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26751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: September 13, 2007, 08:05:08 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Putin's Most Recent Surprise Move

Russian President Vladimir Putin nominated Viktor Zubkov as prime minister on Wednesday, catching many off guard following leaks that First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov would replace acting Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov. Ivanov -- widely seen as a front-runner to replace Putin as president in March 2008 -- was expected to take the post as a stepping stone to the top of the Russian leadership, just as former President Boris Yeltsin anointed Putin his successor by naming him prime minister in January 2000.

But Putin, always a master at keeping people off balance, instead promoted Zubkov, chairman of the Finance Ministry's financial monitoring committee, Rosfinmonitoring. Zubkov and Putin have worked together since the president's days in St. Petersburg in the early 1990s, and after he was called to Moscow, Zubkov was instrumental in Putin's early assault on Russia's oligarchs.

Perhaps not coincidentally, there is a close connection between Zubkov -- who apparently supplanted Ivanov -- and Anatoly Serdyukov, the civilian tax official who replaced Ivanov as defense minister in the February Cabinet reshuffle. It was Serdyukov who took over Zubkov's position in St. Petersburg when the latter was initially called to Moscow, and Serdyukov is also married to Zubkov's daughter.

The surprise appointment of Zubkov as prime minister, like Ivanov's unexpected replacement with Serdyukov, reflects a key principle of Putin's leadership style: Always keep people guessing. Suddenly, the rising star of Ivanov seems somewhat dimmer, and it is anybody's guess who will succeed Putin. The Kremlinologists are going crazy. But the frothing waves on the surface of the Russian political sea distract from the deeper current.

The story of Russia in the near two decades since the Cold War ended is one of precipitous and disastrous economic, political, military and demographic decline. This led to the perception by most (including some in Russia) that the country could be ignored and was no longer an influential global power. Putin's own rise to power was unexpected and created a certain amount of confusion and chaos -- leaving those at home and abroad scrambling to discover just who this new Russian leader was. This uncertainty gave Putin some room to maneuver, since no one was quite sure what he would do.

Putin's goal since taking power has been to reverse the crisis of confidence in Russia and restore the country to the status and "respect" that he (and many Russians) feels it deserves. As Putin settled into his new role, he began taking on the very legs of Russian power that had helped bring him to power and maintain the old system. He attacked the oligarchs, picking them off one by one. He reasserted Russia's power inside its own borders, launching a major offensive against the Chechens. And he began tampering with the energy industry, then the defense industry and the military.

Each time Putin moved, it shook the system, creating uncertainties and insecurities among the entrenched interests and overseas observers. This element of surprise worked to Putin's advantage, keeping opponents and allies alike off balance and leaving the president with the initiative, rather than the response.

Underneath this froth and noise, Putin has relentlessly pursued his core goal -- restoring Russia's "Great Power" status. This has required a significant reshuffling of the domestic deck, and we can now clearly see Russia's efforts in the international arena -- from resumed long-range bomber flights along the European and Pacific coastlines to the very public testing of the "father of all bombs," a much larger version of the United States' Massive Ordnance Air Blast (the "mother of all bombs" meant to inspire shock and awe in the Afghan battlefields and beyond).

These efforts were all designed to obfuscate and distract international observers. All the while, Putin is acting on what he sees as Russia's geopolitical imperatives. As Kremlinologists scramble to decipher the meaning of Zubkov's appointment, they are missing the more significant reality: Russia is back, and it no longer accepts its decline into obscurity. If Zubkov was a surprise, there are many more -- and much more significant ones -- yet in store.
stratfor.com
26752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: September 13, 2007, 07:27:03 AM
"Wish not so much to live long as to live well."

-- Benjamin Franklin (Poor Richard's Almanack, June 1746)

Reference: Franklin: Writings, Lemay, Library of America (1209)
26753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 12, 2007, 11:45:16 PM
From the Halls of Malibu to the Shores of Kennedy
by Ann Coulter

Democrats claim Gen. David Petraeus' report to Congress on the surge was a put-up job with a pre-ordained conclusion. As if their response wasn't.

Democrats yearn for America to be defeated on the battlefield and oppose any use of the military -- except when they can find individual malcontents in the military willing to denounce the war and call for a humiliating retreat.

It's been the same naysaying from these people since before we even invaded Iraq -- despite the fact that their representatives in Congress voted in favor of that war.

Mark Bowden, author of "Black Hawk Down," warned Americans in the Aug. 30, 2002, Los Angeles Times of 60,000 to 100,000 dead American troops if we invaded Iraq -- comparing an Iraq war to Vietnam and a Russian battle in Chechnya. He said Iraqis would fight the Americans "tenaciously" and raised the prospect of Saddam using weapons of mass destruction against our troops, an attack on Israel "and possibly in the United States."

On Sept. 14, 2002, The New York Times' Frank Rich warned of another al-Qaida attack in the U.S. if we invaded Iraq, noting that since "major al-Qaida attacks are planned well in advance and have historically been separated by intervals of 12 to 24 months, we will find out how much we've been distracted soon enough."

This week makes it six years since a major al-Qaida attack. I guess we weren't distracted. But it looks like al-Qaida has been.

Weeks before the invasion, in March 2003, the Times' Nicholas Kristof warned in a couple of columns that if we invaded Iraq, "the Turks, Kurds, Iraqis and Americans will all end up fighting over the oil fields of Kirkuk or Mosul." He said: "The world has turned its back on the Kurds more times than I can count, and there are signs that we're planning to betray them again." He announced that "the United States is perceived as the world's newest Libya."

The day after we invaded, Kristof cited a Muslim scholar for the proposition that if Iraqis felt defeated, they would embrace Islamic fundamentalism.

We took Baghdad in about 17 days flat with amazingly few casualties. There were no al-Qaida attacks in America, no attacks on Israel, no invasion by Turkey, no attacks on our troops with chemical weapons, no ayatollahs running Iraq. We didn't turn our back on the Kurds. There were certainly not 100,000 dead American troops.

But liberals soon began raising yet more pointless quibbles. For most of 2003, they said the war was a failure because we hadn't captured Saddam Hussein. Then we captured Saddam, and Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean complained that "the capture of Saddam has not made America safer." (On the other hand, Howard Dean's failure to be elected president definitely made America safer.)

Next, liberals said the war was a failure because we hadn't captured Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Then we killed al-Zarqawi and a half-dozen of his aides in an air raid. Then they said the war was a failure because ... you get the picture.

The Democrats' current talking point is that "there can be no military solution in Iraq without a political solution." But back when we were imposing a political solution, Democrats' talking point was that there could be no political solution without a military solution.

They said the first Iraqi election, scheduled for January 2005, wouldn't happen because there was no "security."

Noted Middle East peace and security expert Jimmy Carter told NBC's "Today" show in September 2004 that he was confident the elections would not take place. "I personally do not believe they're going to be ready for the election in January ... because there's no security there," he said.

At the first presidential debate in September 2004, Sen. John Kerry used his closing statement to criticize the scheduled Iraqi elections saying: "They can't have an election right now. The president's not getting the job done."

About the same time, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said he doubted there would be elections in January, saying, "You cannot have credible elections if the security conditions continue as they are now" -- although he may have been referring here to a possible vote of the U.N. Security Council.

In October 2004, Nicholas Lemann wrote in The New Yorker that "it may not be safe enough there for the scheduled elections to be held in January."

Days before the first election in Iraq in January 2005, The New York Times began an article on the election this way:

"Hejaz Hazim, a computer engineer who could not find a job in computers and now cleans clothes, slammed his iron into a dress shirt the other day and let off a burst of steam about the coming election.

"'This election is bogus,' Mr. Hazim said. 'There is no drinking water in this city. There is no security. Why should I vote?'"

If there's a more artful articulation of the time-honored linkage between drinking water and voting, I have yet to hear it.

And then, as scheduled, in January 2005, millions of citizens in a country that has never had a free election risked their lives to cast ballots in a free democratic election. They've voted twice more since then.

Now our forces are killing lots of al-Qaida jihadists, preventing another terrorist attack on U.S. soil, and giving democracy in Iraq a chance -- and Democrats say we are "losing" this war. I think that's a direct quote from their leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, but it may have been the Osama bin Laden tape released this week. I always get those two confused.

OK, they knew what Petraeus was going to say. But we knew what the Democrats were going to say. If liberals are not traitors, their only fallback argument at this point is that they're really stupid.
26754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why we fight on: September 12, 2007, 11:41:17 PM
Woof All:

A recurring theme in several of our threads having to do with WW3 and its various theaters (Iraq, Afg-Pak, the American Homeland, Europe, etc) is our apparently poor ability to articulate to ourselves the nature of the struggle and our strategy.

This thread is for discussing and resolving exactly this.

I will begin with the name "The War on Terror".  WOT is, IMHO, a remarkably stupid, indeed cowardly name for this war.  We do not war with a technique!  We war with a world-wide movement of religious fascists who seek to bring us down and impose their understanding of Islam on the whole world.  I know that some are ill at ease with the term Islamo-fascism, but IMHO the name is an accurate description of our enemies.

We search for Truth.  Let the conversation begin.

TAC!
Marc
26755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 12, 2007, 08:56:16 PM
Israel, Syria: Threats and Incursions
Summary

The alleged Sept. 6 incursion into Syrian airspace by the Israeli air force was related to nuclear facilities, Israeli media have reported. Though this speculation will continue in the Israeli press, the nuclear angle to the incursion is unlikely.

Analysis

Israeli media have been reporting that the alleged Sept. 6 Israeli air force (IAF) incursion into Syria had the photo reconnaissance of nuclear sites as its objective.

Though these reports and the remaining evidence create more questions than they answer, this hypothesis is not compelling. The conventional threat to Israel posed by Syria looms much larger, and though Israel must be vigilant to the Syrian threat -- whether nuclear or conventional -- the Jewish state has good reason to proceed with restraint.

Despite its status in U.S. eyes as a second-tier "Axis of Evil" state, Syria does not have a nuclear program that comes close to North Korea's or even Iran's program. It continues to focus on civilian research, particularly the production of radioisotopes for medical purposes. Though connections to Iranian and North Korean know-how could accelerate the Syrian program, Syria lacks the finances and resources to commit to an advanced nuclear program -- not to mention the standoff distance needed to conceal anything of that scale from the Mossad.

Thus, whether the incursion was a photo reconnaissance, offensive strike or some other sort of mission, reports of the nuclear angle fail to convince. The rudimentary state of Syria's nuclear program (even taking into account all the unknowns) means Damascus has not crossed the sort of redline that would warrant the attention of what, by Syrian reports, appears to have been at least four Israeli aircraft.

Syria's conventional capabilities are no match for Israel's, and any significant move toward a more robust nuclear program would ensure a swift and strong Israeli military response -- one Damascus has neither the desire to incur nor the ability to repel.

Syria's use of militant proxies against Israel, however, cannot be ruled out, given that Syrian diplomatic objections to the alleged incursion largely have been ignored. Interestingly, both the resumption of Qassam rocket attacks against Israel and the worst Qassam rocket strike in the Jewish state's history (in which dozens of Israel Defense Forces troops were injured) took place Sept. 11.

Israel can strike Syrian targets with impunity. But during the 2006 conflict with Hezbollah (which Syria helped arm) in southern Lebanon, Israel only went so far as to buzz Syrian President Bashar al Assad's summer residence -- so a strike would represent a significant escalation (although not an unprecedented step) for the IAF.

Giving Israel cause for restraint, the al Assad government is stable and is something Israel can manage. Israel does not want regime change in Damascus because the resulting power vacuum would create the risk of an Islamist regime more aggressively opposed to Israel -- something the Jewish state lacks the bandwidth to deal with at present.





The Syrian missile program, on the other hand, is comparatively far more advanced than its nuclear program and represents a much more tangible threat to Israel -- especially given concerns that missiles could be passed to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Sources indicate that the IAF mission probably was linked to a recent missile import from North Korea, which has a long-standing missile export history, especially with Syria and Iran.

Longer-range systems would allow Syria to place its missiles further from the reach of the IAF. Already, both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are in range of Syria's longer-range Scud missile variants, even from the vicinity of Tal al-Abiad and Dayr az Zawr. But Israel has long lived with the threat of Scud missiles pointed in its direction, so as with Syria's nuclear program, some other threshold would have to be crossed to warrant an Israeli strike, such as concerns about radically improved guidance systems.

The Israeli-Syrian drama is playing out against the backdrop of continued threats of a military confrontation between Iran and the United States. Tehran has made it clear that its response to any U.S. attack would involve strikes against Israel (no matter the Jewish state's level of involvement). Thus, Israel sees the need for increased vigilance against the potential for Iran and Iranian weapons (perhaps stationed in eastern Syria, where the alleged IAF incursion took place) to strike the heart of the Jewish state.
stratfor.com
26756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 12, 2007, 05:58:32 PM
 
 
   
     
   
 
 

 
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Diagnosis: Critical
September 12, 2007; Page A18
It's been reported in these columns and elsewhere that the dysfunctional U.S. immigration system contributes to labor shortages in agriculture. Less well-known is that low green card quotas have also left the U.S. with an undersupply of nurses that threatens patient care.

"The ageing U.S. population and low domestic production of nurses in the U.S. has created a nursing shortage that carries deadly consequences," says a new study by Stuart Anderson of the National Foundation for American Policy. "[A] shortage of nurses at U.S. hospitals is leading to increased death and illness for Americans."

Estimates of the looming shortage vary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and Department of Health and Human Services project that more than a million new and replacement nurses will be needed over the next decade. Health analysts David Auerbach, Peter Buerhaus and Douglas Staiger cite a lower but still substantial 340,000, though even that "is three times larger than the size of the current shortage when it was at its peak in 2001." All agree that the coming retirement of 77 million baby boomers means something will have to give.

Wage increases in recent years have attracted more people to nursing. In California, annual average salaries for full-time registered nurses grew to $69,000 in 2006 from $52,000 in 2000, a 32% gain. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nationwide mean salary for registered nurses today is nearly $60,000. Better pay alone, however, won't solve the problem, or at least not anytime soon.

Despite more interest in the profession, faculty shortages and inadequate facilities have prevented nursing programs from expanding enrollment. More than 70% of schools responding to a 2006 American Association of College Nursing survey listed faculty shortages as a reason for not accepting all qualified applicants. In 2005 nursing schools rejected 147,000 qualified applicants, citing lack of classroom space and clinical placement sites for students.

When growers can't find field hands, food rots and businesses lose money. But when hospitals can't find nurses, patient care suffers. "The effectiveness of nurse surveillance is influenced by the number of registered nurses available to assess patients on an ongoing basis," concluded a 2002 Journal of the American Medical Association study. The study -- which looked at general, orthopedic and vascular surgery patients at hospitals -- found a 31% increase in patient mortality when a nurse's workload rose to eight from four patients.

"Given that even optimistic projections of raising wages and increasing domestic nurse production assumes a continued shortage of a decade or more," writes Mr. Anderson, "policymakers concerned about the impact of the nursing shortage on patient deaths and illnesses must consider relaxing current immigration quotas."

The long-term solution here is to increase nursing faculty and teaching facilities. But in the short run, Congress could help enormously by easing the limit on foreign nurses allowed entry to the U.S. That's what lawmakers did in 2005 when they allocated 50,000 extra green cards with a priority for foreign nurses. They were used up in 18 months. About 4% of U.S. registered nurses are foreign-trained, which means many hospitals couldn't function without them.

More such green cards are needed now, before hospital understaffing contributes to more preventable illness and death.

WSJ
26757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 12, 2007, 05:56:21 PM
Following up on my previous post, the WSJ says it better than I do:

-----------

Petraeus Takes the Beltway
Political progress--in Iraq and the U.S--follows military success.

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

So the two men best qualified to give an honest and comprehensive account of events in Iraq have marched through Congress to say--and show--that the surge is working and America's goals are still within reach. Yet it's a sign of the U.S. political debate that their evidence of progress seemed to make the headlines in none of our leading news sources yesterday.

Instead, the "news" seems to be that General David Petraeus has recommended that some 5,000 U.S. troops can rotate out of Iraq by the end of this year, and that U.S. forces might be able to return to pre-surge levels by next July if progress continues. That's no small matter, but it obscures the larger message of the testimony by the General and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. To wit: The U.S. is gaining ground in Iraq--often in the least expected of ways.


 

Consider some excerpts from Mr. Crocker's testimony. The Iraqi government puts its cell phone spectrum up for auction: It nets a better-than-expected sum of nearly $4 billion. At a recent conference in Dubai, "hundreds of Iraqi businessmen met an equal number of foreign investors newly interested in acquiring shares of business in Iraq." Iraqi oil is now flowing out of the country via Turkish pipelines, and the International Monetary Fund predicts economic growth for Iraq of 6% this year.
In the vicinity of Abu Ghraib, 1,700 men--many of them former Sunni insurgents--have joined the Shiite-dominated Iraqi Security Forces. The Iraqi government is quietly offering jobs or retirement packages to thousands of former soldiers, many of them one-time members of the Baath Party. Significantly, it is doing so without taking the politically sensitive steps of declaring a general amnesty or enacting legislation on de-Baathification.

As Mr. Crocker notes, these developments "are neither measured in benchmarks nor visible to those far from Baghdad." It's a point that seems to have been missed by Democrats on the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, as well as by such Republicans as John Warner and Dick Lugar. Their collective view seems to be that Iraq is a lost cause because the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has failed to achieve "national reconciliation," on the grounds that a series of legislative benchmarks have still not been met.

We don't know anyone who opposes "national reconciliation," though perhaps only on Capitol Hill would it be measured by the quantity of legislation passed rather than the quality of life for ordinary Iraqis. (In the U.S., these measures tend to be inversely correlated.) Yet "reconciliation" isn't something that precedes basic security. It follows from it.

