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27601  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Sleep on: October 23, 2007, 01:06:03 PM
Published: October 23, 2007
A few years ago, my daughter told me about a dream involving a giant bag of Doritos. The crinkles in the package had formed a sort of ladder, and she had climbed them to reach the giant chips inside. “It was such a good dream, Mom,” she told me.

The Doritos dream is just one of the countless parent-child memories that I have experienced in the middle of the night. Since she was an infant, my daughter, now in the third grade, has shared my bed and my sleep. I certainly never expected to be a “co-sleeping” parent, but sharing a bed was simply easier when she was a baby still breast-feeding, and getting her out of the bed as she got older has been next to impossible.

In most of the world, sleeping next to your child is a necessity: families of limited means live in cramped quarters. But in the affluent West, the practice is widely frowned on, not just by grandparents and friends, but by the medical community at large.

Still, it is far more common than many people think. Nearly 13 percent of parents in the United States slept with their infants in 2000, up from 5.5 percent in 1993, according to a report last month in the journal Infant and Child Development. Countless children start the night in their own beds, only to wake up a few hours later and pad into their parents’ bedrooms, crawling into the bed or curling up nearby on the floor.

Ask parents if they sleep with their kids, and most will say no. But there is evidence that the prevalence of bed sharing is far greater than reported. Many parents are “closet co-sleepers,” fearful of disapproval if anyone finds out, notes James J. McKenna, professor of anthropology and director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame.

“They’re tired of being censured or criticized,” Dr. McKenna said. “It’s not just that their babies are being judged negatively for not being a good baby compared to the baby who sleeps by himself, but they’re being judged badly for having these babies and being needy.”

In fact, research shows that parents often talk about their children’s sleep habits in terms of where the child starts off the night or where the child is supposed to sleep — not necessarily where the child usually ends up sleeping.

In a series of studies in Britain, scientists interviewed parents about their children’s sleep habits, but also used infrared cameras to monitor the parents’ bedroom. The children often spent part of the night in the adults’ bed, but in about half those cases, the parents did not reveal that unless they were specifically asked. As a result, many experts say most of the data in the United States vastly understates how common the practice really is.

One reason may be that adults feel guilty because pediatricians frown on co-sleeping. The American Academy of Pediatrics has said babies should sleep close to their parents but not in the same bed. The concern is that a sleeping parent could trap a baby in bed covers or in the space between the bed and the wall.

Although some studies suggest bed sharing puts children at higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome, the data are not conclusive. And some researchers say the risk is higher only if parents smoke, drink too much alcohol and fail to take proper precautions to make sure the bed is safe.

One common concern is whether the practice interferes with the development of healthy sleep habits. For example, studies in Italy, China, the United States and elsewhere have consistently found links between co-sleeping and frequent night wakings.

But the studies are generally based on reports from the parents themselves, and some researchers question whether such data are all that meaningful. Kathleen Dyer, an assistant professor of child, family and consumer sciences at California State University, Fresno, says this measurement bias may lead scientists to overstate the problems associated with bed sharing.

In one study, for example, 139 parents were asked about the sleep habits of their young children. Parents who slept with their children reported a much higher frequency of nighttime wakings than parents who did not.

Of course, Dr. Dyer says. “When you’re sleeping with your kid and he wakes up once during the night, you know about it because you’re there,” she said. “If he’s in the next room, he’s still waking up at night, but you just don’t see it.” The more important question, she says, is whether the parents regard nighttime wakings as a problem. “What the researcher thinks is a problem,” she said, “is often not what the family thinks is a problem.”

Another fear is that bed sharing will take a heavy toll on a marriage. That is certainly likely if the parents disagree about where a child should sleep. But in cases where both parents agree on the sleeping arrangement, parents who sleep with their children are typically as happy as parents of solitary sleepers.

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In a paper last month in Infant and Child Development, Dr. Dyer proposed that co-sleeping families fall into three distinct categories. There are intentional co-sleepers — those who sleep with their children because they want to breast-feed for a long stretch and believe bed sharing is good for a child’s well-being and emotional development. Another group is reactive co-sleepers, those parents who don’t really want to sleep with their kids, but do so because they can’t get their children to sleep any other way or because financial hardship requires them to share a room with a child.

And then there is a third group that she tentatively calls circumstantial co-sleepers — parents who sleep with their children occasionally because of circumstances like sharing a bed on a family vacation, during a thunderstorm or because the child is sick.

Bed sharing is most likely of greatest concern among reactive co-sleepers, Dr. Dyer says, because the practice is essentially forced on parents. In those cases, the practice is likely to be stressful for both parent and child.

“I think it’s possible to sleep next to a baby and not be responsive to their tender needs,” Dr. Dyer said. She recalled a story of a mother who was temporarily living with her in-laws and sharing a room with her child. “I think she was resentful of the fact that they were crammed into this room,” she went on. “Where a person sleeps is not what it’s about. It’s about the quality of the emotional relationship.”

When my daughter was born, I certainly didn’t want her in my bed. (I was recovering from a Caesarean section.) But the nurses insisted that I hold her in my hospital bed because her cries were disturbing the other babies. I didn’t have the fortitude to let her “cry it out,” so with the encouragement of my pediatrician, I made my peace with the situation.

“You just have one of those babies who needs to be held,” he said.

It hasn’t always been easy. A friend of mine correctly notes that sleeping with a child is much like sleeping inside a washing machine. But today, my daughter is far more independent about sleep, venturing to sleepovers at friends’ houses, staying overnight at camp and sleeping some nights in her own bed.

And while there are still many nights when she crawls into bed next to me, my pediatrician assures me it’s nothing to worry about.

“I can tell you with certainty,” he says, “that one day you will wake up, and she won’t be there.”
27602  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Sleep on: October 23, 2007, 12:49:09 PM

Published: October 23, 2007
The patient was a 37-year-old man who had been physically abused as a boy by his schizophrenic mother, often while he lay in bed trying to fall asleep. Nevertheless, he had grown into a reasonably normal, gainfully employed adult, and he thought that the worst was behind him, until one night he awoke to find an intruder rummaging through his dresser drawers. After that, his nightmares began — terrifying, recurrent dreams in which the intruder was a middle-age woman and a knife dangled with Damoclesian contempt from the ceiling fan over his head.

Skip to next paragraph
Night Life
A special issue of Science Times examines a cascade of research into the science of sleep.

Times Health Guide: Nightmares
VideoMore Video » “The old fear memories had not gone away,” said Dr. Ross Levin, a psychologist and sleep researcher at Yeshiva University in New York. They “were easily reactivated by the recent trauma,” and just as readily twisted into the basis of a repetitive nightmare. Dr. Levin urged the patient to reframe the dream and rehearse alternatives to swinging blades and frozen fear, until finally the nightmares abated and the man could regain his footing.

Few of us suffer from nightmares crippling and persistent enough to demand treatment. Yet we all know how bad a nightmare feels, how it surrounds you and surges up to drown you and makes your teeth fall out in chunks and gives you leukemia and look, your 6-year-old daughter is running back and forth through traffic, and oh no, this train is headed the wrong way and it’s past midnight, and there you are a cowardly third-grader back on Creston Avenue in the Bronx, no, please, not the Bronx! And you scream and you thrash and you want to wake up.

By all evidence, outrageously bad dreams are a universal human experience. Sometimes the dreams are scary enough to jolt the slumberer awake, in which case they meet the formal definition of nightmares — bad dreams that wake you up. At other times, they are even worse. The sleeper thinks the nightmare is over, only to step into Your Nested Nightmare, Chapter II. Whatever the particulars of the plot, researchers say, nightmares and dreadful dreams offer potentially telling clues into the larger mystery of why we dream in the first place, how our dreaming and waking lives may intersect and cross-infect each other, and, most baffling of all, how we manage to construct a virtual reality in our skull, a seemingly life-size, multidimensional, sensorily rich nocturnal roundhouse staffed with characters so persuasive you want to ... strangle them, before they can strangle you.

A big reason bad dreams offer insight into the architecture of dreams generally is that, as a host of studies have shown, most of our dreams are bad. Whether research subjects keep dream journals at home or sleep in research labs and are periodically awoken out of rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep — the stage most often associated with dreaming — the results are the same: about three-quarters of the emotions described are negative.

Moreover, said Robert Stickgold, a sleep researcher at the Harvard Medical School, we are ridiculously industrious dreamers, spending 60 to 70 percent of somnolence dreaming or in a dreamlike state called sleep mentation, which works out to three hours nightly spent in a state of anxiety or frustration as we show up late for tests or walk barefoot over broken glass because our shoes have melted.

Even bona fide nightmares are more common than most of us realize. Ask people to recall spontaneously how many nightmares they had in the last year, and they might say one or two, said Mark Blagrove, a dream researcher at the University of Wales in Swansea. Ask them to keep a dream diary, and they will report nightmares once or twice a month.

Survey and diary studies have shown that nightmare frequency varies by age and sex. Preschoolers are relatively immune to the bogeyman fetish, but not so their elder siblings. Roughly 25 percent of children ages 5 to 12 report being awakened by bad dreams at least once a week.

Nightmare rates climb through adolescence, peak in young adulthood, and then, like so much else in life, begin to drop. The average 55-year-old has one-third the number of nightmares as the average 25-year-old. At nearly every age, girls and women report having significantly more nightmares than do boys and men, a fact that some researchers say may be related to women’s comparatively higher rates of anxiety and mood disorders.

Nightmare content also shifts over time and across cultures. A young man in 21st-century America might not mind the occasional bawdy dream, but for St. Augustine, the fourth-century Christian philosopher, “sexual dreams were nightmares,” said Kelly Bulkeley, a dream researcher and visiting scholar at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif. “He considered them threats to his faith.”


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Cultural specifics can also tweak universal themes. Dr. Bulkeley and his colleagues have found that nightmares about falling through the air are common among women in Arab nations, perhaps for metaphorical reasons. “There’s such a premium in these countries on women remaining chaste, and the dangers of becoming a ‘fallen woman’ are so intense,” he said, “that the naturally high baseline of falling dreams is amped up even more.”

Using brain imaging devices that are noisy and uncomfortable and less than conducive to a good night’s sleep, scientists have nonetheless begun identifying which regions of the brain are active during sleep and which are largely off-line. The brain proceeds through four stages of sleep at night, each characterized by its own pattern of brainwaves and neurochemical activity. REM sleep, when the eyes are flitting behind closed lids, is rightly renowned as the dreaming stage, with at least 90 percent of it spent dreaming. But dreams occur in parts of non-REM sleep, as well.

When slipping into REM sleep, Dr. Levin said, “the whole brain changes.” “Neurochemically, it’s like the Fourth of July,” as cortical precincts shift colors in scanning images to indicate arousal or quiescence, he said, adding, “The limbic system becomes incredibly active, much more so than when you’re awake, which is why you’re emotionally on edge in dreams.”

Blazing with particularly patriotic fervor in the limbic system are the amygdala and anterior cingulate cortex, constituting what Steven H. Woodward, a psychologist at the V.A. hospital in Menlo Park, Calif., terms the brain’s “axis of fear.” At the same time, the prefrontal cortex, seat of rational thought and critical reasoning, is on lunch break, Dr. Levin said, “which is why you can have a dream where something has 4 heads and 12 legs, and you think, ‘No problem, what’s next?’”

Also relatively tranquilized is the primary visual cortex, recipient of visual signals from the outside world. The secondary visual cortex, however, which helps process and interpret those signals, remains alert. It is here that the fabulous imagery of dreams probably arises, said Tore Nielsen of the University of Montreal, as the secondary visual cortex strives to decipher the signals ricocheting through it, many of them internally generated, and to splice them into some approximation of a coherent whole.

Other sensory and motor systems remain active in REM, including those that would normally control the arms and legs, which is why motion figures prominently in many dreams. But if you often feel frustrated, as though you can never get to where you’re going, well, you can’t.

As it happens, one vigilant player in dreaming is a small region of the brainstem that paralyzes most of the body, preventing you from physically acting out your dream. People with neurogenerative diseases that disable this brainstem disabler can end up injuring themselves during extreme dream-driven actions. Most cases of sleepwalking occur in non-REM sleep, when the body is not paralyzed.

With so much of the sleeping body and brain apparently colluding to allow us to wander safely through an ominous dreamscape of extravagant characters, most sleep scientists are convinced that dreaming serves an essential, possibly evolutionarily adaptive, purpose.

In a recent paper in Psychological Bulletin, Dr. Nielsen and Dr. Levin proposed that dreaming served to create what they call “fear extinction memories,” the brain’s way of scrambling, detoxifying and finally discarding old fearful memories, the better to move on and make synaptic space for any novel threats that may show up at the door. “The brain learns quickly what to be afraid of,” Dr. Nielsen said. “But if there isn’t a check on the process, we’d fear things in adulthood we feared in childhood.”

Ordinary bad dreams rarely recapitulate unpleasant events from real life but instead cannibalize them for props and spare parts, and through that reinvention, Dr. Nielsen explained, the fears are defanged. “A bad dream that doesn’t lead to awakening is successful in dealing with intense emotion,” he said. “It’s disturbing, but there is some kind of resolution to the extent we don’t wake up.”

By this scenario, nightmares, in allowing you to escape prematurely, represent a failure of the “fear extinction” system. “Bad dreams are functional, nightmares dysfunctional,” he said.

If you feel yourself falling, spread your arms out and learn how to fly.

27603  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Sleep on: October 23, 2007, 12:47:10 PM
As every sleep researcher knows, the surest way to hear complaints about sleep is to ask the elderly.

“Older people complain more about their sleep; they just do,” said Dr. Michael Vitiello, a sleep researcher who is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington.

And for years, sleep scientists thought they knew what was going on: sleep starts to deteriorate in late middle age and steadily erodes from then on. It seemed so obvious that few thought to question the prevailing wisdom.

Now, though, new research is leading many to change their minds. To researchers’ great surprise, it turns out that sleep does not change much from age 60 on. And poor sleep, it turns out, is not because of aging itself, but mostly because of illnesses or the medications used to treat them.

“The more disorders older adults have, the worse they sleep,” said Sonia Ancoli-Israel, a professor of psychiatry and a sleep researcher at the University of California, San Diego. “If you look at older adults who are very healthy, they rarely have sleep problems.”

And new studies are indicating that poor sleep may circle back to cause poor health. At least when it comes to pain, a common cause of disrupted sleep, a restless night can make pain worse the next day. Then with worse pain, sleep may become even more difficult — a vicious cycle common in people with conditions that tend to afflict the elderly, like back pain and arthritis.

The new view of sleep emerged from two parallel lines of research. The first asked what happened to sleep patterns when healthy people grew old. The second sought to uncover the relationship between sleep and pain.

To find out what happens with aging, some investigators, including Dr. Vitiello, studied older people who reported no sleep problems. They actually make up a large group — nearly half of people over 65. Were these people somehow spared age-related changes in sleep?

They were not. Their sleep turned out to be different from sleep in young people: it was lighter, more often disrupted by brief awakenings, and shorter by a half hour to an hour. Dr. Vitiello reasoned that the age-related changes in sleep patterns might not be an issue in themselves. Something else was making people complain about their sleep.

Dr. Vitiello and his colleagues also asked what normally happened to sleep over the life span. It had long been known that sleep changes, but no one had systematically studied when those changes occurred or how pronounced they were in healthy people.

With analysis of 65 sleep studies, which included 3,577 healthy subjects ages 5 to 102, the investigators had their next surprise. Most of the changes in sleep patterns occurred when people were between the ages of 20 and 60. Compared with teenagers and young adults, healthy middle-aged and older people slept a half hour to an hour less each night, they woke up a bit more often during the night, and their sleep was lighter. But after age 60, there was little change in sleep, at least in people who were healthy.

And even though sleep changed during adulthood, many of the changes were subtle. Middle-aged and older people, for example, did not have more difficulty falling asleep. The only change in sleep latency, as it is called, emerged when the investigators compared latency at the two extremes, in 20- and 80-year-olds. The 80-year-olds took an average of 10 more minutes to fall asleep.

Contrary to their expectations, the investigators found no increase in daytime drowsiness in healthy older people. Nor did aging affect the time it took for people to start dreaming after they fell asleep.

Instead, the biggest change was the number of times people woke after having fallen asleep.

Healthy young adults sleep 95 percent of the night, said Dr. Donald Bliwise, a sleep researcher at Emory University. “They fall asleep,” he said, “and don’t wake up until the alarm goes off.”

By age 60, healthy people are asleep 85 percent of the night. Their sleep is disrupted by brief wakeful moments typically lasting about 3 to 10 seconds. “There is some aspect of sleep that isn’t going to be as good as when you were 20,” Dr. Bliwise said. But he added, “When that crosses the threshold and becomes a significant complaint is difficult to say.”

The real sleep problems, he and others say, arise when people have any of a number of conditions that make them wake up in the night, like sleep apnea, chronic pain, restless leg syndrome or urinary problems. That, of course, describes many older people.

“The sheer number of challenges to maintaining solid sleep in old age is just huge,” Dr. Bliwise said. “You come out with the question, Well, what is normal? What should I expect?”

The new frontier of what to expect, and what to do about it, involves studies of the relationship of sleep to pain. It’s no surprise that pain can disrupt sleep. But what is new is that a lack of sleep can apparently increase the sensation of pain.

Michael T. Smith, the research and training director of the behavioral sleep medicine program at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, reached that conclusion with a study of healthy young people. One group slept normally for eight hours in the hospital. Another was awakened every hour by a nurse and kept up for 20 minutes. Their sleep pattern was meant to mimic the fragmented sleep of elderly people. A third group was allowed four hours of solid sleep.

Comparing the second and third groups allowed Dr. Smith to tease apart the causes of the problems that arise from fragmented sleep: were they because of the short total sleep time, or because of the disrupted nature of the sleep?

Fragmented sleep, he found, led to severe impairments the next day in pain pathways. The subjects felt pain more easily, were less able to inhibit pain, and even developed spontaneous pain, like mild backaches and headaches.

Timothy Roehrs, director of the sleep disorders research center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, also found that healthy young people became exquisitely sensitive to pain after a night of fragmented sleep.

And getting more sleep, Dr. Roehrs found, had the opposite effect. His subjects were young healthy people who said they were chronically sleepy, just not getting enough time to sleep at night. Dr. Roehrs had them stay in bed 10 hours a night. The extra sleep, he said, reduced their sensitivity to pain to the same degree as a tablet of codeine.

Now, Dr. Smith says, he and others have markedly changed their attitude about sleep problems and aging.

Of course, he said, sleep is different in 20-year-olds and 70-year-olds. But he added, “It’s not normal to get a clinical sleep disorder when you get old.”

27604  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Sleep on: October 23, 2007, 12:44:11 PM
This certainly could fit within the Health thread, but I'm going to give it one of its own:


NY Times

Published: October 23, 2007
The task looks as simple as a “Sesame Street” exercise. Study pairs of Easter eggs on a computer screen and memorize how the computer has arranged them: the aqua egg over the rainbow one, the paisley over the coral one — and there are just six eggs in all.

Most people can study these pairs for about 20 minutes and ace a test on them, even a day later. But they’re much less accurate in choosing between two eggs that have not been directly compared: Aqua trumped rainbow but does that mean it trumps paisley? It’s hazy.

It’s hazy, that is, until you sleep on it.

In a study published in May, researchers at Harvard and McGill Universities reported that participants who slept after playing this game scored significantly higher on a retest than those who did not sleep. While asleep they apparently figured out what they didn’t while awake: the structure of the simple hierarchy that linked the pairs, paisley over aqua over rainbow, and so on.

