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27651  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion on: November 04, 2007, 07:53:01 AM
Most Muslims Reject Terrorism?
By Robert Spencer | 11/2/2007

The controversy over Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week largely centered around the spurious charge that the term “Islamo-Fascism” itself defames all Muslims by suggesting that they are fascists, or support terrorism. Of course, this charge rests on the illogical premise that “Islamo-Fascism” is somehow a different kind of term from “white racism” or “Italian fascism,” which no one has ever taken to suggest that all whites are racists or all Italians fascists. But the real core of the problem is that a discussion of Islamic jihad terrorism and Islamic supremacism in general is supposed to be somehow offensive to the great majority of Muslims who are loyal, patriotic citizens of their respective countries and abhor terrorism. There is no reason why it should be offensive. What’s more, survey after survey reveals that the attachment of these groups to the global jihad is generally stronger than most analysts assume it to be. In January 2007, columnist Michael Freund summed up some disquieting recent survey results: 25% of Muslims in Britain approved of the July 7, 2005 jihad terror bombings in London; 30% said they would rather live under Sharia than in a Western pluralistic society. 44% of Muslims in Nigeria thought suicide attacks were “often” or “sometimes” justified, with only 28% rejecting them in all cases. Roughly 14% of Muslims in France, Britain and Spain approved of suicide attacks against civilian targets, and only 45% of Muslims in Egypt considered terror never justified.
And in an Al-Jazeera survey on September 11, 2006, 49.9% of the respondents avowed that they did indeed support Osama bin Laden. Freund adds: “And the July 2006 global Pew survey found that among Muslims, a quarter of Jordanians, a third of Indonesians, 38% of Pakistanis and 61% of Nigerians all expressed confidence in the mass murderer who founded al-Qaida.”
Freund also notes that “in Israel, the percentages are even more alarming. After Cpl. Gilad Shalit was abducted by Hamas terrorists last summer, a poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center revealed that 77.2% of Palestinians supported the kidnapping, while 66.8% said they would back additional such attacks. More than six out of 10 Palestinians also said they were in favor of firing Kassam rockets at Israeli towns and cities….” And in Lebanon in the summer of 2006, “the Beirut Center for Research and Information found that over 80% of the Lebanese population said they supported Hizbullah.”
Some of the results of the Pew Research Center poll of Muslims in America, released in May 2007, were likewise startling: twenty-six percent of Muslims between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine affirmed that there could be justification in some (unspecified) circumstances for suicide bombing, and five percent of all the Muslims surveyed said that they had a favorable view of Al-Qaeda. Given the Pew Center’s estimate of 2.35 million Muslims in America, and the total of thirteen percent that avowed a belief that suicide bombings could ever be justified, that’s over 180,000 supporters of suicide attacks (subtracting the number of children).
Poll results are no better elsewhere. Much was made in the international media of a July 2007 Pew Research Center of attitudes among Muslims in 47 countries. AP reported that “the percentage of Jordanian Muslims who have confidence in bin Laden as a world leader fell 36 percentage points to 20 percent since 2003 while the proportion who say suicide bombing is sometimes or always justified dropped 20 percent points to 23 percent. Other countries where support for bin Laden declined are Lebanon, Indonesia, Turkey, Pakistan and Kuwait.” Support for suicide attacks dropped sharply in Lebanon, from 79 percent in 2002 to 34 percent in 2007, and in Pakistan from 41 percent in 2004 to only nine percent in 2007. Among Palestinians it remained high, with only six percent affirming that suicide attacks could never be justified.
These declines are encouraging, but the percentages approving of people and practices we have been endlessly told appeal only to a “tiny minority of extremists” are still uncomfortably high. Clearly the Islamic jihad being waged today by Osama bin Laden and his compatriots all over the globe has great appeal among Muslims, and as bin Laden and other jihadists consistently portray themselves as the pure Muslims who are practicing the true Islam, it is clear that that portrayal is convincing to all too many. For these percentages of approval to drop definitively, peaceful Muslims would have to mount comprehensive efforts to counter the jihad ideology of Islamic supremacism within mosques and Islamic schools all over the Muslim world as well as in the West.
But no one has made any effort to do that.
Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of seven books, eight monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times BestsellersThe Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Religion of Peace?.
27652  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: November 03, 2007, 09:07:03 AM

Saudi Marriage 'Expert' Advises Men in 'Right Way' to Beat Their Wives

Friday, November 02, 2007
Move over, Dr. Phil, there's a new relationship expert in town.
He's Saudi author and cleric, "Dr." Muhammad Al-'Arifi, who in a remarkable segment broadcast on Saudi and Kuwaiti television in September, counseled young Muslim men on how to treat their wives.
"Admonish them – once, twice, three times, four times, ten times," he advised. "If this doesn't help, refuse to share their beds."
And if that doesn't work?
"Beat them," one of his three young advisees responded.
"That's right," Al-'Arifi said.
Click here to view the segment at
He goes on to calmly explain to the young men that hitting their future wives in the face is a no-no.
"Beating in the face is forbidden, even when it comes to animals," he explained. "Even if you want your camel or donkey to start walking, you are not allowed to beat it in the face. If this is true for animals, it is all the more true when it comes to humans. So beatings should be light and not in the face."
His final words of wisdom?
"Woman, it has gone too far. I can't bear it anymore," he tells the men to tell their wives. "If he beats her, the beatings must be light and must not make her face ugly.
"He must beat her where it will not leave marks. He should not beat her on the hand... He should beat her in some places where it will not cause any damage. He should not beat her like he would beat an animal or a child -- slapping them right and left.
"Unfortunately, many husbands beat their wives only when they get mad, and when they start beating, it as if they are punching a wall – they beat with their hands, right and left, and sometimes use their feet. Brother, it is a human being you are beating. This is forbidden. He must not do this."
Take that,!,2933,307680,00.html
27653  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: November 03, 2007, 08:26:01 AM
A Sinkable Treaty
Why America doesn't need the Law of the Sea.

Saturday, November 3, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 17-4 Wednesday to approve the Law of the Sea Treaty, meaning it's now up to 34 Senate Republicans to send this giant octopus of a document back where it belongs. To wit, the bottom of the ocean.

The U.S. last disposed of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea--LOST to its critics--when Ronald Reagan was President. This May, however, the Bush Administration reversed course and declared that the Gipper's objections had been fixed by a 1994 amendment. We've since had a debate on these pages over that point, with former Secretaries of State George Shultz and James Baker in favor, while Ed Meese and William Clark, Reagan's Attorney General and National Security Adviser, remain opposed.

The best arguments for the treaty come from the U.S. Navy, which likes how it creates a legal framework for navigational rights. The oil and gas industry approves of provisions that create an "exclusive economic zone" for the U.S. out to 200 miles. There's also the potential for development (with clear legal title) of resources in the deep seabed, which would be managed by the International Seabed Authority on which the U.S. would be guaranteed a seat. And, in fact, the 1994 amendment did get rid of some of LOST's most obnoxious provisions, such as mandatory technology transfers and other redistributionist nostrums.

Then again, the Navy has been getting along fine by using the "customary law" that has guaranteed freedom of the seas for three centuries. Treaty proponents have taken to arguing that, unless we ratify, Russia will lay claim to oil rights over the Arctic seabed. But Russia's expansive Arctic claims, possibly including the sea floor under the North Pole, are themselves a product of the treaty. We also hear that the U.S. must have its proverbial "seat at the table" in negotiations over such claims. But the nations with a direct geographic Arctic claim ought to be able to cut a deal without giving Cuba or Zimbabwe a seat. America's historic experience with similar multinational bodies (e.g., the U.N. Human Rights Commission) hardly justifies confidence that having a seat will enhance our influence, rather than constrain it.
The larger problem is the treaty's sheer size, with no fewer than 320 articles and nine annexes. These cover everything from "Criminal jurisdiction on board a foreign ship" (Article 27) to "Anadromous stocks" and "Catadromous Species" (Articles 65 and 66) to the "Jurisdiction of the Seabed Disputes Chamber" (Article 187). Much of this is anodyne, but perhaps the Senators should read the fine print before voting. They might be surprised by what they find.

Consider the treaty's potential effects on military activities. The Administration says these are excluded from the treaty and, further, that the U.S. gets to decide what constitutes such activity. But then how to explain Article 20, which states that "In the territorial sea, submarines and other underwater vehicles are required to navigate on the surface and to show their flag." How will this affect the ability of U.S. submarines to gather intelligence in coastal waters or deploy special forces on hostile shores? Last we checked, a $1 billion submarine called the USS Jimmy Carter had been built precisely for that purpose.

The Navy might also ask how its powerful sonars--which some environmentalists say harm marine life--could run afoul of Article 196. This states that countries "shall take all measures necessary to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment resulting from the use of technologies under their jurisdiction or control."

Or take concerns that the treaty's requirements on pollution are a back-door mechanism for forcing U.S. compliance with the Kyoto Treaty and other global environmental pacts. Confronted with the argument, an Administration spokesman told the Senate that the treaty did not exercise jurisdiction over land-based pollution. Replied Republican Senator David Vitter: "If it is . . . not covered by the treaty, why is there a section entitled, 'Pollution from Land-Based Sources'?" A good question, considering that Article 213 notes that countries "shall adopt laws and regulations and take other measures necessary to implement applicable international rules and standards established through competent international organizations" to control such pollution. Note our emphasis.

Critics are also right to be concerned about the powers of direct taxation the treaty confers on the International Seabed Authority. The details of this innovation are buried in Article 13 of the treaty's third annex, and contain a mix of "production charges" and annual million-dollar "administrative" fees. Such measures are all but unprecedented for an international organization and have a potential for corruption, especially when the taxes can run as high as 70% of net proceeds.
Some 154 countries have joined the Law of the Sea Treaty, with the U.S. one of the few holdouts. Critics are being labeled isolationists, or worse. But the U.S. has been abiding voluntarily with the terms of the treaty since 1983, with no ill effect. Twenty-some years ago a former President objected to handing sovereignty over two-thirds of the Earth's surface to another unaccountable international body. Ronald Reagan sank the treaty then; now it's up to 34 Senators to show similar courage.

27654  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: November 03, 2007, 12:35:57 AM
Woof All:

It appears that our page of record for the Tribe has gotten badly out of date  embarassed

Please post here AND send us an email at to remind of us of your status.

The Adventure continues!
Crafty Dog
Guiding Force
Council of Elders
27655  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: November 03, 2007, 12:03:16 AM
Clearly, these men walk around in a state of ready:

27656  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Three on: November 02, 2007, 11:54:48 PM

Suddenly, that miracle arrived.

Through a hail of bullets from the surrounding buildings, Corriveau bounded over the dividing wall and came sprinting across the north side of the roof and around the stairwell, almost knocking Moser over as he flew around the corner. Upon seeing each other alive, an unspeakable joy flooded the manic Corriveau, and an equal amount of relief flowed through Moser at the suddenly gained knowledge that each was not the only man left alive on this godforsaken rooftop in Samarra.

After the joyous yet indescribably brief reunion, the two Americans resumed the fight together. As Moser suppressed the enemy activity in the stairwell, Corriveau reached down and picked up the team's radio to call for the QRF. But like Moser before him, he found that it had been destroyed by one of the first grenades thrown onto the rooftop. Flinging the useless object across the roof out of frustration, Corriveau next set his sights on the survivors' last hope of a means to call for help: the ICOM on Morley's vest.

As Moser locked down the stairwell with his M4, Corriveau crossed the open rooftop to the northwest corner, where Morley's vest lay, and retrieved the small hand-held radio. Picking it up, he made calls on channel after channel, desperate to get hold of anybody that he could. Finally, as he turned the knob to Channel 13, he made contact with SSG Wheeler on the southern OP.

"Reaper Two is in contact!" Corriveau yelled into the radio. "We have two casualties, need immediate QRF and air support!"

Having made his transmission, Corriveau threw the ICOM aside and moved back to the northeastern corner of the roof, where he and Moser took turns firing at the enemy machine gun position to the east and suppressing the northern stairwell, continuing to protect Morley's body. Sporadic harassing fire was still coming from the southern doorway, but it was not enough to be a concern.
As they held down their quadrant of the apartment building's rooftop, one final grenade came rolling out of the stairwell, exploding harmlessly several feet away from them. Then, the fire from the doorway began to die down. For some unknown reason, the terrorists inside the building, who had been pushing so determinedly up the stairs during the ten-minute gun battle, had abandoned their pursuit, and were quickly evacuating their dead as they left the building. The rooftop battle zone had become much calmer.
 RACING NORTH UP THE STREET toward the apartment building, Red Platoon's four Humvees were heading into the unknown, but were preparing for the worst-case scenario. Wheeler had relayed Corriveau's ICOM message to them, stating that there were friendly casualties and that the OP was in contact. As the column neared the building, Lieutenant Smith could see thick, black smoke rising from the rooftop, while SFC Cisneros saw fire being directed at the OP from several buildings around them.

The streets were completely deserted as the QRF pulled up to the apartment complex, passing on the southwest corner the body of a black fighter holding an AK-47. The four Humvees pulled up to the east, north, west, and southwest sides of the building to establish a security cordon; as his vehicle reached the front, Lieutenant Smith jumped out of his Humvee and sprinted into the building alone, leaving his remaining dismounted soldiers racing to catch up. All he knew was that the young men he had dropped off here only hours ago were in danger, and had already taken casualties. SFC Cisneros, who leaped from his truck the moment he saw Smith take off, caught up to his Platoon Leader at the base of the stairwell, pulling him back so that he could assume the risk of mounting the staircase into the unknown first.

As the dismounted paratroopers -- Smith and Cisneros, as well as Sergeant Tim Curry, Private First Class Tim Durfee, and Specialist Brady Thayer, the platoon's medic -- raced up the stairs, weapons at the ready and hollering "Friendlies coming up!" at the top of their lungs, the sound of gunfire from below came echoing up the stairs. One of Red Platoon's turret gunners had positively identified a gunman in an alley to the southeast, and was engaging him.

The stairwell itself was covered in blood, from top to bottom. Looking around as he climbed toward the roof, Cisneros saw marks in the slick coating that indicated that several bodies had been dragged down from above. Finally, as he reached the last flight of stairs, he encountered a dead body, oriented as though it had been moving up the stairs when it had been killed.

Finally reaching daylight at the top of the staircase, Cisneros made an immediate turn to the right, around the northern wall, and almost ran into Corriveau. Wanting to avoid being shot by the shell-shocked paratrooper, Cisneros grabbed Corriveau by the upper arms and yelled to him, "Hey! It's us! It's us!" Punch-drunk and mentally exhausted, Corriveau went limp for the briefest of moments in Cisneros's arms; behind him, Moser simply stared, wide-eyed.

Staying low to avoid the machine gun fire from the surrounding buildings, and wary of the prospect of walking into another ambush, Cisneros turned and surveyed the scene on the rooftop. What he saw was sickening. The entire roof of the building was covered with well over a dozen blast marks from grenades, with some patches still burning, and shell casings from expended rounds seemed to cover every remaining inch of ground. From the northeastern corner, he could clearly see Willis's body diagonally across the roof, lying on its side directly over a large blast marking; he could also see Morley, lying face down near the stairwell door that he had just charged out of.

Lieutenant Smith, who had followed Cisneros out the door and onto the rooftop, moved to Morley's body to check for a pulse, though knowing it was a futile exercise. He called down to the medic, SPC Thayer, to take his time coming up, as the two casualties were clearly dead. As he knelt over the sniper team leader, he wondered over and over again how in the world this could have happened when he and his men had been so close to the OP the entire time. Lost in thought, he didn't realize that Thayer had come up behind him until Thayer placed a gentle but firm hand on his shoulder and said, "I've got it."

Machine gun fire picked up again from the building to the east, but this time Moser and Corriveau were not alone in facing it. SFC Cisneros and Sgt. Curry joined in returning fire, and the .50 caliber turret guns on the Humvees below engaged the shooters, as well.

Smith, Thayer, and Durfee carried Willis down the stairs to the waiting Humvees, where they gently placed him in a body bag and sat him in the back seat of one of the trucks. A second bag was carried back up to the roof, where Morley was gently wrapped, his head cushioned by Cisneros, and was brought back down to the vehicles, where Moser and Corriveau, alive and physically unharmed but mentally exhausted and emotionally drained, climbed in and sat down. There was no room in the cabs of Red's trucks, so Morley was laid out in the trunk of the rear Humvee, with a gear bag arranged so that it propped up his head like a pillow. Morley and Willis's fellow paratroopers wanted their friends to be comfortable on their last ride back to Patrol Base Olson.

BY THIS TIME, Charlie Company's 2nd ("White") and 3rd Platoons had arrived from Patrol Base Olson, with Captain Buddy Ferris, the Company Commander, riding along. There was work still to be done at the site, from checking the roof for sensitive items to pursuing those involved in the assault, and Blue and White Platoons would spend the next several hours doing just those things. In the ensuing gun battles, several al Qaeda -- both Iraqi and foreign -- would be killed or captured, among them the informant who had initially alerted the foreign fighters to Reaper's presence on the roof of his apartment building. Following a large number of the fighters from the apartment building and the surrounding machine gun positions using surveillance aircraft, Captain Ferris was able to identify the house to which over 20 of the surviving terrorists went after leaving the building. Minutes later, a GPS-guided bomb was dropped on the house.

Within the next hours and days, more information would come to light, both through the interrogation of captured insurgents and through the development of more human intelligence on the situation. According to the available evidence, nearly 40 al Qaeda were directly involved in the assault on Reaper's position (they believed the team on the roof comprised nearly a dozen American soldiers). During the firefight, which lasted less than ten total minutes, Corriveau and Moser had killed at least ten enemy fighters -- possibly as many as fifteen -- and had not only kept themselves alive, but, against all odds, had prevented al Qaeda from succeeding in their real goal: to kidnap the soldiers on the rooftop, and to make a public spectacle of their imprisonment and murder, just two weeks before General Petraeus's internationally viewed testimony on Iraq before the U.S. Congress. The suspicion that kidnapping was the fighters' intent was confirmed by a final piece of intelligence that Charlie Company received just after the incident: an announcement, crafted by the Islamic State of Iraq (al Qaeda's Iraqi front), stating that nine U.S. soldiers had been kidnapped in Samarra, and had been beheaded and had their bodies thrown into Thar-Thar lake (to the southwest of the city).

Thanks to the strength, courage, discipline, and unwillingness to give up in the face of seemingly impossible odds of Chris Corriveau and Eric Moser, the ISI had spoken too soon. There would be no trophy, no public relations victory to thrust in the face of those in America and around the world whose attention would in the next few weeks be focused again on Iraq. Instead, there would only be death or capture, as the ISI members responsible were hunted down, one by one, by Captain Ferris and his company of very motivated, and exceptionally lethal, paratroopers who, as Corriveau and Moser had demonstrated during the fight of their lives on the rooftop that fateful morning, would never, ever give up, whatever the odds.
27657  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Two on: November 02, 2007, 11:53:39 PM
Continuing to close on the man, who was now on the ground, Corriveau fired again and again, re-charging the firing handle each time, until he had emptied his remaining rounds into the body. Following up with a swift kick to the fighter's head to make sure that he was dead, he then tossed his empty sniper rifle aside, picked up the man's PKC, and stepped into the stairwell, looking down over the railing. Seeing at least one more armed man charging up from the landing below, Corriveau held the PKC over the ledge and, firing blind, let go with a burst. A scream from below let him know that at least one of his rounds had hit home. He repeated this action three or four more times until he was unable to see any more movement in the stairwell.

Having neutralized the threat at his back (at least temporarily), Corriveau took his newly acquired PKC and sprinted back to the western edge of the roof to check the road again. As he peered over the edge, he saw several men running toward the entrance to the building from the south. Just to Corriveau's right, over the dividing wall, Willis, who had left the northern stairwell to Moser, was looking at the same scene. Looking to his left and catching Corriveau's eye, Willis, who had stepped up and taken charge after Morley had gone down, pointed at the men, pulled a grenade from his vest, and yelled, "We're going to frag them!" Corriveau retrieved a grenade of his own, pulled the firing pin, and let it fly, hitting the last man in the group running toward the building. Seconds behind him Willis pulled the pin from his own grenade, and prepared to throw it down into the street as well.

Suddenly, the morning exploded into gunfire, and bullets began flying at the rooftop from seemingly every direction. Enemy fighters had established supporting machine gun positions in the buildings on three sides (north, east, and west) of the apartment complex, and had begun firing relentlessly at the building top that had become a battleground, sending debris flying up all over the place from the walls and roof. Over the loud chatter of the supporting fire, Corriveau, who was still facing the street, heard a loud burst from his five o'clock. Looking to his right, he saw Willis disappear behind the dividing wall, the prepped grenade still in his hand.

 AT THE NORTHERN STAIRWELL, Moser was holding the high ground, doing his best to lock down the access route to his half of the rooftop -- and to stay alive -- by alternately firing his M4 rifle around the northwest corner of the stairwell and taking cover behind the structure's northern wall. AK-47 and PKC fire, as well, now, as 9-millimeter pistol fire, was being steadily spewed from the doorway, and grenades were still bouncing out onto the roof and exploding around Moser at an alarming rate. Pivoting around the corner to fire another burst with his M4, he was able to see at least eight people in the stairwell, all attempting to make it up to the roof. He did his best to suppress the charge.

As he took cover behind the wall yet again, Moser saw a single enemy fighter reach out of the stairwell and grab the M4 that Morley had dropped when he had been hit. Though he immediately leaped up and began firing into the building again, Moser was too late to prevent the weapon from being taken. He had larger problems to worry about than the rifle, though. The charge up the stairs by close to a dozen men (both black and Arab) was continuing, and grenades were rolling out of the doorway one and two at a time and exploding with thunderous bangs. Shortly after the weapon had been taken, the person at the top of the staircase made a lunge for another prize on the roof -- Morley's body.

Spurred into renewed action, Moser flew around the corner of the stairwell and let loose with a relentless series of bursts at the advancing enemy. He was still in shock at Morley's sudden death, and there was no way that he was going to allow these animals to take his team leader's -- and friend's -- body. Risking his own life to remain within reach of the stairwell -- and thus to be able to impose himself and his M4 as a barrier between the attackers and Morley's body -- Moser fired again and again into the doorway, hitting insurgents inside while miraculously avoiding injury himself. The number of targets never seemed to diminish. As soon as he shot one person attempting to fight his way out of the stairwell to seize Morley's body, another would appear.

As Moser was exchanging fire with the topmost fighters in the northern stairwell, and attempting to remain behind sufficient cover to avoid the repeated grenade detonations on the roof, he heard from across the building top Willis's call to Corriveau to prepare their grenades. Just then, the enemy support-by-fire positions surrounding the building opened fire on the rooftop, sending Moser scrambling for cover again. As he retreated behind the northern wall of the stairwell (crouched down to avoid the withering fire coming from the north, east, and west), he looked out toward Willis just in time to see a PKC burst from the northern stairwell catch him in the back.

Almost in slow motion, Moser saw Willis's body contort, saw him collapse onto the roof, and saw him land on his own grenade, which he had prepped for use but hadn't yet been able to throw.

A split second later Willis's body was rocked by the explosion, and Moser knew instantly that he was dead. The battle had only been raging for five minutes, but it already seemed like a lifetime to Moser -- and it had cost the lives of at least two of his fellow paratroopers. With the machine gun fire pouring in from three sides, the concerted efforts on the part of the fighters in the stairwell to reach the rooftop and Morley's body (and do who knew what from there), and the grenades exploding around him, Moser could do nothing but hold what little ground he had, and keep trying to suppress the fighters in the stairwell. From his position by the stairs, the situation seemed utterly hopeless. He could see Morley and Willis lying on the roof, unmoving, knowing that they would never move again. Further, as he couldn't see or hear a thing from the south side of the building top, due to the dividing wall and the withering gunfire coming from all sides, he had no choice but to assume that Corriveau was gone as well.

He had never felt more alone.