In his testimony, General Petraeus noted that violent civilian deaths have declined by 45% in Iraq and 70% in Baghdad. Car and suicide bombings are down by nearly 50% since March, another astonishing turnabout. Here, too, the good news comes from the least expected of places: Anbar province, where Sunni tribal leaders and many former insurgents have realized their best interests lie with the U.S. and a democratic Iraqi government in which they have a say, and not with al Qaeda. Critics claim this realization has nothing to do with the surge, but surely the tribal sheikhs would not risk fighting al Qaeda unless they believed the U.S. and Iraqi government had shown the will to stay and prevail.

Progress in Anbar would also have been harder had Mr. Maliki not agreed to allow the arming of Sunni tribal leaders, despite the danger that could pose to Shiite power. Mr. Maliki has also shown political courage by allowing the U.S. to go after the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr, who only last year helped the prime minister get his job. Mr. Sadr recently agreed to a unilateral ceasefire after some of his men attacked Shiite worshippers in Karbala. Like al Qaeda in Iraq, he too may have overplayed his hand, and one reason for the surge to continue is to give General Petraeus time to further degrade Mahdi elements. This will leave the Iraqi Security Force in a stronger position to keep order after the surge.

One element that's still missing is the non-interference of Iraq's neighbors in its affairs. With Democratic Presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich paying court this week in Damascus, it was especially useful to hear General Petraeus describe Syria's role in Iraq as "malign" and provide specific details of Iran's killing of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi government leaders. Our own sources say Iranian-backed forces are now responsible for 70% of U.S. casualties. The problem of Iran in Iraq is worth another editorial, but as the surge continues President Bush is going to have to get far more serious about proving to Tehran that there really are "consequences" for killing Americans. So far Mr. Bush has shown the opposite.


 

As for U.S. politics, the lesson of the last few months is that the way to gain ground on Capitol Hill is not with the promise of troop withdrawals. As our experience in Vietnam showed, such withdrawals quickly become a Congressional addiction. All Americans want fewer troops in Iraq; most Americans also want that drawdown to be honorable and victorious. The way to stop, or slow, the calls for too-rapid withdrawal is to succeed in making further military and political progress in Iraq.
The success of the surge so far has bought Mr. Bush more time and support to press the initiative in Baghdad and the larger Middle East. He owes it to General Petraeus and U.S. troops to exploit this opening on every front--including Syria and Iran.
26758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cultural Contradictions of Libertarianism on: September 12, 2007, 05:40:50 PM
Part Two

At a time when many others in the big tent of American conservatism are in the dumps, such upbeat assessments are rare. Messrs. Doherty and Lindsey are positively Reaganesque in their optimism, and the movement of which they are a part has undoubtedly made a real contribution to the policy debate in recent years. Lindsey's Cato Institute, the premier think tank of libertarianism, continues to publish its valuable free-market reports and books. Libertarian bloggers have established a substantial readership, and some of them, like Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit and the law professors who write The Volokh Conspiracy, have become prominent (and notably sane) voices in the world of online political commentary.
More important perhaps, today's libertarian movement has been open to the sort of internal disagreements that are a sign of a healthy, maturing philosophy. Differences over the Iraq war are a striking example. Historically, libertarians have been programmatically antiwar, in part because of their opposition to coercion in all its forms but also because war increases the power and reach of the state. Today, by contrast, a number of libertarians, including the Georgetown law professor Randy Barnett in a recent Wall Street Journal article, make the case for more flexible thinking about dealing with the threat of Islamism, and some have been supporters of the Bush administration's efforts in Iraq.

Even on social and cultural questions, where libertarians have often tangled with tradition-minded conservatives, Mr. Lindsey is on to something in his talk of a "libertarian synthesis" combining self-expression and self-restraint. If the country was slouching toward Gomorrah for a while, it has at the very least straightened up a bit. Many of the indicators of social meltdown that received alarmed attention in the 1980s and early '90s--high crime rates, "children having children," teen drug use, rampant divorce--have improved lately.

But they have not improved nearly as much as one might wish--and it is difficult to separate the reasons for our abiding social disarray from the trends that Messrs. Doherty and Lindsey praise and for which libertarians bear a measure of responsibility. Despite Mr. Lindsey's protestations to the contrary, libertarianism has supported, always implicitly and often with an enthusiastic hurrah, the "Aquarian" excesses that he now decries. Many of the movement's devotees were deeply involved in the radicalism of the 1960s.

Nor should this come as a surprise. After all, the libertarian vision of personal morality--described by Mr. Doherty as "People ought to be free to do whatever the hell they want, mostly, as long as they aren't hurting anyone else"--is not far removed from "if it feels good, do it," the cri de coeur of the Aquarians. To be sure, part of the libertarian entanglement with the radicalism of the 1960s stemmed from the movement's opposition to both the Vietnam War and the draft, which Milton Friedman likened to slavery. But libertarians were also drawn to the left's revolutionary social posture.

Murray Rothbard, for example, became a fan of Che Guevara and the Black Panther leader H. Rap Brown. Karl Hess, a libertarian/anarchist said to have written Barry Goldwater's famous lines about "extremism in the defense of liberty," was an equal-opportunity revolutionary; during the 60s, he symbolized his move to the New Left by donning a Castro-style beard and jacket. And many young libertarians spent the decade moving back and forth between the right-wing Young Americans for Freedom and the left-wing Students for a Democratic Society.

The point in rehearsing this history is not to play gotcha; many good people did and thought things during those days that they would prefer not to remember (assuming, as the joke has it, they can remember). Rather, it is to suggest that when one's moral compass consists of nothing more than doing "whatever the hell you want" and avoiding physical harm to anyone else's person or property, it is very easy to get lost.

The civil-rights movement is an instructive case. Mr. Lindsey includes it in his list of libertarian victories, but it is a perfect example of the inability of libertarians to find a political and moral framework suitable to the big questions of American public life. If people ought to be able to do what they want, then certainly hating blacks--either by oneself or in the company of like-minded souls--is nobody else's business, including the federal government's. To the extent that libertarians are remembered at all for their role in the civil-rights era, it is not for marching on Selma but rather for their enthusiastic support of states' rights and the freedom of white racists to associate with one another.

Libertarianism was complicit, too, in the vociferous attack during the 1960s on the bourgeois family. After all, blood relationships are involuntary, and parents with any interest in rearing and educating their children are unlikely to look for guidance in "Atlas Shrugged." Ayn Rand was predictably wary of kinship ties and, like radical feminists, saw the family as a soul-killing prison. Rothbard struggled with the vexing question of how to square the biological fact of the dependency of the young with the libertarian devotion to freedom. His conclusion was that parents should not be legally bound to feed or educate their children, and children should have an absolute right to leave home at any time. Today, libertarians support the loosest of divorce laws, and many wonder why the state should be involved in the marriage business at all, a question that has come to the fore in the debate over gay marriage.

As a common-sense moderate, Brink Lindsey implicitly rejects such radical views of personal autonomy while at the same time dismissing their ill effects. "A strong work ethic and belief in personal responsibility, a continued commitment to the two-parent family as the best way of raising children, and a robust patriotism," he writes, "all survived the Aquarian challenge." But this assessment is far too sanguine. Today, a record 37% of American children are born to single mothers, and the number appears to be on the rise. Most of these children will be either poor or very limited in their ability to move up the economic ladder.

Mr. Lindsey must know this, but to dwell on it would cast a shadow over the sunny prospect he describes. Worse, it would compel him to confront what we might call the cultural contradictions of libertarianism.


 

On the one hand, libertarians make a fetish of freedom; it is their totalizing goal. On the other hand, libertarians depend on the family--an institution that, in crucial respects, is unfree--to produce the sort of people best suited to life in a free-market system (not to mention future members of their own movement). The complex, dynamic economy that libertarians have done so much to expand needs highly advanced human capital--that is, individuals of great moral, cognitive and emotional sophistication. Reams of social-science research prove that these qualities are best produced in traditional families with married parents.
Family breakdown, by contrast, limits the accumulation of such human capital. Worse, divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing leave the door wide open for big government. Dysfunctional families create an increased demand for state-funded food, housing and medical subsidies, which libertarians reject on principle. And in courts all over the country, judges who preside over the manifold disputes occasioned by broken families are forced to be more intrusive than the worst mother-in-law: They decide who should have primary custody, who gets a child on Christmas or summer holidays, whether a child should take piano lessons, go to Hebrew school, move to California, or speak to her grandmother on the phone. It is a libertarian's worst nightmare.

A libertarian, according to Brian Doherty, "has to believe" that "the instincts and abilities for liberty . . . are innate," that we possess "an ability to fend for ourselves in the Randian sense and to form spontaneous orders of fellowship and cooperation in the Hayekian sense." But this view of the relationship between the individual and society is profoundly and demonstrably false, especially when applied to the family.

Children do not come into the world respecting private property. They do not emerge from the womb ready to navigate the economic and moral complexities of an "age of abundance." The only way they learn such things is through a long process of intensive socialization--a process that we now know, thanks to the failed experiments begun by the Aquarians and implicitly supported by libertarians, usually requires intact families and decent schools.

Libertarianism did not have to take this unfortunate turn. Ludwig von Mises himself warned that the attempt (of socialists) to undermine the family was a ploy to strengthen the state. Hayek, too, grasped the family's role in upholding the free market. Coming of age in Europe around the time of World War I, he stressed the state's inefficiency but also warned, more generally, of the limits of human reason. "Hayek's economics was rooted in man's ignorance," Mr. Doherty writes; so were his political views, which included both an enthusiasm for freedom and a Burkean respect for customs and institutions.

It is difficult to say why this aspect of libertarianism has faded away, but the sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset once provided a partial answer. In Europe and elsewhere, he observed, modern radicals have tended to be of a Marxist, collectivist bent; in America, with its peculiar Lockean legacy and Jeffersonian ideals, radicals have gone to the other extreme, searching for absolute freedom. It is a quest that has left little room for the confining demands of family and other unchosen social bonds.

Libertarians come in many flavors, of course, but they share certain enthusiasms beyond free-market economics. They are often great consumers of science fiction, with an avid interest in space travel. And they have an almost unlimited enthusiasm for biotechnology, especially for advances that might allow us to manipulate our natures and extend our lives. Taken together, these elements constitute what might be called the libertarian dream--the dream of shaping your own meaning, liberated from family, from the past, from tradition, from biology, and perhaps even from the earth itself.

Such utopian ambitions are difficult to satisfy or even contain in the mundane world of American politics. For some time to come, they are likely to make libertarianism the natural home of assorted cranks and crazies, and thus to continue to provide fodder for its at least partly deserved caricature.

Ms. Hymowitz is a contributing editor of City Journal. This article appears in the September issue of Commentary.


26759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Cultural Contradictions of Libertarianism on: September 12, 2007, 05:40:06 PM
Woof All:

I find this long piece to be important enough to give it its own thread.

TAC,
Marc
------------------------

Freedom Fetishists
The cultural contradictions of libertarianism.

BY KAY S. HYMOWITZ
Wednesday, September 12, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

More than perhaps any other American political group, libertarians have suffered the blows of caricature. For many people, the term evokes an image of a scraggly misfit living in the woods with his gun collection, a few marijuana plants, some dogeared Ayn Rand titles, and a battered pickup truck plastered with bumper stickers reading "Taxes = Theft" and "FDR Was A Pinko."

The stereotype is not entirely unfair. Even some of those who proudly call themselves libertarians recognize that their philosophy of personal freedom and minimal government can be a powerful magnet for the unhinged. Nor has recent political history done much to rehabilitate libertarianism's image as an outlier.

The Libertarian Party's paltry membership has never reached much beyond the 250,000 mark, and polling numbers for Ron Paul, the libertarian candidate the Republican presidential nomination, remain pitiable. Worse, despite Bill Clinton's declaration that "the era of big government is over," antistatist ideas like school vouchers and privatized Social Security accounts continue to be greeted with widespread skepticism, while massive new programs like the Medicare prescription-drug benefit continue to win the support of re-election-minded incumbents. A recent New York Times survey found increasing support for government-run health care, and both parties are showing signs of a populist resurgence, with demands for new economic and trade regulation.

And yet, judging by their output in recent years, libertarians are in a fine mood--and not because they are in denial. However distant the country may be from their laissez-faire ideal, free-market principles now drive the American economy to a degree unimaginable a generation ago. Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, who as a young economist sat at the knee of the libertarian guru Ayn Rand, presided in the 1990s over one of the most prosperous stretches in American history, with the support, no less, of a Democratic president. When the avowedly libertarian economist Milton Friedman died last November, he was lauded just about everywhere, and even given respectful treatment in places like the New York Review of Books.

Nor have libertarian victories been limited to the economic arena. Americans are increasingly laissez-faire in their attitudes toward sex, divorce, drugs and gay marriage. In the personal sphere as in the world of business and finance, freedom has become the guiding principle, especially for the young. As the motto of Reason magazine, the movement's flagship publication, trumpets: "Free minds and free markets."

The diverse origins of libertarianism and its recent accomplishments are the subjects, respectively, of two new books by capable advocates of the creed. "Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement" by Brian Doherty is (as its subtitle suggests) an appreciation of even the most gnarled branches of the ideological family tree. Brink Lindsey's "The Age of Abundance: How Prosperity Transformed America's Politics and Culture" is, by contrast, a broad survey of the social and cultural changes sparked by the free market's triumph in postwar America. Perhaps because of their differences, however, the two books are neatly complementary. Together they make clear why libertarianism has yet to find a secure place in the American mainstream.


 

Anemic though its following has been over the years, libertarianism is a quintessentially American philosophy. As Mr. Doherty, a senior editor at Reason, writes in his massive, lively history, "Libertarianism is all in Jefferson. Read your Declaration of Independence." For Jefferson, citizens are the bearers of inalienable rights, and the purpose of government is to protect those rights. Libertarians see this bargain as the essence of public life--and any departure from it, especially in the name of some grander idea of justice, as a violation of the social compact. Among the many colorful libertarian trailblazers described by Mr. Doherty is Lysander Spooner, a 19th-century radical who compared the government to a highwayman pointing a gun at your head and demanding "your money or your life." Spooner poured his energies into establishing a privately run postal service (a project still dear to many libertarians).
Closer to our own day, the decisive influences on libertarianism were the free-market economists Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) and his disciple Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992). Though both were Austrian by birth and education, they eventually landed in America, where they continued to develop their powerful (and now vindicated) critique of socialist economics. As Doherty emphasizes, both thinkers rejected central planning largely on the grounds that human beings are not very good at predicting the future. Socialism was bound to fail, they argued, because it did not take into account the evolving preferences (or "subjective valuations") of individuals. It was a grossly inefficient, necessarily coercive system for meeting human needs.

Doherty disabuses readers of the idea that libertarianism is exclusively concerned with economics. As he emphasizes, it has a political and moral dimension as well, "a vision of a radical and just future." According to many of the thinkers he profiles, liberty is essential to the initiative and self-sufficiency that make ethical behavior possible. Doherty devotes considerable attention, for example, to the mid-20th-century anarchist Murray Rothbard, sometimes called "Mr. Libertarian." Rothbard was one of the first observers to stress the now-familiar point that government action on behalf of the poor and minorities would undermine the responsibility and self-discipline they needed for advancement.

Many of the figures described by Mr. Doherty believe that libertarianism is also good for the social fabric. Capitalism may not lead to the fraternité naively dreamed of by more conventional revolutionaries, but it does expand the circle of human trust beyond the traditional limits of family and tribe; social bonds thrive in an atmosphere of freedom. Indeed, several of Mr. Doherty's subjects (particularly Hayek) argue that government meddling positively discourages the human instinct for association. If politicians and bureaucrats would get out of the way, people would more readily cooperate and support one another. As David Friedman (the anarchist son of Milton) concluded in studying the economics of tipping, people are capable of developing their own rules for distributive justice, and will pay for social goods of their own free will.


 

For Brink Lindsey, vice president for research at the Cato Institute, Americans today are the fortunate heirs of Mises and Hayek. Since World War II, he argues in "The Age of Abundance," the libertarian principles of competition, free trade, and deregulation have given the United States a level of prosperity that would have astounded our ancestors. For most of human history (and, even now, for much of the developing world), the lot of ordinary people has been scarcity, brutal work, and lives cut short by ill health. No more--thanks to the bounty of modern capitalism.
As Mr. Lindsey writes, Americans "live on the far side of a great fault line." On one (now distant) side, there were polio, diphtheria, outhouses, child labor, candlepower, life expectancy of under 50 years, sweatshops and the Great Depression. On our blessed, present-day side, there are miracle drugs, hip replacements, peaches from Chile in winter, Russian caviar in the summer, central air-conditioning, 500 TV channels, master bathrooms with whirlpools, and Dow 14000. Marx predicted that civilization would travel from the "realm of necessity" to the "realm of freedom" (the title of Mr. Lindsey's first chapter). About that much, he was right--but the engine has been bourgeois capitalism, not class struggle.

To critics who say that the market is a nasty rogue, supplying the fortunate with mansions and Cristal Brut while condemning the luckless to rags and scraps, Mr. Lindsey gives no ground. America's late-19th-century Gilded Age, frequently described by the economically naive as an example of "unbridled capitalism," was anything but that. The "robber barons," he writes, were little more than crony capitalists, insiders who manipulated government to squelch competition and keep themselves flush. By contrast, the more authentic free-market practices of the past several decades, Mr. Lindsey argues, have improved the material lives not just of millionaires but of deliverymen, waitresses and teachers.