“We think what’s happening during sleep is that you open the aperture of memory and are able to see this bigger picture,” said the study’s senior author, Matthew Walker, a neuroscientist who is now at the University of California, Berkeley. He added that many such insights occurred “only when you enter this wonder-world of sleep.”

Scientists have been trying to determine why people need sleep for more than 100 years. They have not learned much more than what every new parent quickly finds out: sleep loss makes you more reckless, more emotionally fragile, less able to concentrate and almost certainly more vulnerable to infection. They know, too, that some people get by on as few as three hours a night, even less, and that there are hearty souls who have stayed up for more than week without significant health problems.

Now, a small group of neuroscientists is arguing that at least one vital function of sleep is bound up with learning and memory. A cascade of new findings, in animals and humans, suggest that sleep plays a critical role in flagging and storing important memories, both intellectual and physical, and perhaps in seeing subtle connections that were invisible during waking — a new way to solve a math or Easter egg problem, even an unseen pattern causing stress in a marriage.

The theory is controversial, and some scientists insist that it’s still far from clear whether the sleeping brain can do anything with memories that the waking brain doesn’t also do, in moments of quiet contemplation.

Yet the new research underscores a vast transformation in the way scientists have come to understand the sleeping brain. Once seen as a blank screen, a metaphor for death, it has emerged as an active, purposeful machine, a secretive intelligence that comes out at night to play — and to work — during periods of dreaming and during the netherworld chasms known as deep sleep.

“To do science you have to have an idea, and for years no one had one; they saw sleep as nothing but an annihilation of consciousness,” said Dr. J. Allan Hobson, a psychiatry professor at Harvard. “Now we know different, and we’ve got some very good ideas about what’s going on.”

The evidence was there all along. Infants make sucking motions when asleep, and their closed eyelids quiver, as if the eyeballs beneath had a life of their own. But it wasn’t until the early 1950s, in a lab at the University of Chicago, that scientists recorded and identified what was happening.

Eugene Aserinsky, then a graduate student in physiology, reportedly was monitoring sleep and waking in his 8-year-old son, using electronic leads stuck to the boy’s head, connected to a brain-wave detecting machine. He had attached two leads to the boy’s eyelids as well, so he could tell whether his son woke up. One night he noticed percolating wave patterns that showed the boy had awoken. But he hadn’t.

Dr. Aserinsky confirmed the activity in others, and in 1953 he and his adviser, Nathaniel Kleitman, published the finding in a now-famous paper in Science. They later called the odd, unconscious state rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep.

“This was really the beginning of modern sleep research, though you wouldn’t have known it at the time,” said Dr. William Dement, then a medical student in Dr. Kleitman’s lab and now a professor of psychiatry and sleep medicine at Stanford University. “It took years for people to realize what we had.”

Dr. Dement, infatuated with Freud’s theories about dreams, quickly threw himself into the study of REM. He found that it was universal and occurred periodically through the night, alternating with other states. He gave them names: Stages 3 and 4, or deep sleep, when electrical waves roll as slow as mid-ocean swells; Stage 2, an intermediate stage between REM and deep sleep; and Stage 1, light sleep.

He also confirmed the link between REM and dreaming, and for a time hopes for sleep research — and money for it — soared.


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Yet Drs. Dement, Hobson and others found in their studies scant evidence to confirm that dreams were the disguised, forbidden wishes described by Freud. They found instead a tangle of apparent anxieties, fantasy and vivid, often nonsensical replays of events that showed few verifiable patterns or measurable function.

They had hit a wall, and sleep research, like its nocturnal subjects, dropped from REM excitement back into a void. “You had this great excitement, basically followed by 40 years of nothing; it was just horrible,” said Robert Stickgold, a cognitive neuroscientist at Harvard. “Just a period of darkness.”

The sun came up in 1994, in Rehovot, Israel. There, a research team led by Avi Karni found that depriving people of REM sleep undermined memory of patterns they had learned the day before, while depriving them of deep sleep did not.

This result raised more questions than it answered — Were the participants simply sleepy, or stressed? Why just REM? What was the purpose of the other sleep states? — but it was an invitation to researchers interested in sleep.

“I called Karni immediately, and he sent me all his protocols, everything,” Dr. Stickgold said.

Others called, too. The field was waking up, and now turning its focus to a long-neglected area: learning and memory.

Since then the study findings have come almost too fast to digest, and they suggest that the sleeping brain works on learned information the way a change sorter does on coins. It seems first to distill the day’s memories before separating them — vocabulary, historical facts and dimes here; cello scales, jump shots and quarters over there. It then bundles them into readable chunks, at different times of the night. In effect, the stages of sleep seem to be specialized to handle specific types of information, the studies suggest.

On a recent Monday afternoon in Dr. Stickgold’s lab at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, a postdoctoral student, Matthew Tucker, was running a study of the effect of naps on memorized words. In a neighboring room, a Boston University student was cramming on a list of 48 word-pairs; in another, a stubbly University of Massachusetts student had finished studying and was reclining for a nap, his face covered with electrode patches, like leeches sprouting antenna.

“College students are always ready for nap; we have no problems there,” Dr. Tucker was saying, as he moved back and forth, checking his watch, timing one student’s nap and the other’s study period.

He sat down for a moment. “We are finding that if a person takes a nap that contains slow-wave sleep — deep sleep — that performance on declarative memory tasks, which require the memorization of fact-based information like word-pairs, is enhanced compared to a person who doesn’t take a nap,” Dr. Tucker said.

Previous studies of nocturnal sleep have found the same thing. Memory of learned facts, whether they are names, places, numbers or Farsi verbs, seems to benefit in part from deep sleep. Healthy sleepers usually fall into deep sleep about 20 minutes or so after head meets pillow. They might spend an hour or more in those lolling depths early in the night, and typically less time later on. When cramming on facts, in short, it may be wiser to crash early at night and arise early, than to burn the candle until 2 a.m., the research suggests.

REM sleep, the bulk of which comes later in the night, seems important for pattern recognition — for learning grammar, for example, or to bird-watch, or play chess.

In one 2003 study, Sara Mednick, then at Harvard and now at the University of California, San Diego, led a team that had 73 people come into the lab at 9 a.m. and learn to discriminate between a variety of textured patterns. Some of the participants then took a nap of about an hour at 2 p.m. and the others did not.

When retested at 7 p.m. the rested group did slightly better. When tested again the next morning, after everyone had slept the night, the napping group scored much higher. The naps included both REM and deep sleep.

“We think that a nap that contains both these states does about the same for memory consolidation as a night’s sleep,” when it comes to pattern recognition learning, Dr. Mednick said.

Not that Stage 2 is an empty corridor between destinations. In series of experiments that he began in the early 1990s, Dr. Carlyle Smith of Trent University in Canada has found a strong association between the amount of Stage 2 sleep a person gets and the improvement in learning motor tasks. Mastering a guitar, a hockey stick or a keyboard are all motor tasks.


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Musicians, among others, have sensed this for ages. A piece that frustrates the fingers during evening practice often flows in the morning. But only in recent years has the science caught up and given their instincts a practical shape.

For instance, Dr. Smith said that people typically got most of their Stage 2 sleep in the second half of the night. “The implication of this is that if you are preparing for a performance, a music recital, say, or skating performance, it’s better to stay up late than get up really early,” he said in an interview. “These coaches that have athletes or other performers up at 5 o’clock in the morning, I think that’s just crazy.”

For all these nighttime fireworks, memory researchers have yet to work out a complete picture of how all the pieces fit together. Each has a theory, but they differ: Dr. Smith focuses on Stage 2, others on deep sleep, still others on REM or a combination of REM and deep sleep. And no one knows how individual differences, between night owls and early birds, for instance, affect nighttime learning.

In addition, said Jerome Siegel, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, millions of people have taken drugs that suppress REM without reporting serious memory problems. “I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that sleep contributes to learning and memory consolidation, but the claim is that it’s essential, that it’s doing something the waking brain won’t, and the research hasn’t shown that,” Dr. Siegel said.

Even the college all-nighter provides evidence that some consolidation occurs during waking, he said. “College students know that the best way to learn stuff isn’t to stay up all night because it’s going to impair your judgment,” Dr. Siegel said, “but it doesn’t matter how good your judgment is if the information isn’t in there. And students know from experience that a lot of it is.”

One reason some neuroscientists are confident that the sleeping brain is actively working on the day’s streaming video of information is because they have seen it with their own eyes — or heard it, at least.

In his lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Matthew Wilson has been studying rats and mice wearing what look like Carmen Miranda hats. These are ultralight implants through which researchers thread hairlike wires to record the activity of single cells deep in the brain, in the left and right hippocampus, where the day’s memories are recorded.

Past research has shown that the hippocampus is spatially sensitive: it seems literally to pair the firing of individual neurons with locations outside the body. These systems are thought to function in similar ways in humans and rodents.

Computers record the cells’ firing in real time and can broadcast it over speakers. “I would listen to this background music of the brain sometime when the animals were asleep, and I started hearing this section that sounded very much like the pattern when the animals were in the maze,” Dr. Wilson said in an interview. “I recognized the firing pattern.”

The maze route is an important memory for these animals; it’s about all they know. In a paper published last December, Dr. Wilson and Daoyun Ji reported that in sleeping animals they had recorded chatter in neurons in the visual center of the neocortex, followed by an apparent response in the hippocampus — and not just any response, but a replay of the activity in the hippocampus that occurred during a maze task.

Dr. Wilson thinks of this as a kind of off-line conversation between the neocortex, which is involved in conscious learning during waking, and the hippocampus. “What we notice is that the light goes on in the neocortex a fraction of a second before it goes on in the hippocampus, as if the cortex is asking for information,” he said.


Page 4 of 4)

He said that this process was probably similar to what goes on when people take a moment to reflect, without distractions, sifting through the experiences of the day, also flagging important details, replaying events. “The question is not whether this is an essential process; it is,” Dr. Wilson said. “The question is whether there is something going on during this process that is unique to sleep.”

Subimal Datta, a neuroscientist across the river at Boston University School of Medicine, thinks so. In his studies of animals, he has documented that during sleep the brain is awash in a chemical bath unlike any during waking. Levels of inhibitory transmitters increase sharply, and levels of many activating messengers drop, or shut down entirely.

Even before REM is detectable, Dr. Datta said, a small pocket of cells in the brainstem spurs a surge in glutamate — an activating chemical — which leads to protein synthesis and other changes that support long-term memory storage.

“During waking we have a thousand things happening at once, the library is filling up, and we can’t possibly process it all,” Dr. Datta said. While awake the brain is also gathering lots of valuable information subconsciously, he said, without the person’s ever being aware of it.

“It’s during sleep that we have this special condition to clear away this overload, and these REM processes then help store what’s important,” Dr. Datta said.

In the jargon of the field, the “signal to noise ratio” becomes much stronger. The neural trace of the trivia has weakened, and crucial details are replayed and reinforced.

Dreams still defy scientific measurement but they, too, have a place in the evolving theory of sleep-dependent learning.

It is likely during REM, some scientists argue, that the brain proceeds to mix, match and juggle the memory traces it has preserved, looking for hidden connections that help make sense of the world. Life experience is cut up and reordered, sifted and shuffled again. This process could account for the cockeyed, disjointed scenes that occur during dreams: the kaleidoscope of distilled experience is being turned.

It also might account for that golden gift often attributed to a night’s sleep: inspiration.

To hear some people tell it, a night’s sleep changed their world. It was reportedly during sleep that the Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleev’s periodic table of the elements tumbled into place. Friedrich August Kekule, a 19th-century chemist, said he worked out the chemical structure of the benzine ring — an important discovery — when he dreamed of a snake biting its tail. Athletes, including the golfer Jack Nicklaus, have also talked about insight coming during sleep.

Slight corrections in technique are revealed; sand traps are averted; mountains move.

“It does make sense these insights come during REM,” Dr. Walker said. “I mean, what better time to play out all these different scenarios and solutions and ideas than in dreams, where there are no consequences?”

The problem, he and others say, is how to study it. That, most neuroscientists agree, will take some very creative thinking — both of the daytime and nighttime kind.
27605  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 23, 2007, 12:23:22 PM
Putting Superbugs on the Defensive
Hospitals Begin to Tout
Ability to Control Infection;
Mining the Available Data
October 23, 2007; Page D1

Hospitals are prime breeding grounds for antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" that kill tens of thousands of Americans each year. But most people have had no way of knowing how well their hospital keeps these bacteria -- and infections in general -- under control.

Concern over the spread of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus has prompted renewed calls for preventive measures such as handwashing and the cleaning of facilities and schools where cases have been found.
That is starting to change. Nineteen states have adopted laws in recent years requiring hospitals to report overall infection rates publicly, with more likely to follow suit. And Thursday, nearly two dozen federal lawmakers, headed by Pennsylvania Rep. Tim Murphy, proposed legislation requiring nationwide public reporting.

So far, just four states have published some infection rates for individual hospitals, and only one state, Pennsylvania, breaks out different types of infections. But even where patients can't find state-mandated infection reports, they can increasingly get information from their local hospital about practices to prevent superbugs and other infections. Some hospitals have found a marketing opportunity in infection prevention: They are pushing overall infection rates toward zero -- and advertising it. They are trumpeting prevention efforts, such as campaigns to improve hand washing. And some are tracking patients who have been infected with superbugs such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, and monitoring them to prevent the spread.

"This is one of those cases where quality is also the best business case," says Jonathan Perlin, chief medical officer at hospital chain HCA Inc., which has enlisted staffers and visitors alike in its own campaign to keep germs away from patients.

While antibiotic-resistant infections have gotten the attention of late, hospitals have long struggled with infections of all kinds. Common bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus can infect the bloodstream, urinary tract, lungs or surgical incisions of patients whose immune systems are already compromised. Over time, some strains of these bacteria have developed powerful defenses against antibiotics, leaving them harder to kill.

Hospitals have long attempted to keep infection rates low, but the spread of resistant strains has made the fight that much more urgent in recent years. Last week, concerns came to a head with a new study showing that antibiotic-resistant infections are probably far more extensive than previously thought. The study published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, concluded that MRSA causes 94,000 infections a year. The study estimated that MRSA, one of the biggest infection concerns in hospitals, contributes to nearly 19,000 deaths. The vast majority were linked to health care, including hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis and others.

At the same time, recent student illnesses and deaths have prompted school closings in some states. (Please see related article.) And starting next year, Medicare will no longer reimburse hospitals for some infections acquired after admission, in an effort both to encourage vigilance and to save money.


Hospital chain HCA has taken its campaign against antibiotic-resistant infections to the public as well as its medical staff. Below, links to a handout for visitors to HCA hospitals, and a poster aimed at employees.
• Handout: Stopping Infections Is In Your Hands
• Poster: Stopping MRSA Is In Your HandsAmong the four states that have published infection rates, Missouri and Vermont let consumers learn the number of blood infections related to central lines -- tubes inserted into or near the heart, often to give medications or fluids -- and how that compares with state or national averages. Pennsylvania provides multiple reports on different kinds of infections, and lets consumers look up infection-related mortality, length-of-stay and cost data for several kinds of infections. A Web site from Consumers Union,, has links to reports from each state, including Florida, according to Lisa McGiffert, director of the Stop Hospital Infections Campaign.

'Ahead of the Curve'

Information from Florida is nearly two years old, and Missouri's dates to December 2006. But the information released so far is an important start, say public-health experts, since most of the hospital-infection reports mandated by the new state laws won't be available before about 2009. "Those states that have already released data are ahead of the curve," says John Jernigan, a medical epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

So far, infection reports available to the public aren't consistent enough to allow consumers to compare hospitals across state lines, and even comparing facilities within a state can be tricky. Some facilities may treat sicker patients, for example, who are more likely to become infected when exposed to MRSA or other resistant bugs.

Indeed, the data are probably too technical for most consumers, says Carlene Muto, medical director of infection control at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Still, she is a strong supporter of the reporting requirements as a way to push hospitals to improve. "Clearly, it's a good idea just to measure adverse events," she says. "You can't change what you do not measure, because you won't know that it's broken."

In areas where patients can't learn actual infection rates, they can watch for key signs that a hospital is on top of preventing both superbugs and infections generally. National studies suggest, for example, that hospital personnel don't wash their hands nearly as often as they should.

Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA has been putting up posters exhorting doctors to wash their hands, and is even distributing a card to visitors that explains the importance of hand washing when coming in contact with patients. The company says its purchases of hand-sanitizing alcohol gel -- available from dispensers throughout its hospitals -- have risen 600% since early this year. (Company officials say they didn't measure infection rates at the start of the campaign and so don't know how much infections have fallen.)

Other hospitals say they have pushed antibiotic-resistant-infection rates down sharply through a combination of techniques. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, for example, has cut MRSA infection rates in half at its main hospital since 2001 in part by screening all intensive-care patients to see if they are carrying the bug; it is now expanding use of the tests.

To reduce certain kinds of bloodstream infections, the 19-hospital system bundles sterile material needed to insert central lines and has stepped up training; central-line associated blood-infection rates have fallen by 80% since 2002, to fewer than one per thousand such procedures.

It also has taken steps to deal with the emergence of a different strain of bacteria that can cause potentially fatal diarrhea. The hospital lets nurses order tests for the bug; requires longer isolation periods for those infected with it; gives their rooms an additional cleaning with bleach; and requires physicians to get approval from an antibiotic-management team when using certain high-powered antimicrobials that could affect the body's natural defenses against the bacteria. UPMC's infection rates for the organism, Clostridium difficile, have fallen two-thirds since a spike in 2000.

Intermountain Healthcare, a Salt Lake City-based chain of 21 hospitals, keeps a database of every patient who has been infected with MRSA. Those who return to the hospital for some other reason are immediately monitored by an infection-control nurse and tested to see if they are carrying the bacteria.

"Those patients are at higher risk of potentially getting it again, and at higher risk of spreading it to other patients," says the hospital's chief medical officer, Brent Wallace. Together with a concerted campaign to improve hand-washing, the database has helped stop an increase in the number of MRSA infections at the hospital over the past year, he says.

Broader Testing

Some states are also beginning to mandate broader testing specifically for MRSA, since patients can carry the bug and spread it without showing signs of infection. Pennsylvania will soon require hospitals to test high-risk patients, including those admitted from nursing homes. In August, New Jersey and Illinois adopted legislation requiring hospitals to identify patients carrying MRSA and isolate them, among other provisions.

Don Goldmann, senior vice president of the Institute for Health Care Improvement and a Harvard Medical School pediatrics professor, says that factors beyond infection rates should play into picking a hospital. "There may be a lot of information to weigh."

On their own, some hospitals have been turning to a variety of new technologies to try to cut down on infections, particularly superbugs, ranging from antibiotic-coated catheters to work surfaces made of copper, which has antimicrobial properties, as well as software. For several years, many hospitals have also participated in federally sponsored programs to reduce surgical complications, including infections acquired in the hospital.

Write to Theo Francis at
27606  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Holy Land Foundation trial on: October 23, 2007, 12:20:07 PM
Here's the NYTimes' version:

DALLAS, Oct. 22 — A federal judge declared a mistrial on Monday in what was widely seen as the government’s flagship terrorism-financing case after prosecutors failed to persuade a jury to convict five leaders of a Muslim charity on any charges, or even to reach a verdict on many of the 197 counts.

Noor Elashi, daughter of one of the defendants, Ghassan Elashi, said after the trial ended that she considered him a hero.
The case, involving the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and five of its backers, is the government’s largest and most complex legal effort to shut down what it contends is American financing for terrorist organizations in the Middle East.

