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27451  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 13, 2007, 06:57:03 AM
stratfor.com

Pakistan: Al Qaeda After the Red Mosque
Summary

The Red Mosque operation in Pakistan has created both a major opportunity and a serious challenge for al Qaeda prime. The standoff, which ended bloodily, has generated a significant degree of resentment among many Pakistanis, something al Qaeda can be expected to exploit. But the post-Red Mosque operation atmosphere also represents a major security threat to al Qaeda's apex leadership -- which is hiding out in northwestern Pakistan -- explaining the remarks from al Qaeda's No. 2 in his latest communique.

Analysis

Deputy al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri's most recent taped message, which addresses the Red Mosque standoff in Pakistan's capital, contains very telling insights about the situation facing the apex leadership of the transnational jihadist organization, despite being issued before Pakistani security forces overran the mosque/madrassa complex. Now that the mosque operation has ended, having whipped up a great degree of anti-government sentiment, al-Zawahiri can be expected to release a follow-up tape to try to exploit the situation. But even in this initial tape, which was made some time after Red Mosque cult leader Maulana Abdul Aziz was arrested while trying to escape from the facility wearing female robes, al-Zawahiri demonstrates an awareness of the threat to al Qaeda that lies ahead.

As far back as June 2005, we identified that al Qaeda's clandestine global headquarters had relocated to the area comprising the districts of Dir, Malakand and Swat in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) following the ouster of the Taliban regime in neighboring Afghanistan. Being based in Pakistan meant al Qaeda could not go too far in staging attacks in country for fear of attracting unwanted attention. It therefore tried to ensure that jihadist activity in the country did not become a security liability for the apex leadership.

Clearly, a great deal of militant activity within Pakistan is not commissioned by al-Zawahiri, but rather is the handiwork of domestic jihadist actors. Despite several attacks against Western and Pakistani government targets since Islamabad joined the U.S. war against jihadism, the government of Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf refrained from engaging in major action against the Islamist militancy. The Red Mosque crisis, however, forced the Pakistanis to change their attitude. Not only did the government decided to engage in an unprecedented assault against a mosque, but in a July 12 address to the nation Musharraf also announced plans to go after militant groups all over the NWFP and the adjacent tribal badlands.

We forecasted this move, predicting it could prove devastating for al Qaeda prime. Al-Zawahiri is well aware of the potential for such an outcome, which explains his remarks urging Pakistanis to focus on jihadist activity in Afghanistan as opposed to the situation in Pakistan -- which, from al Qaeda's point of view, is hopeless. Al-Zawahiri said, "Muslims of Pakistan ... you must now back the mujahideen in Afghanistan with your persons, wealth, opinion and expertise, because the jihad in Afghanistan is the door to salvation for Afghanistan, Pakistan and the rest of the region. Die honorably in the fields of jihad."

The call to focus on Afghanistan makes sense given the strategic and tactical situation al Qaeda faces. Pakistan has thus far provided the leadership sanctuary, but at the cost of significantly diminishing al Qaeda's operational capability. Furthermore, despite the significant radical Islamist presence within Pakistan, the country poses significant structural impediments to al Qaeda's objectives.

What al Qaeda really needs is the anarchy Afghanistan offers, presenting conditions conducive not only to the group's survival but also to a revival of its operational capabilities. Al Qaeda calculates that, given U.S. problems in Iraq and the disarray among NATO member states, the United States eventually will force the West yet again to abandon Afghanistan. The jihadists would then be able to use Afghanistan again for their purposes. The West is not going to leave Afghanistan anytime soon, but al Qaeda prime, which faces only bad options, will pursue the best one.

Although al Qaeda would love to exploit the anti-government sentiments that have arisen among Pakistanis in the wake of the storming of the Red Mosque, the group probably is bracing for what Stratfor has identified as the beginning of a long-term struggle between the Pakistani state and the jihadist Frankenstein it created over an extended period. While the struggle against the jihadists will be a long engagement, the founders of al Qaeda could get caught in the cross-fire between Islamabad and its former proxies in the not-too-distant future.
27452  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: US sliding down the Laffer Curve on: July 13, 2007, 06:35:20 AM
We're Number One, Alas
July 13, 2007; Page A12
Some good news on the tax cutting front: Last week lawmakers approved an 8.9 percentage point reduction in the corporate income tax rate. Too bad the tax cutters are Germans, not Americans.

 
There's a trend here. At least 25 developed nations have adopted Reaganite corporate income tax rate cuts since 2001. The U.S. is conspicuously not one of them. Vietnam has recently announced it is cutting its corporate rate to 25% from 28%. Singapore has approved a corporate tax cut to 18% from 20% to compete with low-tax Hong Kong's rate of 17.5%, and Northern Ireland is making a bid to slash its corporate tax rate to 12.5% to keep pace with the same low rate in the prosperous Republic of Ireland. Even in France, of all places, new President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed reducing the corporate tax rate to 25% from 34.4%.

What do politicians in these countries understand that the U.S. Congress doesn't? Perhaps they've read "International Competitiveness for Dummies." In each of the countries that have cut corporate tax rates this year, the motivation has been the same -- to boost the nation's attractiveness as a location for international investment. Germany's overall rate will fall to 29.8% by 2008 from 38.7%. Remarkably, at the start of this decade Germany's corporate tax rate was 52%.

All of which means that the U.S. now has the unflattering distinction of having the developed world's highest corporate tax rate of 39.3% (35% federal plus a state average of 4.3%), according to the Tax Foundation. While Ronald Reagan led the "wave of corporate income tax rate reduction" in the 1980s, the Tax Foundation says, "the U.S. is lagging behind this time."

Foreign leaders are also learning another lesson: Lower corporate tax rates with fewer loopholes can lead to more, not less, tax revenue from business. The nearby chart shows the Laffer Curve effect from business taxation. Tax receipts tend to fall below their optimum potential when corporate tax rates are so high that they lead to the creation of loopholes and the incentive to move income to countries with a lower tax rate. Ireland is the classic case of a nation on the "correct side" of this curve. It has a 12.5% corporate rate, nearly the lowest in the world, and yet collects 3.6% of GDP in corporate revenues, well above the international average.

The U.S., by contrast, with its near 40% rate has been averaging less than 2.5% of GDP in corporate receipts. Kevin Hassett, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute who has studied the impact of corporate taxes, says the U.S. "appears to be a nation on the wrong side of the Laffer Curve: We could collect more revenues with a lower corporate tax rate."

If only the tax writers in Washington would heed this advice. Congress is moving in the reverse direction, threatening to raise the tax rate on corporate dividends, which is another tax on business income. There's also movement in the Senate to raise taxes on the foreign-source income of U.S. companies. The effect would be to raise the marginal tax rate for companies that base their corporate headquarters abroad.

But one reason those countries chose to move to the Cayman Islands and elsewhere is because of the high U.S. corporate tax rate. The Laffer Curve analysis indicates that these corporate tax increases are likely to raise little if any additional revenue, because companies will have a new incentive to move even more of their operations out of the reach of the IRS.

For all the talk of "tax equity," this is also a recipe for further inequality by driving more capital offshore. Research from Mr. Hassett and others has shown that high corporate tax rates reduce the rate of increase in manufacturing wages (See our editorial, "The Wages of Growth," Dec. 26, 2006.). For that matter, most economists understand that corporations don't ultimately pay any taxes. They merely serve as a collection agent, passing along the cost of those taxes in some combination of lower returns for shareholders, higher prices for customers, or lower compensation for employees. In other words, America's high corporate tax rates are an indirect, but still damaging, tax on average American workers.

One immediate policy remedy would be to cut the 35% U.S. federal corporate tax rate to the industrial nation average of 29%. That's probably too sensible for a Congress gripped by a desire to soak the rich and punish business, but a Democrat who picked up the idea could turn the tax tables on Republicans in 2008. Meantime, as the U.S. fails to act, the rest of the world is looking more attractive all the time.

27453  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 13, 2007, 06:33:22 AM
The Surge Is Working
By OMAR FADHIL
July 13, 2007; Page A13

Baghdad

For nearly three-and-a-half years, the two most dangerous enemies of the American mission in Iraq -- and of the majority of Iraqis who want to build a stable democracy -- had been growing in terms of their capacity to inflict damage. This despite the losses they suffered in battles with Iraqi and American security forces.

Moqtada al-Sadr, on the one hand, grew from a small annoyance as a gang leader in Najaf in April 2003 to become the leader of a monstrous militia that, with the spark al Qaeda provided by bombing the Askari shrine in Samarra, created the sectarian bloodbath we witnessed throughout 2006.

On the other side, al Qaeda's network in Iraq grew from a few dozen infiltrators, supported by disgruntled locals, to an entity that was until recently bragging about establishing Islamic rule on the soil of at least two Iraqi provinces east and west of Baghdad.

And so this country was going through the worst times ever as we moved towards the end of 2006. Iraq was being torn apart by these two terror networks and Iraq was said to be on the verge of "civil war," if it wasn't actually there already.

But the situation looks quite different now.

Last year's crisis made Washington and Baghdad realize that urgent measures needed to be taken to stop the deterioration, and ultimately reverse it. So Washington decided to send in thousands of additional troops. And Baghdad agreed to move its lazy bones and mobilize more Iraqi troops to the capital and coordinate a joint crackdown with the American forces on all outlaw groups, Sunni and Shiite alike.

The big question these days is, did it actually work? Even partially?

First I think we need to remember that states and their traditional armies need to be judged by different metrics than gangs and terror organizations. The latter don't need to win the majority of their battles with American and Iraqi forces. The strength of terrorists and militias is simply their ability to subjugate the civilian populace with fear.

Here is exactly where the American surge and Iraqi plan have proven effective in Baghdad.

The combined use of security walls, the heavy security-force presence in the streets, and an overwhelming number of checkpoints have highly restricted the movement of terrorists and militias inside Baghdad and led to separation. Not a separation of ordinary Sunnis from ordinary Shiites but a separation of both Sunni and Shiite terrorists from their respective priority targets, i.e., civilians of the other sect.

With their movement restricted and their ability to perform operations reduced, they had to look for other targets that are easier to reach. After all, when the goal is to defeat America in Iraq and undermine the democratic political process any target is a good target.

Just look at the difference between the aftermath of the first Samarra bombing in February of 2006 and that of the second bombing in June of 2007. Days after the 2006 bombing more than a hundred Sunni mosques were hit in retaliatory attacks, and thousands of Sunnis were executed by militias in the months that followed. This time only four or five mosques were attacked, none of them in Baghdad proper that I know of.

Sadr's militias have moved the main battlefield south to cities like Samawah, Nasiriyah and Diwaniyah where there's no American surge of troops, and from which many Iraqi troops were recalled to serve in Baghdad. But over there, too, the Iraqi security forces and local administrations did not show the weakness that Sadr was hoping to see. As a result, Sadr's representatives have been forced to accept "truces."

I know this may make things sound as if Sadr has the upper hand, that he can force a truce on the state. But the fact that is missing from news reports is that, with each new eruption of clashes, Sadr's position becomes weaker as tribes and local administrations join forces to confront his outlaw militias.

Al Qaeda hasn't been any luckier than Sadr, and the tide began to turn even before the surge was announced. The change came from the most unlikely city and unlikely people, Ramadi and its Sunni tribes.

In Baghdad the results have been just as spectacular so far. The district where al Qaeda claimed to have established its Islamic emirate is exactly where al Qaeda is losing big now, and at the hands of its former allies who have turned on al Qaeda and are slowly reaching out to the government.

While al Qaeda and Sadr are by no means finished off militarily, what has changed is that both of them are fighting their former public base of support. That course can't lead them to success in fomenting the sectarian war they had bet their money on.

It would be unrealistic to expect political progress to take place along the same timeline as this military progress. The obvious reason is that Iraqi politics tend to be affected by developments on the battlefield. Anyone familiar with the basics of negotiations should understand this.

First things first. Let's allow our troops to finish their job. And when that is done nation-building will follow, and that's where diplomats and politicians will have to do the fighting in their own way while American soldiers can finally enjoy a well-deserved rest.

Backing off now is not an option. The light at the end of the tunnel faded for a whole dark year, but we can see it again now and it's getting brighter. It's our duty to keep walking towards it.

Mr. Fadhil co-writes a blog, IraqTheModel.com, from Baghdad.
WSJ
27454  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / In Poland, a Jewish revival on: July 13, 2007, 05:59:34 AM
NY Times

By CRAIG S. SMITH
Published: July 12, 2007
KRAKOW, Poland — There is a curious thing happening in this old country, scarred by Nazi death camps, raked by pogroms and blanketed by numbing Soviet sterility: Jewish culture is beginning to flourish again.

“Jewish style” restaurants are serving up platters of pirogis, klezmer bands are playing plaintive Oriental melodies, derelict synagogues are gradually being restored. Every June, a festival of Jewish culture here draws thousands of people to sing Jewish songs and dance Jewish dances. The only thing missing, really, are Jews.

“It’s a way to pay homage to the people who lived here, who contributed so much to Polish culture,” said Janusz Makuch, founder and director of the annual festival and himself the son of a Catholic family.

Jewish communities are gradually reawakening across Eastern Europe as Jewish schools introduce a new generation to rituals and beliefs suppressed by the Nazis and then by Communism. At summer camps, thousands of Jewish teenagers from across the former Soviet bloc gather for crash courses in Jewish culture, celebrating Passover, Hanukkah and Purim — all in July.

Even in Poland, there are now two Jewish schools, synagogues in several major cities and at least four rabbis.

But with relatively few Jews, Jewish culture in Poland is being embraced and promoted by the young and the fashionable.

Before Hitler’s horror, Poland had the largest Jewish population in Europe, about 3.5 million souls. One in 10 Poles was Jewish.

More than three million Polish Jews died in the Holocaust. Postwar pogroms and a 1968 anti-Jewish purge forced out most of those who survived.

Probably about 70 percent of the world’s European Jews, or Ashkenazi, can trace their ancestry to Poland — thanks to a 14th-century king, Casimir III, the Great, who drew Jewish settlers from across Europe with his vow to protect them as “people of the king.” But there are only 10,000 self-described Jews living today in this country of 39 million.

More than the people disappeared. The food, the music, the dance, the literature, the theater, the painting, the architecture — in short, the culture — of Jewish life in Poland disappeared, too. Poland’s cultural fabric lost some of its richest hues.

“Imagine what it would mean for the culture of New York if all Spanish-speaking New Yorkers disappeared,” said Ann Kirschner, whose book, “Sala’s Gift,” recounts her mother’s survival through five years in Nazi labor camps.

Sometime in the 1970s, as a generation born under Communism came of age, people began to look back with longing to the days when Poland was less gray, less monocultural. They found inspiration in the period between the world wars, which was the Poland of the Jews.

“You cannot have genocide and then have people live as if everything is normal,” said Konstanty Gebert, founder of a Polish-Jewish monthly, Midrasz. “It’s like when you lose a limb. Poland is suffering from Jewish phantom pain.”

Interest in Jewish culture became an identifying factor for people unhappy with the status quo and looking for ways to rebel, whether against the government or their parents. “The word ‘Jew’ still cuts conversation at the dinner table,” Mr. Gebert said. “People freeze.”

The revival of Jewish culture is, in its way, a progressive counterpoint to a conservative nationalist strain in Polish politics that still espouses anti-Semitic views. Some people see it as a generation’s effort to rise above the country’s dark past in order to convincingly condemn it.

“We’re trying to give muscle to our moral right to judge history,” said Mr. Makuch, the festival organizer.

Mr. Makuch was 14 when an elderly man in his hometown, Pulawy, told him that before the war half of the town was Jewish. “It was the first time I had ever heard the word ‘Jew,’ ” Mr. Makuch recalled.

He became a self-described meshugeneh, Yiddish for “crazy person,” fascinated with all things Jewish. When he moved to Krakow to study, he spent his free time with the city’s dwindling Jewish community. There were about 300 Jews, compared with a prewar population of about 70,000. There are even fewer today.

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

Page 2 of 2)



While few Jews have returned to the city, Jewish culture has, largely because of Mr. Makuch. In 1988, together with Krzysztof Gierat, he organized the city’s first Festival of Jewish Culture, a one-day affair in a theater that held only 100 people. In 1994, it became an annual event. There are now smaller festivals in Warsaw, Wroclaw and Tarnow.

In Poland, a Jewish Revival Thrives — Minus Jews The Krakow festival has helped revitalize the city’s old Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, which deteriorated after the end of the war.

Today, quaint carved wooden figurines of orthodox Jews and miniature brass menorahs are sold in the district’s curio shops and souvenir stands. Klezmer bands play in its restaurants, though few of the musicians are Jewish.

Along one short street, faux 1930s Jewish merchant signs hang above the storefronts in an attempt to recreate the feel of the neighborhood before the war. Many Jews are offended by the commercialization of their culture in a country almost universally associated with its near annihilation. Others argue that there is something deeper taking place in Poland as the country heals from the double wounds of Nazi and Communist domination.

“There is commercialism, but that is foam on the surface,” Mr. Gebert said. “This is one of the deepest ethical transformations that our country is undergoing. This is Poland rediscovering its Jewish soul.”

This year, the festival had almost 200 events, including concerts and lectures and workshops in everything from Hebrew calligraphy to cooking. More than 20,000 people attended, few of whom were Jewish.

At a drumming workshop in Jozef Dietl primary school, Shlomo Bar, from Israel, led an elderly woman, a young boy in a Pokémon T-shirt and shorts, a young man in dreadlocks and two dozen other, mostly non-Jewish participants in a class on Sephardic rhythms.

Outside, Witek Ngo The, born in Krakow to Vietnamese immigrants, worked as a festival volunteer, directing visitors to other workshops in nearby schools.

In one, Benzion Miller, wearing a black yarmulke, white T-shirt, black suspenders and pants, taught 40 people Hasidic songs, a wood-and-silver crucifix high on the wall behind him.

Half of the festival’s $800,000 budget comes from the national and local governments. The rest is contributed by private donors, primarily from the United States, including the Philadelphia-based Friends of the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival.

Tad Taube, a businessman whose Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture is one of the festival’s biggest donors, was born in Krakow and left shortly before the war.

Together with other donors, Mr. Taube’s foundation has spent more than $10 million to help revive Jewish culture in Poland. He attended the recent groundbreaking for a Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, another effort he has supported.

Like many people involved in the resurgence of Jewish culture in Poland, Mr. Taube said he believed that it was not only important for Poland, but for Jews around the world.

Chris Schwarz, founder and director of Krakow’s Galicia Jewish Museum, agreed, saying, “Rather than coming here just to mourn, we should come with a great sense of dignity, a great sense of pride for what our ancestors accomplished.”

For others, the celebration of Jewish culture in a city just an hour away from Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp where a million Jews died, is a triumph of history.

“The fact that you can walk around Krakow with a lanyard around your neck that reads ‘Jewish Culture Festival’ is an extraordinary thing,” Ms. Kirschner said.


