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26951  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 15, 2007, 01:30:02 AM
Rog:

"I'm not a lawyer, but as I understand it, international law is very clear about "aggressive war" (attacking a sovereign nation that hasn't attacked you) being a big no-no.  We either accept the authority of international law or we don't, but I don't see it as even debatable that we violated it."

While in law school, I studied "international law", was on the Board of Directors of the Society of International law for the school, and received the Parker Award for International Law.  None of which means diddly I know, but at least membership in the Soc. for Intl Law got me a 10 day trip to Cuba during the brief period at the end of the Carter years when it was legal to do so.  My one year in law, in Washington DC, was for a firm that billed itself as an international law firm.

What I carried away from this was that a lot of it was utterly meaningless and really more a matter of Conflict of Laws i.e. a determination of whose law applies. 

For example, one case on which I briefly worked was about a client whom had a ship seized in Iran shortly before the Khomeni Revolution.  Jurisdiction in US Federal Court was obtained and proceedings began.  Then the Khomeni govt. nationalized the company that had seized our client's ship.  Not recognizing the jurisdication of US federal court, it stopped showing up and we won a default judgement on the merits.  All that remained was a determination of damages.  Then the US-Iranian Claims tribunal was set up for all pending disputes between the US, its citizens, and Iran and its citizens.  Question presented:  Did the Claims tribunal have to accept the US federal court default decision and rule only on damages, or did it the case get litigated de novo?

Concerning our decision to go into Iraq being illegal or not, IMHO President Bush committed an error in going back to the UN after receiving Resolution 1441, which I would argue empowered us to go in as a legal matter.  As a political matter though, the President thought it better to go back for ,  , , re-approval.

IMHO there really is no coherent thing such as international law.  When has the UN gotten upset for the French going into west Africa, or NATO into Serbia-Croatia?  I don't recall any General Assembly votes on any of that or other similar cases.  OTOH it was a big deal when Saddam invaded Kuwait.  OTOH it wasn't a big deal when the Arabs tried wiping out Israel.  OTOH , , , well you get the idea.
26952  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Internet and related technology on: September 15, 2007, 01:07:20 AM
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070913112659.htm

Scientists Use 'Dark Web' To Snag Extremists And Terrorists Online

Science Daily — Terrorists and extremists have set up shop on the Internet, using it to recruit new members, spread propaganda and plan attacks across the world. The size and scope of these dark corners of the Web are vast and disturbing. But in a non-descript building in Tucson, a team of computational scientists are using the cutting-edge technology and novel new approaches to track their moves online, providing an invaluable tool in the global war on terror.

Funded by the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies, Hsinchun Chen and his Artificial Intelligence Lab at the University of Arizona have created the Dark Web project, which aims to systematically collect and analyze all terrorist-generated content on the Web.
This is no small undertaking. The speed, ubiquity, and potential anonymity of Internet media--email, web sites, and Internet forums--make them ideal communication channels for militant groups and terrorist organizations. As a result, terrorists groups and their followers have created a vast presence on the Internet. A recent report estimates that there are more than 5,000 Web sites created and maintained by known international terrorist groups, including Al-Qaeda, the Iraqi insurgencies, and many home-grown terrorist cells in Europe. Many of these sites are produced in multiple languages and can be hidden within innocuous-looking Web sites.
Because of its vital role in coordinating terror activities, analyzing Web content has become increasingly important to the intelligence agencies and research communities that monitor these groups, yet the sheer amount of material to be analyzed is so great that it can quickly overwhelm traditional methods of monitoring and surveillance.
This is where the Dark Web project comes in. Using advanced techniques such as Web spidering, link analysis, content analysis, authorship analysis, sentiment analysis and multimedia analysis, Chen and his team can find, catalogue and analyze extremist activities online. According to Chen, scenarios involving vast amounts of information and data points are ideal challenges for computational scientists, who use the power of advanced computers and applications to find patterns and connections where humans can not.
One of the tools developed by Dark Web is a technique called Writeprint, which automatically extracts thousands of multilingual, structural, and semantic features to determine who is creating 'anonymous' content online. Writeprint can look at a posting on an online bulletin board, for example, and compare it with writings found elsewhere on the Internet. By analyzing these certain features, it can determine with more than 95 percent accuracy if the author has produced other content in the past. The system can then alert analysts when the same author produces new content, as well as where on the Internet the content is being copied, linked to or discussed.
Dark Web also uses complex tracking software called Web spiders to search discussion threads and other content to find the corners of the Internet where terrorist activities are taking place. But according to Chen, sometimes the terrorists fight back.
"They can put booby-traps in their Web forums," Chen explains, "and the spider can bring back viruses to our machines." This online cat-and-mouse game means Dark Web must be constantly vigilant against these and other counter-measures deployed by the terrorists.
Despite the risks, Dark Web is producing tangible results in the global war on terror. The project team recently completed a study of online stories and videos designed to help train terrorists in how to build improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Understanding what information is being spread about IED methods and where in the world it is being downloaded can improve countermeasures that are developed to thwart them.
Dark Web is also a major research testbed for understanding the propaganda, ideology, communication, fundraising, command and control, and recruitment and training of terrorist groups. The Dark Web team has used the tools at their disposal to explore the content and impact of materials relating to "virtual imams" on the Internet, as well as terrorist training and weapons manuals.
Dark Web's capabilities are also being used to study the online presence of extremist groups and other social movement organizations. Chen sees applications for this Web mining approach for other academic fields.
"What we are doing is using this to study societal change," Chen says. "Evidence of this change is appearing online, and computational science can help other disciplines better understand this change."

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by National Science Foundation.
26953  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 14, 2007, 06:56:32 PM
Going to be interesting to see how that plays out!

Here's this:

Security chief says terrorists have been arrested on border
By Jeff Carlton / Associated Press
Article Launched: 09/12/2007 07:09:01 PM MDT


DALLAS -- Texas' top homeland security official said today that terrorists with ties to Hezbollah, Hamas and al-Qaida have been arrested crossing the Texas border with Mexico in recent years.
"Has there ever been anyone linked to terrorism arrested?" Texas Homeland Security Director Steve McCraw said in a speech to the North Texas Crime Commission. "Yes, there was."

His remarks appear to be among the most specific on the topic of terrorism arrests along the Texas-Mexico border. Local and elected officials have alluded to this happening but have been short on details.

Leticia Zamarripa, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in El Paso, said Wednesday she was unaware of any border arrests of people with terrorist ties. An ICE spokeswoman in San Antonio did not return phone messages left by The Associated Press. U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Lloyd M. Easterling was unable to comment.

However, McCraw's remarks are similar to those made recently by National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell, who last month told the El Paso Times that a small number of people with known links to terrorist organizations have been caught crossing the border.

McCraw identified the most notable figure captured as Farida Goolam Mahomed Ahmed, who was arrested in July 2004 at the McAllen airport. She carried $7,300 in various currencies and a South African passport with pages missing. Federal officials later learned she waded across the Rio Grande.

After her arrest, U.S.


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Advertisement

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Customs and Border Protection issued a release saying she was wanted for questioning about the bombing of a U.S. Consulate office, jibing with similar statements from a U.S. congressman.
But the department quickly retracted the terrorism connection, calling it "inaccurate on several levels." Michael Shelby, then the U.S. attorney in Houston, said in January 2005 that any suggestion Ahmed was involved in terrorism "is in error."

According to federal court records, Ahmed pleaded guilty to improper entry by an alien, making a false statement and false use of a passport. She was sentenced to time served and deported to South Africa. Other details of the case were sealed.

But on Wednesday, McCraw described Ahmed as having ties to an insurgent group in Pakistan and whose specialty was smuggling Afghanis and other foreign nationals across the border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Michael Friel could not confirm details about Ahmed on Wednesday.

McCraw also said that since March 2006, 347 people from what he called "terrorism-related countries" have been arrested crossing the border in Texas. The number of Iraqis captured at the border has tripled since last year, he said.

"A porous border without question is a national security threat," he said.

