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27401  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 26, 2006, 11:27:27 AM
IMHO the Eurabia theory cannot simply be wished away-- there does seem to be rational basis for it.  Yes it does make things harder for bringing Muslims into the mainstream-- just as ignoring certain realities does not make them go away.  Its a tough problem.

Anyway, here's this Quijote, which complements some of the points you are making.
=========

U.S. tour offers visitors lessons on tolerance
Eastern Europeans meet with community leaders in L.A. and across the nation as part of a program to foster ethnic relations at home.
By Teresa Watanabe, Times Staff Writer
November 26, 2006


If you think ethnic conflict is bad in Los Angeles, listen to the stories of recent visitors Aleksandar Milovanovic, Edin Colic and Gjylnaze Syla.

Milovanovic, a Serbian Christian, said Albanian Muslims expelled him from his land, decapitated his uncle and burned his family homes. Syla, a member of the Kosovo parliament in Serbia, said mobs burned her family homes and expelled her sister. Colic of Bosnia-Herzegovina said he went without sufficient food, healthcare, schooling and electricity for three years while Serbian military forces surrounded his native Sarajevo.

Having survived the terrors of ethnic cleansing, war and raging hatred as the former Yugoslavia broke up in the 1990s, the three Eastern Europeans came to Los Angeles recently to learn how this city manages its dizzying ethnic diversity and promotes pluralism and tolerance.

Among the lessons learned: Dialogue makes a difference. Networking among ethnic community groups to promote common interests is vital. And ducking the problems makes them worse."What I found out is that you have your problems here, but the U.S. addresses them," Syla said. "You see it. You face it. That's what makes America great. Europe is much slower to react."

The 10-day visit to a total of seven cities, co-sponsored by the American Jewish Committee, included meetings with city officials, Hollywood players, religious leaders and community activists from Latino, Asian American, black, gay and Jewish groups.

The committee's Rabbi Andy Baker said he began organizing the "Promoting Tolerance in Central and Eastern Europe" program in 1992 in collaboration with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation of Germany to help the region's developing democracies learn from U.S. experiences with diversity.

Jewish communities, which had suffered repression under the region's Communist rule, were beginning to see what Baker called populist anti-Semitism after the end of the Cold War. New press freedoms, for instance, opened the door to the republication of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and other biased publications, Baker said.

"Freedom didn't suddenly bring understanding and appreciation of ethnic relations, as we saw in the former Yugoslavia," Baker said. "The challenge for us was what could we take from our experiences in America to benefit what was going on in these societies."

The program's 18 participants visited Capitol Hill and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.; toured Little Italy and the Jewish Lower East Side in New York City; and explored Olvera Street and Chinatown in Los Angeles. They also visited the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and experienced Shabbat at the homes of local families.

Several participants, most of them young political leaders, said their meetings with ethnic and charitable organizations left some of the deepest impressions. In Washington, for instance, the group discussed race and ethnic issues with representatives from the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, Japanese American Citizens League and the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People.

At the Skirball Center, a panel about Hollywood's effect on pluralism was a "big hit," according to Steve Addison, the American Jewish Committee's director of international relations in Los Angeles.

Vic Bulluck, executive director of the NAACP's Hollywood office, said he outlined how his organization serves as a watchdog over media portrayals of African Americans and works with other ethnic groups to push minority hiring.

And at the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, Chief Executive Lorri L. Jean described the organization's successful legal fight more than three decades ago to win nonprofit status, which the federal government had denied, and its collaborative work with other groups to protest bias against immigrants, ethnic minorities and others.

To Julia Leferman, a National Liberal Party of Romania member, the dynamic role of U.S. nonprofit and community organizations in promoting tolerance was particularly instructive. In Romania, where the government officially recognizes 18 minority groups, people depend on the state to solve their problems, she said. She wondered aloud if the nation's Gypsies, formally known as Romas, might become more integrated into society with stronger networking among private minority organizations.

"In Romania, people depend on the state to solve their problems, including minorities," she said. "Here, communities are working together to better promote their interests without necessarily relying on the federal and state governments."

Milovanovic, a legal assistant at the Democratic Party of Serbia's Education Center, said he was impressed by discussions about common values and beliefs between Muslim and Jewish youth in Chicago.

"This is something we could do between Serbians and Albanians," he said. "We have so many common issues: unemployment, the pain we share on both sides. "It would require a lot of energy and strength to do this," he added, "but if we don't deal with it we'll be in constant danger of another cycle of violence."

And Colic, a political science student and Liberal Democratic party board member of Bosnia-Herzegovina, said he gained hope for the future between Bosnians and Serbs after seeing how the Jewish committee and German foundation had paired up to produce the tolerance program. He also was inspired by the educational power of the Holocaust Memorial, he said.

"We definitely need something like that so we can teach the next generation of kids what people can do to people ? so they can learn from the mistakes of their parents," he said. "I don't think it will happen soon, though, because everything is still fresh."

27402  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion on: November 26, 2006, 11:21:51 AM
I wasn't sure where to put this interesting piece, so here it is:
============

Islam's unlikely soul mate -- the pope
Both bemoaning the West's secularism, Benedict XIV and Mideast Muslims have a shot at true dialogue.
By John L. Allen Jr., JOHN L. ALLEN JR. is the Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and author of "The Rise of Benedict XVI."
November 26, 2006


Can jihad be redeemed? That is, can the religious and moral sense of purpose that often fuels Islamic extremism be leavened with a commitment to reason and peace, and can it be done without opening the door to gradual secularization? It's the

$64,000 question facing Islam, and it is, for the most part, one that only Muslims can answer.

One could make the case, however, that if anyone in the West can help, it's Pope Benedict XVI, despite the firestorm unleashed by his Sept. 12 comments on Islam. Benedict is the lone figure of global standing in the West who speaks from within the same thought-world that many Muslims sympathetic to the jihadists inhabit.

Benedict XVI will visit Turkey this week, his first trip to a majority Muslim state. And given the furor following his quotation of a 14th century Byzantine emperor that Muhammad brought "things only evil and inhuman," the pope will certainly have the Islamic world's attention. Much may ride on what he does with it.

A detour into the recent history of Islamic thought illustrates the potential for common ground.

Egyptian poet and essayist Sayyid Qutb, hanged by Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1966, is the father of modern Islamic radicalism. He spent 1948-50 in the United States attending Wilson Teachers College, the Colorado State College of Education (today the University of Northern Colorado) and Stanford University as part of an exchange program. Based on that experience, Qutb penned his famous tract, "The America I Have Seen," which still exercises a profound effect in shaping Muslim perceptions of American culture.

The work amounted to a ferocious attack on what Qutb called "the American man," depicted as obsessed with technology but virtually a barbarian in the realm of spirituality and human values. American society, for Qutb, was "rotten and ill" to its very core.

He wrote: "This great America: What is it worth in the scale of human values? And what does it add to the moral account of humanity? And, by the journey's end, what will its contribution be? I fear that a balance may not exist between America's material greatness and the quality of its people. And I fear that the wheel of life will have turned and the book of life will have closed and America will have added nothing, or next to nothing, to the account of morals that distinguishes man from object, and indeed, mankind from animals."

A particular zone of disgust for Qutb was what he saw as the sexual licentiousness of American culture (and this, bear in mind, was the early 1950s). He wrote that a society in which "immoral teachings and poisonous intentions are rampant" and in which sex is considered "outside the sphere of morality" is one in which "the humanity of man can hardly find a place to develop." Qutb said that "providing full opportunities for the development and perfection of human characteristics requires strong safeguards for the peace and stability of the family."

In general, Qutb's writing simmers with an outrage and extremism that no one would associate with the Old World, cerebral style of Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI. Yet for anyone familiar with Ratzinger's cultural criticism over the years, there is nevertheless something strikingly familiar in Qutb's polemic ? not so much with regard to America as with the West in general. What both figures share is a conviction that the West's cult of technology has produced a deep spiritual and moral crisis.

In his 1990 book, "In the Beginning," on the doctrine of creation, Ratzinger wrote of Western society: "The good and the moral no longer count, it seems, but only what one can do. The measure of a human being is what he can do, and not what he is, not what is good or bad. What he can do, he may do?. And that means that he is destroying himself and the world?. [The question] 'What can we do?' will be false and pernicious while we refrain from asking, 'Who are we?' The question of being and the question of our hopes are inseparable."

Ratzinger has even linked this argument to the question of birth control, saying that contraception is merely a mechanical solution to an ethical and cultural problem. In his 1997 book, "Salt of the Earth," he said: "One of our great perils [is] that we want to master the human condition with technology, that we have forgotten that there are primordial human problems that are not susceptible to technological solutions, but that demand a certain lifestyle and certain life decisions." Benedict XVI would thus find in Qutb a version ? admittedly in a sometimes irrational form ? of his own critique of the West.

This is the most compelling reason why Benedict's repeated insistence that he wants a "frank and sincere" dialogue with Islam is more than lip service. Fundamentally, the clash of cultures Benedict sees in the world today is not between Islam and the West but between belief and unbelief ? between a culture that grounds itself in God and religious belief and a culture that lives etsi Deus non daretur, "as if God does not exist." In that struggle, Benedict has long said, Muslims are natural allies.

Recently, for example, the Vatican vigorously protested a gay pride march in Jerusalem, arguing that such an event is "offensive to the great majority of Jews, Muslims and Christians." It's a classic example of an issue around which Benedict believes engagement with Muslims is possible.

Yet Benedict is also well aware that Islamic radicalism tends to discredit religious commitment in any form by associating it with violence and fanaticism. Hence, when Benedict presses Muslims to reject terrorism and to embrace religious liberty, he believes himself to be doing so not as a xenophobe or a crusader but as a friend of Islam, pressing it to realize the best version of itself.

That, no doubt, will be part of the argument he tries to make in Turkey.

If they could set aside their prejudices, at least some of the spiritual sons and daughters of Sayyid Qutb might well recognize a potential ally in Joseph Ratzinger ? and therein lies perhaps the last, best hope for Muslim-Christian dialogue under Benedict XVI.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
27403  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 26, 2006, 09:27:48 AM
Quijote:

The Thomas principle you cite has considerable merit of course.  Of course the flip side is sticking one's head in the sand or up one's butt when there really is a problem has its own drawbacks.  These are challenging times we live in.

I am reminded of mathematician Nash's prisoner's dilema game theory here and subsequent evolutions thereof.  In Nash's original thought experiement, the players play one time.  Do they choose win-win or zero sum?  Subsequent theoreticians of these things then researched what happens when the same players play each other repeatedly.  It turns out that the best strategy is "tit for tat"  i.e. I treat you as you treat me.  In an environment where the cultural context tends to assume win-win, then the first time the game is played, people tend to choose win-win.  Conversely, someone who plays win-win repeatedly in a zero sum environment tends to get fcuked.

For good people used to win-win mindset, the Thomas thereom you site seems self-evident.  But to repeatedly apply it with those who live by zero sum presents some real survival questions.

Marc

PS:  I would also add to the mix the economic policies that IIRC the French call "dirigiste" meaing a government directed quais-socialist economy.  IMHO these policies, such as extreme job security laws, high unemployment benefits, high mandated benefits, etc tend to be very destructive of job creation.  If I have my facts right, unemployment rates in countries such as France and Germany are over 10%, more than double that of the US.  (IIRC you are German, yet live in Switzerland (which is not part of the EU) because of the lack of job opportunity?)  In an environment lacking opportunity, exclusionary attitudes on the part of some are hard to avoid.
(A plausible case can be made that a part of the Paristinean Infitifada has much of its roots in these economics.)  Conversely, here in the US where job creation is much higher and unemployment much lower, Muslims are much better integrated.  Coincidence?  I suspect not.
27404  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Panantukan & Kali Tudo on: November 26, 2006, 09:06:39 AM
Keith:

I found the relevant thread on FMA & Boxing on page 10 at http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=206.0


Jeff:

You may find the following thread of interest:  http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=384.0

TAC!
27405  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Panantukan & Kali Tudo on: November 26, 2006, 08:56:17 AM
Woof Keith et al:

You wrote:

"Panantukan is my favorite aspect of the FMA's.  I love the way that the FMA empty-hand material is grafted so effectively onto a western boxing base."

Actually IMHO it goes the other way around-- boxing is an off-shoot of Panatukan.  (I suggest you go back and find the subtantial thread on this question-- I think you will find it well worth your time)  As a teacher my sense of things is that if someone installs boxing first there is a real risk that they will never truly operate in Panantukan mode.  My preference is to establish double stick first and then simply fight EH with those movements.  Equally valid are knife based Panantukan movements, the double stick movements are simply my personal preference alathough of course I do use some of the knife based movements.

"I recently purchased and have worked thru the Kali Tudo videos and was impressed with the content.  I'm looking to more installments in this series!"

Tail wags for the kind words-- and yes there are more installments in the pipeline  grin

"Having also seen and worked on the stick material, I know that the Dog Brother approach to some extent is to take the "traditional" drills and training methods and put them into the crucible of the fight and see what shakes out.   I've been impressed with the training drills that are presented on the stick videos that are obviously a "been there and done that" summary of what works.   So my question is this......How much of the Panantukan material has been found to hold up in a real fighting situation in the dog brother experience?   What has not been found to be reliably effective?"

Although some of my students have moments where they apply KT in the context of a DB fight, to be precise the basis for DB KT has been in my own EH sparring and in that of my students, especially Lonely Dog, DBMA Lakan Guro Jeff Brown (who has lots of other credentials as well) and C-DB Greg Brown (who currently is thinking about what name he wants).  My own experience has principally been at the R1 Gym and the code there quite properly excludes video cameras, so there is no footage of my research.  That said, IMHO Panatukan has considerable merit.

I suspect where the doubt originates for many people is that they have not hit people with sticks or knives with its movements, so when sparring EH they lack a certain understanding of application.  Thus efforts to apply it become "graftings" onto different idiomatic movements i.e. western boxing.


"On the Kali Tudo DVDs I didn't see limb destructions discussed.   Seems to me that this would be one aspect that would show up pretty well and really help the cage fighter.   After all, its very acceptable to pound a guy's quad with round kicks to reduce his mobility and kicking ability....why not pound a guy's biceps with elbow strikes to reduce his ability to punch?"

As you correctly note, many points are not addressed in our KT DVD.   I chose to emphasize footwork first-- which for most people requires quite a bit of focus in its own right.    Also, I wanted to communicate effectively with the MMA audience as well, and felt that putting in things such as destructions on top of the footwork would dilute the focus.  Limb destructions DO appear in DBMA's KT, but perhaps in a different way than you may be expecting wink

"Anyway....I realize that I have managed to write a rather rambling post."   

Not at all!

"The main thing I am interested is seeing discussed is the relationship between "traditional" Panantukan and the Kali Tudo approach to empty-hand fighting.   Thanks!"

Although there are/were good grappling methods in some of the FMA, my sense of things is that the modern MMA fighter takes grappling to a different level and that this requires adaptation on the part of Panantukan.  Modern MMA is full of people who drift shot under high line responses to strikes for single leg takedowns, double leg takedowns, fireman's carry throws, etc.  Against someone skillfully versed in such skills, to go for a noogie (venerable ancient term of my youth long ago in New York City) of the bicep may have a risky cost/benefit ratio.

Does this help?

TAC,
Guro Crafty

Keith
27406  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: What it takes to make a student on: November 26, 2006, 07:58:03 AM
Page 7 of 9)

Toll and Levin are influenced by the writings of a psychology professor from the University of Pennsylvania named Martin Seligman, the author of a series of books about positive psychology. Seligman, one of the first modern psychologists to study happiness, promotes a technique he calls learned optimism, and Toll and Levin consider it an essential part of the attitude they are trying to instill in their students. Last year, a graduate student of Seligman?s named Angela Duckworth published with Seligman a research paper that demonstrated a guiding principle of these charter schools: in many situations, attitude is just as important as ability. Duckworth studied 164 eighth-grade students in Philadelphia, tracking each child?s I.Q. as well as his or her score on a test that measured self-discipline and then correlating those two numbers with the student?s G.P.A. Surprisingly, she found that the self-discipline scores were a more accurate predictor of G.P.A. than the I.Q. scores by a factor of two. Duckworth?s paper connects with a new wave of research being done around the country showing that ?noncognitive? abilities like self-control, adaptability, patience and openness ? the kinds of qualities that middle-class parents pass on to their children every day, in all kinds of subtle and indirect ways ? have a huge and measurable impact on a child?s future success.


Levin considers Duckworth?s work an indication of the practical side of the ?character? education he and Toll and Atkins are engaged in: they want their students to be well behaved and hard-working and respectful because it?s a good way to live but also because the evidence is clear that people who act that way get higher marks in school and better jobs after school. To Toll, a solid character is a basic building block of her students? education. ?I think we have to teach work ethic in the same way we have to teach adding fractions with unlike denominators,? she told me. ?But once children have got the work ethic and the commitment to others and to education down, it?s actually pretty easy to teach them. ?


The schools that Toll, Atkins, Levin and Feinberg run are not racially integrated. Most of the 70 or so schools that make up their three networks have only one or two white children enrolled, or none at all. Although as charter schools, their admission is open through a lottery to any student in the cities they serve, their clear purpose is to educate poor black and Hispanic children. The guiding principle for the four school leaders, all of whom are white, is an unexpected twist on the ?separate but equal? standard: they assert that for these students, an ?equal? education is not good enough. Students who enter middle school significantly behind grade level don?t need the same good education that most American middle-class students receive; they need a better education, because they need to catch up. Toll, especially, is preoccupied with the achievement gap: her schools? stated mission is to close the gap entirely. ?The promise in America is that if you work hard, if you make good decisions, that you?ll be able to be successful,? Toll explained to me. ?And given the current state of public education in a lot of our communities, that promise is just not true. There?s not a level playing field.? In Toll?s own career, in fact, the goal of achieving equality came first, and the tool of education came later. When she was at Yale Law School, her plan was to become a civil rights lawyer, but she concluded that she could have more of an impact on the nation?s inequities by founding a charter school.

The methods these educators use seem to work: students at their schools consistently score well on statewide standardized tests. At North Star this year, 93 percent of eighth-grade students were proficient in language arts, compared with 83 percent of students in New Jersey as a whole; in math, 77 percent were proficient, compared with 71 percent of students in the state as a whole. At Amistad, proficiency scores for the sixth grade over the last few years range between the mid-30s and mid-40s, only a bit better than the averages for New Haven; by the eighth grade, they are in the 60s, 70s and 80s ? in every case exceeding Connecticut?s average (itself one of the highest in the country). At KIPP?s Bronx academy, the sixth, seventh and eighth grades had proficiency rates at least 12 percentage points above the state average on this year?s statewide tests. And when the scores are compared with the scores of the specific high-poverty cities or neighborhoods where the schools are located ? in Newark, New Haven or the Bronx ? it isn?t even close: 86 percent of eighth-grade students at KIPP Academy scored at grade level in math this year, compared with 16 percent of students in the South Bronx.

The leaders of this informal network are now wrestling with an unintended consequence of their schools? positive results and high profiles: their incoming students are sometimes too good. At some schools, students arrive scoring better than typical children in their neighborhoods, presumably because the school?s reputation is attracting more-engaged parents with better-prepared kids to its admission lottery. Even though almost every student at the KIPP Academy in the Bronx, for example, is from a low-income family, and all but a few are either black or Hispanic, and most enter below grade level, they are still a step above other kids in the neighborhood; on their math tests in the fourth grade (the year before they arrived at KIPP), KIPP students in the Bronx scored well above the average for the district, and on their fourth-grade reading tests they often scored above the average for the entire city.

=======

In most schools, well-prepared incoming students would be seen as good news. But at these charter schools, they can be a mixed blessing. Although the schools have demonstrated an impressive and consistent ability to turn below-average poor minority students into above-average students, another part of their mission is to show that even the most academically challenged students can succeed using their methods. But if not enough of those students are attending their schools, it?s hard to make that point. North Star?s leaders say this problem doesn?t apply to them: the school?s fifth-grade students come in with scores that are no higher than the Newark average. At KIPP, Levin and other officials I talked to say that their schools do what they can to recruit applicants who are representative of the neighborhoods they serve, but they also say that once a class is chosen (and at all the charter schools, it is chosen by random lottery), their job is to educate those children to the best of their ability. Dacia Toll is more focused on the issue; she says that she and her principals make a special effort to recruit students from particularly blighted neighborhoods and housing projects in New Haven and Brooklyn and told me that it would ?absolutely be a cause for concern? if Amistad seemed to be attracting students who were better-prepared than average.



The most persistent critic of KIPP?s record has been Richard Rothstein, a former education columnist for The New York Times who is now a lecturer at Teachers College. He has asserted that KIPP?s model cannot be replicated on a wide scale and argues that the elevated incoming scores at the Bronx school make it mostly irrelevant to the national debate over the achievement gap. Although Rothstein acknowledges that KIPP?s students are chosen by lottery, he contends in his book ?Class and Schools? that they are ?not typical lower-class students.? The very fact that their parents would bother to enroll them in the lottery sets them apart from other inner-city children, he says, adding that there is ?no evidence? that KIPP?s strategy ?would be as successful for students whose parents are not motivated to choose such a school.?

In some ways, the debate seems a trivial one ? KIPP is clearly doing a great job of educating its students; do the incoming scores at a single school really matter? But in fact, KIPP, along with Uncommon Schools and Achievement First, is now at the center of a heated political debate over just how much schools can accomplish, and that has brought with it a new level of public scrutiny. Beginning in the late 1990s, KIPP, Amistad and North Star were embraced by advocates from the right who believed in the whole menu of conservative positions on education: school choice, vouchers, merit pay for teachers. In 2001, the Heritage Foundation profiled the KIPP schools in a book called ?No Excuses: Lessons From 21 High-Performing, High-Poverty Schools,? which set out to disprove ?the perennial claims of the education establishment that poor children are uneducable.? Two years later, Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom, the well-known conservative writers about race, borrowed the Heritage Foundation?s title (which was itself borrowed from a slogan popular at KIPP and other schools) for their own book on education, ?No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning?; the book used the success of Amistad, North Star and, especially, KIPP to highlight the failings of the public-school system in serving poor children. If KIPP can successfully educate these kids, the Thernstroms asked, why can?t every school?

The Thernstroms argue that if we can just fix the schools where poor children are educated, it will become much easier to solve all the other problems of poverty. The opposing argument, which Rothstein and others have made, is that the problems of poor minority kids are simply too great to be overcome by any school, no matter how effective. He points to the work of Hart and Risley and Lareau and argues that the achievement gap can be significantly diminished only by correcting, or at least addressing, the deep inequities that divide the races and the classes.

==========

Page 9 of 9)



Levin and Toll sometimes seem surprised by the political company they are now keeping ? and by the opponents they have attracted. ?I?m a total liberal!? Toll said, a little defensively, when I asked her recently about this political divide. Many charter advocates claim that the views of Democratic politicians on charter schools are clouded by the fact that they depend for both money and votes on the nation?s teachers? unions, which are skeptical of charter schools and in some states have taken steps to block them from expanding. In Connecticut, the state teachers? union this year lobbied against a legislative change to allow for the expansion of Amistad Academy (it later passed), and the union?s lawyers filed a Freedom of Information Act request that required Amistad to turn over all of its employment and pay records. The union?s chief lobbyist told reporters in April that the state?s charter law was intended only ?to create incubators of innovation. It was never to create a charter-school system.? Amistad was acceptable as a small experiment, in other words, but there was no reason to let it grow.

Even if schools like KIPP are allowed to expand to meet the demand in the educational marketplace ? all of them have long waiting lists ? it is hard to imagine that, alone, they will be able to make much of a dent in the problem of the achievement gap; there are, after all, millions of poor and minority public-school students who aren?t getting the education they need either at home or in the classroom. What these charter schools demonstrate, though, is the effort that would be required to provide those students with that education.
Toll put it this way: ?We want to change the conversation from ?You can?t educate these kids? to ?You can only educate these kids if. ...? ? And to a great extent, she and the other principals have done so. The message inherent in the success of their schools is that if poor students are going to catch up, they will require not the same education that middle-class children receive but one that is considerably better; they need more time in class than middle-class students, better-trained teachers and a curriculum that prepares them psychologically and emotionally, as well as intellectually, for the challenges ahead of them.

Right now, of course, they are not getting more than middle-class students; they are getting less. For instance, nationwide, the best and most experienced teachers are allowed to choose where they teach. And since most state contracts offer teachers no bonus or incentive for teaching in a school with a high population of needy children, the best teachers tend to go where they are needed the least. A study that the Education Trust issued in June used data from Illinois to demonstrate the point. Illinois measures the quality of its teachers and divides their scores into four quartiles, and those numbers show glaring racial inequities. In majority-white schools, bad teachers are rare: just 11 percent of the teachers are in the lowest quartile. But in schools with practically no white students, 88 percent of the teachers are in the worst quartile. The same disturbing pattern holds true in terms of poverty. At schools where more than 90 percent of the students are poor ? where excellent teachers are needed the most ? just 1 percent of teachers are in the highest quartile.