27455  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: July 12, 2007, 08:50:28 PM
Second post of the day

http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblog..._in_the_no.asp

Iraq Report: Al Qaeda in the Northern Villages

As Operations Phantom Thunder pushes forward in Baghdad and the Belts, U.S. and Iraqi forces attacked and killed an al Qaeda team attempting to take control of a rural Kurdish village in Diyala. Meanwhile, with critics claiming the U.S. is too al Qaeda focused in its operations, Iraqi and U.S. forces put a significant dent in the Mahdi Army over the past several days.
Diyala
As Operations Arrowhead Ripper proceeds in the provincial capital of Baqubah and the surrounding areas, al Qaeda in Iraq has been pushed into the farmlands north of the city. Last weekend, al Qaeda struck with suicide attacks at Kurdish cities along the Iranian border, and in a Kurdish village in neighboring Salahadin province, with devastating effects. Almost 200 civilians were killed and hundreds more wounded.
Al Qaeda is pushing into villages where it did not have a presence in the recent past. Yesterday, reports of an al Qaeda assault on the small Shiite village of Sherween slashed across the wires. The AP reported that when al Qaeda in Iraq moved on Sherween, there were no security forces present to stop them. Residents of the town fought back; "25 militants and 18 residents were killed and 40 people wounded in the fighting," a resident of a neighboring town reported. He also stated that al Qaeda was winning.
While the AP report lamented the failure of the Iraqi and U.S. security forces to respond, a joint U.S. and Iraqi task force was quickly assembled and moved in on Sherween early today. "The operation began early Tuesday morning with close air support engaging three river crossings and one bridge with eight 2,000-pound bombs and 14 500-pound bombs. The locations are used by al-Qaida to conduct their attacks and were engaged to prevent their escape," Multinational Forces Iraq reported. "The people of Sherween played a vital role in this operation as they fought side-by-side [with] the ISF to help them capture and kill known terrorists." The attack resulted in "20 al-Qaida terrorists killed, 20 detained, and two weapons caches and 12 improvised explosive devices discovered."
Also north of Baqubah, U.S. and Iraqi security forces found an al Qaeda safe house, which contained a possible torture room. "Inside, the patrol found medical supplies, medical equipment and al-Qaida related propaganda," Multinational Forces Iraq reported. "Also inside the building was a room with indicators that it had been used as a place of torture, such as blood on the walls and blacked out windows."
As U.S. and Iraq forces move forward with securing Baqubah and the outlying regions, the attacks such at those in Sherween are expected to increase. Al Qaeda is working the seams in Diyala, and the rural farmlands and the Hamrin mountain chain are ideal locations for al Qaeda and allied insurgent groups to fall back upon.



Northern Babil
Operations Marne Torch in the Arab Jabour region and Commando Eagle in the Mahmudiyah region continue largely under the radar. A tip from an Iraqi led to the capture of south Baghdad’s most wanted terrorist, along with seven of his associates. The captured man led an al Qaeda terror and intimidation network and was responsible "for shooting down an AH-64 helicopter in April 2006, the abductions of two Soldiers in June 2006, and complex attacks on patrol bases and terrorist acts against both Coalition Forces and Iraqi civilians."
In Arab Jabour, 13 insurgents were detained and several weapons caches were found. In Jisr Diyala, three insurgents were killed after attacking U.S. forces who were attempting to provide medical assistance to Iraqi citizens.
Baghdad
The Green Zone, or International Zone, came under a relatively heavy mortar attack on Tuesday. Upwards of 20 mortars hit inside the Green zone, killing three and wounding 18. Mortars have been launched from inside Sadr City by "rogue" elements of the Mahdi Army. While attacks on the Green Zone have been relatively ineffective militarily, they provide for breathless news reporting.
U.S. forces continue to establish a presence inside Baghdad's worst neighborhood. The Army built a combat outpost in the Ameriya neighborhood in western Baghdad. Ameriya has been the scene of a local uprising against al Qaeda in Iraq by residents and Sunni insurgent groups. Clearing operations in the Rashid district resulted in the discovery of two small caches containing mortars and rockets.
The North
Al Qaeda and allied insurgent groups are pressing hard in Salahadin and Ninewa province as operations are underway in Baghdad, the Belts and Diyala. The mayor of Samarra was reported to have been assassinated in his home on Tuesday, according to Voices of Iraq. He took office in May and was tasked with working to rebuild the al Askaria mosque, which was destroyed by al Qaeda in 2006 and attacked again this June. Iraqi police captured a cell leader of a mortar and sniper network in the city on July 9. In Mosul, the Iraqi Army found a roadside bomb factory that produced IEDs made to look like sections of curb.
Al Qaeda
Coalition and Iraqi commandos continue to strike at al Qaeda's command network and senior operatives nationwide. In Tuesday's raids, 17 operatives were captured in Mosul, Baghdad, Taji, and northern Babil province. Wednesday's raids resulted in two al Qaeda operatives killed and 20 captured in Mosul, Baghdad, Samarra, and Taji.
Mahdi Army and the Iranian Special Groups
While some commentators are claiming military leaders are only focused on the al Qaeda threat at the exclusion of all other insurgent groups, U.S. and Iraqi security forces continue to devote resources towards dismantling the Mahdi Army and the Iranian-backed "Special Groups."
On July 9, U.S. forces killed eight members of a "criminal militia" inside Sadr City. Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured "twelve insurgents linked to a rogue Jaysh al-Mahdi militia [Mahdi Army]" during two operations in Baghdad on July 8. One of the Mahdi cells was responsible for conducting explosively formed penetrator attacks on U.S. forces. Today, Coalition forces captured a "Secret Cell terrorist ... affiliated with the Jaysh al-Mahdi affiliated Special Groups." Multinational Forces Iraq has been increasingly linking the Mahdi Army and the Iranian Special Groups in its press releases.
27456  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: July 12, 2007, 04:03:57 PM

Greetings from Baqubah,
 
Another quiet day has unfolded here.  Tonight, Thursday 12 June, I will do a live radio interview with Hugh Hewitt at 7PM EST.
Also, a new dispatch is published: Al Qaeda on the Run
http://www.michaelyon-online.com/wp/al-qaeda-on-the-run-feasting-on-the-moveable-beast.htm
 
Very Respectfully,
Michael
27457  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: July 12, 2007, 03:22:46 PM
www.stratfor.com

BAHRAIN/IRAN: Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmad al-Khalifa summoned Iran's charge d'affaires to answer questions about Tehran's official position on an editorial written by Hussain Shariatmadari, managing editor of Iranian daily newspaper Kayhan, in which Shariatmadari calls Bahrain an Iranian province, The Media Line reported. Shariatmadari, who is also an adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, wrote that Bahrain was separated from Iran under an illegal agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom and the Shah of Iran.
27458  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Care Economics on: July 12, 2007, 08:40:16 AM
Do-It-Yourself Tort Reform
By JEFFREY SEGAL and MICHAEL SACOPULOS
July 12, 2007; Page A15
WSJ

What do you call a surgeon who wears a suit? A defendant. It's an old joke, but at any given moment in the U.S., approximately 60,000 medical malpractice suits are being tried, many involving multiple physician-defendants. That's roughly 10% of the physician population. And once a physician experiences the legal system, it can scar him permanently.

It's not hard to see why. Though the medical tort system is designed to deter unsafe practices and to make negligently injured patients whole, it does neither. Nor does it prevent a high frequency of frivolous lawsuits.

In response, doctors and medical associations have sought relief from lawsuits for years by trying to get tort reform passed at the state and federal levels. Such reforms have solved some problems, but often at the expense of exacerbating others.

For example, while some states have enacted reforms which limit certain types of damages to plaintiffs, this has done little to stem the tide of frivolous law suits. In California -- the tort reform poster child -- an obstetrician will pay $30,000 to $50,000 annually in liability premiums, as compared to the $170,000 obstetricians might pay in certain areas of New York. Yet doctors are actually sued more often in California than in other states, in part because tort lawyers have sought to compensate for decreased payments by pursuing a greater number of claims.

Another tort reform "success story" is Louisiana. The state's dominant malpractice insurer recently reported it spent more money on defending claims than on settlements and judgments. Why? Because Louisiana mandates the use of a screening panel before a lawsuit is filed. Annually, for every three physicians, one claim is made to the panel (a claim frequency that is among the highest in the country). The winner, usually the physician, is forced to pay the cost of the panel. So, the winner does not really win. He just loses less.

In 2002, we launched Medical Justice, a membership-based organization designed to complement tort reform and to head off frivolous lawsuits. Medical Justice pays the bills and provides the services to file countersuits against all proponents of meritless lawsuits.

Our service has two principal components. First, we look at the quality of so-called expert-witness testimony. Behind every frivolous lawsuit there is an "expert" -- usually a physician skilled in testifying before juries and often compensated to the tune of $10,000 dollars a day. Put bluntly, many of these "experts" are frauds, as this newspaper has repeatedly shown in cases regarding asbestosis and silicosis claims.

In a recent case we dealt with, an expert witness detailed how a urologist had botched a vasectomy, even though routine postoperative sperm counts were, as expected, zero. Nonetheless, the patient's wife became pregnant.

A lawsuit gathered momentum based on an expert supporting the least likely hypothesis: surgical error. To almost no one's surprise, a paternity test performed many months later solved this elementary mystery, and the case was dropped. But the urologist took little comfort in being exonerated. Too little. Too Late.

Medical Justice deals with the problem of frivolous or dishonest expert witness testimony by relying on the 2001 case, Austin v. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. There, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the right of medical specialty societies to police their own members. Many of these societies have panels to review the quality of med-mal testimony. If an expert's testimony is contrary to what a majority or respectable minority in the field would state, that record may translate into an ethical violation, potentially leading to discipline or even expulsion. Such discipline diminishes an expert's credibility in future cases.

Medical Justice's second tool is a patient-physician contract. That contract states that in a legitimate dispute, both sides will utilize only those experts who belong to such societies and who strictly follow their code of ethics. This limits the list to reputable and accountable physician experts, thus precluding the use of hired guns or medical "witnesses having other rational explanations" -- better known by their acronym.

By using contract law to define and enforce reasonable rules, the courtroom becomes less dramatic and more truthful. Virtually all of our patients have been comfortable signing this contract and participating in this process.

Does it work? Yes. After five years of collecting data, we know that Medical Justice plan members are sued at a rate of under just 2% a year. The average doctor is sued at a rate of 8%-12% per year. And the company is top heavy with physicians in "high-risk" specialties.

Further, when meritless cases are filed against plan members, generally they're dropped quickly. In Ohio for example, most "intent to sue" letters historically evolved into lawsuits. When a Medical Justice plan member receives an "intent to sue" letter, the plaintiff's attorney is notified that the defendant has the will and the funds to countersue. The result is that only 20% of the letters mature into bona fide lawsuits.

Finally, the system works because we back our words with deeds by taking action against proponents of frivolous suits. In a sense, Medical Justice has created a contract-based "loser-pays" paradigm. We have helped over a thousand physicians who are tired of being victimized by a system that doesn't prevent collateral damage.

None of this is to say that we don't have a real and sizable problem in this country with patients who are negligently injured, or who die on account of preventable medical errors in the course of their medical treatment. But we can't begin to adequately address the problem of patient safety until we clear the dockets and cut the costs which are wasted on meritless claims and the much larger derivative costs of defensive medicine.

Our legislators have tried and been unable to solve these larger problems. Micromanaging tort reform has proven to be little more than a game of legal whack-a-mole. It's time we give private initiatives a chance to work.

Dr. Segal, a neurosurgeon, is the founder and CEO of Medical Justice Services. Mr. Sacopulos is its general counsel.

27459  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Training to much? on: July 11, 2007, 11:55:12 PM
I have read that OJ is very high glycemic and that we are better off eating oranges to slow down the absorbtion rate.
27460  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Some Jun07 Gathering Pics on: July 11, 2007, 09:37:16 PM
For those who haven't noticed, on the front page we now have a flash program with quite a few pictures  cool
27461  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Training to much? on: July 11, 2007, 09:36:27 PM
Excellent point!

I would add the importace of getting one's minerals, including trace minerals, which often become depleted with heavy sweating.
27462  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Care Economics on: July 11, 2007, 06:54:54 PM
TRIPping Up Property Rights
By ALEC VAN GELDER and PHILIP STEVENS
July 11, 2007
WSJ

After years of campaigning, activists have narrowed the debate about health care in poor countries to a single premise: Patents drive up the cost of medicines, so patents are bad. Today this fallacy will gain a degree of institutional legitimacy as the European Parliament debates ways to undermine global intellectual property rules.

A handful of MEPs propose that the EU encourage governments in poor countries to issue "compulsory licenses" for patented medicines, revoking the patents and attendant rights -- such as collecting royalties -- that had been granted to a drug maker. The lawmakers also want the EU to exclude intellectual property rights (IPR) clauses from any future trade agreements signed with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. Such a move would not only harm European pharmaceutical firms, but distract attention from the real causes of ill health in poor countries.

Thailand got this ball rolling. The interim military government there recently issued a number of compulsory licenses, citing flexibilities in the World Trade Organization's Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement, or TRIPS. The junta claimed that the prices of these drugs made it impossible to provide universal access to medicines for the Thai people.

The political brouhaha that followed took all eyes off the thing that mattered most: the state of the Thai health-care system, which was suffering from hospital closures and staffing shortages. Without hospitals and doctors, cheap drugs will do little good.

The problem with the Thai health system isn't money; vast amounts of aid are already on offer. The problem is bad governance and corruption. For example, the Global Fund awarded Thailand $133 million to manufacture its locally produced HIV/AIDS therapy, called GPO-VIR. Four years later, the money was withdrawn because the state drug maker failed to meet international standards.

Others have trodden this road. From 1972 India weakened its IP laws in hopes of driving down medicine prices. It certainly made some drugs less expensive, but it hasn't made Indians any healthier. Access to even basic medicines in India remains unacceptably low. Children go without routine vaccinations. Simple generic anti-infectives are out of reach of the majority of the rural poor.

This goes right to the heart of the medicine-access debate for Africa, too. In 2006, the director of the World Health Organization's HIV Division, Kevin De Cock, said "it is very obvious that the elephant in the room is not the current price of drugs. The real obstacle is the fragility of the health systems. You have health infrastructure that is dilapidated, and supply chains that don't exist."

If African health-care systems are to improve in a sustainable way, it is vital for their economies to grow. Today's European Parliament debate falls short here as well. MEPs are being urged not only to scrap IPR commitments from trade agreements with poor countries but, in some cases, to scrap free-trade agreements altogether.

That would be counterproductive in two obvious ways. First, tearing up these deals would undermine one of the best chances for economic growth these regions have. Second, IPR are a crucial guarantee that patients in poor countries will get high-quality, effective medicines. Many generic-drug manufacturers in countries with weak IP rights -- particularly India -- are reluctant to invest the money needed to bring their factories to international standards. Drugs that do not meet these stringent standards are likely to encourage mutated, drug-resistant strains of disease, which is particularly damaging for malaria or HIV/AIDS patients.

Emasculating TRIPS might allow the MEPs to stick it to Big Pharma, but it takes energy away from the things that really matter: infrastructure, doctors, nurses. Unless poor nations get these, we will still be having this debate in four decades' time.

Mr. van Gelder is network director, and Mr. Stevens health program director, at International Policy Network.
27463  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: July 11, 2007, 06:49:03 PM
What Iranians Really Think
By KEN BALLEN
July 11, 2007; Page A14
WSJ

Keen observers of Iran have insisted for years that the Iranian people are pro-Western, indeed pro-American, while opposed to the largely unelected clerical regime that rules them. For the first time, Terror Free Tomorrow's unprecedented nationwide poll of Iran offers indisputable empirical proof that these commentators are dead-on in their assessment of the "Iranian street."

Discontent with the current system of government, the economy and isolation from the West is widespread throughout Iran. In this context, nuclear weapons are the lowest priority for the Iranian people. The overwhelming popular will to live in a country open to the West and the U.S., with greater economic opportunity, is a powerful plea from every region and segment of society. Iranians also speak with one voice in rejecting the current autocratic rule of their supreme leader and in courageously asking for democracy instead.

 
Iranian students: A new survey shows their fellow citizens want democracy too.
These are among the significant findings of the first uncensored public opinion survey of Iran since President Ahmadinejad took office. The survey was conducted in Farsi by telephone from June 5 to June 18, 2007, with 1,000 interviews covering all 30 provinces of Iran (and a margin of error of 3.1%). The last poll to ask similar controversial questions was conducted in September 2003 by Abbas Abdi inside Iran. He was imprisoned as a result.

Developing nuclear weapons was seen as a very important priority by only 29% of Iranians. By contrast, 88% of Iranians considered improving the Iranian economy a very important priority. 80% of Iranians favor Iran offering full international nuclear inspections and a guarantee not to develop or possess nuclear weapons in return for outside aid.

Moreover, close to 70% of Iranians also favor normal relations and trade with the U.S. Indeed, in exchange for normal relations, a majority of Iranians even favor recognizing Israel and Palestine as independent states, ending Iranian support for any armed groups inside Iraq, and giving full transparency by Iran to the U.S. to ensure there are no Iranian endeavors to develop nuclear weapons.

Yet the most significant finding of our survey for the future of Iran's present rulers is the opposition to their current system of government. Some 61% of Iranians were willing to tell our pollsters -- over the phone no less -- that they oppose the current Iranian system of government, in which the supreme leader rules according to religious principles and cannot be chosen or replaced by direct vote of the people. More telling, over 79% of Iranians support a democratic system instead, in which the supreme leader, along with all leaders, can be chosen and replaced by a free and direct vote of the people. Only 11% of Iranians said they would strongly oppose having a political system in which all of their leaders, including the supreme leader, are chosen by popular election.

Iranians across all demographic groups oppose the unelected rule of the supreme leader in favor of electing all their leaders. While these views run stronger in Tehran, they are also held across all provinces of Iran, and in both urban and rural areas.

Terror Free Tomorrow's path-breaking survey of Iran demonstrates that the Iranian people are the best ally of the U.S. and the West against the government in Tehran. The considerable challenge is how to support the Iranian people while also achieving important U.S. goals, such as preventing the Iranian government from developing a nuclear arsenal.

There are no easy answers. The U.S., with France, Germany, Britain and the international community, however, should not spurn the clear will of Iranians. The implicit bet Iranians seem to want the world to make is to engage Iran now, and place the burden squarely on Iran's rulers to reject an offer that would clearly improve the life of the Iranian people themselves.

This does not mean that the U.S., Europe and the international community should abandon current sanctions or indeed fail to strengthen future sanctions against the regime. Yet since military options for responding to Iran entail even greater unknowable risks, and sanctions alone so far have proved inadequate, a strategy that also recognizes the consensus of the people of Iran themselves may realistically offer the best hope for all.

Mr. Ballen is president of Terror Free Tomorrow.

27464  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: July 11, 2007, 06:44:29 PM
http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/07/al-qaeda-cell-i.html
Al Qaeda Cell in the U.S. Or On Its Way, According to New Intel
 Share July 10, 2007 6:30 PM

Brian Ross Reports:

 Senior U.S. intelligence officials tell ABC News new intelligence suggests
a small al Qaeda cell is on its way to the United States, or may already be
here.

The White House has convened an urgent multi-agency meeting for Thursday
afternoon to deal with the new threat.

THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS
  a.. Blotter Secret Document: U.S. Fears Terror 'Spectacular' Planned
  b.. Blotter Al Qaeda No. 2 Makes More Threats Against the U.K.
  c.. Click Here to Check Out Brian Ross Investigative Photos
Top intelligence and law enforcement officials have been told to assemble in
the Situation Room to report on:

--what steps can be taken to minimize or counter the threat,

--and what steps are being taken to harden security for government buildings
and personnel.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the Chicago Tribune
editorial board on Tuesday he had "a gut feeling" that an attack was coming.

"We do worry about whether they are rebuilding their capabilities," Chertoff
said. "We strike at them; we degrade them; but they rebuild."

"It suggests they have information that the cell or cells coming this
direction want to attack a government facility," Brad Garrett, a former FBI
agent and ABC News consultant, said.

Law enforcement officials say the recent failed attacks in London have
provided important new clues about possible tactics.

Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage.

And officials say the London attackers' use of the Internet left important
clues that are being used to decode other e-mails that had initially been
deemed unimportant but are now taking on new significance.

A senior administration official said the level of concern of a new terror
attack is now higher than it has been in some time, and the meeting this
week in the situation room is one of a number that have been convened in
light of the new intelligence and what happened in London.

