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27551  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: December 04, 2007, 11:43:10 PM
Unmatched weapons fight-- not work suitable
27552  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 04, 2007, 02:08:55 PM
With the Afghan Army
December 4, 2007; Page A20

Kabul, Afghanistan

The half dozen cadets at the National Military Academy of Afghanistan stood straight and tall in the cramped room they share with six others. I asked, "Are you worried about graduating and going to fight the Taliban?" They smiled. "If you are afraid, you are not here," one said in English.

Seeing these self-assured young men, each of whom has beat out five others for one of the 300 places in the freshman class, it's not hard to understand why the Afghan National Army is one of the unqualified success stories of coalition nation-building efforts. "Since April, the ANA has not lost an engagement with the insurgency," says Col. Martin Schweitzer, commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, in six eastern Afghan provinces. A 2006 survey showed that 91% of Afghans in the volatile eastern provinces had "a lot" or "some" confidence in the ANA.

Beginning in 2002 with a few dozen officers, the ANA is now 50,000 strong. Most have come through the Kabul Military Training Center (KMTC), which currently puts 5,000 men at a time through a 10-week Basic Warrior Training course modeled on the program at Fort Benning, Ga. A kandak, or battalion, of 1,000 soldiers leaves to fight every two weeks, each one deploying as a unit in a province where security is iffy. Just two corps of the army are in the stable northern and western provinces; three are in the south and east.

The KMTC replaces academies that ceased to function during the war years, and represents a sea change in Afghan military culture. Instructors are no longer allowed to hit the students, and the laws of war are taught early on. Drill is kept to a minimum -- "just enough for them to be soldiers," as Brigadier Tim Allen, who mentors the ANA training command, puts it -- with the focus on maneuvers.

The KMTC retains some distinctively Afghan aspects. One is the attention paid to ethnic balance. Another is basic literacy training. After four weeks of training, soldiers are tested for literacy in their mother tongue (Dari or Pashto) and sent for instruction accordingly. The most recent kandak to pass through was just 30% literate at the four-week mark; trainers admit that the 10-week course isn't long enough to bring everyone up to full literacy. NCOs must be literate to enter training.

According to Maj. Jim Fisher, a reservist and the senior U.S. mentor for Basic Warrior Training, the dropout percentages are in the low 20s. Not every recruit has what it takes, and some soldiers turn out to have left home without telling their families, who find out and implore them to return. Others turn out to be under the age minimum, 17. And some, faced with a deployment in a dangerous area in a remote province, instead elect to join the Afghan National Police near their homes. This option has grown in popularity lately, since police salaries are due to reach parity with the army in January.

In some eastern and southern provinces, recruits face Taliban intimidation. Many recruits admitted to me that they do not wear their uniforms home on vacation.

Officers follow a different path. A British-run officer training school, established in 2006 and based on Sandhurst, has graduated around 100 high school and college graduates. Now it is taking in 130 men in each class with a target output of 102 second lieutenants after the program.

The 630-student National Military Academy of Afghanistan (NMAA) is the gem of the system. Founded in March 2005 and modeled on West Point, it's currently admitting classes of 300 cadets and expecting a 25% attrition rate. It will admit women as 10% of the student body in 2011, when female dorms are ready. The applicant pool has been steadily rising, mainly by word of mouth, with 1,200 applying last year and 1,800 this year. All the professors are Afghan, with the exception of the instructors in foreign languages.

Everything at the NMAA is geared to producing a national army free of regional and ethnic biases. Even their living quarters take ethnic and regional balance into account. In one random dormitory room I visited, the 12 cadets came from all over the country. In fact, these young men have been so well drilled that random questions about unrelated issues are apt to include a reference to the fact that "we are one Army for all of Afghanistan."

ANA officer pay is decent by Afghan standards, but, as in the U.S., money would not be anyone's primary motivation. A brigadier general makes $580 a month, a major $330, a second lieutenant $210. The cadets I met seemed driven by patriotism and, in many cases, family tradition: As at West Point, many cadets have relatives who are officers.

Col. Scott Hamilton, a graduate of West Point and a civil engineering professor there, terms the achievement "staggering." "Imagine starting a four-year liberal arts college from scratch," he says. "And then imagine that in Afghanistan."

Ms. Marlowe is the author of "The Book of Trouble" (Harcourt, 2006), a memoir.

27553  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Thomas Jefferson: RKBA vs. tyranny on: December 04, 2007, 01:22:13 PM
No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government" --

Thomas Jefferson, 1 Thomas Jefferson Papers, 334
27554  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: December 04, 2007, 10:44:59 AM
Second post of the morning:

The Allure of Tyranny
December 4, 2007; Page A20
'It is ultimately a cruel misunderstanding of youth to believe it will find its heart's desire in freedom," says Leo Naphta, the great character of Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain." "Its deepest desire is to obey." On Sunday, voters as far apart as Caracas and Vladivostok took to the polls and put Naphta's theory to a practical test.

In Russia, the result of parliamentary elections was a triumph for President Vladimir Putin: His party, United Russia, won 64% of the vote. Add that to the votes taken by the Kremlin's allies and the Putin tally reaches 80%, with the principal "democratic" opposition represented (at 11.5%) by the Communists. The vote sets up Mr. Putin, an exceptionally fit 55, to rule Russia for another four-year term, and perhaps several terms beyond that.

By happy contrast, Hugo Chávez's effort to establish himself as Venezuela's president-for-life via a constitutional referendum seems to have failed by a narrow margin. Even so, an astonishing 49% of voters were prepared, according to the official count, to permanently forgo the opportunity to choose a president other than Mr. Chávez.

The phenomenon in which masses of people enthusiastically sign away their democratic rights is not new: It happened in Germany and Austria in the 1930s. But it's one that Americans especially have a hard time coming to grips with. The freedom agenda may no longer be in vogue, but most Americans implicitly endorse George Bush's view that "eventually, the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul." When it doesn't -- when, in fact, it is consciously and deliberately spurned -- we rationalize it in ways that go only so far in offering a persuasive account of the dark allure of tyranny.

Culture is one rationalization. The word is invoked by everyone from self-described Burkean conservatives to left-wing cultural relativists to explain the supposed failure of some benighted corners of the world to adopt and sustain democratic norms. In this view, Africa and the Arab world are too tribal; the Muslim world makes no distinction between the divine and the mundane; Latin America cannot find a stable middle ground between populism and paternalism; the Chinese are too used to emperors and mandarins, the Russians too used to czars and bureaucrats. And so on.

But cultural determinism often runs afoul of reality: The example of China is counterexampled by Taiwan; Zimbabwe by Botswana; Jeddah by Dubai; President Chávez by President Álvaro Uribe in neighboring Colombia. Like baseball statistics, culture has a way of explaining a lot until it suddenly explains nothing.

A second line has it that the Putins and Chávezes of the world owe their popularity to bread-and-circuses tactics: the canny manipulation of the media, their appeal to nationalism and xenophobia, bureaucratic patronage and above all the benefit of having petrodollars to shower on favored constituencies.

Here the argument is that the two men rule by what amounts to an elaborate hoax. Yet that only begs the question of why the hoax is so widely believed. Venezuelans and Russians can travel abroad, and still have considerable (albeit diminishing) access to foreign sources of news and opinion; they can read the anxious op-eds warning of creeping dictatorship. In Venezuela, that might have even tipped the scales in Sunday's vote. Yet in Russia, "outside meddling" has had no measurable effect on Mr. Putin's overwhelming and genuine popularity, which seems only to have been enhanced by the perception that the West increasingly fears and mistrusts him.

Perhaps the most conventional theory is that Messrs. Putin and Chávez, like most autocrats, ultimately rule through a combination of intimidation and dirty tricks. Thus in a Saturday op-ed in this newspaper, Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov asks why Mr. Putin feels compelled to engage in "heavy-handed campaigning if he knows he and United Russia are going to win?" Mr. Kasparov's answer is that the president "is very aware of how brittle his power structure has become."

Plainly the fear factor is central to the politics of both countries. But neither is it the whole story. Russians and Venezuelans alike elected their current leaders with bitter memories of democracy: economic collapse and social chaos under Boris Yeltsin; the incompetent revolving-door governments of Rafael Caldera and Carlos Andrés Pérez. Messrs. Putin and Chávez both came to office promising to reverse the disintegrating trend with what the British Prime Minister Anthony Eden once called "the smack" -- he meant the word in its physical sense -- "of firm government." Their track records over the past eight years represent, if nothing else, the fulfillment of that promise, and the widespread gratitude that promise-keeping engendered.

That is the crucial context in which Chavismo and Putinism need to be understood. "The totalitarian phenomenon," observed the late French political philosopher Jean-Francois Revel, "is not to be understood without making allowance for the thesis that some important part of every society consists of people who actively want tyranny: either to exercise it themselves or -- much more mysteriously -- to submit to it. Democracy will therefore always remain at risk."

There is a lesson here for President Bush, who in headier moments seems to forget that freedom's goodness must first be demonstrated instrumentally -- that is, in terms of what it tangibly delivers -- before it can be demonstrated morally or spiritually. There is a broader lesson here, too, that while tyranny may ripen in certain political climates, it springs from sources deep within ourselves: the yearning for a politics without contradictions; the terror inscribed in the act of choice.

Thank goodness there is usually more to human nature than that, as courageous Venezuelans proved Sunday. Other times, that's all there is. Welcome to Mr. Putin's democracy.
27555  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: December 04, 2007, 10:41:04 AM
Islam and Teddy Bears
December 4, 2007

Sudan's President yesterday pardoned Gillian Gibbons, jailed last Sunday for insulting Islam -- an offense so arbitrarily constructed these days, it's getting hard to avoid. The British teacher incurred the wrath of the Islamic regime, otherwise busy slaughtering fellow Muslims in Darfur, by allowing her mostly Muslim students at an English school in Khartoum to name a teddy bear "Muhammad."

In a rally on Friday, thousands of protesters, many armed with clubs and swords, called for Ms. Gibbons's death. The faithful were angry that she was sentenced to "only" 15 days after being threatened with 40 lashes and six months. Her early release and the fact that Europe has been spared similar demonstrations of Muslim piety as during the 2005-2006 Danish Muhammad-cartoon riots, is probably the best one can say about this affair.

"I have great respect for the Islamic religion and would not knowingly offend anyone," Ms. Gibbons said. But what she intended doesn't matter. In the paranoid vision of Muslim fanatics, even a stuffed toy can be part of the "plot against Islam." Where believers are determined to feel insult where none was intended and, worse, use violence to revenge any slight, imagined or real, interreligious dialogue becomes, let's say, problematic. While Ms. Gibbon's ordeal seems over, thanks largely to Western pressure, another woman is still feeling the full justice of Shariah law. In Saudi Arabia, a gang rape victim was sentenced to six months and 200 lashes. Her crime? When the then-19-year-old woman was abducted by her tormentors, she was in a car alone with an unrelated man.

The Girl of Qatif, as the rape victim is known, is not as lucky as Ms. Gibbons. The Saudi Foreign Minister, responding yesterday to the White House's criticism of the punishment as "outrageous," showed his sympathy -- for the barbaric treatment accorded the woman. "What is outraging about this case" he told reporters, "is that it is being used against the Saudi government and people."

A measure of a society's moral stature is how it treats its weakest members. In the Middle East, women are among the most vulnerable. Western media and women-rights groups usually greet female subjugation in the Muslim world as a nonevent. This time, Ms. Gibbons and the Saudi rape victim received broad press coverage as well as expressions of support from Western governments. We await the day that more Muslims speak out against violence perpetrated against women in the name of their religion.

27556  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Thom Beers Interview WJFK RADIO Sept. 07 on: December 03, 2007, 10:50:50 PM
NBC strikes deal to air prime-time docudramas
By Meg James, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
December 3, 2007

NBC is turning over precious real estate to outside producers in an effort to spend less money on programming as its business is challenged by a changing entertainment landscape.

Under a deal quietly finalized last week, NBC agreed to carve out a two-hour block on its prime-time schedule for adventure documentaries produced by Thom Beers, whose credits include such popular cable shows as "Deadliest Catch" and "Monster Garage."

NBC confirmed Sunday that it had ordered three of the so-called docudramas from the partnership of Beers and BermanBraun, the production company formed this year by former network entertainment chiefs Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun. NBC plans to buy at least three more shows in the same genre from the partnership.

The deal is noteworthy because NBC has promised, at least initially, to run the Beers shows back-to-back on the same night and could eventually expand the block to three hours.

"This is a totally unique deal with tons of potential," said Braun, a former top executive at Walt Disney Co.'s ABC network and Yahoo. "We love the docudrama format. It's a form of television that hasn't been actively explored on the network level."

NBC had considered airing the block Saturday nights, when prime-time viewership is low, but it has not decided on a night.

The arrangement is not a first of its kind for NBC. Producer Peter Engel provided a Saturday morning block of shows that included "Saved by the Bell," which began its run in the late 1980s.

Five years ago, NBC structured a deal with Discovery Communications Inc. to provide Saturday morning programming, but that has since expired.

In some ways, NBC is ripping a page from Discovery, which has enjoyed robust ratings from shows including those produced by Beers, who is chief executive of Original Productions.

Network executives are struggling to find more cost-effective ways to make shows at a time when prime-time ratings are falling because of newer technologies such as digital video recorders and the Internet.

Until recently, a TV company could make money by airing a single episode two or three times during a season on its network. Producers reaped huge rewards when successful shows were sold into syndication.

But these days, ratings for repeats have declined, threatening the industry's system for covering its losses on the shows that didn't work. What's more, the major networks such as NBC are streaming their shows on the Internet, but the returns are negligible compared with those from syndication. No wonder that, with production costs soaring on dramas and comedies, TV executives have been trying to find savings.

Shows such as "Deadliest Catch" that generate robust ratings cost only about $600,000 an hour to produce, compared with as much as $3 million for an hourlong prime-time drama, according to two people familiar with the finances. Beers said his shows appealed to a particularly lucrative niche of young men who are not always tuned into network TV.

"I'm a blue-collar guy, I came out of New York and this is the world I know," he said in an interview.

The idea for the programming block originated this year, when Braun and Berman, formerly president of Fox Entertainment and Paramount Pictures, began discussing ways to program Saturday night with NBC. Not lost on the executives was the success that Fox Broadcasting has enjoyed with its 20-year franchise of "Cops" and "America's Most Wanted" on Saturday.

The producers then zeroed in on shows such as "Deadliest Catch" and "Ice Road Truckers," which Beers said attracted nearly 5 million viewers during its season finale in August. Berman and Braun approached Beers, and they arranged the partnership.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. However, NBC Universal has agreed to buy at least 30 hours of programming from Beers and BermanBraun.

NBC declined to comment on the deal.

27557  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizens defend themselves/others. on: December 03, 2007, 09:32:22 PM
Long, but it has the 911 transcript


(CBS) The 911 call came from a Pasadena, Tex., resident, who alerted police to two burglary suspects on a neighbor's property. Before he hung up, two men were dead by his hand.

Joe Horn, 61, told the dispatcher what he intended to do: Walk out his front door with a shotgun.

"I've got a shotgun," Horn said, according to a tape of the 911 call. "Do you want me to stop them?"

"Nope, don't do that - ain't no property worth shooting somebody over, OK?" the dispatcher responded.

"Hurry up man, catch these guys, will you? 'Cause I'm ain't gonna let 'em go, I'm gonna be honest with you, I'm not gonna let 'em go. I'm not gonna let 'em get away with this ----."

Shortly after, Horn said he sees one suspect was standing in front of his house, looking at it from the street.

"I don’t know if they’re armed or not. I know they got a crowbar 'cause that's what they broke the windows with. ... Man, this is scary, I can't believe this is happening in this neighborhood."

He gets more agitated. The dispatcher asks if he can see the suspects but they had retreated into the target's house, out of view: "I can go out the front [to look], but if I go out the front I'm bringing my shotgun with me, I swear to God. I am not gonna let 'em get away with this, I can't take a chance on getting killed over this, OK? I'm gonna shoot, I'm gonna shoot."

"Stay inside the house and don’t go out there, OK?" the dispatcher said. "I know you're pissed off, I know what you're feeling, but it's not worth shooting somebody over this, OK?"

"I don’t want to," Horn said, "but I mean if I go out there, you know, to see what the hell is going on, what choice am I gonna have?

"No, I don’t want you to go out there, I just asked if you could see anything out there."

The dispatcher asks if a vehicle could be seen; Horn said no. The dispatcher again says Horn should stay inside the house.

Almost five minutes into the call, police had not arrived.

"I can’t see if [the suspects are] getting away or not," Horn said.

Horn told the dispatcher that he doesn’t know the neighbors well, unlike those living on the other side of his home. "I can assure you if it had been their house, I would have already done something, because I know them very well," he said.
Dispatcher: "I want you to listen to me carefully, OK?"

Horn: "Yes?"

Dispatcher: "I got ultras coming out there. I don't want you to go outside that house. And I don't want you to have that gun in your hand when those officers are poking around out there."

Horn: "I understand that, OK, but I have a right to protect myself too, sir, and you understand that. And the laws have been changed in this country since September the First and you know it and I know it."

Dispatcher: "I understand."

Horn: "I have a right to protect myself ..."

Dispatcher: "I'm ..."

Horn: "And a shotgun is a legal weapon, it's not an illegal weapon."

Dispatcher: "No, it's not, I'm not saying that, I'm just not wanting you to ..."

Horn: "OK, he's coming out the window right now, I gotta go, buddy. I'm sorry, but he's coming out the window. "

Dispatcher: "No, don't, don't go out the door, Mister Horn. Mister Horn..."

Horn: "They just stole something, I'm going out to look for 'em, I'm sorry, I ain't letting them get away with this ----. They stole something, they got a bag of stuff. I'm doing it!"

Dispatcher: "Mister, do not go outside the house."

Horn: "I'm sorry, this ain't right, buddy."

Dispatcher: "You gonna get yourself shot if you go outside that house with a gun, I don't care what you think."

Horn: "You wanna make a bet?"

Dispatcher: "Stay in the house."

Horn: "There, one of them's getting away!

Dispatcher: "That's alright, property's not something worth killing someone over. OK? Don't go out the house, don't be shooting nobody. I know you're pissed and you're frustrated but don't do it."

Horn: "They got a bag of loot."

Dispatcher: "OK. How big is the bag?" He then talks off, relaying the information.

Dispatcher: "Which way are they going?"

Horn: "I can't ... I'm going outside. I'll find out."

Dispatcher: "I don't want you going outside, Mister..."

Horn: "Well, here it goes buddy, you hear the shotgun clicking and I'm going."

Dispatcher: "Don't go outside."
On the tape of the 911 call, the shotgun can be heard being cocked and Horn can be heard going outside and confronting someone.

"Boom! You're dead!" he shouts. A loud bang is heard, then a shotgun being cocked and fired again, and then again.

Then Horn is back on the phone:
"Get the law over here quick. I've now, get, one of them's in the front yard over there, he's down, he almost run down the street. I had no choice. They came in the front yard with me, man, I had no choice! ... Get somebody over here quick, man."

Dispatcher: "Mister Horn, are you out there right now?"