Terrorism isn't the only concern for homeland security officials in Texas, McCraw said. The state's size, population and geography make it susceptible to all sorts of disasters, both natural and man-made. Emergency responders must also be prepared for natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and wildfires, he said.

The state has made significant strides in emergency planning since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and Hurricane Rita, McCraw said. Plans include cooperating with large private companies, including grocery stores, Wal-Mart and the oil industry, to help the state respond during disasters.

"This is not a shot at FEMA, but we can't depend on FEMA to protect Texas," McCraw said. "The governor's mandate has made it clear: If those buses don't come, we better have our own buses. If that food doesn't come,we better have our own food. If that water doesn't come, we better have our own water to take care of Texas."



26954  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: September 14, 2007, 06:55:36 PM
GM:

Let's keep on track with the mission of this thread.  What do you think of President Bush's speech yesterday?

M.
26955  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: September 14, 2007, 04:33:37 PM
Woof Rog:

Given the concept of this particular thread, it makes most sense to me for it to be for people strategizing in favor of our success in these things, not opposing it.  By all means please continue to carry on in the other threads.

Marc

=========

Woof All:
---

From Jihadwatch

"Many U.S. Muslim groups viewed as moderate by the Justice Department and other government agencies secretly are linked to the pro-terrorist Muslim Brotherhood"

At last the truth -- the truth we have repeated here for years -- is coming out. "Inside the Ring," by Bill Gertz in the Washington Times (thanks to Matthew):
The international Sunni jihadist group Muslim Brotherhood set up numerous U.S. front groups since the 1990s that should be regarded as hostile and a threat to the United States, a Pentagon Joint Staff analyst said.

Stephen Caughlin, a lawyer and military intelligence specialist on the Joint Staff, stated in a Sept. 7 memorandum that many U.S. Muslim groups viewed as moderate by the Justice Department and other government agencies secretly are linked to the pro-terrorist Muslim Brotherhood. The groups also are engaged in influence and deception operations designed to mask their true aims, he said.

Documents entered into evidence in the federal terrorism trial in Dallas of the Holy Land Foundation, a charity charged with illegally funding the Palestinian Hamas terrorist group, reveal new security threats from a network of more than 29 U.S. Muslim groups.

"These documents are beginning to define the structure and outline of domestic jihad threat entities, associated nongovernmental organizations and potential terrorist or insurgent support systems," Mr. Caughlin said.

Specifically, a 1991 Muslim Brotherhood memorandum "describes aspects of the global jihad's strategic information warfare campaign and indications of its structure, reach and activities," Mr. Caughlin said.

The Muslim Brotherhood memo on organizing Muslims in North America said that all members "must understand their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within, and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions."

Mr. Caughlin said in his memo that "consequently, outreach strategies must be adjusted in the face of credible information that seeming Islamic humanitarian or professional nongovernmental organizations may be part of the global jihad with potential for being part of the terrorist or insurgent support system," he said.

Mr. Caughlin said the 1991 memorandum identifies the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) as part of the Muslim Brotherhood. The ISNA, one of more than 300 unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation trial, recently became a subject of controversy among officials who opposed the Justice Department's participation in a conference held last month, despite opposition from two members of Congress.
In August, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, and Rep. Sue Myrick, North Carolina Republican, wrote to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to oppose the Justice Department's attendance at the ISNA conference in Chicago as a "grave mistake" because it would legitimize a group with "extremist origins."

The Justice Department said in response that its participation at the Labor Day weekend meeting was part of "outreach efforts ... to educate the public about how the department works to protect religious freedom, voting rights, economic opportunity, and many other rights."

Mr. Caughlin warned in his memo that such outreach "can cause those responsible for its success to so narrowly focus on the outreach relationship that they miss the surrounding events and lose perspective."

"This could undermine unity of effort in homeland security, lead to potential for embarrassment for the [U.S. government] and legitimize threat organizations by providing them domestic sanctuary."

No war of Ideas

Sen. Joe Lieberman pressed senior U.S. intelligence and security officials this week on what the Bush administration is doing to counter the ideology of Islamic extremism domestically and internationally.

The answer from the top officials: Not much.

Mr. Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said during a hearing Monday that a war of ideas is needed to counter Islamic extremists.
"Because this is a war, but it is ultimately a war against, and with, an ideology that is inimical to our own values of freedom and tolerance and diversity," the Connecticut independent said.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III revealed during the hearing that the FBI has no counterideology response other than its "outreach" to Muslim-American communities so they "understand the FBI" and address "the radicalization issue," he said.

Asked whether the FBI has a responsibility to wage a battle of ideas within U.S. Muslim-American communities, Mr. Mueller said: "You put that where I would say no, that it would not be our responsibility for any religion to engage in the war of ideas."

The FBI's responsibility, he said, is "to explain that once one goes over the line and it becomes not a war of ideas but a criminal offense, this is what you can expect, and to elicit the support of those in whatever religious community to assist us in assuring that those who cross that line are appropriately investigated and convicted."

The comment shows that despite the creation of a dedicated FBI intelligence-gathering branch, the bureau remains limited to investigation and law enforcement.

Retired Vice Adm. Scott Redd, head of the National Counterterrorism Center who has a strategic operational role in countering terrorism, said one of the "four pillars" of the U.S. war strategy is the "war of ideas," but he noted that there is no "home office" for that effort in the United States.
Retired Vice Adm. Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence, said the intelligence community does not conduct any battle of ideas against terrorists in the United States unless there is a foreign connection.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff also said nothing is being done domestically to battle Islamist extremist ideas. The department's incident management team, he said, is focused on civil rights or civil liberties — not fighting terrorists' ideology.
26956  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 14, 2007, 03:13:59 PM

http://www.heritage.org:80/Research/Immigration/bg2069.cfm
September 13, 2007
A Sleeper Amnesty: Time to Wake Up from the DREAM Act
by Kris W. Kobach, D.Phil., J.D.
Backgrounder #2069

Just three months after the Senate immigration bill met its well-deserved end, amnesty advocates in the U.S. Congress resumed their efforts. Recently, Senator Richard Durbin (D–IL) announced on the Senate floor his intention to offer the Development, Relief, and Edu­cation for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act as an amend­ment to the defense authorization bill.

The DREAM Act (S. 774) is a nightmare. It is a mas­sive amnesty that extends to the millions of illegal aliens who entered the United States before the age of 16. The illegal alien who applies for this amnesty is immediately rewarded with "conditional" lawful per­manent resident (green card) status, which can be converted to a non-conditional green card in short order. The alien can then use his newly acquired status to seek green cards for the parents who brought him in illegally in the first place. In this way, it is also a back­door amnesty for the millions of illegal aliens who brought their children with them to the United States.

What is less well known about the DREAM Act is that it also allows illegal aliens to receive in-state tuition rates at public universities, discriminating against U.S. citizens from out of state and law-abiding foreign students. It repeals a 1996 federal law that pro­hibits any state from offering in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens unless the state also offers in-state tuition rates to all U.S. citizens.

On its own, the DREAM Act never stood a chance of passing. Every scientific opinion poll on the subject has shown over 70 percent opposition to giving in-state tuition benefits to illegal aliens.

Not surprisingly, the DREAM Act languished in committee for five years after it was first introduced in 2001—until the opportunity arose to hitch it to the Senate's "comprehensive" immigration bills of 2006 and 2007.

To understand just what an insult to the rule of law the DREAM Act is, it is important to look at the history behind it.

A Brief History of the In-State Tuition Debate
In September 1996, Congress passed the land­mark Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). Led by Lamar Smith (R– TX) in the House of Representatives and Alan Simp­son (R–WY) in the Senate, Congress significantly toughened the nation's immigration laws. To his credit, President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law.

Open-borders advocates in some states—most notably California—had already raised the possibil­ity of offering in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens who attend public universities. To prevent such a development, the IIRIRA's sponsors inserted a clearly worded provision that prohibited any state from doing so unless it provided the same dis­counted tuition to all U.S. citizens:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or a polit­ical subdivision) for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an amount, dura­tion, and scope) without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident.