_______________________________________

"World News" closer between Charles Gibson and Brian Ross:

Charles Gibson: The obvious question, Brian, is how hard and how specific is
the intelligence?

Brian Ross: Not hard, but good. It's being taken very seriously, in
connection with increased chatter, e-mail traffic back and forth, the
attacks in London, and a general concern, as Secretary Chertoff said today,
that summer seems to be a time that al Qaeda likes to attack.

Charles Gibson: And there's been a bunch of tapes that have been coming from
al Qaeda lately.

Brian Ross: In fact, Zawahri put out his eighth tape today and says he had
easy access to the Internet, and he threatened new attacks against London.

Charles Gibson: Once was the day when this intelligence came in, they would
raise the level of concern going to a different color.

Brian Ross: The concern, now, by doing that and not telling Americans what
they can do, where the attack is coming, serves no useful purpose.

_______________________________________

White House response:

After the attempted terrorist attacks in the U.K., the U.S. government
convened meetings to discuss the situation -- that is what citizens should
expect. There is no credible evidence of an imminent threat, however, and
counter-terrorism officials regularly meet -- that is not unusual. We are
taking all threats seriously and working to ensure we can keep the
terrorists from striking at innocent people.
27465  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / If Saddam were still in power on: July 11, 2007, 06:42:48 PM
What We Pre-Empted
Today's world would be far worse if Saddam were still in power.
WSJ
BY PETER J. WALLISON
Wednesday, July 11, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Given the problems and U.S. casualties in Iraq, polls show a large majority of the American people believe the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. Yet if we imagine what the world would look like today if Saddam Hussein had not been deposed, it seems clear that almost no outcome in Iraq would be as adverse to the interests of the United States as today's world with Saddam still in power.

It is important to recall that Saddam had thrown the U.N. weapons inspectors out of Iraq in 1998, and allowed them to return in 2002 only because of the credible threat of a U.S. attack. In addition, the sanctions regime was collapsing--Saddam had learned how to extract billions of dollars for weapons out of the humanitarian exceptions to those sanctions--and our European friends, and perhaps U.N. officials themselves, were complicit in this. Under these circumstances, Saddam could not have been "contained" or rendered harmless, and Iraq could not have been indefinitely subject to U.N. inspections. At some point, Saddam would have been able to throw out the inspectors again, with no further action by the U.N. It was clear that the U.N. itself would do nothing to enforce its own resolutions.

We also know from the reports of the weapons inspectors that Saddam and his scientists were working to develop nuclear weapons, work that certainly would have continued if Saddam had remained in place. Saddam had already demonstrated that he would use chemical weapons, and there is no reason in logic that he wouldn't also restore his chemical weapons stocks once the inspectors had left. He had the largest army in the region, and had shown a determination to use it for expanding his control beyond Iraq. It's not far-fetched, therefore, to consider what economists call a counterfactual--what things would look like today if the U.S. had not invaded Iraq.

First, U.S. troops would still be in Saudi Arabia. Our troops were there because of the Saudis' fear of an Iraqi attack. We should recall that one of the principal reasons Osama bin Laden cited for attacking us--not only on 9/11, but for many years before--was that U.S. troops were supposedly defiling the Muslim holy places in Saudi Arabia. As absurd as this seems to us, it apparently resonated with the Mohamed Attas of this world. With Saddam still in power, American arms would be necessary to protect Saudi Arabia, and our presence there would still be a continuing irritant among militants and a source of al Qaeda-inspired terrorist attacks against the United States around the world.
Imagine, also, trying to persuade Iran to abandon the development of nuclear weapons when Iraq--which had attacked Iran--was actively engaged in doing exactly that. We hope now to change Iran's course through economic sanctions--a difficult prospect to be sure--but that would be a hopeless quest if its leaders and population believed they needed nuclear weapons to deter Iraq. Once it became clear that Iran would develop nuclear weapons, many Sunni Arab nations would want a nuclear deterrent, and Israel's position would be hideously complicated.

Then there are Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories. Before Saddam was deposed by the U.S. invasion, he was bidding for leadership of the Arab world in its opposition to Israel and U.S. policy in the Mideast. We can now see the resources he would have brought to bear in that effort. Saddam was a Sunni leader of a Shiite country. As he watched the Islamic world becoming more fundamentalist, he too became more overtly religious. Undoubtedly, he saw himself as the new Nasser, the one person who could unite the Arab and perhaps the Islamic world against the West and Israel. If he had remained in power, he would now be contesting with Iran for sponsorship of Hezbollah and Hamas. With these two regional powers competing in their militancy against Israel, there would be little chance of a Mideast peace any time soon. Gaza, now under Hamas control, would become a protectorate of Iraq, and the effectiveness of the West's financial boycott would have been nullified.

Saddam's interest in driving the U.S. out of the Middle East would be coincident with those of al Qaeda and he would have the weapons of mass destruction that al Qaeda has been seeking. We could never be sure that if we opposed Saddam--say, in another Iraqi invasion of Kuwait--he would not make weapons of mass destruction available to al Qaeda.

In short, it would be difficult to construct a scenario in which the ultimate outcome of events in Iraq today would be as negative for the United States as a world in which Saddam remained in control of Iraq. So, while we are justifiably dismayed about what is happening today in Iraq, we should not allow this to obscure the central point--that the world is a better and safer place because Saddam is out of power. Looked at this way, we have already achieved a lot; what remains now--as the president and John McCain have said--is to steady ourselves and see it through.
Mr. Wallison is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; he was White House counsel in the Reagan administration.
27466  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 11, 2007, 06:28:21 PM
Moving Forward in Iraq
The "surge" is working. Will Washington allow the current progress to continue?

BY KIMBERLY KAGAN
Wednesday, July 11, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

In Washington perception is often mistaken for reality. And as Congress prepares for a fresh debate on Iraq, the perception many members have is that the new strategy has already failed.

This isn't an accurate reflection of what is happening on the ground, as I saw during my visit to Iraq in May. Reports from the field show that remarkable progress is being made. Violence in Baghdad and Anbar Province is down dramatically, grassroots political movements have begun in the Sunni Arab community, and American and Iraqi forces are clearing al Qaeda fighters and Shiite militias out of long-established bases around the country.

This is remarkable because the military operation that is making these changes possible only began in full strength on June 15. To say that the surge is failing is absurd. Instead Congress should be asking this question: Can the current progress continue?


 

From 2004 to 2006, al Qaeda established safe havens, transport routes, vehicle-bomb factories and training camps in the rural areas surrounding Baghdad, where U.S. forces had little or no footprint. Al Qaeda used these bases to conduct bombings in Baghdad, to displace Shia and Sunni from local towns by sparking sectarian killings, and to force Iraqis to comply with the group's interpretation of Islamic law. Shiite death squads roamed freely around Baghdad and the countryside. The number of execution-style killings rose monthly after the Samarra mosque bombing of February 2006, reaching a high in December 2006. Iranian special operations groups moved weapons across the borders and into Iraq along major highways and rivers. U.S. forces, engaged primarily in training Iraqis, did little to disrupt this movement.
Today, Iraq is a different place from what it was six months ago. U.S. and Iraqi forces began their counterinsurgency campaign in Baghdad in February. They moved into the neighborhoods and worked side-by-side with Baghdadis. As a result, sectarian violence is down. The counterinsurgency strategy has dramatically decreased Shiite death squad activity in the capital. Furthermore, U.S. and Iraqi special forces have removed many rogue militia leaders and Iranian advisers from Sadr City and other locations, reducing the power of militias.

As a consequence, execution-style killings, the hallmark of Shiite militias, have fallen to the lowest level in a year; some Iranian- and militia-backed mortar teams firing on the Green Zone have been destroyed. Equally important, U.S. and Iraqi forces have restricted al Qaeda's bases to ever smaller areas of the city, so that reinforcements cannot flow easily from one neighborhood to another.

Many in Washington say the Baghdad Security Plan has just pushed the enemy to other locations in Iraq. Though some of the enemy certainly left Baghdad when the security plan began, this metaphor is inaccurate. The enemy has long been located outside of Baghdad and was causing violence from suburban bases. What has changed is the disposition of U.S. forces, which are now actively working to expel the enemy from its safe havens rather than ignoring them.

To accomplish this, Gens. David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno have encircled Baghdad with a double cordon of U.S. and Iraqi forces. They have been preparing the cordons patiently since February, as the new "surge" units arrived. The surge was completed only in mid-June, and the first phase of the large-scale operations it was intended to support began only on June 15. Since then, U.S. forces have begun blocking major road, river, and transportation route around Baghdad. They are also deployed in critical neighborhoods around outskirts and the interior of the city.

On June 15, Gens. Petraeus and Odierno launched a major offensive against al Qaeda strongholds all around Baghdad. "Phantom Thunder" is the largest operation in Iraq since 2003, and a milestone in the counterinsurgency strategy. For the first time, U.S. forces are working systematically throughout central Iraq to secure Baghdad by clearing its rural "belts" and its interior, so that the enemy cannot move from one safe haven to another. Together, the operations in Baghdad and the "belts" are increasing security in and around the capital.

U.S. and Iraqi forces are thereby attacking enemy strongholds and cutting supply routes all around the city, along which fighters and weapons moved freely in 2006. Coordinated operations south and east of Baghdad are at last interdicting the supply of weapons moving along the Tigris River to the capital. U.S. and Iraqi forces are operating east of Baghdad for the first time in years, disrupting al Qaeda's movement between bases on the Tigris and in Sadr City, a frequent target of its car bombs. North of Baghdad, U.S. forces recently cleared al Qaeda from the city of Baqubah, from which terrorists flowed into Baghdad. They are clearing al Qaeda's car bomb factories from Karmah, northwest of Baghdad, and its sanctuaries toward Lake Tharthar. These operations are supported by counterinsurgency operations west of the capital, from Fallujah to Abu Ghraib. U.S. forces are now, for the first time, fighting the enemy in the entire ring of cities and villages around Baghdad.


 

This is the Baghdad Security Plan, and its mission is to secure the people of Baghdad. Even so, commanders are not ignoring the outlying areas of Iraq. U.S. forces have killed or captured many important al Qaeda leaders in Mosul recently, and destroyed safe havens throughout northern Iraq. Troops are conducting counterinsurgency operations in Bayji, north of Tikrit. And Iraqi forces have "stepped up" to secure some southern cities. The Eighth Iraqi Army Division has been fighting Shiite militias in Diwaniyah, an important city halfway between Basrah and Baghdad. As commanders stabilize central Iraq, they will undoubtedly conduct successive operations in outlying regions to follow up on their successes and make them lasting.
The larger aim of the new strategy is creating an opportunity for Iraq's leaders to negotiate a political settlement. These negotiations are underway. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is attempting to form a political coalition with Amar al-Hakim and Kurdish political leaders, but excluding Moqtada al-Sadr, and has invited Sunnis to participate. He has confronted Moqtada al-Sadr for promoting illegal militia activity, and has apparently prompted this so-called Iraqi nationalist to leave for Iran for the second time since January.

Provincial and local government is growing stronger. Local and tribal leaders in Anbar, Diyala, Salah ad-Din, North Babil and even Baghdad have agreed to fight insurgents and terrorists as U.S. forces have moved in to secure the population alongside their Iraqi partners. As a result, the number of Iraqis recruited for the police forces, in particular, has risen exponentially since 2006.

This is war, and the enemy is reacting. The enemy uses suicide bombs, car bombs and brutal executions to break our will and that of our Iraqi allies. American casualties often increase as troops move into areas that the enemy has fortified; these casualties will start to fall again once the enemy positions are destroyed. Al Qaeda will manage to get some car and truck bombs through, particularly in areas well-removed from the capital and its belts.

But we should not allow individual atrocities to obscure the larger picture. A new campaign has just begun, it is already yielding important results, and its effects are increasing daily. Demands for withdrawal are no longer demands to pull out of a deteriorating situation with little hope; they are now demands to end a new approach to this conflict that shows every sign of succeeding.

Ms. Kagan, an affiliate of Harvard's John M. Olin Institute of Strategic Studies, is executive director of the Institute for the Study of War in Washington.
27467  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 11, 2007, 05:53:06 PM
"A man who was engulfed in flames after allegedly crashing a Jeep Cherokee loaded with gas cylinders into Glasgow's airport is unlikely to survive his severe burns, a doctor who treated him said Tuesday," the Associated Press reports from Edinburgh, Scotland:

"The prognosis is not good, and he is not likely to survive," a member of the medical team that treated him at the Royal Alexandra Hospital near Glasgow said on condition of anonymity because details about patients are not to be made public.

Apparently the only details about patients that are not to be made public are the names of doctors who make details about patients public.

Political Journal, WSJ
27468  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: July 11, 2007, 05:49:17 PM
Canada ranks fifth worldwide when it comes to marijuana usage, but ranks first among industrialized nations, according to the 2007 World Drug Report.

About 16.8 percent of Canadians ages 15 to 64 light up, compared to 12.6 percent of Americans in the same age bracket, according to the report. Canada’s usage is about four times the worldwide average of 3.8 percent, while the United States' usage is about three times the average.

Marijuana, or cannabis, remains the most commonly used drug in the world with almost 160 million people ages 15 to 64 using it in 2005, said the report, which was put out by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Usage is down slightly from 162 million, according to last year’s World Drug Report, which reviewed data from 2004.

The majority of it is grown in the Americas (46 percent), followed by Africa (26 percent). Canada’s usage trails behind Papua New Guinea and Micronesia at 29 percent each, Ghana at 21.5 percent, and Zambia at 17.7 percent. Among European nations, Cyprus topped the list at 14.1 percent, followed by Italy and Spain, both at 11.2 percent.

Doctors: Pot Triggers Psychotic Symptoms Study: Marijuana Damages Brain Report: Pot Getting Stronger Although Canada is a top five user of marijuana, its use among high school students in Ontario declined 19 percent between 2003 and 2005. Cannabis use amongst 12th graders in the U.S. declined 18 percent between 1997 and 2006, and is 38 percent lower than it was at its peak in 1979, the report said.

Cocaine Use Twice as High for U.S. Students

Canada may have cornered the North American market on marijuana use, but U.S. teens are twice as likely to use cocaine as teens in the rest of the world, according to the report.

About 4.8 percent of U.S. 10th graders have used cocaine compared to an average of 2.35 percent of 15 and 16-year-olds in South America countries and an average of 2.4 percent of similarly aged students in European nations.

Overall, Spain had the highest percentage of cocaine users between the ages of 15 and 64 at 3 percent, followed by the U.S. at 2.8 percent, England at 2.4 percent and Canada at 2.3 percent
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,288846,00.html
27469  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: July 11, 2007, 04:55:19 PM
Will Murtha Apologize?
"An investigating officer has recommended dismissing murder charges against a Marine accused in the slayings of three Iraqi men in a squad action that killed 24 civilians in Haditha, according to a report released Tuesday," the Associated Press reports:

The government's theory that Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt had executed the three men was "incredible" and relied on contradictory statements by Iraqis, Lt. Col. Paul Ware said in the report, released by Sharratt's defense attorneys.

"To believe the government version of facts is to disregard clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, and sets a dangerous precedent that, in my opinion, may encourage others to bear false witness against Marines as a tactic to erode public support of the Marine Corps and mission in Iraq," Ware wrote.

This was the incident in which Rep. John Murtha accused the Marines of killing Iraqis "in cold blood"--a charge, as we noted in May 2006, that was self-contradictory. In November ScrippsNews reported that Cpl. Sharratt's parents were "enraged" with Murtha, who is their congressman. Perhaps it's time for him to apologize.

Political Journal, WSJ
27470  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Training to much? on: July 11, 2007, 03:27:56 PM
Quite possible you have no idea how much I recognize all of that.

Perhaps this will help:  Think in terms of "active rest".   Frolic a bit in the swimming pool Do NOT turn it into a workout of doing laps!  cheesy  Use it to relax and open your breathing, your ribcage, your heart chakra.  For example, I like doing yoga positions that I can't really do on the ground underwater for as long as I can hold my breath.   Then later in the day a deep stretch.  Sex before bed and you should sleep very well.
27471  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: July 11, 2007, 12:11:53 PM
Cover: Myths, realities & the importance of spotting it early
By Mike Rayburn
Adjunct Instructor, Smith & Wesson Academy
If an officer is able to reach cover during a shooting situation and use it effectively, then the chances of that officer surviving the incident are greatly increased. Given this fact, it only makes sense that we should be locating — and when necessary using — cover whenever possible. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done.
The biggest problem with trying to use cover is that in many cases, there is no cover available to the officer. [In fact, in the "Cover" section of the Force Science News article, New study: We're getting better prepared to win on the street and in court, it's reported that only 15% of officers polled in a new study on officer-involved shootings had the luxury of using cover. The rest were caught unprotected and even if they tried to move to cover, they didn’t have time to reach it before the shooting was over.] We work in close proximity to the people we deal with on a daily basis. Whether we’re making a field interview contact, handling a domestic, handcuffing an arrested person, or just generally dealing with the public, we have to get in close to these people to interact with them. This is true whether this interaction results in some type of enforcement action or not.



When was the last time you asked the operator of a motor vehicle for his driver’s license from 21 feet away? Or how about trying to handcuff someone from 10 feet away? I know it sounds silly, but I’m trying to make a point. We deal in close proximity to people on a daily, almost routine, basis. It’s that word “routine” that tends to bite us in the nether regions. We tend to forget about looking for cover during the contact should things suddenly go bad and we need it.

This brings me to the second biggest problem with cover. Most officers don’t think about it until it’s too late. The time to start thinking about cover and how you’re going to move to it is not when a gunfight erupts. The time to think about cover is always…to constantly have it in the back of your head. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, you should always have a sense of what cover is available to you and how you can move to it.

Once you’ve determined the cover available to you, you have to decide whether you’re going to be able to move to it quickly under stress should a shooting occur. A concrete wall across the street is good, but a big tree three steps away from you is better. If there isn’t cover available, which unfortunately is the case in a lot of officer-involved shootings, then at the very least, you should move. Movement in a gunfight is essential.
If you’re behind cover, stay there and use it effectively. Remember, a large percentage of officers who do this survive shooting incidents. So if you’ve got cover and you’re using it, the odds are in your favor.

Another aspect to consider when talking about cover is visualization -- planting a mental image in your head as to where that cover is located and how you’re going to move to it quickly and with sure footing. This will better prepare you to act quickly if things suddenly go bad. If you don’t have that image pre-planted in your brain, it’s not going to come to you when you’re suddenly under fire. Your brain will be too occupied with processing everything else going on to think about what is—and isn’t—cover and how to move to it.

A simple way to demonstrate this fact is to set up a training scenario where an officer has to walk past simulated cover placed off to the side during an approach to a “subject”. The cover should be placed such that the officer must move backwards and laterally to reach it once he is within close proximity of this subject.
Now have the officer walk up to the “subject” with his or her handgun holstered and as he gets to within a yard or two of the mock person, yell “fire!”

If the officer didn’t already make a mental note of where that cover was, he or she will turn their head and look for it as they’re shooting and moving backwards. No problem, right? WRONG! Do you really think that during a firefight, with someone shooting at you from three to six feet away, you’re going to be able to take your eyes off the shooter to look around for cover?

Now have that same officer go through the course again, but this time have him make sure to mentally note the cover and where it’s located before the drill begins. If he does this, you’ll see him move flawlessly to it, without ever taking his eyes off of the target. It’s as simple as that. Just a quick mental note.

This is so simple that you can practice this mental imagery in the comfort of your own home. Stand directly in front of your television set. (Do this when the kids aren’t home so you don’t have to listen to the complaints.) Now without looking, move back to your sofa without tripping over the coffee table, while keeping your eyes fixed on the television set. Easy right?