Government spending on education does not tend to compensate for these inequities; in fact, it often makes them worse. Goodwin Liu, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, has compiled persuasive evidence for what he calls the country?s ?education apartheid.? In states with more poor children, spending per pupil is lower. In Mississippi, for instance, it is $5,391 a year; in Connecticut, it is $9,588. Most education financing comes from state and local governments, but the federal supplement for poor children, Title 1, is ?regressive,? Liu points out, because it is tied to the amount each state spends. So the federal government gives Arkansas $964 to help educate each poor child in the state, and it gives Massachusetts $2,048 for each poor child there.

Without making a much more serious commitment to the education of poor and minority students, it is hard to see how the federal government will be able to deliver on the promise contained in No Child Left Behind. The law made states responsible for turning their poorest children into accomplished scholars in a little more than a decade ? a national undertaking on the order of a moon landing ? but provided them with little assistance or even direction as to how they might accomplish that goal. And recently, many advocates have begun to argue that the Education Department has quietly given up on No Child Left Behind.

The most malignant element of the original law was that it required all states to achieve proficiency but then allowed each state to define proficiency for itself. It took state governments a couple of years to realize just what that meant, but now they have caught on ? and many of them are engaged in an ignoble competition to see which state can demand the least of its students. At the head of this pack right now is Mississippi, which has declared 89 percent of its fourth-grade students to be proficient readers, the highest percentage in the nation, while in fact, the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows that only 18 percent of Mississippi fourth graders know how to read at an appropriate level ? the second-lowest score of any state. In the past year, Arizona, Maryland, Ohio, North Dakota and Idaho all followed Mississippi?s lead and slashed their standards in order to allow themselves to label uneducated students educated. The federal government has permitted these maneuvers, and after several years of tough talk about enforcing the law?s standards, the Education Department has in the past year begun cutting one deal after another with states that want to redefine ?success? for their schools. (When I spoke to Spellings this month, she said she would ?appeal to the better angels of governors and state policy makers? to keep their standards in line with national benchmarks.)

The absence of any robust federal effort to improve high-poverty schools undercuts and distorts the debate over the responsibility for their problems. It is true, as the Thernstroms write in their book, that ?dysfunctional families and poverty are no excuse for widespread, chronic educational failure.? But while those factors are not an excuse, they?re certainly an explanation; as researchers like Lareau and Brooks-Gunn have made clear, poverty and dysfunction are enormous disadvantages for any child to overcome. When Levin and Feinberg began using the slogan ?No Excuses? in the mid-1990s, they intended it to motivate their students and teachers, to remind them that within the context of a KIPP school, there would always be a way to achieve success. But when the conservative education movement adopted ?No Excuses? as a slogan, the phrase was used much more broadly: if that rural Arkansas public school isn?t achieving the success of a KIPP school, those responsible for its underachievement must simply be making excuses. The slogan came to suggest that what is going wrong in the schools is simply some sort of failure of will ? that teachers don?t want to work hard, or don?t believe in their students, or are succumbing to what the president calls ?the soft bigotry of low expectations? ? while the reality is that even the best, most motivated educator, given just six hours a day and 10 months a year and nothing more than the typical resources provided to a public-school teacher, would find it near impossible to educate an average classroom of poor minority students up to the level of their middle-class peers.

The evidence is now overwhelming that if you take an average low-income child and put him into an average American public school, he will almost certainly come out poorly educated. What the small but growing number of successful schools demonstrate is that the public-school system accomplishes that result because we have built it that way. We could also decide to create a different system, one that educates most (if not all) poor minority students to high levels of achievement. It is not yet entirely clear what that system might look like ? it might include not only KIPP-like structures and practices but also high-quality early-childhood education, as well as incentives to bring the best teachers to the worst schools ? but what is clear is that it is within reach.

Although the failure of No Child Left Behind now seems more likely than not, it is not too late for it to succeed. We know now, in a way that we did not when the law was passed, what it would take to make it work. And if the law does, in the end, fail ? if in 2014 only 20 or 30 or 40 percent of the country?s poor and minority students are proficient, then we will need to accept that its failure was not an accident and was not inevitable, but was the outcome we chose.

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27407  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: What it takes to make a student on: November 26, 2006, 07:57:15 AM
Page 4 of 9)

In her book ?Unequal Childhoods,? published in 2003, Lareau described the costs and benefits of each approach and concluded that the natural-growth method had many advantages. Concerted cultivation, she wrote, ?places intense labor demands on busy parents. ... Middle-class children argue with their parents, complain about their parents? incompetence and disparage parents? decisions.? Working-class and poor children, by contrast, ?learn how to be members of informal peer groups. They learn how to manage their own time. They learn how to strategize.? But outside the family unit, Lareau wrote, the advantages of ?natural growth? disappear. In public life, the qualities that middle-class children develop are consistently valued over the ones that poor and working-class children develop. Middle-class children become used to adults taking their concerns seriously, and so they grow up with a sense of entitlement, which gives them a confidence, in the classroom and elsewhere, that less-wealthy children lack. The cultural differences translate into a distinct advantage for middle-class children in school, on standardized achievement tests and, later in life, in the workplace.


Taken together, the conclusions of these researchers can be a little unsettling. Their work seems to reduce a child?s upbringing, which to a parent can feel something like magic, to a simple algorithm: give a child X, and you get Y. Their work also suggests that the disadvantages that poverty imposes on children aren?t primarily about material goods. True, every poor child would benefit from having more books in his home and more nutritious food to eat (and money certainly makes it easier to carry out a program of concerted cultivation). But the real advantages that middle-class children gain come from more elusive processes: the language that their parents use, the attitudes toward life that they convey. However you measure child-rearing, middle-class parents tend to do it differently than poor parents ? and the path they follow in turn tends to give their children an array of advantages. As Lareau points out, kids from poor families might be nicer, they might be happier, they might be more polite ? but in countless ways, the manner in which they are raised puts them at a disadvantage in the measures that count in contemporary American society.


What would it take to overcome these disadvantages? Does poverty itself need to be eradicated, or can its effects on children somehow be counteracted? Can the culture of child-rearing be changed in poor neighborhoods, and if so, is that a project that government or community organizations have the ability, or the right, to take on? Is it enough simply to educate poor children in the same way that middle-class children are educated? And can any school, on its own, really provide an education to poor minority students that would allow them to achieve the same results as middle-class students?

There is, in fact, evidence emerging that some schools are succeeding at the difficult task of educating poor minority students to high levels of achievement. But there is still great disagreement about just how many schools are pulling this off and what those successful schools mean for the rest of the American education system. One well-publicized evaluation of those questions has come from the Education Trust, a policy group in Washington that has issued a series of reports making the case that there are plenty of what they call ?high flying? schools, which they define as high-poverty or high-minority schools whose students score in the top third of all schools in their state. The group?s landmark report, published in December 2001, identified 1,320 ?high flying? schools nationwide that were both high-poverty and high minority. This was a big number, and it had a powerful effect on the debate over the achievement gap. The pessimists ? those who believed that the disadvantages of poverty were all but impossible to overcome in public schools ? were dealt a serious blow. If the report?s figures held up, it meant that high achievement for poor minority kids was not some one-in-a-million occurrence; it was happening all the time, all around us.

But in the years since the report?s release, its conclusions have been challenged by scholars and analysts who have argued that the Education Trust made it too easy to be included on their list. To be counted as a high-flier, a school needed to receive a high score in only one subject in one grade in one year. If your school had a good fourth-grade reading score, it was on the list, even if all its other scores were mediocre. To many researchers, that was an unconvincing standard of academic success. Douglas Harris, a professor of education and economics at Florida State University, pored over Education Trust?s data, trying to ascertain how many of the high-flying schools were able to register consistently good numbers. When he tightened the definition of success to include only schools that had high scores in two subjects in two different grades over two different years, Harris could find only 23 high-poverty, high-minority schools in the Education Trust?s database, a long way down from 1,320.



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That number isn?t exhaustive; Harris says he has no doubt that there are some great schools that slipped through his data sieve. But his results still point to a very different story than the one the original report told. Education Trust officials intended their data to refute the idea that family background is the leading cause of student performance. But on closer examination, their data largely confirm that idea, demonstrating clearly that the best predictors of a school?s achievement scores are the race and wealth of its student body. A public school that enrolls mostly well-off white kids has a 1 in 4 chance of earning consistently high test scores, Harris found; a school with mostly poor minority kids has a 1 in 300 chance.



Despite those long odds, the last decade ? and especially the last few years ? have seen the creation of dozens, even hundreds, of schools across the country dedicated to precisely that mission: delivering consistently high results with a population that generally achieves consistently low results. The schools that have taken on this mission most aggressively tend to be charter schools ? the publicly financed, privately run institutions that make up one of the most controversial educational experiments of our time. Because charters exist outside the control of public-school boards and are generally not required to adhere to union contracts with their teachers, they have attracted significant opposition, and their opponents are able to point to plenty of evidence that the charter project has failed. Early charter advocates claimed the schools would raise test scores across the board, and that hasn?t happened; nationally, scores for charter-school students are the same as or lower than scores for public-school students. But by another measure, charter schools have succeeded: by allowing educators to experiment in ways that they generally can?t inside public-school systems, they have led to the creation of a small but growing corps of schools with new and ambitious methods for educating students facing real academic challenges.

In the early years of the charter-school movement, every school was an island, trying out its own mad or brilliant educational theory. But as charter-school proponents have studied the successes and learned from the mistakes of their predecessors, patterns, even a consensus, have begun to emerge. The schools that are achieving the most impressive results with poor and minority students tend to follow three practices. First, they require many more hours of class time than a typical public school. The school day starts early, at 8 a.m. or before, and often continues until after 4 p.m. These schools offer additional tutoring after school as well as classes on Saturday mornings, and summer vacation usually lasts only about a month. The schools try to leaven those long hours with music classes, foreign languages, trips and sports, but they spend a whole lot of time going over the basics: reading and math.

Second, they treat classroom instruction and lesson planning as much as a science as an art. Explicit goals are set for each year, month and day of each class, and principals have considerable authority to redirect and even remove teachers who aren?t meeting those goals. The schools? leaders believe in frequent testing, which, they say, lets them measure what is working and what isn?t, and they use test results to make adjustments to the curriculum as they go. Teachers are trained and retrained, frequently observed and assessed by their principals and superintendents. There is an emphasis on results but also on ?team building? and cooperation and creativity, and the schools seem, to an outsider at least, like genuinely rewarding places to work, despite the long hours. They tend to attract young, enthusiastic teachers, including many alumni of Teach for America, the program that recruits graduates from top universities to work for two years in inner-city public schools.

Third, they make a conscious effort to guide the behavior, and even the values, of their students by teaching what they call character. Using slogans, motivational posters, incentives, encouragements and punishments, the schools direct students in everything from the principles of teamwork and the importance of an optimistic outlook to the nuts and bolts of how to sit in class, where to direct their eyes when a teacher is talking and even how to nod appropriately.

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The schools are, in the end, a counterintuitive combination of touchy-feely idealism and intense discipline. Their guiding philosophy is in many ways a reflection of the findings of scholars like Lareau and Hart and Risley ? like those academics, these school leaders see childhood as a series of inputs and outputs. When students enroll in one of these schools (usually in fifth or sixth grade), they are often two or more grade levels behind. Usually they have missed out on many of the millions of everyday intellectual and emotional stimuli that their better-off peers have been exposed to since birth. They are, educationally speaking, in deep trouble. The schools reject the notion that all that these struggling students need are high expectations; they do need those, of course, but they also need specific types and amounts of instruction, both in academics and attitude, to compensate for everything they did not receive in their first decade of life.



It is still too early in the history of this nascent movement to say which schools are going to turn out to be the most successful with this new approach to the education of poor children. But so far, the most influential schools are the ones run by KIPP, or the Knowledge Is Power Program. KIPP?s founders, David Levin and Michael Feinberg, met in 1992, when they were young college graduates enrolled in Teach for America, working in inner-city public schools in Houston. They struggled at first as teachers but were determined to figure out how to motivate and educate their students. Each night they would compare notes on what worked in the classroom ? songs, games, chants, rewards ? and, before long, both of them became expert classroom instructors.

In the fall of 1994, Levin and Feinberg started a middle school in Houston, teaching just 50 students, and they named it KIPP. A year later, Levin moved to New York and started the second KIPP school, in the South Bronx. As the KIPP schools grew, Levin and Feinberg adhered to a few basic principles: their mission was to educate low-income and minority students. They would emphasize measurable results. And they would promise to do whatever it took to help their students succeed. They offered an extended day and an extended year that provided KIPP students with about 60 percent more time in school than most public-school students. They set clear and strict rules of conduct: their two principles of behavior were ?Work Hard? and ?Be Nice,? and all the other rules flowed out of those. At the beginning of each year, parents and students signed a pledge ? unenforceable but generally taken seriously ? committing to certain standards of hard work and behavior. Teachers gave students their cellphone numbers so students could call them at night for homework help.

The methods raised students? test scores, and the schools began to attract the attention of the media and of philanthropists. A ?60 Minutes? report on the schools in 1999 led to a $15 million grant from Doris and Donald Fisher, the founders of the Gap, and Feinberg and Levin began gradually to expand KIPP into a national network. Two years ago, they received $8 million from the Gates Foundation to create up to eight KIPP high schools. There are now 52 KIPP schools across the country, almost all middle schools, and together they are educating 12,000 children. The network is run on a franchise model; each school?s principal has considerable autonomy, while quality control is exercised from the home office in San Francisco. Feinberg is the superintendent of KIPP?s eight schools in Houston, and Levin is the superintendent of the four New York City schools.

KIPP is part of a loose coalition with two other networks of charter schools based in and around New York City. One is Achievement First, which grew out of the success of Amistad Academy, a charter school in New Haven that was founded in 1999. Achievement First now runs six schools in New Haven and Brooklyn. The other network is Uncommon Schools, which was started by a founder of North Star Academy in Newark along with principals from three acclaimed charter schools in Massachusetts; it now includes seven schools in Rochester, Newark and Brooklyn. The connections among the three networks are mostly informal, based on the friendships that bind Levin to Norman Atkins, the former journalist who founded North Star, and to Dacia Toll, the Rhodes scholar and Yale Law graduate who started Amistad with Doug McCurry, a former teacher. Toll and Atkins visited Levin at the Bronx KIPP Academy when they were setting up their original schools and studied the methods he was using; they later sent their principals to the leadership academy that Levin and Feinberg opened in 2000, and they have continued to model many of their practices on KIPP?s. Now the schools are beginning to formalize their ties. As they each expand their charters to include high schools, Levin, Toll and Atkins are working on a plan to bring students from all three networks together under one roof.


Students at both KIPP and Achievement First schools follow a system for classroom behavior invented by Levin and Feinberg called Slant, which instructs them to sit up, listen, ask questions, nod and track the speaker with their eyes. When I visited KIPP Academy last month, I was standing with Levin at the front of a music class of about 60 students, listening to him talk, when he suddenly interrupted himself and pointed at me. ?Do you notice what he?s doing right now?? he asked the class.

They all called out at once, ?Nodding!?

Levin?s contention is that Americans of a certain background learn these methods for taking in information early on and employ them instinctively. KIPP students, he says, need to be taught the methods explicitly. And so it is a little unnerving to stand at the front of a KIPP class; every eye is on you. When a student speaks, every head swivels to watch her. To anyone raised in the principles of progressive education, the uniformity and discipline in KIPP classrooms can be off-putting. But the kids I spoke to said they use the Slant method not because they fear they will be punished otherwise but because it works: it helps them to learn. (They may also like the feeling of having their classmates? undivided attention when they ask or answer a question.) When Levin asked the music class to demonstrate the opposite of Slanting ? ?Give us the normal school look,? he said ? the students, in unison, all started goofing off, staring into space and slouching. Middle-class Americans know intuitively that ?good behavior? is mostly a game with established rules; the KIPP students seemed to be experiencing the pleasure of being let in on a joke.

Still, Levin says that the innovations a visitor to a KIPP school might notice first ? the Slanting and the walls festooned with slogans and mottos (?Team Always Beats Individual,? ?All of Us Will Learn?) and the orderly rows of students walking in the hallways ? are not the only things contributing to the schools? success. Equally important, he says, are less visible practices: clear and coherent goals for each class; teachers who work 15 to 16 hours a day; careful lesson planning; and a decade?s worth of techniques, tricks, games and chants designed to help vast amounts of information penetrate poorly educated brains very quickly.

27408  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / What it takes to make a student on: November 26, 2006, 07:56:17 AM
What It Takes to Make a Student
Today's NY Times
By PAUL TOUGH
Published: November 26, 2006
On the morning of Oct. 5, President Bush and his education secretary, Margaret Spellings, paid a visit, along with camera crews from CNN and Fox News, to Friendship-Woodridge Elementary and Middle Campus, a charter public school in Washington. The president dropped in on two classrooms, where he asked the students, almost all of whom were African-American and poor, if they were planning to go to college. Every hand went up. ?See, that?s a good sign,? the president told the students when they assembled later in the gym. ?Going to college is an important goal for the future of the United States of America.? He singled out one student, a black eighth grader named Asia Goode, who came to Woodridge four years earlier reading ?well below grade level.? But things had changed for Asia, according to the president. ?Her teachers stayed after school to tutor her, and she caught up,? he said. ?Asia is now an honors student. She loves reading, and she sings in the school choir.?


KIPP's mission is to give students like these fifth to eighth graders in the South Bronx an even better education than their white middle-class counterparts.


MOTTOS MATTER But coherent goals, clear lesson plans and teachers willing to put in 15-hour days matter even more at KIPP schools.

Bush?s Woodridge trip came in the middle of a tough midterm election campaign, and there was certainly some short-term political calculation in being photographed among smiling black faces. But this was more than a photo opportunity. The president had come to Woodridge to talk about the most ambitious piece of domestic legislation his administration had enacted after almost six years in office: No Child Left Behind. The controversial education law, which established a series of standards for schools and states to meet and a variety of penalties for falling short, is up for reauthorization next year in front of a potentially hostile Congress, and for the law to win approval again, the White House will have to convince Americans that it is working ? and also convince them of exactly what, in this case, ?working? really means.

When the law took effect, at the beginning of 2002, official Washington was preoccupied with foreign affairs, and many people in government, and many outside it too, including the educators most affected by the legislation, seemed slow to take notice of its most revolutionary provision: a pledge to eliminate, in just 12 years, the achievement gap between black and white students, and the one between poor and middle-class students. By 2014, the president vowed, African-American, Hispanic and poor children, all of whom were at the time scoring well below their white counterparts and those in the middle class on standardized tests, would not only catch up with the rest of the nation; they would also reach 100 percent proficiency in both math and reading. It was a startling commitment, and it made the promise in the law?s title a literal one: the federal government would not allow a single American child to be educated to less than that high standard.

It was this element of the law that the president had come to Woodridge to talk about. ?There?s an achievement gap in America that?s not good for the future of this country,? he told the crowd. ?Some kids can read at grade level, and some can?t. And that?s unsatisfactory.?

But there was good news, the president concluded: ?I?m proud to report the achievement gap between white kids and minority students is closing, for the good of the United States.?

This contention ? that the achievement gap is on its way to the dustbin of history ? is one that Bush and Spellings have expressed frequently in the past year. And the gap better be closing: the law is coming up on its fifth anniversary. In just seven more years, if the promise of No Child Left Behind is going to be kept, the performances of white and black students have to be indistinguishable.

But despite the glowing reports from the White House and the Education Department, the most recent iteration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the test of fourth- and eighth-grade students commonly referred to as the nation?s report card, is not reassuring. In 2002, when No Child Left Behind went into effect, 13 percent of the nation?s black eighth-grade students were ?proficient? in reading, the assessment?s standard measure of grade-level competence. By 2005 (the latest data), that number had dropped to 12 percent. (Reading proficiency among white eighth-grade students dropped to 39 percent, from 41 percent.) The gap between economic classes isn?t disappearing, either: in 2002, 17 percent of poor eighth-grade students (measured by eligibility for free or reduced-price school lunches) were proficient in reading; in 2005, that number fell to 15 percent.

The most promising indications in the national test could be found in the fourth-grade math results, in which the percentage of poor students at the proficient level jumped to 19 percent in 2005, from 8 percent in 2000; for black students, the number jumped to 13 percent, from 5 percent. This was a significant increase, but it was still far short of the proficiency figure for white students, which rose to 47 percent in 2005, and it was a long way from 100 percent.

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In the first few years of this decade, two parallel debates about the achievement gap have emerged. The first is about causes; the second is about cures. The first has been taking place in academia, among economists and anthropologists and sociologists who are trying to figure out exactly where the gap comes from, why it exists and why it persists. The second is happening among and around a loose coalition of schools, all of them quite new, all established with the goal of wiping out the achievement gap altogether.


MODEL BEHAVIOR Kids like Niya Henry, a second grader at an Achievement First charter school in Brooklyn, learn a system for conduct -- to nod while listening to the teacher, for example -- along with reading and math.



The two debates seem barely to overlap ? the principals don?t pay much attention to the research papers being published in scholarly journals, and the academics have yet to study closely what is going on in these schools. Examined together, though, they provide a complete and nuanced picture, sometimes disheartening, sometimes hopeful, of what the president and his education officials are up against as they strive to keep the promise they have made. The academics have demonstrated just how deeply pervasive and ingrained are the intellectual and academic disadvantages that poor and minority students must overcome to compete with their white and middle-class peers. The divisions between black and white and rich and poor begin almost at birth, and they are reinforced every day of a child?s life. And yet the schools provide evidence that the president is, in his most basic understanding of the problem, entirely right: the achievement gap can be overcome, in a convincing way, for large numbers of poor and minority students, not in generations but in years. What he and others seem not to have apprehended quite yet is the magnitude of the effort that will be required for that change to take place.

But the evidence is becoming difficult to ignore: when educators do succeed at educating poor minority students up to national standards of proficiency, they invariably use methods that are radically different and more intensive than those employed in most American public schools. So as the No Child Left Behind law comes up for reauthorization next year, Americans are facing an increasingly stark choice: is the nation really committed to guaranteeing that all of the country?s students will succeed to the same high level? And if so, how hard are we willing to work, and what resources are we willing to commit, to achieve that goal?


In the years after World War II, and especially after the civil rights reforms of the 1960s, black Americans? standardized-test scores improved steadily and significantly, compared with those of whites. But at some point in the late 1980s, after decades of progress, the narrowing of the gap stalled, and between 1988 and 1994 black reading scores actually fell by a sizable amount on the national assessment. What had appeared to be an inexorable advance toward equality had run out of steam, and African-American schoolchildren seemed to be stuck well behind their white peers.

The issue was complicated by the fact that there are really two overlapping test-score gaps: the one between black children and white children, and the one between poor children and better-off children. Given that those categories tend to overlap ? black children are three times as likely to grow up in poverty as white children ? many people wondered whether focusing on race was in fact a useful approach. Why not just concentrate on correcting the academic disadvantages of poor people? Solve those, and the black-white gap will solve itself.

There had, in fact, been evidence for a long time that poor children fell behind rich and middle-class children early, and stayed behind. But researchers had been unable to isolate the reasons for the divergence. Did rich parents have better genes? Did they value education more? Was it that rich parents bought more books and educational toys for their children? Was it because they were more likely to stay married than poor parents? Or was it that rich children ate more nutritious food? Moved less often? Watched less TV? Got more sleep? Without being able to identify the important factors and eliminate the irrelevant ones, there was no way even to begin to find a strategy to shrink the gap.

Researchers began peering deep into American homes, studying up close the interactions between parents and children. The first scholars to emerge with a specific culprit in hand were Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley, child psychologists at the University of Kansas, who in 1995 published the results of an intensive research project on language acquisition. Ten years earlier, they recruited 42 families with newborn children in Kansas City, and for the following three years they visited each family once a month, recording absolutely everything that occurred between the child and the parent or parents. The researchers then transcribed each encounter and analyzed each child?s language development and each parent?s communication style. They found, first, that vocabulary growth differed sharply by class and that the gap between the classes opened early. By age 3, children whose parents were professionals had vocabularies of about 1,100 words, and children whose parents were on welfare had vocabularies of about 525 words. The children?s I.Q.?s correlated closely to their vocabularies. The average I.Q. among the professional children was 117, and the welfare children had an average I.Q. of 79.



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When Hart and Risley then addressed the question of just what caused those variations, the answer they arrived at was startling. By comparing the vocabulary scores with their observations of each child?s home life, they were able to conclude that the size of each child?s vocabulary correlated most closely to one simple factor: the number of words the parents spoke to the child. That varied greatly across the homes they visited, and again, it varied by class. In the professional homes, parents directed an average of 487 ?utterances? ? anything from a one-word command to a full soliloquy ? to their children each hour. In welfare homes, the children heard 178 utterances per hour.



What should the government be doing to ensure a quality education for all children?
What?s more, the kinds of words and statements that children heard varied by class. The most basic difference was in the number of ?discouragements? a child heard ? prohibitions and words of disapproval ? compared with the number of encouragements, or words of praise and approval. By age 3, the average child of a professional heard about 500,000 encouragements and 80,000 discouragements. For the welfare children, the situation was reversed: they heard, on average, about 75,000 encouragements and 200,000 discouragements. Hart and Risley found that as the number of words a child heard increased, the complexity of that language increased as well. As conversation moved beyond simple instructions, it blossomed into discussions of the past and future, of feelings, of abstractions, of the way one thing causes another ? all of which stimulated intellectual development.