President Bush announced he was freezing the charity’s assets in December 2001, saying that the radical Islamic group Hamas had “obtained much of the money it pays for murder abroad right here in the United States.”

But at the trial, the government did not accuse the foundation, which was based in a Dallas suburb, of paying directly for suicide bombings. Instead, the prosecution said, the foundation supported terrorism by sending more than $12 million to charitable groups, known as zakat committees, which build hospitals and feed the poor.

Prosecutors said the committees were controlled by Hamas and contributed to terrorism by helping Hamas spread its ideology and recruit supporters. The government relied on Israeli intelligence agents, using pseudonyms, to testify in support of this theory.

But prosecutors appeared to have made little headway in convincing the jury.

The case involved 197 counts, including providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. It also involved years of investigation and preparation, almost two months of testimony and more than 1,000 exhibits, including documents, wiretaps, transcripts and videotapes dug up in a backyard in Virginia.

After 19 days of deliberations, the jury acquitted one of the five individual defendants on all but one charge, on which it deadlocked. A majority of the jurors also appeared ready to acquit two other defendants of most charges, and could not reach a verdict on charges against the two principal organizers and the foundation itself, which had been the largest Muslim charity in the United States until the government froze its assets in late 2001.

James T. Jacks, the first assistant United States attorney, said in court that the government would retry the case. Both prosecutors and defense lawyers have been barred from discussing the case in the press, and Chief Judge A. Joe Fish said that order continued in force.

The decision is “a stunning setback for the government, there’s no other way of looking at it,” said Matthew D. Orwig, a partner at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal here who was, until recently, United States attorney for the Eastern District of Texas.

“This is a message, a two-by-four in the middle of the forehead,” said Mr. Orwig, who was appointed by President Bush and served on the United States attorney general’s advisory subcommittee on terrorism and national security. “If this doesn’t get their attention, they are just in complete denial,” he said of Justice Department officials, who he said might not have recognized how difficult such cases are to prosecute.

David D. Cole, a professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University, said the jury’s verdict called into question the government’s tactics in freezing the assets of charities using secret evidence that the charities cannot see, much less rebut. When, at trial, prosecutors “have to put their evidence on the table, they can’t convict anyone of anything,” he said. “It suggests the government is really pushing beyond where the law justifies them going.”

And Jimmy Gurulé, who was an under secretary of the Treasury when that agency froze Holy Land’s assets, described the outcome as “the continuation of what I now see as a trend of disappointing legal defeats” in terror-financing cases. Two previous cases, in Illinois and in Florida, ended with hung juries and relatively minor plea deals, he said.

In the Holy Land case, defense lawyers told the jury that their clients did not support terrorism but were humanitarians trying to lessen suffering among impoverished Palestinians. Though their clients may have expressed support for Hamas, the defense argued, that was before the United States government designated it as a terrorist organization in 1995.

The outcome of the trial emerged during a morning of confusion for jurors and those on both sides of the case, who had been waiting to hear the verdict since the jury returned it on Oct. 18. It was sealed until Monday because Chief Judge Fish had been out of town.

In the verdict, the jury said it failed to reach a decision on any of the charges against the charity and two of its main organizers, but acquitted three defendants on almost all counts.

But in a highly unusual development, when the judge polled the jurors on Monday, three members said that verdict did not represent their views. He sent them off to deliberate again; after about 40 minutes, they said they could not continue.  In the end, one defendant, Mohammed El-Mezain, was acquitted on all but one charge, involving conspiracy, on which the jury failed to reach a verdict. A mistrial was declared on that count, and on all the other counts involving the other defendants.

The exact nature of the jurors’ disputes, and their reasoning in the cases, remained unclear after the verdict. Chief Judge Fish barred reporters from trying to contact the jurors, although he said he would provide jurors with reporters’ telephone numbers if they wanted to discuss the case.

One juror said the panel had found little evidence against three defendants and was evenly split on charges against Shukri Abu Baker, the former charity’s president, and Ghassan Elashi, its chairman.

“I understand there’s no magical mystery check with ‘Hamas’ written on it, but over all the case was pretty weak,” said the juror, William Neal, 33, an art director from Dallas. “There really was nothing there for me, no concrete evidence.” Mr. Neal said the government should not retry the case — a call picked up by Holy Land’s supporters, who packed the courtroom during the trial, and who carried some defendants around on their shoulders outside the courthouse chanting “Praise God” in Arabic.

“The government spent 13 years and came back empty-handed,” said Khalil Meek, who is president of the Muslim Legal Fund of America and spokesman for an alliance called Hungry for Justice. “I would call that a victory — an overwhelming defeat for the government.”

Lawyers for some defendants said their clients were being prosecuted because of their family ties to Hamas leaders. One defendant, Mufid Abdulqader, is the half-brother of Khalid Mishal, a Hamas leader who has been designated as a terrorist by the United States government.

Another Hamas official and designated terrorist, Mousa abu Marzook, is married to a cousin of Mr. Elashi, who was sentenced last year to almost seven years in prison for having financial dealings with Mr. Marzook and for violating export laws.

Mr. Elashi’s daughter Noor, who was in the courtroom every day during the trial, said she considered her father a hero. “He was singled out for feeding and clothing and educating the children of Palestine,” she said. “Giving charity to the Palestinian people has become a crime in this country.”

27607  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Holy Land Foundation trial on: October 23, 2007, 12:16:24 PM
Mistrial Hurts Bid to Thwart Funding of Extremists
October 23, 2007; Page A8

In a setback for the government's efforts to cut off fund raising for Islamic extremists, a federal judge in Dallas declared a mistrial on most charges in the largest U.S. terror-financing case.

Prosecutors are expected to retry the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and five of its leaders after an unusual courtroom dispute when three jurors disagreed with some of the acquittals being read by a jury foreman.

U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish sent the jurors back to resolve their differences, but after about an hour the jurors told him 11 of the 12 felt that a unanimous decision couldn't be reached on most of the charges. The jury had agreed on some acquittals. But on the others the judge declared a mistrial.

The Justice Department, citing a gag order by the judge, declined to comment. Defense lawyers said the mistrial showed the government's case is fatally flawed.

It isn't clear whether the collapse of the case will affect how the Justice Department handles other pending cases involving alleged terror actions. One such case involves the Islamic American/African Relief Agency, which, along with five of its employees, was indicted earlier this year on charges including money laundering and violating sanctions against Iraq, prior to the U.S. invasion. The Treasury Department designated the charity as a terror group.

The Holy Land foundation was one of the biggest Islamic charities in the U.S. before it was raided and shut down by the Treasury Department in December 2001. It said that it focused on disaster relief, and aiding Muslim children and families left homeless or poor by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

FBI agents and Israeli officials, however, testified in the two-month trial that Holy Land funneled millions of dollars to Hamas, which has carried out suicide bombings in Israel. The U.S. government designated Hamas a terrorist group in 1995, making financial transactions with it illegal. President Bush announced the seizure of Holy Land's assets in December 2001, calling the action "another step in the war on terrorism."

Prosecutors put on a lengthy, complex case alleging a wide-ranging conspiracy by Islamic militants stretching back to the 1980s. Charges included material support for a terrorist organization, money laundering, racketeering and tax violations.

Defense lawyers said the activists were seeking to provide humanitarian aid to their distressed brethren in Gaza and the West Bank, and emphasized the lack of any direct connection between money raised in the U.S. and suicide bombings in Israel.

The case was closely followed by other Islamic groups in the U.S. and the greater Islamic community, which says Muslims in this country have come under unfair scrutiny since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"It seems clear that the majority of the jury agreed with many observers of the trial who believe the charges were built on fear, not facts, " said Parvez Ahmed, chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "This is a stunning defeat for prosecutors and a victory for America's legal system."

Prosecutors believe they may have relied too heavily on witnesses and evidence from Israel that was discounted by the jury, and that the prosecution was unnecessarily complex when the laws are written broadly enough to present various acts as clear and simple violations, according to a person familiar with their thinking.

"Conspiracy theories just don't go over well in jury cases," counterterrorism analyst Douglas Farah said.

Write to Glenn R. Simpson at and Evan Perez at
27608  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fred hits 'em in the fire in the belly on: October 23, 2007, 12:08:23 PM
Fred Thompson met the media yesterday, a day after the GOP debate in Orlando, and continued to be peppered by questions about whether he has the "fire in the belly" to run for president.

Mr. Thompson clearly showed his disdain for the question. "I'm glad we're dealing again with matters of real important national security and real important matters to our economy," he responded in a sarcastic tone. He proceeded to lecture the assembled press corps: "To hear some of these comments, you would not recognize the fact that I'm apparently second in all the national polls, that I've got over 100,000 contributors and I've been in the race for about eight weeks."

As for critics who cite his scant campaign schedule and short speeches as signs his bid for the nomination is troubled, he offered a simple response: "I'm going to do it the way I want to do it."

Evidence for that attitude soon arrived when he took a question about the Terri Schiavo controversy. Mr. Thompson had made headlines last month during a visit to Florida when asked if Congress had overstepped its bounds in 2005 over the court-ordered removal of Ms. Schiavo's feeding tube. He said at the time: "Local matters, generally speaking, should be left to the locals," adding, "I don't remember the details of the case." His response left many to wonder, as ABC News put it, "if he had slept through what was a national frenzy."

Mr. Thompson pointed out yesterday that he was far from indifferent to the Schiavo case, having been intimately involved in a decision to end the life of his own daughter in 2002, after she entered the hospital due to an accidental drug overdose. "I had to make those decisions with the rest of my family," an emotional Mr. Thompson told reporters. "And I will assure you one thing: No matter which decision you make, you will never know whether or not you made exactly the right decision." He also decried those who would turn life-and-death medical decisions into a "political football," saying the federal government "should stay out of these matters."

As an unconventional candidate, Mr. Thompson can expect more questions about his work habits and speaking style. But I suspect questions about his knowledge of the Terri Schiavo case will now stop.

Political Journal WSJ
27609  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: October 23, 2007, 11:55:37 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Iran's Debate Over Risk
October 23, 2007 02 17  GMT

While intense diplomacy swirled around the possible intervention of Turkey into Iraq, the internal political situation in Iran became even murkier this weekend than it usually is. Iran's lead negotiator on nuclear issues, Ali Larijani, resigned his position as head of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) on Oct. 20. He was replaced by a fairly junior official, Saeed Jalili, who is deputy foreign minister for European and American affairs, but also is being described as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's right-hand man.

Negotiators get replaced routinely, and in general this would be no more interesting than a similar replacement in the United States. But this case is different, given the critical importance of nuclear negotiations to Iran, the fact that a major summit just occurred between Ahmadinejad and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the fact that the replacement has kicked off some interesting dissent in Iran. A key aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- who ultimately holds decisive power in Iran -- criticized the resignation, saying it was the wrong time for a change. Later the government announced that Larijani (who was reappointed to the SNSC as Khamenei's special representative) would accompany his replacement to a meeting with the EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana. Then reports surfaced to the effect that Khamenei himself had relieved Larijani.

All of this seems to pivot around Putin's visit to Iran. That visit produced two results. The first was that the Russians made it clear that they opposed any American attack on Iran, and implied that they might take some action in the event of such an attack. Russia cannot do anything militarily in Iran, but there are several vulnerable points that are of interest to the United States where the Russians could act. The second outcome of the summit was that Putin not only made no clear commitment on continuing to aid Iran's nuclear development, but in fact appears to have asked the Iranians to halt development on their own. In other words, in return for Russian strategic support, the Iranians would have to put their nuclear program on ice. The offer makes perfect sense from the Russian point of view: Iran remains a thorn in the side of the United States while the justification for an American attack is removed.

The offer might be attractive from the Iranian point of view as well. In the long run, a strategic partnership with Russia could be of more value to Iran than a few nuclear weapons (which probably would be destroyed by the Americans or Israelis anyway). Clearly the Iranians find this possibility attractive: The Iranian press is filled with stories praising Putin and his statesmanship.

But the offer appears to have kicked off an internal debate. The conventional view is that Ahmadinejad wants to build nuclear weapons under any circumstances, while others such as Larijani want to negotiate away the program -- and Khamenei is balancing between the two factions. Our view is a bit more complicated than this.

The issue in the Iranian leadership is not whether to negotiate away the nuclear program, but what the price should be. The offer of a Russian strategic relationship is attractive, but it hardly addresses all of Iran's needs and aspirations. Trading the nuclear program for that alone seems to put too low a value on it.

Larijani's personal views are unclear, but it is always assumed that the negotiator wants the negotiation to succeed, which would make him a moderate in the sense of being prepared to bargain away the program. That's possible, but it is not certain. In any case, the debate does not appear to us to be between hard-liners and moderates. That implies an ideological twist to it. Rather, the debate is between those who are prepared to incur some risk and those who want to minimize it.

Iran is a country of enormous bellicosity. Interestingly, when you look at its foreign policy, it tends to take few overt risks, preferring covert and deniable operations, and gestures like the nuclear program. Iran gets invaded more often than it invades. Accepting the Russian proposal might be attractive to much of the leadership because it reduces risk, including the risk of having a nuclear program. (This option is not entirely without risk, however -- the Soviets occupied northern Iran during World War II and were reluctant to leave.)

For Ahmadinejad, on the other hand, now is precisely the moment when risks should be taken. The Americans are weak, Iraq is fragmented, the Turks are up in arms. Ahmadinejad seems to be saying that alignment with the Russians is nice, but the Russians will have to bring more to the table to end the nuclear program. Specifically, they will have to bring the Americans to the table. The faction supporting Larijani seems to be saying that alignment with Russia is quite enough and it is time to reduce the risks. And given the confusion we are seeing, Khamenei seems to be waffling.

27610  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine on: October 23, 2007, 11:47:06 AM

Army Ranger Handbook (2006) Ranger Medic Handbook (2007)
27611  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: October 23, 2007, 11:41:45 AM
Second post of the AM-- in a closely related vein:

Bush proposes massive policing plan for México, isthmus

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
and staff reports

President George Bush Monday asked Congress to approve $550 million in aid to Mexico and Central American states to help them deal with cross-border crime, drug-trafficking and terrorism. The request is part of the administration's nearly $200 billion supplemental funding request for U.S. operations in Iraq and the broader war on terrorism.

The money being sought for Mexico and Central America is only a small fraction of the administration budget request.

But it would be a major increase in U.S. security aid to the region and it is the subject of some controversy in Mexico, which has been traditionally sensitive about security relations with its northern neighbor.

The vast majority of the funding, $500 million, would go to Mexico and is aimed at bolstering what U.S. officials say have been promising efforts by Mexican President Felipe Calderon's government to disrupt drug trafficking gangs and organized crime.

The remaining $50 million would be devoted to similar regional efforts by Central American states. And most of that probably would be directed to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras where the international gang problem is the most serious. The initiative includes all the Central American states and Panamá.

In a telephone conference call with reporters, Thomas Shannon, assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs, said he hopes Monday's request will only be a down payment on a three-year U.S. aid effort of nearly $1.5 billion.

Shannon said the United States would provide México with helicopters and surveillance aircraft to support drug interdiction and rapid-response operations by Mexican law enforcement agencies, as well as advanced drug detection and communications equipment.

But questioned about Mexican political concerns, Shannon said the aid package would not involve any U.S. military presence in that country and would not require any change in agreements limiting the number of U.S. law enforcement officials currently involved in liaison work in México.

The aid package, under discussion by the two governments since President Bush met President Calderón in Mexico last March, has been described as Plan México in Mexican press accounts — a reference to the multi-billion-dollar U.S. anti-insurgency aid program for the Bogota government known as Plan Colombia begun in 1999.

However, Shannon dismissed the comparison, stressing that the Mexican government does not face the multiple insurgencies that confronted Colombia at the time, and that the title of the new program has always been the Merida Initiative, named for the site of this year's Bush-Calderón meeting.

Shannon said the proposed U.S. aid effort is small in comparison to the $3 billion committed in recent months by the Calderón government itself.

Mexico has deployed some 20,000 troops and federal police to combat drug cartels, which have been battling among themselves for dominance in gangland violence that has killed hundreds of people this year.

The State Department said that the program is to provide:

• Non-intrusive inspection equipment, ion scanners, canine units for Mexican customs, for the new federal police and for the military to interdict trafficked drugs, arms, cash and persons.

• Technologies to improve and secure communications systems to support collecting information as well as ensuring that vital information is accessible for criminal law enforcement.

• Technical advice and training to strengthen the institutions of justice vetting for the new police force, case management software to track investigations through the system to trial, new offices of citizen complaints and professional responsibility, and establishing witness protection programs.

• Helicopters and surveillance aircraft to support interdiction activities and rapid operational response of law enforcement agencies in Mexico.

• Initial funding for security cooperation with Central America that responds directly to Central American leaders’ concerns over gangs, drugs, and arms articulated during a July security strategies meeting.

• Includes equipment and assets to support counterpart security agencies inspecting and interdicting drugs, trafficked goods, people and other contraband as well as equipment, training and community action programs in Central American countries to implement anti-gang measures and expand the reach of these measures.
27612  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mex soldiers aiding drug smugglers on the border? on: October 23, 2007, 11:37:25 AM
Are Mexican Soldiers Aiding Drug Smugglers on the Border?
Allan Wall - PVNN

Among the many problems on the US-Mexico border is that of reported Mexican military incursions onto the US side of the border. These incidents raise disturbing questions about US-Mexican relations and the two nations' wars on the drug cartels.

The evidence indicates that elements of the Mexican military are aiding drug smugglers on the border.

Such incursions have been reported for years by US law enforcement offices and by Mexican illegal aliens.

Both governments would prefer not to acknowledge the problem. When pressured, the US downplays it, while Mexican officials deny the incidents, or attribute them to accidental crossings or drug smugglers dressed as Mexican soldiers.

Much of the US-Mexican border is unguarded, trackless desert. So it's not surprising that from time to time a Mexican army vehicle or patrol might take a wrong turn and wind up north of the border.

Doubtless there have been some accidental crossings. But they wouldn't account for the bulk of the incidents, especially considering the reported behavior of these soldiers, which is sometimes aggressive.

As for the "smugglers disguised as soldiers" argument, there may be some cases of that too. But if that were the principal explanation, it could imply that (a) the Mexican Army can't secure its materiel stores, or (b) it can't control the border area, which is hardly reassuring.

A US Department of Homeland Security document in 2006 reported 216 such incursions from 1996-2006. There may be many more.

To begin with, why are there so many Mexican soldiers on the border, anyway? Is the border being militarized?

If the US put a Boy Scout with a water gun on the border, Mexican politicians would decry the "militarization of the border." Nevertheless, the Mexican side of the border is already militarized.

There are 11 Mexican military garrisons on the Mexican side of the US-Mexican border. Moving from west to east, these garrisons are located at Tecate, San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonoyta, Agua Prieta, Ciudad Juarez, Ojinaga, Palomas, Ciudad Acuna, Piedras Negras, Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros.

By the canons of international law, there's nothing wrong with it either. According to the treaties of Guadalupe-Hidalgo (1848) and the Gadsden Purchase Treaty (1853), which established the current US-Mexico border, each country reserves the right to fortify any part of its side of the border.

Nature abhors a vacuum. Both governments have allowed their common border to become a rather lawless place. I was almost attacked on the border (in an urban area) and literally made a run for the border to escape. Robbery, rape and murder are standard fare on the border, along with the drug smuggling, illegal immigration, and the hundreds of illegal aliens who perish each year on the border.

Add to the mix corrupt Mexican soldiers aiding drug smugglers and you have a real prescription for disaster.

