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27401  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: June 17, 2007, 10:16:26 PM

ROG You asked if it were possible for the truth to be inflammatory or offensive, and I provided you with examples.

MARC  Ummm, , , no I did not ask that at all.

ROG Umm...  Yes you did.
------------

MARC:  Care to provide a quote?

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

MARC: Concerning the secret detention centers, your point is rational.  Concerning divulging our secret program getting our side into Iraqi press it is not and concerning our monitoring the enemy's financial flows, it is not.

ROG: Thank you for acknowledging my point about the detention centers.  Monitoring finances (if that's all it was) doesn't seem criminal to me, but I'm less sure about the disinformation campaign in the Iraqi press.

MARC: Actually I haven't agreed with your point, I merely said it is rational-- something which I have said to you before on the DBMAA forum.  Concerning monitoring financial flows, since you agree it wasn't criminal of our government to do so, does this mean you agree it was wrong of the NY Times and the LA Times to print about them?  Does not an action like this aid and give comfort to our enemies in time of war???

Concerning getting favorable articles in the Iraqi press, your choice of words "disinformation campaign" is very revealing about your orientation.  One might even get the idea that you were not for our victory, so please correct me if I am wrong. 

Regardless, this was an action that our troops took in a theater of war.  Please tell us what "law" do you think might apply to this case?!?  Why do you not care that the LA Times broke this story thereby destroying the value of a secret military operation in a theater of war???  angry angry angry  For me the word treason applies here.
27402  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: June 17, 2007, 11:46:45 AM

June 16, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Joe Kaufman (info@americansagainsthate.org)


KEITH ELLISON TO SPEAK AT (UNINDICTED CO-CONSPIRATOR) CAIR BANQUET TONIGHT
AMERICANS AGAINST HATE CALLS ON ELLISON TO RESIGN
(Coral Springs, FL) Tonight, June 16, 2007, Congressman Keith Ellison will be a featured speaker at the First Annual Banquet of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Minnesota). This, after CAIR had just been named an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a Hamas financing case put forward by the United States government.

Ellison, less than three weeks ago, was the keynote speaker at the 4th Annual Convention of the Minnesota chapter of the Muslim American Society (MAS-Minnesota). While he spoke, MAS-Minnesota had on its website material discussing waging war against non-Muslims and the murdering of Jews. The material is still located on the group’s site.

Following his appearance, Americans Against Hate (AAH) demanded that Congressman Ellison denounce MAS for its anti-Semitic and anti-Christian statements or resign from office. Ellison has remained silent on the issue.

AAH Chairman Joe Kaufman, stated, “Being that Keith Ellison refuses to denounce the Muslim American Society, and being that he is now going to be speaking at an event sponsored by a group named by the U.S. government as a co-conspirator to Hamas, we have no choice but to call on Keith Ellison to resign from his held office as United States Representative. Congressman Ellison, by openly cavorting with bigoted and pro-terrorist elements in our society, can no longer work for the best interests of our nation.”

Also speaking at the CAIR-Minnesota banquet will be CAIR’s National Executive Director, Nihad Awad, and CAIR’s National Communications Director, Ibrahim Hooper. The event will be taking place at 6:30 pm, at the Central Park Ballroom, in Woodbury, Minnesota.

Joe Kaufman is available for interview. E-mail: info@americansagainsthate.org.
27403  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: June 17, 2007, 08:29:16 AM

Don’t Listen to What the Man Says
NY Times editorial
June 17, 2007

If the Supreme Court, with its new conservative majority, wanted to announce that it was getting out of the fairness business, it could hardly have done better than its decision last week in the case of Keith Bowles. The court took away Mr. Bowles’s right to challenge his murder conviction in a ruling that was so wrong and mean-spirited that it seemed like an outtake from MTV’s practical joke show “Punk’d.”

Mr. Bowles, an Ohio inmate, challenged his conviction in federal district court and lost. The court told Mr. Bowles that he had until Feb. 27 to appeal. He filed the appeal on Feb. 26, and was ready to argue why he was wrongly convicted. But it turned out the district court made a mistake. The appeal should have been filed by Feb. 24.

The Supreme Court ruled, 5 to 4, in a majority opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas, that Mr. Bowles was out of luck, and his appeal was invalid. So much for heeding a federal judge.

The decision was wrong for many reasons. The Supreme Court has made clear in its past rulings that deadlines like this are not make-or-break. Appeals could still be heard, the court recognized in the past, if there were “unique circumstances” that accounted for the delay. Clearly, following an order from a federal judge is such a circumstance.

Courts also have the authority to create an exception to the rules in the interest of fairness. The Supreme Court has recognized that an “equitable exception” should be granted when a party has relied on an order from a federal judge. By refusing to do so now, Justice David Souter argued for the dissenters, the court was saying that “every statement by a federal court is to be tagged with the warning ‘Beware of the judge.’ ”

The four dissenters distilled this case perfectly when they said, “it is intolerable for the judicial system to treat people this way.”
27404  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: June 16, 2007, 06:20:10 PM
GM:

I've already stated my areas of agreement and of disagreement with RP.   

Do you disagree with him on:

a) Free minds & free markets?
b) Right to keep and bear arms?
c) Lower taxes?
d) Sound currency?
e) Defending our borders, while avoiding a national ID?

Yes you and I disagree with him on important matters regarding Islamo-Fascism's War on the West, but why does that make him a loon?

27405  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin on: June 16, 2007, 11:27:22 AM
http://www.city-journal.org/html/eon2007-06-13jl.html

John Leo
Let the Segregation Commence
Separatist graduations proliferate at UCLA.
13 June 2007

Commencement weekend is hard to plan at the University of California, Los Angeles. The university now has so many separate identity-group graduations that scheduling them not to conflict with one another is a challenge. The women’s studies graduation and the Chicana/Chicano studies graduation are both set for 10 AM Saturday. The broader Hispanic graduation, “Raza,” is in near-conflict with the black graduation, which starts just an hour later.

Planning was easier before a new crop of ethnic groups pushed for inclusion. Students of Asian heritage were once content with the Asian–Pacific Islanders ceremony. But now there are separate Filipino and Vietnamese commencements, and some talk of a Cambodian one in the future. Years ago, UCLA sponsored an Iranian graduation, but the school’s commencement office couldn’t tell me if the event was still around. The entire Middle East may yet be a fertile source for UCLA commencements.

Not all ethnic and racial graduations are well attended. The 2003 figures at UCLA showed that while 300 of 855 Hispanic students attended, only 170 out of 1,874 Asian-Americans did.

Some students are presumably eligible for four or five graduations. A gay student with a Native American father and a Filipino mother could attend the Asian, Filipino, and American Indian ceremonies, plus the mainstream graduation and the Lavender Graduation for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students.

Graduates usually wear identity-group markers—a Filipino stole or a Vietnamese sash, for instance, or a rainbow tassel at the Lavender event. Promoters of ethnic and racial graduations often talk about the strong sense of community that they favor. But it is a sense of community based on blood, a dubious and historically dangerous organizing principle.

The organizers also sometimes argue that identity-group graduations make sense for practical reasons. They say that about 3,000 graduating seniors show up for UCLA’s “regular” graduation, making it a massive and impersonal event. At the more intimate identity-group events, foreign-born parents and relatives hear much of the ceremony in their native tongues. The Filipino event is so small—about 100 students— that each grad gets to speak for 30 seconds.

But the core reason for separatist graduations is the obvious one: on campus, assimilation is a hostile force, the domestic version of American imperialism. On many campuses, identity-group training begins with separate freshman orientation programs for nonwhites, who arrive earlier and are encouraged to bond before the first Caucasian freshmen arrive. Some schools have separate orientations for gays as well. Administrations tend to foster separatism by arguing that bias is everywhere, justifying double standards that favor identity groups.

Four years ago Ward Connerly, then a regent of the University of California, tried to pass a resolution to stop funding of ethnic graduations and gay freshman orientations. He changed his mind and asked to withdraw his proposal, but the regents wanted to vote on it and defeated it in committee 6–3.

No major objections to ethnic graduations have emerged since. As in so many areas of American life, the preposterous is now normal.

John Leo is the editor of the Manhattan Institute’s mindingthecampus.com.
 
27406  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pakistan in the Balance on: June 16, 2007, 11:12:35 AM
WSJ

Pakistan in the Balance
By NAJAM SETHI
June 16, 2007

LAHORE, Pakistan -- As lawyers, civil society activists and now journalists protest President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's ham-handed ouster of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry last March and his recent crackdown on the press, most Pakistanis are convinced the military strongman is a "goner." Most international commentators see Mr. Musharraf's increasingly repressive measures as a sure sign of his regime unraveling. Others are already calculating the beneficial effects of a likely return to "civilian democracy" sooner rather than later.

Mr. Musharraf has other ideas. Last week he told worried bigwigs of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League party that he might be down but was definitely not out. This storm will pass, he assured them, the next general elections would be held as pledged by the end of this year, and they would win.

 
Pervez Musharraf
So how is the United States' core ally in the war against terror going to fare? Who will replace him if he is ousted, will there be greater or lesser democracy, and would that be good or bad for Pakistan?

The protests aren't sufficient to end Mr. Musharraf's rule. They lack a mass base. There haven't been any prolonged countrywide shutdowns. Traders and businessmen still support Mr. Musharraf. Opposition parties have failed to impress in the numbers game. The two main opposition leaders, former Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, are reluctant to end their exile and return to Pakistan, fearing arrest. Even the most virulent opposition from the Muttahida Majlis Amal (MMA), an alliance of six religious parties who hate Mr. Musharraf because of his support for the U.S. war against terror, is tempered with pragmatism. Its leading political party, Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam, is averse to clashing with the federal government, which could endanger its political rule in two provinces.

All political parties fear that any head-on confrontation with Mr. Musharraf might lead to martial law. As if to reinforce this fact, Mr. Musharraf last week called a meeting of his top military commanders -- who duly warned against the expression of any anti-army sentiment in public or in the media.

The situation could worsen for Mr. Musharraf if the Supreme Court were to reinstall the chief justice and thereby invigorate the pro-democracy movement. Or if the government were to blunder into killing protestors, fueling their anger and swelling their ranks. Or if Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Sharif were to return to the country and succeed in whipping up a storm. Or if Washington were to nod at another general to take over.

But all these scenarios are uncertain. The Supreme Court case may drag on until next year. The government may successfully avoid provoking more violence. Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Sharif might stay away longer. Finally, the U.S. is unlikely to ditch Mr. Musharraf, partly because he is still shoring up the war against terror in Pakistan and partly because there is no guarantee that his military or civilian successor would fare any better in fulfilling this international agenda.

Pakistan's experience with "democratic" governments hasn't been reassuring. Previous administrations under Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Sharif saw corrupt, squabbling politicians drive the economy to bankruptcy. They lost their sheen when they became dynastic, autocratic and repressive. Worse, their political failures no less than those of the military led to the growth of the religious right.

If Mr. Musharraf were to be ousted by the popular forces of "undiluted democracy" in a country that is deeply fissured by regionalism, ethnicity, religious sectarianism, separatism, Talibanism and class struggle, the result could be political anarchy and economic meltdown. There is no single mainstream party strong enough to hold the center and the periphery. Stumbling and squabbling coalition governments would bring democracy into disrepute again. This would only benefit the forces of political Islam, which are the real long-term pretenders to the throne in Pakistan because of their strategy of merging religious ideology, Islamic nationalism and class struggle.

Meanwhile, shorn of all responsibility for its actions after retreating to the barracks, the powerful army would start pulling strings to destabilize and discredit elected governments from behind the scenes, as it has done during every civilian stint in power. Under these circumstances, the gains made under Mr. Musharraf's regime, like the peace initiative with India, economic revival, efforts to stall religious extremism and support for the war against terror -- however insufficient -- would fall by the wayside without generating an alternative sustainable governance paradigm.

One other significant issue needs to be factored into the analysis. In the next five years, many middle-class army officers recruited from the urban areas of Pakistan during the Islamicization years of Gen. Zia ul Haq in the 1980s will become three-star generals. These homespun officers are all imbued with Islamic nationalism, anti-India sentiment and anti-Westernism.

Their anti-Americanism is rooted in the 1990s, when the U.S. cut off all military aid to Pakistan for pursuing its nuclear program. As field officers they compelled Mr. Musharraf not to wage war against "our own people in Waziristan" at the behest of America. They remain unhappy at the ostracism of Pakistan's nuclear hero, A.Q. Khan, by Gen. Musharraf, again at America's behest. And they have personally benefited in terms of perks and privileges from the direct intervention of the army in politics and civilian affairs. If the army is not led in the future by a strong, moderate and cosmopolitan leader, it could institutionally succumb to the collective mindset of Islamic nationalism.

Pakistan's military has historically been part of its problem. But, left to themselves, Pakistan's mainstream democrats, conservative and liberal alike, have not been able to provide the solution. Meanwhile, the country has become seriously ungovernable and the state's writ has progressively broken down in large areas of the nation. Political Islam is seeking to fill these spaces.

What is needed is a transitional power-sharing partnership between the military and political parties on the basis of an agreed moderate and liberal reform agenda -- a sort of truth and national reconciliation process that heals political wounds and charts the road to a new Pakistan. It is a tall order.

Much will depend on whether or not Mr. Musharraf can pull off the next general elections without provoking an effective opposition boycott and further instability. That, in turn, will depend on renewed efforts to diffuse the current judicial crisis and make new political allies. After the elections he will have to take off his uniform and share power with mainstream politicians in order to enlarge the new government's capacity to reform state and society.

In the past, Mr. Musharraf has demonstrated the skills of a commando in blasting his way out of trouble or beating a tactical retreat when the odds were against him. But in recent times he has seemed isolated, arrogant and rigid. Which Mr. Musharraf will prevail? What will Pakistan look like with or without him in the near future? The conclusions are not foregone.

Mr. Sethi is the editor of the Friday Times and Daily Times in Lahore, Pakistan.

27407  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: June 16, 2007, 11:01:14 AM
"Well in the case of sugar I guess if we don't impose a tariff then "innocent" Americans lose their jobs.  Is it their fault Caribbeans have a lower cost of living and will and can work at much lower wages?   Or subsidizing farmers may be in the national interest."