Hart and Risley showed that language exposure in early childhood correlated strongly with I.Q. and academic success later on in a child?s life. Hearing fewer words, and a lot of prohibitions and discouragements, had a negative effect on I.Q.; hearing lots of words, and more affirmations and complex sentences, had a positive effect on I.Q. The professional parents were giving their children an advantage with every word they spoke, and the advantage just kept building up.

In the years since Hart and Risley published their findings, social scientists have examined other elements of the parent-child relationship, and while their methods have varied, their conclusions all point to big class differences in children?s intellectual growth. Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, a professor at Teachers College, has overseen hundreds of interviews of parents and collected thousands of hours of videotape of parents and children, and she and her research team have graded each one on a variety of scales. Their conclusion: Children from more well-off homes tend to experience parental attitudes that are more sensitive, more encouraging, less intrusive and less detached ? all of which, they found, serves to increase I.Q. and school-readiness. They analyzed the data to see if there was something else going on in middle-class homes that could account for the advantage but found that while wealth does matter, child-rearing style matters more.

Martha Farah, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, has built on Brooks-Gunn?s work, using the tools of neuroscience to calculate exactly which skills poorer children lack and which parental behaviors affect the development of those skills. She has found, for instance, that the ?parental nurturance? that middle-class parents, on average, are more likely to provide stimulates the brain?s medial temporal lobe, which in turn aids the development of memory skills.

Another researcher, an anthropologist named Annette Lareau, has investigated the same question from a cultural perspective. Over the course of several years, Lareau and her research assistants observed a variety of families from different class backgrounds, basically moving in to each home for three weeks of intensive scrutiny. Lareau found that the middle-class families she studied all followed a similar strategy, which she labeled concerted cultivation. The parents in these families engaged their children in conversations as equals, treating them like apprentice adults and encouraging them to ask questions, challenge assumptions and negotiate rules. They planned and scheduled countless activities to enhance their children?s development ? piano lessons, soccer games, trips to the museum.

The working-class and poor families Lareau studied did things differently. In fact, they raised their children the way most parents, even middle-class parents, did a generation or two ago. They allowed their children much more freedom to fill in their afternoons and weekends as they chose ? playing outside with cousins, inventing games, riding bikes with friends ? but much less freedom to talk back, question authority or haggle over rules and consequences. Children were instructed to defer to adults and treat them with respect. This strategy Lareau named accomplishment of natural growth.
27409  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ballot Problems Persist on: November 26, 2006, 07:32:30 AM
It is a rare event when I vote Democrat, but I did so for Debra Bowen for CA Sec'y of State precisely because of her concerns on this issue which the Rep. simply did not share, as well as for her good reputation as a serious, hardworking member of the legislature.
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From todays's NY Times:


After six years of technological research, more than $4 billion spent by Washington on new machinery and a widespread overhaul of the nation?s voting system, this month?s midterm election revealed that the country is still far from able to ensure that every vote counts.

Tens of thousands of voters, scattered across more than 25 states, encountered serious problems at the polls, including failures in sophisticated new voting machines and confusion over new identification rules, according to interviews with election experts and officials.

In many places, the difficulties led to shortages of substitute paper ballots and long lines that caused many voters to leave without casting ballots. Still, an association of top state election officials concluded that for the most part, voting went as smoothly as expected.

Over the last three weeks, attention has been focused on a few close races affected by voting problems, including those in Florida and Ohio where counting dragged on for days. But because most of this year?s races were not close, election experts say voting problems may actually have been wider than initially estimated, with many malfunctions simply overlooked.

That oversight may not be possible in the presidential election of 2008, when turnout will be higher and every vote will matter in what experts say will probably be a close race.

Voting experts say it is impossible to say how many votes were not counted that should have been. But in Florida alone, the discrepancies reported across Sarasota County and three others amount to more than 60,000 votes. In Colorado, as many as 20,000 people gave up trying to vote, election officials say, as new online systems for verifying voter registrations crashed repeatedly. And in Arkansas, election officials tallied votes three times in one county, and each time the number of ballots cast changed by more than 30,000.

?If the success of an election is to be measured according to whether each voter?s voice is heard, then we would have to conclude that this past election was not entirely a success,? said Doug Chapin, director of Electionline.org, a nonpartisan election group that plans to release a report Wednesday with a state-by-state assessment of voting. ?In places where the margin of victory was bigger than the margin of error, we looked away from the problems, but in 2008 we might not have that luxury.?

Accusations of missing ballots and vote stuffing were not uncommon with mechanical voting machines. But election experts say that with electronic voting machines, the potential consequences of misdeeds or errors are of a greater magnitude. A single software error can affect thousands of votes, especially with machines that keep no paper record.

There were a few signs of progress this month. Several states that faced computer difficulties in the primaries fixed the kinks by Election Day and were better stocked with backup paper ballots. Fears that more stringent identification laws in Indiana and Arizona would create confusion at the polls did not pan out.

And though recent test runs of new computerized voter registration rolls in Indiana and Missouri revealed large numbers of errors, on Election Day reports of problems with the databases were few and isolated. The National Association of Secretaries of States, which represents top election officials from across the country, has said Nov. 7 was generally ?a good day.?

But some of the biggest states have not been able to overcome problems with new technology or rules and the lightly trained poll workers who must oversee them. In Ohio, thousands of voters were turned away or forced to file provisional ballots by poll workers puzzled by voter-identification rules. In Pennsylvania, the machines crashed or refused to start, producing many reports of vote-flipping, which means that voters press the button for one candidate but a different candidate?s name appears on the screen.

Perhaps most notoriously, officials in Sarasota County say nearly 18,000 votes may never have been recorded by electronic machines in a Congressional race, even though many voters said they tried to vote.

The recent problems will probably help propel legislation that has stalled for months in Congress mandating that electronic voting machines have a paper trail to better enable recounts. Less clear, experts say, is whether anything will be done to address concerns about the lack of technicians to troubleshoot machines, polling places with too few machines and poorly trained workers, and a system run by partisan election officials who may decide conflicts based on politics rather than policy.

-------

(Page 2 of 2)



?These types of low-tech problems threaten to disenfranchise just as many people, if not more, but they tend to get less attention,? said Tova Wang, an elections expert with the Century Foundation, a nonpartisan research group in New York. ?We still have a long way to go toward fixing the biggest problems with our election system.?

Election workers and experts say the advances in technology have simply overwhelmed many of the people trying to run things on the ground. At a hearing in Denver last week, one focus was on how hard it has become for the poll workers, often retirees getting paid $100 for a 14-hour day, and what it would take to attract younger people who are perhaps more savvy about computers.

?It used to be that you would come in, set up the machines, make a cup of coffee and say hello to your neighbors,? said Sigrid Freese, who has worked at Denver polling places for more than 20 years. Now, she said, the job is complicated and stressful, and ?I know a lot of people who said, ?Never again.? ?

After widespread confusion and controversy caused by the hanging chads of the 2000 presidential election, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002 to help states phase out old-fashioned lever and punch-card machines and to introduce electronic voting equipment. But with malfunctions reported from a handful of states in the primaries earlier this year, many voting experts and state officials feared that the new technology might have only swapped old problems for newer, more complicated ones.

On Election Day, two voting-rights groups, Common Cause and the Election Protection Coalition, fielded nearly 40,000 telephone calls on two national hot lines from voters? reporting of problems or seeking information, and both groups are due to release their findings within the next two weeks. An initial review of their data, along with interviews with officials and experts, reveals that Florida, Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania were among the states with the most calls reporting trouble, including long lines, names missing from voter registration rolls, poll worker confusion and computer failures.

In a few places, the difficulties started as soon as voters walked up to the sign-in tables.

In Ohio, even a congressman, Steve Chabot, a Republican, was turned away from his polling place because the address listed on his driver?s license was different than his home address. Mr. Chabot was able to vote only after he returned with a utility bill. The state?s top election official had to fax a midday notice to all precincts that such minor discrepancies were acceptable.

In Denver, the culprit was a new electronic poll book, which workers had to consult through laptop computers. The system was supposed to verify each voter?s name in less than a minute. But it started slowing at 7 a.m. and eventually had to be turned off and rebooted, after taking up to 20 minutes to find each name.

As a result, voters waited in line for two to three hours. Liz Prescott, a computer industry executive, said she twice tried to vote but was deterred by the lines. ?I?m just flabbergasted that this system at all levels failed,? Ms. Prescott said.

John Gaydeski, Denver?s election director, acknowledged that the system had not been tested properly before the election.

In Arkansas, Florida and Pennsylvania, the questions were about the voting machines themselves. In addition to the Sarasota issue, which may have been caused by a software problem, there were similar problems in the Florida counties of Charlotte, Lee and Sumter. In those counties, said Barbara Burt, vice president and director for election reform at Common Cause, more than 40,000 voters who used touch-screen machines seemed not to have chosen a candidate in the attorney general?s race. But since one candidate won by 250,000 votes, the anomaly has been generally overlooked.

On election night in Arkansas, officials discovered that erroneous results had been tallied in Benton County. After retabulating the votes, they announced that the total number of ballots cast had jumped to 79,331 from 47,134, which meant a turnout of more than 100 percent in some precincts. After a third tallying, the total dropped to 48,681.

In Pennsylvania, computer problems forced polling places in Lancaster and Lebanon Counties to stay open late. In Westmoreland County, a programming error in at least 800 machines caused long lines.

Mary Beth Kuznik, a poll worker in that county, said she had to reset every machine after each voter, or more than 500 times, because the machines kept trying to shut down.

Howard Shaub, the elections board chairman in Lancaster County, counseled patience. ?We used those old lever machines for 20, 30 years,? Mr. Shaub said. ?We just have to have better quality control and the new machines will work fine.?

But Ms. Kuznik said one man refused to vote on the electronic machines and demanded a provisional ballot. ?At least my vote will be on a piece of paper,? Ms. Kuznik recalled his saying.


27410  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: A Post From Our Piazza member on: November 26, 2006, 07:01:33 AM
We have been having a tremendous problem with spambots.  After the one episode where our registered members got sent some nasty porn, my wife has been quite vigilant.  If she has inadvertently culled some real people, please let her know.  I will bring this thread to her attention.
27411  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'America Alone' on: November 26, 2006, 01:21:17 AM
1) Much stricter immigration laws, rigorously enforced How? Big walls? More border control agents? Incentives to home countries to keep their emmigrants home? Deportation? Quotas? For all the recent talk on border security, we seem to not be making any progress.

MD:  All the more reason to get cracking.  The Peggy Noonan's piece in the new "Immigration" thread nearby I think makes some excellent points.

2) It's reasonable to not fund jihadist clerics who preach hatred in the mosques. I'm guessing a good portion of their money is not going through Bank of America or Credit Suisse. How about a thorough investigation into all mosques sources of funding? How about making mosque members accepted members of the community and not marginalizing them?

MD:  "MAKING mosque members accepted" ?!?  Care to flesh this out a bit?  As written it seems rather coercive.

3) If I was moving to Germany, i'd study the language, laws and culture in great detail to make sure i'd be able to function when I arrived.
So would I, but what of those who don't have the resources/time/wherewithall to learn English before their arrival?  What about cases of defection? Perhaps we should follow the example of New Zealand and only allow skilled migrants or individuals in highly specialized fields?

MD:  The problem is not that they arrive not speaking the host language, the problem is that many of them seem to not wish to learn. 

Getting to the heart of the matter, the problem is that Islam is not just another idea about the Creator.  It seeks sharia-- a theocratic state that does not give equal respect to other religions, that does not believe in free speech,  and other fundamental American values.  Because it seeks theocracy, Islam is also a political ideology.  The question I am asking myself as I search for understanding is why our immigration policies should not treat it similarly to the way communism was treated during the Cold War.

4) Intermarriage is a powerful intergenerational tool of integration. True, but unfortunately cultural custom often trumps all. In many countries and cultures (including some parts of our own), it is forbidden to marry outside of your religion, caste, race, etc. How do we break through these cultural barriers?

MD:  My understanding is that the US is doing a far better job of accepting Muslims into our society than Europe, but with 911 things are in a state of flux.  With millions of Muslims in America, many of them with language skills desperately needed by our government, my understanding is that very few have come forward.

5) When in Rome, do as the Romans do Easier said than done. Some friends of mine returned recently from Seatlle,Washington. After a long two years of silence, their neighbors finally had a conversation with them before they moved. Why the long delay? The simple fact that they were from California. Now, imagine moving into suburban Iowa with your Pashtun bride and three kids. I'm gonna guess that doing as the Romans is going to take some work.

MD:  Exactly so.  But if the attitude is that "I am a Muslim who happens to be in America and as a Muslim I seek a Muslim society ruled by sharia (i.e. overturning our First Amendment)" instead of "How wonderful to come to the land of opportunity, let me learn the language and ways of my new home, let me raise my children to be Americans" then there is a real problem.

Viable integration into a society takes serious commitment from both sides. I think we need to re-evaluate our own track record on immigration/integration/cultural reform before we can start acting like we have the solutions to other countries ills.

MD:  Until 911 America and its Muslims were doing pretty well.  Since then its hard to see through the smoke.
27412  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: European matters on: November 26, 2006, 01:02:08 AM

Friday, November 24, 2006
zaman.com


 Fear of terrorism, which has seized Europe after the Sept. 11, Madrid and London attacks, has put more pressure on Muslims, who are now being treated as ?potential terrorists.?
Following statements in Britain that more than 600 Muslims were being monitored, Germany announced that 32,000 German Muslims were under surveillance.
Chair of the Bavaria Office for Protection of the Constitution, Wolfgang Weber stated that 32,000 out of 2,300,000 German Muslims were being monitored. Speaking at a panel in Munich, Weber, claiming that they were watching everybody who endangered the German democratic order, classified those who were monitored into three groups: 1) Those who wanted to establish an Islamic state based on Shariah law without resorting to violence, such as National Vision; 2) Those who collected donations for the violent groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah; 3) Jihadist groups, such as al-Qaeda, and Ansar al-Islam. Weber asserted that Germany has become a venue where terrorists finalize their preparations.
Weber, who also responded with hesitancy to the proposal to establish dialogue with Muslim associations, noted that dialogue attempts should be conducted with the utmost care. Hep Monatzeder, Deputy Chair of Munich Municipality on Relations with Muslim, criticized Weber?s isolationist approach. Noting that the intelligence reports were based on assumptions, not on evidence and facts, Monatzeder stated: ?The inclusion of the name of an association in those reports does not mean all of its members pose danger. Muslim associations carry out a wide range of activities; we are unable to isolate those who benefit from those. We should continue dialogue.?
Speaking at the panel, Chair of Muslim Council Memduh Kapicibasi, who stressed that they felt offended by the connection made between Islam and terrorism, proposed the use of the notion ?religion-motivated violence.?
Media exaggerates the danger
Speaking to Zaman, Wolfgang Weber, Chair of the Bavaria Office for Protection of the Constitution, said that the terrorism threat had been exaggerated by the media. Noting that the point of view and the degree of exaggeration varied according to the channel and newspaper, Weber said they mostly focused on Islamic radicalism and extreme right wing groups, and further confessed that they had intelligence agents inside the Muslim associations.
Number of Mosques Rising, Churches Declining A recently conducted research in Germany revealed that the number of mosques was increasing, while the number of churches was declining. According to the study by Central Islamic Archive Institute, the number of mosques has risen from 141 to 159 since 2004, while 128 were under construction. Likewise, the number of Muslims has increased from 56,000 to nearly one million since the early 1980s.
27413  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Immigration issues on: November 25, 2006, 01:04:37 AM
Peggy Noonan, as usual, in fine form:
===============================

What Grandma Would Say
We don't need to solve the immigration problem forever. We need to solve it now.

Friday, November 24, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

It is July 10, 1858, a Saturday evening, and Lincoln is speaking in Chicago. The night before his opponent in their race for the U.S. Senate, Stephen Douglas, had referred to him graciously in his big speech, and invited him to take a good seat. Lincoln seized the opportunity and invited Douglas's audience to hear him the next night.

And so here he was, speaking, as usual, text and subtext, on slavery. But near the end, he turned to who populates America. Half or more of his audience, he suggested, could trace their personal ancestry back to the founding generation, "those iron men" who were "our fathers and grandfathers." Remembering their creation of the United States, thinking of "how it was done and who did it," has civic benefits. It leaves Americans feeling "more attached to one another, and more firmly bound to the country we inhabit."

What of those who could not trace their bloodlines back to the Revolution? The immigrants of Europe are "not descendents at all," Lincoln said, and "cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us."

"But" he then said.

"But when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.' " And that "moral sentiment" connects groups and generations and tells America's immigrants "that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration. And so they are."

"And so they are." With those four words he told the anti-immigrant Know Nothings that new Americans have an equal place. He was saying: Take That, haters of the Catholic Church, spoofers of foreign ways, nonsympathizers with the beset, bedraggled and be-brogued.





I love those words by Lincoln, and believe them. But it continues to amaze that 148 years after he said them, who populates America is still a matter of urgent argument.
Much of course has changed. Immigration in Lincoln's day was open and legal. Now it is open in effect because overwhelmingly illegal in practice. If you want to come across the border, you can, essentially, come. You make the decision about what is best for you; America does not make the decision as to what is best for it. Both Congress and the White House, our official deciders, will likely do in the next session what they did in the last: spend a lot of time trying to confuse people into thinking they're closing the borders without actually closing them. There will be talk again of fences, partial fences, fencelike entities and virtual fences. While they dither and mislead, towns and cities will continue to attempt to make their own immigration policy.

You know the facts. Immigrants are here in huge numbers, unlawfully, in the age of terror. They swell the cost of local life--emergency rooms, schools--which has an impact on local taxes. There are towns and cities that feel, and are, overwhelmed. And no one will help them.

The essential reason, I think, is that America's elites don't want America's borders closed. Businesses want low-wage workers; intellectuals are wed to global visions of cross-border prosperity; politicians want Hispanic loyalty and the Hispanic vote. It's not convenient for any of them to close the borders. If Americans on the ground are enduring difficulties over this, it's . . . too bad. This is further eroding America's already eroding faith in its institutions.

I think there are two unremarked elements of the debate that are now contributing to the government's inability or refusal to come up with a solution.

The problem is not partisanship. It is not polarization, not really. Sentiments on this of all issues in the nation of immigrants are and would be complicated, nuanced. The problem is doctrinaire-ness. Even as both parties have become less philosophical, less tied to their animating philosophies, they have become more doctrinaire. The people who should be solving the immigration problem are holding fiercely to abstractions--to big-think economic theory, to emanations of penumbras in the law--instead of facing a crucial, concrete and immediate challenge.

The second element is definitiveness. Our political figures say they have to concentrate on an overall, long-term, comprehensive answer to the immigration problem. So they huff and puff about the long-term implications of this move or that, and in the end they do nothing.

They are like people in a burning house who sit around discussing the long-term efficacy of various kinds of water hoses while the house burns down around them.

More and more our leaders forget the common sense of grandma. In most everyone's family there was a grandma who used to sit quietly in the corner and say nothing. Then someone would ask her opinion just to be polite, and she'd say something so wise, so commonsensical, it stopped everyone in their tracks. And you realized that she was smart, that she'd lived a life and seen things.
In the case of illegal immigration in America I think grandma would say, "Stop it. Build a wall. But put doors in the wall so when the problem is over, you can open the doors."

America has, since 1980, experienced the biggest wave of immigrants since the great wave of 1880-1920. And we have never stopped to absorb it. We have never stopped to digest what we've eaten. Is it any wonder we have indigestion?

We don't really have to solve the problem forever. We just have to solve it now. One wonders why we don't stop illegal immigration, now. Absorb, settle down, ease pressures--for now. Why not be empirical, and find out what's true? Some say stopping illegal immigration will lead to an increase in wages for low-income workers. This is to be desired. Let's find out if it happens.

And why not give the latest waves of immigrants time to become Americans? Time to absorb our meaning and history and traditions. Isn't that the way to help them feel "more attached" and "more firmly bound to the country we inhabit"?

I'm not sure we need more globalism, but I feel certain we need more grandmaism. A happy Thanksgiving to all, old and new.

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.

27414  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 25, 2006, 12:58:25 AM
 
   
 November 25, 2006
1:54am EST
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
Iraq's new reality demands new debate on U.S. role
USA TODAY | Aug 4, 2006

Bush blames Iraq violence on Saddam's divisive 'legacy'
AFP | Mar 29, 2006

The Freedom Crusade Revisited
The National Interest | Dec 1, 2005

Weapon of Mass Destruction: The Murderous Reign of Saddam Hussein
filmcritic.com | Oct 28, 2005

Ottoman massacre of Armenians remembered across Europe
AFP | Apr 24, 2005

Living Politics: What to Make of the 'New' Middle East
Newsweek | Mar 2, 2005
   
 
 
 
 

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WONDER LAND

A Doctrine Worth Saving
Stomping Bush may impose a steep price.

BY DANIEL HENNINGER
Friday, November 24, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

Thanksgiving is unavoidably bound up with the political life of this country. Each year the day before Thanksgiving this page publishes as its lead editorial a segment from the Plymouth Colony records of Nathaniel Morton based on the account of Governor William Bradford. The diary entry makes plain the world that spread before the Pilgrims in 1620--woods and thickets with a "wild and savage hew." My eye this year is drawn to its final line, describing a look backward that day across an ocean, "a gulph to separate them from all the civil parts of the world."

Over the next three centuries, the Pilgrims' ancestors and others fought and bled to improve the "civil" world they fled. The Revolutionary War took nearly 4,500 lives. The Civil War, a half-million lives. The combined dead in World War I was more than 116,000, and World War II's U.S. battle deaths to defeat Germany and Japan were close to 300,000. After all that, the United States became the foremost part of "the civil part of the world."





In the mid-1990s, I was talking to a politically sophisticated European lady about Europe's lack of military response to Milosevic's ethnic cleansing of the non-Serbs in Yugoslavia. She said, persuasively I thought, "You must understand how much bloody death has happened across our continent the past century. We have simply been worn out by it." In the event, the U.S. went in to stop another 20th-century genocide on the soil of that civil part of the world.
Her remark has come back to me in recent weeks, watching the paroxysm of antipathy toward the Iraq war and its progenitors. It would be one thing to say it is simply opposition to and dissent from an unpopular war and an unpopular president. But this has gone beyond that. The rhetoric is emotional and vituperative. I have seen audiences greet speakers denouncing Iraq as a "disaster" and "failure" with bursts of applause.

It is getting harder to distinguish between animosity toward George Bush and animosity toward the entire American enterprise beyond the nation's borders. As Norman Podhoretz delineated in the September issue of Commentary, columns and articles in journals of foreign policy are equating the tsunami of negativity rolling over Iraq with repudiation of the Bush Doctrine in toto.

One might have expected most of the disagreement to center on the doctrine's assertion of a right to pre-emptive attack. Instead, Iraq's troubles have been conflated with a general repudiation of the U.S.'s ability to abet democratic aspiration elsewhere in the world.

It is certainly possible that the Iraq effort will, in some obvious sense, "fail." Henry Kissinger now says "victory," defined as an Iraqi government gaining political control over the entire country, is not possible. But we might want to think some before we toss out the infant Bush Doctrine with the Iraqi bathwater.

As stated, the doctrine's strategy is "to help make the world not just safer but better." Some conservatives have denounced the "better world" part as utopian overstretch. Beyond that, the document lists as its goals the aspirations of human dignity, strengthening alliances to "defeat" terrorism, working with others to defuse regional conflicts, promoting global growth through free markets and trade and "opening societies and building the infrastructure of democracy."

It is mainly the latter--the notion of the U.S. building the "infrastructure of democracy" that now, because of the "failure" in Iraq, attracts opposition across the political spectrum--from John Kerry to George Will and on out to neoconservatives confessing loss of faith in the Bush team to the unforgiving ear of Vanity Fair.

No doubt each of these has declared unfealty to the Bush effort for more or less honorable reasons. But someone ought to step back and consider the cumulative political effect of what of late has turned into an unrestrained gang-stomping of the sort normally seen at Miami-Florida International football games. We are ensuring that no future president, of either party, will project military power anytime soon short of retaliation for a nuclear attack. Every potential presidential candidate, including John McCain, has to be looking at the Bush administration's experience and concluding there is simply no political upside in doing so. We are backing the country's political mind into the long-term parking lot of isolationism, something fervently wished for at opposite ends of the U.S. political spectrum.

The specialists in the foreign-policy community will argue that a new administration can "adjust" policy to changed events and new challenges. That sells short the power of the anti-Bush wave (itself underestimated for three years by the Bushies). This is a new force. Powerful technologies--the Web, TV and (still) newspaper front pages--combine to amplify ancient human barbarities every day from the Sunni Triangle. The opinions of mere pundits acquire exponential authority, a scary thought. Baghdad has become the blood-soaked, psychological equal of the Somme or Gettysburg. The sense grows daily among the American public that helping "them" is hopeless and "we" should pull back to our shores.





Like the Europeans, we may talk ourselves into a weariness with the world and its various, unremitting violences. No genocide will occur on American soil, but the same information tide that bathes us in Baghdad's horrors ensure that Darfur's genocide will come too near not to notice. Too bad for them, or any aspiring democrats under the thumb of Russia, China, Nigeria, Venezuela or Islam's highly mobile anti-democrats. We've got ours. Let them get theirs.
Does this overstate the buildup of anti-Bush, anti-Iraq sentiment? Will U.S. policy, in the hands of ideologically frictionless bureaucracies, slide forward? Maybe. But even the realists and cynics might concede there has been some benefit, perhaps going back as far as Plymouth Rock, in having one nation standing for the conceit, or even the ideal, that men elsewhere with democratic aspirations could at least count on us for active support. This is the core idea in the Bush Doctrine. If its critics don't start making some distinctions, they may discover that profligacy of opinion in our time carries a very steep price.