ON THE SOUTHERN HALF OF THE ROOFTOP, across the dividing wall, Corriveau was still very much alive. He absolutely knew this to be the case because, as he sprinted back to the southern stairwell to prevent any more enemy fighters from making it to the rooftop, he was beside himself with emotions the likes of which he had never felt before. If he were dead, there was no way that he would feel the hurt, the loss, the sheer rage that was bottled up within him now, that drove him as he fired his PKC over and over into the stairwell, cutting down armed insurgent after armed insurgent as they ran up the stairs toward him. He had seen Willis go down from the gunfire, had heard the explosion of his friend's own grenade, and knew there was no way that he could have survived such a blast. Further, he had not seen Morley or Moser since the initial shooting had begun over five minutes (that seemed like hours) before and knew -- though his mind could not accept it -- that they, the last of his team, the last of his support, the last of those who were closer to them than his own family, must be dead as well.

Fighting like a man who had nothing to lose, Corriveau moved to the southern end of the roof, staying low to avoid the continuous fire from the surrounding buildings, and, keeping an eye on his own stairwell, began to fire bursts from his PKC across the dividing wall into the northern doorway as he bounded back and forth across the end of the roof, ducking for cover between bursts. As he popped out to fire again and again, he saw one insurgent after another in the northern stairwell, trying to make it out onto the roof, many of whom, it appeared from their long beards and the color of their skin, had come all this way from some foreign land just to kill him, and to kill his friends. His insides contorted with emotion, Corriveau did the only thing that he could do in that situation: keep moving, keep taking cover, and keep fighting off his assailants as long as he had the strength and the ammunition to do so. As the last man standing, there was nobody else to turn to for help -- either he would fight, or he would die, with the two not being mutually exclusive.

But, if he was going to die, he was going to go down fighting -- and he was going to take as many of these animals with him as he could.

AROUND THE FAR SIDE of the northern stairwell, Moser was engaged in a battle with a hand holding a 9mm pistol. Grenades were still being tossed up the stairs onto the roof, and every few seconds a black hand would reach around the wall of the structure and squeeze off a few rounds in his direction. Ducking behind cover when it appeared, then swinging his weapon around the wall and firing a burst when it went back inside, Moser could see no progress being made in his battle to keep his assailants from taking the rooftop -- and no escape in the event that they finally did. Due to the dividing wall and the fact that, entirely by chance, he and Corriveau were both suppressing the same stairwell, from opposite sides of the roof, in an exactly alternating pattern, Moser never saw that he was not alone, that there was another member of his team alive on the rooftop (and neither, on the other side, did Corriveau). However, despite his creeping sense of hopelessness, Moser continued to do all that he was able -- which, at this point, was to protect Morley's body the best that he could, and to keep exchanging rounds with the insurgents behind the door.

And then his weapon jammed.

As if more adversity were needed in a situation that was already an against-all-odds struggle to protect the body of a fallen comrade while also trying to stay alive, against the combined opposition of an assault from foreign fighters in the stairwell and a constant stream of grenades being tossed onto the roof near him -- which prevented his crossing the mere feet separating him from Morley's load carrying vest, which was in the northwestern corner and held a walkie-talkie ("ICOM"), the last undamaged piece of communications equipment on the roof -- as well as nonstop machine gun fire from the buildings on every side, now Moser's M4 was threatening to fail him. In this time of greatest need, Moser's training and experience kicked in. He remained calm, cleared his weapon, and, undeterred by the fact that now, due to a malfunction in his most precious piece of equipment, he had to charge the rifle's firing handle after every single shot, resumed the battle.

For nearly five minutes, he traded shots with the faceless pistolier on the other side of the stairwell door, all the while knowing that, in the end, he would not have enough time or ammunition to hold the rooftop himself. As the minutes crept by like hours, a renewed sense of hopelessness began to take hold. "Please God, help me," he pled time and again, as he alternated firing into the stairwell, ducking for cover from the returning fire, and searching frantically for some way out of what appeared to be a certain-death situation. Looking to the west, he saw the unmistakable form of the 52-meter tall Spiral Minaret, which stood in the northwestern corner of the city, a scant thousand meters from Patrol Base Olson -- and safety. Measuring its distance from the rooftop, Moser wondered for the briefest of moments if he could survive a jump off the building intact enough to be able to run the three kilometers back to Olson.

The situation was desperate, and Moser needed a miracle.

THOUGH HE WAS IN A SIMILARLY desperate situation on the south side of the roof, the idea of leaping off a four-story building never occurred to Corriveau. Instead, as he bounded back and forth across the building's edge, alternately firing into the northern stairwell door and taking cover from whatever return fire came his way, his mass of conflicting emotions was overridden by only one thought: Get to the radio on the other side of the roof.

Finally, running low on ammunition and facing only sporadic harassing fire from the southern stairwell, Corriveau decided it was time to make a break for it. He fired a final suppressive burst into his own doorway, as well as into the one to the north, and made a run for it, dashing across the open rooftop, vaulting the dividing wall, and racing for the semi-protected far side of the northern stairwell.

ON THE NORTH SIDE OF THE ROOF, Moser's situation was looking bleaker by the second. He had gone through five 30-round magazines with his M4 and was still defending the roof from an attempted assault up his own stairwell, while frantically searching -- and hoping -- for a miraculous escape from his present situation.

Suddenly, that miracle arrived.
27658  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Not from the NY or LA Times on: November 02, 2007, 11:51:46 PM
Complex snatch/ambush on a 4 man US sniper team on a rooftop using interlocking suppressive SMG fire from nearby roofs with a sapper team coming up the rooftop stairwell. Enemy were Ethiopian AQI/ISI. Use of movement, cover, and pickup of Hadji weapons allowed US to prevail. Failure of M4 gas system during fight.


THE DAY OF AUGUST 26, 2007, began like any other for the soldiers of Charlie Company, 2-505 Parachute Infantry Regiment (from the 82nd Airborne Division) -- with a mission in the city. Over a year into its deployment to Samarra, Iraq, and now working on the three-month extension announced by Secretary of Defense Gates in the spring, the company knew the city like the back of its collective hands and had its operational routine down to a science, whatever the mission it might be tasked with.

On this morning, that mission was to establish a defensive perimeter around a block in central Samarra, so that Charlie Company's 3rd ("Blue") Platoon, led by Lieutenant Scott Young, could search a shop where it had information that Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were being manufactured.

Due to the insurgents' penchant for placing IEDs along the routes used by Charlie Company's vehicles in order to ambush them on their way back, two separate rooftop observation points (OPs) would be established, one to the north and one to the south of the shop, to watch for enemy activity on the roads that were serving as Blue Platoon's infiltration and exfiltration routes. The southern OP, led by Staff Sergeant Jason Wheeler, was manned with paratroopers from Charlie Company's 1st ("Red") Platoon. "Reaper Two," one of the sniper teams from 2nd Battalion's scout platoon, would man the second OP, almost a kilometer to the north. Reaper would be overwatching the area from the roof of a large four-story apartment building, which was laid out with the long axis facing north-south, and which was bordered -- across the surrounding streets and alleys -- by several other buildings.

The three-man Reaper team, known as the best in the unit, was led by Sergeant Josh Morley, a 22-year-old paratrooper from North Carolina. Morley was regarded within Charlie Company as a consummate professional, and the men in the unit knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they could always count on him and his team to come through whenever they were needed. Morley was affected even more than most of his fellow soldiers by the additional three months that had been added on to his unit's combat tour, for he was a new father and was counting the days until the end of the deployment, when he would finally get to see his infant daughter for the first time -- something he had already been waiting months to do.

The rest of Morley's team was made up of Specialist Tracy Willis, a 21-year-old from Texas, and Specialist Chris Corriveau, a 23-year-old from Maine. Willis was well known within Charlie Company as a friendly, laid back, permanently smiling young man who was always good for a laugh and for conversation, regardless of the person and the situation. Corriveau was quieter, but had earned the immense respect of his peers at Patrol Base Olson not only for his talent as a sniper but also for his abilities as a natural leader. The team had been together in Iraq for well over a year, and the three young men were as close as soldiers could be. They knew everything about each other, from their backgrounds, to information about their families, to the punchlines of Willis's tiredest jokes. Further, they had worked together so closely, and for so long, that they could read each other's body language and tone of voice, and were able to function as an extraordinarily effective unit.

For this mission, the three-man Reaper Two sniper team was rounded out by a fourth man (and a second Texan), 23-year-old Specialist Eric Moser. The company armorer, Moser was not a member of the Battalion Scout Platoon like Morley, Willis, and Corriveau, but was a competition-caliber shooter, and had gone along on several OPs with Reaper in the past, serving as a "designated marksman." His skill with firearms would end up being critical that day.
EARLY IN THE MORNING, after dropping off SSG Wheeler's team, Red Platoon's four Humvees rolled up to the predetermined dismount point for the second OP and came to a stop, allowing Morley, Willis, Corriveau, and Moser to get out. Upon departing the area, the trucks would make their way to Patrol Base Uvanni, an Iraqi National Police outpost in the center of the city (about 1.5 kilometers southwest of Reaper's OP), where they would wait until it was time to pick up the overwatch teams, while also serving as a Quick Reaction Force in the unlikely event that anything should go wrong at either of the overwatch sites.

The four-man sniper team hustled to the northern gate of the apartment building, cut the lock, and quietly moved into the courtyard. Morley instructed Moser and Corriveau to remain behind to close the gate and remove other signs of the team's presence, while he and Willis made their way into the building and up the stairs. Moser pulled security while Corriveau quietly closed the gate and replaced the lock, and then the two followed the others inside, clearing the stairwell as they ascended, but not going into the hallways of the apartment building, as they didn't want to alert the inhabitants of their presence.

The four-man team emerged onto the northern half of the roof and surveyed their surroundings. The building was set up with two staircases, one on the north side and one on the south side, both of which opened up onto the top of the building facing west. Dividing the north and south halves of the roof was a four-foot high, east-west running wall. The entire perimeter of the building's top was lined with a wall of the same height.

Once the area had been secured and the OP established, there was little to do but watch the street around the building. The team took turns keeping watch and sleeping; they had done hundreds of these before, and, while things could get hairy at times, their job involved far more boredom than excitement -- especially if they were careful, as they always were, to keep their heads down and not let anybody below know that they were there.

Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the four men of Reaper Two, one of the building's occupants had seen them enter and had passed the information along.

JUST BEFORE 11 A.M., reaper received word that Blue Platoon had finished its search of the shop (which had yielded no evidence of illegal activity) and was heading back to Patrol Base Olson, three kilometers to the west. With this, the men dispersed across the top of the building, with two -- Moser and Corriveau -- watching the road from corners of the roof, and the other two -- Morley and Willis -- taking up a position by the northern stairwell, where the team's radio had been deposited. Assigned to the southeast corner, Corriveau picked up an M4 rifle to complement his sniper weapon and vaulted the dividing wall, moving onto the southern half of the building and taking up his position, watching the base of the buildings across the road but careful to remain below the roof's perimeter wall and out of sight from the street below. Taking a quick peek over the wall, he saw a white sedan nearing his corner of the building but due to the obstructed view that came along with his rooftop concealment, Corriveau never had a chance to see the situation developing on the street directly below.

On the northwest corner of the apartment complex, Moser was watching the road in front of the building through a cut in the roof wall. As he looked down, he saw a white car speed up to the corner of the building. Four men holding AK-47 assault rifles (at least two of whom had long beards -- a distinctly non-Iraqi trait) emerged from the vehicle and sprinted toward the building's entrance. Seeing this, Moser immediately yelled to the others that enemy fighters were below. Morley, who along with Willis had been positioned next to the stairwell, raced to Moser's corner of the building to assess the situation and if possible to engage, but could not move quickly enough to prevent the men on the ground from making it into the building.

Suddenly, machine gun fire erupted from both of the stairwells behind them.

AT PATROL BASE UVANNI, a kilometer and a half away, the four armored Humvees that made up Charlie Company's internal Quick Reaction Force (QRF) were sitting just inside the gate, its soldiers in their vehicles and ready to move at a moment's notice, when the sound of gunfire echoed through the city streets. The sound of automatic weapons fire is as common in Samarra as traffic noise is in the United States. To Lieutenant Steve Smith, however, Red's Platoon Leader, these shots seemed different for some reason -- like they were coming from the north, instead of from the usual east-west direction. He immediately ordered radio checks to be attempted with both OPs to make sure that they were okay.

The first call went to the southern observation point, where SSG Wheeler's team was positioned. "Do you hear gunfire?" he was asked. He replied, "It sounds like the gunfire is coming from north of me. It sounds like Reaper."

Sergeant First Class Rodolfo Cisneros, Red's Platoon Sergeant (ranking noncommissioned officer), ordered an immediate radio check with Reaper. He had a bad feeling about the gunfire and explosions that sounded like they were coming from the exact direction of the northern OP. The radio call received no answer -- enough reason for Cisneros to call for the QRF to move immediately, as the unit's standard procedure regarding overwatch operations was that, in the event of a lack of communication with an OP, the QRF should assume it had been compromised and move to its location immediately.

Lieutenant Smith ordered another check -- again, nothing. Upon the second failed radio call, he ordered the four-Humvee Quick Reaction Force to roll out of Uvanni and make for Reaper's location as fast as possible. As the Humvees sped out of the Iraqi Patrol Base, Smith continued trying to raise the sniper team on the radio. He did not know that their radio had been destroyed by a grenade, and could only hope that the sounds echoing down the alleyways from the north -- which sounded like a full-blown battle at this point, complete with automatic and single-shot gunfire, as well as frequent explosions -- were not coming from Reaper's location.

ON THE ROOF OF THE APARTMENT BUILDING, Morley and Moser were taking AK-47 and PKC (a 7.62mm Russian-made machine gun) fire from both stairwells. As they spun around to return fire, they saw several small, dark objects flying onto the roof from the stairwell -- hand grenades. Morley recognized that the situation was rapidly deteriorating and knew that, though his team currently occupied the high ground in the emerging battle, they could not hold out for very long due to their vast disadvantage in numbers. Seeing that Willis, who was next to the team's radio, was busy firing into the stairwell through a window on the enclave's north side, and not knowing that one of the first hand grenades tossed onto the roof had disabled it, Morley made a dash across the roof to call for the QRF.

He never made it there.

As Moser fired into the door from his corner in an attempt to suppress the enemy assault, he saw Morley appear to stumble and go down, his weapon skidding across the rooftop toward the stairwell door. His first thought was that the team leader had tripped and fallen; a moment later, his brain registered the truth: Morley had been shot. A burst of gunfire from the southern stairwell across the dividing wall had scored a direct hit, with one round striking Morley directly in the forehead. He was dead before hitting the ground.

Moser didn't have time to dwell on Morley's death. Knowing that what had just become a three-man team could not long withstand the concerted effort by what was clearly a large enemy force to move up the stairs to his location, he took the same chance that Morley had, and crossed the roof to the radio while Willis continued to fire his .240 machine gun into the stairwell, killing at least two enemy fighters with well-placed bursts as grenades continued to be tossed up the stairs and out onto the roof. As he moved to the radio (which he found to have been disabled by a grenade), Moser was able to get a look down into the northern stairwell. Inside, he saw a number of armed men, both black and Arab rushing up the steps toward the roof -- none of whom were the individuals he had seen get out of the car moments before on the street. Apparently there had been fighters stationed in the building before the white car's arrival.

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOF'S DIVIDING WALL, Corriveau had been watching the area to the southwest when the gunfire began at his back. Spinning around at the edge of the roof, he saw a man with a PKC machine gun emerging from the southern stairwell, and immediately moved toward him, raising his M24 sniper rifle, only to find that it wasn't loaded. Continuing to advance on the man at the top of the stairs, who was firing across the roof, Corriveau quickly loaded a five-round magazine into his rifle and fired a perfectly aimed shot into the assailant's head.
27659  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: When you don't feel like fighting... on: November 02, 2007, 11:47:28 PM
I've been watching some of your fights this week in the Dos Triques DVD-- you look pretty deadly to me smiley
27660  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizen-Police interactions on: November 02, 2007, 11:26:47 PM

SARASOTA -- John Coffin opened the garage door to see his wife on the floor, screaming in pain as two sheriff's deputies tried to handcuff her, Coffin's attorney said in court Monday.

"He grabs his wife and begins to pull her away," defense attorney Brett McIntosh said. One of the deputies then jumped Coffin from behind, "and that's where this case is focused."

Coffin, 56, faces years in prison on felony battery charges that in April 2006 he attacked deputies James Lutz and Stacy Ferris, whose name is now Stacy Brandau.

Monday was the first day in a trial in which prosecutors will use the serious injuries sustained by the deputies to show Coffin is guilty.

Coffin's defense attorney will argue that he was defending his wife, and his home, from deputies who had no right to be there in the first place.

Prosecutors say the fight started when Coffin came into the garage, punched Ferris in the face and threw her against a wall.

When Ferris tried to arrest him for that battery, Coffin fought them and both deputies "were defending themselves and trying to get away," Assistant State Attorney Jessica Zack said. "The pictures will tell you the story as well."

Coffin's attorneys say the two deputies are the ones who broke the law.

"We will find out about the credibility of these officers," McIntosh said Monday in court.

The deputies were at the Coffins' home trying to serve a civil injunction on Coffin, who had been served the same papers five days earlier in Charlotte County.

The deputies entered the garage even though they did not have a search warrant or arrest warrant allowing them to enter the Coffins' house.

And they arrested Cynthia Coffin, 50, on obstruction charges for not following their order to bring her husband outside.

McIntosh said the deputies had no grounds for the arrest.

The charges against her have since been dismissed. A jury had been picked in Cynthia Coffin's case in December when a judge granted a defense attorney's last-minute motion to dismiss the charges because of those facts.

On Monday in court, Zack held up photographs to show the extent of the deputies' injuries and only touched briefly on the issues the defense has raised.

"Whether or not the officers should have entered the house is something I'm sure they would take back if they could," Zack said.

Brandau got the facial bruising in the photos because John Coffin punched her in the face and threw her against a wall when he came into the garage, Zack said.

Lutz got the injuries to his head when he was shocked with a Taser during the fight, then knocked unconscious with three strikes to the head with the butt of that Taser gun, Zack said.

John Coffin's trial is expected to end today.

Last modified: March 13. 2007 3:35AM
And the final outcome:

Judge acquits John Coffin on 5 felony charges; Coffin gets time served on 6th.

SARASOTA -- John Coffin won't spend any more time in jail for beating up two sheriff's deputies inside his house, striking one in the head with a Taser gun he took from the other.

Circuit Judge Rick De Furia said at Coffin's trial Tuesday that he doesn't condone the violence against the deputies.

But Coffin, 56, had a right to defend his family and property because the deputies had no right to be in Coffin's house in the first place, De Furia said.

"Law enforcement was responsible for the chain of events here," De Furia said. "I think in situations like this, officers become so frustrated they go beyond what the law allows them to do."

The fight started when Coffin heard his wife screaming in pain, went into the garage and saw two deputies arresting her on the floor.

The deputies were trying to serve Coffin with civil papers that had been given five days earlier. They had entered the garage even though they did not have a search warrant or arrest warrant.

And they arrested Coffin's wife, Cynthia, 50, on obstruction charges even though she had no obligation to follow their orders to bring her husband outside.

"The most critical is the fact the officers broke the law by stopping the garage door from going down," and then entering the garage, De Furia said.

A jury was picked for the trial Monday. But the judge granted a motion by Coffin's attorneys, Derek Byrd and Brett McIntosh, and acquitted John Coffin on five of six felony charges Tuesday morning.

Coffin pleaded no contest to the remaining charge of taking a Taser gun from one of the deputies during the fight.

Before handing down the sentence, De Furia asked how long Coffin spent in jail after his initial arrest.

"You spent eight days in the Sarasota County jail," De Furia said. "That's your sentence. No probation."

Relatives applauded, and Coffin walked out of the courthouse with only a $358 bill for court costs. The sentence surprised even defense attorneys, who had suggested De Furia sentence Coffin to probation.

Prosecutors had asked for more than a year of prison time because of "the totality of the case" and the injuries to deputies James Lutz and Stacy Ferris, whose name is now Stacy Brandau.

The two deputies testified about their injuries Tuesday -- three blows to the head with the butt of the Taser gun knocked Lutz unconscious.

"I just ask that he doesn't get away with this," Brandau told the judge.

Assistant State Attorney Jeff Young told the judge the case "could have been over in five seconds" if the Coffins "had simply come out and cooperated."

"That is a man who took it upon himself to beat up two police officers," Young said.

De Furia said that while he believed the deputies' mistakes were not intentional, the Coffins had every right to lock doors, try to close their garage door and not cooperate.

"What took place in the house was unfortunate," De Furia said, "but Mr. Coffin ... had a right to resist."

Last modified: March 14. 2007 5:36AM
27661  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: November 02, 2007, 12:49:14 PM
Venezuela: Security Takes a Backseat
The new Italian ambassador to Venezuela made headlines this week after he put President Hugo Chavez on the spot by expressing concern about the country's poor security situation. The same day, Chavez also met with incoming U.S. Ambassador Patrick Duddy, who urged greater bilateral cooperation on combating drug traffickers operating in the country.

Given that Venezuela has a large Italian expatriate population and that approximately half of the drugs shipped through the country are destined for the United States, both Rome and Washington have a strong interest in Venezuela's security situation. The country's violent trends have little chance of reversing, however, unless the government makes a more serious effort to intervene.

Although Chavez rarely publicly discusses the country's soaring crime rates and official statistics on crime are closely guarded, the Venezuelan capital has become extremely violent. Indeed, recent estimates of its homicide rate -- if accurate -- would place Caracas among the most dangerous cities in the world. These estimates are speculative, however, since the Venezuelan government stopped releasing official homicide rates in 2003 -- after the number of killings reached nearly 12,000 countrywide that year. Unofficial estimates for 2006 put the number of homicides in Caracas alone at 6,000 -- more than 100 slayings per 100,000 inhabitants. (By comparison, in 2006 there were 47.3 slayings per 100,000 inhabitants in Detroit, the U.S. city with the highest homicide rate.)

And the homicide rate is just one of Venezuela's security problems. Since the government curtailed its cooperation with foreign governments on counternarcotics, South American drug traffickers face less police scrutiny in Venezuela than they do in other countries. Venezuela, for example, suspended its cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2005 after Caracas accused the agency of spying on behalf of the United States. International cooperation is crucial in dealing with issues such as drug trafficking, given that illegal shipments pass through multiple borders on their way from production to market.

Compounding the problems is the country's endemic corruption, which in the law enforcement realm extends from police on the street to the courts. In an October interview, Venezuelan Attorney General Isaias Rodriguez tried to downplay claims that the country's judicial system is incapable of effectively dealing with drug traffickers, though he acknowledged corruption among security forces, prosecutors and judges.

Security is not much better outside the capital, especially along Venezuela's extensive land border with Colombia, where guerrilla groups have been known to move freely between the two countries. The U.S. government, in fact, has warned Americans not to travel within a 50-mile area along the entire Venezuelan-Colombian border. Official corruption is a particular problem in this area as well, considering that one of the most notorious Venezuelan groups linked to Colombian guerrillas -- the Cartel of the Suns -- allegedly is run by Venezuelan National Guard generals. (The group's name comes from the insignia worn on the officers' uniforms.) According to DEA estimates, the group moves up to 5 tons of illegal drugs per month from Colombia into Venezuela. Venezuela has long been used as a transshipment hub for narcotics smuggling and as a gateway in the Americas for illegal aliens attempting to reach the United States from Asia and the Middle East.

In addition to drug trafficking, organized crime groups in Venezuela have found kidnapping to be an increasingly lucrative business. According to the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, more than 1,000 kidnappings were reported from August 2006 to August 2007, and at least 45 foreigners were kidnapped during the first eight months of 2007. This is a particular threat in a country where foreign energy companies have a large presence, though kidnapping gangs do not appear to target one business sector over another. Any company that likely carries kidnapping and recovery insurance on its employees is considered a choice target. Several high-profile kidnapping incidents in recent years have led to demonstrations by citizens demanding greater security. One of the most widely reported cases among Venezuela's Italian community -- and reportedly an incident that the Italian ambassador discussed with Chavez -- was the March 2006 abduction and killing of a prominent Italian businessman. The incident was followed just a few days later by the killing of three Canadian-Venezuelan children who had been kidnapped in February. The children were slain when their family was unable to pay the multimillion-dollar ransom demanded by the kidnappers.