When consumers are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars per job "saved" other jobs elsewhere, and in greater number, are destroyed.  The net result is a negative.

As for subsidizing farmers, I think it also a poor and counter-productive idea.   Read PJ O'Rourke's chapter on the Dept. of Agriculture in his "Parliament of Whores" and you will never see this issue in the same way.

27408  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: June 16, 2007, 10:52:40 AM
I saw that Royce is denying the use of 'hoids.  He says he was using over the counter products.  The recent case with the American who won the World title only to have it taken away, has given me a sense that these things sometimes are not cut and dried.  Let the Truth be found.
27409  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Arafat's children on: June 16, 2007, 10:49:33 AM
WSJ

Arafat's Children
Gaza's mayhem is the bitter fruit of terror as statecraft.

Saturday, June 16, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Scores of Palestinians were killed this week in Gaza in factional fighting between loyalists of President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and those of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas. As if on cue, it took about 24 hours before pundits the world over blamed the violence on Israel and President Bush.

This is the Israel that dismantled its settlements in Gaza in August 2005, a unilateral concession for which it asked, and got, nothing in return. And it is the U.S. President who, in a landmark speech five years ago this month, called on Palestinians to "elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror." Had Palestinians done so, they could be living today in a peaceful, independent state. Instead, in January 2006 they freely handed the reins of government to Hamas in parliamentary elections. What is happening today is the result of that choice--their choice.

That election didn't simply emerge from a vacuum, however. It is a consequence of the cult of violence that has typified the Palestinian movement for much of its history and which has been tolerated and often celebrated by the international community. If Palestinians now think they can advance their domestic interests by violence, nobody should be surprised: The way of the gun has been paying dividends for 40 years.

In 1972 Palestinian terrorists murdered Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Yet only two years later Yasser Arafat addressed the U.N.'s General Assembly--the first non-government official so honored. In 1970 Arafat attempted to overthrow Jordan's King Hussein and tried to do the same a few years later in Lebanon. Yet in 1980, the European Community, in its Venice Declaration, recognized Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization as a legitimate negotiating partner.
In 1973, the National Security Agency recorded Arafat's telephoned instructions to PLO terrorists to murder Cleo Noel, the U.S. ambassador in Sudan, and his deputy George Curtis Moore. Yet in 1993, Arafat was welcomed in the White House for the signing of the Oslo Accords with Israel. That same year, the British National Criminal Intelligence Service reported that the PLO made its money from "extortion, payoffs, illegal arms-dealing, drug trafficking, money laundering and fraud." Yet over the next several years, the Palestinian Authority would become the largest single recipient of foreign aid on a per capita basis.

In 1996, after he had formally renounced terrorism in the Oslo Accords, Arafat told a rally in Gaza that "we are committed to all martyrs who died for the cause of Jerusalem starting with Ahmed Musa until the last martyr Yihye Ayyash"--Musa being the first PLO terrorist to be killed in 1965 and Ayyash being the Hamas mastermind of a series of suicide bombings in which scores of Israeli civilians were killed. Yet the Clinton Administration continued to pretend that Arafat was an ally in the fight against Hamas. In 2000, Arafat rejected an Israeli offer of statehood midwifed by President Clinton and instead initiated the bloody intifada that left 1,000 Israelis and 3,000 Palestinians dead.

In 2005, only months after Arafat's death, Israel dismantled its settlements and withdrew its forces from the Gaza Strip. Palestinians have used the opportunity to intensify their rocket fire at civilian targets within Israel. Last month, Israeli security services arrested two Gazan women, one of them pregnant, who were planning to enter Israel on medical pretexts in order to carry out suicide attacks. Yet the same month, the World Bank issued a report faulting Israel for restricting Palestinian freedom of movement.

Now it appears Hamas has taken control of the Gaza Strip's main road and its border with Egypt, as well as the offices of the so-called Preventive Security Services, traditionally a Fatah stronghold. "They are executing them one by one," a witness told the Associated Press of Hamas's reprisals against the Preventive Security personnel.

We do not pretend to know where all this will lead. On Thursday, Mr. Abbas dissolved the government and declared a state of emergency, though he seems powerless to change the course of events in Gaza. Israel could conceivably intervene, as could Egypt, and both states have powerful reasons to prevent the emergence of a Hamastan with close links to Iran hard on their borders. But neither do they wish to become stuck in the Strip's bottomless factionalism and fanaticism.

At the same time, pressure will surely mount on Israel and the U.S. to accept Hamas's ascendancy and begin negotiations with its leaders. According to this reasoning, the Bush Administration cannot demand democracy of the Palestinians and then refuse to recognize the results of a democratic election.

But leave aside the fact that Mr. Bush did not simply call for an election: Is it wise to negotiate with a group that kills its fellow Palestinians almost as freely as it does Israelis? And what would there be to negotiate about? The best-case scenario--a suspension of hostilities in exchange for renewed international funding--would simply give Hamas time and money to consolidate its rule and rebuild an arsenal for future terror assaults. Then, too, the last thing the Palestinians need is yet further validation from the wider world that the violence they now inflict so indiscriminately works.

The deeper lesson here is that a society that has spent the last decade celebrating suicide bombing would inevitably become a victim of its own nihilistic impulses. This is not the result of Mr. Bush's call for democratic responsibility; it is the bitter fruit of the decades of dictatorship and terrorism as statecraft that Yasser Arafat instilled among Palestinians.
27410  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: June 16, 2007, 03:08:58 AM
Rather than define it, I'll give you an example:  The sugar industry is protected by tariffs from international competition.  The Caribean area is full of countries who could sell us sugar at something like 20% of the cost (working from memory on this one, but the disparity I know to be huge).  This is to "save American jobs".  I have seen studies which assert the cost to the US economy is a couple of hundred thousand dollars per job "saved".  This is corporate welfare, yes?

Paying farmers for not growing crops is corporate welfare, yes?

etc.



I will note that I favor having the tax code take pollution into account.  Pollution is a violation of the free market principal that all the costs of a transaction should be born by the buyer and seller and not innocent third parties.  I favor orienting the tax code towards taxing these external diseconomies and ending other taxes.
27411  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: June 16, 2007, 02:59:20 AM
Good question.  Denny?

On another front, I see that Chavez says he's buying 5 Soviet diesel subs?!? shocked
27412  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: June 15, 2007, 07:12:53 PM
Rog:

At the moment I'll just answer this post of yours:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on Today at 04:36:11 PM
ROG "So are you saying that "suppression of free speech" would have been justified in the above cases because the troops' lives may have been put in extra danger"

MARC: The issue is one of aiding and abetting the enemy-- in time of war.  Are you asserting a free speech right to publish military secrets?!?

ROG: If the secrets in question are war crimes (which Abu Ghraib and the secret torture prisons 100% qualify as), absolutely!

MARC:  Again, Abu Ghraib does not belong in this conversation.  AG was revealed by the US Army of its own accord, yet you keep bringing it up in this context.  IMHO it would be appropriate if you did not keep bringing it up in this context.

Concerning the secret detention centers, your point is rational.  Concerning divulging our secret program getting our side into Iraqi press it is not and concerning our monitoring the enemy's financial flows, it is not.

Quote
ROG" I'm just trying to make the point that it's perfectly valid to accuse somebody of presenting "the truth" in a deliberately inflammatory or irresponsible manner."

MARC What does this have to do with a post that is about true free speech being punished by an University ?!?

ROG You asked if it were possible for the truth to be inflammatory or offensive, and I provided you with examples.

MARC  Ummm, , , no I did not ask that at all.

Rog:  Look, we both agree that the ads shouldn't be banned.  So stop with this fantasy like the newspaper was just innocently presenting "information" instead of knowingly publishing something intentionally hostile and offensive.

Marc:  Hostile?  Sure, but what does it say when people find the Truth offensive and seek to shut down its expression? I'm assuming here that some Muslims complained to the University.  If this is not the case, I submit that voluntary dhimmitude is finding its way to our shores.  Anyway, Maybe this has something to do with the hostility?  And leads to the creation of threads like this one?
 
Marc
 
27413  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: June 15, 2007, 05:08:54 PM
I underline Baltic Dog's point about how few people bother to share their fotos with us.  I also underline his point that most of the pictures are of really low quality.
27414  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: June 15, 2007, 04:48:52 PM
No problem with personal cameras Dog Tom.  What we don't want to see is dual use cameras.
27415  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Kinda Lost on the Homepage. on: June 15, 2007, 04:46:49 PM
So why not set up a private at a mutually convenient time?
27416  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / El excremento continua pegando al ventilador , , , on: June 15, 2007, 03:41:22 PM
stratfor.com

Mexico: The Growing Risk to Businesses
Two days after the targeted killing of Nuevo Leon state legislator Mario Cesar Rios Gutierrez in Mexico's northern industrial city of Monterrey, Public Security Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna said June 14 he will send 1,600 Federal Preventive Police officers to the city. The move is aimed at reinforcing the Mexican army soldiers who have been patrolling Monterrey since state police walked off the job May 21 to protest an increase in officer killings by drug cartels. The increased security presence could return a measure of stability to the once-peaceful state capital, though that might only push the violence elsewhere.

Although crime-related violence is not uncommon in Mexico, the trend toward gratuitous and extreme violence is growing. Moreover, serious crime and bloodshed are now being seen in areas that historically have been calm, such as Monterrey and other areas of the country. This means U.S. citizens living and traveling in Mexico -- as well as the many U.S. companies operating there -- face more risk than ever before. While the already dangerous security situation continues to deteriorate, an uptick in the number of attacks against multinational corporations can be expected.

The June 12 robbery at a U.S. electronics company's warehouse near Mexico City highlights this threat. In that case, a large group of armed men stole two full semi-trailers of electronics after having assaulted the security guards, secured all the employees on site and ordered the workers to report that things were running smoothly. Company officials suspect the perpetrators conducted extensive pre-operational surveillance on the facility, though it also appears likely that someone on the inside cooperated with the robbers.

One of the problems is that the cartel wars are occupying more and more police and federal resources. Another fundamental problem is that the cartels exercise de facto control over large portions of the country. Maintaining this control includes, in many cases, buying off police and government officials at all levels of government, as demonstrated by the June 14 indictment of four former top police officials in Tabasco state on charges brought by a special prosecutor's office on organized crime. Police officers not receiving bribes to cooperate with a cartel risk being killed, while those on a cartel's payroll risk being killed by a rival gang.

This kind of environment is leading to a situation in which crime in general can flourish. As a result, heists at commercial enterprises, with electronics and pharmaceuticals at greatest risk, can be expected to increase.

These problems are not new for Mexico, but as the federal government continues to crack down on organized crime, the drug gangs will continue to respond -- and the violence will soar. Problems like widespread corruption only mean that police and army efforts will continue to fall short. The one bright spot is that Mexicans overwhelmingly support Mexican President Felipe Calderon's efforts against the cartels. A recent poll published by Mexico City daily Reforma indicates that 83 percent of respondents support Calderon's use of the army in the fight against organized crime.

While the federal security presence increases in Monterrey, the cartels could move on to other areas of Mexico -- and then combat troops will be needed in those places as well.
27417  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: June 15, 2007, 03:36:11 PM
"So are you saying that "suppression of free speech" would have been justified in the above cases because the troops' lives may have been put in extra danger"

The issue is one of aiding and abetting the enemy-- in time of war.  Are you asserting a free speech right to publish military secrets?!?

"but not in a case where it might put Muslims in extra danger?"

I see absolutely nothing in the information which we have indicating that this is the case.  It appears that you are pulling this out of thin air.  Anyway, it makes perfect sense to me that people can freely search for Truth about the nature of Islam without being punished by their University.

" I'm just trying to make the point that it's perfectly valid to accuse somebody of presenting "the truth" in a deliberately inflammatory or irresponsible manner."

What does this have to do with a post that is about true free speech being punished by an University ?!?

27418  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: June 15, 2007, 03:28:08 PM
"I myself subscribe to mostly libertarian principles, believe it or not,"

ROTFLMAO cheesy cheesy cheesy

"but I don't trust corporations as much as you seem to." 

This reminds me of a sign I saw in a store once:  "In God we trust.  Everyone else pays cash."

Theft and fraud are violations of the free market and their prevention is a proper function of government, so your various examples of crack frosted flakes and the like are , , , not on point.  Property is a concept and its definition evolves with time. 

27419  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: June 15, 2007, 12:36:52 PM
I'll go further and add that I think RP adds a lot to the campaign and that the Republican Party will be better off for the difficult and unpleasant questions that he raises.

Here's this about Sen. Hillary Evita Clinton:

Hillary removes Mother Teresa photo
 
The Clinton campaign removed a photograph of Hillary Clinton with
Mother Teresa from a campaign video after a complaint from the late
nun's religious order, a Clinton spokesman said.
 
"Sen. Clinton was proud to have worked with and known Mother Teresa,"
said Clinton spokesman Phil Singer. "Her order asked us to remove it
from the video, so we did."
 
The head of a politically conservative Catholic group, Fidelis, said
he brought the video to the attention of Sister Nirmala, Teresa's
successor at the Superior General of the India-based Missionaries of
Charity. Fidelis president Joseph Cella called it "wholly
inappropriate, disrespectful and disturbing that Hillary Clinton
shamelessly exploited Mother's image as a political tool."
 
"Hillary in effect, was the face of America, in Africa, in India..."
the ad says; the original version used the picture as the words "in
India" were narrated.
 
Cella said that in his letter to Nirmala, "We pointed out that the
use of Blessed Teresa's image was particularly inappropriate and
disturbing given Sen. Clinton's staunch support of abortion both here
in the United States and abroad. Mother Teresa tirelessly fought to
protect unborn children, while Hillary Clinton staunchly supports
abortion on demand in all nine months of pregnancy, including partial
birth abortion and taxpayer funding of abortion."
 
Clinton's spokesman, Singer, stressed that the photo was removed at
the behest of the missionary order, not of any other group
27420  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: June 15, 2007, 12:32:01 PM
With permission from the author "PC" I post here his "senryu" (like a haiku, but unlike a haiku not about natural things) about what we do.
==============================

                   Preparations, thoughts boiling
                  Chaotic event transpires, no memories
                             Play, grow, breathe!
 
