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27101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: August 27, 2007, 09:51:45 PM
If Iraq Falls
By JOSEF JOFFE
August 27, 2007; Page A11

In contrast to President Bush's dark comparison between Iraq and the bloody aftermath of the Vietnam War last week, there is another, comforting version of the Vietnam analogy that's gained currency among policy makers and pundits. It goes something like this:

After that last helicopter took off from the U.S. embassy in Saigon 32 years ago, the nasty strategic consequences then predicted did not in fact materialize. The "dominoes" did not fall, the Russians and Chinese did not take over, and America remained No. 1 in Southeast Asia and in the world.

 
But alas, cut-and-run from Iraq will not have the same serendipitous aftermath, because Iraq is not at all like Vietnam.

Unlike Iraq, Vietnam was a peripheral arena of the Cold War. Strategic resources like oil were not at stake, and neither were bases (OK, Moscow obtained access to Da Nang and Cam Ranh Bay for a while). In the global hierarchy of power, Vietnam was a pawn, not a pillar, and the decisive battle lines at the time were drawn in Europe, not in Southeast Asia.

The Middle East, by contrast, was always the "elephant path of history," as Israel's fabled defense minister, Moshe Dayan, put it. Legions of conquerors have marched up and down the Levant, and from Alexander's Macedonia all the way to India. Other prominent visitors were Julius Caesar, Napoleon and the German Wehrmacht.

This is not just ancient history. Today, the Greater Middle East is a cauldron even Macbeth's witches would be terrified to touch. The world's worst political and religious pathologies combine with oil and gas, terrorism and nuclear ambitions.

In short, unlike yesterday's Vietnam, the Greater Middle East (including Turkey) is the central strategic arena of the 21st century, as Europe was in the 20th. This is where three continents -- Europe, Asia, and Africa -- are joined. So let's take a moment to think about what would happen once that last Blackhawk took off from Baghdad International.

Here is a short list. Iran advances to No. 1, completing its nuclear-arms program undeterred and unhindered. America's cowed Sunni allies -- Saudi-Arabia, Jordan, the oil-rich "Gulfies" -- are drawn into the Khomeinist orbit.

You might ask: Wouldn't they converge in a mighty anti-Tehran alliance instead? Think again. The local players have never managed to establish a regional balance of power; it was always outsiders -- first Britain, then the U.S. -- who chastened the malfeasants and blocked anti-Western intruders like Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.

With the U.S. gone from Iraq, emboldened jihadi forces shift to Afghanistan and turn it again into a bastion of Terror International. Syria reclaims Lebanon, which it has always labeled as a part of "Great Syria." Hezbollah and Hamas, both funded and equipped by Tehran, resume their war against Israel. Russia, extruded from the Middle East by adroit Kissingerian diplomacy in the 1970s, rebuilds its anti-Western alliances. In Iraq, the war escalates, unleashing even more torrents of refugees and provoking outside intervention, if not partition.

Now, let's look beyond the region. The Europeans will be the first to revise their romantic notions of multipolarity, or world governance by committee. For worse than an overbearing, in-your-face America is a weakened and demoralized one. Shall Vladimir Putin's Russia acquire a controlling stake? This ruthlessly revisionist power wants revenge for its post-Gorbachev humiliation, not responsibility.

China with its fabulous riches? The Middle Kingdom is still happily counting its currency surpluses as it pretties up its act for the 2008 Olympics, but watch its next play if the U.S. quits the highest stakes game in Iraq. The message from Beijing might well read: "Move over America, the Western Pacific, as you call it, is our lake."

Europe? It is wealthy, populous and well-ordered. But strategic players those 27 member-states of the E.U. are not. They cannot pacify the Middle East, stop the Iranian bomb or keep Mr. Putin from wielding gas pipelines as tools of "persuasion." When the Europeans did wade into the fray, as in the Balkan wars of the 1990s, they let the U.S. Air Force go first.

Now to the upside. The U.S. may have spent piles of chips foolishly, but it is still the richest player at the global gaming table. In the Bush years, the U.S. may have squandered tons of political capital, but then the rest of the world is not exactly making up for the shortfall.

Nor has the U.S. become a "dispensable nation." That is the most remarkable truth in these trying times. Its enemies from al Qaeda to Iran -- and its rivals from Russia to China -- can disrupt and defy, but they cannot build and lead.

For all the damage to Washington's reputation, nothing of great import can be achieved without, let alone against, the U.S. Can Moscow and Beijing bring peace to Palestine? Or mend a global financial system battered by the subprime crisis? Where are the central banks of Russia and China?

The Bush presidency will soon be on the way out, but America is not. This truth has recently begun to sink in among the major Democratic contenders. Listen to Hillary Clinton, who would leave "residual forces" to fight terrorism. Or to Barack Obama, who would stay in Iraq with an as-yet-unspecified force. Even the most leftish of them all, John Edwards, would keep troops around to stop genocide in Iraq or to prevent violence from spilling over into the neighborhood. And no wonder, for it might be one of them who will have to deal with the bitter aftermath if the U.S. slinks out of Iraq.

These realists have it right. Withdrawal cannot serve America's interests on the day after tomorrow. Friends and foes will ask: If this superpower doesn't care about the world's central and most dangerous stage -- what will it care about?

America's allies will look for insurance elsewhere. And the others will muse: If the police won't stay in this most critical of neighborhoods, why not break a few windows, or just take over? The U.S. as "Gulliver Unbound" may have stumbled during its "unipolar" moment. But as giant with feet of clay, it will do worse: and so will the rest of the world.

Mr. Joffe is publisher-editor of Die Zeit, the German weekly and will be teaching foreign policy at Stanford University this fall. His latest book is "Überpower: The Imperial Temptation of America." (Norton, 2006).
27102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: August 27, 2007, 09:20:29 PM
RomneyCare 2.0
August 27, 2007; Page A10
At the most recent Republican Presidential debate, on August 5, Mitt Romney said on health care: "We have to have our citizens insured. And we're not going to do that by tax exemptions because the people that don't have insurance aren't paying taxes. What you have to do is what we did in Massachusetts."

Well, maybe not. In Florida on Friday, the former Bay State Governor laid out in detail his plan for overhauling the health-care system. Its main emphasis was on federalism, allowing the states to work out their own approaches. To do so they'd get some crucial free-market assistance from a Romney Administration, including efforts to deregulate the private insurance markets -- and even reform the tax code.

So this is a step forward for Mr. Romney on health policy, largely because it doesn't take Massachusetts as its model. Though he still regards that state's 2006 "universal" health insurance program as one of his signal achievements as Governor, his new proposal drops the most coercive elements, such as the individual mandate and the "pay or play" sanctions on businesses. Perhaps this intellectual progress is due to the influence of new Romney advisers Glenn Hubbard and John Cogan, both respected health-care economists.

In his new plan, Mr. Romney would address the core problem: distortions introduced by the tax code. Businesses are allowed to deduct the cost of providing health insurance to their employees, but individuals can't do the same. This bias creates third-party payer problems for the insured and raises prices for everyone else. The Romney plan would allow those who purchase policies on the individual market to fully deduct all premiums, deductibles and copays, thus restoring the tax parity of health dollars.

It would also offer incentives for health savings accounts, which set aside pre-tax dollars for medical expenses. And it would include medical malpractice reform with teeth -- specialized health courts and caps on punitive and non-economic damages.

Also constructive is Mr. Romney's proposal to turn today's open-ended Medicaid entitlement into federal block grants to the states, and do likewise for federal uncompensated care funds. That would give states maximum flexibility to tailor health plans to their own needs. Mr. Romney hopes the states will create plans to cover the lower- to middle-income uninsured -- and ideally, to help them buy their own private policies.

This pool of federal money would also be leverage to persuade states to make insurance more affordable. In practice, that means doing away with the costly mandates and regulations that many states have imposed. It's a good idea, but we question the willingness of states to actually do so, given that the government health trend has been toward increased centralization and intervention in the marketplace. That was one of the greatest limitations of Governor Romney's plan: Massachusetts did not deregulate before requiring individuals to acquire insurance.

Rather than forcing people to buy plans approved by their state, a better idea would be to allow insurers to sell plans across state lines. This would retain the federalist approach, but individuals could choose which state regulations to buy into, creating a "regulatory marketplace." We suspect there'd be an insurance exodus from Massachusetts, which, for instance, requires plans to cover chiropractic services and in vitro fertilization.

One key difference with Rudy Giuliani, who has also proposed similar changes to the tax code, is that the former New York Mayor would allow for interstate insurance and Mr. Romney would not. Mr. Romney says that the logistical difficulties would become a "camel's nose" for national insurance regulations. Maybe so, but that is always a risk with federalism. A far worse camel's nose is the "universal" plan Mr. Romney championed in Massachusetts. As Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards put it, "If universal health care was good enough for Massachusetts, why isn't it good enough for the rest of the country?"

It's not an unfair question. Mr. Romney's Bay State legacy is now praised by liberals as a prototype for national policy. That's done a great deal to set back the kind of tax reform that he now espouses. The issue for GOP primary voters to consider is why he went in such a different direction in Boston. Granted, a mere Governor couldn't restructure the federal tax code, and he was dealing with a far-left legislature. Yet his willingness to compromise in Massachusetts on core matters of principle, and then trumpet those statist policies as a "free-market" solution, raises questions about how far and easily he'd bend to a Democratic Congress.

Mr. Romney's conversion to free-market health-care thinking is nonetheless welcome -- assuming he believes it.

WSJ
27103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: August 27, 2007, 09:11:40 PM
WSJ:

Georgia on His Mind
The former Soviet republic is becoming a shining star. But will Russia drag it back into darkness?

BY MELIK KAYLAN
Saturday, August 25, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

TBILISI, Georgia--On Aug. 8, a missile the size of a bus struck near a village some 50 miles north of this Eurasian country's capital city, Tbilisi. It failed to explode. In all likelihood the missile came from Russian jet fighters violating Georgian airspace, as Georgians quickly claimed--the incident was eerily similar to one in March, when Russian attack helicopters flew at night and, without provocation, fired missiles into Georgian territory.

In both cases, Georgian authorities showed the world radar flight path data as proof. The world did nothing the first time, and will likely do nothing again. Meanwhile, unexplained incursions continue daily. This is the kind of near-lethal brinkmanship which Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili believes will only encourage more belligerence from Russia.

Mr. Saakashvili has spent his first 3 1/2 years in office impelling his country forward economically, courting NATO and European Union membership, eradicating corruption and trying to woo Russian-supported secessionists back into the fold. Above all, he strives daily to keep his country, with a population of four million, on the mind of Western nations so its security and success will seem synonymous with theirs--and keep the Russians at bay. The Russians still seem to perceive post-Soviet Georgian independence as a kind of betrayal, responding with an array of destabilizing policies, such as the imposition of embargoes on Georgian goods.





Earlier this summer, I spent some time with Georgia's president, checking on his progress. He has quite a story to tell, particularly about the economy. According to Mr. Saakashvili, Georgia's GDP was less than $3 billion five years ago. It's now $8 billion and will double in three years, and he is straightforward about his inspiration.
"I finally met Margaret Thatcher in London this year," he shouts over the noise of helicopter engines as we fly adjacent to the snow-peaked Caucasus mountains. "I always admired her, and I always thought, if I could do in Georgia a fraction of what she did in the U.K., I would be very happy. . . . And she said to me, 'You are doing all the things in Georgia that I wanted to do in the U.K. and more . . .' "

It's a strange place for an interview, but Mr. Saakashvili keeps a merciless schedule. On this day, after a speech in the main square of Tbilisi, he is presiding over five separate ribbon-cutting ceremonies around the country.

We begin the tour with a three-kilometer visit down a coal mine that has sat unused for 15 years, with the mining community above it going to ruin. It is now being revitalized with German money and machinery. We end the tour past midnight, at a new Turkish-built airport at the resurgent Black Sea resort of Batoumi.

Just four years ago, before the nonviolent Rose Revolution disposed of the Shevardnadze regime and soon voted in Mr. Saakashvili, Georgia was widely considered a failed state on a par with Zimbabwe--with corruption rampant, a stagnant economy and several civil wars smoldering.

That's changing. Three years ago, Mr. Saakashvili famously fired 15,000 traffic policemen and dissolved the pervasive bribery ethos in one stroke. The country is booming: Everywhere new hotels, factories and well-lit roads proclaim the changes. Even the old Soviet tower blocks look festive and newly painted. Foreign investment flows in from every quarter: Kazakhstan to the east, Turkey to the south, Europe and the U.S., the Gulf States, even from Russia, despite all of Mr. Putin's embargoes--and despite the shadow of two secessionist "black holes" inside Georgia backed by Russian arms and money: Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Mr. Saakashvili points out a little town in the distance, Tskhinvali, the disputed heart of South Ossetia, nothing more than a sprinkling of houses on a rise of farmland deep inside Georgian territory. "We've offered them everything they want . . . language rights, their own political structures, cross-border rights to their fellow Ossetians. . . . They probably would agree if they were free to do so."

I point down to the terrain beneath us and comment that if the well-regulated squares of green fields down below are any indication, Georgia's agriculture is doing well. "In Soviet times," he says, "all this was a chaotic mess. In contrast, you'd fly over Western Europe and see miles of perfectly cultivated land. . . . Now Georgia is the same. It's beautiful to look at. That's the aesthetic look of the free market."





A day or two later, at a dinner for Georgian businessmen, the president delivers a speech hammering home his well-honed message of self-help. "The government is going to help you in the best way possible, by doing nothing for you, by getting out of your way. Well, I exaggerate but you understand. Of course we will provide you with infrastructure, and help by getting rid of corruption, but you have all succeeded by your own initiative and enterprise, so you should congratulate yourselves."
Mr. Saakashvili's style of leadership feels like a permanent political campaign--which it is, in a way. He seems determined to show citizens how it's being done, visibly to demonstrate accountability, transparency and political process, so they grow accustomed to the sight of politicians answering to them--in short, to Western political habits. All the while, he's exhorting and explaining, striving to change attitudes ingrained through decades of Soviet rule and 15 years of stagnation, strife and corruption. "I keep telling people that this is not a process like some silver-backed gorilla leading them to new pastures. They must do it themselves, and they are."

Mr. Saakashvili famously gets very little sleep, calling his aides at 2 a.m. to remind them of neglected tasks. During the day, he never stops moving.

On one occasion, a sudden onset of severe bad weather forces down both his helicopter--and the one behind it that is full of his security--in farmland beside a small town. No matter. His aides borrow what conveyances they can, and we end up with the president driving a 1956 Volga modeled on a postwar American Dodge. As the sleet and hail hammer down, the car lurches along and we all double up in helpless laughter because the windshield wipers don't work. Mr. Saakashvili sticks one free arm out the driver's-side window to wipe the windshield manually while he drives.

At one point I ask him if security and dealing with Russian threats are a top priority. "We have two limbs of Georgia which are currently detached," he says, careful not to sound provocative, "and we have a hostile, powerful northern neighbor, even more powerful every day with oil money. But we can't be living in a state of gloom and paranoia. . . . When the Russians imposed the embargo on our wines, we simply found new markets. Like-minded countries such as Poland and the Baltic states actively sought out our products.

"When Russia cut off gas supplies, we had to work on developing new sources. So we're developing hydro-power and coal and nuclear energy. Next year, we'll be fully supplied by Azerbaijani power. . . . Everyone said we'd never survive but our success gives confidence to everyone else."

Mr. Saakashvili notes that his country had to diversify its markets anyway. "Georgia's natural strength is its role as a crossroads both culturally and geographically. It was always a kind of bridge on the old Silk Road. So we're building up our highway system; we're completing our rail link from Batoumi to Istanbul through to Europe; we've got the new international airport there.

"Eastwards we're connecting all the way to China via a ferry across the Caspian. It will offer an alternative to the trans-Siberian railway. And of course, the same goes for pipelines such as the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline which goes through Georgia."

I ask him if the Russians are making a big push now with maximum pressure while they can, realizing that before long, consumer countries will develop alternate supply routes to avoid Russian strategic pressure. "No, I don't think the Russians are calculating logically or strategically," he says. "I think it's an emotional and volatile process for them. Logically, they should realize that stable relations all around will pay off for them more in the long run. Instead they're driving countries to find alternative partners . . ."

He also speaks about Russia's domestic anti-Georgian campaign. "It wasn't working very effectively until they actually went to all the schools and asked for a list of all the children with Georgian names. Suddenly, the parents realized this was serious. That and the endless corruption of the Russian system became unbearable for them--so now we have tens of thousands of qualified Georgians . . . coming back and repatriating their money to Georgia."

There is a general sense in Georgia that the U.S. could be more supportive but badly needs Russian help over such critical areas as Iran, North Korea and the fight against terror. Does Mr. Saakashvili think that the U.S. could do more? "All we ask for is moral support," he answers. "It's all about shared values. You can see that the U.S. has a lot of moral authority here. We have a historic sympathy for the U.S. and the West. America should know how strong it still is and keep up the pressure at the highest levels. It should help enhance stability and serve as a deterrent to Russian adventurism."

Mr. Saakashvili also says that "Europe is waking up. After the French election, I was invited on a full state visit. That did not happen in the time of [former President Jacques] Chirac--he had other priorities. Europe is becoming aware that it must engage with the 'near abroad' region between itself and Russia. Europe is ending its false pragmatism.

"In return," he continues, "we are doing our utmost to stay engaged in the international community and to fulfill our obligations. Georgia has 2,000 troops in Iraq now deploying to the Iran border . . . to interdict arms smuggling across the border and we have told them not to be passive--[instead] to be active and get results. Before now they were in the Green Zone but now they will be acting as part of the surge, going wherever US troops can go. . . . failure in Iraq will be a disaster for everyone.

"For us it's also a matter of national pride. Georgian soldiers have always been famous for their courage but they've never fought as Georgians--they've always fought in others' armies. We've had generals in Mameluke, Russian and Soviet armies--even top U.S. generals. Now they will be serving in our name and for our country. In the 1920s Georgian officers fought for Polish independence to keep out the Bolsheviks (Retired U.S. Gen. John Shalikashvili's father was one.) Poland has just put up a monument to those officers (to the chagrin of Mr. Putin)."





Nearing the end of our time together, I ask Mr. Saakashvili, whose administration will surely be remembered for the number and pace of its reforms, if he feels he can let up. Is he on schedule, and what's left undone?
Mr. Saakashvili responds by stressing the importance of integrating Georgia's ethnic minorities. "There used to be areas where only Russian was spoken and the central government had no influence. Now they are all voluntarily learning Georgian. It's important that we show an example to secessionist zones, that they have nothing to fear, that in fact their identity will be better protected by us than Russia."

He also speaks about the vital importance of "ridding ourselves of corruption," of reaching "the point of irreversibility. That's why we are in a hurry. If you relax on corruption it will come back in two months."

Mr. Saakashvili notes of his own country as well as many others emerging from the shadows of communism: "These are not societies with much experience in democratic processes. In parts of Eastern Europe they keep electing useless populists who are corrupt. So far the people here have made the right choices but we must govern in a way that's instructional and symbolic so it settles in the public's consciousness, and they learn to evaluate you by achievement. Democracy means constantly outperforming yourself or you are out on your backside. That's as it should be."

As night falls, back in the sky, we fly close enough to the Abkhazia border to see the contrast between well-lit Georgia and Russian darkness over the secessionist zone. From up above, and on the ground, the symbolism is clear enough.

But to Mr. Saakashvili, the more important issue might be: Is this distinction clear to his friends in the West--and how far will they go to stop the darkness from spilling over into Georgia?

Mr. Kaylan is a writer living in New York.

27104  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Takes a lickin', keeps on tickin' on: August 27, 2007, 08:34:00 PM
Washington Post, Saturday, August 25, 2007; B04

CRIME

Guard's Husband Charged in Stabbing
D.C. police have arrested a man accused of stabbing his wife at the Southeast Washington elementary school where she was working as a security guard.

Police say Dwayne Porter, 29, entered Ferebee-Hope Elementary School just after 2 p.m. Thursday and stabbed his wife 16 times. His wife, who was not identified in charging documents because she is a witness, is employed by Hawk One Security.

Porter, of the 400 block of Taylor Street NE, has been married to his wife for about five years, and she is the mother of his 2- and 6-year-old children, according to court documents.

His wife was taken to a hospital in critical but stable condition, authorities said. Before she was taken into surgery, she told police that Porter accused her of cheating on him, stabbed her with a pocketknife and fled the scene, according to court documents.

According to court records, police contacted Porter's mother, who said her son had told her that he was going to jail because "I stabbed her." She told police Porter was at her home, in the 1200 block of Perry Street NE, and wanted to turn himself in.

Police arrested Porter at his mother's home Thursday night. After waiving his rights, Porter told police that he had stabbed his wife, authorities said. Porter was charged with assault with intent to kill while armed. He is scheduled to appear in D.C. Superior Court today.


-- Jenna Johnson
27105  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Blog de Cecilio Andrade on: August 27, 2007, 08:09:56 PM
C:

Acabo de informar unos amigos de tu presencia aqui, invitandoles participar en tus hilos.

27106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Care Economics on: August 27, 2007, 07:16:05 PM
A Setback for Socialized Medicine

Hillary Clinton may think bigger government is needed to decide how much Americans should spend on health care and on whom they should spend it. Don't tell that to patients or employers, who've already had enough of third-party diktats thanks to the current system's overreliance on insurance bureaucracies.

For years, visionaries pushed the idea of restoring an active consumer to the equation through the creation of health savings accounts. Guess what? Since HSAs were finally put on an equal tax basis with employer-provided insurance three years ago, no innovation in the history of health insurance has grown as fast. By the end of this year, some eight million Americans will be buying a portion of their medical care with HSA savings, up from 4.5 million in 2006. Savers will have parked about $13.6 billion in the accounts, up from $5.1 billion in 2006.

Liberals complain that HSAs are a "tax break" for wealthy and healthy Americans. In reality, Ms. Clinton and her allies oppose HSAs because they are a cure for the overspending, cost-shifting and inefficiency that otherwise are driving the system towards a government takeover. HSAs work because they restore a consumer's incentive to shop around for cost-effective health care.

Perhaps the best news is that 40% of employers will offer HSAs by year's end, according to Americans for Tax Reform. John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis foresees a critical threshold coming when enough Americans will have these plans that hospitals and doctors will be forced to publish price lists and reduce their costs and improve services to gain customers. That's the way the free-enterprise system works in just about every other industry.

opinionjournal/WSJ
27107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Turkey on: August 27, 2007, 05:01:51 PM
stratfor.com

TURKEY: The Turkish military will safeguard a secular and democratic Turkey against the "evil" Islamic forces in the upcoming presidential election, military chief Gen. Yasar Buyukanit states on the military's Web site. The military has seized power from civilian governments three times in the past and has threatened to do so again if presidential candidate Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul wins the election.
27108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: August 27, 2007, 10:11:26 AM
Excellent find Buz.  Tom, this piece exemplifies the reasons I hold CA in low regard.

Changing subject briefly-- it appears that the dhimmitude faction of the Wash Post has notched up another victory http://www.qando.net/details.aspx?entry=6755
27109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: August 27, 2007, 12:41:23 AM
From the desk of Paul Belien on Thu, 2007-08-23 11:38
The Arab-European League (AEL), a pro-Hezbollah organization of Arab immigrants in Belgium and the Netherlands, is rallying its members to march in Brussels on 11 September “against Islamophobia and racism in Europe.” The AEL demonstration is a response to the request by the Danish-British-German organization Stop the Islamisation of Europe (SIOE) for permission to demonstrate on 9/11 in front of the European Union’s buildings in Brussels against the introduction of Sharia laws in Europe.

Two weeks ago the SIOE demonstration was banned by Freddy Thielemans, the mayor of Brussels. According to Mr Thielemans the SIOE demonstration is a criminal offence because it “incite to discrimination and hatred, which we usually call racism and xenophobia. [This] is forbidden by a considerable number of international treaties and is punished by our penal laws and by the European legislation.”
SIOE has initiated an appeal against the mayor’s ban before the Belgian Council of State. The CoS is expected to issue its verdict next week. Last week Mayor Thielemans gave permission for a demonstration in Brussels on 9 September by United for Truth (UfT), a group which claims that the terror attacks of 9/11/2001 on the WTC towers in NY and on the Pentagon were organized by the American government.
On its website UfT writes that the Brussels authorities, before giving permission for the UfT demonstration, checked that the demonstration would not address religious topics. “The biggest issue was if there was any possible conflict [of our demonstration] with religion. As we just base ourselves on facts and political issues, we have no intention to discriminate or promote any religion.”