There also is a political aspect to kidnapping cases, as the wealthy victims are often viewed as capitalists -- people considered at odds with the goals and ideals of Chavez's Bolivarian Revolution. Because of this, victims and their families often do not receive sympathetic treatment from the authorities when such crimes are reported.

So far, the Chavez government's efforts to counter the trends of violence throughout the country have been minimal. Investigation of such crimes has been characterized by the U.S. Embassy as "haphazard and ineffective." In the case of high-profile killings, authorities reportedly round up suspects quickly, but rarely produce evidence linking any of the detainees to the crime. Only a small percentage of criminals is ever tried and convicted. Moreover, violent crimes frequently occur during daylight hours and even in public areas such as Caracas' Maiquetía Airport and in popular tourist attractions, such as the Avila National Park.

Further complicating matters are reports that security forces and parts of the judicial system have become increasingly politicized as a result of the government's practice of keeping and promoting officials for their loyalty to Chavez's Bolivarian ideals rather than their interest in, or their ability to fight, crime. These politicized officials also have hesitated to root out police corruption or crack down on criminals in poor areas -- where most of them live and operate -- because such areas are bastions of Chavez supporters. Additionally, the recent crackdowns on student protesters suggest the government is heavily focused on using security forces to quell its opposition rather than to fight crime. In July, Chavez chided student groups protesting constitutional reforms aimed at consolidating his power, calling the students patsies of the United States. On Nov. 1, police dispersed student demonstrators with tear gas and water cannons. Should the protests continue, the government will dedicate even more of its security forces to this area.

Many of Venezuela's security problems are not unique in Latin America. Police corruption, drug trafficking and kidnapping are prevalent elsewhere, particularly in Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico. However, the government's weak response to date and its focus on suppressing any opposition suggest the security environment in Venezuela will continue to deteriorate.
27662  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / EB-5 Visas on: November 02, 2007, 12:42:47 PM

Got $500,000? The U.S. Awaits
Government's EB-5 Program
Offers Foreign Investors
Green Cards for Job Creation
November 2, 2007; Page B1

An obscure immigration program is pumping millions of dollars from foreign investors into dilapidated inner cities and employment-starved rural areas across the U.S. These investors aren't focused on financial returns, however: They're in it to get green cards.

In recent years, a growing list of enterprises -- in agriculture, tourism, renewable energy, education and transportation -- have benefited from a little-known federal program known as EB-5, or the immigrant-investor visa. It offers a tantalizing trade-off for foreigners who want to establish residency in the U.S.: For a $500,000 investment in a distressed area, a foreigner and his immediate family become eligible for conditional green cards. They become permanent a few years later upon evidence that the investment has created at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers.

Korean investors tour a Kansas ethanol plant they helped fund in an EB-5 program.
The program, administered by U.S. Immigration & Citizenship Services, essentially encourages wealthy foreigners to buy their way into the U.S. Put in place in the early 1990s, it is widely regarded as a response to efforts by Canada and Australia in the late 1980s to attract investors keen to immigrate. But the U.S. program is considered the most stringent because it requires proof that the investment has produced new jobs before permanent residency is granted.

The U.S. program lately has become popular among investors from South Korea, China, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia desperate to bypass the uncertainty and years-long wait to gain residency through traditional means. Helping fuel the new interest are immigration attorneys and others aggressively marketing the program abroad.

"The opportunity is truly beautiful to individuals who want to live and contribute their energy in the United States," says Morrie Berez, chief of the EB-5 program at the immigration agency. "And it creates economic growth and especially jobs for Americans." The job-creation aspect of the program appears to have neutralized criticism from anti-immigration activists.

Under the program, developers sometimes working with local officials apply to the Immigration agency for "regional center" status, typically in a distressed area. Once approved, a regional center markets its program overseas to investors who become equity partners.

The projects promise only modest returns. But that isn't the main concern for investors such as Sungtae Kim, a Korean software entrepreneur who wanted to come to the U.S. to give his daughters better opportunities. After failing to qualify for a U.S. alien-worker program, he heard about EB-5 from a friend in Los Angeles. Soon, he was in touch with the Seoul branch of a U.S. law firm that specializes in the program.

After attending a seminar in Seoul to learn about the regional centers, Mr. Kim decided to put $500,000 that he had saved over 20 years from a software business into a dairy farm in Veblen, S.D. "I wanted to give my two daughters a better life and good education," he says. Two weeks ago, Mr. Kim and his family moved to a Los Angeles suburb known for its strong public schools. Mr. Kim, who has never visited a dairy farm, hopes to once he is settled.

Yong Nan Park invested in a South Dakota dairy farm, enabling her to immigrate to California with her family.
South Dakota, one of the first states to tap into the program in 2004, credits the immigrant-investor scheme with reviving its dairy industry and starting a new meat-packing sector. The state had been trying to attract foreign investment in its dairy industry before it discovered the EB-5 program. It got regional-center qualification for a swath of 45 contiguous counties in the eastern part of the state. In two years, the program has helped fund new dairy farms worth $90 million and beef-processing plants valued at $52 million, state officials say.

"Suddenly we have extra capital to accelerate development and help South Dakota farmers who want to go large-scale but lack capital," says Joop Bollen, who oversees the state's program, which has attracted European and Asian investors.

In the financial year that ended Sept. 30, the immigration agency awarded 803 conditional EB-5 green cards to investors and their families, up from 247 in 2004. Mr. Berez hopes by 2011 to be issuing all 10,000 of the green cards available each year under the program -- a potential of nearly $2 billion in annual investments, he estimates.

Around the U.S., 17 regional centers under the EB-5 program have attracted about $500 million in foreign funds. Projects include dairy farms in Iowa, nut farms in California, schools and health-care facilities in Alabama, ethanol plants in Texas, and a film and TV production studio in Pennsylvania. Mr. Berez's team is considering several more areas.

Tom Willis, chief executive of Conestoga Energy Partners LLC in Liberal, Kan., recently guided Korean investors around a new ethanol plant in which they are minority partners. "Their dollars allow us to create jobs, a greater tax base and grow our schools," Mr. Willis says. "You hear about people leaving rural America...This helps us control our destiny."

The program isn't a slam-dunk for applicants. The U.S. government temporarily suspended it in 1998 to tighten up procedures that enabled some investors to disburse less money than agreed. Mr. Berez, a former official at the Government Accountability Office, was charged with overhauling the program in 2002. Now, investors must put up the entire $500,000 before they can file their green-card petition.

To get his family to the U.S., French law professor Eric Canal-Forgues, a consultant to the World Trade Organization, put his life savings into a Philadelphia regional center that involved partially financing Comcast Corp.'s new international headquarters.

"I have gotten from Europe everything I want," says the 45-year-old Paris native. "The United States is a place where you can do many things." He wants to further his career and raise his two young children as fluent English speakers.

It took Mr. Canal-Forgues almost a year to amass the paperwork required, which included showing the origins of the $500,000 he was committing, his tax returns, pay stubs and employment contracts. In May, he received his conditional approval from Immigration, pending an interview at the U.S. embassy in Paris. He hopes to move to the U.S. with his family by mid-2008.

"The EB-5 program is one of the most complex and heavily scrutinized immigration programs," says Stephen Yale-Loehr, Mr. Canal-Forgues's attorney and an expert on EB-5 visas. "Investors must show every cent was earned legally."

The Immigration agency also needs to ensure terrorists aren't buying their way into the U.S. And, given U.S. sanctions, an Iranian EB-5 applicant under consideration must prove that he didn't make money from doing business with that country's government.

In Seattle, critics have complained that revitalization of an area south of downtown has raised rents for industrial tenants. But the program hasn't drawn notable criticism from immigration-restrictionist groups. "If jobs are being created in exchange for visas through a process you can verify, I don't think we can object to it," says Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which calls for a clampdown on both legal and illegal immigration. But he suggests that the program should "remain small in scope."

Competition for EB-5 dollars is intensifying as more areas win regional-center designations. Venture capitalists William Hungerford and Tim Milbrath have been traveling to the Middle East seeking investors for a fund that will invest in extended-stay hotels, private clinics and other infrastructure in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. South Dakota's Mr. Bollen recently put in calls to Argentina and Brazil, hoping to tap into a new pool of foreigners eager to live in the U.S. "We want to continue to pick as much fruit from the EB-5 tree as we can," he says.

Write to Miriam Jordan at

Saudi Arabia?  Elsewhere in the Middle East?!? tongue angry
27663  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: November 02, 2007, 11:14:08 AM
How Europe Can Pressure Iran
November 2, 2007

The U.S. ratcheted up the financial pressure against Tehran last week, unilaterally slapping sanctions on Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp, three state-owned banks, and a number of key officials for their involvement in the regime's terrorist financing and WMD-related activities. Realizing the leverage that American financial markets give Washington, senior U.S. Treasury officials have been telling global financial institutions in the last couple of years that doing business with Iran could do great harm to their reputation and complicate their access to the U.S. market. As a result, a number of global institutions -- including Switzerland's UBS and Credit Suisse and Germany's Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank -- have either terminated or dramatically reduced business with Iran.

There are limits to this unilateral strategy, though. Companies and financial institutions that do not operate in the U.S. may be willing to ignore Washington's warnings. But being cut off from New York and the world's other leading financial capital, London, is a risk not too many of these firms would be willing to take. Few could afford to relocate to a smaller financial hub and miss out on the opportunities only the City of London or New York could offer just to continue doing business with Iran.

It is therefore encouraging that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown immediately backed Washington, noting that "we endorse the U.S. administration's efforts to apply further pressure on the Iranian regime." But while public support from the U.S.'s closest ally will undoubtedly help bolster the impact of the unilateral actions, the U.K. could do far more.

If the British government were to send a similarly strong warning to banks, it could dramatically increase the financial pressure on Iran. More than 550 international banks and 170 global security houses have a presence in London. Between $50-100 billion of Middle Eastern money will enter London in the next few years, estimates Peter Weinberg, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs International. Coordinated visits by top U.S. and U.K. officials to major financial institutions could be a particularly effective way to get the message across that business with Iran is risky so long as Tehran ignores the U.N. Security Council orders about its nuclear program. A joint U.S.-U.K. effort might carry particular weight coming on the heels of the Financial Action Task Force's Oct. 11 statement on Iran. Founded by the G7, the 34-country body instructed financial institutions to use "enhanced due diligence" when dealing with Iran to avoid inadvertently contributing to terrorist financing and money laundering. As U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said after Washington's latest step against Tehran: "In dealing with Iran, it is nearly impossible to know one's customer and be assured that one is not unwittingly facilitating the regime's reckless conduct."

While the U.K. wields particularly powerful tools, there may also be other European countries now willing and ready to ramp up financial and economic pressure against Iran. Ideally, this would be done at the European Union level -- something that French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been pushing for. But in the absence of a third U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing additional sanctions, many EU countries, primarily Germany, Austria and Spain, appear reluctant. The French have thus suggested that those European countries willing to act need not wait for unanimity. In fact, France has already announced that it is pressing large French companies to refrain from investing in Iran.

A combined initiative by the U.S. and individual European countries to press Iran may strengthen the hand of those in Tehran arguing for accommodation. It would also be a good way to show China, Russia and laggard European governments that with or without them, action will be taken against Iran. If they are dissatisfied with this approach, they should first spell out a realistic alternative that could bring Iran to suspend its enrichment program.

Mr. Clawson is the Washington Institute's deputy director for research and author of several books on Iran. Mr. Jacobson, a senior fellow in the institute's Stein Program on Terrorism, Intelligence, and Policy, previously served as a senior advisor in the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

27664  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 02, 2007, 10:54:24 AM
'This Makes Voter Fraud Easier'
November 2, 2007; Page A12

Sen. Hillary Clinton was asked during a debate this week if she supported New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. At first she seemed to endorse the idea, then claimed, "I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Governor Spitzer is trying to do it."

The next day she took a firmer stand (sort of) by offering general support for Gov. Spitzer's approach, but adding that she hadn't studied his specific plan. She should, and so should the rest of us. It stops just short of being an engraved invitation for people to commit voter fraud.

The background here is the National Voter Registration Act, commonly known as "Motor Voter," that President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993. It required all states to offer voter registration to anyone getting a driver's license. One simply fills out a form and checks a box stating he is a citizen; he is then registered and in most states does not have to show any ID to vote.

But no one checks if the person registering to vote is indeed a citizen. That greatly concerns New York election officials, who processed 245,000 voter registrations at DMV offices last year. "It would be [tough to catch] if someone wanted to . . . get a number of people registered who aren't citizens and went ahead and got them drivers' licenses," says Lee Daghlian, spokesman for New York's Board of Elections. Assemblywoman Ginny Fields, a Long Island Democrat, warns that the state's "Board of Elections has no voter police" and that the state probably has upwards of 500,000 illegal immigrants old enough to drive.

The potential for fraud is not trivial, as federal privacy laws prevent cross-checking voter registration rolls with immigration records. Nevertheless, a 1997 Congressional investigation found that "4,023 illegal voters possibly cast ballots in [a] disputed House election" in California. After 9/11, the Justice Department found that eight of the 19 hijackers were registered to vote.

Under pressure from liberal groups, some states have even abandoned the requirement that people check a citizenship box to be put on the voter rolls. Iowa has told local registrars they should register people even if they leave the citizenship box blank. Maryland officials wave illegal immigrants through the registration process, prompting a Justice Department letter warning they may be helping people violate federal law.

Gov. Spitzer is treading perilously close to that. Despite a tactical retreat this week -- he says he will only give illegal immigrants a license that isn't valid for airplane travel and entering federal buildings -- Mr. Spitzer has taken active steps to obliterate any distinctions between licenses given to citizens and non-citizens.

In a memo last Sept. 24, he ordered county clerks to remove the visa expiration date and "temporary visitor" stamp on licenses issued to non-citizens who are legally in the country. A Spitzer spokeswoman explained the change was made because the "temporary" label was "pejorative," given that some visitors might eventually stay in the U.S. Under fire, Mr. Spitzer backed down this week, delaying the cancellation of the "temporary visitor" stamps through the end of next year.

But he has not retreated from another new bizarre policy. It used to be that county clerks who process driver's licenses were banned from giving out voter registration forms to anyone without a Social Security number. No longer. Lou Dobbs of CNN reported that an Oct. 19 memo from the state DMV informed the clerks they don't "have any statutory discretion to withhold a motor voter form." What's more, the computer block preventing a DMV clerk from transmitting a motor voter registration without a Social Security number was removed.

Gov. Spitzer's office told me the courts have upheld their position on Social Security numbers. Sandy DePerno, the Democratic clerk of Oneida County, says that makes no sense. "This makes voter fraud easier," she told me.

While states such as New York are increasing the risk of such fraud, a half-dozen states have recently adopted laws requiring voters to offer proof of identity or citizenship before casting a ballot. A federal commission, co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, gave such laws a big boost in 2005 when it called for a nationwide policy requiring a photo ID before voting.

Mr. Carter has personal knowledge of why such laws are needed. He recounts in his book "Turning Point" how his 1962 race for Georgia State Senate involved a local sheriff who had cast votes for the dead. It took a recount and court challenge before Mr. Carter was declared the winner.

Measures that curb voter fraud on the one hand and encourage it on the other will be central to the 2008 election. The Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of Indiana's photo ID law next spring, while lawsuits challenging Gov. Spitzer's moves will be in New York state courts.

Despite her muddled comments this week, there's no doubt where Mrs. Clinton stands on ballot integrity. She opposes photo ID laws, even though they enjoy over 80% support in the polls. She has also introduced a bill to force every state to offer no-excuse absentee voting as well as Election Day registration -- easy avenues for election chicanery. The bill requires that every state restore voting rights to all criminals who have completed their prison terms, parole or probation.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen notes that Mrs. Clinton is such a polarizing figure that she attracts between 46% and 49% support no matter which Republican candidate she's pitted against -- even libertarian Ron Paul. She knows she may have trouble winning next year. Maybe that's why she's thrown herself in with those who will look the other way as a new electoral majority is formed -- even if that includes non-citizens, felons and those who suddenly cross a state line on Election Day and decide they want to vote someplace new.

Mr. Fund, a columnist for, is author of a forthcoming revised edition of "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy." (Encounter).

27665  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: November 02, 2007, 10:51:08 AM
Mukasey and the Democrats
Their real target is antiterror interrogation.

Friday, November 2, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Democrats welcomed Michael Mukasey as a "consensus choice" for Attorney General only weeks ago, but incredibly his confirmation is now an open question. The judge's supposed offense is that he has refused to declare "illegal" a single interrogation technique that the CIA has used on rare occasions against mass murderers.

All of the Democratic Presidential candidates have come out against the distinguished judge, and Democrats on the Judiciary Committee appear ready to block his nomination from even reaching the Senate floor. This is remarkable not for what it says about Judge Mukasey but for what it reveals about Democrats and the war on terror. They'd disqualify a man of impeccable judicial temperament and credentials merely because he's willing to give U.S. interrogators the benefit of the legal doubt before he has top-secret clearance.

Could there be a clearer demonstration of why voters don't trust Democrats with national security? In the war against al Qaeda, interrogation and electronic surveillance are our most effective weapons. Yet Democrats have for years waged a guerrilla war against both of these tools, trying to impose procedural and legal limits that can only reduce their effectiveness. Judge Mukasey is merely collateral damage in this larger effort.

Their immediate political figleaf is that the judge won't pre-emptively declare "waterboarding," or simulated drowning, to be illegal. Mr. Mukasey has declared that torture "violates the law and the Constitution, and the President may not authorize it as he is no less bound by constitutional restrictions than any other government official." But he refuses to say whether waterboarding meets the statutory definition of torture based only on "hypothetical facts and circumstances."
This seems fair enough given that he has not been briefed on any of the classified interrogation details (as top Congressional Democrats have been). It also seems wise given that, if confirmed, he will have to read and consider legal memoranda already approved by Justice Department officials on the same subject. How can he declare himself before he's read them?

Most important, his discretion serves the American people by helping to keep our enemies in some doubt about what they will face if they are captured. The reason that CIA interrogation methods are kept highly classified is so that enemy combatants can't use them as a resistance manual. If terrorists know what's coming, they can prepare for it beforehand and better resist.

What's really at stake here is whether U.S. officials are going to have the basic tools required to extract information from America's enemies. As CIA Director Michael Hayden pointed out in a speech this week, "the best sources of information on terrorists and their plans are the terrorists themselves."

Mr. Hayden added that fewer than 100 captives "have gone through the interrogation program since it began in 2002 with the capture of Abu Zubaydah," a top aide to Osama bin Laden and 9/11 plotter. Yet those interrogations have generated "thousands of intelligence reports." More than 70% of the human intelligence that makes it into formal U.S. intelligence estimates "is based on detainee information."

As for waterboarding, it is mostly a political sideshow. The CIA's view seems to be that some version of waterboarding is effective in breaking especially tough cases quickly. Press reports say it has been used only against a few high-value al Qaeda operatives like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Zubaydah. As former CIA Director George Tenet points out in his book "At the Center of the Storm," KSM and others never would have talked about "imminent threats against the American people" had they not been dealt with harshly. "I believe that none of these success would have happened if we had had to treat KSM like a white-collar criminal," he writes.

If Democrats want to strip the CIA of this tool, then they ought to legislate it openly, not make law under the table through the confirmation process. Congress has twice had the chance to ban or criminalize waterboarding, but it declined to do so in both the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006. And not for lack of trying: In debating the Military Commissions Act, Ted Kennedy offered a detailed amendment that specifically prohibited waterboarding, as well as other coercive interrogation methods; it lost on the Senate floor, 46-53.

The political calculation here is clear: Democrats want to pander to the antiwar war base of their party that doubts we are even in a war, and in any case wants to treat terrorist detainees no differently than a common street felon. Yet they don't want to be responsible for passing a statute that blocks CIA attempts to gain information that could prevent an imminent terrorist attack. So they dodge and employ ambiguous language that the Justice Department must then interpret. And then they try to run Judge Mukasey out of town because he won't do their political work for them.

In their less cynical moments, some Democrats will admit that a technique like waterboarding may prevent a future attack in extreme cases. "We ought to be reasonable about this," said one Senator at a hearing in 2004. "I think there are probably very few people in this room or in America who would say that torture should never ever be used, particularly if thousands of lives are at stake. . . . It is easy to sit back in the armchair and say that torture can never be used, but when you are in the foxhole it is a very different deal. And I respect, I think we all respect the fact that the President is in the foxhole every day." He added that all of this should be public in order to have "legitimacy."
That Senator? New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, who recommended Judge Mukasey for Attorney General in the first place. Now Mr. Schumer won't say one way or the other whether the judge has his support. If the Democrats reject Mr. Mukasey, it will tell us they simply aren't serious about the realities of the war on terror.

27666  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: November 02, 2007, 10:45:46 AM
Hillary Reveals Her Inner Self
It's startling. It's still 1993 in there, the year before her fall.

Friday, November 2, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

The story isn't that the Democrats finally took on Hillary Clinton. Nor is it that they were gentlemanly to the point of gingerly and tentative. There was an air of "Please, somebody kill her for me so I can jump in and show high minded compassion at her plight!"

Barack Obama, with his elegance and verbal fluency really did seem like that great and famous political figure from his home state of Illinois--Adlai Sevenson, who was not at all hungry, not at all mean, and operated at a step removed from the grubby game. Mr. Obama is like someone who would write in his diaries, "I shall point out Estes Kefauver's manifold inconsistencies, then to luncheon with Arthur and Marietta."

The odd thing is it's easier to be a killer when you know exactly what you stand for, when you have a real philosophy. The philosophy becomes a platform from which you can strike without ambivalence. Mr. Obama seems born to be mild. But still, that's not the story.

Nor is it that John Edwards seems like a furry animal on a wheel, trying so hard, to the point he's getting a facial tic, and getting nowhere, failing to get his little furry paws on his prey, not knowing you have to get off the wheel to get to the prey. You have to stop the rounded, rote, bromidic phrases, and use a normal language that cannot be ignored.

The story is not that Mrs. Clinton signaled, in attitude and demeanor, who she believes is her most dangerous foe, the great impediment between her and an easy glide to the nomination. Yes, that would be Tim Russert.

The story is that she talked about policy. Not talking points, but policy. In talking about it she seemed, for the first time, to be revealing what's inside.

It was startling. It's 1993 in there. The year before her fall, and rise.

I spent a day going over the transcripts so I could quote at length, but her exchanges are all over, it's a real Google-fest. Here, boiled down, is what she said.

Giving illegal immigrants drivers licenses makes sense because it makes sense, but she may not be for it, but undocumented workers should come out of the shadows, and it makes sense. Maybe she will increase the payroll tax on Social Security beyond its current $97,500 limit, to $200,000. Maybe not. Everybody knows what the possibilities are. She may or may not back a 4% federal surcharge on singles making $150,000 a year and couples making $200,000. She suggested she backed it, said she didn't back it, she then called it a good start, or rather "I support and admire" the person proposing such a tax for his "willingness to take this on."

She has been accused of doubletalk and she has denied it. And she is right. It was triple talk, quadruple talk, Olympic level nonresponsiveness. And it was, even for her, rather heavy and smug. Her husband would have had the sense to look embarrassed as he bobbed and weaved. It was part of his charm. But he was light on his feet. She turns every dance into the polka. And it is that amazing thing, a grim polka.

But the larger point is that her policy approach revealed all the impulses not of the New Centrism but the Old Leftism. Her statements were redolent of the 1990s phrase "command and control." They reflect a bias toward the old tax-raising on people who aren't rich, who aren't protected, the old "my friends and I know best, and we'll fill you dullards in on the details later."
For a few years now I've thought the problem for the Democrats in general but for Mrs. Clinton in particular is not that America is against tax increases. They've seen eight years of big spending, of wars, of spiraling entitlements. They've driven by the mansions of the megarich and have no sympathy for hedge fund/movie producer/cosmetics empire heirs. They sense the system is rigged toward the heavily protected. They sense this because they're not stupid.

The problem for Mrs. Clinton is not that people sense she will raise taxes. It's that they don't think she'll raise them on the real and truly rich. The rich are her friends. They contribute to her, dine with her, have access to her. They have an army of accountants. They're protected even from her.