27421  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: June 15, 2007, 12:27:33 PM
Good Catch
WSJ
June 15, 2007; Page A16
Chalk one up for the good guys. This week's arrest of an alleged leader of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) is the most notable victory yet for Indonesia's four-year-old crack counterterrorism squad. It's also a sign of what committed antiterror governments can accomplish, even in countries with majority-Muslim populations.

Abu Dujana is a major catch by any measure. A long-time terrorist, he started his training in explosives, small arms and guerrilla tactics as early as 1986. While fighting with the mujahadeen in Afghanistan, he befriended other future leaders of JI, including Hambali, mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings; Zulkarnaen, JI's military operations leader; and Abu Rusdan, who helped shelter at least one of the Bali bombers before serving as JI's No. 1.

Dujana is believed to have been critical to JI's ability to function as a broad-based terror network, stretching from Indonesia to the southern Philippines. His loss could prove a major disruption to JI's training, logistics and weapons-procurement efforts -- especially if he rats out his fellow terrorists. More broadly, Dujana was one of the few leaders who bridged operational factions within JI. His arrest doesn't necessarily presage JI's dissolution, but it will complicate life for any successor.

The heroes here are members of Detachment 88, Indonesia's elite counterterrorism security squad. Organized with U.S. and Australian support in the wake of the Bali bombing, the force has steadily gained expertise and morale over its brief life. As each new raid has yielded more information about JI's terrorist network, arrests have been growing in number and frequency; the unit can claim 250 JI kills or captures. The raid that snared Dujana and seven alleged accomplices followed a similar round-up in March.

Detachment 88's strengths are offset by the weaknesses of an Indonesian court system that is still woefully inadequate to tackling complex terrorism cases, as the muddled 2005 prosecution of Bali mastermind Abu Bakar Bashir showed. And Indonesian prisons are becoming hotbeds of radicalization, not least because many jails don't separate terror suspects-cum-proselytizers from potential recruits. Looming in the background is Jakarta's failure to ban Jemaah Islamiyah, largely for domestic political reasons.

Nonetheless, Indonesia has come a long way in a short time, and Detachment 88 shows what a small but elite squad can accomplish. Indonesians have been especially successful at collecting human intelligence and combining it with more high-tech intelligence programs. Dujana's arrest is another sign that the U.S. is not alone in resisting radical Islam's terror methods.
27422  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Men & Women on: June 15, 2007, 12:22:20 PM
WSJ

Boys to Men
Raising three sons has helped me appreciate the masculine virtues.

BY TONY WOODLIEF
Friday, June 15, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

I think Father's Day ought not to be a celebration of every man who managed to procreate, but instead a time to honor those increasingly rare men who are actually good at fathering. But what makes a good father? This question holds more than philosophical interest for me. Though my father left when I was young, and my stepfather found me uninteresting, I now have three sons of my own (ages 7, 5 and 2). Not knowing any better, they think I have fatherhood figured out. They believe Father's Day is rightly my day.

Judging by the greeting cards, Father's Day is like a Sabbath for many men, a day Dad puts his feet up. I think the Almighty was able to rest one day a week because he had just the two kids, only one of whom was male. I could really use a restful Father's Day, but recently I found my sons huddled over a book on traps, which makes me fear that they're planning for my gift to be something live. Already this spring they've captured a snake, a bullfrog and at least one deadly spider. While other men think about golfing or napping tomorrow, I'm praying I can weather the day without getting bitten.

There's more than a little irony in the fact that I have three sons. I'm not what you'd call a master of the manly arts. I can't start a fire without a match, or track a deer, or ride a horse. I don't know how to fix cars, and my infrequent forays into home repair usually necessitate medical attention. But these are the things little boys want to learn--I remember wanting to learn them myself. Or maybe it's that boys yearn to do things with fathers, and those things usually involve a little danger. A new wildly popular book of essential boy knowledge recognizes this in its title: "The Dangerous Book for Boys." My oldest has dog-eared nearly every page.

I'm allergic to most danger. I get a stomachache at the thought of confrontation. I'm grouchy and self-centered, and have few of the traits that William McKeever, in his curmudgeonly 1913 classic, "Training the Boy," considered essential to manhood: "courageous action in the face of trying circumstances, cordial sympathy and helpfulness in all dealings with others, and a sane disposition toward the Ruler of All Life." I'm hardly qualified to be a role-model for three boys.





Many academics would consider my lack of manliness a good thing. They regard boys as thugs-in-training, caught up in a patriarchal society that demeans women. In the 1990s the American Association of University Women (among others) positioned boys as the enemies of female progress (something Christina Hoff Sommers exposed in her book, "The War Against Boys"). But the latest trend is to depict boys as themselves victims of a testosterone-infected culture. In their book "Raising Cain," for example, the child psychologists Don Kindlon and Michael Thompson warn parents against a "culture of cruelty" among boys. Forget math, science and throwing a ball, they suggest--what your boy most needs to learn is emotional literacy.
But I can't shake the sense that boys are supposed to become manly. Rather than neutering their aggression, confidence and desire for danger, we should channel these instincts into honor, gentlemanliness and courage. Instead of inculcating timidity in our sons, it seems wiser to train them to face down bullies, which by necessity means teaching them how to throw a good uppercut. In his book "Manliness," Harvey Mansfield writes that a person manifesting this quality "not only knows what justice requires, but he acts on his knowledge, making and executing the decision that the rest of us trembled even to define." You can't build a civilization and defend it against barbarians, fascists and playground bullies, in other words, with a nation of Phil Donahues.

Maybe the problem isn't that boys are aggressive, but that we've neglected their moral education. As Teddy Roosevelt wrote to one of his sons: "I would rather have a boy of mine stand high in his studies than high in athletics, but I would a great deal rather have him show true manliness of character than show either intellectual or physical prowess." Manliness, then, is not the ability to survive in the wilderness, or wield a rifle. But having such skills increases the odds that one's manly actions--which Roosevelt and others believed flow from a moral quality--will be successful.

The good father, then, needs to nurture his son's moral and spiritual core, and equip him with the skills he'll need to act on the moral impulse that we call courage. A real man, in other words, is someone who doesn't run from an Osama bin Laden. But he may also need the ability to hit a target from three miles out with a .50 caliber M88 if he wants to finish the job.

Not only do I believe that trying to take the wildness out of boys is a doomed social experiment, but I'm certain that genetic scientists will eventually discover that males carry the Cowboy Gene. That's my name for whatever is responsible for all the wrestling in my house, and the dunking during bath time, and my 5-year-old's insistence on wearing his silver six-shooters to Wal-Mart in order to protect our grocery cart. I only pray that when the Cowboy Gene is discovered, some well-meaning utopian doesn't try to transform it into a Tea Party Gene.





The trick is not to squash the essence of boys, but to channel their natural wildness into manliness. And this is what keeps me awake at night, because it's going to take a miracle for someone like me, who grew up without meaningful male influence, who would be an embarrassment to Teddy Roosevelt, to raise three men. Along with learning what makes a good father, I face an added dilemma: How do I raise my sons to be better than their father?
What I'm discovering is that as I try to guide these ornery, wild-hearted little boys toward manhood, they are helping me become a better man, too. I love my sons without measure, and I want them to have the father I did not. As I stumble and sometimes fail, as I feign an interest in camping and construction and bugs, I become something better than I was.

Father's Day, in our house, won't entail golfing or napping or watching a game. I'll probably have to contend with some trapped and irritated reptile. There's that cannon made of PVC that my oldest boy has been pestering me to help him finish. And the youngest two boys are lately enamored of climbing onto furniture and blindsiding me with flying tackles. Father's Day is going to be exhausting. But it will be good, because in the midst of these trials and joys I find my answer to the essential question on Father's Day. What makes a good father? My sons.

Mr. Woodlief's pamphlet "Raising Wild Boys Into Men: A Modern Dad's Survival Guide" is available from the New Pamphleteer. He also blogs about family and faith at www.tonywoodlief.com.
27423  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: June 15, 2007, 12:15:03 PM
The Old Affection
It takes secure boundaries for it to flourish.
Peggy Noonan
WSJ
Friday, June 15, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Go deeper.

That's what I keep thinking as Americans fight the Washington establishment (the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, their big contributors) on immigration. Go deeper. Look at the real emotions driving the struggle as opposed to what politicians and the media claim are "the high emotions surrounding this issue."

You know what I think is the American mood right now on immigration? Anti-immigration and for the immigrant. Against the abstract and for the particular.

We're against gushing borders and illegal immigration, which is at this point even souring the general mood on legal immigration, because we don't trust our bureaucrats to let in the people America needs. We don't trust our bureaucrats and leaders to care a lot about America. (We assume that when senators are together, if someone says, "But what about America?" everyone laughs, and then the top senator says, dryly, "Your concern is duly noted. Next.")

But that's the abstract, "immigration." In the particular--the immigrants we see and work with and know--we're for them.

We're asking for closed borders and pulling for newcomers.

And this isn't ambivalence, and it isn't confusion. It's common sense plus humanity.

The White House is exploiting American alarm at uncontrolled borders to get its way. This of course has added to the sense of national alarm. They believe the alarm works for them: If you don't pass our bill we'll never control your borders--yes, "your"--and you'll suffer! In the general air of agitation, anger festers. People feel powerless. Rage follows, and in this case I believe deep fissures will follow that.

What gets lost in the alarm, and will get lost in the fissures, is the old affection the whole country felt, and still feels, for its newcomers. Not shallow sentiment or softness but something more constitutional, more civic.

As in: I'm in Mass, or in the deli down the street, or the bathroom of a restaurant, and I see a Hispanic woman, obviously hardworking, obviously so far not lucky, not yet. This is what I think: Hi, Grandma. My grandmother was a bathroom attendant on the fifth floor of the A&S department store in downtown Brooklyn. She was an immigrant from Ireland.

When I see new Americans, I think I'm seeing her. And I am not alone. And I know what we feel, and it is not antagonism. It is some kind of old civic love, some kind of connection that echoes back, that doesn't quite have a name but is part of who we are.





In New York last weekend we had the Puerto Rican Day Parade. I walked from midtown to uptown in the throngs. Babies, strollers, mommies, people dressed in red, white and blue. Puerto Ricans are citizens of the United States, but some of the people around me were new arrivals. On 86th Street, at the end of the parade, I saw a teenage girl in a silver-white gown. She'd just gotten off a float and was sitting on the curb. She looked like a Miss Universe contestant--brown skin, big eyes, beautiful. She looked like she wants to be Jennifer Lopez. This is a very American thing to want to be. Near her there was another girl in a gown. She was shorter, thicker, and had a tattoo on her arm of the American flag. I thought: She'll be a Marine some day.
Some things were not good, not at all. A young man hurled an obscene epithet. He was that angry I wasn't Latin, and he felt I should know. Another young man deliberately frightened a shopkeeper on Madison Avenue. When he walked by the store, he put out his arm as if he had a gun in his hand, aiming it at her. I was behind him. I looked at the woman as she flinched, and our eyes locked: This is bad.

We're going to have to work on that young man, on both of them.

But we always have to work on young men, don't we?





Lately in the immigration debate we have been discussing and debating statistics on such things as family breakdown, education levels, and criminality among Hispanic newcomers. This reminds me of a number of things, some of them perhaps to this day delicate. One is that among the immigrant Irish of the late 19th and early 20th centuries there were fairly high levels of dysfunction, family neglect, alcoholism. As for criminality, they didn't call it the paddy wagon for nothing. My tribe was an obstreperous one. Many tribes are, at least the interesting ones. People are human and human is messy.
Another thought is that statistical breakdowns on our ethnic groups, Bell Curves and Reports on Out of Wedlock Birthrates, are not in themselves necessarily wrong, but there's something rather rude about them. That is perhaps a sissy thing to say, but what I mean is this: If you have a mother and a father with a big family of kids it would be rude--and unhelpful, and not conducive to promoting peace--for the grown-ups to sit around the table at night and say to their children, "Joey, you're the smart one," and "Elizabeth is dumber and yet dogged," and "Bobby here is our promiscuous one." How exactly would that help? It's not even "realistic": Today's reality can change. An academic might say, "I'm not their father." Fair enough, but you're a grown-up, and if you're a grown-up, you're in charge of America right now.





A little love would go a long way right now. We should stop putting newcomers in constant jeopardy by blithely importing ever-newer immigrants who'll work for ever lower wages. The ones here will never get a sure foot on the next rung that way.
We should close the border, pause, absorb what we have, and set ourselves to "patriating" the newcomers who are here. The young of AmeriCorps might help teach them English. Those reaching retirement age, who happen to be the last people in America who were taught and know American history, could help them learn the story of our country. We could, as a nation, set our minds to this.

We shouldn't be disheartened. So much good could be done once a Great Pause begins, once the alarm is abated.

What will we do about the 12 million here? Nothing radical. We're not really a radical people, Americans.

Having no borders--that's radical.

Saying, to the American people, in essence, Back my big bill or I will not close the borders, is radical.

Insisting on "all or nothing at all" is radical.

Leaving your country wide open in the age of terror is radical.

But America isn't radical. If its leaders only knew! Our leaders are in need not only of wisdom but of faith. And, as always, love, as opposed to mere sentiment, and vanity, and pride.

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.
27424  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: June 15, 2007, 12:09:43 PM
SB Mig:

On many points I am in substantial agreement with Ron Paul.  Indeed I voted for him for President when he ran for the Libertarian Party some 20 odd years ago.  I even agree with him that substantial portions of the Republican Party do not acknowledge the blowback issue and engage with it in intelligent discussion.

Where I disagree with him, and it is an important disagreement, is that I do not see blowback as the principal fundamental cause of the current gathering storm of world-wide war.  I see the fundamental problem as one of a world-wide movement of literally hundreds of millions of religious fascists and their sympathizers.