Mr. Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. His column appears Fridays in the Journal and on OpinionJournal.com.

 
27415  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Muslims, Nazis, and far right hate groups echo anti-semitisim on: November 25, 2006, 12:00:51 AM
This post is not a perfect fit for this thread, but rather than start another thread here it is:

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


November 24, 2006, 5:00 a.m.

Throw the Jew Joke Down the Well
Borat gets anti-Semitism wrong.

By Charles Krauthammer


Borat is many things: a sidesplitting triumph of slapstick and scatology, a
runaway moneymaker and budding franchise, the worst thing to happen to
Kazakhstan since the Mongol hordes, and, as columnist David Brooks astutely
points out, a supreme display of elite snobbery reveling in the humiliation
of the hoaxed hillbilly.

But it is one thing more, something Brooks alluded to in passing but which
requires at least one elaboration: an unintentionally revealing
demonstration of the unfortunate attitude of many liberal Jews toward
working-class American Christians, especially evangelicals.

You know the shtick. Borat goes around America making anti-Semitic remarks
in order to elicit a nodding anti-Semitic response. And with enough liquor
and cajoling, he succeeds. In the most notorious such scene (on Da Ali G
Show where the character was born), Borat sings "Throw the Jew Down the
Well" in an Arizona bar as the local rubes join in.

Sacha Baron Cohen, the creator of Borat, revealed his purpose for doing that
in a rare out-of-character interview he granted Rolling Stone in part to
counter charges that he was promoting anti-Semitism. On the face of it, this
would be odd, given that Cohen is himself a Sabbath-observing Jew. His
defense is that he is using Borat's anti-Semitism as a "tool" to expose it
in others. And that his Arizona bar stunt revealed, if not anti-Semitism,
then "indifference" to anti-Semitism. And that, he maintains, was the path
to the Holocaust.

Whoaaaa. Does he really believe such rubbish? Can a man that smart
(Cambridge, investment banker and now brilliant filmmaker) really believe
that indifference to anti-Semitism and the road to the Holocaust are to be
found in a country and western bar in Tucson?

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world.

With anti-Semitism re-emerging in Europe and rampant in the Islamic world;
with Iran acquiring the ultimate weapon of genocide and proclaiming its
intention to wipe out the world's largest Jewish community (Israel); with
America and, in particular, its Christian evangelicals the only remaining
Gentile constituency anywhere willing to defend that besieged Jewish outpost
- is the American heartland really the locus of anti-Semitism? Is this the
one place to go to find it?

In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez says that the "descendents of the same ones that
crucified Christ" have "taken possession of all the wealth in the world."
Just this month, Tehran hosted an international festival of Holocaust
cartoons featuring enough hooked noses and horns to give Goebbels a
posthumous smile. Throughout the Islamic world, newspapers and television,
schoolbooks and sermons are filled with the most vile anti-Semitism.

Baron Cohen could easily have found what he seeks closer to home. He is,
after all, from Europe where synagogues are torched and cemeteries
desecrated in a revival of anti-Semitism - not "indifference" to but active
- unseen since the Holocaust. Where a Jew is singled out for torture and
death by French-African thugs. Where a leading Norwegian intellectual - et
tu, Norway? - mocks "God's Chosen People" ("We laugh at this people's
capriciousness and weep at its misdeeds") and calls for the destruction of
Israel, the "state founded ... on the ruins of an archaic national and
warlike religion."

Yet amid this gathering darkness, an alarming number of liberal Jews are
seized with the notion that the real threat lurks deep in the hearts of
American Protestants, most specifically Southern evangelicals. Some fear
that their children are going to be converted; others, that below the
surface lies a pogrom waiting to happen; still others, that the evangelicals
will take power in Washington and enact their own sharia law.

This is all quite crazy. America is the most welcoming, religiously
tolerant, philo-Semitic country in the world. No nation since Cyrus the
Great's Persia has done more for the Jews. And its reward is to be exposed
as latently anti-Semitic by an itinerant Jew looking for laughs and, he
solemnly assures us, for the path to the Holocaust?

Look. Harry Truman used to tell derisive Jewish jokes. Richard Nixon said
nasty things about Jews in government and elsewhere. Who cares? Truman and
Nixon were the two greatest friends of the Jews in the entire postwar
period: Truman secured them a refuge in the state of Israel and Nixon saved
it from extinction during the Yom Kippur War.

It is very hard to be a Jew today, particularly in Baron Cohen's Europe,
where Jew-baiting is once again becoming acceptable. But it is a sign of the
disorientation of a distressed and confused people that we should find it so
difficult to distinguish our friends from our enemies.

(c) 2006, The Washington Post Writers Group


http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MGJiYzJmY2U3MmNhMDNmNzZmNDZjZmNmOTI2ZDcxMWY=
27416  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 24, 2006, 02:55:05 PM
Today's NY Slimes:



For years, Roger Barnett has holstered a pistol to his hip, tucked an assault rifle in his truck and set out over the scrub brush on his thousands of acres of ranchland near the Mexican border in southeastern Arizona to hunt.

Skip to next paragraph
 
The New York Times

Hunt illegal immigrants, that is, often chronicled in the news.

?They?re flooding across, invading the place,? Mr. Barnett told the ABC program ?Nightline? this spring. ?They?re going to bring their families, their wives, and they?re going to bring their kids. We don?t need them.?

But now, after boasting of having captured 12,000 illegal crossers on land he owns or leases from the state and emerging as one of the earliest and most prominent of the self-appointed border watchers, Mr. Barnett finds himself the prey.

Immigrant rights groups have filed lawsuits, accusing him of harassing and unlawfully imprisoning people he has confronted on his ranch near Douglas. One suit pending in federal court accuses him, his wife and his brother of pointing guns at 16 illegal immigrants they intercepted, threatening them with dogs and kicking one woman in the group.

Another suit, accusing Mr. Barnett of threatening two Mexican-American hunters and three young children with an assault rifle and insulting them with racial epithets, ended Wednesday night in Bisbee with a jury awarding the hunters $98,750 in damages.

The court actions are the latest example of attempts by immigrant rights groups to curb armed border-monitoring groups by going after their money, if not their guns. They have won civil judgments in Texas, and this year two illegal Salvadoran immigrants who had been held against their will took possession of a 70-acre ranch in southern Arizona after winning a case last year.

The Salvadorans had accused the property owner, Casey Nethercott, a former leader of the Ranch Rescue group, of menacing them with a gun in 2003. Mr. Nethercott was convicted of illegal gun possession; the Salvadorans plan to sell the property, their lawyer has said.

But Mr. Barnett, known for dressing in military garb and caps with insignia resembling the United States Border Patrol?s, represents a special prize to the immigrant rights groups. He is ubiquitous on Web sites, mailings and brochures put out by groups monitoring the Mexican border and, with family members, was an inspiration for efforts like the Minutemen civilian border patrols.

?The Barnetts, probably more than any people in this country, are responsible for the vigilante movement as it now exists,? said Mark Potok, legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks the groups. ?They were the recipients of so much press coverage and they kept boasting, and it was out of those boasts that the modern vigilante movement sprang up.?

Jesus Romo Vejar, the lawyer for the hunting party, said their court victory Wednesday would serve notice that mistreating immigrants would not pass unpunished. Although the hunters were not in the United States illegally, they contended that Mr. Barnett?s treatment of them reflected his attitude and practices toward Latinos crossing his land, no matter what their legal status.

?We have really, truly breached their defense,? Mr. Vejar said, ?and this opens up the Barnetts to other attorneys to come in and sue him whenever he does some wrong with people.?

Mr. Vejar said he would ask the state attorney general and the county attorney, who had cited a lack of evidence in declining to prosecute Mr. Barnett, to take another look at the case. He also said he would ask the state to revoke Mr. Barnett?s leases on its land.

Mr. Barnett had denied threatening anyone. He left the courtroom after the verdict without commenting, and his lawyer, John Kelliher, would not comment either.

In a brief interview during a court break last week, Mr. Barnett denied harming anyone and said that the legal action would not deter his efforts. He said that the number of illegal immigrants crossing his land had declined recently but that he thought it was only a temporary trend.

?For your children, for our future, that?s why we need to stop them,? Mr. Barnett said. ?If we don?t step in for your children, I don?t know who is expected to step in.?

Mr. Barnett prevailed in a suit in the summer when a jury ruled against a fellow rancher who had sued, accusing him of trespassing on his property as he pursued immigrants. Another suit last year was dropped when the plaintiff, who had returned to Mexico, decided not to return to press the case.



===========



Page 2 of 2)



Still, the threat of liability has discouraged ranchers from allowing the more militant civilian patrol groups on their land, and accusations of abuse seem to be on the wane, said Jennifer Allen of the Border Action Network, an immigrant rights group.

Skip to next paragraph
 
Michael Mally for The New York Times
Ronald Morales, right, his daughter Angelique Venese and others won a civil suit against Roger Barnett. They said he detained them illegally then pointed a rifle at them after running them off.

 
Jeffry Scott/Arizona Daily Star
Roger Barnett owns or leases 22,000 acres near the border.

But David H. Urias, a lawyer with the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund who is representing the 16 immigrants suing Mr. Barnett, said fewer complaints did not necessarily mean less activity. Immigrants from Mexico are returned to their country often within hours and often under the impression that their deportation ? and chance to try to return again ? will go quicker without their complaints.

?It took us months to find these 16 people,? Mr. Urias said.

People who tend ranches on the border said that even if they did not agree with Mr. Barnett?s tactics they sympathized with his rationale, and that putting him out of business would not resolve the problems they believe the crossers cause.

?The illegals think they have carte blanche on his ranch,? said Al Garza, the executive director of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps in Arizona, a civilian patrol group that, Mr. Garza says, does not detain illegal immigrants but calls in their movements to the Border Patrol. ?The man has had it.?

Mr. Barnett, a retired Cochise County sheriff?s deputy and the owner of a towing business, acquired his ranch in the mid-1990s, buying or leasing from the state more than 22,000 acres.

Almost from the start he took up a campaign against the people crossing the border from Mexico, sometimes detaining large groups and radioing for the Border Patrol to pick them up.

Chuy Rodriguez, a spokesman for the agency?s Tucson office, said the Border Patrol maintained no formal relationship with Mr. Barnett or other civilian groups. Agency commanders, concerned about potential altercations, have warned the groups not to take the law into their hands.

?If they see something, we ask them to call us, like we would ask of any citizen,? Mr. Rodriguez said.

Mr. Barnett?s lawyers have suggested he has acted out of a right to protect his property.

?A lease holder doesn?t have the right to protect his cattle?? Mr. Kelliher asked one of the men in the hunting party, Arturo Morales, at the trial.

?I guess so, maybe,? Mr. Morales replied.

Mr. Barnett has had several encounters with local law enforcement officials over detaining illegal immigrants, some of whom complained that he pointed guns at them. The local authorities have declined to prosecute him, citing a lack of evidence or ambiguity about whether he had violated any laws.

A few years ago, however, the Border Action Network and its allied groups began collecting testimony from illegal immigrants and others who had had confrontations with Mr. Barnett.

They included the hunters, who sued Mr. Barnett for unlawful detention, emotional distress and other claims, and sought at least $200,000. Ronald Morales; his father, Arturo; Ronald Morales?s two daughters, ages 9 and 11; and an 11-year-old friend said Mr. Barnett, his brother Donald and his wife, Barbara, confronted them Oct. 30, 2004.

Ronald Morales testified that Mr. Barnett used expletives and ethnically derogatory remarks as he sought to kick them off state-owned property he leases. Then, Mr. Morales said, Mr. Barnett pulled an AR-15 assault rifle from his truck and pointed it at them as they drove off, traumatizing the girls.

Mr. Kelliher conceded that there was a heated confrontation. But he denied that Mr. Barnett used slurs and said Ronald Morales was as much an instigator. He said Morales family members had previously trespassed on Mr. Barnett?s land and knew that Mr. Barnett required written permission to hunt there.

Even as the trial proceeded, the Border Patrol reported a 45 percent drop in arrests in the Douglas area in the last year. The agency credits scores of new agents, the National Guard deployment there this summer and improved technology in detecting crossers.

But Ms. Allen of the Border Action Network and other immigrant rights supporters suspect that people are simply crossing elsewhere
27417  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: European matters on: November 24, 2006, 02:50:38 PM
Following up on the Danish cartoon provacateurs (sp?) :
================

"Sex in the Park"
By Henrik Bering
The Weekly Standard | November 24, 2006

(Copenhagen) - You have to hand it to them: Few men in recent history have been more successful in creating mayhem than the small group of Denmark-based imams who turned the appearance of cartoons of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper into a world event. In a recent Egyptian opinion poll of nations seen as most hostile, Denmark registered third, right behind the United States and Israel, an impressive score for a small Nordic country that is normally known for its pacifism and humanitarian efforts.

Pretending to be on a mission to create understanding and dialogue, the imams set out from Denmark for the Middle East last December, where they spread false rumors of the Koran being burned on the streets of Copenhagen and otherwise did their best to incite violence against their host nation, resulting in attacks on embassies, trade boycotts, and flag burnings. They were later caught on hidden camera by a French documentary filmmaker, bragging about their exploits.

Not ones to rest on their laurels, this band of bearded brothers have continued to enjoy great success at getting their names into the headlines; their activities have been followed with particular interest by the Jyllands-Posten, the paper that originally published the cartoons and has had to live under a strict security regimen ever since. As always, there is an element of Monty Pythonesque farce in these imams posturing as holy warriors while being welfare-state spongers, and constantly tripping up in their own lies. Farce, that is, if it were not so deadly serious.

First a bit of good news: As reported in the Jyllands-Posten, Sheikh Raed Hlayhel, who has been in Denmark since 2000 and was the prime instigator behind the cartoon protest, recently announced that he had had it with Denmark and was leaving to settle down in his hometown of Tripoli in Lebanon. "And I am not coming back," he fumed, as if depriving the country of some tremendous cultural asset.

As a commentator noted, Hlayhel has not exactly been a model of successful integration. Having received his religious training in Medina in Saudi Arabia--where he imbibed pure, unadulterated Wahhabism--Hlayhel applied for asylum in Denmark and was at first denied. But as his young son suffers from spina bifida, and the Danish authorities felt the boy could not get the proper treatment in Lebanon, he was allowed in on humanitarian grounds.

Hlayhel thus did not have Danish citizenship and did not speak a word of Danish. But in Denmark's fundamentalist parallel society, Arabic will do just fine, especially when you preach jihad. The center of Hlayhel's activities was the Grimh?jvej mosque in the small town of Brabrand in Jutland, which has been closely monitored by Danish intelligence.

Among the users of the mosque were Slimane Hadj Abderrahmane, the so-called Guant?namo Dane--a holy warrior of Danish/Algerian parentage who was caught by American troops in Afghanistan--and Abu Rached, who has been identified by Spanish prosecutors as one of al Qaeda's main operatives in Europe.

What prompted Hlayhel's decision to pull up his tent pegs? He lost his lawsuit against the Jyllands-Posten for having printed the cartoons. And in matters like these, family considerations are clearly secondary. About his invalid son, who was receiving free care from the Danish national health system, Hlayhel stated, "His Muslim identity is more important than his treatment. I think all Muslims should live in a Muslim country. Farewell Denmark."

But before the Danes get too relieved, intelligence experts cited in the Jyllands-Posten warned that the sheikh can still make mischief from the Middle East. In his last prayer in Denmark, Hlayhel denounced the pope, warned against repetitions of the cartoons, and threatened retaliation: "We are people who love death and will sacrifice ourselves before Allah's feet. Do not repeat the tragedy, or else it will become a tragedy for you and the whole world."


Meanwhile, Hlayhel's fellow demagogue Ahmed Abu Laban, a Palestinian refugee who came to Denmark in 1984 and who is also not a Danish citizen, has written a book about the traveling imams' achievements entitled The Jyllands-Posten Crisis, which has come out so far only in Arabic and has been published in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masri al-Youm.

Laban rails against a new group in Denmark called the Democratic Muslims, which was created in the wake of the cartoon crisis and whose leader, Naser Khader, he describes as "a rat" and "an apostate." This, according to a scholar cited in the Jyllands-Posten, amounts to a death threat, as in the fundamentalist view apostasy is a capital crime. Democratic Muslims are further characterized in the book as "such nice people, clean shaven, very clever, who are ready to have sex in the park, whenever they feel like it." The phrase "sex in the park" is common Arab code for homosexuality, which in sharia law also merits a death sentence.

Laban's name has been linked to Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind cleric who in 1993 was behind the first bombing of the World Trade Center; to Ayman al-Zawahiri, one of the planners of 9/11; and to Mohammed al-Fizazi, who was responsible for the 2003 Casablanca bombing. Laban at one point also claimed knowledge of an imminent terror operation on Danish soil.

His purpose with the book is to strengthen his own claims to leadership in the highly competitive world of extremist imams. Laban has also threatened in the past to leave Denmark, but, alas, thought better of it.

Downy bearded youth was also represented in the traveling cartoon road show in the person of 28-year-old Ahmed Akkari, who makes up for his tiny stature and squeaky voice with his great persistence. Akkari was born in Lebanon but has obtained Danish citizenship and is fluent in Danish. Among his political prognostications is that the leader of the Democratic Muslims would be blown up, should he ever become a government minister.

Most Danes were of the impression that Akkari had left the country last year to settle with his girlfriend in Lebanon, as he, too, felt insufficiently appreciated in Denmark. But lo and behold, when Denmark arranged for an evacuation of 5,000 people during this summer's war in Lebanon, who was among the rescued but Akkari, his girlfriend, and his little daughter. The Jyllands-Posten carried a telling photograph from the rescue operation with Akkari seen against the Danish flag gently wafting in the breeze--the very flag that he and his friends had caused to be burned all over the Middle East.

Predictably, Akkari found fault with the caliber of the Danish rescue mission. In the Extra Bladet, a Danish tabloid, he stated indignantly, "You should write about the horrible plane the Danish Foreign Ministry first wanted to send us home in. It was Jordanian and so old that it was life threatening."

In letters to the editor, Danes wondered the obvious: Why would a man who has so much to complain about want to return? They were also astounded by the number of Danish resident aliens found in Lebanon during the evacuation. There were calls to investigate how many were actually living in Lebanon while claiming unemployment benefits in Denmark. Predictably, the Danish liberal press deemed such questions crass and insensitive towards people who had been so massively traumatized by Israeli bombardments, but the issue will be debated in parliament in December.

Finally, the Danes have learned that Abu Bashar, a Syrian cleric living in the regional capital of Odense and working as a prison chaplain, has been fired after complaints from inmates at Nyborg State Prison that he was inciting hatred of Denmark, and after his statement in an article in the Fyens Stiftstidende that "Denmark is the next terror target."

Bashar's claim to fame stems from the cartoon crisis, when he showed a photograph of a man in a pig's mask on BBC television, and afterwards slipped it in among the material being presented by the touring imams in the Middle East, though it had nothing to do with the cartoons. It turned out to be a photo of a French comedian in a pig-calling contest. Bashar later claimed that he was misinterpreted and that the photo had been sent to him anonymously, showing how Muslims were insulted in Denmark. His forked tongue has severely damaged his credibility here.

To no one's surprise, Bashar claimed that his firing from his prison job was political. However, as a man who did not hold grudges, he was willing to forget the incident, if he could have his job back part-time, with disability pay. His knee was troubling him something awful. Sorry, no go.

The question remains why the Danish government puts up with these scoundrels and does not simply boot them out. France has rid itself of more than 20 extremist imams, as has Germany, while Spain and Italy each have deported four, and Holland three. Denmark so far has kicked none out. Surely, enough is enough.
27418  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mexico-US matters on: November 24, 2006, 02:39:46 PM
Today's NY Slimes:
--------------------------------------

Today's NY Slimes:



For years, Roger Barnett has holstered a pistol to his hip, tucked an assault rifle in his truck and set out over the scrub brush on his thousands of acres of ranchland near the Mexican border in southeastern Arizona to hunt.

Skip to next paragraph
 
The New York Times

Hunt illegal immigrants, that is, often chronicled in the news.

?They?re flooding across, invading the place,? Mr. Barnett told the ABC program ?Nightline? this spring. ?They?re going to bring their families, their wives, and they?re going to bring their kids. We don?t need them.?

But now, after boasting of having captured 12,000 illegal crossers on land he owns or leases from the state and emerging as one of the earliest and most prominent of the self-appointed border watchers, Mr. Barnett finds himself the prey.

Immigrant rights groups have filed lawsuits, accusing him of harassing and unlawfully imprisoning people he has confronted on his ranch near Douglas. One suit pending in federal court accuses him, his wife and his brother of pointing guns at 16 illegal immigrants they intercepted, threatening them with dogs and kicking one woman in the group.

Another suit, accusing Mr. Barnett of threatening two Mexican-American hunters and three young children with an assault rifle and insulting them with racial epithets, ended Wednesday night in Bisbee with a jury awarding the hunters $98,750 in damages.

The court actions are the latest example of attempts by immigrant rights groups to curb armed border-monitoring groups by going after their money, if not their guns. They have won civil judgments in Texas, and this year two illegal Salvadoran immigrants who had been held against their will took possession of a 70-acre ranch in southern Arizona after winning a case last year.

The Salvadorans had accused the property owner, Casey Nethercott, a former leader of the Ranch Rescue group, of menacing them with a gun in 2003. Mr. Nethercott was convicted of illegal gun possession; the Salvadorans plan to sell the property, their lawyer has said.

But Mr. Barnett, known for dressing in military garb and caps with insignia resembling the United States Border Patrol?s, represents a special prize to the immigrant rights groups. He is ubiquitous on Web sites, mailings and brochures put out by groups monitoring the Mexican border and, with family members, was an inspiration for efforts like the Minutemen civilian border patrols.

?The Barnetts, probably more than any people in this country, are responsible for the vigilante movement as it now exists,? said Mark Potok, legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks the groups. ?They were the recipients of so much press coverage and they kept boasting, and it was out of those boasts that the modern vigilante movement sprang up.?

Jesus Romo Vejar, the lawyer for the hunting party, said their court victory Wednesday would serve notice that mistreating immigrants would not pass unpunished. Although the hunters were not in the United States illegally, they contended that Mr. Barnett?s treatment of them reflected his attitude and practices toward Latinos crossing his land, no matter what their legal status.

?We have really, truly breached their defense,? Mr. Vejar said, ?and this opens up the Barnetts to other attorneys to come in and sue him whenever he does some wrong with people.?

Mr. Vejar said he would ask the state attorney general and the county attorney, who had cited a lack of evidence in declining to prosecute Mr. Barnett, to take another look at the case. He also said he would ask the state to revoke Mr. Barnett?s leases on its land.

Mr. Barnett had denied threatening anyone. He left the courtroom after the verdict without commenting, and his lawyer, John Kelliher, would not comment either.

In a brief interview during a court break last week, Mr. Barnett denied harming anyone and said that the legal action would not deter his efforts. He said that the number of illegal immigrants crossing his land had declined recently but that he thought it was only a temporary trend.

?For your children, for our future, that?s why we need to stop them,? Mr. Barnett said. ?If we don?t step in for your children, I don?t know who is expected to step in.?

Mr. Barnett prevailed in a suit in the summer when a jury ruled against a fellow rancher who had sued, accusing him of trespassing on his property as he pursued immigrants. Another suit last year was dropped when the plaintiff, who had returned to Mexico, decided not to return to press the case.



===========



Page 2 of 2)



Still, the threat of liability has discouraged ranchers from allowing the more militant civilian patrol groups on their land, and accusations of abuse seem to be on the wane, said Jennifer Allen of the Border Action Network, an immigrant rights group.

Skip to next paragraph
 
Michael Mally for The New York Times
Ronald Morales, right, his daughter Angelique Venese and others won a civil suit against Roger Barnett. They said he detained them illegally then pointed a rifle at them after running them off.

 
Jeffry Scott/Arizona Daily Star
Roger Barnett owns or leases 22,000 acres near the border.

But David H. Urias, a lawyer with the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund who is representing the 16 immigrants suing Mr. Barnett, said fewer complaints did not necessarily mean less activity. Immigrants from Mexico are returned to their country often within hours and often under the impression that their deportation ? and chance to try to return again ? will go quicker without their complaints.

?It took us months to find these 16 people,? Mr. Urias said.

People who tend ranches on the border said that even if they did not agree with Mr. Barnett?s tactics they sympathized with his rationale, and that putting him out of business would not resolve the problems they believe the crossers cause.

?The illegals think they have carte blanche on his ranch,? said Al Garza, the executive director of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps in Arizona, a civilian patrol group that, Mr. Garza says, does not detain illegal immigrants but calls in their movements to the Border Patrol. ?The man has had it.?

Mr. Barnett, a retired Cochise County sheriff?s deputy and the owner of a towing business, acquired his ranch in the mid-1990s, buying or leasing from the state more than 22,000 acres.