But she can stick it to others, and in the way of modern liberalism for roughly half a century now one suspects she'll define affluence down. That she would hike taxes on people who make $150,000 a year.

But those "rich"--people who make $200,000 and have two kids and a mortgage and pay local and state taxes in, say, New Jersey--they don't see themselves as rich. Because they're not. They're already carrying too much of the freight.

What Mrs. Clinton revealed the other night was more than an unfortunate persona. What I think she revealed was that her baseline thinking has perhaps not changed that much since the 1990s, when she was a headband wearing, power suited, leftist-who-hadn't-been-wounded-yet. It seemed to me she made it quite possible to assume you know who she'll be making war on. And this--much more than the latest scandal, the Chinatown funny money and the bundling--could, and I think would, engender real opposition down the road. The big chink in her armor is not stylistic, it is about policy. It is about the great baseline question in all political life: Whose ox is being gored?

A quick word here on why the scandals I refer to above do not deter Mrs. Clinton's rise. There are people who've made quite a study of her life and times, and buy every book, from the awful ones such as Ed Klein's to the excellent ones, such as Sally Bedell Smith's recent "For Love of Politics," a carefully researched, data-rich compendium on the Clintons' time in the White House.
People who've studied Mrs. Clinton often ask why her ethical corner cutting and scandals have not caught up with her, why the whole history of financial and fund-raising scandals doesn't slow her rise.

In a funny way she's protected by her reputation. It's so well known it's not news. It doesn't make an impression anymore. People have pointed out her ethical lapses for so long that they seem boring, or impossible to believe. "That couldn't be true or she wouldn't be running for president." This thought collides with "And we already know all this anyway." Her campaign uses the latter to squash the latest: "old news," "cash for rehash."

I've never seen anything quite like this dynamic work in modern politics. But the other night, for the first time, I had the feeling maybe it isn't going to work anymore, or with such deadening consistency.

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father" (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays on
27667  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: November 02, 2007, 10:36:12 AM

Jersey City worker triggerman in Pakistan assassination
Friday, November 2nd 2007

Akhtar Hussain Muawia worked in a Jersey City bodega following his alleged assassination of Shia leader Mahmood Shah in Pakistan in 1997.

The store, run by Muawai’s brother-in-law, is suspected of laundering money for a terror group.

A Jersey City grocery clerk had a secret life before he started stocking shelves: He was a Pakistani assassin wanted for a decade-old murder, law enforcement sources said.

Akhtar Hussain Muawia sneaked into the country under an assumed name less than a year after the murder of a top Shia leader, moved in with his sister and worked in his brother-in-law's Mashaallah Grocery, the sources said.

The NYPD unmasked Muawia several months ago when a 30-year-old civilian analyst discovered his true identity, sources said.

Muawia worshiped at the Sunni muslim mosque in Jersey City.

Muawia was arrested in May as the alleged gunman who killed Shia leader Mahmood Shah in Pakistan in 1997, sources said. He is in federal custody fighting deportation.

It's believed the three-aisle bodega laundered money for the terrorist organization Sunni Sipah-e-Sahaba/Pakistan (SSP).

Muawia was allegedly a favored assassin with the SSP, which has been blamed for the massacres of scores of Pakistani civilians as it pushed a pro-Sunni, anti-American agenda.

An SSP cell was first discovered in New York City in 2003, when investigators raided a Brooklyn apartment and found recruitment documents and membership forms, sources said.

Another SSP member was deported after being caught in 2004 photographing the Brooklyn and Williamsburg bridges.

Federal immigration officials arrested Muawia's brother-in-law, Mumtaz Ahmed, 47, last October, as part of a money-laundering investigation, sources said. Muawia was arrested at the same time and charged with being in the country illegally. Ahmed was eventually deported, but Muawia was let go.

Aside from his brush with immigration, Muawia remained under the radar until the NYPD analyst began piecing together his history in February last year.

By March this year, the Ivy League analyst felt he had pulled together enough information to prove the Jersey City grocery clerk was the wanted assassin.

A month later, the NYPD tracked Muawia to Jersey City, and put him under surveillance. The NYPD contacted the Newark Joint Terrorism Task Force and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which arrested him in early May.
27668  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fred this Sunday on: November 02, 2007, 10:28:53 AM
This Sunday, Fred will be on NBC's Meet the Press as part of their "Meet the Candidates" series. Judging by the questions asked at Tuesday's Democratic Presidential debate any topic could come up: immigration, taxes, national security, even UFOs.

Unlike the debates and the typical news shows, Fred will have time to talk to the American people in a way that doesn't require slick, 10-second sound bites.

What will Fred talk about? The same issues he's talking about when campaigning across the country: securing our borders; ending sanctuary cities; keeping taxes low; taking on the impending entitlement crisis; the protection of life; and abiding by the principles of our Founding Fathers.

Specifically on immigration reform, Fred will continue his fight against letting illegal immigrants get drivers licenses. Hillary Clinton is wrong to allow people who already are breaking the law to get a license that would give them the opportunity to register to vote. Fred will not let lawbreakers continue breaking the law. He has a plan to secure the border and reform the nation's immigration process.

Meet the Press this Sunday will give  Fred another opportunity to show Americans why he's a consistent conservative. Out on the trail one of his most well-received lines is "That's what I was yesterday, that's who I am today, and that's who I will be tomorrow." Unlike other candidates who came late to the conservative movement Fred's track record proves his consistency.

Watch Fred Sunday on NBC.
27669  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Two on: November 02, 2007, 06:57:58 AM

They have fielded a wide array of rifles, including Russian SVDs, Romanian PSLs, domestic Al Kadesihs and Tabuks along with commercial sporting rifles and captured American sniper rifles. For the most part, the SVD, PSL, Al Kadesih and 7.62x39mm Tabuk are not noted for their sterling accuracy. However, inside 400 meters they can be quite deadly.

Items captured from a Jihadist sniper team’s vehicle included a Bushnell laser rangefinder, P35 pistol, grenade and video camera used for intelligence gathering and propaganda. Photo courtesy of the USMC

Optics usually consist of Romanian I.O.R., Yugoslavian Zrak and Chinese PSO-1s with a magnification of 4X. Offering the same magnification as our ACOG, these scopes work quite well at this distance. Indexing a man’s head with their chevron reticle is easily accomplished at 300 meters. So, considering the equipment they have, the urban terrain they are operating in and our troops’ body armor, it makes no sense for the insurgents not to close the distance if they are able.

The insurgents have used an array of 7.62x54R ammunition against our troops. Loads identified as currently being used by insurgent snipers against our troops in Iraq include:

7N1 sniper ammunition. This is a dedicated sniper load developed by the Soviets for their SVD sniper rifle. Loaded with a 152-grain bullet, it has a muzzle velocity of 2,723 fps. This ammunition can only be identified by its packaging, which is clearly marked “SNIPER.”

Jihadist snipers will often choose firing positions shielded by civilians/children to prevent our troops from returning fire. Photo courtesy of the 3/7th Cav.

7N13. This is a steel-core ball round capable of penetrating a 10mm-thick grade-2P steel plate 90 percent of the time at 250 meters and 25 percent of the time at 300 meters.

7B-Z-3 (B-32) API. This is a 165-grain Armor Piercing Incendiary round with a muzzle velocity of 2,673 fps. It is claimed to be cable of penetrating a 10mm-thick grade-2P armor plate 80 percent of the time at 200 meters. B-32 cartridges are identified by a color code consisting of a red band beneath a black bullet tip.

7T2M (T-46) Tracer. This is a 152-grain Tracer load with a muzzle velocity of 2,642 fps. It can be identified by a green color code on the bullet tip.

To provide a higher probability of defeating our troops’ body armor, insurgent snipers often use 7.62x54R Armor Piercing and Armor Piercing Incendiary ammunition. A Special Forces friend commented that every PSL magazine they had captured had been loaded with straight API. I noted that one such captured cartridge he gave me was loaded by Russia’s Factory 17 (Barnaul) in 1981. On November 2, 2006, an insurgent sniper used a 7.62x54R AP round to knock L/Cpl Colin Smith from behind his machine-gun turret.

Although everything appears peaceful here, an insurgent sniper could be lurking in one of the cars, behind a window or on a rooftop. Photo courtesy of Dillard Johnson

Smith’s unit was leaving a rural settlement on the edge of Karma, near Fallujah in Iraq’s Anbar Province. They were climbing back into their vehicles after searching several houses when a single shot rang out. Smith, who was peering from behind a gun shield, was hit in the head. The 7.62mm AP round penetrated his Kevlar, passed through his skull and was recovered. Although Smith survived, he fell into a coma. The sniper took the shot from a minimum of 150 yards away using a canal as an obstacle. After firing the shot, he disappeared.

In addition to the 7.62x54R sniper rifles, the insurgents also field 7.62x39mm Tabuks. A domestically produced long-barreled Kalashnikov DMR, the Tabuk was manufactured with assistance from the Serb arms manufacturer Zastava. A friend, LTC Kendrick McCormick, while training Iraqi forces in Iraq, tested an example in unfired condition and shared his results with me.
Firing prone off sandbags at 100 meters using a Russian 6x42mm scope and Chinese-produced steel-core ball ammunition manufactured by Factory 9141 in 1979, he found the weapon capable of posting consistent two-inch groups. He felt that hitting a man-size target at 400 meters would be well within the capabilities of the weapon in the hands of an experienced shooter. This is quite acceptable accuracy for a weapon of this type. Ammunition in this caliber commonly used by insurgent snipers is standard M43-type steel-core ball. Exterior ballistics of this round are fairly poor, so it is best deployed at relatively short ranges.

Despite making a good shot, a sniper failed to kill Marine Pfc. Joshua Hanson when his 7.62mm bullet was stopped by Hanson’s SAPI plate. Photo courtesy of the USMC

In addition to the common Iraqi, there are also experienced foreign snipers operating with the insurgents, some of whom are quite good. The most talked about are the Chechens. Highly regarded due to their experience fighting the Federal Russian Army, they are a dangerous foe. Remember, a Jihad is being waged against the West by radical Muslims, so Jihadists may be of any nationality. As an example, SFC Dillard Johnson and SSG Jared Kennedy of C Troop 3/7 Cav engaged in a duel with an enemy sniper in Salman Pak on December 14, 2005.

At a range of 852 meters, the insurgent put a 7.62x54R round within six inches of SFC Johnson’s head. Smacking on the wall behind him, the round forced him to crawl to another position. Luckily, Johnson was able to locate the insurgent’s position and replied with an M14-based DMR. Adjusting his fire, Johnson hit him with his second shot, while SSG Kennedy killed the insurgent’s spotter with a bigbore Barrett rifle. The insurgent sniper SFC Johnson killed was not Iraqi but rather Syrian. Equipped with a Romanian PSL topped with a commercial German scope, he was suspected of killing more than 20 coalition soldiers.

One important aspect of the Jihadist sniping strategy that should not be overlooked is their value for propaganda purposes. It is the norm for Jihadist snipers in Iraq to videotape their operations for propaganda use on the Internet. Their desire is to arouse coverage by the international media. A friend currently working in Iraq made the comment, “They don’t care about killing soldiers as much as they want the publicity. They want their five minutes of fame to get their message out. Remember, propaganda is the terrorist’s friend.”

(Left) Insurgents often use API ammunition, identified with a black-and-red tip, to enhance their chance of defeating our troops’ body armor. (Right) The 7.62x54R round, in its various loadings, is the workhorse cartridge for insurgent snipers in Iraq. The cartridge shown is a 7N1 sniper load. Photos by Emily K. Fortier

That they are indeed starting to get their message out can be seen by the article “Sniper Attacks Adding Peril to U.S. Troops in Iraq” on the front page of the New York Times published just three days before the November 2006 election. Most of the world believes Americans have a very short attention span and no stomach for body bags. The Jihadists believe that if, having survived the initial U.S. military onslaught, they can successfully play the Vietnam card by keeping U.S. casualties in the news, the American public will cave and they will win. Snipers, especially with the recent Democrat victory, are becoming an important part of this strategy.

Gunners on armored vehicles are favorite targets of insurgent snipers, who attempt to get close enough to take a head shot. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army

Although our enemy is using snipers to a larger and more effective extent then previously, the problem is not something our military cannot handle. In actuality, our troops have been doggedly hunting them down and killing them. Just today I spoke via telephone with one of our snipers in Iraq. He had recently engaged in a duel with three Islamic snipers and killed all of them. Although his story is not one you will see in the liberal media, you can be proud to know our troops are quietly going about their work, making the world a better place for all of us, 175 grains at a time.
27670  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Insurgent Sniping on: November 02, 2007, 06:56:54 AM
Insurgent Sniping In Iraq
A look at how the insurgents are operating and their weapons
By David Fortier

It was only a matter of time before the insurgents in Iraq began to realize the potential of properly employed snipers.

Although U.S. troops have faced snipers in Iraq for years, as of late the danger posed by Jihadist snipers has been growing. Photo by Emily K. Fortier

In stark contrast to merely rattling away with a Kalashnikov in the direction of the infidels—in the belief that “If Allah wills it,” the bullets will fly true”—in recent months insurgent snipers have been more successful at dropping American troops with carefully aimed rifle fire.

In doing so, they have made the lives of our fighting men much more dangerous and stressful. While not classically trained in the Western sense, this new crop of insurgent snipers has nonetheless proven to be adept at firing one well-aimed shot and then displacing before they are located. News of the growing threat of insurgent snipers first spread on the Internet and eventually became a feature story on the front page of the New York Times. As the threat is indeed very real, I felt that it is an appropriate time to share some information I have collected over the past few years, along with my own thoughts on the matter.

As Americans, we have our own opinions on what constitutes both a sniper and sniping. Our Western view demands that a real sniper be school trained in the classical sense. Equipped with a heavy-barreled, bolt-action precision rifle topped with a high-magnification optic, he has the ability to reach 1,000 yards or more. He is trained to estimate distances, read wind/mirage and drills hitting targets far beyond the range of an ordinary rifleman. In addition, his stealth and fieldcraft skills are carefully honed to the point that, properly “ghillied up,” he can move virtually unseen. The end result is a warrior with the ability to spot and engage targets at astonishing distances while remaining undetected. In the Western mind, the longer the successful shot, the more impressive the sniper.

One sniper rifle very commonly employed by insurgent snipers is the Romanian PSL. A simple design, it is capable of acceptable accuracy. Photo by Emily K. Fortier

While there is nothing wrong with this now-traditional Western view, in reality it is just one take on sniping. Keep in mind, the nuts and bolts of sniping is to merely eliminate key targets and/or demoralize and drive fear into the enemy through the use of a rifle. While sniping equipment has changed drastically over the years, the art itself is the same as it was 100 years ago. Its crux is to locate a target without being seen, eliminate it with a single well-placed shot that seems to come from nowhere, then disappear, leaving a frustrated enemy behind who does not know where/when you will strike next. The insurgents in Iraq, despite their deficiencies in equipment and training, have learned to do just that.

How have they managed to accomplish this? Simply put, they have decided not to play by our rules, and in doing so they have turned their weakness into strength. Rather than trying to snipe at our troops at long range, they have instead elected to dramatically close the distance. Through stealth and subterfuge, the Jihadists are often closing with their targets to increase the probability of a successful shot. This allows them to ensure a hit on their chosen target, place their round to bypass our troops’ body-armor hardplates and film the shooting for propaganda purposes.

Spotted while attempting to collect information, an insurgent sniper team using this car was killed by Marine snipers. Note the video camera and captured M40A1 sniper rifle. Photo courtesy of the USMC

One method they have been employing successfully in urban areas is to use a vehicle as a mobile hide. This allows them to move undetected into position to take a shot, then immediately afterward disappear unnoticed into traffic. Typically, a car is modified to both hide the shooter and provide him with a firing/observation port. As an example, in one case a vehicle was disguised to look like it was simply transporting rolled-up blankets. Loaded with these, it could pass through a checkpoint after a quick once-over, as the soldiers/police wouldn’t make the driver unload his entire cargo.

However, beneath the blanket cargo was a hidden space containing a sniper with his weapon. A string allowed him to lower/raise one side of the rear bumper. With the bumper lowered, a hole cut in the car’s bodywork provided a port for the sniper to observe and fire from. In another instance a car was modified by having a hidden compartment added beneath the floor/trunk, between the frame rails.

Another sniper rifle fielded by the insurgents is the 7.62x39mm Tabuk. Built in Iraq with Serb assistance, it is a simple DMR based upon the RPK. Photo courtesy of LTC Kendrick McCormick

This was just large enough to allow a sniper to lie in it with his rifle. Sometimes a tail light will be removed or modified to provide an observation/firing port for a hidden sniper.

When using this method, the driver, who also acts as the spotter, plays an important role. As the sniper has a very limited field of view/fire, the driver must locate the target and then maneuver the car, without being noticed, to provide a clear shot for the sniper. In some instances, once the car is parked the driver will exit the vehicle and stand next to the trunk, where he can observe the area while speaking to the sniper hidden in the vehicle.

There have been occasions in which a third insurgent is used to bring a soldier into the kill zone. As an example, an insurgent posing as a good Samaritan may point out an IED to a patrol to funnel them into the kill zone. Shots of this type are usually taken at very close range with substantial traffic and civilians in the area. This makes it very difficult to locate where the shot came from or to return fire.

Marine Cpl. Daniel M. Greenwald survived being shot in the head thanks to his Kevlar helmet. Photo courtesy of the USMC

The insurgents then choose a specific target. These include, in order of importance to the enemy:

Our snipers. The main threat to a sniper is always another sniper.
Humvee gunners. They can lay down a lot of hate and discontent in a very short amount of time.
Medics. If they shoot the medic, there is no one to treat him or anyone else they shoot.
Chaplains. The insurgents offer a $10,000 bounty for killing a U.S. military religious leader.
Interpreters. This hinders the unit’s ability to interact and gain information from the locals.
Radiomen. This hinders the unit’s ability to communicate, pass on information and request medical assistance.
Leaders. This degrades the unit’s performance and ability to react by removing the men in charge.

All of these targets are easily identified. If a head shot is required, such as on a Humvee gunner sitting behind an armored gunshield, the insurgents will often attempt to get within 50 meters. This allows them to place the shot, even with a 7.62x39mm Tabuk, with surgical accuracy, ensuring a kill. If a body shot is chosen the sniper will aim to by-pass his target’s body armor SAPI hardplates, as these are capable of stopping his round.

Insurgents also improvise sniper rifles and sound suppressors. In this case a Mauser M98 has been fitted with a PSO-1 scope and a home-made suppressor. Photo courtesy of the USMC

To do this, he will shoot a man standing sideways to him in the upper arm. The round will perforate the arm before entering the torso in the region of the armpit. Such a shot will bypass body armor while hitting one or both lungs and possibly the heart. If making such a shot is not possible, the sniper will aim at the center of mass. If the target’s hardplate is not struck, his round will easily penetrate the surrounding Level IIIA soft body armor.

However, if the round is stopped by his target’s hardplate, the sniper hopes the shock of getting shot will at least cause his target to fall down. Insurgent snipers normally videotape their shots for propaganda purposes. So if an American soldier falls down after being shot in his SAPI plate, even if he gets back up it is still useful for propaganda purposes on the Internet.
As an example, Marine L/Cpl Edward Knuth was hit in his SAPI plate while his squad searched a market. Although the bullet was stopped, the impact knocked him to his knees. Another Marine dragged him to cover, then his unit rushed a line of cars, but the sniper had escaped.

Three common 7.62x54R sniper rifles seen in the hands of insurgent snipers in Iraq are, left to right, the Soviet SVD, Iraqi Al Kadesih and Romanian PSL. Photo by Emily K. Fortier

After the shot is taken the sniper team’s vehicle will casually pull out into traffic. In doing so, it will disappear before the target’s comrades even realize what just happened. A spotter, often riding on a Moped to enable him to move easily through traffic, then searches for a new target. When he locates one, he contacts the sniper team and the cycle begins again.

A Jihadist sniper operating in such a manner was recently killed in Baghdad. Luckily, he aroused the suspicion of an American sniper team he was preparing to engage. In the ensuing exchange, the Muslim got off the first shot but missed at a range of 225 yards. The American sniper put an end to the Jihadist’s career by punching a 175-grain Sierra MatchKing through the rear quarterpanel of the car, killing him.

Another Jihadist sniper operating in the Baghdad area plied his trade shooting from overpasses at oncoming military vehicles. An above-average rifleman, he was quite successful for a time in this fashion. His method was fairly simple. He would note what route a convoy or patrol would use in a particular area and pick his position accordingly.

Insurgent snipers try to carefully choose their targets for maximum effect. High on their list are medics, chaplains, interpreters, radiomen, leaders and heavy-weapon operators. Photo courtesy of the USMC

He would choose an overpass that the convoy/patrol would travel directly beneath. Then, as the convoy/patrol approached he would pick out a specific vehicle and fire a single shot at the driver at a range of approximately 150 meters. Considering the angle, speed of the target and deflection from the windshield, this particular sniper was fairly skilled with a rifle. I was told he killed 10 of our soldiers, including four headshots in a single-day, using this method. Equipped with a commercial Remington 700 hunting rifle in .308 Winchester, he was subsequently killed by U.S. forces.

On November 3, 2006, northwest of Baghdad in Karma, Iraq, a Jihadist sniper struck a patrol from the Second Battalion, Eighth Marines. After letting one fire team pass through his kill zone, he placed his scope’s aiming chevron on the right biceps of L/Cpl Juan Valdez-Castillo, the unit’s radio operator. At the shot, Valdez-Castillo fell heavily against a stone wall. The 7.62mm round passed through his right upper arm; entered his side, collapsing his lung; and exited his back.

Upon seeing one of his men down, the unit’s squad leader, Sgt. Jesse E. Leach, sprang forward. Disregarding his own safety, he entered the kill zone, grabbed Valdez-Castillo’s drag handle and hauled him through ankle-deep mud to safety.

With some concealment between them and the sniper, Sgt. Leach administered first aid, and Valdez-Castillo was safely evacuated. The insurgent fired from a distance of not less than 150 meters from an area with numerous civilians in it. He fired a single round, hit exactly at his point of aim and refused to compromise his position by firing more than one shot. After firing, he displaced to a different location and was not found.

A Marine sniper team hunts terrorists in Iraq. Although insurgent snipers are growing more effective, our boys continue to hunt them down and kill them. Photo courtesy of the USMC

The vast majority of shots taken by insurgent snipers in Iraq are at targets within 400 meters. While this may seem relatively short, it is actually in line with sniper actions during both world wars. The shorter ranges also favor the sniper rifles and optics commonly available to the insurgents.
27671  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crimes using knives on: November 02, 2007, 06:48:53 AM
Knives, Not Guns, Have Been Weapon of Choice in Campus Crimes, Study Finds
By Ian Shapira
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 2, 2007; A09

More than 3 percent of 17 million crimes reported from 2000 through 2004 occurred at schools, colleges and universities, with knives being the most commonly used weapon, according to an FBI study released yesterday.

The Crime in Schools and Colleges study, which gathered data from about a third of the nation's law enforcement agencies, showed that the most commonly used weapon in more than 558,000 campus-related crimes over the five-year span was a knife -- not counting fists and feet, which accounted for most of the incidents.

Almost 11,000 incidents included a blade, and more than 3,400 included a firearm.

"I didn't realize how significant that discrepancy was" between knives and guns, said Dave Resch, the FBI's unit chief of behavior analysis. He said that finding surprised him the most. "These kids aren't building these knives in shop class. . . . These knives are coming from somewhere."

The bureau's first study of crime at schools offers a rough portrait of threats facing the country's education staff and students, from those in elementary school to those in college. About 96 percent of the crimes in which an arrest was made were assaults (simple or aggravated) or acts of intimidation.

The largest group arrested for crimes at school for which age was known was 13- to 15-year-olds, accounting for 38 percent of those arrested. More than 76 percent, or 313,556, of those arrested were males. Year after year, October was the month in which the most crimes occurred.
More than half of all campus crimes involved acquaintances. About 7.5 percent involved an attack by a stranger. There were reports of 3,700 such random assaults in 2004, up from 2,301 in 2000.