Traditionally, the Mexican military has been regarded as less corrupt as local Mexican police. That's why President Calderon is using the military as the spearhead in his war on the cartels, and many young soldiers have died fighting drug cartels.

Nevertheless, the military has its corruption too. Plenty of military officers, including generals, have been busted for drug corruption over the years. And that's only the ones who've been caught.

The most high-profile case was that of Mexico's anti-cartel czar General Gutierrez Rebollo, who seemed to be doing such an effective job of nabbing drug traffickers. It turned out though, that he was going after one drug cartel while in the service of another. The general was arrested, convicted and sentenced to 71 years in the hoosegow. (That was back in 1997.)

It's also a known fact that deserters from the underpaid ranks of the Mexican military (which has a high desertion rate) have joined the cartels, including some crack troops trained by the USA.

So it's not at all farfetched to assert that Mexican military elements on the border are working for the cartels in smuggling operations. In fact, it would be surprising if such things weren't going on.

Unsurprisingly, ugly and dangerous incidents involving intruding Mexican soldiers and US border patrol (and other law enforcement) agents have already occurred. Border Patrol agents have already been fired upon in such incidents (and they are usually out gunned by Mexican soldiers crossing the border.)

It's not a good situation. Yet neither government seems to want to do anything about it.

PS:  Here's an older story in this vein:,2933,182650,00.html

27613  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 23, 2007, 11:18:53 AM
In the Face
Of Terror
October 23, 2007; Page A19

I survived an assassination attempt last week, but 140 of my supporters and security didn't.

This mass murder was particularly sinister, since it targeted not just me and my party leadership, but the hundreds of thousands (some estimate up to three million) of our citizens who came out to welcome me and demonstrate their support for democracy and the democratic process. Their deaths weigh heavily on my heart.

Oct. 18 underscores the critical situation we confront in Pakistan today -- trying to campaign for free, fair and transparent elections under the threat of terrorism. It demonstrates the logistical, strategic and moral challenge before us. How do we bring the election campaign to the people under the very real threat of assassination and mass casualties of the innocent?

The attack on me was not totally unexpected. I had received credible information that I was being targeted by elements that wanted to disrupt the democratic process -- specifically that Baitul Masood (an Afghan who leads the Taliban forces in North Waziristan), Hamza bin Laden (an Arab), and a Red Mosque militant had been sent to kill me. I also feared that they were being used by their sympathizers, who have infiltrated the security and administration of my country, and who now fear that the return of democracy will thwart their plans.

We had tried to take precautions. We requested permission to import a bulletproof vehicle. We asked to be provided technology that would detect and disarm IEDs. We had demanded that I receive the level of security to which I'm entitled as a former prime minister.

Now, after the carnage, the fact that the street lights around the assassination site -- Shahra e Faisal -- had been turned off, allowing the suicide bombers to gain access near to my truck, is very suspicious. I am so discomfited that the bomb investigation has been assigned to Deputy Inspector General Manzoor Mughal, who was present when my husband was almost murdered under torture some years back.

Obviously I knew the risks. I had been targeted twice before by al Qaeda assassins, including the infamous Ramzi Yousef. Knowing the modus operandi of these terrorists, coming back to the same target again (i.e. the World Trade Center), certainly underscored the danger.

Some in the Pakistani government criticized my return to Pakistan, and my plan to visit the mausoleum of the tomb of the founder of my country, Mohammed Ali Jinnah. But here was my dilemma. I had been in exile for eight painful years. Pakistan is a country of mass, grassroots, people-to-people politics. It is not California or New York, where candidates can campaign through paid media and targeted direct mail. That technology is not only logistically impossible, but it is inconsistent with our political culture.

The people of Pakistan -- whatever political party they may belong to -- want and expect to see and hear their party leaders, and be directly part of the political process. They expect mass rallies and caravans, and to hear directly from their leaders through bullhorns and loud speakers. Under normal conditions it is challenging. Under the terrorist threat, it is extraordinarily difficult. My task is to make sure that it is not impossible.

We are consulting with top political strategists on the problem. We want to be sensitive to the political culture of our nation, give people the opportunity to participate in the democratic process after eight long years of dictatorship, and educate the 100 million voters of Pakistan on the issues of the day.

But we do not want to be reckless. We do not want to endanger our leadership unnecessarily, and we certainly don't want to risk potential mass murder of my supporters. If we don't campaign, the terrorists have won and democracy is set back further. If we do campaign, we risk violence. It is an extraordinary dilemma.

We are now focusing on hybrid techniques that combine individual and mass voter contact with sharp security constraints. Where people have telephones, we can experiment with taped voice messages from me describing my issue positions and urging them to vote. In rural areas we are contemplating taped messages from me played regularly on boom boxes set up in village centers. Instead of the traditional mass caravans of Pakistani politics, we are discussing the feasibility of "virtual caravans" and "virtual mass rallies" where I would deliver important campaign addresses to large audiences all over the four provinces of Pakistan. We are thinking of new voter education and get-out-the-vote techniques that minimize my vulnerability, and minimize the opportunity for successful terrorist attacks over the next critical weeks leading to our parliamentary elections.

The sanctity of the political process must not be allowed to be destroyed by the terrorists. Democracy and moderation must be restored to Pakistan, and the way to do that is through free and fair elections establishing a legitimate government with a popular mandate -- leaders supported by the people. Intimidation by murdering cowards will not be allowed to derail Pakistan's transition to democracy.

Ms. Bhutto was prime minister of Pakistan from 1988-1990 and 1993-1996.

27614  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: October 23, 2007, 11:17:12 AM
A Medal of Honor
October 23, 2007; Page A18
Yesterday President Bush presented the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor for valor in combat, to the family of Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, a Navy SEAL who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005. It is the third Medal of Honor bestowed in the war on terror, and all have been awarded posthumously.

Lt. Murphy, of Patchogue on Long Island in New York, was the 29-year-old officer-in-charge of a four-man SEAL reconnaissance team tasked with capturing or killing a high-ranking Taliban leader in the Hindu Kush mountains, east of Asadabad behind enemy lines. A group of goat herders betrayed their position to the Taliban, and the team came under a heavy coordinated assault by dozens of insurgents, perhaps as many as 100.

The SEALs were at a tactical disadvantage and became pinned down in a ravine. Lt. Murphy, already wounded, moved out from behind cover, seeking open air for a radio signal to place a rescue call. He was shot several more times in the back. He dropped the transmitter, picked it back up and completed the call, and then rejoined the fight.

The battle, the last stage of Operation Redwing, was the worst single day of casualties for Naval Special Warfare since World War II. Only one man from the SEAL team would survive. A Chinook helicopter, carrying 16 soldiers for the rescue mission, was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military is almost spoiled for choice when it comes to such instances of heroism and sacrifice. It is regrettable that these volunteers are too often rewarded with indifference by the U.S. political culture, where "supporting the troops" becomes nothing more than a slogan when there is a score to settle. The representative men in this war are soldiers like Lt. Murphy.

27615  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Corporate Welfare on: October 23, 2007, 11:15:17 AM
The Corporate Welfare Congress
October 23, 2007; Page A18
Perhaps you've heard that this is the Congress for "the little guy," the "forgotten" middle class, the working stiff. If that was the plan, it isn't working. On present trends, the 110th Congress will go down as one of the biggest blowouts in corporate welfare history.

That's saying something, considering that the last GOP Congress gave big business some $92 billion a year in subsidies, according to the Cato Institute. Cato's latest analysis indicates that if all the pending spending bills pass, corporate welfare will exceed $100 billion in direct outlays in 2008.

The handouts for the rich that have a good chance of passing include the most expensive farm bill ever; a rise in the mortgage limits on loans that can be securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (see related article); some $2 billion in loan guarantees to ethanol producers; and expansions in flood and terrorism insurance to benefit home builders, mortgage banks, and real estate developers.

Many of the 40 largest existing corporate welfare are set to get a raise, including the Commerce Department's $116 million manufacturing extension program, the $100 million Advanced Technology Program (which funds R&D for the likes of IBM, General Electric and Xerox), and the $200 million Agriculture Market Access Program, which underwrites foreign advertising for the likes of Pillsbury and Dole. We'd call all of this the "K Street" project, but even Tom DeLay never thought this big:

Big agribusiness. The House has already passed a five-year farm bill with a cost of $286 billion. The USDA calculates that two-thirds of these subsidies are directed to the richest 10% of farmers. The huge cooperatives that grow rice, cotton, corn, wheat and soybeans will get $7.5 billion a year. These handouts will come despite record crop prices, and farm land selling at an average of 18% above a year ago. The USDA estimates that farm net income will reach $87 billion this year, nearly 50% higher than in 2006.

Ethanol. On top of the 51 cent per gallon tax credit for this inefficient fuel, the Senate energy bill requires a doubling of ethanol production from corn, $500 million in new direct payments to ethanol producers, and $2 billion more for loan guarantees for new ethanol refineries.

Big Sugar. The farm bill requires the USDA to buy up domestic sugar equal to the amount that is imported from Mexico under Nafta, which is a disguised form of trade protection. This sweet deal is like requiring the Transportation Department to purchase a Ford and GM car for every Nissan and Toyota imported into the U.S. The taxpayer cost: $1.4 billion.

Flood insurance. The House has passed a bill that replenishes a fund drained by Hurricane Katrina. But along the way it also raises the maximum coverage limits, and for the first time covers wind damage for commercial properties. The National Taxpayers Union calculates that taxpayers could be on the hook for $100 billion of future losses.

Terror insurance. On September 19, the House approved a new federal terrorism backstop for developers at an estimated 10-year cost of $10.4 billion. The original terrorism insurance bill, passed in the wake of 9/11, was supposed to be temporary. But under pressure from business lobbies and insurers, industry won a 15-year extension covering up to 90% of terrorism-related losses.

"Renewable" fuels. Energy bills moving through Congress tax oil companies and pass most of the $25 billion or so in expected revenue to wind, solar and Midwestern biofuels companies, even though private venture capital for such fuels hit new peaks in 2005 and 2006. For 20 years, the feds have poured more than $10 billion into this industry with little reduction in U.S. oil dependence.

Corporate pork. There are 13,000 earmarks in this year's appropriations bills, including hundreds that benefit narrow business groups. Such as: $500,000 to build a baseball stadium for the Cincinnati Reds minor league team in Billings, Montana; $150,000 for the Troy, Michigan Chamber of Commerce; $500,000 for the Arkansas World Trade Center; $4 million for a rail bridge for CSX railroad.

If you want to know how good liberals can tolerate such largesse for the rich, keep in mind that in Washington quids often come with a quo. The latest FEC fundraising reports indicate that industry lobbyists have shifted their allegiance from Republicans and are now funneling cash to Democrats they expect to hold their majority. Roll Call newspaper, which covers Congress, reports that in the first half of 2007 business lobbyists gave "all or most of their cash to Democratic candidates and party committees."

They're getting their money's worth.

27616  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The War for the Constitution on: October 23, 2007, 11:11:54 AM
For the record, I opposed Bork's nominatin because of his interpretation that there is no right to Privacy in the Constitution.  In my opinion, this theory would make the Ninth Amendment meaningless.  That said, the vicious and scurrilous personal attacks on a fine man and a quality legal mind were an important and precedent setting step downwards in American political culture.


The War for the Constitution
The anniversary of Robert Bork's failed nomination reminds us what's at stake in the coming election.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Twenty years ago today the United States Senate voted to reject President Reagan's nomination of Judge Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court. The senators may have had every reason to believe that was the end of the story. However ugly it had been, however much time it had taken, Mr. Bork's defeat was only one more routine sacrifice to partisan politics. But time would prove wrong anyone who actually thought that. The battle over Mr. Bork was politically transformative, its constitutional lessons enduring.

To many at the time (and still today) it was inconceivable that a man of Mr. Bork's professional accomplishments and personal character could be found unacceptable for a seat on the Court. Warren Burger summed it up for many when he described Mr. Bork as simply the best qualified nominee in the former chief justice's own professional lifetime--a span of years that included the appointments of such judicial luminaries as Benjamin Cardozo, Hugo Black and Felix Frankfurter. Such praise was no empty exaggeration.

A former Yale law professor and U.S. Solicitor General, Mr. Bork was, at the time of his nomination, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. When he was a circuit court judge, Mr. Bork's opinions not only were never overruled on appeal, but on several occasions his dissents were adopted by the Supreme Court as its majority view.

In an earlier day such an appointment would have been celebrated as adding breadth, depth and luster to the highest bench. Instead, the nominee faced a mauling by those who set out not only to destroy him personally but to discredit all that he stood for as a jurist.

It was immediately clear that the unprecedented vote of 58-42 against his confirmation reflected something far more historic and fundamental than an ordinary partisan standoff. The confrontation in fact had been one of the most cataclysmic and divisive events in American domestic politics during the second half of the 20th century. The reason was that Mr. Bork's opponents succeeded in making the fight over his nomination into a contest over the future of the Constitution.

The issue that united the judge's critics in their fiery, scorched-earth opposition was never his ability or reputation but rather his theory of judging. Mr. Bork's belief was that judges and justices in their interpretations of the Constitution must be bound to the original intentions of its framers. In his sober constitutional jurisprudence there was no room for any airy talk about a general right of privacy, allegedly unwritten constitutions, vague notions of unenumerated rights, or what the progressive Justice Black once derided as "any mysterious and uncertain natural law concept." For Mr. Bork, the framers said what they meant, and meant what they said.

Mr. Bork's approach had its roots in hundreds of years of common law history as well as in the political philosophy of those whose works serve as the foundation of American constitutionalism. Chief Justice John Marshall had summed up that received tradition when he proclaimed that recourse to a lawgiver's original intention is "the most sacred rule of interpretation." In Marshall's view, it is always "the great duty of a judge who construes an instrument . . . to find the intention of its makers." As with Marshall, so also with Mr. Bork.

At its deepest level, Mr. Bork's defeat was the result of the very public affirmation by the Senate of a dangerous theory of ideological judging that had been developing for quite some time. It was the idea of a so-called "living" Constitution, one that various scholars have said means there need be "no theoretical gulf between law and morality," and that ordinary judges are empowered to interpret the fundamental law in light of their own "fresh moral insight" in order to effect a judicially mandated "moral evolution" of the nation.
The aim of this new approach to judging that was used to pillory Mr. Bork was not a matter of mere metaphysical speculation. It was the concrete political reality of Roe v. Wade and its judicially created right to abortion--and behind that, Griswold v. Connecticut and its even more amorphous right to privacy. Mr. Bork's originalism denied the constitutional legitimacy of such contrived decisions and would have left such issues to be resolved by the people in their legislatures.

Thus, his nomination threatened not only all that had been gained by judicial fiat, such as abortion rights, but all that might be gained, such as constitutional protections for same-sex marriages. That was why, to his critics, he had to be stopped at all costs.

The price paid has proved high, indeed. The defeat heralded a fundamental transformation in the process surrounding judicial appointments and thereby radically politicized the public's view of the nature and extent of judicial power under the Constitution. Confirmation battles from Mr. Bork to Clarence Thomas to Samuel Alito have taken on the trappings of ordinary political campaigns, from instant polling to rallies and protests and attack ads. Sadly, the courts are no longer above the fray.

The Supreme Court has continued to give voice to the rhetoric of a morally evolving or living Constitution, along the way upholding Roe in 1992 and striking down state sodomy laws in 2003. Moreover, the Court has decreed that it is "invested with the authority to speak . . . before all others for [the people's] constitutional ideals."

And Judge Bork's replacement as a nominee, Justice Anthony Kennedy, has insisted that the concept of liberty has both "spatial" and "transcendent dimensions," the boundaries of which "are not susceptible of expression as a simple rule." Thus constitutional meaning, even for some Republican appointees, is no longer a matter of the framers' intention but only the judges' intuition.

Recalling Mr. Bork's experience serves to remind us of how precarious the judiciary's balance is at any given time, and how today's highly politicized process prevents even the most gifted and prominent jurists from expecting to be confirmed (or perhaps even desiring the chance to undergo the ordeal).

But more important, it is a reminder that presidents must be willing to undertake what they know will be a horrific fight in order to see the bench filled not with liberals or conservatives or partisans, but with constitutionalists.
In this sense, the Bork vote is not just a matter of quaint historical interest, but the first great battle in the contemporary war for the Constitution--a continuing war that must be won if true self-government is to prevail.

Time has shown that Mr. Bork's theory of constitutional interpretation remains very much alive; he was defeated but his central idea was never discredited. That theory of interpretation and its implicit belief in restrained judging should continue to guide anyone who believes that the inherent arbitrariness of government by judiciary is not the same thing as the rule of law.

Mr. McDowell, currently a recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a professor at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond.

27617  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Turkey ignites Kurdish Rivalry on: October 23, 2007, 11:05:42 AM
Second post of the AM:

Iraq, Turkey: Igniting the Kurdish Rivalry

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said Oct. 21 that the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) will announce a cease-fire on the evening of Oct. 22. With no love lost between the PKK and Iraq's Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq has every reason to use its leverage with the PKK to keep the Turks at bay, thereby safeguarding KRG interests and remaining the darling of energy investors. But the motivation behind Turkey's troop buildup along its border with Iraq extends far beyond the PKK issue: Ankara is keen on reigniting an intra-Kurdish rivalry in order to keep Iraqi Kurdistan in check.


After saying that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) would not even hand over a Kurdish cat to Ankara if Turkey did not back off, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani hinted Oct. 22 that Iraqi Kurdish forces already have moved against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) when he announced an end to PKK activities against Turkish troops scheduled to start the same evening. Talabani's statement comes against the backdrop of 100,000 Turkish troops stationed along the Turkish-Iraqi border in preparation for a large-scale offensive against PKK elements in northern Iraq. This situation became even tenser after a provocative attack Oct. 21 by Kurdish rebels that killed at least 17 Turkish soldiers.

The KRG might be able to rein in the PKK and stave off a Turkish incursion in the short term. But its ability to prevent an incursion in the long run is doubtful, especially in light of the underlying reasons for a Turkish move into Iraq.

The KRG is well aware that the conflict with Ankara extends far beyond the PKK issue. Turkey has every interest in putting a stranglehold on Iraqi Kurdish aspirations for greater autonomy. In an effort to do so, Turkey has approved a yearlong military operation that will involve building up its forces on the border, moving into Iraq and creating a buffer zone for rooting out the PKK and keeping the Iraqi Kurds in check. An integral part of Ankara's long-term plan for containing Iraqi Kurdistan involves reigniting the conflict between Iraq's two main Kurdish parties: Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which controls the southeastern Iraqi Kurdish region, and Massoud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which controls the Northwest.

The Kurds occupy the mountainous territory where Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq come together. But the mountains that have provided them a refuge also have given birth to deep-seated tribal rivalries that are regularly exploited by neighboring powers. The worst infighting in recent years occurred in 1994, when the PUK and KDP were engaged in a full-blown civil war. The fighting became so intense that Barzani called on Saddam Hussein for help battling the PUK. Moreover, the KDP worked alongside Turkey during the 1997 Turkish invasion of Iraq aimed at fighting the PKK, with the PKK and the PUK working together against the KDP. The PUK also received some help from Iran in reclaiming territory from KDP forces during the Kurdish civil war. These events demonstrate that more often than not, intra-Kurdish rivalries will take precedence -- even in the face of a common enemy (be it Turkey or Hussein).

