Dog Brothers Public Forum
Return To Homepage
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
April 21, 2014, 02:44:55 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
79174 Posts in 2226 Topics by 1037 Members
Latest Member: DCoutinho
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 ... 548 549 [550] 551 552 ... 593
27451  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / What it takes to make a student on: November 26, 2006, 07:56:17 AM
What It Takes to Make a Student
Today's NY Times
Published: November 26, 2006
On the morning of Oct. 5, President Bush and his education secretary, Margaret Spellings, paid a visit, along with camera crews from CNN and Fox News, to Friendship-Woodridge Elementary and Middle Campus, a charter public school in Washington. The president dropped in on two classrooms, where he asked the students, almost all of whom were African-American and poor, if they were planning to go to college. Every hand went up. ?See, that?s a good sign,? the president told the students when they assembled later in the gym. ?Going to college is an important goal for the future of the United States of America.? He singled out one student, a black eighth grader named Asia Goode, who came to Woodridge four years earlier reading ?well below grade level.? But things had changed for Asia, according to the president. ?Her teachers stayed after school to tutor her, and she caught up,? he said. ?Asia is now an honors student. She loves reading, and she sings in the school choir.?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Page 2 of 9)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Page 3 of 9)

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

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

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

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

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

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

The working-class and poor families Lareau studied did things differently. In fact, they raised their children the way most parents, even middle-class parents, did a generation or two ago. They allowed their children much more freedom to fill in their afternoons and weekends as they chose ? playing outside with cousins, inventing games, riding bikes with friends ? but much less freedom to talk back, question authority or haggle over rules and consequences. Children were instructed to defer to adults and treat them with respect. This strategy Lareau named accomplishment of natural growth.
27452  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ballot Problems Persist on: November 26, 2006, 07:32:30 AM
It is a rare event when I vote Democrat, but I did so for Debra Bowen for CA Sec'y of State precisely because of her concerns on this issue which the Rep. simply did not share, as well as for her good reputation as a serious, hardworking member of the legislature.

From todays's NY Times:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(Page 2 of 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27453  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: A Post From Our Piazza member on: November 26, 2006, 07:01:33 AM
We have been having a tremendous problem with spambots.  After the one episode where our registered members got sent some nasty porn, my wife has been quite vigilant.  If she has inadvertently culled some real people, please let her know.  I will bring this thread to her attention.
27454  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'America Alone' on: November 26, 2006, 01:21:17 AM
1) Much stricter immigration laws, rigorously enforced How? Big walls? More border control agents? Incentives to home countries to keep their emmigrants home? Deportation? Quotas? For all the recent talk on border security, we seem to not be making any progress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MD:  Until 911 America and its Muslims were doing pretty well.  Since then its hard to see through the smoke.
27455  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: European matters on: November 26, 2006, 01:02:08 AM

Friday, November 24, 2006

 Fear of terrorism, which has seized Europe after the Sept. 11, Madrid and London attacks, has put more pressure on Muslims, who are now being treated as ?potential terrorists.?
Following statements in Britain that more than 600 Muslims were being monitored, Germany announced that 32,000 German Muslims were under surveillance.
Chair of the Bavaria Office for Protection of the Constitution, Wolfgang Weber stated that 32,000 out of 2,300,000 German Muslims were being monitored. Speaking at a panel in Munich, Weber, claiming that they were watching everybody who endangered the German democratic order, classified those who were monitored into three groups: 1) Those who wanted to establish an Islamic state based on Shariah law without resorting to violence, such as National Vision; 2) Those who collected donations for the violent groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah; 3) Jihadist groups, such as al-Qaeda, and Ansar al-Islam. Weber asserted that Germany has become a venue where terrorists finalize their preparations.
Weber, who also responded with hesitancy to the proposal to establish dialogue with Muslim associations, noted that dialogue attempts should be conducted with the utmost care. Hep Monatzeder, Deputy Chair of Munich Municipality on Relations with Muslim, criticized Weber?s isolationist approach. Noting that the intelligence reports were based on assumptions, not on evidence and facts, Monatzeder stated: ?The inclusion of the name of an association in those reports does not mean all of its members pose danger. Muslim associations carry out a wide range of activities; we are unable to isolate those who benefit from those. We should continue dialogue.?
Speaking at the panel, Chair of Muslim Council Memduh Kapicibasi, who stressed that they felt offended by the connection made between Islam and terrorism, proposed the use of the notion ?religion-motivated violence.?
Media exaggerates the danger
Speaking to Zaman, Wolfgang Weber, Chair of the Bavaria Office for Protection of the Constitution, said that the terrorism threat had been exaggerated by the media. Noting that the point of view and the degree of exaggeration varied according to the channel and newspaper, Weber said they mostly focused on Islamic radicalism and extreme right wing groups, and further confessed that they had intelligence agents inside the Muslim associations.
Number of Mosques Rising, Churches Declining A recently conducted research in Germany revealed that the number of mosques was increasing, while the number of churches was declining. According to the study by Central Islamic Archive Institute, the number of mosques has risen from 141 to 159 since 2004, while 128 were under construction. Likewise, the number of Muslims has increased from 56,000 to nearly one million since the early 1980s.
27456  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Immigration issues on: November 25, 2006, 01:04:37 AM
Peggy Noonan, as usual, in fine form:

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

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

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

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

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

"But" he then said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27457  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 25, 2006, 12:58:25 AM
 November 25, 2006
1:54am EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visit the Patriot Shop for the Internet's best selection of official Military Insignia items and Patriot gifts.

The American Spectator
The voice of the true conservative -- Ben Stein, the Washington Prowler and R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.

Keep Our Markets Free
Investing commentary from a conservative perspective.

Promote Your Company
Distribute a news release with PR
Newswire and create visibility.

It's Just Lunch

Wall Street Careers

CRM Software
Free 30-Day Trial and Demo.

$100k+ job search


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27458  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Muslims, Nazis, and far right hate groups echo anti-semitisim on: November 25, 2006, 12:00:51 AM
This post is not a perfect fit for this thread, but rather than start another thread here it is:


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

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

By Charles Krauthammer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(c) 2006, The Washington Post Writers Group
27459  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 24, 2006, 02:55:05 PM
Today's NY Slimes:

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

Skip to next paragraph
The New York Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Page 2 of 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Ms. Allen of the Border Action Network and other immigrant rights supporters suspect that people are simply crossing elsewhere
27460  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: European matters on: November 24, 2006, 02:50:38 PM
Following up on the Danish cartoon provacateurs (sp?) :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The question remains why the Danish government puts up with these scoundrels and does not simply boot them out. France has rid itself of more than 20 extremist imams, as has Germany, while Spain and Italy each have deported four, and Holland three. Denmark so far has kicked none out. Surely, enough is enough.
27461  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mexico-US matters on: November 24, 2006, 02:39:46 PM
Today's NY Slimes:

Today's NY Slimes:

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

Skip to next paragraph
The New York Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Page 2 of 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Ms. Allen of the Border Action Network and other immigrant rights supporters suspect that people are simply crossing elsewhere.
27462  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: November 24, 2006, 02:11:42 PM
ROCKETS TO IRAN: Russia has begun deliveries of the Tor-M1 air defence rocket system to Iran, Russian news agencies quoted military industry sources as saying, in the latest sign of a Russian-US rift over Iran. "Deliveries of the Tor-M1 have begun. The first systems have already been delivered to Tehran," ITAR-TASS quoted an unnamed, high-ranking source as saying Friday.
Levine Breaking News 11/24/06
27463  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: November 24, 2006, 09:19:37 AM

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

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

? The Canadian Press 2006
27464  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: November 24, 2006, 08:58:30 AM
A Profiling In Courage

Posted 11/22/2006

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

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

? Made anti-American statements.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But were they victims or provocateurs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27465  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'America Alone' on: November 24, 2006, 08:56:55 AM
I don't want to clutter up responses to GM's interesting posts (which might have fit more logically in one or more of the other threads  wink ) but I would like to take a quick moment to say that Quijote makes a fair point when he says that one of the causes (and it is only one of several) of the Paristineans intifada is that the French block their entry into society-- IMHO this is done through French economic policies which create tremendous barriers to the creation of new businesses and employment in order to protect big unions and other vested interests.  The purpose of these policies is not anti-Muslim, but they do add heavily to the unemployment of the Paristineans. 

27466  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: FMA Footwork for Context-Based Gunfighting on: November 24, 2006, 08:42:28 AM
Please forgive my arrogance, this is exactly why I have set up the Kali Fence as I have and why Gabe has integrated it into his teaching-- it predisposes the body to react correctly.
27467  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: November 23, 2006, 07:49:56 AM
Top Marine: Troops under too much strain

November 22, 2006
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The new Marine Corps commandant said Wednesday that the longer than anticipated pace of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is putting an unacceptable strain on his troops.
Gen. James Conway said the service is unable to meet its goal of giving Marines twice as much time at home as in a war zone.
He said unless the demand on the corps eases, he may have to propose increasing the size of the force.
The Marine Corps is the smallest of the Pentagon's military services. The Coast Guard, which is even smaller, is part of the Department of Homeland Security.
Currently there are 180,000 Marines on active duty and about 40,000 in the active reserves. Marine units serve seven-month deployments in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Conway, who led Marine units into Iraq in 2003 and served on the Pentagon's joint staff, said his troops should get 14 months of relief before they are sent back.
Typically, however, they get only seven or eight months home before being returned to combat, he said.
Assuming the Marines' top job little more than a week ago, Conway told reporters at a Pentagon roundtable discussion that he sees two ways to alleviate stress on troops.
"One is reducing the requirement [of a set deployment time]. The other is potentially growing the force for what we call the long war," Conway said.
Some units are serving their fourth tours in Iraq, and the strain on their families has raised concern that Marines will start leaving the service when their enlistments are up.
"There is stress on the individual Marines that is increasing, and there is stress on the institution to do what we are required to do, pretty much by law, for the nation," he was quoted by The Associated Press as saying.
The current rotation of troops to Iraq is also limiting training, he said.
"We're not sending battalions like we used to for the mountain warfare training, the jungle training," he told reporters. "We're not doing combined arms exercises that we used to do for the far maneuver-type activities we have to be prepared to do."
Conway said he doesn't know whether an expected adjustment in strategy in Iraq will result in the need for more Marines, so he's holding off on making any formal recommendations.
Copyright 2006 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.
27468  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Particular Stocks on: November 23, 2006, 07:16:42 AM

New suggestions from David Gordon.  Highly recommended.
27469  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Surviving PMS on: November 23, 2006, 07:14:51 AM
27470  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 23, 2006, 07:07:29 AM
Lamento tantos hilos en ingles en un foro supuestamente para espanol.  ?Habra' alguien quien puede ayudarnos con informes desde Mexico?