Horn: "No, I am inside the house, I went back in the house. Man, they come right in my yard, I didn't know what the --- they was gonna do, I shot 'em, OK?"

Dispatcher: "Did you shoot somebody?

Horn: "Yes, I did, the cops are here right now."

Dispatcher: "Where are you right now?"

Horn: "I'm inside the house. ..."

Dispatcher: "Mister Horn, put that gun down before you shoot an officer of mine. I've got several officers out there without uniforms on."

Horn: "I am in the front yard right now. I am ..."

Dispatcher: "Put that gun down! There's officers out there without uniforms on. Do not shoot anybody else, do you understand me? I've got police out there..."

Horn: "I understand, I understand. I am out in the front yard waving my hand right now."

Dispatcher: "You don't have a gun with you, do you?

Horn: "No, no, no."

Dispatcher: "You see a uniformed officer? Now lay down on the ground and don't do nothing else."

Yelling is heard.

Dispatcher: "Lay down on the ground, Mister Horn. Do what the officers tell you to do right now."
Two days later, Horn released a statement through an attorney.

“The events of that day will weigh heavily on me for the rest of my life," it said. "My thoughts go out to the loved ones of the deceased.”

The identities of the men killed were released Friday.

They are Miguel Antonio Dejesus, 38, and Diego Ortiz, 30. Official records show that each of them had a prior arrest in Harris County for drug offenses.

The men were reportedly shot at a distance of less than 15 feet.

A woman who lives nearby who asked not to be identified told CBS News affiliate KHOU correspondent Rucks Russell that she always saw Horn as a grandfather figure. "He is the guardian of the neighborhood," she said. "He takes care of all our kids. If we ever need anything, we call him.”

But according to Tom Lambright, Horn’s attorney and a friend for more than four decades, he’s the one in need now. “He just needs everyone to know he’s not a villain, he’s not a bad guy,” Lambright said.

He went on to say that Horn voluntarily gave an extensive video statement to police immediately following the shooting.

Horn was not taken into custody after the shooting. A Harris County grand jury will decide if charges are to be filed.

Lambright says Horn acted in complete and total self defense and has nothing to hide.

Local opinion has been passionate on both sides of the shooting.

One letter to the Houston Chronicle said, "He didn't shoot them in the legs, to make sure they did not run away, or hold them at gunpoint until police arrived. No, he was judge, jury and executioner."

Another letter writer praised Horn, saying, "Where does the line form to pin a medal on Joe Horn? I want to get in line." Another wrote, "Let's get rid of the police force and just hire Joe Horn!"

Support for Horn was also running about 2-1 in an online survey of readers on the KHOU Web site.

The incident may prove a test for a new law recently passed in Texas which expands the right of citizens to use deadly force.

Under Texas law, people may use deadly force to protect their own property or to stop arson, burglary, robbery, theft or criminal mischief at night.

But the legislator who authored the "castle doctrine" bill told the Chronicle it was never intended to apply to a neighbor's property, to prompt a "'Law West of the Pecos' mentality or action," said Republican Sen. Jeff Wentworth. "You're supposed to be able to defend your own home, your own family, in your house, your place of business or your motor vehicle."
27558  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizens defend themselves/others. on: December 03, 2007, 09:16:54 PM
Important legal issues presented in this story:

AP Texas News
Nov. 15, 2007, 11:38AM
Elderly man shoots two suspected burglars at neighbor's home
© 2007 The Associated Press

PASADENA, Texas — A grand jury will decide if an elderly man who shot and killed two men he believed were robbing his neighbor's home acted within the limits of the state's self-defense laws.

The man, who is in his 70s, shot the two suspected burglars Wednesday afternoon in a quiet subdivision of the city southeast of Houston. He confronted the men as they were leaving through a gate leading to the front yard of his neighbor's home.

Just before the shootings, the man called 911 to say that he heard glass breaking and saw two men entering the home through a window, Pasadena police said.
"The man told the dispatcher: "I'm getting my gun and going to stop them. The dispatcher said, 'No, stay inside the house; officers are on the way.'," said police spokesman Vance Mitchell. "Then you hear him rack the shotgun. The next sound the dispatcher heard was a boom. Then there was silence for a couple of seconds and then another boom."

The telephone line then went dead, but the man called police again and told a dispatcher what he had done. He said he confronted the suspected burglars and asked them to stop, but they did not.
The man then fired twice, striking one of the suspected burglars in the chest, and the other on the side. The shooter's name was not released.

When police arrived, they found one dead man across the street, and the other two houses behind a bank of mailboxes in the Village Grove East subdivision.  The suspects' names were not released, but police said they had documentation from Puerto Rico, Colombia and the Dominican Republic.

Under state law, Texans are allowed to defend themselves with deadly force to protect their own property. The person using deadly force must believe there is no other way to protect their belongings.  Defense attorney Tommy LaFon, a former Harris County prosecutor, said the gunman may be on safe legal ground if the neighbor whose home was burglarized tells police he asked the man to watch his property.  "If the homeowner comes out and says, 'My neighbor had a greater right of possession than the people trying to break in,' that could put him (the gunman) in an ownership role," LaFon said.

According to the state penal code, a person can use force or deadly force to defend someone else's property if he reasonably believes he has a legal duty to do so or the property owner had requested his protection.
Here is the actual 911 call:
Texas Penal Code
is justified in using force or deadly force against another to
protect land or tangible, movable property of a third person if,
under the circumstances as he reasonably believes them to be, the
actor would be justified under Section 9.41 or 9.42 in using force
or deadly force to protect his own land or property and:
(1) the actor reasonably believes the unlawful
interference constitutes attempted or consummated theft of or
criminal mischief to the tangible, movable property;
(2) the actor reasonably believes that: (A) the third person has requested his protection of the land or property;
(B) he has a legal duty to protect the third person's land or property; or
(C) the third person whose land or property he uses force or deadly force to protect is the actor's spouse, parent, or child, resides with the actor, or is under the actor's care.

justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or
tangible, movable property:
(1) if he would be justified in using force against the
other under Section 9.41; and
(2) when and to the degree he reasonably believes the
deadly force is immediately necessary:
(A) to prevent the other's imminent commission of
arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the
nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime; or
(B) to prevent the other who is fleeing
immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated
robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the
property; and
(3) he reasonably believes that:
(A) the land or property cannot be protected or
recovered by any other means; or
(B) the use of force other than deadly force to
protect or recover the land or property would expose the actor or
another to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.

§ 9.41. PROTECTION OF ONE'S OWN PROPERTY. (a) A person in
lawful possession of land or tangible, movable property is
justified in using force against another when and to the degree the
actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to
prevent or terminate the other's trespass on the land or unlawful
interference with the property.
(b) A person unlawfully dispossessed of land or tangible,
movable property by another is justified in using force against the
other when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force
is immediately necessary to reenter the land or recover the
property if the actor uses the force immediately or in fresh pursuit
after the dispossession and:
(1) the actor reasonably believes the other had no
claim of right when he dispossessed the actor; 


Sec. 83.001. CIVIL IMMUNITY A defendant who uses force or deadly force that is justified under Chapter 9, Penal Code, is immune from civil liability for personal injury or death that results from the defendant's use of force or deadly force, as applicable. 
27559  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Solving a Geopolitical Problem with Iran on: December 03, 2007, 07:32:32 PM
The NIE Report: Solving a Geopolitical Problem with Iran
By George Friedman

The United States released a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Dec. 3. It said, "We judge with high confidence that in the fall of 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program." It went on to say, "Tehran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005." It further said, "Our assessment that Iran halted the program in 2003 primarily in response to international pressure indicates Tehran's decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs."

With this announcement, the dynamics of the Middle Eastern region, Iraq and U.S.-Iranian relations shift dramatically. For one thing, the probability of a unilateral strike against Iranian nuclear targets is gone. Since there is no Iranian nuclear weapons program, there is no rationale for a strike. Moreover, if Iran is not engaged in weapons production, then a broader air campaign designed to destabilize the Iranian regime has no foundation either.

The NIE release represents a transformation of U.S. policy toward Iran. The Bush administration made Iran's nuclear weapons program the main reason for its attempt to create an international coalition against Iran, on the premise that a nuclear-armed Iran was unacceptable. If there is no Iranian nuclear program, then what is the rationale for the coalition? Moreover, what is the logic of resisting Iran's efforts in Iraq, rather than cooperating?

In looking at the report, a number of obvious questions come up. First, how did the intelligence community reach the wrong conclusion in the spring of 2005, when it last released an NIE on Iran, and what changed by 2007? Also, why did the United States reach the wrong conclusions on Iran three years after its program was halted? There are two possible answers. One is intelligence failure and the other is political redefinition. Both must be explored.

Let's begin with intelligence failure. Intelligence is not an easy task. Knowing what is going on inside of a building is harder than it might seem. Regardless of all the technical capabilities -- from imagery in all spectra to sensing radiation leakage at a distance -- huge uncertainties always remain. Failing to get a positive reading does not mean the facility is not up and running. It might just have been obscured, or the technical means to discover it are insufficient. The default setting in technical intelligence is that, while things can be ruled in, they cannot simply be ruled out by lack of evidence.

You need to go into the building. Indeed, you need to go into many buildings, look around, see what is happening and report back. Getting into highly secure buildings may be easy in the movies. It is not easy in real life. Getting someone into the building who knows what he is seeing is even harder. Getting him out alive to report back, and then repeating the process in other buildings, is even harder. It can be done -- though not easily or repeatedly.

Recruiting someone who works in the building is an option, but at the end of the day you have to rely on his word as to what he saw. That too, is a risk. He might well be a double agent who is inventing information to make money, or he could just be wrong. There is an endless number of ways that recruiting on-site sources can lead you to the wrong conclusion.

Source-based intelligence would appear to be the only way to go. Obviously, it is better to glean information from someone who knows what is going on, rather than to guess. But the problem with source-based intelligence is that, when all is said and done, you can still be just as confused -- or more confused -- than you were at the beginning. You could wind up with a mass of intelligence that can be read either way. It is altogether possible to have so many sources, human and technical, that you have no idea what the truth is. That is when an intelligence organization is most subject to political pressure. When the intelligence could go either way, politics can tilt the system. We do not know what caused the NIE to change its analysis. It could be the result of new, definitive intelligence, or existing intelligence could have been reread from a new political standpoint.

Consider the politics. The assumption was that Iran wanted to develop nuclear weapons -- though its motivations for wanting to do so were never clear to us. First, the Iranians had to assume that, well before they had an operational system, the United States or Israel would destroy it. In other words, it would be a huge effort for little profit. Second, assume that it developed one or two weapons and attacked Israel, for example. Israel might well have been destroyed, but Iran would probably be devastated by an Israeli or U.S. counterstrike. What would be the point?

For Iran to be developing nuclear weapons, it would have to have been prepared to take extraordinary risks. A madman theory, centered around the behavior of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was essential. But as the NIE points out, Iran was "guided by a cost-benefit approach." In simple terms, the Iranians weren't nuts. That is why they didn't build a nuclear program.

That is not to say Iran did not benefit from having the world believe it was building nuclear weapons. The United States is obsessed with nuclear weapons in the hands of states it regards as irrational. By appearing to be irrational and developing nuclear weapons, the Iranians created a valuable asset to use in negotiating with the Americans. The notion of a nuclear weapon in Iranian hands appeared so threatening that the United States might well negotiate away other things -- particularly in Iraq -- in exchange for a halt of the program. Or so the Iranians hoped. Therefore, while they halted development on their weapons program, they were not eager to let the Americans relax. They swung back and forth between asserting their right to operate the program and denying they had one. Moreover, they pushed hard for a civilian power program, which theoretically worried the world less. It drove the Americans up a wall -- precisely where the Iranians wanted them.

As we have argued, the central issue for Iran is not nuclear weapons. It is the future of Iraq. The Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988 was the defining moment in modern Iranian history. It not only devastated Iran, but also weakened the revolution internally. Above all, Tehran never wants to face another Iraqi regime that has the means and motivation to wage war against Iran. That means the Iranians cannot tolerate a Sunni-dominated government that is heavily armed and backed by the United States. Nor, for that matter, does Tehran completely trust Iraq's fractured Shiite bloc with Iran's national security. Iran wants to play a critical role in defining the nature, policies and capabilities of the Iraqi regime.

The recent U.S. successes in Iraq, however limited and transitory they might be, may have caused the Iranians to rethink their view on dealing with the Americans on Iraq. The Americans, regardless of progress, cannot easily suppress all of the Shiite militias. The Iranians cannot impose a regime on Iraq, though they can destabilize the process. A successful outcome requires a degree of cooperation -- and recent indications suggest that Iran is prepared to provide that cooperation.

That puts the United States in an incredibly difficult position. On the one hand, it needs Iran for the endgame in Iraq. On the other, negotiating with Iran while it is developing nuclear weapons runs counter to fundamental U.S. policies and the coalition it was trying to construct. As long as Iran was building nuclear weapons, working with Iran on Iraq was impossible.

The NIE solves a geopolitical problem for the United States. Washington cannot impose a unilateral settlement on Iraq, nor can it sustain forever the level of military commitment it has made to Iraq. There are other fires starting to burn around the world. At the same time, Washington cannot work with Tehran while it is building nuclear weapons. Hence, the NIE: While Iran does have a nuclear power program, it is not building nuclear weapons.

Perhaps there was a spectacular and definitive intelligence breakthrough that demonstrated categorically that the prior assessments were wrong. Proving a negative is tough, and getting a definitive piece of intelligence is hard. Certainly, no matter how definitive the latest intelligence might have been, a lot of people want Iran to be building a nuclear weapon, so the debate over the meaning of this intelligence would have roared throughout the intelligence community and the White House. Keeping such debate this quiet and orderly is not Washington's style.

Perhaps the Iranians are ready to deal, and so decided to open up their facility for the Americans to see. Still, regardless of what the Iranians opened up, some would have argued that the United States was given a tour only of what the Iranians wanted them to see. There is a mention in the report that any Iranian program would be covert rather than overt, and that might reflect such concerns. However, all serious nuclear programs are always covert until they succeed. Nothing is more vulnerable than an incomplete nuclear program.

We are struck by the suddenness of the NIE report. Explosive new intelligence would have been more hotly contested. We suspect two things. First, the intelligence on the Iranian nuclear program consisted of a great number of pieces, many of which were inherently ambiguous and could be interpreted in multiple ways. Second, the weight of evidence for there being an Iranian nuclear program was shaded by the political proclivities of the administration, which saw the threat of a U.S. strike as intimidating Iran, and the weapons program discussion as justifying it. Third, the change in political requirements on both sides made a new assessment useful. This last has certainly been the case in all things Middle Eastern these past few days on issues ranging from the Palestinians to Syria to U.S. forces in Iraq -- so why should this issue be any different?

If this thesis is correct, then we should start seeing some movement on Iraq between the United States and Iran. Certainly the major blocker from the U.S. side has been removed and the success of U.S. policies of late should motivate the Iranians. In any case, the entire framework for U.S.-Iranian relations would appear to have shifted, and with it the structure of geopolitical relations throughout the region.

Intelligence is rarely as important as when it is proven wrong.
27560  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Death in the Cage on: December 03, 2007, 06:13:31 PM

Houston mixed martial artist Sam Vasquez died Friday, more than five weeks after he was critically injured in a bout.

He was 35.

Vasquez is the first mixed martial arts fighter to die after suffering injuries in a sanctioned bout. American Doug Dedge died in 1998 after being knocked out in an unregulated fight in the Ukraine.

Vasquez was hospitalized after being knocked out in the third round of a fight against Vince Libardi of San Antonio at the Renegades Extreme Fighting show Oct. 20 at Toyota Center. He lost consciousness and suffered a seizure immediately following the knockout. Vasquez had been in intensive care at St. Joseph Medical Center in Houston before being transferred to a local hospice last Monday.

The Harris County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed Vasquez's death. The cause of death is still to be determined.

"It's a terrible thing; a rare thing," said Lewis Wood, who assisted with preparations for the fight but was not Vasquez's primary trainer. "Obviously, injuries are common, but no one ever expects anything like this to happen. He was the nicest guy in the world. This is a hard one for everyone who knew him."

While hospitalized, Vasquez suffered a massive stroke. According to comments posted by Vasquez's wife, Sandra, to a forum on, Vasquez was in a medically induced coma and had undergone two surgeries to remove blood clots in his brain. As with all combat-sports bouts sanctioned by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, Vasquez was required to be medically cleared to fight.

Renegades promoter Saul Soliz has been staging professional and amateur shows in Texas since 2000. He had the necessary license from the TDLR to stage the event. Calls to Soliz were not returned.

Vasquez is survived by his wife and a son.

2nd article

Sam Vasquez of Houston may have become the first fighter to die from injuries sustained in mixed martial arts competition in North America.

A report by The Fight Network cited the Harris County (Texas) medical examiner's office confirming Vasquez's death at 8:15 p.m. Friday. The cause of death was not released.

Vasquez had been battling for his life since taking a hard right to the chin from 21-year old Vince Libardi on Oct. 20 during a Renegades Extreme Fighting show at the Toyota Center in Houston. The blow knocked Vasquez out and he was rushed to St. Joseph Medical Center, where he stayed until moving to hospice care on Monday.

The 35-year-old Vasquez was competing in the featherweight division (145 pound weight class) in the third match of a 12-match card promoted by Saul Soliz, the longtime boxing coach of Ultimate Fighting Championship superstar Tito Ortiz. The show was overseen by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Calls to the department on Sunday were not immediately returned.

After taking a flurry of punches from Libardi, Vasquez collapsed in the ring and the fight was waved off at 2:50 of the third round. Emergency medical technicians worked on him in the ring for several minutes until he suffered what appeared to be a seizure and was rushed to the hospital.

Vasquez's condition worsened from there. On Nov. 4, two weeks after being admitted, he underwent the first of two surgeries to relieve the pressure of a large clot in his brain, then had a massive stroke on Nov. 9 and was placed in a medically induced coma.

Vasquez, who had a seven-year-old son, came into the match with a 1-1 record, and had not fought in 13 months. Libardi, 14 years Vasquez's junior, entered the match with seven pro fights and 10 rounds of action over three fights in the time since Vasquez had last fought in Sept. 2006.

"There was nothing out of the ordinary," Paul Erickson, who was at ringside taking photos, said in an interview with The Fight Network. "They scrambled and hit the cage. Sammy stood up and looked a little wobbly. Then he went down and the referee called the doctor in. It didn't seem like anything was out of the ordinary. Sammy was winded and looked exhausted, but he wasn't unconscious when they carried him out. Everyone was puzzled at the time because no one could tell when or where he was injured."

MMA had until recently been considered highly controversial, and a group of critics led by Sen. John McCain caused it to be banned in several states in the mid-to-late 1990s and pressured cable companies to not air its pay-per-view events.

In the past two-and-a-half years, though, the sport exploded in popularity due to television exposure of UFC, the sport's major league franchise. UFC's success has spawned hundreds of smaller promotions around North America with many states now holding more MMA events than boxing events.

Mixed martial arts officials and fans have long noted that there had never been a death in a sanctioned MMA match, a statistic no other combat sport could claim.