Marc
27425  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: June 15, 2007, 12:02:11 PM


"The Abu Ghraib photos and our secret torture camps in Eastern Europe also qualify as inconvenient truths necessary for awareness, yet IIRC you considered the "New  York Slimes", "Left Angeles Times", etc. totally irresponsible (if not guilty of treason) for publishing these revelations during wartime as they risked increased hostility towards the troops in Iraq.  Again, I don't support banning the ads in question, but I also don't blame the Muslims for being pissed about them and perceiving them as an unnecessary attack."

Umm, lets be a bit more precise here. 

1) Abu Ghraib and the investigation thereof which was generated by regular Army procedures without any public knowledge of the events in question at the time was revealed to the press by the Pentagon.
2) The secret detention centers in Europe in my opinion should not have been revealed.  What also earned my ire at the NY Slimes and the Left Angeles Times was their revelation of a secret military program to get favorable articles in Iraqi media and of a secret government program that was monitoring secret islamo-fascist movements of money.  In my opinion, in time of war these actions ARE irresponsible at best and do veer towards treason.  Actions such as these cost real lives of real Americans who are putting their butts on the line for all of us.

The nature of Islam is a vital question of our time.  Yes I am sure that pieces like this irk many Muslims, but in that they are based upon truth and operate within the context of Reason, that really is irrelevant in America.  Free Speech irritates many people on a regular basis.  Too bad, so sad.  The answer is for Muslims to answer the points and questions raised, not get p*ssy PC, multi-cultural academic cowards to silence them.
27426  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: June 15, 2007, 11:50:49 AM
C'mon, libertarian doesn't mean anarchist.  It means govt limited to certain functions (e.g. protection of property rights such as copyright in a DVD.)  Our Founding Fathers were libertarians.  In their essence, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights were and are libertarian.
27427  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen. Lieberman on: June 15, 2007, 11:06:48 AM


What I Saw in Iraq
Iran remains a problem, but Anbar has joined the fight against terror.

BY JOSEPH LIEBERMAN
Friday, June 15, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

I recently returned from Iraq and four other countries in the Middle East, my first trip to the region since December. In the intervening five months, almost everything about the American war effort in Baghdad has changed, with a new coalition military commander, Gen. David Petraeus; a new U.S. ambassador, Ryan Crocker; the introduction, at last, of new troops; and most important of all, a bold, new counterinsurgency strategy.

The question of course is--is it working? Here in Washington, advocates of retreat insist with absolute certainty that it is not, seizing upon every suicide bombing and American casualty as proof positive that the U.S. has failed in Iraq, and that it is time to get out.

In Baghdad, however, discussions with the talented Americans responsible for leading this fight are more balanced, more hopeful and, above all, more strategic in their focus--fixated not just on the headline or loss of the day, but on the larger stakes in this struggle, beginning with who our enemies are in Iraq. The officials I met in Baghdad said that 90% of suicide bombings in Iraq today are the work of non-Iraqi, al Qaeda terrorists. In fact, al Qaeda's leaders have repeatedly said that Iraq is the central front of their global war against us. That is why it is nonsensical for anyone to claim that the war in Iraq can be separated from the war against al Qaeda--and why a U.S. pullout, under fire, would represent an epic victory for al Qaeda, as significant as their attacks on 9/11.

Some of my colleagues in Washington claim we can fight al Qaeda in Iraq while disengaging from the sectarian violence there. Not so, say our commanders in Baghdad, who point out that the crux of al Qaeda's strategy is to spark Iraqi civil war.

Al Qaeda is launching spectacular terrorist bombings in Iraq, such as the despicable attack on the Golden Mosque in Samarra this week, to try to provoke sectarian violence. Its obvious aim is to use Sunni-Shia bloodshed to collapse the Iraqi government and create a failed state in the heart of the Middle East, radicalizing the region and providing a base from which to launch terrorist attacks against the West.





Facts on the ground also compel us to recognize that Iran is doing everything in its power to drive us out of Iraq, including providing substantive support, training and sophisticated explosive devices to insurgents who are murdering American soldiers. Iran has initiated a deadly military confrontation with us, from bases in Iran, which we ignore at our peril, and at the peril of our allies throughout the Middle East.
The precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces would not only throw open large parts of Iraq to domination by the radical regime in Tehran, it would also send an unmistakable message to the entire Middle East--from Lebanon to Gaza to the Persian Gulf where Iranian agents are threatening our allies--that Iran is ascendant there, and America is in retreat. One Arab leader told me during my trip that he is extremely concerned about Tehran's nuclear ambitions, but that he doubted America's staying power in the region and our political will to protect his country from Iranian retaliation over the long term. Abandoning Iraq now would substantiate precisely these gathering fears across the Middle East that the U.S. is becoming an unreliable ally.

That is why--as terrible as the continuing human cost of fighting this war in Iraq is--the human cost of losing it would be even greater.

Gen. Petraeus and other U.S. officials in Iraq emphasize that it is still too soon to draw hard judgments about the success of our new security strategy--but during my visit I saw hopeful signs of progress. Consider Anbar province, Iraq's heart of darkness for most of the past four years. When I last visited Anbar in December, the U.S. military would not allow me to visit the provincial capital, Ramadi, because it was too dangerous. Anbar was one of al Qaeda's major strongholds in Iraq and the region where the majority of American casualties were occurring. A few months earlier, the Marine Corps chief of intelligence in Iraq had written off the entire province as "lost," while the Iraq Study Group described the situation there as "deteriorating."

When I returned to Anbar on this trip, however, the security environment had undergone a dramatic reversal. Attacks on U.S. troops there have dropped from an average of 30 to 35 a day a few months ago to less than one a day now, according to Col. John Charlton, commander of the 1st Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, headquartered in Ramadi. Whereas six months ago only half of Ramadi's 23 tribes were cooperating with the coalition, all have now been persuaded to join an anti-al Qaeda alliance. One of Ramadi's leading sheikhs told me: "A rifle pointed at an American soldier is a rifle pointed at an Iraqi."

The recent U.S. experience in Anbar also rebuts the bromide that the new security plan is doomed to fail because there is no "military" solution for Iraq. In fact, no one believes there is a purely "military" solution for Iraq. But the presence of U.S. forces is critical not just to ensuring basic security, but to a much broader spectrum of diplomatic, political and economic missions--which are being carried out today in Iraq under Gen. Petraeus's counterinsurgency strategy.

In Anbar, for example, the U.S. military has been essential to the formation and survival of the tribal alliance against al Qaeda, simultaneously holding together an otherwise fractious group of Sunni Arab leaders through deft diplomacy, while establishing a political bridge between them and the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad. "This is a continuous effort," Col. Charlton said. "We meet with the sheikhs every single day and at every single level."

In Baghdad, U.S. forces have cut in half the number of Iraqi deaths from sectarian violence since the surge began in February. They have also been making critical improvements in governance, basic services and commercial activity at the grassroots level.

On Haifa Street, for instance, where there was bloody fighting not so long ago, the 2nd "Black Jack" Brigade of our First Cavalry Division, under the command of a typically impressive American colonel, Bryan Roberts, has not only retaken the neighborhood from insurgents, but is working with the local population to revamp the electrical grid and sewer system, renovate schools and clinics, and create an "economic safe zone" where businesses can reopen. Indeed, of the brigade's five "lines of operations," only one is strictly military. That Iraq reality makes pure fiction of the argument heard in Washington that the surge will fail because it is only "military."

Some argue that the new strategy is failing because, despite gains in Baghdad and Anbar, violence has increased elsewhere in the country, such as Diyala province. This gets things backwards: Our troops have succeeded in improving security conditions in precisely those parts of Iraq where the "surge" has focused. Al Qaeda has shifted its operations to places like Diyala in large measure because we have made progress in pushing them out of Anbar and Baghdad. The question now is, do we consolidate and build on the successes that the new strategy has achieved, keeping al Qaeda on the run, or do we abandon them?

To be sure, there are still daunting challenges ahead. Iraqi political leaders, in particular, need to step forward and urgently work through difficult political questions, whose resolution is necessary for national reconciliation and, as I told them, continuing American support.

These necessary legislative compromises would be difficult to accomplish in any political system, including peaceful, long-established democracies--as the recent performance of our own Congress reminds us. Nonetheless, Iraqi leaders are struggling against enormous odds to make progress, and told me they expect to pass at least some of the key benchmark bills this summer. It is critical that they do so.





Here, too, however, a little perspective is useful. While benchmarks are critically important, American soldiers are not fighting in Iraq today only so that Iraqis can pass a law to share oil revenues. They are fighting because a failed state in the heart of the Middle East, overrun by al Qaeda and Iran, would be a catastrophe for American national security and our safety here at home. They are fighting al Qaeda and agents of Iran in order to create the stability in Iraq that will allow its government to take over, to achieve the national reconciliation that will enable them to pass the oil law and other benchmark legislation.
I returned from Iraq grateful for the progress I saw and painfully aware of the difficult problems that remain ahead. But I also returned with a renewed understanding of how important it is that we not abandon Iraq to al Qaeda and Iran, so long as victory there is still possible.

And I conclude from my visit that victory is still possible in Iraq--thanks to the Iraqi majority that desperately wants a better life, and because of the courage, compassion and competence of the extraordinary soldiers and statesmen who are carrying the fight there, starting with Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. The question now is, will we politicians in Washington rise to match their leadership, sacrifices and understanding of what is on the line for us in Iraq--or will we betray them, and along with them, America's future security?

Mr. Lieberman is an Independent Democratic senator from Connecticut.
27428  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CAIR in decline on: June 15, 2007, 10:57:21 AM
A sign of good judgement from American Muslims?
=================================

CAIR membership plummets
Membership in the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has plummeted by more than 90 percent since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, hemorrhaging from more than 29,000 in 2000 to fewer than 1,700 in 2006. Income from dues at CAIR has fallen from $732,765 in 2000 to $58,750 in 2006, and the majority of the organization’s budget now comes from approximately two dozen donors.

According to M. Zuhdi Jasser, director of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, this reflects the ideological gap between CAIR and American Muslims. Jasser stated, “Post-9/11, [CAIR has] marginalized themselves by their tired exploitation of media attention for victimization issues at the expense of representing the priorities of the American Muslim population.” CAIR certainly didn’t do itself any favors by crying foul last November when six imams were removed from a US Airways flight after passengers complained of suspicious behavior. And while applauding recent arrests in the “Fort Dix Six” case, CAIR “urged Muslims to report to police any incidents of harassment or vandalism against them,” predictably warning of an anti-Muslim backlash that never materialized.

The Patriot has noted before the thinly veiled terrorist ideology of CAIR, which has repeatedly refused to condemn Hamas and Hizballah despite claims that they “condemn all acts of violence against civilians by any individual, group or state.” Apparently, (former) members aren’t buying their line either.

PatriotPost.com
27429  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Head injury/brain damage/concussion in boxing, kickboxing, football, etc: on: June 15, 2007, 07:53:26 AM
Today's NT Times:

Lineman, Dead at 36, Exposes Brain Injuries
By ALAN SCHWARZ
Published: June 15, 2007
WEST SENECA, N.Y., June 13 — Mary Strzelczyk spoke to the computer screen as clearly as it was speaking to her. “Oh, Justin,” she said through sobs, “I’m so sorry.”

Justin Strzelczyk was killed during a high-speed police chase on Sept. 30, 2004, when his pickup collided with a tractor-trailer and exploded.

The images on the screen were of magnified brain tissue from her son, the former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Justin Strzelczyk, who was killed in a fiery automobile crash three years ago at age 36. Four red splotches specked an otherwise tranquil sea — early signs of brain damage that experts said was most likely caused by the persistent head trauma of life in football’s trenches.

Strzelczyk (pronounced STRELL-zick) is the fourth former National Football League player to have been found post-mortem to have had a condition similar to that generally found only in boxers with dementia or people in their 80s. The diagnosis was made by Dr. Bennet Omalu, a neuropathologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. In the past five years, he has found similar damage in the brains of the former N.F.L. players Mike Webster, Terry Long and Andre Waters. The finding will add to the growing evidence that longtime football players, particularly linemen, might endure hidden brain trauma that is only now becoming recognized.

“This is irreversible brain damage,” Omalu said. “It’s most likely caused by concussions sustained on the football field.”

Dr. Ronald Hamilton of the University of Pittsburgh and Dr. Kenneth Fallon of West Virginia University confirmed Omalu’s findings of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition evidenced by neurofibrillary tangles in the brain’s cortex, which can cause memory loss, depression and eventually Alzheimer’s disease-like dementia. “This is extremely abnormal in a 36-year-old,” Hamilton said. “If I didn’t know anything about this case and I looked at the slides, I would have asked, ‘Was this patient a boxer?’ ”

The discovery of a fourth player with chronic traumatic encephalopathy will most likely be discussed when N.F.L. officials and medical personnel meet in Chicago on Tuesday for an unprecedented conference regarding concussion management. The league and its players association have consistently played down findings on individual players like Strzelczyk as anecdotal, and widespread survey research of retired players with depression and early Alzheimer’s disease as of insufficient scientific rigor.

The N.F.L. spokesman Greg Aiello said that the league had no comment on the Strzelczyk findings. Gene Upshaw, executive director of the N.F.L. Players Association, did not respond to telephone messages seeking comment.

Strzelczyk, 6 feet 6 inches and 300 pounds, was a monstrous presence on the Steelers’ offensive line from 1990-98. He was known for his friendly, banjo-playing spirit and gluttony for combat. He spiraled downward after retirement, however, enduring a divorce and dabbling with steroid-like substances, and soon before his death complained of depression and hearing voices from what he called “the evil ones.” He was experiencing an apparent breakdown the morning of Sept. 30, 2004, when, during a 40-mile high-speed police chase in central New York, his pickup truck collided with a tractor-trailer and exploded, killing him instantly.

Largely forgotten, Strzelczyk’s case was recalled earlier this year by Dr. Julian Bailes, the chairman of the department of neurosurgery at West Virginia University and the Steelers’ team neurosurgeon during Strzelczyk’s career. (Bailes is also the medical director of the University of North Carolina’s Center for the Study of Retired Athletes and has co-authored several prominent papers identifying links between concussions and later-life emotional and cognitive problems.) Bailes suggested to Omalu that Strzelczyk’s brain tissue might be preserved at the local coroner’s office, a hunch that proved correct.