Almost from the start he took up a campaign against the people crossing the border from Mexico, sometimes detaining large groups and radioing for the Border Patrol to pick them up.

Chuy Rodriguez, a spokesman for the agency?s Tucson office, said the Border Patrol maintained no formal relationship with Mr. Barnett or other civilian groups. Agency commanders, concerned about potential altercations, have warned the groups not to take the law into their hands.

?If they see something, we ask them to call us, like we would ask of any citizen,? Mr. Rodriguez said.

Mr. Barnett?s lawyers have suggested he has acted out of a right to protect his property.

?A lease holder doesn?t have the right to protect his cattle?? Mr. Kelliher asked one of the men in the hunting party, Arturo Morales, at the trial.

?I guess so, maybe,? Mr. Morales replied.

Mr. Barnett has had several encounters with local law enforcement officials over detaining illegal immigrants, some of whom complained that he pointed guns at them. The local authorities have declined to prosecute him, citing a lack of evidence or ambiguity about whether he had violated any laws.

A few years ago, however, the Border Action Network and its allied groups began collecting testimony from illegal immigrants and others who had had confrontations with Mr. Barnett.

They included the hunters, who sued Mr. Barnett for unlawful detention, emotional distress and other claims, and sought at least $200,000. Ronald Morales; his father, Arturo; Ronald Morales?s two daughters, ages 9 and 11; and an 11-year-old friend said Mr. Barnett, his brother Donald and his wife, Barbara, confronted them Oct. 30, 2004.

Ronald Morales testified that Mr. Barnett used expletives and ethnically derogatory remarks as he sought to kick them off state-owned property he leases. Then, Mr. Morales said, Mr. Barnett pulled an AR-15 assault rifle from his truck and pointed it at them as they drove off, traumatizing the girls.

Mr. Kelliher conceded that there was a heated confrontation. But he denied that Mr. Barnett used slurs and said Ronald Morales was as much an instigator. He said Morales family members had previously trespassed on Mr. Barnett?s land and knew that Mr. Barnett required written permission to hunt there.

Even as the trial proceeded, the Border Patrol reported a 45 percent drop in arrests in the Douglas area in the last year. The agency credits scores of new agents, the National Guard deployment there this summer and improved technology in detecting crossers.

But Ms. Allen of the Border Action Network and other immigrant rights supporters suspect that people are simply crossing elsewhere.
27419  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: November 24, 2006, 02:11:42 PM
ROCKETS TO IRAN: Russia has begun deliveries of the Tor-M1 air defence rocket system to Iran, Russian news agencies quoted military industry sources as saying, in the latest sign of a Russian-US rift over Iran. "Deliveries of the Tor-M1 have begun. The first systems have already been delivered to Tehran," ITAR-TASS quoted an unnamed, high-ranking source as saying Friday.
Levine Breaking News 11/24/06
27420  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: November 24, 2006, 09:19:37 AM

Canadian Press
Published: Friday, November 24, 2006 ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) - Two Turkish men who converted to Christianity went on trial Thursday for allegedly insulting "Turkishness," and of inciting religious hatred against Islam, the Anatolia news agency reported.


The trial opened just days before a visit to Turkey by Roman Catholic Pope Benedict, during which the pontiff was expected to discuss improved religious rights for the country's tiny Christian minority who complain of discrimination.
Hakan Tastan, 37, and Turan Topal, 46, are accused of making the insults and of inciting hate while allegedly trying to convert other Turks to Christianity.
The men were charged under Turkey's notorious Article 301, which has been used to bring charges against dozens of intellectuals - including Nobel prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk.
The law has widely been condemned for severely limiting free expression and European officials have demanded that Turkey change the law as part of its bid to join the European Union.
Prosecutors accused the two of allegedly telling possible converts that Islam was "a primitive and fabricated" religion and that Turks would remain "barbarians" as long they remained Muslims, Anatolia reported.
The prosecutors also accused them of speaking out against the country's compulsory military service, and compiling databases on possible converts.
Tastan and Topal, who could face up to nine years in prison, denied the accusations in court.
"I am a Turk, I am a Turkish citizen. I don't accept the accusations of insulting 'Turkishness,' " Anatolia quoted Tastan as telling the court. "I am a Christian, that's true. I explain the Bible ... to people who want to learn. I am innocent."
"I am a Turk, I am a Turkish citizen, it is impossible for me to insult 'Turkishness,"' echoed Topal, according to Anatolia.

? The Canadian Press 2006
27421  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: November 24, 2006, 08:58:30 AM
A Profiling In Courage
INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY

Posted 11/22/2006

Homeland Security: Kudos to US Airways. Risking fines and a boycott, it did the right thing this week by removing a group of Muslim men from a flight to protect its crew and passengers.

By most accounts, the six bearded men were behaving suspiciously at a time when airports were on high alert for sky terror during the holidays. "There were a number of things that gave the flight crew pause," an airline spokesman said. According to witnesses and police reports, the men:

? Made anti-American statements.

? Made a scene of praying and chanting "Allah."

? Asked for seat-belt extensions even though a flight attendant thought they didn't need them.

? Refused requests by the pilot to disembark for more screening.

Also, three of the men had only one-way tickets and no checked baggage.

Police had to forcibly remove the men from the flight, whereupon they were taken into custody. A search found no weapons or explosives, and they were released to continue on their journey.

Within hours, the men enlisted a Muslim-rights group to make a stink in the press, insisting they were merely imams returning home from an Islamic conference in Minneapolis. They say they were "harassed" because of their faith.

But were they victims or provocateurs?

All six claim to be Americans, so clearly they were aware of heightened security. Surely they knew that groups of Muslim men flying together while praying to Allah fit the modus operandi of the 9/11 hijackers and would make a pilot nervous. Throw in anti-U.S. remarks and odd demands about seat belts, and they might as well have yelled, "Bomb!"

Yet they chose to make a spectacle. Why? Turns out among those attending their conference was Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who will be the first Muslim sworn into Congress (with his hand on the Quran). Two days earlier, Ellison, an African-American convert who wants to criminalize Muslim profiling, spoke at a fundraiser for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim-rights group that wasted no time condemning US Airways for "prejudice and ignorance."

CAIR wants congressional hearings to investigate other incidents of "flying while Muslim." Incoming Judiciary Chairman John Con-yers, D-Mich., has already drafted a resolution, borrowing from CAIR rhetoric, that gives Muslims special civil-rights protections.

While it's not immediately clear whether the incident was a stunt to help give the new Democratic majority cover to criminalize airport profiling, it wouldn't be the first time Muslim passengers have tried to prove "Islamophobia" ? or test nerves and security.

Two years ago a dozen Syrian men caused panic aboard a Northwest Airlines flight by passing bags to each other as they used the lavatory. As the plane prepared to land, they rushed to the back and front of the plane speaking in Arabic.

Then there's the case of Muhammed al-Qudhaieen and Hamdan al-Shalawi, two Arizona college students removed from an America West flight after twice trying to open the cockpit. The FBI suspected it was a dry run for the 9/11 hijackings, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. One of the students had traveled to Afghanistan. Another became a material witness in the 9/11 investigation.

Even so, the pair filed racial-profiling suits against America West, now part of US Airways. Defending them was none other than the leader of the six imams kicked off the US Airways flight this week.

Turns out the students attended the Tucson, Ariz., mosque of Sheikh Omar Shahin, a Jordan native. Shahin has been the protesters' public face, even returning to the US Airways ticket counter at the Minneapolis airport to scold agents before the cameras.

In an Arizona Republic interview after 9/11, he acknowledged once supporting Osama bin Laden through his mosque in Tucson. FBI investigators believe bin Laden set up a base in Tucson.

Hani Hanjour, who piloted the plane that hit the Pentagon, attended the Tucson mosque along with bin Laden's onetime personal secretary, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. Bin Laden's ex-logistics chief was president of the mosque before Shahin took over.

"These people don't continue to come back to Arizona because they like the sunshine or they like the state," said FBI agent Kenneth Williams. "Something was established there, and it's been there for a long time." And Shahin appears to be in the middle of it.

CAIR asserts the imams are peace-loving patriots. "It's inappropriate to treat religious leaders that way," a spokesman said.

Yeah, they all wear halos. Omar Abdul-Rahman, a blind sheikh, is serving a life term for plotting to blow up several New York landmarks. Imam Ali al-Timimi, a native Washingtonian, is also behind bars for soliciting local Muslims to kill fellow Americans. Imams in New York were recently busted for buying shoulder-fired missiles. Another in Lodi, Calif., planned an al-Qaida terror camp there.

We could go on and on. Imams or not, US Airways did right by its customers. Shahin is calling on Muslims to boycott the airline; that might actually work in its favor. US Airways has been flooded with calls from Americans saying it just became the safest airline.

 
27422  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'America Alone' on: November 24, 2006, 08:56:55 AM
I don't want to clutter up responses to GM's interesting posts (which might have fit more logically in one or more of the other threads  wink ) but I would like to take a quick moment to say that Quijote makes a fair point when he says that one of the causes (and it is only one of several) of the Paristineans intifada is that the French block their entry into society-- IMHO this is done through French economic policies which create tremendous barriers to the creation of new businesses and employment in order to protect big unions and other vested interests.  The purpose of these policies is not anti-Muslim, but they do add heavily to the unemployment of the Paristineans. 



27423  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: FMA Footwork for Context-Based Gunfighting on: November 24, 2006, 08:42:28 AM
Please forgive my arrogance, this is exactly why I have set up the Kali Fence as I have and why Gabe has integrated it into his teaching-- it predisposes the body to react correctly.
27424  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: November 23, 2006, 07:49:56 AM
Top Marine: Troops under too much strain


November 22, 2006
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The new Marine Corps commandant said Wednesday that the longer than anticipated pace of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is putting an unacceptable strain on his troops.
Gen. James Conway said the service is unable to meet its goal of giving Marines twice as much time at home as in a war zone.
He said unless the demand on the corps eases, he may have to propose increasing the size of the force.
The Marine Corps is the smallest of the Pentagon's military services. The Coast Guard, which is even smaller, is part of the Department of Homeland Security.
Currently there are 180,000 Marines on active duty and about 40,000 in the active reserves. Marine units serve seven-month deployments in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Conway, who led Marine units into Iraq in 2003 and served on the Pentagon's joint staff, said his troops should get 14 months of relief before they are sent back.
Typically, however, they get only seven or eight months home before being returned to combat, he said.
Assuming the Marines' top job little more than a week ago, Conway told reporters at a Pentagon roundtable discussion that he sees two ways to alleviate stress on troops.
"One is reducing the requirement [of a set deployment time]. The other is potentially growing the force for what we call the long war," Conway said.
Some units are serving their fourth tours in Iraq, and the strain on their families has raised concern that Marines will start leaving the service when their enlistments are up.
"There is stress on the individual Marines that is increasing, and there is stress on the institution to do what we are required to do, pretty much by law, for the nation," he was quoted by The Associated Press as saying.
The current rotation of troops to Iraq is also limiting training, he said.
"We're not sending battalions like we used to for the mountain warfare training, the jungle training," he told reporters. "We're not doing combined arms exercises that we used to do for the far maneuver-type activities we have to be prepared to do."
Conway said he doesn't know whether an expected adjustment in strategy in Iraq will result in the need for more Marines, so he's holding off on making any formal recommendations.
Copyright 2006 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.
__________________
27425  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Particular Stocks on: November 23, 2006, 07:16:42 AM
http://eutrapelia.blogspot.com/

New suggestions from David Gordon.  Highly recommended.
27426  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Surviving PMS on: November 23, 2006, 07:14:51 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCwKbUVyHLY
27427  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 23, 2006, 07:07:29 AM
Lamento tantos hilos en ingles en un foro supuestamente para espanol.  ?Habra' alguien quien puede ayudarnos con informes desde Mexico?
------------------------------

Mexican Report Cites Leaders for ?Dirty War?
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By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.
Published: November 23, 2006
MEXICO CITY, Nov. 22 ? Just before leaving office, the administration of President Vicente Fox has quietly put out a voluminous report that for the first time states unequivocally that past governments carried out a covert campaign of murder and torture against dissidents and guerrillas from the late 1960s through the early 1980s.

The 800-page report is the first acceptance of responsibility by the government for what is known here as the ?dirty war,? in which the police and the army are believed to have executed more than 700 people without trial, in many cases after torture. It also represents the fulfillment of Mr. Fox?s vow when elected in 2000 to expose the truth about an ugly chapter in Mexico?s history.

?The Mexican government has never officially accepted responsibility for these crimes,? said Kate Doyle, the director of the Mexico project of the National Security Archive, a private research group at George Washington University.

Ms. Doyle and other human rights experts said, though, that the special prosecutor who issued the report, Ignacio Carrillo Prieto, had not succeeded in prosecuting the officials responsible for the crimes it describes in such detail, notably former President Luis Echeverr?a.

Instead of being announced at a public event, as is often the case, the report was posted on the Internet late Friday night. Some human rights experts say that the way the report was released suggests that Mr. Fox?s enthusiasm for ferreting out the sins of past governments has waned since he took office.

The report relies on secret military and government documents that Mr. Fox ordered declassified. It contains lengthy chapters on the killings of student protesters in Mexico City in 1968 and 1971, as well as a brutal counterinsurgency operation in the state of Guerrero, where military officers destroyed entire villages suspected of helping the rebel leader Lucio Caba?as and tortured their inhabitants.

The report offers considerable detail, including the names of military officers responsible for various atrocities, from the razing of villages to the killing of student protesters.

It does not include orders signed by three presidents authorizing the crimes. Still, the document trail makes clear that the abuses were not the work of renegade officers, but an official government policy.

The events occurred during the administrations of Gustavo D?az Ordaz, Jos? L?pez Portillo and Mr. Echeverr?a. The federal security department kept the presidents informed about many aspects of the covert operations. Genocide charges against Mr. Echeverr?a, the only one still living, were thrown out in July by a judge who ruled that a statute of limitations had run out.

?At the end of this investigation,? the report says, ?it has been proved that the authoritarian regime, at the highest levels of command, impeded, criminalized and fought various parts of the population that organized itself to demand greater democratic participation.?

The authors of the report, which was assembled by 27 researchers, go on to state that ?the battle the regime waged against these groups ? organized among student movements and popular insurgencies ? was outside the law? and employed ?massacres, forced disappearances, systematic torture and genocide, in an attempt to destroy the part of society it considered its ideological enemy.?

27428  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: November 23, 2006, 07:04:31 AM
Rape case has Saudis asking questions about legal system
Woman who says she was raped faces punishment
By DONNA ABU-NASR
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
AL-AWWAMIYA, Saudi Arabia -- When the young woman went to the police a few months ago to report that she was gang-raped by seven men, she never imagined that the judge would punish her -- and that she would be sentenced to more lashes than one of her rapists received.
The story of the Girl of Qatif, as the alleged rape victim has been called by the media here, has triggered a rare debate about Saudi Arabia's legal system, in which judges have wide discretion in punishing a criminal, rules of evidence are shaky and sometimes no defense lawyers are present.
The result, critics say, are sentences left to the whim of judges. These include one in which a group of men got heavier sentences for harassing women than the men in the Girl of Qatif rape case or three men who were convicted of raping a boy. In another, a woman was ordered to divorce her husband against her will based on a demand by her relatives.
In the case of the Girl of Qatif, she was sentenced to 90 lashes for being alone in a car with a man to whom she was not married -- a crime in this strictly segregated country -- at the time that she was allegedly attacked and raped by a group of other men.
In the sleepy, Shiite village of al-Awwamiya on the outskirts of the eastern city of Qatif, the 19-year-old is struggling to forget the spring night that changed her life. An Associated Press reporter met her in a face-to-face interview. She spoke on condition of anonymity.
Her hands tremble, her dark brown eyes are lifeless. Her sleep is interrupted by a replay of the events, which she describes in a whisper.
That night, she said, she had left home to retrieve her picture from a male high school student she used to know. She had just been married -- but had not moved in with her husband -- and did not want her picture to remain with the student.
While the woman was in the car with the student, she said, two men intercepted them, got into the vehicle and drove the couple to a secluded area where the two were separated. She said she was raped by seven men, three of whom also allegedly raped her friend.
In a trial that ended this month -- in which the prosecutor asked for the death penalty for the seven men -- four of the men received one to five years in prison plus 80 to 1,000 lashes, the woman said. Three others are awaiting sentencing. Neither the defendants nor the plaintiffs retained lawyers, as is common here.

"The big shock came when the judge sentenced me and the man to 90 lashes each," the woman said.
The sentences have yet to be carried out, but the punishments ordered have caused an uproar.
Justice in Saudi Arabia is administered by a system of religious courts according to the kingdom's strict interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia. Judges -- who are appointed by the king on the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council -- have complete discretion to set sentences, except in cases where Sharia outlines a punishment.
Saudis are urging the Justice Ministry to clarify the logic behind some rulings. In one recent case, three men convicted of raping a 12-year-old boy received sentences of one to two years in prison and 300 lashes each. In contrast, another judge sentenced at least four men to six to 12 years imprisonment for fondling women in a tunnel in Riyadh.
Saleh al-Shehy, a columnist for Al-Watan, asked Justice Minister Abdullah Al-Sheik to explain why the boy's rapists got a lighter sentence than the men in last year's sexual harassment case.
"I won't ask you my brother, the minister, if you find the ruling satisfactory or not," wrote al-Shehy. "I will ask you, 'Do you think it satisfies God?' "
27429  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Cuchillo en el metro en Espana on: November 23, 2006, 06:53:19 AM
Para los quienes leen ingles, hay descripciones mas completas en
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1063.0
27430  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: November 22, 2006, 06:50:23 PM
Woof All:

Just a quick Spike deal Sit Rep:  Due to a last minute inability of Spike and the R1 Gym to come to terms, Spike did not shoot the DB Gathering on 11/19 as they and we intended.  Spike and DBIMA are looking to make it happen in another location.  If anyone has some possibilities please post here or email me via info@dogbrothers.com

Thanks
CD
27431  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: SEMINAR Die Less Often: Interface of Gun, Knife and Emtpy Hand on: November 22, 2006, 06:45:39 PM
This one is steadily filling up its fixed number of spaces folks.
27432  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Panantukan & Kali Tudo on: November 22, 2006, 06:44:43 PM
Tom:

"To add to that question. When at Gaje's camp in PI, you trained with a Panantukan/Suntukan instructor. How did his material vary from the Lucky Lucaylucay material that Guru Inosanto teaches (also from LaCoste, Villabraille, etc).?"

To be precise, the training with Manong Kalimba (sp?) was at GT Gaje's home in Bacolod.  GT recently informed me that he had passed away and cleared me to share what I was shown.  A bit of my footage with him may appear in the upcoming  DBMA "Kali Tudo 2: Striking and Clinch".  Poor lineage historian that I am, I am unable to break down clearly the different feeder systems of Inosanto Blend EH.   Much was familiar to me, but there were some very interesting differences too.

"My feeling is that MMA gunteens end up like Rodney King's Crazy Monkey with elbow destructions primarily. Someone who has seen Vinnie Giordano's DVD's from the Thai General on Muay Boran said that these positions (CM), are common in empty hand Thai. Rodney just got the okay to teach the methods of his older Thai instructor while in Thailand. Very interesting."

Completely consistent with, or better yet, a good example of, Guro Inosanto's concept of the common thread of the arts of the Majapahit Empire.

I agree that elbow destructions are one of the first applications of Panantukan.

Keith: 

I will get to your questions later.

TAC,
CD
27433  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Science vs. God on: November 22, 2006, 06:33:21 PM
Jerry:

I posted what I had-- sorry for the poor sourcing.

Anyway, as I posted nearby in the OPer thread, I'm hoping that you guys will get over your bashfulness and start kicking some things off.

Marc
27434  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: A Post From Our Piazza member on: November 22, 2006, 06:31:02 PM
Folks:

At the moment all the threads except two have been begun by me.  Please feel free to get some things going.

Marc
27435  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: November 22, 2006, 05:22:30 PM
Here's a different take on things:
========

November 22, 2006
How Violent Is Iraq?

I've written previously on the level of violence in Iraq, comparing it to
murder rates in other times and places and to death rates that have been
experienced in actual civil wars. See here and here, for example. My
impression has been that violence in Iraq has skyrocketed since July, when I
found that the murder rate in Iraq was 140 per 100,000 (the usual way in
which murder rates are expressed). I was surprised, therefore, to learn this
morning that rate of violence has increased only slightly:

The United Nations said Wednesday that 3,709 Iraqi civilians were killed in
October, the highest monthly toll since the March 2003 U.S. invasion and
another sign of the severity of Iraq's sectarian bloodbath.
That compares to an estimated 3,500 killed in July. If 3,709 people were
murdered in October, that translates to a rate of 171 per 100,000. That is a
high rate of violent death. But, for purposes of comparison, the murder rate
in Washington, D.C. in 1991 was 80 per 100,000. So the rate of violence in
Iraq today is just over double the rate in the District during the first
Bush administration. I don't recall anyone describing conditions in
Washington in the early 90s as a "bloodbath."

I wrote in June that based on the data at that time, the murder rate in Iraq
outside of Baghdad is about the same as American cities like Chicago,
Philadelphia and Milwaukee. With the current numbers, it looks like that
would still be true.

A consensus seems to have developed that Iraq is a disaster because of
out-of-control sectarian violence. That consensus is driving proposals to
change our policy in Iraq, perhaps in the direction of a pull-out that could
lead to truly cataclysmic violence. So I think it makes sense to step back
and get a more realistic picture of the level of what is happening in Iraq:
violent? Yes. A disaster comparable to a civil war? No.

Posted by John at 11:31 AM

http://powerlineblog.com/archives/015994.php
27436  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: November 22, 2006, 09:35:19 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Russia Cooperates, For Now

Russia appeared to make some conciliatory moves toward the United States on Tuesday. Russian President Vladimir Putin directed Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to coordinate with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in drafting a U.N. Security Council (UNSC) resolution on Iran and its nuclear program. Lavrov also implored Iran to answer all of the questions posed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, while criticizing Tehran for failing to address international concerns over its nuclear ambitions. He further expressed Moscow's concern at Iran's refusal to accept the package of incentives offered by Russia, the United States, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

This cooperative tone from the Russian foreign policy contingent is a marked reversal, and seems to be the product of the two meetings last week between Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush. Bush has helped to facilitate Russia's entrance into the World Trade Organization (WTO), and it appears that the bargain is paying off. However, this is Russia -- nothing is that simple.

The most help on Iran that the Bush administration can hope for from Russia is Moscow's abstention from vetoing a sanctions resolution in the UNSC. Russia has submitted amendments to the existing draft, demanding that any imposed sanctions not be punitive and that Iran be allowed to retain its civilian nuclear program. In light of the newfound spirit of cooperation between Moscow and Washington, any final resolution is thus likely to contain language of compromise on those matters.

However, there is only so far Russia will go toward the U.S. position. Moscow will protect its geopolitical interests at all costs, including abandoning the ever-closer prospect of WTO membership if the Kremlin deems that necessary. Russia is aggressively seeking to secure its own interests, whether it be through using energy as an arm of its foreign policy, jockeying for influence in Middle Eastern affairs, or targeting its own former operatives in exile. The Kremlin's goal is to distract Washington as much as possible, in order to prevent the United States from paying too much attention to Russia's internal affairs and its near abroad.

The overarching tensions between the two Cold War adversaries jeopardize any real consensus on Iran or any other issue. While Bush's breakfast diplomacy appears to be paying off so far, Russia's helpful streak will continue only as long as it is advantageous (or at least not detrimental) to Russian political and economic interests.

Certainly, Washington can -- and might -- do more to coerce Moscow's cooperation. Russia's WTO membership could still be jeopardized by Georgia, which has rescinded its signature from their bilateral agreement. Tbilisi could come to compromise on its position, however, with a little incentive from Washington.

Russia and the United States will take measured steps toward each other, always retaining the option to reverse course if their interests evolve to require it. Although Tuesday's statements suggest a degree of compromise between Moscow and Washington, they do not signal a lasting strategic consensus -- merely a tactical, and temporary, bout of cooperation.

stratfor.com
27437  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / !Que verguenza! on: November 21, 2006, 10:46:15 PM




=============
Me imagino que alguien estara' buscando nuevo trabajo , , ,  evil

Martes 21 de noviembre de 2006 | Actualizado 19:35 hs (hace 6 horas 8 minutos)
Noticias | Informaci?n general | Nota
 
Asaltaron en Buenos Aires a una de las hijas de Bush
 
Barbara, que visita de inc?gnito nuestro pa?s, sufri? un robo en San Telmo
   
Una de las hijas mellizas del presidente norteamericano, George W. Bush, fue v?ctima de la inseguridad en Buenos Aires, anoche, durante una visita que la joven realiza en el pa?s.

Una fuente oficial, que pidi? no ser identificada, confirm? a la agencia estatal T?lam que el episodio ocurri? anoche cuando Barbara Bush fue sorprendida por delincuentes que le sustrajeron la cartera.

Seg?n la fuente, la joven se hallaba cenando en un restaurante ubicado en el circuito tur?stico del barrio de San Telmo y, en un episodio cuyos detalles no trascendieron, sufri? el robo del bolso en el cual llevaba una tarjeta de cr?dito.