Yesterday the Arab-European League issued a press release emphasizing that its own demonstration on 11 September, which so far has not received the mayor’s permission (Thielemans is waiting for the advice of the police), will not criticize any religion. “The AEL respects everyone’s religious convictions, culture and language […]. The demand for respect for every religious conviction is the central theme [of the demonstration].” The AEL says that freedom of expression is an absolute right, stressing that the organization did not ask for the SIOE demo to be forbidden. “However, the right to have one’s religious convictions, culture and language respected is an equally absolute right.”
The AEL was founded in Belgium in 2000. Its founder, Lebanese-born Hezbollah-member Dyab Abu Jahjah, has called the 9/11/2001 attacks “sweet revenge.” Following the Danish cartoon affair the AEL, advocating unrestricted freedom of speech, published anti-Semitic cartoons which deny the Holocaust. Though such denial is illegal in Belgium, the Belgian authorities failed to take any action. The AEL also demands that Arabic be recognized as an official language in Belgium.

The organization says it stands for three basic demands. “Bilingual education for Arab-speaking kids, hiring quotas that protect Muslims, and the right to keep our cultural customs.” According to Jahjah “Assimilation is cultural rape. It means renouncing your identity, becoming like the others.” In 2002 an AEL demonstration in Antwerp led to street riots and anti-Semitic violence. The AEL wants “the Jewish community in Antwerp to cease its support of, and distance itself
http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/2347
===========
ITALY: MUSLIM TRIES TO WALL UP STATUE OF THE MADONNA
(ANSAmed) - LECCO, AUGUST 21 - A Muslim immigrant triggered a northern villagés ire today by trying to wall up a local statue of the Madonna. The immigrant recently moved in to a new home in the village of Casatenovo near Lecco but was unhappy with the Madonna perched on an alcove outside his lodgings. Armed with a trowel and a bucket of cement, the immigrant moved in to action today, seeking to entomb the statue. The Madonna was rescued at the last minute by a group of angry villagers, who took her away saying they would find an alternative site. But local Mayor Antonio Colombo said the Madonna should be returned to her original resting place. He also threatened to take action against the immigrant, whose actions he described as "arbitrary and uncivilised". "Despicable and intolerant gestures of this sort must not be allowed to undermine our efforts to create a harmonious society based on mutual respect for different idea, traditions and religious convictions," Colombo said.
2007-08-21 18:04

http://www.ansamed.info/en/news/ME03.YAM18035.html
27110  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Blog de Cecilio Andrade on: August 26, 2007, 10:51:39 PM
Guau CWS:

Nunca he conocido a Cecilio, pero si' se de su buenisima reputacion a traves de Gabe Suarez y ahora por tu parte tambien.  Estoy tremendemente feliz ver su participacion aqui en nuestro foro.

Cecilio, aqui esta's en tu casa.

TAC,
CD

27111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: August 26, 2007, 10:48:29 PM
Re LNOP:

http://www.thestreet.com:80/_yahoo/newsanalysis/technicalanalysis/10376112.html
27112  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: August 26, 2007, 01:15:04 AM
From our friend CWS:

23 Aug 07

More on the subject. This is from a fellow Training Officer with a large PD:

"Two of our patrol officers were just involved (Tuesday) in what was nearly a
lethal fight with a robbery suspect in, of all places, a fast-food restaurant
bathroom!

Our officer was in foot-pursuit of a single, bank-robber suspect. The suspect
had at least one pistol with him that he had used to threaten bank employees.
He ran into a local fast-food restaurant and hid in the restroom. Our
fleet-footed officer was right on top of him. When he made physical contact,
the suspect stuck his pistol in the officer's stomach. However, our officer
responded instantly by grabbing the suspect's gun and prevented it
from pointing at him. The suspect's pistol never discharged.

The suspect, large and muscular, bit and fought, trying his best to get back
control of his pistol, but was unable to. Our officer was more than a match
for him, but both the officer's hands were occupied, and he was unable to get
to his own pistol.

A second officer entered bathroom moments behind the first. Seeing what was
going on, he jammed his own service pistol (G22) into the side of the suspect's
head and immediately attempted to fire. The pistol did not fire, because the
slide was pushed out of battery far enough to engage the disconnector.

The astonished officer, not understanding why his pistol would not fire,
abandoned efforts to shoot the suspect, and, using his pistol as a club,
savagely beat the suspect's head until the suspect, by then pleading for the
beating to stop, relinquished control of his own pistol and surrendered.

The suspect was taken into custody without further resistance. He suffered
several cuts but no serious injury. Our officers are okay, but shook-up, as
you might imagine!

Both these officers have been on the job for less than two years. During my
investigation, I apologized to both that, during their academy training, they
were apparently never told that their Glock pistols would not fire with the
slide out of battery. Indeed, the subject of contact-shooting was scarcely
addressed at all. The Academy curriculum is currently being updated/corrected
with regard to that.

However, neither officer carried a serious blade nor a back-up pistol, despite
the fact that their academy training did extensively address those subjects. I
instructed both to get serious blades and back-up guns into their lives
straightaway, before something like this happens to them again!"

Comment: We have a grossly inadequate amount of time to train young police
officers, and lethal-force training, it seems, is always least important in the
eyes of many academy administrators, training administrators, and chiefs of
police. For example, in the case of these two officers, the subject of
contact-shooting was never even mentioned. The omission nearly cost them their
lives!

Had the second officer's pistol discharged into the suspect's cranium when he
intended for it to, the fight would have almost certainly ended instantly.
However, as mentioned in recent Quips, when attempting contact shots using an
autoloading pistol, there is always the danger (as in the above case) that the
slide will be pushed out of battery, preventing the pistol from firing at all.
And, even when the pistol does discharge as planned, there is the danger that
bone chips, particles of skin and other bodily tissues, and blood will be
blasted into the pistol, preventing it from firing a second shot.

There are several methods for addressing these issues, from physically holding
the slide forward with the support-side hand as the trigger is pressed, to
withdrawing the pistol, performing a tap-rack-resume, and immediately
attempting to fire again, to posthaste transitioning to a back-up revolver and
re-performing the contact shot. All are valid. None are perfect. This issue
is one with which Operators need to be familiar, and which academies need to
teach, along with knife-fighting and other life-saving skills!

/John

************************************************** **********************

24 Aug 07

Why am I always armed? Why do I train continuously?

This from a friend who works in a prison:

"Today, I had an opportunity to hear stories from several violent offenders,
straight from their own lips. All were in excellent physical shape and would
(and do!) put up a serious fight in any situation. I know few people could
prevail against them with only bare hands. When there is more than one, any
one of us would be in serious danger. Put any one of them into regular
clothing, and they would blend right in most anywhere.

One inmate revealed the reason he was in the prison was multiple murders. He
got high on meth one evening and decided to break into a home. He tied up the
terrified (an unarmed) husband and wife, then decided to murder them. With a
pocket knife, he sawed on a woman's neck until he had cut her head off. Before
he himself was similarly murdered, her husband heard every one of her screams
and gurgles!

He took the victims' car and headed out of state. On the way, he ran out of
gas, so he stopped another car, murdered the unarmed driver (again with a
pocket knife), and took that car.

He continued to meet and murder people over the next week, seven in three
states. Finally, he returned home, married his girlfriend, and became a
father! Using DNA analysis, detectives secured a warrant for his arrest two
years later.

This is just one prison story, and by no means the worst! This institution
alone is full of them."
27113  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Peru on: August 25, 2007, 07:48:42 PM

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070825/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/peru_quake_homeless :

Peru quake victims battle hunger, cold
By EDISON LOPEZ, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 56 minutes ago

PISCO, Peru - An unforgiving wind lashes Juan Escate as he huddles around a
bonfire with his three children, chilling him as he ponders how to fulfill
his wife's dying plea.

Last week's magnitude-8 earthquake sent Escate's home on the outskirts of
Pisco tumbling down, burying his wife Doris in rubble as she rushed their
16-year-old daughter to safety.

"Promise me you'll take care of my children," he says were his wife's last
words.

The quake forced Escate and thousands of others in this impoverished port
city on Peru's central coast into crudely constructed shelters. Icy ocean
winds carry sand from the beaches and people keep watch all night against
thieves.

Adults say they are given a handful of rice with some potatoes at midday.
Children receive hot oatmeal for breakfast. Civil Defense has distributed
tents to some survivors, but most are still in flimsy makeshift shelters
near their homes made from pieces of wood and plastic sheets.

Escate's eyes are fixed on a giant pot of steaming rice and potatoes. The
food is not for him and his hungry neighbors but for the group of soldiers
protecting the homeless families from robbery - aid is more valuable now
than personal belongings.

"I don't know what I'm going to do. My children were left without a mother
and I have to take care of them alone," said Escate, his hands callused from
years as a garbage collector. The 16-year-old daughter survived but suffered
a fractured hip and is in a Lima hospital.

"She doesn't know her mother has left us," he said, sitting with his three
sons, ages 5, 8 and 10. The youngest was crying, a thick wool blanket up to
his eyes. The other two sat close to their father, listening intently.

More than 85 percent of the homes here were destroyed and at least 340
people were killed in this city of 90,000 according to Civil Defense
officials. Over all, the earthquake killed 514 in several cities, according
to the Civil Defense.

Wrapped in thick, scratchy blankets, survivors listen to the sound of the
crackling fire that burns on one of the few street corners in the San
Clemente district not blocked by dusty rubble.

Juan Camasca, 37, said 50 of his neighbors were lucky enough to eat a small
piece of chicken after one of the community members slaughtered his animals
to feed them.

He said life is hardest on the outskirts of Pisco, where aid is pouring in
and is available in more than a dozen points throughout the city, but
passing by those just outside.

"The aid came for three days after the earthquake," Camasca said. "They gave
us water, hot water even, but they stopped coming." He said he watched his
friends unsuccessfully try to flag down trucks full of food that didn't even
slow down.

Last week, a 6-week-old infant died of pneumonia after sleeping with her
family outside their badly damaged home in the nearby province of Canete.
Family members were worried that the house would topple over from one of the
strong aftershocks, which continued for days. They complained that
humanitarian aid did not reach them.

President Alan Garcia announced this week that electricity had returned to
much of the devastated region. But large areas of Pisco remain without
lights. Bonfires illuminate the shadows in the tent cities on its outskirts.
The government has said that rebuilding coastal towns will cost about $220
million.

Ten people are sleeping in Escate's shelter, lighted by a candle stuck
precariously to a wooden plank. Two soldiers peek through the blanket that
serves as the door, to make sure everyone is safe.

"A group of people who came by car tried to loot here, but the town drove
them out and they were captured," said Jorge Huaman, a soldier patrolling
the area, rubbing his hands together to keep warm.

Food is scarce, and government aid has been patchy, especially to rural
areas. U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Margareta Wahlstrom, the deputy
emergency relief coordinator, said there is enough water, food, sheeting and
blankets in the country, but that aid efforts here have been poorly
organized.

"There've been many actors in place, and there hasn't been good enough
coordination so that the direction the government has given has been
suitably followed," she said Friday.

Garcia's government has also blamed the country's Civil Defense for not
acting quickly and effectively.

___
27114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: August 25, 2007, 11:56:15 AM
"Fundamentalist Jews - Maintaining the State of Israel"

1) Are you saying that favoring the survival of Israel is the position of a fanatic?

2) Are you suggesting moral parity amongst all three groups?

27115  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Peru on: August 25, 2007, 08:49:11 AM
NY Times

PISCO, Peru, Aug. 23 — Through the choking smoke and with little light to guide him, Luis Palomino dug furiously through the rubble of the San Clemente church here two hours after last week’s earthquake buried parishioners under a pile of adobe stones.

Luis Palomino and his father, Romulo, pulled people from the rubble of a church in Pisco, Peru, after the earthquake.
Then, somewhere in the distance, he heard a baby crying.

Disoriented, Mr. Palomino, 30, said he could not locate the noise, until about five hours later, around 1 a.m., when he and his cousin Abel finally pulled 7-month-old Gerson Williams Alviar from beneath the body of his father, William.

While Gerson survived, both of the baby’s parents and all three of his sisters died in the church that night. So did as many as 60 members of one extended family, the Espinos, to whom the baby is related.

More than a week after the earthquake, the baby’s grandparents and his rescuers insist that if the government had mobilized its rescue efforts sooner, Gerson would not be an orphan today. Nor, they say, would so many people — about 540 in all, more than 432 of them in Pisco — have died from lack of air or from injuries suffered in the 8.0-magnitude earthquake that shook southern Peru on Aug. 15.

As it was, families here say they were left to sift the ruins for the dead and the living, amid faint cries and the sounds of cellphone buttons being pressed. “People were alive in there, but no help came,” said Kiara Alviar, 16, one of Gerson’s aunts. “It didn’t have to end this way.”

Professional rescue teams and heavy equipment to move debris did not arrive in Pisco until the next morning, more than 12 hours after the town of 90,000 had been demolished. Many of the victims choked to death on the thick dust cloud from the crumbled adobe stones, officials said.

Peruvians around the country now refer to the disaster as the Pisco earthquake. But the sad fact is that in those first hours, few outside Pisco knew either where it had struck or that it had been so devastating.

The temblor took out Pisco’s electricity and cut off all communications, including fixed-line phones and cellphones. Police radios, the few that there were, did not function, giving local officials little ability to contact rescuers in Lima, the capital city, about a four-hour drive away.

“The national police didn’t have the capacity to do anything,” said the Rev. Luis Miró, a priest at the San Clemente church. “It was a chaotic state. You couldn’t call Lima, there was no light. They didn’t have working radios. It was a huge failure.”

In the days since, many in Pisco have questioned the government’s emergency management system. That night, Alan García, Peru’s president, declared that few deaths were expected and that damage appeared limited.

“Thank God, the earthquakes have not resulted in a great catastrophe,” Mr. García said on television.

But as emergency response teams were mobilizing to reach Ica, the seat of one of Peru’s most important agricultural regions, and Chincha, the initial quake and its aftershocks had leveled more than 85 percent of Pisco, a seaside town of mostly modest adobe homes.

In recent days, Mr. García has said publicly that he regrets the collapse of the telephone system and that the country needs more communication reserves. Even on the night of the tragedy, he said, “Our country should be better connected for circumstances like this.”

That night more than 300 relatives and friends had filled the 200-year-old San Clemente church to pay tribute to Alejandro Nery Espino, the family patriarch, a well-respected man who had managed a fleet of city minibuses and had died a month before of a heart attack at age 67.

The Mass began at dusk. The Espino family filled the first two rows of pews, with friends and other relatives behind them. Just as the Rev. Emilio Torres was finishing the service, the earthquake struck. Witnesses, including two priests in the church, said the earth moved up and down like a jackhammer. Then it swayed from side to side.

“I thought I was dead for sure,” said the Rev. Alfonso Berrade, who was having a cup of tea in the priests’ residence across a courtyard.
------------
Page 2 of 2)



As the roof began raining stones onto them, the churchgoers screamed. Some ran for the exits. About 15 bodies were later found buried at the church’s front door, said Maximo Acosta, the head prosecutor in Pisco.

Mr. Palomino and his father, Romulo, 49, were in Pisco visiting family that Wednesday night. Mr. Palomino’s grandparents were attending the service for Mr. Espino, a longtime friend. Father and son groped their way through the darkened streets with Abel. They finally reached the church around 8 p.m. to search for Mr. Palomino’s grandparents and little cousin.

Once inside, they concentrated on the church’s center area, where they knew most of the mourners would have been sitting.

Then Mr. Palomino heard baby Gerson’s cries, but only for a moment. First, he thought the cries were coming from outside the crumbled church. Moments later, he could not pick them out from the quiet moaning of other churchgoers, buried but alive.

The men continued pulling away stones and calling for family members. Early on, a captain with the National Police yelled at them to get out. “Leave them! Leave them! Get out of here!” the elder Mr. Palomino recalled the captain saying.

The Palominos ignored him and continued their work, dragging both the dead and the living through the church’s front entrance. Romulo Palomino said they pulled out about 20 people, eight of whom were alive.

Local officials in Pisco confirmed that the Palominos had recovered several bodies. They were not alone; the Palominos said they saw other family members working feverishly through the dark, dusty haze, desperate to save their loved ones.

Three hours into the search, Luis Palomino again heard a baby faintly crying. Once he and his cousin had located the sound, they dug for two more hours before finally finding the baby under his father.

“The father saved the baby,” Mr. Palomino said. “He shielded his body and supported all the weight of the falling stones on his back.”

Romulo Palomino, meanwhile, had pulled his own relatives from the church. They were badly injured but alive, he said. But his mother and niece died on the way to a nearby hospital, and his father died once there, he said.

At least 90 people died inside the church in all, about two-thirds of them members of the Espino family.

“The dust and the pressure of the adobes and the columns, it was just too much,” Romulo Palomino said. “It was the dust more than anything that was killing people.”

The morning after the earthquake, father and son took tiny Gerson to a clinic a few blocks away to be examined. The next day, on Friday, relatives of the boy tracked Luis Palomino down. The baby instantly recognized Diego, one of his uncles, the elder Mr. Palomino said.

Today baby Gerson, known as Willy by his surviving family, is living in Ica with his maternal grandparents. Gerson’s cuts have healed. He smiled and looked contented on Wednesday as his aunt Kiara held him and rocked him in a small blanket. But he will never know his mother, Flor de Maria Alviar, a homemaker to her four children, or his father, William Herrera Espino, who was a private security guard. The couple had hoped to open a small business of their own, perhaps a clothes shop, said Manuel Alviar, Gerson’s grandfather. When the baby is older, his relatives plan to tell him more about the day he lost his family in San Clemente.

“I plan to tell him the truth,” said his Marta Alviar, his grandmother. “I will tell him how the help didn’t come soon enough, and how his father saved him, how he gave his life to protect him, as any father should.”

27116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia's Skat UCAV on: August 25, 2007, 06:40:21 AM
second post of the morning:

Russia: The Unveiling of the Skat
August 24, 2007 16 06  GMT



Summary

A new Russian unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) called the Skat was on display Aug. 24 at Russia's MAKS 2007 air show. Though the UCAV is still under development and details about its capabilities remain unknown, the Skat should not be underestimated.

Analysis

A mock-up of a Russian unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) being developed by the MiG Aircraft Corp. was displayed Aug. 24 at the MAKS 2007 air show near Moscow. This UCAV, dubbed the Skat, is not to be underestimated, though much about its development and capabilities remains to be seen.

Vaguely similar in appearance to the U.S. Navy’s Northrop Grumman X-47B, the Skat is hardly a new product on the world arms market. UCAVs, which are designed to deploy weapons, are under development in a number of locations around the globe, particularly in Europe. Hence, it is no surprise that Russia, one of the world's chief arms suppliers, also is pursuing them.

Though the unveiling of a wooden UCAV mock-up should not be taken too seriously, it also should not be dismissed offhand. MiG reportedly has been working on the Skat for more than two years, and Russia claims to have committed substantial funds to the country's ongoing unmanned aerial vehicle development.

However, many details about the Skat's development and capabilities are still unknown. The tailless flying wing configuration is a delicate design and requires fly-by-wire technology. Further software development is necessary to allow such a plane to operate autonomously -- an important step up from a more rudimentary remote-control configuration. And indigenous software development capacity is limited in Russia. The Soviets have historically regarded computers solely as a military technology; consequently, software development remains a very underdeveloped sector of the country's economy, and workers with these kinds of skills are aggressively courted by foreign firms.

Reports that the first of two functional Skat test beds will actually have a built-in cockpit for a human pilot -- a substantial design change at a substantial additional cost -- suggest that Russia still has much to do to perfect its unmanned technology.

Furthermore, the development of stealth technology requires a lot of work. The Russians have never believed in such technology, and they have refused to invest in it since the 1970s because of their belief that radar technology would improve faster. (Moscow does not share Washington's faith in small numbers of complex, advanced systems.)

The Skat will not be the best UCAV on the market, and it certainly will not be the stealthiest. But the Russians will build it from the ground up with production efficiency in mind. If they succeed, they will deploy the Skat in numbers and formations larger than those envisioned by the Pentagon for comparable missions. They might suffer a higher rate of attrition, but one should not assume the Skat will not get the job done.
stratfor.com
27117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: August 25, 2007, 06:31:32 AM
Russia: The Fundamentals of Russian Air Defense Exports
August 24, 2007 16 04  GMT



Summary

Russia displayed the new S-400 surface-to-air missile system at the MAKS 2007 air show in Moscow that began Aug. 21. Although Belarusian Defense Minister Col. Gen. Leonid Maltsev expressed interest in acquiring it, Moscow is not ready to export the S-400.

Analysis

Russia displayed its latest surface-to-air missile system, the S-400 Triumf, at the Aug. 21-26 MAKS 2007 air show in Moscow. The system was tested successfully in July and is now slowly being deployed around Moscow. Other countries, including Belarus, are keenly interested in the latest air defense technology. However, Igor Ashurbeily, CEO of S-400 producer Almaz Central Design Bureau, made it clear Aug. 23 that the system will not be exported until 2009. Russian air defense considerations, financial prudence and foreign policy all tend to argue for even longer delays in export.

History

Air defense is hardwired into the Russian military psyche. For much of the Cold War, Russia was at an extreme disadvantage in terms of intercontinental reach -- especially in terms of aerial reconnaissance and strategic bombers. To put it simply, Russia was more vulnerable to U.S. reconnaissance planes and strategic bombers than the United States was to Soviet planes.






Part of this is geography, part is history. The United States began designing an intercontinental bomber to reach Tokyo the moment the Japanese fleet bombed Pearl Harbor. The Russians, on the other hand, were fighting a massive and devastating land war against the seasoned German army. They had little time or patience for the niceties of long-range aviation. That disparity defined how each emerged from World War II to wage the Cold War. Air defense -- particularly surface-to-air missiles -- was consequently a major strategic consideration for the Soviets.

Today

At the apex of this tradition are the late models of the S-300 series, especially the S-300PMU2, which are renowned as some of the best air defense hardware money can buy. Their range and capability make them coveted strategic defensive assets. With exceptionally long ranges, they can reportedly engage stealth aircraft and low-flying cruise missiles, and even intercept shorter-range ballistic missiles.

The S-400 is the most recent variant. Despite the new designation, at one point the program was known as the S-300PMU3. The S-400 is quite similar to its older cousins, especially in outward appearance.

If the nomenclature here is beginning to get a bit dense, that is no accident. The Soviets became quite adept at clouding their military capabilities by using confusing basic distinctions. Two "variants" of the same system could bear little apparent and even less actual resemblance to one another.

This also cuts the other way. Moscow can use changes in nomenclature to make two quite similar systems appear to be very different. These skills are not lost on today's Kremlin.

Export

This is where export considerations begin to come into play. The ruse works only while no one else knows the finer points of the system. As long as the latest missiles remain sealed in their launch canisters and the electronic emissions of their engagement radars remain more or less out of the reach of American hands, the unknown remains unknown.

Widespread proliferation of S-400 batteries would make them increasingly accessible to study -- clandestine or otherwise -- by the U.S. military. (The Department of Defense acquired several components of various older versions of the S-300 from former Soviet Union states in the 1990s.) Such study would allow a concrete picture of the system's capabilities to emerge. A concrete picture defines the parameters of a problem, and a problem with parameters allows for the creation of concrete solutions.

Resale Value

The second reason Moscow is unlikely to let the S-400 slip out the door any time soon is that the Russian military-industrial complex has become particularly adept at refurbishing and upgrading old equipment and turning it around at a profit. Indeed, it is still selling variants of air defense systems with roots in the late 1950s. The Kremlin can then use this money to finance production and upgrades of the latest systems for itself. Meanwhile, it locks in a returning customer, who keeps coming back for upgrades and replacements for hardware that is much closer to slipping into obsolescence. This kind of thinking has an economic logic to it.

Foreign Policy

More than anything else, the export of strategic weapon systems is a tool of foreign policy. Such sales can help facilitate military cooperation or simply aid the enemy of one's enemy. Moscow certainly was not playing nice when it delivered shorter-range Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile systems to Iran. But Russia thus far appears to have refrained from selling more serious systems -- such as late-model S-300 systems -- to either Iran or Syria, despite sincere efforts on the part of both Tehran and Damascus. That is a line Moscow has decided not to cross with Washington.

Moscow has not widely sold the latest models of the S-300 system, and the Russians are hardly likely to begin exporting the S-400 before they expand production of its predecessor systems. Circumstances can change, however, especially as the United States continues to push toward a pair of ballistic missile defense bases in Europe, and Moscow is taking this potential shift into consideration.

Russia Holds its Ground

Ultimately, the S-400 builds on its predecessor. It is almost certainly an incremental improvement over the S-300PMU2. Those improvements, however, largely appear to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. However, even if the S-400 is little more than the S-300PMU2 with a new paint job, it is still one of the best strategic air defense assets money can buy. And Russia gains little from the system's capabilities being distributed internationally and pinpointed any further.

Although the deployment of the S-400 around Moscow hardly equates to Russia's readiness to put the system on the export market, the fielding of this "next generation" will lead almost inexorably to the increased export of later-model S-300s. That alone will facilitate a qualitative leap in air defense for a number of buyers.