The only confirmed death prior to government oversight came when 31-year-old Douglas Dedge of Chipley, Fla. passed away on March 18, 1998, from severe brain injuries suffered in a match two days earlier at a non-sanctioned event called World Super Challenge in Kiev, Ukraine. Dedge had passed out in a training session leading up to the fight, but went through with the match anyway.

27561  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Huckabee on: December 03, 2007, 12:12:09 PM
When I first met Mike Huckabee, now the GOP frontrunner in the Iowa caucuses, it was 1993 and he had just been elected Arkansas's first GOP lieutenant governor in a stunning upset. He spoke glowingly at the time of his political consultant, Dick Morris. But Mr. Morris soon went back to his old client Bill Clinton, like Mr. Huckabee a man born in Hope, Ark., to help Mr. Clinton repair his battered presidency.

Flash forward 14 years: While Mr. Morris underwent a famous falling-out with the Clintons, he remains a favorite of Mr. Huckabee and reports the two men "have been holding private conversations" on a regular basis. It's no surprise then that Mr. Morris has been extolling Mr. Huckabee's virtues in his newspaper columns and Fox News appearances. Just last week, he defended the former Arkansas governor against attacks on his tax record by the free-market Club for Growth. "Mike Huckabee is a fiscal conservative," Mr. Morris insisted.

Few would be shocked if Mr. Morris, a famously flexible political advocate, were soon defending Mr. Huckabee against charges that he had a curious habit of pardoning convicted felons. In one famous case, Mr. Huckabee pushed for the freedom of Wayne Dumond, a convicted rapist -- who, 11 months later, sexually assaulted and murdered a woman.

Mr. Morris told the Los Angeles Times on Sunday that Mr. Huckabee's sometimes left-leaning record on spending and criminal justice would be an overall plus because many voters agree with the former governor in the power of forgiveness. "He puts all of the Bible into play," Mr. Morris told the Times. "It's not just 'thou shalt not, thou shalt not, thou shalt not,' but it's the positive aspects of his religion, too -- which is 'love thy neighbor,' and 'when I was naked you clothed me,' and a sense of helping poor people."

Mr. Morris is often brilliant, but his knowledge of internal Democratic Party politics is stronger than his expertise on the reactions and behavior of GOP primary voters. Mr. Huckabee is on a roll now, but voters in Iowa and New Hampshire have only just begun to be told about his surprisingly liberal record in Arkansas. Since some 40% of Iowa caucus goers in the past have been strong Christians, it will be interesting to see if Mr. Huckabee's faith and background as a minister will continue to trump evidence of his often liberal views.

-- John Fund
Huckabee's Tax Challenge

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is good at one-liners. When asked if Jesus would have supported the death penalty, he shot back: "Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office." When asked if NASA should land on Mars, he said yes and Hillary Clinton should be on the first rocket. Asked by a reporter what he thought about former Sen. Fred Thompson's attack ad that shows an old news clip of Mr. Huckabee as governor before he lost 100 pounds listing one tax after another he would support raising, the governor got off one of his better lines: He said that he must have been under the influence of sugar at the time.

It's a good line, but not good enough. Mr. Huckabee's easy style, quick wit and solid support from Christian conservatives have propelled him into serious contention for the GOP nomination. He's running strong in Iowa and within striking distance in New Hampshire. He now represents the biggest threat to Mitt Romney's strategy of winning the nomination by winning big in Iowa and New Hampshire. But to put the race away, Mr. Huckabee will need to unite fiscal conservatives and Christian voters -- the coalition that sent the last three Republican presidents to the White House.

That coalition could fracture, however, unless Mr. Huckabee quickly addresses his record on taxes. He likes to point out that as governor he cut taxes some 90 times. What he doesn't say, however, is that he also raised more than 20 different taxes for a net tax hike during his tenure of about $500 million. He also left it to his successor -- Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe -- to cut the state's hated sales tax, which Mr. Beebe did shortly after taking office.

When we pressed Mr. Huckabee on his tax record a few months ago, he said he "won't apologize" for raising taxes because he needed the money to repair his state's decrepit highways. Fresh asphalt always seems to appeal to Republican elected officials -- especially those who love earmarking federal highway funds. But it's not something that will win over fiscal conservatives. What Mr. Huckabee needs now is to offer a plausible explanation on why he won't raise taxes as president for similar reasons -- what he needs, in short, is a big tax reform commitment that can appeal to both wings of the Republican Party.

-- Brendan Miniter
Quote of the Day I

"In the biggest surprise of the campaign so far, the election that almost everyone thought would be about Iraq is turning out not to be.... The result is that both the Democratic and Republican campaigns are looking more like the campaigns of the 1990s. The Republican who has benefited most from Iraq's slide [to a lower ranking in the concerns of voters] is Mike Huckabee, who this summer was in low single digits in Iowa and is now running neck and neck with Mitt Romney for first place. A few months ago, commentators were saying that conservatives no longer cared as much about abortion, gay marriage and the like; they were more focused on the 'war on terror.' Rudy Giuliani has bet his whole campaign on that proposition. Romney's competence theme is a not-so-subtle critique of the way President Bush has handled the war. Huckabee, by contrast, has virtually no national security profile. In an Iraq-dominated campaign, it's hard to imagine him as a serious contender" -- Washington Post columnist Peter Beinart, on polls showing a sharp decline in the number of primary voters who say Iraq is their top concern.

Political Journal/WSJ
27562  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA DVD: "DLO 2: Bringing a Gun to a Knife Attack" on: December 03, 2007, 11:00:56 AM
I just realized we have two threads on DLO-2.  In the interest of thread coherency, this being the bigger thread of the two, I am pasting below today's post on the other thread and locking the other thread.



I just received DLO & DLO 2 and have watched the first DVD of the series. EXCELLENT material. Can't wait to see DLO2!!!

Skinny Devil
27563  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DLO 2: Bringing a gun to a knife attack on: December 03, 2007, 10:59:21 AM
Woof Skinny Devil:

Our bad-- there are two threads dedicated to this topic, so I am pasting your post here on the other one because the other thread is bigger and locking this thread.  Sorry for our mixup.

27564  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rudy on Taxes and Spending on: December 03, 2007, 09:45:32 AM

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The Meaning of Fiscal Conservatism
December 3, 2007; Page A21

With economic uncertainty weighing on the minds of many Americans, Congress is preparing to recess after another year of profligate spending, protectionist talk and promises of higher taxes. No wonder some people feel like we're moving in the wrong direction. But I'm optimistic as I look to the future. It's not our country that's moving in the wrong direction -- it's Congress, and Washington's culture of wasteful spending.

Over the last decade, nondefense spending has increased by 65% -- the federal government currently spends $24,000 per household -- while the number of earmarked pork projects rocketed from close to 1,000 to a height of nearly 14,000. This year, with only one appropriations bill enacted, earmarks already number 2,161.

A return to fiscal conservative principles can put America back on the right track, while giving Washington a much-needed dose of discipline.

Fiscal conservatism is based on two fundamental principles -- cutting taxes and controlling spending. In recent years, the Republican Party has successfully cut taxes, but we have fallen short when it comes to controlling spending. The next president will need to strengthen both sides of the fiscal conservative equation, while reforming the culture of wasteful government spending with transparency and accountability. I believe I can do it because I've done it, and in a place that might even be more difficult than Washington.

We need to keep taxes low for our economy to grow. It's not just a theory for me. I cut taxes 23 times as mayor of New York City with a Democratic City Council and State Assembly, and saw that lower taxes can result in higher revenue. Amid fears of an economic slowdown, now is the time to cut taxes, not raise them. But the Democratic presidential candidates all seem determined to impose an unprecedented $3 trillion tax hike on the American people.

Republicans have a clearer understanding of how our economy works. This summer, I unveiled my tax plan, which committed to making the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent, while aiming for still-lower marginal rates. We'll give the death tax the death penalty, index the Alternative Minimum Tax for inflation as a step toward eliminating it entirely, expand tax-free savings accounts, and expand health-care choice through tax reform. We also need to reduce the corporate tax rate -- which is currently the second highest in the industrialized world, behind Japan -- to at least the average of the other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations, or 28%. These actions will protect American jobs, empowering us to compete and win in the global economy.

Controlling spending must be a chief executive's priority or it doesn't get done. That's a lesson I learned from Ronald Reagan, and put into action when I was mayor. Real per capita spending actually fell during my administration. We cut the city bureaucracy by 20%, excluding cops on the street and teachers in the classroom.

We can do the same thing in Washington. Over the course of the next two terms, 42% of the federal civilian workforce is due to retire. We'll only hire back half, taking the opportunity to right-size government by taking advantage of technology like the private sector did in recent years, and ultimately save taxpayers $21 billion annually.

We also need to return to spending controls and caps, a proven way to make Washington set priorities. As president, I will direct all federal agency heads to find 5% to 10% efficiency savings. If they come back to me and say it's impossible to find 5% savings in a $2 billion agency, I'll call on the Office of Management and Budget to identify the cuts. It's time to put the "M" back in OMB.

Reforming a culture of wasteful spending requires standing up to special interests and insisting on transparency and accountability. Congress spent $29 billion on earmarks last year alone. Earmarks are the broken windows of the federal budget, signs of dysfunction and distress. Recent examples range from the absurd ($1.1 million in 2005 for researching baby food made from salmon) to the self-congratulatory ($2 million for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service). The American people want us to end earmarks once and for all.

But more needs to be done. We need to root out wasteful spending and fraud in benefit payments and contracts by convening a Government Waste Commission, such as the one that closed military bases. It can require Congress to vote up or down on a whole package of recommended cuts, beginning by considering the 3% of programs currently rated "ineffective" by the federal government itself.

Finally, we can both save money and provide better services by consolidating duplicative programs. We don't need 342 economic development programs or 130 programs serving at risk youth or 72 federal programs dedicated to ensuring safe water (according to a 2004 report). No doubt many of these programs are worthy, but citizens shouldn't have to navigate a maze of overlapping bureaucracies. Digital one-stop-shop centers will provide better citizen service at lower cost, while transforming industrial age bureaucracies to fit the information-age citizen.

Returning to principles of fiscal conservatism is not an end to itself. We believe these ideas ultimately help government work better for all Americans. Cutting taxes and controlling spending creates a government that is smaller and smarter, more efficient and more effective. It can help balance the budget and reduce the deficit. Most of all, a healthy combination of pro-growth policies and fiscal discipline unleashes the genius of America's free-market economy -- empowering not government, but the citizens it exists to serve.

Mr. Giuliani is the former mayor of New York and a Republican presidential candidate.

27565  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / George Mason on: December 03, 2007, 09:19:06 AM
"Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of his
constituents, as the certainty of returning to the general mass
of the people, from whence he was taken, where he must participate
in their burdens."

-- George Mason (speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention,
17 June 1788)

Reference: The Papers of George Mason, Rutland, ed., vol. 3 (1093)
[Sheehan (5:5)]
27566  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: December 02, 2007, 09:45:49 AM
Closest thing I've ever seen to a flying man.  Amazing.
27567  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA DVD: "DLO 2: Bringing a Gun to a Knife Attack" on: December 01, 2007, 11:30:01 PM
Woof All:

The following quick initial review is by LEO and frequently published writer Kevin Davis:

"Die Less Often 2: Brining a Gun to a Knife Attack

"I just finished reviewing the second installment of Marc Denny and Gabe
Suarez's study of the "interface of empty hands and gun in defending
against the knife and I must say that I was very pleased with the DVD.

"When Calibre Press first examined knife defense for law enforcement more than
twenty years ago with "Surviving Edged Weapons" they sought out Dan Inosanto
to illustrate the deadly effectiveness of edged weapons.  Needless to say it
opened many officers eyes as to the devastating potential of the blade.
That said there was a large group of officers that believed that the answer
was to draw and shoot the knife wielding suspect, (this is still true

"The first Die Less Often DVD clearly showed that unless you have
trained in simple gross motor skills and understand the dynamics of the
knife attack, the most you might achieve is a "mutual slay."  Die Less Often
2 picks up where the first DVD let off and shows how to first stop the
attack using the Kali Fence and Dog Catcher and then create the opening for
the pistol using sound movement.  Incorporating empty hand and the gun is a
"must" for today's LEO or armed citizen as statistics clearly show that most
armed encounters are close range affairs and frequently look more like a
"fight with guns" than the traditional "gunfight" a la "Shootout at the OK

"Kudos to Marc and Gabe for bringing their respective talents together in the
pursuit of a safer way to defend against the blade.  I look forward to more
collaborative effort from these two modern day martial arts masters."
27568  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizen-Police interactions on: December 01, 2007, 11:03:27 AM
Officer asks for help:

A) Hue & Cry

B)  The 2007 Florida Statutes

Title XLVI
CRIMESChapter 843
OBSTRUCTING JUSTICEView Entire Chapter843.06 Neglect or refusal to aid peace officers.--Whoever, being required in the name of the state by any officer of the Florida Highway Patrol, police officer, beverage enforcement agent, or watchman, neglects or refuses to assist him or her in the execution of his or her office in a criminal case, or in the preservation of the peace, or the apprehending or securing of any person for a breach of the peace, or in case of the rescue or escape of a person arrested upon civil process, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. History.--s. 16, ch. 1637, 1868; RS 2585; GS 3505; RGS 5391; CGL 7530; s. 2, ch. 28118, 1953; s. 1, ch. 63-433; s. 1039, ch. 71-136; s. 32, ch. 73-334; s. 1338, ch. 97-102.
27569  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russian wrench on: November 30, 2007, 02:36:53 PM
Russia: A Wrench in U.S. Plans for the Middle East

Not to be outshined by the United States, the Russian government has been busy forging Middle East peace negotiations of its own, particularly between Syria and Israel over the Golan Heights. Though Iran is already nervous at the thought of Syria coming to terms with Israel, the mullahs in Tehran can be somewhat assured that the Russians have not really set their sights on a comprehensive peace agreement. Instead, Moscow is playing its own crafty game of diplomacy to sabotage Washington's efforts at Annapolis.


Russia has been spending a good deal of time in the Middle Eastern sandbox lately. From hosting Hamas leaders in Moscow to backing up Iran against the United States and playing the role of messenger between Israel and Syria, there is no conflict in the region that Moscow has not thrown itself into.

As part of this aggressive diplomatic campaign, former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, the premier Russian troubleshooter on all issues Middle Eastern (going back to the Soviet days), paid a private visit to Damascus in early November to deliver a message from President Vladimir Putin. It is believed that Primakov played a role in convincing Syrian President Bashar al Assad to send a representative to Annapolis and abandon plans for a Hamas-led "countersummit" in Damascus. The Primakov visit was followed by a Nov. 15 trip by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Sultanov and Russian Middle East envoy Sergei Yakovlev to Tel Aviv, where the two met with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Israeli National Security Council Secretary Ilan Mizrahi.

The next step in the game was revealed Nov. 29, when the Israeli daily Maariv reported that Sultanov is working on an Israeli-Syrian peace plan that would give Syria sovereignty over the Golan Heights, but provide a long-term lease for Israel to hold onto the strategic 7,296-foot Mount Hermon that it captured in the 1967 war. Information circulating in Moscow suggests that these moves are part of the Kremlin's efforts to convince the Syrians and Israelis to participate in a bilateral summit in Russia that would center on the issues of the Golan Heights and Syria's role in Lebanon.

For all this diplomatic maneuvering, the Russians are not exactly sincere in their efforts to bring about peace in the Middle East. Rather, the Russians intend to shift the track set by Washington at the Annapolis conference toward much thornier issues -- involving players the United States wants to avoid. By bringing up sticky issues such as the Golan Heights (which Washington had attempted to sidestep at the Annapolis conference) and organizing negotiations with Hamas (which Washington is trying to pretend does not exist as it moves negotiations forward between Fatah and Israel), Russia is strategically bending U.S. efforts at Annapolis out of shape -- all under the aegis of progress, of course. The Russian calculus is simple: shift the track toward "negotiations" that are certain to lead nowhere.

Despite Russia's true intentions, Iran is not comfortable in the slightest with the idea of Syria inching toward talks with Israel and the United States. These fears likely have been compounded by the sudden turnaround in Lebanon, where the pro-West opposition and the United States have pretty much agreed to granting Syria's wish in having Lebanon's army chief, Michel Suleiman, take the presidency. Unless Syria's negotiations with Washington are held in concert with Iranian negotiations with the United States over Iraq, Tehran does not want Damascus in the negotiating picture. However, given that any progress on the Golan Heights issue with Israel must include the question of Syria's support for Hamas and Hezbollah -- Israel's two primary national security concerns and the two bargaining chips that Syria is unprepared to sacrifice at this point -- the Iranians can have reasonable assurance that these talks will not lead anywhere. The Russians are not interested in alliance management in the Middle East. This is about throwing a wrench into U.S. plans to create a new order in the region.
27570  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sinaloa Federation next? on: November 30, 2007, 02:23:47 PM
Targeting Mexico's Drug Cartels: Is the Sinaloa Federation Next?
Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon stepped up pressure on organized crime and drug trafficking organizations nearly a year ago, the hardest-hit organization has been the Gulf cartel. The extradition of cartel leader Osiel Cardenas-Guillen to the United States, the capture of several Gulf lieutenants and the concentrated presence of security forces in the cartel's territory have combined to put much more pressure on Gulf members than on those belonging to its rival, the Sinaloa federation of cartels. But Mexico City could soon begin targeting high-ranking members of the Sinaloa federation.

U.S. counternarcotics sources say Sinaloa leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, Mexico's most-wanted drug lord, is now believed to be hiding out in Pachuca, a city in the central Mexican state of Hidalgo. Guzman has been on the run since he escaped in 2001 from the Puente Grande maximum security prison in Jalisco state. Identifying the location of one of the most elusive drug traffickers in Mexico is a vital step in expanding the scope of the current war against the cartels.

The city where Guzman is believed to be hiding is not the most likely of locations -- perhaps the reason he has successfully eluded law enforcement for so long. Hidalgo state is not near the Sinaloa cartel's home territory of northwestern Sinaloa state, where Guzman is likely to have more friends and associates willing to aid him. Large cities in Sinaloa territory, however, are places where Mexican authorities would focus their search for him. Far from being an isolated village in the middle of nowhere, Pachuca is a state capital, located about 100 miles from Mexico City. Most important, in a country where cartel territory is violently conquered and defended, Pachuca is an essentially neutral region, in which rival drug traffickers do not have a particular interest in extending their influence.

Despite the risks of arrest and attack by rivals, Guzman has not exactly been hiding under a rock. Although his personal security needs are high -- requiring a large contingent of heavily armed bodyguards -- that fact has not stopped him from taking occasional trips over the last few years. One particularly high-profile event was his wedding in Coahuila state in July, for which the local military commander reportedly ordered some of his soldiers to man roadblocks out of the area -- assumingly following a payoff. While romancing his 18-year-old bride, Guzman reportedly flew to her town in one of his six private aircraft after several hundred security guards had locked down the town.