Members of Congress reasoned that no state would be interested in giving up the extra revenue from out-of-state students, so this provision would ensure that illegal aliens would not be rewarded with a taxpayer-subsidized college education. The IIRIRA's proponents never imagined that some states might simply disobey federal law.

States Subsidizing the College Education of Illegal Aliens
However, that is precisely what happened. In 1999, radical liberals in the California legislature pushed ahead with their plan to have taxpayers sub­sidize the college education of illegal aliens.

Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh (D) sponsored a bill that would have made illegal aliens who had resided in California for three years during high school eligible for in-state tuition rates at California community colleges and universities. In August 2000, the California legislature passed his bill. However, Democrat Governor Gray Davis vetoed the bill in September 2000, stating clearly in his veto message that the bill would violate federal law:

ndocumented aliens are ineligible to receive postsecondary education benefits based on state residence…. IIRIRA would require that all out-of-state legal residents be eligible for this same benefit. Based on Fall 1998 enrollment figures…this legisla­tion could result in a revenue loss of over $63.7 million to the state.

Undeterred, Firebaugh introduced his bill again, and the California legislature passed it again. In 2002, facing flagging poll numbers and desperate to rally Hispanic voters to his cause, Governor Davis signed the bill.

Meanwhile, similar interests in Texas had suc­ceeded in enacting their own version of the bill. Since then, interest groups lobbying for illegal aliens have introduced similar legislation in most of the other states. The majority of state legislatures had the good sense to reject the idea, but eight states fol­lowed the examples of California and Texas, includ­ing some states in the heart of "red" America. Today, the 10 states that offer in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens are: California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Washington. (The legislatures of Maryland and Connecticut passed similar bills in 2007, but the governors of those states rightly vetoed the bills.)

In most of these 10 states, the law was passed under cover of darkness because public opinion was strongly against subsidizing the college educa­tion of illegal aliens at taxpayer expense. The gover­nors even declined to hold press conferences or signing ceremonies heralding the new laws.

Not surprisingly, when voters themselves decide the question, a very different result occurs. In November 2006, Arizona voters passed Proposition 300, which expressly barred Arizona universities from offering in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens— 71.4 percent voted in favor.

The American people realize the injustice of giving illegal aliens a taxpayer-subsidized education when out-of-state U.S. citizens and law-abiding foreign students have to pay the full cost of their education.

This strong public sentiment against giving ille­gal aliens access to in-state tuition rates is powerful enough to swing the results of an election. In Nebraska, the last of the 10 states to pass the law, that is exactly what happened. During the 2006 session, Nebraska's unicameral legislature passed an in-state tuition bill for illegal aliens. Governor Dave Heineman vetoed the bill because it violated federal law and was bad policy. In mid-April the legislature, which included an unusually large number of lame-duck Senators, overrode his veto by a vote of 30 to 19.

The veto would become an issue in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary. Heineman's opponent was the legendary University of Nebraska football coach and sitting U.S. Representative Tom Osborne, a political demigod in the Cornhusker State. Osborne had never received less than 82 percent of the vote in any election. Heineman, on the other hand, had not yet won a gubernatorial election. He became governor in 2005 when Gov­ernor Mike Johanns resigned to become U.S. Secre­tary of Agriculture.

Few believed that Heineman had a chance of winning the primary. He was behind in all of the polls. But then Coach Osborne fumbled. During a debate, he stated that he favored the idea of giving subsidized tuition to illegal aliens. Heineman seized the opportunity, and highlighted this difference of opinion between the candidates in his political ads. The voters reacted negatively to Osborn's position, and Heineman surged ahead in the final weeks of the race. He beat Osborn by 50 percent to 44 per­cent in the primary election on May 9, 2006. After the vote, both candidates said that the in-state tuition issue had been decisive.

State-Subsidized Lawbreaking
In all 10 states, the in-state tuition laws make for shockingly bad policy.

First, providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens amounts to giving them a taxpayer-financed education. In contrast, out-of-state students pay the full cost of their education. This gift to illegal aliens costs taxpayers a great deal of money at a time when tuition rates are rising across the country. For exam­ple,  in California, a lawsuit on the matter has re­vealed the staggering cost to the taxpayer: The state pays more than $100 million annually to subsidize the college education of thousands of illegal aliens.

Second, these states are encouraging aliens to vio­late federal immigration law. Indeed, in some of the states, breaking federal law is an express prerequi­site to receive the benefit of in-state tuition rates. Those states expressly deny in-state tuition to legal aliens who have valid student visas. And in all 10 states, an alien is eligible for in-state tuition rates only if he remains in the state in violation of federal law and evades federal law enforcement. In this way states are directly rewarding this illegal behavior.

This situation is comparable to a state passing a law that rewards residents with state tax credits for cheating on their federal income taxes. These states are providing direct financial subsidies to those who violate federal law.

Third, not only are such laws unfair to aliens who follow the law, but they are slaps in the faces of law-abiding American citizens. For example, a student from Missouri who attends Kansas University and has always played by the rules and obeyed the law is charged three times the tuition charged to an alien whose very presence in the country is a violation of federal criminal law.

This gift to illegal aliens comes at a time when millions of U.S. citizens have had to mortgage their future to attend college. During 2002–2007, college costs rose 35 percent after adjusting for inflation. Two-thirds of college students now graduate with debt, and the amount of debt averages $19,200. In a world of scarce education resources, U.S. citizens should be first in line to receive a break on college costs—not aliens who break federal law.

Even if a good argument could be made for giv­ing in-state tuition benefits to illegal aliens, the bot­tom line is that the policy violates federal law. These 10 states have brazenly cast aside the constraints imposed by Congress and the U.S. Constitution.

Pending Lawsuits
In July 2004, a group of U.S. citizen students from out of state filed suit in federal district court in Kansas to enjoin the state from providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens.They pointed out that Kansas is clearly violating federal law, as well as vio­lating the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Con­stitution by discriminating against them in favor of illegal aliens.

The district judge did not render any decision on the central questions of the case. Instead, he avoided the issues entirely by ruling that the plain­tiffs lacked a private right of action to bring their statutory challenge and lacked standing to bring their Equal Protection challenge. The case is cur­rently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Meanwhile, in December 2005, another group of U.S. citizen students filed a class-action suit in a California state court.They too maintain that the state is violating federal law and the U.S. Constitu­tion. Pursuant to a California civil rights statute, they are also seeking damages to compensate them for the extra tuition that they have paid above that charged to illegal aliens.

The DREAM Act Amnesty
Now, just when it looks as if U.S. citizens might vindicate their rights under federal law and the way­ward states might be held accountable, Senator Durbin and his pro-amnesty allies are seeking to offer the offending states a pardon.

The DREAM Act grants an unusual reprieve to the 10 states that have ignored federal law. The Act retroactively repeals the 1996 federal law that the 10 states violated, making it as though the provi­sions in the 1996 law never existed.

On top of this insult to the rule of law, the DREAM Act includes a massive amnesty, as noted above. This amnesty opens a wide path to citizen­ship for any alien who entered the country before the age of 16 and has been in the country for at least five years. The guiding notion seems to be "The longer you have violated federal law, the better."

Beyond that, all the alien needs is a high school diploma or a GED earned in the United States. If he can persuade an institution of higher education in the United States—any community college, technical school, or college—to admit him, that will suffice. Any illegal alien who meets these con­ditions (or who can produce fraudulent papers indicating that he meets the conditions) gets immediate legal status in the form of a "condi­tional" green card good for six years, according to Section 4(a)(1).

It is important to recognize just how sweeping this amnesty is.

There is no upper age limit. Any illegal alien can walk into a U.S. Customs and Immigration Ser­vices office and declare that he is eligible. For example, a 45 year old can claim that he illegally entered the United States 30 years ago at the age of 15. There is no requirement that the alien prove that he entered the United States at the claimed time by providing particular documents. The DREAM Act's Section 4(a) merely requires him to "demonstrate" that he is eligible—which in practice could mean simply making a sworn statement to that effect. Thus, it is an invitation for just about every illegal alien to fraudulently claim the amnesty.