Though the only true test for such systems is a shooting war, Russian air defense technology appears to be, at the very least, holding its ground in the face of generational advances by the U.S. Air Force -- and that technology will become increasingly available for the right price.

stratfor.com
27118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: August 25, 2007, 06:27:22 AM
FSU: Georgia on Moscow's Mind
Summary

Georgia's recent accusations that Russia has violated its airspace are symptomatic of deteriorating relations between the two countries. Whether or not Georgia's accusations are true, Russia sees the subjugation of Georgia as a vital part of a Russian resurgence in the region.

Analysis

On Aug. 7 Georgian authorities accused Russia of violating Georgian airspace and dropping a bomb near the village of Tsitelubani, a charge Georgia has repeated vehemently and Russia has denied. On Aug. 22, Georgia claimed to have suffered another airspace violation, this one in the vicinity of the Upper Abkhazia region. On Aug. 24, Georgian authorities first said they had fired on the jet, and then later claimed to have actually shot it down. At the time of this writing no hard evidence to substantiate the latest claim has been brought forward.

Relations between Russia and Georgia -- never better than frigid -- have plummeted to a level not seen since Russia quietly assisted anti-Georgian forces in the 1993 Abkhaz and South Ossetian secessionist wars.

The logic of the two sides is simple. Russia sees Georgia as a wayward province of the worst sort. Not only has it stubbornly refused to yield to a resurgence of Russian power, but its attempts at a close alliance with NATO and the United States have, in Moscow's view, unnecessarily complicated Russia's efforts to control its southern border. Russia blames Georgia for supporting the Chechen insurrection and feels that if Georgia is folded back into Russia proper, the instability in the Northern Caucasus could finally be quelled. Put another way, the subjugation of Georgia is a key early step for Russia not just to secure its borders, but to stage a general resurgence throughout the region. But Russia would rather do this without provoking a larger confrontation with the West. If there has to be a war, Russia would rather fight over a more important country.

On the flip side, the Georgians have lived in fear of a Russian invasion since 1993. Tbilisi is unwilling to sue for peace due to a mixture of nationalism, stubbornness and hope. The hope springs primarily from seeing the Chechens bloody Russia's nose so badly, yet the Georgians know that should Russia begin reasserting its strength, Georgia is doomed without outside help. Thus, Georgia's entire military and foreign policy strategy is predicated upon gaining that outside help. So Georgia's strategy is to appear the victim whenever possible, even if -- particularly in Russia's mind -- that involves embellishing (or even fabricating) the truth.

The truth of the current developments, therefore, is murky. Obviously, Russia has an interest in intimidating Georgia, but would prefer for it to remain unseen by others. Conversely, Georgia has an interest in being intimidated and wants to share such actions with the wider world in an attempt to build up support. Russia's refusal to certify whether the bomb dropped Aug. 6 (Georgia's initial accusation occurred the day after the bombing) came from its stockpiles is of course suspicious, but no more so than Georgia's inability to produce wreckage from a crash that supposedly happened two days ago.

What is clear, however, is this: Russia is resurging and Georgia is in its way. Russia also has more levers to deal with Georgia -- allies in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Armenia, corruption at every level in Georgia, and a Georgian military that is charitably described as slapdash -- than it does with nearly any other state. This will be the site of a major confrontation as Russian power grows. The only question is whether the events of the past month are the spark that lights the flame.

stratfor.com
27119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: August 25, 2007, 06:07:08 AM
GM:

Nice find with that Rittenburg piece.

Here the BBC reporting on Gaza:  http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=26744_Video-_Return_to_Gaza&only

Marc
27120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: August 25, 2007, 05:59:33 AM
 
US faces reverse brain drain, says study
23 Aug 2007, 0236 hrs IST, Chidanand Rajghatta,TNN

SMS NEWS to 8888 for latest updates
WASHINGTON: The United States is facing a brain drain, the loss of intellectual resources that till recently deprived countries such as India and China of its best and brightest, according to a new study.

The cause: "misplaced" US immigration policies that that block high skilled immigrants from becoming permanent American residents. The beneficiaries of the reverse brain drain: previous losers such as India and China, whose booming economies are starting to win back those who left for better prospects.

Researchers from Harvard, Duke and New York University on Wednesday released an analysis of international patent filings that also tracked what is being called "reverse brain drain."

The study shows that while foreign nationals, mostly Indians and Chinese, contributed to 25.6% of all US international patent applications in 2006, thousands of them are heading home because of hurdles in their bid to become permanent US residents.

"So far, the US has the benefit of attracting the worlds best and brightest. Now, because of our flawed immigration policies, we have set the stage for the departure of hundreds of thousands of highly skilled professionals - who we have trained in our technology, techniques and markets and made even more valuable," says Vivek Wadhwa, a Delhi-born engineering and business lecturer at Duke and Harvard, who is the lead researcher of the study.

"This is lose-lose for the US. Our corporations lose key talent that is contributing to innovation and competitiveness, and we end up creating potential competitors," he said in notes attached to the study.

Wadhwa reckons that India may have provided more intellectual capital to the United States over the last decade than all the financial aid Washington has given to India over the past 60 years. But this trend is reversing as Indians head back to home, frustrated by US immigration policies that keep them in limbo.

The study does not offer precise numbers of people returning to India or China but says "approximately one in five new legal immigrants and one on three employment principals either plan to leave the US or are uncertain about remaining."

It estimates that around a million high-skilled foreign workers are caught in an "immigration limbo," far more than the 300,000 previously estimated. Some reports put the number of high-skilled Indian immigrants who have returned from the US at between 35,000 and 60,000. Wadhwa says he is not for expanding the number of temporary H-1B visas - which he says is part of the problem - but favours more Green Cards.

"For the first time in its history, the US faces the prospect of a reverse brain-drain," he says. "If the US needs skilled immigrants, we should bring them here to stay – not as temporary workers."

The new study shows that in 2006, 16.8 per cent of international patent applications from the United States had an inventor or co-inventor with a Chinese heritage name while the contribution of inventors with Indian-heritage names was 13.7 per cent.

Both Indian and Chinese inventors tended to file most patents in the field of medical/sanitation preparations, pharmaceuticals, semi-conductors and electronics. An earlier report by the same group found that one in four engineering and technology companies founded between 1995 and 2005 had an immigrant founder. These companies employed 450,000 people and generated $52 billion in revenues in 2006.

Indian immigrants founded more companies than the next four groups (from UK, China, Taiwan, and Japan). 


 
 
27121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War? on: August 25, 2007, 05:32:05 AM
FRANCE: France has been working with a number of Arab states to develop peaceful nuclear programs to end the region's dependence on oil and improve relations with France, The Jerusalem Post reported, citing a French Foreign Ministry official. France has entered into a deal with Libya and has discussed creating programs with the United Arab Emirates and Algeria. The official said France has ensured the programs will be used for civilian purposes, mainly to produce drinking water by desalination.

stratfor.com
27122  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: August 25, 2007, 05:30:31 AM
stratfor.com

VENEZUELA: Venezuela signed a deal with Rosoboronexport, Russia's main arms selling company, on the sidelines of the MAKS 2007 air show for the sale of 98 Ilyushin IL-114 airplanes, Izvestia reported, citing Alexander Novikov, the director of a company that produces engines for the planes. However, Rosoboronexport said in a statement that it has not signed a contract for the sale of the planes, which can be used for passengers or cargo.
27123  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: August 25, 2007, 05:18:13 AM
Some good points for us civilians in here too:

www.ForceScienceNews.com
 

Distractions and aggressive subjects; what a new study and past experience tell us

Force Science News #79
August 24, 2007


   
Researchers from the University of Kentucky confirmed recently what skillful cops have known for years: well-timed, well-crafted distractions can derail difficult suspects from violent intentions.

The researchers tested this theory with drunks, but according to behavioral scientist Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Research Center, their findings are relevant to a wide variety of tough-to-handle subjects, including the drug addled, the mentally ill, and the emotionally distraught or irate. Lewinski teaches distraction techniques in the law enforcement program at Minnesota State University-Mankato.

"Distraction works well if you can pitch it right," he says. And in an interview with Force Science News, he offers some practical guidelines for doing so.

[Please note the opportunity at the end of this report to share distraction strategies that have worked for you and that could be helpful to other officers.]

First, the Kentucky study:

THE PREMISE.

With an assistant, Dr. Peter Giancola, a psychology professor at U.K. in Lexington, recruited 48 healthy male social drinkers between 21 and 33 years old, to test the hypothesis that well-timed distraction can help curb violence associated with intoxication.

As LEOs well know, "acute alcohol consumption is [often] related to aggressive behavior," Giancola states, with "alcohol involved in about 50 per cent of violent crimes." According to a psychological theory called the attention-allocation model, drunkenness narrows a person's field of attention so he or she "can really only focus on one thing at a time." In hostile situations, drunks who are inclined toward violence tend to focus on provocative, aggression-facilitating stimuli rather than on inhibitory cues, Giancola says.

Of course, not everyone becomes aggressive when they drink, he explains. "Many people become sleepy and happy. So, this theory only works for people who already have traits that put them at risk," such as impulsiveness, irritability, and a personal acceptance of violence (the belief that "beating my wife and kids is a good thing, because it keeps them in line," for example).

"Alcohol doesn't make you do different things," Giancola says. "It just allows what is already inside you to come out. It takes the brakes off."

THE TEST.

Giancola and his associate used a laboratory computer-game simulation to determine whether distraction might help defuse volatile, alcohol-fueled conflicts, such as bar brawls, by diverting drunks away from provocative cues. He claims this was "the first systematic test of the attention-allocation model" as it relates to intoxication and aggression.

Half of the Kentucky test subjects were given alcohol-spiked orange juice that brought their average BAC reading to 0.10. The other half were given a placebo drink and remained sober. All engaged in what they thought was a computer game that measured their reaction times against those of an unseen "competitor." When the test subjects supposedly "lost" a speed drill, they received a mild electric shock. When they "won," they could deliver a shock to their opponent. A subject's physical aggression was determined by the intensity and length of shock he chose to deliver.

To simulate distraction, half the drunk subjects and half the sober group were told to perform an "important" memory test during the game and were promised a cash reward if they did so successfully. This involved remembering the sequence in which small squares randomly appeared on the computer screen and clicking on them in the proper order.

THE FINDINGS.

Both the intoxicated and sober groups experienced a decline in reaction time when they had to tend to the memory-task distraction. However, the sober subjects "had sufficient attentional resources to attend to both the distracting and the provocative stimuli." They showed about the same level of aggression as sober subjects who were not distracted by the memory test.

There was significant difference, though, between the distracted and the nondistracted drunks. The former exhibited far less aggression than the latter. Giancola concluded that being mentally diverted left the drunken subjects with "less cognitive space [in their attention capacity] to house and process hostile cues."

With further testing, the researchers found that the degree of distraction is important. If the attempted diversion is too mild, it won't attract enough of the subject's attention. If it's too intense or confusing, it "might engender more aggression due to frustration," Giancola reported.

Lewinski concurs that distraction can be a valuable tool in curbing aggression. "On the street, it can work not only with drunks but with sober people who are emotionally aroused," he says. "If you can capture their attention and pull them away from whatever is stoking their agitation, you may be able to get them to work with you instead of blowing up on you."

Distractions come in 2 varieties, he explains: physical and psychological.

PHYSICAL DISTRACTION.

In the physical realm, Lewinski recalls a veteran Minneapolis officer who wore a powerful lifeguard's whistle on a thin thread around his neck. When he walked into a heated domestic or a bar fight where the players were "intensely emotionally engaged" and paying no attention to him, he'd let loose a shrill blast of the whistle and yell, "Everybody out of the pool!"

"People couldn't intentionally ignore him when that sudden, loud whistle blew," Lewinski says, "and he added a little humor with the pool command. Together, they were enough to break through the subjects' emotional barrier and get attention focused on him and off the escalating agitation."

Similarly, officers sometimes find that flicking room lights on and off during a nighttime domestic, for example, can be "a powerful attention-getting technique," Lewinski says. "Subjects are distracted from their battle temporarily, trying to figure out what's going on."

A physical distraction may even help you connect with delusional or hallucinating subjects. He cited a study conducted on psych wards in Michigan that discovered that attendants could often break through a patient's psychotic shell by clapping loudly and simultaneously shouting at them "while maintaining a calm demeanor. The noise shifts their attention and the calm appearance suggests that someone non-threatening is there to work with them."

Sometimes your challenge will be to eliminate physical distractions that compete with you for a subject's attention. Examples:


• "A loud radio can be especially distracting and agitating to people who are drunk or drugged," Lewinski says. "Get it shut off, along with the TV."
• Flashing red lights on your squad car "often have the same effect. If you can turn them off without jeopardizing your safety, that may help you gain and keep a subject's attention."

• Dogs and little kids "are terrible distractions when you're trying to work with parents. Getting them into another room or into the care of a neighbor or some other responsible person will help free the adults to concentrate on you."

PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRACTION.

The key to psychologically shifting a subject's focus is hitting on a distraction that is important to them, "something that's enough to influence them," Lewinski says. "Otherwise, you may confuse them, anger them, and make the situation worse. You will appear to be uncaring or not listening to what's concerning them."

Say you're in a private residence, trying to deal with a mother whose son has been caught up in troubles with the police. She's becoming "more and more agitated about what you're doing to her child. Allowed to continue working herself up, she could become violent.

"If you see athletic trophies in the room or pictures of the son in a sports uniform, you might acknowledge these mementoes and try something like this as a distraction: 'We're talking about the trouble your son's in. I know he's also been a good boy. Can you tell me about that?'

"This is something important to her. It may deflect her from her agitation and help you establish enough rapport to get back to the problem on a more logical and influential basis. Certainly it's likely to be more effective than trying to distract her by talking about your bowling scores, which have no importance in her life."

In contacts that eventually erupt in violence, "officers often miss that the subject is escalating emotionally through self-agitation. They're not sensitive enough to recognize this and proactively intervene to ease the situation and it just gets worse.

"Good officers, by contrast, start reading the level of a subject's emotional intensity from the beginning of the encounter and are always looking for cues to psychological strategies that might help control the situation."

For example, if you're dealing with a drunk who's starting to get worked up but is still at a relatively low level of agitation, you might tell him that you need to know all the addresses where he's lived for the last 5 years, Lewinski suggests. "This can be a challenging intellectual task for someone in an altered state, and may fully consume his diminished mental capacity."

On the other hand, subjects displaying a high emotional intensity-a couple bent on tearing each other apart in a domestic dispute, for instance-"may require a distraction that's much more visceral. You might say, 'Just a minute. I know you have children. Before we get into your situation, can you tell me if your kids are safe and where they are?' This distraction is likely to be important to them and offers an opportunity to calm them a bit while they respond."

One officer, sensing that an agitated suspect was building toward a physical attack on him, diverted the suspect by asking him how he thought other kids would taunt his children at school the next day if got himself on the news that night for assaulting a police officer.

"There are many reasons people may want to cooperate with you," Lewinski observes. Sometimes an apt distraction at the very beginning of a contact can keep the interaction on an even keel throughout. Lewinski offers these real-life examples:


• When officers in one Canadian province stopped individual bikers from a gang known to be troublesome, they found that they encountered less hostility when they started their face-to-face contact by admiring the violator's motorcycle and getting him to discuss its attributes a bit-including its ability to "go really fast." Often they could segue to this pertinent question: "How fast do you think you were going just now?" "By then, they'd built enough rapport to defuse the situation a bit."
• When Lewinski worked with Arizona patrol officers on a project involving the mentally ill and homeless, he always carried water and fruit in his car. "Drinking mostly alcohol and caffeine, these subjects are usually dehydrated, and they don't eat much," he explains. "You can distract them by asking if they're hungry or thirsty, and while they're engaged in eating they're calming down. You come across as a caring individual, and when you start talking about the problem they're having or presenting, you're seen as less threatening." Similarly, in cold climates "you can frisk them and then invite them to sit in your car and warm up for a few minutes, then engage in the problem that brought you to the scene."

Obviously, such ploys should be reserved for times when they seem to be strategically to your advantage; your job isn't social work. And in some situations, there won't be time to attempt distractions; immediate physical intervention may be necessary to establish control.

Remember, too, that distractions don't always work. Lewinski recalls a case in which officers were dispatched to a house where a man was randomly firing a deer rifle from the screened-in front porch. Later it was learned that he was experiencing an emotional meltdown over the recent death of his father.

Once the officers persuaded the distraught suspect to put the gun down, they gathered around him and worked at calming him down. Noticing an magnificent elk's head mounted on the porch wall, one officer directed the subject's attention to it and asked him about it, thinking to distract him from his grief. Turned out it was a prize bull the dead father had bagged and probably the most iconic relic he'd left behind. The subject went ape all over again.

"Sometimes, it's just the cut of the cards," Lewinski admits. "But good distractions have proven successful enough that they're worth trying in appropriate circumstances. Just be prepared with other options in case they fail. Nothing works perfectly all the time."

NOTE: We'd like to hear about successes and failures you've had with distractions. Your experiences could be helpful to other officers in critical situations. Just shoot us an email at cr@pixelhype.com and we'll print a representative sampling in a future issue of Force Science News.

=====

For another summary of the University of Kentucky study, see "Distraction Can Defuse Drunken Violence" [Read it now.] A full copy of Dr. Giancola's study, "Alcohol and Aggression: A Test of the Attention-Allocation Model," is available for a fee in the July 2007 issue of Psychological Science, archived here.


 
 
27124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: August 24, 2007, 10:48:06 PM
LNOP up 7.3 %.

Re-entered ISIS.
27125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: August 24, 2007, 10:31:14 AM
'To Old Times'
A toast to American troops, then and now.

Friday, August 24, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Once I went hot-air ballooning in Normandy. It was the summer of 1991. It was exciting to float over the beautiful French hills and the farms with crisp crops in the fields. It was dusk, and we amused ourselves calling out "Bonsoir!" to cows and people in little cars. We had been up for an hour or so when we had a problem and had to land. We looked for an open field, aimed toward it, and came down a little hard. The gondola dragged, tipped and spilled us out. A half dozen of us emerged scrambling and laughing with relief.

Suddenly before us stood an old man with a cracked and weathered face. He was about 80, in rough work clothes. He was like a Life magazine photo from 1938: "French farmer hoes his field." He'd seen us coming from his farmhouse and stood before us with a look of astonishment as the huge bright balloon deflated and tumbled about.

One of us spoke French and explained our situation. The farmer said, or asked, "You are American." We nodded, and he made a gesture--I'll be back!--and ran to the house. He came back with an ancient bottle of Calvados, the local brandy. It was literally covered in dust and dry dirt, as if someone had saved it a long time.

He told us--this will seem unlikely, and it amazed us--that he had not seen an American in many, many years, and we asked when. "The invasion," he said. The Normandy invasion.

Then he poured the Calvados and made a toast. I wish I had notes on what he said. Our French speaker translated it into something like, "To old times." And we raised our glasses knowing we were having a moment of unearned tenderness. Lucky Yanks, that a wind had blown us to it.

That was 16 years ago, and I haven't seen some of the people with me since that day, but I know every one of us remembers it and keeps it in his good-memory horde.

He didn't welcome us because he knew us. He didn't treat us like royalty because we had done anything for him. He honored us because we were related to, were the sons and daughters of, the men of the Normandy Invasion. The men who had fought their way through France hedgerow by hedgerow, who'd jumped from planes in the dark and climbed the cliffs and given France back to the French. He thought we were of their sort. And he knew they were good. He'd seen them, when he was young.


 

I've been thinking of the old man because of Iraq and the coming debate on our future there. Whatever we do or should do, there is one fact that is going to be left on the ground there when we're gone. That is the impression made by, and the future memories left by, American troops in their dealings with the Iraqi people.
I don't mean the impression left by the power and strength of our military. I mean the impression left by the character of our troops-- by their nature and generosity, by their kindness. By their tradition of these things.

The American troops in Iraq, our men and women, are inspiring, and we all know it. But whenever you say it, you sound like a greasy pol: "I support our valiant troops, though I oppose the war," or "If you oppose the war, you are ignoring the safety and imperiling the sacrifice of our gallant troops."

I suspect that in their sophistication--and they are sophisticated--our troops are grimly amused by this. Soldiers are used to being used. They just do their job.

We know of the broad humanitarian aspects of the occupation--the hospitals being built, the schools restored, the services administered, the kids treated by armed forces doctors. But then there are all the stories that don't quite make it to the top of the heap, and that in a way tell you more. The lieutenant in the First Cavalry who was concerned about Iraqi kids in the countryside who didn't have shoes, so he wrote home, started a drive, and got 3,000 pairs sent over. The lieutenant colonel from California who spent his off-hours emailing hospitals back home to get a wheelchair for a girl with cerebral palsy.

The Internet is littered with these stories. So is Iraq. I always notice the pictures from the wire services, pictures that have nothing to do with government propaganda. The Marine on patrol laughing with the local street kids; the nurse treating the sick mother.

A funny thing. We're so used to thinking of American troops as good guys that we forget: They're good guys! They have American class.

And it is not possible that the good people of Iraq are not noticing, and that in some way down the road the sum of these acts will not come to have some special meaning, some special weight of its own. The actor Gary Sinise helps run Operation Iraqi Children, which delivers school supplies with the help of U.S. forces. When he visits Baghdad grade schools, the kids yell, "Lieutenant Dan!"--his role in "Forrest Gump," the story of another good man.


 

Some say we're the Roman Empire, but I don't think the soldiers of Rome were known for their kindness, nor the people of Rome for their decency. Some speak of Abu Ghraib, but the humiliation of prisoners there was news because it was American troops acting in a way that was out of the order of things, and apart from tradition. It was weird. And they were busted by other American troops.
You could say soldiers of every country do some good in war beyond fighting, and that is true enough. But this makes me think of the statue I saw once in Vienna, a heroic casting of a Red Army soldier. Quite stirring. The man who showed it to me pleasantly said it had a local nickname, "The Unknown Rapist." There are similar memorials in Estonia and Berlin; they all have the same nickname. My point is not to insult Russian soldiers, who had been born into a world of communism, atheism, and Stalin's institutionalization of brutish ways of being. I only mean to note the stellar reputation of American troops in the same war at the same time. They were good guys.

They're still good.

We should ponder, some day when this is over, what it is we do to grow such men, and women, what exactly goes into the making of them.

Whatever is decided in Washington I hope our soldiers know what we really think of them, and what millions in Iraq must, also. I hope some day they get some earned tenderness, and wind up over the hills of Iraq, and land, and an old guy comes out and says, "Are you an American?" And they say yes and he says, "A toast, to old times."

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father" (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays on OpinionJournal.com.

WSJ
27126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: August 24, 2007, 09:53:36 AM
WSJ


Another Vietnam?
President Bush's analogy to Iraq is not inaccurate, just incomplete.

BY MAX BOOT
Friday, August 24, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Ever since the mid-1970s, critics of American military involvement have warned that any decision to deploy armed forces abroad--in Lebanon and El Salvador in the 1980s, in Kuwait, Somalia, and Kosovo in the 1990s, and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan--would result in "another Vietnam." Conversely, supporters of those interventions have adamantly resisted any Vietnam comparisons.

President George W. Bush boldly abandoned that template with his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Wednesday. In a skillful bit of political jujitsu, he cited Vietnam not as evidence that the Iraq War is unwinnable, but to argue that the costs of giving up the fight would be catastrophic--just as they were in Southeast Asia.

This has met with predictable and angry denunciations from antiwar advocates who argue that the consequences of defeat in Vietnam weren't so grave. After all, isn't Vietnam today an emerging economic power that is cultivating friendly ties with the U.S.?

True, but that's 30 years after the fact. In the short-term, the costs of defeat were indeed heavy. More than a million people perished in the killing fields of Cambodia, while in Vietnam, those who worked with American forces were consigned, as Mr. Bush noted, to prison camps "where tens of thousands perished." Many more fled as "boat people," he continued, "many of them going to their graves in the South China Sea."

That assessment actually understates the terrible repercussions from the American defeat, whose ripples spread around the world. In the late 1970s, America's enemies seized power in countries from Mozambique to Iran to Nicaragua. American hostages were seized aboard the SS Mayaguez (off Cambodia) and in Tehran. The Red Army invaded Afghanistan. It is impossible to prove the connection with the Vietnam War, but there is little doubt that the enfeeblement of a superpower encouraged our enemies to undertake acts of aggression that they might otherwise have shied away from. Indeed, as Mr. Bush noted, jihadists still gain hope from what Ayman al Zawahiri accurately describes as "the aftermath of the collapse of the American power in Vietnam and how they ran and left their agents."