Such high-profile and public movements simply mean that Guzman has been receiving assistance from a variety of official sources. In the world of Mexican organized crime, it is common for high-ranking cartel figures to have law enforcement officers and military personnel on their payrolls. They also typically have strong connections to government officials at all levels, who provide protection in exchange for financial contributions. Guzman has a long history of buying off officials who are in the position to help him. In the Puente Grande prison break, for instance, at least 30 guards were implicated in assisting in the escape.

Since Calderon's crackdown, Mexican authorities have been cooperating more and more with their more capable U.S. counterparts. They most likely focused on the Gulf cartel first because, unlike Sinaloa territory, the area in northeastern Mexico controlled by the Gulf cartel has more important industrial and commercial interests. This kind of coordination could be what is needed to take Guzman into custody.

It is unclear exactly what will happen to the Sinaloa federation once Guzman is out of the picture, though it unlikely will maintain its current form. The Sinaloa cartel leads a federation of smaller drug trafficking organizations, most significantly the Zambada Garcia organization and the Esparragoza organization, both of which are led by former high-ranking Juarez cartel members. With Guzman either dead or in custody, the leaders of these groups could reassess their relationships with the Sinaloa group, resulting in a loss of a significant portion of Sinaloa's territory and limiting its ability to import South American cocaine.

27571  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: November 30, 2007, 12:13:08 PM
Quote of the Day

"I think CNN does itself a great disservice when it doesn't apply the exact same kind of criteria to both debates. I covered both of them. In the Democratic debate, I don't think there were any questions that were clearly coming from, you know, a Republican point of view. They were generally sympathetic. They were about global warming and health care and education, all kind of Democratic issues. They weren't challenging them. There was one kind anti-tax question, I think, but they weren't challenging the basic principles of the Democratic Party. There were lots of questions last night [at the GOP debate] that were. I think the question about the Bible was mocking. I think one of the abortion questions was clearly not from someone who was pro-life" -- Mara Liasson of National Public Radio on the Republican and Democratic presidential debates sponsored by CNN and Google's YouTube affiliate.

CNN's Bumper Crop

Last week, CNN's Anderson Cooper quipped in an interview with that "campaign operatives are people too" and CNN wasn't worried if political partisans posed questions at the GOP debate he'd be moderating the following Wednesday. "We don't investigate the background of people asking questions [by submitting video clips]. It's not our job," he said.

Yet now CNN's logo has egg splattered all over it as the network scrambles to explain how a co-chair of Hillary Clinton's veterans' committee was allowed to ask a video question on gays in the military at Wednesday's debate. The questioner, retired Brig. Gen. Keith Kerr, was flown at network expense from California to the debate site in Florida so he could repeat his question to the candidates in person. CNN claims it verified retired Brig. Gen. Kerr's military status and checked his campaign contribution records, contradicting Mr. Cooper's blasé attitudes. But the network still somehow missed his obvious connection to the Hillary campaign which any Google search would have turned up.

CNN later airbrushed Mr. Kerr's question out of its rebroadcast of the debate, indicating that it apparently doesn't think "campaign operatives" are legitimate questioners at the network's debates.

Now it appears that an amazing number of partisan figures posed many of the 30 questions at the GOP debate while pretending to be CNN's advertised "undecided voters." Yasmin from Huntsville, Alabama turns out to be a former intern with the Council on American Islamic Relations, a group highly critical of Republicans. Blogger Michelle Malkin has identified other plants, including declared Obama supporter David Cercone, who asked a question about the pro-gay Log Cabin Republicans. A questioner who asked a hostile question about the pro-life views of GOP candidates turned out to be a diehard John Edwards supporter (and a slobbering online fan of Mr. Cooper). Yet another "plant" was LeeAnn Anderson, an aide to Leo Gerard, president of the American Steel Workers Union and a prominent Edwards backer.

It seems more "plants" are being uprooted with each passing day. Nearly one-third of the questioners seem to have some ties to Democratic causes or candidates. Another questioner worked with Democratic Senator Dick Durbin's staff. A former intern with Democratic Rep. Jane Harman asked a question about farm subsidies. A questioner who purported to be a Ron Paul supporter turns out to be a Bill Richardson volunteer. David McMillan, a TV writer from Los Angeles, turns out to have several paeans to John Edwards on his YouTube page and has attended Barack Obama fundraisers.

Given CNN's professed goal to have "ordinary Americans" ask questions at its GOP debate, how odd that so many of the video questioners selected by CNN turned out to be not just partisan Democrats, but actively hostile to the GOP's messages and candidates.

political journal WSJ
27572  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 30, 2007, 10:08:20 AM
American Brain Drain
November 30, 2007; Page A16
One myth dogging the immigration debate is that employers are fibbing (or grossly exaggerating) when they claim that hiring foreign professionals is unavoidable because U.S.-born Ph.D.s are hard to come by. But a new report on doctorates from U.S. universities shows they're telling the truth, and then some.

Foreign-born students holding temporary visas received 33% of all research doctorates awarded by U.S. universities in 2006, according to an annual survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. That number has climbed from 25% in 2001. But more to the point of business competitiveness, foreign students comprised 44% of science and engineering doctorates last year.

"China was the country of origin for the largest number of non-U.S. doctorates in 2006," says the report, followed by India, Korea, Taiwan and Canada. "The percentage of doctorates earned by U.S. citizens ranged from lows of 32% in engineering and 47% in physical sciences, to highs of 87% in education and 78% in humanities." Given this reality, is it any wonder that 40% of Ph.D.s working in U.S. science and engineering occupations are foreign-born?

Immigration opponents still claim that the likes of Intel and Oracle merely want to hire Chinese engineers on the cheap. In fact, U.S. law already prohibits companies from paying these foreign nationals less than natives. And all other things being equal, the American job applicant has an advantage because employers are required to pay an additional $4,000-$6,000 in taxes and fees on every H-1B visa holder they hire.

A mere 65,000 H-1B visas for foreign professionals are allocated each year. And this year, as in the previous four, the quota was exhausted almost as soon as the applications became available in April. This effectively means that more than half of all foreign nationals who earned advanced degrees in math and science in 2007 have been shut out of the U.S. job market.

Economic protectionists oppose lifting the visa cap to meet demand. But it makes little sense for our universities to be educating these talented foreign students, only to send them packing after graduation. Current policies have MIT and Stanford educating the next generation of innovators -- and then deporting them to create wealth elsewhere.

Closing the door to foreign professionals puts U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage and pushes jobs out of the country. Worse, it does so at a time when other nations are rolling out the welcome mat. Earlier this year Microsoft, which is the third-largest sponsor of H-1B visas, announced plans to open a new software development center near Vancouver. The decision to locate the facility in Canada was based in part on the fact that it doesn't have access to enough foreign workers state-side.

"We currently do 85% of our development work in the U.S., and we'd like to continue doing that," says Jack Krumholtz, the company's director of government affairs. "But if we can't hire the developers we need, . . . we're going to have to look to other options to get the work done." Meanwhile, the European Union recently introduced its own new temporary work visa that's designed to reduce red tape and waiting periods for foreign professionals.

If the U.S. spurns this human capital, it will find a home somewhere else. And that will be America's loss.
27573  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Fred's Folly on: November 30, 2007, 06:39:53 AM
Fred's Folly
Too bad Thompson won't sell his good ideas.

Friday, November 30, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

On Fox News this Sunday, Fred Thompson laid out the most creative tax proposal yet in the race for president. It should have been an important moment, the point at which GOP aspirants finally dug into a core issue and went a few rounds over marginal rates and corporate levies.

Instead, nothing. The Thompson plan inspired little fanfare, less press and didn't even merit time during this week's GOP debate. The black hole says everything about the mess that is the Thompson campaign, and just as much about today's intellectually bereft Republican primary campaign.

The standard rap on the former Tennessee senator is that he's lazy. This is meant to explain why--despite movie-star status, Southern conservative credentials, and Beltway experience--his campaign has been as fizzy as day-old cherry Coke. The reality is more complex--and more concerning for Mr. Thompson's presidential prospects.

The Watergate attorney has made himself into this election's Don Quixote, the impractical idealist tilting at "the system." Even as he announced his run on the Jay Leno show in September, Mr. Thompson quipped he "wasn't in the room when they made the rules" that resulted in today's sped up, big-money, 24-hour-news-byte primary. He has refused to play nice--declaring late and declining to join rivals in the media hoopla and nonstop campaign. It has proven a case study in the folly of trying to single-handedly buck modern politics.

It might have helped if Mr. Thompson, who stated his intention to trust in "the people" to give him a hearing, had offered those people something more than personality at the start of his tardy campaign. It has instead only been very recently that he has, admirably, tried to craft himself into the ideas candidate.
He's proposed revitalizing America's armed forces by increasing the core defense budget, building up a million-member ground force, and instituting sweeping missile defense. He went where no other GOP candidate has yet gone with a detailed plan to shore up Social Security, by changing the benefits formula and offering voluntary "add on" accounts for younger workers. He would re-energize school vouchers. His border security blueprint certainly matches Mitt Romney's or Rudy Giuliani's in its, ahem, creativity and thoroughness.

This week's tax proposal was decidedly fresh, going beyond the run-of-the-mill candidate promise to extend the Bush tax cuts, and calling for the end of the death tax and the AMT, a cut in the corporate tax rate and even a voluntary flat tax. According to a campaign source, in upcoming weeks Mr. Thompson will unveil plans to reduce federal spending by limiting nondefense growth to inflation, earmark reform, and a one-year freeze on the hiring of non-essential civilian workers and contractors.

There's plenty here to get conservative voters and bloggers and pundits engaged in some healthy, even lively, debate. That is, if they'd heard any of this. Most haven't, and for that Mr. Thompson has mostly himself to blame.

While it isn't clear who set the "rules" for this manic election, they're set. Voters may only pay attention at the end, but having an infrastructure to make sure those voters hear you in the final months is the work of years. By sitting back, Mr. Thompson allowed his rivals to scoop up the well-connected policy wonks, committed state activists and aggressive fund-raisers that oil a campaign. His own refusal to "do" the media and public-event circus has muzzled his message, as the failure of his tax-plan announcement shows.

Think back to 1999, when Gov. George W. Bush--who knew something about campaigns--unveiled his own tax outline. His people had a dozen brainy conservative economists at the ready to blitz the media. Outside business groups stood by with glowing press releases. Average families were found to serve as real-life examples of how the tax cut would help. The campaign staff fanned out and joined local activists to manage the grass roots. The candidate himself devoted endless time to flogging his idea in public appearances and to every press person and editorial board around.

None of this happened in the wake of Mr. Thompson's Fox announcement. The campaign simply didn't have the stuff to pull it off. Worse, its own leader refused to do what is expected. A look at Mr. Thompson's schedule revealed not a single public appearance for three days after the release, right up to Wednesday's highly uninformative CNN debate.

Speaking of dull debates, that's Mr. Thompson's other problem. To the extent he is now trying to float ideas (and he could use even more), the rest of the field wants nothing of it. The GOP went into this race thinking itself the likely loser, and that fear has defined the primary. The candidates aren't vying to lead a wayward party out of malaise, or energize voters with new ideas. They're instead trying to be the answer to a question: Who can beat her?
That's made the race about biography, in particular on issues like national security and immigration, where Republicans hope a Hillary Clinton will be weak. Mr. Giuliani's campaign is about his past as a New York tough guy who can face down terrorists. Mr. Romney's, his past as an MBA who can manage our border. Mr. McCain's, his past as a Vietnam vet who recognized the problems in Iraq. There's no future in this present, and Mr. Thompson's lackluster delivery of his own agenda has allowed the front-runners to continue avoiding the big debates.

Mr. Thompson's inertia has meant his campaign is no longer in control of its destiny. His best shot now is that Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Romney go nuclear, leaving him with a ticket out of Iowa and some hope. He still ranks second behind Mr. Giuliani in national polls. But putting himself in a position to build off any lucky outcomes will involve trying to play the game he so detests. If he believes his ideas are as important for the country as he says they are, he will.

Ms. Strassel is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, based in Washington. Her column appears Fridays.

27574  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / James Madison: Virtue on: November 30, 2007, 05:16:51 AM
"Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a
wretched situation. No theoretical checks-no form of government
can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will
secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is
a chimerical idea, if there be sufficient virtue and intelligence
in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these
men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence
in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them."

-- James Madison (speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention,
20 June 1788)

Reference: The True Republican, French, ed. (28-29)
27575  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / CT Scan risks on: November 30, 2007, 05:15:40 AM
Published: November 30, 2007

CT scans have long been cited as a prime example of how the overuse of fancy medical technologies can drive up the cost of health care. Now there are newly voiced concerns that computed tomography, or CT, may be a health risk as well.

The scans, which were introduced in the 1970s, have revolutionized medical imaging by producing three-dimensional views of organs and other tissues. The scans are undeniably of great value in helping doctors diagnose just what is causing a patient’s illness or pain. But a critique published in The New England Journal of Medicine by two researchers at Columbia University’s Center for Radiological Research warns that usage has spread so rapidly that high, lifetime doses of radiation are now becoming a pubic health hazard.

More than 62 million CT scans were performed in the United States last year, a huge increase from the 3 million performed in 1980. And each scan gives the patient a far higher dose of radiation than a conventional X-ray would. Unfortunately, even many doctors have no idea how much radiation a CT scan delivers.

The risk that a single CT scan might cause cancer is very small, and the medical benefits of diagnosing an ailment far outweigh the slight radiation risk. The problem comes when CT scans are not medically appropriate, such as full-body scans to screen patients who feel fine on the chance that some hidden disease might be detected, or when CT scans are repeated again and again as patients traipse from one doctor to another while their medical records lag behind.

The researchers cite previous estimates that a third of all CT scans performed in the United States could be replaced with less risky diagnostic technologies or not performed at all. If true, that means that some 20 million adults and 1 million children in this country are being irradiated unnecessarily each year. In coming decades, the researchers suggest, as many as 2 percent of all cancers in the United States may be because of radiation from CT scans performed today.

Even if these predictions are on the high side, as some radiologists and medical device manufacturers contend, the message for patients and their doctors is clear: Restrict the use of CT scans to cases where they can truly aid in diagnosis and consider other options, such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging, which have no radiation risk.

NY Times
27576  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Who is that living in my house? on: November 30, 2007, 04:55:59 AM
Caveat Lector: NY Times

BAGHDAD, Nov. 29 — As Iraqi refugees begin to stream back to Baghdad, American military officials say the Iraqi government has yet to develop a plan to absorb the influx and prevent it from setting off a new round of sectarian violence.

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A New, Sectarian Map
Enlarge This Image
Michael Kamber for The New York Times
A mother led her daughter to a car waiting in Baghdad’s Mansour neighborhood Sunday after arriving from Damascus, Syria.
The Iraqi government lacks a mechanism to settle property disputes if former residents return to Baghdad only to find their homes occupied, the officials said. Nor has the Iraqi government come forward with a detailed plan to provide aid, shelter and other essential services to the thousands of Iraqis who might return. American commanders caution that if the return is not carefully managed, there is a risk of undermining the recent security gains.

“All these guys coming back are probably going to find somebody else living in their house,” said Col. William Rapp, a senior aide to Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, speaking at a two-day military briefing on measuring military trends for a small group of American reporters in Baghdad.

“We have been asking, pleading with the government of Iraq, to come up with a policy so that it is not put upon our battalion commanders and the I.S.F. battalion commanders to figure it out on the ground,” he added, referring to the American and Iraqi security force commanders.

When sectarian violence soared in 2006, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis fled to Syria and Jordan, or moved to safer areas in Iraq. But now that the American troop reinforcement plan and a new counterinsurgency strategy have helped reverse a rising tide of car bombings and sectarian killings, there are signs that Iraqis are starting to return.

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has hailed the development as an indication that security is beginning to improve. As if to underscore Mr. Maliki’s point, 375 Iraqi refugees arrived Thursday in a convoy of buses from Damascus, Syria, escorted by heavily armed policemen. After the lengthy journey, the tired Iraqis were ushered into the white marble affluence of the Mansour Melia Hotel in Baghdad to receive a promised government payout to people returning to the capital.

Many neighborhoods in Baghdad have become largely Shiite or Sunni, as one group drove the other out in calculated sectarian cleansing. Sunnis have moved into Shiite homes, and Shiites into Sunni ones. This segregation has contributed to the decline in violence. But what would happen if the original residents insisted on moving back into their homes?

Ahmad Chalabi, a Shiite politician and former Iraqi exile who made common cause with the Americans against Saddam Hussein, has been charged with developing a plan to provide services.

American officers discussed estimates of the displaced Iraqis at a seminar here on the military’s metrics of assessing violence in Iraq held at Camp Victory.

Recent American military data indicates that for the fourth week in a row, the nationwide weekly number of attacks is at its lowest level since January 2006. The number of civilians killed, as measured by the American and Iraqi governments, continued to decline in November. The number of weekly casualties, wounded as well as killed, suffered by Iraqi civilians, Iraqi forces and American forces, increased last week by 56 percent but was still below the level for most of 2006 and 2007.

The military also lowered its tally of how many Iraqis had joined neighborhood watch groups. The new figure for Concerned Local Citizens, as the military calls the volunteers, is 60,321. The previous estimate of 77,000 erroneously combined the number of volunteers who are currently serving with those who had expressed a willingness to join.

Col. Martin Stanton, who oversaw the count, said he told General Petraeus about the new figures this week.

Military officials said that they were seeking to make greater use of some Iraqi government data to provide a more comprehensive portrayal of the situation in Iraq. Though there are concerns about the reliability of some Iraqi reports, American military data generally understates Iraqi civilian deaths, since American units only report what they observe, officials said. At General Petraeus’s recommendation, the Pentagon is expected for the first time to include the Iraqi government data on civilian deaths in its report next month on security trends in Iraq.

While there is no question that large numbers of Iraqis have left their homes, American officials said that the exact number is not available. The International Organization for Migration has reported that the number of internally “displaced” Iraqis — those who have fled their homes but still live in Iraq — has grown to more than one million since the February 2006 bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra. Among those displaced Iraqis, more than 350,000 live in Baghdad Province, according to estimates by humanitarian organizations.

Estimates by the Iraqi Red Crescent of the number of displaced Iraqis run much higher, but are marred by the double and triple counting of Iraqis who move from one area to another, American officials say. One difficulty in fixing an accurate count is that many displaced Iraqis do not register their migrant status with Iraqi authorities, American officials said.

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A New, Sectarian Map In addition, more than two million Iraqis are also estimated to have left Iraq altogether for neighboring counties like Syria and Jordan and other nations.

Col. Cheryl L. Smart, who tracks the data on displaced Iraqis for General Petraeus’s command, said that the American military had been “very vocal” with the Iraqi government about the need to establish a system to adjudicate claims about property rights and to avoid using Iraqi troops to carry out “forced evictions.”

Colonel Rapp voiced the hope that confrontations might be avoided by building new homes for returning Iraqis instead of forcing all of the squatters to leave. “It is probably going to be resolved with new housing construction as opposed to wholesale evictions and resettlement,” he said.

“Whether they will remix is probably a multiyear, decade kind of issue,” he added, referring to the possibility of sectarian reintegration.

“The immediate return of I.D.P.’s will create tensions in that system, and we are concerned about it,” he said, referring to the internally displaced people in Iraq.