Mexican Report Cites Leaders for ?Dirty War?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27471  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: November 23, 2006, 07:04:31 AM
Rape case has Saudis asking questions about legal system
Woman who says she was raped faces punishment
AL-AWWAMIYA, Saudi Arabia -- When the young woman went to the police a few months ago to report that she was gang-raped by seven men, she never imagined that the judge would punish her -- and that she would be sentenced to more lashes than one of her rapists received.
The story of the Girl of Qatif, as the alleged rape victim has been called by the media here, has triggered a rare debate about Saudi Arabia's legal system, in which judges have wide discretion in punishing a criminal, rules of evidence are shaky and sometimes no defense lawyers are present.
The result, critics say, are sentences left to the whim of judges. These include one in which a group of men got heavier sentences for harassing women than the men in the Girl of Qatif rape case or three men who were convicted of raping a boy. In another, a woman was ordered to divorce her husband against her will based on a demand by her relatives.
In the case of the Girl of Qatif, she was sentenced to 90 lashes for being alone in a car with a man to whom she was not married -- a crime in this strictly segregated country -- at the time that she was allegedly attacked and raped by a group of other men.
In the sleepy, Shiite village of al-Awwamiya on the outskirts of the eastern city of Qatif, the 19-year-old is struggling to forget the spring night that changed her life. An Associated Press reporter met her in a face-to-face interview. She spoke on condition of anonymity.
Her hands tremble, her dark brown eyes are lifeless. Her sleep is interrupted by a replay of the events, which she describes in a whisper.
That night, she said, she had left home to retrieve her picture from a male high school student she used to know. She had just been married -- but had not moved in with her husband -- and did not want her picture to remain with the student.
While the woman was in the car with the student, she said, two men intercepted them, got into the vehicle and drove the couple to a secluded area where the two were separated. She said she was raped by seven men, three of whom also allegedly raped her friend.
In a trial that ended this month -- in which the prosecutor asked for the death penalty for the seven men -- four of the men received one to five years in prison plus 80 to 1,000 lashes, the woman said. Three others are awaiting sentencing. Neither the defendants nor the plaintiffs retained lawyers, as is common here.

"The big shock came when the judge sentenced me and the man to 90 lashes each," the woman said.
The sentences have yet to be carried out, but the punishments ordered have caused an uproar.
Justice in Saudi Arabia is administered by a system of religious courts according to the kingdom's strict interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia. Judges -- who are appointed by the king on the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council -- have complete discretion to set sentences, except in cases where Sharia outlines a punishment.
Saudis are urging the Justice Ministry to clarify the logic behind some rulings. In one recent case, three men convicted of raping a 12-year-old boy received sentences of one to two years in prison and 300 lashes each. In contrast, another judge sentenced at least four men to six to 12 years imprisonment for fondling women in a tunnel in Riyadh.
Saleh al-Shehy, a columnist for Al-Watan, asked Justice Minister Abdullah Al-Sheik to explain why the boy's rapists got a lighter sentence than the men in last year's sexual harassment case.
"I won't ask you my brother, the minister, if you find the ruling satisfactory or not," wrote al-Shehy. "I will ask you, 'Do you think it satisfies God?' "
27472  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Cuchillo en el metro en Espana on: November 23, 2006, 06:53:19 AM
Para los quienes leen ingles, hay descripciones mas completas en
27473  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spike TV, the Dog Brothers Gathering Webisodes; National Geographic on: November 22, 2006, 06:50:23 PM
Woof All:

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

27474  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: SEMINAR Die Less Often: Interface of Gun, Knife and Emtpy Hand on: November 22, 2006, 06:45:39 PM
This one is steadily filling up its fixed number of spaces folks.
27475  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Panantukan & Kali Tudo on: November 22, 2006, 06:44:43 PM

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

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

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

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

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


I will get to your questions later.

27476  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Science vs. God on: November 22, 2006, 06:33:21 PM

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

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

27477  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: A Post From Our Piazza member on: November 22, 2006, 06:31:02 PM

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

27478  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: November 22, 2006, 05:22:30 PM
Here's a different take on things:

November 22, 2006
How Violent Is Iraq?

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

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

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

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

Posted by John at 11:31 AM
27479  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: November 22, 2006, 09:35:19 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Russia Cooperates, For Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russia and the United States will take measured steps toward each other, always retaining the option to reverse course if their interests evolve to require it. Although Tuesday's statements suggest a degree of compromise between Moscow and Washington, they do not signal a lasting strategic consensus -- merely a tactical, and temporary, bout of cooperation.
27480  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / !Que verguenza! on: November 21, 2006, 10:46:15 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Link corto:

27481  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: November 21, 2006, 07:13:39 PM
No one is taking Rangel seriously.  He is a long-time rabble rouser who enjoys posturing for TV cameras.  Due to his seniority in Congress he is in a position to start investigations and be a pain-in-the-butt.  That said, there has been a goodly amount of corrupt looking practices by the Bush Administration that do deserve investigation.  Of course Rangel will try to take it further than that.