Now have someone move the coffee table to one side or the other. If you don’t make a mental note of where that coffee table is, you’re going to trip over it as you try to move back to the sofa.

It’s the same thing on the street. If you don’t make a mental note of where that cover is, you will not be able to move to it smoothly and flawlessly while keeping your eyes on the threat.

One last thing about looking for cover: the first place you should look for it is on your strong side. Why? Because for most of us, this will be the side you automatically (dare I say “instinctively”) move to under stress. To prove this, run a force-on-force scenario.

Have the bad guy suited up in his protective gear with a rubber knife. Have the officer stand approximately 10-12 feet, (the average distance in an edged weapon attack), away from the bad guy with his Simunitions or Air Soft gun in his holster. Tell the officer that he or she is required to move laterally, (because moving backwards is too slow and awkward) to one side or the other and fire some rounds into the charging assailant.
Now, without warning, have the suited up aggressor run at the officer. You’ll see for yourself that well over 99% of the time officers will move to their strong side. They do this automatically without ever being told, or trained, to do so. If this is the case, then we need to train our officers to look for cover on their strong sides first, and then look for additional cover from there.

If you doubt the validity of this drill, let me give you one last fact. Get up and walk over to a set of stairs. Your first step up will be with your strong side foot. Walk a little further away from those same stairs and try it again. Your first step up will be with your strong side foot. We do this automatically and instinctively. If this is the case, then why not train this way? Why not train the way we’re going to fight.
Keep these facts, and problems, about cover in mind whenever you’re dealing with anyone, and you’ll win that fight.

About the author: Michael T. Rayburn is a 29-year veteran of Law Enforcement and is currently an adjunct instructor at the Smith & Wesson Academy. He is the author of three books, Advanced Vehicle Stop Tactics, Basic Gunfighting 101.
27472  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Training to much? on: July 11, 2007, 12:07:37 PM
Exercise.  Nutrition.  Rest.  

Everyone of us needs each of these.

How to know when we are getting/not getting enough Rest?  

Some general indicators:

a)  achy lower back.  Jean Jacques Machado drew my attention to this one.  My layman's theory is that the ache is actually the kidney-adrenal meridian talking to us.  Darkness under the eyes (more readily detectable amongst us caucasians  cheesy ) indicates tired/overworked kidneys

b) poor sleep:  when we are overtired sometimes good restful sleep becomes more elusive.

c) weaker or no erection in the morning, diminished sex drive.

d) Resting pulse is a great indicator.  Take your pulse every morning upon waking and before getting out of bed to get a sense of the band of your RP.  In my case this number is 48-52.  When my RP upon waking hits 55-56, I know it is time for a day of rest.

Also a good idea is to look at your training schedule on a weekly basis, a seasonal basis, and an annual basis.  Within the week there should be a mix of intense, moderate and mild days.  Similarly on a seasonal basis there should be some weeks of greater and lesser intensity.  On an annual basis, there should be a phase of rest.

Concering the last one of these, this is something it has taken me many years to accept.  Decembers always used to make me very grouchy.  As I saw it, from Thanksgiving forward, entranced by the all pervasive music of thes season all the goyim were off on their annual pine tree killing frenzy fueled by sugary foods and material culture consumption triggered by the manipulations of mass advertising.    How could the gym be closed on Dec 25th?  Didn't they know that was my day for squats and deadlifts?!?

It drove me crazy--and it drove me to injury and getting sick.

Finally I figured out that in a evolutionary biological sense the reason for the season was to fatten up for a time of hibernation.  I still loathe all the sugary food and the false jocularity, but now I give myself permission to take it easier in December.
27473  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine on: July 11, 2007, 11:47:03 AM
Hat tip to the WT forum:


see this on for more info Antibiotics in tactical combat casualty care 2002.

http://www.tacmed.dk/pdf/Antibiotics%20in%20tactical%20combat%20casualty%20 care%202002..pdf
27474  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: July 10, 2007, 08:35:08 AM
Second post of the morning:

WSJ

Another Iraq Front
By ROBERT P. FINN
July 10, 2007

Turkey is edging toward going after Kurdish PKK guerillas in northern Iraq. The Council of Ministers yesterday discussed calling Parliament into special session to approve a possible military incursion before general elections later this month, but in the end didn't take a decision. The Turkish military itself has been ready to move for weeks. The Turks have complained about the U.S. dropping the ball on fighting terrorism in the Kurdish areas of Iraq, and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül recently made clear to Washington that Turkey needed no permission from anyone to move into northern Iraq.

All this has serious implications, none of them good, for Turkey domestically and for the region. Iran is forging an alliance of convenience with Ankara against the Kurds. Any Turkish military attack threatens to destabilize the only relatively calm region of Iraq.

 
Early last month, Turkish and Iranian forces located on their respective borders with Iraq fired numerous rockets into areas where the PKK has been active, apparently in coordination with each other. Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper identified the passes under attack by Turkish troops as those at Seranish, Destetag, Kesane, Banike, Geli and Batufa. (In a twist of history, these are the very areas where hundreds of thousands of Kurds climbed to safety while they fled Saddam Hussein's soldiers in 1988 and again in 1991, after the First Gulf War.) Iranian forces have allegedly fired on the PKK redoubts south of Kandil mountain, which straddles the point of the trilateral border.

Officials from the Peshmerga, the Iraqi Kurdish militia, were quoted as saying, "We've never seen the Turks coming like this." Turkish maneuvers on the Iraqi border are a familiar rite of springtime, and Turkish incursions into Iraq in pursuit of the PKK have taken place numerous times in the past, but not recently, at least officially. Some Turkish troops are even stationed at firebases in northern Iraq.

The rising tensions in northern Iraq stem, first off, from frequent terrorist bombings in Turkey in recent weeks blamed on the PKK. An attack in Ankara killed eight and wounded scores at the height of the evening rush hour. The bomber's code name was allegedly Adok, a Kurdish word that means a sacrificial offering. Forty-two people, most of them soldiers, were killed by terrorism in May, and attacks have continued. A road mine in southern Sirnak on Sunday killed a village guard. A number of suicide bombers and quantities of bomb material, most allegedly brought by the PKK from Syria, have been captured recently. Deaths from the struggle with the PKK have risen to over 650 since the beginning of last year, while the PKK claims the total is 900. So Turks are fed up. Police have had, for the first time, to erect barriers at military funerals to protect senior government officials from angry, shouting citizens.

The other cause of trouble is politics. The head of the Turkish General Staff, Gen. Yashar Buyukanit, announced this spring that a foray into Iraq was needed, but deferred to the government on the final decision. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the same, but has so far made no move. He recently complained that "retired generals are going around exciting the people" and that the political and military consequences of any incursion into northern Iraq have to be evaluated.

As Turkey moves toward a general election on July 22 that may well be the most important in its modern history, the pressure on Mr. Erdogan to do something in northern Iraq is strong. The military and the secular elite have taken up the issue, seeking to fuel popular discontent with the government. They see Mr. Erdogan's government and his party as soft on the Kurdish issue and not pushing the U.S. hard enough.

The U.S. is on the record as opposing a military intervention in Iraq by Turkey, but Turks are worn out by what they perceive as U.S. foot-dragging on doing anything about the PKK. European resistance to Turkish EU candidacy and media propaganda claiming that the U.S. wants to set up an independent Kurdistan help to inflame Turkish nationalism. A sensationalist 2005 Turkish best seller, "Metal Storm," even forecast the U.S. and Turkey going to war in 2007 after a Turkish incursion into northern Iraq.

Iran may be coordinating with the Turks against the PKK but is no doubt also pleased at the problems the situation is causing for U.S.-Turkish relations. Such maneuvering is common to this area, where a century ago imperial Russians were inciting Kurdish tribes to destabilize the region. The Kurds have long been the victims of such power manipulations in the region, divided by others and among themselves.

The military show of strength may come to no more than that, as the international community rushes to defuse yet another crisis in the area. A parliamentary resolution would allow, not demand, an incursion.

The question of the PKK as a threat to Turkish national sovereignty and the question of the Kurds and their role in Iraq, however, will remain linked. A Turkish general who visited northern Iraq pointed out that the Kurdish flag and anthem are played for visitors in the north, not the Iraqi ones. As long as that does not change and the PKK receive refuge in the mountains, many Turks will be ready to act and U.S.-Turkish relations will be clouded.

While the U.S. considers the PKK a terrorist organization, it has also basically turned over security in the northern areas of Iraq to the Kurds. Surely it still has the clout to make it clear to the Kurds that this does not give them carte blanche to accommodate terrorist camps. The number of PKK fighters in northern Iraq is not huge, perhaps three or four thousand, but certainly larger than the "hundreds" to which Prime Minister Erdogan has referred. The authorities in Iraq can shut the PKK down, as they have in the past, and the U.S., for its own good, should push them to do so.

Mr. Finn, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan who also served several diplomatic tours in Turkey, teaches at Princeton.
27475  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: July 10, 2007, 08:23:48 AM
I have no idea as to the merits of the suggested solutions of this piece, but post it in amazement that Turkey's incipient invasion of Kurdistan, Iraq has garnered so little attention:

WSJ

Kurdistan Showdown
By ILAN BERMAN
July 10, 2007; Page A20

You have to feel sorry for David Petraeus. The commander of the multinational force in Iraq already has his hands full overseeing the "surge." Now he needs to deal with another, equally pressing problem. According to Iraqi officials, Turkey has mobilized some 140,000 soldiers along its common border with Iraq, in a maneuver that many see as a prelude to some sort of military confrontation between the two countries.

The reason has everything to do with Ankara's threat calculus. Today, Turkish officials and analysts alike are preoccupied with four interlocking strategic fronts. The first is the country's southeast, where Turkey's military continues its long-running struggle against the separatists of the radical Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). The second lies across the border in northern Iraq, where officials say Kurdish rebels are operating with the knowledge -- and possibly even the tacit backing -- of Massoud Barzani's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The third and fourth are the sizeable Kurdish enclaves in Syria and Iran -- communities that officials in Ankara fear could similarly become outposts for anti-Turkish activity.

Washington has been slow to grasp the gravity of this threat, and even slower to address it. Until quite recently, the Bush administration brushed aside Turkish appeals for an expansion of the war on terror to include Kurdish terrorism, preferring to focus solely on the threat of al Qaeda and its affiliates. Worse, persistent talk in Washington of Iraqi "federalism" or "soft partition" sent shockwaves through officials in Ankara, who believe that the emergence of an independent "Kurdistan" could encourage neighboring Kurdish enclaves to seek self-determination, likely peeling away Turkish territory.

Only last year, in a belated response to Ankara's urgings, did the administration appoint a special envoy for combating the PKK. The post, as well as the credentials of the envoy -- Gen. Joseph Ralston, a former vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- were viewed in Turkey as a long-overdue sign of seriousness. But, by all accounts, bilateral progress has been slow and Mr. Ralston's efforts stymied by bureaucracy. The Beltway debate over Iraq, meanwhile, has heightened Turkish fears that they soon could be forced to face an expanded insurgent threat on their own.

All of which has spurred Ankara to action. In recent days, observers say, the Turkish government has launched a "great mobilization" that has positioned more than a quarter of its half-million-strong army in southeastern Turkey, awaiting orders for a cross-border operation. Such an incursion could be catastrophic. The quasi-autonomous government of "Iraqi Kurdistan" has made clear that it is ready and able to repulse a Turkish invasion. The U.S., meanwhile, has hinted that it would be obliged to defend and assist Iraqi forces in the event of such a conflict. Thus a Turkish raid could spark a war between a NATO member state and the U.S.-led Coalition.

Up until now, Ankara has appeared to understand the danger. Over the past several weeks, its military created a number of "temporary security zones" on the Iraqi border to interdict cross-border terrorist activities. But Turkish officials have made perfectly clear that this step is not a permanent solution to their security problem.

Fortunately, an opportunity to avert a crisis exists. Back in the spring of 2002, in an effort to assist Georgia in its fight against terrorism, the Pentagon launched the Georgia Train and Equip Program (GTEP) -- a bilateral military training initiative intended to enhance the former Soviet republic's counterterrorism, border security and intelligence capabilities. Practically, GTEP served as a useful capacity-building exercise, helping Tbilisi consolidate control over inhospitable terrain and expand the effectiveness of its forces. Politically, however, GTEP was much more; by increasing Georgia's competence to combat terrorism within its own borders, it eliminated a potential pretext for Russian imperialism. By 2004, the 20-month program had attained tangible results, simultaneously bolstering Tbilisi's anti-terror abilities and reducing the reasons for Russian intrusion.

If implemented quickly, the same model could reap benefits in northern Iraq. Despite its virtual political autonomy, the KRG is not an independent entity. It is beholden to the Iraqi central government, and to the Coalition, which now has greater authority pursuant to a May 30 security agreement signed by Mr. Barzani and U.S. commanders. Both now need to seize the initiative to create an institutional mechanism capable of defending Turkey from cross-border attack.

Of late, Baghdad has begun to show welcome signs of responsibility on this score. In early June, after months of dialogue with Turkish officials, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki officially signaled his intent to outlaw the activities of the PKK. Mr. Maliki and company will need to go beyond mere rhetoric, however, and immediately formulate a concrete plan for containing the activities of Kurdish insurgents in northern Iraq. For its part, the Coalition must throw its weight behind a serious plan for northern Iraq, one that addresses Turkey's security concerns in a real and tangible way.

Anything less, and the Iraqi insurgency could become the least of Gen. Petraeus's problems.

Mr. Berman is vice president for policy at the American Foreign Policy Council.

27476  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What about Muslim Moderates? on: July 10, 2007, 08:14:30 AM
Second post of the morning:

WSJ

What About Muslim Moderates?
By R. JAMES WOOLSEY and NINA SHEA
July 10, 2007; Page A21

Islamist terrorism has led the American and British governments in the past month to launch separate public diplomacy programs aimed at engaging Muslims at home and abroad. A quick comparison shows the two initiatives are headed in opposite directions. At least the Brits have finally got it right.

The Bush administration is building bridges to well-funded and self-publicized organizations that claim to speak for all Muslims, even though some of those groups espouse views inimical to American values and interests. After years of pursuing similar strategies -- while seeing home-based terrorists proliferate -- the Blair-Brown government is now more discerning about which Muslims it will partner with. Stating that "lip service for peace" is no longer sufficient, the British are identifying and elevating those who are willing to take clear stands against terrorism and its supporting ideology.

 
Thus, in a major address at a two-day government conference early last month (titled "Islam and Muslims in the World Today"), then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, with Gordon Brown in attendance and hosting a reception, vowed to correct an imbalance. He stated that, in Britain's Muslim community, unrepresentative but well-funded groups are able to attract disproportionately large amounts of publicity, while moderate voices go unheard and unpublished.

Mr. Blair emphasized that Islam is not a "monolithic faith," but one made up of a "rich pattern of diversity." The principal purpose of the conference, Mr. Blair stressed, was to "let the authentic voices of Islam, in their various schools and manifestations, speak for themselves." He was as good as his word.

Invitations to participate in the assembly were extended to the less-publicized, moderate groups, such as the Sufi Muslim Council, the British Muslim Foundation and Minhaj-ul-Quran. Notably absent from the program was the Muslim Council of Britain, a group that claims to represent that nation's Muslims but is preoccupied with its self-described struggle against "Islamophobia" -- a term it tries to use to shut down critical analysis of anything Islamic, whether legitimate or bigoted.

Also dropped from the speaking roster was the leading European Islamist Tariq Ramadan, who, while denied a visa by the United States, has been a fixture at official conferences on Muslims in Europe. The grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Ramadan is fuzzy on where he stands on specific acts of terror -- and he infamously evaded a challenge by Nicolas Sarkozy to denounce stoning.

Mr. Blair committed funds to improve the teaching of Islamic studies in British universities; announced a new effort to develop "minimum standards" for imams in Britain; and, most significantly, declared that henceforth the government would be giving "priority, in its support and funding decisions, to those leadership organizations actively working to tackle violent extremism." Routine but vague press releases against terrorism would no longer do.

A few days later, British backbone was demonstrated again with the knighting of novelist Salman Rushdie. Since 1989, when Iran's mullahs pronounced one of his works "blasphemous," Mr. Rushdie has lived under the shadow of a death threat, the first fatwa with universal jurisdiction against a Muslim living in the West. With the news that Britain would honor him, extremist Muslims rioted. But many Western Muslim reformers, increasingly threatened by death threats and murderous fatwas themselves, cheered the Brits. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Dutch parliamentarian who was born a Muslim in Somalia, wrote: "The queen has honored the freedom of conscience and creativity cherished in the West."

On the eve of his departure from office, Mr. Blair gave a television interview taking on those he once courted -- British Islamists who have been quick to level charges of Islamophobia and oppression against Britain and the United States: "The reason we are finding it hard to win this battle [against terror] is that we're not actually fighting it properly. We're not actually standing up to these people and saying, 'It's not just your methods that are wrong, your ideas are absurd. Nobody is oppressing you. Your sense of grievance isn't justified.' . . . Some of what is written on this is loopy-loo in its extremism."

Contrast this with the Bush administration's new approach. On June 27, President Bush delivered his "Muslim Initiative" address at the Washington Islamic Center in tribute to the 50th anniversary of that organization's founding, by Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism is the state religion of Saudi Arabia, and its extremist ideology often flows with the kingdom's money. The Islamic Center is not an exception.

A few years ago when we were with Freedom House, concerned Muslims brought us Saudi educational material they collected from the Washington Islamic Center that instructed Muslims fundamentally to segregate themselves from other Americans. One such text stated: "To be dissociated from the infidels is to hate them for their religion, to leave them, never to rely on them for support, not to admire them, to be on one's guard against them, never to imitate them, and to always oppose them in every way according to Islamic law."

Though Mr. Bush's remarks were intended for all American Muslims, the administration left the invitation list to Washington Islamic Center's authorities. Predictably, they excluded the truly moderate, who are not Saudi-founded or funded: the Islamic Supreme Council of America, the American Islamic Congress, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, the Center for Eurasian Policy, the Center for Islamic Pluralism, the Islam and Democracy Project, the Institute for Gulf Affairs, the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia and many others.

These organizations are frequently shut out of U.S. government events and appointments on the basis that they are considered insignificant or "controversial" by the petro-dollar-funded groups. The administration makes a terrible mistake by making such Wahhabi-influenced institutions as the Washington Islamic Center the gate keepers for all American Muslims.

The actual substance of Mr. Bush's mosque speech -- particularly good on religious freedom -- was overshadowed by the announcement of its single initiative: America is to send an envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference. Based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the OIC was created explicitly to promote hostility to Israel, and its meetings largely consist of ritualistic Israel-bashing. At one last year, Iran's president called for the "elimination of the Zionist regime." It has no mechanism for discussing the human rights of its member states, and thus has never spoken out against Sudan's genocide of Darfuri Muslims. It is advancing an effort to universalize Islamic blasphemy laws, which are applied as often against speech critical of the governments of OIC member states as against profanities. Last month the OIC council of foreign ministers termed Islamophobia "the worst form of terrorism." Currently no Western power holds either member or observer status at the OIC.

The Bush administration is now actively considering whether its public diplomacy should reach out to Muslim Brotherhood groups. While such groups may pay lip service to peace, they do not denounce terror by Hamas, a Brotherhood offshoot. It keeps as its motto: "Allah is our objective, the Prophet is our leader, the Koran is our law, jihad is our way, dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." By choosing those whose definition of terror does not include the murder of Jews, honor killings and lethal fatwas against Muslim dissidents and reformers, the U.S. government makes them look strong -- particularly in the shame-and-honor culture of the Middle East -- and strengthens their hand against the real moderates and reformers.