A senior Sunni official said that the government was not doing nearly enough. “There are many missing links,” said an Iraqi vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni. “We don’t have a comprehensive plan. We have a ministry of migration, but the problem is the bureaucracy.”

Speaking at his home in the Huriya neighborhood in northwest Baghdad, Mr. Chalabi said he was aware of the issue of returnees’ lingering fears. “I don’t think that people who have committed crimes or transgressions against their fellows in those areas would come back,” Mr. Chalabi said. “But the fear of, for example, the Sunnis here, is that the people who did the transgressions on the other side continue to be here and that they may threaten them.”

He said that he had put forward proposals for large-scale new housing developments, but that they should not be on a sectarian basis. “Baghdad is an integrated city and we should try to get it back to an integrated city,” he said.

Col. J. B. Burton, commander of the Second Brigade Combat Team of the First Infantry Division, which controlled northwest Baghdad until this month, said that some neighborhood leaders had made efforts to allow displaced Iraqis to return to their residences, but that their programs were hampered by the lack of a national plan.

“Displacement is a national issue,” Colonel Burton said Thursday in an e-mail exchange. “The government has got to establish policies which are not focused on sects.”

Most of the Iraqis who returned to the Mansour Melia Hotel on Thursday said they were returning voluntarily after hearing reports that the security situation had improved, but some said they had been forced to return because they had no jobs or money in Syria.

Some said their houses were long ago destroyed by Shiite militias or Sunni insurgents, or still occupied by people on the other side of the sectarian divide. Others said that it was still too unsafe to go back to areas like Dora, Jihad and Mansour, and that they would have to stay with relatives.

Abdul Kadim Mohammed, 58, a Shiite from Abu Ghraib, said he would be staying with relatives for now. “I feel more comfortable in Baghdad but still can’t go to Abu Ghraib, which is not completely good,” he said. “The next step that the government needs to work on is how to get back to our homes.”

27577  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: November 30, 2007, 04:46:55 AM
November 29, 2007
Guilty Verdict in Sudan for British Teacher

KHARTOUM, Nov 29 (Reuters) - A British teacher accused of insulting Muslims after her class called a teddy bear Mohammad was found guilty and jailed for 15 days, a defence lawyer said on Thursday.

Gillian Gibbons, 54, was ordered to be deported after she had completed her sentence.

"She was found guilty of insulting religion and the sentence is 15 days (in jail) and deportation," defence lawyer Ali Ajib said after the trial in a Khartoum courtroom, which lasted less than a day.

Robert Boulos, head of Unity high school where Gibbons worked, said: "We are happy with the verdict. It is fair. There were a lot of political pressures and attention."

He added: "We will be very sad to lose her."

When asked what he thought of the verdict, the head of Gibbons's defence teams, Kamal al-Jazouli, said: "It was not bad."

Gibbons was on Wednesday charged with insulting Islam, inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs because of the toy's name. Under Sudan's penal code, she could have faced 40 lashes, a fine, or up to one year in jail.

In court, judge Mohammed Youssef listened to two accounts -- one from school secretary Sarah Khawad, who filed the first complaint about the teddy bear's name, and one from the official who has been investigating the case, court sources said.

Teachers at the school say that calling the teddy bear Mohammad, the name of the prophet of Islam, was not her idea in the first place and that no parents objected when Unity High School sent parents circulars about a reading project which included the teddy bear as a fictional participant.

In London, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband had earlier told the Sudanese ambassador he was concerned about Gibbons.

"We believe that this was an innocent misunderstanding," Miliband said in a statement.

Sudan has had poor relations with Britain, the United States and most European countries for several years, mainly because of their disagreements over how to handle the conflict in the Darfur region in western Sudan.

The U.N. Security Council, of which Britain is a permanent member, wants to deploy a joint U.N.-African force to Darfur to restore order and help displaced people return home. Khartoum reluctantly agreed but is disputing many details.

Several British Muslim groups said they supported Gibbons.

"This (charging Gibbons) is a disgraceful decision and defies common sense. There was clearly no intention on the part of the teacher to deliberately insult the Islamic faith," said Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary-General of the MCB, Britain's largest Muslim organisation.
27578  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: November 30, 2007, 04:43:29 AM

INDIANAPOLIS -- Jenni Crowley says she can't understand why her son, a Marine reservist, is charged with murder in the death of an Iraqi soldier. Next week, she'll be in California to watch his lawyers try to clear him.The court-martial of Lance Cpl. Delano Holmes, 22, a graduate of Indianapolis' Ben Davis High School, is scheduled to begin Monday at Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he has been held in a brig since February.Holmes (pictured) is accused of fatally stabbing Munther Jasem Muhammed Hassin as the two men stood watch at a security post in Fallujah, Iraq, on Dec. 31, according to one of Holmes' attorneys.

Holmes is charged with unpremeditated murder. Crowley and Holmes' defense team say he was acting in self-defense."I can't believe this," Crowley told 6News' Rafael Sanchez of the charge. "This is a nightmare."Steve Cook, one of Holmes' attorneys, said earlier this year that Holmes and Hassin struggled in darkness after Hassin allegedly opened his cell phone and then lit a cigarette. The men were not supposed to display any illuminated objects because of the threat of sniper fire, and Holmes made repeated attempts to make Hassin extinguish the cigarette, Cook said.

Holmes knocked the cigarette out of Hassin's hands, and they started wrestling, according to Cook. Holmes thought Hassin was reaching for his loaded AK-47, so the Marine killed him with his bayonet and then radioed for help, Cook said.Crowley said her son "has never wavered from the fact that he did not intend to kill this Iraqi soldier.""He facing the possibility of life in prison, based on the charges, simply for defending himself when he felt he had no other option," Crowley said.Crowley started a Web site to inform people about the case and raise money for Holmes' legal defense fund.Crowley will go to California for the court-martial, which is expected to last about two weeks."It won't be easy," she said. "It will be a very hard time again for our family and for Del, but I have to believe that the God I know and love and trust will see us through somehow."
27579  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Counseling AQ in SA on: November 29, 2007, 09:37:06 PM
URL=1,500 Qaeda Members Freed After Counseling]1,500 Qaeda Members Freed After Counseling[/URL]

1,500 Qaeda Members Freed After Counseling
BY ELI LAKE - Staff Reporter of the Sun
November 27, 2007

WASHINGTON — On the eve of the Annapolis summit on the Middle East conflict, the Saudi royal family released 1,500 members of Al Qaeda from prison, requiring them only to promise to refrain from jihad within the Arabian Peninsula.

The presence of the Saudi foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, at the peace parley has been touted by the White House and the State Department as an important diplomatic breakthrough.

Mr. Faisal has said he was reluctant to attend the meeting, the first time the Saudis would be formal participants in an international peace conference dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict. In an interview with Time magazine, he said he would not shake the Israeli prime minister's hand and that he was only interested in a response to his kingdom's peace offer, a full withdrawal from the territory Israel won in 1967 in exchange for peace.

However, while the State Department was wooing the Saudi foreign minister, the kingdom's Interior Ministry released about 1,500 Al Qaeda members arrested in crackdowns that began in 2003 against the group headed by Osama bin Laden.

The story first broke over the weekend in the Saudi newspaper Al Watan. In an interview with the newspaper, a member of a special committee to reform jihadists in the kingdom, Muhammad al-Nujaimi, said the newly released prisoners had been reformed.

"The committee has met around 5,000 times to offer counseling to 3,200 people, who were accused of embracing the takfir ideology. The committee has successfully completed reforming 1,500 people," he said.

The ideology of takfir is prevalent in both fundamentalist interpretations of Sunni and Shiite Islam, and it holds that there are separate rules that allow Muslims to kill, lie to, and steal from nonbelievers.

While the Saudi state has at times been targeted by Muslims embracing the philosophy of takfir, its mosques and Ministry of Culture and Information also have been exporting the strain of Islam that encourages this doctrine.

Yesterday, an American intelligence analyst who was following the story said he was wary about the release of the prisoners. "This Saudi process of reform has been so opaque. What no one knows right now is whether the people who have gone through this program have pledged to stop practicing terror or whether they are only pledging to stop terror inside the kingdom."

Mr. Nujaimi told Al Watan that the reformed prisoners have pledged to end their campaign to rid the Arabian Peninsula of infidels. "After several graded sessions with the committee, and having been convinced of their misguided vision, they renounced their erroneous ideologies, including the concept of driving out all infidels from the Arabian Peninsula," he said.

The director of the Gulf and Energy program at the Washington Institute for Near East Affairs, Simon Henderson, told the New York Sun yesterday that he did not think the prisoner release was connected to Mr. Faisal's visit. "I don't see this as being connected with the Saudi decision to take part in the Annapolis meeting," he said.

Nonetheless, Mr. Henderson was skeptical about the program. "This would appear to be 1,500 people reformed so far out of 3,200 who have entered the so-called counseling process," he said. "By my calculation, that is less than a 50% success rate. And what is success? They don't use violence in the kingdom. Does this mean they can use this elsewhere, for example, in Iraq?"
27580  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Holland, Norway on: November 29, 2007, 05:40:08 PM

Cabinet warns Wilders on anti-Koran film

Wednesday 28 November 2007
The cabinet is concerned about a ‘provocative’ film about the Koran by anti-immigration party PVV leader Geert Wilders which he expects to be shown on tv at the end of January.
The justice, foreign and home affairs ministers, who are worried about a backlash from Islamic countries, have warned Wilders about the risks of screening such a film.
Justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin stressed that while Wilders is free to express his views about the Koran, he also has a responsibility towards society in general. ‘Think about the what the repercussions could be,’ he said.
If the film is hard-hitting, it could evoke hard-hitting reactions against himself and others,’ says the minister. Those who want a free debate must show respect for all religions and for things that are sacrosanct for others, he said.
Wilders says it is not the aim of his film to insult people but if they are insulted, that is ‘a pity but not my problem’. He says he wants Muslims to realise that the Koran is a ‘terrible and fascist’ book which inspires people to commit ‘terrible’ deeds.
He repeated his belief that the Koran, like Hitler’s Mein Kampf, should be banned in the Netherlands.
Abdelmajid Khairoun, chairman of the Dutch umbrella organisation of Muslim organisations, said Wilders’ film would damage not only Muslims but the Netherlands in general. In addition it could lead to a boycott of Dutch products similar to the anti-Danish reaction which followed the controversy about cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed two years ago.



Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Thursday that Krekar, the former head of Islamic guerrilla group Ansar al Islam, told a Kurdish web site that he's sure the Norwegian authorities will never deport him, because that would spark "reaction" against Norway from his Islamic supporters.
Krekar told web site Awane that the "reaction" would come from his relatives, from an armed group, and also from those who follow his religious teachings and sympathize with him.
The groups, he said, "probably are from Somalia or Morocco." He refused to specify what type of "reaction" he expected.
Krekar's remarks are being widely interpreted as new threats against Norway, and that, predictably enough, has sparked more anger among Norwegians who can't understand why Krekar remains in the country.
The official version is that Krekar faces a death sentence if sent back to his native Iraq. Norway won't deport anyone if their lives would officially be in danger, and no other country has volunteered to take over responsibility for Krekar.
The mullah originally came to Norway as a refugee, later won permission to have his family join him, and since has lived largely off Norwegian welfare. He first got in trouble with Norwegian authorities when it became known that he had repeatedly violated the terms of his asylum by traveling voluntarily back to northern Iraq, to lead the guerrilla group. US authorities have long considered Krekar a terrorist suspect.
Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who kept their swords.--Ben Franklin

27581  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Military fires warning shot across Chavez's bow on: November 29, 2007, 04:58:41 PM

VENEZUELA: Venezuela's armed forces might join citizens in opposing President Hugo Chavez's constitutional changes if their approval in a Dec. 3 referendum causes violence, Bloomberg reported, citing an interview with retired Venezuelan army officer Joel Acosta Chirinos published by Brazil's O Globo newspaper. Chirinos added that the possibility of the armed forces taking up arms cannot be ruled out.
27582  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / College Football concussions on: November 29, 2007, 09:17:41 AM

Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, a Heisman Trophy contender, was knocked unconscious by a crushing hit three weeks ago. The Oklahoma freshman quarterback Sam Bradford sustained a concussion while being trampled in a game two weeks ago.

Each impact triggered the delicate and controversial process of determining when the athlete is fit to return to the field, both that day and in subsequent weeks. College players operate in a murky zone: their bodies are between youth and manhood, they play in quasi-professional environments on national television — unpaid but with the riches of professional careers dangling before them — and no rules govern how concussions are treated in college football.

Amid much debate about the dangers of concussions, the National Football League has adopted new rules and guidelines for handling the injury. Experts are trying to raise awareness at the high school level, where players appear particularly susceptible to postconcussion syndrome and more serious injuries. At the college level, each team can devise its own procedure for diagnosing and treating concussions.

Hawaii’s Brennan and Oklahoma’s Bradford, both cleared by their team’s medical personnel, will start in crucial games Saturday: Brennan against Washington and Bradford against top-ranked Missouri in the Big 12 Conference championship game. Hawaii and Oklahoma stand to receive millions of dollars if they qualify for an elite bowl game.

Pritchard also has been cleared as Stanford prepares to play Saturday against the University of California at Berkeley, its archrival. But Coach Jim Harbaugh said in a telephone interview yesterday that he had not decided whether Pritchard would start or if T. C. Ostrander, who has started four games this season, will take Pritchard’s place.

Back at the Pritchard home in Lakewood, Wash., Kelli Pritchard, Tavita’s mother, has found herself resisting the urge to get as involved with her son’s care as her instincts tell her. She said that while she trusts Stanford’s medical staff, a part of her knows that a few years ago she would be driving Tavita to his pediatrician and having tremendous influence over his safety.

“I have to be careful that I’m not being condescending and asking questions that are totally inappropriate,” Kelli Pritchard said. “And yet I can’t ever separate myself from being the mama bear.”

Harbaugh said he expected both Pritchard and Ostrander to play Saturday because both are capable and of similar talent. He said he would decide how much each plays, and who starts, solely on how they perform in practice.

“We’ll make that evaluation on who gives us the best chance to win,” Harbaugh said. He added that unless Pritchard displayed the effects of the concussion in practice, which he had not through Tuesday, the injury would not be a consideration. “If there was some kind of postconcussion effect, like being not as accurate with his passes, that would without question impact how much he plays,” Harbaugh said.

Pritchard’s case has been scrutinized heavily both inside and outside Stanford, in part because of a strange series of events in which Pritchard was removed from the Notre Dame game last Saturday but returned for several downs after Ostrander was injured, only to be removed again.

Pritchard’s concussion took place late in the third quarter when he was struck in the helmet after a long scramble. He lay motionless for about 30 seconds before standing up and woozily walking off the field.

Harbaugh said trainers on the sideline gave Pritchard the Standardized Assessment of Concussion test, a 10-minute series of questions that evaluates short-term memory, cognitive awareness and other neurological issues.

“He received a perfect score,” Harbaugh said. Doctors also determined that Pritchard was displaying no physical symptoms of a concussion.

When Ostrander injured his hand midway through the fourth quarter, Harbaugh said he was told by medical personnel that Pritchard had been cleared to play. Pritchard appeared for one series, and took one hard tackle in which his head struck the ground again, before Ostrander returned for the rest of the game.

“The doctors determined that he was cleared to go back in after 10 minutes,” Harbaugh said. “I believe that there definitely should be scrutiny on this. But the other thing that I’m saying is that we have a concussion protocol. Tavita passed that. We have a battery of doctors that were with him from the time he got hit until the time he went back into the game. And that decision is clearly in the hands of the doctors, 100 percent. Coaches don’t make those decisions, and neither do the players.”


Page 2 of 2)

Pritchard said in a telephone interview: “I think it looked worse than it was. It kind of looked like T. C. went down, is Tavita O.K., he’s O.K., and I run in. People need to know that there was a lot more that was done beforehand.”

The question of whether a player who sustains a concussion should ever return to the same game can be divisive. It is strongly discouraged at the high school level because studies have shown that teenagers’ brain tissue is less developed and they are more susceptible to subsequent concussions, which in rare cases can lead to coma or death. (At least 50 high school or younger football players in more than 20 states since 1997 have been killed or have sustained catastrophic head injuries on the field, according to research by The New York Times.)

N.F.L. players, meanwhile, are generally believed to be fit to return if their symptoms have cleared.

Dr. Henry Feuer, who works the sidelines for every home football game for Indiana University and the Indianapolis Colts, and also counsels many of his state’s high schools, agreed with several other experts that college athletes are generally more comparable to professionals than high school players. He also said that most — if not all — Division I programs have formal postconcussion guidelines and testing.

“I feel strongly that teenagers are different, and high schools often don’t have a physician on the sideline,” Feuer said. “In college they almost always do and they have sports-medicine athletic trainers, too.”

Oklahoma’s Bradford sustained a concussion in a Nov. 17 game against Texas Tech, and was removed after telling team personnel that he was forgetting the plays. Scott Anderson, the Sooners’ head athletic trainer, said that Oklahoma used the Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics test, another set of questions that evaluate neurological symptoms, in determining that Bradford should not return to the game.

Bradford was cleared to play the next week. Anderson said he was pleased that Bradford alerted team personnel to his injury because, as opposed to a sprained knee, concussions can be (and often are) hidden by a player who wants to stay in the game.

“One of our huge battles with concussion is we’re extremely dependent on self-reporting,” Anderson said.

The injury to Hawaii’s Brennan was obvious — while he was scrambling in the fourth quarter, a Fresno State player hit him at full speed virtually helmet-to-helmet. Brennan was briefly knocked unconscious and did not return. The Hawaii team doctor, Andrew Nichols, declined to be interviewed about how Brennan was cleared to play the following week, on Nov. 16. Last Friday, in a victory against Boise State, Brennan passed for 495 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Brennan had the extra consideration of his professional future. Sustaining another concussion could cost him several spots and millions of dollars in next spring’s N.F.L. draft. Without discussing Brennan specifically, Feuer said that he asks every prospect at the N.F.L. combine about his concussion history.

“You check for easy concussability, and whether it takes them a long time to get back,” Feuer said. “That gets put into their negative column, or whatever, come draft time.”

The last thing Kelli Pritchard said she has considered this week was how Tavita’s sitting out Saturday would affect his N.F.L. future. She speaks with Tavita several times a day on the phone to monitor how he is feeling, but knows that all she can do is hope that her feelings are considered.

“I know a lot is going to go into this decision,” Kelli Pritchard said. “It’s a really hard decision to make for everybody, because everybody’s going to get criticized one way or another.”
27583  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Balkans on: November 29, 2007, 08:50:07 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Breaking Eggs in Kosovo

Kosovo is one of those places people know have problems, but figure will be contained and not become a concern to the international community. Ever since the air campaign conducted against Yugoslavia in 1999 by NATO, and particularly the United States, the Serbian province of Kosovo has been treated as territory occupied and policed by NATO and the policy of the occupiers has been, ultimately, to create a separate and independent Kosovo, which is ethnically dominated by Albanians but historically part of Serbia.