Mary Strzelczyk granted permission to Omalu and his unlikely colleague, the former professional wrestler Christopher Nowinski, to examine her son’s brain for signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Nowinski, a former Harvard football player who retired from wrestling because of repeated concussions in both sports, has become a prominent figure in the field after spearheading the discovery earlier this year of C.T.E. inside the brain of Andre Waters, the former Philadelphia Eagles defensive back who committed suicide last November at age 44.

Tests for C.T.E., which cannot be performed on a living person other than through an intrusive tissue biopsy, confirmed the condition in Strzelczyk two weeks ago. Omalu and Nowinski visited Mary Strzelczyk’s home near Buffalo on Wednesday to discuss the family’s psychological history as well as any experiences Justin might have had with head trauma in and out of sports. Mary Strzelczyk did not recall her son’s having any concussions in high school, college or the N.F.L., and published Steelers injury reports indicated none as well.

========

Page 2 of 2)

Omalu remained confident that the damage was caused by concussions Strzelczyk might not have reported because — like many players of that era — he did not know what a concussion was or did not want to appear weak. Omalu also said that it could have developed from what he called “subconcussive impacts,” more routine blows to the head that linemen repeatedly endure.

“Could there be another cause? Not to my knowledge,” said Bailes, adding that Strzelczyk’s car crash could not have caused the C.T.E. tangles. Bailes also said that bipolar disorder, signs of which Strzelczyk appeared to be increasingly exhibiting in the months before his death, would not be caused, but perhaps could be exacerbated, by the encephalopathy.

Omalu and Bailes said Strzelczyk’s diagnosis is particularly notable because the condition manifested itself when he was in his mid-30s. The other players were 44 to 50 — several decades younger than what would be considered normal for their conditions — when they died: Long and Waters by suicide and Webster of a heart attack amid significant psychological problems.

Two months ago, Omalu examined the brain tissue of one other deceased player, the former Denver Broncos running back Damien Nash, who died in February at 24 after collapsing following a charity basketball game. (A Broncos spokesman said that the cause of death has yet to be identified.) Omalu said he was not surprised that Nash showed no evidence of C.T.E. because the condition could almost certainly not develop in someone that young. “This is a progressive disease,” he said.

Omalu and Nowinski said they were investigating several other cases of N.F.L. players who have recently died. They said some requests to examine players’ brain tissue have been either denied by families or made impossible because samples were destroyed.

Bailes, Nowinski and Omalu said that they were forming an organization, the Sports Legacy Institute, to help formalize the process of approaching families and conducting research. Nowinski said the nonprofit program, which will be housed at a university to be determined and will examine the overall safety of sports, would have an immediate emphasis on exploring brain trauma through cases like Strzelczyk’s. Published research has suggested that genetics can play a role in the effects of concussion on different people.

“We want to get a idea of risks of concussions and how widespread chronic traumatic encephalopathy is in former football players,” Nowinski said. “We are confident there are more cases out there in more sports.”

Mary Strzelczyk said she agreed to Omalu’s and Nowinski’s requests because she wanted to better understand the conditions under which her son died. Looking at the C.T.E. tangles on a computer screen on Wednesday, she said they would be “a piece of the puzzle” she is eager to complete for herself and perhaps others.

“I’m interested for me and for other mothers,” she said. “If some good can come of this, that’s it. Maybe some young football player out there will see this and be saved the trouble.”

27430  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Royce Gracie tests positive for 'roids on: June 14, 2007, 09:50:16 PM

http://www.sherdog.com/news/news.asp?n_id=7908
27431  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: June 14, 2007, 09:22:50 PM
Doug:

In the late 60s-early 70s I thought I was a leftist.  Then in 1975 I went back to college and took my first economics course.  What a revelation!  What I discovered I had been all along was pro-freedom and that , , , drum roll please , , , I was a libertarian.  Free minds and free markets!!!  It was at this point I began reading the WSJ, especially the editorial page.  I remember well the intellectual ferment and excitement of the editorials you describe.  I became a big fan of Jude Wanniski's "The Way the World Works".

I am far less sanguine than you about Murdoch.  In the context of the WSJ, his track record concerns me.

Marc
27432  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 14, 2007, 09:12:52 PM
PNA: Hamas Gains the Upper Hand in Gaza
Summary

Hamas consolidated its hold over the Gaza Strip after it captured one of the last Fatah command centers in Gaza City on June 14. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to dissolve the parliament and hold new elections, but doing so would only cripple Fatah's position even more, and Hamas knows this. After five days of bloody clashes, Hamas has dramatically changed the negotiating landscape in the Palestinian territories to pressure Fatah into giving up a significant degree of control over the Palestinian security apparatus.

Analysis

Hamas' trademark green flags waved over the Preventive Security headquarters in Gaza City on June 14. The headquarters is one of the last major Fatah compounds that Hamas has taken over after five days of deadly clashes in the Gaza Strip. Reports indicate that President Mahmoud Abbas has dissolved the Saudi-brokered "unity government," though the merits of such a move remain unclear.

Abbas has made such threats before, and he knows that he will be facing a full-scale civil war in the territories that would result in the creation of de facto mini-states, with Hamas in charge of Gaza and Fatah in charge of the West Bank, if Hamas is forced out of the government. He also knows Fatah would have almost no chance of winning a clear majority if new elections were held, and that his fractured Fatah movement might not be able to regain its current position if an all-out factional battle ensues. The fighting already is so bad that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, led by Muhammad Mahdi Akef, is being asked to mediate the crisis, and Abbas has given orders to Fatah members to fight back against Hamas.

Fatah is weak, and Hamas knows it. And this is precisely what is giving Hamas the confidence to go on the offensive and essentially establish what is being referred to as "Hamastan" in the Gaza Strip. In Hamas' mind, the time has come to redraw the lines on the power-distribution map based on its gains on the battlefield. The root of this bitter power struggle is control over the Palestinian security forces, which Hamas needs in order to ensure the longevity of its militant arm.

Even though it came to power through a landslide victory in the January 2006 legislative elections, Hamas has been unable to make much headway toward its ultimate goal of replacing Fatah as the main Palestinian actor. In fact, international sanctions and Fatah's control of the presidency (and hence security forces) forced Hamas' hand to the point where it had to agree to sharing power, even though it had a clear majority in parliament. The latest wave of fighting has allowed Hamas to at least lay claim to Gaza, from where it will try to extend its control into the West Bank.

Not only is the West Bank more ideologically in tune with Fatah, but Hamas also needs to control the security forces in order to legitimize its power projection. Otherwise, its moves will be seen as those of a militia group rather than a legitimate national institution.

Thus far, the problem has been that Fatah loyalists have firmly dominated the security forces. Hamas has played along with the negotiations and with Saudi efforts to broker a power-sharing agreement, but Hamas' key demand is to gain control over the Interior Ministry and remove several key Fatah security chiefs. Former Palestinian Interior Minister Hani al-Qawasmi, who recently resigned out of exasperation, was assigned his post as an independent player in the Hamas-Fatah fracas, but exiled Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal used his loyalists in Gaza to heavily pressure al-Qawasmi to not cooperate with Abbas' security personnel. The man at the top of Hamas' hit list is Muhammad Dahlan, a senior Fatah figure and former interior minister who Abbas appointed as national security adviser to restructure security forces and thus undermine al-Qawasmi's authority. Dahlan's experience in cracking down on Hamas militants in the 1990s has made him a mortal enemy in the eyes of Hamas leaders.

With likely backing from its supporters in Damascus and Tehran, Hamas has realized it no longer has to play defense against Fatah. Hamas also is working to undermine Fatah's credibility by heavily playing up allegations that Fatah is working with the CIA and Israel’s Mossad. Any Israeli military action in Gaza to try to contain Hamas will be widely perceived in the territories as Israel coming to Fatah's rescue, and Hamas will be sure to get that message across. From any angle, Fatah is in an extremely weak position. With that in mind, Hamas is betting that Abbas will have no choice but to negotiate and give in to Hamas' demands if he wants to avoid a full-scale civil war. And now that Hamas has taken over Fatah's military compounds in Gaza, it has access to thousands of U.S.-financed assault rifles, trucks, mortars, hand grenades and army radios to use in a fight if the situation comes down to civil war.

Hamas wants to show that the Western economic embargo against its democratically elected government will only result in more chaos in the territories and create a larger breeding ground for militias and crime families to take root. (The leading crime family in Gaza, Dugmush, is already believed to have aligned itself with al Qaeda-linked militants.) Hamas wants to be seen as a strong political force that Western governments will have to deal with if they want to prevent a larger conflagration down the line.

In the end, it looks like Abbas will have no choice but to cave in to at least some of Hamas' key demands if he wants to quell this crisis. Before that happens, however, things will get a lot bloodier, and it cannot be assured that either party will have the internal discipline to stop the gunfire.

stratfor.com
27433  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: June 14, 2007, 04:33:00 PM


Here's the mats:  https://ws04.ipowerweb.com/smartweb/swainsportsmats/cart/product_gold_mats.asp
27434  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: June 14, 2007, 04:27:55 PM
Rog:

Apparently the disciplinary committee DID find it unprotected-- that is precisely the point of the piece.  Why does the suppression of free speech not concern you?

"I would instead make the point that while the content of the ad may be "factual" the newspaper is being deliberately and needlessly inflammatory by publishing it, especially at the time they chose to."

How can the truth be deliberately and needlessly inflammatory?  And why would it not be appropriate to raise these questions precisely at the moment of "Islamic Awareness Week"?  Should not awareness include inconvenient truths as well?

Marc
27435  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: June 14, 2007, 11:17:53 AM
Tis a rare event, but I have some sympathy for Rog's point about corporate welfare, etc.

When I was running for Congress in the 36th District in 1992 (winner was Jane Harman) I would tell a story about how a friend and I were sitting in a restaurant and three people at the neighboring people came over and handed us their bill. "What is this?"  I asked.  "We had a vote." they answered, "You are paying for us."
27436  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: June 14, 2007, 09:00:47 AM
Comments?
=======================

Al Qaeda's American Harbor
A bad decision likely to be overturned.
WSJ
Thursday, June 14, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT


On Monday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that al Qaeda agent Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri can't be detained as an enemy combatant. The press corps is reporting--no, shouting, cheering, doing somersaults--that this is further proof that Bush Administration detainee policies are doomed to legal oblivion.

Well, here's a wager: This decision is the outlier and will be overturned on appeal, while most of the Administration's legal antiterror architecture will survive past January 20, 2009. Any takers?

There's no doubt that the 2-1 Fourth Circuit ruling in Al-Marri v. Wright is remarkable and dangerous in its sweeping judicial claims. Judges Diane Motz and Roger Gregory, both Bill Clinton nominees, ruled that a person like al-Marri does not qualify as an enemy combatant, because the U.S. cannot be "at war" with a private group like al Qaeda.
For the "enemy combatant" moniker to apply, the court said, a terrorist must have set foot in the soil "alongside" the forces of an enemy state--i.e., Iraq or Afghanistan. This is odd in itself, since by definition al Qaeda is a transnational organization. In some respects this makes it more of a security threat because there is no government the U.S. can hold responsible for its actions.

By such fancy footwork, the judges also get around the fact that their decision contradicts existing precedent in both their own circuit and the Supreme Court. In Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, the Supreme Court ruled that an American captured on a battlefield in Afghanistan could be designated an enemy combatant. Ditto Fourth Circuit precedent, which strengthened Hamdi with its ruling in the case of Jose Padilla, the U.S. citizen who was arrested at O'Hare airport with plans to detonate a dirty bomb.

Judges Motz and Gregory duck these precedents by ruling that al-Marri belongs in a different category, having never taken up arms on a foreign battlefield. He was merely trying to kill us here at home. Al-Marri came to the U.S. on a student visa as part of an al Qaeda "sleeper cell," looking for new opportunities to disrupt the U.S. financial system after September 11. Working for 9/11 honcho Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he posed as a student at Bradley University while plotting. He was arrested for credit card fraud, and as his case worked through the court system, evidence of his al Qaeda affiliation built and he was transferred to a military brig in South Carolina.

There are few defined battlefields in the war on terror. So for new homegrown terrorist recruits, the Fourth Circuit decision is great news: If you join al Qaeda today, and get your training outside a wartime-environment, any violent acts you commit against the U.S. cannot qualify you as an enemy combatant or subject you to the system of military interrogation. You will instead be prosecuted in the U.S. criminal justice system, which would make any al Qaeda operative's day.

A case against a terrorist suspect would require a level of transparency that could compromise intelligence gathering and possibly the nation's security. Through the discovery process, the terrorist "defendant" would be privy to the sources that compromised him--sources that would thereby be made obsolete. And don't forget the domestic criminal rules of evidence. You think a lot of cases are dismissed on "technicalities" now?





This is the reason the Bush Administration decided on a separate legal process for handling terror cases--a process that has been substantially upheld by the courts. While the Supreme Court has put some limits on executive decision-making, it has upheld the President's right to designate "enemy combatants" and upheld the legality of Guantanamo and of military commissions. The next President may decide to close Guantanamo as a global PR gesture, but we doubt he or she will turn al Qaeda over to the civilian courts. And don't expect Hillary Clinton to make it a major campaign plank.
This assumes, to be sure, that this decision is overturned on appeal, either by the entire Fourth Circuit or by the Supreme Court. By the way, under the Military Commissions Act, cases of this nature are supposed to go to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and then on appeal to the Supreme Court. The Fourth Circuit panel's justification for taking the case was tortured enough to underscore that the judges knew better. Let's hope they're overturned and that their ruling becomes an unfortunate historical footnote.

27437  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: June 14, 2007, 07:44:28 AM
Certainly the NYTimes is a suspect source, especially with long-time nemesis Robert Bork, but this certainly sounds pretty bad for RB.
=======================

Bork v. Bork
             
Published: June 14, 2007
NY Times editorial

There are many versions of the cliché that “a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged,” and Robert Bork has just given rise to another. A tort plaintiff, it turns out, is a critic of tort lawsuits who has slipped and fallen at the Yale Club.