The current unity between Iraqi Kurdish leaders is highly anomalous. Barzani and Talabani set aside their differences in 2003, just prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, in order to maximize Kurdish benefits in post-Hussein Iraq. This united Kurdish front allowed the Kurdish region to develop into the country's oasis, with energy investors worldwide hungrily eyeing its vast oil fields -- much to Turkey's displeasure. But Turkey also is well aware that the Barzani-Talabani truce is extremely fragile. Everything from telecom companies to peshmerga units still are clearly divided between the PUK and KDP in Iraqi Kurdish territory. The fate of Kirkuk also has caused friction between the two parties as they compete to claim the legacy of having gotten the city officially designated Kurdish territory.

Turkey has every reason to exacerbate intra-Kurdish tensions through military action in an effort to break the KRG apart. Should Turkish troops move deep into Kurdish territory -- to Dohuk and beyond -- clashes between peshmerga and Turkish forces are highly likely. This could further strain the PUK-KDP alliance. Turkey also could drive a wedge between the parties by attempting to align with Talabani, whom Ankara views as a more pragmatic leader, over Barzani, whom the Turks see as a belligerent tribal warlord. And 74-year-old Talabani's worsening health itself could very well ignite another intra-Kurdish power struggle. Should Talabani feel threatened by Barzani's political ambitions, Ankara could find another opening to intervene and keep the Kurdish parties split.

27618  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: October 23, 2007, 11:04:21 AM
Exactly the sort of swill that one expects from the NYT tongue
27619  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: October 23, 2007, 10:59:56 AM
Another in a similar vein, this from the WSJ

Global Warming Delusions
The popular imagination has been captured by beliefs that have little scientific basis.

Sunday, October 21, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Global warming doesn't matter except to the extent that it will affect life--ours and that of all living things on Earth. And contrary to the latest news, the evidence that global warming will have serious effects on life is thin. Most evidence suggests the contrary.

Case in point: This year's United Nations report on climate change and other documents say that 20% to 30% of plant and animal species will be threatened with extinction in this century due to global warming--a truly terrifying thought. Yet, during the past 2.5 million years, a period that scientists now know experienced climatic changes as rapid and as warm as modern climatological models suggest will happen to us, almost none of the millions of species on Earth went extinct. The exceptions were about 20 species of large mammals (the famous megafauna of the last ice age--saber-tooth tigers, hairy mammoths and the like), which went extinct about 10,000 to 5,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age, and many dominant trees and shrubs of northwestern Europe. But elsewhere, including North America, few plant species went extinct, and few mammals.

We're also warned that tropical diseases are going to spread, and that we can expect malaria and encephalitis epidemics. But scientific papers by Prof. Sarah Randolph of Oxford University show that temperature changes do not correlate well with changes in the distribution or frequency of these diseases; warming has not broadened their distribution and is highly unlikely to do so in the future, global warming or not.

The key point here is that living things respond to many factors in addition to temperature and rainfall. In most cases, however, climate-modeling-based forecasts look primarily at temperature alone, or temperature and precipitation only. You might ask, "Isn't this enough to forecast changes in the distribution of species?" Ask a mockingbird. The New York Times recently published an answer to a query about why mockingbirds were becoming common in Manhattan. The expert answer was: food--an exotic plant species that mockingbirds like to eat had spread to New York City. It was this, not temperature or rainfall, the expert said, that caused the change in mockingbird geography.

You might think I must be one of those know-nothing naysayers who believes global warming is a liberal plot. On the contrary, I am a biologist and ecologist who has worked on global warming, and been concerned about its effects, since 1968. I've developed the computer model of forest growth that has been used widely to forecast possible effects of global warming on life--I've used the model for that purpose myself, and to forecast likely effects on specific endangered species.
I'm not a naysayer. I'm a scientist who believes in the scientific method and in what facts tell us. I have worked for 40 years to try to improve our environment and improve human life as well. I believe we can do this only from a basis in reality, and that is not what I see happening now. Instead, like fashions that took hold in the past and are eloquently analyzed in the classic 19th century book "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds," the popular imagination today appears to have been captured by beliefs that have little scientific basis.

Some colleagues who share some of my doubts argue that the only way to get our society to change is to frighten people with the possibility of a catastrophe, and that therefore it is all right and even necessary for scientists to exaggerate. They tell me that my belief in open and honest assessment is naïve. "Wolves deceive their prey, don't they?" one said to me recently. Therefore, biologically, he said, we are justified in exaggerating to get society to change.

The climate modelers who developed the computer programs that are being used to forecast climate change used to readily admit that the models were crude and not very realistic, but were the best that could be done with available computers and programming methods. They said our options were to either believe those crude models or believe the opinions of experienced, data-focused scientists. Having done a great deal of computer modeling myself, I appreciated their acknowledgment of the limits of their methods. But I hear no such statements today. Oddly, the forecasts of computer models have become our new reality, while facts such as the few extinctions of the past 2.5 million years are pushed aside, as if they were not our reality.

A recent article in the well-respected journal American Scientist explained why the glacier on Mt. Kilimanjaro could not be melting from global warming. Simply from an intellectual point of view it was fascinating--especially the author's Sherlock Holmes approach to figuring out what was causing the glacier to melt. That it couldn't be global warming directly (i.e., the result of air around the glacier warming) was made clear by the fact that the air temperature at the altitude of the glacier is below freezing. This means that only direct radiant heat from sunlight could be warming and melting the glacier. The author also studied the shape of the glacier and deduced that its melting pattern was consistent with radiant heat but not air temperature. Although acknowledged by many scientists, the paper is scorned by the true believers in global warming.

We are told that the melting of the arctic ice will be a disaster. But during the famous medieval warming period--A.D. 750 to 1230 or so--the Vikings found the warmer northern climate to their advantage. Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie addressed this in his book "Times of Feast, Times of Famine: A History of Climate Since the Year 1000," perhaps the greatest book about climate change before the onset of modern concerns with global warming. He wrote that Erik the Red "took advantage of a sea relatively free of ice to sail due west from Iceland to reach Greenland. . . . Two and a half centuries later, at the height of the climatic and demographic fortunes of the northern settlers, a bishopric of Greenland was founded at Gardar in 1126."

Ladurie pointed out that "it is reasonable to think of the Vikings as unconsciously taking advantage of this [referring to the warming of the Middle Ages] to colonize the most northern and inclement of their conquests, Iceland and Greenland." Good thing that Erik the Red didn't have Al Gore or his climatologists as his advisers.

Should we therefore dismiss global warming? Of course not. But we should make a realistic assessment, as rationally as possible, about its cultural, economic and environmental effects. As Erik the Red might have told you, not everything due to a climatic warming is bad, nor is everything that is bad due to a climatic warming.
We should approach the problem the way we decide whether to buy insurance and take precautions against other catastrophes--wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes. And as I have written elsewhere, many of the actions we would take to reduce greenhouse-gas production and mitigate global-warming effects are beneficial anyway, most particularly a movement away from fossil fuels to alternative solar and wind energy.

My concern is that we may be moving away from an irrational lack of concern about climate change to an equally irrational panic about it.

Many of my colleagues ask, "What's the problem? Hasn't it been a good thing to raise public concern?" The problem is that in this panic we are going to spend our money unwisely, we will take actions that are counterproductive, and we will fail to do many of those things that will benefit the environment and ourselves.

For example, right now the clearest threat to many species is habitat destruction. Take the orangutans, for instance, one of those charismatic species that people are often fascinated by and concerned about. They are endangered because of deforestation. In our fear of global warming, it would be sad if we fail to find funds to purchase those forests before they are destroyed, and thus let this species go extinct.

At the heart of the matter is how much faith we decide to put in science--even how much faith scientists put in science. Our times have benefited from clear-thinking, science-based rationality. I hope this prevails as we try to deal with our changing climate.

Mr. Botkin, president of the Center for the Study of the Environment and professor emeritus in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is the author of "Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the Twenty-First Century" (Replica Books, 2001).
27620  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Turkey on: October 23, 2007, 09:16:46 AM


A Kurdish Lesson
Terrorist groups often have nine lives.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

A debate among U.S. military brass over whether to declare victory over al Qaeda in Iraq coincides with threats by Turkey to strike terrorist camps in northern Iraq belonging to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. Note the irony: The PKK, which in recent days has killed scores of Turkish soldiers, was itself declared dead as a terrorist group in 1999.

There are excellent reasons to avoid pronouncements concerning AQI's defeat. One is to deny the group the chance to offer testaments in blood to its own resilience. A second is to avoid another political embarrassment of the "Mission Accomplished" kind. But the main reason is that the experience of terrorist organizations world-wide shows that even in defeat they are rarely truly finished. Like Douglas MacArthur's old soldiers, terrorist groups never die. At best they just fade away.

Some examples: In its heyday in the 1980s, Peru's Maoist Shining Path was every bit as brutal as al Qaeda. The 1992 capture of its charismatic leader, former philosophy professor Abimael Guzmán, was supposed to have dealt a fatal blow to the group's capacity to operate, as was the capture seven years later of his successor, Óscar Ramírez. Yet as recently as last year, the Peruvian government was forced to declare a state of emergency in the Huánuco region to deal with terrorist activities by the group.

Or take the Taliban. In April 2005, American Gen. David Barno told reporters he believed that, with the exception of a few bitter-enders, the Taliban would be a memory within two years. The opposite happened. In 2006, the rate of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan soared, and the Bush administration was forced to deploy 6,000 additional troops to recover territory lost to the Taliban and turn back their anticipated spring offensive.

What about the PKK? Late in 1998 Turkey massed troops on its border with Syria, with the declared intention of expelling the PKK and its leader Abdullah Öcalan from Damascus if the Syrians didn't do so themselves. (A banner headline in the Turkish paper Hurriyet declared "We're going to say 'shalom' to the Israelis on the Golan Heights.") The late Syrian strongman Hafez Assad got the message, and sent Öcalan packing. He was eventually captured by Turkish intelligence in Nairobi, and sentenced to death by a Turkish court (commuted to a life sentence when Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2002). Öcalan has since apologized to the Turkish people for the 37,000 deaths he caused in the 1980s and '90s and called for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue. The PKK itself declared a ceasefire.
That should have been the end of it. As Turkish analyst Soner Cagaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy observes, Öcalan was a cult-of-personality figure in an organization that, unlike the cellular structure of al Qaeda, was run along strictly hierarchical lines.

For the next few years the Turkish government made real, if limited, strides in accommodating peaceful ethnic Kurdish cultural demands in education and broadcasting. What remained of the PKK--5,000 or so fighters--mainly retreated to northern Iraq, where their bases were attacked by Turkish forces no fewer than 24 times.

So might things have remained had the U.S. invasion of Iraq not rearranged the strategic chessboard. The Turks did not help themselves by failing to support the war, which caused strains with Washington and prevented them from carrying out further cross-border raids. That, in turn, created an opening for Iran, which until then had been the PKK's sole remaining state sponsor. Concerned about its isolation in the region, and sensing an opportunity to make common cause with the moderately Islamist government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Tehran abruptly switched sides, going so far as to shell PKK positions in northern Iraq. Not surprisingly, the Turks began to take a more favorable view of Iran.

The U.S. role is scarcely more creditable. The Ankara government has been pressing the Bush administration to hit PKK bases for at least four years. The administration has responded with a combination of empty promises of future action and excuses that U.S. forces are already overstretched in Iraq. For the Turks, who contribute more than 1,000 troops to NATO's mission in Afghanistan, U.S. nonfeasance is a mystery, if not an outright conspiracy. "How is it that Turkey fights America's terrorists, but America does not fight Turkey's terrorists?" is how Mr. Cagaptay sums up the prevailing mood.

Yet the real mystery isn't U.S. behavior, which was mainly dictated by a desire not to rock the boat in what was (at least until this month), the only relatively stable region of Iraq. It is the forbearance shown to the PKK by Massoud Barzani, Kurdistan's president, who has otherwise sought to cultivate better relations with Ankara and Kurdish moderates in Turkey, and who would have much to lose if an invading Turkish army turned his province into a free-fire zone. One theory is that Mr. Barzani wants to use the PKK as a diplomatic card, to be exchanged for Turkish concessions in some future negotiation. But all that depends on his ability to rein in the PKK at the last minute and avert a Turkish invasion. Yesterday's kidnapping (or killing) of another eight Turkish troops puts that in doubt.
Meanwhile, the PKK has fully reconstituted itself as an effective fighting force under the leadership of Murat Karayilan, who was canny enough to see Congress's Armenian genocide resolution as an opportunity to take scissors to the already frayed U.S.-Turkish relationship. The resolution was turned back at the 11th hour, but it remains to be seen whether it has already done its damage.

All the more reason, then, for the U.S. to pre-empt the Turks by taking the decisive action against the PKK it has promised for too long. But the story of the PKK's resurgence should also remind us of the dangers of premature declarations of victory against terrorist groups, especially when such declarations foster the illusion that you can finally come home. Against this kind of enemy, there are no final victories, and no true homecomings, and no real alternatives other than to keep on fighting.

Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.

27621  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 23, 2007, 09:01:56 AM
GM makes my point on the doggie drama, a subject with which I am done.  Last word yours Rog  smiley
27622  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: My Century Ride on: October 23, 2007, 08:45:21 AM
I am impressed.
27623  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Gathering! Fighters thread on: October 23, 2007, 08:44:34 AM
You may have a different impression when dealing with some of the Euros who have been researching and playing with it for a while  smiley
27624  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Road Rage cop kills on: October 23, 2007, 08:42:39 AM
'NY Times

A New York City police officer turned himself in to colleagues on the street yesterday and said he might have shot and killed another driver in a predawn road-rage encounter in Upper Manhattan on Sunday, the authorities said.

Jayson Tirado with his daughter, Jaylene, now 4.

The officer, Sean Sawyer, 34, approached a police radio car around 1 a.m. near Central Park, said he had chest pains and requested an ambulance. He then told the sergeant and an officer in the radio car that he believed he had been involved in a shooting while he was off-duty in East Harlem about 19 hours earlier in which a man was killed, the authorities said.

The road-rage shooting was similar to many such confrontations: The mundane discourtesy of jockeying for position while trying to exit off a busy highway led to an angry exchange of words from car window to car window. It was after 5 a.m., and the victim and his two passengers had been drinking, the police said.

But this argument, which started on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive, did not end with shouts. Instead, it appears that the two drivers took turns chasing each other for several blocks after they exited in East Harlem, the police said.

One of the passengers in the victim’s car told investigators that the driver who died, Jayson Tirado, 25, raised his hand, pointed a finger at the officer and said something about “Mr. Ruger,” apparently referring to a make of semiautomatic handgun.

At that point, the officer is believed to have opened fire with his 9-millimeter mini-Glock handgun, the police said.

Up to three shots were fired, the police said. Mr. Tirado was hit once as the cars idled at 117th Street and First Avenue, but he managed to continue driving for about three blocks. He then stopped at 120th Street, and paramedics took him to Harlem Hospital Center, where he died.

Mr. Tirado’s two passengers, Jason Batista, 21, and Anthony Mencia, 23, said in interviews yesterday evening that the other driver did not identify himself as an officer before opening fire.

Officer Sawyer worked undercover, the authorities said. He joined the Police Department in 2004 and had been working in the narcotics division in Queens.

He was held yesterday at the 25th Precinct station house in Harlem before being released about 8 p.m. Earlier in the day, a prosecutor visited the station house, and officials were trying to determine whether to charge Officer Sawyer with a crime and whether he had acted in self defense, according to the authorities.

The officer was suspended from duty without pay and stripped of his gun and badge, said Stephen C. Worth, a lawyer for the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. He could face charges related to the shooting itself, and he may face departmental discipline, possibly for leaving the scene, officials said.

Though the officer was not arrested, the case could go before a grand jury. But a spokesman for Robert M. Morgenthau, the Manhattan district attorney, declined to comment about whether the case would be presented to one.

After the shooting, Officer Sawyer went home. Then he saw the news later on Sunday and learned that someone had been shot and killed, said a person with direct knowledge of the officer’s account. The officer started “reaching out to people and ultimately turns himself in,” the person said.

Mr. Tirado was described as a physically slight man who was focused on raising his 4-year-old daughter, earning money by fixing up cars and doing other odd jobs. The news that he was shot by a police officer who fled the scene drew expressions of surprise and anger from friends and relatives.

Mr. Tirado’s mother, Irene, 54, stood in the doorway of her seventh-floor apartment in the Jacob Riis Houses, a public housing complex in the East Village, and said that her son was shot and left to die.

“Now, I find out it was a police officer,” she said, clutching photos of Mr. Tirado as she cried.

The confrontation unfolded on the southbound Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive. About 5 a.m. on Sunday, a 27-year-old motorcyclist hit a light pole and was killed as he tried to switch lanes at 117th Street, the police said. All southbound traffic was then diverted from the drive.

Among those forced to exit were Mr. Tirado, driving a Honda Civic, and Officer Sawyer, in a yellow Nissan Xterra. They yelled at each other as they maneuvered at the 116th Street exit; Mr. Tirado was not letting the Nissan sport utility vehicle exit, the police said. “That is where this dispute starts,” one law enforcement official said.

Officer Sawyer, who had finished his shift at 7 p.m. on Saturday and was not due back to work until today, was alone in the Xterra, the police said. Mr. Tirado had two passengers in the Civic, the police said.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said that Mr. Tirado and his passengers “had been drinking.” In fact, he said, “there was one who stated that he was in such a state that he did not remember any of the events that happened.”
Officer Sawyer followed Mr. Tirado west on 116th Street, where more words were exchanged, one investigator said. The officer, at one point, apparently sped ahead of Mr. Tirado, who might have chased him down again, the investigator said.

Both vehicles eventually turned right onto northbound First Avenue. There, Mr. Tirado cut in front of the officer’s Nissan and hit his brakes. The officer swerved slightly to the right, and both cars came to a stop at about 117th Street, the police said.

The police said that one of Mr. Tirado’s passengers, in an interview, said that Mr. Tirado turned as if reaching behind his seat and made the Ruger remark. He then aimed his fingers in the shape of a gun, the police said. No gun was found, one investigator said.

Officials said that Mr. Tirado’s precise words about the Ruger were unclear. One official said that Mr. Tirado said, “I have a new Ruger for you,” before reaching back and raising his arm with his index finger and thumb in the shape of a gun.

It was unclear yesterday if the officer had been drinking or where he had been between the end of his shift on Saturday night and the shooting on Sunday.

Mr. Batista, one of the men in Mr. Tirado’s car, said that as Mr. Tirado exited the F.D.R. Drive, the Nissan tried to pull in front of them, but that Mr. Tirado did not let that happen. Then, at Pleasant Avenue, the Nissan’s driver pulled up to the driver’s side of the Honda, threatened the men and sped away.

He said the Nissan approached the Honda again at First Avenue and 117th Street and fired three shots through the back passenger side window of the Honda. The shots missed Mr. Batista, who was in the back seat, but hit Mr. Tirado. Mr. Mencia, the other passenger, was asleep in the front seat, Mr. Batista said.

“A minute,” Mr. Batista said. “In a minute all that happened, from getting off the exit to having my man shot in my hands.”

Nearly 19 hours later, at about 1 a.m. yesterday, Officer Sawyer walked up to two police officers from a housing unit who were near his home — a sergeant and a police officer in a car at Central Park West and 102nd Street — and said he was feeling some chest pains and wanted an ambulance, the police said.

The man identified himself as a police officer and he said he believed he had been involved in a shooting in which someone was killed, the authorities said. He gave the sergeant his mini-Glock. Officer Sawyer said he was giving them a gun used in the shooting, saying, “This is the gun,” said a law enforcement official. An ambulance arrived and took the officer to the hospital.

Late yesterday, four detectives removed a cardboard box from the officer’s apartment building.