Great Britain, as we were reminded over the past week, has much work ahead in defeating Muslim terror, as well as in overcoming the misguided form of multiculturalism of its recent past. Not all of Britain's measures will be right for America, with our First Amendment. But the British Labour Party socialists appear to have done one major thing right that this American Republican administration has not: Reach out to Muslim leaders who are demonstrably moderate and share our values, even though they may not have petrodollar-funded publicity machines.

While we don't have a Queen to dub knights, Americans do have distinct way of honoring our heroes. Mr. President, confer the Medal of Freedom on one of our own outstanding Muslim-American citizens. For a selection of honorees, look at who was not invited to your recent speech. If Islamists charge "Islamophobia," repeat after Tony: "Loopy loo. Loopy loo."

Mr. Woolsey, co-chair of the Committee on the Present Danger, was Director of Central Intelligence 1993-1995. Ms. Shea is the director of the Center for Religious Freedom of the Hudson Institute.
27477  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: July 10, 2007, 07:36:09 AM
Public Diplomacy for Dummies
The Bush administration falters in the battle of ideas.

BY BRET STEPHENS
Tuesday, July 10, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Late last month, President Bush gave an address at the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C., where he announced that the United States would for the first time appoint an observer to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. "Our special envoy will listen to and learn from representatives from Muslim states and will share with them America's views and values," he said. "This is an opportunity for Americans to demonstrate to Muslim communities our interest in respectful dialogue and continued friendship."

To say public diplomacy hasn't been this administration's forte is a truism and an understatement. Still, it's hard to recall any presidential initiative as spectacularly misjudged and needless since Ronald Reagan paid tribute to Nazi soldiers at Bitburg. The OIC's signal contribution to date has been a decades-long boycott by Muslim countries against Israel. The Islamic Center is a Saudi-funded institution that, as Freedom House documented in 2005, distributes Wahhabi religious literature. Charming tidbit: "It is forbidden for a Muslim to be the first in greeting an unbeliever, even if he had prestigious position. This is due to many established holy traditions, in this matter, like his [Prophet Muhammad] saying [peace be upon him]: Do not be first, in greeting the Jews and the Christians."

Dutifully in attendance at the president's speech was Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes. Critics of the administration usually point to Mr. Bush's policies and his public persona as the source of America's declining stock in global public opinion surveys. But public diplomacy is also the job of American embassies and ambassadors, taxpayer-funded broadcasting corporations such as Voice of America, military officials and especially Ms. Hughes. In theory, their job is to wage a battle of ideas against radical Islam. In practice and effect, however, too often reality is otherwise.


Take the case of career diplomat Francis Riccardione, currently the U.S. ambassador to Egypt. In interviews with the Egyptian media, Mr. Riccardione has said that American officials have "no right to comment" on the case of Ayman Nour, the former opposition leader imprisoned on trumped-up charges; that faith in Egypt's judiciary is "well-placed," and that president Hosni Mubarak--now in his 26th year in office-- "is loved in the U.S." and "could win elections [in America] as a leader who is a giant on the world stage." Mr. Riccardione also admits he "enjoyed" a recent film by Egyptian artist Shaaban Abdel Rahim, best known for his hit song "I Hate Israel."

Or take the Voice of America's Persian Service. According to a Farsi-speaking source who tracks the broadcasts, during last year's war between Hezbollah and Israel, VOA reporter Nazi Beglari opined that "Hezbollah ended the Israeli occupation in the past and is doing it again." Camera shots lingered over toys scattered near bomb sites and a burnt page of the Quran--evidence, presumably, of Israel's intent to destroy Islam and murder Muslim children.

Then there is Ms. Hughes herself. During one of her first overseas ventures as public diplomacy czarina, Ms. Hughes visited Indonesia--the world's largest Muslim country--where she met its very own Bono, rock star Ahmad Dhani. Mr. Dhani had recently released his album "Laskar Cinta," or "Warriors of Love," a deliberate and political response to the terrorist atrocities perpetrated by Laskar Jihad. Ms. Hughes seemed enthralled by both the message and the messenger.

"Hughes met Dhani, praised him to the skies, and said 'people like you are exactly what we need,'" recalls C. Holland Taylor, an American who runs the LibForAll foundation with which Mr. Dhani is associated. "She then asked us whether he would be willing to work with the State Department, whether he'd be willing to travel and whether there was anything she could do for him. We answered all three questions affirmatively. Since then there's been a vast silence."

LibForAll is itself a model of what a competent public diplomacy effort in the Muslim world should look like. Mr. Taylor, a former telecom executive who moved to Jakarta in the 1990s and speaks fluent Indonesian, has engaged influential and genuinely reform-minded Muslims--as opposed to the faux "moderates" on whom Mr. Bush lavished praise at the Islamic Center--to articulate and defend a progressive and tolerant version of Islam.

In its brief life, LibForAll has helped turn back an attempted Islamist takeover of the country's second-largest Muslim social organization (with 30 million members), translated anti-Wahhabist books into Indonesian, sponsored a recent multidenominational conference to denounce Holocaust-denial, brought Mr. Dhani to Colorado to speak to U.S. military brass, and launched a well-researched "extremist exposé" in order, Mr. Taylor says, "to get Indonesian society to consciously acknowledge that there is an infiltration occurring of radical ideology, financed by Arab petrodollars, that is intent on destroying Indonesian Islam."

For his efforts, Mr. Taylor has been cold-shouldered by the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta--more proof that when it comes to public diplomacy the U.S. government functions with its usual genius and efficiency. But there's more at work here than a bumbling and insipid bureaucracy. As the scholar Carnes Lord notes in his useful book on public diplomacy, "Losing Hearts and Minds," America's public diplomatists "are today no longer as convinced as they once were that America's story is after all fundamentally a good one, or believe an alternative, negative story is at least equally plausible." Hence someone like Mr. Riccardione can say, when asked about discrimination in Egypt (where a Coptic population amounting to about 10% of the population has one member in the 444-seat parliament) that it "happens everywhere, even in the U.S."

No doubt a dose of moral equivalence served Mr. Riccardione's purposes in getting through his interview without a rhetorical scrape. No doubt, too, maintaining (or pretending) a blissful ignorance about the ideology being propagated by the Islamic Center served Mr. Bush's political purposes. But if effective public diplomacy is really as vital in the war on terror as everyone appears to agree it is, we need better ambassadors, better administrators and a better sense of who we need to engage and how. At least Mr. Taylor has a clue. The administration could stand to learn from him.
Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.

27478  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / As War enters classrooms, on: July 10, 2007, 06:45:54 AM
NY Times

QALAI SAYEDAN, Afghanistan, July 9 — With their teacher absent, 10 students were allowed to leave school early. These were the girls the gunmen saw first, 10 easy targets walking hand-in-hand through the blue metal gate and on to the winding dirt road.

 The stataccato of machine-gun fire pelted through the stillness. A 13-year-old named Shukria was hit in the arm and the back, and then teetered into the soft brown of an adjacent wheat field. Zarmina, her 12-year-old sister, ran to her side, listening to the wounded girl’s precious breath and trying to help her stand.
But Shukria was too heavy to lift, and the two gunmen, sitting astride a single motorbike, sped closer.

As Zarmina scurried away, the men took a more studied aim at those they already had shot, killing Shukria with bullets to her stomach and heart. Then the attackers seemed to succumb to the frenzy they had begun, forsaking the motorbike and fleeing on foot in a panic, two bobbing heads — one tucked into a helmet, the other swaddled by a handkerchief — vanishing amid the earthen color of the wheat.

Six students were shot here on the afternoon of June 12, two of them fatally. The Qalai Sayedan School — considered among the very best in the central Afghan province of Logar — reopened only last weekend, but even with Kalashnikov-toting guards at the gate, only a quarter of the 1,600 students have dared to return.

Shootings, beheadings, burnings and bombings: these are all tools of intimidation used by the Taliban and others to shut down hundreds of Afghanistan’s public schools. To take aim at education is to make war on the government.

Parents are left with peculiar choices. “It is better for my children to be alive even if it means they must be illiterate,” said Sayed Rasul, a father who had decided to keep his two daughters at home for a day.

Afghanistan surely has made some progress toward development, but most often the nation seems astride some pitiable rocking horse, with each lurch forward inevitably reversed by the backward spring of harsh reality.

The schools are one vivid example. The Ministry of Education claims that 6.2 million children are now enrolled, or about half the school-age population. And while statistics in Afghanistan can be unreliably confected, there is no doubt that attendance has multiplied far beyond that of any earlier time, with uniformed children now teeming through the streets each day, flooding classrooms in two and three shifts.

A third of these students are girls, a marvel itself. Historically, girls’ education has been undervalued in Afghan culture. Girls and women were forbidden from school altogether during the Taliban rule.

But after 30 years of war, this is a country without normal times to reclaim; in so many ways, Afghanistan must start from scratch. The accelerating demand for education is mocked by the limited supply. More than half the schools have no buildings, according to the Ministry of Education; classes are commonly held in tents or beneath trees or in the brutal, sun-soaked openness.

Only 20 percent of the teachers are even minimally qualified. Texts are outdated; hundreds of titles need to be written, and millions of books need to be printed. And then there is the violence. In the southern provinces where the Taliban are most aggressively combating American and NATO troops, education has virtually come to a halt in large swaths of the contested regions. In other areas, attacks against schools are sporadic, unpredictable and perplexing.

By the ministry’s estimate, there have been 444 attacks since last August. Some of these were simple thefts. Some were instances of tents put to the torch. Some were audacious murders under the noon sun.

“By attacking schools, the terrorists want to make the point of their own existence,” said Mohammad Hanif Atmar, the minister of education.

Western-educated and notably energetic, Mr. Atmar is the nation’s fifth education minister in five and a half years, but only the first to command the solid enthusiasm of international donors. Much of the government is awash in corruption and cronyism. But Mr. Atmar comes to the job after a much-praised showing as the minister of rural redevelopment.

He has laid out an ambitious five-year plan for school construction, teacher training and a modernized curriculum. He is also championing a parallel track of madrasas, or religious schools; students would focus on Islamic studies while also pursuing science, math and the arts. “This society needs faith-based education, and we will be happy to provide it without teaching violence and the abuse of human rights,” Mr. Atmar said.

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To succeed, the minister must prove a magnet for foreign cash. And donors have not been unusually generous when it comes to schools. Since the fall of the Taliban, the United States Agency for International Development has devoted only 5 percent of its Afghanistan budget to education, compared with 30 percent for roads and 14 percent for power.

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Afghanistan School Attacks
Virtually every Afghan school is a sketchbook of extraordinary destitution. “I have 68 girls sitting in this tent,” said Nafisa Wardak, a first-grade teacher at the Deh Araban Qaragha School in Kabul. “We’re hot. The tent is full of flies. The wind blows sand and garbage everywhere. If a child gets sick, where can I send her?”

The nation’s overwhelming need for walled classrooms makes the killings in Qalai Sayedan all the more tragic. The school welcomed boys through grade 6 and girls through grade 12. It was terribly overcrowded, with the 1,600 students, attending in two shifts, stuffed into 12 classrooms and a corridor.

But the building itself was exactly that: two stories of concrete with a roof of galvanized steel, and not a collection of weather-molested tents. Two years ago, Qalai Sayedan was named the top school in the province. Its principal, Bibi Gul, was saluted for excellence and rewarded with a trip to America.

But last month’s attack on the school caused parents to wonder if the school’s stalwart reputation had not itself become a source of provocation. Qalai Sayedan is 40 miles south of Kabul, and while a dozen other schools in Logar Province have been attacked, none has been as regularly, or malignly, singled out. Three years ago, Qalai Sayedan was struck by rockets during the night. A year ago, explosives tore off a corner of the building.

In the embassies of the West, and even within the Education Ministry in Kabul, the Taliban are commonly discussed as a monolithic adversary. But to the villagers here, with the lives of their children at risk, it is too simplistic to assume the attacks were merely part of some broad campaign of terror.

People see the government’s enemies as a varied lot with assorted grievances, assorted tribal connections and assorted masters. Villagers ask, has anyone at the school provided great offense? Is the school believed to be un-Islamic?

At the village mosque, many men blame Ms. Gul, the principal. “She should not have gone to America without the consultation of the community,” said Sayed Abdul Sami, the uncle of Saadia, the other slain student. “And she went to America without a mahram, a male relative to accompany her, and this is considered improper in Islam.”

Sayed Enayatullah Hashimi, a white-bearded elder, said the school had flaunted its success too openly. “The governor paid it a visit,” he said disparagingly. “He brought with him 20 bodyguards, and these men went all over the school — even among the older girls.”

Education is the fast track to modernity. And modernity is held with suspicion.

Off the main highway, 100 yards up the winding dirt road and through the blue metal gate, sits the school. It was built four years ago by the German government.

On Monday, Ms. Gul greeted hundreds of children as they fidgeted in the morning light: “Dear boys and brave girls, thank you for coming. The enemy has done its evil deeds, but we will never allow the doors of this school to close again.”

These would be among her final moments as their principal. She had already resigned. “My heart is crying,” she said privately. “But I must leave because of everything that people say. They say I received letters warning about the attacks. But that isn’t so. And people say I am a foreigner because I went to the United States without a mahram. We were 12 people. I’m 42 years old. I don’t need to travel with a mahram.”

In the village, she wears a burqa, enveloped head to toe in lavender fabric. This is a conservative place. For some, the very idea of girls attending school into their teens is a breach of tradition.

Shukria, the slain 13-year-old, was considered a polite girl who reverently studied the Koran. Saadia, the other student killed, was remarkable in that she was married and 25. She had refused to let age discourage her from finishing an education interrupted by the Taliban years. She was about to graduate.

A new sign now sits atop the steel roof. The Qalai Sayedan School has been renamed the Martyred Saadia School. Another place will be called Martyred Shukria.

For three days now, students have been asked to return to class. Each morning, more of them appear. Older girls and women are quite clearly the most reluctant to return.

Shukria’s home is only a short walk from the school. Nafiza, the girl’s mother, was still too scalded with grief to mutter more than a few words. Shukria’s uncle, Shir Agha, took on the role of family spokesman.

“We have a saying that if you go to school, you can find yourself, and if you can find yourself, you can find God,” he said proudly. “But for a child to attend school, there must be security. Who supplies that security?”

Zarmina, the 12-year-old who had seen her sister killed, was called into the room. She was not ready to return to school, she said. Even the sound of a motorbike now made her hide. But surely the fear would subside, her uncle reassured her. She must remember that she loves school, that she loves to read, that she loves to scribble words on paper.

Someday, she would surely resume her studies, he told her.

But the heartbroken girl could not yet imagine this. “Never,” she said.
27479  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: July 10, 2007, 12:19:34 AM
Texas State Lawmaker Opposing Deadly Force Bill Shoots Would-Be Thief

Monday , July 09, 2007

HOUSTON —
A state lawmaker who opposed a bill giving Texans stronger right to defend themselves with deadly force pulled a gun and shot a man he says was trying to steal copper wiring from a construction site, police said Monday.


Rep. Borris Miles told police he was fixing a leak on the second floor of the Houston house he's building Sunday night when he heard a noise downstairs and saw two men trying to steal the copper. After Miles confronted the pair, one of the men threw a pocketknife at him, Houston Police spokesman Victor Senties.

Miles, a former law enforcement officer, shot the man in the left leg, police said. The wounded suspect was being treated at a Houston hospital. Police were trying to identify the other suspect.

Charges of aggravated robbery are pending against the wounded suspect, Senties said.

Police said Miles, who is in his freshman term, is licensed to carry a concealed weapon. No charges have been filed against Miles, Senties said.
Miles, a Democrat, voted against a bill that gives Texans stronger legal right to defend themselves with deadly force in their homes, vehicles, and workplaces. The so-called "castle doctrine," passed by the Legislature this year, states that a person has no duty to retreat from an intruder before using deadly force. The law goes into effect Sept. 1.
27480  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Envoy offers grim prediction on: July 10, 2007, 12:09:22 AM
Who is "a US official" and why is he trying to frame the debate before the report is actually written and released?  angry

The Surge has just finally reached full force, yet the same Congress that voted support for Gen. Petraeus has been yapping for months about how we have already "lost" (e.g. Sen. Harry Reid).  How on earth can Iraqis be expected to commit to working with the US when the Congress makes it clear every day that the big bug out is coming?!?  angry angry angry  Frankly I find this to be a despicable display of p*ss-poor partisanship, political cowardice and in many cases an profound absence of patriotic feeling.   Do these people not realize that Tehran TV broadcasts what they say?!? 

It is no coincidence that the stampede of the weak horses of Washington coincides with Syria predicting the outbreak of war in Lebanon in the next couple of weeks and Turkey lining up on the border of Kurdistan with a massive amount of troops and open declarations of intent to cross the border. 

The things these people say and do in Washington have real consequences and cost real lives-- shame!!!  angry angry angry

Gen Petraeus and President Bush asked for a chance with the Surge until mid-September.  This was and is a reasonable request and should be granted.

==============
NY Times

BAGHDAD, July 9 — As the Senate prepares to begin a new debate this week on proposals for a withdrawal from Iraq, the United States ambassador and the Iraqi foreign minister are warning that the departure of American troops could lead to sharply increased violence, the deaths of thousands and a regional conflict that could draw in Iraq’s neighbors.

Two months before a pivotal assessment of progress in the war that he and the overall American military commander in Iraq are to make to the White House and Congress in September, Ryan C. Crocker, the ambassador, laid out a grim forecast of what could happen if the policy debate in Washington led to a significant pullback or even withdrawal of American forces, perhaps to bases outside the major cities.

“You can’t build a whole policy on a fear of a negative, but, boy, you’ve really got to account for it,” Mr. Crocker said Saturday in an interview at his office in Saddam Hussein’s old Republican Palace, now the seat of American power here. Setting out what he said was not a policy prescription but a review of issues that needed to be weighed, the ambassador compared Iraq’s current violence to the early scenes of a gruesome movie.

“In the States, it’s like we’re in the last half of the third reel of a three-reel movie, and all we have to do is decide we’re done here, and the credits come up, and the lights come on, and we leave the theater and go on to something else,” he said. “Whereas out here, you’re just getting into the first reel of five reels,” he added, “and as ugly as the first reel has been, the other four and a half are going to be way, way worse.”

Hoshyar Zebari, the foreign minister, sounded a similar warning at a Baghdad news conference on Monday. “The dangers vary from civil war to dividing the country or maybe to regional wars,” he said, referring to an American withdrawal. “In our estimation the danger is huge. Until the Iraqi forces and institutions complete their readiness, there is a responsibility on the U.S. and other countries to stand by the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people to help build up their capabilities.”

Fearing that the last pillars of Republican support for the war were eroding, the White House invited Senators John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, who has been critical of the administration’s war policy, and Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, a supporter of the American troop presence, to the White House to ask them to delay votes on withdrawal until the administration delivers an interim progress report on the war, due in September.

Administration officials say Mr. Bush is considering a news conference on Iraq this week and is also likely to talk about it Tuesday during a trip to Cleveland that was intended to focus on his domestic agenda.

Although Senator Warner said he was inclined to heed the president’s request to delay a vote, the Democratic leader, Senator Harry Reid, of Nevada, said Monday afternoon that he would not wait. Indeed, hours later, the Senate began debate on the National Defense Authorization Act, the main military spending bill for the next budget year — and a vehicle for trying to force the administration to change its policy.

The bill calls for the military to balance the amount of time American troops spend overseas and on American soil, a measure that would limit troop deployments to Iraq.

While Senators Richard G. Lugar, of Indiana, and Pete V. Domenici, of New Mexico, and other Republicans have publicly urged a change of course, the Senate debate is testing party alliances. Mr. Warner and Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, are set to speak Tuesday morning at a rare bipartisan meeting to discuss Iraq. And Senator Olympia J. Snowe, a Maine Republican, said she was strongly supporting for the first time a bill with a specific timetable to remove troops from Iraq.