The problem with Mr. Bush's Vietnam analogy is not that it is inaccurate, but that it is incomplete. As he noted, "The tragedy of Vietnam is too large to be contained in one speech." If he chooses to return to the subject in future speeches, there are some other parallels he could invoke:
• The danger of prematurely dumping allied leaders. A chorus of voices in Washington, led by Sens. Carl Levin and Hillary Clinton, is calling on Iraqis to replace Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. Even Mr. Bush and his ambassador to Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, have expressed disappointment with Mr. Maliki. They have been careful, however, to refrain from any calls for his ouster. That's wise, because we know from our experience in Vietnam the dangers of switching allied leaders in wartime.

In the early 1960s, American officials were frustrated with Ngo Dinh Diem, and in 1963 the Kennedy administration sanctioned a coup against him, in the hope of installing more effective leadership in Saigon. The result was the opposite: a succession of weak leaders who spent most of their time plotting to stay in power. In retrospect it's obvious that, for all his faults, we should have stuck with Diem.

Today we should stick with Mr. Maliki, imperfect as he is. He took office little more than a year ago after his predecessor, Ibraham al Jaffari, was forced out by American pressure for being ineffectual. The fact that we are bemoaning the same shortcomings in both Messrs. Jaffari and Maliki suggests that the problems are not merely personal but institutional. The Iraqi constitution, written at American instigation, gives little power to the prime minister. The understandable desire was to ward off another dictator, but we shouldn't now be complaining that the prime minister isn't able to exercise as much authority as we would like.

The only hope for long-term political progress is to limit the power of the militias--the real powers--which must start by curbing the violence which gives them much of their raison d'être. That is what the forces under Gen. David Petraeus's command are now doing. We'll need considerably more progress on the security front before we can expect any substantial political progress at the national level. In the meantime, we shouldn't hold Mr. Maliki to unrealistic expectations as we did with Diem.

• The danger of winning militarily and losing politically. In 1968, after Gen. Creighton Abrams took over as the senior U.S. military commander in South Vietnam, he began to change the emphasis from the kind of big-unit search-and-destroy tactics that Gen. William Westmoreland had favored, to the sort of population-protection strategy more appropriate for a counterinsurgency. Over the next four years, even as the total number of American combat troops declined, the communists lost ground.

By 1972 most of the south was judged secure and the South Vietnamese armed forces were able to throw back the Easter Offensive with help from lots of American aircraft but few American soldiers. If the U.S. had continued to support Saigon with a small troop presence and substantial supplies, there is every reason to believe that South Vietnam could have survived. It was no less viable than South Korea, another artificial state kept in existence by force of arms over many decades. But after the signing of the 1973 Paris Peace Accords, we all but cut off South Vietnam, even while its enemies across the borders continued to be resupplied by their patrons in Moscow and Beijing.

Following in Abrams's footsteps, Gen. Petraeus is belatedly pursuing classic counterinsurgency strategies that are paying off. The danger is that American politicians will prematurely pull the plug in Iraq as they did in Vietnam. If they do so, the consequences will be even worse, since Iraq is much more important strategically than Vietnam ever was.

• The danger of allowing enemy sanctuaries across the border. This a parallel that Mr. Bush might not be so eager to cite, because in many ways he is repeating the mistakes of Lyndon Johnson, who allowed communist forces to use safe rear areas in Cambodia, Laos, and North Vietnam to stage attacks into South Vietnam. No matter how much success American and South Vietnamese forces had, there were always fresh troops and supplies being smuggled over the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Something similar is happening today in Iraq. Dozens of Sunni jihadists are entering Iraq from Syria every month. While not huge in absolute numbers, they are estimated to account for 80% to 90% of suicide attacks. The National Intelligence Estimate released yesterday finds that "Damascus is providing support" to various groups in Iraq "in a bid to increase Syrian influence." Meanwhile, the NIE notes, Iran "has been intensifying" its support for Shiite extremists, leading to a dramatic rise in attacks using explosively formed penetrators that can punch through any armor in the American arsenal.

The Bush administration has cajoled and threatened these states to stop their interference in Iraqi affairs, but their pleas have largely fallen on deaf ears. For all of Mr. Bush's reputed bellicosity, he has backed away from taking the kind of actions that might cause Syria and Iran to mend their ways. He has not, for instance, authorized "hot pursuit" of terrorists by American forces over the Iraqi border. Until the U.S. does more to cut off support for extremists within Iraq, it will be very difficult to get a grip on the security situation.

• The danger of not making plans for refugees. One of the great stains on American honor in Indochina was the horrible fate suffered by so many Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians who put their trust in us. When the end came we left far too many of them in the lurch, consigning them to prison, death or desperate attempts to escape.

There are many Iraqis who would be left in equally dire straits should the U.S. pull all or even a substantial portion of its forces out of the country. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have worked closely with our forces, whether as translators, security guards, police officers, civil servants or cabinet ministers. Many have already been targeted for death, and need to flee for their lives. Yet so far we have been accepting only a trickle of Iraqi refugees to our shores--a mere 200 in the first six months of this year.





We should take steps now to assure all those Iraqis who cooperate with us that visas and means of evacuation will be available to them if necessary. The U.S. government has been reluctant to do this for fear of admitting the possibility of failure, and perhaps facilitating an even greater "brain drain" from Iraq. But it would actually be easier for many to stay and serve in Iraq if they know that they and their families have a personal "exit strategy."
This does not, of course, exhaust the possible analogies between Iraq and Vietnam. Nor is it meant to suggest the parallels are exact; there are in fact substantial differences. Any historical comparison has to be handled with care and not swallowed whole. But there are important lessons to be learned from our Vietnam experience, and as President Bush noted, they are not necessarily the ones drawn by the doves who have made Vietnam "their" war.

Mr. Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of "War Made New: Weapons, Warriors and the Making of the Modern World" (Gotham Books), just out in paperback.
27127  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Larry Hartsell died on: August 24, 2007, 09:04:49 AM
All:

I first met/experienced Sifu Larry around 1986 at the Inosanto Academy (the one at Glencoe Ave).  He was giving a one day seminar and needed someone to volunteer as an assistant.  I had just finished three years with Paul Vunak and figured I was up to it.  What followed was an amazing day of trapping-grappling.  The next day I went to a chiropractor, who had many stuntmen and athletes as clients.  Upon adjusting me said she had never had anyone with that many vertabrae needing an adjustment smiley

Sifu Larry was serious about staying in fighting shape.  He even took a weight set with him to Spain one time.

In recent years, upon my going upstairs to teach my Saturday class at the Inosanto Academy sometimes I would see him there teaching privates or working out for himself.  I remember in particular one time I arrived about an hour early to get in a workout for myself and there he was, already working out on the heavy bag.  The pace and power would have been impressive for a much younger man, but were quite remarkable for a man of his age.  After about 45 minutes non-stop (!) he paused and I complimented him and told him that he inspired me.  He seemed pleased, and went back to work. 

To live with the knowledge of our death is perhaps Life's greatest challenge for us, and to do so knowing that our time is going to be shorter due to health reasons is perhaps the hardest of all.  When recently I saw him teach, it was obvious that his health was weakening, but there was no complaint.  He had his Art and he walked as a Warrior for all his days.

The Adventure does continue,
Crafty Dog
27128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: August 24, 2007, 08:23:57 AM
As readers of this forum know, I have high regard for Stratfor and intellectual honesty requires that I post the following piece, with which I disagree in important part because I think continued improvement on the ground can create political changes-- see "2)" of my previous post-- this of course leaves out the military issue of strain on our forces, which is real and which has been created by President Bush's obtuse denials of what was going on in 2003, 2004, 2005, and through November of 2006 and concommitant denial of the need to expand the size of our military.  This is a point I have made several times around here-- Bush could have found it easy in political terms during the Presidential campaign to call for an increase because even Senator Kerry was calling for an increase of 40,000 or so, yet he did not.  In 2004 it would have been MUCH easier to recruit than now!-- yes the President did not do so until after Republican loss of the House in November 2006. 

Anyway, here is the Stratfor piece:
========================

Geopolitical Diary: Rethinking the Mission in Iraq

A new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq was issued Thursday. It made grim reading. It asserted that "Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively," and said that this is unlikely to change in the future. It did say that there had been measurable improvements in security, but that these were uneven and that they had not curtailed the general ability of insurgents to carry out attacks.

The report traced the problem back to its obvious roots. The Shia want to retain political dominance, while the Sunnis are not prepared to take a secondary role. The report also said that while security initiatives among the Sunnis represent the best hope for improving security, "we judge these initiatives will only translate into widespread accommodation and enduring stability if the Iraqi government accepts and supports them."

The strategy of the United States has been to use its forces to create a security environment in which a stable, pro-American government could be created in Baghdad and assume the responsibility for internal security using Iraqi forces under its command. The NIE is essentially stating that that strategy has been a failure. The improvements in the security environment are insufficient to create a stable Iraqi government and there is no motivation among Sunnis and Shia to create one anyway. It is simply not apparent that there is a solution.

It is hard to imagine that the much-awaited report from Gen. David Petraeus, scheduled to be released Sept. 15, is going to read much different. If it does, it will create an interesting situation in which the military and the intelligence community are deeply split. If that happens, the situation will be even more troubling. Fighting a war with a split like that would boggle the mind. We suspect that Petraeus will emphasize the improving security situation, concede that there is much to be done, but stay away from questions like political progress in Baghdad. If he is more optimistic, which we doubt, the difference between his report and the NIE will be one of focus or degree.

And that will pose the fundamental question for the United States: What is to be done? Maintaining the current strategy will have been rejected. Maintaining the same strategy with fewer troops makes even less sense. A slow withdrawal -- seemingly a reasonable choice -- makes the least sense. A staged pullout with U.S. forces continuing the same mission of aggressive security patrolling would eliminate any chance of success while incurring increased risk for the diminished force remaining.

The other alternative is a rapid and complete withdrawal. You can argue that this would leave it to the Iraqis to solve the problem. But that also is illusory. The most likely outcome of a rapid withdrawal would be a massive increase in Iranian influence and presence in Iraq, including the substantial possibility of Iranian forces entering Iraq and moving toward the Saudi border. With U.S. forces withdrawn, and some remaining in Kuwait, it would raise the serious question of the future of the Arabian Peninsula. Withdrawal would accept the rise of an Iranian regional power that would threaten to redefine the shape of the region. It is hard to see how any American president, no matter how badly he or she wanted out of Iraq, could live with the geopolitical and political consequences of Iran in a dominant regional role.

All three choices -- staying the course, slow withdrawal, quick withdrawal -- seem either to be unworkable or to have unacceptable consequences. That leaves remaining in Iraq but redefining the mission. The mission to date has failed. A new mission could be protecting the Arabian Peninsula from Iranian domination. This would end U.S. attempts to secure inhabited areas, and focus instead on becoming a blocking force to prevent Iran moving toward the south. In other words, withdraw to the south and west of the Euphrates and let the rest of Iraq go as it will.

This is not a new proposal from us. However, the NIE report, which makes it clear that the current strategy has failed, obviously raises the question of what is to be done. The two withdrawal strategies are each deeply flawed. That leaves the fourth strategy, the only contender, unless the United States is prepared to maintain its current posture indefinitely. As that isn't an option politically, we suspect that the blocking force concept will begin to emerge as a viable alternative.
27129  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / An email from my mom on: August 23, 2007, 11:18:49 PM
August 23,2007
I am writing tonight to all the good friends and family who have called and emailed to find out how I am and who have helped during this crisis.  It is only an hour since my email got re-established and I have been longing to contact you, thank you, and give you news from the little village of Humay, which was just about at the epicenter of the earthquake.
 
We are 45 kilometers in from the coastal city of  Pisco, which is now 80 percent flattened, with so many people buried under its ruins that you need a mask to enter the city as the smell of the corpses is unbearable.  The part of the city on the ocean where I had my apartment for the first two years I was here was pretty well washed away.  The few people remaining in the city are all living on what remains of the sidewalks and streets with whatever belongings they have been able to drag out of the ruins.
 
The city of Chincha, about as far inland as Humay but about 45 kilometers north of us has more buildings standing if you look from the outside, but the insides are almost all completely in ruin, with buried inhabitants still waiting to be found..  The few houses that are habitable are subject to attack by gangs of roving bandits, as are the people sleeping in the streets. My right hand man lives in Chincha and is one of the few who has a solid house.  14 members of his family are huddled inside sleeping on the floor, while he spends the night on the roof with an assortment of arms and ammunition, shooting at the looters who try to enter.
 
In Humay hardly a house is intact.  Most are in ruins or unstable, and as in Chincha, people are afraid to sleep indoors even if the house looks sort of okay, because they are terrified that even a small aftershock (and we  have had both small and large aftershocks every day up to yesterday) will cause walls and adobes to fall down on them, so everyone is sleeping outdoors.  By a miracle, no one died in Humay, but everywhere the children and many adults are sick with horrible bronchitis, fevers, etc.  It’s down in the low forties at night, and drizzling.  Most people have managed some kind of overhead shelter, but that does not maintain health for any but the fittest…..
 
As for me:  I was in the living room with a gorgeous fire going and a good book, waiting for my dinner, when my cook came screaming out of the kitchen, the lights went out, and something fell down from the ceiling near the fireplace.  I could still see because of the light from the fireplace and because I have an emergency light plugged in the wall that goes on automatically if the electricity fails.  The cook was pulling at my arm and screaming hysterically and I thought something had happened to her in the kitchen.  She was howling about being saved and trying to get me to get up off the sofa and to the door to the lawn.  I absolutely couldn’t understand what she wanted, but to humor her I finally got  up.  The door wouldn’t open, and then things began falling on my head and the house was rocking and shaking wildly.  There is a huge window next to the door, and we smashed through the screen and pushed the window out while big adobes kept crashing down around and on us.  Finally we got out the window and away from the house and sat in the middle of the lawn where the cook’s terrified and howling children and her husband came to join us and the earth continued to act as if we were totally insignificant insects on her majestic surface.  Through the windows the fire continued to burn brilliantly in the fireplace.
 
 It really did seem possible that the earth would open and swallow us.  I kept trying to make light of it to the children and the cook, but even after the shaking stopped they were inconsolable.  I had the husband (my driver) bring the car around and got the children into it and we moved down the property away from the house.  I felt it was a good idea to use the lights from the car as it was a very black night.  Unfortunately the shadows on the ground kept appearing like cracks in the earth to the children and their hysterics were very hard to control.  Eventually things got quieter and I suggested that we all sleep in my car (a 7 passenger van) pointed at the gate so that if it became appropriate to leave we could do it rapidly.  They all refused and took blankets and slept outside – if you could call it sleeping.  I grabbed some blankets and stayed in the car with the dogs.  After trying to soothe everyone else, I sat there shaking and trying to think wise thoughts until morning, but it was definitely the longest night of my life.  I never shut my eyes and kept watching the spot where I knew the sun would come up. When it finally did, I was surprised to find myself full of joy at being alive, and singing every hymn of praise to God I ever learned, for granting me another day in which to live and work and love you.
 
Because the village of Humay is small (about 700 people in the center) they were able to organize themselves better than the cities of Chincha, Pisco, and Ica, into groups around a ‘common pot,’ who all cook together and sleep in a common area, such as the stadium or a certain field.  This makes the food supplies go further, provides a safety net and social support, and makes the delivery of relief services relatively easy.  Humay is also a ‘district’ made up of other small villages which have also organized themselves along similar lines.
 
After a day the problems that set in were lack of electricity which made the nights difficult, the cold, and the horrible decisions made by shop-owners who to refused to sell food, hoping to jack up prices later.  Also in some areas water pipes broke during the earthquake and people began getting their water from irrigations ditches.  Panic set in. 
 
The main road from Lima had opened up in places making deliveries from Lima in the north almost impossible, and when trucks did come, the people in Chincha and San Clemente, just above us, stopped them and stole everything from them if they could, so almost nothing got through to Humay and other little needy communities beyond..   The police were helpless against the organized thieves combined with the desperate populations who were stealing out of fear of starvation.  It was ghastly.
 
With the help of my best friend in Lima, Gustavo, I bought a truckload of rice, milk, beans, sugar, cereal. canned fish, crackers, and had it sent down.  The men who work in my fields met the truck en route before it got into trouble.  Some were in my own truck from the fields and some in my pickup truck.  Each man was armed with a stout long pole,  With the pickup truck in the lead and the bigger truck behind, they escorted the delivery truck to Humay, making it clear that anyone who tried to interfere with the delivery would have a lot of angry men and a lot of thick poles to contend with.  The truck got through and we were able to distribute food to 13 different ‘common pots.’  I have another truckload coming down Friday the 24th. 
 
Various international organizations are sending trucks down now, and more are getting through, so the panic is abating, although fruit and meat don’t exist..  I’m sad to say that no aid seems to be from the United States.  Two groups of angels have dropped from the sky into our village however.  The first are a group of volunteer firemen from Spain.  Their mission is actually to provide clean drinking water when needed and they have already installed a new water purification plant for 3,500 people here in Humay.  They have, in the two days they’ve been here, begun training 4 of our people in its maintenance.  They have also brought a doctor, and for once, medicines. (We often get doctors volunteers who see patients and cheerfully prescribe what’s needed to people who in a million years couldn’t afford the prescriptions).  They are donating 15 gorgeous tents the size of houses for the families I think are in the greatest need (for example, those with infants) and very likely will be sending help with engineers and money for some reconstruction.  Their patron saint is the wife of the president of Spain.  How we were lucky enough to attract them to Humay, I’ll never know.  All 16 of them are now staying at our house, cooking and laughing around the kitchen table, making all kinds of plans, and being a general delight.  They all just told me that they are arranging for yet another truckload of food to come down on Saturday.  Imagine!
 
The money that some of you were able to send to the Foundation will be going for many purposes, but the water project is a very important one.  This purified water needs to be delivered to people outside the very small area served by ancient pipes of Humay – only used by  about 150 or 200 families. We need to purchase about 15 expensive 1,500 litre elevated tanks for a great number of outlying other areas that make up greater Humay, and we need to buy  a little tank/truck with a pump in which we can deliver this water.  Almost every child here has intestinal parasites sapping his nutrition and lowering his intelligence.
 
We also need to begin to insist that every house have some sanitary facility.  Most of them here have nothing!  This is a very costly project.
   
The second group of angels is Doctors Without Borders.  They are a world wide organization, based in France.  Anywhere in the world where there is trouble, their first-class doctors travel to provide free medical service and medicine to whomever needs it.  They  have just arrived in Humay for a stay of a month or two.  I have been able to offer them two houses in our grape fields.  Not only will they be treating people, but we will be organizing a group of talks about preventive medicine, feminine health, child health, and many issues that never get treated here.  For instance, almost every woman has urinary tract infections which are completely preventable, as well as ‘female complaints.’  Babies regularly have raging fevers and diarrea.  Conversations about avoiding the most common ailments, and treating others will be absolutely invaluable.  The Foundation will be making available printed material as needed, as well as a locale for ongoing groups on these subjects and others.  Your donations will help me buy a quantity of the most needed medicines for those who cannot afford them – which is just about everyone.  I can buy just about any medicine here without a prescription.
 
I’ll need to buy incredible quantities of soap.  Hand soap, laundry soap.  And small tubs to stand in and wash yourself for people who don’t have houses any more.  And rolls and rolls of  vinyl sheeting to line the straw matting that everyone is using to construct temporary housing until regular housing can be rebuilt.  And so thank you, thank you, thank you, for everything from kind thoughts and caring to the money that makes it possible for me to stretch my own money and accomplish a lot for these little communities.
 
Good night for now.
 
Judy.
27130  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / An email from my mom on: August 23, 2007, 11:17:53 PM
September 23,2007
I am writing tonight to all the good friends and family who have called and emailed to find out how I am and who have helped during this crisis.  It is only an hour since my email got re-established and I have been longing to contact you, thank you, and give you news from the little village of Humay, which was just about at the epicenter of the earthquake.
 
We are 45 kilometers in from the coastal city of  Pisco, which is now 80 percent flattened, with so many people buried under its ruins that you need a mask to enter the city as the smell of the corpses is unbearable.  The part of the city on the ocean where I had my apartment for the first two years I was here was pretty well washed away.  The few people remaining in the city are all living on what remains of the sidewalks and streets with whatever belongings they have been able to drag out of the ruins.
 
The city of Chincha, about as far inland as Humay but about 45 kilometers north of us has more buildings standing if you look from the outside, but the insides are almost all completely in ruin, with buried inhabitants still waiting to be found..  The few houses that are habitable are subject to attack by gangs of roving bandits, as are the people sleeping in the streets. My right hand man lives in Chincha and is one of the few who has a solid house.  14 members of his family are huddled inside sleeping on the floor, while he spends the night on the roof with an assortment of arms and ammunition, shooting at the looters who try to enter.
 
In Humay hardly a house is intact.  Most are in ruins or unstable, and as in Chincha, people are afraid to sleep indoors even if the house looks sort of okay, because they are terrified that even a small aftershock (and we  have had both small and large aftershocks every day up to yesterday) will cause walls and adobes to fall down on them, so everyone is sleeping outdoors.  By a miracle, no one died in Humay, but everywhere the children and many adults are sick with horrible bronchitis, fevers, etc.  It’s down in the low forties at night, and drizzling.  Most people have managed some kind of overhead shelter, but that does not maintain health for any but the fittest…..
 
As for me:  I was in the living room with a gorgeous fire going and a good book, waiting for my dinner, when my cook came screaming out of the kitchen, the lights went out, and something fell down from the ceiling near the fireplace.  I could still see because of the light from the fireplace and because I have an emergency light plugged in the wall that goes on automatically if the electricity fails.  The cook was pulling at my arm and screaming hysterically and I thought something had happened to her in the kitchen.  She was howling about being saved and trying to get me to get up off the sofa and to the door to the lawn.  I absolutely couldn’t understand what she wanted, but to humor her I finally got  up.  The door wouldn’t open, and then things began falling on my head and the house was rocking and shaking wildly.  There is a huge window next to the door, and we smashed through the screen and pushed the window out while big adobes kept crashing down around and on us.  Finally we got out the window and away from the house and sat in the middle of the lawn where the cook’s terrified and howling children and her husband came to join us and the earth continued to act as if we were totally insignificant insects on her majestic surface.  Through the windows the fire continued to burn brilliantly in the fireplace.
 
 It really did seem possible that the earth would open and swallow us.  I kept trying to make light of it to the children and the cook, but even after the shaking stopped they were inconsolable.  I had the husband (my driver) bring the car around and got the children into it and we moved down the property away from the house.  I felt it was a good idea to use the lights from the car as it was a very black night.  Unfortunately the shadows on the ground kept appearing like cracks in the earth to the children and their hysterics were very hard to control.  Eventually things got quieter and I suggested that we all sleep in my car (a 7
2
passenger van) pointed at the gate so that if it became appropriate to leave we could do it rapidly.  They all refused and took blankets and slept outside – if you could call it sleeping.  I grabbed some blankets and stayed in the car with the dogs.  After trying to soothe everyone else, I sat there shaking and trying to think wise thoughts until morning, but it was definitely the longest night of my life.  I never shut my eyes and kept watching the spot where I knew the sun would come up. When it finally did, I was surprised to find myself full of joy at being alive, and singing every hymn of praise to God I ever learned, for granting me another day in which to live and work and love you.
 
Because the village of Humay is small (about 700 people in the center) they were able to organize themselves better than the cities of Chincha, Pisco, and Ica, into groups around a ‘common pot,’ who all cook together and sleep in a common area, such as the stadium or a certain field.  This makes the food supplies go further, provides a safety net and social support, and makes the delivery of relief services relatively easy.  Humay is also a ‘district’ made up of other small villages which have also organized themselves along similar lines.
 
After a day the problems that set in were lack of electricity which made the nights difficult, the cold, and the horrible decisions made by shop-owners who to refused to sell food, hoping to jack up prices later.  Also in some areas water pipes broke during the earthquake and people began getting their water from irrigations ditches.  Panic set in. 
 
The main road from Lima had opened up in places making deliveries from Lima in the north almost impossible, and when trucks did come, the people in Chincha and San Clemente, just above us, stopped them and stole everything from them if they could, so almost nothing got through to Humay and other little needy communities beyond..   The police were helpless against the organized thieves combined with the desperate populations who were stealing out of fear of starvation.  It was ghastly.
 
With the help of my best friend in Lima, Gustavo, I bought a truckload of rice, milk, beans, sugar, cereal. canned fish, crackers, and had it sent down.  The men who work in my fields met the truck en route before it got into trouble.  Some were in my own truck from the fields and some in my pickup truck.  Each man was armed with a stout long pole,  With the pickup truck in the lead and the bigger truck behind, they escorted the delivery truck to Humay, making it clear that anyone who tried to interfere with the delivery would have a lot of angry men and a lot of thick poles to contend with.  The truck got through and we were able to distribute food to 13 different ‘common pots.’  I have another truckload coming down Friday the 24th. 
 