FBI officials cautioned against drawing conclusions about trends. Although the study shows the number and type of crimes that occurred annually over a five-year period, officials said that the number of law enforcement agencies that participated fluctuated from year to year. The agencies that gave data reflect about 22 percent of the country's population, officials said.

Still, Resch said that attacks by strangers -- such as the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech in April -- are alarming, in part because schools are growing more crowded each year, which can easily fuel tension.
"You get bumped in the hallway 20 years ago, and you kind of know the guy," Resch said. "Now, schools are so much bigger than they used to be."
27672  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: November 02, 2007, 05:28:29 AM
Ex-marine store owner overcomes gun in face and shoots
27673  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: November 02, 2007, 05:23:20 AM
"It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant
period, a great Nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and
too novel example of a People always guided by an exalted justice
and benevolence."

-- George Washington (Farewell Address, 19 September 1796)

Reference: George Washington: A Collection, W.B. Allen, ed. (522)
27674  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 01, 2007, 09:31:32 PM

Retired Air Force Brigadier General Paul Tibbets, who piloted the B-29 that dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan and hastened the end of World War II has died. He was 92.

Gerry Newhouse, a longtime friend of the family, said that General Tibbets passed away Thursday at his home in Columbus, Ohio. General Tibbets suffered from a variety of ailments, and Newhouse said his health had been in decline in recent months.

Tibbets requested no funeral and no headstone, fearing it would provide a protest site for his detractors, Newhouse said.

As a 30-year-old Air Force Colonel, Tibbets drew the assignment to drop the first atomic bomb on a Japanese city in August 1945, in hopes of ending the war. Barely one year earlier, he assumed command of the new, 509th Composite Group, then stationed at Wendover Field, Utah.

Tibbets was already a combat veteran when he took the reins of the 509th. He had served as a bomber squadron commander in Europe--leading the first B-17 mission over Europe in 1942--and flew combat missions in the Mediterranean Theater. Various accounts described Tibbets as the "best bomber pilot" in the Army Air Corps, and his outstanding record prompted his selection to lead the new unit.

Over the months that followed, Tibbets trained his unit for their nuclear mission, although details of the project remained highly classified. The specially-modified B-29s assigned to the 509th were built to Silverplate specifications, the first aircraft designed to carry nuclear weapons. The B-29s were assembled at a Glenn L. Martin Company plant in Omaha, Nebraska, then delivered to the group before it deployed to the Pacific.

Unlike "conventional" B-29s, the Silverplate models carried no defensive guns or extensive armor plating, and their multiple bomb bays were replaced with a single, 33-foot-long opening, designed to accomodate early nuclear weapons. Tibbets reportedly hand-picked the bombers for modification; he named his own Enola Gay, in honor of his mother.

At 2:45 a.m. (local time) on August 6, 1945, Tibbets was at the controls of the Enola Gay as it lifted off from the 509th's forward base on Tinian, in the Marianas Islands. Five-and-a-half hours later, Tibbets and his crew dropped their weapon, nicknamed "Little Boy" on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The ensuring blast and fire killed an estimated 60,000 Japanese, including military personnel, civilians and a small number of allied POWs imprisoned in the city. Thousands of other Japanese died later, from the long-term effects of radiation exposure.

But the mission acheived its objective. After a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later, Japan capitulated, averting the need for a U.S.-led invasion of the enemy homeland. By some estimates, that operation would have resulted in millions of American and Japanese casualties.

While the decision to use nuclear weapons on Japan grew controversial in the years that followed, General Tibbets--to his ever-lasting credit--expressed no regrets about the mission. As he told an reporter from the Columbus Dispatch two years ago:

“I knew when I got the assignment it was going to be an emotional thing,” Tibbets told the Columbus Dispatch for a story on Aug. 6, 2005, the 60th anniversary of the bomb. “We had feelings, but we had to put them in the background. We knew it was going to kill people right and left. But my one driving interest was to do the best job I could so that we could end the killing as quickly as possible.”

He expressed similar thoughts in a 1975 interview. He described the mission as "his patriotic duty--the right thing to do."

“I’m not proud that I killed 80,000 people, but I’m proud that I was able to start with nothing, plan it and have it work as perfectly as it did,” he said in a 1975 interview.

“You’ve got to take stock and assess the situation at that time. We were at war. ... You use anything at your disposal.”

He added: “I sleep clearly every night.”
Rest in peace, General Tibbets. You will rightfully be remembered as a warrior and a patriot, a man whose willingness to tackle the most difficult of assignments brought and end to a war--and spared millions of lives in the process.

However, it is regrettable that there will be no permanent tomb or headstone to mark the final resting spot of an American hero; unfortunately, those observations about your detractors are painfully correct. Thanks to seven decades of revisionist history and villification, the burial spot of the Enola Gay's pilot would become a gathering point for the kook fringe, lesser men (and women) with no appreciation for your service, rendered in the cause of freedom.
27675  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: November 01, 2007, 11:14:19 AM
Iraqi Islamic Party says, “Al Qaeda is Defeated.”
O1 November 2007
Iraqi Islamic Party: “Al Qaeda is Defeated”

“Al Qaeda in Iraq is defeated,” according to Sheik Omar Jabouri, spokesman for the Iraqi Islamic Party and a member of the widespread and influential Jabouri Tribe. Speaking through an interpreter at a 31 October meeting at the Iraqi Islamic Party headquarters in downtown Baghdad, Sheik Omar said that al Qaeda had been “defeated mentally, and therefore is defeated physically,” referring to how clear it has become that the terrorist group’s tactics have backfired. Operatives who could once disappear back into the crowd after committing an increasingly atrocious attack no longer find safe haven among the Iraqis who live in the southern part of Baghdad.  They are being hunted down and killed.  Or, if they are lucky, captured by Americans.

Colonel Ricky Gibbs, the American brigade commander with responsibility for the Rashid District in south Baghdad today told me, “So goes South Baghdad goes Baghdad.”  General Petraeus had told me similar things about the importance of South Baghdad. In fact, Rashid is quickly developing into what might be one of the final serious battlegrounds of the war.

During the meeting, another member of the Iraqi Islamic Party said that al Qaeda has changed its strategy now that fomenting civil war between Sunni and Shia has backfired. Al Qaeda has shifted targets, now trying to generate friction between tribes. This time, however, the tribes are onto the game early, and they are not playing.

Sheik Omar, who has gained the respect of American combat leaders for his intelligence and organizational skills, said the tough line against al Qaeda is also enforced at the tribal level. According to Sheik Omar, the Jabouri tribe, too, is actively committed to destroying al Qaeda. So much so, that Jabouri tribal leaders have decided they would “kill their own sons” if any aided al Qaeda. To underscore the point, he went on to say that about 70 Jabouri “sons” had been killed by the Jabouri tribe so far.

In addition to brigade commander Colonel Ricky Gibbs, four of his battalion commanders were also present: Lieutenant Colonels James Crider, Patrick Frank, Stephen Michael and Myron Reineke.  Sheik Omar expressed deep gratitude for their assistance.

Omar’s influence extends beyond tribal and party levels, to include important channels within the Iraqi government and the US military in Baghdad, as evidenced by the agenda of the hours-long meeting. But for the talk about al Qaeda, the focus was mostly on other topics, such as returning displaced persons to their homes, efficiently delivering basic services and jumpstarting the economy. In fact, more and more meetings in Iraq are turning to day-to-day business, and less time is required on military and security topics like targeting and addressing intelligence-type matters, which until recently monopolized most meetings across Iraq.

Michael Yon
27676  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: November 01, 2007, 10:33:18 AM
My Nobel Moment
November 1, 2007; Page A19

I've had a lot of fun recently with my tiny (and unofficial) slice of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But, though I was one of thousands of IPCC participants, I don't think I will add "0.0001 Nobel Laureate" to my resume.

The other half of the prize was awarded to former Vice President Al Gore, whose carbon footprint would stomp my neighborhood flat. But that's another story.

Large icebergs in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Winter sea ice around the continent set a record maximum last month.
Both halves of the award honor promoting the message that Earth's temperature is rising due to human-based emissions of greenhouse gases. The Nobel committee praises Mr. Gore and the IPCC for alerting us to a potential catastrophe and for spurring us to a carbonless economy.

I'm sure the majority (but not all) of my IPCC colleagues cringe when I say this, but I see neither the developing catastrophe nor the smoking gun proving that human activity is to blame for most of the warming we see. Rather, I see a reliance on climate models (useful but never "proof") and the coincidence that changes in carbon dioxide and global temperatures have loose similarity over time.

There are some of us who remain so humbled by the task of measuring and understanding the extraordinarily complex climate system that we are skeptical of our ability to know what it is doing and why. As we build climate data sets from scratch and look into the guts of the climate system, however, we don't find the alarmist theory matching observations. (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite data we analyze at the University of Alabama in Huntsville does show modest warming -- around 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit per century, if current warming trends of 0.25 degrees per decade continue.)

It is my turn to cringe when I hear overstated-confidence from those who describe the projected evolution of global weather patterns over the next 100 years, especially when I consider how difficult it is to accurately predict that system's behavior over the next five days.

Mother Nature simply operates at a level of complexity that is, at this point, beyond the mastery of mere mortals (such as scientists) and the tools available to us. As my high-school physics teacher admonished us in those we-shall-conquer-the-world-with-a-slide-rule days, "Begin all of your scientific pronouncements with 'At our present level of ignorance, we think we know . . .'"

I haven't seen that type of climate humility lately. Rather I see jump-to-conclusions advocates and, unfortunately, some scientists who see in every weather anomaly the specter of a global-warming apocalypse. Explaining each successive phenomenon as a result of human action gives them comfort and an easy answer.

Others of us scratch our heads and try to understand the real causes behind what we see. We discount the possibility that everything is caused by human actions, because everything we've seen the climate do has happened before. Sea levels rise and fall continually. The Arctic ice cap has shrunk before. One millennium there are hippos swimming in the Thames, and a geological blink later there is an ice bridge linking Asia and North America.

One of the challenges in studying global climate is keeping a global perspective, especially when much of the research focuses on data gathered from spots around the globe. Often observations from one region get more attention than equally valid data from another.

The recent CNN report "Planet in Peril," for instance, spent considerable time discussing shrinking Arctic sea ice cover. CNN did not note that winter sea ice around Antarctica last month set a record maximum (yes, maximum) for coverage since aerial measurements started.

Then there is the challenge of translating global trends to local climate. For instance, hasn't global warming led to the five-year drought and fires in the U.S. Southwest?

Not necessarily.

There has been a drought, but it would be a stretch to link this drought to carbon dioxide. If you look at the 1,000-year climate record for the western U.S. you will see not five-year but 50-year-long droughts. The 12th and 13th centuries were particularly dry. The inconvenient truth is that the last century has been fairly benign in the American West. A return to the region's long-term "normal" climate would present huge challenges for urban planners.

Without a doubt, atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing due primarily to carbon-based energy production (with its undisputed benefits to humanity) and many people ardently believe we must "do something" about its alleged consequence, global warming. This might seem like a legitimate concern given the potential disasters that are announced almost daily, so I've looked at a couple of ways in which humans might reduce CO2 emissions and their impact on temperatures.

California and some Northeastern states have decided to force their residents to buy cars that average 43 miles-per-gallon within the next decade. Even if you applied this law to the entire world, the net effect would reduce projected warming by about 0.05 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, an amount so minuscule as to be undetectable. Global temperatures vary more than that from day to day.

Suppose you are very serious about making a dent in carbon emissions and could replace about 10% of the world's energy sources with non-CO2-emitting nuclear power by 2020 -- roughly equivalent to halving U.S. emissions. Based on IPCC-like projections, the required 1,000 new nuclear power plants would slow the warming by about 0.2 ?176 degrees Fahrenheit per century. It's a dent.

But what is the economic and human price, and what is it worth given the scientific uncertainty?

My experience as a missionary teacher in Africa opened my eyes to this simple fact: Without access to energy, life is brutal and short. The uncertain impacts of global warming far in the future must be weighed against disasters at our doorsteps today. Bjorn Lomborg's Copenhagen Consensus 2004, a cost-benefit analysis of health issues by leading economists (including three Nobelists), calculated that spending on health issues such as micronutrients for children, HIV/AIDS and water purification has benefits 50 to 200 times those of attempting to marginally limit "global warming."

Given the scientific uncertainty and our relative impotence regarding climate change, the moral imperative here seems clear to me.

Mr. Christy is director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and a participant in the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, co-recipient of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

27677  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: November 01, 2007, 09:45:47 AM
Dollar Ben
November 1, 2007; Page A18
Watching the U.S. currency continue to decline in value, our irreverent friends at the New York Sun have stopped referring to the dollar. They now call it "the Bernanke," in mock honor of the Federal Reserve Chairman who is presiding over the greenback's plunge. With another rate cut yesterday, Ben Bernanke and the Fed are continuing to act as if they like the Sun's moniker.

At least this time the Fed accompanied its rate cut with a statement acknowledging that "some inflation risks remain" and that it will "act as needed to foster price stability" and economic growth. This time there was also a dissenter, with Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig opposing the rate cut. Perhaps he's been paying attention to the super-rally in inflation-sensitive price signals since the Fed declared in September that it put a higher priority on limiting the housing recession than on the value of the currency.

Commodities have soared, including oil, which passed $94 a barrel yesterday; predictions of $100 oil are commonplace. Some politicians are blaming tensions with Iran for the oil spike, but those tensions have ebbed and flowed for several years. What has mostly flowed is the supply of dollars, and so some part of oil's increase should be called the Alan Greenspan-Ben Bernanke inflation premium. To the extent higher oil prices slow economic growth, they also defeat the stated purpose of the Fed's rate cuts.

The dollar price of gold is also reaching heights not seen since 1980, closing near $800 an ounce yesterday. Gold is not some magic talisman, but it has served throughout history as a reasonable proxy for other prices. The nearby chart shows the trend since 1971, and if nothing else the recent gold rally is a market commentary on the Fed's priorities. The speculators think the risk is all on the inflation side. Meanwhile, the dollar -- "the Bernanke" -- also hit a record low against the euro yesterday.

For the Fed and most of Wall Street, this is all worth any future inflation risk. The Fed is guarding against the danger that the recent credit-market turmoil will send the larger economy into a recession. The bankers holding bad mortgage assets are also cheering easier money, as they beg for a housing reflation so they don't have to take even larger write-offs. Then there are the exporters and economists who think the U.S. can devalue its way to prosperity, or at least to a few quarters of export-driven expansion until the housing market hits bottom.

Lost in all of this domestic focus is the fact that there are also major risks to the Fed's reflation. The Fed isn't merely a creature of U.S. policy but is the steward of the global financial system. The dollar is the world's reserve currency. It is vital as a medium of global trade and investment, and central banks hold hundreds of billions of dollars as reserves. Many countries peg their own currencies to the greenback, meaning that they are subcontracting their own monetary policies to the Fed. These countries import American inflation when the Fed makes a mistake.

All of which means the Fed has a special responsibility to avoid a disruption in the world monetary system. In particular, it needs to avoid the perception that it favors a devalued greenback for narrow domestic purposes, lest it signal to countries around the world that they can play the same game. The recent cry of concern over the dollar by Rodrigo Rato, the departing head of the International Monetary Fund, is a sign that the world is beginning to wonder.

In the worst case, the world could lose faith in U.S. monetary management and there would be a run on the dollar. Then the Fed would have no choice but to raise rates much higher and faster to restore its credibility, and the recession that followed would be far worse. That's what happened as recently as the 1970s, the last time gold and oil reached these heights and the dollar was this weak. In that era, as in this one, the excuse for easier money was always to save the U.S. economy from recession. In that era, too, the rise in oil prices, gold and other commodities was blamed on everything except monetary policy -- OPEC, or rising global demand or something.

We rehearse all this not to say we are back at the 1970s but as a warning that we can get there faster than the sages at the Fed imagine. Yesterday's report that third-quarter economic growth clocked in at 3.9%, following 3.8% in the second, already shows that most Wall Street forecasters were wrong earlier this year. The Fed is worried about growth after the summer credit implosion, to be sure. But if the economy defies the forecasters again, the Fed could be raising rates faster than it now expects. The dollar's credibility as the world's reserve currency may depend on it.
27678  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: November 01, 2007, 09:18:51 AM
Garry Kasparov, Dissident
Running for president in Russia is a dangerous enterprise.

Thursday, November 1, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

One of the current truisms of the news business is that the Internet has shrunk the world, and that everyone knows everything from the Web the moment it happens. Yet sometimes, we know nothing. Last month, the former world chess champion Garry Kasparov announced his candidacy for the presidency of Russia, to be decided in March. The world shrugged at the Kasparov candidacy, and went back to surfing the Web.

Is this because we in the wired world already know all there is to know about what's up in 21st century Russia? Or in fact are we clueless about the place Churchill described as the deepest enigma? Garry Kasparov believes the latter, and so as leader of a grab-bag coalition called Other Russia, he has undertaken his doomed effort to succeed Vladimir Putin. He works hard to get his message out in the West, but he is given relatively short shrift by the professional skeptics among the Western media and its intellectuals. Yes, he has no chance, but the inattention is a mistake.

I believe Garry Kasparov should be regarded as Russia's first post-Soviet dissident. Starting in the 1960s, deep in the Cold War, the world essentially put under its protective custody a generation of anti-Soviet dissidents. Their names became household names--Sakharov, Sharansky, Bukovsky, Medvedev, Sinyavsky, Kopelev, others. Solzhenitsyn, too hot to handle, was exiled in 1974.

The primary reason for analogizing Mr. Kasparov to these dissidents is not for his opposition to the Putin government and his views on Mr. Putin, though these are worth listening to. The more relevant reason is that he believes his life is in danger.

In an interview this past weekend for "The Journal Editorial Report" on Fox cable news, Mr. Kasparov spoke with his characteristic force and animation about what he believes are the underlying weaknesses of a Russia that looks to be thriving under Mr. Putin. Mr. Kasparov was scheduled to fly back to Russia a few days after the interview, and at the end he was asked if he feared for his safety. One could not help but notice that his answer came after a brief but obvious hesitation.
"Yes," he said, "I am. I'm afraid, my family's afraid. It's our greatest concern."

Why? Logic argues against killing Mr. Kasparov. The street demonstrations in Moscow by his group number in the low thousands (though they attract truncheon attacks by a small army of police agents). A murder would make him a martyr in Russia, where he is still revered as a Soviet and Russian hero. As a political threat, he is a fly on the back of the Putin rhinoceros.

But this is Russia. For all the same reasons one could have said the same of the Russian journalists killed or mysteriously dead there in recent years. Their names are also a "dissident" list: Ivan Safronov of Kommersant, Iskandar Khatloni of Radio Free Europe, Paul Klebnikov of Forbes Russia, Anna Politkovskaya of Novaya Gazeta. Freedom House estimates some two dozen journalists have been killed since Mr. Putin came to power. Earlier this month, in Prague and Washington, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty held symposiums on the status of Russian media, tied to the first anniversary of Ms. Politkovskaya's murder. Mr. Kasparov was there. Other than the Washington Times, the symposiums received virtually no press coverage in the West.

Mr. Kasparov is no political dilettante. His first article on the status of democracy in Russia appeared on this page in August 1991. He was 28 years old. He came to our offices near the World Trade Center for lunch, and one has to say that at first it was hard to set aside that the fellow discoursing over Chinese food on the West's unseemly affection for Mikhail Gorbachev possessed the most mammoth chess brain in history.

We made him a contributing editor to the Journal editorial page, and in the years since he has written often for these pages on Russia's wild ride to its current state. Across 16 years, Mr. Kasparov's commitment to democratic liberty in Russia and in its former republics has been unstinting. At that September 1991 lunch, Mr. Kasparov proposed an idea then anathema to elite thinking in Washington and the capitals of Western Europe: The West should announce support for the independence of the former Soviet republics--the Baltics, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and the rest.

One suspects that Vladimir Putin noticed what the young chess champion was saying in 1991 about the old Soviet empire. The Russian president has famously said, "The demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century."

Russia today is not what it was. Mr. Kasparov, however, has not stopped analyzing what it has become. Briefly, he argues that Mr. Putin's internal and external politics should be seen almost wholly as a function of oil prices, the primary source of revenue for the Russian state and the prop beneath the extended Putin political family. Mr. Putin's "unhelpful" policies on Iran and the like, Mr. Kasparov argues, keep the oil markets boiling--but not boiling over. Money in the bank, at $94 a barrel. He says Mr. Putin is the glue that binds this fabulously wealthy family, and if he left politics in any real sense they would start killing each other.

As to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's argument that the West needed Mr. Putin inside the G-7 structure so it could "influence" him, the former chess champion replies: "Occasionally you have to look at the results of your brilliant theories." Bringing Mr. Putin in as G No. 8, he says, "jeopardized the whole concept of this club, seven great industrial democracies."
Arguably these views make Mr. Kasparov a dissident even in the increasingly cynical, "pragmatic" West. To their credit, the West's political elites in the 1970s protected the Soviet Union's dreamers. Today Mr. Putin wants Russia to be seen again as dangerous. It is that. Garry Kasparov deserves protection. He stands for something important. A word from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue would be a start.

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

27679  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: November 01, 2007, 08:42:17 AM

Spotting deception in suspect responses about weapons   
Submitted by:
Officer Richard Johnson, Largo (FL) PD


As patrol officers, we frequently ask people, "Do you have any weapons?" The normal response is "No." Any other response should tell you "Yes!" When a subject is trying to be deceptive, they will often pause, stammer, hem & haw, change the subject, etc. to change the focus from what they are hiding; in this case a weapon. If they are being deceptive about being armed, act immediately!
Review the incredibly sad video of South Carolina Trooper Mark Coates when he is shot and killed by Richard Blackburn during a traffic stop. Coates asked Blackburn, "Do you have any weapons?" and Blackburn doesn't answer directly. Rather he says, " know." A short time later, he produces a .22 caliber handgun and shoots Trooper Coates. Recognizing this hesitant, deceptive behavior saved my life. Interviewing a shoplifting suspect, I asked, "Do you have any weapons?" Much like the Blackburn, he responded, " know." Fortunately, I reacted immediately and was able to disarm him as he tried to pull a combat knife out of his pants. What I didn't know at the time was that he was wanted for attempting to kill a police officer elsewhere in the state. Look for and recognize deception when it comes to weapons and act immediately when you encounter it.

27680  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 01, 2007, 07:34:25 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The Lead-up to a Diplomatic Orgy

Wednesday was another day of geopolitical drama involving the usual suspects: Iran, the United States and Russia. The highlights included:
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki visited Baghdad for talks with his Iraqi counterpart, Hoshyar Zebari, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. During the discussions, Mottaki said his country is open to holding a new round of talks with the United States over Iraq's security, and that Tehran plans to bring a new proposal to the table. Mottaki was so busy in Baghdad that he even canceled a trip to Lebanon scheduled for the same day.

The Tajik Foreign Ministry said U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Adm. William Fallon had unexpectedly postponed his two-day visit to Tajikistan by a few weeks. No explanation followed. This announcement comes as the United States and Russia move toward a compromise over ballistic missile defense (BMD) and the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. CENTCOM visits to Tajikistan generally unnerve Russia, and the sudden cancellation of Fallon's trip appears to be a polite U.S. gesture to Moscow.

Following Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's Oct. 30 trip to Tehran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expressed his commitment to cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency on his country's nuclear program. While this might prove to be merely talk, it is a notable shift in Iran's tone.

A Kremlin spokesman said Turkey needs to exercise restraint in its pursuit of Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq so as not to stir up greater instability in the country -- a statement that could very well have come from the White House. There is no need for Russia to comment on this issue, in which it has no real stake -- unless it was attempting to throw a bone to the Americans.
Alone, each of these developments makes little sense. But Stratfor readers by now are well aware of the three-way game being played by the Americans, Russians and Iranians. The United States is looking for a comprehensive agreement with the Iranians over Iraq, and the Russians are looking to compromise with Washington over BMD and CFE (and Moscow is more than willing to use the Iranians as a tool to achieve this). Finally, the Iranians are looking to bolster their deterrent strategy by aligning with the Russians before engaging in serious talks with the United States over Iraq.