La fuente consultada confirm? que la hija de Bush se encuentra en el pa?s desde hace 20 d?as y est? alojada en un hotel del barrio de San Telmo, donde la custodian guardaespaldas del servicio secreto de los Estados Unidos.

El sitio de internet de la cadena televisiva ABC News se?al? que Barbara Bush sufri? el robo a pesar de estar protegida por el servicio secreto que custodia a toda la familia presidencial.

La nota de ABC News, que cita un informe del servicio secreto, adem?s se?al? que un agente secreto que hab?a llegado anteriormente por la visita al pa?s de la hija del presidente estadounidense sufri? "un altercado" con desconocidos.

Seg?n la cadena televisiva, el servicio secreto se?al? que no iba a haber comentarios sobre el hecho y la oficina de la primera dama, Laura Bush, dijo que "no comentar?" sobre un viaje no oficial realizado por sus hijas.

La joven acompa?a a su hermana, Jenna Bush, que hab?a viajado a Paraguay para trabajar en un programa de Unicef.

Jenna y su hermana aprovecharon su paso por la Argentina, y salieron a cenar anoche por San Telmo. Ambas ten?an programado un viaje al Chaco para conocer de cerca la vida en las aldeas ind?genas.



Link corto: http://www.lanacion.com.ar/860913

27438  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: November 21, 2006, 07:13:39 PM
No one is taking Rangel seriously.  He is a long-time rabble rouser who enjoys posturing for TV cameras.  Due to his seniority in Congress he is in a position to start investigations and be a pain-in-the-butt.  That said, there has been a goodly amount of corrupt looking practices by the Bush Administration that do deserve investigation.  Of course Rangel will try to take it further than that.

The Stratfor piece preceding your post has a pretty sound analysis IMHO.  The military doesn't want it, the people don't want it.  Its going nowhere.
27439  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: November 21, 2006, 03:58:33 PM
A Fresh Look at the Draft
By George Friedman

New York Democrat Charles Rangel, the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has called for the reinstatement of the draft. This is not new for him; he has argued for it for several years. Nor does Rangel -- or anyone else -- expect a proposal for conscription to pass. However, whether this is political posturing or a sincere attempt to start a conversation about America's military, Rangel is making an important point that should be considered. This is doubly true at a time when future strategies are being considered in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the available force is being strained to its limits.

The United States has practiced conscription in all major wars since the Civil War. During the Cold War, the United States practiced conscription continually, using it to fight both the Korean and Vietnam wars, but also to maintain the peacetime army. Conscription ended in 1973 as the U.S. role in Vietnam declined and as political opposition to the draft surged. From that point on, the United States shifted to a volunteer force.

Rangel's core criticism of the volunteer force is social. He argues that the burden of manning the military and fighting the war has fallen, both during Vietnam War conscription and in the volunteer army, for different reasons, on the lower and middle-lower classes. Apart from other arguments -- such as the view that if the rich were being drafted, the Vietnam and Iraq wars would have ended sooner -- Rangel's essential point is that the way the United States has manned the military since World War II is inherently unjust. It puts the lower classes at risk in fighting wars, leaving the upper classes free to pursue their lives and careers.

The problem with this argument is not the moral point, which is that the burden of national defense should be borne by all classes, but rather the argument that a draft would be more equitable. Rangel's view of the military and the draft was shaped by Vietnam -- and during Vietnam, there was conscription. But it was an inherently inequitable conscription, in the sense that during most of the war, deferments were given for students. That deferment, earlier in the war, extended to graduate school. As a result, by definition, the less-educated were more vulnerable to conscription than the more-educated. There were a host of deferments, including medical deferments, and the sophisticated could game the system easily. A draft, by itself, does not in any way guarantee equity.

During the final years of the Vietnam-era draft, the deferment system was replaced by a lottery. This was intended to (and, to some extent, did) reduce the inequities of the system, although sophisticated college students with low numbers continued to find ways to avoid conscription using the complex rules of the Selective Service system -- ways that the less-educated still couldn't use. The lottery system was an improvement, but in the end, it still meant that some would go into harm's way while others would stay home and carry on their lives. Basing the draft on a lottery might have mitigated social injustice, but basing life-and-death matters such as going to war on the luck of the draw still strikes us as inappropriate.

The switch from deferments to the lottery points out one of the key problems of conscription. The United States does not need, and cannot afford, a military that would consist of all of the men (and now, we assume, women) aged 19-21. That would create a force far too large and far too inexperienced. The lottery was designed to deal with a reality in which the United States needed conscription, but could not cope with universal conscription. Some method had to be found to determine who would and would not serve -- and any such method would be either unfair or arbitrary.

Americans remember World War II as, in many ways, the morally perfect war: the right enemy, the right spirit and the right military. But World War II was unique in that the United States had to field an enormous military. While some had to man truly essential industries, and some were medically disqualified, World War II was a case in which universal conscription was absolutely needed because the size of the force had to be equal to the size of the total pool of available and qualified manpower, minus essential workers. Unless it suited the needs of the military, no one was deferred. Married men with children, brilliant graduate students, the children of the rich and famous -- all went. There were still inequities in the kinds of assignments people got and the pull that was sometimes used. But what made the World War II conscription system work well was that everyone was needed and everyone was called.

Not everyone is needed in today's military. You might make the case for universal service -- people helping teachers and cleaning playgrounds. But there is a fundamental difference between these jobs and, at least in principle, the military. In the military, you might be called on to risk your life and die. For the most part, that isn't expected from teacher's aides. Thus, even if there were universal service, you would still be left with the dilemma of who gets to teach arts and crafts and who goes on patrol in Baghdad. Universal conscription does not solve the problem inherent in military conscription.

And there is an even more fundamental issue. During World War II, conscription, for just about everyone, meant service until the end of the war. During the Cold War, there was no clear end in sight. Since not everyone was conscripted, having conscripts serve until the end of the war could mean a lifetime of service. The decision was made that draftees would serve for two years and remain part of the reserve for a period of time thereafter.

Training during World War II took weeks for most combat specialties, with further training undertaken with soldiers' units or through combat. In World War II, the United States had a mass-produced army with plenty of time to mature after training. During Vietnam, conscripts went through basic training and advanced training, leaving a year for deployment in Vietnam and some months left over after the tour of duty. Jobs that required more complex training, from Special Forces to pilots to computer programmers, were handled by volunteers who served at least three years and, in many cases, longer. The draftee was used to provide the mass. The complexities of the war were still handled by a volunteer force.

The Battle of the Bulge took place 62 years ago. The Tet Offensive was nearly 39 years ago. The 90-day-wonder officers served well in World War II, and the draftee riflemen were valiant in Vietnam, but military requirements have changed dramatically. Now the military depends on highly trained specialists and groups of specialists, whose specialties -- from rifleman to warehouse worker -- have become more and more complex and sophisticated. On the whole, the contemporary Army, which historically has absorbed most draftees, needs more than two years in order to train draftees in their specialties, integrate them with their units and deploy them to combat.

Today, a two-year draft would be impractical because, on the whole, it would result in spending huge amounts of money on training, with very little time in actual service to show for it. Conscription could, of course, be extended to a three- or even four-year term, but with only selective service -- meaning that only a fraction of those eligible would be called -- that extension would only intensify the unfairness. Some would spend three or four years in the military, while others would be moving ahead with schools and careers. In effect, it would be a huge tax on the draftees for years of earnings lost.

A new U.S. draft might force the children of the wealthy into the military, but only at the price of creating other inequities and a highly inefficient Army. The training cycle and retention rate of a two-year draft would swamp the Army. In Iraq, the Army needs Special Forces, Civil Affairs specialists, linguists, intelligence analysts, unmanned aerial vehicle operators and so on. You can draft for that, we suppose, but it is hard to imagine building a force that way.

A volunteer force is a much more efficient way to field an Army. There is more time for training, there is a higher probability of retention and there are far fewer morale problems. Rangel is wrong in comparing the social base of this Army with that of Vietnam. But the basic point he is trying to make is true: The makeup of the U.S. Army is skewed toward the middle and lower-middle class. But then, so are many professions. Few children of the wealthy get jobs in the Social Security Administration or become professional boxers. The fact that the Army does not reflect the full social spectrum of the country doesn't mean very much. Hardly anything reflects that well.

Still, Rangel is making an important point, even if his argument for the draft does not work. War is a special activity of society. It is one of the few in which the citizen is expected -- at least in principle -- to fight and, if necessary, die for his country. It is more than a career. It is an existential commitment, a willingness to place oneself at risk for one's country. The fact that children of the upper classes, on the whole, do not make that existential commitment represents a tremendous weakness in American society. When those who benefit most from a society feel no obligation to defend it, there is a deep and significant malaise in that society.

However, we have been speaking consistently here about the children of the rich, and not of the rich themselves. Combat used to be for the young. It required stamina and strength. That is still needed. However, there are two points to be made. First, many -- perhaps most -- jobs in today's military that do not require the stamina of youth, as proven by all the contractors doing essentially military work in Iraq. Second, 18- to 22-year-olds are far from the most physically robust age group. Given modern diet and health regimens, there are people who are substantially older who have the stamina and strength for combat duty. If you can play tennis as well as you claim to for as long as you say, you can patrol a village in the Sunni Triangle.

We do not expect to be taken seriously on this proposal, but we will make it anyway: There is no inherent reason why enlistment -- or conscription -- should be targeted toward those in late adolescence. And there is no reason why the rich themselves, rather than the children of the rich, should not go to war. Or, for that matter, why older people with established skills should not be drawn into the military. That happened in World War II, and it could happen now. The military's stove-pipe approach to military careers, and the fact that it allows almost no lateral movement into service for 40- to 60-year-olds, is irrational. Even if we exclude combat arms, other specialties could be well-served by such a method -- which also would reduce the need for viciously expensive contractors.

Traditionally, the draft has fallen on those who were barely adults, who had not yet had a chance to live, who were the least equipped to fight a complex war. Other age groups were safe. Rangel is talking about drafting the children of the rich. It would be much more interesting, if the United States were to introduce the draft, to impose it in a different way, on entirely different age groups. Let the young get on with starting their lives. Let those who have really benefited from society, who have already lived, ante up.

Modern war does not require the service of 19-year-olds. In the field, you need the strong, agile and smart, but we know several graying types who still could hack that. And in the offices that proliferate in the military, experienced businesspeople would do even better at modernizing the system. If they were drafted, and went into harm's way, they would know exactly what they were fighting for and why -- something we hardly think most 19-year-olds really know yet.

Obviously, no one is going to adopt this crackpot proposal, even though we are quite serious about it. But we ask that you take seriously two points. Rangel is correct in saying that the upper classes in American society are not pulling their weight. But if the parents haven't served, we cannot reasonably expect the children to do so. If Americans are serious about dealing with the crisis of lack of service among the wealthiest, then they should look to the wealthiest first, rather than their children.
Send questions or comments on this
27440  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Science & God on: November 21, 2006, 09:32:38 AM
A Free-for-All on Science and Religion
By GEORGE JOHNSON
Maybe the pivotal moment came when Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in physics, warned that ?the world needs to wake up from its long nightmare of religious belief,? or when a Nobelist in chemistry, Sir Harold Kroto, called for the John Templeton Foundation to give its next $1.5 million prize for ?progress in spiritual discoveries? to an atheist ? Richard Dawkins, the Oxford evolutionary biologist whose book ?The God Delusion? is a national best-seller.
Or perhaps the turning point occurred at a more solemn moment, when Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City and an adviser to the Bush administration on space exploration, hushed the audience with heartbreaking photographs of newborns misshapen by birth defects ? testimony, he suggested, that blind nature, not an intelligent overseer, is in control.
Somewhere along the way, a forum this month at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., which might have been one more polite dialogue between science and religion, began to resemble the founding convention for a political party built on a single plank: in a world dangerously charged with ideology, science needs to take on an evangelical role, vying with religion as teller of the greatest story ever told.
Carolyn Porco, a senior research scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., called, half in jest, for the establishment of an alternative church, with Dr. Tyson, whose powerful celebration of scientific discovery had the force and cadence of a good sermon, as its first minister.
She was not entirely kidding. ?We should let the success of the religious formula guide us,? Dr. Porco said. ?Let?s teach our children from a very young age about the story of the universe and its incredible richness and beauty. It is already so much more glorious and awesome ? and even comforting ? than anything offered by any scripture or God concept I know.?
She displayed a picture taken by the Cassini spacecraft of Saturn and its glowing rings eclipsing the Sun, revealing in the shadow a barely noticeable speck called Earth.
There has been no shortage of conferences in recent years, commonly organized by the Templeton Foundation, seeking to smooth over the differences between science and religion and ending in a metaphysical draw. Sponsored instead by the Science Network, an educational organization based in California, and underwritten by a San Diego investor, Robert Zeps (who acknowledged his role as a kind of ?anti-Templeton?), the La Jolla meeting, ?Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival,? rapidly escalated into an invigorating intellectual free-for-all. (Unedited video of the proceedings will be posted on the Web at tsntv.org.)
A presentation by Joan Roughgarden, a Stanford University biologist, on using biblical metaphor to ease her fellow Christians into accepting evolution (a mutation is ?a mustard seed of DNA?) was dismissed by Dr. Dawkins as ?bad poetry,? while his own take-no-prisoners approach (religious education is ?brainwashing? and ?child abuse?) was condemned by the anthropologist Melvin J. Konner, who said he had ?not a flicker? of religious faith, as simplistic and uninformed.
After enduring two days of talks in which the Templeton Foundation came under the gun as smudging the line between science and faith, Charles L. Harper Jr., its senior vice president, lashed back, denouncing what he called ?pop conflict books? like Dr. Dawkins?s ?God Delusion,? as ?commercialized ideological scientism? ? promoting for profit the philosophy that science has a monopoly on truth.
That brought an angry rejoinder from Richard P. Sloan, a professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, who said his own book, ?Blind Faith: The Unholy Alliance of Religion and Medicine,? was written to counter ?garbage research? financed by Templeton on, for example, the healing effects of prayer.
With atheists and agnostics outnumbering the faithful (a few believing scientists, like Francis S. Collins, author of ?The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief,? were invited but could not attend), one speaker after another called on their colleagues to be less timid in challenging teachings about nature based only on scripture and belief. ?The core of science is not a mathematical model; it is intellectual honesty,? said Sam Harris, a doctoral student in neuroscience and the author of ?The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason? and ?Letter to a Christian Nation.?
?Every religion is making claims about the way the world is,? he said. ?These are claims about the divine origin of certain books, about the virgin birth of certain people, about the survival of the human personality after death. These claims purport to be about reality.?
By shying away from questioning people?s deeply felt beliefs, even the skeptics, Mr. Harris said, are providing safe harbor for ideas that are at best mistaken and at worst dangerous. ?I don?t know how many more engineers and architects need to fly planes into our buildings before we realize that this is not merely a matter of lack of education or economic despair,? he said.
Dr. Weinberg, who famously wrote toward the end of his 1977 book on cosmology, ?The First Three Minutes,? that ?the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless,? went a step further: ?Anything that we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done and may in the end be our greatest contribution to civilization.?
With a rough consensus that the grand stories of evolution by natural selection and the blossoming of the universe from the Big Bang are losing out in the intellectual marketplace, most of the discussion came down to strategy. How can science fight back without appearing to be just one more ideology?
?There are six billion people in the world,? said Francisco J. Ayala, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Irvine, and a former Roman Catholic priest. ?If we think that we are going to persuade them to live a rational life based on scientific knowledge, we are not only dreaming ? it is like believing in the fairy godmother.?
?People need to find meaning and purpose in life,? he said. ?I don?t think we want to take that away from them.?
Lawrence M. Krauss, a physicist at Case Western Reserve University known for his staunch opposition to teaching creationism, found himself in the unfamiliar role of playing the moderate. ?I think we need to respect people?s philosophical notions unless those notions are wrong,? he said.
?The Earth isn?t 6,000 years old,? he said. ?The Kennewick man was not a Umatilla Indian.? But whether there really is some kind of supernatural being ? Dr. Krauss said he was a nonbeliever ? is a question unanswerable by theology, philosophy or even science. ?Science does not make it impossible to believe in God,? Dr. Krauss insisted. ?We should recognize that fact and live with it and stop being so pompous about it.?
That was just the kind of accommodating attitude that drove Dr. Dawkins up the wall. ?I am utterly fed up with the respect that we ? all of us, including the secular among us ? are brainwashed into bestowing on religion,? he said. ?Children are systematically taught that there is a higher kind of knowledge which comes from faith, which comes from revelation, which comes from scripture, which comes from tradition, and that it is the equal if not the superior of knowledge that comes from real evidence.?
By the third day, the arguments had become so heated that Dr. Konner was reminded of ?a den of vipers.?
?With a few notable exceptions,? he said, ?the viewpoints have run the gamut from A to B. Should we bash religion with a crowbar or only with a baseball bat??
His response to Mr. Harris and Dr. Dawkins was scathing. ?I think that you and Richard are remarkably apt mirror images of the extremists on the other side,? he said, ?and that you generate more fear and hatred of science.?
Dr. Tyson put it more gently. ?Persuasion isn?t always ?Here are the facts ? you?re an idiot or you are not,? ? he said. ?I worry that your methods? ? he turned toward Dr. Dawkins ? ?how articulately barbed you can be, end up simply being ineffective, when you have much more power of influence.?
Chastened for a millisecond, Dr. Dawkins replied, ?I gratefully accept the rebuke.?
In the end it was Dr. Tyson?s celebration of discovery that stole the show. Scientists may scoff at people who fall back on explanations involving an intelligent designer, he said, but history shows that ?the most brilliant people who ever walked this earth were doing the same thing.? When Isaac Newton?s ?Principia Mathematica? failed to account for the stability of the solar system ? why the planets tugging at one another?s orbits have not collapsed into the Sun ? Newton proposed that propping up the mathematical mobile was ?an intelligent and powerful being.?
It was left to Pierre Simon Laplace, a century later, to take the next step. Hautily telling Napoleon that he had no need for the God hypothesis, Laplace extended Newton?s mathematics and opened the way to a purely physical theory.
?What concerns me now is that even if you?re as brilliant as Newton, you reach a point where you start basking in the majesty of God and then your discovery stops ? it just stops,? Dr. Tyson said. ?You?re no good anymore for advancing that frontier, waiting for somebody else to come behind you who doesn?t have God on the brain and who says: ?That?s a really cool problem. I want to solve it.? ?
?Science is a philosophy of discovery; intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance,? he said. ?Something fundamental is going on in people?s minds when they confront things they don?t understand.?
He told of a time, more than a millennium ago, when Baghdad reigned as the intellectual center of the world, a history fossilized in the night sky. The names of the constellations are Greek and Roman, Dr. Tyson said, but two-thirds of the stars have Arabic names. The words ?algebra? and ?algorithm? are Arabic.
But sometime around 1100, a dark age descended. Mathematics became seen as the work of the devil, as Dr. Tyson put it. ?Revelation replaced investigation,? he said, and the intellectual foundation collapsed.
He did not have to say so, but the implication was that maybe a century, maybe a millennium from now, the names of new planets, stars and galaxies might be Chinese. Or there may be no one to name them at all.
Before he left to fly back home to Austin, Dr. Weinberg seemed to soften for a moment, describing religion a bit fondly as a crazy old aunt.
?She tells lies, and she stirs up all sorts of mischief and she?s getting on, and she may not have that much life left in her, but she was beautiful once,? he lamented. ?When she?s gone, we may miss her.?
Dr. Dawkins wasn?t buying it. ?I won't miss her at all,? he said. ?Not a scrap. Not a smidgen.?
27441  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics, Investing, & Technology on: November 21, 2006, 07:47:08 AM
The charts with this piece don't print here, but still worth the read.
===============

From Ritholtz..
The Return of M3
in Data Analysis | Economy | Federal Reserve
Last year, we lamented the passing of M3 reporting. This broadest of money supply measures had shown a discomforting increase in liquidity, far greater than what M2 was revealing. 

At the time of the M3 announcement, we suspected the Fed was attempting to cover their tracks, disguising an ongoing increase in money supply and an unstated "easing" in Fed bias. Since that time, we have learned: the Treasury Department was also adding liquidity -- a duty they have assumed, in part, in addition to the same performed by the Fed. Indeed, based on the credit growth data Doug Noland published last month ( October Credit Review), it appears that the Fed has ? despite increasing interest rates ? actually eased over the last two years.

In light of all this excess cash sloshing around, we wondered what M3 might look like if it were still being reported.

Wonder no more:  We  have located 2 separate sources  for the reporting of M3. The first is Nowandfutures.com. As this article discusses, recreating M3 from publicly available data was relatively easy to do (to 5 nines accuracy).

As the chart below shows, M3 is alive and well and growing significantly. (A longer term M3 chart can be found here).

>

M3 January 2003 to present
click for larger graph


 

Source: Now and Future

>

Why is this significant? Well, M3 is growing quite rapidly, with the annual rate of change now over 10%. Prior to the announcement of M3's demise, its growth was in the range of 3 - 7%.

Anytime a government agency stops reporting about their goings on, it should raise a few eyebrows. Now we see what happened once the reporting of M3 was killed -- that measure of money supply spiked much higher -- a rate of change that's even greater than 10%+.

Funny how we alter our behavior when we think no one is watching what we are doing, isn't it?

What makes this particularly egregious is that the broadest measure of Money Supply that is still "officially" reported -- M2 -- and its been flat for 2006 (as my pal LK likes to remind me all the time).

Have a look at this chart: 

>

M2 versus M3 Money Supply Growth


Source: Shadow Government Statistics

>   

This is a classic case of "ignore what they are saying, because what they are doing is speaking so loud:"  While the Federal Reserve has been reporting rather flat money supply growth in M2 ( blue line), in reality they have been dramatically increasing the cash (red and blue line) available for speculation.

Hence, that sloshing sound you heard. They have been providing the fuel for the rally, the huge M&A activity, the explosion in derivatives -- even the eye popping Art auctions are part of the shift from cash to hard assets. It is just suupply and demand -- print lots of lots of anything, and that thing becomes increasingly devalued. It works the same for cash as it did for Beanie Babies.


Its not just the increase in Money Supply that should be concerning to investors -- its the misdirection about it. If Money Supply matters so little, as Fed Chair Bernanke has been out explaining to anyone who will listen, why pray tell has the Fed been working those printing presses overtime?