Various international organizations are sending trucks down now, and more are getting through, so the panic is abating, although fruit and meat don’t exist..  I’m sad to say that no aid seems to be from the United States.  Two groups of angels have dropped from the sky into our village however.  The first are a group of volunteer firemen from Spain.  Their mission is actually to provide clean drinking water when needed and they have already installed a new water purification plant for 3,500 people here in Humay.  They have, in the two days they’ve been here, begun training 4 of our people in its maintenance.  They have also brought a doctor, and for once, medicines. (We often get doctors volunteers who see patients and cheerfully prescribe what’s needed to people who in a million years couldn’t afford the prescriptions).  They are donating 15 gorgeous tents the size of houses for the families I think are in the greatest need (for example, those with infants) and very likely will be sending help with engineers and money for some reconstruction.  Their patron saint is the wife of the president of Spain.  How we were lucky enough to attract them to Humay, I’ll never know.  All 16 of them are now staying at our house, cooking and laughing around the
3.
kitchen table, making all kinds of plans, and being a general delight.  They all just told me that they are arranging for yet another truckload of food to come down on Saturday.  Imagine!
 
The money that some of you were able to send to the Foundation will be going for many purposes, but the water project is a very important one.  This purified water needs to be delivered to people outside the very small area served by ancient pipes of Humay – only used by  about 150 or 200 families. We need to purchase about 15 expensive 1,500 litre elevated tanks for a great number of outlying other areas that make up greater Humay, and we need to buy  a little tank/truck with a pump in which we can deliver this water.  Almost every child here has intestinal parasites sapping his nutrition and lowering his intelligence.
 
We also need to begin to insist that every house have some sanitary facility.  Most of them here have nothing!  This is a very costly project.
   
The second group of angels is Doctors Without Borders.  They are a world wide organization, based in France.  Anywhere in the world where there is trouble, their first-class doctors travel to provide free medical service and medicine to whomever needs it.  They  have just arrived in Humay for a stay of a month or two.  I have been able to offer them two houses in our grape fields.  Not only will they be treating people, but we will be organizing a group of talks about preventive medicine, feminine health, child health, and many issues that never get treated here.  For instance, almost every woman has urinary tract infections which are completely preventable, as well as ‘female complaints.’  Babies regularly have raging fevers and diarrea.  Conversations about avoiding the most common ailments, and treating others will be absolutely invaluable.  The Foundation will be making available printed material as needed, as well as a locale for ongoing groups on these subjects and others.  Your donations will help me buy a quantity of the most needed medicines for those who cannot afford them – which is just about everyone.  I can buy just about any medicine here without a prescription.
 
I’ll need to buy incredible quantities of soap.  Hand soap, laundry soap.  And small tubs to stand in and wash yourself for people who don’t have houses any more.  And rolls and rolls of  vinyl sheeting to line the straw matting that everyone is using to construct temporary housing until regular housing can be rebuilt.  And so thank you, thank you, thank you, for everything from kind thoughts and caring to the money that makes it possible for me to stretch my own money and accomplish a lot for these little communities
 
Good night for now.
 
Judy.
27131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / An email from my mom on: August 23, 2007, 11:16:57 PM
September 23,2007
I am writing tonight to all the good friends and family who have called and emailed to find out how I am and who have helped during this crisis.  It is only an hour since my email got re-established and I have been longing to contact you, thank you, and give you news from the little village of Humay, which was just about at the epicenter of the earthquake.
 
We are 45 kilometers in from the coastal city of  Pisco, which is now 80 percent flattened, with so many people buried under its ruins that you need a mask to enter the city as the smell of the corpses is unbearable.  The part of the city on the ocean where I had my apartment for the first two years I was here was pretty well washed away.  The few people remaining in the city are all living on what remains of the sidewalks and streets with whatever belongings they have been able to drag out of the ruins.
 
The city of Chincha, about as far inland as Humay but about 45 kilometers north of us has more buildings standing if you look from the outside, but the insides are almost all completely in ruin, with buried inhabitants still waiting to be found..  The few houses that are habitable are subject to attack by gangs of roving bandits, as are the people sleeping in the streets. My right hand man lives in Chincha and is one of the few who has a solid house.  14 members of his family are huddled inside sleeping on the floor, while he spends the night on the roof with an assortment of arms and ammunition, shooting at the looters who try to enter.
 
In Humay hardly a house is intact.  Most are in ruins or unstable, and as in Chincha, people are afraid to sleep indoors even if the house looks sort of okay, because they are terrified that even a small aftershock (and we  have had both small and large aftershocks every day up to yesterday) will cause walls and adobes to fall down on them, so everyone is sleeping outdoors.  By a miracle, no one died in Humay, but everywhere the children and many adults are sick with horrible bronchitis, fevers, etc.  It’s down in the low forties at night, and drizzling.  Most people have managed some kind of overhead shelter, but that does not maintain health for any but the fittest…..
 
As for me:  I was in the living room with a gorgeous fire going and a good book, waiting for my dinner, when my cook came screaming out of the kitchen, the lights went out, and something fell down from the ceiling near the fireplace.  I could still see because of the light from the fireplace and because I have an emergency light plugged in the wall that goes on automatically if the electricity fails.  The cook was pulling at my arm and screaming hysterically and I thought something had happened to her in the kitchen.  She was howling about being saved and trying to get me to get up off the sofa and to the door to the lawn.  I absolutely couldn’t understand what she wanted, but to humor her I finally got  up.  The door wouldn’t open, and then things began falling on my head and the house was rocking and shaking wildly.  There is a huge window next to the door, and we smashed through the screen and pushed the window out while big adobes kept crashing down around and on us.  Finally we got out the window and away from the house and sat in the middle of the lawn where the cook’s terrified and howling children and her husband came to join us and the earth continued to act as if we were totally insignificant insects on her majestic surface.  Through the windows the fire continued to burn brilliantly in the fireplace.
 
 It really did seem possible that the earth would open and swallow us.  I kept trying to make light of it to the children and the cook, but even after the shaking stopped they were inconsolable.  I had the husband (my driver) bring the car around and got the children into it and we moved down the property away from the house.  I felt it was a good idea to use the lights from the car as it was a very black night.  Unfortunately the shadows on the ground kept appearing like cracks in the earth to the children and their hysterics were very hard to control.  Eventually things got quieter and I suggested that we all sleep in my car (a 7
2
passenger van) pointed at the gate so that if it became appropriate to leave we could do it rapidly.  They all refused and took blankets and slept outside – if you could call it sleeping.  I grabbed some blankets and stayed in the car with the dogs.  After trying to soothe everyone else, I sat there shaking and trying to think wise thoughts until morning, but it was definitely the longest night of my life.  I never shut my eyes and kept watching the spot where I knew the sun would come up. When it finally did, I was surprised to find myself full of joy at being alive, and singing every hymn of praise to God I ever learned, for granting me another day in which to live and work and love you.
 
Because the village of Humay is small (about 700 people in the center) they were able to organize themselves better than the cities of Chincha, Pisco, and Ica, into groups around a ‘common pot,’ who all cook together and sleep in a common area, such as the stadium or a certain field.  This makes the food supplies go further, provides a safety net and social support, and makes the delivery of relief services relatively easy.  Humay is also a ‘district’ made up of other small villages which have also organized themselves along similar lines.
 
After a day the problems that set in were lack of electricity which made the nights difficult, the cold, and the horrible decisions made by shop-owners who to refused to sell food, hoping to jack up prices later.  Also in some areas water pipes broke during the earthquake and people began getting their water from irrigations ditches.  Panic set in. 
 
The main road from Lima had opened up in places making deliveries from Lima in the north almost impossible, and when trucks did come, the people in Chincha and San Clemente, just above us, stopped them and stole everything from them if they could, so almost nothing got through to Humay and other little needy communities beyond..   The police were helpless against the organized thieves combined with the desperate populations who were stealing out of fear of starvation.  It was ghastly.
 
With the help of my best friend in Lima, Gustavo, I bought a truckload of rice, milk, beans, sugar, cereal. canned fish, crackers, and had it sent down.  The men who work in my fields met the truck en route before it got into trouble.  Some were in my own truck from the fields and some in my pickup truck.  Each man was armed with a stout long pole,  With the pickup truck in the lead and the bigger truck behind, they escorted the delivery truck to Humay, making it clear that anyone who tried to interfere with the delivery would have a lot of angry men and a lot of thick poles to contend with.  The truck got through and we were able to distribute food to 13 different ‘common pots.’  I have another truckload coming down Friday the 24th. 
 
Various international organizations are sending trucks down now, and more are getting through, so the panic is abating, although fruit and meat don’t exist..  I’m sad to say that no aid seems to be from the United States.  Two groups of angels have dropped from the sky into our village however.  The first are a group of volunteer firemen from Spain.  Their mission is actually to provide clean drinking water when needed and they have already installed a new water purification plant for 3,500 people here in Humay.  They have, in the two days they’ve been here, begun training 4 of our people in its maintenance.  They have also brought a doctor, and for once, medicines. (We often get doctors volunteers who see patients and cheerfully prescribe what’s needed to people who in a million years couldn’t afford the prescriptions).  They are donating 15 gorgeous tents the size of houses for the families I think are in the greatest need (for example, those with infants) and very likely will be sending help with engineers and money for some reconstruction.  Their patron saint is the wife of the president of Spain.  How we were lucky enough to attract them to Humay, I’ll never know.  All 16 of them are now staying at our house, cooking and laughing around the
3.
kitchen table, making all kinds of plans, and being a general delight.  They all just told me that they are arranging for yet another truckload of food to come down on Saturday.  Imagine!
 
The money that some of you were able to send to the Foundation will be going for many purposes, but the water project is a very important one.  This purified water needs to be delivered to people outside the very small area served by ancient pipes of Humay – only used by  about 150 or 200 families. We need to purchase about 15 expensive 1,500 litre elevated tanks for a great number of outlying other areas that make up greater Humay, and we need to buy  a little tank/truck with a pump in which we can deliver this water.  Almost every child here has intestinal parasites sapping his nutrition and lowering his intelligence.
 
We also need to begin to insist that every house have some sanitary facility.  Most of them here have nothing!  This is a very costly project.
   
The second group of angels is Doctors Without Borders.  They are a world wide organization, based in France.  Anywhere in the world where there is trouble, their first-class doctors travel to provide free medical service and medicine to whomever needs it.  They  have just arrived in Humay for a stay of a month or two.  I have been able to offer them two houses in our grape fields.  Not only will they be treating people, but we will be organizing a group of talks about preventive medicine, feminine health, child health, and many issues that never get treated here.  For instance, almost every woman has urinary tract infections which are completely preventable, as well as ‘female complaints.’  Babies regularly have raging fevers and diarrea.  Conversations about avoiding the most common ailments, and treating others will be absolutely invaluable.  The Foundation will be making available printed material as needed, as well as a locale for ongoing groups on these subjects and others.  Your donations will help me buy a quantity of the most needed medicines for those who cannot afford them – which is just about everyone.  I can buy just about any medicine here without a prescription.
 
I’ll need to buy incredible quantities of soap.  Hand soap, laundry soap.  And small tubs to stand in and wash yourself for people who don’t have houses any more.  And rolls and rolls of  vinyl sheeting to line the straw matting that everyone is using to construct temporary housing until regular housing can be rebuilt.  And so thank you, thank you, thank you, for everything from kind thoughts and caring to the money that makes it possible for me to stretch my own money and accomplish a lot for these little communities
 
Good night for now.
 
Judy.
27132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / An email from my mom on: August 23, 2007, 11:16:12 PM
September 23,2007
I am writing tonight to all the good friends and family who have called and emailed to find out how I am and who have helped during this crisis.  It is only an hour since my email got re-established and I have been longing to contact you, thank you, and give you news from the little village of Humay, which was just about at the epicenter of the earthquake.
 
We are 45 kilometers in from the coastal city of  Pisco, which is now 80 percent flattened, with so many people buried under its ruins that you need a mask to enter the city as the smell of the corpses is unbearable.  The part of the city on the ocean where I had my apartment for the first two years I was here was pretty well washed away.  The few people remaining in the city are all living on what remains of the sidewalks and streets with whatever belongings they have been able to drag out of the ruins.
 
The city of Chincha, about as far inland as Humay but about 45 kilometers north of us has more buildings standing if you look from the outside, but the insides are almost all completely in ruin, with buried inhabitants still waiting to be found..  The few houses that are habitable are subject to attack by gangs of roving bandits, as are the people sleeping in the streets. My right hand man lives in Chincha and is one of the few who has a solid house.  14 members of his family are huddled inside sleeping on the floor, while he spends the night on the roof with an assortment of arms and ammunition, shooting at the looters who try to enter.
 
In Humay hardly a house is intact.  Most are in ruins or unstable, and as in Chincha, people are afraid to sleep indoors even if the house looks sort of okay, because they are terrified that even a small aftershock (and we  have had both small and large aftershocks every day up to yesterday) will cause walls and adobes to fall down on them, so everyone is sleeping outdoors.  By a miracle, no one died in Humay, but everywhere the children and many adults are sick with horrible bronchitis, fevers, etc.  It’s down in the low forties at night, and drizzling.  Most people have managed some kind of overhead shelter, but that does not maintain health for any but the fittest…..
 
As for me:  I was in the living room with a gorgeous fire going and a good book, waiting for my dinner, when my cook came screaming out of the kitchen, the lights went out, and something fell down from the ceiling near the fireplace.  I could still see because of the light from the fireplace and because I have an emergency light plugged in the wall that goes on automatically if the electricity fails.  The cook was pulling at my arm and screaming hysterically and I thought something had happened to her in the kitchen.  She was howling about being saved and trying to get me to get up off the sofa and to the door to the lawn.  I absolutely couldn’t understand what she wanted, but to humor her I finally got  up.  The door wouldn’t open, and then things began falling on my head and the house was rocking and shaking wildly.  There is a huge window next to the door, and we smashed through the screen and pushed the window out while big adobes kept crashing down around and on us.  Finally we got out the window and away from the house and sat in the middle of the lawn where the cook’s terrified and howling children and her husband came to join us and the earth continued to act as if we were totally insignificant insects on her majestic surface.  Through the windows the fire continued to burn brilliantly in the fireplace.
 
 It really did seem possible that the earth would open and swallow us.  I kept trying to make light of it to the children and the cook, but even after the shaking stopped they were inconsolable.  I had the husband (my driver) bring the car around and got the children into it and we moved down the property away from the house.  I felt it was a good idea to use the lights from the car as it was a very black night.  Unfortunately the shadows on the ground kept appearing like cracks in the earth to the children and their hysterics were very hard to control.  Eventually things got quieter and I suggested that we all sleep in my car (a 7
2
passenger van) pointed at the gate so that if it became appropriate to leave we could do it rapidly.  They all refused and took blankets and slept outside – if you could call it sleeping.  I grabbed some blankets and stayed in the car with the dogs.  After trying to soothe everyone else, I sat there shaking and trying to think wise thoughts until morning, but it was definitely the longest night of my life.  I never shut my eyes and kept watching the spot where I knew the sun would come up. When it finally did, I was surprised to find myself full of joy at being alive, and singing every hymn of praise to God I ever learned, for granting me another day in which to live and work and love you.
 
Because the village of Humay is small (about 700 people in the center) they were able to organize themselves better than the cities of Chincha, Pisco, and Ica, into groups around a ‘common pot,’ who all cook together and sleep in a common area, such as the stadium or a certain field.  This makes the food supplies go further, provides a safety net and social support, and makes the delivery of relief services relatively easy.  Humay is also a ‘district’ made up of other small villages which have also organized themselves along similar lines.
 
After a day the problems that set in were lack of electricity which made the nights difficult, the cold, and the horrible decisions made by shop-owners who to refused to sell food, hoping to jack up prices later.  Also in some areas water pipes broke during the earthquake and people began getting their water from irrigations ditches.  Panic set in. 
 
The main road from Lima had opened up in places making deliveries from Lima in the north almost impossible, and when trucks did come, the people in Chincha and San Clemente, just above us, stopped them and stole everything from them if they could, so almost nothing got through to Humay and other little needy communities beyond..   The police were helpless against the organized thieves combined with the desperate populations who were stealing out of fear of starvation.  It was ghastly.
 
With the help of my best friend in Lima, Gustavo, I bought a truckload of rice, milk, beans, sugar, cereal. canned fish, crackers, and had it sent down.  The men who work in my fields met the truck en route before it got into trouble.  Some were in my own truck from the fields and some in my pickup truck.  Each man was armed with a stout long pole,  With the pickup truck in the lead and the bigger truck behind, they escorted the delivery truck to Humay, making it clear that anyone who tried to interfere with the delivery would have a lot of angry men and a lot of thick poles to contend with.  The truck got through and we were able to distribute food to 13 different ‘common pots.’  I have another truckload coming down Friday the 24th. 
 
Various international organizations are sending trucks down now, and more are getting through, so the panic is abating, although fruit and meat don’t exist..  I’m sad to say that no aid seems to be from the United States.  Two groups of angels have dropped from the sky into our village however.  The first are a group of volunteer firemen from Spain.  Their mission is actually to provide clean drinking water when needed and they have already installed a new water purification plant for 3,500 people here in Humay.  They have, in the two days they’ve been here, begun training 4 of our people in its maintenance.  They have also brought a doctor, and for once, medicines. (We often get doctors volunteers who see patients and cheerfully prescribe what’s needed to people who in a million years couldn’t afford the prescriptions).  They are donating 15 gorgeous tents the size of houses for the families I think are in the greatest need (for example, those with infants) and very likely will be sending help with engineers and money for some reconstruction.  Their patron saint is the wife of the president of Spain.  How we were lucky enough to attract them to Humay, I’ll never know.  All 16 of them are now staying at our house, cooking and laughing around the
3.
kitchen table, making all kinds of plans, and being a general delight.  They all just told me that they are arranging for yet another truckload of food to come down on Saturday.  Imagine!
 
The money that some of you were able to send to the Foundation will be going for many purposes, but the water project is a very important one.  This purified water needs to be delivered to people outside the very small area served by ancient pipes of Humay – only used by  about 150 or 200 families. We need to purchase about 15 expensive 1,500 litre elevated tanks for a great number of outlying other areas that make up greater Humay, and we need to buy  a little tank/truck with a pump in which we can deliver this water.  Almost every child here has intestinal parasites sapping his nutrition and lowering his intelligence.
 
We also need to begin to insist that every house have some sanitary facility.  Most of them here have nothing!  This is a very costly project.
   
The second group of angels is Doctors Without Borders.  They are a world wide organization, based in France.  Anywhere in the world where there is trouble, their first-class doctors travel to provide free medical service and medicine to whomever needs it.  They  have just arrived in Humay for a stay of a month or two.  I have been able to offer them two houses in our grape fields.  Not only will they be treating people, but we will be organizing a group of talks about preventive medicine, feminine health, child health, and many issues that never get treated here.  For instance, almost every woman has urinary tract infections which are completely preventable, as well as ‘female complaints.’  Babies regularly have raging fevers and diarrea.  Conversations about avoiding the most common ailments, and treating others will be absolutely invaluable.  The Foundation will be making available printed material as needed, as well as a locale for ongoing groups on these subjects and others.  Your donations will help me buy a quantity of the most needed medicines for those who cannot afford them – which is just about everyone.  I can buy just about any medicine here without a prescription.
 
I’ll need to buy incredible quantities of soap.  Hand soap, laundry soap.  And small tubs to stand in and wash yourself for people who don’t have houses any more.  And rolls and rolls of  vinyl sheeting to line the straw matting that everyone is using to construct temporary housing until regular housing can be rebuilt.  And so thank you, thank you, thank you, for everything from kind thoughts and caring to the money that makes it possible for me to stretch my own money and accomplish a lot for these little communities
 
Good night for now.
 
Judy.
27133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: August 23, 2007, 09:51:50 PM
As far as I know, Warner is a relatively responsible and informed man, but unless this is some part of a polyrhythmic dance, the score of which we are unknowing, I have a visceral discomfort with the idea of the Commander in Chief being 535 Congressmen and Senators. 

Also, as superficially appealing as this "put pressure on Malicki" argument may seem to be:
1) It often seems to be put forth by people whose true intention is for us to declare defeat and leave
2) It does not take into account what I believe to be the true direction of causality:  Polticians do not lead, they follow.  The reality on the ground will determine their behavior, and the reality on the ground will be described to us by General Petraeus in September.  As best as I can tell, and this forum attests to my intense interest in all this I think, we can and are starting to make good things happen-- on the ground up, where our fellow Americans who have stepped forward, day by day show the Truth of what we are about and what we are up to.

In conclusion, my general attitude is that Congress, as it should have but has not done since it unanimously affirmed Petraeus, should STFU!!!
27134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: August 23, 2007, 09:30:23 PM
Well no argument from me if you are saying that Arafat, may he rot in hell, was a lying, murdering, scum bag.  And no argument from me if you say that the US should never have supported him-- but this belongs in a different thread. smiley
27135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Chinese anti-satellite technology on: August 23, 2007, 09:23:28 PM
http://www.military.com/forums/0,15240,145944,00.html?ESRC=dod.nl

Chinese Missiles Could Target U.S. Satellites
Popular Mechanics | Carl Hoffman | August 15, 2007
       At 5:28 PM EST on Jan. 11, 2007, a satellite arced over southern China. It was small -- just 6 ft. long -- a tiny object in the heavens, steadily bleeping its location to ground stations below, just as it had every day for the past seven years. And then it was gone, transformed into a cloud of debris hurtling at nearly 16,000 mph along the main thoroughfare used by orbiting spacecraft.

It was not the start of the world's first war in space, but it could have been. It was just a test: The satellite was a defunct Chinese weather spacecraft. And the country that destroyed it was China. According to reports, a mobile launcher at the Songlin test facility near Xichang, in Sichuan province, lofted a multistage solid-fuel missile topped with a kinetic kill vehicle. Traveling nearly 18,000 mph, the kill vehicle intercepted the sat and -- boom -- obliterated it. "It was almost just a dead-reckoning flight with little control over the intercept path," says Phillip S. Clark, an independent British authority who has written widely on the Chinese and Russian space programs.

For China, a nation that has already sent humans into space and developed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the technology involved in the test was hardly remarkable. But as a demonstration of a rising military posture, it was a surprisingly aggressive act, especially since China has long pushed for an international treaty banning space weapons. "The move was a dangerous step toward the abyss of weaponizing space," says Theresa Hitchens, director of the Center for Defense Information, an independent defense research group in Washington, D.C. "China held the moral high ground about space, and that test re-energized the China hawks in Congress. If we're not careful, space could become the new Wild West. You don't just go and blow things up there." In fact, after the Chinese test, India publicly stepped up its development of anti­satellite technology. And some Israeli officials have argued that, given China's record of selling missile technology to Iran, Israel should develop its own program.

International Threat

For many countries, the most disturbing aspect of the test was not the potentially destabilizing sat kill, but the resulting debris, which poses a serious threat to every satellite in orbit, as well as to the International Space Station. "Space debris is a huge problem," says Laura Grego, staff scientist in the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "A 1-centimeter object is very hard to track but can do considerable damage if it collides with any spacecraft at a high rate of speed." Think of a shotgun pellet traveling at 10 times the speed of a bullet, smashing into a device built to be as light as possible. And then consider that China's antisatellite (ASAT) test produced as many as 35,000 of these pellets, or pieces of debris, in the 1-cm range. Nearly 1500 pieces were 10 cm and larger.

Although the United States knew that China was planning to test ASAT technology, administration officials -- reluctant to disclose the level of U.S. surveillance -- chose to say nothing. China failed two or three times before successfully launching the missile in January. All the attempts were observed by the U.S. Air Force satellite system known as the Defense Support Program. Infrared telescopes on these 33-ft.-high defense satellites can spot the plumes from rockets launched anywhere on Earth.

America's Own Sat Kills

Every industrialized country relies on satellites every day, for everything from computer networking technology to telecommunications, navigation, weather prediction, television and radio. This makes satellites especially vulnerable targets. Imagine the U.S. military suddenly without guidance for its soldiers and weapons systems, and its civilians without storm warnings or telephones.

Some satellites, however, are at greater risk than others. Most spacecraft -- including spy sats -- are in low Earth orbit, which stretches 1240 miles into space. As the Chinese test proved, such targets could be hit with medium-range missiles tipped with crude kill devices. GPS satellites are far higher, orbiting at about 12,600 miles. Many communications sats are in the 22,000-mile range. Destroying them requires a much more powerful and sophisticated long-range ballistic missile -- yet it can be done. "You'd need a sky-sweeping capability to comprehensively negate a space support system that is scattered all over," says John Pike, a space analyst at GlobalSecurity.org. "You'd need ICBM-size boosters -- hundreds of them."

Such an all-out satellite war would render space useless for decades to come. "There'd be so much debris up there," Clark says, "that it wouldn't be safe to put anything up in space."