The Stratfor piece preceding your post has a pretty sound analysis IMHO.  The military doesn't want it, the people don't want it.  Its going nowhere.
27482  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: November 21, 2006, 03:58:33 PM
A Fresh Look at the Draft
By George Friedman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obviously, no one is going to adopt this crackpot proposal, even though we are quite serious about it. But we ask that you take seriously two points. Rangel is correct in saying that the upper classes in American society are not pulling their weight. But if the parents haven't served, we cannot reasonably expect the children to do so. If Americans are serious about dealing with the crisis of lack of service among the wealthiest, then they should look to the wealthiest first, rather than their children.
Send questions or comments on this
27483  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Science & God on: November 21, 2006, 09:32:38 AM
A Free-for-All on Science and Religion
Maybe the pivotal moment came when Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in physics, warned that ?the world needs to wake up from its long nightmare of religious belief,? or when a Nobelist in chemistry, Sir Harold Kroto, called for the John Templeton Foundation to give its next $1.5 million prize for ?progress in spiritual discoveries? to an atheist ? Richard Dawkins, the Oxford evolutionary biologist whose book ?The God Delusion? is a national best-seller.
Or perhaps the turning point occurred at a more solemn moment, when Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City and an adviser to the Bush administration on space exploration, hushed the audience with heartbreaking photographs of newborns misshapen by birth defects ? testimony, he suggested, that blind nature, not an intelligent overseer, is in control.
Somewhere along the way, a forum this month at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., which might have been one more polite dialogue between science and religion, began to resemble the founding convention for a political party built on a single plank: in a world dangerously charged with ideology, science needs to take on an evangelical role, vying with religion as teller of the greatest story ever told.
Carolyn Porco, a senior research scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., called, half in jest, for the establishment of an alternative church, with Dr. Tyson, whose powerful celebration of scientific discovery had the force and cadence of a good sermon, as its first minister.
She was not entirely kidding. ?We should let the success of the religious formula guide us,? Dr. Porco said. ?Let?s teach our children from a very young age about the story of the universe and its incredible richness and beauty. It is already so much more glorious and awesome ? and even comforting ? than anything offered by any scripture or God concept I know.?
She displayed a picture taken by the Cassini spacecraft of Saturn and its glowing rings eclipsing the Sun, revealing in the shadow a barely noticeable speck called Earth.
There has been no shortage of conferences in recent years, commonly organized by the Templeton Foundation, seeking to smooth over the differences between science and religion and ending in a metaphysical draw. Sponsored instead by the Science Network, an educational organization based in California, and underwritten by a San Diego investor, Robert Zeps (who acknowledged his role as a kind of ?anti-Templeton?), the La Jolla meeting, ?Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival,? rapidly escalated into an invigorating intellectual free-for-all. (Unedited video of the proceedings will be posted on the Web at
A presentation by Joan Roughgarden, a Stanford University biologist, on using biblical metaphor to ease her fellow Christians into accepting evolution (a mutation is ?a mustard seed of DNA?) was dismissed by Dr. Dawkins as ?bad poetry,? while his own take-no-prisoners approach (religious education is ?brainwashing? and ?child abuse?) was condemned by the anthropologist Melvin J. Konner, who said he had ?not a flicker? of religious faith, as simplistic and uninformed.
After enduring two days of talks in which the Templeton Foundation came under the gun as smudging the line between science and faith, Charles L. Harper Jr., its senior vice president, lashed back, denouncing what he called ?pop conflict books? like Dr. Dawkins?s ?God Delusion,? as ?commercialized ideological scientism? ? promoting for profit the philosophy that science has a monopoly on truth.
That brought an angry rejoinder from Richard P. Sloan, a professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, who said his own book, ?Blind Faith: The Unholy Alliance of Religion and Medicine,? was written to counter ?garbage research? financed by Templeton on, for example, the healing effects of prayer.
With atheists and agnostics outnumbering the faithful (a few believing scientists, like Francis S. Collins, author of ?The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief,? were invited but could not attend), one speaker after another called on their colleagues to be less timid in challenging teachings about nature based only on scripture and belief. ?The core of science is not a mathematical model; it is intellectual honesty,? said Sam Harris, a doctoral student in neuroscience and the author of ?The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason? and ?Letter to a Christian Nation.?
?Every religion is making claims about the way the world is,? he said. ?These are claims about the divine origin of certain books, about the virgin birth of certain people, about the survival of the human personality after death. These claims purport to be about reality.?
By shying away from questioning people?s deeply felt beliefs, even the skeptics, Mr. Harris said, are providing safe harbor for ideas that are at best mistaken and at worst dangerous. ?I don?t know how many more engineers and architects need to fly planes into our buildings before we realize that this is not merely a matter of lack of education or economic despair,? he said.
Dr. Weinberg, who famously wrote toward the end of his 1977 book on cosmology, ?The First Three Minutes,? that ?the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless,? went a step further: ?Anything that we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done and may in the end be our greatest contribution to civilization.?
With a rough consensus that the grand stories of evolution by natural selection and the blossoming of the universe from the Big Bang are losing out in the intellectual marketplace, most of the discussion came down to strategy. How can science fight back without appearing to be just one more ideology?
?There are six billion people in the world,? said Francisco J. Ayala, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Irvine, and a former Roman Catholic priest. ?If we think that we are going to persuade them to live a rational life based on scientific knowledge, we are not only dreaming ? it is like believing in the fairy godmother.?
?People need to find meaning and purpose in life,? he said. ?I don?t think we want to take that away from them.?
Lawrence M. Krauss, a physicist at Case Western Reserve University known for his staunch opposition to teaching creationism, found himself in the unfamiliar role of playing the moderate. ?I think we need to respect people?s philosophical notions unless those notions are wrong,? he said.
?The Earth isn?t 6,000 years old,? he said. ?The Kennewick man was not a Umatilla Indian.? But whether there really is some kind of supernatural being ? Dr. Krauss said he was a nonbeliever ? is a question unanswerable by theology, philosophy or even science. ?Science does not make it impossible to believe in God,? Dr. Krauss insisted. ?We should recognize that fact and live with it and stop being so pompous about it.?
That was just the kind of accommodating attitude that drove Dr. Dawkins up the wall. ?I am utterly fed up with the respect that we ? all of us, including the secular among us ? are brainwashed into bestowing on religion,? he said. ?Children are systematically taught that there is a higher kind of knowledge which comes from faith, which comes from revelation, which comes from scripture, which comes from tradition, and that it is the equal if not the superior of knowledge that comes from real evidence.?
By the third day, the arguments had become so heated that Dr. Konner was reminded of ?a den of vipers.?
?With a few notable exceptions,? he said, ?the viewpoints have run the gamut from A to B. Should we bash religion with a crowbar or only with a baseball bat??
His response to Mr. Harris and Dr. Dawkins was scathing. ?I think that you and Richard are remarkably apt mirror images of the extremists on the other side,? he said, ?and that you generate more fear and hatred of science.?
Dr. Tyson put it more gently. ?Persuasion isn?t always ?Here are the facts ? you?re an idiot or you are not,? ? he said. ?I worry that your methods? ? he turned toward Dr. Dawkins ? ?how articulately barbed you can be, end up simply being ineffective, when you have much more power of influence.?
Chastened for a millisecond, Dr. Dawkins replied, ?I gratefully accept the rebuke.?
In the end it was Dr. Tyson?s celebration of discovery that stole the show. Scientists may scoff at people who fall back on explanations involving an intelligent designer, he said, but history shows that ?the most brilliant people who ever walked this earth were doing the same thing.? When Isaac Newton?s ?Principia Mathematica? failed to account for the stability of the solar system ? why the planets tugging at one another?s orbits have not collapsed into the Sun ? Newton proposed that propping up the mathematical mobile was ?an intelligent and powerful being.?
It was left to Pierre Simon Laplace, a century later, to take the next step. Hautily telling Napoleon that he had no need for the God hypothesis, Laplace extended Newton?s mathematics and opened the way to a purely physical theory.
?What concerns me now is that even if you?re as brilliant as Newton, you reach a point where you start basking in the majesty of God and then your discovery stops ? it just stops,? Dr. Tyson said. ?You?re no good anymore for advancing that frontier, waiting for somebody else to come behind you who doesn?t have God on the brain and who says: ?That?s a really cool problem. I want to solve it.? ?
?Science is a philosophy of discovery; intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance,? he said. ?Something fundamental is going on in people?s minds when they confront things they don?t understand.?
He told of a time, more than a millennium ago, when Baghdad reigned as the intellectual center of the world, a history fossilized in the night sky. The names of the constellations are Greek and Roman, Dr. Tyson said, but two-thirds of the stars have Arabic names. The words ?algebra? and ?algorithm? are Arabic.
But sometime around 1100, a dark age descended. Mathematics became seen as the work of the devil, as Dr. Tyson put it. ?Revelation replaced investigation,? he said, and the intellectual foundation collapsed.
He did not have to say so, but the implication was that maybe a century, maybe a millennium from now, the names of new planets, stars and galaxies might be Chinese. Or there may be no one to name them at all.
Before he left to fly back home to Austin, Dr. Weinberg seemed to soften for a moment, describing religion a bit fondly as a crazy old aunt.
?She tells lies, and she stirs up all sorts of mischief and she?s getting on, and she may not have that much life left in her, but she was beautiful once,? he lamented. ?When she?s gone, we may miss her.?
Dr. Dawkins wasn?t buying it. ?I won't miss her at all,? he said. ?Not a scrap. Not a smidgen.?
27484  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics, Investing, & Technology on: November 21, 2006, 07:47:08 AM
The charts with this piece don't print here, but still worth the read.

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

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

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

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

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


M3 January 2003 to present
click for larger graph


Source: Now and Future


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

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

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

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

Have a look at this chart: 


M2 versus M3 Money Supply Growth

Source: Shadow Government Statistics


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

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

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

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


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

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

27485  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hersch: Next Act-part three on: November 21, 2006, 07:40:43 AM
A senior diplomat in Vienna told me that, in response to the allegations, I.A.E.A. inspectors went to Parchin in November of 2005, after months of negotiation. An inspection team was allowed to single out a specific site at the base, and then was granted access to a few buildings there. ?We found no evidence of nuclear materials,? the diplomat said. The inspectors looked hard at an underground explosive-testing pit that, he said, ?resembled what South Africa had when it developed its nuclear weapons,? three decades ago. The pit could have been used for the kind of kinetic research needed to test a nuclear trigger. But, like so many military facilities with dual-use potential, ?it also could be used for other things,? such as testing fuel for rockets, which routinely takes place at Parchin. ?The Iranians have demonstrated that they can enrich uranium,? the diplomat added, ?and trigger tests without nuclear yield can be done. But it?s a very sophisticated process?it?s also known as hydrodynamic testing?and only countries with suitably advanced nuclear testing facilities as well as the necessary scientific expertise can do it. I?d be very skeptical that Iran could do it.?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

?Iran is emerging as a dominant power in the Middle East,? I was told by a Middle East expert and former senior Administration official. ?With a nuclear program, and an ability to interfere throughout the region, it?s basically calling the shots. Why should they co?perate with us over Iraq?? He recounted a recent meeting with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who challenged Bush?s right to tell Iran that it could not enrich uranium. ?Why doesn?t America stop enriching uranium?? the Iranian President asked. He laughed, and added, ?We?ll enrich it for you and sell it to you at a fifty-per-cent discount.?
27486  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hersch: Next Act-part two on: November 21, 2006, 07:39:22 AM
The Administration?s planning for a military attack on Iran was made far more complicated earlier this fall by a highly classified draft assessment by the C.I.A. challenging the White House?s assumptions about how close Iran might be to building a nuclear bomb. The C.I.A. found no conclusive evidence, as yet, of a secret Iranian nuclear-weapons program running parallel to the civilian operations that Iran has declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency. (The C.I.A. declined to comment on this story.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In early 2004, John Bolton, who was then the Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control (he is now the United Nations Ambassador), privately conveyed to the I.A.E.A. suspicions that Iran was conducting research into the intricately timed detonation of conventional explosives needed to trigger a nuclear warhead at Parchin, a sensitive facility twenty miles southeast of Tehran that serves as the center of Iran?s Defense Industries Organization. A wide array of chemical munitions and fuels, as well as advanced antitank and ground-to-air missiles, are manufactured there, and satellite imagery appeared to show a bunker suitable for testing very large explosions.
27487  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hersch: Next Act-part one on: November 21, 2006, 07:36:45 AM
The author of this piece is a long time Bush hater and often fronts for particular factions within the US Govt. ?That said, he has lots of deep high level sources. ?One needs to read deeply between the lines with him.




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The main Middle East expert on the Vice-President?s staff is David Wurmser, a neoconservative who was a strident advocate for the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Like many in Washington, Wurmser ?believes that, so far, there?s been no price tag on Iran for its nuclear efforts and for its continuing agitation and intervention inside Iraq,? the consultant said. But, unlike those in the Administration who are calling for limited strikes, Wurmser and others in Cheney?s office ?want to end the regime,? the consultant said. ?They argue that there can be no settlement of the Iraq war without regime change in Iran.?
27488  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dividing the Iraqi Pie on: November 21, 2006, 07:05:17 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Dividing the Iraqi Pie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of course, there is the question of whether such an arrangement could hold. For the moment, the various players involved in Iraq are likely to endorse such an arrangement just to back away from the precipice. They each have the option of coming back later on and subverting it when it furthers their interests to do so.
27489  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israeli Map on: November 21, 2006, 06:58:22 AM
Israeli Map Says West Bank Posts Sit on Arab Land
NY Times
Published: November 21, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27490  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: November 20, 2006, 08:31:50 PM
Jeez, I have the sensation of dealing with my children when they are squabbling  rolleyes  Oy vey!