Each of these powers is playing the other two off one another in pursuit of its own interests -- with a very murky idea of how all this will play out. There is definite movement on all sides, but it is still anyone's guess as to where things will end up. Two weeks ago, the Iranians and Russians were squeezing the Americans. But things have taken a turn in the past week, with the Russians and the Americans now putting the squeeze on Iran. Soon enough, the Iranians and the Americans could end up working together, leaving the Russians in a tight spot.

And if you think Wednesday's chaos was something, just wait until Nov. 2, when all of these players will meet in the same room. A two-day international conference on Iraqi security is set to be held in Istanbul, and foreign ministers from each of the U.N. Security Council member countries -- as well as from Iraq's neighbors and a host of other states -- will attend. Though Ankara called this meeting to discuss the ongoing tensions in northern Iraq, the Iranians, Russians and Americans have bigger things on their minds. With this many powers in one place, there will be ample opportunities for private chats, secret handshakes and unsolicited intervention, making this diplomatic orgy all the more intriguing.

27681  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: November 01, 2007, 06:56:24 AM

"It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth
can stand by itself. Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you
make your inquisitors?"

-- Thomas Jefferson (Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17,

Reference: Jefferson: Writings, Peterson ed., Library of America
27682  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iraq: Shia vs. Sunni in Baghdad on: October 31, 2007, 12:27:17 PM
In Baghdad Neighborhood,
A Tale of Shifting Fortunes
October 31, 2007; Page A1

BAGHDAD -- In many neighborhoods across the Iraqi capital, Shiite Muslims have defeated their Sunni cousins in the civil war that's raged here over the past two years.

Shiites, marginalized under Saddam Hussein, have been able to seize real estate, businesses and municipal services from Sunnis. A mafia-like network of Shiite militias has engineered the takeover of entire neighborhoods. Of the 51 members on Baghdad's City Council, only one is Sunni; the police are almost entirely Shia.

Riyad Obaidi, center, standing next to policeman in blue cap, in Sayidia.
The central government here says the violence is winding down, and the U.S. military points out that civilian deaths have declined recently. But a new, quieter chapter of the civil war is unfolding. Shiite groups are trying to consolidate their on-the-ground gains and push into neighborhoods that have so far eluded their control. The Sunnis, pressed into a corner, are looking for new ways to fight back. In some cases, they've joined their former American enemies as allies.

Nowhere is this dynamic more evident than in the city's Sayidia section, a majority-Sunni enclave where Sunnis and Shiites had lived in relative peace. While other pockets of Sunni resistance remain, this district of 30,000 has emerged as the biggest theater in the battle against Shiite militants.

In February, a white sedan swerved and flipped over in front of Riyad Obaidi's home in Sayidia. The passengers clambered out and ran. Hearing a tapping sound, Mr. Obaidi approached the car and opened the trunk. A hog-tied and terrified elderly Sunni man tumbled out.

Shiite gunmen had just killed the man's son, the captive said, and packed the father off for a bumpy ride to an almost-certain death. Mr. Obaidi, a Sunni himself, had just fled to Sayidia after Shiite militias overran his old neighborhood. Shocked by the man's story, he decided to join a local band of Sunni fighters.

"When Sunnis were displaced from other areas, Sayidia became the most important place for us," he says.

Shiite forces now control more than half of Baghdad's neighborhoods. Shiite Arabs comprise roughly 60% of Iraq's total population; the remaining 40% are split between Sunni Arabs and Kurds, plus a few smaller minority groups.

Under Saddam Hussein, Sayidia, almost 70% Sunni, was home to many ranking military officers and educated elite. Well-off professionals lived here, too. Its shopping streets were among the best in the capital. "You used to see castles, not just houses, with swimming pools. It was a very rich area," says Abu Ibrahim, a dentist who used to live there.

Karim Obaidi, Riyad Obaidi's brother and a colonel in Mr. Hussein's air force, remembers the 2003 fall of Baghdad with remorse. "It was the first time in my life that I cried," Karim recalls. The Americans disbanded the Iraqi army, and the veteran fighter pilot took off his uniform, came back home to Sayidia and joined the anti-American resistance.

Other unemployed military officers from the area joined the insurgency, but the neighborhood itself remained relatively peaceful. Sayidia still held traces of its old affluence as late as last October. Shops were open, people were trimming hedges in front of their homes, and trash was collected on time.

But all around the district, other neighborhoods were falling under the sway of Shiite militants. The broader municipal area that includes Sayidia, known as West Rashid, is home to some 800,000 residents, or about one-fifth of Baghdad's total population. American officers stationed here have watched as Shiite militias made steady inroads. "Within West Rashid, the Shia have gained a lot of neighborhoods that weren't Shia in 2003," says U.S. Army Maj. John Cross.

Reconciliation is crucial to making Iraq a functioning state -- and a key condition for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops. But as Baghdad's few mixed areas yield to Shiite forces, that goal becomes harder to achieve. "If communities and their leaders can come together in mixed neighborhoods and hammer out some understandings, that's critical," says Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

Riyad Obaidi used to manage some 200 small shops in a mixed neighborhood next to Sayidia. Shopkeepers paid him rent. But when his leases came up for renewal, local Shiite militants muscled him out and told him to leave the area, he says. Around the same time, another Obaidi brother who ran a parking lot nearby was strangled with a rubber cord. Mr. Obaidi got the message and fled to Sayidia, where his brother, the colonel, lived. It was fast becoming the only safe haven for Sunnis in West Rashid.

Things weren't that way for long. Shiite militants started infiltrating Sayidia from adjacent areas under their control. According to U.S. military officials, their movements were often aided by the Shiite-dominated Iraqi police. "We were surrounded," says Omar Mohammed, a local Sunni resident.

Late last year, the Iraqi police started setting up a maze of checkpoints throughout Sayidia. Shiite militants would often be lurking nearby. Reports of kidnappings of Sunnis in the vicinity of checkpoints started piling up in the spring, according to U.S. officers and local Sunni activists.

In one recent incident, plainclothes gunmen ambushed a car carrying two Sunni political activists after police pulled them over at a checkpoint. The gunmen shot at the ground and then aimed their fire at the two Sunnis, according to an American account of the incident. The two men managed to get away with minor gunshot wounds.

Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, says the accusations that the police are working with Shiite militants are unsubstantiated. "The police forces represent the government, and the government doesn't support one side against the other," he says.

Shiite forces also targeted basic services in the neighborhood, according to U.S. military officials. Electricity lines were cut. Water delivery became erratic. Trash collectors were murdered.

Sunni shop owners were ordered to close down. Shiite gunmen raided Sunni mosques. Last month, only one of 11 mosques remained open. Sunnis started to leave Sayidia. House rents, once among the highest in Baghdad, plummeted.

But some Sunni residents also started fighting back. Mr. Obaidi, the air force colonel, joined a ragtag Sunni militia that started challenging Shiite gunmen, battling it out with them in the streets. His brother Riyad, shocked by the man he found in the trunk of the car, joined him.

"Almost every night we fought," says Riyad. Gunfire became so frequent and indiscriminate that local resident Abu Hassan observed that fronds of a palm tree in front of his house had become shredded by bullets.

Still, Shiite militants gained ground, and a new band of combatants entered the fray early this year: extremist fighters from al-Qaeda in Iraq, a fundamentalist Sunni group known for slaughtering Shiites. Al-Qaeda fighters trickled into Sayidia through a neighboring enclave called Dora.

Just east of Sayidia, Dora is one of the last exclusively Sunni parts of Baghdad, and it opens out onto Sunni-controlled belts that wind along the outskirts of the Iraqi capital. Dora is home to battle-hardened Sunni militants, and gunfire aimed at American patrols crackles throughout the sprawling district.

Sayidia's desperate Sunnis were initially happy to see the new fighters, hoping they would help fend off the Shiite onslaught. "The Sunnis had no choice but to receive al-Qaeda, because nobody else was protecting them" says Mr. Ibrahim, the Sayidia dentist.

Instead, the Sunni extremists embarked on a simple but brutal strategy: kill any Shiite they could get their hands on. A peaceful Shiite population had always resided in the neighborhood. They were now targets.

Ali al-Ameri, a Shiite, lost two brothers in Sayidia's increasingly chaotic clashes. One worked as a carpenter and was gunned down in his shop. The other went to check on a malfunctioning electricity generator and disappeared. The murder rate in Sayidia went through the roof.

Sayidia's Sunnis, who initially tolerated al-Qaeda, soon realized the group had no interest in protecting them -- only a desire to kill Shiites. Far from being any sort of ally, al-Qaeda was living up to its reputation for inciting violence.

Sayidia's Sunni residents regrouped. Recruited by a major Sunni political party, some 300 Sunni fighters joined an ad-hoc police unit that would provide a counterweight to the neighborhood's Shiite-dominated cops. The Americans patrolling Sayidia, desperate for a solution, went along with the plan. They screened applicants and helped finance the unit, paying between $300 to $450 a month to each volunteer. Both Obaidi brothers passed muster and joined the force.

One morning last month, a dozen Sunni volunteers, including the Obaidi brothers, shared a checkpoint with a regular police unit. The joint watch was tense, with the Shiite police heckling the Sunni outfit. "Make sure you shave your beards, so you look like soldiers, not like men from a mosque," a Shiite officer teased a huddle of Sunni volunteers, most of whom were clean-shaven.

Local Sunnis -- who had grown so terrified of the checkpoints that many procured fake IDs with Shia-sounding names -- were happy to see Sunni volunteers on the streets.

The new Sunni presence enraged Nahil al-Musawi, a prominent Shiite cleric and a member of the Baghdad City Council. He's not originally from Sayidia but chose to rent a house in the neighborhood, and he started leading prayers at a local Shiite mosque.

Mr. al-Musawi and his supporters accused the Sunni volunteers of burning Shia shops and houses, and complained to the central government. The Americans, who closely monitor the new force, say they have no evidence the Sunni guards have done anything improper.

Early this month, the Iraqi government issued an order banning the Sunni battalion from the streets. "It was like a punch in the gut to get that order," says Maj. Cross.

Shiite militants, with their sophisticated roadside bombs, pose as much of a threat to American lives as the most battle-hardened Sunni insurgents.

Under pressure from the Iraqi government, the U.S. is now trying to recruit some Shia volunteers into the force, so that it can be allowed back on the streets. Mr. al-Musawi is insisting that the group include Shiites, not just Sunnis.

But the Americans scored their own small victory. They've repeatedly complained to the Iraqi government that Sayidia's official, Shia-dominated police unit has been harassing local Sunnis. Last month, the government replaced the unit with an Iraqi army battalion. Though also almost exclusively Shia, it is far less sectarian than the old guard, according to local residents and U.S. troops in the area.

Mr. al-Musawi, the Shiite cleric, has pushed the transformation of Sayidia in other ways. In early September, he convened a meeting of what he said were displaced Sayidia residents at the local police headquarters. He told American military officials that his meeting was an attempt at reconciliation between Sunnis and Shiites.

The room that day was filled with over a hundred people. But American officers who attended noticed there were almost no Sunnis in the room, a fact Mr. al-Musawi doesn't deny. A few days later, workmen lifted concrete barriers from an approach road to a residential block in the neighborhood, and two dozen Shiite families who had attended the meeting drove through the breach.

Panic spread among Sunni residents as plainclothes gunmen went door to door, ordering Sunnis to vacate their houses. U.S. officers rushed to the scene. Most of the new Shia arrivals couldn't produce titles to homes they claimed were theirs, so the Americans turned them back.

Fingering red prayer beads on a recent day, the black-turbaned Mr. al-Musawi says that Sayidia had always been a majority-Shia area. "Most people who suffered in Sayidia are Shia," he says.

Write to Philip Shishkin at
27683  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: October 31, 2007, 12:18:22 PM

MSN Money Homepage
MSN Money Investing
1. Google Phone Plan Draws Interest
2. Merrill's Job: Cleaning Up and Moving On
3. Can Google-Powered Phones Connect With Carriers?
4. Bernanke Rewrites Fed Playbook
5. O'Neal Gets No Severance, but $161.5 Million in Pension, Stock

Also read these stories:

  What's This?
LanOptics 3Q Losses: 5c/Share Vs 18c >LNOP

October 30, 2007 9:08 a.m.

 LanOptics Ltd. (LNOP) on Tuesday reported a third-quarter net loss of $768,000, or 5 cents a share, narrowing from $2.1 million, or 18 cents a share, in last year's third quarter.

The Israeli maker of network processors had revenue for the period ended Sept. 30 of $5.24 million, up from $2.07 million a year earlier, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company's shares closed Monday on the Nasdaq Capital Market at $22.84.

 -Ingrid Pedrick Lehrfeld, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-1361

27684  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: October 31, 2007, 12:16:20 PM
Bush's North Korea Meltdown
October 31, 2007; Page A21

Facts about Israel's Sept. 6 raid on a suspected nuclear facility in Syria continue to emerge -- albeit still incompletely, especially regarding the involvement of the Democratic People's Republic of (North) Korea. Important questions remain, such as whether its personnel were present when the attack occurred, and whether they had been working to clone the Yongbyon nuclear facility in the Syrian desert since the North Korean commitment in February (the latest in a long series) to give up its nuclear programs.

Seemingly unperturbed, however, the Bush administration apparently believes North Korea is serious this time, unlike all the others. The concessions continue to flow in essentially only one direction, crossing repeated "red lines" Washington had drawn.

These include: (1) the humiliating U.S. collapse on North Korea's access to international financial markets; (2) accepting a mere "freeze" of Yongbyon (misleadingly called "disablement" by the administration) rather than real dismantlement; (3) failing to ensure enforcement of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718's sanctions, imposed after Pyongyang's nuclear test; and (4) the State Department's palpable hunger to remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and the Trading With the Enemy Act's prohibitions, and re-establish full diplomatic relations.

The Bush administration's most serious concession is forthcoming, in which the U.S. will accept, with little or no concrete verification, Pyongyang's imminent declaration that it actually has very little nuclear activity other than what we have long known about at Yongbyon.

Even critics from the left now worry that State is conceding far more than it should. Jack Pritchard, the special envoy for negotiations with North Korea who resigned during Secretary of State Colin Powell's tenure because our policy was too unyielding, said recently that North Korean officials think "they can ask for and get what they want from the Bush administration because [it] is so eager to demonstrate a diplomatic achievement." Mr. Pritchard concluded, "The North Koreans are rubbing their hands together with glee."

Our current Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and other partisans of the six-party talks respond to all internal administration complaints or criticisms by asking, "What is your alternative? What would you have us do otherwise, risk war on the Peninsula?" Herewith, some responses:

First, it is simply inapposite to judge every tactical decision -- to accede or stand firm on this or that subsidiary point -- by forecasting the complete demise of the entire six-party process if North Korean sensibilities are ruffled by occasionally saying "no." Indeed, showing tactical toughness can frequently enhance the long-term prospects for success, not reduce them. Sadly, however, toughness at the tactical or strategic level is no longer the hallmark of our North Korea policy. Weakness is the watchword.

Second, before it is too late, President Bush has to draw a deep line in the sand on verification. The State Department has yet to say anything publicly about how verification will be accomplished, especially on the North's uranium-enrichment efforts, giving rise to the suspicion that our negotiators don't really have a clue what they mean. The idea of North Korea for years engaged in cloning Yongbyon in Syria (or anywhere else -- Burma, for instance) should be a fire bell in the night. President Reagan's mantra of "trust but verify" in the Cold War days didn't offend anyone, and if it offends Kim Jong Il, that should tell us something. If anything, however, with North Korea, President Bush should reverse Reagan's order: Let's see real verification, and leave trust until later.

Third, consider the severely negative effect these repeated concessions have on our relations with Japan and South Korea. President Bush used to stress that this was a "six-party" process, but now all of the action is bilateral. The State Department's lust to remove North Korea from the terrorism list is having a profoundly negative impact on our treaty ally, Japan, the nation most directly threatened by Pyongyang's nuclear capability. Thomas Schieffer, the Bush administration's ambassador to Japan, reportedly complained recently to the president that he was "cut out of the process." State should explain why it trusts North Korea more than our ambassador to Tokyo, and why we ignore Tokyo's concerns over North Korea's kidnappings of Japanese citizens.

South Korea is facing a critical presidential election in December. The last thing Washington should do is pursue concessionary policies that might enhance the prospects for a new president who follows the same appeasement line as incumbent President Roh Moo-hyun. If South Korea can discard Mr. Roh's rose-colored glasses, our overall prospects will improve considerably, but our unquestioning embrace of North Korea could have exactly the wrong impact in the South's volatile politics.

Fourth, and most importantly, the right response to the North Korean threat is to apply pressure steadily and consistently, rather than hastily releasing it. After its nuclear test, Pyongyang faced growing pressure from the cumulative impact of Chinese anger, U.N. Security Council sanctions, ongoing implementation of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), and the U.S. Treasury's continuing financial squeeze.

There was a plan, of sorts, and it was producing some evidence of success. Instead of squeezing harder, such as by encouraging refugee flows out of the North, the administration did a U-turn. It let a desperate North Korea up off the mat, provided tangible economic support for this appallingly authoritarian regime, allowed Kim Jong Il to relegitimize himself, and undercut the PSI world-wide.

The icing on Kim's cake is that for years -- before, during and after the 2005 and 2007 "agreements" -- North Korea was happily violating its commitments. Instead of focusing China on solving the problem of the regime it has propped up for so long, we absolved China, sidelined Japan, inserted ourselves and started life-support for the administrators of the world's largest prison camp.

This will perpetuate the North Korean problem, not solve it. Any by perpetuating Kim Jong Il's regime, and its continuing threat, it is actually the State Department's policy that poses the greater risk to international peace and security. This is true not only for Pyongyang, but for other would-be proliferators watching our ongoing failure to stop North Korea.

The debate within the Bush administration is not yet over, although time is short before irreparable harm is done. Growing restiveness in Congress among Republicans and Democrats may increasingly become a factor. For President Bush, I can only hope he re-reads his first term speeches on North Korea.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations," out next week from Simon & Schuster/Threshold Editions.

27685  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 31, 2007, 12:11:54 PM
 to Eternity
One of the ways in which the media bolster their anti-Iraq narrative is by maximizing the number of U.S. casualties. The figures you hear for the number of deaths--currently approaching 4,000--almost always include noncombat deaths. Roughly 20% of "Iraq war" deaths are from illness, accident, suicide or other "nonhostile" causes.

By this standard, of course, every serviceman in Iraq is doomed, and so are the rest of us. Even for those who perish in combat, war is only the proximate cause of death.

A striking example of "Iraq war" deaths that weren't appeared last week in the New York Times:

The Department of Defense has identified 3,825 American service members who have died since the start of the Iraq war. It confirmed the deaths of the following Americans on Tuesday:

CAMACHO, Anamarie Sannicolas, 20, Seaman, Navy; Panama City, Fla.; Naval Support Activity.

GRESHAM, Genesia Mattril, 19, Seaman, Navy; Lithonia, Ga.; Naval Support Activity.

The San Francisco Chronicle published news of Camacho's and Gresham's deaths under the headline "U.S. Toll in Iraq," and the text said they had died "in Iraq."

This is false, as the Chronicle's own Web site confirms. The paper has a database with details of all the deaths "in Iraq," and both Camacho's and Gresham's entries show that they "died Oct. 22 in Bahrain during a non-combat related incident." (Nonetheless, the heading on the Chronicle's database pages reads "Portraits of Sacrifice: U.S. Casualties in Iraq.")

To find out how they died, we turn to the Gulf Daily News, an English-language Bahraini paper:

Anamarie Sannicolas Camacho, 20, and her colleague Genesia Mattril Gresham, 19, were shot dead at the Naval Support Activity Base, Juffair, at around 5am on October 22.

Their alleged killer, fellow serviceman Clarence Jackson, 20, is still clinging to life after apparently shooting himself in the head immediately after the murders.

He is now at the National Naval Medical Centre in Bethesda, Maryland, US, after being transferred to the US from a specialist hospital in Germany. . . .

[Camacho's mother, Jovie] Paulino, who served in the US Air Force for six years, is also angry at the way the navy have handled the shooting.

"I had entrusted my daughter to the navy when she joined and this is what has happened, I just don't understand," she said. "I was in the military and right now I feel so angry and disappointed. She put her life on the line for our freedom and the only thing they should do (in return) is protect her."

Her comments echo that of Ms Gresham's mother Anita, who earlier blamed officials for leaving her daughter exposed to danger from a man she said turned nasty when she tried to cool their "casual" relationship.

Ms Gresham revealed Jackson had a restraining order against him and had been on suicide watch, after he allegedly attacked Miss Gresham less than four months ago.

She was also angry that Jackson was allowed to carry a gun after his alleged attack on her daughter and that officials were not telling her what happened in the run-up to the killings.

If Jackson dies of his wounds, will the Times and the Chronicle list him as another casualty of the "Iraq war" rather than of his own twisted rage?

The incident does illustrate an uncomfortable truth: that romantic entanglements can be harmful to military discipline. This is why servicemen can be prosecuted for adultery, and it is one reason that the military excludes open homosexuals and restricts the roles in which women may serve. This was a horrific and senseless crime. Imagine how disruptive it would have been in a combat unit.

27686  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 31, 2007, 12:01:36 PM
Pedestrian Down

Democrats who are nervous about having Hillary Clinton as their nominee had their fears confirmed last night. Mrs. Clinton finally stumbled in her seventh Democratic debate once the other candidates decided to chew on her.

Mrs. Clinton responded to the criticism by retreating to her briefing books, giving rehearsed answers to questions in a too loud, slightly shrill voice. She was pummeled for not releasing White House records kept by the National Archives that would shine light on her claim to be the most experienced candidate based on her service as First Lady.

But her worst moment came when she gave a bizarre answer to a question about a proposal by her fellow New York Democrat, Governor Eliot Spitzer, to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Pressed by Tim Russert about whether she still favors his plan, as she told a New Hampshire paper, she launched into a long defense of it. Then, after Senator Chris Dodd attacked her stance, she interrupted and said: "I did not say that it should be done."

NBC's Tim Russert, one of the debate moderators, jumped in and said to her: "You told [a] New Hampshire paper that it made a lot of sense. Do you support his plan?"

"You know, Tim," Mrs. Clinton replied, "this is where everybody plays 'gotcha.'"

John Edwards quickly pounced: "Unless I missed something, Senator Clinton said two different things in the course of about two minutes. America is looking for a president who will say the same thing, who will be consistent, who will be straight with them."

Chris Matthews of MSNBC concluded that Mrs. Clinton had put herself in a box: "She will have to come out against giving . . . people in the country illegally a driver's license. It doesn't sell."

I'm not so sure. Mrs. Clinton has always had a soft spot for measures that many election officials say compromise the integrity of the ballot box. She sponsored a major bill to strip states of their right to bar felons from voting, a right many legal scholars say is enshrined in the Constitution.

Governor Spitzer's plan to grant driver's licenses to illegal aliens is equally controversial, in part because anyone with such a license could probably vote in elections with impunity. In order to register to vote, a person must sign an affidavit stating that he or she is an American citizen. "You assume that people don't lie, and that's what the form says," state Board of Elections spokesman Lee Daghlian told the New York Post. "It would be [tough to catch] if someone wanted to . . . get a number of people registered [to vote] who aren't citizens and went ahead and got them driver's licenses." Mr. Daghlian conceded that "nobody checks it" to determine if someone registering to vote is truly eligible.

Because of the federal Motor Voter Law, everyone getting a driver's license in New York is automatically handed a voter registration form. With New York being home to upwards of 500,000 illegal aliens, the potential for mischief is great, especially since the Spitzer administration has reversed a policy that would have barred the Department of Motor Vehicles from handing out motor-voter registration forms to anyone without a Social Security number.

Politically speaking, supporting driver's licenses for illegal aliens is an untenable position in a general election. But in the Democratic primaries, the issue is a litmus test for many liberal and immigrant groups backing Mrs. Clinton's candidacy. That helps explain her bizarre obfuscations in last night's debate, when she showed the first chink in her armor, her first failure to square her appeals to the liberal base with attempts to portray herself as a moderate.