As for today's poor, they are less likely to suffer from hunger than from obesity, and they are able to afford such luxuries as cable television, washers and dryers, microwaves and cell phones primarily because of deregulated global markets. Instead of laboring in dangerous mines or steel mills, less skilled workers are security guards or restaurant workers. Such jobs are not exactly easy street, but they beat getting black-lung disease or third-degree burns.


 

Mr. Lindsey goes well beyond most libertarians in his claims for the moral benefits of the creed. In his view, it is not simply freedom that improves morals; it is the prosperity that follows in freedom's wake. Wealth allows us to transcend "the cruel dilemma of lifeboat ethics," in which scarcity prevails. Moreover, wealth expands human tolerance and imagination. Drawing upon the psychologist Abraham Maslow's theory of the hierarchy of needs, Mr. Lindsey proposes that once people are confident of their survival and comfort, they feel free to pursue "postmaterialist values." They have the time, energy and ease of mind to try to perfect themselves.
As a practical matter, this means that Americans no longer just take jobs to support their families; they look for meaningful work. They do not just marry the girl next door; they search for their soulmates. They do not just sink quietly into flabby middle age; they jog, go on yoga retreats in Costa Rica, and stock their bedrooms with Viagra and vibrators. Playboy, the decline of the Victorian paterfamilias, permissive childrearing, feminism, the sexual revolution, the fitness boom, gay rights and even the civil-rights revolution--all, in Mr. Lindsey's view, are logical outcomes of the age of abundance. The expanding marketplace has unleashed individual desire from traditional constraints in favor of an "ethos of self-realization and personal fulfillment."

Is Mr. Lindsey, then, just one more defender of everything that falls under the rubric of "the '60s"? Not exactly. He has read his Max Weber and knows that middle-class norms are the indispensable cultural infrastructure of free-market economics; he appreciates the irony that without Protestant self-discipline and respectability, Americans would not be enjoying their Napa Chardonnay and Internet porn. He thus condemns "the wild overshooting of the Aquarian Left," which (in addition to despising capitalism) "trashed . . . legitimate authority and necessary restraints." Indeed, in his view, the rise of the religious right was a predictable, and to some extent even salutary, response to the excesses of the '60s.

Fortunately, by the 1990s, Mr. Lindsey contends, Americans had found a middle ground between the antinomianism of the Aquarian left and the pinched moralizing of the Moral Majority. As he wrote recently in an online discussion of his book:


It turned out that the American Dream retained its vitality even in an age of abundance, because Americans still wanted more--more comforts, more conveniences, more opportunities, and more challenges, all of which were best provided through continued economic development. The strength of this desire, and not the fading hold of old cultural forms, provided the basis for ongoing commitment to middle-class self-restraint--self-restraint as a means to exuberant self-expression.
Americans, in Lindsey's view, have reached a noble synthesis. They are tolerant, open-minded, inclusive--and enthusiastic practitioners of free enterprise. "The culture wars are over," he concludes, "and capitalism won."

 
26760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / New Russian Bomb on: September 12, 2007, 05:22:06 PM
Nice post Buz. Changing subjects abruptly, the following seems to me to be highly significant.  This much power without the consequences of radiation-- this seems to me to be huge.

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


http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5j...mEEv9JMABhXmVw

Russia Tests Powerful 'Dad of All Bombs'

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV – 14 hours ago

MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian military has successfully tested what it described as the world's most powerful non-nuclear air-delivered bomb, Russia's state television reported Tuesday.

It was the latest show of Russia's military muscle amid chilly relations with the United States.

Channel One television said the new weapon, nicknamed the "dad of all bombs" is four times more powerful than the U.S. "mother of all bombs."

"The tests have shown that the new air-delivered ordnance is comparable to a nuclear weapon in its efficiency and capability," said Col.-Gen. Alexander Rukshin, a deputy chief of the Russian military's General Staff, said in televised remarks.

Unlike a nuclear weapon, the bomb doesn't hurt the environment, he added.

The statement reflected the Kremlin's efforts to restore Russia's global clout and rebuild the nation's military might while the ties with Washington have been strained over U.S. criticism of Russia's backsliding on democracy, Moscow's vociferous protests of U.S. missile defense plans, and rifts over global crises.

The U.S. Massive Ordnance Air Blast, nicknamed the Mother Of All Bombs, is a large-yield satellite-guided, air-delivered bomb described as the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in history.

Channel One said that while the Russian bomb contains 7.8 tons of high explosives compared to more than 8 tons of explosives in the U.S. bomb, it's four times more powerful because it uses a new, highly efficient type of explosives that the report didn't identify.

While the U.S. bomb is equivalent to 11 tons of TNT, the Russian one is equivalent to 44 tons of regular explosives. The Russian weapon's blast radius is 990 feet, twice as big as that of the U.S. design, the report said.

Like its U.S. predecessor, first tested in 2003, the Russian bomb is a "thermobaric" weapon that explodes in an intense fireball combined with a devastating blast. It explodes in a terrifying nuclear bomb-like mushroom cloud and wreaks destruction through a massive shock wave created by the air burst and high temperature.

Thermobaric weapons work on the same principle that causes blasts in grain elevators and other dusty places — clouds of fine particles are highly explosive. Such explosions produce shock waves that can be directed and amplified in enclosed spaces such as buildings, caves or tunnels.

Channel One said that the temperature in the epicenter of the Russian bomb's explosion is twice as high as that of the U.S. bomb.

The report showed the bomb dropped by parachute from a Tu-160 strategic bomber and exploding in a massive fireball. It featured the debris of apartment buildings and armored vehicles at a test range, as well as the scorched ground from a massive blast.

It didn't give the bomb's military name or say when it was tested.

Rukshin said the new bomb would allow the military to "protect the nation's security and confront international terrorism in any situation and any region."

"We have got a relatively cheap ordnance with a high strike power," Yuri Balyko, head of the Defense Ministry's institute in charge of weapons design, told Channel One.

Booming oil prices have allowed Russia to steadily increase military spending in recent years, and the Kremlin has taken a more assertive posture in global affairs.

Last month, President Vladimir Putin said he ordered the resumption of regular patrols of strategic bombers, which were suspended after the 1991 Soviet breakup.
==============

 While we're on the subject of thermobaric armaments

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

http://www.globalsecurity.org/milita...hermobaric.htm

Thermobaric Explosive

Volumetric weapons include thermobaric and fuel-air explosives (FAE). Both thermobaric and FAE operate on similar technical principles. In the case of FAE, when a shell or projectile containing a fuel in the form of gas, liquid or dustexplodes, the fuel or dust like material is introduced into the air to form acloud. This cloud is then detonated to create a shock wave of extended duration that produces overpressure and expands in all directions. In a thermobaric weapon, the fuel consists of a monopropellant and energetic particles. The monopropellant detonates in a manner simular to TNT while the particles burn rapidly in the surrounding air later in time, resulting an intense fireball and high blast overpressure. The term "thermobaric" is derived from the effects of temperature (the Greek word "therme" means "heat") and pressure (the Greek word "baros" means "pressure") on the target.

Thermobaric munitions have been used by many nations of the world and their proliferation is an indication of how effectively these weapons can be used in urban and complex terrain. The ability of thermobaric weapons to provide massed heat and pressure effects at a single point in time cannot be reproduced by conventional weapons without massive collateral destruction. Thermobaric weapon technologies provide the commander a new choice in protecting the force, and a new offensive weapon that can be used in a mounted or dismounted mode against complex environments.

The USAF and USN are actively pursuing conventional weapons technology to destroy Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (NBC) and support/storage facilities while retaining or destroying the agents within the structure and minimizing collateral damage including fatalities. Thermobaric weapons use high-temperature incendiaries against chemical and biological facilities. The USN is working on an Inter-Halogen Oxidizer weapon while the USAF is pursuing a solid fuel-air explosive using aluminum particles. Both of these weapons use an incineration technique to defeat and destroy the CB agents within the blast area.

The Thermobaric Weapon Demonstration is a proposed Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD). Under this program, prototype weapons are to be tested under operational conditions for their performance, and leave-behinds are to be delivered to the customer. The program aims to develop a validated means of delivery to/into a tunnel adit [entrance]. Technical risks include the extent to which candidate thermobaric payloads do not perform substantially better than existing high explosives in tunnels.

The Thermobaric [TB] Weapon Demonstration will develop a weapon concept that is based on a new class of solid fuel-air explosive thermobarics.The weapon could be used against a certain type of tunnel targets for a maximum functional kill of the tunnels.

Most of the Hard and/or Deeply Buried Targets (HDBTs), namely tunnels in rock, are so deep that the developmental and current inventory weapons cannot penetrate to sufficient depths to directly destroy critical assets. One of the warfighter's options is to attack the tunnel portals with weapons that penetrate the thinner layer of rock above the portal, or though the exterior doors, resulting in a detonation within the tunnel system. Penetrations through the door systems have the potential to place the warheads deep within the facility. Detonations within a tunnel, even only in a few diameters, have a significant increase in airblast propagation into the facility compared to external detonations. Tunnel layouts range from long, straight tunnels to various types of intersections, expansions, constrictions, chambers, rooms, alcoves, and multiple levels. All of these configurations affect the propagation of airblast.

Air blast propagation within a tunnel system has the potential to cause significant damage to critical equipment and systems. If the critical equipment within a facility can be damaged or destroyed, then the function of the facility can be degraded or destroyed, resulting in a functional kill. Depending on the purpose of the facility and the level of damage, a functional kill can be as permanent as a "structural kill," in which the facility is destroyed in a more traditional manner.

Functional kill from air blast loads is predicated on the ability to accurately determine the blast environment from an internal detonation. The response of critical equipment cannot be calculated without accurate blast loads. Unlike free-field blast loads, a detonation within a tunnel system can have a significant dynamic pressure component. This dynamic pressure component, in conjunction with the overpressure component, makes up the entire pressure-loading history necessary to predict component response.

Thermobaric compositions are fuel rich high explosives that are enhanced through aerobic combustion in the third detonation event. Performance enhancement is primarily achieved by addition of excess metals to the explosive composition. Aluminum and Magnesium are the primary metals of choice. The detonation of Composite Explosives can be viewed as three discrete events merged together. All three explosive events can be tailored to meet system performance needs:

1. The initial anaerobic detonation reaction, microseconds in duration, is primarily a redox reaction of molecular species. The initial detonation reaction defines the system’s high pressure performance characteristics: armor penetrating ability.


2. The post detonation anaerobic combustion reaction, hundreds of microseconds in duration, is primarily a combustion of fuel particles too large for combustion in the initial detonation wave. The post detonation anaerobic reaction define the system’s intermediate pressure performance characteristics: Wall/Bunker Breaching Capability.


3. The post detonation aerobic combustion reaction, milliseconds in duration, is the combustion of fuel rich species as the shock wave mixes with surrounding air. The post detonation aerobic reaction characteristics define the system’s personnel / material defeat capability: Impulse and Thermal Delivery. Aerobic combustion requires mixing with sufficient air to combust excess fuels. The shock wave pressures are less than 10 atmospheres. The majority of aerobic combustion energy is available as heat. Some low pressure shock wave enhancement can also be expected for personnel defeat. Personnel / material defeat with minimum collateral structure damage requires maximum aerobic enhancement and the highest energy practical fuel additives: Boron, Aluminum, Silicon, Titanium, Magnesium, Zirconium, Carbon, or Hydrocarbons.

Thermobaric materials can provide significantly higher total energy output than conventional high explosives. The majority of the additional energy is available as low pressure impulse and heat.
__________________

26761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 12, 2007, 04:14:44 PM
George Will is not a stupid man, nor a mindlessly negative one.  That said, this piece for me misses quite a bit of the forest.  First and foremost, it does not address Iraq in the larger context of the world wide war with Islamic Fascism (both Sunni and Shiite).  It does not address the issue of Iran and its ambitions, both nuclear and regional.  I do not follow his point when he writes "But these alliances of convenience might be inconvenient when Shiites again become the Sunnis' principal enemy."  He does not address the implications of Mooky Sadr pulling his forces from the field of battle in Baghdad.  And a bright guy like GW surely knows the WMD was only one of the reasons for the war-- and the one chosen to justify it to the UN.  Go back to President Bush's speeches before we went to the UN and you will find much more than that.

The Sunnis are now with us due to a) they had their fill of AQ b) they are worried about the Shia and Iran. 

It is quite an accomplishment for our policy, no less real for the failure of GW and the rest of the chattering class to notice it, that the Arab/Muslim world sees the Iraqi Sunnis turn on AQ.  With that step accomplished and with Mooky Sadr, at least momentarily on the sidelines, can we accomplish something similar with the Shia?  What of the implications of our recent moves with the British to interdict Iran's supplies to its agents in the south?  Can we begin to strangle the nuts/agents of Iran amongst the Iraqi Shia in the south?

I DON'T KNOW-- but I think that in this piece at this moment GW is simply another member of the chattering class of Washington who thinks himself profound because he cleverly filters the intellectual detrius of vapors of our nation's capital.

I close with this from Michael Yon in Iraq.  I have the highest respect for MY and support his presence their financially:

Greetings:

Successes are occurring, and accruing, in Iraq. Al Qaeda is still a powerful enemy, but they cannot be happy with their Iraqi franchise this summer.

Readers of my dispatches have gotten first hand reports of the kinds of positive indicators that General David Petraeus described in his progress report.

The atmosphere is changing in Iraq and I've been posting dispatches and videos that illustrate just how profound this change is in some cases.

I was the first to say Iraq was in civil war, and many readers were angry to hear me say it. Well, I'll be the first to say that I predict some sort of milestone for the war in Iraq will occur early in the next year. It's dangerous to predict like this, but something fundamental has changed in Iraq.

There is one important qualifier: this will only happen if General David Petraeus is supported by our elected officials to implement his proposed plan, without meddling from those same elected officials. Oversight and accountability are not the same thing as backseat driving after siphoning out half of the gas tank.

Please read: Hunting Al Qaeda http://www.michaelyon-online.com/wp/hunting-al-qaeda-part-i-of-iii.htm

v/r
Michael
26762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 12, 2007, 03:57:35 PM
I haven't had time to post about the brewing brouhaha between Israel and Syria, with commentary by Turkey but from the following Stratfor report it appears that Israel has taken out one of the recently provided Russian anti-aircraft positions in Syria.  The Ruskis have been selling AA capability to Iran too, so I'm guessing there has been some close consultation between Israel and the Pentagon about all this.

  SYRIA: Syria could be planning a military response to the alleged Israeli airstrike in northern Syria on Sept. 6, the Kuwait-based Al Jareeda reported. The report also says a Syrian delegation met recently with top Hezbollah and Hamas officials to draw up a retaliation plan, and that the Syrian army has started drafting reservists in response to Israel's raised alert levels in the north. Israel-based newspaper Al Sinara reported Sept. 12 that the Israeli air force hit a Syrian-Iranian missile base, which was supposedly destroyed.
26763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: September 12, 2007, 12:30:10 PM
"Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not." 
 ~ Thomas Jefferson
   
(This is why Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton wants gun
control so badly! ) 
   
FIREARMS REFRESHER COURSE
1.  An armed man is a citizen.  An unarmed man is a subject.
2.  A gun in the hand is better than a cop on the phone.
3.  Colt:  The original point and click interface.
4.  Gun control is not about guns; it's about control.
5.  If guns are outlawed, can we use swords?
6.  If guns cause crime, then pencils cause misspelled words.
7.  Free men do not ask permission to bear arms.
8.  If you don't know your rights, you don't have any.
9.  Those who trade liberty for security have neither.
10.  The United States Constitution (c)1791.  All Rights Reserved.
11.  What part of "shall not be infringed" do you not understand?
12.  The Second Amendment is in place in case the politicians ignore
the others.
13.  64,999,987 firearms owners killed no one yesterday.
14.  Guns only have two enemies; rust and politicians.             
15.  Know guns, know peace, know safety.  No guns, no peace, no
safety.         
16.  You don't shoot to kill; you shoot to stay alive.
17.  911:  Government sponsored Dial-a-Prayer.             
18.  Assault is a behavior, not a device.
19.  Criminals love gun control; it makes their jobs safer.
20.  If guns cause crime, then matches cause arson.
21.  Only a government that is afraid of its citizens tries to
control them.
22.  You have only the rights you are willing to fight for.
23.  Enforce the gun control laws we ALREADY have; don't make more.
24.  When you remove the people's right to bear arms, you create
slaves.
25.  The American Revolution would never have happened with gun
control.
               
IF YOU AGREE, PASS THIS "REFRESHER" ON TO TEN FREE CITIZENS.
   

"Calling an illegal alien an "undocumented immigrant" is like calling a
drug dealer an "unlicensed pharmacist."

IF YOU DON'T STAND BEHIND OUR TROOPS, PLEASE, FEEL FREE TO STAND IN
FRONT OF THEM !!!
26764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Wolves, Dogs and other canines on: September 12, 2007, 12:01:39 PM
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,504508,00.html
CANINE SMARTS
Behavioral Science Turns to Dogs for Answers
By Julia Koch

For a long time, domesticated dogs were seen as just the slobbering, dumbed-down ancestor of the wild wolf. Dogs, though, have learned a few tricks of their own through the millennia -- and can teach us a lot about ourselves.

Guinness the border collie loves the program. Flip on the monitor, and she can sit for hours watching the colorful images flitting across the screen -- like a teenager in front of a Playstation. As soon as the images change she presses the touch screen with her nose. If she selects the correct one of two photos, a piece of dry dog food automatically drops down to her feet. If she selects the wrong one, the screen turns red for a moment, and then the exercise continues.