Ethnic Albanians and Serbs from Kosovo conducted talks for the last three days, but failed to reach an agreement on Kosovo's status. French Lt. Gen. Xavier de Marnhac, speaking at a press conference, warned of tough times ahead in Kosovo and asked for clear guidance from the international community as to what he is supposed to do if violence erupts. "It's going to be tough and to expect to do that without breaking eggs, forget it," De Marnhac said. "We will definitely break some eggs." We assume this is French for kicking some butt.

The problem is that Belgrade regards Kosovo as part of Serbia and its current ethnic makeup as the result of Albanian and NATO actions, and does not intend to abandon the province. The rest of Europe does not really want to force it to. Once it is established that a region with a different ethnic makeup has the inherent right to independence, then other regions in Europe might also lay claim to independence. There is Northern Ireland, the Basque regions of Spain, the Hungarian regions in Romania and Slovakia and a range of aspiring nations in the former Soviet Union.

European stability since World War II has rested on the concept that borders are inviolable, even if they contain within them regions of other nationalities. The break-up of Czechoslovakia was the result of mutual agreement, and that is precisely what the Europeans want. They do not want Kosovo to set a precedent for Belgian Walloons wanting out of Belgium. To a great extent the world wars of the 20th century were triggered by borders not matching nationalities.

The Europeans expected the Serbs to behave like Europeans, abandoning nationalism for the economic benefits of inclusion in the European Union. That would have solved everything, but the Serbs have not behaved that way. They accept exclusion from Europe if the price is Kosovo. This has baffled Europe. They do not know how to deal with Serbia. They do not want to separate Kosovo by force, nor can they get Serbia to agree to separation.

Add to this the fact that the Russians are adamantly opposed to an independent Kosovo and the entire matter is elevated to a global issue. The Russians see themselves as allies of Serbia and they fear that if Albanian Muslims are allowed to become independent from an Orthodox Christian country, the precedent might spread to Chechnya or elsewhere in Russia. Moreover, Putin is looking for a chance to test his strength against the United States, and the last thing the Europeans want is the Russians and Americans testing their strength in Europe. They have had quite enough of that.

On the other hand, the Kosovar Albanians seem committed to declaring unilateral independence soon. When they do, the NATO troops in Kosovo will have to make a decision on exactly which eggs to break. That is why de Marnhac asked for guidance on what to do should the Albanians declare a state. If NATO defends the new state, then the precedent is set, and it will have to break Serbian eggs. If it suppresses the new state, then it has to break Albanian eggs.

The Euro-American assumption was that at some point the Serbs in Belgrade would break and force the Serbs in Kosovo to accept an Albanian government. That hasn't happened and it probably won't. The problem is that the Americans and Europeans don't have a Plan B. An Albanian move to independence will leave everyone paralyzed, which is exactly why the Albanians will try it. The next step is probably to try to get the Albanians not to declare independence, but they have little motivation to listen.

If Kosovo breaks out of the box it was placed in in 1999, there will be another Balkan crisis, another Christian-Muslim confrontation and a confrontation between NATO and Russia. That should be enough to convince anyone that the evolution of events in Kosovo will matter. The Serbs will refuse to bend and the Albanians will not let this chance slip.

We understand the good general warning about broken eggs and asking for guidance on which eggs to break. Unfortunately, guidance requires a political decision, and NATO does not make decisions well. Therefore the underlying policy of NATO will continue to consist of hope coupled with civil servants holding meetings. Until all hell breaks loose in the Balkans again.

27584  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton on govt. debt on: November 29, 2007, 08:39:10 AM
"As on the one hand, the necessity for borrowing in particular
emergencies cannot be doubted, so on the other, it is equally
evident that to be able to borrow upon good terms, it is essential
that the credit of a nation should be well established."

-- Alexander Hamilton (Report on Public Credit, 9 January 1790)

Reference: The Reports of Alexander Hamilton, Cooke, ed. (2)
27585  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Huckabee on: November 28, 2007, 06:51:55 PM
Third post of the day:

Political Journal/WSJ

"From day one, I have been convinced that [former Arkansas Gov. Mike] Huckabee, who is an amazing talent, is running for president to further his career, not serve in the Oval Office. Landing hefty speaking fees and handsome book deals, and perhaps his own cable television gig, are assuredly in his future. It's not that Huckabee is beneath the presidency; it's that he operates in a different orbit. He longs for the spotlight. He loves to entertain and is less concerned with the substance of what he says than with the impression he leaves.... He is a modern-day populist who delights in the sowing-and-reaping praise of others, especially those from the left, but for what, to advance some sort of ideological cause? No, it's about advancing Mike Huckabee" -- David Sanders, a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau and a former aide to Mike Huckabee.
27586  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: November 28, 2007, 05:18:04 PM
Baltic Dog:

What word on yours?

27587  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington to Patrick Henry on: November 28, 2007, 01:59:41 PM
"My ardent desire is, and my aim has comply strictly
with all our engagements foreign and domestic; but to keep the U
States free from political connections with every other Country.
To see that they may be independent of all, and under the
influence of none.  In a word, I want an American character,
that the powers of Europe may be convinced we act for ourselves
and not for others; this,  in my judgment, is the only way to be
respected abroad and happy at home."

-- George Washington (letter to Partick Henry, 9 October 1775)

Reference: The Writings of George Washington, Fitzpatrick, ed.,
vol. 34 (335)
27588  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / 9 year old suspended for hate crime on: November 28, 2007, 01:57:27 PM

9-year old suspended for 'hate crime'
Robert Anglen
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 27, 2007 03:05 PM

A Glendale elementary school principal has admitted to telling a 9-year old boy that it is OK to have racist feelings as long as you keep them to yourself.

“As we said to (the boy) when he was in here, in your heart you may have that feeling, and that is OK if that is your personal belief,” Abraham Lincoln Traditional School Principal Virginia Voinovich said in a tape-recorded parent-teacher conference.

The boy was suspended for three days this month for allegedly committing a “hate crime” by using the expression “brown people.” advertisement 

In an interview Monday, Voinovich would not address her comments, first saying she didn't remember the incident, then demanding a copy of the recording and finally insisting that she could not talk about a student's discipline.

The circumstances of the boy’s suspension itself raise troubling questions about student discipline, interrogation and oversight at Abraham Lincoln.

According to school officials, the boy made a statement about “brown people” to another elementary student with whom he was having a conflict. They maintain it was his second offense using the phrase.

But the tape recording indicates this only came out after another parent was allowed to question the boy and elicited from him the statement that he “doesn't cooperate with brown people.”

After that was reported to the boy's teacher, he was made to stand in front of his class and publicly confess what he'd said.

The boy maintains that he never said it; that the words were put in his mouth by the parent who questioned him. That parent happens to be the mother of the student with whom he is having a conflict—and she happens to work for Abraham Lincoln as a detention-room officer.

The tape indicates that rather than just spouting off with racial invective, the boy was asked first why he didn't want to cooperate with brown people by the parent/school official.

In court, this might be called entrapment. Not to mention a conflict of interest.

Officials at the Washington Elementary School District, who are supposed to oversee Voinovich, wouldn't comment about the boy’s suspension. They said only the principal is qualified to talk about it.

Well, the boy’s mother is talking, and she is angry. She has also removed her son from the school.

“I want parents to know … that principals can abuse their powers,” Sherry Neve, 35, said. “Principals need to have pro-active supervisors. I want the parents to know that the principal was influencing my son in a way I wouldn't want him to be raised.”

Neve said school officials didn’t advise her of the incident until several days after they questioned her son. When Neve objected to the suspension during the conference, Voinovich told her that she didn't have any rights; that parents give up their rights to discipline when they send a child to school, the tape shows.

“If you don't want that, you can take him out of here,” Voinovich said tersely.

Neve insists that her son is not a racist and that he never differentiated a person's color until the school made it in an issue.

“We were raised to be color blind,” she said. “My children were raised the same way.”

But let's assume for a minute that the boy actually made the comment. Does this make him a racist and guilty of a hate crime? Or does it make him a confused 9-year-old in need of counseling?

Instead of taking an opportunity to educate the boy and get to the root of the problem, the principal taught him another lesson altogether: It's OK to feel like a racist as long as you keep your feelings to yourself.

Kids often say the darndest things. Apparently, so do principals.
27589  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Muslim Girls Scouts on: November 28, 2007, 01:45:38 PM
Its the NY Times, so caveat lector:

Published: November 28, 2007
MINNEAPOLIS — Sometimes when Asma Haidara, a 12-year-old Somali immigrant, wants to shop at Target or ride the Minneapolis light-rail system, she puts her Girl Scout sash over her everyday clothes, which usually include a long skirt worn over pants as well as a swirling head scarf.

Girls from predominantly Muslim Troop 3119 in Minneapolis at an indoor cookout on a rainy day.
She has discovered that the trademark green sash — with its American flag, troop number (3009) and colorful merit badges — reduces the number of glowering looks she draws from people otherwise bothered by her traditional Muslim dress.

“When you say you are a girl scout, they say, ‘Oh, my daughter is a girl scout, too,’ and then they don’t think of you as a person from another planet,” said Asma, a slight, serious girl with a bright smile. “They are more comfortable about sitting next to me on the train.”

Scattered Muslim communities across the United States are forming Girl Scout troops as a sort of assimilation tool to help girls who often feel alienated from the mainstream culture, and to give Muslims a neighborly aura. Boy Scout troops are organized with the same inspiration, but often the leap for girls is greater because many come from conservative cultures that frown upon their participating in public physical activity.

By teaching girls to roast hot dogs or fix a flat bicycle tire, Farheen Hakeem, one troop leader here, strives to help them escape the perception of many non-Muslims that they are different.

Scouting is a way of celebrating being American without being any less Muslim, Ms. Hakeem said.

“I don’t want them to see themselves as Muslim girls doing this ‘Look at us, we are trying to be American,’ ” she said. “No, no, no, they are American. It is not an issue of trying.”

The exact number of Muslim girl scouts is unknown, especially since, organizers say, most Muslim scouts belong to predominantly non-Muslim troops. Minneapolis is something of an exception, because a few years ago the Girl Scout Council here surveyed its shrinking enrollment and established special outreach coordinators for various minorities. Some 280 Muslim girls have joined about 10 predominantly Muslim troops here, said Hodan Farah, who until September was the Scout coordinator for the Islamic community.

Nationally, the Boy Scouts of America count about 1,500 youths in 100 clubs of either Boy Scouts or Cub Scouts sponsored by Islamic organizations, said Gregg Shields, a spokesman for the organization.

The Girl Scouts’ national organization, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., has become flexible in recent years about the old trappings associated with suburban, white, middle-class Christian scouting. Many troops have done away with traditions like saying grace before dinner at camp, and even the Girl Scout Promise can be retooled as needed.

“On my honor I will try to serve Allah and my country, to help people and live by the Girl Scout law,” eight girls from predominantly Muslim Troop 3119 in Minneapolis recited on one recent rainy Sunday before setting off for a cookout in a local park.

Some differences were readily apparent, of course. At the cookout, Ms. Hakeem, a former Green Party candidate for mayor, negotiated briefly with one sixth grader, Asha Gardaad, who was fasting for the holy month of Ramadan.

“If you break your fast, will your mother get mad at me?” Ms. Hakeem asked. Asha shook her head emphatically no.

The troop leader distributed supplies: hot dogs followed by s’mores for dessert. All was halal — that is, in adherence with the dietary requirements of Islamic law — with the hot dogs made of beef rather than pork.

It was Asha’s first s’more. “It’s delicious!” she exclaimed, licking sticky goop off her fingers as thunder crashed outside the park shelter with its roaring fire. “It’s a good way to break my fast!”

Women trying to organize Girl Scout troops in Muslim communities often face resistance from parents, particularly immigrants from an Islamic culture like that of Somalia, where tradition dictates that girls do housework after school.

In Nashville, where Ellisha King of Catholic Charities helps run a Girl Scout troop on a shoestring to assist Somali children with acculturation, most parents vetoed a camping trip, for example. They figured years spent as refugees in tents was enough camping, Ms. King recalled.

But a more common concern among parents is that the Girl Scouts will somehow dilute Islamic traditions.

To Muslim Girls, Scouts Offer a Chance to Fit In


Published: November 28, 2007
(Page 2 of 2)

“They are afraid you are going to become a blue-eyed, blond-haired Barbie doll,” said Asma, the girl who at times makes her sash everyday attire. Asma noted that her mother had asked whether she was joining some Christian cabal. “She was afraid that if we hang out with Americans too much,” the young immigrant said, “it will change our culture or who we are.”

Farheen Hakeem, troop leader, led girls in the reciting of the Girl Scout Promise.
Troop leaders win over parents by explaining that various activities incorporate Muslim traditions. In Minneapolis, for instance, Ms. Hakeem helped develop the Khadija Club, named for the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad, which exposes older girls to the history of prominent Muslim women.

Suboohi Khan, 10, won her Bismallah (in the name of God) ribbon by writing 4 of God’s 99 names in Arabic calligraphy and decorating them, as well as memorizing the Koran’s last verse, used for protection against gossips and goblins. Otherwise, she said, her favorite badge involved learning “how to make body glitter and to see which colors look good on us” and “how to clean up our nails.”

Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. does not issue religious badges, but endorses those established by independent groups. Gulafshan K. Alavi started one such group, the Islamic Committee on Girl Scouting, in Stamford, Conn., in 1990. The demand for information about Muslim badges, Mrs. Alavi said, has grown to the point where this year she had the pamphlet listing her club’s requirements printed rather than sending out a photocopied flier. She also shipped up to 400 patches awarded to girls who study Ramadan traditions, she said, the most ever.

Predominantly Muslim troops do accept non-Muslim members. In Minneapolis, Alexis Eastlund, 10, said other friends sometimes pestered her about belonging to a mostly Muslim troop, although she has known many of its members half her life.

“I never really thought of them as different,” Alexis said. “But other girls think that it is weird that I am Christian and hang out with a bunch of Muslim girls. I explain to them that they are the same except they have to wear a hijab on their heads.”

Ms. Farah, who served as an outreach coordinator in Minneapolis and remains active in the Scouts, said she used the organization as a platform to try to ease tensions in the community. Scraps between African-American and Somali girls prompted her to start a research project demonstrating to them that their ancestors all came from roughly the same place.

Ms. Hakeem, the troop leader, said she tried to find projects to improve the girls’ self-esteem, like going through the Eddie Bauer catalog to cut out long skirts and other items that adhere to Islamic dress codes.

All in all, scouting gives the girls a rare sense of belonging, troop leaders and members say.

“It is kind of cool to say that you are a girl scout,” Asma said. “It is good to have something to associate yourself with other Americans. I don’t want people to think that I am a hermit, that I live in a cave, isolated and afraid of change. I like to be part of society. I like being able to say that I am a girl scout just like any other normal girl.”

27590  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: November 28, 2007, 01:28:39 PM
Second post of the day:

NY Times shadings and all, still an interesting piece:

By the time Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York stepped before a wall of television crews in the Public Hearing Room at City Hall on May 19, 2000, there were no surprises left.

Skip to next paragraph
The Long Run
A New York Moment
This is part of a series of articles about the lives and careers of contenders for the 2008 Republican and Democratic presidential nominations.

In the course of three tumultuous weeks, Mr. Giuliani had been told by doctors that he had prostate cancer. He had announced he was leaving his wife after tabloids reported he was having an affair. And now, he had come to withdraw from the Senate race against Hillary Rodham Clinton, bringing a sudden end to what was arguably the most anticipated Senate campaign of modern times.
But the 12 months leading to Mr. Giuliani’s departure are as instructive today as they were riveting then: a blistering year of mental gamesmanship, piercing attacks, contrasts in personalities and positions, and blunders, played out by two outsize political figures in a super-heated atmosphere.

It was a year in which both Mr. Giuliani and Mrs. Clinton gained many of the political skills the nation is seeing now as they campaign for president. It was a time in which they took a measure of one another as opponents. And it was a shared chapter in their lives that offers a window into what a 2008 White House contest between these New Yorkers might be like, should they each win their party’s nomination.

On the morning when Mr. Giuliani quit, the two sides were deep into preparing for a fall campaign. After an uncertain start in which Mr. Giuliani kept her off balance, Mrs. Clinton had found her way to handle the gibes thrown at her by the confrontational mayor. Rather than engage him, Mrs. Clinton became the foot-tapping, arms-folded sighing mother of a forever misbehaving teenager, a mien intended as much to infantilize Mr. Giuliani as to provoke him.

“I can’t be responding every time the mayor gets angry,” Mrs. Clinton said, smiling as she campaigned in upstate New York a few days before Christmas 1999. “Because that’s all I would do.”

Both sides were prepared for the battle. Television advertising scripts had been drafted (“She says she is a Yankee fan, but she hasn’t even been to a Yankee game,” was the tag line of one Giuliani advertisement), vulnerabilities had been identified and campaign themes tested. Mr. Giuliani’s aides had prepared an indexed 315-page dossier compiling positions and potentially damaging quotes from throughout her life, according to people who saw it. (It included an 11-page chronicle titled “Stupid Actions and Remarks.”)

Mr. Giuliani was going to portray Mrs. Clinton as inauthentic, inexperienced, a liberal champion of big government and a carpetbagger, his advisers said in interviews. Mrs. Clinton was going to paint Mr. Giuliani as divisive and undignified, temperamentally unsuited for the Senate, and profoundly uninterested in national and international affairs, her advisers said.

More than anything, the early stages of the 2000 Senate race offered a lesson on the politics of psychological warfare, as each campaign sought, in the words of one Clinton adviser, to “get inside the head” of the other’s candidate.

Mr. Giuliani pounced on Mrs. Clinton’s slightest misstep, sensing vulnerability in this new and nervous candidate. The mayor, a former prosecutor, often exaggerated her misdeeds and slightly mischaracterized her positions, aides said, in a deliberate effort to goad her into correcting his version of her record — while Mr. Giuliani skipped on to his next attack. He was brash and theatrical, flying to Little Rock one day to announce that he would fly the Arkansas flag over City Hall in New York to highlight the fact that Mrs. Clinton was running for office in a state where she had never lived.

In announcing his withdrawal from the race to succeed Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat, Mr. Giuliani said he wanted to turn his attention to fighting his cancer. But some of his aides and senior Washington Republicans say today they had concluded weeks before that he had lost interest in the race, in part because he had become enamored of Judith Nathan, the woman with whom he was having an affair, but also because he realized that he was drawn to the campaign more by the sport and distinction that would come with beating a Clinton than he was by the prospect of serving in the Senate.

As the spring came, Mr. Giuliani would joke gloomily, over cigars, about life as a junior senator and the transition of going from chief executive to one of 100 people, one friend said. He complained about the burdens of fund-raising, while his aides grew frustrated at his reluctance to campaign outside of New York City or discuss federal issues.

As their presidential campaigns look to the past in preparation for a possible renewal of their aborted contest, they have reached strikingly similar conclusions about their potential opponent: Eight years older and more experienced, Mr. Giuliani and Mrs. Clinton are each far tougher and more rounded candidates than they were in 2000.

“She is a great candidate now,” said Frank Luntz, who was Mr. Giuliani’s pollster in 2000. “She is a tough-as-nails candidate today. She has learned how to turn people who were openly hostile to her into supporters.”