The alien then has six years to adjust his status from a conditional green card holder to a non-conditional one. To do so, he need only complete two years of study at an institution of higher edu­cation. If the alien has already completed two years of study, he can convert to non-conditional status immediately (and use his green card as a platform to bring in family members). As an alternative to two years of study, he can enlist in the U.S. military and spend two years there. This provision allows Senator Durbin to claim that the DREAM Act is somehow germane to a defense authorization bill.


An illegal alien who applies for the DREAM Act amnesty gets to count his years under "condi­tional" green card status toward the five years needed for citizenship. (Section 5(e)) On top of that, the illegal alien could claim "retroactive benefits" and start the clock running the day that the DREAM Act is enacted. (Section 6) In combi­nation, these two provisions put illegal aliens on a high-speed track to U.S. citizenship—moving from illegal alien to U.S. citizen in as little as five years. Lawfully present aliens, meanwhile, must follow a slower path to citizenship.


It would be absurdly easy for just about any ille­gal alien—even one who does not qualify for the amnesty—to evade the law. According to Section 4(f) of the DREAM Act, once an alien files an application—any application, no matter how ridiculous—the federal government is prohib­ited from deporting him. Moreover, with few exceptions, federal officers are prohibited from either using information from the application to deport the alien or sharing that information with another federal agency, under threat of up to $10,000 fine. Thus, an alien's admission that he has violated federal immigration law cannot be used against him—even if he never had any chance of qualifying for the DREAM Act amnesty in the first place.
The DREAM Act also makes the illegal aliens eli­gible for federal student loans and federal work-study programs—another benefit that law-abiding foreign students cannot receive—all at taxpayer expense. A consistent theme emerges: Illegal aliens are treated much more favorably than aliens who fol­low the law. There is no penalty for illegal behavior.

Conclusion
In addition to being a dream for those who have broken the law, the DREAM Act raises an even larger issue regarding the relationship between states and the federal government. The 10 states have created a 21st century version of the nullification move­ment—defying federal law simply because they do not like it. In so doing, they have challenged the basic structure of the republic. The DREAM Act would pardon this offense and, in so doing, encour­age states to defy other federal law in the future.

One thing that we have learned in the struggle to enforce our nation's immigration laws is that states cannot be allowed to undermine the efforts of the federal government to enforce the law. Only if all levels of government are working in concert to uphold the rule of law can it be fully restored.

Kris W. Kobach is Professor of Law at the Univer­sity of Missouri-Kansas City and a Visiting Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. He served as counsel and chief adviser on immigration law to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft from 2001 to 2003. He is representing the U.S. citizen plaintiffs in the Kansas and California law­suits described in this paper, and has published a longer article explaining this issue, as well as the legal argu­ments involved, in the New York University Journal of Legislation and Public Policy, vol. 10, no. 3 (2006-07).


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[1] 8 U.S.C. § 1623.


[2] Gray Davis, veto message to California Assembly on AB 1197, September 29, 2000, at info.sen.ca.gov/pub/99-00/bill/asm/ab_1151-
1200/ab_1197_vt_20000929.html (August 10, 2006).

[3] See Day v. Sebelius, 376 F. Supp. 2d 1022 (2005).

[4] See Stuart Silverstein, "Out-of-State Students Sue over Tuition: Plaintiffs Are Challenging California Practices That Require Them to Pay Higher College Costs Than Some Illegal Immigrants," Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2005, p. B3.
 
26957  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: September 14, 2007, 03:00:00 PM

The debate continues:
======================

From www.christianaction.org:

(The Blotter) When Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was strapped down to the water-board, he felt humiliated — not by the treatment but by the fact that a woman, a red-headed CIA supervisor, was allowed to witness the spectacle, a former intelligence officer told ABC News.
The al Qaeda mastermind, known as KSM, stubbornly held out for about two minutes — far longer than any of the other “high-value” terror targets who were subjected to the technique, the harshest from a list of six techniques approved for use by the CIA and Bush administration lawyers, sources said.
Then KSM started talking, in idiomatic English he learned as a high school foreign exchange student and polished at a North Carolina college in the 1980s, sources said.
“It was an extraordinary amount of time for him to hold out,” one former CIA officer told ABCNews.com. “A red-headed female supervisor was in the room when he was being water-boarded. It was humiliating to him. So he held out.”
“Then he started talking, and he never stopped,” this former officer said. KSM was never water-boarded again, and in hours and hours of conversation with his interrogators, often over a cup of tea, he poured out his soul and the murderous deeds he committed.
“He was sitting across the table from his interrogator, and he just blurted out, ‘I killed Daniel Pearl. I killed him Hahal (slit his throat in a ritual fashion).’ There was no water-boarding, no belly slapping; just two guys sitting across the table having a cup of tea.”
Water-boarding consists of strapping an individual to an inclined board with the person’s head slightly lower than the feet and pouring water over the face to simulate drowning. It triggers a gag reflex and can make a person believe death is near. Water-boarding has been denounced as “torture” by human rights groups and many U.S. officials, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who likened it to a mock execution.
But what if that one episode of water-boarding KSM had not occurred? It is a question at the center of the debate over the harshest technique in the CIA’s repertoire that has raged for three years now, a time frame, intelligence officials note, in which the technique has not been used.
Would the agency have eventually worn KSM down? Would the confessions have poured forth about Daniel Pearl’s beheading, about his role in the 1995 plot by his nephew, master bomber Ramzi Yousef, to assassinate Pope John Paul II during a visit to Manila, and detailed information about his role as mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks?
In the case of 9/11, U.S. intelligence officials were in the dark as to how exactly it was plotted because at the time KSM brought the idea to Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda terrorist leader had just stopped using mobile telephones after media reports raised suspicions they were monitored by U.S. intelligence.
“If one water-board session got him to talk, you could have gotten him to talk (without it), given time and patience,” said Brad Garrett, an ABC News consultant and former FBI agent. Garrett has 30 years of experience interrogating terrorists such as Yousef, the Pakistani man who killed two CIA employees at the gates to the agency’s Langley, Va. headquarters in 1994 and hundreds of violent criminals.
“If in fact it’s true that they water-boarded him once and then he started talking and provided reliable information, then he falls under the category of the small minority of people on whom it works. But torture seldom works. Most people start talking…to get the pain to stop,” Garrett said.
But in many cases, the harsh intelligence techniques led to questionable confessions and downright lies, say officers with firsthand knowledge of the program. That included statements that al Qaeda was building dirty bombs.
“It is true that the person who was saying the nuke stuff said it under pressure. The analysts believed it was not true; it did not conform to other information,” one former intelligence officer told ABC News.
As these targets were subjected to the increasingly harsh interrogation methods — in some cases including water-boarding — KSM sat in his cell in Poland, writing poetry in English, writing letters to the president and to the head of the CIA, and debating the merits of Christianity and Islam with his captor.
“Using torture says that we aren’t any better than countries that historically tortured people. What are we telling the world about the United States?” Garrett, who has lectured on the subject of interrogation and torture and the perception of a nation, asked.
And just yesterday, an intelligence source told ABC News that the dapper man behind the most successful terror plot against America was not rumpled and disheveled when he was apprehended. He was as well-kept as ever.
But the CIA, conscious of the propaganda value of appearance, messed his hair and pulled his shirt from his pants, leaving us with the image of KSM we have today, and according to days of NSA intercepts, leaving his fellow al Qaeda terrorists chagrined over the changes to their esteemed colleague.
26958  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 14, 2007, 02:54:26 PM
The Trans-Atlantic Militant Connection
Authorities on both sides of the Atlantic arrested a total of four people Sept. 12 in connection with a plot to stage jihadist attacks against Austria and Germany. Earlier in the month, Danish authorities arrested eight people on suspicion of plotting attacks in Denmark, and a day later German authorities arrested three people on suspicion of plotting to attack U.S. and Uzbek targets in Germany. Counterterrorism officials in Europe and the United States believe the plots in Germany and Denmark are related.

This latest wave of arrests demonstrates the interconnection between militant cells in Europe and North America -- and serves as a warning on the increasing militant activity on European soil.