Officer Sawyer was described by the person with knowledge of his account as married and the father of two sons. That person said he believed that Officer Sawyer had not been involved in an on-duty shooting. He is a born-again Christian, said a relative, who spoke outside the officer’s home in Upper Manhattan.

“He didn’t seem like he was a violent type; I’m shocked,” said Sonia Liberato, a neighbor who said that Officer Sawyer had lived in the area for several years. “He’s really good with the kids,” Ms. Liberato said.
27625  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: October 20, 2007, 08:48:36 AM
Vocabulary of War
By David Horowitz | 10/19/2007

The Left is up in arms over the effort to hold an Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week on American college campuses. The goal of the Week is to alert Americans to the threat from Islamo-Fascism and to focus attention on the violent oppression of Muslim women under theocracies in Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan and other Islamic states. It has been attacked as “Islamophobic” and “racist” by the Muslim Students Association, the Revolutionary Communist Party, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and FoxNews Channel’s Alan Colmes. Is this not puzzling? Why would the left – which claims to be anti-fascist, anti-sexist and progressive -- oppose Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week rather than support it? Why isn’t the left outraged by the genital mutilation of women in countries such as Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, or the sanctioning of wife-beating under Islamic law in Pakistan and other Islamic states? Across America, Women’s Studies programs will teach students about the oppression of women in Peoria and Ann Arbor but not in Teheran or Riyadh. Why not?
Why isn’t the left appalled by the jihad – the holy war that has been declared against the West, and by the sanctifying of murderers as holy “martyrs” when Muslim terrorists kill innocent Americans, Christians and Jews? Perhaps it is because the left is engaged in its own jihad or holy war – and against the same targets: the Great Satan, America, and the little one in the Middle East.
As the left’s response shows, it is not only indifferent to the issues of Islamic terror and oppression, which the campus protest hopes to discuss, it is ready to declare war on anyone who wants to raise them.
We are all familiar with the way the left wages its political wars. If someone happens to disagree with its position on racial issues –if one believes, for example, that government enforced racial preferences are misguided or immoral –the left will denounce that person as a “racist.” In our culture, this is the moral equivalent of a bullet in the head. If the president of Harvard cites scientific data that women have different aptitudes for mathematics (lower) and verbal subjects (higher) than men, the left will denounce him as a “sexist,” another cultural bullet in the head. If a person believes that children should not be instructed about sex in public schools at the kindergarten level, the left will denounce her as a “homophobe” – one more mortal blow.
And, so, if students attempt to discuss the holy war that Muslim fascists have declared against the West, the left can be expected to denounce them as Islamophobes, and bigots too. To make the point, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee will send threatening letters to 100 university presidents across the country urging them to deny a platform to students who are practicing “hate speech.” And liberal TV anchors will defend the witch-hunt.
Here is an excerpt from an exchange that took place between FoxNews Channel anchor Alan Colmes and myself, over my efforts to organize Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week:
Alan Colmes: “The words, the phrase ‘Islamo-fascism’ is hate speech. It equates an entire religion with fascism. That’s what people object to. It conflates the two, and it’s wrong.” In other words, students can’t even hold a discussion about “Islamo-Fascism” because the idea itself is hateful, is forbidden.
This argument clearly doesn’t make sense. Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week is explicitly designed to raise public awareness about the oppression of Muslim women by Islamic radicals who abuse them. How can that be equating all Muslims with oppressors? The term “Islamo-Fascism” was itself coined by moderate Muslims in Algeria who were being slaughtered in the tens of thousands by Islamic radicals bent on jihad. How does using a term invented by Muslims to describe their oppressors equate all Muslims with the fascists?
Does the term “Italian Fascism” equate all Italians with fascism? Or does it just identify those Italians who were followers of Mussolini? Is the term “Italian Fascism” hate speech? What about the term “white racism?” By Colmes’ logic, such a term equates an entire race– including Alan Colmes – with racism, and is therefore hate speech.
Obviously, the attacks on Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week by liberals such as Colmes and radicals such as the Revolutionary Communist Party and the Muslim Students Association are based on reasoning that is absurd. Their only logic is emotional, and the character of that emotion is hatred -- hatred for those who want to raise awareness of the threats we face from radical Islam. This hatred has only one purpose, which is to put a metaphorical bullet in the head of those who oppose the jihad. The purpose is to silence them.
David Horowitz is the author of numerous books including an autobiography, Radical Son, which has been described as “the first great autobiography of his generation.” It chronicles his odyssey from radical activism in the ‘60s to his current position as the head of the David Horowitz Freedom Center and who one journalist has called "the left's most articulate nemesis." His book, The Art of Political War was described by White House political strategist Karl Rove as “The perfect guide to winning on the political battlefield.” Left Illusions is an anthology of 40 years of his writings. His latest books are The Professors, which documents the debasement of the academic curriculum by tenured leftists, The Shadow Party, which describes the radical left's control of the Democratic Party's electoral machine and Indoctrination U., which is an in-depth look at how indoctrination has taken the place of education in today's college classrooms.
“If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.” - Winston Churchill
27626  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Gathering! Fighters thread on: October 20, 2007, 08:28:26 AM
At the Swiss Gathering shield & stick has been done.  A goodly number of Euros play with WMA so this was very interesting to see.  I think there is a thread in this forum about WMA.
27627  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: October 20, 2007, 08:23:57 AM

Tony Blair: Iran extremism like rise of 1930s fascism

Helen Nugent
Islamist extremism is similar to “rising fascism in the 1920s and 1930s”, Tony Blair said last night in his first major speech since leaving office.

At a prestigious charity dinner in New York, the former Prime Minister said that public figures who blamed the rise of fundamentalism on the policies of the West were "mistaken".

He told the audience, which included New York governor Eliot Spitzer and mayor Michael Bloomberg, that Iran was the biggest exporter of the ideology, and that the Islamic republic was prepared to "back and finance terror" to support it.

“Out there in the Middle East, we’ve seen... the ideology driving this extremism and terror is not exhausted. On the contrary it believes it can and will exhaust us first," he said.

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“Analogies with the past are never properly accurate, and analogies especially with the rising fascism can be easily misleading but, in pure chronology, I sometimes wonder if we’re not in the 1920s or 1930s again.

“This ideology now has a state, Iran, that is prepared to back and finance terror in the pursuit of destabilising countries whose people wish to live in peace.”

He added: “There is a tendency even now, even in some of our own circles, to believe that they are as they are because we have provoked them and if we left them alone they would leave us alone.

“I fear this is mistaken. They have no intention of leaving us alone.

“They have made their choice and leave us with only one to make - to be forced into retreat or to exhibit even greater determination and belief in standing up for our values than they do in standing up for their’s.”

Mr Blair, who represents the Quartet of the US, Europe, Russia and the United Nations on the Middle East, was speaking at the 62nd annual Alfred E Smith Memorial Foundation dinner at the Waldorf Astoria hotel.

Mr Blair went on: “I said straight after the attack of September 2001 that this was not an attack on America but on all of us. That Britain’s duty was to be shoulder to shoulder with you in confronting it. I meant it then and I mean it now.”

He added: “America and Europe should not be divided, we should stand up together.

“The values we share are as vital and true and, above all, needed today as they have been at any time in the last 100 years.”

Mr Blair received three standing ovations during the evening.

Earlier, the former Prime Minister said: “Out of this region the Middle East has been exported a deadly ideology based on a perversion of the proper faith of Islam but nonetheless articulated with demonic skill playing on the fears and grievances of Muslims everywhere.

“It did not originate from the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians, of course, far from it. But this dispute is used to great effect as a means of dividing people, sowing seeds of hatred and sectarianism.

“The impact of this global ideology is now no longer felt simply in the terrorism that afflicts Lebanon or Iran or Palestine. It is there also now in Pakistan, Afghanistan, in India, of course in Europe, in Madrid and London, and in the series of failed attempts to create terror across our continent.

“And here in New York you felt it in the thousands who died and who still mourn their lost ones.”

On several occasions the dinner chairman said he would have liked to see Mr Blair run for US president in 2008.

Referring to the Middle East, Mr Blair said: “The challenge is global, therefore our response must be global.

“Either the argument will be as our enemies want it framed as Islam versus the west. Or it will be as we want it framed as moderates of whatever faith, colour or race against extremism however it manifests itself.”

The dinner, which raises millions of pounds for hospitals, nursing homes and charitable agencies, is held in honour of Al Smith, the former governor of New York who was the first Catholic to be nominated by a major political party to run for US president.

Although unsuccessful, many historians believe the presidential bid paved the way for the candidacy of President John F Kennedy.
27628  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 20, 2007, 08:23:00 AM
"But I assume you agree that with a cop present, refusal to surrender the dog was not an option."

My question is why a policeman would be there at all?  ED broke her contract with the Agency, but why does this give the agency the right, without a court ruling on the merits, to take a dog from someone who was not party to the contract?  Why would the court compel specific performance as vs. pay damages? etc etc etc. 

Anyone, for me this is all much ado about nothing.  Perhaps it is ED's rather maternal instincts coming out of the closet? cheesy

Back to the subject matter of this thread:

Reid letter sells for $2.1 million on eBay
Limbaugh chastises senator for attempting to 'horn in' on charity effort
Posted: October 19, 2007
2:20 p.m. Eastern

© 2007

A final eBay bid of $2.11 million secured a letter from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that demanded an apology from radio talk host Rush Limbaugh over his "phony soldiers" comment.
On his show today, Limbaugh announced the winning bidder was Betty Casey, a noted philanthropist and trustee of the Eugene B. Casey Foundation in Gaithersburg, Md.
It was the largest bid ever in an eBay charity auction, breaking the $800,000 mark paid for a Harley Davidson motorcycle bearing the signature of "Tonight" show host Jay Leno.
"The Eugene B. Casey Foundation believes freedom of speech is a basic right of every citizen of this country," the foundation said in a statement on the auction. "Their purchase of the smear letter was to demonstrate their belief in this right, and to support Rush Limbaugh, his views, and his continued education of us."
Meanwhile, Limbaugh chastised Reid for taking credit for the money raised by the letter during comments to colleagues today on the Senate floor posted by
Reid is trying to "horn in" on the effort, said Limbaugh, who pointed out the Nevada Democrat has not apologized for accusing him of smearing troops who opposed the Iraq war.
"Now he has the audacity to climb aboard this, praising the effort, saying he never knew it would get this kind of money," Limbaugh said.
Directing his comments to Reid, Limbaugh said, "It wasn't your letter that raised this money. It was your abuse of power that is responsible for raising this money."
If it were any other letter by Reid, he said, "people wouldn't pay a dime for it."
"This one represents an abuse of power by a U.S. senator, who after besmirching me by name on the Senate floor, gets a hold of my syndicate partner, asking him to confer with me about something he thought improper," said Limbaugh.
'That is why your letter is historic," he continued. It's "a full fledged, undeniable, 100 percent abuse of power."
(Story continues below)
Limbaugh announced last week he would sell the original letter addressed to the head of Clear Channel Communications in order to benefit the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, a charity offering financial assistance to the children of Marines and federal law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
The No. 1-rated talk host said he wouldmatch the winning bid, and he challenged each of the 41 Democratic senators who signed the letter to match it as well.
Limbaugh said the winning bidder, Casey, has been a listener of his program since its inception.
"We cannot thank her enough for her support of this," Limbaugh said. "I am honored and proud and happy to be matching her $2,100,100."
Reid claimed Limbaugh's use of the phrase "phony soldiers" was an attack on all U.S. troops who oppose the war in Iraq. However, a transcript from Limbaugh's Sept. 26 show suggests the "phony soldiers" remark specifically addressed the case of Jesse MacBeth, an anti-war activist who claimed to have witnessed atrocities as a Purple Heart recipient in the Army Rangers. MacBeth never served in Iraq and was expelled from the military after 44 days in uniform.
The message on the letter's eBay listing said: "This historic document may well represent the first time in the history of America that this large a group of U.S. senators attempted to demonize a private citizen by lying about his views. As such, it is a priceless memento of the folly of Harry Reid and his 40 senatorial co-signers. BID NOW!"
Limbaugh, noting he serves on the board of the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, said he would bear all costs of the auction: "Every dollar of your winning bid will go to this charity, which has to date distributed over $29 million."
Clear Channel Chief Executive Officer Mark P. Mays responded to Reid's letter with a defense of Limbaugh's right to express his opinions openly on the airwaves.
Many elected officials, mostly Democrats, expressed their displeasure with talk radio following the defeat of what President Bush called his "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" legislation – a plan characterized by many talkers as "amnesty." There were a number of calls for reinstating the Fairness Doctrine – which has also been called the "Hush Rush" bill.
As WND reported, another Democratic leader, Rep. Henry Waxman of California, angrily denied a report claiming he's investigating Limbaugh and other conservative radio talk-show hosts, but the magazine which made the allegation is not issuing any retraction.
As WND reported, one radio station in Oregon decided to "hush Rush" for a day and replace Limbaugh's talk program with music after receiving some requests from local listeners.

27629  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Islamismo radical y España on: October 19, 2007, 07:37:34 AM


Publicado el 21.11.2004 12:08
Por Sebastián Vivar Rodríguez


Caminaba por la Rambla del Raval (Barcelona) y lo vi claro:
"La verdad no se casa con nadie" (refrán español)

Nosotros asesinamos a 6 millones de judíos, para acabar importando 20 millones de musulmanes por lo común integristas.
¿Qué no es posible generalizar? Bien, en vista de como nos han ido las cosas yo creo que sí se puede generalizar. ¿Qué si hay excepciones? De acuerdo… pero son excepciones.
Para el resto, es decir, en general debe decirse que en Auschwitz quemamos la cultura, la inteligencia y la capacidad de crear riqueza ; quemamos al pueblo del mundo, el que se autoproclama el elegido de Dios. Porque es el pueblo que ha proporcionado a la Humanidad las mayores mentes, capaces de cambiar el rumbo de la historia, (Cristo , Marx , Einstein , Freud), y grandes momentos de progreso y bienestar.
Y es preciso decir también que el resultado de relajar fronteras y del relativismo cultural y de valores bajo el absurdo pretexto de la tolerancia han sido estos 20 millones de musulmanes, a menudo analfabetos y fanáticos que Europa ha dejado entrar y que en el mejor de los supuestos están, como decía, en esta Rambla del  Raval, expresión máxima del tercer mundo y del gueto, y que en el peor de los casos preparan atentados como el de Manhattan o el de Madrid , en los pisos de protección oficial que les proporcionamos día a día.

Hemos cambiado a la cultura, por el fanatismo la capacidad de crear riqueza, por la voluntad de destruirla . A la inteligencia, por la superstición.
Hemos cambiado el instinto de superación de los judíos,- que ni en las peores condiciones imaginables no se han cansado -nunca- de querer un mundo mejor en paz, por la pulsión suicida de Leganés. Los diamantes como riqueza portátil para la próxima vez que deban huir, por las piedras palestinas contra cualquier intento de paz.
 Hemos cambiado el orgullo de sobrevivir, por la obsesión fanática por morir , y de paso matarnos a nosotros y a nuestros hijos. ¡Que error que hemos cometido!
Sebastián Vivar Rodríguez
27630  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: October 19, 2007, 07:35:38 AM,2933,303417,00.html

Gun Safety
A student at Hamline University in Minnesota has been suspended and ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation for advocating the carrying of legal concealed weapons on campus. reports Troy Scheffler made the case in an e-mail to a school official that licensed gun owners could stop or prevent the kind of violence that struck Virginia Tech earlier this year. He pointed out that research has indicated the possibility of armed resistance discourages potential criminals. And he noted that many Virginia Tech students have said the massacre there would not have happened if the school had not banned concealed weapons.
But even though the school has a policy that guarantees students will be free to discuss all questions of interest and express their opinions openly, the dean of students says Scheffler's e-mail was deemed to be threatening. Scheffler was placed on interim suspension, which will only be lifted after he agrees to a psychological evaluation.
27631  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: October 19, 2007, 07:32:52 AM

"They define a republic to be a government of laws, and not
of men."

-- John Adams (Novanglus  No. 7, 6 March 1775)

Reference: Papers of John Adams, Taylor, ed., vol. 2 (314)
27632  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crafty Dog seminars in October: on: October 19, 2007, 12:06:48 AM
Dino tells me we will pick you up before/after getting me at the airport.  Tres cool.  cool
27633  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Gathering! Fighters thread on: October 19, 2007, 12:05:21 AM
I leave in the AM for Manassas VA.  I may not have online access while there.  If not, I will answer this early next week.
27634  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: October 19, 2007, 12:02:44 AM
Busy, busy, busy.  After four days in Mexico City last weekend, I leave in the AM for three days in Manassas VA.
27635  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: October 19, 2007, 12:02:08 AM
Busy, busy, busy.  After four days in Mexico City last weekend, I leave in the AM for three days in Manassas VA.
27636  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 19, 2007, 12:00:00 AM
Why would a cop accompany the agency to enforce a civil contract?!?  Does this make any sense Rog?
27637  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: October 18, 2007, 11:54:21 PM
To make them operational reqjuires Moscow's agreement though , , WTF?
27638  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: October 18, 2007, 11:44:23 PM
Feds Recommend Closing Saudi School in Va.

October 18, 2007 - 12:43am

Associated Press Writer

McLEAN, Va. (AP) - A private Islamic school supported by the Saudi government should be shut down until the U.S. government can ensure the school is not fostering radical Islam, a federal panel recommends.
In a report released Thursday, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom broadly criticized what it calls a lack of religious freedom in Saudi society and promotion of religious extremism at Saudi schools.
Particular criticism is leveled at the Islamic Saudi Academy, a private school serving nearly 1,000 students in grades K-12 at two campuses in northern Virginia's Fairfax County.

The commission's report says the academy hews closely to the curriculum used at Saudi schools, which they criticize for promoting hatred of and intolerance against Jews, Christians and Shiite Muslims.

"Significant concerns remain about whether what is being taught at the ISA promotes religious intolerance and may adversely affect the interests of the United States," the report states.

The commission, a creation of Congress, has no power to implement policy on its own. Instead, it makes recommendations to other agencies.
The commission does not offer specific criticism of the academy's teachings beyond its concerns that it too closely mimics a typical Saudi education.

The report recommends that the State Department prevail on the Saudi government to shut the school down until the school's textbooks can be reviewed and procedures are put in place to ensure the school's independence form the Saudi Embassy.

Messages left Wednesday with the State Department and the Saudi Embassy were not immediately returned.

Several advocacy groups in recent years have cited examples of inflammatory statements in religious textbooks in Saudi Arabia, including claims that a ninth-grade textbook reads that the hour of judgment will not come "until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them."
Saudi officials said they have worked in recent years to reform the textbooks and the curriculum, but critics say progress has been insufficient.

The school's director-general, Abdalla I. Al-Shabnan, said Wednesday that he had not seen the report. But he said the academy has adjusted its curriculum in recent years and removed some of the inflammatory language that had been included in the Saudi text. The school's curriculum may now serve as a model for the Saudi government to use in continuing its reform of Saudi schools, he said.

"There is nothing in our curriculum against any religion," Al-Shabnan said.
He also said he is willing to show the school's curriculum and textbooks to anybody who wants to see them, and he expressed disappointment that the commission did not request materials directly from the school.
"We have an open policy," he said.

He also pointed out that many of the school's teachers are Christian and Jewish.

The commission based its findings in part on a the work of a delegation that traveled to Saudi Arabia this year. The commission asked embassy officials to review the textbooks used in Saudi schools generally and at the Islamic Saudi Academy specifically but did not receive a response.
Commission spokeswoman Judith Ingram said the commission did not request to speak to academy officials because that went beyond the commission's mandate.