Mr. Bork, of course, is the former federal appeals court judge who was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1987 but not confirmed by the Senate. He has long been famous for his lack of sympathy for people who go to court with claims of race or sex discrimination, or other injustices. He has gotten particularly exercised about accident victims driving up the cost of business by filing lawsuits. In an op-ed article, he once complained that “juries dispense lottery-like windfalls,” and compared the civil justice system to “Barbary pirates.”

That was before Mr. Bork spoke at the Yale Club last year, and fell on his way to the dais, injuring his leg and bumping his head. Mr. Bork is not merely suing the club for failing to provide a set of stairs and a handrail between the floor and the dais. He has filed a suit that is so aggressive about the law that, if he had not filed it himself, we suspect he might regard it as, well, piratical.

Mr. Bork puts the actual damages for his apparently non-life-threatening injuries (after his fall, he was reportedly able to go on and deliver his speech) at “in excess of $1,000,000.” He is also claiming punitive damages. And he is demanding that the Yale Club pay his attorney’s fees.

We can imagine what Mr. Bork the legal scholar would ask if he had a chance to question Mr. Bork the plaintiff. If it was “reasonably foreseeable” that without stairs and a handrail, “a guest such as Mr. Bork” would be injured, why did Mr. Bork try to climb up to the dais? Where does personal responsibility enter in? And wouldn’t $1 million-plus punitive damages amount to a “lottery-like windfall”?

Since we believe in the tort system, when properly used, all we would ask is whether Mr. Bork’s unfortunate experience at the Yale Club has led him to re-evaluate any of the harsh things he has said in the past about injured people, much like himself, who simply wanted their day in court.
27438  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt on: June 14, 2007, 01:08:22 AM


Newt Gingrich makes a lot of sense to me on this clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnnMuDG3XlA&mode=user&search=
27439  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Kinda Lost on the Homepage. on: June 14, 2007, 12:47:09 AM
Too late to call tonight, I'll try calling him tomorrow , , ,
27440  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sharia in public schools? on: June 14, 2007, 12:30:52 AM
The quality of the source of the following is unknown.  Read with care.
=================================================



San Diego Arab public school implements shari'a - forms taxpayer funded madrassah

June 12, 2007
Carver Elementary - San Diego Public School Bows To Sharia


June 12, 2007 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - Those having doubts that New York Department of Education's proposed Arabic school - Khalil Gibran International Academy - will inevitably turn into a madrassah should consider how a similar experiment in the San Diego Unified School District is turning out.
In September Carver Elementary school [kindergarten - eighth grade] accepted nearly 100 students from a failed charter school which served a Somali Muslim constituency.
The school population now numbers approximately 400.
Though these kids are now being educated within the wall of Carver, they have not been incorporated into the main student population and operate as a school-within-a-school, segregated elite with special privileges.
The controversy became a matter of public record when a substitute teacher Mary-Frances Stevens made a report to the local school board in which she claimed that Carver's Muslim children were being led in Islamic prayer by a teacher's aide. Steven's, who subbed at the school on March 8 stated that the lesson plan she was given included the allotting of one hour for prayer.
The teacher's allegation of religious indoctrination led to an investigation.
In true multicultural fashion, the school has gone to extreme lengths to accommodate its new students; the curriculum features the teaching of Arabic - the language of the Quran - single gender classes for girls as well as organized prayer...for Muslims only.
A new dhimi class schedule - expressly designed to kow tow to Carver's new students - was instituted. It created an extra 15 minute recess period as part of an hour set aside so that Carver's Muslims can pray en-masse while in class. Additionally, the school cafeteria menu no longer serves pork or other foods which conflict with fundamentalist Muslim diet restrictions [halal].
Even Carver's "winter holiday" celebration has not escaped the wrath of this brand of extreme multiculturalism, ripping the heart out of what was formerly the Christmas holiday by injecting extraneous cultural artifacts; as the San Diego Union Tribune notes:
"The school's winter holiday celebration featuring multicultural performances was a big hit. African-American, American, Muslim and other traditions were celebrated. "Carver has always been sensitive to the different cultures and always looked at the variety of cultures we have as an enrichment, not a problem," teacher Pamela de Meules said." [source "District wants to provide options," by Helen Gao http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/e...12carver.html]

Confronted by an apparent double standard which elevates Muslims over Christian and Jewish students, school principal Kimberlee Kidd attempted to explain, "I think there are so many misconceptions."
The actions taken by Carver's officials have made them agents whereby Sharia [Muslim religious law] has been extended into a region of the public domain where heretofore an ACLU interpretation of church-state separation has prevailed.
On that note, the local ACLU is still "considering" its options in this matter…don't hold your breath.
The unequal treatment on display at Carver is manifest, especially when seen in the light of how requests by Christians who have petitioned to have their prayer needs accommodated are routinely denied by public school officials. It goes without saying that public school cafeteria menus have seldom if ever been modified to accommodate the religious needs of Orthodox Jews who also must not eat pork.
As we have noted in previous articles regarding New York's proposed Khalil Gibran International Academy [The Khalil Gibran School - Government Funded Da'wa, New York Set To Open A "Public" Jihad School, The Khalil Gibran School - Government Funded Da'wa] Islamists across the nation are taking advantage of and in some cases actually working hand in hand with public school administrators whose hostility to American traditionalism is palpable.
This explains the left's embrace of radical Muslims. The latter are intent upon shoving Sharia down the throat of the majority culture and multiculturally bound extreme liberals [which includes many school administrators] are happy to have allies which help them continue the attack on the Judeo-Christian underpinnings of America. http://www.pipelinenews.org/index.cfm?page=sandiego61207%2Ehtm
27441  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tufts on: June 13, 2007, 08:03:02 PM
Factual Statements=Unprotected Harassment!? A Terrifying Precedent at Tufts

by Greg Lukianoff

May 11, 2007
Today, FIRE announced the decision by a disciplinary panel at Tufts to find the conservative student newspaper, The Primary Source, guilty of “harassment” for, among other things, publishing a satirical ad that listed less-than-flattering facts about Islam during Tufts’ Islamic Awareness Week. You can see the ad here, and Eugene Volokh has also published it with excellent commentary over at his blog, but, just to make sure people see the ad for themselves, I have reprinted the full text:



Islam
Arabic Translation: Submission
In the Spirit of Islamic Awareness Week, the SOURCE presents an itinerary to supplement the educational experience.

MONDAY: “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.” – The Koran, Sura 8:12

Author Salman Rushdie needed to go into hiding after Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeni declared a fatwa calling for his death for writing The Satanic Verses, which was declared “blasphemous against Islam.”

TUESDAY: Slavery was an integral part of Islamic culture. Since the 7th century, 14 million African slaves were sold to Muslims compared to 10 or 11 million sold to the entire Western Hemisphere. As recently as 1878, 25,000 slaves were sold annually in Mecca and Medina. (National Review 2002)

The seven nations in the world that punish homosexuality with death all have fundamentalist Muslim governments.

WEDNESDAY: In Saudi Arabia, women make up 5% of the workforce, the smallest percentage of any nation worldwide. They are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle or go outside without proper covering of their body. (Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2001)

Most historians agree that Muhammed’s second wife Aisha was 9 years old when their marriage was consummated.

THURSDAY: “Not equal are those believers who sit and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit. Unto all Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit by a special reward.” – The Koran, Sura 4:95

The Islamist guerrillas in Iraq are not only killing American soldiers fighting for freedom. They are also responsible for the vast majority of civilian casualties.

FRIDAY: Ibn Al-Ghazzali, the famous Islamic theologian, said, “The most satisfying and final word on the matter is that marriage is form of slavery. The woman is man’s slave and her duty therefore is absolute obedience to the husband in all that he asks of her person.”

Mohamed Hadfi, 31, tore out his 23-year-old wife Samira Bari’s eyes in their apartment in the southern French city of Nimes in July 2003 following a heated argument about her refusal to have sex with him. (Herald Sun)


If you are a peaceful Muslim who can explain or justify this astonishingly intolerant and inhuman behavior, we’d really like to hear from you! Please send all letters to tuftsprimarysource@gmail.com.


So does this paint Islam in a nice light? No. Is it one-sided? Yes, but that was kind of the point. The students were responding to what they thought was a one-sided and overly rosy depiction of Islam during Islamic Awareness week. But is it unprotected harassment!? One certainly hopes not, or else “harassment” just became a truly lethal threat to free speech—an “exception” that completely swallows the rule.

This is perhaps the most troubling and far-reaching aspect of this case. The Primary Source published a satirical ad filled with factual assertions and because this angered people it was ruled to be unprotected harassment. If what the complaining students wanted to say was that the TPS facts were wrong, then—while this still would not be harassment—that could have been an interesting debate. But instead, in sadly predictable fashion, the students plowed ahead with a harassment claim that, based on the hearing panel’s decision, appeared not even to raise the issue of whether or not the statements in the ad were true, but turned only on how they made people feel. A panel consisting of both faculty and students found the publication guilty in flagrant abuse of what harassment case law and regulations actually say, and demonstrating total ignorance of the principles of a free society. Even in libel law (one of the oldest exceptions to the rule of free speech is that you can be punished for defaming people) truth is rightfully an absolute defense. Here, the fact that TPS printed verifiable information—with citations—was apparently no defense, nor was the fact that the ad concerned contentious issues of dire global importance. Such an anemic conception of free speech should chill anyone who cares about basic rights and democracy itself.

I doubt that the Tufts disciplinary board thought through the full ramifications of their actions. If a Muslim student had published these same statements in an article calling for reform in Islam, would that be harassment? If Tufts wished to be at all consistent (a dubious bet here), it would be.

Since those students and faculty obviously did not think about the ramifications of this decision, we put it to you, President Bacow: do you think the publication of factual assertions should be a punishable offense if they hurt the wrong people’s feelings, regardless of whether or not they are true? I hope he will think hard on what the U.S. would look like if that was the law of the land. It’s not a country that most of us would recognize or even want to live in. We ask again for President Bacow to live up to the best principles of a liberal university in a free society and overturn this dangerous decision.
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27442  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: June 13, 2007, 07:51:44 PM
Here's a piece from today's WSJ.  I certainly don't agree with some of its points, but worth the reading:
=================

Immigration Plan B
June 13, 2007; Page A18
Last week the Senate immigration bill was smothered in its crib by the same folks who said the status quo was unacceptable. Now the status quo is what they have. Congratulations. Hope they like it.

Our own view is that the current policy, warts and all, is preferable to some vast new enforcement regime that harasses employers for hiring willing workers. This makes no more sense today than when it was first proposed 20 years ago. We don't see the logic or fairness in punishing business owners for failing to detect and oust illegal aliens in their midst, especially when Citizenship and Immigration Services has proven so inept at performing the same task. Employers encounter enough red tape without also being required to double as deputy immigration cops or risk facing federal raids and steep fines.

 
We also had problems with some of the measure's proposed changes to our current legal immigration policies, such as replacing family-based migration with a government-run "point system" for newcomers that smacks of industrial policy. Silicon Valley can do a more efficient job than Uncle Sam when it comes to choosing and maintaining the high-skilled workers it needs to keep U.S. companies competitive.

Supporters are saying the Senate bill can be revived, but the legislation was moving in the wrong direction before last week's Senate vote. One amendment cut in half the size of a guest-worker program that probably wasn't big enough to begin with. Given the hostility on the right and left, and the Democratic Congress's desire to deny President Bush any political victory, the measure is probably too ambitious to survive.

The better approach might be to go with a more modest, stripped-down version that avoids the "amnesty" canard and improves things at the margin. Current laws are too restrictive for some industries, especially high-tech and agriculture. The visa quota for foreign professionals is filled faster every year, the market's way of saying make more visas available.

Regarding agriculture workers, the problem isn't the number of visas available; it's the cumbersome and litigation-prone process that employers and workers must navigate to use them. As John Hancock, a former Labor Department official, once put it, "The current program, with its multiple regulations and related requirements, is too complex for the average grower to comprehend and use without the aid of a good lawyer or experienced agent." The result is more illegal immigration.

A more streamlined bill could address both these concerns and in the process test the bona fides of restrictionists who keep saying they like immigrants, so long as they're here legally. The cap on visas for high-skilled workers could be lifted or removed. Congress might also consider exempting from the cap foreign nationals who receive a master's degree and above from a U.S. school. For agribusinesses, the procedure for a farmworker visa could be simplified by reducing paperwork and expediting the labor certification process.

But the most important thing Congress could do before giving up altogether is put in place a guest-worker program for future immigrants. If we want to reduce illegal entries, let's provide more legal ways for foreigners to enter the country. It's worked before and it could again.

Back in 1942, in response to a shortage of agriculture workers caused by World War II, Congress authorized the Bracero guest-worker program. For the next two decades, Mexican workers were permitted to enter the U.S. on a temporary basis to fill gaps in the labor market. As the nearby chart illustrates, illegal border crossings subsequently plummeted. Between 1953 and 1959 they fell by some 95%. In 1960, mainly in response to complaints from labor unions, the program was scaled back and eventually phased out. But there's no reason Congress can't put in place a Bracero- like program with proper worker protections and receive a similar result.

A guest-worker program for newcomers wouldn't solve the problem of the 12 million illegal aliens already here, but it would help ensure that our illegal population doesn't continue to grow. The lesson of the Bracero program is that if we provide immigrants with a regulated, legal way to enter the country, they'll use it.

Some restrictionists will oppose this, too, because their real goal is a "time out" on all immigration, as the Tom Tancredo Republicans put it. That may sell in some precincts on the right, notably among those who worry that the country is becoming less Anglo-Saxon. But that isn't the majority view among conservatives, much less the country.

27443  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt: Refuse to Bow on: June 13, 2007, 05:41:07 PM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pBvpVDbOKA
27444  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Kinda Lost on the Homepage. on: June 13, 2007, 05:20:28 PM
Lester has a bit of a surfer's sense of time , , , I'd call him back.  I think you will really like the training there.  (y the way, he is well-involved in MMA, first as a long-time judge for King of the Cage, and now as a regular judge at the UFC.)
27445  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Privacy on: June 13, 2007, 09:11:28 AM
All:

The notion of Privacy is under serious attack.   In my opinion, Privacy is a Constitutional right, found in the Ninth Amendment of our Consitution.  This, not the scurrilous attacks upon his person, was the basis of my opposition to the nomination of brilliant legal mind Robert Bork  to the Supreme Court-- he denied the existence of a C'l right to Privacy.

