired or whatever, but I still did it. Because it's not about me."

Mr. Luttrell was born in Houston in 1975 but grew up in rural Texas on the horse farms his family owned, much of the time in the piney-woods country in the eastern part of the state. He would clearly rather do just about anything than talk to the media. At 6 feet 5 inches tall and well over 200 pounds, with long, cowboyish sideburns, he is Texas taciturn to begin with, and the secrecy of SEAL missions tends to make frogmen--as the naval Sea, Air, Land team-members call themselves--a less-than-loquacious bunch.

In the months following the mountain fight, queries from family and friends about the gun battle and debriefings following inaccurate news reports on the incident became such a distraction, Mr. Luttrell says, that it was difficult to concentrate on his SEAL duties.

"Normally I wouldn't talk about any of our operations. This one wouldn't leave me alone," he says. "It kept banging on my door and I had to do something about it." The solution, he thought, would be to set the facts down in print so that they would be on the public record. Then maybe he could move on.

With clearance from his superiors, Mr. Luttrell began looking into writing a book and was eventually put in touch with British writer Patrick Robinson, whose military thrillers often involve the U.S. Navy. Their collaboration, "Lone Survivor," was published in June; it quickly became a nonfiction best seller.

"All I wanted to do was stop talking" about what happened in Afghanistan, Mr. Luttrell says, "and now I'm neck-deep in it." Another frustration is the inadequacy of words to convey the experience. "I can sit here and tell you that I got into a gunfight," Mr. Luttrell says, "but you can't put it into words. Your heartbeat doesn't raise, the hair on the back of your neck doesn't stand up when I tell you that. When you're out there--the stuff we get into--people get sick. You get so scared, you urinate on yourself. That's fear."

Hollywood, he says, has no idea what war is like. That's why he's wary of negotiations currently under way to film "Lone Survivor." If it happens, he says with the trace of a grimace, he'll probably "go out there and help," otherwise it might turn into "a love story" or a special-effects extravaganza with "people spinning from wires, which it wasn't. It was about death and people dying."

It should be noted that Mr. Luttrell is giving away his income from "Lone Survivor," reportedly putting it in a trust to aid military charities and the families of the dead soldiers, although now he says simply: "I'm in control of it so it goes to the right places."





For now, Mr. Luttrell is heading back to East Texas. Not far from his parents' place, he and his twin brother, Morgan--who followed him into the SEALs--own a ranch. The two men each have a large tattoo on their backs, one half of the trident badge awarded to newly minted SEALs. "When we come together, and it makes the whole thing, you're like, 'Oh, I know what that is.' It was just something we did to honor all the guys who went before us and are here today. And it signifies that without him I'm only half a frogman."
The ranch is devoted to rehabilitating sick and injured horses--about a dozen of them at any one time. The place is likely to be restorative for Mr. Luttrell, as well. "Out there it's pretty peaceful and I work all the time," he says. But he hasn't been able to stay at home for more than a few days at a time since being plunged into "Lone Survivor" concerns.

"Being a civilian hasn't set in just yet. Except when I try to get on a military base and I can't because I don't have an ID anymore." When he feels especially troubled by thoughts about the firefight in the mountains, his instinct--as it is when dealing with his injuries, from which he is still recovering--is simply to "suck it up." But sometimes he calls his old SEAL buddies. It's not always easy to reach them. "I forgot how busy it is being a team guy."

I talked to Mr. Luttrell at the Crystal Gateway Marriott hotel on Wednesday morning, not far from the Pentagon. In the lobby before the interview, it was the uniformed military personnel who caught the eye as they headed out the front door, most likely on their way to doing business at the Pentagon. The few civilian guests in evidence attracted less attention. A family was at the front desk checking out. And then there was the tall young man in blue jeans who was saying goodbye to a pleasant-looking older couple near the entrance. The woman in the couple was much shorter than the young man, who had to lean over--a little awkwardly, as if he had a tricky back--when he hugged her. Not a remarkable farewell scene in most hotels, but in this one it was unutterably moving.

Marcus Luttrell was saying goodbye to Dan and Maureen Murphy, Lt. Murphy's parents. The parting wasn't tearful; it was a cordial exchange between people who have a deep bond and who seem to know that they'll be speaking again soon. Probably on Sunday, in fact. That's the day, each week, when Mr. Luttrell calls the families--the other survivors.

Mr. Lasswell is The Wall Street Journal's deputy books editor.


26745  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA DVD: "DLO 2: Bringing a Gun to a Knife Attack" on: October 27, 2007, 12:35:30 AM
It is in! grin grin grin
26746  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: When you don't feel like fighting... on: October 26, 2007, 11:11:06 PM
Woof Dog Dan:

Your June Gathering smelled to me like a big piece of what you came for-- entirely natural to have a phase after where the focus is different.  Also there was the trip to Prescott ,  , , Know that the Wednesday class is happening again.  Also know that your "Brondo Buzzsaw" will appear in a DBMA DVD, and perhaps in the Nat Geo documentary.  You are one of the featured story lines in the piece by the way.  You come across quite well.  Well done!