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

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

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

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

27491  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Book Reviews- political and religious on: November 20, 2006, 03:32:25 PM


November 14, 2006


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Pipes ( is director of the Middle East Forum and author of "Miniatures" (Transaction Publishers).
27492  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 20, 2006, 11:47:05 AM
MEXICO: Defeated Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador plans to hold a ceremony at 4 p.m. local time in the Zocalo in Mexico City to inaugurate himself and a 12-person Cabinet as leaders of a shadow government, El Universal reported. Thousands of people are expected to attend the ceremony.
27493  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: November 20, 2006, 11:39:34 AM
I thought of starting a new thread for this one, but decided to post it here; apparently these people were badly mistreated because they were Muslim.
today's LA Times:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


27494  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Bolivia tambi?n es de Fidel on: November 20, 2006, 07:38:47 AM
1242 GMT -- BOLIVIA -- The governors of six of Bolivia's nine departments broke relations with President Evo Morales Nov. 19, claiming he has violated regulations regarding the currently convened Constitutional Assembly. The move is a response to Morales' Nov. 17 declaration that the assembly can pass individual clauses by a simple majority, obviating the need for compromise between Morales' party and the opposition.
27495  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 20, 2006, 06:16:14 AM
Hope I'm not overloading everyone's reading time this morning!? Here's more from Germany:


More than 70 Muslim workers have been stripped of their security clearances at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport for alleged links to terrorist organizations. Now the unions representing the workers are threatening to strike.

When French nationalist politician Phillipe de Villiers decried the "Islamization of France" in his book "The Mosques of Roissy" this spring, he was called xenophobic, extremist, paranoid -- and a best-selling author. Indeed, despite some heavy criticism of his views, the French were snatching up his book in droves, and the government started heeding his warnings.

"Islamists and criminals from the housing projects are working in concert to put the airport under Shariah law, threatening managers and the rare employees of French origin," he wrote. Two months after de Villiers' claims that "Allah's workers" had access to sensitive security zones at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy ordered all unofficial prayer sites in the airport closed. Now, as a result of an anti-terrorism investigation, 72 Muslim airport employees have been stripped of their security clearances.

The workers -- who are mainly baggage handlers and aircraft cleaners -- are accused of having visited terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. One is thought to have been close to a senior figure in an Algerian terrorist group with links to al-Qaida, and another is thought to have been a friend of "shoe-bomber" Richard Reid. Reid is currently serving a life prison sentence in Colorado for attempting to blow up a flight from Paris to Miami in 2001 with explosives hidden in his shoe.

Charles de Gaulle airport -- also called the "Roissy" -- is located north of Paris, and many of its employees are Muslims of north-African descent who live in the rundown suburbs nearby. De Villiers claims in his book that clandestine mosques line the tunnels beneath the airport's runways and that some luggage handling companies employ members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Workers and unions complain the suspensions amount to religious discrimination. Legal suits and labor strikes are on the table. France's largest trade union, the CFDT, filed a discrimination lawsuit in mid-October over the revocations, while 10 affected workers are taking legal action in individual capacities. Now the unions representing the airport workers have announced that they are meeting next Tuesday to consider strike action. On the following Friday, a court in Cergy-Pontoise will hear the case for unfair dismissal brought by six men who were sacked.

Jacques Lebrot -- the French government official who oversees the airport -- insists that religion is not the issue. "Monsieur or Madame X who goes to pray in a mosque and travels to Mecca for the pilgrimage is not the problem for us. But we will ask questions if we find someone who has spent holidays several times in Pakistan," he told reporters. Eric Moutet -- a lawyer for the suspended workers -- told the New York Times: "We have not seen any objective evidence against our clients. The only common denominator we see today is that they are all Muslim."

For de Villiers, though, that may be reason enough. As head of the far-right party, Movement for France, he's basing his 2007 presidential bid on an anti-immigrant platform. His campaign is unlikely to garner any significant proportion of the vote, but he's sure to sell a few more books.

Police Protection for German Parliamentarian
A German parliamentarian of Turkish origin has called for Muslim women to throw off their headscarves and embrace Western values. After receiving death threats for the remarks, she is under police protection. Politicians are defending her right to free speech.

With the increased focus on immigrants in Germany, it sometimes seems like integration success stories don't exist. They do. And Ekin Delig?z is one of the country's finest. A Turkish-born German citizen, she now serves in the seat of German democracy, the Bundestag. But, cultural emissaries like Delig?z don't only build bridges, they also sometimes expose the vast differences that make their existence so crucial.

That, in fact, is why Delig?z is now kept company by a police detail. The Green party member has received death threats for calling on Muslim women to take off their headscarves and to embrace German society and values two weeks ago. "You live here, so take your headscarf off," Delig?z was quoted by the Bild am Sonntag newspaper as saying.

In addition to the threats, she has also been the victim of a negative media campaign in Turkey with tabloid stories comparing her to the Nazis. In a letter of complaint written to the Turkish Ambassador by the head of the Green Party Renate K?nast, she indicated that Delig?z had been "insulted in writing, by telephone, and also in person ... overwhelmingly by Turkish men."

Delig?z sees the headscarf as a symbol of female oppression and patriarchy. If it were just a fashion accessory, she says, "then I wouldn't now be under police protection."

A number of Muslim organizations in Germany have accepted an invitation from K?nast and the Greens to discuss the threats and to talk about "behaving with respect toward each other."

Meanwhile, a number of German politicians are vociferously denouncing the threats and defending Delig?z's right to freedom of speech. "It is absolutely legitimate that a woman who is Muslim herself ... makes this appeal, said German Interior Minister Wolfgang Sch?uble. In an interview with the German radio station RBB, he continued, "What we lawmakers must decisively support is that someone can voice these opinions and that one doesn't need police protection to do so."

Norbert Lammert, president of the Bundestag and a close ally of Chancellor Merkel, called the threats "a severe attack on the core values of our constitution."

Delig?z is pleased at the support the German government has provided. "Most threats were supposed to intimidate me," she said, "but in a democratic society it should be possible to also express a critical opinion."

27496  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 20, 2006, 06:11:23 AM
Here is one of the articles in that final URL:

Prince Karim Aga Khan IV is considered to be the direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammad and, as the 49th imam, the spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims. A minority community within the Muslim faith, the Ismailis include some 20 million members scattered across 25 countries in Central Asia, Europe and Eastern Africa. The Aga Khan himself lives near Paris in Aiglemont Palace. Born near Geneva, the prince grew up in Kenya, Switzerland and London before being educated at Harvard. At the age of 20, he succeeded his grandfather as the Aga Khan, thus becoming a religious leader and the administrator of billions in assets. Fed by his family inheritance and a 10 percent tithing fee from Ismaili Muslims, the Aga Khan channels much of the money into the Aga Khan Development Network, one of the world's most important private development aid organizations. The Aga Khan has two sons from his first marriage - - Rahim, 34, and Hussein, 32. He also has a son from his second marriage to the German princess Gabriele zu Leiningen - - six- year- old Ali Mohammed. The Aga Khan must name one of his sons as his successor, but that choice will remain a secret until his death.
SPIEGEL: Your Highness, in a lecture Pope Benedict XVI quoted Emperor Manuel as saying: "Show me just what Muhammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as a command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." This quotation from the 14th century has caused great uproar in the Muslim world. Why? And what was your reaction?

Aga Khan: From my point of view, I would start by saying that I was concerned about this statement because this has caused great unhappiness in the Islamic world. There appears to be momentum towards more and more misunderstandings between religions, a degradation of relations. I think we all should try not to add anything to worsen the situation.

SPIEGEL: Benedict XVI did explicitly dissociate himself from the emperor's quoted statement. The pope's own position with regard to his lecture is that he wanted it to promote a dialogue; and since then, several times, he has expressed his respect for the world religion that is Islam. Was it just an unfortunate choice of words? Or was he deliberately misunderstood?

Aga Khan: I do not wish to pass judgement on that, nor can I. And it might also be unreasonable for me to presume that I know what he meant. But that (medieval) period in history, to my knowledge, was one of the periods of extraordinary theological exchanges and debates between the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim world. A fascinating time. The emperor's statement does not reflect that, so I think it is somewhat out of context.

SPIEGEL: The theme of Pope Benedict's lecture was different, it was one of his favorites: the link between faith and reason which, he said, implies a rejection of any link between religion and violence. Is that something you could agree on?

Aga Khan: If you interpret his speech as one about faith and reason then I think that the debate is very exciting and could be enormously constructive between the Muslim world and the non-Muslim world. So I have two reactions to the pope's lecture: There is my concern about the degradation of relations and, at the same time, I see an opportunity. A chance to talk about a serious, important issue: the relationship between faith and logic.

SPIEGEL: If the pope were to invite you to take part with other religious leaders in a debate about faith, reason and violence, would you accept?

Aga Khan: Yes, definitely. I would, however, make the point that an ecumenical discussion at a certain stage will meet certain limits. Therefore I would prefer to talk more about a cosmopolitan ethic stemming from all of Earth's great faiths.

SPIEGEL: Does Islam have a problem with reason?

Aga Khan: Not at all. Indeed, I would say the contrary. Of the Abrahamic faiths, Islam is probably the one that places the greatest emphasis on knowledge. The purpose is to understand God's creation, and therefore it is a faith which is eminently logical. Islam is a faith of reason.

SPIEGEL: So, what are the root causes of terrorism?

Aga Khan: Unsolved political conflicts, frustration and, above all, ignorance. Nothing that was born out of a theological conflict.

SPIEGEL: Which political conflicts do you mean?

Aga Khan: The ones in the Middle East and in Kashmir, for example. These conflicts have remained unresolved for decades. There is a lack of urgency in understanding that the situation there deteriorates, it's like a cancer. If you are not going to act on a cancer early enough, ultimately it's going to create terrible damage. It can become a breeding ground for terrorism.

Now to the issue of spreading faith by the sword: All faiths at some time in their history have used war to protect themselves or expand their influence, and there were situations when faiths have been used as justifications for military actions. But Islam does not call for that, it is a faith of peace.

SPIEGEL: It's true that horrible crimes were committed in the name of Christianity, for example by the crusaders. That was long ago, that's the past. But jihadists commit their crimes now, in our times.