But the White House insisted Monday that Mr. Bush did not intend to change gears. “Don’t expect us to lift a veil and have a whole different strategy,” the spokesman, Tony Snow, said. “We’re not going to have a strategy jumping out of a cake.”

Mr. Crocker’s remarks echoed warnings that have been made for months by President Bush and other administration officials. But Mr. Crocker, a career diplomat,, seemed eager to emphasize that the report he and Gen. David H. Petraeus are to make in September — an event Mr. Bush and his war critics have presented as a watershed moment — would represent their professional judgment, unburdened by any reflex to back administration policy.

In the interview, which was requested by The New York Times, he said, “We’ll give the best assessment we can, and the most honest.” Unusually for American officials here, who have generally avoided any comparisons between the situation in Iraq and the war in Vietnam, he compared the task that he and General Petraeus face in reporting back in September to the one faced by Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker and Gen. Creighton W. Abrams Jr., the two top Americans in Vietnam when the decisions that led to the American withdrawal there were made nearly 40 years ago.

General Petraeus, too, has warned in recent months that while there is a high price for staying in Iraq, including mounting American casualties, the price for leaving could be higher than many war critics have acknowledged. Some opponents of the war have argued the contrary, saying that keeping American troops in Iraq provokes much of the violence and that withdrawing could force Iraq’s feuding politicians into burying their sectarian differences.
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In the interview, Mr. Crocker said he based his warning about what might happen if American troops left on the realities he has seen in the four months since he took up the Baghdad post, a knowledge of Iraq and its violent history dating back to a previous Baghdad posting more than 25 years ago, and lessons learned during an assignment in Beirut in the early 1980s. Then, he said, a “failure of imagination” made it impossible to foresee the extreme violence that enveloped Lebanon as it descended into civil war. He added, “And I’m sure what will happen here exceeds my imagination.”

On the potential for worsening violence after an American withdrawal from Iraq, he said: “You have to look at what the consequences would be, and you look at those who say we could have bases elsewhere in the country. Well yes, we could, but we would have the prospect of American forces looking on while civilians by the thousands were slaughtered. Not a pretty prospect.”

In setting out what he called “the kind of things you have to think about” before an American troop withdrawal, the ambassador cited several possibilities. He said these included a resurgence by the insurgent group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which he said had been “pretty hard-pressed of late” by the additional 30,000 troops Mr. Bush ordered deployed here this year; the risk that Iraq’s 350,000-strong security forces would “completely collapse” under sectarian pressures, disintegrating into militias; and the specter of interference by Iran, neighboring Sunni Arab states and Turkey.

The ambassador also suggested what is likely to be another core element of the approach that he and General Petraeus will take to the September report: that the so-called benchmarks for Iraqi government performance set by Congress in a defense authorization bill this spring may not be the best way of assessing whether the United States has a partner in the Baghdad government that warrants continued American military backing. “The longer I’m here, the more I’m persuaded that Iraq cannot be analyzed by these kind of discrete benchmarks,” he said.

After the Iraqi government drew up the first list of benchmarks last year, American officials used them as their yardstick, frequently faulting the Iraqis for failure to act on them, especially on three items the Americans identified as priorities: a new oil law sharing revenue between Iraq’s main population groups; a new “de-Baathification” law widening access to government jobs to members of Saddam Hussein’s former ruling party; and a law scheduling provincial elections to choose representative governments in areas where Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds are competing for power.

But Mr. Crocker said there were better ways to measure progress, including the levels of security across Iraq, progress in delivering basic services like electricity to the population, and steps by Iraqi leaders from rival groups to work more collaboratively.

Measured solely by the legislative benchmarks, he said, “you could not achieve any of them, and still have a situation where arguably the country is moving in the right direction. And conversely, I think you could achieve them all and still not be heading towards stability, security and overall success for Iraq.”

27481  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: July 09, 2007, 01:52:51 PM

Second post of the day:

"The eight Democratic presidential candidates assembled in Washington recently for another of their debates and talked, among other things, about public education. They all essentially agreed that it was underfunded -- one system 'for the wealthy, one for everybody else,' as John Edwards put it. Then they all got into cars and drove through a city where teachers are relatively well paid, per-pupil spending is through the roof and -- pay attention here -- the schools are among the very worst in the nation. When it comes to education, Democrats are ineducable.... [N]ot a one of them even whispered a word of outrage about a public school system that spends $13,000 per child -- third-highest among big-city school systems -- and produces pupils who score among the lowest in just about any category you can name. The only area in which the Washington school system is No. 1 is in money spent on administration. The litany of more and more when it comes to money often has little to do with what, in the military, are called facts on the ground: kids and parents. It does have a lot to do with teachers unions, which are strong supporters of the Democratic Party. Not a single candidate offered anything close to a call for real reform" -- Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen.
27482  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: July 09, 2007, 01:50:46 PM
Karl Clinton?

The Scooter Libby case may have ended with President Bush's decision to commute the former White House aide's sentence, but attendees at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado, an annual gathering of largely liberal philanthropists, still had to get some final words in.

At a Saturday question-and-answer session with Karl Rove, the White House aide came under fire for his alleged role in the revelation of CIA agent Valerie Plame's name. Mr. Rove outlined his minor role in the scandal, claimed he had cooperated fully with Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and emphasized that the original leaker of Ms. Plame's name was found to be Richard Armitage, then a top deputy to Secretary of State Colin Powell. "Remember, the underlying offense of Armitage talking to Novak was no violation. There was no indictment," said Mr. Rove.

At that point, Colin Powell, who was in the audience, stood up to provide his own version of the Plame affair. He agreed that no crime had been committed in revealing Ms. Plame's name and that Mr. Libby "got in trouble for an entirely different set of circumstances." Mr. Powell also expressed frustration with how the government's investigation had dragged on. "The FBI knew on Day 1 of Mr. Armitage's involvement, yet for two months after that the FBI kept investigating," he told the Aspen audience. "They kept investigating to see who else might be involved and when they finished their investigation -- they couldn't finish it. Therefore, a special counsel was brought in, Mr. Patrick Fitzgerald, who spent another two years on it.... I think this [would have better] ended early on and not dragged out the way it has been."

The crowd, which was clearly not sympathetic to the Bush administration, was polite during the discussion, in contrast to the incivility with which Mr. Rove was received by some when he appeared at the Ideas Festival last year. The change may have partly been due to his disarming manner. The White House aide began his remarks by noting he had enjoyed driving in from Denver the day before. Along the way, he stopped at an inn in the town of Twin Lakes for coffee. He noted that when a man standing in line at a the registration desk was told Karl Rove was on the premises, his instant response was: "I'd like to hit that son of a bitch."

Mr. Rove then deadpanned: "I knew I was getting close to Aspen." Once in Aspen, Mr. Rove said he had another interesting encounter when he arrived at the Aspen Institute.

"There's a guy in a Land Rover, very expensive, and he's got a car full of people, and takes one look at me, a scowl on his face, and says, 'Go home.' And as he goes off, I say, 'I am home.'" Mr. Rove noted that he had been born in Denver and lived in several Colorado towns, including one very close to Aspen, during his childhood.

All in all, Mr. Rove charmed the crowd. Indeed, Ross Douthat of the Atlantic magazine thinks Mr. Rove managed to "out-Clinton" former President Bill Clinton, who also appeared at the Ideas Festival. He says Mr. Rove won over the audience with his "jokey anecdotes" which were then followed up with a presentation that "drowned the crowd in policy detail, complete with a series of PowerPoint slides on immigration and global warming."

-- John Fund
Political Journal/WSJ
27483  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Particular Stocks on: July 09, 2007, 11:09:39 AM
Outstanding Rick-- thank you!

Any comments on a buy price for NETL?  Buy now? Put in an order at? etc
27484  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: July 09, 2007, 10:45:05 AM
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-towns9jul09,0,400506.story?coll=la-home-center

En ingles:  La policia de los pequenos pueblos cerca de la frontera se huyen de los narcotraficantes.
27485  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion on: July 09, 2007, 10:40:02 AM
The Hotair blog continues with its very aggressive studies in Islam:

http://hotair.com/archives/2007/07/08/blogging-the-qur’an-sura-2-“the-cow”-verses-211-221/
27486  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: July 09, 2007, 10:24:45 AM
editorial in The New York Observer, often called the paper of the liberal elite, described Mr. Clinton as ‘an untrustworthy lowlife who used people for his own purposes and then discarded them. How could they have been fooled so badly?’...[M]illions of Americans, including political hacks, media toadies, and grass-roots dupes, were unflinchingly loyal to Clinton throughout a scandal-drenched eight years, during which it was credibly charged or proven that he: seduced a 21-year-old White House intern, groped a visitor in the Oval Office, paid his way out of a pants-dropping charge, was credibly accused of rape, organized a White House hit team to assassinate the reputation of his accusers; took money from Chinese communist donors; entertained known criminals, drug dealers and arms smugglers at private White House gatherings; hid subpoenaed documents in the living quarters of the White House; rented out the Lincoln bedroom; sold seats on Air Force One; violated the War Powers Act; bombed an aspirin factory in Sudan; never uttered a word of regret for the 19 innocent babies and children who were burned to death at Waco; used the IRS and the FBI to attack political enemies; used taxpayer-paid lawyers and aides to defend himself against charges of sexual misconduct; lied under oath; lied when not under oath; shredded documents; suborned perjury; tampered with witnesses and obstructed justice... I remain hopeful that in time, the legacy of the Clinton presidency will be that its classic wretchedness awakened the American people from a soul-numbing, moral stupor.” —Linda Bowles
27487  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: July 09, 2007, 08:53:06 AM
WSJ:

The Gitmo Distraction
By DAVID B. RIVKIN, JR. and LEE A. CASEY
July 9, 2007; Page A15

Reports suggest that President Bush's top advisers are again wrestling with whether to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There is no doubt that holding captured al Qaeda and Taliban fighters at that facility has become a significant diplomatic liability.

But the potential foreign policy benefits of moving war on terror prisoners must be weighed against the very real strategic, tactical and legal costs that this decision would entail. After looking at these, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that maintaining the Guantanamo Bay facility is not only justifiable but necessary.

 
Perhaps the most important cost of closing Guantanamo would be strategic. From the start of this conflict, al Qaeda's strategy for victory has been to take maximum advantage of Western sensibilities and institutions, including public opinion and legal rules which limit what states can do in their own defense. The Bush administration sought to minimize the impact of this type of strategy by itself adopting a wartime legal paradigm, declaring a war against terror and using the full force of the United States military -- rather than relying primarily on American law-enforcement resources -- against al Qaeda and its allies. Detaining captured al Qaeda and Taliban operatives as enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay was, and remains, a central aspect of that policy and there is little doubt that abandoning it will be seen by al Qaeda as a failure of American nerve and a vindication of their strategic vision.

Closing Guantanamo would also be a victory for al Qaeda because the other alternatives for detaining captured jihadis either give terrorists a legal advantage. The status quo is the best option we have.

There are three basic alternatives to Guantanamo: First, transferring the detainees back to U.S. bases in Afghanistan (such as Bagram Air Base) or elsewhere in the world; second, bringing them to the U.S. to be housed, still as captured enemy combatants, at federal military or civilian prison facilities; or last, having brought them to American soil, processing the detainees through the criminal justice system as civilian defendants, much like the "20th" 9/11 hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui.

The first alternative, moving the detainees to a different overseas location, would incur considerable expense (the current facilities would have to be more or less replicated in another location) and would almost certainly provoke a constitutional crisis between the president and the Supreme Court. The justices have already ruled in Rasul v. Bush (2004) that Guantanamo Bay, based on its unique status as Cuban territory subject to the U.S.'s exclusive authority, is subject to federal court jurisdiction.

Although this case was wrongly decided in light of the court's other precedents, withdrawing detainees from Guantanamo now would prompt the Supreme Court to consider another expansion of federal judicial power, effectively following the detainees wherever they are moved. And, given swing Justice Anthony Kennedy's uncertain temper in war on terror cases, a five-justice majority may well find a pretext to do just that. The president would then be placed in the unenviable position of accepting judicial oversight not merely at Guantanamo Bay, but also in active, foreign theaters of war -- or ignoring the court's ruling.

The second alternative, bringing the detainees into the U.S., also would be no panacea. This too would be costly, involving creation of new maximum-security prison space in an already overcrowded federal system. Relocation to the homeland would also raise the potential for escapes into the civilian population and would open vast new litigation vistas for the detainees and their American lawyers -- including challenges not merely to their classification as enemy combatants, but to the ongoing conditions of their confinement as well. Although Congress could attempt to avoid this projected litigation explosion by statutorily limiting detainee rights -- as it did in the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act and 2006 Military Commissions Act -- there is no guarantee that these or similar provisions will withstand constitutional scrutiny once detainees are in the U.S. and subject to the U.S. Constitution.

This is especially true with regard to proposals for the creation of a type of administrative detention that would permit the most dangerous detainees to be held indefinitely -- without criminal trial in either civilian or military courts. Despite the rhetoric of the administration's critics, the detainees are not now subject to indefinite detention. Under the laws of war, they may be held until the armed conflict is over, at which time they must be tried or set free. The laws of war do not provide a basis for post-conflict preventative detention, and the constitutional basis for such detention is far from obvious. To date, the courts have accepted truly preventative detention in only very limited circumstances, generally involving cases in which the prisoner has a mental disease or defect.

Thus, even assuming that congressional Democrats would accommodate the administration's request for such legislation -- and they do not appear to be in an accommodating mood -- the government may still lose the inevitable legal challenges. These are likely to be even more difficult than the one arising in the Guantanamo context which the justices have docketed for next fall. The administration could find itself having to charge the detainees as civilian criminal defendants or watch the courts release them onto America's streets.

This frightening possibility is real enough, because the final option -- processing the detainees in the civilian court system -- is also not possible. Some of the detainees would not be subject to trial in the United States at all because, unless they have actively opposed U.S. forces or otherwise directly targeted U.S. nationals, they are not obviously subject to American criminal laws. Attacking U.S. allies is not necessarily an adequate basis for jurisdiction. However, even if the underlying statutory framework were available to prosecute most of the detainees as civilian criminals, the government would be fatally handicapped in presenting its case.

Leaving aside the fact that evidence against the detainees has not (and could not have) been collected at overseas battlefields in accordance with normal exacting police procedures, the Constitution requires that every element of a criminal charge be proved beyond a reasonable doubt by admissible evidence presented in open court. This would require the compromise of classified, national security information being used as the price of a conviction. Although proponents of a criminal law approach to al Qaeda often claim that the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) answers this objection, it does not.

CIPA permits the government to protect classified information throughout the pre-trial, including the "discovery," phase of a criminal prosecution. In addition, it allows the court to consider whether there are acceptable evidentiary alternatives to the admission of classified material at trial. However, if the court does not accept those alternatives, or if it concludes that the defendant would not receive a fair trial without the use of classified information, the government must accept the disclosure of that information (damaging the war effort) or see the case dismissed. Meanwhile, as was the case with the indefinite administrative detention option, any statutory restrictions on a defendant's right to have the evidence against him presented in open court -- another legislative option allegedly contemplated by the administration -- is neither likely to be adopted by Congress nor blessed by the courts.

Finally, in addition to these costs, the potential benefits of closing Guantanamo are illusory. The most commonly articulated reason for this step is to improve relations with our allies, especially in Europe. However, Europe's real objection is not to the detainees' location at a U.S. Naval Base in Cuba, but to their confinement as enemy combatants in the first place. By and large, Europe has never accepted that there is a "war" on terror. Moving detainees to Afghanistan or the U.S. will not change this.

To obtain any "public diplomacy" advantage from closing Guantanamo, the president must be prepared to declare an end to military operations against al Qaeda, and a return to the pre-9/11 policy mixture of law enforcement, diplomacy and surgical strikes against al Qaeda outposts that failed miserably. This is also why lesser changes at Guantanamo, such as inviting European allies to participate in both the operation and review of continued detentions, are impractical. Those allies simply do not believe there is a war in which these fighters can legally be held.

Just as nothing short of total U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would appease the administration's opponents, the critics of Guantanamo Bay will not be satisfied with anything other than abandonment of the war against al Qaeda. If, as the president says, a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would be a key defeat in the war on terror, ending that war itself -- leaving al Qaeda bruised, but very much in possession of the global battlefield -- would be an even greater calamity.

Messrs. Rivkin and Casey served in the Justice Department under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
27488  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Education on: July 09, 2007, 08:48:01 AM
WSJ:

The Culture Gap
By BRINK LINDSEY
July 9, 2007; Page A15

Cut through all the statistical squid ink surrounding the issue of economic inequality, and you'll find a phenomenon that genuinely deserves public concern.

Over the past quarter-century or so, the return on human capital has risen significantly. Or to put it another way, the opportunity cost of failing to develop human capital is now much higher than it used to be. The wage premium associated with a college degree has jumped to around 70% in recent years from around 30% in 1980; the graduate degree premium has soared to over 100% from 50%. Meanwhile, dropping out of high school now all but guarantees socioeconomic failure.

In part this development is cause for celebration. Rising demand for analytical and interpersonal skills has been driving the change, and surely it is good news that economic signals now so strongly encourage the development of human talent. Yet -- and here is the cause for concern -- the supply of skilled people is responding sluggishly to the increased demand.

Despite the strong incentives, the percentage of people with college degrees has been growing only modestly. Between 1995 and 2005, the share of men with college degrees inched up to 29% from 26%. And the number of high school dropouts remains stubbornly high: The ratio of 17-year-olds to diplomas awarded has been stuck around 70% for three decades.

Something is plainly hindering the effectiveness of the market's carrots and sticks. And that something is culture.

Before explaining what I mean, let me go back to the squid ink and clarify what's not worrisome about the inequality statistics. For those who grind their ideological axes on these numbers, the increase in measured inequality since the 1970s is proof that the new, more competitive, more entrepreneurial economy of recent decades (which also happens to be less taxed and less unionized) has somehow failed to provide widespread prosperity. According to left-wing doom-and-gloomers, only an "oligarchy" at the very top is benefiting from the current system.

Hogwash. This argument can be disposed of with a simple thought experiment. First, picture the material standard of living you could have afforded back in 1979 with the median household income then of $16,461. Now picture the mix of goods and services you could buy in 2004 with the median income of $44,389. Which is the better deal? Only the most blinkered ideologue could fail to see the dramatic expansion of comforts, conveniences and opportunities that the contemporary family enjoys.

Much of the increase in measured inequality has nothing to do with the economic system at all. Rather, it is a product of demographic changes. Rising numbers of both single-parent households and affluent dual-earner couples have stretched the income distribution; so, too, has the big influx of low-skilled Hispanic immigrants. Meanwhile, in a 2006 paper published in the American Economic Review, economist Thomas Lemieux calculated that roughly three-quarters of the rise in wage inequality among workers with similar skills is due simply to the fact that the population is both older and better educated today than it was in the 1970s.

It is true that superstars in sports, entertainment and business now earn stratospheric incomes. But what is that to you and me? If the egalitarian left has been reduced to complaining that people in the 99th income percentile in a given year (and they're not the same people from year to year) are leaving behind those in the 90th percentile, it has truly arrived at the most farcical of intellectual dead ends.

Which brings us back to the real issue: the human capital gap, and the culture gap that impedes its closure. The most obvious and heartrending cultural deficits are those that produce and perpetuate the inner-city underclass. Consider this arresting fact: While the poverty rate nationwide is 13%, only 3% of adults with full-time, year-round jobs fall below the poverty line. Poverty in America today is thus largely about failing to get and hold a job, any job.