In the name of the inane and insane War on Drugs, the government has intruded into people's lives in ways that once upon a time would have been considered fascistic.

And now the march of technology creates its own demons.

This thread is for the discussion of these matters.   Tis a rare event, but I begin with a NY Times editorial.

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

Editorial
NY Times
Published: June 13, 2007

Internet users are abuzz over Google’s new Street View feature, which displays ground-level photos of urban blocks that in some cases even look through the windows of homes. If that feels like Big Brother, consider the reams of private information that Google collects on its users every day through the search terms they enter on its site.

Privacy International, a London-based group, has just given Google its lowest grade, below Yahoo and Microsoft, for “comprehensive consumer surveillance and entrenched hostility to privacy.”

There are welcome signs that this Wild West era of online privacy invasion could be coming to an end. Data protection chiefs from the 27 countries of the European Union sent Google a letter recently questioning the company’s policy for retaining consumer information. Here at home, the Federal Trade Commission is looking into the antitrust ramifications of Google’s $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick, an online advertising company.

The F.T.C. should also examine the privacy ramifications of the deal. And Congress needs to act on proposals to prevent the warehousing of such personal data.

Google keeps track of the words users type into its popular site, while DoubleClick tracks surfing behavior across different client Web sites. The combination could give Google an unprecedented ability to profile Web users and their preferences. That knowledge means big bucks from companies trying to target their advertisements. But it also means Google could track more sensitive information — like what diseases users have, or what political causes they support.

Google has announced that rather than keeping information indefinitely, it would only keep it for 18 months before making it anonymous. That is a good step, but not enough since it’s not clear what anonymous means. Last year AOL released records of searches by 657,000 unidentified users. Reporters from The Times were able to trace the queries back to “anonymous” users.

Google is the focus of privacy advocates right now, but it is hardly the only concern. Competitors like Yahoo and Microsoft have the same set of incentives. Privacy is too important to leave up to the companies that benefit financially from collecting and retaining data. The F.T.C. should ask tough questions as it considers the DoubleClick acquisition, and Congress and the European Union need to establish clear rules on the collection and storage of personal information by all Internet companies.

27446  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Changes at WSJ on: June 13, 2007, 09:04:34 AM
I find the WSJ, which I have been reading for 30 years now, to be an outstanding newspaper.  Its editorial page maintains an unparalleled level of intelligent and informed discourse.  So I naturally follow the Murdoch offer and related matters with great concern.
===================

Shake-Up in Newsroom of Journal
By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA
Published: June 13, 2007
NY Times
The Wall Street Journal, already roiled by a proposed takeover by Rupert Murdoch, will announce today a major newsroom shake-up, including the reassignment and replacement of several top editors, officials there say.


Times Topics: Dow JonesThe reorganization represents a bid by the managing editor, Marcus E. Brauchli, who took the top job in the newsroom just a month ago, to put his stamp on the upper echelons of one of the nation’s most respected and widely read newspapers. A spokesman for Dow Jones & Company, The Journal’s parent company, declined to comment on any planned changes.

The newsroom announcement will come on the day that the Bancroft family, which owns a controlling interest in Dow Jones, is expected to make a new proposal to Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation on safeguarding The Journal’s editorial independence in the event of a sale. The Bancrofts’ goal is to keep the appointment of The Journal’s top editors out of Mr. Murdoch’s hands.

Under Mr. Brauchli’s reorganization, John Bussey, a deputy managing editor who has been based in Hong Kong, will lose that title, according to Journal officials, who insisted that their names not be used because they were not authorized to discuss the changes. He has been offered a position as a columnist, but has not decided if he will accept it and is continuing to discuss his next assignment.

Those officials said Edward Felsenthal, another deputy managing editor who oversees the “soft” sections like Personal Journal and Pursuits, is also expected to lose his title. His next assignment is not clear.

Both men are in their 40’s and had been considered rising stars.

Daniel Hertzberg, the senior deputy managing editor, will become the top editor of The Journal’s Europe and Asia editions, and will be based in Brussels. Mr. Hertzberg, who is in his early 60’s and has been the second-ranking newsroom editor, was once seen as a leading contender for Mr. Brauchli’s job.

William S. Grueskin, the managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Online, will be promoted to deputy managing editor of the newspaper, with a broad responsibility over news coverage in both the print Journal and on the Web site. He will also oversee the domestic bureaus.

The shake-up continues a period of transition that began last year and has included the retirements of some of Dow Jones’s longtime leaders — including Peter R. Kann, the chairman and chief executive, and Paul Steiger, The Journal’s managing editor — and could culminate in a sale to News Corporation.

The Bancroft family initially rejected Mr. Murdoch’s $5 billion bid, but later agreed to consider a sale. Many family members, who take great pride in The Journal’s editorial quality, disdain the work of News Corporation media outlets like the Fox News Channel and The New York Post, which they see as politically slanted and overly devoted to celebrity gossip and crime.

In a June 4 meeting with Mr. Murdoch and others from News Corporation, Bancroft family members and advisers said that if they agreed to sell, they wanted to set up a control board with exclusive power to hire and fire The Journal’s top editors.

Mr. Murdoch countered that he would accept a control board like the one put in place when he bought The Times of London in 1981. There, the News Corporation chooses the top editor, who must then be approved by a group of independent directors who are not chosen by the company. But that arrangement is widely seen as having failed to keep Mr. Murdoch from shaping The Times’s news pages as he sees fit.

Since a family meeting Monday, the three family members who sit on the Dow Jones board and their advisers have refined their proposal, which they expect to present to News Corporation today. “The question everyone had is how enforceable it’s going to be, in light of what went on in London,” a family member said.

Family members say the plan will call for a family-appointed board, which would name both the managing editor and the editorial page editor, who would have the power to fill all the positions below them.

The family is not yet prepared to say whom it would put on such a board, but family members said yesterday that they were leaning toward current and former Journal employees — including Mr. Steiger, the former managing editor; the publisher, L. Gordon Crovitz; and Paul Gigot, the editorial page editor — rather than outsiders.

Some critics of The London Times arrangement said that one of its weaknesses was that the independent directors had few connections to journalism, giving them less incentive to stand up to Mr. Murdoch.

The Bancrofts have debated having one board or two: one to pick the leader of the newsroom and the other to choose the editorial page editor. Family members and people close to them said yesterday that it was not clear how the matter had been resolved — in keeping with Bancroft practice, they said, the three family members on the board revealed little detail — but they said they believed that a single board would be the choice.

There had also been some discussion within the Bancroft family of proposing to give the control board some power over newsroom budgets, and again, family members said it was not clear to them what would be in the proposal given to Mr. Murdoch. But members and family advisers have argued that the strongest plan is the simplest one, and that in any case, it would be unrealistic to think that News Corporation would agree to give up financial control.

In the newsroom, the changes at the top will be fairly comprehensive. Alan Murray, an assistant managing editor, will move to the Web site with responsibility for video reports and the relationship with CNBC.

Michael W. Miller, the Page 1 editor, will be promoted to deputy managing editor, and will continue overseeing Page 1, and get other coverage, in particular the “business of life” sections. Michael Williams, editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe, will take his place as Page 1 editor of the United States edition. Another deputy managing editor, Alix M. Freedman, will keep her job.
27447  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Nifong facing disbarment on: June 13, 2007, 08:54:07 AM
I am pleasantly surprised to see that the State of NC is going after this abusive POS.   grin
===========================

Ethics Hearing for Duke Prosecutor
 
By DUFF WILSON
Published: June 13, 2007
RALEIGH, N.C., June 12 — Two months after the North Carolina attorney general dismissed sexual assault charges against three former Duke University lacrosse players, the prosecutor who brought the case found himself in a crowded courtroom Tuesday, facing charges that could lead to his own disbarment.

Ethics Complaint (N.C. State Bar v. Nifong)

Dismissal of Charges (N.C. v. Finnerty, et al.)Michael B. Nifong, the Durham district attorney, was portrayed by Katherine Jean, a state attorney prosecuting the ethics case, as a politically motivated, overzealous prosecutor who made false statements to the public, news media, defense lawyers and the court in bringing a case with virtually no credible evidence.

“The harm done to these three young men and their families and the justice system of North Carolina is devastating,” Ms. Jean said.

Mr. Nifong’s lawyer, David B. Freedman, responded that the ethics case was not about the weaknesses of the rape case, but primarily focused on whether Mr. Nifong had asked a laboratory director to hide DNA evidence. Mr. Freedman acknowledged in opening statements that some of Mr. Nifong’s public statements “clearly were outlandish” — for instance, he called the Duke lacrosse team “a bunch of hooligans” — but denied he had said anything knowingly false or politically motivated.

Mr. Nifong, 58, a 29-year career prosecutor who was running for election when the case arose in March 2006, is expected to take the stand this week. He sat expressionless during the opening remarks, often holding his chin and cheek by thumb and forefinger. His wife, teenage son, brother and sister sat behind him.

Two of the three former students’ mothers watched opening arguments, with a group of defense lawyers and other supporters whose insistence of innocence had been upheld in April by the state attorney general, Roy A. Cooper, who called Mr. Nifong a “rogue prosecutor.”

The ethics charges were filed by the North Carolina State Bar, a state agency, asserting that Mr. Nifong hid and lied about DNA evidence and that his pretrial comments inflamed the community and prejudiced the defendants.

While the ethics charges are limited to certain areas, the witness list shows it will be putting the whole case on trial, at least to try to show Mr. Nifong knew some of his public comments were false. For instance, he repeatedly said he was certain a rape had occurred.

Benjamin W. Himan, the Durham detective who was lead investigator on the case, said in testimony for the ethics prosecutors on Tuesday that Mr. Nifong had acknowledged to him that the case was weak and relied on the word of a woman hired to strip at a lacrosse team party.

Mr. Himan said he had responded with disbelief when he learned that after a month of inconclusive investigation, Mr. Nifong planned to indict two students. “With what?” Mr. Himan said he responded. At that point, he said, the police did not even know whether one suspect had been at the lacrosse team party. (It turned out he was there but left before any rape could have possibly happened.)

Mr. Himan also said he was “shocked” and “upset” that an investigator for the district attorney later interviewed the accuser by himself, not inviting him as the police investigator. When he read the results of that interview, Mr. Himan said, “It didn’t make any sense to what she had previously told us.”

Joseph B. Cheshire, a defense lawyer involved with the case, said in an interview later that Mr. Himan’s testimony was “chilling” and showed the potentially unchecked power of the state to destroy peoples’ lives even if the evidence did not exist.

Mr. Freedman, one of two lawyers for Mr. Nifong, said after the hearing that he looked forward to cross-examining Mr. Himan on Wednesday and presenting his side of the case — including testimony from Mr. Nifong — later in the week.

Mr. Nifong declined comment.

A decision on the ethics charges may come by Friday or Saturday and could result in penalties as severe as disbarment.

In coming weeks, Mr. Nifong is also facing two separate reviews by Superior Court judges, one on whether to remove him as district attorney, the other on whether he lied in court describing DNA evidence.

The case was overlaid with charges of racism and class privilege because the stripper was black and poor, inflamed the community and much of the nation.

Victoria Peterson, a black activist from Durham, was ejected from the courtroom and courthouse Tuesday after she accosted one mother during the lunch break and said people still thought her son did something wrong and should have stood trial.
27448  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wonder why Israel does not negotiate with these folks? on: June 13, 2007, 08:44:19 AM
NY Times:

JERUSALEM, June 12 — Gunmen of rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah sharply escalated their fight for supremacy on Tuesday, with Hamas taking over much of the northern Gaza Strip in what is beginning to look increasingly like a civil war.


Hamas fighters in Nusairat, in the Gaza Strip, defended a national security headquarters they had seized from Fatah Tuesday.

Five days of revenge attacks on individuals — including executions, kneecappings and even tossing handcuffed prisoners off tall apartment towers — on Tuesday turned into something larger and more organized: attacks on symbols of power and the deployment of military units. About 25 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 wounded, Palestinian medics said.

In one Hamas attack on a Fatah security headquarters in northern Gaza near Jabaliya Camp, at least 21 Palestinians were reported killed and another 60 wounded, said Moaweya Hassanein of the Palestinian Health Ministry.

After a senior Fatah leader in northern Gaza, Jamal Abu al-Jediyan, was killed Monday, Fatah’s elite Presidential Guards, who are being trained by the United States and its allies, fired rocket-propelled grenades at the house of Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, of Hamas, in the Shati refugee camp near Gaza City.

An hour later, Hamas’s military wing fired four mortar shells at the presidential office compound of Mahmoud Abbas, of Fatah, who is in the West Bank, a Fatah spokesman, Tawfiq Abu Khoussa, said in a telephone interview.

“Hamas is seeking a military coup against the Palestinian Authority,” he said.

Hamas made a similar accusation against Fatah. Hamas, which has an Islamist ideology, demanded that security forces loyal to Fatah, the more nationalist and secular movement, abandon their positions in northern and central Gaza.

Fatah’s leaders said Tuesday night that they would suspend participation in the unity government with Hamas, which began in March, until the fighting ends.

That agreement to govern jointly, negotiated under Saudi auspices, put Fatah ministers into a Hamas-led government in an effort to secure renewed international aid and recognition and to stop what was already serious fighting between the two factions.

But the new government has failed to achieve either goal, and it appeared to many in Gaza that the gunmen were not listening to their political leaders. Mr. Abbas is under increasing pressure to abandon the unity government he championed and to try once again to order new elections, which Hamas has said it will oppose by any means.

The head of the Egyptian mediation team, Lt. Col. Burhan Hamad, said neither side responded to his call on Tuesday to hold truce talks. “It seems they don’t want to come,” said Colonel Hamad, who has brokered several brief cease-fires between the two. “We must make them ashamed of themselves. They have killed all hope. They have killed the future.”