On Sept. 12, two men and a woman were arrested in Vienna, Austria, for allegedly posting a video on an Islamist Web site threatening attacks against Germany and Austria because of those countries' support for the NATO mission in Afghanistan. The three allegedly are associated with the Global Islamic Media Front, a media outlet known for spreading al Qaeda messages on the Internet. The outlet also reportedly has links to the Army of Islam, the militant group linked to the kidnapping of British reporter Alan Johnston in Gaza in March.

Working with Austrian authorities, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested Said Namouh, a Moroccan, in connection with the alleged plot and charged him with conspiring to detonate an explosive device. Canadian authorities said the plot was not directed at targets inside Canada, but that it was linked to the Austrian plot. The Global Islamic Media Front reportedly has other members in Canada, indicating that more arrests could follow after Canadian and Austrian investigators examine evidence found at Namouh's apartment. Namouh, who was taken into custody near Montreal, allegedly had communicated with the suspected militants in Austria over the Internet.





On Sept. 4, Danish counterterrorism forces in Copenhagen arrested eight people -- six Danish citizens and two foreigners with Danish residence permits -- on suspicion of plotting militant attacks against targets in Denmark. Less than a day later, German authorities raided several locations in Germany and arrested three people, including two Germans who had converted to Islam, on suspicion of plotting to attack U.S. and Uzbek military, civilian and diplomatic targets in Germany.

This spike in activity -- three cells arrested within 10 days -- highlights Europe's increasingly precarious security situation. Every year since 2004 there has been a major attack, failed attack or thwarted plot targeting a European city. Countries such as Spain, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom have had frequent incidents of militant activity, but other countries are feeling the heat as well. Although there have been militant elements present in Germany, Denmark and Austria, overall they had not been actively engaged in plotting serious attacks.

Germany, in particular, has seen an increase in the danger, beginning in summer 2006 when an attack targeting passenger trains failed in western Germany due to poorly constructed bombs. Although the plot that was thwarted Sept. 7 probably would have failed anyway, it was much larger in scope than past attempts, indicating that Germany's local cells are getting more ambitious.

The jihadists despise Europe as much as, if not more than, they do the United States, and they have made it clear that they intend to stage an attack on European soil. In addition to the threat from the Muslim immigrant community, the German example demonstrates the ongoing threat from within -- in the form of disassociated Europeans or longtime residents who convert to Islam and end up in one of these cells. The jihadists' poor tradecraft could be Europe's saving grace at the moment, as this failing appears to be one of the major reasons Europe has not experienced a major attack since the London bombings of 2005.

The arrest in Canada is another example of how grassroots jihadist cells in Europe can be linked to cells across the Atlantic. In June 2006, U.S., British and Canadian authorities uncovered a plot to attack targets in the United States and Canada. In addition to a European link, both the Canadian and U.S. cells had links to militant communities in South Asia.

By taking advantage of the well-developed communication links across the Atlantic, the relative ease of travel between Europe and North America, and contacts between immigrant communities on both continents as well as in the Middle East and South Asia, Europe's jihadist problem could easily become North America's problem, too.
Contact Us
26959  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: September 14, 2007, 02:46:51 PM
I know so very well what you mean!!! tongue 

FWIW here's this from GG in today's newletter on LNOP:
============

George Gilder, Gilder Telecosm Forum (9/9/07):  People everywhere want to know. What are the limits of EZchip (LNOP)?

The Linley Group defines EZ's limits as some portion of the $700M Carrier Ethernet market, particularly the demand for metro ethernet switches. Yet the NPU performs generic functions of routing, switching and managing traffic for Internet Protocol packets and Ethernet frames, which are by no means restricted to metro slots. These functions have to be performed everywhere the Internet reaches, from entertainment rooms to Googleplex datacenters, from telco central offices to enterprise local area networks, from surveillance devices to satellite links, from automobiles to airplanes, from storage area networks to medical centers. The current carrier switches are merely the first of the markets to emerge, but they do not begin to represent the limits for EZchips.
26960  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Did Sweden apologize on: September 14, 2007, 01:11:13 PM
http://www.arabnews.com/?page=1&section=0&article=101170&d=14&m=9&y=2007

 
Sweden Did Not Apologize on Behalf of Paper: Envoy
Siraj Wahab, Arab News
 
JEDDAH, 14 September 2007 — Sweden yesterday denied that its ambassador to Saudi Arabia apologized to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) for the publication of a caricature of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in a Swedish newspaper.

According to a statement released to the media on Wednesday by the Jeddah-based organization, it was stated that the Swedish ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Jan Thesleff, met OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu on Tuesday in Jeddah and “offered his deepest apologies for the controversy created by the publishing of the hurtful depiction.”

The Swedish Foreign Ministry, however, immediately denied that the ambassador had made any apology, saying he had only expressed regret.

“The ambassador repeated his regret at the controversy created by the publication, but not for the publication itself,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anna Bjorkander was quoted as saying by The Local newspaper of Sweden.

Bjorkander described the OIC’s interpretation of the meeting as a “misunderstanding.”

She told the Swedish newspaper that Thesleff was dissatisfied that the OIC had said he had apologized, but did not plan to demand that the organization change its statement. “He said he is not satisfied with the use of the word ‘apologize,’” Bjorkander said.

The publication of the caricature in the Swedish newspaper, Nerikes Allehanda, on Aug. 18 sparked anger in the Muslim world, with Egypt, Pakistan and Iran lodging formal protests with the Swedish government.

During his meeting with the Swedish ambassador, the OIC chief had conveyed his “concerns that this kind of irresponsible and provocative incitement in the name of defending freedom of expression was leading the international community toward more confrontation and division.”

Ihsanoglu strongly condemned the newspaper for publishing the blasphemous caricature saying it was an irresponsible and despicable act with malicious and provocative intentions in the name of freedom of expression.

“The caricature was intended solely to insult and arouse the sentiments of Muslims of the world,” he said.

“The international community was well aware of the serious impact of such publications that were globally felt during the controversy created by the publication of similar cartoons in a Danish newspaper last year,” he said.

The Swedish ambassador informed Ihsanoglu that his government had taken careful and serious note of his statement and acted in a proactive manner at an early stage. “Sweden feels that the best possible action to resolve the crisis is to choose the path of dialogue,” he said and pointed out that Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt had taken immediate steps by offering his personal regrets to the Muslim community in Sweden.

“Sweden is a country where people of different faiths can live together side by side,” the Swedish prime minister said in his statement late last month. “The foundation of this, our social model, is mutual respect and understanding, but also a desire for joint repudiation of offensive acts as well as acts of violence or aggression.”

While expressing regret, the Swedish prime minister pointed out that Sweden’s social model is based on the premise that politicians must not pass judgment on freedom of the press and expression.

Ihsanoglu welcomed the prime minister’s statement. However, he felt, there was a need for a legal mechanism for stopping the recurrence of such extreme provocation.

He said by intentionally offending the sentiments of 1.3 billion Muslims, these caricaturists were leading the international community toward more confrontation and division and providing extremist and deviant ideologies with valuable ammunition.
 
26961  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 14, 2007, 11:37:41 AM
"The danger [Hillary Clinton] runs is that in attempting to appease the left wing of her party she becomes unacceptable to the majority of Americans once they understand what she said she'd do. She is actually much more centrist than MoveOn.org. She is much tougher on military affairs than [her party's] Left. She is more rational, and I have very great respect for her as a hardworking professional. No Republican should think she is going to be easy to beat. But I have watched her now for a year be gradually pulled to the left. Her husband was too clever to do that" -- Newt Gingrich, in an interview with National Journal.
26962  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: September 14, 2007, 11:15:24 AM
Profiles of valor: Marine Corps Res. Sgt. Hunter
Marine Corps Reserve Sergeant Jeff Hunter has twice faced death to save injured comrades. In May 2005, insurgents ambushed then-Corporal Hunter’s platoon as it embarked on a dawn assault in Haditha. When Hunter’s squad leader entered a nearby house to stop the insurgents who were attacking from within, he was shot in the chest. Seeing his fallen leader, Hunter rushed into the house under shield of his own M16, reached his squad leader, and, positioning his own body between the injured Marine and the enemy, carried his comrade out of the house. Hunter then led his troops in successfully clearing the house of insurgents, killing one and capturing three.