The problem is not lack of opportunity. If it were, the country wouldn't be a magnet for illegal immigrants. The problem is a lack of elementary self-discipline: failing to stay in school, failing to live within the law, failing to get and stay married to the mother or father of your children. The prevalence of all these pathologies reflects a dysfunctional culture that fails to invest in human capital.

Other, less acute deficits distinguish working-class culture from that of the middle and upper classes. According to sociologist Annette Lareau, working-class parents continue to follow the traditional, laissez-faire child-rearing philosophy that she calls "the accomplishment of natural growth." But at the upper end of the socioeconomic scale, parents now engage in what she refers to as "concerted cultivation" -- intensively overseeing kids' schoolwork and stuffing their after-school hours and weekends with organized enrichment activities.

This new kind of family life is often hectic and stressful, but it inculcates in children the intellectual, organizational and networking skills needed to thrive in today's knowledge-based economy. In other words, it makes unprecedented, heavy investments in developing children's human capital.

Consider these data from the National Education Longitudinal Study, an in-depth survey of educational achievement. Among students who received high scores in eighth grade mathematics (and thus showed academic promise), 74% of kids from the highest quartile of socioeconomic status (measured as a composite of parental education, occupations and family income) eventually earned a college degree. By contrast, the college graduation rate fell to 47% for kids from the middle two quartiles, and 29% for those in the bottom quartile. Perhaps more generous financial aid might affect those numbers at the margins, but at the core of these big differentials are differences in the values, skills and habits taught in the home.

Contrary to the warnings of the alarmist left, the increase in economic inequality does not mean the economic system isn't working properly. On the contrary, the system is delivering more opportunities for comfortable, challenging lives than our culture enables us to take advantage of. Far from underperforming, our productive capacity has now outstripped our cultural capacity.

Alas, there is no silver bullet for closing the culture gap. But the public institutions most directly responsible for human capital formation are the nation's schools, and it seems beyond serious dispute that in many cases they are failing to discharge their responsibilities adequately. Those interested in reducing meaningful economic inequality would thus be well advised to focus on education reform. And forget about adding new layers of bureaucracy and top-down controls. Real improvements will come from challenging the moribund state-school monopoly with greater competition.

Mr. Lindsey is vice president for research at the Cato Institute and author of the just-published book, "The Age of Abundance: How Prosperity Transformed America's Politics and Culture" (Collins, 2007).
27489  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Evolutionary biology/psychology on: July 09, 2007, 08:11:42 AM

The International Hopology site http://www.hoplology.com/about.htm#three is well worth taking a look.

Its "Three Axioms" break down the aggressive instinct differently from Konrad Lorenz.

To refresh memories, KL wrote of three categories: Territory, Hierarchy, Reproduction.  To these three in the case of humans I have added Hunting e.g. a criminal stealing money in effect is taking food and his behaviors will be those of a hunter.

In contrast, as seen below, Hopology apparently has two categories.  My first intuitive response is that their approach also seems to have merit.

TAC,
CD
==============

Three Axioms of Hoplology

1. The foundation of human combative behavior is rooted in our evolution. To gain a realistic understanding of human combative behavior, it is necessary to have a basic grasp of its evolutionary background.

2. The two basic forms of human combative behavior are predatory and affective. Predatory combative behavior is that combative/aggressive behavior rooted in our evolution as a hunting mammal. Affective combative behavior is that aggressive/combative behavior rooted in our evolution as a group-social animal.

3. The evolution of human combative behavior and performance is integral with the use of weapons. That is, behavior and performance is intrinsically linked to and reflects the use of weapons.
27490  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Citizen-Police interactions on: July 09, 2007, 07:46:43 AM
Woof All:

Although there is already a LEO issues thread, the focus here is a bit different.  We are also looking at the rights of the citizen.

TAC
CD
=============================
By CWS on the WT forum:

This of course does not deal with the issue of a drug dog having a legal right to be brought by police to sniff your car (the Caballes case), but one thing is for sure. If you grant permission to search, search they will. And find they will. If all you have is an unlicensed weapon in your car, and no drugs, are you really worried about what a drug sniffing dog will find?

Secondly, even if you have drugs in the car, I am not sure an officer can hold you up indefinitely awaiting a drug dog to come sniff your car. One key element of the Caballes decision was that the whole matter occurred in 10 minutes, and during the time period the officer was still legitimately in ticket writing mode.

From the Caballes case: "A seizure that is justified solely by the interest in issuing a warning ticket to the driver can become unlawful if it is prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to complete that mission. In an earlier case involving a dog sniff that occurred during an unreasonably prolonged traffic stop, the Illinois Supreme Court held that use of the dog and the subsequent discovery of contraband were the product of an unconstitutional seizure. People v. Cox, 202 Ill. 2d 462, 782 N. E. 2d 275 (2002). We may assume that a similar result would be warranted in this case if the dog sniff had been conducted while respondent was being unlawfully detained."


KNOWLES v. IOWA

certiorari to the supreme court of iowa

No. 97-7597. Argued November 3, 1998--Decided December 8, 1998

An Iowa policeman stopped petitioner Knowles for speeding and issued him a citation rather than arresting him. The officer then conducted a full search of the car, without either Knowles' consent or probable cause, found marijuana and a "pot pipe," and arrested Knowles. Before his trial on state drug charges, Knowles moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that because he had not been arrested, the search could not be sustained under the "search incident to arrest" exception recognized in United States v. Robinson, 414 U. S. 218 . The trial court denied the motion and found Knowles guilty, based on state law giving officers authority to conduct a full-blown search of an automobile and driver where they issue a citation instead of making a custodial arrest. In affirming, the State Supreme Court applied its bright-line "search incident to citation" exception to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement, reasoning that so long as the officer had probable cause to make a custodial arrest, there need not in fact have been an arrest.


Held: The search at issue, authorized as it was by state law, nonetheless violates the Fourth Amendment. Neither of the two historical exceptions for the "search incident to arrest" exception, see Robinson, supra, at 234, is sufficient to justify the search in the present case. First, the threat to officer safety from issuing a traffic citation is a good deal less than in the case of a custodial arrest. While concern for safety during a routine traffic stop may justify the "minimal" additional intrusion of ordering a driver and passengers out of the car, it does not by itself justify the often considerably greater intrusion attending a full field-type search. Even without the search authority Iowa urges, officers have other, independent bases to search for weapons and protect themselves from danger. Second, the need to discover and preserve evidence does not exist in a traffic stop, for once Knowles was stopped for speeding and issued a citation, all evidence necessary to prosecute that offense had been obtained. Iowa's argument that a "search incident to citation" is justified because a suspect may try to hide evidence of his identity or of other crimes is unpersuasive. An officer may arrest a driver if he is not satisfied with the identification furnished, and the possibility that an officer would stumble onto evidence of an unrelated offense seems remote. Pp. 3-6.

569 N. W. 2d 601, reversed and remanded.
Rehnquist, C. J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Question:

As I understand it with a Terry Stop, wouldn't the motorist be free to go if he does not consent to a search given that asking for consent means the officer has no PC and has already given out the speeding ticket?

CWS:
From the actual Terry case:

"Where a reasonably prudent officer is warranted in the circumstances of a given case in believing that his safety or that of others is endangered, he may make a reasonable search for weapons of the person believed by him to be armed and dangerous regardless of whether he has probable cause to arrest that individual for crime or the absolute certainty that the individual is armed. Pp. 20-27.

(a) Though the police must, whenever practicable, secure a warrant to make a search and seizure, that procedure cannot be followed where swift action based upon on-the-spot observations of the officer on the beat is required. P. 20.
(b) The reasonableness of any particular search and seizure must be assessed in light of the particular circumstances against the standard of whether a man of reasonable caution is warranted in believing that the action taken was appropriate. Pp. 21-22.
(c) The officer here was performing a legitimate function of investigating suspicious conduct when he decided to approach petitioner and his companions. P. 22.
(d) An officer justified in believing that an individual whose suspicious behavior he is investigating at close range is armed may, to neutralize the threat of physical harm, take necessary measures to determine whether that person is carrying a weapon. P. 24.
(e) A search for weapons in the absence of probable cause to arrest must be strictly circumscribed by the exigencies of the situation. Pp. 25-26.
(f) An officer may make an intrusion short of arrest where he has reasonable apprehension of danger before being possessed of information justifying arrest. Pp. 26-27.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/03-923.ZO.html - Caballes case

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/97-7597.ZS.html - Knowles case
27491  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 09, 2007, 07:34:43 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The War Between Pakistan and its Ex-Proxies

After days of avoiding an all-out assault against the mosque/madrassa complex, Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf reportedly has issued orders to storm the Red Mosque in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. The government also has claimed that the Islamist militants holed up in the mosque include both wanted hard-core Pakistani jihadists and foreign fighters -- mostly Arabs -- affiliated with al Qaeda. The six-day security operation to dislodge Islamist militants from the Red Mosque thus appears to have entered a decisive stage.

The government's new claims could have some merit, thus warranting an examination of the facts associated with the operation. The Pakistanis, fearing possible public backlash in an already charged political atmosphere, have until now avoided taking the facility by force. Nonetheless, the government has brought in some of its best security units to flush the militants from the mosque. These include the army's 111th Brigade, its Special Services Group (SSG) commando force, the ninth wing of the Pakistan Rangers paramilitary force and the elite anti-terrorism squad of the Punjab police.

Despite being up against some 12,000 well-trained, professional and heavily armed security personnel, the militants inside the Red Mosque have managed to hold their ground. They have managed to survive several days of intense bombardment in the form of shelling and gunfire. Moreover, they managed to kill a commander of the SSG (a lieutenant colonel) during one operation late July 6.

All of this does not appear to be the work of mere seminary students who are followers of the rogue mullahs running the Red Mosque, perhaps boasting only a little experience handling an AK-47. Radical seminary students do not possess the skills to strategize against -- let alone hold off -- a superior force. Holding out in the face of insurmountable odds demands a certain level of nerve as well.

The leaders of the resistance in the mosque probably are battle-hardened jihadists, not a mere ragtag band of seminarian zealots, which raises a number of questions. How did these elements establish themselves in a major mosque in the South Asian country's capital, just a few miles from the city's diplomatic enclave, key government institutions and -- above all -- the headquarters of the country's premier spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate? How did the fighters procure the weapons and other supplies needed to sustain such a standoff without setting off alarms? Why are the militants able to make back-channel contacts with some key top officials even after the government has made it clear the fighters must surrender unconditionally?

The answers to such questions are not readily available, but the questions themselves bolster claims that the Pakistani state, especially its military and intelligence agencies, has been significantly infiltrated by jihadist elements. This has directly resulted from the army's past practice of employing Islamist militant actors to pursue its domestic and foreign policy objectives.

Pakistani media reported July 7 that a close relative of the mullahs controlling the Red Mosque is the driver for Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao, and he was also the driver for the minister's two predecessors. Meanwhile, the bodyguard of the deputy leader is an employee of the National Crisis Management Cell, led by retired Director-General Brig. Javed Iqbal Cheema -- who is also the Interior Ministry's spokesman.

Consequently, these militants are not just challenging the writ of the state; they enjoy a significant number of sympathizers within both the government and wider society. The military leadership led by Musharraf might have embarked upon a strategic shift as far as the role of Islam in state and society is concerned, but clearly a large number of people both inside and outside the government do not subscribe to his philosophy of "enlightened moderation."

Though radical Islamist forces constitute a minority, they constitute a significant one. And while the vast majority of Pakistanis do not support jihadists, they do not necessarily support Musharraf's agenda either. Overall, Pakistan lacks a national consensus regarding Islam's role in public affairs, something extremist and radical forces are exploiting.

Therefore, the Red Mosque operation does not amount to a one-off event. Rather, it is likely the beginning of a long confrontation between the state and radical/militant Islamist forces. Such a clash will involve military operations in areas such as the North-West Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, as well as nationwide social unrest.

stratfor.com
27492  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Particular Stocks on: July 09, 2007, 07:18:24 AM
I'ved asked Rick Neaton to come comment on your post.  I know that he is still following the Gilder universe and is particularly positive on LNOP.

As for David Gordon, try his excellent blog at http://eutrapelia.blogspot.com/
27493  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Wolves, Dogs and other canines on: July 09, 2007, 07:12:30 AM
Dog wins a race against time to bring aid to injured athlete
By Brian Metzler, Rocky Mountain News
December 19, 2006

A prominent Colorado adventure athlete can thank her dog and a Utah search-and-rescue team for saving her life after she fell and injured herself while running and spent two nights in subfreezing weather near Moab last week.
Danelle Ballengee, 35, of Dillon, will have surgery today at Denver Health Medical Center to repair a broken pelvis suffered while running with her dog near the Amasa Back Trail south of Moab last Wednesday.

She also is recovering from severe frostbite on her feet, internal bleeding and numerous cuts and bruises.

The two-time adventure racing world champion and elite triathlete, trail runner and mountain biker slipped on a patch of ice on Hurrah Pass and tumbled off three successive rock faces of 10 to 20 feet each.

A Grand County (Utah) Search and Rescue team on all-terrain vehicles found Ballengee at about 3:30 p.m. Friday after her dog, Taz, a 3-year-old German shepherd-golden retriever mix, led rescuers on a five-mile journey to the accident site.

"I'm just happy to be alive," she said. "I thought about my family and my friends and everything I do, and I just kept saying to myself, 'I can't die. I'm not ready to die.' But it would have been so easy to relax and curl up and die."

Ballengee left around noon Wednesday for what she thought would be a casual two- hour trail run in the 40-degree weather. She was wearing light running pants, two lightweight running shirts and a lightweight fleece top.

After the fall, Ballengee crawled about a quarter-mile on her hands and knees to try to find help.

During the night, she did sit-ups and kept her upper body moving to keep warm. She drank snowmelt from a puddle when the water in her hydration pack ran out and ate two packets of raspberry energy gel she had carried on the run.

Ballengee owns a home in Moab and spends a lot of time running, cycling, climbing and paddling there in preparation for adventure races. Sometimes she trains with friends but often just with Taz.

A Moab neighbor called Balengee's parents in Evergreen on Thursday after she hadn't seen any sign of Ballengee for more than a day.

"We've told her before to be safe and leave a note about where she's going, but that's not always possible," her mother, Peggy Ballengee, said Monday. "With all of the things Danelle does, we didn't really want to bother people. But we just had a gut feeling that we needed to do something, and thank God we did."

Police initially searched Ballengee's house for signs of foul play and notified authorities in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona about her missing vehicle. They also searched the Colorado River and nearby lakes on the advice of her parents, who thought she might have been kayaking.

Moab police found Ballengee's pickup truck at the Amasa Back trailhead at 12:30 p.m. Friday. As search-and-rescue personnel arrived, a dog matching the description of Taz was seen running around the trailhead.

"We were going to try to identify the dog, but the dog basically didn't want to be caught and instead turned around and headed back toward the trail," said Curt Brewer, chief deputy with the Grand County Sheriff's Office.

"When that happened, the search crew decided to follow the dog. And the dog took our rescue personnel right to her. I think we would have eventually found her, because we were in the right location, but the dog saved us some time," he said.

A helicopter airlifted Ballengee to St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction. She was moved to Denver on Saturday.

A titanium plate and pins will be inserted into her pelvis to repair the breaks. Doctors have told her it is unlikely that she will lose any toes because of the frostbite, but it could be two to six months before she can walk.

Nighttime temperatures dipped to the low 20s in the Moab area last week and reached the mid-40s during the day. A hunter died of exposure on Nov. 29 near Moab after getting stranded in the La Sal Mountains.

On the first night of Ballengee's ordeal, Taz slept with his head on her stomach, but the second night he was hesitant to get near her.

"The first night I couldn't really cuddle with him because I had to stay on my back, but he cuddled next to me and helped keep me warm," Danelle said. "But the second night he either got mad or he got a plan in his head.

"Either way, I just can't wait to give him a big hug. He has no idea how important he can be."
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_5223711,00.html

27494  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: July 08, 2007, 02:34:43 PM
Second post of the day:

Al Qaeda continues to commit suicide in Iraq.  More Iraqis are turning against al Qaeda for the crimes they commit. 
Real progess is showing in Baqubah on D +16 since the launch of operation Arrowhead Ripper: the Battle for Baqubah.
Please click here for photos and text: http://michaelyon-online.com/wp/baqubah-update-05-july-2007.htm

Sincerely,
Michael Yon
Baqubah, Iraq
27495  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine on: July 08, 2007, 01:36:07 PM
All:

I am completely clueless in these matters, but this URL http://www.nccpeds.com/sdrive/opmed/rangermedichandbook2007.pdf seems well worth the time for those looking to develop in this area.  It is military, so a large percentage of the contents are militarily driven, but there seems to be a lot of civilian relevant content as well.

TAC,
CD
27496  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Interest in a DBMA Class in Redondo Beach? on: July 08, 2007, 08:40:15 AM
After a post-Gathering break, we are now gearing up again.  If you wish to apply for this class, please email me at Craftydog@dogbrothers.com
27497  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: July 08, 2007, 08:28:14 AM
Any comments on last night's UFC?
27498  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: July 08, 2007, 07:31:30 AM
A Whistleblower's Tale
Remember Oil for Food? Here's the story of how the U.N. propped up Pyongyang.

BY MELANIE KIRKPATRICK
Sunday, July 8, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

It's been more than six months since the U.S. first shone a light on the corruption in the United Nations Development Program in North Korea--a scandal potentially involving tens of millions of dollars used to help prop up the nuclear-armed regime of one of the world's most dangerous dictators. But never mind. It's all a Bush administration plot.

Such, apparently, is the considered view of the UNDP, which has spent the past half-year variously disputing the U.S. disclosures, justifying UNDP actions on "humanitarian" grounds, or offering an everyone-does-it defense. Ad Melkert, the former Dutch politician who is the No. 2 official at the UNDP and the point person for oversight of the program, even threatened to "retaliate" against the U.S., according to Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

In any case, Mr. Melkert seems to be more worried about his own job than the integrity of the organization he leads. In a June 23 article titled, "Smear Campaign, U.S. Against Melkert," the Dutch daily De Telegraaf, citing "insiders at the UNDP," reported that "conservative forces in the American government want the scalp of Ad Melkert."

So it's perhaps the right moment for a reality check courtesy of the man who blew the whistle on it all--Artjon Shkurtaj, an Albanian-born accountant who served as chief of operations for all U.N. operations in North Korea from November 2004 to September 2006. Mr. Shkurtaj--a veteran of UNDP programs in Bangladesh, East Timor, Kosovo, Mexico, India and elsewhere--was outraged at the violations he encountered in North Korea. After two years of trying to persuade his superiors at UNDP headquarters in New York to take corrective action, he took his information to the U.S. mission to the U.N. in May 2006. The UNDP responded by firing him this March.





A preliminary report by U.N. auditors, issued last month, confirms massive violations of U.N. rules regarding hiring practices, the use of foreign currency, and inspections of U.N.-funded projects. In a series of interviews in New York, Mr. Shkurtaj says the auditors (who were barred by North Korea from going there) barely scratched the surface of the misconduct.
We get quickly to the bottom line: Did the U.N. money go to the humanitarian projects it was supposed to fund? "How the hell do I know?" responds Mr. Shkurtaj--oversight was so poor, the involvement of North Korean workers assigned by the government so extensive and the use of cash so prevalent, that it was impossible to follow the money trail.

Mr. Shkurtaj arrived in North Korea on Nov. 4, 2004. He says one of his first indications that something was amiss was when checks denominated in euros and made out to "cash" arrived on his desk for signature. "Rule No. 1 in every UNDP country in the world is that you have to operate in local currency," he says, "not in hard currency. It's the rule No. 1 of development . . . in order to support the local economy and not devalue or destroy the local currency."