Aga Khan: It is not so far in the past that we have seen bloody fights in the Christian world. Look at Northern Ireland. If we Muslims interpreted what happened there as a correct expression of Protestantism and Catholicism or even as the essence of the Christian faith you would simply say we don't know what we are talking about.

SPIEGEL: "The West (will stand) against the Rest" wrote Professor Samuel Huntington in his famous book "Clash of Civilizations." Is such a conflict, such a clash inevitable?

Aga Khan: I prefer to talk about a clash of ignorance. There is so much horrible, damaging, dangerous ignorance.

SPIEGEL: Which side is responsible?

Aga Khan: Both. But essentially the Western world. You would think that an educated person in the 21st century should know something about Islam; but you look at education in the Western world and you see that Islamic civilizations have been absent. What is taught about Islam? As far as I know -- nothing. What was known about Shiism before the Iranian revolution? What was known about the radical Sunni Wahhabism before the rise of the Taliban? We need a big educational effort to overcome this. Rather than shouting at each other, we should be learning to listen to each other. In the way we used to do it, by working together, with mutual give-and-take. Together we brought about some of the highest achievements of human civilization. There is a lot to build on. But I think you cannot build on ignorance.

SPIEGEL: Nonethless, it is striking that a particularly large number of Muslim-dominated states figure among the most backward and undemocratic states in the world. Is Islam in need of an era of enlightment? Is the faith even incompatible with democracy as others claim?

Aga Khan: As I said before, one has to be fair. Some of the political leaders have inherited problems that are in no way attributable to the faith. New governance solutions have to be tested and validated over time. Nor do I believe Muslim states are systematically economic underperformers. Some of the fastest growing economies and some of the most successful newly industrialized countries are in the Islamic world. Now concerning democracy: My democratic beliefs do not go back to the Greek or French (thinkers) but to an era 1,400 years ago. These are the principles underlying my religion. During the prophet's life (peace be upon him), there was a systematic consultative political process. And the first imam of the Shiites, Prophet Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, Hazrat Ali, emphasized: "No honor is like knowledge, no power is like forbearance, and no support is more reliable than consultation."


SPIEGEL: If pluralism, civil society and Islam can coexist harmoniously, as was proven in the past, then why is this so seldom achieved nowadays?

Aga Khan: I think we have a very diverse situation in the Islamic world. Wealthy countries with enormous ressources, newly industrialized countries, extremely poor ones.

SPIEGEL: Not many are functioning democracies.

Aga Khan: People speak about failed states. I do not think that states can fail, but democracies certainly can. The failure of democracy is not specific to the Islamic world. Indeed, about two years ago, the United Nations carried out an in-depth analysis of democracy in South America. About 55 percent of the population in South American states said that they would prefer to live under a paternalistic dictatorship instead of an incompetent or corrupt democracy that is not improving their living condition.

SPIEGEL: Most of your Ismaili constituency lives in states that cannot be called perfect democracies: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria and Iran. What makes democracies fail?

Aga Khan: I ask myself every day what we can do to sustain the multiple forms of democracy, to make these forms of government work, whether it is in Latin America, Africa or the Middle East.

SPIEGEL: And what do you believe to be the answer?

Aga Khan: I admit that I live in a mood of frustration. What is the point in these areas of the world of carrying out a referendum in a population that essentially cannot read and write? What is the point in testing a constitution with a population that knows no difference between a presidential regime or a constitutional monarchy? Elections, constitutions -- all this is necessary, but not sufficient. I think we have to accept that countries have different histories, different social structures, different needs, so we have to be a great deal more flexible than we have been.

SPIEGEL: Nor is democracy monolithic. The American model of democracy is no panacea for the rest of the world. Has George W. Bush aggrevated the situation with his particular way of bringing democracy to the Middle East? Can the United States still win the war in Iraq?

Aga Khan: I am very, very worried about Iraq. The invasion of Iraq had an impact across the world like nothing before in modern times. The invasion has unleashed every force in the Islamic world, including the relations between the Arabs and non-Arabs and the relationship between the Shia und the Sunni.

SPIEGEL: You mean the war created a new terrorist base and radicalized people?

Aga Khan: Indeed. It mobilized a large number of people across the Islamic world, who before then were not involved, and indeed I think they did not want to be.

SPIEGEL: Do you share the view of the American professor and Islam expert Vali Nasr that the balance of power in the Muslim world is undergoing a decisive shift, that Shiites could become the most influential force from Baghdad to Beirut, that the future of the Middle East will be shaped by wars between different Muslim factions?

 Aga Khan: When the invasion of Iraq took place, we were told two things: (that there would be) regime change and democracy. Well, anyone who knew the situation in Iraq, as you did, I did, but what did that mean? That meant a Shia majority; it could not have been otherwise. Anyone who then concludes that the next issue is a Shia majority in Iraq is going to start thinking, What does that mean in the region, what does it mean in the Islamic world, what does it mean in relation to the West? All that was as clear as daylight, you didn't even have to be a Muslim or a scholar to know that.

SPIEGEL: In your opinion, was it pure ignorance and naivete that made the Bush government start the war? Was it really about introducing democracy or a strategic decision about conquering oil fields and military bases?

Aga Khan: I wish I could answer that question.

SPIEGEL: Are you in contact with the religious leaders in Iraq, like Grand Ayatollah Sistani? And with the religious leaders of Iran as well?

Aga Khan: We have frequent contacts with important personalities in both countries.

SPIEGEL: What would it take to get you to go to the region as a mediator?

Aga Khan: This is, at the moment, not one of my priorities. One day maybe, we might consider (participating in the) reconstruction (effort).

SPIEGEL: When you compare the invasion in Iraq with the one in Afghanistan, where the Taliban and al-Qaida worked hand in hand ...

Aga Khan: ... there I see a completely different picture. First of all, the Afghan regime at the time was quasi totally detested by the people; it was equally unpleasant for Sunnis as it was the for Shias and it was totally unacceptable I think just in terms of overall civilized life.

SPIEGEL: Afghanistan is currently being confronted with major problems and the situation seems to be deteriorating by the hour. What went wrong? And what can the West do to make the situation more stable?

Aga Khan: The security situation is indeed very worrying -- it is getting worse, especially in the south. Most of our projects are in the capital and in the north where (the situation) is better but not satisfying. We can supply energy from Tajikistan, we can provide civil services. We try to avoid the danger that certain areas in Afghanistan will be rehabilitated more quickly than others. If this development overlaps with ethnic divides you have another problem. But the main problem is that most people in Afghanistan have not seen an improvement in their daily lives. The process of reconstruction does not seem to be penetrating. We have not succeded in bringing a culture of hope to this country. One of the central lessons I have learned after a half century of working in the developing world is that the replacement of fear by hope is probably the most powerful trampoline of progress.

SPIEGEL: President Karzai is a personal friend of yours. Many people see him as a weak leader, and some call him "Mayor of Kabul" because he is unable to control large parts of the country.

Aga Khan: We should do everything to help him. He has an enomously complex agenda to deal with. He is our best hope. And besides, he is the elected leader and we have to work with the parliament.

SPIEGEL: Even if warlords and a former members of the Taliban are represented in Afghanistan's parliament?

Aga Khan: You either accept the results of democracy or you don't. Otherwise you talk about qualifying democracy.

SPIEGEL: That means the West should deal with the radical Islamist Hamas as well?

Aga Khan: You have to work with whoever the population has elected as long as they are willing to respect what I call cosmopolitan ethics. Now, it's true that Hamas has a record of conflict ...

SPIEGEL: ... of outright terror ...

Aga Khan: ... but it would not be the only time that movements that have such a record make it into parliament, and even end up in charge of government later on. Can I remind you of Jomo Kenyatta and his Mau Mau movement in Kenya, for example, or the ANC in South Africa? Take away the causes of extremism and extremists can come back to a more reasonable political agenda. That change to me is one of the wonderful things about the human race.

SPIEGEL: You know Syria's president, Bashar Assad, very well. You recently visited him again in Damascus. In contrast to the American administration, the German government is trying to get him involved in the Middle East peace process.

Aga Khan: I would like to compliment the German government and others in Europe who have taken the decision to invite President Assad to be a party to the peace process. The process of change from decades of political directionalism is something that needs time, as you saw in East Germany. I think there are many reasons to go out of our way to assist Syria in making the transition from the past to the future.

SPIEGEL: If you look back at the years that have passed since World War II -- the Cold War between the East and the West, the ideological conflict with communism -- would you ever have thought that this conflict could be replaced by one between the West and radical Islamists?

Aga Khan: I beg you, please get away from the concept of a conflict of religion. It is not such a conflict. Nobody will ever convince me that the faith of Islam, that Christianity, that Judaism will fight each other in our times -- they have too much in common. That's why I am talking about this global ethic which unites us all. That's why we are trying to work with the Catholic Church in Portugal on a program aimed at immigant minorities. I am aware of a sense of disaffection with the society that many young Muslims feel because they think that the Western society has the intention of marginalizing or damaging them.

SPIEGEL: The German government just organized a conference with many different Muslim groups and personalities who live in Germany. Do you consider such a forum useful or is it just window dressing?

Aga Khan: We can avoid misunderstandings by having such a forum where people from different faiths consult each other so they understand what really affects them. Once you have committed an offense all you can do is to try and reverse it. Anyone who knows the faith of Islam, for example, would have known that the caricatures of the prohet were profoundly offensive to all Muslims.

SPIEGEL: Again, this whole affair was misused by radical Islamists. They added caricatures much more offensive than the original ones to incite the masses.

Aga Khan: But I am told that there was an internal debate between the editors of that publication and they actually knew what they were doing. They took a risk and somebody should have said to them, Why get into that situation? Now we are talking about civility, which is a completely different concept. If we are talking about civility in a pluralist society, then how do you develop that notion of civility, particularly where there is ignorance. And that's the thing that's worrying. And that's why I get frustrated when I see these situations that go on and on and on. Because I'm not willing to believe that they are all inspired by evil intent.