PHOTO GALLERY: BRILLIANT MUTTS
   Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (10 Photos)

Guinness, though, rarely makes mistakes. She can identify different landscapes, and picking out dog breeds, likewise, doesn't present much of a challenge. She's even adept at choosing human faces. "It's only when she is supposed to recognize the same face in different photos that she makes a lot of mistakes," explains Friederike Range, a biologist at the University of Vienna.

Guinness isn't the only dog able to master these image experiments. Since the university's "Clever Dog Lab" opened its doors in a ground floor apartment in Vienna's Ninth District in April, the city's dog owners have inundated the place. "So far only one or two animals have shown no interest in the computer," says Range. "For most of them it's a blast."

What may seem like simple amusement for Guinness and her fellow canines is in fact revolutionizing cognitive research. Range is the first animal researcher to attempt to lure domestic dogs to a touch screen. Scientists in her field have spent decades working with pigeons pecking at pictures, conversing with apes using brightly colored touch symbols, and listening in on the grunting noises made by seals. But the talents of Canis familiaris remained largely unexplored.

Smarter than Apes?

For serious scientists, Lassie and her friends were deemed little more than dumbed-down ancestors of the wolf, degenerated into panting morons by millennia of breeding. But a younger generation of researchers has set out to restore the reputations of our beloved pets. "Dogs can do things that we long believed only humans had mastered," says Juliane Kaminski of the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Evolutionary Anthropology in the eastern German city of Leipzig.


FROM THE MAGAZINE
 Find out how you can reprint this DER SPIEGEL article in your publication. It is precisely their proximity to people -- which disqualified our four-legged friends as a model for so long -- that now makes them interesting to animal researchers. "When it comes to understanding human behavior, no mammal comes even close to the dog," says Kaminski. Her Leipzig research team has demonstrated that dogs are far better than the supposedly clever apes at interpreting human gestures.

The researchers held two containers, one empty and the other containing food, in front of chimpanzees and dogs. Then they pointed to the correct container. The canines understood the gesture immediately, while the apes, genetically much more closely related to humans, were often perplexed by the pointing finger.

That's not all. Many dogs were even capable of interpreting the researcher's gaze. When the scientists looked at a container, the dogs would search inside for food, but when they looked in the direction of the container but focused on a point above it on the wall, the dogs were able to understand that this was not meant as a sign.

Follow the Finger

Dogs are so geared toward communication with people that it seems to run in their genes. For a still-unpublished study, Kaminski and her fellow researchers repeated the pointing experiment with six-week-old puppies. Astonishingly, even the puppies understood immediately that it was worth investigating the area the human finger was pointing to.

"Puppies are still with their mother at six weeks. The phase in which they are most susceptible to human influence only begins after that," explains Kaminski. Her conclusion is that the animals must already have the innate ability to interpret human gestures.

In a complex experiment, Adám Miklósi, a biologist at the Hungarian Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest and one of the pioneers of modern dog research, demonstrated that wolves, on the other hand, lack these communicative abilities, nor are they capable of learning them. He had 13 of his students each raise one wolf puppy. The students fed the wolves with bottles, took them home and onto the subway, and taught them to walk on a leash and respond to basic commands.


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 After a few months the researchers had the young wolves and a group of young dogs attempt the same task. First both groups were taught to remove a piece of meat from a container. After a while, the investigators closed the containers. While the young wolves kept trying to get to the food, the dogs stopped immediately, sat down in front of their human trainers and stared at them.

"The wolves were only interested in the meat," says Miklósi, "and, of course, so were the dogs, but apparently they knew that they would reach their goal more quickly by communicating with the people."

MPI researcher Kaminski believes "that dogs can show us how simple mechanisms can enable highly complex understanding." Human beings also had to learn highly developed communication over the course of the millennia, which leads the MPI researchers to hope that the dog can in fact teach his owners a great deal about their own history. "If two remotely related species have similar characteristics, they probably developed as a result of comparable evolutionary processes," says Michael Tomasello, one of Kaminski's colleagues.

Even more attractive for researchers: dogs are easy to study. "The great advantage of dogs is that we can study them in their natural habitat without any great effort," explains Adám Miklósi.
==========
Behavioral Science Turns to Dogs for Answers
By Julia Koch

Part 2: How Your Dog and Your Kid Are Similar


Kaminski's Leipzig team attracted a lot of attention three years ago with their report on Rico, an exceptional border collie who was able to tell more than 200 different toys apart. Even more astonishing was the fact that he learned new concepts using the same principle with which young children learn the meaning of new words. Since then the owners of a number of dogs with similar abilities have contacted the institute in Leipzig. Apparently Rico the memory genius was not an isolated case.


PHOTO GALLERY: BRILLIANT MUTTS
   Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (10 Photos)

Partly because of such sensational stories, dog research has "literally exploded" in recent years, says Britta Osthaus, a psychologist with the University of Exeter in Great Britain. Osthaus is examining whether dogs have a basic understanding of physical processes and can think logically.

Biologist Range is mainly interested in finding out which learning strategies dogs use. Using a touch screen, she wants to test whether the animals can transfer information from the screen to reality and whether, like people, they learn by a process of elimination. "The dog is just beginning to become a model organism for animal psychology," says Range, "and there is so much left to study."

Follow Guinness

Range has already shown that dogs use a learning strategy -- selective imitation -- that, until recently, was believed to be unique to human children once they turned a year old. She taught her own dog to push a handle to open a food dispenser. Every dog would instinctively use its snout to push on such a device. But Guinness was only rewarded when she used her paw.


FROM THE MAGAZINE
 Find out how you can reprint this DER SPIEGEL article in your publication. Once Guinness had learned the technique, individual dogs were brought in to observe her. If Guinness had a ball in her mouth, so that it was obvious that she could not use her snout, most of the observers pushed on the handle with their snouts. But when they saw Guinness without a ball they usually used their paws. If Guinness chose the more difficult method for no apparent reason, the dogs apparently concluded that there must be some advantage to this behavior.

Young children behave in a similar way. If they observe an adult activating a light switch with his forehead instead of his hands, they only imitate the behavior if the adult's hands are free. In other words, they are clearly, and deliberately, choosing the eccentric method. But if the adult uses his forehead because he has his hands full, most of the children flick the switch with their hand.

It is no coincidence that the domestic dog's ascent to stardom in behavioral research coincides with its career as a lifestyle accessory. "In the past, dogs were mainly trained to obey, and many things were simply forbidden," says Range. "But if a dog only dares to breathe when his owner allows him to, it's difficult to study his cognitive abilities."

Border Collies Outclass them All

Nowadays dog owners send their beloved pets to agility training, where they balance on ramps and crawl through tubes. Some dogs attend "dog dancing" sessions, and puppy training has become all the rage. "Dog education has changed," says Range.

With this change comes clear evidence of cognitive differences. The breeds that were used for hunting or as herding dogs only a few dog generations ago have proven to be especially clever. Border collies like Rico and Guinness would probably be happiest watching over their own herds of sheep. "They simply want to work," says Range. American dog researcher Stanley Coren is convinced that the border collie is the most intelligent of the roughly 400 breeds of dog.

Judging by the numbers of volunteers who show up at Range's dog behavior laboratory, many owners are convinced that their dogs are exceptionally gifted. Range gets two to three inquiries a week from dog owners wanting to test their dogs for intelligence. The Leipzig researchers already have about 1,000 potential test dogs in their database.

"There is a village near Exeter where I now know every dog," says British researcher Osthaus. This is surprising, because her experiments are usually frustrating for dog lovers. "It's almost embarrassing to me, but with my experiments I tend to run up against the limits of dog intelligence."


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 Osthaus recently placed a trellis in her laboratory. The test dog was placed on one side of the trellis and the owner on the other. The animal was able to see its owner through the gaps in the trellis, and an opening was easily visible at one end of the trellis, which was several meters long.

And Cats?

After the dogs had slipped through the opening several times, Osthaus moved the barrier so that the opening was now on the opposite side of the room. "All 20 dogs ran to the wrong side first," says Osthaus. Apparently habit trumps canine common sense. A Doberman simply sat down where the opening had been, while another dog even tried to run through the trellis.

As clever as dogs are when it comes to all things relating to their masters, they fail miserably when logic comes into play. For example, dogs can pull a string to drag a piece of meat out of a box. But when Osthaus placed two pieces of string in a crisscross pattern, they always pulled on the string that led in a straight line to the meat. "They simply do not understand the connection through the string," says Osthaus.

Another experiment the Exeter psychologist performed offers some consolation to dog lovers. Osthaus repeated the test with a group of cats, a species that loves playing with strings. The cats, says Osthaus, "did far worse than the dogs."

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan







26765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 12, 2007, 11:19:31 AM
Gingrich hints of White House bid

September 12, 2007

By Ralph Z. Hallow - Newt Gingrich is moving closer to a presidential nomination bid in a severely divided Republican Party.

"I will decide based on whether I have about $30 million in committed campaign contributions and whether I think it is possible to run a campaign based on ideas rather than 30-second sound bites," the former House speaker told The Washington Times yesterday.

Many Republicans, regardless of whether they agree with his views, regard him as conservatism's brainiest and most-engaging politician.

"The party believes ideas have consequences, and no one articulates our message better than Newt," said Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saulius "Saul" Anuzis.

Party strategist Tom Edmonds says Mr. Gingrich "is intellectually superior, but his challenge will be to stay focused." The first deadline for a Gingrich move is Oct. 15, when prospective and declared presidential nomination candidates must pay $500 to Utah to be on the state's primary ballot, said Gingrich confidant Randy Evans.

Mr. Gingrich is careful not to commit formally to a run.

"I will conduct workshops around the country through September 30, after which I will make a decision," he told The Times after a major policy address at the American Enterprise Institute.

Another factor is whether any current contender coalesces Republican voters before the middle of next month.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson and Rudolph W. Giuliani are each commanding a quarter of likely primary voters, while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain of Arizona each have about 12 percent support in the latest Rasmussen national poll of more than 600 likely Republican primary voters.

By contrast, 41 percent of Democrats in the same poll already have coalesced around New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama at 20 percent and John Edwards at 17 percent.

Some social conservatives have moved to Mr. Thompson's side. They worry about further splitting the conservative vote. Pollster Scott Rasmussen says conservatives constitute about 60 percent of the party's primary voters.

"If we split the conservative vote, Rudy wins," says Free Congress Foundation President Paul M. Weyrich. "I have high regard for Newt. ... He would force the other candidates to face issues they don't want to face up to."

Mr. Gingrich has been getting his message out through policy addresses at the American Enterprise Institute, considered a major center of neoconservative ideas, and through a series of online workshops for his American Solutions for Winning the Future.

He says American Solutions is a nonpartisan effort "to defend America and our allies abroad and defeat our enemies, to strengthen and revitalize America's core values, and to move the government into the 21st century." Six years after the attacks of September 11, "we are having the wrong debate about the wrong report," Mr. Gingrich said in his AEI speech on Monday, the day Gen. David H. Petraeus gave Congress his report on the state of the Iraq war.

Mr. Gingrich figures he would need at least $30 million to conduct competitive television-ad campaigns in the first five primary and caucus states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and perhaps Florida or Michigan. The primary calendar is still up in the air.

"If this election is about money and structure, then we already know who our nominee is," said Mr. Evans, alluding to the well-organized and financed Giuliani and Romney campaigns. "If it's about ideas and a movement, then we may not know who our nominee is for a long time to come, because nobody has yet tapped into the core coalition of Americans who have a vision of where they think America should go."

Mr. Gingrich has proposed an informal committee of congressional lawmakers from both parties "to meet every two weeks with the next president" that would foster far less partisanship. He also proposed setting the budget for defense and intelligence at 5 percent of the nation's total economic output, almost double what President Bush settled for in 2002.
26766  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tony Felix seminar on: September 12, 2007, 09:14:07 AM
I look forward to training with you again  cool
26767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: September 12, 2007, 09:12:51 AM
"Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public
happiness."

-- George Washington (First Annual Message, 8 January 1790)

Reference: George Washington: A Collection, W.B. Allen, ed. (469)
26768  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / A Father's Question on: September 12, 2007, 12:26:47 AM
Woof All:

My son has just started third grade and amongst the paperwork provided is a Parent-Student handbook.  Amongst the many areas for rules and regulations are:

Racial/Ethnic Sensitivity
Controlled Substances
Weapons
Sexual Harassment

Most of these rules are quite sensible, but some have overtones of PC Nannyism. (In other areas such as Playground Rules, the Nanny State is on a full rampage)

The reason I am posting here concerns the page "Student Behavior/Discipline Procedures".  In relevant part it reads as follows:

"Although positive reinforcement and modeling are our primary tools regarding student behavior, there are times when students need to understand that there are consequences for their actions. , , ,
"Students will usually be warned , , , on the first offense.  Warnings will not be given regarding fighting, theft, destruction of property, and defiance.  On these offenses a consequence will normally be issued on the first offense and will progress on succeeding offenses.
", , ,
"IN SITUATIONS THAT INVOLVE FIGHTING-- ALL STUDENTS WHO PARTICIPATE MAY RECEIVE CONSEQUENCES NO MATTER WHO STARTED IT. Self-defense is not an excuse to engage in a fight.  Students who feel compelled to fight due to harassment by another student must report the situation to one of the school's authorities.  The situation will then be mediated in a civilized manner.  PARENTS MUST NOT ENCOURAGE THEIR CHILDREN TO FIGHT TO DEFEND THEMSELVES.  This teaches children that when a problem cannot be resolved, it is OK to use physical force rather than reason, debate, discussion, mediation, etc. NO FORM OF FIGHTING WILL BE TOLERATED AT BERYL HEIGHTS FOR ANY REASON.
"Students many be recommended for expulsion from school to the governing board for continuation of offenses listed above and WILL BE RECOMMENDED FOR EXPULSION for possession of weapons or replica of weapons or narcotics or any controlled substance on the first offense.
", , , , A district policy has been established regarding all suspensions that include (sic) due process.

The part that triggers my posting here is this: "Self-defense is not an excuse to engage in a fight. , , ,PARENTS MUST NOT ENCOURAGE THEIR CHILDREN TO FIGHT TO DEFEND THEMSELVES".

Question Presented:  As a father, how do I respond?  What do I tell my son?

26769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 11, 2007, 11:56:37 PM
WE're drifting a bit far afield here.  If you want to address these matters, the Mexico-US thread or the Immigration thread are the places for it.
26770  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Lonely Dog DVD plans? on: September 11, 2007, 11:51:51 PM
Woof Tom:

As evinced by Ajarn Salty's KK DVD and Guro Lonely's DVDs for us (the conditioning program to which you refer is a Vid-lesson available to members of the DBMA Ass'n), my joint DVDs with Gabe Suarez-- not to mention the first series by Top Dog!-- you can see that DBMA is not the "Marc Denny Style".  Indeed, "DBMA is a system of many styles dedicated to the proposition of smuggling concepts across the frontiers of style with a mission statement of walking as a warrior for all our days" (c) 

We have several projects in the pipeline at the moment.  "DLO 2: Bringing a gun to a knife fight" featuring Gabe and me should be out in the next couple of weeks, then in fairly short order "Dos Triques" (featuring me) should follow.  "Palm Stick" featuring Guro Lonely has already been shot, but needs coordinating with "Short Impact Weapons" by me.  In the works are "Kali Tudo Clinch", "Kali Tudo Ground", "DLO 3: Empty Hand vs. Knife" and several others.  There is also a project featuring Poi Dog in the beginning stages.

Stay tuned! 

The Adventure continues,
Guro Crafty

PS:  I want to be clear on something-- "His structure of KK to ground to everything in between" is not "his"-- it is Dog Brothers Martial Arts.


26771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: September 11, 2007, 06:48:35 PM


"How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely
prohibited, unless we could could prohibit, in like manner,
the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?"

-- James Madison (Federalist No. 41, 1788)
26772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Turkey on: September 11, 2007, 06:35:48 PM
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6988697.stm

Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 September 2007, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK

Police in Turkey's capital, Ankara, have prevented a large bomb from exploding, the city's governor said.
Sniffer dogs detected a van stuffed with explosives in the centre of the city, preventing a "possible catastrophe", Governor Kemal Onal said.

Security had been tightened in the city ahead of the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

Bomb attacks against the UK consulate, a bank and synagogues in Istanbul killed more than 60 people in 2003.

Six people were killed in Ankara in May by a suicide bomb blamed on Kurdish separatists.

'Meticulous police work'

Ankara's governor said a large quantity of explosives had been left in the van which had a false licence plate.

It was parked in a multi-storey garage in Kurtulus, a densely populated area of central Ankara.

The garage and nearby houses and businesses were evacuated while the police bomb squad worked to defuse the explosives.

"The meticulous work of the police averted a possible catastrophe," said Mr Onal.

"I do not even want to think about what would have happened if the attack had succeeded."

Security fears were heightened elsewhere in Europe as police in Germany moved to help secure Spangdahlen USAFE, air base after a bomb threat was made by telephone.
26773  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: September 11, 2007, 06:09:36 PM
This old dog always like a three minute fight and the challlenge of accomplishing all  four of the following categories in one fight:

1) hit him well in outer range
2) close scientifically and
3) take him down to
4) finish him on the ground too.

These whippersnappers today , , , , cheesy grin
26774  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Islamo-fascismo en Latino America on: September 11, 2007, 02:10:31 PM
?Alguien tiene mas informacion sobre este caso?

http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/...109110031/1003

Ten Iraqi citizens with forged passports and documents are in a Peruvian prison after an apparent bid to enter the United States on a flight to Los Angeles, officials here say.

An 11th Iraqi man thought to be part of the group is at large.

One of the men arrested is thought to have links to al Qaeda, said Peruvian National Police Col. Roberto Lujan, who is leading the investigation.

The capture of the 10 in this Andean nation raises the specter of a smuggling ring that could touch neighboring Ecuador.