Page 2 of 3)

Anthony V. Carbonetti, one of Mr. Giuliani’s chief political advisers, said Mrs. Clinton’s lack of executive experience was a critical liability with New York voters in 2000, and would be again with national voters.

“But she is a completely different person,” Mr. Carbonetti said. “You have to give her credit for the Senate experience now. She is not the demon now that she was coming out of the White House. I would not underestimate her at all.”
Much the same sentiment is voiced about Mr. Giuliani by Mrs. Clinton’s advisers. “I’m not going to dispute you on this: He seems like a more disciplined candidate now,” said Howard Wolfson, who worked as Mrs. Clinton’s communications director in 2000, where he frequently tangled with Mr. Giuliani, and is serving the same role again. “I am surprised at the way he has kept his anger in check.”

Ready to Run

It was the start of 1999, and Mr. Giuliani, like Mrs. Clinton, was approaching a turning point in his career. Term limits prevented him from running a third time for mayor, and his advisers said there was never much debate about what he should do next. He viewed the prospect of running against a Clinton as irresistible.

He instructed two of his top consultants from the 1997 campaign for mayor — Adam Goodman and Rick Wilson — to prepare a comprehensive catalog of her public statements, writings and positions going back to when she was a student at Wellesley, a road map into her foibles and vulnerabilities. (Turn to Page 39 for the Lincoln Bedroom; 139 for Whitewater.)

But Mr. Giuliani was trying to plan his campaign as he was running a city, and often seemed to make little effort to find time for his political advisers. They would hop into Mr. Giuliani’s Suburban as it whisked him around the city, where he would turn from talking about the best way to go after Mrs. Clinton to how to deal with the threat of a transit strike at the end of 1999. Mr. Luntz said Mr. Giuliani would arrive at Gracie Mansion after 10 p.m. for campaign planning meetings.

In these sessions, Mr. Giuliani and his aides concluded that Mrs. Clinton would run a highly ordered, meticulous and policy-driven campaign, make an appeal to women on Long Island, and seek to discredit Mr. Giuliani by identifying him with Washington Republicans.

In Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Giuliani’s aides told the mayor, he was facing a smart, cold and tentative opponent, unprepared for the maelstrom of a New York City campaign. The issue of her residency became more than a way to win tabloid headlines: Mr. Giuliani saw it as a way to underline voter perceptions of her as inauthentic, opportunistic and untrustworthy. When Mrs. Clinton flew to New York from Washington for a parade, Mr. Giuliani welcomed her with sarcasm. “I hope she knows the way,” he said. “I hope she doesn’t get lost on one of the side streets.”

Candidate in Training

Mrs. Clinton began that spring with a series of talks with advisers about what she should do now that her husband was leaving the White House. By late spring, the discussion — typically a half-dozen people gathered in the Yellow Oval Room in the second-floor family quarters of the White House — had evolved into a political tutorial on how to be a candidate, how to run in New York and how to deal with Mr. Giuliani.

Her advisers could not have been better suited to the task. Four of them had worked in tough New York campaigns, and two of those had worked in campaigns against Mr. Giuliani. (They remain the nucleus of Mrs. Clinton’s political cabinet today.)

Mandy Grunwald, Mrs. Clinton’s media adviser, was the media consultant to Ruth W. Messinger when she ran unsuccessfully for mayor against Mr. Giuliani in 1997. Mark Penn, who was Mrs. Clinton’s pollster and is today her chief strategist, advised David N. Dinkins when he defeated Mr. Giuliani in the 1989 mayor’s race.

Mr. Wolfson was communications director for Charles E. Schumer when he beat Senator Alfonse M. D’Amato in 1998. Harold Ickes, a longtime close adviser to the Clintons, has been a warrior in New York City politics for 40 years.

This group had observed Mr. Giuliani in three mayoral campaigns, and there was little disagreement about how to run against him: focus on his temperament, his identification with Republican policies and the notion that he was running for a job that did not interest him. Perhaps more significant, when viewed in the context of a potential 2008 rematch, Mrs. Clinton’s advisers suspected that the first lady, who grew up in suburban Chicago, would be a culturally more appealing candidate to rural voters than Mr. Giuliani.

Mrs. Clinton’s advisers reached many of the same conclusions about her weaknesses that Mr. Giuliani’s advisers had.


Page 3 of 3)

So it was that Mrs. Clinton began her campaign that summer not in New York or its suburbs, but in rural Republican upstate New York, sitting down with small groups of voters. The ostensible purpose of what was called her listening tour was to defuse the criticism of her residency. But it allowed her to learn how to be a candidate and test her upstate appeal.

Yet her low-profile, make-no-waves campaign style worried New York Democrats as they watched Mr. Giuliani gleefully goad her from City Hall.

Those worries peaked in November, when Mrs. Clinton traveled to the West Bank city of Ramallah and sat silently as Suha Arafat, the wife of the president of the Palestinian Authority, accused Israel of deploying carcinogenic gases to control Arab protesters in Gaza and the West Bank. It took 12 hours before Mrs. Clinton rebuked Mrs. Arafat; by that point, she had been repeatedly assailed by Mr. Giuliani.

In the weeks after her return, Mrs. Clinton and her advisers determined that they could not win the race unless they turned attention away from Mrs. Clinton and on to Mr. Giuliani: to cast him in “the angry frame,” as one described it. At every opportunity, Mrs. Clinton and her advisers suggested that Mr. Giuliani was slightly out of control, a characterization that was intended to raise doubts about Mr. Giuliani and knock him off stride.

And there were signs it was working. Mr. Giuliani suggested he was the victim of a Clinton-directed conspiracy that included pushing the Brooklyn district attorney, a Democrat, to investigate his campaign manager, Bruce Teitelbaum. “You’ve got to be living on Mars not to figure out what’s going on,” Mr. Giuliani said.

As spring arrived, Mr. Giuliani had yet to give a major speech on federal issues. He was barely campaigning upstate. Mr. Giuliani dismissed the concerns of Republican leaders, explaining that he, unlike Mrs. Clinton, had a full-time job.

Mr. Giuliani’s campaign began to falter in March. New York police officers shot and killed an unarmed black man, Patrick Dorismond, after he ran from undercover agents who asked if he had any drugs to sell. Mr. Giuliani authorized the release of Mr. Dorismond’s sealed criminal records from when he was a juvenile and went on Fox News Sunday, where he proclaimed that Mr. Dorismond was “no altar boy.” The remarks ripped across an already polarized city.

Mr. Clinton had already been scheduled to appear the next night at the Bethel A.M.E. Church in Harlem. The church was packed with cameras and reporters as Mrs. Clinton, clasping hands with prominent black leaders, walked in singing “We Shall Overcome,” before delivering a speech accusing Mr. Giuliani of dividing the city.

Mr. Giuliani headed upstate, for a Republican dinner in Binghamton. He spoke for exactly 22 minutes, stood for an eight-minute news conference, and then turned for home. Less than a week later, he abruptly canceled four upstate events because, he said, he wanted to attend the rescheduled opening game of the Yankees.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign pounced. Overnight, aides arranged a trip for her to the cities Mr. Giuliani had snubbed and worked the telephone with upstate reporters to stoke the story.

The End

By the time Mr. Giuliani stepped in front of the cameras to announce he was dropping out, Republicans had already concluded that the mayor would not stay in the race: indeed, many were praying he would not. His cancer seemed almost beside the point.

Evidence of his lack of interest had been building for months: the erratic campaign schedule, his treatment of upstate voters, the public way he was carrying on his relationship with Ms. Nathan. His poll numbers were sinking (a New York Times/CBS News poll taken after the Dorismond episode found Mrs. Clinton leading the mayor by 10 points statewide), and he had become a punch line on late-night talk shows.

It was a frazzled end for Mr. Giuliani’s aides, concerned about the health of a friend, bewildered by the humiliating political meltdown they were witnessing, and frustrated that all their preparation for this epic battle would be put aside and that Mrs. Clinton would be left with a relatively easy start for her solo political career.

To this day, their aides quarrel over how the race would have ended had Mr. Giuliani not withdrawn. “If he would have stayed in the race, we would have won,” Mr. Penn said. Told of that, Peter Powers, Mr. Giuliani’s longtime political adviser and close friend, responded, “We viewed her as somebody we can easily beat — not easily, but someone we could beat.”

Mr. Giuliani’s advisers said he could have overcome the collapse of his marriage, assuming he was physically well enough to stay in. But they are not sure they could have overcome another obstacle: that Mr. Giuliani was running for a job that he did not seem to want.

Should their status as their parties’ national front-runners bear up under the actual voting in the primaries, Mr. Giuliani could get the fight against Mrs. Clinton he has been spoiling for. And this time, it is for a job that he by all appearances covets. That may well be the most significant difference between the Clinton-Giuliani race that almost was and that Clinton-Giuliani race that could now be about to unfold.
27591  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: November 28, 2007, 01:06:06 PM
Flat Tax Fred
Thompson's reform leads the GOP field.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Fred Thompson's Presidential campaign has been struggling, in part because of a sense that he lacks passion and an agenda. But late last week he unveiled a tax reform that is more ambitious than anything we've seen so far from the rest of the GOP field.

Mr. Thompson wants to abolish the death tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax and cut the corporate income tax rate to 27% from 35%. But his really big idea is a voluntary flat tax that would give every American the option of ditching the current code in favor of filing a simple tax return with two tax rates of 10% and 25%.

Mr. Thompson is getting aboard what has become a global bandwagon, with more than 20 nations having adopted some form of flat tax. Most--especially in Eastern Europe--have seen their economies grow and revenues increase as they've adopted low tax rates of between 13% and 25% with few exemptions.

The main political obstacle to such a reform in the U.S. has come from liberals, who favor punitive taxes for "class" reasons, and K Street corporate lobbyists who want to retain their tax-loophole empires. The housing and insurance industries, states and localities, charities, bond traders and tax preparers are all foes of low tax rates.

That's why the idea of a voluntary flat tax--introduced on these pages a dozen years ago--makes political sense. The Thompson plan would allow taxpayers to keep their mortgage and charitable deductions if they prefer, by adhering to the current tax code and rates. But it would also allow the option to abandon those credits and deductions except for a single allowance based on family size ($39,000 for a family of four). Most taxpayers would pay a 10% rate on income above that allowance, with a 25% rate kicking in at $100,000 for a couple. There would only be five lines on the tax form and most taxpayers could fill it out in minutes.

Liberals are already objecting that the plan is not "paid for," by which they mean it doesn't raise taxes the way they hope the next President will. But Mr. Thompson is right in refusing to play by the "static revenue" scoring game that demands that one dollar in estimated tax cuts be offset by one dollar in estimated tax increases somewhere else. "The experts always overrate the revenue losses from tax cuts," Mr. Thompson says, and history supports him going back to the Mellon reductions of the 1920s, the Kennedy tax cuts of the 1960s, the Gipper's in the 1980s, and this decade's success with President Bush's reductions.
Mr. Thompson's plan is based on one introduced by GOP Representatives Paul Ryan and Jeb Hensarling that is in any case not designed to lose revenue. It is intended to allow federal receipts to grow at the rate of the economy, which would leave them at some 18% or 19% of GDP--roughly their average of recent decades. When critics object to revenue losses, they are really saying that the tax share of GDP should be allowed to rise to 20% and higher, which is where we are headed if the Bush tax rates expire.

We'd prefer a flat tax with one rate instead of Mr. Thompson's two. Once the concession is made that richer people should pay a higher tax rate, the political temptation is always to raise the rate on the wealthy. The virtue of the single-rate flat tax isn't merely its efficiency but also its moral component: It treats all taxpayers equally. If a person makes five times more money than his neighbor, he should pay five times more taxes, not 10 or 20 times more.

However, what's refreshing about the Thompson plan is that it goes well beyond the current Republican mantra to make "the Bush tax cuts permanent." That is certainly needed, but the GOP also needs a more ambitious agenda, especially with economic growth slowing. The flat tax has the added political benefit of assaulting the special interests who populate the Gucci Gulch outside Congress's tax-writing committee rooms. Lower rates and simplify the tax code, and you instantly reduce the opportunities for Beltway corruption. It is both a tax policy and political reform.

The two apparent Republican front runners, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, should be paying attention. Both have called for tax cuts in general but have dodged any endorsement of the flat tax--presumably because they think it is too politically risky. The politically calculating Mr. Romney has questioned whether the flat tax is "fair." Mr. Giuliani is more open to the idea, saying the flat tax "would be a lot easier. It would probably bring in a lot more revenue and it would not have some of the burdens on the economy that the massive tax code has." That's right, so why not go all the way?
Mr. Thompson's voluntary proposal is one way to deflect some of the inevitable political opposition. Anyone who prefers the current tax code can stick with it. The rest of us can have a better choice.

27592  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The English Language on: November 28, 2007, 12:50:25 PM

English-Only Showdown
Does Nancy Pelosi really object to a common language in the workplace?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Should the Salvation Army be able to require its employees to speak English? You wouldn't think that's controversial. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding up a $53 billion appropriations bill funding the FBI, NASA and Justice Department solely to block an attached amendment, passed by both the Senate and House, that protects the charity and other employers from federal lawsuits over their English-only policies.

The U.S. used to welcome immigrants while at the same time encouraging assimilation. Since 1906, for example, new citizens have had to show "the ability to read, write and speak ordinary English." A century later, this preference for assimilation is still overwhelmingly popular. A new Rasmussen poll finds that 87% of voters think it "very important" that people speak English in the U.S., with four out of five Hispanics agreeing. And 77% support the right of employers to have English-only policies, while only 14% are opposed.

But hardball politics practiced by ethnic grievance lobbies is driving assimilation into the dustbin of history. The House Hispanic Caucus withheld its votes from a key bill granting relief on the Alternative Minimum Tax until Ms. Pelosi promised to kill the Salvation Army relief amendment.

Obstructionism also exists on the state level. In California, which in 1998 overwhelmingly passed a measure designed to end bilingual education, the practice still flourishes. Only 29% of Latino students score proficient or better in statewide tests of English skills, so seven school districts have sued the state to stop English-only testing. "We're not testing what they know," is how Chula Vista school chief Lowell Billings justifies his proposed switch to tests in Spanish.

Yet the public is ready for leadership that will forthrightly defend reasonable assimilation. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger won plaudits when he said last June that one way to close the Latino learning divide was "to turn off the Spanish TV set. It's that simple. You've got to learn English." Ruben Navarette, a columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune, agreed, warning that "industries such as native language education or Spanish-language television [create] linguistic cocoons that offer the comfort of a warm bath when what English-learners really need is a cold shower."

But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that last year filed over 200 lawsuits against employers over English-only rules, has a different vision. Its lawsuit against the Salvation Army accuses the organization of discriminating against two employees at its Framingham, Mass., thrift store "on the basis of their national origin." Its crime was to give the employees a year's notice that they should speak English on the job (outside of breaks) and then firing them after they did not. The EEOC sued only four years after a federal judge in Boston, in a separate suit, upheld the Salvation Army's English-only policy as an effort to "promote workplace harmony." Like a house burglar, the EEOC is trying every door in the legal neighborhood until it finds one that's open.
In theory, employers can escape the EEOC's clutches if they can prove their policies are based on grounds of safety or "compelling business necessity." But most companies choose to settle rather than be saddled with the legal bills. Synchro Start Products, a Chicago firm, paid $55,000 to settle an EEOC suit against its English-only policy, which it says it adopted after the use of multiple languages led to miscommunication. When one group of employees speak in a language other workers can't understand, the company said, it's easy for personal misunderstandings to undermine morale. Many companies complain they are in a Catch-22--potentially liable to lawsuits if employees insult each other but facing EEOC action if they pass English-only rules to better supervise those employee comments.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), who authored the now-stalled amendment to prohibit the funding of EEOC lawsuits against English-only rules, is astonished at the opposition he's generated. Rep. Joe Baca (D., Calif.), chair of the Hispanic Caucus, boasted that "there ain't going to be a bill" including the Alexander language because Speaker Pelosi had promised him the conference committee handling the Justice Department's budget would never meet. So Sen. Alexander proposed a compromise, only requiring that Congress be given 30 days notice before the filing of any EEOC lawsuit. "I was turned down flat," he told me. "We are now celebrating diversity at the expense of unity. One way to create that unity is to value, not devalue, our common language, English."

That's what pro-assimilation forces are moving to do. TV Azteca, Mexico's second-largest network, is launching a 60-hour series of English classes on all its U.S. affiliates. It recognizes that teaching English empowers Latinos. "If you live in this country, you have to speak as everybody else," Jose Martin Samano, Azteca's U.S. anchor, told Fox News. "Immigrants here in the U.S. can make up to 50% or 60% more if they speak both English and Spanish. This is something we have to do for our own people."

Azteca isn't alone. Next month, a new group called Our Pledge will be launched. Counting Jeb Bush and former Clinton Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros among its board members, the organization believes absorbing immigrants is "the Sputnik challenge of our era." It will put forward two mutual pledges. It will ask immigrants to learn English, become self-sufficient and pledge allegiance to the U.S. It will ask Americans to provide immigrants help navigating the American system, the chance to eventually become a citizen and an atmosphere of respect.

This is a big challenge, but Our Pledge points out that the U.S. did it before with the Americanization movement of a century ago. It was government led, but the key players were businesses like the Ford Motor Company and nonprofits such as the YMCA, plus an array of churches and neighborhood groups.

The alternative to Americanization is polarization. Already a tenth of the population speaks English poorly or not at all. Almost a quarter of all K-12 students nationwide are children of immigrants living between two worlds. It's time for people of good will to reject both the nativist and anti-assimilation extremists and act. If the federal government spends billions on the Voice of America for overseas audiences and on National Public Radio for upscale U.S. listeners, why not fund a "Radio New America" whose primary focus is to teach English and U.S. customs to new arrivals?
In 1999, President Bill Clinton said "new immigrants have a responsibility to enter the mainstream of American life." Eight years later, Clinton strategists Stan Greenberg and James Carville are warning their fellow Democrats that the frustration with immigrants and their lack of assimilation is creating a climate akin to the anti-welfare attitudes of the 1990s. They point out that 40% of independent voters now cite border security issues as the primary reason for their discontent.

In 1996, Mr. Clinton and a GOP Congress joined together to defuse the welfare issue by ending the federal welfare entitlement. Bold bipartisan action is needed again. With frustration this deep, it's in the interests of both parties not to let matters get out of hand.
27593  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 28, 2007, 08:42:48 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Iranian Announcements and Jockeying for Power

With the world focused on the Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Md., on Tuesday, Iran's rhetoric about a new medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) seemed patently business-as-usual. However, this announcement came on the heels of a statement from Iran's navy about its latest capability expansion. In other words, in quick succession, senior Iranian military officials made a point of unveiling several defense-related developments that, even under normal circumstances, would trouble the rest of the world (and particularly now, as oil flirts with $100 per barrel).