SPIEGEL: Provocative, sad and distasteful. But the freedom of the press is one of the highest values in our democracy. We have to balance one thing against the other and we will allow non-believers to express even outrageous opinions.

Aga Khan: I think that you are now referring to one of the most difficult problems that we have and I don't know the answer. The industrialized West is highly secularized; the Muslim world is much less secularized and that stems largely from the nature of the faith of Islam, which you know and I know has an intrinsic meshing with everyday life. And that is a scenario where people of goodwill need to think very, very carefully.

SPIEGEL: In some of your speeches you mentioned Kemal Atat?rk in a positive context. Turkey followed his path and is one of the very few countries with a predominant Muslim population where there is separation of church and state. Would you like to see others go the same way?

Aga Khan: I am not opposed to secularism as such. But I am opposed to unilateral secularism where the notions of faith and ethics just disappear from society.

SPIEGEL: Your Highness, we thank you for this interview.

Interview conducted by Stefan Aust and Erich Follath.

27497  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: November 20, 2006, 05:51:32 AM

Activists of an opposition Islamic alliance chant slogans to protest against amendments to Pakistan's Islamic laws in Karachi November 17, 2006. Rights activists welcomed on Thursday amendments to Pakistan's Islamic laws that will allow rape victims to seek justice without the need for four male witnesses but said the laws should be scrapped altogether.

A friend comments:

? need for four male witnesses? Qur?an 24:13


This is only one of many surprising dictates in the Qur?an.  Qur?an 2:282  states that a women?s testimony in court is worth  half as much as that of a man.  I highly recommend reading Robert Spencer?s books (Islam and the Crusades, The Truth About Muhammad.  It appears from my reading that moderate Muslims chose to ignore the parts of the Qur?an they find uncomfortable in this day and age.  However, they lose the theological debate if challenged.  I think this could be the main reason that the Muslim community has been largely muted in response to terrorist acts.   Muhammad stated that ?War is deceit? and all is fair when dealing with non Muslims (infidels). 

It will be truly interesting to see if this proposed amendment stands because it goes directly against what Allah allegedly (and conveniently) told Muhammad (Qur?an 24:13) after Mohammad?s favorite wife Aisha was accused of having an affair.   The Qur?an is supposed to be the exact word of Allah and not subject to interpretation.  Could this amendment, if passed, set a huge precedent for further amendments more in vogue with our current century?


I also found it interesting that the vast majority of Muslims are not Arabs yet everyone who recites the Qur?an is instructed to use ancient Arabic.  It is highly doubtful that most Muslims understand the words they are saying when reading and praying even if they are Arabs.

27498  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 20, 2006, 05:45:25 AM
A German friend shares these two articles with me about prosecuting Islamofascists in Germany

The Spiegel is Germanys largest and most famous magazine for politics, economics and social matters. It also is very critical. You may be interested:,1518,448921,00.html,1518,449003,00.html

My friend's comments on these two articles:

Ever since the attempted bombings on two trains in Germany, people have become more aware that they could be a potential target for terrorists. As the German government strictly abides torture any kind of illegal action to gather information, they have had a hard time to collect evidence. As you may read as an example in the second story, evidence obtained by the Syrians were not admissible in the German court. Despite the struggle for a verdict, this trial will be the first of many to come. Germany already expelled some radical muslim leaders (one was brought back to Turkey to face trial there). It's a slow development, but Germany wil have more expierence next time and be able to handle such a case more quicker in compliance with german civil law or as the articles closing statement goes "The final law represents the German civil servants' riposte to the mob-like methods of the war on terror."

Motasseq has now been arrested to await the final verdict.


In its online-edition the Spiegel magazine has dedicated a website to the topic of Muslims in Europe, collecting all its english articles. You may be interested:,1518,k-6817,00.html


Several very interesting articles in the final URL.? Very valuable to get the perspective of a major mainstream German publication -- all in English!
27499  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Gay Parents on: November 20, 2006, 05:25:48 AM
Page 7 of 9)

In many respects, R.'s experience would seem to confirm the worst fears of
those - inside and outside the gay community - who think attempts to
re-engineer family dynamics in this way are doomed from the start. "I could
never get a regular schedule for visiting," R. said. "I was always kept at a
distance. I was never brought in in a way where I felt like I was being
acknowledged as really more than just a friend." This went on for years, and
he started to tear up as he described it. What pained him most, he said, was
the feeling of irrevocability, the fact that each moment was a lost
opportunity. "I was basically watching her grow up and having no control,
just watching it go by. I would see her on the street, it was like, you
know, you can imagine, I was looking at my child but not having access to
her really."

Like a lot of lesbian mothers at that time, M. said, she and her partner
were, as she put it, "kind of paranoid. We didn't want to promise a set
amount of time or, say, summer vacation or any of that stuff." She
continued: "I think one of our big mistakes in our situation was we had no
clue, all three of us going into it, and there weren't that many people for
us to talk to or things to read about it. He was just saying he wanted to be
around and be known and have a relationship. And looking back, even that
seemed scary to us."

It was a deeply painful period for R. "I mean, if I were to say anything to
people who were thinking about something like this," he said, "it would be
that with this kind of donor relationship, this web of affinity and
genetics, it's not like an article of clothing where someone gives it to you
and then it's yours and you can walk away. If you don't want to have to be
answerable to somebody, then go to an anonymous sperm bank. It's like they
wanted the privilege of being able to say to their children, 'That's your
father,' without having to really give up anything. And so, what's that

Luckily for R., things changed over time. When his daughter was 2, her
nonbiological mother became impregnated with sperm donated by a gay black
friend. She bore twins. A couple of years later, the mothers split up. A
custody battle ensued, in which the white mother tried to gain sole custody
of all three children. The judge ruled against her. The final agreement
essentially assigned the three mixed-race children to the white mother
roughly 60 percent of the time and to the black mother 40 percent of the

The current family tree is a crazy circuit board: The black woman has a new
female partner. The white woman is now living with a man, and the two have
had their own child. So, as R. said, between the one child that R. has with
the black mother, the twins borne by the white mother with a black donor and
the newest, fourth, child born to her with her new male partner, all of whom
have some sort of sibling relation to one another, things can be a little
confusing. "They're quite a little petri dish of a family, as you can
imagine," R. told me. The children go from the white mother, who lives in a
SoHo loft, to their black mother, who lives in a nice, middle-class row
house in Crown Heights. On weekends, they often visit the white mother's
family's country estate. "I'd say they're like divorce kids," he said. "They've
got a family that split up; they go back and forth." But the kids love both
their mothers, and though the relationships may seem confusing to outsiders,
there is certainly no lack of people in their lives who care about them -
something many "straight" families can't claim.

How he fits in as a father is less clear. Since the mothers broke up five
years ago, R.'s relations with the birth mother - and his daughter - have
warmed. When R.'s daughter turned 6, he was allowed to see her alone for the
first time. And now? "It's a work in progress," he said. "We really enjoy
each other. There are still issues about how much I get to see her." But by
now, R.'s birth mother wants him to have a relationship with his daughter.
"My perspective has changed," she said. "It's good for her; it's good for
him; there's no reason not to. She loves hanging out with him." R.'s
relationship with his daughter's other mother remains strained. When I asked
to speak with her through an intermediary, she declined to comment.


Page 8 of 9)

R. is not quite sure yet what his daughter thinks of him. He knows that she
knows he's her father. But he's not sure what that means. A couple of years
ago, he said, he took her to the Museum of Natural History. Outside, they
bought a hot dog. "She couldn't open the soda," he said, "so she asked the
vendor, 'Can you open this?' And he said, 'Well, ask your father.' So she
started hearing that from strangers at a certain point. She probably didn't
know exactly who I was."

He is still not positive to what degree any of the children in the various
branches of the family have affixed their relation to all the parents. The
white woman's twins, the ones not biologically related to him, identify him
as a "donor" - not their donor, not their father, but a title, donor, like
uncle or godparent. As for his daughter, he said, "there are many men in her
mothers' lives. There are friends; there is the donor father of his daughter's
siblings; and there is the white mother's new partner." With all of these
men in quasi-parental roles, he conceded, "I'm not sure if I'm - I can't say
honestly that I know that she's accessing anything through me that she's not
getting anywhere else."

Struggling to be precise, he said: "She recognizes me. I feel like we have a
relationship, that there's some . . . that I mean something to her, that she
recognizes an affinity that's not just: I like this guy; he's a nice guy; I
have a fun time with him. I think she sees me as being part of some kind of
heritage of hers. Now maybe that's my wanting to make a relationship where I
want there to be one, but I think that there is something there." He
mentioned that last summer his daughter and her twin brothers visited R.'s
family on Cape Cod. At the end of the trip, he was able to spend an entire
day alone with his daughter and his own family - his parents and siblings.
After the day was over, M. told him that his daughter hoped maybe next year
she would be able to spend two days there.

"So," he laughed, "who knows? Maybe in the end, all of this will be a plus.
Maybe we won't end up having that typical Oedipal hand baggage that she'll
have with her primary parents. It's been a long road. It's been very up and
down. But I got through it, and I wouldn't ever say I wish I hadn't done it.
Because it's great, actually, to have her in my life. I just" - he paused -
"would certainly have done it very differently."

It was late August on a wooden deck overlooking a quarter-acre lot in Coon
Rapids, a suburb north of Minneapolis. The deck was next to a three-bedroom
house. A big glass table was loaded with barbecue fixings of time eternal:
bean salad, chips, nuts, corn on the cob and the staple of American
child-rearing, juice boxes. The guests included two gay fathers, one gay
boyfriend-cum-stepdad, three lesbian mothers (one couldn't attend) and four

P. J., David and Bobbie's co-parent, is an X-ray technician with a bawdy and
infectious sense of humor. Mark's co-parents, Candi and Jean, one of whom is
a former prison guard, were more reserved. Eight conversations were juggled
as children came and went, screaming, laughing, crying, demanding juice
boxes, spilling juice boxes, getting sand on the frosting on their mouths
and so on. Eli arrived - post-chemo, post-stem-cell-transplant. He looked
fragile and skinny. His veins glowed slightly in the sunshine. His blond
hair was coming back, silky and short. One of his front teeth was missing,
and he gawked, open-mouthed, squinting in the sun.