Two months later, in a long and intense battle, insurgents shot one of Hunter’s Marines. After shooting the two insurgents from the shelter of a low wall, Hunter attempted to rescue the fallen Marine. Heavy gunfire, however, stopped his two attempts. Hunter then sprinted directly through the line of fire to an M1A1 tank located across the street. He used the tank to fire upon and neutralize the enemy’s position, and his platoon was able to reach and recover the mortally wounded Marine.

For his valor, Sgt. Hunter was awarded the Silver Star. Although Hunter claims of his actions, “I honestly don’t believe I did anything all that heroic,” America believes differently.
26963  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / If you have a weak heart, you better sit down on: September 14, 2007, 11:04:19 AM
stratfor.com

FRANCE: France is considering more fully participating in NATO, French Defense Minister Herve Morin said. France lacks influence in the military structure and misses opportunities to hold command positions because of its sideline status, Morin said. He also criticized France for appearing opposed to NATO's continuing evolution. NATO officials said they have not as yet held formal talks with France over full NATO re-entry.
26964  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 14, 2007, 10:38:21 AM
North Korea and Syria
September 14, 2007; Page A12
A nuclear-armed North Korea is dangerous enough. A North Korea that shares its nuclear technology with other bad actors is worse -- especially if the partner-state is known to be cozy with terrorists. The potential nexus between WMD and terrorism is the biggest threat to the security of the U.S. and its allies.

So reports this week in the New York Times, the Washington Post and elsewhere that North Korea may be cooperating with Syria on some sort of nuclear facility are worth taking seriously. Syria has close ties with Iran and provides sanctuary within its borders for Hezbollah, a group that the National Intelligence Estimate released in July warns may be prepared to launch terrorist attacks against the U.S. Pyongyang has a long, well-documented history of sharing missile technology with Syria, and it is all too believable that sharing nuclear knowhow could be next.

Israel is said to be the primary source of the intelligence on a North Korean-Syrian nuclear connection. But neither Israel nor the Bush Administration has commented officially on this or another mysterious event -- Israel's flyover and apparent raid last week on targets inside Syria. Given the Administration's experience with prewar intelligence on WMD in Iraq, it's understandable that it would want to have solid evidence before going public.

Meanwhile, however, the six-party talks on the dismantling of North Korea's nuclear program have picked up steam, with Pyongyang promising to dismantle its facilities by the end of the year and the U.S. pledging to consider such goodies as fuel aid and removing North Korea from its list of terror-sponsoring states. U.S., Russian and Chinese inspectors turned up at the Yongbyon nuclear facility this week.

If North Korea is moving its nuclear facilities to Syria -- or "merely" proliferating -- it would undermine everything at the heart of that agreement, as well as cross a long-stated American red line that Pyongyang not proliferate. Even if it is unsure of the full implications of the intelligence, the Administration has an obligation not to proceed with a nuclear deal until Pyongyang and Damascus come clean.
WSJ
26965  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: September 14, 2007, 10:17:33 AM
Women Drivers
September 14, 2007; Page A12
'Cats and dogs in the developed world have more rights than Arab women," says Wajeha al-Huwaider, the Saudi writer and human rights activist. With that in mind, she has co-founded, along with Fawzia al-Uyyouni, the League of Demanders of Women's Right to Drive Cars in Saudi Arabia.

Don't laugh; such a movement will strike many as quixotic considering the current status of women in the desert kingdom. In Saudi Arabia, the fairer sex can't work, travel, study, marry or see a doctor without the permission of a male "legal guardian." Strict dress codes are enforced by the vice police. Dissent, by men or women, isn't tolerated. Ms. al-Huwaider says she is taking one step at a time.

The league is now collecting signatures for a petition to be delivered to King Abdullah on September 23, the country's national holiday. Published on the liberal Arab Web site Aafaq last week, the petition demands that the King "return that which has been stolen from women: the right to (free) movement through the use of cars," according to a translation by MEMRI media research institute. As of this writing, the petition has collected 220 signatures. Those are 220 brave people.

There have been small signs of recent progress for women in Saudi Arabia, especially in the workplace. King Abdullah issued a decree last year saying women should be encouraged to work in all fields; and an increasing number of workplaces, including in government, are establishing separate sections for female employees. A year ago women were admitted to law school for the first time. Now if only they were free to drive themselves to school or work.

WSJ
26966  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 14, 2007, 09:07:08 AM
Although this piece is from today's NY Slimes, the thoughts of men such as Gen Abizaid are worth knowing.

A thought:  I find it hard to think that I am the only person to think of this, but in that much of the Shiite-Sunni problem has its roots in the acts of Sunnis when they supported AQ and the acts of AQ against Shiites, doesn't it make sense to say that the Sunnis turning on AQ, (besides being a powerful message throughout the Arab and Muslim world- which seems to me super important) is a pre-requisite for and lays the foundation for Sunnis and Shiia being able to work things out?
================

Why Officers Differ on Troop Reduction
By DAVID S. CLOUD
Published: September 14, 2007
WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 — The view of the way forward in Iraq that President Bush articulated on Thursday night was the same one that Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, has outlined in Washington all week.

The Reach of War

 » It holds that the military effort there is showing signs of success, that too fast a withdrawal would be foolhardy, and that while the future will be difficult and full of setbacks, it is possible to envision that the American strategy will pay off in the future.

But that vision, which defers a firm decision on steeper reductions in the force, remains deeply unpopular to some current and retired officers, who say the White House and its battlefield commander are continuing to strain the troops, with little prospect of long-term success.

It is the second time in 10 months that Mr. Bush has opted for higher troop levels in Iraq than are favored by some of his senior military advisers. Among those who supported a smaller troop increase than the one Mr. Bush ordered last January were members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Now, some of his advisers would prefer setting a faster timetable for drawing the force back down.

Some even suggest that Mr. Bush’s portrayal of the strategy as relying heavily on recommendations from General Petraeus has been more than a little disingenuous, given that it was unlikely that a battlefield commander would repudiate his own plans.

“This approach can work for brief periods in many places, but it’s not a good long-term solution,” said Douglas A. Macgregor, a retired Army colonel and a critic of the Bush administration’s handling of Iraq. He called General Petraeus’s testimony “another deceitful attempt on the part of the generals and their political masters to extend our stay in the country long enough until Bush leaves office.”

General Petraeus told lawmakers during two days of Congressional testimony this week that his plan for reducing the American presence in Iraq by five combat brigades through mid-July was “fully supported” by Adm. William J. Fallon, the chief of Central Command and the senior American commander in the Middle East, as well as by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The general said, “There has been no recommendation I am aware of that would have laid out by any of those individuals a more rapid withdrawal.”

He acknowledged though that he and other top-ranking officers had begun “discussions about the pace of the mission transition,” a debate that remains unresolved and is likely to flare up again early next year, during a promised further review of additional troop cuts.

Among active-duty officers, the voices of skepticism about Mr. Bush’s approach have been more muted, but they have been significant. The officers who have pushed for deeper cuts have questioned whether his timetable — a drawdown to 15 combat brigades next July, from 20 now — would allow the Army to meet its minimum goal of giving soldiers at least a year at home for every year they are deployed.

Even before General Petraeus appeared before Congress this week, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, last week questioned the significance of what his colleague had achieved.

General Casey, who was General Petraeus’s predecessor as the top commander in Iraq, said that while the decision to send additional forces had produced a “tactical effect” and brought “a temporary and local impact on the security situation,” the “$64,000 question” was “whether the opportunities created by the military could be taken advantage of by the Iraqi political leadership.”

“I think a smaller force will cause Iraqis to do more faster,” General Casey added, speaking at a breakfast sponsored by Government Executive magazine.

Advisers close to General Petraeus say General Casey’s comments were hardly those of a disinterested observer, given that he was effectively dismissed from his post in Iraq as conditions worsened during his tenure.