The report also criticizes the school's administrative structure, saying it is little more than an offshoot of the Saudi Embassy, with the Saudi ambassador to the United States serving as chairman of the school's board of directors. The structure "raises serious concerns about whether it is in violation of a U.S. law restricting the activities of foreign embassies."
After the Sept. 11 attacks, critics questioned the nature of the religious education at the Saudi academy. The school again found itself in the spotlight in 2005, when a former class valedictorian, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, was charged with joining al-Qaida while attending college in Saudi Arabia and plotting to assassinate President Bush.
Abu Ali was convicted in federal court and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He is appealing his conviction.

(Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
27639  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 18, 2007, 08:45:41 AM
The New Ways We Fight Cancer
October 18, 2007; Page A17

This week, the National Cancer Institute, in conjunction with other organizations that track cancers, reported that the death rate from cancer declined from 2002-2004 by an average of 2.1% per year. This is an improvement over the 1.1% annual declines from 1993-2002 and is very good news indeed. Each 1% decline represents 5,000 people living rather than dying, and, of course, this figure is compounded each year.

While some part of the declining death rate from cancer is the consequence of screening, much is the result of greatly improved treatments. And we believe that the successes achieved to date are only the modest beginning of a revolution in the research into and treatment of cancer.

During the last half of the 20th century, almost all treatments of cancers involved forms of chemotherapy in which cancerous and normal tissues were bombarded with nonselective cytoxic drugs. These drugs killed all cells, healthy as well as malignant. Worse, they did not kill all cancer cells, so the cancer progressed -- leading to the pessimism dominant in people's minds today, a reflection of years of articles and opinion pieces in the popular press expressing the view that "the war on cancer" has been waged incorrectly, if not lost.

Now, however, new therapeutic modes are in play, based on better understandings of cancers and great advances in technologies. Scientists are at last on the right track and making progress along three fronts. First, many cancers will be turned into chronic illnesses, each treated with far less toxic drugs with far fewer and less severe side effects, so that a patient can live a normal life span with a near normal quality of life. (A loose analogy would be to diabetics.) These treatments are probably closer to being realized than most people would guess.

Second, the prevention of entire types of cancers will occur through vaccinations, an approach already in clinical use. Third, cancers already growing in individuals will be eradicated. Here is just a partial list of the new approaches:

• Vaccines. Today, a newly developed vaccine is being administered to females, ages 11-26, that prevents cervical cancer (and anal cancer). The vaccine targets a certain virus, human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the cause of most cervical cancers. (Cervical cancer kills 4,000 women annually in the U.S., and 500,000 world-wide.) It is thought that infection with viruses or bacteria play a role in the development of other cancers, e.g., lymphoma and stomach cancer, and research is focused on vaccines and antibiotics to prevent these, and to eradicate those cancers already in existence in individuals.

Another area of vaccine research is Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, which causes most liver cancer in the Western world, and Hepatitis B virus (HBV), which causes liver cancer in Asia. (It should be noted that only in a very small percentage of people who have the infections do the viruses cause liver cancer.) Researchers are looking into the possible implications for humans of laboratory results which show that mammary (breast) cancer can be caused in mice by introduction of a virus, a virus which is normally passed from one mouse to another.

In the past, success in stimulating the human immune system to attack cancer cells has been elusive. But three novel research projects are underway, aimed at highly lethal metastatic melanoma. The first approach involves T cells (a group of white blood cells that play a critical role in immunity) which have a particular receptor on their surface known as "TCR" that activates the immune system. The process extracts T cells from a patient's blood sample and, in a laboratory, activates their TCR to turn the T cells into killers of the patient's melanoma cells, and not healthy cells, when reinjected into the patient.

The second approach involves genetic modification of a patient's white blood cells in a laboratory. The cells then produce a protein that enables the modified white cells to be detected and counted in tumors anywhere and everywhere in the patient's body using a noninvasive PET scan, a sophisticated X-ray technology.

In the third method, certain T cells which are derived from blood-forming stem cells are genetically manipulated to target and attack melanoma cells. These killer cells replicate in the body in response to the presence of melanoma tumors and attack the cancerous cells -- and because stem cells are long-lived, a large supply of the cancer-killing cells develop in the patient's body for as long as they are needed, i.e., as long as there are melanoma cells there.

- Epigenetics. Cancers are caused by mutations in DNA and abnormal control of genetic expressions. Epigenetic therapy involves correcting and reversing abnormal cancer-causing gene expressions through the use of drugs designed to target specific proteins involved in gene control.

In 1989, a drug removing the abnormal protein causing acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) was first successfully used. Since then, the cure rate for APL has gone to 90% and 50,000 lives have been saved world-wide. In the past three years the FDA has approved three epigenetic drugs that can change the behavior of malignant genes by acting on the proteins that control them. They act on cutaneous lymphoma, acute leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome (a common form of blood cancer).

The most difficult-to-treat cancers involve many mutations involving many gene "switches" that turn on or off the flow of information passed from one gene to another. In our high-speed information age, we are moving to the point where we can keep up with them, and thus "edit" and control them in specific, selective ways.

• Targeted therapies. The use of personalized malignant gene-expression profiles has advanced from research to therapy in patients, e.g., in breast cancer. Research is advancing in targeting specific mutations in some lymphomas, lung cancer and leukemia.

Progress is also well underway in learning to control abnormal genes which signal normal genes to aid in the nurturing of cancers or in metastases of cancers. For example, doctors now have drugs that are able to curtail the production of new blood vessels which cancer cells need and cause to be produced, thus depriving the cancers of nourishment, thereby killing them. Drugs have been designed to block abnormal signals from an individual patient's cancer, and are in use or development.

Biomarkers to detect ongoing cancers are another fruitful area of research. An example of a biomarker now being used clinically is an overabundance of a protein (called HER-2 neu) which is associated with many breast cancers. Such personalized molecular profiles lead to the use of specific, highly selective treatments with minimal toxicity.

• Cancer "stem cells." Intensive, continuing research has identified a type of cancer cells, found in small numbers, that are more capable of producing cancers and are more difficult to eradicate than ordinary cancer cells. In the last five years, knowledge has greatly advanced regarding how these types of cancer stem cells operate at the genetic level. Work is also well underway in the specific targeting, through the rapid expansion of computer data bases, of the genetic signatures of stem cells of different cancers, to inhibit or cancel their ability to communicate information that causes cancer growth, dormancy and metastasis.

This is but a very incomplete account of new and increasingly productive research in understanding and defeating cancers. In all, there is a 21st-century cancer treatment revolution unfolding. Defeating cancers involves incremental, time-consuming processes along many avenues -- and we are advancing on all of them.

The danger is that misconceived pessimism might result in a loss of popular moral support for the revolutionary new approaches to cancer research and treatment. This in turn could lead to diminishing private and governmental funds for research.

At the very least, pessimism about taming and ultimately eliminating cancers turns the minds of millions from what should be justified hope to needless despair.

Dr. Waxman, an oncologist, is professor of medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center and scientific director of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation. Mr. Gambino, who has a Ph. D. in philosophy, is professor emeritus at Queens College (CUNY).
27640  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: October 18, 2007, 08:40:07 AM
Dennis Baker's home security system includes three cameras that feed video to 42-inch screens in his living room and bedroom. But it was his pet parrot, he says, that alerted him to a burglar he shot and killed early Tuesday.
Also Online

Video: Homeowner Dennis Baker, accompanied by his parrots, talks about shooting the intruder

"Hello, hello," the parrot said, waking Mr. Baker from what he says was a deep sleep.

The 59-year-old locksmith keeps several pet birds in his northwest Dallas home, including a Mexican Red-headed parrot named Salvador. The bird says "hello" whenever he sees someone. When someone passed by a window about 2 a.m., Salvador squawked the greeting.

"It woke me up," Mr. Baker said. "I guess you could call him a stool pigeon."

Police say it appears that Mr. Baker was within his rights to shoot the burglar, but as is routine in such cases, they will turn the facts to a grand jury for review.

Mr. Baker killed 46-year-old John Woodson, whose criminal record includes charges of burglary, theft and possession of a controlled substance.

Tuesday's burglary, police say, was the fourth on Mr. Baker's property within a month. Investigators say preliminary information indicates Mr. Woodson may have been responsible for some or all of them.

Mr. Baker puts the number at five.

"I got hit five times this month. I have tools in my garage, my house and my van," Mr. Baker said. "They were coming here like they owned the place. I hate what happened, but somebody has to do what's necessary."

Mr. Baker runs a locksmith shop at the home in the 3600 block of Cortez Drive. A large safe sits on the porch. The door of the detached garage is off its hinges. He plans to fix the doors soon but has to replace some of the wood first.

Mr. Baker said he installed a video surveillance system after burglars targeted his home repeatedly. Thieves have taken $20,000 worth of locksmith equipment, saws and lawn gear, he said.

After the parrot woke him, Mr. Baker said, he got up and walked to the garage.
North of Love Field

"He was in the very back of the garage," Mr. Baker said of Mr. Woodson. "There were no lights on. The only thing I could do was see a silhouette, and as you saw in the video, he had his hands in his pockets when he came through here. I had no idea what he had."

The security video shows a man – presumably Mr. Woodson – with his hands in his pant pockets, casually walking around the perimeter of the garage and then inside.

Neither police nor Mr. Baker would give a detailed account of the confrontation that followed, and the cameras don't capture it. But police said Mr. Woodson didn't try to flee and that Mr. Baker shot him in his midsection.

The case is one of several in recent weeks in which a home or business owner has shot an intruder.

A West Dallas business owner fatally shot a suspected burglar on Sunday, the second time in three weeks that he has killed a prowler, police say.

Last week, the owner of Joe's Cleaners in Far East Dallas shot a man who tried to rob him at gunpoint.

Last month, a Mesquite business owner shot and wounded a suspected burglar after finding him with bolt cutters and copper cable taken from the building.

Musician Carter Albrecht was shot to death Sept. 3 after he tried to kick in a neighbor's back door during a drunken rage. The neighbor reportedly thought Mr. Albrecht was a burglar and fired a pistol high through the door as a warning, but struck 6-foot-4 Mr. Albrecht in the head.

Earlier this year, Texas lawmakers approved the Castle Law, which removes any obligation for a crime victim to retreat before responding with deadly force when faced with an intruder in his or her home, vehicle or business.

Despite the new law and the recent series of intruder shootings, Dallas police homicide Sgt. Larry Lewis said he would not describe them as a growing trend.

"We get them over the year from time to time," Sgt. Lewis said.

When police officers arrived at his home after the shooting, Mr. Baker said, Salvador began greeting them with his signature "hello."

"Sometimes he says 'hi,' but you can't get him to speak on cue," Mr. Baker said. "He has a mind of his own."

Mr. Baker said police officers are doing their jobs, but are overworked and understaffed. Dallas police recorded more than 14,400 residential burglaries last year.

"I will protect my property and my life," Mr. Baker said. "The fifth time is enough. It's not something you want to do, but you have to do.";
27641  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: October 18, 2007, 08:15:37 AM
"If there is a form of government, then, whose principle and
foundation is virtue, will not every sober man acknowledge it
better calculated to promote the general happiness than any
other form?"

-- John Adams (Thoughts on Government, 1776)

Reference: The Works of John Adams, Charles Adams, ed., 194.
27642  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: October 18, 2007, 08:14:39 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Emerging Turkish-Syrian Relations

The Turkish parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a government motion seeking a one-year authorization for multiple incursions into northern Iraq to root out Kurdish rebels. Earlier in the day, Syrian President Bashar al Assad, who is on a three-day trip to Turkey, backed Ankara's plan to conduct cross-border military operations in Iraq. At a press conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul, al Assad said, "Without a doubt, we support the decisions taken by the Turkish government against terrorism and we accept them as a legitimate right of Turkey."

At a time when Turkey is faced with opposition to its plans to send forces into Iraq from almost every quarter of the international community, Syria is the one state actor that has openly come out in support of Turkish plans. The only similar statement came from Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi -- the country's highest-ranking Sunni official -- who was in the Turkish capital the same day as al Assad. Al-Hashimi said it would be legal for Ankara to take whatever steps are necessary to preserve its national security should the Iraqi government fail to contain the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants.

Iraq, however, is not a polity in the traditional sense and al-Hashimi's comments reflect his partisan preferences rather than official Baghdad policy. Therefore the Syrian stance is unique and raises the question: Why is Damascus coming out so strongly in support of Ankara on this matter? A superficial explanation would be that the Syrians and the Turks share a common threat from Kurdish separatists in their respective countries. But that does not explain the larger context of the emerging Turkish-Syrian relationship, especially given that the two sides have had their share of bilateral problems (to put it mildly) over the PKK issue. In 1998, the Syrians expelled PKK chief Abdullah Ocalan, to whom they had been providing safe haven until the Turks threatened military action.

Bilateral relations between the two have come a long way since those days. In fact, in the last few years, there has been an unprecedented warming between the two countries. Al Assad's current visit to Turkey is his second in three years. In 2004, he became the first Syrian head of state to visit Turkey. In July 2007, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's chief foreign policy adviser, Ahmet Davutoglu, traveled to Damascus to encourage the al Assad government to play a constructive role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Al Assad's latest trip to Ankara comes on the heels of Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan's visit to Damascus last week, during which the Syrians were assured that Ankara would not facilitate any Israeli military action against Syria.

The Syrians were pleased to hear this in light of the Sept. 6 Israeli airstrike against a weapons facility near Syria's border with Turkey. Syria clearly needs good relations with Turkey because of its increasingly tense dealings with Israel, as well as with the United States. Just days ago, the Syrian president acknowledged that Ankara is acting as a mediator between Syria and Israel. Syria's situation is such that it can meaningfully deal with the Israelis only through Turkey.

Because of their ties to the Iranians, the Syrians have cut themselves off from the Arab states, especially those that have relations with Israel. Relations with Iran have also brought Syria closer to conflict with Israel. The Syrians need to offset the perception that they are a regional spoiler, and getting closer to the Turks could allow them to do so. Syria is taking note of the shift in Turkish behavior toward the United States, which works to its advantage. With Turkey adopting an anti-American stance, Damascus hopes to be able to leverage its budding ties to Ankara as a means of ending its isolation.

But Turkey does not attach the same degree of importance to its relations with Syria. The Turkish calculus is in fact very different. The Middle East is Turkey's main sphere of influence, and Syria is its immediate southern neighbor. It is therefore in Ankara's interest to see stability in Damascus, and playing the role of mediator between the Syrians and the Israelis helps it achieve this objective.

But this is not of immediate importance to the Turks. The single-most important item on Turkey's regional foreign policy agenda is the situation in Iraq and the ability of the PKK to use Iraqi Kurdish-controlled areas to pose a security threat to Turkey. Ankara will soon initiate military operations in northern Iraq, for which it has secured Syria's support. But beyond diplomatic support and possibly some level of tactical assistance on the ground, Syria has little to offer Turkey on the issue of Iraq or any other matter.

In short, the Syrians need the Turks more than the Turks need the Syrians. Turkey is also not about to help Syria at the cost of its relations with Israel. Syrian-Iranian relations are a major cause of concern for the Arabs, and the Turks very much value the influence they enjoy in Arab capitals. The downturn in U.S.-Turkish relations is also a temporary phenomenon, whereas the strain in Washington's ties with Damascus is much more chronic. For all these reasons, the warming of relations between Turkey and Syria is not likely to lead to a real strategic partnership between the two neighbors.

27643  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: October 18, 2007, 08:12:35 AM

Gen. Sanchez's Scream
He indicted everyone involved in Iraq, including the media and Congress.

Thursday, October 18, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Over the past weekend there were front-page accounts everywhere of Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez's description of the war in Iraq as a "nightmare." The New York Times led its story this way:

"In a sweeping indictment of the four-year effort in Iraq, the former top commander of American forces there called the Bush administration's handling of the war 'incompetent' and said the result was 'a nightmare with no end in sight.' " Gen. Sanchez said this last Friday to a gathering of reporters and editors in Washington who cover military affairs. It was a dramatic denunciation from the man who led U.S. forces in Iraq from 2003 to 2004.

On Monday my colleague John Fund wrote an item for the Journal editorial page's daily email newsletter, Political Diary, noting that most of the news reports of the speech had failed to note that Gen. Sanchez had also severely criticized the press's performance in Iraq. "For some of you," Gen. Sanchez said to the reporters, "the truth is of little to no value if it does not fit your own preconceived notions, biases and agendas."

By now I was curious to see what Gen. Sanchez actually did say. The full text is an indictment all right, of everyone connected to this war--the president, the press, Congress, the bureaucracy and maybe the country itself.

Gen. Sanchez was running the U.S. war effort in Iraq when the Abu Ghraib scandal blew up, though an investigation absolved him.
It's possible to dismiss some of what he says as over the top or to cavil with the particulars. One cannot really know how extensively Gen. Sanchez's views are shared across the officer corps. But there is a discomfiting, Cassandra-like quality to this speech. It is a scream of rage.

Whatever happens in Iraq, this country at some point will have to think seriously (if possible) about the war's effects on its politics and its institutions. Gen. Sanchez's scream is as good a place as any to start.

With elided excerpts, I'll summarize what he said. Body armor recommended.

• The media. "It seems that as long as you get a front-page story there is little or no regard for the 'collateral damage' you will cause. Personal reputations have no value and you report with total impunity and are rarely held accountable for unethical conduct. . . . You assume that you are correct and on the moral high ground."

"The speculative and often uninformed initial reporting that characterizes our media appears to be rapidly becoming the standard of the industry." "Tactically insignificant events have become strategic defeats." And: "The death knell of your ethics has been enabled by your parent organizations who have chosen to align themselves with political agendas. What is clear to me is that you are perpetuating the corrosive partisan politics that is destroying our country and killing our service members who are at war."

• The Bush administration. "When a nation goes to war it must bring to bear all elements of power in order to win. . . . [This] administration has failed to employ and synchronize its political, economic and military power . . . and they have definitely not communicated that reality to the American people."

• Congress and politics. "Since 2003, the politics of war have been characterized by partisanship as the Republican and Democratic parties struggled for power in Washington. . . . National efforts to date have been corrupted by partisan politics that have prevented us from devising effective, executable, supportable solutions. These partisan struggles have led to political decisions that endangered the lives of our sons and daughters on the battlefield. The unmistakable message was that political power had greater priority than our national security objectives."

• The bureaucracies. Gen. Sanchez argues that "unity of effort" was hampered by the absence of any coordinated authority over the war effort of the bureaucracies: "The Administration, Congress and the entire interagency, especially the Department of State, must shoulder the responsibility for this catastrophic failure."

"Clearly," he says, "mistakes have been made by the American military in its application of power. But even its greatest failures in this war can be linked to America's lack of commitment, priority and moral courage in this war effort. . . . America has not been fully committed to win this war."

He says leaving Iraq is not an option, and he has no doubt about the threat: "As a nation we must recognize that the enemy we face is committed to destroying our way of life."

In sum, what Gen. Sanchez is describing here is a nation that is at risk and is in a state of disunity. Does disunity matter? He is saying that in war, it does.

In politics, a degree of disunity is normal. But in our time, partisan disunity has become the norm. The purpose of politics now is to thwart, to stop.

We may have underestimated how corrosive our disunity has been on the troops in Iraq, and how deeply it has damaged us.

Those of us in politics--politicians, reporters, bureaucrats--are largely inured to all this, and we seem to have assumed that the system shares our infinite capacity for antipathy and tumult. But is this occupational toughness natural to politics, or is it cynicism? I don't think the soldiers or the American people see the difference.
Arguably it is the proper role of politics to intervene, to question. But during Vietnam and again now, we haven't been able to avoid simultaneously putting troops on the battlefield while fighting bitterly amongst ourselves at home for the length of the war.