The plot unfolded on June 21, when three Iraqis entered Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima attempting to board a flight to Los Angeles.

Airline officials alerted police after two of the men holding Dutch passports could not speak Dutch. Citizens of the Netherlands are not required to hold a visa to enter the United States.

Police detained the suspects and learned that another group of Iraqis had been en route to the airport.

"The others were slowed by traffic on their way to the airport," Col. Lujan said. "When they arrived, they apparently saw what was happening and left."


None of the three Iraqis arrested in the airport spoke Spanish. One gave police the name of a 40-year-old Spanish-speaking Iraqi citizen named Rafid Joboo Pati, the group"s reputed leader.


Police said the Iraqis entered Peru on May 11 and passed through the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Ecuador without authorities noticing that their documents were fake.


Peruvian intelligence units spent several days watching Mr. Pati, who was residing in the upscale Lima neighborhood Miraflores, Col. Lujan said. Others thought to be part of the smuggling ring also were watched.


On the night of July 17, police raided three apartments where the suspects were living and arrested seven persons, including Mr. Pati.


Mr. Pati confirmed that all of the suspects were Iraqis. Two had Dutch passports, two carried Ecuadoran identification and two held Iraqi passports, police said. Mr. Pati carried an Ecuadoran passport, Col. Lujan said.


Authorities found no weapons but seized a laptop computer and cell phones that they turned over to Interpol in France.


An 11th person was not in the apartment at the time of the raid and is at large, officials said.


Those detained are brothers Dane-K-Mansour, 26, and Nail Mansour, 29, Mushtaq-y-Hana, 24, Loayi-s-Elda, 29, Jaboo Pati-Rafid, 40, Adelmika Homow, 61, Salema Hazim, 53, Ala Tomina, 30, Istab Hekmat, 28, and Rafid Joboo Pati, 40.


"The Iraqis refused to give the name of the missing individual," Col. Lujan said.


Interpol advised Peruvian police that two of the Dutch passports were reported stolen last year.


"We have been told by Interpol sources in Lima that fingerprints of one of the men carrying a Dutch passport have been sent to Baghdad and is thought to have links to al Qaeda," Col. Lujan said, adding that he could not identify the man for security reasons.


All are detained at Lima"s Lurigancho prison. They are prohibited from giving interviews to the press.


The suspects were not employed during their stay in the high-end neighborhood, authorities said.


"Someone was funding them but we do not know who yet," Col. Lujan said, adding that his department is working on the investigation with U.S. officials and Interpol.


"We are very satisfied with how the Peruvian authorities are handling the matter," said Sam Wunder, a U.S. Embassy spokesman in Lima. "We are very interested in finding out more about these people."


U.S. officials in Washington would not comment on the investigation because it is continuing.


Col. Lujan rejected a theory that the men could be Chaldean Christians, a group said to frequently attempt entry to the United States on claims of religious persecution in Iraq.


"These people were not part of a group," he said. "Besides the brothers, they did not even know each other."


One man was arrested while clutching a flag of unknown origin. A photo shows the flag to have a white background with four squiggly blue and red lines converging onto a four-pointed light blue symbol that is similar to those found on Chaldean flags.


Officials said they do not know whether other Iraqi smuggling rings have operated in the country. One police official who declined to be identified said he doubted the ring was still operating in Peru.


"They might be in Ecuador because they know we are looking for them here," Col. Lujan said.
26775  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Peru on: September 11, 2007, 01:19:08 PM
this is my buddy!  Love, Mom


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: fce14_@hotmail.com
To: jfrancoesm@hotmail.com
Subject:
Date: Mon, 3 Sep 2007 02:03:17 +0000


El último balance, en información de los bomberos, habla de más de 500 muertos y más de 1500 heridos
Una replica de 5,5 grados levanta el pánico en Perú
La tragedia de Perú no tiene fin, más bien al contrario. Una réplica de 5,5 grados en la escala de Richter, según el Instituto Geofísico del Perú (IGP), ha vuelto a estremecer hoy el departamento peruano de Ica, el más afectado por el temblor que el miércoles azotó Perú. Sin embargo, desde Estados Unidos se ha fijado esta nueva réplica en una magnitud de 6 grados. El último balance habla de más de 500 muertos y más de 1500 heridos. La ciudad de Pisco, de 130.000 habitantes, ha resultado dañada gravemente en un 70%.

"El principal problema es que Pisco prácticamente ya no existe". Así de contundente se ha mostrado en la Cadena Ser Julio Franco, jefe de operaciones de Bomberos Sin Fronteras en Pisco, una de las poblaciones más afectadas por el terremoto que sacudió ayer a Perú.
Pisco se enfrenta a su segunda noche en tinieblas, ya que aún no está restablecido el servicio eléctrico. La mayoría de sus habitantes han sido trasladados al estadio de la ciudad. Los ciudadanos temen que grupos de delincuentes intenten perpetrar robos y saqueos. El Ejército ha intervenido en la seguridad, para evitar "intentos de vandalismo", según ha explicado el presidente del Consejo de Ministros, Jorge del Castillo.
El jefe de operaciones de Bomberos Sin Fronteras en Pisco, Julio Franco, ha explicado para la SER la delicada situación que se vive en la ciudad peruana: “Todo está destrozado. Todo ha sido barrido. La Iglesia se vino abajo. Tratar de narrarlo es sumamente difícil, pero lo último que perdemos es la esperanza”.
Julio Franco ha contado cómo se desarrollan las labores de rescate y mostró su esperanza de encontrar a alguien con vida: “Estamos trabajando con unidades caninas y con un batallón de ingenieros para no tocar donde no se debe”.La noche, en los edificios públicos
El presidente peruano ha solicitado a los alcaldes que abran los edificios públicos para evitar que los damnificados pasen la noche a la intemperie.
Los afectados por el seísmo se han quejado de la lentitud y la mala distribución de la ayuda humanitaria. Jorge del Castillo ha admitido que está produciéndose retrasos el reparto de esta ayuda, pero aclaró que esto se ha debido a que los envíos por carretera se han demorado por los graves daños que ha sufrido la Panamerica Sur.
Mientras, las labores se centran en la desesperada búsqueda de supervivientes sin servicios básicos y problemas de comunicación. Los departamentos más afectados, el de Ica y Cañete, han sido declarados zona de emergencia por el gobierno. Los equipos de rescate trabajan contrarreloj, especialmente en Ica y Pisco, y se hace todo lo posible para hacer llegar a la mayor brevedad la ayuda humanitaria.
Desde Lima han partido varios aviones hacia la zona más afectada con varias toneladas de comida, mantas, tiendas de campaña y medicamentos, y su distribución será coordinada desde el área de la catástrofe. Además, se creará un puente aéreo con la capital para trasladar a los heridos con el fin de no saturar los hospitales de esta región. Una de las prioridades es restablecer el servicio de agua potable, para lo que ha solicitado grupos electrógenos para hacer que funcionen los pozos que pueden suministrar el agua a los damnificados.
368 RÉPLICAS
Por otro lado, desde que se produjera el primer temblor, se han sentido en Perú 368 réplicas, según el Instituto Geofísico de Perú. Por problemas en el servicio telefónico y una gran congestión en las líneas, las emisoras de radio se han convertido en un medio de enlace entre los peruanos que llaman desde distintos lugares del país para tener noticias de sus seres queridos.


26776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: "You go to war with the citizens you have, not the citizens you want." on: September 11, 2007, 01:12:52 PM
War, Psychology and Time
September 11, 2007 17 15  GMT



By George Friedman

There are moments in history when everything comes together. Today is the sixth anniversary of the al Qaeda attack against the United States. This is the week Gen. David Petraeus is reporting to Congress on the status of the war in Iraq. It also is the week Osama bin Laden made one of his rare video appearances. The world will not change this week, but the convergence of these strands makes it necessary to pause and take stock.

To do this, we must begin at the beginning. We do not mean Sept. 11, 2001, but the moment when bin Laden decided to stage the attack -- and the reasoning behind it. By understanding his motives, we can begin to measure his success. His motive was not, we believe, simply to kill Americans. That was a means to an end. Rather, as we and others have said before, it was to seize what he saw as a rare opportunity to begin the process of recreating a vast Islamic empire.

The rare opportunity was the fall of the Soviet Union. Until then, the Islamic world had been divided between Soviet and American spheres of influence. Indeed, the border of the Soviet Union ran through the Islamic world. The Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union created a tense paralysis in that world, with movement and change being measured in decades and inches. Suddenly, everything that was once certain became uncertain. One half of the power equation was gone, and the other half, the United States, was at a loss as to what it meant. Bin Laden looked at the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and saw a historical opening.

His problem was that contrary to what has been discussed about terrorist organizations, they cannot create an empire. What they can do is seize a nation-state and utilize its power to begin shaping an empire. Bin Laden had Afghanistan, but he understood that its location and intrinsic power were insufficient for his needs. He could not hope to recreate the Islamic empire from Kabul or Kandahar. For bin Laden's strategy to work, he had to topple an important Muslim state and replace it with a true Islamist regime. There were several that would have done, but we suspect his eye was on Egypt. When Egypt moves, the Islamic world trembles. But that is a guess. A number of other regimes would have served the purpose.

In bin Laden's analysis, the strength of these regimes also was their weakness. They were all dependent on the United States for their survival. This fit in with bin Laden's broader analysis. The reason for Muslim weakness was that the Christian world -- the Crusaders, as he referred to them -- had imposed a series of regimes on Muslims and thereby divided and controlled them. Until these puppet regimes were overthrown, Muslims would be helpless in the face of Christians, in particular the current leading Christian power, the United States.

The root problem, as bin Laden saw it, was psychological. Muslims suffered from a psychology of defeat. They expected to be weaker than Christians and so they were. In spite of the defeat of the atheist Soviets in Afghanistan and the collapse of their regime, Muslims still did not understand two things -- that the Christians were inherently weak and corrupt, and that the United States was simply another Crusader nation and their enemy.

The 9/11 attack, as well as earlier attacks, was designed to do two things. First, by striking targets that were well-known among the Muslim masses, the attack was meant to demonstrate that the United States could be attacked and badly hurt. Second, it was designed to get a U.S. reaction -- and this is what bin Laden saw as the beauty of his plan: If Washington reacted by doing nothing effective, then he could argue that the United States was profoundly weak and indecisive. This would increase contempt for the United States. If, on the other hand, the United States staged a series of campaigns in the Islamic world, he would be able to say that this demonstrated that the United States was the true Crusader state and the enemy of Muslims everywhere. Bin Laden was looking for an intemperate move -- either the continued impotent responses to al Qaeda attacks in the 1990s or a drastic assault against Islam. Either one would have done.

For the American side, 9/11 did exactly what it was intended to do: generate terror. In our view, this was a wholly rational feeling. Anyone who was not frightened of what was coming next was out of touch with reality. Indeed, we are always amused when encountering friends who feel the United States vastly exaggerated the implications of four simultaneous plane hijacks that resulted in the world's worst terrorist attack and cost thousands of lives and billions in damage. Yet, six years on, the overwhelming and reasonable fear on the night of Sept. 11 has been erased and replaced by a strange sense that it was all an overreaction.

Al Qaeda was a global -- but sparse -- network. That meant that it could be anywhere and everywhere, and that searching for it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. But there was something else that disoriented the United States even more. Whether due to disruption by U.S. efforts or a lack of follow-on plans, al Qaeda never attacked the United States again after 9/11. Had it periodically attacked the United States, the ongoing sense of crisis would not have dissipated. But no attack has occurred, and over the years, actions and policies that appeared reasonable and proportionate in 2001 began to appear paranoid and excessive. A sense began to develop that the United States had overreacted to 9/11, or even that the Bush administration used 9/11 as an excuse for oppressive behavior.

Regardless of whether he was a one-trick pony or he did intend, but failed, to stage follow-on attacks, the lack of strikes since 9/11 has turned out to be less damaging to bin Laden than to the Bush administration.

Years of vigilance without an indisputable attack have led to a slow but systematic meltdown in the American consensus that was forged white hot on Sept. 11. On that day, it was generally conceded that defeating al Qaeda took precedence over all other considerations. It was agreed that this would be an extended covert war in which the use of any number of aggressive and unpleasant means would be necessary. It was believed that the next attack could come at any moment, and that preventing it was paramount.

Time reshapes our memory and displaces our fears from ourselves to others. For many, the fevered response to 9/11 is no longer "our" response, but "their" response, the response of the administration -- or more precisely, the overreaction of the administration that used 9/11 as an excuse to wage an unnecessary global war. The fears of that day are viewed as irrational and the responsibility of others. Regardless of whether it was intentional, the failure of al Qaeda to mount another successful attack against the United States in six years has made it appear that the reaction to 9/11 was overblown.

The Bush administration, however, felt it could not decline combat. It surged into the Islamic world, adopting one of the strategies bin Laden hoped it would. There were many reasons for this, but part of it was psychological. Bin Laden wanted to show that the United States was weak. Bush wanted to demonstrate that the United States was strong. The secretary of defense at the time, Donald Rumsfeld, used the term "shock and awe." That was precisely the sense the United States wanted to deliver to the Islamic world. It wanted to call bin Laden's bet -- and raise it.

That was more than four years ago. The sense of shock and awe, if it was ever there, is long gone. Rather than showing the Islamic world the overwhelming power of the United States, the United States is now engaged in a debate over whether there is some hope for its strategy. No one is arguing that the war has been a slam dunk. Whatever the complex reasons for invading Iraq, and we have addressed those in detail, time has completely undermined the psychological dimension of the strategy. Four years into the war, no one is shocked and no one is awed. The same, it should be added, is true about Afghanistan.

Time has hammered the Bush administration in two ways. In the first instance -- and this might actually be the result of the administration's success in stopping al Qaeda -- there has been no further attack against the United States. The justification for the administration's measures to combat al Qaeda, therefore, is wearing thin. For many, a state of emergency without any action simply does not work after six years. It is not because al Qaeda and others aren't out there. It is because time wears down the imagination, until the threat becomes a phantom.

Time also has worn down the Bush administration's war in Iraq. The Islamic world is not impressed. The American public doesn't see the point or the end. What was supposed to be a stunning demonstration of American power has been a demonstration of the limits of that power.

The paradox is this: There has been no follow-on attack against the United States. The United States did dislodge Saddam Hussein and the Taliban, and while the war goes badly, the casualties are a small fraction of those lost in Vietnam. Most important, bin Laden's dream is gone. No Muslim state has been overthrown and replaced with a regime that bin Laden would find worthy. He has been marginalized by both the United States and by his rival Shiite radicals, who have picked up the mantle that he dropped. His own jihadist movement is no longer under his effective control.

Bin Laden has been as badly battered by time as Bush. Unable to achieve any of his political goals, unable to mount another attack, he reminds us of Che Guevara after his death in Bolivia. He is a symbol of rebellion for a generation that does not intend to rebel and that carefully ignores his massive failures.

Yet, in the end, Guevara and bin Laden could have become important only if their revolutions had succeeded. There is much talk and much enthusiasm. There is no revolution. Therefore, what time has done to bin Laden's hopes is interesting, but in the end, as a geopolitical force, he has not counted beyond his image since Sept. 11, 2001.

The effect on the United States is much more profound. The war, both in Iraq and against al Qaeda, has worn the United States down over time. The psychology of fear has been replaced by a psychology of cynicism. The psychology of confidence in war has been replaced by a psychology of helplessness. Exhaustion pervades all.

That is the single most important outcome of the war. What happens to bin Laden is, in the end, about as important as what happened to Guevara. Legends will be made of it -- not history. But when the world's leading power falls into the psychological abyss brought about by time and war, the entire world is changed by it. Every country rethinks its position and its actions. Everything changes.

That is what is important about the Petraeus report. He will ask for more time. Congress will give it to him. The president will take it. Time, however, has its price not only in war but also psychologically. And if the request for time leads to more failure and the American psychology is further battered, then that is simply more time that other powers, great and small, will have to take advantage of the situation. The United States has psychologically begun tearing itself apart over both the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq. Whatever your view of that, it is a fact -- a serious geopolitical fact.

The Petraeus report will not address that. It is out of the general's area of responsibility. But the pressing issue is this: If the United States continues the war and if it maintains its vigilance against attacks, how does the evolution of the American psyche play out?

stratfor.com
26777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 11, 2007, 11:48:31 AM
The 'See No Evil' Clinton Money Machine

Just how sloppy or reckless was the Hillary Clinton campaign when it came to dealing with disgraced donor Norman Hsu? Team Clinton still won't identify the donors "bundled" by Hsu, but yesterday it announced it was returning $850,000 to 260 contributors linked to the former fugitive. The turnaround came shortly after the Los Angeles Times uncovered emails between a California Democratic Party official and Samantha Wolf, Mrs. Clinton's campaign's finance director for the Western states. The state party official warned the Clinton campaign that he had heard Hsu was running a "Ponzi scheme" that threatened to bilk investors and should be treated with care. But Ms. Wolf was unmoved.

"I can tell you with 100 certainty that Norman Hsu is NOT involved in a ponzi scheme," she wrote. "He is COMPLETELY legit." This about a man who had been a fugitive for 15 years after pleading guilty to a grand theft charge and who had twice been bankrupt, including just before he returned to the U.S. from China in 1998 to start a strange new career as a high-stakes political power broker.

Nor is Ms. Wolf the only Clinton finance official who seems oblivious to the need to run a tight fundraising ship. Take Harold Ickes, former deputy chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, and now a top honcho in Team Hillary. In 2004, he ran Americans Coming Together, a George Soros-funded group that spent some $137 million trying to elect John Kerry and other Democrats.