P. J. told me that he seemed to have overcome most of his physical problems
in a matter of months. The emotional trauma might take longer. She recalled
his, and her, time at the hospital. "To watch your 5-year-old son staring
through a glass-pane window at a room full of other 5-year-olds playing
ball, and he can't do it. And the look of sadness on his face. Every day it
was: 'Mom, why am I here? Why do I have to do this? Why, why, why?' "

Eli had run off to play in the yard. He looked fine. Just awkward.

Mark and Candi and Jean's child, also Mark, showed up, looking still
three-quarters asleep.

"Is that the monkey shirt?" someone asked him.

No answer.

"What's Wyatt doing?"

"He's downstairs playing."

An electronic child monitor sat on the table, confirming that Wyatt was
indeed downstairs playing.

A bee buzzed. One of the mothers swatted it. "No bugs! Bugs are not

"I need some water."

Little Mark followed Eli to the backyard. Big Mark followed little Mark.
David followed big Mark. All of them marched past the Playskool house and a
litter of toys to the T-ball setup. Eli began to swat at a Wiffle ball.

Wyatt emerged from downstairs.

A chorus of parents began to chirp. "Hey, big guy!" "Hi!" "Hey, big guy!"
"You big guy!" "Come here, you!"


Page 9 of 9)

Wyatt ran to Bobbie and gave him a big kiss and a hug. Bobbie, whom I
initially judged to be a bit dour, was clearly warmed to the quick. And it
was only at that moment that I realized he was as much a part of the family
as everyone, even if his role seemed more precarious. Wyatt made the rounds,
hugging everyone. Little Mark returned and also went around kissing and
hugging everyone. The adults cooed.

The conversation skittered and zigzagged as it does in any group of people
addlebrained by the presence of four children. Topics covered school
meetings, health benefits, the rate at which kids outgrow clothes.
Circumcision (pro or con). Potty training. Toys. Birthdays. Sibling
relations. Crying (when to ignore, when not to).

Suddenly, Eli's mother jerked up. Where's Eli? David shrugged, lazily. "He's
off being a boy!"

Wyatt nestled into her lap. "I want grape!"

"You want grape? You want some mandarin oranges, too?"

He shook his head.

"You want some cantaloupe?"

He shook his head again. "Uh-uh."

"You want some nuts?"


"What do you say?"


Candi turned to me. So, she wanted to know, What's this article about? I
told her it's about part-time fatherhood for gay men and how well it works
out and how it works out, period. She seemed suspicious. But . . . what's
the agenda? she asked. I laughed. Hadn't she heard? Journalists are

A bee came around the table. Eli panicked. He kept whining until it began to
seem a bit attention-seeking. David asked him to quiet down a few times and
finally told him to leave the table. Candi's attention returned to me: "Why
is this worth a story? It's not even worth discussing. We're just as
American as our next-door neighbors. You see all these families with
stepdads and stepmoms and half brothers and half sisters. What do you say
about marriages that 50 percent of the time end in divorce? Why are we so
threatening?" Most heterosexual parents, she said, marry, have sex "and then
suddenly: 'Whoops! We're pregnant!' Our families are designed. They're
conscious. They don't just happen by happenstance. We had to sit down and
say: O.K., what's your relationship to the kid going to look like? What's
our relationship to each other going to look like? What's this family going
to look like?" She didn't understand what the big deal was. "We want the
same things that every other family wants! You know? We shop at Costco; we
shop at Wal-Mart; we buy diapers. We're just average. We're downright

Two or three Saturdays after the barbecue, back in New York, R. knocked on
the door of an East Village apartment. His daughter had been at a sleepover,
and he was picking her up for an afternoon visit. A mellow, biracial couple
answered and greeted him warmly. His daughter gathered her things, and we
were on our way.

Now 10, R.'s daughter, H., has long, frizzy brown hair and hazelnut skin.
She seemed very composed for her age. R. stopped her in the hallway. "Well,
do I get a hug?" he asked awkwardly. He stooped, and they hugged. He rolled
his eyes. "God, I wonder when I'll have to stop asking." It was mildly
humiliating, but the moment passed almost instantly, and in 10 seconds we
were outside in some of the last true summer warmth.

R. asked what she had gotten such and such a friend for her birthday. H.
shrugged: "A monkey. Well, not a real monkey. But a notebook with monkeys on
it. She loves monkeys."

H. is tall for her age. As she walked and talked, she had an adorable way of
punctuating the air with her fist every few syllables. Usually she jabbed
with her right hand, and sometimes she jabbed with her left. It wasn't a
rap-video imitation; it just seemed like her own way of being.

R. asked her, "So . . . do you have any notion of what you want to do
 today?" It seemed slightly studied. Notion. Child. Planning. Do today.

We stopped by a boutiquey snack place to get H. some gourmet hot chocolate.
She had Glac?au Vitaminwater instead. Passing some tables outside, she was
spotted by her hockey coach. He shouted several times to get her attention.
"How're you doing?" he asked. She nodded, but ever so slightly. Very cool.

He asked her again, not noticing the nod. "Hey! How're you doing?" Finally,
obligingly, H. said, "O.K." Pause. She ambled off with R.

The coach laughed. "Hey, anyone ever tell you you're a great
conversationalist?" R. said goodbye for her.

As we walked, R. repeated, "So, do you have any notion of what you want to
do today?" She said she needed to buy a present for a second friend, whose
birthday was also coming up. What did she want to get? R. asked.

Oh, maybe something by Paul Frank, she answered.

I asked who or what Paul Frank was. H. looked at me as if maybe I wasn't so
bright, but tried to explain. R. offered his two cents. "Paul Frank makes
stuff and puts his brand or whatever all over it, and then because of that,
it sells for more."

H. argued that Paul Frank's stuff was cute. R. disagreed. It was not cute.

H. disagreed. It was cute.

"I mean, come on," she insisted. "At least he's better than Hello Kitty."

"Why?" R. asked. "Why is he better than Hello Kitty?" She looked at him with
tolerant pity. "Because Hello Kitty is . . . dumb."


Correction: Nov. 19, 2006

Because of an editing error, an article on Page 66 of The Times Magazine
today about gay parents misstates, in some copies, the number of states that
passed amendments banning gay marriage in the recent midterm elections. It
was 7, not 11.
27500  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Gay Parents-part two on: November 20, 2006, 05:23:41 AM
Page 4 of 9)

Mark, 48, Jean, 37, and Candi, 34, now have two children - Mark (named after
his father) is Candi's biological son, and another boy, Joseph, now 7 months
old, is Jean's biological son. For a long time Mark, who was working as a
freelance information technologist and financial consultant in Minneapolis
until he took the job at the museum, could arrange his schedule to suit the
mothers' needs. He spends time with the kids once a week, sometimes alone,
sometimes with his long-term partner, Jeffrey, who is 36 and went to college
with Candi, and sometimes with one or both mothers. The relationship among
the fathers and mothers has been a surprise benefit, he said, creating a
brother-sister feeling. Despite the fact that the mothers are still
financially responsible for the children, Mark has put them in his will.
Each birthday and Christmas, he deposits a $1,000 bond for their education.
Like any good father, he said, "I want to see them do well."

When I asked him if he ever ran into resistance from school personnel or his
own family about his less-than-conventional parenting arrangement, he told
me a story. He had taken the girls, as he calls his lesbian co-parents, to
Wisconsin to visit his mother and his sisters. "We went to a lake place over
by Wausau." He laughed. "My nephew" - his sister's son - "had a lot of
questions. He was asking my mom, 'Why does Mark have two moms?' My mom was
like, 'I didn't know what to say.' "

Mark continued: "I guess in people's minds there's a kid's cartoon drawing
of a family unit. Well, ours is the same thing. It's just that the
characters have changed a bit. People make a lot out of it, but it's really
quite simple: you've got four parents now instead of two. And they're all
together." Considering how many heterosexual parents are overworked,
divorced or otherwise unavailable, he said, in the end he advised his mother
what to say to anyone asking about little Mark: "Tell 'em he's lucky."

If Mark's role as a father comes closer than some to a traditional dad's,
that of his friend David falls squarely in the middle of the "more than an
uncle but less than a father" continuum. At 43, David works for the
University of Minnesota general counsel's office and is very serious about
furthering his acting career. (He and Mark became friendly through a theater
company Mark used to manage.) When David's friends, P. J. and Vicki, now 52
and 37 respectively, approached him about "helping them out with kids," he
was receptive, although he had reservations. The first was that he wasn't
interested in being a full-time dad. His acting career, he said, "pretty
much supersedes anything else. Spending a lot of time with little ones, that's
not where my focus is. I'm far too selfish a person." He still had plans to
leave Minneapolis for New York or L.A. to further his career. But in the
end, he agreed, with several conditions.

The major one was, as he put it, "if we do one, we're doing two." David
agreed with P. J., who didn't want to create an only child. "Nothing against
only children," he explained, "but I feel that it's important for kids to
have a sibling. I remember when I was growing up, with my brother, you just
kind of go, What's going on with Mom and Dad?" How much more, he wondered,
would a kid need an ally with strangers asking questions about his or her
unconventional family?

The mothers insisted on one other condition: until or unless David actually
left for the bright lights of Broadway, his interaction with the kids had to
be consistent. As P. J., the children's nonbiological mother, said: "I told
him you have to choose. You're either going to be in for five cents or you're
in for a buck."