But his critique goes beyond deeper. He and others on the Joint Chiefs of Staff contend that the current force levels in Iraq cannot be sustained, given the current size of the Army.

Among Mr. Bush’s other senior military advisers, differences about how deep the cuts should go appeared to have been set aside with the decision to postpone further decisions until next spring.

Admiral Fallon was said by some officers to believe that only by giving the Iraqi government a clearer sense that the American troop commitment was limited would the Iraqis take steps aimed at achieving reconciliation.

He also worries about having enough forces in reserve to handle contingencies outside Iraq and in Afghanistan.

Adm. Michael G. Mullen, the current chief of naval operations, who takes over as chairman of the Joint Chiefs next month, has also raised concerns about force levels, though he also cautions against a withdrawal before the current strategy is allowed to work.

The deeper doubts voiced by General Casey about the prospects for Iraqi reconciliation are shared by the retired general John P. Abizaid, who led the Central Command until January.

“It was clear that putting additional troops in would gain temporary security,” General Abizaid said in a rare interview on Tuesday with The Associated Press.

“What was not clear to me was what we were going to do diplomatically, economically, politically and informationally to make sure that we moved forward in a way that wasn’t just temporary.”
26967  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: September 14, 2007, 08:54:32 AM
"It must be observed that our revenues are raised almost wholly
on imported goods."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to Gouverneur Morris, 1793)

Reference: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition,
9:198

“Love your neighbor as yourself and your country more than yourself.” —Thomas Jefferson

 
26968  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 13, 2007, 10:19:55 PM
I suspect Turkey's calculus re the Kurds trumps most things.  AQ is a Arab Sunni phenomenon and the Turks are not Arabs (Are they Sunni? Don't know)  I'm guessing they don't care much for Syria and its friendship with Iranian Shia either cheesy
26969  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: September 13, 2007, 10:17:37 PM
Russia: A New Development in Naval Propulsion
Summary

An "accidental" news story on a local Russian municipality's Web site that has now been removed offers some intriguing possibilities for the future of Russian submarines.

Analysis

Details of a potential new "top-secret" Russian submarine were "accidentally" released by the municipal government of Sarov on Sept. 6. The story, published on the municipality's Web site, was removed Sept. 11, the day before Russian daily Kommersant (a paper friendly to the Kremlin) published the story. The Russian navy has denied any knowledge of the Project 20120 submarine. Politics and media faux pas aside, if true, the details of this new submarine could indicate an advance in Russian air-independent propulsion (AIP).

AIP is actually a series of technologies that seek to extend the submerged endurance of conventionally powered patrol submarines. From World War I to the present, conventional submarines have relied on a diesel-electric power plant. The diesel engine allows the boat to move efficiently on the surface or near the surface with a "snorkel" that cycles fresh air through the engine compartment. But to function quietly and without a snorkel running to the surface, the submarine switches to electrical power provided by a large bank of batteries. At slow speeds, a well-built and well-run patrol sub can be exceptionally quiet -- but its submerged endurance also is generally limited to less than a week.

Having seen two world wars and one Cold War, the diesel-electric system has been stretched more or less to its limits. Countries that have the technology and know-how have replaced it with nuclear propulsion. Some refinements continue to be made (for example, with Russia's latest -- and much more public -- conventional submarine, the St. Petersburg), but the limits of the method are apparent.




Both Germany and Sweden have already fielded combined diesel-electric and AIP systems. The German system uses hydrogen fuel cells while the Swedish Stirling design uses a closed-cycle diesel engine fed with liquid oxygen. These systems can be used to either run at a slow cruise of 5 to 6 knots or to charge the batteries. Both systems have more than doubled submerged endurance without the need for snorkeling; the German Bundeswehr U32 conducted a two-week transit using AIP in April 2006, and the Stirling system could have even longer endurance.





Russia has long been exploring AIP, and Rosoboronexport, the Russian arms export monopoly, has advertised "electrochemical" AIP as available for "follow-on installation" on its latest subs. But the mysterious Sarov news release could indicate that Russia has progressed further than many thought -- and in a different direction entirely -- with its own AIP system.





Sarov was once the secretive closed city Arzamas-16, also known as the Russian Los Alamos for its role in the Soviet nuclear weapons program. Though nuclear submarine construction is well-established at the Sevmash shipyards in Severodvinsk, Sarov could be a site for further research into the use of radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs).

RTGs use the heat of radioactive decay from radioisotopes like plutonium-238 and strontium-90 to generate electricity. They are much simpler than full-fledged naval reactors and have been used to power remote lighthouses and weather stations as well as deep space probes unable to rely on solar energy.

However, there are technological hurdles that must be overcome. RTGs have been used predominantly in situations where wattage was not the limiting factor. Modern RTGs used on NASA probes produce hundreds of watts and are about the size and weight of a 120-pound person. But to use both German and Swedish systems as a benchmark, a magnitude of 200 to 300 kilowatts is necessary for AIP. Though much of this distance can be overcome by designing an RTG specifically for this purpose and then fitting multiple RTGs to the submarine, there is still a technological gap the Russians would have had to overcome.

The point is not how an RTG-based AIP would stack up against the German or Swedish methods; rather, the point is that an RTG is rather uniquely fitted to the Russian knowledge base -- and the Sarov locale.

Though not earth-shattering, a successful AIP uniquely suited to the Russian defense industry is a potentially significant development for the next generation of Russian patrol subs -- both for domestic coastal defense and export abroad.

stratfor.com
26970  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 13, 2007, 05:39:04 PM
Very interesting , , ,

TURKEY: Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida reported that Turkey played a key role in providing intelligence to Israel in the apparent Israeli air force (IAF) flyover into Syrian airspace Sept. 6. The report claimed not only that Turkey provided detailed information on potential Syrian targets for the IAF, but also that the Turkish army authorized the IAF to use its airspace in the operation. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Al-Jarida that Turkish intelligence did not coordinate the alleged cooperation with any Turkish public official.

Stratfor.com
26971  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: September 13, 2007, 05:22:19 PM
Now THAT would be exciting.  I saw Erik at R1 back in August and he had dropped a considerable amount of unnecessary weight.  Indeed one might think he was looking rather fit , , ,
26972  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: November 18, 2007 Dog Bros Gathering of the Pack on: September 13, 2007, 05:20:49 PM
I think if you will go back you will see that it is pads with plastic bubbles that are not allowed.  Wrestling type elbow/knee guards continue to be fine.
26973  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: A Father's Question on: September 13, 2007, 05:19:27 PM
Woof All:

One practical suggestion that I have received is to cite the statutory declarations in CA of the right to self-defense.  In other words, the school's declared policy is a violation of state law-- or so my lawyers will say when we sue to school should it ever fcuk with my son's right of self-defense.

Now I mull over whether and if so how to bring this to the school's attention.

TAC!
CD
26974  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Care Economics on: September 13, 2007, 02:06:09 PM
Sick Sob Stories
By JOHN STOSSEL
September 13, 2007; Page A16

In Michael Moore's movie "Sicko," a widow named Julie Pierce tells a tearful story: Her husband died of kidney cancer after their health-insurance company denied payment for a bone-marrow transplant that might have saved his life. Ms. Pierce's rage is palpable as she repeats the word her insurers used in response to her husband's request. "They denied it," she sneers. "Said it was 'experimental.'"

Viewers of the documentary are meant to understand that "experimental" is health-insurance code for "expensive," and that Ms. Pierce's husband was left to die for the sake of profit. According to Mr. Moore's movie, "Any payment for a claim is referred to as a medical loss," and when a claim is denied, "it's a savings to the company."

But Mr. Moore is so busy following the money that he doesn't take the time to follow the science. Treating cancer patients with bone-marrow transplants has a dubious history.

Twenty years ago, many oncologists believed that bone-marrow transplants, along with high doses of chemotherapy, might offer a cure for breast cancer. Insurance companies refused to pay, calling the treatment experimental and unproven. Breast-cancer sufferers went to court: In one case, a jury awarded $77 million to the family of a woman who was denied payment for the treatment. Wives and mothers told heart-rending stories in newspapers and on TV. Politicians quickly moved to guarantee the treatment to all breast-cancer patients. Ten state legislatures mandated that every insurance policy cover bone-marrow transplantation for breast-cancer patients. Amid the media circus and political self-congratulation, the question of whether bone-marrow transplants are medically effective faded into the background.