It didn't take long to discover ACT was spending its money illegally on blatant electioneering, a violation of the group's tax status. In addition, much of the union money ACT spent on politics was a prohibited use of the forced dues payments of union members. Just last month, ACT was forced to pay $775,000 in fines to the Federal Election Commission, the third largest fine that agency has every imposed. The FEC took no further action, however, because ACT expressed an "intention to wind down and terminate its affairs."

But, of course, ACT is shutting down. Mr. Ickes has moved on to the main event: electing Hillary Clinton president. If the Hsu caper is any indication of how Team Clinton intends to carry on, I have no doubt the Federal Election Commission will eventually show an interest again. But, as Team Clinton well knows, by that time the 2008 election will be over.

-- John Fund
Political Journal/WSJ
26778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 11, 2007, 11:35:27 AM
Round Trip
September 11, 2007
Nawaz Sharif's triumphant return to Pakistan ended with a fizzle yesterday. Only a few hours after landing in Islamabad, the former Prime Minister was shuttled into a waiting aircraft and shipped back to Saudi Arabia. But that doesn't mean Pakistan's troubles are over; if anything, the domestic political environment may now get more complicated.

First it's important to remember that Mr. Sharif, like former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, isn't a democrat-in-waiting. Under his leadership in the 1990s, corruption in Pakistan flourished, the military was strengthened and the judiciary weakened. So even if Mr. Sharif had been allowed to return to Pakistan yesterday, as the Supreme Court had ordered, his presence was unlikely to have promoted the speedy return of democracy.

But by not allowing Mr. Sharif into the country, President Pervez Musharraf has set himself up for another possible confrontation with the courts that he can ill afford. Mr. Sharif's supporters have already shown themselves to be prone to violence; police fired teargas at a rowdy group outside the airport yesterday. They're not likely to be mollified by a government explanation of why Mr. Sharif "agreed" to go back to Saudi Arabia, where he's been living in exile since 2000.

All of which points to Mr. Musharraf's deepening dilemma: For a man reluctant to give up power, he's under increasing pressure both at home and abroad to move democracy forward. How he does that will determine the internal stability of this volatile nuclear state.

Mr. Musharraf's choices are quickly narrowing. He can either declare martial law or move toward an alliance with Ms. Bhutto. But the longer he waits, the harder it will be for Ms. Bhutto to rally her base around such a deal. Mr. Sharif may be out of the picture for now. But the repercussions of his round trip are just beginning.
WSJ
26779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: September 11, 2007, 11:29:25 AM
A Real 9/11 Cover-Up
By CYRUS NOWRASTEH
September 11, 2007; Page A18

A year ago today, ABC ran the docudrama I wrote, "The Path to 9/11," at the peak of a firestorm of political protest designed to discredit and shut down the miniseries before it aired. Left-leaning pundits, politicos and bloggers waxed hysterical about its supposed inaccuracies and anti-Clinton bias, though the vast majority of them had not seen it.

They were determined that no one else should see it, either. But they failed, and the miniseries garnered nearly 28 million viewers and seven Emmy nominations. One year later, however, there is another attempt to shut down "The Path to 9/11" -- this time the DVD version.

Despite what these would-be censors and the conspiracy theorists of the blogosphere fervently believed a year ago, the miniseries was never about Bill Clinton, the political left or right, but about our common enemy then and now: Islamist terrorism. It dramatizes a clearly linked chain of historical events, beginning with the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, continuing through the multiple attacks on American embassies and interests abroad, and culminating in the horrific attacks on American soil six years ago.

The miniseries depicts not only the institutionalized lapses and errors along the way, noted in the 9/11 Commission Report and other sources, but also the efforts of ordinary American heroes who did their best to defend this country from its enemies. Both the failures and the successes are historical facts, and neither the Clinton nor Bush administration is spared its failures or denied its successes in the miniseries, as its many millions of viewers can attest.

After the broadcast the controversy went away. The threatened lawsuits never materialized, and the attacks on the miniseries' credibility dissipated. Indeed, experts such as Michael Scheuer, former chief of the CIA's bin Laden unit, and Gary Schroen, the first American field agent into Afghanistan after 9/11, both came forward to confirm the accuracy of the docudrama.

The current battle against the DVD version is not taking place in a frenzy of unfounded accusations, but in silence. The normal time frame from broadcast to DVD for miniseries and movies is approximately four months. Originally I was told by ABC that the DVD release date would be in January. January came and went, and I was told June was the new release date. Then July. Now ABC's official statement is, "We have not decided on a release date at this time." No further explanation.

Privately, I was told by an ABC executive that "If Hillary weren't running for president, this wouldn't be a problem." The clear message is that ABC/Disney isn't eager to reopen the wound, or feel the pressure again from politicians anxious to whitewash their legacy. Executive Producer Marc Platt, a well-known Hollywood liberal, even had to finance the limited Emmy campaign himself because Disney/ABC refused to do so (unheard of for such a high-profile production). This passive self-censorship is just as effective as anything Joseph Stalin or Big Brother could impose. The result is the same: the curbing of free speech and creative expression, and the suppression of a viewpoint that may be an inconvenient truth for some politicians.

This was a $40 million project that, because of the overblown controversy, attracted no sponsors and thus made not a penny of profit from its broadcast. It is a quality production, both entertaining and educational, that has the potential to recoup a significant part of its cost, if not actually turn a profit, through the sales of an eagerly anticipated DVD. Does ABC/Disney not owe it to its shareholders to make this basic effort to reclaim some of their $40 million?

But profit, while not an insignificant consideration, is not at the heart of the matter here (certainly not for me personally, as I would make literally a fraction of a penny for each DVD sold). The issue is that corporate timidity is preventing millions of Americans from finding "The Path to 9/11" on DVD -- though other politically controversial movies are readily available, such as "Loose Change," which argues that the Bush administration targeted American citizens for death in an elaborate and sinister plot, or Michael Moore's unabashedly biased "Fahrenheit 9/11." These highly charged movies, which don't offer even a pretense of balance, and others can be found online or in retail outlets and DVD rental stores across the country -- and so they should be, just as "The Path to 9/11" should be.

Whatever one may think of the miniseries or of me as the writer, the American way is not to let the docudrama languish in a cowardly purgatory but to release it for the general public to judge. If there is controversy, all the more reason it should be made available for every American to decide for himself. In fact, I suggested to Disney executives that members of the Clinton administration be allowed to speak their piece in the DVD's special features, a suggestion which was met with -- that's right -- utter silence.

A year ago, the amped-up outcry preceding the airing of "The Path to 9/11" nearly drowned out the truth. This Sept. 11, it is the corporate silence regarding the DVD that is deafening.

Mr. Nowrasteh wrote the screenplay for "The Path to 9/11" and is one of its producers.

WSJ
26780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Christianity on: September 11, 2007, 11:20:16 AM
Here in southern California in the last couple of months we have seen the Catholic Church agree to settlements in the extraordinary accumulation of pedophile cases totally nearly ONE BILLION DOLLARS.  The LA Times in the last few days had a story (front page of the B section IIRC) telling how the Church is selling the home that has been occupied by a small order of nuns doing good deeds/charity work in Ventura County.  Most of the nuns were in their 60s and had been there for decades.  One expressed Love for her work and the Church, but expressed some disgruntlement that at 68 she had 60 days to get out so the Church could sell her convent to pay off the victims of pediphiliac (sp?) priests.

Anyway, I saw this bit on Stratfor this morning.  Celibacy is one challenging path , , ,

=========

ZIMBABWE: Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Pius Ncube, an opponent of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, the Vatican said. The state-owned Herald newspaper published compromising pictures of Ncube in July with another man's wife and accused him of adultery.
26781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 11, 2007, 10:16:46 AM

WSJ
Trashing Petraeus
MoveOn.org, and the new standards of Democratic debate.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Important as was yesterday's appearance before Congress by General David Petraeus, the events leading up to his testimony may have been more significant. Members of the Democratic leadership and their supporters have now normalized the practice of accusing their opponents of lying. If other members of the Democratic Party don't move quickly to repudiate this turn, the ability of the U.S. political system to function will be impaired in a way no one would wish for.

Well, with one exception. MoveOn.org, the Democratic activist group, bought space in the New York Times yesterday to accuse General Petraeus of "cooking the books for the White House." The ad transmutes the general's name into "General Betray Us."

"Betrayal," as every military officer knows, is a word that through the history of their profession bears the stain of acts that are both dishonorable and unforgivable. That is to say, MoveOn.org didn't stumble upon this word; it was chosen with specific intent, to convey the most serious accusation possible against General Petraeus, that his word is false, that he is a liar and that he is willing to betray his country. The next and obvious word to which this equation with betrayal leads is treason. That it is merely insinuated makes it worse.

MoveOn.org calls itself a "progressive" political group, but it is in fact drawn from the hard left of American politics and a pedigree that sees politics as not so much an ongoing struggle but a final competition. Their Web-based group is new to the political scene, but its politics are not so new. More surprising and troubling are the formerly liberal institutions and politicians who now share this political ethos.





In an editorial on Sunday, the New York Times, after saying that President Bush "isn't looking for the truth, only for ways to confound the public," asserted that "General Petraeus has his own credibility problems." We read this as an elision from George Bush, the oft-accused liar on WMD and all the rest, to David Petraeus, also a liar merely for serving in the chain of command. With this editorial, the Times establishes that the party line is no longer just "Bush lied," but anyone who says anything good about Iraq or our effort there is also lying. As such, the Times enables and ratifies MoveOn.org's rhetoric as common usage for Democrats.
Late last week, for instance, we heard it said of General Petraeus that, "He's made a number of statements over the years that have not proven to be factual." This was from Harry Reid, the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate.

The Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Lantos, said Thursday that General Petraeus would not be the author of his report; it would be written "by Administration political operatives." He opened yesterday's hearing, moments before General Petraeus was to speak, by saying, "We cannot take anything this Administration says on Iraq at face value."

So far, only two Democrats that we are aware of have repudiated this political turn. Joe Lieberman, already ostracized from the party for dissent, called the MoveOn ad an "act of slander that every member of the Congress--Democrat and Republican--has a solemn responsibility to condemn." And Joe Biden, after the MoveOn ad was read to him on "Meet the Press" Sunday, replied: "I don't buy into that. This is an honorable guy. He's telling the truth."

These are the exceptions. Another of the party's activist groups, Democracy for America, released a statement about the time General Petraeus began to speak: "It is offensive that our commander-in-chief has ordered a four-star general to mislead Congress."

As General Petraeus finished his statement yesterday, Senator Chris Dodd's Presidential campaign spammed an email about "the accuracy" of the report: "The fact that there are questions about General Petraeus's report is not surprising given that it was brought to you by this White House." Thus in Mr. Dodd's view, General Petraeus, returned from the Iraq battlefield, is a complicit ventriloquist's dummy.





Can this really be the new standard of political rhetoric across the Democratic Party? There was a time when the party's institutional elites, such as the Times, would have pulled it back from reducing politics to all or nothing. They would have blown the whistle on such accusations. Now they are leading the charge.
Under these new terms, public policy is no longer subject to debate, discussion and disagreement over competing views and interpretations. Instead, the opposition is reduced to the status of liar. Now the opposition is not merely wrong, but lacks legitimacy and political standing. The goal here is not to debate, but to destroy.

Today General Petraeus testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Its Democratic Members include Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Barack Obama, John Kerry, Barbara Boxer and Jim Webb. This would be the appropriate setting to apologize to General Petraeus for the MoveOn.org ad. Or let it stand.

26782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion on: September 11, 2007, 09:00:10 AM
Young Muslims begin dangerous fight for the right to abandon faith September 11, 2007

Young Muslims begin dangerous fight for the right to abandon faith



David Charter in The Hague

A group of young Muslim apostates launches a campaign today, the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America, to make it easier to renounce Islam.

The provocative move reflects a growing rift between traditionalists and a younger generation raised on a diet of Dutch tolerance.

The Committee for Ex-Muslims promises to campaign for freedom of religion but has already upset the Islamic and political Establishments for stirring tensions among the million-strong Muslim community in the Netherlands.

Ehsan Jami, the committee’s founder, who rejected Islam after the attack on the twin towers in 2001, has become the most talked-about public figure in the Netherlands. He has been forced into hiding after a series of death threats and a recent attack.

Related Links
'Whoever changes religion – kill him'
The threats are taken seriously after the murder in 2002 of Pim Fortuyn, an antiimmigration politician, and in 2004 of Theo Van Gogh, an antiIslam film-maker.

Speaking to The Times at a secret location before the committee’s launch today, the Labour Party councillor said that the movement would declare war on radical Islam. Similar organisations campaigning for reform of the religion have sprung up across Europe and representatives from Britain and Germany will join the launch in The Hague today.

“Sharia schools say that they will kill the ones who leave Islam. In the West people get threatened, thrown out of their family, beaten up,” Mr Jami said. “In Islam you are born Muslim. You do not even choose to be Muslim. We want that to change, so that people are free to choose who they want to be and what they want to believe in.”

Mr Jami, 22, who has abandoned his studies as his political career has taken off, denied that the choice of September 11 was deliberately provocative towards the Islamic Establishment. “We chose the date because we want to make a clear statement that we no longer tolerate the intolerence of Islam, the terrorist attacks,” he said.

“In 1965 the Church in Holland made a declaration that freedom of conscience is above hanging on to religion, so you can choose whether you are going to be a Christian or not. What we are seeking is the same thing for Islam.”

Mr Jami, who has compared the rise of radical Islam to the threat from Nazism in the 1930s, is receiving only lukewarm support from his party which traditionally relies upon Muslim votes. His outspoken attack on radical Islam has led to a prelaunch walk-out from fellow committee founder Loubna Berrada, who herself rejected Islam.

She said: “I don’t wish to confront Islam itself. I only want to spread the message that Muslims should be allowed to leave Islam behind without being threatened.”

There have been suggestions that Mr Jami might defect to the right-wing Freedom Party, led by Geert Wilders, the most outspoken politician in the Netherlands, who has called for the Koran to be banned. But Mr Jami said: “I have respect for Wilders but we do not have the same ideology. I am for the freedom of religion.

“Banning something is not going to help. I am the opposite – everyone should read the Koran.” Mr Jami is being compared to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali refugee who became a prominent Dutch politician campaigning for the reform of Islam but who left eventually for an academic career in the United States.

Jannie Groen, a writer for De Volksrant newspaper, said: “[Among Muslims] he is getting the same reaction as Ayaan Hirsi Ali that he is too confrontational but you are seeing other former Muslims now coming forward. So he has been able to put this issue of apostasy on the agenda, even though they do not want to be in the same room as him and he has had to pay a price.”

By the Book

— 14 passages in the Koran refer to apostasy

— According to Baidhawi’s commentary, Sura 4: 88-89 reads: “Whosoever turns back from his belief, openly or secretly, take him and kill him wheresoever ye find him, like any other infidel. Separate yourself from him altogether. Do not accept intercession in his regard.”

— The hadith, tradition and legend about Muhammad and his followers used as a basis of Sharia, tells of some atheists who were brought to “’Ali and he burnt them. The news of this reached Ibn Abbas who said: ‘If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s Apostate forbade it . . . I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostate, ‘Whoever changed his [Islamic] religion, then kill him’.”

— According to hadith, a special reward in Paradise is reserved for the killer of apostates

Source: Times archives; Barnabas Fund



Have your say

Young Muslims have a perfect right to follow their conscience so long as it isn't violent. Hooray for the non-violent young Muslims!!

Philip Saenz, Houston, USA-Texas

Allah is merciful, but his children ain't!

The Sanity Inspector, Atlanta, USA

The death penalty for apostates shows that the Koran is the creation of men, not God. A human ruler, such as a Caliph, cannot have significant numbers of his subjects ceasing to believe in the God who sanctifies his rule. Like any human dictator, he must terrorize his subjects back into piety and obedience. But God, if he exists, need not be so frightened. Whenever he wants to, he can simply furnish doubters with some clear evidence of his existence. If God is "all merciful", as the Muslim deity allegedly is, he can't possibly instruct his followers to go around murdering unbelievers - because that's not "all merciful" behaviour, is it?

Georges, London, UK

http://www.wnd.com/redir/r.asp?http...icle2426314.ece



If you can't leave a religion without fearing violent murder, then it's not a religion- it's a cult.
26783  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: September 11, 2007, 08:37:46 AM
Yes, Houston Alexander was the name I was looking for.  Thank you.
26784  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Tony Felix seminar on: September 10, 2007, 04:55:04 PM
Well then my friend, come stay with us smiley
26785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: September 10, 2007, 02:20:18 PM
Mexico: The Evolution of a Guerrilla Group
Bombs exploded early Sept. 10 at five or more points along natural gas pipelines operated by Mexico's state-owned oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) in Veracruz state, forcing the company to suspend shipments to parts of Mexico. The attack, which began with the first blast at about 2:15 a.m. local time and ended about 4 a.m., started fires and led to the temporary evacuation of some 12,000 people from nearby towns.




The attack, which Mexican authorities say was an act of sabotage, comes two months after the guerrilla group Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) claimed responsibility for a similar attack against Pemex pipelines in Queretaro state near Mexico City and in Guanajuato state. In that statement, the group demanded the release of two of its members from prison. One of the lines attacked in July, the one running from Mexico City to Guadalajara, also was struck in the most recent attack. In August, the group planted two bombs in the southern Mexican city of Oaxaca. One device, planted at a Sears store, detonated in the early morning hours, while the other, placed at a Banamex bank branch, did not explode.

EPR, whose core membership is made up mostly of peasants, historically has expressed its anger at the Mexican government by shooting or vandalizing government facilities in the more rural areas of southern Mexico. Occasionally EPR has joined loosely with other leftist groups to plant small improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Mexico City for the purpose of making political statements. Until the summer, however, staging multiple strikes against pipelines seemed beyond the capability of rural farmers.