"I didn't sign the checks for about a week," he says, and then "it became a real mess. Headquarters contacted me, and said, 'Don't become a problem. You're going to wind up a PNG, a persona non grata, and ending up a PNG means the end of your career with the U.N. . . . We are authorizing you to go ahead and sign the checks. . . . So I started signing."

"Every morning from 8 to 10, we would issue checks" in euros for staff and projects, Mr. Shkurtaj says. "Then the checks, instead of going directly to the people or institutions by mail, as they should go [as specified by U.N. rules], the checks were given to the driver of our office." The driver would take them to the Foreign Trade Bank, where he would "exchange them into cash and come back to the office." North Korea did not permit Mr. Shkurtaj to have access to the UNDP's accounts at the Foreign Trade Bank, which refused even to keep his signature on file.

Then, every day at noontime, "North Koreans saying they represented U.N.-funded projects would come to receive cash at the UNDP offices." Mr. Shkurtaj says he was not allowed to require the North Koreans to sign receipts for the money or even to present IDs. "I had to trust them," he says. "But, hey, if headquarters tells me to give the money away, I'll give the money away."





On Aug. 16, 2006, a few weeks before Mr. Shkurtaj left North Korea, the UNDP resident representative, Timo Pakkala, issued a memo to the staff noting "an increased use of cash payments, in some cases to payees that are not authorized to receive payments." Citing "UNDP policy," Mr. Pakkala ordered future payments be made by bank transfer or "non-cash cheque." He also ordered staff to obtain receipts and not give money to unidentified people.
Mr. Shkurtaj says nothing happened. "The same routine continued." On Jan. 31, in a memo to Kemal Dervis, head of the UNDP, he urged that "the cashing of checks from the UNDP driver must be stopped and UNDP must demand access to the Foreign Trade Bank in all transactions with our accounts."

As the recent U.N. audit confirmed, the North Koreans who worked at UNDP were selected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which also collected their salaries; both practices were violations of U.N. rules. Mr. Shkurtaj notes, too, that North Koreans selected by the government performed "core" functions such as dispensing cash--another violation of the rules. All communications tools--fax and telex equipment, computer servers, the local area network--"were in the hands of the North Koreans." "All the backup data [for the office's computers] were in a storage place completely isolated with a North Korean the chief of it." When Mr. Shkurtaj wanted to file a secure report, "I would go use the telex and communications satellite at the German Embassy or other embassies in the compound."

A North Korean--Li Kum Sun--controlled the office safe in her job as "finance officer." "Damn it," says Mr. Shkurtaj, "you had security-evacuation plans in the hands of a North Korean. It's unbelievable." One of his few on-the-job successes was to get control of the safe and petty cash taken away from Ms. Li and handed over to him in March 2006.

The U.N. audit also found numerous irregularities regarding on-site inspections of UNDP projects. Most projects are located outside Pyongyang, and Mr. Shkurtaj says one way to determine whether the required annual field visits actually took place is whether the inspectors filed expense accounts. "Everybody--meaning one driver, one translator . . . and one or two international staff would have received per diems," he says, or submitted vouchers for gas or overtime. "That is the proof that people checked the project." Yet, "in nearly two years in North Korea. . . . I signed for a maximum of two or three" such trips.

Mr. Shkurtaj recounts two inspections he attempted to carry out himself. In one case, UNDP paid for 300 computers intended for Kim Il Sung University. "Instead of the computers coming to UNDP, they went to a warehouse outside town, and we were allowed to inspect them only after a month and a half of fighting [with the government]. Then we were allowed to inspect only one computer in one box. The other boxes were not allowed to be opened."

Another inspection charade involved GPS equipment supposedly going to an agricultural project on flood control. "They didn't allow us for 3 1/2 months to see the GPSs that we gave them," Mr. Shkurtaj says.

Finally, he says, "they took us to the outskirts of Pyongyang, to an empty building, completely empty--no desk, no chairs, no nothing. We come in and go to the first floor. Empty. We go to the second floor. Empty. On the last door of the second floor, we enter. There is only one desk in the middle of the room, and on the desk are the GPS devices that we provided. Now, you're telling me we are providing GPS devices for an empty building, without people working inside?"





During the years he worked for UNDP in Pyongyang, Mr. Shkurtaj says he filed numerous reports to his superiors but got nowhere. Finally, with several months to go in his tour of duty in North Korea, he was recalled to New York.
He says that David Lockwood, deputy assistant administrator of the UNDP, told him, "Look, it would be good for your future if you come to New York and from here we'll send you somewhere else in the world. But you have rocked the boat too much right now and you should leave for your own good."

Mr. Shkurtaj's last day in North Korea was Sept. 26, 2006. When his contract came up for renewal in March--the vast majority of U.N. employees operate under work contracts--he was told that after 13 years of employment at UNDP his services would no longer be needed.

A few months before his dismissal, he received an "outstanding" rating in his annual review, dated Dec. 14, 2006, and signed by Romulo Garcia, chief of the Northeast Asia and Mekong Division. Mr. Garcia described Mr. Shkurtaj as "quick, professional, highly competent, creative, hard working and dedicated."

Mr. Shkurtaj has filed a complaint with the U.N. Ethics Office, asking for reinstatement under the U.N. whistleblower protection policy. Yesterday Rep. Ilena Ros-Lehtinen, ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon asking him to look into Mr. Shkurtaj's dismissal. His case "appears to be a fundamental test of the UN's whistleblower protection policy, one of the touted hallmarks of internal U.N. reform in recent years," she writes. "It is also highly relevant to whether UNDP has adequately internalized the need for increased transparency and accountability." Her request followed a similar letter to Mr. Ban last week from Sen. Norman Coleman, asking that Mr. Shkurtaj be accorded whistleblower protection.

Meanwhile, Mr. Shkurtaj has sent his wife and two children home to Italy--he is an Italian citizen--and is fast depleting his savings. He says he is "living like a bum" in New York.

Ms. Kirkpatrick is a deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page.
27499  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: July 08, 2007, 07:19:42 AM


ON THE FRONT
WSJ
Iran's Proxy War
Tehran is on the offensive against us throughout the Middle East. Will Congress respond?

BY JOSEPH LIEBERMAN
Friday, July 6, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Earlier this week, the U.S. military made public new and disturbing information about the proxy war that Iran is waging against American soldiers and our allies in Iraq.

According to Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner, the U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, the Iranian government has been using the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah to train and organize Iraqi extremists, who are responsible in turn for the murder of American service members.

Gen. Bergner also revealed that the Quds Force--a special unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps whose mission is to finance, arm and equip foreign Islamist terrorist movements--has taken groups of up to 60 Iraqi insurgents at a time and brought them to three camps near Tehran, where they have received instruction in the use of mortars, rockets, improvised explosive devices and other deadly tools of guerrilla warfare that they use against our troops. Iran has also funded its Iraqi proxies generously, to the tune of $3 million a month.

Based on the interrogation of captured extremist leaders--including a 24-year veteran of Hezbollah, apparently dispatched to Iraq by his patrons in Tehran--Gen. Bergner also reported on Monday that the U.S. military has concluded that "the senior leadership" in Iran is aware of these terrorist activities. He said it is "hard to imagine" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei--Iran's supreme leader--does not know of them.





These latest revelations should be a painful wakeup call to the American people, and to the U.S. Congress. They also expand on a steady stream of public statements over the past six months by David Petraeus, the commanding general of our coalition in Iraq, as well as other senior American military and civilian officials about Iran's hostile and violent role in Iraq. In February, for instance, the U.S. military stated that forensic evidence has implicated Iran in the death of at least 170 U.S. soldiers.
Iran's actions in Iraq fit a larger pattern of expansionist, extremist behavior across the Middle East today. In addition to sponsoring insurgents in Iraq, Tehran is training, funding and equipping radical Islamist groups in Lebanon, Palestine and Afghanistan--where the Taliban now appear to be receiving Iranian help in their war against the government of President Hamid Karzai and its NATO defenders.

While some will no doubt claim that Iran is only attacking U.S. soldiers in Iraq because they are deployed there--and that the solution, therefore, is to withdraw them--Iran's parallel proxy attacks against moderate Palestinians, Afghans and Lebanese directly rebut such claims.

Iran is acting aggressively and consistently to undermine moderate regimes in the Middle East, establish itself as the dominant regional power and reshape the region in its own ideological image. The involvement of Hezbollah in Iraq, just revealed by Gen. Bergner, illustrates precisely how interconnected are the different threats and challenges we face in the region. The fanatical government of Iran is the common denominator that links them together.

No responsible leader in Washington desires conflict with Iran. But every leader has a responsibility to acknowledge the evidence that the U.S. military has now put before us: The Iranian government, by its actions, has all but declared war on us and our allies in the Middle East.

America now has a solemn responsibility to utilize the instruments of our national power to convince Tehran to change its behavior, including the immediate cessation of its training and equipping extremists who are killing our troops.

Most of this work must be done by our diplomats, military and intelligence operatives in the field. But Iran's increasingly brazen behavior also presents a test of our political leadership here at home. When Congress reconvenes next week, all of us who are privileged to serve there should set aside whatever partisan or ideological differences divide us to send a clear, strong and unified message to Tehran that it must stop everything it is doing to bring about the death of American service members in Iraq.

It is of course everyone's hope that diplomacy alone can achieve this goal. Iran's activities inside Iraq were the central issue raised by the U.S. ambassador to Iraq in his historic meeting with Iranian representatives in Baghdad this May. However, as Gen. Bergner said on Monday, "There does not seem to be any follow-through on the commitments that Iran has made to work with Iraq in addressing the destabilizing security issues here." The fact is, any diplomacy with Iran is more likely to be effective if it is backed by a credible threat of force--credible in the dual sense that we mean it, and the Iranians believe it.





Our objective here is deterrence. The fanatical regime in Tehran has concluded that it can use proxies to strike at us and our friends in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine without fear of retaliation. It is time to restore that fear, and to inject greater doubt into the decision-making of Iranian leaders about the risks they are now running.
I hope the new revelations about Iran's behavior will also temper the enthusiasm of some of those in Congress who are advocating the immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Iran's purpose in sponsoring attacks on American soldiers, after all, is clear: It hopes to push the U.S. out of Iraq and Afghanistan, so that its proxies can then dominate these states. Tehran knows that an American retreat under fire would send an unmistakable message throughout the region that Iran is on the rise and America is on the run. That would be a disaster for the region and the U.S.

The threat posed by Iran to our soldiers' lives, our security as a nation and our allies in the Middle East is a truth that cannot be wished or waved away. It must be confronted head-on. The regime in Iran is betting that our political disunity in Washington will constrain us in responding to its attacks. For the sake of our nation's security, we must unite and prove them wrong.

Mr. Lieberman is an Independent Democratic senator from Connecticut.
27500  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 08, 2007, 07:13:57 AM


Survivor
One of Iraq's most controversial politicians offers thoughts on the "surge," Iran and where we go from here.
WSJ
BY MELIK KAYLAN
Saturday, July 7, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

BAGHDAD--"these people need help. The army must help them more. The government must help them more. They have been fighting alone against a vicious enemy, fighting for all of us to make our country safe."

I'm in Diyala province, watching Ahmed Chalabi shouting into a TV camera over the sound of mortar shells. He's imploring the Iraqi state to support tribesmen fighting off al Qaeda attacks such as the one we're now experiencing.

In the end our entourage, which had driven from Baghdad for lunch with local leaders, escaped unharmed. But the episode showed--as so many events in his turbulent past few years have--that Mr. Chalabi is hardly the transient opportunist that his detractors at the State Department, CIA and on the antiwar left once made him out to be. He's still in Iraq, despite long ago losing whatever American support he once had and failing to win a seat in the last parliamentary election. (He was deputy prime minister in Iraq's first elected government.) And almost alone among the Iraqi political figures, he not only lives but travels widely outside the Green Zone.

Last month, I spent some days in Mr. Chalabi's company in and out of the capital, and at his residence in a well-fortified warren of cul-de-sacs in the wealthy, but dangerous, Mansour district. Though he's not in the current Maliki government, he is still courted by the state and given key appointments. He heads up the De-Baathification program and the Committee for Public Support of the "surge," which engages in reconciliation activities like reopening Sunni mosques in Shiite neighborhoods. Community leaders from all sides troop through his doors daily.

Returning residents back to their purged neighborhoods, Mr. Chalabi says, "is a slow process because people have to learn to trust each other all over again. . . . They're often glad to see their old neighbor again, and it can be very emotional and moving. But underneath it you can't be sure because, after all, they've had brothers or fathers killed, perhaps by people in their neighborhood--reconciliation takes time."

On one occasion, in the post-prayer evening hours, we visited the football-field sized mosque complex of Khadimiya in Baghdad. It is one of Iraq's top Shiite holy sites decorated intricately with floral tiling and cut-mirror facades. Wearing his trademark suit and tie, Mr. Chalabi was continuously mobbed by crowds of women and children, astonished and delighted that a famous official should appear in public and lend an ear to their complaints. Not an hour before, a motorbike-borne suicide bomber had been disarmed nearby.





Mr. Chalabi would appear to be the nearest thing Iraqis currently possess to a genuine walk-and-talk democratic politician, one who will risk life and limb to embody the principle personally. In fact, the U.S.'s main error in Iraq, according to Mr. Chalabi, has been trying to micromanage the development of Iraqi politics. "The U.S. should make a choice," he says, "either to accept full democracy and live with the consequences or undertake full control. They keep trying to 'give local initiatives a boost' instead of letting Iraqi democracy succeed on its own. When you make your own mistakes, you learn. When outsiders make them, unfortunately, they get treated as the enemy."
His recounting of post-war Iraqi history--which began with the high-handed regency of L. Paul Bremer and then the appointed Iraqi government of Ayad Allawi--returns again and again to this point.

"The problems began when the U.S. declared an official occupation," he says. "We told the U.S. not to have an occupation, that it would be a disaster. We never intended that. We wanted the Iraqis to run their own affairs, but we were not trusted to do that. Two years ahead of time, we asked [the U.S.] for a 10,000 man multiethnic military police force of Iraqis to be trained. . . . We were refused."

Mr. Chalabi continues: "We could have prevented the looting and the disbanding of the army. We planned to deploy in front of the army barracks, to disarm the soldiers and keep them in their barracks and tell them 'we are your brothers. Help us run the country, keep order and have democracy.' We intended to pay them, and absorb them selectively into our ranks. We had good intelligence. We knew who was who. Look at it now. The U.S. has had six intelligence chiefs since the war started. They keep changing. Do the allies get any useful intelligence?"





With such views, Mr. Chalabi quickly added parts of the Bush administration to his enemies on the antiwar left. Relations became so strained during the Bremer-era that on May 20, 2004, U.S. soldiers raided his offices in Baghdad. He was also accused of leaking intelligence to Iranian operatives inside Iraq to the effect that the U.S. had broken their communication codes. From Mr. Chalabi's side the accusation meets with a ready dismissal: "It's strange that the Iranians then used the same code to inform Tehran of the fact."
But Mr. Chalabi remains unrepentant in his criticism of what he calls "elementary mistakes" by the U.S., which he believes would not have happened if Iraqis had run things from the start. "We always said, keep the allied military here for a while, but not as part of an occupation government--that was the point. . . . When the president said 'Mission Accomplished' he should have followed through and handed civilian government over to Iraqis, as was originally agreed."

So much for the past. Does he think the "surge" will succeed? "Not if it's just a military action," he says. "It's intended as a political initiative backed by military force. It creates the opportunity for political initiatives to work but they must be pursued. It won't work forever without underlying political agreements. If Sadr City stayed quiet for some months, it's because there was a political rapprochement and Moqtada al Sadr agreed to rein in his militia. But paradoxically, the overall political scene may not clarify while the U.S. is too engaged--all sides are waiting for the real Iraq to emerge from underneath the U.S. shadow. Only when they have to face each other directly will Iraqis make their deals."

Mr. Chalabi's hardheaded views on the allied occupation have an implicit flipside: that some beneficent outcome can still be shaped from the chaos, and that Iraq can gain stability even (or especially) without U.S. ballast. Doesn't he think, as most outside commentators do, that a U.S. withdrawal will create an all-out regional conflict, sucking in nearby countries? "I'd say it's possible but not probable. Look at everyone who works for me, from all sides of Iraqi society. People want peace. They want to go back to their homes. If the U.S. leaves, the present government will fall and there will be elections quickly." To Mr. Chalabi's thinking, this will improve things because Iraqis will choose their real leaders, and they will be accountable to the electorate for delivering peace and practical benefits such as electricity and water.

"Still, in the end," he says, "U.S. policy in Iraq will not be determined by the interests of Iraqis but by U.S. strategic interests and by U.S. domestic pressures. The Iraqi conflict's domestic unpopularity will drive America's decisions on its presence here. In my view, being constructive in preventing conflict is the surest way for the U.S. to exercise positive influence in the region. Iraq is a very strategic country. It borders six countries including the Gulf, so it's in U.S. interests to keep it stable and to keep influence in it."





After listening to Mr. Chalabi over time, one learns how to hear the meaning in his more cautious phrases. By the "real Iraq" he likely means the majority, Shiite-dominated Iraq. He talks about how "the Sunnis have lost the battle for Baghdad," and that the Arab states, having incited them to fight, ultimately abandoned them in ways comparable to the Palestinian conflicts with Israel. He believes that the Sunnis will ultimately face reality and make accommodation with fellow Iraqis once they accept that they are an even smaller minority than previously thought--some 80% Shiite to 20% Sunni in Baghdad by his estimates.
This perhaps is what Mr. Chalabi means by "letting Iraqi democracy succeed"--that is, letting the sheer weight of numbers dictate. "Being constructive in preventing conflict" likely refers to the U.S. reining in Arab support of Sunni Baathists and al Qaeda in Iraq.

Mr. Chalabi has had a lifelong feud with Baathists and one feels that he regards their car bombs as more dangerous and destructive to Iraq's future than the Shiite militias. Still, he defends his position as evenhanded. "With Baathists, it's more complicated than Sunni vs. Shiite," he says. "There were more Shiite than Sunni Baathists. The Shiites hate them, whereas in Sunni areas they're quite popular." In his de-Baathification program, he has, he says, returned most of the Baathists either to their jobs or pensions. "There were some 1.2 million party members, and we have reintegrated all but some 30,000, and those are the hardcore ones, and only 6,000 of those don't have their pensions. [The U.S.] now wants us to return all the Baathists to their former positions or comparable ones, but with the old military and security personnel, that's impossible. They're too hated. We just can't do it."

It's dangerous, Mr. Chalabi believes, even to return Sunni Baathists to certain key strategic posts such as those responsible for guarding electricity plants. He draws a rough 'S'-shaped diagram and says, "Saddam positioned electric plants around Baghdad in that configuration. The very people he put in charge of protecting them are now wrecking them to choke the city. That's one reason why we don't have electricity."





Most interesting perhaps are Mr. Chalabi's views on Iran, which differ substantially from the alarm expressed by many of his current and former American backers. "The influence of Iran on Iraq is inevitable," he says. "It's been there for centuries. They supported the anti-Saddam resistance for years. They were the first to accept trade agreements, transit rights, electricity linkups and the like with the new Iraqi government. Some 90% of Iraq's population lives within 100 miles of Iran. We have an enormous land border in common and it's the only country that ships goods to us unhindered."
"I understand the U.S. has worries about Iranian power so here's a solution," he continues. "Let us quantify and monitor the amount of Iranian influence: Let's make an agreement on how much trade, how much electricity, how many trucks and so on can come through. Iraq needs as many friends as possible and nobody wants to be dependent on one source of help. Everything can be worked out. We will have to in the end anyway. What choice is there?"

Mr. Kaylan is a writer living in New York.
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