"If she loses the nomination, [last night's debate] will go down in history as the first step to her defeat -- no fatal 'Dean Scream' catastrophe, but far from her finest moment, to say the least," concluded Time magazine political handicapper Mark Halperin.

-- John Fund
Political Journal/WSJ
27687  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: October 31, 2007, 11:47:07 AM
Woof All:

RBG was my Constitutional Law prof at Columbia, so I read this piece with particular interest.  I would add that in the Gore v. Bush decision of the 2000 election her opinion was the first time I ever heard her side with a state's rights argument in a federalism issue.  Indeed, quite the contrary-- I got on her frosty side by disagreeing with her in class over National League of Cities vs. Usery (IIRC whether the Feds could compel state governments to pay federal minimum wage).


Speaking Ruth to Power
What business does Justice Ginsburg have trying "to propel legislative change"?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently gave an address on the role of dissenting opinions that included a remarkable explanation for her dissent last term in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber. That case involved a statute regulating when discrimination claims must be filed; the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the lawsuit in that case was filed too late. Justice Ginsburg dissented, and she took the unusual step of reading her dissent from the bench.

In her address, Justice Ginsburg explains that the purpose of her dissent was "to attract immediate public attention and to propel legislative change." She then explains how the other branches responded:

Several members of Congress responded within days after the Court's decision issued. A corrective measure passed the House on July 31, 2007. Senator Kennedy introduced a parallel bill, with 21 co-sponsors. The response was just what I contemplated when I wrote: "The ball is in Congress' court . . . to correct [the Supreme] Court's parsimonious reading of Title VII." But the fate of the proposed legislation has been clouded. On July 27, the Administration announced that if the measure "were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill."
If I understand Justice Ginsburg correctly, she wrote a legal opinion at least in significant part to push a different branch of government to enact a law closer to her personal policy preferences. If I am reading her speech correctly, she appears to be pleased that Congress is following up on her efforts. She's watching the House and Senate, and the passage of a bill in the House and introduction in the Senate is just what she had in mind when she wrote her dissent and read it from the bench. But then she seems less than pleased that President Bush has "clouded" the prospects of the bill's passage by threatening a veto.
I find this explanation troubling. It seems to me that a Justice's job in a statutory case is to say what the statute means and no more. If you dissent, then dissent. But trying to push Congress to enact a law that you like better isn't part of the job description.


To be clear, it's not newsworthy that Supreme Court justices have been and are influenced by their personal policy preferences. That much is human nature. But Justice Ginsburg is not saying that her own views may color her view of what the law is. Nor is she simply acknowledging her personal view that it would be good for Congress to amend the law in a particular way (a position I tentatively share). Rather, she seems to believe that she has a legitimate interest in her capacity as a Supreme Court Justice to push coequal branches of government to enact a new law that will be more to her personal liking.
This view seems hard to square with Justice Ginsburg's frequent invocations of "judicial independence," the notion that legislators should leave the judging to the judges. Justice Ginsburg has frequently criticized legislators--particularly conservatives--who have tried to influence the federal courts by regulating its jurisdiction or closely scrutinizing appointees on political grounds. According to Justice Ginsburg, these efforts threaten the constitutional order because they involve legislative overreaching into the sphere of the judiciary.

But shouldn't this be a two-way street? If it is improper for legislators to try to influence the outcomes of future cases, why is it perfectly OK for her as a Supreme Court justice to try to influence the outcomes of future legislation? I don't mean to be too harsh, but I do find her position quite puzzling. Some might argue that her view of her role really isn't surprising, and that we should expect Justice Ginsburg to try to influence Congress this way. But if that's true, doesn't it mean Justice Ginsburg's argument for judicial independence falls flat and that legislators are justified in trying to influence the decisions of the court? I don't see how you can have it both ways.

Mr. Kerr is a law professor at George Washington University.
27688  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Joseph Story on: October 31, 2007, 11:33:25 AM
From: "PatriotPost.US" <Patriot-CR13724847@m1.PatriotPost.US>
To: <>
Subject: Founders' Quote Daily
Date: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 3:01 AM

The Patriot Post
Founders' Quote Daily

"On the other hand, the duty imposed upon him to take care,
that the laws be faithfully executed, follows out the strong
injunctions of his oath of office, that he will "preserve,
protect, and defend the constitution." The great object of the
executive department is to accomplish this purpose; and without
it, be the form of government whatever it may, it will be utterly
worthless for offence, or defence; for the redress of grievances,
or the protection of rights; for the happiness, or good order,
or safety of the people."

-- Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)

Reference: Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 576.


27689  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: October 30, 2007, 11:32:21 PM
Geopolitical Diary: Russia Swings Between the U.S. and Iran
October 31, 2007 03 00  GMT

It was a day of diplomacy, with people shuttling around and hints of proposals and counterproposals. About two weeks ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Iran. On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov flew to Tehran for a follow-on visit with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. It was a very short meeting, raising questions as to what message was being delivered and why it required Lavrov to fly there personally.

At the same time, rumors circulated -- some in the media, some from pretty good sources -- that the United States is putting together a package of concessions for Russia in order to induce Moscow not to support the Iranians and to participate in sanctions against them. One report, published in the International Herald Tribune, says the United States is getting ready to make concessions on the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. The only part of conventional forces in Europe Russia is interested in is making sure that NATO forces are not based in the former Soviet Union, particularly in the Baltics, and that limits are placed on troops in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. It would take concessions on that order to interest the Russians. Whether the United States is willing to make such guarantees, and what this would do to U.S. relations with these countries, of course, are open questions.

Finally, there are reports from multiple sources that Iraqi Sunni tribal sheikhs have flown to Washington for meetings on the future of their country. The willingness of Sunni leaders to visit Washington constitutes a continuation of a sea change in U.S.-Sunni relations that has been under way for months.

It is hard to read this activity, but it seems to us that the following happened: After Putin's visit to Iran, the United States saw itself being squeezed diplomatically and losing its options against Tehran. The Russians wanted the Americans to feel that way. Putin kept his options open on Iran, simultaneously demanding that the Americans not attack and telling the Iranians that they need not necessarily abandon their long-term attempts to build nuclear weapons by leaving the question of the Bushehr nuclear facility open-ended.

Moscow has positioned itself neatly, siding with Iran on one hand and making itself Washington's intermediary for Iran's nuclear program on the other. By aligning with the Iranians, Russia has made itself the only practical conduit for pressuring Iran over its nuclear program. The United States needs that conduit, and also for the Russians to back away from Iran. To induce the Russians, the United States must make concessions in an area of fundamental interest to Russia -- the regional conventional military balance. Now, it is speculative whether Washington actually has made any overtures in this area. We just don't know. But if the reports of CFE concessions are correct, this is the only thing that would really interest Moscow.

We don't know what message Lavrov delivered on Tuesday, but it was important and had to be conveyed face-to-face. We suspect that the Russians increased their pressure on the Iranians concerning nuclear weapons while inviting Ahmadinejad to Moscow to continue the discussions that began Oct. 16. Ahmadinejad undoubtedly has heard the same rumors and read the same newspapers. A short meeting like that shows respect, but not necessarily warmth.

At the same time, the United States wanted to pressure the Iranians directly. Tehran's worst nightmare is a heavily armed Sunni government in Baghdad. We are far from that, but it must be remembered that the Sunnis, under Saddam Hussein, dominated Iraq for a reason: the underlying weakness of and divisions among the Shia. The U.S.-Sunni talks are far from Iran's worst-case scenario, but at the same time, they can't simply be dismissed.

A couple of weeks ago, Iran and the Russians were squeezing the United States. Now, the United States is squeezing Iran back, working with the Russians and the Sunnis. The most important thing to see here is not the details, which are to a great extent opaque, but the general outline. The Russians and Sunnis now are the swing players in a very complicated situation. They have the options. The Russians, in particular, have freedom of action and are moving between the two sides.

27690  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 30, 2007, 11:28:56 PM
Iraq, U.S.: A Sunni Signal to Iran
October 30, 2007 17 44  GMT

A delegation of Iraq's anti-jihadist Sunni tribal sheikhs is planning to visit Washington to meet with senior officials including U.S. President George W. Bush, Iraq's Al Malaf news agency reported Oct. 30. The tribal chiefs will discuss, among other issues, ways of improving security. They also will propose the reinstatement of high-ranking Iraqi officers from the disbanded army of the ousted Baathist regime. Ahmed Abu Risha, the head of the Anbar-based Iraq Awakening Movement, said he will call on the Bush administration "to support the Iraqi security forces to become self-sufficient in addressing any foreign challenge, and to stamp out the intelligence role that neighboring countries, and its (sic) influence on the security and political situation in Iraq." The report adds that the idea was to benefit from the accumulated battlefield expertise of the former officers' expertise in defending the borders of Iraq from external forces.

Considering that these are Sunni tribal elements with ties to the now-defunct Baath Party, the unnamed foreign power with whom they have experience fighting is Iran. These Sunni elements have despised the takeover of the country's security and intelligence apparatus by Iraqi Shia and their Iranian patrons. Abu Risha and his allies are trying to take advantage of the recent rise in U.S.-Iranian tensions over Iraq and align with Washington in the Sunni bid to combat Iranian domination of Iraq. Conversely, the United States also benefits immensely from the move because it signals to the Iranians that they either cut a deal with the United States instead of aligning with Russia or face the prospect of the revival of the Baathist military structure -- the only force capable of mucking up Iranian plans to dominate Iraq.

We fully expect the Iranians will get the message, and that they will be more than a little concerned. But we do not expect them to yield on the issue. Instead, they probably will try to counter the U.S. moves. This will manifest itself as the Iraqi Shia backing away from the review of the de-Baathification law. The Iranians want in on all U.S.-Sunni dealings, but they are not going to come to the table easily.

27691  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: October 30, 2007, 11:21:00 PM
Russia, Iran: The Next Step in the Diplomatic Tango

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is paying a brief visit to Tehran on Oct. 30 to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. His trip comes just two weeks after a major Russian-Iranian summit in Tehran, during which Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly conveyed that he had every intention of entangling Russia in Iran's showdown with the United States over Iraq. Though this love triangle is filled with more drama than a Brazilian telenovela, each step carries significant implications for U.S., Iranian and Russian foreign policy.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in Tehran on Oct. 30 paying a brief visit to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry. This is the second major Iranian-Russian meeting this month. At the Oct. 15-16 Caspian Summit in Tehran, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his unequivocal support for Iran against U.S. aggression. Ahmadinejad also is expected to visit Moscow soon.

Lavrov's surprise visit to Tehran is likely intended to work out the details of an alleged offer Putin made to the Iranians during the Caspian Summit. Before a discussion of what this murky Iranian-Russian deal could entail, the Lavrov-Ahmadinejad meeting needs some context.

Russia has a fine-tuned strategy of exploiting its Middle Eastern allies' interests for its own political purposes. Iran is the perfect candidate. It is a powerful Islamic state that is locked into a showdown with the United States over its nuclear program and Iraq. Though Washington and Tehran are constantly battling in the public sphere with war rhetoric, they need to deal with each other for the sake of their strategic interests. Russia, meanwhile, has its own turf war with the United States that involves a range of hot issues, including National Missile Defense, renegotiating Cold War-era treaties, and Western interference in Russia's periphery. By demonstrating that Moscow has some real sway over the Iranians, Russia gains a useful bargaining chip to use in its dealings with the United States.

The Iranians, on the other hand, are focused on Iraq. The fall of Saddam Hussein gave Iran a historic opportunity to extend a Shiite buffer zone into Iraq, but Tehran still must contend with the United States, which remains the primary obstacle to Iran's expansionist ambitions. Iran has used its nuclear program as a bargaining chip in its negotiations with the United States over Iraq, but is engaged in an intense internal debate over how to best use the nuclear issue in talks with Washington.

Iran knows the United States -- not Russia -- has leverage in Iraq. Why, then, are the Iranians so interested in cozying up to Russia, a country they deeply distrust? The Iranians appear to be searching for a way to bolster their deterrent strategy against the United States before Tehran makes any bold moves in Iraq. Russia has offered itself as Iran's backup, providing the necessary diplomatic cover and military support to ward off U.S. aggression against Iran. With Russian support, the Iranians have more leverage in their negotiations with the United States.

But the Russian offer does not come without a price. For Moscow to demonstrate that it has actual leverage in its relationship with Tehran, the Iranians must offer cooperation on the nuclear issue. After all, Russia is just as interested as the United States is in preventing a nuclear Iran from becoming a reality. This way, Russia extracts political benefits from the United States, and Iran has an opening to move forward in serious negotiations with Washington over Iraq.

Lavrov is likely playing the role of messenger during this brief visit. Stratfor would love nothing more than to know what he reports back to Putin, and it will be interesting to see if this visit sets off another political storm in Tehran as the internal policy debate there rages on. In the meantime, Stratfor will be prowling for any clues surrounding this latest step in the Iranian-U.S.-Russian tango.
27692  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hasbro castrates GI Joe on: October 30, 2007, 11:11:51 PM
VIN SUPRYNOWICZ: G.I. Joe was just a toy, wasn't he?
MORE COLUMNSHollywood now proposes that in a new live-action movie based on the G.I. Joe toy line, Joe's -- well, "G.I." -- identity needs to be replaced by membership in an "international force based in Brussels." The IGN Entertainment news site reports Paramount is considering replacing our "real American hero" with "Action Man," member of an "international operations team."

Paramount will simply turn Joe's name into an acronym.

The show biz newspaper Variety reports: "G.I. Joe is now a Brussels-based outfit that stands for Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity, an international co-ed force of operatives who use hi-tech equipment to battle Cobra, an evil organization headed by a double-crossing Scottish arms dealer."

Well, thank goodness the villain -- no need to offend anyone by making our villains Arabs, Muslims, or foreign dictators of any stripe these days, though apparently Presbyterians who talk like Scottie on "Star Trek" are still OK -- is a double-crossing arms dealer. Otherwise one might be tempted to conclude the geniuses at Paramount believe arms dealing itself is evil.


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(Just for the record, what did the quintessential American hero, Humphrey Bogart's Rick Blaine in "Casablanca," do before he opened his eponymous cafe? Yep: gun-runner.)

According to reports in Variety and the aforementioned IGN, the producers explain international marketing would simply prove too difficult for a summer, 2009 film about a heroic U.S. soldier. Thus the need to "eliminate Joe's connection to the U.S. military."

Well, who cares. G.I. Joe is just a toy, right? He was never real. Right?

On Nov. 15, 2003, an 85-year-old retired Marine Corps colonel died of congestive heart failure at his home in La Quinta, Calif., southeast of Palm Springs. He was a combat veteran of World War II. His name was Mitchell Paige.

It's hard today to envision -- or, for the dwindling few, to remember -- what the world looked like on Oct. 25, 1942 -- 65 years ago.

The U.S. Navy was not the most powerful fighting force in the Pacific. Not by a long shot. So the Navy basically dumped a few thousand lonely American Marines on the beach at Guadalcanal and high-tailed it out of there.

(You old swabbies can hold the letters. I've written elsewhere about the way Bull Halsey rolled the dice on the night of Nov. 13, 1942, violating the stern War College edict against committing capital ships in restricted waters and instead dispatching into the Slot his last two remaining fast battleships, the South Dakota and the Washington, escorted by the only four destroyers with enough fuel in their bunkers to get them there and back. By 11 p.m., with the fire control systems on the South Dakota malfunctioning, with the crews of those American destroyers cheering her on as they treaded water in an inky sea full of flaming wreckage, "At that moment Washington was the entire U.S. Pacific Fleet," writes naval historian David Lippman. "If this one ship did not stop 14 Japanese ships right then and there, America might lose the war. ..." At midnight precisely, facing those impossible odds, the battleship Washington opened up with her 16-inch guns. If you're reading this in English, you should be able to figure out how she did.)

But the Washington's one-sided battle with the Kirishima was still weeks in the future. On Oct. 25, Mitchell Paige was back on the God-forsaken malarial jungle island of Guadalcanal.

On Guadalcanal, the Marines struggled to complete an airfield that could threaten the Japanese route to Australia. Admiral Yamamoto knew how dangerous that was. Before long, relentless Japanese counterattacks had driven the supporting U.S. Navy from inshore waters. The Marines were on their own.

As Platoon Sgt. Mitchell Paige and his 33 riflemen set about carefully emplacing their four water-cooled .30-caliber Brownings on that hillside, 65 years ago this week -- manning their section of the thin khaki line that was expected to defend Henderson Field against the assault of the night of Oct. 25, 1942 -- it's unlikely anyone thought they were about to provide the definitive answer to that most desperate of questions: How many able-bodied U.S. Marines does it take to hold a hill against 2,000 armed and motivated attackers?

But by the time the night was over, "The 29th (Japanese) Infantry Regiment has lost 553 killed or missing and 479 wounded among its 2,554 men," historian Lippman reports. "The 16th (Japanese) Regiment's losses are uncounted, but the 164th's burial parties handled 975 Japanese bodies. ... The American estimate of 2,200 Japanese dead is probably too low."

You've already figured out where the Japanese focused their attack, haven't you? Among the 90 American dead and seriously wounded that night were all the men in Mitchell Paige's platoon. Every one. As the night of endless attacks wore on, Paige moved up and down his line, pulling his dead and wounded comrades back into their foxholes and firing a few bursts from each of the four Brownings in turn, convincing the Japanese forces down the hill that the positions were still manned.

The citation for Paige's Medal of Honor picks up the tale: "When the enemy broke through the line directly in front of his position, P/Sgt. Paige, commanding a machine gun section with fearless determination, continued to direct the fire of his gunners until all his men were either killed or wounded. Alone, against the deadly hail of Japanese shells, he fought with his gun and when it was destroyed, took over another, moving from gun to gun, never ceasing his withering fire."

In the end, Sgt. Paige picked up the last of the 40-pound, belt-fed Brownings and did something for which the weapon was never designed. Sgt. Paige walked down the hill toward the place where he could hear the last Japanese survivors rallying to move around his flank, the belt-fed gun cradled under his arm, firing as he went.

Coming up at dawn, battalion executive officer Major Odell M. Conoley was the first to discover how many able-bodied United States Marines it takes to hold a hill against two regiments of motivated, combat-hardened infantrymen who have never known defeat.

On a hill where the bodies were piled like cordwood, Mitchell Paige alone sat upright behind his 30-caliber Browning, waiting to see what the dawn would bring.

The hill had held, because on the hill remained the minimum number of able-bodied United States Marines necessary to hold the position.

And that's where the unstoppable wave of Japanese conquest finally crested, broke, and began to recede. On an unnamed jungle ridge on an insignificant island no one ever heard of, called Guadalcanal.

When the Hasbro Toy Co. called some years back, asking permission to put the retired colonel's face on some kid's doll, Mitchell Paige thought they must be joking.

But they weren't. That's his mug, on the little Marine they call "G.I. Joe." At least, it has been up till now.

Mitchell Paige's only condition? That G.I. Joe must always remain a United States Marine.

But don't worry. Far more important for our new movies not to offend anyone in Cairo or Karachi or Paris or Palembang.

After all, it's only a toy. It doesn't mean anything.

Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and author of the books "Send in the Waco Killers" and "The Black Arrow."

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27693  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: When you don't feel like fighting... on: October 30, 2007, 08:50:05 PM
"When I'm training and I don't feel like fighting ... I don't."

What he said  grin
27694  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 30, 2007, 04:59:29 PM
NY Times: Caveat lector

GARDEZ, Afghanistan — Afghan police officers working a highway checkpoint near here noticed something odd recently about a passenger in a red pickup truck. Though covered head to toe in a burqa, the traditional veil worn by Afghan women, she was unusually tall. When the police asked her questions, she refused to answer.

Skip to next paragraph
Tomas Munita for The New York Times
Afghan officials say Muhammad Kuzeubaev, 23, of Kazakhstan, is a bombmaker. He says he was visiting as a tourist.
VideoMore Video » When the veil was eventually removed, the police found not a woman at all, but Andre Vladimirovich Bataloff, a 27-year-old man from Siberia with a flowing red beard, pasty skin and piercing blue eyes. Inside the truck was 1,000 pounds of explosives.

Afghan and American officials say the Siberian intended to be a suicide bomber, one of several hundred foreign militants who have gravitated to the region to fight alongside the Taliban this year, the largest influx since 2001.

The foreign fighters are not only bolstering the ranks of the insurgency. They are more violent, uncontrollable and extreme than even their locally bred allies, officials on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border warn.

They are also helping to change the face of the Taliban from a movement of hard-line Afghan religious students into a loose network that now includes a growing number of foreign militants as well as disgruntled Afghans and drug traffickers.

Foreign fighters are coming from Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Chechnya, various Arab countries and perhaps also Turkey and western China, Afghan and American officials say.

Their growing numbers point to the worsening problem of lawlessness in Pakistan’s tribal areas, which they use as a base to train alongside militants from Al Qaeda who have carried out terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Europe, according to Western diplomats.

“We’ve seen an unprecedented level of reports of foreign-fighter involvement,” said Maj. Gen. Bernard S. Champoux, deputy commander for security of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. “They’ll threaten people if they don’t provide meals and support.”

In interviews in southern and eastern Afghanistan, local officials and village elders also reported having seen more foreigners fighting alongside the Taliban than in any year since the American-led invasion in 2001.

In Afghanistan, the foreigners serve as mid-level commanders, and train and finance local fighters, according to Western analysts. In Pakistan’s tribal areas, they train suicide bombers, create roadside-bomb factories and have vastly increased the number of high-quality Taliban fund-raising and recruiting videos posted online.

Gauging the exact number of Taliban and foreign fighters in Afghanistan is difficult, Western officials and analysts say. At any given time, the Taliban can field up to 10,000 fighters, they said, but only 2,000 to 3,000 are highly motivated, full-time insurgents.

The rest are part-time fighters, young Afghan men who have been alienated by government corruption, who are angry at civilian deaths caused by American bombing raids, or who are simply in search of cash, they said. Five to 10 percent of full-time insurgents — roughly 100 to 300 combatants — are believed to be foreigners.

Western diplomats say recent offers from the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, to negotiate with the Taliban are an effort to split local Taliban moderates and Afghans who might be brought back into the fold from the foreign extremists.

But that effort may face an increasing challenge as foreigners replace dozens of midlevel and senior Taliban who, Western officials say, have been killed by NATO and American forces.

At the same time, Western officials said the reliance on foreigners showed that the Taliban are running out of midlevel Afghan commanders. “That’s a sure-fire sign of desperation,” General Champoux said.

Seth Jones, an analyst with the Rand Corporation, was less sanguine, however, calling the arrival of more foreigners a dangerous development. The tactics the foreigners have introduced, he said, are increasing Afghan and Western casualty rates.

“They play an incredibly important part in the insurgency,” Mr. Jones said. “They act as a force multiplier in improving their ability to kill Afghan and NATO forces.”

Western officials said the foreigners are also increasingly financing younger Taliban leaders in Pakistan’s tribal areas who have closer ties to Al Qaeda, like Sirajuddin Haqqani and Anwar ul-Haq Mujahed. The influence of older, more traditional Taliban leaders based in Quetta, Pakistan, is diminishing.

“We see more and more resources going to their fellow travelers,” said Christopher Alexander, the deputy special representative for the United Nations in Afghanistan. “The new Taliban commanders are younger and younger.”

In the southern provinces of Oruzgan, Kandahar and Helmand, Afghan villagers recently described two distinct groups of Taliban fighters. They said “local Taliban” allowed some development projects. But “foreign Taliban” — usually from Pakistan — threatened to kill anyone who cooperated with the Afghan government or foreign aid groups.


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Hanif Atmar, the Afghan education minister, said threats from foreign Taliban have closed 40 percent of the schools in southern Afghanistan. He said many local Taliban oppose the practice, but foreign Taliban use brutality and cash to their benefit.

Skip to next paragraph VideoMore Video » “That makes our situation terribly complicated,” Mr. Atmar said. “Because they bring resources with them, their agenda takes precedence.”

Large groups of Pakistani militants operate in southern Afghanistan, according to Afghan officials. In the east, more Arab and Uzbek fighters are present.