It appears likely, then, that these attacks are being led by a fairly experienced bombmaker, perhaps an educated Marxist who has associated himself with the group. One indication of this is the lack of reports that unexploded IEDs have been found on the pipelines. Moreover, the attackers have avoided detection and have left authorities no clues. These latest bombings strongly suggest that the EPR -- or at least one of its cells -- has evolved, is expanding its target set and is increasing its operational tempo. This bombmaker likely has the ability to construct IEDs that are more powerful than the devices commonly used by the group. At this time, however, the cell appears to be committed to limiting human casualties.

Pemex increased security at its facilities after the July attacks, but pipelines are generally difficult to secure completely. In addition, the attackers can benefit from the violence occurring in Mexico as a result of the government crackdown on the drug cartels. Mexican security services already have their hands full with the daily cartel violence.
stratfor.com

26786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 10, 2007, 12:52:43 PM
The truth of that is both funny and tragic.
26787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: September 10, 2007, 11:28:40 AM
Licensed to Kill
September 10, 2007; Page A14
Butchers, bakers and candlestick makers should enjoy their freedom while it lasts. These lucky professions have so far managed to stay off the list of livelihoods that now require a license to practice in any number of states. Taxidermists, massage therapists and interior decorators aren't so fortunate: They're among the professionals who must have their skills validated by the government.

Overall, the level of licensing regulation in the workplace is rising precipitously, with more than 20% of the workforce now required to get a permit to do their jobs -- up from 4.5% in the 1950s. This is the alarming finding of a new study by Adam Summers for the Reason Foundation. These requirements are essentially barriers to business entry and job creation, and Mr. Summers notes that they have become a greater obstacle to employment than minimum wage laws and labor unions.

With a total of more than 1,000 occupations now controlling entry, the numbers break down much as you might expect, providing a good reflection of state regulatory climates. With the exception of California, Eastern states are more regulated than Western states with their vestiges of the frontier mentality. Ditto states that usually show up as red on an election map: Republican leaners typically have fewer professional licensing barriers than their blue-state counterparts.

Some professional licensing may be a defensive outgrowth of the lawsuit culture, as business owners seek protection against, say, customers irate over how their haircuts turned out. But most is pushed by businesses for the age-old reason of restricting competition. This summer, in the wake of recent troubles in California's housing market, a legislator began calling for mandatory licensing for mobile home dealers. With a coming boom in foreclosures and resales, that must suit the existing big players just fine.

But even as one silly new credential is erected, others are being challenged. One Californian is suing the state for requiring him to spend two years studying to get a license to install spikes that deter pigeons from nesting. This, despite the fact that the plaintiff is already the holder of five state pest-control licenses. His case went before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last month, where the government's own witnesses acknowledged that the law is irrational and intended to make it harder for new competitors to qualify. That's the kind of restraint on trade that the Federal Trade Commission ought to be worrying about instead of attacking successful supermarket chains.

The government's role in protecting the public from fraud may argue in favor of licensing in some very specialized, learned professions. A doctor or lawyer clearly needs a certified level of expertise. But even these professions sometimes attempt to create their own guild monopolies, such as when lawyers lobby to bar non-lawyers from assisting the public with such routine legal tasks as writing wills. It's even harder to see public benefit when similar rigorous oversight is applied to people who want to catch a reptile in Michigan, serve as a tribal rainmaker in Arizona, or be a fortune-teller in Maryland. That's right; it takes a license to predict the future in Baltimore, which we doubt leads to a better forecasting record.

Thanks to the Reason study, we now know how far the pendulum has swung in favor of these nasty little exercises in domestic protectionism.
WSJ
26788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 10, 2007, 10:40:54 AM
Not really a rant, but I put it here anyway:

Listening to Petraeus
The president had the courage to change course on Iraq. Does Congress?

BY JOHN MCCAIN AND JOE LIEBERMAN
Monday, September 10, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Today, Gen. David Petraeus--commander of our forces in Iraq--returns to Washington to report on the war in Iraq and the new counterinsurgency strategy he has been implementing there. We hope that opponents of the war in Congress will listen carefully to the evidence that the U.S. military is at last making real and significant progress in its offensive against al Qaeda in Iraq.

Consider how the situation has changed. A year ago, al Qaeda in Iraq controlled large swaths of the country's territory. Today it is being driven out of its former strongholds in Anbar and Diyala provinces by the surge in U.S. forces and those of our Iraqi allies. A year ago, sectarian violence was spiraling out of control in Iraq, fanned by al Qaeda. Today civilian murders in Baghdad are down over 50%.

As facts on the ground in Iraq have improved, some critics of the war have changed their stance. As Democratic Congressman Brian Baird, who voted against the invasion of Iraq, recently wrote after returning from Baghdad: "[T]he people, strategies, and facts on the ground have changed for the better, and those changes justify changing our position on what should be done."





Unfortunately, many more antiwar advocates continue to press for withdrawal. Confronted by undeniable evidence of gains against al Qaeda in Iraq, they acknowledge progress but have seized on the performance of the Iraqi government to justify stripping Gen. Petraeus of troops and derailing his strategy.
This reasoning is flawed for several reasons.

First, whatever you think of the performance of Iraq's national leaders, the notion that withdrawing U.S. troops will "shock" them into reconciliation is unsupported by evidence or experience. On the contrary, ordering a retreat will only serve to unravel the hard-fought gains we have won.

The recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq was unequivocal on this point: "Changing the mission of Coalition forces from a primarily counterinsurgency and stabilization role"--the Petraeus strategy--"to a primary combat support role for Iraqi forces and counterterrorist operations"--which most congressional Democrats have been pressing for--"would erode security gains achieved thus far."

This judgment is echoed by our commanders on the ground. Consider the words of Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, who is leading the fight in central Iraq: "In my battlespace right now, if soldiers were to leave . . . having fought hard for that terrain, having denied the enemy their sanctuaries, what happens is, the enemy would come back."

In addition, while critics are right that improved security has not yet translated into sufficient political progress at the national level, the increased presence of our soldiers is having a seismic effect on Iraq's politics at the local level.

In the neighborhoods and villages where U.S. forces have moved in, extremists have been marginalized, and moderates empowered. Thanks to this changed security calculus, the Sunni Arab community--which was largely synonymous with the insurgency a year ago--has been turning against al Qaeda from the bottom-up, and beginning to negotiate an accommodation with the emerging political order. Sustaining this political shift depends on staying the offensive against al Qaeda--which in turn depends on not stripping Gen. Petraeus of the manpower he and his commanders say they need.

We must also recognize that the choice we face in Iraq is not between the current Iraqi government and a perfect Iraqi government. Rather, it is a choice between a young, imperfect, struggling democracy that we have helped midwife into existence, and the fanatical, al Qaeda suicide bombers and Iranian-sponsored terrorists who are trying to destroy it. If Washington politicians succeed in forcing a premature troop withdrawal in Iraq, the result will be a more dangerous world with our enemies emboldened. As Iran's president recently crowed, "soon we will see a huge power vacuum in the region . . . [and] we are prepared to fill the gap."





Whatever the shortcomings of our friends in Iraq, they are no excuse for us to retreat from our enemies like al Qaeda and Iran, who pose a mortal threat to our vital national interests. We must understand that today in Iraq we are fighting and defeating the same terrorist network that attacked on 9/11. As al Qaeda in Iraq continues to be hunted down and rooted out, and the Iraqi Army continues to improve, the U.S. footprint will no doubt adjust. But these adjustments should be left to the discretion of Gen. Petraeus, not forced on our troops by politicians in Washington with a 6,000-mile congressional screwdriver, and, perhaps, an eye on the 2008 election.
The Bush administration clung for too long to a flawed strategy in this war, despite growing evidence of its failure. Now advocates of withdrawal risk making the exact same mistake, by refusing to re-examine their own conviction that Gen. Petraeus's strategy cannot succeed and that the war is "lost," despite rising evidence to the contrary.

The Bush administration finally had the courage to change course in Iraq earlier this year. After hearing from Gen. Petraeus today, we hope congressional opponents of the war will do the same.

Mr. McCain is a Republican senator from Arizona. Mr. Lieberman is an Independent Democratic senator from Connecticut.
26789  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: HUMAN WEAPON SHOW ON THE HISTORY CHANNEL (DOCE PARES) on: September 10, 2007, 10:38:07 AM
"The Last One Standing"
http://www.realitytvworld.com/news/discovery-new-last-one-standing-reality-series-debut-october-4-5739.php
26790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: September 10, 2007, 10:10:13 AM
“These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it NOW, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” —Thomas Paine
26791  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Tony Felix seminar on: September 10, 2007, 10:02:44 AM
Woof All:

I just received the following info from friend John Spezzano about a seminar by Tony Felix, who we are honored to have as a member of the DBMA Board of Advisors.

John/Tony what can you tell us about Satria?

CD
=================

Greetings all,
 
Tony Felix, one of Pendekar Steve Benitez's top students will be teaching a Los Angeles seminar in October.  He will be covering takedowns and sweeps, Satria Arts vs Boxing, as well as using langkah's and postures to sweep without using the arms.
 
Where:
Rey Diogo BJJ
8733 Venice Blvd.
LA  90034
 
When:
Saturday, October 6 from 2:30 - 6:30PM
Sunday, October 7 from 11AM - 3PM
310.839.9086
How Much:
One day - $65
Both days - $120
CASH ONLY!!
 
Hope you all can make it!!!
 
jvs
26792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 10, 2007, 07:37:49 AM
1133 GMT -- UNITED STATES, IRAQ -- The Pentagon is planning to establish the first military base and multiple fortified checkpoints near the Iraq-Iran border in an effort to thwart the flow of Iranian weapons into Iraq, the Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 10, citing Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division. The United States recently accused Iran of supporting Iraq's Shiite militias with weapons, though Tehran denies the claim.

1127 GMT-- IRAQ -- Civil war has been prevented in Iraq and violence has dropped 75 percent in Baghdad and Anbar provinces since the latest surge in the number of U.S. troops, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told the Iraqi parliament Sept. 10. Al-Maliki's comments came just hours before top U.S. military chief in Iraq Gen. David Petraeus is due to deliver his Iraq assessment to the U.S. Congress. Al-Maliki defended his performance as prime minister in the wake of calls in the United States for his replacement.
strafor.com
============
Concerning the first of these:  It has been a mystery to me why we have not controlled border movements with Iran, SA, Syria et al for a long time now , , ,  angry
26793  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: September 10, 2007, 07:14:00 AM
Woof All:

Indeed, agreed that for many Crocop was The Man so very little ago.  Fighters' time at the top in MMA can be brief indeed! 

I really haven't seen much of Crocop's fights in Pride and know him more by rep than anything, but I was surprised at how plodding and seemingly uninformed his approach to footwork was.  Normally leftys are sharper than rightys in the the footwork/angle dynamics of mirror leads, but to my eye C. just gave the obvious angle to K. all night long and K. happily accepted.

What was the name of that strong black guy who goes nitrous?  He knocked out Jardine last time and some Brazilian guy this time.

Also, speaking of Jardine, I am surprised to see that Liddell-Jardine is a PPV headline fight, and Jackson-Henderson was free huh
26794  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: September 09, 2007, 05:40:39 PM
Comments on last nights fights?

1) I liked Bisping and didn't care for Hamill in TUF, but I thought Hamill won.
2) Crocop-Kongo:  Crocop would appear to have a hard road ahead if he continues to fight.
3) Good fight between two fine warriors.  Congrats to Rampage.
26795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: September 09, 2007, 11:30:12 AM
Rabbi stabbed on street in Frankfurt, police say


The Associated Press
Published: September 8, 2007


FRANKFURT, Germany: A 42-year-old rabbi was stabbed in the stomach by another man on a Frankfurt street in what appeared to be a spontaneous attack, police said Saturday.
The rabbi underwent surgery after the Friday night attack and appears to be out of danger, police said.
The rabbi, whose name was not disclosed, was walking with two other people when they encountered the assailant and two women, a police statement said.
The man, whom witnesses described as possibly Arab, spoke to the rabbi — who was wearing a Jewish head-covering — in what sounded like Arabic.
The rabbi didn't understand, and the man threatened in German to kill him, then stabbed him once, the statement said. The attacker fled and the women who were with him ran in different directions.

Police said there were no indications that the man had planned his attack.
Roland Koch, the governor of the German state of Hesse, deplored the stabbing as "a perfidious deed that we can only view with horror and indignation and most strongly condemn."
26796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Boys of the Taliban on: September 09, 2007, 07:59:55 AM
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=%7BD51B2383-01A0-4896-B174-19F115EC0942%7D

Just recently, the Taliban issued a new set of 30 rules to its fighters.


Many of the instructions were to be expected: rule No. 25 commands the murder of teachers if a warning and a beating does not dissuade them from teaching. No. 26 outlines the exquisite delicacy of burning schools and destroying anything that aid organizations might undertake -- such as the building of a new road, school or clinic. The essence of the other rules are easily left to the imagination, basically involving what militant Islam is about: vile hate, death and destruction.

 

But there is a curious rule that the Western media has typically ignored. Rule No. 19 instructs that Taliban fighters must not take young boys without facial hair into their private quarters.

 

Right.

 

(Cough and clearing of the throat).

 

Aside from the question of what is permitted if a young boy does happen to have facial hair, this new Taliban commandment brings light to a taboo pathology that underlies the structures of militant Islam. And it is crucial to deconstruct the meaning of this rule -- and the horrid reality that it represents -- because it serves as a gateway to understanding the primary causes of Islamic rage and terror.

 

Rule No. 19 obviously indicates that the sexual abuse of young boys is a prevalent and institutionalized phenomenon among the Taliban and that, for one reason or another, its widespread practice has become a problem.

 

The fact that Taliban militants’ spare time involves sodomizing young boys should by no means be any kind of surprise or eyebrow raiser. That a mass pathology such as this occurs in a culture which demonizes the female and her sexuality -- and puts her out of mind and sight -- is only to be expected. To be sure, it is a simple given that the religious male fanatic who flies into a violent rage even at the thought of an exposed woman’s ankle will also be, in some other dysfunctional and dark secret compartment of his fractured life, the person who leads some poor helpless young boy into his private chambers.

 

The key issue here is that the demented sickness that underlies Rule No. 19 is by no means exclusive to the Taliban; it is a widespread phenomenon throughout Islamic-Arab culture and it lies, among other factors, at the root of that culture’s addiction to rage and its lust for violence, terror and suicide.

   

There is a basic and common sense empirical human reality: wherever humans construct and perpetuate an environment in which females and their sexuality are demonized and are pushed into invisibility, homosexual behaviour among men and the sexual abuse of young boys by older men always increases. Islamic-Arab culture serves as a perfect example of this paradigm, seeing that gender apartheid, fear of female sexuality and a vicious misogyny are the structures on which the whole society functions.

 

It is no surprise that John Racy, a psychiatrist with much experience in Arab societies, has noted that homosexuality is “extremely common” in many parts of the Arab world. [1] Indeed, even though homosexuality is officially despised in this culture and strictly prohibited and punishable by imprisonment, incarceration and/or death, having sex with boys or effeminate men is actually a social norm. Males serve as available substitutes for unavailable women. The key is this: the male who does the penetrating is not considered to be homosexual or emasculated any more than if he were to have sex with his wife, while the male who is penetrated is emasculated. The boy, however, is not considered to be emasculated since he is not yet considered to be a man. A man who has sex with boys is simply doing what many men (especially unmarried ones) do. [2] And this reality is connected to the fact that, as scholar Bruce Dunne has demonstrated, sex in Islamic-Arab societies is not about mutuality between partners, but about the adult male's achievement of pleasure through violent domination. [3]

 

While secrecy and taboo surround this phenomenon, some courageous Arabs have dared to discuss and expose it. Walid Shoebat, for instance, a former Palestinian terrorist, has openly related the abuse of young boys in Palestinian Muslim society. He himself witnessed a line of shepherd boys waiting for their turn to sodomize a five-year-old boy. [4] Amnesty International has also reported that Afghan warlords routinely sexually victimize young boys and film the orgies. [5] (The sexual abuse of young girls in this environment is also obviously widespread). [6]

 

While she was in Afghanistan in 1961, author and scholar Phyllis Chesler saw homosexuals roaming the streets, holding hands in broad daylight and gazing into each other’s eyes. “One of the pair,” she writes, “might sport a flower behind his ear; another might be wearing lipstick or have rouged cheeks.” At the same time, Chesler observed that everyone, including her Arab husband, was in denial about this common social reality, refusing to admit that this widespread behaviour was, in fact, homosexuality. [7]

 

In the dysfunctional and morbid paradigms of this culture, the idea of love is, obviously, completely absent from men's understanding of sexuality. Like the essence of Arab masculinity, it is reduced to a form of prison sex: hurting others with violence. A gigantic rupture inevitably develops between men and women, where no harmony, affection or equality is allowed to exist. [8]

 

The sexual confusion, humiliation, and repression that develop in the mindset of many males in this culture are excruciating. And it is no surprise that many of them find the only avenue for personal gratification in the act of sexually abusing young boys and, of course, in humiliating the foreign "enemy," whose masculinity must be violated at all costs -- just as theirs once was.