David, Bobbie (David's long-term partner), P. J. and Vicki were more laid
back than were many co-parents I met. They made no legal or quasi-legal
document. They never spelled out exactly how often David would see the
children, just that it couldn't be once a week and then once a month. The
attitude shared by David, P. J. and Vicki (Bobbie, as the nonbiological
father, was the least involved in the discussions) was, as David summed it
up: "If stuff happens, then it happens; it happens in married people's
lives, it happens in straight people's lives and it happens in single
mothers'. Stuff happens everywhere, to everybody."

When I asked David whether he and his partners had gone to a doctor or used
the "turkey baster" method to become pregnant, his answer surprised me. He
looked at me with a big, devilish grin. "We did it," he answered.

David had never been with a woman, but he and Vicki decided that they didn't
want the process to be impeded by technology. Using syringes and cups seemed
inorganic and inefficient. Sperm would lose potency during each transfer. "I
wanted the numbers," David said. The first attempt resulted in an uneventful
two hours of awkward huffing and puffing. As David remembers: "We were sort
of like, O.K., then! Let's get breakfast!" But within a month, after another
try, Vicki became pregnant. "Thank God for videos," David said.

David has now fathered two children with Vicki: Eli, who is 6, and Wyatt,
who is 21/2. Being a parent has not been without its challenges. One morning
last October, Eli woke up with abdominal pains. P. J. took him to the
emergency room. The doctors found a mass in his abdomen, which turned out to
be a tumor. The diagnosis was neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer of the
sympathetic nervous system.

"At the outset," David said, "They said he was at Stage 4, high risk, which
is just about as bad as you can get." The tumor was the size of a fist and
had wrapped itself around every major blood vessel in his abdomen and
attached itself to his kidney and liver. It had also metastasized into Eli's
bone marrow and lymph nodes. At one point, the doctors gave him a 30 percent
chance of survival.

During eight and a half hours on the operating table, the doctors removed
the tumor, one of Eli's kidneys and his appendix. Soon after, he began
chemotherapy, had a stem-cell transplant and started radiation. Luckily,
David told me, the treatment took.

When the crisis first hit, everyone came together and dealt with it as a
team. Vicki quit her job to be the full-time caretaker, and as David told
me, any notion of part-time fathering went out the window. All hands were
called on deck, and everyone responded in kind. After the initial trauma,
however, when the emergency decisions and arrangements had been made and
treatment was under way, David wanted to return to his part-time role. As he
admitted later, this caused "some resentment." The mothers, or at least
Vicki, expected that David would continue to be more involved.


"It was tough, because I was under the impression we were all going to stand
together," Vicki told me later. "As time went on, it was: 'Well, I'm going
to work. I'm going to a play. I have this; I have that.' And so the bulk of
everything sort of fell on my shoulders." The treatment schedule was
grueling and left P. J. on her own with Wyatt; cancer was not something the
family had planned on. "You go in under the assumption that you're going to
have a healthy child," Vicki said. "Some things worked and some things didn't
work. David, the way he describes himself, he's the machine who figures
things out and gets things done; I'm more emotional; and P. J. is really
levelheaded; Bobbie's not necessarily a man of action but feels things
really deeply - we all sort of reverted to our roles and got through it." As
a mother, she felt it was her job to bear the brunt of Eli's care. But, she
said, "it would have been much nicer to have the responsibilities spread out
a little more. I think David's aware of my feelings."

David, as he explained it to me, saw things a little differently: "I'm like,
Well, at the beginning, I was needed in that role. Now that things are
together and moving, I'm pulling myself back, because I'm not - I didn't
sign on for -." He stalled. He still had his bills to pay, his house to pay
off and all his other affairs. Most significant, he said, "this wasn't a
responsibility that I necessarily took on. You know? This was where the
untraditional part of the family arrangement came into question or got
defined or whatever. Because that's not what my role is here." It was, he
said, at times, "a difficult wire to walk."

As we talked, Bobbie, who is 45 and has been David's partner for nine years,
arrived, wearing a black polo shirt. He's well over six feet tall, big like
David. His expression seemed sour, but when he smiled, he revealed a broken
bicuspid, which produced an oddly sweet effect. Unlike two of the other gay
"stepdads" I met in my research, who had described themselves as playing a
sort of "fun uncle" role, Bobbie admittedly played the family heavy. Maybe,
he said, in some ways it was his Mormon upbringing. "I just set more limits
and probably expect more out of the kids," he said.

Recently, when the entire family took a weeklong trip to the East Coast and
visited David's mother, Bobbie recalled, Eli handed an orange peel to one of
his aunts for her to throw away rather than walk 10 feet to a garbage can.
Bobbie chastised him, and Vicki took exception to that. Bobbie was left
feeling, as he put it, "disenfranchised from the family unit."

He continued: "There's definitely a pecking order. Vicki is on top, then
David, then P. J., then me." Coming last, he said, is an inherently
difficult position to maintain. If he gets too involved, he gets yelled at
for doing so in the wrong way. If he seeks distance, he gets called on the
carpet for being aloof.

"There have been a couple of times when I've been made to feel that I'm the
fourth wheel," he said. Once, he was told, "Look, you're only here because
of him" - because of David. "I was told that to my face," he said, looking
pained. "That was probably the deepest knife in the back I've ever had in my
life. That totally destroyed my entire self-image as part of the family."

As in most families, members get hurt to a degree that seems unfathomable -
they feel exiled, exact revenge, remain silent, do what they need to do,
then pick themselves up and keep going. I later learned that David never
changed diapers. When the children were with their fathers, the job fell to
Bobbie. When I mentioned the disparity, both men smiled. That's the way it

For David, the admittedly vain actor, one of the supreme joys of fatherhood
is the idea that one day his sons might see him on television. He imagines
them turning on the TV and pointing him out to their friends: "There's my
dad!" Bobbie has a nearly opposite take. "A lot of what Mormonism is about
is what you're passing on to the next generation, some type of legacy,
whether emotionally or through teaching." His fondest wish is to empower his
kids, to help Eli find happiness, "after all the drama and heaviness of his
illness," to help Wyatt become, say, "a great mathematician who goes on to
become famous and prove great new theories or something along those lines."


Page 6 of 9)

Being a father has taught him, he said, to "look for the enjoyment in life
rather than the humor. Watching a kid discovering an anthill and watching
him spend a half-hour poking around, discovering the way ants move and walk.
It makes you stop and look at nature all over again, because you're
rediscovering it through kids' eyes."

As David listened to Bobbie describe this, he smiled very warmly. When the
kids call Bobbie Dad, he said, "I know that just fills his heart. You know?
It fills his heart." Bobbie positively beamed. "It does fill your heart
when, you know, when they call you Dad. You feel like you're a part of

If David and Bobbie's experience was tumultuous but ultimately rewarding, R.'s
venture into fatherhood seemed cursed from the beginning. "I don't think any
of us expected that we would find the pregnancy happening before we actually
sat down and did a contract," he told me. "I mean, I think part of it was,
we thought, Oh, this is going to take a while. And there was just this
excitement about getting started." So R. and his co-parents began trying to
become pregnant before any papers had been drawn up. Lowering his voice and
faltering a bit, R. continued, "So it was foolish of us to kind of do that."

What happened next would have been remarkable for any family. R. took a
monthlong vacation to Australia, where he contracted hepatitis. The illness
progressed to a neurological disorder called Guillain-Barr? syndrome, and
after he returned to New York, he became fully paralyzed and lay ill in the
hospital for several weeks. He recovered, but by the time he resumed
discussions with his parent partners, more than five months had passed.

During his absence, R. said, his partners had suffered what he called
"serious amnesia." Instead of keeping to terms he had thought long-ago
settled, they now said: "No, we never agreed to these. We just said we
understand that's what you expected."

The discussions became heated and disagreeable. Someone suggested mediation.
His partners chose the mediator, a woman, he said, who had written a
parenting book in which she seemed to be saying that to give the father any
rights at all was to open the door to disaster. In R.'s view, her position
was: "If you give the guy any rights, he may want more and want to take the
child away from you."

Lawyers were hired, both prominently involved in New York's gay community.
The two lawyers had worked together on activist fronts, and because of this
shared history, R. thought his partners' lawyer would be sympathetic to a
harmonious outcome. Wrong. As R. recalled, "The first thing she said to my
lawyer was: 'Your client's not getting any rights. I just want you to know.
Whatever he thinks he's getting, he's not getting it.' "

M., the woman who carried R.'s child, told me that, in fact, she and her
partner were afraid to give R. any official access to their daughter. "The
contract we wanted him to sign really didn't give him any rights, didn't
really specify anything," she said, "because that's the advice we got from
our lawyer - no spelling out of rights." They didn't want to lay the
groundwork for him to demand custody later.

So much for brotherhood, sisterhood, gayhood - amity had curdled into
enmity. R. said his "partners" blamed him for the discord. Every time he
tried to approach them directly, he said, they refused.

Meanwhile, the pregnancy had reached the third term. R. was despondent. Over
the last nine months, his desire to be a parent had only become more ardent.
Now he had apparently fathered a child he might never get to see. His
lawyer, he said, told him: "I don't know what to say. You're in a terrible
position." R. could have insisted on his rights as a biological father. He
could have used legal precedent in New York State to press for joint custody
or, at the very least, visitation rights. But then, of course, it would have
been an awfully contentious beginning for a family. R. chose to honor the
original intent of his and his partners' undertaking. In effect, he caved

After R. ceased making specific demands, tensions eased - somewhat. R. and
the mothers had a rapprochement - enough of one to allow him to be at the
hospital during his daughter's birth. But later, when she began to speak,
his daughter never called him Dad, Daddy, Father - anything of the kind.
"For a long time," he said, "I was just . . . my name." He was seldom, if
ever, allowed to be alone with his daughter. There were times, he admitted,
when he grasped the amount of full-time devotion it took to raise a child
and felt relief that the job was not his. But more often, he said, he would
observe "the physical relationship my daughter had with her mothers and feel
tremendous pain that I was never going to have that."

Pages: 1 ... 548 549 [550] 551 552 ... 593
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!