He said neither side had the weaponry required to produce “a decisive victory.”

Talal Okal, a Gazan political scientist, described what could be coming. “Tonight, we may find ourselves at the beginning of a civil war,” he said. “If Abbas decides to move his security forces onto the attack, and not to only defend, we’ll find ourselves in a much wider cycle.”

Fatah forces were ordered Tuesday evening to defend their positions and counter “a coup against the president and against the Palestinian Authority and national unity government.”

The streets of Gazan cities were once again empty of pedestrians and cars. People ventured out to buy food, but only to the next building, and parents kept children out of school.

At Shifa Hospital in Gaza, which Hamas gunmen patrolled, bodies of four Hamas fighters lay on the floor of the emergency room, including Muhammad al-Mqeir, 25. His closest friend called him a martyr, even though he was killed by another Palestinian, from Fatah. “They are not Palestinians, they are lost people,” the friend said of Fatah. Doctors said that the emergency room was overloaded and that the hospital was running short of blood.

After warning Fatah, Hamas attacked a Fatah-affiliated security headquarters in Gaza City, and declared northern Gaza “a closed military zone.”

An estimated 200 Hamas fighters surrounded Fatah security headquarters there, firing mortar shells and grenades at the compound, where some 500 security officers were positioned. The headquarters fell to Hamas. Hamas gunmen also exchanged fire with Fatah forces at the southern security headquarters in the town of Khan Yunis. There, the two sides fought a gun battle near a hospital. Fifteen children attending a kindergarten in the line of fire were rushed into the hospital, which is financed largely by European donations.

Angering Hamas, Fatah militants abducted and killed the nephew of Abdel Aziz Rantisi, the Hamas leader assassinated by Israel in April 2004.
===========
(Page 2 of 2)



Hamas gunmen attacked the home of a Fatah security official with mortars and grenades, killing his 14-year-old son and three women inside, security officials said. Other Fatah gunmen stormed the house of a Hamas lawmaker and burned it down.

Fatah forces also attacked the headquarters, in Gaza, of Hamas’s television station, Al Aksa TV, and began to broadcast Fatah songs, but Hamas said later that it had repelled the attack.

In the West Bank, where Fatah is stronger and the Israeli occupation forces keep Hamas fighters underground, the Fatah Presidential Guards took over the Ramallah offices of Al Aksa TV and confiscated equipment.

Also in the West Bank, Fatah men kidnapped a deputy minister from Hamas, one of the few Hamas cabinet members and legislators not already in Israeli military jails, part of Israel’s effort to keep pressure on Hamas.

Since Monday morning, at least 43 Palestinians have died in the renewed fighting. More than 50 had died in the previous outburst last month that ended in a brief cease-fire mediated by the Egyptians.

A Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, accused Fatah, in alliance with Israel and the United States, of trying to destroy Hamas and overturn the results of elections held in January 2006, in which Hamas won a legislative majority.

“They crossed all the red lines,” he said of Fatah after the second straight day that Prime Minister Haniya’s house was fired upon.

Sami Abu Zuhri, another Hamas spokesman, said: “Those we sit with from Fatah have no control on the ground. These groups have relations with the U.S. administration and Israel.” Hamas says it believes that Mr. Abbas’s aide, Muhammad Dahlan, is controlling the Fatah forces, and Mr. Zuhri said, “It’s an international and regional plan aiming to eliminate Hamas.”

Israeli officials are debating whether Fatah can stand up to Hamas in Gaza. They say they have been asked by Washington recently to approve another shipment of armored vehicles, weapons and ammunition to the Presidential Guards. But a senior Israeli official said Israel was worried that the weaponry would just be seized by Hamas, as much of the last shipment was.

“Hamas now has two million bullets intended for Fatah,” he said.

Israeli officials are explicit privately about their intention to damage Hamas and its military infrastructure in Gaza and try to give Fatah a boost at the same time. Israel, in retaliation for rocket fire into Israel from Gaza, has been bombing the buildings and facilities of Hamas’s Executive Force, a parallel police force in Gaza, that has not been firing rockets. Israeli officials argue, however, that the Executive Force and the Hamas military wing “share a command headquarters.”

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which deals with the 70 percent of Gaza’s 1.5 million people who are refugees or their descendants, said its ability to provide needed aid had been severely hampered by the fighting. Three of its 5 food distribution centers and 7 of its 18 health clinics were forced to close Tuesday, said its Gaza director, John Ging.

“The violence is compounding an already dreadful humanitarian situation,” he said, with 80 percent of the refugee population already dependent on aid.

Mr. Okal, who is now on the board of trustees of the Fatah-affiliated Azhar University in Gaza, said he would oppose Fatah’s pulling out of elected institutions, but added that he was not optimistic about Gaza. “We are heading toward a collapse — of both the political system and society,” he said.


27449  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Men & Women on: June 13, 2007, 08:33:58 AM
From an emailing by Glenn Sachs, who writes on these issues.  Sometimes I find him a bit of a weenie, but I do share with him the notion that men, manliness and fatherhood are under general attack in our culture.
=====================================================

June 12, 2007
 
 
Protest TIME Magazine's Father's Day Hatchet Job on Dads!
TIME magazine's new Father's Day hatchet job on divorced and separated fathers--"Daddy Dearest: What Science Tells Us About Fatherhood"--questions whether fathers "have done a good enough job to deserve the honor" of having a Father's Day. The contents page reads "Behavior: Why some animal fathers are more nurturing dads than many men are."

In the article, which appears in the June 18 issue of TIME magazine, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy and Mary Batten write:

"In the U.S., more than half of divorced fathers lose contact with their kids within a few years. By the end of 10 years, as many as two-thirds of them have drifted out of their children's lives. According to a 1994 study by the Children's Defense Fund, men are more likely to default on a child-support payment (49%) than a used-car payment (3%). Even fathers in intact families spend a lot less time focused on their kids than they think: in the U.S. fathers average less than an hour a day (up from 20 minutes a few decades ago), usually squeezed in after the workday."

The drumbeat continues--dads don't care, dads walk out, dads
 
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are stingy. All of these canards have been debunked many times, but that doesn't stop the mainstream media's attacks on fathers and fatherhood.

To write a Letter to the Editor of TIME magazine, click here.

Let's look at each of these accusations individually:

Criticism #1) "In the U.S., more than half of divorced fathers lose contact with their kids within a few years. By the end of 10 years, as many as two-thirds of them have drifted out of their children's lives."

In other words, dad's a cad who walks out and doesn't look back. The authors' assertions are contradicted by a large body of research.

We're not given a source for this information, but it is likely the highly-influential and highly-publicized study conducted by Frank Furstenburg, Ph.D. and his associates. Furstenburg used a large, representative national sample in his study, and he found that half of the children in his study had not seen their noncustodial parent--usually dad--during the previous year. Furstenburg labeled these men the "disappearing dad."

Arizona State University researcher Sanford Braver, who conducted the largest federally-funded study of divorced dads ever done, points out that there are many problems with Furstenburg's research:

1) Furstenberg's research is based only on custodial mothers' views--the fathers were never asked. I doubt many fathers would feel their angry ex-wives are a particularly accurate source of information about their bonds with their children.

2) Those who cited Furstenburg's research widely presumed it applied only or primarily to divorced dads, as did the TIME magazine article's authors. However, in his study Furstenburg did not distinguish between divorced dads and never married fathers. When Furstenburg's colleague Judith Seltzer later separated the two groups, she found that divorced fathers were more than twice as likely to have retained contact with their children as never-married dads.

3) The survey, which is used to condemn American fathers in June of 2007, was based largely on divorces which occurred in the late 1960s! A tremendous amount has changed in the area of gender roles in the past 40 years.

Braver's study found that--by either parent's account--90% of fathers had contact with their kids in the past year. Of those who lived within 60 miles of each other, there was virtually universal contact.

Moreover, Braver's research found that to the degree that divorced fathers' contact with their children is infrequent, the cause is very often not the fathers' lack of desire, but instead attempts by mothers to push their ex-husbands out of their children's lives.

According to the Children's Rights Council, a Washington-based advocacy group, more than five million American children each year have their access to their noncustodial parents interfered with or blocked by custodial parents. We get no sense of this enormous social problem from the TIME article.

Criticism #2) "According to a 1994 study by the Children's Defense Fund, men are more likely to default on a child-support payment (49%) than a used-car payment (3%)."

Whereas TIME magazine assumes that dads don't pay because they don't care, Braver found in his research that "unemployment is the single most important factor relating to nonpayment." Braver notes that his findings were "consistent with virtually all past studies on the topic" and that it "belies the image that divorced fathers don't pay because they refuse to though they are truly able to pay."

Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement data shows that two-thirds of those behind on child support nationwide earned poverty-level wages; less than four percent of the national child support debt is owed by those earning $40,000 or more a year. According to an Urban Institute study, even among fathers who experience income drops of 15% or more, less than one in 20 are able to get courts to reduce their child support payments. In the interim, arrearages mount, along with interest (10% or more in many states) and penalties. This greatly contributes to child support noncompliance.

The "child support vs. used car" comparison is spurious. For one, divorced fathers don't just pay child support--they sometimes also pay spousal support, and are frequently saddled with stiff and sometimes catastrophic divorce-related legal fees, often including those of their ex-wives. Also, child support alone often comprises a third or even half of a divorced fathers' take-home pay.

In California, for example, a noncustodial father of two earning a modest $3,800 a month in net income pays $1,300 a month in child support--almost $300,000 over 18 years. For the financial burden to be equivalent, the father would have to buy a hell of a lot of used cars. 

One more point--since noncustodial mothers' default rate on child support is higher than that of noncustodial dads, the "child support vs. car payment" statistic which is used to vilify fathers also applies to mothers.

Criticism #3) "Even fathers in intact families spend a lot less time focused on their kids than they think: in the U.S. fathers average less than an hour a day (up from 20 minutes a few decades ago), usually squeezed in after the workday."

We're not given a source for the assertion that "fathers in intact families spend a lot less time focused on their kids than they think," but it may have been taken, to one degree or another, from Susan Faludi's 1991 anti-male bestseller Backlash. In that book she contrasts what men and fathers do around the house with what Faludi says men "think" they do.

And who's to tell them they're wrong, that they don't do much, they only "think" they do?

Their wives, of course.

It never seems to occur to Faludi or Hrdy/Batten that perhaps the fathers' assertions of their roles are accurate, and that it's mothers--who often pride themselves on being #1 with the kids--are disparaging or downplaying fathers' role. It is likely that, to some degree, both fathers and mothers exaggerate their own roles, though we get no sense of that from the TIME magazine article.

The "lazy husband/uncaring father" stereotype is a myth. Census data shows that only 40% of married women with children under 18 work full-time, and over a quarter do not hold a job outside the home. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2004 Time Use Survey, men spend one and a half times as many hours working as women do, and full-time employed men still work significantly more hours than full-time employed women.

When both work outside the home and inside the home are properly considered, it is clear that men do at least as much as women. A 2002 University of Michigan Institute for Social Research survey found that women do 11 more hours of housework a week than men but men work 14 hours a week more than women. According to the BLS, men's total time at leisure, sleeping, doing personal care activities, or socializing is a statistically meaningless 1% higher than women's.

Despite the fact that fathers bear the primary burden of supporting their families, the Families and Work Institute in New York City found that fathers now provide three-fourths as much child care as mothers do. This figure is also 50% higher than 30 years ago.

The "usually squeezed in after the workday" slap is also spurious. Between dads working all day and the kids being in school, it's hard to see when a father would have much time to spend with his kids that isn't "usually squeezed in after the workday." The full TIME Magazine article can be seen here.

Again, to write a Letter to the Editor of TIME magazine, click here.

To discuss this issue on my blog, click here.
 
27450  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 13, 2007, 08:25:30 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Washington and the Musharraf Administration's Future

Great expectations have been attached to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher's visit to Islamabad, which began on Tuesday. Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf is hoping the visit will help him sustain his faltering hold on power. Musharraf's opponents hope the Bush administration will help them eventually force Musharraf from office. The day of Musharraf's departure is imminent; he has simply made too many mistakes and burned too many bridges.

Yet, despite all of his eminent and obvious weaknesses, Musharaff's (many) opponents have not been able to eject him from the scene. This is in part because of an odd belief within Pakistani structures.

Many within the Pakistani political world believe that the player with the most irons in the Pakistani fire is the United States. Understanding that mindset is not particularly difficult. One of the commonalities in Pakistani governments going back to nearly the country's creation is that the United States has ultimately played the role of security supporter, if not outright guarantor. Regardless of whether the opponent was Soviet or Indian, the United States has played a critical role in Pakistani security, leading to the cynical view among many Pakistanis that their governments have been supported by three As: Allah, the army and America. And with the war in Afghanistan almost exclusively supplied via Pakistani supply routes, that does not appear about to change.

Therefore many Pakistani political players -- particularly within the military -- are unwilling to move against Musharraf, no matter how bad things get, without a green light from Washington, for fear they could get burned.

Ultimately, however, such thinking not only misses the point, it is simply wrong. It is Pakistan that holds the balance of power in this relationship, not the United States. And though Islamabad depends on financial and military assistance from Washington, it is Washington that cannot fight the war in Afghanistan without Pakistan, not the other way around. It is the United States that is bogged down in Iraq, not Pakistan.

Strategically, Washington would much rather count India as an ally. It is bigger, richer and the political culture is more similar. Yet the United States is fighting a war that requires troops and materiel to be moved through Pakistan. That means the United States will work with whoever happens to be in Pakistan's big chair, not because Washington wants to, but because it must.

The United States, then, is not allied with Musharraf the person, or the Musharraf government, but with the state of Pakistan -- read: its military. This means should Musharraf suddenly be out of the picture, the United States, after few heartburn-filled meetings, will simply hammer out a new deal with his replacement.

Put another way, the United States does not much care who runs Pakistan as long as there is stability in Islamabad; after all, it currently is supposedly enamored with a man who rose to power via a coup in 1999. And as soon as the various power players in Pakistan recognize that little fact, Musharraf's days truly will be numbered.

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