Given M3 increases, its no wonder the European Central Bankers laughed at the suggestion.

~~~

William McChesney Martin, Jr., Fed  Chair from April 2, 1951 to January 31, 1970, famously described the role of Central Banks thusly:  "The job of the Federal Reserve is to take away the punch bowl just when the party starts getting interesting."

It seems the present Fed is not only NOT taking the punch bowl away -- they are spiking it with alcohol. I am not looking forward to the hangover that's to follow . . . 

27442  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hersch: Next Act-part three on: November 21, 2006, 07:40:43 AM
A senior diplomat in Vienna told me that, in response to the allegations, I.A.E.A. inspectors went to Parchin in November of 2005, after months of negotiation. An inspection team was allowed to single out a specific site at the base, and then was granted access to a few buildings there. ?We found no evidence of nuclear materials,? the diplomat said. The inspectors looked hard at an underground explosive-testing pit that, he said, ?resembled what South Africa had when it developed its nuclear weapons,? three decades ago. The pit could have been used for the kind of kinetic research needed to test a nuclear trigger. But, like so many military facilities with dual-use potential, ?it also could be used for other things,? such as testing fuel for rockets, which routinely takes place at Parchin. ?The Iranians have demonstrated that they can enrich uranium,? the diplomat added, ?and trigger tests without nuclear yield can be done. But it?s a very sophisticated process?it?s also known as hydrodynamic testing?and only countries with suitably advanced nuclear testing facilities as well as the necessary scientific expertise can do it. I?d be very skeptical that Iran could do it.?

Earlier this month, the allegations about Parchin re?merged when Yediot Ahronot, Israel?s largest newspaper, reported that recent satellite imagery showed new ?massive construction? at Parchin, suggesting an expansion of underground tunnels and chambers. The newspaper sharply criticized the I.A.E.A.?s inspection process and its director, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, for his insistence on ?using very neutral wording for his findings and his conclusions.?

Patrick Clawson, an expert on Iran who is the deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a conservative think tank, told me that the ?biggest moment? of tension has yet to arrive: ?How does the United States keep an Israeli decision point?one that may come sooner than we want?from being reached?? Clawson noted that there is evidence that Iran has been slowed by technical problems in the construction and operation of two small centrifuge cascades, which are essential for the pilot production of enriched uranium. Both are now under I.A.E.A. supervision. ?Why were they so slow in getting the second cascade up and running?? Clawson asked. ?And why haven?t they run the first one as much as they said they would? Do we have more time?

?Why talk about war?? he said. ?We?re not talking about going to war with North Korea or Venezuela. It?s not necessarily the case that Iran has started a weapons program, and it?s conceivable?just conceivable?that Iran does not have a nuclear-weapons program yet. We can slow them down?force them to reinvent the wheel?without bombing, especially if the international conditions get better.?

Clawson added that Secretary of State Rice has ?staked her reputation on diplomacy, and she will not risk her career without evidence. Her team is saying, ?What?s the rush?? The President wants to solve the Iranian issue before leaving office, but he may have to say, ?Darn, I wish I could have solved it.? ?



Earlier this year, the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert created a task force to co?rdinate all the available intelligence on Iran. The task force, which is led by Major General Eliezer Shkedi, the head of the Israeli Air Force, reports directly to the Prime Minister. In late October, Olmert appointed Ephraim Sneh, a Labor Party member of the Knesset, to serve as Deputy Defense Minister. Sneh, who served previously in that position under Ehud Barak, has for years insisted that action be taken to prevent Iran from getting the bomb. In an interview this month with the Jerusalem Post, Sneh expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of diplomacy or international sanctions in curbing Iran:

The danger isn?t as much Ahmadinejad?s deciding to launch an attack but Israel?s living under a dark cloud of fear from a leader committed to its destruction. . . . Most Israelis would prefer not to live here; most Jews would prefer not to come here with families, and Israelis who can live abroad will . . . I am afraid Ahmadinejad will be able to kill the Zionist dream without pushing a button. That?s why we must prevent this regime from obtaining nuclear capability at all costs.

A similar message was delivered by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Likud leader, in a speech in Los Angeles last week. ?It?s 1938 and Iran is Germany. And Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs,? he said, adding that there was ?still time? to stop the Iranians.

The Pentagon consultant told me that, while there may be pressure from the Israelis, ?they won?t do anything on their own without our green light.? That assurance, he said, ?comes from the Cheney shop. It?s Cheney himself who is saying, ?We?re not going to leave you high and dry, but don?t go without us.? ? A senior European diplomat agreed: ?For Israel, it is a question of life or death. The United States does not want to go into Iran, but, if Israel feels more and more cornered, there may be no other choice.?

A nuclear-armed Iran would not only threaten Israel. It could trigger a strategic-arms race throughout the Middle East, as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt?all led by Sunni governments?would be compelled to take steps to defend themselves. The Bush Administration, if it does take military action against Iran, would have support from Democrats as well as Republicans. Senators Hillary Clinton, of New York, and Evan Bayh, of Indiana, who are potential Democratic Presidential candidates, have warned that Iran cannot be permitted to build a bomb and that?as Clinton said earlier this year??we cannot take any option off the table.? Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has also endorsed this view. Last May, Olmert was given a rousing reception when he addressed a joint session of Congress and declared, ?A nuclear Iran means a terrorist state could achieve the primary mission for which terrorists live and die?the mass destruction of innocent human life. This challenge, which I believe is the test of our time, is one the West cannot afford to fail.?

Despite such rhetoric, Leslie Gelb, a former State Department official who is a president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, said he believes that, ?when push comes to shove, the Israelis will have a hard time selling the idea that an Iranian nuclear capability is imminent. The military and the State Department will be flat against a pre?mptive bombing campaign.? Gelb said he hoped that Gates?s appointment would add weight to America?s most pressing issue??to get some level of Iranian restraint inside Iraq. In the next year or two, we?re much more likely to be negotiating with Iran than bombing it.?



The Bush Administration remains publicly committed to a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear impasse, and has been working with China, Russia, France, Germany, and Britain to get negotiations under way. So far, that effort has foundered; the most recent round of talks broke up early in November, amid growing disagreements with Russia and China about the necessity of imposing harsh United Nations sanctions on the Iranian regime. President Bush is adamant that Iran must stop all of its enrichment programs before any direct talks involving the United States can begin.

The senior European diplomat told me that the French President, Jacques Chirac, and President Bush met in New York on September 19th, as the new U.N. session was beginning, and agreed on what the French called the ?Big Bang? approach to breaking the deadlock with Iran. A scenario was presented to Ali Larijani, the chief Iranian negotiator on nuclear issues. The Western delegation would sit down at a negotiating table with Iran. The diplomat told me, ?We would say, ?We?re beginning the negotiations without preconditions,? and the Iranians would respond, ?We will suspend.? Our side would register great satisfaction, and the Iranians would agree to accept I.A.E.A. inspection of their enrichment facilities. And then the West would announce, in return, that they would suspend any U.N. sanctions.? The United States would not be at the table when the talks began but would join later. Larijani took the offer to Tehran; the answer, as relayed by Larijani, was no, the diplomat said. ?We were trying to compromise, for all sides, but Ahmadinejad did not want to save face,? the diplomat said. ?The beautiful scenario has gone nowhere.?

Last week, there was a heightened expectation that the Iraq Study Group would produce a set of recommendations that could win bipartisan approval and guide America out of the quagmire in Iraq. Sources with direct knowledge of the panel?s proceedings have told me that the group, as of mid-November, had ruled out calling for an immediate and complete American withdrawal but would recommend focussing on the improved training of Iraqi forces and on redeploying American troops. In the most significant recommendation, Baker and Hamilton were expected to urge President Bush to do what he has thus far refused to do?bring Syria and Iran into a regional conference to help stabilize Iraq.

It is not clear whether the Administration will be receptive. In August, according to the former senior intelligence official, Rumsfeld asked the Joint Chiefs to quietly devise alternative plans for Iraq, to pre?mpt new proposals, whether they come from the new Democratic majority or from the Iraq Study Group. ?The option of last resort is to move American forces out of the cities and relocate them along the Syrian and Iranian border,? the former official said. ?Civilians would be hired to train the Iraqi police, with the eventual goal of separating the local police from the Iraqi military. The White House believes that if American troops stay in Iraq long enough?with enough troops?the bad guys will end up killing each other, and Iraqi citizens, fed up with internal strife, will come up with a solution. It?ll take a long time to move the troops and train the police. It?s a time line to infinity.?

In a subsequent interview, the former senior Bush Administration official said that he had also been told that the Pentagon has been at work on a plan in Iraq that called for a military withdrawal from the major urban areas to a series of fortified bases near the borders. The working assumption was that, with the American troops gone from the most heavily populated places, the sectarian violence would ?burn out.? ?The White House is saying it?s going to stabilize,? the former senior Administration official said, ?but it may stabilize the wrong way.?

One problem with the proposal that the Administration enlist Iran in reaching a settlement of the conflict in Iraq is that it?s not clear that Iran would be interested, especially if the goal is to help the Bush Administration extricate itself from a bad situation.

?Iran is emerging as a dominant power in the Middle East,? I was told by a Middle East expert and former senior Administration official. ?With a nuclear program, and an ability to interfere throughout the region, it?s basically calling the shots. Why should they co?perate with us over Iraq?? He recounted a recent meeting with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who challenged Bush?s right to tell Iran that it could not enrich uranium. ?Why doesn?t America stop enriching uranium?? the Iranian President asked. He laughed, and added, ?We?ll enrich it for you and sell it to you at a fifty-per-cent discount.?
27443  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hersch: Next Act-part two on: November 21, 2006, 07:39:22 AM
 
The Administration?s planning for a military attack on Iran was made far more complicated earlier this fall by a highly classified draft assessment by the C.I.A. challenging the White House?s assumptions about how close Iran might be to building a nuclear bomb. The C.I.A. found no conclusive evidence, as yet, of a secret Iranian nuclear-weapons program running parallel to the civilian operations that Iran has declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency. (The C.I.A. declined to comment on this story.)

The C.I.A.?s analysis, which has been circulated to other agencies for comment, was based on technical intelligence collected by overhead satellites, and on other empirical evidence, such as measurements of the radioactivity of water samples and smoke plumes from factories and power plants. Additional data have been gathered, intelligence sources told me, by high-tech (and highly classified) radioactivity-detection devices that clandestine American and Israeli agents placed near suspected nuclear-weapons facilities inside Iran in the past year or so. No significant amounts of radioactivity were found.

A current senior intelligence official confirmed the existence of the C.I.A. analysis, and told me that the White House had been hostile to it. The White House?s dismissal of the C.I.A. findings on Iran is widely known in the intelligence community. Cheney and his aides discounted the assessment, the former senior intelligence official said. ?They?re not looking for a smoking gun,? the official added, referring to specific intelligence about Iranian nuclear planning. ?They?re looking for the degree of comfort level they think they need to accomplish the mission.? The Pentagon?s Defense Intelligence Agency also challenged the C.I.A.?s analysis. ?The D.I.A. is fighting the agency?s conclusions, and disputing its approach,? the former senior intelligence official said. Bush and Cheney, he added, can try to prevent the C.I.A. assessment from being incorporated into a forthcoming National Intelligence Estimate on Iranian nuclear capabilities, ?but they can?t stop the agency from putting it out for comment inside the intelligence community.? The C.I.A. assessment warned the White House that it would be a mistake to conclude that the failure to find a secret nuclear-weapons program in Iran merely meant that the Iranians had done a good job of hiding it. The former senior intelligence official noted that at the height of the Cold War the Soviets were equally skilled at deception and misdirection, yet the American intelligence community was readily able to unravel the details of their long-range-missile and nuclear-weapons programs. But some in the White House, including in Cheney?s office, had made just such an assumption?that ?the lack of evidence means they must have it,? the former official said.

Iran is a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty, under which it is entitled to conduct nuclear research for peaceful purposes. Despite the offer of trade agreements and the prospect of military action, it defied a demand by the I.A.E.A. and the Security Council, earlier this year, that it stop enriching uranium?a process that can produce material for nuclear power plants as well as for weapons?and it has been unable, or unwilling, to account for traces of plutonium and highly enriched uranium that have been detected during I.A.E.A. inspections. The I.A.E.A. has complained about a lack of ?transparency,? although, like the C.I.A., it has not found unambiguous evidence of a secret weapons program.

Last week, Iran?s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announced that Iran had made further progress in its enrichment research program, and said, ?We know that some countries may not be pleased.? He insisted that Iran was abiding by international agreements, but said, ?Time is now completely on the side of the Iranian people.? A diplomat in Vienna, where the I.A.E.A. has its headquarters, told me that the agency was skeptical of the claim, for technical reasons. But Ahmadinejad?s defiant tone did nothing to diminish suspicions about Iran?s nuclear ambitions.

?There is no evidence of a large-scale covert enrichment program inside Iran,? one involved European diplomat said. ?But the Iranians would not have launched themselves into a very dangerous confrontation with the West on the basis of a weapons program that they no longer pursue. Their enrichment program makes sense only in terms of wanting nuclear weapons. It would be inconceivable if they weren?t cheating to some degree. You don?t need a covert program to be concerned about Iran?s nuclear ambitions. We have enough information to be concerned without one. It?s not a slam dunk, but it?s close to it.?

There are, however, other possible reasons for Iran?s obstinacy. The nuclear program?peaceful or not?is a source of great national pride, and President Ahmadinejad?s support for it has helped to propel him to enormous popularity. (Saddam Hussein created confusion for years, inside and outside his country, about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, in part to project an image of strength.) According to the former senior intelligence official, the C.I.A.?s assessment suggested that Iran might even see some benefits in a limited military strike?especially one that did not succeed in fully destroying its nuclear program?in that an attack might enhance its position in the Islamic world. ?They learned that in the Iraqi experience, and relearned it in southern Lebanon,? the former senior official said. In both cases, a more powerful military force had trouble achieving its military or political goals; in Lebanon, Israel?s war against Hezbollah did not destroy the group?s entire arsenal of rockets, and increased the popularity of its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

The former senior intelligence official added that the C.I.A. assessment raised the possibility that an American attack on Iran could end up serving as a rallying point to unite Sunni and Shiite populations. ?An American attack will paper over any differences in the Arab world, and we?ll have Syrians, Iranians, Hamas, and Hezbollah fighting against us?and the Saudis and the Egyptians questioning their ties to the West. It?s an analyst?s worst nightmare?for the first time since the caliphate there will be common cause in the Middle East.? (An Islamic caliphate ruled the Middle East for over six hundred years, until the thirteenth century.)

According to the Pentagon consultant, ?The C.I.A.?s view is that, without more intelligence, a large-scale bombing attack would not stop Iran?s nuclear program. And a low-end campaign of subversion and sabotage would play into Iran?s hands?bolstering support for the religious leadership and deepening anti-American Muslim rage.?

The Pentagon consultant said that he and many of his colleagues in the military believe that Iran is intent on developing nuclear-weapons capability. But he added that the Bush Administration?s options for dealing with that threat are diminished, because of a lack of good intelligence and also because ?we?ve cried wolf? before.



As the C.I.A.?s assessment was making its way through the government, late this summer, current and former military officers and consultants told me, a new element suddenly emerged: intelligence from Israeli spies operating inside Iran claimed that Iran has developed and tested a trigger device for a nuclear bomb. The provenance and significance of the human intelligence, or HUMINT, are controversial. ?The problem is that no one can verify it,? the former senior intelligence official told me. ?We don?t know who the Israeli source is. The briefing says the Iranians are testing trigger mechanisms??simulating a zero-yield nuclear explosion without any weapons-grade materials??but there are no diagrams, no significant facts. Where is the test site? How often have they done it? How big is the warhead?a breadbox or a refrigerator? They don?t have that.? And yet, he said, the report was being used by White House hawks within the Administration to ?prove the White House?s theory that the Iranians are on track. And tests leave no radioactive track, which is why we can?t find it.? Still, he said, ?The agency is standing its ground.?

The Pentagon consultant, however, told me that he and other intelligence professionals believe that the Israeli intelligence should be taken more seriously. ?We live in an era when national technical intelligence??data from satellites and on-the-ground sensors??will not get us what we need. HUMINT may not be hard evidence by that standard, but very often it?s the best intelligence we can get.? He added, with obvious exasperation, that within the intelligence community ?we?re going to be fighting over the quality of the information for the next year.? One reason for the dispute, he said, was that the White House had asked to see the ?raw??the original, unanalyzed and unvetted?Israeli intelligence. Such ?stovepiping? of intelligence had led to faulty conclusions about nonexistent weapons of mass destruction during the buildup to the 2003 Iraq war. ?Many Presidents in the past have done the same thing,? the consultant said, ?but intelligence professionals are always aghast when Presidents ask for stuff in the raw. They see it as asking a second grader to read ?Ulysses.? ?

HUMINT can be difficult to assess. Some of the most politically significant?and most inaccurate?intelligence about Iraq?s alleged weapons of mass destruction came from an operative, known as Curveball, who was initially supplied to the C.I.A. by German intelligence. But the Pentagon consultant insisted that, in this case, ?the Israeli intelligence is apparently very strong.? He said that the information about the trigger device had been buttressed by another form of highly classified data, known as MASINT, for ?measuring and signature? intelligence. The Defense Intelligence Agency is the central processing and dissemination point for such intelligence, which includes radar, radio, nuclear, and electro-optical data. The consultant said that the MASINT indicated activities that ?are not consistent with the programs? Iran has declared to the I.A.E.A. ?The intelligence suggests far greater sophistication and more advanced development,? the consultant said. ?The indications don?t make sense, unless they?re farther along in some aspects of their nuclear-weapons program than we know.?

In early 2004, John Bolton, who was then the Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control (he is now the United Nations Ambassador), privately conveyed to the I.A.E.A. suspicions that Iran was conducting research into the intricately timed detonation of conventional explosives needed to trigger a nuclear warhead at Parchin, a sensitive facility twenty miles southeast of Tehran that serves as the center of Iran?s Defense Industries Organization. A wide array of chemical munitions and fuels, as well as advanced antitank and ground-to-air missiles, are manufactured there, and satellite imagery appeared to show a bunker suitable for testing very large explosions.
27444  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hersch: Next Act-part one on: November 21, 2006, 07:36:45 AM
The author of this piece is a long time Bush hater and often fronts for particular factions within the US Govt. ?That said, he has lots of deep high level sources. ?One needs to read deeply between the lines with him.
==============

 

THE NEXT ACT

by SEYMOUR M. HERSH

Is a damaged Administration less likely to attack Iran, or more?

Issue of 2006-11-27
Posted 2006-11-20

A month before the November elections, Vice-President Dick Cheney was sitting in on a national-security discussion at the Executive Office Building. The talk took a political turn: what if the Democrats won both the Senate and the House? How would that affect policy toward Iran, which is believed to be on the verge of becoming a nuclear power? At that point, according to someone familiar with the discussion, Cheney began reminiscing about his job as a lineman, in the early nineteen-sixties, for a power company in Wyoming. Copper wire was expensive, and the linemen were instructed to return all unused pieces three feet or longer. No one wanted to deal with the paperwork that resulted, Cheney said, so he and his colleagues found a solution: putting ?shorteners? on the wire?that is, cutting it into short pieces and tossing the leftovers at the end of the workday. If the Democrats won on November 7th, the Vice-President said, that victory would not stop the Administration from pursuing a military option with Iran. The White House would put ?shorteners? on any legislative restrictions, Cheney said, and thus stop Congress from getting in its way.

The White House?s concern was not that the Democrats would cut off funds for the war in Iraq but that future legislation would prohibit it from financing operations targeted at overthrowing or destabilizing the Iranian government, to keep it from getting the bomb. ?They?re afraid that Congress is going to vote a binding resolution to stop a hit on Iran, ? la Nicaragua in the Contra war,? a former senior intelligence official told me.

In late 1982, Edward P. Boland, a Democratic representative, introduced the first in a series of ?Boland amendments,? which limited the Reagan Administration?s ability to support the Contras, who were working to overthrow Nicaragua?s left-wing Sandinista government. The Boland restrictions led White House officials to orchestrate illegal fund-raising activities for the Contras, including the sale of American weapons, via Israel, to Iran. The result was the Iran-Contra scandal of the mid-eighties. Cheney?s story, according to the source, was his way of saying that, whatever a Democratic Congress might do next year to limit the President?s authority, the Administration would find a way to work around it. (In response to a request for comment, the Vice-President?s office said that it had no record of the discussion.)

In interviews, current and former Administration officials returned to one question: whether Cheney would be as influential in the last two years of George W. Bush?s Presidency as he was in its first six. Cheney is emphatic about Iraq. In late October, he told Time, ?I know what the President thinks,? about Iraq. ?I know what I think. And we?re not looking for an exit strategy. We?re looking for victory.? He is equally clear that the Administration would, if necessary, use force against Iran. ?The United States is keeping all options on the table in addressing the irresponsible conduct of the regime,? he told an Israeli lobbying group early this year. ?And we join other nations in sending that regime a clear message: we will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.?

On November 8th, the day after the Republicans lost both the House and the Senate, Bush announced the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and the nomination of his successor, Robert Gates, a former director of Central Intelligence. The move was widely seen as an acknowledgment that the Administration was paying a political price for the debacle in Iraq. Gates was a member of the Iraq Study Group?headed by former Secretary of State James Baker and Lee Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman?which has been charged with examining new approaches to Iraq, and he has publicly urged for more than a year that the U.S. begin direct talks with Iran. President Bush?s decision to turn to Gates was a sign of the White House?s ?desperation,? a former high-level C.I.A. official, who worked with the White House after September 11th, told me. Cheney?s relationship with Rumsfeld was among the closest inside the Administration, and Gates?s nomination was seen by some Republicans as a clear signal that the Vice-President?s influence in the White House could be challenged. The only reason Gates would take the job, after turning down an earlier offer to serve as the new Director of National Intelligence, the former high-level C.I.A. official said, was that ?the President?s father, Brent Scowcroft, and James Baker??former aides of the first President Bush??piled on, and the President finally had to accept adult supervision.?

Critical decisions will be made in the next few months, the former C.I.A. official said. ?Bush has followed Cheney?s advice for six years, and the story line will be: ?Will he continue to choose Cheney over his father?? We?ll know soon.? (The White House and the Pentagon declined to respond to detailed requests for comment about this article, other than to say that there were unspecified inaccuracies.)

A retired four-star general who worked closely with the first Bush Administration told me that the Gates nomination means that Scowcroft, Baker, the elder Bush, and his son ?are saying that winning the election in 2008 is more important than the individual. The issue for them is how to preserve the Republican agenda. The Old Guard wants to isolate Cheney and give their girl, Condoleezza Rice??the Secretary of State??a chance to perform.? The combination of Scowcroft, Baker, and the senior Bush working together is, the general added, ?tough enough to take on Cheney. One guy can?t do it.?

Richard Armitage, the Deputy Secretary of State in Bush?s first term, told me that he believed the Democratic election victory, followed by Rumsfeld?s dismissal, meant that the Administration ?has backed off,? in terms of the pace of its planning for a military campaign against Iran. Gates and other decision-makers would now have more time to push for a diplomatic solution in Iran and deal with other, arguably more immediate issues. ?Iraq is as bad as it looks, and Afghanistan is worse than it looks,? Armitage said. ?A year ago, the Taliban were fighting us in units of eight to twelve, and now they?re sometimes in company-size, and even larger.? Bombing Iran and expecting the Iranian public ?to rise up? and overthrow the government, as some in the White House believe, Armitage added, ?is a fool?s errand.?

?Iraq is the disaster we have to get rid of, and Iran is the disaster we have to avoid,? Joseph Cirincione, the vice-president for national security at the liberal Center for American Progress, said. ?Gates will be in favor of talking to Iran and listening to the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but the neoconservatives are still there??in the White House??and still believe that chaos would be a small price for getting rid of the threat. The danger is that Gates could be the new Colin Powell?the one who opposes the policy but ends up briefing the Congress and publicly supporting it.?

Other sources close to the Bush family said that the machinations behind Rumsfeld?s resignation and the Gates nomination were complex, and the seeming triumph of the Old Guard may be illusory. The former senior intelligence official, who once worked closely with Gates and with the President?s father, said that Bush and his immediate advisers in the White House understood by mid-October that Rumsfeld would have to resign if the result of the midterm election was a resounding defeat. Rumsfeld was involved in conversations about the timing of his departure with Cheney, Gates, and the President before the election, the former senior intelligence official said. Critics who asked why Rumsfeld wasn?t fired earlier, a move that might have given the Republicans a boost, were missing the point. ?A week before the election, the Republicans were saying that a Democratic victory was the seed of American retreat, and now Bush and Cheney are going to change their national-security policies?? the former senior intelligence official said. ?Cheney knew this was coming. Dropping Rummy after the election looked like a conciliatory move??You?re right, Democrats. We got a new guy and we?re looking at all the options. Nothing is ruled out.? ? But the conciliatory gesture would not be accompanied by a significant change in policy; instead, the White House saw Gates as someone who would have the credibility to help it stay the course on Iran and Iraq. Gates would also be an asset before Congress. If the Administration needed to make the case that Iran?s weapons program posed an imminent threat, Gates would be a better advocate than someone who had been associated with the flawed intelligence about Iraq. The former official said, ?He?s not the guy who told us there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and he?ll be taken seriously by Congress.?

Once Gates is installed at the Pentagon, he will have to contend with Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Rumsfeld legacy?and Dick Cheney. A former senior Bush Administration official, who has also worked with Gates, told me that Gates was well aware of the difficulties of his new job. He added that Gates would not simply endorse the Administration?s policies and say, ?with a flag waving, ?Go, go? ??especially at the cost of his own reputation. ?He does not want to see thirty-five years of government service go out the window,? the former official said. However, on the question of whether Gates would actively stand up to Cheney, the former official said, after a pause, ?I don?t know.?



Another critical issue for Gates will be the Pentagon?s expanding effort to conduct clandestine and covert intelligence missions overseas. Such activity has traditionally been the C.I.A.?s responsibility, but, as the result of a systematic push by Rumsfeld, military covert actions have been substantially increased. In the past six months, Israel and the United States have also been working together in support of a Kurdish resistance group known as the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan. The group has been conducting clandestine cross-border forays into Iran, I was told by a government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon civilian leadership, as ?part of an effort to explore alternative means of applying pressure on Iran.? (The Pentagon has established covert relationships with Kurdish, Azeri, and Baluchi tribesmen, and has encouraged their efforts to undermine the regime?s authority in northern and southeastern Iran.) The government consultant said that Israel is giving the Kurdish group ?equipment and training.? The group has also been given ?a list of targets inside Iran of interest to the U.S.? (An Israeli government spokesman denied that Israel was involved.)