 

Islamist terror, therefore, is, in part, very much a release of the terrorists’ bottled-up sexual rage in connection to sexual frustration and desperation -- and to the humiliation connected to feelings of emasculation, which culminates in the act of striking out against “the enemy” and violating his masculinity. The inner workings of this mindset explain why Islamic terrorists consistently engage in sexual mutilation of their victims. Psychiatrist David Gutmann notes this phenomenon in the context of Arab Jew-hatred:

 

The Israelis perform in this Arab psychodrama of gender as a potent, destabilizing threat: to begin with, as a people they broke out of the deprecated but tolerated status of Dhimmi - a kind of submissive "woman" - to the "masculine" status of pioneer, rebel, warrior and nation builder. In retaliation, in their wars and Intifadas the Arabs strive to castrate the uppity masculinizing Jew -- and this project is carried out quite literally on the battlefield, where the bodies of fallen Jews have been mutilated in the most obscene ways. [9]

 

This lust for violence against “the enemy” and the accompanying yearning to die in the process are fuelled by the morbid earthly existence that is engendered by militant Islam. Indeed, there exists very few reasons for males to value their time on earth; their freedom of action and ability to experience joy and pleasure are extremely limited in terms of what is allowed. To be sure, most young men have absolutely no experience in love, sex, affection or friendship with females, and they have no outlet for their libido, which, to further pathologize the mindset, they regard as evil temptation. Killing and dying, therefore, become the only areas where free will can be exercised.

 

This lust for death is further compounded by the theological underpinnings of Islam itself, which promises the Muslim male sexual treats in the afterlife which are forbidden to him on earth. Indeed, if a Muslim male dies in the cause of jihad, he will enjoy a blissful union with virgins in paradise (Suras 78:31, 37:40-48, 44:51-55). And for those Muslim warriors for whom women are not of interest, there will be young pre-pubescent boys at their service -- and they will be like “scattered pearls” of “perpetual freshness” (Suras 52:24, 56:17, 76:19).

 

Thus, for the Taliban fighters who are frustrated with the new obstacles posed by Rule No. 19, there no doubt exists an even greater incentive to get to paradise a little faster.

 

In essence, suicide through jihad represents a form of perverted liberty through which an individual can express himself. In so doing, the Islamic radical strikes out at what tempts him, avenges his own emasculation and, through the act of suicide, cleanses himself of his own temptation by ridding himself of his earthly existence.

 

Theodore Dalrymple offers a profound analysis of this phenomenon in the context of the Muslim fundamentalist’s agonizing hate and self-hate inside a Western society. Analyzing the motivations of the Pakistani suicide bombers who struck in London in June 2005, he demonstrates that they saw no way out of their confrontation with freedom and modernity except death:

 

What more convincing evidence of faith could there be than to die for its sake? How can a person be really attached or attracted to rap music and cricket and Mercedes cars if he is prepared to blow himself up as a means of destroying the society that produces them? Death will be the end of the illicit attachment that he cannot entirely eliminate from his heart. The two forms of jihad, the inner and the outer, the greater and the lesser, thus coalesce in one apocalyptic action. By means of suicide bombing, the bombers overcome moral impurities and religious doubts within themselves and, supposedly, strike an external blow for the propagation of the faith. [10]

 

All of these inter-related phenomena serve as windows of understanding for us, through which we become able to grasp the demented and psychopathic psychology that creates the need for a rule such as the Taliban’s No. 19. It is a rule that exposes a fanatic mindset that holds the sight and reality of an unveiled woman to be a horrific nightmare and the greatest sin, yet simultaneously considers the forced rape of a young prepubescent boy to be in the normal swing of things.

 

It is on this eerie and putrid plateau that we come to see the factors that spawn the yearning for death and suicide inside militant Islam. Circumscribed in the most vicious and sadistic of ways, the men imprisoned in these cages long to regain a masculinity and humanity that was violently robbed from them as children. In a setting where healing through contact with feminine affection is denied and considered evil, self-extinction through hurting the “enemy” -- and the tempter -- becomes the only way out. 

 

Notes:

 

[1] David Pryce-Jones, The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs (Chicago: Irvin R. Dee, 2002), p.131.

 

[2] Bruce Dunne, “Power and Sexuality in the Middle East,” Middle East Report, Spring 1998. For a further discussion on the widespread homosexuality among men in Muslim societies in North Africa and South Asia, and how married men having sex with boys and other men is considered a social norm, and not “homosexual,” see Arno Schmitt and Jehoeda Sofer (eds.), Sexuality and Eroticism Among Males in Muslim Societies (New York: Harrington Park Press, 1992).

 

[3] Dunne.

 

[4] Chesler, The Death of Feminism, (Macmillan: New York , 2005), p.144.

 

[5] Chesler, p.144.

 

[6] Author Nawal El Saadawi, gives an account of the horrifying and widespread sexual abuse of young girls in the Muslim-Arab world, a crime for which the perpetrators are exonerated. See Sadawwi, The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World, pp.12-24. While it is obvious that this abuse, as with the abuse of young boys, is connected to the unavailability of women for men in the culture at large, Chesler notes that the widespread sexual abuse of female children in the Muslim world “is one of the main ways of traumatizing and shaming girls into obedience and rendering them less capable of rebellion or resistance when they grow up.” (Chesler, p.145)

 

[7] Chesler, p.88 and p.144.

 

[8] Dunne.

 

[9] David Gutmann, “Symposium: Purifying Allah's Soil,” FrontPageMagazine.com, January 27, 2006.

 

[10] Theodore Dalrymple, “The Suicide Bombers Among Us,” City Journal, Autumn 2005.

 
26797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion on: September 09, 2007, 12:02:04 AM
On your say so alone, I just bought it.

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

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article2409833.ece

From The Times
September 8, 2007
Our followers ‘must live in peace until strong enough to wage jihad’
Andrew Norfolk

One of the world’s most respected Deobandi scholars believes that aggressive military jihad should be waged by Muslims “to establish the supremacy of Islam” worldwide.

Justice Muhammad Taqi Usmani argues that Muslims should live peacefully in countries such as Britain, where they have the freedom to practise Islam, only until they gain enough power to engage in battle.

His views explode the myth that the creed of offensive, expansionist jihad represents a distortion of traditional Islamic thinking.

Mr Usmani, 64, sat for 20 years as a Sharia judge in Pakistan’s Supreme Court. He is an adviser to several global financial institutions and a regular visitor to Britain. Polite and softly spoken, he revealed to The Times a detailed knowledge of world events and his words, for the most part, were balanced and considered.

He agreed that it was wrong to suggest that the entire nonMuslim world was intent on destroying Islam. Yet this is a man who, in his published work, argues the case for Muslims to wage an expansionist war against nonMuslim lands.

Mr Usmani’s justification for aggressive military jihad as a means of establishing global Islamic supremacy is revealed at the climax of his book, Islam and Modernism. The work is a polemic against Islamic modernists who seek to convert the entire Koran into “a poetic and metaphorical book” because, he says, they have been bewitched by Western culture and ideology.

The final chapter delivers a rebuke to those who believe that only defensive jihad (fighting to defend a Muslim land that is under attack or occupation) is permissible in Islam. He refutes the suggestion that jihad is unlawful against a nonMuslim state that freely permits the preaching of Islam.

For Mr Usmani, “the question is whether aggressive battle is by itself commendable or not”. “If it is, why should the Muslims stop simply because territorial expansion in these days is regarded as bad? And if it is not commendable, but deplorable, why did Islam not stop it in the past?”

He answers his own question thus: “Even in those days . . . aggressive jihads were waged . . . because it was truly commendable for establishing the grandeur of the religion of Allah.”

These words are not the product of a radical extremist. They come from the pen of one of the most acclaimed scholars in the Deobandi tradition.

Mr Usmani told The Times that Islam and Modernism was an English translation of his original Urdu book, “which at times gives a connotation different from the original”.

==========

Can anyone flesh out the Deobandi tradition and how big its numbers and influence are?
26798  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine on: September 08, 2007, 08:43:00 PM
http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/transmission.htm

Kissing
Casual contact through closed-mouth or "social" kissing is not a risk for transmission of HIV. Because of the potential for contact with blood during "French" or open-mouth kissing, CDC recommends against engaging in this activity with a person known to be infected. However, the risk of acquiring HIV during open-mouth kissing is believed to be very low. CDC has investigated only one case of HIV infection that may be attributed to contact with blood during open-mouth kissing.

Biting
In 1997, CDC published findings from a state health department investigation of an incident that suggested blood-to-blood transmission of HIV by a human bite. There have been other reports in the medical literature in which HIV appeared to have been transmitted by a bite. Severe trauma with extensive tissue tearing and damage and presence of blood were reported in each of these instances. Biting is not a common way of transmitting HIV. In fact, there are numerous reports of bites that did not result in HIV infection.

Saliva, Tears, and Sweat
HIV has been found in saliva and tears in very low quantities from some AIDS patients. It is important to understand that finding a small amount of HIV in a body fluid does not necessarily mean that HIV can be transmitted by that body fluid. HIV has not been recovered from the sweat of HIV-infected persons. Contact with saliva, tears, or sweat has never been shown to result in transmission of HIV.

========

Woof All:

Before the humoruos reparte' about the inclusion of the CDC's comments on kissing begin wink  I'd like to point out that I understand the comments on biting to be when an HIV does the biting.  It seems to me though that a different question is presented when the healthy bite the HIV, and in this case the comments on kissing, though not dispositive, have relevance.

Any comments from anyone actually informed or qualified to comment?

Yip!
CD
26799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: September 08, 2007, 10:15:12 AM
Listening In
September 8, 2007; Page A12
When the German government announced arrests this week in a terrorist plot against American and German targets inside Germany, one telling detail got little notice: Two of the suspects were identified, in part, based on telephone conversations intercepted by American intelligence.

Let's replay that. U.S. intelligence intercepted cell phone calls made by German nationals in Pakistan. The U.S. passed that information to the German government, which proceeded to roll up a plot to blow up targets that may have included Ramstein Air Base and the Frankfurt airport.

 HOT TOPIC

 
Debate Turns to Telecom ImmunityThis week, by unhappy coincidence, the House Judiciary Committee began hearings on the National Security Agency's al Qaeda wiretapping program. That program was given a six-month reprieve last month. But Democrats in Congress are trying to prevent a further extension, if they can muster the votes to oppose a program that continues to protect American lives, a la this week in Germany.

If they lack the votes, liberals are already working on a Plan B, which is to try to scare U.S. telecommunications companies from cooperating with the NSA. This would be accomplished by denying them immunity from civil lawsuits. Verizon and AT&T are among the companies already sued, and they face billions of dollars in potential liability.

The Protect America Act that passed last month gave the phone companies protection from civil liability for the six-month duration of the law, but it offered no protection for their earlier cooperation in the aftermath of 9/11. The White House requested such retrospective immunity, but it was blocked by Democrats. A cynic might conclude this is one more example of Democrats doing the bidding of their tort lawyer financiers. But let's assume their motives aren't that ugly.

That still leaves Democrats tacitly endorsing a strategy of using lawsuits to gut the wiretapping program. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell has said that the potential liabilities are of an order of magnitude sufficient to bankrupt some of our biggest telcos. And even if the suits are ultimately deemed meritless in court, they could well involve sufficient costs to make the companies wary of cooperating in the future. It has already been reported that at least some phone companies are contemplating suing the government to block the enforcement of any wiretapping law that does not immunize them. That's how seriously they take the liability risk.

In this context, this week's debate on Capitol Hill was often out of this world. For example, Florida Democrat Debbie Wasserman-Schultz took the mic to pose a hypothetical. Suppose her child was emailing with a child in Iraq. Wouldn't current law allow the NSA to read those emails? Former Congressman Bob Barr, who was a witness, allowed that this possibility "ought to be a very major concern for certainly all of us."

University of Virginia Professor Robert Turner -- a rare voice of reason during the House hearing -- replied that that "If we say [the NSA] can't look at anything that's got [a] U.S. person involved without a warrant, we're going to give [Osama bin Laden] the easiest way to immunize his whole communication system." In other words, all a terrorist would have to do to mask his communications would be to cc: an American email address, putting it off limits to American surveillance.

Which brings us back to those Germans and their cell phones in Pakistan. Critics of the surveillance program will argue that they have no problem with America eavesdropping on Germans making phone calls to terrorists, so the example is irrelevant to the controversy. But suppose those Germans were calling their fellow-travelers in America, to plot an attack not against Ramstein, but against Fort Bragg. Does anyone really think that phone call would be less important to intercept than those in Germany?

If Democrats want to vote against warrantless wiretaps, they should do so openly and accept the political consequences. What they shouldn't be able to do is hide their opposition behind lawsuits or the judiciary in such a way that guts the program without having to take any responsibility for doing so.

WSJ
26800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Peggy Noonan WSJ on: September 08, 2007, 10:03:04 AM
Off to the Races
By PEGGY NOONAN
September 8, 2007

This week the Republican candidates for the presidency tried to make it new again. Summer's over, autumn's here, they're relaunching. I think they pretty much succeeded. Their debate Wednesday night had sparks and fire. And a new candidate moved in.

So while Barack Obama struggles with a big question of his candidacy -- how to draw deep blood from Hillary Clinton without fatally endangering his future in the party and earning the enmity of its power brokers; and Mrs. Clinton figures out each day how to slow him and stop him but not right now squish him like a bug, which would highlight a reputation for ruthlessness and embitter a portion of the base -- a look at the Republicans in what was a Republican week.

The debate was full of fireworks about Iraq, about its essentials -- the rightness of the endeavor, and what should rightly be done now. From the libertarian Ron Paul a blunt argument against the war: We never should have gone in and we should get out. "The people who say there'll be a blood bath are the same ones who said it would be a cakewalk. . . . Why believe them?" His foreign policy: "Mind our own business, bring our troops home, defend our country, defend our borders." After Mr. Paul spoke, it seemed half the room booed, but the other applauded. When a thousand Republicans are in a room and one man of the eight on the stage takes a sharply minority viewpoint on a dramatic issue and half the room seems to cheer him, something's going on.

 
Sparks fly between Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul.
Ron Paul's support isn't based on his persona, history or perceived power. What support he has comes because of his views. As he spoke, you could hear other candidates laughing in the background. They should stop giggling, and engage in a serious way.

Mike Huckabee, and for this I h Huckabee, shot back that history will judge whether we were right to go in, but for now, "we're there." He echoed Colin Powell: We broke it, now we own it. "Congressman, we are one nation. We can't be divided. . . . If we make a mistake, we make it as a single country, the United States of America, not the divided states of America." David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network says he doesn't know why Mr. Huckabee isn't in the top tier. I wonder too. Maybe he is and we don't know it.

John McCain seems liberated by loss. Once he was the front-runner, then he was over. Unburdened by the pressure to do well, he has rediscovered the pleasures of the trail. The other day when a student was impertinent, he pleasantly responded, "Thanks for the question, you little jerk." It reminded me of the time Mayor Rudy Giuliani told an insistent radio caller who pressed for the legalization of ferrets that he probably cared about the issue because he was insane.

In the debate, Mr. McCain was spirited -- we stay and fight in Iraq, "otherwise we face catastrophe and genocide in the region." Fox News's focus group said he won. As he retools, he should speak of Reagan in 1976, when he was washed up in South Carolina and said, "I'm taking this all the way to the convention, and I'm going even if I lose every damn primary between now and then."

Mitt Romney is -- well, he continues to seem like someone who's stepped from the shower and been handed a dress shirt by his manservant George. He's like a senior account executive on "Mad Men." Still the most focused and disciplined of all the Republicans, he did fine the other night. But he should get shirt-sleeved, dig deeper, get to his purpose. He had the best quips about Fred Thompson's decision to get in, telling reporters, "Why the hurry? Why not take a little longer to think this over? From my standpoint, if he wants to wait until January or February, that would be ideal."

Rudy Giuliani proved it is possible to bang the gong too much on leading New York City. Enough already, we heard you, move on. Then come back to it in a few months and make it new again. For now, can he be thoughtful about foreign affairs? Not forceful, not pugnacious, not rote, but thoughtful. No one knows quite what he thinks, as opposed to feels.

Duncan Hunter was there. So was Tom Tancredo, who shouldn't be. When you can't compellingly break through with the issue that most roils the base, and on which you were a leader and in agreement with the roiled, then you should admit it didn't work, and leave. But whom he throws his support to -- who he decides has an immigration stand he can back -- might have some significant impact on primary voters.

For Fred Thompson, spurning the debate and announcing on Leno was rude and shrewd. He loped on like a long, tall, folksy fella and got a good burst of applause from the audience when he said he was running. The Web video was fine, the 60-second commercial unveiled Wednesday too self-consciously presidential. A young journalist brutally remarked to me of the makeup and lighting, "He looks like a skull on a Disney pirate ride."

He faces three big challenges. He has come in saying, essentially, I'm not the other guys. That's good, but raises the questions: Who are you? And the reason you're running for president would be . . .?

Second challenge: You can come to the rescue only when someone calls "Help!" You can save the drowning guy only when he falls through the ice; you can't do it when he's skating by and giving you a friendly nod. Three and six months ago, the Republican Party was looking at its slate of candidates and shouting, "Help!" Since then, the candidates have been out there making an impression, getting known, declaring their stands. They've found supporters.

Is the party still yelling "Help!"? Is it falling through the ice?

A third challenge, I think, is a certain dissonance in Mr. Thompson's persona. He seems preoccupied, not full of delight that he's at the party. John McCain has been having sly fun with the idea of Mr. Thompson's sluggishness. When asked why Mr. Thompson didn't come to the debate, Mr. McCain said "Maybe we're up past his bedtime."

I felt this week, and to my surprise, that the campaign was focusing itself, tightening in some way, getting serious. The next Republican debate, the first one with Mr. Thompson, is Sept. 17, in New Hampshire. The first real voting, in Iowa and New Hampshire, is in only four months. For all our complaints about the endless campaign, this one may catch us short. It may get decided when we aren't watching -- knowing, as everyone told us, that we had plenty of time to start paying attention. This could move quickly. Got to watch now.
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