First, Iranian navy commander Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayari said Nov. 24 that the force will receive a new submarine Nov. 28 and has scheduled naval maneuvers in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman for February. During this announcement, Sayari went out of his way to point out that Iran does not plan to close the Strait of Hormuz but is prepared to guard its interests -- essentially reminding the world of Tehran's control over a major transit point through which 20 percent of the world's energy supplies pass. Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar then marked the opening of the Annapolis peace conference with the revelation that Iran's extensive missile program has produced a new MRBM capable of hitting not only Israel but also probably Moscow.

Of course, Najjar provided no evidence to support this claim. And Iran's capability to close the gulf is questionable, though no one doubts that it could make Hormuz a very unpleasant place to be. Iran fields a handful of submarines and a small armada of gun and missile boats; has massive stores of naval mines; and has positioned along the coast the same kind of anti-ship missiles that struck the INS Hanit off Lebanon during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah conflict. Additionally, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman are favorable to submarine operations, and the Strait of Hormuz is tight water for ultra large crude carriers, as well as for U.S. Carrier and Expeditionary Strike Groups.

However, it remains unclear how much of this capacity Iran actually could bring to bear in short order, as well as how much might be taken out in-port by a pre-emptive strike. Ultimately, any such action would incur Washington's immediate and unmitigated wrath; aside from the economic and energy security issues involved in threatening the free flow of one-fifth of the world's oil production, there are elements within the U.S. administration that are just aching for an excuse to bomb Iran back to the Stone Age. Basically, this is a card Tehran wields but has no intention of playing unless severely provoked.

Yet, it is a powerful capability of which to remind the world -- especially the United States. And that is just what Iran needs to do right now: seek out new leverage as the next round of negotiations begins between Tehran and Washington over the future of Iraq.

This is an especially crucial time for Iran. Several positive trends in Iraq unexpectedly have left the United States in a better negotiating position than it has seen for more than a year. Meanwhile, Baghdad and Washington are hammering out agreements behind Iran's back over the future status of U.S. forces in Iraq (read: permanent military bases). In fact, Iraqi Shiite leader Abdel Aziz al-Hakim -- the chief of Iraq's largest Shiite party and a close ally of Tehran -- was in Washington on Tuesday to negotiate just such a long-term bilateral pact.

In other words, the most important negotiations in the region are still those between the United States and Iran, and they are getting serious. Tehran needs to regain its former negotiating position, and fast. Washington is starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

27594  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Footwork y timing en la pelea on: November 28, 2007, 08:30:02 AM
En mi desarollo como peleador (luchador?) con palos, pienso que era un gran avance cuando decidi desarollar mi habilidad de luchar con dos palos.

Aunque un persona pueda pensar que sea logico y obvio que dos palos sean mejor que uno, mi entendimiento es que la gran mayoria de los maestros en las Filipinas prefieren uno.  La logica tiene dos puntos.  Uno es que con dos el cerebro, y por lo cual el cuerpo, esta' dividido en su concentracion-- lo cual resulta en potencia inferior en ambos palos, ademas uno de lo manos esta' de la mano que se llama "debil" (yo prefiero llamarlo el mano "complemntario" pero eso es otra conversacion).

El segundo punto se trata de distancia (range).  Se piensa que con dos, el peleador solo tiene una distancia, la del palo, pero con solo palo uno tiene la distancia del palo y del mano vacio (the "live hand").

Para mi, el segundo tiene poco resonancia. He aqui un gran secreto de las AMF:  si la pelea entra a una distancia corta, abre los dedos de un mano y el palo callera' a la tierra. cheesy  Ahora, continua peleando, con solo palo y mano vivo cheesy

Tratando del primero punto, hay que reconocer la verdad de la posibilidad que la division de concentracion mental entre los dos manos rendira' menos potencia.   Tambien es cierto que para la mayoria de la gente, la mano complementario tiene poca capacidad de pegar con potencia.

Pero en mi opinion, esa analysis falla en su consideracion de otros factores:

a) Si uno solo practica potencia con un lado del cuerpo, a traves de los anos habra' una tendencia a desarollar problemas fisicas basadas en la falta de balance (equilibrio?) del cuerpo que se resulta.  Eso tambien se ve con practicantes de Muay Thai quienes practican la patada de potencia con solo una pierna.  Para evitar ese resultado tan no deseada, hay que entrenar usando la mano (o pierna) complementario en funcion dominante como se entrena la mano naturalmente dominante.  En otras palabras, entrenamiento completo/balanceado resultara' en potencia en la mano complementario aun cuando se usa en funcion dominante.

b) La teoria de las AMF habla mucho de los pasos de pie tri'angular (aqui quiero decir "triangular footwork") pero en los miles de peleas que yo he visto, poco se veia pasos triangular.  Cuando yo reflexionaba sobre eso, lo que se me ocurrio era que una gran parte de la razon era que en muchos pasos de pie triangular, se cambia cual pie este' enfrente; osea si mismo pie y mano esta' enfrente, el paso de pie terminara' con ellos atras  (if one begins with the same foot and hand in front, one will complete the movement with them in the rear).  No estoy diciendo que tenerlos atras sea malo, pero eso es un estudio en si mismo-- lo cual hemos hecho en nuestro materia "Los Triques"-- pero para la gran mayoria de la gente se siente que tener palo y pie atra's es muy vulnerable.  El resultado es que ellos no puedan usar los triangulos que cambian cual lado esta' enfrete.

Entonces lo que se me ocurrio era si yo decidiera luchar con dos palos, yo podria usar los pasos de pie triangulares, los cuales me permitian lograr en mis peleas la aventaja de lograr angulos dominantes. 

Con esa prepacion, yo fui capaz del aprovecharme de las aventajas logicas de dos palos luchando contra uno. Mis oponentes siempre tenian la opcion de usar dos, pero por que no habian hecho la misma preparacion, tipicamente ellos eligieron luchar con uno aunque yo tenia dos.

Esa esperiencia me daba un base mas completo y cuando yo conoci' a Gabe yo tenia la capacitacion para contribuir a su concepto de salir de la linea de atacante, lo cual requiere la habilidad de mover en cualquiera angulo del compas.  Si yo me hubiera limitado a la teoria convencional que un palo es mejor que dos, yo no habria tenido la preparacion para haber podido contribuido.

Tambien posiblemente cabe mencionar aqui que en la teoria de la pistola moderna unos de los maestros, Gabe por ejemplo, comienzan a hablar de la importancia de poder tirar la pistola con la mano complementaria tanto como la mano dominante.

La Aventura continua!
27595  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 28, 2007, 07:25:11 AM
Those are fair points Doug.

It may also be that the Israelis and Palestinians have gone back to pretending to negotiate, that we have gone back to pretending to be an "honest broker", and the Arab governments have agreed to pretend to believe the pretense-- so that the Arab governments can cover their ass with the Arab street as they do business with us.
27596  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 27, 2007, 10:33:33 PM

 Saudi Normalization with Israel Forgotten - David Horovitz
As Arab League foreign ministers and officials were convening for consultations ahead of the Annapolis summit at the Saudi Embassy in Washington on Monday, Israeli journalists were somewhat unceremoniously escorted off the premises. At a press briefing held at the embassy by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, the best I could do was to ask one of the American reporters to put a question on my behalf to Faisal: "What steps are you prepared to take right now toward normalizing ties with Israel?" His answer: "None." Faisal elaborated that the Arab peace plan makes plain that "normalization will come after peace is established." And peace, he went on, entailed full Israeli withdrawal. The Saudi foreign minister also said the Arab presence at Annapolis was not about producing a concerted front against Iran. "We have to worry about Israel first," he said.
    Diplomatic sources have said that the Saudis don't want any contact whatsoever with the Israeli delegation at Annapolis, and therefore the respective delegations will even use different doors to enter the meeting room. (Jerusalem Post)
27597  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Parker on: November 27, 2007, 11:41:25 AM
Woof Cuch:

This is one of those issues that belongs in more than one of our forums.  We've been tracking it over in the Politics & Religion forum at  See posts 222 and 223 for example, but it also belongs here.

Lets leave this thread here because the matter is very important and people some people who participate in this forum may not be aware of the thread in the other forum.

Thanks for posting,
27598  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Men & Women on: November 27, 2007, 11:34:07 AM
New Jersey Court Ruling--She Killed His Son, but
He Must Pay Her Alimony
November 27, 2007
She Killed His Son but He Must Pay Her Alimony

Examples of decent, loving dads being manhandled by the anti-father family law system are legion, but this one has to make the Top 10. A recent New Jersey appeals court reaffirmed a decision mandating that a man must pay alimony to his ex-wife--who killed their son. From Legal tussle: Should killer get alimony? (Bergen Record, 11/22/07):

"A state appeals court on Wednesday refused to automatically bar alimony from spouses who kill a child...The decision was issued in the case of Linda Calbi, who is serving a three-year prison term after pleading guilty to beating her son, Matt, on Aug. 17, 2003, during a violent argument at their home. He died hours later from internal bleeding and cardiac arrest...

"Linda Calbi was originally charged with murder, but the charges were later downgraded to aggravated assault, based on expert reports that medical error contributed significantly to the boy's death. She was sentenced last year to three years in prison and won't be eligible for parole until November 2008.

"The Calbis were divorced in 2001 after 15 years of marriage. A few months after Matt's death, Chris Calbi fell behind on his alimony payments and filed papers in court seeking a reduction or termination of his payment obligations.
"'She took the life of her oldest son, scarred her younger son for the rest of his life, and tore the fabric of my soul from me,' Chris Calbi wrote in papers filed in Superior Court in Hackensack. 'To reward this evil and violent woman by allowing her ... to derive a financial benefit from the family she destroyed ... can only be described as a perversion of our justice system.'"

Chris Calbi had been paying Linda $3,183 a month until her incarceration, and may be saddled with that amount when Linda is paroled. Chris is pictured with his deceased son Matthew and his surviving son Dean above. A few comments:

1) Chris Calbi claimed that Linda abused and assaulted him during their marriage, at times employing a kitchen knife and a hammer. The death of the son is discussed in Typical teen meets a tragic end (Bergen Record, 8/20/03), and Linda Calbi sounds like a real sweetheart:

"As [Christopher Calbi's] company - Robert Christopher Sales - grew, [Christopher] was increasingly away in Europe on business, Linda Calbi said in divorce papers. Though they shared fine dinners, and Christopher Calbi showered his wife with gifts, a physical and emotional distance developed between Matthew's parents, her papers say.

"Linda Calbi said in the papers that she felt like 'a highly paid slave.'

"Christopher Calbi countered that his wife subjected him to 'profanity-laced tirades and ridicule.'"

2) From the same article:

"The couple split in 1999 and - after 15 years of marriage - divorced in July 2001.

"Meanwhile, Matthew was having problems at school, said a woman who worked in the River Vale school system.

"When Matthew was in the special education program at Holdrum Middle School, he regularly came to class with bruises, said the woman, who declined to be identified. The teen always had an excuse for the marks - he was playing with his younger brother, or he fell, the woman said.

"But in April 2002, the woman noticed a strange bruise on Matthew's wrist, one she thought looked like a defensive wound. She asked Matt to explain, but he couldn't, she said, so she called DYFS to report the mark.

"As part of the special education program, Linda Calbi met routinely with educators to review her son's performance.

"But when Calbi showed up, she often smelled of booze, the woman said. 'You could light the air on fire, she smelled so badly,' the woman said.

"Linda could not understand why her son wasn't more successful in school.

"'She was very forceful when she spoke. Nothing was ever her fault, and of course she was at her wit's end,' the woman said."

3) The father now has to raise the surviving son, Dean, age 12, on his own. Is Linda being asked to pay child support? Isn't Chris' ability to provide for Dean negatively impacted by having to pay alimony to the noncustodial parent?

4) Chris also needs to save his money--Linda may be out of prison in less than a year and will be fighting for visitation rights to Dean. In July, 2006, a judge ordered a supervised visitation between Dean and his mother, contingent on the boy's acceptance.

5) Linda apparently received a lesser charge and sentence for her crime because supposedly there was medical bungling by the hospital after she assaulted her son which contributed to Matthew's death. How much of her light sentence is due to the alleged medical bungling and how much is just the standard female sentencing discount is unclear.

6) It's amazing some of the things that an attorney will say. Linda's attorney, Ian Hirsch, said:

"'Mr. Calbi is using his son's death to take away any obligations he has,' Hirsch said. 'I think he's trying to take advantage of a tragedy and turn it around to his economic benefit.'"

Yup--dad not wanting to pay money to the woman who killed his son is "taking advantage of a tragedy and turning it around to his economic benefit." Bad dad--how could he be so rotten?
27599  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: November 27, 2007, 09:01:40 AM
Russian Justice
November 27, 2007; Page A18
Vladimir Putin's not-so-secret political weapon is the courts. The Kremlin's control over the judiciary keeps Russia an illiberal state and comes in handy against Mr. Putin's enemies.

Two new cases again show the Putin legal method at work. A Moscow court on Saturday sentenced Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion who leads a coalition of opposition parties, to five days in prison for leading an "unauthorized" demonstration in the capital the same day. If forced to serve out the term this week, Mr. Kasparov, who was arrested Saturday and remains in jail, would be out of the picture in the lead-up to Sunday's parliamentary elections.

A day earlier, prosecutors indicted one of the last liberal government ministers, Sergei Storchak, on embezzlement and fraud charges. His arrest the previous week fueled speculation about the government's motives -- none of which concerned the merits of the case against the deputy finance minister and chief debt negotiator.

Mr. Storchak, who also helps manage Russia's $148 billion oil windfall fund, seems to be caught in Kremlin crossfire. A prosecutor close to Mr. Putin went after him, suggesting to some that the security services wanted to pressure Mr. Storchak's boss, Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin. Mr. Kudrin had sparred with this important Kremlin faction over the best way to spend the energy billions and was also mentioned among possible successors to Mr. Putin, should the president honor the Constitution and step down next year. In an unusual move, Mr. Kudrin vouched for Mr. Storchak's innocence.

Russia made halting progress in establishing rule of law and an independent judiciary in the years after the Soviet Union's collapse. But Mr. Putin has reversed course. The pivotal event was the Yukos prosecution, when the Kremlin used a tax evasion charge to destroy Russia's richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and its biggest oil company.

Yukos's choicest bits were sold to a state-owned oil company for a song, as part of the Kremlin effort to control Russian energy assets. Mr. Khodorkovsky, a Putin rival, is serving a 10-year sentence in Siberia. In subsequent years, the courts were instrumental in forcing Royal Dutch Shell out of a multibillion dollar energy exploration project and to pressure other international majors.

Russia's beleaguered democratic politicians, denied access to the media and prevented from freely campaigning, are finding no relief from the judiciary. Mr. Kasparov, a contributing editor to these pages, isn't surprised, calling his conviction Saturday "a symbol of what has happened to justice and the rule of law under Putin."

With the decks stacked in favor of the Putin-backed United Russia party, the opposition's only recourse is to take to the streets. Another pro-democracy rally was violently broken up in St. Petersburg on Sunday. About 200 were arrested, including former deputy prime minister and reformist, Boris Nemtsov, who plans to contest the March presidential election. He was later released.

Pliant courts and crooked bureaucrats are almost as old as Russia itself. In its early years, post-Soviet Russia had a chance to build a legal system that could one day become a healthy check on the state. But this promise of liberal society, as so many others, has been torpedoed by Mr. Putin.

27600  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Asia on: November 27, 2007, 08:27:01 AM
India Appeases Radical Islam
November 27, 2007; Page A18

Friday's multiple bomb blasts in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh -- which killed 13 people and injured about 80 -- ought to give pause to those who see the world's largest democracy as a linchpin in the war on terror. India's leaders and diplomats seek to portray the country as a firebreak against radical Islam, or the drive to impose the medieval Arab norms enshrined in Shariah law on 21st century life. In reality, India is ill- equipped to fight this scourge.

Like neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh, (and unlike Turkey or Tunisia) India has failed to modernize much of its Muslim population. Successive generations of politicians have pandered to the most backward elements of India's 150-million strong Muslim population, the second largest in the world after Indonesia's. India has allowed Muslims to follow Shariah in civil matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance. An increasingly radicalized neighborhood, fragmented domestic politics and a curiously timid mainstream discourse on Islam add up to hobble India's response to radical Islamic intimidation.

Most Indian Muslims have nothing to do with terrorism, and are more concerned with the struggles of daily life than the effort to create a global caliphate. Muslim contributions to the fabric of national life -- most visible in sports, movies and the arts -- should not be dismissed. Furthermore, religious zealotry in India is not a Muslim monopoly. Still, the notion that Indian Islam is uniquely tolerant, or somehow immune to the rising tide of world-wide radical sentiment, is a myth.

Last year, Haji Muhammad Yaqoob Qureshi, a minister in the Uttar Pradesh government, publicly offered a $11 million bounty for beheading the Danish cartoonists who had drawn the prophet Mohammed. In high-tech Hyderabad, parts of which are Muslim strongholds, three sitting legislators of a local Islamic party recently roughed up Taslima Nasreen, a Bangladeshi author critical of her country's treatment of its Hindu minority and her faith's treatment of women. Last week, the government of West Bengal state in eastern India had to call in the army to quell Muslim rioters in Calcutta, whose demands included Ms. Nasreen's expulsion from the country.

India's historically weak-kneed response to radical Islamic intimidation only encourages such behavior. In 1988, India was the first country to ban Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses." (Ayatollah Khomeini issued his infamous death sentence on the author only after reading about disturbances in India.) In 1999, after terrorists hijacked an Indian aircraft to then Taliban-controlled Kandahar, New Delhi responded by releasing three prominent Islamic militants from prison in Kashmir. One of them, the British-Pakistani London School of Economics dropout Omar Saeed Sheikh, went on to mastermind the beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. True to form, the authorities have responded to the latest outbreak of violence in Calcutta by bundling off Ms. Nasreen to distant Rajasthan, and from there to Delhi.

As in other democracies -- Britain and Holland to name just two -- a permissive approach toward radical Islam has only made the country more vulnerable to terrorism. In August this year, 42 people died in attacks on a Hyderabad restaurant and an open-air auditorium. Last year, a series of explosions on commuter trains in Bombay killed over 200 people. Two years ago, the Hindu festival of Diwali was rung in with bombs that claimed 62 lives in Delhi.

New Delhi has blamed the attacks on groups such as the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba and Bangladesh's Harkat-ul Jihad-al-Islami. Though much of India's terrorism problem is imported, part of it is homegrown. Instead of reflexively blaming Islamabad, Indians need to ask themselves why foreign terrorists appear to have little trouble recruiting accomplices from India. (The Uttar Pradesh attacks appear to be the work of a previously unknown outfit called Indian Mujahideen.) The bromide about the lack of Indian Muslim involvement in international terrorism, accepted unquestioningly by much of India's liberal intelligentsia, must be called into question after the involvement of Indian doctors in this year's failed attacks in London and Glasgow.

India's experience offers important lessons to other democracies struggling to integrate large Muslim populations. It highlights the folly of attempting to exempt Muslims from universal norms regarding women's rights, freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry. It reveals that democracy alone -- when detached from bedrock democratic principles -- offers no antidote to radical Islamic fervor.

Mr. Dhume is a fellow at the Asia Society in Washington, D.C. "My Friend the Fanatic," his book about the rise of radical Islam in Indonesia, will be published by Melbourne next year.

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