Such activities, if they are considered military rather than intelligence operations, do not require congressional briefings. For a similar C.I.A. operation, the President would, by law, have to issue a formal finding that the mission was necessary, and the Administration would have to brief the senior leadership of the House and the Senate. The lack of such consultation annoyed some Democrats in Congress. This fall, I was told, Representative David Obey, of Wisconsin, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee that finances classified military activity, pointedly asked, during a closed meeting of House and Senate members, whether ?anyone has been briefing on the Administration?s plan for military activity in Iran.? The answer was no. (A spokesman for Obey confirmed this account.)

The Democratic victories this month led to a surge of calls for the Administration to begin direct talks with Iran, in part to get its help in settling the conflict in Iraq. British Prime Minister Tony Blair broke ranks with President Bush after the election and declared that Iran should be offered ?a clear strategic choice? that could include a ?new partnership? with the West. But many in the White House and the Pentagon insist that getting tough with Iran is the only way to salvage Iraq. ?It?s a classic case of ?failure forward,?? a Pentagon consultant said. ?They believe that by tipping over Iran they would recover their losses in Iraq?like doubling your bet. It would be an attempt to revive the concept of spreading democracy in the Middle East by creating one new model state.?

The view that there is a nexus between Iran and Iraq has been endorsed by Condoleezza Rice, who said last month that Iran ?does need to understand that it is not going to improve its own situation by stirring instability in Iraq,? and by the President, who said, in August, that ?Iran is backing armed groups in the hope of stopping democracy from taking hold? in Iraq. The government consultant told me, ?More and more people see the weakening of Iran as the only way to save Iraq.?

The consultant added that, for some advocates of military action, ?the goal in Iran is not regime change but a strike that will send a signal that America still can accomplish its goals. Even if it does not destroy Iran?s nuclear network, there are many who think that thirty-six hours of bombing is the only way to remind the Iranians of the very high cost of going forward with the bomb?and of supporting Moqtada al-Sadr and his pro-Iran element in Iraq.? (Sadr, who commands a Shiite militia, has religious ties to Iran.)

In the current issue of Foreign Policy, Joshua Muravchik, a prominent neoconservative, argued that the Administration had little choice. ?Make no mistake: President Bush will need to bomb Iran?s nuclear facilities before leaving office,? he wrote. The President would be bitterly criticized for a pre?mptive attack on Iran, Muravchik said, and so neoconservatives ?need to pave the way intellectually now and be prepared to defend the action when it comes.?

The main Middle East expert on the Vice-President?s staff is David Wurmser, a neoconservative who was a strident advocate for the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Like many in Washington, Wurmser ?believes that, so far, there?s been no price tag on Iran for its nuclear efforts and for its continuing agitation and intervention inside Iraq,? the consultant said. But, unlike those in the Administration who are calling for limited strikes, Wurmser and others in Cheney?s office ?want to end the regime,? the consultant said. ?They argue that there can be no settlement of the Iraq war without regime change in Iran.?
27445  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dividing the Iraqi Pie on: November 21, 2006, 07:05:17 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Dividing the Iraqi Pie

Iraq announced on Monday that President Jalal Talabani and Syrian President Bashar al Assad will travel to Iran this weekend to discuss the security situation in Iraq and its regional implications in a three-way summit with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iraqi government also said that Baghdad and Damascus will restore diplomatic relations during the current visit by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem.

These two events underscore the aggressive moves by Iran and (to a lesser degree) Syria to consolidate their positions ahead of their expected negotiations with the United States over the future of Iraq. Back in Washington, there is great anticipation regarding the forthcoming recommendations from the Iraq Study Group to the Bush administration in a report that is being seen as a U.S. blueprint to stabilize Iraq.

The big question on everyone's mind is this: given the deep divisions among Iraq's Shia, Sunni and Kurds, and given the divergent interests of all the parties who have a finger in the Iraqi pie, what kind of settlement can prevent the Iraqi state from imploding and creating havoc in the region? In other words, is there a formula for resolving the Iraqi crisis that is acceptable to all sides involved?

The triangular struggle within the country and the moves toward creating a federal Iraq with autonomous regions -- enshrined now in the country's constitution -- necessitate a restructuring of the Iraqi state at the subnational level. In fact, this process is already under way, with the creation of the autonomous Kurdistan region in the north and the moves by the Shia to create a similar autonomous zone in southern Iraq.

Currently, the Kurds have authority over the provinces of Arbil, Dahuk and As Sulaymaniyah, as well as de facto control over portions of Diyala, Ninawa and At Tamim provinces. The Shia envision their own future autonomous zone as comprising the governorates south of Baghdad -- Karbala, An Najaf, Al Muthanna, Basra, Dhi Qar, Maysin, Wasit, Al Qadisiyah and Babil.

What this means, however, is that the Sunni zone in central Iraq will be left with just two provinces: Anbar and Salah ad Din (with Baghdad likely being shared by all three sides). Not surprisingly, the Sunnis remain in staunch opposition to these moves because of the fear that such an arrangement leaves them politically and economically emasculated. Such a bleak prospect goes a long way toward explaining the Sunni insurgency. It is unlikely that the Sunnis can reverse the tide, however -- so if there is an agreement, it will be some permutation of federalism, and will require concessions from the Shia and the Kurds.

A potential compromise could have the Kurds giving up the provinces of Ninawa, At Tamim and Diyala. Significantly, the northern oil fields are located in the Kirkuk region in At Tamim province; the Kurds have been trying to run their independent oil operations in this area. However, it is quite possible that an agreement can be reached regarding the distribution of oil revenues, with the responsibility falling on Baghdad to make sure each community is represented. This is one issue on which the Sunni and the Shiite positions are close to one another, because both want oil to be under the control of the central government.

If that happens, the northern parts of these three provinces could merge into the Kurdish zone, while the central and southern areas could become part of the Sunni zone. Such an arrangement might be acceptable not only to the Shia, Sunnis and Kurds, but also to Iraq's neighbors, because it could keep the state from descending into anarchy. The Sunni Arab states would be relieved to see a robust Sunni zone. Turkey's concerns regarding the Kurds in the north could also be assuaged. And Iran will see the formation of the Shiite zone it is seeking in the south. Notably, none of the regional players is actually interested in a complete partition of the country, because of the threat of regional instability. The Arab states have long seen Iraq as a buffer between them and Iran, and the Iranians also want Iraq as a buffer -- but one in which they have more control than the Arab states do.

Of course, there is the question of whether such an arrangement could hold. For the moment, the various players involved in Iraq are likely to endorse such an arrangement just to back away from the precipice. They each have the option of coming back later on and subverting it when it furthers their interests to do so.
27446  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israeli Map on: November 21, 2006, 06:58:22 AM
Israeli Map Says West Bank Posts Sit on Arab Land
               
By STEVEN ERLANGER
NY Times
Published: November 21, 2006

JERUSALEM, Nov. 20 ? An Israeli advocacy group, using maps and figures leaked from inside the government, says that 39 percent of the land held by Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is privately owned by Palestinians.

Settlements on Privately-Owned Palestinian Land Israel has long asserted that it fully respects Palestinian private property in the West Bank and only takes land there legally or, for security reasons, temporarily.

If big sections of those settlements are indeed privately held Palestinian land, that is bound to create embarrassment for Israel and further complicate the already distant prospect of a negotiated peace. The data indicate that 40 percent of the land that Israel plans to keep in any future deal with the Palestinians is private.

The new claims regarding Palestinian property are said to come from the 2004 database of the Civil Administration, which controls the civilian aspects of Israel?s presence in the West Bank. Peace Now, an Israeli group that advocates Palestinian self-determination in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, plans to publish the information on Tuesday. An advance copy was made available to The New York Times.

The data ? maps that show the government?s registry of the land by category ? was given to Peace Now by someone who obtained it from an official inside the Civil Administration. The Times spoke to the person who received it from the Civil Administration official and agreed not to identify him because of the delicate nature of the material.

That person, who has frequent contact with the Civil Administration, said he and the official wanted to expose what they consider to be wide-scale violations of private Palestinian property rights by the government and settlers. The government has refused to give the material directly to Peace Now, which requested it under Israel?s freedom of information law.

Shlomo Dror, a spokesman for the Civil Administration, said he could not comment on the data without studying it.

He said there was a committee, called the blue line committee, that had been investigating these issues of land ownership for three years. ?We haven?t finished checking everything,? he said.

Mr. Dror also said that sometimes Palestinians would sell land to Israelis but be unwilling to admit to the sale publicly because they feared retribution as collaborators.

Within prominent settlements that Israel has said it plans to keep in any final border agreement, the data show, for example, that some 86.4 percent of Maale Adumim, a large Jerusalem suburb, is private; and 35.1 percent of Ariel is.

The maps indicate that beyond the private land, 5.8 percent is so-called survey land, meaning of unclear ownership, and 1.3 percent private Jewish land. The rest, about 54 percent, is considered ?state land? or has no designation, though Palestinians say that at least some of it represents agricultural land expropriated by the state.

The figures, together with detailed maps of the land distribution in every Israeli settlement in the West Bank, were put together by the Settlement Watch Project of Peace Now, led by Dror Etkes and Hagit Ofran, and has a record of careful and accurate reporting on settlement growth.

The report does not include Jerusalem, which Israel has annexed and does not consider part of the West Bank, although much of the world regards East Jerusalem as occupied. Much of the world also considers Israeli settlements on occupied land to be illegal under international law. International law requires an occupying power to protect private property, and Israel has always asserted that it does not take land without legal justification.

One case in a settlement Israel intends to keep is in Givat Zeev, barely five miles north of Jerusalem. At the southern edge is the Ayelet Hashachar synagogue. Rabah Abdellatif, a Palestinian who lives in the nearby village of Al Jib, says the land belongs to him.

Papers he has filed with the Israeli military court, which runs the West Bank, seem to favor Mr. Abdellatif. In 1999, Israeli officials confirmed, he was even granted a judgment ordering the demolition of the synagogue because it had been built without permits. But for the last seven years, the Israeli system has done little to enforce its legal judgments. The synagogue stands, and Mr. Abdellatif has no access to his land.
----------

Ram Kovarsky, the town council secretary, said the synagogue was outside the boundaries of Givat Zeev, although there is no obvious separation. Israeli officials confirm that the land is privately owned, though they refuse to say by whom.

Settlements on Privately-Owned Palestinian Land Mr. Abdellatif, 65, said: ?I feel stuck, angry. Why would they do that? I don?t know who to go to anymore.?

He pointed to his corduroy trousers and said, in the English he learned in Paterson, N.J., where his son is a police detective: ?These are my pants. And those are your pants. And you should not take my pants. This is mine, and that is yours! I never took anyone?s land.?

According to the Peace Now figures, 44.3 percent of Givat Zeev is on private Palestinian land.

Miri Eisin, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said that Israeli officials would have to see the data and the maps and added that ownership is complicated and delicate. Baruch Spiegel, a reserve general who just left the Ministry of Defense and dealt with the separation barrier being built near the boundary with the West Bank, also said he would have to see the data in detail in order to judge it.

The definitions of private and state land are complicated, given different administrations of the West Bank going back to the Ottoman Empire, the British mandate, Jordan and now Israel. During the Ottoman Empire, only small areas of the West Bank were registered to specific owners, and often villagers would hold land in common to avoid taxes. The British began a more formal land registry based on land use, taxation or house ownership that continued through the Jordanian period.

Large areas of agricultural land are registered as state land; other areas were requisitioned or seized by the Israeli military after 1967 for security purposes, but such requisitions are meant to be temporary and must be renewed, and do not change the legal ownership of the land, Mr. Dror, the Civil Administration spokesman, said.

But the issue of property is one that Israeli officials are familiar with, even if the percentages here may come as a surprise and may be challenged after the publication of the report.

Asked about Israeli seizure of private Palestinian land in an interview with The Times last summer, before these figures were available, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said: ?Now I don?t deny anything, I don?t ignore anything. I?m just ready to sit down and talk. And resolve it. And resolve it in a generous manner for all sides.?

He said the 1967 war was a one of self-defense. Later, he said: ?Many things happened. Life is not frozen. Things occur. So many things happened, and as a result of this many innocent individuals on both sides suffered, were killed, lost their lives, became crippled for life, lost their family members, their loved ones, thousands of them. And also private property suffered. By the way, on all sides.?

Mr. Olmert says Israel will keep some 10 percent of the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, possibly in a swap for land elsewhere. The area Israel intends to keep is roughly marked by the route of the unfinished separation barrier, which cuts through the West Bank and is intended, Israel says, to stop suicide bombers. Mr. Olmert, however, describes it as a putative border. Nearly 80,000 Jews live in settlements beyond the route of the barrier, but some 180,000 live in settlements within the barrier, while another 200,000 live in East Jerusalem.

But these land-ownership figures show that even in the settlements that Israel intends to keep, there will be a considerable problem of restitution that goes beyond the issue of refugee return.

Mr. Olmert was elected on a pledge to withdraw Israeli settlers living east of the barrier. But after the war with Hezbollah and with fighting ongoing in Gaza, from which Israel withdrew its settlers in the summer of 2005, his withdrawal plan has been suspended.

In March 2005, a report requested by the government found a number of illegal Israeli outposts built on private Palestinian land, and officials promised to destroy them. But only nine houses of only one outpost, Amona, were dismantled after a court case brought by Peace Now.

There is a court case pending over Migron, which began as a group of trailers on a windy hilltop around a set of cellphone antennas in May 1999 and is now a flourishing community of 50 families, said Avi Teksler, an official of the Migron council. But Migron, too, according to the data, is built on private Palestinian land.

Mr. Teksler said that the land was deserted, and that its ownership would be settled in court. Migron, where some children of noted settlement leaders live, has had ?the support of every Israeli government,? he said. ?The government has been a partner to every single move we?ve made.?

Mr. Teksler added: ?This is how the state of Israel was created. And this is all the land of Israel. We?re like the kibbutzim. The only real difference is that we?re after 1967, not before.?

But in the Palestinian village of Burqa, Youssef Moussa Abdel Raziq Nabboud, 85, says that some of the land of Migron, and the land on which Israel built a road for settlers, belongs to him and his family, who once grew wheat and beans there. He said he had tax documents from the pre-1967 authorities.

?They have the power to put the settlement there and we can do nothing,? he said. ?They have a fence around the settlement and dogs there.?

Mr. Nabboud went to the Israeli authorities with the mayor, Abu Maher, but they were told he needed an Israeli lawyer and surveyor. ?I have no money for that,? he said. What began as an outpost taking 5 acres has now taken 125, the mayor said.

Mr. Nabboud wears a traditional head covering; his grandson, Khaled, 27, wears a Yankees cap. ?The land is my inheritance,? he said. ?I feel sad I can?t go there. And angry. The army protects them.?

27447  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: November 20, 2006, 08:31:50 PM
Jeez, I have the sensation of dealing with my children when they are squabbling  rolleyes  Oy vey!

I thought the adjective ludicrous a bit strong, but found the overall tone of voice quite plausible -- seems reasonable to me to note where someone gets their bread buttered.   Yes it is tangential to the larger point and non-responsive to your main points and of course you are right that this proves nothing-- the science is the science and deal with it, but  Buz, my man, this:

"As is all too usual in these instances, you then proceed to ignore about 90 percent of my argument and instead make shrill statements about some narrow slice. I'm once more throwing it back at you, so I 'spose it's now time for you to run to Crafty again and complain I'm a meanie, then your brother can pile on and call me a troll. Sheesh, what a silly dance."

is not necessary.  Bad dog!  grin  The rest, being on the merits, would have been quite effective all by itself  grin

So, Milt, I'd like to ask you to not continue around the mulberry bush with upir brother Buz's personal comments and simply respond to the part of his post which is on the merits:  Do you have a "peer reviewed set of data supporting your position"?  If so, have at it!

signed,
dad
27448  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Book Reviews- political and religious on: November 20, 2006, 03:32:25 PM


 

November 14, 2006

 

Steyn's New Book Combines Humor, Accuracy, Depth
BY DANIEL PIPES
The political columnist and cultural critic Mark Steyn has written a remarkable book, "America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It" (Regnery). He combines several virtues not commonly found together ? humor, accurate reportage, and deep thinking ? and then applies them to what is arguably the most consequential issue of our time: the Islamist threat to the West.

Mr. Steyn offers a devastating thesis but presents it in bits and pieces, so I shall pull it together here.

He begins with the legacy of two totalitarianisms. Traumatized by the electoral appeal of fascism, post-World War II European states were constructed in a top-down manner,"so as to insulate almost entirely the political class from populist pressures." As a result, the establishment has "come to regard the electorate as children."

Second, the Soviet menace during the Cold War prompted American leaders, impatient with Europe's (and Canada's) weak responses, effectively to take over their defense. This benign and far-sighted policy led to victory by 1991, but it also had the unintended and less salutary side effect of freeing up Europe's funds to build a welfare state. This welfare state had several malign implications.

The nanny state infantilized Europeans, making them worry about such pseudo-issues as climate change while feminizing the males.
It also neutered them, annexing "most of the core functions of adulthood," starting with the instinct to breed. From about 1980, birth rates plummeted, leaving an inadequate base for today's workers to receive their pensions.
Structured on a pay-as-you-go basis, it amounted to an intergenerational Ponzi scheme under which today's workers depend on their children for their pensions.
The demographic collapse meant that the indigenous peoples of countries like Russia, Italy, and Spain are at the start of a population death spiral.
It led to a collapse of confidence that in turn bred "civilizational exhaustion," leaving Europeans unprepared to fight for their ways.
To keep the economic machine running meant accepting foreign workers. Rather than execute a long-term plan to prepare for the many millions of immigrants needed, Europe's elites punted, welcoming almost anyone who turned up. By virtue of geographic proximity, demographic overdrive, and a crisis-prone environment, "Islam is now the principal supplier of new Europeans," Mr. Steyn writes.

Arriving at a time of demographic, political, and cultural weakness, Muslims are profoundly changing Europe: "Islam has youth and will, Europe has age and welfare." Put differently, "Premodern Islam beats post-modern Christianity." Much of the Western world, Mr. Steyn flat-out predicts, "will not survive the twenty-first century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most European countries." With even more drama, he adds, "It's the end of the world as we know it."

(In contrast, I believe that Europe still has time to avoid this fate.)

"America Alone" deals at length with what Mr. Steyn calls "the larger forces at play in the developed world that have left Europe too enfeebled to resist its remorseless transformation into Eurabia." Europe's successor population is already in place, and "the only question is how bloody the transfer of real estate will be." He interprets the Madrid and London bombings, as well as the murder of Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam, as opening shots in Europe's civil war and states, "Europe is the colony now."

The title "America Alone" refers to Mr. Steyn's expectation that America ? with its "relatively healthy demographic profile" ? will emerge as the lonely survivor of this crucible. "Europe is dying and America isn't." Therefore, "the Continent is up for grabs in a way that America isn't." Mr. Steyn's target audience is primarily American: Watch out, he is saying, or the same will happen to you.

Pared to its essentials, he counsels two things: First, avoid the "bloated European welfare systems," declare them no less than a national security threat, shrink the state, and emphasize the virtues of self-reliance and individual innovation. Second, avoid "imperial understretch," don't "hunker down in Fortress America" but destroy the ideology of radical Islam, help reform Islam, and expand Western civilization to new places. Only if Americans "can summon the will to shape at least part of the emerging world" will they have enough company to soldier on. Failing that, expect a "new Dark Ages ... a planet on which much of the map is re-primitivized."

Mr. Pipes (www.DanielPipes.org) is director of the Middle East Forum and author of "Miniatures" (Transaction Publishers).
27449  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 20, 2006, 11:47:05 AM
www.strafor.com
MEXICO: Defeated Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador plans to hold a ceremony at 4 p.m. local time in the Zocalo in Mexico City to inaugurate himself and a 12-person Cabinet as leaders of a shadow government, El Universal reported. Thousands of people are expected to attend the ceremony.
27450  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: November 20, 2006, 11:39:34 AM
I thought of starting a new thread for this one, but decided to post it here; apparently these people were badly mistreated because they were Muslim.
===========
today's LA Times:

9/11 prisoner abuse suit could be landmark
Rounded up, Muslim immigrants were beaten in jail. Such open-ended detentions and sweeps might be barred.
By Richard A. Serrano, Times Staff Writer
November 20, 2006


NEW YORK ? Five years after Muslim immigrants were abused in a federal jail here, the guards who beat them and the Washington policymakers who decided to hold them for months without charges are being called to account.

Some 1,200 Middle Eastern men were arrested on suspicion of terrorism after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. No holding place was so notorious as Brooklyn's nine-story Metropolitan Detention Center. In a special unit on the top floor, detainees were smashed into walls, repeatedly stripped and searched, and often denied basic legal rights and religious privileges, according to federal investigations.

Now the federal Bureau of Prisons, which runs the jail, has revealed for the first time that 13 staff members have been disciplined, two of them fired. The warden has retired and moved to the Midwest.

And in what could turn out to be a landmark case, a lawsuit filed by two Brooklyn detainees against top Bush administration officials is moving forward in the federal courts in New York.

A judge turned down a request by FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and former Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft to dismiss the lawsuit against them. The case is before an appeals court, where a panel of three judges signaled last month that they too believed it should go forward.

The suit, which also names top federal prison officials and individual guards as defendants, seeks an unspecified amount of money from the government. More significant, it hopes to hold federal law enforcement authorities responsible for their open-ended, "hold-until-cleared" policy for detainees. After Sept. 11, the FBI was in no rush to investigate the detainees, and many men were held in limbo. If the lawsuit prevails, it will create precedents that will probably bar authorities from carrying out such sweeping roundups in the future.

The case is proceeding with just one of the detainees who sued. The government settled with the other, former Manhattan deli operator Ehab Elmaghraby, who this year accepted a federal government payout of $300,000.

But Elmaghraby, who has returned to Egypt(ummm, it says below "deported"), said he could not forgive the guards who jammed a flashlight up his rectum.

"They destroyed me. They destroyed my family," he said in a recent telephone interview. "So I want the officers to stay one week inside those cells. They would kill themselves before the week was finished."

Ashcroft and others have defended the detentions. In a new book, Ashcroft wrote: "Was it worth it to detain and charge hundreds ? in order to find one or more of the key men sent to America to facilitate a second wave of attacks on the United States? I thought so then, and I think so more today."

Five investigations by the Department of Justice inspector general's office, most of them never publicized, documented wholesale abuse of the Muslim detainees at the Brooklyn detention center. In the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, 84 men were held there. None was charged in the attacks. Most were deported on immigration infractions.

One disturbing incident, repeated over and over, is particularly haunting ? inmates head-slammed into a wall where the staff had taped a T-shirt with an American flag printed on it. The motto on the shirt proclaimed: "These colors don't run." In time, that spot on the wall was covered with blood.

"They told me, 'Look at our flag. You see the blood that is coming down from our flag? We're going to make you bleed every day like this,' " Elmaghraby recalled.

He said they grabbed his back and sides and rushed him head-first into the wall. "Blood came out of my mouth," he said.

The inspector general determined that many guards were "emotionally charged" in the weeks after Sept. 11. A jail lieutenant told investigators that guards carried around "a great deal of anger." Another lieutenant said prisoners purposely were handed over to teams of up to seven guards, all of them "spiked with adrenaline." That lieutenant further described some of the guards as "talking crazy" and "getting ready for battle."

In legal briefs filed this year with the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, attorneys for Ashcroft and Mueller defended their policy, saying that Washington after Sept. 11 was "confronted with unprecedented law enforcement and security challenges." They said Ashcroft and Mueller had been working with "no clear judicial precedents in this extraordinary context."

Ashcroft in his recent book, "Never Again: Securing America and Restoring Justice," wrote that the goal was to prevent another catastrophic attack. He was not bothered by holding detainees for long periods.

"If we can't bring them to trial," he wrote, "so be it."

Mueller also has defended the decision, but in a speech to the ACLU acknowledged that the inspector general did "a very good job of pointing out areas where we can do better." He said that clearer criteria were needed for deciding when to hold immigrants as terrorism suspects and that law enforcement should do more to speed up investigations.

Elmaghraby moved to the U.S. in 1990, married and operated a deli near Times Square in Manhattan. Nineteen days after Sept. 11, he was arrested, apparently because his landlord in Queens had applied for pilot training.

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



For the first three months in the jail, he said, he was denied a blanket, pillow, mattress and toilet paper. He was locked away in his bare feet.

"No shoes for a terrorist," he said he was told.

He said he was repeatedly strip-searched, dragged on the ground and punched until his teeth shattered. He said that he was displayed naked in front of a female staffer, and that guards violated him with a flashlight and pencil.

Elmaghraby, 39, broke down crying in a recent interview. "They don't treat you like a person," he said. "They treat you like an animal."

He was held for nearly a year ? until August 2002. After pleading guilty to minor credit card fraud charges (plea bargains often are to far less than the actual list of charges-- one would guess especially here where the mission would be deportation.  If he is this kind of thief, what credibility to give his claims?), he was deported to Alexandria, Egypt.

He has lost track of his wife in New York (?!?) , he said, and his deli business went under. And he spent most of his $300,000 settlement to repair his stomach and esophagus, which he said were damaged because jail doctors did not properly treat him for severe indigestion and hypertension.

The former detainee with whom the lawsuit is proceeding, Javaid Iqbal, is also 39. Iqbal, a Pakistani, came to America a dozen years ago. He married and he worked as a cable repairman on Long Island. He was arrested in November 2001, apparently after agents interviewed him in his apartment and spotted a magazine showing the twin towers collapsing.

He said he was mocked as a "Muslim terrorist and a killer." He was strip-searched, punched in the face and kicked in the back. He said guards urinated in his toilet, then turned off the water so it would not flush.

He was denied a copy of the Koran. "No prayer for terrorists," he said he was told.

Iqbal was released at the end of July 2002. He pleaded guilty to having false immigration papers and was deported to Faisalabad, Pakistan. His lawyers declined to let him be interviewed.

Guards at the detention center first denied there was any mistreatment, then slowly came forward. Finally videotapes were uncovered that showed abuse, including detainees head-butted into the T-shirt on the wall.

Traci Billingsley, a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Prisons, said 13 staff members have been disciplined. Two were fired, two received 30-day suspensions and one was suspended for 21 days. Two more were suspended for four days, three for two days, and three were demoted.

Warden Dennis Hasty retired in April 2002. He is named as a defendant in the lawsuit but his lawyer, Michael L. Martinez, said Hasty had not been aware of the abuse and had been "appalled and upset" to learn of the allegations.

The lawsuit was filed in Brooklyn in May 2004. Last year, U.S. District Judge John Gleeson ruled against a bid by Ashcroft and Mueller for a dismissal.

The judge said the furor over Sept. 11 did not warrant such drastic measures. He rejected, he wrote, "the argument that the post-Sept. 11 context wholly extinguished ? a pretrial detainee's due process rights."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
richard.serrano@latimes.com




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