The United States and Russia, the two countries with proven ASAT capabilities, have long steered clear of satellites as military targets. Even during the Cold War spy sats were hands-off; the consequences of destroying them were greater than those of unwelcome surveillance. "The consensus," Clark says, "was that anybody could look at anybody else."


Nevertheless, the U.S. military has spent decades designing weapons capable of killing other countries' satellites. The crudest American ASAT test, code-named Starfish Prime, took place in 1962, when the U.S. Air Force detonated a 1.4-megaton nuclear weapon at an altitude of 250 miles. The explosion, which occurred about 800 miles west of Hawaii, disabled at least six U.S. and foreign satellites -- roughly a third of the world's low Earth orbit total. The resulting electromagnetic pulse knocked out 300 streetlights in Oahu. Clearly, nukes worked as ASAT weapons, but far too indiscriminately.

To develop a more surgical capability, the Air Force launched Project Mudflap, which was designed to destroy individual Soviet satellites with missiles. But inaccurate space-guidance systems plagued early tests. Then, on May 23, 1963, the Air Force pulled off a successful intercept with a modified Nike-Zeus ballistic missile launched from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. It took out a rendezvous and docking target for NASA's Gemini missions at an altitude of 150 miles.

Over the next several decades the Air Force graduated to more sophisticated air-launched missiles that could hit targets with far better accuracy. In 1985 the United States destroyed an American solar observation satellite using a three-stage, heat-seeking miniature vehicle fired from an F-15 fighter jet. That test, like the Chinese one earlier this year, used a kinetic kill vehicle that spewed debris into space. Funding for the program was cancelled before the air-launched system could be perfected.

That same year, at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the Air Force began operating the powerful Mid-Infrared Chemical Laser. In 1997, it was used to temporarily blind sensors on an Air Force missile-launch and tracking satellite. The sat remained intact; no debris was created. And no laser tests have been conducted since. However, the current federal budget includes funding for a laser to be fired at a low Earth orbit sat from the Starfire Optical Range at Kirtland Air Force Base, in New Mexico, later this year.

Some $400 million has been spent in recent years to develop another sophisticated kill vehicle -- a three-stage missile that smacks an enemy's craft with a sheet of Mylar plastic, disabling it without producing any debris. It has yet to be fully tested, and would only work on satellites in low Earth orbit; communication and GPS sats are too high.

Destroying an adversary's satellites has far-reaching implications. Do you take out only military sats or so-called civilian ones, too? Nearly every satellite has dual uses: A civilian weather satellite used for tracking hurricanes also could watch military movements. Many satellites are used by multiple nations. And once a nation disables an adversary's satellites, it puts its own in peril. As Charles Vick, a senior analyst at Global­Security says, "It's an act of war."


Sending A Message

So why did China risk provoking international hostility? The country's government has been opaque. "The experiment is not targeted at any other country," said a foreign ministry spokeswoman in Beijing.

Some experts think at least part of China's motivation lies in an unclassified 2006 U.S. report on the future of military activities in space. The document reaffirms that "The United States considers space capabilities ... vital to its national interests. Consistent with this policy, the United States will: preserve its rights, capabilities, and freedom of action in space; dissuade or deter others from either impeding those rights or developing capabilities intended to do so ... and deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to U.S. national interests."

The United States "basically said it has the right to restrict the use of space to only its allies," Clark says. Adds Jeffrey G. Lewis, an arms control expert at the New America Foundation: "Much of the world was appalled at the tone of the policy. One British newspaper columnist basically said it made space the 51st state."

In that context, some experts say, the Chinese test was an effort to force the issue, to show the United States the potential consequences of refusing to negotiate a favorable treaty on the military use of space. "The U.S. was restricting all these arms treaties," says Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow in security studies at the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C., think tank. "For the Chinese, [the test] was an effort to deal from a position of strength."

Pike believes China may have another rationale for flexing its space muscle: Taiwan. China has long yearned to reabsorb the breakaway island state, which the United States has pledged to defend. In the short term, Pike says, China has only two strategies that could lead to a Taiwan takeover. It could bluff the U.S. in a nuclear confrontation, or it could try something altogether different: Fire medium-range missiles from mobile launchers, just as it did in the January test, and take out America's low-flying imaging satellites. Doing so might blind U.S. military planners long enough for Chinese military forces to gain a foothold on the island.

"The Chinese stage these big amphibious exercises off Taiwan all the time. One day, maybe it'll be real," Pike says. "Either the U.S. will get there quickly enough to stop them or the Chinese will win the race and there won't be the American political resolve to kick them out. All the Chinese would need is time." A half-dozen sats, Pike says -- that's all it would take. "Those satellites are low-hanging fruit. It's a no-brainer."

In that scenario, the ASAT test was not really about China showing the United States its capability. It was about China confirming that its own war plan is feasible.


America's Trump Card

The long-term ramifications of the test will take years to play out, but, for now, few observers think China scored any gains. "It was a mistake," O'Hanlon says. It fueled American hard-liners who want to restrict American technological cooperation with China. And, "It doesn't help China's case saying it isn't a threatening military power," Vick says. "It is a threat, and the test showed that." Whether the United States suddenly accelerates its ASAT capability beyond the testing phase remains to be seen. The country is in the midst of a war; budgets are already tight. Russia is not perceived as a threat and China has only 60 satellites -- few of these are worth shooting down.

America's most robust ASAT weapons were not designed for destroying satellites at all -- they are missiles developed and operated by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), formerly known as the Strategic Defense Initiative. All U.S. ballistic missiles are actually dual-use, and while their ability to shoot down incoming rockets has been proven only in tests, it would be easy to direct them against any low Earth orbit satellite. Twenty-four MDA missiles are operational in Alaska and California, far more than would be needed, Pike says, to handle any immediate ASAT needs. There is, he says, "just nothing to shoot at."

For now, that is. The militarization of space has long been debated. With one blown-up old weather satellite, China has made the prospect of a new arms race far more likely. It showed the world that it is willing to go toe-to-toe up in the final frontier.



27136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Technology (nano, 3D, robots, etc) on: August 23, 2007, 08:39:51 PM
All:

Some of us here may remember our introduction to Nanotechnology via the Gilder Technology Report.  I don't know if Stratfor is going too far afield from its expertise with this piece, but the subject is fascinating, complex, and important-- and so I open this thread.

TAC!
Marc
==========

Nanotechnology and the Regulation of New Technologies
Researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Aug. 16 released a study stating that the production of carbon nanotubes gives rise to the creation of a slew of dangerous chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, including some that are toxic.

Discussion of a new regulatory regime for nanotechnology has been ongoing among think tanks, advocacy groups and industry for years, and findings that suggest the sector could generate public health risks will add to the growing pressure on regulators or legislators to decide how to regulate it.

The debate over the regulation of nanotechnology has taken place on two levels. The first is over the public health risks nanotechnology poses and ways to determine and measure those risks. This is mainly the familiar risk-assessment process applied to the products of a technology that acts slightly differently than previous technologies do.

At the center of a second debate over public policies governing nanotechnology is an older, more contentious issue: the politicization of science and technology. At issue is the point at which government is justified in stepping into the realm of science to stop or slow scientific research, regardless of whether harm has been done. This concern lay at the center of the early debate over biotechnology, and also played a role in the debate over federal funding of stem cells and bans on human cloning.

A number of efforts are currently under way to determine the answers to the first question. The most impressive of these efforts are occurring in a number of partnerships between corporations and advocacy groups or think tanks. By contrast, the debate over the second question is largely being ignored. Where it is taking place, the discussion is occurring by implication.

What ultimately happens with the risk-centered regulatory debate will impact this larger philosophical debate, and will be crucial to the rules governing the coming wave of new technologies. This new wave will include even more controversial issues, including human cloning and synthetic forms of life. These issues will challenge the public to accommodate technological progress in their world views.

Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology was defined by one of its founders, Nobel Prize winner Rick Smalley, as "the art and the science of building stuff that does stuff on a nanometer scale." Essentially, nanotechnology is the manipulation of atoms and small molecules at a level that is slightly different from chemistry. While nanoparticles generally behave like traditional chemicals do, in some cases they can be very different. In these slight differences lies the technology's promise -- namely, what is possible through chemistry has been studied for centuries, while nanotechnology mostly remains an open field. Still, as one observer has put it, to say that we should regulate nanotechnology is the equivalent of saying we should regulate a hammer -- nanotechnology is a tool, and its creations will emerge as the subject of regulatory debate.

Nanotechnology is currently used in commercial applications, most famously sunscreens and stain-resistant pants. The next five years will see a boom in the use of nanotechnology in applications ranging from greatly improved batteries to stronger, lighter materials to improved military weapons. At the base of nanotechnology are some prevalent building blocks, most importantly carbon nanotubes, fullerenes and buckminsterfullerenes or "buckyballs." (Fullerenes and buckyballs were named after Buckminster Fuller, considered the godfather of nanotechnology, because their shape is similar to his geodesic dome.)

The major players in nanotechnology include all of the large research-based chemistry companies, including DuPont, Dow Chemical Co., Corning Inc., General Electric Co. and a number of smaller research companies that cluster around universities in the Northeastern United States. The way these companies currently use nanotechnology has given rise to the first set of regulatory concerns surrounding nanotech. The questions raised by this use will be answered by rules regarding what these manufacturers must guard against in production, use and disposal of nanotechnologies. In June, DuPont and the environmental group Environmental Defense provided a preview of the likely framework for nanotechnology regulation.

Most of the larger corporate players view nanotechnology as an important addition to a new generation of chemistry and to biotechnology. It is in the combination of chemistry, biotechnology, electronics and nanotechnology -- specifically the combining of nanoscale devices with specially engineered living organisms -- that a real revolution in materials, devices and medicine lies. It is also here that the controversy surrounding nanotechnology is strongest, as it raises questions about the foreseeablity of risks and the desirability of certain technological advances.

When to Regulate?

Modern chemistry is regulated in industrialized countries by a process known as risk assessment, which is a complex scientific assessment that determines whether the potential risks posed to health and the environment of a certain chemical outweighs its value in commerce. In the United States, chemicals are regulated by the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). In Europe, they are regulated by a new process known as the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH).

As the framework created by Environmental Defense and DuPont shows, nanotechnology probably can piggyback on chemical regulation, but it will require a slightly different set of standards than chemical regulations do. Important differences include measuring exposure and dose-response relationships. For example, Andrew Maynard of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars points out that for some nanoscale materials, such as titanium dioxide, toxicity is based on the surface area to which sensitive tissue -- lung tissue in the case of titanium dioxide -- is exposed, rather than simply the mass of the material. The dose still makes the poison, but the dose needs to be measured differently than in traditional chemistry. In addition, the current regulatory framework needs additional tools to anticipate harm, a controversial but largely successful element of chemical regulation far more difficult to apply in the new field of nanotechnology.

These regulatory questions have come at an interesting point. The European Union is only now beginning to implement REACH, and its coming into force has triggered changes in the marketplace and accelerated efforts to change U.S. chemical regulation. For some in the United States, the imminent commercial boom in nanotechnology calls for the widening of TSCA to cover nanotechnology.

Many see REACH as more protective of public health and the environment than TSCA. As such, there is a growing movement in the United States for the adoption of REACH-like chemical regulations. For those calling for a complete reassessment of TSCA, the revolution in nanotechnology has come at the right time. They argue that TSCA cannot cope with the challenges of nanotechnology, so therefore the law should be revamped to prepare for the next wave of technology. A number of states are currently considering their own REACH-like laws, and the "opening" of TSCA (Capitol Hill-speak for rewriting the law) seems increasingly likely in the coming years.

Politics and Technology

Ultimately, REACH and REACH-like laws deal only with the risks posed by the substance. They do not address the moral or social questions relating to whether society wants certain technologies to advance, or even whether the government has a right to stop the development of new technologies.

In the Western conception -- strongest in the United States -- individuals, groups and companies are allowed to do whatever they want until or unless that activity is proven harmful to others. Attendant social, cultural or economic changes have seldom been allowed to stand as a reason not to allow a technology. The classic example is the fate of the buggy whip manufacturer of the early 20th century driven out of business by the advent of the automobile. The manufacturers certainly experienced economic losses, but this cost was accepted as the price of technological advance. Similarly, the manufacturers of black-and-white televisions, vacuum tube amplifiers and film all have seen their businesses decimated by technological advances.

Still, the introduction of biotechnology to Europe sparked a protectionist reaction. The food that has been served to millions of Americans daily without incident was made, and largely remains, illegal for European consumers. Europeans have justified their bans on biotechnology using various scientific and ecological arguments, but with a few exceptions, their assertions are considered scientifically tenuous. This is not to say justifiable reasons for Europe to ban genetically modified organisms (GMOs) do not exist, just that the reasons the European Union has given for bolstering their laws are flimsy by almost any scientific account.

Instead, Europe approached biotechnology by banning products on social and cultural grounds. To do this, they appealed to the precautionary principle, which more or less states that in the presence of fear but the absence of hard data, a product should be proven not to be harmful before being allowed on the market. With the act of proving a negative still being impossible, when the principle is used in a regulatory context, it becomes a tool to ban a product or activity without proof that the thing is actually dangerous -- a clear reversal of the traditional process of letting people and companies do what they want to do as long as it harms no one.

The European Union saw biotechnology as bringing change to the economics of farming, reducing the margins for farmers, encouraging larger, corporate-owned farms and placing multinational seed companies that double as chemical companies in a powerful position on the farm. Such a shift was unacceptable to many EU countries, especially France. Making matters worse, the biotechnology companies argued that their products were materially no different than traditional products and should not be labeled as being different in any way. To Europeans (and also to the Japanese), bringing technology to food is suspicious to begin with. And saying it should not be labeled is akin to demanding the ability to foist a technology in a very personal place -- food -- on a helpless public. The EU bans on GMOs came for these reasons.

Products and Morality

World Trade Organization (WTO) rules contain prohibitions against the use of safety or health regulations as barriers to free trade. Under WTO rules, to avoid claims that product bans or prohibitions are protectionist, countries' regulations (or those of groupings like the EU) must reflect the standards set by the International Organization for Standardization (for products) or Codex Alimentarius (for food). Stricter standards can be judged to be trade barriers rather than legitimate protective regulations. While fighting in venues like WTO and Codex on behalf of the precautionary principle -- arguing that it is only sane to look before you leap and better to be safe than sorry -- the European Union has been forced to develop scientific arguments that meet the WTO's requirements. These have failed generally, and the union is under sanction for these regulations.

Nanotechnology (along with the coming combination of nanotech with other new technologies) has the potential to bring the precautionary principle back in a new, more coherent form. This would be marked by the public, regulators and legislators arguing over whether advances in science and technology should be political, rather than scientific.

American business expresses exasperation at the European Union's use of the precautionary principle, the bans on GMOs, hormone-fed beef and certain other products, and other such issues. At the same time, the United States has a number of regulations and policies applying the brakes to technology that do not solely rely on risk assessment and the assertion that the individual or corporate behavior is risky to others. The ban on human cloning and the federal government's decision not to fund stem cell research are examples of U.S. government decisions that certain technology is not desirable, regardless of the long-term potential benefit to society and assertions that by law these practices do no harm and therefore should be legal.

Nanotechnology in most applications does not rise to the level of controversy associated with human cloning or even stem cell research, but in some envisioned applications it does raise serious moral questions, especially when tied to emerging biotechnologies. Among the most intriguing of these is the development of synthetic life. A recent patent application was submitted for an organism composed of cells whose genetic makeup has been limited only to the genes necessary to maintain life. These synthetic organisms, combined with nanotechnologies that can provide structure and even potentially movement, create essentially programmable living things. The applications for medicine, remediation and manufacturing are legion. The moral questions to some are just as vast. In an attempt to raise concerns, one activist group has nicknamed the patented synthetic organism "Synthia."

Stopping Synthia's creation could prove difficult. Its creation, life and disposal will not hurt anyone. Like Dolly and the dozens of cloned animals that came after, it is not human. Those who want to stop Synthia's creators can argue they do not want this technology to advance, but in the strictest regulatory sense, what is happening is legal. Still, there probably will be potent debates in Washington, Brussels and other capitals over the limits society wants placed on biotechnology and nanotechnology, and politics will be playing a role in the future of technology. The question facing nanotechnology's champions -- both in the short term and in the long term -- will be whether they want to press this to a crisis and force regulators to draw a line defining where politics does and does not have a place in technology, or whether they want to stay clear of that line for as long as possible.



27137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: August 23, 2007, 08:25:42 PM
Very funny GM.

Buz:  Ditto!

Tom:

1) Concerning money to the Palestinians before and not now:  Before the govt. was the PLO, which signed the Oslo Accords.  The Hamas is a terrorist organization which rejects the Oslo Accords, so when it was elected, the flow of money was cut off.  Pretty simple actually.  Many criticized Bush for foolishly encouraging democracy and pointed to Hamas's election, whereas I found its election to pierce the veil of the illusion that the Palestinian's wanted peace with Israel and allowed us to shut off the money flow.

2)  May I suggest if you want to do a devil's advocate bit again that you state in advance that you are playing devil's advocate?

TAC,
CD
27138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: August 23, 2007, 08:04:32 PM
http://www.military.com/NewsContent/...146880,00.html

An Iraqi man saved the lives of four U.S. Soldiers and eight civilians when he intercepted a suicide bomber during a Concerned Citizens meeting in the town of al-Arafia Aug. 18.

The incident occurred while Soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, were talking with members of the al-Arafia Concerned Citizens, a volunteer community group, at a member’s house.

"I was about 12 feet away when the bomber came around the corner," said Staff Sgt. Sean Kane, of Los Altos, Calif., acting platoon sergeant of Troop B, 3-1 Cav. "I was about to engage when he jumped in front of us and intercepted the bomber as he ran toward us. As he pushed him away, the bomb went off."

The citizen’s actions saved the lives of four U.S. Soldiers and eight civilians.

Kane felt the loss personally because he had met and interacted with his rescuer many times before the incident.

"He was high-spirited and really believed what the group (Concerned Citizens) was doing," Kane said. "I have no doubt the bomber was trying to kill American Soldiers. It was very calculated the way the bomber tried to do it. If he hadn’t intercepted him, there is no telling how bad it could have been."

Kane believes the citizen is a hero.

"He could have run behind us or away from us, but he made the decision to sacrifice himself to protect everyone. Having talked with his father, I was told that even if he would have known the outcome before hand, he wouldn’t have acted differently."

Capt. Brian Gilbert, of Boise, Idaho, the commander of Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, currently attached to 3-1 Cavalry, echoed Kane’s sentiment.

"I spoke with the father," Gilbert said. "He said he has no remorse in his son’s death because he died saving American Soldiers."

Later that night, the Concerned Citizens group contacted the local National Police director, Lt. Col. Samir, with the location of the al-Qaeda cell believed to be responsible for the attack. The National Police immediately conducted a raid that resulted in four arrests.

Despite the citizen’s death, Gilbert is encouraged by the cooperation between citizens and the Iraqi National Police.

"The effort of the Concerned Citizens group has made the area much safer," he said. "They are proud of who they are and their area, and want to get rid of the terrorists in their area."

Gilbert also praised the Iraqi National Police’s role in eliminating insurgents in the area.

"The cooperation between them and the Concerned Citizens has been key," Gilbert said. "The NP has done a great job of responding to the tips they have been given by the group."

Gilbert said he believes the area is improving because of the efforts of local citizens. The death, while unfortunate, demonstrated how close many in the area have become with the American Soldiers operating there.

"I consider many in the town friends, and I know they feel the same," Gilbert said. "This is a tough situation, but we’ll move on and try to prevent things like this from happening again. I’ve talked with his family and told them how brave their son was. This is a huge loss for everyone involved."
27139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: August 23, 2007, 04:50:22 PM
Tom:

Speaking for myself, I have seen various reports by CA wherein in my opinion she left out pertinent facts so as to skew what the viewer would take away from the piece.  I rarely watch CNN (e.g. when trapped into it while down in Peru) and no I can't quote the specific piece or subject, but I do know that I filed her under the heading of "misleading, probably deliberately so"-- not exactly solid proof I know, but OTOH I don't find her worth my time to accumulate the evidence and make the case.

TAC,
Marc

PS:  Buz, Tom: A gentle tug on the leash to keep the tenor of the conversation in tune with the harmonics of the "friends at the end of the day" code around here please.
27140  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: September 2007 Euro Gathering on: August 23, 2007, 04:35:47 PM
Bern, Switzerland.
27141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: August 23, 2007, 10:52:01 AM

http://michaelyon-online.com/wp/the-ghosts-of-anbar-part-1-of-4.htm
27142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: August 23, 2007, 09:50:56 AM
This woman has been getting a lot of press over her most recent deportation.  Here she is back in Mexico.  The "logic" is quite special.  angry  http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=d69_1187877604&p=1  Oy vey!  rolleyes
27143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: August 23, 2007, 08:53:42 AM
Mig:

Interesting piece on the French and nuke power, thanks for rounding things out.

All:

I have a strong bias towards pricing mechanisms as a policy tool for pollution.  This piece from the WSJ addresses two possible variations.

Marc
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A Carbon Tax Would Be Cleaner
By NICOLE GELINAS
August 23, 2007; Page A11

Though skeptics may still grumble that the science isn't settled, some 84% of Americans think humans are contributing to climate change, with 78% (and 60% of Republicans) saying we should do something about it "right away," according to a recent poll.

 
The political answer to all this anxiety has arrived. Prominent politicians -- including first-tier Democratic and Republican candidates -- are embracing a national "cap and trade" program to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. Powerful corporate leaders are right behind them; and even the Bush administration, led by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, is reportedly considering the costs and benefits of various cap and trade proposals after years of opposition.

The mechanics of such regulation are complex, but one result is certain: It will exact a toll on our economy.

Cap and trade enjoys support from many free marketers and moderate politicians because it seems, at first glance, market-friendly. If the perceived problem is power plants and factories heating up the planet by spewing too much carbon dioxide and other such gases into the air, why not impose a cost on them for those emissions?

But before one accepts such reasoning and rejects alternatives, such as perhaps a carbon-emissions tax, it's important to look under the hood. Here's how a cap and trade system would likely work, assuming that the feds start with electricity generation and heavy industry, two energy-hungry sectors of the economy:

To avoid shock, the government sets a generous cap in the program's first year. It asks every factory and power plant how many tons of greenhouse gases it released into the atmosphere during the previous year, and then makes the cumulative total -- say four billion tons -- the initial cap. Each plant or factory can emit the same tonnage as in the previous year.

Since the government wants to cut these emissions by as much as half over the next half-century, however, the feds reduce the cap by, say, 5% overall to 3.8 billion tons in five years; and each company's cap will decline by the same proportion. After another five years, the government will cut the cap again, and so on. Because the companies know that the cap will keep tightening, the theory goes, they'll make their operations more energy-efficient.

But what if a factory can't reduce emissions? Maybe it was efficient already, and its orders are up. That's where the "trade" part of cap and trade comes in.

Suppose that a power plant elsewhere does have room to cut waste by replacing its 30-year-old generator with a cleaner model. Now that the plant can produce the same power with fewer emissions, it has extra greenhouse-gas permits and can -- under the new regime -- sell them to the humming factory, which needs to push past its own limit.

What happens if all the firms can't cut emissions enough to stay below the cap? That's where the system goes global. A Chinese factory coughs up 10 million tons of greenhouse gases each year, but an upgrade would cut emissions to eight million. The Chinese plant can sell those two million tons' worth of emissions "savings" to American firms for cash -- and use the money to pay for the upgrade.

Lawmakers have introduced nearly a half-dozen bills this year to create a version of the above scenario, including a bill sponsored by Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Arlen Specter, and another bill sponsored by Sens. John McCain, Barack Obama and Joe Lieberman. Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Rudy Giuliani have expressed interest.

Some of the nation's largest electricity generators support a national program, including American Electric power, North Carolina's Duke Energy, and Pacific Gas and Electric. They figure the faster they sign on, the more opportunities they'll have to shape it.

As in Europe's two-and-a-half-year-old cap and trade system, American power-company executives would like a generous initial cap and want to pass on to customers the cost of upgrading their equipment and of buying emissions allowances on the market. Financial firms also favor a national program, anticipating the opportunity to trade a new asset class worth $50 billion to $300 billion annually, depending on economists' estimates of the eventual price-per-ton of carbon. And companies ranging from start-ups to GE recognize the profit potential of emissions-credits projects in developing countries.

Executives and politicians certainly prefer a cap-and-trade program to a carbon tax: With a tax, power companies and industrial energy consumers fear that they would suddenly face a huge, non-negotiable cost to doing business. Under cap and trade, at least a plant operator unable to spend tens of millions to upgrade his plant might buy carbon credits from a company that can slash emission more readily.