The sad truth is that the treatment isn't effective. When researchers released the results of their clinical trials to the American Society of Clinical Oncology in 1999, they showed that the treatment offered no benefit. Worse, it often killed women faster than their cancer, and caused them unnecessary pain. At a time when their health was at its greatest risk, more than 30,000 women were exposed to an invasive, harmful and ultimately useless treatment that the National Institutes of Health no longer recommends. But only one state legislature has repealed its law requiring insurance companies to pay for the treatment. Some doctors believe bone-marrow transplants might help kidney cancer patients, and the NIH is conducting clinical trials to find out. Until the treatment has been shown to do more good than harm, insurers are reluctant to pay for it.

Mr. Moore claims that because private insurance companies are driven by profit, they will always deny care to deserving patients. For this reason, he argues, profit-making health-insurance companies should be abolished, our health- care dollars turned over to the government, and the U.S. should institute a health-care system like the ones in Canada, Britain or France. But does Mr. Moore think, even for a second, that any of the government systems he touts in his movie would have provided a bone-marrow transplant to Ms. Pierce's husband? Fat chance.

When government is in charge of health care, the result is not that everyone gets access to experimental treatments, but that people get less of the care that is absolutely necessary. At any given time, just under a million Canadians are on waiting lists to receive care, and one in eight British patients must wait more than a year for hospital treatment. Canadian Karen Jepp, who gave birth to quadruplets last month, had to fly to Montana for the delivery: neonatal units in her own country had no room.

Rationing in Britain is so severe that one hospital recently tried saving money by not changing bed-sheets between patients. Instead of washing sheets, the staff was encouraged to just turn them over, British papers report. The wait for an appointment with a dentist is so long that people are using pliers to pull out their own rotting teeth.

Patients in countries with government-run health care can't get timely access to many basic medical treatments, never mind experimental treatments. That's why, if you suffer from cancer, you're better off in the U.S., which is home to the newest treatments and where patients have access to the best diagnostic equipment. People diagnosed with cancer in America have a better chance of living a full life than people in countries with socialized systems. Among women diagnosed with breast cancer, only one-quarter die in the U.S., compared to one-third in France and nearly half in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Moore thinks that profit is the enemy and government is the answer. The opposite is true. Profit is what has created the amazing scientific innovations that the U.S. offers to the world. If government takes over, innovation slows, health care is rationed, and spending is controlled by politicians more influenced by the sob story of the moment than by medical science.

Mr. Stossel is co-anchor of "20/20." ABC News will air his TV special on health care at 10 p.m. EST Friday.

WSJ
26975  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: September 13, 2007, 01:52:27 PM
HELP CA DEFEAT THE MICROSTAMP BILL - See the EASY CALL Instructions!

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Please call the governor's office re: that Microstamp Bill. I just did this!

EASY TO DO - Please give $.10 and 1 minute of your TIME!

And if you are out of state, remember, there are other states looking to impose similar state (and federal) legislation, so feel free to call in and post your opinions too

CALL Gov's Sac number (916-445-2841)

Press 1 - for English
Press 2 - for Voice your opinion on Assembly Bills
Press 1 - for Micro Stamping Bill (AB1471)
Press 2 to OPPOSE the gun control bill.
26976  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: September 13, 2007, 01:49:49 PM
The World According to Univision
By LESLIE SANCHEZ
September 13, 2007; Page A17

John Edwards has not taken a definitive position on abortion. Hillary Clinton's position on the issue is that "she will fight for the defense of children." And Barack Obama wants taxes to be "as low as possible."

Each of these statements is misleading, at best. Mr. Edwards and Mrs. Clinton support "a woman's right to choose" and Mr. Obama wants to repeal the Bush tax cuts. But on Univision, a Spanish-language TV network with an average prime-time audience of about 3.5 million viewers, these and other slanted statements about the presidential candidates are commonplace.

These statements appeared on Univision's Web site, but like much of the network's reporting, were missed by the mainstream media because they appeared only in Spanish. I have taken an extensive look at Univision and found that these are a tiny fraction of the biased views of American politics regularly presented by the network.

This is something all of us need to be concerned about. Earlier this week, Democrats participated in a Univision-sponsored presidential debate held in south Florida. The candidates used the forum to reach out to Hispanic voters and many Democrats have noted that only one Republican -- Sen. John McCain -- has agreed to participate in a similar debate for GOP candidates originally scheduled for this coming Sunday. Their aim is to portray Republicans as biased against Hispanics.

But context matters. Faced with an onslaught of biased reporting, Republicans are right to have reservations about Univision. They should, however, engage the network, as it is far too important to be ignored. Late last month, Nielsen began comparing Univision to other broadcast networks in a single viewer sample, and found that it is the most-watched TV network (ahead of Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC) for viewers 18-34.

If their views were presented fairly, it's likely that Republicans would connect with Hispanic voters. That may be why the network's news coverage often downplays issues that make Hispanics dislike Democrats (abortion, same-sex marriage, taxes) and sensationalizes the immigration issue as a way of demonizing Republicans -- even those who are not anti-immigrant.

Rudy Giuliani, who is attacked by some for making New York a "sanctuary city" for illegal immigrants during his time as mayor, was blasted as anti-inmigrante in a recent op-ed by star reporter Maria Elena Salinas on Univision's Web site. Apparently the mayor earned the label because he was tough on crime and supports border security, notwithstanding the fact that he carried 43% of New York City's Hispanic vote (a bloc that tends to be heavily Democratic) when he ran for re-election in 1997.

Republicans must engage and demand fairness from Univision, rather than let it propagandize the most conservative segment of the Hispanic population -- the 40% who may speak English, but who are "Spanish-dominant" and consume their news in their native language. According to a July 2006 study of previous elections by the New Democratic Network, English-speaking Hispanics are more reliably Democratic, and "the movement towards Bush has come from the Spanish-dominant, as they have gone from 82%-18% Clinton-Dole in 1996 to 52%-48% Kerry-Bush."

Univision isn't alone. Bias is a problem throughout Spanish media. In South Carolina, Rep. Bob Inglis, a Republican and supporter of the failed comprehensive immigration reform bill, was surprised to see a December 2005 headline in El Periodico Latino that, when translated, read: "BAD NEWS FOR IMMIGRANTS: Congressman Inglis will support President Bush's position on immigration." Of course, the Bush plan was the most pro-immigration proposal on the table.

Univision is the largest and most important part of the Spanish-language media, yet it features some of the most unbalanced political news coverage on television and it continues its leftward drift. Marcela Salazar, a former staffer for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was hired recently as the producer on Univision's new political show, "Al Punto," which is hosted by two left-wing journalists. A Democratic friend of mine, who works as a strategist for a Democratic presidential campaign, told me last week: "She'll do us a lot of good there."

As a group, Latinos are more pro-life and more supportive of traditional family values than non-Hispanic whites, less likely to divorce and three times as likely to have started a business in the past decade. Given that all of these are strong Republican identifiers, GOP strategists are asking themselves why they vote so lopsidedly Democratic.

The answer rests, in part, in the bias in the Spanish-language media. Republicans should counteract that by participating in Univision's debate, if only so they can speak over the heads of biased reporters and directly to the network's audience.

Ms. Sanchez, director of the White House Initiative on Hispanic Education from 2001-2003, is author of "Los Republicanos: Why Hispanics and Republicans Need Each Other" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).
WSJ
26977  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: September 13, 2007, 11:16:37 AM
Humor is good.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-rxJWoG-4I
26978  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
26979  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)
26980  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.
26981  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
26982  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
26983  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
26984  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.
26985  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.


26986  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."

 
26987  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.
__________________

26988  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
26989  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.
26990  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 !!!
26991  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







26992  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.
26993  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
26994  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)
26995  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?

26996  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.
26997  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.


26998  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)
26999  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.
27000  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
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