Mr. Bataloff, the Russian arrested in a burqa, insists he is a religious student who traveled to Pakistan last year to learn more about his new faith. In an hourlong interview in an Afghan jail in Kabul, he said his interest in Islam blossomed three years ago when he was living in Siberia.

“First, I heard from TV, radio and newspapers about Islam,” he said in Russian. “I found Islam had a lot of good things, especially that Islam respects all prophets, including Jesus.”

But he declined to describe many details of his trip and grew angry when asked about his personal background. “Homicide and suicide is not allowed in any religion,” he said, when asked about the allegations against him. “Why are you asking me these questions?”

Mr. Bataloff said he grew up in Siberia, but would not identify his hometown or region. He said he could not remember the names of the Pakistanis he met or the two Afghan men who drove the pickup truck.

He said he decided to go to a predominantly Muslim country last fall to study Islam and learn about “the morals, the customs, the ethics and the literature.” He flew alone from Russia to Iran, he said, and met a Russian-speaking “guide” in the airport.

After spending 10 days in Iran, he crossed into Pakistan and traveled to North Waziristan, a remote tribal area that is a longtime Taliban and Qaeda stronghold. There, he spent a year living and studying in a small mosque in Mir Ali.

Pakistani security officials say the Islamic Jihad Union, a terrorist group led by militants from Uzbekistan, operates a training camp in Mir Ali.

[In mid-October, in some of the heaviest fighting in four years, the Pakistani military said 50 foreign fighters were among 200 militants reported killed in three days of clashes around Mir Ali. The dead foreigners were said to include mostly Uzbeks and Tajiks, as well as some Arabs, the army said.]

Some of the suspects arrested in a failed bombing plot in Germany in September received training in the tribal areas, according to German officials. Several men involved in the July 2005 London transit bombings and a failed August 2006 London airliner plot did as well.

Mr. Bataloff said he met no foreign militants in his 10 months in the tribal areas. But American military officials said he had told interrogators that he had attended a terrorist training camp in North Waziristan. He said local militants forced him to go to the camp and taught him how to fire an AK-47 assault rifle, the officials said.

“I didn’t have any specific teacher,” he said, when asked about Pakistanis he met there. “There were local people who knew the Koran.”

A second foreign prisoner produced by Afghan officials identified himself as Muhammad Kuzeubaev, a 23-year-old from Temirtau, Kazakhstan. Afghan officials said he was a bombmaker arrested in September in Badakhshan Province in northern Afghanistan.

In an interview, Mr. Kuzeubaev, who also spoke fluent Russian, said he was visiting Afghanistan as a tourist. “I was close to the border,” he said. “I thought I would go explore the country.”

In Badakhshan, he said, two Afghan men abducted him and demanded he join Al Qaeda. He agreed to do so fearing he would be killed, he said. That night, the men showed him parts of a suicide vest and promised to take him to Pakistan for training.

“They showed me the explosives, the vest and grenade,” said Mr. Kuzeubaev. “The next day, they brought some kind of weapons.”

Two days later, Afghan police officers surrounded the house and arrested him, he said. Afghan interrogators beat him, chained him to a wall and prevented him from sleeping for four days, he said.

“They are saying, ‘You are the man who was making the vests,’ ” said Mr. Kuzeubaev. “But the ammunition and other explosives were not mine.”
27695  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Umpad Corto-Kadena on: October 30, 2007, 04:39:09 PM
Thank you.
27696  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 30, 2007, 04:37:57 PM
Hamas Shows Off Body Parts at Press Conference
( According to the Bethlehem-based Maan news agency, Hamas terrorists held a press conference on Monday night claiming a victory over IDF soldiers in gunfights earlier in the day. Hamas leaders said terrorists had taught the soldiers “an unforgettable lesson.”
The terrorists displayed body parts during the press conference, claiming that the body parts belonged to Israeli soldiers who were wounded during the day. No IDF soldiers lost body parts in Gaza on Monday, and it is not clear who the body parts actually belonged to.
The press conference was held next to the Gaza home of Ahmed Abu Tahoun, one of the Hamas terrorists who was killed in Monday’s fighting. At least one other terrorist was killed, as was one IDF reservist.
No URL came to me with this, but the person who sent it to me I regard to be quite reliable and well-informed.
27697  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: October 30, 2007, 04:08:10 PM
War Plans: United States and Iran
By George Friedman

A possible U.S. attack against Iran has been a hot topic in the news for many months now. In some quarters it has become an article of faith that the Bush administration intends to order such an attack before it leaves office. It remains a mystery whether the administration plans an actual attack or whether it is using the threat of attack to try to intimidate Iran -- and thus shape its behavior in Iraq and elsewhere. Unraveling the mystery lies, at least in part, in examining what a U.S. attack would look like, given U.S. goals and resources, as well as in considering the potential Iranian response. Before turning to intentions, it is important to discuss the desired outcomes and capabilities. Unfortunately, those discussions have taken a backseat to speculations about the sheer probability of war.

Let's begin with goals. What would the United States hope to achieve by attacking Iran? On the broadest strategic level, the answer is actually quite simple. After 9/11, the United States launched counterstrikes in the Islamic world. The goal was to disrupt the al Qaeda core in order to prevent further attacks against the United States. The counterstrikes also were aimed at preventing the emergence of a follow-on threat from the Islamic world that would replace the threat that had been posed by al Qaeda. The disruption of all Islamic centers of power that have the ability and intent to launch terrorist attacks against the United States is a general goal of U.S. strategy. With the decline of Sunni radicalism, Iran has emerged as an alternative Shiite threat. Hence, under this logic, Iran must be dealt with.

Obviously, the greater the disruption of radically anti-American elements in the Islamic world, the better it is for the United States. But there are three problems here. First, the United States has a far more complex relationship with Iran than it does with al Qaeda. Iran supported the U.S. attack against the Taliban in Afghanistan as well as the U.S. invasion of Iraq -- for its own reasons, of course. Second, the grand strategy of the United States might include annihilating Islamic radicalism, but at the end of the day, maintaining the balance of power between Sunnis and Shia and between Arab and non-Arab Muslims is a far more practical approach. Finally, the question of what to do about Iran depends on the military capabilities of the United States in the immediate future. The intentions are shaped by the capabilities.

What, therefore, would the U.S. goals be in an attack against Iran? They divide into three (not mutually exclusive) strategies:

1. Eliminating Iran's nuclear program.
2. Crippling Iran by hitting its internal infrastructure -- political, industrial and military -- ideally forcing regime change that would favor U.S. interests.
3. Using an attack -- or threatening an attack -- to change Iranian behavior in Iraq, Lebanon or other areas of the world.

It is important to note the option that is not on the table: invasion by U.S. ground forces, beyond the possible use of small numbers of Special Operations forces. Regardless of the state of Iranian conventional forces after a sustained air attack, the United States simply does not have the numbers of ground troops needed to invade and occupy Iran -- particularly given the geography and topography of the country. Therefore, any U.S. attack would rely on the forces available, namely air and naval forces.

The destruction of Iran's nuclear capabilities would be the easiest to achieve, assuming that U.S. intelligence has a clear picture of the infrastructure of that program and that the infrastructure has not been hardened to the point of being invulnerable to conventional attack. Iran, however, learned a great deal from Iraq's Osirak experience and has spread out and hardened its nuclear facilities. Also, given Iran's location and the proximity of U.S. forces and allies, we can assume the United States would not be interested in a massive nuclear attack with the resulting fallout. Moreover, we would argue that, in a world of proliferation, it would not be in the interest of the United States to set a precedent by being the first use to use nuclear weapons since World War II.

Therefore, the U.S. option is to carry out precision strikes against Iran's nuclear program using air- and sea-launched munitions. As a threat, this is in an interesting option. As an actual operation, it is less interesting. First, the available evidence is that Iran is years away from achieving a deliverable nuclear weapon. Second, Iran might be more interested in trading its nuclear program for other political benefits -- specifically in Iraq. An attack against the country's nuclear facilities would make Tehran less motivated than before to change its behavior. Furthermore, even if its facilities were destroyed, Iran would retain its capabilities in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere in the world. Therefore, unless the United States believed there was an imminent threat of the creation of a deliverable nuclear system, the destruction of a long-term program would eliminate the long-term threat, but leave Iran's short-term capabilities intact. Barring imminent deployment, a stand-alone attack against Iran's nuclear capabilities makes little sense.

That leaves the second option -- a much broader air and sea campaign against Iran. This would have four potential components:

1. Attacks against its economic infrastructure, particularly its refineries.
2. Attacks against its military infrastructure.
3. Attacks against its political infrastructure, particularly its leadership.
4. A blockade and sanctions.

Let's begin in reverse order. The United States has the ability to blockade Iran's ports, limiting the importation of oil and refined products, as well as food. It does not have the ability to impose a general land blockade against Iran, which has long land borders, including with Iraq. Because the United States lacks the military capability to seal those borders, goods from around Iran's periphery would continue to flow, including, we emphasize, from Iraq, where U.S. control of transportation systems, particularly in the Shiite south, is limited. In addition, it is unclear whether the United States would be willing to intercept, board and seize ships from third-party countries (Russia, China and a large number of small countries) that are not prepared to participate in sanctions or might not choose to respect an embargo. The United States is stretched thin, and everyone knows it. A blockade could invite deliberate challenges, while enforcement would justify other actions against U.S. interests elsewhere. Any blockade strategy assumes that Iran is internationally isolated, which it is not, that the United States can impose a military blockade on land, which it cannot, and that it can withstand the consequences elsewhere should a third party use U.S. actions to justify counteraction, which is questionable. A blockade could hurt Iran's energy economy, but Iran has been preparing for this for years and can mitigate the effect by extensive smuggling operations. Ultimately, Iran is not likely to crumble unless the United States can maintain and strengthen the blockade process over a matter of many months at the very least.

Another option is a decapitation strike against Iran's leadership -- though it is important to recall how this strategy failed in Iraq at the beginning of the 2003 invasion. Decapitation assumes superb intelligence on the location of the leadership at a given time -- and that level of intelligence is hard to come by. Iraq had a much smaller political elite than Iran has, and the United States couldn't nail down its whereabouts. It also is important to remember that Iran has a much deeper and more diverse leadership structure than Iraq had. Iraq's highly centralized system included few significant leaders. Iran is more decentralized and thus has a much larger and deeper leadership cadre. We doubt the United States has the real-time intelligence capability to carry out such a broad decapitation strike.

The second option is an assault against the Iranian military. Obviously, the United States has the ability to carry out a very effective assault against the military's technical infrastructure -- air defense, command and control, aircraft, armor and so on. But the Iranian military is primarily an infantry force, designed for internal control and operations in mountainous terrain -- the bulk of Iran's borders. Once combat operations began, the force would disperse and tend to become indistinguishable from the general population. A counterpersonnel operation would rapidly become a counterpopulation operation. Under any circumstances, an attack against a dispersed personnel pool numbering in the high hundreds of thousands would be sortie intensive, to say the least. An air campaign designed to impose high attrition on an infantry force, leaving aside civilian casualties, would require an extremely large number of sorties, in which the use of precision-guided munitions would be of minimal value and the use of area weapons would be at a premium. Given the fog of war and intelligence issues, the ability to evaluate the status of this campaign would be questionable.

In our view, the Iranians are prepared to lose their technical infrastructure and devolve command and control to regional and local levels. The collapse of the armed forces -- most of whose senior officers and noncoms fought in the Iran-Iraq war with very flexible command and control -- is unlikely. The force would continue to be able to control the frontiers as well as maintain internal security functions. The United States would rapidly establish command of the air, and destroy noninfantry forces. But even here there is a cautionary note. In Yugoslavia, the United States learned that relatively simple camouflage and deception techniques were quite effective in protecting tactical assets. The Iranians have studied both the Kosovo war and U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and have extensive tactical combat experience themselves. A forced collapse from the air of the Iranian infantry capability -- the backbone of Iran's military -- is unlikely.

This leaves a direct assault against the Iranian economic infrastructure. Although this is the most promising path, it must be remembered that counterinfrastructure and counterpopulation strategic air operations have been tried extensively. The assumption has been that the economic cost of resistance would drive a wedge between the population and the regime, but there is no precedent in the history of air campaigns for this assumption. Such operations have succeeded in only two instances: Japan and Kosovo. In Japan, counterpopulation operations of massive proportions involving conventional weapons were followed by two atomic strikes. Even in that case, there was no split between regime and population, but a decision by the regime to capitulate. The occupation in Kosovo was not so much because of military success as diplomatic isolation. That isolation is not likely to happen in Iran.

In all other cases -- Britain, Germany, Vietnam, Iraq -- air campaigns by themselves did not split the population from the regime or force the regime to change course. In Britain and Vietnam, the campaigns failed completely. In Germany and Iraq (and Kuwait), they succeeded because of follow-on attacks by overwhelming ground forces.

The United States could indeed inflict heavy economic hardship, but history suggests that this is more likely to tighten the people's identification with the government -- not the other way around. In most circumstances, air campaigns have solidified the regime's control over the population, allowing it to justify extreme security measures and generating a condition of intense psychological resistance. In no case has a campaign led to an uprising against the regime. Moreover, a meaningful campaign against economic infrastructure would take some 4 million barrels per day off of the global oil market at a time when oil prices already are closing in on $100 a barrel. Such a campaign is more likely to drive a wedge between the American people and the American government than between the Iranians and their government.

For an air campaign to work, the attacking power must be prepared to bring in an army on the ground to defeat the army that has been weakened by the air campaign -- a tactic Israel failed to apply last summer in Lebanon. Combined arms operations do work, repeatedly. But the condition of the U.S. Army and Marines does not permit the opening of a new theater of operations in Iran. Most important, even if conditions did permit the use of U.S. ground forces to engage and defeat the Iranian army -- a massive operation simply by the size of the country -- the United States does not have the ability to occupy Iran against a hostile population. The Japanese and German nations were crushed completely over many years before an overwhelming force occupied them. What was present there, but not in Iraq, was overwhelming force. That is not an option for Iran.

Finally, consider the Iranian response. Iran does not expect to defeat the U.S. Air Force or Navy, although the use of mine warfare and anti-ship cruise missiles against tankers in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz should not be dismissed. The Iranian solution would be classically asymmetrical. First, they would respond in Iraq, using their assets in the country to further complicate the occupation, as well as to impose as many casualties as possible on the United States. And they would use their forces to increase the difficulty of moving supplies from Kuwait to U.S. forces in central Iraq. They also would try to respond globally using their own forces (the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), as well as Hezbollah and other trained Shiite militant assets, to carry out counterpopulation attacks against U.S. assets around the world, including in the United States.

If the goal is to eliminate Iran's nuclear program, we expect the United States would be able to carry out the mission. If, however, the goal is to compel a change in the Iranian regime or Iranian policy, we do not think the United States can succeed with air forces alone. It would need to be prepared for a follow-on invasion by U.S. forces, coming out of both Afghanistan and Iraq. Those forces are not available at this point and would require several years to develop. That the United States could defeat and occupy Iran is certain. Whether the United States has a national interest in devoting the time and the resources to Iran's occupation is unclear.

The United States could have defeated North Vietnam with a greater mobilization of forces. However, Washington determined that the defeat of North Vietnam and the defense of Indochina were not worth the level of effort required. Instead, it tried to achieve its ends with the resources it was prepared to devote to the mission. As a result, resources were squandered and the North Vietnamese flag flies over what was Saigon.

The danger of war is that politicians and generals, desiring a particular end, fantasize that they can achieve that end with insufficient resources. This lesson is applicable to Iran.

27698  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 30, 2007, 03:53:52 PM
U.S.: U.S. State Department investigators have offered immunity deals to the Blackwater security guards who were involved in a Sept. 16 shootout in Baghdad, Agence France-Presse reported, citing The New York Times and The Washington Post. The State Department officials reportedly do not have the authority to grant immunity, and the FBI officials who took over the investigation of Blackwater cannot use information obtained by the State Department to prosecute the guards.

IRAQ, U.S.: A delegation of Iraqi tribal leaders plans to visit Washington to propose to U.S. officials that former officers from the disbanded Iraqi army be reinstated, reported, citing Al-Malaf Press. Tribal leader Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha reportedly said the delegation will discuss ways to help Iraqi security forces become self-sufficient and face foreign challenges. He added that former Iraqi army officers can offer expertise in defending Iraq's borders.

IRAQ: The Iraqi Cabinet approved a draft law to end foreign security contractors' immunity from prosecution. The bill follows the Blackwater shooting incident on Sept. 16, when 17 Iraqis were killed, though the U.S. firm has said its guards acted lawfully. The legislation places foreign firms and those they employ under Iraqi law, an Iraqi government spokesman told Reuters. It also suggests requiring foreign security firms to register and apply for licenses to work in Iraq and proposes that all guards have weapons permits. Under the law, contractors with identity cards from the U.S. Defense Department would have to apply for entry visas. Further, it has been proposed that guards and the convoys they protect be subject to searches at Iraqi security checkpoints.

27699  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 30, 2007, 03:36:49 PM
Second post of the day:

Forwarded by David Gordon:
27700  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 30, 2007, 03:26:04 PM
Low Buzz May Give Mice Better Bones and Less Fat

Published: October 30, 2007
Clinton T. Rubin knows full well that his recent results are surprising — that no one has been more taken aback than he. And he cautions that it is far too soon to leap to conclusions about humans. But still, he says, what if ... ?

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FAT Abdominal scans of two mice show subcutaneous fat (gray) and visceral fat (red). The vibrated mouse, right, has less of both.

Less Fat in Vibrated Mice And no wonder, other scientists say. Dr. Rubin, director of the Center for Biotechnology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, is reporting that in mice, a simple treatment that does not involve drugs appears to be directing cells to turn into bone instead of fat.

All he does is put mice on a platform that buzzes at such a low frequency that some people cannot even feel it. The mice stand there for 15 minutes a day, five days a week. Afterward, they have 27 percent less fat than mice that did not stand on the platform — and correspondingly more bone.

“I was the biggest skeptic in the world,” Dr. Rubin said. “And I sit here and say, ‘This can’t possibly be happening.’ I feel like the credibility of my scientific career is sitting on a razor’s edge between ‘Wow, this is really cool,’ and ‘These people are nuts.’”

The responses to his work bear out that feeling. While some scientists are enthusiastic, others are skeptical.

The mice may be less fat after standing on the platform, these researchers say, but they are not convinced of the explanation — that fat precursor cells are turning into bone.

Even so, the National Institutes of Health is sufficiently intrigued to investigate the effect in a large clinical trial in elderly people, said Joan A. McGowan, a division director at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

Dr. McGowan notes that Dr. Rubin is a respected scientist and that her institute has helped pay for his research for the past 20 years, but she does caution against jumping to conclusions.

“I’d call it provocative,” she said of the new result. “It says, ‘Keep looking here; this is exciting.’ But it is crucial that we don’t oversell this.” For now, she added, “it is a fundamental scientific finding.”

The story of the finding, which was published online and will appear in the Nov. 6 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, began in 1981 when Dr. Rubin and his colleagues started asking why bone is lost in aging and inactivity.

“Bone is notorious for ‘use it or lose it,’” Dr. Rubin said. “Astronauts lose 2 percent of their bone a month. People lose 2 percent a decade after age 35. Then you look at the other side of the equation. Professional tennis players have 35 percent more bone in their playing arm. What is it about mechanical signals that makes Roger Federer’s arm so big?”

At first, he assumed that the exercise effect came from a forceful impact — the pounding on the leg bones as a runner’s feet hit the ground or the blow to the bones in a tennis player’s arm with every strike of the ball. But Dr. Rubin was trained as a biomechanical engineer, and that led him to consider other possibilities. Large signals can actually be counterproductive, he said, adding: “If I scream at you over the phone, you don’t hear me better. If I shine a bright light in your eyes, you don’t see better.”

Over the years, he and his colleagues discovered that high-magnitude signals, like the ones created by the impact as foot hits pavement, were not the predominant signals affecting bone. Instead, bone responded to signals that were high in frequency but low in magnitude, more like a buzzing than a pounding.

That makes sense, he went on, because muscles quiver when they contract, and that quivering is the predominant signal to bones. It occurs when people stand still, for example, and their muscles contract to keep them upright. As people age, they lose many of those postural muscles, making them less able to balance, more apt to fall and, perhaps, prone to loss of bone.

“Bone is bombarded with little, teeny signals from muscle contractions,” Dr. Rubin said.

He discovered that in mice, sheep and turkeys, at least, standing on a flat vibrating plate led to bone growth. Small studies in humans — children with cerebral palsy who could not move much on their own and young women with low bone density — indicated that the vibrations might build bone in people, too.

Dr. Rubin and his colleagues got a patent and formed a company to make the vibrating plates. But they and others caution that it is not known if standing on them strengthens bones in humans. Even if it does, no one knows the right dose. It is possible that even if there is an effect, people might overdose and make their bones worse instead of better.

Some answers may come from the federal clinical trial, which will include 200 elderly people in assisted living. It is being directed by Dr. Douglas P. Kiel, an osteoporosis researcher and director of medical research at the Institute for Aging Research at Harvard. The animal work made him hopeful that the buzzing platforms would have an effect on human bones.

“This work is fascinating and very legitimate,” Dr. Kiel said.

But then Dr. Rubin reported that the mice were also less fat, which led to the revised plans to look for changes in body fat as well.

Dr. Rubin says he decided to look at whether vibrations affect fat because he knows what happens with age: bone marrow fills with fat. In osteoporosis, the bones do not merely thin; their texture becomes lacy, and inside the holes is fat. And a few years ago, scientists discovered a stem cell in bone marrow that can turn into either fat or bone, depending on what signal it receives.

No one knows why the fat is in bone marrow — maybe it provides energy for failing bone cells, suggests Dr. Clifford J. Rosen, director of the Maine Center for Osteoporosis Research and Education. And no one knows whether human fat cells ever leave the bone marrow and take up residence elsewhere.

But Dr. Rubin had an idea. “We thought, Wait a second,” he said. “If we are mechanically stimulating cells to form bone, what isn’t happening? We thought maybe these bone progenitor cells are driving down a decision path. Maybe they are not becoming fat cells.”

He paid a visit to Jeffrey E. Pessin, a diabetes expert at Stony Brook, and presented his hypothesis. Dr. Pessin laughed uproariously. He “almost kicked me out of his office,” as Dr. Rubin put it.

But when Dr. Rubin decided to go ahead anyway, Dr. Pessin joined in. Their hope was to see a small effect on body fat after the mice stood on the platforms 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 15 weeks. Dr. Rubin was stunned by the 27 percent reduction.

“Talk about your jaw dropping,” he said.

Some obesity researchers, though, say there may be other reasons that the mice were less fat.

“It is a very intriguing paper,” said Claude Bouchard, an obesity researcher who is director of the Pennington Center for Biomedical Research at Louisiana State University. But he wondered whether the mice on the platform were simply burning more calories.

“It seems to me,” Dr. Bouchard said, “that putting myself in the body of a mouse, if I was on a platform that was vibrating 90 times a minute, I would try to adhere to the surface and not be thrown off. I would probably tense my legs a little bit. That is energy expenditure.”

Stress may be another factor, he added. Standing on the platform may have frightened the mice, and they might have become sick.

Dr. Rudolph L. Leibel, an obesity researcher who is co-director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University, had similar questions.

A platform that seems to be barely vibrating to a human could feel like an earthquake to a mouse, Dr. Leibel said, adding, “they could be scared to death,” which could affect the study data.

He also questioned the idea that precursor cells from bone marrow could turn into fat cells in the rest of the body, calling it “a contested and, I would say, incorrect notion.”

If the mice that stood on the platform became thinner and if they ate as much as mice that did not stand on the platform (as Dr. Rubin reported), they must be burning more calories, Dr. Leibel said.

Others are more hopeful.

“This is very, very cool,” said Dr. John B. Buse, a diabetes researcher at the University of North Carolina who is president for science and medicine at the American Diabetes Association. If it turned out to hold for people too, “it would be great for diabetes,” he added. He noted that people with Type 2 diabetes were likely not only to be overweight but also to have problems with their bones.

Still, Dr. Buse awaits more definitive studies in humans.

“It is almost too good to be true,” he said.

NY Times
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