The Adventure continues!
Guro Crafty

PS: Please call me.  I have a project I wish to discuss with you.
26747  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: American Politics on: October 26, 2007, 03:40:25 PM
Uncle Jay explains the News:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0FJhOMc-vA
26748  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: October 26, 2007, 03:36:39 PM
I did not know that Charles Krauthammer is VERY anti-gun. Here's what he wrote in an op-ed piece entitled "Disarm The Citizenry", in 1996:


Ultimately, a civilized society must disarm its citizenry if it is to have a modicum of domestic tranquility of the kind enjoyed by sister democracies such as Canada and Britain. Given the frontier history and individualist ideology of the United States, however, this will not come easily. It certainly cannot be done radically. It will probably take one, maybe two generations. It might be 50 years before the United States gets to where Britain is today. Passing a law like the assault weapons ban is a symbolic - purely symbolic - move in that direction. Its only real justification is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation.
26749  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Philippines on: October 26, 2007, 02:57:00 PM
Philippines: The Mall Bombing Controversy
The mayor of Makati City, the Philippines, called Oct. 25 for an independent investigation into the Oct. 19 explosion at the Glorietta 2 mall in Metro Manila. He cited conflicting reports from Philippine National Police (PNP) investigators and their superiors as to the cause of the blast, which left 11 people dead and more than 100 wounded.

Since the explosion, conflicting explanations of the blast have been reported in the media. The day after the bombing, police reported that investigators at the scene had found traces of RDX, a chemical component of the explosive C-4. Several days later, on Oct. 24, the chief of the PNP announced that the blast was caused by an accidental buildup of methane gas and diesel fumes in the mall's basement. That same day, a group of investigators hired by the mall's owners reported that conditions in the basement were inconsistent with an accidental explosion, citing a lack of evidence about the buildup of explosive gases. The timing of the explosion -- at lunch time when the mall was crowded with shoppers and diners -- is also suspicious.

One of the most compelling arguments that the explosion was not accidental is the continued involvement of investigators from the FBI and other U.S. agencies. When explosions such as this one occur, law enforcement agents attached to the U.S. Embassy typically assist the local police with the investigation. The resources available at the embassy in Manila include explosives field-test kits and experienced investigators and intelligence personnel from the FBI, CIA, State Department, Defense Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The FBI also sent in a team from Washington, something it would not have done if it was certain of an accidental gas explosion.

Given these capabilities, U.S. investigators would have been able to determine within the first few days whether the explosion was accidental or intentional. Five days after the blast, a PNP spokesman described the FBI investigation at the scene as ongoing, suggesting investigators have found evidence of foul play.

The lack of a bomb crater at the scene has been cited by many as the primary reason to suspect that no bomb was used. A report released Oct. 24 by U.S. government investigators said the blast likely originated in the basement, and although it did not rule out the possibility of a bomb, it said all signs point to a gas explosion. Physical evidence at the crime scene suggests that a diesel tank was the most probable source of the blast. However, this evidence says nothing about whether the explosion was intentional or accidental.

On May 24, 2000, a small bomb exploded at the same mall, killing one person and wounding 14. Islamist militants were accused of the attack, though the incident was also explained as a business dispute or criminal act. There are several likely suspects in this latest incident; the Abu Sayyaf-linked Rajah Solaiman Movement claimed responsibility several days after the blast, though officials continue to examine that claim.

Philippine politics are very contentious, and there are a host of reasons why different elements of the government would disagree on the cause of the blast. Indecision on the part of the Philippine government about the blast is a typical example of the factional infighting that commonly occurs. Since the mall had previously been targeted by militants, security forces have an interest in not appearing incapable of implementing an effective security program.

The continued presence of U.S. investigators suggests there is more to this explosion than a simple accidental ignition of gases. The government disagreements about the incident are likely to continue, even if the police or the United States are able to provide a convincing report about the real cause.
26750  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / The Unorganzied Militia: Citizens defend themselves/others. on: October 26, 2007, 11:41:58 AM
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont...1a9bce320.html


Dallas police: Man in wheelchair disarms and kills invader


09:18 AM CDT on Friday, October 26, 2007


From WFAA-TV Staff Reports

We open this thread with a real humdinger:
==========================================

3500 East Overton Road
Dallas police said a disabled man shot and killed a person who broke into his apartment early Friday morning.
Police said the man was able to get out of his wheelchair, struggle with the invader, take his gun away and shoot him.

The events at the Village Oaks Apartments in the 3500 block of East Overton Road were reported to police at 2:49 a.m.

The intruder was taken to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas where he died.

The disabled man was not immediately identified by police, but he appeared to be in his mid-50s.
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