The U.S. officer corps is aware of this. While no one is talking about a stab in the back, they may conclude that the home front and its institutions are unable to, or will not, protect their back.

One may ask: Will we ever want to do this again? Are we able to undertake military missions that prove difficult? Or is the projection of U.S. military power into the world an idea that now irreparably divides the American people? Before November 2008, we had better have some answers, from our presidential candidates and from ourselves.

Mr. Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. His column appears Thursdays in the Journal and on
27644  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 18, 2007, 08:11:37 AM
1133 GMT -- IRAQ -- The Iraqi government plans to award $1.1 billion in contracts to Iranian and Chinese companies to build two power plants in the country, The New York Times reported Oct. 18, citing Iraqi Electricity Minister Karim Wahid. He said the Iranian project would be built in Baghdad's Sadr City area and the Chinese project would be built in Wasit. Iran also has agreed to provide cheap electricity from its own grid to southern Iraq, and to build a large power plant essentially free of charge in an area between the two southern Shiite holy cities of Karbala and An Najaf, the Times reported.

27645  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: October 18, 2007, 08:10:14 AM
To me this reads like we just caved in big time, and then got sodomized by Putin in his statements while in Iran:

1149 GMT -- RUSSIA, UNITED STATES -- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Russian President Vladimir Putin during their recent meeting that the United States would be willing to delay operationalizing a missile defense system in Europe until Washington and Moscow have jointly validated that Iranian ballistic missiles posed a threat, the Financial Times reported Oct. 17, citing a Pentagon spokesman.

27646  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: October 18, 2007, 07:57:22 AM
Police face Mexican military, smugglers
Armed standoff along U.S. border
By Sara A. Carter and Kenneth Todd Ruiz, Staff Writers

Mexican soldiers and civilian smugglers had an armed standoff with nearly 30 U.S. law enforcement officials on the Rio Grande in Texas Monday afternoon, according to Texas police and the FBI.

Mexican military Humvees were towing what appeared to be thousands of pounds of marijuana across the border into the United States, said Chief Deputy Mike Doyal, of the Hudspeth County Sheriff's Department.

Mexican Army troops had several mounted machine guns on the ground more than 200 yards inside the U.S. border -- near Neely's Crossing, about 50 miles east of El Paso -- when Border Patrol agents called for backup. Hudspeth County deputies and Texas Highway patrol officers arrived shortly afterward, Doyal said.

"It's been so bred into everyone not to start an international incident with Mexico that it's been going on for years," Doyal said. "When you're up against mounted machine guns, what can you do? Who wants to pull the trigger first? Certainly not us."

An FBI spokeswoman confirmed the incident happened at 2:15 p.m. Pacific Time.

"Bad guys in three vehicles ended up on the border," said Andrea Simmons, a spokeswoman with the FBI's El Paso office. "People with Humvees, who appeared to be with the Mexican Army, were involved with the three vehicles in getting them back across."

Simmons said the FBI was not involved and referred inquiries to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  ICE did not return calls seeking comment.

Doyal said deputies captured one vehicle in the incident, a Cadillac Escalade reportedly stolen from El Paso, and found 1,477 pounds of marijuana inside. The Mexican soldiers set fire to one of the Humvees stuck in the river, he said.

Doyal's deputies faced a similar incident on Nov. 17, when agents from the Fort Hancock border patrol station in Texas called the sheriff's department for backup after confronting more than six fully armed men dressed in Mexican military uniforms. The men -- who were carrying machine guns and driving military vehicles -- were trying to bring more than three tons of marijuana across the Rio Grande, Doyal said.

Doyal said such incidents are common at Neely's Crossing, which is near Fort Hancock, Texas, and across from the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

"It happens quite often here," he said.

Deputies and border patrol agents are not equipped for combat, he added.

"Our government has to do something," he said. "It's not the immigrants coming over for jobs we're worried about. It's the smugglers, Mexican military and the national threat to our borders that we're worried about."

Citing a Jan. 15 story in the Daily Bulletin, Reps. David Dreier, R-Glendora, and Duncan Hunter, R-San Diego, last week asked the House Judiciary Committee, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the House Homeland Security Committee and the House International Relations Committee to investigate the incursions. The story focused on a Department of Homeland Security document reporting 216 incursions by Mexican soldiers during the past 10 years and a map with the seal of the president's Office of National Drug Control Policy, both of which were given to the newspaper.

Requests by Dreier, chairman of the House Rules Committee, and Hunter were made in jointly signed letters. 

On Wednesday, Chertoff played down the reports of border incursions by the Mexican military. He suggested many of the incursions could have been mistakes, blaming bad navigation by military personnel or attributing the incursions to criminals dressed in military garb.

Mexican officials last week denied any incursions made by their military.

But border agents interviewed over the past year have discussed confrontations those they believe to be Mexican military personnel.

"We're sitting ducks," said a border agent speaking on condition of anonymity. "The government has our hands tied."

- Sara A. Carter can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (909) 483-8552.

- Kenneth Todd Ruiz can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (909) 483-8555.
27647  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Parenting Issues on: October 18, 2007, 07:49:02 AM
Liberal Fascism continues , , ,

Birth Control Allowed at Maine Middle School

Published: October 18, 2007
PORTLAND, Me., Oct. 17 — The Portland school board on Wednesday approved a measure allowing middle-school students to gain access to prescription birth control medications without notifying parents.

The proposal, from the Portland Division of Public Health, calls for the independently operated health care center at King Middle School to provide a variety of services to students, including immunizations and physical checkups in addition to birth-control medications and counseling for sexually transmitted diseases, said Lisa Belanger, an administrator for Portland’s student health centers.

All but two members of the 12-person committee voted to approve the plan.

The school principal, Mike McCarthy, said about 5 of the school’s 500 students had identified themselves as being sexually active.

Health care professionals at the clinic advised the committee that the proposal was necessary in order for the clinic to serve students who were engaging in risky behavior.

The conference room at the Wednesday night meeting was packed with parents, students and television cameras as school board committee members discussed the issue and heard testimony from experts and residents.

“It has been shown, over and over again, that this does not increase sexual activity,” said Pat Patterson, the medical director of School-Based Health Centers.

Reaction was mixed.

“This is really a violation of parents’ rights,” Peter Doyle, a Portland resident, told the committee. “If there were a constitutional challenge, you guys would be at risk of a lawsuit.”

Others argued for approval.

“Not every child is getting the guidance needed to keep them safe,” said Richard Veilleux, who said his child attends King Middle School. “This is about giving kids who are sexually active the tools that they need.”

According to the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care, about 30 percent of the 1,700 school-based health centers in the United States provide birth control to students, Dr. Patterson said.

NY Times
27648  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 18, 2007, 07:47:05 AM
I'm not really following this Rog.  Are you saying that there should be a FD here so that the agency gets to respond to EG on her show?

Also, I'm not getting why the hairdresser and family gave up the dog.  Some third part comes to my door wanting my children's dog has got a serious problem.  What kind of parent coughs up their children's dog?  If the agency wants the dog, let them sue.

27649  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SEAL receives CMH on: October 17, 2007, 07:02:31 PM
First Navy MoH since Vietnam to go to SEAL

By Gidget Fuentes - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Oct 15, 2007 18:03:21 EDT
SAN DIEGO — Two years after his death in a harrowing firefight on a mountaintop in Afghanistan, Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a SEAL from Patchogue, N.Y., will receive the nation’s highest combat honor, Navy officials said.

A Navy spokeswoman confirmed Oct. 11 the decision by President Bush approving the posthumous award of the Medal of Honor, the first for the Navy for the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Murphy, 29, was leading a four-man reconnaissance and surveillance team during Operation Red Wing in Afghanistan’s rugged Hindu Kush mountains June 28, 2005, when the team was spotted by Taliban fighters. During the intense battle that followed, Murphy and two of his men — Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny Dietz and Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew Axelson — were killed. A fourth man, then-Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SEAL) Marcus Luttrell, was seriously wounded and knocked unconscious, but managed to escape. Luttrell was rescued days later.

Murphy was killed while phoning in for reinforcements. The tragedy continued when enemy fighters shot down one of the transport helicopters carrying the rescue force, killing eight more SEALs and eight Special Forces operators. The 11 SEALs killed marked the largest single-day loss of life for the tight-knit community.

Bush will present the Medal of Honor to Murphy’s parents, Daniel and Maureen, and his brother, John, on Oct. 22 at a 2:30 p.m. ceremony in the White House.

“We’re thrilled with the president’s announcement, and more importantly that there’s now a public recognition of what Mike’s family and friends have known about him from the very beginning,” Daniel Murphy said Oct. 11 by telephone from New York.

In addition to the Oval Office ceremony, the fallen SEAL will be honored at two other Washington events: the inclusion of his name on a wall at the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes at 11 a.m. Oct. 23, and the presentation of the Medal of Honor flag at the Navy Memorial at 6 p.m. Oct. 23. Additional ceremonies are planned next month at Calverton National Cemetery in eastern Long Island, where Murphy is buried, and on his birthday next year at the Patchogue post office that bears his name, his family said.

When he deployed overseas, Murphy carried a patch from New York Fire Department’s Engine Company 53 and Ladder Company 43, in Manhattan’s El Barrio neighborhood, “as a symbol of why he was there and what he was doing,” Daniel Murphy said.

“Michael felt that he was doing something important ... to root out, capture and kill those who were responsible for 9/11,” he added. “Michael understood the importance of his work.”

In mourning their son, the Murphy family has also celebrated his life. “What a man he grew up to be,” said Maureen Murphy, who called him “an American hero.”

To the Murphy family, the announcement of the Medal of Honor isn’t just a personal recognition. “It’s more than just about Michael,” his father said. “It’s about Michael and his team. Michael, first and foremost, was a team player.”

“Eleven SEALs who fought, died and sacrificed for one another,” he added. “There’s no higher calling.”

Life and death on Murphy’s ridge
The team was taking heavy fire in the close-quarters battle as Taliban fighters continued to close in, firing weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. At one point, Murphy took his mobile phone and “walked to open ground. He walked until he was more or less in the center, gunfire all around him, and he sat on a small rock and began punching in the numbers to HQ,” according to Luttrell, the surviving SEAL, who wrote a book called “Lone Survivor.”

“I could hear him talking,” Luttrell wrote. “My men are taking heavy fire ... we’re getting picked apart. My guys are dying out here ... we need help.

“And right then Mikey took a bullet straight in the back. I saw the blood spurt from his chest. He slumped forward, dropping his phone and his rifle. But then he braced himself, grabbed them both, sat upright again, and once more put the phone to his ear.”

Then, Luttrell heard Murphy say, “Roger that, sir. Thank you.” The lieutenant continued to train fire on the enemy fighters.

“Only I knew what Mikey had done. He’d understood we had only one realistic chance, and that was to call in help,” Luttrell wrote. “Knowing the risk, understanding the danger, in the full knowledge the phone call could cost him his life, Lieutenant Michael Patrick Murphy, son of Maureen, fiancé of the beautiful Heather, walked out into the firestorm.

“His objective was clear: to make one last valiant attempt to save his two teammates.”

Not long after the call, Murphy was shot again, screaming for Luttrell to help him, but Luttrell, also hit and wounded, couldn’t reach him. “There was nothing I could do except die with him,” he wrote.

Murphy’s actions didn’t surprise those who knew him.

That, despite his wounds, he made that call “and at the end of the call to say, ‘Thank you,’ and hang up, and continue the fight ... really exemplifies the type of person that he was,” said Sean, a lieutenant commander who was the naval special warfare task unit leader with SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1, a Pearl Harbor, Hawaii-based unit. Naval Special Warfare Command asked to withhold his full name.

“Murph,” as others called him, was “a warrior and [was devoted] to his men,” Sean said. The Medal of Honor “draws attention to the true heroism and selfless sacrifice of all the guys that day,” he added. “It’s a testament to all 19 who gave their lives that day.”

A well-kept secret
In the two years since, the events on that Afghan mountain have stirred much speculation on how the team members would be recognized. “They knew what they were dying for, they believed in what they were doing and they gave their last full measure,” then-Rear Adm. Joe Maguire said during a June 28, 2006, ceremony dedicating a memorial tree and plaque outside Naval Special Warfare Command headquarters in Coronado, Calif.

The other three SEALs in Murphy’s team have received the Navy Cross.

On Aug. 27, the Murphy family received a call from the White House chief of military affairs telling them that President Bush approved the award. “They asked us if we could please keep the information confidential” until the Navy’s announcement, Daniel Murphy said.

Talk about pressure. “Obviously, you want to get on top of a building and scream out,” he said.

But the Murphys agreed, and they kept it secret.

“You wanted to tell everybody, but you really couldn’t,” said Maureen Murphy.

“I was thrilled, and I was like, oh my God. It’s like a rollercoaster ride,” she said. “You are so happy that the nation recognizes what you already know about your son — handsome and the brave actions and everything — then there’s the other part. ... I wish he could walk up there and receive that. It’s bittersweet.”

Family and colleagues describe Murphy as a likeable leader, witty, sincere, caring, honest humble, selfless. He didn’t live for the spotlight, they say, and he’d probably prefer to deflect the attention over his combat actions.

“He was a great little boy. He was a very wonderful teenager. He always rolled up his sleeves to help people,” his mother said. “In every picture we have,” she noted, “he was always in the background.”

SEALs honor their own
This will mark the first time a Navy person has received the Medal of Honor in 35 years, and the fourth time a SEAL has received the award. It also marks the third awarding of the Medal of Honor for combat heroism in Iraq or Afghanistan — the other two were awarded posthumously to Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith and Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham.

Top Navy SEALs paid tribute to the president’s decision.

“I am grateful Lt. Murphy will receive the Medal of Honor in recognition and tribute for his heroism and sacrifices,” Adm. Eric Olson, who commands U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., said in a statement. “His selfless actions exemplify the characteristics and values of special operations forces.”

Murphy “was a valued teammate, professional warrior and fearless leader. We are humbled by his courageous and selfless actions, and this award is a testament to the man he was,” said Rear Adm. Joe Kernan, head of Naval Special Warfare Command, in a statement. “Mike believed deeply in his country, and he honorably lived the ethos that he shared with his fellow SEALs.

“The Medal of Honor will ensure that his sacrifice — for freedom, for his teammates and for his fellow Americans — will never be forgotten,” Kernan added. “He will inspire our Naval Special Warfare community for years to come.”

Sean, the task unit leader, recalled that Murphy “is one of those few leaders who was truly able to command the respect of his men, while at the same time knowing them at a personal level. They trusted him, and they felt confident in his abilities.

“It just exemplified the type of people that we have in the community. The events of that day were extraordinary,” he said.

Murphy’s actions that day — “exposing himself the way he did, way into a lengthy gunfight and already severely wounded” — didn’t surprise the officer.

Murphy, he added, “would just say he was doing his job.”
27650  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: October 17, 2007, 06:57:45 PM
Second post of the day

* * *
Mike Kelly's journal about events and people in the Garden State.

Visit the blog

One of Cruise's deputies was even more specific.

"There are people in your county who are affiliated with known al-Qaida members overseas," said Jack Jupin, the FBI agent who heads the counterterror squad for Bergen County.

Cruise, who supervised FBI investigations of terrorist bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa and the USS Cole before taking over the Newark task force, cautioned that his agents have no information about an imminent attack here. But he said several al-Qaida sympathizers would try if given the chance.

"There are many people who are like-minded who want to commit acts of terrorism and have just not taken that extra step," said Cruise, who keeps a "wanted" poster of Bin Laden on his office wall.

Sometimes, he said, counterterror agents "disrupt" these North Jersey residents with al-Qaida ties.

Cruise declined to describe any case in detail. But in general, such disruption methods ranged from outright deportations to quiet visits by FBI agents in which suspected terrorists are told their activities are being monitored.

"There are many disruptions that occur that the public does not know about," Cruise said.

Taliban aren't here

For the past six years, FBI officials have routinely declined to discuss counterterror measures in northern New Jersey. But last week, the FBI granted The Record limited access to the offices of its Joint Terrorism Task Force, in a gleaming glass building in Newark overlooking the Passaic River.

This unusual glimpse into the inner workings of North Jersey's primary counterterrorism force revealed the following:

Task force investigators have discovered that every major terrorist group in the world, including Hamas and Hezbollah, has at least one North Jersey contact. The lone exception is Afghanistan's ultra-fundamentalist sect, the Taliban.
The task force is currently conducting more than 400 counterterror investigations. These range from probes into Bin Laden's network to neo-Nazis to environmental terrorists.
Each month, a task force "response" squad receives as many as a dozen new tips about possible nuclear, biological or chemical terrorism in New Jersey. These range from citizen concerns about a mysterious powder to the report that three ships were sailing to New Jersey with radiological material on board. Squad members were even dispatched to Emerson last month after school administrators received a threat to blow up schools.
Undercover agents attend all professional football games at Giants Stadium. Agents also plan to monitor the upcoming Breeders' Cup at Monmouth Park Racetrack.
Task force agents routinely travel overseas. One is currently in Iraq; another is in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, helping to question suspected al-Qaida captives at the U.S. naval base there. Newark-based agents also played a role in the investigation of the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and provided information to assist the interrogation of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
Task force agents say they are united by one common fear -- that they may overlook information that could stop a potential terrorist attack. Indeed, almost every office seems to contain some reminder of the 9/11 attacks.

'Daily reminder'

In weighing his own fear of an attack, Cruise noted that northern New Jersey has a wide range of tempting and vulnerable targets, from tunnels and bridges to sports venues, shopping malls and chemical plants.

"My greatest fear in New Jersey is that somebody or some group will slip through our grasp," he said.

Scott Nawrocki, the FBI agent who directs the task force's special response squad, keeps a photograph of the World Trade Center on the wall by his desk. On the opposite wall is a poster with a mushroom cloud from a nuclear bomb. "The first things I see are a daily reminder of why I'm here," Nawrocki said.

But he added that it's dangerous for his counterterror agents to fall into the trap of assuming that future terrorists will try to duplicate the 9/11 attacks.

"We use our imagination when we conduct assessments," Nawrocki said.

William Sweeney Jr., whose squad monitors potential terrorists in Hudson County, said some tips for local investigations can originate in the unlikeliest places.

In one case, Sweeney described how U.S. soldiers confiscated a laptop computer when they captured a suspected al-Qaida operative in Iraq. When the laptop's files were examined, investigators discovered several New Jersey phone numbers.

"Why was a person in New Jersey in the address book of a bad guy picked up in Iraq?" Sweeney asked. "We have to check it out."

He declined to describe the result. But the process, described by Sweeney, is not uncommon for the task force.

As a result, task force agents are in daily contact with officials at the CIA and other American intelligence agencies who monitor phone and Internet traffic from North Jersey to known operatives for al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

"I talk to them 10 times a day," Jupin said of the CIA.

Listening in

Cruise holds several top-secret intelligence briefings each week with fellow agents as well as police from such small towns as Old Tappan and Ho-Ho-Kus.

Amid the wash of tips and ongoing cases, though, Cruise said the task force has to make difficult calculations -- especially when monitoring phone or Internet contacts.

"If it's somebody who is simply communicating with somebody who is known to be an al-Qaida operative, that in itself is not illegal," Cruise said. "It's what they intend to do."

To better understand some of his enemies, Cruise even listens to Arabic language CDs during his commute. But he tries to keep himself and his agents from becoming too confident.

"We have better security measures in place and we have better intelligence," he said. "But we are still vulnerable."

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