As for the politicians, a cap-and-trade program is a no-brainer. Most people don't understand how it would work, or the costs it would impose on them or their standard of living. And it doesn't carry the same electoral risk as suggesting a new tax.

But the reality is that any program strict enough to cut emissions growth -- never mind slashing emissions! -- will raise power prices in America. In fact, hiking power prices is the point of cap and trade. Because burning coal -- the cheapest way to make power -- creates so much carbon, coal-fired power plants would have to pay far more than cleaner competitors to continue business as usual as the government tightened the cap.

The Energy Information Administration estimates cutting expected emissions growth by half by 2030 would mean a real price of electricity higher than it would otherwise be by 4%-6% in 2020 and by 11%-13% in 2030. Power companies would spend money both upgrading power plants and buying the emissions credits they'd need if they choose not to upgrade.

Carbon cap and trade has pushed wholesale power prices in Europe up 5%-10% just since 2005, says Phil Hare, director of U.K.-based Pöyry Energy Consulting. If Europe lowers its initially generous cap enough to encourage companies to switch permanently from coal to gas power plants, prices there could rise 20%-40% over a decade or so.

Power prices under cap and trade would depend on political decisions. The first is how generous the government would be with its total carbon cap. Another involves determining which emissions-reduction projects in the developing world investors could fund to get carbon credits.

Europe has allowed the United Nations to make some of those decisions. The U.N. carbon-credits program has already proven wildly inefficient.

In an article in February's Nature, Stanford University's Michael Wara noted that the U.N. initiative is spending billions in Western carbon-credits money to do work that should cost much less. Upgrading refrigerant plants, a popular way of winning carbon credits to sell in the European market, is so cheap and easy that many Third World firms were doing it voluntarily until the cap-and-trade West started paying them to do it. Now there's evidence that some firms may be purposely increasing emissions so they can win Western money to decrease them.

Back in the U.S., the Energy Information Administration assumes that power producers in the U.S. would respond to the new cost of carbon by switching from coal to cleaner technologies. It predicts that the nation's power generators would boost nuclear generation by 50% over the next 23 years -- five times the growth expected without a cap -- and increase natural gas-fired power generation 20% above the expected level.

This scenario, however, requires politicians to let American power companies build new nuclear plants and natural-gas import terminals to feed new natural gas plants. Both of these measures politicians, often heeding not- in-my-backyard concerns, regularly oppose on a bipartisan basis.

If America caps emissions and encourages power companies to build cleaner plants and natural-gas terminals, power prices will go up to pay for their construction. But if America caps emissions and caps new generation through political obstacles, prices will go way up.

What about switching to new-fangled "clean" coal instead? This is surely a possibility -- but the technology of "clean" coal is as yet unproven on a commercial scale and the costs are substantial. So are the potential political hurdles.

One promising technology, for example, involves sequestering CO2 emissions from coal plants. This could require power-plant operators to lay underground pipelines to depleted natural-gas fields where the CO2 could be stored -- triggering local opposition, property-rights disputes at now-dormant gas fields and investor worries about liability.

And then there is the collision between cap and trade and global competition. In the real world, small changes in certain prices can determine, say, whether a businessman keeps his manufacturing plant in upstate New York or places his orders instead with a factory in China.

At the end of the day, a strict cap-and-trade program would have the same effect as a carbon tax, one that's high enough, eventually, to encourage switching to cleaner generation, but that's gradually imposed over a decade so that companies have plenty of time to plan.

Such a tax would make emissions more expensive; discourage carbon-intensive power generation; and it would allow the market to decide which environmentally more-friendly technologies would be competitive enough to take its place. A tax per ton of carbon would mean higher power prices, too, but without direct subsidies to developing nations by paying for their power-plant upgrades.

Nor would a carbon tax create a new multibillion-dollar global commodity whose value would depend on political manipulation. The feds could use the revenues from such a levy to reduce other taxes -- including dividend and capital-gains taxes further to spur the massive private investment needed to build the next generation of power generators -- while ensuring that they're also creating a political and regulatory climate to encourage such mass-scale construction.

If it's true that a global warming consensus really exists -- and not just in press releases and speeches -- politicians and business leaders wouldn't be afraid to suggest such a tax. They would insist on it.

Ms. Gelinas is a contributing editor to City Journal, from whose Summer issue this piece was adapted
 
27144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: August 23, 2007, 08:12:46 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Russia Rewrites the Post-Cold War Rule Book

Georgia has accused Russia of violating its airspace again. According to Georgia, its radar recently tracked a Russian aircraft penetrating Georgian airspace near Abkhazia -- a pro-Russian breakaway region and an area of substantial Georgian-Russian tension. The first incursion allegedly took place Aug. 6 and involved a missile fired at a Georgian village. Whether intentional or not, the missile didn't explode. That incursion occurred near another Georgian breakaway region, South Ossetia.

The Russians have denied both incidents, claiming the first was a Georgian provocation. Ignoring the fact that parts of the missile could be identified, Georgia has little reason to create a crisis. It is fully aware that U.S. intervention against Russia is unlikely at this point, and that anything more than rhetorical support from European countries is equally unlikely. At least for now, a crisis would leave Georgia alone. Therefore, antagonizing the Russians at this point really doesn't make a great deal of sense.

But increasing Georgian insecurity does make sense for Russia. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moscow withdrew from most of the Caucasus region, leaving behind Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan -- all former Soviet republics that are now independent states. It also left behind a series of dispute fragments in a region where ethnic and religious strife is endemic. Russia lost its secure frontier with Turkey, replacing it with an unstable and frequently violent border.

The direct threat to Russia was the part of the Northern Caucasus that it continued to control, which included Chechnya. If Russia had abandoned Chechnya, it would have lost its foothold in the Caucasus and, along with it, any natural defensive position. But the Russians decided disintegration stopped there and fought to hold their position.

The Russians believed, with substantial reason, that arms were reaching the Chechen guerrillas via Georgia through the Pankisi Gorge. The minimal Russian charge was that the Georgians, closely aligned with the United States, were not doing enough to stop the flow of weapons. The maximum Russian claim was that the Georgian government was facilitating arms smuggling, supported by the United States, which wanted to see the Russian Federation disintegrate.

The Russians therefore have historically viewed Georgia, allied as it is with Washington, as a direct threat to their national security. First, there was the Chechen issue. Second -- and far more important in the long run -- was the entire matter of the Russian frontier in the Caucasus. The old Soviet-Turkish frontier allowed Russia to secure the Caucasus and limit insurgencies among ethnic groups. The current frontier is an invitation to insurgency and constantly threatens to draw Russia into conflicts in the region.

Russia is aligned with Armenia, which is afraid of the Turks. It has good relations with Azerbaijan, having military facilities there, as well as trade relations. Georgia is Moscow's problem. It destabilizes Russia's southern frontier and is seen as facilitating instability in Russia itself. Georgia's close relationship with the United States has in the past made it immune to Russian pressure, but close relationships with the United States are not worth what they used to be, or what they might be in the future.

We have spoken before of Russia's current window of opportunity. The two incursions into Georgia -- both of which we believe were intended to be noticed -- put the Georgians on notice that, in Russia's mind, Georgian autonomy is no longer a settled matter. Russia might not be planning to occupy Georgia, but it is letting the Georgians know that it believes they have freedom of action. The moves were designed to make the Georgians extremely concerned -- and it is working.

The Russians want to see an evolution in Georgia in which Tbilisi acknowledges that it is within the Russian sphere of influence and, as such, retains its independence to the extent that it is prepared to accommodate Russian interests. Those obviously include collaboration on the issue of Chechen weapons -- now a bit of a dated subject. But this specifically means Georgia should shift its relationship with the United States. The Russians do not want to see Washington using Georgia as a foothold in the Caucasus.

Russia is rewriting the post-Cold War rule book. Georgia is one of the places that matter to Russia, and Russia is signaling the Georgians to reconsider their national security interests. It will be interesting to see what the Georgians do, and -- assuming they maintain their current stance -- what the Russians do next. Moscow did not carry out these incursions without a plan. The Russians have started small. We would be surprised if they restrained themselves in the face of a continuation of Georgian policies toward the United States and the region.
stratfor.com
27145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: August 23, 2007, 08:04:05 AM
Max:

Yes of course there were other groups that were hit hard as well.  That said, the title of this thread means that the focus will tend to be on Anti-semitism.

Marc
=======================

Fearing the Nazis again
Rachel Kane is among the aging Holocaust survivors whose postwar resilience is crumbling under the weight of long-buried memories.
By Maria L. La Ganga, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 23, 2007


 
 Photo Gallery
Nazi memories return
For more than half a century, Rachel Kane kept the memories at bay.

There were her daughters to think of, twins born in a displaced persons camp in the aftermath of the second World War. Kane didn't want to burden them with tales of the Holocaust, of a husband shot to death by the Nazis, a baby who starved to death in the forest, an extended family wiped out in a mass execution.

She didn't explain the nightmares that woke her, screaming, in the long string of cramped apartments the family called home after resettling in Detroit and then Los Angeles.

Instead, the university-educated Hebrew teacher who spoke seven languages regaled her daughters with stories about her "beautiful life" before Hitler's armies stormed Poland, successfully locking the war years away until 1998.

That was when her second husband died. When she began to lose her battle with dementia. When she became convinced that the soldiers were coming for her, as they'd done so many years before.

Lying in her room at the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda, the elderly woman with the soft white hair and bright blue eyes "was seeing Nazis," recounted daughter Esther Kane Meyers. "She was hearing things. I came and sat with her every day. It was the most painful thing I'd ever seen. It was all happening, right there."

Watching 50 years of strength crumble under the weight of a long-buried trauma made Kane's family sad and angry. What they did not know at the time was that her experience was not uncommon among aging victims of Nazi brutality.

In recent years, a body of research has sprung from the lives of Holocaust survivors like Kane as caregivers and mental health professionals work to understand and alleviate the pain of old age and remembered trauma. But when she first began to relive her past, the territory was largely uncharted.

"There has never been a group of genocide survivors live to this age in history," said Paula David, editor of the manual "Caring for Aging Holocaust Survivors." Their experiences offer a rare window into the confluence of trauma and aging.

One clear lesson from this shrinking group, whose median age is more than 70, is that "resilience ages, too," David said, "and diminishes along with hearing and vision."

The Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging has the largest population of Holocaust survivors in the West, according to nursing home officials. There were 63 such patients at latest count, although that number could rise to nearly 90 when a new building opens later this summer.

Although every Holocaust survivor is different, Kane's end-of-life experiences are a good illustration of the kinds of things they can go through, said Chaya Berci, the Jewish Home's executive director of nursing.

As people age and their grasp on the present weakens, events from the distant past can seem as real as anything unfolding today. For those who lived through severe early trauma, the memories that come rushing back are often of their most harrowing experiences.

Mental health professionals debate whether the symptoms they see in some aging Holocaust survivors stem from classic trauma or other conditions, such as an incomplete mourning process, said Allen Glicksman, director of research at the Philadelphia Corp. for Aging, who has studied the experiences of Nazi victims in long-term care.

Psychologist Marla Martin met with Kane regularly over the course of nearly three years as the woman's depression and anxiety bloomed into a psychotic break fraught with paranoia and auditory hallucinations.

Even pleasant events sometimes took on dark overtones for Kane, as the voices in her head reminded her of all she had witnessed and lost.

In October 1998, Martin wrote in her case notes that Kane's "daughter Esther gave her two nice blankets, and this started a problem for her. She was feeling guilt because of the Holocaust and the voices telling her to share the blankets. How could she have two nice blankets?"

Martin has been treating Holocaust survivors at the Los Angeles Jewish Home for 15 years. By the time she started seeing Kane, she had already observed that a "sizable minority" of the strongest survivors dwelt daily on past horrors.

And a psychotic break like Kane's is "not unusual," she said. "People who have had really acute trauma can re-experience it, feel that they're there."

Kane's first husband was shot to death after Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. Pregnant and alone in an occupied city, she fled to her family's home in the small town of Byten. But the soldiers soon reached there, too, and forced Jews into a cramped ghetto.

After Kane gave birth, her father, a respected rabbi, begged her to leave. It was the only way, he told her, to avert disaster. So she took her infant daughter into the nearby forest and joined the resistance fighters.

The partisans were constantly on the run, sabotaging Nazi efforts, helping Jews escape from the ghettos, scavenging for food. Kane survived, but the baby died of starvation. Her name was Freidele, "joy" in Yiddish.

More than half a century later, as Kane's dementia worsened along with her health, Martin said, the elderly woman became increasingly focused on controlling her environment.

The shades on her window had to be just so. The leg supports on her wheelchair were never quite right. The more panicky and paranoid she felt, the tighter her clothes seemed to be.

"This was beyond the normal kind of reactions that people have adjusting to aging," Martin said. "All of the loss of control she would have had in the Holocaust and what she had lost, that was reawakened."

Kane's failing vision meant much more than not being able to read, Martin said; it robbed her of an important bridge to prewar happiness, "to her loving father, a rabbi, who shared his wall of books with her." A large-print prayer book helped.

She had trouble eating because of denture problems and depended on pureed foods. She felt that she was starving -- a common trigger for Holocaust memories -- and began to lose weight. Voices in her head reminded her of her first daughter's death by starvation.

When Kane's psychotic break began, there was no manual to help guide nursing homes and family members as they cared for aging Holocaust survivors.

Early on in Kane's breakdown, her caregivers recommended that she be transferred to a psychiatric unit at UCLA. But Meyers fought hard to keep her elderly mother in her own room -- and succeeded.

It was a critical lesson for administrators at the Jewish Home about the importance of familiar surroundings for Holocaust survivors and other dementia patients; the result is a psychiatric unit that is scheduled to open in the home's new building.

Kane's experiences point out a conundrum: Though nursing homes are often the best choice for emotionally and physically frail Holocaust survivors, institutional life -- even in the most caring facilities -- can be a constant reminder of wartime horror.

Mundane experiences -- showers, doctor visits, hunger pangs, lack of privacy -- can trigger memories of concentration camps.

"Caring for Aging Holocaust Survivors: A Practice Manual" lists nearly 40 such emotional catalysts.

The manual was published three years ago; it could have gone to press much earlier, said editor David, but "every time we talked to anyone, the list kept growing."

Lack of privacy is one reminder of life in concentration camps or in hiding, when "there was no privacy for the Jews," the manual notes, "and at any given moment the world as they knew it could be turned inside out."

Standing in line for treatment or service also can cause extreme anxiety in survivors who were forced to line up for food rations, roll calls, deportations -- even death.

As much as possible at the Los Angeles Jewish Home, Holocaust survivors are given private accommodations. Starting in 2006, residents ate restaurant-style meals in bright dining rooms, where the food comes out one course at a time and is tailored for individual health needs.

Personal hygiene is another trigger for many camp survivors, who watched as loved ones were promised showers but herded into gas chambers instead.

Caregivers can offer baths as an option, but that, too, can be an imperfect solution, because some of the Nazis' victims were placed in tubs of dry ice for hypothermia experiments.

One major point in "Caring for Aging Holocaust Survivors" is that what can cause distress in one person may be perfectly innocuous to another. It's a lesson David learned firsthand at the Baycrest Geriatric Health Care System in Toronto, where she is senior social worker and coordinates the Holocaust resource program.

"We have one gentleman who watched his entire family marched into a gas chamber. He was held back so he could pick up their corpses in a wheelbarrow and take them to the oven," she recounted. "But his family arranged for him to have a daily shower. He feels thoroughly refreshed by it."

Certain realities of nursing home life simply cannot be avoided, David said. For some, "like the impaired person who we cannot convince that they are safe and we are not the enemy," institutional life means ongoing trauma, and individual attention is the only salve.

That is why the international organization that spearheads reparations to Nazi victims worldwide allocates millions of dollars annually for home care and is pushing the German government for more funding.

In a 2005 opinion piece in the Jewish newspaper the Forward, Roman Kent, an Auschwitz survivor and senior officer with the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, called home care "one of our most pressing needs."

"We survivors are adamant about remaining in our own homes rather than entering a nursing home," Kent wrote. "To someone who endured incarceration by the Nazis, the prospect of institutionalization is frightening. It triggers memories and even induces panic."

So far, the German government has allocated only about $50 million for home care services, an amount nowhere near enough to assist the nearly 700,000 surviving Nazi victims around the world, more than 120,000 of whom live in the United States.

And some of the frailest survivors are simply better cared for in a nursing home, said Susie Forer-Dehrey, associate executive director of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles. "For some people, including Holocaust survivors. . . with a psychotic break or Alzheimer's," she said, "it probably is the best place to be."

Today, Kane is 96 and one of the oldest surviving Nazi victims in the U.S. She has end-stage Alzheimer's disease. She no longer speaks and is severely hard of hearing. Still, her caregivers try hard to keep her comfortable, secure and free of reminders of her painful past.

Every morning she is carefully dressed and helped into her wheelchair. Caregivers at the Jewish Home roll her to meals in a second-floor dining room, where pureed food is gently spooned into her mouth. She can neither chew well nor feed herself. She naps a lot.

Exercise classes are held in the same dining room, after the breakfast dishes have been cleared and the tables pushed to the walls. Frank Sinatra croons from the stereo. Kane squeezes a soft yellow ball in her weathered hands. The instructor slowly counts to nine: "One more, Rachel. Very good."

And every Friday afternoon, there is Shabbat, the service that has shaped Kane's life for the better part of a century, giving her strength and solace in the darkest times.

Meyers wheels her mother down to the multipurpose room, where two electric candles are lighted to signal the Sabbath's official start. Wine is poured into plastic medicine cups. The challah is broken and passed around by hands sheathed in protective gloves. Prayers are intoned.

Meyers repeats the sacred words into a small black apparatus she holds in her hand like a deck of cards. It amplifies the prayer and sends it through a headset directly into her mother's ears.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam. Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the universe.

maria.laganga@latimes.com
 
http://www.latimes.com/la-me-rachel23aug23,0,3005247,full.story?coll=la-home-center
27146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: August 22, 2007, 04:41:00 PM
Christiane Amanpour would be an example of a reporter I do not trust.
27147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: August 22, 2007, 08:42:19 AM
stratfor.com

Window of Opportunity; Window of Vulnerability
August 21, 2007 18 54  GMT



All U.S. presidents eventually become lame ducks, though the lameness of any particular duck depends on the amount of power he has left to wield. It not only is an issue of the president's popularity, but also of the opposition's unity and clarity. In the international context, the power of a lame duck president depends on the options he has militarily. Foreign powers do not mess with American presidents, no matter how lame one might be, as long as the president retains military options.

The core of the American presidency is in its role as commander in chief. With all of the other presidential powers deeply intersecting with those of Congress and the courts, the president has the greatest autonomous power when he is acting as supreme commander of the armed forces. There is a remarkable lot he can do if he wishes to, and relatively little Congress can do to stop him -- unless it is uniquely united. Therefore, foreign nations remain wary of the American president's military power long after they have stopped taking him seriously in other aspects of foreign relations.

There is a school of thought that argues that President George W. Bush is likely to strike at Iran before he leaves office. The sense is that Bush is uniquely indifferent to either Congress or public opinion and that he therefore is likely to use his military powers in some decisive fashion, under the expectation and hope that history will vindicate him. In that sense, Bush is very much not a lame duck, because if he wanted to strike, there is nothing legally preventing him from doing so. The endless debates over presidential powers -- which have roiled both Republican and Democratic administrations -- have left one thing clear: The courts will not intervene against an American president's use of his power as commander in chief. Congress may cut off money after the fact, but as we have seen, that is not a power that is normally put to use.

The problem for Bush, of course, is that he is fighting two simultaneous wars, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. These wars have sucked up the resources of the U.S. Army to a remarkable degree. Units are either engaged in these theaters of operation, recovering from deployment or preparing for deployment. To an extraordinary degree, the United States does not have a real strategic reserve in its ground forces, the Army and the Marines. A force could probably be scraped up to deal with a limited crisis, but U.S. forces are committed and there are no more troops to scatter around.

The United States faces another potential theater of operations in Iran. Fighting there might not necessarily be something initiated by the United States. The Iranians might choose to create a crisis the United States couldn’t avoid. That would suck up not only what little ground reserves are available, but also a good part of U.S. air and naval forces. The United States would be throwing all of its chips on the table, with few reserves left. With all U.S. forces engaged in a line from the Euphrates to the Hindu Kush, the rest of the world would be wide open to second-tier powers.

This is Bush's strategic problem -- the one that shapes his role as commander in chief. He has committed virtually all of his land forces to two wars. His only reserves are the Air Force and Navy. If they were sucked into a war in Iran, it would limit U.S. reserves for other contingencies. The United States alone does not get to choose whether there is a crisis with Iran. Iran gets to vote too. We don’t believe there will be a military confrontation with Iran, but the United States must do its contingency planning as if there will be.

Thus, Bush is a lame-duck commander in chief as well. Even if he completely disregards the politics of his position, which he can do, he still lacks the sheer military resources to achieve any meaningful goal without the use of nuclear weapons. But his problem goes beyond the Iran scenario. Lacking ground forces, the president's ability to influence events throughout the world is severely impaired. Moreover, if he were to throw his air forces into a non-Iranian crisis, all pressure on Iran would be lifted. The United States is strategically tapped out. There is no land force available and the use of air and naval forces without land forces, while able to achieve some important goals, would not be decisive.

The United States has entered a place where it has almost no room to maneuver. The president is becoming a lame duck in the fullest sense of the term. This opens a window of opportunity for powers, particularly second-tier powers, that would not be prepared to challenge the United States while its forces had flexibility. One power in particular has begun to use this window of opportunity -- Russia.

Russia is not the country it was 10 years ago. Its economy, fueled by rising energy and mineral prices, is financially solvent. The state has moved from being a smashed relic of the Soviet era to becoming a more traditional Russian state: authoritarian, repressive, accepting private property but only under terms it finds acceptable. It also is redefining its sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union and reviving its military.

For example, a Russian aircraft recently fired a missile at a Georgian village. Intentionally or not, the missile was a dud, though it clearly was meant to signal to the Georgians -- close allies of the United States and unfriendly to Russian interests in the region -- that not only is Russia unhappy, it is prepared to take military action if it chooses. It also clearly told the Georgians that the Russians are unconcerned about the United States and its possible response. It must have given the Georgians a chill.

The Russians planted their flag under the sea at the North Pole after the Canadians announced plans to construct armed icebreakers and establish a deepwater port from which to operate in the Far North. The Russians announced the construction of a new air defense system by 2015 -- not a very long time as these things go. They also announced plans to create a new command and control system in the same time frame. Russian long-range aircraft flew east in the Pacific to the region of Guam, an important U.S. air base, causing the United States to scramble fighter planes. They also flew into what used to be the GIUK gap (Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom) probing air defenses along the Norwegian coast and in Scotland.

Most interestingly, they announced the resumption of patrols in the Atlantic, along the U.S. coast, using Blackjack strategic bombers and the old workhorse of the Russian fleet, the Bear. (The balance does remain in U.S. favor along the East Coast). During the Cold War, patrols such as these were designed to carry out electronic and signal intelligence. They were designed to map out U.S. facilities along the Eastern seaboard and observe response time and procedures. During the Cold War they would land in Cuba for refueling before retracing their steps. It will be interesting to see whether Russia will ask Cuba for landing privileges and whether the Cubans will permit it. As interesting, Russian and Chinese troops conducted military exercises recently in the context of regional talks. It is not something to take too seriously, but then they are not trivial.

Many of these are older planes. The Bear, for example, dates back to the 1950s -- but so does the B-52, which remains important to the U.S. strategic bomber fleet. The age of the airframe doesn't matter nearly as much as maintenance, refits, upgrades to weapons and avionics and so on. Nothing can be assumed from the mere age of the aircraft.

The rather remarkable flurry of Russian air operations -- as well as plans for naval development -- is partly a political gesture. The Russians are tired of the United States pressing into their sphere of influence, and they see a real window of opportunity to press back with limited risk of American response. But the Russians appear to be doing more than making a gesture.

The Russians are trying to redefine the global balance. They are absolutely under no illusion that they can match American military power in any sphere. But they are clearly asserting their right to operate as a second-tier global power and are systematically demonstrating their global reach. They may be old and they may be slow, but when American aircraft on the East Coast start to scramble routinely to intercept and escort Russian aircraft, two things happen. First, U.S. military planning has to shift to take Russia into account. Second, the United States loses even more flexibility. It can't just ignore the Russians. It now needs to devote scarce dollars to upgrading systems along the East Coast -- systems that have been quite neglected since the end of the Cold War.

There is a core assumption in the U.S. government that Russia no longer is a significant power. It is true that its vast army has disintegrated. But the Russians do not need a vast army modeled on World War II. They need, and have begun to develop, a fairly effective military built around special forces and airborne troops. They also have appeared to pursue their research and development, particularly in the area of air defense and air-launched missiles -- areas in which they have traditionally been strong. The tendency to underestimate the Russian military -- something even Russians do -- is misplaced. Russia's military is capable and improving.

The increased Russian tempo of operations in areas that the United States has been able to ignore for many years further pins the United States. It can be assumed that the Russians mean no harm -- but assumption is not a luxury national security planners can permit themselves, at least not good ones. It takes years to develop and deploy new systems. If the Russians are probing the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic again, it is not the current threat that matters, but the threat that might evolve. That diverts budget dollars from heavily armored trucks that can survive improvised explosive device attacks, and cuts into the Air Force and Navy.

The Russians are using the window of opportunity to redefine, in a modest way, the global balance and gain some room to maneuver in their region. As a result of their more assertive posture, American thoughts of unilateral interventions must decline. For example, getting involved in Georgia once was a low-risk activity. The risk just went up. Taking that risk while U.S. ground forces are completely absorbed in Iraq and Afghanistan is hard for the Americans to justify -- but rather easy for the Russians.

This brings us back to the discussion of the commander in chief's options in the Middle East. The United States already has limited options against Iran. The more the Russians maneuver, the more the United States must hold what forces it has left -- Air Force and Navy -- in reserve. Launching an Iranian adventure becomes that much more risky. If it is launched, Russia has an even greater window of opportunity. Every further involvement in the region makes the United States that much less of a factor in the immediate global equation.

All wars end, and these will too. The Russians are trying to rearrange the furniture a bit before anyone comes home and forces them out. They are dealing with a lame duck president with fewer options than most lame ducks. Before there is a new president and before the war in Iraq ends, the Russians want to redefine the situation a bit.
27148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: August 22, 2007, 08:32:46 AM
Following up on the previous post, this from Stratfor:

Mexico Security Memo: Aug. 20, 2007
August 20, 2007 19 46  GMT



Violence Revisits Nuevo Leon, Baja California States

Violence returned to Nuevo Leon state this week with the Aug. 17 discovery near Monterrey of the bodies of two federal law enforcement agents who had been kidnapped the night before. Far to the west, Baja California state also stood out this week as an area to monitor as the commanders of joint local, state and federal security forces confirmed they would continue security operations in the state. Their announcement came in response to claims by a business group that organized crime in the state was reaching record levels, especially kidnapping. It is likely that additional federal resources will be sent to the state as security operations are expanded. As an indication of the level of violence throughout the country, 677 known cartel-related killings took place in Mexico in the first quarter of 2007, according to U.S. counterterrorism sources.

Operation Puma

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced this week the culmination of Operation Puma, an investigation targeting the Gulf cartel's money laundering and distribution networks in Mexico and the United States. The arrest near Dallas of a Gulf "gatekeeper" (a senior cartel member who controls the flow of drugs and revenue in a given locale), along with gatekeepers in the border cities of McAllen and Laredo, illustrates the extent of the cartel's distribution network within the United States.

It is still unclear what impact the arrests will have on the Gulf cartel's operations; new gatekeepers will undoubtedly be brought in and drugs will continue to enter the United States. However, the investigation, which took approximately two and half years and involved multiple agencies and jurisdictions, also demonstrates that U.S. law enforcement is capable of patiently penetrating and investigating drug-trafficking organizations, going after high-ranking leaders and producing results. These kinds of results could lead cartel leaders to implement additional operational security measures to prevent future vulnerability.






Aug. 13

A group of gunmen fired on the municipal police station in Las Vigas, Veracruz state, in the early morning hours. No one was reported injured in the attack.

Media reports were released confirming six drug-related killings in Sinaloa state over the previous two days.

The commander of a joint counternarcotics unit in San Luis Potosi was killed by gunmen armed with AR-15 assault rifles.


Aug. 14

A federal law enforcement agent in Ocosingo, Chiapas state, died after she was shot by gunmen traveling in a vehicle. The agent investigated organized crime.

Three bodies were discovered in a vehicle in Naucalpan, Mexico state, bound at the hands and feet and with visible signs of torture. Two were identified as taxi drivers, who often work with drug dealers to transport narcotics.


Aug. 15

The body of a man was found in Michoacan state bound at the hands and with a note pinned to his chest that read, "For being a thief."

Two armed men kidnapped and held a journalist in Morelos state for several hours and beat him during the ordeal.

Colombian law enforcement detained John Alex Marroquin, a suspected principal figure linking the Tijuana cartel with Colombia's Norte del Valle cartel.

Authorities in Tijuana, Baja California state, began an investigation to determine if the body of a woman found shot to death was related to the recent kidnapping of seven prostitutes in the city.


Aug. 16

A restaurant owner in Tijuana, Baja California state, died after being shot four times by a gunmen who entered his restaurant.

The bodies of two men were found in a vehicle in Mexico City. Both men had been shot several times, and one had been placed in the trunk.

Two men were shot dead in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, in apparently separate incidents during the day.


Aug. 17

Two federal law enforcement agents were found shot to death in Santa Catarina, Nuevo Leon state. Investigators said the agents had been abducted by armed men Aug. 16.

A federal law enforcement agent died after being shot eight times in Morelia, Michoacan state, apparently while leaving his home.

Authorities in Mexico state discovered the body of a man in a vehicle who had been tortured, strangled and blindfolded.


Aug. 19

Authorities in Michoacan state reported the killing of five people in separate incidents, two in the port city of Lazaro Cardenas, two around Uruapan and one in Ziracuaretiro.

A group of gunmen in a moving vehicle shot and wounded three individuals in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas state.
27149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: August 22, 2007, 06:46:24 AM
 
 
   
     
   
 
 

 
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Jose Padilla Makes Bad Law
By MICHAEL B. MUKASEY
August 22, 2007; Page A15

The apparently conventional ending to Jose Padilla's trial last week -- conviction on charges of conspiring to commit violence abroad and providing material assistance to a terrorist organization -- gives only the coldest of comfort to anyone concerned about how our legal system deals with the threat he and his co-conspirators represent.

 
Jose Padilla, in an undated driver's license photo
He will be sentenced -- likely to a long if not a life-long term of imprisonment. He will appeal. By the time his appeals run out he will have engaged the attention of three federal district courts, three courts of appeal and on at least one occasion the Supreme Court of the United States.

It may be claimed that Padilla's odyssey is a triumph for due process and the rule of law in wartime. Instead, when it is examined closely, this case shows why current institutions and statutes are not well suited to even the limited task of supplementing what became, after Sept. 11, 2001, principally a military effort to combat Islamic terrorism.

Padilla's current journey through the legal system began on May 8, 2002, when a federal district court in New York issued, and FBI agents in Chicago executed, a warrant to arrest him when he landed at O'Hare Airport after a trip that started in Pakistan. His prior history included a murder charge in Chicago before his 18th birthday, and a firearms possession offense in Florida shortly after his release on the murder charge.

Padilla then journeyed to Egypt, where, as a convert to Islam, he took the name Abdullah al Muhajir, and traveled to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. He eventually came to the attention of Abu Zubaydeh, a lieutenant of Osama bin Laden. The information underlying the warrant issued for Padilla indicated that he had returned to America to explore the possibility of locating radioactive material that could be dispersed with a conventional explosive -- a device known as a dirty bomb.

However, Padilla was not detained on a criminal charge. Rather, he was arrested on a material witness warrant, issued under a statute (more than a century old) that authorizes the arrest of someone who has information likely to be of interest to a grand jury investigating a crime, but whose presence to testify cannot be assured. A federal grand jury in New York was then investigating the activities of al Qaeda.

The statute was used frequently after 9/11, when the government tried to investigate numerous leads and people to determine whether follow-on attacks were planned -- but found itself without a statute that authorized investigative detention on reasonable suspicion, of the sort available to authorities in Britain and France, among other countries. And so, the U.S. government subpoenaed and arrested on a material witness warrant those like Padilla who seemed likely to have information.

Next the government took one of several courses: it released the person whose detention appeared on a second look to have been a mistake; or obtained the information he was thought to have, and his cooperation, and released him; or placed him before a grand jury with a grant of immunity under a compulsion to testify truthfully and, if he testified falsely, charge him with perjury; or developed independent evidence of criminality sufficiently reliable and admissible to warrant charging him.

Each individual so arrested was brought immediately before a federal judge where he was assigned counsel, had a bail hearing, and was permitted to challenge the basis for his detention, just as a criminal defendant would be.

The material witness statute has its perils. Because the law does not authorize investigative detention, the government had only a limited time in which to let Padilla testify, prosecute him or let him go. As that limited time drew to a close, the government changed course. It withdrew the grand jury subpoena that had triggered his designation as a material witness, designated Padilla instead as an unlawful combatant, and transferred him to military custody.

The reason? Perhaps it was because the initial claim, that Padilla was involved in a dirty bomb plot, could not be proved with evidence admissible in an ordinary criminal trial. Perhaps it was because to try him in open court potentially would compromise sources and methods of intelligence gathering. Or perhaps it was because Padilla's apparent contact with higher-ups in al Qaeda made him more valuable as a potential intelligence source than as a defendant.

The government's quandary here was real. The evidence that brought Padilla to the government's attention may have been compelling, but inadmissible. Hearsay is the most obvious reason why that could be so; or the source may have been such that to disclose it in a criminal trial could harm the government's overall effort.

In fact, terrorism prosecutions in this country have unintentionally provided terrorists with a rich source of intelligence. For example, in the course of prosecuting Omar Abdel Rahman (the so-called "blind sheik") and others for their role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and other crimes, the government was compelled -- as it is in all cases that charge conspiracy -- to turn over a list of unindicted co-conspirators to the defendants.

That list included the name of Osama bin Laden. As was learned later, within 10 days a copy of that list reached bin Laden in Khartoum, letting him know that his connection to that case had been discovered.

Again, during the trial of Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, an apparently innocuous bit of testimony in a public courtroom about delivery of a cell phone battery was enough to tip off terrorists still at large that one of their communication links had been compromised. That link, which in fact had been monitored by the government and had provided enormously valuable intelligence, was immediately shut down, and further information lost.

The unlawful combatant designation affixed to Padilla certainly was not unprecedented. In June 1942, German saboteurs landed from submarines off the coasts of Florida and Long Island and were eventually apprehended. Because they were not acting as ordinary soldiers fighting in uniform and carrying arms openly, they were in violation of the laws of war and not entitled to Geneva Conventions protections.

Indeed, at the direction of President Roosevelt they were not only not held as prisoners of war but were tried before a military court in Washington, D.C., convicted, and -- except for two who had cooperated -- executed, notwithstanding the contention by one of them that he was an American citizen, as is Padilla, and thus entitled to constitutional protections. The Supreme Court dismissed that contention as irrelevant.

In any event, Padilla was transferred to a brig in South Carolina, and the Supreme Court eventually held that he had the right to file a habeas corpus petition. His case wound its way back up the appellate chain, and after the government secured a favorable ruling from the Fourth Circuit, it changed course again.

Now, Padilla was transferred back to the civilian justice system. Although he reportedly confessed to the dirty bomb plot while in military custody, that statement -- made without benefit of legal counsel -- could not be used. He was instead indicted on other charges in the Florida case that took three months to try and ended with last week's convictions.

The history of Padilla's case helps illustrate in miniature the inadequacy of the current approach to terrorism prosecutions.

First, consider the overall record. Despite the growing threat from al Qaeda and its affiliates -- beginning with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and continuing through later plots including inter alia the conspiracy to blow up airliners over the Pacific in 1994, the attack on the American barracks at Khobar Towers in 1996, the bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, the bombing of the Cole in Aden in 2000, and the attack on Sept. 11, 2001 -- criminal prosecutions have yielded about three dozen convictions, and even those have strained the financial and security resources of the federal courts near to the limit.

Second, consider that such prosecutions risk disclosure to our enemies of methods and sources of intelligence that can then be neutralized. Disclosure not only puts our secrets at risk, but also discourages allies abroad from sharing information with us lest it wind up in hostile hands.

And third, consider the distortions that arise from applying to national security cases generally the rules that apply to ordinary criminal cases.

On one end of the spectrum, the rules that apply to routine criminals who pursue finite goals are skewed, and properly so, to assure that only the highest level of proof will result in a conviction. But those rules do not protect a society that must gather information about, and at least incapacitate, people who have cosmic goals that they are intent on achieving by cataclysmic means.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, is said to have told his American captors that he wanted a lawyer and would see them in court. If the Supreme Court rules -- in a case it has agreed to hear relating to Guantanamo detainees -- that foreigners in U.S. custody enjoy the protection of our Constitution regardless of the place or circumstances of their apprehension, this bold joke could become a reality.

The director of an organization purporting to protect constitutional rights has announced that his goal is to unleash a flood of lawyers on Guantanamo so as to paralyze interrogation of detainees. Perhaps it bears mention that one unintended outcome of a Supreme Court ruling exercising jurisdiction over Guantanamo detainees may be that, in the future, capture of terrorism suspects will be forgone in favor of killing them. Or they may be put in the custody of other countries like Egypt or Pakistan that are famously not squeamish in their approach to interrogation -- a practice, known as rendition, followed during the Clinton administration.

At the other end of the spectrum, if conventional legal rules are adapted to deal with a terrorist threat, whether by relaxed standards for conviction, searches, the admissibility of evidence or otherwise, those adaptations will infect and change the standards in ordinary cases with ordinary defendants in ordinary courts of law.

What is to be done? The Military Commissions Act of 2006 and the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 appear to address principally the detainees at Guantanamo. In any event, the Supreme Court's recently announced determination to review cases involving the Guantanamo detainees may end up making commissions, which the administration delayed in convening, no longer possible.

There have been several proposals for a new adjudicatory framework, notably by Andrew C. McCarthy and Alykhan Velshi of the Center for Law & Counterterrorism, and by former Deputy Attorney General George J. Terwilliger. Messrs. McCarthy and Velshi have urged the creation of a separate national security court staffed by independent, life-tenured judges to deal with the full gamut of national security issues, from intelligence gathering to prosecution. Mr. Terwilliger's more limited proposals address principally the need to incapacitate dangerous people, by using legal standards akin to those developed to handle civil commitment of the mentally ill.

These proposals deserve careful scrutiny by the public, and particularly by the U.S. Congress. It is Congress that authorized the use of armed force after Sept. 11 -- and it is Congress that has the constitutional authority to establish additional inferior courts as the need may be, or even to modify the Supreme Court's appellate jurisdiction.

Perhaps the world's greatest deliberative body (the Senate) and the people's house (the House of Representatives) could, while we still have the leisure, turn their considerable talents to deliberating how to fix a strained and mismatched legal system, before another cataclysm calls forth from the people demands for hastier and harsher results.

Mr. Mukasey was the district judge who signed the material witness warrant authorizing Jose Padilla's arrest in 2002, and who handled the case while it remained in the Southern District of New York. He was also the trial judge in United States v. Abdel Rahman et al. Retired from the bench, he is now a partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler in New York.

 
WSJ
27150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: August 22, 2007, 06:45:40 AM
Border Violence Pushes North (LAT)
The Los Angeles Times
<http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-border19aug19,1,46
30356.story> , August 19, 2007
Drug cartels extend their reach into Texas and Arizona. Citizens and
immigrants alike are victimized.
Violent crime along the U.S.-Mexico border, which has long plagued the
scrubby, often desolate stretch, is increasingly spilling northward into
the cities of the American Southwest.
In Phoenix, deputies are working the unsolved case of 13 border crossers
who were kidnapped and executed in the desert. In Dallas, nearly two
dozen high school students have died in the last two years from
overdoses of a $2-a-hit Mexican fad drug called "cheese heroin."
The crime surge, most acute in Texas and Arizona, is fueled by a gritty
drug war in Mexico that includes hostages being held in stash houses,
daylight gun battles claiming innocent lives, and teenage hit men for
the Mexican cartels. Shipments of narcotics and vans carrying illegal
workers on U.S. highways are being hijacked by rival cartels fighting
over the lucrative smuggling routes. Fires are being set in national
forests to divert police.
In Laredo, Texas, a teenager who had been driving around the United
States in a $70,000 luxury sedan confessed to becoming a Mexican cartel
hitman when he was just 13. In Nogales, Ariz., an 82-year-old man was
caught with 79 kilograms of cocaine in his Chevrolet Impala. The youth
was sentenced to 40 years in prison in one slaying case and is awaiting
trial in another; the old man received 10 years.
In Southern California, Border Patrol agents routinely encounter
smugglers driving immigrant-laden cars who try to escape by driving the
wrong way on busy freeways. And stash houses packed with dozens of
illegal immigrants have been discovered in Los Angeles.
But a huge U.S. law enforcement buildup along the border that started a
decade ago has helped stabilize border-related crime rates on the
California side; a recent wave of kidnappings in Tijuana has been
largely contained south of the border.
The sprawling border has been crisscrossed for years by the poor seeking
work and by drug dealers in the hunt for U.S. dollars. For decades
neither the United States nor Mexico has managed to halt the immigrants
and narcotics pushing north. But with the Mexican government's newly
pledged war on the cartels, and an explosion of violence among rival
networks, a new crime dynamic is emerging: The violence that has hit
Mexican border towns is spreading deeper into the United States.
U.S. officials are promising more Border Patrol and federal firearms
officers, more fences and more surveillance towers along the desert
stretches where the two nations meet.
But law enforcement officials are wary of how this new burst in violence
will play out, especially because the enemy is better armed and more
sophisticated than ever. Among their concerns are budget cutbacks in
some agencies -- including a hiring freeze in the Drug Enforcement
Administration -- and community opposition to the surveillance towers.
Johnny Sutton, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, said he
would need at least 20,000 new Border Patrol agents in El Paso alone to
hold back the tide. But that is the total number of agents that
Washington hopes to have along the whole border by the end of 2009.
In six years, Sutton's office has tried 33,000 defendants, about 90% of
them on drug and immigration violations. "We're body-slamming them the
best we can," he said.
In Phoenix, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said there were 10,000
inmates in his jail and overflow tents; 2,000 of them are "criminal
aliens" from the border, he said. His deputies are investigating the
deaths of 13 people executed in the desert.
Jennifer Allen, director of Border Action Network, a Tucson nonprofit
that supports immigrants' rights, said Washington and Mexico City need
fresh approaches. "The smugglers are no longer mom-and-pop
organizations. Now it's an industry," she said. "So the violence
increases. That's incredibly predictable."
Raul Benitez, an international relations professor in Mexico City who
also taught at American University in Washington, blames both countries
for the crime wave. As long as Americans crave drugs and the cartels
want money, Benitez said, "security in both directions is jeopardized."
Nestor Rodriguez, a University of Houston sociologist, said people on
both sides of the Rio Grande viewed themselves as one community.
"People say, 'The river doesn't divide us,; it unites us,' " he said.
"When you're at ground zero at the border, you see yourselves as one
community -- for good or bad."
Rodriguez knows. His first cousin, Juan Garza, born in the United States
but trained by criminals in Mexico, ran his own murder-and-drug
enterprise out of Brownsville, Texas. He was executed in 2001 by the
United States.
"Of course there is a spillover of violence into this country,"
Rodriguez said.
"It's pouring across our border, and anybody can get caught up in it."
The small town of Sierra Vista, Ariz., learned firsthand of the rising
violence in 2004, when police chased a pickup carrying 24 illegal
immigrants on the border town's main drag, Buffalo Soldier Trail. Speeds
reached up to 100 mph. The truck went airborne, hit half a dozen cars
and killed a recently married elderly couple waiting at a stoplight.
"It was just the worst kind of tragedy," said Cochise County Atty. Ed
Rheinheimer. "The coyotes [smugglers] are just more willing to either
shoot at the police, fight with the police, or to try to flee."
Even more brazen have been several kidnappings of 50 to 100 immigrants
by rival cartels, which hide them in stash houses in and around Phoenix
until families pay a ransom. One captive's face was burned with a
cigarette, another person nearly suffocated in a plastic bag. A woman
was raped. Fingers have been sliced off and sent back to families with
demands for money.
The border-crime issue became so urgent in Arizona that top officials
met in Tucson in June with their counterparts from Sonora, Mexico.
Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano agreed to help train Sonoran police to
track wire payments to smugglers. Sonoran Gov. Eduardo Bours agreed to
improve police communications with U.S. authorities.
In the first nine months of the fiscal year, Tucson officials have
surpassed last year's record of 4,559 arrests over migrant smuggling.
And so far this year, in tiny Douglas, Ariz., the Mexican consulate has
identified the bodies of five Mexican nationals who died under
suspicious circumstances while crossing into the United States, and he
is awaiting the identification of another five he presumes were Mexicans
as well. There were only seven such deaths last year.
Statewide the picture is equally bleak. Homicides of illegal crossers is
up 21% over last year.
Another visible effect of the cross-border crime wave is the flood of
drugs into the country.
Anthony J. Coulson, assistant special agent in charge of the DEA in
Arizona, said records indicated that cocaine and heroin seizures may end
up twice as high as last year. Marijuana seizures are increasing 25%.
Nine months into the current fiscal year, he said, his team had already
seized more pot than all of last year. "And 2006 was a record year," he
said.
In the Tucson sector alone there has been a 71% increase in marijuana
seizures over the last fiscal year, with the Border Patrol reporting
648,000 pounds confiscated since October.
In the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, Arpaio said, a cartel operative was
openly selling heroin to high school students. "He was getting 150 calls
a day on his cellphone," the sheriff said.
The DEA believes 80% of the methamphetamine in the United States is
coming from labs in Mexico, which were set up after police raids shut
down many of the labs in the U.S.
In Dallas, police are dealing with the deaths of 21 high school students
from "cheese heroin," a mixture of Mexican heroin and over-the-counter
cold medicine. A hit sells for $2 to $5. Several arrests of dealers have
been made; now officials are bracing for the coming school season.
"It's a small packet," said Lt. Tom Moorman of the Dallas Police
Department. "They can carry it in a pack of gum. Very, very small."
Antonio Oscar "Tony" Garza Jr., the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, has
issued repeated notes to the Mexican government. Last year he sent an
advisory to American tourists that "drug cartels, aided by corrupt
officials [in Mexico], reign unchecked in many towns along our common
border."
A House subcommittee on domestic security has investigated the "triple
threat" of drug smuggling, illegal border crossings and rising violence,
and it found that "very little" passes the border without the cartels'
knowledge.
The panel found that cartels send smugglers into the United States fully
armored with equipment -- much of it imported to Mexico from the United
States -- including high-powered binoculars and encrypted radios,
bazookas, military-style grenades, assault rifles and silencers, sniper
scopes and bulletproof vests. Some wear fake police uniforms to confuse
authorities as well as Mexican bandits who might ambush them.
The panel's report cited numerous recent crimes. In McAllen, Texas, "two
smuggled women from Central America were found on the side of a road
badly beaten and without clothing. Their captors intimidated the victims
by shooting weapons into the walls and ceiling as they were raped." In
Laredo, Texas, Webb County sheriff's deputies came upon 56 illegal
immigrants locked in a refrigerator trailer; 11 were women, two
children. After six hours, "many were near death by the time they were
rescued."
It was in Laredo last summer where police encountered Rosalio Reta, then
17, a Houston native who fell under the spell of the Gulf Cartel across
the river. Known as Bart, the youth was 13 when he started visiting
Mexico.
"They walk across the bridge," said Laredo Det. Robert Garcia, who
investigated a murder that involved Reta. "They see all the nightclubs
with no age limit. They see the guys their age spending money, throwing
money around, paying for everything. They like the lure, the women, the
fancy cars. They start moving weapons and guns and pretty soon they
start asking for money for hits."
Garcia said Reta told him how he helped break a cartel leader out of a
Mexican prison. From there he moved up to become a hit man and returned
to Texas behind the wheel of a $70,000 Mercedes Benz, Garcia said.
Then last year a Laredo man, Noe Flores, was killed in front of his
home, shot by mistake because the cartel thought Flores was his
half-brother.
In a written statement to police, Reta admitted to driving the car with
two accomplices. One of them, identified by Reta as Gabriel Cardona,
jumped out and "shot two rounds at first," he wrote.
"That was when he fell to the floor and then shot em 13 more rounds and
that was when Jesus Gonzales [the other alleged accomplice] started
shooting from the rear windows.
"Then we left the sene of the crime and we left the car like 3 blocks
away. The work was done for the Gulf Cartel of Mexico."
At trial last month, a witness said Reta and the accomplices were paid a
total of $15,000 for the hit. But the case ended abruptly when Reta
pleaded guilty in return for a 40-year sentence; he had faced 99 years.
Webb County Judge Joe Lopez told the youth: "It's a young life. Come to
terms with your God and your faith, or whatever it may be."
Cardona also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 80 years. Gonzales was
arrested but made bail, and he disappeared back into Mexico.
Reta awaits trial in a second case, involving the ambush slaying in
December 2005 of Moises Garcia, shot in his car in a Laredo restaurant
parking lot as his pregnant wife and family watched helplessly.

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